“We don’t have another place to go”

Dispossession, Settler Violence, & Resistance in Masafer Yatta

Occupied Thoughts, Foundation for Middle East Peace, 1/12/2022

"We don't have another place to go:" Dispossession, Settler Violence, & Resistance in Masafer YattaIn this episode of Occupied Thoughts, FMEP's Sarah Anne Minkin speaks with activist and author Ali Awad about the threats of dispossession and state-backed settler violence facing Palestinians in the Masafer Yatta area of the South Hebron Hills.

Ali's most recent article, co-authored with Awdah Hathaleen, describes extreme violence against a village elder in a non-violent protest in Masafer Yatta: "Israeli police shattered this Palestinian elder’s bones — and drove away."


  • Ali Awad is an activist from the village of Tuba in the South Hebron Hills.
  • Sarah Anne Minkin, PhD, is FMEP’s Director of Programs & Partnerships.
  • Original music by Jalal Yaquoub

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Our Tax Dollars at Work: Destroying a Palestinian Family’s Home and Livelihood

Al Fakheit is one of 12 villages located in the Masafer Yatta area that Israel claims as Firing Zone 918. The Palestinians living in these villages have fought a long legal battle to remain in their homes. On January 3 the Abu Sabha family lost their last legal appeal in an Israeli court.

The Abu Sabha family’s home and barn

Mohammed, the father of the family, was born in the village, in a cave home that is over a century old. In the 1990s Mohammed built tents for his family near the home, and in 2016 he built two homes, all on his privately owned land. Eighteen people lived in these homes. On January 3 the Israeli army issued demolition orders for these homes.

The Abu Sabha family’s animal barns

Members of the Abu Sabha family outside their home learn on January 3 that their legal appeals are exhausted.

On the morning of January 12 the Israeli Civil Administration arrived in the village with border police and bulldozers, and demolished 8 Palestinians structures including homes, two sheep barns, and a water well, leaving several families homeless and without shelter from the weather.

Israeli border police force families back from their homes on January 12.

Israeli forces confront a woman whose home is being demolished.

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Omar Assad, a long-time Milwaukee resident, found dead in West Bank after detention by Israeli soldiers

His family wants an investigation

Mourners carry the body of Omar Assad during his funeral in the West Bank village of Jiljiliya, north of Ramallah, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. Israel is investigating after Assad, a Palestinian with U.S. citizenship died after being detained by Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank.
Mourners carry the body of Omar Assad during his funeral in the West Bank village of Jiljiliya, north of Ramallah, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. Israel is investigating after Assad, a Palestinian with U.S. citizenship, died after being detained by Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank. (Associated Press)

Sarah Volpenhein, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 14, 2022

Milwaukee's Islamic community is mourning the death of a Palestinian-American man who lived much of his life in Milwaukee and was found dead Wednesday in the West Bank after being detained by Israeli soldiers.

In a Wednesday press conference, the U.S. State Department confirmed the man's death, identifying him as Omar Assad, and voiced its support for a "thorough investigation into the circumstances" of his death. Assad, 78, was a United States citizen.

"Our family is devastated and heartbroken," Hala Hamad, one of his daughters, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "It leaves a hole in all of us. The pain of losing him is compounded because we know what he endured in his last hours."

Assad lived in the U.S. for about 40 years. He spent most of that time in the Milwaukee area before returning to the West Bank in 2009, his younger brother Nawaff Assad told the Journal Sentinel.

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Palestinian-American man, 80, found dead after Israeli raid in West Bank

Men stand next to a poster announcing the death of Omar Asad in the village of Jiljilya

BBC News Services, January 13, 2022

Omar Asad's relatives say he was out in his village of Jiljilya until late and was returning home when he was detained using rough treatment.

According to Palestinian health officials, he died of a heart attack.

The US says he was an American citizen and has asked Israel for clarification.

The Israeli military say a man was detained in the area after resisting a check, and that he was later released.

Locals say Omar Asad was one of several villagers stopped by Israeli soldiers after they entered Jiljilya, near Ramallah, in the early hours of Wednesday.

Palestinian news agency Wafa cited the head of the village council, Fouad Moutee, as saying that the 80-year-old had been driving home after visiting relatives when soldiers stopped his car, blindfolded him, bound him and led him away to a building under construction.

Mr Asad was found dead in the building after the soldiers withdrew, Mr Moutee added. A plastic zip-tie was reportedly still around one of his wrists.

A local doctor, Islam Abu Zaher, told Reuters news agency he had tried to resuscitate Mr Asad but found no pulse. He said there were no obvious signs of injury and that the cause of death was unclear.

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ADC Statement on Sanctioned Israeli Murder of Palestinian American

ADC Statement on Sanctioned Israeli Murder of Palestinian American

Washington, D.C. | www.adc.org | January 13, 2022 – The American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) extends its deepest condolences to the family of Arab-American Omar Abdalmajeed As’ad, who was murdered by Israeli forces on Wednesday January 12, 2022. The news of his death is a devastating and sad reminder of the constant Israeli aggression against Palestinians simply trying to live their lives. Mr. As’ad lived most of his life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and moved to the West Bank a decade ago. As’ad was detained on Wednesday around 3am during a security check, and found later that day unresponsive with a zip tie around his hands by a neighbor walking by. The circumstances surrounding his death are unclear at best, incredibly suspicious at worst. Mr. As’ad was found like one would find a piece of garbage, astonishingly similar to the victims of the U.S.’s many serial killers.

This murder comes as no surprise, as Israeli forces have continued the illegal detention of Palestinians and murder of innocent children over the past several months. It is important to remember that Israel receives the largest amount of foreign aid- paid by our tax dollars- without any human rights conditions. A country that continues to violate international and human rights laws should not be receiving a blank check from our tax dollars.

The State Department has asked for “clarification” of Mr. As’ad’s death- however, they have not explained what they exactly mean by that. The State Department should demand a more thorough investigation as we demand full transparency. Mr. As’ad was an American citizen and his family deserves the dignity of the truth as to what happened that night. The State Department has failed over and over again to provide answers for Israel’s human rights violations, and that needs to end now.

Israel continues to be a colonial, apartheid state that oppresses Palestinians with illegal detentions, house demolitions, lack of water access, suppressed movement, and unjust murders. A state like this will not be honest or truthful in its actions. “The IDF will investigate this event in a thorough and professional manner, acting in line with our values and protocols,” said spokesperson Lt. Col. Amnon Shefler in a statement to the Washington Post. Yet as we have seen, the values and protocols displayed by the IDF are anything but honorable.

ADC will continue to advocate on behalf of Mr. As’ad and monitor any breaking updates.

Elderly Palestinian-American dies after violent arrest by Israeli forces

Eyewitnesses say Omar Muhammad Asaad, 80, was driving home when he was stopped by soldiers, dragged out of the car, assaulted and left lying unconscious on the ground

Abd al-Ilah Asaad holding a photo of his cousin Omar Muhammad Asaad, 80, who died on Wednesday morning (Shatha Hammad/MEE)

Shatha Hammad, Middle East Eye, 12 January 2022

An elderly Palestinian with US citizenship died of a heart attack on Wednesday morning after he was violently detained by Israeli soldiers during a raid on Jaljulia village, north of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, his family said. 

Omar Muhammad Asaad, 80, was driving home after midnight when soldiers stopped him, dragged him out of the car and assaulted him before leaving him lying unconscious on the ground, eyewitnesses told the family. 

Abd al-Ilah Asaad, Omar’s cousin, told Middle East Eye he spent the night with Omar at a family house nearby. At around 2am, Omar left to go to his home in the village, where he was arrested by Israeli forces, Abd al-Ilah said.

Two young men who were detained in the same location as Omar told the family that he was pulled out of the car and dragged for about 200 meters. Soldiers aggressively handled Omar, handcuffed him, gagged his mouth and forced him to lie on his stomach, they added. 

Later, when the Israeli forces withdrew, the two young men found Omar on the ground with the plastic handcuffs untied and “showing no signs of life”. 

The two young men then rushed Omar to the village’s clinic. Doctors tried to resuscitate him but it was too late, they said. He was pronounced dead shortly after. 

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#Palestine: Violations of Palestinian Digital Rights in 2021

The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media (7amleh), 2022-01-10

1,033 violations of Palestinian digital
rights on social media platforms

Development and use of surveillance and spyware technologies by Israeli authorities against Palestinians

Use of technologies to hack the mobile phones of Palestinian citizens by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas

7amleh – the Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media released on Tuesday, 11 January 2022, its seventh annual report “Hashtag Palestine,” illuminating the digital rights violations of Palestinians and pro-Palestinian advocates online, at the hands of the three authorities as well as different social media companies in relation to the escalations and developments on the ground. 

The report, in its seventh edition, shows the continuation and escalation in Israeli violations of Palestinian digital rights. According to the report, use of surveillance technologies significantly increased, evident in the proposal of an Israeli law to allow the use of facial-recognition cameras in public spaces. Similarly, a former Israeli officer revealed organised efforts to spy on Palestinian phone calls, indicating the Israeli authorities’ ability to access all calls conducted between Palestinians. Furthermore, the Israeli manufactured “Pegasus” spyware, developed by the Israeli “NSO Group,” was identified on the phones of 6 Palestinian human rights defenders and workers in Palestinian rights organisations and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Additionally, in line with the Israeli authorities’ efforts to restrict Palestinian content online, the Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation recently approved the first draft of the “Facebook Law,” which would allow the Israeli Public Prosecution to refer to the Israeli courts to issue binding decisions to remove any content online, which would have serious repercussions on Palestinian digital rights.

As for Israeli incitement online, the “Hashtag Palestine 2021” report illustrates the continuation of Israeli incitement, both official and unofficial, against Palestinians in the media and on social media platforms. According to the “Index of Racism and Incitement” issued by 7amleh in June, incitement in Hebrew against Arabs and Palestinians increased by 15 times during the aggression on the Gaza Strip and the events of May 2021, compared to the same period in 2020.

Regarding the Palestinian Authority and De-Facto Authority of the Gaza Strip (Hamas), violations came as part of a larger assault on the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The report presents cases of arbitrary detention, summonses on the basis of political activity, and even smear and extortion campaigns on similar grounds. The situation also remains critical in the occupied territory regarding privacy and data protection, as the above authorities continue to infringe the privacy of users, especially in the absence of legislation enshrining the right to privacy and data protection, and in light of the Israeli authorities’ control over the information communication technology (ICT) infrastructure in the occupied Palestinian Territory.

At the level of technology companies, the events of May 2021 perhaps best highlighted the extent of censorship of Palestinian human rights and political content, as well as critiques of Israeli violations against the Palestinians. Social media platforms increased censorship of Palestinian content, and in less than two weeks, deleted, suspended and restricted hundreds of posts related to Palestine. 7amleh documented more than 1,000 violations across different platforms, with Facebook and Instagram atop the list of the most violating platforms, the report said. 7amleh also reported that Twitter and Tik Tok were more responsive to reports of violations by the center than Meta.

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Born of war: How a Palestinian woman responds to trauma through art

Malak Mattar was 13 and living under Israeli bombardment in Gaza when she decided to direct her ‘negative energy’ into painting

Indlieb Farazi Saber, Middle East Eye, 5 January 2022


Jewish Voice for Peace, January 4, 2022

We are overjoyed that he will return to his family and moved by his courage and perseverance in the face of unjust detention. He is continuing his hunger strike until he sees the signature of release on his documents. Hopefully, he can end the strike soon and make a full and swift recovery 🙏

Hisham abu Hawash began striking 141 days ago to protest his indefinite detention by Israel without charge or trial. His resistance is testimony to Israel’s failure to break Palestinians’ will and to suppress their struggle for freedom and justice.

We will continue to fight for the end of administrative detention and the release of all Palestinian political prisoners. #FreeThemAll