Why Was Harun Abu Aram Shot?

Help Harun Abu Aram Heal

Rebuilding Alliance is organizing this fundraiser and will be working with the family to meet their needs. They are a U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works to realize a just and enduring peace in Palestine and Israel founded upon equal rights, equal security, and equal opportunity for all.

Hamed Qawasmeh, Breaking the Silence, Jan 3, 2021

On Friday, IDF forces arrived at a Palestinian village in the South Hebron Hills and confiscated a generator. In the scuffle that followed – a video of which can be seen below – Harun Abu Aram was shot in the neck by the soldiers. He was not shot for attacking or threatening the soldiers; he was simply trying to prevent them from taking the generator.

Abu Aram probably understood that he was taking a risk by intervening. He knew the soldiers wouldn’t just let him take the generator back. But village residents depended on that generator; getting by without it would be hard at the best of times, let alone at the height of winter. This is particularly true in the handful of villages in the South Hebron Hills in an area known as Massafer Yatta, which has been declared ‘Firing Zone 918’, an area that has been designated for IDF training. Even though many of the Palestinian families in those villages have lived there since before the State of Israel was even established, they are now on the verge of being evicted from their own land. In the meantime, the residents have been subject to constant harassment by Israeli security forces. In fact, Abu Aram’s house was demolished on the IDF Civil Administration’s orders less than two months ago.

This is no coincidence. Documents exposed by עקבות Akevot show that since the 80s, Israel has been making a concerted effort to establish its presence in strategic areas in the occupied territories through a variety of methods – including the creation of IDF training zones. (We wrote about it in the past here.)

So it’s clear this isn’t just about a fight over a generator; it’s about policy and facts on the ground.

Pro-occupationists would probably say that Abu Aram and his family had it coming to them — they shouldn’t be living there without building permits in the first place, they tell us. But who decides who gets the permits? None other than the IDF’s Civil Administration, the unelected military body in charge of the day to day governance of the West Bank. And an investigation carried out last year found that 98% of Palestinian requests for building permits were rejected (see article in comments). Is there any doubt whose side they’re on?

All of this takes place on the backdrop of two weeks of violent riots in Jerusalem and across the occupied territories by settlers attacking Palestinians and Israeli police in response to the death of a settler teen killed while fleeing from the police after allegedly throwing stones at Palestinians. On Friday, human rights organization Yesh Din said that they’d documented 25 incidents of violence against Palestinians in the West Bank alone, and there were more over the weekend.

In a healthy democracy, you’d perhaps expect the country’s leadership to condemn such violence. But when it comes to settlers, not only are they not condemned; if anything, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Internal Security Minister Amir Ohana went out of their way to embrace the family of the settler, to signal to the Israeli right that they’re sympathetic to the settlers’ concerns. Election day is fast approaching, after all.

But when it comes to Palestinians, trying to stop soldiers taking a generator can get you paralyzed.

That’s just another part of life under occupation.

Update: December 3, 2020 Rep. Mark Pocan Virtual Town Hall on Palestine

Please thank Rep. Pocan for participating in the town hall and for being a champion for Palestinian rights. His DC office line is (202) 225-2906.

The town hall was an amazing event that you don’t want to miss. The situation for Palestinians is so dire in so many ways, and hearing their stories directly should spur us all to action.

It’s not easy for Members of Congress to take a principled position on Palestinian rights, but Congressman Pocan has been on the frontlines despite the risks and pushback. In his town hall speech, he lists some of the amazing initiatives he’s led or participated in on Capitol Hill related to Palestinian rights just this year, and the list is admirable. Please take a minute to call his office and show appreciation for all he’s done.

Thanks for your activism,

Raed Jarrar
Advocacy Director, American Muslims for Palestine

Rep. Mark Pocan will be holding a virtual town hall this Thursday, December 3 at 9:30 am CT on Palestine, covering the impact of COVID-19 in Gaza and demolitions in the West Bank.

Co-organized by American Muslims for Palestine and the Rebuilding Alliance, the town hall features these on-the-ground speakers:

  • Eid Abu Khamis Jahalin, a community leader for his village of Khan Al Ahmar.
  • Alon Cohen-Lifshitz, an architect and urban planner who leads Bimkom’s activities in the West Bank.
  • Dr. Yasser Abu-Jamei, Executive Director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme.
  • Dr. Ahmed Mhanna, General Director Of Al Awda Hospital.

Please consider attending, and thank Rep. Pocan for his outstanding leadership on Palestine.

Urgent news from Sheikh Jarrah

November 13, 2020

I’m writing with some urgent news from East Jerusalem that hits very close to home – we’ve just received word that new eviction orders have been issued to four families in the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, and they may be forcibly removed as early as Saturday.

Sadly, this is a story we’re intimately familiar with. Sheikh Jarrah was home to Just Vision’s first office and we witnessed the devastating takeover of the neighborhood by right-wing settlers, backed by the Israeli courts and police, over the course of years. The experience of this Palestinian community was chronicled in our 2012 short documentary, My Neighbourhood, and the El-Kurd family – whose teenage son Mohammed sat at the heart of the film – is one of the four who may find themselves homeless in the midst of a pandemic in just a few short days.

Mohammed is watching the heart-breaking developments from his apartment in New York, unable to get home due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, and is asking that we share this story far and wide. You can read his personal appeal – which has more context – below.

While the cases in Sheikh Jarrah are thinly veiled as a legal matter, the political motivations are clear. This latest round of evictions is part of a broader attempt by the Israeli state to forcibly displace Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The process is methodical and impacts thousands of lives on a daily basis. In the past month alone, Israel hid under the US election media frenzy to undertake the largest demolition of Palestinian homes and structures in a decade, and just yesterday, announced a new settlement, Givat Hamatos, that would effectively cut East Jerusalem off from Bethlehem.

This all happens under the United States’ watch – subsequent US administrations have done little to hold the Israeli government to account, and the latest administration has given a carte-blanche for unjust activity like this.

Israeli courts could determine the fate of the El-Kurd family, and several others, in a matter of days. And while the families are appealing the decision, their chances of success are extremely low.

With the courts and police working in lockstep with Israeli settler organizations, Sheikh Jarrah is calling on those in the international community who are concerned about what’s happening to help raise visibility and apply pressure to halt the evictions. Will you share this widely with your networks?

Thank you, and if you have suggestions of ways to amplify this story, please be in touch.

With determination,

Suhad Babaa
Executive Director, Just Vision


From: Mohammed El-Kurd
Subject: Critical Update from Sheikh Jarrah
Date: November 13, 2020 at 2:58:46 PM EST

Hello friends,

I’m reaching out because my family’s home in Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem, is facing the imminent danger of forced, legally baseless eviction by the Israeli government and settler organizations, alongside 11 other families.

On the 22nd of October, the Israeli magistrate court ruled to evict four Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah—Jaouni, Iskafi, al-Qasim, and my own. The Israeli court also ruled that each family must pay 70,000 shekels in fines and fees to cover the Israeli settlers’ legal expenses. This ruling means that on November 21st, we will lose our homes. Our lives hang in the balance as the Israeli courts determine whether they will hear our appeal.

The Israeli court has continually refused to discuss the land ownership or interrogate the validity of the settler organizations’ claims on a legal technicality. As a result, the court has disregarded documents demonstrating Palestinian ownership of the land, which pre-date those provided by the settler organizations. The likelihood that our appeal will change the current outcome is extremely low.

As some of you may already know, Israeli settlers—backed by Israeli courts and police—have been relentless in stealing our homes in Sheikh Jarrah for decades. Sheikh Jarrah was built in 1956 by UNRWA and Jordanian government after families like mine were made refugees in the Nakba. In 2009, the homes of Ghawi and Hannoun families, as well as half of my home, were taken by settlers under the protection of the Israeli military and police. Today, a total of 12 out of the remaining 24 Palestinian families who live in Sheikh Jarrah are on the brink of homelessness (87 persons, including 30 children).

I’ve been on the phone with my parents a few times since I heard the news. Their response is like that of tens of thousands of Palestinians facing dispossession: we won’t leave. But this resilience isn’t enough to keep their roofs over their heads. We must act fast.

As we know, the Israeli judicial system is created by and for Israeli settlers that benefit endlessly from Israel’s settler-colonial regime. Our lawyers are doing the best they can, but the courts are stacked against us despite our historical ties to the land.

Continue reading

What Comes First, an Israeli Army Firing Zone or Palestinian Villages?


Palestinians in the southern Hebron mountains Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Amira Hass, Haaretz, 03/08/2020

Next Monday the justices of the High Court of Justice will discuss the State of Israel’s demand to destroy eight Palestinian hamlets in the southern West Bank. I should say: will once again discuss, because the government’s demand is not new.

For about 40 years the Israel Defense Forces and the Civil Administration did everything in their power to make these communities disappear, while they, in their heroic and prolonged battle against the order to become extinct, also turned to legal channels and to petitions. In military Hebrew, the area designated for demolition and the eviction of its Palestinian residents is known as Firing Zone 918. In ordinary Arabic and Hebrew it is Masafer Yatta.

Now the High Court justices are being asked to decide once and for all what comes first: an area for military training exercises, or an ancient fabric of life and relations between a city and the villages that grew up around it.

The “what comes first” is a question of chronology, principle and ethics. Israel claims that the firing zone was declared as such in 1980 and the residents are “illegal squatters” who settled there afterwards. The geo-historical facts, which are not subject to dates, maps and the overt and covert intentions of the occupying power, indicate otherwise.

The rural roots of the city of Yatta, already in the Ottoman period, are not in doubt. Sheep herding and agriculture were the basis of its existence and the cultural heritage of its families. Its expansion and the urbanization process it has undergone are natural phenomena. In the second half of the 19th century there were about 2,000 residents. Today there are almost 70,000. The overall area of its land, which was recognized and determined long before 1967, is 170,000 dunams.

The constant increase in the number of residents and the size of the flocks led to the creation of rural offshoots, by people searching for more available land for grazing and planting, and additional sources of water or a place to dig a new cistern to collect rainwater.

In Yatta, like everywhere in the country, they remained in the distant location for several days and weeks, depending on the season, the calving and the sheep shearing. Natural caves were sometimes adapted for residential purposes. Gradually the seasonal offshoot became permanent.

The familial, economic and social links to the village of origin – now town – have been maintained. But over time every community also develops its own characteristics independently. How much beauty is contained in this geo-human continuum, and in the universal nature of the process, which can be identified all over the globe.

Israel operated and operates in a variety of methods to cut off this natural Palestinian continuum. Declaring a firing zone is one of them. Other methods are the prohibition on connecting to the water grid, eviction notices and actual eviction, a prohibition against building schools and clinics and bathrooms – and their demolition, confiscating tractors and water pipe, blocking roads, a refusal to prepare master plans, or preparing limited master plans that don’t allow for genuine development.

All these methods were also tried and are being tried on the dozens of natural offshoots of Yatta, which were created before 1948, and in which thousands of people are living. And so, in an unnatural manner, the number of people in each community has remained limited.

At first “918” covered 32,000 dunams of Yatta’s land. Over the years about 7,000 dunams have been subtracted from it. That is precisely the area in which several Israeli outposts cropped up and swelled, and some settlements expanded.

Israel is now offering a generous “plan,” in its opinion: for the shepherds and farmers to abandon their villages, and come to cultivate their land and use it for grazing only on weekends and Jewish holidays. The government is also considering enabling them to come for another two months a year, when intensive cultivation or grazing is needed.

As we can conclude from its response to the villagers’ petitions, the government expects justices Esther Hayut, Uzi Vogelman and Hanan Melcer to decide that the Jews always come first. That it’s always kosher, suitable and proper to erase the natural human-geographical continuum of the Palestinian communities.

Continue reading

Israel issues demolition notice for Palestinian cave home

‘I didn’t make the cave. It has existed since antiquity,’ says Ahmed Amarneh from West Bank village of Farasin

Ahmed Amarneh and a neighbor chat outside his home, built in a cave in the village of Farasin, west of Jenin, in the northern West Bank on August 4, 2020. (Photo by JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP)Ahmed Amarneh and a neighbor chat outside his home, built in a cave in the village of Farasin, west of Jenin, in the northern West Bank on August 4, 2020. (Photo by JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP)

Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Times of Israel, 10 August 2020

Ahmed Amarneh’s home, with a wooden door opening onto cushion-lined rooms, is not the first Palestinian residence in the West Bank to receive a demolition notice from Israel.

But it may be the first built inside a cave that the Jewish state threatened to destroy.

Amarneh, a 30-year-old civil engineer, lives with his family in the northern West Bank village of Farasin, where Israel requires permits for any new residential construction and can tear down homes built without approval.

“I tried twice to build (a house), but the occupation authorities told me it was forbidden to build in the area,” Amarneh told AFP, using a term for Israel used by some Palestinians.

The Oslo peace accords of the 1990s gave the Palestinians self-rule in parts of the West Bank.

However, some 60 percent of the territory, dubbed Area C, where Farasin is located, remains under full Israeli civil and military control.

Israel has allocated land there for construction of settlements.

Convinced he would never get Israeli approval to build a home in his village, Amarneh set his sights on a cave in the foothills overlooking Farasin.

Amarneh said he figured that as an ancient, natural formation, Israel could not possibly argue that the cave was illegally built, while the Palestinian Authority (PA) agreed to register the land in his name.

Ahmed Amarneh (R), and family members sit on cushions at his home built in a cave, in the village of Farasin, west of Jenin, in the northern West Bank on August 4, 2020. (JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP)

‘I didn’t make the cave’

Amarneh, whose handyman skills are considerable, sealed the entrance to the cave with a stone wall and installed a wooden door at its center. Continue reading

Groundbreaking Call to Prevent US Aid for Palestinian Demolition

US FUNDS AND EQUIPMENT USED TO DISPLACE COMMUNITIES IN THE OCCUPIED WEST BANK

J Street, March 16, 2020

J Street welcomes a groundbreaking congressional letter that calls on the Trump administration to strongly oppose the Israeli government’s demolition and displacement of Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank, and to determine whether materiel purchased from or funded by the United States is being used to carry out these demolitions. The letter is particularly important in light of the White House’s signals of support for Israeli government efforts to illegally annex large portions of occupied Palestinian territory.

The letter to Secretary of State Pompeo is signed by 64 members of Congress and was led by Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Steve Cohen (D-TN). Expressing concern over ongoing demolitions in the West Bank, it notes that the United States “should work to prevent unlawful home demolitions and the forcible transfer of civilians everywhere in the world and prevent the use of U.S.-origin equipment in this destructive practice,” and requests an examination of Israeli compliance with the provisions of the Arms Export Control Act.

We believe this letter sends an important message that the full amount of US security aid and equipment provided to and purchased by Israel should be used for legitimate self-defense against the very real security threats it faces — and not to carry out disastrous policies that undermine US and Israeli interests, trample on Palestinian human rights and potentially violate US law.

Homes Demolished in South Hebron Hills


Hello friends,

On the morning of February 27 Israeli forces arrived in the small Palestinian village of Isfaiy and used a bulldozer to demolish a barn for sheep and goats. They then drove to the small cluster of houses that is the village of al Rakeez, South Hebron Hills, and demolished two homes, leaving three families homeless.

The villages are part of an area claimed by Israel as firing zone 918 and used for war games and training. Residents of the area have been fighting in court for years for the right to remain in their homes, meanwhile it is impossible for them to obtain building permits from Israel, and Israeli authorities frequently arrive in the area to deliver stop working and demolition orders for homes, agricultural buildings, schools and mosques.

Israeli authorities have demolished more than 30 Palestinian structures during the month of February, including the unrecognized Bedouin village of al Araqib which has been demolished 174th times since 2010.

HAPPENING NOW: Israeli armed forces are demolishing a Palestinian house in Ar Rakeez village, south Hebron hills

Posted by Operation Dove on Thursday, February 27, 2020

 
Thank you so much for caring about the daily lives and struggles of the people who live here.

Israeli Military Confiscates School in Susiya


Video Link

Good Shepherd Collective, February 19, 2020

This morning, the Israeli military entered the village of Susiya with a bulldozer in order to confiscate a small, one-room building that served as the children’s school. As you watch the video, consider the perspective of the Palestinian GSC leader who took this video.

After waking up early in the morning to prepare for the possibility of demolitions today, Wednesday, one of the two busiest days of the week for the military and Civil Administration, you are called from your own humble home in the hills of South Hebron to head to Susiya, where the building that serves as an educational space for over twenty children is under immediate threat. When you arrive, you find an entire portion of the village–a village you know well, where you often relax and drink tea with your friends who are residents in the small, quiet space, and play with the little children–swarming with soldiers armed with semi-automatic weapons and gear that looks like they are prepared for a riot. Instead, they are met with distressed, angry, and frightened women, children, and men.

As you prepare to document the disproportionately dramatic removal of this simple space, you are conscious of the fact that only feet away are heavily armed soldiers, watching as you document and waiting for you to make the wrong move. They don’t like that you’re there. Although they have arrived, uninvited, armed with weaponry and the bureaucracy to take away an entire educational facility today, they are searching for violence in the faces and bodies of those from whom they are confiscating. With this in mind, you move slowly and speak in their language, keeping things as calm as possible.

This is the work our leaders on the ground are engaged in every week, sometimes throughout the entire day, starting before dawn. As they document and gather information about demolitions and confiscations, they must push aside their own worries that tomorrow, it could be their family’s school or community center that is taken away or destroyed. The structural oppression within the Israeli zoning and planning regime, and the total rejection of international law in practice, makes all Palestinians in Area C distinctly aware that we are all under near-constant threat of demolition, confiscation, destruction, and violence.

Israeli Occupation Forces Kill 3 and Destroy Home in Less than 24 Hours

February 6, 2020

The newest Israeli killing of Palestinians under its policy of excessive use of force, the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) killed 3 Palestinians and wounded 8 others in less than 24 hours in Jenin and Hebron, north and south of the West Bank. Of the Palestinians killed, 2, including a policeman, were shot and killed during an IOF raid into Jenin to demolish a prisoner’s house, for the second time. This falls under the Israeli policy of collective punishment employed against families of Palestinians accused of carrying out attacks against Israeli soldiers and/or settlers. Meanwhile, the third Palestinian was killed by an Israeli sniper in a protest in Hebron.

According to PCHR investigations, at approximately 1:30 on Thursday, 06 February 2020, IOF, backed by 20 military and construction vehicles, moved into al-Basateen neighborhood north of Jenin. The soldiers were deployed among civilian houses and topped the roofs of some while 30 of them raided Palestinian prisoner, Ahmed Jamal Ahmed al-Qumbo’s, house (220 sqm, home to 8 persons, including 2 children) to execute a demolition order issued by an Israeli court 48 hours prior. Al-Qumbo’ has been arrested since 17 January 2018, and the house was built only 9 months ago following IOF’s earlier demolition. The soldiers did a thorough search of the house with a large number of police dogs; afterwards, the Israeli bulldozers proceeded to level the house to the ground. During the demolition, a number of Palestinian civilians gathered and threw stones and empty bottles at IOF military vehicles present at the scene. Immediately, IOF responded with live and rubber bullets and toxic tear gas canisters; the situation quickly escalated. As a result of the Israeli shooting, 2 Palestinians were killed, one on the spot and the other succumbed to his wounds hours later, and 7 were wounded. The two killed were identified as 1. Yazan Monther Khaled Abu-Tabykh (19), a university student from Wad Bourqin area west of Jenin, was shot with a live bullet in the chest and killed immediately; and 2. Tariq Loay Ahmed Badwan (24), a Palestinian police officer from Qalqiliyah, was shot with a live bullet in the abdomen while inside the police station. He was transferred to the hospital where his condition was classified as critical and he was pronounced dead at 11:40 on Thursday.

It should be noted that IOF detonated prisoner al-Qumbo’s house for the first time on 24 April 2019, under the pretext of being charged with involvement in the killing of an Israeli settler, Arail Shefeh, from “Hefat Gilad” settlement, southwest of Nablus, on 09 January 2018.

At approximately 16:00 on Wednesday, 05 February 2020, an Israeli sniper stationed on a building’s roof near Israeli Military Checkpoint (56) established on al-Shuhada’a Street, fired 3 live bullets at Mohammed Salman Ta’mah al-Haddad (17) from a distance of 100 meters as Mohammed was near an old market, 50 meters away from the checkpoint’s entrance. As a result, Mohammed was shot and injured with a live bullet in the heart and fell on the ground. A number of young men managed to reach Mohammed and transferred him via an ambulance to Hebron Governmental Hospital. Few minutes later, doctors pronounced Mohammed’s death after being shot with a live bullet that penetrated his heart and caused severe bleeding. The shooting was reported during a protest organized by dozens of young men, who threw stones at IOF and burned tires near the abovementioned checkpoint.

These crimes are part of IOF’s grave escalation in the oPt since the U.S President Trump declared his Middle-East Peace Plan known as “the Deal of the Century” on 28 January 2020. IOF suppressed more than 60 protests against Trump’s plan at seam points confrontation in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. As a result, dozens of civilians were shot and injured with live and rubber bullets in addition to many others suffocated due to tear gas inhalation.

PCHR strongly condemns the IOF’s crimes, which prove the ongoing Israeli use of excessive force against Palestinian civilian, who did not pose danger or threat to the soldiers’ lives.

PCHR condemns the crime of demolishing Qombo’s house for the 2nd time as part of IOF’s collective punishment policy against the Palestinian civilians.

PCHR reminds that this policy is internationally prohibited according to Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that: “No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited. Pillage is prohibited. Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.”

Therefore, PCHR reiterates its call upon the international community to take immediate action to put an end to the Israeli crimes. PCHR also reiterates its call upon the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1; i.e., to respect and ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances and their obligations under Article 146 to prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and Protocol (I) Additional to the Geneva Conventions regarding the guarantee of Palestinian civilians’ right to protection in the oPt.

Now – Nov 17: Gaza in Color: Stories from Behind the Wall Online Art Auction

Original artwork and signed prints that were hand-carried out of Gaza. This auction offers over 100 pieces by seven artists who are struggling to share their vision and their stories with the outside world.

Despite the ongoing eleven year-long blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt on the Gaza Strip and the violence and human rights tragedies that surround them, artists in Gaza are using creativity to translate their hope and a stark reality into art.

The Gaza artists directly benefit from the sale of their work, which include originals and signed, limited edition prints. Funds will also support the work of Rebuilding Alliance. We hand-carried many of these pieces out of Gaza, and we’re so proud to be working with the artists to bring this to you!

View and bid at this Rebuilding Alliance site.

Since registering as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2003, Rebuilding Alliance has been working with coalitions around the world who are dedicated to helping war-torn neighborhoods rebuild and promoting citizen and diplomatic engagement, worldwide, to make them safe.