Update: On-The-Ground Jewish Solidarity with Masafer Yatta

Thanks to those who attended our webinar “On the Ground Jewish Solidarity with Palestinian Resistance in Masafer Yatta” with Peter Beinart, Awdah Hathaleen, Nur Zahor, and Zack Witus. If you didn’t have a chance to see it, you can watch the recording. The testimony by our panelists was emotional and powerful.

It was apparent that the expulsion of Palestinians from Masafer Yatta is happening right under our noses in daily increments. Many left the webinar wanting to take action. Below are resources and suggested actions for you to take today!

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Join us for an exciting webinar, moderated by Peter Beinart, exploring the role of Jewish activists as they join Palestinian-led resistance to the escalating violence of the Israeli occupation. Together, they stand against the state policy enabling daily army and settler violence, home demolitions, and mass expulsions in Masafer Yatta.

The webinar will focus on the connections between Jews (diaspora and Israeli) and Palestinians in the justice movement in Masafer Yatta. We will discuss the imbalance of power and the responsibility Jewish activists have in standing in solidarity, the personal transformations that take place through this work together, how each of the speakers carries this work forward, and the central importance that this joint struggle activism has. Going beyond personal connections, the work creates space for us to stand up together against Israeli settler and army violence and oppression, and make an impact today and in the future.

  • Peter Beinart, moderator – journalist and professor of journalism at CUNY.
  • Nur Zahor – an Israeli Arabic and Hebrew teacher and activist in Masafer Yatta.
  • Awdah Hathaleen – Palestinian Human rights activist, English teacher, and journalist from Masafer Yatta
  • Zak Witus – Young Leadership & Education Coordinator for New Israel Fund and a recent participant in the Center For Jewish Nonviolence Sustained Solidarity Hineinu delegation in Masafer Yatta.

South Hebron Hills Watch is a group of Israeli American volunteers who forged a strong connection with Palestinian residents of the South Hebron Hills and Jewish activists who are providing witness and physical support to these communities. We are not affiliated with any political party or organization but partner with like-minded people and organizations that support nonviolent activity on the ground and amplify the plight of these Palestinian families in the face of a broader effort to remove them from their lands. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Israeli soldiers arrest Hafez Huraini of Masafer Yatta

BREAKING: Hafez Huraini, 52, was arrested by Israeli soldiers after he was brutally attacked by settlers who broke his arm and disabled his ambulance in the village of Tuwani. He is still detained.

Hafez is the father of Sami Huraini, a Palestinian law student and coordinator of Youth of Sumud, activists from the At-Tuwani area opposing Israeli home demolition and settler violence. Israeli soldiers continue to harass and incarcerate residents as part of a policy to steal their land.

#FreeHafezHuraini!    #DefendMasaferYatta!

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Israel rejects U.S. call for review of IDF rules of engagement in West Bank

Secretary of State Tony Blinken asked Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz for the review after the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh


Israeli soldiers in Hebron on Aug. 19. Photo: Hazem Bader/AFP via Getty Images

Barak Ravid, Axios, Sep 7, 2022

Israel on Wednesday rejected the U.S. call for it to review the Israel Defense Forces' rules of engagement in the West Bank as part of accountability steps for the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

Driving the news: State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said on Tuesday that the Biden administration will continue to press Israel “to closely review its policies and practices on rules of engagement” of the IDF in the occupied West Bank.

  • He said this is needed in order “to mitigate the risk of civilian harm, protect journalists and prevent similar tragedies."

Between the lines: U.S. pressure for Israel to review the guidelines, which define the circumstances under which Israeli soldiers can use live fire in the West Bank, is unusual. Patel's comments were the first time the Biden administration raised this issue in public after discussing it in private in recent weeks.

  • After meeting with Abu Akleh's family in late July, Secretary of State Tony Blinken called Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and asked for a review of the IDF rules of engagement in the West Bank, saying it would be a step toward accountability in the Abu Akleh case.
  • Blinken told Gantz he thinks that either the rules of engagement weren't followed or they need to be reviewed if an Israeli soldier shot Abu Akleh while she wore a bulletproof vest that was marked "press."

State of play: Patel's comments on Tuesday came a day after Israel published the final conclusions of its investigation into the death of Abu Akleh, who was killed while covering an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

  • The investigation determined Abu Akleh was most likely killed by "unintentional fire" from an Israeli soldier who did not realize she was a journalist, a senior IDF official told reporters.
  • The senior IDF official said that the investigation found there was no violation of the rules of engagement and no problem in the briefing the soldiers received before the Jenin raid.

What they're saying: Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid expressed "sorrow" over Abu Akleh's death on Wednesday but said "no one will dictate our rules of engagement to us, when we are the ones fighting for our lives."

  • Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that the "IDF’s chief of the general staff, and he alone, determines, and will continue to determine the rules of engagement in accordance with our operational needs and values of the IDF."

  • "These instructions are implemented in a strict manner by soldiers and their commanders. There has not been, and there will not be any political involvement in the matter," Gantz said.

Another senior Israeli official told Axios that "the rules of engagement were reviewed as part of the IDF investigation and it was found that there were no violations. Nobody is going to change the rules of engagement because of U.S. political pressure."

  • Israeli officials believe the U.S. call for reviewing the rules of engagement is an attempt to respond to pressure by U.S. progressives who have demanded an independent U.S. investigation — something the Biden administration can’t and doesn’t want to do, the Israeli official said. The State Department did not respond to a request for comment.
  • "The Biden administration is not really pressing us because they understand we are not going to change the rules of engagement," the official added. "We told them our position before and after their public statement on this issue."

Israeli army: ‘High probability’ soldier killed reporter


Yellow tape marks bullet holes on a tree and a portrait and flowers create a makeshift memorial at the site where Palestinian-American Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot and killed in the West Bank city of Jenin, May 19, 2022. The Israeli military acknowledged for the first time today that one of its soldiers likely killed Shireen Abu Akleh, saying its own investigation shows she was shot by mistake and that no one will face punishment. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

JOSEF FEDERMAN, Associated Press, September 5, 2022

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military on Monday announced the long-awaited results of its investigation into the deadly shooting of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, saying there was a “high probability” an Israeli soldier had mistakenly killed her during a raid in the occupied West Bank last May.

It was the closest that Israel has come to accepting responsibility for the shooting. But in a report that seemed to raise as many questions as it sought to answer, the military revealed no new evidence to back its claim that the Palestinian-American journalist might have been killed by Palestinian gunmen during a battle with Israel troops and Palestinian gunmen. It also said that no one would be punished for the shooting.

The conclusions were unlikely to put to rest an issue that has worsened what already were badly strained relations between Israel and the Palestinians. Both Palestinian officials and Abu Akleh’s family accused the army of evading responsibility for her killing.

“Our family is not surprised by this outcome since it’s obvious to anyone that Israeli war criminals cannot investigate their own crimes. However, we remain deeply hurt, frustrated and disappointed,” her family said in a statement.

Abu Akleh, a 51-year-old Palestinian-American, was killed while covering an Israeli raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank on May 11. She had covered the West Bank for Al Jazeera for two decades and was a well-known face across the Arab world.

In a briefing with reporters, a senior Israeli military official said there was a “very high likelihood” that Abu Akleh was mistakenly shot by an Israeli soldier positioned inside an armored vehicle who thought he was aiming at a militant.

“He misidentified her,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity under military briefing guidelines. “His reports in real time… absolutely point to a misidentification.”

“We know that he fired, but it could very well be that this happened from other fire,” he added.

Jenin is known as a bastion of Palestinian militants, and Israel has carried out raids there almost nightly since a string of deadly attacks inside Israel earlier this year, some of which were carried out by assailants from the area.

Repeating previous Israeli claims, the military official said the soldiers had been under continuous fire for almost an hour from multiple directions before Abu Akleh was shot. The army released several videos showing Palestinian militants firing automatic weapons and soldiers coming under fire that day.

But the military provided no evidence to support its claim that a fierce gunbattle was under way at the time that Abu Akleh was shot. Amateur videos as well as witness accounts have shown no evidence of militants in the vicinity and the area appeared to be quiet for several minutes before she was shot.

It also was unclear how Abu Akleh, who was wearing a helmet and vest marked “press” at the time, could be mistaken for a militant. The official only said that the soldier’s vision from inside the vehicle was “very limited,” causing Abu Akleh to be misidentified in a split-second decision.

He said the findings of the investigation had been turned over to the chief military prosecutor, who was satisfied with them and decided against a criminal investigation. That means no one will be charged in her death.

Critics have long accused the military of doing a poor job of investigating wrongdoing by its troops. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem accused the army of carrying out a “whitewash,” while Abu Akleh’s family and the Palestinian Authority both called for the case to be turned over to the International Criminal Court in the Hague. The ICC has opened an investigation into possible war crimes by Israel in both Gaza and the West Bank.

Nabil Abu Rdeneh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, dismissed the announcement as “another Israeli attempt to evade responsibility for her killing.”

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President Biden: Stop Israeli Government’s Attacks on Palestinian Civil Society

(Final version, emphasis added)

Dear colleagues and comrades,

Thank you so much for signing on to our global open letter calling on the Biden administration to take immediate action in response to Israel’s escalated attack on Palestinian civil society. The letter was signed by over 290 social justice, civil rights, human rights, and faith-based organizations, as well as grassroots movement partners from around the world. President Biden’s chief of staff has confirmed receipt and we will keep you updated on next steps.
 
We called on President Biden to not only condemn and reject the Israeli government’s authoritarian assault on Palestinian civil society, but to take concrete steps to protect our colleagues and work to eliminate the conditions that make their vital work so necessary.
 
Here is the link to the letter on our website, and links to our social media accounts – TWIGFB – for you to share with your networks.

Thanks again and onward,

Nadia Ben-Youssef
Advocacy Director
Center for Constitutional Rights | Justice takes a fight.
666 Broadway, 7th Floor New York, NY 10012 (Lenapehoking)

President Biden: Stop Israeli Government’s Attacks on Palestinian Civil Society

YWCA Madison’s Racial Justice Summit

Madison365 staff, Sep 1, 2022

The YWCA Madison’s Racial Justice Summit will take place Sept. 28-30. Organizers are inviting the community to practice “Weaving Our Pasts, Present and Emergent Futures for Racial Justice and Co-Liberation.”

For this 21st annual Summit, YWCA Madison is collaborating with local and national practitioners, educators, artists, authors, and advocates to curate a combination of virtual and in-person experiences. The motivation is to disrupt the (mis)understanding of the different dimensions of justice as separate issues, and support an understanding of their interconnected nature.

The hope is for the Summit to support communities in deeply understanding how racial justice, restorative justice, gender justice, immigration justice, disability justice, climate justice, and so on, are truly different transgenerational dimensions of our ongoing building of practice, community, interconnectedness and power within movements for justice and co-liberation.

Some of the Summit keynotes this year are sisters Angela Davis and Fania Davis, Ericka Huggins, Linda Sarsour, Rudy Bankston, Jenifer Garcia, and sisters adrienne maree brown and Autumn Brown.

For any other questions, please email racialjustice@ywcamadison.org.

To purchase tickets, click here.


Linda Sarsour has advocated for Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories and expressed support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. (Wikipedia)

Angela Davis supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel. In 2019 the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) rescinded Davis’s Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award for Davis’s vocal support for Palestinian rights and the movement to boycott Israel. Davis said her loss of the award was “not primarily an attack against me but rather against the very spirit of the indivisibility of justice.” The BCRI reversed its decision and issued a public apology, stating that there should have been more public consultation. (Wikipedia)

Rally for Google and Amazon workers against Israeli military


Khalil Awawdeh Announces End to Hunger Strike

The Palestinian hunger striker, whose images shocked the world amid his more than 170-day strike, has ended his strike after striking a deal to be released


Palestinian administrative prisoner Khalil Awawdeh, who has been on a hunger strike for more than 170 days with a two week pause, is seen at Assaf Harofeh hospital in Be’er Ya’akov, Israel, last week. Credit: Sinan Abu Mayzer/Reuters

Hagar Shezaf, Haaretz, Aug 31, 2022

Khalil Awawdeh, whose lawyers have warned he could die at any moment over 170 days into his hunger strike, announced that he is ending his strike after an agreement was reached to end his administrative detention on October 2nd.

In a video, Awawdeh said he will stay in the hospital for treatment and supervision until he recovers.

“This is another victory in the series of wins for administrative detainees who led a struggle for their release and freedom. I am ending the strike after I received word of my victory.”

Awawdeh’s wife celebrated the news of her husband’s release. “Khalil proved that the Palestinian prisoner can achieve victory over the occupation.”

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad said the “historic campaign he led will be recorded in the annals of Palestinian struggle.”

A senior Egyptian source told Haaretz that Egyptian officials were part of backdoor talks with Israel to secure Awawdeh’s release, which was apparently a condition promised as part of the recent ceasefire agreement in the Gaza Strip. The source added that talks to secure senior Islamic Jihad commander Bassam al-Saadi’s release are still under way.

Back by an Egyptian guarantee, Awawdeh signed that he will not return to “terrorist activities” as a condition of his October 2 release, an Israeli security source said, adding that Israel will release him as long as there is no reason to believe otherwise.

Weighing under 90 pounds, Awawdeh’s photos shocked the world and led world leaders to urge Israel to either release him or charge him in court. On Tuesday, Israel’s High Court rejected a petition demanding his release and an end to his administrative detention, a practice employed by Israel to hold political prisoners indefinitely without trial.

Dr. Bettina Birmans, a neurologist who volunteers at Physicians for Human Rights visited Awawdeh last Friday. In her opinion, which was submitted with the petition for his release, Birmans said that compared to summaries of previous tests Awawdeh has undergone, there has been a deterioration in his condition – he can barely move his limbs, is unable to complete sentences, suffers from weakness and pain throughout his body, and is experiencing deterioration of his eyesight, memory, and cognitive function.

Israel has provided few details about the accusations facing Awawdeh. An Israeli military spokesperson said last week his detention had been confirmed several times by military courts “and it was determined that the confidential material in his case indicates that his release will threaten the security of the area.”

Awawdeh was recently transferred from Ramle Prison to the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Israel due to his failing health.

Earlier this month, the Israeli military temporarily suspended the administrative detention order against Awawdeh because his condition was deteriorating. However, Israel’s High Court rejected an appeal to release him — the judges wrote that the court has no room to intervene in the decision to keep Awawdeh under arrest despite his condition.

Israel’s top court rejects 2nd petition to release Awawdeh

A video showing Khalil Awawdeh and the toll his detention has taken on his body was shared on Monday, where he urged the world to stop Israel from detaining Palestinians without charge.

Awawdeh was detained on 27 December last year near Hebron in the southern West Bank [Getty]
Awawdeh was detained on 27 December last year near Hebron in the southern West Bank [Getty]

New Arab Staff, 30 August, 2022

The Israeli Supreme Court has rejected a second petition to release Khalil Awawdeh, a Palestinian prisoner detained without charge by Israeli forces, on the 171st day of his hunger strike to protest his administrative detention.

The Israeli government, judiciary and military continue to illegally practice administrative detention, according to rights group Adalah, and are consequently endangering Awawdah’s life.

Administrative detention is “incarceration without trial or charge, alleging that a person plans to commit a future offense,” according to B’TSelem’s website, a Jerusalem based human rights organisation.

“The systematic violation of the most basic human rights of Palestinians amounts to crimes against humanity, which necessitate immediate international action,” tweeted Adalah on Tuesday. 

A video of Khalil Awawdeh was shared by the Samidoun Network on Twitter on Monday, showing the toll his detention and hunger strike has taken on his body. 

“Oh, free people of the world,” Awahdeh said in the video, “this suffering body, of which nothing remains but skin and bones, does not reflect a weakness and vulnerability of the Palestinian people, but rather is a mirror reflecting the true face of the occupation which claims to be a ‘democratic state’, at a time when it holds a prisoner without any charges in the brutal administrative detention, taking a stand against it, to say: No to administrative detention! No to administrative detention!”

“We are a people who have a just cause that will remain a just cause, and we will always stand against administrative detention, this injustice, even if the skin is gone, even if the bone deteriorates, even if the soul is gone,” he added. 

Awawdeh was detained on 27 December last year near Hebron in the southern West Bank. He has since been abused by prison authorities, and subjected to solitary confinement.

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Khalil Awawdeh’s time is running out


Palestinian detainee Khalil Awawdeh

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, 30 Aug 2022

Geneva – Palestinian administrative detainee Khalil Awawdeh is suffering from an acute case of dyspnea and severe problems in all his vitals due to his continued hunger strike. His time is rapidly running out, Euro-Med Monitor said in a statement.

Awawdeh's health condition has become more critical than ever as he has been on hunger strike since 3 March (more than 170 days) in protest of the Israeli authorities’ refusal to release him.

The detainee emphasized that his continued detention, given his deteriorating health, means he is sentenced to a slow death.

Awawdeh's case requires immediate intervention from all parties involved to preserve his life and end his ongoing suffering since his administrative detention on 27 December 2021.

   The suffering of Palestinian detainee Khalil Awawdeh from severe breathing difficulties clearly indicates that his life could end at any moment   

Nour Olwan, Euro-Med Monitor’s Chief Media Officer

Today, the Israeli Supreme Court will hear an appeal by Awawdeh's lawyer to release him, based on a medical report documenting his significant deterioration in recent days.

The wife of Awawdeh, who lies at the Israeli Assaf Harofeh hospital, told the Euro-Medi Monitor team that her husband has major breathing problems, a sharp drop in haemoglobin and blood sugar levels, and he is unable to speak, walk, or move his limbs. Moreover, he suffers from a significant decline in awareness and cognition and severe weight loss.

Following his arrest last year, an Israeli court issued a six-month administrative detention order against Awawdeh, which was later extended for another four months.

On 19 August, an Israeli court froze the administrative detention order against him but refused to release him, meaning he could be transferred from the hospital back to the prison if his health improves.

Khalil Awawdeh, 40, is from Idhna in the Hebron governorate in the southern West Bank. He has four daughters, the oldest of whom is nine years old and the youngest is one and a half.

Following a widely practised policy of administrative detention in the Palestinian territories, Israeli authorities arbitrarily confiscate the freedom of Palestinian civilians. As of August, the number of administrative detainees has surpassed 720.

Administrative detainees are held for months or years without indictment, and lawyers are frequently denied access to the evidence the court relies on for extending detention orders. The evidence is allegedly classified intelligence information, in blatant violation of fair trial guarantees and conditions.

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