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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Join the #WetsuwetenResistance Pipeline Fight

The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project supports the efforts of the Wet’suwet’en nation to exercise their rights as a sovereign nation to manage and protect their lands and waters. In particular, they have the right to disallow construction of the proposed TC Energy Coastal GasLink pipeline.

As advocates for human rights in Palestine, we see the struggle of the Wet’suwet’en nation as another face of the same colonial theft of land that has caused the Palestinian people to be deprived of basic human rights in their own country. We are especially appalled by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s repeated use of force against the Wer’suwet’en people, including the forced removal of Indigenous people from their land at gunpoint and the cruel and violent treatment of prisoners.

We call on the government of Canada to stop this violence against the Wet’suwet’en nation and to respect their sovereignty.

For the third time in three years, the Wet’suwet’en have faced militarized raids on our ancestral territory. One month ago today, the RCMP violently raided unceded Gidimt’en territory (Nov 18-19, 2021), removing Indigenous people from their land at gunpoint on behalf of TC Energy’s proposed Coastal GasLink pipeline.​​ The Wet’suwet’en enforced our standing eviction of CGL by closing roads into the territory November 14-17. Following the raids, arrestees received cruel and violent treatment in prison. The conditions set forth by the court are human rights violations to Indigenous peoples.

We call on all nations, allies, accomplices, and supporters everywhere to RISE UP in solidarity. We must employ all the collective strength in our hearts and minds to stop the machine of global empire that is destroying us. The time on the world clock is NOW to unify around our common goal as beings on this planet, to honor Indigenous sovereignty and put an end to end of history! We are in this fight for the long haul and we will not back down. This pipeline will never be built. Join the WET’SUWET’EN RESISTANCE!

Take Action:
🔥 Come to Camp yintahaccess.com/come-to-camp
🔥 Issue a solidarity statement from your organization or group. Email to: yintahaccess@gmail.com
🔥 Pressure the government, banks, and investors yintahaccess.com/take-action-1
🔥 Donate. https://www.yintahaccess.com/donate
🔥 Spread the word.

More information and developing stories:
Website: yintahaccess.com
Instagram: @yintah_access
Twitter: @Gidimten
Facebook: Gidimt’en Checkpoint
Youtube: Gidimten Access Point
TikTok: GidimtenCheckpoint

#WetsuwetenResistance #DivestCGL
#ShutDownCanada #WetsuwetenStrong #AllOutForWedzinKwa #ExpectUs
#indigenous #landback #decolonize #mmiw #mmiwg #waterprotectors #landdefenders #defundcgl #climateaction #wetsuweten #wetsuwetensolidarity #sovereignty #tierra #terre #resistance

Why US lawmakers should witness the Israeli occupation firsthand

A visit by Reps. Jamaal Bowman and Mark Pocan to my Palestinian village affirmed the value of politicians learning about Israel’s policies on the ground.

Palestinians protest the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin to the heritage site of ancient Susya, in Yatta, near the West Bank city of Hebron, March 14, 2021. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

Nasser Nawajah, +972 Magazine, December 8, 2021

When U.S. Congressman Andy Levin visited my village of Susiya in 2019, he witnessed a live illustration of the unjust reality that Palestinians in the occupied West Bank experience daily.

As we stood at the entrance of the village, looking toward the illegal Israeli settlement of the same name that has turned Susiya’s ancient ruins into an archeological park, Mekorot, Israel’s water utility company, was busy laying down pipes. The water, of course, would not be accessible to us or the other Palestinian communities in the area; it is meant to serve the outposts and settlements on the hilltops that surround us.

The congressman saw firsthand how water, a basic service which should be guaranteed as a human right, is in fact a precious commodity here in the South Hebron Hills. Do you know how much a cubic meter of water costs in your neighborhood? In Susiya, it costs NIS 35, approximately $11. For Israeli Jews — including those who live just hundreds of meters from us in the Israeli Susiya — the average price is just NIS 7, about $2.

Currently, most of our water cisterns are located in a “security buffer zone” that we cannot access. We are thus forced to buy water at five times the price, while Israelis living in settlements enjoy the same privileges as if they were living in the heart of Tel Aviv.

Last month, U.S. Congressmen Jamaal Bowman and Mark Pocan, together with their colleagues, visited Susiya and witnessed these injustices, too. I stood with them in our playground, which on the previous Shabbat had been invaded by settlers who were escorted and protected by the Israeli army.

New Film on Hebron at the New York Times

Mission: Hebron by Israeli filmmaker Rona Segal was published recently in the opinion section of the New York Times website, and can be watched there (with a subscription) or on YouTube.

Mission: Hebron is a short documentary based on interviews conducted by the director with Breaking the Silence testifiers about their service in Hebron. Describing a horrifying yet mundane routine of manning checkpoints, invading homes, nighttime arrests, and violently dispersing protests, they paint a picture of what serving in the second largest Palestinian city in the occupied territories requires, the atmosphere in the city, their interaction with the local population, both Palestinians and settlers, and how they felt about it all.

Screened around the world at international film festivals, the film won the Shagrir Prize at last year’s Jerusalem Film Festival and is now long-listed for the Academy Award for Best Short Documentary.