Settlers Continue to Attack Palestinian Farms, Orchards With Impunity

Settlers Actually Stealing Dirt From West Bank Farms

Allegations of stolen land are as old as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict itself, particularly in the occupied West Bank. Some settlers are taking this to ridiculous extremes, however, renting tractors and literally stealing dirt by the ton from Palestinian farmers.

To understand how something like this is even possible, we need to look at the meandering Israeli military “barrier of separation” built across the West Bank. In many cases, the giant wall cuts directly through Palestinian-owned lands, leaving a farmer’s home on one side of the wall and his fields on the other, leaving the fields unworked, unguarded.

In these cases, it is trivial for the settlers to “steal land” by the truckfull, and carry it off elsewhere. Practically, it is cheaper than buying fill dirt, and the Israeli military virtually never follows up on complaints from Palestinians.

Attacks on Palestinian farmers aren’t always about theft though, sometimes they are just about spite, as 162 complaints have been filed with Israeli police about settlers chopping down or otherwise uprooting olive trees and other fruit orchards. Of the 162 complaints, only one ever led to an actual indictment, and settlers continue to believe, quite correctly it seems, that they can attack Palestinians with virtual impunity.


Palestinians Seek Autopsy of Arafat’s Body Eight Years Later

Yasser Arafat’s body may be exhumed to allow for more testing of the causes of his death, the Palestinian president said Wednesday, after a Swiss lab said it found elevated levels of a radioactive isotope in belongings the Palestinian leader is said to have used in his final days.

Arafat’s widow, Suha, called for an autopsy in the wake of the lab’s findings, first reported by the Arab satellite TV station Al-Jazeera. In an interview with the station, she did not explain why she waited nearly eight years to have the belongings, including a toothbrush and a fur hat, tested. At the time of his death, she refused to agree to an autopsy.

The Palestinian leader died at a military hospital outside Paris in November 2004 of what French doctors called a massive brain hemorrhage — weeks after he fell violently ill at his West Bank compound.

Darcy Christen, spokesman for the Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland, told Reuters on Tuesday it had found “surprisingly” high levels of polonium-210 in Arafat’s belongings.

But he stressed that clinical symptoms described in Arafat’s medical reports were not consistent with polonium-210 and that conclusions could not be drawn as to whether the Palestinian leader was poisoned or not.

The Qatar-based Al Jazeera said the institute had tested Arafat’s personal effects, given them by his widow.

Its documentary said they showed that his clothes, toothbrush and kaffiyeh headscarf contained abnormal levels of polonium, a rare, highly radioactive element.

“I can confirm to you that we measured an unexplained, elevated amount of unsupported polonium-210 in the belongings of Mr. Arafat that contained stains of biological fluids,” Francois Bochud, director of the institute, said in the documentary.

Bochud said the only way to confirm the findings would be to exhume Arafat’s body to test it for polonium-210.

“But we have to do it quite fast because polonium is decaying, so if we wait too long, for sure, any possible proof will disappear,” he told Al Jazeera.

Polonium was found to have caused the death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006, and he was assumed to have been deliberately poisoned.




Arafat’s widow Suha said she would ask for Arafat’s body – buried in the West Bank town of Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian self-rule authority – to be exhumed.

Speaking at the end of the documentary, aired on Al Jazeera’s English and Arabic channels, she said: “We have to go further and exhume Yasser Arafat’s body to reveal the truth to all the Muslim and Arab world.”

Arafat led the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s fight against Israel from the 1960s but signed a peace agreement with the Jewish state in 1993 establishing Palestinian self-rule areas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

His mysterious death came four years into a Palestinian uprising, after years of talks with Israel failed to lead to a Palestinian state. French doctors who treated Arafat in his final days could not establish the cause of death.

French officials refused to give details of his condition, citing privacy laws, fuelling a host of rumors and theories over the nature of his illness.

Israel in Breach of International Law in Treatment of Palestinian Children

An independent report by British lawyers suspects Israel is operating under belief that all Palestinian children are ‘potential terrorists’

by John Glaser

There is a “spiral of injustice” and breaches of international law in Israel’s treatment of child detainees in military custody, according to an independent report by a delegation of British lawyers backed by the British Foreign Office.

The report found that “undisputed facts” indicated at least six violations of the UN convention on the rights of the child, to which Israel is a signatory. It also found Israel to be violating the fourth Geneva convention by transferring child detainees from the West Bank to Israeli prisons.

Between 500 and 700 Palestinian children are arrested by Israeli soldiers each year, mostly accused of throwing stones at Israeli Defense Forces who are armed to the teeth and occupying their land.

“Fifty percent of the children were interrogated without their parents or a lawyer present and many were threatened and assaulted,” Gerard Horton, a lawyer from the rights group Defense International for Children, told Mel Frykberg of Inter Press Service.

“Many of the children were screamed at, slapped and shoved, sometimes kicked and punched, during questioning and coerced into making statements of disputable accuracy. Some were threatened with further violence,” said Horton.

“These kids had been taken from their homes in the middle of the night, many handcuffed and blindfolded,” Horton said. “They were then interrogated hours later and by this time they were traumatized and disoriented, and not able to withstand the pressure.”

Under international law, states are prohibited from discriminating in the exercise of justice on the basis of race or nationality. But, the report says, “there are major differentials between the law governing the treatment of Palestinian children and the law governing treatment of Israeli children”.

“The most egregious,” reports the Guardian, “are the length of time child detainees can be held a) before being brought before a judge (up to 24 hours for Israeli children compared with eight days for Palestinian children); b) without access to a lawyer (48 hours compared with 90 days); and c) without charge (40 days compared with 188 days). The minimum age for custodial sentences is 14 for Israeli children, but 12 for Palestinian children.”

The report concluded: “It may be that much of the reluctance to treat Palestinian children in conformity with international norms stems from a belief, which was advanced to us by a military prosecutor, that every Palestinian child is a ‘potential terrorist’. Such a stance seems to us to be the starting point of a spiral of injustice.”

Israeli military court sentences 14 yr old Palestinian child to 8 years

The Israeli military court in Salem has sentenced a Palestinian child from Azzun village, Qalqilia province, to eight years behind bars.

Quds Press quoted Hassan Shubaita, in charge of recording Israeli violations in Azzun, as saying that the “convicted” child Ihab Hani Mishaal is only 14 years old.

He said that the Israeli military prosecution asked for similar harsh sentences against a group of children from the same village.

He lashed out at the Israeli court, saying that the sentence against the child, who was arrested a few months ago, was in grave violation of the children’s rights.

Shubaita called for pressuring the Israeli occupation authority to end its policy of targeting children.

Fury in Israel After Settlers Attack Army Base

Netanyahu Vows Retaliatory Strikes With ‘All My Power’

Long a source of much lip service and very little actual policy change, the “price tag” attacks appear to have reached a critical mass today in Israel, as dozens of settlers attacked an Israeli Army base in the occupied West Bank, destroying vehicles and setting fires.

Announcing that the attack “crossed all the lines,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised retaliation in a big way, saying he would “fight with all my power as the prime minister” and saying that he has asked Shin Bet and the Defense Ministry to draft a plan to “take care of the rioters.”

The “price tag” attack movement started as a way of protesting the Israeli government’s halfhearted efforts to negotiate with the Palestinians, as the settler movement opposes Palestinian statehood. Even though no talks have been held in over a year the attacks have escalated, and gone beyond the usual tactics of burning mosques or chopping down olive trees and escalated into attacking the Israeli military itself.

The escalation is something Israeli intelligence officials have been warning the military about for quite some time, but while vandalizing a Christian cemetery was worth a bit of public criticism, it is only now that the military seems to be getting seriously and directly effected that the Netanyahu government seems serious about tackling the issue.


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