‘B’Tselem: new low in Israeli authorities’ disregard for lives of Palestinians in Occupied Territories

http://www.btselem.org/press_releases/20150414_state_attorney_decision_in_samir_awad_killing

“Today Israel’s State Attorney’s Office notified the High Court of Justice (HCJ) that in the case of Palestinian youth Samir ‘Awad it had decided, “subject to a hearing and to the end of privilege proceedings”, to file an indictment for the minor offense of committing “a reckless and negligent act using a firearm”. The State’s response did not note which of the soldiers involved was to stand trial.

This is a new low in Israeli authorities’ disregard for the lives of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. The State Attorney’s Office has sent security forces in the Occupied Territories a clear message: if you kill an unarmed Palestinian who poses no threat, we will do everything to cover it up and ensure impunity. Killing a wounded, fleeing youth who posed no threat by shooting him in the back is not a “reckless and negligent act”. The disparity between the grave action and the minor offense is incomprehensible and outrageous.

It is also not clear why it took two years and a petition to the HCJ for the authorities to decide to serve this indictment. Had the petition not been filed, would the Military Advocate General’s (MAG’s) Corps have continued to drag its feet? When, exactly, were the authorities planning to end this sorry affair? Sixteen-year-old Samir ‘Awad was killed in January 2013 by soldiers close to the Separation Barrier in the West Bank village of Budrus. He was shot in the back although he posed no danger to anyone. The Military Police Investigations Unit (MPIU) has long since completed all aspects of the investigation into the incident, yet although more than two years have passed since then, no decision was reached until today. The boy’s father, Ahmad ‘Awad, petitioned the HCJ together with B’Tselem a little over a year ago, in March 2014, to have the MAG decide whether to indict the soldiers who killed his son or close the case file.

Background on the incident

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‘Beyond Inhumane’: ‘Catastrophe in Yarmouk’

http://imeu.org/article/beyond-inhumane-catastrophe-in-yarmouk

  • Founded in 1957 just south of the Syrian capital of Damascus, the Yarmouk refugee camp was home to approximately 150,000 Palestinian refugees prior to the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011. Today, there are approximately 18,000 Palestinian refugees and Syrians remaining in Yarmouk, including approximately 3,500 children. The rest have fled to other parts of Syria or neighboring countries such as Jordan and Lebanon.
  • Yarmouk has been besieged by the Syrian army since late 2012, when rebels fighting to overthrow the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad occupied the camp, causing starvation and diseaseAt least 200 Palestinians and Syrians have starved to death in Yarmouk as a result. On April 6, 2015, the UN warned that residents were subsisting on approximately 400 calories a day, out of a needed 2,000.
  • On April 1, 2015, fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) launched an assault on Yarmouk, taking control of most of the camp within a few days, reportedly beheading two of the camp’s Palestinian defenders amidst fears of wider atrocities. Additionally, the Syrian armed forces reportedly began dropping “barrel bombs” on Yarmouk on April 5 in an effort to stop ISIS’ advance on Damascus.
  • The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has been unable to deliver desperately needed supplies since the fighting began on April 1. According to UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness: “That means that there is no food, there is no water and there is very little medicine… The situation in the camp is beyond inhumane.”
  • The violence in Yarmouk highlights the dire situation that Palestinians in Syria face as they attempt to navigate the complex political realities of the country and the unrest that has ravaged it over the last four years. According to the UN, approximately 220,000 Syrians have been killed since 2011, including more than 76,000 in 2014 alone. Estimates of the number of Palestinians killed vary. According to Palestinian officials, between 1,000 and 1,300 Palestinians have been confirmed killed, with about the same number missing and unaccounted for, while The Action Group for Palestinians of Syria puts the number of Palestinian fatalities at 2725.
  • Prior to the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, there were approximately 526,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria, living in nine official and three unofficial camps run by the UNRWA, the largest of which was Yarmouk.
  • Most of the Palestinian refugees in Syria, including Yarmouk, arrived in the country after being expelled from their homes during Israel’s creation in 1948. Most are originally from the northern part of Mandate Palestine, mainly from Safad, Haifa, and Jaffa. For nearly seven decades, Israel has denied them their internationally-recognized right to return, as enshrined in Resolution 194, passed by the UN General Assembly in”
  • December 1948, which stipulated: “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their
  • neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.”

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‘Palestine formally joins International Criminal Court’

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/04/palestine-formally-joins-international-criminal-court-150401073619618.html

“Palestine has formally attained membership of the International Criminal Court, a move that could open the door to possible war crime indictments against Israeli officials despite uncertainty over its wider ramifications.

The accession on Wednesday is another landmark in the Palestinian diplomatic and legal international campaign, which gained steam in 2014.

The Palestinians moved to join The Hague-based court on January 2, in a process that was finalised on Wednesday, setting the scene for potential legal action.

“Palestine has and will continue to use all legitimate tools within its means in order to defend itself against Israeli colonisation and other violations of international law,” said senior Palestinian official Saeb Erakat.

Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull, reporting from The Hague, said despite their membership, the Palestinians may still have to wait for the ICC to begin investigating Israelis accused of war crimes.

“This is such a heavily politicised case, that the court will have to think hard before taking action against the Israelis. It may be years before we something.”

Diana Chehade, a former ICC official, told Al Jazeera, preliminary examinations could be completed by the end of this year, but the court would not investigate cases already being looked in to by other judicial institutions.

“Based on the principle of complimentarity, the ICC would not investigate if an Israeli judicial institution is investigating a war crime to ICC standards,” Chehade said.

‘ICC train left’

The ICC has long been brandished as one of the Palestinians’ doomsday measures, along with threatening to end vital West Bank security coordination with Israel.

The notion of ICC investigations is outrageous to Israel, and Netanyahu has accused the Palestinian unity government – including Hamas which the Jewish state considers “terrorist” – of “manipulating” the court.

Israel retaliated swiftly and cut off millions of dollars in monthly tax payments it collects on behalf of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority.

The notion of forming a Palestinian state by negotiations was buried during this month’s election campaign by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who pledged one would not be established on his watch, were he to retain his post as prime minister.

Netanyahu meanwhile released the held funds, which constitute two-thirds of the PA’s income, excluding foreign aid.

Some Israeli media reported that in exchange for unfreezing the money the Palestinians agreed to refrain from filing complaints to the ICC on April 1.

“It’s a huge lie. Taxes have nothing to do with our ICC approach. The ICC train already departed,” said Xavier Abu Eid, a spokesman for Palestine Liberation Organisation.

‘Absurd’ measures

April 1, however, will be primarily ceremonial, with Palestinian foreign minister Riad Malki receiving a copy of the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty.

While some Palestinian officials announced the date as the day they would file complaints against Israelis, in reality it is more likely they will wait, as state members are only able to draw the court’s attention to specific cases.

In addition, they will be holding on to see the outcomes of a preliminary probe launched by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on January 16.

At the same time that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas sought ICC accession, he also sent the court documents authorising the prosecutor to investigate alleged crimes that took place in Palestinian territories since June 13, 2014.

The unrest in June escalated to the summer war between Israel and Gaza fighters, which left dead 2,200 Palestinians and 73 on the Israeli side.

So far, no ICC investigation of Israeli officials has been launched and no time framework has been set for one.

But the Palestinians are confident they will happen sooner rather than later, considering “all the attention to Palestine” at the ICC.

The Palestinians reject the argument the Israeli officials cannot be tried at the ICC, because Israel is not a signatory of the Rome Statute, maintaining the court can also investigate crimes committed on the territory of member states.

“It’s absurd for the ICC to ignore international law and agreements, under which the Palestinians don’t have a state and can only get one through direct negotiations with Israel,” Netanyahu said in January following the announcement of the preliminary probe.

Among the forms of Israeli retaliation is legal assistance for victims of Palestinian attacks.

In February, a US jury found the PA and PLO responsible for six attacks which killed dozens and ordered them to pay the victims’ families more than $650 million in damages.

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Christians For Zion Expanding Their Propaganda Operation

Christians for zion chief propagandist, ex detective Mike Fryer, has announced on the cfz website that they will be starting up an ‘education centre’ at their Fathers house Church. Basically this means that they are expanding their propaganda to try and seduce weak, gullible, ignorant and feeble minded people into supporting Israel’s crimes in the OPTs. Here’s what their Fathers house blog says about ex detective Mike Fryer,

God has used Mike’s Police Experience to gather and produce evidence about the truth of the terrorism in Israel.

So let’s look at what some of his detective work has produced.

On 23rd Feb 2007 Mike’s detective work lead him to say this,

Iran continues to build a nuclear capability that could see them create a nuclear weapon by the end of this year with Israel, as it’s first target.

Well here we are 8 years later and as anyone who has followed the news in the past week or so will know that what Mike said was a fib…plain and simple.

And here’s what the ace detective told his gullible audience in June 2013,

Israeli youths who are arrested for offences against Arabs are dealt with in the same way as Arab youths are.

Anyone who knows anything about the Israel-Palestine issue will know straight away that what ace detective Fryer said is a lie…a huge lie…Spend 2 minutes on the internet to search out the comparison in Israeli ‘justice’ for Arabs and Jews and you will see that this is a lie so we have to ask… What kind of detective work is Fryer actually applying?

That’s just 2 examples of the many lies that Fryer has told and if you check their website you will find many, many more amongst which are that ‘Israel has never ethnically cleansed anyone’ and any Christian [or none Christian for that matter] who doesn’t support Israel ‘will be judged’. Also from his hidden treasure course he claims Jesus will return to make a new covenant with Jews. Speaking of the hidden treasure course one of the books he recommends for study is the thouroughly debunked Alan Dershowitz book ‘the case for Israel’..Why would Christians recommend a book that has so mercilessly been debunked…and why would they champion a man who considers people who watch ‘kiddie porn’ but don’t molest children as,

perfectly law abiding people

It would be easy to dismiss these people as overly zealous and eccentric right wing Christians but the fact is that these people are mad and dangerous

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‘Egypt bombs Isis targets in Libya after militant group posts Coptic Christians beheading video’

“Isis militants have posted a gruesome video online in which they force 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian hostages to kneel on a beach in Libya before beheading them.

The Egyptian government declared a seven-day mourning period and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi convened an emergency the National Defence Council to discuss what response to make.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-video-purports-to-show-militants-beheading-coptic-christian-hostages-10047774.html

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‘Rev Stephen Sizer banned from speaking on the Middle East but retains role as Virginia Water vicar’

“Rev Stephen Sizer, the vicar at the centre of a Church of England investigation for alleged anti-Semitism, has been banned from writing or speaking about the current situation in the Middle East but will hold onto his position at Christ Church in Virginia Water.

Rev Sizer was forced into an apology after posting a link on Facebook to a Wikispooks article entitled “9/11 Israel did it”.

Speaking on Monday during his first week with the Diocese of Guildford and ahead of his inauguration, the Right Rev Andrew Watson said he had met with Rev Sizer and did not believe his motives were anti-Semitic, but that he had “demonstrated appallingly poor judgement in the material he has chosen to disseminate, particularly via social media, some of which is clearly anti-Semitic”.

“By associating with or promoting subject matter, which is either ambiguous in its motivation, or worse still, openly racist, he has crossed a serious line,” Rev Watson said.

“I regard these actions as indefensible.”

Rev Watson said he had received a “solemn undertaking” from Rev Sizer that he would refrain entirely from writing or speaking on any theme that relates directly or indirectly to the Middle East or its historical backdrop.

He said Rev Sizer had also promised to refrain from attending or participating in any related conferences and from all writing, emailing, teaching, preaching and use of social media on themes related to the Middle East.

Should he break this agreement he has pledged his immediate resignation, Rev Watson said, adding that a six-month social media ban was also now in place.

“He realises that social media has been part of his downfall. With Lent coming up, that [the ban] seems to be a really good idea,” he said.

“If he is not repentant, I have made it very clear that he will go.”

Rev Watson said the Council of Christians and Jews had highlighted to him that it was possible to criticise Israeli policies without being anti-Semitic and that Christians and others should feel free to do so.

“However, such legitimate criticism must not be used as a cloak for anti-Semitism,” they said.

Rev Watson added that the vicar’s “increasingly undisciplined commitment to an anti-Zionist agenda” had become a liability to his ministry and the church, and his work in that area was no longer compatible with his ministry as a parish priest.

“Many who more moderately support the Palestinian cause, and share his critique of a particular brand of Christian fundamentalism, themselves find Stephen’s actions to be increasingly unhelpful and counter-productive, a fact he himself now recognises,” he added.

On his Facebook post linking to Wikispooks, Rev Sizer wrote: “Is this anti-semitic? If so no doubt I’ll be asked to remove it. It raises so many questions.”

In response at the time, Jonathan Arkush, vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, told the Jewish News: “Posting, and giving approval to, an article which in effect accuses Jews of responsibility for the 9/11 atrocity is unquestionably anti-Semitic, just as it is beyond absurd.”

Rev Sizer later apologised for the post, which he also removed after receiving adverse feedback.

“I have never believed Israel or any other country was complicit in the terrorist atrocity of 9/11, and my sharing of this material was ill-considered and misguided,” he said.

Speaking after the announcement on Monday, Mr Arkush welcomed the actions of the Diocese of Guildford.

He said: “The Board [of Deputies of British Jews] has expressed its full acknowledgment of the undertakings asked of Rev Sizer and their implications and we are grateful that the church shared our deep concern that Rev Sizer had indeed crossed a line in the offensive materials he was posting and linking to online.

“The Board of Deputies now hopes that Rev Sizer’s unbecoming and inappropriate conduct has now been brought to a close.

“The Board together with the Diocese of Guildford and the Church of England strongly believe that good community relations are based on mutual respect and trust, which we now hope can be restored after this very unhappy episode.”

http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/rev-stephen-sizer-banned-speaking-8606973

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‘Harper Lee to publish new novel, 55 years after To Kill a Mockingbird’

“When an author’s debut novel wins the Pulitzer prize and goes on to sell 40 million copies, perennially topping lists of the world’s best-loved books, it’s understandable that they might be apprehensive about the reception of a second.

Harper Lee, who sent the literary universe into a spin today after she announced she would be releasing a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird this summer – 55 years after her debut – appears to have no such fears. “It’s a pretty decent effort,” she said of Go Set a Watchman this afternoon.

The novel was written in the mid-1950s – before To Kill a Mockingbird – but is set some twenty years later. It features Lee’s beloved character, Scout, as an adult, returning to her home town of Maycomb from New York to visit Atticus, her lawyer father, along with “many” of the other characters from Lee’s 1960 debut.

“In the mid-1950s, I completed a novel called Go Set a Watchman. It features the character known as Scout as an adult woman and I thought it a pretty decent effort,” said Lee in a statement issued today by Penguin Random House. “My editor, who was taken by the flashbacks to Scout’s childhood, persuaded me to write a novel from the point of view of the young Scout. I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told.”

So she laid Go Set a Watchman aside, and wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, her tale of racism in the American south, and of a lawyer defending a black man accused of raping a white woman, which has won the heart of millions.

After its publication, she largely retired from public life and never released another work of fiction despite overwhelming demand, telling an interviewer in 1964 – her last major piece of publicity – that “I didn’t expect the book to sell in the first place”, and that the reaction was “ just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I’d expected … like being hit over the head and knocked cold”.

Lee said today that she “hadn’t realised” Go Set a Watchman had survived, “so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it”. Carter found the manuscript, said Penguin Random House, “in a secure location where it had been affixed to an original typescript of To Kill a Mockingbird”.

Lee, who enjoys a major reputation in world literature despite having only published one novel, said that “after much thought and hesitation” she showed the manuscript to a few people she trusts, “and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication”.

“I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years,” she concluded.

The announcement from her publisher, Penguin Random House, arrived accompanied with a new photo of the 88-year-old writer who is frequently described as a recluse. Lee is climbing out of a car, a grin almost splitting her face in two. The news has been kept secret from all but a handful of staff at the publisher, and publicity director Charlotte Bush said that when it was released this afternoon, a series of screams went up around the office.

Penguin Random House said that the new novel sees Scout “forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand both her father’s attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood”.

UK and Commonwealth rights in the book were acquired by Penguin Random House chief executive Tom Weldon from Andrew Nurnberg of Andrew Nurnberg Associates. It will be published under the William Heinemann imprint – which originally published To Kill a Mockingbird all those years ago – on 14 July this year.

Weldon promised that Go Set a Watchman would see Lee once again “conjure … the prejudices and claustrophobia of that small town in Alabama” made famous by To Kill a Mockingbird. His colleague Susan Sandon predicted that, like To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman is “destined to speak to generations of readers”. “Immersing oneself anew in the rhythms and cadences of Harper Lee’s rich prose and meeting Scout fully grown makes for an irresistible read which also casts new light on one of the most popular classics of modern literature,” she said.

Whether or not the release of Go Set a Watchman will tempt Lee out of the quiet life she has enjoyed in Monroeville, Alabama, for decades remains to be seen. “It’s too early to say,” said Bush. “She’s not given any interviews since the sixties, though, and she’s deeply private, so you can probably imagine that that will continue to be the case.”

Nonetheless, booksellers immediately predicted huge sales for the novel when it is released this summer. “I’m tempted to say that sequels are always tricky but honestly I couldn’t be more excited,” said Waterstones fiction buyer Chris White. “I think if you were to come up with a wish list of writers you most wanted to publish another book, there is nobody who would be above Harper Lee. If the reaction of everybody I’ve spoken to in the last half an hour is anything to go by, this will be the most sure-fire hit of the century.”

At Foyles, Jonathan Ruppin described the news as “as big as it gets for new fiction”. “We can close the book on the bestselling novel of 2015 right now. At Foyles today, we’re absolutely fizzing with excitement and frenzied speculation: it’s the only topic of conversation,” said the bookseller, adding that even though To Kill a Mockingbird has long been acknowledged as a classic, it “is a book that still surprises new readers with its power. Its story is arresting and profound, its characters vivid and entirely convincing, so the prospect of a follow-up, after all these years, is giddyingly thrilling.”

Go Set a Watchman receives brief mention in biographies of Lee; in A Jury of Her Peers Elaine Showalter writes that “the editors at JB Lippincott were impressed, but found the book patchy and awkwardly structured, so they sent her off to rewrite it, a process that eventually took three drafts and two and a half years”.

Sarah Churchwell, professor of American literature at the University of East Anglia, said: “Scholars knew that Harper Lee had written two earlier versions of To Kill A Mockingbird, called Go Set a Watchman and then Atticus, but these earlier drafts were generally believed lost, as far as I am aware. In Lee’s statement to the press, she says that she wasn’t aware that any of the earlier drafts had survived. It is hard to predict the quality of this version, but it will be extremely interesting to see how she imagined Scout as an adult. It’s certainly big news to locate another version of such a beloved book.”

However, Dr Ian Patterson from Cambridge University was underwhelmed by the news. “I can’t but imagine it must be of historical interest rather than anything else, at this point,” he said. “It will doubtless be eagerly read by fans of To Kill a Mockingbird, but that’s a soggy sentimental liberal novel if ever there was one. I’m always dubious of attempts to close the gap between fiction and reality, as in wanting to know what happens to characters outside a novel’s confines – Tom Jones with Alzheimers, Mr Darcy’s daughters or, as here, Scout grown up. I expect it will garner lots of short-term interest on those grounds, and on the grounds of being another novel by a one-novel writer.”

Online, however, readers were rejoicing, with Twitter bowing under the weight of tweets about the news”

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/feb/03/harper-lee-new-novel-to-kill-a-mockingbird

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