Israel’s encroachment on Hebron is devastating to Palestinians

First published by the Arab Weekly on 11/3/2018

Apart from the economic effects of the occupation of Hebron, the settlers make the lives of Palestinians miserable and often violently attack them.
Worsening toll. Palestinian men walk past closed shops in the West Bank city of Hebron, last December. (AFP)
Worsening toll. Palestinian men walk past closed shops in the West Bank city of Hebron, last December. (AFP)

It has been 24 years since Jewish Israeli terrorist Baruch Goldstein killed 29 Muslim worshipers in Alkhalil Hebron’s Ibrahimi mosque, known to Jews as Cave of the Patriarchs. The attack happened during dawn prayers in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Goldstein was an immigrant from New York to Israel who was active in the extremist Kach political movement in the nearby Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba and he was known to Israeli intelligence. He was found and beaten to death by a crowd soon after the massacre.

Unlike attacks by Palestinians against Israelis, Israeli authorities did not demolish the home of the perpetrator. Rather, his grave has become a shrine for the Jewish extremists and the inscription on his tomb reads: “He gave his life for the people of Israel, its Torah and land.”

The city has never been the same since.

Following the massacre, the Israeli government enhanced security for settlers across occupied Hebron. In addition, the Ibrahimi mosque was divided, with Muslim access reduced to approximately 40% of the site. The other 60% was allocated to Jewish worshippers, who entered the site from a separate entrance. The Palestinians saw this as a reward for Israeli terrorism.

The security measures, which prevail to this day, saw parts of the city near illegal Israeli settlements closed to Palestinian residents.

Hebron is the largest city in the West Bank, which the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said is home to more than 200,000 Palestinians and some 800 illegal Jewish settlers, which Israel moved into the old quarter of the city after its occupation in 1967. The settlers are protected by an entire military brigade.

The Hebron Protocol, signed by Binyamin Netanyahu in January 1997, during his first term as Israeli prime minister divided the city into two sections: H1, 80% of the city under full Palestinian control; H2, where four Jewish neighbourhoods are located under full Israeli control but includes 40,000 Palestinian residents.

Since 2015, Israel has declared various parts of the old city “closed military zones,” forcing Palestinian shops to close. Up to 18 military checkpoints have been set up around the entrance to the mosque and to control access to Palestinians and visitors to the old quarter.

The security arrangements bring continuous misery to the Palestinian residents who face daily oppression through the need for permits to enter their homes, restrictions on vehicle movement causing them difficulties in bringing in goods and materials to homes and businesses.

Hebron makes a major contribution to the Palestinian economy, including 40% of its GDP and 40% of its exports, the Palestine Economy Portal stated. Hebron contributes one-third of animal production in the West Bank. However, Israel’s repeated closures and restrictions on economic activity have restricted the city’s potential to lead Palestine’s economic development and is heavily affected by the occupation.

Its centre has been devastated through the forced closure of businesses, including those on the famous Shuhada Street, the main thoroughfare and commercial hub of Hebron (next to which three of the four Jewish neighbourhoods are located). The street, which is closed to Palestinian traffic, looks like a scene from a ghost town.

Apart from the economic effects of the occupation of Hebron, the settlers make the lives of Palestinians miserable and often violently attack them. Children in the centre of the city often need to be accompanied to school to protect them from settler abuse and violence. Rather than the Israeli military protecting the children, they protect the settlers.

Since the Palestinian uprising in 2015, the Israeli military has carried out several extrajudicial killings in Hebron, alleging potential knife attacks by Palestinians. This includes the Elor Azaria’s infamous killing of Abdul Fattah al-Sharif, who was lying on the ground heavily injured. The shooting was captured on camera and outraged Palestinians and their supporters.

Israel’s providing full protection and access to Jewish settlers in the city and designating roads as settler-only have brought accusations that it implements discriminating policies in the city.

The city’s future is likely to see further restrictions on the lives of Palestinians and an embodiment of the settlers, particularly following the naked bias of the US administration in favour of Israel through its recent decisions that culminated in its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Israel is likely to reinforce its grip on the city, making the lives of Palestinians in its centre so miserable that they will move out to escape the terror of the settlers and the military.

Israel may expand the presence of the settlers, helping to take more Palestinian homes and to build new illegal housing units as it did in 2017 following the UNESCO decision to list Hebron’s old city as an endangered Palestinian world heritage site.

The Palestinians face a battle with Israel not only over Jerusalem but also over Hebron.


Netanyahu turns to ‘ethnic cleansing’ and sophistry to justify Israel’s criminal acts

First published by the Middle East Monitor on 23/9/2016

Having failed to convince most of the world to accept its colonisation of Palestine, Israel has been busy redefining the long standing meaning of words and phrases in the hope that their new definition becomes the accepted norm. Words and phrases such as terror, anti-Semitism, security, existential threat and, most recently, ethnic cleansing have been through the Israeli mill and there seems to be no end in sight of this desecration of the English language. Thankfully, the Israeli tactic is transparent and reasonable people can see through it clearly.


As far as the term “terror” is concerned, it is reported that the Oxford Dictionary first defined it as “government by intimidation”. Established definitions of this include, “extreme fear”, “the use of extreme fear to intimidate people” and “a person or thing that causes extreme fear”. A more explicit definition related to the reporting of violent incidents in recent years is “the unofficial or unauthorised use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.”

Israel regularly uses this to define attacks by Palestinians not only on Israeli civilians but on Israeli soldiers or security personnel in the occupied territories. However, security personnel are armed instruments of the Israeli state, operating on the land of another people, be it in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza or the Golan Heights. They are enforcing an illegal occupation and, in the process, are oppressing, abducting and killing both adults and children. As such, Israel has been redefining the term “terror” to incite world opinion against Palestinians and to justify its harsh treatment of them, including extrajudicial killing. It uses “terror” conveniently to justify its illegal acts, as a part of the so-called “global war on terror”.

Israel has also been stretching the meaning of the term. Current Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman labelled attempts by the Palestinian leadership to get upgraded membership of the United Nations as “political terror”. Then Deputy Foreign Minister Dani Danon dubbed the same peaceful moves as “diplomatic terror”. In both cases they equated entirely peaceful and legitimate political steps with physical harm to individuals through violence.

More recently, Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked labelled another peaceful initiative, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as “the new face of terrorism” at a Jewish National Fund (JNF) conference in New York. This is both outrageous and bizarre when you consider that BDS does not call for any violent act to be carried out against anyone. Shaked’s colleague, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, called moves by the EU to boycott organisations and companies located in the illegally occupied Palestinian territories as “economic terror”. Again, it was an attempt to equate non-violent political activism with violence.


Israel regularly stretches the meaning of the word democracy by claiming that it is the only democratic state in the Middle East, when its Jewish citizens enjoy a five-star democracy — even when residing in illegal settlements — while its Palestinian citizens enjoy perhaps a two-star version. Some five million Palestinians in the occupied territories enjoy no democracy at all, as “democratic” Israel controls every aspect of their lives with its military occupation.


This is one of the terms that Israel stretches to mean anything it likes in order to justify its actions designed to entrench the occupation. It has convinced its main backers that far from rights driving a resolution to the conflict with the Palestinians, it is Israel’s security that trumps Palestinian rights, including human rights. It claims that the Apartheid Wall it has been building is a security measure when in fact it is used both to protect illegal settlements and as a land grab mechanism. It confiscates Palestinian land regularly and turns it into “military zones” in the name of security, often only to turn it over to settlers to build more illegal colony-settlements. Israel cuts down olive trees in the West Bank and clears farmland in Gaza in the name of security, destroying the livelihoods of thousands of Palestinians. It also couples the use of “security” with “self-defence” to justify its regular wars on Gaza, when the evidence shows that this results in what has been called a disproportionate number of Palestinian to Israeli casualties.


The well-known pro-Israel group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) defines anti-Semitism as beliefs or behaviour hostile toward Jews just because they are Jewish. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum says that it means “prejudice against or hatred of Jews”. However, the government of Israel and its supporters have been attempting to redefine the term to include reference to the state. Many refer to the “EUMC working definition of antisemitism”. This defunct and discredited definition, which was never adopted by the EU, states that, “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” It goes on to say that “in addition, such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.”

This takes what was a clear and accepted definition in a new direction for political reasons, to shield Israel from being held accountable for its illegal practices and crimes. Criticising Israel, according to such a definition, immediately brings charges of anti-Semitism rather than requiring it to adhere to accepted norms and international law.

Two-state solution

Israel and indeed its supporters claim that they want a two-state solution to the conflict when, in fact, it is a euphemism for a continuation of the occupation and a rejection of equal rights for Jews and non-Jews residing in historic Palestine. Settlements have made a two-state solution impossible to achieve and most prominent Israeli politicians reject it. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has uttered the words, suggesting that he approved, but then insisted during the 2015 election campaign that there would not be a Palestinian state on his watch. What a two-state solution really means needs to be demystified.

Ethnic cleansing

The Oxford Dictionary defines ethnic cleansing as “the mass expulsion or killing of members of one ethnic or religious group in an area by those of another”. Palestinians understand this term completely. The creation of Israel in 1948 led to the mass expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinians from their historic homeland, and no other ethnic group. Netanyahu recently claimed that removing Jewish settlers from illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as part of an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine amounts to “ethnic cleansing”. UN General SecretaryBan Ki-moon called his remarks “outrageous” and even the head of the ADL, Jonathan Greenblatt, thought that this was crass. “Sorry Bibi,” he told Netanyahu, “the Palestinians are not ‘ethnic cleansing’ Jewish settlers”.


Finally, the word “truth”. When the prime minister of Israel tells you that he is telling you the truth, be very cautious. Not only have Israeli politicians questioned his honesty — as Tzipi Livni did when she asked him, “When was the last time you told the truth to yourself, your ministers, the voting public?” — but even a staunch supporter of Israel and former President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, told President Barack Obama that Netanyahu is a liar.

As he embarked on a trip to address the UN General Assembly in New York this week, the Israeli leader said, “I will then address the United Nations General Assembly. I will present Israel’s case, Israel’s truth, Israel’s justice and also Israel’s heroism – the heroism of our soldiers, our police officers and our citizens, who are waging an uncompromising struggle against brutal terrorism.” With his track record, particularly exaggerating, if not actually lying, about Iran’s readiness to produce a nuclear bomb, everyone should be careful about believing anything that Netanyahu says.

Whether it is terrorism, ethnic cleansing or truth, Israel has been trying to redefine terms that have stood the test of time in order to engage in malicious sophistry. We should always be very wary when Israel claims that a term means something that it has not done in the past. It could just be using it to justify its criminal acts.

Remembering the children of Gaza, in London


10 July 2015  

  Image from Cris @santippe1
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign together with other supporting organisations held a vigil to remember Israel’s terrorist attack on Gaza last summer (so called ‘operation protective edge’h which lasted for 52 days. 

Hugh Lanning, Chair of PSC opens the vigil

Rather than speeches, we read the names of many of the 2400 martyrs including the over 500 children. It took over 90 minutes to read about half the names. This was a truly moving experience especially as this took place opposite 10 Downing Street. Last summer, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Israel had a right to self defence, but an occupying state has no entitlement to self defence against the people it illegally occupies. It is the aggressor.

Nada B reads some of the names to a respectful audience

We then laid flowers to remember them. They weren’t all Muslims.

We will continue to work for justice for the victims and accountability for the Israeli war criminals that snuffed their lives, many in their homes.

Ziad Elaloul, Chair of the Palestinian Forum in Britain reads some of the names.

My heart is with the French people, but I am sorry, I am not Charlie


The murderous attack on the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine took place on the 7th of January, my birthday. I happened to be on a day trip to France for a meeting for work. I had to go through Paris on my way to Orleans and back. It was a surreal feeling to be in France while events unfolded in Paris but somewhat distant from them.

I can safely say that I will remember exactly where I was on the day the atrocity took place. I had just arrived in Orleans and had my first opportunity to check emails and Twitter. We went straight into the meeting and I did not really get details of what had happened until late afternoon. The enormity of what happened hit me. I was shocked that twelve French people had been killed at their place of work and that the two attackers were French Muslims.

Further events unfolded over the next couple of days, a policewoman was gunned down, an attack on a kosher supermarket and the final killing of three attackers, the loss of four further lives and uncertainty about the whereabouts of a woman, initially reported to have been inside the supermarket.

Two different groups were implicated in the attacks, Alqaeda in Yemen, with the magazine attack and Islamic State (IS) with the supermarket attack. One attack was associated with freedom of speech and the other, according to what has been reported, an attack on Jews simply for being Jews. In both cases Muslims were implicated, simply because the attackers declared they had carried out their attacks in the name of Islam for one reason or another.

Talk on the media quickly turned to what Muslims should do or say. Should they condemn or not? If a Muslim person who did not ask the perpetrators to carry out the attacks says nothing, does this mean s/he supports them? Of course not.

The extremist publisher Rupert Murdoch caused a storm by tweeting that every Muslim should apologise. He was rightly shunned fir this unreasonable view. Should all Catholics apologise for the many child molesting priests in their midst? Of course not.

On a radio talk show discussing the freedom of speech issue that led to all this, one contributor wanted Muslims to condemn the attacks and not follow this with a ‘but’ to explain their perspective on cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. He then proceeded to use ‘but’ himself when challenged about whether it was acceptable to make fun of the Holocaust or its victims. He argued that there was a difference.

Other contributors explained that there are laws, certainly in Britain, restricting freedom of speech. Hate speech for an example is not permitted. Speakers suspected off hate speech had been banned from the UK as their presence was not ‘conducive to the public good’.

I was troubled by all three attacks in Paris but I was particularly angry at the attack on the kosher supermarket. Hatred towards Jews has been on the rise for the past few years. Some argue that is simply old style European anti semitism and others try to link it to anger at Israeli policies and actions against the Palestinians.

As Palestinian, I never blamed all Jews in France or Britain for the sometimes abhorrent actions of Israel. It is Israeli leaders that try to establish a connection between Israel and all Jews, implying that Israel speaks for all Jews but that could not be further from the truth. The reality is that not all Jews are Zionists and not all Zionists are Jews.

Jews that support Israel’s policies are misguided and some are hateful towards Palestinians. Some go further and support Israel’s actions, continued occupation and in particular support the murderous Israeli Defense Force (IDF). Some French and British citizens fight in the IDF, have potentially committed war crimes and they should be arrested upon their return and be investigated.

Supporters of justice should engage with Jews in their countries and educate them about Israel, for they only see one side and some refuse to see the other. But I stress that I reject the notion that Israel’s murderous actions are supported by all Jews around the World.


Therefore my condemnation of the attack on the supermarket is unequivocal.

I also condemn Israeli politicians that sought to use the attack to first raise the fear of French Jews for their future and to offer them a move to Israel. Which other state would dare incite the citizens of a sovereign nation -France- to abandon their state for another and get away with it?


It was very revealing, according to reports in Israeli newspapers, that President Hollande did not invite Prime Minister Netanyahu to attend the Republic’s march but that the arrogant Israeli leader insisted on attending, allegedly because his political rivals Bennett and Lieberman were attending. He did this with one eye on the forthcoming Israeli elections, a cynical move that should disgust everyone, particularly French Jews.


The sight of Netanyahu leading the march against terror was genuinely nauseating and disrespectful to the memories of Palestinians from Gaza whose deaths he presided over. Here was a man who had ordered an attack on an imprisoned Palestinian population in Gaza in July of last year in which nearly two thousand civilians lost their lives, including hundreds of children. Norwegian Dr Mads Gilbert reported he had seen children decapitated by presumably US supplied Israeli bombs.

I described the Gaza attack as a terrorist attack because Israeli killed Palestinians for ‘nationalistic reason’, which they use to describe terrorist attacks against Israeli Jews.
How could a war criminal and the leader of a terrorist state be given centre stage at a march against terror? It beggars belief and upset millions around the world if Twitter is anything to go by.

I was also surprised that France did not react either during last week’s events or before now to tell Israeli leaders not to interfere in France’s domestic affairs. French Jews are French and their place is in their homeland, France. Those that choose to emigrate to any other state including Israel are free to do so, but for Israeli leaders to raise their level of fear to a point where they feel they have no choice but to leave is interfering in France’s internal affairs and the French President should have made that clear to Israel and Netanyahu in particular.

I do not want to see anyone leave a state in which they are citizens or residents because they fear for their lives or fear to express their religious identity. Their Governments should be protecting them and doing its utmost to unite their citizens and to make them all feel equally valuable. That surely is the role of a free, open democratic and equal society.

I also fear that French Jews who emigrate to Israel become part of the occupation, serving in the Israeli army and possibly living in illegal Israeli settlements. That is bad for them and for Palestinians and makes no contribution to peace.

During the last week I faced a personal challenge when it came to joining -or not- the ‘I am Charlie’ hashtag that was used by millions of people. My initial reaction was yes, but after careful consideration, I decided not to. While I abhor the murders of twelve journalists and cartoonists, I am uncomfortable with the notion that freedom of speech is sacrosanct. Even in the UK, we do not have complete freedom of speech.


In our personal and professional lives we exercise measures of sensitivity to the other, whether a person, an ethnic group or a religion. We do not call someone we do not know well, ‘fat’ if they are overweight. We look for other ways of expressing our assessment of their weight, don’t we?

Men try their damndest not to insult a woman by commenting on her looks (if negative), weight or age. We do this to avoid upsetting them.

Religion is another subject many people broach carefully. So why not be sensitive in dealing with an issue such as Prophet Mohammed? What is to be gained from ridiculing him or portraying him in a provocative way?

I understand that the Charlie Hebdo magazine plans to publish the prophet Mohammed cartoons as an act of defiance. I really wish they would not.

My heart is with the French people, but I am sorry, I am not Charlie. Does this make me a bad person?

Statement on Sweden’s recognition of Palestine and current situation in Alquds, Jerusalem


Statement on Sweden’s recognition of Palestine and current situation n Alquds, Jerusalem

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign welcomes Sweden’s decision to recognise the state of Palestine at a time when the Palestinian people face unprecedented aggression and violence from Israel. Recent events in Jerusalem which have included attacks on civilians, closure of the Alaqsa mosque, new illegal settlement announcements and home demolitions have raised tensions to unprecedented levels.


Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallstrom

While Sweden took a peaceful measure to help reduce the inequality between Israel and Palestine, Israel has embarked on a campaign to terrorize the Palestinian population in Jerusalem and to restrict their ability to access Alharam Alsharif and to pray at Alaqsa mosque. It closed the haram Alsharif to Muslims for the first time since 1967. It has also repeatedly allowed extremist settlers and Israel Government Ministers access to the holy shrine against the will of the Palestinians, raising tensions and worryingly turning this into a religious conflict.

Israeli occupation forces violence against Palestinians has led to the current dangerous situation which also resulted in an attack on an extremist and the assassination in cold blood of the suspect.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign calls on the UK Government to recognise the state of Palestine, following the historic Parliamentary vote which overwhelmingly called on the Government to do this.

It further demands that the Government condemns Israel’s attacks on the Palestinians, especially in Jerusalem.


It must demand that the plan to discuss exerting Israeli sovereignty on Alharam Alsharif. in the Knesset is withdrawn and no change to the arrangements agreed at the onset of the occupation i 1967 is considered. Muslims should have unimpeded access to the holy shrine and repeated incursions by extremist settlers must stop.

The Government has repeatedly called Israeli settlements illegal but apart from condemning and expressing concern about settlement expansion, it has not moved to ban the import of settlement products. This is the time to do this, thus sending a clear message to Israel that the UK will act and not just condemn.

Professor Kamel Hawwash
Vice-Chair, Palestine Solidarity Campaign

So what has the attack on Gaza got to do with three dead settlers near Hebron?


This is a legitimate question to ask. The current crisis began with the abduction and then killing of three settlers who were taken in the West Bank. So why are over 400 people (and rising) dead in Gaza?

The answer is there is absolutely no connection. This makes Israel’s attack on Gaza a war of aggression. The number of civilian casualties, over 400 at the time of writing, including 60 from one attack on Shujaia neighbourhood of East Gaza an act of state terror.

Image from @endanolan

Zionists claim it is all to do with the rockets launched from Gaza. I tackled this issue here.

The rockets stopped in 2009 and then in 2012 but Israel failed to turn this into a serious attempt to end the occupation. This is the heart of the problem. Again, I wrote about this here.

Pro Israelis have been out in force in the media claiming that if only the rockets would stop, Israel would end its attacks. They claim that no country would accept rockets raining in on its citizens. But they don’t acknowledge that no people on earth would accept a 47 year occupation. They have refused to acknowledge the root cause of the problem. They have also applauded Israel’s killing campaign on civilians in Gaza, refusing to even consider it ‘disproportionate’. They have not been moved by endless images and testimonies of casualties of mainly women and children.

The killing of the Baker boys in Gaza’s beach

Any one who knows Gaza will know that every house is probably home to ten people. They know that children would be a high proportion of the residents. But pro Israel supporters have shown no humanity in even asking questions of the state they support as to why there are so many children amongst the dead. Even the sight of the 3 Baker boys, cut down on Gaza’s beach did not move feelings of humanity in them.

This heartless hatred for Palestinians is at the heart of Zionism, Israel and must unfortunately, Israeli society. The total disregard for the most basic human rights of Palestinian children and the constant spewing out of Hasbara, blindly, reflects badly on all three.

The World has allowed extremism to develop in Israel. I contend that this has helped create a monster. A terrorist state that has no morals or decency. Strong words I know, but judge Israel by its deeds. Every time it has a choice between pursuing a just solution or violence, it chooses violence.

They lost their mother in the terrorist Israeli attack on Shujaia

I have tweeted repeatedly over the past few days asking the IDF which of the Palestinians killed in Gaza was responsible for the abduction of the three settlers? In the absence of an answer from them, it is safe to conclude that it is non of them.

Even the two supposed abductors and killers of the three settlers have not been caught. In fact Israel has offered no evidence that it was they that carried this out. It has offered no evidence that Hamas was behind it, but it has rounded up hundreds of Palestinians in the West Bank and attacked Gaza, triggering a response through rocket attacks by Hamas and other factions, in self defence.

I believe I have argued that none of those casualties in Gaza were responsible for killing the dead settlers. The rockets have been fired out of Gaza in response to Israel’s terror. Therefore it is simply Israel’s hatred for the Palestinians and its wish to drive them out of historic Palestine that drive its current terror campaign both in Gaza and the West Bank.

The West’s support for Israel is complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity. They have helped create a monster, racist state with nuclear weapons, far more dangerous than any other in the region. The day will come when Jewish Israeli terrorism will turn against them.