Palestine Theater

Israel confiscates 1,000 acres of Palestinian land

Israeli authorities on Aug. 31 announced the confiscation of around 4,000 dunums (1,000 acres) of private Palestinian land south of Bethlehem in the southern West Bank. Palestinian owners of the land were given 45 days to submit formal objections in Israeli courts, otherwise all confiscated lands would automatically become Israeli government property. Mayor of the nearby Palestinian town of Surif, Muhammad Ghuneimat, told Ma'an News Agency that Israeli forces posted signs in private olive tree orchards in the area warning that they have been confiscated by the Israeli government. Ghuneimat added that the confiscated fields belong to Palestinians from the towns of Surif, Husan, al-Jabaa and Bethlehem.

Israel detains Palestinian for Facebook posts

An Israeli court on Aug. 29 extended the detention of a Palestinian activist who was detained for political activities on Facebook for a week, a Ma'an News Agency reporter said. An Israeli court in Petah Tikva extended the detention of Suhaib Zahida, 31, until Sept. 4, after he was arrested on Aug. 28 for creating a page on Facebook called "Intifada of Hebron," in addition to leading a campaign for the boycott of Israeli products. Zahida had previously participated in several nonviolent campaigns opposing the Israeli occupation and was an active member of groups working to oppose the recruitment of Palestinian citizens of Israel to the Israeli military. Palestinians inside Israel have been previously detained for short periods of time and questioned regarding their political activities on Facebook, but such arrests rarely occur in the West Bank. In October, Israeli authorities arrested Palestinian citizen of Israel Razi al-Nabulsi, 23, for a week as a result of Facebook posts they argued constituted "incitement."

Hamas claims victory, celebration across Palestine

Immediately after the Gaza ceasefire went into effect the evening of Aug. 26, Hamas urged Gazans to take to the streets and "celebrate victory and the fulfillment of the Palestinian people's demands." In a news conference at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that "Israeli settlers who live around Gaza can go back to their homes after the ceasefire agreement went into effect." He announced victory and congratulated the Palestinian people and the Arab nation for the victory which he said the Palestinian resistance achieved. "The Hamas movement won't abandon the Palestinian people after the battle came to an end." Militants fired gunshots into the air celebrating victory, and Palestinians took to the streets across the West Bank. (Ma'an)

Anti-Semitism and 'cognitive infiltrators'

The lefty Common Dreams website claims to have conducted an investigation revealing that "more than a thousand" anti-Semitic comments posted to the site over the past two years "were written with a deceptive purpose by a Jewish Harvard graduate in his thirties who was irritated by the website's discussion of issues involving Israel." In an "intricate campaign"—which he supposedly admitted to Common Dreams, although his name was not revealed—the busy crypto-scribe posted comments under the screen name "JewishProgressive," whose purpose was to draw attention to the anti-Semitic comments that he had written under various other screen names. If it all really was one guy, he certainly has a sharp ear. In response to JewishProgressive's complaints, his alter-egos responded with such gems as: "Oy vey! Cry me a river, you Talmudic parasite. Direct your criticism at your sociopathic tribe of money-grubbers, warmongers, and land thieves." And: "There are reasons beyond mere 'anti-Semitism' why these people were kicked out of 109 countries. You don't elicit that degree of anger and hostility from host populations without significantly contributing to the problem through your antisocial, predatory behavior." And, apparently fearing that readers might be getting wise, he had one of his own characters speculate that the Jew-hating posts were an "elaborate Hasbara setup." The deceitful trolling is said to have cost Common Dreams much money in donations. The ruse was uncovered by comparing the IP addresses of posters.

War crimes charges for Israel?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealed to US legislators to help Israel stave off a feared global push to bring Israeli military and political leaders to trial on war crimes charges in the wake of the Gaza offensive, the New York Post reported Aug. 6. Congress members visiting Israel as guests of AIPAC, were urged by Bibi to go to bat for Israeli officials seekng to avoid ending up in the dock at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The delegation included Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), who said: "The prime minister asked us to work together to ensure that this strategy of going to the ICC does not succeed." Netanyahu "wants the US to use all the tools that we have at our disposal to, number one, make sure the world knows that war crimes were not committed by Israel, they were committed by Hamas. And that Israel should not be held to a double standard." (JP)

Islamic Jihad foresees 'long-term' truce with Israel

Deputy secretary-general of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Ziad al-Nakhaala said on Aug. 11 that a long-term ceasefire that would include the lifting of the siege on Gaza would be announced soon, stressing that "great progress" had been made in negotiations. The announcement, which comes on the first day of a five-day ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants, raises hopes that a long-term truce will materialize after more than two weeks of negotiations that have so far yielded few results. The breakthrough comes after Israel reportedly dropped its demand that Palestinian militant groups inside Gaza disarm, while apparently acceding to demands by the Palestinian delegation that the eight-year long economic blockade of the Strip be lifted.

Latin America: more nations recall Israel envoys

A total of five Latin American governments had recalled their ambassadors to Israel as of July 29 in an escalation of diplomatic protests against an operation the Israeli military had been carrying out in the Palestinian territory of Gaza since July 8. With the Palestinian death toll passing 1,500—including more than 300 children—centrist and even rightwing Latin American governments started joining left and center-left government in distancing themselves from the main US ally in the Middle East.

Elie Wiesel blames the victims

Elie Wiesel—yet again—seems to find himself on the wrong side, this time in a full-page ad he took out in US newspapers (PDF), problematicallly entitled: "Jews rejected child sacrifice 3,500 years ago. Now it's Hamas' turn." Offering no evidence for the accusation, he writes: "I call upon President Obama and the leaders of the world to condemn Hamas' use of children as human shields." This formula of course gives Israel a blank check to kill Palestinian children, while blaming Hamas for using them as "shields." And while the statement invokes co-existence and a shared Abrahamic heritage with the Palestinians, it does so in utterly hypocritical terms. In his penultimate paragraph, Wiesel writes: "And I enjoin the American public to stand firmly with the people of Israel who are in yet another struggle for survival, and with the suffering people of Gaza who reject terror and embrace peace." Note the subtlety of the propaganda. We are admonished to stand with "the people of Israel" (presumably, all of them), who are engaged in a "struggle for survival." Whereas, we are told to stand with "the suffering people of Gaza who reject terror and embrace peace"—this after a lecture about the Gazans using their children as "shields." So presumably, we are only to "stand with" those Gazans who reject their own leaders. No such conditions are placed on the Israeli side—on the contrary, the Israeli war is legitimized as a "struggle for survival." There is no acknowledgement of a "struggle for survival" in Gaza—with over 1,500 dead, 200,000 displaced, whole neighborhoods reduced to rubble, and thousands without water or electricity.

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