Hebron “water thieve” fined, sentenced for 3 months in Israeli prison

Posted: August 21st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Settlements | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Palestinian News Agency: Father in “crying boy” video convicted of assaulting soldiers by IDF military court

Palestinian news agency Maan reports that Fadel Jaberi, the father of little Khaled Jaberi, was sentenced to three months in Israeli prison. The video of Fadel’s arrest in front of the sobbing four year old Khaled received considerable media attention outside Israel in the past few weeks.

Fadel and his brother Wadee were arrested during a military raid on the Jaberi farm, after the head of the family, Badran Jaberi, connected his water system to a pipe running through his fields to a nearby settlement. Palestinian farmers don’t receive water from Israel in the Hebron area.

This is form Maan (h/t Apartheid Watch):

HEBRON (Ma’an) — The father of a recently spotlighted child who was filmed begging Israeli forces to release his dad from detention has been sentenced to three months in prison plus a fine, relatives said Wednesday.

Footage of Fadil Al-Jabari’s four-year-old son Khalid sobbing at the sight of his father being dragged away sparked outrage. “You dog, give me my dad. I want daddy. I want daddy. Give me my dad,” Khalid cried.

Fadil was charged with obstructing an arrest and striking an officer, both charges that he denied. Khalid’s uncle was sentenced along with his father, also for three months, family members told Ma’an.

Last week I posted here Haaretz’s Gidoen Levy’s account of the arrest, as it was told to him by the Jaberi family.

Notice that both Fadel and Wadee were sentenced for assaulting the soldiers, a very common charge in Israeli military courts, and one that it’s almost impossible to defend.

All Palestinians in the West Bank are subject to Israeli military rule, and are tried in military courts, where suspects’ rights are limited and the burden on the prosecution is practically non-existing. The result – an astonishing 99.7 conviction rate, with most suspects signing a plea bargain, since they know they don’t stand any real chance of walking away free. The average hearing of a Palestinian in an Israeli military court takes two minutes.

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More on Hebron water wars: Here is a very recent vidoe from South Hebron area. It’s in Hebrew, but you can clearly see the Palestinians and Israeli activists confronting the settlers who are trying to prevent them from filling a water hole (2:27 min). The soldiers try to separate the two sides, but they end up declaring the entire area a “closed militry zone” (6:50), so the Palestinians and activists are forced to leave.

Military Courts: You can read more about the Israeli military courts in the West Bank on Yesh Din’s 2008 report, a part of the organization’s ongoing Military Courts Project.


The story behind the images of the crying boy

Posted: August 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

Haaretz’s Gidon Levy brings the Jaberi family’s account of the events that led to the images showing Khaled Jabari, aged 4, trying to prevent his father from being taken away by the army. Israel accused the Palestinians of “staging” the scene

Khaled jabari trying to prevent his father from getting arrested

Last week I posted here the now famous clip of Khaled Jabari, a Palestinian child, desperately trying to prevent Israeli border police soldiers from arresting his Father, Fadel Jabari, on charge of water theft.

A few days later, Haaretz’s Gidon Levy met with the Jabari family and heard their account of the arrest [Hebrew]. As it turned, the soldiers actually came for Fadel’s father, 65 years old Badran Jabari, who used a local settlement’s water pipe to water his vegetables field.

As I explained in my previous post, water is a major issue in the region of South Hebron, where the Jabari family lives. The Israeli authorities construct pipes mostly for the use of the settlers, and the Palestinian Authority has limited control in the region, so it can’t build its own system.

As it turned, the pipe Badran Jabari used was a joint Israeli-Palestinian one, and according to his account, he actually had an authorization from the Palestinian Authority to connect to the water system. The IDF Civil Administration, however, did not authorize the use of the pipe, which was supposed to serve a local settlement only.

It will be wrong to understand this story in the terms of relations between a local municipality and a farmer – a perception that might lead us to believe that while the Jabari family might have suffered some injustice, ultimately, they simply stole the water. The IDF is the sole authority in the West Bank, and it gives very little attention to the Palestinians’ daily problems. The Jabaris, and many like them, have no other options. Stories like the one which happened at their field take place all the time around Hebron; the only difference this time was the presence of a crying boy and a cameraman at the scene.

This is from Gidon Levy’s report of the arrest (my translation):

Last Sunday the Jabaris went to visit the family’s grandfather, Badran Jaberi. Palestine, Khaled’s mother is a teacher. Fadel, his father, is a peddler of clothes and curtains. The couple has three small children. Khaled [the boy seen in the clip], aged four and two months, is the older. Grandfather Badran, Palestine’s mother, was a professor of sociology and active member in the Pupolar Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He spent 12 years in Israeli prison, nine of them without trial, until he became a farmer. Israel has never allowed him to leave the West Bank.

Badran, aged 65, has 11 acres east of Kiryat Arba – a vegetables garden and a vineyard. The family of his youngest daughter, who lives in the north of Hebron, went there last week to spend a few days of the summer vacation. On the first day of their visit, Khaled joined his grandfather and together they went to work in the field where the zucchini, tomatoes and cucumbers are grown. A dog the child adopted accompanied them. Grandpa is calling Khaled by his nicknames: Jabber and Abbud. The family remained awake till late, eating, drinking and playing together.

Badran talks about what happened in good Hebrew, which he learned at Damascus University in 1965.

The next day, around six in the morning, the grandfather woke up to the sound of military vehicles approaching the house. He says it was a convoy of 20 vehicles: trucks, jeeps and bulldozers, border police forces, Police, Civil Administration and IDF. An entire army has raided his fields.

He went outside to ask what this was all about, but the policemen ordered him to return home immediately. He asked to speak with the officer in charge, but an officer told him the Civil Administration’s infrastructure officer has not arrived yet. “This is my field, what are you doing here? Rome will burn before Nero arrives,” he answered the policemen and soldiers, though it is doubtful if they knew what he was talking about. Badran had already experienced such raids: the affair regarding him tapping into the water network that crosses his fields has been going on for a long time, and included many such raids by the Civil Administration, which upholds the law only when Palestinians are concerned.

The noise made the grandmother come out as well. She was pushed by the soldiers and fell on the ground. They [the soldiers and policemen] began to dismantle the plumbing and to load the pipes on the truck. In doing so, they tore the plastic sheets and hurt the crops. Badran says that whenever he tried to speak with the officer in charge, they pushed him and cursed him: “Go home, old bastard.” To his daughter, Wissam, they referred as “a slut.”

Badran was handcuffed, while the action continued. Meanwhile, the younger son Wadee woke up. Badran says he told his son to get back to the house, but one of the officers ordered: “The SOB has boys, arrest the son.”

Wadee entered the house and run away from the back door, chased by the border police soldiers. “We were afraid for the child,” says Badran. Later, Wadee was caught [picture below] and his father tried to rescue him from the soldiers (Badran says his son was beaten). Then woke the eldest son, Fadel, little Khaled’s father. He went outside barefoot, wearing only his pajamas, and was beaten as well.

Badran says his son was knocked down three or four times. “We tried to talk to the officer, but it did not help. He just said [to the soldiers]: ‘arrest all those disturbing you. The old man too.’” Badran says he tried to calm his sons. He remembered how in a previous raid on his fields, on July 6, soldiers threw stun grenades and fired rubber coated bullets.

“After that, they took my child, Fadel, and Khaled woke up and tried to rescue his father,” Badran continues. “The boy was barefoot, he wept and shouted and fell several times between the legs of soldiers and the policemen. Khaled tried to defend his father and his uncle Wadee. ‘I want my father,’ he cried. When they took Fadel to the Jeep I told them: ‘Arrest me as well. What shall we live from? You took everything.’ I couldn’t take it any more. I sat and wept and told the border police officer: ‘You are harder than the stones here. You have no heart; you have no brain, look at what you are doing. You took everything’”.

A Palestinian photographer working for Reuters captured the events and passed the images on.

Fadel and Wadee were taken to the Kiryat Arba police station. Their father immediately sent a lawyer to the station, but he wasn’t allowed to meet them. The police told the father that they were taken to the Etzion detention facility. At Etzion he was told that Fadel remained there and that Wadee was taken to Ofer facility, near Ramallah. Last Thursday the two brothers were detained for six more days, in which they will be charged with assaulting five soldiers.

The border police spokesperson told Haaretz that “during enforcement action against water thieves in the southern Hebron hills, the police and army force was attacked with stones. Two people involved in the riot were arrested. During the arrest, as can be seen in the photos, the family chose to make a cynical use of a child, which was staged and directed [by them]. Instead of acting responsibly and removing the child from the scene, they chose to engage in cheap Anti-Israeli propaganda, deliberately aimed at presenting us in a negative way in the world.”

wadee Jabari arrested by border police soldiers near Hebron

Regarding the context of the affair, Levy writes:

In 1995 a water pipeline was constructed through the fields of Badran from the town Banni Na’im to the settlement of Tkoa. Badran asked the Israeli water company to connect him the pipeline passing through his field (…) and was referred to the municipality of Banni Na’im. Badran claims he received a permit from the municipality to connect to the water line. After a few days the army came and confiscated the plumbing. Badran turned to the Palestinian Water Authority in Ramallah, where they gave him and three of his neighbors a permit to connect to the water line.

After a month, the Israeli Civil Administration came back, deemed the connection illegal, and confiscated the pipes [for the first time]. Badran says that a Civil Administration officer once told him: “I do not want to see something green on your fields. I want to see everything yellow.”

Fadel and Wadee Jabari are still in Israeli prison, awaiting trial.


Ashton Kutcher visited settlements as guest of local settlers and rightwing group

Posted: August 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments »
Ashton Kutcher on his visit to the settlement of Efrat

Ashton Kutcher on his visit to the settlement of Efrat

More details on Ashton Kutcher’s visit(s) to the West Bank this week were published today by the Israeli media.

Apparently Kutcher didn’t only visit Hebron and Jushua’s grave near Nablus on Sunday, but also stopped yesterday at Gush Etzion (south of Bethlehem), were he received a guided tour on the history of Jewish settlements in the region and had lunch.

According to a report by Maariv [Hebrew], The visit was initiated and organized by the Israeli branch of the American Orthodox Union (OU). OU Israel, which receives funds for its activities from the municipality of Gush Etzion settlements [Hebrew], was credited for the photos Maariv and walla.co.il published from Kutcher’s visit to the settlements.

Journalist and culture critic Dafna Lustig, who called Kutcher “a jerk” on her twitter account following his West bank visit, wrote today on walla.co.il [Hebrew] that “Kutcher demonstrated one of the most blind, ignorant and insensitive acts a guest to Israel can do.”

If we assume Ashton Kutcher knew the story of the city of Hebron before the visit, then, like many others, he must believe that the occupation is legitimate and therefore does not have a problem taking this side side on the political map… [But if] Kutcher thinks Hebron is a legitimate tourist attraction just because he is not familiar with its history, than his visit is far more infuriating: we’re not in Beverly Hills and our problems won’t be concealed with the help of Botox. It’s the duty of every person, and certainly one who is so famous, to know where he is going (…) and if he doesn’t know and didn’t bother to find out, than I stand behind what I wrote on Twitter: he is simply a jerk.


Ashton Kutcher visits occupied Hebron and Nablus as Israeli guest, wearing an army hat?!

Posted: August 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , , | 31 Comments »

Actor Ashton Kutcher, another one of Hollywood’s Kabbalah casualties, had come to visit Israel as a guest of the Kabbalah Center in Tel Aviv. On Saturday night Kutcher even partied in the birthday party of the Center’s founder, Rabbi Shraga Berg.

Yesterday, Kutcher took his spiritual trip one step too far: he went with his Israeli hosts to visit the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and the so-called “Joshua’s Grave” in a Palestinian village called Kafel-Hareth, near Nablus. At the grave, he was greeted by Colonel Avi Gil, commander of the Ephraim Brigade, who presented him with the brigade’s baseball hat.

The Ephraim Brigade is in charge of the Palestinian cities of Tul Karem and Kalkiliah, and the area east of them.

In the picture below, published on the Israeli news site walla.co.il [Hebrew], you can see Kutcher wearing the brigade’s hat yesterday evening, during a basketball game of the Israeli national team in Tel Aviv (more pics here). The caption at the bottom of the article says that Kutcher is “looking looks like an overly enthusiastic Birthright kid“.

Ashton kutcher with army hat (photo: berni ardov/walla.co.il)

Ashton Kutcher with army hat (photo: berni ardov/walla.co.il)

I wonder if Ashton Kutcher knows what poor judgment he demonstrated yesterday. Both Nablus and Hebron are well within the occupied territories. For more than 40 years now, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in these cities have no political or civil rights, can’t travel, work or study freely, and are tried in Israeli military courts under British colonial laws. The area of the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron is particularly nasty. Entire streets are forbidden to Palestinians, kept only for the use of a tiny and radical settlers’ community, which frequently harass and abuse the Arab residents.

Did anyone tell Ashton Kutcher that in 1994 a Jewish Terrorist named Baruch Goldstien (another resident of Jewish Hebron) opened fire on the Arabs praying there, killing 29 and wounding more than a hundred? Does Kutcher understand that coming to Hebron to pray with the Jewish community there is like riding into a black neighborhood in Alabama, 1950, with a KKK group? Does he realize that going to Nablus with an army hat is seen in the same way as going there on a Tank?

I don’t oppose the right of Jews to pray anywhere, just as I think Arabs should have this right (most of the Palestinian population is forbidden from entering their holy sites in Jerusalem), but context is everything, and right now the context in the West Bank is that of the occupation and the settlements.

If Ashton Kutcher wanted so badly to visit these holy places, he should have done it as a guest of the Palestinians. I’m sure they would have been happy to host him. But then he might have faced a different problem: the Israeli tendency to prevent foreigners from entering the occupied territories on the Palestinian’s invitation.

UPDATE: on Monday, Kutcher had another visit to the West bank, this time as a guest of the settlers themselves.


The New York Times visits South Mount Hebron

Posted: July 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: racism, The Settlements, this is personal | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments »

If all opinion makers visited the hills South of Hebron – like NYT’s Nicholas Kristof just did – the occupation would end in a few months.

Hebron city, with a community of extreme settlers in its heart, is bad enough, but South Mount Hebron is even worse. The Palestinians there are as poor as you can find in the West Bank, many of them leaving in caves, and the settlers – many of them from the so-called ‘illigal outposts’ – are as violent as they come. In recent years, the army started escorting the Palestinian kids on their long march to school, because the settlers threw stones at them. You can see it on this video:

10 years ago I did a one month reserve service in South Mount Hebron. Even then, before the second Intifada, the army handed these so called “illegal” settlements all the protection and help they needed in their effort to push the Palestinians out of the area. Soldiers escorted Jewish farmers when they herd their sheep on the tiny Palestinian fields; when fights or riots broke the Jews always went unpunished, while Palestinians were harassed, arrested and sometimes deported to Hebron city. Since then, the settlements grew and the situation of the Palestinians deteriorated.

I served in most areas in the West Bank and Gaza, and the settlers I talked to in South Hebron were by far the most racists I’ve ever met. Some of them were from the US and South Africa; many held an image of a biblical fight between Jewish and Palestinians shepherds, while others saw this as the new Wild West. One head of a family suggested I leave my gun at the base and treat the Palestinians with a whip. “You’ll gain more respect this way,” he said. Most Israelis will resent such statements, and the hills’ settlers have a very bad public image, yet what matter in South Mount Hebron is that the entire system is on the settlers side.

When we finished our term in the area, I told my CO that I would not serve in the occupied territory anymore (as readers of the blog know, I broke this promise last year).

As for the Time’s Nicolas Kristof, his visit to South Hebron lead him to a conclusion that is not often heard on American MSM (my Italic):

The Israeli occupation of the West Bank is widely acknowledged to be unsustainable and costly to the country’s image. But one more blunt truth must be acknowledged: the occupation is morally repugnant.

On one side of a barbed-wire fence here in the southern Hebron hills is the Bedouin village of Umm al-Kheir, where Palestinians live in ramshackle tents and huts. They aren’t allowed to connect to the electrical grid, and Israel won’t permit them to build homes, barns for their animals or even toilets. When the villagers build permanent structures, the Israeli authorities come and demolish them, according to villagers and Israeli human rights organizations.

On the other side of the barbed wire is the Jewish settlement of Karmel, a lovely green oasis that looks like an American suburb. It has lush gardens, kids riding bikes and air-conditioned homes. It also has a gleaming, electrified poultry barn that it runs as a business.

Elad Orian, an Israeli human rights activist, nodded toward the poultry barn and noted: “Those chickens get more electricity and water than all the Palestinians around here.”

It’s fair to acknowledge that there are double standards in the Middle East, with particular scrutiny on Israeli abuses. After all, the biggest theft of Arab land in the Middle East has nothing to do with Palestinians: It is Morocco’s robbery of the resource-rich Western Sahara from the people who live there.

None of that changes the ugly truth that our ally, Israel, is using American military support to maintain an occupation that is both oppressive and unjust.

You can read regular reports on the situation in South Hebron on Jeseph Dana’s blog.


Obama plan a good idea for both Palestinians and Israelis / a response to Mondoweiss

Posted: April 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Left, The Settlements | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

The New York Times and the Washington Post reported last week that the Obama administration is considering presenting its own peace plan sometime in the near future, possibly around the fall. Israel has made it clear it would oppose such a plan, and the current government is insisting that an agreement can be reached only through direct talks between the two parties.

Thought some US officials sort of backed down from the idea, claiming that the US “would not impose a solution“, I agree with those thinking that the leak to the WP and the NYT was a test balloon, aimed to show Israel what will happen if it would not commit to the peace process or if it would consider ending the limited settlement moratorium Netanyahu has declared.

Zbigniew Brzezinski and Stephen Solarz repeated the idea on a Washington Post op-ed this weekend.

This goes for the Israeli side. Alex Kane summed up on Mondoweiss the case against an imposed plan from a Pro-Palestinian perspective. According to Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera English’s senior political analyst, the administration’s plan would follow the “Clinton Parameters” from the failed Camp David summit. These include:

Sharing of Jerusalem; no right of return for the Palestinians; a return to the 1967 borders with mutual adjustments to allow Israel to annex big settlement blocks; and a demilitarized Palestinian state.

Kane argues that:

the terms presented above wouldn’t be “fair or just,” because they would relinquish the “right of return” for Palestinians displaced by the 1948 Nakba, a right “enshrined in international law and international humanitarian law, and isn’t for Obama to deny, nor even for Mahmoud Abbas, the PLO chairman, to give away.”

And a demilitarized Palestinian state? With Israel keeping a presence “in fixed locations in the Jordan Valley under the authority of the International force for another 36 months” and having Israeli “early warning stations” inside the West Bank (as the “Clinton Parameters” state)? That doesn’t sound like an end to the occupation.

I assume the Clinton Parameters would serve as a starting point for negotiations on an actual agreement (that what was supposed to happen in Camp David), but even if they were to be implemented as they are, I think opposing them would be a grave mistake, and a move that would play right into the hands of those who wish to prolong Israeli control over the West Bank and Gaza.

Let’s start with the issue of refugees. This, and not Jerusalem, is the biggest problem in any future settlement. According to UNRWA, There are around 1.7 million registered refugees in the PA territory, and around 3 million registered refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. There are probably between several hundred thousands to several millions unregistered refugees living in other countries, mostly in the West.

Israeli Jews, from the far left to the right, are opposing any return of Palestinians to the state of Israel. The only Jewish MK to ever speak in favor of a return was Dov Khenin from Hadash, and even he meant a limited return of several hundred thousand people at maximum. Hadash, it should be noted, got around 0.5 percent of the Jewish vote in the last elections.

Naturally, the international community doesn’t need to accept whatever the Israeli public do or say, but it should be understood that while there is a political base in Israel for ending the occupation, a return of refugees would have to be imposed on the entire system. Even if there was a way to do it, this would mean prolonging the occupation in years, probably even decades.

Furthermore, I don’t understand how this return should look like. Most of the Arab villages are gone, and in many cases, Israeli towns and neighborhoods were built in their place. Would a solution to the problem include the expulsion of millions of Jews, many of them refugees from Arab and European countries themselves? As you can see, this is getting very complicated, both politically and a morally. It is not enough to say that the refugees must return. One should explain what is it exactly that he means by ‘return’. Read the rest of this entry »


Back in the West Bank (part I)

Posted: August 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: this is personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

As I write this, I still have 10 days until the end of my reserve service in the West Bank. It is my first service in the Palestinian territories in nine years. Until then I was a platoon commander in an infantry unit, and served on a regular basis in the West Bank and on Gaza strip, both during mandatory duty and on reserve. Seven years ago I decided I will not take part in the occupation anymore, and refused to enlist to my yearly service. I was sentenced to 28 days in army prison no. 6, and later removed from my commanding post. When the next call came, I was transferred to a civil defense unit (again, as platoon commander), which usually doesn’t carry out such missions. But lately the army changed its policy, and my unit was called for a 26 days service in the Jordan Vally area. Not “hardcore occupation” like the things I used to do in Hebron or Ramallah, but still, inside the West Bank.

What do I do here? That’s what I’ve been asking myself in the last two weeks. Read the rest of this entry »


Beitar Jerusalem

Posted: December 6th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: The Right, The Settlements | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

hebron1

This picture of teenage settlers at the “House of Contention” in Hebron was taken by Tess Scheflan from Haaretz. The kid on the left is wearing a Beitar Jerusalem scarf. Beitar’s fans take pride in their racism. The fan’s forums are full of racist and anti Arab comments, and “death to Arabs” shouts are very common at the team’s games. one of the reasons the Israeli national team doesn’t play often at Jerusalem’s excellent stadium is because the crowd there boos the team’s Arab players.

It is not the first time Beitar fans are involved in non-football-related attacks on Arabs. A few months ago a security camera in a north Jerusalem mall caught these images, of a planned attack and stabbing of an Arab. As you can see, some of the attackers wear Beitar Jerusalems shirts.

The attacked occurred on the Holocaust Memorial Day.


Riots in Hebron

Posted: December 5th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Right, The Settlements | Tags: , , , | Comments Off

During the evacuation of the “House of Contention” yesterday, one could hear almost only Right and Extreme-Right commentators on TV. All of them were blaming the government for the violence. But on today’s papers, most reports finally called the day’s event what they really were: a Jewish pogrom.

Here is a must-read by Haaretz’s Avi Issacharoff.

It’s important to note, however, that Jewish violence against Palestinians didn’t start yesterday. These kind of events – maybe not in this scale, though – happened on a daily basis during my army service in the city, 11 years ago.


Hebron

Posted: December 4th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Right | Tags: , | Comments Off

Somehow, evacuating a settlement always turns out to be easier than expected.