Those places are unrecognizable now disfigured by misery . . .” (Seema V. Atalla)

SELECTED NEWS OF THE DAY

Israeli forces to punitively demolish Palestinian houses in Hebron-district town

Israeli forces Tuesday overnight notified the families of three Palestinians of their apparent intention to demolish their houses in Beit Kahel town, northwest of Hebron.
· · · Security sources confirmed that an Israeli military force surrounded the houses of the families of Ahmad Aref Asafra and Mu’men Said Zuhur, currently held in Israeli detention, besides to the house of Mu’men’s grandfather, Attieh, dragged the occupants outside before taking measurements of the three houses. . . This came 18 days after the . . . killing of an off-duty Israeli soldier outside the settlement of Ofra on last Thursday.   More . . . .

•   Punitive House Demolitions, the Prohibition of Collective Punishment, and the
Supreme Court of Israel 
Penn State International Law Review: Vol. 21: No. 3, Article 4 (2003)
By Shane Darcy
Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention
. . . to which Israel is a signatory and to which it is bound as an Occupying Power, prohibits the destruction of property, ‘except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations. Similarly, Article 23 of the 1907 Hague Regulations stipulates that it is ‘especially forbidden to “destroy or to seize the enemy’s property, unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war.” By the very fact that housing demolitions are carried out as a punitive measure would defeat any claim that such actions can be justified as being an absolute military necessityAvailable here

Israel Stops Construction of New School in Bedouin Village under Rightwing Pressure

Palestine Chronicle
August 26, 2019
The Israeli government has moved to stop construction of a school in an unrecognized Bedouin Palestinian village, after pressure from a notorious right-wing group, reported Haaretz. According to the report, a Finance Ministry department that enforces planning and building laws has issued the stop-work order for the high school at al-Zarnug in the Negev.  More . . . .

Netanyahu to expand Dolev settlement in reprisal for Friday’s attack

The Palestinian Information Center
August 27, 2019
Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to double the size of the illegal settlement of Dolev in the occupied West Bank in response to Friday’s bomb attack that killed one settler and injured two others.
· · · According to Israeli media sources, Netanyahu told his office director on Monday to prepare a plan for 300 housing units in Dolev settlement in order to submit it for approval to the regional planning and construction council.  More . . . .

PA slams US State Department for removing it from country list

The Middle East Monitor
August 27, 2019
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has slammed the US State Department for removing it from its online list of countries, saying the move constitutes yet more evidence of the US’ alignment with the Israeli right-wing.
· · · · Previously the State Department website featured the “Palestinian Territories” under its “Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs: Countries & Areas” web page, where it offered information about the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip.
· · · However, the newly-updated webpage now makes no mention of the occupied territories or Palestine, referring to Palestinians only once on the “Israel” subpage. This page reads: “The U.S. is committed to supporting the parties in efforts to reach a lasting, comprehensive peace agreement that offers a brighter future to both Israel and the Palestinians.”  More . . . .

POEM OF THE DAY

COLD COMFORT — Seema V. Atalla

The lost places are easy to list:

My grandmother’s Haifa
where she wore her hair in waist-long braids,
gathered with her neighbors by the seaside to chat,
and at the tiny, crisp fish she loved, fried to perfection.

My father’s Nazareth
where he carried grain to the mill for his mother,
and listened to the blind man who sat outside the church
playing hymns on his flute.

My grandmother’s Jerusalem
where she planted banks of fragrant lavender,
taught kindergarten,
and rolled grape leaves for dinner, leaf by leaf.

My mother’s Ramallah
cool green peaceful place
where she and her sisters learned algebra and embroidery
among the sighing pines and rosy stone homes.

Those places are unrecognizable now
disfigured
by misery
riddled with desperation
choked with the nitty gritty grime of actuality.

Simpler to turn back to the long-cherished images.
The lost places seem quaint now,
perhaps a little faded . . .
we revisit them
the way we touch an old injury,
fingering the scar
over and over
finding comfort
in pressing the place
where it hurts.

From WE BEGIN HERE: POEMS FOR PALESTINE AND LEBANON, edited by Kamal Boullata and Kathy Engel (Interlink Press, 2007).

Palestinian-American Seema V. Atalla was born in New York, completed high school in Amman, Jordan, and now lives in Southern California where she teaches at Mt. San Antonio College. In 1992 she obtained an MA in Comparative Literature from UCLA. She is best-known for her translations of Arabic short stories and poems.

 

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