“. . . when I am led all alone to be whipped and humiliated . . . at every police station. . .” (‘Abd Al-Latif ‘Aql)

IMG_3057
Ofer Prison, Occupied Territories. Ofer Prison is run by the Israel Prison Service and used to be operated by the Israel Defense Forces’ Military Police Corps. It holds about 1,100 Palestinian prisoners both those under administrative detention and those who have been tried and sentenced. Among them are children. (Photo: Harold Knight, Nov. 5, 2015)

❶ Nearly 400 Palestinian children held in Israeli jails
❷ UN submission: Unlawful transfer of protected persons
❸ Pollard Released After 30 Years in Prison
❹ Army Kidnaps Fifteen Palestinians in Hebron
❺ Opinion/Analysis: ‘It Has Become a Prison’: The ghettoization of Hebron
❻ Poetry by ‘Abd Al-Latif ‘Aql
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
MA’AN NEWS AGENCY
NEARLY  400  PALESTINIAN  CHILDREN  HELD  IN  ISRAELI  JAILS
Nov. 20, 2015
RAMALLAH ― A prisoners’ rights group said Friday that nearly 400 Palestinian children between the ages of 11 and 17 are currently being held in Israeli jails.
___The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society said in a statement that 11 of those detained were being held without charge or trial under administration detention orders. . . .
___Some 700 children have been detained since the beginning of October — mainly in the Hebron and Jerusalem districts — many of whom were released under specific conditions including bail or house arrest, the society said.
More . . .
MILITARY COURT WATCH
UN  SUBMISSION:  UNLAWFUL  TRANSFER  OF  PROTECTED  PERSONS
Nov. 12, 2015
MCW lodged a submission with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention relating to the unlawful transfer and detention of Palestinian minors from the West Bank to prisons located inside Israel in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
___According to evidence provided by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) an average of 88 per cent of Palestinian detainees from the West Bank, including minors, are transferred and detained inside Israel. It is currently estimated that this affects between 7,000 to 8,000 Palestinians each year and is classified under international law as a war crime.
More . . .

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The gate to Ofer Prison. (Photo: Harold Knight, Nov. 5, 2015)

IMEMC-INTERNATIONAL MIDDLE EAST MEDIA CENTER
POLLARD  RELEASED  AFTER  30  YEARS  IN  PRISON
Nov. 21, 2015
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Friday, addressed American spy, Jonathan Pollard, who was released on parole after serving 30 years in prison, after handing over top-secret classified information to Israel.
___“The people of Israel welcome the release of Jonathan Pollard,” the PM said in a video statement. “As someone who has raised his case among successive US presidents many times, I longed for this day,” Netanyahu continued.
___The former intelligence analyst for the US government was arrested in 1985, and pleaded guilty in 1987, to charges in violation of the Espionage Act.
More . . .
IMEMC-INTERNATIONAL MIDDLE EAST MEDIA CENTER
ARMY  KIDNAPS  FIFTEEN  PALESTINIANS  IN  HEBRON
Nov. 21, 2015
Israeli soldiers invaded, on Saturday at dawn, the southern West Bank district of Hebron, searched dozens of homes and kidnapped fifteen Palestinians.
___The soldiers invaded the Joret Bahlas area, north of Hebron city, and various neighborhoods before kidnapping the Palestinians.
___Local sources said the soldiers kidnapped Ismael Taiseer Bader, 44, Luay Faisal al-Hashlamoun, 30, Adel al-Eeda al-Herbawi, 48, Othman Sharif Tamimi, 18, Nader Hamed Natsha, Mohammad Ali al-Qawasma, and Ezzat Sha’ban al-Khatib, after violently storming their homes and searching them, in Hebron city.
___ The army also invaded Deir Samet village, southwest of Hebron, searched homes and kidnapped . . .
More . . .
Opinion/Analysis
MONDOWEISS
‘IT  HAS  BECOME  A  PRISON’:  THE  GHETTOIZATION  OF  HEBRON
Megan Hanna
Nov. 11, 2015
Hebron’s Old City, located in the “H2 area” under full Israeli military control, is subject to dramatic new restrictions introduced last week. Israeli soldiers seized several homes in the Tel Rumedia area and barred the residents from going in or out, declaring the area a military zone and banning access to non-residents, in a move that parallels security restrictions imposed recently upon areas of East Jerusalem.
Since the beginning of last month 22 Palestinians have been killed in Hebron, and nine in the Old City that has been the epicentre of escalating tensions.
___Even for the 50 families who live in Tel Rumeida, who had a mere few days to register their name and ID card to the Israeli authorities, the plans will severely restrict their freedom of movement, as they will have to undergo rigorous security searches every time they wish to leave or enter their homes.
___According to a resident of Tel Rumeida, “They told me I have the number 36 [on the list with who’s allowed to go in and out], it’s just like in prison. They try to make you a number, you’re not a person”.
More . . .

(Palestinian poets frequently use the image of “lover” for Palestine.)

“LOVE  PALESTINIAN-STYLE,”  BY  ‘ABD AL-LATIF ‘AQL

In times of drought you are my figs and olives,
Your barrenness is my fragrant gown.

Of the rubble that was your eyes I erect my home,
I love you alive, I love you in death.
When hungry, I feed on thyme.

I feel your hair against my face and I pine,
My weary face turns red.

I am born in the palms of your hands, and embryo,
I grow and grow, and I reach maturity.

I drink the meaning of my life from your gaze,
Then my being is awakened and is intoxicated.

I journey across frontiers, you are my suitcase,
You are my forged passport.

I boast that I can smuggle your eyes
Across borders;
I boast and boast and pride surges within me.

And when soldiers confiscate you,
Even before hashish,
And gouge the pupils of my eyes,

I feel I have been cleansed of the shame;
I have become purer
And more immaculate.

When they fear what may be under my armpits,
They confine me in small cells;
I sign your name
At the end of police reports.

And when I am led all alone
To be whipped and humiliated,
And lashed at every police station,
I feel we’re lovers, who died from ecstasy,
A dark-skinned man and his woman.

You become me and I become you―
Luscious figs and shelled almonds.
And when soldiers smash my head
And force me to sip the cold of prison
To forget you―I love you even more.

‘Abd Al-Latif ‘Aql was born in 1942 in Deir Istiya, a village near Nablus. His family was exiled in 1948, and he lived in Amman and studied in Damasus and the U.S. where earned a PhD in social psychology. He worked as a school teacher in the West Bank for many years. He has published many volumes of poetry. His two plays incurred the wrath of the Israelis, and were forced to end performance at Bir Zeit University.
___From: A  LOVER  FROM  PALESTINE  AND  OTHER  POEMS:  AN  ANTHOLOGY  OF  PALESTINIAN  POETRY. Ed. Abdul Wahab Al-Messiri. Washington, DC: Free Palestine Press, 1970.
Available from Abe Books. 

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Employee parking, Ofer Prison. (Photo: Harold Knight, Nov. 5, 2015)

 

“. . . My chains are the round echo of a muezzin . . .” (Fouzi El-Asmar)

islamic movement
The Islamic Movement rejected the Israeli accusation, saying their group only provides Muslims with social and civic services [Reuters]
❶ Israel outlaws Islamic Movement’s northern branch
❷ Israeli forces detain 18 across West Bank, seize money, weapons
❸ Qatar launches initiative to ease power crisis in Gaza
❹ Israel to Approve Construction of 436 Settler Units in Jerusalem
Opinion/Analysis: On Zionism and Racism: Time to Rekindle UN Spark
❻ Poetry by Fouzi El-Asmar
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
MA’AN NEWS AGENCY
ISRAEL  OUTLAWS  ISLAMIC  MOVEMENT’S  NORTHERN  BRANCH
Nov. 17, 2015
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israel’s security cabinet on Monday outlawed the Islamic Movement’s northern branch in Israel in what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said was a bid to end “dangerous incitement.”
___A statement from Netanyahu’s office said the declaration would allow Israel to imprison anyone who acts on the movement’s behalf and also to seize any property belonging to the organization.
___Within hours, Israeli forces had detained at least one senior member of the movement and stormed offices of news organizations affiliated to it in the northern Israeli town of Umm Fahm.
___The Islamic Movement’s northern branch, led by Sheikh Raed Salah, has been a vocal critic of Israeli activity at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem — the third holiest site in Islam.
More . . .
Related . . . HAMAS:  BANNING  THE  ISLAMIC  MOVEMENT  IS  AN  ISRAELI  RACIST  MEASURE
MA’AN NEWS AGENCY
ISRAELI  FORCES  DETAIN  18  ACROSS  WEST  BANK,  SEIZE  MONEY,  WEAPONS
Nov. 17, 2015
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained at least 18 Palestinians and confiscated money and weapons in multiple raids across the occupied West Bank overnight Monday, Palestinian and Israeli sources said.
___Hani Rawajba, a resident of Rujeib village in Nablus district, told Ma’an that Israeli forces stormed his home at around 1 a.m. and detained his son, Muhammad, 18, and seized three weapons, two gold rings, and 8,000 shekels ($2,042).
___Israeli soldiers also reportedly raided the home of a local journalist in Rujeib, Ameed Dwikat, and searched his home searching for weapons, but left after they did not find anything.
More . . .
Related . . .
Related . . . UN  SUBMISSION:  UNLAWFUL  TRANSFER  OF  PROTECTED PERSONS
AL-MONITOR: THE PULSE OF THE MIDDLE EAST
QATAR  LAUNCHES  INITIATIVE  TO  EASE  POWER  CRISIS  IN  GAZA
Adnan Abu Amer
Nov. 16, 2015
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been suffering from electricity outages since June 28, 2006, when Israel shelled the only electrical power plant in Gaza, in retaliation of the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by Hamas.
[ . . . . . ]
During a press conference in Gaza on Sept. 10, Mohammed al-Emadi, Qatari ambassador to Gaza and chairman of the National Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, said that the committee discussed with Israel the supply of natural gas to Gaza; Israelis expressed their initial consent to this proposal. He added that the Quartet has appointed a special consultant for the project of building a gas pipeline to the Gaza power plant.
More . . .

Ramat-Shlomo-a-Jewish-set-009
Ramat Shlomo, a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem where Israel intends to build an extra 1,500 homes. Photograph: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

PALESTINE NEWS & INFORMATION AGENCY – WAFA
ISRAEL  TO  APPROVE  CONSTRUCTION  OF  436  SETTLER  UNITS  IN JERUSALEM
Nov. 17, 2015
The Israeli government is planning to issue tenders for the construction of 436 new housing units in the Jewish settlement of Ramat Shlomo in Jerusalem, according to Israeli daily Jerusalem Post.
___It said the municipality also wants to advance plans for the construction of 1,000 new housing units in the said settlement.
___In November 9, Israel’s planning committee for construction in the West Bank approved the construction of about 2,200 new housing units in Ma’aleh Michmash settlement complex, east of Ramallah, in addition to a plan to erect two settlement outposts in the area.
___The Israeli daily Haaretz said the move was to preempt legal action by Palestinians and rights groups to evacuate the sites.
More . . .
Opinion/Analysis
PALESTINE CHRONICLE
ON  ZIONISM  AND  RACISM:  TIME  TO  REKINDLE  UN  SPARK
Eric Walberg
Nov. 16 2015
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently held a commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the squashing of UN resolution 3379, equating Zionism with racism. It was passed in 1975 by a vote of 72 to 35 (with 32 abstentions). The festive event this year was attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry and head of the Israeli Labor Party and Zionist Union Isaac Herzog, son of Chaim Herzog, president of Israel from 1983 to 1993, and star of the 1975 UN session.
___The 1975 vote took place approximately one year after resolution 3237 granted the PLO “observer status” . . . .
___It was revoked in December 1991 by UN resolution 46/86. At the commemoration this year, Ban Ki-moon recalled Chaim Herzog’s words in 1975, “I appeal to the community of nations to always act to uphold the principles of the United Nations Charter to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors.” Such nice platitudes coming from the Israeli ambassador—community, principles, tolerance, peace . . .
Nov 16 2015
More . . .

“TWENTY  COMRADES,”  BY  FOUZI  EL  ASMAR
Beloved, you ask me
Of life in this prison, this cell
what of the chains
chafing my wrists
what of my food and drink
and the comrades of my cell?

Beloved, let me tell you:
Our clouds are indeed heavy
But our being here
is a smile of spring,
The shock of thunder
in autumn, after draught.
We are not defeated
Like our jailers.

Life in this prison, this cell
is a palm tree impregnated
at the dawn.
My chains are the round
echo of a muezzin,
Their clank is the ringing
of my people’s bells.

Beloved, you as me
of the meaning of my food
Here beloved
we grow like the wild flowers.

And what of
my comrades in this cell? You ask
They are the twenty candles
lighting the darkness of this cell
The twenty songs
shaking the walls of this cell
The twenty revolutions
that will eternalize this cell
And we, beloved
we shall not be stopped. (June, 1970)

Available from Amazon
About Fouzi El-Asmar

power plant
Israel’s military hit a vital fuel tank at the Gaza Strip’s only power plant just hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country should prepare for a long conflict in the Palestinian enclave. (Photo: Daily Mail, 29 July 2014)

“. . . who dared to travel to Israel with his American citizenship for a visit and whose only crime was the fact that I am Palestinian. . .” (Dr. George Khoury)

Palestinian actors perform a theater production at the Holst Cultural Center in Gaza City, May 19, 2015. (photo by Palestinian Artists Association)
Palestinian actors perform a theater production at the Holst Cultural Center in Gaza City, May 19, 2015. (photo by Palestinian Artists Association)

❶ From MA’AN NEWS AGENCY
ISRAELI FORCES DEMOLISH 4 STORES IN SILWAN IN EAST JERUSALEM
July 28, 2015
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli military bulldozers on Tuesday demolished four stores belonging to Palestinians in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, locals said.
[. . . .]
____Khalil al-Abbasi told Ma’an that Israeli troops raided his two stores in the Ayn al-Lawza area inside Silwan, ransacking them and throwing the goods out before demolishing them. . . .
____Separately, Iyad al-Abbasi said that Israeli troops ransacked and demolished stores and two rooms belonging to him in the Ayn al-Foka area of Silwan. . . .
____Silwan is one of many Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem that is seeing an influx of Israeli settlers at the cost of demolition of Palestinian homes and eviction of Palestinian families.
(More. . .)
(More. . .)

❷ From AL-MONITOR (PALESTINE PULSE)
GAZAN SOCIETY COMES TOGETHER ON STAGE
Asmaa al-Ghoul
July 27, 2015
GAZA CITY — “You are innocent, O Rabih. You are innocent, O Rabih,” the crowd shouted at Rabih, a character in his 20s who for an hour and a half on stage at the Holst Cultural Center in Gaza City represented the Arab citizen, who faces injustice on the street, at work, at home and in prison. “Rabih al-Arabi” (“Arab Spring”), the play directed by Issam Shaheen, may have had some poorly staged scenes, but they were all rich in symbolism. The young Rabih (Spring in Arabic), played by Majed Antar, represents the Arab Spring, which security services and ruling Arab regimes seek to crush.
____ A cast of more than 20 actors appeared in scenes set in a prison, house, psychiatric clinic and religious hospice. They all played their parts to perfection, greatly entertaining the audience, some in tragic roles and others with great comedy.
(More. . .)

Bulldozed in Silwan
Bulldozed in Silwan

❸ From MA’AN NEWS AGENCY
ISRAELI WARDENS ASSAULT PFLP LEADER IN ONGOING PRISON CRACKDOWN
July 28, 2015
RAMALLAH — The Israeli Prison Service on Tuesday morning assaulted the head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine amid an ongoing crackdown on Palestinian detainees inside Nafha prison, a Palestinian minister said.
____Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe said in a statement that the Israeli Prison Service assaulted Ahmed Saadat, PFLP’s secretary-general, who is serving multiple life sentences in Nafha prison in the Negev in southern Israel.
[. . . .]
____He said that Israeli wardens use all means of aggression against Palestinian detainees including torture, beatings, and humiliation.
(More. . .)

❹ From PALESTINE NEWS & INFORMATION AGENCY – WAFA
ISRAELI FORCES DETAIN 11 PALESTINIANS, INCLUDING SIX CHILDREN, FROM JERUSALEM, HEBRON
July 28, 2015
Israeli forces detained early Tuesday 11 Palestinians, including six children, from the East Jerusalem town of al-‘Issawiya, Hebron’s refugee camp of al-Fawwar and Bethlehem, said security sources and the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club (PPC).
____Israeli police raided al-‘Issawiya, a town to the north of East Jerusalem, where they detained six children after breaking into their families’ houses. . . . All detainees were taken to an interrogation and detention center in the city.
____Meanwhile in Hebron district, Israeli forces raided al-Fawwar refugee camp to the south of the city, where they proceeded to detain a Palestinian after breaking into and ransacking his house. . . .
____They also detained another Palestinian after breaking into and ransacking him house in Ash-Shuyukh town to the northeast of the city.
(More. . .)

A PERSONAL ACCOUNTDr. George Khoury, a Palestinian who is now an American citizen wrote this account for his Facebook page on July 25.  (Re-posted here in place of opinion piece and the usual work by a Palestinian poet.)

Professor Khoury has taught Arabic since his arrival to America in 1969. Prof Khoury has earned cum laude his B.A. and Master’s degrees at Seton Hall University and Montclair State in New Jersey. In addition to Arabic, Prof. Khoury has taught French and Spanish as well as Latin, and German in high schools and colleges. He taught Arabic from 1982-1983 in the Near Eastern Department at UC Berkeley, French and Arabic from 1998-2008 at San Mateo College, and initially French and Spanish and later on Arabic at Skyline College since 2002 where he is still currently employed.

After 20 years of not visiting or seeing Jerusalem and my homeland Palestine, I decided to go back, this time as an American citizen with an American passport which I gained in 1975. The trip was intended to be a religious pilgrimage with Father Bernard Poggie to visit my homeland and see friends and places I haven’t seen for so long. Once we arrived to Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, they allowed Bernard to enter. For me, I was sent to the “green room” for questioning. The conversation that ensued is this:

The Shin Beth agent stated it very bluntly, “You are Palestinian. Your American passport is worthless. Do not try to deny the fact that you are a Palestinian.” I answered very bluntly as well, “I never denied my Palestinian identity. I am Palestinian from head to toe, my father is Palestinian, my mother is Palestinian, my brothers and sister is Palestinian. I hail from Rafidia-Nablus, my grandfather was an Orthodox priest and I can trace my Palestinian roots for the last 500 years.”

I made perfectly clear to them that I didn’t come as a Palestinian to visit the Holy Land but as an American citizen and you should honor this American passport like all other countries in the world. The security officer (who I believe to be a Shin Bet official) retorted with the utmost sarcasm and cynicism, “How do you want me to honor your American passport? Do you want me to kiss it, to hug it, or to worship it?” “Moreover,” he added, “You are rude and ill-mannered. How did you get to be so rude?” I answered, “I am neither rude nor ill-mannered I am just pointing to the facts. I always traveled on the strength of my American passport, I never held a Palestinian passport and never lived in Palestine under the Palestinian Authority.” His answer was, “You will be deported to Jordan and come the Allenby Bridge to continue your visit to the Holy Land.” (The Allenby bridge is the connection between Jordan in Israel. Palestinians can only enter the West Bank through this bridge because they are not allowed in through Israel proper.)

I agreed to my deportation to Jordan and he made me sign a deportation paper. A few minutes later the story changed and now he wants me deported to the Fiumicino Airport in Italy because that’s where I stopped before landing in Tel Aviv. I was stunned but agreed to it.

Dr' George Khoury
Dr’ George Khoury

The airport guards came and took me with a few other people amongst whom was a Palestinian lady with her daughter. They were both American citizens but Palestinian-born. The Israeli’s told the two of them that they would be deported back to the US but they would deported separately. They both broke down in tears and pleaded with them to at least allow them to be deported together but to no avail. They drove us about half an hour away from the airport and held us like criminals in a detention facility from Monday to Thursday morning. They locked us up, forbade me personally from keeping my IPhone, refused me to take a book with me to that filthy room and threw me there with a bunch of poor, hungry, and disoriented men from different national and ethnic backgrounds. That was July 20th and we were at the airport from 5pm to almost 1am Tuesday morning.

At that detention center we were given sandwiches whenever they remembered we were human beings who might get hungry after such an ordeal, and there were two young men, one Korean and the other Russian who were truly hungry. They could not speak one word of English. They knocked at the window asking the guards who were chatting and smoking in the backyard of the building to allow them some food. At the detention facility they were roughed up, verbally abused, and totally disrespected by young Zionist thugs who despite their young age must have already lost any trace of their humanity. We didn’t sleep a wink because they kept the bright neon lights on the entire time. I dared to ask one of them about his name because he spoke Arabic who was trying to ingratiate himself with us. I told him you know the names of all of us “What’s your name” dared I ask. He said, “George. My name is George.” The other guards remained totally anonymous, insulted us by using disrespectful and abusive language, and forbade us from speaking to one another from each others prison cells.

To make a long story short, I found out Thursday morning that from the start they intended to deport me neither to Jordan, nor to Italy, but back to San Francisco. Moreover, they stole my luggage with all the clothes in it and I was forced to remain in the same clothes from Sunday to Thursday. I say they stole my luggage because Father Poggi, who parted with me at the airport with the intention of meeting me in Jordan (as Israeli security officer had told us) saw my bag as he was leaving the airport, assuming I would pick it up on my way out. Little did we know how naive we were to believe that we are dealing with professional liars and thieves. I was lucky enough to have my handbag with me the entire time. My carry-on luggage contained my insulin. I am a diabetic and not having my insulin with me at all times would be fatal.

Thursday morning at the detention center I was picked up around 9:30 a.m. and taken straight to the run way to the airplane (not through the terminal) using movable stairs. The guard had my passport and three tickets to San Francisco, changing my itinerary from KLM to Alitalia-Delta to New York, with the strict instruction to the pilot and the crew not to give me back my passport until I boarded the plane from Italy to the USA.

This is, in gist, what happened to an American citizen who dared to travel to Israel with his American citizenship for a visit and whose only crime was the fact that I am Palestinian. Its stunning that I as an American citizen for the last 40 years and as a native son of Jerusalem, I was denied on both counts entry into my homeland for a visit, while Jews from around the world (including Peruvian Indians from the Andes), who have never stepped foot on that land, are welcomed with open arms and offered citizenship to Israel.

I’m back in San Francisco now. They took something that was supposed to be a vacation from my long work hours, a reconnection with my homeland and old friends, and made it a nightmare from hell. I was disrespected, demeaned and treated like I committed a crime. To add insult to injury, I called my travel agent to have him help me recover some money from the lost return ticket only to discover that the funds for my return ticket was already used to fund my deportation by the Israelis. I tell you my story so as to encourage people to visit more often Palestine and to challenge the thuggery of this racist, Zionist entity and do it here in the USA as well as in Israel. Without the US’s blind and unconditional financial and political support of the state of Israel, the occupation and all its tragedies against the Palestinians would not continue.