‘Life on pause’…

Kimberley Anne Davidson is from Pollok in Glasgow… her fiance, Kifah Quzmar, 28 years old, is from the city of Tulkarem in Israeli occupied Palestine and studies business administration at Birzeit Univerity. The obstacles in such a relationship is hard enough, with access to occupied Palestine denied at a whim by the israeli occupation authorities. But their relationship and Kifah have fallen victim to one of the Israeli regime’s favourite tools in the quest to subjugate the occupied Palestinian populace… Administrative Detention.

Kifah is one of nearly 600 Palestinians imprisoned without charge or trial under Administrative Detention orders. Administrative Detention orders are issued for periods of one to six months at a time, Kifah’s being the maximum duration,  but these orders can be indefinitely renewed, and many Palestinians have spent years at a time imprisoned without charge or trial.

Kimberley Anne has kindly allowed us to share this with you:


‘Kifah and me met on New Year’s Eve 2014 in Ramallah, a year to the day later we were celebrating our engagement

Kimberley Anne & Kifah

in Amman. Bringing in the bells with my best friend was the ultimate cliche – and night of my life. The ring is now a daily reminder of his absence that I carry with me everywhere I go.

 

We last spoke via email in February of this year, we had hoped to meet up in Amman but the dates unfortunately coincided with me starting a new job; the decision to start my induction as planned is one I torture myself with on a regular basis. He went ahead anyway to visit his family there.

It was early March when I had a sinking feeling in my stomach, why hadn’t I heard from him? For Palestinians – every movement is a risk, to your life or your freedom, without exception or exaggeration. Whilst crossing the infamous Alanby bridge, Kifah was detained by Israeli forces, daring to return to his home the only apparent ‘crime’. I had been spared the horrific 3 days his family experienced of not knowing where he was when the Israeli’s denied any knowledge of his whereabouts.

He is under administrative detention, no charge and no trial and last week it was extended another 4 months.’

He was held in interrogation without seeing a lawyer for a month. During this time he started a hunger strike, and I followed him, in solidarity.

He is under administrative detention, no charge and no trial and last week it was extended another 4 months.

I write letters to him, I campaign to politicians, I write to journalists – but I just have to wait at their mercy for his release.

His family haven’t been allowed to visit him and he missed his final exams. What hope will he have for the future? What motivation to continue after his release?

Life on pause.’


 

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15 y.o. Palestinian child detainee imprisoned by military court.

Child detention and abuse whilst under detention is an issue constantly raised by SNPFoP, SNP Parliamentarians and the many NGOs and solidarity groups we work with.

Back in April, 15-year-old Palestinian schoolgirl Natali Shoukha was shot by Israeli forces for allegedly attempting to

Treated in shackles.

carry out a stabbing attack.

 

Natali was rushed to hospital and treated for the gunshot wounds she received, and then when she was deemed fit enough she was transported to an Israeli military detention facility outwith Palestine… in itself a breach of the Geneva Convention.

Yesterday at Ofer Military Court, only recently visited by an SNP delegation, this 15 year old Palestinian Child was sentenced to one and a half years imprisonment in an Israeli prison.

SNP delegation on a recent visit to Ofer Military Court.
Children in detention as of 31 August 2016 – 319

 

 

 

The matter of guilt or innocence is not being questioned here * … it is not for us to make assumptions. That is for others who are better equipped to do so and better informed of the case.

No, what is on trial here alongside this child is the very system whereby the Israeli military occupation forces can take children, some as young as 9, from their family, and detain them without charge indefinitely in another country… a serious breach of the Geneva Convention** and defined as a War Crime in itself.

‘Israel is the only country in the world that automatically prosecutes children in military courts that lack basic and fundamental fair trial guarantees. Since 2000, at least 8,000 Palestinian children have been arrested and prosecuted in an Israeli military detention system notorious for the systematic ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children.’

These children will often be held in solitary confinement and may not be allowed to see their parents for months.
These children will be repeatedly interrogated by Israeli security forces and endure treatment deemed tortuous by many NGOs. This treatment leaves many of these children with emotional scars which they will live with for a lifetime.***


* Although most detainees plead guilty because this is the quickest way out of a system that rarely grants bail.         – DCI-Palestine

** After sentencing, nearly 60% of Palestinian child detainees are transferred from occupied territory to prisons inside Israel in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The practical consequence of this is that many of them receive either limited or no family visits due to freedom of movement restrictions and the time it takes to issue a permit to visit the prisons. – DCI-Palestine

*** See here for such an example.


 

Are Israel supporters accelerating its moral degeneration?

By- Dr. Paul Monaghan MP

First published by Al-Araby on 09th December 2016

 

It’s a little over six years since the philosopher and linguist Noam Chomsky suggested that people who call themselves supporters of Israel are actually supporters of the country’s moral degeneration and ultimate destruction.

Chomsky thought his suggestion correct and also suggested that, as time passes, Israel’s occupation of Palestine becomes more powerful and more overwhelming. His comments are probably influenced by the feeling that the occupation is increasingly becoming normalised and ever harder to disentangle.

In my experience, nowhere perhaps does this view fall into sharper focus than when sitting in Ofer Military Court in the West Bank watching the full might of a modern military machine dispense justice to a 14 year old boy still carrying obvious scars of having been shot in the head.

Israeli martial law was imposed on the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 when civil law, civil rights, and habeas corpus, or guarantee against illegal detention, were suspended for the Palestinian people.

Since 1967 some 760,000 people have been prosecuted within Israeli military courts. The conviction rate runs at an alarmingly implausible 99.7 percent and 8,000 Palestinians, including children, are subject to detention and transfer to prison inside Israel each year.

We should neither take these figures lightly nor underestimate the impact of them on Israeli society. The transfer of individuals from the West Bank to prisons located inside Israel is both a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and is classified as a war crime.

Some might argue that no society can conduct war crimes on such a scale indefinitely without inflicting mortal wounds on itself.

“…absentee laws are used to erode Palestinian rights to hold property and to legitimise continuing Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank”

Alongside the application of martial law, we must also understand Israel’s “absentee property” laws, which are deployed to confiscate Palestinian land through application of the legal definition of “present absentee”.

These absentee laws are used to erode Palestinian rights to hold property and to legitimise continuing Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank. Absentee property laws act in combination with martial law to prevent Palestinians from physically returning to their homes and to render individuals unable to challenge allegations of absenteeism. The laws enable settlements.

I visited Israel and Palestine in both 2015 and 2016. On each visit I had the good fortune of meeting community leaders and senior politicians from both sides of the debate. I enjoyed each visit and feel privileged to have met some wonderful people.

Both times, I left with the view that the process of normalisation alluded to by Noam Chomsky has indeed created a situation where the prospect of future dialogue is ebbing away, and indeed a situation where some on both sides no longer easily identify the opportunities to communicate and build on common ground. And there is common ground.

“…some on both sides no longer easily identify the opportunities to communicate and build on common ground. And there is common ground”

Israel has a right to protect itself, its territory and its people, but we should be under no illusion that martial law and the phenomena of absentee property runs counter to the desire for dialogue. These laws are decimating Palestinian society and act as a block to peace and prosperity.

Indeed we might say it is a fact that the day-to-day manifestation of the occupation today is the use of military administration to confiscate property, impose curfew, restrict movement, detain or incarcerate without charge, deport, exclude or simply summon individuals to a police station.

These laws however also impact on Israeli society – in different, less tangible ways admittedly – but the impact is no less significant. Indeed martial law and absentee property laws diminish the integrity of Israeli society just as they diminish the integrity of Palestine lands.

“I was reassured that humanity is both alive and well in the most cosmopolitan communities in Israel.”

However, like most Palestinians I choose not to dwell on the negative. Having visited Israel and Palestine I can say that my strongest memory of each visit to Israel and Palestine is the strength of feeling on both sides that each want to speak with the other.

On Saturday 5th November I attended Rabin Square in Tel Aviv with 70,000 other people who were there to remember the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. It was an extraordinary event with children, couples, families and groups choosing to remember the assassination by holding aloft posters proclaiming the rights of Palestinians. I spoke with as many of those attending as I could, and was reassured that humanity is both alive and well in the most cosmopolitan communities in Israel.

The next evening I was privileged to eat with a Bedouin tribe on the outskirts of Jerusalem. With the sound of nearby machine gun fire hanging heavy in the air, I listened as the tribe spoke of hope, opportunity and their aspiration for peace. I spoke with every member of the tribe and was reassured that humanity is also alive and well in the most impoverished communities of the West Bank.

“Every person I spoke to in Rabin Square and in the Bedouin tent was a supporter of Israel but not one was a supporter of Israel’s moral degeneration or ultimate destruction.”

Every person I spoke to in Rabin Square and in the Bedouin tent was a supporter of Israel but not one was a supporter of Israel’s moral degeneration or ultimate destruction.

Those I spoke to knew that their destiny is dependent on others they have yet to meet, and that the seeds of peace will only grow when communities have the opportunity to talk and work together.

Any one of these individuals could be taken as proof that Chomsky is wrong and that the true supporters of Israel are not supporters of a model of government that might inevitably lead to the country’s moral degeneration and ultimate destruction.

All of these people, tellingly, argue that the seeds they choose to nurture will grow and lead not to destruction but to a resolution they call “Two States for Two Peoples”.

That is an objective we should all support. Indeed we must support that objective because we owe it to people like the 14-year old boy I watched in Ofer Military Court and to everyone else who supports Israel.

Traumatised 12yo girl shot in both legs at Israeli checkpoint in attempted ‘Suicide by Soldier.’

Israeli forces shot an unarmed and suicidal child, Bara Esawi, 12, three times in the legs for failing to halt at Eliyahu checkpoint near Qalqilya, northwest of Ramallah in the West Bank, on September 21.

Bara Esawi, 12, was hospitalized after Israeli soldiers at Eliyahu checkpoint shot her legs for failing to stop. (Photo: Esawi family)
(Photo: Esawi family)

“In a case like this, where a child has attempted suicide by soldier, we are reminded that Palestinian children represent a vulnerable population,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at Defense for Children International – Palestine. “The media narrative of Palestinian children as would-be attackers does not reflect the reality on the ground.”

Bara, who was carrying only school books in her backpack, told DCIP that she missed her aunt whom Israeli soldiers shot dead at the same checkpoint in November 2015 after she allegedly brandished a knife, and wanted to “join her.” As she approached the checkpoint, Bara said she became afraid and wanted to return, but the soldiers aimed their weapons at her and spoke to her in Hebrew.

“Suddenly, one of the soldiers shot me three times, once in my left leg and twice in my right leg. I fell to the ground and my books scattered all over the place.”

“I stopped where I was because I did not understand what they wanted,” said Bara. “Suddenly, one of the soldiers shot me three times, once in my left leg and twice in my right leg. I fell to the ground and my books scattered all over the place.”

A military ambulance took Bara to Meir medical center in the Israeli city of Kfar Saba, where doctors informed her that she needed surgery to remove the three bullets lodged in her legs.

Bara spoke to a lawyer from DCIP from her hospital bed, while under guard by two Israeli soldiers. Bara said that nurses at the hospital were treating her badly and calling her a terrorist. She also reported that she was interrogated in the hospital without being informed of her rights, and without the presence of a lawyer or family member, and signed a statement without knowing its contents.

“The interrogator accused me of attempted stabbing against the soldiers at the checkpoint, but I denied it and told him I just wanted to get killed and that is why I came to the checkpoint carrying only my schoolbag, not a knife or a gun,” Bara told DCIP.

Israeli media initially misreported the incident as an attempted stabbing attack. However, following the shooting, the Israeli Defense Ministry issued a statement reporting that they found no traces of weapons when they searched Bara’s schoolbag, and the Israeli military court in Salem decided not to extend her detention.

The day before Bara was shot, 15-year-old Issa Salem Mahmoud Tarairah was fatally shot at a checkpoint near Bani Na’im after he was allegedly seen carrying a knife. A paramedic with the Palestinian Red Crescent told DCIP that he did not see a knife on the scene when he arrived to provide assistance.

Issa was killed during the most concentrated period of deadly violence in the West Bank since June, which saw four Palestinian boys killed by Israeli forces between September 16-20, three of them at checkpoints.

The fourth, Firas Moussa Mohammad Khaddour, 17, was fatally shot by Israeli soldiers after his car crashed at the entrance to the Israeli settlement, Kiryat Arba, on September 16. An eyewitness, who was in the vehicle at the time, told DCIP that Firas was not committing a ramming attack and that the crash was an accident.

A 2014 cross-sectional study published by the World Journal of Medical Sciences found that 25.28 percent of 720 Palestinian adolescents surveyed had attempted suicide. The paper stressed the need for stepped-up efforts “to reduce the escalating ideation and trend of suicide among the most vulnerable populations.”

published by Defence for Children International – Palestine: 02nd November 2016

Scottish Tories send first ever delegation to Israel…

This week the Scottish Conservatives sent their first ever delegation to Israel to build closer ties with the far right Israeli administration. The delegation consisted of nine Conservative MSPs, including several shadow cabinet ministers, the chief whip and the party’s director.

Conservatives

 

Whilst there they ‘met with Israeli MKs, local businessmen and security officials and received briefings by the IDF at the Syrian border.’

However I think we can be pretty sure that they would have made no effort whatsoever to visit occupied Palestine… to go and see how ordinary Palestinians survive in overcrowded refugee camps under constant terror day and night from the Israeli occupation forces.

You can also bet that the delegation of Tory MSPs never made arrangements to interview any of the Palestinian children presently illegaly held under administrative detention (imprisonment without charge) in Israeli prisons to find out about the heinous treatment they endure… to investigate the allegations of torture against these young children.

Do we expect any Parliamentary questions from the Holyrood opposition on these subjects when they return and get back to work? No, not likely! No, from what I hear we’ll see praise upon praise heaped onto the Israeli authorities… we’ll hear talk of the necessity to build more bridges with this under siege democracy, bullied by all of its violent neighbours, and we will, ironically, hear MSPs commend Israel for letting Turkish aid convoys into the besieged open air prison that is Gaza

 

New Israeli ‘Youth Bill’ permits imprisonment of Palestinian children.

Yesterday, 3rd August, the ‪‎Israeli‬ parliament passed a bill into law which would permit the imprisonment of Palestinian children aged 14 and younger.

The ‘Youth Bill’ allows Israeli authorities to imprison Palestinian children if convicted of “terrorism” against Israeli civilians or military personnel.

The intention of this new law is to punish primarily Palestinians from occupied ‪‎East Jerusalem‬. ‪‎Palestinian‬ minors from the occupied ‪‎WestBank‬ have long since been at the receiving end of the Israel occupation forces military court system.

Credit Ma'an News Agency
Credit Ma’an News Agency

 

Read the full story here:

Credit Ma’an News Agency

G4S to withdraw from Israel.

imageIn a major development, G4S has announced that it will ‘exit the Israeli market in the next 12 to 24 months’.

G4S is heavily invested in the Israeli occupation, providing equipment and services to Israeli checkpoints in the Occupied West Bank and operating Israeli prisons and detention centres where Palestinian prisoners, including children, are held, some without charge. It has also been reported that prisoners in these facilities are routinely tortured.

Read more.