Yesterday, an ultra-orthodox Jew stabbed six people who attended the Jerusalem Pride Parade. The man was released just a few weeks ago from an Israeli prison after spending ten years for stabbing three people are the 2005 Jerusalem Pride Parade. This follows years of homophobic comments from rabbis, ultra-orthodox and Jewish Home (nationalist-religious party) members of Knesset and repeated blocking of pro-LGBT rights legislation by Netanyahu’s coalition.
Then this morning, we found out that overnight, settlers threw Molotov cocktails on Palestinian homes in Douma, near Nablus, injuring four members of one family and killing an 18-months-old baby, Ali Dawabsheh. His mother and four-year-old brother are still in critical condition in an Israeli hospital. The settlers spray-painted a Star of David, “vengeance” and “Long live the King, the Messiah” in Hebrew. This is the third attack with Molotov cocktails on a Palestinian home during the night in the past year and a half. The purpose of these attacks is clear- to burn to death families while they sleep.
Following these attacks by Jewish extremists, Israeli ministers rushed to condemn the attack, but those condemnations ring hollow. The government constantly caves under pressure from radical settlers who resort to violence even against Israeli security forces. IDF soldiers routinely observe violent attacks against Palestinians and their property and do nothing. The chance that a Palestinian complaint about settler violence will lead to an indictment is just 7.6%. Hundreds of “Price Tag” attacks (the name of attacks on Palestinians and their property) have been carried out by settlers in the past few years and only in very rare cases are the perpetrators caught and brought to justice. This is simply not a priority for this government. Extremist Rabbis who issued public calls to use violence against Palestinians and “cleanse” the Land of Israel from them are not facing incitement charges.
How a Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, MK Betzalel Smutrich (Jewish Home party) chose to respond to the murder in Douma: “The murder in Douma deserves every condemnation and denunciation. It is bad because it’s bad and it’s bad because it’s harmful [to Israel’s/settlers’ image]. The IDF must prepare for the riots that will develop. They must prevent a wave of murderous Palestinian terrorism.” In 2006, Smutrich organized a “Beasts’ Parade” in front of the Jerusalem Pride Parade and in 2005, during the Israeli Disengagement from Gaza, he and four other far-right Israeli were caught with 700 liters of gasoline and oil and was suspected of planning to carry out terror attacks.
When the Israeli Minister of Justice posts on her Facebook (during the war in Gaza) that all Palestinians are legitimate targets, including children and women, it is clear that the problem is much deeper and goes much higher than just a few (hundreds/thousands) extreme settlers.
The dehumanization of Palestinians by Israeli government officials that is used to justify Israel’s subjugation of the Palestinian people under military rule and blockade is the root of the problem. The lack of action by the Israeli government and these terror attacks are the symptoms.
After a passionate debate and a filibuster by opposition members of Knesset, the new amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law passed 30 to 15 early Tuesday morning. The new amendment, hurriedly drafted and passed by the governing coalition, will replace the 2012 amendment to the law, which was nixed by the High Court of Justice three months ago.
The previous amendment to the law permitted the detention of asylum seekers without trial for a three-year period in Israel’s Saharonim and Ktziot prisons. Under the new amendment, asylum seekers will be jailed for one year in the prisons, followed by additional indefinite detention in a specially constructed internment camp operated by the Israeli Prison Service.
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Since the beginning of 2013, Assad’s forces have laid siege on the suburbs of the capital known as Ghouta, which was the target of a chemical weapons attack earlier this summer. Regime forces are stopping food and other goods from coming in and as winter approaches, activists are warning that the situation is about to get even worse.
The chemical weapons attack on the eastern and southern outskirts of Damascus (collectively known as Ghouta) have garnered a great deal of international attention over the past month. While pundits and experts discussed the imminent American-led strike on regime targets and later how to disarm the Assad regime of its chemical weapon stockpiles, however, few focused on the situation on the ground in the areas affected by the chemical attack itself (which are targets of daily artillery attacks and air strikes by the regime). These areas have been besieged by the regime forces since January 2013, leading to severe shortages of food, medicine and fuel that have resulted in the death of at least eight malnourished children and many patients who could have been saved had proper medical treatment been available to them.
Ghouta has been an opposition stronghold since the first days of the Syrian uprising. Many of the residents of Ghouta’s conservative Sunni working-class towns were displaced from southern and eastern Syria due to long years of drought and the government’s mismanagement of the drought crisis. During the initial, peaceful stage of the Syrian uprising, Ghouta witnessed large protests. Soon after the opposition began to arm itself in 2011, the towns of Ghouta were wrestled from regime control in 2012 and are now in the hands of the rebels. Civil society organizations sprung up to fill the void created by the government’s absence in the area.
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In June 2012, Israel began implementing the amendment to the Anti-Infiltration Law according to which all asylum seekers who cross the Israel-Egypt border are automatically jailed or subjected to internment for a minimum period of three years without trial. [Note: Internment is the imprisonment or confinement of people, commonly in large groups, without trial.]
Citizens of ‘enemy states’ (such as Sudan) are jailed indefinitely. The law does not include an exception for children or asylum seekers who have survived the torture camps in Sinai. The amendment to the law, promoted by the Benjamin Netanyahu government, passed into law in January 2012, but its implementation was postponed because Israel did not have enough prison places to accommodate the flow of asylum seekers entering Israel. During 2012, the Israeli government undertook a massive construction effort, erecting three new internment camps for asylum seekers. In addition to the expansion of the already-operational Saharonim interment camp (3,500 prison places), Israel constructed the Ktziot (2,400 prison places), Nachal Raviv (4,000 prison places) and Sadot (8,000 prison places) camps. The camps, most of them consisting of tents surrounded by guard posts, fences and barbed wire, were erected near the Israel-Egypt border, in the Negev desert.
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The Prevention of Infiltration Law, which enables asylum seekers to be detained for three years or more without trial, can now be applied to anyone with a ‘criminal background.’ But what does ‘criminal background’ mean? It’s unclear.
In early July 2012, the Ministry of Interior and the Israel Police decided to allow asylum seekers with a vaguely defined “criminal background” to be detained under the new Prevention of Infiltration Law. Following the expansion of prisons to hold thousands more migrants, Israel began enforcing the law on June 3. Since then, all newly arrived asylum seekers, including children and torture survivors, are jailed without trial for a minimum period of three years. According to the new decision, asylum seekers who were arrested upon entering Israel but released from detention before the law’s implementation can be detained again if they have a “criminal background.”
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