Last Thursday, in the early hours of the morning, a Palestinian community leader’s home was raided by Israeli security forces. In front of his family, the wanted man was hauled off to detention without access to a lawyer, while his home and offices were ransacked and property confiscated.
While this sounds like an all-too typical occurrence in West Bank villages such as Bil’in and Beit Omar, in fact, the target in question this time was Ameer Makhoul, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and head of internationally renowned NGO network Ittijah.
After being snatched last week, Makhoul’s detention was subject to a court-enforced gagging order, preventing the Israeli media from even reporting that it had happened. This ban was finally lifted yesterday, as Israeli newspapers were being forced to report on angry protests by Palestinians in Israel without explaining the specific provocation. Read more
On this year’s Land Day, tens of thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel marched in Sakhnin, an Israeli city in the Lower Galilee, to protest against past and present systematic discrimination. But with the focus on Israel’s policies of land confiscation, there was significance in a second protest that day.
In the Negev (referred to as al-Naqab by Palestinian Bedouins), over 3,000 attended a rally at al-Araqib, an ‘unrecognised’ Palestinian Bedouin village whose lands are being targeted by the familiar partnership of the Israeli state and the Jewish National Fund.
The historical context for the crisis facing Palestinian Bedouins today is important, as the Israeli government and Zionist groups try to propagate the idea that the problems, so far as they exist, are ‘humanitarian’ or ‘cultural’. Read more
Arab members of Israel’s Knesset (MKs) are accustomed to political marginalisation, as well as being targets for abuse and threats to their positions. Recently, however, there has been a further deterioration, as two elected representatives of the non-Jewish minority, Mohammed Barakeh and Said Naffaa, have been subjected to criminal proceedings.
Barakeh is currently on trial for four separate charges, relating to incidents alleged to have taken place at separate public demonstrations over a period stretching from 2005 to 2007. Apart from protesting his innocence, the Palestinian MK claims that the process is politically motivated. Adalah, the legal advocacy group whose lawyers are representing him, agree — they described the indictment as criminalising “legitimate political activities” and an attempt “to harm the reputation and status of an Arab leader”. Read more
Standing with Palestinian Bedouin activists on the traditional lands of al-Araqib, we watched as Jewish National Fund workers in the distance continued preparing the ground for the ‘Ambassador’s Forest’. Earlier in the day, I had stood on a hillside: in front lay an ‘unrecognised’ Bedouin village, denied basic infrastructure and services. Across the road was a fully integrated Jewish community.
Separation and inequality – it could have been anywhere in the Occupied Territories, where Jewish settlements lie alongside impoverished Palestinian communities threatened with demolition orders for ‘illegal’ construction. But it is not just in the West Bank colonies that the Israeli authorities work with ideologically motivated para-state agencies to ‘protect’ and ‘redeem’ the land. The phenomenon is as familiar in the Naqab (Negev). Demolitions, housing shortages, and politically driven Jewish settlement of the kind faced by Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank are also everyday challenges confronting Palestinian citizens of Israel. With all the significant differences in conditions on either side of the Green Line, the Israeli state’s policies towards its minority citizens and the militarily occupied Palestinians have been shaped by similar strategic goals. Read more
Mothers with prams mixed with old men leaning on sticks, and groups of teenagers sang boisterously alongside those walking in silence. All along the stony path, the sun’s rays shone through the tree tops to illuminate the flags and placards. Not every afternoon woodland stroll is labelled a “subversive challenge” to the state, but the Palestinian citizens of Israel were well aware of the significance of their alternative ‘Independence Day’ event, as they gathered on the ruins of Safuriyya, one of the hundreds of villages destroyed by Israel in 1948. Read more