Sights that the ‘flytilla’ activists weren’t allowed to see | #Airflotilla2

To distance certain sights from the eyes of the world, the Israeli government has turned its international airport into a military outpost.

By Akiva Eldar | Haaretz | April 17, 2012

What would Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu do without the massacre in Syria? How would Esti Perez, the presenter of the midday news program B’Hatzi Hayom on Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet, dare bother MK Hanin Zoabi with the question, “Why don’t you go to demonstrate in Syria?” and reply to her statement about the occupation with the insolent remark, “Do you really believe what you’re saying?”

It’s a good thing there are journalists in Israel like Arye Yoeli, editor of the national religious website Srugim, who suggested giving a medal of honor to Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner, deputy commander of the IDF’s Jordan Valley brigade, who “restored the Israel Defense Forces’ deterrence capability.” According to Yoeli, the hero who with his own body blocked the company of enemy cyclists that threatened to close the half-deserted Jordan Valley highway for an hour is a model of Jewish fighting ethics.

Amos Biderman
Photo by: Amos Biderman

As a service to Reshet Bet listeners who don’t make do with the reports on the human rights situation in Syria, and to readers of Srugim who think Eisner is not a model of Jewish ethics, here are two stories from the routine of the occupation. To distance such sights from the eyes of the world, the Israeli government has turned its international airport into a military outpost.

The first story is a chapter in the series of reports published here about the demolition of residential buildings and sheep pens, and a demolition order against solar panels that serve Palestinian cave dwellers in Mount Hebron. The Civil Administration explained that the buildings were constructed without a permit and that the construction continued despite repeated warnings.

They’re right. A law is a law. Until it affects the settlers. Had police not expelled some of them at the airport and punched others in the face, the human rights activists would have learned about everything from Rabbi Arik Ascherman of Rabbis for Human Rights (and at the same time would have learned that not every religious Zionist is a groupie of Eisner’s ).

For the past 10 years Ascherman’s organization and activists from the Jewish-Arab NGO Ta’ayush have been keeping track in frustration of the development of the Avigayil outpost in the South Hebron Hills. A few meters away from the land of the outpost are private lands of Palestinians whose rights to them are recognized by the government. The more the outpost expands, the greater the area that is inaccessible to the Palestinians, that the settlers are forcibly distancing them from every time they want to work their land.

“I remember the day when the first trailer was brought there,” says Ascherman. “Since then the outpost has been flourishing under the noses of the Civil Administration and before the eyes that see the large signs, ‘We are growing,’ posted by Amana, the construction entrepreneur of Judea and Samaria, along with details about how to contact them. Three weeks ago our people noticed preparatory excavations for a residential building and work on a new road. They went up to the outpost together with one of the Palestinian land owners, filmed the heavy equipment in operation and contacted the Civil Administration. An officer named Tomer arrived at the site with the land coordinator from the regional council.” Two days later it was reported that the work had been resumed. Israeli and international activists returned to the site, documented the activity and invited the police and Civil Administration.”

The law enforcers who receive a salary for supervising activity in their jurisdiction and for arresting lawbreakers (without the help of peace activists ) claimed that the work had stopped before they arrived at the outpost. Ascherman notes that whenever the Palestinians are caught in the act of illegal construction, Israeli authorities usually confiscate the equipment. The very heavy equipment seen in the filmed documentation was loaded onto a tow truck before the eyes of Ascherman’s activists, then security officials fled the site.

“The illegal construction by the settlers is only one part of a planning system and a land allocation policy that is biased in advance in favor of the settlers,” says Ascherman. “In the absence of political power and representation in the military planning systems, and without master plans, the Palestinians are unable to obtain permits even for building on their own private land.”

The reaction by the spokesman for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories: The case of Avigayil is known and construction on the site has stopped.

Who here is retarded?

Were it not for the treatment he received at the hands of the war hero in the battle of Jordan Valley, I would have recommended to the peace activist from Denmark (whose taxes, like those of other citizens of the European Union countries, are funding the occupation in the territories ) to meet with Haya A., an activist with Machsom Watch – an organization of Israeli women who monitor West Bank military checkpoints and courts – and to hear her detailed impressions of the discussion that took place April 4 in the military courthouse at Ofer prison. A brief summary:

Judge Esther Adar reads the indictment against Malek Mahmoud Ali Alami, about 20, accused of throwing stones on Route 6, and has confessed to the deed. The interpreter translates and the judge asks: “Do you understand?” Malek nods his head. A woman gets up to speak: “I’m a friend of the family and I’ve known Malek since he was eight years old. He is severely retarded and is incapable of such acts.” A man who introduces himself as Malek’s uncle gets up and adds: “His father is also like that. It’s a hereditary disease.” The interpreter translates hereditary as “psychological.” The judge orders that the district psychiatrist examine Malek and inform the court whether he understands the legal proceeding and is responsible for his deeds.

Malek sat in prison for about a month. How was the interrogation conducted with a retarded boy who nods his head in answer to every question? What would have happened had Haya not stood up and said what she knows,in Hebrew? How many Maleks are rotting in the military prisons of the only democracy in the Middle East?

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