striking against ethnic cleansing

so apparently there is a strike today in the west bank. i found out about it only minutes after i got out of my pjs ready to go on with my day. i had a tawjihi class in balata refugee camp and then i was supposed to go to ramallah for a hip hop concert to benefit gaza. but services and taxis are hard to come by today, and apparently, shops are closed too:

West Bank cities and towns are observing a comprehensive strike following a call from the Palestinian Liberation Organization last week in protest of Israeli plans to destroy 90 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem.

Transportation and commercial services in all West Bank areas is reduced as many drivers and shop owners close-up in support of the strike called by Secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee Yasser Abed Rabbo.

In Nablus close to 60% of shops are closed. One merchant, who decided to remain open during the day-long strike explained that he decided to remain open because of several phone calls from local residents asking whether or not the shop, which sells basic dry goods, would be open so they could do weekly grocery shopping.

Another merchant, also open, said solidarity with Jerusalem should not be expressed through strikes in the West Bank, but rather by more active means. “We are ready to go to Jerusalem to protest against Israeli procedures in the city,” he said.

In Jericho nearly 90% of shops were shut, and schools with classes on Saturdays were closed.

Ramallah streets were empty with almost all commercial areas shut down. Locals reported only pharmacies, bakeries and clinics were open in the early hours of the strike.

it is not just the settlements in the silwan area of al quds, however, it is everywhere, which is why striking is an important act of solidarity. the most recent such plans for expansion of israeli terrorist colonies were recently made public:

A key Israeli government agency has been promoting plans to build thousands of new houses in illegal West Bank settlements, government documents made public on Friday show.

Documents from Israel’s Civil Administration, the government organ responsible for nonmilitary affairs in the occupied West Bank, were obtained by the organization B’Tselem through a Freedom of Information request.

The plans, developed over the last two years, were approved by the Environment Subcommittee of the Civil Administration’s planning wing and plot out a major expansion of the Gush Eztion settlement bloc. If realized the plan will cut a swath of the West Bank adjacent to the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, and annex it to the new settlement areas.

The initial construction would see 550 apartments constructed in an area beside the Allon Shevut settlement, followed by an additional 4,450. At present this area is inhabited by just 12 settler families. In neighboring Bat Ayin, currently home to 120 families, 2,000 apartments are planned.

The documents show that Ma’ale Adumim, a major settlement east of Jerusalem, has also planned to add 3,500 housing units in the E1 area, a key slice of land that, if confiscated by Israel, would slice the West Bank sliced into two zones, essentially cutting off the north from the south.

there is a great article on electronic intifada by sami abu shehadeh & fadi shbaytah about historical, current, ongoing ethnic cleansing by israeli terrorists, which was originally published in badil’s al majdal magazine. i recommend reading the entire article to get a sense how this problem in yaffa–like everywhere in palestine–continues until now, but here is an excerpt:

Zionist forces initiated a cruel siege on the city of Jaffa in March 1948. The youth of the city formed popular resistance committees to confront the assault. On 14 May 1948, the Bride of the Sea fell to the Zionist military forces; that same evening the leaders of the Zionist movement in Palestine declared the establishment of the state of Israel. Approximately 4,000 of the 120,000 Palestinians managed to remain in their city after it was militarily occupied. They were all rounded up and ghettoized in al-Ajami neighborhood which was sealed off from the rest of the city and administered as essentially a military prison for two subsequent years; the military regime under which Israel governed them lasted until 1966. During this period, al-Ajami was completely surrounded by barbed wire fencing that was patrolled by Israeli soldiers and guard dogs. It was not long before the new Jewish residents of Jaffa, and based on their experience under Nazism in Europe, began to refer to the Palestinian neighborhood as the “ghetto.”

In addition to being ghettoized, the Palestinians who remained in Jaffa had lost everything overnight: their city, their friends, their families, their property and their entire physical and social environment. Most had lost their homes as the Israeli military forced them into al-Ajami. Legislator, judge and executioner in the Ajami ghetto was the military commander; without his permission one could not enter or leave the ghetto, and rights to things like education and work were among those rights that Palestinians were denied. Arab states were classified as enemy states, and so making contact with the expelled family and friends, the refugees, was strictly prohibited. This was the nightmare lived by the Palestinians of Jaffa after the 1948 Nakba.

In the early 1950s, Jaffa was administratively engulfed by the Tel Aviv municipality that became known as Tel Aviv-Yafo; the Palestinians of Jaffa went from being a majority in their city and homeland to the two-percent “enemies of the state,” a minority of Israel’s main metropolis. The municipality immediately began drawing up plans for what they called the “Judaization” of the city, renaming the Arabic streets of the city after Zionist leaders, demolishing much of the old Arab architecture, and completely destroying the buildings in the surrounding neighborhoods and villages that were depopulated during the 1948 Nakba. The new curriculum introduced in Palestinian schools denied that the place had any Arab-Palestinian history at all, a facet of the Israeli education system that continues until today.

i think it is always important to keep in mind that this process of ethnic cleansing takes place all over palestine: in gaza, in the west bank, and in 1948 palestine. it has never ended. not for one second. sometimes it is by stealing land and forcibly removing families on that land. other times it is about mass murder, as with gaza’s samouni family. imran garda’s important new show, “focus on gaza,” on al jazeera revisits this traumatized family and explores the continuing effect of the continuing siege on gaza:

and this aggression against gaza has not ended, yet another man died due to israeli terrorist’s murderous rampage:

A Palestinian man from Gaza died on Saturday due to wounds he sustained last month during the Israeli military offensive, Palestinian medical sources reported.

Doctors said that Nihad Abu Ikmel, 29, died on Saturday at an Egyptian hospital, they added that he was send their after sustain wounds in his head.

The Israeli military offensive lasted for 22 days and ended on January 18th, it left at least 1,400 Palestinian killed and more than 6,000 injured.

you can also see the ongoing assault on gaza by watching this video from thursday night/friday morning when rafah was besieged by american-made planes and weapons in the hands of israeli terrorists:

perhaps this is why a group in argentina recently held a tribunal in which they found israeli terrorists to be guilty of genocide:

The International Tribunal of Conscience which convened in Argentine reported to the international community to the First ruling against Crimes against Genocide and on Palestinian Children in the Gaza Strip during Israeli massive offensive.

The International Tribunal of Conscience, composed of 14 prosecutors on Human Rights, 11 countries, 9 in Latin America, Africa and Asia denounces heinous crimes and the systematic advancement of infanticide against children in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli army.

The International Tribunal over the Childhood Affected by War and Poverty of the Mission Diplomatique Internationale Humanitaire RWANDA 1994 was led by its International President, Sergio Tapia and International Human Rights Prosecutor of the International Tribunal of Conscience, reported Palestine News Network.

and this is why my dear friend naji ali sees such deep comparisons between what happens here in palestine and in south africa where he grew up:

I am a product of South African apartheid. Born to a Black South African father and African American mother, I lived the first eight years of my life under one of the most racist governments in the world.

I witnessed firsthand how the White South African government—through mass arrests, dispossession, denial of freedom of movement, and targeted assassinations—tried to break the will of the people. I saw how Black South Africans and their supporters would cry out, “this is nothing short of racism and ethnic cleansing.” But the standard refrain from the government was always the same: “We are fighting against communism and terror. What we are trying to do is keep the country safe from chaos.” This was code for wanting to keep the country safe for all its white citizens. But it wasn’t merely the government that co-opted this stance. The recruitment of academics and the media also helped perpetuate the myth that the state’s majority Black population would one day try rise up and kill all the good white folks.

So for me, watching the carnage that Israel rained down upon the 1.5 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, creates an eerie sense of déjà vu….

In South Africa, parliamentary ministers gave the Israeli ambassador to South Africa, Dov Segev-Steinberg, a severe tongue-lashing, accusing his government of perpetrating “racist” abuses against the Palestinian people “that make apartheid look like a Sunday school picnic”.

The aim of this horrible conflict was to stop Hamas resistance fighters from firing rockets into southern Israel and to remove the government from power. In both attempts it is clear that Israel failed.

Israel’s attempt to justify the bombing of a UN school, from which they claimed fighters fired upon their troops, turned out to be a lie. Tens of women and children were murdered in the assault.

Israel claims to be the only democracy in the Middle East yet by a margin of 26-3, the Israeli Central Elections Committee decided to ban the Balad Party from running in the upcoming election. By a margin of 21-8, they also banned the United Arab List-Ta’al (UAL-T).

The Arab parties earned the ire of the most hawkish elements in the Israeli government by publicly opposing the war in the Gaza Strip.

The fortress that Israel had long set up to ‘protect its citizens’ is cracking.

No more can the world sit by as it did in South Africa and let the slaughter of innocents continue. No more can the narrative of any conflict begin with the ridiculously one sided statement that “Israel has a right to defend itself.” Zionist lobbies must be countered in the United States; boycott and divestment must commence; mainstream media must be challenged; and political and military leaders in Israel who have committed war crimes must be brought to justice.

We are now in the darkest days of this conflict. Israel no longer seems to care what the world thinks of its actions. Mass slaughter of innocents is seen as a justifiable means to combat terror, and Israeli leaders make no apologies for the hell that the region’s 1.5 million residents have endured. These are the same dark days, the darkest hours that I remember going through in South Africa just before the light showed through and a new dawn arose. Just like in South Africa, where Blacks can now vote, hold public office and live and go where they choose, the dawn will break for the Palestinians too. They will emerge from these dark hours.

The only question we need ask ourselves now is how long will the dark days remain? 

and because of these egregious parallels to apartheid, because of this ongoing ethnic cleansing project, there is yet another company you all should add to your boycott list NOW…Lego:

Denmark’s ambassador to Israel, Liselotte Plesner, visited Sderot on Tuesday to take part in a celebration – held in a fortified pre-school – to honor a generous contribution by the LEGO group to WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organization) pre-schools.

The LEGO group contributed two large containers holding a thousand boxes of ‘duplos’ – large-sized Lego blocks. The Danish toys will be distributed among 170 WIZO pre-schools across Israel and particularly to the 35 pre-schools located in southern communities, where residents are still suffering from rocket-fire.

for those of you who have children who love this toy, i ask you to do something that will benefit your child far more than any plastic toy will do: work to make toys with your child. use fond object with which your child can build things. you will foster creativity in your child and you will help them to become mechanical and creative at the same time.

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