Thursday, 22. February 2018

Israel’s Supreme Court recently held an urgent hearing on a petition filed by the NGO “Gisha” – The Legal Center for the Freedom of Movement – on behalf of employees of the Gaza branch of “Right to Play,” an international humanitarian organization that promotes treatment and rehabilitation of children facing adversity through educational play.

Israel is developing archaeological and tourism sites to legitimize illegal settlements in Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem, European Union diplomats in the city have warned.

A leaked report acquired by the British newspaper The Guardian cited projects in parts of East Jerusalem – occupied by Israel since 1967 – that are being used “as a political tool to modify the historical narrative and to support, legitimize and expand settlements.”

The Israeli government has “regularized” the previously unrecognized Jewish outpost of Gilad in the occupied West Bank, and will be connecting it to the electrical and water grids, and paving an access road for “security and humanitarian reasons.”

The government and the Ministerial Committee for Legislation are also considering a bill that would allow the transfer of Palestinian land in the West Bank – what the government considers “state land”(in defiance of the international consensus and international law) – to the World Zionist Organization’s (WZO) Settlement Division for the purposes of settlement construction.

The far-right Minister of Culture, Miri Regev, has instructed Israel’s embassy in France to boycott the opening ceremony of the Israeli Film Festival in Paris in March, after organizers refused Jerusalem’s requests not to screen the film Foxtrot.

Israel’s air force has carried out more than 100 bombing incursions deep inside Syrian territory over the past few years, with little acknowledgement from the Israeli media and without suffering any military or diplomatic repercussions. Early Saturday morning, February 10, this changed.

Iranian forces in Syria launched a drone that penetrated Israeli air space. An Israeli combat helicopter succeeded in downing the drone, after which Israel retaliated with an air sortie into Syria. One of the Israeli jets that took part in this attack was shot down on its way back to base by a Syrian anti-aircraft missile. Most Israelis were shocked by what happened, but they shouldn’t have been. This escalation has been building up for a long time.

The Communist Party of Israel (CPI) and Hadash (the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality) have called for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to immediately resign from his office following police recommendations to the state’s prosecution to indict him in connection with two corruption investigations.

An earthquake rocked the Israeli political establishment when the police endorsed charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust against Netanyahu on Tuesday, February 13.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday, February 12, that he has been conducting talks with the White House on a “historic” initiative to annex Israeli settlement areas in occupied Palestinian West Bank. On Sunday, Netanyahu asked coalition party leaders to put off the vote on the “sovereignty bill.” The proposal by the chairmen of the influential, right-wing Knesset Land of Israel Caucus, Yoav Kisch (Likud) and Bezalel Smotrich (HaBayit HaYehudi) was based on a Likud central committee decision calling to apply Israeli law to settlements, and both groups have been calling for the policy to be enacted.

One hundred supporters joined two conscientious objectors as they headed to the induction base of the Israeli military in the center of the country on Sunday, February 11, to declare their refusal to be inducted into the army. Saar Yahalom, 18, from the moshav Be’erotayim, and Matan Helman, 20, from Kibbutz HaOgen, say that they will not enlist due to their opposition to the occupation.

Among the demonstrators were dozens of young Jews and Arab communists, members of Hadash and the Communist Party of Israel, veteran refusers and MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash – Joint List).

For Yahalom, a leading member of the Young Communist League in Tel Aviv, this is his first declaration of intent to refuse to serve in the army; he is expected to serve an extended sentence. Helman, on the other hand, has already served 50 days behind bars during three separate periods of detention. He is expected to be jailed again.

Thousands of people marched through the streets of Jerusalem on Saturday night, February 10, calling on the far-right government to halt plans to deport nearly 40,000 African refugees and asylum-seekers. The protesters, both Israelis and refugees, held aloft signs reading: “No to forced deportations”; “Standing alongside south Tel Aviv”; “We are willing to accept refugees”; and “Love your brother as you love yourself."

Others carried pictures of migrants who were deported from Israel and later reportedly died while trying to reach Europe. A counter-protest of about fifty far-right activists who support the current government plan to deport asylum-seekers from Israel to an African country also took place.

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