B’Tselem Spokesperson Shot By Border Police

My friend, Sarit Michaeli, B’Tselem’s tireless spokesperson, was shot in the thigh with a rubber-coated bullet by Israeli Border Police

B’Tselem spokesperson Sarit Michaeli, holds a rubber coated bullet, which was taken out of her leg, in Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv, July 20, 2013. Photo by: Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org

B’Tselem spokesperson Sarit Michaeli, holds a rubber coated bullet, which was taken out of her leg, in Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv, July 20, 2013. Photo by: Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org

Friday during the weekly demonstration at a-Nabi Saleh, The Palestinian village has suffered from Israel taking parts of its land and the nearby settlement of Halamish stealing its already limited supply of water.

Sarit, in her account of the incident, which I’ve pasted below, makes it clear that there were no stone-throwers anywhere near her, that the police, as they regularly do, violated even their own rules of engagement, and that either she or some other non-violent civilians near her had to have been intentionally targeted: “In order to shoot at me, the soldier had to knowingly point his weapon in my direction, or in the direction of a medic and two Palestinian female protesters who were close to me. No one standing in my vicinity threw any stones.” Continue reading

Degel Shakhor (Black Flag)

The phrase “degel shakhor,” lierally “black flag,” refers to a principle in the Israeli military which is supposed to encourage soldiers not to carry out immoral orders. “Just

Ben Dunkelman in 1948

following orders” was not supposed to be an excuse.

Reality never measures up to ideals, and it is just as hard for Israeli soldiers to defy orders as it is for any other. This was true in 1948 and, as we have seen in the many reports from B’Tselem and the extensive testimonies of Israeli veterans that Shovrim Shtika(Breaking the Silence) has published, it is at least as true today.

But Bernard Avishai, in his latest blog piece, reminded me of the story of Ben Dunkelman, who refused to carry out an order to violate an agreement the IDF had made with the Arab citizens of Nazareth and expel those citizens from the territory the fledgling state held at the time. In the end, Dunkelman’s refusal spared Nazareth’s population from expulsion.

Avishai recounts the story with some important context, and you should check out his rendering. For this space, here is the Wikipedia summary, which gives you the basics of what happened.

In his autobiography, called Dual Allegiance,[3] Dunkelman tells the story of how, between July 8 and 18, 1948 during Operation Dekel, he led the 7th Brigade and its supporting units as it moved to capture the town of Nazareth. Nazareth surrendered after little more than token resistance. The surrender was formalized in a written agreement, where the town leaders accepted to cease hostilities in return for solemn promises from the Israeli officers, including Dunkelman, that no harm would come to the civilians of the town.

Shortly following the capture, Dunkelman received orders from General Chaim Laskov to expel the civilian population in the town, but he refused to implement these orders. The Israeli journalist and translator Peretz Kidron, with whom Dunkelman collaborated in writing Dual Allegiance, reproduced his record of Dunkelman’s account of the capture of Nazareth in a book chapter entitled “Truth Whereby Nations Live”: Continue reading

Early Thoughts On Naqba Day Tragedies

I have a few early thoughts on the Nakba Day violence which, to this point, has claimed eight lives. But I want to start with those of a colleague, Mya Guarnieri, a reporter for al-Jazeera and one of my teammates in building the upcoming Babylon Times site.

Mya was at Qalandia checkpoint, between Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank. Her tweets illuminate some of what happened, and also some of

Protesters at Qalandia Checkpoint flee IDF fire. Photo by Joseph Dana

how it might be reported…

myaguarnieri myaguarnieri

i was in #qalandia, even before the protest began. the protesters were unarmed and approached singing and chanting and waving flags and…

myaguarnieri myaguarnieri

…they were met with tear gas. the army will try to tell you that the tear gas was a response to stone-throwing. but it was not..

myaguarnieri myaguarnieri

the tear gas was excessive. i retched alongside a CHILD, a little boy…

myaguarnieri myaguarnieri

later,i met amazing palestinian-amrcn women who embraced me as an americanisraeli.they wondered aloud why we can’t just build state together

myaguarnieri myaguarnieri

and then we ran from the live ammo Continue reading

The Gaza Flotilla Inquiry: Afloat in a sea of whitewash

Today, Israel’s Turkel Commission came out with its first report on its inquiry into the Gaza flotilla debacle. Their report stated that the IDF acted properly and legally. Roi Maor, over at 972mag.com, efficiently breaks down just how much of a sham the report is.

It would feel much better for me to report that Israel was capable of investigating itself; it has done so in the past, perhaps not to everyone’s satisfaction, but in a manner that I think put it, back then, ahead of most, maybe any other country in the world.

But a quarter century later, this is a very different Israel. And this particular outcome was predictable, not because of cynicism about Israel’s ability in this regard, but by the behavior of the commission itself. This is demonstrated in this piece, which I wrote back in October.

It really doesn’t make sense anymore to demand that Israel investigate itself. It rarely does so, and this sort of thing is the result when it does.

972 Magazine Exposes IDF Double-Talk on Death of Woman in Bi’lin

Earlier this week, the story broke that Jawaher Abu Rahmeh, the Palestinian woman who died after being injured by tear gas during a weekly protest against the Israeli security barrier in Bi’lin, had died as a result of poor medical care at the hospital in Ramallah.

Case closed, right? Not so fast.

Jawaher Abu Rahmeh

972 Magazine has been on top of this thing from the beginning. And their blogger, Yossi Gurvitz, noticed right off that the reports attributed the announcement of the conclusion of the IDF investigation to unnamed military sources. So, the intrepid Gurvitz called the IDF Spokesman, who immediately denied that any result of the investigation had been arrived at.

Hmmmm.

Weeks ago, the Central Command brass engaged a whole slew of right-wing Israeli bloggers to spread their initial version of Abu Rahmeh’s death. Now, these bloggers have been embarrassed and thrown under the proverbial bus as they passionately advocated the IDF story, which the IDF later contradicted. Jerry Haber, at the Magnes Zionist, reviews the various stories that the IDF has put out there. Three and counting so far.

Gurvitz describes the game that is being played. It’s worth your time to read it in full. But the short form is that the IDF, in an effort to manage the issue and to try to defuse yet another potential shock to their image is having the Spokesman give the official line, which is that the incident is being investigated, while Gen. Avi Mizrahi’s Central Command office is anonymously putting out one story after another to try to explain Jawaher’s death and why the IDF was not at fault.

There is, of course, a better way to deal with this, and that is for the IDF to obey the order of the Israeli High Court of Justice and move the barrier out of Bi’lin, where it serves to undermine, rather than enhance Israeli security and cuts off the people of Bi’lin from much of their town’s lands, which are needed for grazing and other purposes. But that’s not likely to happen as long as the IDF can thumb its nose at not only international law but even Israeli law with impunity.

Until that changes, we can at least count ourselves lucky that we have 972 and other hard-working Israelis to at least expose these shoddy tactics.