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Here are the headlines from Mondoweiss for 02/10/2013:

Following Palestinian call, protests held in 40 European cities demanding end to international trade with Israeli agribusiness
Feb 09, 2013 02:31 pm | Adam Horowitz

Earlier today we published a report on a protest in Gaza that was part of a global day of action calling to boycott Israeli agricultural companies. There were also protests held across Europe which is a primary market for Israeli agricultural companies.

From a Palestinian BDS National Committee press release:

In Europe, many of the 40 protests that took place targeted Mehadrin, a large Israeli export company that supplies citrus fruits, dates and other fresh produce to supermarkets across Europe. The company operates in illegal Israeli settlements, is involved in the theft of Palestinian land and water and employs Palestinian workers forced to work in illegal settlements in unsafe conditions for as little as €11 per day.

“Israeli agriculture companies such as Mehadrin and Hadaklaim profit from the siege on Gaza and grow crops for export to European supermarkets in illegal settlements on land from which Palestinian farmers have been forcibly removed,” said Dr. Taha Rifae, director of the grassroots department at the Union of Agricultural Work Committees. Actions have also been taking place in the West Bank, culminating on a conference on building the boycott of Israeli agriculture on Monday in Salfit.

“Agriculture is a vital part of our economy and national heritage but it is being systematically destroyed and these companies are the primary beneficiaries. By trading with companies such as Mehadrin, European supermarkets are financing the dispossession of Palestinian farmers,” Rifae added.

A large demonstration is due to be held outside Mehadrin’s Swiss distribution centre this afternoon and the company will be protested as it participates in a major fresh produce show in Berlin.

In France, activists occupied the customs office in southern French city Montpellier to protest the nearby port of Sète being used to import produce from Israeli companies such as Mehadrin that operate in illegal Israeli settlements. More than 50 campaigners occupied the offices for more than an hour.

Protests were also held at supermarkets in more than 14 other French cities and in Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

In the UK, campaigners picketed more than 30 stores of major supermarket Sainsbury’s as part of a new campaign aimed at pressuring it to cut its ties with Mehadrin and EDOM, another Israeli company operating in settlements. The UK’s fifth biggest supermarket The Co-Operative Group last year announced it would no longer source products from any supplier that operates in illegal settlements and cut ties to four Israeli companies following pressure from its members.

A British businessman yesterday announced he would resign as chair and sells his shares in Israeli settlement exporter EDOM following concerns raised by campaigners.

All of the main Palestinian farming organisations have this morning issued a statement urging international civil society to take action against Israeli agriculture companies.

“Governments and supermarkets should take action to end trade with companies which is in effect financing Israeli violations of international law. European governments talk tough on settlements but allow supermarkets to support their expansion,” said Rifae.

The organisations also published a briefing entitled Farming Injustice, which details the systematic destruction of Palestinian agriculture by Israel and the role played by international trade with Israeli agribusinesses.

The protests followed a call by Palestinian agricultural organizations and NGO networks to end international trade with Israeli agricultural companies. From the call:

We, Palestinian organisations and unions representing farmers struggling for their right to their land and to food sovereignty, urge international civil society organisations to build effective campaigns and work towards ending agricultural trade with Israel that finances and rewards the destruction of Palestinian farming.

For Palestinians, farming is tied to Palestinian identity, history and resistance to Israel’s illegal occupation. Palestinian farmers face the brunt of Israel’s land confiscations, demolitions and theft of water. Farmers who still have access to land and water face systematic restrictions and violence. The siege of Gaza prevents farmers from accessing basic equipment and has made exports of fresh produce almost impossible. Farmers and fishermen regularly come under attack from the Israeli military.

Israeli agricultural export companies such as Mehadrin and Hadiklaim participate in Israel’s colonisation of Palestinian land by using stolen Palestinian water and growing cash crops for export markets in illegal settlements established on land in the occupied Palestinian territory from which Palestinian farmers have been driven. Such companies also profit from the siege on Gaza.

The booming international trade with companies that operate in and export from settlements enhances the viability of Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise. It also encourages and finances the expansion of settlements and the continued dispossession of Palestinian framers.

We urge organizations and activists upholding human rights principles and the right to food sovereignty to work with us to develop campaigns aimed at ending the trade in settlement produce. The most effective way of doing so is to follow the lead of the Co-Operative supermarket in the UK which decided in 2012 not to trade with any company that sources produce from Israel’s illegal settlements. We call for an end to all trade with Israeli agricultural companies that are complicit with Israel’s system of occupation, colonisation and apartheid.

We echo the call by leading Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq on states “to comply with their customary international obligations, by banning produce originating from Israeli settlements in the OPT.” Because Israeli companies routinely mislead governments and retailers about the origin of their produce and because any trade with Israeli companies operating in settlements de facto sustains and supports these settlements, we call on states to consider banning trade with Israeli companies exporting from settlements or issuing guidance recommending that retailers avoid trade with such companies.

We reject any suggestion that the reality that Palestinians are sometimes left with no choice but to export fresh produce through Israeli companies or work in illegal settlements is a reason not to take action to end international complicity in human rights violations. Helping us to break the chains of dependency by holding Israeli companies to account and working with us to export to world markets via socially responsible and law-abiding companies is the most honest and effective way to contribute to our struggle and our sustainable development.

As the global food system has been shaped in the narrow interests of large multinational corporations, millions of farmers and indigenous people have faced exploitation and the destruction of their communities. We stand in full solidarity with all those who are also fighting for the right to their land and the freedom to make their own choices about food production, trade and social and environmental sustainability. Let us join together in a struggle against occupation and dispossession and for freedom, justice and equality.

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Despite increased media attention, there is nothing new about Israel targeting Palestinian youth
Feb 09, 2013 01:54 pm | James Elliott

There was a noticeable increase in British coverage of Israel’s occupation in January, with The Guardian and the BBC running stories on the string of recent killings by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and Israel’s refusal to co-operate with the UN’s Human Rights Council. Whilst greater coverage of Israel’s killings in the occupied Palestinian territories is welcome, it must be noted that these events are not new in the slightest.

These killings include a 21-year old student from Hebron was shot and killed on her way to college. The fifth unarmed Palestinian killed in 13 days, Lubna Muneer Hanash and her friends were said to be walking through al-Aroub refugee camp before armed men drew up in a civilian car and got out, firing four bullets, one of them the fatal shot that killed her. Whilst the army and police spokesmen have claimed they were ‘returning fire’ from petrol bombs and that evidence could be found at the scene, eyewitness have reported Lubna Hanash was unarmed and killed in cold blood. Her killing, along with several others, prompted the IDF’s military commander to warn soldiers about the use of live fire.

In December, the IDF was responsible for killing Muhammad Ziad Awad Salaymah, who was gunned down in Hebron on his 17th birthday after supposedly brandishing a toy gun. Once again, the killing of a minor was justified as self-defence. Similar to the case of Lubna Hanash, Salaymah’s family have denied he was carrying a toy gun, and that Israelis held the body from the Palestinian Red Crescent for two hours, suggesting they had time enough to plant one. The Guardian also claims footage shows Salaymah being shot as he left the scene.

There is a long record of this kind of behaviour by the occupying Israeli forces. South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council, whilst studying apartheid in Israel, documented that during the final months of 2004 numerous killings were made by the IDF directed against students and children. Taking this small window of violence, we can see the character of the killings emerging.

On 7 September 2004, a ten-year old girl sitting at her desk in an UN Relief and Works Agency school in Khan Yunis camp was struck in the head by an Israeli bullet and died. This aggression was repeated a month later, when on October 3rd an Israeli tank drove through a school with children still in it, allegedly using it as a firing position. Twelve days later on the 15th of October, yet another child was killed whilst at their desk in a UN school. Two months after these incidents, a whole school was subjected to gunfire from Israeli forces which wounded no less than seven children, the eldest of them just nine years old.

The targeting of children whilst they sit in their classrooms, as depicted by the above examples, is a particularly serious offence, and the wider picture of Palestinian minors killed during the occupation is deeply distressing.

The Office for the Co-Ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) records at least 703 children killed by the IDF since January 2005 alone, whilst life is particularly bleak for Palestinian children in Gaza, with studies by Queen’s University Belfast estimating nearly all children in the besieged strip of land suffer from psychological trauma as a result of the Israeli occupation.

By far the deadliest period for Palestinian minors was during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead. This assault on the Gaza strip in late 2008 and early 2009 resulted in the deaths of over 300 Palestinian children, and was recorded in Amnesty International’s report as ’22 Days of Death and Destruction’. The report details that hundreds of these children were killed with highly-accurate weapons, suggesting clear intent:

“Children playing on the roofs of their homes or in the street and other civilians going about their daily business, as well as medical staff attending the wounded were killed in broad daylight by Hellfire and other highly accurate missiles launched from helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, and by precision projectiles fired from tanks.”

It is imperative to see the continuing killing of the young in light of the Israeli occupation’s long record of brutality towards Palestinian youth. The same Amnesty report highlights how targeted schools were smouldered with burning white phosphorous, which constitutes a war crime, something which Israeli authorities continue to deny. Again in the recent attack on Gaza in November 2012, a further 34 children were killed by Israeli weapons.

When the previous two months ‘mistakes’ like the deaths of Lubna Hanash and Ziad Salaymah are woven into the long and repetitive narrative of state killings with highly precise and accurate weaponry, it is evident Israel is merely continuing its policy of disregard towards Palestinian life, a policy particularly heinous as it all too frequently includes the young, defenceless and innocent.

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Eric Alterman’s bias revealed as he warns against the ‘red menace’ of BDS
Feb 09, 2013 01:38 pm | Joel Doerfler

According to Eric Alterman writing in Open Zion (“Brooklyn College and the BDS Debate,” February 7), the BDS movement and its “naive, idealistic” fellow-traveling dupes are the modern day equivalents of 20th century Stalinists. And the “predicament” now facing “liberals” (i.e., people like Alterman) is a replay of the putatively agonizing dilemma faced by liberals and democratic socialists during the “Bad Old Days” of the McCarthy era.

Who knew? Omar Barghouti is Gus Hall redivivus!

Of course, precisely what the BDS movement and the post-1945 CP share in common, is a tad obscure, which is probably why no one has exposed the uncanny linkages between these two apparently quite different political phenomena. But now comes Alterman to connect the dots. Supporters of the postwar CP, he avers, were instruments of the Soviet state and enablers of Stalinist tyranny, who dissembled their true identities, posed as simple “progressives” and manipulatively sought to inveigle or blackmail honest liberals and socialists into defending the CP’s right to pursue its devious and dishonest stratagems. Likewise, Alterman asserts, the promoters of BDS present themselves as principled lovers of social justice, look to ally themselves with honest souls favoring Israeli-Palestinian “peace” (including partisans of a two-state solution) and take full-advantage of the liberal commitment to academic freedom, in order more effectively to pursue a program which, in reality, is “of a piece” with that of Hamas, Hezbollah and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Pretty sinister behavior, huh? Where is Sidney Hook now that we need him again?

It’s true that, whatever one makes of the motives, the honesty and - indeed - the historical accomplishments of the American Communist Party, the CP did, indeed, engage in a full-throttle defense of a brutal totalitarian system and many (though not all) of its supporters were less than forthcoming about their relationship to the party apparatus.

But how does any of this remotely resemble the posture or performance of BDS? Unless Alterman is suggesting that BDS is a “front” organization, covertly created and orchestrated by Gaza City or Tehran, it’s tough to see any illuminating congruence with the Communists. Members of BDS do not seek to conceal their support for the movement. Their goals are clearly, one might say tiresomely, reiterated: an end to the occupation of territories conquered in 1967; equality for the Palestinian citizens of Israel; implementation of UN Resolution 194 on the right of return. While Alterman is perhaps understandably perplexed about the precise lineaments of the “academic and cultural boycott,” Judith Butler’s assertion that she has “no problem collaborating with Israeli scholars and artists as long as we do not participate in any Israeli institution or have Israeli state monies support our collaborative work” is neither an especially enigmatic utterance nor an especially sinister-sounding one.

So where is what Alterman calls the “intellectual masquerade in which the BDS engages?” Where is its “deceptive” argument on behalf of an “abhorrent cause?” According to Alterman it resides in BDS’ disingenuous refusal to take a position on the one-state or two-state solution even while it simultaneously promotes a “right of return” which he considers to be a call for Israel to “commit suicide” and for Israelis to “forfeit their commitment to their history, their national identity and their understanding of Jewish history.”

The trouble is that it doesn’t require Altermanesque laser-like acuity to comprehend that the return of all or many of the Palestinian refugees refused re-entry into Israel in 1948-49 would pose a “demographic threat” to the Jewishness of the state of Israel. People have been opposing BDS on these grounds since its very inception. But opposing such an outcome is one thing. Suggesting that BDS is dissembling its true purpose is something altogether different.

There are lots of grounds upon which to critique BDS. One might find fault with its tactics (isn’t the insistence on the “right of return” a turn-off for many potential supporters?). One might dispute its historical analysis. One might challenge its ethical balance sheet. One might dismiss it as hopelessly utopian. But it’s hard to see how it’s guilty of justifying, rationalizing or denying the contemporary equivalent of purges, gulags and totalitarian rule, or of blindly supporting (like the CP . . . and AIPAC et al) the foreign policies of a foreign state, or of concealing its true purposes. Indeed, from my vantage point, it’s hard to see how the abstract principles of justice and human rights promoted by BDS are objectionable at all: unless, of course, one believes that the existence of a “Jewish” state of Israel, resting on a Law of Return which privileges any goniff able to provide his or her “Jewish” bona fides over the rights of people displaced (oft-times forcibly) from their homes and villages, is sacrosanct and that the very questioning of such a political arrangement is “abhorrent.” Not impractical, or foolish, or difficult to imagine. But in principle “abhorrent.”

If that’s one’s position, one should say so, straight-up. Otherwise, one might be (rightfully) accused of “masquerading” as a believer in equal rights and of “deceptively arguing” for justice. Like those wretched Stalinists.

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‘Daily News’ jumps on ‘Jews tossed from Brooklyn College’ claim (updated)
Feb 09, 2013 01:10 pm | Philip Weiss

The Daily News is trying to stir the anti-Semitism pot in a story about Thursday's Brooklyn College forum on boycott: "FORUM FUROR: 4 Jews tossed from BDS meet at Brooklyn College." Corinne Lestch reports:

Brooklyn College faced a new uproar Friday after booting four Jewish students from a controversial anti-Israel forum.

Senior Melanie Goldberg and three classmates were escorted out of the event, which featured the founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, by security officers shortly after it began.

“The whole point of having this debate was that it would be an open academic forum where I would be allowed to ask questions,” said Goldberg, who is studying journalism. “So I came prepared to ask questions.”

But when Goldberg took out her questions on handouts for the main speaker, BDS founder Omar Barghouti, she was asked by a member of Students for Justice in Palestine, which organized the event, to hand them over.

“Someone came to me and said, ‘Give me all your papers, or you’ll be forcibly removed from the event,’ ” she recalled.

Alex Kane upended this story yesterday-- the students were told to leave because they were disrupting the event, as Jeremy Thompson, the Brooklyn College spokesperson, has stated; and many Jews attended the event. Mark Twain said, A lie goes round the world while the truth is still tying its shoes.

Update: One other interesting tidbit about this story--which Tablet reported on but the Daily News didn't--is that Goldberg is an intern with the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC). The ICC says it "strategically focuses its efforts on building strong leaders in the campus community to effectively advocate for Israel and change the campus Israel climate." Here's its internship roster, which Goldberg is on.

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In pictures: Farmers rally for Israeli agriculture boycott in Gaza ‘buffer zone’
Feb 09, 2013 12:59 pm | Joe Catron

Hundreds of Palestinian farmers marched to the Gaza Strip's Israel-imposed "buffer zone" this morning, where they rallied and planted olive trees. The demonstration, organized by the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), was part of a global day of action for boycotts of Israeli agricultural companies organized by UAWC, other Palestinian agricultural organizations, and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee. It followed a Wednesday rally in the Gaza seaport.

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(Photo: Joe Catron)
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(Photo: Joe Catron)
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(Photo: Joe Catron)
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(Photo: Joe Catron)

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Hagel hearing was senators’ audition for donors — Rosenberg
Feb 09, 2013 12:26 pm | Philip Weiss

More Israel lobby in the news. MJ Rosenberg has a column about why so many Senators were kissing up to the lobby in the Chuck Hagel confirmation hearing of 9 days ago. He says that even South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham was motivated by the desire for money from the lobby:

The Hagel hearing, on the other hand, wasn’t really a hearing at all. For the senators it was just an opportunity to audition in front of current or potential donors.

It was like getting a speaking role at the AIPAC annual conference, an opportunity to demonstrate that a legislator was 100% for whatever the lobby is for.

The worst thing was that a hearing about leading the Pentagon barely touched on any of the issues that affect America’s military. So eager were the senators to suck up to the lobby by proclaiming undying devotion to Israel that they barely mentioned the 1.5 million Americans on active duty and all the problems they face. Nor was there much interest expressed in the current war in Afghanistan or our continuing role in Iraq. Or about when the use of military force is warranted and when it isn’t.

No, it was all about Israel, actually not so much Israel as the Israel lobby. What, other than the desire to please the lobby, could have made Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) ask for Hagel’s commitment that Israel’s aid package would be exempt from sequestration cuts, unlike all the programs that actually affect her constituents?

But her pandering to AIPAC was typical, replicated by such other lobby devotees as Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who histrionically read from a lobby script attesting to the lobby’s non-existence – and demanded that Hagel apologize for ever suggesting that there is such a thing as the (gasp) “Jewish lobby.” Graham, no special fan of Israel, is concerned about a challenge from a Tea Party candidate in 2014 and is eager to raise money from AIPAC-associated donors to help him withstand the challenge

Of course, Gillibrand is from New York but that barely matters any more. She, like her Republican colleagues — Graham, Ted Cruz of Texas, Roy Blunt of Missouri, David Vitter of Louisiana and Mike Lee of Utah, — was playing for money not votes, national money. Although the Republicans know that that lobby donors are unlikely to support right-wing Republicans, they also know (as Jesse Helms discovered) that enthusiastic pandering to AIPAC will make it harder for their Democratic opponents to raise money. Not when, to use AIPAC’s term, the Republican incumbent is a “staunch supporter” of Netanyahu.

In short, the Hagel hearing was a nauseating spectacle.

I'd add this analysis to Rosenberg's. New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg is diving into Illinois politics, targeting a candidate in the Democratic primary to replace a departed congressman because the candidate when formerly in Congress supported gun rights. Bloomberg's ads single out the NRA, the leading gun lobby organization; because Bloomberg sees unfettered gun rights as a threat to public safety. His PAC ran an ad saying, "[Former Congresswoman Debbie] Halvorson got an A from the NRA." Gun rights have now become a big issue in the campaign. Have you ever seen a major political figure running ads against the Israel lobby? No; the mainstream is unified in support for Israel. The only candidate I can remember running directly against the lobby was Marcy Winograd in California-- and Politico took care to inform us that her support for one democratic state in Israel and Palestine was a fringe position even on the left.

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Israel lobby gave victory to BDS by crazed reaction to Brooklyn event
Feb 09, 2013 12:07 pm | Philip Weiss

A lot of folks are passing around an excellent column by Chemi Shalev in Haaretz saying that the Israel lobby is overreaching; it has so nakedly manipulated the US discourse, from the Brooklyn College flap to the Chuck Hagel hearing to the presidential debates of last fall, that it's exposing itself in the eyes of sensible people and will ultimately undermine US support for Israel.

Far more Americans know of the Palestinian BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement today than did a week ago. Many millions of people have been exposed for the first time to the idea that Israel should be boycotted, divested and sanctioned for its occupation of the territories. Many more Americans, one can safely assume, have formed a positive image of the BDS movement than those who have now turned against it.

...Rather than focusing attention on what BDS critics describe as the movement’s deceitful veneer over its opposition to the very existence of Israel, the disproportionate onslaught succeeded in casting the BDS speakers who came to the Brooklyn campus as freedom-loving victims being hounded and oppressed by the forces of darkness.

...The Brooklyn College incident, after all, is far from isolated. It is, in fact, symptomatic. The distressing tone and self-defeating tactics of the most vocal elements of the so-called pro-Israeli camp in America have been the rule, not the exception, in recent years, and they are also bound to backfire on us all.

This inflated and melodramatic nature of what passes as political pro-Israelism was evident to many Americans, as the New York Times correctly noted, in the dismayingly over-the-top inquisition of Chuck Hagel at his confirmation hearings in the Senate last week. Senator after senator found it necessary to extract from Hagel meaningless vows of allegiance to Israel and to press him again and again on the etymology and usage of the two or three words he may have used many years ago.

The Armed Services Committee devoted more time to Israel than it did to all the other world trouble spots combined, a proportion no less preposterous, frankly, than the comparison between a college get together and a second Holocaust.

But that’s the way it’s been over the past year, since the Republican debates and primaries and throughout the presidential election campaign: disproportionate, hyperbolic and ultimately counterproductive....

This preposterously simplistic portrayal of Israel is bound to backfire. It is dishonest, and therefore self-defeating. It quashes disagreement and abhors true debate. It distances anyone and everyone who does not subscribe to its narrow definitions of what it means to love Israel and to truly support it, warts and all.

And it will eventually erode the genuine bedrock of support that Israel enjoys in America.

It will be like Brooklyn, but on a much grander scale.

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US Congress seeks to thwart Palestinian reconciliation — hearing WINEP testimony based on Israeli army blog
Feb 09, 2013 11:09 am | Annie Robbins

The big news in Palestinian politics is reconciliation: the leaders of Fatah and Hamas are meeting in Cairo this weekend to discuss the supervision of upcoming elections for the Palestinian National Council and the formation of a unity government.

But preventing Fatah-Hamas reconciliation was the agenda in Congress last Wednesday-- at a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing titled, The Fatah-Hamas Reconciliation: Threatening Peace Prospects. Middle East Subcommittee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen set the pro-Israel tone in her opening statement (video 2:04):

We are witnessing Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority] and Hamas seeking to unify their mutual hatred toward the democratic state of Israel.

The subsequent testimonies of three Israel lobbyists-- the only witnesses invited to address the panel-- sought to buttress this claim. The analysis provided by Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (transcript here) was based on Israeli government sources, notably Shin Bet, the Israeli government Security Agency, and the Israeli army blog. Yes, the Israeli army blog: "IDF & ISA [Shin Bet intelligence] Uncover Hamas Terrorist Assets in Hebron."

Do we really need expert witnesses before Congress pipelining Israeli military propaganda to thwart Palestinian political movement? WINEP was founded by the Israel lobby organization AIPAC; and Levitt often sounded like a mouthpiece for the Israeli government in his testimony about the terrorist threat Hamas supposedly poses in the West Bank, and Israel's crackdown on Hamas:

At the end of January, the IDF and Israel Security Agency (ISA, or Shin Bet) arrested twenty known Hamas members in Hebron (West Bank). They are known as Hamas members because they had served prison sentences in Israel previously for terrorist activity. They were planning on carrying out kidnapping plots and had more than ten guns of various types. The investigation revealed that the terror cell maintained contact with high-ranking Hamas officials to receive assistance, directions, and funding. The cell's primary contact was Husam Badran, a former prisoner who was part of the exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Badran was released from prison in October 2011 and exiled to Qatar. The terrorist cell has been indicted on charges of weapons possession, contacting a hostile organization, and conspiracy to kidnap an IDF soldier.7 The IDF also noted that the “terrorists' primary goal was to execute a kidnapping attack in order to bargain for the release of prisoners." 8

The timing of the congressional hearing, right on the heels of a big Israeli push against Hamas, and right ahead of the reconciliation talks in Cairo, is certainly convenient for Israel and its friends in the U.S. Xinhua:

The Israeli army arrested [last] Monday 21 Hamas members in the West Bank, including three lawmakers, during pre-dawn raids, well-informed Palestinian sources said, while the Israeli military said more arrests are underway.

Most of the arrests were taken place in Nablus city, targeting nine senior members of the Islamic movement, said Hurriyat Center for Prisoners Rights in a statement.

Meanwhile, a Israeli military spokeswoman said that 25 Palestinians wanted for questioning by security forces were arrested, the majority of them are Hamas sympathizers.

AlJazeera: Israel arrests Hamas lawmakers in West Bank

"Twenty-five Palestinians were arrested, 23 of them belonged to Hamas," she said.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official in the West Bank, condemned the arrests, describing them as "deliberate Israeli plans to destabilise the internal situation, interfere in Palestinian institutions... and deal a blow to national reconciliation," according to the AFP news agency.


Hamas has 74 members in the 132-seat Palestinian Authority Legislative Council, which is based in Ramallah. ....Security sources have told AFP that Israel plans to step up arrests of suspected militants in the West Bank to prevent a rising tide of low-intensity conflict and civil unrest from turning into an uprising.

How does arresting elected lawmakers prevent an uprising? It doesn't. But the sad fact is that the Israelis can count on political cover in Washington from the congressional subcommittee hearing, warning about the dangers of Hamas to the so-called peace process.

That Israel military blog that Levitt cited in his testimony is crowing that on Jan 27, Israeli soldiers "thwarted a significant terror attack on an Israeli community" -- i.e., an illegal Israeli settlement. And the blog published a letter supposedly laying out the terrorist plan.

When IDF soldiers arrested two Palestinians after they hurled firebombs at an IDF post in Judea and Samaria, they discovered this letter on the scene. It was written by the Al-Aqsa Brigade, which declared intent to carry out a terror attack in Alon Moreh, a nearby Israeli community:

letter al aqsa brigades
Alleged AlAqsa Brigades letter announcing intention to attack

The blog offers this translation of the Arabic text:

“The al-Aqsa Brigade takes full responsibility for the terror attack in the Alon Moreh community. The al-Aqsa Brigade is announcing the operation before its implementation. If the operation has failed, it will be repeated additional times in a wider manner — every minute, every hour, every moment — starting today.”

– Al-Aqsa Brigade, Arrows of Freedom Group

What luck! Israelis intercept a hand-written communique with intent to carry out a terror attack at the scene of some Palestinians hurling firebombs. That doesn't explain why Israelis are arresting Hamas legislators though; Israel now detains 15 Palestinian MPs according to the Palestinian Parliament.

Nor does it begin to explain why the US Congress is serving as a pipeline for Israeli military intelligence, at a time when Palestinian leaders are trying to reconcile their differences.

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