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Radical Settler Terrorism

Radical Settler Terrorism

In a week which marks the return to school for Israeli children, three 12-13 year olds stood accused in an Israeli courtroom, their pixellated faces appearing on the front of this morning’s national papers. Their crime, the firebombing of a Palestinian taxi in the West Bank – an incident that left six Palestinians injured. Their friends joined them in the court, interrupting proceedings with signs of support shouting “Be strong,” and “We’ll blow them apart.”

This attack is the latest in growing trend of violent attacks by radical Israeli settlers on Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Today I catched a podcast from the Council on Foreign Relations titled, “Radical Settler Terrorism”, which ties in with an article published in this month’s Foreign Affairs by Daniel Byman and Natan Sachs, “The Rise of Settler Terrorism: The West Bank’s Others Violent Extremist” – both worth the listen/read.

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Posted by on August 27, 2012 in The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

 

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Falling Rockets over Israel & Gaza

For the third consecutive day the sky over southern Israel and Gaza is full of Grad missiles and Qassam rockets, mortars shells and other assorted forms of rocketry.

The inevitable recommencing of hostilities between the Israeli Defence Forces and Gaza militants came after the multipronged terrorist attack on Israel this Thursday left eight Israelis dead and dozens injured (Seven killed in series of terrorist attacks in southern Israel)

In Jerusalem we are normally far away from the ‘action’ but this weekend we’ve been visiting Asya’s family in kibbutz Mash’abbe Sade in the heart of the Negev desert, a mere 50km from the Gaza border. Normally there wouldn’t be too much to worry about as a) 50 km is still on the border line of the militants’ range, b) the kibbutz sits happily in the middle of nowhere and far from any of the targeted urban areas such as Sderot, Be’er Sheva, Ashkelon and Ashdod and c) the recent deployment of the missile defence shield, the ‘Iron Dome’ has meant a number of rockets are now being successfully shot out of the sky.

Still last night at 4 am the air-raid siren here kicked into life, warning of an incoming rocket. Given the proximity to Gaza you then have less than a minute before the rockets hits. Normally they fall into open fields but every once in a while they hit a building resulting in smashed houses, severe injuries and the occasional death. So far in the last 3 days a number of houses have been hit, scores injured and a single death. Thankfully for us it was only a false alarm… especially since I slept through the whole thing and first heard about it over the breakfast table.

Fortunately here in the middle of the Negev desert there is really nothing to worry about with regards to incoming rockets. But every once in a while you hear a distant thud and you wonder how many innocent civilians, Israelis and Palestinians, are being caught up in the belligerents’ mindless ‘rocketeering’. It’s a horrible way to live and in any other country it would be far bigger deal. However here, sandwiched between hostile entities, Israel has managed to normalise this eternal conflict in a way that continues to baffle me…

Here below is a copy of fridge magnet stuck on many a fridge door up and down the land. It indicates the response times you have for incoming rockets from Gaza or Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon.  Only 60 seconds here in the kibbutz, but a whole 3 minutes in Jerusalem. That said I’m still quite clueless as to what to do and where to go if and when the alarm goes off again. Perhaps better to just sleep through it all and hope for the best…

 

 

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“Somebody to Love” at Hebrew University

This week the university year got back under way in Israel. After our various summer excursions to Croatia and Denmark, not to mention surviving the hottest Israeli summer in decades (so everyone keeps telling me) life is slowly getting back to normal. Asya is back studying again at the Hebrew University after some very good exams results whilst I’m playing with the idea of getting back into university, possibly doing a Ph.D., possibly just attending some Master’s classes – we’ll see where it all pans out.

As a way to mark the start of the new year the Hebrew University student union got together a few dozen students to make a flamboyant music video (lip-dub), a cover version of Queen’s “Somebody to Love”. Now whilst Glee’s cover a Queen song is an act of blasphemy that I for one find hard to condone, the way it’s shot is, I have to admit, pretty well done – the whole thing filmed in one long continuous shot. And then there is the small matter of Asya starring in the video as well (see 3:04 and onwards).

From its humble beginnings the video has now officially gone viral having been featured on some of Israel’s leading TV channels and online websites. Every day Asya informs of how many more tens of thousands of people have now viewed the YouTube link (75,000 and counting). I’ve added the video, but I think because of rights reasons it’s not possible to view the video here, but click on the link and you can view it on YouTube.

If nothing else the video gives you a brief glimpse into the Hebrew University campus. Especially noteworthy is the canteen they walk through which has the sad history of having been the target of a suicide bombing at the height of the Second Intifada in 2003, an attack that killed 7 people. So now, as with almost all large public buildings in Israel, you have to go through airport style metal detectors and have your bags examined before entering the campus.

http://www.youtube.com/v/IPo-6kxgiDk?fs=1&hl=en_US&color1=0x006699&color2=0x54abd6

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2010 in Music

 

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Things are Hotting Up (and I’m not talking about the weather)

It had been my intention to write a short post about the oppressive desert heat that’s hung over Israel the last week (‘only’ 37 °C today), but events dear readers, events…


Where else does a bit of road side tree trimming lead to a violent international incident?

The evening news here have just passed and we’re left to mull over yet another day of deadly incidents on yet another one of Israel’s vulnerable borders:

  • Friday: Rockets, fired by militants within Gaza, reached Ashkelon damaging a rehabilitation centre and numerous cars. Israel responded with the expected reprisal attacks killing a Hamas official and injuring dozens of others inside in Gaza.
  • Monday: Yet more rockets were fired towards Israel, this time presumably from within Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Some plunged harmlessly into the Red Sea, others overflew Israel’s premier tourist resort of Eilat landing in empty fields; one rocket, however, struck an innocent taxi driver in the neighbouring city of Aqaba, Jordan.
  • Tuesday: An Israeli army incursion into Lebanese territory, a planned Lebanese ambush or a fatal misunderstanding – either way you wish to lay the blame 4 soldiers (3 Lebanese and 1 Israeli) along with a Lebanese journalist lost their lives today in the most violent incident in four years on the Israeli-Lebanon border.

All we need now is for an incident to happen here in Jerusalem or the West Bank tomorrow and we’ll have a full house of fatal incidents on all four of Israel’s volatile borders.

To the untrained eye this ever-increasing escalation of rocket attacks, retaliation assaults, and border skirmishes may seem to mark the beginning of yet another round of major hostilities. I am not sure how this latest incident will be perceived outside Israel but back here it’s taken with the typical sense of perspective. Whilst the rhetoric over the next few days will undoubtedly be full of accusations and counter-accusations it’s pretty clear these were 3 separate non-related incidents with neither side wishing for an escalation in violence – at least for now. If for nothing else, it’s so incredibly hot right you can’t imagine who in their right mind would have the energy to go running about about provoking each other into another regional war.

I guess I have been fortunate enough to have spent my last 10 months in Israel in a state of relative peace*, but of course at the back of your mind is the what if…? To be honest, here in Jerusalem it’s less of a concern as we’re still out of  range of rockets from Gaza, Lebanon and Sinai; and with the separation wall separating mainland Israel from most of the West Bank along with security improvements in the West Bank the likelihood of terrorist attacks through that route are now as remote as ever.

So to conclude, no need to worry for now…

Anyway back to the heat. We’re expecting temperatures to peak over the 40°C this weekend so I’ll have plenty more opportunities to write about the heat this summer.

* Naturally whilst I have been living peacefully here in West Jerusalem it goes without saying that millions of Palestinians a mere kilometre away continue to live under less than peaceful conditions…

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2010 in The Middle East Conflict

 

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News From Jerusalem

Despite the fact that we’re in mid-October, it’s another sweltering hot night here in the Negev desert, not that I’m complaining. After what was yet another disappointing English summer, it’s been great reacquainting myself with the pairs of shorts and flip-flops that haven’t been in proper use since…well since last time I was here probably.

But enough about the weather. Got back from Jerusalem last night safe in the knowledge that we had cleared the first major hurdle of our big move – yes we have finally found ourselves a cute little furnished apartment, no mean task in Jerusalem. We actually found the place when we first visited Jerusalem lack, but had to wait to hear if we were the lucky ones to be chosen; quite a few other couples had supposedly shown interest. But now that the contract has been signed we can begin to look forward to finally, after years of sharing a whole range of weird and wonderful houses and flats with other people, to actually having a place of our own.

Anyway I will wait to tell/show you more about our new home once we move in, in roughly 2 weeks time. What I will say though, is that there enough space for any visitors who feeling like dropping by; so hereby consider yourselves all invited!

Aside from finalising the contract, my 2 days in Jerusalem were spent wondering aimlessly around the city streets while Asya was out at the on university campus attending various induction classes. Actually, with the fierce midday heat still energy-sapping, even though we’re in mid-autumn, I opted for the lounging under the cool shade of the tree in a park with a stunning view over the Old Walled City. Here hours were spent reading, listening to podcasts, and of course working my way through my Hebrew audio lessons; all so idyllic.

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The park I happened to find refuge in is situated next to the glamorous King David hotel, residence of choice for world leaders and the like when in Jerusalem. Back in the day when Palestine was under British rule it functioned as the British headquarters. It’s perhaps equally famous for being partly blown up in 1946 by the militant Zionist group Irgun who openly fought British rule and their refusal to allow the mass migration of Jews into Palestine. The British occupation of Palestine from 1917-1948 (present day Israel and Jordan) is something I knew very little about before visiting Israel and I can’t remember it ever being taught in school much. At first glance, the fact that in the aftermath of all the World War II atrocities we actively prohibited the migration of Jews to their new safe haven seems outright deplorable – perhaps that’s why it’s not high on Britain’s top Empire achievements. Anyway it’s definitely a part of British history that I’m actively going to look more into. Until then here’s a picture of the plaque outside the hotel the retells the tale of what has been called “one of the most lethal terrorist attacks of the 20th century.”

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Indeed the bombing of the hotel continues to be widely celebrated, not least by current Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu who attended celebrations  marking the 60th anniversary of the bombing and the unveiling of another commemorative plaque. Naturally the British we far from amused, as this article in The Times shows, “British Anger at Terror Celebration.

For a country that has had, and continues to live to with its own horrific share of militant/terrorist atrocities I do find it hard to understand how they can celebrate their own acts of terrorism, an act which did kill 92 people – with or without the warning.  Is it too big a stretch to draw comparisons between the motives behind that particular bombing and present day terrorist attacks committed against Israel? Well I’m not entirely sure yet what I think…

Better leave it for now. It’s 11 pm and time to head off to the local kibbutz pub for a beer or two. Tuborg or Carlsberg? Danish beers have certainly cornered the market here. Well at least it makes me a feel a little bit at home 🙂

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2009 in Israeli History, Life in Israel

 

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