Sunday, July 20, 2014

[ePalestine] WP: Israel hopes phone calls to Palestinians will save lives. It ends up looking Orwellian


WorldViews

Israel hopes phone calls to Palestinians will save lives. It ends up looking Orwellian.


July 17


A Palestinian man walks on debris from a damaged building after it was hit by an Israeli airstrike in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, on Tuesday. (Adel Hana/Associated Press)

On Wednesday night, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the Israel Defense Forces was using recorded telephone messages to warn more than 100,000 residents in two Gaza City neighborhoods to evacuate their homes. Given that the Gaza Strip contains just 1.7 million people total, that's a huge number of people.

The blanket warning policy coincides with a more precise tactic. Before the IDF targets a home, it often calls the occupants. "Get out. You have five minutes before the rockets come," is how one Gaza resident described her phone call to The Post. These warnings are often followed by a "roof knock" — a small missile to let the occupants know the Israelis are serious.

The use of telecommunications to warn civilians appears to be a legitimate attempt to limit the loss of life in a conflict in which Palestinians remain far, far more likely to die than Israelis, and the IDF is very open about the practice, releasing videos of the practice in action. Scratch the surface, however, and these warning phone calls also reveal something else — the remarkable ability of Israeli authorities to penetrate the communications of Palestinians.

How could the IDF so easily access telecommunications in the Gaza Strip, knowing exactly whom to call at each residence? It's incredibly simple. While the telecommunication companies that operate in Gaza, such as the Palestinian Telecommunication Group (PalTel), are owned and operated by Palestinians, they are routed through servers based in Israel. These servers are easy for Israel's intelligence community to access and can provide an important resource for the IDF.

This setup goes back to the Oslo Accords almost 20 years, to when Israel recognized "the right of the Palestinian side to establish telecommunications links (microwave and physical) to connect the West Bank and the Gaza Strip through Israel" (in Article 36 of Oslo II, 1995). At the time, this was viewed optimistically by those in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. While some Israeli-administered telecommunications structures existed in the Palestinian territories, few Palestinians actually had access: Just 3 percent of Palestinians had land phones in 1996, according to a Christian Science Monitor article from the time.

However, the creation of PalTel and the Palestinian telecommunications industry faced an unusual problem: Much of the infrastructure it was using remained linked to Israel. For example, the Palestinian territories didn't have their own international gateway, and even now, when the Palestinian territories have their own international dialing code, all international calls and the vast majority of domestic calls require routing through Israel. Palestinian Internet service providers are effected, too, having to buy bandwidth from Israeli providers.

Critics say that Israel exploits the Oslo Accords by refusing to allow Palestinian companies to buy the equipment that would grant it independence from the Israeli networks. The way the system is set up now allows Israeli intelligence easy access to Palestinian telecommunications, Michael Dahan, an Israeli American political scientist and technology researcher at Sapir College, says.

"The ability to take over (command and control) the networks was either embedded in the systems prior to Palestinian control, and/or achieved via Unit 8200 (a miniature version of the NSA), a signals intelligent unit of the IDF," Dahan writes in an e-mail. In the past, the IDF has been accused of shutting down the Internet at times of conflict or using cellphone signals to target Hamas members. And Dahan argues that Israel's reach over Palestinian telecommunication has even wider consequences, helping to "advance a form of psychological warfare – 'we know who you are, we can reach you anywhere.'"

Of course, even if Israel's telecommunications system was not intertwined with that of the Palestinian territories, it would probably be able to access much of this anyway: The Israeli intelligence community is hardly known as Luddites. If it can hack Iran, as it is so often said to be able to, hacking into the Gaza Strip shouldn't be too difficult. But Sam Bahour, a Palestinian American business consultant based in Ramallah who immigrated to the West Bank to help set up PalTel in 1994, tells me, that isn't really the point. Bahour argues that, for all the talk of a "tech boom" in Palestinian territories, Israel's grip on the telecommunications industry is so strong that Palestinian cell networks can't even provide 3G networks, let alone 4G.

"All of our smartphones in Palestine are dumbphones," Bahour says.

More infuriating still, he says, is that many Palestinians end up buying SIM cards for the Israeli networks that operate in the Gaza Strip in a bid to get a better technological service, despite this being restricted by the Oslo Accords. In 2012, the World Bank estimated that this practice was costing the Palestinian Authority $100 million a year, and a report from the Office of the Quartet Representative Tony Blair this year estimated that Israeli operators got a share of 20 to 40 percent of the Palestinian telecommunications market.

It's worth keeping these points in mind when you hear the reports of the thousands of phone calls being made to Gaza civilians. Those calls can be thought of as humanitarian warnings – but many on the other end may well view them as a reminder of how powerless they are.


Adam Taylor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. Originally from London, he studied at the University of Manchester and Columbia University.

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/07/17/israel-hopes-phone-calls-to-palestinians-will-save-lives-it-ends-up-looking-orwellian/

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[ePalestine] It's 1948 all over again...

It's 1948 all over again...this voice being the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, Knesset Member, and head of the Manhigut Yehudit ("Jewish Leadership") faction of Israel's governing Likud party.

 
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Friday, July 04, 2014

[ePalestine] OpenDemocracy: Israel's self constructed image is crumbling (By Sam Bahour)

OpenDemocracy

July 4, 2014

Israel's self constructed image is crumbling

By Sam Bahour

July 3, 2014. Palestinians inspect damages following overnight Israeli air strike, in Gaza City. Nine Palestinians were wounded. Demotix/Yazan Majdi. All rights reserved.

 The reignited cycle of violence in Palestine and Israel provides the Israeli government with exactly what it has been begging for months for, violence. However, for once, Israel may be facing a new fact of life—as the sole military power in the conflict, it has the full ability to start a widespread campaign of violence, but it may no longer be the party who single-handedly decides how it ends. This particular round of violence has the potential to surprisingly end with political progress towards peace.

If this new, heartbreaking round of violence is what finally brings an end to the 46 years of Israeli military occupation, then the 11 Israelis and Palestinians who so brutally lost their lives this past two weeks would not have died in vain.

READ ON AND COMMENT AT: http://bit.ly/israels-image

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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

[ePalestine] Reflections as we brace ourselves...

Just a reminder of the type of society living in our midst, as the words "kids," "youth," and "children" are being thrown around between the words "revenge," "kill all Arabs," and "price tag now".

Independence Day
Child in army gear crawling soldier-style as officer encourages him during weapons display in Efrat, Independence Day 2014. Photo by AFP

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.589407

*** I call for the immediate arrest of the parents of today's three murder victims; they should be charged with child endangerment. Then, the same police wagon should pick up the entire Israeli cabinet for endangering an entire state and the ethnic cleansing of a native people! ***

And after all is said and done, we should remember that every Jewish Israeli high school graduate, yes kids, are given, by the State of Israel, an M-16, combat training, and let loose in the wild, wild east!

THE VIOLENCE MUST STOP, ALL OF IT!



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[ePalestine] The searing hypocrisy of the West (By Susan Abulhawa)

"No mother should have endure the murder of her child. No mother or father. That does not only apply to Jewish parents. The lives of our children are no less precious and their loss are no less shattering and spiritually unhinging. But there is a terrible disparity in the value of life here in the eyes of the state and the world, where Palestinian life is cheap and disposable, but Jewish life is sacrosanct."

THE HINDU

The searing hypocrisy of the West

Susan Abulhawa

hare3

The bodies of three Israeli settlers who went missing on June 12th were found in a hastily dug shallow grave in Halhul, north of Hebron.

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/the-searing-hypocrisy-of-the-west/article6163918.ece


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Monday, June 30, 2014

[ePalestine] 'So long, Israel, and thanks for nothing' (By Carol Daniel Kasbari)

Carol and Osama are good friends; it's sad to see them leave, physically that is. I am constantly asked by visitors, what I think the ultimate goal of Israeli actions on the ground is. Well, this is it. The goal is for us to leave or vanish--no less. Given we will do neither, collectively, as a people, buckle up for the long haul. Humanity must prevail before peace pokes out its head.

Read their story here:

'So long, Israel, and thanks for nothing'

As a Palestinian Israeli married to a Palestinian, we've been waiting for Israel to grant us permission to live together. 15 years later, forced to choose between homeland and family unity, we have finally left.

By Carol Daniel Kasbari | Jun. 15, 2014
http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.598872
http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.598872


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Thursday, June 19, 2014

[ePalestine] Palestinians must be stopped!



Palestinians must be stopped!

By Sam Bahour


I have had enough of those Palestinians. I think the world in general is also fed up with Palestinians. They have gone too far in demonizing Israelis and must be stopped. The international community must act now before it is too late and Israel is wiped off the map and a second tragedy of historic proportions fall on a significant part of the world’s Jewish population.

For starters, Palestinians embarked by land, sea and air onto Israel and displaced more than half the Jewish population of Israel in 1948. Imagine, more than half of the population of Israel displaced, forced to live to this day, 66 years later, in squalid refugee camps only hours from their homes. Other than some faint attempts to fight their way back to their homes in Israel, Israeli refugees have been “unreasonably reasonable” in accepting their fate, and continue to patiently wait for word when they can return home to Israel. This man made tragedy was perpetrated by Palestinians, who continue to this day to strangulate Jewish citizens of Israel by the use of brute force and economic suffocation in an attempt to have them voluntarily emigrate elsewhere.

Palestinians are a violent people. Every Palestinian high school graduate is forced into mandatory conscription, three years for males and two years for females. During this military stint, every Palestinian citizen is trained on the use of weapons and combat methods. Many Palestinians brag about how they brutalize Jewish Israelis during their military service; some have even posted photos on their Facebook wall of them posing with Israeli corpses or a blindfolded Israeli who was taken prisoner.

Palestinians are making Israeli livelihood miserable. They have set up military checkpoints in and around major Israeli cities, like Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Eilat. Palestinian soldiers stop only Israeli cars, sometimes for hours on end, while letting Palestinian registered cars ride through their checkpoints unhindered. When an Israeli wants to leave Israel, s/he must get Palestinian permission beforehand. If any Israeli gets on the Palestinian blacklist, his/her ability to leave Israel is impossible. Imagine not being able to leave your own country or being allowed to leave but not to return. Even when Israelis want to travel from one Israeli city to another, Palestinians have set up checkpoints, which resemble the border terminals between the US and Canada, with one difference: the process to pass is one of pure humiliation, more like cattle being pushed through caged pathways than passengers crossing a terminal.

Israel has a huge potential to be a regional economic hub of tourism and trade, but Palestinians are blocking Israel’s ability to economically develop by every means possible. Israelis love technology, but every smartphone in Israel is a dumb phone because Palestinians are refusing to allocate the electromagnetic spectrum—which they control as part of their occupation of Israel—required for 3G services to Israeli telecommunications companies. Can you imagine, those Palestinians are actually refusing to free the airspace above Tel Aviv to Israelis! It gets worse. Israelis have found a huge natural gas well in Israeli territorial waters, in the sea of Tel Aviv, and the Palestinians are refusing to give Israeli firms access to tap the gas. Even Israeli fishermen are routinely shot at when fishing in the Mediterranean Sea.

As if all of this was not bad enough, for the past 47 years Palestinians have slowly moved their citizens to the hilltops around Israeli cities. The hilltops were first confiscated by the use of force, then Arafat, and now Abbas, send Palestinian security forces to protect the confiscated lands. Once the lands are ready, Palestinians have tapped the huge amounts of funds that donors have passed to them and used the funds, not to build schools and a health care system, but rather to build permanent housing in these military enclaves around Israeli cities, in order to entice Palestinians from Ramallah and Hebron to move to Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities. This is not only against international law, but defies common sense. How can Palestinians keep paying lip service to wanting to live in peace with Israelis when they keep gobbling up more Israeli land and move their population to take up residence inside Israel?

You think it cannot get worse? Well, you’re wrong. Palestinians have kidnapped 5,000 Israelis from their homes, about 200 are Israeli children under 18 years old, and have locked them into Palestinian jails. These jails that the Palestinians maintain are all built inside Palestinian lands in the West Bank and Gaza. When Israeli mothers want to go visit their loved ones, they must get permission from Palestinian security forces to visit. Hundreds of those 5,000 prisoners are being held without charge; the Palestinians deceitfully call it Administrative Detention. You would think the world would hold these Palestinian jailers accountable, but they haven’t for decades. This is why the time has come to stop those Palestinians once and for all.

Israelis cannot be expected to live like this forever. Something must be immediately done to stop these Palestinians and hold them accountable for the daily atrocities that they are committing against humanity. Israelis are a peace loving people. They come from a religion that rests on a pillar of social justice. What is being done to them is beyond imagination.

Israeli civil society has made a call for the world to divest from Palestine. Israelis across the political spectrum are referring to how Jews around the world supported the boycott and divestment of Apartheid South Africa, which successfully collapsed that racist regime. Jews are pointing to their always being on the correct side of history, from the US civil rights movement to people’s struggles in Latin America. They now beg the world to act to stop Palestinians before it is too late.

The time is now to boycott Palestine, divest from Palestine, and apply serious sanctions on Palestine until it removes the boot of military occupation from the necks of Israelis.

Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American business consultant in Ramallah, the West Bank, and blogs at epalestine.com. He contributes this satirical piece in the spirit of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984). To make this piece fit today’s reality, just reverse the roles of Israel/Israelis and Palestine/Palestinians.

http://bit.ly/palestinians-must-be-stopped 

Translated to Italian here: http://www.osservatorioiraq.it/punti-di-vista/i-palestinesi-devono-essere-fermati
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Saturday, June 14, 2014

[ePalestine] TPM Cafe: The Presbyterian Church’s Tough Love Of Israel

Hebrew translation here.

TPM Cafe: Opinion

The Presbyterian Church's Tough Love Of Israel

By Sam Bahour
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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

[ePalestine] MEE: Voices on unity: Mixed responses to the new Palestinian government

Middle East Eye - Tuesday 3 June 2014



Sam Bahour, Policy Advisor, Al-Shabaka, The Palestinian Policy Network:

Palestinians have finally created what has been coined as a "unity government" after nearly eight years of paralysing division between the two largest political parties, Fatah and Hamas. This step is extremely overdue, but should be welcomed nevertheless for what it is - a baby step in the right direction, finally accepting government for what it is, a branch of politics and not some technocratic institute.

The Palestinian political spectrum is much more colourful than the bipolar duopoly that this new government depicts. If Palestinian decision-makers are serious about reconstituting an operating Palestinian political system, then no time should be wasted in passing a political party law so new political groupings, mainly youth groups, can organise politically, and then subsequently be allowed to enter elections for all levels of Palestinian governance - starting with the PLO and ending with the Palestinian Legislative Council.

In the meantime, US and Israeli threats against the government because Hamas has joined it are strategically misplaced. One must ask, where does the US and Israel want Hamas to be – in a transparent political system or in underground trenches? Regardless, the Palestinian government is not any other country's business, unless that is, they allow Palestinians to choose the Israelis we accept to lead Israel.

- See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/voices-unity-mixed-responses-new-palestinian-government



سام بحّور، مستشار في السياسات، شبكة السياسات الفلسطينية (الشبكة)

أنشأ الفلسطينيون أخيرا ما استُحدِثَ على تسميته "حكومة الوحدة" وذلك بعد مرور ما يقارب ثمانية أعوام من الانقسام بين أكبر حزبيْن سياسييْن –فتح وحماس- الذي أصاب بالشّلل كافة مناحي حياة الشعب الفلسطيني. لقد تأخرت هذه الخطوة كثيراً، ومع ذلك فإنه يتعيّن الترحيب بها لما تمثّله من خطوة صغيرة في الاتجاه الصحيح من خلال القبول بالحكومة في نهاية المطاف على أنها فرعا من السياسة وليس مؤسسة تكنوقراطية.

إن الطيف السياسي الفلسطيني أكثر تنوعا من احتكارا ثنائيّ القطب ترسم معالمه هذه الحكومة الجديدة. وإذا كان صانعو القرارات الفلسطينيون جادّين حيال إعادة هيكلة النظام السياسي الفلسطيني المعمول به، فإنه يتعيّن عدم إضاعة الوقت سدى بغية سنّ قانون للأحزاب السياسية من شأنه أن يتيح للمجموعات السياسية الجديدة –ولا سيّما المجموعات الشبابية- أن تنظّم ذاتها سياسيا بحيث يكون متاحا لها أن تخوض غمار الانتخابات على كافة أصعدة الحكم الفلسطيني ابتداءً بانتخابات منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية وانتهاءً بانتخابات المجلس التشريعي الفلسطيني.

وفي الوقت الراهن، يتبيّن أن التهديدات التي أطلقتها الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية وإسرائيل ضد الحكومة نظرا لانضمام حماس إليها ليست في موضعها المناسب من الناحية الإستراتيجية. إذ يمكن للمرء أن يتساءل أين تريد الولايات المتحدة وإسرائيل أن تكون حماس؟ أتريدانها أن تكون في نظام سياسي يتّسم بالشفافية أو متمترسةً في الخنادق تحت سطح الأرض؟ إن مسألة تشكيل الحكومة -وبغضّ النظر عن موقف الولايات المتحدة وإسرائيل منها- ليست من شؤون أي دولة أخرى إلا إذا سمحت هذه الدول للفلسطينيين أن يختاروا الإسرائيليين الذين يقبلونهم لقيادة إسرائيل.

-        للمزيد:


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