At Least 23 Golan Protesters Killed, 350 Wounded as Israeli Troops Opens Fire

June 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Jason Ditz

Israeli soldiers attacked protesters along the Syrian border with the occupied Golan Heights today, killing at least 23 protesters and wounding some 350 others. The protesters were marching to commemorate the 44th anniversary of the 1967 invasion of Golan.

The US State Department claimed to be “deeply troubled” by the protest march, and said that Israel had a right “like any sovereign nation” to defend itself by shooting protesters. Israeli opposition figures slammed “trigger-happy” soldiers for the large number of casualties.

Israel conquered the Golan Heights in 1967, along with the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula. Though Israel eventually returned the Sinai (with caveats) to Egypt, and simply walled in Gaza, they have ruled out leaving either Golan or the West Bank.

It is the second time in less than a month that Israeli troops have attacked and killed large numbers of protesters along their northern border. In mid-May troops killed some 20 protesters commemorating Nakba, the expulsion of Palestinians from Israeli territory. The commemoration is illegal in Israel.

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Deutsche Bahn Pulls Out of Israel Rail Project

May 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Tobias Buck in Jerusalem

Deutsche Bahn, the German railway operator, has pulled out of an Israeli project that cuts through the occupied Palestinian West Bank, after pressure from activists and Berlin.

The move marks a victory for pro-Palestinian groups and their so-called boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign, which tries to useeconomic pressure on Israel to help the Palestinian cause.

Campaigners were angered by the activities of Deutsche Bahn’s international consulting arm, which provided advice on the electrification of the new track linking Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The high-speed line, due to be completed by 2017, has attracted sharp criticism from Palestinian officials because a 6-km stretch cuts through the West Bank.

Opponents said the project was illegal because it used occupied Palestinian territory for a project that would be used primarily, or solely, by Israeli citizens. They also argued that the new line could have easily been built on Israeli territory alone, making land confiscations in the West Bank unnecessary.

Deutsche Bahn, which is state-owned, declined to comment on the reasons for the pull-out but said: “We told Israel Railways in February that we would not provide further services for this particular project.”

The operator added that the involvement in the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem line had been “modest” and that DB International, its consulting subsidiary, would continue to provide services to the Israeli rail operator elsewhere.

According to a letter sent by Germany’s ministry for transport to a member of parliament, the operator faced criticism for its involvement from the government itself: “The federal government pointed out [to Deutsche Bahn] that the project of the Israeli state railway is problematic from a foreign policy point of view and potentially breaches international law,” it said. The letter added that the German operator confirmed “in writing” that there would be no further involvement of its international subsidiary in “this politically very sensitive project”.

The document, dated March 11, was published on Monday on the website of Change.org, a campaign group.

Merav Emir, an activist with Who Profits, the campaign group that leads the lobbying effort against the rail project, welcomed the decision. “I want to congratulate the German government for making such a clear and bold statement about the illegality of this train route under international law,” she said. “We call on other European governments to follow suit in making sure that companies in their countries abide by international law.”

The Israeli transport ministry did not return calls for comment.

Financial Times

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