[Americans and Palestinians have something in common: Israel is spying on us both!]
WASHINGTON — IN Moscow this summer, while reporting a story for Wired magazine, I had the rare opportunity to hang out for three days with Edward J. Snowden. It gave me a chance to get a deeper understanding of who he is and why, as a National Security Agency contractor, he took the momentous step of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents.
Among his most shocking discoveries, he told me, was the fact that the N.S.A. was routinely passing along the private communications of Americans to a large and very secretive Israeli military organization known as Unit 8200. This transfer of intercepts, he said, included the contents of the communications as well as metadata such as who was calling whom.
Typically, when such sensitive information is transferred to another country, it would first be “minimized,” meaning that names and other personally identifiable information would be removed. But when sharing with Israel, the N.S.A. evidently did not ensure that the data was modified in this way.
Mr. Snowden stressed that the transfer of intercepts to Israel contained the communications — email as well as phone calls — of countless Arab- and Palestinian-Americans whose relatives in Israel and the Palestinian territories could become targets based on the communications. “I think that’s amazing,” he told me. “It’s one of the biggest abuses we’ve seen.”
It appears that Mr. Snowden’s fears were warranted. Last week, 43 veterans of Unit 8200 — many still serving in the reserves — accused the organization of startling abuses. In a letter to their commanders, to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to the head of the Israeli army, they charged that Israel used information collected against innocent Palestinians for “political persecution.” In testimonies and interviews given to the media, they specified that data were gathered on Palestinians’ sexual orientations, infidelities, money problems, family medical conditions and other private matters that could be used to coerce Palestinians into becoming collaborators or create divisions in their society.
Read more: 7500 New Settlers Moved Into West Bank, Jerusalem, Settlements In Six Months
The Yesha Council of Settlements has reported that the number of Jewish settlers living in the occupied West Bank, including in and around occupied Jerusalem, has reached 382031, adding that 7500 Israelis have moved into West Bank and Jerusalem settlements in the last six months.
Yesha said that, back in January of 2014, 374469 settlers lived in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and that the current number of settlers (382031) is a 2% increase.
It said that the biggest settlement is Beitar Illit settlement, located southwest of occupied Jerusalem, with a population of 63087 Jewish settlers.
There are more than 200.000 Israeli settlers living in various settlements in occupied East Jerusalem.
Settlements are illegal under International Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory.
They are largely built on privately-owned Palestinian lands, and many on what Israel calls “State Lands” which, by itself, is illegal as the West Bank and Jerusalem are under illegitimate Israeli occupation.
Innocent people under military rule exposed to surveillance by Israel, say 43 ex-members of Unit 8200, including reservists
Then 10-year-old Zahur Said and her friends were on their way to school last Monday, September 1st, Israeli authorities had already been surveying the area for hours. When she returned, 300 square meters of crumbled concrete and mangled steel was all that remained of the Al Rayyan Dairy Factory in Northern Hebron.
For three years, the factory built in partnership by the Islamic Charitable Society in Hebron (ICS) and Al Rayyan Company has provided a sustainable source of revenue for two orphanages run by the ICS, as well as aiding ten different schools in the area. It also supplied products like yogurt, milk and cheese to the organizations and families it benefits.
The factory received demolition orders two months ago on June 20th during the Israeli military’s Operation Brother’s Keeper. Israeli authorities confiscated most of its working machinery two weeks later on July 2nd. The ICS filed a case with the Israeli military court in the West Bank and had a court date scheduled for September 7th, 2014. Six days before the case was to be heard, the factory was demolished, with ICS and Al Rayyan sustaining more than two million dollars in losses.
For the past two months, Palestinians across the West Bank have been boycotting Israeli goods by increasing numbers, as popular campaigns have taken to the street to promote the movement.
Ma'an News Agency reports that, according to economic analysts, the campaign could potentially have a major negative effect on the Israeli economy, and buoy the Palestinian economy as well.
The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics cites the annual Palestinian consumption of Israeli exports at around $3.5 billion, while Palestinian exports to Israel only amount to about $600 million.
Director-General of Policy and Economic Studies and spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Economy, Azmi Abd al-Rahman, told Ma'an that "If applied well, the boycott could create between 70 to 100 thousand job opportunities in the Palestinian lands by providing billions of dollars annually" -- dollars which were otherwise being siphoned off to Israel.
Read more: Boycott Could Have Major Effect on Israeli Economy
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