Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Gaza News from Truthout

In Our Collective Name

Tuesday, 15 July 2014 12:55 By David Theo Goldberg, Truthout | Op-Ed

Mourners bury the body of a person killed during an overnight Israeli air strike in Gaza City, July 13, 2014. The airstrike killed an estimated 21 Palestinians. (Photo: Wissam Nassar / The New York Times)Mourners bury the body of a person killed during an overnight Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, July 13, 2014. The airstrike killed an estimated 21 Palestinians. (Photo: Wissam Nassar / The New York Times) 
Israel is at it again. It has been bombing Gaza and its inhabitants mercilessly, even indiscriminately. Some say disproportionately though that judgment is predicated on accepting that there is some self-defending legitimacy to killing almost at random women, children and men, even the unborn, simply to be rid of them in the name of "hunting out the terrorists." This, surely, is a deeply questionable rationalization at best.

To date upwards of 150 Gazans have been killed, while rockets fired from Gaza on southern Israel have killed one. Disproportion plays no part in the Israeli calculus, and to think, part of the logic at work is to take Israel at its disingenuous word. What is really at work is Israel's intermittent undertaking, bid up each time, to purge Palestine of a good deal of its people, to put them on notice that leaving would be better than living in Palestine, that for Palestinians, Palestine is a pipe dream evaporating in the pall of smoke rising above Gaza.

Three Israeli teenagers were murdered in the West Bank. Israeli militants retaliated by burning alive a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem. The Israeli armed forces responded first by rounding up large numbers of Palestinian activists and then by reacting to Hamas rockets by obliterating swathes of northern Gaza. It doesn't matter that those apparently responsible for the teenage deaths were not Hamas members, even though Hamas seemed to approve of the disappearance. That one could ask what three teenage Israeli boys were doing hitchhiking in the West Bank speaks to the disproportionate sense of entitlement of Israelis to Palestinian turf; after all, three Palestinian teenage boys hitchhiking in Israel would quickly be picked up by the Israeli police. The boys should not have lost their lives for doing so; to say this is at once to acknowledge that Palestinian youth have lost theirs in much larger numbers at the hands of the Israeli state and population. This seems a moral consideration long lost on the Israeli government and increasingly on its citizens.

What seems new about the current bombardment of Gaza by Israel is not the extent of it, not the expanding number of deaths, alas, not the trapped experience of living in the Gaza concentration camp with no relief, no way out, no future but that dictated by Israel. All this has been standard state practice, increasingly if in fits and starts, at least since 1967 and especially since 2000. What is new is not so much the fact but the disturbing extent and depth, the openness and vehemence with which Israel's everyman and woman, its ordinary teenage boys and girls, are expressly supporting the extermination of Gazans, and of Palestinians more generally: Gaza should be the Arab graveyard, bombing women and children in Gaza is orgasmic, death to all Arabs, kill all Arabs so there will not be another generation, hating Arabs isn't racism, it's a commandment from God. These are accurate paraphrases of the very terms circulating on social media today.

The extraordinary ordinariness of these tweets by teenage girls figured alongside bikini'd photographs of themselves is reinforced by their parental celebration, eating popcorn and cheering the bombs dropping on Gaza from the safety of their Israeli suburban lawns. For disturbing our peace, for so much as undoing our absolute sense of self-righteous security, for reminding us of our history, for holding in question our right to be here, we will kill you, obliterate you, call for your extermination. And ejaculate at the thought of it. Obscenity doesn't begin to characterize the moral degradation at work.

What this points to is a sense that Israel-Palestine, alone together, as two states separate and apart, has no conceivable future, if it ever did. The settler state will not be satisfied until the settlers have completely cleansed the land of its long memories and the people who remind them of its long past. It will rewrite the historical record to purge it of any reference to a pre-existing condition. In purging people and fashioning make-believe history it seeks at once to foreclose the possibility of another way forward, one that - difficult as it is - imagines a future of living together.

Israel's trajectory is to realize a mindless vision, a thoughtless one, to use Hannah Arendt's memorable characterization of Eichmann, a vision that bespeaks the madness of megalomania rather than one of living in peace. For the future of a state predicated on extermination of those it takes not to belong, to purify its ground by obliteration, to sanctify its stateliness by extinction is bound to be haunted by the nightmare of its own making. That it fails to see this can only mean it has completely lost the lesson of the Holocaust haunting its own being.

This no doubt will be dismissed by apologists for Israel - pretty much as any criticism of Israel, large or small, is brushed aside. Today this dismissed criticism cannot escape attributing madness also to Israel's population and its supporters more broadly. Yes, a state and its people have a right to self-defense, but a defense destined inevitably to heighten the conflict, to fan the raging flames of resentment and retribution, is not one that can be credited with rationality.

These are no longer matters that concern only Israel and its citizens. They are matters concerning all Jews everywhere. Many of us across the world have close relatives in Israel, who have served in the army; our mothers and fathers may be buried there, our siblings contributing to Israeli society. We may have visited, repeatedly, filled with family argument after argument about possibility and impossibility, longing and belonging, blindness and responsibility. We are told we each have a "right to return" to a "homeland" not all of us know, invested with pregnant and often imaginary meaning, one that for millennia has been inhabited and sometimes co-inhabited by those increasingly now displaced from their own and to which they have a rightful claim.

So Israel's killing fields have been carried out in the name of all Jews, not only in the voice of those Israeli teenage girls and boys who understand not at all of which they tweet. There is no excuse for them, less for their parents. A "right to return" to a state that so cavalierly kills - one family of 17 was "inadvertently" completely wiped out as Israel sought to assassinate the Gaza police chief visiting an aunt in a neighboring home - amounts to a license to kill in one's name.

In seeking to end rockets being fired from Gaza deeper and deeper into Israel, the Israelis are admitting implicitly that the day will come when their technological superiority will no longer offset the capacity of at least some Palestinians angered and resentful from decades of degradation and death at the hands of their oppressors to cause extensive destruction within Israel. Hatred and the call for extermination on one side bids up and expands already existing calls in reverse on the other. Technological superiority inevitably gives way across the long stretch of history. The current hell-bent drive to delimit Hamasian capacity will more than likely hasten that day. Israel's manic death-drive is as bankrupt on instrumental as it is on moral grounds. It is far past the time for all of us to face up to the fact that the moral dilemmas strangling Jewish life today, tearing us apart, are the price to be paid for the indiscriminate, spiraling and altogether unnecessary killings being executed in our collective name.

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Gaza's Torment, Israel's Crimes, Our Responsibilities

Monday, 14 July 2014 09:06 By Noam Chomsky, Z Communications | Op-Ed
 
At 3am Gaza time, July 9, in the midst of Israel’s latest exercise in savagery, I received a phone call from a young Palestinian journalist in Gaza. In the background, I could hear his infant child wailing, amidst the sounds of explosions and jet planes, targeting any civilian who moves, and homes as well.  He just saw a friend of his in a car clearly marked “press” blown away.  And he heard shrieks next door after an explosion but can’t go outside or he’ll be a likely target.  This is a quiet neighborhood, no military targets – except Palestinians who are fair game for Israel’s high tech US-supplied military machine.  He said that 70% of the ambulances have been destroyed, and that by then over 70 had been killed, and of the 300 or so wounded, about 2/3 women and children.  Few Hamas activists have been hit – or rocket launching sites. Just the usual victims.

It is important to understand what life is like in Gaza when Israel’s behavior is “restrained,” in between the regular manufactured crises like this one.  A good sense is given in a report to UNRWA by Mads Gilbert, the courageous and expert Norwegian physician who has worked extensively in Gaza, also throughout the vicious and murderous Cast Lead operation.  In every respect, the situation is disastrous.  Just keeping to children, Gilbert reports: “Palestinian children in Gaza are suffering immensely. A large proportion are affected by the man-made malnourishment regime caused by the Israeli imposed blockage. Prevalence of anaemia in children <2yrs 31.45="" 31.4="" 34.3="" 72.8="" and="" as="" at="" been="" documented="" gaza="" gets="" have="" in="" is="" it="" of="" p="" prevalence="" proceeds.="" report="" respectively.="" stunting="" the="" underweight="" wasting="" while="" worse="">
When Israel is on “good behavior,” more than two Palestinian children are killed every week, a pattern that goes back over 14 years.  The underlying cause is the criminal occupation and the programs to reduce Palestinian life to bare survival in Gaza, while Palestinians are restricted to unviable cantons in the West Bank and Israel takes over what it wants, all in gross violation of international law and explicit Security Council resolutions, not to speak of minimal decency.  And it will continue as long as it is supported by Washington and tolerated by Europe – to our everlasting shame.

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"Israel Targets Civilians, the Casualties Speak Volumes": International Protection Urged for Besieged Gaza

Tuesday, 15 July 2014 11:19 By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! | Video Interview
Thousands of Gazans have fled their homes amidst a relentless Israeli bombing campaign that has now killed more than 170 people, most of them civilians, since it began a week ago. The United Nations estimates at least 80 percent of the dead are civilian, of whom 20 percent are children — at least 36 dead. More than 1,200 Palestinians have been wounded, nearly two-thirds women and children. Some 940 homes have reportedly been severely damaged or destroyed, 400,000 people are without electricity, and 17,000 people are displaced. Hamas has fired an estimated 700 rockets into Israel, causing no direct killings but leaving an Israeli teen critically wounded. We get reaction from Palestinian attorney Diana Buttu, who has served as a legal adviser to the Palestinians in negotiations with Israel and to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. "When Israel talks about who it’s targeting and what it’s targeting, they’ve never proffered any proof or any evidence for what it is they’re trying to hit," Buttu says. "At the end of the day, as much as Israel tries to claim they are not targeting civilians, they are — and the casualties speak volumes."

TRANSCRIPT:
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show in the Gaza Strip, where Israeli Defense Forces and tanks are positioned along the border in the seventh day of Israel’s offensive. As of this morning, the Palestinian death toll has reached at least 172, among them 140 civilians, including 30 children. According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, more than 1,200 people have been wounded. This weekend brought the deadliest strikes to date, including a bombing that killed 18 members of the same family. No Israelis have been killed.

On Sunday, the Israeli military dropped leaflets and sent text messages to warn residents of the northern Palestinian town of Beit Lahiya to evacuate the area as it planned to intensify its large-scale bombing campaign. One displaced resident described an Israeli leaflet telling locals, quote, "any moving body after noon will be struck," unquote.

In addition to bombing homes, Israel has carried out a number of attacks on Gaza’s civilian infrastructure. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights says the targets have included charities, parks, sports clubs and a mosque. The United Nations Humanitarian Affairs Office estimates thousands have been displaced in Gaza. Almost a thousand homes have been destroyed. On Saturday, Israeli shelling killed two disabled women and wounded four when a tank shell struck a rehabilitation center in Gaza City. A member of an ambulance crew spoke to the media.
AMBULANCE CREW MEMBER: [translated] These are the targets of Bibi Netanyahu. These are the remains of children. These are dolls for children. These are the targets of Bibi Netanyahu. These are the targets of the Jews. They are children in an organization for the disabled.
AMY GOODMAN: The U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, has expressed alarm at the escalation in fighting as the Security Council is demanding a ceasefire. His office released a statement that, quote, "The Secretary-General does not believe that what is inherently a longstanding, serious political dispute between Israelis and Palestinians can be resolved via military means by either side. He remains engaged with both sides to urge de-escalation and an end to violence."

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet that responsibility for civilian deaths in Gaza lies with Hamas.
PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: [translated] We don’t know when this operation will be over. It may take a long time, and we need your support and your discipline. Hamas uses the residents of Gaza as a human shield and is bringing disaster on the residents of Gaza, and therefore the responsibility for any harm done to civilians in Gaza, which we regret, the responsibility is that of Hamas and its partners, and them alone.
AMY GOODMAN: Militants in Gaza have fired hundreds of rockets at Israel.
Well, for more, we’re joined from Harvard University by Diana Buttu, an attorney based in Palestine. She has served as a legal adviser to the Palestinians in negotiations with Israel. She was previously an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

We welcome you to Democracy Now! Diana Buttu, can you respond to the latest news from Gaza right now?

DIANA BUTTU: Yes, Amy, in addition to the killings of people, there have been more than 940 houses that have been destroyed by the Israeli army, in addition to much of the water infrastructure has also been targeted. This is a war that has been taking place against the Palestinian civilian population, deliberately designed to bring down the Palestinian civilian population. And this is why we’ve been calling for international intervention to hold Israel accountable to make sure that this precisely stops.

AMY GOODMAN: So, can you talk about how you see this ending?

DIANA BUTTU: The problem is, Amy, is that I don’t see it ending. The real issue here is whether Israel is going to be held accountable. And so far there hasn’t been any international actors who have stepped forward to say anything to Israel or to do anything against Israel. There haven’t been sanctions lobbied against Israel. There haven’t been any statements. And at the end of the day, it’s going to be simply a question of whether Israel gets tired of continuing to bomb a civilian population. We’ve seen this in the past, when it’s carried out bombing campaigns against Lebanon and also the previous bombing campaigns against Gaza. They usually end when Israel—when public opinion turns against Israel. And at the point in time, I just don’t see that there’s any action that’s being taken the stop Israel from continuing to carry out these attacks.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to comments made by the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on the weekend on Fox News.
PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: You know, here’s the difference between us. We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles. That’s basically the difference. They’re embedding these rockets that they’re firing wholesale into our cities, terrorist rocketing, trying to kill as many as they can. They’re not succeeding because of two reasons. One is because we’ve developed this incredible missile defense system, which I think is a historic development in the history of defensive warfare, with U.S. help, and I want to thank the American people, President Obama, the U.S. Congress for helping us fund this amazing development. But the other reason we’re succeeding—you have to understand some of the rockets do pierce through this shield, and the reason we’re succeeding is also because we’re targeting the rocketeers. The rocketeers are firing from homes. These homes are actually command posts of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad army. So, that’s where they have their secure communications, weapon caches, rockets, hidden map rooms and so on. These are their command posts. Obviously we’re not going to give them immunity, and so we have to attack them. And we try to minimize, as we can, civilian casualties.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Fox this weekend. Diana Buttu, again, he said, "We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians; they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles. That’s basically the difference," he says.

DIANA BUTTU: This is simply Israeli propaganda at its finest. When you look at the death toll and you see the numbers, then the numbers actually speak volumes. When you see that 80 percent of the people who have been killed are civilian, when you see that half of them are women and children, and when you see that who they’re actually bombing is a population 43 percent of whom are under the age of 14, then this is very easy to pierce through the propaganda.

But more importantly, I think it’s important to keep in mind that when Israel talks about who it’s targeting and what it’s targeting, they’ve never proffered any proof or any evidence for what it is that they’re trying to hit. They simply make these allegations, and networks like Fox take it in and simply accept it as being fact. But the fact of the matter is, is that when all of this is over, Israel has never allowed independent investigators to come in and see what it is that Israel is doing. At the end of the day, as much as Israel tries to claim that they’re not targeting civilians, they are, and the casualties speak volumes.

AMY GOODMAN: Last week we spoke to Joshua Hantman, the senior adviser to Israel’s ambassador to the United States. I asked him about the killing. At that point, it was more than a hundred Palestinians had been killed by Israeli airstrikes, most of them women and children. This was his response.
JOSHUA HANTMAN: For Israel, any civilian death is not only a tragedy, but it’s a failure, as well. And we review every single operation and every single strike to see how we can improve. We’ve hit over 800 targets to try and stop these rockets, to try and stop this indiscriminate missile fire against our civilians. Out of those 800 targets, I’ll be honest, the precision—the precision is quite outstanding. And there is no military in the history of the world that has actually used such precision targets. I mean, think about it from a military tactics point of view. We tell our enemies—we tell Hamas where we’re going to hit. We tell them with text messages, with phone calls, with leaflets. We tell them in order to get civilians out of harm’s way. But for them, civilian death is actually—it’s actually a success.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Joshua Hantman, the senior adviser to Israel’s ambassador to the United States, again, responding to my question about the number of Palestinian children and women who have been killed. He talked about precision bombing. Diana Buttu, your response?

DIANA BUTTU: Yes, he’s precise. He is precisely bombing children, and he’s precisely bombing women. If their targeting is so precise, then what he’s saying is actually correct, that they are actually targeting women and children and civilians. And so, at the end of the day, as much as they can try to coat this as being somehow an aggression against some elements within the Gaza Strip, we know otherwise. And the death tolls in these past three aggressions against the Gaza Strip, these past three massacres, really lay out the picture that is actually happening there.

Amy, it’s important to keep in mind exactly what we’re talking about here in the Gaza Strip. This is a place that is twice the size of D.C., Washington, D.C., and it’s got 1.8 million people in it. Half of the population is under the age of 18. As I said, 43 percent is under the age of 14. If you are age seven at this point in time, you’ve been through three bombing campaigns by the Israelis. So, at the end of the day, as much as the Israelis want to claim that they’re using this target precision devices, etc., the toll is really being taken out on Palestinian civilians. So far to date, the Israelis have dropped more weaponry and more bombings than over the three-week campaign that took place in 2009. They’ve admittedly dropped more than 800 tons of bombs on the Gaza Strip.

AMY GOODMAN: Israel says it’s launching its attacks in response to the rocket fire from Gaza.

DIANA BUTTU: This is also another myth, Amy. It’s important to keep in mind what the events were that led up to this whole issue. There were three Israelis who had gone missing in the West Bank. The three Israelis, even though the Israelis knew that they were killed immediately, they ended up putting Palestinians under collective punishment. They ended up arresting more than 500 Palestinians. They killed 11 within that—even before the attack on the Gaza Strip. They ransacked 2,000 homes. They ended up demolishing quite a number of homes. And it became clear that this was going to spiral out of control. Bibi Netanyahu himself said that he was going to try to escalate to try to go after Hamas, even though they had absolutely no evidence. And what he really intended to do was to try to break this national unity government. He knew very well that the international support was alongside the Palestinians, because Israel had continued its settlement activity. It had failed when it came to the peace process. And it needed to bring international support back to Israel by carrying out a bombing campaign against Gaza.

AMY GOODMAN: Critics say the Israeli government is trying to destroy the Palestinian Authority—the unity deal with Hamas, as well as the recent efforts for international recognition by joining U.N. conventions. Can you respond to this, Diana Buttu?

DIANA BUTTU: Yes, I think that this is very much part of the strategy. If you think back to where we were just a couple of months ago, we were at the end of the peace process, a peace process that had failed in large part because—or entirely because the Israeli side continued to build more and more settlements. Even Secretary Kerry had said that he was exasperated by the situation. The national unity government was formed. Israel kept trying to break that national unity government. The international community was not willing to side with Israel on this, recognizing that this national unity government was the best thing for Palestinians. And in particular, there aren’t any members of Hamas within the national unity government. And so, he did his best to try to break it. He tried to do it through propaganda, and now he’s trying to do it with this military assault, all the while trying to shift focus onto Hamas and what Hamas is doing and ignoring the fact that he’s actually heading a government that consists of people who call for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain who those are who are firing the rockets at Israel? Who are the forces within Gaza? And what is the response within the population?

DIANA BUTTU: There are different people who are firing rockets. Some of them are members of Islamic Jihad, some of them are members of other smaller organizations, and some of them are members of Hamas. To be quite honest, I don’t know. I don’t live in Gaza at the moment; I used to, but I don’t at the moment. So it’s unclear.

The response of the Palestinian population is mixed. On the one hand, Palestinians recognize that there needs to be some defense and that they need to defend themselves against what Israel is doing. And on the other hand, there are some Palestinians who are critical and who are saying that this is just simply going to wreak more and more havoc on Palestinian lives. But at the end of the day, they recognize who is dropping the bombs, which is the Israelis.

And moving forward, I think that the only way that we can move forward is begin to talk about protecting Palestinians and having an international protection force that is there to protect Palestinians. This is something that the Israelis have refused to do over time. And I think now is the time that we begin to talk about this issue once again.

AMY GOODMAN: What has been the role of the United States?

DIANA BUTTU: The United States has been the biggest enabler for Israel. We haven’t heard any condemnations by Secretary Kerry or Obama. Instead, we’ve simply heard that Israel has a right to defend itself, whereas we know what Israel is doing: It’s defending its military occupation. We haven’t heard anything regarding the death toll that’s been inflicted on Palestinians and the efforts made by some Palestinians to broker a ceasefire. Instead, it’s simply been a hands-off system of allowing Israel to do whatever it wants to do. And again, Amy, this is not going to bring us any further to ending this conflict.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think Hamas is ready for a ceasefire?

DIANA BUTTU: Hamas has indicated that they are ready for a ceasefire. They’ve listed out their conditions for a ceasefire. There was a call made last Thursday by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to Secretary Kerry to try to get him to broker a ceasefire. He indicated that Netanyahu had outright rejected it. Netanyahu keeps indicating that he will not entertain talk of a ceasefire. And if you think about it, he has no—there’s no urgency for him to do so, because of the fact that there has been no international response against what Israel is doing.

AMY GOODMAN: I know you have to leave, Diana Buttu, but what are the conditions that Hamas has laid out for a ceasefire?

DIANA BUTTU: The primary conditions are for Israel to stop the attacks. Another condition is that they’ve indicated that they should release those prisoners that were re-arrested in this roundup after the three Israelis had gone missing. They’ve also indicated—they put forward other conditions relating to the movement of people, etc. But interestingly enough, they have actually not mentioned anything about the ongoing siege, which I think is one of the main reasons that this continues.

AMY GOODMAN: Diana Buttu, thank you for being with us, attorney based in Palestine, though she is at Harvard University right now, where we are speaking to her in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Diana Buttu has served as a legal adviser to the Palestinians in negotiations with Israel. She was previously an adviser to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. When we come back, we go directly to Gaza. Stay with us.

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US Taxpayers Are Subsidizing Defense of Alleged Killers of Palestinian Teen

Tuesday, 15 July 2014 09:14 By Uri Blau, ProPublica | Report
 
 
Flags of US and Israel. (Photo <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-33798487/stock-photo-flags-of-usa-and-israel-in-the-wind-close-up.html?src=6GWTwTHR4B1gBwlnBKIscg-1-20" target="_blank">via Shutterstock</a>)Flags of US and Israel. (Photo via Shutterstock)A controversial Israeli organization that's representing the six men recently arrested in the recent revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager is receiving thousands of dollars in tax-deductible support from Americans. The group, called Honenu (which roughly translates to "pardon"), supports Israelis charged with or convicted of violence against Palestinians.
Honenu's work goes well goes beyond legal aid.
The group says it also provides "spiritual" and "financial" assistance to prisoners and their families. Among those Honenu has helped: Yigal Amir, assassin of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin; an Israeli convicted of murdering seven Palestinians at a bus stop; and an Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter and obstruction of justice after shooting a British photographer in Gaza.
The tax-exempt donations do not appear to run afoul of U.S. law. But they do put U.S. taxpayers in the position of subsidizing aid to Israelis convicted of politically motivated violence.

Asked about the group's work, Honenu spokesman Eran Schwartz said the organization "provides much help to Israeli police, soldiers and citizens who are entitled, as are all people, to legal defense." Schwartz declined to answer our other questions, including about the group's financial support that goes beyond legal defense. (See their full statement below.)

Honenu's latest filing to the Israeli government shows its overall budget for 2012 was nearly $600,000, about $120,000 of which went to legal aid, $34,000 to "financial assistance," and the rest to salaries and overhead. (Here is Honenu's filing, in Hebrew.)

The group, which was founded in 2001, uses an American nonprofit as conduit for donations. Honenu's website, which advertises that "your contribution is tax-deductible," says checks should be made out to "Central Fund of Israel," or CFI. As the New York Times detailed in 2010, the Central Fund of Israel serves as a "clearing house" for donations to hundreds of groups in Israel, some of them supporting settlements.

CFI has grown almost continuously since it was founded in 1979 by members of the Marcus family, who own a New York textile company.

Operating from Manhattan's garment district, CFI received about $16 million in 2012, according to the Fund's latest filing with the Internal Revenue Service. Jay Marcus, who now runs CFI, said donations in 2013 reached about $19 million.

In the Fund's filings with the IRS, it lists donations to Israeli groups as going to "social services, humanitarian aid, and aid to the poor."

Marcus confirmed in a phone call that his organization transfers donations to Honenu. "They are a legal aid society," he said.

Honenu's filing with the Israeli government shows the group received about $120,000 from CFI in 2012. The documents identify another $12,000 coming from "Honenu USA." A nonprofit organization with that name operated from Queens, New York and last filed a report to the Internal Revenue Service in 2010, stating it had received contributions of $33,000. It is not clear if Honenu USA is still active.

Marcus Owens, a lawyer who ran the IRS's nonprofit unit in the 1990s said such donations can fall into a tricky area: "While providing legal assistance to those accused of crimes is a long-standing charitable purpose (e.g. the American Civil Liberties Union), providing assistance to relatives of those convicted of crimes has been viewed by the US government as potentially encouraging further criminal action."
The State Department's recent annual report on terrorism included, for the first time, attacks by Israelis against Palestinians, citing a rise in "violent acts by extremist Jewish individuals and groups in retaliation for activity they deemed to be anti-settlement."

If you have experience with or information about American nonprofits supporting extremists in Israel, email Uri Blau or tweet him @uri_blau. Blau is an Israeli investigative journalist specialized in military and political affairs, corruption and transparency. He was a 2014 Nieman Fellow for Journalism at Harvard University.

Full response from Honenu

As our article details, Honenu is an Israeli group that received tax-deductible donations from the United States and supports Israelis charged with or convicted of violence against Palestinians. We asked Honenu for comment prior to our article. This is their full response:
Honenu's response to article by Uri Blau. The reporter, Uri Blau was convicted of severe crimes of espionage against Israel which attests to his motives and his anti-Israel and anti-Semitic interests. To date, we have not heard him expressing regret for his criminal actions. Honenu provides much help to Israeli police, soldiers and citizens who are entitled, as are all people, to legal defense. We will not cooperate with a convicted criminal whose goal is to damage Israelis and Jews.

The author of our article, freelancer Uri Blau, was convicted in 2012 in Israel of holding classified military documents he received as a reporter. The International Press Institute condemned the case against Blau as "undermining press freedom in general and investigative journalism in particular" in Israel. Here is more on Blau's case and press freedoms in Israel.

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