Tag Archives: B’tselem

Words matter! S.Res.176

Dear Senators Udall and Heinrich,

Disappointment and frustration.

A half-century after the Six-Day War which culminated in Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, it is extremely disappointing that the U.S. Senate continues to succumb to Israel’s revisionist history (propaganda).

Your support for S.Res.176, A Resolution Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Reunification of Jerusalem, along with your colleagues, is further evidence that the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) may achieve by unilateral and incremental steps, what Israel failed to do in 1967-1968.

The Palestinians consider East Jerusalem the capital of their future state. The United Nations, the vast majority of countries, and international law, support this interpretation of history. Your resolution does violence to the truth and to international law.

Israel never “reunified” Jerusalem, as your resolution proclaims, but occupied East Jerusalem and then began drawing municipal borders to strengthen Israel’s sovereignty over the city by creating a Jewish majority. The legal status of the City of Jerusalem is clear. Under international law, Israel occupies East Jerusalem.

S.Res.176 fails to mention the occupation and the Palestinians living in East Jerusalem who are not even granted citizenship in Israel but rather permanent resident status. In a precedent-setting case, the Supreme Court of Israel ruled earlier this year that the permanent residents of East Jerusalem deserve better.

Last year I visited East Jerusalem. It’s like night and day between the Jewish settlements and the Palestinian neighborhoods. One has green lawns and swimming pools while the other struggles to live on about half the amount of water recommended by the World Health Organization.  One has new schools and playgrounds with equipment for their children, while the other hasn’t had any new classrooms built in many years. Mothers are now holding classes in their homes.

In 2011, the High Court of Justice ruled that over the next five years, the Education Ministry and municipality must build enough classrooms in the public school system for all East Jerusalem students.  … Yet the latest report by the Ir Amim organization says the problem has only gotten worse: East Jerusalem currently lacks 2,247 classrooms, compared to about 1,500 when the High Court petition was filed in 2007. Over the past five years, only some 35 classrooms a year have been built – less than the number needed to accommodate the population’s natural growth.”

The State of Israel has been creating its “facts on the ground,” moving Jewish settlers into East Jerusalem and forcibly displacing Palestinian families out of East Jerusalem.

I encourage you and your staff to watch these two short amateur videos about life in East Jerusalem. In the first, an Israeli activist talks about why she supports the Palestinians in East Jerusalem. In the second, children show how settlers have taken over the front part of their home, and the family continues to live in the back.  Other families were thrown out into the street. Israeli, international and Palestinian activists, Sara Benninga among them, have started a growing solidarity movement and demonstrate there weekly to oppose the injustice of Israel accepting pre-1948 ownership claims by Jews, but not by Palestinians.

S.Res.176 reaffirms that it is the longstanding, bipartisan policy of the United States Government that the permanent status of Jerusalem remains a matter to be decided between the parties through final status negotiations towards a two-state solution; and yet the very title and preamble clauses state unambiguously that Jerusalem is undivided and belongs to Israel, with no mention of Palestinians and their aspirations for East Jerusalem.

Words matter!  Even nonbinding resolutions matter!  Please take note of that fact and don’t add your name to such propaganda in the future.


Lora Lucero

P.S. This Thursday, June 8, you have an opportunity to hear from experts at a briefing on Capitol Hill sponsored by Defense for Children International – Palestine & American Friends Service Committee. Congressional Briefing: 50 Years of Israeli Military Occupation & Life for Palestinian Children. Please plan to attend or send a staff person.

Thursday June 8, 2017
9:30AM – 11:00AM EST

Cannon House Office Building, Rm 122
27 Independence Ave, SE,
Washington, DC 20003

UPDATE – June 9, 2017 – Response received from Senator Tom Udall. I wonder if writing to our elected officials in DC makes any difference.

Dear Ms. Lucero,

Thank you for your comments regarding S. Res. 176, a resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.

On May 24, 2017, Senators Mitch McConnell (KY) and Charles Schumer (NY) introduced S. Res. 176. Upon introduction the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. On May 25, 2017, the resolution was passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. On June 5, 2017, the resolution was passed in the Senate by a vote of 90 to Zero, with my vote in favor. I value receiving feedback from my constituents, and I appreciate your taking the time to keep me informed. Your help allows me to more effectively represent you in the U.S. Senate.

Thank you again for sharing your thoughts with me.  Please feel free to contact me with your concerns regarding any federal issue by visiting my website at www.tomudall.senate.gov.  For more information, you may also visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/senatortomudall and receive up to the minute updates through my Twitter page at http://twitter.com/senatortomudall.

Very truly yours,
Tom Udall
United States Senator




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The Israeli Occupation Comes to the UN Security Council

Hagai El-Ad’s address in a special discussion about settlements at the United Nations Security Council on October 14, 2016

(The following transcript and short videos are located on the Btselem website.

Members of the Security Council,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before I begin, I would like to express my deep thanks for this unique opportunity of speaking at this distinguished forum and engaging with the members of the UN Security Council.

What I’m about to say is not meant to shock you. It is, however, meant to move you.

For the past 49 years – and counting – the injustice known as the occupation of Palestine, and Israeli control of Palestinian lives in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, has become part of the international order. The first half-century of this reality will soon be over. On behalf of B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, I implore you today to take action. Anything short of decisive international action will achieve nothing but ushering in the second half of the first century of the occupation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

What does it mean, in practical terms, to spend 49 years, a lifetime, under military rule? When violence breaks out, or when particular incidents attract global attention, you get a glimpse into certain aspects of life under occupation. But what about the rest of the time? What about the many “ordinary” days of a 17,898-day-long occupation, which is still going strong? Living under military rule mostly means invisible, bureaucratic, daily, violence. It means living under an endless permit regime, which controls Palestinian life from cradle to grave: Israel controls the population registry; Israel controls work permits; Israel controls who can travel abroad – and who cannot; Israel controls who can visit from abroad – and who cannot; in some villages, Israel maintains lists of who can visit the village, or who is allowed to farm which fields. Permits can sometimes be denied; permits must always be renewed. Thus with every breath they take, Palestinians breathe in occupation. Make a wrong move, and you can lose your freedom of movement, your livelihood, or even the opportunity to marry and build a family with your beloved.

Meanwhile, ever present, are the settlements and the settlers. They are Israeli citizens living, ostensibly, in a first-world democracy, that somehow exists only for them, beyond the borders of their country. This ever-expanding venture, its illegality notwithstanding, is to be found everywhere throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Settlements encompass the built-up areas as well as the generous allocations of land around them, meant for future expansion or “special security zones”; they mean checkpoints for Palestinians, and bypass roads for settlers; they mean the Separation Barrier; and finally, they mean the fragmentation of Palestine into hundreds of isolated communities, floating – or rather I should say, slowly sinking – in a sea of Israeli domination. Who could possibly deserve to endure such conditions for half a century?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Almost all aspects of this reality are considered legal by Israel. Israel’s control of Palestinian lives is unique in the careful attention the occupying power gives to the letter of the law, while strangling its very spirit. The occupation has so perfected the art of watering down International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law as to render them virtually meaningless. Once military lawyers, State Attorneys and Supreme Court justices are done masterfully chiseling out legal opinions, all that remains is raw injustice.

Show me a dead Palestinian whose killing must be explained away to ensure impunity, and there you will find a learned opinion by the Military Advocate General. Show me the 100,000 Palestinians ignored and neglected on the other side of the Separation Barrier built inside East Jerusalem, and I will remind you that even this glaring injustice has been pre-approved by Israel’s High Court of Justice.

Show me a plot of Palestinian land you wish taken over, and the Civil Administration will come up with the appropriately tailored legal mechanism – of course, it must all be legal! – to achieve that end: military training zones, nature reserves, archeological sites and, above all, declaring thousands of acres “State Land” – what “State” exactly? All these are successfully used in order to forcibly displace Palestinians and justify denying them access to running water or the power grid. Of course, such Israeli actions aren’t successful 100% of the time. That would be too transparent. So once in a long while, maybe once a decade, a low-ranking soldier might be put on a show trial; and once in a blue moon a master plan for a Palestinian village will be approved. These extraordinary cherry-picked rarities provide useful distractions from the big picture.

In order to uphold the guise of legality, Israel applies “due process” in just about everything: to potentially force-feed hunger strikers, as recently approved by the High Court; to routinely approve and renew administrative detention orders, or extend prolonged imprisonment without trial, of hundreds of Palestinians; to demolish the homes of the families of Palestinians who perpetrated attacks – yes, that too has happened hundreds of times, with due process and a seal of approval by the High Court. Since the year 2000, more than 4,400 Palestinians have lost their homes in this way.

Yes, Israel has professional lawyers, attorneys and judges. It is, indeed, a highly “professional” occupation. We have had plenty of time to work towards a more perfect occupation. But you don’t need to be a lawyer in order to recognize injustice. Look at the occupation and all the legal pretense surrounding it, and call it for what it is: a legal guise for organized state violence.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Israel has systematically legalized human rights violations in the occupied territories through the establishment of permanent settlements, punitive home demolitions, a biased building and planning mechanism, taking over Palestinian land and much, much more. Israel’s military law enforcement system – if one can call it that – routinely whitewashes hundreds of cases in which Palestinians were killed or abused.

Here are some figures: Israel has declared 20% of the West Bank “State Land”; Israel “generously” allows Palestinians to build on one-half of one percent of Area C, the 60% of the West Bank placed “temporarily” under Israeli control a generation ago; over the past decade, Israel has demolished some 1,200 Palestinian homes in the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem, thereby rendering homeless over 5,500 people, half of them minors; East Jerusalem figures would raise these by roughly another 50%; in April 2016 there were about 7,000 Palestinians in Israeli custody, a quarter of them individuals remanded for the duration of their military court proceedings, and roughly 10% administrative detainees. One final figures: in a quarter of the 740 plus complaints referred by B’Tselem to the military authorities since 2000, no investigation was even opened; in another half, the cases were eventually closed with no action taken; and only in 25 cases, were indictments served. And get this: during that time, the military authorities have physically lost track of 44 cases – more than the 25 cases that went to court. Israel insists that all of this is legal, under both Israeli law and international law.

It is not.

But this fact is of little practical significance in terms of keeping Israel from carrying on implementing its policies because, regrettably, international law lacks any effective enforcement mechanisms. And so, Israeli policies are implemented and advanced with ever greater domestic support. Despite broad international agreement – including previous Security Council resolutions – that the settlements are illegal, the only measurable change in this area is the growing number of settlements, of settlers, and of Palestinians living in their shadow, facing demolitions or displacement.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

B’Tselem has worked for 27 years to document and publish violations of human rights in the occupied territories, to analyze and interpret data, and advocate locally and internationally on these issues. We are not advocating for any specific political outcome: we are fighting human rights violations. In fact, we realize how Israel has effectively used the “peace process” itself to buy time – a great deal of time – while it further establishes more facts on Palestinian ground. B’Tselem’s mission to tell the Israeli public about the ways in which the state oppresses Palestinians will continue as long as the occupation does. We were and will always remain relentless in this effort, for it is our basic moral obligation. But after so many years, one has to draw certain conclusions. Moral principles alone will not be enough. Israel will not cease being an oppressor simply by waking up one day and realizing the brutality of its policies. Decades of false pretexts and genuine fears, economic interests and political dogma, have come together to prevent that eventuality, while too few convincing reasons to change course were presented. And globally?

Six-and-a-half years ago US Vice President Joe Biden warned that “the status quo is not sustainable”. Clearly he was at least six-and-a-half years too early in voicing such a warning. The “status quo” – that ever progressing vector of Israeli interests at the expense of Palestinian rights – has proven not merely sustainable, but in fact thriving.

Almost exactly a year ago the European Union embarked on a six-month “structured dialogue” with Israel, seeking to end administrative home demolitions in Area C. Six months later, the dialogue was going nowhere and demolitions were on the rise, yet the EU decided – to extend the dialogue. If an unprecedented number of demolitions goes hand-in-hand with an unlimited timetable for international dialogue, why stop demolitions?

Clearly, the occupation is internationally sustainable. It is so, because so far the world refuses to take effective action.

Recent years have made that realization even more painful. Israel’s long-term project to maximize its benefits from Palestinian land while minimizing the nuisance of Palestinian presence there has become even more palpable than perhaps ever before. Admittedly, even just half a day spent in the West Bank has long been more than enough to realize the permanence sought for the enterprise that Israeli governments right, center, and left have been advancing there since 1967. Similarly, retired Israeli officials have openly said so – most recently it was put quite simply by a former OC Central Command who said: “The army is there because the State of Israel has no intention of leaving.” But now that Israeli leaders currently in office, from the Prime Minister down, have been skipping the lip-service in real time and openly admitting this – with such a level of official clarity – it seemed that surely, finally, there would be implications. Was one naïve to have that expectation?

Perhaps. While unprecedented clarity in Israeli language has narrowed the divide between Israeli actions and the empty rhetoric on negotiations and diplomacy, the global response to it was, well, yet another report. Demolitions have been stepped up, making 2016 the worst year on record in this sphere. I feel compelled to ask: how many more Palestinian homes must be bulldozed before the realization sinks in that words that are not backed up by action do no more than indicate to Israel that it may carry on?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The realization of human rights need not wait any longer. Palestinians have the right to life and dignity, the right to determine their own future. These have all been delayed for far too long – and justice delayed is justice denied.

As Martin Luther King Jr taught us, “we know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor”. So the reality facing the international community is this: absence of action not only effectively gives the oppressor a license to proceed without having to suffer too many repercussions, but also gives the oppressor the power to decide when will be the right time to start considering alternatives. “Wait,” demands Israel, “now is not the right time”. But “‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never’,” responds Martin Luther King Jr. “The time is always right to do what is right.” That time is now: the time to, at long last, take action. The UN Security Council has more than just power: you have a moral responsibility – and a real opportunity – to act with a sense of urgency, before we reach the symbolic date of June 2017 and the second half of that first century begins, to send to the world, to Israelis and to Palestinians, a clear message, backed by international action: Israel cannot have it both ways. You cannot occupy a people for fifty years and call yourself a democracy. You cannot violate the rights of millions and claim international perks justified by hollow words about commitment to shared human rights values.

Israel is a sovereign country established through international legitimacy granted through a historic decision by this very institution in 1947. I am a citizen of that country. It is my homeland. For most of my country’s existence, the world has allowed it to occupy another people. I have lived my entire life, every single day of it, with that reality. Millions of Israelis and Palestinians know no other reality. We need your help. Fifty years of “temporary” occupation are too long for even a single person on this planet to accept such a contradiction in terms. The rights of Palestinians must be realized; the occupation must end; the UN Security Council must act; and the time is now.

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Day #6 – July 12, 2014 – Martyrs

In 2012, I met an amazing man, Tariq Darwish, with an amazing gift in the Nuseirat Refugee Camp in the middle of the Gaza Strip. He could recite from memory the name, age, and circumstances of death of every Martyr (that’s the term that Palestinians give to those who die at the hands of Israel). I don’t know how he did it but last summer I often thought about him during Israel’s so-called Operation Protective Edge.

2012-09-30 21.47.29

Israel’s Hasbara team tried its best to minimize the Palestinians’ suffering in the eyes of the world by dehumanizing them, blaming Hamas for their deaths (“Hamas forced us to fire on houses with civilians inside”) and by referring to the victims by numbers.

Here are their names. By the end of only a single day (July 12, 2014), Israel had struck 180 targets in Gaza, resulting in 51 deaths. Palestinian militants fired 125 rockets towards Israel that day, with no fatalities.

These are the Palestinian Martyrs killed on July 12, 2014.

  • At 01:20, after his wife was phoned with a warning, two drone missiles struck the house of a member of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Ghaleb Kamel Mansour, in al-Junaina, Rafah; a follow-up IAF strike destroyed the house.
  • At 01:30, a strike on al-Nasr Street killed Yousif and Anas Qandil, father and son, who reportedly had fled their home, hoping to avoid collateral damage from shrapnel when their neighbours received a Israeli warning of an imminent strike on a nearby house. With others, they took shelter under a tree, where they were killed.
  • At 01:35 (var. 00:35), a drone missile hit a site, described variously as either the yard of Anwar Aziz Mosque or Martyr Anwar Aziz Square in Jabaliya, killing four people: Hissab Deeb Razaina (39), Abdul Rahman Saleh al-Khatib (38), Yousef Mohammed Mandil (39), and Mohammed Edris Abu Swailem, as well as wounding five others.
  • At 01:45, an IAF strike destroyed Mohammed and Shawqi Afana’s 2-storey house, with collateral damage to a nearby home; seven civilians wounded.
  • At 2:15 a.m, an IAF airstrike demolished the al-Farouq Mosque in Nuseirat refugee camp.
  • At 04:55 (or about 04:30, coinciding with the muezzin’s prayer): warning missiles, not heard by the hostel patients, were fired, but the disabled had no means to evacuate in time. Two mentally and physically disabled women, Ola Washahi (aka Ola Hussein Enshassi; aged 30 or 31) and Suha Musbah Abu Sa’da (aged 39 or 47) were killed, while several other people sustained injuries when the IAF struck a charitable care home for the handicapped in Beit Lahiya.  A caregiver was hospitalized for burns.
  • At 05:05, an IAF strike demolished a Wassef Charity office in al-Maghazi.
  • At 05:30, 3 drone-launched missiles partially destroyed Ahmed Ezzat Abu Ahmed’s 2-storey in Rafah’s al-Shaboura refugee camp, wounding Mohammed al-Houbi (12).
  • At 05:45, an IAF missile destroyed the Rafah office of the Ministry of Labor.
  • At 05:55, a drone missile hit the Islamic National Bank in the al-Agha building in central Khan Yunis, damaging flats and a nearby house.
  • At 06:45, an IAF airstrike struck militants belonging to the al-Mujahidin Brigades near the al-Katiba Mosque in Ansar, Gaza City, killing three: Mohammed Rif’at al-Syouti (20), Mohammed Bassem al-Halabi (25) and Nabil As’ad Bassal (29).
  • At 07:10, an IAF airstrike killed three police officers in a park in al-Tuffah: Ibrahim Nabil Hamada (22), Hassan Ahmed Abu Ghoush (28), and Ahmed Mahmoud al-Bal’awi (23).
  • At 07:30, 2 drone-launched missiles hit the home of Islamic Jihadist Mohammed Jamal Timraz, in the Tel al-Sultan refugee camp, west of Rafah. A neighbour was phoned to evacuate the house beforehand. Shortly thereafter, an IAF missile destroyed it.
  • At 13:00, Al-Shifa Hospital staff in Gaza City announced the death of Safaa Mustafa Malaka (16), who had been wounded on 9 July in an attack on the family home in al-Zaytoun.
  • At 13:40, an IAF missile struck a site where several civilians reportedly seated under the al-Malash family apartment building in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City, killing six. The dead were: Nidal Mohammed Ibrahim al-Malash (22), Azmi Mahmoud Taha Obaid (51), Suleiman Sa’id Younis Obaid (56), Mustafa Mohamemd Taha Enaya (58), Ghassaan Ahmed al-Masri (25), and Rateb Subhi Yousef al-Saifi (22).
  • At 15:30, 2 drone-launched missiles hit No’man Wa’el al-Nahhal’s house in Rafah’s western al-Mawasi area, wounding his wife, Samar Fat’hi al-Nahhal (36); five minutes later, an IAF missile demolished the house.
  • At 16:30, an IAF missile was fired at a group of militants at the Doula intersection in al-Zaytoun, Gaza City, killing Ahmed Yousef Dalloul (37) and wounding three people.
  • At 17:30, an IAF bombing of a garden plot in al-Nazzaz Street in al-Shuja’iya neighborhood killed Ghazi Mohammed Mustafa Oraif (62) and his son, Mohammed (35), while they were reportedly tilling the earth.
  • At 17:30, a drone missile struck Jum’a Saber Khalifa’s 3-storey house, where 29 people resided, in the al-Nussairat refugee camp, followed shortly after by an IAF missile strike, killing a neighbor, Khawla Mohmmed Sarhan al-Hawajri (aged 25).
  • At 18:10, a drone missile fired at a group of militants, killing one person, Mohammed Abdullah Mohammed al-Sharatha (28), and wounding another east of Jabaliya.
  • At 19:30, a drone-launched missile struck the 2-storey house of Mohammed al-Bawab, an Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades operative, south of Rafah; an IAF strike demolished it 10 minutes later.
  • At 22:25, a drone-launched missile targeted two members of the al-Quds Brigades in the al-Zohour neighborhood north of Rafah, killing Muhannad Yousef Dubahir (21) and mortally wounding Izziddin Na’im Bulbul (27), who died in hospital three hours later.
  • At 22:30, in al-Tuffah, 2 IAF missiles, following a Hamas barrage of missiles towards Israeli cities, targeted the head of Gaza’s Hamas police, Gen. Tayseer al-Batsh. Initial accounts vary: either he was targeted as he was leaving a mosque in al-Tuffah, Gaza City, or the house where he was sheltering was hit by two bombs. In the latter case, he was injured while taking shelter in the house of his cousin, Majid al-Batsh, and the bombs demolished the house, and killed 21 or 22 members of the family inside. The attack killed 21 or 22 people and wounded between 35 and 45 people, including the general. It marked the single most deadly assault since the outbreak of hostilities. Ynet reported that the mosque was the primary target, that several militants, some intending to launch rockets, were among the 21 dead, and that the IDF “does not view the incident as a work accident”. The attack, reportedly without prior warning  struck Majed Subhi al-Batsh’s 2-storey house, home to two families, close by the al-Haramain Mosque in al-Tuffah, killing 11 family members:
  • Majed Subhi al-Batsh (50),
  • Bahaa Maj al-Batsh (28) his son,
  • Amal Hassan Mohammed al-Batsh (49), his wife,
  • Samah Alaa Subhi al-Batta (20), eight-months pregnant, daughter-in-law,
  • Amal Bahaa al-Batsh (2), his grandchild,
  • Jalal Majed al-Batsh (26), his son,
  • Khaled Majed al-Batsh (20), his son,
  • Mahmoud Majed al-Batsh (22), his son,
  • Ibrahim Majed al-Batsh (18), his son,
  • Marwa (25), his daughter,
  • Manar Majed al-Batsh (13), his child.
  • Several nearby houses owned by Majed al-Batsh’s brothers suffered considerable damage; the following were killed: Nahid Na’im Subhi al-Batsh (41), Qusai Issam Subhi al-Batsh (12), Mohammed Issam al-Batsh 17), Aziza Yousef Ahmed al-Batsh (59), Yihya Alaa Subhi al-Batsh (18), and Anas Alaa Subhi al-Batsh (7).
    15 other al-Batsh family members were wounded, 6 seriously.
  • At 23:05, a drone-launched missile struck a vehicle belonging to the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility, in Abu Bakr Street, western Rafah, seriously wounding Ziad Mahmoud al-Shawi (42).
  • At 23:40, a drone-launched missile successfully targeted a member of the al-Quds Brigades, Emad Bassam Zo’rob (23), in al-Siamat Street, northern Rafah. Two people who came to his assistance were struck by another missile, killing one, Fadi Mohammed Zo’rob (23), instantly. The other, Haitham Ashraf Zo’rob (20), died five hours later in hospital.

B’tselem estimated by noon on Saturday, 12 July, that of the 114 Palestinians killed, 27 had been killed while engaged in combat. Of the remainder, 26 were minors,13 were women (under age 60) and 5 were senior citizens. From 10 a.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday, Palestinian sources stated that 43 people, including 39 civilians, while 139 were wounded. 23 houses were demolished in air attacks.

Cites and references for the information compiled above can be found here.

I’m saying a prayer tonight while reading each victim’s name from July 12, 2014

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