Monday, 31 August 2009

Tutu tells Haaretz Palestinians pay price for Europe's Holocaust crimes

RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu has said that Israel should learn from the holocaust that it would never secure peace through walls and guns.

Tutu, speaking in an interview with Hebrew daily Ha'aretz published on Friday, said that the Palestinians were the ones paying the price for that holocaust, which was perpetrated by the West.

Tutu, who visited the West Bank recently, said that the Israeli roadblocks in the West Bank reminded him of the Apartheid era in his country South Africa.

However, he noted that the Apartheid regime did not impose collective punishment on the people and did not demolish homes at the pretext that one of the family members was suspected of "terrorism".

Leading Zionist pioneer turns back on Zionism

by Helena Cobban

I've never met Dov Yermiya, a Jewish Israeli peace activist who is now 94 years old. But I read of course the book he published in 1983 in which he wrote with anguish about the torture and other gross mistreatment of civilians he witnessed directly during Israel's invasion of Lebanon the year before.

I have it in my hand now.

I just learned, in this open letter published today by Uri Avnery, that Yermiya, recently renounced the ideology and practice of Zionism with these stirring words:
I, a 95 year old Sabra (native born Israeli Jew), who has plowed its fields, planted trees, built a house and fathered sons, grandsons and great-grandsons, and also shed his blood in the battle for the founding of the State of Israel,

Declare herewith that I renounce my belief in the Zionism which has failed, that I shall not be loyal to the Jewish fascist state and its mad visions, that I shall not sing anymore its nationalist anthem, that I shall stand at attention only on the days of mourning for those fallen on both sides in the wars, and that I look with a broken heart at an Israel that is committing suicide and at the three generations of offspring that I have bred and raised in it.

... for 42 years, Israel turned what should have been Palestine into a giant detention camp, and is holding a whole people captive under an oppressive and cruel regime, with the sole aim of taking away their country, come what may!!!

The IDF eagerly suppresses their efforts at rebellion, with the active assistance of the settlement thugs, by the brutal means of a sophisticated Apartheid and a choking blockade, inhuman harassment of the sick and of women in labor, the destruction of their economy and the theft of their best land and water.

Over all this there is waving the black flag of the frightening contempt for the life and blood of the Palestinians. Israel will never be forgiven for the terrible toll of blood spilt, and especially the blood of children, in hair-raising quantities...


Friday, 28 August 2009

Spanish activists protest at basketball match with Israel

Protest for Palestine at Spain versus Israel basketball match yesterday

more (Spanish)

Israel makes Ramadan arrests at al-Aqsa

Nothing is sacred in occupied Palestine as far as the Zionists oppressors are concerned. By the way 'Israeli Arabs' are Palestinians although I appreciate Israel would like to wipe them off the map.
5 detained during Ramadan prayers at Temple Mount

Some 90,000 Muslim worshippers attend prayer session in Jerusalem's Old City; beefed up security forces arrest five Palestinians and Israeli-Arabs, some of whom carried knives

Five people were arrested during the first Friday prayers of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City. The detainees, Palestinians and Israeli-Arabs, were taken in for questioning by security personnel.


Rabbis continue with monthly fast for Gaza

Sixty-two rabbis from the liberal streams of American Judaism are participating in a monthly "Jewish Fast for Gaza" which, according to their manifesto (crafted by one of the project's coordinators, Rabbi Brant Rosen) "seeks to end the Jewish community's silence over Israel's collective punishment in Gaza that has resulted in a humanitarian crisis of overwhelming proportions.

Why the fast? In Leviticus we read: "Do not stand idly by when your neighbor's blood is being spilled" (19:16).

The other project coordinator, Rabbi Brian Walt, is pleased by the response in support of the Fast for Gaza, pretentiously named Ta'anit Tzedek. He writes: "It has been incredibly heartening to find so many rabbis willing to participate in this initiative. It takes a lot of courage. I hope that this is one small step in breaking the Jewish community's silence over what is happening in Gaza.


Oxfam worker escapes Gaza prison

Oxfam, Gaza City from Rob S on Vimeo.

Oxfam’s Mohammed Ali reflects on his first weeks living in the UK after working under fire in his homeland for the past 2 years.

The moment I left Gaza I felt like I’d been let out of prison. It’s like the feeling a bird must have when all of a sudden, after years of living in a cage, someone opens the door. It flies away into the world, finally able to go where it wants and explore new things. That is how I feel as I write these words from a desk in Oxford.

I’ve now been here in the UK for nearly two weeks. It still feels like a dream! I waited two years to leave and I can’t believe I’m finally here. I keep thinking I’ll wake up back in Gaza, trapped, and unable to escape the misery we have all endured there since the Israeli blockade began two years ago.


Three dead after tunnel collapses

There has been another deadly tunnel collapse, this time resulting in the death of three people... and it's not just Israeli bombing that is to blame. Egypt, to its great shame, has been pumping sewage and gas into the tunnels and even throwing in explosives.


Thursday, 27 August 2009

Israeli pirates kill another Gaza fisherman

The People's Daily Online reports that the Israel pirates, sometimes referred to as a navy, has killed another Gaza fisherman and seriously injured one other. Seafood is one of the few sources of high-protein food available to the blockaded people of Gaza and the Israelis are doing their best to choke off this supply, with the added aim of laying claim to the natural gas deposits in Gazan waters.
A Palestinian fisherman was killed and another colleague was injured Thursday afternoon when Israeli navy fired shells and machinegun fire at their boat near the beach in northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya, witnesses said.

The witnesses said Mohammed al-Attar, 25, was killed when the shell hit his wooden fishing boat a few minutes after it set sail.

Medical sources said that the second fisherman suffered moderate wounds.

Israeli gunboats monitor the shores of the Gaza Strip to prevent the Palestinian fishermen from sailing farther than two nautical miles though mutual accords set the fishing area for the Palestinians in the Mediterranean to 20 nautical miles.

The incident comes hours after Palestinian militants fired mortar shells at Israeli army posts beyond the security fence that separates Gaza and Israel.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claimed responsibility for the mortar attack and said it marks the eighth anniversary of the death of its secretary general Abu Ali Mustafa at the hands of the Israeli army in the West Bank.

The Gaza Strip is controlled by Islamic Hamas movement which has been maintaining a level of calmness with Israel since the Jewish state completed a major military offensive in the territory in December and January.

More rumours of imminent prisoner swap deal

Seems to be some movement going on regarding the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Israeli prisoner of war Gilad Shalit. Twitter users will have noticed yesterday that Shilat was trending quite high as a result of a pro-Israel campaign highlighting his third year in captivity at the hands of 'Hamas terrorists'. No mention from these people about the thousands of innocent Palestinians being held illegally held in Israel's dungeons. If you want to provide a bit of balance to the tweets go here and reply to some of the posts demand the release of all Palestinian prisoners.
GAZA, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) New international efforts are exerted to push forward the stalled prisoner exchange talks between Hamas and Israel, sources said on Wednesday.

The United States, Germany and Egypt took part in bridging the gaps between Islamic Hamas movement and Israel to swap a number of Palestinian prisoners for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier Hamas has been holding captive for more than three years, the sources told Xinhua.

According to the sources, the mediators drafted a compromise plan that Israel releases more prisoners and lift the blockade on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in exchange for Hamas' acceptance of expelling some of the prisoners outside the Palestinian territories.

Hamas and Israel have agreed in principle on the proposal, the sources said.


Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Israeli terror machine kills five Palestinians

The Israelis have been going about the business they know best - killing Palestinians. Four people have died following an air strike on the Rafah tunnels and there has been an exchange of fire with IDF troops following their fatal attack on a Palestinian farmer. Working on the land now seems to be seen by the Israelis as contributing to the 'infrastructure of terror'. Israel says the farmers they attacked 'were acting suspiciously'. Unfortunately the Israeli soldier injured in the exchange of fire was only 'slightly' injured by resistance fighters.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Protest Israeli PM Netanyahu meeting Gordon Brown


Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to meet British prime minister
Gordon Brown tomorrow in Downing Street.

PROTEST 1.30-3pm TOMORROW, Tuesday 25 August opposite Downing Street (nearest
tube Westminster)

Please come to send a clear message to Gordon Brown:
# Israeli settlements block peace – they must be dismantled, not just frozen
# End Israel's siege on Gaza
# End Israel's ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem

If you are unable to come to the protest, write to Gordon Brown to insist that
real peace means delivering justice for the Palestinians. The British
government must act to ensure Israel ends its numerous violations of
international law.

# Fax a letter to 10 Downing Street : 020 7925 0918.
# Email David Miliband at the Foreign Office reaquesting his office convey your
message to the Prime Minister:

Clashes in northern Gaza with IDF

Ma'an agency reports clashes between Popular Resistance Committees resistance fighters and Israeli forces in northern Gaza - no casulaties. The PA aligned news agency also claims that a three-month truce is being proposed by one senior Fatah leader with its Hamas adversaries
The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) said that their fighters engaged in a 15-minute skirmish with Israeli troops in the northern Gaza Strip early on Monday morning.

Gaza's youth look to martial arts for strength to fight Israel

The appalling psychological damage done to young people in Gaza by Israel's war and on-going oppression has long been documented. Now there is new evidence in the shape of the rising uptake in martial arts classes as Gaza's youth increasingly look to ways of defending themselves and their families from the violence and indiscriminate terror of the 'most moral army in the world' - the misnamed Israel Defence Force:
A spokesman for Gaza’s kung fu and karate union says attendance at the classes has doubled since the Israeli offensive

SALIH AL-MASRI, a skinny nine-year-old in a red martial arts uniform, grits his teeth as he stands barefoot on shards of broken glass and recalls his family’s plight during the war in Gaza.“This sport makes me strong so I can defend myself, my family and my country from the Jews,” he says. “We ran away from our home during the war because we were afraid of the shelling,” he adds. “But after we returned I started coming here every day to train. Now I’m strong, and I’m not afraid of anyone.” Haunted by what they saw during the massive Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip at the turn of the year, growing numbers of children are flocking to martial arts classes across the devastated Palestinian coastal territory.

more at Pakistan's English language Daily Times

UN's OCHA report documents life in the Gaza hell hole

Download latest report from OCHA here
GAZA CITY, 23 August 2009 (IRIN) - A new UN report describes the devastating humanitarian impact of two years of Israel’s “unprecedented blockade on all border crossings in and out of the Gaza Strip”.

Released in August by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Jerusalem, the report details the rapid deterioration of livelihoods, food security, education, health, shelter, energy and water and sanitation inside Gaza.

“The blockade has ‘locked in’ 1.5 million people in what is one of the most densely populated areas on earth, triggering a protracted human dignity crisis with negative humanitarian consequences,” said the report.

Following the Hamas takeover of Gaza in June 2007, Israel closed all Gaza’s border crossings, and imposed import and export restrictions and a travel ban to and from Gaza.

Israel’s 23-day military offensive in Gaza, which ended on 18 January 2009, as well as internal conflicts between Fatah and Hamas, have compounded the suffering of the population, said the report.

more at IRIN

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

UK trade unions strengthen boycott Israel movement

A useful roundup of the boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) motions and positions passed by British trade unions at recent union conferences can be found at Electronic Intifada.

The civil servants union the PCS, the University and Colleges Union and Fire Brigades Union have all passed strong motions.

Unions such as public sector union UNISON, the National Union of Teachers, USDAW and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have this summer passed softer motions calling for elements of BDS. These are usually calls for a boycott of settlement goods, or for the government to suspend arms sales to Israel. The CWU and others have condemned the infamous 13 January 2008 statement of the Israeli trade union federation in support of Israel's invasion of Gaza, which read: "The Histadrut recognizes the urgent need for the State of Israel to operate against the command and control centers of the organizational terror network ..."


Salafist groups vow to resist Gaza clampdown

Following the decimation of the so called warriors of God by Hamas forces last week, the remaining independent Islamist armed groups have vowed to resist attempts to disarm and disband them.
GAZA CITY — A number of radical Islamist groups vowed on Tuesday to defy with force any attempt by the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip to rein them in following last week's deadly clashes.

"The operation against our members by the Hamas government will not affect any of our operations on the ground," Ansar Al-Sunna, which unites a number of radical Islamic movements in the Gaza Strip, said in a statement.

"Our members will not surrender... We ordered our fighters to defend with force against any arrest attempt," the statement said.


47 prisoners die due to medical neglect in Israeli prisons

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Palestinian prisoners' Society (PPS) has said that 1,500 Palestinian sick captives are threatened with death in Israeli jails due to the deliberate medical neglect.

The PPS, in a report on Tuesday, said that 47 prisoners died in the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) jails due to such intentional medical neglect while 70 were tortured to death in IOA dungeons and 73 were executed in cold blood.

The report noted that IOA jails are void of specialized medical teams and some of them do not have a doctor at all or at best a doctor would be present for only two hours.

The Society charged that medical neglect has turned into one of the weapons used by the IOA against those prisoners.

The PPS appealed to all human rights groups to expose the IOA violations against those prisoners and to shed light on their suffering.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian ministry of prisoners in the Gaza Strip said that the IOA released two Palestinians from its jails after nine years in captivity under the so-called detention of "unlawful combatants."

It noted that seven other Palestinians from the Strip are still held under the same pretext in IOA prisons, describing the pretext as an attempt to circumvent the international law.

The ministry explained that those Palestinians are essentially civilians and should be protected by the fourth Geneva Convention, while this pretext was exploited by the IOA to hold those citizens for unlimited periods and without any commitment to indict them.

In the West Bank, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at dawn Wednesday rounded up 12 Palestinians in the districts of Ramallah, Qalqilia and Tulkarem for questioning, local sources reported.

The IOF soldiers on Tuesday launched a large-scale search campaign in Al-Khalil district that ended with kidnapping 11 citizens after claiming that a resistance cell was dismantled in the process.

Israel steals more land and launches incursion into eastern Gaza

Israel has seized more Palestinian land (115 dunums), this time n Ya'bad village near Jenin on the same day that its armed forces made an incursion into eastern Gaza, firing indiscriminately. No casualties have been reported

Miliband says some 'terrorism' is justified as UK implicated in death of Gaza civilians

UK arms manufacturers implicated in Israel state terror in Gaza, says parliamentary committee reports. The news follows the admission by the UK's foreign secretary that some 'terrorism' is justified which is why he picked Joe Slovo as one of his heroes in a recent BBC radio show. David Miliband said: 'There are circumstances in which terrorism can be justified.' Miliband is of course absolutely correct that the destruction of Apartheid South Africa - which framed the context for his remarks - was justified by any means necessary. Why should the same not apply in the Middle East, and the liberation of Palestine in particular Mr Miliband? Joe Slovo was a friend of David's father Ralph Miliband who was one of Britain's foremost Marxist intellectuals. Shame his sons never absorbed the meaning of his most famous work which debunked the idea of being able to achieve socilaism through a parliamentary system in a fundamentally undemocratic state.
Israeli weapons used against Palestinian civilians in Gaza contained components made in the UK, as did equipment used by the Sri Lankan army against the Tamil Tigers, according to the Committee on Arms Export Controls.

In its report 'Scrutiny of Arms Export Controls (2009)', the committee – which is made up from members of Business, Defence, Foreign Affairs, and International Development committees – quoted cases where uncontrolled UK-made parts and components for military and security equipment were believed to have been used in various regions of instability, including Land Rover vehicles used by Azeri military and UK traders allegedly involved in the transfer of electronic components for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq.

The committee called on the government to tighten up controls on the export of military equipment, even to countries that may not be at war at the time but are known to be unstable and prone to future conflicts. The committee also called for a register of UK arms brokers to be created.

Red Crescent sending convoy to Gaza, UN launches Ramadan appeal

The Red Crescent Society in Emirates announced on Monday that is planning to send an aid convoy to the Gaza Strip in the coming few days.

It stated that the convoy would be heading to Jordan and would continue driving towards Egypt in an attempt to enter the Gaza Strip via the Rafah Border Terminal.

The official Emirate News Agency (WAM) reported Monday that 30 trucks filled with 500 tons of essential materials and foodstuffs would be heading to Gaza. The materials were purchased in Egypt.

more at IMEMC

Also,the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has launched an appeal for humanitarian funds in a Ramadan Campaign aimed at raising US$181m.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Palestinian group Jerusalem Army claims capture of Israeli soldier

[update Israeli Army says claims are false more]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- A Palestinian group calling itself "The Jerusalem Army" has announced that it has captured an Israeli occupation soldier near the Ben Gurion airport on Thursday evening.

A statement by the group said: "Our Mujahideen captured a Zionist soldier near the Ben Gurion airport on Thursday evening, our Mujahideen withdrew safely with the captive. We in the "Jerusalem Army" will announce the details of the captured soldier at a later time."

Zionist media sources said that the Israeli occupation police erected a number of roadblocks in and around Tel-Aviv because of the suspected "kidnapping" of an Israeli soldier.

The Israeli military allowed the media to publish reports saying that the Israeli police were investigating a call by an Israeli female soldier that she saw two men pushing an Israeli soldier inside their car near a military base close to the Ben Gurion airport.

Egyptian official in Gaza for renewed national dialogue talks on 25 August

The Hamas delegation summoned to Cairo last week for 'urgent' talks has returned to Gaza with an Egyptian official. The official is reported to be preparing for 'a second round' of national dialogue talks aimed at healing the Fatah-Hamas rift. There were hopes that the meetings in Egypt had been part of a prisoner swap deal.

Hamas walked out of talks after Fatah refused to release Hamas prisoners in Palestinian Authority prisons. The delegation included Hamas leaders Mahmoud Az-Zahar, Yousif Kahled Az-Zahar, Sharif Mohammad Farawneh, Khalid Abu Sedu, Mohammad Khalid Az-Zahar, Mahmoud Kahlid Az-Zahar and Issam Rabah Salem.

more at Ma'an News Agency

Fatah opposition in moves to create new organisation

LONDON, (PIC)-- The London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper has revealed Thursday that a big group of prominent Fatah leaders and former members of the faction’s central committee were holding serious talks to bolt their mother faction and form a new faction.

The paper mentioned names of a number of the movement famous leaders like Abu Shaker Al-Natshe, Nasr Yousef, and Mohammed Jihad among others, adding that the group was contacting many Fatah leaders in the Gaza Strip and abroad to form the new faction, which they agreed to initially name as “Fatah - The Awakening”.

Many veteran Fatah leaders, including Ahmed Qurei, Farouq Qaddoumi, and Ahmad Nasr asserted that the election process in the sixth conference was dubious, adding that votes of the electorate were forged to serve the agenda of certain groups within the Movement known for their coordination with the Israeli occupation.

“There was a snowballing state of anger within the Movement over the cheating that occurred during the voting and canvassing process, and for sure, there was something arranged in the dark that brought certain names to the central committee”, asserted Qurei.


UN high commissioner Pillay slams Israel's violations of international law and human rights

Unfortunately, unlike the Security Council the findings of the UN's Human Rights Council aren't binding, not that Israel would take any notice if they were. Nevertheless it all adds to the pressure on Israel and blunts its attempts to rebut with its tired refrain about UN bias and one-sidedness.
GENEVA, Aug 14 (Reuters) - There is significant evidence that Israeli forces violated international law and human rights in their invasion of Gaza between late December and mid-January, the United Nations human rights chief said on Friday.

A report by U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay lambasted the "nearly total impunity" for the violations.

The already critical human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) deteriorated further during the war, she said in the report, the first of a series of periodic reports ordered by the U.N. Human Rights Council in January during Israel's "Operation Cast Lead".

The 34-page report is one of two -- together with a forthcoming one by South African jurist Richard Goldstone who has been conducting hearings in Gaza -- that will be presented to the council next month.

"...significant prima facie evidence indicates that serious violations of international humanitarian law as well as gross human rights violations occurred during the military operations of 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009, which were compounded by the blockade that the population of Gaza endured in the months prior to Operation Cast Lead and which continues," Pillay said.


Hamas in armed confrontation at mosque with 'al-Qaeda' followers

[update 15 August 13:05 BST - Latif Musa commits suicide, at least 20 dead]

[update 20:27 BST - Salafi leader Abdul Latif Musa's home has been blown up]

The BBC World Service is reporting heavy fighting at a mosque controlled by a salafist group - the warriors of God (they tried to attack a border crossing a few weeks ago). Recent mortar fire from armed groups beyond Hamas's ranks led to an Israeli air strike on Rafah tunnels for the first time in two months. Hamas, which has declared a monopoly on the right to bear arms, is clamping down hard on Islamist groups beyond its ranks, although not Islamic Jihad as yet. The Iman at the mosque currently under siege, declared Gaza an Islamic emirate, decrying Hamas as 'soft'. According to ynetnews six dead so far including a 'senior Hamas leader'.
Gaza clash: Hamas forces clashed with supporters of a radical cleric in the Gaza Strip following a provocative anti-Hamas sermon delivered Friday.

At least six people were killed in the shootout, including senior Hamas man Jibril al-Shimali, Palestinian sources said. Another 50 people were hurt in the gunfight.

The Gaza Strip is an Islamic emirate, local Salafi leader Abdul Latif Musa told worshippers during a prayer session earlier, slamming Hamas' conduct in Gaza and pledging his supporters' allegiance to al-Qaeda.

"We belong to al-Qaeda and our leader is Osama Bin Laden," said Musa, considered the leader of Gaza's Salafi branch.

The gunfight took place near a Rafah mosque and both sides were making use of mortar fire during the battle. Musa's followers later left the mosque and took positions around it.


Thursday, 13 August 2009

Joint international solidarity effort initiates huge relief convoy to break Gaza siege

Viva Palestina is at the centre of attempts to co-ordinate activities among the various organisation involved in international attempts to break the siege. A huge international effort will now be taking place in December.

Viva Palestina goes international
– D-day 5 December!

The Viva Palestina US convoy achieved a remarkable success, but in the teeth of significant obstacles.

Two hundred people, almost all US citizens, passed through the Rafah crossing into Gaza on 15 July carrying with them a quarter of a million dollars worth of medical aid and supplies. The delegation reflected the great diversity of US society. There were Muslim-, Arab-, African-, Jewish-, Latino-, and Native-Americans as well as Christian ministers.

It was the largest such mission in terms of people and aid ever to leave the US for Palestine. We were delighted that it could be joined by Cynthia McKinney, the former US Congresswoman and Presidential candidate, who arrived hot-foot after her detention on the high seas by Israeli forces and was able to enter Gaza for the first time, having joined George Galloway and the Viva Palestina convoy. Along with New York Councilman Charles Barron, her participation signalled a reforging of the alliance between Black American figures and Palestine that were a hallmark of the solidarity movement 30 years ago.

The convoy did face great bureaucratic obstacles, however. They resulted in an original three day stay in Gaza being lopped to just 24 hours and in 47 new vehicles dedicated for medical use being prevented from crossing from Egypt to Gaza. They remain safely in the customs free zone in the port of Alexandria.

As with the British convoy in February and March, there is a great desire in the US to repeat the experience. This we must do. But we need to calibrate our response to take account of both logistical issues and the difficulties faced by the latest Viva Palestina convoy and other missions which have attempted to cross into Gaza.

Pooling all our efforts

Viva Palestina representatives have had a series of extremely productive discussions with similar campaigns and initiatives – ranging from the Free Gaza movement to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in Britain – over the last two weeks. We all agreed to even greater coordination of our efforts.

In addition, the Viva Palestina Venezuela convoy is picking up steam and will be taking place later this year.

Bigger, better, and more effective in December

All of this means we have the chance to organise a huge convoy, far more significant than either the British or the US ones. Given the various attempts to restrict aid to Gaza by sea and land, nothing less than a very significant increase in the size and impact of the next convoy will do.

That means an even bigger build up to a single mission in December. The reasons, emerging from discussions between the British and American convoy coordinators and others, are clear:

*December 27 marks the anniversary of the beginning of the Israeli assault on Gaza. Aiming to enter Gaza then will be part of focusing the world’s attention on the massacres. It is also when people in Gaza have said they wish to have maximum support.
*The second US convoy needs to be in December. It will be greatly strengthened by combining with the effort from Ireland the Britain. One mega convoy will have more impact than two smaller ones.

*A joint mission heading from London, with Americans flying in to take part, will form the core of a convoy heading through Europe, into the Balkans, northern Greece, Turkey, Syria, Jordan and into Egypt – picking up support along the way. Discussions are well advanced on organising major events – rallies, cultural and sporting – at strategic points on the way. This will be critical in both building momentum to cross the border and in raising the humanitarian crisis in Gaza along the way.

*We appreciate that for some it is easier to get time off work in October than December. But for many more, it is the other way around. In particular, on both sides of the Atlantic there are large numbers of young people and students who simply cannot go in October, but who can in December. Additionally, there will be mustering points along the route so those who can’t make the whole journey can join there.

*We want to get more high profile individuals to take part. This requires the extra time afforded by going in December. There are exciting initiatives to involve sporting and cultural figures. The will take some patience and time to make work.

*Everybody’s efforts in building both the British and US convoys were remarkable. With extra time in October and November, we believe we can far outdo what we’ve done before. We will have extra time to build up the regional structures and organisation of the convoy to make the mission both smoother and more effective.

*The two months of October and November should be used to reach out far further to potential support than we have already.

All this means that we are reorganising the next Viva Palestina convoy to be an international mission – spearheaded by people from Britain and America, leaving from London on the weekend of 5 and 6 December, aiming to be in Gaza on 27 December. Don't worry about the date moving again - we're setting the date in stone so we can all start planning and organising now.

Viva Palestina

Human Rights Watch says Israel killed civilians holding white flags

(pictured - one of the four injured children)

Human Rights Watch releases report today on the murder of Palestinians holding white flags during the recent war. Israel, despite requests, has so far refused to comment on its soldiers' refusal to obey the rules of war.
This report documents seven incidents where Israeli soldiers fired on civilians with small arms during Israel’s major military operations in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009. These attacks killed 11 civilians — including five women and four children — and wounded at least another eight.

These casualties comprise a small fraction of the Palestinian civilians killed and wounded during what Israel called Operation Cast Lead, but they stand out because of the circumstances of the attacks. In each case, the victims were standing, walking, or in a slowly moving vehicle with other unarmed civilians who were trying to convey their non-combatant status by waving a white flag. All available evidence indicates that Israeli forces had control of the areas in question, no fighting was taking place there at the time, and Palestinian fighters were not hiding among the civilians who were shot. Whether waving a white flag or not, these people were civilians not taking an active part in hostilities, and therefore should not have been attacked, according to international humanitarian law (the laws of war).


The full report can be downloaded here

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Sarkozy curtails religious freedom and women's rights in attack on Islamic dress

In the light of the recent concern expressed in the western media and elsewhere about the Hamas 'virtue' campaign in Gaza which has apparently been marked by attempts to impose a particular view of what is considered 'Islamic dress' , the actions of the French authorities provides a useful counterpoint. Perversely in the name of gender equality Sarkozy and his judges have deemed it 'against the republic' and un-French to wear the Islamic version of the bikini. So much for Muslim women's rights.
A Paris swimming pool has refused entry to a young Muslim woman wearing a burqini, a swimsuit that covers most of the body.

The pool ban came as French lawmakers conduct hearings on whether to ban the burqa after President Nicolas Sarkozy said the head-to-toe veil was "not welcome" in secular France.

Officials in the Paris suburb of Emerainville said they let the woman swim in the pool in July wearing the burqini, designed for Muslim women who want to swim without revealing their bodies.


Ahava at the heart of West Bank occupation exploitation

Video report by TheRealNews on Israeli cosmetics firm Ahava and the boycott campaign against them.

After the Israeli attack on Gaza earlier this year, the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Campaign (BDS Movement) escalated all around the world. Now, activists are targeting AHAVA, an Israeli cosmetics company founded by and based in an Israeli settlement in the Occupied West Bank. The AHAVA company, as many others in Israel that are based in the Palestinian Territories or profit from their occupation are owned by the powerful Israel family - the Livnat family. The Real News investigates how the family's dynasty is invested in the economy of the occupation.

J-BIG (Jews for Boycoting Israeli Goods) recently picketed the Ahava outlet in London's fashionable Covent Garden

Egypt's post office workers, tax collectors and textile workers strike for justice

Start of a huge struggle in Egypt

by Mustafa Bassiouny, Cairo

A battle over pay and working conditions in the post office marks a new phase of the Egyptian workers’ movement.

Since the beginning of May, thousands of postal workers have joined picket lines across the country, signalling the start of a hugely significant struggle.

The post office employs more than 50,000 workers across Egypt, many on monthly wages as low as £30.

The trigger for the recent strikes was a new appraisal system imposed in February, which allows managers to sack workers if they receive poor performance reports over two years.

Meanwhile, other groups of workers are also continuing to organise strikes and demonstrations.

The last week of May alone saw strikes at the Nile Cotton Ginning factories, a

1,000-strong strike by workers at Tanta Flax and Oil Company, a sit-in by steel workers in Tebbeen, in the south of Cairo, and threats of a strike by workers in the antiquities sites in Nubia.

The Egyptian tax collectors’ union is calling for international solidarity after state repression of its activists.

The tax collectors have formed the first independent trade union in Egypt since 1957.

“The crackdown of the state came swift, with administrative penal measures, witchhunt, physical attacks, and threats of arrest,” they wrote to Socialist Worker.

The government has also reneged on a promise to pay the social welfare fund. The tax collectors have called a one day protest strike.

Rush messages of solidarity to

Israel's South African mercenaries face prosecution at home

The military alliance established with Israel by apartheid-era South Africa lives on it would seem.
(Bloomberg) -- South African prosecutors are considering a request to bring charges against South Africans who took part in Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip earlier this year, the South African Press Association said.

The country’s National Prosecuting Authority is studying an affidavit seeking an investigation into about 70 South Africans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza hostilities, SAPA said, citing Mthunzi Mhaga, a spokesman for the authority.

Former Malaysian premier launches ship aid for Gaza

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 12 (Bernama) -- Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Wednesday launched the Gaza Fund to raise money to purchase a cargo boat to transport aid to Gaza.

He said there was urgency in raising funds for the purchase of the vessel because with winter approaching, the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza would worsen.

He also welcomed Malaysians to volunteer and join the effort since they needed as much participation as possible.

"Of course, there is limitation in terms of the capacity on board.

"But we want to carry building materials as we need to rebuild the houses, because they (Palestinians) are now living in tents and when winter comes, it will be terrible for the old, sick and children. Many of them may die because of the winter," he told reporters at the Perdana Leadership Foundation, here.

Also present were his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, chairman of the Free Gaza Movement Huwaida Arraf and trustee of Yayasan Salam Datuk Ahmad A. Talib.

Mahathir also announced that the prime minister's wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, who is the patron of the Palestinian Humanitarian Fund, donated RM1.5 million to the Gaza Fund.

It also received another RM100,000 from individuals and companies after the launching.

"I think we need about RM3.5 milion to buy the boat. Beyond that, of course we need to buy supplies, construction materials and other things so that they can rebuild their city," he said.

Fatah's Gaza delegates resign over election rigging

Abbas's attempt to bend Fatah conference to his will were largely successful but the undercurrent of opposition shows no signs of weakening. The long delayed vote on the Fatah parliament is finally set to begin today.
GAZA, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- Fatah leaders in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip announced their resignation Wednesday, protesting the internal election results of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's party.

Ahmed Nasser, a member of the higher committee of Fatah in Gaza, said he and his 10 colleagues have resigned because the internal elections which brought a new central committee for the movement were "unclear."

"Our votes have gone to other people and some candidates were elected twice," Nasser, who did not get elected, told Xinhua, referring to manipulation.

The elections of the highest decision-making body in Fatah took place Tuesday during Fatah's general convention which began last week in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

Hamas security forces, which control Gaza, prevented some 400 Fatah members of the convention from traveling to Bethlehem. Nasser said Fatah's decision to go ahead with the conference despite the absence of the Gaza-based members affected the Gaza members' right of voting.

Only two new candidates from Gaza were elected to the 18-member central committee. "There are some people who controlled the movement and abducted it," Nasser said, refusing to reveal the names of the Fatah officials he accused.

Some of the Fatah delegates in Gaza were able to vote over the phone or via Email.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Barghouthi elected to Fatah central committee

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (Reuters) - The Palestinian political party Fatah rejuvenated its leadership at its first congress in 20 years, ousting many of the "old guard" dominant under the late Yasser Arafat, initial results showed on Tuesday.

But electing younger men to the Central Committee, including Marwan Barghouthi who is serving life in an Israeli jail and several security chiefs, will not bring instant change in the ability of Fatah's leader President Mahmoud Abbas to make peace with Israel -- or with Fatah's Islamist nemesis, Hamas.

"This is an unexpected result. It's a big change, a huge change," said Naser al-Kidwa, a nephew of Abbas's charismatic predecessor Arafat who also won a Central Committee seat.


Israelis to sue EU for providing aid to 'terrorists'

Laughably, European Israelis are demanding that the European Union stops 'funding terrorism' by giving aid to Gaza. This is the same mentality that sees the banning of book imports to Gaza and children's toys because they too can assist in the maintenance of the 'terrorist infrastructure'. But it's OK to bomb the population of Gaza back to the stone age and refuse to let any cement or steel in and provide the bare minimum of food to stop starvation getting out of control.
Israeli and Belgian lawyers acting for Eyal Katorza, who is also a French citizen, are preparing a legal case demanding that the EU does more to protect the 300,000 Europeans living in Israel.

Legal documents, seen by The Daily Telegraph, have accused the EU of indirectly funding Palestinian terrorism because of a failure to "prevent the misuse of European funds by non-profit organisations which use these funds to finance terrorism".


Israeli bombs Rafah tunnels

Israel is pressuring Hamas to stop mortar fire from the Strip with its first air strike on the tunnels in two months. Hamas's military wing, the al-Qassam brigades and the other main armed reistance group , Islamic Jihad, have observed a ceasefire since the war although fire has continued sporadically from other factions.

The military action came as Netanyahu spoke to settlers who had been forced out of Gaza - and no doubt the sound of explosions in Gaza will have made his job easier.

Alongside the air strike - from which there have been no direct casualties, although 11 people have been killed in tunnel collapses over the past two weeks - Israel is stepping up its propaganda campaign against the Hamas government with the 'news' that fighters against the occupation of Iraq are heading to Gaza.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Abbas hijacks Fatah conference

ALGIERS, (PIC)-- Farouk Al-Qaddoumi, the secretary-general of Fatah's central committee, said Wednesday that the sixth conference held in Bethlehem turned Fatah from a resistance movement into a submissive political party.

In a press statement to the Algerian Echorouk newspaper, Qaddoumi warned that this conference cast doubts over the Palestinian people's rights especially the right of return, saying that he had already warned of holding the conference in the occupied Palestinian lands.

He also highlighted that the movement of Fatah outside Palestine would not recognize any decisions issued by the conference which was held in Palestinian lands under the Israeli occupation.

As for Mahmoud Abbas's intent to close his office in Tunisia, Qaddoumi affirmed that no one could close Fatah leadership's office in Tunisia because it was elected by the national council and gained the support of all Palestinian resistance factions.

Meanwhile, strong arguments and polarization flared up between Fatah leaders on the second day of the conference of Bethlehem on Wednesday.

Informed sources attending the conference reported that members of Fatah conference raged at Tayeb Abdelrahim, a member of Fatah's central committee and Abbas's aide, and forced him to leave the platform after he defiantly declared that there was no report issued by the central committee and thus Abbas's speech at the opening session could be considered an alternative report.

Abbas, who was called in to silence the conference members, threatened the attendees with expulsion if they did not show discipline and ordered his bodyguards to force out senior Fatah official Hossam Khader after his attempt to speak and interrupt Abbas.

The first session of the conference on Tuesday also witnessed verbal argument between some Fatah leaders during which Abbas's bodyguards physically assaulted former PA intelligence director Tawfiq Al-Tirawi.

Abbas's bodyguards attacked Tirawi as he was trying to help members of the conference who came from Lebanon to enter the conference room after they faced problems in getting access cards. 

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Abbas leadership accused of embezzeling millions

TUNIS, (PIC)-- The veteran Fatah leader Farouk Al-Qaddomi has sharply criticized Abbas and his associates and their children on Tuesday, and accused them of enriching themselves, and of collecting millions of dollars at the back and in the name of the Palestinian people.

"Have you ever read in history about "rich" revolutionary leaders and their sons possessing millions of US dollars and British Pounds?", Qaddomi said in a statement he issued from his headquarters in Tunisia, and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC.

"When brother Yasser Arafat died, resistance waned and the Palestinian Authority claimed that the second Palestinian intifada brought disorder and destruction to the West Bank and spoiled the atmosphere for peace negotiations," he said pointing out that the PA fought all forms of resistance in the West Bank, relied on negotiations and reinforced its coordination and cooperation with the Zionist occupation security authorities.

He expressed astonishment that while the PA leadership in Ramallah criminalized resistance against occupation they have installed American general Keith Dayton ruler of the West. He condemned the role played by Dayton in training young Palestinian men to pursue Palestinian resistance activists and confiscate their weapons in the name of security.

He described the situation in the West Bank as difficult saying that the number of roadblocks has increased to reach 669 causing a severe recession of the economy and raising unemployment to 87%.

He also pointed out that Jewish settlement in the West Bank and Jerusalem has increased, increasing with it the areas of land confiscated from Palestinian people.

He stressed that PA leaders in Ramallah were embroiled in financial corruption at the expense of the Palestinian people and mockingly said that a "cockroach in Fatah" embezzled more than a hundred million dollars and questioned: "have you ever heard of leader of a revolution, who negotiates with the occupier of his country and roams the world freely aboard his private jet, protected by his special guards [..] have you ever heard of officials who collect taxes and customs into their personal accounts. Have you ever heard of a revolution that threatens to cut off salaries of its activists unless they disobey other leaders or they spy on them?"

He added that thousands of experienced cadres were discharged and forced into retirement to be replaced by young inexperienced men.

He also mocked the sixth congress of Fatah asking: "Don't PA leaders feel that the march of Jewish settlements and Jewish settlers is getting close to their conference which is being held in the lap of occupation?"

Another 13 Jersualemites issued with demolition orders

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) has distributed demolition orders to 13 Jerusalemite families in five suburbs in occupied Jerusalem on Wednesday, Palestinian sources in the city reported.

They said that the IOA-controlled municipality of the holy city claimed in the notifications that the 13 houses were built without permits.

The sources pointed out that the campaign did not stop and that each day more homes are informed of similar destruction notices.

Issam Juwaihan, member of the Jerusalemite committee of the international Quds institution, told Quds Press news agency that the campaign covered all suburbs in the occupied city with special concentration on Aisawiye, Sha'fat and Beit Safafa.

He said that the IOA was totally indifferent about local and international calls to stop its racial cleansing policy in the city against the Palestinian inhabitants.

Threats to the citizens' and their property and holy shrines are very serious, which necessitate a real Arab, Islamic, and international intervention to curb such growing practices, Juwaihan concluded.

Meanwhile, in Salfit, citizens reported that armed Jewish settlers, escorted by army troops, were every now and then touring a tourist attraction west of Salfit apparently in preparation for expropriating it.

They noted that IOA bulldozers had leveled the land near the site and built factories, expecting that more such bulldozing would take place.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

US protests Jerusalem evictions as Israeli settler state carries on stealing land

The US keeps complaining and the settler state keeps evicting as it steps up its campaign of ethnic cleansing in Jersusalem. I never knew US power was so ineffectual - or is it all just a show on the part of Obama and Clinton to sweeten the rotten smell of their imperialism in the region? You know the answer.
The US State Department once again expressed its disapproval Tuesday night over Israel's eviction of two Palestinian families from their homes in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

The American officials made a phone call to Israel's Ambassador to Washington Michael Oren and protested the move. Foreign Ministry officials in Jerusalem stressed Wednesday that the call was not a reprimand.

On Monday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the eviction "deeply regrettable" and "provocative."

"I have said before that the eviction of families and demolition of homes in east Jerusalem is not in keeping with Israeli obligations," she told reporters. "And I urge the government of Israel and municipal officials to refrain from such provocative actions."

more at jpost

Former al-Aqsa Martyrs commander denied access to Fatah conference

A former leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade has been prevented from attending the 2,000-strong Fatah conference by the leadership around Abbas. Meanwhile Hamas has accused the Palestinian Authority of torturing to death one of its leaders in a Jordanian hospital.
The Fatah conference was expected Wednesday to try and find a solution for former al-Aqsa Brigades Commander Zakaria Zubeidi, who discovered Tuesday that he was not considered a delegate at the congress. The decision to remove Zubeidi from the list of delegates angered many al-Aqsa activists.

more at ynetnews

Israel fears third intifada

Israel's security establishment seems to be misreading the runes at the Fatah conference. They think a third Intifada is looming because Fatah will stick to its commitment to liberate all of historic Palestine. Unfortunately the resolutions and words coming out of the conference are just that. But what is true is that Fatah leaders are under enormous pressure from the rank and file to change their policies of collaboration with the IDF in trying to isolate and destroy Hamas. However, Fatah's defence of the idea, if not the fact, of armed resistance is to be welcomed.
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Decisions made at the Fatah conference in Bethlehem could result in a third Palestinian Intifada (uprising), former Israeli security chief Avi Dichter warned the day before the conference began.

"Fatah's statements are clearing the way to what may eventually be the third Intifada," he was quoted as saying by the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth in a story published late Monday. "Once you say that the fight will go on by all means necessary – anyone in their right mind understands that spells an armed conflict... Such a decision by the congress would send us years back."

Dichter, the former head of Shin Bet, Israel’s spy agency in the occupied territories, specifically expressed concern that the Fatah delegates assembled in Bethlehem would reaffirm the movement’s 1965 charter, which calls for the liberation of all of historic Palestine.

"What I find particularly disturbing is that it's the moderates that plan to have the convention vote on an article titled 'continuing the fight against Israel by all means necessary.' Sixteen years after the Oslo Accords, it's Fatah's way of saying they see an armed conflict as a legitimate way to conduct dialogue with Israel.


Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Irish cyclists in final stage of Gaza fundraising trip

Cycling close to double the distance of the Tour de France, three Irish cyclists are now on the final stretch of their journey from Ireland to Gaza. The students, having just reached Israel-Palestine, arrived in Jerusalem yesterday and will attempt to cross into Gaza over the coming days. Their 6,000 km cycle aims to raise money in support of an emergency appeal to provide for neo-natal care and medical resources for burn victims in Gaza. The initiative came from Eoghan Quinn (21), a type-1 diabetic, after he learned of the restrictions on medical supplies reaching Gaza. More at Free Gaza Movement

Video - George Galloway on Press TV defending the Palestinians

Ofcom has criticised George Galloway for speaking some home truths on Press TV about Israel's war on Gaza - see some of the debate for yourself...

CPS drags its feet on prosecution of riot police for Ian Tomlinson killing

Four months after we all saw the video of the riot policeman assaulting Ian Tomlinson at the anti-G20 demos in London the Independent Police Complaints Commission informs the great British public that it has finished its inquiry but still doesn't know if there will be any prosecutions, leaving the ball marooned in the court of the Crown Prosecution Service.

What are they waiting for? Or is bringing the police to account for their crimes, for a change, too much to ask of the British justice system?

In truth the authorities have shown themselves to be more than happy to clampdown on people exercising their right to peacefully protest on issues such as Israel's barbarity in Gaza to workers occupying their factories to stop closures and job losses.

See report from today's Guardian below:
Prosecutors are considering whether to charge the Metropolitan police officer who attacked Ian Tomlinson at the G20 demonstration moments before the newspaper vendor collapsed and died, the police watchdog said today.

Announcing that it had completed its four-month investigation into Tomlinson's death, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said it had handed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which would now decide whether the officer should be charged.

In a statement, the commission said its investigation had been "one of the largest ever undertaken by the IPCC and it has been the subject of huge public scrutiny". More than 40 IPCC investigators and other members of staff from all five regional offices were involved in the case, it said.

"We have had a remarkable response from the public and I would like to thank those people who have contacted us for all their help," said Deborah Glass, the IPCC commissioner for London.

In a statement, Tomlinson's widow, Julia, said: "It has been a very difficult four months since Ian died and it is a relief to see some progress. The last information that the coroner put out was Dr Cary's view that Ian died from internal bleeding.

"Video footage made it clear to us, and everyone else, that Ian was the victim of an unprovoked assault by a police officer. If there is going to be any justice then it must be left for a jury to decide if the police officer is guilty of killing Ian. I hope the CPS will get the case in front of a jury as soon as possible. We would like to thank everyone who came forward as witnesses."

more at the Guardian

Galloway and Press TV criticised by Ofcom for telling viewers the truth

George Galloway - favourite whipping boy of the western media - has been criticised for being biased against Israel with his broadcasts during Israel's war on Gaza in January.

UK regulator Ofcom said the "overwhelming majority of content of the programmes were from a pro-Palestinian point of view and were highly critical of Israeli policy".

Given the overwhelming pro-Israel bias of most of the rest of the UK media at the time Press TV should be applauded for adding some balance to the mix, not castigated.

As an example of the bias Galloway supposedly displayed on Press TV's The Real Deal comment show Ofcom drew attention to his remarks that Gaza was a "killing zone", an area of "mass murder", and his references to the "ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people from Southern Palestine into Gaza".

Now that all sounds like fair and reasonable comment to me but if you lived in a country that banned a humanitarian appeal for suffering people in Gaza because it was 'political', nothing surprises any more. Press TV is funded by the Iranian government.

More at the Guardian

Rafah tunnel collapse kills man, injures three others

More tunnel deaths in the fight for life in Gaza, as the world's leaders ignore populations suffering. Last week nine people were killed; one so far this week.
GAZA CITY — A Palestinian man was killed on Monday and three others were missing when a smuggling tunnel under the Rafah border linking the Gaza Strip to Egypt collapsed, medical sources said.

At least nine people were killed last week in cave-ins and accidents in the vast network of tunnels between Egypt and Gaza used to smuggle food, goods and, according to Israel, weapons and explosives.

Almost 130 people have died in tunnels over the past three years, according to a recent report by the Palestinian Centre for Democracy and Conflict Resolution (PCDCR).


Abbas attacks Hamas but says resistance still an option

Alongside his attacks on Hamas for 'splitting the nation' Abbas was forced to make noises in the direction of 'armed resistance', as Fatah members and supporters ask what has been gained from Abbas's collaboration with Israel and its western backers.
By Mohammed Assadi

BETHLEHEM, West Bank, Aug 4 (Reuters) - President Mahmoud Abbas opened his Fatah movement's first conference in 20 years on Tuesday, saying Palestinians sought peace with Israel but "resistance" would stay an option.

"Although peace is our choice, we reserve the right to resistance, legitimate under international law," the Western-backed Abbas said in a policy speech, using a term that encompasses armed confrontation as well as non-violent protests.

Officials said a draft of Fatah's new programme called for new forms of resistance such as civil disobedience against Jewish settlement expansion and a West Bank barrier Israel says is for security but which Palestinians see as a land grab.

Crucially, the draft leaves open the option of "armed struggle" if peace talks with Israel fail and does not rule out a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood in the West Bank and Gaza Strip if peace negotiations remain at a stalemate.

A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there would be no immediate comment on the speech.

more at Reuters

Monday, 3 August 2009

Israel admits to using white phosphorus shells in Gaza

It was a bit difficult for Israel to continue with the denial but it is still claiming that they weren't used in civilian areas. Given the overcrowded nature of Gaza this is such a bare-faced lie.
Israel has admitted for the first time to “using munitions containing white phosphorus” during its offensive on the Gaza Strip in December 2008 and January 2009. But the Israeli government denied violating international law, claiming that such weapons were not fired into areas populated by civilians.

The admission came in an Israeli government report published Thursday, which confirmed earlier reports by the United Nations and several international human rights organizations. Those reports said that Israeli troops violated international law during the offensive.

A Human Rights Watch report released in March slammed Israel for firing white phosphorus shells over densely populated areas, including repeated attacks on the UN Relief and Works Agency headquarters in Gaza City.
Israel denied the report, saying its troops respected international law during the Gaza war.

The use of white phosphorus weapons to generate a smokescreen and cover troop movements is legally accepted, but the 1980 Geneva Convention forbids its use in densely populated areas. more at France24

Gaza children forced to swim in sewage

GAZA CITY, 2 August 2009 (IRIN) - Less than 50m from a black, barrel-sized pipe pouring raw sewage directly into the sea, children are playing in the waves.

The pipe runs from one of three main sewage pumping stations in Gaza, with multiple outlets into the sea. The water authority in the Gaza Strip has been unable to import the parts necessary for the maintenance and repairs at water and sewage pumping stations since Israel imposed its two-year long blockade of the territory, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Gaza.

“We know there is sewage in the water, but the borders are closed and we can’t travel,” said Mariam Al-Halu, who brought her two sons to swim. With scorching temperatures and intermittent electricity, many Gazans seek refuge from the heat in the polluted waters, residents say.

According to a July 2009 report (not available online) on the quality of Gaza’s seawater by the World Health Organization (WHO), seawater samples collected monthly from April to June by the public health laboratory in Gaza were polluted with faecal bacteria, specifically coliforms and streptococcus.

more at IRIN

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Fatah congress to go ahead despite splits and refusal to release Hamas prisoners

Fatah's sixth congress is going ahead on the 4 August. No mention in this Reuters report of the massive splits within Fatah. Fatah held its last congress in 1989 which speaks volumes about the level of democracy inside the organisation.
By Mohammed Assadi

RAMALLAH, West Bank, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction said on Saturday it would hold a long-awaited congress despite the absence of delegates from the Gaza Strip, who have been confined to the territory by Hamas.

The three-day parley set to begin on Aug. 4 in the West Bank city of Bethlehem is seen as a chance for secular Fatah, which long dominated Palestinian politics but lost a 2006 ballot to Islamist Hamas, to pursue reform. Re-energising the movement is key to Abbas's credibility as he tries to revive peace talks with Israel. The Palestinian president controls a truncated mandate in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, as Hamas seized Gaza in a 2007 civil war.

Hamas has conditioned the departure of some 400 Fatah members from Gaza for the congress on Abbas's forces freeing hundreds of Hamas activists seized in West Bank round-ups.