Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Israel says it will allow some concrete into Gaza to build hospital

Sarkozy got a thank you from Netanyahu for his hardline stance on Iran when Israel announced that a French company would be allowed into the besieged strip to construct a new hospital. Assuming the Israelis don't go back on their promise, it should herald the first time that any construction materials have been allowed into Gaza since the recent war. Let's hope the Israelis don't destroy it a some point in the future with any more of their war crimes.
For the first time since Operation Cast Lead Israel will allow the transfer of construction materials into the Gaza Strip for the purpose of setting up a new hospital, Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to approve the transfer of materials following his meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy last week.

During the meeting, which was held amidst the UN General Assembly session, Sarkozy asked Netanyahu to allow the Palestinians to build the medical facility after securing proper funding from Qatar.

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Netanyahu to release 20 Palestinian women in return for Shalit video

Israel has said it will release 20 Palestinian women from detention in return for proof that captured soldier Gilad Shalit is still alive.

A statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said it was waiting to receive video taken recently by his militant captors in Gaza.

Israel holds about 10,000 Palestinians, including dozens of women.

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Israel also holds hundreds of children - GS

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

UK lawyers push for arrest of Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak

So it's not just the 'military echelon' in Israel that needs to worry about where its personnel travel in case are arrested. Unfortunately there's not much chance the UK police will actually carry out their responsibilities under the Hague convention but who knows? And why the hell is the British Labour Party inviting this architect of war criminality to speak at its conference this week in the first place?
British lawyers for several Palestinian families are seeking to obtain an international arrest warrant for the Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, in a London court over alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

Barak, who was in overall charge of Israeli's offensive in Gaza earlier this year, is due to speak at a fringe meeting at the Labour party conference in Brighton today.

Barak is due to meet Gordon Brown today and David Miliband, the foreign secretary, tomorrow.

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Monday, 28 September 2009

Israeli violence escalates as warning Al-Aqsa violation could spark third intifada


Israel shelled central Gaza today, injuring two - a teenage brother and sister, according to Ma'an. It follows air attacks on Friday which led to the death of three people. The Al-Aqsa Brigade armed resitance group, affiliated to Fatah, is said to be planning its response, according to the Palestine News Network.

Meanwhile Muhammad Dahlan, a member of Fatah's recently elected central committee, is warning that a third intifada could follow Al-Aqsa violence and recent reports say 17 Israeli police have been injured as Palestinians fightback against the latest Al-Aqsa outrage.
In a statement, Dahlan said he considered "the violation of the sanctity of Al-Aqsa playing with fire and crossing red lines." He said Israeli authorities permitted groups to enter the area to "attack worshipers inside."

Palestinians would not stand idly by, he warned, holding the Israeli government responsible for repercussions of what he called a dangerous attack that was carried out by "extremist groups in East Jerusalem."

Dahlan called on all Palestinian factions to forget their own internal problems and stand as one in the face of the "Judaization" of Jerusalem and the Palestinian cause. He stressed the need to respond to such threats via national unity and an end to factional division.

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The West Bank is under closure at the order of the occupiers so they can celebrate Yom Kippur - to hell with the Muslims/Palestinians is what these peace loving Israelis really mean, which I would hazard is not exactly in the true spirit of Judaism.

Arab league denounces brutal aggression at Al-Aqsa


Israeli police allowed Jewish extremists to enter the grounds of the mosque and then shielded them from attack by Palestinians defending the mosque. After the eviction of the settlers by Muslim worshipers, the occupation forces turned on the crowds.
Arab League Denounces the Israeli Aggression, Seeks to Form an International Investigation Committee

Arab League denounced on Sunday the brutal aggression on Al-Aqsa Mosque by the Israeli settlers, calling on the International Security Council and UN Secretary-General to immediately intervene to stop the dangerous violation committed by the Israeli occupation forces.

A statement by Palestine and the Occupied Arab lands Section at the Arab League stressed that the Israeli security forces facilitated the arrival of many of the Zionist extremists to Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyards, particularly Bab of al-Maghariba.

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The attack on al-Aqsa follows an attack last week on the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron:
Ma’anAt least 140 Israeli settlers, protected by a dozen Israeli jeeps, took over the area around the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, entered the building and performed ceremonies for the Jewish Yom Kippur holiday on Thursday night.

The Mosque, also known as the Tomb of the Patriarchs, was divided into two sections in the 1990s following the attack of a Jewish extremist on Muslim worshipers. The site, sacred to both Muslims and Jews, is heavily guarded by Israeli soldiers who ostensibly protect the Israeli settlers who worship in the Jewish section of the building. The site was closed to Muslim worshipers during the Eid holiday and handed over to Israeli control for the Rosh Hashana Jewish holiday.

Erdogan hits out at western silence on Israel's nukes and Gaza

The Turkish president has condemned Western countries' focus on Iran's nuclear program, stressing that the world should deal with Israel's nuclear weapons instead.

Turkey's "Radikal" newspaper on Sunday reported that Recep Tayyip Erdogan's strong comments against Israel's nuclear program was similar to his "one minute" stance in Davos in January when he walked out of a televised debate with his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres.

Erdogan told reporters in New York that Iran's nuclear program is not aimed at "military ends".

The Turkish president noted that Israel has "nuclear weapons" and has used "phosphorous bombs" against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

"Why these are not on the agenda? It is always Iran…" Erdogan told reporters in New York.

"If only Iran is put on the world agenda, then we may neglect other issues such as the Gaza [conflict] that should be addressed," he said.

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Israel violates al-Aqsa mosque, injures many worshippers, Jerusalem tense


Israel is playing with fire - perhaps emboldened by the west's 'discovery' of an Iranian nuclear facility - with its storming of the al-Aqsa mosque yesterday. Jordan has condemned the open violation of the sanctity of the mosque, the third holiest in Islam, but when is the western-installed monarchy going to break off diplomatic relations with the Zionist state?
AMMAN, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- The Jordanian government on Sunday strongly denounced the breaking into the Muslims sacred shrine al-Aqsa mosque by Israeli soldiers along with a group of Jewish radicals, which resulted in injury of some Palestinians, the Jordan News Agency Petra reported.

"Jordan condemns breaking into the mosque by Israeli troops as this is a provocative act that is likely to increase tensions," Jordan's Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Nabil Sharif said in a statement.

He said breaking into the holy mosque is likely to lead to more violence and threatens the region's stability and security.

He noted that Jordan rejects any attempt by the Israeli troops to violate the sanctity of al-Aqsa mosque and the holy sites in Jerusalem as this sanctity is guaranteed by international resolutions, laws and conventions that protect holy sites from any violation.

Earlier Sunday, clashes erupted between Palestinians in the eastern part of Jerusalem and the Israeli police as a group of Jewish radicals broke into the yard of al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest shrine to Muslims. About 16 Palestinians and several Israeli police were injured in the clashes, according to media reports.

Sharif said breaking into the mosque incited violence at a time when international efforts are intensified to launch Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations.

He underlined Jordan's rejection of all Israeli measures that harm the mosque and the holy city of Jerusalem.

According to the UN Security Council, East Jerusalem is considered an occupied territory.

The Jordanian government also summoned charge d'affaires of the Israeli embassy in Amman Sunday to express its protest and condemnation of breaking into the mosque and urge Israel to stop its provocative activities that threaten peace opportunities, according to Petra.

In response to the incident, Jordan's influential Muslim Brotherhood movement leader Hammam Saeed on Sunday called for annulling the peace treaty Jordan and Israel signed in 1994 and expelling the Israeli ambassador from Amman.

He said in a statement that breaking into the mosque killed hopes for peace and reaching a settlement to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, calling on the Arab countries to take action to deal with the Israeli stark violation of the sanctity of the holy shrine.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Free Mohammad Othman from Israel's prisons



Israeli occupation forces detained Mohammad Othman on the 22nd of September, 2009. Mohammad was detained while trying to return to the West Bank over the border from Jordan. Mohammad has spent the summer touring Europe, and was returning from his latest trip to Norway.

Mohammad is 33 years old, and has dedicated the past ten years of his life to human rights causes, particularily the non-violent struggle against the Apartheid Wall in the West Bank.

Mohammad is from the village of Jayyous in the occupied West Bank, and the village has lost most of its privately owned land due to the Apartheid Wall. The land is now confiscated by Israeli settlements, which are deemed illegal under international law.

Mohammad has an extensive network in the international solidarity movement, and plays an important role as the youth co-ordinator for the non-violent Palestinian Stop the Wall campaign. Mohammad has dedicated his life to tell the world about the war crimes and crimes against humanity that is being conducted by the Israeli Occupation Forces in the West Bank.

ARABIC:


اعتقلت قوات الاحتلال محمد عثمان في الثاني و العشرين من سبتمبر 2009.محمد اعتقل بينما كان يحاول العودة الى الضفة الغربية عبر الحدود مع الأردن. محمد وقد قضى صيف بجولة في أوروبا ، وكان عائدا من رحلته الأخيرة إلى النرويج.

محمد هو 33 سنة ، وكرست السنوات العشر الماضية من حياته لقضايا حقوق الإنسان ، لا سيما في النضال غير العنيف ضد جدار الفصل العنصري في الضفة الغربية.

محمد هو من سكان قرية جيوس في الضفة الغربية المحتلة ، والقرية قد فقدت معظم احتياجاتها من الأراضي المملوكة ملكية خاصة بسبب جدار الفصل العنصري. الأراضي التي صادرتها الآن المستوطنات الإسرائيلية ، والتي تعتبر غير قانونية بموجب القانون الدولي.

محمد ديها شبكة واسعة في حركة التضامن الدولي ، وتلعب دورا هاما حيث شارك الشباب منسق لغير العنيفة الفلسطينية وقف حملة الجدار. محمد كرس حياته لنقول للعالم عن جرائم الحرب والجرائم ضد الانسانية التي تجري من قبل قوات الاحتلال الإسرائيلي في الضفة الغربية.

We call on international solidarity and human rights organizations to act immediately to bring attention to this case and advocate for the release of Mohammad Othman.

-----------------------------
Recommended Actions
-----------------------------

• Encourage others to join this campaign through petitions, demonstrations and / or letter writing / phone calling (contacts below).
Petition available:
http://www.facebook.com/l/21f45;www.petitiononline.com/stopwall/petition.html
• Urge your representatives at consular offices in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem/Ramallah to demand the immediate release of Mohammad Othman. (For your consular contacts, see: http://www.facebook.com/l/21f45;www.embassiesabroad.com/embassies-in/Israel#11725)
• Let the Israeli Embassy in your country know that you are campaigning for Mohammad’s release and for a just and lasting peace based on international law.
• Bring the case of Palestine’s first BDS prisoner of conscience to the attention of local and national media outlets;
• Follow the blog and facebook to free Mohammad Othman to see the latest updates and action alerts.

Blog: http://www.freemohammadnow.blogspot.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=36429272741&ref=ts

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Abbas - no common ground for negotiations with Netanyahu

Bethlehem - Ma’an/Agencies - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the Palestinian paper Al-Hayyat there is “no common ground for negotiations” with the Netanyahu government, in an interview published Thursday.

Abbas expressed his skepticism over the outcome of talks, saying “Netanyahu is declaring Jerusalem and refugees topics not up for negotiations, so what is there to talk about?"

Abbas reconfirmed his stance on requiring a settlement construction freeze before sitting down for peace talks, a stance which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected, while his foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman bragged to the press Wednesday that the trilateral meetings in New York were proof Israel would not let the US pressure them into halting construction.

The closest US Special Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell got to a deal was the Israeli offer to pause construction in the West Bank - not East Jerusalem - for nine months, not including the almost 1,000 settlement units okayed a week before Mitchell’s arrival in the region. In the interview Abbas reiterated that this partial freeze was not acceptable.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Israel tightens its stranglehold on supplies into Gaza

Obama, Netanyahu and Abbas may have enjoyed their meeting in the US but in the Strip the suffering gets worse. Israel's stranglehold on life in Gaza has been tightening. Traffic of goods into Gaza is now at its lowest point since the Cast Lead war crimes. Meanwhile another 37 settlement units have been approved as the US half-heartedly urges 'restraint'.
Gaza – Ma’an – The Kerem Shalom border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip will be the only crossing open for the second day in a row, marking the steepest decline in goods deliveries into the Strip since Israel launched its war on the area in December 2008.

Palestinian crossings official Raed Fattouh said that Israel will allow 55 to 65 trucks loaded with aid through the Kerem Shalom crossing, and that all other border terminals will be shut.

Only 60 truckloads of goods were allowed through on Tuesday, and the crossings were totally shut Thursday through to Monday for the Israeli celebration of the Jewish New Year. On 16 September a delivery of approximately 115 truckloads went through the crossing points, though fuel has only been delivered twice in more than a week.

Thanks to Ma'an news agency

Five Palestinian fishermen arrested as Israel sets out to destroy an industry

Official sources reported that five Palestinian fishermen have been arrested today on Wednesday morning and seized their boats near the coast of Gaza City.

The sources added that the fishing boats have been surrounded by Israeli gunboats, questioned the fishermen, and then took them and their boats to an unknown destination.

It is noteworthy that the Israeli boat set only a distance of 3 miles access for the fishermen to sail and get their livelihood. This very limited area of fishing has been gravely affecting the fishermen to fish good quality of fishing.

One boat which was confiscated, was related to the family of Zaki Abu Oa'dwa. He lives in the north of Gaza, Al Swdania district. Eyewitnesses reported that the boat of Zaki Abu Oa'dwa was in the allowed area of fishing and the Israelis forced him and arrested his boat.

more

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Report damns Israel's suppression of Gaza anti-war protests


Apologists for Israel are fond of describing the settler state as the 'only democracy in the Middle East', but the repression meted out against anti-war protesters during Israel's 22-day war on the Gazan population, should help to put that lie to rest. There's no democracy in Israel if you are an Arab 'citizen'. 'The only apartheid state in the Middle East' would be a more accurate description of Israel.
A new report from Adalah shows how the courts and police attempted to stamp out opposition to Operation Cast Lead. "This is a time of war, and every incident harms the people's morale."

This was not a sentence in a right-wing journal, but rather a statement by an Israel Police representative during Operation Cast Lead seeking to persuade the Tel Aviv District Court to block anti-war protesters from the city...

...Here are some of the pearls in Adalah's new report: "Prohibited protest - how the law enforcement authorities limit the freedom of expression of opponents of the Gaza military attack." The document, being published for the first time here, was written by attorneys Abeer Baker and Rana Asali. They reviewed and analyzed hundreds of rulings and detention requests, interviewed dozens of human rights activists who were arrested and threatened during the Gaza attack, and documented the behavior of Israeli academia during the moments of truth last winter.

The Adalah report was completed a few days before the Goldstone report was released. It harshly criticizes the damage to freedom of expression and the lack of tolerance for protests, primarily by Arab Israelis, against the attack on Gaza's civilian population. The report shows that enforcements officials did not learn from the October 2000 riots, and did not internalize the Or Commission recommendations...

...The Adalah researchers found that detentions during fighting became a goal in and of themselves. The police and the State Prosecutor's office vehemently refused to consider releasing even minors from detention or restrictive conditions...

...At many protest vigils, large numbers of police showed up and dispersed the gathering with force, under the pretense that the gathering was illegal. The testimonies clearly indicate that not all the protests required a police permit.

In some cases, the police conditioned the release of protesters on their not taking part in more protests. Police used harsher threats to disperse legal anti-war protest vigils when there were also right-wing protesters there voicing support for the operation...

...The report accuses intellectuals and academics of standing by during the violence in Gaza and overlooking the collective arrests of peace activists. Only a few lecturers mustered the courage to publicly protest the military operation. Academics who protested the collective arrest of settler teens did not speak out against the suspected IDF war crimes and the collective detainment of protesting minors.

more

Adalah can also be found on Facebook

Israeli racists speak out against 'Arab' Obama



On display in all its inglorious colour are some Israeli racists responding to questions about Obama and the 'peace process' by an Al Jazeera correspondent.
Barack Obama, the US president, is getting ready to host Israeli and Palestinian leaders for a meeting he hopes might get peace talks started again. But Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has made his position clear, saying he will defend settlement expansion, which is the big sticking point. Al Jazeera's Clayton Swisher has been out on the streets of Jerusalem to find out what Israelis think about Obama and his plans.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Nil'in protesters pull down apartheid wall section


March to freedom – Ni’lin village takes down the Wall
Latest News, Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, September 19th, 2009

After the people had concluded their Friday prayer in the fields near the village, more than 100 farmers, youth, international and Israeli peace activists marched towards the Apartheid Wall and their confiscated lands. Participants brought car tires and a big home made ladder to climb the high wall.

Right at the beginning of the protest, the youth had prepared a surprise for the Occupation forces: by using home made equipment one of the youth climbed the concrete wall and tied a chain at the holes in the upper part of the Wall’s cement components. Pulling this rope, the people managed to take down three concrete blocks of the Wall. This is the first time something like this has happened, and the people were happy to have such a success. This was the first message: one day the wall will fall and Ni’lin will be the start.

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International Criminal Court considers war crime charges against IDF officer

Hot on the heels of the Goldstone report, which recommends the ICC take a look at Israel's crimes in Gaza, the court's chief prosecutor has taken up the challenge by considering the case of one IDF officer, Lt Col Benjamin.

Israel has not signed up to the ICC but South Africa, of which Benjamin is also a citizen, has.

Unfortunately, the US is likely to pressure the court not to go ahead with a prosecution given the implications for all the officers and soldiers of the Israeli armed forces. As it is IDF personnel likely won't be taking many foreign holidays as they may be seen as wanted criminals in many jurisdictions.
As chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo has so far steered clear of controversial cases. In doing so, he hoped to allay U.S. fears that the ICC would become a politicized tool for settling scores. Which is why it's so surprising that Moreno-Ocampo is now considering an investigation into whether Reserve Lt. Col. David Benjamin, an officer in the Israeli military, authorized war crimes during the Gaza campaign earlier this year. Israel did not sign the treaty that created the ICC and thus is outside Moreno-Ocampo's jurisdiction, but thanks to a bit of legal sleight of hand, the prosecutor told Newsweek he believes he has all the authority he needs to launch an inquiry: Benjamin holds dual citizenship in both Israel and South Africa, and the latter has signed the ICC's charter, bringing Benjamin into the court's orbit.

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Brzezinski warns US may shoot down Israeli jet fighters heading for Iran nuclear sites

Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former US national security adviser, has suggested that the US might shoot down Israeli fighters crossing 'our' airspace to attack Iranian nuclear sites - he was referring to Iraq's airspace of course. It is difficult to envisage such a scenario given that Israel is the US's watchdog in the Middle East, kept armed to the teeth precisely in order to do this sort of dirty work for the Americans.

This news comes after the announcement of joint Israel/US military exercises in the Mediterranean aimed at countering imagined missile strikes on Israel.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security adviser to U.S. President Jimmy Carter, said on Sunday that U.S. forces should forcibly prevent the Israel Air Force from reaching Iran to strike its nuclear facilities.

In an interview with news Web site the Daily Beast, Brzezinski said that the U.S. forces were "not exactly impotent little babies," saying that Israel forces have "to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch?"

When asked what should the United States do in case Israeli jets fly over Iraq anyway, the former national security advisor said the United States would "have to be serious about denying them that right."

"That means a denial where you aren't just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them," Brzezinski said, adding that Israeli fighters would then "have the choice of turning back or not."

Brzezinski added that "No one wishes for this but it could be a Liberty in reverse," referring to the IDF attack on the U.S.S. Liberty during the Six Day War, which Israel claims was a case of mistaken identity.

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IDF chief Ashkenazi tries to justify Israel's Gaza war crimes as its isolation grows


Israel is whingeing again about UN 'bias' but no one is listening anymore.
The Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, said on Monday that a damning United Nations report on Israel's winter offense against Hamas in Gaza was "biased," and that the IDF was a moral army.

"I read the report, it is biased and unbalanced," Ashkenazi told Army Radio, in his first public response to the report.

Referring to Richard Goldston, the South African prosecutor who wrote the report, the IDF chief said: "From his mandate, he was already unbalanced. He ignored Hamas [rocket] fire. As the one who planned the operation, I say that we have a moral army; we did everything we could to lessen the harm to noncombatants."

Though the 547-page document, which was released on Thursday, accuses both Israel and Hamas of carrying out war crimes during the three-week campaign in Gaza, it focuses primarily on Israel's actions during the hostilities.

more at the supposedly 'left-wing' Haaretz
Writing in the Financial Times Roula Khalaf points out that it is the sheer impunity that Israel's crimes are received with by the so-called 'international community' that will encourage Israel to carry out yet more crimes against the Palestinians.
The bias argument might have worked in the past and helped dismiss a whole slew of other reports - most of them reaching very much the same conclusions as the UN council. But it will prove a little harder to discredit a panel headed by Richard Goldstone, a friend of Israel, who is a former South African judge. "One report is biased, two reports are biased, but not everyone can be biased," says a human rights activist who investigated Gaza violations.

The most threatening recommendations of the report - that the UN Security Council should refer the findings to the International Criminal Court at the Hague if Israel and Hamas fail to carry out credible investigations - will probably never be implemented.

Washington has pledged a more even-handed treatment of the Middle East conflict and shown a desire to be better understood in the Muslim world. But, at the end of last week, the concerns the US expressed about the report suggested that it would probably block it from reaching the ICC.

This rescue, however, does not make the report any less devastating, morally and politically.


Israelis are usually dismissive of the outside world, seeing it as generally unfriendly and incapable of understanding the trauma of living next to an enemy like Hamas. But it would be wrong to assume they care little about their country's steadily deteriorating international image.

Israel's foreign ministry has mounted a diplomatic offensive against the UN report and it appears concerned about the legal implications in European countries that pursue complaints by individuals or judges against people suspected of war crimes. Officers who were involved in the Gaza war might think twice before travelling to some capitals.

Most important, at a time when Israel and the Palestinians are supposed to be working on reviving peace talks, a failure thoroughly and genuinely to investigate the tragedy in Gaza perpetuates a culture of impunity and promises more bloodshed.

Atomic Energy Agency attacks Israel over secret nuke programme


The general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has passed a resolution condemning Israel over its secretive nuclear weapons programme for the first time since 1991.

The IAEA called on Tel Aviv to accede to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and to put its entire nuclear programme under IAEA inspections.

Israel is the only country in the Middle East that is not a signatory to the NPT and therefore accepts only limited IAEA inspections.

more

Mashaal thanks Sudan for solidarity efforts

An old story but worthy of comment is Khaled Mashaal's recent statement in Sudan that the resistance forces are still able to get weapons into Gaza, despite the blockade.

Israel earlier this year launched an air strike in Sudan against what it claimed was a weapons convoy en route to Gaza through Egypt.
By DAVID BEDEIN

Jerusalem – Hamas political chief Khalid Mash'al said on Wednesday that Palestinians in Gaza are able to buy, smuggle and manufacture weapons in spite of Israel's severe restrictions on the imports of any potential lethal substance into Gaza, ever since the Hamas' takeover of the Gaza regime in June 2007. This was confirmed by the Palestinian news agency, Ma'an.

"You did miracles in Sudan and thank God, your brothers in Palestine, despite the siege, closure, harassment, the large conspiracy and fleets of the East and West, which prevent us from bringing weapons, we were able to buy, manufacture and smuggle weapons, thank God," said Mash'al, Addressing the General Conference of the youth wing of the ruling National Congress Party in Khartoum, Sudan.

According the Ma'an, "Palestinian fighters in Gaza are also known to make homemade rockets from metal pipes, fertilizer and other common materials", adding that "Smugglers, maintain an elaborate network of tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border, using them to import a wide range of goods, including food, fuel, cigarettes, toys, and anything else made scarce by the siege. Israel also says the tunnels are used to import weapons."

from The Bulletin (Philadelphia)

Art for Gaza to be projected at Tate Modern



Former ITN reporter Sam Hall's painting marking the Israeli bombardment and invasion of Gaza in 2008/9 is to be the subject of projection near the Tate Modern art gallery, the most popular modern art gallery in the world.

Speaking about the forthcoming projection Sam commented: "When statesmen and dignitaries visit Israel, they are often taken to the Holocaust Museum, which is right because we should not forget that.

"But by the same token, nor should we forget what happened in the Gaza Strip," said Mr Hall."

More at Sam's website: www.samhallart.com

No Shalit release until Palestinians freed say Gaza protesters

GAZA (PIC) Hundreds of Palestinian citizens participated in a protest organized by the popular committee against the siege on the Palestinian side of Al-Shujaiya (Nahal Oz) crossing, east of Gaza city, to demand the release of Palestinian prisoners and the opening of crossings.

The Palestinian protest (17/9/09) coincided with another one organised by Israelis on their side of the crossing to call for tighter blockade on Gaza and the release of Israeli captive soldier Gilad Shalit.

Spokesman for the popular committee Ali Al-Nazli said, addressing the Israeli protesters, that their demonstrations would not solve the problem and would not get Shalit released, calling on them to pressure their government to abandon its intransigent attitude in this regard.

Spokesman Nazli called on the international community to save the situation in Gaza and renounce its timid attitudes through imposing sanctions on Israel for its crimes against the Palestinian people.

The spokesman also stressed that the issue of reconstruction is humanitarian and related to the civil rights of the Palestinian people and should not be linked to other political issues.

Hamas and PFLP fighters killed by Israel at border

Al-Jazzera reports on the death of two resistance fighters yesterday. According to the Israelis they were planting IEDs. Hamas and the PFLP have confirmed that their fighters were involved. Interesting to see this level of co-operation between the secular and religious wings of the resistance movement.
Two Palestinian fighters have been killed after the Israeli military fired tank shells and mortars near the Gaza border.

The Israeli army said that the two men were planting explosive devices along the fence which separates the territory from Israel on Sunday.

"The two men, both in their early twenties, Abed al-haft Chalil al-Silawai and Machmud Achmed Muhammed Nazir, are known for recently planting explosive devices along the Gaza security fence and are responsible for firing mortar shells into Israeli territory," it said in a statement.

It also said that they fired three rockets into Israeli territory on August 24 and injured a soldier.

The military wing of Hamas said that 21-year-old al-Silawai was one of their fighters, while the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) identified the 21-year-old Nazir as a member of their group.

more

Friday, 18 September 2009

British unions to build mass movement to boycott Israeli goods

Press release – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

17 September 2009

Britain’s unions commit to a mass boycott movement of Israeli goods

In a landmark decision, Britain’s trade unions have voted overwhelmingly to commit to build a mass boycott movement, disinvestment and sanctions on Israel for a negotiated settlement based on justice for Palestinians.

The motion was passed at the 2009 TUC Annual Congress in Liverpool today (17 September), by unions representing 6.5 million workers across the UK.

Hugh Lanning, chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: ‘This motion is the culmination of a wave of motions passed at union conferences this year, following outrage at Israel’s brutal war on Gaza, and reflects the massive growth in support for Palestinian rights. We will be working with the TUC to develop a mass campaign to boycott Israeli goods, especially agricultural products that have been produced in illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank.’

The motion additionally called for the TUC General Council to put pressure on the British government to end all arms trading with Israel and support moves to suspend the EU-Israel trade agreement. Unions are also encouraged to disinvest from companies which profit from Israel’s illegal 42-year occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

The motion was tabled by the Fire Brigades Union. The biggest unions in the UK, including Unite, the public sector union, and UNISON, which represents health service workers, voted in favour of the motion.

The motion also condemned the Israeli trade union Histadrut’s statement supporting Israel’s war on Gaza, which killed 1,450 Palestinians in three weeks, and called for a review of the TUC’s relationship with Histadrut.

Britain’s trade unions join those of South Africa and Ireland in voting to use a mass boycott campaign as a tool to bring Israel into line with international law, and pressure it to comply with UN resolutions that encourage justice and equality for the Palestinian people..

Notes to Editors


* Media contact: Palestine Solidarity Campaign 020 7700 6192
* The full motion passed on 17 September can be viewed at: http://www.congressvoices.org/2009/76-palestine/
* The Palestine Solidarity Campaign is the largest solidarity movement with Palestinians in Britain – and is supported by thousands of individual members alongside 18 national trade union and hundreds of local trade union affiliates. For more information: http://www.palestinecampaign.org
* The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement aims to pressure Israel into complying with international law. http://www.bdsmovement.net/



=====================================



The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC)aims to raise public awareness about the occupation of Palestine and the struggle of the Palestinian people. PSC seek to bring pressure on both the British and Israeli government to bring their policies in line with international law. PSC is an independent, non-governmental and non-party political organisation with members from communities across the UK. Join PSC today!
PalestineSolidarity Campaign
Box BM PSA
London
WC1N 3XX

Tel: 020 7700 6192
Fax: 020 7609 7779

Email: info@palestinecampaign.org

Web: www.palestinecampaign.org

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Scottish MP demands release of Palestinian parliamentarians

EDINBURGH, (PIC)-- Scottish lawmaker HughO'Donnell, the spokesman for the liberal democratic party, strongly denounced the arbitrary policy of kidnapping Palestinian lawmakers and their detention in Israeli jails for more than three years.

O'Donnell,in a letter addressed to the Israeli ambassador in Britain on Tuesday, expressed his strong condemnation of Israel’s clear violation of international law and the fourth Geneva convention through detaining Palestinian lawmakers in its jails.
He stressed in the letter that the kidnapping of lawmakers is not only a violation of democracy, but also a contempt for the will of the Palestinian people and their voice.

The letter demanded the Israeli ambassador to answer a number of questions about the reasons behind the detention of lawmakers, and the charges leveled against them as well as the expected time of their release.

Palestinians in Israel call general strike against racism

By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth

The increasingly harsh political climate in Israel under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing government has prompted the leadership of the country’s 1.3 million Arab citizens to call the first general strike in several years.

The one-day stoppage is due to take place on October 1, a date heavy with symbolism because it marks the anniversary of another general strike, in 2000 at the start of the second intifada, when 13 Arab demonstrators were shot dead by Israeli police.

The Arab leadership said it was responding to a string of what it called “racist” government measures that cast the Arab minority, a fifth of the population, as enemies of the state.

“In recent months, there has been a parallel situation of racist policies in the parliament and greater condoning of violence towards Arab citizens by the police and courts,” said Jafar Farah, the head of Mossawa, an Arab advocacy group in Israel. “This attitude is feeding down to the streets.”

Confrontations between the country’s Arab minority and Mr Netanyahu’s coalition, formed in the spring, surfaced almost immediately over a set of controversial legal measures.

The proposed bills outlawed the commemoration of the “nakba”, or catastrophe, the word used by Palestinians for their dispossession in 1948; required citizens to swear loyalty to Israel as a Zionist state; and banned political demands for ending Israel’s status as a Jewish state. Following widespread outcries, the bills were either watered down or dropped.

But simmering tensions came to a boil again late last month when the education minister, Gideon Saar, presented educational reforms to mark the start of the new school year.

He confirmed plans to drop the word “nakba” from Arabic textbooks and announced his intention to launch classes on Jewish heritage and Zionism. He also said he would tie future budgets for schools to their success in persuading pupils to perform military or national service.

more at Palestine Chronicle

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Breaking news: Israel used disproportionate force during war on Gaza says UN report


Israel used disproportionate force during Gaza war, UN report finds. More as it comes in. Unfortunately the UN's perverse notion of 'balance' has also led Goldstone to conclude that Palestinians fighting back with a fraction of the firepower of Israel also committed war crimes by firing unguided rockets at civilian areas. But that means that every western power that has been engaged in modern warfare is also guilty of committing war crimes.

Leaving this nonsense aside, the 600-page reports central finding against Israel is going to make it harder for the Israelis to keep trumpeting the humanitarian virtues of the 'most moral army in the world' as they like to refer to the murderers on land, sea and air that are the misnamed Israel Defence Forces.

Latest from AP:
The United Nations says the investigation led by former South African judge Richard Goldstone (pictured above) concluded that "Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes, possibly crimes against humanity," during its Dec. 27-Jan. 18 military operations in the Palestinian territories.

The global body said the report released Tuesday "concludes there is also evidence that Palestinian armed groups committed war crimes, as well as possibly crimes against humanity," by firing rockets into southern Israel.

Israel refused to cooperate with the investigation, saying the U.N. Human Rights Council that ordered it was biased against the Jewish state.

Shoe thrower against western imperialism al-Zaidi released after being tortured

Muntazer continues to live in fear of his life after his release by the Iraqi puppet government. He is now a national and international hero. Among the many well-wishers and gift-givers, Chavez has offered him $100,000. May George Bush (both of them) rot in hell. Link to video here
The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George Bush has marked his release from jail by angrily defending his action and claiming he was tortured after his arrest.

Muntazer al-Zaidi's supporters and family gave him a rapturous welcome, sacrificing six sheep to mark his release and hanging laurels of flowers around his neck.

Wearing an Iraqi flag, Zaidi gave a detailed account of being tortured after his arrest, and vowed to reveal the names of senior officials in the Iraqi government and army who he said had been involved in his mistreatment.
Iraqi shoe-thrower released in Baghdad Link to this audio

Appearing with a missing front tooth, he told of beatings, whippings and electric shocks after his arrest. He said he now feared for his life, and believed US intelligence agents would chase after him.

more at the Guardian

Monday, 14 September 2009

Woman tells of torture at hands of Israeli occupiers

NABLUS, (PIC)-- Ghufran Zamel has been subjected to 12 days of continued violent interrogation in an Israeli occupation authority (IOA) jail, the international Tadamun (solidarity) society for human rights said on Sunday.

The society's lawyer, who managed to meet her, said that Zamel was subjected to cruel torture as soon as she was arrested and was denied visitation.

He quoted Zamel as saying that interrogation rounds continued day and night without stop and that she was deprived of sleep for three days.

Interrogators employed various means during those rounds including threats, continued shouting, psychological pressures and others, the lawyer underlined.

Zamel, 27, was taken from her home in Ein refugee camp in Nablus on 29/8/2009 and was held in Petah Tikwa detention center without anyone allowed to see her until the Tadamun lawyer managed to visit her last Thursday 10/9/2009.

Coventry family released after Egyptian detention

The Egyptian dictatorship is increasingly paranoid which explains why it continues to detain, arrest and torture so many Egyptian citizens, but now they are increasingly in the habit of detaining foreign nationals that dare to raise their voice for Gaza. US citizen Travis Randall, who lived in Egypt and was involved in solidarity activity for Gaza, was recently deported from the country
A COVENTRY family are on their way home after being detained in Egypt for a week.

Diplomats in Cairo have successfully negotiated for Manal Timraz and her two sons to return home after border control refused to let them leave at the end of their two-week holiday, claiming it was a “matter of national security”.

Ms Timraz, who says she was humiliated, insulted and treated like a terrorist, says the Egyptian authorities now claim it was a case of mistaken identity.

They are due back in Coventry today.

Speaking from Cairo yesterday, Ms Timraz said: “The Egyptian authorities didn’t want to give any explanation but say it’s a case of mistaken identity – a similarity of names. I don’t think they want to say what the real reason is.”

Ms Timraz, who is of Palestinian descent, launched a humanitarian campaign from Coventry after losing 15 relatives in the bombing of Gaza earlier this year.

Egypt’s English language newspaper, The Daily News, claims her family’s detention follows “a series of similar incidents involving individuals stopped at Cairo Airport who have participated in pro-Gaza activity.”

Thanks to the Coventry Telegraph

al-Quds day for Palestine, London 2009




Thousands gathered in central London on Sunday for al-Quds day in solidarity with the Palestinians and all other oppressed peoples. A tiny grpop of nazis/BNP members 'protesting against Islam' tried to disrupt the march but luckily for them they were protected by the police.

Israel prevents aid getting to disabled Palestinians

By Jonathan Cook

Yunis al Masri was luckier than his two brothers from Gaza. Although the truck that ploughed into their car as they traveled to work in Israel 24 years ago killed Jaber and Kamal instantly, al Masri survived with shattered bones, internal bleeding and brain damage.

Today, aged 49 and after many operations, he has difficulty walking and problems remembering to do things. Any hope of working again was crushed in 1985 amid the car wreckage.

Like tens of thousands of other Palestinian manual laborers who worked inside Israel before Gaza was progressively sealed off to the outside world from the early 1990s, Al Masri had paid regularly into Israel's social security fund from his salary.

Certified as disabled by an Israeli medical committee, he is entitled to a monthly allowance of $800 from Israel's National Insurance Institute, out of which he has supported his wife and 10 children in their home in Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza.

In early January, however, the transfers of disability benefits stopped arriving in his bank account in Gaza. About 700 other injured workers are in the same situation.

The reason, they have learnt, is that while the Israeli army was rampaging through the Gaza Strip during its winter assault, the Bank of Israel severed ties with Gaza's banks.

The ending of financial relations between Israel and Gaza, in a deepening of the three-year blockade of the Hamas-ruled enclave, means al Masri and other disabled workers have been without a source of income for the past nine months.

Al Masri said he had been forced heavily into debt to keep putting food on the table, adding that the whole family was now dependent on his daughter, Nura, 26. During Ramadan she started part-time secretarial work that brings in $100 a month, though the job is far from secure. “How far will that money go to feed and support a family of 12?” he said.

Nura added: “When the benefits first stopped arriving, we called the National Insurance Institute and were told it's a political decision and that when Gilad Shalit was returned we would get our money.” Sgt Shalit, an Israeli soldier, was captured by Hamas in June 2006. It is believed he is being held in Gaza.

Al Masri's sister-in-law, Hasna, who lost her husband, Jaber, in the crash, said none of her four children were earning and the family was without any source of income. She had recently told her eldest son, who is studying in Romania, that there was no money left for his course fees.

“We are happy go to the checkpoint at Erez to pick up the cheque in person if that is what it takes,” al Masri said.

The workers' cases have been taken up by the Al Mezan centre for human rights, based in Gaza, and by an Israeli legal group, Adalah, which launched a petition against the government's decision in the Supreme Court last week.

Mahmoud abu Rahma, a spokesman for Al Mezan, said the 700 injured workers had been part of a large workforce of as many as 80,000 Gazans who regularly worked in Israel during the 1970s and 1980s. The numbers only began to dwindle in the early 1990s as Israel introduced a closure policy and built an electronic fence around Gaza. The Oslo accords of the 1990s, which held out the hope of Palestinian self-rule, further reduced the opportunities for work as Israel entrenched its policy of separation.

Much of the manual labor, once done by Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank, is today performed by 300,000 guest workers, mainly from the Philippines, Thailand, China and eastern Europe.

Abu Rahma said the disabled workers, having lost the chance to work, were now suffering the indignity of not being able to provide for their families.

“Israel has absolute control not only over the physical borders of Gaza, but also over our monetary system, too,” he said. “We depend on the Israeli currency of the shekel and Israel's banks can turn on and off the money supply at will.”

Israel's blockade of Gaza has been progressively tightened since Hamas won the Palestinian Authority elections in early 2006. Following the Islamic movement's rout of an attempted coup by the rival Fatah group in summer 2007, Israel declared Gaza an “enemy entity” and started cutting off fuel and power supplies. Now only the most essential items get through.

The only two Israeli banks dealing with Gaza, Hapoalim and Discount, received approval from the Bank of Israel to cut their links during the assault on Gaza. The central bank had previously opposed such a move, fearing that it would bring about the collapse of Gaza's economy.

This week, a report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development noted that 90 percent of Gaza's population was living below the poverty line, with employment restricted almost entirely to government and public administration and small service industries.

Abu Rahma said the disabled workers included the poorest and most vulnerable among Gaza's population of 1.5 million, and many were in danger of starvation if payments were not resumed soon. “They have no other sources of income and are really struggling without their benefits.”

In 1998, Fadil Qomsan fell seven storeys from a building site in Ashdod, 25km north of Gaza, breaking his back.

During the two weeks he spent in a hospital in Tel Aviv, he said, the site's manager came to his bedside to tell him that the construction company was denying responsibility. “He told me that I had fallen because I was using drugs. The police organized many blood tests during my stay, but they all came back negative. Eventually I won my right to disability allowance.”

Qomsan, 46, from Jabaliya camp, who needs a back brace to walk, has been assessed as 81 percent disabled. He was receiving $450 to support his wife and three children, the youngest of whom is seven. “Our financial situation was desperate even when we were getting the cheques, but now it's beyond miserable.”

He said the family had been forced to survive on the charity of family and friends.

Taysir al Basoos has been blind since 16 when a nail fired from a nail gun on a building site in Ashkelon, 10km north of Gaza, penetrated his chest, severed the blood flow to his brain and left him blind.

Al Basoos, 47, said his wife and six children, including the youngest who is five, were entirely dependent on his monthly disability benefits.

“Workers like me helped to build the state of Israel; we did not put Hamas in charge of Gaza,” he said. “I am not politically active at all, so why am I being punished? Our case is a humanitarian one.”

Sawsan Zaher, a lawyer with Adalah, said six representative cases of disabled workers from Gaza who were denied benefits have been presented to the Israeli Supreme Court. They included construction workers who fell; a gardener for a local council who was crushed by a falling crane, and a car wash operator who lost two fingers.

Zaher said Adalah had first approached the National Insurance Institute, the Bank of Israel and various government ministries in April, when the change in policy became clear, but they had all shirked responsibility.

“We were told by the NII that it was trying to negotiate a solution with the Palestinian Authority, possibly by transferring the money through the (Fatah-run) West Bank, but it led nowhere.”

Adalah argues that the decision to block the payments to Gaza violates Israeli law. “The money is the property of the disabled workers and this decision unjustly deprives them of their property,” Zaher said.

Adalah is also claiming that the decision, because it affects the welfare entitlements of Palestinian workers only and not of Israelis, constitutes racism.

Abu Rahma said there was an additional concern that some of the workers could not afford essential medicines needed in their treatment.

Sharif Qarmout, 58, of Jabaliya camp, has been paralysed from the waist since 1979 when he fell six storeys from a building site in Rishon Letzion, near Tel Aviv. The loss of his monthly allowance of $1,150 has plunged the family into great hardship as they struggle not only to buy food but also to pay the $350 bill each month for the 15 different drugs he needs to control his incontinence, improve blood circulation in his legs and prevent depression.

“A year and a half ago Israel stopped giving my wife permission to go to the hospital in Ashkelon to collect the medicines,” said Mr. Qarmout, who uses a wheelchair. “I was forced to buy them privately in Gaza, but now I don't have the money. I've been using different pharmacies, paying on credit, but it can't go on much longer. I've started reducing the doses to make the drugs last longer.”

Qarmout said his three grown children were living in the house to care for him, as his wife was mostly confined to bed with severe back problems from 30 years of lifting him.

“Nobody takes the responsibilities for me,” Qarmout added.

Marie Badarne, of the Labourers' Voice, a workers' rights group based in Nazareth, said the Israeli government's abuse of the disabled workers echoed a much wider problem faced by Gazans who had been employed in Israel until recently.

She said thousands of workers from Gaza had their contracts in Israel terminated without notice by employers in spring 2004, shortly after the government of Ariel Sharon announced it would be “disengaging” from the enclave in summer 2005.

Most had been working in construction, garages, textile factories, carpentry workshops or as agricultural laborers inside Israel or in a handful of Jewish settlements inside Gaza that were dismantled in August 2005.

“Overnight more than 20,000 workers had their work permits withdrawn and lost their livelihoods,” she said. “They had been paying into the social security system, some of them for decades, but have been denied their legal entitlements, such as severance pay, overtime and holiday allowance.”

The Labourers' Voice said its investigations had also shown that most Israeli employers had been paying Gaza's workers below the minimum wage.

According to its calculations, the laid-off workers from Gaza are each typically owed between $12,000 and $50,000, meaning that Israeli employers have “defrauded the workforce of tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars”, Ms. Badarne said.

In July, the Nazareth group submitted claims on behalf of more than 40 workers to the labor court in Beersheva, which has agreed to hear the cases. All the workers were employed by a furniture company, mostly as carpenters, at the Erez industrial estate close to the Gaza Strip.

Badarne said the company did not deny that the workers were owed money but had defended its actions on the grounds that Gaza had been declared an “enemy entity”.

“Their lawyers have said that, because Gaza is an enemy entity, the residents should be treated as a hostile population,” she said. “They told the judge that Israel must not open its doors to terrorists and that ending the economic siege would work against the interests of the Israeli state.

“In an attempt to bolster their argument that the case in support of the workers should be dismissed, the lawyers even sent the court a copy of the Hamas charter and an analysis of what it means.”

She added that, despite the fact that Israeli employers made social security deductions from Gazans' salaries, the workers could no longer make use of the benefits they should be entitled to.

“If they get sick, for example, these workers should have the right to use Israeli hospitals because they paid health insurance, but of course that obligation is no longer being honored. In some cases, given the deteriorating provision of health care in Gaza under the blockade, that right could mean the difference between life and death.”

Ronit Gedultir, a spokeswoman for Israel's National Insurance Institute, said officials were seeking a solution for the disabled workers' families affected by the bank's decision.

“This is a very delicate issue and we are not neglecting it,” she said. “The money is waiting here for the families, but so far we have found no way to deliver it to them.”

Israel has also been seeking to end the right of Palestinian civilians to seek compensation for injuries they have suffered at the hands of the Israeli army.

A bill that exempted the state from legal claims by Palestinians for personal injury or damage to property inflicted by the army during the second intifada was passed in summer 2005 but overturned a year later by the Supreme Court.

Hassan Jabareen, the director of Adalah, said the law had recently been amended in an attempt to bypass the court and was expected to be resubmitted to the parliament this month.

- Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilizations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books).

(Source: PalestineChronicle.com)-

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Palestinian Authority sacks 40 teachers for 'crime' of supporting Hamas

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)-- The ministry of education in the illegitimate government of Salam Fayyad in Ramallah has sacked 40 teachers from Al-Khalil district, mostly newly appointed, for their affiliation with Hamas.

Ministry sources told PIC on Wednesday that 29 teachers were sacked over the past few days in southern Al-Khalil some of whom had been appointed only for a few days but the security apparatuses refused to endorse their appointment.

The sources added that the same militias, loyal to former PA chief and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, recommended the dismissal of 11 other teachers in northern Al-Khalil for the same reason. Most of those have been appointed in the past three years.

The ministry had fired hundreds of teachers over the past three months after they were summoned and interrogated by Abbas's militias over their political affiliation.

Resistance continues fghtback against IDF border probes

The Jerusalem Post reports on renewed attacks by resistance fighters against the IDF. Unfortunately no injuries reported on the Israeli side:
IDF troops came under fire near the security fence on Thursday, in the second such incident in one day.

An army unit was fired upon in the afternoon while performing reinforcement work on an electronic security fence next to Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha.

In the earlier incident, an IDF unit was fired upon at the Gaza perimeter fence on Thursday morning, and returned fire with mortar rounds.

No injuries were reported.

Chavez denounces Israels 'genocidal' attack on Gaza


Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has described Israel's deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip as an attempt to exterminate the Palestinians.

Describing the offensive as an unprovoked attack on Wednesday, the Venezuelan President accused the Israeli government of trying to hide the genocidal nature of its assault behind the pretext for stopping rocket fires from the beleaguered strip.

"What was it if not a genocide? ... The Israelis were looking for an excuse to exterminate the Palestinians," Chavez told the French newspaper, Le Figaro.

Chavez, who expelled the Israeli ambassador to Venezuelan over Tel Aviv's war crimes in Gaza, also called for international sanctions against Tel Aviv over its crimes against humanity. He also advised the Israeli government to respect the Palestinian people's right to self-determination.

more

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Why is the Israeli army carrying out unnecessary autopsies on Palestinians?

By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth

The hyperventilating by Israel's leaders [1] over a story published in a Swedish newspaper last month [2] suggesting that the Israeli army assisted in organ theft from Palestinians has distracted attention from the disturbing allegations made by Palestinian families that were the basis of the article’s central claim.

The families’ fears that relatives, killed by the Israeli army, had body parts removed during unauthorised autopsies performed in Israel have been overshadowed by accusations of a “blood libel” directed against the reporter, Donald Bostrom, and the Aftonbladet newspaper, as well as the Swedish government and people.

I have no idea whether the story is true. Like most journalists working in Israel and Palestine, I have heard such rumours before.. Until Bostrom wrote his piece, no Western journalist, as far as I know, had investigated them. After so many years, the assumption by journalists was that there was little hope of finding evidence - apart from literally by digging up the corpses. Doubtless, the inevitable charge of anti-semitism such reports attract acted as a powerful deterrent too.

What is striking about this episode is that the families making the claims were not given a hearing in the late 1980s and early 1990s, during the first Intifada, when most of the reports occurred, and are still being denied the right to voice their concerns today.

Israel’s sensitivity to the allegation of organ theft - or “harvesting”, as many observers coyly refer to the practice - appears to trump the genuine concerns of the families about possible abuse of their loved ones.

Bostrom has been much criticised for the flimsy evidence he produced in support of his inflammatory story. Certainly there is much to criticize in his and the newspaper’s presentation of the report.

Most significantly, Bostrom and Aftonbladet exposed themselves to the charge of anti-semitism -at least from Israeli officials keen to make mischief -through a major error of judgment.

They muddied the waters by trying to make a tenuous connection between the Palestinian families’ allegations about organ theft during unauthorized autopsies and the entirely separate revelations this month that a group of US Jews had been arrested for money-laundering and trading in body parts. [3]

In making that connection, Bostrom and Aftonbladet suggested that the problem of organ theft is a current one when they have produced only examples of such concern from the early 1990s. They also implied, whether intentionally or not, that abuses allegedly committed by the Israeli army could somehow be extrapolated more generally to Jews.

The Swedish reporter should instead have concentrated on the valid question raised by the families about why the Israeli army, by its own admission, took away the bodies of dozens of Palestinians killed by its soldiers, allowed autopsies to be performed on them without the families’ permission and then returned the bodies for burial in ceremonies held under tight security.
Bostrom’s article highlighted the case of one Palestinian, 19-year-old Bilal Ahmed Ghanan, from the village of Imatin in the northern West Bank, who was killed in 1992. A shocking picture of Bilal’s stitched-up body accompanied the report. [4]

Bostrom has told the Israeli media that he knows of at least 20 cases of families claiming that the bodies of loved ones were returned with body parts missing, [5] although he did not say whether any of these alleged incidents occurred more recently.
In 1992, the year in question, Bostrom says, the Israeli army admitted to him that it took away for autopsy 69 of the 133 Palestinians who died of unnatural causes. The army has not denied this part of his report.

A justifiable question from the families relayed by Bostrom is: why did the army want the autopsies carried out? Unless it can be shown that the army intended to conduct investigations into the deaths - and there is apparently no suggestion that it did - the autopsies were unnecessary.

In fact, they were more than unnecessary. They were counterproductive if we assume that the army has no interest in gathering evidence that could be used in future war crimes prosecutions of its soldiers. Israel has a long track record of investigations into Palestinian deaths at the hands of its soldiers, and carried on that ignoble tradition in the wake of its recent assault on Gaza.

Of even greater concern for the Palestinian families is the fact that at around the time the bodies of their loved ones were whisked off by the army for autopsy, the only institute in Israel that conducts such autopsies, Abu Kabir, near Tel Aviv, was almost certainly at the centre of a trade in organs that later became a scandal inside Israel.

Equally disturbing, the doctor behind the plunder of body parts, Prof Yehuda Hiss, appointed director of the Abu Kabir institute in the late 1980s, has never been jailed despite admitting to the organ theft and he continues to be the state’s chief pathologist at the institute.

Hiss was in charge of the autopsies of Palestinians when Bostrom was listening to the families’ claims in 1992. Hiss was subsequently investigated twice, in 2002 and 2005, over the theft of body parts on a large scale.

Allegations of Hiss’ illegal trade in organs was first revealed in 2000 by investigative reporters at the Yediot Aharonot newspaper, which reported that he had “price listings” for body parts and that he sold mainly to Israeli universities and medical schools. [6]

Apparently undeterred by these revelations, Hiss still had an array of body parts in his possession at Abu Kabir when the Israeli courts ordered a search in 2002. Israel National News reported at the time: “Over the past years, heads of the institute appear to have given thousands of organs for research without permission, while maintaining a ‘storehouse’ of organs at Abu Kabir.” [7]

Hiss did not deny the plunder of organs, admitting that the body parts belonged to soldiers killed in action and had been passed to medical institutes and hospitals in the interests of advancing research. Understandably, however, the Palestinian families are unlikely to be satisfied with Hiss’ explanation. If the wishes of a soldier’s family were disregarded by Hiss, why not Palestinian families’ wishes too?

Hiss was allowed to continue as director of Abu Kabir until 2005 when allegations of a trade in organs surfaced again. On this occasion Hiss admitted to having removed parts from 125 bodies without authorization. Following a plea bargain with the state, the attorney general decided not to press criminal charges and Hiss was given only a reprimand. [8] He has continued as chief pathologist at Abu Kabir.

It should also be noted, as Bostrom points out, that in the early 1990s Israel was suffering from an acute shortage of organ donors to the extent that Ehud Olmert, health minister at the time, launched a public campaign to encourage Israelis to come forward. This offers a possible explanation for Hiss’ actions. He may have acted to help make up the shortfall.

Given the facts that are known, there must be at least a very strong suspicion that Hiss removed organs without authorization from some Palestinians he autopsied. Both this issue, and the army’s possible role in supplying him with corpses, needs investigation.

Hiss is also implicated in another long-running and unresolved scandal from Israel’s early years, in the 1950s, when the children of recent Jewish immigrants to Israel from Yemen were adopted by Ashkenazi couples after the Yeminite parents had been told that their child had died, [9] usually after admission to hospital.

After an initial cover-up, the Yeminite parents have continued pressing for answers from the state, and forced officials to reopen the files. [8] The Palestinian families deserve no less. However, unlike the Yemenite parents, their chances of receiving any kind of investigation, transparent or otherwise, look all but hopeless. When Palestinian demands for justice are not backed by investigations from journalists or the protests of the international community, Israel can safely ignore them.
It is worth remembering in this context the constant refrain from Israel’s peace camp that the brutal, four-decade occupation of the Palestinians has profoundly corrupted Israeli society.

When the army enjoys power without accountability, how do Palestinians, or we, know what soldiers are allowed to get away with under cover of occupation? What restraints are in place to prevent abuses? And who takes them to task if they do commit crimes?

Similarly, when Israeli politicians are able to cry “blood libel” or “anti-semitism” when they are criticized, damaging the reputations of those they accuse, what incentive do they have to initiate inquiries that may harm them or the institutions they oversee? What reason do they have to be honest when they can bludgeon a critic into silence, at no cost to themselves?
This is the meaning of the phrase “power corrupts”, and Israeli politicians and soldiers, as well as at least one pathologist, demonstrably have far too much power - most especially over Palestinians under occupation.

- Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are“Israel and the Clash of Civilizations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net. He contributed this article to PalsestineChronicle.com.

Links
[1] http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1109437.html
[2] http://www.tlaxcala.es/pp.asp?reference=8390&lg=en
[3] http://www.slate.com/id/2223559/
[4] http://www.aftonbladet.se/kultur/article5652583.ab
[5] http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3766093,00.html
[6] http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1173179
[7] http://www.israelfaxx.com/webarchive/2002/01/2fax0104.html
[8] http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/90518

Many thanks to the Palestine Chronicle

Resistance claims direct hit on Israeli unit near Beir Lahia

Resistance fighters claim they have prevented a further infiltration by IDF special forces near the border town of Beit Lahia. Fighters claim direct hits on the IDF unit but there have been no reports so far to confirm this from the Israelis. The action follows the kidnapping of five children by Israeli from the same area earlier this week
GAZA, Sept 9 (KUNA) -- A Palestiniam militant group clashed early Wednesday with a special Israeli force in the town of Beit Lahya north of Gaza.

The Al-Nasser Salahuddin Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, said in a statement that their elements scored direct hits within the Israeli force which tried to advance into the Borat Abu Samra area.

Israeli forces entered Beit Lahya a few days back and abducted five young Palestinians.


Thanks to the Kuwait News Agency

Siege prevents repair of sanitation system as thousands denied access to clean water


10,000 people in Gaza have no access to water and an additional 60 per cent of the population have only limited access.

As a result of the near complete closure of Gaza's crossings since June 2007, equipment and supplies needed for the construction, maintenance and operation of water and sanitation facilities have been denied entry to Gaza. This has lead to the gradual deterioration of these essential services.

Merlin is highlighting the need for urgent action to address this growing water and sanitation crisis in Gaza, and has signed up to a joint United Nations statement with other humanitarian organisations to draw attention to the situation.

Laurent Viot, Merlin's Programme Manager for Asia and the Middle East, said:

Severe damage to water and sanitation structures is increasing the threat of waterborne disease, and the lack of construction materials means these structures cannot be repaired.

The United Nations has called for full and unrestricted access for spare parts and materials critically needed to restore Gaza's water and sanitation services.

"At the heart of this crisis is a steep decline in standards of living for the people of Gaza, characterised by erosion of livelihoods, destruction and degradation of basic infrastructure, and a marked downturn in the delivery and quality of vital services in health, water and sanitation," said Mr Maxwell Gaylard, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian Territories.

Destruction caused during the fighting in 2008/2009 exacerbated an already critical situation, leaving some services and facilities on the brink of collapse. Whilst some essential construction and repair items have been permitted to enter since then, this is nowhere near enough to restore a fully-functioning water and sanitation system for the people of Gaza.

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Israeli rights group says IDF lied - killed 252 children


The lies of the Israeli military are too much to stomach for increasing numbers of Israelis. A report out today from the Israeli B'Tselem human rights group admits that the IDF killed at least 252 children. This is still an underestimate by the way. Theal Mezan centre puts the figure at 355 (see chart above).
An Israeli human rights group says many more Palestinian civilians were killed in the Israeli military's campaign in Gaza than the army admits.

B'Tselem said detailed research with careful cross-checking showed 1,387 Palestinians died, over half of them civilians and 252 of them children.

This contradicts an Israeli army report stating fewer than 300 civilians died in fighting in December and January.

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Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Israeli soldiers kidnap five children from Beit Lahia


The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights reports that undercover forces of the Israeli army kidnapped on Sunday five Palestinian children in an invasion to Beit Lahia town, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

The kidnapped children are;

1. Mohammed Arafat Abu Khusa, 17.

2. Ibrahim Shehda Abu Jarad, 16.

3. Sameh Abdul Qader Abu Hashish, 15.

4. Freeh Qasem Abu Hashish, 13.

5. 'A'ed Hazaa' Abu Hashish, 16.

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Monday, 7 September 2009

Egypt deports US citizen for showing solidarity with people of Gaza


US citizen Travis Randall of Denver, Colorado, has been deported from Egypt.

Although no official reason has been given by the Mubarak dictatorship for its actions, Travis was one of a group of international protesters who took part in a march to condemn Israel and Egypt for their continuing siege of Gaza.

Earlier this year a German national, Philip Rizk, was imprisoned by Egyptian authorities for having taken part in the march.

There seem to be no limits on how low the dictatorship will go to keep the Zionist regime happy.

Hundreds of Egyptians are still in prison following the round-ups that took place during Israel's recent war on Gaza, as the dictatorship struggled to keep a lid on the anger directed both at Israel and the corrupt Mubarak regime.

Toronto Film Festival boycott call over Israeli film screenings


The Arab-Israeli question is at the centre of a fierce row overshadowing next week's Toronto Film Festival, with a group of prominent artists and celebrities accusing the festival organisers of sponsoring "the Israeli propaganda machine."

Fifty actors, writers and directors – including Jane Fonda, Danny Glover, Naomi Klein and Ken Loach – signed a letter urging fans to boycott the prestigious festival over its plans to screen a series of films from Tel Aviv.

Ten movies were selected for the "city-to-city" programme but not one of them was made by, or features, a Palestinian. As a result, critics have likened the imitative to a celebration of apartheid-era South Africa.

"This programme ignores the suffering of thousands of former residents and descendants of the [Tel Aviv] area who currently live in refugee camps in the Occupied Territories," reads their letter. "We object to the use of such an important international festival in staging a propaganda campaign." The Canadian film-maker John Greyson has already pulled his documentary Covered out of the 35-year-old event in protest.

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Download the letter of protest here

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Finkelstein pulls out of Gaza march initiative


Norman Finkelstein has pulled out of the coalition that has come together for a peaceful international march on Gaza due to what he sees as a new 'sectarian' agenda that has been 'foisted' on the initiative under the guise of a 'political context'. Not sure what exactly is going on here but Finkelstein's statement on thr matter is reproduced below:

Why I resigned from the Gaza Freedom March coalition

The original consensus of the International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza was that we would limit our statement to a pair of uncontroversial, basic and complementary principles that would have the broadest possible appeal: the march to break the siege would be nonviolent and anchored in international law. I agreed with this approach and consequent statement and decided to remove myself from the steering committee in order to invest my full energies in mobilizing for the march.

During the week beginning August 30, 2009 and in a matter of days an entirely new sectarian agenda dubbed “the political context” was foisted on those who originally signed on and worked tirelessly for three months. Because it drags in contentious issues that — however precious to different constituencies — are wholly extraneous to the narrow but critical goal of breaking the siege this new agenda is gratuitously divisive and it is almost certain that it will drastically reduce the potential reach of our original appeal.

It should perhaps be stressed that the point of dispute was not whether one personally supported a particular Palestinian right or strategy to end the occupation. It was whether inclusion in the coalition’s statement of a particular right or strategy was necessary if it was both unrelated to the immediate objective of breaking the siege and dimmed the prospect of a truly mass demonstration. In addition the tactics by which this new agenda was imposed do not bode well for the future of the coalition’s work and will likely move the coalition in an increasingly sectarian direction.

I joined the coalition because I believed that an unprecedented opportunity now exists to mobilize a broad public whereby we could make a substantive and not just symbolic contribution towards breaking the illegal and immoral siege of Gaza and, accordingly, realize a genuine and not just token gesture of solidarity with the people of Gaza. In its present political configuration I no longer believe the coalition can achieve such a goal.

Because I would loathe getting bogged down in a petty and squalid public brawl I will not comment further on this matter unless the sequence of events climaxing in my decision to resign are misrepresented by interested parties. However I would be remiss in my moral obligations were I not humbly to apologize to those who, either coaxed by me or encouraged by my participation, gave selflessly of themselves to make the march a historic event and now feel aggrieved at the abrupt turn of events.

It can only be said in extenuation that I along with many others desperately fought to preserve the ecumenical vision that originally inspired the march but the obstacles thrown in our path ultimately proved insurmountable.

From the Comment Factory

Netanyah's green light for more illegal settlements, prisoner talks stall


Israel has made it known that it intends to push ahead with more settlements on the West Bank despite pressure from the US to end any further expansion plans. This from PIC
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Sunday that Israel’s persistence in the expansion of its settlements proves that US president Barack Obama failed to curb the occupation and lost his credibility regarding the settlement process in the region.

In a press statement to the Palestinian information center (PIC), spokesman Abu Zuhri stressed that the peaceful settlement option is a term that only exists in the minds of those who wager on it, while Israel on the ground is persistent in judaizing the Palestinian lands.

The spokesman also deplored, in another context, the Palestinian Authority’s security apparatuses for turning back Israeli settlers who mistakenly entered West Bank cities, saying that this behavior is the biggest example of the size of the security coordination between the PA and the Israeli occupation.

The Israeli Yediot Ahronot newspaper reported that Benjamin Netanyahu would approve on Sunday during a cabinet meeting a plan to construct hundreds of settlement units in the West Bank.

There is still no news on the outcome of talks in Egypt aimed at securing the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange of Israeli prisoner of war Shalit. See the interview above with the speaker of the Palestinian parliament recently released from an Israeli prison.