Monday, 16 February 2009

Israel bombs the tunnels... again - western media fails to report earlier Palestinian deaths

As predicted this morning, the Palestinian deaths at the weekend would go largely unreported but as soon as the Palestinians fire a rocket in response the western media would be all over the story, and of course present the subsequent Israeli air strikes on the tunnels at Rafah as retaliation.

From the BBC
Israeli jets have bombed tunnels on Gaza's border with Egypt, after two rockets were fired at southern Israel.

The Israeli military said the air attack targeted a tunnel used for smuggling arms into Gaza.

A little-known militant group called Hezbollah Brigades Palestine claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks, which caused no casualties.

Manchester's Alan Gilbert still refusing to negotiate with occupiers

Radio interview (All FM 96.9 Manchester) with the Man Uni Post Room occupiers on Feb 5 can be listened to here

Video from the EGM

Philip Rizk and Diaa Eddin Gad: the inside story on Egypt's 'state of fear'

From the Jerusalem Post

"At 1:30am [Monday] when we had just gone to bed, the doorbell rang. Five plain clothed men and two in full riot gear and machine guns stood outside our door. They wanted to enter to search the house," the family wrote on a Facebook website created to update concerned friends and colleagues of Rizk's disappearance.

"We found out that they were looking for evidence against Philip. Two men entered and began searching through the papers of our home office. In the meantime we contacted a German Embassy official and a professor from AUC as well as some friends. They all came immediately," the posting added.

The following day, Rizk's sister Jeannette reported that "secret police" had entered her apartment, which she shared with her brother, in search of incriminating evidence.

"Phillip's hard drives, cameras, iPod, as well as several boxes of books, including both intellectual and material property are missing from the apartment. No money was taken," she wrote.

According to her, the "intruders used Phillip's key" and proceeded to leave it on the desk when they left. She did not know what they were looking for and "no incriminating evidence of any sort could possibly be found, as none exists; the impunity with which personal property was taken is deeply disturbing."

And from the New York Times
“They said I was a liar, that I was not telling them the truth, threatening me that I would be punished in certain ways unless I gave them the whole story,” Mr. Rizk said in a telephone interview on Wednesday...

...But two hours away from Mr. Rizk’s leafy upscale neighborhood in Cairo, Amaal Abdel Fattah Taha was red in the face, sobbing in fear, terrified that her son, Diaa Eddin Gad, had been killed by the state. Mr. Gad, 23, a high school dropout and blogger, was arrested Friday, too, when four police officers grabbed him as he stepped outside the door of his family’s apartment...

...Mr. Gad was arrested after he took part in a peaceful demonstration in Cairo organized by the Wafd Party, a largely powerless, secular liberal political party.

But he is also known as the man behind an Arabic-language blog, — “An Angry Voice.” He describes himself on the blog as an Egyptian citizen who loves his country. He goes on to mock President Hosni Mubarak as a “Zionist agent.” At one point, he refers to the president as Ehud Mubarak, a play on the name of Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak.

Insulting the president is punishable by a year in prison.more

More info:

Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
Egyptian security must be called to account, despite the release of Philip Rizk

Viva Palestina arrests a smokescreen for clampdown on activists

Latest news

[12:57 GMT 16 Feb - Convoy en route to San Sebastian - big press conference and reception. 16:00 15 Feb GMT - Cultural Centre + big parking area being opened up for convoy in Bordeaux; people arriving over many hours - chance to get some admin done! - 15:13 GMT 15 Feb Weather getting warmer a convoy heads south. Bright and sunny. Everyone split into teams to make long drive more manageable. - 16:32 GMT One vehicle casualty so far - a truck is being towed, contingency plans being made to get it repaired first thing morning.]

Gaza Solidarity spoke to Lancashire Police this lunchtime [Sunday 15 Feb] and was told they have been granted an extension to question the three people for another six days. The searches of both vehicles and houses are still ongoing.

The spokeswoman said they were attempting to expedite the search as quickly as possible so that 'the vehicles can go on their way'. When asked if the police had contacted Viva Palestina as part of their investigations the spokeswoman had no further information.

She also had no information as to whether the vehicles and individuals were officially part of the convoy. A Viva Palestina spokesman said they had no 'personal knowledge' of the individuals concerned.

Seems increasingly likely that this is an attempt to undermine the convoy in the eyes of the public through a bogus association with a 'terror plot'. The police warrant to hold the three individuals expires on Thursday 19 February.

Unfortunately press enquiries at the Viva Palestina office are met with a 'voicemail full' message - but then again they've got the more serious business of a humanitarian convoy to run.

Lancashire police said the cargo from the three seized vehicles was being "thoroughly checked by search officers who are working as quickly as they can to ensure that the parcels can be released and continue on to their destination."
It is understood the operation is connected to possible terrorist offences overseas and not in the UK.
This is code for saying we can't find any terrorist-related evidence in any of the five houses searched. The police will likely string it out for as long as possible so it appears they are undertaking a forensic investigation based on 'actionable intelligence' when in fact they are operating on the basis of prejudice and a general hostility to all things Muslim.

Clearly the three being held have done nothing wrong, unless you call having a humanitarian conscience a criminal act, but if the authorities say it's to do with a 'plot' abroad it sounds more sinister and al-Qaeda-related and of course they can blame it all on poor intelligence from foreign 'partners' - such as Pakistan and Israel.

From the Guardian
A spokesman for Viva Palestina, the group organising the convoy, said: "We are concerned about the arrests, but until such time as things become clearer it's very difficult to say more. The police haven't been in touch with us about it and we don't have any personal knowledge of the people involved."

Viva Palestina has not been formally contacted by the police on the matter and the police/government attempts to smear the convoy have failed.
Spirits very high after news that attempts to discredit them in UK media are failing - [8.00am GMT]

According to the spokesman for Viva Palestina the convoy organisers do not have 'any personal knowledge of people involved' which only makes the plot thicken. Now seems more and more likely that this is a not very clever attempt by the security services to smear the Gaza solidarity movement.

More when we get it. The convoy is currently en route to Bordeaux

Edinburgh wins end to Eden contract and five scholarships for Palestinians

We, the occupying students have secured the following…

• A complete end to Eden Springs bottled water on campus by the start of the next academic year (2009/10).
• An opportunity to bring our case regarding the university’s unethical investments directly to the University Court.
• Scholarships for 5 Palestinian students in Gaza to study at Edinburgh University, with consideration for fee waivers, reduced accommodation fees, travel allowances and visa support.
• A collaboration between the university management, student body and an NGO to collect various materials for shipping to Gaza and to fund raise for the implementation of this.
• A lecture and debate series, involving university staff and guest speakers, on various subjects relating to the Palestine/Israel conflict. There has already been interest in this from prominent scholars Ilan Pappe and Noam Chomsky.

We feel that this is only the beginning of the movement to end the university’s role in the occupation and oppression of Palestine by the Israeli government and military. more

Two Palestinians die in Gaza strip

These killings will not be widely reported in the western media but no doubt rocket fire in response by Palestinians will.

An Israeli tank opened fire on a village killing one person and another died of wounds from an attack three days ago.

Edinburgh occupation lays down a marker - AGM this week
Tony Gorman of the Middle East department came to talk to the occupying students and passers-by about the history of Gaza preceding the recent conflict. At the same time we had a visit from Kathy Jenkins, another university lecturer, who participated in the UC Berkeley anti-Vietnam protests of the 1960s.

At the same time, non-university supporters of the sit-in gathered outside GST and began singing solidarity songs for Gaza. We then had various speakers, including a Palestinian recently arrived from Gaza and several occupation participants, who communicated the university’s latest statement to the crowd.

30 odd students then reconvened upstairs with Tony, to continue discussing Palestinian/Israeli issues and were joined by Maurice Naftalin, the head of Scottish Jews for Just Peace. With such a rich variety of perspectives, some very inciteful and thought-provoking statements were made and challenged. At that moment, this space came into its own. A dialogue was formed that so rarely has a platform to exist elsewhere but is so vital.

We’d like to collectively say a massive thank you to Tony, Kathy, Maurice, the Scottish PSC, the wonderful choir and everyone else who contributed to the day!

During the afternoon an email from Norman Finkelstein arrived, supporting our efforts and wishing us a positive conclusion.