Saturday, 25 April 2009

Israel's attacks on Gaza's fishermen aimed at grabing natural gas deposits

Israel is forced to import 95% of its energy, making it vulnerable to any disruptions. Not sure how much crude oil is held in stock but probably not more than a few weeks rather than months. Egypt is a major supplier of Israel's gas.
Timeline of Gaza Marine Zone, Fishermen and Natural Gas Deposits - An Update by David K. Schermerhorn

There is an historical connection between the Gazan community and the off shore fishery. In recent times some 3000 fishermen in over 700 boats made their livelihood in the waters off the shores of Gaza. Before 1978 when the fishing area included the sea off the Sinai coastline the area covered some 75,000 square kilometers.

The larger boats are about 20 meters in length and usually carry a crew of 7. They are typically trawlers using downriggers to lower their nets to the ocean bed. Currently their main catch is bream or sardines that average between 8 and 14 inches. Smaller craft, hassakas, normally deploy their nets a few hundred meters off shore. The nets are then hauled in by hand. These catches are very modest...

...Beginning in late 2000 the Israeli military initiated a continuing campaign of intimidation and harassment against fishing boats that ventured near or beyond a 6 nautical mile limit. Their patrol boats attacked and harassed the Gazans on a daily basis. To date the Israelis have killed 15 and wounded over 200 fishermen.

-1999 -The British Gas Group (BG Group) discovered a vast deposit of natural gas within Gaza’s Maritime Activity Zone: Over 1.3 trillion cubic feet equal to 150 million barrels of oil were estimated to be there. Located about 15 miles off the coast, the deposits were named Gaza Marine 1 and 2. It was estimated that there were sufficient reserves to generate electric power for all Palestinian needs for a decade and still have a surplus to export.

Link to Israeli attack on Gazan fishing boats

- On 11/8/99 Chairman Yasser Arafat signed an agreement giving BG Group 90 percent interest and 10 per cent to Consolidated Contractors Company, an Athens based Palestinian entity connected to the PLO. They and the Palestinian Investment Fund (PIF) had the option to later assume up to 40 per percent interest. A final allocation of the rights continues to be contested between BG Group, Israel, Egypt and the Palestinians in obscured ongoing negotiations.

- July 25, 2000: Yasser Arafat walked out on the Camp David meeting.6

-September 27, 2000: Yasser Arafat traveled 19 miles off the Gaza coast to light the first flare stack flowing up from the natural gas deposit. An Israeli oil consortium had contested the Palestinian rights to the gas but was overturned in an Israeli court. Original estimates for development and production expenses were in the area of 2 billion dollars. Profits were estimated at another 2 billion dollars.

Press TV report: interview on Maritime Activity Zone and EEZ:

In the initial stages BG considered running an underwater pipeline 20 nautical miles from Gaza Marine directly to Gaza where it would be used in retrofitted generators to provide power. Excess gas would be piped to the West Bank or converted to Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) for export to foreign buyers.

This plan was abandoned when Sharon announced that the Israelis would never buy the gas directly from the Palestinians. At that point the BG Group negotiated with Egypt to run an undersea pipeline to a plant at El-Arish. The gas would then be piped to Israel so that they would not have to deal directly with the Palestinians.

Under pressure from Tony Blair BG Group was forced to negotiate with the Israelis instead who wanted the pipe to run directly to Ashqelon. Those discussions were so long and contentious that ultimately the BG Group closed their Israel office and again began dealing with Egypt.[viii]

- September 28, 2000: Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount despite warnings by Arafat and other leading Palestinians. The predictable riots and deaths following this provocation marked the beginning of 2nd Intafada. As a result Sharon was elected Prime Minister in February 2001.9 He reaffirmed that Israel would never buy gas from the Palestinians. After the outbreak of the 2nd Intafada the Israelis began an ever-tightening blockade of Gaza with fewer and fewer trucks and no foreign boats allowed to enter.

- Late 2000: Attacks by Israeli patrol boats against Gazan fishing boats began and have continued to this day. These attacks started only after the discovery of the natural gas deposits and 5 years before Hamas freely won the legislative elections on January 25, 2006.10It is apparent that these assaults on the fishermen had nothing to do with security or with Hamas. Instead it had everything to do with Israel controlling a 4 billion dollar resource belonging to the Palestinians.
More at the Center for Research on Globalization

Masked Israeli settlers and IDF fire on Palestinian civilians in Ourif invasion near Nablus - curfew imposed

NABLUS, (PIC)-- Jewish armed settlers backed by Israeli occupation forces fired at Palestinian citizens in Ourif town, south of Nablus, wounding 13 civilians amidst widespread confrontations between West Bank Palestinians and IOF troops and settlers on Friday.

Local sources in the Ourif village said that six masked settlers opened fire at the citizens wounding six of them, and added that IOF troops then barged into the town, imposed a curfew and fired bullets and teargas canisters wounding seven more citizens.

The IOF command claimed that three guards of the nearby settlement of Yitzhar were wounded when armed Palestinians fired at them.

More at the Palestine Information Center

St George was Palestinian - but not a word of that in UK lest myths be destroyed

St George and Dragon above a door in the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem.
By Stuart Littlewood

April 23 is when we in England celebrate our patron saint, George.

St George and the Dragon are to be seen everywhere in Bethlehem, especially in and around the ancient Church of the Nativity. Many Bethlehem houses have a panel of St George carved in stone and set in the wall above the front door.

Although George is England’s patron saint he never set foot here, and there is much argument about who this warrior-saint was and where he came from. But there are no such doubts in Palestine: George was a Palestinian born at Lydda and brought up in the Christian faith, although some sources insist that he was born in Cappadocea (Turkey) and taken home by his mother to her native Palestine when his father died.

He decided on a soldiering career, joined the Roman army at the time of Emperor Diolcletian and rose to high rank. He became one of the Emperor’s favourites but when Diocletian, a fanatical slave to the Roman gods, began slaughtering innocent Christians George felt it was time to stand up and be counted for his religious beliefs. He denounced the Emperor for cruelty and tore up his orders. Not surprisingly he was imprisoned and tortured.

From the Palestine Chronicle

Medical aid for Gaza arrives headed by Scottish parliamentarian Pauline McNeill

This Scottish medical aid should have arrived sometime ago but the Israelis were obstructing its progress. Israel demanded that the truck carrying aid was unpacked and flown to Tel Aviv for inspection before being allowed into Gaza. See our previous report here
GAZA, (PIC)-- A Scottish parliamentary delegation bringing medical aid to the beleaguered Gaza Strip crossed Thursday the Rafah boarder crossing into the Strip and visited the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) where they held a press conference.

The delegation consisted of Scottish parliament member Pauline McNeill accompanied by Salim Muhammad, Shamim Ahmad and Sadaka Khan of the Higher Islamic Coalition in Scotland.

The delegation was received by PLC members Yahya Mousa and Mushir al-Masri as well as Foreign Ministry undersecretary Dr. Ahmad Yousuf.

Masri, on behalf of Dr. Aziz Dweik, the PLC speaker who is in detention in an Israeli occupation jail, welcomed the delegation whose visit is a step towards breaking the siege on the Gaza Strip and an important step by the Scottish Parliament to urge other Parliaments to put pressure on Israeli occupation to release Palestinian elected parliamentarians.

Masri showed the delegation the devastation caused to the PLC building by the Israeli occupation and put them in the picture on the destruction of homes, medical facilities and mosques caused by the Israeli occupation forces during the war on Gaza.

McNeil, for her part, said that their visit aimed to express solidarity with the Palestinian people and that they brought with them nine truckloads of medical aid and donations from the Scottish people and government to the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.

The delegation will stay for three days during which they will make field trip to areas destroyed by the Israeli occupation during the latest war on Gaza and will meet relatives of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli occupation jails.

McNeil had visited the Strip back in November aboard one of the Free Gaza vessels
Thanks to the Palestine Information Center