Monday, 11 May 2009

Palestinian Authority collaborates with Israel by imprisoning resistance fighters

Hamas on Monday described the PA trial and sentencing of a Hamas member as a "serious precedence" and tantamount to putting the Palestinian resistance on trial.

Fawzi Barhoum, the Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said that the court in Ramallah was acting in concert with the Israeli occupation authorities by arresting resistance fighters, collecting their weapons, smearing the struggle and their reputation.

Such act runs contrary to the Cairo national dialogue talks and are breaking the promises made on the release of political detainees, he charged.

"We view this step with the utmost concern," Barhoum underlined, adding that such steps will only deepen the rift in the Palestinian arena.

A PA military court in Nablus on Sunday sentenced Mohammed Katnani, 33, to one and a half years in jail for owning weapons and establishing armed cells aimed at toppling the PA in Ramallah.

Katnani was arrested on 26 July last year after 18 months in hiding. He was subjected to brutal torture at the hands of PA security apparatus in Junaid prison in Nablus and denied family visits.

Any military court sentence needs to be endorsed by the Palestinian legislative council, which makes this court's verdict null and void.

Egypt blocking UK doctors from Palestine International Medical Aid entering Gaza

The government committee against the siege has denounced the Egyptian authorities for not allowing a British medical team to cross at the Rafah terminal into the Gaza Strip.

The committee issued a statement on Sunday saying that Cairo has been blocking the British delegation from entering Gaza for five days.

It said that the team includes 12 British doctors, recalling that it is the third convoy of this kind to be sent by Palestine International Medical Aid (Pima Palestine).

The delegation of medical specialists is carrying medical equipment needed in Gaza hospitals in addition to medicines, which the first delegation said were in shortage in the Strip.

The medical team left Britain last Saturday and has been stranded at the Rafah terminal's gates despite coordinating with Egyptian authorities before its travel.

The committee urged the Egypt to allow the team members into Gaza to provide its health and humanitarian assistance to the patients and citizens who have been trapped in the besieged Strip for three years.

Meanwhile, the Turkish premier Recep Erdogan is demanding the opening of the Rafah crossing to allow necessary material to help rebuild the devastated Strip.

The committee is asking the world community to pressure Israel into opening all Gaza's commercial crossings.

Italian parliament's deputy speaker invites anti-siege activist to speak

ROME, (PIC)-- Sameh Habib, an activist in the European campaign to end the siege, intends to visit the Italian parliament at the invitation of Luisa Morgantini, the deputy speaker, to talk about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.

Habib said that his visit comes in the context of the efforts to raise the issues of the Israeli blockade and aggression on Gaza in international meetings, noting that he has received several invitations to visit other European countries.

The Palestinian activist added that he has had an invitation to visit the Dutch parliament and would talk at one of the universities there during the coming weeks.

Habib has spoken at dozens of workshops and seminars held over the past two months in Britain.

Death in Rafah's tunnels in struggle for bare necessities of life

I went into her house, the children were in front of the door... what door?! there was no door!

Rami, my friend also an ex-political prisoner released after the massacre, guided me into the modest space

Umm Mohammad was standing ahead

she looked into my eyes

"ahlan wa sahlan" (welcome), she said

...comrade George & I went in...

I sat close to Umm Mohammad, as i listened to her speak about her son... mohammad
mohammad abu m'aammar is the eldest of 9 children. He is 20 years old, & is a student at a college in khan younes. "He was obliged to go work in the tunnels, we are deprived of basic human needs..."
Umm mohammad insisted she was against this work from the start...
"i told him not to go there! not to join the tunnels, it is a dangerous thing to go into... but, he couldn't see it that his sisters & brothers not be able to wear decent clothes, & eat healthy food"
she pointed to a man, shorter than her, who looked as if he was in his late 30s. "this is abu mohammad. he suffered from schizophrenia ever since he was released from the Israeli prisons." abu mohammad comes close, his face grim, years of torture inscribed on his expressionless face...
umm mohammad, & mohammad's grandmother, began talking to me about mohammad & this young man's insistence to work despite all danger threatening his life
"he was not supposed to go in the tunnels. he was supposed to receive things from the opening & take them to respective clients."
it was mohammad's first week, last week... & the day the IOF bombed a nearby tunnel was the day he had decided to go through to bring in some goods... more

Thanks to Moments of Gaza

Seven Other Children misses the point - it's the Palestinians that are the victims

Seven Other Children has been penned by Richard Stirling (pictured) as a response to Caryl Churchill's Gaza play. Churchill has been accused of peddling anti-semitism with her play. The charge seems to revolve around an interpretation of the play sees all Jewish people as somehow being charged with, and responsible for the slaughter in Gaza earlier this year.

But of course the play does no such thing. The problem, to the extent that there is one, arises from the fact that Israel itself describes itself as 'the Jewish state' when of course it is no such thing, given that there is a growing minority of Jewish people that have no truck with Israel and its oppression and warmongering. I haven't seen this new play or had the opportunity to read a transcript but a review of sorts appeared in one of my local papers here in north London and is reproduced in full below.

In tonight's Evening Standard Stirling says that Cooke [Dominic Cooke, artistic director at the Royal Court Theatre] "cited works by Shakespeare and Ibsen as examples of how theatre cannot stand on rules of balance" but goes on to to proclaim, contradictorily, that in the case of Seven Jewish Children, "This is an argument with which I would normally agree, but which I do not accept can be sustained over Ms Churchill's eight-minute polemic." Is that because you disagree with her politically?

Cooke has now threatened to sue Stirling if he refers on stage to the defence of the Royal Court's staging of Churchill's play that he put forward after criticism about the 'lack of balance' in the play.

I suspect Stirling's play wilfully, or otherwise - that's to say through ignorance, misses the point of Seven Jewish Children - that those who have endured the most appalling oppression are now carrying out their own oppression of others, and all in the name of defending a state that has turned into the opposite of its original supposed raison d'etre. If only someone had told the Europeans and Americans that another people already lived in historic Palestine when they handed it over to the Zionists.
By Francine Wolfisz

When Caryl Churchill staged her eight-minute play Seven Jewish Children at the Royal Court Theatre in February, it divided critics and sparked allegations of anti-Semitism.

Now author and actor Richard Stirling has written what he terms his “theatrical response” in the form of Seven Other Children, which opens this week in Hampstead.

Employing the same format as Seven Jewish Children, the response comprises of seven scenes in eight minutes with a cast of nine, which includes Simona Armstrong, known from BBC 1’s How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?

Richard, whose other written works include a bestselling autobiography of Julie Andrews, says he felt compelled to create Seven Other Children after watching a performance of the controversial play.

In seven vignettes, Caryl Chuchill’s piece narrates 70 years of history, from the Holocaust to the present-day conflict in Gaza, through the eyes of Jewish adults discussing what they should tell their children.

The 42-year-old playwright, who lives in central London, explains: “I had heard various disquieting reports about the play and I wanted to see it. When I did, I could understand the reaction.

“I also felt that it was significant that it was called seven “Jewish” not “Israeli” children. For me, that seemed to tilt the scales too much in one direction.”

He adds: “The audience were largely not there to be challenged, but rather to have their prejudices confirmed, and when I stood in the bar afterwards there were comments being made about Jews, not Israelis. Now, is that something that should be encouraged in audience members?”

Richard, who is not Jewish, also criticised Churchill’s work for being “an incomplete narrative”, adding that, “a play in eight minutes is not a debate, it’s just an opportunity to spill your spleen.”

Believing that the piece needed a theatrical response, particularly in light of Churchill’s statement that it was as much theatre as a “political event”, Richard first wrote to Royal Court artistic director Dominic Cook. He replied in a letter to Richard that no balance was needed, stating, “Are A Doll’s House or King Lear fair?”

Richard says: “No response was needed for drama, but this was not a normal piece of drama. It was free of charge and put on by the Royal Court at their own expense to benefit Churchill’s chosen charity, Medical Aid for Palestinians.

“So the assumption was that the Royal Court was lining up behind Caryl not just as an artist, but also as a political activist.”

Spurred on by the feeling that the Royal Court had been “unfair in its favour”, Richard set about researching into the history of the Middle East conflict and wrote Seven Other Children.

The play references such historical events as the British exit from the Palstine Mandate, the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, the Six Day War of 1967 and the recent conflict in Gaza.

As Richard sees it, “the tragedy of the situation in that part of the world is largely due to the miseducation of generations and the cementing of attitudes based not just on politics, but also ancient prejudices.”

Now under the direction of Simone Vause, with the artistic advice of north London actress Maureen Lipman, Richard says he is looking forward to seeing his play on stage at the New End Theatre.

The playwright tells me: “I’ve said what I wanted to say and we have an extremely strong cast, from all different backgrounds, including the Middle East, secular and religious,” adds Richard. “I believe there is a plurality to my cast and my play.”

Richard adds: “What I have written is something vibrant and quite pertinent and I hope that people like me, who felt quite alone after seeing Caryl Churchill’s play, are given some heart by this response.”

Seven Other Children arrives at New End Theatre, Hampstead, from Tuesday, May 5 to Saturday, May 16, 9.50pm. Free. Details: 020 7592 9666 or

From the Haringey Independent

Mubarak shakes the blood-drenched hand of Israel's Netanyahu

Nethanyahu is meeting with Mubarak in Egypt today. The Egyptian regime seems to have no shame. Nethanyahu is being accompanied by Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer who was responsible for killing Egyptian hostages during the Six Day War.

This visit will furhter undermine the standing of the Egyptian government with its own people and elevate it in the eyes of the Zionists. Israel's Barak says Mubarak is a 'stabilising influence'. No, he's a traitor to the Arab cause pure and simple.

Surely Mubarak's days are numbered?

From 3arabawy:
Following the police ban of the 7th Cairo Anti-War Conference (which was scheduled from 14 to 17 May), the Center for Socialists Studies will be holding an alternative one-day event, this Friday 15 May, with the participation of activists from Denmark, Britain, Iraq and Italy.
The Sessions:
11am to 1pm: Presentations and exchanging experiences about the solidarity movement with the Arab resistance, and obstacles facing the movement
2pm to 4pm: The future of the solidarity movement with the resistance
5pm to 7pm: Linking the struggles.. The social questions and the struggle against imperialism

The Center is located 7 Mourad Street, Giza

Tamil civilian dead in Sri Lanka reaches 20,000 says UN - worse than Gaza butchery

Doctors in Sri Lanka say that as many as 1,000 people have died in the northern 'no-fire zone' following two days of shelling by the army, with the UN claiming in a report, leaked in April, that 20,000 civilians died since January.

No country has yet called for a meeting of the security council to at least condemn these appalling massacres or to call for sanctions against Sri Lanka. Not even the Israelis were able to match this death toll in their most recent war against the people of Gaza. An informal meeting of the security council is due to be held soon apparently.

The Sri Lankan authorities have banned journalists from the 'welfare camps' that they have set up for refugees. Families have been split up and no one is being allowed to leave the camps until the army is 'satidfied' that they are not members of the Tamil Tigers (LTTE).

The Sri Lankan government is repeating its lies about Tamil Tigers killing their own people in order to make the government look bad.
Dr Thurairajah Varatharaja, a senior government-appointed medical official, estimated that a total of 1,000 people had died yesterday and said the death toll would rise once today's figures had been tallied.

Varatharaja, the regional health director for Mullaitivu, said there had been heavy shelling last night but fewer attacks today.

He said 378 bodies had been brought to the hospital yesterday and more were lying on the roads and in bunkers civilians had dug in the sand. "Normally, they don't bring the bodies to the hospital," he said.The Sri Lankan government has previously accused Varatharaja of being a "pawn" of the LTTE and said his claims should be disregarded...

...The assault on the so-called no-fire zone started as the Sri Lankan government ordered the tens of thousands of civilians still trapped by the fighting to move into an area just 2km long and 1.5km wide to enable it to flush out the remaining Tamil rebels. more

Tamils are protesting in Parliament Square. Contrary to the Guardian report the protests have been continuous since 6 April and last Friday four people went on hunger strike.

Egypt set to allow 500 Gazans in for medical treatment

As news has come out of the inhuman policies of Israel towards Palestinian prisoners attempting to leave Gaza for medical treatment, Egypt has indicated that it may let up to 500 Gazans in to receive treatment.

The Palestinian Authority has granted visas to allow the Gazans to officially cross into Egypt through the Rafah crossing.

Thanks to the Ma'an News Agency

See our earlier report 'Go back and die in Gaza'

Pope refuses to visit Gaza and backs West's two-states non-solution

The pope has called for a two-state solution in Palestine but is refusing to visit the Gaza Strip, despite the demands of the Popular Committee Against the Siege. While in Jordan he commented:
"Certainly, the contradiction of tensions and divisions between the followers of different religious traditions, sadly, cannot be denied.

"However, is it not also the case that often it is the ideological manipulation of religion, sometimes for political ends, that is the real catalyst for tension and division, and at times even violence in society?"
He should really take a look in the mirror on this one.

Hamas MP, Dr Younis Al-Astal, recently barred from entering Britain in case he embarrasses the UK government by speaking truth to power, has blasted the Jordanian government for welcoming the pope.
"Saying something about Mohammed will not harm him but the governments that hail and welcome the pope with hospitality do more damage than the pope's remarks," Younis al-Astal said.

Al-Astal, who was recently barred from entering the UK,was referring to Benedict's 2006 remarks quoting 14th century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus that Mohammed brought things "only evil and inhuman."

Israeli soldiers run up thousands of pounds on stolen credit card following Gaza war

For the first time since the end of Operation Cast Lead, two Israel Defense Forces soldiers have been arrested on suspicion of plunder in the Gaza Strip, Ynet has learned.

The two fighters, who serve in a Givati Brigades' patrol battalion, are suspected of taking a credit card from a Palestinian house during their activity in Gaza and using the card to purchase products worth thousands of shekels. (Hanan Greenberg) ynetnews

Israel plans 30,000-strong settlement in move to encircle Jerusalem

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has revealed that the Israeli occupation authority is planning to construct a new settlement south of occupied Jerusalem.

The OCHA report on Friday said that Israel will establish 20,000 housing units in this new settlement.

It added that the occupiers would also build 7,000 new housing units in Gush Etzion settlement bloc east of occupied Jerusalem in addition to thousands others in the West Bank.