Sunday, 31 January 2010

UN blames Palestinian Authority for not paying to supply Gaza power plant

GAZA, (PIC)-- The UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs (OCHA) held the Palestinian authority (PA) in Ramallah responsible for Gaza electricity crisis, saying that the PA refrained from paying for industrial fuel used to operate the only power plant in the Gaza Strip.

In its weekly report, the OCHA noted that since the European union’s commitment to fund fuel for the Gaza power plant expired in November 2009, the PA in Ramallah has assumed responsibility for funding.

It said that there are 40,000 people, who live without electricity at all times due to damage incurred to electricity networks during the Israeli military aggression on Gaza.

According to its report, the Gaza energy authority warned that fuel reserves are available for a few additional days and, if no more fuel is delivered in the next days, the power plant will completely shut down.

Israel in PR stunt for Haiti while deliberately flooding Gazan refugee camps

The hypocrisy of Israel sending rescue teams to Haiti while engaging in collective punishment of the people imprisoned in Gaza is quite sickening. Netanyahu brazenly claims it helps Israel to have 'a clean image'. I don't think anyone is fooled. The latest outrage committed against Gazans is the deliberate flooding of refugee camps following the opening of a dam without coordination with the Palestinian side..
So let us get this straight: it is imperative to give Israelis singular credit in saving Haitian children, while ignoring the fact that last year’s assault on Gaza killed hundreds of children and maimed thousands more, not to mention the 360 Lebanese children slaughtered during Israel’s 2006 offensive.

With the American media locked in fierce competition as to who could lavish the most praise on the Israeli military for saving Haiti, another disaster was brewing in Gaza. Israeli officials opened the Al-Wadi dam east of Gaza in the wake of torrential rainfall in the region, flooding the refugee camp of Al-Nusseirat, Johr al-Deek village and al-Mughraqa, a suburb of Gaza City. Villagers provided eyewitness accounts that Israeli forces stationed in the area opened the dam without warning and without coordination with Palestinian civil agencies. Media outlets from Brunei to China to Iran reported the disaster.

According to China’s Xinhua news agency, Israel had constructed the dam to hoard rain water, depriving Gazan farms and villages of this precious resource for years. As the dam was opened, houses that had been built along the dried-up ditch were inundated with flood waters, displacing approximately 100 Gazan families and drowning cattle and poultry. Palestinian Civil Defence Chief Yousef al-Zahar stated “…what happened was a deliberate act by Israel.”


Assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh will 'move battle outside Palestine'

China news agency describes the assassination of al-Mabhouh as murder and Hamas has made it clear that it will seek revenge by also extending the war of liberation beyond the Palestinian territories.
GAZA, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Hamas officials as well as observers expected on Saturday that the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a senior Islamic Hamas movement commander in Dubai on Jan. 20, " would sooner or later move the battle between Hamas and Israel outside the Palestinian territories."

They said the ambiguous assassination of al-Mabhouh might be "a new turn" in the military confrontation between Hamas and Israel, that could develop to mutual avenge attacks in some Arab and foreign countries. Hamas has directly accused the Israeli Mosad ( foreign intelligence) for being behind his death.

Observers close to Hamas said that the movement hasn't yet expressed full commitment to a declared ceasefire with Israel after last winter's "Cast Lead" Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip, adding that al-Mabhouh's murder in Dubai "would oblige Hamas to respond to his killing."

Mustafa al-Sawaf, a Gaza-based political analyst, specialized in Hamas affairs expected that "Hamas response to the killing of al-Mabhouh, who has a high-ranking position in Hamas armed wing, would be equal to an assassination of a senior Israeli leader."

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Mother of Mahmud Abdel Rauf al-Mabhuh holds his picture in mourning

The mother of Mahmud Abdel Rauf al-Mabhuh, one of the founders of Hamas' military wing holds his picture at her home in the northern Gaza Strip refugee camp of Jabalia. Mahmud Abdel Rauf al-Mabhuh died in Dubai, on the 20th of January under suspicious circumstances. Jabalia, Gaza Strip, Palestine Territory. 28/01/2010.

The Islamist Hamas movement blamed Israel for Mabhuh's January 20 death and his brother Fayeq said he was killed by electrocution. Hamas has vowed to retaliate proclaiming Mabhuh a martyr.

“We hold Israel responsible for the assassination of our brother and leader” Hamas has said in a statement.

There was no immediate Israeli reaction to the accusation.

Born in Jabalia in 1960, Mabhuh was one of the founders of Hamas's Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza Strip. Photo By Abed Rahim Khatib

From Demotix

Gaza protesters in UK face trial for standing up for justice

by Siân Ruddick

The cases against people relating to the demonstrations in support of Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009 are continuing.

Eighteen defendants appeared in court on Wednesday of last week.

Some have more than one charge brought against them.

All face at least one charge of violent disorder.

There are over 50 cases that have gone to the crown court either for trial or sentencing.

Miriam Hamid, Nizamul Jalal and Sulaph Ridha are all accused of violent disorder relating to an incident in Starbucks cafe on Shaftesbury Avenue on 17 January 2009.

Sulaph was the only one of them to plead not guilty.

The prosecution pointed the judge to the sentencing of Layla Lahouidek, 19, and Bana Hablegiorge, 20, as a guideline.

The two women were sentenced to 15 months in prison after the same incident.

Judge Denniss warned many of the defendants that “it is extremely likely that you will receive a custodial sentence which will deprive you of your liberty.”

The judge recommended that the barrister for Andris Feodorous, pleading guilty to violent disorder, read the judgments of the trials after the Bradford riots in 2002.

Judgements then saw around 50, mostly young Asian men, given heavy prison sentences.

Thanks to Socialist Worker

Belgian government minister protests being banned from Gaza visit by Israel

So much for Israel being the only democracy in the Middle East.
A BELGIAN politician has lodged an angry protest after the Israeli government intervened to prevent him from visiting Gaza.
Development minister Charles Michel has insisted European officials must be able to visit the territory because they have aid projects there.

"This situation is unacceptable," Mr Michel said in a television interview yesterday.

Israel routinely bans foreign officials from crossing into Gaza, maintaining that such visits bolster the Islamic Hamas rulers of Gaza.


Court forces Palestinian family out of home of 80 years to give to settlers

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- An Israeli court has forced a Palestinian family out of their Jerusalem home. The home has been in the family for 80 years but the Israeli court decided that settlers 'own half the house'.

The court also fined the true owners of the house, Palestinian citizen Fatima Al-Dahoodi 5,000 US dollars, in addition to forcing her to pay 1,750 US dollars for alleged contempt charges. The court had threatened to jail Fatima in this latest episode in an on-going campaign of ethnic cleansing against Arabs in the city.

Zuhair al-Dahoodi, husband of Fatima, disclosed that the court asked them to surrender the key of the house after they become “no longer the only owners of the house”, and that the Israeli settlers have the full right to live in it.

“I and my family have been living in this house for 80 years now even before the coming of the Jewish settlers to our country, so I wonder how the house suddenly became owned by the settlers”, underlined the outraged Palestinian Jerusalemite.

Thanks to PIC

Friday, 29 January 2010

Israel sends letter to UN general secretary trying to defend the indefensible

JERUSALEM — Israel sent a letter to the United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, on Friday, defending the credibility of its internal military investigation into the Israeli army’s conduct during last winter’s Gaza war.

The 40-page document was the first Israeli official response to a harshly critical United Nations study called the Goldstone report and formed part of Israel’s effort to stave off accusations of war crimes.


Mahmoud al-Mabhouh assassinated by 'European passport holders' says Dubai

Dubai authorities say they have identified the murderers of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, as "European passport holder", according to the BBC. His funeral in Damascus was attended by tens of thousands of mourners. Hamas accuses Mossad of killing al-Mabhou.


Israel backs down and now claims sending report to UN

Israel has missed the deadline to get its report to the UN but it now says, according to the defence minister, that it will be sending a report after all. It seems Israel's arrogance is clouding the judgment of its leaders, and now they have decided that perhaps they have over-stepped the mark by showing such disrespect to international governmental bodies.
As a deadline neared, Israel will hand to the United Nations Friday a report justifying its actions during last year's Gaza campaign and rebutting the so-called "Goldstone Report" as biased.

At a tree-planting ceremony southern Israel Friday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak confirmed that the response would be handed over and said, "This report stresses that the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) is like no other army, both from a moral standpoint as well as from a professional standpoint.


Israel's attorney general fears growing isolation of country after Gaza war

Israel's attorney general fears that his country faces 'Serbianization' by which he means it will be seen as an outcast among nations, unless it makes the pretence of at least holding an 'independent' inquiry into the Gaza war. The Goldstone report is hurting Israel big time and the more far-sighted among the leadersip are belated recognising this fact.
The Goldstone report is a serious threat to Israel that will "continue to haunt us and take away our legitimacy," outgoing Attorney General Menachem Mazuz told Haaretz in an interview.

"There is a danger here of a 'Serbianization' of Israel," even though the report on the Gaza war was biased and contains unsubstantiated conclusions, Mazuz said. "Therefore I believe that Israel has a clear interest in conducting a serious, expert examination that will deal with the report and produce an opposing report. It would be a serious mistake not to establish some sort of committee. We must remove the shame of accusing Israel of being a country that commits war crimes."


Mossad torture to death Hamas leader Rauf al-Mabhuh

Mossad have been up to their grisly tricks again - this time hunting down and torturing to death leading Hamas quartermaster, Mahmud Abdel Rauf al-Mabhu, while he was in Dubai.
GAZA CITY — A top Hamas leader who died in Dubai earlier this month was killed by electric shock after an electrical appliance was held to his head, one of his brothers said on Friday, blaming Israeli agents.

He said that Mahmud Abdel Rauf al-Mabhuh, who was in charge of obtaining weapons for Hamas, was in Dubai on a mission for the Islamist movement.

"The first results of a joint investigation by Hamas and the (United Arab) Emirates show he was killed by an electrical appliance that was held to his head," Fayed al-Mabhuh told AFP by telephone.

"Material was sent to a Paris laboratory which confirmed he was killed by electric shock."


Blair lied and thousands died - Chilcot demo pic

Send Blair to prison for his war crimes against Iraqis

Video: Blair the war criminal at the Chilcot inquiry - Stop the War demo

Tony Blair the war criminal came back to Westminster today to atone for his crimes against humanity. See another video link here

Will the inquiry hold him to account? Don't make me laugh - this is the same British establishment that backed the war in the first place. Indeed the same people who now tell us they woon't release the papers relating too the death of Dr Kelly for 60 years.

What kind of sham democracy do we live under?

Thursday, 28 January 2010

IDF tanks shell eastern Gaza City and border

The International Middle East Media Center reports Israeli tanks shelled areas of Gaza City Thursday afternoon. Fortunately no casualties have been reported although there was damage to property.

Second UN report on Gaza due from UN General Assembly

Tomorrow (Friday 29 January) marks the end of the three-month deadline for the UN General Assembly to report on the Gaza War. The Assembly called for the report in response to the recommendation of the Goldstone Report, on behalf of the UN Human Rights Council, that its report be discussed by the Assembly and prosecutions then sought through the International Criminal Court at the Hague. It's not clear if Secretary Ban - who was asked to consider the results of investigations by Israel and the Palestinians that were recommended by Goldstone - will say whether he is in a position to make a statement. Israel refused to co-operate with any UN-led inquiry or to carry out an investigation.

Lawyers call for prosecution of Israeli war criminals

THE HAGUE, (PIC)-- International law expert and lawyer in the Palestinian center for human rights Dara Murray stressed on Monday the need for activating the prosecution of Israeli war criminals through invoking the international jurisdiction and implementing the recommendations of Goldstone report.

During his participation in a conference held in Netherlands, Murray underlined that Israel is characterized by two properties represented in its continuing and escalating violations of international law and the immunity it is granted to cover up for its crimes against the Palestinian people.

He added that Israel’s persistence in committing violations against the Palestinians was clearly demonstrated by its attacks on the Gaza Strip over the past years.

A number of European lawmakers and international figures including Karen Abu Zayd, the former commissioner-general of the UNRWA, participated in this conference on international law and Gaza.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

US Democrats call for lifting of Gaza blockade in 'unprecedented' move

54 members of the US Congress, in an unprecedented move according to MJ Rosenberg writing on the Huffington Post, are calling for the lifting of the inhuman blockade against the people of Gaza.
* Movement of people, especially students, the ill, aid workers, journalists, and those with family concerns, into and out of Gaza;

* Access to clean water, including water infrastructure materials,

* Access to plentiful and varied food and agricultural materials;

* Access to medicine and health care products and suppliers;

* Access to sanitation supplies, including sanitation infrastructure materials;

* Access to construction materials for repairs and rebuilding;

* Access to fuel;

* Access to spare parts;

* Prompt passage into and out of Gaza for commercial and agricultural goods; and

* Publication and review of the list of items prohibited to the people of Gaza.

In short, the courageous 54 want the blockade lifted.


Israel rejects international demands for Gaza War inquiry

Israel will not be following the Goldstone report recommendations and opening an inquiry into its Gaza war crimes. Now there's a surprise.
JERUSALEM: Israel will not set up a special panel to investigate last winter’s Gaza offensive, a Cabinet minister said Tuesday, rejecting a key demand of a UN report that accused the military of war crimes.

Information Minister Yuli Edelstein said Israel would submit a document to the UN later this week that deals only with Israel’s own investigations of its conduct during the three-week war. Those investigations have been conducted by the military, which has exonerated itself of any systematic wrongdoing. “To the best of my knowledge, there is no intention to create an investigative committee,” Edelstein told Israel Radio, saying he had checked with his colleagues in the Cabinet.


Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Israel accuses Turkish prime minister of anti-semitism

For daring to critcise Israel's policy of blockade and war the Turkish prime minister Erdogan has been accused of anti-semitism in a report partially leaked to Haaretz.
"He does this by repeating motifs in his speeches of describing the suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza and blaming Israel of committing war crimes, going as far as using anti-Semitic expressions and incitement,
No example of this supposed anti-semitic language is cited.
The Washington Post quotes the Turkish foreign minister rejecting the accusation:
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu rejected the charge. "To criticize Israel is not anti-Semitism," he told independent NTV television. "Criticism of Israel's policies should not be given other meanings." He called on Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza.
This latest spat between Israel and Turkey is bound to further sour relations but Israel seems to be taking the calculated risk of losing it's only Muslim ally of any weight.

Israel tourists visiting Turkey has crashed by 45% over the past year alone in yet another sign of the faltering relationship.

Israel's habit of confusing opposition to zionism and the oppression of the Palestinian population with anti-semitism convinces fewer and fewer people and is a sign of its desperation and isolation.

And just to show that it isn't picking on Turkey, Israel is also accusing the United Nations of being anti-semitic because of the Goldstone report.

Monday, 25 January 2010

UNRWA says Gaza in state of psychological and physical collapse

From Voice of America
The U.N. Relief and Works Agency says Gaza is in a state of physical and psychological collapse.

The Israeli blockade of Gaza has been going on for 30 months. The U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which cares for one million Palestinian refugees in Gaza, says the territory is receiving only 20 percent of the goods it got before the blockade was imposed.

UNRWA says the ongoing blockade of Gaza's borders has caused the private sector to collapse and unemployment and poverty to rise to unprecedented levels.


Israel says it will keep parts of West Bank 'for eternity'

Quite why anyone still has any hopes of the so-called peace process delivering anything other than more humiliation and oppression for the Palestinian people should have been clear for all to see on Sunday (24 Jan). US 'peace' envoy Mitchell met Netanyahu for talks. Netanyahu made it clear to the US politician that Israel intends to hold on to the West Bank 'for eternity'.
rime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged on Sunday that Israel would keep parts of the West Bank forever, planting trees in a settlement bloc to reaffirm a land claim long rooted in Israeli government policy. “Our message is clear: We are planting here, we will stay here, we will build here, this place will be an inseparable part of the state of Israel for eternity,” Netanyahu said in the Gush Etzion enclave.

Speaking after meeting US President Barack Obama’s Middle East envoy in occupied Jerusalem, Netanyahu vowed Israel would also keep its two biggest West Bank settlements, Maale Adumim and Ariel.


Lebanese protest Egypt's steel wall of shame

From the English language Daily Star in Beirut. A new organisation to protest the building of the wall and the participation of Arab-owned building contractors, called the Campaign to Stop the Wall of Shame, was formed in Lebanon last Thursday.
BEIRUT: A protest outside the Egyptian Embassy in Beirut on Sunday descended into violent clashes with riot police, causing at least three injuries. Some 200 people, mobilized by the Union of Lebanese Democratic Youth (UDLY), gathered for the third time in as many weeks to protest Egypt’s decision to construct an underground steel wall along its border with the besieged Gaza Strip.

Palestinians often use tunnels to smuggle food, medicine and construction materials into the Strip, which has been under Israeli blockade for four years.

Protesters with Palestinian keffiyeh scarves wrapped around their heads unfurled a giant Palestinian flag. One poster read: “The high one built the high dam, the low one built the low dam,” with the former referencing former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser who built the Aswan Dam...

...On Thursday, the newly-formed movement The Campaign to Stop the Wall of Shame held a conference in Beirut to condemn the role of the Arab Contractors construction company in the building of the wall.

Mubarak seeks to justify his Gaza wall crime

Words of wisdom from dictator of Egypt, Mubarak. His attempts to justify his collaboration with Israel in the starving of Palestinians will convince no-one, except maybe the policemen he was talking to.
"The works and reinforcements on our eastern border are a matter of Egyptian sovereignty. We do not accept a debate on the issue with anyone," Mubarak said in a speech to mark Police Day.

"It is the right of the Egyptian state, and even its duty, its responsibility. It is the right of every state to control and protect its borders," he added.

Khaled Meshaal, exiled leader of the Palestinian Hamas movement which has controlled Gaza since June 2007, recently called on Egypt to halt construction of the barrier.

"What we do not accept, and will not accept, is that we take our borders lightly, or that our territory is violated or that our soliders or installations are targetted," Mubarak said.

"We continue with the construction and reinforcements on our border, not to please anyone, but to protect our national security from violations and from terrorist acts such as those in Taba, Sharm el-Sheikh, Dahab and Cairo," he added.


Friday, 22 January 2010

UN slams Israel for deteriorating Gaza healthcare

27 people died last year while waiting for permits to leave Gaza to seek medical treatment.
GAZA CITY — The United Nations on Wednesday said it was "deeply concerned" about the deterioration of the health care system in the Gaza Strip due to Israeli closures of the Hamas-ruled territory.

A year after Israel's devastating offensive in Gaza the borders of the impoverished territory remain mostly sealed, preventing hundreds of patients each month from leaving to receive timely advanced care, officials said.

"We are deeply concerned about the current health system in Gaza and in particular its capacity and ability to deliver proper standards of health care to the people of Gaza," UN Humanitarian Coordinator Max Gaylard said.

"This adverse situation is not like Haiti. Haiti has been destroyed by an earthquake," he told reporters at Gaza's main Al-Shifa hospital. "The circumstances here are entirely man-made and can be fixed accordingly."

Israel tightened sanctions on Gaza in June 2007 after the Islamist Hamas movement seized power, sealing the territory of 1.5 million people off from all but vital humanitarian aid and strictly limiting travel into and out of Gaza.


Monday, 18 January 2010

Sign the Cairo Declaration for Gaza now

During the aborted Gaza freedom march in Cairo the international delegates (of which there were representatives from nearly 40 countries) came together to try and form an international network under the framework of what is being called the "Cairo declaration". This was initiated by the COSATU representatives from South Africa trade unions.

Here is the declaration:

We support the Cairo Declaration of the Gaza Freedom March, which reads as follows:
End Israeli Apartheid - Cairo Declaration - January 1, 2010

We, international delegates meeting in Cairo during the Gaza Freedom March 2009 in collective response to an initiative from the South African delegation, state:
In view of:

* Israel’s ongoing collective punishment of Palestinians through the illegal occupation and siege of Gaza;
* the illegal occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the continued construction of the illegal Apartheid Wall and settlements;
* the new Wall under construction by Egypt and the US which will tighten even further the siege of Gaza;
* the contempt for Palestinian democracy shown by Israel, the US, Canada, the EU and others after the Palestinian elections of 2006;
* the war crimes committed by Israel during the invasion of Gaza one year ago;
* the continuing discrimination and repression faced by Palestinians within Israel;
* and the continuing exile of millions of Palestinian refugees;
* all of which oppressive acts are based ultimately on the Zionist ideology which underpins Israel;
* in the knowledge that our own governments have given Israel direct economic, financial, military and diplomatic support and allowed it to behave with impunity;
* and mindful of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (2007)

We reaffirm our commitment to:

* Palestinian Self-Determination
* Ending the Occupation
* Equal Rights for All within historic Palestine
* The full Right of Return for Palestinian refugees

We therefore reaffirm our commitment to the United Palestinian call of July 2005 for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) to compel Israel to comply with international law.
To that end, we call for and wish to help initiate a global mass, democratic anti-apartheid movement to work in full consultation with Palestinian civil society to implement the Palestinian call for BDS.
Mindful of the many strong similarities between apartheid Israel and the former apartheid regime in South Africa, we propose:

1. An international speaking tour in the first 6 months of 2010 by Palestinian and South African trade unionists and civil society activists, to be joined by trade unionists and activists committed to this programme within the countries toured, to take mass education on BDS directly to the trade union membership and wider public internationally;
2. Participation in the Israeli Apartheid Week in March 2010;
3. A systematic unified approach to the boycott of Israeli products, involving consumers, workers and their unions in the retail, warehousing, and transportation sectors;
4. Developing the Academic, Cultural and Sports boycott;
5. Campaigns to encourage divestment of trade union and other pension funds from companies directly implicated in the Occupation and/or the Israeli military industries;
6. Legal actions targeting the external recruitment of soldiers to serve in the Israeli military, and the prosecution of Israeli government war criminals; coordination of Citizen’s Arrest Bureaux to identify, campaign and seek to prosecute Israeli war criminals; support for the Goldstone Report and the implementation of its recommendations;
7. Campaigns against charitable status of the Jewish National Fund (JNF).

We appeal to organisations and individuals committed to this declaration to sign it and work with us to make it a reality.

Here is a piece on how this declaration came about.

Sign this declaration and encourage others to do so:

Video: Gaza Freedom Marcher speaks out

More at The Real News

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Galloway to Mubarak: you aint seen nothing yet

Tinpot tyrant ain't seen nothing yet

By George Galloway

I have been in a few dangerous places in my life. In the mid 80s along with an ITN news crew I was bombed by the Ethiopian air force.
My face pressing into the dirt, with no cover around, I saw the shrapnel tear and kill small children and watched others die on a wooden table in a grass hut after they bombers had gone.

I have been bombed by Israel in Beirut and held with an Israeli machine gun at my chest in Nablus during the first Iraq war.

Involuntarily, I put my hands up and the blue-eyed blonde "Israeli" said that if I didn't put my hands down he would kill me.

I've never, however, been in a more dangerous situation than last week in the tiny Sinai port of Al Arish to which the Egyptian dictatorship had insisted we bring our convoy.

Five hundred foreigners from 17 different nationalities with 200 vehicles were crammed into a compound without water, food or toilet facilities. They included 10 Turkish MPs one of whom was the chairman of Turkey's foreign relations committee.

We captured on film from a third floor office the thugs of the Mukhabarat (Intelligence) piling stones and sharpening their sticks behind the backs of several ranks of riot police with helmets, batons and shields. Then mayhem.

We may have complaints about our police, but I tell you, when you see policemen hurling half-bricks into a crowd of women and men who'd come to deliver medicine to desperate people under siege, you thank your lucky stars we don't live in such a state. Fifty five of our 500 were wounded and, but for the shocking effect on Arab public opinion (our own media didn't give a damn) of the live footage (all on Youtube now), we might still be there yet.

Next day, the dictatorship wanted us on our way. We refused to leave without our wounded comrades and the seven of our number who had been taken prisoner. After another stand-off our demands were met and we proceeded to a tumultuous welcome in Gaza our numbers complete. Word came to me from inside the Egyptian tyranny that I was to be arrested when we came out. Had that happened while I was surrounded by 500 pumped up convoy members there would have been serious trouble.

So I sent them the message that I would come out in the dead of the night before and face the music alone but for my old friend Scots journalist Ron McKay.
McKay is a thriller writer these days but what happened next would have taxed even his imagination.

We emerged into the hands of a grim phalanx of mainly plain clothed secret policemen, none of whom could speak English. They tried to keep our passports but we refused to budge without them - even though there was menace in the air, or perhaps because of it.
They bundled us into an unmarked van which they refused to let us climb out of, at one stage man-handling us.

An Egyptian gumshoe journalist from the Daily News tried to interview us but he was battered away.

We were driven off at speed. I knew we were not going to be killed as we were able to make the necessary calls - well at least the call to the Press Association which makes all the difference in these situations.

We made the formal call to the British Foreign Office but it wasn't worth the money. During the five-hour journey to Cairo the British diplomats did nothing but tell us to co-operate.

That co-operation was difficult as the police could speak no English and were saying nothing.

Word came from London that Nile News, a mouthpiece of the dictatorship, were reporting in the morning the seven convoy prisoners we had released at al Arish were to be re-arrested on emerging from Gaza.

Thus the bloodbath we sought to avoid now looked inevitable. We demanded to return to the Gaza-Egypt border but were refused. At Cairo airport we refused to enter the terminal and tried to hail a taxi to take us back.

Security forces goons pushed us physically into the airport building and gave close quarter attention to both of us, even in the toilet. They followed us everywhere and when McKay took a picture there was nearly a serious incident. They ushered us up to the entrance of the BA plane and the first English speaker of the night stepped forward to declare me persona non grata in Egypt.

I made my own declaration to him which was that he and his fellow torturers would one day face the wrath of the Egyptian people, who had queued up at the airport in full view of the goons, to shake hands with us. Later, his department stated I had been banned from Egypt because I was "a trouble-maker". Mr Tinpot tyrant 99.99%-of-the-vote Mubarak, you ain't seen nothing yet.

From George Galloway's blog on the Daily Record

Israel takes a leaf out of the book of European fascists in war on Africans

'Democratic' and 'civilised' Israel has made it clear, by announcing the building of an electrified fence along its Sinai border, that it intends to step up its war on African people in order to safeguard the 'Jewish character' of the state.
Jerusalem – Border walls are the latest fever in the Middle East. It's not only Egypt, Israel is now playing its trump card in the escalating battle to stop asylum seekers and refugees reaching the country from Sinai. It plans to erect a system of fences and electronic devices along the 266 kilometer long border with Egypt.

The refugees from Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and other African countries pose nothing less than an existential threat to Israel, according to the government.

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the fence will thwart those bent on carrying out terrorist acts, he makes no secret that its main purpose is to stop the flow of African asylum seekers. He claims they will ''flood'' Israel unless the fence is built, calling into question its Jewish majority.

''We are talking about a strategic decision to guarantee the Jewish and democratic character of the state of Israel,'' Netanyahu said.

Israel humiliates Turkish ambassador and then apologises

Israel's strategic defeat in last years Gaza war is underlined by its plummeting relations with Turkey. The latest episode in the growing apart of these erstwhile allies involves Israel's deliberate humiliation of the Turkish ambassador to the country, Ahmet Oguz Celikkol. The ambassador was called in for a meeting with Israel's deputy foreign minister over Israel's displeasure about a Turkish TV drama that dared to portray the Israeli Defence Force realistically - that's to say as war criminals.

The Turkish ambassador was made to sit in a chair deliberately lower than the diplomats on the Israeli side, and the Zionist's flag was placed on a table in the middle in order to show who was boss - no Turkish flag.

The incident is odd given that Israel is meant to be sending its racist foreign minister to Turkey on a visit. If I was the Turks I would tell them to forget it. In fact Turkey has now threatened to withdraw its ambassador from Israel. Israel has now apologised to Turkey for what it calls a breach of 'diplomatic manners'.

More on the fallout on Haaretz
And from the Turkish (right-wing) point of view see Hurriyet
Yet the way Israel has chosen to react is not only disproportionate, but despicable. If the intended purpose is to halt Turkish criticisms, not only will it not work, but it could have the reverse effect of escalating tensions between the two countries. This incident will infuriate even those who have been critical of Erdoğan’s policies on Israel.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Egyptian opposition activists protest against Mubarak's Gaza wall

From Earth Times
Cairo - Egyptian opposition activists on Monday protested the government's reported construction of an underground wall along the country's border with the Gaza Strip. Dozens of protesters gathered outside the Lawyers' Syndicate in central Cairo, carrying posters of former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel-Nasser and placards accusing Israel and the United States of being behind the construction of the barrier.

Others held signs accusing Egypt of isolating the Gaza Strip for the benefit of Israel.

The protesters chanted slogans calling on Egypt to stop building the wall and calling on Arab countries to stand with the people of Gaza.

Egyptian riot police surrounded the demonstrators to prevent them from spilling into the streets, but made no move to disperse the crowd. more

Resistance retaliates with rocket fire after killing of Islamic Jihad fighters

A Qassam rocket fired by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip struck the Western Negev on Monday, a day after an Israel Air Force assault killed three Islamic Jihad men posed at a launching ground in the coastal territory. more
Hamas, which has been trying to rein in other resistance groups to being a halt to all rocket fire, is probably none to pleased with the escalating fighting.

Israel preparing for second Gaza war in move to take tunnel corridor

Stories today in the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz indicate that Israel is seriously considering another invasion of Gaza. This form the Post:
The IDF is prepared for the possibility that in a future conflict with Hamas it will be ordered by the government to take over the Philadelphi Corridor in the southern Gaza Strip, which is lined with hundreds of weapons smuggling tunnels, defense officials said on Sunday.

Plans for such an operation have been drawn up and would likely include the deployment of several units in the southern Gaza town of Rafah and along the 14-kilometer strip of land called the Philadelphi Corridor under which Hamas has dug several hundred tunnels that are used to smuggle weapons and explosives into the Strip.

Such an operation would be designed to prevent Hamas from rearming following the larger conflict. It would require troops to go house-to-house in Rafah to search for tunnels and to destroy them. There is also the possibility that following such an operation, the IDF would retain a presence in southern Rafah to prevent the re-digging of the tunnels.

The IDF believes that since Cast Lead ended in mid-January 2009, Hamas has significantly boosted its military capabilities and has obtained long-range rockets, mostly from Iran. One of these rockets was recently tested by Hamas and has a range of more than 60 km., which means it could hit Tel Aviv.

In addition, Hamas is believed to have obtained advanced, mostly Russian-made anti-tank missiles and shoulder-to-air missiles and is reportedly trying to get its hands on an anti-ship missile that would enable it to prevent the navy from attacking Gaza from the Mediterranean. more

And Bradley Burston over at Haaretz is worried. Under the headline 'The looming war in Gaza: Can Obama stop it before it starts?', he draws attention to the 'coolly terrifying analysis' by Yom Tov Samia, former overall Israeli military commander of the Gaza Strip and the adjacent Negev, referred to above.
If last year's brutal fighting is any indication - and there is every reason to believe that it is - a full-on drive to prevent the looming Israel-Hamas confrontation in the Strip belongs at the top tier of Obama's already staggering pile of priorities.

Another Gaza war, this one likely to be an even more bitter onslaught, could not only prove lethal to what is left of Israeli moral credibility, it could undermine and cripple Obama's military-political offensives in Iraq, Afghanistan and, slipping further down the slope, Yemen.

Fatwa against Egypt's steel wall as Israel announces new fence on Egyptian border

A Fatwa has been issued by the Islamic Brotherhood in Jordan against Egypt's steel wall being erected at the border with Gaza. Israel, not wanting to be left has announced that it too is building a wall, in addition to the apartheid barrier already under construction in the West Bank. It intends to build a fence along its border with Egypt to keep out migrants and arms from crossing the frontier.

Anger is rising across the Arab world at the open collaboration of the Egyptian dictatorship with the zionist regime.
"The Egyptian authorities are ...increasing the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza by building the steel wall and closing the border crossings with Gaza," Hamzah Mansour, a member of the Shura Council of the IAF, told Xinhua Sunday. more

More Israeli airstrikes as three more resistance fighters killed

Another three resistance fighters killed by IDF on Sunday. The fighters were from Islamic Jihad and the organisation has since issued a statement calling for unity among the resistance groups.
After the airstrike, Muawiya Hassanein, chief of Gaza emergency services, said the bodies of three men were taken to a hospital in the town. They were all members of the militant group Islamic Jihad, he said.

The Israeli military said one of the dead, whom they identified as Awad Abu Nasir, was a senior Islamic Jihad field commander behind a string of attacks on Israel.

Islamic Jihad issued a call for all Palestinian “resistance factions to unite against the enemy.” more

Friday, 8 January 2010

Two bodies recovered from tunnels after Israel air raid

Yet another Israeli air strike - this time on the tunnels. A Palestinian teenager is reported to have been decapitated. Israel seems to be ratcheting up its pitiless war of attrition against the people of Gaza. Another body has also been dug out - a victim from earlier strikes.
Smugglers were working in the tunnel when the incident happened. A number of workers are still trapped in the underground tunnel.

Medical sources said the dead was a teenager, whose head was separated from his body.

Four earlier Israeli air strikes took place, targeting open spaces and a training site for the Islamic Hamas movement, security sources and witnesses said.

The Israeli army started the attacks around midnight, and said that the targeted places were used by Palestinian militants to produce, store and fire rockets into Israel. more

Anti-Wall activists beaten and gassed at Bilin protest

Peaceful anti-apartheid wall protesters are gassed, again, at Bilin.
Some 300 Palestinians and left-wing activists protested against the separation fence west of Ramallah on Friday. Some 100 of them clashed with security forces near the village of Bilin and threw stones at them. The forces used crowd dispersal means.

Another 200 protesters clashed with security forces near the village of Nilin and threw stones at the forces, who responded with crowd control means. There were no reports of injures in either incident. ynetnews(Efrat Weiss)

Meanwhile human rights activist Jamal Juma remains in detention without charge following the round up of anti-wall activists a few weeks ago.
On Monday January 4, at a military hearing in Ramallah, an Israeli court extended the detention of human rights activist Jamal Juma' for a further three days. Despite being held for 20 days, no charges have yet been brought against Jamal.

A solidarity demonstration had been planned for Jamal's hearing. In addition several consular representatives, concerned at the ongoing arrest of anti-Wall leaders, had planned to attend the hearing. In response, Israeli authorities surreptitiously moved the proceedings from Jerusalem to the Ofer prison near Ramallah the evening prior to the hearing and changed the time of the hearing.

Despite these measures, almost 50 people had obtained access to the court room, located in a makeshift mobile home at Ofar prison. Diplomats from Europe and beyond, Palestinian civil society leaders from within the Green Line, and Israeli and international supporters were all present.

Jamal was able to address the crowd prior to the hearing, stating, "This case is not only about me. It is an attack on those that are standing up against the wall and the occupation." more at the Stop the Wall Campaign

George Galloway deported from Egypt by Mubarak dictatorship

George Galloway has been deported from Egypt, according to the BBC. This is the first time that the Viva Palestina convoy has been reported on the homepage of the BBC's main national news website.Apparently George has been declared persona non grata - which he should take as a source of pride. The Mubarak regime yet again shows what a rotten collaborationist gang of thugs it is.
British MP George Galloway has been deported from Egypt, say activists working with him to take an aid convoy into Gaza.

The Bow and Bethnal Green MP had been with international activists trying to take 200 aid trucks into the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Egypt had refused some of the vehicles access and there have been protests and clashes on the Egypt-Gaza border.

The state news agency says Mr Galloway has left Egypt and returned home.

There have also been reports the Respect MP has been declared "persona non grata" and will not be allowed to enter Egypt again, following his criticism of Cairo over delays to the aid convoy. more

Israel to compensate UN for war damage to facilities

For the first time since its occupation of Palestine began in 1948 the zionist regime has agreed to pay compensation for the damage it has caused to UN facilities. Unfortunately it is unlikely Israel will be paying reparations to the Palestinian people for the theft of their land and the wanton killings and destruction of property they have been engaged in for many decades. Nevertheless the fact that Israel has taken this step is a testament to the international pressure it is under following its most recent war on Gaza and potentially opens the door to claims by parties other than the UN.
Israel has agreed in principle to reimburse losses the United Nations suffered during the Gaza war a year ago, a UN spokesman said on Thursday.

Spokesman Martin Nesirky declined to give a figure or other details of the accord. A UN inquiry last year put the cost of damage to UN property in Gaza during the December 2008 - January 2009 conflict at over $11 million, almost all of it caused by Israeli forces. more at Ynetnews

Airstrikes kill three Palestinians as resistance shows off anti-tank weapons

Another cowardly Israeli air strike has killed three Palestinians. It follows the dropping of thousands of flyers along the border yesterday. Israel says its is in response to Palestinian mortar fire, but as usual no Israelis have been killed in the past week and now a total of nine Palestinians.

The al-Qasssam Brigades resistance fighters have put on show new anti-tank weapons and missiles:
The photos showed the missiles were Tandem, RPG-29 anti-armor missiles and "Rocket 107."

The brigades said they used each of those weapons for only one time in January 2009 when the Israeli ground operation was underway. more

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Israel's drops warning flyers as it prepares new outrages against Gaza

Israel claims its so-called 'Iron Dome' anti-missile system aimed at preventing rockets fired from Gaza getting through to targets in Israel, has been successfully tested and will be deployed in May. At the same time the settler state has issued a warning to Gaza residents - delivered by flyers dropped from the sky - not to go within 300 meters of the border fence as they no doubt prepare for more outrages against the population. Haaretz also reports that in addition to mortar fire an anti-tank missile was fired at IDF troops.

How a holocaust survivor became a fighter for Palestine

LA Times has a great article profiling holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein who we've featured on this blog before about her commitment to the cause of justice for Palestine
Hedy Epstein is what some might see as a contradiction in terms: a survivor of the Holocaust and also a staunch advocate for the Palestinian people. Born in 1924 in Freiburg, Germany, Epstein was 14 when she escaped from Nazi persecution via the Kinderstransport to England. Since her 1948 arrival in the U.S., Epstein has been an advocate for peace and human rights.

In 2001 she founded the St. Louis chapter of the Women in Black anti-war group that originated in Israel, and has actively advocated for Palestinian rights since visiting the West Bank in 2003. As the last decade came to a close, Epstein continued her advocacy by traveling with the women’s peace advocacy group CodePink to the Gaza Freedom March. The Dec. 31 march was a planned nonviolent demonstration to protest Israel’s blockade of Gaza, with 1,000 advocates from abroad joining Palestinians in a march to the Gaza-Israel border checkpoint.


Video - Viva Palestina arrives in Gaza despite Egyptian collaboration with Israel

Al Jazeera Wed 6 Jan 2010 @ 2000GMT: Al Jazeera reports on arrival of Viva Palestina Convoy, includes interview with George Galloway and report on earlier fatal clashes at the Rafah border.

Palestinian resistance retaliates against killings with mortar fire

Popular Resistance Committees respond to recent killing of six resistance fighters by Israel's war criminals by firing mortars at Israel. Unfortunately no casualties on the Israeli side.
GAZA, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- Israel shut down a main cargo crossing with the Gaza Strip on Thursday in response to Palestinian mortars at Israeli army posts near Gaza commercial crossings.

Ten mortars landed near Kerem Shalom crossing, a major passageway used by Israel to deliver humanitarian aid and fuel to the besieged territory, and a military site near the closed Kissufim crossing in southeast Gaza, said Palestinian security sources.

No injuries or damage were reported in the mortar attacks.

Following the incident, Radio Israel said that Kerem Shalom crossing was sealed off.

Meanwhile, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement, saying the mortars came in response to an Israeli airstrike on Tuesday which killed and wounded a number of its fighters.

Viva Palestina enters Gaza - Viva!

From viva palestina

17.30 GMT Wednesday 6th January
One month, thousands of miles, ten countries, one ship and a four flights later, Viva Palestina has begun to enter the besieged Gaza Strip.

"We are all emotional to see that all of Gaza are out to greet us! Our Viva Palestina convoy is symbolic! It shows the Palestianian people just how much the people of the West do care.
" We come in peace to deliver humanitarian aid and we hope that our convoy (and convoy's like ours) will help to build pressure on the Israeli government to break the siege."
Kevin Ovenden, convoy leader

Also, an excellent comment piece by Seamus Milne in the Guardian
For the last fortnight, two groups of hundreds of activists have been battling with Egyptian police and officials to cross into the Gaza Strip to show solidarity with the blockaded population on the first anniversary of Israel's devastating onslaught. Last night, George Galloway's Viva Palestina 500-strong convoy of medical aid was finally allowed in, minus 50 of its 200 vehicles, after being repeatedly blocked, diverted and intimidated by Egyptian security – including a violent assault in the Egyptian port of El Arish on Tuesday night which left dozens injured, despite the participation of one British and 10 Turkish MPs.

That followed an attempted "Gaza freedom march" by 1,400 protesters from more than 40 countries, only 84 of whom were allowed across the border – which is what led Hedy Epstein, both of whose parents died in Auschwitz, to refuse food in Cairo, as the group's demonstrations were violently broken up and Israel's prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu was feted nearby. Yesterday, demonstrations by Palestinians on the Gazan side of the border against the harassment of the aid convoy led to violent clashes with Egyptian security forces in which an Egyptian soldier was killed and many Palestinians injured.

But although the confrontation has been largely ignored in the west, it has been a major media event in the Middle East which has only damaged Egypt. And while the Egyptian government claims it is simply upholding its national sovereignty, the saga has instead starkly exposed its complicity in the US- and European-backed blockade of Gaza and the collective punishment of its one and a half million people.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Protest Egypt's attack on Viva Palestina's Gaza aid convoy

Report from Kevin Ovenden, Viva Palestina convoy leader in Al-Arish, where activists are under attack from Egyptian state security. This is an urgent appeal.

Crisis in Egypt

Viva Palestina faced with 2,000 riot police in the port of Al-Arish!

To all friends of Palestine,

Our situation is now at a crisis point! Riot has broken out in the port of Al-Arish.

This late afternoon we were negotiating with a senior official from Cairo who left negotiations some two hours ago and did not return. Our negotiations with the official was regarding taking our aid vehicles into Gaza.

He left two hours ago and did not come back. Egyptian authorities called over 2,000 riot police who then moved towards our camp at the port.

We have now blocked the entrance to the port and we are now faced with riot police and water cannons and are determined to defend our vehicles and aid.

The Egyptian authorities have by their stubbornness and hostility towards the convoy, brought us to a crisis point.

We are now calling upon all friends of Palestine to mount protests in person where possible, but by any means available to Egyptian representatives, consulates and Embassy's and demand that the convoy are allowed a safe passage into Gaza tomorrow!

Kevin Ovenden Viva Palestina Convoy Leader

Contact details including email addresses and phone numbers of Egyptian Embassies and consulates can be found here

Click here to read an example of one email sent this evening - feel free to use/amend, etc.

Egyptian police attack Gaza aid convoy

Egypt's shame continues as its police launch attack on Gaza aid convoy
Egyptian security forces clashed today with a pro-Palestinian convoy led by the British MP George Galloway as it tried to deliver aid supplies into the Gaza Strip.

The convoy of 198 trucks and more than 500 supporters left London a month ago hoping to enter Gaza despite the Israeli economic blockade. The trucks are now at el-Arish, an Egyptian port on the Mediterranean, a few miles south of Gaza.

Several protesters and police officers were injured after clashes early today. Reuters reported that Egyptian police threw stones at the crowd and arrested seven demonstrators, while some members of the convoy held four harbour police officers. Police fired water cannon to disperse the crowd that had gathered to receive the aid trucks.


And this from the Times - the paper claims one Egyptian soldier has been killed.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Viva Palestina convoy needs your financial assistance

A message from Viva Palestina - Please Support our Emergency Appeal

So we are asking our friends and supporters to dig deep in their pockets and make an emergency donation towards the costs now facing the convoy including chartering the ULUSOY-6 to transport the vehicles and four or five flights to move the convoy members.

With your help we will once more deliver aid to the people of Gaza - and once more demand the end to this inhuman siege.

Thanks you for your support and may we wish everyone a Happy New Year.

Viva Palestina and friends


Thank you to the many supporters from more than twenty countries who have already donated online. Your generosity and support is wonderful.