Thursday, 31 March 2011

Israel plan for Gaza island aims to detach population from historic Palestine

A Dubai 'palm tree' off the coast of Gaza? What are the Israelis thinking? It's being sold as an economic opportunity but the main aim seems to be to try to further detach the people of Gaza from Palestine with all border crossings through Israel to be permanently sealed - in other words to get Gazans to look west and not east to the lost land of Palestine, and of course families on the West Bank and Gaza would be even more separated. Also, there's the little matter of Gaza's offshore gas reserves -Israel builds an 'open' port and takes the gas in return. Whatever the motives it is difficult to see this plan getting off the ground. No one seems to have bothered to ask people in Gaza what they think either.
Israel has been developing a secret plan over the past several months to build an eight square kilometers artificial island, 4.5 kilometers off the Gaza Strip coastline, which would be connected to the shore by a bridge, a source closed to the Israeli government told Xinhua on Wednesday.

The plan, developed by Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz and former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, will allow Palestinians in Gaza access to the world without needing to venture through Israeli or Egyptian border crossings, as well as allowing free imports and exports. news

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Palestinian Land Day commemorated in New York City with flashmob demo

To commemorate Land Day a flashmob took place today in New York City's Grand Central Station (see video below). Land Day, March 30, is an annual day of commemoration for Palestinians of the events of that date in 1976. In response to the Israeli government's announcement of a plan to expropriate thousands of dunams of land for "security and settlement purposes", a general strike and marches were organized in Arab towns from the Galilee to the Negev.[1][2] In the ensuing confrontations with the Israeli army and police, six Arab citizens were killed, about one hundred were wounded, and hundreds of others arrested. See wiki for more.

Prominent Israeli authors rally to defence of Palestinian bookshop owner facing deportation

Leading Israeli authors rally behind Jersusalem-born bookshop owner Munther Fahmi who is facing deportation. Sign the petition here.
Leading Israeli authors Amos Oz and David Grossman have added their support to efforts to head off the deportation of an East Jerusalem bookstore owner whose shop at the American Colony Hotel specializes in works about the Arab-Israeli conflict and has been a major destination over the years for diplomats and foreign journalists. more

Palestine Festival of Literature has a page for Munther here.

Palestine Land Day: Four-fold increase on 2009 in settlement building in Palestine

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Thirty-five years on from the uprising, in which six young protesters were killed by Israeli forces, Palestinians constitute almost half of the population of the Palestine under the British Mandate, but have access to less than 15 percent of the land, the PCBS report said

Israel's separation wall has confiscated around 733 square kilometers of occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, the report notes. Israel says the wall was built to prevent attacks, but its route runs deep inside the West Bank, often as far as 22 kilometers, according to UN reports. Land between the wall and the Green Line has been used for illegal Israeli settlements and military bases.

PCBS (Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics) found that in 2010, Israel built 6,794 Jewish-only housing units on occupied Palestinian land, four times more than in 2009. more
Downlaod the PCBS press release here

Airstrike kills Palestinian fighter and tunnels hit again

Islamic Jihad fighter killed in Rafah this morning.
An Israeli aircraft attacked a pair of Palestinian militants riding on a motorcycle in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, killing one and wounding the other, the Islamic Jihad group said.

The Israeli military said it had "targeted and hit a terrorist squad" that had launched rockets toward southern Israel the previous day. The military said the air force carried out an additional airstrike overnight that hit a smuggling tunnel in southern Gaza. more

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Israel's residential building strategy driven by aim of keeping Arabs 'in their place'

By Roi Maor - The State of Israel is building a town in the country’s north. Its purpose: to make sure “the Arabs won’t rear their heads” and to “put them in proportion.” Anybody objecting to this goal should “go live with the Palestinians” and is “harming Israel’s security.”

Last week, the Knesset passed a bill that legalizes “acceptance committees” in small localities, a tool that is used to maintain segregation between Jews and Arabs (as well as keeping out various other “undesirables”). As I wrote, this bill is just one of the many policies through which Israel denies its Palestinian citizens the right for adequate housing, even on their own private land.

Another one of these policies is called “Judaization.” It is aimed mainly at Israel’s northern and southern periphery, where most Israeli Palestinians reside. Its purpose is to prevent Palestinians from forming a majority in any area of Israel, so that they will not be able to secede or demand autonomy in that area. This aim is achieved by strategically establishing Jewish localities to create contiguous strips of Jewish settlements, which cut off any sequence of Palestinian habitation.

This is an explicit, formal policy, unabashedly promoted by all Israeli governments. However, it is rarely articulated as bluntly as in comments reported [Hebrew] today in the Israeli business daily TheMarker (a subsidiary of Ha’aretz).

The comments were made by Nissim Dahan, the head of the local council for Harish-Katzir, a Jewish locality of 4,000 residents in Israel’s north. Dahan was not elected by the residents, but rather appointed by the Interior Minister, to promote a plan to build a town of 150,000 residents where Harish is currently located. This plan is strongly opposed by Jewish locals, as well as by nearby Palestinian localities. more
Thanks to +972 website

Soldiers seal off Palestinian town and arrest teenagers after settler attacks

IDF seals off town of Beit Ommar on the West Bank and arrests teenagers, all because a stone was thrown at a settler four days ago, while settlers themselves are allowed to attack Palestinians with near impunity. On 21 March a settler jumped from a car and fired his gun at a funeral procession in the town. A stone was thrown at a settler car in retaliation and this latest IDF action is the response.
From the International Solidarity Movement – On Monday 28th March the Israeli army blockaded the town of Beit Ommar after arresting 15 young men the previous day. On the evening of March 27th troops entered the town arresting the young men all between the ages of 14 and 19. No reasons were initially given for the arrests of Jameel Ahmad Za’aqeeq (14), Allam Yousif Awad (14), Hasan Majed Solieby (14), Mahamad Yasir Za’aqeek (19), Ahmad Yasir Za’aqeek (19), Ahmad Mohamed Ehklail (16), Ahmad Yousif Sabarnah (18), Mohamad Yousif Sabarnah (16), Mohamad Azzam Za’aqeek (16), Montasir Mohamed Ehklail (16), Ameer Alkam (17), Mohamad Jadallah Solieby (19), Malik Naif Solieby (16), Shareef Fathy Abu Ayyash (18), and Yousef Ayesh Sabarneh (14); however an Israeli military spokesperson later claimed they were taken for ‘security questioning’.

The next morning while workers and students were attempting to leave the town, Israeli forces prevented buses and taxis from collecting passengers. They fired teargas and sound bombs at people who attempted to pass the road blocks that they had set up to block the entrance the previous week. No one was permitted to leave Beit Ommar until after the soldiers departure approximately 90 minutes later. The Israeli army has been closing roads in Beit Ommar since 23rd March and are believed to be planning the construction of a permanent isolation wall around the town. more

Monday, 28 March 2011

Israel trying to scupper moves on Palestinian unity as it launches more attacks on Gaza

Abbas has met with Hamas leaders on the West Bank while a Fatah leader accuses Israel of trying to block moves towards national unity. This morning the IDF has launched yet another incursion into the Strip, this time near Khan Younis. No casualties reported so far.
A Palestinian official on Sunday accused Israel of working to thwart President Mahmoud Abbas' initiative to visit the Gaza Strip that aims to restore national unity.

"Israel is interested in blocking Abbas' choices regarding the reconciliation," said Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior leader of Abbas' Fatah party.

Abbas said recently that he would go to Gaza to declare a unity government with its rival the Hamas movement which has been controlling Gaza since it routed pro-Abbas forces in 2007. more

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Ceasefire offer spurned as airstrike kills two in Gaza

Despite an offer of a ceasefire by the Palestinian side if Israel stops its continual attacks on Gaza, the Israelis are intent on racheting up the tension.
GAZA, March 27 (Xinhua) -- The atmosphere of tension was back to the Gaza Strip, after an Israeli airstrike hit the Islamic Jihad movement militants, killing two and injuring three, while the group's armed wing Saraya al-Quds vowed revenge.

Medics and witnesses said two Islamic Jihad militants, Adham Namrooti, 26, and Sabri Assaleya, 22, were killed and three others were wounded early Sunday morning in an Israeli aerial attack on the northern Gaza Strip. more

Friday, 25 March 2011

Israel vows to launch bigger war on Gaza than Cast Lead

Israel's education minister is threatening an even more murderous war than Cast Lead in 2008 and Netanyahu talks about using the 'utmost strength' against Gaza. Meanwhile Palestinians continue to live under the terror of aerial attack with the latest air strikes coming in on Thursday evening.
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar (Likud) on Friday said that he estimates that the IDF will eventually have to carry out a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip, bigger than Operation Cast Lead. Sa'ar made the comments in an interview with Israel Radio. more

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Air strikes hit power station and tunnels in collective punishment for Gaza

No one has claimed responsibility for the remotely detonated bomb in Jerusalem that killed one yesterday. Israel has struck the tunnels near Rafah in the south and a power transformer, described by the IDF as a 'terrorist target'. The tunnels are a lifeline for Gaza and have cost the lives of many in the dangerous work of keeping them in operation. On 16 March two people were killed in an explosion involving the transportation of gas cannisters. Netanyahu says Israel will act 'forcefully' with an 'iron will to defend the country'.
Israeli jets have staged three air strikes over Gaza, hours after a bomb struck a crowded bus stop in West Jerusalem, killing at least one person and wounding 30 in what authorities said was the first major attack in the city in several years.

Hamas, the Palestinian group which controls the Gaza Strip, said on Thursday that the strikes targeted smuggling tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt border, as well as one of its training camps in central Gaza.

A third strike hit a power transformer, causing blackouts in the area, witnesses said. Medical workers said no one was injured in the strikes. Hamas said it ordered its personnel to evacuate their positions.

An Israeli defence spokeswoman confirmed the sorties, saying: "The air force targeted two tunnels at the south of the Gaza Strip and a terrorist target in Gaza."

The military said the strikes were a response to the recent barrage of rockets. more

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Israel vice-premier calls for new war against people of Gaza

There are calls today from the 'political echelon' in Israel for a renewed war on Hamas - or, more accurately, on the people of Gaza. It's not just the rockets they are worried about (although no one has been injured by them, in contrast to deaths running into double figures on the Palestinian side) - it's the revolutions sweeping the Arab world, the dissipation of international support, moves towards reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas and another Freedom Flotilla due to arrive in May. There's a meeting of the Israeli security council today.
The Israeli vice-premier, Silvan Shalom, said the situation recalled the runup to Israel's 2008-2009 Gaza war, in which around 1,400 Palestinians died. Hamas has mostly held its fire from the enclave since.

"We may have to consider a return to that operation," Shalom told Israel Radio. "I say this despite the fact that I know such a thing would, of course, bring the region to a far more combustible situation." more

Four Palestinian fighters killed in airstrike as rockets hit deeper into Israel

Four members of Islamic Jihad were killed late yesterday in addition to the civilian casualties earlier.
GAZA — Palestinian militants fired rockets far into southern Israel late Tuesday and early Wednesday and Israel responded with airstrikes in Gaza. Tensions were running high after Israeli mortar fire killed three Palestinian youths and a 60-year-old man in response to a rocket attack a day earlier.

In an unrelated attack on Tuesday night, the Israeli Air Force killed four militants in a car, all members of Islamic Jihad, the organization and the Israeli military said. The army said the men were preparing to launch rockets at Israel. more

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Israeli artillery kills four civilians in Gaza including two children

More civilians killed in Gaza, another useless IDF inquiry set up. Several mortars and a rocket have been fired from the Strip today resulting in no casualties.
Palestinian sources said four people were killed Tuesday afternoon from Israeli artillery fire towards Gaza City's Tufah neighborhood. Two youths, aged 11 and 16, were among the victims, according to the sources.

Eyewitnesses said one of the IDF shells landed at the entrance of a home in Tufah, killing four people and injuring five others. Among those killed were three members of the same family. more

Jerusalem-born bookshop owner loses residency rights in city of his birth

Sign the petition in support of Munther Fahmy's (pictured right) fight to live in his own country. He is now only allowed to enter Jerusalem as a tourist. Munther has been a leading light behind the Palestine Festival of Literature for some years. This, from Mondoweiss:
a year ago we took the Interior Ministry to court to reinstate my residency status and I lost because they invoked a racist law they have on the books which strips any resident of Jerusalem (all residents of Jerusalem who holds ID cards are Arabs, Jews in Jerusalem and everywhere in Israel are citizens) who left Jerusalem for 7 years or more and holds a foreign passport of his or her blue Israeli residency ID card and right to live there...

...On that day, my request was rejected in the first minute of the session! To add insult to injury, I was told to consider myself lucky that I was allowed to come and go as a tourist that long and even dare to start a business while I am a tourist, and then finally saying that "if this happens in YOUR country the USA, you would be deported on the first plane" . Unfortunately, the session was in Hebrew and I was not privy to this remark by the judge until the end of the session. I would have loved to remind the judges that people born in the USA don’t have to go to the Supreme Court to ask it to intervene with the Immigration authorities to let them live in their country of birth!

The last insult was that I should write a letter within 30 days from Feb 17 2011 "begging" the Interior Ministry (the one I am suing!) to please reinstate my residency! more

95 per cent of water supply in Gaza unfit for human consumption as Israel blocks repairs

Israeli human rights group B'Tseselem draws attention to a UN report on the dire state of the water system in Gaza. Israel refuses to allow the importation of the necessary equipment and machinery to fix Gaza's water problems.
Almost 95 percent of the water pumped in the Gaza Strip is polluted and unfit for drinking. This warning was recently issued by the UN Environment Programme, the Palestinian Water Authority, the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility, and international aid organizations. They estimate it will take at least 20 years to rehabilitate Gaza's underground water system... more

Israeli settlements are ethnic cleansing says US representative on UN rights council

The ethnic cleansing campaign against the Arab population of Jerusalem continues apace, with not a murmur from the West, although a US representative on the UN Human Rights Council, Richard Falk, has spoken out. Falk is accused of being biased by ISrael and is not allowed into the country. He has also called for Israel to be refereed to the International Court.
Israel's expansion of settlements in East Jerusalem and eviction of Palestinians from their homes there is a form of ethnic cleansing, a United Nations investigator said on Monday.

United States academic Richard Falk was speaking to the UN Human Rights Council as it prepared to pass resolutions condemning settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The "continued pattern of settlement expansion in East Jerusalem combined with the forcible eviction of long-residing Palestinians are creating an intolerable situation" in the part of the city previously controlled by Jordan, he said.

This situation "can only be described in its cumulative impact as a form of ethnic cleansing," Falk declared. ..

...In his speech, Falk said he would like the Human Rights Council to ask the International Court of Justice to look at Israeli behavior in the occupied territories.more

Israel foreign ministry in campaign against Freedom Flotilla II bid to break Gaza siege

From the Alternative Information Center
Israel launched a public campaign Tuesday (22 March) against the international organizations planning the Freedom Flotilla II aid convoy, set to sail to Gaza in May of this year.

Mavi Marmara, part of the original Freedom Flotilla to the Gaza Strip in May 2010

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon plans to meet with foreign ambassadors at the ministry on Tuesday to seek their help in stopping this year's flotilla, reported the Israeli news daily Haaretz.

The Foreign Ministry has also been asking foreign governments, including Spain, Britain, Ireland and Sweden, to publish travel advisories warning their citizens against sailing to Gaza. Britain and Ireland have in fact done so, according to Haaretz.

The Freedom Flotilla II will sail for Gaza sometime between May 15, in commemoration of the "Nakba" ("catastrophe"), and May 31, the first anniversary of the deadly 2010 flotilla mission, which left nine activists dead. more

Seven children among 19 injured in airstrikes on Gaza

One person has so far been injured today, in an eastern district of Gaza City, on top of Monday's total.
At least 19 Palestinians were said to have been wounded in the Gaza strip as a result of air strikes launched by Israel on Monday after militants launched mortars and rockets into Israeli territory.

Among the wounded were seven children, two women and four militants, according to officials from Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza. more

Monday, 21 March 2011

Two teenagers killed by IDF on border east of Gaza City, rocket fire returned

IDF killed two teenagers on Sunday claiming they were approaching the 'no-go zone'. Three Palestinian rockets were fired by the PFLP today, one landing near Ashkelon.
The bodies of two Gaza teenagers were retrieved by Palestinian medics late Sunday morning, after being killed by Israeli fire some 12 hours earlier in the border area east of Gaza City.

Medical crews said they were only permitted to access the site, east of Juhor Addik and north of the Al-Bureij refugee camp, when they got a call advising them of the deaths Sunday morning.

The bodies were taken to the Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where they were identified as Imad Farajallah, 17, and Qasim Salah Iteiwa, 17, both from the An-Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza. more

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Israeli attack injures five after Palestinians retaliate for airstrikes and deaths

Israel's killing of two Palestinian fighters earlier this week prompted a mortar barrage in return. The latest Israeli attacks have injured at least five people.
Five Palestinians sustained injuries Saturday as Israeli forces struck targets in the Gaza Strip and Hamas claimed responsibility for firing 49 mortar shells that struck the western Negev.

Locals said the Israeli strikes targeted a security facility of Hamas' military wing in Gaza City's Shuja'iyya neighborhood.

The ministry of interior in Gaza said three Hamas security officers were injured in the Israeli shelling attack, including one seriously, raising the injury count to five. more

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Settlers step up random attacks on Palestinians after Itamar killings

Unknown assailants attacked Palestinian construction workers in the West Bank settlement of Shiloh on Thursday, in the wake of recent tensions over last week's deadly stabbing attack in Itamar, in which five family members were killed.

According to preliminary eyewitness reports, six masked individuals approached two Palestinian construction workers, doused them with pepper spray, striking one of the workers with an iron bar. The worker that was attacked with the bar was treated on site. more

IDF displays advanced weapons for Gaza it says seized on Turkish cargo ship

The IDF showed off photos of what it claimed were weapons bound for Gaza seized on a Syrian cargo ship. The IDF says anti-ship missiles were included in the consignment.
Israeli naval commandos intercepted and commandeered on Tuesday a cargo vessel en route from Turkey to Egypt that was loaded with weaponry, Israeli officials said.

Military officials said that the ship, which was flying a Liberian flag, had sailed to Turkey from Syria. The assessment was that the weapons were bound for Gaza, the Palestinian coastal enclave controlled by Hamas.

The military noted in a statement that Turkey “was not tied to the incident in any way.” more

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Tens of thousands join rallies for national unity in Palestinian liberation struggle

Abbas claims he is ready to travel to Gaza to seal a national unity deal with Hamas, as pressure mounts on leaders.
RAMALLAH: Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in major West Bank cities and in Gaza Strip on Tuesday, calling for unity between the Fatah-controlled West Bank and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

The demonstrators waved the flag of Palestine and shouted with slogans for the restoration of national unity and chanted "People want to end division!"

Hisham Dwaikat, one of the coordinators of the “March 15 Youth Movement” told Arab News that they will set up tents in Ramallah’s Al-Manara square “to pressure Fatah and Hamas to end their internal split.”

Dwaikat added that the organized that rallies in West Bank and Gaza Strip “for the sake of restoring unity on the way towards liberation.”

He added that the campaign to forge Palestinian unity was launched several weeks ago by youth groups on Facebook and other social networking sites. more

Edinburgh students union overwhelmingly passes motion to boycott Israeli goods

From Edinburgh University Students for Justice for Palestine
A motion to boycott Israel was overwhelmingly passed at the Edinburgh University Students Association (EUSA) General Meeting on Monday 14th March. In what was described as a ‘landslide’, the motion, ‘Boycott Israeli Goods in EUSA shops and supply chains’ received around 270 votes in favour, with only 20 students voting against.

Despite the meeting requiring over 300 students to attend for it to be quorate and for decisions taken to be binding, the huge level of student support for the motion means that EUSA will be under severe student pressure to adopt it as official policy.

Proposed by students from Edinburgh University Students for Justice in Palestine, the motion noted that Israel is an apartheid state and resolved to affiliate EUSA to the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, to boycott Israeli goods in EUSA supply chains and shops, and to mandate the EUSA executive to lobby the University to do the same.

After the motion was discussed for around 15 minutes, it was put to a vote and the result was so comprehensive that no count was required. The passing of the motion led to rapturous applause in the George Square Lecture Theatre, where the General Meeting was held, and was by far the most welcomed result of the night.

Similar motions have been passed at SOAS, Manchester, and Sussex Universities in recent years. This latest result seems a clear indication that students in the UK are continuing to play a prominent role in the campaign for a just peace in Palestine. more

Two killed as Israel lashes out with attack on Palestinian fighters

Israel is taking the opportunity to step up its attacks on Palestinians following the death at the weekend of a settler family. Yesterday it intercepted a cargo ship traveling between Turkey and Egypt. Today its air strikes.
Israeli fighter jets pummeled a Hamas facility in the Gaza Strip Wednesday, killing two militants and injuring four, Palestinian officials said.

The Israeli army confirmed the airstrike, saying warplanes bombed the facility after Palestinian militants in Gaza fired a rocket into southern Israel. No Israeli injuries were reported.

The air raid came a day after Israel said its navy intercepted a cargo ship carrying a massive arms shipment sent by Iran and destined for Gaza militants, the latest in a series of Israeli naval raids to confront Iran’s growing influence in the region. Israel maintains that Iran is arming Israel’s enemies with rockets and other arms.

Hamas security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media, said the warplanes struck a Hamas security facility south of Gaza City. They said two members of the Hamas’ militant wing were killed. more

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Israel intercepts cargo ship in Gaza arms smuggling claim

A cargo vessel travelling between Turkey and Egypt has been illegally intercepted by the Israeli Navy, on the pretence of a weapons search.
Israeli commandos intercepted a ship in the Mediterranean Sea Tuesday and found weapons bound for Gaza militants, according to the Israeli government.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the weapons came from Iran. He insisted the cargo vessel was overtaken in accordance with international conventions, and said he gave the order to board the ship on the "solid basis" that the arms on the ship that were "meant to target Israel." more

Monday, 14 March 2011

Over 300 arrests in Awarta is collective punishment for death of settler family

Awarta detentions are illegal act of collective punishment.
NABLUS (Ma’an) -- Soldiers toured Awarta village on Monday morning, calling over loud speakers for all residents aged 15-40 to gather in the yard of the community's school.

Local sources said a village council official and a local man working for the Palestinian security departments were said to have been detained overnight. more

Settler rampage across West Bank as Israel announces more settlement building

Palestinians across the West Bank are living in a state of fear as people and property come under attack from settlers following the killing of a settler family. Israel has announced that it is allowing the building of a further 500 settler residences, in defiance of international law.
Settlers were seen setting fire to an agricultural field north of Ramallah overnight, while a mob entered a town east of Qalqiliya and set fire to civilian vehicles as Palestinians in the West Bank remain fearful. more
Soldiers toured Awarta village on Monday morning, calling through loud speakers for all residents aged 15-40 to gather in the yard of the community's school.

A village council official and a local man working for the Palestinian security departments were said to have been detained overnight.

The call to appear at the school was the first time many were permitted to leave their homes in three days, and village council leader Qays Awwad said interrogations were expected. more

Friday, 11 March 2011

Mossad accused in kidnap of Gaza power plant ops manager while he was in Ukraine

See the full story by Fares Akram at the New York Times.
GAZA — Relatives of an engineer from Gaza who disappeared last month in Ukraine said Thursday that he had been kidnapped by Mossad agents and transferred to an Israeli prison.

The engineer, Derar Abu Sisi, is the operating manager of the only power plant in Gaza, the Palestinian enclave that is controlled by Hamas, the Islamic militant group. He is married to a Ukrainian woman and was in the country applying for citizenship, relatives said.

Major European conference on plight of Palestinian prisoners opens in Geneva

The conference in support of Palestinian prisoners begins today in Geneva.
GENEVA, (PIC)-- The first International Conference for the Rights of Palestinian Prisoners and Detainees will be held this Friday and Saturday at the UN headquarters in Geneva.

The conference dubbed ”Working for Justice” was organized by the Oslo-based European Network to Support the Rights of Palestinian Prisoners and the Swiss Rights For All group and will be attended by Western and Palestinian politicians, rights groups and prisoners themselves.

They will hold roundtable talks discussing the conditions of Palestinians held in Israeli occupation jails.

The events will be kicked off by live testimonies from Palestinian war prisoners and their families.

Day two will be used to discuss the effects detention has had on male and female detainees and the political dynamics of prisoner issues.

The first ever Palestinian POW conference held in the symbolic Geneva where international conventions were signed will include Nurhayati Ali Assegaf, President of the inter-Parliamentary Union to the UN, Raed Salah, the northern branch leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, and many more.

Thanks to the Palestine Information Center

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Victory for boycott movement as Triodos bank removes Dexia from investments because of settlement financing

Statement below from Dutch bank Triodos, explaining why Belgian Bank Dexia is being withdrawn from its universe of investable stocks because of its role in financing settlements in Palestine.
08-03-2011 | Belgian bank Dexia has been excluded from the Triodos sustainable investment universe because of its ongoing financing of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Dexia in Israel

Dexia Israel Bank (DIB), a subsidiary of Dexia, has financed Israeli settlements in the past. In response to shareholder and stakeholder pressure, DIB stopped new loans to Israeli settlements in June 2008. There are also indications that current loans are being withdrawn, although the longest maturity loan in the portfolio will not end until 2017. DIB’s actions have caused uproar in Israel and a regional council major in southern Israel called for a DIB boycott.

Despite the freeze on new loans and withdrawal by DIB, the bank still has loans outstanding to the Municipality of Jerusalem. Jerusalem lies at the heart of the occupied territories and since 1967 East Jerusalem has been under Israeli government rule. Settlements have been established for Jewish Israeli occupants only and settlers receive substantial financial benefits, as well as access to land and natural resources in the disputed territory. By financing the municipality, DIB loans are potentially being used to finance human rights abuses against Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

Dexia is aware of its potential involvement in violating United Nations (UN) resolutions and Triodos has had extensive dialogue with the company on the issue, but to date it has not expressed its intention to withdraw or earmark its finance activities to the Municipality of Jerusalem. Nor has it indicated any intention to otherwise ensure that DIB financing does not contribute to violations of human rights in the disputed territories. For these reasons, Dexia has been excluded from the Triodos sustainable investment universe.

Occupation evicting Jerusalem family and raids Baarta village to issue demolition notices

The so-called evacuation department in Jerusalem approved Thursday the demolition of parts of a home belonged to a Palestinian family in the area of Ras El-Amoud, eastern the city to make way for Israelis. more

The village of Baarta near Jenin was attacked by the IDF last night and eight Palestinians were given notices demanding the demolition of their homes. Palestinians who refuse to demolish their own homes are later billed by the occupation after the destruction has been carried out.

Hamas reshuffles Gaza government as pressure for unity builds

Hamas government being reorganised as talks with Egypt get under way. Palestinian youth groups are threatening to hold demonstrations demanding unity if Fatah and Hamas fail to reconcile their differences. This is the first reshuffle of the government since Hamas came to power in 2007.
Hamas officials in Gaza announced Thursday the formation of a new government headed by the party's leader Ismail Haniyeh.

The new government is an expanded form of the last, made up entirely of Hamas members. Many also hold positions at the Islamic University in Gaza. more

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

al-Qassam Brigades fighter killed on mission in southern Gaza

The Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, issues a press release stating that one of its fighters was killed in what was described “a mission in southern Gaza”.

The Brigades identified the fighter as Abdul-Hamid Nasser Abu Ghali, 20, from the Rafah refugee camp, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. more

New York University Israel Club invites Mavi Marmara attacker to 'peace' event

From Mondoweiss
The New York University Israel Club, called Gesher, is organizing an "Israel Peace Week" to counter Israel Apartheid Week. One of the events features an Israeli soldier who took place in the attack on the Freedom Flotilla last May. more

Gaza's popular resistance committees claim Egypt to life siege as ambassador promises 'big changes'

There are strong signs that Egypt will be ending its policy of backing the Israel/US siege of Gaza. Today resistance groups are claiming big changes are afoot. This is probably based on the statement by the Egyptian ambassador to the Palestinian Territories, Yasser Othman, on Tuesday in which he said to expect "big changes" in Egyptian policy.
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- "There are indicators from Egypt that a new stage will begin in the recent history of injustice for the people of Gaza," the spokesman of a coalition of armed Palestinian factions in Gaza said Wednesday.

Speaking for the Popular Resistance Committees, Mohammad Al-Briem (Abu Mujahed), said he believed that the new government in Egypt would "reject the siege ... and restore brotherly relations between the Egyptians and Palestinians." more

Sufa crossing - closed since 2008 - opened for 'test' gravel import in surprise move

An unexpected move following outrage over the announcement of the permanent closure of Erez crossing. Sufa crossing hasn't been operational since 2008
ive hundred tons of gravel for UNRWA construction projects were transported into Gaza late Tuesday night through a crossing terminal closed by Israeli forces in 2008, in a move that sides said was unexpected. more

Karni crossing closure defended by Israel as 'good for security and Gaza imports'

Israel trying to defend the indefensible. The closure of the Karni crossing - the main route into Gaza for heavy vehicle - will increase the amount and cost of aid that can reach the Strip.
The recent transfer of traffic at the Karni border crossing to the nearby Kerem Shalom Crossing will enable greater security for Israeli personnel and allow the Gaza Strip to import more materials more efficiently than before, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said Tuesday.

Maj.-Gen. Eitan Dangot told reporters at a press briefing at the Erez crossing on Tuesday that “when there is a terror regime there [in Gaza] and they are preparing themselves to attack Israel, each time we open Karni twice a week, we would deploy thousands of soldiers to secure the lives of people on our side. As a result of these security threats, we had to move the operations to Kerem Shalom.” more

Flotilla activists call on countries to warn Israel and protect their own citizens

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition called on the states of participating activists to ensure the boats' safety from Israeli aggression at a meeting in Amsterdam.

The group plans to sail to Gaza in May.

Campaigner Amin Abu Rashed noted that the international community condemned Israel's raid of a Gaza flotilla on May 31 2010, when Israeli forces killed 9 passengers and injured dozens more. more

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Gaza women march for end to Fatah-Hamas discord and demand national unity

It's March 8 - International Women's Day, and women in Gaza are organising - marching to demand an end to national divisions.
Palestinian women took to the streets on Tuesday to call for unity and an end to the Israeli occupation in a series of rallies called to mark International Women's Day.

In Gaza City, around 500 women waving Palestinian flags marched through the city centre demanding an end to the political division between the rival Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, an AFP correspondent said. more

Roger Waters interviewed by Riz Khan of Al Jazeera on why the apartheid wall will fall

Roger Waters speaks out on the the so-called separation wall that Israel is building on the West Bank. Its existence makes a viable state on the West Bank impossible and is a permanent reminder to Palestinians of who's in charge.

10 Palestinians injured and 6 hospitalised after clashes with settlers near Nablus

NABLUS (AFP) -- Ten Palestinians and an Israeli settler were wounded on Monday during clashes in a village near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, a Palestinian official and witnesses said.

Ghassan Doughlas, an official in charge of tracking settler activity, said six Palestinians were taken to hospital and another four were on the way after being caught up in clashes with settlers in Qusra, a village 10 kilometers southeast of Nablus. more

Israeli tanks and bulldozer enter southern Gaza and destroy agricultural land

Gaza strip, (Pal Telegraph)-Several Israeli military forces invaded Tuesday morning Palestinian lands near Sufa crossing in the south of Gaza Strip.

Local sources confirmed that five tanks accompanied by bulldozers advanced for meters amidst massive gunfire in the area around Sufaa crossing and started razing operations to the agricultural lands. more

Monday, 7 March 2011

Egyptian revolt is strategic and economic threat to Israel as 60% of gas threatened

This Bloomberg article focuses on the existential threat to Israel posed by the Egyptian uprising, and of course, by implication, the wider Arab revolutionary movement. Palestinian leaders have been freed from prisons and 60% of Israel's natural gas supply is threatened. Article seems to suggest the pipeline - which has its main metering station at El Arish, scene of battles against the police and other security forces involving bedouins armed with RPGs and the wider population which soon set up its own popular committees - is either down or severely disrupted, although the army is meant to have 'restored order'.
Weshah learned about the Cairo protests from watching Egyptian television in a group room in the prison. He described a scene that night, 14 days before Mubarak’s ouster, in which inmates started banging on the walls and bars of their cells and then overpowered guards who responded to the uproar.

“It was very scary, with intensive gunfire and prisoners shot dead on the floor,” Weshah said. “We just kept running and followed some Egyptian prisoners who took us to a safe place.”

Weshah was one of nine Palestinians who made their way to Gaza after the jail break, according to interviews with them all. Another was Ayman Noufal, one of the top commanders of the Hamas militia known as the Al-Qassam Brigades. He had been held for three years. A Hamas spokesman declined to comment...

...The metering station is outside El-Arish, before the spot where the 100-kilometer (62-mile) pipeline splits into two branches bringing gas separately to Israel and to Jordan, Maiman spokesman Zeev Feiner said. He said the explosion was apparently set off by unidentified “terrorist elements,” declining to say how it was detonated.

The pipeline currently provides Israel with 2.5 billion cubic meters of gas a year, about $400 million worth, according to Israel Electric Corp. That is expected to rise to 7 billion cubic meters in 2014, Feiner said.

“Let’s not forget that the most important economic arrangement signed with Egypt since the peace agreement is the agreement on gas,” Landau said March 6 in an interview with Israel’s Army Radio. “When events in Egypt settle down, we hope and certainly want the supply of gas to resume.” more

Karni crossing closure shuts major grain import route - increases aid cost 20 per cent

The implications of the total closure of Karni commercial crossing on the lives of ordinary Palestinians is highlighted by the stopping of the conveyor belt used to transfer grain through the crossing and the 20% increase in cost now faced by the UN in getting aid to 750,000 people.
(IRIN) The complete closure of Karni crossing on the Israel-Gaza border announced on 2 March will make the delivery of food aid to Gaza more difficult, according to UN agencies assisting Palestinians in the Gaza Strip where over half the population is estimated to be food insecure.

The closure of Karni will also add 20 percent to the cost of aid delivery, said Chris Gunness, spokesperson for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Jerusalem, at a time when UNRWA is facing a budget deficit of over US$50 million.

Some 750,000 Palestinians receive UNRWA food assistance in Gaza, out of about one million refugees living in the territory.

Karni, controlled by Israel, is the only commercial crossing with the facilities to allow large numbers of trucks to enter Gaza. Closed to trucks since June 2007, the conveyor belt had been operating to transfer grain, until the Israeli authorities announced its complete closure on 2 March. more

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Hundreds of Egyptians join march to Gaza to demand end to siege

Hundreds of Egyptians Sunday marched to the country’s border with the Gaza Strip to demand that the border be opened, Press TV reported.

Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza in 2007.

The campaign was the brainchild of the Tahrir4Gaza campaign, whose organisers said they wanted to see to which extent Egypt has changed since the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak Feb 11, the media report said.

Ahmed El-Assy, the main campaign organiser, said: ‘The Mubarak regime collaborated with Israel to keep the Palestinians weak, but now he’s been overthrown, so there’s no need to maintain the status quo.’ more

Tahrir4Gaza website is down at the moment:

Friday, 4 March 2011

Call for Adidas to withdraw sponsorship from Jerusalem marathon

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition of Palestinian civil society organizations and unions, calls on Adidas to withdraw its sponsorship of the first Jerusalem marathon to take place on March 25, 2011 to avoid becoming complicit in covering up Israel's war crimes and grave human rights abuses. Israel has been consistently, systematically, and quite blatantly working to “Judaize” Jerusalem through policies of ethnic cleansing directed at the indigenous Palestinian population to change the demographic reality of the occupied city, in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention and international human rights law. more

Israel's widespread use of depleted uranium causes growing cancer problem in Gaza

Israel's illegal and reckless use of depleted uranium against Gaza's civilian population has led to a huge spike in cancer cases.
The number of cancer patients has been climbing in Gaza due to the use of depleted uranium by the Israeli military during its onslaught on the impoverished enclave two years ago, medical sources say.

After the war, cancer cases have reportedly increased by about 30 percent in Gaza, Press TV correspondent reported on Thursday.

“We have seen a sharp increase in blood cancer and other types of the diseases. Many patients come from the areas that were attacked by Israeli fighter jets using banned chemical weapons,” Oncologist Mohammed Atteya said. more

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Israeli company recruiting mercenaries to prop up Gaddafi regime

The Middle East's tyrants have been fond of late of blaming their difficulties on Israel and al Qaeda, but it turns out that Israel, by encouraging an Israeli company to recruit mercenaries in sub-Saharan Africa, is a key backer of Gaddafi's murderous regime.
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- An Israeli company is recruiting mercenaries to support Moammar Gadhafi's efforts to suppress an uprising against his regime, an Israeli news site said Tuesday.

Citing Egyptian sources, the Hebrew-language news site Inyan Merkazi said the company was run by retired Israeli army commanders...

...Company representatives recently flew to Chad to discuss the matter with a high-ranking Libyan intelligence officer Abduallah Sanusi, the report said. During the meeting, Sanusi agreed to pay the company to recruit up to 50,000 mercenaries from African countries, according to the news site. more