Saturday, 30 April 2011

Egypt's military rulers warn Israel against attempts to block opening of Rafah crossing


Egypt's military rulers are warning Israel against trying to undermine the opening of the Rafah border crossing, reports Haaretz. The Egyptian leadership is under intense pressure from its population to end collaboration with Israel. Someone should tell the political echelon in Tel Aviv that this is what democracy looks like - or at least the military's version of it. The Arab Spring is turning into a nightmare for Israel.
Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces General Sami Anan warned Israel against interfering with Egypt's plan to open the Rafah border crossing with Gaza on a permanent basis, saying it was not a matter of Israel's concern, Army Radio reported on Saturday. more

Israeli drones see everything - so why do they target innocent civilians?


The drones that do the 'targeting' for Israeli airstrikes are a constant feature of life for Gazans and their constant aerial surveillance creates a maddening and unescapable soundscape - it also leads to the death of entirely innocent people, as in the case of the Kudeih family below reported by Bonnie King (article) and Ken O'Keefe (video and photos) at the Oregon-based Salem News.
"Just another Israeli war crime in Gaza. A mother and her four daughters preparing for the daughters wedding in a couple of weeks... and then a Israeli rocket explodes between them as they sit in their yard," said Ken O'Keefe. "A family is destroyed. This is Israel."

It began with air strikes on April 7, when five Palestinians were killed in raids hitting targets that the Israeli military described as positions where projectiles had been fired from.

Two women and an elderly man were killed in separate strikes near Khan Younis, and two unidentified men were killed near Gaza City.

A mother and daughter had been sitting in their back yard, planning the girl's upcoming wedding. Her two sisters were there also, and they had spent the day baking bread for the big event. more

Youths clash with Israeli occupation forces in Jerusalem as special forces storm Bustan


Thanks to the Palestinian Information Center
Jerusalemite youths in Silwan town, south of the Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem, clashed with Israeli occupation forces who stormed the Bustan suburb after the Friday congregation.

Eyewitnesses said that as soon as the Jerusalemites finished their weekly congregation at the sit-in tent in the Bustan suburb, the IOF soldiers along with special forces stormed the suburb.

They added that young men threw stones at the invading forces and they responded by firing teargas leading to breathing difficulty among many worshippers.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Left-wing Norwegian parliamentarians to join 'Freedom Flotilla 2 - Stay Human' Gaza voyage


Norwegian parliamentarians to join Freedom Flotilla 2 - Stay Human. ShiptoNorway website is here (Norwegian)
A convey of ships, known as the “Freedom Flotilla 2 – Stay Human,” will attempt to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza with as many as 20 Norwegian participants, including parliamentarians, either at the end of May or June.

The Norwegian activists, calling themselves “Ship to Gaza Norway,” aim to break the blockade along with representatives from 10 other countries and deliver aid to local and international relief organizations, and have rejected claims that the aid will end up with Hamas...

...A number of politicians have expressed an interest in joining the convoy, something which participant Gerd von der Lippe told Aftenposten would make the Israeli soldiers “become less crazy” and give the flotilla “a large degree of legitimacy.” Jette F Christensen and Stine Renate Håheim of the Labour Party, and Akhtar Chaudhry of the Socialist Left Party, have all promised to attend if the eventual dates fit with their previous engagements. Two further Labour Party parliamentarians, Hadia Tajik and Anette Trettebergstuen, have yet to make up their minds on whether or not to go. more

Turkey calls on Israel to look positively on Palestinian reconciliation


The Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who spoke with Sec State Hillary Clinton on Thursday about developments in Palestine, has called on Israel to take the opportunity of Palestinian reconciliation to renew the peace process, as they now no longer have the excuse of not having a counterpart to negotiate with on the Palestinian side. The signs are not good from Israel though with Lieberman continuing with the 'Hamas are terrorists' mantra.
The international community should not repeat yet another mistake by not lending sufficient support to an agreement reached on Wednesday by rival Palestinian groups on reuniting their governments in the West Bank and Gaza after years of bitter infighting, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu warned on Friday, while calling the agreement “a key window of opportunity” for the entire region, which has been experiencing “an earthquake.”

“I contacted both sides yesterday [Thursday],” Davutoğlu noted, referring to his talks with leaders of the rival Fatah and Hamas movements, as he responded to questions from reporters in Karapınar, Konya, where he kicked off his campaigning activities for the upcoming parliamentary elections on June 12.

“God willing, the process will come to the point of signing of a comprehensive agreement next week,” he said, underlining: “This is a significant development. This is the most important and positive development in our region in the last few months.”

On Wednesday night, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton initiated a telephone conversation with Davutoğlu as the two focused on the Palestinian reconciliation in their talks....

...“Israel should also see the Palestine reconciliation as a positive development. Up until this very moment, the Israeli side has always complained that they haven't been able to find a counterpart on the Palestinian side; they have complained about the split. Now given that the Palestinians have this unity, everybody should feel happy about it. This [reconciliation] should not be hindered,” Davutoğlu said. “Those who hinder this [reconciliation] will have to bear the responsibility of negative developments.” more

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Egypt ready to permanently open Rafah crossing within 10 days says Ynet report


Israeli news outlet Ynetnews is reporting that Egypt intends to permanently reopen the Rafah crossing for the first time since 2007. This is excellent news. Will post confirmation from other sources as soon as we get them. The Arab Spring is spreading to Palestine! [update 08.22 GMT 29/4//11] Egyptian foreign minister Elaraby confirms in interview with Al Jazzera that the crossing will indeed be permanently opened 'within seven to 10 days'.
Egypt is preparing to open the Rafah crossing with Gaza for the first time since Hamas seized control of the Strip in 2007, Cairo said Thursday, in order to "put an end to Palestinian suffering". more

Pro-Palestinian billboard ads removed in Seattle after Clear Channel receives 'complaints'


Clear Channel is well known for its own peculiar take on democracy - if you don't agree with them you don't get a voice. They are now picking on the growing pro-Palestine movement in the US. The campaign by Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign aims to highlight the amount of US tax dollars that go to the Israeli military. And who are these 'unnamed groups and individuals' that Clear Channel was so eager to appease?
A controversial pro-Palestinian advertisement has been pulled from Seattle billboards this week. The ad, which was sponsored by the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign (SeaMAC), was canceled and pulled from Seattle area Clear Channel Outdoor billboards just days after it was posted.

The billboards featured an image of a child behind a fence and the words, “Equal rights for Palestinians. Stop funding the Israeli military.” The ads also referenced a webpage – www.Stop30Billion-Seattle.org.

Olivia Lippens, president of Clear Channel Outdoor Seattle, told the group that objections from unnamed groups and individuals had led them to cancel SeaMAC’s contract, according to a statement from SeaMAC. more

Four injured after Gazan home comes under attack from tank fire


Reuters reports 4 injured after IDF tank opens fire on house in Gaza - first attack since the recent flare up that saw at least 35 Palestinians killed and dozens of mortars and rockets fired into Israel, most of which, it should be said, landed harmlessly in the Negev desert.
[update 22:23 GMT] A woman and two children among the injured. IDF say they foiled what it describes as an 'attempted terror attack', according to Israel National News.
Israeli tank fire wounded four members of a Gaza family on Thursday, medics said, in an incident that ruptured the calm of a shaky truce achieved after a spasm of cross-border violence earlier this month.

Officials in the Hamas Islamist ruled coastal territory said Israeli forces had fired in the direction of a home in central Gaza after darkness fell. more

Israel relents after international pressure and allows some building materials into Gaza


60,000 tons of aggregates is not a lot but means that at least a start can be made to reconstruction efforts following Israel's war on the people of Gaza.
Over the past month and a half, at least 60,000 tons of construction aggregates have been imported into Gaza, following a four-year-long wait that dated back to the start of Israel's siege on the coastal enclave.

Speaking with Ma'an, UNRWA's spokesman in Gaza Adnan Abu Hasna said the imports had come unexpectedly, but followed years of pressure on Israel from UN and other international bodies.

Egyptian student march demands closure of Israeli embassy and end to gas supplies


Thousands marched on the Israeli embassy in Cairo yesterday in the beginning of a concerted campaign to end collaboration with Israel and cut off all gas supplies.
Massed on a bridge next to the high-rise building where the embassy is located, they chanted: "the people demand the cancellation of normalization."

They also chanted: "the gas must stop," in reference to natural gas exports through a Sinai pipeline that unidentified saboteurs blew up earlier in the day.

One of the protesters, left-wing blogger Hossam Al-Hamalawy, said the demonstration came in response to recent remarks by Israeli President Shimon Peres, who praised the Egyptian revolt that toppled the government in February.

"Peres issued a statement recently calling on Egyptian youth to normalize [with Israel], and this is the Egyptian youth's response," he said. more

Egypt release nine Palestinian political prisoners yesterday. Another 20 remain incarcerated.
Nine Palestinians released from prison in Egypt are en route to Gaza, spokesman of the prisoners' families Imad As-Sayed said Wednesday. more

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Israel determined to stop flotilla 2 reaching Gaza 'at all costs'


Looks like Israel is planning another massacres on the high seas. Why is the world allowing Israel to kill (or threaten to) with impunity? So Israel won't talk to peace activists and they won't talk to the new unity caretaker government because it contains 'terrorists'.
The Israeli Defence Forces’ broadcast reported Wednesday noon an official's comments that the country would prevent the second freedom flotilla from reaching Gaza “at all costs". Apparently the IDF plans to use 'new methods' to stop the flotilla that avoids killing those on board.

The source said that a consensus emerged during the meeting of the Ministers Committee on Security Affairs Wednesday on the necessity of maintaining a strict and complete blockade on Gaza, even if this entails using armed force in preventing the flotilla from entering the strip. more

Palestinian national unity talks successful as Hamas and Fatah bury differences


News is emerging from Egypt that Hamas and Fatah have managed to reconcile their differences at the national unity talks being held in Cairo. If this is confirmed it is another blow to Israel's strategy of divide and rule. Guardian now reporting that the two sides are to form a caretaker government. Unclear what, deal, if any has been made about who controls the rival security apparatuses.
[update 16:34 GMT] The New York Timse says the news has been confirmed by Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency. Guard
CAIRO (AFP) -- Delegations from rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas arrived in Cairo on Wednesday to hold Egyptian-mediated reconciliation talks, Palestinian sources said.

The teams were to meet Egypt's new spy chief Murad Muwafi, whose predecessor Omar Suleiman tried unsuccessfully to bridge a split between the two groups that has left Gaza and the West Bank ruled by rival administrations.

The delegation of the Islamist movement Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip includes senior members from the territory and its Damascus-based deputy leader, Mussa Abu Marzuk. more

Second explosion at Egypt's El-Arish gas terminal shuts all oil exports to Israel


An explosion shortly after the start of the Egyptian revolution was blamed by the government on a technical fault which at the time wasn't particularly believable, and the news today of an explosion totally cutting all gas exports confirms Israel's worst fears: if the government doesn't stop selling discounted gas to Israel - providing 40% of the country's needs - then someone else will and is. Egyptian courts recently ruled that the exports of gas at below market prices should cease, but the judges have been overruled by the military.
An explosion has rocked a natural gas terminal near Egypt's border with Israel, forcing the shutdown of the country's export pipeline, according to security officials.

It was the second incident in the past month on the al-Sabil terminal near the town of El-Arish, 30 miles (50km) from the border. On 27 March gunmen planted explosives at the terminal, which failed to detonate. more

US activists face down veiled death threats from Israel that label siege-busters as 'terrorists'


Israel's threats against Freedom Flotilla 2 aka Stay Human (renamed in honour of slain Italian pro-Palestine activist Vittorio Arrigoni) are unfortunately not idle ones given the murder of nine people on the Mavi Marmara.
US human rights advocates who are planning to sail their boat - The Audacity of Hope - this spring as part of an international flotilla in solidarity with the people of Gaza will not be deterred by implied threats of violence by the Israeli government, say the boat's organizers.

The Israeli media recently reported that that country's UN ambassador, Meron Reuben, asked the international organization to stop the flotilla, which is expected to include some 12 boats carrying a thousand nonviolent civilians from dozens of countries. Reuben characterized the activists as "terrorists" with ties to Hamas, the Islamist party that rules Gaza, who are "willing to become martyrs."

Jane Hirschmann of the US Boat to Gaza, which is organizing the US participation in the flotilla, said that the Israeli charges "are absurd and would be laughable if it were not for the fact that last year, the Israeli military boarded a Turkish boat with aid for Gaza and killed nine unarmed civilians, including an American."

The use of "the language of anti-terror", retired US Col. Ann Wright, one of the people who will be on the boat and who was on the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla which was attacked by the Israeli military, said, is a "not very subtle threat against the nonviolent human rights activists who will be aboard The Audacity of Hope and our partner ships. We have no ties to Hamas or any political party. We are sailing in peace, we are sailing unarmed, but be assured that, despite these threats, we are definitely sailing."

Press contact: Felice Gelman

The official site of the US leg of the Freedom Flotilla - Stay Human is: here

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Turkey refuses to help Israel block flotilla 2 from reaching Gaza


Israel asked Turkey last week to stop the flotilla from heading to Gaza. Quite why they thought the Turkish state rush to their assistance on this one after seeing eight Turkish citizens gunned down by Israel (one was Furkan Dogan, a 19-year-old Turkish-American citizen, although the US was notably unconcerned by the death).
Israel mustn't attempt to stop a planned aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip, Turkey's Foreign Minister told in an interview on Monday, adding that Turkey could do nothing to stop organizers from launching the flotilla.

Turkey said on Thursday it had received a request from Israel to help stop activists sailing to Gaza on the first anniversary of an Israeli raid on a Turkish ship, but it said the flotilla plan was not Ankara's concern...

...Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu urged Israel not to "repeat the same mistake," adding that it was "Israel's responsibility not to implement [a blockade] against Gaza."

"A fact-finding mission of the UN declared that [the blockade] is illegal," Davutoglu said, adding that in last year's flotilla people were killed 72 miles [116 kilometers] from the coast, so this was in international waters. The Mediterranean does not belong to any nation." more


Roll of the dead from the Mavi Marmara assault:

Ibrahim Bilgen
Ali HaydarBengi
Cevdet Kiliçlar
Çetin Topçuoglu
Necdet Yildirim
Fahri Yaldiz
Cengiz Songür
Cengiz Akyüz
Furkan Dogan

International activists join battle to bring in harvest under the barrel of Israeli guns


In other parts of the world bringing in the harvest won't get you killed, but if you are a farmer in Gaza it is a different story. International activists have volunteered to help Palestinians bring in the harvest against the background of Israel having fired at and killed several people over the past month for venturing to close to it's self-declared buffer zone along the border.
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Just a kilometer from the 'security fence' separating Israel and Gaza, international solidarity activists and Palestinian volunteers on Monday began a wheat and barley harvest on behalf of landowners who fear Israeli artillery and gunfire in the no-go zone.

Several Palestinian farmers have been killed and injured in the area as they tended their land or collected crops. The Israeli army imposes a no-go zone inside the Gaza Strip border areas, citing security concerns. more

Monday, 25 April 2011

Fatah to give full support to Freedom Flotilla 2 says senior official


Senior Fatah officials will be allowed to take part in the aid flotilla, Shaath told Radio A-Shams, because it is a humanitarian effort meant to lift the blockade on Gaza.

When asked if the officials would require permission from Hamas or the IDF, Shaath said "we don't need authorization to reach our homeland - not from Hamas and not from Israeli security forces."

The flotilla is planning to set sail at the end of May, marking the one-year anniversary to the Mavi Marmara incident – the first Gaza flotilla where nine Turks were killed when they attacked IDF commandos trying to keep their ship from reaching Gaza’s shores. more

For more on the flotilla's preparations go to:
Freedom Flotilla
WitnessGaza
European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza

'Check the Label' boycott Israeli dates campaign swings into gear


On 10th May, FOA and Zaytoun will be launching the Check the Label – Boycott Israeli dates campaign.

Every year, Israel exports millions of pounds worth of dates to the world, which many people unknowingly buy and use to break their fasts. These dates are grown in illegal settlements in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, on land that has been stolen from Palestinians. By buying these dates, we are in fact helping Israel to continue its occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people.

For this reason, Friends of Al Aqsa will again be launching the ‘Check the Label’ Campaign. We would like activists to attend to ask any questions, share experiences and collect campaign literature.

What: Media and Public Launch of ‘Check the Label’ Boycott Israeli Dates Campaign

When: Tuesday, 10th May, 2011 - 6.30pm

Where: 10 Greycoat Place, Victoria, London, SW1P 1SB

To register your place, please email your name to arif@aqsa.org.uk with the title: ‘Check the Label Launch’.

Join the lobby of UK parliament by Palestine solidarity groups set for 11 May


On 11th May 2011 FOA and other solidarity groups will hold a national lobby for Palestine.

Lobbying is an attempt to influence politicians on specific issues by providing them with information and facts. FOA want you to contact your MP and arrange to meet them between 12pm and 6pm on 11th May 2011 to encourage them to support Palestine. Please book a day off if you need to as it is important we lobby as many MPs as possible so that they are aware that Palestine is a key issue.

We are encouraging anyone who has a Palestine badge, t-shirt or wrist band to wear it into Parliament to draw attention to the lobby for Palestine. If you do not have a badge or t-shirt but would like to order one you can visit FOA’s online shop.

There will be a briefing paper online soon and there will be briefing sessions available on the day with members of FoA so you will have plenty of help planning for your meeting with your MP.

FIND YOUR MP and his/her contact details by entering your postcode here.

If you chose to write an email or a letter you can use this sample letter:



SAMPLE LETTER

Dear ___________

I would like to request a meeting with you in Parliament on Wednesday 11thMay 2011 anytime between 12 noon and 6pm in order to discuss some issues which are very important to me, and many of your other constituents. On this day many constituents will be meeting with their MPs to discuss the issue of Occupied Palestine and I hope we can meet for the same purpose.

Specifically, I hope we can talk about the following issues:

1. Make you aware 'Britain2Gaza' is joining Freedom Flotilla II

2. Britain views the Israeli Settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territories as illegal. I would like to discuss Britain’s role in leading the international community in ensuring that international law is upheld and that Israel is made to adhere to it and ends its illegal settlement policies.

3. In light of the human rights abuses committed by Israel as documented by numerous international bodies including the United Nations, Britain should ask the EU to suspend the EU – Israel Association Agreement. (Further details can be seen here: http://eeas.europa.eu/israel/index_en.htm. )

4. The siege in Gaza is almost in its fourth year and has caused incredible amounts of suffering. It needs to end and Britain must put pressure on Israel to open up all borders.

I hope we can meet and I look forward to seeing you in Parliament.

Warm regards,
___________

Please encourage others to contact their MP and email Shamiul@aqsa.org.uk to let FOA know once a meeting has been confirmed

http://www.foa.org.uk/campaigns/lobby-of-parliament

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Rafah crossing opens briefly but Egypt makes no commitment to lift siege


Despite talk of 'solidarity' trips emanating from Egypt's ruling military council, Egypt is still dragging its feet on opening the Rafah crossing. It opened briefly today.
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- The Rafah crossing will operate Sunday for those who registered last week, a crossings official said.

Egyptian authorities will open the crossing after it was shut down for two consecutive days over the weekend for Egyptian holidays.

Officials said Thursday that the Egyptian government would apply new procedures at the Rafah crossing on the Egypt-Gaza border to ease travel for residents of the besieged coastal enclave.

During a meeting in Cairo, Baha Ad-Dusuqi, head of Palestinian affairs in the Egypt's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, informed Gaza government spokesman Taher An-Nunu that new measures would be in place at the terminal soon. more

Farmer shot on northern border as Israel moves to expand illegal buffer zone


Another farmer shot as IDF enforces its illegal 'buffer zone' on the northern border. Indeed, Israel is now taking measures to expand the zone with moves to reopen the tallest observation tower in Gaza at Nahal Oz. It is sited in the same disused industrial zone east of Gaza City that saw warehouses destroyed by the IDF earlier this week.
A Palestinian farmer was shot yesterday by Israeli gunfire during his work in the north of Beit Lahya, northern Gaza Strip. more

Thursday, 21 April 2011

US weapons give-a-way to Israel used to kill 735 Palestinian children in past decade


From Mondoweiss
It is well-known that Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. military aid and that U.S. weapons provided to Israel make the United States intricately, deeply, and comprehensively complicit in Israel’s human rights abuses of Palestinians. However, until now, the extent of U.S. weapons transferred to Israel and the direct relationship between these weapons and Israel’s killing of Palestinian civilians has been difficult to detail.

Not any longer.
To coincide with Tax Day, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation launched a new website: How Many Weapons to Israel? to catalogue and quantify the types, values, and quantities of U.S. weapons transferred to Israel between 2000-2009. Even for someone like myself who works everyday to challenge U.S. military aid to Israel and follows the issue closely, the results of our research are eye-popping. The sheer magnitude of weapons given to Israel is staggering; the devastation caused to Palestinians by these weapons is heart-breaking. Our research shows that during the past decade, the United States provided Israel with more than 670 million weapons and related equipment, valued at nearly $19 billion, through three major weapons transfer programs. In our database, we detail more than 500 different weapons categories, along with the value and quantity of each type of weapon transferred to Israel...

...How Many Weapons to Israel? paints a disturbing picture of the extent to which the United States is saturating Israel with weapons. Take just one example: in the last three years alone, the United States has provided Israel with enough ammunition (47 million pieces) to kill every Palestinian in the Occupied Territories more than ten times over! What a truly frightening thought.

If Israel were using these weapons for their intended purpose under U.S. law, which is restricted to “legitimate self-defense” and “internal security,” then perhaps these weapons transfers would raise only fiscal concerns. However, How Many Weapons to Israel? also makes clear the moral and political implications of arming Israel.

From September 2000-December 2009, roughly the same period during which the United States transferred these weapons to Israel, the Israeli military killed at least 2,969 Palestinians who took no part in hostilities, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. How Many Weapons to Israel? demonstrates the direct correlation between Israel’s killing of Palestinian civilians and types of weapons provided to it by the United States. Returning to the example of ammunition, the database reveals that Israel killed 1,931 unarmed Palestinians, including 735 children, with small arms gunfire.
more
Browse the databases at How many weapons to Israel.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Boat launch by monitoring group aims to highlight plight of Gaza's fishermen


On Wednesday April 20th, the "Oliva", a human rights monitoring boat with an international crew, will launch from the port of Gaza City. This initiative has the support of dozens of international organizations and numerous local Palestinian organizations. The crew of the Civil Peace Service, which currently consists of citizens from Spain, the United States, Italy and Belgium, will accompany Gazan fishermen within Palestinian waters. Violations of international law will be monitored and documented. Data and video materials will be collected and disseminated.

Vittorio Arrigoni, the murdered human rights activist, strongly supported this project and therefore a commemoration of his life and work will be held at the end of the press conference.

The launch of Oliva, an 8-meter long white motor boat, will inaugurate the Civil Peace Services mission in Palestinian waters. Since Operation Cast Lead, access to fishing grounds has been unilaterally restricted by Israel to 3 nautical miles. This dramatic reduction of the 20-mile limit which was agreed upon in the Oslo Accords has resulted in the overexploitation of fishing grounds in which stocks are close to exhaustion. Fishermen are threatened by gunfire, confiscation of their boats and fishing tools and arrest by the Israeli Navy which regularly launches attacks and incursions in Palestinian waters.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, nearly 90% of Gaza's 4000 fishermen are now considered either poor (with a monthly income of between 100 and 190 US dollars) or very poor (earning less than 100 dollars a month), up from 50% in 2008. more

Palestinian prisoners' day appeal from campaign to free PFLP's Ahmad Saadat


On Palestinian Prisoners' Day, April 17, 2011, the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat salutes all of the over 5,700 Palestinian prisoners inside the Israeli occupation's jails, and calls upon all those concerned for justice and freedom to join and build the largest possible international movement to secure the freedom of all Palestinian prisoners, and of the entire Palestinian people.

Palestinian prisoners have always stood as the backbone of the Palestinian national movement. Their continued steadfastness in the face of torture, isolation, denial of medical care and family visits, and their continual willingness to confront the occupation, engaging in hunger strikes and protests and demanding their rights, is an inspiration to all.

In moments of Palestinian national division or despair, the voice of prisoners has remained a clarion call and a beacon: an example of national unity, forged in struggle, and full commitment not only to the liberation of all Palestinian prisoners, but also to the liberation of Palestine, to the resistance, to self-determination, to freedom, to the return of Palestinian refugees. The valiant struggle of Palestine's political prisoners is central to the Palestinian movement for national liberation; it is the struggle of the Palestinian people.

We also note today the Palestinian and Arab political prisoners held in jails around the world, many for their own support of the Palestinian struggle and the Palestinian cause, and call for the freedom of all of those prisoners, and of all political prisoners in the jails of their oppressors around the world. We demand that governments end their investigations of and repression against activists supporting Palestine - from the U.S., where 23 activists face grand jury subpoenas and FBI raids for their public activity in support of Palestine, to France, where boycott, divestment and sanctions activists have been threatened with charges for boycotting Israeli goods, to Argentina, where an activist was arrested for organizing a Nakba commemoration - to everywhere around the world. Instead of attempting to suppress and silence voices of justice and solidarity, these governments must act to end their complicity and support for Israeli war crimes and occupation against the Palestinian people.

On Palestinian Prisoners' Day, we urge the new Egypt to mark this day by releasing all remaining Palestinian prisoners in Egyptian jails. We greet the Arab popular movements with solidarity and call for the freedom of all Arab political prisoners in Arab jails.

Furthermore, we also spotlight today the village of Awarta, which has been subject to closure, home invasions, mass kidnappings, detentions, forced DNA testing of hundreds of women, lengthy imprisonment of children, and interrogation of thousands of Palestinians. Awarta is under siege, and we stand today with the people of Awarta subject to massive and arbitrary detention and call for international attention and solidarity with the people of Awarta.

We also stand with the people of Gaza struggling to break their own siege, and note that Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails from Gaza have been denied family visits for years. We demand an end to the siege of Gaza and the siege of its prisoners!

For over two years, Ahmad Sa'adat, the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, has been held in isolation in the occupation prisons. He has been regularly regularly denied family visits, denied access to books or reading mateial, and denied basic exercise and medical care.

Sa'adat was kidnapped by the Israeli occupation army on March 14, 2006 from where he and his comrades, Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, Majdi Rimawi, Basil al-Asmar, and Hamdi Qur'an, were imprisoned in the Palestinian Authority's Jericho Prison under U.S. and British guards. The U.S. and British guards removed themselves immediately prior to the Israeli attack, making clear that the U.S. and the U.K. were directly complicit in the attack on Jericho.

Sa'adat, the leader of a major Palestinian political party and an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, had been held in Israeli pri sons for nearly six years at various times, held repeatedly in "administrative detention," where Palestinians are held without charge or trial under secret evidence. He was held in PA prisons for four years before his kidnapping and has now been held in the occupation's prisons for five years.

Ahmad Sa'adat is not only a national leader of the Palestinian people, he is a recognized leader and symbol of the Palestinian prisoners' movement - a symbol of steadfastness and commitment to Palestine and its people in the face of all forms of abuse and violation. And it is because Sa'adat represents that voice - the voice of the prisoners - that he has been placed in isolation, in an attempt to silence not only Sa'adat himself, but the Palestinian prisoners' movement, and through that, the conscience of the Palestinian revolution.

However, neither Ahmad Sa'adat, nor the Palestinian prisoners, nor the Palestinian people, have been compelled into silence or submission by isolation and torture. Rather, their voice is heard, more clearly than ever, calling for justice, freedom, and liberation. Today, and every day, we stand beside Ahmad Sa'adat and the prisoners of freedom, and encourage all around the world to join us in building the call to free Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian prisoners!

On Palestinian Prisoners' Day, please write us at info@freeahmadsaadat.org to inform us about actions or events in support of Palestinian political prisoners. We encourage you to hold educational events, demonstrations and activities in support of Palestinian prisoners and distribute information about Ahmad Sa'adat, Palestinian prisoners, and the Palestinian cause.

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat
http://www.freeahmadsaadat.org/
info@freeahmadsaadat.org
Twitter:http://twitter.com/freeahmadsaadat

Egyptian foreign minister to make Gaza solidarity visit, says QudsNet


This is great news if it turns out to be true. Egypt has stopped building the steel wall but is yet to fully open the border with besieged Gaza.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil El-Arabi intends to visit Gaza soon, according to the independent Palestinian news website Quds Net (English).

The website reported that "reliable sources" in Egypt said El-Arabi asked his deputies to begin preparations and set a schedule for an upcoming visit to Gaza.

The sources confirmed that El-Arabi took this step to express the Egyptian people’s solidarity with Gaza which is and has been under Israeli blockade for over four consecutive years.

The delegation accompanying El-Arabi will include prominent figures from the Egyptian government, the sources explained. more

Friday, 15 April 2011

Vittorio Arrigoni's body found - killing won't weaken Palestine solidarity movement


The death of activist Vittorio Arrigoni is a crime against the Palestinian people and all those who support their struggle in any way they can. Vittorio chose to be with the people of Gaza and was welcomed by them. Far from letting Israel profit from this tragedy, the international movement to boycott Israel and actively support the Palestinian liberation struggle should be galvanised, a living tribute to the memory of Vittorio and the 35 other people in Gaza who have died these past two weeks, of course all at the hands of the Israelis except in the latest death. To kill a person who is actively showing solidarity is so incredibly counterproductive as to be almost beyond comprehension. The 'salafists' that beat and hung Arrigoni are now retracting earlier claims of responsibility - a testament to the bankruptcy of both their theory and practice.

The body of Vittorio Arrigoni, a pro-Palestinian activist from Italy, is found just hours after a small Islamist group, the Tawhid and Jihad, said it was holding him in exchange for the release of its leader. On Friday, the group retracted its claim of responsibility but defended the killing.
more

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Netanyahu hints at backing down over flotilla as pressure mounts on Israel

Has the Israeli state come to the realisation that killing aid and human rights workers doesn't play very well around the world?

There is news today that Netanyahu may allow Freedom Flotilla 2 to reach Gaza, under certain circumstances. We all need to keep up the pressure on both Israel and the governments of the activists who are joining the flotilla. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu studies the possibility of allowing international flotilla to reach Gaza if flotilla organizers agreed their vessels be checked by international forces beside Israeli, Israeli media reported.

In further development on the Goldstone report, three UN investigators have distanced themselves from Goldstone's 'retraction', declaring that they stand by their report in its entirety: in other words Israeli did, and continues to, deliberately target civilians employing the excuse that 'terrorists' use them as human shields.

Political sources told Israeli Channel 2 TV station that Tal Aviv main concern is to make sure that flotilla’s vessels are being used to smuggle weapons to Gaza militants. The sources added that the reason Israel wants a third party to be involve is to avoid any clashes with the flotilla organizers and in the same time make sure that the flotilla does not break the blockade. more

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Gaza border re-opened after week of closure as four die in tunnel collapse


Israel re-opened the sole available crossing into Gaza today, after it's been shut for a week. Also, and probably as a direct consequence of Israeli bombing, four workers died when the tunnels they were working in collapsed.

On what could only be described as a lighter note, Justin Bieber is on tour in Israel - presumably no one told him about the artists' boycott movement. It seems that Israel had in mind some PR stunt while he was in the country by getting him to meet young residents of Sederot, near the Gaza border. It appears Justin didn't show up and now the pro-Israel gang is jumping up and down claiming he's insulted Israel. He shouldn't be in Israel in the first place if he has any sense of righting injustices in the world and making a good example for his fans.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Freedom Flotilla 2 on schedule as Netanyahu pleads with Europe to stop the aid convoy


Flotilla organisers are not disclosing how many ships will be sailing or their points of departure because of security concerns. Netanyahu on Monday called on European governments to try and prevent their nationals joining the mission - now that's not very democratic is it Mr Netanyahu? The Jerusalem Post claims that IHH - the Turkish charity that chartered the Mavi Marmara - may delay sailing until after the Turkish elections which take place in June.
A flotilla of ships is preparing to sail to Gaza to mark the first anniversary on May 31 of a deadly Israeli raid against a similar convoy, organisers said Monday.

"Preparations are on track, adequate conditions for the departure of the ships will be met by the end of May," Vaggelis Pissias, an organiser of the Ship to Gaza mission, told a news conference in Athens.

Dubbed "Freedom Flotilla II", the mission will bring together participants from 50 countries in a bid to break Israel's blockade of Gaza.

Israeli troops raided a previous flotilla last May 31 in a controversial operation that left nine Turkish activists dead and drew international condemnation.

For security reasons, organisers said they would not disclose the number of ships taking part this year or their point of departure, although they have previously said 15 ships could participate, compared with six last year. more

Monday, 11 April 2011

Lieberman wants Gaza killing to continue, says ceasefire not in Israel's interest


The death toll in Gaza since a bus was hit in Israel has now risen to 19 with the third day of attacks claiming five more lives. Talk of a ceasefire has receded this morning with news that Israel's foreign minister, the ultra right-wing fruitcake Lieberman, is calling for no ceasefire "on Hamas's terms", claiming any such move would not be in Israel's interest. But somehow killing more innocent men women and children is? Surely they must know that a new war against the civilian population of Gaza will create a firestorm of protest around the world, and most importantly in Egypt. At minimum we can expet to see the Israeli embassy in Cairo burnt to the ground and the generals forced to rip up the 'peace' treaty with the settler state. Others in the cabinet also make no secret of their desire for another war:
National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau, also of Israel Beiteinu, echoed Lieberman's calls to use force in order to deter Hamas, saying that "We needed to finish of the job in Operation Cast Lead."

Landau opined that the IDF needs to work on Hamas's fear of losing power and influence amongst the Palestinian population. "If we really want to deter Hamas, we must exploit their fear of losing control in the strip," Landau said, adding that "Our targets need to be their leaders." more


The Israeli leadership should be careful what it wishes for as it is Hamas that has been holding back other armed groups in Gaza and any dimunition of their power base would like see more radical elements gain in influence.

Meanwhile, the Arab League is calling on the UN to impose a no-fly zone over Gaza, which of course the US will veto because Gazans are obviously the wrong kind of civilians.

The Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza remains closed for a sixth day. It was the only open crossing into Gaza as Israel has recently decided to permanently shut the major commercial crossing at Erez. There is now a fuel crisis in Gaza. No fuel has entered the strip for 11 days.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

13 killed by Israel in past 24 hours as convoys get ready to break Gaza siege

13 killed in the past 24 hours but that won't stop the aid convoy heading to Gaza.
ANTALYA, (PIC)-- President of the Turkish IHH relief society Bulent Yildirim has confirmed that Gaza aid convoys will continue by land, air and sea as the Turkish Mavi Marmara gears for its next journey from Europe.

He said so during a ceremony in Antalya in memory of the nine Turks who were shot dead when Israeli occupation forces raided the Mavi Marmara ship while on its route to deliver humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip last May.

Yildirim announced that the Mavi Marmara will set sail once again but this time from Europe in a Gaza flotilla running under the same name as the first. 15-20 ships are slated to be launched from everywhere in the world, he said.

”Israel must know that the Mediterranean doesn't belong to it,” Yildirim said. "This sea and land convoys will continue.” more

Friday, 8 April 2011

Israel kills more Gazans while west fails to condemn mounting Palestinian death toll of past weeks

At least five killed [update 6:57 GMT]: 6 dead 40 injured] in Israeli attacks on Thursday in Israeli air and artillery assaults. Not a word of condemnation from the West as Netanyahu tests how far he can push it. Will this be the start of something bigger, which is what those on the right have been lobbying for and government ministers hinting at, with the bus hit a convenient 'justification' for more massacres? In the pastbtwo weeks at least 21 Palestinians have been killed.
Gaza, (Pal Telegraph) - Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported on Thursday that five Palestinians were killed and at least 40 residents, including children, were wounded in several Israeli air strikes and a ground attacks that were initiated on Thursday at noon.

A fighter of the Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas movement, was killed when the army bombarded Al Shouka area, in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The fighter was identified as Saleh Al Tarabeen.

Three residents, identified as Mohammad Al Mahmoum, 22, Mos’ab Al Soufy, 17, and Khaled Ad-Dabary, 23, were killed when the army bombarded Al Jaradat area in Rafah.

On Thursday at noon, resident Mahmoud Al Manasra, 50, was killed, and at least five residents, including a child, were injured when the army fired more than 20 artillery shells into Al Shijaeyya neighborhood, east of Gaza City.

Furthermore, four Palestinians were moderately wounded when the army fired three shells into the Gaza International Airport in Rafah. The airport remains nonoperational since 2000, and was repeatedly bombarded and bulldozed by the army. more

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Sudan air strike fails to assassinate senior al-Qassam brigades fighter, kills two others


Contrary to earlier reports, an Israeli air strike in Sudan (at Port Sudan on the Red Sea) yesterday that targeted a member of Hamas's military wing, Abdul Latif, did not ksucceed in killing him, although two other people died.
Member of the Palestinian legislative council from Hamas Ismail Ashkar announced Thursday that his nephew Abdul Latif Ashkar survived the Port Sudan strike on Tuesday. Al-Arabiya reported earlier that Abdul Latif, who is considered Mahmoud al-Mabhouh's heir, was one of the victims.

Two people were killed in the aerial attack on a car in Port Sudan on Tuesday, one of whom was reportedly a Hamas man.

The legislator stressed that his nephew is doing well. "God saved him," he said. Ashkar described Abdul Latif as a prominent leader in Hamas's military wing who had escaped several attempts on his life. more

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Israel prevents import of 700 types of goods into Gaza - mostly construction material


Israel closed the Kerem Shalom crossing today. It is stopping the transfer of 700 classes of goods, much of it related to the building sector. Israel's deliberate moves to hinder reconstruction are a form of collective punishment of Gaza's population.
Palestinian crossings official Raed Fattouh, who coordinates entry of goods between Israel and Gaza, said that Israeli authorities are prohibiting the passage of at least 700 goods into Gaza.

In a press statement Wednesday morning, Fattouh made clear that the Israeli Occupation Forces are preventing 50 per cent of Gaza imports to pass due to excuses that are unsubstantiated and unconvincing.

Fattouh pointed out that most of the prohibited material belongs to the building and construction sector, which increased the housing problem in the strip that had been piling up for four years. more

Goldstone denies he intends to call for retraction of Gaza war crimes report


Goldstone is not retracting after all, although this won't stop Israel from seeking to get it thrown out by the UN.
South African jurist Richard Goldstone said Tuesday that he did not plan to seek nullification of his highly critical UN report on Israel's 2008-2009 offensive in the Gaza Strip and asserted that claims to the contrary by Interior Minister Eli Yishai were false...

...In an interview with The Associated Press, Goldstone said that Yishai had called him on Monday to thank him for an op-ed piece published Friday in The Washington Post in which the judge wrote that new information had come to light that made him rethink his central conclusions.

Goldstone said, however, that he never discussed the report with Yishai in the telephone conversation. Israeli leaders have called for the report to be retracted since it was issued in 2009.

"There was absolutely no discussion about the Goldstone report on the call," the jurist said in a telephone interview from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

Goldstone said he thanked Yishai for calling and "stated that my concern was to work for truth, justice and human rights."

Goldstone did confirm that Yishai had invited him to visit Israel and that he had accepted but would be unable to travel there until July.

"I ended the conversation by expressing my love for Israel," Goldstone said, adding that Yishai spoke in Hebrew which was translated for the judge. more

Thousands turn out for funeral of Jewish-Palestinian director and activist Juliano Mer-Khamis


Mondoweiss has posted round-up of coverage of the funeral of popular Jewish-Arab theatre director Juliano Mer-Khamis, including the following from the Palestinian Popular Committees Against the Wall:
In memory of our beloved friend Juliano Mer-Khamis

Juliano Mer-Khamis embodied the uncompromising struggle for freedom and for dignity. With his brutal murder the Palestinian struggle has lost a brilliant charismatic and courageous fighter for justice and freedom. Both parts of his life's work were seamlessly joined. His art was inseparable from his political commitment. The dignity and humanity which his art sustained were just as important to Palestinian resilience -sumud as his explicitly political work. His life was tragically cut short but he nevertheless managed to live a life full with purpose and meaning. In his typical way he fully dedicated himself to realizing his principles and gave up the comfort of life in Haifa to move to Jenin.

The Freedom theater which Mer-Khamis founded enriched the lives of countless young participants who all loved Juliano and their audience. It demonstrated the resilience of Palestinians, who transcended the most difficult situations to create a lasting legacy of art and consciousness. The effect of the Freedom theater reached far beyond Jenin and even the West Bank. People throughout the world were inspired to support the work of the theater and Palestinian solidarity in general.

We offer his family our condolences and support. We will always remember and miss him. His legacy will continue to inspire us to struggle for dignity and liberation. We will follow Juliano's example in his work and in his spirit.
more

Gaza's only working crossing, Kerem Shalom, closed by Israel


The only crossing into Gaza was closed by Israel today.
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities closed Wednesday the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza, Palestinian officials said.

Israeli officials said the crossing will be closed for the day due to "security reasons", Palestinian crossings liaison official Raed Fattouh noted. more

Israeli airstrike on civilian targets injures four including pregnant woman


Air strikes on civilians in Gaza every day and not a word of condemnation from the UN security council, let alone a no-fly zone. Four injured today, including a pregnant woman, as war planes hit a factory.
Gaza Strip, (Pal Telegraph)- Four Palestinians including a pregnant woman were injured Wednesday morning as Israeli warplanes targeted the east part of Gaza Strip.

According to local sources, Israeli air strikes hit a plastic factory and agricultural land in Al-Tufaah suburb leaving great damage and wounding four citizens. more

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Tank shelling kills Palestinian at Gaza's northern border fence


Another Palestinian was killed today, at the northern border fence near the closed Erez crossing. Haaretz reports one dead while the Palestine Telegraph says two gravel workers were attacked but reports no deaths as yet - not clear if this is the same incident.
At least two Palestinians were shot by Israeli gunfire during their work in Beit lahia, northern Gaza Strip.

According to SAFA News Agency, Israeli tanks stationed at the northern borders opened massive fire at Palestinian workers who were collecting gravels in that area causing two people injured.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Gaza power plant engineer charged with attempted murder and weapon design


Ukraine still hasn't complained about Israel kidnapping a Palestinian engineer on its territory. Now Israel's courts have published their trumped up charges - he designed rockets. Basically, anyone with a scientific and engineering background could be part of the rocket-designing and manufacturing infrastructure. Only if Gaza is thrown back to some pre-industrial stone age will Israel be satisfied. Dirar Abu Sisi is being charged with attempted murder, being a member of a terrorist organisation and developing weaponry.
A Palestinian engineer has been charged with hundreds of counts of attempted murder and accused of developing missiles that the Islamist group Hamas fired from Gaza against Israelis.

Dirar Abu Sisi, a director of the Gaza Strip's sole power station, said he was kidnapped during a visit to Ukraine in February and transferred secretly to Israel.

A court in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba handed down a 15-page indictment, revealing the allegations at the heart of the case. Abu Sisi denies wrongdoing and Hamas has said he was not a member of their organisation. more

Egypt's ElBaradei says he would declare war and open Rafah crossing if Gaza attacked

Further evidence as to why Israel opposed the democratic revolution in Egypt as the real will of the Egyptian people will now likely be expressed, and it's all bad for Israel. not clear if he means that the Rafah crossing would only be opened if Israel attacked and not before. Of course, he needs to be elected first before any of his words can be turned into action.
Former International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei, who had previously announced his intetions to run for the presidency of Egypt, said Monday that “if Israel attacked Gaza we would declare war against the Zionist regime."

In an interview with the Al-Watan newspaper he said: "In case of any future Israeli attack on Gaza - as the next president of Egypt – I will open the Rafah border crossing and will consider different ways to implement the joint Arab defense agreement." more

Goldstone U-turn on war crimes as Israel requests dropping of UN Gaza report


On the basis of Goldstone's about turn on the Gaza war in which he now claims in a Washington Post article that 'civilians were not deliberately targeted as a matter of policy', the Israelis are asking for the Goldstone Report to be withdrawn. What has led Goldstone to change his mind on the matter?

He draws attention to the case of the al-Simouni family. Twenty nine members of the family were wiped out by IDF shelling. An investigation is underway by the IDF but no report has so far emerged. Goldstone describes this delay as 'frustrating' but then goes on to say, with no evidence to support his position, that"
While the length of this investigation is frustrating, it appears that an appropriate process is underway, and I am confident that if the officer is found to have been negligent, Israel will respond accordingly.
This is an incredible leap of faith given the extremely poor record of the Israeli military in disciplining or prosecuting its soldiers. It would appear the harassment, slurs and threats aimed at Goldstone have had an effect on his commitment to pursue justice. See the pertinent excerpt from the Washington Post article below:
We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.

The final report by the U.N. committee of independent experts — chaired by former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis — that followed up on the recommendations of the Goldstone Report has found that “Israel has dedicated significant resources to investigate over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza” while “the de facto authorities (i.e., Hamas) have not conducted any investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.”

Our report found evidence of potential war crimes and “possibly crimes against humanity” by both Israel and Hamas. That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying — its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets.

The allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion. While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy. more

Palestinian fighters vow revenge for weekend killings by Israeli forces


The killing of three Palestinian fighters on Saturday follows hard on the heels of the 15 people killed by Israel in the previous week. Representatives of all military groups in Gaza have vowed to avenge the killings. Meanwhile, medics are preparing their emergency plans to deal with an Israeli offensive as tension continues to rise.
GAZA — Thousands of Palestinians attended the funerals on Saturday of three senior Hamas militants killed by Israel in an overnight airstrike in southern Gaza, and Hamas leaders warned that Israel would bear the consequences.

But the area remained calm on Saturday, and Hamas, the Islamic group that controls Gaza, seemed wary of fueling a new round of hostilities.

The Israeli strike early Saturday came a week after the armed Palestinian groups in Gaza reaffirmed their commitment to an unofficial cease-fire with Israel. The agreement ended 10 days of heavy rocket and mortar fire from Gaza against southern Israel, repeated Israeli airstrikes in Gaza and fears of an escalation into all-out confrontation. more

Friday, 1 April 2011

Islamic Jihad fighter dies in Gaza tunnel collapse as infiltration mission fails


GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories — An Islamic Jihad militant was killed Thursday when a tunnel he was digging to attack Israeli troops collapsed in the northern Gaza Strip, the group said.
"An Al-Quds Brigade member was martyred when a resistance tunnel collapsed," Islamic Jihad said in a statement, referring to its military wing.
It said the collapse was accidental and occurred near Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip. more