Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Israeli navy says it will illegally board flotilla boats again even as Turkey steps up warnings

Despite repeated warnings from Turkey, Israel is as belligerent as ever.
The Israel Navy is prepared to intercept and take control of the ships participating in the new flotilla to the Gaza Strip, a senior Navy officer said Tuesday on the anniversary of the IDF operation to stop the Mavi Marmara that ended in the death of nine Turkish nationals.

"We will order the ship to stop, but if they don't, we are prepared to intercept and board the ship," a senior officer told reporters.

The flotilla of 15 ships, organized by the Turkish humanitarian organization, IHH - which is outlawed in Israel due to its ties with Hamas, as well as The Free Gaza Movement - is planning to sail to the Gaza Strip in late June. more

Tank incursion with live fire in central Gaza Strip this morning, no casualties reported

Gaza Strip, (Samar Mohaisen - Pal Telegraph)- Israeli military vehicles invaded Tuesday morning limited areas in the east of al-Buriage refugee camp in central Gaza Strip. No causalities were reported.

According to SAFA News agency, eight Israeli bulldozers accompanied by three tanks stationed at the east of al-Buriage refugee camp and started razing operation to the agricultural lands, terrifying many citizens in fear of being hurt by Israeli fire. more

10 members of Islamic Jihad seized, but local leader escapes Jenin swoop

IMEMC - Israeli soldiers kidnapped on Tuesday at dawn ten members of the Islamic Jihad in the northern West bank city of Jenin, and nearby villages and towns, broke into offices that belong to the movement, the Palestinian People Party, and also shut down a charitable society.

Local sources reported that soldiers kidnapped Islamic Jihad members Mohammad Mardawi, Mona Hussein Qa’dan, Sujai Al Sheebany, from Arraba town, Bilal Thiab and Majdi Al Sheikh Ibrahim from Kufur Ra’ey, Ibrahim Baddad and Waleed Malabsha from Jaba’, Taha Sharqawy from Az-Zababda, Jamal Abdul-Fattah Yousef from Aneen, and Fadi Zyoud from Sielet Al Harthiyya.

The sources added that soldiers broke into dozens of homes in the Jenin district and installed a roadblock in the center of Kafreet town.

Furthermore, troops broke into the “Al Bara’ Society for Muslim Girls” in Jenin City by smashing its front door before confiscating its computers and files, and shutting it down.

The Islamic Jihad Movement issued a press release stating that soldiers broke into the home of Sheikh Khader Adnan, a political leader of the movement, and searched the property causing damage. Troops intended to kidnap Adnan but he
was not home. more

Three killed in unexplained explosion at popular resistance committee training camp in Rafah

Reports a week ago today spoke of bobby trapped weapons being infiltrated into supply chain in Sinai by Israeli operatives.

From Lebanon's The Daily Star
RAFAH, Palestinian Territories: Three Gazans were killed on Tuesday in a mysterious blast at a training camp used by militants of the Popular Resistance Committees near the Egyptian border, medics told AFP.

"Three martyrs were killed and four others were injured in a blast in a site belonging to the Popular Resistance in the Tel Sultan neighbourhood of Rafah," said Adham Abu Selmiya, spokesman for the Hamas-run medical services in Gaza.

The cause of the blast was not immediately clear, but the Israeli military told AFP it had "nothing to do with the explosion."

On October 20, 13 Palestinians civilians were injured by an explosion of undetermined origin in a Hamas security services building in Tel Sultan. more

Egyptian revolutionary blogger and TV presenter face military judges for criticising rights abuses

Hossam el-Hamalawy is being hauled before military Judges tomorrow (with other journalists, including TV presenter Reem Maged) for criticising human rights violations by the new Egyptian military government.

He is very important for the Revolution. Please defend him and the others by sending the statement below to menasolidarity@gmail.com (website is here) as soon as possible:

We condemn the decision to refer journalists Hossam el-Hamalawy and Reem Maged for questioning by military judges on Tuesday 31 May in relation to their discussion of violations of human rights by the Egyptian military police and the ruling Supreme Military Council on Reem’s political talkshow which aired on ONTV on 26 May 2011. We likewise condemn the decision to refer journalist Nabil Sharaf al-Din for questioning by military judges in relation to comments he also made on ONTV.

We will not stand by and see courageous journalists silenced, and we stand in solidarity with all Egyptians who are fighting to defend their rights to protest, strike and express themselves freely. These are precious gains of the revolution of 25 January, during which nearly 1000 Egyptians sacrificed their lives.

We call on the Supreme Military Council to cease its harassment of journalists, activists and citizens who exercise their basic human rights to question their rulers.

We affirm our support for the statement below on the right to strike and protest in Egypt which was first issued in March following the Egyptian cabinet’s decision to criminalise protests and strikes, but which is now more urgent than ever.

“The Egyptian people showed immense courage in overthrowing the dictator Mubarak. They braved armoured cars and bullets in order to win freedom and social justice. We call on Egypt’s current military and civilian rulers to respect the Egyptian people’s democratic rights, including the right to protest and strike. We call on the Egyptian cabinet to reverse its decision of 23 March 2011 to criminalise protests and strike action and to threaten those ‘inciting’ such action with imprisonment or huge fines. We demand that the British government cease to provide assistance, arms or equipment to the Egyptian army and security forces which could be used to repress strikes and protests.

We send our greetings to our brothers and sisters in Egypt’s independent trade unions, and pledge that we will not stand by while their rights are under threat. We will mobilise whatever solidarity we can to support their struggle for political freedom and social justice.”

Monday, 30 May 2011

European Gaza blockade busters blast Ban Ki-Moon for letter to states to 'discourage' flotilla 2

From the European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza

While the UN’s call for Israel to end the blockade of Gaza and avoid the use of violence is welcome, its simultaneous attempts to stop a flotilla of ships planning to set sail to break the siege has no basis in international law and violates the right of the Palestinian people to control their own ports, charges the European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza (ECESG).

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has sent a letter to all governments bordering the Mediterranean Sea, asking them to “use their influence to discourage” transit of any ships attempting to reach Gaza. In a written statement, he said he was concerned that future flotillas “have the potential to escalate into violent conflict,” as occurred a year ago when the Israeli military attacked the six-ship Free Gaza Flotilla, killing nine of the passengers on the lead boat, the Mavi Marmara. A new, larger flotilla is expected to sail to Gaza from multiple ports in late June, bearing hundreds of parliamentarians, journalists and other solidarity activists as well as aid such as construction materials — vital supplies that have not been allowed by Israel to enter the Strip legally for more than five years.

“Ban Ki-moon says assistance to Gaza should use ‘established channels,’ But Israel controls the only crossings through which good are allowed, and has used its power to reduce the 1.6 million people there to an immoral 38 percent poverty rate,” said Mazen Kohail, a member of the ECESG, “The UN itself just issued a report finding that 70 percent of the population in Gaza, more than a million people, are now dependent on food aid because of the economic impact of the blockade. That’s long enough to show that the ‘established channels’ don’t work or are being manipulated.

Kohail added that the ultimate mission of the flotilla is not to provide humanitarian aid only, but to bring international attention to the need and right of Palestinians in Gaza to open borders that allow them to trade and to travel in and out of their territory without threat. “Palestinians in Gaza have a right to their own sea, something Israel has denied to them in some form since 1967, and almost completely since 2006,” said a statement from the Free Gaza Movement.

Kohail declared that despite Ban Ki-moon’s letter, and the statement by Catherine Ashton, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, that she does not consider a flotilla to be the “right response” to the humanitarian situation in Gaza, plans to set sail will continue.

“If the ‘Arab Spring’ showed us one thing, it’s that governments won’t act on their own to protect civil rights,” added Kohail. “Only civil society — the people — can affect change, by taking matters into their own hands. The flotilla will continue to sail until the blockade is lifted and the Palestinians of Gaza are free.

Nine flotillas have attempted sail to Gaza since August 2008 to break Israel’s illegal stranglehold, three of which have been co-sponsored by the ECESG. Five of those flotillas were successful in entering Gaza; however, they were violently intercepted on the past four voyages — including last year’s, which was organized by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition — an international organization that brought all of the sponsors under one umbrella.

Kohail noted that the Freedom Flotilla 2 — using the slogan “Stay Human” in honor of Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian peace activist killed in Gaza earlier this year — will include the largest number of ships yet (still being finalized, but more than 10), which this time will depart from ports throughout the Mediterranean. The three new ships just announced will leave from Marseille, France; Genoa, Italy; and a port yet to be named in Germany. European countries to be represented in the flotilla are France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Greece, Spain, the UK and Ireland. Elsewhere, ships are being sent by delegations from the United States, Canada, Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Israel has controlled the Palestinian people for 63 years, since more than 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes or fled out of fear following the creation of Israel in 1948. That control intensified in 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip. Although Israel withdrew its settlers from Gaza in 2005, it has continued to control the inhabitants’ lives; since 2007, it has prevented most human traffic in and out of the densely populated Strip, while restricting imports and banning virtually all exports.

The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG)

Australians reaffirm their commitment to sail with peaceful non-violent Freedom Flotilla 2

From Antony Loewenstein's blog
On the eve of first anniversary of the deadly Israeli attack on the 2010 international Flotilla to break the siege of Gaza, Australian participants reiterated their determination to join the second Flotilla, which will set sail for Gaza at the end of June.

“We welcome Egyptian moves to partially lift the siege by opening the Raffah crossing,” said former Greens MLC Sylvia Hale, “but in itself this will not substantially alleviate the suffering of the people of Gaza.

“Despite the easing of the siege, men under 40 are not permitted to cross, making it impossible for them to find jobs outside Gaza. The refusal to permit raw materials to enter Gaza or exports to leave it, means widespread unemployment will continue.

“Gaza will not be free so long as the Israeli siege destroys the territory’s economy,” said Ms Hale.

“The Australian delegation is determined to join the second international Flotilla to break the siege,” said Vivienne Porzsolt of Jews Against the Occupation.

“The world witnessed the brutality of the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara 12 months ago, when nine activists were killed and many others injured and illegally detained,” Ms Porzsolt said.

“Such aggression must not go unchallenged. By participating in the Flotilla, we are opposing Israel’s acts of piracy in international waters and its illegal blockade of Gaza..

“We are committed to peace and non-violence and will offer no provocation or resistance to any action by the Israeli forces. Should any of us be injured, it will be the responsibility of the Israeli Government,” said Ms Porzsolt.

Canadian Boat to Gaza rejects government pressure and press witch hunt, on course to break blockade

Something of a witch hunt has commenced in Canada aimed at Canadian Boat to Gaza, but activists are not deterred. Today (30 May) marks the anniversary of the attack on the Mavi Marmara and the killing of nine activists by Israel
AFP OTTAWA — A group representing 200 Canadian organizations vowed on Monday to send a boat to the Gaza Strip as part of the second "Freedom Flotilla" despite Ottawa's warnings against "provocative" aid deliveries.

"The Canadian Boat to Gaza (CBG) is dismissing Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird's misinformation about the upcoming flotilla, and is promising to sail with the Freedom Flotilla II next month," the group said in a statement.

"CBG views Minister Baird's statement as an attempt to abdicate the Canadian government?s obligation to ensure the safety of the Canadians who will be on board the flotilla, including the Canadian boat Tahrir and to justify, in advance, any crimes Israel may commit against peaceful unarmed civilians from Canada and all over the world, as it did a year ago tomorrow," it added.

CBG claims to have the support of thousands of Canadians and some 200 local non-profit organizations. more

Canadian Boat to Gaza Statement: - We demand safe passage for Freedom Flotilla 2

Israelis invade Hebron overnight supported by 200 army vehicles, Palestinians excluded from own streets

The Israelis arrived at 1am and didn't leave until 5am, with occupation forces setting up checkpoints and roadblocks to hinder movement of Palestinian residents in their own city. There was no previous coordination with the Palestinian Authority. Around 50 settlers barricaded themselves into Joseph's Tomb, clashing with their own soldiers.
NABLUS (Ma’an) -- Israeli soldiers escorted 1,600 Israelis into the northern West Bank city of Nablus overnight Sunday to visit Joseph's Tomb.

An additional 200 Israeli settlers entered Palestinian neighborhoods without coordinating with Israeli authorities, an Israeli military spokesman said. more

30 British aid workers sign up for Freedom Flotilla 2 to break sea blockade of Gaza

PA - More than 30 British aid workers will join a flotilla heading towards Gaza in June, it has been announced.

Just over a year after a similar aid flotilla was raided by Israeli forces, leaving nine people dead on a Turkish boat, aid workers from around Europe will attempt to get through Israel's sea blockade.

Activists plan to congregate on Tuesday in London to remember the aid workers killed and to raise the profile of the new mission.

One of the event organisers, Ismail Patel, chairman of Friends of Al Aqsa, was on board the Mavi Marmara ship on which all nine aid workers died.

He said: "It is important that we do not forget the nine martyrs who were killed by Israeli commandos while trying to take aid to Gaza which has been under Israeli siege for six years. more

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Video: Night raid with live fire on Bil'in village spreads panic to intimidate anti-wall protesters


West Bank, (Pal Telegraph - Samar Mohaisen) Israeli occupation forces invaded Sunday the village of Bil’in in the west of Ramallah amid massive gunfire .

Rateb Abu Rahma, anti-wall committee coordinator, said that Israeli forces invaded the village causing a state of panic among civilians due to bombing loudly.

He added that Israeli military forces withdrew from the village without detentions reported.

Abu Rahma denounced the ongoing Israeli attacks against innocent people in order to prevent them from participating in the peaceful rallies which are organized to protest the construction of the Separation Wall.

After Israeli authorities started the construction of the Wall in 2005, Palestinians formed the Popular Committee Against the Wall with the participation of Israeli activists, international supporters, and Palestinian youths to organize weekly demonstrations calling for an end to the illegal Israeli acts in the area. more

Palestinian family's 1,000-year-old olive trees set on fire by settlers near Hebron

(pic: Olive trees destroyed and uprooted by the army, Ni'ilin earlier this year - Active Stills)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli settlers set fire to an olive grove belonging to a Palestinian family near Hebron on Friday, an international monitoring group reported.

The fire damaged 16 trees belonging to the Abu Haikel family in Tel Rumeida, Christian Peacemaker Teams said, adding that some of the trees affected were over 1,000 years old.

Palestinian firefighters arrived to put out the blaze, but Israeli soldiers confiscated their hoses and gave them old equipment to use, CPT said. more

One person wounded as Israeli troops open fire east of Gaza City

Gaza Strip, (Pal Telegraph)- A Palestinian citizens was injured Sunday as Israeli military forces opened fire at him in the east of al-Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza city.

Adham Abu Silmya, medical emergency spokesman, said that the man was hit in his right leg by Israeli gunfire near Malaka juncture in al-Zeitoun neighborhood .

He added that medical teams evacuated the man to Al-Shifaa hospital in Gaza city to receive medication; his health condition was described as moderate.

Flotilla activists to Ban Ki-moon: 'We will continue to sail to Gaza until Israel lifts its illegal blockade'

From the Free Gaza Movement

May 28, 2011

The Free Gaza movement welcomes Ban Ki-Moon’s request that all nations, including Israel avoid violence when our flotilla sails to Gaza at the end of June.

We also welcome his comments that, “Israel take "meaningful and far-reaching steps to end its closure of Gaza.”

News organizations over the past two days have decided to emphasize Ban’s concern for our flotilla by reporting he is telling governments to stop us. He can’t tell them that. He knows we are not the illegal entity in the Mediterranean, but Israel’s blockade of 1.5 million Palestinians is illegal. And as head of the United Nations, he knows that the UN High Commission for Human Rights produced a report that identified the blockade of Gaza as collective punishment – a war crime.

We would also remind the Secretary-General that while governments and international organizations are free to have a public opinion, the flotilla violates no international or laws of the sea and so an outright ban on our sailing to Gaza is essentially a statement against the rights of the Palestinian people to control their own ports, and lives.

We do not go to deliver humanitarian supplies to Gaza. Human rights work is already defined as humanitarian. Palestinians don’t need humanitarian aid, they need the right to trade and have open borders and come in and out of their territory without walls and gunboats and snipers shooting at them. Palestinians in Gaza have a right to their own sea, something Israel has denied to them in some form since 1967, and amost completely since 2006.

Our mission is to break that illegal siege on Gaza. Since governments seem to have their hands tied behind their backs, it is up to civil society to hold Israel’s feet to the fire. It seems as though, in diplomatic language, Ban is more concerned about how Israel’s violent response to our flotilla looks and does not want another international incident where Israel murdered nine of our passengers last year.

However, freedom riders in the US during the 1960s paid no attention to governmental warnings; and Arabs in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain and Syria seeking freedom are also ignoring similar threats, and so will we.

We are sailing at the end of June, and most countries and international bodies have made it clear they cannot stop us, because we are doing nothing illegal.

Mr. Secretary-General, the choice is Israel’s alone – either end the blockade or continue its violence against the Palestinians and their supporters. The blockade is violence and our effort reflects the best of the potential of the international community to stand up to injustice. Your choice is to support tyranny or to support freedom.


Saturday, 28 May 2011

3 members of International Solidarity Movement arrested at protest over village land taken by settlement

(Iraq Burin, pic:ISM)

From the International Solidarity Movement

This afternoon three members of the International Solidarity Movement were arrested during a peaceful demonstration in Iraq Burin. The activists from the UK, Denmark and Iceland had joined the villagers in protesting the loss of their land to the illegal Israeli settlement of Bracha, however the demonstration had barely began when the army began firing tear gas at the protesters. After four hours of shooting tear gas the army entered the village and occupied houses. The three activists were taken from the street and detained in a house with other Palestinians for over an hour before being arrested. The activists were released after four hours without charge.

Iraq Burin is a small village 8 km southwest of Nablus. The illegal settlement of Bracha is located approximately one mile southeast of the village, and is situated on around 100 dunams (25 acres) of village land, as well as more land from surrounding villages. In addition to the settlement itself, the land surrounding it is off-limits to the farmers who are prevented from accessing it due to its close proximity to the settlement, leaving them with less land to graze their sheep and harvest from. The villagers of Iraq Burin held weekly demonstrations last year to protest the expansion of Bracha, and their continued inability to access their agricultural land. This began as a reaction to a sharp increase in attacks from residents of the settlement. The attacks were frequently aided by the Israeli military, who would in turn invade the village, firing rounds of tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition at Palestinian civilians. However the village took the decision to stop the weekly protests when Mohammed Qadous (16) and Asaud Qadous (19) were shot dead by the Israeli military during a demonstration in March 2010. In January this year Oday Maher Hamza Qadous (19) was also shot dead by settlers whilst farming his land.

Updated on May 28, 2011 ISM

Abbas says no basis for peace talks - UN statehood vote only option, fears US sanctions

The Arab League has formally agreed to seek full UN membership for a Palestinian state. PA President Abbas says no basis for talks with Israel after Netanyahu rejects Palestinian rights and aspirations.
The Palestinian president said on Saturday there were "no shared foundations" for peace talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and seeking UN recognition of Palestinian statehood was his only option.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, addressing an Arab League meeting in Doha, expressed concern that taking the diplomatic step opposed by the United States and Israel could result in financial sanctions and urged Arab states to fill any gap. more
The US is against recognition of a Palestinian state and intends to use its veto at the security council, but this will not stop a vote by an emergency session of the general assembly using resolution 377 - the so-called 'uniting for peace' resolution - if the security council 'fails to maintain world peace and security'.
UNITED NATIONS (Ma'an) -- Palestine cannot join the United Nations if the US vetoes its application, General Assembly President Joseph Deiss said Friday.

The 15-member Security Council must recommend Palestine for UN membership before the General Assembly can vote on the application, Deiss said.

Israel and Washington strongly oppose Palestinians' bid for UN membership, and the US is widely expected to use its Security Council veto to stop the move.

In his Mideast policy speech on May 19, US President Barack Obama urged Palestinians not to take "symbolic actions" at the UN in September, which he said would not create an independent state.

A PLO official, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, suggested that Deiss was not familiar with the UN charter, and was acting as a European diplomat who sought a return to negotiations rather than in his capacity as General Assembly president.

PLO official Saeb Erekat has said Palestinians would activate UN resolution 377 if faced with a US veto in September.

The "Uniting for Peace" resolution states that if the Security Council fails to act to maintain world peace and security, the General Assembly should consider the matter in an emergency session. more

Reports rocket fired into southern Israel overnight - no injuries or damage says Israeli Army

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- A rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel overnight without causing casualties, Israel's army said Saturday.

"A rocket fired from Gaza landed last night in the Eshkol region and caused no injuries or damage," a military spokesman told AFP.

It was the first rocket to have been fired in nearly a month and a half. more

Ban Ki-Moon plays Israel's game by urging member states to 'discourage' flotilla 2

UN secretary general gets it wrong again. Instead of trying to discourage flotilla participation in order to undermine the 'potential to escalate into violent conflict', he should be demanding that Israel stops its piracy and massacres on the high seas and urge member states to provide protection.
The secretary general was said to be "following with concern media reports of potential flotillas to Gaza," said his spokesman Martin Nesirky.

Some 1,500 activists are expected to take part in the convoy that will embark at the end of June, seeking to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip, a year after a deadly Israeli raid on a similar fleet.

Ban "called on all governments concerned to use their influence to discourage such flotilla, which carry the potential to escalate into violent conflict."

The UN chief also called on "all governments, including the government of Israel, to act responsibly and with caution to avoid any violent incident." more

Rafah crossing opening still leaves Israel with a stranglehold over 1.5 million people

From the Jerusalem fund
For logistical, historical and infrastructural reasons, other crossing points into Gaza are ideal for the entry of commercial or humanitarian goods. Using data from the UN Office for the Coordinate of Humanitarian Affairs, which keeps track of what is allowed into Gaza, when and through which entry, we can see a stark contrast between the different crossings. Aggregate data from June 19, 2007 through May 19, 2011 presented in this pie chart exposes just how few goods come through the Rafah crossing.

But this chart also doesn't tell the whole story. Today, most of these crossing have been closed, and in fact, thus far in 2011 95% of trucks that were permitted entry to Gaza came through the Kerem Shalom crossing. Israel has, over time, practically shutdown all other crossings.

Check out the UNOCHA database here

Gaza fishermen injured after Israeli navy shells boat - appeal for international protection

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Israel's navy fired on fishing boats late Thursday, injuring three Palestinians, medics said.

The fishermen were transferred to Ash-Shifa hospital for treatment of moderate injuries, medical official Adham Abu Silmiya said...

...Fishermen in Gaza are calling for protection after four years of siege. more

Egypt finally opens Rafah crossing - but no men under 40 or commercial traffic allowed

AP report on Haaretz
After four years, Egypt has permanently opened the Gaza Strip's main gateway to the outside world Saturday morning.

The move to lift most travel restrictions on Gaza residents brings long-awaited relief to the territory's Palestinian population and a significant achievement for its Hamas rulers. But it raises Israeli fears it will be easier for militants to go in and out of Gaza.
The first busload of passengers crossed into Egypt on Saturday morning at the Rafah terminal, where about 400 Gazans awaited. more

Friday, 27 May 2011

Sign petition to President Obama to demand US apply pressure to ensure safe passage of flotilla

Sign the petition and get updated news about the Freedom Flotilla II -
Stay Human: http://bit.ly/stayhuman

We are writing to ask for your support for the Gaza Freedom Flotilla
scheduled to set sail in the second half of June to the besieged Gaza

At least ten ships with dignitaries, doctors, professors, artists,
journalists, and activists, as well as construction supplies and
humanitarian aid, will sail from ports in Europe to Gaza in an act of
non-violent civil disobedience to persuade the international community
to fulfill its obligations towards the Palestinian people and end
Israel's four-year illegal blockade of Gaza.

This is the second, large-scale citizen-to-citizen flotilla to be
launched by international grassroots groups. Organized by 14 national
groups and international coalitions, the flotilla will carry
approximately 1,000 passengers. It includes a US boat named The
Audacity of Hope, which will have aboard dozens of dedicated social
justice activists (visit: http://ustogaza.org/).

The last Freedom Flotilla in May 2010 included seven vessels carrying
nearly 700 passengers from 36 different countries. Israeli commandos
attacked the boats, shooting and killing nine passengers, injuring
over 50 and imprisoning all aboard.This tragedy opened the subject of
Gaza on the world stage and put considerable pressure on Israel to
ease the draconian siege on Gaza – something the international
community had failed to do for 3 years. For more information about the
Free Gaza Movement, visit: http://www.freegaza.org/

We ask you to sign this petition to show the overwhelming public
support for an end to siege of Gaza and the rights for Palestinians.
We also demand that the American administration apply pressure on
Israel to ensure that passengers are not violently attacked and to
allow the flotilla to sail to Gaza.


Freedom Flotilla to Gaza

Dear President Obama,

We demand that the US government apply political pressure on Israel to
ensure that passengers aboard the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza are not
violently attacked by the Israeli military.

The Freedom Flotilla II, to sail in late June, will hold around 1,000
passengers demanding for an end to the draconian siege on Gaza.
International organizations, including the United Nations, have
condemned the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. Your administration
must pressure Israel to uphold international law and allow the
Flotilla to pass to Gaza.

Around 35 American social justice activists will partake in this
mission aboard a boat named, The Audacity of Hope. We ask for your
support in ensuring their safety on this passage.

Sign the petition and get updated news about the Freedom Flotilla II -
Stay Human: http://bit.ly/stayhuman

PCHR Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the OPT (19– 25 May 2011)

(pic: PCHR - A number of Palestinian evacuate Ramadan al-Daghma who was wounded by Israeli force during a peaceful demonstration in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis, 20 May 2011)

Weekly report from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)

· A Palestinian civilian was killed by IOF near the border in the central Gaza Strip.
-A Palestinian civilian was wounded in the east of Khan Yunis in the south of the Gaza Strip.

· Two Palestinian boys sustained severe burns as a smoke bomb, left by IOF in Hebron, exploded.

· IOF continued to target Palestinian farmers in border areas in the northern Gaza Strip.
-IOF fired at Palestinian farmers in two separate incidents, but no casualties were reported.

· IOF continued to use force against peaceful protests in the West Bank.
- Two demonstrators, including an international human rights defender, were wounded.
- IOF arrested 11 demonstrators, including 10 Israeli solidarity activists and an international one.

· IOF conducted 38 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank.
- IOF arrested 15 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children.
- The arrested civilians include the mother of Sheikh Saleh al-Arouri, who was deported to Syria.

· IOF continued settlement activities and Israeli settlers continued their attacks in the West Bank.
- Israeli settlers caused severe damages to a Palestinian house, southwest of Bethlehem.
- Seventy olive trees in the vicinity of "Qidoumim" settlement, northeast of Qalqilya, were uprooted.
- Three women activists were attacked at Zaatara checkpoint, south of Nablus.

· Israel has continued to impose a total siege on the Gaza Strip and tightened the siege on the West Bank.
- IOF arrested at least 3 Palestinians at military checkpoints in the West Bank.


Israeli-American activist Rae Abileah speaks out on why she heckled Netanyahu's AIPAC speech

Israeli-American pro-Palestine activist Rae Abileah who disrupted Netanyahu's AIPAC speech and was violently assaulted and then arrested in her hospital bed tells her story at Mondoweiss:
Do you know that our Congress gave 29 standing ovations to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he spoke in the Capital on Tuesday, May 24? I couldn't watch this hero's welcome for a man who supports the continued building of illegal settlements, won't lift the siege of Gaza, and refuses to negotiate with the new Palestinian unity government. During the talk, when Netanyahu was praising young people rising up for democracy in the Middle East, and I took my cue to stand up from my seat in the Capitol Gallery, unfurl a banner, and shout, "No More Occupation! Stop Israeli War Crimes! Equal Rights for Palestinians!"
Immediately, I was tackled, gagged and violently shoved to the floor by other members of the audience, many of whom were still wearing their badges from the AIPAC conference this past weekend. Police dragged me out of the Capitol gallery, and an ambulance whisked me to the hospital, where I was treated for neck and shoulder injuries and put under arrest for disrupting Congress. After I disrupted, Netanyahu said to his Congressional audience, "You can't have these protests in Tehran; this is real democracy." more

Egyptian revolution deals potentially fatal blow to US-Israel Gaza siege

Time blog by Tony Karon
Egypt Pulls the Plug on a Failed U.S.-Israeli Gaza Strategy

Obama, in his Sunday speech at AIPAC, had warned Israel that the wave of democracy reshaping the Arab world meant that that "a just and lasting peace can no longer be forged with one or two Arab leaders... millions of Arab citizens have to see that peace is possible for that peace to be sustained." While the U.S. would stand by Israel unconditionally, Obama warned that "the march to isolate Israel internationally -- and the impulse of the Palestinians to abandon negotiations –- will continue to gain momentum in the absence of a credible peace process and alternative. And for us to have leverage with the Palestinians, to have leverage with the Arab States and with the international community, the basis for negotiations has to hold out the prospect of success."

The "basis for negotiations" offered by Netanyahu on Tuesday won't reverse the growing Arab and European skepticism of the prospects for success in U.S.-led negotiations. Wednesday's Egyptian announcement on Gaza seemed to underscore Obama's point. Gone is President Hosni Mubarak, whose own animus towards Hamas (the offspring of his domestic nemesis, the Muslim Brotherhood) made him an enthusiastic backer of the U.S.-Israel strategy on Gaza. Mubarak, as Obama implied, never represented the will of his people, and even before they elect a government certain to be tougher on Israel, an interim military leadership more heedful of public sentiment made clear it could no longer sustain the blockade.

But the siege strategy had failed long before this week. Its purpose had been not simply to prevent arms from entering the territory, but to topple Hamas. And it effectively achieved neither. From the moment the Islamist movement won the Palestinian legislative elections in January 2006, Israel — with the support of the U.S. — began to restrict Gaza's economic lifeline to the outside world. And after Hamas expelled security forces loyal to Fatah in a violent power struggle in 2007, Israel tightened the noose. The plan was to deprive Gazans of many basic commodities — not starving them, but "putting them on a diet" in the memorably callous explanation offered by a senior Israeli official -- in hopes that imposing a twilight existence on the territory would turn the civilian population against Hamas. Banned items ranged from basic construction materials to coriander, sage, ginger, A4 paper, notebooks, toys, pens and pencils, seeds and nuts, livestock, fishing nets and a host of other commodities with no plausible military use. more

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Gaza fishermen call on the international commmunity to protect them from Israeli Navy

Gaza fishermen have asked the international community to intervene to lift the maritime siege imposed upon them by the Israeli government, reduce restrictions on their operations, and provide them with international protection.

Tens of fishermen organized a sit-in in the port of Gaza and chanted for an end to piracy and shooting by the Israeli navy. more

Video: Veolia AGM Paris May 17 - no escaping the boycott, divestment and sanctions backlash

[iGaza users: You can also watch the video in the Video section of the app by searching 'Veolia agm bds' and share from there.]

On Tuesday 17th May 2011 10 BDS activists from the UK, from various groups including London BDS, Palestine Solidarity Camapign, the BDS National Committee, as well as Innovative Minds travelled to Paris to show solidarity and support for french BDS activists in their action outside the Veolia AGM.

Three French BDS groups had come together for the action: Association France Palestine Solidarite (AFPS), Campagne BDS-France and CAPJPO EuroPalestine.

Veolia has long been complicit in Israels illegal occupation of Palestinian land.

Veolia is helping build and operate the Jerusalem Light Railway, a project which the UN Human Rights Council has declared is a "clear violation of international law". The tram line runs across stolen Palestinian land connecting illegal Israeli settlements to Israel thereby helping consolidate the occupation.

Veolia also runs bus services for Israeli settlers running on apartheid highway 443 which is built on expropriated Palestinian land which until recently was totally barred to Palestinians.

Veolia's shameful crimes in Palestine also includes the Tovlan landfill site it operates in the occupied Jordan Valley where it helps Israel dump its toxic waste on to Palestinian land next to the Palestinian village of Abu Ajaj. The villagers now suffer persistent breathing problems and their animals have shorter lives and more still births are recorded.

The Veolia AGM was held at the conference hall in the Carrousel du Louvre, a shopping centre located in the Louvre Palace.

Inside the Carrousel, around 35 BDS activists from france the uk united to inform Veolia's shareholders of Veolia's crimes in Palestine.

Whilst security personnel prevented banners from being unfurled and prevented filming of the action they did not prevent the activists from holding placards and giving out leaflets to shareholders as they entered the AGM. In the AGM, shareholder after shareholder raised concerns about Veolia's actions in Palestine and the resulting loss of contracts around the word due to the BDS movement. Their questions dominated the AGM and received applause from the floor.

Veolia's chairman clearly shaken, abruptly cut the microphone, but it was too late. The bds activists had succeeded. Veolia's dirty secrets were out and Veolia's shareholders were asking questions and demanding answers.

Israel gets ready for internet war as flotilla looms and statehood vote comes in September

From The Marker (Haaretz)
The closer the date of the unilateral declaration approaches, the more the denizens of Internet are coming to life, promoting their opinions with ever-accelerating urgency. Their battle zone is the social media. You can see it in the Facebook statuses - for and against, in Twitter messages and in protest video clips on YouTube. The nearer September approaches, and with it the UN debate, the more this online activity is likely to escalate. But don't think the State of Israel is leaving the battlefield to the amateurs.

"We are intensively preparing ahead of September," says Chaim Shacham, head of the information and Internet department at the Foreign Ministry. Think of him as the Israeli government's tweeter.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor adds: "We all expect something to happen in September. We don't know what yet, but clearly there's going to be some sort of diplomatic development. We have our finger on the pulse in terms of the social media too." more

Egypt demanding Malaysian aid ship's sewage pipes transferred via Israel instead of Rafah

From Ahram Online
Activists on a Malaysian aid ship that had been bound for Gaza refused to hand their cargo to Egypt on Thursday, saying they feared it would end up in Israel.

They had tried to land in Gaza last week but changed course when the Israeli navy fired warning shots.

Matthias Chang, who is heading the mission for the Perdana Global Peace Foundation, told AFP the group was not consulted when the Malaysian and Egyptian governments worked out a deal to end the impasse. Chang said Egypt had insisted the cargo be discharged and transported via Kaern Shalom, at the Israeli border in Gaza.

"We are not assured that this cargo would in fact be delivered to Gaza, as in the past... most of the humanitarian aid was laid to waste in Israel," he added.

Chang also questioned Cairo's refusal to allow the cargo, consisting of 7.5 kilometres (4.6 miles) of sewage pipes, to be transferred via the Rafah crossing -- Gaza's only crossing that bypasses Israel -- given that it would be open this weekend.

"This turn of events demonstrates the insincerity of the Egyptian government and their implicit endorsement of the illegal siege when they explicitly stated they would permanently open the Rafah crossing," Chang said. more

Establishment of $1 billion investment fund announced for Gaza reconstruction

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Muhammad Mustafa, the Palestine Investment Fund president, announced Thursday the establishment of a $1 billion investment fund for the reconstruction of Gaza.

The rumored top candidate for the role of prime minister in the new technocrat government arrived in Gaza on Wednesday, to coordinate reconstruction efforts and meet with prominent contractors and businesspeople. more

Israeli ministers inaugurate massive illegal settlement in East Jerusalem

More land grabbing and ethnic cleansing, Israeli style.
Israeli government Ministers have inaugurated a new Jewish-only settlement in East Jerusalem. A ceremony including Jerusalem mayor Mayor Nir Barkat and Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan officially opened the Ma'aleh Zeitim settlement, in East Jerusalem's Ras al-Amud neighbourhood...

...The settlement is funded by Jewish American millionaire Irwin Moskowitz. more

Three more European boats with passengers from five countries join Freedom Flotilla 2

London, UK – May 26, 2011 – Despite the Israeli government’s continuing use of violence to stop international support from reaching Gaza by sea, three more ships carrying passengers from France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Italy will join Freedom Flotilla 2 in late June. The European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza (ECESG), one of the flotilla's sponsors, said the ships will carry country-level legislators and members of the European Parliament among their passengers, which will number in the hundreds.

"I am sure the recent Israeli fire on the Malaysian ship, the Spirit of Rachel Corrie, was meant as warning for the flotilla, but we will not be deterred," said Anouar Gharbi, A member of the ECESG. "The ruling South African government also fought back against early attempts to end apartheid, but eventually it was forced to change by the power of the people. Veterans of that fight for human rights say that the Israeli apartheid in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is even worse, and it will take the same kind of international solidarity to bring it down."

The Spirit of Rachel Corrie, a Malaysian-owned ship sponsored by the Perdana Global Peace Foundation and carrying pipes to help repair the devastated sewage system in Gaza, was intercepted and attacked by the Israeli naval forces on May 16. Passengers included seven Malaysians, two Irishmen, two Indians and one Canadian.The ship was forced to anchor in Egyptian waters one and a half nautical miles from the Gazan shore. It remains there today. Nine flotillas have attempted sail to Gaza since August 2008 to break Israel's illegal stranglehold, three of which have been co-sponsored by the ECESG. Five of those flotillas were successful in entering Gaza; however, they were violently intercepted on the past four voyages -- including last years, which was organized by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition -- an international Coalition that brought all of the sponsors under one umbrella. On May 31, 2010, the Israeli military attacked the six-ship Freedom Flotilla, as it was called, killing nine of the passengers on the lead boat, the Mavi Marmara.

Gharbi noted that the Freedom Flotilla 2 -- using the slogan "Stay Human" in honor of Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian peace activist killed in Gaza earlier this year -- will include the largest number of ships yet (still being finalized, but more than 10), which this time will depart from ports throughout the Mediterranean. The three new ships just announced will leave from Marseille, France; Genoa, Italy; and a port yet to be named in Germany. Other European countries to be represented in the flotilla are Sweden, Belgium, Greece, Spain, the UK and Ireland. Elsewhere, ships are being sent by delegations from the United States, Canada, Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Israel has controlled the Palestinian people for 63 years, since more than 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes or fled out of fear following the creation of Israel in 1948. That control intensified in 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip. Although Israel withdrew its settlers from Gaza in 2005, it has continued to control the inhabitants’ lives; since 2007, it has prevented most human traffic in and out of the densely populated Strip, while restricting imports and banning virtually all exports. The impact: More than 75 percent of Palestinians in Gaza live under the poverty line.

“There is nothing in international law that supports Israel’s four-year-long blockade of Gaza, or its attacks on humanitarian shipments in international or Palestinian waters,” Gharbi said. “In fact, as stated by the normally neutral International Committee of the Red Cross, Israel’s collective punishment of the residents of Gaza is itself a clear violation of international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

For more details:

The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG)

E-mail: info@savegaza.eu
Tel.: 00 44 7728021097

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

UN demands Israel ceases eviction and displacement of Palestinians from their homes

UNITED NATIONS, May 25 (APP): The UN humanitarian chief has criticised Israel’s forceful displacement of Palestinians, emphasizing its adverse impact on Palestinian communities.

Speaking to reporters at UN Headquarters in New York after a four-day visit to the region, Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said Israel must suspend the forced eviction and displacement of civilians from their homes in the occupied Palestinian territory. more

Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell to join Freedom Flotilla 2 bid to break Gaza siege

STOCKHOLM — Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell will take part in the next international flotilla that will attempt to bring aid to Gaza at the end of June, organisers said Wednesday.

Mankell, the author of the popular Wallander series of detective novels, will be among a total of 20 Swedish participants in the "Freedom Flotilla 2," Ship to Gaza Sweden said in a statement.

"Interest in participating in the Freedom Flotilla has been enormous and we have been forced to turn down many people who wanted to show their solidarity with practical actions," the organisers said, providing the names of eight of the Swedes scheduled to take part. more

Egypt to permanently reopen Rafah crossing from this Saturday despite Israeli objections

Egypt will open its crossing with the Gaza Strip this weekend, Cairo's interim military government has announced.

The move will significantly ease a four-year blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory, but sets up a potential conflict with Israel.

Egypt's official Middle East News Agency (Mena) said the Rafah border crossing would be opened from Saturday daily between 9am and 9pm, except on Fridays and holidays.

This gives Gazans a way to freely enter and exit their territory for the first time since 2007, when the Islamist militant group Hamas seized control of the territory from its Palestinian rivals Fatah, and Israel and Egypt closed their crossings.

Israel's crossings are more significant, since these handle most non-smuggled cargo. A year ago Israel eased its restrictions on cargo entering Gaza, but it still severely limits entry and exit of Gazans through its northern crossing into Israel.

Mena said the decision to open the Rafah crossing was part of efforts "to end the status of the Palestinian division and achieve national reconciliation". more

Amnesty demands end to demolition of so-called 'unrecognised' villages by Israel

Amnesty International has called on Israel to cease the demolition of the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev desert in southern Israel.

International human rights organisation Amnesty International has called on people to take action to prevent the demolition of the village of al-Araqib to make way for planned forestry.

The village, the organisation claims, has been demolished by the Israeli state on over 20 occasions despite the 250 villagers effected having clear evidence of their legal ownership of the land from the Ottoman period. more

Video: stun grenades and 'demonstration of presence' by 'the most moral army in the world'

From Breaking the Silence

Above: a member of the artillery corps on the 'creative' ways in which the Israeli occupation force goes about what it calls 'a demonstration of presence' - in this description that involves randomly throwing stun grenades around Palestinian villages, although on this occasion it went wrong - which is nice.

Below: on the immorality of the 'most moral army in the world'.

Morals and war don't go together
testimony catalog number: 57738
rank: Lieutenant
unit: Education Corps
place: Gaza
period: 2003

As an education officer, you said you had to analyze and evaluate some value or educational content of the events. Who addressed you, if at all, about this? What were they looking for?

In general it was the commanders, I mean I worked mostly with them on this, all kinds of staff officers at the division HQ. In general we weren't that much. And my commander, the division education officer, would have to push all kinds of things to the staff officers.

Like what?

Like he would always want me and the two other officers in the brigades to take investigations from the war-room and operations and intelligence and analyze them on the moral-values level.

What sort of things did you see in those reports? You mean values or things that happened?

Yes, in that sense. Good question. I remember that in general I myself related to these things as if I didn't have the tools to determine what value was manifested in the fact that a soldier looted some Palestinian home.

Was that even an issue in investigations?

Usually we did these "value analyses". I mean, there wasn't some prescribed de-briefing on which we'd place some educational frame, some values, but rather these incidents that involved human dignity and such, we'd simply write it up ourselves, the whole thing. It also seemed pretty pretentious to me to scold them, tell them it was out of line. One of my assignments was to always issue various propaganda bulletins. I don't know, I felt like the propaganda minister of the Nazis or something. It was this really fascist stuff, I had to tell them what value they had violated in what they did, why this was important and why we should never this again. Practically speaking, who am I and do I think I am, I who have no idea of values, or of warfare, and what good would it do, anyway. I mean, they are obliged to do these things, and if something doesn't break inside you, like I said earlier, then you simply can't function. So you'll get discharged on psychological grounds, or you'll be a conscientious objector, or you'll shoot yourself in the head, or something will break and you'll turn into some, I don't know… Frankly, I'd sit there facing this "Spirit of the IDF" document and try to analyze the values and simply couldn't believe a word I read there and I couldn't care less because it seemed to me so totally unconnected, so detached, and not about what the hell we're doing in this place. If we're in this place then what is the point of talking values? Morals and war don't go together.

What did the system expect you to do?

It expected us to insert the most… to prepare these kits for commanders. So if a platoon commander briefs his soldiers or something, then at the end when he gets to the punch line, to what is to be done and conclusions, then he also talks about values and somehow passes the spirit of the IDF on to the soldiers, and so all the soldiers will fight according to a lovely ethical code all cool and printed out on a nice blue page.

And it didn't work because it's irrelevant, or because it simply wasn't handed on?

First of all, we didn't get that much cooperation, I think that *** used to tell me that in Hebron there was more cooperation, more preparing the staff and such. Also, there was something very, I mean company commanders would give lectures on battle heritage and try to motivate their soldiers and teach them values, which is what I think a commander is supposed to do.

When the brigade commander knows there's been a mission and soldiers have looted a lot, or when the battalion or division commanders know there was a mission and their soldiers trashed houses like crazy, what would the commanders do about it?

It really depends on the commander, personally. I happened to work under to different division commanders in my time. The first was very operational. He wasn't interested. He wouldn't let the education corps in anywhere. Very gung-ho, know-it-all type. The second was very accommodating, consulted a lot, especially with my commander, the division education officer, but I was always included. He talked about values and tried to introduce them himself as well. There were commanders who did it because they thought it was right and they really believed in things. And there were commanders who couldn't care less. I mean, a commander who comes back from such a mission and knows these things happen can stand and have a talk with his soldiers. He doesn't need me for that.

And they did?

Some did, others didn't. Those who didn't, even when I pushed them to do it, that didn't help. So to me, my job seemed a bit…

At the end of the day it depends on personality? There's no coping on the part of the system as a whole, it's left to the whims of each commander?

I don't know if they didn't have meetings, if a battalion commander didn't raise it with his brigade or division commander: listen, we have a problem here. I imagine that if this were a common phenomenon and the commander really cared, he would bring it up somewhere. To tell you that they really broke their heads over this while figuring out what kind of mission to carry out in Rafah – I don't know, really.

Netanyahu 'well on the way to becoming the Hosni Mubarak of the peace process'

From a Thomas Friedman op-ed in the New York Times
As for Bibi, his Tahrir lesson is obvious: Sir, you are well on your way to becoming the Hosni Mubarak of the peace process. The time to make big decisions in life is when you have all the leverage on your side. For 30 years, Mubarak had all the leverage on his side to gradually move Egypt toward democracy — and he never used it. Then, when Mubarak’s people rose up, he tried to do it all in six days. But it was too late. No one believed him. So his tenure ended in ruin.

Israel today still has enormous leverage. It is vastly superior militarily and economically to the Palestinians, and it has the U.S. on its side. If Netanyahu actually put a credible, specific two-state peace map on the table — not just the same old vague promises about “painful compromises” — he could get the Americans and Europeans to toss in anything Israel wanted, including the newest weapons, NATO membership, maybe even European Union membership. It could be a security windfall for Israel. Does Bibi have any surprise in him or do the Palestinians have him right: a big faker, hiding a nationalist-religious agenda under a cloak of security?

It may be that Israeli and Palestinian leaders are incapable of surprising anyone anymore, in which case the logic on the ground will prevail: Israel will gradually absorb the whole West Bank, so, together with Israel proper, a Jewish minority will be ruling over an Arab majority. Israel’s enemies will refer to it as “the Jewish apartheid state.” America, Israel’s only true friend, will find itself having to defend an Israel whose policies it does not believe in and whose leaders it does not respect — and the tensions between the U.S. and Israel displayed in Washington last week will seem quaint by comparison. more

'Spirit of Rachel Corrie' aid ship activists hailed as heroes by Malaysians and all humanitarians

From the International movement for a Just World
The International Movement for a Just World (JUST) is glad that The Spirit of Rachel Corrie has been allowed to dock at El Arish port in Egypt. It took the Egyptian authorities 8 days to make that decision. This is a matter of great regret.

The humanitarian aid that the Malaysian owned cargo ship has been carrying, namely, 7.5 kilometres of pipes that would help restore the devastated sewerage system in Palestinian Gaza, can now be delivered to Gaza by land. The repair and restoration of the sewerage system is essential for the rebuilding of Gaza’s infrastructure destroyed by Israel’s brutal assault upon the strip in December 2008 and January 2009. It is hoped that the Egyptian authorities will expedite the delivery of this aid to Gaza.

The peace activists on The Spirit of Rachel Corrie, a number of whom are Malaysians, had initially tried to break the Israeli siege of Gaza and deliver the aid material directly to the people of Gaza. It is significant that their ship, sponsored by Malaysia’s Perdana Global Peace Foundation(PGPF), managed to enter Palestinian waters but was forced to turn back after an Israeli navy patrol boat fired warning shots over its bow. It was then that the ship turned around and entered Egyptian waters.

By almost breaking the siege in spite of the aggressive stance of the Israeli navy, and by remaining steadfast in their mission in the face of the initially uncooperative attitude of the Egyptian authorities, the peace activists on The Spirit of Rachel Corrie have displayed tremendous courage, perseverance and determination.

JUST, all Malaysians, and indeed peace advocates everywhere salute them!

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar,
International Movement for a Just World (JUST).
May 24 2011.

Father of US citizen killed on Mavi Marmara launches freedom of information lawsuit

From the Center for Constitutional Rights
May 24, 20011, Washington, D.C. – The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) today launched a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking immediate release of documents that the United States government has refused to provide regarding its knowledge of and role in the deadly May 31, 2010 attack by Israeli commandos on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla. Among the nine civilians killed was 18-year-old U.S. citizen Furkan Doğan who was shot several times as he was filming the 4:00 a.m. raid, and then shot in the face at point blank range as he lay there wounded. Fifteen other U.S. citizens participated in the flotilla, including five who traveled on a U.S. registered boat; many were beaten and injured.

Professor Ahmet Doğan, father of Furkan, said “I have travelled twice to Washington, D.C. seeking answers and support in my efforts to achieve justice and accountability for my son’s killing. So far, my efforts have not been successful. I call upon the United States government to at least release information related to the flotilla attack and what it knows about my son’s death. Why isn’t the United States investigating the death of a U.S. citizen in this case?” more
CONTACT: press@ccrjustice.org

Hamas leaders in Gaza and Syria have their first public disagreement over way ahead

After the Hamas political bureau chief, Khaled Mashal, said that the movement would give Israel a chance to prove its seriousness in peace talks, Hamas political leader, Mahmoud Zahhar, denounced the statements of Mashal.

The recent statements are considered the first time that Hamas leaders express conflicting opinions.

Hamas’ political bureau in Damascus was fast in responding to the statements of Zahhar. Member of Hamas’ political bureau, Izzat Al Rishiq, said that the statements of Zahhar are wrong and do not represent the stances of Hamas movement, and are considered a violation to the organizational charts of the movement “as he should not be uttering statements that target the leader of the movement”. more