Sunday, 31 July 2011

Miles of Smiles 4 aid convoy arrives at Egypt's Cairo airport for transfer to Arish and then Gaza


A Gaza-bound aid convoy arrived in the Egyptian city of Arish, North Sinai on Sunday.

North Sinai Governorate official, Gaber al-Araby, who also heads the Egyptian Red Crescent in the governorate, said preparations are underway to allow the convoy, called "Miles of Smiles 4", to transfer its cargo to the strip.

He told reporters that the convoy had arrived at Cairo International Airport before moving to Arish by land.

The convoy includes 35 activists from Spain, the UK and Bahrain, carrying nearly three tons of medicines and other relief supplies.

More

Farmer shot in Beit Lahiya northern Gaza while working in field


Gaza Strip, (Pal Telegraph)-A  twenty year-old Palestinian farmer was shot Saturday  by Israeli gunfire in the north of Beit Lahya town, northern Gaza Strip.

Adham Abu Silmiya, medical emergency spokesman, said that Israeli forces stationed along the northern borders of Gaza Strip opened fire at Palestinian farmers who were working in their fields, leaving one injured.

The man was evacuated immediately to Kamal Udwan hospital to receive medication due to a bullet hit his head, he added. 

Israeli forces on Gaza borders continue to target Palestinian farmers, hindering them access to their lands, creating tension among civilians, and inflicting damage to Palestinian properties.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Family from al-Wallaja village cut off by separation barrier so Israel to build them a tunnel


From Al Jazeera

A separation barrier being built by Israel in the West Bank, the occupied Palestinian territory, will further isolate the village of al-Wallaja from the outside world, Palestinians say.

The Hajajleh family, whose backyard is already bound by an electronic fence, is among those who will be cut off from relatives in al-Wallaja.

So Israel is building him an $800,000 personal tunnel as the family's only connection to the village.

Palestinians say the move is not out of goodwill - but is part of a grander government plan to squeeze them out of another huge area of the West Bank.

Jad Isaac, a researcher, says al-Wallaja is standing in the way of Israel's long-term plan to complete a ring of Jewish settlements that would surround the neighbouring city of Bethlehem.

The tunnels would eventually become the village's only means of access to the outside world, he says.

Tom Ackerman reports from the West Bank.

Masked settlers attack Palestinian shepherds and internationals using stones and iron bars


Three settlers from the illegal West Bank settlement of Havat Maon harassed three Palestinian shepherds and attacked two internationals observers near Mesheha hill. The masked settlers threw stones at the internationals as well as hitting one of them with an iron bar on the head.

The Palestinian shepherds were tending to their flocks when the settlers came to harass them and attack the internationals at 9:15AM Wednesday July 27, 2011.

The shepherds left the area before being attacked by the settlers but the Internationals were attacked.

One of the internationals was a member of the Christian Peacemaker Team. The settler ruined this international’s camera. After being attacked by the settler, the international was sent to the hospital to receive eight stitches.

The four unidentified settlers chased both of the internationals back to At-Tuwani.

The international organizations, Operation Dove and the Christian Peacemaker Team, have maintained a presence at At-Tawani and the south Hebron hills since 2004.

Operation Dove and the Christian Peacemakers team has captured six occasions where settlers from Havot Maon have attacked Palestinian’s or internationals by Mesheha hill since June 22, 2011, according to Maan News Agency.

All settlements and outposts in the West Bank are illegal under Israeli and international law. more

Protests as Israel continues policy of detaining Palestinian MPs with arrest of Abu Tous


GAZA, (PIC)-- First deputy speaker of the Palestinian legislative council (PLC) Dr. Ahmed Bahar has condemned the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) for abducting the council member Khaled Abu Tous.

He affirmed in a press release on Saturday that the policy of kidnapping Palestinian lawmakers had completely failed in absenting them from the political arena and social work in the West Bank.

Bahar said that the detention of Abu Tous reflected the state of confusion prevailing among Israeli decision-makers and their wish to spread tension in the Palestinian arena.

The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) failed in curbing the growing role of those MPs in the West Bank despite the plots against them, the deputy speaker said.

Bahar questioned the role of international organizations and human rights groups vis-à-vis such practices, which they condemn in various other world areas but remain dead silent when it comes to Israeli practices.

He urged all parliamentary blocs in the PLC to stand united in face of the Israeli practices, which, he said, would foil the IOA schemes. more

Occupation force move to shutdown West Bank anti-wall protests - 15 injured at Qalqiliya


RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Friday fired tear gas and sound grenades to shut down weekly anti-wall protests in villages across the West Bank.

Activists said three women were injured and three foreign nationals were detained in Nabi Saleh. A journalist for Al-Hayat Al-Jadida was attacked and briefly detained at the protest.

Meanwhile hundreds of Palestinians, Israelis and international activists played a football match during an anti-wall demonstration in Al-Masara near Bethlehem.

Activists said soldiers attacked popular committee spokesman Muhammad Ahmad Burjieh, 33. He was taken to hospital in Beit Jala with fractured ribs. more

15 injured at Qalqiliya
Fifteen Palestinian protesters were injured on Friday when Israeli forces dispersed a peaceful protest in the village of Kafr Qaddum, east of Qalqiliya.

The protesters were demanding that Israeli forces open the village's main entrance, which has been closed for nearly nine years.

Murad Shteiwi, spokesman for the weekly rally, told Ma'an that Israeli soldiers surprised the protesters when they started fired "tear gas canisters" in all directions.

They had been watching a Dutch musical group visiting the village in an act of solidarity, playing Palestinian music to the crowds.

Hundreds of local and foreign nationals started a rally after Friday prayers.

Iskandar Eisthon, 68, Zaki Nayif, 6, Alaa Muath, 7, Muhammad Dawood, 11, Jaafar Bassam, 15, Ibrahim Asaad, 50, Rani Ali, 28 and several others choked on the tear gas. more

Friday, 29 July 2011

Gaza's hospitals in grip of severe fuel shotages as operations cancelled


Serious fuel shortages in Gaza are about to lead to a “humanitarian catastrophe” according to the director of public medical supplies. Already major hospitals have begun shutting down operating rooms as a result of the shortages according to Ma’an News Agency.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza claims that it has only received one quarter to one third of the fuel it requires for 2011. The fuel is critical for providing electricity through generators.

Operating rooms in Gaza City’s Ash-Shifa and the European Khan Younis hospitals have already been closed because of power shortages. It is feared that there will be further closures in these and other hospitals.

Further hospital closures will exacerbate the current humanitiarian crisis of the 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza.

Earlier this year, the hospitals also faced critical shortages of medical supplies.

Israel currently maintains a maritime blockade of Gaza and only keeps open one border crossing. Gaza also has a border crossing with Egypt. more

PFLP claims responsibility for sniper attack on Israeli soldiers near Gaza City


GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- The armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, have claimed responsibility for firing at Israeli soldiers on Thursday in the Ash Shujaiyeh neighborhood near Gaza City.

The group targeted an engineering unit of Israeli soldiers with sniper fire.

A statement by the group said they would "continue with resistance and respond to the Israeli [occupation] crimes." more

Gaza's children retake world kite-flying record despite attack on summer camp


UN News Centre

28 July 2011 – Defying intimidation, children in Gaza stood their ground to wrestle the world record for kite flying back from China, hours after their United Nations-run summer camp facility was attacked by unknown assailants.
According to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), 10 men attacked and vandalized the facility in north-west Gaza early today. The attackers damaged a large billboard, burned a UN flag and torched part of the stage.

In the kite-flying event, the official tally of children flying flags was more than 13,000. The verified figure will be released tomorrow. But the result beats the previous record of 10,465, which had been claimed in April by the Kite Association of Weifang Binhai Economic Technological Development Area in Weifang City, Shandong Province, China.

“Taking on the might of China is a daunting feat for the children of Gaza,” said UNRWA acting director in Gaza, Christer Nordahl. “But they have risen brilliantly to the challenge as they have done three times already this year.”

The new kite-flying feat by the Gaza youngsters follows their breaking of three world records in the past several weeks – the highest number flying parachutes from the ground, the largest number of people dribbling footballs and creating the largest ever hand painting.

“We brought happiness to our country by breaking the world record,” said 13-year-old Nadia el-Haddad. “Today because we broke the world record I feel like I have rights and that I’m like everyone else in the world.”

Eleven-year-old Abdullah Musleh said: “I’m happy when I’m flying the kites. We are the best!” Rawia Abd el-Dain, also aged 11, added: “I made my kite the Palestinian flag and when I fly it I feel like I’m raising my country and my flag up, up in the sky.”

This is the fifth year that UNRWA has organized the Summer Games – which include sports, arts and other activities – to provide a recreational outlet for an estimated 250,000 children in Gaza. This year’s Games coincide with the fifth year of the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Meanwhile, none of the UN security personnel at the summer camp was hurt during the raid.

“We condemn this attack, which is an attack on the children of Gaza as much as on the United Nations,” UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness said in a statement.

“We call on the authorities in Gaza to investigate and bring those responsible to account. We will repair and rebuild the damaged infrastructure and go ahead with the event as planned today.” more

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Israeli airstrike destroyed decades-old agricultural water well in Gaza says Oxfam


GAZA, July 28, 2011, (WAFA)- A decades-old agricultural water well was destroyed in an Israeli military airstrike,  which also injured seven people, including four children, this week in Beit Hanoun, a town north of the Gaza Strip, said an Oxfam weekly report between July 17 and 23.

The airstrike happened on July 17 at around 3:00 am, and also damaged water tanks serving up to 60 people in the neighborhood.

The Emergency Water Sanitation and Hygiene group (EWASH), a coalition of 30 humanitarian organizations in the occupied Palestinian territory including Oxfam, has documented the destruction caused by the Israeli airstrike.

“This is not the first time this year that Israeli airstrikes hit water and sanitation infrastructure,” said Ghada Snunu, EWASH’s advocacy task force officer in Gaza. “Last March, the Khuza’a municipality warehouse was hit by an airstrike destroying a large quantity of essential water and sanitation materials and spare parts to the value of over US$60,000. In April, the Al-Mintar water reservoir in Al-Quba area of Gaza City was also hit in an airstrike, leaving 30,000 people in eastern Gaza city with no water for three days.”

“Israel as the occupying power has to ensure that the Palestinians have access to essential services as required by international law. What we keep witnessing is the opposite – civilian infrastructure, particular water-related facilities, are often hit during Israeli airstrikes depriving people of indispensable services,” Snunu added. more

10-truck African aid convoy to Gaza reaches Sudan for transfer by ship to Suez


Port Sudan, Sudan (CNN) -- A humanitarian land convoy heading to Gaza from South Africa reached Port Sudan, Sudan on the Red Sea Wednesday and is destined to become the first relief mission to Gaza from Africa.

"I was inspired last year by the convoys that went to Gaza from Europe, so we asked ourselves; why not from Africa?" said Sheikh Walid al-Saadi of the South African Relief Agency (SARA).

After eight months of preparation, the land convoy which consists of ten trucks, explained al-Saadi, departed Durban, South Africa on June 26 and has passed through seven countries thus far including Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan.

It is to unload its shipment of humanitarian aid in Port Sudan on ships that will head to Suez, Egypt where members of the convoy will receive their trucks after flying to Egypt from Sudan.

The convoy has received the support of several South African leaders including Bishop Desmond Tutu who said in a YouTube video message: "I want to congratulate SARA and wish them well. You are helping to do God's work; God bless you." more

Urgent Action Alert for Scottish Aid to Gaza Convoy stuck at Rafah - email Egypt's prime minister


(pic: a previous Scottish aid convoy to Gaza)

Urgent Alert for Scottish Aid to Gaza Convoy stuck @ Rafah

Military leaders in Cairo are obstructing entrance into Gaza at the Raffah crossing for three trucks carrying medical supplies along with two ambulances. Please show solidarity with the Gazan people by voicing your protest as soon as possible!

send your email to:

Dr. Essam Sharaf, Prime Minister, The Arab Republic of Egypt
pm@cabinet.gov.eg

cc:
Embassy, The Arab Republic of Egypt
Embassy@egyptembassy.net

European parliamentarians tour Gaza and meet with health minster

(pic: UK parliamentarian Tony Lloyd of the Labour Party is leading the delegation)

GAZA, (PIC)-- A high-profile delegation of parliamentarians from various European countries has met with Gaza Health Minister Bassem Na'im on a tour of the Gaza Strip.

Minister Na'im briefed the delegation headed by British Labor party chairman Tony Lloyd on the effects the Israeli political and economic blockade has had on the Strip's health sector.

According to the figures he presented, 163 essential medicines and 149 medical consumables have run out in the besieged enclave.

Na'im also brought up the ill effects the eight hour a day power outages have had on the hospitals' medical equipment, also blaming the Israeli siege over the situation.

During the meeting, British MP Tony Lloyd said he was shocked at what he saw and promised to deliver a message he received from a young Thalassemia patient to be dealt with on the international forums. The letter addressed the boy's suffering caused by the lack of treatment. more

Overnight attack vandalises UNRWA summer camp for children in Gaza


GAZA CITY - Ten men attacked and vandalised overnight a United Nations facility being used to stage summer camps for children in the Gaza Strip, a UN spokesman said on Thursday.

Chris Gunness, spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which supports Palestinian refugees, said the facility in northwest Gaza was attacked around midnight on Wednesday.

"The attackers damaged a large billboard, burnt a UN flag and torched part of the stage. None of the UN security personnel at the venue were harmed," Gunness said.

The attack came the day before children attending UNRWA summer camps will attempt to set a world record for the largest number of children flying kites at the site.

Gunness said the record attempt would go ahead despite the attack, and called on local authorities to investigate the vandalism.

"We condemn this attack, which is an attack on the children of Gaza as much as on the United Nations," he said.

"We call on the authorities in Gaza to investigate and bring those responsible to account. We will repair and rebuild the damaged infrastructure and go ahead with the event as planned today." more

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Man dies after being refused permission by Israel to leave Gaza for medical treatment

Al Qassam website- Besiged Gaza- Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported that a 33-year-old patient died on Sunday in the Gaza Strip after the Israeli Authorities denied him permit to be moved into the West Bank for urgent medical treatment.

The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights reported that Raed Azzam Al Moghari, from Al Boreij refugee camp in central Gaza, had a chronic heart disease and required urgent treatment out of the Gaza Strip as the Israeli siege left hospitals in Gaza out of basic supplies.

The Palestinian District Coordination Office had repeatedly contacted its Israeli counterpart, and informed the Israeli side that the case of Al Moghari is urgent, and that he needed immediate medical attention, but the request was denied.

The patient’s health condition had severely deteriorated on Sunday, and he was moved to the operations room, but he died under surgery.

The Al Mezan Center stated that two patients died in the Gaza Strip since the
beginning of this year after being denied medical treatment elsewhere. more

Unknown assailants attack Gaza seaside resort after appeals for police guard ignored


(pic: A view of damage after unknown assailants set fire to a water resort in Gaza City - MaanImages)

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Assailants burned a Gaza resort at dawn Wednesday, the manager said.

Imad Al-Wazeer told Ma'an a group of 30 armed and masked men arrived at the Rais resort in Gaza and threatened employees.

The resort was damaged in Israel's Operation Cast Lead but Al-Wazeer says he reopened the facility in order to show Israel that the people of Gaza would live their lives in spite of the attack.

"This time, unfortunately, my resort was damaged by Palestinian hands," he said.

The resort cost some $120,000 to establish and has swimming pools, restaurants and other facilities. After the attack, however, 13 employees have lost their jobs, Al-Wazeer says.

He held the police in Gaza responsible for the attack, saying they should provide security.

"I asked the police several times to provide protection and security but no one paid any attention," he said.

Maan

Palestinian Center for Human Rights condemns use of death sentence against collaborators


The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the implementation of death sentences against two Palestinians this morning. These death sentences were implemented without the ratification of the Palestinian President. PCHR reiterates that the ratification of death sentences is an exclusive power of the President of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) under the Code of Criminal Procedures (3) of 2001; the implementation of any death sentences without the President's ratification constitutes a violation of the law and constitution. PCHR stresses that the ratification of such sentences is necessary especially following signing the Palestinian reconciliation agreement in May 2011.

According to information available to PCHR, on Tuesday morning, 26 July 2011, the Ministry of Interior in Gaza executed by hanging (M.A.Q), 60, and (R.A.Q), 29, who were sentenced to death by a civilian court on 29 November 2004 after they had been convicted of collaboration with foreign security bodies and murder. The Interior Ministry issued a press release this morning and explained that: "The death sentences were implemented after exhausting all available means of challenge. They have had the res judicata effect and have become final and enforceable after the sentenced were given all of their rights." The Ministry of Interior added: "These death sentences have been implemented after the Palestinian government’s approval of a decision to implement death penalty…. On 29 November 2011, Gaza Court of First Instance sentenced the defendants to death by hanging. On 14 July 2011, the Court of Cassation rejected an appeal against the death sentence and endorsed the sentence of the Court of First Instance."

Since 2006, the government in Gaza has implemented 8 death sentences including 5 sentences for collaboration with foreign bodies and 3 sentences for murders. Since the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), 21 death sentences have been implemented. more

Election committee says Hamas obstructing local election preparation efforts in Gaza


RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories — Palestinian local elections in October will only be held in the West Bank as Hamas is hampering preparations in Gaza, a senior electoral official said on Wednesday.

Speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, the official said the government had informed the Central Elections Commission (CEC) of a decision taken earlier on Wednesday.

"The elections committee was informed today by the government that it had decided to hold municipal elections only in the West Bank on October 22," he said.

An official government statement was expected during the evening.

The issue was the subject of a special cabinet session earlier on Wednesday after the CEC sent a letter to say it was proving impossible to prepare for elections in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, the official said.

"We sent a letter to the government to say we cannot work in Gaza to prepare for the elections.

"Until now, Hamas has prevented the elections committee from doing its work in Gaza. Our staff cannot work because our offices are closed and they have confiscated our cars," he said.

There was no immediate reaction from Hamas. more

Tanks and bulldozers enter Gaza destroying farmland east of Khan Younis


KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces (IOF) in army tanks and bulldozers advanced into southern Gaza Strip areas to the east of Khan Younis on Tuesday, eyewitnesses said.

They said that six bulldozers and three tanks advanced east of Qarara amidst random firing and bulldozed cultivated fields.

Other units advanced into Farahin area and leveled cultivated land lots, sources said, adding that the IOF soldiers routinely raid those areas. PIC

Miles of Smiles 4 aid convoy focused on alleviating suffering of youngsters, arrives in Gaza Wednesday



Gaza,(Alresalah.ps)--Ali Alnazli , the spokesman for the Popular Committee to lift the siege on Gaza, said that fifty solidarity activist from Britain will arrive in Gaza Wednesday via Rafah Crossing.

The activists will come in the convoy of '' Miles of Smiles 4" to show support and solidarity with the Palestinian people under the Israeli suffocating siege continuing for more than five years.

In an executive interview to Alresalah net , Alnazli pointed out that the British delegation has come to the besieged enclave to shed light on the suffering that the Palestinian people, particularly Palestinian youths, face under the Israeli siege.

He revealed to Alresalah net that the fifth convoy of ''miles of smiles'' will get to the besieged Gaza strip late in Ramadan supported by British institutions supportive of the Palestinian cause and seeking to break the siege. more

Video: BDS strategy roundtable with poet Remi Kanazi, professor Sunaina Maira, and Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah


At the most recent Al-Awda conference in Garden Grove, California, poet Remi Kanazi, professor Sunaina Maira (UC Davis), and The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah laid out the current strategies of the current global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement led by Palestinian civil society, and analyzed the movement’s gains as well as the mounting backlash against BDS actions and activists.

The video, produced by Alternate Focus and Al-Awda: The Palestinian Right to Return Coalition, is 29 minutes long and is both a fantastic primer for Palestine solidarity activists wanting to learn more about what BDS is and how it works, as well as a riveting discussion for seasoned BDS activists seeking to expand the movement.

BDS Movement

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Egypt allows aid into Gaza but still refusing to allow vehicles of Scottish medical convoy to enter


EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities allowed 30 tons of medical aid into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing, Egyptian Red Crescent director Jaber Al-Arabi said.

The aid was donated by the Egyptian doctors' syndicate.

Al-Arabi told Ma'an that 60 tons of meat donated by New Zealand's Islamic Relief Committee arrived in El-Arish on Tuesday and would be transported to Gaza on Wednesday.

He added that five tons of baby formula and food supplements for pregnant women would be transferred to the coastal enclave through the Rafah crossing on Thursday.

Meanwhile, four tons of British medical aid remains stuck at the crossing for the fourth day. Al-Arabi said Egyptian officials had authorized the delivery of the aid, but not the four vehicles transporting the goods. Maan

Settlers attack three Palestinian women as they drive to their home in Beit Rima


RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Armed Israeli settlers attacked three Palestinian women driving near Ramallah on Monday evening, the Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa reported Tuesday.

The women were driving to their home in Beit Rima, south of Ramallah, when residents of the illegal Hallamish settlement attacked the vehicle, eyewitness Awad Mashal told Wafa.

The settlers smashed a window of the car and aimed a gun at the women, the witness said.

Renad Mashal, 19, has been unable to speak since the incident and two other passengers, aged 22 and 24, were injured by broken glass, the report said. Maan

Press TV News: activists onboard US aid boat Audacity of Hope return from Gaza


Months of preparation, weeks in limbo and as charged as ever, the passengers of the US boat to Gaza have returned from the flotilla in high spirits.

Passengers aboard the Audacity of Hope, a name shared with President Barack Obama's memoir, recounted their experience aboard the ship as they were held in Greek ports for days on end without the support of the U.S. embassy.

The U.S. boat carried prominent figures like author and poet Alice Walker, peace activist Kathy Kelly and 86-year-old holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein.

The Audacity of Hope did not carry any humanitarian aid or basic necessities which the United States government could have considered material aid to terrorism, and possibly jailed the passengers for delivering them. Rather, they had letters of hope and solidarity to share with the people of Gaza.

Retired CIA officer and boat passenger Ray McGovern discussed information he received from a White House source regarding the U.S. government's stance on its citizens participating in the flotilla.

McGovern also emphasized U.S. monetary pressure on Greece to prohibit the flotilla from leaving Greek waters.

Yet passengers state they will continue to organize flotillas and bring international attention to the siege of Gaza.

Press TV

Seventh settler tunnel discovered in Jerusalem - leads to southern wall of al-Aqsa mosque


OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Palestinian committee for the defense of Silwan revealed a new tunnel, the seventh of its kind in the area, extending from Ein Silwan compound to the southern wall of the Aqsa Mosque.

The committee noted that some Jewish sources declared they found a golden bell in the area which underlines the Israeli occupation's attempts to forge the history of the Arab holy city of Jerusalem through burying some antiquities underground and then alleging they made a historical biblical discovery.

It also pointed out that extremist Jewish settlers started recently to bury their dead inside and around Silwan neighborhood.

The Jewish settlers divide Silwan into two parts, the city of the living to the west of Al-Bustan neighborhood and the city of the dead to its east, which made the Palestinian natives besieged by settlement outposts and Talmudic gardens on one side and the graves of Jews on the other side, the committee stated. PIC

Report on killing of Turkish flotilla activists delayed again by UN - no reason given



(Reuters) - The United Nations on Monday confirmed that the release of a U.N. report on a deadly Israeli raid that killed nine Turks aboard a pro-Palestinian activist ship last year would be postponed until late August.

U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky gave no specific date for the much-delayed report, which Israeli officials said on Sunday was now expected on August 20, a Saturday.

U.N. officials had originally suggested the report by a four-man inquiry panel could be finalized in February, then April and most recently, in late July.

Asked about the latest statements by Israeli officials, Nesirky told reporters: "The members of the flotilla panel agreed to delay finalizing the report until later in the month of August." He gave no reason for the delay.

The U.N. report on the May 2010 Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara as it tried to breach the blockade on the Gaza Strip at the head of an aid flotilla has become a headache for Israel, which has been resisting Turkish demands for an apology. more

European boycott activists set to deliver coup de grace to Israel's Agrexco as it faces bankruptcy


From Mondoweiss

The BDS movement in Europe appears to be going for a knockout. A coalition of 23 organizations from across Europe issued a "Political declaration after the Forum against Agrexco" outlining their campaign against the Israeli agricultural giant which is half owned by the Israeli Government and responsible for 60-70% of the agricultural produce grown in Israel’s illegal settlements. Here is a press release:

Facing a bankruptcy hearing in a Tel Aviv court Tuesday, Israeli export company Agrexco has been beset by bad headlines in recent months. Now its problems look set to worsen, after Palestinian solidarity groups from across Europe joined forces to escalate a boycott campaign.

A new coalition on Thursday promised to “put an end to Agrexco’s presence in Europe”. Twenty-three groups signed a declaration saying they had established a mechanism to coordinate boycott campaigns and court actions against the exporter.

“We are putting potential buyers on notice: any company investing in Agrexco will be targeted by boycotts all over Europe,” said Saqer Nazzal who represents the Palestinian Union of Professional Associations on the secretariat of the Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC).

The alliance of European groups such as the French Coalition contre Agrexco have set Saturday 26 November as a pan-European day of action against the company. more

Monday, 25 July 2011

Scottish aid convoy with equipment for mobile hospital prevented from entering Gaza at Rafah


In an interview with Press TV, Dr. Hasan Nowarah, a peace activist for Justice for Palestine, and a member of the Scottish aid convoy stuck at the Rafah crossing, gives a detailed account of his travel to the Rafah border, and subsequent rejection to enter Gaza.

Press TV: We'd like you to tell us more about your situation. Why have you been denied entry through Rafah?

Nowarah: We have [received] no excuse or any information for them denying our entry to Rafah.

Before our departure, in the United Kingdom and Scotland we have [prepared] for one year, solid.

While we have been waiting for the convoy, we have been in full contact with the Egyptian embassy in London. And we obtained all the necessary information and visas for our vehicles, for our aid convoys, for our cars - everything to enter into Gaza.

They gave us the green light to travel. They told us your destination has to be Alexandria or al-Arish port, and you're not allowed to travel by land but you must travel with your aid convoy by ship. Fair enough.

We came to Italy. We started in Italy for nearly two weeks waiting for a shipping company in Alexandria who gave us some difficulties trying to book another shipment or another boat.

When we arrived in Alexandria, after five days sailing, they stranded us for nearly another week. Because of their delay, they granted us permission to travel by land to come to Rafah.

Prior to our departure on the port of Alexandria, customs unloaded all our aid: they took it off box by box, palette by palette, every medical instrument, every medical tool has been examined by customs. We spent the time under the sun and everything.

After that, they gave us the green light through customs from Alexandria to Rafah.

Prior to that, in the process of the customs exercise, we were interviewed by the intelligence of Egypt in Alexandria and even the ordinary police. They took our IDs, they took our vehicles, and they took all our documentation and welcomed us to Egypt and said we can go after a week being stranded in Alexandria.

The convoy joined us and we travelled from Alexandria to Rafah border, and we arrived last Thursday evening. We arrived there nearly 11 o'clock at night, and we knew immediately that Friday would be a holiday because it's the weekend for the Egyptians where they do not work.

To our surprise it turned out that Saturday was also a holiday because of the revolutions, they called it the “national day holiday”.

So we waited until Sunday. When Sunday came about, we handed them our documentation, we handed over all our details and they accepted it. It was fantastic. We had no problem. We left immediately.

But, to our surprise, the intelligence in Rafah border said they were not aware of us coming to the border at all, nobody has informed us, nobody has told us, nobody knew of our existence at our door. I said how is that? Before we travelled from Scotland and the United Kingdom, we had a green light from the Foreign Ministry in Cairo through the Egyptian embassy in London. We had the green light to enter, and that's how we came here.

Even at Alexandria's port, the port police investigated and they told us they contacted Cairo and were aware of us coming here. And now they're telling me in the Rafah border that they're not aware of us coming, of our existence, that there was a convoy coming.

He said no sir, that he was surprised to see us there. And I am surprised he didn't have the details.

While he was interviewing me, to my surprise, he opened his folders and I saw with my own eyes, and with Mr. Sharif who was dealing with us at the time, all our details were there. The vehicle registration number, the aid convoy numbers, and the nine people who were supposed to accompany the aid convoy - their names are there. The items in each box, the full details were with them. They were aware of us coming there.

I don't know why he said he didn't know anything about it. It's his excuse. We have two 18 ton trucks and two other vehicles to be used by doctors and nurses between hospitals, and big trucks to be used by mobile hospitals. We have the equipment to refit a mobile hospital.

These trucks can be used as mobile hospitals to treat people who have been under smoke or serious injuries so that by the time they reach a hospital these trucks could save them. If we have a mobile hospital, these people can be treated then and there. That's how we do our project, and we explained this to the authorities.

Despite me seeing the papers, the official said that he was sorry and that he takes his orders from Cairo, not from us.

So, now we have contacted via email the London agency.

Press TV

European parliamentarians visit Gaza to see effects of blockade and raise awareness


A high-ranking delegation of parliamentarians from Europe has arrived in the Gaza Strip for a short visit. The aim is to assess the effects of the blockade imposed by Israel on the people of Gaza for five years.

The Council for European-Palestinian Relations (CEPR), which organised the solidarity visit, said that the delegation of seventeen people entered Gaza through the Egypt-Gaza Rafah border crossing. The delegation includes members of different political factions, including liberals, socialists and Green Party MPs, and is headed by Britain's Labour Party Chairman, Tony Lloyd MP.

According to the CEPR, the purpose of the visit is to raise awareness in Europe of the humanitarian crisis that Gaza's people are enduring as a result of the continued Israeli siege, the 2008/9 Israeli war against Palestinians in Gaza; and the restrictions imposed by Israel on Gaza's fishermen. The delegation members also hoped to see at first-hand Egypt's role at the Rafah border; Rafah is Gaza's only land outlet which does not depend on going through Israel.

On arrival in Gaza, Tony Lloyd said: "There is a future for the people of Gaza, a chance to offer long term hope, but we've got to let the Palestinians get their ordinary life restarted." Former Member of the Scottish Parliament Pauline McNeill said that she believes that "public opinion is on the side of justice and the Palestinians, and it is time for the legitimate state of Palestine to be recognised fully."

The Director of the CEPR, Dr. Arafat Shoukri, claimed that the visit is an excellent opportunity for European officials to assess the situation on the ground and to build closer ties with Palestinians. "We are thrilled at the prospects of this trip being a success for Europeans and Palestinians alike," he said. more

Turkey to further downgrade relations with Israel if demands not met on flotilla massacre


From Hurriyet

The Turkish government has for the first time voiced the existence of its “Plan B” against Israel if no apology comes before a July 27 deadline, a plan that will include measures to further freeze relations.

The statement comes amid an ongoing debate in the Israeli Cabinet over whether or not to formally apologize to Turkey over last year’s Mavi Marmara incident.

“We are going to wait for their [Israel’s] decision for a period of time. Then [if no apology comes], we will surely implement our Plan B,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters Saturday at a joint press conference with Jordanian Prime Minister Maroof al-Bakhit.

Erdoğan’s statement came just a day before the Israeli Cabinet was to hold a key meeting on the matter. Relations have been strained between Turkey and Israel since Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish people May 31, 2010, aboard a vessel carrying humanitarian goods to Gaza.

Ankara has demanded that Israel issue a formal apology, pay compensation to the families of the victims and lift its sea blockade on Gaza if it wants to mend ties with Turkey. A U.N. panel is set to announce its report on the May 31 incident on July 27, barring last-minute delays.

According to information obtained by the Hürriyet Daily News, the “Plan B” mentioned by Erdoğan will have a strong impact on further degrading relations between the two countries. One of the most important moves would be further reducing Turkey’s level of diplomatic representation in Tel Aviv. After the Mavi Marmara incident, Turkey canceled the appointment of Kerim Uras as ambassador to Tel Aviv in a show of reaction. If Israel refuses to apologize, the current level of diplomatic representation, charge d’affairs, would be reduced to the level of second secretary. more

Israel considering dumping Oslo accords in response to Palestinian statehood bid at UN


A team headed by National Security Adviser Ya'akov Amidror is looking into calling off the Oslo Accords in response to the Palestinian Authority's unilateral plan to gain United Nations recognition for an independent state.

The Prime Minister's Bureau confirmed yesterday only that the NSC was discussing many alternatives ahead of September, and would be presenting them to the political echelon for a decision when it was done.

Israeli officials did confirm that recent discussions held by Amidror had mentioned the option of voiding the Oslo Accords. However, this is not considered a leading alternative, they said.

"It is one of the options that will be presented to the political echelon," a source said. more

Rafah crossing reopens after two-day closure by Egypt


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Rafah border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip will reopen Sunday after a two-day closure, crossings director Ayyoub Abu Shaar said.

Abu Shaar told Ma'an that patients and people who reside in Egypt would be given priority to leave the Gaza Strip and those who had been listed to depart on July 19 would be allowed to travel Sunday.

The terminal is closed every Friday. It was also closed Saturday because of a public holiday marking the 59th anniversary of the July 23 revolution of 1952. more

Prisoner Ahmed Nabahan Saqr's detention extended for ninth time with no charge or trial


NABLUS, (PIC)-- The Israeli Ofer military tribunal has extended the period of administrative detention of one of the longest held Palestinian administrative detainees in Israeli prisons, the International Tadamun (Solidarity) Foundation for Human Rights has reported.

Tadamun researcher and legal expert Ahmed Tubasi said that an additional three months in administrative detention has been pinned on prisoner Ahmed Nabahan Saqr, from the Askar refugee camp near Nablus.

Saqr was first arrested on 28 November 2008 after a night raid on his home. He was then immediately transferred to administrative detention, without charge or trial.

The instance was the ninth time his period of detention had been extended. PIC

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Israeli navy gunboat uses live ammunition against fishermen trying to get food for Ramadan


(video: 14 July attack by the Israeli navy)

By Alexandra Robinson from her Against Empire blog. Alexandra is an activist with the International Solidarity Movement

On Saturday [23 July] the ISM crew for CPS Gaza rode out on the trawler that rescued us during the second attack on the Oliva on Thursday, July 14th. As I mentioned before, the Oliva project is currently on an indefinite hiatus. Nils, Joe and I went to the port at 7:10 am and we rode out to sea around 7:30. There were 3 adult Palestinian men on the boat and two young boys.

Joe, Nils and I sat on the deck of the ship’s bow and the captain and other passengers stayed in the middle and back of the vessel. Around the 2 to 2.5 mile point we spotted the Israelis coming towards us from the north. When they were still about a mile’s distance from us I called them over the radio and said that we were “Unarmed international observers on board, 2 United States citizens and one Swedish citizen.” I repeated this a number of times but they continued to approach us at a high speed. Joe and I were on the bow of the boat when we noticed that the Israeli Navy was now about 100 meters from us and had fired 2 shots into the water.

We retreated to the center of the boat where the steering cabin is and I repeated again over the radio that we were “unarmed international observers.” This did nothing to sway their actions and they fired live rounds both in the water and directly at the boat for around 15 or 20 minutes. Joe returned to the front of the boat and tried speaking to them over the megaphone, repeating the fact that we were internationals and that the boat had no hostile or military intentions and the captain and his crew were just going to fish. By this point the trawler had reached the 3-mile limit. The captain desperately wanted to go further out to 4 or 5 miles because the 3-mile area is completely overfished and he said “it’s better to return home than to even bother fishing here.” While the shooting was still taking place, we decided to have Nils speak to them over the radio so they could hear someone with a Swedish accent.

We were holding out desperate hope that our status as internationals would save the boat and allow the men to fish. At one point the gunboat retreated slightly—only to double-back and continue harassing us. Nils repeatedly said over the radio, “Israel, why do you do this? We are peaceful people, we mean you no harm.” After at least 30 minutes of creating turbulence and shooting live rounds at us the boat retreated again, this time for good.

I jumped back on the radio and told them to “let us go, we are not hostile and the captain only wants to fish.” The Israelis responded and claimed that we were past 3 miles and were somewhere between 4 and 5 miles out to sea and insisted that I tell the captain to go back to the 3 mile mark. The captain said that we were basically 3 miles, then he corrected that we were 3 miles and about 700 meters. He asked me to tell them that he wouldn’t go past this point and only wanted one hour to fish here because there wouldn’t be any fish within the 3-mile limit. He said they need to fish for food for Ramadan and there would be no food if we were to move further in to shore.

I said this to them in English several times awaiting a response since it had only been a few minutes since they had communicated with us directly. After this the captain and his friend took the radio and begged them in a broken mixture of Arabic and Hebrew to let the boat stay where it was for one hour—just to fish—just to get food for Ramadan. It was heartbreaking to watch. It’s perverse that the Palestinians should have to beg for this right from an illegitimate occupying force. more

Israel's war against the Gaza fishermen is illegal collective punishment - Guardian reports

The mainstream western press is starting to report on the dirty little war that Israel has been waging against the Gaza fishing community.
Why does the western media not report these human rights violations until international activists get involved?

From the Guardian

Hani al-Asi, a fisherman since the age of 11 and a father with 12 mouths to feed, had just begun throwing his lines into the Mediterranean when an Israeli gunboat sped towards his traditional hasaka.

With a machine gun mounted at the rear and half a dozen armed soldiers on the bridge, the navy vessel repeatedly circled the small fishing boat. The rolling waves caused by the backwash threatened to swamp it.

Asi had stopped his boat over an artificial reef created by dumped cars to attract the dwindling fish population. He was just beyond the limit of three nautical miles from the Gaza shoreline set by the Israeli military for Palestinian fishermen, beyond which they are forbidden to fish for "security reasons".

"We see them every day," he said, shrugging at the gunboat's presence. "I got used to this. Every day they are around us - shooting, damaging the boat, sometimes people are injured. If we were scared, we wouldn't fish. But we have nothing else to do."

With the boat rocking forcefully, the gunboat's crew addressed Asi in Arabic through its loudspeaker. "You are in a forbidden area. Go back." Asi pulled in the lines and headed back to port.

"The best place to fish is more than 10 miles out," he said. "But every time we exceed three miles, they shoot at us, use the water [cannon], take the nets. Even today when foreigners are with us, they were trying to tip the boat over."

Under the 1993 Oslo accords, Palestinian fishermen were permitted to fish up to 20 nautical miles off the coast of Gaza. Over the past 18 years, the fishing area has been successively eroded, most recently in 2007 when Israel imposed a limit of three nautical miles as part of its land and sea blockade of Gaza after Hamas took control of the territory.

But fishermen and human rights groups say that, since the war in Gaza in 2008-09, the Israeli military regularly enforces a limit even closer to the shore.

The restriction has devastated Gaza's fishing industry. "It is a catastrophic situation," said Khalil Shaheen of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. "Sixty thousand people are dependent on [the fishing industry], and 85% of daily income has been lost."

Fishermen on both sides of the three-mile limit, he said, were subjected to harassment, live fire, confiscation of boats and nets, and water cannon, sometimes impregnated with foul-smelling chemicals.

Since early June, a coalition of Palestinian and international organisations under the umbrella of Civil Peace Service Gaza has been monitoring encounters between fishermen and the Israeli military from its own boat, the Oliva.

But in the past fortnight, the Oliva itself has become a target for the Israeli navy, with repeated assaults on it by military vessels. Last Wednesday, the Guardian hired a boat to accompany the monitors plus a handful of hasakas out to sea.

At around the three-mile limit, the small flotilla was approached and repeatedly circled by two Israeli gunboats. The engines of the hasakas were cut as the waves caused by the gunboats' backwash rose and fell. After about 20 minutes, the gunboats withdrew as a third military vessel, deploying water cannon, arrived.

A powerful jet of water was targeted at the Oliva, causing the boat to rock dangerously and drenching those aboard. After repeated dousings, the Oliva's captain ordered the four passengers to clamber on to an adjacent hasaka, fearing his boat was about to sink. As the Oliva's engine was hit by the military vessel, he too was forced to abandon ship.

From a distance it seemed impossible that the Oliva would not go under. But its captain and other fishermen managed to secure a rope to try to tow it back to port. The military boat followed the Oliva and the other boats at some speed, still firing its water cannon, for several minutes.

According to Salah Ammar, the Oliva's captain, the boats were within the three-mile limit. "We don't even reach two miles before they chase us with guns and water [cannon]," he said.

However, GPS co-ordinates taken by the Guardian during Wednesday's encounter showed the position of the boats to be outside the permitted zone.

In a statement, the Israeli Defence Force said: "The ongoing hostilities between Israel and Palestinian terror organisations create significant security risks along the coast of the Gaza Strip. Due to these risks, fishing along the coasts has been restricted to a distance of three nautical miles from shore. Fishermen in Gaza are aware of these restrictions as they have been notified of them on numerous occasions. The restrictions and their enforcement by the Israel navy are in complete accordance with international law."

The United Nations and human rights organisations say the fishing restriction is collective punishment in violation of international law.
More

Turkey's Hurriyet says UN report on Mavi Marmara attack will rule that IDF intended to kill


UN commission to publish findings on IDF raid on Turkish flotilla vessel, prompting Israel to debate whether to apologize to Turkey, newspaper says.

The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet said Sunday that the Palmer report on last year's Gaza-bound flotilla is expected to be released this week.
 
According to the newspaper, the UN-appointed panel to investigate the raid on the Mavi Marmara vessel has ruled that IDF soldiers boarded the ship with an intention to kill.
 
The Turkish daily claimed that this assertion is what prompted the debate within Israel's government on whether the Jewish State should issue an apology to Turkey. The Forum of Eight Ministers was expected to discuss the issue on Sunday.
 
According to the article, Israel is considering compensating the families of the nine people killed aboard the ship, and intends to issue a statement regretting the loss of life - regardless of Turkey's demand for an official apology. more

Israel still getting diplomatic heat over Mossad using fake passports of western countries


From MEMO

Media sources in Israel have claimed that "secret and sharp" diplomatic messages have been received by the government in Tel Aviv voicing protests about the Zionist state's use of fake passports for espionage purposes. According to Hebrew newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, such messages have been sent by several countries from Asia, Africa and Europe complaining about the use of their passports for "operational activities overseas" by Israel's secret intelligence agency, Mossad. Some of the countries, said the newspaper, are "friends of Israel"; none are the countries whose passports were abused during the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh in Dubai last year.

That Mossad operation sparked a diplomatic crisis between Israel and Britain, Australia and Ireland, but France and Germany merely asked the Israelis for "clarification". Yedioth Ahronoth said that Mossad's use of fake passports for espionage purposes "caused severe damage to the credibility of Israel". A foreign diplomat added, "Israel has a bad name when it comes to everything related to the passports of other countries." MEMO

Who's to blame? - UNRWA responds to Gaza protests over cut backs in aid to refugees


UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness responds to Gaza protests about cuts in assistance to refugees: (from Maan)

The protesters who closed down UNRWA’s Gaza office say they were doing this to fight for the rights of the refugees whose assistance is being slashed. What's your response to this?

Gunness: This protest action was entirely counter-productive. By keeping hundreds of UNRWA staff out of their offices, the organizers were harming the very refugees on whose behalf they claim to be protesting. The Gaza office is the "command and control" center from which we run our programs across the entire Gaza Strip.

We need access to our computers to service projects, to manage our education, health, relief and social service programs. It's where the personnel department is based for, for example, paying staff salaries, it's where our IT department is, it's where the radio room is for security and without these things our full programs become unsustainable very quickly.

The refugees and their representatives are naturally angry about the slashing of emergency services and have threatened further action. How worried is UNRWA about this?

Because of a $35 million shortfall in its emergency budget, UNRWA in Gaza has been forced to make drastic cuts to its emergency programs. The original emergency appeal of $300 million had already been scaled back to $150 million because of the inadequate donor response and even against this minimum spending requirement, we are $35 million short.

The core of the $300 million emergency appeal had been for food assistance to 600,000 people, jobs for 53,000 people, cash assistance for 300,000 abject poor (living on less than $1.6 per day) and basic assistance to public health infrastructure. Starting in the month of July, we have been forced to cut the jobs program from 10,000 contracts per month to 6,500 contracts and we have been forced to end our "back to school" cash assistance of 100 NIS [$29.44] for each of more than 200,000 children in UNRWA schools.

UNRWA is doing all it can to mobilize the support of donors. But we fear that if the current situation continues, further cuts to our emergency services in Gaza will be inevitable. Make no mistake, the lack of donor funds to UNRWA is now directly affecting the stability of the Middle East with anti-UN protests threatening to shut down UNRWA on the doorstep of Israel at a time of already heightened instability in the region.

You are passing the buck to your donors, but who ultimately is to blame; is it really UNRWA's donors?

The real problem is that we are asking our donors to fund emergency programs which aim to mitigate the effects of Israel’s illegal collective punishment of 1.5 million people. The International Committee of the Red Cross has called the blockade a "clear breach of international law" in the face of which there has to be transparency and accountability.

From UNRWA's point of view, it would be better for those states and organizations with the power to bring the necessary pressures to bear to end the collective punishment rather than pay UNRWA to deal with its disastrous impact. We would far rather be spending our time and our donors' money on human development, particularly in education, which does add to the stability of this region than on emergency operations which respond to an illegal and destabilizing collective punishment. Is it not better to end the root cause, which is the collective punishment?

There is also deep discontent about the removal of over 100,000 people from your food distribution lists. What is going on?

About 100,000 people have come off our food distribution lists because UNRWA is now using a more accurate poverty assessment system to determine eligibility for food assistance. This change in the eligibility system is meant to ensure that UNRWA can prioritize its resources on the poorest of the poor and avoid providing emergency poverty relief assistance to those who are not needy.

Many business people, wealthy merchants and property owners have come off the lists and interestingly very few people are complaining as the vast majority realize that the new system is much fairer. In this regard, the poverty survey represents a great improvement over the former system.

Thanks to the poverty survey UNRWA has been able to increase assistance to the abject poor (around 300,000 refugees) by doubling their rations.

Thousands of families who were poor and destitute but were excluded from UNRWA food assistance until now based on the previous income based system from the PA or UNRWA will be able to receive assistance. The food distributed to thousands of families who were not in need of assistance but received food until now can now be given to the poorest and most destitute refugees.

There are four categories of people who were eligible for food last round whose coupons have not been issued this food distribution round: 14,404 families who had not applied to the poverty survey by the middle of June despite each receiving a letter from UNRWA requesting them to apply over the last three months if they wished to continue being considered for food assistance; 9,251 families who applied to the poverty survey but were found to be non poor after the social worker visit; 1,388 families classified as abject or absolute poor by the poverty survey but failed to pick up their rations since the beginning of the year 2011, suggesting they may be out of Gaza; and 305 families who were found to be non poor after the second visit (complaint) and necessary verifications.

All families listed above with the exception of the 305 families in the last category can receive food this round upon applying for Poverty Survey, with their final poverty to be determined after reviewing their case through the poverty survey. If these families apply before the end of the month of July, UNRWA will ensure that they receive their food assistance during the month of Ramadan.

What about those families who were not eligible for food assistance under the old system?

They are welcome to apply to the poverty survey, and 10,439 such families have benefited until now. Their eligibility for food will be determined after their applications are processed and many will be able to receive food assistance in the future as a result.

Is it true that the poverty survey system can sometimes mistakenly classify a family in the wrong poverty category?

Yes, this may happen as a result of human error during the visit or data entry process. To remedy this, UNRWA has introduced a comprehensive complaints system to ensure that no beneficiary family in need is wrongfully taken off the food rolls. For many cases, this includes the review of the system's findings by a committee of three social workers who will have the last word on the family's poverty status.

If the family coupon was cut, where can the family find out in which category it belongs to and when it can receive food?

At the information desk of the distribution centre.

Maan

Israeli ministers meet to decide on whether to apologise to Turkey for flotilla killings


The forum of eight ministers will meet today in Jerusalem to decide whether to accept the draft of an agreement for ending the diplomatic crisis with Turkey. As part of the proposed deal, Israel will apologize for operational failures that led to the deaths of nine Turkish citizens during the stopping of a Gaza-bound flotilla in May 2010.

Ministers Avigdor Lieberman and Moshe Ya'alon are opposed to the apology, while their colleagues Ehud Barak and Dan Meridor support it. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will risk a coalition crisis with Yisrael Beiteinu if he favors the apology. more

Saturday, 23 July 2011

UN officials visit communities facing rising forced removals by Israeli occupiers

From the UN News Centre

Two senior United Nations officials today visited a Bedouin community in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) amid increasing home demolitions by the Israeli authorities, who have control over security, planning and zoning in the area.

Maxwell Gaylard, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for oPt and David Hutton, the acting Director of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), visited the village of Khan Al Ahmar where more homes have been razed this year than in the previous two years.

The village is situated just outside Jerusalem and between two Israeli settlements in the so-called Area C of the West Bank. Residents of Khan Al Ahmar village, most of them refugees, have lived in the area since 1948.

Last week, the village received four new “stop-building” orders and the community has not been able to obtain building permits due to restrictive and inadequate planning policies in Area C.

Under the planning and zoning regime applied by the Israeli authorities in Area C, Palestinian construction is effectively prohibited in some 70 per cent of the area, while in the remaining 30 per cent, a range of restrictions virtually eliminate the possibility of obtaining a building permit, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

There are demolition orders issued against another 250 structures in communities around Khan Al Ahmar, OCHA said in a press release. Some 20 Bedouin communities, with a combined population of 2,353, two-thirds of them youngsters under the age of 18, live in the area in the Jerusalem periphery.

More than 80 per cent of them are now at risk of being displaced due to the expansion of the Ma’ale Adumin Jewish settlement and the planned construction of the Barrier.

During the visit to Khan Al Ahmar, OCHA unveiled new research findings focusing on displacement of Palestinians in Area C.

The survey, which is based on field visits to 13 communities in Area C, found that in most of the communities, Palestinian families are being forced to leave due to restrictive policies and practices of the Israeli authorities, including movement and access restrictions, settlement activity, and restrictions on Palestinian construction.

The research also highlights how these policies are undermining traditional community livelihoods and placing thousands of people at risk of displacement.

For more details go to UN News Centre

How western media and 'experts' jumped to blame Muslims for Norway terror outrage


From The Electronic Intifada

Immediately after news of the bombing of government buildings in Norway’s capital Oslo, the Internet buzzed with speculation about who might have done it and why. Most speculation focused on so-called Islamist militancy and Muslims. The urge to speculate after grave events is understandable, but the focus of speculation, its amplification through social media, its legitimization in mainstream media, and the privilege granted to so-called experts is a common pattern.

The danger of such speculation is that it adds little knowledge but causes real harm by spreading fear and loathing of Muslims, immigrants and other vulnerable and routinely demonized populations, and whether intentional or not, assigns collective guilt to them.

“Experts” who supposedly study this topic — almost always white men and very often with military or government backgrounds — direct suspicion toward Muslims by pointing to claims of responsibility on “jihadi” web sites that only they have access to. Notorious attacks invariably inspire false claims of responsibility, or false reports of claims of responsibility, but this apparently doesn’t discourage the media and experts from giving them undue attention.

From the “experts” to The New York Times to the world…

The New York Times originally reported:
A terror group, Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, or the Helpers of the Global Jihad, issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, according to Will McCants, a terrorism analyst at C.N.A., a research institute that studies terrorism.

In later editions, the story was revised to read:
Initial reports focused on the possibility of Islamic militants, in particular Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, or Helpers of the Global Jihad, cited by some analysts as claiming responsibility for the attacks. American officials said the group was previously unknown and might not even exist.

The source is Will McCants, adjunct faculty at Johns Hopkins University. On his website he describes himself as formerly “Senior Adviser for Countering Violent Extremism at the U.S. Department of State, program manager of the Minerva Initiative at the Department of Defense, and fellow at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center.” This morning, he posted “Alleged Claim for Oslo Attacks” on his blog Jihadica:
This was posted by Abu Sulayman al-Nasir to the Arabic jihadi forum, Shmukh, around 10:30am EST (thread 118187). Shmukh is the main forum for Arabic-speaking jihadis who support al-Qaeda. Since the thread is now inaccessible (either locked or taken down), I am posting it here. I don’t have time at the moment to translate the whole thing but I translated the most important bits on twitter.

The Shmukh web site is not accessible to just anyone, so he is the primary source for this claim. McCants stated from the beginning that the claim had been removed or hidden, and on Twitter he even cast doubt on whether it was a claim of responsibility at all. more

Following Cairo meeting Egypt promises to ease restrictions at Rafah crossing within 'a few days'


CAIRO, (PIC)-- Secretary general of the popular resistance committees Zakaria Dughmush met in Cairo on Friday night with Egyptian intelligence officials for a discussion on easing traffic restrictions on the Rafah border crossing and inter-Palestinian reconciliation.

Dughmush affirmed that the Palestinian people were interested in having normal, brotherly relations with Egypt and were keen on Egypt’s security and stability.

He said that the Palestinian people were still hoping for more easing of restrictions on the Rafah border terminal between Egypt and the Gaza Strip especially for the sick people, students, and merchants.

Dughmush renewed call on the Egyptian leadership to exert its good offices with both Fatah and Hamas to push forward the reconciliation agreement.

He also urged PA chief and Fatah leader Mahmuod Abbas not to insist on Salam Fayyad as premier and allow the Palestinian factions to agree on another man.

The Egyptian intelligence officials promised that conditions at Rafah terminal would see more facilities in a few days.

They also underlined that Israel was the only party benefitting from the internal Palestinian division. PIC

Medical aid from UK, Egypt and New Zealand to arrive in Gaza soon to alleviate shortages


EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma'an) -- Four tons of medical equipment donated by a British charity arrived Thursday in Egypt's Alexandria port en route to the Gaza Strip, head of the Egyptian Red Crescent Jaber Al-Arabi said.

Al-Arabi said the UK-based Palestinian Center for Justice sent five truckloads of aid, including 35 hydraulic beds and electrocardiogram equipment, to be delivered by the Red Crescent via the Rafah crossing.

The shipment will arrive in Gaza on Saturday, he added.

Meanwhile the Islamic Relief Committee in New Zealand sent 100 tons of meat to Gaza and Egyptian companies sent four tons of aid for pregnant women and children, Al-Arabi said, adding that the goods would arrive Friday.

Al-Arabi said the union of Egyptian doctors also donated around 25 tons of medicine and medical equipment which would be delivered to the coastal enclave in the coming days. Maan

Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in Occupied Palestinian Territory (14– 20 July 2011)


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


· A Palestinian worker was killed when Israeli warplanes bombarded a tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip.

· 9 Palestinians, including 6 civilians, were wounded by IOF in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

· Israeli warplanes attacked a number of civilian facilities in the Gaza Strip.
- 3 training sites and a number of tunnels were destroyed.

· IOF continued to use force against peaceful protests in the West Bank.
- A Palestinian civilian was wounded.
- Dozens of demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation.

· Israeli gunboats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats in the Gaza Strip.

· IOF conducted 32 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and two limited ones into the Gaza Strip.
- IOF arrested 13 Palestinian civilians, including a child.
- Golden jewels were stolen from a house in Tallouza village near Nablus.

· Israel has continued to impose a total siege on the OPT and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.
- IOF arrested one Palestinian civilian at military checkpoints in the West Bank.

· IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.
- IOF confiscated more irrigation networks in al-Baq’a area near Hebron.
- 3,000 olive trees were burnt in Bourin village, south of Nablus.
- Israeli settlers attacked 3 Palestinian shepherds and injured two of them.

more

Support striking Palestinian quarry workers demanding their rights from Israeli employer


On 16 June, 35 Palestinian workers at Salit Quarries in Mishor Adumim (in area C, east of Jerusalem, in the Occupied West Bank) began a strike. The workers, organized with the independent union WAC-Ma'an, are demanding an end to exploitation and humiliation, and insist on signing a first collective agreement. Salit Quarries’ main customer is Readymix Industries (Israel).

The total reliance of Salit Quarry on Readymix as their biggest and by far the most important customer puts responsibility on Readymix to make sure that their clients abides by labour laws and safeguards elementary rights for the workers of Salit. We call upon Readymix to urge the Salit management to terminate this unnecessary strike by signing the collective agreement with the workers and WAC-Ma’an.

Click this protest link to send your message. The text of the message is as follows:
I write to you to express my grave concern about the failure of Salit management to sign a collective agreement with the workers of Salit Quarry and WAC Ma'an, the union that represents them. I have been informed that workers at Salit began organizing in 2007 due to intolerable working conditions. I understand that the company recognized WAC-Ma’an and began negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement and that on April 10, 2011 a tentative agreement was finally reached. However the management of Salit Quarry retreated and postponed the date which had been set for the signing several times, attempting to create divisions among the workers. Faced with no apparent alternative, the workers and the union announced a legal strike until the agreement was signed. We call upon you to make sure that the management of Salit takes a responsible position and signs the agreement so as to allow the workers to go back to work in a work place that respects their rights and health and safety in accordance to the commitment of Readymix Industries (Israel) to high standards of safety, social rights and fair treatment of its employees.
Click this protest link to send your message.