Monday, 23 May 2011

Malaysian aid ship back in Egyptian waters, may have permission to dock at El Arish tomorrow (24 May)

UPDATE, Monday 23 May, at 13.30pm EDT, 20.30pm local time

The Spirit of Rachel Corrie is back in Egyptian territorial waters. The crew and passengers are safe. The Malaysian Embassy in Cairo has advised that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has granted permission to the ship to berth in the port of Al Arish tomorrow May 24th and unload its cargo.

This decision by Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Al Arabi, which remains to be confirmed, is of fundamental importance.

Mr. Al Arabi had indicated almost month ago his resolve to open the border at Rafah and end the Gaza blockade. more

Demonstrators turn out in force to protest Zionist lobby group AIPAC's convention

Social justice activists protesting AIPAC rallied around the Convention Center and carried out a flash mob at DC Union Station (video above) to show Obama that many American residents support Palestinian rights. Watch video of Sundays demonstrations or read about the events here.

Thanks to codepink4peace

See report below from the International Middle East Media Center
The protests included a mock checkpoint and Wall set up at the entrance to the AIPAC conference, to emphasize the imprisonment and humiliation of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers in Palestine; a singing and dancing 'flash mob' to raise awareness of AIPAC's influence in Washington DC, and a 'die in' staged by progressive Rabbis and other members of the Jewish community to oppose Israeli killings of Palestinian civilians.

One protester was arrested as the presidential motorcade entered the Convention Center. Brian Van Slyke, a 23 year old student from Chicago, was detained after unintentionally entering the street as the motorcade passed. Witnesses claim he was roughed up by police officers during the arrest.

At least a dozen protesters with the MoveOver AIPAC conference and protests, funneled into the street after Van Slyke’s arrest, effectively closing down the intersection while performing a “die-in” covered in bloody cloths.

Activists from the group US Boat to Gaza also entered the street with a 'boat float' with dozens of people, singing and chanting. This group will travel by boat to Gaza in June, along with a flotilla of boats from around the world bringing humanitarian aid to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. A similar flotilla last May was attacked by Israeli forces in international waters, killing nine humanitarian aid workers and sparking international outrage. more

Islamic Jihad claims Israel is planting booby traps weapons in Sinai for smuggling into Gaza

From Ahramonline
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement accused Israel of smuggling booby-trapped weapons into Gaza in order to damage the capacity of the resistance.

Abu Ahmad, spokesperson for the group’s armed wing, the al-Quds Brigades, said that Israeli intelligence is selling the rigged weapons in Sinai so that arms dealers there will smuggle them into the Gaza Strip.

Islamic Jihad’s website Palestine Today reported Abu Ahmad’s statements that Israeli intelligence is rigging these weapons to explode when used by Palestinian resistance fighters, whether in testing or use against Israeli targets. more

Malaysian aid ship develops engine trouble now stuck 6 nautical miles from coast

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AFP) - A Malaysian aid ship attempting to land in Gaza after being warned off by Israeli naval forces last week has been forced to abort its mission after engine trouble, activists said.

Matthias Chang, who is heading the mission for the Perdana Global Peace Foundation, told AFP on Monday that the MV Finch was now stuck six nautical miles from Egypt's Al-Arish port.

"At about 5:30pm local time, our vessel developed engine trouble and we lost our steering capability, so we had to stop our attempt to reach Gaza by sea," he said more

Israeli occupation forces detain 70-year-old woman, been holding her son for 18 years

(pic: Yousef's son, Saleh Al-Arouri, has been detained in Israeli prisons for over 18 years)

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces detained a 70-year-old woman from her home near Ramallah overnight Sunday, a detainees' center reported.

Soldiers detained Hajjeh Aicha Yousef after searching her home, the center said.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said soldiers detained a Palestinian near Ramallah overnight but she could not identify the detainee. Soldiers detained nine "wanted" Palestinians across the West Bank overnight Sunday, the military said.

Yousef's son, Saleh Al-Arouri, has been detained in Israeli prisons for over 18 years. more

BREAKING NEWS - Malaysian aid ship forced to lift anchor, sailing towards Gaza to break siege

UPDATE Monday 23 May At 8.33am EDT (14.33pm local time)

The Spirit of Rachel Corrie lifted anchor and started sailing towards Gaza.

UPDATE: 9:53pm EDT, Egypt time 3:53pm

"The Egyptian Navy is forcing us out of their territorial waters and has asked us to go to international waters. One Egyptian patrol boat is coming very fast from behind with a gun pointing at us." Everyone is calm and steady. We are okay."

From our latest communication with the ship, it appears that the Egyptian Navy is collaborating with the Israelis with a view to endangering the security of the ship.

We call upon human rights organizations, Palestinian solidarity organizations Worldwide to take an active position regarding the Spirit of Rachel Corrie.


Support the Spirit of Rachel Corrie's resolve to break the blockade. What happens in the next few hours will be decisive. Egypt is complicit in supporting the blockade.

The objective is to break the Egypt-Israel agreement and open up the border crossing by land and by sea between Egypt and Gaza.

The Spirit of Rachel Corrie Mission will inevitably have a direct bearing on future humanitarian endeavors including the Freedom Flotilla which is scheduled to sail to Gaza in June.

by Michel Chossudovsky and Julie Lévesque more

More than half of young dependent on foreign aid as Red Cross blames Israel's siege

Mathilde De Riedmatten, Deputy Head of the The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said on Monday that she was concerned about the living conditions in Gaza, stressing that more than half of the population under 18 is dependent on foreign aid.

"The ICRC is concerned about the fact that the 1.5 million people in the Strip are unable to live a normal and dignified life," De Reidman said, in an interview published by the organization.

"Health-care facilities are suffering from the restrictions imposed by Israel on the transfer of medical equipment, building materials and many basic items needed for maintenance," she said, adding that the city's infrastructure, including water, sanitation and buildings are in desperate need of repair. more

Norwegian Nakba protest sees 'wall' erected to highlight ongoing Palestinian oppression

(Sunneva Elvarsdottir and Runar Nygård at their checkpoint in the wall. Photo: Andrea Hegdahl Tiltnes)

Tromsø is formally twinned with Gaza. Thanks to iGaza user Floyd Rudmin for sending in this story from the Arctic Circle! Tromsø University is also home to Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert who has done so much to expose the horrors inflicted by Israel's testing of its new tungsten munitions (DIME bombs) in Gaza. See story from the town's pro-Palestine youth group below. "Riv Muren" means "Tear down the Wall":
- Freedom of movement is an important part of human rights, and no one has the right to close within a nation such as Israel does to Palestinians. They do it anyway, "said political leader of the Palestine Committee's youth Tromso (PUT), Torkel Fjørtoft Nohr (18).

Saturday action, he and the rest of PUT on Main Street in Tromsø in connection with that it is 62 years since Israel was created.

Mur on Main Street
The young people built a wall across Main Street. They had to have an opening on both sides so that people could walk around, but they urged people to try to pass the checkpoint in the middle of the wall.

- By creating a wall, we want to visualize, giving people an impression of how the Palestinians have it every day. Several stops when we have a wall than if we just hand out flyers, "said the head of the PUT, Åsa Wilhelmsen Otterli (18).

Every day Palestinians pass checkpoints to get past the wall to get to work or other things. At the checkpoint on Main Street were young people on each side. People who would try to pass was subjected to a hard question round, before they may got let through. [Google translation] more

Children launch paper planes to commemorate anniversary of attack on Mavi Marmara

From the Middle East Monitor (MEMO)
Palestinian children have launched paper aeroplanes into the skies above Gaza's small port to commemorate the first anniversary of the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla on 31st May last year...

...The children held Palestinian and Turkish flags in a symbolic gesture to the countries taking part in the flotilla and carried banners with the photographs and names of the men who were killed in the massacre. more

Palestinian worker dies in tunnel collapse and another is seriously injured

Gaza Strip, (Pal Telegraph)- A Palestinian worker was killed and another injured Monday morning due to a tunnel collapse under the borders between Gaza and Egypt. more

Palestinians in Moscow for talks while parties prepare for Gaza meeting to hammer out differences

(pic: Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov meeting Palestinians today)

Many Palestinian factions have been refusing to nominate representatives for the new government so there's a meeting tomorrow in Gaza City to try and sort out the disagreements.
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Factions in Gaza operating under the umbrella of the Palestine Liberation Organization will meet in Gaza City on Tuesday to discuss ways to ensure the participation of all parties in the reconciliation agreement signed three weeks earlier in Cairo.

Member of the politburo of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine Salih Nasser said the meeting will be held at the office of the Arab Liberation Front. more
Meanwhile a meeting is taking place in Moscow today at which the Russian intends to cement their backing for the reconciliation agreement. In comments made to the media there it appears the various Palestinian parties are nearing agreement on the differences but no further information was offered:
The Palestinian delegation in Moscow includes Fatah member Azzam al-Ahmed, Mussa Abu Marzuk of Hamas, and Maher al-Taher of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, one of the negotiators said.

Bassam Salhi, leader of the Palestinian People's Party, said the factions had held talks among themselves over the weekend about the formation of a unity government, without giving further details. more

Human Rights Watch calls for UN investigation into Israel's Nakba Day killings

From Human Rights Watch
(Jerusalem) - Israel should conduct prompt, thorough, and independent criminal investigations into the killings of protesters by military forces on May 15, 2011, Human Rights Watch said today. Fourteen people were killed during demonstrations in southern Lebanon, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank during the annual Palestinian commemoration of "Nakba Day." A fifteenth protester died of his wounds on May 16.

For Palestinians, the "Nakba" ("catastrophe" in Arabic) refers to the destruction of Palestinian villages and expulsion of their residents that accompanied Israel's declaration of independence.

"In a too-familiar pattern, Israeli troops responded to stone-throwing youths with live bullets, with predictably deadly consequences," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The evidence shows a disturbing disregard for protesters' lives."

Because Israeli investigations into alleged serious wrongdoing by its armed forces have a poor record for accountability, the United Nations should monitor any Israeli investigations into the 15 deaths to determine whether they comply with international standards, Human Rights Watch said.

Israeli forces killed 10 people demonstrating at the Lebanese-Israeli border near the Lebanese town of Maroun al-Rass, according to the Lebanese army and Lebanese press outlets that printed the names of those killed. Israeli soldiers killed another four when protesters crossed from Syria into the village of Majd al-Chams in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, according to state-controlled Syrian media. Scores more were injured, according to these same sources and witnesses who spoke to Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch could not independently confirm the overall number of casualties but spoke to witnesses who saw Israeli fire kill three protesters at the border fence in Lebanon and two protesters in the Golan Heights. Witnesses also reported to Human Rights Watch that live fire from Israeli military watchtowers along Gaza's northern perimeter wounded numerous protesters inside Gaza, and that Israeli forces seriously injured a Gazan photojournalist covering the protest. more

Eight Palestinian political parties refuse to nominate candidates for government of technocrats

GAZA CITY: Eight Palestinian political factions affiliated with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) will not nominate candidates for the government of technocrats proposed in the unity deal that was reached early this month in Cairo...

...The factions said in a joint statement that they support the efforts toward unity but hope the deal will also take their views into consideration.

The signatories the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Palestinian Democratic Union, the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, Palestinian Liberation Front, the Arab Liberation Front and the Palestinian Arab Front. more