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

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

Gaza government says Netanyahu speech racist bullying in rejecting all Palestinian demands

In his rant to the US Congress Netanyahu rejected the return of refugees, demanded that occupied Jerusalem become the capital of Israel, that Israeli troops be allowed to stay on the West Bank and that any Palestinian state be demilitarised. In other words he has no intention of opening a 'peace process'.
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian government in Gaza said that the speech made by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Congress on Tuesday was a falsification of history and misleading to public opinion.

The government’s chief press officer, Hasan Abu Hashish, said that Netanyahu’s speech completely disregarded any Palestinian rights and challenged international law.

He added that the speech was full of incitement against Arab people and interference in the Palestinian internal affairs.

He also said that the speech was characterised by exhibitionism, haughtiness and bullying using US backing.

Abu Hashish further said that the government rejects racist speech and stressed that such stands will not stop our people from demanding freedom, dignity and salvation from the yoke of occupation.

The government finally said that the Palestinian practical response to the speech is to accurately implement the national reconciliation agreement and the adoption of a comprehensive strategy that protect Palestinian rights in the face of this vicious campaign to eliminate Palestinians from the political map.

Thanks to PIC

Izbat al-Tabib village threatened with demolition of 80 per cent of homes

In addition to demolition, in the meantime the Israeli occupation forces have built a fence around the village.
One may not expect to see construction in a village where approximately 80 percent of the homes are currently pending demolition. But in Izbat al-Tabib, a small village less than ten kilometers away from the green line, Israel’s internationally-recognized armistice line with the occupied West Bank, and the wall-confined city of Qalqilya, that is just what one will find.

Despite a direct prohibition against any construction or development issued by the Israel Civil Administration, residents of Izbat al-Tabib have continued to build homes and develop much-needed infrastructure — including a school, park, water supply and independent electricity sources.

“This will help people to stay here and resist — if they have a kindergarten, they will resist in their lands,” said Bayoun Tabib, the mayor of the village. more