Saturday, 28 May 2011

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

(Iraq Burin, pic:ISM)

From the International Solidarity Movement

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

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

Updated on May 28, 2011 ISM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out the UNOCHA database here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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