Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Only 150 allowed through Rafah crossing as Hamas blames Egypt for restrictions

GAZA — Days after Egypt, with great fanfare, opened its border permanently with Gaza, new restrictions have been imposed on Palestinians who want to cross, and the area’s Hamas rulers spoke on Wednesday with frustration and anger.

Only three buses, carrying a total of 150 passengers, entered the Egyptian hall at the Rafah crossing point on Wednesday, while five others remained stuck on the Palestinian side, Hamas officials said two hours before closing.

“Since Tuesday, we are witnessing complications that we cannot understand,” said Salama Baraka, director of the crossing, who blamed “the Egyptian side for the nearly paralyzed movement of travelers.”

Local reports said that Hamas was considering shutting the border in protest. more

Freedom for Palestine by One World - preorder single now, all profits to Palestine projects

Week of release 3 July 2011. Available to pre-order now.

Palestine is in crisis. Today Palestinians face daily human rights abuse and live in crushing poverty in refugee camps and under Israeli Occupation.

In response to this injustice, a group of international musicians are releasing the song Freedom for Palestine by OneWorld.


Maxi Jazz (Faithless), Dave Randall (Slovo/Faithless), LSK, the Durban Gospel Choir, members of the London Community Gospel Choir, Jamie Catto (1 Giant Leap) and musicians from around the world.

Supported by

War on Want, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, A Just Peace for Palestine, Friends of Al Aqsa, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions UK, Stop the War Coalition, Trust Greenbelt and the A.M.Qattan Foundation.

Proceeds from the single will go to UK Charity War on Want for projects in Palestine.

Settlers set fire to wheat fields of Madama village close to where they beat shepherd last week

From ISM
On Monday 30 May at 4pm, the villagers of Madama reported that a fire had been started by seven to eight settlers in one of the village’s wheat fields. The field was close to the place where less than a week ago, Hamad Jaber Qut – a 66 year old shepherd, was attacked by 15 settler youths with knives and sticks whilst tending his sheep and getting ready for prayer.

Mohammed, a resident of Madama, witnessed the arson attack which came at the hands of settlers who reside in the illegal settlement, Yizhar which is 1.5km away on top of one of the hills overlooking the Palestinian village. Mohammed saw them throw petrol and light the wheat. On seeing the smoke, the residents of Madama called the fire brigade to put the fire out, by which time the settlers had retreated back into the settlement. The fire was put out in due course.

When the ISM went to see where the attack had taken place, a jeep of Israeli soldiers could be seen watching the area. more

Clashes expected as 30,000 Israelis to make victory march through East Jerusalem on Wednesday

Haaretz - Israeli police stepped up patrols across Jerusalem on Wednesday to prevent possible clashes when Israelis march through the largely Palestinian East Jerusalem, to mark the anniversary of Israel's capture of the area in 1967.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says 3,000 officers, including border police and undercover units, are on patrol.

One of the biggest events of Jerusalem Day will be a march with flags and dancing staged by the religious Zionist community. About 30,000 Israelis are expected to take part in the march through the largely Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, past a contentious Jewish enclave there.

Sheikh Jarrah has been the scene of repeated clashes over the last two years due to Arab residents' opposition to Jews moving there. From there, the parade will proceed to the Old City and the Western Wall. more

95 per cent of Gaza drinking water is polluted with Israel continuing to cut off flow of ground water

GAZA, May 30, 2011 (WAFA) - A Gaza rights group said Monday in a fact sheet that quality of drinking water in the Gaza Strip is way below international standards.

Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights said that 95% of the drinking water is below World Health Organization (WHO) standards, stressing that the Israeli practices contributed to decreasing the availability of drinking water and increased level of contamination of Gaza underground water reserves.

The fact sheet focused on the Gaza Strip’s desalination stations, especially the quality of the produced water and monitoring policy.

It explained that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory in 1967 is the main reason for the water shortage and contamination.

It reported that the Israeli authorities dug more than 26 wells along the armistice demarcation line between Israel and Gaza in an attempt to prevent the flow of ground water. more

50 US Boat to Gaza passengers announced, unarmed and peaceful activists offer boat inspection

From US Boat to Gaza


On Anniversary of Mavi Marmara Killings, U.S. Boat to Gaza announces Passenger List

New York, NY-May 31, 2011. Organizers of the U.S. Boat to Gaza announced today that they expect some 50 people will be aboard The Audacity of Hope when it joins the second "freedom flotilla" in late June to break the siege of Gaza.

The announcement came on the year's anniversary of the 2010 Israeli attack on unarmed passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara, killing nine, including an 18-year old U.S. citizen of Turkish descent.

Leslie Cagan, coordinator of the U.S. Boat to Gaza, said, "We are sailing-despite threats by the Israeli armed forces to use attack dogs and snipers against us-and despite frantic diplomatic pressure by the Israeli government to prevent other countries from allowing the flotilla to sail." She commented that while Egypt has just opened the Rafah border to Gaza, the maritime blockade and the Israeli siege of Gaza still exist.

So far, 34 passengers and four crewmembers have confirmed that they will be sailing on The Audacity of Hope. They range in age from 22 to 87 years old and live in 14 states in every region of the U.S. All are committed to non-violence. Members of the press will also be on the boat.

Varied occupations are represented by the passengers, including retired film producer, construction worker, retired teacher and engineer, student, author, nurse, EMT, firefighter, activist, jazz musician, retired military personnel, professor social worker and lawyer. More than half the participants are women.

Passengers and crew will gather in Athens on June 21, 2011 in advance of the anticipated sailing date, which will depend on weather conditions and logistics.

The Audacity of Hope will carry as its cargo thousands of letters of friendship and solidarity with the people of Gaza from people throughout our country. Cagan said that inspections of the boat and its passengers prior to departure will prove the non-violent nature of the mission.

Richard Levy, attorney and passenger on The Audacity of Hope, explained that "Because Israel occupies Gaza, and accordingly has obligations under the Geneva Conventions, it cannot legally blockade Gaza." Therefore, he continued, "attempts by the Israeli government to prevent ships from going to Gaza are equally illegal."

A list of confirmed passengers and crew is attached. Short biographical statements from each of them can be found at


Nic Abramson - Woodstock, NY
Johnny Barber - Gallatin Gateway, MT
Medea Benjamin - Washington, DC
Greta Berlin - Los Angeles, CA
Hagit Borer - Los Angeles, CA
Regina Carey - San Rafael, CA
Gale Courey Toensing -Canaan, CT
Erin DeRamus - Portland, OR
Linda Durham - Sante Fe, NM
Debra Ellis - Santa Cruz, CA
Hedy Epstein - St. Louis, MO
Steve Fake - New Orleans, LA
Ridgely Fuller - Waltham, MA
Megan Horan - West Seattle, WA
Kathy Kelly - Chicago, IL
Kit Kittredge - Quilcene, WA
Libor Koznar - New Britain, CT
G. Kaleo Larson - Northern CA
Richard Levy - New York, NY
Richard Lopez - Tumwater, WA
Ken Mayers - Sante Fe, NM
Ray McGovern - Arlington, VA
Gail Miller - New York, NY
Robert Naiman - Urbana, IL
Henry Norr - Berkeley, CA
Ann Petter - New York, NY
Gabe Schivone- Tucson, AZ
Kathy Sheetz - Richmond, CA
Max Suchan - Chicago, IL
Brad Taylor - New York, NY
Len Tsou - New City, NY
Alice Walker - Northern CA
Paki Wieland - Northampton, MA
Ann Wright - Honolulu, HI


John Klusmire, captain
David Smith, engineer
Yonatan Shapira, mate
David Schermerhorn, mate




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UK's Cameron steps down as chair of Jewish National Fund in blow to Israel supporters

From Electronic Intifada
A spokesperson for David Cameron on Friday refused to comment on the rationale behind the British prime minister’s decision to step down from his position as honorary patron of the Jewish National Fund (JNF). The move comes as pressure on the JNF steps up in Britain, and is being hailed by activists as a big victory in the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign.

Campaigners with activist group Stop the JNF had written to Cameron earlier in May calling on him to cut his links with the JNF. Registered as a charity in the UK, the JNF is involved in development of illegal settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the destruction of Palestinian Bedouin villages in the Naqab (Negev) inside Israel and stands accused of institutionally racist practices and complicity in ethnic cleansing since 1948.

Cameron’s press office told The Electronic Intifada that the decision had been made after a review of all the charities Cameron supported: “This is not a particularly recent decision,” said a spokesperson on Friday. In a short statement Thursday, the prime minister’s office had said the JNF was one of a “number of charities” Cameron stood down from following the review which was undertaken “[f]ollowing the formation of the Coalition Government last year.”

The statement did not specify any reason for the move. When asked if it was related to the JNF’s involvement with Israeli settlements in the West Bank (which the British government, in line with international law, considers illegal) the spokesperson said they were “not going to get into any further details.” more

Tensions rise with Egypt over Rafah restrictions as thousands try to cross, 5,000 blacklisted

RAFAH (Ma’an) -- An escalated crisis between Egypt and the Hamas government of the Gaza Strip was dampened Tuesday night, as officials met over ways to handle the flood of Palestinians seeking to cross the Rafah border terminal.

Following the 28 May opening of the Gaza-Egypt border, for almost unfettered access to Palestinians except men between 18-40, floods of would-be travelers arrived prepared to cross, overwhelming the terminal.

On the first day of full operations, 530 Palestinians used the terminal crossing both ways, while the second day say 845 Palestinians pass through the terminal. On Monday, the third day of operations, 722 Palestinians entered or exited Gaza.

The slow process and long lines frustrated officials, while a list of more than 5,000 Palestinians blacklisted from using the terminal sparked anger from Hamas. more