Saturday, 11 June 2011

Video: Canadian activist Kevin Neish on why he's going back to Gaza with Freedom Flotilla 2

By Meribeth Burton

Victoria's Kevin Neish is going back to the Gaza Strip - participating in a humanitarian effort to bring medicine and school supplies to people in Palestine. There's been an Israeli land and sea blockade of the area occupied by Palestinians since 2007.

A similar flotilla of aid ended in bloodshed May 2010. Neish says 9 people were killed by Israeli commandoes and 50 more were injured in the attack in International waters. Neish was imprisoned for two days and still has nightmares about the early morning raid on the Turkish boat he was on. He made a promise to his Turkish friends that we would return to the Gaza to see the supplies through and to draw more attention to the blockade.

This year's flotilla is enjoying strength in the numbers. 1500 activists are expected to take part, including 40 Canadians. Of the 10 to 15 vessels in the flotilla - one is Canadian. The flotilla is planning to leave Turkey around June 24th and dock in an undisclosed port. Neish hopes to be back in Victoria in early July but knows he faces violence and possibly death in his passionate efforts to draw attention to the plight of Palestinians.

Former Israeli diplomats say there's 'no point in struggling against recognition'

Amid Jerusalem's efforts to block international recognition of a Palestinian state in September, former senior Israeli diplomats warned Saturday that Israel's current strategy might cause more harm than expected.

In a conversation with Ynet, Prof. Ruby Seibel, the former legal adviser to the Foreign Ministry and an international law expert said, "We must say 'yes' to a Palestinian state, but set the conditions.

"I think the approach of the government is a mistake," Prof. Siebel explained, "There is no point in struggling against recognition. There is almost an international consensus in support of the establishment of a Palestinian state. more

67 children displaced in May as a result of Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes

(pic: Maan images)

The United Nations Agency for Palestine Refugees, UNRWA, has released its latest monthly figures relating to the Israeli practice of demolitions and forced evictions in the West Bank, which show a record number of children displaced. “Demolitions saw 67 children displaced in May, the highest monthly figure so far this year,” said UNRWA spokesman, Chris Gunness, “64 in Area C and 3 in East Jerusalem.”

Under the Israeli zoning policy in the occupied Palestinian territory, Palestinians are allowed to build in just 13 per cent of occupied East Jerusalem and 1 per cent of Area C in the West Bank, which are already heavily built up. “Palestinians are refused permits and are forced to build illegally. They then suffer the humiliation either of having the Israeli authorities destroy their homes, or are forced to destroy their homes themselves and foot the bill,” said Gunness. “Children often watch with their parents as their homes are demolished. A house is a place of safety and comfort for most children around the world. A home demolished is a future destroyed.”

UNRWA figures show that 304 adults and children were displaced or affected by demolitions in the West Bank. “The figure for displaced and affected includes people who were not necessarily displaced by demolitions, but who were affected because some vital facility, like a water system, was destroyed,” explained Gunness. “Under international law, Israel must ensure that persons under its jurisdiction enjoy the fulfilment of their human rights, including the right to housing, health, education, and water. UNRWA calls on Israel to respect its legal obligations.”

At the same time, UNRWA has announced a new web initiative to monitor demolitions. Read full details of demolitions with all the latest figures.

For more information please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0267

Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0724

24 former European minsters call for support for unity deal and 'to bring Hamas on board'

(pic: Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri)

Twenty four former European premiers and foreign ministers have called on the US and EU foreign policy chief Katherine Ashton to support the Palestinian unity deal and change foreign policy in the Mideast.

The letter signed by the officials says that ”a lasting peace with Israel is only possible if Hamas is on board”.

Among the undersigners are four EU prime ministers, 11 former EU foreign ministers, and former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami. more

European activists gather to build campaign against Israeli fresh produce exporter Agrexco

From the International Solidarity movement:

This past weekend in the Montpellier, France, over 100 activists from 9 countries gathered for the first ever European Forum Against Agrexco. Delegates from Italy, UK, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Palestine joined the French organizers for two full days of workshops aimed at strengthening the boycott campaign against the Israeli agricultural export giant.

Agrexco is Israel’s largest fresh produce exporter and European markets account for the vast majority of their sales under the brand Carmel. The Israeli government’s 50% stake in the company as well as their marketing of 60-70% of the fruit and vegetables grown in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank have made Agrexco a prime strategic target for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. more

Medical operations cancelled in Gaza due to severe shortage of drugs and supplies

The PA has been refusing to transfer drugs into Gaza claiming a lack of funds.
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Doctors in Gaza have been forced to cancel surgeries due to critical shortages of medicine and supplies, a health ministry official said Friday.

Ministry undersecretary Hasen Khalef said eye surgeries, and operations on blood vessels and nerves were among those canceled due to the lack of medication.

Gaza Health Minister Bassem Naem said prescheduled surgeries -- including children's operations, cardiac catheterization, laparoscopic surgery and bone and nerve operations -- would be stopped.

The ministry would reduce medical services including laboratory tests, Naem added. more

Alleged Israeli spy arrested in Gaza - linked to deaths of 16 fighters in unexplained explosions

There have been a number of deaths of resistance fighters as a result of unexplained explosions. This arrest is thought to be linked to these events, where weapons have been booby trapped to explode during training. From Iran's Press TV
Palestinian resistance group Islamic Jihad says it has arrested a Palestinian man suspected of spying for Israel in the south of the Gaza Strip.

The spy, who is linked to the murder of at least 16 Palestinian resistance forces by Israeli troops inside Gaza, was finally arrested on Friday after months of investigation and surveillance, Xinhua reported the Islamic Jihad saying in a statement.

Hours later, the man was handed over to the democratically elected government of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. more

Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the OPT (02– 08 June 2011)

From the Palestinian Center for Human Rights

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

· A Palestinian civilian was wounded in the Gaza Strip

· A Palestinian child was wounded in an attack launched jointly by IOF and Israeli settlers.

· IOF used force to disperse peaceful demonstrations commemorating the Palestinian Naksa.[1]

- Twenty six demonstrators, including 11 children and a woman, were wounded near Qalandya checkpoint, north of Jerusalem.

· IOF continued to use force against peaceful protests in the West Bank.

- Two Palestinians, including a journalist, were wounded.

· IOF conducted 38 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank.

- IOF arrested 14 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children.

- The arrested Palestinians include two PLC members.

· IOF continued settlement activities and Israeli settlers continued their attacks in the West Bank.

- Israeli settlers set fire to wheat farms in Qalqilya.

- Israeli settlers damaged 20 grape trees and set fire to a wheat farm in Beit Ummar village, north of Hebron.

· Israel has continued to impose a total siege on the Gaza Strip and tightened the siege on the West Bank.

- IOF held a PCHR fieldworker for several hours in the north of Hebron.

- IOF held a PCHR fieldworker at a military checkpoint in the north of the West Bank and questioned him about PCHR’s annual report.


Audio: Israel's campaign of violence against Palestinian children

The Palestine Review: Audio Presentations, found at, provides MP3 audio presentations and MP3 lectures on Palestine.

Israeli navy opens up with machine gun on fishermen, forcing them back to shore

RAFAH, (PIC) Israeli occupation naval boats opened fire on Thursday evening at Palestinian fishing boats off the southern Gaza Strip Rafah coast.

Palestinian naval police in the Gaza Strip said that the Israeli boats opened machinegun fire at the fishing boats forcing the Palestinian fishermen to flee to the shores, no casualties among the fishermen were reported.

Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip face daily harassment from the Israeli occupation navy which does not allow them to go beyond 3 miles off the coast of Gaza and harasses them even within this Zone, often firing at or ramming their boats and sometimes arresting them. more

Israeli troops invade Al Aqsa mosque after prayers firing tear gas but forced out by worshippers

Settlers invaded the mosque grounds on Thursday. This Friday it was the army's turn, firing tear gas canisters and stun grenades.
The Al Aqsa Foundation for Wadf and Heritage stated Friday that Israeli soldiers broke into the yards of the Al Aqsa Mosque, in occupied East Jerusalem, attacked dozens of worshipers and fired gas bombs at them.

The attack took place directly after the worshipers conducted Friday prayers at the mosque. The residents clashed with the invading troops forcing them out of the mosques' yard, local sources reported.

Later in the day, the army and undercover forces, based at a military post installed at a local Islamic school, invaded the yards of the mosque again, tried to surround it, but the residents clashed with them and refused to back down, an issue that forced the soldiers to ask the local guards of the mosque to intervene to enable them to leave the area through the Moghrabi Gate (Bab Al Magharba), Al Silsila Gate (Gate of the Chain). more