Monday, 13 June 2011

EU president visits Gaza to tour UNRWA projects - supports unity government in Palestine

AFP - GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories — The European Union supports Palestinian unity, but a new government must recognise Israel and accept past accords, European parliament president Jerzy Buzek said on Monday.

Buzek spoke during a trip to Gaza City, where he toured projects run by the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees and met its commissioner general, Filippo Grandi.

"We support a unity government in Palestine, but it is very important that the government recognise Israel's right to exist and past accords," he said at the beginning of a four-day trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The terms of a surprise unity signed by bitter rivals Hamas and Fatah last month require the parties to agree the make-up of an interim government of independent figures that can lay the groundwork for new elections. more

Video: Israel's siege cripples Gaza's economy in act of collective punishment

The UN Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, UNRWA, says in a new report that broad unemployment in Gaza in the second half of 2010 reached an unprecedented 45.2%, one of the highest rates in the world.

It has been exactly four years since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, prompting Israel to impose even tougher restrictions.

With the economic blockade entering its fifth year, many young Gazans are resigned to taking whatever work they can get.

According to a UN report, it has created a drastic situation where half of all adults in the Gaza Strip are unemployed.

A brave few are betting on Gaza's borders opening but if the political stalemate goes on those hopes could soon be swept away.

Al Jazeera's Nadim Baba reports.

19 truck loads of medicine transferred to Gaza from West Bank, deliveries from Egypt arriving soon

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli Civil Administration officials said Monday that 19 trucks of medicine were transferred to the Gaza Strip as doctors warned that the enclave's health sector was on the verge of collapse.

Palestinian Authority Health Minister Fathi Abu Moghli said Sunday that it had coordinated with Israel to transfer medicine and medical equipment from its warehouses in the West Bank to the Gaza Strip.

The Ramallah ministry said the shipment would include over 130 types of medical and surgical items, worth more than 2.5 million shekels ($732,280), as well as 81 different medicines valued at six million shekels ($1.76 million).

Ministry spokesman Omar An-Naser said medicine would also be delivered to Gaza through Egypt via the Rafah crossing, following coordination between the Ramallah health minister and Palestine's ambassador to Egypt Barakat Al-Farra. more

Gaza unemployment at 45.2% among highest in world and real wages falling says UNRWA

From the Khaleej Times
JERUSALEM — The unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip stood at 45.2 percent in late 2010, one of the highest in the world according to a report released on Tuesday by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

The figure, for the second half of 2010, was a slight improvement on the 45.7 percent rate during the same period in 2009, but it was an increase from the first half of 2010, when a temporary building boom boosted employment.

UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, said the figures showed the ongoing crisis in Gaza and the continuing effects of Israel’s blockade on the coastal territory.

“These are disturbing trends,” UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said, referring to the both the unemployment figures and statistics showing that real wages were continuing to decline.

He said it was “hard to understand the logic” of Israel’s blockade, saying it “deliberately impoverishes so many and condemns hrdreds of thousands of potentially productive people to a life of destitution.” more

Man injured in shelling that killed six family members during Israeli 2008/9 war on Gaza dies

From IMEMC - Palestinian medical sources reported that a Palestinian man died on Saturday of wounds suffered during the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip between December 28 and January 2009. Six members of his family, including two of his children, were killed when the army bombarded their home.

The sources said that Mohammad Shaban Islayyim, in his forties, was injured in January 2009 when the Israeli forces bombarded a home where the Minister of Interior, Sa'id Siyam, was located in Gaza city.

Siyam, one of the brothers of his wife, and six neighbors, including a child, were killed in the attack.

Islayyim was critical injured and received medical treatment in Israel, Gaza and Egypt but remained in a serious condition until he died on Saturday. more

Mosque and school in Bruqin village served with demolition notice

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Israel handed out demolition orders for a mosque and public school in the village of Bruqin on Sunday, prompting immediate condemnation from Palestinian leaders.

Palestinian political leader Mustafa Barghouthi described the Israeli actions as "criminal" on a visit to the village.

"Mosques that survive the arson attempts of settlers only stand to be demolished by the bulldozers of Israel's military," the leader of the Palestinian National Initiative party said. more

Gaza civil society calls for full support for Freedom Flotilla 2 urging activists to keep up fight

A call from Gaza in support of Freedom Flotilla 2

Besieged Gaza, Occupied Palestine--We the Palestinians of the Besieged Gaza Strip, on this day, five years after closures began on Gaza, are saying enough inaction, enough discussion, enough waiting – the full siege on the Gaza Strip must end.

Shortly after the 2006 democratic election which was supervised by people and bodies from the international community, nations formerly supporting aid and cultural organizations in Gaza withdrew their support. In mid-2007, our borders, controlled by Israel and Egypt, fully closed, locking Palestinians within and preventing imports and exports from crossing our borders.

From December 27, 2008 to January 18, 2009, Israel waged an all-out slaughter on Gaza, killing over 1500 Palestinians, the vast majority innocent civilians and among them over 430 children, and destroying thousands of homes, businesses, factories and buildings including universities, schools, hospitals and medical care facilities, and damaging vast tracts of our water and sanitation system.

Two and a half years following the cessation of Israel's attacks, almost no homes and few buildings have been rebuilt, our sanitation and sewage system is more dire than ever, raw waste continues to be pumped into our sea -- for want of proper treatment facilities -- contaminating our drinking water and food supply, polluting our water and the fish along the coast which fishermen are forced to harvest, banned from entering the 20 nautical miles of sea accorded to Palestinians under the Oslo agreement.

Our farmers continue to be shot at, maimed and killed by Israeli soldiers along our border, prevented from working, growing and harvesting their land, denying us a rich supply of produce and vitamins. Nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition continue to rise, affecting our children's growth and their ability to study. Our economy is shut down by lack of functioning factories and electricity. Our students hold little to no prospects of exiting for study abroad, even when placements and scholarships have been secured, due to the Israeli control of the Erez crossing and the Egyptian-controlled Rafah crossing being closed more often than opened. Our ill suffer for want of necessary medications and medical supplies and equipment.

Since 2005, over 170 Palestinian organizations have called for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions to pressure Israel to comply to international law. Since 2005, Palestinians have weekly met in villages in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, to protest Israel 's occupation policies.

Creative civilian efforts such as the Free Gaza boats that broke the siege five times, the Gaza Freedom March, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and the many land convoys must never stop their siege-breaking, highlighting the inhumanity of keeping 1.5 million Gazans in an open-air prison.

On the 2nd of December, 22 international organizations including Amnesty, Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid, and Medical Aid for Palestinians produced the report ‘Dashed Hopes, Continuation of the Gaza Blockade’ calling for international action to force Israel to unconditionally lift the blockade, saying the Palestinians of Gaza under Israeli siege continue to live in the same devastating conditions. Human Rights Watch published a comprehensive report, 'Separate and Unequal', that denounced Israeli policies as Apartheid, echoing similar sentiments by South African anti-apartheid activists.

The recent announced opening of the Rafah crossing has yet to be fully enacted. Even when open, it will mean little with respect to the imports and exports of goods to and from Gaza and will not improve the plights of fishermen, farmers and Gaza 's unemployment and manufactured poverty rates.

We request that the citizens of the world oppose this deadly, medieval blockade. The failure of the United Nations and its numerous organizations to condemn such crimes proves their complicity. Only civil society is able to mobilize to demand the application of international law and put an end to Israel's impunity. The intervention of civil society was effective in the late 1980s against the apartheid regime of South Africa. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have not only described Israel’s oppressive and violent control of Palestinians as Apartheid, they have also joined this call for the world’s civil society to intervene again.

We call on civil society organizations worldwide to intensify the anti-Israel sanctions campaign to compel Israel to end to its aggression. We call on the nations and citizens of the world participating in the Freedom Flotilla 2 to continue their plans to sail to Gaza where they would be welcomed by Palestinians. The civil society initiatives of the Freedom Flotillas are about taking a stance of justice and solidarity with besieged Palestinians when your governments will not. We call on the Flotilla movement to grow and continue to sail until the siege on Gaza is entirely lifted and Palestinians of Gaza are granted the basic human rights and freedom of movement citizens around the world enjoy.

Signed by:

University Teachers' Association

Palestinian Nongovernmental Organizations Network

Al-Aqsa University

Palestine Red Crescent Society in Gaza

General Union of Youth Entities

Arab Cultural Forum

General Union for Health Services Workers

General Union for Public Services Workers

General Union for Petrochemical and Gas Workers

General Union for Agricultural Workers

Union of Women’s Work Committees

Union of Synergies—Women Unit

Union of Palestinian Women Committees

Women’s Studies Society

Working Woman’s Society

Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel

One Democratic State Group

Palestinian Youth against Apartheid

Association of Al-Quds Bank for Culture and Info

Palestine Sailing Federation

Palestinian Association for Fishing and Maritime

Palestinian Women Committees

Progressive Students Union

Medical Relief Society

The General Society for Rehabilitation

Afaq Jadeeda Cultural Centre for Women and Children

Deir Al-Balah Cultural Centre for Women and Children

Maghazi Cultural Centre for Children

Al-Sahel Centre for Women and Youth

Ghassan Kanfani Kindergartens

Rachel Corrie Centre, Rafah

Rafah Olympia City Sisters

Al Awda Centre,

Rafah Al Awda Hospital,

Jabaliya Camp Ajyal Association,

GazaGeneral Union of Palestinian Syndicates

Al Karmel Centre,

Nuseirat Local Initiative,

Beit Hanoun Union of Health Work Committees

Red Crescent Society Gaza Strip

Beit Lahiya Cultural Centre

Al Awda Centre, Rafah

Al-Quds Bank for Culture and Information Society

women section -union of Palestinian workers syndicate

Middle East Childrens’ Alliance -Gaza

Local Initiative -Beit Hanoun

Statement from Free Gaza Movement: 'Dear Israel: It is you who is the provocateur, not us'

See press release below from the Free Gaza Movement in response to Israel's threats against Freedom Flotilla 2's humanitarian mission:

Regarding statements of government officials in Israel (echoed by officials in other countries) about diplomatic initiatives to impede the “Freedom Flotilla II- Stay Human” mission to Gaza, Palestine, we say:

Proper diplomacy does not exclude humanitarian action; Instead of seeking to prevent an international community of concerned citizens from taking nonviolent action in defense of liberty and human rights, diplomacy must pursue such actions and encourage them.

It is, therefore, a provocation to label the humanitarian action taken by movements supporting human rights to sail to Gaza a “provocation.”

It is a provocation that powerful states and international organizations, such as the US, Israel, the EU and the UN, are asking people to be silent and not react to violations of law and the disdain for universal values.

It is a provocation that international diplomacy is demanding that solidarity action from "people to people" be stopped.

It is a provocation that this international peaceful action is threatened with violence, and the powerful of the earth “wash their hands” of the consequences if Israel attacks us.

It is a provocation that these powerful entities justify, a priori, the murders, wounding, arrests and torture of unarmed human rights activists that took place one year ago on board all six ships of Freedom Flotilla 1.

We are determined to sail to Gaza, and we will. Our cause is just and our means are transparent. International diplomacy must do what it has refused to do for years, to undertake initiatives that it has turned away from for decades. Instead of condoning threats of repeated violence against unarmed civilians sailing in international waters, the global community must legally sanction the perpetrators of such crimes.

Those who seek to uphold and defend freedom, human rights, and justice must do more than denounce belligerent occupation, man-made humanitarian crises, ethnic cleansing, wanton violence against civilians, and the fierce oppression of social movements.

Civil society must be present, direct, and pro-active; it must transcend the political process of handling and resolving crises, which governments and international organizations carry out slowly, indecisively and, above all, with their self-interest at the forefront.

The grossly unjust and unlawful blockade of the Gaza Strip and the ongoing belligerent occupation of the rest of Palestine is a stark case of states sacrificing principle and human rights for power and self-interest.

The Freedom Flotilla II – Stay Human mission is a healthy reaction to the apathy of the international political community. We are sailing to confront massive injustice with global nonviolent action. This mission puts on notice all those who, for many years, have passively watched the tragedy of Palestine, as well as those who directly contribute to it.

Therefore, direct action taken by civil society to uphold freedom, human rights, and justice (such as Freedom Flotilla II - Stay Human), not only helps to build a different level of conscience, but is, and has to be, a means for the public to become a part of change and a direct challenge to governmental bodies that will not be stopped.

Free Gaza Movement

Israel gives Noble Energy green light to develop Noa field - grab Gaza's natural gas reserves

Minister of National infrastructures Dr. Uzi Landau has instructed Noble Energy to develop the Noa North gas reserve in the Noa license. Sources inform "Globes" that the final decision to develop the field came after operator Noble Energy convinced Ministry of National Infrastructures experts that he field did not spill over into other parts of the reserve, which is partly under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority in the economic zone of the Gaza Strip.

Up to now, Landau has refrained from ordering development of the Noa field, fearing that this would lead to diplomatic problems vis-à-vis the Palestinian Authority. "Globes" reported in the past that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the matter with President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas.

Noble Energy holds 47% of Noa, the other 53% being held by Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG), mainly through Delek Drilling LP (TASE: DEDR.L) and Avner Oil and Gas LP (TASE: AVNR.L).

From Globes - Israel Business Arena

New Zealand govt fails to respond to call to secure safety of citizens sailing on Gaza flotilla

(pic: - George Galloway, founder of UK charity Viva Palestina, shakes hands with Roger Fowler, captain of the Kia Ora Gaza team on the largest aid convoy to enter Gaza in 2010. The other five Kiwi Team members gather around at convoy base camp in Syria.)

Government Ignores Israel’s Threats against New Zealanders on Gaza Flotilla

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – The New Zealand Government has failed to respond to requests to secure the safe passage of New Zealanders on an upcoming humanitarian flotilla attempting to breach Israel’s siege of Gaza. The Government has also failed to clarify New Zealand’s position on the legality of the siege itself.

New Zealand has joined with initiatives from more than 14 national groups and international coalitions who have united to form the Freedom Flotilla Two (FF2). FF2 will consist of at least 10 vessels carrying humanitarian aid and approximately 1,000 passengers including journalists, politicians, humanitarian aid workers, dignitaries, doctors, professors, and human rights defenders. FF2 aims to raise international public awareness about Israel’s occupation of Palestine by directly challenging Israel’s illegal naval blockade of Gaza.

New Zealanders Harmeet Sooden and Vivienne Porzsolt will be participating in the FF2 aboard the Canadian boat *Tahrir*. The name ‘Tahrir’, meaning ‘Liberation’ in Arabic, was chosen to honour those who gathered in Tahrir Square in Cairo seeking democratic reform and spreading hope across the Middle East. The *Tahrir* will also host delegations from Canada, Australia, Belgium and Denmark. more