Friday, 17 June 2011

US lawsuit against flotilla filed in New York in yet another attempt to scupper blockade busters


EL SEGUNDO, Calif., June 16, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A civil lawsuit has been filed today against 14 ships, including at least one American-registered vessel named The Audacity of Hope, which are set to participate in a reprise international flotilla against Israel. Dr. Alan Bauer, a Harvard-educated biologist and terror victim injured in a 2002 Jerusalem bombing, is the plaintiff in the suit that was filed in Federal Court in New York City. more

150 pro-Palestine activists turn out in Sweden to oppose handball match with Israel


From BDS Movement
On the 12th of June, Sweden played Israel in a European Championship qualifying match in handball in Karlskrona, southern Sweden. Several organisations participated in a peaceful protest rally held outside the stadium, calling for the Israeli national team not to be welcomed to Sweden as long as the occupation is continuing and the Palestinians are prevented from exercising sport, unless the Israeli team or its covenant openly rejects the occupation. more
See also report on Swedish english-language site The Local

Hundreds join protests against apartheid wall - occupation troops respond with violence


From Ma'an
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinians and international activists protested Friday against Israel's separation wall in villages across the West Bank.

Israeli forces fired-tear canisters at the demonstrators in Ni'lin, Bil'in, Nabi Saleh and Al-Mas'ara, villages near Ramallah and Bethlehem.

In Al-Mas'ara, near Bethlehem, activists protested Israel's decision to demolish a mosque in the village.

Israeli troops used force to quash the rally, injuring three Palestinian protesters, the local popular committee said.

The committee called for a demonstration Wednesday to stop Israeli forces from demolishing the mosque. more

IHH pulls out of flotilla, denies government pressure, says 'technical difficulties' to blame

The 'technical difficulties' line is not very believable as all the heavy repairs to the propeller and engine, damaged by the Israelis, have been completed. Earlier this month is was claimed that the US had offered Turkey more of a role in the non-existent 'peace process' and Middle East talks as a carrot to entice the Erdogan government to pull out of the humanitarian mission. 15 boats will still be sailing to Gaza, 10 of which are ready to go. The boats will be converging south of Cyprus in late June.

From the Wall Street Journal
The Mavi Marmara, the Turkish ship at the center of a diplomatic storm last year when Israeli soldiers boarded to stop it reaching Gaza and killed nine passengers, has pulled out of a repeat aid flotilla on June 25, the Turkish charity that owns the ship said Friday.

The decision came a few weeks after Turkey's government asked the flotilla to delay its departure, and amid signs of efforts by Turkey and Israel to cool their disputes amid growing turmoil in Syria, with which both countries share a border.

Bulent Yildirim, head of Turkey's Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or IHH, denied the decision to pull the now-iconic ferry out of the flotilla was prompted by government pressure. "It is purely due to technical problems" caused by damage Israeli forces inflicted to the boat while they held Mavi Marmara, after seizing it in international waters as it headed for Gaza last May 31, he said.

Mr. Yildirim said IHH resources were also stretched. On Wednesday, the charity began distributing five tons or food aid to refugees camped just on the Syrian side of the border with Turkey. On Thursday, Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey would start supplying those informal camps with aid. more

Egypt still obstructing Gazans trying to leave Strip through 'open' Rafah crossing


From the Palestine Chronicle
Gaza Border 'Opening' is Just Rhetoric

By Ramzy Baroud

For most Palestinians, leaving Gaza through Egypt is as exasperating a process as entering it.

Governed by political and cultural sensitivities, most Palestinian officials and public figures refrain from criticising the way Palestinians are treated at the Rafah border.

However there is really no diplomatic language to describe the relationship between desperate Palestinians - some literally fighting for their lives - and Egyptian officials at the crossing which separates Gaza from Egypt.

"Gazans are treated like animals at the border," a friend of mine told me.

She was afraid that her fiance would not be allowed to leave Gaza, despite the fact that his papers were in order.

Having crossed the border myself just a few days ago, I could not disagree with her statement.

The New York Times reported on June 8 that "after days of acrimony between Hamas and Egypt over limitations on who could pass through the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, Hamas said Egypt had agreed to allow 550 people a day to leave Gaza and to lengthen the operating hours of the crossing."

And so the saga continues.

A few weeks after an official Egyptian announcement to "permanently" open the border - thus extending a lifeline for trapped Palestinians under siege in Gaza - the Rafah border was opened for two days of conditional operation in late May and then closed again for four days.

Now it has once more "reopened."

All the announcements are proving to be no more than rhetoric.

The latest "permanent" reopening has come with its own conditions and limitations, involving such factors as gender, age, purpose of visit and so on.

"Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country," states Article 13(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This universal principle, however, continues to evade most Palestinians in Gaza. more

- Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was A Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).

If you like this article, please consider making a contribution to the Palestine Chronicle.

Arab Knesset member receives death threat for being 'a dirty Arab and a traitor'


From the Palestine News and Information Agency
NAZARETH, June 16, 2011 (WAFA) - Arab member of Israeli parliament (Knesset) Talab al-Sana, Chairman of the Arab Democratic Party in Israel, Thursday received a letter threatening him with death, from an unknown right-wing group.

‘You described Lieberman not only as a racist but also as a criminal, so I want to tell you that you will die soon because you are a dirty Arab and a traitor. You are all traitors and spies,’ the letter said.

Al-Sana, who had received multiple death threats in the past, said: ‘These threats don’t scare me or sway me from my national and human stance. Fascist, right-wing threats make us more determined to tell the truth and advocate justice in issues facing our Arab society and Palestinian cause. Those who stand behind these threats are from the extreme right-wing which is trying to take over and control state affairs.’ more

Israeli soldiers will not face prosecution for taking 'trophy' photos to humiliate prisoners


From Haaretz
Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan decided Thursday not to launch a criminal investigation against former Israel Defense Forces soldier Eden Aberjil, who in 2010 photographed herself standing next to tied up Palestinian detainees. Instead, he ordered an investigation against another two soldiers.

The first of the IDF soldiers to be investigated was pictured pointing a rifle at a bound and blindfolded detainee who stood beside him. The other soldier to be investigated filmed a video of himself dancing to music around a tied-up and blindfolded Palestinian woman. Both photographs and the video were posted on Facebook.

Nitzan said Aberjil's photographs, which stirred up a storm around the world, are shameful, yet they do not justify criminal proceedings, only disciplinary ones. "Since military law does not apply to Eden Aberjil, it is not possible to take disciplinary measures against her nor are criminal proceedings justified," said Nitzan. Aberjil was discharged from the IDF in 2009. more