Sunday, 26 June 2011

Israel uses over 100 different torture techniques against Palestinian prisoners

From the Palestine Information Center

GAZA, (PIC)-- The Center for Prisoners’ Studies in Gaza has revealed that Israeli security forces developed more than a hundred mental and physical torture methods designed to elicit confessions from Palestinians during interrogations.

Israel uses torture against the prisoners from the moment they are arrested until when they are set free, said CPS director Raafat Hamdouna, condemning Israel’s democracy and human rights claims, and calling on the world community to monitor what is happening and issue indictments against security officers involved in torturing prisoners.

Hamdouna said that everyone who has ever entered Israeli prisons has been subjected to multiple forms of torture. It begins from the time of arrest, when brutality is used to instill fear in the arrestee’s family. The residents of the targeted houses are then usually degraded and assaulted before the subject is taken as prisoner from his home, Hamdouna added.

“That is followed by threats of murder, assassination, home demolition, rape or the arrest of wives, then the covering of the head with a dirty sack, sleep deprivation, the use of injuries [beatings] during interrogation, placing the prisoner inside a refrigerator and standing for long periods,” Hamdouna said, listing many more torture methods.


Senior Hamas prisoners transferred into solitary confinement, triggers protest hunger strike

From Haaretz
Hamas announced Sunday that all its members currently sitting in Israeli prisons will launch a hunger strike on Monday, after Israel transferred senior Hamas officials to solitary confinement.

A Hamas spokesman said Sunday that the purpose of the hunger strike was to demand the release of Yihyeh Sanwar, who is considered the most senior Hamas official in prison, and his brother Mohammad, who was among those responsible for the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. According to the Hamas spokesman, Sanwar suffers from serious health problems.

According to Hamas, at least six more senior Hamas officials were recently transferred to solitary confinement. more

Video: Irish Gaza activists rebut Clinton's claim that 'entering Israeli waters' is a provocation Members of the MV Saoirse, the Irish Ship to Gaza, give their views on Sec for State Hillary Clinton's statement that the Freedom Flotilla was a provocation by "entering Israeli waters."

Israel threatens foreign journalists with 10-year ban for travelling with Gaza flotilla

From The Sacramento Bee
JERUSALEM -- Israel on Sunday threatened to ban international journalists for up to a decade from the country if they join a flotilla planning to breach the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The warning reflected Israeli jitters about the international flotilla, which comes just over a year after a similar mission ended in the deaths of nine Turkish activists in clashes with Israeli naval commandos.

Israel is eager to avoid a repeat of last year's raid, which drew heavy international condemnations and ultimately forced Israel to loosen a blockade on Hamas-controlled Gaza. Israel says the blockade is needed to prevent Hamas from smuggling weapons into the territory.

It remains unclear when the current flotilla will actually set sail, but organizers have hinted it could be as soon as this week.

In a letter to foreign journalists, the Government Press Office's director, Oren Helman, called the flotilla "a dangerous provocation that is being organized by western and Islamic extremist elements to aid Hamas." more

UK media's systemic bias in favour of Israel exposed by prestigious Glasgow University Media Group

Asa Winstanley - The Electronic Intifada
25 June 2011

Glasgow University Media Group’s ambitious new study of British TV’s coverage of Israel and the Palestinians, More Bad News from Israel, is the second edition of 2004’s Bad News From Israel. Led by academics Greg Philo and Mike Berry, this work is precise, fair-minded and detailed. It constitutes irrefutable evidence of endemic pro-Israel bias.

Those of us regularly subjected to BBC and ITV news won’t exactly find this conclusion surprising but the importance of detailed documentary evidence like this book provides cannot be overstated.

The team had originally analyzed approximately 200 bulletins and questioned more than 800 persons. This new edition examines coverage from the past few years (369). Samples of coverage were taken from the main news bulletins on BBC and ITV (the most popular TV news programs in the UK). The authors identify key themes, such as coverage of casualties on “either side,” justifications for violence and “peace conferences” and international diplomacy. Audiences from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds were asked to complete a series of questionnaires and take part in focus groups. The vast majority reported that TV news was their primary source of information on Israel and the Palestinians.

The samples, taken from key moments in recent history, are well chosen. The focus of the initial study was coverage of the second Palestinian intifada’s outbreak in 2000 (in the first two weeks of which, Israel, by its own soldiers’ accounts, fired a million bullets at unarmed protesters). The next samples are taken from one year later (by which time Palestinian groups had started retaliatory bombings within Israel), and from coverage of the March and April 2002 Israeli re-invasions of the occupied West Bank.

The new chapters look at coverage of Israel’s 2008-09 winter assault on Gaza and the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla a year ago (which was breaking news at the time the book was due to go to print).

Systematic preference for Israeli points of view

By fastidiously counting lines of transcript text, the authors identify a systematic preference for Israeli points of view. Israeli speakers were given twice as much space as Palestinians during the first few weeks of the intifada (215). Israeli casualties were disproportionately reported, accounting for approximately a third of the coverage, despite the actual ratio of 13 Palestinian deaths to one Israeli at that stage (223). After the Palestinian retaliatory bombing campaign began, this phenomenon worsened: “from October to December 2001 we found that there was significantly more coverage of Israeli casualties than Palestinian” even though the reality was actually still the opposite (259-60).

The study’s most telling findings concern the dominant explanatory framework and the lack of background or historical context in coverage. more

Mysterious blast near UN and Hamas offices - no casualties reported or claim of responsibility

From the BBC
A mysterious explosion has gone off in Gaza City near a U.N. compound and a key base of the ruling Hamas movement's feared intelligence service.

Security officials say no one was hurt in the blast, which tore a 2-meter (6-foot) wide hole through a wall surrounding the U.N. compound. They said it was not clear what the target was. more

Greek officials attempt to block US Boat to Gaza leaving port, US/Israeli pressure suspected

Athens - Passengers on the U.S. Boat to Gaza, The Audacity of Hope, are asking Greek government officials to clarify whether the boat they are leasing is being blocked from leaving Greece because of an anonymous request of a private citizen concerning the seaworthiness of the ship or whether a political decision has been made by the Greek government in response to U.S. and Israeli government pressure. They specifically want to know if the U.S. is using its leverage at the International Monetary Fund over the implementation of an ongoing bailout of European banks with massive Greek debts to compel the Greek government to block the U.S. Boat to Gaza from leaving Greece.
On the morning of June 23, the American passengers learned that a "private complaint" had been filed against the U.S. Boat to Gaza, which is part of an international flotilla scheduled to sail to Gaza in the next few days. This complaint, its origin still unknown to the Americans, claimed that the boat is "not seaworthy" and therefore requires a detailed inspection. On June 25 a police order declared that until the complaint is resolved the boat will not be permitted to leave.
The passengers are wondering if Israel, which has extensive economic trade and investments in Greece, is using its clout to pressure the Greek government. "Israel has said openly that it is pressuring governments to try to stop the flotilla, and clearly Greece is a key government since several of the boats plan to leave from Greece," says passenger Medea Benajmin. "It is unconscionable that Israel would take advantage of the economic hardship the Greek people are experiencing to try to stop our boat or the flotilla."
Given the very close relationship between Israel and the U.S., and the public efforts by Israel to denounce and try to stop the flotilla, the passengers on the U.S. boat want to know if the Obama Administration is using U.S. leverage at the IMF to compel the Greek authorities to stop the U.S. boat from leaving Greece. Greece's economic and political crisis is a result of extreme austerity measures imposed by the European Union and the largely U.S.-controlled International Monetary Fund. Past U.S. governments have used their influence at the IMF to impose political conditions on indebted countries that have nothing to do with restoring economic growth.
Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, said: "Greece is not going to be able to meet the targets that it is pledging to the IMF and the European authorities. In this situation the IMF and therefore the U.S. government will have enormous leverage because the Fund and EU authorities will decide what will be acceptable benchmarks for Greece to receive future tranches of IMF/EU funding."
"We are guests here," said Robert Naiman, a passenger on the U.S. boat. "But we ask the Greek authorities to be honest with us. What is the origin of this complaint? Is the decision to stop our boat from leaving truly due to legitimate technical issues that can be resolved, or is it a sign that our boat will be stopped from leaving no matter what we do? What is the role of the Israeli and U.S. governments in the Greek decision to stop our boat from leaving?"
"We have a right to protest the blockade of Gaza," said Ann Wright, an organizer and passenger on the U.S. boat. "To its credit, the Greek government, like the Red Cross, Amnesty International, and Oxfam, agrees with us that the blockade on Gaza must be lifted. But for years, the only effective international action to challenge the illegal blockade has been freedom flotillas. We call upon the Greek government, which agrees that our cause is just, not to stand in the way of our peaceful protest in pursuit of our shared goal of lifting the blockade. The boat we are leasing for this journey, after its refitting for the voyage to Gaza, was surveyed by a professional surveyor and successfully completed its sea trials. There is no reason for any further delays on this matter, we are ready to sail."
For regular updates follow the US Boat to Gaza on Twitter: and visit the US Boat to Gaza website.

Action Alert: Demand the release of Nabi Saleh popular leader defending village land from settlers

From the International Solidarity Movement

Non-violent protesters are rising up to challenge the Israeli occupation, from the chambers of Congress to the shores of the Mediterranean. And while other action have received global media coverage, a small West Bank village named Nabi Saleh has been struggling without the attention it deserves.

Its residents have been organizing a campaign to challenge the illegal theft of their land by the settlement of Halamish since January 2010. Dozens of men and women have been gathering every Friday to voice their opposition to the injustice they face, using creative actions and non-violent demonstrations. The weekly protests are also joined by international and Israeli solidarity activists.

In an attempt to silence their dissent, the Israeli army has utilized banned high-velocity tear-gas projectiles, rubber-coated steel bullets and at times, even live ammunition at demonstrations. Additionally, the Army is conducting an ongoing arrest campaign against men, women and children in the village. Between January 2010 and April 2011, the Army carried out 73 protest-related arrests. One of the arrested is Bassem Tamimi, a main organizer and member of the local Popular Committee.

Netanyahu retorted to an interruption by a pro-Palestinian protestor in Congress, that only in democratic nations are such protests allowed. But the violent attack she faced from nearby AIPAC delegates in the Congressional Gallery and the jailing of non-violent organizers across the Palestinian Territories suggests otherwise. Tamimi, a father of four and a respected member of his community, is sitting in jail for the crime of non-violent organizing.

In his recent court appearance, Tamimi stated, “I organized these peaceful demonstrations to defend our land and our people.” Tamimi also challenged the legitimacy of the very system which tries him, saying that “Despite claiming to be the only democracy in the Middle East you are trying me under military laws [...] that are enacted by authorities which I haven’t elected and do not represent me (See Tamimi’s full statement).”

Speaking on behalf of the European Union, Ambassador András Dékány stated, “The rights of Israeli and Palestinian Human Rights Defenders protesting peacefully against settlements and the separation barrier are severely curtailed. While the EU welcomed before this Council in March the release of Abdallah Abu Rahma, the EU is concerned that other human rights defenders continue to be detained for their non violent protests. The EU is observing the trial, which opened on 5 June before an Israeli military court, of Bassem Tamimi, an activist of the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh affected by the illegal settlement expansion. The EU is also concerned by reports that journalists in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are exposed to severe harassment as this affects negatively the right to freedom of expression. Impunity for such acts is unacceptable (see EU’s full statement).”

Tamimi’s next hearing will take place on the June 27th at the Ofer Military Court , when testimonies will be heard in this case for the first time.

Will you tell you government to act?

Join us in calling for release of Bassem Tamimi and Naji Tamimi.

Thanks to the ISM