Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Gaza government blames Egypt for continuing suffering and delays at Rafah crossing

RAFAH, (PIC)-- Palestinian premier in Gaza Ismail Haneyya has said that the Palestinian people’s suffering at the Rafah border terminal was still ongoing and called on the Egyptian leadership to end it.

Speaking after a meeting with Rafah border and security officials in the city, Haneyya asked the Egyptian government to alleviate the suffering and to remove obstacles impeding smooth travel of passengers.

He said that obstacles at the crossing were caused by the Egyptian side, adding that the Palestinian side is ready to facilitate the travel of 1,000 passengers on a daily basis. more

Juliano in international waters and heading for rendevous with French boat Dignity

(pic: the French boat Dignity, above, will meet up with the Juliano at an undisclosed location)

The Gaza-bound Juliano ship left Greece Wednesday afternoon, after suffering huge delays due in part to a ban set by Athens on the departure of flotilla ships from its ports.

On board the ship are 20 activists. Last week flotilla organizers claimed that Israel had sabotaged the ship in an attempt to prevent it from sailing.

"We are at sea," former Israeli Dror Feiler, one of the organizers, told Ynet. "All roads lead to Gaza. It will be a small but high-quality flotilla."

Greta Berlin, a spokeswoman for the Free Gaza movement, told Ynet that the Juliano will rendezvous, in international waters, with a French boat already at sea before heading towards the Strip. She gave no details on the location of the meeting. more

Children routinely tortured by soldiers and police while in Israeli detention

Pic - Omar Alaaeddin, 25, a Palestinian from the village of al-Maasara, a day after his release by Israeli forces on 23 March 2010. He has been arrested and beaten for several hours. (Anne Paq/ActiveStills)

Sleep-deprived and suffering from a broken leg, 16-year-old Muhammad Halabiyeh endured days of torture at the hands of Israeli soldiers and police officers, who punched him repeatedly in the face and abdomen, shoved needles into his hand and leg and threatened the Palestinian teenager with sexual abuse.

Arrested near his home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Dis in February 2010, Halabiyeh confessed after days of abuse and torture to the charge that he threw a Molotov cocktail at an Israeli army base. More than one year after his arrest, which was spent in Israeli custody, Halabiyeh was found guilty in an Israeli military court.

His conviction came despite the fact that the Israeli military judge in his case stated that she believed the teenager was tortured. more

Three flotilla ships now at sea - European MPs condemn Greece's illegal bans, urge free passage

(pic: a flotilla press conference was held at the European Parliament)

The Juliano plus the French boat Dignity and one Canadian vessel are now at sea, the last two in international waters. From the Irish Times
TWO SHIPS from the Gaza flotilla are still at sea in international waters and must be allowed reach their destination, a press conference in the European Parliament fronted by Irish MEP Paul Murphy was told yesterday .

He was one of three MEPs who failed to make it to Gaza when it was alleged that the Irish boat was sabotaged by Israeli agents in Turkey and then Greece imposed a ban on boats sailing there.

He and his MEP colleagues, Kyriacos Triantaphyllides, from Cyprus, and Nikos Chountis, from Greece, had been placed in danger by the action of the Israeli authorities, he said...

...two ships which were part of the flotilla were still at sea in international waters. One, they said, was a French vessel and the other was from Canada and they were demanding these vessels, which were carrying European citizens, should not be interfered with by the Israeli authorities. more

Swedish-Norwegian-Greek boat the Juliano has left port and is being pursued by Greek coastguard

The Juliano has been repaired following sabotage last week and has just set sail from the Greek port of Piraeus with coastguard in pursuit.

Passenger boat "Juliano" (named after Juliano Meir Khamis, the murdered actor and director at Freedom Theatre in Jenin) is owned jointly by the Ship to Gaza organizations in Sweden, Norway and Greece.

Netanyahu vows to stop 'aerial flotilla' although authorities admit to difficulties

There is no way to enter occupied Palestine except by passing through Israeli-controlled checkpoints. The Welcome to Palestine initiative organising the 'fly-in' aims to highlight this fact, and the 700 activists involved plan to engage in peaceful solidarity activities on the West Bank, assuming the entry attempt is successful. Visit the Right to Enter site.

From JPost

Officials tell Netanyahu that activists at Ben-Gurion Airport from Europe will be hard to identify, goal is to keep airport running normally.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu toured Ben Gurion International Airport along with Police Insp.-Gen. Yochanan Danino and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch Wednesday morning to discuss preparations for the arrival of hundreds of Gaza activists arriving from Europe this Friday, Army Radio reported...

...One protester, speaking to Army Radio Wednesday, said that he and other protesters were planning on arriving to Ben Gurion Airport as tourists destined for the West Bank.

According to the activist, the difference between him and any other tourist visiting Israel is that he and other demonstrators will tell security officials that they plan on visiting Palestinian cities...

...The activists, mostly European, are participating in an event that is supported by 40 Palestinian non-governmental groups, called “Welcome Palestine.” They are hoping they will be able to get on their flight, land in Ben-Gurion Airport and explain to the Israeli customs officials that they have come to visit “Palestine.” If they are allowed to pass through customs, they plan to spend a week in the Palestinian territories engaging in a series of solidarity activities in support of Palestinian statehood.

If they are halted before getting on their flights or are deported once they have arrived, they hope that the spectacle of authorities dealing with 700 activists will publicize the difficulties Palestinians and their supporters face with regard to freedom of movement and access in and out of the West Bank. The organizers said that their actions are not connected to the Gaza flotilla or the naval blockade of Gaza. more

French boat Dignité still on course for Gaza despite press reports to the contrary

A report on the Guardian yesterday, and still being run today and linked to by iGaza yesterday, is wrong. We have just had confirmation from the the Free Gaza Movement international media office that the French boat Dignité - al Karama is still sailing towards Gaza. The Jerusalem Post is also reporting that the Israeli Navy is preparing to intercept the boat.

Tourist map shines a light on Gaza City, the world's 'fourth most-ancient city'

From JPost
The map, which debuted this week, is the brainchild of students and lecturers at the Geography Department of the city’s University College of Applied Sciences (UCAS). Besides documenting its archaeological and tourist sites, the map includes practical information such as hospitals and government buildings. Funded by the Bank of Palestine, the English-language map is handed out free of charge.

"We decided to give Gaza its due," Amir Shurrab, a lecturer at UCAS's Information Technology Department and head of Midad, the company that implemented the mapping project, told The Media Line. "Gaza is the world's fourth-most-ancient city. This project was our dream and aspiration, which we finally realized."

Gaza boasts unique archeological sites dating back millennia. The tomb of Prophet Muhammad's grandfather Hashem and the recently unearthed Hellenistic site of Tel Al-Rafah near the Egyptian border, where 1,300 silver coins were discovered, are only some of the city's highlights.

Shurrab said there are enough tourists in the city, and plenty more visiting political activists to justify creating the map. Until now, the only tool available for them to navigate the city was a printout from Google Maps, which he said isn’t detailed enough.

Others involved in the project admitted that ideology played no less of a role than practicality. Jamal Al-Khodary, UCAS's chairman, told Al-Quds daily that the idea of a tourist map could be considered a luxury, but that in fact the initiative was "a challenge to the blockade and the aggression, portraying a bright image for Gaza and Palestine." more