Thursday, 7 July 2011

Last witness Colonel Zuaretz set to give evidence on Sunday in Rachel Corrie trial

From ISM and the Rachel Corrie Foundation

Former Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade Commander, Colonel Pinhas (Pinky) Zuaretz – the final witness in the case – is scheduled to testify Sunday, July 10, in the Corrie civil trial against the State of Israel.

Colonel Zuaretz was the commanding officer of the Israeli military’s Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade in 2003, when American peace activist Rachel Corrie was killed. Troops under his command were responsible for the actions resulting in her killing. Zuaretz is the highest ranking officer called as a government witness in the civil trial who had command responsibility in Gaza. He is possibly the highest such officer ever to face cross examination in a civil suit regarding the actions of the Israeli military against civilians in Gaza during the second intifada. His testimony is expected to shed light on the Israeli military’s failures as an occupying power to protect civilian life and property in the region.

The lawsuit, filed in 2005 by Attorney Hussein abu Hussein, charges the State of Israel with responsibility for killing Rachel in Rafah, Gaza in 2003. Since the trial opened in March 2010, 14 hearings have been held, with over 2000 pages of court transcripts recorded from 22 testimonies – including that of 14 Israeli Military personnel, and four peace activist eye-witnesses with the International Solidarity Movement. Most government witnesses for the State of Israel were identified only by their initials, and many testified while hidden behind a screen. Each hearing was attended by officials from the American Embassy, numerous observers from legal and human rights organizations, and members of the Corrie family.

Craig and Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s parents, will hold a press conference on Monday, July 11, at 11:00 AM at the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem to discuss the conclusion of this phase of the case, as well as next steps in their efforts to seek accountability for their daughter’s killing. They will be joined by their other daughter, Sarah Corrie Simpson and Attorney Hussein Abu Hussein. The press conference will be held in English, with attorneys available at the conclusion for brief interviews in both Arabic and Hebrew.

Court proceedings on Sunday, July 10, will begin at 12:00 noon in the courtroom of Judge Oded Gershon, 6th floor, Haifa District Court, 12 Palyam St., Haifa, Israel.

Please visit the Trial Update page of the Rachel Corrie Foundation website for updates, last minute changes to the court schedule, and related information.

For press related inquiries, contact:
Phone: Stacy Sullivan (in Israel) at +972-54-280-7572 or +972-52-952-2143

Rachel Corrie Foundation

Golan man sentenced to eight months in prison for throwing rocks, IDF killers stay free


A man from the Israeli Occupied Golan Heights has been sentenced to eight months in prison by an Israeli court for throwing rocks during the Naksa Day disturbances this year in which 22 people are said to have died due to Israeli live fire.

Nasser Shaer, 37, from the Druze town of Majdal Shams in the Occupied Golan has been given an eight month jail sentence by the Israeli Nazareth Magistrates' Court for throwing rocks that allegedly injured an Israeli policeman during Naksa Day disturbances this year near the Syrian border.

The judge presiding over the case stated in sentencing Shaer that Israel is "facing a serious and unusual situation. The state of Israel has been surrounded by enemies from the day it was created, and has to fight every day and every minute for its existence." more

Israel 'instructs' foreign airlines not to fly pro-Palestine activists into Tel Aviv

From Haaretz

Israel has instructed foreign airlines to prevent 300 pro-Palestinian activists from boarding flights to Israel over the weekend, after Israeli security forces handed them the names of 300 people who they had blacklisted.

The Transportation Ministry requested that foreign airlines report to Israeli authorities if any of the blacklisted passengers appear on their flights to Israel in the next 24 hours, stressing that these people will not be granted entry into Israel.

In effect, Israel's instructions mean that the foreign airlines will not allow those passengers to board their flights in airports abroad, so they would not need to fly them back to their countries of origin after being deported by Israel. more

UN special rapporteur slams UN report that's set to justify killing of innocent people on Mavi Marmara

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) -- A UN rapporteur Thursday slammed a highly anticipated UN report set to back a 2010 Israeli commando raid on an aid flotilla aiming to break Israel's blockade of Gaza which left nine people dead.

"The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Prof. Olivier De Schutter, has received a draft of this report and he firmly opposes its conclusions," De Schutter's office said in a statement.

He was preparing "a statement where he denounces the conclusions" of the report by a UN commission which the UN chief is expected to release on Friday, it said, adding such a move would be "exceptional" within the UN.

"Tomorrow, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will release a statement supporting the legality of the Israeli intervention against the 2010 'Gaza Freedom Flotilla,'" the statement said.

"According to Olivier De Schutter, the blockade and the Israeli intervention clearly violate international law and the human right to food," it added. more

French boat Dignity held at port in Crete by Greek authorities after refuelling

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- A lone French yacht carrying activists hoping to run the Israeli blockade on Gaza was on Thursday blocked in Crete by the Greek coast guard when it stopped to refuel, an organizer said.

"The Dignite/Al Karama was taken to Sitia in Crete by the Greek coast guard after being stopped in a nearby port while it was refueling," Claude Leostic told AFP by telephone from Paris. more

Explosive device targets IDF tank near Gaza fence, injures one soldier

An IDF soldier was lightly injured by an explosive device that blew up near his tank on the Gaza border on Thursday.

The injured soldier was evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba with shrapnel wounds.

The IDF had originally reported that the soldier had been injured by an anti-tank missile. more

Malaysia aid ship allowed to off load cargo for Gaza's collapsed sewage system after 7-week delay

Readers will remember The Spirit of Rachel Corrie (MV Finch) first entered Palestinian waters some time ago - on 16 May to be precise, and has only now been allowed to unload its Cargo by the Egyptian authorities who still appear to be doing their best to collude with Israel's blockade and siege. From Global Research
The Spirit of Rachel Corrie finally was allowed to berth at the El-Arish Port on Tuesday July 5, 2011 at 7.10 pm (Egypt time) for the unloading of the UPVC pipes to Gaza.

The cargo of 32 tonnes took almost 4 hours to be transferred to 7 awaiting trailers.

The humanitarian aid cargo will be taken to Ouja at the Israeli border where it will be reassigned to other trailers sponsored by the Palestinians to be delivered to Gaza via Karem Shalom. The impasse finally ended after Perdana Global Peace Foundation President, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad met the Prime Minister of Egypt, Dr. Essam Sharaf on June 29 in Cairo.

The Perdana Global Peace Foundation records with sincere gratitude the initiative taken by Dr Essam Sharaf , the Prime Minister of Egypt in enabling the cargo of sewage pipes to be delivered directly to the people of Gaza. The vessel left the Port of Piraeus, Greece on May 11 carrying 7.5 kilometers of UPVC (plastic) sewage pipes to help restore the devastated sewerage system in Gaza. On board the ship were anti-war activists and journalists, consisting of 7 Malaysians, 2 Irish, 2 Indians and 1 Canadian. All of them have since been permitted to disembark on June 3, 2011.

On 16 May, the boat entered Palestinian territorial waters and was just 400 meters from land when it came under attack by the Israeli Navy. After coming under gunfire from the Israeli Navy, the boat was forced to divert to Egyptian waters; and later on the same day, anchored off El Arish Port where it remained for the last 7 weeks waiting for permission to dock. PGPF would like to convey our deepest appreciation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Malaysia and especially to the Malaysian Embassy in Egypt for their assistance and cooperation throughout the ordeal. This humanitarian initiative is sponsored by the Perdana Global Peace Foundation (PGPF). Global Research

Video: Burin and Huwara village fields being set alight by Yitzhar settlers

From B'Tselem

05 July '11: Video documentation: Settler sets fire to field in Burin

On Thursday, 30 June, around noon settlers torched fields surrounding the Yizhar settlement. The action apparently was in response to the knife-point carjacking of a vehicle belonging to a Yitzhar settler the previous night as she was driving through the Village of Huwara. The fires consumed dozens of dunams of land, including, according to military and Civil Administration officials quoted in the media, around 400 olive trees of residents of the adjacent Palestinian villages, Burin and Huwara. Some of the trees were completely destroyed.