Saturday, 23 July 2011

UN officials visit communities facing rising forced removals by Israeli occupiers

From the UN News Centre

Two senior United Nations officials today visited a Bedouin community in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) amid increasing home demolitions by the Israeli authorities, who have control over security, planning and zoning in the area.

Maxwell Gaylard, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for oPt and David Hutton, the acting Director of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), visited the village of Khan Al Ahmar where more homes have been razed this year than in the previous two years.

The village is situated just outside Jerusalem and between two Israeli settlements in the so-called Area C of the West Bank. Residents of Khan Al Ahmar village, most of them refugees, have lived in the area since 1948.

Last week, the village received four new “stop-building” orders and the community has not been able to obtain building permits due to restrictive and inadequate planning policies in Area C.

Under the planning and zoning regime applied by the Israeli authorities in Area C, Palestinian construction is effectively prohibited in some 70 per cent of the area, while in the remaining 30 per cent, a range of restrictions virtually eliminate the possibility of obtaining a building permit, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

There are demolition orders issued against another 250 structures in communities around Khan Al Ahmar, OCHA said in a press release. Some 20 Bedouin communities, with a combined population of 2,353, two-thirds of them youngsters under the age of 18, live in the area in the Jerusalem periphery.

More than 80 per cent of them are now at risk of being displaced due to the expansion of the Ma’ale Adumin Jewish settlement and the planned construction of the Barrier.

During the visit to Khan Al Ahmar, OCHA unveiled new research findings focusing on displacement of Palestinians in Area C.

The survey, which is based on field visits to 13 communities in Area C, found that in most of the communities, Palestinian families are being forced to leave due to restrictive policies and practices of the Israeli authorities, including movement and access restrictions, settlement activity, and restrictions on Palestinian construction.

The research also highlights how these policies are undermining traditional community livelihoods and placing thousands of people at risk of displacement.

For more details go to UN News Centre

How western media and 'experts' jumped to blame Muslims for Norway terror outrage

From The Electronic Intifada

Immediately after news of the bombing of government buildings in Norway’s capital Oslo, the Internet buzzed with speculation about who might have done it and why. Most speculation focused on so-called Islamist militancy and Muslims. The urge to speculate after grave events is understandable, but the focus of speculation, its amplification through social media, its legitimization in mainstream media, and the privilege granted to so-called experts is a common pattern.

The danger of such speculation is that it adds little knowledge but causes real harm by spreading fear and loathing of Muslims, immigrants and other vulnerable and routinely demonized populations, and whether intentional or not, assigns collective guilt to them.

“Experts” who supposedly study this topic — almost always white men and very often with military or government backgrounds — direct suspicion toward Muslims by pointing to claims of responsibility on “jihadi” web sites that only they have access to. Notorious attacks invariably inspire false claims of responsibility, or false reports of claims of responsibility, but this apparently doesn’t discourage the media and experts from giving them undue attention.

From the “experts” to The New York Times to the world…

The New York Times originally reported:
A terror group, Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, or the Helpers of the Global Jihad, issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, according to Will McCants, a terrorism analyst at C.N.A., a research institute that studies terrorism.

In later editions, the story was revised to read:
Initial reports focused on the possibility of Islamic militants, in particular Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, or Helpers of the Global Jihad, cited by some analysts as claiming responsibility for the attacks. American officials said the group was previously unknown and might not even exist.

The source is Will McCants, adjunct faculty at Johns Hopkins University. On his website he describes himself as formerly “Senior Adviser for Countering Violent Extremism at the U.S. Department of State, program manager of the Minerva Initiative at the Department of Defense, and fellow at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center.” This morning, he posted “Alleged Claim for Oslo Attacks” on his blog Jihadica:
This was posted by Abu Sulayman al-Nasir to the Arabic jihadi forum, Shmukh, around 10:30am EST (thread 118187). Shmukh is the main forum for Arabic-speaking jihadis who support al-Qaeda. Since the thread is now inaccessible (either locked or taken down), I am posting it here. I don’t have time at the moment to translate the whole thing but I translated the most important bits on twitter.

The Shmukh web site is not accessible to just anyone, so he is the primary source for this claim. McCants stated from the beginning that the claim had been removed or hidden, and on Twitter he even cast doubt on whether it was a claim of responsibility at all. more

Following Cairo meeting Egypt promises to ease restrictions at Rafah crossing within 'a few days'

CAIRO, (PIC)-- Secretary general of the popular resistance committees Zakaria Dughmush met in Cairo on Friday night with Egyptian intelligence officials for a discussion on easing traffic restrictions on the Rafah border crossing and inter-Palestinian reconciliation.

Dughmush affirmed that the Palestinian people were interested in having normal, brotherly relations with Egypt and were keen on Egypt’s security and stability.

He said that the Palestinian people were still hoping for more easing of restrictions on the Rafah border terminal between Egypt and the Gaza Strip especially for the sick people, students, and merchants.

Dughmush renewed call on the Egyptian leadership to exert its good offices with both Fatah and Hamas to push forward the reconciliation agreement.

He also urged PA chief and Fatah leader Mahmuod Abbas not to insist on Salam Fayyad as premier and allow the Palestinian factions to agree on another man.

The Egyptian intelligence officials promised that conditions at Rafah terminal would see more facilities in a few days.

They also underlined that Israel was the only party benefitting from the internal Palestinian division. PIC

Medical aid from UK, Egypt and New Zealand to arrive in Gaza soon to alleviate shortages

EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma'an) -- Four tons of medical equipment donated by a British charity arrived Thursday in Egypt's Alexandria port en route to the Gaza Strip, head of the Egyptian Red Crescent Jaber Al-Arabi said.

Al-Arabi said the UK-based Palestinian Center for Justice sent five truckloads of aid, including 35 hydraulic beds and electrocardiogram equipment, to be delivered by the Red Crescent via the Rafah crossing.

The shipment will arrive in Gaza on Saturday, he added.

Meanwhile the Islamic Relief Committee in New Zealand sent 100 tons of meat to Gaza and Egyptian companies sent four tons of aid for pregnant women and children, Al-Arabi said, adding that the goods would arrive Friday.

Al-Arabi said the union of Egyptian doctors also donated around 25 tons of medicine and medical equipment which would be delivered to the coastal enclave in the coming days. Maan

Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in Occupied Palestinian Territory (14– 20 July 2011)

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)

· A Palestinian worker was killed when Israeli warplanes bombarded a tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip.

· 9 Palestinians, including 6 civilians, were wounded by IOF in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

· Israeli warplanes attacked a number of civilian facilities in the Gaza Strip.
- 3 training sites and a number of tunnels were destroyed.

· IOF continued to use force against peaceful protests in the West Bank.
- A Palestinian civilian was wounded.
- Dozens of demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation.

· Israeli gunboats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats in the Gaza Strip.

· IOF conducted 32 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and two limited ones into the Gaza Strip.
- IOF arrested 13 Palestinian civilians, including a child.
- Golden jewels were stolen from a house in Tallouza village near Nablus.

· Israel has continued to impose a total siege on the OPT and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.
- IOF arrested one Palestinian civilian at military checkpoints in the West Bank.

· IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.
- IOF confiscated more irrigation networks in al-Baq’a area near Hebron.
- 3,000 olive trees were burnt in Bourin village, south of Nablus.
- Israeli settlers attacked 3 Palestinian shepherds and injured two of them.


Support striking Palestinian quarry workers demanding their rights from Israeli employer

On 16 June, 35 Palestinian workers at Salit Quarries in Mishor Adumim (in area C, east of Jerusalem, in the Occupied West Bank) began a strike. The workers, organized with the independent union WAC-Ma'an, are demanding an end to exploitation and humiliation, and insist on signing a first collective agreement. Salit Quarries’ main customer is Readymix Industries (Israel).

The total reliance of Salit Quarry on Readymix as their biggest and by far the most important customer puts responsibility on Readymix to make sure that their clients abides by labour laws and safeguards elementary rights for the workers of Salit. We call upon Readymix to urge the Salit management to terminate this unnecessary strike by signing the collective agreement with the workers and WAC-Ma’an.

Click this protest link to send your message. The text of the message is as follows:
I write to you to express my grave concern about the failure of Salit management to sign a collective agreement with the workers of Salit Quarry and WAC Ma'an, the union that represents them. I have been informed that workers at Salit began organizing in 2007 due to intolerable working conditions. I understand that the company recognized WAC-Ma’an and began negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement and that on April 10, 2011 a tentative agreement was finally reached. However the management of Salit Quarry retreated and postponed the date which had been set for the signing several times, attempting to create divisions among the workers. Faced with no apparent alternative, the workers and the union announced a legal strike until the agreement was signed. We call upon you to make sure that the management of Salit takes a responsible position and signs the agreement so as to allow the workers to go back to work in a work place that respects their rights and health and safety in accordance to the commitment of Readymix Industries (Israel) to high standards of safety, social rights and fair treatment of its employees.
Click this protest link to send your message.