Sunday, 20 November 2011

Miles of Smiles convoy donates $60,000 to Jordan Field Hospital in Gaza

The latest Miles of Smiles convoy to Gaza has donated $60,000 to the field hospital established by Jordan in the aftermath of the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip in 2009. According to the coordinator of the convoy Miles of Smiles 7, participant NGOs donated the money to the hospital to purchase much-needed medical equipment. Dr. Essam Mustafa pointed out that Miles of Smiles 6 had donated an electrical generator to the hospital two months earlier valued at $40,000.

Speaking to the media, Dr. Mustafa hailed the efforts of the King of Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in supporting the Palestinian people. He pointed out that the aid convoys organised by the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization (JHCO) played an important role in easing the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank. more

Gisha report: how Israel keeps a vice-like grip on Gaza despite 'withdrawal'

Mondoweiss has an excellent breakdown of a report by the Israeli non-profit organisation (Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement) Gisha - from its Gaza Gateway project

Gisha's Gaza Gateway has published a position paper presenting a brief overview of how Israel continues to maintain control in Gaza. Here are some examples:

The tax system
Israel continues to control taxation in the Gaza Strip, which forms part of a single customs envelope along with Israel and the West Bank. This means that Israel sets the customs and Value Added Tax rates collected for goods and in so doing influences product prices as well as Palestinian fiscal policy. To illustrate: a merchant in Gaza who purchases clothes from an Israeli manufacturer pays VAT at a rate determined by Israel, and Israel is responsible for transferring this amount to the Palestinian Authority. If the merchandise is imported, Israel sets and collects the customs for it and is responsible for transferring the amount to the Palestinian Authority. The VAT and customs rates set by Israel then affect the price the consumer pays for clothes in Gaza.

Physical control of the Gaza Strip
Following “disengagement” in 2005, Israel continued to control the area adjacent to its border with the Gaza Strip on the Palestinian side. In 2008, Israel expanded this area, referred to as the “no-go” zone, and today it covers a distance ranging from 300 to 1,500 meters from the border1. The area which is restricted in practice includes both areas which have officially been declared off-limits and areas where one risks being shot at. It amounts to some 17% of the entire territory of the Gaza Strip and a third of its agricultural lands.

The land crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt
The 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access marked the end of Israel’s military presence at the Rafah Crossing on the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, yet allowed Israel to maintain substantial control over the terminal. This control was exercised via Israel’s continued control of the Palestinian population registry, which determines who may travel through Rafah, the ability to monitor individuals traveling through the crossing, and the power to decide when and if to close Rafah. The crossing operated routinely as per the Agreement on Movement and Access until June 2006.

Territorial waters
Israel has complete control over Gaza’s territorial waters and prevents movement of people and goods by sea. It also limits fishing to a distance of three nautical miles from Gaza’s coastline. In 2008, Israel made an exception and allowed six ships to reach Gaza, but has since prevented the arrival of any vessels. Israel has cited various legal sources as the basis for the ban on maritime travel off the Gaza coast: until 2005 it maintained the ban was imposed pursuant to the laws of occupation; beginning in 2005, it justified its control of Gaza’s territorial waters as “security restrictions on fishing areas off the Gaza Strip coast” , and, at times, as an exclusion zone or a combat zone. On January 3, 2009, in the midst of the large scale military operation “Cast Lead”, Israel declared a maritime blockade off Gaza’s coast, and though the operation ended that same month, the blockade has remained in force. In 2001, despite its commitment to allow the construction of a seaport in the Gaza Strip, Israel destroyed the site facilities belonging to the foreign company which was about to begin construction of a port and has since prevented construction by failing to provide donors with assurances that such port would not be destroyed. more