Sunday, 30 September 2012

Qatar opens diplomatic office in Gaza in boost for Hamas

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — In a boost to Gaza’s Hamas government, the Gulf state of Qatar said on Sunday it opened the first diplomatic office in the isolated territory since the Islamic military group took power five years ago.

Qatari officials said the office is not a formal embassy. Instead, it will oversee hundreds of millions of dollars in aid projects Qatar is funding.

Nonetheless, it is headed by an ambassador and marks a key stamp of legitimacy for Hamas, whose takeover of Gaza in 2007 has never been internationally recognized.

Hamas’ rival, President Mahmoud Abbas, who lives in the West Bank, is seen internationally as the Palestinian leader. more

Gaza protests against tunnel closures by Egypt

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Dozens of Palestinians gathered near Gaza's border with Egypt on Sunday morning to protest against their neighbor shutting down a tunnel network under the border.

Hamas leaders, local officials and residents held Egyptian and Palestinian flags, urging Egypt to protect the entry of goods into Gaza.

The Gaza Strip is under an Israeli land and sea blockade, and its sole border crossing not controlled by Israel, Egypt's Rafah terminal, is not equipped for the passage of goods.

To circumvent the blockade, a vast underground tunnel network into Egypt was established, with the oversight of the Hamas-run government.

After years of turning a blind eye, Egypt started closing the tunnels after the Aug. 5 attack in Sinai when gunmen killed 16 Egyptian soldiers. Egypt suspects the tunnels were used by some of the militants, while Hamas says no-one from Gaza was involved in the attack. more

Palestine’s Mahmoud Sarsak ‘rejects’ FC Barcelona invite to match with Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit

Palestinian prisoner Mahmoud al-Sarsak in Gaza City on 10 July 2012 (Wissam Nassar / ZUMA Press/Newscom)

Palestinian national footballer and hunger striker Mahmoud Sarsak has, according to several reports, rejected an invitation by the FC Barcelona football club to watch its El Clásico game against Real Madrid on 7 October, along with Israeli occupation soldier and ex-prisoner of war Gilad Shalit.

In a 27 September statement, FC Barcelona invited Sarsak, along with two Palestinian Authority officials, in a bid to placate the growing anger over the invitation to Shalit, which has been condemned by dozens of Palestinian football clubs and sporting associations, and by Palestine solidarity activists in Spain.

In response to the move, Sarsak told EI blogger Shahd Abusalama that he rejected the offer. After speaking to Sarsak this morning, Abusalama tweeted that Sarsak “told me his definite denial of going [to FC Barcelona’s] match if Shalit is there calling this normalization.” more

'Miles Of Smiles 16' convoy enters Gaza with medical supplies

The “Miles Of Smiles 16” Solidarity Convoy arrived in the Gaza Strip on Saturday carrying 38 solidarity activists and medical supplies urgently needed in the besieged coastal region.

Dr. Isam Yousef, coordinator of the Miles of Smiles convoy stated all convoy members from Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Lebanon and South Africa, managed to enter Gaza through the Rafah Border Terminal between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

Yousef added that medical supplies and medications, worth a million US Dollars, will be handed to hospitals and medical centers; all supplies and medications have been purchased from Egypt.

Convoy members will be staying in Gaza for several days in order to distribute the medical supplies.

Ahmad Al-Kurd, former Minister of Labor and Social Affairs in Gaza, stated that the repeated solidarity convoys are a clear indication that the Arab people and the international activists insist on challenging the illegal Israeli siege imposed on the coastal region.

Al-Kurd added that Miles Of Smiles is a main contributor in aiding the Palestinians in Gaza, “and managed to draw a smile on the faces of thousands of residents suffering under constant Israeli attacks, and Israel’s illegal siege”. more

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Gaza tunnel-traders say network at 10 percent capacity

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Just 10 percent of the tunnels under Gaza's border with Sinai are still in operation, after Egypt moved to close the underground network in recent weeks, tunnel owners said Friday.

The tunnel trade, which operates with oversight from the Hamas government in Gaza, is now placed under strict regulations, they told Ma'an.

Both Egyptian and Palestinian authorities are insisting on clear identification of people using the tunnels for passage, as well as regulating the quality of goods passing through, one owner, who gave his name as Mahmoud, told Ma'an.

The operation of the tunnels depends on the security situation in Gaza and Egypt's Sinai, he added.

When security conditions permit, fuel and construction materials are allowed to freely pass into Gaza, Mahmoud said.

Last week, Gaza's ministry of national economy said monthly imports of basic foodstuffs had fallen 31 percent and construction materials had declined by 45 percent since the tunnel closures. more

Fisherman killed by Israeli fire west of Beit Lahia, two injured during Israeli border incursion

Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported, Friday, that a Palestinian fisherman was killed by Israeli navy fire west of Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. The fisherman’s brother was wounded in the attack.

Dr. Ashfar Al-Qdura, spokesperson of the Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip told the Maan News Agency that Fahmi Salah Abu Rayyash, 22, was shot and seriously injured by Israeli fire on Friday morning, and died of his wounds at a local hospital on Friday evening.

Al-Qudra added that Fahmi was shot by one round of live ammunition in his abdomen and another round in his right foot.

Yousef, the brother of Fahmi, suffered mild injuries and received the needed medical treatment.

The attack is part of ongoing violations carried out by the Israeli army and navy against Palestinian fishermen in the coastal region; these attacks led to dozens of casualties, while dozens of fishermen were also kidnapped by the army. Also in another incident Palestinian Medical sources reported Friday that Israeli soldiers, stationed across the border, opened fire at several Palestinians hunting birds with slingshots in a land located north of Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. more

Friday, 28 September 2012

Settlers pump waste water on land west of Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM, (PIC)-- A group of Jewish settlers pumped, on Thursday morning, wastewater from a settlement in the west of Bethlehem in southern West Bank, onto Palestinian agricultural land.

Ahmed Sukkar, head of the village council in Fukin village, told "Quds Press" that settlers pumped wastewater on lands in the village, damaging an area of ​​50 dunums.

He pointed out that this is not the first time the settlers pump industrial waste or wastewater through pipes installed in the region, which led to damaging the lands and the crops. more

Implement UN recommendations on Gaza, says Arab Group at UN

The UAE, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, called on all parties concerned to immediately implement the recommendations contained in the United Nations Secretary-General’s report on the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza conflict. Obaid Salem Al Zaabi, Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations and other international organisations in Geneva, told the UN Human Rights Council, that Israel persisted with the occupation and the violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention.

“The Palestinian people could not accept perpetual occupation and it was high time the international community implemented the provisions of the international law. Negotiations were indispensable to achieve this goal,” he said in his address at the Council’s general debate on the situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab Territories.

The Human Rights Council heard a presentation of the report of the United Nations Secretary-General on the progress made in the implementation of the recommendations of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict and then started its general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories. more

Gaza official: Egypt pledged to ease Rafah travel in days

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egypt has informed Palestinian officials that it will introduce measures to ease travel through the Gaza Strip's Rafah crossing in the coming days, a crossings official said Thursday.

Gaza crossing director Maher Abu Sabha said they understand the crossing will be opened on Fridays, the weekend day it is usually shut. Everyday working hours, currently from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., will also be increased, Abu Sabha said.

The number of passengers permitted to travel each day will be raised to 1,500, he added.

Next week, work will start to expand the terminal's reception hall to a capacity of 700 people, the official said. more

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Letter from international activist under house arrest in Israel asking for support and solidarity

Dear Friends of Palestine,

I am writing to you from an apartment in Tel Aviv where I am under house arrest for standing in solidarity with Palestinians fighting a twelve-year road closure in their West Bank town of Kufr Qeddoum.

This weekend, I spent forty eight hours in Israeli prisons. I was denied access to medicine, kept for long periods in leg and wrist shackles and prevented from calling a lawyer or my embassy; but this is light treatment compared to the punishment meted out to Palestinians who resist the illegal occupation of their land.

I need your help today to address the unfair detention and illegal treatment of Palestinian prisoners in administrative detention in the state of Israel. Please call your senator and representative today and tell them to demand the immediate release of Majd Farooq Abdelateef Obeid (23) and Abdelateef Farooq Abdelateef Obeid (25), who are being held in military custody.

Both Majd and Abdelateef were arrested alongside my fellow peace activists and me. Our charges are the same; the “evidence” against us is the same. The difference is that we were brought to a civilian court in roughly twenty four hours; they are still awaiting their hearing in a military court on Thursday.

We were released within sixteen hours of our court hearing and are under house arrest until Sunday, at which time, we will be free to go. Majd and Abdelateef however, will likely spend the next twelve to twenty months in administrative detention in Israel.

The judge in our case found the charges brought against us by the military to be doubtful… will Majd and Abdelateef receive the same verdict? We must demand their immediate release now!


On Friday, September 21st, three British peace activists and I, along with Majd and Abdelateef, were taken into custody by Israeli occupation forces while we attended a demonstration in the village of Kufr Qeddoum, west of Nablus. Soldiers entered the village from the north and east, fired tear gas bombs at protesters and broke windows in a school.

The soldiers kicked, beat and choked two of my fellow peace activists before forcing them into an army transport vehicle. As I passively resisted the soldiers’ attempts to arrest me and ziptie my wrists, they bruised my arms, stepped on my feet, and threatened to pepper spray my eyes. The soldiers also threatened my colleague and I with the armored bulldozer that was moving on the road in the village.

Soldiers bound the wrists of Majd and Abdelateef in tight zipties and they were not allowed to talk to one another.

After our arrest, we were taken to a nearby settlement. While the internationals were searched, soldiers took Majd and Abdelateef separately into an armored military transport vehicle for what they called “medical examinations.” Soldiers then blindfolded the men and we were transported to a police station where we spent the next eight hours.

During that time, both Palestinians remained bound and unable to talk to each other or us. The soldiers made them sit in the sun. When we demanded that they be moved, the soldiers moved them to the shade briefly and then moved them around the corner so we could not see them.

Majd and Abdelateef were forced to wear blindfolds for many hours until sunset. We repeatedly told the soldiers that sensory deprivation was a form of torture and was therefore illegal under international law. When one of my colleagues informed a soldier that even having knowledge of torture of prisoners and not doing anything about it was illegal, the soldier replied, “Fine, then. I’m a torturer.”

The racist attitude of the soldiers toward Palestinians was clear when one turned to my colleague and, motioning to the men said, “Don’t you have enough of these in your country?”

Again the bigotry and malevolence was plain when the soldiers took Majd and Abdelateef away from the police station. We demanded to know where they were being taken and said that we did wanted to go along with them. One soldier turned to us and said, “Shut the f— up! I will f— you up! You want to go to prison?! They will rape you there!”

This type of attitude, as well as the abusive treatment of Palestinian prisoners by Israeli authorities must end! We urge you now to call you senators, representatives, and politicians all over the world to demand an end to release Majd and Abdelateef immediately.


Majd and Abdelateef are currently awaiting a hearing in a military court on Thursday. They are not alone.

There are currently thirty two people from the village of Kufr Qeddoum who are being held, either with or without charge by the Israeli military. In the last year, over one hundred people have been arrested from the village for taking part in demonstrations. More than ten people have been taken by soldiers in the last three weeks.

The people of Kufr Qeddoum village have been holding demonstrations every Friday for the last year. They are protesting the twelve-year closure of the most direct route from their village to the nearby city of Nablus. The closure turns what would be a one and a half kilometer journey into a fifteen kilometer journey.

Though the road is closed to Palestinians, it is open to Israelis, particularly residents of the three illegal settlements to the east of Kufr Qeddoum, one of which, Qedumim, expropriates even the name of the Palestinians’ land.

Pressure from the Israeli occupation forces on the villagers to end the weekly protest has been building in recent weeks. In the last two weeks, soldiers have invaded the village prior to the protest, creating havoc among residents. Two weeks ago, soldiers prevented people from going to the mosque for Friday prayers. The army has also come into the village during the night with jeeps and tear gas to arrest people for taking part in earlier protests.


Right now, my colleagues and I are safe in Tel Aviv. We were arrested on the false charges of being in a closed military zone and throwing stones at soldiers. The soldiers made no announcements about the closed military zone (CMZ) before arresting us, and refused to show us any documentation of the declaration of a CMZ at the time of our arrest.

And I’m sure this goes without saying: we weren’t throwing stones.

The soldiers handed us over to the police who charged us, separated men from women, took us to separate jails and held us overnight and throughout Saturday. When we appeared in court on Saturday night, the state announced that they wanted to hold us in detention for seven days with the intention of discovering our identities and then handing us over to immigration authorities for deportation. They accused us of being in the Occupied Territories “specifically to disturb the peace” and said that we had kept the soldiers from “doing their jobs.”

Though our friends from Anarchists Against the Wall arranged for us to have an English-speaking lawyer and a translator, the hearing was completely in Hebrew. After the judge rendered her decision, we were not allowed to talk with our lawyer and were not given a copy of the ruling.

After the ruling, we were confused about our status. Though our lawyer successfully argued for us to remain under house arrest in Tel Aviv for seven days instead of going to prison, we were not immediately released because the judge gave the police twelve hours to determine the status of our visas. When, at three o’clock in the morning on Sunday, we were moved to a federal prison and told we’d be taken to another court at 6.30am, we feared the Israelis were about to begin deportation proceedings against us.

So far, that has not happened, though it remains a possibility. On Sunday, we were taken to a police station where our visas were verified and we were identified, photographed and fingerprinted. We signed for a bail of two thousand skekels each and were released into the custody of a friend with Israeli citizenship. Unless we are deported, we will be released on Sunday at four o’clock in the afternoon.

We are being hosted and given much support and comfort by members and friends of the Israeli organization Anarchists Against the Wall ( ). We are very grateful for their help and generosity.

Please help me show thanks to International Solidarity Movement and to Anarchists Against the Wall for their continued assistance during this ordeal. Our legal fees for battling the false allegations against us are roughly four hundred dollars per person. ISM has put up the funds to cover this debt, but anything that you can do to defray this cost or to show your love for Anarchists Against the Wall is much appreciated. Donations can be made at (Please state wether money is for ISM or Anarchists Against the Wall)

Thank you very much for your concern and support during this time. My fellow peace activists and I are united in the belief that our inconvenience is a small sacrifice compared to the risk and injustice our Palestinian comrades face daily as they resist the Israeli occupation. If our experience can be used to shed light on the struggle against apartheid, then that experience is no burden.

In solidarity and peace

Lauren Siebert

FC Barcelona fans protest club's invite to Israeli soldier Shalit

GAZA, (PIC)-- Regional director of the council for the European Palestinian relations Rami Abdo said he started to try to dissuade FC Barcelona football club from inviting the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to attend one of their matches.

Abdo stated on his facebook page that the council is making efforts to convince the club management to cancel its invitation because such step goes against the values of justice and the spirit of sport and damages the reputation of the club in the Arab world.

He noted that soldier Shalit was captured from an Israeli tank that bombed populated areas in Gaza, questioning why the club, instead, does not advocate the cause of thousands of Palestinians being held in Israeli jails. more

Abbas tells United Nations will seek Palestine upgrade

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday that he plans to seek upgraded membership of Palestine at the UN, in his address to the world body's General Assembly.

He said "intensive consultations" were underway with UN members to secure a vote on Palestine being granted the status of 'observer state' before the end of the assembly's current session, "in order to enhance the chances for peace."

"Despite all the complexities of the prevailing reality and all the frustrations that abound, we say before the international community there is still a chance - maybe the last - to save the two-state solution and to salvage peace," Abbas told the delegates. more

al-Qassam Brigades fighter Nimir Sa’id Al-Madhoun dies from injuries suffered during training

The Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, reported that one of its fighters died, on Wednesday evening, due to injuries he suffered during training two days ago. Another fighter died at an Egyptian Hospital.

The Brigades said that Nimir Sa’id Al-Madhoun, 29, was seriously injured during what it called “a Jihadist mission” several days ago. Al-Madhoun is from the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza City.

In related news, the Brigades said that another fighter, identified as Eyad Jom’a Barhoum, 39, died at an Egyptian hospital while receiving treatment for a heart condition. more

Rafah crossing to open Friday in both directions

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza Strip will reopen Friday, a local official said Wednesday.

"The Egyptian side has informed us that the crossing would be open Friday in both directions," general director of the crossings in the Hamas' interior ministry Mahir Abu Sabha told Ma'an.

He added that only limited numbers of passengers will be leaving as priority will be given to students, holders of foreign passports, residents of other countries and patients.

The Gaza Strip is under an Israeli land and sea blockade, and Rafah, its sole border crossing not controlled by Israel, is the only one which opens regularly for passengers. more

Israeli court rejects Gaza students' petition to study in West Bank

The High Court of Justice ruled on Monday against four female university students from the Gaza Strip who have been seeking to study at Birzeit University in the West Bank.

The court rejected a petition filed on the women's behalf by the Gaza-based Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights and the Israeli group Gisha, which advocates in favor of Palestinian freedom of movement, particularly from the Gaza Strip. A panel of high court judges accepted the state's argument that it has no obligation to accord Gaza residents the right to study in the West Bank.

Israel has barred Gaza residents from studying in the West Bank since 2000, and in the 12 years since has only allowed three Gaza residents to study at universities in the West Bank. more

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Gaza youth imprisoned at 17 is released 22 years later

GAZA, (PIC)-- Occupation authorities released on Tuesday evening, a prisoner from Gaza after serving his sentence of 22 years.

Palestinian sources said that the prisoner Suhail Saeed al-jadily, 39, from Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, was released on Tuesday evening after serving twenty two years in Israeli jails.

The occupation forces have arrested al-Jadily on September 26, 1990, when he was at the age of 17, on charge of participating in killing the Israeli soldier "Amnon", who had entered Bureij camp and had been killed there by some youths during the first Intifada.

A military court sentenced Suhail to 22 years imprisonment, which he has spent moving between several sections and cells in the Israeli occupation jails.

Dozens of relatives and friends of the liberated captive were waiting for him at the Beit Hanoun crossing "Erez" in the northern Gaza Strip. more

Israeli forces detain two Palestinians attacked by settler mob

NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Wednesday detained two Palestinians who were attacked by a mob of settlers south of Nablus, locals said.

Iyad Rashdan and Muhammad Allan were picking olives in fields of Einabus village when a group of settlers attacked them.

Israeli forces arrived and detained the two Palestinians, locals told Ma'an.

An Israeli military spokeswoman was not familiar with the incident.

Earlier dozens of settlers from Migron outpost assaulted a farmer north of Jerusalem, leaving him with multiple injuries, local officials said. more

Official: Man killed, 2 injured in Rafah tunnel collapse

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A man was killed and two others injured when a smuggling tunnel under the Gaza-Egypt border collapsed on Wednesday, medical officials said.

Suleiman Ramadan al-Masri, 20, died and two men were moderately wounded when the Rafah tunnel collapsed, spokesman of Gaza health ministry Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma'an.

Both injured men were transferred to hospital.

Last Saturday, Muhammad Ramadan Abu Armaneh, 33, died when a Rafah tunnel collapsed on him. In early September, Talib Udwan, 24, was killed in a similar incident.

Medics say over 160 Palestinians have died in the network of underground tunnels since Israel imposed a siege on the Gaza Strip in 2006. more

Boy’s death from fire during power outage ignites anti-government protest in Gaza

GAZA (Reuters) – At least 500 protesters in the Gaza Strip have called for the overthrow of the ruling Islamist Hamas group in a rare demonstration triggered by the death of a three-year-old boy in a fire during a power outage.

Protesters in the Bureij refugee camp, where the boy’s family live, called for Hamas to be toppled and chanted “The people want to down the regime” late on Tuesday night, echoing slogans adopted in Arab revolutions in neighbouring countries. The police swiftly dispersed the crowd.

Demonstrators took to the streets as the boy’s body was being moved to a hospital, saying they were protesting against the incompetent way Hamas ruled Gaza. Anger spilled over after the boy died and his infant sister suffered critical burns when a candle lit amid a power outage burnt their house down.

Anti-Hamas protests in Gaza, where power failures have left households with just six hours of electricity a day since February, are extremely rare. Three children were killed earlier in the year by similar fires during an outage.

Hamas blames the electricity shortages on Egypt which it says is restricting the flow of fuel, and on Israel, which imposed a blockade on the coastal enclave in 2007 when Hamas seized control from the Western-backed Palestinian Fatah party. more

Video: Well done Eltahawy - activist arrested in New York for defacing anti-Muslim poster

Mona Eltahawy, the prominent Egyptian-American writer and activist, has been arrested in New York, after spraying paint over a controversial poster on the subway that has been condemned for equating Muslims with "savages".

The posters which have been put up in the city by the anti-Muslim American Freedom Defense Initiative, led by Pam Geller, were approved by a US court, which ruled that they were "political" statements and protected by the first amendment, which guarantees free speech.

The poster states: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man." Between two Stars of David, it adds: "Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."

Eltahawy was arrested after a supporter of Geller's initiative attempted to prevent her defacing the sign with a purple aerosol.

The posters are now displayed in 10 New York stations – including Grand Central and Times Square – after a court ruled that the local transport authority could not refuse the ads.

In a video posted online of the incident by the New York Post, Mona Eltahawy can be seen attempting to paint over the poster before she is tackled by a woman with a camera identified as Pamela Hall.

"Mona, do you think you have the right to do this?" Eltahway is asked. "I do actually," Eltahawy replies.

"I think this is freedom of expression, just as [the ad] is freedom of expression." As the scuffle continues two police officers appear to then arrest Eltahawy, who says: "This is what happens in America when you non-violently protest." more

Israel to build new settler-only road near Qalqilia - steals more land

The so-called Israeli Civil Administration Office, run under the Israeli Military in the occupied West Bank, is planning to pave a new road to be used by Jewish settlers, in the northern West Bank district of Qalqilia.

The new planned road will be built on expense of privately-owned Palestinian lands that belong to villagers of Izbit At-Tabeeb, Nabi Elias and Azzoun.

Izbit At-Tabeeb is located in Area C of the occupied West Bank falling under Israeli military and administrative control, and Israel refuses to recognize it while the residents are facing constant threats of been removed from their own homes and lands.

Residents of the village told the Arabs48 News Website that Israeli officials arrived at the village and starting placing markers on the villagers’ lands, and when asked about what they were doing, the officials said that a previously planned settler road will be built soon, and will lead to the confiscation of lands that belong to the villagers of Izbit At-Tabeeb and a number of nearby villages.

The residents objected to what was happening and forced the Civil Administration team to leave, and the team said they will be back “under protection of the military”. more

Qatar pledges millions in aid for Gaza rebuilding

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Qatar is planning to provide half a billion dollars in assistance to the Gaza Strip over the coming three years to rebuild infrastructure destroyed in Israeli attacks.

In a visit to the enclave Tuesday, Qatari ambassador Muhammad al-Imadi said the Gulf country's emir created a special committee to distribute some $450 million for infrastructure, development and education projects.

The committee has already started consultations with Palestinian officials, he said.

Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of the Hamas-led government in Gaza, thanked Qatar for its position on the 2008-2009 Cast Lead operation and against the blockade.

He also applauded Qatar's efforts to reconstruct buildings destroyed in the assault. "Qatar has always been the first country in supporting the Palestinian cause," he said. more

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Quaker socially responsible investment fund divests $390,000 from Hewlett-Packard, Veolia

The Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation (FFC), which handles investments for more than 250 Quaker meetings, schools, organizations, trusts, and endowments around the US, announced that it has divested from Hewlett-Packard and Veolia Environment because of the companies’ involvements with Israel’s ongoing occupation and human rights violations. FFC, which holds more than $200 million in assets, is a not-for-profit socially responsible investment fund for the Religious Society of Friends.

The announcement comes just months after the FFC pulled $900,000 from its investment shares in Caterpillar Inc. over its continued profiting from Israel’s demolitions of Palestinian homes, property and land.

In a press release, the Palestine Israel Action Group (PIAG) — a subcommittee of the Peace and Social Concerns Committee of Ann Arbor Friends Meeting, which advocated for this divestment move and was a main advocate of the Caterpillar divestment initiative — said that Hewlett-Packard was removed from FFC’s investments based on the company’s contracts with the Israeli Navy. Veolia Environment, which the press release says is the “world’s largest water privitization company,” was removed from the FFC investment portfolio “because of environmental and social concerns.” more

Family blames sewage, trash for deaths of 8 children in Gaza camp

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A family in Gaza that lost eight children over two years says the lack of sanitation around their home in al-Bureij refugee camp is responsible for their deaths.

The Salim family lives meters from a landfill in the central Gaza camp, and their home is surrounded by open sewage and trash.

Omar Salim, 30, told Ma'an that his son Mohammad pleaded not to be taken to the hospital when he fell ill with a fever and had blue spots on his skin.

"Please dad, don’t take me to the hospital, I don’t want to die like my cousins and my brothers," Mohammad said, according to his father.

Omar took his son to the hospital, where he died minutes after his appointment. more

Israel has demolished 465 buildings and displaced 676 Palestinians in 2012

A UN report has noted that since the beginning of 2012 the Israeli occupation forces have demolished 465 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank, displacing 676 Palestinians in the process. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Jerusalem stated that the average rate of Palestinians displaced is now 18 per week.

"Israeli forces delivered a renewed military order extending the requisition of 647 dunums of land [around 160 acres] belonging to the villages of 'Awarta and Burin (Nablus)," the report adds. The land is near an Israeli military training area. In addition, the army has stopped work on 16 buildings in Khirbet Yarza village as it is in a "closed military zone" near Jenin. Since 1967, the Israeli Army has declared around 18 per cent of the occupied West Bank to be "closed military zones for training" or "firing zones".

OCHA said that 2,168 Palestinians have been injured as a result of attacks by the so-called Israel Defence Forces during demonstrations against the brutality of the occupation, house demolitions and night time searches across the West Bank. more

UNHRC: 'Israel fails to prosecute soldiers, settlers, who attack Palestinians'

A report prepared and published by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) accused the state of Israel of failing to prosecute Israeli soldiers and settlers who commit crimes against the Palestinian people in the occupied territories, the Arabs48 News Website reported.

The report said that there is a serious increase in attacks carried out by settlers and soldiers against the unarmed Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank, including in occupied East Jerusalem.

The report was submitted to the Human Rights Council during its Monday session in Geneva, and states that “Israel has failed to conduct the needed legal measures against Israeli soldiers and settlers who practice violence against the Palestinians and their property”.

The report also revealed that an Israeli soldier, who was questioned by Israel for killing a Palestinian mother and her daughter, never faced charges until this moment, and said that three Israeli young settlers were placed under house arrest for five days for attacking a Palestinian family with firebombs leading to serious injuries.

The Human Rights Council said that “such attacks are frequent, and escalating in many cases, and target Palestinian civilians and their property”. more

Gaza families visit relatives in Israeli jails

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A group of Palestinians left the Gaza Strip on Monday to visit family members detained in Israel, a Gaza spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

Ayman al-Shehabi told Ma’an that 50 family members visited 37 prisoners in Israel's Nafha jail.

In July, families in the Gaza Strip visited relatives detained in Israeli jails for the first time since 2007.

In 2007, Israel started limiting what it considered privileges for prisoners from Gaza in a bid to put pressure on Hamas to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was held in Gaza until last fall. more

Israel imposes West Bank, Gaza closure for Jewish holiday

The Israeli army on Monday said it would seal off the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip for 48 hours from midnight for the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.

All crossings from Israel to "the Judea and Samaria region" (the West Bank) and the Gaza Strip will be shut from Monday at 11:59 pm (2159 GMT) until Wednesday at the same time, said a military statement, on the orders of the head of the army Lieutenant General Benny Gantz.

Palestinians would not be allowed to enter Israel during this period, apart from those requiring medical treatment or for humanitarian reasons, the statement said.

Israel systematically closes its borders with the Palestinian territories during its main holidays for security reasons. more

Monday, 24 September 2012

Palestinian prisoners Safadi, al-Barq end months of hunger strike

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Two Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jail have halted their long-term hunger strikes expecting upcoming release, officials from the Palestinian prisoners society and Israeli prison officials said Sunday.

Society lawyer Jawad Bulus said he visited Samir al-Barq and Hasan Safadi, and they are both beginning to take food. Israeli Prison Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman confirmed the two prisoners had ended their strike.

Samir al-Barq has spent 125 days on hunger strike. He remains in Israeli civilian hospital Assaf Harofeh and will soon be transferred to Ramle prison clinic, Bulus said.

Al-Barq ended his strike after learning Egypt and Israel had agreed he would be transferred from jail into exile in Egypt, Bulus said.

PA prisoners minister Issa Qaraqe said al-Barq would be freed within hours on Thursday, but Israeli prison spokeswoman Sivan Weizman denied his release was imminent. more

Gaza self-sufficient in agricultural produce but siege since 2006 stops exports

(MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad)

As the Gaza Strip has self-sufficiency in vegetables and fruits, the Palestinian Agriculture Ministry announced on Sunday that it stopped all agricultural imports except bananas and apples.

This decision, the ministry said, came after the domestic produce became able to fulfil consumers' needs in the local markets with reasonable prices. Bananas and apples imports were not stopped as their produce is still limited and cannot meet the markets' needs.

Gaza produces about 70,000 tons of fruits annually; twenty five thousand of citrus, seven thousand of grapes, 20 thousand of olives, ten thousand of guava and five thousand of dates. It also produces more than 300,000 tons vegetable every year.

The marketing and crossings director in the ministry Tahseen al-Saqqa said that his ministry stopped vegetables imports completely ten years ago, but it sometime allowed melons and onions during times of scarcity which is about two months a year.

Al-Saqqa said that the Gaza Strip is able to export many kinds of agricultural produce such as tomatoes, cucumber, strawberry and flowers, but this is always faced by Israeli obstacles. "Nothing has been exported from the Strip's vegetables since 2006. By the help of some international NGOs and under the pressure of the EU, farmers could export few amounts of strawberry and flowers last year," Al-Saqqa said. more

50-year-old Gaza woman shot in the leg by Israeli gunfire at Bureij refugee camp

GAZA, September 24, 2012 (WAFA) – A 50-year-old Palestinian woman Monday was shot in the leg by Israeli gunfire as the soldiers were pulling out of Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, according to witnesses.

Israeli military vehicles had earlier crossed the borders in Gaza into the eastern part of al-Maghazi and Bureij refugee camps. more

'Palestinian Embassy' living art performance flies over the city of Liverpool

Palestinian Mission in the United Kingdom said in a Press release that as part of the Liverpool 2012 Biennial exhibition, a living Art performance consisting of a hot-air balloon fashioned in the colours of the Palestinian flag with "Palestinian Embassy" written across flew over the city of Liverpool. The event on the 14th and 15th of September included the inauguration of a Palestinian Embassy and balloon trips over the city. Departing from the city centre, politicians and academics joined together aboard the balloon for discussions on topics concerning the Palestinian people's diplomatic and democratic conditions.

The Art performance was brought to Liverpool from Oslo by the producers, Public Art Norway (KORO) in cooperation with Fritt Ord (Freedom of Expression), UNISON and the Palestinian Embassy. The Norwegian group won the bid for international applied art at the Biennial City States competition in which they sought to combine a prominent political issue on the future of a Palestinian state with theatre and movement. The city of Liverpool was chosen to host the activity as a hub for minorities has shown overwhelming support for the Palestinian cause. more

Hamas official: Mashaal will step down as party chief

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas' leader in exile, Khaled Mashaal, is not seeking re-election, a Hamas official said Sunday.

Senior Hamas official Salah Bardawil told Ma'an that Mashaal will remain in the Islamist movement but has decided not to run for re-election as party chief.

"When Mashaal said he was not seeking re-election, a message was sent to him from the movement’s leaders unanimously asking him to change his mind," Bardawil said.

Serious discussions are ongoing within Hamas about a successor to Mashaal, Ma'an learned from sources close to the movement.

The only potential candidates would be current prime minister Ismail Haniyeh or deputy head of Hamas politburo Mousa Abu Marzouq, based in Cairo. The sources said that Abu Marzouq is likely to be the preferred choice. more

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Israel, Palestinian Authority discuss developing gas off Gaza coast

(Reuters) - The U.S.-backed Palestinian administration is negotiating with Israel for permission to develop natural gas off the coast of the Gaza Strip, Israeli and foreign diplomats said on Sunday.

Mediterranean gas could be a windfall for the Palestinian Authority (PA), which operates under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and has alarmed the World Bank by sinking into fiscal crises amid shortfalls in international aid.

As envisaged in the exploratory gas talks initiated by peace envoy Tony Blair, the PA would alone levy tariffs on any eventual revenues from private pumping in Gazan waters, though breakaway Hamas Islamists govern the coastal enclave.

Israel, which keeps Gaza under a close maritime blockade, said it had held "initial negotiations" with the PA, and at its behest, about the Palestinian gas.

"Development of the Gaza Marine gas field will generate revenues that could contribute dramatically to Palestinian fiscal sustainability," the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a report, published on Sunday, to world powers coordinating economic aid for the Palestinians.

PA officials could not immediately be reached for comment. more

Egypt jihadi group says behind deadly Israeli border attack - not Gazans

ISMAILIA, Egypt (Reuters) -- An Islamist militant group based in Egypt's Sinai has claimed responsibility for a cross-border attack that killed an Israeli soldier in the restive peninsula where jihadi groups have gained a foothold.

Three gunmen were also killed in Friday's attack, which the group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdes said was in response to an anti-Islam film that has sparked worldwide protests and violence. A second Israeli soldier was wounded in the attack.

There have been at least four such cross-border raids in just over a year in the area where security lapsed after the uprising that overthrew Hosni Mubarak last year. more

Israel plans 'multi-dimensional' war against Gaza, Lebanon and Iran before US election

As in the case of past governments, this one believes that the motto 'victory goes to the bold' applies only to military courage and initiative. Diplomatic daring is not seen as being relevant in this region.

By Ze'ev Maoz

The public debate about an attack on Iran ignores how regional changes that have transpired in recent years affect the thinking of Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu and Barak are well informed about the issues that dominate public discussion: the risks faced by Israel as a result of Iran's development of nuclear weapons, the extent to which a military attack would damage Iranian capability, and, of course, the price Israel would pay as a result of military responses from Iran and Hezbollah.

As far as Netanyahu and Barak are concerned, Iranian nuclear capability poses an immediate, existential threat to Israel. However, the question of whether, how and when to launch an attack depends on an array of broader calculations. Such considerations are weighed in accord with this pair's perceptions of the dangers Israel will face in the medium and long term. As Barak and Netanyahu see it, the dangers have become more serious as a result of regional changes: the Moslem Brotherhood triumph in Egypt, the chance that an Islamic regime will take root in Syria following the removal of Bashar Assad, the chance that Jordan's regime will follow the path of Tunisia's, Libya's and Egypt's, and the influence of regime changes in the Arab world upon Hamas in the territories. These dangers are compounded by the weakening of Israel's deterrence power following its failures in the Second Lebanon War, and its failure to bring about the ousting of Hamas' regime in the Gaza Strip via Operation Cast Lead.

Netanyahu and Barak thus face a problem that goes beyond finding a way to prevent Iran from passing the nuclear threshold. They are troubled by the need to revive Israel's deterrent capability in view of the new regional challenges and dangers. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that Netanyahu and Barak will not decide to attack Iran unless they feel that such a strike would deliver a lethal blow to Iran's nuclear program, or at least require Tehran to spend a long period of years repairing the damage.

Does Israel have the wherewithal to deliver such a lethal, or near-lethal, blow? That's the billion-dollar question. But it would be hazardous to assume that the attack threats made by Netanyahu and Barak are empty bluster whose purpose is to pressure the international community into toughening anti-Iranian sanctions. Empty threats erode deterrence capability more than the absence of threats, and Netanyahu and Barak are well aware of this. Their willingness to publicly confront domestic and overseas opponents of a military strike bears witness to the seriousness of their intentions.

Moreover, it's possible that the attack model which the two are promoting is more ambitious and sweeping than the descriptions that appear in the media. It's reasonable to assume that thaey are thinking of a broader military action in which a strike on Iranian nuclear installations would only represent the pull of the trigger in a wide-ranging showdown. Such an attack model would be comprised of a number of components: first, a broad military action to destroy Iran's nuclear installations that would include, perhaps, ground forces, and also an assault aimed at destroying, or at least causing heavy damage to, Iran's missile batteries. On its own, an air strike would not meet these objectives. Netanyahu and Barak have personal military backgrounds that include ground actions on enemy territory; and they are skeptical with regard to the ability of an air attack to achieve, on its own, Israel's goals. Also, any response taken by Hezbollah, even a very limited response, would precipitate a sweeping military action in Lebanon aimed at bringing an end, once and for all, to Hezbollah's military capability, and perhaps also its political clout in Lebanon. In this context as well, Israel would likely launch a mixed ground-sea-air war. In addition, Israel might also launch a military assault on Hamas in Gaza, one whose goals would be comparable to the move in Lebanon.

This is a very ambition plan fraught with high risks. Should it fail in full, or even in part, Israel would pay an excruciatingly steep political, economic and human price. But, as Netanyahu and Barak see it, the war's success would significantly strengthen Israel's deterrence capability, and also curb the desire of potential rivals to sabotage peace agreements or initiate a war in the future.

In order to maximize effect, the multi-dimensional war would have to be launched before the new government consolidates in Egypt, prior to the end of the civil war in Syria and before the elections in the United States; the presidential campaign imposes pressures on the two candidates who are wrestling for the Jewish vote.

There is, of course, another possible way of breaking out of an increasingly constricting strategic dilemma: by initiating peace talks with the Palestinians, while also promoting a path to a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction. But such an option is not in the repertoire of the current government. As in the case of past governments, this one believes that the motto "victory goes to the bold" applies only to military courage and initiative. Diplomatic daring is not seen as being relevant in this region.

The writer teaches political science at the University of California, Davis, and is a distinguished fellow at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya. MoreHaaretz now has a paywall so subscription apples.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Challenging the blockade of Gaza: message from a Canadian on board the Estelle

It is a great honour to be able to accompany the Swedish sailing ship Estelle for a few days, from Barcelona to Ajaccio (Corsica), on its way towards Gaza to challenge the illegal and inhuman blockade which has lasted now for more than five years.

The Estelle in a 90 year-old three-masted schooner purchased from a Finnish fair-trade organization by Ship to Gaza Sweden in April and renovated for this sea voyage. She began a Swedish coastal tour in June, with solidarity and information events in communities to raise awareness about the blockade in Gaza.

From Sweden she traveled to ports in Norway, France, Spain and will stop in Corsica and two Italian ports before continuing towards Gaza. The educational value from the hundreds of people who visited the ship in different harbours has made thousands of connections with the Estelle and her mission of solidarity. The beauty of a tall ship coupled with the pace of sail power (which the skipper and crew prefer to motors wherever possible) has brought this voyage towards Gaza into the hearts of communities as never before.

The Estelle is unique in that she has been both a commercially licensed cargo vessel and a sail training ship for some years. There are no passengers on a training vessel: everyone who is not part of the crew is a “trainee” and we all do a watch (two shifts of four hours each day), where each person contributes according to their ability.

While I am at the beginning of my learning curve when it comes to knots, rigging, steering or charting a course, I can mop a floor and wash dishes as well as the next trainee (which on our watch includes a Swedish MP who is Chair of his party’s parliamentary caucus). There are also several professional mariners who are donating their time: the ship and all aboard are in good hands.

The Estelle carries a varied cargo: from school supplies donated by school-kids to cement to aid the reconstruction of Gaza. But as always the most precious cargo on these trips is human solidarity: the Palestinians of Gaza need that much more than they need material aid. more

Israeli Military attempts to crush weekly Kufr Qaddum demonstration, 6 arrested

Soldiers chasing a group of international human rights defenders shortly before arresting 4, still being held in police custody. (Photo courtesy of The Kufr Qaddum demonstration)

Four human rights defenders (3 British citizens and an American), as well as two Palestinians, were arrested at the weekly Kufr Qaddoum demonstration. They are currently detained in the illegal Kedumim settlement police station for interrogation. The two Palestinians, Majed Faruq, 20, and Abd al-Latif Faruq, 24 were arrested from inside their homes as the army stormed the village.

Soldiers chasing a group of international human rights defenders shortly before arresting 4, still being held in police custody. (Photo courtesy of The Kufr Qaddum demonstration).

The villagers of Kufr Qaddoum demonstrate weekly against the closure of the road from their village to Nablus since 2002. The Palestinians are not allowed to travel the most direct route to Nablus, 13 km away, due to the positioning of nearby illegal Israeli settlement Kedumim. The commute to Nablus from Kufr Qaddoum is now doubled.

Although the weekly Kufr Qaddoum demonstrations have been going on for over a year, the Israeli military has recently upped efforts to stop the demonstration from occurring. In the past two weeks, the soldiers have entered the village before the midday prayer and the beginning of the march towards the closed road, surrounding the mosque and firing tear gas into the crowd. Three people, including an Israeli press activist, were injured as tear gas canisters were shot directly at them, hitting them in the arms. In addition to tear gas and sound bombs, after the arrests the Israeli military entered into the village with a skunk water truck. The checkpoints around the village were closed by the Israeli military until 5 p.m. more

Reports: Egypt wants to 'modify' peace treaty with Israel

Israeli media sources reported that the new Egyptian government, headed by elected Islamist leader, Mohammad Morsi, intends to hold deliberations on modifying the Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement, especially regarding security attainments in Sinai, the Palestine News Network (PNN) reported.

Egypt is mainly concerned about Article 4 of the Camp David peace agreement that focuses on security arrangement along the border, and limits the deployment of Egyptian armed forces in the area.

A senior Egyptian official close to President Morsi stated that Egypt is facing a fierce battle with armed elements in Sinai, and has the right to defend itself using all available means, and that the country needed to intensify its military deployment in the Sinai area.

The source added that the coming period will witness several meetings and deliberations between different Egyptian political factions in order to discuss modifying the peace agreement. more

Friday, 21 September 2012

Egypt hesitant to ease Gaza siege - says fears Israel will permanently seal Kerem Shalom

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Egypt has not made a final decision on ending the blockade of Gaza or conceding to requests by the Hamas government to create a free-trade zone in Gaza, officials say.

A source in Hamas said Friday that Egypt is concerned that if it opens the Rafah crossing, Israel will have a pretext for permanently sealing the Kerem Shalom terminal with Gaza.

Egypt is also trying to resolve a number of crises in the Sinai, and this is distracting attention from the Gaza situation, the source explained.

The Hamas government's economy minister Hisham Qandil told Ma'an that Gaza-based premier Ismail Haniyeh delivered proposals on a Rafah trade zone during his visit to Cairo.

Egyptian officials agreed to study the proposals for bringing gas and petroleum into the territory as well as the long-discussed possibility of opening a free trade zone at Rafah.

Ismail al-Hayya, a Hamas leader, told Ma'an that the Islamic movement was committed to resolving Gaza's access issues.

”The establishment of a free trade area will help us to get rid of the dependency on the occupation and its taxes,” he said, referring to Israeli customs duties. more

Video: 'We’re counting on you' - students in Gaza call on world peers to intensify BDS

We, Palestinian students and youth, have created this boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) video call for students around the world, believing in the power of youth to make a change. We specifically want to support and encourage students to attend the UK Student Palestine Conference 2012 on 23 September at the University of Manchester.

We want people around the world to move beyond just feeling solidarity with Palestine and to actually stand up for justice.

Don’t sit behind your TV screen and watch us getting killed, injured and detained in numbers, and feel sorry. Nothing will get better and Israel will, with impunity, escalate its inhumane practices and violations of Palestinians; human rights. When you watch our people dying while waiting for permits to cross the Israeli apartheid check points and react with feeling depressed, the situation will not change. Silence contributes to making our situation worse.

Silence tortures our hunger strikers inside Israeli jails and makes them go through a process of slow death. Silence contributes to the rising number of ill Palestinian prisoners who die at the Israeli apartheid checkpoints. Silence motivates Israel to terrorize us, massacre our people with their “world’s most moral army.” It allows Israel to attack our fishermen and shoot at our farmers while they work for a living in their lands located close to the “buffer-zone” —the ever-expanding area that separates Gaza from Israel. Farmers are banned from working on 35% of our total agricultural land, severely weakening the potential for economic and agricultural development in the Gaza Strip. more

Gaza ministry: Tunnel closures hurt imports

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Basic goods are becoming more scarce in the Gaza Strip after Egypt moved to close dozens of tunnels under their border, Gaza's ministry of national economy said Friday.

Monthly imports of basic foodstuffs, including flour, rice, sugar, and wheat, have fallen 31 percent since the tunnel closures, the ministry said in a statement.

Construction materials brought through the tunnels have declined by 45 percent, it added.

By contrast, import of goods through Israel's Kerem Shalom crossing had increased by 22 percent, the ministry said, while noting that the terminal's 300 trucks-per-day entry limit was not sufficient for Gaza's needs. more

Two die in shelling as Israel claims it will allow some exports from Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- An Israeli official said Thursday that military authorities have approved the entry of 100 million shekels from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip to assist with a liquidity crisis, amid a host of measures to facilitate the entry and exit of goods at Gaza crossings.

The Gaza Strip is under an Israeli land and sea blockade, and its sole border crossing not controlled by Israel, Egypt's Rafah terminal, is not equipped for the passage of goods.

Khatib Mansour, director of the Israeli army's Coordination and Liaison Administration for Gaza, said regular meetings with Palestinian representatives in Gaza had enabled Israel to approve several new measures.

He said the improvements will continue as long as border violence with Gaza militants remains under control. Israeli military forces shelled Gaza on Friday, killing two men it accused of involvement in attacks against Israel.

But Mansour said Israeli authorities had carefully studied the situation in Gaza, and on Sunday would allow the currency injection into the coastal strip. more

Thursday, 20 September 2012

“They shot my father in the head”: interview with survivor of Sabra and Shatila massacre

On Sunday, the 30th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre was commemorated by people of different nationalities around the world. In Lebanon the commemoration was only observed by Palestinians living in refugee camps; Lebanese people were not concerned.

The massacre carried out by the Phalange, a Christian Maronite militia acting in full cooperation with Israel, was among the most atrocious episodes of recent history. But it is still absent from our collective Lebanese memory.

The Sabra and Shatila massacre is another taboo in Lebanon that needs to be addressed publicly and soberly; maybe admitting the wrongdoing could prevent us from further subjugating the Palestinian refugees who are residing here temporarily until they return to their occupied homeland.

The perpetrators of the massacre are still alive and could be found inside and outside Lebanon; so too are some of the witnesses who survived the massacre, and lost their loved ones. They are still awaiting justice.

On 16 September 1982, Jameela Khalifeh was a teenage girl. The three long days of slaughter still haunts her memories.

This week, Khalifeh welcomed us with a smile to her dim apartment on the busy Sabra strip. Outside, there was bustling life: people stopping and shopping at vegetable stalls and bootleg DVD stores.

“I was 16 and had just got engaged,” Kahlifeh said. “I was living at my parents’ home with three sisters and my brother.” more

Freedom Theatre’s Zakaria Zubeidi on 'death fast' in Palestinian Authority detention

Zakaria Zubeidi leaned against the wooden railing in the courtroom for extra support, listening intently to the Palestinian Authority judge’s ruling: Zubeidi would be detained for a further 19 days.

“This court has made an unfair decision against me,” Zubeidi said in an extremely weak voice to a Jericho courtroom full of friends, colleagues and supporters from approximately ten different countries on Monday.

Zubeidi is currently refusing to consume food and water in protest of his detention without charge or trial.

“I’ve been in prison for a long time without evidence. I started a food strike a week ago, and this morning I had a meeting with the doctor in the prison. He told me I have three days to live if I don’t take water. So the court has decided to kill me,” he said.

Zubeidi, formerly the head of the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade in Jenin during the second intifada, co-founded the Freedom Theatre in Jenin refugee camp in 2006 along with Juliano Mer-Khamis, who was gunned down on 4 April 2011 by an unknown assailant.

Zubeidi had been one of the child actors who was active in the forerunner to the Freedom Theatre. The Stone Theatre, as that project was called, was started by Mer-Khamis and his mother, a Jewish-Israeli anti-occupation activist named Arna. In fact, the theater was built on the top floor of Zubeidi’s home, and Zubeidi’s mother (who was killed during the second intifada, just hours before his brother was also killed) worked closely with Arna. more

Ailing detainee Samer Al-Barq to be moved to Egypt

Palestinian Minster of Detainee, Issa Qaraqe’, reported Thursday that arrangements are being conducted to transfer ailing hunger striking detainee, Samer Al-Barq, to Egypt after a sharp decline in his health condition at the Al-Ramla Israeli Prison Clinic.

Al-Barq is from the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia; he started his hunger strike 122 days ago demanding his release as he is being held by Israel without charges.

Qaraqe’ said that Al-Barq asked to be moved to Egypt to receive the needed treatment especially since Israel is refusing to release him to receive treatment at a Palestinian hospital.

Israel will be moving him to the border with Egypt where an Egyptian Ambulance will be waiting for him; arrangements are underway through the Red Cross to allow his family to see him before he is exiled to Egypt.

In related news, Qaraqe’ said that an Israeli Military Court decided, Wednesday, not to renew the Administrative Detention order against detainee Hassan As-Safady, who started his hunger strike 92 days ago, demanding to be released. more

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Israeli air strike kills three Hamas officers in Gaza

(Reuters) - An Israeli air strike on a vehicle killed three Palestinian security officials in the Hamas-Islamist ruled Gaza Strip on Wednesday, Palestinian medics and Hamas said.

The Israeli military confirmed it had launched an air strike in Gaza but had no further comment.

Hamas and Palestinian hospital officials said a raid after darkness fell in the town of Rafah on Gaza's border with Egypt killed three officials responsible for overseeing tunnels used to import goods from Egypt.

In a statement, Hamas said "Israel has assassinated three of our officers as they were doing their duty in protecting the security of our people." more

Israel accepts final appeal in the case of hunger strike prisoner Al-Safadi

On Wednesday 19th September, the lawyer of the Palestinian Prisoners' Society, Jawwad Bolus, said that the judge of the Military Court of Appeals accepted appeal motion in the case of Hassan al-Sadadi, who launched his hunger strike in 21/6/2012.

The Court has decided that this appeal is the final one. As it ends on 29/10/2012, the military prosecution is not allowed to issue a new order to sentence him again for administrative detention.

Bolus said, "We hoped that the court would accept to release him immediately especially because he was an administrative detainee for 14 months without any charge or trial." more

Los Angeles activists put Veolia’s complicity with Israel’s human rights violations in the spotlight

Activists gather outside the transportation committee meeting last Wednesday. (Marvin A. Gluck)

Last week, activists with various Palestine solidarity and BDS groups under the umbrella of the Dump Veolia coalition came together in protest of the city of Los Angeles’ efforts to renew contracts worth $160 million with Veolia, a French multinational urban transportation and systems corporation, for the city’s transportation needs.

Because of its involvement in contracting with Israel to build a light rail system that will connect West Jerusalem with settlement colonies in East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the occupied West Bank, Veolia has been a longtime target of BDS campaigns, especially in Europe and Australia. The corporation has lost billions of dollars worth of contracts as a result of sustained pressure on local councils by boycott activists since 2008.

Dump Veolia — which includes groups such as BDS LA, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the Israel Divestment Campaign — stated in a press release (emailed to The Electronic Intifada) that more than 40 activists attended the LA Transportation Committee meeting on Wednesday, 12 September, during the first public hearing over the renewal of contracts with Veolia. more

Palestinian Prisoners Society demands release of wounded detainee

The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) demanded Israel to release Kamal Salah Al-Husseini who, on September 9, was taken prisoner by Israeli soldiers during clashes that took place in occupied East Jerusalem; he was shot and wounded by the army prior to his arrest.

The PPS said that Al-Hussein was shot by a live round in his right thigh, and that the bullet also fractured his pelvis.

It added that Al-Husseini is currently being held at an Israeli hospital, shackled and tied to his bed despite his bad health condition and the extensive presence of the Israeli army.

Medical sources said that the detainee will likely remain hospitalized for more than two months due to several health complications.

The PPS demanded Israel to ensure the release of the wounded detainee, and to send him back home in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, so that he can receive the urgently needed medical help at a local hospital. more