Sunday, 19 February 2012

Jerusalem Post - Israeli army's southern command wants immediate offensive against Gaza

Senior officer in the Southern Command says "ongoing attacks – by rockets and along the border – are cumulatively more than enough to justify immediate action”.

Calls are mounting within the IDF’s Southern Command to launch a large-scale offensive against Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip in the face of continued rocket attacks over the weekend.

On Saturday night, the Israel Air Force bombed a number of targets in the Strip in response to the firing of a number of Grad-model Katyusha rockets into Israel. One landed in Beersheba on Saturday. In another attack, an RPG was fired at an IDF patrol along the border with Gaza.

“There is no need to wait for a provocation to launch an offensive against terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip,” a senior officer in the Southern Command explained. “The ongoing attacks – by rockets and along the border – are cumulatively more than enough to justify immediate action.” more

Interview: US academics back boycott - Robin Kelley on Palestine and the BDS movement

From Mondoweiss

If there’s one thing the Palestine solidarity movement and Israel lobbyists can agree on, it’s this: American college campuses remain a potent battleground when it comes to the politics of Israel/Palestine.

One group, the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI), certainly recognizes this. And one way to advocate for Palestine on campus is to get professors on board the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Five professors recently back in the U.S. after a USACBI delegation to Palestine have taken that leap, releasing a statement (published on the Electronic Intifada in full) that describes what they saw in Palestine and that calls on their academic colleagues to join the BDS movement. Mondoweiss caught up with one of the professors on the delegation, UCLA’s Dr. Robin D.G. Kelley, and discussed BDS, the delegation, Kelley’s new project, black Zionism and much more. Kelley is the author of eight books including Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression, Race Rebels: Culture Politics and the Black Working Class, Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination and 2009's Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original.

Alex Kane: To begin with, talk about yourself, what you do and what your research focuses on.

Robin Kelley: I am a professor of American history at UCLA, and for the last 25 years really, my work has focused on social movements, the African diaspora, radical change, and--it’s sort of a side issue--but I’ve also written about music. My last book was about [the jazz musician] Thelonious Monk. But my academic work, you know, links up to the political work largely because I got into this business as a historian/scholar, through activism and through recognizing, or experiencing or watching social injustice both locally and globally. I’m a product of the 1980s, and the main critical issues were both domestic, in terms of police brutality, Reagan policies on poverty, rising racism in the United States and global issues--the anti-apartheid movement was formative in my own political awakening, the struggles in Central America, the struggles in post-colonial Africa and the Congo, and Palestine, which brings us full circle. The point I’m trying to make is, the issue of Palestinian self-determination is not a new one. It always sort of rebirths (laughs), but it’s not a new one. And so for people of my generation, the Israel-South Africa nexus, dispossession of Palestinians--even back in the days when people talked seriously about the two-state solution, whatever that is--these were the key questions for anyone politically active in the 1980s.

It’s not an accident that Jesse Jackson, for example, whose presidential campaign in the 80s was really formative as well, that his right-hand man, Jack O’Dell, had led a delegation in the 1970s to meet with PLO members and to go to the West Bank and to meet with Palestinians there when the PLO was in exile. And so, there’s been a long tradition after 1967 of various black liberation movements trying to build a connection to Palestine. more

Clashes with Israeli police - Palestinians foil settler attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque

Dozens of Palestinian residents foiled, on Sunday morning, an attempt by dozens of fundamentalist Israeli settlers to break into the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem.

Local sources reported that the settlers gathered near the Al-Magharba Bridge, that leads to the Al-Magharba Gate, west of the Al-Aqsa mosque, while dozens of Israeli policemen were deployed in the area.

The police allowed the settlers through and prevented all Palestinians, aged 45 of under, from entering the area while on their way to pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque, an issue that led to clashes between the Palestinians, and the Israeli soldiers and settlers. Initial Israeli reports stated that three soldiers were mildly wounded.

The Al-Quds Media Center reported that some extremist settler groups, including extremist members of the “Trustees of the Temple”, called on their followers to break into the Al-Aqsa Mosque in order “to affirm the Jewish control and sovereignty on the mosque” a first step towards “rebuilding the temple”. more

Oxfam demands opening of crossings as fuel crisis threatens health, water, sewage systems

"What we are witnessing now with the fuel crisis in Gaza proves that the tunnels are not a sustainable solution to the blockade. The government of Israel's near ban on fuel for private sale has only worsened this crisis and made everyday people less able to cope. If we want to solve the electricity crisis once and for all we need a full and consistent opening of all of Gaza's crossings in accordance with international law," said Catherine Essoyan, Regional Director of Oxfam....

...The Ministry of Health in Gaza warned on 15 February that the health situation was reaching catastrophic proportions in hospitals, where fuel to run generators was running out. Reportedly 72% of emergency fuel stocks for all of Gaza's hospitals had already run out. More than 400 kidney dialysis patients were mentioned as the most at risk right now, given that their treatment requires machines that need to run on electricity for long hours.

The water and sanitation front is also facing widespread disasters, with high risk of sewage flooding in the streets and interrupted water supplies.

Oxfam partner Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) estimates that with only 80,000 lires of fuel remaining in its stock, it can only power its 180 generators for the next seven days. CMWU's facilities include 190 water wells, 40 main sewage pumping stations, 15 districts pump stations, four wastewater treatment plants, eight desalination units, and 10 water lifting stations.

CMWU warned on 15 February that the power cuts can result in more than a 50% drop in water supply to households with the possibility of creating a public health risk. Water from desalination units is facing a 60% drop while wastewater pumping stations face sewage overflows. In Gaza City, CMWU says that the one main station pumping up to 40% of all the city's wastewater is at risk of total collapse due to the power and fuel shortage.

The water and sanitation cluster in Gaza is also warning of the high risk of flooding and destruction of sewage lagoons which have already claimed lives of dozens of Palestinians drowning in them. The latest victim was 10-year-old Ahmed Al Zein who drowned in a sewage basin in Beit Lahia on 11 February. The Bedouin Village next to this basin was flooded in March 2007, killing five Palestinians and injuring another 20, damaging houses and public facilities. And last December, two siblings aged 5 and 2 drowned in a sewage basin near Khan Younis refugee camp. more

Israeli warplanes fire on Gaza Strip early Sunday, 3 injured as missile hits home

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Israeli warplanes fired at the northern Gaza Strip overnight Saturday, leaving four people injured.

The raids hit a blacksmith workshop in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City late Saturday, causing extensive damage and wounding one man.

Early Sunday, a home in the city's Tuffah neighborhood was hit by a missile, injuring three people. The victims were taken to Shifa hospital in the city for treatment.

Eyewitnesses say Israeli fighter jets continued to hover over the Gaza Strip after the raid. more