Saturday, 3 March 2012

Homes destroyed, lives shattered: criminal demolitions in Palestine


By Graham Peebles (Palestine Chronicle)

Within the catalogue of criminality that is Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the destruction of Palestinian homes must rank as one of the most cynical and heinous.

"Some 90,000 people are currently reported to be at risk of displacement as a result of Israeli policies such as restrictive and discriminatory planning, the revocation of residency rights, the expansion of settlements and the construction of the West Bank Separation Wall." (Internal-displacement.org)

Let us note and explore further, with the tacit engagement of America, who bank-roles the entire operation.

Home, a refuge from the world, safe and secure, somewhere to relax with family and friends, and breath easy, free from fear. This simple image of normality is unknown to many Palestinians living under the brutal illegal occupation by Israel.

“The Israeli practice of demolishing homes, basic infrastructure and sources of livelihoods continues to devastate Palestinian families and communities in East Jerusalem and the 60 per cent of the West Bank controlled by Israel, known as Area C. Many of the people affected already live in poverty, and demolitions are a leading cause of their on-going displacement and dispossession in the West Bank.” (Unrwa.org)

Last year (2011) saw more homes demolished than in the previous six years, and record numbers of people made homeless and displaced, “by November 2011 Israeli authorities had demolished 467 Palestinian homes and other buildings in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), displacing 869 people.” (HRW.org) The UN puts the figure even higher, at 1000. (HRWHD) Alongside the illegal destruction of Palestinian homes, the settlement expansion has accelerated and with it, according to Human Rights Watch “an escalation of violence perpetrated by settlers.”

The total number or recorded house demolitions since the occupation began in 1967, is estimated to be “24,813.” (Ifamericansknew.org) With Palestinians perversely being forced to either demolish their own home or face a charge for the IDF to do it, some homeowners undertake the task themselves, “it [the family] is liable for the costs of the house demolition which can run up to tens of thousands of dollars. more

Diwan Ghazza & the Gaza Book Club


By Yasmeen El Khoudary - posted on her blog Gaza out of the Blue

It's quite surprising to see that people are quite surprised to hear that there's a book club in Gaza, but I guess that's exactly why we started Diwan Ghazza. Let me tell you our story.

A group of my friends and I are fed up with the way the world regards Gaza (with the usual media coverage on the negative side of life here) and disregards the other face: the historic, the beautiful, the educated, and the inspirational. We decided that Gaza is a city no less capable than other cities, and the fact that we have gone through so much should add to our credit. Gaza breeds thinkers, and the only thing it teaches them is that they should do the thinking themselves. There are no cultural centers, theatres, cinemas or –updated- public libraries in Gaza, but that wasn’t going to stop us.

So we decided to put our thoughts, time and energy into creating a group that we would be proud of belonging to. Its quite funny actually, that whenever people ask us what "Diwan Ghazza" is, our answer, "we're a group of friends interested in knowledge and in improving Gaza's image in the world", they don't get it. How can we not be a registered society or an NGO?! Why are we not asking for funding?! How can you not have an office!?

But Diwan Ghazza is much simpler than that. We're not willing to be subject to boring NGO or donor regulations. Why should we seek to become "officially registered" and ask for donations when we can do great work without any money?

Our first activity was the first Gaza Tweet-Up in July 2011, which gathered about 30 tweeps from Gaza, many of them meeting for the first time. We discussed everything from our role and responsibility as Gaza Tweeps to future activities by Diwan. Later, we organized an online tweet up with Frode Mauring, Special Representative of the Administrator in the occupied Palestinian territories . We also organized several meetings between youth activisits in Gaza and UNDP and other diplomats, including a diplomatic and cultural mission from Sweden. more

Hundreds join Gaza protest over refugee relief agency aid cuts


Gaza, (Alresalah.ps)--Hundreds of protesters against the performance of the refugee relief agency appealed to put pressure on the UN to undo the aid cuts to the refugees; the needy in particular.

During a sit-in they voiced "it's not our fault we suffer out of a decline in the support pledged by the donor to UNRWA”.

Mazen Abu Zaid, speaker for Refugees Public Committee in Gaza considered that “the refugees are bearing the brunt of the UN cuts and thus going to face grinding poverty”.

He added that “the aid cuts give a political dimension to the question of refugees in that the Palestinian people with their leadership are being intrigued to have their state bid for UN recognition thwarted".

Secretary of the Refugees Committee in Khan Younis Adnan Assar called on the UNRWA’s donor countries to commit to the Palestinian entitlements for aids.

At the end of the sit-in, some aged refugees, mayors, and leaders of the Palestinian colors sent a complaining letter to the UNRWA Commissioner-General in Gaza Filippo Grandi to undo the recent cuts and to level up the provisions for the Palestinians. more

Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the OPT (23–29 Feb)

(Dozens of Israeli policemen attempt to break into the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem while Palestinian worshippers were inside - Friday, 24 February 2011)

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

IOF have continued to use force against peaceful protests in the West Bank.
A Palestinian civilian was killed in a peaceful demonstration in al-Ram village, north of Jerusalem, protesting IOF attempts to raid the al-Aqsa Mosque.
5 protesters, including an Israeli Knesset Member and a member of the Palestinian National Council, were wounded in 2 peaceful demonstrations in the center of Hebron.

IOF have continued bombardments and shootings in the Gaza Strip.
A Palestinian resistance activist was wounded in the east of Gaza City.
A tunnel and a container were destroyed in Rafah and damages were caused to 3 houses and offices of the International Federation of Football in the north of the Gaza Strip.
IOF fired at Palestinian fishermen and their fishing boats.

IOF conducted 58 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank
IOF raided the offices of Watan and al-Quds local TV channels and confiscated broadcasting devices and other possessions.
IOF arrested 40 Palestinians, including 2 children.

Israel has continued efforts to create a Jewish majority in East Jerusalem.
The Israeli Municipality in Jerusalem registered the lands in the Qalandia airport in its name in "Israel Lands Department".
The closure of Silwan Charity and Silwan Islamic club was extended for a year.

IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.
IOF bulldozed a water well, a water tank, an agricultural room and 22 dunums, and uprooted 960 fruit trees in Hebron.
IOF confiscated 21 dunums of agricultural lands in Salfit.
Israeli settlers carried out 2 attacks in Hebron.
Israeli settlers organized provocative tours in Hebron under IOF protection.
Israeli settlers raided Palestinian villages and wrote racist slogans against Arabs, and offending the Prophet Mohammed.

IOF have continued to attack Palestinian fishermen at sea.
IOF opened fire at Palestinian fishermen off the shore of Deir al-Balah and confiscated fishing nets.

Israel has continued to impose a total closure on the OPT and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.
IOF arrested 9 Palestinians, including 3 children, at checkpoints in the West Bank.
IOF maltreated a school student in Hebron. more

Hamas blames power crisis on Egypt, says Gaza might get fuel for free from Algeria or Iran

[update - 3 March 2012] The Egyptian generals can't manage to get any fuel to Gaza but they can resume pumping of natural gas to the Palestinians' oppressor, Israel.
Gaza’s top political leader blamed Egypt on Friday for causing a power crisis that has triggered lengthy blackouts in the Palestinian enclave, laying bare tensions between his Islamist group Hamas and Cairo.

The outages started in mid-February, leaving households with just six hours of electricity a day, provoking widespread criticism within the territory of Hamas, which governs Gaza.

Looking to deflect the anger, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh told supporters that Egypt controlled the flow of fuel into Gaza and suggested the authorities in Cairo should have done more to help following the downfall of former president Hosni Mubarak.

“Is it reasonable that Gaza remains without electricity a year after the revolution in Egypt?” Haniyeh said in a weekly address, accusing Cairo of trying to force Gazans to accept their energy supplies via arch foe Israel.

“Is it reasonable that Gaza remains blockaded a year after the dismissal of the tyrant (Mubarak) regime?” he said.

There was no immediate comment from Egypt. more