Monday, 5 March 2012

Red flags over Gaza: Palestinian leftists rally for Hana Shalabi

Photo courtesy Joe Catron, 2012

Hundreds of Palestinians, mainly from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Palestinian People’s Party (PPP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), and other leftist factions, rallied for administrative detainee Hana Shalabi, now on her 19th day of an open hunger strike, outside Gaza’s International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) this morning, ahead of International Women’s Day Thursday.

Their presence bolstered the numbers of a protest tent already erected at the ICRC entrance, and maintaining a continuous presence there, to support Shalabi.

Among the crowd, different kinds of red flags mixed easily with the black and yellow ones of Shalabi’s Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine. more

Transfer of food from West Bank to Gaza first of its kind since start of siege in 2007


GAZA, March 5, 2012 (WAFA) - United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Monday helped transfer pallets of fortified date bars from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank through Israeli crossing ports, a WFP press release said.

This is the first batch of a total of 140 tons of locally-produced date bars (or 19 truckloads) that will be used in WFP's school feeding distributions in the West Bank, it added.

'This transfer from Gaza to the West Bank is the first of its kind since the inception of the blockade in 2007 and hopefully more will follow in order to support children learning and school assistance and concomitantly help boost the private sector and support a productive economy in Gaza', says Pablo Recalde, WFP Country Director in the occupied Palestinian territory.

WFP was previously purchasing all date bar requirements for school feeding in Egypt or in Turkey until a factory was identified in the Gaza Strip. The factory has the capacity to supply the needed quantities at a competitive price and meeting WFP quality standards.

These date bars are already used in the Gaza Strip school feeding program and will now be used in the West Bank as well, where WFP assists 75,000 school children in 292 schools in the most food insecure areas, notably in Israeli-controlled Area C, Seam Zone and Bedouin communities.

The humanitarian transfer of date bars from Gaza to the West Bank follows more than 6 months of negotiation between WFP and the Israeli authorities, with strong support of the office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) and of the international community. more

Occupy and pro-Palestine activists join forces at AIPAC to protest war and occupation


Granted, the settlements are three feet high and made of cardboard, part of a pop-up anti-war occupation outside the conference of Israel's top lobbying group, where President Obama is due to speak. As another war in the Middle East begins to look feasible, Occupy has begun to focus its energies on foreign policy.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a powerful tax exempt lobby that provides campaign finance in return for promotion of what it deems Israel's interests, pushed for a war in the Middle East in 2003. Activists with the Occupy movement, along with many others, are convinced that it now means to push for another. In the central Washington DC square leading to the conference, they have constructed mock- checkpoints and wear pink IDF uniforms with plastic guns, obliging the sharply-dressed AIPAC delegates to walk through.

“They’re disgusting,” whisper the delegates as they shuffle into line outside the conference centre. “They’re misinformed.” And what about war? “Well, we’ll just see what the president has to say,” says Talia, a student in the AIPAC line, smiling tactfully.

Many of the hundred peace protesters opposite have been campaigning for years before the Occupy movement sprang up last autumn to fight financial injustice. Now peace activists are using the “Occupy” brand to draw links between economic inequality in America and military spending abroad. “Money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation!” they chant, led by a girl in a headscarf whose voice cracks with emotion.

“Last year we galvanised the Palestine crowd but no one else seemed very interested,” says 24-year-old student Sasha Gelzin, one of the coordinators of Occupy AIPAC. “This year you've had the Arab uprisings and Occupy, you’ve had the thousands of activists making connections between domestic policy and foreign policy.” more

Homes in central Gaza flooded with sewage after Israel opens dam gates


Dozens of homes were flooded in central Gaza by untreated sewage water after Israel opened a dam located in the eastern side of the impoverished territory which leads to the Gaza Valley off the Mediterranean .

With Egypt's refusal to allow fuel into the blockaded coastal enclave, it was extremely difficult for rescue crews to tackle the problem.

Families in the flooded area have been struggling since the early hours of the morning trying to retrieve their belongings. Some area residents described the flooding of as another Israeli aggression demanding international protection.

In 2007 Israel placed the Territory under an unprecedented blockade on nearly all movement and supplies in and out of the Strip.

To add insult to injury Gazans have to deal with 18 hours of power outage because Gaza's sole power generating plant has stopped working again after Egypt blocked the flow of diesel fuel through underground tunnels.

According to the Gaza Environment Quality Authority Israel is systematically destroying Gaza's environment.

On Sunday morning, dozens of home were damaged and many people were displaced because of the flooding. more