Thursday, 3 May 2012

UN envoy urges Israel to preserve health of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike

3 May 2012 – A senior United Nations official said today he was deeply troubled by reports about the critical condition of at least two Palestinians being held by Israel, who have been on hunger strike for over two months, and urged the Government to preserve the health of the prisoners.

The Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, urged all sides to “find a solution before it is too late,” according to a statement issued by his office in Jerusalem.

More than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners began an open-ended hunger strike two weeks ago on 17 April – Palestinian Prisoners Day – to protest against unjust arrest procedures, arbitrary detention and bad prison conditions, according to a news release issued by the UN human rights office (OHCHR).

The UN continues to follow with concern the many issues related to the question of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and detention centres, the statement noted.

“The Special Coordinator is deeply troubled in particular, by reports about the critical condition of at least two Palestinian prisoners being held in administrative detention by the Israeli authorities, who have been on hunger strike for more than two months,” it said.

Mr. Serry called on Israel to abide by its legal obligations under international law and “do everything in its power to preserve the health of the prisoners.” more

Methodists call for boycott of products made by Israeli companies operating in occupied Palestine

Occupied Palestine, 3 May 2012 – The General Conference of the United Methodist Church decided yesterday to call for an explicit boycott of all Israeli companies “operating in the occupied Palestinian territories,” knowing that this constitutes the absolute majority of Israeli corporations. This and the overwhelming support for the “Kairos Palestine” document and its call “for an end to military occupation and human rights violations through nonviolent actions,” which include boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), will pave the way forward for further action by the Church to hold Israel accountable for its colonial and apartheid regime.

Although the General Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC) fell short of voting for divestment from three U.S. corporations that are actively complicit in Israel’s protracted occupation and serious violations of international law, the inspiring awareness raising and advocacy campaign waged by human rights activists within the Church and in many communities outside it has succeeded in elevating Israel divestment and the struggle for Palestinian rights to mainstream prominence. Notwithstanding this decision, four annual (regional) conferences within the UMC have already adopted Israel divestment resolutions. more

Prisoner at risk of imminent death has appeal postponed by Israeli court

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Israel's Supreme Court has postponed issuing a decision on appeals by hunger-striking prisoners to be released, a lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoners Society said Thursday.

Jawad Boulos said that the court would rule on the appeals at a future date and gave clear instructions to prison authorities to provide medical care to Bilal Diab, 27, from Jenin, and Thaer Halahla, 33, from Hebron, who have refused food since Feb. 29.

Diab reportedly collapsed in court, Boulos said, and was examined by Israeli MK Ahmad Tibi, who is a physician.

The prosecution claim that both prisoners represent a threat to the security of Israel, Boulos said.

An Israeli doctor who visited them on Monday warned Diab was at risk of immediate death, the prisoner rights group Addameer said. more

Video: Alice Walker narrates new documentary on Jahalin Bedouin, Roger Waters soundtrack

Nowhere Left to Go: The Jahalin Bedouin, a new short documentary, can now be watched in its entirety on YouTube. In the film, Jahalin Bedouin community members explain how the Israeli government plans to forcibly displace them yet again — the community was originally displaced to the periphery of Jerusalem from their historic lands in the Naqab (Negev) desert during the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

The film, a project of the Jahalin Association, is narrated by celebrated author and human rights activist Alice Walker. The Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters contributes a performance of “We Shall Overcome” to the soundtrack, with instrumental music by The Dubliners and South Sinai Bedouin musicians. more

Israel’s decision to close Samouni case makes mockery of rights and international law

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) unreservedly condemns the Israeli Military Attorney General’s decision to close the case of the Samouni family without initiating any prosecutions.

The Samouni case involved numerous well-documented allegations of war crimes, including the willful killing of 27 civilians, the direct targeting of civilians and civilian objects resulting in the injury of 35 civilians, and the denial of medical care for the wounded. This incident, which took place over a number of days, was one of the most horrific single events in Israel’s 27 December 2008 – 18 January 2009 offensive on the Gaza Strip.

PCHR has filed criminal and civil complaints on behalf of 62 victims in relation to the Samouni incident, and has provided significant evidence to the Israeli authorities regarding the incident, often without response.

The Israeli military’s claim that allegations of war crimes committed in relation to the Samouni case are ‘groundless’ simply defies belief.

PCHR believes that this incident emphatically underlines the flaws inherent in Israel’s investigative system, which have been documented in detail elsewhere, and endorsed by the UN Committee of Experts. Simply put, this system comprehensively fails to meet international standards.

Given the flaws inherent in this system – which three and a half years later has failed to result in a single effective war crimes indictment – PCHR believes that Israel’s legal system is used as a smokescreen to provide an illusion of investigative rigour, while in fact providing systemic cover for widespread violations of international law. more