Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Israel reneges on prisoner agreements with Akram Rikhawi on 87th day of hunger strike

From Mondoweiss
The prisoner issue is emotional for Palestinians, many of whom have had a loved one behind bars at some point during decades of conflict. Palestinians generally view them as heroes, regardless of the reason for their imprisonment. -- Blake Sobczak, writing in the Lebanese newspaper, The Daily Star.
According to a report by various Palestinian and Israeli NGOs, the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) is not fulfilling several important commitments given two months ago in the agreement that ended a general Palestinian hunger strike.

Haggai Matar at +972 writes that the report states the Israelis have failed to implement the release of all prisoners who are “classified as administrative detainees” as agreed upon. Also, the prisoner service has not allowed family visits from Gaza, reinstituted higher education for prisoners, ceased violent searches or improved health care.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-IL) and Addameer, a Palestinian prisoner support group, have urged the international community to intervene on behalf of the prisoners and demand that independent physicians be given unrestricted access to all hunger strikers, that no hunger striker be shackled while hospitalized and that hunger strikers’ families be permitted visitation rights and given access to up-to-date medical information about their loved ones’ conditions.

Akram Rikhawi

Addameer and PHR-IL have also called for the immediate release of Akram Rikhawi who has been on a hunger strike for over 87 days. On July 4th, a doctor from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel visited Rikhawi along with his lawyer, Mona Neddaf, after a judge ordered the IPS to permit the visit. more

Church of England backs Palestine motion in spite of strong Israel lobby pressure

Today the Church of England General Synod — the church’s legislative body — overwhelmingly voted in favor of a Private Members Motion (PMM) on Palestine/Israel, in spite of pressure from pro-Israel organizations before and during the gathering.

In an embarrassing defeat for the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD) and the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC), both of whom had lobbied hard for Synod to reject the motion, members also rejected an amendment by the Bishop of Manchester which would have omitted support for the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).

A huge majority

During the afternoon debate, speaker after speaker backed the PMM, and praised the work of EAPPI. When it came to the vote, which was done according to ‘house’, bishops voted 21 to 3 in favour (with 14 abstentions), clergy 89 to 21 (44 abstentions), and laity 91 to 30 (35 abstentions). In total, the unaltered motion received 201 votes, while only 54 members voted against.

The short motion commits Synod to support: the work of EAPPI (including making “use of the experience of returning participants”), aid agencies working with Palestinians, “Israelis and Palestinians in all organisations working for justice and peace in the area” (citing Parents Circle – Family Forum specifically), and “organisations that work to ensure” the “continuing presence [of Christian Palestinians] in the Holy Land”. more

Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak freed by Israelis

Israel has released a member of the Palestinian national football team who lobbied for his freedom by going on hunger strike for more than three months.

Mahmoud Sarsak greeted well-wishers in his native Gaza on Tuesday after three years in Israeli custody without charges or trial.

Israel has accused Sarsak of being active in Islamic Jihad, a claim he has denied. more

Israeli jets strike south Gaza, no injuries

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Israeli fighter jets on Tuesday morning bombarded several sites in the southern Gaza Strip, without causing injuries.

Three missiles landed in a militant base of the Al-Ansar Brigades, the military wing of Al-Ahrar movement, in Khan Younis, witnesses said. The airstrike caused material damage, but no injuries were reported.

Another unidentified site was bombed in Rafah.

An Israeli military statement said the forces targeted "two Hamas terror activity sites," confirming direct hits.

It said the airstrikes were in response to gunfire from Gaza on Monday into an Israeli residential kibbutz, Yad Mordechai, near the border. more