Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Paralympic Games: For Gaza's athletes, just getting to the practice track is a challenge

While most Paralympics national teams are on a strict training schedule as the Olympics companion event approaches, focused entirely on improving their performance and winning a coveted gold medal, the Palestinian Gaza team is a bit different.

In fact, the training regimen has been anything but focused for disabled Gazan athletes Muhammad Fanouna and Khamis Zaqout, who are competing in the 2012 London Paralympic Games. In a tale reminiscent of "Cool Runnings" – a movie inspired by the unlikely Jamaican bobsledding heroes of the 1988 Winter Olympics – Mr. Fanouna and Mr. Zaqout have overcome a lack of training, equipment, and finances in order to qualify for this year’s Paralympics.

The duo, who are competing for the Palestinian team, train in Gaza, isolated from their West Bank teammates. Partially-blind Fanouna, who won a bronze medal for his long jump in the Athens Paralympics eight years ago, is competing this year in the long jump, 200-meter sprint, and javelin throw.

Although every athlete aims for the gold medal, that might be an unrealistic goal for the team from Gaza, Fanouna says.

“Every player hopes to get the gold in London. But without the facilities and training that other players have, I can’t realistically expect it. Bronze would still be a big achievement, given that we don’t have an Olympic training camp or even a track on which I can sprint.” more

International Solidarity Movement’s response to the Rachel Corrie verdict

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is deeply concerned by the verdict of Judge Oded Gershon that absolved Israel’s military and state of the 2003 murder of American ISM activist Rachel Corrie. Rachel was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer while protesting the demolition of a Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip.

Despite the American administration stating that the Israeli military investigation had not been “thorough, credible and transparent” and the Israeli government withholding key video and audio evidence, Judge Gershon found no fault in the investigation or in the conclusion that the military and state were not responsible for Rachel’s death. Judge Gershon ruled that Rachel was to blame for her own murder and classifies her non-violent attempt to prevent war crimes as proof that Rachel was not a “thinking person”.

By disregarding international law and granting Israeli war criminals impunity Judge Gershon’s verdict exemplifies the fact that Israel’s legal system cannot be trusted to administer justice according to international standards.The ISM calls on the international community to hold Israel accountable by supporting the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and continuing to join the Palestinian struggle in the occupied Palestinian territories. more

Report: Egypt to provide Gaza power station with fuel

CAIRO (Ma'an) -- The Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation has received instructions from President Mursi to provide Gaza with fuel for its sole power station, Al-Watan newspaper reported Wednesday.

Amro Mustafa, vice president of EGPC, made the comments to Al-Watan during an interview with the Egyptian newspaper.

The Egyptian company will provide 30,000 tonnes of fuel to Gaza's sole power station, as well as petroleum donated by Qatar. The fuel will arrive through the Al-Ouja crossing in Egypt's northern Sinai and will then be transported to Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing within the next few days.

Gaza had been plagued by a fuel crisis since mid-February, when Egypt cut off supplies via a tunnel network under the border between the countries. more