The Swedish three-masted schooner Estelle arrived in the Italian port of La Spezia on Thursday afternoon, and on Saturday supporters from all over northern Italian came to wish her well on her voyage to Gaza, and fill her sails with the powerful winds of solidarity.
There were greetings from the Mayor of La Spezia as well as from other municipal and regional authorities, including the mayor of Bulciago (a town near Milan), mother of legendary International Solidarity Movement activist Vittorio (Vik) Arrigoni, who was killed last year in Gaza. Next to a banner that reads "With Vittorio for a free Palestine" Egidia Beretta presented the Estelle with an image of her son.
Some of dockside greeting for Estelle had strong historical resonances. La Spezia and the region of Liguria suffered heavy losses in WWII: this area was among the hardest hit in Italy in terms of resistance fighters who died for freedom as well as political deportees who were sent to concentration and extermination camps for their politics. So greetings to the Estelle from the partigiani (partisans) association ANPI (which includes the Garibaldi international Brigade to the Spanish Civil War as well as those who fought fascism in Italy) were also very heartfelt. more
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied Palestinian territory (OCHA) issued a new report accusing Israel of continuing its serious violations against the Palestinian people, and of preventing access to basic services.
OCHA said that the majority of these restrictions were enforced during the first four years of the Al-Aqsa Intifada (September 28, 2000), and added that most of these restrictions are still in place despite the significant improvement of the security situation.
Quoting the report, Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported that despite recent easing of certain restrictions on main roads and junctions in the West Bank, Israel is still denying the Palestinians access to basic services, their lands and livelihoods, and that these restrictions are obstructing health and education services, in addition to access to water resources.
OCHA said that Israel, as an occupying force, has the moral and legal obligation to provide the Palestinians with the needed services, and has the obligation to ensure they can enjoy their fundamental rights.
OCHA further reported that Israel’s settlements in the West Bank are part of the Israeli restrictions and violations that hinder the freedom of movement of the Palestinian people, especially when taking into consideration that Israel’s settlements are illegal under International Law, and are largely built on privately-owned Palestinian lands. more
Hamas security forces are routinely subjecting Palestinian detainees in Gaza to torture and abuse, according to a report by Human Rights Watch, which says three men have been executed on the basis of "confessions" apparently obtained under coercion.
The report cites serious abuses such as arbitrary arrest, denial of access to lawyers and the use of torture during interrogations.
"After five years of Hamas rule in Gaza, its criminal justice system reeks of injustice, routinely violates detainees' rights, and grants immunity to abusive security services, said Joe Stork of HRW. "Hamas should stop the kinds of abuses that Egyptians, Syrians and others in the region have risked their lives to bring to an end."
The report, Abusive System: Criminal Justice in Gaza, calls for urgent reforms, including a moratorium on the death penalty. It cites the case of Abdel Karim Shrair, whose family and lawyers say was tortured under interrogation, and was executed by firing squad in May 2011 after "confessing" to collaborating with Israel. more
GAZA, (PIC)-- Palestinian Prisoners' Center for Studies reported that the Israeli occupation authorities canceled visit of the eleventh batch of the prisoners' relatives from Gaza Strip, which was scheduled for Monday.
The Center said that the occupation has officially informed the Red Cross about cancelling Monday's visit because of Jewish holidays.
The center pointed out that the occupation had permitted visits by families to prisoners from the Gaza Strip after the mass hunger strike they had waged for 28 consecutive days last April, and after being deprived from family visits for 6 continuous years.
The visits should be conducted in small batches and for short time, as the occupation stipulated, added the Palestinian Prisoners' Center for Studies. more