Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Gaza fisherman jailed for serving Hamas coffee

GAZA CITY (IPS) - Shortly after Israel and Hamas signed a ceasefire agreement on 21 November, the Israeli navy abducted thirty Palestinian fishermen from Gaza’s waters, destroyed and sank a Palestinian fishing vessel, and confiscated nine fishing boats in the space of four days.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) reported that 14 fishermen from a single family, stationed just three nautical miles from the coast of the Gaza Strip, were all arrested on 1 December.

Some fishermen were only two miles off Gaza’s coast when they were attacked with machine gun fire and arrested by the Israeli navy. Ranging from the ages of 14 to 52, the majority in their late teens and early twenties, these fishermen come from some of Gaza’s poorest families (“In new violation of ceasefire, Israeli forces arrest 14 fishermen and confiscate three fishing boats,” 2 December 2012).

According to Mifleh Abu Riyala, a representative of the General Syndicate of Marine Fishermen, the ceasefire has made no difference to Palestinian fishermen.

Palestinians are allowed, under the current Israel-Hamas ceasefire, “to fish six miles out,” he said, “but the Israeli gunboats still attack us, whether we are six or three miles out.”

The Oslo accords granted Palestinian fishermen the right to fish twenty nautical miles out at sea — a right the Israeli navy has unilaterally vetoed, downsizing the fishing “limits” since the 1990s to a mere three miles until last month’s ceasefire allowed a slight increase to six nautical miles. more

Jailed hunger strikers in fourth week: We are fighting for dignity

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike for over three weeks say their battle is a fight for freedom and dignity, in a message sent from Israel's Megiddo jail.

In a statement dictated to lawyer Samer Samaan, the group said the goal of their open hunger strike "is not just to gain our individual freedom but to end the practice of administrative detention, the pointed sword on the neck of the Palestinians."

"This is a battle in the fight for freedom and dignity despite all the continuing pain and torments that impair us, and despite all the pressure that we endure and is practiced against us by the Israeli Prison Service and Shabak to break our will from our steadfastness."

Jafar Azzidine, Tarek Qaadan and Yousef Yassin have been on hunger strike for 22 days, drinking only water and refusing all vitamins and supplements. They were arrested on Nov. 22 and are being held in administrative detention, without charge or trial.

They are still being held in cells with other prisoners but are taken in handcuffs for daily medical tests, prisoner rights group Addameer says. more

Teen dies of Gaza war wounds

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- A Palestinian teenager died on Wednesday from wounds sustained during Israel's recent military assault on the Gaza Strip.

Ahmad bin Saed 19, died in an Egyptian hospital where he was being treated for shrapnel wounds from an Israeli airstrike.

The strike on al-Masdar town in central Gaza on Nov. 17 killed his father, also called Ahmad. more

‘National Geographic’ and the Gaza Strip

There's an exceptionally good story about Gaza published in December's National Geographic. The writer, James Verini, captures the reality of the Strip in somber colors. He also humanizes the Palestinians in ways few other mainstream publications have managed to do:
Our interpreter, Ayman, told us that after the airport was built, he was so proud of it that he took his family there on weekends for picnics. “Look at the destruction,” he said, shaking his head. “Everything. Everything is ... destructed.” “Destructed” is a favorite malapropism of Ayman’s. It’s apt. “Destroyed” doesn’t quite capture the quality of ruination in Gaza. “Destructed,” with its ring of inordinate purpose, does.
Photographer Paolo Pellegrin's images communicate the depth of the darkness and destitution the Palestinians contend with: more