Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Gates Foundation invests in occupation profiteer G4S, just as Dutch charity cuts ties

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has bought a 3 percent stake in the British-Danish security firm G4S worth £110 million ($172 million), the UK’s Guardian reported just days after protestors made the company’s role in human rights abuses in Palestine and beyond the focus at the firm’s annual meeting.

The Gates Foundation’s motto “We believe every person deserves the chance to live a healthy, productive life” is difficult to reconcile with G4S’s complicity in human rights violations.

Palestinian human rights organizations Addameer and Defence for Children International-Palestine Section have reported many cases of torture, ill-treatment, arbitrary detention, solitary confinement and isolation of Palestinian detainees in Israel’s G4S-secured prisons and interrogation centers. Last February, young Palestinian father Arafat Jaradat died in Megiddo prison after being interrogated by Israel’s internal security service Shin Bet, also known as the Shabak. G4S provides security services to Megiddo prison.

G4S shows no intention of ending its involvement with Israel’s prison system, though the transfer of Palestinian prisoners from the occupied West Bank and Gaza into Israel is illegal under international law and constitutes a war crime. Israel’s detention of the majority of the approximately 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners inside Israel, including 236 children, is therefore unlawful. However, the company will not end its servicing of security and surveillance equipment contracts with these prisons, G4S media relations manager Piers Zangana recently told Danish financial watchdog Danwatch. more

Gaza government: 'We never prevented Muslim students from attending Christian cchools'

The Palestinian Ministry of Education, under the Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip, denied reports claiming that the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and its government ever prevented Muslim students from attending Christian schools in the coastal region.

The Ministry issued a press release [Monday June 17 2013] stating that such a claimed decision was never made, and that students have the right to choose any school they deem fit.

The statement came after an Israeli news agency claimed that Hamas is preventing Muslim students from attending Christian school in Gaza.

An official at the Ministry of Education in Gaza stated that the government supports all schools, including Christian schools, and does not differentiate between them. more

Eyewitness: An insight into Palestinian resilience in Gaza

In the eyes of many Westerners, Gaza is a dangerous and war torn place. Even activists, including myself, often imagine Gaza primarily as a place of suffering, and one that has unfairly come to eclipse the affliction of all of Palestine. But while Israel’s wars of aggression against the people of Gaza, as well as its brutal siege, have cost many lives and inflicted countless casualties, Gaza today is a remarkably calm, protected and beautiful place where everyday lives go on, despite the continued suffering of its people. Indeed, Gaza is a place where the heart and soul flourish even if the body is ailing; where people and community are so alive and resilient that it rekindles one’s hope in humanity.

I only know this now because I traveled to Gaza earlier this month to participate in the second annual Global March to Jerusalem (GMJ) on Friday, 7th June 2013, when thousands of Palestinians and international activists mobilized in peaceful demonstrations around the world to draw attention to Israel’s continued violations against Jerusalem and its people. Although Israeli police violently suppressed GMJ demonstrations in Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank, peaceful mass demonstrations did successfully take place in Gaza and the neighboring countries of Jordan and Egypt, as well as in Tunisia, Mauritania, Morocco, Yemen, Malaysia, and Turkey. In addition, there were demonstrations in solidarity with the GMJ all around the world, including several major cities across Europe and North America.

On Friday, 7th June I was fortunate enough to join Palestinians and a group of international activists in a peaceful mass rally in Beit Hanoun, the nearest point possible to Jerusalem in Gaza. Many thousands attended the rally, and during my address I promised to carry their voices back home with me to the US in order to communicate their struggle to live under the footprint of a racist occupying power that my government funds and arms. Of course, the few days I spent in Gaza are hardly enough to fulfill this promise. There are too many voices that I was not able to hear, both because there was not enough time and because of my identity as an American woman. But I am hoping that what I can offer begins to communicate the complex life stories of a people resisting against horrific injustices, while at the same time encouraging other Westerners to travel to Gaza in order to do the same.

My entry into Gaza was made possible by the Miles of Smiles convoy organized by the International Committee for Breaking the Siege on Gaza (ICBSG). more

NGO reveals new 'Grand Jerusalem' plan to take more land for settlers

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel intends to appropriate land in Bethlehem to expand the Jerusalem municipal boundaries, a Palestinian NGO revealed Tuesday.

The Grand Jerusalem plan would see the confiscation of 22.500 dunhams (5.55 acres), Jad Ishaq, the executive manager of the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem told Ma'an.

The land is being seized under Israel's Absentee Property Law, which converts land to the State of Israel if the original owner is deemed absent from the land.

West Bank land is particularly vulnerable to appropriation under this law, as though residents remain on their land, not having a Jerusalem ID card places their status as "absent."

The land or property is then placed under the purview of Israel's Custodian of Absentee Property, which Ishaq notes is in contravention of international law.

Israel's Supreme Court approved the confiscation in September. The lands were placed under the Jerusalem 2020 plan in 2005, earmarked as "green" for Israeli development. more