Wednesday, 19 June 2013

South Africa ambassador rejects gift from Israel, condemns “replication of apartheid”

South Africa’s former ambassador in Tel Aviv has publicly rejected a gift from the Israeli government, of 18 trees planted in his name by the Jewish National Fund (JNF), on land violently expropriated from its Palestinian owners.

Ismail Coovadia, a former anti-apartheid activist, and a member of the ruling African National Congress, was presented with a JNF certificate, signed by Rafael Barak, director general of the Israeli foreign ministry, informing him that the trees had been planted in his “honor.”

Coovadia was appalled at the move and, in a letter posted by BDS South Africa, explained:
I have recently completed serving my term as the fifth Ambassador of democratic, non-racial South Africa to the State of Israel.

The racist actions of the Israeli parastatal, the Jewish National Fund, together with various other Israeli state institutions to forcibly remove the Palestinians and Bedouins from their legitimate homes is yet another repeat of the ongoing injustice meted out by the Israeli Defence Forces, etc …

I have had the opportunity to visit both, the “South Africa Forest” and the “Ambassador’s Forest” in Israel where trees are reportedly planted in the name of South Africa. In regard to the latter case, my queries, to the Israeli Foreign Ministry officials, have gone unanswered for over a year.

Regrettably, my permission was not sought to plant a tree/s in my or the name of a South African Ambassador on usurped land, the rightful land of the Palestinians and Bedouins. I reserve the right to the usage of my name with or without my permission.

Hamas: Erdogan still planning Gaza visit

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Turkish Prime Minister Reccep Tayyip Erdogan will follow through on promises to visit Gaza despite having to deal with mass protests in Turkey, the Hamas government said Wednesday.

A spokesman for the Gaza government quoted Erdogan as making the remarks in a news conference Tuesday in Ankara after meeting with Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister.

“Haniyeh discussed with Erdogan the reconciliation file,” a statement from the Gaza government said. “He stressed the strong Turkish-Palestinian relations, and he praised the Turkish role in the Palestinian issue.”

Haniyeh met with Erdogan Tuesday evening after a tour in Arab and Islamic countries.

Also Wednesday, the newly appointed prime minister in Ramallah, Rami Hamdallah, met Turkish consul-general Sakir Torunlar to discuss the latest political updates and the economic situation in Palestine. more

Witnesses: Israeli forces open fire at Gaza farmers

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian farmers in the central and southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday, witnesses said.

Locals told Ma'an that Israeli soldiers stationed in watchtowers opened fire at Palestinian farmers near the separation fence in Khan Younis and Deir al-Balah.

The gunfire hit several homes in the area, with no injuries reported.

Meanwhile, Israeli naval forces opened fire at fishermen off the coast of Khan Younis, witnesses added. more

Rockets fired from Gaza Strip toward southern Israel

JERUSALEM, June 19 (Xinhua) -- A rockets barrage was launched by militants from the Gaza Strip early Wednesday toward southern Israel, a military source told Xinhua.

The barrage included three rockets which were launched toward the Ashkelon coast area. According to a scan carried out by the Israeli military, none of the rockets made their way into Israel and they all exploded within the Gaza Strip territories.

No damages or causalities were reported. The shooting took place as international stars and leaders celebrated the 90th birthday of Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem.

Defense sources see it as an experiment carried out by Hamas militants, who rule the Gaza enclave, the Channel 10 news website reported.

In early May, a rocket landed in the southern Eshkol region but caused no damages or casualties. Several rockets were launched toward Israel in March and April as well. more