Friday, 5 September 2014

From the Palestinian BDS Nat. Cttee: take action - the outcome of our battle depends on you

From the Palestinian BDS National Committee

From the ruins of our towns and cities in Gaza, we send our heartfelt appreciation to all those who stood with us and mobilized during the latest Israeli massacre.

In the occupied West Bank, Israel has embarked on one of its largest illegal land grabs in decades by confiscating another 1,000 acres of Palestinian land to expand its illegal colonies.

Now, our battle to hold Israel accountable for its fresh war crimes and crimes against humanity has begun. The outcome of this battle to end Israeli impunity will determine whether Israel’s latest assault will be yet another stage in Israel’s “incremental genocide” of Palestinians or the turning point that will bring an end to Israel’s status as an entity above the law – the world’s dangerous pariah. The outcome of this battle depends on you.

Two months after its 2008–2009 massacre in Gaza, Israel’s prize was an upgrade in trade relations with the European Union. By 2012, western powers in cooperation with the UN Secretary General had effectively prevented all investigation by the United Nations and the International Criminal Court (ICC) into the war crimes and crimes against humanity that Israel committed during the attack.

During the most recent massacre, on 2 August 2014, three days after the occupation forces bombed the designated UN humanitarian shelter in Jabaliya refugee camp, killing 20 civilians and wounding at least 150 people as they slept, the US Congress approved $225 million in additional military aid to Israel. The following day, the occupation forces bombed another UN shelter in Rafah killing ten civilians and injuring dozens.

Also during the massacre, Germany sold Israel an attack submarine with nuclear capability, and the United Kingdom refused to freeze its arms sales to Israel. These and other forms of criminal complicity from world governments and official bodies pave the way for Israel’s ongoing genocidal attacks. It is up to people of conscience and all those who seek peace with justice worldwide to make sure this complicity ends now.

We urge you to stand with the Palestinian people in its entirety and to demand that Israel be held accountable for the war crimes and crimes against humanity it has committed and continues to commit against the Palestinian people everywhere.

We urge you to intensify boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns to further isolate Israel economically, militarily, academically and culturally.

Intensify BDS against Israel in all fields, including by taking the following actions:

- Working to have arrest warrants issued against Israeli war criminals and for them to be tried before your courts.

- Pressuring governments to impose a comprehensive military embargo on Israel.

- Pressuring governments to suspend all free trade and bilateral agreements with Israel until it complies with international law.

- Building effective direct action against Israel and Israeli companies, such as the inspiring Block the Boat actions that prevented Israeli ships from unloading in California and Seattle, and the occupations of Israeli weapons company Elbit Systems’ factories in the UK and Australia.

Working within trade unions to raise awareness about Israel’s regime of oppression and engaging in effective BDS measures such as stopping handling of Israeli goods, divesting trade union funds from Israel and complicit companies, and boycotting complicit Israel trade unions. The trade union movement has a proud history of successful campaigning against apartheid in South Africa, and the Congress of South African Trade Unions has joined Palestinian trade unions in calling for trade union action to end Israel’s impunity.

Holding to account those corporations and retailers that support and profit from Israel’s regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid, including by boycotting their products and taking creative and direct action. The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) has suggested a list of corporate criminals to target.

The majority of the world’s people are waking up to the reality of Israel’s rogue regime of oppression and racism. For the rest of what is supposed to be the UN’s International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, demand an end to Israel’s criminal impunity. Stand with Gaza, and act for freedom, justice and peace in Palestine.

Issued by the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) and the following Gaza organizations/unions: Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions
University Teachers’ Association in Palestine
Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (umbrella for 133 orgs)
Medical Democratic Assembly
General Union of Palestine Workers
General Union for Health Services Workers
General Union for Public Services Workers
General Union for Petrochemical and Gas Workers
General Union for Agricultural Workers
Union of Women’s Work Committees
Pal-Cinema (Palestine Cinema Forum)
Herak Youth Movement
Union of Women’s Struggle Committees
Union of Synergies–Women’s Unit
Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees
Women’s Studies Society
Working Women’s Society
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel
Gaza BDS Working Group
One Democratic State Group

Revealed: Europe’s "discreet" cooperation with Israel’s nuclear industry

The European Union has been cooperating furtively with Israel’s nuclear industry for at least six years.

An internal document that I recently obtained states that an accord on “joint and cooperative initiatives relevant for the peaceful use of nuclear energy” was signed between the EU and Israel in 2008. “This is a discreet agreement that has not been given publicity,” the paper adds.

The document (published below) was drawn up ahead of an October 2013 visit to Israel by Antonio Tajani, then Italy’s member of the European Commission.

It is not hard to understand why the Union wishes to keep this cooperation “discreet.” The agreement was reached with Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission — the body that runs the Dimona reactor, where Israel’s nuclear weapons were developed.

Israel introduced nuclear weapons to the Middle East and has refused to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). It has refused to permit international inspection of all its nuclear activities.

In 2006, Ehud Olmert, then Israel’s prime minister, acknowledged that Israel possessed nuclear weapons. The US Defense Intelligence Agency estimated in 1999 that Israel had between 60 and 80 nuclear warheads. more

Abu Khdeir family '100% certain we won’t receive justice in this racist court’

By Dan Cohen at Mondoweiss - On July 2, three Israeli settlers kidnapped and murdered 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir from the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat. Yosef Chaim Ben David, 29, a shopkeeper from the settlement of Adam masterminded the plot. According to a published indictment, Ben David, along with two minors whose identities are protected by a gag order, forced Mohammed Abu Khdeir into a car and beat him with a wrench before forcing him to swallow gasoline. Autopsies found soot in Abu Khdeir’s lungs, indicating that he was burned alive.

Early last month, I met with the Abu Khdeir family in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat. Three months after the murder of the soft-spoken teenager, the Abu Khdeir family awaits justice that will likely never come. Sitting in their mourning tent in front of their home, Hussein Abu Khdeir, Muhammad’s father, told me, “I’m 100% certain we won’t receive justice in this racist court.”

Since the horrific murder of their son, Israel has waged a campaign of intimidation and harassment as punishment for the damage to Israel’s image abroad resulting from international coverage of their son’s brutal murder.

On an almost nightly basis, Israeli police in full riot gear station themselves in vans outside the Abu Khdeir home. They frequently conducts raids, ransacking and kidnapping dozens of young men and boys from their homes, at least 25 of which remain in various jails throughout Israel, according to the family.

Tareq Abu Khdeir, Mohammed’s 15-year-old Palestinian-American cousin, was handcuffed and beaten within inches of his life by Israeli police, rendering his swollen face unrecognizable to his mother. After the beating, Tareq Abu Khdeir was put in Israeli jail and denied proper medical attention. A video of the attack surfaced, pressuring the US State Department to issue a statement on the brutal beating. Upon his release, he was banned from visiting his family’s home in Shuafat. Hours after Tareq Abu Khdeir departed Israel for the United States, Israeli police ransacked the Abu Khdeir home in Shuafat, leaving the family terrified.

The arrest and jailing of American citizen and cousin of the murdered teenager, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 19, went almost unnoticed by media. US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf eventually issued a statement on Israel’s targeting of the Mohammed Abu Khdeir and the family: “We are concerned that the U.S. consulate general in Jerusalem was not notified of his arrest by the government of Israel,” she said. “We are also concerned about the fact that members of the Khdeir family appeared to be singled out for arrest by the Israeli authorities.”

On August 9, I attended a memorial at the Abu Khdeir home that marked the end of the traditional forty day mourning period. As night fell and those who came to pay respect to the family departed, dozens of Israeli police in riot gear attacked the gathering, wantonly throwing stun grenades into crowds of men, women and children. Police shoved mourners and shined laser pointers into the eyes and camera lenses of anyone who filmed the attack, myself included.

Wednesday, I attended the Abu Khdeir trial in Jerusalem and met with Hussein Abu Khdeir in his partially erected mourning tent afterwards. In what he described as a ploy, Hussein told me that the trial had been scheduled to begin at 3pm but the family’s lawyer received a call the previous evening at 5pm, informing that the trial would be moved ahead to 1pm. The last minute schedule change drastically reduced the number of protestors that showed up prior to the trial. “They are playing with us,” Abu Khdeir told me. “They keep messing with us to make us go crazy.” more

Sinn Féin's Martina Anderson and 12 other MEPs blocked from entering Gaza

Thirteen European Parliament members have been refused entry to Gaza, according to Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson, who led the delegation.

Ms Anderson, an MEP for Northern Ireland, said the Israeli authorities barred the international group from entering Gaza on Thursday.

She said they were told it was because their visit was not directly concerned with the provision of humanitarian aid.

The BBC has asked the Israeli authorities to respond to her claim.

Speaking from Jerusalem, Ms Anderson said: "The Israeli government refused us, 13 MEPs from six countries, entry into Gaza on the grounds that our visit to the region is 'not directly concerned with the provision of humanitarian assistance'."

The Sinn Féin MEP described the humanitarian situation in Gaza as "horrific and harrowing" and said her delegation wanted to enter the region to "assess the situation on the ground first-hand".

"This would have enabled us to relay that information back to the European Parliament and push for greater provision of EU humanitarian aid to Gaza and an end to the blockade and occupation," she added. more

Gazans dig wells after ceasefire as water shortage bites

After two weeks with no water following Israel's 50-day offensive, Abu Osama took matters into his own hands, and like hundreds of others, sank a well beside his Gaza home.

After nearly two months of Israeli bombardment, power cuts and water shortages, he seized upon the ceasefire to get down to work.

"Water supplied by the municipality had not been arriving for more than two weeks and there were 50 of us in the house, including many children, so I decided to sink a well" to draw water directly, the 45-year-old said.

Water shortages are nothing new for Palestinians in the densely populated Gaza Strip enclave, and more and more people have been digging their own wells since 2006.

Israel imposed a severe blockade on the territory that year after Hamas was democratically elected into power.

Since then "more than 10,000 wells have been dug," said Monzer Shoblak, an official in Gaza's water authority.

"All these wells were dug without legal authorization, but without them may people would not have water throughout the day," he said.

But this direct access to water comes at a cost, and Abu Osama, who did not give his full name, had to shell out 2,000 Jordanian Dinars ($2,820) to dig and maintain his well. more

Protest in Wadi Fukin over illegal 1,000 acre settler land grab

Villagers from Wadi Fukin, west of Bethlehem, protested this afternoon against the planned confiscation of just under 1,000 acres (3799 dunums) of land by Israeli settlers. The group marched to the area that is to be expropriated following Friday prayers and was confronted by IOF forces. The peaceful demonstration was dispersed using tear gas.

The protest follows the Sunday's announcement by Israeli authorities that around 1,000 acres of land is to be confiscated for illegal settlements, affecting the Palestinian villages of Jaba'a, Nahalin, Surif and Wadi Fukin. The decision brought international condemnation.

Today's demonstration saw villagers defending their legitimate right to their land, waving Palestinian flags and brandishing banners that read "Stop confiscating our land" and "Stealing land makes you a thief, not a partner for peace." As olive saplings were planted on the hill, IOF forces pushed and shoved protesters back. Once tear gas dispersed the crowd, soldiers destroyed the olive trees.

Ahmed Sukar, head of the village council, highlighted that with the existing settlements of Alon Shevut, Betar Illit and Bet Ayin encircling the population they felt "surrounded, like an island". Only 2,500 dunums remain in Wadi Fukin from the 12,000 owned prior to 1948. Under the current plan around half of that land would also be lost. more

PA to implement 3-stage plan to fix Gaza water crisis

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority is working to implement a three-stage plan to solve the water crisis in Gaza after Israel's assault caused over $34.5 million worth of damages to water networks.

Deputy head of Gaza's water authority, Ribhi al-Sheikh, told Ma'an that the first stage will include a six-month humanitarian intervention to deliver clean drinking water to homeless Gazans and those displaced during Israeli attacks.

The second stage will require rebuilding damaged water networks and reservoirs, which will take over a year if the Gaza crossings operate on current levels of construction material allowed in.

The third stage will be to build water treatment and desalination plants, which would cost in the region of $800 million. more

Israel announces bids for the construction of settlement units near Ramallah

The Israeli government announced, Thursday, bids for the construction of 283 units in an illegal settlement, west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah.

The “Civil Administration Office", run by the Israeli military in the occupied West Bank, prepared all structural maps and plans, and the licenses for the new constructions, an issue that indicates Israel is ready to start the actual construction.

In addition, the Israeli Municipality in Jerusalem announced, in a Thursday press release, a plan to build 2,200 new constructions in East Jerusalem.

On Sunday, August 31, Israel illegally confiscated around 4000 Dunams (988.42 Acres) of Palestinian lands in Bethlehem, in order to establish a new settlement in the Gush Etzion settlement block. more