Monday, 24 November 2014

UK's Barclays bank boycotted over Israel arms trade shares

The British bank Barclays has come under fire for its holdings in Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest military company and the main supplier of drones used to attack and kill Palestinian civilians in Gaza. The bank is the named owner of $2.9 million worth of shares in Elbit.

More than 1.7 million people have signed a petition calling on Barclays to divest from “projects that finance illegal settlements and the oppressive occupation of the Palestinian people” and campaigners have occupied and protested at bank branches across the UK.

Elbit’s share price rose in July off the back of the extensive use of its technology during Israel’s summer massacre in Gaza, which killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, including some 500 children.

The company advertises its products as “combat proven” and recently reported a backlog in orders worth $6.2 billion.

Through its holdings in Elbit Systems, Barclays is profiting directly from Israel’s deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure. Such targeting has been described by Amnesty International and Palestinian human rights organizations as amounting to war crimes.

Barclays market analysts have also talked up Elbit shares, recently rating their stock as “positive.”

Call for action

Elbit Systems supplies Israel with Hermes drones that have been used to deliberately attack and kill Palestinian civilians, including during this summer’s onslaught on Gaza.

According to data from the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, armed drones killed more than 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza between 2000 and 2010.

Analysis of Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reports by drone researcher Mary Dobbing found that 800 drone strikes took place within a fifty-day period during Israel’s most recent attack on Gaza.

In a joint statement published last month, Palestinian student groups described Barclays as “complicit in the war crimes carried out in Gaza using Elbit’s equipment” and called on UK students to close their accounts with Barclays.

“Since Barclays refuse to end this unethical practice [of] investing and dealing in shares in Elbit despite the fact that their drones kill us, our children, our parents, our brothers, sisters and friends, we ask for students to close their student Barclays account and tell Barclays why,” the statement explains. more

Israeli forces 'detain 10-year-old Palestinian boy' in Silwan

Israeli forces detained a 10-year-old Palestinian boy in the Silwan neighborhood on Monday evening, a local information center said.

Majdi Abbasi of the Wadi Hilweh information center told Ma'an that Israeli forces in the Ein al-Luza area of the neighborhood detained 10-year-old Rashid Abu Sarah, took of his shirt, blindfolded him, and took him away in a military jeep.

Israeli forces also fired stun grenades in the neighborhood, Abbasi said.

He did not have further information about the boy's arrest. more

Israel believes missing soldiers are alive in Gaza

From the Middle East Monitor - Israel believes that its missing soldiers are still alive in the Gaza Strip, Palestinians who have been subjected to investigations by the Israeli security forces said.

In an interview with Anadolu Agency, witnesses said that Israeli authorities conducted intensive investigations with "patients" and their companions at the Erez crossing in order to obtain information about the fate of the two soldiers who went missing during the recent war on the Gaza Strip.

According to the witnesses, who refused to be identified fearing being arrested by the Israeli army, Israel's focus during its investigation is to find out where Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin and soldier Shaul Aaron are being detained.

They emphasised that the line of questioning clearly indicated that Israel believes both men are alive.

On July 20, Al-Qassam Brigades announced that it had captured Aaron during the Israeli ground invasion in to the Strip.

Two days later, the Israeli army admitted Aaron was missing, but said he was likely to have been killed in battle with Hamas fighters.

Israel also accused Hamas of capturing Goldin's body, saying he was killed in an armed clash east of Rafah on August 1. The movement has neither confirmed or denied these reports.

One patient said he was surprised at his detention at Erez crossing for more than half an hour during which he was questioned by the Israeli army on Goldin's fate and whereabouts of the soldier.

"The Israeli army is trying to get information about the missing soldiers from patients and their companions," he said. more

Leader of British Catholics visits Gaza

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the leader of Catholics in England and Wales, visited Gaza today [Sunday], during his trip to the region.

The Cardinal lead over 100 pilgrims from the Diocese of Westminister to Gaza to celebrate a Mass for the strips Catholic community, before going to visit the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

In an interview with MEMO today, Cardinal Nichols said "Everyone should rediscover the humanity of the situation, beyond the politics, beyond the oppression of war. We have to get a fresh focus, that it is a human community here in Gaza, and we have to look at ways that the community can prosper - because poverty is always a cause of frustration, and frustration is always a cause of dispute".

The Cardinal agrees with the fears of others that the actions of an extreme few, on both sides, might set the agenda in the Holy Land, and thus strong leadership is required on both sides to lead to peace. He strongly believes that both sides must abide by international law, and referred to the Israeli settlement programme as being contrary to international law.

Gaza is home to almost 2000 Palestinian Christians. Christians in Palestine are permitted to obtain any job, in addition to having their full rights and duties as their Muslim counterparts in accordance with the Palestinian Declaration of Independence. more

Palestinian farmer killed by Israeli explosive on West Bank

Medical sources reported, Sunday, that a Palestinian shepherd was killed when an Israeli explosive, dropped by the army during training, detonated near him in al-Marah area, close to Bardala village, in the Northern Plains of the occupied West Bank.

The sources said that Ahmad Abdul-Rahman Sawafta, age 44, was herding his cattle in the area when he accidentally stepped on the explosive.

His brother, Samer, told Al-Jazeera News Agency that Sawafta lost parts of his face and shoulder, due to the severity of the blast.

He added that Israeli soldiers stationed in the area provided first aid to his brother and moved him to the Rambam Israeli Hospital in Haifa, where he died of serious wounds.

Samer said that the area in question is a grazing land used by dozens of Palestinian shepherds, yet, the Israeli military constantly uses it for training using explosives and live fire, and that the army frequently invades Palestinian communities in the area during training.

The slain Palestinian is a married father of five children; he will be buried in his village, Bardala in the district of Tubas, on Monday.

The Israeli army repeatedly displaces Palestinian families in the area, sometimes for weeks, so that it can hold training using explosives and shells. more

Israeli cabinet approves racist legislation defining nation-state of Jewish people

A controversial bill that officially defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people has been approved by cabinet despite warnings that the move risks undermining the country’s democratic character.

Opponents, including some cabinet ministers, said the new legislation defined reserved “national rights” for Jews only and not for its minorities, and rights groups condemned it as racist.

The bill, which is intended to become part of Israel’s basic laws, would recognise Israel’s Jewish character, institutionalise Jewish law as an inspiration for legislation and delist Arabic as a second official language.

Arab Muslims and Christians make up 20% of Israel’s population.

The cabinet passed the bill by a 14-7 majority after reports of rancorous exchanges during the meeting, including between the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and his justice minister, Tzipi Livni.

The bill, which still requires the Knesset’s approval to become a law, comes as tensions between Israelis and Palestinians rise sharply, and friction within Israel’s Arab minority grows. more

FM: PLO postpones UN resolution on occupation

The PLO has postponed submitting a draft resolution to the UN Security Council demanding the end of Israel's occupation, having already passed several target dates for the procedure over the past two months.

PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told Ma'an that the decision was made because the PLO is still lobbying to gain the support of nine security council members to ensure the vote passes.

The resolution was also suspended because Iran nuclear talks are currently the top priority for Security Council permanent members.

"The permanent member states have informed us that they would give priority to the Iranian issue not to the Palestinian statehood issue," al-Maliki said.

"We haven't backed down on the resolution or cancelled it despite the international opposition and US threats."

The PLO will submit a draft resolution to the UN Security Council as soon as Iran nuclear talks have finished and the required political support has been obtained.

The United States, in line with a decades-long policy, will likely veto any vote on Palestinian statehood.

In a speech at the 69th United Nations General Debate in September, President Abbas said that a resolution demanding an end to Israel's occupation would be submitted to the Security Council due to the failure of peace negotiations.

A draft of the resolution, obtained by AFP, calls for the "full withdrawal of Israel, the occupying power, from all of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, as rapidly as possible and to be fully completed within a specified time-frame, not to exceed November 2016."

In October, PLO Secretary General Yasser Abed Rabbo said the resolution would be submitted by the end of that month, while senior PLO official Wassel Abu Yusef said the draft resolution would be submitted by the end of November. more