Sunday, 25 January 2015

Gaza says readying sea port for international travel

A ministerial committee in Israeli-blockaded Gaza announced plans on Sunday to ready the enclave's sole seaport to allow Palestinians to travel abroad.

The enclave, home to 1.8 million people, has been under an Israeli land and sea blockade since 2006. Its sole gateway to the world not controlled by Israel is the Rafah border with Egypt, which has been largely closed since late October.

Alaa al-Batta, spokesman for the committee formed to lift the blockade, said preparations are under way to launch within two months a boat service for the sick and students studying overseas.

The port in Gaza City is currently restricted to fishermen, whom Israel only allows to fish up to a maximum of six nautical miles from the shore.

Israeli forces routinely fire on any vessel close to the outer limit.

Opening a port was one of the main Palestinian demand to be tabled during negotiations with Israel to firm up a truce agreement which ended a 50-day war in July and August. more

Video: Naima Shalhoub sings Ferguson-Gaza Blues

From The Electronic Intifada - Naima Shalhoub has an absolutely stunning voice. Listen to her sing “Ferguson-Gaza Blues.”

She’s accompanied by Bouchaib Abdelhadi on oud, Jeremy Mitchell on drums and Timothy Wat on Piano.

After hearing this powerful song, I wanted to know more about how the Lebanese-American Shalhoub’s art and politics intersect. She was kind enough to provide these thoughtful replies to my questions.

Ali Abunimah: What inspired you to make this song?

Naima Shalhoub: I’ve learned, seen and felt the systemic connections between the racial oppression of Palestinians in Palestine, as well as the racism against and mass incarceration of Black people in the United States for quite some time.

In August, however, when the attacks on Gaza were happening at the same time as the Ferguson protests and the wider call to draw attention to police brutality against Black and brown people, the grief was overwhelming. As an artist, I couldn’t help but write a song attempting to draw the connections between the two.

Both peoples experience oppression stemming from the global prison-industrial complex. It is no coincidence that Gaza is the largest open-air prison while the United States has rampant incarceration rates and death rates of Black and brown people.

The histories of slavery and colonization continue to haunt and fuel the present. I felt called to write something that tells somewhat of a story of the deep contradictions at present as well the lives lost in the name of so-called “security” and “democracy.”

AA: Is your art usually political, or was this a departure for you?

NS: I’m mainly inspired to write music that speaks to the human struggles with power, oppression and the desire we all have for freedom. Because of that I tend to write songs that some may categorize as political, but I really feel it’s just me grappling with injustice ingrained in the current order of things. more

Palestinian stabbed and beaten settlers in Hebron

Medical sources in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, have reported that Israeli fanatics attacked, beat and stabbed a Palestinian man, from Doura nearby town. Israeli soldiers invaded various communities in Hebron and handed interrogation warrants to a number of Palestinians.

A physician working in the Hebron Governmental Hospital said Yousef Ahmad Hantash was hospitalized after being stabbed, and beaten by the settlers.

He added that Hantash, 38 years of age, suffered several cuts and bruises to various parts of his body, and is currently in a moderate but stable condition.

Eyewitnesses said the attack took place on a bypass settlement road, near Doura town, south of Hebron. more

Freed prisoner in serious condition at East Jerusalem hospital

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Jaafar Awad, a young Palestinian man who was released last Wednesday from Israeli custody due to serious health troubles after a year of interrogation, was transferred Friday to Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem from a Hebron facility.

His parents, who escort him day and night, say his situation is worsening daily and he can't speak or move.

Awad is attached to a breathing machine. His father told Ma'an reporter that Jaafar started to suffer after an injection he was given at a clinic in Israel's Eshel prison six months ago. After that treatment, added the father, Jaafar started to have vision troubles in his left eye as well as diabetes, thyroid swelling and severe pulmonary inflammation.

"After his health conditions deteriorated seriously, a hearing was held at Ofer court and the court decided to release him after he was interrogated for 15 months," the father told Ma'an.

He added that lawyer Jawad Bolous pleaded on behalf of his son and that the Israeli court decided that the decision included a fine of 40,000 shekels as well as a suspended sentence of 18 month to be dismissed after 5 years. The fine was paid by the Palestinian Authority. more