Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Israeli troops fire at Gaza farmers along border

Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian farmers working in their fields along the border area between Israel and the Gaza Strip Tuesday morning.

Witnesses told Ma'an that gunfire came from Israeli watchtowers commanding the border area opposite to Shujaiyya, Zaytoun and Juhr al-Dik neighborhoods. All farmers were forced to leave their fields following the incident.

Separately, Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian Khalid Saad al-Din's car near the northern borders of the Gaza Strip while he was on the way to his agricultural land 400 meters from the border.

Al-Din's car was set ablaze following direct hits from Israeli live fire, but he was able to safely flee his burning vehicle, according to witnesses.

No injuries have been reported in either incident. more

United Nations: 100,000 Gazans still homeless since summer attack

The official UN death-toll for the 2014 war shows that 1,549 Palestinian civilians were killed in comparison to four Israelis, and 504 Palestinian children were killed for one Israeli child.

PNN reports that, in the Gaza Strip, the seven weeks of hostilities between Palestinian armed groups and the Israeli military, during July and August 2014, resulted in an unprecedented level of loss and human suffering, which aggravated the already fragile situation that preceded the conflict.

A total of 1,549 Palestinian civilians, a third of them children, were killed and around 11,000 people were injured; 13 per cent of the housing stock was damaged or destroyed, including some 20,000 homes totally destroyed or rendered uninhabitable, leaving over 100,000 people displaced; unexploded ordnance spread over Gaza pose a serious threat to the life of Palestinians and humanitarian workers; and access to already insufficient basic services has been further undermined. Four Israeli civilians were killed during the hostilities and hundreds injured.

Gaza remains in crisis, with most of the 100,000 made homeless by last year's war still homeless. The United Nations has had to suspend assistance to families made homeless by the war because of a $600 million shortfall in promised donations.

The ban on exports has no plausible justification on grounds of Israel's security. It leaves factories idle and most Gazans dependent on food aid.

The ban on import of construction materials causes huge hardship (most of the 100,000 made homeless by the war are still homeless).

The restrictions on humanitarian aid (running at half the pre-blockade levels) is another form of collective punishment.

It's true that some building materials can be used for military purposes, but this is a vicious circle. The more the Israelis attack Gaza, the more that Palestinians in Gaza want to be defended. The result can be that it strengthens rather than weakens support for Hamas.

In any case what is the alternative? The West Bank has been demilitarised for more than 10 years with the Palestine Authority police enforcing a strict ban on arms of all kinds, but what has been their reward? This has just eased the way to the Israelis stealing more land to build settlements, ransacking and demolishing homes, turning a blind eye to settler violence, putting peaceful demonstrators in jail and killing hundreds of Palestinians. The Gazans see what has happened in the West Bank and do not want to be defenceless.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation renounced violence nearly 30 years ago but their strategy of non-violence only makes sense if it is backed by international action to put pressure on Israel to end settlement-building and land theft and allow an independent Palestinian state within viable and secure borders. It is our failure to deliver our part of the bargain that is the trouble.

Read the Gaza debate in full Latest report from UN OCHA Latest appeal from UNRWA

Israeli naval forces shot and killed a Palestinian fisherman who was fishing west of Gaza city, in unclear circumstances. On another 30 occasions, Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian boats sailing near the Israeli-imposed 6 nautical mile fishing limit, including one incident resulting in the injury to two fishermen and in damage to their boat, and another in the detention of six fishermen.

Two Palestinians were injured by explosive remnants of war (ERW) in Gaza, including a farmer northwest of Rafah city and a man in his house in Nuseirat Refugee Camp. Since the ceasefire of August 2014, 11 Palestinians, including a child, were killed in ERW incidents, and another 42, including 16 children, were injured.

The Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing in both directions for one day (9 March), allowing 361 Palestinians, mainly patients and students, to leave and 956 people to cross into Gaza. The crossing has been continuously closed since 24 October 2014, following an attack in Sinai, except for 12 days on which it was opened, but with restrictions. more

Method Man: a trailblazer of hip-hop solidarity with Palestine

From the Electronic Intifada - The Wu-Tang Clan was once described as “the most innovative force in hip-hop” by The New York Times. But it wasn’t only the gritty and dark soundscape created by the group that was original. Less well-known is that Method Man, one of the combo’s rappers, may have been the first exponent of his genre to express solidarity with the Palestinians.

The bass-heavy track “PLO Style” appeared on Tical, Method Man’s 1994 debut solo album. Declaring that “the street life is the only life I know,” its lyrics appear to be more of a commentary on the Meth’s direct experiences of Staten Island’s housing projects than on Middle Eastern politics. But when I interviewed him recently, Meth made clear that the PLO referred to in the title is the Palestine Liberation Organization (watch the interview above).

“Fighting for our freedom”

“The same way Wu Tang respected how the kung fu dudes was doing their thing and shit, we respected how the PLO got down,” he said. “They’re freedom fighters and we felt like we were fighting for our freedom every day, too, where we lived at.”

Meth indicated that the track was inspired by images of Palestinian resistance fighters he used to see in a New York City store.

As well as on Tical, “PLO style” was a phrase that both Meth and his bandmate Ghostface Killah used on the tracks “Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber - Part II” and “Bring Da Ruckus” off the group’s debut LP Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).

Released in 1993, it has been listed as one of the 500 best albums in history by Rolling Stone. According to the magazine’s rankings, it was better than The Beatles’ Let it Be.

Another rap group, Mobb Deep, has used the phrase “PLO style” on “I’m going out” — a track from their album Murda Muzik. And, of course, numerous other hip-hop artists have voiced support for the Palestinians in more recent years.

Wu-Tang’s PLO references are some of the biggest moments of Black-Palestinian solidarity in the history of music. Such an act of solidarity is an inherently political statement without being forced. And this was 22 years ago, way before anyone else was rapping about Palestine.

I couldn’t let Method Man go without telling him that my aunt is an executive committee member of the PLO. “Oh, word,” he replied. “Tell your aunt I said ‘peace.’” more