Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Israeli general says Hamas needed for Gaza stability

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- The general responsible for Israel's border with the Gaza Strip says that continued rule by Hamas is necessary for its stability, Israeli media reported Tuesday.

The alternative would be the Israeli military and chaos in governance," top-selling Yediot Aharonot quoted Major General Sami Turgeman as telling heads of southern Israel local authorities in the Gaza border area on Monday.

The military spokesman's office told AFP that it had no transcript of Turgeman's remarks and therefore could not verify them.

The statement come in stark contrast to general rhetoric of current right wing Israeli politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has consistently gained support through vocal condemnation of the Hamas movement.

Israel launched a 50-day war on Hamas in Gaza last year, in which about 2,200 Palestinians were killed, the majority civilians, and 73 died on the Israeli side, most of which were soldiers in combat.

Rightwing politicians, including members of Netanyahu's cabinet, criticized an August 26 truce, saying that the military should have kept up its offensive until Hamas was removed from power.

Netanyahu is in the process of trying to get a center-right government confirmed by a restive parliament, and is hoping to entice hardline former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman to reverse his decision to take his Yisrael Beitenu party into opposition.

Lieberman said his departure from Netanyahu's coalition was related to a dispute over 'principles. more

Brazil cancels $2 billion contract with Israeli security firm for 2016 Olympics

Brazil’s government has excluded an Israeli “security” company from working at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro following a campaign by Palestine solidarity activists.

In October 2014, the Israeli firm International Security and Defence Systems (ISDS) announced it had won a $2.2 billion contract with the Brazilian government to coordinate security at the huge sports event. The Times of Israel described the deal as “an unprecedented achievement for Israel,” while senior figures from the company stated it had already begun work.

But on 8 April a division dealing with large events at Brazil’s justice ministry denied that ISDS had been awarded any contract.

A letter from the ministry stated: “Any contract made by Rio 2016 won’t result in compromises by the Brazilian government.” The campaign against ISDS, which was supported by some of Brazil’s labor unions, is interpreting this as an acknowledgement of its grievances.

Julio Turra, executive director of CUT, the largest workers’ union in Brazil, says in a press release: “We are glad that the government distances itself from ISDS. It would be illegal and shameful to hire a company that develops its technologies in complicity with Israeli crimes and that accumulates complaints about its participation in Central American dictatorships.”

This boycott success comes on the heels of another recent and very significant win in Brazil for activists urging boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. At the end of 2014, in response to a separate campaign, the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul canceled a contract with the Israeli weapons company Elbit Systems to develop a major aerospace research center. more

Freedom Flotilla 3: Marianne heads for Gaza!

Marianne of Gothenburg left her home port at 7 pm on the 10 of May. The trawler, which has been acquired by Ship to Gaza Sweden and Ship to Gaza Norway jointly, departs for a voyage of almost 5,000 nautical miles to eastern Mediterranean and the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Marianne will join other ships and together they will form the “Freedom Flotilla III” in order to perform a peaceful, nonviolent action to break the illegal and inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip.

In passing Marianne will call at European ports for manifestations against the blockade. The First three ports will be Helsingborg, Malmö and Copenhagen. The subsequent ports will be announced in press releases.

Marianne is not a cargo-ship, but she will bring a limited cargo of, among other things, solar cell panels and medical equipment.

The solar cell panels are a gift from ETC-El. In the blockaded Gaza Strip, where the infrastructure has been demolished, solar cells will thus provide an opportunity to independent local production of clean energy. The sun can not be blockaded.

In addition to a crew of five people, Marianne will have up to eight delegates as passengers in each section of the route. The names of these individuals will be announced as time progress. In the first section are among others:

Maria Svensson, pro. tem. spokesperson, Feministiskt initiativ
Mikael M Karlsson, Chairperson, Ship to Gaza Sweden
Henry Ascher, professor of Public Health, paediatrician
Lennart Berggren, filmmaker
Dror Feiler, musician, spokesperson of Ship to Gaza

Hamas civil servants go on strike in Gaza

Civil servants hired by the Gaza Strip's de facto Hamas leaders went on strike across all Gazan ministries and public institutions except schools on Tuesday. The employees have not been regularly paid since the unity government came together in June last year, although even before that Hamas struggled to pay their salaries regularly.

A committee representing the unpaid civil servants issued a statement on Tuesday claiming that the strike came in response to the unity government's "recklessness" towards the employees' rights.

It accused the unity government of acting fraudulently and said ministers were "completely void of any practical steps towards the inclusion of former employees." The statement added that schools had been exempted from the strike due to students' final exams. more