Thursday, 24 September 2015

Pharrell Williams faces BDS protests from thousands of demonstrators in South Africa

R&B superstar Pharrell Williams could face thousands of pro-Palestine protesters at a concert in Cape Town tonight (21 September). Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) South Africa – which campaigns against Israel's presence in Palestine – was given the go-ahead by Western Cape High Court for supporters to demonstrate against the singer's partnership with South African retailer Woolworths (no relation to the former British store of the same name), which it accuses of stocking agricultural produce from the disputed territories.

The court decision, which was handed down on 18 September, paves the way for 16,000 Palestine supporters to protest until 4pm local time outside the Grand West Casino. The ruling reversed efforts deemed as unconstitutional by Cape Town authorities to limit the number of demonstrators to just 150.

Earlier this year, the Happy singer was appointed style director for the retailer, who says that less than 0.1% of its food products are sourced from Israel. BDS South Africa is expecting the gathering to be "the biggest protest against an international artist in the country since apartheid".

A statement released by BDS South Africa read: "Pharrell Williams has been targeted because of his deliberate and informed decision to collaborate with Woolworths.

"Woolworths is a company that maintains unjustifiable trade relations with Apartheid Israel and is the current target of the biggest consumer boycott campaign seen in South Africa since democracy. more

Hamas accuses Egypt of flooding Gaza border

Khan Yunis (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - Hamas on Thursday accused Egypt of further besieging the Gaza Strip by flooding the border area to the south of the Palestinian enclave, which is already under an Israeli blockade.

Egypt has been carrying out digging work in the area for several weeks that Palestinians believe is intended to flood the last remaining tunnels between Gaza and the Sinai, where jihadist fighters have been battling Egyptian forces.

Palestinians fear such moves will further isolate Gaza, where more than 100,000 were left homeless in last summer's war with Israel and which is blockaded by the Jewish state.

Egyptian officials have declined to comment on the work criticised by Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, where residents have reported water seeping over the border.

"Why are they digging those trenches and those water pipes around Rafah?" Hamas's chief in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said during a speech to commemorate the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday.

"And why discard neighbourly relations and the history of Gaza, which has always defended the regional security of Egypt and Arab countries? We are telling our Egyptian brothers: Stop this project. We will do our duty against those who besiege Gaza and plot against it."

Egypt has already established a buffer zone 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) long and half a kilometre wide along its border with Gaza. more

Hebron teen laid to rest as world outrage at murder spreads

HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of 18-year-old Hadeel al-Hashlamon on Wednesday, a day after the teenager was shot dead by Israeli forces at a checkpoint in Hebron, as a key eyewitness refuted claims she had attempted to stab Israeli soldiers.

Crowds of mourners carried the teenager's body through the city for her burial, condemning her killing and vowing revenge for the shooting.

Participants raised the flags of Palestinian political factions during the funeral, calling for unity in the face of Israel's military occupation.

She was then laid to rest in the martyrs cemetery in the city. Israeli forces had transferred al-Hashlamon's body to her family late Tuesday.

The 18-year-old was shot at a checkpoint at the entrance of Hebron's central al-Shuhada street, after allegedly attempting to stab an Israeli soldier, according to the Israeli army's official account.

No Israeli soldiers were injured during the incident, and Israeli authorities presented no evidence of the alleged stabbing attempt.

A key eyewitness to the incident, Fawaz Abu Aisha, who can be seen in pictures published by Youth Against Settlements, told Ma'an that he was on his way to work at 7:40 a.m. when he heard Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint in Shuhada Street shouting loudly in Hebrew.

At first he thought they were shouting at three Palestinian children he had seen in the area, but after approaching the checkpoint he saw they were talking to Hadeel, telling her to get away from the area.

Fawaz began to explain to the teenager, who did not understand Hebrew, what the Israeli soldiers were saying, and she attempted to leave the main checkpoint area via a movable barrier at the side.

Israeli soldiers fired a warning shot at the ground and asked her to stop, before firing another warning shot. Abu Aisha asked the soldiers to let him explain to her what they were saying but they refused and told him to leave the area.

An Israeli soldier then fired a third warning shot at the teenager before aiming his weapon at her and shooting her in the left leg. One more shot was fired at her right leg and then four more into her chest and abdomen as she lay on the ground, Abu Aisha said.

Another shot was then fired at her body as she lay on the ground, he said.more