Egypt closes Rafah crossing ‘until further notice’

26 Oct

RafahRafah crossing closed.

Middle East Eye report, 25 October 2014

As part of the state of emergency declared in much of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula following attacks on Friday that killed 31, Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah border crossing into the Gaza Strip early Saturday morning.

In a televised speech at a military college north of Cairo on Saturday, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told viewers that “the problem of Rafah and the Rafah border line and all the problems in the area should be approached”.

During the most recent war in Gaza, Egyptian authorities sparked criticism from Palestinian and international groups for leaving the crossing closed during much of the 51 days of fighting which damaged much of the Strip’s infrastructure.

Since a ceasefire deal was reached between Palestinians and Israeli in late August, Egyptian authorities had opened Rafah to Gazans with permanent residence abroad or foreign passports, and for people with serious medical conditions who have approval to travel from Gaza’s Health Ministry.

With the border now closed, Mohammed Omer, MEE’s contributor in Gaza said those seeking treatment abroad for urgent health problems will be unable to travel.

However, Omer said rebuilding efforts in Gaza should not effected as, despite a major reconstruction conference held in Cairo this month which saw donors pledge $2.7 billion, required materials have still not been allowed to pass through the Rafah border crossing.

“Wait for a few days – there will be a big crisis in Gaza,” Omer said, alluding to those waiting to cross at the border.Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah border crossing into the Gaza Strip on Saturday morning, in the wake of a day of bloody attacks against Egyptian military personnel in the country’s restive province of North Sinai.

The closing of the crossing come after a huge suicide bomb blast on Friday which targeted an army checkpoint at the North Sinai Bedouin town of Sheikh Zuweid killed 20 soldiers. The explosion occurred around 12 kilometres west of the crossing point. Another soldier was killed when militants opened fire at an army checkpoint in al-Arish, the largest town in the desert landscape of North Sinai.

The Rafah crossing lies some 50 kilometres east of the main North Sinai town of al-Arish, and is the only land crossing into the Gaza Strip not directly controlled by Israel authorities.

Palestinian officials confirmed on Saturday that the crossing had been closed since 05:00 local time (03:00 GMT).

How the spin-doctors ‘dehumanise’ our language

25 Oct

Israeli attack on Gaza schoolAn Israeli attack using illegal white phospheous weapons on a UN school in the northern Gaza Strip in which two children were killed and a dozen other people were injured during ‘Operation Castlead’. Israel regularly describe their war crimes, such as this, with terms like ‘mowing the lawn.’ [Photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images]

By George Monbiot, The Guardian, 21 October 2014

During their genocidal war against Vietnam, US government spokesmen often used toilet terminology to fudge their slaughter of the Vietnamese people, with phrases such as “sanitizing the sanctuaries” or “flushing out the enemy.”  Today similar degrading terms like ‘cleansing the stock’ are used to dehumanize people, or ‘neutralizing’ instead of killing human beings. [Editor.]

Those in power don’t speak of ‘people’ or ‘killing’ – it helps them do their job. And we are picking up their dehumanising euphemisms.

To blot people out of existence first you must blot them from your mind. Then you can persuade yourself that what you are doing is moral and necessary. Today this isn’t difficult. Those who act without compassion can draw upon a system of thought and language whose purpose is to shield them – and blind us – to the consequences.

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March against NZ joining the war

24 Oct


Global Peace and Justice Auckland, Media Release, 19 October 2014

Humanitarian aid from New Zealand desperately needed in Iraq and Syria
Global Peace and Justice Auckland is calling on the government to provide humanitarian funding for non-aligned NGOs (non-governmental organisations) in the Middle East rather than give any support whatever for the US-led military campaign in the area.

“We’ve contributed bombs and bullets in the past – this time lets contribute food, shelter and medicine” say GPJA spokespeople John Minto and Mike Treen.

“There is a desperate need for humanitarian support for the millions now displaced by the war and the best way this can be delivered is through direct New Zealand government funding for non-government organisations active in the area.”

“We previously made the mistake of providing humanitarian aid in Afghanistan through our military-based reconstruction teams. Unfortunately only a small proportion of this funding actually reached the people as useful aid with most being wasted in keeping the New Zealand army in place to deliver the aid.”

“Groups like Oxfam and Doctors Without Borders which are already active on the ground are ideally placed to deliver this support in the most cost-effective way possible.”

“A generous contribution in humanitarian support in the Middle East would be the most positive way for this country to begin its term on the United Nations Security Council.”

GPJA is organising a march in Auckland this weekend to call on the government to take this positive role and to reject the option of supporting a US-led war in the region.

“We are marching for medicine.”

John Minto
Mike Treen

Report on the growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza

24 Oct

After the grand promises of aid tabled at the Cairo conference and a fleeting 5 hour visit by UN chief Ban Ki-moon, Noor Harazeen reports from Gaza City, for CCTV America.

When did Israel cease fire?

24 Oct

 images-1 Israeli tank (file photo)

Editor, Redress Information & Analysis, 22 October 2014

Although the BBC and other media are reporting that the “ceasefire” is holding, when did Israel ever cease fire?

In the last few days two Palestinian children have been killed in the West Bank. Bahaa Badr – a 13-year-old boy – was shot dead by Israeli soldiers following demonstrations against the occupation.

A five year old girl, Einas Khalil, was run over and killed by a settler, it is believed deliberately. No one has been arrested.

A video has emerged of Israeli soldiers imprisoning, handcuffing and blindfolding a mentally disabled Palestinian child.

Israeli soldiers rough up disabled Palestinian child while Jewish squatters cheer them on

More details have also emerged about the torture and death of Raed al-Jabari in Israeli prison.

Israel’s waves of attacks and imprisonment of Palestinians continue.

Israeli violence also continues against Palestinians in Gaza. The UN has reported seven incidents in Gaza from 30 September to 13 October where Israeli forces opened fire. One incident caused an injury, and forced Palestinian farmers to leave their agricultural land.

Israeli forces also made an incursion and levelled Palestinian land in Gaza, reportedly entering up to approximately 150 metres across the border.

On two occasions during the reporting period, Is­raeli naval forces opened warning shots at Palestin­ian fishing boats sailing near the Israeli-declared six-nautical-mile (NM) fishing limit. No injuries were reported.

Access restrictions at land and sea continue to undermine the agricultural sector in Gaza, which is the primary source of income for thousands of farmers and fishermen and their fami­lies (see UNOCHA report).

And, contrary to the terms of the ceasefire deal signed in August, the blockade of Gaza has not been lifted.


Israel’s ‘global blackmail’ tightens blockade of Gaza

23 Oct

imagesRafah border crossing

By Lamis Andoni, Middle East Monitor, 22 October 2014

Lamis-Andoni The process of reconstructing Gaza

As usual, whatever Israel fails to impose by war, it tries to achieve by means of the subsequent agreements, and the reconstruction of Gaza agreement under the supervision of the UN is no difference. It is the manifestation of international complicity in not only solidifying the siege, but also using it to eliminate the resistance, using the UN as a cover.

The expected competition over bids, which are subject to Israeli veto, opens the door wide open for, not only Palestinian and international warlords, but also to the main Israeli companies at the expense of the affected families. These companies always take a significant share of the profits, as they deal with importing construction materials to the besieged Strip.

We all know what is going on. It is a repeat of the reconstruction process of Gaza after the 2012 war, but with new restrictions that allow Israel to gather detailed information about Gazan families and institutions and to have the process of rebuilding the homes destroyed by the bombing subject to Israeli supervision. Hence, Israel can disrupt or completely hinder reconstruction. According to the agreement signed by the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations, the reconstruction of housing in Gaza is subject to inspection and monitoring according to specific conditions, including “Israel’s security considerations with respect to the use of building materials that have ‘dual uses'”; i.e. materials that Israel suspects may be used to build rockets or explosives, and these materials may include cement, iron and plastic, according to Israel’s contraband list.

It is clear that Israel wants to use the “reconstruction” process to not only firmly root the blockade under UN sponsorship and through the PA, but also as a means by which Israel can punish the people of Gaza. This is possible because, based on the monitoring and inspection permitted by the agreement, Israel can prevent the reconstruction or repair of any Palestinian house, building, or institution which it accuses of being affiliated with or affiliated to a resistance faction.

The clause regarding compliance with “Israel’s security considerations” is not only dangerous due to Israel’s control of the process, but also because the UN and the Palestinian committee overseeing the reconstruction will be employed by Israel to gather intelligence information about every family and residential and commercial neighbourhood in Gaza. Thus, the reconstruction process will be turned into a legitimate spying operation with an Arab and international cover.

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Gaza ‘running out of patience’ as siege still blocks aid

23 Oct

Sami_0 Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri accuses Israel of ‘foot-dragging’ over Gaza siege

Middle East Eye report. 22 October 2014

The Palestinian movement Hamas has warned that the Gaza Strip was “running out of patience” with Israel’s ongoing blockade of the Palestinian territory.

“The international community must intervene to commit Israel to lifting the siege and begin rebuilding Gaza before the latter runs out of patience,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a Tuesday statement.

Abu Zuhri denounced what he described as “blackmail” by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who recently said reconstruction of the war-battered strip would be halted if Hamas began repairing cross-border tunnels destroyed during Israel’s recent military onslaught.

Abu Zuhri went on to assert that an August 26 cease-fire deal between Israel and Palestinian factions “has nothing to do with the arms of the resistance.”

“Ya’alon’s provocative statements show how Israel is dragging its feet vis-à-vis its earlier promises to lift the siege and allow Gaza to rebuild,” Abu Zuhri said.

At an October 12 donor conference in Cairo, representatives from 50 countries pledged some $5.4 billion to the Palestinians, half of which was allocated for reconstruction of the devastated Gaza Strip.

During Israel’s recent 51-day onslaught, 15,671 housing units were damaged across the coastal enclave, including 2,276 that were totally destroyed, according to official Palestinian figures.

Ceasefire deal not implemented

The Israeli offensive killed more than 2,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and more than 11,000 others were injured, according to Palestinian health officials.

The Israeli offensive finally ended on August 26 with the announcement of an indefinite cease-fire agreement.

The truce deal, brokered by Egypt, calls for reopening Gaza’s border crossings with Israel, which, if implemented, would effectively end the latter’s seven-year blockade of the territory.

This, however, has yet to be implemented.

Since the cease-fire deal was signed almost two months ago, Israel has opened the Kerem Shalom border crossing (linking the Gaza Strip, Egypt and Israel) to limited commercial traffic.

Shortly after the donor conference in Cairo, which was attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Israel allowed 75 trucks of construction materials into the coastal strip.

Israel’s six other crossings with Gaza, however, along with Gaza’s Rafah border crossing with Egypt, have remained sealed for the most part.

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