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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Gaza plan ‘relieves Israel of responsibility’

21 Oct

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Rain falls on a Palestinian boy as he walks through the devastated Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza City, October 19, 2014. The UN agency tasked with rebuilding the territory has scaled up its response to meet the critical needs of the people who lost their homes in the 50-day conflict. Mahmud Hams / AFP / Getty Images

 
by Gregg Carlstrom, Gaza City & Dalia Hatuqa, Ramallah, Aljazeera International, 20 October 2014
 
Complicated mechanisms could risk prolonging the Gaza reconstruction efforts, critics argue

A massive U.N.-supervised project to rebuild Gaza got underway earlier last week, but officials in Gaza and Ramallah are already doubtful that it will bring immediate aid to residents of the battered strip. The reconstruction plan calls for a highly intricate monitoring system, with restrictive measures on the import and distribution of building materials.

This comes at the behest of the Israelis, who have long barred the entry of basic construction materials — including cement, metal pipes and steel — into Gaza, insisting that they are “dual use” items that Hamas could use to build underground tunnels for military purposes.

A new monitoring system will place security personnel and video cameras at distribution points for construction materials, and will vet both suppliers and buyers. And a central database, linked to the Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs, but available to Israeli intelligence agencies, will track material entering the Gaza Strip.

The details of this deal were revealed in a document named the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, which outlined a U.N.-brokered agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Palestinian officials have said that Gaza will need almost $7.8 billion in aid to rebuild after the recent Israeli offensive, which lasted 51 days and left more than 2,000 Palestinians dead.

On Sunday Oct. 12, donors pledged $5.4 billion to rebuild the strip, but only $2.7 billion is slated for reconstruction; the rest will support the PA’s budget over the next three years.

“It’s not enough. Gaza has been destroyed many times since 2000, starting with the second Intifada,” said Faisal Abu Shahleh, a senior Fatah member in Gaza. “Israel destroyed all of the infrastructure.”

Throughout the war, more than 60,000 houses were destroyed or damaged, forcing one in four Palestinians in Gaza to flee. Around 110,000 people remain displaced.  

Approximately 1,000 industrial enterprises, including factories, were also affected. Close to 2.5 million tons of rubble will need to be removed, according to a 72-page Gaza reconstruction plan presented to donors in Cairo.

The Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism includes an Israeli-Palestinian-U.N. “high-level steering team” to oversee monitoring.

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Occupation obliges Palestinian to demolish his house

21 Oct
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Palestinian citizen Amin abdul-Haqq from Jerusalem demolished his own house after an Israeli threat to destroy the house and make him pay high fees.

From Days of Palestine, Jerusalem, 21 October 2014

Israeli occupation authorities do not issue building licences for Jerusalemites or allow them expand their house to keep up with the natural population increase. It is a measure to force them leave the city.

A Palestinian resident in the city of Jerusalem was obliged on Sunday by Israeli occupation to demolish his own house.

Palestinian citizen Amin abdul-Haqq from the Palestinian city of Jerusalem demolished his house by his own hands after an Israeli threat to do the job and make him pay high fees for the task.

Earlier this week Abdul-Haqq received a demolition notice issued by the Israeli occupation authorities. In the notice, he was given two choices; either the Israeli occupation demolishes the house, and he had to pay for that, or destroy his own house with his own hands.

Abdul-Haqq, who spent much time saving money and building his house, chose to destroy his house by his own because it was much cheaper than leaving it to the Israeli occupation to do so.

It is a norm that if someone received this order and did not carry out the mission alone, the Israeli occupation forces would demolish the house themselves. They will then charge him and put him in jail.

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Professor Richard Falk to speak in Auckland

21 Oct

10426791_771688389544126_2935648111967664435_nLimited seating.

Israel excels at camouflaging the expulsion of Palestinians

21 Oct

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Otherwise Occupied: Israel excels at camouflaging the expulsion of Palestinians via various mechanisms

By Amira Hass, Haaretz (Israeli newspaper), 20 October 2014

As the descendants of a people which was banished throughout history from its homes and various homelands, we Israelis have developed our own expulsion skills – skills that would not embarrass the kings, nobles and officials of the goyim. Our contribution to the family of banishing nations is great, especially considering our short existence as a sovereign entity.

After the big expulsion of between 700,000 and 800,000 Palestinians in 1948, we have made do with smaller expulsions, and excel in camouflaging them under various legal definitions or varying circumstantial theories. The Israeli civil-military bureaucracy does not attempt to bathe its acts in any single guiding ideology. But the spirit of Avigdor Lieberman, Naftali Bennett, Rehavam Ze’evi and Yosef Weitz is watching from above.

Here is an inventory of the methods of expulsion in their various concealments:

1. “Stop being a resident.” Israel’s control of the Palestinian Population Registry allowed it to expel some 250,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip between 1967 and 1994 by revoking their status as residents (because they remained overseas for over seven years). These figures were provided by the Defense Ministry to HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, in 2011 and 2012. We must add about 100,000 Palestinians (at least) to this number, who fled or were expelled from the West Bank and Gaza during the June 1967 war and were not present during the census conducted that summer. They have not been allowed back to their homes. The Israelis who have emigrated to Los Angeles, it should be noted, continue to be Israelis.

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Bedouins fear Israeli resettlement plans

21 Oct

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Bedouin community near the Adummim settlement block

 Dalia Hatuqa, Sateh al-Bahr, West Bank, AlJazeera, Oct 2014

 
Development and rights groups believe the aim is to free up land for Israel to expand settlements in the West Bank.

At a steep rocky hillside by the road that winds down to the Dead Sea, children of this Palestinian Bedouin community run up and down the rugged slopes, as goats graze on thorny weeds and sheep bleat nearby.

The encampment falls on a bare ridge between Jerusalem and Jericho, almost at sea level, as its name suggests. Just several hundred metres north lies the settlement of Mitzpeh Yeriho, built in 1977, a couple of decades after the Bedouin settled here.

Seventy people from the Hamadeen clan of the Jahalin tribe now call this area home. Their ancestors set up tents in Sateh al-Bahr in the aftermath of the 1948 war, after Israel expelled them from the Negev. The tribe itself dispersed to different locations in the Jordan Valley area, eking out a living mainly by raising livestock.

But the Bedouin here and in nearby communities are fearful of recently announced plans by Israeli authorities to move them from their encampments near Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Jericho. They, along with development and rights groups, believe the aim is to free up land to expand settlements in the area.

“The plan is to cut the northern West Bank from the south,” said Jameel Hamadeen, a 32-year-old resident of Sateh al-Bahr, which is slated for demolition. “They will then transfer us to areas where our livestock can’t graze, destroying the animal sector, which the Palestinian economy partially depends on.”

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