36,000 stranded while waiting for Rafah crossing to open

21 Nov

300750_345x230Egyptian troops have closed the Rafah border crossing for over four weeks

Middle East Monitor report, 20 November 2014

There are 30,000 humanitarian cases that are in dire need of travel, while 6,000 Palestinians are stranded in Egypt awaiting the opening of the Rafah crossing which has been closed for over four weeks, the Ministry of Interior and National Security in Gaza said.

Speaking during a press conference yesterday, the spokesman for the Ministry of Interior in Gaza, Eyad Al-Bozum, said that those who are considered humanitarian cases either suffer from serious illnesses, have residency permits, are students, or have foreign passports.

He added that the continued closure of the crossing has created a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, as it is the residents’ only lifeline and window to the outside world. Al-Bozum explained that many humanitarian aid convoys and solidarity delegations have been unable to enter Gaza, especially after the most recent war which lasted 51 days.

According to Al-Bozum, the crossing has been closed for 208 days this year due to a new Egyptian policy. This has intensified the suffering of the people of the Gaza Strip, who have already been suffering for eight years under due to Israel’s siege on the enclave.

He stressed that there is no justification for the Egyptian authorities’ closure of the Rafah crossing, noting that the crossing has never been a burden on Egyptian security and there have never been any security violations.

Al-Bozum called on the Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah crossing immediately and to facilitate the passage of people and goods in light of the disastrous conditions suffered by the people of Gaza.

Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah ground crossing completely on October 24 citing the deteriorating security situation in Sinai. It is unknown when it will reopen.

The Rafah crossing is the only crossing that serves the 1.8 million Palestinians living in besieged Gaza which is not subject to Israeli controls.

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Why is Jerusalem always on edge?

20 Nov

 

AJ+ video: published 17 November, 2014

It seems like every violent incident in Jerusalem could spark another massive flare-up in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But what are the policies keeping the city on edge?

 

 

Jeff Halper: ‘Israel sows despair & senseless violence’

20 Nov

166800_498440064681_4490144_nJeff Halper standing up against Israeli demotion of Palestinian houses (file photo)

A Statement by Jeff Halper, director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) 19 November 2014

ISRAEL SOWS DESPAIR AND SENSELESS VIOLENCE

And the “Zionist answer” to the downward cycle of senseless violence in which Jerusalem finds itself: house demolitions, mass arrests, revoking the “residency” of native-born Jerusalemites, closing Palestinian neighborhoods with concrete blocks, arming Israeli Jewish vigilantes and cheap shots at the last person who believes in a two-state solution, Abu Mazen. Everything, that is, except an end to occupation and a just political solution. This is what happens when a powerful country forgoes any effort to address the grievances of a people under its control and descends into raw oppression.

Israel is not in “the grip of a terrorist onslaught,” as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated in this press conference tonight; it is in the grip of senseless violence spawned by despair and repression. The Palestinians, having lost all hope of the Occupation ending and a tiny state of their own, imprisoned in tiny islands of their country, victimized, impoverished, lacking the minimum in individual and collective rights, displaced, even their only place of refuge, their homes, demolished (some 48,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished in the Occupied Territory since 1967), have been reduced to lashing out. Threats to al Aqsa mosque – and there are palpable threats coming from the Israeli right, which wants to partition the holy site as it did to the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron – only add to the danger that what has been until now a political conflict that can be resolved may turn into an uncontrollable religious war.

Israel, having given up all pretense of seeking a just solution, has answered Palestinian despair with pure, atavistic repression. Once again Prime Minister Netanyahu’s analysis is dead wrong: the “core of the violence,” as he puts it, is not the Palestinians’ refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state (they recognized the state of Israel on 78% of historic Palestine 26 years ago), but Israel’s refusal to address – even acknowledge – Palestinian national rights and claims. His “Zionist answers” of increased repression are empty of any political policy that could ease the conflict; not only do they not deter, as an IDF commission concluded in 2005, but they inflame the situation and lead to an endless downward spiral of violence. The Israeli political scene has deteriorated to raw revenge – and revenge for both crimes and acts of resistance that could have been avoided by a genuine Israeli aspiration for a just solution.

In the meantime, the people suffer and hatred prevails, stoked by the only party strong enough to end it all, the Occupying Power, Israel.

Jeff Halper (born 1946) is an American-born anthropologist, author, lecturer, and political activist who has lived in Israel since 1973. He is co-founder and Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).

Halper has written several books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is a frequent writer and speaker about Israeli politics, focusing mainly on nonviolent strategies to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Kia Ora Gaza hosted his speaking tour of New Zealand last year.

NZ Superfund: you have mail

20 Nov

images

Palestine Solidarity Network media release, www.psn.net.nz  20 November 2014

Superannuitants to protest NZ Superfund Investments supporting the Occupation of Palestinian land

A delegation of Auckland superannuitants will deliver a protest-card petition and protest letter to the New Zealand Super Fund this Thursday afternoon to call on the fund to divest from companies which support the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.

The group of approximately a dozen will make the delivery at 2pm today – Thursday 20 November – to the Superfund office at Level 12, 21 Queen Street, Auckland.

“We are appalled that the Superfund would invest in companies which are helping Israel to violate international law, ignore United Nations resolutions and assist in a brutal military occupation of Palestinian land” says delegation leader Phil McNeale.

“As superannuitants we don’t want to have our superannuation come from the suffering of Palestinian people. The fund must stop profiting from brutality.”

“We are pleased that last year the fund withdrew from three companies involved in building illegal Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land and also from a company helping build Israel’s apartheid wall. However Palestinians are also calling for divestment from the likes of Israeli banks which help finance illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.”

“The Superfund has only come half way and half-way is simply not good enough”, says Phil McNeale. “Older New Zealanders don’t want their superannuation dependent on unethical, immoral investments.”

Palestinian football team’s ‘field of dreams’

19 Nov

palestinian_soccer

‘Football is Resistance’

VIDEO REPORT – CLICK ON THIS LINK: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/dateline/story/field-dreams

Dateline looks at the challenges facing the Palestinian football team on and off the pitch, as the players beat the odds to qualify for next year’s Asian Cup in Australia.

 
By Amos Roberts, Channel SBS One, Airdate: Tuesday, 18 November, 2014
Overcoming incredible obstacles, the Palestinian football team has qualified for its first top-tier international competition – in Australia.

But just touching down here (Australia) for the Asian Cup in January will be a struggle for players living under Israeli occupation.

The Palestinian Football Association still doesn’t know who it will be able to send – players and officials are often turned back at the border.

Coach, Saeb Jendeya, survived the recent war in Gaza, but his home is in ruins. He has a permit to travel to Ramallah, but risks arrest to attend training in nearby Jericho.

He tells the team, “You’re not just sportsmen, you carry a message to the world, saying ‘We have the right to a country and a better life.’”

Amos Roberts meets the footballers who are scoring some memorable goals on and off the pitch – watch the full story – click on to the video link above.

The first game for the Palestinian team in the Asian Cup, will be up against Japan in Newcastle, New South Wales, on Monday 12 January 2015.

Photo gallery: Living amongst the rubble in Gaza

18 Nov

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Middle East Monitor, exclusive photos, 18 November 2014

Life in Shujaya, Gaza, is still very difficult.

Residents are living between demolished houses, surrounded by rubble. They have nothing to protect them from the elements as winter approaches. Reconstruction has been stalled by Israel’s limiting of the entry of construction materials into the Strip despite this being one of the conditions of the ceasefire signed to end the 51-day war waged over the summer.

 

‘Everything needed for Gaza depends on Israeli approval’

18 Nov

ANN_P19_16112014_ED1-2ANERA’s Bill Corcoran in Gaza: With Israel refusing “permission” to import rebuilding materials into war-ravaged Gaza, “my biggest fear is that.. the rebuilding of Gaza will fall off the radar, and this will drag on and on” says Corcoran.

By Barbara G.B. Ferguson, Arab News, 18 November 2014

About 13.6 million people have been displaced by conflicts in Syria and Iraq, many without food or shelter as winter starts, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR reported on Tuesday.

This shocking report, says Bill Corcoran, overlooks the dire circumstances Gazans also face as winter approaches.

Not only is this the third war for Gaza in five years, but the most destructive, said Corcoran, the president and CEO of the Washington-based ANERA, or American Near East Refugee Aid agency, which supports those in need in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon and Jordan.

Israel’s fifty day bombing offensive in Gaza devastated the infrastructure of this fragile land. According to a UN’s Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA situation report, published Aug. 26:

  •  10,224 Gazans were injured, including 3,106 children
  •  2,104 people were killed, 69 percent of the deaths civilian
  •  475,000 Gazans displaced as a result of Israel’s bombing campaign
  •  500,000 children, said the UN report, unable to start a new school year in September
  •  17,200 homes were destroyed or severely damaged by the Israeli bombing
  •  58 hospitals and clinics were damaged

Of these, 10,000 homes were totally destroyed, Corcoran told Arab News. “The difference between this war, and the one in 2009, it is four times worse in its destruction.

“Previously, the Israelis targeted Hamas and government buildings. This time they destroyed houses, factories and apartment buildings.”

Israel’s refusal to not give approval for US government grants for ANERA, and other NGOs, has exacerbated the problems there. “As of now, Israel has not given permission for cement and metal pipes, which are the materials we need to rebuild Gaza.”

“The US government approves our projects, including water and sewers, and then they have to pass it by Israel. Not only the project, but also, the specifications for all the materials we need.”

Israel must agree to anything US NGOs want to import to Gaza. “At this point, we’ve not received any approval from the Israel. They say ‘we’ll get back to you.’”

The attitude of many of our donors, including those in the Gulf, said Corcoran, is that they say they want to help, then add: “Why should we give you money, when Israel won’t let you rebuild?”

Once there is a protocol with Israel, they say they’ll help. “My concern is that the longer they wait, the more the world will forget the desperation here on the ground.”

WINTER IS COMING

Aside from shelter, ANERA’s president worries about Gaza’s infrastructure: “With the winter, you get rain; and the current sewer system can’t hold up, we’ll have sewerage in the streets and we’ll have problems with fresh water.”

Since the July bombing, clean water is unavailable in many Gazan neighborhoods, Corcoran explained. “In partnership with US AID, we shipped in bottled water by the truckload from Ramallah to Gaza.” After four weeks, they started shipping tanker trucks of water to individual neighborhoods.

Many of these people had their homes destroyed, which also included everything under the streets; “and water pumping stations, one after another, were destroyed.

“Entire neighborhoods do not have water. We’re talking about over 250,000 people who are entirely dependent of water coming in from tanker trucks,” he said.

TENTS’ ‘NAKBA’ MEMORIES

Where will Gazans live this winter? Corcoran said this poses a particularly touchy issue, as the Gazans who lost their homes refused to live in tents.

“They would not go into tents, symbolic of 1948 ‘Nakba’, when Israel annexed their land and over 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes. Tents remain a bitter symbol. “So, Gazans are setting up corrugated tin and wood buildings for some protection.”

Due to Israel’s importation restrictions, no massive programme for shelter has been implemented, said Corcoran, “There are different programs in the planning, but they are all waiting for final approval from the Israel.

“The Turkish government has offered to import prefabricated homes, but again, they’re waiting for the permission of the Israelis,” he said.

“Everything needed for rebuilding Gaza depends on Israel approval,” said Corcoran, while again reiterating that winter is approaching in the region. “The US government says they’re working with the Israel trying to find a speedy solution, but it is too slow for the people there on the ground.”

‘UTTER DESTRUCTION’ FOR MILES

The devastation reminds Corcoran of tsunami countries, where he previously worked. “There is utter destruction for miles, in some places, there is nothing to repair, it is totally destroyed.”

A huge frustration NGOs are facing, said Corcoran, “is that we normally don’t’ have to wait for building permits to begin reconstruction; but this time Israel says that it’s a security concern for them.”

WE HAVE MONEY, BUT NO PERMITS

The situation is stymied on the ground, said Corcoran. “Many international organizations have told me that (they) have money, but they don’t have cement, so none of us can repair clinics or preschools, or any buildings — because we don’t have the building materials.”

“My biggest fear,” said Corcoran “is that because of political turmoil in Palestine and Israel that the rebuilding of Gaza will fall off the radar, and this will drag on and on.”

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