“Women conquer the sea to break the siege of Gaza”

12 Feb

Marianne_Gotemburgo_04The Marianne heading for Gaza with an international crew last year.

PRESS RELEASE – Women’s Boat to Gaza project launched, 11 February 2016

Freedom Flotilla Coalition has launched the “Women’s Boat to Gaza” project: a boat, led by a female crew, is going to challenge the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Kia Ora Gaza is a partner in this project and facilitated the participation of two Kiwi journalists on the previous Freedom Flotilla to challenge Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza last year. Their boat, the ‘Marianne’ was hi-jacked by Israel military in international waters and all aboard were arrested and deported. See a link to the MaoriTV documentary in the sidebar of this website.

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Israel denies European Parliament delegation access to Gaza

12 Feb

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Irish law maker, Martina Anderson, with colleagues Matt Carthy MEP and Lynn Boylan MEP during a visit to Hebron in the West Bank in 2014. [Photo: Derry Journal]

Middle East Monitor report, 11 February 2016 14:17

‘What does Israel aim to hide?’

A delegation from the European Parliament was blocked by the Israeli authorities from entering Gaza on Tuesday, the EU said in a statement. The lawmakers, who are part of the working group of the European Parliament Delegation for relations with Palestine, arrived in Jerusalem on Monday and was due to visit Gaza to assess the destruction caused in the 2014 conflict and the reconstruction efforts funded by the European Union.

According to the statement, a copy of which was sent to MEMO’s reporter in Gaza, no justification was given to explain the refusal.

Delegation Chair Irish MEP Martina Anderson stated: “The systematic denial by Israel of access to Gaza to European Parliament delegations is unacceptable. The European Parliament has not been able to access Gaza since 2011.”

Anderson added: “This raises questions: what does the Israeli government aim to hide? We shall not give up on the Gazan people.”

The Delegation was led by Anderson and included six other lawmakers: Margrete Auken (Vice-Chair of Delegation, Greens), Roza Thun (EPP), Eugen Freund (S&D), Patrick Le Hyaric (GUE/NGL), Rosa D’Amato (EFDD) and Konstantinos Papadakis (NI).

Gaza has disappeared – another magic trick by Israel

12 Feb
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Schooling among the rubble in Gaza

 

By Miko Peled, American Herald Tribune, 8 February 2016

Has anyone seen Gaza lately? A Palestinian I met the other day told he was from Gaza, he told me about his eighty year old mother living in horrid conditions there, so I decided to look through the newspapers, surf the news online and run through TV channels, local, international and I even looked at news from the Middle East, but all was in vain. I can’t find Gaza, not a single word, not a bit of news anywhere. I know it was there at one time, so I desperately decided to look through old notes, vintage news clips old videos and clearly there are signs that it was there at one time, but now I can find no sign of its existence. Once again, in a magic trick of epic proportions Israel made Gaza disappear.

As I write these words, I sit in front of my computer screen scratching my head. How did it disappear? Where did Gaza go? Almost two million people vanished into thin air. Now I suppose there is no need to worry about the tens of thousands of people injured in Israeli attacks and then forsaken with no care. We can all conveniently forget about the countless children traumatized by the constant humming of drones and the terror of missiles destroying homes and killing family members. We can stop worrying whether or not there are sufficient supplies of medicine reaching the besieged people or if there is any electricity to keep people warm and maintain hospitals. We can rest assured that there are no more babies born prematurely who are likely to die due to lack of proper postnatal care.

When Gaza was there it was really quite terrible. There were people there with no access to clean water, there was food insecurity and thousands were homeless because Israel destroyed their homes. What made it even worse is that five minutes from where Gaza used to be, Israelis were living perfectly secure, with plenty of food and water, no shortage of electricity, warmth in the winter and cooling in the hot summers. Hospitals were functioning and medicine was available for anyone who required help. But the people in Gaza had no access to any of this because Israel did not allow them out of what used to be a huge concentration camp. With few exceptions, Israel also didn’t permit people who wanted to go to Gaza to help, to do so, Israel didn’t allow food, water or medicine in and when the people in Gaza dug tunnels in order to smuggle food and other necessities, these tunnels were destroyed by Israel’s great ally, President/Generalisimo Abdel Fatah Sisi of Egypt.

Before Gaza disappeared there would be occasional rocket fire from Gaza and attempts by Palestinians to fight off the Israeli military. The rockets were called “Qassam” rockets and the fighters were called terrorists. Even though there were cases in other parts of the world where people who fought for their freedom were called heroes, this never happened in Gaza. Young fighters in Gaza who sacrificed everything and died attempting to fight the Israeli war machine were never called heroes, because, and one can only guess because Gaza is no longer there to verify, but one assumes it is because in this world in which we live, Palestinians are not permitted to be heroes. No, Palestinians are only accepted as victims or as terrorists. Heroism is not permitted for the people who used to exist in what used to be Gaza.

The gentleman I met the other day who said he was from Gaza described a story that was heart wrenching, but since it cannot be verified I have to doubt its validity. It cannot be possible that such horror, such suffering exists only minutes from Israeli towns and cities, and barely an hour drive from Tel-Aviv and no one would report it, not a single news outlet would pick it up. It is inconceivable that almost two million people would be caged in like animals, living in conditions that can only be described as inhumane – and the world would be completely silent. After all the enlightened Western civilization, the developed world, the major countries of the world wouldn’t just sit there and say nothing, do nothing and allow this to continue. After all, we are not talking about some remote hilltop in Afghanistan or some unheard of village in Kurdistan or Iran we are talking about Israel. Yes, Israel, an ally of the US, a country hailed by the UK, France, Germany as the only democracy in the Middle East.

Had Gaza and the nearly two million people who used to live in it hadn’t mysteriously disappeared, someone would have demanded that Israel, the recipient of billions of dollars in foreign aid would use that money to provide relief to the people in Gaza. That it would use these billions of dollars to build homes for the homeless, provide food for the hungry, medicine and medical care for the sick and injured and provide comfort for the hundreds of thousands of traumatized children who have been emotionally scarred because of the brutality of Israeli terrorism. The world would demand that those within Israel who were responsible for the terrible crimes committed by the Israeli army in Gaza be brought to justice, pay for their crimes against innocents.

Israel had used magic tricks to fool the world before, but this time it really outdid itself. Does anyone remember the Iran smoke screen? The nuclear threat that never was? The existential threat that never existed? Yes, these were all quite amazing and very effective. They fooled millions of people the world over. But to make Gaza disappear is an even greater achievement. Its more complex than the “self-defense” trick where Israel bombed Gaza and murdered thousands of people who never hurt a soul, and then convinced the world that murdering people in Gaza was an act of self-defense.

I think of this gentleman from Gaza, Mohammad is his name, I’m amazed. He is a highly educated, successful man, he has seven children and he works hard to provide them with an education. One of his daughters is a heart surgeon. He came up to me after a recent lecture in Huntsville, Alabama and I was moved by his story. He even bought a copy of my book, and as he leafed through it and saw the photo of the Palestinian hero Abu Ali Shahin he told me that Abu Ali was his uncle from his mother’s side. His mother’s family came from the village of Besshit, the same village, now destroyed by Israel, from where Abu Ali Shahin told me that he came. So I am puzzled. Mohammad told me a story that was real, painful. He told me he can’t visit his mother, nor can he send her the medicine she needs but cannot find in Gaza. So is it possible that Gaza didn’t disappear? Could it be that it is still there and no one talks about it?

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Miko Peled is an Israeli writer and activist living in the US. He was born and raised in Jerusalem. His father was the late Israeli General Matti Peled. Driven by a personal family tragedy to explore Palestine, its people and their narrative. He has written a book about his journey from the sphere of the privileged Israeli to that of the oppressed Palestinians. His book is titled “The General’s Son, Journey of an Israeli in Palestine.” Peled speaks nationally and internationally on the issue of Palestine – he was a keynote speaker at the NZ Conference on Palestine in 2013. Peled supports the creation of a single democratic state in all of Palestine, he is also a firm supporter of BDS – boycotts, divestment & sanctions.

Israeli troops attack children with teargas & bullets

11 Feb

892232637-1Israeli troops attack schoolchildren with teargas & live rounds in al-Khalil, near Hebron, West Bank.

Palestine Information Centre report, Al-Khalil, 9 February 2016

Dozens of Palestinian schoolchildren in al-Khalil city choked on teargas on Tuesday morning after they were violently attacked by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF).

A PIC news reporter said the Israeli occupation troops attacked Palestinian schoolchildren and protesters near the Tareq Ibn Ziad School with live rounds, rubber bullets, and teargas canisters, sparking violent clashes in the area.

A Palestinian civilian sustained bullet wounds and was rushed to the al-Khalil public hospital for urgent treatment. Dozens of Palestinian schoolchildren sustained critical breathing disorders due to heavy teargas inhalation.

The Israeli occupation troops further rolled into residential neighbourhoods in al-Khalil and sealed off the main entrances to local towns and villages with makeshift roadblocks, where Palestinian vehicles and passengers were stopped and searched. The IOF further stormed al-Khalil’s northern town of Beit Ummar in several army jeeps and wreaked havoc on Palestinian shops.

Gaza: A ticking time bomb

10 Feb

x-(1)Much of be-seiged Gaza remains in ruins since Israel’s 51-day bombardment in 2014 [File photo]

By Dr Ramzy Baroud, Arab News, 9 February 2016

Ramzy [Author Dr Ramzy Baroud will be a keynote speaker at the NZ Conference on Palestine at the Auckland Town Hall Concert Chamber on Sunday 3 April 2016. Ed]

It is not true that only three wars have taken place since Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006 in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Other wars that were deemed insignificant or “skirmishes” also took place. Operation Returning Echo in March 2012, for example, killed and wounded over 100 people. But since the death toll, relative to the other major onslaughts seemed trivial, it was not cited as “war,” per se.

According to this logic, so-called operations Cast Lead (2008-2009), Pillar of Defense (2012) and the deadliest of them all, Protective Edge (2014) were serious enough to be included in any relevant discussion, especially when the prospective new Israeli war on Gaza is considered. It is important to denote that most of the media adheres to Israel’s designations of the war, not those of Palestinians. For example, Gazans refer to their last confrontation with Israel as the “Al-Furqan Battle,” a term we almost never hear repeated with reference to the war.

Observing the Israeli war discourse as the central factor in understanding the war against the Resistance surpasses that of language into other areas. The suffering in Gaza has never ceased, not since the last war, the previous one or the one before that. But only when Israel begins to mull over war as a real option, do many of us return to Gaza to discuss the various violent possibilities that lie ahead.

The problem of relegating Gaza until Israeli bombs begin to fall is part and parcel of Israeli collective thinking. Gideon Levy, one of the very few sympathetic Israeli journalists in mainstream newspapers wrote about this in a recent article in Haaretz [an Israeli daily newspaper]

“The addiction to fear and the eternal wallowing in terror in Israel suddenly reminded one of the existence of the neighboring ghetto,” he wrote in reference to Gaza and sounding of Israeli war drums.

In fact, Israel’s exceedingly violent past in Gaza does not hinge on Hamas’ relative control of the terribly poor and besieged place, nor is it, as per conventional wisdom, also related to Palestinian factionalism. Certainly, Hamas’ strength there is hardly an incentive for Israel to leave Gaza alone, and Palestinians’ pitiful factionalism rarely helps the situation. However, Israel’s problem is with the very idea that there is a single Palestinian entity that dares challenge Israel’s dominance, and dares to resist.

Moreover, the argument that armed resistance, in particular, infuriates Israel the most is also incorrect. Violent resistance may speed up Israel’s retaliation and the intensity of its violence, but as we are currently witnessing in the West Bank, no form of resistance has ever been permissible, not now, not since the Palestinian Authority was essentially contracted to control the Palestinian population, and certainly not since the start of the Israeli military occupation in 1967.

Israel wants to have complete monopoly over violence, and that is the bottom line.

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The mouse finally roared

2 Feb

2015-10_netanyahu-ban-ki-moonBan Ki-moon’s statements about occupation prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accuse the UN secretary-general of “encouraging terror.”

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 1 February 2016

[Note: Ali Abunimah will be a keynote speaker at the 2016 NZ Conference on Palestine, Auckland Town Hall Concert Chamber on Sunday 3 April. Ed]

The mouse finally roared.

Or so some thought, when last week UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon diagnosed the root cause of the current Palestinian youth uprising in the occupied West Bank.

“As oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation,” Ban said in a 26 January statement to the Security Council.

“After nearly 50 years of occupation,” Ban added the following day, “Palestinians are losing hope.”

“They are angered by the stifling policies of the occupation. They are frustrated by the strictures on their daily lives. They watch as Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, expand and expand,” he said.

All of this was couched in “even-handed” language: Ban strongly condemned violence by Palestinians, but merely expressed “concern” about “clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces.”

He said nothing about Israel’s policy of extrajudicial executions of Palestinians that has claimed dozens of lives since October.

Ban restricted himself to describing Israel’s occupation and decrying its impact on Palestinians and the prospects for the fabled “two-state solution,” but did not pass any moral or legal judgment on Israel’s actions.

Israeli accusations

Still, his criticism, limited though it was, did contain some undeniable truths. But even that was too much for Israel to take.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the secretary-general of “encouraging terror.”

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” ‘State of Facebook’ Greatest MidEast Threat to Israel”

2 Feb

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Former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate Amos Yadlin. Photo: Wikipedia.

Algemainer.com report, 31 January 2016

Ex-IDF Intel Chief: ‘State of Facebook’ Greatest Mideast Threat to Israel

“The most dangerous nation in the Middle East acting against Israel is the state of Facebook,” said the former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate on Friday, according to Hebrew news website nrg.

“It has a lot more power than anybody who’s operating an armed force,” said Amos Yadlin, who is also the executive director at the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies. “Unlike before, there’s no longer an existential military threat facing Israel. Rather, it’s a strategic threat.”

Yadlin said there was not enough being invested in confronting the scourge of anti-Israel material, including antisemitism and incitement to violence against Israelis, circulating on social media.

Yadlin was speaking during last Friday’s CyberTech Conference in Tel Aviv, which actually coincided with a cyber attack against Israel’s electric grid that Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz called “severe.”

Public Security and Information Minister Gilad Erdan, meanwhile, said the government had set aside NIS 100 million to “develop solutions to the battle on social media,” according to nrg.

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