Israel’s misleading storyline: Women activists as terrorists

19 Oct


Projecting unarmed, peaceful women activists as potential threats is yet another instance of the Zionist state spreading lies and misinformation to deceive the world. Image Credit: Niño Jose Heredia/©Gulf News

By Ramzy Baroud, Gulf News, 19 October 2016

‘We told them that we don’t have guns on board. We don’t even have food or money to take to the people of Gaza. This is not a humanitarian boat. All we are doing is taking hope to the devastated people of Gaza.”

These were the words of former Olympian and current PhD scholar, Leigh-Ann Naidoo from South Africa, describing her ordeal as she and 12 other women tried to reach Gaza on a small boat.

Their boat, adorned with Palestinian and international flags, was intercepted and boarded by Israeli navy commandos, who had succeeded thus far in ensuring that the air-tight siege on impoverished Gaza is a splendid success.

Gaza’s population, which has officially reached the two million-mark, is enduring under a decade-long siege. Not only is the population there suffering from lack of food and medicine, and students being denied access to their universities outside the region, but, according to recent research, 30 per cent of the population of the Strip suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“The most heart-breaking moment was as we approached the shore and people pointed out Gaza to us. You could see all the lights on the Israeli side, but on the Gaza side it was pitch black. Just complete darkness,” Naidoo said at a press conference at Johannesburg airport after she and her women comrades were released from Israeli custody.

Israel has repeatedly bombed Gaza’s electric grids and the siege has prevented sufficient supplies of fuel from reaching the blockaded area.

Naturally, Israel promoted an alternative reading of the same story.

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‘Overwhelming majority’ of Palestinian minors in Israeli custody are ‘tortured’

19 Oct
Ma’an New Agency report, Ramallah, West Bank, 18 October 2016

 The “overwhelming majority” of Palestinian minors held in Israel’s Megiddo and Ofer prisons have been tortured during their detention and interrogation, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said Tuesday, amid a marked increase in the incarceration and mistreatment of Palestinian children by Israel.

Lawyer for the committee Luay Ukka said in a statement that, after a visit to Ofer prison, he had noticed that the number of juvenile prisoners there had noticeably increased over the past month. 

Open reply to Murray McCully

19 Oct


As the Women’s Boat to Gaza was heading to challenge Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza recently, the Palestine Human Rights Campaign and Kia Ora Gaza wrote to Foreign Minister Murray McCully (above) asking him to demand that Israel allows to boat safe passage to its destination. McCully eventually replied a few days ago, long after Israeli navy illegally hijacked the boat in international waters, then detained and deported all the women on board. Here is Leslie Bravery’s (PHRC) response:

By Leslie Bravery, 18 October 2016

Dear Mr McCully,

Thank you for your reply of 16 October to our emails concerning the Women’s Boat to Gaza.

You say in your response that:

“New Zealand pursues a balanced and constructive approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. New Zealand supports a negotiated two-state solution, with Israel and a Palestinian state existing side by side, in peace and security.”

While Israel continues to blockade Gaza and rule the West Bank and East Jerusalem with implacable brutality, New Zealand insists that the Palestinians must negotiate directly with the Zionist regime, as if they were equal parties. Palestine is seeking full UN membership but, as you must know, in the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement the US would almost certainly veto a resolution calling for full UN membership for Palestine. Israel, therefore, plainly has every incentive to avoid signing any so-called peace agreement. Human rights are non-negotiable and the call for talks evades the principle that violations of international law must never be circumvented or given validity. On 29 November 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that there are no plans to deliver any land from West Bank Area C to Palestinians. In a meeting for Likud Ministers, he stressed that there will be no transfer of land to the Palestinian Authority, “not 40 thousand dunams, not 10 thousand, not one metre.” What dort of basis for negotiation is that? According to the Times of Israel, the President of the Zionist Federation of Australia, Danny Lamm, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency: “The New Zealand Foreign Minister is unfortunately misguided and in his attempt to promote peace has [passed off] blame on Israel when in fact there is no peace for one reason only: Israel’s enemies don’t want peace.” The urgent need for peace, human rights and international law all require that Israel immediately begin the process of ending its belligerent military Occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as the blockade of Gaza.

In a speech on28 September 2015, the New Zealand Minister of Defence, Gerry Brownlee, made the following observations of principle:

  1. “New Zealand’s approach to security, and particularly maritime security, is anchored in strong support for international laws of the sea.”
  2. “A rules based system is particularly important for ensuring continued freedom of navigation and collective maritime security.”

It is time to live up to these claims. The New Zealand Government must know that Israel does not have a very good record in regard to international maritime law. For example, in 1967 Israeli forces deliberately attacked a vessel they knew to be the American intelligence-gatheringship USS Liberty. At that time, Israel had been about to invade the Golan Heights but postponed the manoeuvre for 24 hours until it had disabled the US Navy vessel. The attack on USS Liberty killed 34 crew members, wounded 171 and severely damaged the vessel. The attack took place in international waters and involved Israeli Air Force jet fighter aircraft and Israeli Navy motor torpedo boats. The US Government went to enormous lengths to cover up the true enormity of the attack and the crew felt betrayed. An on line video is available that includes the real-time conversations between Israeli Air Force pilots and their controllers.

Rescue efforts the day after the USS liberty was attacked by Israeli forces.

Rescue efforts the day after the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty in 1967

That attack on USS Liberty illustrates most clearly that Israel has scant regard for international law but the New Zealand Government has chosen to side with Israel and support Israeli Navy hijacking over the rights to lawful passage in international waters. Mr McCully, you end your email with the following observation: “All New Zealanders are subject to local immigration laws and regulations overseas and being a New Zealand citizen does not lead to any special treatment. The New Zealand Government cannot intervene in the judicial processes of another country.”

What possible relevance can Israel’s judicial processes have regarding the right to free passage in international waters and the Palestinian people’s right to welcome friendly visitors? Israel does not own international waters and the Gaza Strip is not in Israel.

The UN Security Council has stood passively by and allowed Israel to turn the Gaza Strip into the largest concentration camp in history while subjecting the people of the West Bank and East Jerusalem to brutal military oppression. The Palestinian people are in desperate need and they look to us and the rest of the world to bring Israel to account. By choosing to condone and support the armed hijacking of the peaceful Women’s Boat to Gaza in international waters, the New Zealand Government has shamed our country, betrayed humanity and sadly undermined the principles of international law.

Yours sincerely,

Leslie Bravery

Palestine Human Rights Campaign Aotearoa/New Zealand

Interview with author Miko Peled

18 Oct

VIDEO: 15 October 2016

Acclaimed Israeli writer and activist Miko Peled talks with Witness Palestine Rochester.

Miko Peled has written “The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine” and he has traveled extensively, giving talks across the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand (2013), Germany and Switzerland. More information at


Green MP proud of Gaza flotilla protest

17 Oct


RadioNZ, 16 October 2016

Marama Davidson is proud of her protest on board a boat trying to reach Gaza, despite being criticised by the Prime Minister.

The Green Party MP was with 12 women, including two other parliamentarians, on the Women’s Boat to Gaza when it was intercepted by Israeli defence forces earlier this month.

The international activists on the Women’s Boat to Gaza aimed to peacefully protest at Israel’s decade-long blockade of the tiny enclave and draw attention to the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Israeli military personnel boarded the Zaytouna-Oliva which had set sail from Barcelona last month, Reuters reported. A military spokeswoman said no force was required to stop the vessel.

Prime Minister John Key described her detention as a “less than perfect look” for a New Zealand Member of Parliament.

Ms Davidson has told TV3’s The Hui she was not surprised by Mr Key’s response.

“Whenever he has his failure outlined to uphold human rights, he has to try and distract away from that.”

She said she was very proud of the people who were on the boat, including 72-year-old Mairead Maguire who was a Nobel peace laureate.

Ms Davidson said she remained committed to highlighting the plight of women and children in Gaza.

Women’s Boat to Gaza: ‘futile’ or ‘extremely important’?

16 Oct


Some of the participants of the international Women’s Boat to Gaza, the Zaytouna, before they departed Messina port, Sicily. New Zealand’s Marama Davidson MP can be seen top left.

The SundayStarTimes (SST) published an editorial last week rubbishing Green MP Marama Davidson’s participation in the international Women’s Boat to Gaza as ‘utterly futile’, even though the solidarity flotilla clearly attracted enormous global focus on Israel’s cruel blockade of Gaza, boosted morale in Gaza, and revitalised awareness and support for the Palestinian struggle around the world.
Israel’s illegal act of piracy by hijacking the little peace boat in international waters, detaining the women and deporting them, proved a lie to Israel’s claim that their blockade is not illegal collective punishment, but imposed to stop weapons from reaching Gaza.
In response Kia Ora Gaza offered the SST an opinion piece. The editor rejected this, but did publish a much shorter version as a letter to the editor in the paper today.

Below is the full article:

Before rushing to dismiss Green MP Marama Davidson’s participation in the Women’s Boat to Gaza as ‘utterly futile’ (Editorial SundayStarTimes 9 October), it might have been worthwhile considering the views of Palestinians who also seek an end to Israeli’s illegal and inhumane near 10 year siege of Gaza. Here are just a few of the many similar comments Kia Ora Gaza received this week:

unknown-2Yousef Aljamal, researcher and commentator, Gaza wrote on 10 Oct 2016: “The Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip welcome any efforts to end the siege and were eagerly waiting for the arrival of women on board the Zaytouna. It is the feeling of entrapment in Gaza that makes every single Gazan welcome such efforts to end the siege and gain our freedom again, so that we could get out of the biggest open air prison in the world.”

“At a time when governments worldwide are complicit in Israel’s occupation of Palestine, whether by their silence or by directly giving Israel military aid, it is timely for civil society to take the initiative to challenge Israel’s illegal siege imposed on two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip for 10 years now. International civil society can play a great role in ending Israel’s occupation and siege of Palestine. We have seen how civil society led the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and the Civil Rights movement in the US.”

unknownUniversity Professor, Dr Mosheer Amer, Gaza City (9 Oct 2016): “The Palestinian people especially in besieged Gaza have closely followed the news of the women’s boat and were hoping it would succeed in breaking the siege. Despite the Israeli piracy, people see these efforts as extremely important in breaking the siege and there is very broad support among the Palestinian people as they are reminding the world of the plight of the Gaza population and the criminal illegal siege imposed by the Israeli occupation.”

“Israel has always sought to divert the world’s attention away from what’s been going on in Gaza, especially its draconian measures aiming at suffocating the Gazans economically, restricting their movements in and out of Gaza and waging wars to kill people’s spirit of steadfastness and resistance against the occupier.”

“The women’s boat and other international solidarity efforts are much needed to counter such Israeli moves and to send the right message to all that the ongoing siege on Gaza is an affront to the world’s conscience and that the world shoulders a moral and political responsibility to end Israel’s control over the lives of the Palestinian people.”

“This also sends a message of hope and solidarity from all people of conscience around the world to the Palestinians that we stand with you against all forms of oppression and control and we are all united for the cause of justice and peace in Palestine.”

unknown-3Noor Harazeen, TV journalist, Gaza (12 October 2016) says: “I think such flotillas are very important to bring the attention back to Gaza and highlight the Israeli oppression. What happened to the flotillas is happening on daily basis for Palestinian fishermen who are being attacked and arrested even if they are fishing inside the imposed 6 nautical miles fishing zone.”

“Here in Gaza the situation in really bad, we are facing a lack of fuel and building materials. Everything is expensive. We get electricity for only 12 hours a day if we are lucky, and there is no freedom of movement as the borders are closed. All of these facts are affecting the people of Gaza; we are starving for some help, for some change, some hope, some support. When we hear about the flotillas we gain some hope that there are people out there who are thinking about us and who are willing to help us – it brings us some happiness even if they cannot reach our shores.. and this feeling is precious for the people here.”

unknown-1Palestinian author Ramzy Baroud wrote in the Palestine Chronicle (11 Oct 2016) “We are glad our sisters are finally home, and we know our work is not done until the illegal blockade is lifted and our governments’ complicity with the Israeli occupation ends. Please continue to support the work of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, and help spread our message of hope.”

Yours sincerely,

Roger Fowler,Organiser,Kia Ora Gaza


Please note: With generous public support, Kia Ora Gaza facilitated Marama Davidson’s participation in the Women’s Boat to Gaza, and two MaoriTV journalists on the Freedom Flotilla last year, plus Kiwi teams on three solidarity land convoys that successfully broke through the siege on Gaza in 2010 and 2012. Kia Ora Gaza has also sponsored a range of humanitarian projects in Gaza.


Is Israel gearing up for another offensive in Gaza?

13 Oct

trtworld-nid-205316-fid-239752A Palestinian woman cries at a site in Gaza City that was hit by an Israeli airstrike on October 6, 2016. Photo by: AFP

By Ben White, TRTWorld, 13 October 2016

Ben White is a journalist and author of three books on Palestine, including most recently ‘The 2014 Gaza War: 21 Questions & Answers’.

The tightening of the Israeli blockade in Gaza has restricted life on the ground while intensified air strikes and a crackdown on aid work has residents worried about what might lie ahead.

More than two years have passed since the conclusion of ‘Operation Protective Edge’, Israel’s most recent, and most devastating, offensive against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Superficially, things remain calm – but disturbing developments in recent months suggest that the Israeli government may be preparing for a renewed – and even more brutal – attack on the enclave.

There are three clearly identifiable trends in terms of a shift in Israeli policy towards Gaza.

First, despite rhetoric to the contrary, aspects of the ongoing, and illegal, blockade have tightened. This has included “a sharp increase in the number of security blocks applied to traders in late 2015” as documented by Israeli NGO Gisha. Since then, “and with greater frequency over the past several months”, Palestinians are being “routinely denied” exit permits.

In July, Israeli newspaper Haaretz described how “restrictions have been tightened on Palestinians seeking to depart the Gaza Strip and on imports permitted into the territory.” This included, the paper said, a prohibition on “certain businessmen from importing their merchandise into Gaza” on the grounds of unspecified “security reasons.”

Earlier this month, a senior official at the Gaza Chamber of Commerce and Industry declared the current situation to be “the worst ever.”

United Nations data confirms the blockade tightened in July, while in August, just 110 truckloads of goods exited Gaza, less than half the figure for January, and just 14 percent of 2005 levels.

In April, the UN said the most urgent step required for the reconstruction of Gaza remains “the removal of [Israeli] restrictions on the import of building materials, towards a full lifting of the blockade.”

A second, related, development has been the Israeli authorities’ crackdown on NGOs and aid workers operating in Gaza. The most prominent example of this are the arrests and prosecutions of World Vision staffer Mohammad el-Halabi and UNDP engineer Waheed al-Bursh, both charged with varying degrees of support for Hamas. Halabi’s case in particular, has prompted concern; the charge-sheet alleges a fantastic conspiracy, the numbers don’t add up, he was held without a lawyer for three weeks, and his trial is being conducted entirely in secret.

In September, Foreign Policy described how “many aid workers” believe the case to be “part of a broader policy shift in Israel aimed at stifling humanitarian work and economic life in Gaza.” Yet, as the piece notes, “even before Halabi was indicted…NGOs said they were feeling unexpected pressure from Israeli authorities.” Three-fourths of “senior employees from NGOs and UN agencies” spoken to by Foreign Policy “said it had recently become more difficult to work in Gaza.”

trtworld-gallery-nid-205316-fid-239775Israel’s military struck several Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip after a rocket launched from the Palestinian enclave hit a nearby Israeli city.

The third compelling trend this year has been an intensification of Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians in the ‘no-go zones’, or access restricted areas (ARA).

In April-June, for example, there were an average of more than 90 shooting incidents per month by Israeli forces in the ARA, according to UN data – more than double the equivalent average figures for the last six months of 2015. Commenting on the figures, a senior UN official said the “victims” of these “almost daily shooting incidents” are typically “farmers, fishermen, children, and demonstrators.”

These attacks occur both on land, close to the border fence, and also at sea, where Palestinian fishermen working in the Gaza Strip’s territorial waters are frequently attacked, harassed, and obstructed by Israeli naval forces enforcing unilaterally-imposed restrictions. Citing human rights group Al-Mezan, Reuters recently reported that 113 Gaza fishermen have been detained by Israel this year, compared with 41 in the same period of 2015. Detainees report that they are pressurised by Israeli forces to become collaborators.

Against this backdrop, the briefings being put out by the Israeli military (via their faithful stenographers known as newspaper security correspondents) are worthy of note. Last month, a “senior IDF officer” told the Times of Israel that Gaza was heading towards disaster – but that Hamas’s “Islamic dictatorship”, not the blockade (which wasn’t mentioned), is to blame for the lack of reconstruction. “An outburst [of violence] ,” he warned, “in our opinion, is just a matter of time.”

Meanwhile, Israel’s response to sporadic rocket fire emanating from the Gaza Strip is intensifying. In August, a single rocket strike on Sderot by a Salafist group was followed by dozens of Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, described by one Israeli defence correspondent as a “clear escalation.” Two separate rocket strikes – one hitting Sderot without causing injuries and the other hitting open land – on October 5 and 6 similarly produced multiple Israeli attacks on Hamas sites. In response, Hamas warned that it would not stand idle if Israel’s escalation continues.

On October 6, Israeli analyst Amos Harel, in a piece questioning the wisdom of Israel’s punitive strikes policy, suggested that “as long as Israel’s strikes don’t kill any Palestinian civilians, Hamas can afford to exercise restraint.” That same day, Israeli media speculated that there may soon be a return to extrajudicial – or ‘targeted’ – killings in Gaza.

Back in June, an anonymous Israeli official declared that “the next confrontation [in the Gaza Strip] must be the last in terms of Hamas’s regime.” That individual was believed to be none other than Avigdor Lieberman, defense minister. With the pressure on Gaza only increasing, Israel may be looking to, slowly, provoke a full-scale offensive that would aim to remove Hamas entirely.

Recall how decisions taken by the Israeli authorities in the first half of 2014 – such as opposing the Palestinian unity government and obstructing a solution to the wages of civil servants in Gaza – were a key part of the lead up to ‘Operation Protective Edge’.

As Israeli newspaper publisher Amos Schocken told an interviewer last year, “the [2014] war broke out because Israel pushed [Hamas] into a corner, with the siege and the intolerable situation in Gaza.” Is history now repeating itself?


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