Islamophobia and the elephant in the room

21 Mar

A woman places flowers at a memorial for the victims of the Christchurch massacre. (Photo: FIle)

By Jamal Kanj, Opinion: Palestine Chronicle, 21 March 2019

Were you surprised by Masjid Al-Noor massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand? If your answer is yes, I would like to be the first to welcome you to our planet earth. According to FBI records, hate crimes against Muslims have increased by as much as five folds since 2001.

The massacre in New Zealand, or the murders of shop-owners (some were Indian Sikhs suspected of being Muslims) and mosque bombings in the US, or Quebec City mosque massacre and the London van ramming into a crowd of worshippers in 2017. To name just few, these were not abstract singular events, but the outcome of organized virulent campaigns to demonize Muslims in the West.

It is impossible to have constructive discourse on Islamophobia absent of confronting the elephant in the room: Islamophobia is the creation of an unholy alliance between political Zionism and neocons in the West. The depraved alliance made it easy for Islamophobes to normalize Muslim hate and castigate Islam as “radical” religion.

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Will Christchurch be our wakeup call?

21 Mar

Atta Elayyan (33) was killed at the Christchurch terrorist attack in New Zealand. (Photo: via Social Media)

By Rifat Audeh, Opinion: Palestine Chronicle, 21 March 2019

Yesterday I met my cousin, although he was killed in cold blood a few days ago, at the Christchurch terror attack in New Zealand. I “met” him upon visiting his aunt’s house and learned much more about this ambitious 33-year-old whose life was cut so short.

While my cousin Atta Elayyan lived in Kuwait and later New Zealand, I was living in Jordan and North America, and we never crossed paths. During my visit, I heard about how kind and supportive he was to his family, how intelligent and ambitious he was as a tech entrepreneur establishing his own company, and how energetic and athletic he was as a member of New Zealand’s national futsal team.

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‘Endless Trip to Hell’

18 Mar

Israel jails 100s of Palestinian boys a year. These are their testimonies…

[Breaking the Silence]

By Netta Ahituv, Haaretz, 16 March 2019

They’re seized in the dead of night, blindfolded and cuffed, abused and manipulated to confess to crimes they didn’t commit. Every year Israel arrests almost 1,000 Palestinian youngsters, some of them not yet 13.

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Solidarity from Gaza for Christchurch victims

16 Mar

Palestinians in Gaza went out to the streets in solidarity with Christchurch Mosque shooting victims last night. Gaza Post 16 March 2019


NZ terror attack severely affected the Palestinians

The New Zealand terror attack severely affected on the Palestinians

By Tareq al-Shareef, Gaza Post, 16 March 2019

Earlier this morning a man in his late 20’s stormed into two mosques full of Muslim worshipers in New Zealand leaving 49 dead and dozens severely injured. 

He streamed a live video of the terrorist attack on his own Facebook page which showed him firing Indiscriminately at men, women, and children from zero distance. 

A number of Palestinians were killed and others were injured in a terror attack that targeted two mosques in New Zealand on Friday, says Palestine ambassador to Australia Ezat abed-Al Hadi. 

Palestinian Waseem abed-Razeq and his son, from the occupied Palestinian Tubas city, have been critically injured during the terror attack that targeted two mosques in New Zealand today.

Another Palestinian was dead, he is the Palestinian doctor Mohammed Atta Eleyan and his son were injured in the terror attack on the two mosques in New Zealand. According to local media sources.

The attack led to the killing of at least 49 Muslims and seriously injured other dozens in Christchurch, New Zealand, said New Zealand government.

Zero tolerance of bigotry, racism and hate groups

16 Mar

VIDEO: What does the Christchurch attacks mean to a Muslim from New Zealand? TRT World producer Mohamed Hassan, who grew up in New Zealand, reflects on the terror attacks on two Mosques in Christchurch.

New Zealanders everywhere are standing united in total condemnation of the cowardly and horrific terrorist attack that killed 49 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch yesterday. As we mourn the loss of so many innocent lives, we must step up our commitment to respect diversity and stand firm against all forms of hatred and bigotry, and refuse to allow this tragic violence to divide us.

Massive vigils, rallies and actions are planned throughout the country [see the Spinoff message below].

The Khadija Leadership Network has called for a vigil in Auckland’s grassed area at Aotea Square at 2pm today, to honour the lives of those we have lost.

People from all communities and faiths are invited to join the vigil: “We can stand together to offer aroha and show we are not divided by this.”

The line-up of speakers includes:

  • Marama Davidson, co-leader of the Green Party
  • Golriz Ghahraman, Green MP,
  • John McDonald, Methodist Mission,
  • Hon Carmel Sepuloni,
  • Hon David Parker,
  • Auckland Mayor, Phil Goff

Kia Ora Gaza promotes justice, human rights, peace and freedom for the people of Palestine.

All manifestations of racism and discrimination are the antithesis of justice, human rights, peace and freedom. Kia Ora Gaza steadfastly opposes and will not tolerate any act or discourse which adopts, promotes or fuels, any form of bigotry and racism, including anti-Arab racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, white supremacism, sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia. Its time to “call it out and shut it down!”

We express our most sincere condolences to all of those impacted by this horrific violence, and stand alongside all fellow New Zealanders to celebrate our rich diversity and demand zero tolerance of bigotry and racism and hate groups.

 

Christchurch terror attack: How to support NZ’s Muslim communities

The Spinoff | Staff writers 16 March 2019

Mass murder at mosques in Christchurch on Friday targeted Muslim New Zealanders at worship. Here are some things you can do to support a devastated community:

Donate to the victims and families

The New Zealand Islamic Information Centre (NZIIC) has set up a crowdfunding campaign on Launchgood with all funds raised distributed to the victims and families affected by the Christchurch attack. All proceeds will go towards helping with their immediate, short-term needs. “No amount of money will bring back their loved ones, but we do hope to lessen their burden in some way,” says NZIIC.

The New Zealand Council of Victim Support Groups has also set up a crowdfunding campaign on Givealittle. Victim Support says it will use all donations received to the page to provide support and resources for people affected by the Christchurch shootings and their family members.

The Al Manar trust has launched an emergency appeal for victims of the Christchurch attack. “It is a very tragic situation in Christchurch,” the page reads. “Many of our beloved brothers and sisters were martyred. This is to offer a simple help from the community around New Zealand to support the affected families.”

A halal food drop to support the Muslim community is happening in Christchurch on Saturday afternoon. Food donations can be taken to Theos Fisheries on Riccarton Road between 12pm and 3pm.

Attend a vigil

“We all share the sorrow from this tragedy and urge all New Zealanders to stay calm and united,” says Ikhlaq Kashkari of the New Zealand Muslim Association. “We cannot allow these types of people to divide our community.”

NORTH ISLAND

In Auckland, a peace vigil will be taking place at Aotea Square on Saturday at 2pm.

Another vigil is planned at Aotea Square next Friday (March 22) to “remember the precious lives unjustly taken from us, and in total rejection of Islamophobia and violence.”

Bringing Light to Our Darkest Hour’ is happening at Takapuna Beach in Auckland on Saturday (March 16) 8-10pm.

Hamilton’s Love to Christchurch Vigil is scheduled for 8pm Saturday at Claudelands Park.

In Hastings, Ngāti Kahungunu leaders have organised a public prayer session for Sunday (March 17) at Waipatu Marae. “Nau mai haere mai,” the iwi have said. “Come along and join in prayer for our Christchurch people who are suffering.”

Haven Falls funeral home have opened their chapels in Henderson, Wellington and Whangarei “for our Muslim brothers and sisters.” There will also be a public service held at each site on Saturday 16 at 7pm.

SOUTH ISLAND

Christchurch has a vigil to “remember those who lost their lives in the mosque attacks in Christchurch on 15-3-19 and show that hate can’t divide us” on Thursday March 21.

Nelson Race Unity Day will be on Sunday (17 March) in Victory Square, Nelson from 11am-4pm

Dunedin has a vigil planned for Thursday (March 21) in the Octagon hosted by Amnesty Otago. 

The Invercargill Vigil for Peace and Solidarity is taking place Sunday (March 17) from 11am-12pm

Please keep an eye on the pages for updates; some details may change. Let us know if there is a vigil happening in your area and we’ll include it – info@thespinoff.co.nz

Follow police advice

For anyone concerned about friends and family following the Christchurch terrorist attack, New Zealand Police have asked people to call 0800 115 019.

Police also wish to notify the public of the Restoring Family Links (RFL) website where people can register missing persons or register themselves as alive. The RFL website is a tool managed by the Red Cross where the public can self-register so family and friends know they are safe.

Police are also advising not to watch or circulate the distressing footage online relating to the Christchurch attack. “We would strongly urge that the link not be shared. We are working to have any footage removed.” Facebook is urging people to report all instances to them so their systems can block the video from being shared.

Share support helplines

The Aotearoa Resettled Community Coalition has set up a number of support lines run by multilingual volunteers in Christchurch. You can find them all here. “The events of today in Christchurch are distressing,” wrote the Canterbury District Health Board on Facebook. “If you or someone you know needs mental wellbeing support or advice then call or text 1737 any time day or night to talk to a trained counsellor.” This page has also been set up to republish messages of support for the Muslim community in New Zealand.

Open your doors

With mosques instructed to close their doors nationwide, it’s possible many people will be looking for a place to congregate. Make like the Te Atatū Baptist church in Auckland and open your doors to people in your community, even if it’s just for a cup of tea and a chat. In Auckland, six community centres are open this weekend for people to pray, connect and grieve – Te Atatu Peninsula Community Centre, New Lynn Community Centre, Ellen Melville Centre, Wesley Community Centre , Onehunga Community Centre and Te Puke O Tara Community Centre.

Condemn racism

Call out casual racism. Report Islamophobic and xenophobic comments. Read this guide from Amnesty on how to tell someone you love they are being racist. Take action. Aro Against Racism Ōtautahi has been set up following the attacks to fight racism through positive action and kōrero. “We believe that only through actively dismantling the parts of our culture which oppress people of colour can we truly move toward a city and world without racism.”

Donate to Shakti

Shakti is a non-profit organisation serving migrant and refugee women. Shakti, meaning strength, works to end all forms of violence and discrimination against women of colour. It supports women to overcome the barriers that come with migration and intergenerational bonds of cultural oppression.

Volunteer for The Red Cross

Contact your local Red Cross and see what they need. Volunteer tasks may include setting up a home for a refugee family, helping them with everyday admin such as enrolments, budgeting and shopping, and generally welcoming them into New Zealand.  

Support Shama

In Hamilton, the Shama Ethnic Women’s Centre Trust is a social service agency providing support, advocacy, and programmes in order to empower all ethnic women, their children and their families.

Volunteer to teach 

English Language Partners New Zealand has a volunteer teaching programme providing free English lessons to former refugees and migrants. They will train you to provide those who need it with the language skills and confidence necessary to integrate and participate fully in Aotearoa.

Post script: Marama Davidson, co-leader of the Green Party addresses the huge gathering at the Auckland solidarity vigil this afternoon.

They came in their thousands…

Israeli forces raid school, injure dozens of students

15 Mar

Ma’an News Agency, Hebron, 14 March 2019

Dozens of Palestinian students suffered from tear-gas inhalation, on Wednesday, after Israeli forces raided the premises of an elementary school in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron.

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Video: Israeli soldiers beat up Palestinian detainees

14 Mar

Footage of Israeli soldiers beating and humiliating a Palestinian father and son prisoners tied up and blindfolded on the floor of a military jeep was released by an Israeli military court on Tuesday, Haaretz reported.

In the video [above], the soldiers are seen continuously smacking the heads of the father and son, laughing and telling them “it’s your party”, and repeatedly ordering them to “say hello” to the camera.

The Jaffa Military Court – which last week convicted three soldiers of aggravated assault and aggravated battery – yesterday cleared the video for publication, lifting a gag order imposed by the Israeli Army, the Times of Israel has reported.

Both Palestinians were taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem immediately after the incident happened on 8 January. One was beaten so severely he was hospitalised for three days, Haaretz, citing the court indictment, reported on Sunday.

All five soldiers were found guilty and sentenced to between two and six months in jail.

Comment from acclaimed writer, Gideon Levy from his recent column in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper:

Israeli Soldiers Who Beat Detained Palestinians Are Part of a Bigger Evil 

Most moral army in the world? Keep tripping.

The Netzah Yehuda soldiers convicted of beating up prisoners are not exceptions. What took place between Givat Assaf and Abu Shukhaydam occurs every night and it’s only the absence of documentation that prevents the expose of the pure evil on the part of the world’s most moral army.

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Netanyahu: Israel ‘not a state of all its citizens’ 

14 Mar

…this is what Apartheid looks like

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [ODED BALILTY/AFP/Getty Images]

Middle East Monitor, 13 March 2019

Israel’s Prime Minister reiterated on Tuesday that Israel is a Jewish state for the Jewish people alone, Israeli media have reported. The so-called Israeli Arabs, insisted Benjamin Netanyahu, do not need another state.

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This is what Apartheid looks like – UK firefighters outraged

12 Mar

UK Fire Brigades union demand action after Palestinian children die in blaze as Israel blocks fire engine access

Shocking video footage of fire engine blocked by Israeli military checkpoint last week.

By Steve Sweeney, Morning Star (UK), 8 March 2019

BRITAIN’S Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has demanded their government take action after two Palestinian children were killed in a fire on Wednesday as Israeli authorities blocked the fire brigade from reaching them. [ See earlier report: https://kiaoragaza.wordpress.com/2019/03/07/two-palestinian-children-killed-in-blaze-after-israel-blocks-fire-brigade/ ]

Three-year-old Wael Rabaji and his 18-month-old sister Malak Rabaji died after a blaze at their home in Hebron’s Old City in the occupied West Bank.

A third child suffered serious injuries and remained in intensive care in the Hebron government hospital according to Dr Walid Zalloum. [Ed. More recent reports have since announced that the third child has tragically succumbed to his severe burns. Wafa 8 March 2019]

Video footage showed a fire engine racing to the scene being blocked by Israeli soldiers as it made its way down a narrow street. Locals were heard shouting to the soldiers to “open the gate quickly, for the children.” [See video above]

Soldiers continued to block the path of the fire engine preventing it from reaching the burning building leaving the children trapped inside.

One of the children is understood to have died at the scene with another dying in hospital from the effects of the fire. Police spokesman Colonel Loai Arziqat confirmed in a press statement that two children had died, but did not release further details.

Wael and Malak Rabaji

Israeli forces frequently stop emergency vehicles in the occupied territories. According to Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), Israel has prevented ambulances from crossing checkpoints on 123 occasions since 2015. There were 386 attacks against Red Crescent teams across the occupied territories during the same period, with 105 ambulances damaged.

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The world has lost a beautiful soul

9 Mar

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition is deeply saddened by the death of Divina Levrini in Sweden a few days ago. She was a good friend and shipmate to many of us who sailed with her on the vessels  Freedom and Al Awda in 2018 or met her in different ports. Divina was a passionate advocate for justice, a talented musician and gifted communicator who touched many lives. We mourn her early loss and extend our heartfelt condolences to her family and friends.

Divina pre-recorded this ‘SOS’ video message that was broadcast on social media after the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla boat, the Al Awda, was illegally hi-jacked by Israeli forces in international waters last year.

The Israeli navy assaulted and injured many of those on board (including Divina and New Zealander Mike Treen), threatened to assassinate the captain, and forced the boat to a port in Israel. All aboard were imprisoned for several days before being deported. Most of their belongings were stolen by Israeli forces. The Al Awda, and the other flotilla boat Freedom, remain confiscated in Israel, and the 114 boxes of medical supplies destined for Gaza, have never been seen since.

Some of the 2018 Freedom Flotilla participants in Messina, Sicily, prior to departure: Chris Graham, Divina Levrini, Lucía Mazarrasa, Mike Treen, Larry Commodore, Mohd Afandi Salleh.

Kia Ora Gaza is a member of the international Freedom Flotilla Coalition. New Zealand’s representative on the 2018 flotilla, union leader Mike Treen, yesterday remembered his time on the Al Awda with Divina: I shared the final leg of the journey to Gaza and detention in Israel. She fought every inch of the way with great courage. One of our other trip participants only got urgent medical attention because she kept shouting at the guards until he was attended to. It makes me angry a soul like hers can’t survive this world.

Christchurch human rights activist, Lois Griffiths paid this moving tribute to Divina, posted on Scoop NZ yesterday:

The World has lost a Beautiful Soul

I was saddened today to learn of the sudden death of Swedish human rights activist, singer Divina Levrini. I became aware of this young woman when researching the background of participants in the Freedom flotilla 2018 to Gaza. She was one of the participants.

It’s fascinating and inspiring too, to learn about people with various backgrounds, from different countries, who share a compassion for justice for the people of Gaza, suffering under appalling, truly inhumane, sadistic even, conditions. The world has looked the other way for far too long.

When challenged by an interviewer as to why she was volunteering Devina Levrini explained, “I have been reading about Palestine since I was a teenager and it touched me. This conflict is different from many others because it’s a modern day apartheid and a genocide that never should be accepted. I am a mother of two children, who have to live in this world and it’s up to us, adults, to change it for the better. The children of Palestine are no different and should be able to live as freely as my children in Sweden. This trip is a humanitarian and peaceful act to raise awareness, and if it makes politicians act, then we have succeeded in many ways.” Palestinians of Gaza ” need to be remembered. They need the world talking about them.” “I risk a lot by going, but it is an action I must take. I can’t sit by and watch the genocide of Palestinians. The world has been through this before and has succeeded in ending a lot of occupations. The amount of support we have received on our way is overwhelming and shows there is support for Palestine. I believe that without human rights activists nothing will change, but as I said during our trip “maybe you are the change you have been waiting for.”

Divina Levrini was actually a crew member for the entire 2½ month Freedom Flotilla campaign, starting in Scandinvia. She crewed on the Freedom as far as Palermo and then the Al Awda from Palermo. In other words she was a colleague of Mike Treen’s. She witnessed the violence inflected on the young Norwegian captain and then on Mike and others.

Her eyewitness account after returning to Sweden, can be found via the freedom flotilla website: https://jfp.freedomflotilla.org/

And now I learn that this lovely, passionate, caring, humane young woman has died.

Although I never met her, I would like to do something positive, something she would have approved of, in her memory. I would like to demand that Israel release the medical supplies that it stole from the Flotilla boats, medical supplies that were meant for hospitals in Gaza. That seems so weak though. I’d really like to be able to demand that the Israeli Embassy be expelled. What kind of a country would steal basic medical supplies meant for hospitals that are barely functioning? That’s another story that needs to be told.

Which raises another point. Why is New Zealand determined to remain silent, i.e. complicit, as Israel continues its obscene oppression of Palestinians, not only, but especially, in Gaza. Is there no red line?

There will be another Freedom Flotilla in 2020. Most sadly, without Divina Levrini.

The world has lost a beautiful soul.

[Ed: For more on the hi-jacking of the flotilla boats, see reports posted in July/August 2018 on kiaoragaza.net and jpf.freedom.flotilla.org ]

Want hate speech? Look at Israel’s ‘new norm’ leaders

8 Mar

Michael Ben Ari, leader of the ‘Jewish Power’ (Otzma Yehudit) party, now in alliance with Israeli PM Netanyahu’s Likud party.

By Ramzy Baroud, The Palestine Chronicle, 7 March 2019

Why the Outrage? ‘Jewish Power’ Party is the New Norm in Israeli Politics

Immediately after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu allied with the fringe political group, Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power), a widespread outrage ensued.

The anger did not emanate only from the Centre, Left and Arab parties, but from some in the Right as well. Even the pro-Israel lobby in the US, known for its hawkish political views, spoke out against the sinister union.

“The views of Otzma Yehudit”, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) tweeted, “are reprehensible. They do not reflect the core values that are the very foundation of the State of Israel.”

But what if they do? And what if “Otzma Yehudit” is but a different political articulation of mainstream Israeli views, reflecting the very “core values” that even AIPAC has been blindly defending since its inception in 1953?

Before the alliance between Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, Rafi Peretz’s far-right Jewish Home, and Otzma Yehudit, which was struck on February 20, Israel was hardly a liberal democracy that shunned racism and embraced political pluralism. Indeed, it must be understood that the inclusion of Otzma Yehudit in Israel’s mainstream political scene is consistent with the moral corruption of Israeli politics as a whole.

To protest the alliance between Netanyahu and the fanatical leaders of Otzma Yehudit is to suggest that mainstream Israeli politicians don’t represent the very chauvinistic, racist and violent ideals that the extremist party has championed since its formation in 2012.

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Two Palestinian children killed in blaze after Israel blocks Fire Brigade

7 Mar

Two Palestinian children were killed in a blaze after Israeli forces prevented the fire brigade from reaching them in time in Hebron, West Bank.

Palestine Chronicle, 7 March 2019

Two Palestinian children have been killed in a blaze at their home in occupied Hebron (Al-Khalil) after the Israeli authorities prevented the fire brigade from reaching them in time.

The two children – one of whom is believed to have been just 18-months old – were burned to death in a fire at their home in the Al-Salaymeh neighborhood of Hebron’s Old City in the occupied West Bank.

One was reported dead late last night, while the second succumbed to the burns received this morning after receiving emergency treatment at the nearby Hebron government hospital. A third child, thought to be the dead children’s brother, also suffered severe burns in the incident and remains in intensive care, according to hospital Director Dr. Walid Zalloum.

The names of the three children have not been released formally, but Palestinian news site Palestine Today named the two who were killed as four-year-old Wael Al-Rajabi and his 18-month-old sister Malak. The local police spokesman, Colonel Loai Arziqat, confirmed in a press statement that two children had died, but did not offer further information.

Though the emergency services were called, the fire brigade was prevented from reaching the scene by Israeli soldiers. In a video filmed last night at 21:50 local time (19:50 GMT), the fire engine can be seen trying to drive down a narrow street. The truck comes to a stop at a roadblock obstructing the way, while local residents implore the Israeli soldiers stationed there to “open the gate quickly, for the children.”

Screen shot of video recording the fire engine obstructed by the Israeli military roadblock. [Middle East Monitor]

The Israeli soldiers, however, did not yield to the onlookers’ pleas, delaying the emergency services’ response and preventing them from reaching the property. The cause of the fire remains unknown.

Israel is no stranger to restricting emergency services’ access to Palestinians in need. According to Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), citing the Palestine Red Crescent Society, since 2015 Israel has prevented ambulances from crossing checkpoints on 123 occasions. In addition, there were 386 attacks against Red Crescent teams across the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) during the same period, as well as 105 ambulances damaged.

Under international law, as the occupying power, Israel is forbidden from preventing access to medical care and emergency services to the people living under its occupation. According to the Fourth Geneva Convention,

“The occupying power must ensure sufficient hygiene and public health standards, as well as the provision of food and medical care to the population under occupation.”

In addition,

“Personnel of the International Red Crescent Movement must be allowed to carry out their humanitarian activities.”

Israel, however, continues to breach this and other articles of international laws and conventions with impunity.

(Source: MEMO, PC, Social Media)

 

Israel closes Gaza border, blocks aid transfers

6 Mar

Karam Abu Salem border crossing. (Photo: File)

Palestine Chronicle, 5 March 2019

Israel today closed Gaza’s main commercial crossing to all good except fuel, local sources reported.

Israel has increased its targeting of the besieged Gaza Strip over the past few days, striking sites in the enclave causing damage to property.

It claims the closure of the Karam Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing is in response to “increased violence from Gaza”.

Occupation forces regularly block access to the Gaza crossings as a means of controlling the Palestinian population. In July Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Kerem Shalom would be closed if kite and balloon launchers continued with their activity.

Gaza ran out of cooking gas as a result of the Israeli closure of the crossing days later.

Palestinians wait to fill canisters with cooking gas. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are experiencing shortage in gas and fuel. [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]

(Sources: MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Israel issues denials, smears investigations of its crimes

6 Mar

Palestinians carry an injured protester during the Great March of Return on 2 February 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

By Professor Kamel Hawwash, Middle East Monitor, 6 March 2019

From Qana to Gaza, Israel issues denials and smears investigations of its crimes

I wrote recently about an EU report on the growth of illegal Israeli settlements and argued that the EU was diligent in documenting Israel’s-breaches of international law but that it has singularly failed to bring it to account, even when it has demolished EU-funded projects.

A more recent report commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) investigated the actions of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) at the nominal border with Gaza since 30 March last year, which marked the beginning of the Great March of Return protests. For almost 50 weeks, Israeli snipers have gunned down, with deliberate, chilling precision, Palestinian men, women and children.

The “Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory – A/HRC/40/74” acknowledges that the peaceful protests “were civilian in nature, with clearly stated political aims.” The protesters asked to be allowed to return to the homes from which they have been expelled from 1948 onwards, and for a lifting of the siege on Gaza. Instead of meeting their peaceful and legitimate demands from the outset, Israel has killed over 200 Palestinians, including journalists and medics, and maimed dozens of young men, who now have to face life as amputees, rather than sportsmen.

Dozens of young men now face life as amputees, rather than sportsmen.

The irony here is that Israel complained about Malaysia’s decision to ban the Israeli Paralympics team from competing in the country, while the IDF was making its own sickening contribution to future Palestinian Paralympics teams.

The UNHRC’s report makes for gruesome reading. Israeli soldiers are accused of “intentionally firing on civilians, who were neither directly participating in hostilities, nor posing an imminent threat.” The report warns that, “These serious human rights and humanitarian law violations may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity.”

Israel’s reaction was predictable and follows a long line of denial and smearing of any report which accuses it of wrongdoing. According to a Foreign Ministry spokesman, “This report was born in sin, in a politically biased, one-sided resolution that determined the outcome before the investigation even started.” He went on to lay the blame on Hamas: “[Hamas] has declared war on Israel and calls to kill Jews. Hamas is orchestrating the attacks and using civilians in Gaza as human weapons to assault Israel and Israeli civilians. Hamas exploits the civilians in Gaza as human shields for terrorists.” As usual when such allegations are made, no evidence is produced to back them up, nor is the legitimate right to resist military occupation ever mentioned.

The spokesman went on to smear the UNHRC and the report’s three authors: “The HRC becomes an accomplice of a terrorist organisation, supporting Hamas’s aggression against Israel and the oppression of the people of Gaza.” The three individuals, he alleged, lack any understanding in security matters, without a relevant professional background.

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UN investigators accuse Israeli of possible war crimes

5 Mar

Middle East Eye, video report published 1 March 2019

“Israeli security forces committed serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.” United Nations investigators have said that Israel’s killing of Palestinian protesters on the Gaza border “may constitute war crimes.”

Remapping of Palestine: Why Israel’s erasure of Palestinian culture will not succeed

4 Mar

By Ramzy Baroud, Middle East Monitor, 2 March 2019

“Everything Palestinian in Jerusalem is targeted by Israeli occupation,” said Palestinian Archbishop of Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox Church, Atallah Hanna, on 29 January  during a meeting with a delegation from the medical aid organisation Doctors without Borders.

“The Islamic and Christian holy sites and endowments are targeted in order to change our city, hide its identity and marginalising our Arabic and Palestinian existence,” the archbishop added.

Hanna, who has been at the forefront of the Palestinian Muslim and Christian struggle against Israel’s Judaisation schemes, is, of course, correct in his assertion that Jerusalem is targeted. But the truth is that there is a systematic campaign to strip not just the holy city of its Palestinian character, but also the whole of Palestine.

A few days after the Palestinian Christian leader made his comments, Israeli authorities carried out excavations in the historic Al-Bahr Mosque in the city of Tiberias, on the western shores of the Sea of Galilee. In its place, Israel aims to establish a museum, a practice it has used many times in the past in order to erase historic symbols of Palestinian existence.

Israel’s disregard for the historical rights of Palestinians is deeply rooted in Zionist ideology. Indeed, from the very start, Zionist ideologues promoted the idea that Palestine was a place bereft of culture or heritage – an arid desert, waiting for Zionist pioneers to make it “bloom”.

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Auckland protest rally on Saturday

28 Feb

THIS MUST STOP!

New Zealand needs to make a strong stand against the barbaric violence of Israel’s massacres of unarmed civilian Palestinians, who have been gathering in huge numbers each week near Israel’s illegal border fences in Gaza since 30 March last year to demand the universal right of return and to end Israel’s illegal blockade and military attacks.

To date over 250 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli snipers, and about 26,000 injured – some in critical condition in Gaza’s severely overstretched hospitals.

Demand our government condemns Israel’s massacres and closes down their embassy in Wellington.

ISRAEL MUST END THEIR COLONIAL OCCUPATION, THEIR ILLEGAL BLOCKADE OF GAZA AND

STOP KILLING PALESTINIANS.

The Palestine Solidarity Network invites supporters to join the monthly rally for Free Palestine on this Saturday 2 March from 2pm at Aotea Square, Auckland CBD

Workers suffocate as Israeli forces fire tear-gas at checkpoint

27 Feb

Ma’an News Agency, Bethlehem, 26 February 2019

Dozens of Palestinian workers suffered tear-gas suffocation while at Checkpoint 300, north of the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, as Israeli forces fired tear-gas canisters at hundreds of workers waiting at the checkpoint on Tuesday morning.

Palestinian security sources said that Israeli forces fired tear-gas canisters towards workers after protesting Israeli soldiers’ ill-treatment of them.

Israeli forces then sealed off the checkpoint, denying workers access to their workplaces inside Israel.

Under Israel’s permit regime, Palestinian residents of the West Bank are not allowed to access occupied East Jerusalem or Israel without an Israeli-issued permit, and many risk being shot and injured while trying to cross into Israel to work.

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‘Israel pharmaceutical firms test medicines on Palestinian prisoners’

27 Feb

Palestinian activists take part in a protest in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons [File photo]

Middle East Monitor, 21 February 2019

Israeli Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian revealed yesterday that the Israeli occupation authorities issues permits to large pharmaceutical firms to carry out tests on Palestinian and Arab prisoners, Felesteen.ps reported.

The Times of Israel also reported that in a recording from the event the Hebrew University lecturer also revealed that the Israeli military firms are testing weapons on Palestinian children and carry out these tests in the Palestinian neighbourhoods of occupied Jerusalem.

Speaking in Columbia University in New York City, Shalhoub-Kevorkian said that she collected the data while carrying out a research project for the Hebrew University.

“Palestinian spaces are laboratories,” she said. “The invention of products and services of state-sponsored security corporations are fueled by long-term curfews and Palestinian oppression by the Israeli army.”

Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian [Photo: Columbia University]

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Violated education: a year of ongoing violations

26 Feb

VIDEO by Gvc Italia published 22 February, 2019. Violated Education: a year of ongoing violations in the West Bank in 2018.

Gvc is an Italian-based secular and independent non-governmental organization that since 1971 has been developing cooperation and development education projects in over 20 countries around the world.

 

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