Between Fire and Sea: The Man Behind Gaza’s Great March of Return

25 Sep

Between Fire and Sea: The Man Behind Gaza’s Great March of Return

VIDEO DOCUMENTARY: Al Jazeera English, Published 24 September, 2018

“What would happen if thousands of Gazans, most of them refugees, attempted to peacefully cross the fence that separated them from their ancestral lands?” That was the question 33-year-old Palestinian poet and journalist Ahmed Abu Artema posted on Facebook earlier this year. His post went viral. It was a rallying cry that inspired a movement of peaceful protests known as the Great March of Return. Frustrated by Israel’s more than decade-long land, sea and air blockade of the Gaza Strip, upon which it has waged three wars in the past 10 years, and wanting to draw attention to the Palestinian right of return, Ahmed organised the marches as a cry for help. “Our hardships induced this scream for life,” the soft-spoken father explains. “The March of Return is a scream for life so that we may leave the walls of our prison.”

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Open Request to Winston Peters for clear statement

24 Sep

Press Release: Palestine Human Rights Campaign

Open Request to NZ Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Peters, for clear statement of policy regarding US National Security Adviser John Bolton’s speech to the Federalist Society

From Leslie Bravery, Palestine Human Rights Campaign Aotearoa New Zealand,, 23 September 2018

Mr Peters,

We ask you to respond to a speech made by US National Security Adviser John Bolton to the Federalist Society on 10 September 2018, in which he outlined the Trump Administration’s clear commitment to undermine the efforts of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to provide justice for those who are victims of alleged serious international crimes. Mr Bolton made specific reference to Israel in the speech, criticising the possibility of an ICC investigation into alleged international crimes committed by Israel in the West Bank and Gaza, including a possible investigation into the construction of illegal settlements, which he referred to as ‘housing projects’. John Bolton’s speech also referred to the United States’ decision to close the Palestinian Liberation Office in Washington DC as being partly due to the PLO’s intention to engage the ICC in a criminal investigation.

Particularly alarming were the threats made by Mr Bolton as he reached the conclusion of his speech, when he said:

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Mike Treen speaks in Nelson tomorrow night

24 Sep

Mike Treen Speaks in Nelson  tomorrow, Tuesday 25 September at 7:30pm

Marlborough Institute OF Technology Johnny Cash Room G104 Nile Street Nelson

Hosted by NZ Palestine Solidarity Network and Te Tau Ihu Palestine Solidarity

Not to be missed! Free entry – koha welcome.
Room G104 is found in the NMIT Creative Industries Building, entrance off 61 Nile Street, Nelson.

Back from the international Freedom Flotilla determined to break Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza, battered and bruised union leader Mike Treen says ‘I have a few stories to tell!’

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Dominion Post – National Portrait: Mike Treen

24 Sep
Mike Treen is the national director of Unite union, a small group that represents workers in fast-food outlets, cinemas, ...

Mike Treen is the national director of Unite union, a small group that represents workers in fast-food outlets, cinemas, and casinos. [Lawrence Smith/Stuff]

By Rob Mitchell, Dominion Post, 22 September 2018

Mike Treen is wearing a moonboot to protect his fractured foot.

A couple of bruised ribs mean it hurts to laugh. Which is a shame, because he laughs often. A man born to disagree, but who is by no means disagreeable.

The injuries are courtesy of the Israeli military, who pulled Treen and his fellow protesters off a fishing boat on its way to bust the Israeli blockade of Gaza in July.

“The Israeli military doctor, from a few metres away, said ‘Take your boot off … OK, it’s just a strain’.”

Laugh. Wince.

Israel called the action a “stunt”. Treen smiles, admits the group were not surprised at the military response, and acknowledges the power of publicity for a people left without a voice.

“But it only becomes a stunt because they [Israel] fulfil their sort of role in it,” he says. “If we were allowed to have a right of free passage, we were delivering supplies … “

Treen has been delivering stunts, publicity and power to people with little of it for most of his 62 years, as a social movement organiser, human rights activist and latterly as national director of Unite Union.

His many stories are filled with the language of the battler, the occasional expletive opening a wee door into hard-scrabble suburbs of poor, working-class Auckland, but also meatworks and factories fulminating with the constant arm-wrestle for workers’ rights.

That struggle is in the DNA.

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Veteran activist Mike Treen fires shouts over Gaza

24 Sep

The Northern Advocate’s, Vaughan Gunson, reviews Mike Treen’s recent talk in Whangarei

Human rights advocate Mike Treen is greeted by his partner Heidi, when he arrived back at Auckland after being deported from Israel.

He has, as they say, credentials. Definitely street creed amongst the activist community in this country.

His booming voice has been heard leading chants on many protests, occupations and picket lines. Raising the question, which came first, the loud voice (even in conversation) or the activist who fashioned the voice to suit? Either way, it’s been an effective weapon in numerous struggles.

He’s currently national director of Unite Union, but the reason he was in Whangārei last weekend was to speak about his experiences on a boat trying to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

He was asked by Kia Ora Gaza, a solidarity group founded in 2010, to be a New Zealand representative on the latest Freedom Flotilla.

This wasn’t a holiday. Weeks in cramped quarters on a small Norwegian fishing boat on the Mediterranean Sea ended with a violent confrontation with the Israeli navy off the coast of Gaza.

When their boat was boarded by masked gun-wielding Israeli soldiers, Mike received blows with blunt weapons and was tasered multiple times, finally to the head, rendering him semi-conscious on the ship’s deck.

After being further roughly treated and “processed”, he was bundled on a plane to Hong Kong, minus all his belongings. He subsequently found out he had cracked ribs and a broken bone in his foot.

Mike’s experiences, scary as they were, can’t compare to what’s inflicted on the people of Gaza year after year.

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First they came for the Palestinians…

20 Sep

Israel kills six Palestinians in 24 hours

20 Sep

Stand-off at the Israel/Gaza heavily fortified boundary fence during recent protests [Ma’an News]

Maureen Clare Murphy, The Electronic Intifada, 18 September 2018

A Palestinian man was shot and killed by Israeli police near the Damascus Gate to Jerusalem’s Old City on Tuesday night in an alleged stabbing attempt on the start of the Yom Kippur holiday.

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Lest We Forget: Sabra and Shatila Massacre 16-17 September 1982

18 Sep

VIDEO: aVoiceFromPalestine Published on Nov 29, 2009

Mike Treen is coming to speak in Hamilton on Friday

18 Sep

Recently returned from the international Freedom Flotilla that set out to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza Palestine and deliver humanitarian (medical) aid, Mike Treen, National Director at Unite Union and long term long-time activist says “I have a few stories to tell!”

Mike Treen has spoken of his experience in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and now he comes to Hamilton. He speaks of the treatment his fellow crew members (women and men) by the recent Freedom Gaza Flotilla experienced were subjected to by the Israeli military.

His presentation is not only an eye-witness recounting of those harrowing events, but is a considered overview of the current situation today. Treen’s presentation touches on the growing international support for the Palestinian people and includes steps our NZ government could take to promote the conditions necessary for justice and peace.

He has received standing ovations at his presentations these gatherings for his role “on behalf of New Zealand” as one among the 22 people seized imprisoned following during the seizure of the ‘Al Awda’ boat by the Israelis in international waters – a breach of international law an event that seems to have been ignored by world leaders and our own government.

Not to be missed! Free entry – donations welcome.

This Friday 21 September at 6:30pm

Building S, Room 1.04

University of Waikato

(first floor – follow link for map of campus:

Gate 1 Knighton Road, Hamilton, New Zealand 3216. (Parking near gate)

Show Map

  • Hosted by Palestine Human Rights Campaign Waikato

Palestinians killed as Gaza vows new push to break siege

17 Sep

Palestinians carry wounded protester Muhammad Shaqoura, who died after being shot by Israeli sniper fire, al-Bureij, central Gaza Strip, 14 September. [Mahmoud Khattab APA images]

Maureen Clare Murphy, The Electronic Intifada, 15 September 2018

Israeli forces shot and killed at least two Palestinians during protests held under the slogan of “Resistance is Our Choice” along Gaza’s eastern boundary on Friday.

In addition to those killed by Israeli live fire, a 12-year-old boy, Shadi Abd al-Al, died of internal bleeding after being hit in the head by a hard object during a demonstration in Jabaliya, in the north of the Gaza Strip, according to the rights group Al Mezan.

“The nature of the object that hit and killed him has not been fully established at the publication of this press release,” the group stated late Friday.

The two Palestinians killed by live fire on Friday were identified as Hani Ramzi Afaneh, 21, and Muhammad Shaqoura, 20.

More than 130 Palestinians have been killed during the Great March of Return protests and around 20,000 have been injured, nearly 5,000 by live ammunition.

More than 100 were wounded by live fire during Friday’s protests, including 14 children, according to Al Mezan.

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45 days: Israel will still not let medical cargo into Gaza

17 Sep

Israeli snipers kill three more Palestinians in Gaza and wound another 148 on 14 September, but the Israeli Government will still NOT let medical supplies into Gaza.

Freedom Flotilla statement, 17 September 2018

45 days waiting for the Israeli government to deliver 114 boxes of medical supplies from the Freedom Flotilla to its destination in Gaza.

According to the Palestine Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), as of September 14 since the Great March of Return began, 136 Palestinians have been killed, including 26 children, three journalists, three paramedics and one woman.  Among those killed are three people with disabilities and a young girl.

7,224 people have been wounded by gunfire including 1,241 children, 211 women, 83 journalists and 115 paramedics. Among those wounded, 439 are in serious condition and 69 people have had lower or upper limbs amputated. Statistics of the injured only include those directly hit with bullets and tear gas canisters, but there are thousands of other people who have suffered tear gas inhalation and sustained bruises.

It’s been 45 days since the Israeli military stopped the Freedom Flotilla Coalition’s ship Al Awda and took control of the medical supplies for Gaza… For six weeks the Freedom Flotilla Coalition has demanded the immediate release of the 114 boxes and thousands of people from around the world have called Israeli embassies and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in their countries demanding the release. [See earlier report:  ]

Please sign, and urge your friends to sign, the petition demanding that the Israeli military releases the boxes of medical supplies, in accordance with international law.

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NZ must denounce Trump’s funding cut to UNWRA

14 Sep

Video: Trump’s funding cut to UNRWA affects millions of Palestinian refugees

Yumna Patel, Mondoweiss, Bethlehem, 12 September 2018,

Just days after Palestinian children returned back to school, the Trump administration announced it would be cutting all funding to UNRWA — the UN agency responsible for providing life saving services to 5 million Palestinian refugees across the Middle East.

VIDEO: Mondoweiss spoke with some of those affected, who expressed fears of losing essential services like food assistance, jobs, water, and most importantly, education.


NZ Palestine Solidarity Network statement, 14 September 2018

Call for NZ government to denounce Trump’s funding cuts of UNWRA

The Palestine Solidarity Network calls on the Labour-led coalition government to condemn recent unilateral actions of the United State of America administration towards Palestinians which contravene accepted international humanitarian law, UN resolutions and certain Geneva Conventions. PSN echoes the words of Hana Ashrawi of the Palestine Liberation Organisation

“The United States administration’s reckless and spiteful political moves, including recognizing occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, relocating the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, defunding Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem and UNRWA, redefining the status of Palestinian refugees, refusing to refer to the 1967 borders and the two-state solution, refraining from addressing the illegality of settlements, and most recently its closure of the General Delegation of the PLO in Washington D.C., all form a comprehensive and deliberate assault, not just on Palestinian rights and the components of peace, but also on the global legal and institutional system of laws and resolutions.”

Our government has been silent on these actions and must be challenged to take a position which reflects the values of most New Zealanders. We observe the daily horrors of collective punishment of Palestinians by Israel whether they are in Gaza, West Bank or refugees exiled for decades in camps in Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon, even Palestinians in the diaspora who are  denied the right of return to their ancestral land.   

The NZ government must denounce the menacing moves by Trump and his advisors, otherwise our silence is taken as complicity. 


Israeli forces fire at Palestinian protest boats

13 Sep

Palestinian boats attempt to break Gaza Siege, Israeli Navy opens fire (VIDEO)

Palestine Chronicle, 12 September, 2018

Israeli naval forces opened fire at dozens of Palestinian boats protesting at the northern besieged Gaza Strip seaport, on Monday, in an attempt to break the 12-year-long Israeli blockade.

Protesters sailed 55 boats off the coast of the Gaza Strip; the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza said that 49 Palestinians were injured, 10 of whom were hospitalized.

The boats were then forced to head back to shore.

A Ma’an reporter said that protesters at the beach set fire to tires near the northern security fence border with Israel.

Israeli forces also fired tear-gas bombs at protesters.

Trails of smoke from tear gas canisters fired by Israeli forces are seen as Palestinians protest on the beach in the northern Gaza Strip on Monday. [AFP]

As part of Israel’s blockade of the coastal enclave since 2007, the Israeli army, citing security concerns, requires Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip to work within a limited “designated fishing zone,” the exact limits of which are decided by the Israeli authorities and have historically fluctuated.

Many attempts have been made throughout the years to draw the public’s attention to and break the on-going siege of the Gaza Strip whether via ships attempting to sail into Gaza or ships attempting to sail from Gaza.

(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)

Over 140 worldwide artists boycott Eurovision in Israel

11 Sep

Ma’an News Agency, Bethlehem, 10 September 2018

About 140 artists, including musicians, writers, actors, directors, novelists, and poets have signed a letter calling for the boycott of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, which is scheduled to be held in Israel.

The letter, which was published by The Guardian, was signed by about 140 artists from around the world, including six Israeli artists, demanding the song contest should be boycotted if it is “hosted by Israel while it continues its grave, decades-old violations of Palestinian human rights.”

Among those who signed the letter are musicians Roger Waters, Brian Eno, Nosizwe, Bugge Wesseltoft, Lars Klevstrand, Trond Ingebretsen, Jos M rio Branco, Chullage, Dror Feiler, Christy Moore, Charlie McGettigan, Kimmo Pohjonen, Paleface, and actors Candy Bowers, Daan Hugaert, Marijke Pinoy, Chokri Ben Chikha, Tove Bornhoeft, Anne Marie Helger, Tommi Korpela, Krista Kosonen, and novelists Manuela Bosco, G rard Mordillat, Jos Luis Peixoto, Michel B hler, and many others.

The six Israelis who have also signed the letter are Aviad Albert, Michal Sapir, Ohal Grietzer, Yonatan Shapira, Danielle Ravitzki, and David Opp.

The letter supported an appeal from Palestinian artists to boycott Eurovision, stating that “We, the undersigned artists from Europe and beyond, support the heartfelt appeal from Palestinian artists to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 hosted by Israel.”

The letter stressed “Until Palestinians can enjoy freedom, justice and equal rights, there should be no business-as-usual with the state that is denying them their basic rights.”

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How I got hijacked, kidnapped, tasered, cracked ribs and a fractured foot!

10 Sep

National Director of the Unite Union, Mike Treen, arrived back to a rousing welcome at Auckland airport, after his experiences on the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza recently.

By Mike Treen, The Daily Blog, 9 September, 2018 

The headline tells the end of the story following an attempt by myself and others to sail a Norwegian fishing boat loaded with medical supplies to the Palestinian territory of Gaza.

The only problem we faced was that Israel has maintained an almost complete siege on that territory of two million people for over a decade. Israel allows nothing to go in or out without their authority. What goes in or out has been radically reduced and is often completely arbitrary – like all sieges.

As a consequence, Gaza is in a state of economic collapse with over 50% unemployment – the highest recorded rate in the world.

Gaza has become like an open-air prison for its two-million people. But in many areas the situation is worse for the people in Gaza. They cannot receive visitors. They can never leave. Medical treatment is denied.

The captain, the chef, and me on the Al Awda

Since the end of March, protests against the siege in Gaza have been fired upon by Israeli military forces. Over 170 people have been killed and 18,000 wounded in just four months – overwhelming medical facilities in Gaza. People are being shot inside Gaza by a foreign military power for crossing arbitrary lines often hundreds of metres from any supposed border.

The journey began for me when Kia Ora Gaza in the person of Roger Fowler asked me to join the latest attempt to get a ship through the Israeli siege. New Zealand has participated in numerous attempts to breach the siege by land and sea since 2010.

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The world cannot stand idly by…

10 Sep

An Israeli army tank stationed across from a protest on the outskirts of the Sejaya neighbourhood, Israel-Gaza boundary fence, 8 September, 2018. [Eliyahu Hershkovitz]

Anoushka Canagaretina, The Independent, 10 September 2018

The world cannot stand idly by while Israel’s blockade on Gaza continues to disrupt countless innocent lives

The US withdrawal of funding to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees and the life-threatening deprivation it will cause makes it even more urgent for the rest of the world to campaign for the Gaza blockade to be lifted

In Gaza, young people’s lives are not their own. At any point they could be taken by lethal force, and every day is defined by restrictions of their basic needs and control over their plans and aspirations. By withdrawing its funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA), the United States is making that future even more uncertain.  

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Video: Dreaming of Freedom

10 Sep

VIDEO: – Great March of Return: Dreaming of Freedom.

The Great March of Return began as Ahmed Abu Artema’s dream – a dream to “fly free like birds” over Israel’s militarized fence encaging Gaza. The dream turned into reality when tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees braved sniper fire for the freedom to return to their homes and land Israel banned them from.

Over the past 24 weeks 174 unarmed Palestinians have been shot dead by Israel snipers during the weekly boundary fence protests. Over 19,000 have been injured. Two more died, including Belal Mustafa Khafaja, 17, after being shot in the chest by an Israeli sniper. Health officials said 210 protesters were wounded, including 15 children. The dreams and the protests grow.

This video shows the moment another boy, Ahmed Misbah Abu Taylor (16), was fatally shot after appearing to throw a stone towards the heavily fortified boundary fence during last Friday’s protest: :

Israel to sell Freedom Flotilla boats to support settlers

7 Sep

From 2008 to 2016, international activists have sailed 31 boats to challenge the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza. File photo, above, of the Al Awda, lead flotilla boat of the 2018 flotilla unlawfully hijacked by Israeli forces in international waters recently.

Palestine Chronicle6 September, 2018

Israel plans to sell four boats seized while sailing towards the besieged Gaza Strip and distribute the funds among two settlers families.

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The high cost of keeping Gaza under siege

7 Sep

‘The humanitarian situation in Gaza is a managed crisis with no political resolution on the horizon…a manmade crisis of Israeli design..’

Palestinians carry posters declaring that refugee rights are a responsibility, not a gift, and that services must be continued until refugees are allowed to return to their lands of origin. [Mohammed Zaanoun ActiveStills]

By Maureen Clare Murphy, The Electronic Intifada, 6 September 2018

Funds to procure emergency fuel used to sustain essential services in Gaza have depleted and final stocks will be delivered this week, the United Nations warned on Wednesday.

Gaza’s health ministry said on Tuesday that the fuel crisis had reached its worst phase yet, and that government-run hospitals had enough supply for only a further 10 days to three weeks, depending on the institution.

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Roger Waters: why boycotts have Israel ‘running scared’

6 Sep

VIDEO INTERVIEW: Roger Waters on Lionel Messi, Lana Del Rey and the BDS Movement

TheRealNews with Dimitri Lascaris, published 5 September 2018

Pink Floyd Co-Founder Roger Waters called on Ms Lana Rey to “do the right thing.” She did. Waters says such victories by the BDS Movement have the potential to be a game-changer.

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