Archive | July, 2011

Palestine Solidarity in Wellington, 27 July-13 Aug

27 Jul

Palestine Solidarity 27 July – 13 Aug

THURSDAY 28th: Screening: OCCUPATION 101. A documentary film depicting life in Occupied Palestine under Israeli military rule which dispels many of the long-perceived myths and misconceptions surrounding the Occupation. http://www.occupation101.com/

5:00pm, SU218, Student Union Building, VUW Kelburn Campus

FRIDAY 29th: Student Rep Council, with guest speaker JOHN MINTO (Global Peace and Justice Auckland): motion to affiliate with Birzeit University’s Right to Education campaign as a public show of solidarity and support to all Palestinian students and teachers struggling to live, work and study under Israeli occupation. (http://right2edu.birzeit.e​du/)
We need 50 people present for quorum so come along and invite invite invite!

2:00-3:00pm, Memorial Theatre Foyer, Student Union Building, VUW Kelburn Campus.

WEDNESDAY 3rd: Speaker Panel with Dr Nigel Parsons, Senior Lecturer, Massey University ‘Occupation and Resistance’; Spokesperson from Kia Ora Gaza on the latest attempt to break the siege on Gaza; Testimonies from the Occupied Territories.

6:00-8:00pm, Memorial Theatre Foyer, Student Union Building, VUW Kelburn Campus.

SATURDAY 13th: Palestine Solidarity Gig, featuring a variety of local music and poetry acts including Tommy and the Fallen Horses and the Shadow Blasters. Hosted in conjunction with Concerned Citizens collective.

13 Garrett St, Te Aro.

Viva Palestina announces new international convoy to Gaza

25 Jul

 

by Tom Baker

Gaza TV News

25 July 2011

A new international Viva Palestina convoy was announced at the Summer University of Palestine in Beirut by convoy founder George Galloway last night.

“Viva Palestina 6 – The Return Convoy” is set to arrive in Gaza December 27 this year on the 3 year anniversary of the beginning of Israel’s Cast Lead massacre which left 1,400, mostly civilians dead and the infrastructure of Gaza in ruins.

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International petition calling for Palestine to be recognised as a state

24 Jul

Dear friends,

In four days the UN Security Council will meet, and the world has an opportunity to embrace a new proposal that could turn the tide on decades of failed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks: UN recognition of the state of Palestine.

Over 120 nations from the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America have already endorsed this initiative, but Israel’s right-wing government and the US vehemently oppose it. The UK and other key European countries are still undecided, but a massive public push now could tip them to vote for this momentous opportunity to end 40 years of military occupation.

US-led peace initiatives have failed for decades, while Israel has confined the Palestinians to small areas, confiscated their lands and blocked their independence. This bold new initiative could be the best opportunity to jump start a resolution of the conflict, but Europe and the UK must take the lead. Let’s build a massive global call for the UK and other European leaders to endorse this statehood bid now, and make clear that citizens across the world support this legitimate, non-violent, diplomatic proposal. Sign the petition and send the link to everyone.

SIGN PETITION HERE

With hope and determination,

Alice, Ricken, Stephanie, Morgan, Pascal, Rewan and the entire Avaaz team

Gaza reality

23 Jul

from In Gaza

After reading so many reports (for years) on Gaza’s failing health system and economy, I became a bit numb to the reality of what zero-stock drugs and supplies, and over 45% unemployment of the working age actually means. I know it means people with serious diseases like cancer, diabetes, hypertension, psychological disease, kidney failure… suffer for want of treatment, and that the thousands of new university and college graduates sit jobless, parents sit jobless and line for food aid, families suffer.

But the words “shortage” or “suffer” or “crisis” don’t suffice. Nor even the numbers or facts which should shock, especially considering that these are long-term shortages, increasing by the year:

-180 of the 480 essential medications at zero

-190 of the 700 essential medical disposables at zero

-rubber gloves are being re-used, disposable tubes re-sterlized

-200 kidney patients waiting to receive dialysis from machines without filters because filters unavailable

-diabetes patients lacking medications, insulin shortages

-medication for hypertension patients out of stock for 3 months

-17% of antibiotics for serious infections out of stock

-9% of chemotherapy drugs zero stock

-syringes at zero stock

-gauze out of stock

When I think of real, personal examples, these already staggering statistics then become horrific. Family and friends outside of Gaza who’ve endured cancer treatments, died from the disease. What if they had not even had the luxury of the medications? Of pain-killers? Loved ones with high blood pressure. How hellish their daily life if they didn’t have medications or means to stabilize their blood pressure or treat their diabetes.

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Sailing on a bucket, surrounded by commandos

21 Jul

By Amira Hass
from Haaretz.com
21 July 2011

Three missile ships and seven commando boats were sent to take over the tub known as the Dignite Al Karame yesterday, about 50 nautical miles from the shore.

At least 150 soldiers were sent to sea early in the morning to prevent the 10 civilian activists, the three crew members and the three journalists on the “freedom flotilla” from reaching Gaza’s port.

Flotilla - IDF spokesperson - July 19, 2011 Activists after commando units took over the ship, July 19, 2011

For an hour yesterday, the activists thought the navy might have given up its expensive mission to intercept them. They imagined a different, non-violent ending to their voyage, which began in Corsica on June 25, and continued into international waters on Saturday from the Greek island of Kastellorizo.

On Monday, the activists and the crew decided to drop anchor about 80 nautical miles from the shore so that if they were intercepted, it would be during the day.

On Tuesday morning, the ship weighed anchor and set off again.

Around 10 A.M., an Israeli navy vessel appeared to the north. The Karame’s radio began to crackle: “This is the Israeli navy. What is your destination?”

“Gaza port.”

Permission denied, the voice said.

Just then, communication was cut off. At about 1 P.M., a few commando boats sped toward the Karame from the west. From the south and north, three missile boats appeared.

We were all wearing our bright orange life jackets. The eight people below deck looked like cartoon characters.

But what approached was no joke. Two long, greenish missile boats with commandos on board, black masks hiding their faces, aiming all sorts of weapons at the orange-clad figures.

The commando boats came closer; alongside them were two gray inflatable rubber boats.

Later, three more appeared.

Israeli expatriate Dror Feiler, now a Swedish citizen, shouted in Hebrew: “Stop pointing your guns at us, we’re unarmed. He played a tune he had composed, with Jewish cantorial motifs, on his saxophone.

Just as he stopped playing, the commando boats began to slow down and pull back. The activists joked that the tune had done the job.

Around 2 P.M., seven commando boats came within a few meters of the yacht on both sides.

The water cannons were aimed straight at the deck. The rubber boats also came closer, and the Karame’s crew began to come down wet from the upper deck. The engine stopped and the soldiers, with their black masks and their pointed guns, ordered everyone into the cabin.

We won’t hurt you if you obey, someone said. The activists were crowded into the cabin, and the deck filled up with masked men who ordered them one by one into the rubber vessels.

The masked men extended their hands and said calming things like “hold my hand; here, let me move your bag for you.” We had hardly gotten onto the rubber boat, which had Border Police markings, when we were given water. The masked soldiers on the other boats were busy taking pictures of each humanitarian act.

From the rubber boats, we were taken onto the huge missile boat Kidon, among the missiles – obviously intended for Gaza – and soldiers whose faces were not masked.

Later we were taken down to airless cabins. Three or four young men guarded us. They were kind; they brought us water and fruit. Someone checked our pulses. Someone asked whether anyone was in pain. That was the extent of the medical exam.

Four hours later, when we arrived in Ashdod, our heads ached from the suffocating cabins.

At about 7 P.M. we stepped onto the quay at Ashdod. Masses of soldiers and a few people in civilian clothes engulfed us. People were taken to their luggage.

This is where we parted ways: As an Israeli and a journalist, I was taken aside and released after my passport was stamped. The Karame’s other 15 passengers were arrested and were not allowed to see their lawyers.

Gaza protest boat forced into Israeli port

21 Jul

from Aljazeera
19 July 2011

Israeli naval commandos seized control of a French ship attempting to break its blockade of the Gaza Strip and towed it into Ashdod port, reporting no resistance during the takeover in international waters.

The ship Dignite-Al Karama was brought into Ashdod on Tuesday by Israeli naval ships, Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley reported from the Israeli harbour.

“They apprehended the boat about 40km off the coast of Gaza. They [the Israelis] conducted what they called a “calm boarding”. No violence, no resistance, everything was peaceful.

“Now, the activists are held in a building in the port where they are going through various interviews. Their boat is going to be thoroughly checked for weapons and cargo, which the Greek captain said he did not have on board.

“Then they will presumably be handed over to the Israeli immigration department and then presumably be deported,” our correspondent said.”

Earlier, Israeli naval vessels had told activists they would take control of the boat unless it left the area.

The Israeli navy had said it was in a dialogue with the activists on board in an attempt to dissuade them from continuing on their route.

“In accordance with Israel government directives, and as previously stressed, the Israel Navy will allow the organisers and passengers to re-track at any point, prior to the boarding of Israel Navy soldiers,” the statement said.

The 17-passenger boat had declared an Egyptian port as its destination when it left Greek waters on Sunday, but activists on board later said they were redirecting towards the Gaza Strip and hoped to arrive by Tuesday afternoon.

“This ‘little’ boat symbolises the determination of the international solidarity movement to break the blockade on Gaza and express its support for the 1.6 million Palestinians imprisoned there since 2007,” a statement released from the boat said.

“We’re cleaning ourselves up a little bit before arriving. Morale here is like the sky and sea – very good,” wrote French activists on board, adding in English: “Gaza, off we go, stay connected!!!”

‘Message of peace’

The boat was originally part of a 10-ship flotilla which had been due to sail for Gaza at the end of June.

The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007 when the Palestinian group Hamas seized power in the territory. Israeli says the siege is intended to prevent Hamas from receiving arms and funds.

But Palestinians and their supporters consider the blockade illegal and say it has stunted the economic development of the territory, most of whose 1.5 million residents rely on aid to survive.

On Monday, Israeli deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon said Israel would prevent any attempt to breach the naval blockade on Gaza.

“If this boat is on its way to Gaza, which is a breach of international maritime law, and tries a provocative act – yes, we shall intercept it,” he told reporters in Jerusalem.

“But I assure you we shall try our best to make those on board very comfortable.”

Thomas Sommer-Houdeville, a French activist who spoke to the AFP news agency from on board the boat on Monday evening, said the vessel was only carrying a “symbolic message of peace and hope and love”.

Israel, he said, had no reason to intercept it.

“We hope that they will not, we don’t have a plan but we have a peaceful humanitarian mission. We are a peaceful boat flying a French flag,” he said.

Hamas condemned the seizure with spokesman Ismail Rudwan describing it as “piracy, a war crime and a violation of the principles of human rights”.

Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists when they stormed a Gaza-bound flotilla in the Mediterranean last year.

Israel Navy makes first radio contact with French ship

19 Jul

from www.turkishweekly.net
19 July

Activists aboard ‘Dignity,’ part of Gaza-bound flotilla, say 4 navy vessels are closely following after they departed Egypt in direction of the Strip; navy warns yacht it’s approaching naval blockade.

The Israel Navy has made initial radio contact with the Gaza-bound French Ship Dignity – Al-Karama, the IDF Spokesperson announced Tuesday morning.

The navy warned the ship that it was sailing in the direction of Gaza’s closed naval blockade and offered the activists the legal alternative of reaching the Strip through land crossings, the IDF said in a statement.

Activists aboard the yacht reported that three navy ships were on the yacht’s left side and another on the right side.

After departing from Egypt’s Port Said in the direction of Gaza shortly after 6 a.m. on Tuesday, the activists expected to reach Gaza by noon, Israeli-Swedish passenger Dror Feiler said, unless it was stopped by the navy.

A defense official on Monday said that the navy was preparing to stop the ship before it reaches the Strip.

The Dignity is carrying 17 pro-Palestinian activists. It was part of the Free Gaza Movement’s flotilla that was canceled earlier this month after Greece refused to allow the ships to leave its ports for the Gaza Strip.

On Sunday, the ship left Greek waters after declaring Alexandria as its destination. According to Free Gaza, its passengers include Jacqueline Le Corre, a member of the French Communist Party, Jean-Claude Lefort, a former French Member of the European Parliament, and Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass.

While the organizers did not explicitly declare that the ship would sail to Gaza, they said that it was part of the “first wave that will be followed by others.”

“It is a message to the Israeli government, to the international community and to the besieged people of Gaza: The Free Gaza Movement and the coalition of Freedom Flotilla II are not giving up until the inhumane and illegitimate blockade of Gaza is lifted,” the movement said in a press release.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said that Israel would stop the vessel.

“If this boat is on its way to Gaza, which is a breach of international maritime law…we will intercept it,” he said. “But I assure you that we will try our best to make all those on board very comfortable.”

Gaza Under Attack From A Swarm Of Drones

19 Jul

Breaking News Report – From Julie Webb-Pullman in Gaza
from www.scoop.co.nz
Tuesday 19 July

The whole of Gaza City is under air attack with Israel Defense Force (IDF) drones and other aircraft roaming the skies firing rockets and dropping bombs on the Palestinian population.

For Scoop, Julie Webb-Pullman reports that there are swarms of strike aircraft: “There was at least one explosion, then sirens. I can still hear drones , more sirens, lots of sirens, more explosions.”

From one vantage point, she can see a lot of smoke emitting from near Gaza City’s university.

From her rooftop, Julie Webb-Pullman reports: “It looks like a massive airstrike – the city of Gaza is under a pall of acrid smoke. The drones still droning. I can’t tell where the strikes were, but definitely in the middle of town, as well as further out.”

She said one air-strike was “close-ish but when I went on the roof I saw the whole city is under a pall – the drones are still going, every so often there are More sirens.

“They sound like they’re to the south-east of Gaza City, and to the north,” Julie Webb-Pullman reports.

There appears to be an intensifying strategy being deployed by the IDF, should a rocket or an improvised explosive device be lobbed at Israel from inside the Palestinian Territories, then there is a strong retaliatory response.

“There have been strikes every day after none for several months, and on Sunday night the IDF dropped leaflets warning anyone coming within 300 meters of the border would be shot.

“There does seem to be a ratcheting up of activity from both sides – now there appear to be two militant group, neither of them Hamas, firing home-made rockets into Israel.

“They have not wounded or killed anyone at all – yet – but the Israelis have responded with their usual disproportion, injuring many and destroying a lot of civilian property,” Julie Webb-Pullman reports.

Background:

United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has just cut back on the aid provided to Palestinian people. This is placing added pressure on the population in Gaza as 80% are dependent on that aid.

The weather is also relentlessly hot, with frequent power cuts and no clean water, making daily life really hard for ordinary people.

There is a distinct Israeli pressure on the Palestine Authority and Hamas not to unify, and not to seek recognition of a Palestinian State at the United Nations General Assembly in September – they have only given the Palestine Authority 50% of the money for salaries for public servants, so they are creating an explosive situation that Israel can then use to justify attacking, arresting, and doing whatever they please to Palestinians.

More to come…

Gaza-bound French boat sails to Egypt: Greek coastguard

18 Jul


by AFP in Athens, Greece, via Ma’an News Agency

18 July 2011

Article abridged

A French yacht carrying activists hoping to run the Israeli blockade on Gaza has sailed to Egypt after a troubled stay in Greece, the Greek coastguard said late on Saturday.

The Dignite/Al-Karama sailed to the Egyptian port of Alexandria from the tiny Greek island of Kastellorizo, where it had berthed for the past few days, the coastguard said.

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Israel always wanted land, not peace: US Jewish leader


18 Jul

Henry Siegman, former director of the American Jewish Congress, interviewed by Zaid Jilani & Ali Gharib at Think Progress

via Mondoweiss in abridged form

16 July 2011

Siegman: The United States has taken the position that the only way to make any progress in this situation is a renewal of the peace process, getting [Israeli prime minister] Benjamin Netanyahu and [Palestinian Authority president] Mahmoud Abbas to talk to each other.

If there is anything to be learned from years of disappointment and failure, it’s that the so-called peace process is simply a vehicle for Israel to pretend there is some potential for progress even as on the ground they are making it impossible because of their settlement project. There is a basic dishonesty here.

The United States, instead of saying, “This is a fraud,” says instead Israel wants to see a two-state solution, and thus provides a cover for Israel to expand its settlements on the ground and make an outcome absolutely impossible.

So it’s in that sense that I’m saying the US is the major obstacle. Because for years the assumption has been that the United States is uniquely in a position to bring about an agreement because of its leverage with Israel. But it turns out the US is captive to Israel’s plans.

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Egyptians demonstrate for a ‘total revolution’

18 Jul

Support Syria’s protesters: two events in Auckland, NZ

17 Jul

In Syria, since March 2011, 2,000 peaceful demonstrators have been killed, 6,000 injured, 8,000 are missing and 20,000 imprisoned.

Support the freedom protestors of Syria.

Meeting

Sunday 24 July 2011 @ 4.30pm

Wesley Community Centre, 740 Sandringham Road Extension, Mt Roskill, Auckland

March

Saturday 30 July 2011 @ 2pm

Assemble bottom of Queen Street, central Auckland


Organised by Syrian Solidarity New Zealand

email: syrian.solidarity@gmail.com

website: www.SyrianSolidarity.org.nz

facebook: www.facebook.com/Syrian.Solidarity.NZ

more info: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Na3IDe0p3Sk, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLv_mqN5Y8c

Gaza-bound French boat sets sail from Greece

17 Jul

Fuelling the French boat Dignite-Al Karama at Kastellorizo port, Greece, on 15 July 2011


by Amira Hass

Israeli daily paper Haaretz

17 July 2011

SOMEWHERE IN THE EAST MEDITERRANEAN – On Saturday evening a Gaza-bound boat left Greek territorial waters. Its ten participants regard themselves as representatives of the entire abortive flotilla to Gaza, and are determined to exhaust all possibilities in order to reach their destination, or at least carry out the symbolic act of protesting the blockade. They are well aware of the Lilliputian dimensions of their venture, compared with the massive impact organizers had initially planned to have with the 10-odd vessel flotilla.

Dignite-Al Karama, one of two yachts purchased by the French delegation in the second Freedom Flotilla, left a port in Corsica on June 25. Thus, it was spared the fate of eight other boats which were supposed to sail out of Greek ports, but were impounded by Greek authorities.

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‘We urge you to let the flotilla sail’: Gaza civil society


17 Jul


statement by Palestinian Network of NGOs

via Free Gaza Movement

15 July 2011

The following letter was delivered to the Greek Government on 12 July 2011 making it clear that the people of Gaza seek freedom and respect for their human rights, including their right to lead a dignified life, not charity. Seemingly deaf to their call, yesterday a spokesman for the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Delavekouras, repeated the Greek Government’s “generous offer” to deliver limited humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza – instead of helping them gain the freedom that is rightfully theirs.

We, members of Palestinian civil society in Gaza, have been watching the actions your government has taken to block Freedom Flotilla 2 from setting sail towards the biggest open air prison – the Gaza Strip – to challenge Israel’s criminal blockade.

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Petition: NZ Superfund must divest from Israeli occupation

16 Jul

An Israeli military caterpillar used to destroy Palestinian homes, construct the Separation Wall on the West Bank and assist in urban warfare in Gaza. The NZ Superfund invests in US manufacturer Caterpillar.


by Lois Griffiths

15 July 2011

A petition has been launched requesting the New Zealand Parliament to ask the NZ Superfund to disinvest from six companies doing business with the Israeli occupation in Palestine so that New Zealanders are not profiteering from crimes against international humanitarian law.

The petition will be presented to Parliament in September by Green MP Keith Locke. Can you help to collect signatures? To obtain petition forms, email Mandlgriffiths@clear.net.nz

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Unintended consequences of Israel’s ‘victory’ over flotilla

16 Jul

by Paul Larudee, flotilla volunteer

Free Palestine Movement

15 July 2011

Article abridged

On the face of it, Israel won this round by preventing the Freedom Flotilla 2 boats from leaving Greece. However, it required a major mobilization on their part, which engaged heads of state, government ministers and elected officials in several countries, not the least of which was the United States. As compared to the alternative of a confrontation at sea similar to last year’s, it would seem to be an Israeli victory.

However, this is where the unintended consequences begin. First, the very fact that such a high level of mobilization was undertaken raised eyebrows. Why would Israel go to such extreme measures to prevent an obviously harmless group from sailing to Gaza? What damage could we do?

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Israel outsources the sea blockade of Gaza

16 Jul

Democratic impulses of Arab world run deep in Bahrain

16 Jul

Boycott Israel: picket at Sylvia Park Mall in Auckland, NZ

15 Jul

Flotilla organisers keep their sights set on Gaza

15 Jul

by Adli Al-Baraqouni

Humanitarian Voice

12 July 2011

Article abridged & re-edited

Rami Abdo, spokesman fo the European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza (ECESG) says the organizers of Freedom Flotilla 2 are working on political, legal and popular levels to pressure the Greek government into allowing the departure of flotilla ships to Gaza.



In a statement to Al-Ressalah website in Gaza, Abdo said that during coming weeks other attempts to sail from Greek ports will take place.

While flotilla organisers are trying to find alternative ports for sailing to Gaza, this will take some three months, he noted.



After being banned from departing by the Greek Coast Guard, flotilla ships tried last Monday to set sail, but were again stopped.

Greek authorities have prevented the nine-boat flotilla from sailing to Gaza after coming under significant pressures from the Israeli government, the US and some European countries.



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