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The last boat maker in Gaza

21 Feb

Abdullah al-Najjar (left) has worked more on mending boats than on making new ones in recent times. [Abed Zagout The Electronic Intifada]

By Sarah Algherbawi The Electronic Intifada 18 February 2020

Abdullah al-Najjar is the last boat maker in Gaza.

Fully aware that he plies a vanishing trade, Abdullah, 61, is nonetheless trying to keep it alive in a time-honored way. He is training his son Jamil, 25, so that his skills can be handed on to the next generation.

Abdullah himself began learning how to build boats when he was in his early teens. He was taught how to do so by an uncle.

“Boat making is almost nonexistent in Gaza today,” said Abdullah. “That is because of the high costs involved, the fact that raw materials are scarce and the restrictions placed on fishers.”

Gaza’s maritime traditions have deep roots.

In ancient times, a Greek port known as Antidon was established near present-day Gaza City. Fishing – particularly for tuna, sardines, shrimp and squid – has long been a key source of livelihood for Palestinians living along the coast.

Despite surviving for so long, the traditions are now at grave risk because of Israel’s policies.

The Oslo accords – signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization during the 1990s – allowed Gaza’s fishers to work in a zone that stretched for 20 nautical miles. In reality, Israel has never allowed fishers to venture beyond 15 miles of the coast.

Since the beginning of the second intifada in 2000 Israel has reduced the size of the zone repeatedly. The effect has been a sharp fall in the number of Gaza’s fishers – from approximately 10,000 in 2000 to just 3,500 in 2013.

Today Gaza has about 3,700 fishers, only 2,000 of whom go out to sea on a daily basis.

Under attack

The size of the zone in which fishing is permitted has continued to fluctuate. Israel introduced 20 changes to its demarcation in 2019 alone.

Earlier this month, the Israeli military announced that it was once again reducing the size of the zone. No fishers are allowed to go beyond 10 nautical miles of the coast; in areas south of Gaza’s port, the zone is only six nautical miles.

Israel stated that the reduction was imposed because rockets were being fired and incendiary balloons were being flown from Gaza. Yet Israel did not produce any evidence linking fishers to such actions.

The restrictions on fishers constitute collective punishment, which is illegal under international law.

Fishers have also been repeatedly attacked. The UN monitoring group OCHA has reported that during a two-week period in December, Israel opened fire on fishers off Gaza’s coast at least seven times, sinking one boat.

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John Legend says it’s time to ‘speak up’ for the rights of Palestinians

20 Feb

John Legend, left, in conversation with Patrisse Cullors and Mehdi Hasan during a live taping of the Deconstructed podcast on 10 February, 2020. [Photo: Jessica Pons for The Intercept]

Award-winning singer and songwriter John Legend has stood in solidarity with Palestine, voicing his support for its peoples’ human rights in a recently aired talk show, The Intercept.

During a conversation with Legend and artist, and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network, Patrisse Cullors, the host Mehdi Hasan said:.

I just want to ask one thing. One of the reasons I admire both of you so much I’m delighted to have you on the show today is that you both take a very global perspective when it comes to criminal justice reform issues, issues of discrimination, issues of basic human rights. John, you’re one of the few celebrities actual A-listers, if you don’t mind me calling you that, who has linked the fight for human rights, civil liberties, the fight against detention, mass incarceration here at home to what’s been going on in the occupied Palestinian territories. How did you come to that position where you’re on Bill Maher, and you say, “As progressives, we should also speak up for the human rights of Palestinians.” It’s not something we often hear from A-list musicians.

John Legend: I just feel like that’s a baseline. That’s a baseline human position. There should not be a whole group of people in a country just because of their nationality or their religion being held in open air prisons and denied freedom of movement and having their land annexed by settlers and all these things. That’s just a human position. I’m not an expert in this area.

Mehdi Hasan: But you are one of the few kind of very, very, very famous people to have spoken out about it.

John Legend: Yeah, but I think it’s just as someone who’s observing what’s going on and saying, this is right, or this is wrong, clearly that’s wrong what’s happening to the Palestinians. It’s so obvious. Anybody who doesn’t believe that’s the case are being willfully blind, I believe.

Not Legend’s first stand for Palestine

The All of Me crooner appeared as a guest on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, a panel show focused on politics and current events. During the taping, which aired [in February last year], the subject of US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar was raised.

The politician had been a hot topic of conversation in the US, after issuing an apology for remarks suggesting money was the reason behind support for Israel, with her words widely criticised as “anti-Semitic”.

When host Maher posed the question of whether Omar’s comments were to be considered as such, Legend, 40, took a stand for the people of Palestine.

He said the topic has been “out of bounds” for too long:

“As progressives, we should also speak up for human rights for Palestinians, and for too long, I think, it has been out of bounds for progressives to speak up for the rights of Palestinians,” said the father of two.

The Grammy, Tony, Emmy and Oscar winner added: “It is a progressive point of view to speak up for the rights of Palestinians.”

[Ed: See earlier Kia Ora Gaza report: https://kiaoragaza.wordpress.com/2019/02/18/john-legend-speaks-up-for-palestinian-human-rights/  ]

This is not the first time Legend has spoken out in support of Palestine, during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, he criticized former US Secretary of State John Kerry’s attempts to broker a ceasefire deal between Palestine and Israel.

In the same year, Legend gave a speech for graduates at the University of Pennsylvania, during which he urged the audience to humanize Palestinians, by saying, “It means we see a young Palestinian kid not as a future security threat or demographic challenge, but as a future father, mother and lover.” 

“If you’re committed to loving in public, it requires you opening your eyes to injustice, to see the world through the eyes of another.”

John Legend: It’s time to “speak up” for human rights for Palestinians. [AFP]

(Sources: The Intercept, Palestine Chronicle)

Israeli siege of Gaza pushes youth unemployment up to 70%

19 Feb

A young boy carries food aid distributed UNRWA at Al-Shati Refugee Camp in Gaza City, Gaza on 15 January 2018 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

Middle East Monitor, 19 February, 2020

The Head of the Popular Committee against the Siege in the Gaza Strip said on Monday that the Israeli siege of the Palestinian territory has pushed the youth unemployment rate up to 70 per cent.

Jamal Al-Khudari, MP, pointed out in a media statement that the ongoing Israeli siege has entered its fourteenth year and resulted in the closure of dozens of factories, companies and workshops.

“This miserable reality has had a serious negative impact on the unemployment rate,” explained Al-Khudari. There are now more than 300,000 unemployed workers in Gaza and tens of thousands of unemployed university graduates. “There are no real solutions for the ailing economic situation as long as the Israeli siege is in place.” The young Palestinians in Gaza are being led to a dark future, he added.

The Palestinian legislator called for support for work programmes and the opening of the Arab and international markets for Gaza’s youth.

They can, for example, be employed remotely; such “long distance” employment schemes have started to prosper in Gaza. However, he stressed that the best way to reduce unemployment is to end the Israeli siege.

“Ending the Israeli siege, opening border crossings, connecting Gaza with the West Bank, allowing exports from Gaza and allowing free movement of people and trade,” insisted Al-Khudari. “This is the only way to bring about a real solution for the unemployment problem in Gaza.”

Bringing an end to the siege, he concluded, is the responsibility of the international community and this could only happen through putting “real pressure” on the Israeli government and taking “decisive measures” against it.

– – – – –

Ed: A key part of “taking decisive measures” and applying “real pressure” to end Israel’s siege of Gaza, are the international Freedom Flotillas sailing since 2008. Kia Ora Gaza will once again facilitate a Kiwi participant on the 2020 boat to break Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza.

You can support this important mission by donating to our 2020 Freedom Flotilla Appeal:

Make a direct payment to our bank account: Kia Ora Gaza Trust, 03-0211-0447718-000, Westpac Bank, Onehunga branch. Afterwards, email office@kiaoragaza.net with your deposit details so we can send you an e-receipt.

Write a cheque for ‘Kia Ora Gaza’ and post to: Kia Ora Gaza Trust, P.O. Box 86022, Mangere East, Auckland 2158

The new war brewing in the Mediterranean

19 Feb

Israel’s Tamar gas field off the Mediterranean coast. The country’s economic dominance is making other players like Turkey anxious [AP]

By Ramzy Baroud, Special to Gulf News, 19 February 2020

The new war brewing in the Mediterranean

If the EastMed pipeline becomes a reality, Turkey and Russia will stand to lose the most

Merely one month after the Israel Leviathan gasfield began pumping gas for the first time, an explosion in a pipeline that pumps Israeli gas to Egypt brought the operations to a temporary halt.

The attack on the pipeline in the northern Egypt Sinai Peninsula on February 2 was a microcosm of a much wider conflict that has been brewing for months, which is likely to escalate into an unprecedented regional power-play.

It all started with massive natural gas discoveries off the eastern coast of Israel and Palestine. Considering that Israel has robbed Palestinians of their land, it is no surprise that Palestinians are denied access to their very own natural resources.

Israel is diversifying beyond exerting regional economic dominance, to becoming a major player on the international geopolitical stage as well. The EastMed pipeline project, estimated at €6 billion (Dh23.87 billion), is expected to cover 10 per cent of Europe’s overall need for natural gas

– Ramzy Baroud

Now, Israel is working to translate the massive new discoveries to make Tel Aviv a regional energy hub.

The Middle East is already in the throes of a major geostrategic war that has the potential to become an actual military confrontation. Israel’s new gas wealth promises to be a major aspect of the region’s already existing conflicts.

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Israel reduces food rations to Palestinian prisoners

19 Feb

A protest in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners. (Photo: via AJE)

Palestine Chronicle, 19 February, 2020

The Israeli Prison Services (IPS) has decided to reduce food amounts served to Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails, as well as other services, Palestinian Prisoner Club (PPC) revealed on Monday.

Israel has been intensifying a crackdown on Palestinian inmates over the past two years. In a statement, the PPC declared that this step is part of Israeli Minister Gilad Erdan’s plan, aimed at worsening conditions for Palestinian prisoners, and canceling all the achievements gained throughout the years.

The PPC also stated that Israel is to reduce the number of TV channels allowed for the prisoners from ten to seven, to lower the number of loaves of bread from five to four, and to withdraw cookers and 40 items from their purchases.

In addition, the IPS will also cut down on the amount of meat, water and books allowed. It will offer only boiled eggs, ban the use of colored blankets, restrict movement among prison departments, decrease the time of breaks, minimize the number of family visits and change factional representation.

Meanwhile, the prisoners stressed that they are currently laying out a resistance plan against the IPS over these measures, which are gradually being implemented.

“The collective efforts at stifling their voices, even to the point of murder through torture and medical negligence, is provoking an oblivion which is tantamount to a loss of identity, at least when it comes to perception from the outside,” wrote renowned journalist and author Ramona Wadi.

“ With the exception of Palestinians in close proximity with Israeli forces, who spares a thought for Palestinian prisoners before they are turned into temporary headlines by Israel’s colonial violence?,” Wadi added.

(Palestine Chronicle, MEMO, Social Media)

Palestinian stories of struggle and defiance in Israeli prisons

In January 2020, Clarity Press, Inc. of Atlanta announced the launch of These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons, by Palestinian author and journalist, Ramzy Baroud, and The Palestine Chronicle Editorial Team. 

Order your copy of ‘These Chains Will Be Broken’ from Clarity Press, Amazon.com or Barnes & Nobles

SIGN THE PETITION to: The New Zealand Government

End the detention and abuse of Palestinian children:

https://our.actionstation.org.nz/p/palestinianchildprisoners

 

 

How business in illegal Israeli settlements continues unchecked

19 Feb

A view of the Israeli settlement of Elon Moreh as seen from the Palestinian village of Azmout near the West Bank City of Nablus, 16 February 2020. [Alaa Badarneh / EPA]

By Jonathan Cooke, Nazareth, Opinion: The National, 18 February 2020

Profiting from loss: how business in illegal Israeli settlements continues unchecked – UN efforts to protect Palestinian land from economic exploitation are failing

After lengthy delays, the United Nations finally published a database last week of businesses that have been profiting from Israel’s illegal annexation and settlement activity in the West Bank. [See earlier post: https://kiaoragaza.wordpress.com/2020/02/13/un-blacklists-112-companies-with-ties-to-israels-illegal-west-bank-settlements/]

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, announced that 112 major companies had been identified as operating in Israeli settlements in ways that violate human rights.

Aside from major Israeli banks, transport services, cafes, supermarkets, and energy, building and telecoms firms, prominent international businesses include Airbnb, booking.com, Motorola, Trip Advisor, JCB, Expedia and General Mills.

Human Rights Watch, a global watchdog, noted in response to the list’s publication that the settlements violate the Fourth Geneva Convention. It argued that the firms’ activities mean they have aided “in the commission of war crimes”.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, announced that 112 major companies had been identified as operating in Israeli settlements in ways that violate human rights

The companies’ presence in the settlements has helped to blur the distinction between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. That in turn has normalised the erosion of international law and subverted a long-held international consensus on establishing a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Work on compiling the database began four years ago. But both Israel and the United States put strong pressure on the UN in the hope of preventing the list from ever seeing the light of day.

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Video: Ship to Gaza 2020

17 Feb

VIDEO by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society, 13 February 2020

Samah Sabawi, Michael Shaik & James Godfrey discuss the Gaza Freedom Flotilla 2020 at an information evening hosted by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society on 10 February 2020.

Since 2008 activists around the world have been sailing to Gaza to break through the Israeli siege and pressure governments to take action. Under a global coalition- Freedom Flotilla Coalition- this year another boat will embark on this journey.

Australia and New Zealand/Aotearoa will again participate in this important international solidarity mission to challenge and breach Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza.

Samah Sabawi is a Gazan Palestinian living in Melbourne. She is an award winning author, playwright, and poet and a political analyst for Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian policy network. Samah’s family was forced into exile from Gaza a week after she was born, and 2 months after the 67 war and military occupation of Gaza. She was also one of the australian spokesperson for the 2018 freedom flotilla

James Godfrey is an organiser of Free Gaza Australia and spokesperson for the Freedom Flotilla Coalition. He has worked as a volunteer supporting all of the Freedom Flotilla projects since 2011. He is a PhD researcher examining the effects of a counter terrorism requirement in England on freedom of speech re Palestine at universities.

Michael Shaik was the Media Coordinator for the International Solidarity Movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. He was one of the founders of the FREE GAZA campaign to break Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip and worked as the Public Advocate for Australians for Palestine from 2007 to 2010. He is a contributor to three books on the role of non-violent direct action in the struggle for Palestinian independence and has commented on Israeli-Palestinian affairs for The Age, The Australian, The Canberra Times, ABC Radio National and SBS television and radio. He currently works for the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network http://www.ajds.org.au https://freedomflotilla.org/

To offer your support for the NZ/Aotearoa participation in the 2020 Freedom Flotilla to Gaza, email Kia Ora Gaza at: office@kiaoragaza.net and follow us on this website and Facebook. Send your donation to Kia Ora Gaza Trust bank account: Westpac 03-0211-0447718-000

Are Kiwisaver funds complicit in Israel’s illegal settlements?

14 Feb

Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa Media Release, 14 February 2020

Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa targets Kiwisaver providers which support Israel’s brutal oppression of Palestinians

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“This land is our child”

14 Feb

VIDEO by The Electronic Intifada: “This land is our child” – A Nakba survivor in Gaza, Khadra Muhammad Hasan al-Zuwaidi, looks at her land across the boundary and remembers life there.

The Electronic Intifada, 14 February 2020

Khadra Muhammad Hasan al-Zuwaidi, 85, was born in the Palestinian village of Dimra.

Dimra was a village in historic Palestine that was ethnically cleansed by Zionist paramilitary forces in 1948 and partially replaced with the Erez Kibbutz, a type of colony. Part of Dimra fell into the perimeter of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, and the other, larger part of the village fell under Israeli control outside the besieged territory, according to al-Zuwaidi. “We left Dimra with gunshots behind us,” al-Zuwaidi told The Electronic Intifada.

“We were happy. The Zionists came and inflicted a catastrophe. They left us no land, they left us no gardens or fields.” Al-Zuwaidi married a Palestinian man from Beit Hanoun and stayed there. “The earth used to give us baskets of produce,” she said. “No longer.”

In the video, al-Zuwaidi can see her land across the boundaries of the Gaza Strip, but cannot go there. “If we attempt to go now, we’d get shot.”

Al-Zuwaidi said villagers mourn the land “the same way we mourn a child in a grave.” Video by Nebal Hijo, Ahmed Abu Kmail, Ibrahim Ramadan, Nour Zakkout and Khalil Abu Shammala. See: https://electronicintifada.net/conten…

UN blacklists 112 companies with ties to Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements

13 Feb

A digger made by JCB is used by Israeli occupation authorities to destroy a Palestinian home in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in 2011. The British firm is in the UN database, released on 12 February of companies that work in Israel’s settlements.[Mahfouz Abu Turk APA]

By Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, 13 February 2020

UN publishes list of firms profiting from Israeli war crimes

The United Nations on Wednesday finally released its database of companies involved in Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Syria’s Golan Heights.

The release of the database comes after years of unexplained delays, which prompted human rights organizations to express concern that the UN was succumbing to political pressure to suppress the information.

Israel’s colonial settlements on occupied land are illegal under international law and their construction is a war crime that is being investigated by the International Criminal Court.

The report released by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights lists 112 companies involved in certain activities in the settlements, including the supply of equipment and materials for construction or home demolitions, surveillance and security, transport and maintenance, pollution and dumping of waste, and use of natural resources including water and land.

The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, the steering group for the Palestinian-led BDS campaign, welcomed the release of the database, which came “despite bullying by [President Donald] Trump and Israel’s far-right government.”

It added that “these companies must be held to account, including through strategic boycotts and divestment campaigns.”

Israel reacted to the publication of the list with rage.

Gilad Erdan, the country’s minister of strategic affairs, claimed that it “proves once again the UN’s consistent anti-Semitism and Israel-hatred.”

Unable to defend its violations of international law, Israel now routinely smears even the mildest critics as anti-Semites.

Well-known brands

The database includes Israeli firms and well-known international brands such as travel companies Airbnb, Booking.com and TripAdvisor, construction equipment maker JCB, real estate company Re/Max, train maker Alstom, US food giant General Mills and electronics firm Motorola.

General Mills owns dozens of familiar supermarket brands including Häagen-Dazs, Yoplait and Cheerios.

Also on the list is Mayer’s Cars and Trucks, the Israeli agent for Sweden-based equipment maker Volvo. But Volvo itself is not listed.

Volvo provides equipment for destroying Palestinian property, trucks to transport waste to illegal dumps and armored buses for settlements.

Major omissions

Also notably absent from the list is Caterpillar, long a target of campaigners for selling construction equipment used by Israel to build settlements and destroy Palestinian homes.

Its Israeli agent, Israel Tractors and Equipment, also does not appear on the list despite Caterpillar’s documented role in settlement expansion and providing the Israeli army with bulldozers that are used as weapons.

The BDS National Committee pointed to other major omissions: G4S, Hewlett-Packard companies, Hyundai Heavy Industries, HeidelbergCement, Cemex and Israeli arms maker Elbit Systems.

Israeli firms that are on the UN list include major banks, which finance the theft of Palestinian land, and Israel’s national water company Mekorot, which pillages Palestinian water.

Israeli supermarket chain Shufersal, which runs stores and supply chains in settlements, is also on the list.

That is notable because several European Union embassies have run joint promotions of their countries’ products with the firm, despite Shufersal being a settlement profiteer. The EU claims to oppose Israeli settlements.

Israeli pressure

The UN database was originally supposed to be released three years ago.

Israel and the US have been determined to stop its publication, fearing it could provide a major boost to efforts to hold Israel accountable and force companies to stop helping Israel violate Palestinian rights.

Israel planned “to do everything it can to ensure that this list does not see the light of day,” Danny Danon, the country’s ambassador to the UN, said in 2017.

The database is clearly not comprehensive and is limited only to businesses involved in activities specified by the UN Human Rights Council mandate.

As its authors acknowledge, the “database does not cover all business activity related to settlements, and does not extend to wider business activity in the occupied Palestinian territory that may raise human rights concerns.”

An example of the types of activities the database does not cover is investing in firms involved in Israeli crimes.

France-based insurer Axa, for example, is under pressure from activists to divest from Israeli weapons makers and banks that finance settlements.

Axa is not included in the UN database.

Nevertheless, campaigners see the publication of the database as an important first step and a tool to push for accountability.

Human Rights Watch, one of the organizations that had criticized the UN for repeatedly delaying publication, welcomed the release of the database.

“The long-awaited release of the UN settlement business database should put all companies on notice: To do business with illegal settlements is to aid in the commission of war crimes,” Bruno Stagno, the group’s executive director for advocacy, said.

“The database marks critical progress in the global effort to ensure businesses end complicity in rights abuse and respect international law.”

The UN is expected to update the list annually.

 

Logos of Airbnb are seen with a house mock-up onto it. [Metin Aktaş/Anadolu Agency]

Middle East Monitor, 13 February 2020

A blacklist report was released today by the human rights office of the UN containing names of 112 companies with ties to illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

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Palestine is (still) the issue 

11 Feb

Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin with US president Jimmy Carter at Camp David in September 1978. (US government archives, Public domain)

By Louis Allday The Electronic Intifada 11 February 2020

Had Edward Said been alive to witness the sordid spectacle of the Trump administration’s announcement of the so-called Deal of the Century, there is little doubt he would have been disgusted.

But he would not have been surprised.

After Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo accords with Israel in 1993, Said saw, with his typical lucidity and foresight, the damning implications of this supposed peace treaty.

In the wake of the optimism that the deal engendered in some quarters, Said commented scathingly that the accords were “more flawed” and “more unfavorably weighted than many had first supposed.”

He added that the “fashion-show vulgarities of the White House ceremony” had only served to temporarily obscure the “astonishing proportions of the Palestinian capitulation.”

In his seminal book The End of the Peace Process, having been proven depressingly correct by developments in the seven years since Oslo, Said affirmed that the “colonial spirit” of the peace process meant that the US and Israel were happy to give the Palestinians symbols of sovereignty, such as a flag, while simultaneously withholding true sovereignty, the right of return for all refugees, economic self-sufficiency and independence.

Said was not alone in seeing plainly the trajectory of Arafat and the PLO’s capitulations and in understanding where any negotiations under the auspices of the US would lead.

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Israeli troops weren’t at risk, but they shot a Palestinian boy in the head anyway

10 Feb

Four teens were on the way back from the village playground, when they spotted the soldiers laying in ambush, and took cover. When Mohammed Shatawi stood up for a moment, he was shot. Now he’s in a vegetative state, in the hospital this week – hovering between life and death.

By Gideon Levy and Alex Levac, Haaretz,(Israeli daily), 10 February 2020

The family meeting area can be found next to the neuro-intensive care unit on the 12th floor of the modern tower at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, Jerusalem. It is a vast space with a high ceiling, stone-faced walls and picture windows overlooking a wooded Jerusalem landscape; bronze sculptures, the gift of donors from America, adorn the space. A metal plaque proclaims the hall as being dedicated to “children who lead the way to a kinder path.”

Sitting at the far end of the room – deserted on an afternoon this week – on a wooden bench donated by the Pittsburgh Jewish community, with a Muslim prayer rug at his feet, is a man in a gray sweat suit, his face crestfallen, his heart broken. Mohand Shatawi sits alone here. Not far away, behind the automatic doors leading to the ward, in one of the spacious and well-equipped rooms, physicians are fighting to save the life of his 14-year-old son, Mohammed. The youth’s head is bandaged, his chest rises and falls at the pace of the mechanical ventilator; he’s hooked up to numberless tubes and a sea of monitors report on his condition. Mohammed is a vegetable. He’s been like this ever since an Israel Defense Forces soldier fired a bullet into his head, last week.

Despair, pain, agony are etched on Mohand’s face, whose aloneness is heightened by the cavernous space around him. No one else from his village of Qaddum, west of Nablus, has a permit that will allow them to join him here in his time of anguish. He’s been here a week now, sleeping on the floor and praying for his son’s life. Actually, he hardly sleeps. He buys whatever meager food he can afford. Once every so often, he enters the ward to look at his son. It’s a brutal sight. For our part, we’ve never seen so many tubes and monitors hooked up to a boy.

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Hear Bro Peter Bray in Wellington & Christchurch

10 Feb

A special presentation by Brother Peter Bray FSC, Vice-Chancellor of Bethlehem University – ‘Creating a future of hope’ in Palestine

University is a Catholic University in the Holy Land, established in 1973 as a joint venture between the De La Salle order and the Vatican. Its Vice-Chancellor, Brother Peter Bray FSC, a New Zealander, was in the country this week to offer a presentation on what is happening at the University. He stopped by the RNZ studios while he was in Auckland to discuss the university’s context in the Holy Land and the challenges it faces (see link below). 

Bethlehem University is a Catholic University in the Holy Land, established in 1973 as a joint venture between the De La Salle order and the Vatican. With a student population that is 25% Christian and 75% Muslim, the University strives to be a place of peaceful coexistence, an oasis of peace and a beacon of hope.
 
Vice-Chancellor Brother Peter Bray FSC, a New Zealander, will offer a presentation on what is happening at the University; its context in the Holy Land and the challenges faced; and real-life stories of the students and the impact the University is having on their lives.

His talk will be delivered in these centres:

  • Wellington – Tues 11 Feb, 6:00 pm, Saint Andrews on the Terrace, 30 The Terrace

  • Christchurch – Sun 16 Feb, 7:00 pm, WEA Centre, 59 Gloucester Street

Free entry – all welcome

ALSO: Hear Brother Peter Bray’s recent interview on ‘Sunday’ RNZ:

https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/sunday/audio/2018732383/the-only-weapons-our-students-have-is-their-education

 

‘Slow death’: Israeli dams flood Gaza crops

10 Feb

Palestinian farmers accuse Israel of deliberately waging a war on Gaza’s agricultural sector

Palestinian farmer Naim al-Khaissi inspects wheat that has rotted due to flooding (MEE/Mohammed al-Hajjar)

By Maha Hussaini, Gaza Strip, Middle East Eye 9 February 2020

For five months, Palestinian farmers like Naim al-Khaissi had cultivated and irrigated their lands in the besieged Gaza Strip, waiting for the end of January to harvest vegetables from eastern farmlands located close to the separation barrier with Israel.

But after all of their hard work, Palestinian farmers woke up to the news that Israeli authorities had emptied out the nearby rainwater storage, effectively flooding Gaza crops only a few days before harvest season.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture, Israel’s opening of the dam’s gates caused more than $500,000 worth of damage to more than 332 hectares of land in January alone.

The agricultural lands in the Israel-imposed “buffer zone” near the separation barrier constitute a source of livelihood for hundreds of Palestinian families and serve as Gaza’s main source of fruits and vegetables.

The flooding comes amid other measures Palestinians say are being deliberately applied by Israeli forces to affect the impoverished besieged territory’s food supply and push farmers off their lands.

Flooded farmlands

Khaissi, 75, has been a farmer since 1962. He used to own almost 10 hectares of land before 2005, when Israel evacuated settlers from the Gaza Strip. But he saw the vast majority of his land fall out of his reach in the buffer zone.

A general view of flooded lands east of Gaza City (MEE/Mohammed al-Hajjar)

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Palestinians ‘betrayed’ again by Trump deal

7 Feb

 

VIDEO report by Mohamed Hassan, Aaya Al-Shamahi, Nur Ibrahim, Middle East Eye, 5 February 2020

Palestinian activist Raja Abdulhaq compares Trump’s Middle East plan with the 1993 Oslo Accords

 

The Dead Zone: a breakdown of life in Gaza during 14 years of Israel’s blockade

7 Feb

Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, Geneva, 28 January 2020

More than half of the population in the Gaza Strip is below the poverty line, as the enclave completes 14 years of Israeli blockade, a report by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor revealed.

In light of the United Nations’ 2012 report that predicted Gaza won’t be livable by 2020, the report highlights significant indicators of grave deteriorations in health, economy, education, and virtually all other aspects of daily life for Palestinians in the besieged enclave.

   The Report provides overwhelming evidence of how Israeli policies and practices have undermined the economic and social structures of Gaza, “It is a cause of particular concern that this situation of Israel lawlessness with such a dire impact on the civilian population is allowed by the United Nations and its member States to continue for so long   

Richard Falk, Chairman of Euro-Med Monitor’s Board of Trustees

Click here to view the full report

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Lack of pressure lets Israel maintain status quo

7 Feb

US President Donald Trump, right, looks over to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the White House last week to announce the Trump administration’s plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

OPINION by Donna Miles-Mojab, The Press (Christchurch), 6 February 2020

As the veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk commented, Donald Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” for Israel and Palestine is so absurd, “it’s impossible to take it seriously”.  

The deal is a gift to the indicted Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces the fight of his political life, heading into a third election in less than a year. 

But Trump’s gifts are never one-sided. 

The president’s evangelical base and his wealthy conservative donors are big supporters of Netanyahu. These are the same people who cajoled Trump to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. They sat in the front row at the inauguration ceremony, beaming with glee while, in a jarring contrast, 58 Palestinian protesters were shot dead only a few kilometres away.

Trump’s unworkable peace plan gives Israel everything straight away while Palestinians get crumbs with preconditions. 

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Israel’s ‘enhanced closure’ of Gaza condemned

5 Feb

 Israel has banned imports of cement, vital for Gaza to rebuild after enduring many Israeli bombing raids [Photo: Mohammed Zaanou]

 Statement by PCHR (Palestine Centre for Human Rights), Gaza, 4 February 2020

On 02 February 2020, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) announced tightening restrictions on the movement of goods into the Gaza Strip and on the movement of merchants/businesspersons in response to incendiary balloons and projectiles fired towards Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip. In a press release, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rokon, announced freezing facilitations relevant to commerce, economy and movement across checkpoints, including decreasing the number of businesspersons permits and ceasing import of cement to the Gaza Strip. The Coordinator proclaimed that these measures are in response to violence against Israel in its border area with the Gaza Strip and launching projectiles towards Israel.

According to PCHR follow-up, Israeli authorities informed the Presidential Committee for Goods Coordination in Gaza that its decision to ban the entry of cement into the Gaza Strip is effective as of 01 February 2020.

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Israel bans import of cement to Gaza

4 Feb

Israel once again bans import of cement to the besieged Gaza Strip. (Photo: File)

Palestine Chronicle, 4 February, 2020

Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett stopped cement entering the besieged Gaza Strip and canceled entry permits issued to hundreds of Gaza traders, [reports] Israeli Hebrew newspaper Maariv.

Bennett ordered the coordinator of the civil affairs in the occupied territories to carry out his directions immediately, according to Maariv.

The siege, jointly imposed 13 years ago with the support of Egypt, has prevented the import and export of many goods from Gaza, limited medical supplies and curtailed fishing and farming, thereby crippling the economy.

In 2012 the UN warned that the coastal enclave would become “uninhabitable” by 2020 as a result of the strict measures.

John Minto on Trump’s ‘peace plan’

4 Feb

The NZ Herald published an Opinion piece by John Minto, National Chairman, Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa today.

Here is the full unabridged version:

Bringing justice to Palestine is in our hands

It would be easy to throw up our hands in horror at the announcement of the so-called “deal of the century” but that would be pointless. We’ve all known for a long time that this “deal” would be a boon to Israel and a kick in the guts for Palestinians.

The Trump administration has given the Israeli government the green light to: continue building Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land; annex most of the occupied West Bank; continue its ongoing military occupation of Palestine and the siege of Gaza; refuse Palestinian refugees the right to return to their land and homes and to continue its religious and ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem.

For the Palestinian side there is nothing aside from a vague reference to a hollowed out Palestinian state that would resemble apartheid South Africa’s bantustans. As the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem says – “the deal is like Swiss Cheese – the Israelis get the cheese while the Palestinians get the holes.”

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