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Palestine Weekly Review from Gaza

26 Aug

VIDEO: The latest news update with Palestine Weekly Review produced in Gaza by the 16 October Media Group in association with Shehab Agency news. Published 23 August 2019.

Ron Mark dodges questions forwarded from NZ PM’s Office

25 Aug

By Leslie Bravery, Daily Blog, 24 August 2019

Following email exchanges with the Prime Minister’s Office featured in the previous blog, which included an email sent to both Ron Mark and Jacinda Ardern, we have yet to receive any response from the Defence Minister. The Prime Minister’s Office has evaded answering questions in both our emails that relate to Foreign Policy and International Law, commenting that “As the issue you have raised falls within the portfolio responsibilities of the Minister of Defence, Hon Ron Mark, your email has been forwarded to the Minister’s office for information.”

On 20 August, another attempt to elicit a reply from Ron Mark was emailed to the Defence Ministry: We ask you to kindly answer the questions raised in the email from us that was forwarded to you on 24 July from Jacinda Ardern’s Office. Please also respond to the follow-up email sent to both yourself and the Prime Minister on 1 August. There awaits mounting public interest in your responses.” This did, at least, prompt an immediate automatic reply from Ron Mark’s office but, of course, it contained nothing relevant to the questions asked. We have yet to receive any answer to these questions from either the Minister or his Office.

Netanyahu

Last April, the Israeli Prime Minister publicly announced his determination to annex the Jewish settlements in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank. He also said he would prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state by “controlling the entire area”. Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, states: “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” Most UN member states recognise that Israel’s militarily-imposed Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. Built on stolen land, the Occupation settlements are being used to confine Palestinian into ever-smaller enclaves.

In an interview with Aretz Sheva (Israel National News), Netanyahu promised: “There will be no Palestinian state, not as people talk about it. It will not be because I am making sure of it.” The Israeli PM also made it abundantly clear that he was “maintaining a united Jerusalem” as well as “our control on the entire area west of the Jordan River . . .” During the interview, Netanyahu triumphantly reminded us that, “I brought President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem, the transfer of the embassy and the recognition in the Golan Heights, which is very important to what I plan in Judea and Samaria.” So much for a Palestinian state! Calling the Palestinian West Bank ‘Judea and Samaria’ says it all for territorially-ambitious Israel.

Our Prime Minister’s Office response would seem to imply that relations with Israel and questions of international law fall now“within the portfolio responsibilities of the Minister of Defence”. As Ron Mark is a member of the NZ-Israel Parliamentary Friendship group, we need to know just what is our Defence Minister’s position regarding, for instance, the uncompromising disregard for international law exhibited by the Israeli Prime Minister? The Israel Institute has observed that “Ron Mark is a member of the NZ-Israel Parliamentary Friendship group but has not made any public statements in [sic] the issues” which seems to fit with his reluctance to respond to straight questions. While he chooses to remain silent, readers may find a clue as to his ideological leanings in this video of Ron Mark and Benjamin Netanyahu together in Jerusalem

All who care about the sustainability of respect for UN human rights provisions should take action in support of the Palestine Solidarity Network NZ initiative  to urgently cancel a proposed New Zealand Defence Force multimillion-dollar purchase of military equipment from an Israeli company. Keep asking the Minister, again and again if necessary, to answer:

 What is the policy regarding Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law?

 What is the policy with regard to New Zealand contributing, through trade, to the profitability of the Israeli military? 

 In view of the evidence presented in our email and in greater detail online, is the NZ Government willing to declare itunequivocal support for international law with regard to the security and human rights of the Palestinian people living under alien military Occupation?

Video report: Basic medicines scarce in Gaza

22 Aug

Video report by We Are Not Numbers, 22 August 2019.

Shortages of essential medicines are chronic in the Gaza Strip. Here Rakan Abed El Rahman reports on efforts to try to produce essential drugs locally. Thanks to New Scene نيو سين for the camera work and editing.

Israel pushing Palestinians to leave Gaza

20 Aug

Relatives of Muhammad Abu Namous, one of three Palestinians killed along the Gaza-Israel boundary overnight, mourn during his funeral in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza, on 18 August.

By Maureen Clare Murphy, Electronic Intifada, 20 August 2019

Israel is actively encouraging and ready to facilitate mass emigration of Palestinians from Gaza, according to a senior government official.

“Israel is ready to carry the costs of helping Gazans emigrate,” and would potentially use air force bases in Israel for that purpose, The Times of Israel reported on Monday.

The unnamed official, in Kyiv as part of Benjamin Netanyahu’s delegation to Ukraine, added that more than 35,000 Palestinians left the coastal enclave last year.

Two million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip, which has been subjected to a punishing Israeli economic blockade for 12 years and repeated military offensives.

Residents of the territory have been plunged into poverty and cut off from the rest of Palestine and the wider world.

Every two in three Palestinians in Gaza is a refugee from lands inside what is now Israel. That government forbids them from exercising their right to return as enshrined in international law because they are not Jews.

The senior Israeli official was reported by The Times of Israel as saying that his government is asking countries to absorb Palestinians emigrating from Gaza.

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2020 Freedom Flotilla to raise awareness about Palestinian youth in Gaza

16 Aug

VIDEO: Caught in Israel’s permit system, Gaza children fear for their lives

Freedom Flotilla Coalition statement, 16 August 2019

In 2012, the UN predicted that Gaza was on track to become “unliveable” by 2020. In 2017, the UN acknowledged that the “unliveability” threshold had already been passed. Despite this, “somehow, families in Gaza find ways to ‘make do’.”

In Spring 2020, the next Freedom Flotilla will sail again to challenge the 12 year, illegal and inhuman Israeli blockade imposed on more than 2 million Palestinian people in Gaza – more than half of whom are children.

Partners in the Freedom Flotilla Coalition are mobilizing support for their participation in the Flotilla and you can get involved by contacting your nearest partner listed here.

The people of Gaza do not give up and neither do we. There are 1.4 million young people in Gaza who deserve a better future.

Across the world our partners and other friends have been organizing local events to raise
awareness about the continued blockade and also to raise funds to finance the purchase of boats and supplies.

For the children in Gaza and for respect of human rights we will sail again until Palestine is free.

You can support our NZ/Aotearoa participation by donating to our 2020 Gaza 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.

[Freedom Flotilla Coalition website: https://jfp.freedomflotilla.org/ Facebook  Twitter]

WATCH ABOVE +972 VIDEO: Caught in Israel’s permit system, Gaza children fear for their lives

What happens when children in Gaza need to leave the strip for medical care that is unavailable there? Filmmaker Jen Marlowe gives us a look into the lives of the families as they navigate the often Kafkaesque process of getting permission from the Israeli army to leave the besieged strip for medical treatments.

By Jen Marlowe – the Communications Associate for Just Vision and a filmmaker, journalist, author, and human rights activist.

What white terrorists have in common

16 Aug

Flowers left in memory of those who were killed in El Paso, US. (Photo: Twitter)

By Ramzy Baroud, Palestine Chronicle, 16 August 2019

Manifestos of Hate: What White Terrorists Have in Common

Writing under the title of “If the El Paso shooter had been Muslim”, Moustafa Bayoumi stated the obvious.

“If the El Paso shooter had been a Muslim,” Bayoumi wrote in the British Guardian newspaper on August 6, US President Donald Trump “would be lobbing accusations such as ‘Islam hates us’ in the direction of Muslims and not lecturing the public about video games.”

Bayoumi was referring to the double standards that define much of western official and media discourses regarding violence. When the alleged perpetrator of violence is a Muslim, then the case becomes a matter of national security and is categorically dealt with as an act of terrorism. When the perpetrator is a white male, however, it is a whole different story.

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Israeli Forces attack Palestinians in Al-Aqsa

12 Aug

Palestine Chronicle, 12 August 2019

Israeli forces attacked Palestinian worshippers in Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque complex on Sunday, injuring at least 37, according to a Palestinian official, Anadolu Agency reports.

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Marking anniversary of Israeli attack on Gaza Flotilla

1 Aug

Al Jazeera Live Interview David Heap (FFC Spokesperson) Freedom Flotilla Coalition, 30 July 2018

Video interview with Freedom Flotilla spokesperson David Heap as the Gaza-bound ship Al Awda was being illegally attacked and hijacked in international waters by armed Israel forces one year ago.

On board was NZ representative, Unite union leader, Mike Treen (pictured below), who sustained multiple injuries during the attack. Kia Ora Gaza is a member of the international Freedom Flotilla Coalition, which is planning another attempt to break Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza next year

UN lets Israel’s child killers off the hook again

1 Aug

A wreath stands in the place of Faris al-Sarsawi at his school in Gaza City on 7 October 2018. The 13-year-old was fatally shot in the chest by an Israeli sniper two days earlier.[Ramadan El-Agha APA]

By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 1 August 2019

Human rights defenders are slamming UN Secretary-General António Guterres for leaving Israel off an official list of the world’s worst abusers of children’s rights.

On Tuesday, the UN released the secretary-general’s annual report on children in armed conflict.

It finds that a record 12,000 children were killed or maimed in wars around the world in 2018.

But Human Rights Watch notes that Guterres “omitted countries responsible for grave violations against children in armed conflict in his new ‘list of shame.’”

The group notes that the list leaves off the Israeli military, the Afghan National Army and US-led international forces in Afghanistan.

“The UN secretary-general simply refuses to hold to account all warring parties that have inflicted tremendous suffering on children,” Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, said.

“By listing selected violators but not others, Secretary-General Guterres is ignoring the UN’s own evidence and undermining efforts to protect children in conflict.”

Indeed, evidence of Israel’s crimes is in the secretary-general’s report: Israeli occupation forces killed 56 Palestinian children in 2018. An Israeli settler killed a 57th.

That is a four-fold increase over the number of children Israel killed the previous year.

More than 30 of the children killed last year were shot dead in Gaza, as Israel unleashed snipers to deliberately target unarmed civilians with lethal force in the context of Great March of Return protests.

Nine out of 10 “were shot by live ammunition to the upper body, while reportedly posing no imminent threat of death,” the UN report states.

More than 2,500 Palestinian children were injured in 2018, more than double the number the previous year, the UN found.

An Israeli general, Zvika Fogel, admitted openly that Israeli soldiers were under orders to aim their rifles at the “small body of a child.”

An independent UN commission of inquiry called for Israeli officials to be sanctioned and brought to justice over suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza.

“[Israeli forces] have intentionally shot children, they’ve intentionally shot people with disabilities, they’ve intentionally shot journalists, knowing them to be children, people with disabilities and journalists,” Sara Hossain, one of the investigators appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, said.

The new UN report documents other widespread violations of Palestinian children’s rights by Israel including arrests, detention and mistreatment, and disruption to their education.

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Gideon Levy at PalExpo. ‘One State: The Future’

11 Jul

Gideon Levy was a keynote speaker at PalExpo, London last week.

VIDEO by 4G Live TV, published 8 July 2019

Gideon Levy is a renowned columnist with Haaretz, a daily Israeli newspaper, and a member of the newspaper’s editorial board. Levy joined Haaretz in 1982, and spent four years as the newspaper’s deputy editor. He is the author of the weekly Twilight Zone feature, which covers the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza over the last 25 years, as well as the writer of political editorials for the newspaper. Levy was the recipient of the Euro-Med Journalist Prize for 2008; the Leipzig Freedom Prize in 2001; the Israeli Journalists’ Union Prize in 1997; and The Association of Human Rights in Israel Award for 1996. His new book, The Punishment of Gaza, has just been published by Verso Publishing House in London.

The NZ Palestine Solidarity Network hosted Gideon’s well-attended lecture in Auckland in 2017.

 

Nelson Mandela’s grandson slams ‘Israeli apartheid’

8 Jul

Zwelivelile Mandela sketched out a damning picture of the discrimination experienced by the Palestinian people, describing Israeli apartheid is the worst form of apartheid ever witnessed [File: Leon Neal/Getty Images]

By Gavin O’Toole, London, AlJazeera, 7 July 2019

The grandson of anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela has delivered a damning condemnation of “Israeli apartheid”, in a high-profile expression of solidarity between South Africans and Palestinians.

Zwelivelile Mandela, an MP of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), made the comments on Saturday at the Palestine Expo, an annual event in London aimed at showcasing Palestinian history, heritage and culture. Last year, it attracted 15,000 visitors.

Addressing a large audience, Mandela said that the Nation-State Law passed in 2018 declaring Israel to be the historical homeland of the Jewish people “confirmed what we have always known to be the true character and reality of Israel: Israel is an apartheid state”.

He also outlined what had constituted apartheid for black South Africans – from the creation of bantustan reservations to land expropriation and the daily assault on dignity.

“All these characteristics were present in apartheid Israel since its inception but have now been codified and given a constitutional status and expression by the Nation-State Law.

“Apartheid Israel perpetuates statutory discrimination through the very definition by the law as a Jewish state; by doing so it renders non-Jews as second-class citizens, alternately as foreigners in the land of their birth.”

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Palestine Solidarity Network revamped

2 Jul

Interim Chairman, John Minto, launches the revamped nationwide campaigning organisation at the Christchurch inaugural gathering of the Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (PSNA) last week.

PSNA Newsletter No 1

Kia ora koutou,

Welcome to the first newsletter of the Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa.

I’m very pleased to let you know that a new national organisation to support the Palestinian struggle was formed at our one-day national seminar in Christchurch last Saturday, 22 June. The seminar was a huge success with people from ten cities outside Christchurch represented.

There was an outstanding presentation from our guest speaker followed by workshops where ideas for local activity and national actions were discussed. Planning for future events/activities is well underway. The energy, enthusiasm and determination from the seminar were impressive. It was a great day.

The new group is called the Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (PSNA for short) and has formed an interim committee with representatives from across the country. We will be meeting regularly online.

It is an interim committee because we want representation decided by local Palestine support groups. In practice we want to work from the ground up rather than the reverse.

Na
John Minto

Interim Chair,

Palestine Solidarity Network, Aotearoa.

Email: johnminto@orcon.net.nz

Palestine’s ‘untold story’ building solidarity in Africa

28 Jun

US/Palestinian author Dr Ramzy Baroud talks with Ibtisam Jamal from HorizonTV, Kenya during Kenya Palestine Solidarity Week, 25 June 2019.

Nick Mudimba from SwitchTV, Kenya interviews visiting US/Palestinian writer, Dr Ramzy Baroud, author of ‘The Last Earth’, on 27 June. Dr Baroud, the editor of the Palestine Chronicle, is on an extensive world speaking tour, which included five cities in New Zealand last year.

NY Times publishes call for Palestinian ‘national suicide’

26 Jun

Israel’s UN ambassador Danny Danon yearns for Palestinian “national suicide.” [Jens Schott Knudsen]

By Ali Abunimah, Media Watch: Electronic Intifada, 25 June 2019

The anti-Palestinian bias of the The New York Times has long been a subject of complaint and derision among supporters of human rights and competent journalism.

But the “newspaper of record” outdid itself this week by publishing and promoting an op-ed by Israel’s UN ambassador Danny Danon claiming that “a national suicide of the Palestinians’ current political and cultural ethos is precisely what is needed for peace.”

Danon argues that a Palestinian “surrender” to Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid “will create the opportunity to transform Palestinian society.”

Danon’s grotesque racism drew much sharp outrage from commentators.

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The day after: What if Israel annexes the West Bank?

26 Jun

US National Security Advisor John Bolton (L) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) guided by Israeli army Major General Nadav Padan (L) at the Qasr al-Yahud baptism site at the Jordan Valley near the Palestinian city of Jericho, West Bank, Sunday, June 23, 2019. (Abir Sultan/EPA Pool via AP)

By Ramzy Baroud, Middle East Monitor, 25 June 2019

Calls for the annexation of the Occupied West Bank are gaining momentum in both Tel Aviv and Washington. But Israel and its American allies should be careful what they wish for. Annexing the Occupied Palestinian Territories will only reinforce the current rethink of the Palestinian strategy, as opposed to solving Israel’s self-induced problems.

Encouraged by the Donald Trump administration’s decision to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Israeli government officials feel that the time for annexing the entirety of the West Bank is now.

In fact, “there is no better time than now” was the exact phrase used by former Israeli Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, as she promoted annexation at a recent New York conference.

Certainly, it is election season in Israel again, as Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a government following the last elections in April. So much sabre-rattling happens during such political campaigns, as candidates talk tough in the name of ‘security’, fighting terrorism, and so on.

But Shaked’s comments cannot be dismissed as fleeting election kerfuffle. They represent so much more, if understood within the larger political context.

Indeed, since Trump’s advent to the White House, Israel has never – and I mean, never – had it so easy. It is as if the right-wing government’s most radical agenda became a wish list for Israel’s allies in Washington. This list includes the US recognition of Israel’s illegal annexation of Occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem, of the Occupied Syrian Golan Heights, and the dismissal of the Palestinian refugees’ right of return altogether.

Read: The deal of the century is not being announced, but implemented

But that is not all. Statements made by influential US officials indicate initial interest in the outright annexation of the Occupied West Bank or, at least, large parts of it. The latest of such calls was made by US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

“Israel has the right to retain some… of the West Bank,” Friedman said in an interview, cited in the New York Times on 8 June.

Friedman is deeply involved in the so-called deal of the century, a political gambit championed mostly by Trump’s top advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The apparent idea behind this ‘deal’ is to dismiss the core demands of the Palestinians, while reassuring Israel regarding its quest for demographic majority and ‘security’ concerns.

Palestinians hold banners as they gather to protest against a conference, which is the workshop, scheduled for June 25 and 26, in Bahrain’s capital Manama, related with a “Deal of the Century” plan in Ramallah, West Bank on 15 June 2019. [Issam Rimawi – Anadolu Agency]

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Buying Palestine for peanuts

25 Jun

Video interview with US/Palestinian author Ali Abunimah [AlJazeera/EI]

By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 24 June 2019

Over the weekend, the White House released “Peace to Prosperity,” the economic component of its so-called Deal of the Century.

It calls for $50 billion in “investments” spread over 179 projects. Half the money would be spent on Palestinian infrastructure over 10 years, with the rest spread between Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan.

It will supposedly include a $5 billion transportation corridor between the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip and another $2 billion in the Palestinian tourism sector.

The plan has zero chance of success, not least because no one knows where the money would come from – presumably it is to be pledged by America’s client states in the Gulf – and there’s no reason to believe Israel would ever remotely allow any major projects intended to benefit Palestinians.

Jared Kushner, adviser and son-in-law to President Donald Trump, and US envoy Jason Greenblatt, are the brains behind the plan.

They claim it will reduce Palestinian poverty by half and double Palestinian GDP over a decade.

I told Al Jazeera on Saturday that the plan amounts to reheated ideas for “economic peace” – the hope that a few financial crumbs will buy Palestinians off from demanding liberation and from continuing to resist Israel’s system of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.

It’s an effort to buy Palestine for peanuts.

Palestinians protest against the Bahrain economic workshop, in Rafah, southern Gaza, on 18 June. This week’s gathering in the Gulf state will see the unveiling of the economic component of the Trump administration’s “Deal of the Century.” [Ashraf Amra APA]

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On 63rd Great March of Return & Breaking Siege..

24 Jun

..Israeli Forces wound 116 Palestinian civilians, including 34 children, 5 women and a paramedic

Injured paramedic

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights report, 22 June 2019

On Friday, 21 June 2019, in excessive use of force against peaceful protesters on the 63rd Friday of the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege, Israeli forces wounded 116 Palestinian civilians, including 34 children, 5 women, a paramedic and a person with disability, in the eastern Gaza Strip. Four of those wounded sustained serious wounds.

According to observations by PCHR’s fieldworkers, the Israeli forces who stationed in prone positions and in military jeeps along the fence with Israel continued to use excessive force against the protesters by firing bullets and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, dozens of the protesters were  hit with bullets and teargas canisters without posing any imminent threat or danger to the life of soldiers.

On Friday, 21 June 2019, the incidents were as follows:

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Former Mossad Chief says: ‘Israel Does Not Want Peace’

24 Jun

Former chief of Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad, Shabtai Shavit. [Photo: File]

PalestinePost24, 22 June 2019

‘Talking about peace the mother of sins,’ former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit says.

Settlement in West Bank is based on religious myths, the Israeli official stressed.

Former Chief of Israeli Intelligence Agency Mossad, Shabtai Shavit, has said that Israel does not want peace and that, if it had, it would have made peace long time ago.

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Israel closes Gaza’s waters to Palestinian fishermen

13 Jun

Palestinian fishermen unload their catch at the seaport of Gaza City [File: Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

Associated Press report, 13 June 2019

Jerusalem – The Israeli military says it is taking the rare step of closing the Gaza Strip’s offshore waters to Palestinian fishermen until further notice in response to incendiaries launched into Israel in recent days.

COGAT, the Israeli Defense Ministry body controlling the crossings with the coastal enclave, announced Wednesday that “due to the continuous launching of incendiary balloons and kites from the Gaza Strip towards Israel,” Israel would bar Gazans from using the territory’s coastal waters.

[abridged]

Inside Israel’s million dollar troll army

13 Jun

 Act.IL’s Israeli headquaters in Herzliya. [Act.IL/Facebook]

By Asa Winstanley, The Electronic Intifada 12 June 2019

A global influence campaign funded by the Israeli government had a $1.1 million budget last year, a document obtained by The Electronic Intifada shows.

Act.IL says it has offices in three countries and an online army of more than 15,000.

In its annual report, from January, Act.IL says its goal is to “influence foreign publics” and “battle” BDS – the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for Palestinian rights.

Through its app, Act.IL issues “missions” to this troll army in exchange for “cool prizes” and scholarships.

The app directs comments towards news websites in support of Israeli wars and racism, while attacking Palestinians and solidarity campaigners.

The leaked report claims Act.IL’s app completes 1,580 such missions every week.

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