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Israel’s ‘notorious ill-treatment of Palestinian children’

24 Mar


Video: Israeli soldiers force crying 8-year-old boy barefoot through gravel looking for stone-throwers

By Sheren Khalel , Mondoweiss, 23 March 2017

Palestinian activists on Sunday filmed Israeli forces dragging an 8-year-old Palestinian boy through the al-Harika neighborhood of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank for more than hour.

The video, received and edited by Israeli rights group B’Tselem, shows 8-year-old Sufian Abu Hitah crying and barefoot, being pulled by his arm by an Israeli soldier.

The boy was surrounded by at least between 8-18 Israeli soldiers while being taken around the neighborhood, as Israeli forces tried to get the boy to identify other children who soldiers suspected of throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba earlier that day.

Sufian was taken down a gravel road through the neighborhood with no shoes on, and seemingly no care taken for the boy’s feet on the rocky path. The video then shows soldiers taking the boy up onto  a roof top. On the way down from the roof, Sufian is shown in tears as Palestinian neighbors and family members awaited the soldiers, attempting to convince them to release Sufian.

A woman eventually got ahold of the 8-year-old’s arm, pulling him away while Palestinians surrounded the boy trying to protect him from continued detention. Israeli forces followed the boy and the adults who took him back for several minutes before retreating, giving up on the chance of getting the 8-year-old to give them information about other children.

Amit Gilutz, spokesperson for B’Tselem told Mondoweiss that the incident was a normal display of Israeli military tactics.

“Unfortunately, an appalling treatment of minors is not unusual, but part of the occupation’s routine,” Gilutz said.

B’Tselem did an investigation into the incident and released a detailed report on Thursday.

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Warnings: 97% of Gaza water is undrinkable & running out.

24 Mar

Photo by Mohammed Zaanoun

Welcome to Palestine, 23 March 2017

Warnings that Gaza will run out of water as 97% is unsuitable for drinking.

The United Nations and Palestinian Water Authority issued warnings that the underground water aquifer, on which Gazan citizens are almost completely dependent, could become unusable by the end of the year.

Head of the Palestine Water Authority in Gaza, Yasser Al-Shanti, explained that Gaza is running an annual freshwater deficit of 110 million cubic metres.

“Gaza suffers from a sharp decline in the quality and quantity of freshwater.” he said

Not a lot has changed since a 2015 report published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development on assistance to the Palestinian people states that if action is not taken soon then the Gaza Strip could become “uninhabitable” by 2020 if current economic trends persist.

Levels of chloride and untreated sewage have increased the level of nitrates in the water to far beyond what the World Health Organisation considers to be safe.

The water level in some areas has dropped to over 15metres below sea level. Even with desalination plants, the quantity of water available is below half the amount considered ‘bearable’.

Water from private desalination plants can cost five times the price of municipal mains water and is not always safe to drink. According to Oxfam, less than 50% of Gaza’s desalination plants are licensed or well-regulated.

Many residents in Gaza only have access to mains water once a week, however, levels of saline can be so high that it is undrinkable.

Limited access to reliable clean water forces residents to spend huge amounts of money on water supplied by small-scale desalination vendors or on extortionately priced bottled water.

Interestingly, the Emergency Water Sanitation and Healthcare organisation (EWASH), an international and Palestinian coalition, stated that low-income households in Gaza spend more than six times more of their income on water per year than their UK counterparts.

Declining aquifer levels have been linked to the use and continued installation of Israeli wells in towns and settlements surrounding the Gaza Strip. Developments around the boundary are using up Gaza’s already limited water supply without a strategy for Gazan residents.

Due to tight restrictions on materials and goods coming into Gaza, the people have been denied the possibility of developing a solution. Now, the natural reservoir, upon which the 1.8million residents are dependent, is drying up.

However, there are organisations trying to help. An EU funded desalination plant opened in January and groups such as Aneera, Human Appeal and Oxfam are all trying to bring relief to Gaza. Yet this is just a drop in the ocean and the World Bank warns that the shortages may have caused irreversible damage.

A 2015 report published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development on assistance to the Palestinian people states that if action is not taken soon then the Gaza Strip could become “uninhabitable” by 2020 if current economic trends persist.



VIDEO: Ashraf Shannon, PressTV reports from Gaza 22 March 2017: Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip have marked World Water Day amid an ongoing water crisis. The Israeli siege and three wars have been hampering efforts to improve water quality in the coastal enclave.

Watch the short video below by EcoPeace Middle East for their possible solutions to the crisis.

US demands UN pull report accusing Israel of apartheid

17 Mar

Israel’s separation barrier dividing east Jerusalem (L) from the West Bank village of Anata (AFP Photo)

AFP report, USA, 17 March 2017

The United States on Wednesday demanded that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres withdraw a report by a UN body accusing Israel of imposing apartheid on the Palestinians.

Guterres distanced himself from the report by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) but US Ambassador Nikki Haley said it should be scrapped altogether.

“The United States is outraged by the report,” said Haley in a statement.

“The United Nations secretariat was right to distance itself from this report, but it must go further and withdraw the report altogether.”

The study concluded that “available evidence established beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid.”

Based in Beirut, ESCWA is comprised of 18 Arab countries, according to its website, which lists the state of Palestine as a full member, and works to strengthen cooperation and promote development.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said “the report as it stands does not reflect the views of the secretary-general” and was done without consultations with the UN secretariat.

One of the authors is Richard Falk, a former special UN rapporteur on Palestinian human rights.

“That such anti-Israel propaganda would come from a body whose membership nearly universally does not recognize Israel is unsurprising,” said Haley.

She described Falk as “a man who has repeatedly made biased and deeply offensive comments about Israel and espoused ridiculous conspiracy theories”.

Haley has accused the United Nations of being biased against Israel and has vowed as President Donald Trump‘s envoy to staunchly defend Israel at the world body.

Israel’s ambassador Danny Danon condemned the report, describing it as an “attempt to smear and falsely label the only true democracy in the Middle East by creating a false analogy.”

Danon said to label Israel as an apartheid regime was “despicable” and “a blatant lie.”

The report found that Palestinians were subjected to a “strategic fragmentation” that allowed Israel to impose “racial domination” with different sets of laws by geographic regions.

The analysis showed “beyond a reasonable doubt” that “Israel is guilty of imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people, which amounts to the commission of a crime against humanity.”

The furor came ahead of a Security Council meeting next week to hear the first report from the United Nations on implementing a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement building.


Remembering Rachel Corrie

17 Mar

‘I feel like I’m witnessing the systematic destruction of a people’s ability to survive. It’s horrifying.’

Palestine Network News, Gaza, 16 March 2017

14 years ago today, an Israeli military bulldozer killed activist Rachel Corrie in Gaza

Today marks the anniversary of the Israeli killing of Rachel Corrie in Rafah, southern Gaza strip, 14 years ago.

On March 16, 2003, Rachel was killed by an Israel Occupation Force (IOF) armoured bulldozer in Rafah during the second Palestinian intifada.

Rachel had come to Gaza to try and establish a sister city project between her hometown Olympia, Washington and Rafah, Gaza. She was a peace activist connected to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), who tried to prevent the demolition of Palestinian houses which were being carried out by the Israeli army.

After a three hour long confrontation between ISM activists and the Israeli army’s demolition forces, she was killed, less than two months after arriving in Gaza.

Israel claims that the driver of the bulldozer could not see Rachel because of the limited field of view from within the bulldozer. [Rachel was wearing a hi-visibility jacket and using a loudhailer].

Humans rights groups claim that the driver had seen her and deliberately continued driving, disregarding her fellow activists who were shouting and waving their arms, which resulted in Rachel’s death.

The Israeli army’s investigation of the incident concluded that the death was an accident because the driver of the bulldozer had limited visibility and therefore couldn’t see Rachel. Amnesty International and other human rights organizations criticized the military investigation, claiming that it was not transparent, credible or thorough enough.

The moment before US peace activist Rachel Corrie (inset) was crushed to death by an Israeli military bulldozer. Rachel had joined a protest action attempting to prevent the demolition of Palestinian homes in Rafa, Gaza in 2003

Police detain prominent Israeli-US activist Jeff Halper

14 Mar

Jeff Halper from his Facebook page.

By Yotam Berger, Haaretz (Israeli daily newspaper), 13 March 2017

Police detained Israeli-American left-wing activist Jeff Halper last Wednesday at the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement (West Bank), for suspected incitement, saying they acted on a complaint he had “materials related to BDS” in his possession (BDS: Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions).

Halper, picked up after leading a tour of foreigners to the E1 site across the road from the settlement, was transported by police van to a nearby station then released without being placed under arrest.

Police officers photographed the posters and maps he was holding before freeing him. Halper denies handing out any material related to BDS during the tour, or even discussing the boycott movement.

Handing out such materials would not have been in violation of the law, even a 2011 anti-boycott law according to which a person or an organization calling for the boycott of Israel, including the settlements, can be sued by the boycott’s targets without them having to prove that they sustained any damage.

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‘Dear Thom’ – a Palestinian message to Radiohead

14 Mar


VIDEO: Watch one Palestinian’s powerful call on Radiohead to cancel their Tel Aviv gig

By Ali AbunimahThe Electronic Intifada, 13 March 2017

This powerful video by journalist Ali Al-Arian has a clear message for Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke: don’t normalize apartheid. Cancel your planned show in Tel Aviv.

“I remember at a concert in Paris, when I watched you perform ‘Everything in its right place’ with a Tibetan flag over your piano,” Al-Arian, a longtime fan, tells Yorke. “As a descendant of a stateless people, this act of solidarity spoke volumes to me.”

Al-Arian adds: “But almost instantly, another thought appeared to me: to support Tibet is to add your name to a cause that’s already fashionable. But would I ever see you do the same with a Palestinian flag? Would you ever support a people so oppressed that even mentioning their oppression could lead to being falsely labeled an anti-Semite, to being outcast?”

Radiohead, once known for antiwar and progressive stances, is facing growing calls from Palestinians and human rights defenders not to lend its name and reputation to help Israel burnish its regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.

How will Yorke answer Al-Arian’s question: “Thom, which side of history will you be on?”


Israel boycott is part of global anti-racist struggle

13 Mar

“The BDS [Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions] movement does not tolerate any act or discourse which adopts or promotes, among others, anti-Black racism, anti-Arab racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism, xenophobia or homophobia.” (Guillaume Paumier, CC-BY)

By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 9 March 2017

Palestinians are reaffirming that the movement to boycott Israel is part of the global struggle against racism and all forms of bigotry, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

“The global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for freedom, justice and equality of the Palestinian people is an inclusive, nonviolent human rights movement that rejects all forms of racism and racial discrimination,” the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) said on Tuesday.

“We reject Zionism, as it constitutes the racist and discriminatory ideological pillar of Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid that has deprived the Palestinian people of its fundamental human rights since 1948,” the BNC, the civil society coalition that leads the BDS movement, states.

“Since its inception in 2005, the global, Palestinian-led BDS movement has been anchored in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is an inclusive human rights movement that categorically rejects all forms of racism and discrimination,” Rafeef Ziadah, (pictured left) a member of the BNC secretariat, told The Electronic Intifada. “This key anti-racism statement reiterates this long-held principle at a time when the racist and xenophobic far-right is rising in Washington, DC, Tel Aviv and many places in between.”

  “Proactive solidarity”

“On the centenary of the patently racist and colonial Balfour Declaration – which offered Palestine to Jewish-European settlers, disregarding its indigenous Arab population – it is crucial to highlight the timeless values of inclusion and opposition to all forms of racism,” Ziadah added.

The BNC’s statement places the Palestinian cause in the broader context of anti-colonial struggle: “We strongly condemn apartheid, genocide, slavery, colonial exploitation and ethnic cleansing, which are crimes against humanity that are founded on racism and racial supremacy, and we call for the right of their victims, including descendants, to full reparation.”

The BNC affirms that “the BDS movement does not tolerate any act or discourse which adopts or promotes, among others, anti-Black racism, anti-Arab racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism, xenophobia or homophobia.”

“The principles of the BDS movement call for proactive solidarity with oppressed communities worldwide and with all the victims of racist acts and rhetoric, as ours is a common cause,” the BNC adds.

There are growing expressions of this commonality. In 2015, more than 1,000 Black artists, intellectuals and organizations recognized “the racism that characterizes Israel’s treatment of Palestinians” and called for “unified action against anti-Blackness, white supremacy and Zionism.”

Israel lobby groups have strongly condemned Black support for Palestinian rights and have sought to disrupt such solidarity.

While anti-racism has long been affirmed by Palestinian activists, Israel and its surrogates have made a concerted effort to smear the Palestine solidarity movement as motivated by prejudice.

This logic treats Israeli supremacy and its denial of Palestinian rights on ethno-religious grounds as if they form part of a legitimate Israeli-Jewish identity that is bound to be cherished and respected, instead of resisted and replaced with a system that affords equal rights and protections to all.

Crackdown on free speech

A key tactic has been to try to enshrine in legislation and institutional policies around the world a discredited definition of anti-Semitism that treats criticism of Israel and its state ideology Zionism as forms of anti-Jewish bigotry.

In recent months, US lawmakers have sought to adopt this definition as part of the so-called Anti-Semitism Awareness bill.

Even the lead author of the controversial definition, Kenneth Stern, is warning lawmakers that its adoption would be an unconstitutional infringement on free speech.

Secular and religiously observant Jewish communities have also long rejected Israel’s propaganda conflating Jewish belief and identity on the one hand, with Zionism and support for Israel, on the other.

Israel and its lobby groups nonetheless claim that by opposing Israeli abuses the BDS movement is anti-Semitic. Israel has used this smear to push for draconian restrictions on free speech.

But a broad pushback by supporters of Palestinian rights is scoring successes.

Last year, the European Union joined several of its member governments in recognizing the right of its citizens to boycott Israel.

“The EU stands firm in protecting freedom of expression and freedom of association in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which is applicable on EU member states’ territory, including with regard to BDS,” Federica Mogherini, the 28-member bloc’s foreign policy chief told the European Parliament in September.

“As Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid sheds the farcical pretense of ‘democracy’ and adopts more and more racist and exclusionary laws, the BDS movement is further highlighting its inclusiveness and rejection of all forms of racism,” the BNC’s Ziadah said. “Our struggle for freedom, justice and equality is organically connected to global struggles for racial, social, economic, gender, climate and other forms of justice.”

Rafeef Ziadah, renowned performance poet and BDS activist, will present an evening of her moving poems in Christchurch on Friday 7 April, Wellington on Sat 8 April and in Auckland on Sunday 9 April. See earlier posts  and Facebook for details.

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