EU washes its hands of Gaza

23 Jun

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, left, has remained silent about Israel’s electricity cuts to Gaza. (European External Action Service)

By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada22 June 2017

EU washes its hands of Gaza

After 10 years of Israeli blockade, conditions for two million Palestinians trapped in the Gaza Strip are by all accounts worse than ever.

Israel’s blockade, according to the human rights group B’Tselem, has consigned Gaza’s residents “to living in abject poverty under practically inhuman conditions unparalleled in the modern world.”

Yet the European Union, which markets itself as a champion of freedom, democracy and human rights, has washed its hands of the people there.

After four successive days of reductions, Israel has now cut the electricity it supplies to the Gaza Strip by 60 percent.

This comes on top of chronic shortages that meant most households only had about four hours of electricity a day.

As numerous international bodies have warned, the territory is in the midst of an unfolding humanitarian crisis.

In mid-May, the International Committee of the Red Cross said that Gaza was on the brink of “systemic collapse” as operating rooms, water and sanitation systems cease functioning.

Already, Gaza City’s main hospital has slashed surgeries by one-third, and as a result of the blockade, exacerbated by the electricity crisis, the territory is swimming in sewage.

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Israel furious as UN plans ’50 yrs of Israeli occupation’ event

23 Jun

Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs, Gilad Erdan (Photo: Motti Kimchi)

By Itamar Eichner, Ynet News (Israeli media), 21 June 2017

Israel furious as UN set to host ’50 years of Israeli occupation’ event

Minister Gilad Erdan appeals to UN Secretary-General Guterres to stop hostile conference scheduled to take place at the UN headquarters this month; writing to Guterres and telling him the groups participating are entirely dedicated to defaming and ‘delegitimizing Israel’ Erdan also reaches out to US Senator Marco Rubio, urging him to ‘continue to speak out against use of UN funds to promote the BDS campaign.’

Israel is gearing up to push back against a conference being hosted next week by the UN in the organization’s New York headquarters to mark what it describes as the “anniversary of the Israeli occupation.”

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Palestine Film Festival – Waiheke

23 Jun

Tivoli Theatre, Oneroa.

 To mark the 50 years of Israel’s military Occupation of Palestine – since the Six Day War in June 1967 – TIVOLI is presenting recent films on Palestine and the Occupation.

6pm Saturday June 24

Decolonising Israel

Ilan Pappe, March 2017, 60 mins
A lecture on settler-colonialism at the U.S. National Press Club, by Israeli historian Prof Ilan Pappe. European Centre for Palestinian Studies, Exeter University.

6pm Saturday July 1
Open Bethlehem
Director Leila Sansour,  2015

The film-maker returns to her famous hometown as a wall is being built around it… ‘one of the most remarkable and moving documentaries I have seen’, Jon Snow. [See trailer above].

Koha appreciated. Donations to Medical Aid for Palestinians. If you wish BYO.

 

Gaza asks Egypt for fuel to keep lights on

22 Jun

People in Gaza are used to power cuts — but things have now got much worse [THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images]

By Gregg Carlstrom, The Times, Gaza City, 22 June 2017

In the paediatric wing of a Gaza hospital where nine young children are undergoing dialysis, the power suddenly cuts out. Alarms blare and the machines flash red warning lights. Yet the children do not flinch. One boy does not even wake from his nap.

Gazans are used to power cuts — but not like these. Until this week Gaza had about 240 megawatts of electricity, half what is needed to meet its fast-growing demand. About 120 megawatts of that was supplied by Israel and paid for by the Palestinian Authority (PA).

In April the PA decided to reduce its electricity payments by 40 per cent. Last week Israel agreed to lower the supply by the same amount — even after its top generals warned that it would deepen the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. It started the cuts on Monday.

“We do this four hours a day, four days a week,” Umm Yahya, whose son was hooked up to one of the machines, said. “We’re used to it.” The hospital has a generator and the room soon buzzed back to life — at least this time.

Nabil Iyad, one of the doctors, said: “Sometimes there’s no fuel to run the dialysis machine so we have to close the department and send all our patients elsewhere. Any time there are interruptions it damages the equipment.”

 

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Where is Israel’s anti-Palestinian dark money going?

21 Jun

Gilad Erdan, pictured speaking to a US Senate committee in Washington in June, heads the Israeli strategic affairs ministry’s fight against the global movement for Palestinian rights. (Senator Claire McCaskill)

By Ali Abunimah ,The Electronic Intifada, 20 June 2017

Where is Israel’s anti-Palestinian dark money going?

Last September, a group of Israeli citizens filed freedom of information requests to force the Israeli government to reveal its financial support to foreign organizations, individuals, journalists or bloggers assisting Israel in its battle against what it calls “delegitimization.”

The two departments that received the requests – the strategic affairs ministry and the foreign ministry – have replied, each claiming that they have no working relationships with such foreign entities.

This is baffling, according to attorney Eitay Mack who prepared the requests, since Israel has allocated tens of millions of dollars to fight the global movement for Palestinian rights, and especially the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign.

“Unless the two ministries have lied to us, the fact that no foreign elements abroad have been willing to officially join the global campaign which the state of Israel conducts for the perpetuation of the occupation, attests to the failure of this campaign,” Mack observes drily.

In reality, the strategic affairs ministry alone has an annual budget of more than $40 million dollars. But it only has a couple of dozen employees. All this money “is obviously not used just for the salaries of its relatively few workers, but for contracts with various elements, whose identity, as well as the criteria for the cooperation” the ministry refuses to disclose, says Mack.

“It is not clear at all what the two ministries’ official definition of delegitimization is,” Mack states, “and it seems they regard their struggle against foreign citizens who criticize the state of Israel as a military campaign.”

A cool million

The strategic affairs ministry, headed by Gilad Erdan, spearheads Israel’s effort to thwart the growing Palestine solidarity movement.

The ministry is reportedly engaged in secret “black ops” which, according to a veteran Israeli analyst, may involve “defamation campaigns, harassment and threats to the lives of activists” as well as “infringing on and violating their privacy.”

In April, The Electronic Intifada revealed the name of the strategic affairs ministry’s “intelligence chief” – Shai Har-Zvi – which like the names of its other employees is a state secret.

The strategic affairs ministry and the foreign ministry are also fighting a turf war over who should lead Israel’s global anti-Palestinian struggle.

In January, an undercover Al Jazeera investigation into Israel’s efforts to influence British politics revealed clear evidence that Israel is spending large sums of money to influence foreign governments and societies to support its violations of Palestinian rights.

 

The Al Jazeera film The Lobby shows Israeli embassy political officer Shai Masot telling Labour Friends of Israel chair Joan Ryan that he had “more than one million pounds” approved in Israeli government funding to bring UK lawmakers on junkets to Israel.

The film also reveals that the Israeli embassy funds the Union of Jewish Students, which has played a key role in the UK’s Israel lobby.

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‘It’s like living in a septic tank’

21 Jun

A flooded quarter in Jabaliya refugee camp, Gaza Strip, February 16, 2017. Heavy rains caused flooding across the Gaza Strip, overwhelming the territory’s sewage system and forcing families to evacuate from their makeshift homes. [Anne Paq ActiveStills]

By Sarah Algherbawi, The Electronic Intifada, Gaza Strip, 20 June 2017

Life in a septic tank

Hiba al-Ashi has to keep the windows of her apartment closed. It is the only way to avoid the foul odours from the polluted sea.

“Life has become unbearable,” said the 36-year-old mother, whose Gaza City home overlooks the Mediterranean.

Every day, 100,000 cubic meters of raw sewage are discharged into the sea around Gaza.

The Gaza Strip’s environmental problems have worsened in recent years.

Gaza has suffered from chronic electricity shortages ever since its sole power plant was bombed by Israel in 2006. Israel imposed an ongoing, severe economic blockade on the territory one year later, restricting the import of fuel and hindering repair of electricity infrastructure destroyed and damaged during successive military offensives.

Gaza’s power plant shut down entirely in April this year, and Israel further reduced electricity supply to Gaza this week – a violation of international humanitarian law, according to human rights groups. Electricity is currently available fewer than three hours per day.

One of the results – among others profoundly affecting daily life in Gaza – is that there is not enough power to run sewage treatment facilities in the territory. Desalination plants, which provide most of Gaza’s drinking water, are also operating at significantly reduced capacity.

“Unprecedented”

Visiting the beach used to be one of the only possibilities for enjoyment and relaxations for Palestinians living under siege in Gaza.

Pollution has narrowed such possibilities. Around 50 percent of Gaza’s beaches are unfit for swimming, according to the local Environment Quality Authority. A number of beaches have been closed to the public.

“The pollution rate of the sea water and beaches this year is unprecedented,” said Ahmad Helles, a representative of that authority. “This indicates that there is a real environmental disaster.”

According to Helles, both the sand and water are contaminated. The sand, he said, “carries a lot of microbes which may be harmful and cause illnesses in humans.”

Maher Salem, a leading administrator of water services in Gaza, said that the sewage facilities will “stop totally soon.”

“We are forced to pump all the sewage into the sea untreated,” he said. “This is preventing people from swimming and, in many cases, even going to the beach.”

Having a view of the sea or living near it is considered desirable throughout the world. In Gaza, however, many people wish to leave homes close to the shore.

“The pollution rate of the sea water and beaches this year is unprecedented”

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Israeli activists release solidarity lanterns for Gaza

21 Jun

Israeli activists write “Gaza” in the sand with paper lanterns during a protest in solidarity with the residents of Gaza, Ashkelon beach, June 19, 2017. (Haidi Motola/Activestills.org)

By Eli Bitan, +972 Blog,19 June 2017

Israelis release paper lanterns in solidarity with blacked-out Gaza

As the Israeli government begins implementing a decision to reduce the already insufficient electricity supply in Gaza, to just three hours a day, activists just across the border send a little symbolic light their way.

After Israel announced that it had begun reducing the already insufficient electricity supply to Gaza on Monday, dozens of Israeli activists released 150 paper lanterns at Ashkelon beach, just north of the Strip, in solidarity with the residents of the besieged territory. Among the activists were Israeli residents who live in the towns surrounding Gaza, who joined the action to protest the potential humanitarian catastrophe on the other side of the fence.

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