Open letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

6 Oct

Open letter to UN secretary general Antonio Guterres

To: Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General United Nations
United Nations
New York

5 October, 2017

Dear Secretary General,

On your recent visit to Gaza, you saw with your own eyes some of the deplorable and inhumane conditions suffered by the Palestinians living in Gaza. You called it “one of the most dramatic humanitarian crises” that you had seen. We hope that, backed by the strength of the United Nations, this experience encourages you to bring maximum pressure on the State of Israel to lift the illegal and inhumane blockade the people of Gaza have been living under for ten years.

We want to remind you that there are many civil society and religious groups around the world who are watching the worsening situation in horror. We are depending on the United Nations, under your leadership, to work at the international level to increase the pressure from all nation states to use every economic and political measure to remind the State of Israel of the standards expected of the civilized nations of the world.

We are also pleased that you noticed specifically that the blockade on Gaza’s southern border with Egypt is upheld by that Arab state in defiance of both international resolutions and a sense of solidarity with a fellow Arab people. Israel is imposing the blockade not only by land, but also by air. They have destroyed Gaza airport, which was financed with international aid (including from Spain). At sea, Israeli forces attack Palestinian fishers from Gaza on a daily basis. They also illegally attack international vessels that challenge the blockade non-violently in the Freedom Flotilla missions that have taken place since 2010.

There are political reasons that make a resolution to the crisis of Gaza imperative at the international level. But even more important are the humanitarian reasons to release an entire people from the appalling situation in which they are currently forced to live.

Your own officers and researchers have concluded that Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020. Many other reports, including those by the UN, have documented the many threats to the health and even the survival of people in Gaza. The UN has drawn particular attention to the power deficit. Since April 2017 access to electricity is often for four hours or less per day and always unpredictable. Power cuts make sewage treatment impossible leading to pollution of the beaches. Attacks on inshore fishers deprive the people of access to the nutritional value of fish. Your own research has shown up to 57% of Gaza people are ‘food insecure’. Not only is the Gaza economy paralyzed by the blockade, but restrictions on entry of building materials makes it very difficult to reconstruct bombed schools, for example.  The blockade also restricts entry of school supplies and other goods that pose no threat to Israel whatsoever. This entire generation of children and young people in Gaza are growing up without the minimum to develop into educated and well-nourished adults.

The situation is so serious that you have announced an emergency grant of $4 million. But the Palestinians of Gaza do not want to have to take emergency payouts; they want – and need – a cessation of Israeli aggression and real international peace-keeping to prevent further aggression. The so-called “Middle East Quartet” has been a disaster, accomplishing nothing and whitewashing Israeli violation of international law and the breaking of numerous agreements. The State of Israel has also ignored countless UN resolutions aimed at curtailing its activities, as well as continuing the illegal blockade of Gaza and the harassment of its fishing fleets.

In other words, despite its good intentions, the UN has a deplorable record in effectively safeguarding the Palestinians of Gaza and in promoting their security and independence.

We call on you to immediately:

  • Demand that the State of Israel complies with all UN resolutions, with the threat of sanctions if it does not do so.
  • Disband the Middle East Quartet and replace it with an effective oversight body.
  • Resume real peace keeping and effective protection of the civil population of Gaza.
  • Insist that the State of Israel respects and conforms with all UN resolutions that relate to its relations with Gaza.
  • Ensure that the world knows that the blockade is illegal and should demand that it be removed immediately.

Sincerely and persistently,

Freedom Flotilla Coalition Members and Partners
Canadian Boat to Gaza

Freedom Flotilla Italy
Kia Ora Gaza [New Zealand / Aotearoa]
MyCARE Malaysia
Palestine Solidarity Alliance [South Africa]
Rumbo a Gaza [Spain]
Ship to Gaza Norway
Ship to Gaza Sweden
International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza
US Boat to Gaza

Miles of Smiles
Free Gaza Australia 

Other Organizations

Gaza Action Ireland
Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign
ShannonWatch (Ireland)
Plateforme des ONG françaises pour la Palestine
Council of Canadians / Conseil des Canadiens
Bestemødre For Fred (Grandmothers For Peace, Norway)
Veterans for Peace (US)
CODEPINK: Women for Peace (US)
Voice of Women for Peace (Canada)
Collectif Judéo Arabe et Citoyen pour la Palestine (France)
Palestina Solidariteit (Belgium)
Association France Palestine Solidarité
Cultura e libertà (Italy)
Alternative refugee Center (Switzerland)
Badil resource center for Palestinian residency and refugee rights
Women for development (Switzerland)
Union Juive Française pour la Paix (France)
Deutsch-Palästinensische Gesellschaft (Germany)
Frauen in Schwarz, Wien (Austria)
Netherlands Palestine Committee
Palestijnse Gemeenschap in Nederland
Nederlands Arabische Stichting
TIYE International (Netherlands)
Diensten en Onderzoek Centrum Palestina (Netherlands)
Stop Represión Málaga, Voces Alternativas, Kontrapunto (Spain)
Breed Platform Palestina (Haarlem, Netherlands)
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (Gaza, Palestine)
Asociación de la Comunidad Hispano-Palestina “Jerusalén” (Spain)
Asociación Medica Hispano Palestina (Spain)
Asociación Pablo de la Torriente Brau
El movimiento de mujeres palestinas Alkarama
RESCOP – Network of Solidarity against the occupation of Palestine (with 49 member organizations in Spain)
Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia (Malaysia)
Viva Palestina Malaysia
BDS Malaysia
Persatuan Ulama Malaysia
Al-Quds Foundation Malaysia
Association of Norwegian NGOs for Palestine
Asociación Española para el Derecho Internacional de los Derechos Humanos
Parallelo Palestina (Italy)
Canadian BDS Coalition
Palestine Solidarity Network  (Edmonton, Canada)
People for Peace (London, Canada)
United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel (Canada)
Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR), Canada
Boundary Peace Initiative
Mid-Islanders for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
Palestine Solidarity Working Group (Sudbury, Canada)
B.C. Southern Interior Peace Coalition (Canada)
Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (Victoria, Canada)
Hawai’i Peace and Justice
Hawai’i Coalition for Justice in Palestine
Malu ‘Aina Center for Nonviolence Education
Break the Maritime Blockade of Gaza (BMBG)
EBN – End Blockade Now
Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine (France)
Collectif inter-universitaire pour la coopération avec les universités palestiniennes (France)
Comité de Vigilance pour une Paix Réelle au Proche-Orient
Comité La Courneuve-Palestine (France)
Zambra Málaga (Spain)
Confederación General de Trabajadores: Huelva, Málaga, Osuna
Christian Peacemaker Teams (Palestine)
Independent Jewish Voices / Voix juives indépendantes (Canada)
Palestinian Forum in Britain PFB
Europal Forum (UK)
BDS Colombia
BDS Slovenia
New Zealand Palestine Solidarity Network (Aotearoa / NZ)
New Zealand Palestine Human Rights Campaign (Aotearoa / NZ)

13 questions about the BDS movement

5 Oct

By Ramzy Baroud, Palestine Chronicle, 5 October 2017

The Fight Ahead: 13 Questions about the Origins, Objectives and War on BDS

BDS stands for ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’. The BDS Movement was the outcome of several events that shaped the Palestinian national struggle and international solidarity with the Palestinian people following the Second Uprising (Intifada) in 2000.

Building on a decades-long tradition of civil disobedience and popular resistance, and invigorated by growing international solidarity with the Palestinian struggle as exhibited in the World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa in 2001, Palestinians moved into action.

In 2004, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) called for the boycott of Israeli government and academic institutions for their direct contributions to the military occupation and subjugation of the Palestinian people. This was followed in 2005 by a sweeping call for boycott made by 170 Palestinian civil society organizations.

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Ramzy Baroud’s new book ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’

4 Oct

Ramzy Baroud Announces the Launch of His New Book ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’

Ramzy Baroud’s ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’ is now Available for Pre-orders:

A fierce and strenuous challenge to the traditional approach to history in which Palestinians, mostly refugees, are the true protagonists.

“This moving and perceptive book is a journey to the heart of the evils of occupation and colonization suffered by the Palestinians on the ground. It allows the people themselves to narrate authentically and with all the complexities their aspirations, suffering and struggles.  Ramzy Baroud knows how to listen, contextualize and convey an inhumanity that has gone for too long and it is hoped that books like this would contribute to its end.” — Ilan Pappe

Seattle/London, October 04, 2017: THE LAST EARTH is a non-fictional narrative of modern Palestinian history. It is a unique rendition of people’s history – an account of how major historic events in Palestine and the greater Middle East impacted ordinary people, as well as how that mass of people, in their tenacity, and even in their dispossession, represent a force that determines history.

Mixing the academic discipline of ‘History from Below’ and a refined literary style, this collection of narrative-based accounts challenges the perception that Palestinians, mostly refugees, are irrelevant in shaping their own history and the attempt by Zionist historians and institutions to replace the Palestinian historical narrative with a Zionist one.

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Palestinian leaders launch reconciliation talks in Gaza

3 Oct

From left to right in front row, Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar, Head of Palestinian General Intelligence Majid Faraj, Head of the Hamas political bureau Ismail Haniyeh, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and an Egyptian mediator hold their hands up during a meeting in Gaza City, Monday, Oct. 2, 2017. Hamdallah is in Gaza for the most ambitious attempt yet to end the 10-year rift between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas. (Prime Minister Office/Associated Press)

By Fares Akram, Gaza city, Washington Post/ AP, 2 October 2017

 The Palestinian prime minister traveled Monday to the Gaza Strip to launch an ambitious reconciliation effort with the rival Hamas militant group, receiving a hero’s welcome from thousands of people as the sides moved to end a bitter 10-year rift.

Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, representing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, was joined by dozens of top officials, aides and security men on the trip from the West Bank through Israel and into Gaza to meet with the Hamas officials. It is by far the most ambitious attempt at reconciliation since Hamas seized power of the coastal strip in 2007.

The sides exchanged smiles, handshakes and pleasantries — a reflection of the changed climate that has ripened conditions for reconciliation after other failed attempts. But difficult negotiations lie ahead, and key sticking points, particularly who will control Hamas’ vast weapons arsenal, could easily derail the effort.

On Monday, at least, the two sides put aside their differences.

Well-wishers surrounded Hamdallah’s car as it entered Gaza through the Israeli-controlled Erez border crossing, and dozens of Palestinian youths gathered alongside a barbed-wire fence to glimpse the welcoming ceremony. Some waved Palestinian or yellow Fatah flags, and many chanted Hamdallah’s name.

“The only way to statehood is through unity,” Hamdallah told the crowd of about 2,000. “We are coming to Gaza again to deepen the reconciliation and end the split.”

Conditions in Gaza have deteriorated greatly in a decade of Hamas rule, and the feeling of hope by desperate residents was palpable Monday.

Young people in Gaza greet the arrival of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (MEE/Mohammed Asad)

Thousands lined the streets to watch Hamdallah’s 30-vehicle convoy. The crowd forced the delegation to delay its first meeting at the home of the top Fatah official in Gaza and instead take a break at a beachside hotel.

Dozens of vehicles later returned to the Shejayeh neighborhood for the lunch. Hamas’ top leaders, Ismail Haniyeh and Yehiyeh Sinwar, sat next to Hamdallah and West Bank security chief Majed Faraj.

“This is a day of joy,” said Shaima Ahmed, 28, a women’s rights activist who covered her shoulders with a Palestinian kaffiyeh. “Yes it’s difficult and not easy to go forward, but we only have to be optimistic this time.”

Hamas ousted the Fatah-led forces of the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority in the summer of 2007, leaving the Palestinians torn between rival governments on opposite sides of Israel. Hamas has ruled Gaza, while Abbas’ party has controlled autonomous enclaves in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Abbas seeks both territories, along with east Jerusalem, for a Palestinian state, and the division is a major obstacle to any possible peace deal. Israel captured all three areas in the 1967 Mideast war, although it withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

While previous reconciliation attempts have failed, years of international isolation and steadily worsening conditions in Gaza have pushed Hamas toward compromise.

In a significant concession, Hamas has offered to turn over all governing responsibilities to Hamdallah. His ministers are expected to begin taking over government ministries Tuesday, with negotiations in Cairo on more difficult issues in the coming weeks.

Hamdallah said the reconstruction of Gaza, which is still recovering from a 2014 war with Israel, would be a priority.

“We realize that the road is still long and hard. We will be faced with obstacles and challenges, but our people are able to rise again from among destruction and suffering,” he said.

Several factors appear to be working in favor of reconciliation.

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Back to school – but not for everyone

2 Oct

Students on the first day of term at the school in the West Bank village of Jubbet Adh-Dhib, August 23, 2017. [Haaretz]

By Lois Griffith, Guest Blog: The Daily Blog, 2 October, 2017 

New Zealand’s school holidays are here. Luckily for children and their parents, we seem to be in for mild spring weather. And it’s a good time for teachers to relax and enjoy a well-earned break.

Then at the end of 2 weeks everything goes back to normal. The teachers return, the children return. This is as it should be, isn’t it? We take it for granted, of course.  This pattern is repeated around the world, everywhere.

Everywhere?

Palestinians value education. Having opportunities to read and study means a lot to the indigenous people of historic Palestine. Learning their history and culture, poetry, means a lot to the people. It gives a source of inner strength, pride and self-respect.

Inner strength? Pride? Self-respect? Palestinian children? Oh no, say Israeli authorities. None of that.

Jubbet Adh-Dhib is a small Palestinian village in the West Bank. To get to school, children have had to walk several kilometres, on muddy rough trails. Moreover, they have often been harrassed, sometimes violently, by Israeli soldiers and ‘settlers’.

European aid groups, learning of the village’s plight, decided to help, by donating 6 mobile homes to be used as classrooms. At last the local children would have their own school.

But on the very night before the first day of the new term, 23 August 2017, Israeli Civil Administration (meaning the IDF, the army) authorities raided and seized the mobile classrooms. Some 80 fourth-graders from Jubbet Adh-Dhib and another small nearby village, turned up, to find their school destroyed.  A Norwegian Refugee Council Policy Manager who visited Jubbet Al Dhib on school opening day, reported “It was heart breaking to see children and their teachers turning up for their first day of school under the blazing sun, with no classrooms or anywhere to seek shelter in, while in the immediate vicinity the work to expand illegal settlements goes on uninterrupted.”

The Israelis gave their usual excuse, saying that the trailers didn’t have permits, never mind that Palestinians are never given permits for any kind of building or improvements. The week before, Civil Administration officials had confiscated the car and truck of a contractor who came to prepare an electrical system for the school.

In early July the Civil Administration confiscated 96 solar panels from the same village. Some of these panels had been funded by the Dutch government.

This is just one story. One example of cruelty to and contempt for Palestinians, including children.

It is not isolated or even unusual.

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Video: Gaza fishermen receive donated equipment

28 Sep

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC), an international coalition composed of civil society groups demanding an end to the illegal and inhumane blockade of Gaza, recently sent fishing materials to Palestinian fishers in Gaza. In cooperation with several Palestinian and international organisations, the FFC has responded to the increasingly desperate plight of fishers in Gaza who are unable to feed their families due to restrictions on fishing imposed by the Israeli occupiers. Materials distributed in the ports of Gaza and Deir Balah include:

  • fishing nets – two types (Shanshoulah and Monefel, 2×3 and 2×1.5cm respectively), sufficient for 140 fishers.
  • fishing suits – sufficient for 79 fishers’ use.
  • Marine boat lighting – 342 distributed, for over 200 fishers to use.

Although the FFC’s primary goals are political rather than humanitarian, we recognize the dire circumstances of the over 2 million Palestinians living in Gaza and the importance of supporting its fishers and their work in feeding their communities. This is why our current campaign focuses on Solidarity with Gaza Fishers and helps bring the stories of Palestinian fishers in Gaza to the world.

The FFC is making plans to sail again as soon as possible to challenge the destructive and criminal blockade. Updates on our sailing will be released on our website, as well as via Facebook and Twitter.

Kia Ora Gaza, a member of the international Freedom Flotilla Coalition, contributed our share to the above solidarity aid project, and facilitated NZ contingents on the previous two FFC peace flotillas to challenge Israel’s illegal naval blockade of Gaza.

We thank supporters for their generous donations and backing for these important practical solidarity projects.

 

Gaza: Children suffer from war trauma three years on

28 Sep

Three years after the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza, children in the Strip continue to suffer psychologically. Some 500 children were killed in the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza – those that survived attacks have been haunted by the trauma [Ezz Zanoun/Al Jazeera]

By Ghada Al-Haddad, AlJazeera, 27 September 2017

As Gaza marks three years since the Israeli assault that devastated the Strip and left more than 2,200 Palestinians killed, the psychological effects of the violence linger on.

Children were among the most affected groups; in the 50-day onslaught, the Israeli army killed 500 children. The bombing campaign, which started in July and ended in late August 2014, caused outrage and spurred international protests as images of dead children flooded social media.

The United Nations estimates that, currently, more than 300,000 children are in need of psychosocial support.

Three years after the war, Al Jazeera speaks to the families of three children who were psychologically affected after surviving attacks or by the death of their siblings, relatives and friends.

Amir Ibrahim Al Reqeb, 9, Khan Younis (pictured above)

Amir was six when the third Israeli war on Gaza started in 2014.

Every time Amir hears the sound of Israeli warplanes buzzing in the sky, or the sound of thunder in winter, or a loud bang, he rushes to his parents for protection.

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Evidence of Israeli apartheid, pillage & murder handed to Hague court

22 Sep

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders are personally liable for war crimes, say human rights investigators. (via Facebook)

By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 21 September 2017

Evidence of Israeli apartheid, pillage and murder handed to Hague court

Four Palestinian human rights organizations on Wednesday handed 700 pages of evidence of Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

This comes as two Palestinian communities in the West Bank face imminent, total Israeli destruction.

The crimes detailed in the dossier include persecution, apartheid, the extensive theft, destruction and pillage of Palestinian property and evidence of the “wilful killing and murder” of hundreds of Palestinians since 2014.

Shawan Jabarin, director of the human rights group Al-Haq, said the dossier “provides a compelling and reasonable basis” for the prosecutor to open an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity by Israel in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

This is the fourth dossier the human rights groups have provided the court. While it focuses on the West Bank, the previous files related to crimes committed by senior Israeli civilian and military officials during the 2014 attack on Gaza.

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Roger Waters: BDS is one of ‘most admirable’ displays of resistance in the world

21 Sep

VIDEO: Democracy Now, broadcast 14 September 2017

Democracy Now spend the hour with the world-famous British musician Roger Waters, founding member of the iconic rock band Pink Floyd. An excerpt of this interview can be viewed above.

In recent years, he has become one of the most prominent musicians supporting BDS, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. Waters was scheduled to play Friday and Saturday in Long Island, despite attempts by Nassau County officials to shut down the concerts citing a local anti-BDS bill.

Despite this, Roger Waters has continued to speak out.

Last week, he wrote a piece in The New York Times titled “Congress Shouldn’t Silence Human Rights Advocates.” In the op-ed, he criticized a bill being considered in the Senate to silence supporters of BDS. (DemocracyNow.org)

Video: Gaza after 10 years of Israeli siege & attacks

20 Sep

Video by Middle East Eye, published 8 September 2017

Video: Soldiers assault woman as they weld her door shut

19 Sep

Video: Soldiers assault woman who resists as they weld her door shut

By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 15 September 2017

This video shows Israeli occupation forces violently assaulting and attempting to handcuff 55-year-old Zleikhah al-Muhtaseb in a family-owned building in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

Israeli forces invaded the home in order weld shut one of its two entrances, and Zleikhah tried to stop them.

Zleikhah’s niece Rania al-Muhtaseb lives in the building with her husband Bassem and their three children.

The building has a back door towards Hebron’s market, and a front entrance towards the Ibrahimi mosque.

The front entrance goes out into an area heavily controlled by Israeli occupation forces which family members cannot easily cross except by passing through military checkpoints.

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Expressing solidarity while conducting trade with Israel is hypocrisy 

12 Sep


By Miko Peled, American Herald Tribune, 11 September 2017

Israel is all geared up for war against the call for BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) and the de-legitimization of the Zionist state. The ministry of strategic affairs headed by Gil’ad Erdan – which is charged with this task – is now equipped with a budget, a former Israeli army general, retired Brig. General Sima Vakini-Gil who acts as the ministry’s General Director and a new assistant to the General Director, Tsahi Gavrieli who has brought a new wind to the sails of the anti-BDS ship. Gavrieli brought in a team that includes legal experts, economists and media people and according to a story recently published in Hebrew on Ynet they call on the Israeli public to take part in the campaign. According to the story, some parts of the campaign are overt and some covert, and the ministry will no longer be on the defensive but take an active, offensive position. Israelis are now encouraged to join this campaign with apps like ACT.IL which shows how to take the fight on social media and combat the “slurs” against Israel.

According to Gavrieli the BDS movement is losing ground in the US, and he brings as examples recent laws passed by over twenty states that criminalize the call to boycott Israel. Among those states are California, New York and New Jersey, to name a few. Currently there is a bill being proposed in the United States Senate that proposed to make the call to boycott Israel a federal offense that will carry a twenty-year prison sentence and a one million dollar fine. This bill was opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU in a letter that was sent to members of the United States Senate. Gavrieli also claims that the BDS call is a “masked attempt to de-legitimize Israel by calling for Palestinian rights.” He said that the claim made by the BDS movement that Israel is an apartheid regime “is insulting to South Africans” and that it is “baseless.” “I call on every Israeli,” says Gavrieli “to take part in this.”

The aims of the BDS movement could not be more clearly stated, and all one needs to do is read them to see that the lies being spread by the State of Israel and its supporters, are unfounded. The call for BDS calls to impose Boycott, divestment and sanctions on the state of Israel until such time that the military occupation is ended, Palestinian citizens of Israel enjoy equal rights, and Palestinian refugees are permitted to return to their homes and their land. There is no racism, no hate and no discrimination of any kind is suggested or implied. It is an unequivocal demand to bring the Zionist State to do what is needed to achieve these goals. We must remember that negotiations with consecutive Israeli governments have all failed and Israel has made it clear that it has no intention to end its policies of occupation, killing, dispossession and racist discrimination and its demand that the Palestinians capitulate. 

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Israel, Palestinian Authority, partners in silencing critics

8 Sep

Issa Amro taken from PA courtroom yesterday. His detention was extended. He remains on hunger strike, refusing food, water & medicine

Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, 7 September 2017

The Palestinian Authority has extended the detention of Issa Amro, a prominent activist against Israeli colonization in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

Amro was arrested Monday by the PA’s Preventive Security force, after he criticized its earlier arrest of Ayman al-Qawasmi, the director of Hebron’s Minbar al-Hurriya radio station.

Amro will be held for at least another four days.

On Wednesday, nine members of the US Congress wrote to Abbas urging Amro’s release.

Amro is reportedly being held under the draconian Electronic Crimes law decreed by PA leader Mahmoud Abbas in July.

He remains on a total hunger strike, refusing food, water and medicine, according to Youth Against Settlements, the group he leads.

Human Rights Watch on Wednesday joined other groups that have sharply condemned Amro’s arrest, which is part of a much wider crackdown on free speech and journalists by Abbas’ authority.

Amro is already facing trial in an Israeli military tribunal on trumped-up charges designed to repress his activism against settlements.

In June, 32 US lawmakers signed a letter expressing support for Amro in the face of Israel’s baseless charges.

Radio station closed by Israel

Meanwhile, the PA released al-Qawasmi on Wednesday. On 31 August, days before his arrest by Palestinian forces, the Minbar al-Hurriya radio station he runs was violently raided by Israeli occupation forces.

Israel ordered the station closed for six months, accusing it of “incitement.”

Al-Qawasmi’s arrest reportedly came after he criticized PA leaders for failing to protect Palestinians from such Israeli attacks.

Israeli forces close down Minbar al-Hurriya radio station in Hebron [Photo: Screen grab from Al-Huriya website]

Israel frequently claims that Palestinian media that report on the occupation are guilty of “incitement” as a pretext for shutting them down.

But Minbar al-Hurriya denies it has broadcast any material that could have provoked violence or what Israel calls terrorism.

Following the detentions of al-Qawasmi and Amro, MADA, a Palestinian group that documents violations against journalists said it condemns the PA’s “arrest of journalists and activists for expressing their opinions and demands an end to this policy.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists urged Israel to “allow the al-Hurriya media network and its affiliates to resume work without fear of harassment,” and had also called on the PA to release al-Qawasmi.

“It seems the only thing Israel and the Palestinian Authority have in common right now is their desire to silence their critics in the media,” the watchdog’s Middle East program head Sherif Mansour said.

[See earlier reports on kiaoragaza.net posted on 1 September and 5 September 2017. Ed]

Three years after the war: Gaza youth speak out

7 Sep

Moath Alhaj, a young artist from a Gaza refugee camp, passed away in his sleep. (Photo: via Social Media)

By Ramzy Baroud, Palestine Chronicle, 6 September 2017

Three Years after the War: Gaza Youth Speak Out

“At bedtime, I am afraid to turn the lights off. I am not a coward, it is just that I worry that this bulb hanging from the ceiling is the last light that remains (shining) in my life.”

Soon after he penned these words, Moath Alhaj, a young artist from a Gaza refugee camp, passed away in his sleep. After disappearing for two days, Moath’s friends broke down the door of his house, and found him huddled with his blanket in a place in which he lived alone for 11 years.

Moath lived in the Nuseirat Refugee Camp, one of Gaza’s most crowded camps, a name which is associated with historic hardship, war and legendary resistance. Raised in the United Arab Emirates, Moath returned to Gaza to join the Islamic University, but remained there, experiencing three wars and a decade-long blockade.

Somehow, the young man maintained a semblance of hope as expressed in his many drawings and emotive commentary.

Moath learned to live in his own world ever since he was young. The outside world to him seemed unpredictable and, at times, cruel.

When his mother passed away, Moath was only 1-year-old. He father died of cancer in the UAE and, due to circumstances beyond his control, Moath lived alone. Keeping him company were his friends in the neighborhood, but mostly it was his self-effacing, yet profound artistic expressions.

“Smile, may the war feel shame,” was one of his cartoons. In it, a little girl with a flowery dress turns her back at the reader, looking the other way.

Moath’s art characters always had their eyes closed, as if they refuse to see the world around them, and insist on imagining a better world inside their own thoughts.

Caption added to Moath’s cartoon: “Sleep in peace, Moath – the shattered dream is in your heart.”

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PA arrests Human Rights activist over Facebook post

5 Sep

Issa Amro, founder of the Youth Against Settlements movement in the Palestinian city of Hebron. (Photo: via Twitter)

Palestine Chronicle report, 4 September 2017

Amnesty: PA Arrests Human Rights Activist Over Facebook Post

The arrest of a Palestinian human rights defender today who criticized the Palestinian Authorities on Facebook is a shameless attack on freedom of expression, said Amnesty International.

Issa Amro, a Hebron-based coordinator for Youth Against Settlements and a former field researcher for the Israeli NGO B’Tselem, was detained at around midday local time today by Palestinian Preventive Security Forces, after he posted comments on his Facebook page criticizing the arrest of a local radio journalist yesterday by the same Palestinian security forces.

“It is outrageous that a prominent human rights defender has been arrested simply for voicing his opinion online. Criticizing the authorities should not be a criminal offence. Issa Amro’s arrest is the latest evidence that the Palestinian authorities are determined to continue with their repressive campaign against free speech,” said Magdalena Mughrabi Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

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‘Our souls are in our motors’ – A Gaza fisherman’s story

5 Sep

By Omnia Ghassan, Gaza, We Are Not Numbers, 4 September 2017

Our souls are in our motors

I was scheduled to meet Mussad Bakr in the afternoon. The day before, I had called Mussad and from his voice, I could tell that he is an older man, yet in my imagination I pictured him as a healthy one. Thus, I was shocked by the reality. I waited for him next to a big, red boat in the Gaza harbor. Then he appeared: a skeletal-looking man in his mid-50s, so thin his back is almost curved and his hair is colored like the ash that fell from the cigarette he nursed. We sat down by the boat with some young fishermen joining us on a stone bench. I only asked one question, “What is your story, Mussad?” His answer flowed without stopping until he was done. These are his words.

Before and after

I began fishing 27 years ago, to be exact. I chose to fish because I love it; it has always been and always will be my hobby. But, I never really thought of its consequences as a profession.

Venturing into the sea is not as safe, fun or fruitful as it was in the past. Previously, the sea was more available to us [fishermen] than today. We were considered the “kings” of Gaza. We were kings because we had the ability to sail from the Gazan seacoast to the Egyptian and stay in the sea for as long as we wish. Whenever we needed money, we could simply go to the sea and fish as much as want. Then, we sell or eat what we fished. Fishing was a choice. Now, it is an unavailable must!

Fifteen years ago, when Abu Ammar (Yasser Arafat) was in charge of the Palestinian Authority, the Egyptian part of the sea was open to us. The number of fish we caught doubled. We’d ask, “Where should we fish today? Tomorrow?”

Then, the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was captured by Palestinian forces in 2006. (In 2006, an armed squad of Hamas resistance fighters crossed the border into the occupied territories via an underground tunnel. They blew open a tank’s rear doors, killing two of the soldiers and wounding another; a fourth soldier, Gilad Shalit, was captured. He was kept in captivity until a 2011 prisoner exchange.) After that, the inner rage of Zionism erupted in a torrent of revenge against us all. All 2 million of us still suffer the consequences. Today, we can’t even afford to feed our own children.

Zionists prevent our boats from venturing out more than three to nine nautical miles. We used to be able to sail out 200 to 500 miles. We travelled to Damietta and Port Said along the coast of Egypt and stayed there for as long as we could fish.

The sea is my home. It breaks my heart that I can’t visit as much of it as I used to. I can’t float on it, peacefully enjoying the stars and the night sky, without fearing an assault. In the past, if I caught a huge amount of fish, I would stay at home for days in between, resting. Today, I can barely fish enough and sometimes it’s much less than enough. The fish we used to catch, we now only see it on TV!

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15 Gazans die after Israel denies them treatment

1 Sep

A Palestinian boy receives dialysis treatment at a hospital in Gaza on 11 November 2015 [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]

Middle East Monitor, 30 August 2017

Some 15 Gaza residents have died since the start of 2017 after Israel denied terminally ill patients the necessary permits to travel outside the besieged Strip for medical treatment.

Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights revealed the figures in a statement yesterday, condemning the Israeli blockade on the coastal enclave that has resulted in its healthcare service being brought “to its knees”, in the words of the World Health Organisation.

Al-Mezan cited the cases of two women who were refused travel documentation on numerous occasions: Kaenat Jarour, a 42-year-old uterine cancer patient, and Faten Ahmed, a 26-year-old woman who died as a result of a brain tumour due to Israel’s refusal to allow her to re-enter Jerusalem where she had initially received treatment.

Four patients whose travel applications were approved attempted to make the journey to Israel, only to be arrested alongside their family members at the Beit Hanoun crossing. Others who make the journey are often beaten and interrogated at checkpoints by Israeli occupying authorities.

The Israeli government shirks its international legal obligations by denying residents of Gaza the flow of necessary medical relief and supplies into Gaza, while simultaneously denying and delaying the movement that residents require to seek the care outside of Gaza the statement added.

As Gaza’s two million residents struggle to survive with a maximum of only four hours of electricity a day, an estimated 40 per cent of necessary drugs are also unavailable or will be depleted within a month. Medical funding to the Strip has also been cut by Israel at the request of the Palestinian Authority (PA), as they attempt to pressure Gaza’s de-facto government Hamas into relinquishing control.

Read: PA reduces medical referrals for Gaza patients by 80%

The figures come as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres makes a visit to Gaza as part of his trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories. In a statement last night, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called on Guterres to pressure Israeli occupation authorities to lift the siege on the Strip and end the humanitarian crisis.

Last month, Palestinians protested at the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) condemning the international organisation’s failure to stem the crisis. Many described the UN’s inaction as tacit approval of the Israeli blockade on Gaza.

A report released by the UN last month raised concerns that the Strip is “de-developing” faster than anticipated, such that the 2020 deadline by which it was said that Gaza would be “unliveable” may have already arrived.

 

Israel closes Palestinian news network in Hebron

1 Sep

Israeli occupation forces close the offices of Al-Hureyia media network in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on 31 August 2017 [Mamoun Wazwaz/Anadolu Agency]

Middle East Monitor, 31 August 2017

Israeli occupation forces this morning closed the headquarters of a media network in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron accusing it of “incitement”.

The Israeli occupation forces closed the headquarters of the Al-Hureyia media network. In a statement, the group said occupation forces raided its headquarters and confiscated broadcasting and media equipment which led to the suspension of the radio station’s work.

A number of its staff members were detained and equipment destroyed. The fate of the workers remains unknown.

The station has also been ordered to close for six months for alleged “incitement” following an Israeli army decision.

The network includes Radio Liberty Forum, Freedom of Information Network and Nawras TV.

The Israeli army has closed a number of radio stations in the occupied West Bank for allegedly practicing “incitement”.

Israeli occupation forces clash with Palestinians after they shut down the offices of Al-Hureyia media network in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on 31 August 2017 [Mamoun Wazwaz/Anadolu Agency]

 

 

“Only God knows how much I cried..”

1 Sep

VIDEO: By IMEU

“It was the worst scene ever when when we were pushed out [by Zionist forces]. Only God knows how much I cried.” A Nakba survivor, 86-year-old Ibrahim lived through displacement in 1948 and has endured 50 years of Israeli occupation. [Music: “Smoky Mountains” by Charlie Jefferson]

‘Every Day is a Bad Day at Qalandiya Checkpoint’: Special Report

1 Sep

Border police officer stands in front of Palestinian as they wait to cross from Qalandiya checkpoint outside Ramallah, West Bank, into Jerusalem to attend the Ramadan Friday Prayer in the Al-Aqsa Mosque. (File Photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

By Viktor Bournonville, Qalandiya checkpoint, Palestine Chronicle, 31 August 2017

‘Every Day is a Bad Day at Qalandiya Checkpoint’: Special Report

Like all of us, Palestinians need to earn a living. For many of them it involves going through sets of turnstiles, a metal detector and X-ray scanning of their carry-ons on the daily way to their jobs.

“They don’t treat us like humans, but like animals. I feel like we are sheep,” a tall guy in a black polo and blue jeans quickly spits out before disappearing into one of the many vans rapidly passing by. Covered in sand, these silver and white vans pick up some of the 120,000 Palestinian day workers sitting beneath the shadow of the separation barrier and take them to their Israeli jobs.

Before parting ways, the Palestinian worker manages to tell me his name. His name is Safi, but I don’t catch his age, or where he is heading. Now looking upon me through the dusty windows of a silver van, Safi is most likely on his way to a construction job. About half of all Palestinian construction workers are employed inside Israel or in a settlement and many from other services find their jobs in Israel escaping the double-digit unemployment rate of the West Bank. It’s around 6:30 a.m. at the Qalandiya Checkpoint and there are a lot of people like Safi passing me this early Thursday morning.

They all have the same thing in common. They all must go by foot through a turnstile, pass metal detectors, and place their belongings on an X-ray scanner to get from Palestine to Israel and occupied Palestinian territories. From Ramallah to Jerusalem. From home to work. And because they all start molding, building and plumbing at approximately the same time, the journey through Qalandiya Checkpoint is an arduous one.

Palestinian men waiting at an Israeli military checkpoint in Qalandiya, West Bank. (Photo: Tamar Fleishman, PC)

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