Tag Archives: Gaza Strip

Aid groups call for end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza

4 Sep

 

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By Ben White, The National, 29 August 2015

A year after the Gaza war, Palestinians are still choking

[Last] Wednesday marked one year since the ceasefire that ended Israel’s unprecedented seven-week assault on the Gaza Strip. On the occasion of this week’s anniversary, an international coalition of 35 NGOs issued a new call for the end of Israel’s blockade.

“For a whole year the Israeli government has restricted basic and essential construction materials from entering Gaza,” stated the aid groups, who noted that “not one of the 19,000 homes that were bombed and destroyed has been fully rebuilt”.

A petition launched by the NGOs on the Avaaz online community – “World Leaders: Lift the Gaza Blockade” – had, at the time of writing, already attracted 538,000 signatures.

While the agencies acknowledged the roles played by Palestinian political division and Egypt’s frequent closure of the Rafah crossing, they maintained that Israel’s blockade represents the primary obstacle to reconstruction. “At this rate, it could take 17 years before Gaza is rebuilt.”

The central – often, sole – reason cited by Israel for its continuing blockade of Gaza is “security”. The NGOs are not deaf to these concerns – but they do not believe this gives Israel carte blanche to choke 1.8 million people and destroy their economy and social fabric.

However, the security argument is itself a red herring.

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Egypt closes Gaza’s Rafah crossing again

24 Aug
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The Rafah crossing, Gaza’s only connection to the outside world, has been virtually closed since October 2014, allowing only a fraction of Gazans to leave or enter the blockaded enclave.

Days of Palestine, Gaza Strip, 22 August 2015

Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah Crossing with Gaza on Friday, after it had been open for four days to allow emergency cases through.

Spokesperson of Palestinian Interior Ministry in Gaza Iyad al-Buzom said that 2,579 humanitarian cases left Gaza while 3,178 people entered the coastal territory.

Egypt prevented 146 Palestinians from leaving Gaza, he added.

Some 17,000 Palestinians need to urgently leave the territory, either for medical treatment or to continue their study abroad.

Egypt did not indicate when the crossing would be opened next.

The Rafah crossing, Gaza’s only connection to the outside world, has been virtually closed since October 2014, allowing only a fraction of Gazans to leave or enter the blockaded enclave.

Four Gazans were abducted by masked gunmen in Sinai just minutes after they had passed the Rafah Crossing.

Egypt blames Sinai ISIS for the abduction, but Hamas and Egyptian tribesmen reiterated that the Egyptian security abducted them.

 

Gaza’s Reconstruction Plan: designed to fail

17 Aug

08-12-2014Palestinians_Gaza-629x420The rubble of twisted concrete and metal bakes in the hot Mediterranean sun of a regional heat wave. A year on from Israel’s 51-day military operation in 2014, not a single one of the 11,000 destroyed homes in Gaza has been rebuilt. Photo credit: UNRWA Archives/Shareef Sarhan

By Charlie Hoyle, Bethlehem, Palestine, Inter Press Service, 15 August 2015

“Palestinians need solutions for the crisis, not mechanisms that manage the crisis.”

Eight months ago, the infrastructural devastation in the Gaza Strip was the same, except floodwater and freezing winter temperatures swept over the heaped remnants of people’s homes and businesses.

A year on from Israel’s 51-day military operation – in which over 2,200 Palestinians were killed, including more than 500 children – not a single one of the 11,000 destroyed homes has been rebuilt.

The task of large-scale reconstruction work was entrusted to the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM), a United Nations-brokered agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority which would oversee the distribution of building materials entering Gaza.

“Most of the 100,000 Palestinians displaced by the [2014] war continue to live in makeshift shelters, often in the rubble of their former homes, and the landscape is littered with miles upon miles of apocalyptic decay where homes, shops, and restaurants once stood”

To date, only 5.5 percent of the building materials needed to repair and rebuild homes and other damaged infrastructure has entered the coastal enclave, according to Israeli rights group Gisha, founded in 2005 to protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especial Gaza residents.

Failed promises by donor countries which pledged 5.4 billion dollars last October, political tensions between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, and Israel’s continued restrictions on materials entering the territory have all impeded reconstruction efforts.

However, many hold the GRM directly responsible for the glacial pace of reconstruction, arguing that the terms of the agreement have entrenched Gaza’s underdevelopment by granting Israel control over nearly every aspect of the rebuilding process.

“Israel actually has deep power over every single house built in Gaza,” says Ghada Snunu, a reporting officer at Ma’an Development Centre in Gaza.

“We cannot build a house if Israel says no. Israel decides whether homes are built or not.”

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Saving Gaza’s medical services from collapse

17 Aug

mideast_israel_palestinians_axlp119_44530839A Palestinian youth carries a wounded child into the emergency clinic at Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, Gaza, during Israel’s war on Gaza last year.

Gulf News report, 15 August 2015

At a time when the Middle East region is grappling with heightened volatility and ongoing conflicts from Syria to Iraq to Yemen, it is easy to ignore the harsh realities of Palestinians living in the open-air prison that is the Gaza Strip. It has been eight years since Israel imposed a land, air, and sea blockade on Palestinians living there following Hamas’s 2006 win in the legislative elections — depriving them of any possibility of leading normal lives. Coupled with this are Israel’s three full scale wars, which killed thousands of Palestinians including women and children and left swaths of ruins in the Strip. Yes, Palestinians are justified for feeling totally abandoned by the international community.

The latest news coming from Gaza is that its health care is on the verge of collapse. Dr Ashraf Al Qudra, spokesman for the Gaza Health Ministry, told Gulf News, “People are dying in Gaza and we have nothing in hand to help them.” Gaza-based hospitals and primary medical centres lack 32 per cent of the medicines they need and the shortfall is greatest for drugs used to treat chronic diseases.

Moreover, the infant mortality rate in Gaza has risen for the first time in more than half a century, according to the United Nations. The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) says the number of babies dying in 2013, that is, before the last Israeli war on Gaza, before the age of one, rose to 22.4 per 1,000 live births.

Imagine watching your loved one suffer from a medical problem and, because of Israeli restrictions on movements in Gaza, you are unable to transport them to a hospital or get them any proper medical care. Such is the reality of living in Gaza and experiencing daily the inhuman and unjust blockade through which Israel contravenes international law with impunity. And there is no end in sight to the suffering of the people, especially given that there is no international pressure for change.

The Palestinian Israeli conflict urgently requires Arab and international attention. It remains at the centre of Arab issues and without addressing Israeli intransigence, this region will never enjoy long term stability.

 

Unexploded Israeli bomb kills 4 and injures 43 in Rafah

7 Aug

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Aljazeera report, 6 August 2015

At least four Palestinians from the same family have been killed, and 43 people were injured, in the Gaza Strip after Israeli military ordnance left over from last summer’s 50-day war exploded, a Palestinian health official has said.

Ashraf al-Qidra, a Gaza health ministry spokesman, said on Thursday that the rocket exploded as Palestinian workers were helping family members remove rubble from a house destroyed in the war.

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Israeli attacks create ‘a powder keg waiting to explode’

5 Aug

 

Ashraf Shannon reports from Gaza, PressTV, 5 August 2015

The Israeli army has made an incursion into the Gaza Strip forcing farmers and villagers out of the area.

The incursion happened in the east of the southern city of Khan Younis. Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered the area and dug trenches inside the so-called buffer zone. Israel occasionally launches limited raids into the Gaza Strip on security pretexts, often razing land near the so-called buffer zone. Such moves violate an agreement that ended Israel’s last summer war on the besieged enclave.

 

Gaza poverty at 38.8% due to blockade

3 Aug

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PressTV report, 1 August 2015

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) has revealed that the Israeli blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip over the past eight years has pushed up poverty in the coastal enclave to new highs.

The PCHR has said in a report that Gaza’s poverty rate for the first half of this year has now reached 38.8 percent.

It added that 21.1 percent of the Palestinians living in the coastal strip are suffering from “extreme poverty”.

The PCHR report has further added that in addition to causing a rise in the poverty rate, the Israeli blockade has caused unemployment in the enclave to rise to 44 percent.

This indicates the extent of the unprecedented economic deterioration suffered by the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, it added.

“Israel’s isolation and siege of Gaza has resulted in grave violations of the economic, social and cultural rights of 1.8 million people, as well as a serious deterioration in their living conditions,” said the PCHR in its report.

In May, the World Bank described Gaza’s economy as one of the worst in the world, with unemployment in the strip standing as high as 43 percent. It also warned that as much as 73 percent of the population there is suffering from food insecurity.

The Israeli military last summer devastated the Gaza Strip after 51 days of relentless attacks and strikes that left over 2,000 Palestinians killed – mostly civilians – and many wounded. Tens of thousands were also displaced in the wake of the conflict.

A UN report in June decried as “unprecedented” the devastation and human suffering left behind by the Israeli war. It also denounced the “huge firepower” used in Gaza. The UN further criticized the Israeli blockade for hampering reconstruction in the coastal enclave.

 

Israel allows increased trickle of goods into Gaza

16 Jul

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Israel allows 650 truckloads of goods into Gaza (MaanImages/File)

Israel’s strict blockade has destroyed the economy in the Gaza Strip and has made it near impossible for the strip’s 1.8 million residents to recover from three wars over the last six years.

The vital Kerem Shalom crossing is regularly closed by Israeli authorities for alleged security reasons as well as during many national Israeli holidays according to Israeli watchdog Gisha.

As of June, UNOCHA reported that only 1 percent of the construction materials required to rebuild houses destroyed and damaged during hostilities last summer had entered Gaza so far – highlighting the urgent need to build international pressure to not merely ease Israel’s inhumane siege on Gaza, but to end it.

 

Ma’an News Agency report, Gaza City, 15 July 2015

Israeli authorities opened the Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza on Wednesday enabling 650 truckloads of goods to enter, a Palestinian crossings official said.

Raed Fattouh, head of the Palestinian coordination committee for the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip, said that the Israeli authorities would allow the goods to enter for the commercial, agriculture and transportation sectors.

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‘Let me be blunt: Gaza is a huge concentration camp’

10 Jul

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Amira Hass, Haaretz correspondent for the Occupied Territories, pictured during her speaking tour of New Zealand earlier this year (Photo: Kia Ora Gaza.)

by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, Editor, ISLAMiCommentary 6 July, 2015:

This past Spring Amira Hass, correspondent for Haaretz, spoke at the Forum for Scholars and Publics at Duke University. Hass, an Israeli who has won numerous awards for her reporting, has been covering the region since the early 90s. She lived in Gaza for three years and currently lives in Ramallah in the West Bank. Originally from Jerusalem, she was educated at Hebrew University and wrote the well-known book Drinking the Sea at Gaza: Days and Nights in a Land Under Siege as well as the forward and epilogue to the diary of her mother who survived the Bergen Belsen concentration camp.

She gave two public talks during her week-long residency at Duke — “The Israeli Occupation and Jewish-Israeli Dissent” and “Reporting from Ramallah: An Israeli Jew in an Occupied Land” — and also had the chance to meet with students.

Hass said she’s aware of the “contradiction of reporting about the Occupation,” while at the same time “profiting from” that Occupation as an Israeli.

“It’s a constant contradiction in my life. It is a bitter acknowledgment of a privilege and a contradiction,” she said during one of her talks. “It is especially bitter when I talk about Gaza.”

This week (July 8th) marks the one-year anniversary of “Operation Protective Edge” — also referred to as Israel’s invasion of Gaza — a seven-week operation in a long running conflict. According to a bleak new World Bank report, Israeli blockades, war and poor governance have left Gaza’s economy on the “verge of collapse.” It now has the highest unemployment rate in the world — 43 percent, and 60 percent among youth.

Here are some excerpts from Hass’s “Reporting from Ramallah” talk (re-ordered slightly for content continuity), which was audio-recorded in March 2015:

Hass on Freedom of Movement in the Occupied Territories: A Concentration Camp?

When I think of all my friends in Gaza … not only my friends…that haven’t been out of the Gaza Strip for the past 20 years … they are deprived of so many basic things, because Israel deprives them of peace, (the) basic right of freedom of movement.

I’m not talking about food. I’m not talking about even the water situation in Gaza, which is appalling and disastrous. I’m talking about the very basic need of people to travel, to move, to see other places, to have both the ability to plan or the ability to be spontaneous. The Palestinians are deprived of all this.

In practice, Gaza has become a huge, let me be blunt, concentration camp for right now 1, 800,000 people. This is not a novelty. This is not something new. This did not start, unlike what many people think, with the rise of Hamas, Hamas being elected in 2006, or Hamas taking over the security agencies and apparatus in Gaza in 2007 after the short civil war. We can almost trace it to the moment when it started, and this is the 15th of January 1991 — long before Oslo, long before Madrid, and of course long before the suicide attacks inside Israeli cities and against Israeli civilians.

This policy of sealing off Gaza, of making Gazans into prisoners, defacto prisoners, started then. I’ve written extensively about it and yet I know it always surprises.

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Flotilla ships gather before sailing to break Israel’s siege

25 Jun

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As global pressure and regional shifts undermine Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, Palestine supporters from more than 20 countries are preparing for the latest attempt to defy it.

By Joe Catron @jncatron, MintPress News, 24 June, 2015

GAZA STRIP — A converted Swedish fishing trawler left the port of Messina in eastern Sicily late Friday evening, sailing into the Mediterranean to meet other vessels before they attempt to break Israel’s nautical blockade of the Gaza Strip.

“The goal is, as always, to challenge and eventually end the inhuman and illegal blockade of Gaza,” David Heap, a spokesperson for the Canadian Boat to Gaza, told MintPress News.

“Whether we reach our destination, as happened five times in 2008, or are stopped by the occupier, as has happened from 2010 to 2012, our course remains the same: the conscience of humanity.”

The Marianne of Gothenburg, which left its home port on May 10, publicized its voyage down the coast of Europe and into the Strait of Gibraltar through the organizations supporting it, Ship to Gaza Sweden and Ship to Gaza Norway.

Other groups in the Freedom Flotilla Coalition have declined to disclose their efforts, including the names and locations of vessels.

“There has been secrecy around details that might be relevant to efforts to obstruct the flotilla, as there usually are,” Robert Naiman, a spokesperson for the U.S. Boat to Gaza, told MintPress.

Heap says the high level of security within “Freedom Flotilla III” stems from past Israeli attempts to prevent similar projects.

“In 2011 some boats were sabotaged, and Greek coast guard authorities stopped some of our boats when Israel outsourced its blockade to European ports,” he told MintPress. “So we have learned to be cautious about what information we release when.”

He added that “more than 50 people from over 20 countries [are] on board or ready to board at least three vessels.”

With the Marianne now at sea, its final departure for Gaza is expected as soon as weather clears.

 CGWcZ5VUYAACTjKPalestinian children preparing a huge welcome for the Freedom Flotilla ships

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Freedom Flotilla update: ‘We’re on our way to Gaza’

24 Jun

1524889_10152806931535807_6850132549526053988_nOne of the Freedom Flotilla III organisers, well-known Swedish musician Dror Feiler, posted this photo from the helm of the ‘Marianne’ with the announcement on FaceBook yesterday: ‘On our way to Gaza’

AFP report, Jerusalem, 23 June 2015

Activists aboard a flotilla of boats are to soon set sail for Gaza in a fresh bid to break Israel’s blockade of the territory, five years after a similar attempt ended in a deadly raid.

The so-called Freedom Flotilla III – a convoy of ships carrying pro-Palestinian activists, at least one European lawmaker and an Arab-Israeli MP – will try to reach the shores of the Gaza Strip by the end of the month.

Their campaign comes as Israel faces heavy international pressure over its actions in Gaza, with a UN report released Monday saying both the Jewish state and Palestinian militants may have committed war crimes during last year’s conflict in the besieged coastal enclave.

Israel’s blockade of the territory dates to 2006, after Hamas captured an Israeli soldier, and was tightened a year later when the Islamist movement consolidated control of Gaza.

“We’re not alone in considering the blockade to be inhumane and illegal,” Staffan Graner, an activist who is sailing aboard Swedish trawler the Marianne of Gothenburg, told AFP.

“What we want to do… is to keep up international pressure that the blockade should end,” he said.

The Marianne of Gothenburg, which set sail from Sicily on Friday, will join four other vessels carrying some 70 people en route for Gaza, according to a statement from the Platform of French NGOs for Palestine, an advocacy group supporting the effort.

Among those aboard will be former Tunisian president Dr Moncef Marzouki, Spanish MEP Ana Maria Miranda Paza and Arab-Israeli lawmaker Basel Ghattas, organisers said.

Ghattas’s decision to join the flotilla caused outrage in Israel.

On Sunday, deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely said the flotilla was “the work of provocateurs whose aim is to blacken Israel’s face,” adding that the ministry had been working “through diplomatic channels night and day” to prevent it from reaching Israeli waters.

In a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ghattas urged that he “command the Israeli security forces to stay away and allow the flotilla to arrive at its destination.”

“Any form of takeover to prevent this will only involve Israel in yet another difficult international crisis or scandal,” he warned.

Ghattas was referring to the killing of 10 Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara after Israeli commandos staged a botched pre-dawn raid on a six-ship flotilla seeking to break the Gaza blockade in May 2010.

Since then, several ships manned by pro-Palestinian activists have tried to reach the shores of Gaza, but they have all been repelled by the Israeli navy.

Activists in the Freedom Flotilla III are undeterred.

They say the international pressure Israel faces after the latest conflict Gaza, along with the uproar the 2010 raid caused, make it unlikely it will use violence this time.

The International Criminal Court said last year that war crimes may have been committed in the 2010 raid – though the chief prosecutor decided that potential cases were not of “sufficient gravity” to justify further ICC action.

“One has to be realistic,” Graner said.

“We know that we’re sailing towards a blockade that is upheld essentially by two large military forces,” he said, referring also to Egypt’s navy.

Activists have accused Egypt of helping to enforce the blockade, although Cairo denies involvement.

“We think Israel lost a lot by the violence that they used in 2010. It would be extremely stupid of the Israelis… to use violence against us.”

Israel has in recent weeks been on the defensive over actions during the July-August war, where the majority of the 2 200 Gazans killed were civilians. Seventy-two Israelis were killed, 67 of them soldiers.

In anticipation of Monday’s UN report, Israel cleared itself of wrongdoing in a number of controversial incidents, including the bombing of UN schools being used as shelters for the displaced.

Israel says it was forced to target the schools’ vicinities because of actions by Hamas, which allegedly stored weaponry and fired rockets from UN institutions.

About 100 000 Gazans remain homeless, with the reconstruction of tens of thousands of homes yet to begin. Israel’s ongoing blockade, now in its ninth year, has been blamed as well as a lack of international donor support.

Israel says more than 1.1 million tons of construction material have been allowed in since October 2014, along with food and other supplies.

Critics of the blockade have called for it to be fully lifted to allow reconstruction, warning that without it an ongoing humanitarian crisis could fuel further conflict.

About “1.8 million Palestinians (are) living in disgraceful, prison-like conditions as a result of Israel’s military siege of both sea and land,” Ghattas said in his letter to Netanyahu.

“The third freedom flotilla carries humanitarian aid for the residents of the strip and aims to end the siege.”

 AFP

Send a message and pledge your support for the Freedom Flotilla TODAY! – Pledge here

Flotilla ships sailing to Gaza

23 Jun

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Former Tunisian President Dr Mohamed al-Marzouki (centre) joins other Freedom Flotilla participants in Greece.

Palestinian Information Centre report, Athens, 22 June 2015

The Freedom Flotilla III heading to blockaded Gaza will set sail within the next few hours despite Israeli threats to obstruct the humanitarian mission, head of the Miles of Smiles convoy, Dr. Issam Youssef,  said Monday.

Youssef said the benevolent activists expressed their commitment to head to the Gaza Strip and work on lifting the siege regardless of the threats and circumstances.

Tunisia’s ex-president Dr. Mohamed al-Moncef al-Marzouki, along with a number of Arab and European activists, arrived in Greece to join the convoy.

Youssef spoke out against Israeli intents to attack the campaigners, calling on the international community to take up its ethical responsibility in protecting the multi-national convoy.

Meanwhile, the European campaign to end the siege on Gaza called, in a press conference held in Gaza Monday, for providing protection to the pro-Palestine volunteers who have joined the Freedom Flotilla III.

It also pushed for taking legal action against Israeli assailants and filing suits with international courts.

Head of the Euro-mid Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdo, called for the need to urgently lift the siege on Gaza and open a waterway from Gaza’s seaport so as to assuage to crises rocking the besieged coastal enclave.

He urged the international community to seriously work on providing the delegation with the needed security shields, pushing for stepping up pressure on the Israeli occupation so as to lighten the noose tightened around Gazans’ necks.

 

Israeli/Arab law-maker to join Gaza-bound flotilla

22 Jun

3591035123MK (Knesset Member) Basel Ghattas, speaking at a Knesset committee meeting in February 2014. Photo by Michal Fattal

Israeli Arab MK (Parliamentarian) Basel Ghattas, who is to join the Gaza-bound flotilla, urges Israel to lift naval siege on Gaza ahead of third flotilla to coastal enclave.

[We post this Haaretz article in full, complete with attacks by Israeli leaders on Ghattas and the Flotilla. Editor, kiaoragaza.net]

By Jack Khoury, Haaretz (Israeli daily newspaper), 21 June 2015

Israeli Arab Knesset Member Basel Ghattas (Joint Arab List) announced Sunday he will be joining a new flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip and urged the Israeli government to lift the naval blockade on the coastal enclave ahead of their arrival.

In a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Ghattas beseeched the Israeli leadership to allow the Palestinian activists to enter the Gaza Strip by sea.

The three-boat flotilla, part of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition and third in number since the Mavi Marmara incident, is now departing from Athens and includes activists, lawmakers and journalists, including Swedish-Israeli composer and activist Dror Feiler and Spanish European Parliament member Ana Maria Miranda Paza.

“The civilian flotilla is aimed at breaking the siege is peaceful,” Ghattas wrote in his letter. “Its goal is drawing international public attention to the state of the 1.8 million Palestinians living in jail-like conditions as a result of the blockade imposed by Israel – which is a form of collective punishment and constitutes an infringement on humanitarian law,” Ghattas wrote.

He further urged the Israeli leadership to allow the flotilla to pass, warning that should Israel try to stop and board the ships it could “entangle Israel in additional international crises which would be the full responsibility of Netanyahu’s government.”

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Freedom Flotilla vows: ‘This time we will reach Gaza’

12 Jun

335893CJoel Opperdoes, second on the left, among other activists in Brest, France. (Claude Lostic)

By Anna Kokko, Ma’an News Agency, 11 June 2015

Freedom Flotilla vows to break siege: ‘This time we will reach Gaza’

BETHLEHEM  — This (northern) summer, Swedish seaman Joel Opperdoes, 32, is not piloting cargo ships in the Baltic Sea.

Instead, he is the sailing across Europe with five permanent crew members on a fishing trawler named Marianne.

Their final destination is the main seaport of the Gaza Strip, which has been under a jointly enforced Israeli and Egyptian blockade for the last eight years.

“I strongly believe in international solidarity,” Opperdoes told Ma’an from Lisbon, Portugal, where the boat stopped last week. “I am happy to use my professional skills for something good.”

Marianne, which left from Sweden on May 10, is one of the boats taking part in the third Freedom Flotilla Coalition.

While the fishing trawler was brought together by Palestinian solidarity groups Ship to Gaza Sweden and Ship to Gaza Norway, several other international NGOs support the campaign [including a delegation from New Zealand]. All are united in their goal to end the siege of Gaza.

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Kiwis to join new Freedom Flotilla to Gaza

20 May

11263943_10152994654268432_1389637303134061456_nThe first of the Freedom Flotilla ships, the Marianne, gets a big farewell from Sweden last week.

Kia Ora Gaza has been invited to send a New Zealand contingent to join the new international Freedom Flotilla to Gaza next month. We hope to be able to name the team soon. We have launched an appeal to cover the costs. Our target is $15,000.

FREEDOM FLOTILLA APPEAL – HOW TO DONATE:

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 our Board of Trustees can send you an e-receipt.

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

Kia Ora Gaza is a Charitable Trust incorporated under the Charitable Trusts Act 1957.

The Flotilla will comprise at least three ships. The first, the Marianne, departed from Sweden last week, and has arrived in Germany on the way to the Mediterranean sea to link up with the other boats.

Organisers said “Marianne will join other ships and together they will form the ‘Freedom Flotilla III’ in order to perform a peaceful, nonviolent action to break the illegal and inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip.”

Marianne’s cargo includes donated medical equipment and solar panels: “The sun cannot be blockaded.”

RT video interview with filmmaker and activist Osama Qashoo who was on the Freedom Flotilla five years ago.

The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza has launched an international campaign to mobilise support and advocacy politically and diplomatically for the Freedom Flotilla III which included a number of meetings with European parliamentarians and parties’ advisers.

The campaign confirmed during these meetings the need to press Israel to immediately lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki (Dec. 2011 – Dec. 2014) confirmed his participation on one of the FF III vessels. He indicated full support for the mission. Delegations, including law makers, well known artists, activists and media from up to 15 counties will also join the Flotilla

Conditions in Gaza are worse than ever. In March, UNRWA said “the effects of (Israel’s) occupation, blockade and recurring military campaigns have devastated not only Palestine refugee homes, lives and income, but also hope for a secure and dignified future.”

Separately it said “Gaza and its people are becoming more isolated. Families fear and worry that in addition to the devastated economy and stalled political environment, the future of their children is also under siege.”

Israel ruthlessly holds 1.8 million Gazans hostage to its to aim for Middle East dominance.

Regional wars serve Israeli interests. They help its expansionist agenda – at the cost of millions of lost lives and futures.

Israel ‘will not allow’ peace flotilla

An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman announced on Monday that ‘Israel will not allow unauthorized boats to enter its territorial waters’ as the converted trawler Marianne left Sweden intending to break the illegal naval blockade of Gaza.

Without referring to the specific Swedish boat, Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said that “if the so-called helpful Gaza flotillas were really interested in the welfare of the population in Gaza, they would send their aid via Israel. The fact that they insist on a flotilla demonstrates this is an unnecessary provocation.”

The first Freedom Flotilla was led by Turkish ship the Mavi Marmara, which set off towards the besieged Gaza Strip in May 2010 before Israeli forces attacked it in international waters killing ten activists and injuring many others.

Gaza remains illegally and tightly blockaded despite Israel’s pledge to ease it. Large parts of the Strip lie in ruins, with thousands of families still without adequate shelter – almost nine months since Israel’s last war of aggression ended, resulting in over 2000 Palestinian deaths and many thousands injured.

Funds pledged for reconstruction have been almost totally blocked as Israel maintains tight control over what’s allowed in or out.

Living conditions are deplorable. Most Gazans have no electricity 18 or more hours daily. Over 90% of the water is undrinkable, and half a million residents have no running water. Other basic services are woefully inadequate.

Almost half the population is unemployed, including nearly 70% of youths. Around 80% rely on desperately needed humanitarian aid.

Israel’s cruel siege is slowly suffocating Gaza’s 1.8 million people. Egypt’s military rulers have closed down the border crossing at Rafah.

Efforts to break Israel’s siege and deliver vital humanitarian aid are blocked – at times violently.

Flotilla III is a humanitarian mission to deliver vital aid and challenge the naval blockade. Israel blocked the Flotilla II vessels from reaching Gaza.

Its mission statement says the flotillas “will continue to sail until the illegal blockade of Gaza is permanently lifted.”

“Our objective is humanitarian. Our basis lies in international humanitarian law. Our method is non-violent.”

Israel’s blockade is blatantly illegal. It’s slow-motion genocide. It needs to be unconditionally ended.

World leaders able to help, sit on their hands and do nothing. They issue outrageous statements calling for “quiet diplomacy” – code language for condoning Israel’s worst crimes. The humanitarian flotillas and solidarity convoys are international civil society’s practical actions to break and end the siege. 140515_ASH_00-(4)Palestinians hold flags and banners at the Gaza port during a recent rally to show solidarity for Third Freedom Flotilla. [APAImages.]

 

 

Israeli defense minister promises more killing

8 May

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Moshe Yaalon speaking at the 2015 Shurat HaDin conference.

By Asa Winstanley, The Electronic Intifada, 6 May 2015

Israeli defense minister promises to kill more civilians and threatens to nuke Iran

Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon on Tuesday said Israel would attack entire civilian neighborhoods during any future assault on Gaza or Lebanon.

Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem, Yaalon threatened that “we are going to hurt Lebanese civilians to include kids of the family. We went through a very long deep discussion … we did it then, we did it in [the] Gaza Strip, we are going to do it in any round of hostilities in the future.”

The Israeli official also appeared to threaten to drop a nuclear bomb on Iran, although he said “we are not there yet.”

In response to a question about Iran, Yaalon said that “in certain cases” when “we feel like we don’t have the answer by surgical operations” Israel might take “certain steps” such as the Americans did in “Nagasaki and Hiroshima, causing at the end the fatalities of 200,000.”

Relating a July 2013 meeting with UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, Yaalon recalled promising Israel would bomb the entire Gaza City neighborhood of Shujaiya.

He showed Ban photos of villages in Lebanon and of “certain neighborhoods in Gaza, to include well-known Shujaiya, with many red spots” which he claimed were “terror assets in the densely populated urban area. And I said – July 2013 – we are going to hit it.”

Yaalon was true to his word. The Shujaiya massacre was among the most brutal examples of Israeli war crimes during last summer’s attack on the Gaza Strip.

Israel killed 2,257 Palestinians during the 51-day assault, according to the United Nations monitoring group OCHA. Of that number, OCHA says 70 percent were civilians, including 563 children (Defence for Children International–Palestine has documented 547 child deaths).

The 20 July 2014 attack on Shujaiya was the most bloody day of the war, when Israel bombed the entire neighborhood indiscriminately. Initial reports on the day said 60 bodies had been brought out of the rubble. Later reports suggested death tolls of 90 or 120.

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Gaza faces humanitarian crisis due to Israeli siege

25 Apr

The ministry says a shortage of drugs and medical supplies at hospitals and medical centers has been critically aggravated over Israel’s blockade on the coastal sliver for the past eight years.

According to Ashraf Abu Mahady, the director general of pharmacy in the ministry, Gaza now lacks 118 kinds of medicines and 334 types of medical disposals.

The official urged international bodies, including the International Committee of the Red Cross and the World Health Organization, to exert pressure on the Israeli regime to lift the blockade and open Gaza crossings.

The Gaza Strip has been under a crippling Israeli siege since 2007. The blockade, which has cut off the territory from the outside world, has led to an economic and humanitarian crisis in the densely-populated enclave.

In March, the UN expressed concern about the economic situation in the Palestinian territory, saying the lifting of the Israeli siege is the “prerequisite” for reviving its economy.

“We, in the UN, have always been in the forefront in calling for an end to the blockade as a prerequisite for a stable, functioning economy in Gaza,” said Robert Serry, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Process.

The UN official further noted that the blockaded area suffered destruction during the latest Israeli onslaught in 2014, saying Gaza’s rehabilitation process would “take years.”

Last summer, Israel unleashed a war on the territory, which killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians and left over 11,100 others injured. The 50-day war ended with an Egyptian-brokered truce

Israel sprays Gaza farms with poisonous chemicals

21 Apr

PressTV video report, Gaza, 20 April 2015

Days of Palestine report, Gaza Strip, 20 April, 2015

Israeli occupation destroyed all structures and facilities of the Gaza farmers along the eastern borders during last summer’s Israeli offensive

On Monday morning the Israeli occupation sprayed poisonous gases on the Palestinian farms in the east by the Gaza borders.

“During last summer’s Israeli offensive on Gaza, the Israeli occupation destroyed last year’s season,” Hussein said, “and this came to destroy this year’s season.”

Conformed accounts of Palestinian farmers reiterated that this is the second time that the Israeli occupation had sprayed poisonous gases on their crops along the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip.

“When I arrived my farm in the early morning, I was surprised to see an Israeli farming plane crossing the borders towards farms inside Gaza,” farmer Said Hussein told Days of Palestine. “The plane started to spray unidentified chemicals.”

Hussein added: “My farm is 400 metres away from the borders and I planted several kinds of vegetables. After the plants were sprayed with the poisonous gases, they started to turn brown gradually.”

He said that the plants were not completely damaged, but he expected them to be completely damaged by tomorrow or after tomorrow.

Israeli occupation destroyed all the Gaza farmers facilities along the borders of the Gaza Strip during last summer’s Israeli offensive on the Strip. “That destroyed last year’s season,” Hussein said, “and this came to destroy this year’s season.” [Slightly abridged]

A Palestinian farmer collects damaged strawberries at his field in Beit Lahia

Rafah border crossing closed for 100 days now

20 Apr

rafah-crossingPalestinians gather at the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing

World Bulletin / News Desk, 19 April 2015

The Rafah crossing on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula has been closed for 100 days now, the Gaza Interior Ministry said Saturday.

It added that this has been the longest closure of the crossing since 2009, calling on Egyptian authorities to reopen the border point to alleviate the suffering of the residents of the Gaza Strip.

Around 60,000 Gaza residents have registered to get out of the blockaded territory from the crossing for medical and other needs since July of 2013, according to Gaza’s border crossings authority.

Since October of last year, Egyptian authorities have been working to create a buffer zone in the border area between Sinai and the Gaza Strip.

 

Gaza blockade opens door for ‘new war’: UNRWA

16 Mar

Robert-Turner-giving-speech-as-UNRWA-opens-a-health-center-in-Gaza's-Rafah-2015-01

Middle East Monitor report, 15 March 2015
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) has warned of the ramification of the ongoing Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, saying it could open the way for a “new war” in the region.

Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza Robert Turner said at a press briefing that his agency was extremely concerned over the continued Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip and also delay in the reconstruction of the Palestinian territory.

He described conditions in the Gaza Strip as “very bad.”

He said the a “new war” would be inescapable if the blockade was not lifted and the Gaza Strip reconstructed.

Turner went on to assert that UNRWA had sought to improve conditions in the coastal territory and reduce the number of Palestinian refugees seeking shelter at UNRWA-run schools across Gaza.

He also called on donor countries to honor financial pledges they made for Gaza during a conference held in Egyptian capital Cairo in October of 2014.

UNRWA, Turner said, had plans to build 7,000 houses in Gaza. However, he added, only funds for the construction of 200 houses were available.

Israel’s latest offensive on the Gaza Strip left thousands of Palestinian homes and public facilities either in total or partial ruin.

The offensive, which was launched for 51 days in July and August of 2014, also left 2,160 Gaza residents dead – mostly civilians – and more than 11,000 others injured.

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