Tag Archives: Israel

One year later: In search of Ayman

26 Aug
Ayman loved birds, keeping several for pets until the day he died.

By Yousef Aljamal, We are Not Numbers, Gaza, 24 August 2015

Palestinians are sentenced to sadness. Death haunts us as if it is our own shadow. Even when we want to celebrate, death infiltrates into our backyard, replacing our little joyful moments, which soon vanish in a twinkle of an eye—replacing smiley faces with tear-streaked cheeks. When someone is gone, things are never the same. With Ayman gone, Gaza has never been the same. Ayman’s birds stopped singing.

As bombs were falling on Gaza in the summer of 2014, I landed in Amman to celebrate my cousin’s wedding and meet my West Bank family there, whom I had not seen for nearly 15 years. My uncle and I were driving back from his sister’s house, after we paid her a short visit and distributed some wedding invitations, when I got a text message notification on my cell phone. It was from my sister in Gaza telling me, “your friend Ayman was killed by Israeli shelling just now.” It was so direct and blunt that I could not read it a second time. Silence fell. I had lost my childhood friend.

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Israel mulls task force to combat boycott campaign

24 Aug


PressTV report, 23 August, 2015

Israel is planning to set up a taskforce to cope with the boycott campaign against the regime that’s been gaining momentum across the globe.

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan is expected to head the so-called taskforce. Erdan says he has studied the ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ movement and has met many individuals familiar with the campaign including Foreign Ministry officials. But it seems that the Foreign Ministry has given the cold shoulder to the anti-boycott plans, fearing that Erdan might do more harm than good as he isn’t familiar enough with such domains. The campaign, launched by Palestinian activists in 2005, calls for the boycott of Israel over its crimes against Palestinians. PressTV interviews Paul Larudee from the boycott (BDS) movement.

Gaza Fire – frontline documentary

20 Aug

Short video documentary: ‘Gaza Fire’

The Palestine Chronicle, 19 August 2015.

More than a year since Israel’s devastating war in Gaza, whole communities remain affected.

The conflict left more than 2,000 Palestinians and 71 Israelis dead, while Israel’s aerial bombardment of Gaza left 18,000 homes destroyed.

The Palestinian enclave’s fire service was on the front line – desperately trying to save people caught in the fighting. One year on, Gaza’s firefighters are battling not just flames – but politics, salary shortages and a chronic lack of equipment.

This is their story.



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.


Cleaning your teeth with white phosphorus?

14 Aug

Hamza-300-x-400Hamza Mus’ab Almadani, scarred for life by NZ SuperFund’s investment partners Israeli Chemicals

Dr Vacy Vlazna, gaza.scoop.ps, 13 August 2015

One year ago, on 15 August – 40 days into Israel’s 51 day monstrous assault on Gaza that was clocking up 1800 innocent Palestinian deaths – Adrian Orr, the CEO of the New Zealand Superfund (NZSF) took a cheap shot, a morally cheap low shot, at concerned young protesters who chained themselves in the NZSF office (Auckland) demanding that the NZSF immediately divest from Israel Chemicals (ICL) – a supplier of lethal white phosphorus to the US army for the manufacture of munitions sold back to Israel to barrage fire and death on Gaza.

In response to spokesperson Nadia Abu-Shanab’s passionate urging for divestment, Adrian Orr’s smug retort was,

“Do you brush your teeth? ( Nadia: “Sorry?) “Do you brush your teeth? White phosphorus is used in many places”

Orr is not stupid, paid NZ$800,000 p.a, he knows that phosphate is used in toothpaste whereas the pure evil of white phosphorus, derived from phosphate through an industrial process, is so highly reactive to oxygen it has to be stored under water. Exposed to air, it sears human flesh to the bone, damages the immune system and causes neurological damage.

Nadia then goes on to say, “Palestinians have actually identified the company” and Orr butts in with appalling callous flippancy, “I can identify lots of companies that annoy me in life.”

Annoy? Annoyance is not how I would describe Mus’ab Almadani’s attitude to Israeli Chemicals that supplied the white phosphorus that seared the innocent flesh of his little son Hamza, 3. The pain has branded horrific physical, emotional and psychological scars on Hamza for life. [Pictured above].

Orr admits that Israeli Chemicals (ICL): “sells some to the US defense force, the US defence force then sells some to the Israeli defense force.”

Orr’s offhand comment glosses over the evidence that ICL’s white phosphorus is integrated in munitions used in Gaza: “The Army contracting Command – Rock Island (ACC-RI) has awarded contract W52P1J-13-P-3004 for White Phosphorus to ICL Performance Products LP, used for the Ctg 155mm M110A2.”

Notwithstanding, Orr and NZSF have dug in, refusing to exclude Israeli Chemicals because they “draw a distinction between a company being directly and materially involved in an activity, versus being a supplier of materials or services in the normal course of business.”

That argument wouldn’t go down well with NZ drug enforcement regarding overseas suppliers exporting pseudoephedrine and ephedrine to NZ for methamphetamine manufacture.

NZSF is a government body and so Orr is dutifully following NZ government policy that goes easy on Israel’s genocidal assaults on Palestinian families. Prime Minister John Key, on July 22, 2014, two weeks into Gaza’s hell, parroted Israeli propaganda that Israel had ‘the right to defend itself’ [but not Palestinians, not Hamza] in a conflict between two equal sides. Seriously equal??? – high tech Israeli munitions against a people, the majority whom are children, cut off by land, sky and sea versus piddling rockets.

Key’s opportunistic reference to “the kidnapping of three Israeli teens on the West Bank in early June” pointedly lays false blame on the Palestinians boosted by his devious omission that Israel had killed 16 Palestinians,including 4 children, in the West Bank from January to June 2014.

Orr ends the encounter with the protesters, with bureaucratic pragmatism: “We need to get on with business, we heard you, I will be thinking hard about it”

In his hard thinking Orr must also consider Bank Leumi for divestment. It has an 18% stake in Israel Chemicals.

Orr has had exactly a year to think about it. One hoped in his contemplation he researched Mads Gilbert Night in Gaza or Mohammed Omer’s Shellshocked or Atef Abu Saif, The Drone Eats with Me or Max Blumenthal, The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza.

On August 3, 2015, sixty principled protesters rallied outside the NZSF building in Aukland to remind the NZSF that investment in Israel’s barbaric business of death was not to be done in their name.

Orr refused to meet with them. Seems NZSF staff have acquired the knack to sleep easy at night while working for a company, on behalf of the pro-Israel NZ government, that invests in Israeli war crimes.

Well, New Zealand, here’s a challenge for Adrian Orr – Brush your teeth with white phosphorus or divest from Israel Chemicals!


– Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters, Sydney, Australia. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001.


POST SCRIPT: In response to the above, a correspondent has made the following suggestion:

Ask folk to write to NZ SuperFund CEO Adrian Orr at enquiries@nzsuperfund.co.nz  and Cc john.key@national.org.nz
with just two sentences:

Adrian Orr
CEO, NZ Superfund

Brush your teeth with white phosphorus or divest from Israel Chemicals!
No war crimes investment in my name.

…and click resend every morning to maintain the rage and principle.




Aljazeera documentary – Gaza: Human shields

13 Aug


Aljazeera World video documentary, 13 August 2015

For 50 days, more than 6,000 air strikes, 14,500 tanks shells and 45,000 artillery shells were fired on Gaza as Israel decimated the Palestinian enclave in Operation protective edge.

More than 2,200 Palestinians, including 551 children were killed, as Israel attempted to end rocket attacks and destroy tunnels used by Hamas and other Palestinian groups.

As shells, bombs and rockets laid waste to Gaza, both sides were engaged in a propaganda battle as the civilian death toll continued to rise.

The Israeli government repeatedly claimed that Palestinian groups were to blame, accusing them of using women and children as human shields as they fired rockets into Israel.

In Gaza: Human Shields, we speak to civilians, academics and human rights advocates who have accused the Israeli military of employing the tactic as they battled Hamas.

We hear testimony from Palestinians being forcing them to walk in front of Israeli soldiers at gunpoint and enter potentially hostile buildings.

We examine evidence alleging Israel’s long-standing practice of human shields and explore whether Hamas used residential buildings and civilian areas to launch attacks.

“They [the Israeli army] took me and put me on top of a tank”, Anas Najjar, a resident of the battered southern town of Khuazaa says; while Ramy Abdu of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor says there is “enough files to condemn Israel and prove it’s committed war crimes by using civilians as human shields.”

Showing both Israeli and Palestinian perspectives on the use of human shields, Gaza: Human Shields follows on from a recently-published UN enquiry into war crimes during the July-August 2014 war.



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