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.



Palestine: One state for all or a final Zionist ethnic cleansing?

13 Aug


By Alan Hart, Veterans Today, 12 August, 2015

 hartAlan Hart is a former ITN and BBC Panorama foreign correspondent who has covered wars and conflicts wherever they were taking place in the world and specialized in the Middle East.

Palestine: One state for all or a final Zionist ethnic cleansing?

The headline over a recent article in The Times of Israel by the paper’s Middle East analyst, Avi Issacharoff, was ‘The end of the two-state solution’. And the strapline (secondary headline) underneath that was a quote from the body of his article. “It’s time to say it out loud: The Israeli right has won – a temporary, pyrrhic victory that has set Israel on the path to becoming a Muslim-majority state.”

Issacharoff’s opening thoughts were the following.

Conditions are now such that an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank has already become impossible.

And here it must be said: The watershed line seems to have been crossed. The two-state solution is no more.

No Palestinian state will exist here beside the State of Israel.

He went on to ask if anyone believes that an evacuation of (illegal) Jewish settlers from the occupied West Bank is possible. His own answer was the following (my emphasis added).

During the disengagement, the Israeli army managed to evacuate the settlers from Gaza in just a few days. But there were fewer than 10,000 settlers then, and the army looked different as well. Does anyone seriously think that the army in its present form – an army that has undergone such significant social transformations over the past two decades, whose best officers are members of the religious Zionist movement and live in the settlements – can carry out a task of that nature? The idea seems so unrealistic as to be ludicrous.

What Issacharoff didn’t say is that the real reason for Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip was the need to do some defusing of the ticking demographic time-bomb of occupation.

In reality the two-state solution was never on from the moment the UN Security Council passed Resolution 242 on 22 November 1967.

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Gaza Flotilla activists to sue Israel at Int’l Criminal Court

12 Aug

MintPressNews report, Gaza, 11 August 2015

 Gaza Flotilla Activists to Sue Israel at International Criminal Court (ICC)

Mint Press News‘ “Behind the Headline” series hosted by Mnar Muhawesh conducted an exclusive interview with Kevin Neish, [see link above] survivor of the latest Freedom Flotilla aid ship. The Flotilla was headed to the besieged Gaza Strip when it was attacked and hijacked by Israeli soldiers in international waters.

It has been one year since Israel waged a war against the Gaza Strip in 2014 under Operation Protective Edge. Over 2,000 Palestinians were killed including over 500 children. The majority of victims were civilians and not Hamas fighters, whereas Israel’s casualties were mostly invading soldiers with less than five civilian casualties including the three kidnapped teens. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were left homeless and severe damage to essential infrastructure was damaged or destroyed. Gaza is often called the world’s largest open air prison.

Israeli soldiers of conscience anonymously blew the whistle on how they received order after order to deliberately target civilians without cause, challenging the mainstream media’s “human shields” myth. Israel had leveled entire towns and villages within Gaza. After all the bloodshed and destruction, Israel admitted that no one from Hamas were responsible for the 3 kidnapped Israeli teens after all. Netanyahu purposefully withheld the information from the grieving victims’ parents so that his government could mass murder Palestinians.

With estimates of rebuilding Gaza to its prior state being as high as 100 years, activists have taken it upon themselves to bring aid to Gaza since Israel’s blockade keeps out essential items for medicine, shelter, infrastructure, and food. A total of three Freedom Flotillas have set sail in attempts to break the blockade. Israel’s wanton, unprovoked and inhuman violence was exposed to the world. On the first voyage, 10 unarmed international aid workers did not return home as they were brutally murdered by IDF soldiers, some execution style.

Kevin Neish was on the 1st and 3rd Flotillas and helped to photograph the violence and many of the bodies of dead activists who just wanted to make life better for those who experience this type of violence on a daily basis for the past 60 years of the Israeli occupation.

In initial reports of the capture of the most recent Flotilla, the IDF lied and said they boarded the ship non-violently in an attempt to appear as if their behavior of non-violently breaking international law is a step up from murdering unarmed activists. Neish and other activists tell a different story of a hostile takeover of the ship, tasering, and illegal detention. This takeover occurred in international waters, proving Israel’s disregard for international law.

Like last time, Neish captured footage of the illegal raid and will once again present it to the International Criminal Court. He was detained in Israel for several days afterward and was abused by Israeli soldiers. IDF prison guards placed their own fecal matter on towels in the prison shower that Neish had hoped to use to dry himself.

Neish mentioned that the boat used for the Freedom Flotilla was of Swedish national origin, where the government recognized the state of Palestine. The ship did intend to legally enter the state of Palestine, instead of illegally entering Israel as the IDF claims. Also, Neish noted that Israel attacking the ship is tantamount to an act of war against Swedish soil.

The ICC dismissed the original case of the 10 murders on the first Flotilla, even though they admitted it was a war crime. The current appeal now has a much larger base of evidence including the legal equivalent of invading Swedish soil. If the ICC rejects it again, it will certainly bring up questions about the legitimacy & neutrality of the ICC, as if Israel’s blatant war crimes against Gaza aren’t sufficient grounds for international war crimes prosecution at The Hague.

Mavi_Marmara_side-400x268Image: MV Mavi Marmara

Mint Press News is an independent watchdog journalism organization that provides issue-based original reporting, in-depth investigations, and thoughtful analysis of the most pressing topics.

Witnessing Israel’s war and destruction of Gaza

11 Aug


AJ+ video

One year on: when Israel started its invasion of Gaza in the summer of 2014, the pictures of death and destruction were all over our screens. But Max Blumenthal travelled there to see for himself. So many of the stories he witnessed were never talked about in the news.

Chris Hedges: Why I support the boycott of Apartheid Israel

6 Aug

Chris Hedges: Why I support the boycott of Israel’s ‘Apartheid’ state

RT America – a recent interview with investigative journalist & author, Chris Hedges

In an exclusive interview, investigative journalist Chris Hedges talks about his experience during last year’s destructive Israeli siege of Gaza. He explains what he saw as an “apartheid regime” and how the violence on the ground pushed him to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the state of Israel. Hedges also explores the fractured relationship between the US and Israel. Watch the full interview with RT’s Anya Parampil.


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.


The Palestinian bubble and the burning of baby Ali Dawabsha

4 Aug


Relatives mourn the death of 18-month-old Ali Dawabsha, after he was killed in an arson attack by Jewish settlers. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org

By Ramzy Baroud, Politics for the People blog, 2 August 2015.

One-and-a-half year old Ali Saad Dawabsha became the latest victim of Israeli violence on July 31. He was burnt to death. Other members of his family were also severely burnt in a Jewish settlers’ attack on their home in the village of Duma, near Nablus, in the West Bank.

A spokesman for Rabbis for Human Rights told Al Jazeera Arabic that this is the tenth attack on Nablus by settlers in July. A statement issued by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) provided an even more alarming statistic, putting the number of Jewish settlers’ attacks, some of them lethal, at an estimated 11,000 since the end of 2014.

Ali Dawabsha is not the first Palestinian child to be burnt to death, although the story of Mohamed Abu Khdeir who was tortured and burnt alive by a group of Jewish extremists in July 2014 now serves as a hideous benchmark for Israeli settler violence, which is often conducted under the watchful eye of – or as part of larger violent campaign led by – the Israeli army.

Despite Israeli political theater and statements of condemnations following Abu Khdeir’s grisly murder, Israeli violence against Palestinians is part and parcel of Israel’s Occupation policy, draped in numerous crimes gone unpunished.

Little Ali is no different from the 490 Palestinians killed in Israel’s last summer war on Gaza, which killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians. The Dawabsha family home, which was completely burnt, (while Ali’s mother, father and brother, Ahmed, all sustained serious burns) was no different from the 20,000 Gaza homes which, according to the UN, were destroyed during the Israeli carnage in the Strip.

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Protest demands NZ SuperFund withdraws Israeli investments

3 Aug

FullSizeRenderA lively lunchtime protest at the NZ SuperFund HQ in Downtown Auckland today (Photo: Kia Ora Gaza).

Although divesting from a few Israeli corporations under pressure, NZ SuperFund still retains an array of investments in Israel’s continued harsh occupation of Palestine and siege.

SuperFund CEO Adrian Orr met with an Auckland superannuitants group a few months ago, and agreed to ‘monitor’ their Israeli investments and discuss changes. However, Orr has recently refused any further dialogue and police barred a deputation from the group from entering their downtown headquarters after a lively protest today.

‘We are calling on the NZ SuperFund to continue to divest from companies …that profit off others’ suffering’ said the seniors’ group coordinator, Phil McNeale, at the 60-strong rally. ‘We demand our tax dollars are immediately withdrawn from companies which arm Israel and help maintain its brutal regime of occupation and siege.’

In 2012, Superfund divested from a number of companies which profit off Israel’s war crimes, such as Elbit Systems, a drone manufacturer. Last year NZ Super dropped armaments manufacturer, General Dynamics from their Israeli investment portfolio.

Today, however, NZ Superfund continues to invest in some 38 companies which supply Israel with the means to attack civilians, and in companies which profit from the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. These investments are an affront to international law and the principles of human rights.

‘NZ Superfund has taken an ethical stance on not investing with companies tied to nuclear weaponry and whaling. We want to see this same compassion afforded to Palestinians. As taxpayers we do not want to see our money invested in the suffering and murder of other human beings,’ said McNeale.

NZSF had $7,678,104 invested in some 38 Israeli corporations, plus $2,017,530 in Caterpillar, who supply huge armed bulldozers to the Israeli military. Here are some of them:

• G4S: a British-Danish private security company that provides services and equipment to Israeli prisons, checkpoints, the Apartheid Wall and the Israeli police.
• United Technologies: produces Blackhawk helicopters used to attack cities, refugee camps and villages.
• Boeing: sells Israel F-15A fighter jets and Apache AH 64 helicopters used in attacks on Gaza.
• Raytheon: produces bombs used in attacking Gaza.
• Caterpillar: produces militarised bulldozers used to destroy Palestinian homes.
• Israel Chemicals: produces white phosphorus.
• Hewlett-Packard Co: produces technologies for the Israeli military and profits from business in illegal settlements

Israel exploits Syrian chaos to plan looting of Golan oil

22 Jul


Israeli soldiers patrol near the occupied Syrian town of Majdal al-Shams in the Golan Heights in 2011. [Oren Ziv ActiveStills]

By Paul Fallon, The Electronic Intifada, 21 July 2015

According to Geoff Rochwarger, CEO of Afek, energy independence is the new Zionism.

The Afek oil and gas exploration company has almost completed its second drilling test in the Golan Heights, a part of Syria which Israel has occupied since 1967 and annexed in violation of international law.

The test is part of a three-year programme to see if hydrocarbons in the area could lead to oil or gas for Israel.

Israel is fuel-poor and its domestic energy woes could be eased in the interim if the government progresses on deals in relation to the Tamar and Leviathan gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea.

In addition, Israel is now taking advantage of the chaos in Syria to look for precious resources to extract from the occupied Golan Heights.

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Why Palestinians resist: The logic of life and death in Gaza

17 Jul

IMG_0696Gaza City graffiti, Nov 2012 (Photo: Kia Ora Gaza)

By Ramzy Baroud, Ma’an News Agency, 16 July 2015.

Another row is brewing between Israel and the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, over the release of Avraham Mengitsu, an Israeli citizen who, according to Israeli military sources, ‘slipped into Gaza’ on September 7, 2014.

The circumstances of Mengitsu’s entry into Gaza remain unclear, especially since Hamas’ political leader, Khaled Mashaal, denied that the military wing of Hamas is holding the Israeli citizen.

According to Israel’s Defense Ministry, another Israeli is also being held in Gaza. A gag order on Mengitsu’s disappearance was just lifted, but another remains in effect regarding the other, allegedly, detained Israeli.

Indirect negotiations for their release are yet to begin, according to Israeli officials.

For Hamas, who, according to Mashaal, has been approached by Israel via European interlocutors, no discussion will be possible until Israel releases 71 Palestinians. This is the number of Palestinians who were re-arrested soon after they were released in 2011 following a prisoner exchange between Hamas and Israel. At the time, a prisoner swap secured the release of 1,027 Palestinians (477 reportedly affiliated with Hamas) and Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was captured and held by Hamas fighters for five years.

The new prospect of negotiations will allow Hamas to raise the issue of Israel’s violation of the last prisoner exchange agreement. By re-arresting freed prisoners, future agreements with Israel would appear frivolous and seem like a temporary measure to secure Israel’s immediate interests, without full and unconditional commitment regarding the freedom of newly released Palestinian prisoners.

Being the occupying power with unhindered access to occupied Palestinian territories in Jerusalem and the West Bank, Israel can apprehend any Palestinian they accuse of ‘terrorism,’ without much proof or serious due process. The Israeli efforts at choking any form of resistance, armed or otherwise, is often supported by the Palestinian Authority, whose security goons are fully trained and equipped to crush any dissent in the West Bank. A recent foray of arrests, targeting mainly Hamas supporters and other dissenting voices, is the latest proof.

Many cynics questioned the prisoner exchange in 2011. Some asked, “What is the value of securing the release of hundreds of prisoners if they can be re-arrested by Israel at whim?”

Palestinians continue to face the same dilemma of every national liberation movement in modern times. Native Americans, too, haggled with the same dilemma as they faced genocide and annihilation.

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Israel allows increased trickle of goods into Gaza

16 Jul


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


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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Has the world abandoned Gaza?

9 Jul


Democracy Now! report, 8 July 2015

As Gaza marks one year since the launch of Israel’s devastating 50-day assault, it remains in a state of crisis. The assault killed 2,200 Palestinians, including 550 children. On the Israeli side, 73 people were killed, all but six of them soldiers. A year later, none of the 12,000 homes destroyed in Gaza have been rebuilt, in part due to the ongoing Israeli blockade. The World Bank is warning the Gaza economy is on the verge of collapse. Overall unemployment now stands at 43 percent — the highest in the world.

We speak with Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer, author of “Shell-Shocked: On the Ground Under Israel’s Gaza Assault.”



Israel’s Army of Spin-Doctors is Doomed to Defeat

8 Jul

gaza_bombing_ahmad_dalloul_irin Aftermath of Israeli raid on Gaza. (Ahmed Dalloul, UN)

By Jonathan Cook, Nazareth, The Palestine Chronicle, 8 July 2015

The Israeli government believes it is locked in an epic struggle to save Israel from the growing movement calling for an international boycott. Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns that Israel must quickly “rebrand” itself to avoid pariah status.

Ordinary Israelis are therefore being conscripted into an army of spin-doctors in a campaign termed “hasbara” – Hebrew for “public diplomacy”, or more literally “propaganda”.

In the latest offensive, the education ministry has launched a compulsory hasbara course for Israeli students travelling abroad. All youth delegations are now required to learn how to justify to outsiders Israel’s policies in the occupied territories. According to officials, the students must challenge those who “seek to delegitimize Israel”.

It is yet more evidence that hasbara has become a national obsession in Israel – and that the line between support for one’s country and support for the subjugation of another people has been erased. Some 85 per cent of Israelis tell pollsters they are keen to become hasbara ambassadors for the Netanyahu government.

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