Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Activists marking one year since launch of IDF offensive protest Israeli blockade, prevented from entering Strip. Israel continues to perpetuate destruction, suffering,' one of them says
Police detained 16 left-wing activists as they were trying to cross into Gaza on Sunday to mark the one year anniversary of Operation Cast Lead.
Chief Superintendent Shimon Nahmani, commander of the Sderot police station, said the leftists held a rally without prior authorization.
"We detained them and had to employ a reasonable amount of force, but we didn’t beat anyone," he said. "They are currently being interrogated at the station, and may be charged with entering a closed military zone without a permit and holding an illegal demonstration."
Several dozen left-wing activists took part in the protest against the Israeli blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory, claiming it was hindering Gaza's rehabilitation.
Adar Grievsky of the "Anarchist against the Wall" group said, "We began walking southward on the beach towards Gaza, but near Zikim large police and IDF forces prevented us from crossing (into Gaza).
"A year after Israel killed 1,400 people during the Cast Lead war, Israel continues to perpetuate destruction and suffering by preventing rehabilitation and denying the transfer of construction materials to Gaza," said the activist.
According to Grievsky, the purpose of the march was to "convey the message that as citizens living in this country, we find the situation intolerable and we must resist it."
One of the protestors claimed that one of the leftists was beaten by police.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Israeli Military Kills 6 Palestinians
JERUSALEM — The Israeli military killed six Palestinians on Saturday, three in the West Bank whom it accused of killing a Jewish settler and three in Gaza who it said were crawling along the border wall planning an attack. It was the deadliest day in the conflict in nearly a year.
Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, called it “a sad day for Palestinians and their National Authority” and condemned the West Bank operation as an “assassination” and “an attempt to target the state of security and stability that the Palestinian Authority has been able to achieve.”
Maj. Peter Lerner, spokesman for Israel’s Central Command, which controls the West Bank, said that its forces had spent the past two days looking for the killers of the settler, Rabbi Meir Hai, a 45-year-old teacher and father of seven, who was shot dead on Thursday as he drove near his home in the settlement of Shavei Shomron.
The information gathered, he said, led them to three men in the city of Nablus early Saturday. Troops in jeeps descended on their homes and in each case, he said, the suspect was asked to give himself up. None did so, and all were shot dead.
All three, he added, had been involved in anti-Israel violence in the past through activities in the Aksa Martyrs Brigade, a militia associated with the Fatah movement led by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.
One of them, Annan Sleiman Moustafa Tsubakh, 36, was hiding with two assault rifles, two handguns and ammunition in a crawl space in his house when the Israeli troops found him.
Major Lerner said that the three were the killers of Rabbi Hai and that they acted as an isolated cell rather than as part of some larger organization. Asked if the Israelis had coordinated with the Palestinian security forces that had been patrolling West Bank cities for a year and a half, he said no, that the army’s job was first and foremost to protect Israeli civilians.
Ghassan Katib, spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, said Palestinian security had been investigating the killing when the Israelis interfered.
“This is what they do,” he said. “They kill people and then claim they were responsible. Our security forces had begun an investigation into the killing but the Israelis did not coordinate with us.”
Relatives of two of the three men who were in the houses when the raids occurred contended that the men were not armed and that the Israelis shot without warning. In the case of Mr. Tsubakh, relatives said they fled while he remained inside.
In the middle of the second Palestinian uprising in 2002 and 2003, drive-by shootings of settlers like the one that killed Rabbi Hai had become almost common in the West Bank. An Israeli clampdown and a Palestinian security focus — and greatly increased cooperation between the forces — have turned such attacks into a rarity and have led to a sense of increased personal security and potential prosperity.
But since the war in Gaza a year ago and the election of Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister, peace talks have been suspended, and officials on both sides fear that violence may pick up again and that security coordination could decline.
Each side blames the other. Mr. Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, called on his people not to be “dragged into a circle of violence, chaos and instability.”
At the Nablus funeral procession on Saturday for the three killed, attended by thousands, some shouted for revenge and condemned the security coordination with the Israelis.
A man who claimed to speak for Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade issued a statement saying that by killing six Palestinians on Saturday, “the occupation forces have opened the doors of hell on themselves.”
The killing of the three Palestinians in Gaza occurred when Israeli soldiers guarding the border from inside Israel saw people crawling along the border barrier near the main civilian crossing point. Israel permits no such movement near its border.
The soldiers said they fired warning shots but the three continued to crawl. An Israeli aircraft then shot at the men and killed them, an army spokeswoman said. She added that the army was convinced that the men were planning an attack.
Khaled Abu Aker contributed reporting from the West Bank.
Egypt asserts that it has not hindered the convoy in any sense and that it has offered access to the convoy via El-Arish, but this would mean driving hundreds of miles back into the countries they have formerly crossed. Furthermore, Egypt has ordered the convoy to comply to its set of guidlines, which include coordinating with UNRWA, and thus surrendering all humanitarian aid carried. Adding fuel to the fire, the Egyptian authorities have outlined that the convoy leaders must negotiate with Israel to get into Gaza, despite it being a region universally accepted as Palestinian land.
The convoy members aim to go on a hunger strike as of 27th December 2009 in an attempt to appeal to the president of Egypt and show solidarity with the Palestinians as they mark the anniversary of the assault on Gaza at the Israeli hand. The duration of the hunger strike has not been revealed but it is clear that the convoy will not yield to the barriers before them.
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Friday, December 25, 2009
OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT MUBARAK FROM THE GAZA FREEDOM MARCH
December 25, 2009
We, representing 1,362 individuals from 43 countries arriving in Cairo to participate in the Gaza Freedom March, are pleading to the Egyptians and your reputation for hospitality.
We are peacemakers. We have not come to Egypt to create trouble or cause conflict. On the contrary. We have come because we believe that all people -- including the Palestinians of Gaza -- should have access to the resources they need to live in dignity. We have gathered in Egypt because we believed that you would welcome and support our noble goal and help us reach Gaza through your land.
As individuals who believe in justice and human rights, we have spent our hard-earned, and sometimes scarce, resources to buy plane tickets, book hotel rooms and secure transportation only to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza living under a crushing Israeli blockade.
We are doctors, lawyers, students, academics, poets and musicians. We are young and old. We are Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists and secular. We represent civil society groups in many countries who coordinated this large project with the civil society in Gaza.
We have raised tens of thousands of dollars for medical aid, school supplies and winter clothing for the children of Gaza. But we realize that in addition to material aid, the Palestinians of Gaza need moral support. We came to offer that support on the difficult anniversary of an invasion that brought them so much suffering.
The idea of the Gaza Freedom March—a nonviolent march to the Israeli Erez crossing-- emerged during one of our trips to Gaza in May, a trip that was kindly facilitated by the Egyptian government. Ever since the idea emerged, we have been talking to your government through your embassies overseas and directly with your Foreign Ministries. Your representatives have been kind and supportive. We were asked to furnish information about all the participants—passports, dates of birth, occupations—which we have done in good faith. We have answered every question, met every request. For months we have been working under the assumption that your government would facilitate our passage, as it has done on so many other occasions. We waited and waited for an answer.
Meanwhile, time was getting short and we had to start organizing. Travel over the Christmas season is not easy in the countries where many of us live. Tickets have to be purchased weeks, if not months, in advance. This is what all 1,362 individuals did. They spent their own funds or raised money from their communities to pay their way. Add to this the priceless time, effort and sacrifice by all these people to be away from their homes and loved ones during their festive season.
In Gaza, civil society groups—students, unions, women, farmers, refugee groups—have been working nonstop for months to organize the march. They have organized workshops, concerts, press conferences, endless meetings—all of this with their own scarce resources. They have been buoyed by the anticipated presence of so many global citizens coming to support their just cause.
If the Egyptian government decides to prevent the Gaza Freedom March, all this work and cost is lost.
And that's not all. It is practically impossible, this late in the game, to stop all these people from travelling to Egypt, even if we wanted to. Moreover, most have no plans in Egypt other than to arrive at a predetermined meeting point to head together to the Gaza border. If these plans are cancelled there will be a lot of unjustified suffering for the Palestinians of Gaza and over a thousand internationals who had nothing in mind but noble intentions.
We plead to you to let the Gaza Freedom March continue so that we can join the Palestinians of Gaza to march together on December 31, 2009.
We are truly hopeful that we will receive a positive response from you and thank you for your assistance.
Tighe Barry, Gaza Freedom March coordinator
Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK, USA
Kawthar Guediri, Collectif National pour une Paix Juste et Durable entre Palestinens et Israeliens, France
Mark Johnson, Fellowship of Reconciliation
Alessandra Mecozzi, Action for Peace-Italy
Germano Monti, Forum Palestine, Italy
Ehab Lotayef, Gaza Freedom March, Canada
Ziyaad Lunat, Gaza Freedom March, Europe
Thomas Sommer, Focus on The Global South, India
David Torres, ABP, Belgium
Ann Wright, Gaza Freedom March coordinator
Olivia Zemor, Euro-Palestine, France
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Wed, 23 Dec 2009 10:55:35 GMT
Israel has threatened another massive war against the Gaza Strip as the impoverished enclave continues to suffer in the aftermath of the devastating January offensive.
Israeli planes have been dropping thousands of leaflets across Gaza, warning Palestinians against cooperating with the resistance fighters based in the coastal sliver.
The leaflets also threaten Gazans with a new attack just ahead of the first anniversary of Israel's 22-day onslaught against the Palestinian territory.
On December 2008, Tel Aviv launched an all-out military action against Gaza, killing 1,400 people, including a large number of women and children, killed and leaving thousands more injured.
The threats come despite the Israeli army's failure in its January operation to reach its strategic and military objectives — above all its pledged overthrow of Israel's long-time arch foe, Hamas.
In July, the activist group Breaking the Silence released print and video testimony from some 30 soldiers who said they entered Gaza with firing guns upon a "permissive" guideline by commanders, urging to shoot first and worry later about distinguishing civilians from combatants.
The 112-page testimony also accused Israeli troops of using Palestinian civilians as human shields and charged Israel with dropping forbidden white phosphorus bombs indiscriminately into Gaza streets on the top of aerial bombardment and heavy artillery fire.
In April, former South African UN prosecutor Richard Goldstone led an independent fact-finding mission commissioned by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate international human rights and humanitarian law violations during the Gaza war.
The committee's 575-page report mostly highlighted Israeli atrocities against the people in the beleaguered Gaza Strip and documented deliberate targeting of centers, such as schools and mosques, known to be holding civilians.
The document also filed complaints that the Israeli soldiers killed unarmed people on the run, saying some of the victims were even waving white flags.
In October, the damning report was put up for a vote in the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council and endorsed by an overwhelming majority of 114 countries while 18 opposed and 44 abstained.
The three-week Israeli land, sea and air offensive in the Gaza Strip also devastated a large part of the infrastructure in the impoverished coastal enclave, which remains under Tel Aviv's blockade despite international opposition.