Hopes of Gaza cast in lead

Israel is gearing up for another major offensive into Gaza, yet the world community still remains bafflingly silent.
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2011 14:11 GMT
It is mainly through civil society acts of defiance, like the Mavi Marmara and the Freedom Flotilla, that offer the appropriate responses to the injustices occurring in Gaza [EPA]

It is dismaying that during this dark anniversary period two years after the launch of the deadly attacks on the people of Gaza – code-named Operation Cast Lead by the Israelis – that there should be warnings of a new massive attack on the beleaguered people of Gaza.

The influential Israeli journalist, Ron Ren-Yishai, writes on December 29, 2010, of the likely prospect of a new major IDF attack, quoting senior Israeli military officers as saying “It’s not a question of if, but rather of when,” a view that that is shared, according to Ren-Yishai, by “government ministers, Knesset members and municipal heads in the Gaza region”.

The bloody-minded Israeli Chief of Staff, Lt. General Gabi Ashkenazi, reinforces this expectation by his recent assertion that, “as long as Gilad Shalit is still in captivity, the mission is not complete”. He adds with unconscious irony, “we have not lost our right of self-defence”.

More accurate would be the assertion, “we have not given up our right to wage aggressive war or to commit crimes against humanity”.

And what of the more than 10,000 Palestinians, including children under the age of 10, being held in Israeli prisons throughout occupied Palestine?

Red herrings

Against this background, the escalation of violence along the Gaza/Israel border should set off alarm bells around the world and at the United Nations.

Israel in recent days has been launching severe air strikes against targets within the Gaza Strip, including near the civilian-crowded refugee camp of Khan Younis, killing several Palestinians and wounding others.

Supposedly, these attacks are in retaliation for nine mortar shells that fell on open territory, causing neither damage nor injury. Israel also had been using lethal force against children from Gaza, who were collecting gravel from the buffer zone for the repair of their homes.

As usual, the Israeli security pretext lacks credibility. As if ever there was an occasion for firing warning shots in the air, it was here, especially as the border has been essentially quiet in the last couple of years, and what occasional harmless rockets or mortar shells have been fired, has taken place in defiance of the Hamas effort to prevent providing Israel with any grounds for the use of force.

Revealingly, in typical distortion, the Gaza situation is portrayed by Ashkenazi as presenting a pre-war scenario: “We will not allow a situation in which they fire rockets at our citizens and towns from ‘safe havens’ amid [their] civilians.”

With Orwellian precision, the reality is quite the reverse: Israel from its safe haven continuously attacks with an intent to kill a defenceless, entrapped Gazan civilian population.

Silence is complicity

Perhaps, worse in some respects than this Israeli war-mongering, is the stunning silence of the governments of the world, and of the United Nations.

World public opinion was briefly shocked by the spectacle of a one-sided war that marked Operation Cast Lead as a massive crime against humanity, but it has taken no notice of this recent unspeakable escalation of threats and provocations seemingly designed to set the stage for a new Israeli attack on the hapless Gazan population.

This silence in the face of the accumulating evidence that Israel plans to launch Operation Cast Lead 2 is a devastating form of criminal complicity at the highest governmental levels, especially on the part of countries that have been closely aligned with Israel, and also exhibits the moral bankruptcy of the United Nations system.

We have witnessed the carnage of ‘preemptive war’ and ‘preventive war’ in Iraq, but we have yet to explore the moral and political imperatives of ‘preemptive peace’ and ‘preventive peace.’ How long must the peoples of the world wait?

It might be well to recall the words of one anonymous Gazan that were uttered in reaction to the attacks of two years ago: “While Israeli armed forces were bombing my neighbourhood, the UN, the EU, and the Arab League and the international community remained silent in the face of atrocities. Hundreds of corpses of children and women failed to convince them to intervene.”

International liberal public opinion enthuses about the new global norm of ‘responsibility to protect,’ but not a hint that if such an idea is to have any credibility it should be applied to Gaza with a sense of urgency where the population has been living under a cruel blockade for more than three years and is now facing new grave dangers.

And even after the commission of the atrocities of 2008-09 have been authenticated over and over by the Goldstone Report, by an exhaustive report issued by the Arab League, by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, there is no expectation of Israeli accountability, and the United States effectively uses its diplomatic muscle to bury the issue, encouraging forgetfulness in collaboration with the media.

Truths

It is only civil society that has offered responses appropriate to the moral, legal, and political situation. Whether these responses can achieve their goals, only the future will tell.

The Free Gaza Movement and the Freedom Flotilla have challenged the blockade more effectively than the UN or governments, leading Israel to retreat, at least rhetorically, claiming to lift the blockade with respect to the entry of humanitarian goods and reconstruction materials.

Of course, the behavioural truth contradicts the Israeli rhetoric: sufficient supplies of basic necessities are still not being allowed to enter Gaza; the water and sewage systems are seriously crippled; there is not enough fuel available to maintain adequate electric power; and the damage from Operation Cast Lead remains, causing a desperate housing crisis (more than 100,000 units are needed just to move people from tents).

Also, most students are not allowed to leave Gaza to take advantage of foreign educational opportunities, and the population lives in a locked-in space that is constantly being threatened with violence, night and day.

This portrayal of Gaza is hardly a welcoming prospect for the year 2011. At the same time the spirit of the people living in Gaza should not be underestimated.

I have met Gazans, especially young people, who could be weighed down by the suffering their lives have brought them and their families since their birth, and yet they possess a positive sense of life and its potential, and make every use of any opportunity that comes their way, minimising their problems and expressing warmth toward more fortunate others and enthusiasm about their hopes for their future.

I have found such contact inspirational, and it strengthen my resolve and sense of responsibility: these proud people must be liberated from the oppressive circumstances that constantly imprisons, threatens, impoverishes, sickens, traumatises, maims, kills.

Until this happens, none of us should sleep too comfortably!

Richard Falk is Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has authored and edited numerous publications spanning a period of five decades, most recently editing the volume International Law and the Third World: Reshaping Justice (Routledge, 2008).

He is currently serving his third year of a six year term as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Hopes of Gaza cast in lead – Opinion – Al Jazeera English.

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IMEU: Gaza Two Years Later: The world has come to recognize our plight

Mohammed Said AlNadi, Mondoweiss, Dec 30, 2010

gaza-assault-2009.jpg

Palestinian medics in the town of Beit Lahiya carry a man wounded during an Israeli army assault on the northern Gaza Strip. (Khalil Hamra, Maan Images)

It is odd that tragedies make obscure things more noticeable. For so many years, the tiny coastal belt, the Gaza Strip, being a needle-eye spot on the world’s map, was not present in the mind of the people across the world. They had no idea about what or where Gaza was, either because they were ignorant of it or they took the “hostile-entity” image for granted. But after Israel’s pogrom in winter 2008-2009, in which more than 1400 innocent people were massacred in Gaza, needless to talk about the extremely unrestrained indulgence in destroying businesses, civilian-owned houses, schools and mosques– Gaza has gotten into the very conscience of the world.

Gaza was first brought into notice after Israel and some other accomplices imposed an ever-tightening siege, shortly after Hamas won the Palestinian election. Israel has shut down all crossings, preventing even life basics from going in or out of the Gaza Strip. As a result, life in Gaza has been deteriorating ever since.

And as the siege has been tightened, people around the world have likewise grown guilty. The necessity of having to do something has eaten away at their conscience. Ashamed or even appalled by Israeli capacity for atrocity, they have set out to act. Peoples of the world have directed their attention towards Gaza, and begun to give either morally or financially, represented in sea voyages or delegations, all in solidarity and support of the besieged people in Gaza.

And this mechanism of activism peaked after the war. The world could no longer put up with Israel’s continuing genocidal policies in Gaza, and felt an urgent need to take a firm stand against Israel.

The unintended consequences of the war on Gaza have surprisingly been the antithesis of Israel’s clear intention to obliterate Gaza; after the Gaza massacre, the ball has been out of Israel’s court, and the massacre has continued to stir global anger and dissatisfaction.

Now, the entire world is confident Israel does not know any language other than the language of violence, even against internationals trying to bring in humanitarian aid (what happened of late with the Freedom Flotilla was a substantial proof) and the growing peaceful resistance battling Israel’s overtly racist regime and land sequestration policies in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

To read the full article please visit Mondoweiss.

IMEU: Gaza Two Years Later: The world has come to recognize our plight.

Hamas urges Arabs to help rebuild Gaza

PressTV – Wed Dec 29, 2010 11:1PM

Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad
The Palestinian Resistance Movement, Hamas, has called on Arab states to help rebuild the Gaza Strip and not wait for the United States’ permission.

Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad said on Wednesday that Arab states “must not wait for an American permission” to meet their promises to rebuild Gaza which was destroyed by Israeli strikes two years ago.

On December 27, 2008, Israel launched a 22-day massive attack against the densely populated coastal enclave, leaving more than 1,400 Palestinians dead and thousands more injured.

After the attack, international donors met in Egypt and pledged $4 billion in aid for the besieged territory, but most of the money has yet not been sent to the Palestinians.

Rebuilding security posts would be a message to Israel that it cannot defeat Gaza, Hamad said at an opening ceremony of the first police station rebuilt after the Israeli attack on Wednesday.

Israel has not yet lifted a ban on shipment of construction materials like cement and gravel to Gaza, as part of its economic sanctions against Hamas. Israel laid a siege on the Gaza Strip, which is home to nearly 1.5 million Palestinians, in 2007.

During the past two years, several international groups have attempted to break the siege of Gaza by sea and land.

On May 31, 2010, the Turkish-organized Freedom Flotilla was attacked by Israeli navy commandos in international waters. Nine Turkish activists were killed in the attack.

FTP/MGH

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PressTV – Hamas urges Arabs to help rebuild Gaza.

Canadians protest Israel’s Gaza siege

PRESS TV | Tue Dec 28, 2010 7:21AM

File photo
Pro-Palestinian groups in Canada have staged a demonstration to mark the second anniversary of the Gaza war and protest Tel Aviv’s crippling siege of the coastal strip.

Scores of people gathered outside the Israeli consulate in the Canadian city of Toronto on Monday to commemorate the second anniversary of the Israeli carnage in the Gaza Strip.

On December 27, 2008, Israel launched a massive offensive against the densely populated coastal enclave, leaving more than 1,400 Palestinians dead and thousands more injured.

The protesters condemned the Israeli war crimes during the 22-day war and the killing of hundreds of children during the relentless bombardment of civilian positions and residential areas during the onslaught.

The demonstrators also called for an immediate end to the paralyzing blockade of the impoverished Gaza Strip, which is home to nearly 1.5 million Palestinians.

The Monday gathering was also meant to raise awareness of a Canadian aid boat which will set sail for the besieged enclave next spring.

During the past two years, several international groups have attempted to break the siege of Gaza by sea and by land.

On May 31, a Turkish-organized Freedom Flotilla was severely attacked by Israeli navy commandos in international waters.

The bloody takeover of the six-ship convoy left nine Turkish activists dead and injured more than 50 others onboard the civilian fleet.

While the naval closure of the Gaza Strip — tightened since 2007 — stands, the Free Gaza Movement in Canada has organized an aid boat to Gaza.

Set to sail in early 2011, the convoy has already collected USD 125,000 in donations, in the face of enormous efforts from pro-Zionist groups to block further funds for the aid mission.

MRS/HRF

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PressTV – Canadians protest Israel’s Gaza siege.

The Siege of Gaza – The Last remaining Siege in the World

Dec-27-2010 12:50printcomments

The Siege of Gaza

It is our duty to finish what the brave men and women of the Freedom Flotilla and the campaigns that preceded it. It is time to break the siege.

Siege of Gaza
A new world conscience is saying ‘enough’.

(TEL AVIV) – The three year old siege on the Gaza Strip and its 1.5 million inhabitants is a testament to the Israeli regime’s disregard of law, decency and morality.

This siege amounts to collective punishment, an action outlawed by various conventions and humanitarian laws. This is not to mention the suffering and humanitarian crisis caused by this law.

This siege has been disgracefully condoned by the “international community” and justified by the “free world” as a measure that safeguards the security of the Israeli regime.

The same position was applied to the various humanitarian aid ships that were attacked and abducted in international waters, and the aid carried by those ships confiscated.

The killing of 9 Turkish activists on the the Freedom Flotilla on 1 June brought an abrupt end to international silence regarding the siege. It is unfortunate that the world needed to see the blood of those brave men to realize the brutality of the siege and of the besieger.

Nevertheless, it is our duty to finish what the brave men and women of the Freedom Flotilla and the campaigns that preceded it. It is time to break the siege.

Special thanks to Gilad Atzmon

 

 

The Siege of Gaza – Salem-News.Com.

ei: Activism roundup: world to commemorate Gaza massacre anniversary

Report, The Electronic Intifada, 27 December 2010

Protesters in London take to the streets near Israel’s embassy on the second anniversary of the start of Israel’s assault on Gaza, 27 December. (Matthew Cassel)


Palestinians and solidarity groups in the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland have organized vigils and political awareness actions on the occasion of the second anniversary of Israel’s winter 2008-09 attacks on the Gaza Strip — during which more than 1,400 Palestinians were killed and thousands more injured.

Meanwhile, Palestinian and international solidarity protesters in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, continued to be brutalized by Israeli forces while resisting Israel’s continued occupation, land confiscation and settlement expansion policies.

Also last week activists in the US city Seattle attempted to launch a Palestine awareness campaign on city buses.

Gaza commemoration actions

US

American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) stated that it will cosponsor a rally in New York City on 27 December, the day that Israel began its three-week assault in 2008. The event kicks off a national education campaign and tour including 25 events in 14 cities across the US related to the ongoing humanitarian situation inside Gaza (“Honor Gaza by joining rally in New York City marking two years since Operation Cast Lead,” 21 December 2010).

The Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign is organizing a walking vigil on 27 December as well (“Join us December 27: Remember Gaza“).

United Kingdom

Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JFJFP) is helping to organize a protest outside of the Israeli consulate in London on 27 December (“Mark the 2nd anniversary of Cast Lead – London vigil, 27 December, 1-3pm“).

Ireland

Solidarity activists with Act for Palestine Ireland are holding a similar action outside the Israeli embassy in Dublin, also on 27 December (“Vigil for the 2nd anniversary of Operation Cast Lead“).

Israeli forces repress activists in Beit Ommar

On 23 December in the southern West Bank village of Beit Ommar, Israeli forces invaded the home of Ibrahim abu Maria, member of the National Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Ommar, a grassroots organization which combines political activism with social programs and community support. Israeli forces beat his wife, Fadwa, when she refused to let the soldiers occupy the roof of their home. The Palestine Solidarity Project (PSP) reported that Fadwa was beaten on her face and head by the soldiers as she attempted to protect her children, ages 6 and 11. “Her neighbor, Mona abu Maria, heard the home invasion and came over to assist her and her family,” PSP reported on its website (“Israeli military attacks women, children, wedding during Beit Ommar invasion,” 23 December 2010).

PSP added that an Israeli soldier threw a sound grenade which exploded beside her arm, and that over the next half hour, members of the National Committee and approximately 150 residents of the village converged on the house and demanded that the Israeli soldiers leave.

“Soldiers then fired live ammunition from inside Fadwa’s home at the converging crowds,” PSP reported. “Undeterred, the residents held their ground and the Israeli military forces retreated to the [nearby Karmi Tsur] settlement.”

PSP stated that an hour later, Israeli soldiers once again invaded the village and fired “copious amounts” of tear gas into a wedding celebration. Several residents were treated for tear gas inhalation.

“During the entire operation, no one was arrested or interrogated,” PSP reported. “Though Fadwa’s house was torn apart, there was no objective to the invasion, indicating once again that the Israeli military, in collusion with illegal Israeli settlers, are attempting to harass and intimidate a community which has engaged in nonviolent direct action against the occupation and the presence of illegal settlements on their land.”

Earlier in the week, three international solidarity activists were arrested and detained during a weekly protest against the ongoing confiscation of village land for the expansion of the illegal Karmi Tsur settlement. PSP reported that approximately 60 people took part in the demonstration on 18 December, which was accompanied by a group of Israeli drummers (“Soldiers occupy house and attack demonstrators, arresting three activists,” 18 December 2010).

“As the demonstration was starting, a group of ten Israeli soldiers occupied the house of a local family at the southern edge of the village,” PSP stated. “The terrified family of five was forced into a separate room while the soldiers used their house as a vantage point from which to observe the demonstrators. The soldiers remained in the residence for a total of three hours.”

PSP added that soldiers attacked the unarmed demonstration with sound grenades and high-velocity tear gas canisters, firing them at the heads of demonstrators, and preventing the group from reaching the settlement wall where they planned to protest.

One Italian citizen and two Israeli solidarity activists were arrested and detained by Israeli forces.

Occupied West Bank

Al-Walaja

Also on 23 December, eight Palestinian activists were arrested during a nonviolent demonstration in the village of al-Walaja, near Bethlehem along the so-called “seam zone” boundary with Israel. Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, a professor at Bethlehem University and the chairman of the Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement Between People, was amongst those arrested while attempting to “peacefully” stop Israeli bulldozers from destroying the village’s land where Israel plans to extend the wall (“Israeli troops kidnap Mazin Qumsiyeh and 7 villagers from Al-Walajah,” International Middle East Media Center, 23 December 2010).

Dr. Qumsiyeh’s wife, Jessie, reported to the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) that the protesters had managed to delay the operation of the bulldozer for thirty minutes. However, a military spokesman later informed the protesters and residents of al-Walaja that the work would resume. At that point, soldiers began arresting eight Palestinians at the scene, including Dr. Qumsiyeh.

“An Israeli soldier named Almog Kahalani was very rough with them,” Jessie Qumsiyeh told IMEMC. “He beat the two young Palestinian men, causing one [to have] stomach problem[s] … They were asked to sign on a piece of paper … But every one of them refused to sign as advised by a Palestinian lawyer who was present there. While detained there, they tried to speak to the soldiers about international law, but the soldiers were saying ‘they don’t give a f— ‘ about international law and you people and they only care about obeying orders.”

Al-Maasara

A Palestinian protester in a Santa Claus suit led a demonstration with dozens of solidarity activists on 17 December in the village of al-Maasara, near Bethlehem, to protest the ongoing construction of Israel’s wall and the confiscation of village land. Israeli soldiers attacked the demonstration with tear gas grenades and arrested one Israeli activist.

In a video posted on YouTube, the protester dressed as Santa urged people to “come witness what these criminals are doing … come see what’s happening in Palestine.” Demonstrators held a sit-in on the main road to the village, and sang songs (“Israeli Army Attacks Nonviolent Demonstrators“).

Two weeks prior, members of the South African Tripartite Alliance reported that Israeli forces attacked their delegation with tear gas and sound grenades as the group visited the village on 10 December (“South African delegation to Palestine attacked by Israeli police,” 10 December 2010).

The delegation was on a five-day fact-finding mission, and included members of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the South African Communist Party, the African National Congress and other civil society organizations, reported Johannesburg-based The Times (“SA visitors forced to flee Ramallah protest,” 11 December 2010).

Delegation participants joined a protest in al-Maasara where Palestinians protested Israel’s policies of land confiscation and occupation. Israeli forces fired rounds of tear gas and reportedly shoved and injured the South African delegates.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) stated that delegation members sustained minor injuries but that it was “just a small taste of the brutality rained down on the people of Palestine every day.”

“It strengthens our determination to campaign for an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory and for the people of Palestine to live in an independent, sovereign state,” the statement added. As an organization, COSATU has historically expressed its solidarity with Palestinian civilians and labor unions.

Bilin

In the occupied West Bank village of Bilin on 17 December, protesters demanded the release of imprisoned nonviolent activist and community leader Abdallah Abu Rahme during the weekly demonstration against Israel’s wall and the expanding settlement activity on village land. Abu Rahme has been in an Israeli jail for more than a year, even though his sentence expired last month.

During the demonstration, Israeli forces fired rounds of tear gas at Palestinian and international protesters, who carried banners and chanted slogans demanding Abu Rahme’s release.

Meanwhile, the US State Department remains unwilling to address the continued imprisonment of Abdallah Abu Rahme, even as a dozen European diplomats and EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton have insisted on his release.

After days of repeated questioning that elicited no answer, during a 15 December State Department press briefing, Associated Press reporter Matt Lee continued to question US Undersecretary of State PJ Crowley on the issue of the US government’s position on the ongoing imprisonment of Abu Rahme.

Lee inquired if the United States “feels no compunction to speak out about this, as other members of the Quartet have done.” When Crowley repeated that the State Department only continues to monitor the situation closely, Lee responded, “What does that mean ‘to monitor closely?’ You monitor the weather in Beijing closely. Why is it beneath the United States to come out and say something about this person who is a practitioner of nonviolence?”

The Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC) posted a video of Lee’s questioning of the State Department (“US Gov’t Responds to Questions About Imprisoned Palestinian Protest Organizer Abu Rahmah“).

In related news, on 12 December, Adeeb Abu Rahme, Abdallah’s brother, was released from Israel’s Ofer military prison after 18 months of detention. Adeeb Abu Rahme, a taxi driver and father of nine children, was arrested in Bilin on 10 July 2009 while taking part in a weekly demonstration. The PSCC noted that the Israeli military accused him of participation in “violent” demonstrations against the wall presence in a “closed military zone” and disturbing “public order (“Bilin’s Adeeb abu Rahmah released from military jail after 18 months,” 12 December 2010).

Upon his release, Bilin’s residents and international supporters broke out in celebration. The PSCC added that banners were hung outside of homes demanding a release of all the prisoners of the popular struggle.

Nabi Saleh

An Israeli soldier shot twelve rubber-coated steel bullets into the chest of a Palestinian youth in Nabi Saleh on 24 December during a weekly protest against the wall, according to the Palestine News Network (PNN) (“Santa Clause brings rubber bullets, tear gas and arrests,” 25 December 2010). The boy was treated at a local hospital and released the day after. PNN added that two others, a 60-year-old resident of Nabi Saleh and his wife, were hit in the head by rubber bullets inside their home, when Israeli forces shot through their window. Three Israeli solidarity activists and one Palestinian were arrested.

Joseph Dana, a Jerusalem-based journalist and media coordinator with the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, was among those arrested. He was released, but the Palestinian, identified by PNN as Allae Tamimi, 20, was sent to jail for five months.

A week ago, Dana reported that a protester was hit in the back of his head with a tear gas projectile fired by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank village of Nabi Saleh during a protest on 17 December.

After the Israeli military sealed off the entrances to the village and began firing tear gas, reported Dana, “[t]he demonstration then spread to various corners of the village as pockets of youth responded to the army’s violent incursion by throwing stones. In the midst of one of these clashes, soldiers fired directly at demonstrators, basically turning the tear gas canisters into large bullets (“Demonstrator suffers head injury after being hit directly by tear gas projectile in Nabi Saleh,” 17 December 2010).”

The man who was directly hit by the tear gas projectile required immediate medical attention. Dana added that as medics attended to him, “the army covered the area with repeated rounds of tear gas, leading to a scene of absolute confusion.”

The villagers of Nabi Saleh have been resisting land confiscation for the encroaching settlement of Halamish since December 2009, after Jewish settlers and the Israeli military forcefully confiscated the village’s natural spring.

Nilin

Dana also reported that Palestinian protesters in the occupied West Bank village of Nilin scaled a portion of Israel’s wall during a demonstration in protest of the occupation and confiscation of village lands. Protesters were attacked by tear gas fired by soldiers who told the group that the area was designated a “closed military zone.” In response, protesters asserted that the land was a “closed Nilin area … and informed the soldiers that the right to protest was theirs,” according to Dana (“Demonstrators scale the separation wall in Ni’ilin,” 17 December 2010).

As soldiers invaded the area, demonstrators climbed the eight-meter-high wall and “flashed peace signs to the soldiers on the other side,” Dana added. Soldiers then fired tear gas projectiles directly at the protesters. Several individuals were treated for tear gas inhalation.

Silwan

Protesters in Silwan, 24 December. (Oren Ziv/ActiveStills)


In the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, Israeli troops sealed off the main road immediately after Friday prayers on 17 December and soldiers were stationed throughout the area. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center (SILWANIC) reported that a notably higher number of settler guard vehicles were parked near the Israeli settlement colonies inside the neighborhood, and that Israeli security firms had installed several cameras throughout the area (“Troops amassing in Silwan as Friday prayers draw to a close,” 17 December 2010).

The night before, SILWANIC reported that Israeli soldiers arrested an 11-year-old Palestinian child in Silwan as he returned from a school field trip. “Eyewitnesses report that 11-year-old Khadr Jamjoum received blows to the head as he was seized by Israeli soldiers,” SILWANIC stated. “Troops fired gas and sound bombs at the bus returning students to their homes after a school excursion, also firing gas grenades indiscriminately in the street and at shops, resulting in minor clashes between residents and Israeli troops and settler guards. Eyewitnesses also state that soldiers fired live ammunition during the clashes (“11 year old arrested by Israeli troops, clashes in Bir Ayyub,” 17 December 2010).

As The Electronic Intifada has reported, Israeli forces regularly kidnap, arrest, beat, interrogate and traumatize young Palestinian residents of Silwan in what residents say is an ongoing effort to force Palestinians out of the area.

Meanwhile, Adnan Gheith, a member of the al-Bustan Neighborhood Committee and a dignitary of Silwan, was served with a letter from the Israeli Home Front commander informing him that he will be expelled from Jerusalem for no less than four months, according to the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (“Help Silwan resident Adnan Gheith stay in Jerusalem,” 23 December 2010).

The expulsion order is reportedly based on an administrative decree, without charges or evidence, by power of the British mandate-era Emergency Defense Orders decreed before the State of Israel was established. The PSCC said that this is intended to “curb Gheith’s political activity, since the [Israeli] security apparatus considers him to be a central instigator of unrest in Silwan.”

The PSCC stated that the neighborhood committee in Silwan was formed to oppose plans for massive house demolitions as the Jewish settlement project in the area expands, and that Gheith’s impending expulsion on the grounds of his community organizing constitutes “an experimental exercise of power on part of the Israeli police, the Shin Bet [Israel’s internal intelligence agency] and the Israeli army.”

Bethlehem

British photojournalist William Parry, author of the book Against the Wall: The Art of Resistance in Palestine, worked with two dozen Palestinian children from the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem who used stencils to spray-paint “Merry Christmas from the Bethlehem ghetto” on Israel’s wall that runs adjacent to the camp (“Deck London’s halls with Bethlehem’s calls,” PULSE Media 20 December 2010).

“[Photographic] images of the children and their message — along with powerful images of checkpoints and life under occupation — will temporarily ‘hijack’ prominent wall spaces in central London throughout the week leading up to Christmas, with the help of projection artist Beverley Carpenter,” PULSE reported.

“Photos of these ‘hijacked’ spaces, of bringing the reality of Bethlehem to London’s walls, will then be circulated via the web around the world to amplify the message,” PULSE added.

Parry said that the idea of this art-based initiative is to provide “a stark political backdrop to the frantic Christmas shopping rush, to remind Britain and the West that Israel’s illegal occupation and separation wall are strangling Bethlehem — and Palestine — the birthplace of Christ and Christmas.”

“The children who painted the message on the wall are third- and fourth-generation refugees, at risk of being made refugees again because of the wall’s devastating impact,” Parry added. “We are complicit in suspending their rights to justice and freedom through our governments’ biased support of Israel.”

Tulkarem

Ma’an News Agency reported that Palestinian workers from Tulkarem district in the northern West Bank went on strike on 19 December to protest violence and harassment by private Israeli security guards who are stationed at a local checkpoint (“Workers on strike protesting humiliation at checkpoint,” 19 December 2010).

The workers, who hold jobs in Israel and inside Israeli settlements, reported to Ma’an that employees of the Israeli company stationed at the checkpoint “deliberately humiliate” workers as they cross. Ma’an reported that approximately 2,000 Palestinian workers participated in the strike.

Tel Aviv

Jonathan Pollak at court in Tel Aviv, 27 December. (Oren Ziv/ActiveStills)


On Monday morning, 27 December, Yonatan Pollack, an activist with the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, was sentenced to three months in prison by an Israeli court for his participation in a bicycle-riding protest through the streets of Tel Aviv during Israel’s 2008/09 assault on Gaza.

The PSCC reported that the Tel Aviv Magistrates court judge convicted Pollack of “illegal assembly” and ruled that he will go to jail on 11 January 2011. “The conviction activates an older three-month suspended sentence, imposed on Pollack in a previous trial for protesting the construction of [Israel’s wall in the West Bank] (“PSCC media coordinator sentenced to 3 months in prison,” 27 December 2010),” PSCC stated.

Pollack’s lawyer, Gaby Lasky, argued that Pollack was “singled out” of the protest by Israeli police who recognized him from previous demonstrations, and that the entire protest itself was singled out because of its political alignment.

In a statement to the court, Pollack said that he “will go to prison wholeheartedly and with my head held high.”

He added, “[i]t will be the justice system itself, I believe, that ought to lower its eyes in the face of the suffering inflicted on Gaza’s inhabitants, just like it lowers its eyes and averts its vision each and every day when faced with the realities of the occupation.”

Seattle, United States

Finally, in Seattle, Washington, solidarity activists with the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign bought advertising space on 12 city buses that read “Israeli War Crimes: Your tax dollars at work.”

The ads were slated to go up on 27 December, but King County Executive Dow Constantine officially rejected the plan, and stated that he has subsequently suspended all noncommercial advertising on Metro Buses, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (“After Israel flap, Constantine bans certain bus ads,” 23 December 2010). Constantine’s decision followed an aggressive campaign by Zionist groups such as the Jewish Federation, StandWithUs, American Jewish Committee, and the Anti-Defamation League who claimed that the ads were “anti-semitic.” Additionally, the anti-Muslim organization American Freedom Defense Initiative had planned to launch an ad campaign in response, with signs calling for stopping “the funding of Islamic anti-semitism,” and another one that would have read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man: Support Israel, Defeat Islamic Jihad.”

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Palestine : Diaries: Live from Palestine: Ameer Makhoul’s perpetual trial (22 December 2010)
Palestine : Human Rights: Israeli warplanes attack Gaza refuge (22 December 2010)
Palestine : Human Rights: Israeli air strikes kill five Palestinians in Gaza (22 December 2010)
Palestine : Opinion/Editorial: Standing together against US government witch hunt (22 December 2010)
Palestine : Business & Economy: Israeli arms firm to benefit from EU-funded research (21 December 2010)

ei: Activism roundup: world to commemorate Gaza massacre anniversary.

An Open Letter from Gaza: Two Years after the Massacre, a Demand for Justice

 

 

UK, December 26, (Pal Telegraph) – We the Palestinians of the Besieged Gaza Strip, on this day, two years on from Israel’s genocidal attack on our families, our houses, our roads, our factories and our schools, are saying enough inaction, enough discussion, enough waiting – the time is now to hold Israel to account for its ongoing crimes against us. On the 27th of December 2008, Israel began an indiscriminate bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

The assault lasted 22 days, killing 1,417 Palestinians, 352 of them children, according to main-stream Human Rights Organizations. For a staggering 528 hours, Israeli Occupation Forces let loose their US-supplied F15s, F16s, Merkava Tanks, internationally prohibited White Phosphorous, and bombed and invaded the small Palestinian coastal enclave that is home to 1.5 million, of whom 800,000 are children and over 80 percent UN registered refugees. Around 5,300 remain permanently wounded.

This devastation exceeded in savagery all previous massacres suffered in Gaza, such as the 21children killed in Jabalia in March 2008 or the 19 civilians killed sheltering in their house in the Beit Hanoun Massacre of 2006. The carnage even exceeded the attacks in November 1956 in which Israeli troops indiscriminately rounded up and killed 275 Palestinians in the Southern town of Khan Younis and 111 more in Rafah.

Since the Gaza massacre of 2009, world citizens have undertaken the responsibility to pressure Israel to comply with international law, through a proven strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions. As in the global BDS movement that was so effective in ending the apartheid South African regime, we urge people of conscience to join the BDS call made by over 170 Palestinian organizations in 2005. As in South Africa the imbalance of power and representation in this struggle can be counterbalanced by a powerful international solidarity movement with BDS at the forefront, holding Israeli policy makers to account, something the international governing community has repeatedly failed to do. Similarly, creative civilian efforts such as the Free Gaza boats that broke the siege five times, the Gaza Freedom March, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and the many land convoys must never stop their siege-breaking, highlighting the inhumanity of keeping 1.5 million Gazans in an open-air prison.

Two years have now passed since Israel’s gravest of genocidal acts that should have left people in no doubt of the brutal extent of Israel’s plans for the Palestinians. The murderous navy assault on international activists aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in the Mediterranean Sea magnified to the world the cheapness Israel has assigned to Palestinian llife for so long. The world knows now, yet two years on nothing has changed for Palestinians.
The Goldstone Report came and went: despite its listing count after count of international law contraventions, Israeli “war crimes” and “possible crimes against humanity,” the European Union, the United Nations, the Red Cross, and all major Human Rights Organizations have called for an end to the illegal, medieval siege, it carries on unabated. On 11th November 2010 UNRWA head John Ging said, “There’s been no material change for the people on the ground here in terms of their status, the aid dependency, the absence of any recovery or reconstruction, no economy…The easing, as it was described, has been nothing more than a political easing of the pressure on Israel and Egypt.”

On the 2nd of December, 22 international organizations including Amnesty, Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid, and Medical Aid for Palestinians produced the report ‘Dashed Hopes, Continuation of the Gaza Blockade’ calling for international action to force Israel to unconditionally lift the blockade, saying the Palestinians of Gaza under Israeli siege continue to live in the same devastating conditions. Only a week ago Human Rights Watch published a comprehensive report “Separate and Unequal” that denounced Israeli policies as Apartheid, echoing similar sentiments by South African anti-apartheid activists.

We Palestinians of Gaza want to live at liberty to meet Palestinian friends or family from Tulkarem, Jerusalem or Nazareth; we want to have the right to travel and move freely. We want to live without fear of another bombing campaign that leaves hundreds of our children dead and many more injured or with cancers from the contamination of Israel’s white phosphorous and chemical warfare. We want to live without the humiliations at Israeli checkpoints or the indignity of not providing for our families because of the unemployment brought about by the economic control and the illegal siege. We are calling for an end to the racism that underpins all this oppression.

We ask: when will the world’s countries act according to the basic premise that people should be treated equally, regardless of their origin, ethnicity or colour – is it so far-fetched that a Palestinian child deserves the same human rights as any other human being? Will you be able to look back and say you stood on the right side of history or will you have sided with the oppressor?

We, therefore, call on the international community to take up its responsibility to protect the Palestinian people from Israel’s heinous aggression, immediately ending the siege with full compensation for the destruction of life and infrastructure visited upon us by this explicit policy of collective punishment. Nothing whatsoever justifies the intentional policies of savagery, including the severing of access to the water and electricity supply to 1.5 million people. The international conspiracy of silence towards the genocidal war taking place against the more than 1.5 million civilians in Gaza indicates complicity in these war crimes.

We also call upon all Palestine solidarity groups and all international civil society organizations to demand:

– An end to the siege that has been imposed on the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a result of their exercise of democratic choice.
– The protection of civilian lives and property, as stipulated in International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law such as The Fourth Geneva Convention.
– The immediate release of all political prisoners.
– That Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip be immediately provided with financial and material support to cope with the immense hardship that they are experiencing
– An end to occupation, Apartheid and other war crimes.
– Immediate reparations and compensation for all destruction carried out by the Israeli Occupation Forces in the Gaza Strip.

Boycott Divest and Sanction, join the many International Trade Unions, Universities, Supermarkets and artists and writers who refuse to entertain Apartheid Israel. Speak out for Palestine, for Gaza, and crucially ACT. The time is now.

Besieged Gaza, Palestine

27.December.2010

List of signatories:

General Union for Public Services Workers

General Union for Health Services Workers

University Teachers’ Association

Palestinian Congregation for Lawyers

General Union for Petrochemical and Gas Workers

General Union for Agricultural Workers

Union of Women’s Work Committees

Union of Synergies—Women Unit

The One Democratic State Group

Arab Cultural Forum

Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel

Association of Al-Quds Bank for Culture and Info

Palestine Sailing Federation

Palestinian Association for Fishing and Maritime

Palestinian Network of Non-Governmental Organizations

Palestinian Women Committees

Progressive Students’ Union

Medical Relief Society

The General Society for Rehabilitation

General Union of Palestinian Women

Afaq Jadeeda Cultural Centre for Women and Children

Deir Al-Balah Cultural Centre for Women and Children

Maghazi Cultural Centre for Children

Al-Sahel Centre for Women and Youth

Ghassan Kanfani Kindergartens

Rachel Corrie Centre, Rafah

Rafah Olympia City Sisters

Al Awda Centre, Rafah

Al Awda Hospital, Jabaliya Camp

Ajyal Association, Gaza

General Union of Palestinian Syndicates

Al Karmel Centre, Nuseirat

Local Initiative, Beit Hanoun

Union of Health Work Committees

Red Crescent Society Gaza Strip

Beit Lahiya Cultural Centre

Al Awda Centre, Rafah

 

Photo: Sameh Habeeb

An Open Letter from Gaza: Two Years after the Massacre, a Demand for Justice.

Emir of Qatar calls for Arab summit on Gaza

 

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani has addressed the Arab world, calling on its leaders to hold an emergency summit and take a stance to stop the aggression on Gaza.

He said it is useless seeking the UN’s help unless Arab leaders listen to their people, who have been taking to the streets for over a week.

See also audio slide-show of pro-Gaza rally in a stadium in Qatar:
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/mid…

YouTube – Emir of Qatar calls for Arab summit on Gaza – 04 Jan 0.

Protests against Gaza war held around the world

YouTube – Protests against Gaza war held around the world – 09 Jan 09.