NAZARETH,(PIC)– The Israeli Foreign Ministry announced that no one in Egypt is willing to rent offices to house the embassy since its staff were forced to evacuate in September 2011 following the attack on the embassy’s building in Cairo’s Giza District.
The Ministry said in a statement, on Wednesday, that the Israeli Embassy in Cairo continues to be homeless, “those who agree [to rent space to the embassy] are asking for an amount of money with which you can rent an entire neighborhood,” the Foreign Ministry said.
The Egyptian security expert further said that “the current crisis derives from the fact that every time the Israeli embassy finds a new embassy building, the owners’ then refuse to sell or rent the property after finding out who the buyer is,” especially with the popular escalating calls to close the Israeli embassy forever and to cancel the Egyptian-Israeli Camp David accord.
Other sources at the Israeli Foreign Ministry have said that “the search for a new embassy facility is ongoing and they have yet to find a place that meets the financial and security criteria.”
In the same context, the Ministry confirmed that the Israeli Ambassador Yaakov Amitai still works in Cairo in a hotel room, but leaves Egypt on weekends.
In September of last year, following the “accidental” killing of six Egyptian police officers near the border by Israeli forces, a mob of angry Egyptian protesters attacked the embassy trapping six security guards inside and prompting the emergency evacuation of all but one member of Israel’s diplomatic staff in the country.
(www.palestine-info.co.uk / 20.06.2012)
On June 14, fifty international organizations marked the fifth anniversary of the Israeli siege on Gaza by calling on Israel to end its blockade of the small, impoverished strip.
For over five years in Gaza, more than 1.6 million people have been under blockade in violation of international law. More than half of these people are children. We the undersigned say with one voice: ‘end the blockade now,’” read the joint statement.
The signatories included such reputable organizations as Save the Children, Oxfam, the World Health Organization, Amnesty International and Médecins du Monde. The wording of the statement mirrored that of a plethora of recent appeals. The only notable difference is that during the siege the Gaza population has grown from 1.5 to over 1.6 million.
The statement followed a strong censure of the siege by the UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos. Amos has decried what she described as “collective punishment of all those living in Gaza and…a denial of basic human rights in contravention of international law.” She demanded that the “blockade be lifted immediately, so that essential services and infrastructure can be maintained.”
Condemning Israeli rights violations in Palestine by leading human rights and humanitarian organizations is nothing new. Unfortunately, such calls are rarely followed by any organized political campaigns. Western governments are least concerned by the ongoing drama. Historically they have employed a selective policy of outrage whenever human rights are violated. Worse, in many cases Western powers have taken an active role in allowing continued Israeli subjugation of Palestinians.
The call of human rights organizations would have been more meaningful if it were directed at the Western powers supporting Israel’s actions. Promoting the idea that the Gaza siege is an entirely Israeli initiative is a ruse that needs to be exposed. Equally deceptive is any discussion of the lethal Israeli war on Gaza (Cast Lead 2008-09) without due reference to the strong political and military backing of US and other Western powers. Without such support, Israel could never have managed to sustain its costly war adventures or construct its so-called Separation Wall or illegal settlements.
Palestinians are growing frustrated by the fact that while every politically-induced humanitarian crisis in the region is classified as such, the Gaza siege is confined to a discussion of whether or not food items should be allowed entry into the strip. Palestinians are not a collective experiment, despite any Israeli assertion to the contrary. This is actually a matter of policy, as articulated by Israeli politician Dov Weissglass, a former close associate of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger,” he once proclaimed. That collective ‘diet’ was part of a larger policy that accompanied the Israeli deployment – termed ‘disengagement’ – from Gaza. “The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that’s necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.”
The statements above were quoted in Israeli daily Haaretz (August 10, 2004). They made it clear that the plans to place Gaza under siege came years before Hamas’ victory in the Palestinian legislative council elections and its subsequent violent clashes with rival Fatah. It also long preceded the capture of Israeli solider Gilad Shalit.
However, no official Israeli defense of the siege is ever issued without reference to Hamas and its control of the strip. Mark Regev, spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minsiter Benjamin Netanyahu, claimed: “All cargo going into Gaza must be checked because Gaza is controlled by Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization.”
To avoid controversy, international organizations criticize the Israeli siege on Gaza as if it were an apolitical event. The Israeli response is the same convenient and redundant one – juxtaposing Hamas’ terrorism with Israel’s supposedly viable democracy. US state department spokespersons often second Israeli claims, and discussions end here.
A sad irony is that on the day international were condemning the siege on Gaza, US president Barack Obama awarded Shimon Peres the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Praised by Obama for his “indomitable spirit”, Peres has foreseen and defended Israeli illegal occupation, massacres and ill treatment of Palestinians throughout his various posts in the Israeli government, including as prime minister and president.
The real risk is that the Gaza siege is becoming part of a larger status quo imposed and defended by Israel and its benefactors. Also forgotten is the fact that prior to the siege, Gaza was an Israeli occupied territory, along with the occupied West Bank and the illegally annexed East Jerusalem. Thus it makes little sense that the Economist would entitle its article commemorating the siege as: “The Gaza Strip: Will normality ever return?” (June 16).
Instead of discussing the illegal Israeli siege as a point of departure for its argument, the magazine sought to highlight Hamas’ ability and relative success at withstanding “five years of punishing siege, bombardment and war.” Once again, Palestinians are used in a collective experiment of war and siege. “But having built its local empire, Hamas is uncertain where to go next,” claimed the article.
Such coverage is typical, since the Israeli war and siege is promoted in mainstream media as a fact of life and undeserving of condemnation or censure. If an analysis is ever relevant, it focuses on Gazan ‘terrorists’’ ability to circumvent the pressure and sustain their ‘local empire.’
Five years into the Gaza siege, Israel has failed to bend to the will of the Palestinians, or to obtain political concessions in exchange for food or lifesaving medicine. But it has succeeded in upgrading the intensity of its wars and perpetual sieges on Palestinians – somehow normalizing such violent and inhumane realities, which are carefully criticized by some and wholeheartedly accepted or defended by others.
(dissidentvoice.org / 20.06.2012)
Dutch politicians and other prominent citizens have participated in a video protesting against the ongoing Israeli practice of administrative detention of Palestinian civilians. In this short film by Dutch filmmaker Abdelkarim El-Fassi, former prime minister Dries van Agt and members of Dutch Parliament Harry van Bommel of the Socialist Party and Tofik Dibi of the Green Left, have expressed their dismay over this issue. They voiced serious concerns about the treatment of Mahmoud Al Sarsak, who recently became the longest hunger striker in history by refusing food for 93 days. He forced a deal on June 18th for his release from Israeli prison on July 10th, in exchange for ending his hunger strike.
Even though 25-year old Mahmoud Al Sarsak, university student and member of the Palestinian National Football team, has ended his hunger strike, his impressive protest through the refusal of food has played an important role in exposing the practice of detention of Palestinian civilians without proper trial or charges. Thousands of Palestinian political prisoners this year have waged hunger strikes against their ordeal of unwarranted imprisonment, some of them making headlines worldwide, most notably Khader Adnan and Hana el Shalabi.
Despite their actions having drawn the attention of media and governments all over the world, no effective action has been taken at a political level to address and end the wanton practice by the Israeli regime of detaining Palestinian civilians arbitrarily, often without official charges or due process.
The fact that Mahmoud Al Sarsak has been able to force a deal for his release, has not affected filmmaker El-Fassi’s decision to publish his video. ‘The story of Mahmoud Al Sarsak illustrates the situation of so many other Palestinians, who are sometimes being detained for years in a row without a proper trial. No human being should need to go on such a long hunger strike to force a deal for his or her release, especially if the incarceration itself is already unjustified. I am relieved that Sarsak achieved this release deal, but this does not exempt Israel from well-founded criticism over an ongoing inhumane practice.’
Some Palestinian prisoners are still on hunger strike, like Akram Rikhawi, who is entering his 68th day, and Samer Al Barq, who renewed his hunger strike on May 21st after already having participated in the mass hunger strike by prisoners from April 17th until May 14th.
In the video, people are seen wearing an orange t-shirt in the style of the Dutch national soccer team, with the number 90 – referring to the period of the hungerstrike – and Mahmoud Al Sarsak’s name written on the back of it. Sarsak was on his way to play in a football match in Balata refugee camp in the West Bank, when he was arrested at Erez checkpoint. His detention was extended every six months.
On the date of his release, Sarsak will have completed an almost full three years of imprisonment under Israel’s “Unlawful Combatants Law,” which allows for Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to be detained for an unlimited amount of time without charge or trial. This law can be seen as an even stricter version of the one that provides for the administrative detention of Palestinians from the West Bank, offering even less legal protection for the detainees.
According to International Law, the denial of a fair trial constitutes a ‘grave breach’ of the Fourth Geneva Convention, making it one of the most serious forms of war crimes. It also violates Articles 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In a September 2008 resolution, the European Union called upon Israel to end the use of ‘administrative detention orders’. It has become obvious that the state of Israel is systematically ignoring these calls, and that stronger words and actions are needed to force its compliance with International Law.
The video will be released on YouTube and www.sarsak90.org, and is expected to draw attention due to the participation of high-profile politicians and its soccer-themed approach, with the ongoing European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.
(www.sarsak90.org/ / 20.06.2012)
AIC 17 June — Israeli authorities distributed demolition orders on Tuesday to Palestinian residents of Susiya, in the South Hebron Hills. According to the orders, 50 residential structures, 8 fences for herds, a solar power system, a kindergarten and a health clinic will be demolished to protect “the security of Israeli settlers.”
(mondoweiss.net / 20.06.2012)
“The (election) committee has decided to continue to examine the appeals, which involves looking at records and logs related to the electoral process, and this will necessitate more time before announcing the final results,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.
Earlier, Committee Secretary-General Hatem Bagato told Reuters he could not say when the results would be announced.
“We are at the stage of listening to the representatives,” he said.
“The committee will meet afterwards to decide on whether to accept the appeals or not. After that, there will be a time set to announce the final result,” he added, speaking by phone.
On Tuesday, a U.S. election monitoring group said it was unable to say if Egypt’s presidential election was free and fair as it had not been given sufficient access, accusing the military leadership of hampering a transition to democracy.
Beyond the election itself, the group – the Carter Center – said a court’s decision to dissolve the Islamist-dominated parliament and a decree from the ruling military council limiting the future president’s powers increased the risk that Egypt was not becoming the democracy that many had hoped for.
Omar Salama, a legal advisor and member of the election committee’s secretariat, said Morsy had filed over 150 complaints against his rival Shafik. Al Ahram newspaper said on its website that Shafik had submitted 221 complaints about the results.
No official figures have been announced, but candidates had representatives at polling stations and were able to make their own tallies.
“We must give both sides all the time they need to ensure that the process is fair and prevent any claims later on that not enough time was given to both sides,” Bagato explained.
If Mursi wins
Should Mursi win, it will be a real test for the Brotherhood’s ability to deal with problems on the ground.
The Brotherhood appeared set on a confrontation path with the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which issued a new constitutional declaration granting itself sweeping powers.
The new dynamics will mean that “SCAF will command the national security of Egypt and leave domestic issues to the president. Any problems and the blame will be shifted to the elected representative,” Joshua Stacher, a political analyst and Egypt expert at Kent State University, told AFP.
The SCAF’s document said it would retake legislative powers from the Islamist-dominated parliament after the country’s constitutional court ordered, last week, the body dissolved.
And it grants the military council veto power over the drafting of a permanent constitution, angering activists who denounced the declaration and an earlier order giving the army power to arrest civilians, as a “coup.”
The Brotherhood insists the parliament retains legislative power and has pledged to counter the SCAF decisions with “popular activities.”
On Tuesday night, the Brotherhood joined a mass demonstration in Cairo’s Tahrir square, which attracted over 15,000 protesters, some celebrating Morsi’s win as much as denouncing the military move.
(english.alarabiya.net / 20.06.2012)
The aircraft carried out several strikes, the mayor of Mahfed town on the outskirts of Abyan and Shabwa provinces, Yaslam al-Anburi, told AFP by telephone. “There were 30 deaths in Qaeda ranks for sure.”
Meanwhile, Yemen’s security forces foiled a militant plot to attack embassies in Sana’a, state news agency SABA said on Wednesday, just days after the army forced Qaeda out of bastions in the south.
“Security forces have managed to foil a terror plot targeting foreign embassies in the capital,” SABA said, citing a top security official.
The official said “three suspects armed with weapons, explosives and maps showing the location of foreign embassies” were detained.
He said the residences of “military commanders and other important people” were also marked on the maps.
Fight against al-Qaeda
The report comes two days after the death of Salem Ali Qoton, the general who spearheaded a month-long offensive against Qaeda in Yemen’s Abyan and Shabwa provinces in the south.
The offensive, launched on May 12, ended more than a year of Qaeda’s control of a string of towns and villages in the troubled south and east.
The militants are believed to have fled to the lawless mountainous regions of the eastern Hadramawt province.
Meanwhile, in the southern province of Bayda, security forces killed local al-Qaeda leader Salah al-Jawhari and two other “suicide bombers who were preparing to target military and security commanders in Bayda,” SABA on Wednesday cited the same official as saying.
Jawhari was “in charge of Qaeda suicide cells in both Sana’a and Bayda,” the official said.
However, residents of the province’s al-Yafea district gave a different version of events, saying a drone had fired missiles at al-Jawhari’s vehicle – indicating it was a U.S. attack.
The United States has escalated its use of drones to kill suspected al-Qaeda militants in the impoverished country.
Security forces also arrested Majed al-Qulaisi, “a member of the (Qaeda) cell that planned” the deadly suicide attack that killed more than 100 troops at a military parade rehearsal in Sana’a last month, he said.
A Tunisian, “one of Qaeda’s most dangerous foreign nationals in Yemen,” Nizar Abdel Rahman, was also arrested on Wednesday, the official said.
After taking office in February, President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi pledged to destroy al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the network’s local branch, which is considered by Washington as the group’s most active and deadly.
Three soldiers killed
Fighting against Qaeda continued until early Wednesday and it took place about 15 kilometers (10 miles) from Azan in Shabwa province, officials said. The army seized the town earlier this week and militants fled to mountainous areas. Three soldiers were killed and one was wounded.
(english.alarabiya.net / 20.06.2012)
The Quakers and Christian Aid say move would promote peace; Council of Christians and Jews condemns call.
Christian Aid and the Quakers are set to tell the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Commons on Tuesday that the government should implement a total ban of settlement produce by introducing legislation.
The call has been strongly condemned by the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ), a London-based interfaith charity espousing constructive dialogue between Jews and Christians, who are urging MPs not to support the ban.
“The drive of many Christian bodies to press for boycotts is understandable and probably borne out of its frustration with the challenges that the Israeli settlements present,” said CCJ CEO Rev. David Gifford.
“The CCJ questions whether a boycott will achieve much more than for the few who support it to feel better. The CCJ still opposes boycotts and considers continued diplomatic engagement and negotiation as the better response,” he added.
Christian Aid’s advocacy officer for Israel and the Palestinian territory, William Bell, said that the settlements are illegal under international law, a major cause of poverty among Palestinians and an obstacle to peace.
“They will continue to expand and develop unless action is taken that backs the routine statements of condemnation from the international community.
Trade perpetuates the settlements by making them economically viable,” he said.
Bell said that it is the role of governments to protect theconsumer from purchasing goods from an illegal source, so the group is calling on the government to impose a ban.
The Quakers said that they see it as a non-violent action to support efforts to build peace in the region.
“I have witnessed the damaging impact of the settlements.
The problem goes beyond the obvious effects on Palestinian livelihoods and damages prospects for peace,” said Marisa Johnson, of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) that is managed by the Quakers.
Jerusalem-based research organization NGO Monitor stated that EAPPI harbors an anti- Israel stance, in that it supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel as well as the right of return.
Bell said he does not support a total boycott on trade with Israel but claimed that banning settlement products is justified because “settlements are illegal and have a negative impact on the Palestinian economic development.”
“Although informed consumer choice can send a powerful message, on its own it cannot adequately tackle the problem,” Bell added.
According to NGO Monitor, Christian Aid assumes “a highly biased and politicized approach” to the conflict.
“Its publications systematically ignore Palestinian responsibility in the conflict and minimizes Israel’s right to self-defense. Its partner organizations include some of the most radical NGOs operating in the region,” the research group said.
Former Liberal Democrat and anti-Israel campaigner Jenny Tonge is a former Christian Aid trustee.
Quaker meeting houses in the UK are regularly used by groups who question Israel’s right to exist and support boycott action against Israel. In 2007, the Quakers joined a coalition of anti-Israel groups to mark the “40th anniversary of Israel’s military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, including east Jerusalem.”
GAZA CITY: The military wing of Hamas said late on Wednesday it had agreed to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Israel, after three days of bloodshed in and around Gaza.
“In response to the Egyptian efforts to try and stop the aggression on our people, we at Al-Qassam Brigades and all resistance factions declare our commitment to stop this round of confrontation, as long as (Israel) commits to stopping its crimes,” said a statement from Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.
The statement comes after three days of bloodshed in and around Gaza, in which eight Palestinians were killed while militants have fired scores of rockets at the Jewish state, one of which slammed into a border police outpost, wounding four.
The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades statement noted they had fired 96 rockets and nine mortars at the Jewish state during the recent wave of violence, in a rare show of force from the group that had been observing a de facto truce on rocket attacks.
“Our confrontation with the enemy in this round was at the minimal level of fire and responses, this is a message that the (Israeli) leaders should understand very well,” Al-Qassam added in the statement.
(www.channelnewsasia.com / 20.06.2012)