STORY OF PRISONER LENA AL-JARBONI

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Currently there are 17 Palestinian women political prisoners in Israeli prisons. The longest serving Palestinian women prisoner is Lena Al-Jarboni who has endured 11 years in HaSharon Prison.
I want to dedicate this blog to her and her spiritual strength.
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Lena was born in 1974 .  She could not complete her studies due to financial difficulty and started working  to help her family. In 2002 she was arrested by Israeli security and after 30 days of severe torture charged with “collaborating with the enemy” because she has an Israeli citizenship. They sentenced her to 17 years in HaSharon women’s prison.

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At HaSharon prison Palestinian women prisoners have to endure beatings, insults, threats, sexually explicit harassment, sexual violence, and humiliation by  Israeli guards. Often they are forced to undergo degrading and intrusive body searches during the middle of the night as a punitive measure. Women have been beaten and left tied to their bed for more than a day and not allowed to go to the toilet as punishment for spilling water. The cells at HaSharon prison are overcrowded, dirty and infected with rats and cockroaches. There is a total absence of basic hygiene, women have even been denied sanitary pads when menstruating.
The heat is unbearable and the windows are closed and covered so that hardly any air or daylight can enter. The food often contains insects and worms and sometimes there is not enough of it for all the women.

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This scenario resembles more a medieval dungeon rather than a modern rehabilitating prison. Unfortunately regardless the infinite International agreements and conventions, Israel keeps violating basic human rights with impunity.

Despite the inhuman condition at  HaSharon prison,  Lena became the spokeswoman for the other prisoners and converted the squalid rat infested prison cells into an area for prayer and education. This is another example of the Palestinian creativity and human resistance to the brutality of the Israeli oppressors that our civilised world should celebrate.
Unfortunately due to medical negligence Lena can no longer walk and suffers from extreme pain in her stomach and constant migraines. The prison refused to transfer her to hospital for an essential cholecystectomy operation in time. It was only when all the women prisoners threatened to go on hunger strike that they finally allowed the operation. She has never recovered and her condition is deteriorating. She has 6 more years left of her sentence; in her condition it is very unlikely she can survive that.

These are facts. We urge the world to reflect upon them and by using the rational ability to draw ‘human’ conclusions.

(Source / 24.01.2014)

Yarmouk camp resident ‘can’t remember’ last time he ate

A starving elderly man appeared in a video this week expressing the agony of finding food in Syria’s besieged Yarmouk refugee camp.

The 27-second footage showing his severe malnutrition went viral on social media, as it signaled the humanitarian disaster in the Palestinian refugee camp, which has been ongoing for months.

“I can’t remember,” the man said when asked by the camera-holder when was the last time he had eaten.

Images of starving Palestinian refugees have shocked many worldwide, with children and women in labor dying due to lack of food.

Syrian activists have called on opposition members attending the peace conference in Geneva to display the video, along with other pictures, to global leaders.

Some 45,000 people in Yarmouk, mostly Palestinians, have been besieged for months by Syrian government forces, with little access to food and medicine according to the United Nations.

U.N. aid workers negotiating with government forces to help residents in Yarmouk earlier this week failed to deliver 400 cartons of food.

They said Syrian soldiers blocked the entry of aid, claiming that they fear it may go to rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad.

(Source / 24.01.2014)

PCHR Weekly Report: “Two Palestinians Killed; Israeli Escalation Continues”

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) issued its weekly report on Israeli violations in the occupied territories, for the period between January 16 – 22, 2014, and said that the army assassinated two Palestinians, conducted 73 invasions, and continued to target the civilian population.

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The PCHR said that, minutes after midnight on Wednesday, January 22, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a Palestinian car on the Sikka Street, in Beit Hanoun, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, killing two fighters of the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad.

The two have been identified as Ahmad Mohammad Za’aneen, 21, and his cousin Mohammad Yousef Za’aneen, 21. The bodies of the two fighters were severely mutilated due to the blast.

A child identified as Salah Farid Al-Ghaff, 11, was moderately injured, and resident Ahmad Sa’ad, 22, suffered serious injuries.

The PCHR added that on January 17, two Palestinian civilians were wounded near the eastern border area of the Gaza Strip.

The two were wounded when the soldiers, stationed across the border fence, opened fire at nonviolent protesters demanding their right to enter their lands, close to the border.

On the same day, soldiers stationed across the border east of Jabalia, in northern Gaza, fired rounds of live ammunition and gas bombs, into an area close to the Shuhada Graveyard after alleging some young Palestinians tried to throw stones at them.

Soldiers also fired rounds of live ammunition and several gas bombs into Bouret Abu Samra area, in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza, also after alleging that Palestinians approached the border fence.

Furthermore, the Israeli air force carried out more than four air strikes targeting different areas in the coastal region.

The strikes targeted training centers belonging to armed resistance groups, and a farmland. Excessive damage was reported, no injuries.

On January 16, soldiers fired artillery shells into areas near the eastern border between Gaza and Israel, and a shell into the Zeitoun neighborhood, east of Gaza City.

On January 19, soldiers stationed east of Beit Hanoun fired rounds of live ammunition targeting farmers, shepherds and bird hunters, east of the Al-Qotbaniyya area.

On January 22, the army fired rounds of live ammunition into the Wady Salqa area, east of Deir Al-Balah, and into Palestinian agricultural lands, along the Al-Qarara, Al-Faraheen and Abasan Al-Kabeera towns, east of Khan Younis.

The PCHR further stated that, on January 18, Israeli navy ships fired dozens of rounds of live ammunition at Palestinian fishing boats in Palestinian waters, less than two nautical miles off the Gaza shore.

On January 22, the navy also opened fire, targeting Palestinian fishing boats, also less than two nautical miles off the shore, kidnapping two fishermen from Jabalia, in northern Gaza.

The boats were taken to Ashdod Port, and the fishermen were interrogated in a military base at the Erez terminal, and were released before midnight on the same day.

Furthermore, one Palestinian was kidnapped at the Erez border terminal between Gaza and Israel.

Israel continued its illegitimate siege imposed on Gaza more than seven years ago, in direct violation of International Law.

The PCHR said that Israeli military vehicles, including tanks and military bulldozers, carried out on January 18, a limited invasion into an area east of Jabalia, in northern Gaza, bulldozed and uprooted farmlands, and opened fire at random, forcing the farmers to leave.

Israeli Attacks In West Bank:

In The West Bank, the soldiers carried out 73 invasions targeting different districts, kidnapping 44 Palestinians, including 10 minors and 3 women.

Among the kidnapped is Issa Ja’bary, 50, a political leader of Hamas from Hebron, and the former minister of local government.

The PCHR said the soldiers continued to use excessive force against the civilians after violently breaking into their homes and searching them, also causing excessive property damage.

The soldiers also installed dozens of roadblocks in different parts of the occupied West Bank, stopped and searched hundreds of cars, and kidnapped eleven civilians, including five children.

Furthermore, the army continued the use of excessive force against nonviolent protests against the Annexation Wall and settlements in the occupied West Bank, wounding eight Palestinians, including a cameraman in Bil’in village near Ramallah, in Silwad, north of Ramallah, and in Kufur Qaddoum village, near Qalqilia.

In Hebron, soldiers demolished a shed used for junk recycling, a workshop and a home, while in the Northern Plains of the West Bank the soldiers removed 15 residential tents, 10 sheds, 3 kitchens and 4 portable toilets.

On January 20, the soldiers demolished a 2,900 square/meter recycling workshop, including two brick rooms used as offices, and a bedroom in the Deir Samet village, southwest of Hebron.

On the same day, soldiers demolished a 2.750 meter furniture production store, and a 2,100 square/meter office building, in Beit Awwa village, southwest of Hebron.

On January 22, the soldiers invaded various Bedouin communities, and villages, in the West Bank’s Northern Plains, removing 15 residential tents, 10 sheds, 3 kitchens, 4 portable toilets and a room made of bricks and clay.

Extremist Israeli settlers, living in illegitimate settlements which violate International Law, continued their assaults against the Palestinians.

On January 16, dozens of settlers of the Keryat Arba’ settlement, built on Palestinian lands in Hebron, attacked Palestinian farmlands in Al-Kassara area, Jabal Jales, and Khallit Abda, chanting racist slogans.

On January 17, extremist settlers of the Karmael illegal settlement, built on Palestinian lands east of Yatta, south of Hebron, attacked Palestinian orchards in Um Al-Kheir village, held dozens of Palestinian shepherds, and planted saplings in 150 Dunams of Palestinian lands.

On January 19, settlers of the Naghot illegal settlement built on Palestinian lands south of Doura village, southwest of Hebron, invaded Palestinian lands and prevented local villagers from entering it.

(Source / 24.01.2014)

GENEVA: OPPOSITION DEMAND SYRIAN GOVERNMENT SIGNS UP TO GENEVA 1, WHILE ASSAD DELEGATION THREATENS TO LEAVE

By Peter Clifford                   ©             (http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-3)

 

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-3

After some pretty aggressive statements and posturing at the opening of the “peace talks” at Montreux on Wednesday, all parties involved have moved to Geneva to continue discussions.

However, progress is slow and tortuous. Lakhdar Brahimi, the joint UN/Arab League special envoy on Syria, spoke to both the Opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC), led by Ahmad Jarba, and the Syrian Government team led by Walid Muallem, yesterday, Thursday, to agree proceedures for moving forward.

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news

Fighting Continues Over Useless Ruins

But it is not easy. The plan was for both sides to meet in one room for an opening session today, Friday, and then to work separately with Brahimi to try and find points of agreement.

However, Jarba has refused to meet again in the same room as the Syrian Government delegation until they agree that they accept the terms of Geneva 1 – effectively that Assad must step down from office and a transitional government must be formed with members from all sides.

So instead of a joint session, Brahimi met at 11.00am Friday with Muallem’s team and will meet with the Opposition team at 4.00pm this afternoon.  Muallem continues to refer disparagingly to the SNC as the ‘coalition delegation called “opposition”‘.

Certainly Jarba and his colleagues are very much on their own in this.  40 members of the Syrian National Council, a major player in the SNC, have walked away, objecting to the negotiations as long as Assad remains as head of state, though some of their members do remain on board.

At the same time the Islamic Front, now a major Opposition fighting force, have labelled anyone taking part in the “peace talks” as a “traitor”.

In the latest reports from Geneva today, Friday afternoon, the Assad regime negotiators threatened to walk out, Muallem telling Lakhdar Brahimi that should “serious sessions” fail to take place by tomorrow, Saturday, the official Syrian delegation “will leave Geneva”, though after subsequent mediation they have now “agreed to meet in the same room on Saturday”, says Brahimi.

The new venue for the negotiations, which were scheduled to last another week unless one side or the other leaves, is in the European headquarters of the UN, the old Art Deco League of Nations building, where part at least of all major peace negotiations over the last 70 years hasve taken place.  The BBC has a guided tour, HERE:

Al Jazeera gives a run down of the situation, prior to the stumbles today, HERE:

SOME HOPE IN CEASEFIRES THAT ARE HOLDING IN DAMASCUS WITH CONCESSIONS ON BOTH SIDES AND FOOD GOING IN:

Although violence erupted outside the negotiating hall between supporters of the two sides, HERE: , perhaps negotiators on both sides need to take some guidance from the areas in Damascus where local ceasefires have been agreed.

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news

Taking Cover As They Go For Food in Deir Ez Zour

So far ceasefires in Moadamiya, Barzeh, Harasta, Qaboun and Beit Sahm have been agreed and are operating with varying degrees of effectiveness.

A ceasefire in the Yarmouk Palestinian Refugee camp, where more than 63 have died due to lack of food or medical help, including 22 women and 3 children, broke down within 48 hours and hostilities resumed.

In the other areas, the Assad regime has allowed food in, in return for Opposition fighters giving up heavy weapons. The fighters get to keep their light weapons and say that they do not have ammunition for the heavy weapons anyway.

Additionally, local Opposition fighters agree to push out non-local fighters and take over security duties. After the deals, Assad regime officers are usually left with one or two checkpoints (often also policed by Opposition fighters) and are discouraged from taking a too severe approach to policing.

Although most of the deals are rather shaky, in Barzeh some new roads have been reconstructed, some new buildings have sprung up and food supplies from Government held areas have started to stream back in.

Officially, the Assad regime has no policy on ceasefires,  and some regime officials are implacably opposed, but significantly the Syrian Army has mostly avoided pushing back into areas where deals have been struck. “The regime has been good so far and has kept its word for a change,” says Rahaf Shami, an activist from the town of Harasta. Perhaps it realises that it has no other choice.

More potential ceasefires just outside Damascus are under discussion at Zabadani and Dumayr.  According to a poll of Syrian refugees 78% say a ceasefire should be the top priority of the negotiators in Geneva and you can support an AVAAZ petition that calls for the same, HERE:

This map, courtesy of Cedric Labrousse, shows the current position around Damascus:

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news

Areas of Ceasefire Around Damascus

Elsewhere around Damascus though, fighting continues with the regime and Hezbollah saying that they have taken Qasimiyah but heavy fighting reported from both sides along the frontline just north of Damascus International Airport. Serious fighting seen in this video from Damascus, exact location unknown, posted Thursday), HERE:

In Aleppo province the Syrian Army is reported to have bulldozed around 30 houses at Khanasser which is a key town on a strategic supply road between Aleppo and the south.

Regime tanks are currently shelling Opposition positions at the southern entrance of the Sheikh Najjar Industrial area to the north-east of Aleppo city, while Opposition forces are firing scud missiles at Aleppo International Airport to discourage any more civilian planes from landing.

1400 OPPOSITION FIGHTERS NOW REPORTED DEAD IN MODERATE VERSUS JIHADIST CONFLICT, WITH USA SECRETLY FUNDING ANTI-AL QAEDA FACTIONS:

Meanwhile, fighting between the moderate Opposition and the extreme Jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL/ISIS) continues with the Jihadists taking full control of Manbej in Aleppo province but retreating from Al-Hadher south-west of the regional capital.

At Al-Bab Opposition fighters stormed ISIL’s headquarters on the outskirts of the town on Wednesday and ongoing fighting is reported between the two sides at Azaz to the north of Aleppo city.

Around 1400 Opposition fighters from both the moderate and ISIL factions are now reported to have died in the clashes.

Other reports suggest that the US is now supplying millions of dollars via Saudia Arabia and Qatar to the more moderate Opposition to enable them to fight ISIL who are affiliated to Al Qaeda and therefore very clearly against American interests.

“Everyone is offering us funding to fight them,” said one commander in an Opposition group affiliated to the Free Syrian Army (FSA). “We used to have no weapons with which to fight the regime, but now the stocks are full.” You can read more, HERE:

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news

Assad Takes a Selfie

Apparently, the US has known about the 55,000 image database of 11,000 tortured and killed detainees (click, HERE:) since last November, but did not reveal what it knew to protect the informant and his family and to give time for the images to be authenticated and a report to be produced.  You can read more,HERE:

A vicious air attack on an Aleppo Opposition-held suburb left collapsed buildings and many civilians dead, but incredibly this baby, completely buried, was rescued from the rubble (EDITOR: Long and distressing – had me in tears by the end with its “joyful” outcome, though rest of the family was lost), here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-m_IgNakiXc

In other fighting across Syria, the FSA is reported to be making ground towards Hama around  Ma’adas where they are coming under heavy regime shelling from Hama airport to try and stop their advance.

Near Raqqah, the FSA, not ISIL, has killed many Syrian Army troops in the Sahlet Banat area not far from the last remaining regime base (17th Division) in the province, just north of the regional capital and in Idlib province the Al Nusra Front wiped out a regime bomb squad investigating a potential roadside bomb, HERE:

In Lattakia province, Opposition fighters successfully targeted a regime tank, HERE:

Finally, from the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan comes this video photo-montage of refugees there – beautiful and moving, here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=oe33tWkXDac

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news

Assad – Look Closely – Your End is Near

Israeli minister favours constructing temple in place of Al-Aqsa Mosque

 

Uri Ariel‘Al-Aqsa Mosque is currently in place of the temple, despite the temple being much holier than it’ – Uril Ariel

Israel Minister of Housing and Construction Uri Ariel issued a statement on Friday indicating that he is in favour of constructing what he calls the “Third Temple” in place of Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem.

In a statement reported by the Alray Palestinian Media Agency , Ariel claimed that: “The first Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE, the second Temple in 70 CE, and ever since the Jews have been mourning its loss.” He added that: “Al-Aqsa Mosque is currently in place of the temple, despite the temple being much holier than it. Al-Aqsa Mosque is only the third most holy mosque in Islam.”

Ariel then asserted that: “Now that Israel has once again become a Jewish sovereign state, there have been occasional calls to rebuild the Temple.”

The Israeli authorities have adopted a large-scale media campaign that claims they are making “archaeological discoveries” in Jerusalem, especially around Al-Aqsa Mosque, in an attempt to forge an imaginary Jewish claim to the land today by erasing Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian history. They are also spreading fake tales and myths about the existence of the alleged temple under Al-Aqsa Mosque in order for them to justify their desire to demolish the mosque.

(Source / 24.01.2014)

Prince Turki slams US over Syria policy

DAVOS: A senior member of the Saudi royal family attacked the United States on Friday over its policy on Syria, and called for a United Nations resolution to pull “Iraqi and Lebanese Shiite militia” out of the war-torn Middle Eastern country.

Prince Turki Al Faisal, a former intelligence chief and an outspoken critic of President Barack Obama’s administration since it started secret nuclear talks with Iran, said the world was disappointed with the “sense of no direction” in US foreign policy.

“I want the Americans to go to the Security Council and get a resolution that forces should be deployed to stop the fighting in Syria,” he told the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“If that is not available, then at least a humanitarian corridor to allow people not to starve.”

Saudi Arabia and Qatar have backed the main opposition Syrian National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army with weapons, training, money and military intelligence in the fight against President Bashar Al Assad’s government.

Iran has been one of Assad’s biggest support in a conflict that has left more than 110,000 Syrians dead and forced more than 2 million to flee.

Western countries have so far held back from providing rebels with heavy arms such as anti-tank weapons and missile launchers for fear they could fall into the wrong hands.

Turki said Iraqi militia and Lebanese Hizbollah fighters outnumbered militants fighting in Syria.

“I’m not saying Sunnis should go fight,” he said. “You have to get these (Shiite) people out. The only way to do it is by a concerted international effort led by the United States and supported by the US allies to force these people to stop the fighting.”

Asked whether Saudi Arabia has been blindsided, Turki said: “Absolutely. On the Syria issue among other things, the (US) policy hasn’t been clear and definitely the actions have not been clear either. This disturbs America’s allies because we’ve grown to depend on America.”

“It is not just about Iran (and) Syria, it’s the sense of no direction,” he said.

Saudi Arabia has been dismayed that Washington worked behind its back to hash out an interim agreement granting Iran limited sanctions relief in exchange for temporary restraints on Tehran’s nuclear programme.

(Source / 24.01.2014)

Gaza: Life beneath the drones

A Hermes 450 drone - manufactured by Elbit

A Hermes 450 drone – manufactured by Elbit

In the Gaza Strip there is no escape from Israel’s drones. Nicknameed ‘zenana’by Palestinians because of their noisy buzzing, the drones (remote control aircraft) are omnipresent. Sometimes they are there to carry out an extra judicial killing and sometimes they are there for surveillance. If you are on the ground you do not know which and you have no choice but to try to ignore them.

Since Israel’s partial withdrawal in 2005, there is not a permanent presence of Israeli soldiers in the majority of the Gaza Strip (although soldiers are a presence in the ‘buffer zone’, off Gaza’s coasts and during frequent invasions), but there is no doubt that the occupation is still brutally enforced -only now a lot of of it is done remotely from the skies.

Monitoring the drones

A selection of the weaponry fired on Gaza over the years collected by Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, Photo taken by Corporate Watch - November 2013A selection of the weaponry fired on Gaza over the years collected by Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, Photo taken by Corporate Watch – November 2013

During our visit to Gaza in November 2013, Corporate Watch talked to the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, to survivors of drone attacks and to just about everyone we met, about the changing impact of drones on the people of Gaza.

Al Mezan is a monitoring organisation working for the protection of human rights in the Gaza Strip. As such they keep extensive records detailing all violations, with separate databases for external and internal abuses. Their files record the number of deaths, injuries and properties destroyed as well as anything that can increase the understanding of each attack, including the type of weapon used. Their initial information is collected by fieldworkers who go to the scene of an attack, assess the evidence and talk to eyewitnesses and people affected. Established in the late nineties, Al Mezan has been recording drone strikes for as long as they have happened in the Strip. This is not always a straightforward task.

According to the UK research group Drone Wars UK, the Israeli military has never, despite the mounting evidence to the contrary, admitted publicly that it is using armed drones in Gaza.[1] According to Yamin Al Madhoun, one of Al Mezan’s fieldworkers, people were confused when evidence of drone strikes first started to be noticed around the year 2000. It was a new kind of warfare which changed everything: “When they started to use the drones we did not know what drones were”, Yamin said. “We did not understand. Explosions just seemed to come out of nowhere. It took us about a year to start learning about drones”.

At scenes of drone strikes fieldworkers used to find a golden cable, something that seemed to be attached to the missile, but this has now changed, with the main signifier of drone use being the type of destruction caused and the kind of target being hit. Drones are most commonly used for ‘targeted assassinations’, or extra judicial killings, of individuals and for a practice referred to as ‘roof knocking’. Roof knockings are used when the Israeli military wants to totally destroy a house but starts with a drone attack targeting the roof as a warning for the people inside to leave.[2] These attacks are usually followed by F16 strikes on the same or nearby buildings about three minutes later. If the people fleeing are lucky, this warning is enough to save their life. But often it is not.

Although there are different kind of missiles fitted on drones the strikes usually leave a hole of about 10cm on the target and cause partial destruction to buildings, making it possible to distinguish between drone, F16 and Apache strikes.

In Al Mezan’s experience Israel’s increased reliance on drones does not mean less casualties in Gaza. “When Israeli forces started to use the drones the number of people killed increased”, Yamin said. “This is a cheaper weapon for Israel to use so drones give the Israelis an opportunity to attack more and more. The people who manufacture the drones facilitate more attacks by the Israelis because they are cheaper and the drones are in the sky all the time, they don’t even have to plan the attack properly beforehand”.

For people on the ground it is almost impossible to foresee a drone attack. Although the buzzing sound of the drones is recognised by everyone, and some people report that the noise of the drone gets louder before a strike. “What can we do?” Yamin said. “When we hear an Apache or an F16 we know that it will only be there for a while and we can go into our houses for safety. Drones are in the air 24 hours a day so the people don’t hide from them. We can’t hide 24 hours a day”. On rare occasions the survivors have reported being able to see the drone before it fired, but often the a missile strike is the first warning.

Increased attacks

Because of the secrecy about Israel’s drone use in the Gaza Strip it is hard to get officially confirmed figures of the exact number of casualties caused by drone attacks, but everyone monitoring the situation has no doubt that the proportion of Israeli attacks which are carried out by drones is increasing. According to Mohammed Mattar, data entry analyst at Al Mezan, the first time the organisation was able to be sure that deaths were caused by an armed drone attack was in 2004, when two people were killed. In 2009, the number of people killed by drones was 461, nearly half of the total number of people killed that year. In 2012, the year of the Israeli invasion known as ‘Pillar of Cloud’, 201 out of a total of 255 people were killed via remote control by drones. These statistics do not include people killed by other weaponry in attacks aided by drone surveillance or people injured in drone attacks.

What quickly becomes clear when you talk to people in Gaza is that the alarming numbers of deaths do not tell the full story. The psychological impact of these weapons is everywhere. In al-Quarara outside Khan Younis we talked to a family who go inside their house every time they hear a drone in the sky after their daughter was arbitrarily killed in a drone strike in 2009. In Meghazi our interview with the head of the refugee council is interrupted when his 10 year old son comes home from school and tells us that there was a drone buzzing above his classroom in the morning, making it hard for the children to concentrate on their schoolwork.

The most common complaint of all is about the drones’ interference with the TV reception -whenever the signal breaks up you know that it is because of Israeli drone activity in the area. “I like to watch Arabs Got Talent” Rida, our translator at Al Mezan says shyly, “but lately I have not been able to because of the drones”. It might not sound like much, but in a place like Gaza, with its closed borders and 12 hour power cuts, it is a final reminder that even the tiniest bit of escapism is at the mercy of the occupation forces.

Take Action

Protest at the Parc Aberporth facility in Wales where the Watchkeeper drone is flight-tested

Protest at the Parc Aberporth facility in Wales where the Watchkeeper drone is flight-tested

With alarming increases in Israeli use of drones being reported by human rights organisations Al Mezan and Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and with drone technology developed by Israeli companies such as Elbit and IAIbeing sold as ‘battle tested’ in Gaza to almost 50 countries, it is urgent that we increase anti-militarist boycott, divestment and sanctions actions. We can not allow Israel to continue to use its repression of Palestinians as a sales pitch to sell killer drones to war criminals around the world.

In the UK the Ministry of Defence has bought drones from both Elbit and IAI and is working with Elbit to develop the Watchkeeper drone, modeled on the Israeli Hermes 450. The Watchkeeper programme is carried out by U-TacS – a joint venture company owned by Elbit Systems and Thales UK. Although the Watchkeeper is currently being described as a a surveillance drone, Drone Wars UK has pointed out that during the 2011 DSEi arms fair in London, Thales exhibited the Watchkeeper with missiles attached.

(Source / 24.01.2014)

Gaza official: Israeli fire kills Palestinian

Mideast Israel Palestinians

A Palestinian uses a slingshot to hurl stones at Israeli soldiers during a weekly protest in the village of Silwad, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, Friday, Jan. 24, 2014.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — A Palestinian health official says Israeli troops have killed a man and wounded another in the Gaza Strip.

Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Kidra says the two men were shot near the border withIsrael. He identified the man killed as Bilal Samir Awida, a 22-year-old civilian. Kidra said the circumstances behind the violence were not clear.

The Israeli military said the shooting Friday happened after dozens of Palestinians hurled rocks and rolled burning tires toward soldiers at the border. The military said soldiers fired warning shots into the air before shooting at the Palestinians.

After a period of relative calm, violence has spiked in recent weeks along the Gaza-Israel border. This week Israel killed a key Gaza militant it blamed for a wave of rocket attacks.

(Source / 24.01.2014)