Labour Friends of Israel: Palestine refugees’ right to return is ‘extreme and illegitimate’

Palestinian protesters gather during clashes with Israeli security froces in a tent city protest where Palestinians demand the right to return to their homeland, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the "Nakba", and against U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem at Israel-Gaza border at the Israel-Gaza border, in al-Bureij in the center of Gaza Strip on 14 May, 2018 [Mahmoud Khattab/Apaimages]

Palestinian protests the right to return to their homeland, on the 70th anniversary of the Nakba in Gaza on 14 May, 2018

Westminster-based lobby group Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) has described the Palestinian refugees’ right of return as “extreme and illegitimate”, in a letter to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn this week.

LFI’s letter came in response to remarks made by the Leader of the opposition on 25 June, during a recent visit to Jordan. In a Twitter post, Corbyn wrote:

“In Jordan, I went to Baqa’a, one of the largest Palestinian refugee camps. We must work for a real two state settlement to the Israel-Palestine conflict, which ends the occupation and siege of Gaza and makes the Palestinian right to return a reality.”

In the period 1947-1949, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled from or fled their homes as Zionist militias and the Israeli army destroyed hundreds of villages in what became Israel. Refugees attempting to return were killed, and Israel passed laws to expropriate their properties.

Read: The UN disregard for Palestinians’ right of return colludes with Israeli violence

Corbyn’s expression of support for the Palestinian refugees’ internationally-recognised rights, prompted anger and concern from British pro-Israel groups, including LFI.

In a letter from LFI chair MP Joan Ryan, the pro-Israel group describes the Palestinians’ right to return (which is referred to in scare quotes) as “highly contentious”, and at odds with Israel’s insistence on retaining its Jewish majority of citizens.

Ryan added: “I do not believe that it does anything to encourage the compromises and concessions a future negotiated settlement will involve for foreign politicians to appear to endorse the most extreme and illegitimate demands of either side.”


The LFI chair concluded by urging Corbyn to “immediately clarify” what he understands by a right to return, and to only use “language…[that] helps to advance, not hinder, the cause of peace, reconciliation and coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians.”

A spokesperson for the Labour party said: “These rights are inalienable and guaranteed by UN Resolution 194 of 11 December 1948. How the right of return is implemented is a matter for the negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.”

(Source / 29.06.2018)

‘A lab and a showroom’: New report looks at Israeli arms trade, Gaza crackdown

Israeli forces fire tear gas at protesters during the Great March of Return in Gaza on 23 June 2018 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Israeli forces fire tear gas at protesters during the Great March of Return in Gaza on 23 June 2018

A new report by Israeli activists on the technology and weapons deployed by the Israeli army in repressing the Palestinian “Great March of Return£ protests charges that the Gaza Strip is seen as a “a lab and a showroom” for the country’s arms manufacturers.

The report was produced by Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP) and the organisation’s Hamushim project, which “works to expose the true human price of the Israeli military industry and arms trade, as well as to mobilise actions against it”.

According to CWP:

Israeli military operations in Gaza in the past decade have been especially profitable for the country’s military industries.

“Both private companies and the Israeli government alike use Gaza as an opportunity to test new weapons, technologies and methods to be marketed based on their new operational success.”

The report states that “the Great March of Return provided an opportunity for Israel to present its advanced UAV technology in a new setting”, adding that “Israel has long been a major drone exporter”.

Remote control repression: Israel tested its latest weapons against the Great March of Return

In particular, “a new tear gas drone, ‘Sea of Tears’, named after a famous hit song, was introduced. It has been reportedly designed specifically for use in Gaza.”

Israeli forces’ “use of drones fits into a worldwide pattern”, states CWP. “Though today aimed primarily against Palestinians, similar technology will likely be marketed and sold to oppress others worldwide.”

In addition to tear gas drones, the report examines the Israeli military’s use of UAVs “to fire at groups of Palestinians as they organised to defend themselves against Israeli aggression”.

“Such reports are particularly noteworthy,” CWP states, because while the military “continues to deny its use of killer drones, it takes pride in the advancements of their ever-growing fleet of UAVs”.

Report: Israel army has plan to dissect and occupy parts of the Gaza Strip

According to research by Hamushim, “the weapon of choice in the Great March of Return was in fact the American Remington M24 rifle, which is known to shoot targets up to 800m away.”

In addition, “Amnesty International forensic pathologists and military experts also identified wounds caused by Israeli Weapons Industries (IWI) Tavor rifles, with 5.56mm caliber ammunition. Those bullets often leave exit wounds expanding up to 15 cm to inflict maximal tissue damage.”

In 2014, the report notes Eli Gold, an executive at IWI, told the Marker: “After every operation of the kind taking place in Gaza right now, we are seeing a big leap in the number of foreign customers. We market aggressively abroad as it is, but the IDF’s actions definitely effect our work.”

Meanwhile, Magal Security Systems “constructed the fence surrounding Gaza to enforce the brutal siege”. In a Bloomberg interview published 11 April, Magal’s then-CEO Saar Koursh gushed:

Gaza has become a showroom for the company’s ‘smart fences,’ as customers appreciate that the products are battle-tested.

The report concludes that the Israeli military “made deliberate choices to kill and permanently injure considerable numbers of Palestinian civilians”, with the crackdown on the march also providing “the military with a platform to introduce and showcase the use of drones as the strategic choice of the present and future”.

(Source / 29.06.2018)

Syrian Coalition Holds Several Meetings at UN & Human Rights Council to Expose Assad Regime’s Atrocities in Dara’a

A member of the Syrian Coalition said that the ongoing onslaught against civilians in Dara’a is part of a litany of war crimes being committed by the Assad regime with the help of Russia and Iran. He stressed that the Assad regime’s capture of new territory will not change the reality of the political process aimed at achieving full political transition in Syria in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council resolution 2254.

At a meeting with members of the team of the UN special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura and officials of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, member of the Coalition’s political committee, Yasser al-Farhan called for serious intervention by the United Nations to stop the Assad regime’s onslaught on Dara’a. He also called for the UN to shoulder its responsibilities and prevent the mass forced displacement of residents of Dara’a province.

Al-Farhan stressed that the Assad regime and its allies have never been serious about the political process as they insisted on pursuing a bloody military solution in Syria. “We made this point clear in all our meetings with the United Nations officials and our friends, but our calls and warnings have all fallen on deaf ears.”

Al-Farhan urged the UN officials to put an end to the ongoing violations by the PYD militia against civilians, stressing that the wholesale violations in Syria “must not be tolerated.”

Moreover, Al-Farhan highlighted the dangers of Law No. 10 which has been recently issued by the Assad regime. He called for preventing the implementation of the law as it represented “encroachment on the rights and property of the people who have been forcibly displaced from their areas of origin. He also strongly condemned all decrees and legislations issued by the Assad regime under request from Iran which seeks to serve its expansionist project in Syria.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 29.06.2018)

13-year-old Palestinian killed, more than 300 injured during 14th ‘Great March of Return’ protest

Spokesperson of the Ministry, Ashraf al-Qidra, said that 310 Palestinians were injured were injured or suffered tear-gas inhalation

A 13-year-old Palestinian boy was killed on Friday after being shot by Israeli forces during the “Great March of Return” in eastern Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

The Gaza Ministry of Health confirmed that the 13-year-old boy succumbed on Friday evening to wounds he sustained in the head earlier during protests, pointing out that he was not yet identified.

More than three hundred other Palestinians were injured or suffered tear-gas inhalation as Israeli forces targeted protesters at the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip on the 14th Friday of the “Great March of Return.”Spokesperson of the Ministry, Ashraf al-Qidra, said that 310 Palestinians were injured were injured or suffered tear-gas inhalation.

Al-Qidra added that three of the injuries were reported to be critical.

Protesters gathered in “return camps” at the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip and set fire to tires. However, witnesses said that Israeli forces opened live ammunition at protesters in the Khuzaa town in eastern Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

The “Great March of Return” protests were launched by thousands of Palestinian civilians in Gaza — which has suffered from a decade-long Israeli siege — who took to the borders to demand their right of return as refugees to their original homelands, now in present-day Israel.

(Source / 29.06.2018)

Journalists’ Syndicate Condemns Barring of Qena from Coverage of Royal Visit

29 JUN
4:57 AM

The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS), on Thursday, condemned the Israeli barring of the Associated Press journalist, Nebi Qena, from covering the visit by Britain’s Prince William to the Israeli prime minister’s official residence, on Tuesday.

Nebi Qena, the AP’s chief television producer for Israel and the Palestinian territories, was held at the entrance to the residence for 45 minutes, forcing him to miss the event, while other journalists were allowed to enter.

PJS denounced, as well, the questioning that was conducted by the Israeli security agents with Qena, about his religion and ethnic background. PJS said it considers this questioning to be racism.

Over the years, PJS has noticed what it called disgraceful and indefensible behavior, in several incidents of Israeli security agents ordering international and Arab journalists to undergo strip searches at Netanyahu’s office, in addition to entering through metal detectors.

“This Israeli measure against Mr. Qena is added to the 740 Israeli violations against Palestinian journalists and media outlets during 2017; and to the Israeli occupation forces killing the cameraman for Palestinian Ain Media Yasser Murtaja and Ahmad Abu Hussein, who were covering a mass demonstration along the Gaza border with Israel in April 2018,” statement concluded, according to the PNN.

06/28/18 Prince William Takes ‘Non-political’ Tour through Israel and Ramallah

(Source / 29.06.2018)