90% of Gaza water “unsafe for drinking,” says UN

Ninety percent of Gaza’s water is not safe for drinking, says the UN.

UNITED NATIONS (IPS) – After a fact-finding tour of the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip — and following hearings in Jordan and Egypt — a three-member United Nations committee has lambasted Israel for the harsh treatment of Palestinian children held in custody.

The Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices in the Occupied Territories has described the continued denial of fundamental human rights of the Palestinians as totally “unacceptable.”

The chairman of the special committee, Palitha Kohona, Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the United Nations, has specifically blasted Israeli security forces for the rigorous crackdown on children, mostly accused of hurling rocks at a fully-armed military.

“Children’s homes are surrounded by Israeli soldiers late at night, sound grenades are fired into the houses, doors are broken down, live shots are often fired, and no warrant is presented,” he said.

Worse still, children are tightly bound, blindfolded and forced into the backs of military vehicles, he added.

In an interview with Thalif Deen, United Nations bureau chief with the Inter Press Service, Kohona said the situation in the West Bank and Gaza has not improved in any significant manner since his last three official visits to the region.

He said witnesses reported that children in detention are often denied family visits, denied access to legal representation, held in cells with adults, denied access to education, and even at the age of 12 tried in Israeli military courts.

The committee was informed by witnesses that there were 192 children in detention, and 39 were under the age of 16, said Kohona, a former chief of the UN Treaty Section. He also said Israel’s practice of demolishing Palestinian homes continues, and Israeli settler violence against Palestinians has increased.

The special committee which was created by the UN General Assembly back in December 1968 also includes Dato Hussein Haniff, ambassador of Malaysia to the United Nations; and Fod Seck, a Senegalese diplomat based in Geneva.

Thalif Deen: How best would you describe the harsh treatment of Palestinian children by Israeli authorities?

Palitha Kohona: The committee took the view that the occupying authorities were not discharging their international legal obligations towards the people of the occupied territories. For example, the principal result of Israel’s blockade of Gaza has been to render 80 percent of Palestinians in Gaza dependent on international humanitarian aid.

The resilience of Gazans for being able to survive on so little, especially in the face of the inadequate health care, severe constraints on their normal occupations, frequent power outages, and not infrequent incidents of violence that mark their daily lives, is admirable. Israel’s blockade of Gaza is illegal.

Israel’s security needs can surely be met adequately without resort to some of these harsh policies. The blockade, in the view of many, amounts to the collective punishment of 1.6 million Palestinians. It has had a devastating impact on the lives of people.

Many witnesses asked whether some of these harsh policies were really necessary to maintain security or were they actually exacerbating feelings of hopelessness.

TD: Since these human rights violations are taking place in occupied territories, do they amount to a violation of the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners in conflict situations?

PK: There have been many eminent persons who have taken this view, and the committee agrees with this assessment.

TD: Has Israel ever permitted the special committee to visit Israel and record its side of the story? If not, what is the excuse given by Israel for barring the special committee?

PK: The special committee has not been permitted to visit Israel, the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem or the occupied Golan. Israel has a policy of not cooperating with the committee.

TD: Since you have visited the region three times as chairman of the special committee, what is your assessment of the occupied territories?

PK: The situation has not improved in any significant manner. In Gaza, imports remain at less than 50 percent of pre-blockade levels. Eighty-five percent of schools in Gaza work on double shifts.

And Israel’s near total ban on exports from Gaza stifles economic growth and makes job opportunities scarce. Between 30 and 40 percent of Gazans are unemployed. Over 1.2 million Gazans received food aid from the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

And 90 percent of the water in Gaza is unsafe for drinking. Business has ground to a standstill with little possibility of importing new equipment or exporting products.

Unemployment stands at around 31 percent and the poverty level at 39 percent, according to the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

TD: What can the United Nations do to improve the situation of Palestinians in the occupied territories? Or do you think the UN remains helpless against Israeli intransigence?

PK: UN agencies are playing a major role in keeping the humanitarian situation from deteriorating further but they have also come under stress due to funding shortfalls caused by the global financial crisis. They need further funding from donors.

(electronicintifada.net / 01.08.2012)

Miljarden verspild bij hulp probleemgezinnen

Instanties werken vaak tegen elkaar op.

Van de tien miljard euro die jaarlijks wordt besteed aan gezinnen die kampen met meerdere soorten problemen gaat tweeënhalf miljard euro op aan bureaucratie en gebrekkige samenwerking tussen hulpverleners. Dat zou de conclusie zijn van een onderzoek in opdracht van het ministerie van Volksgezondheid, Welzijn en Sport, waarvan RTL Nieuws een concept in handen heeft. Nederland telt honderdduizend zogeheten multiprobleemgezinnen, die elk gemiddeld 104 duizend euro per jaar kosten.

De problemen van de gezinnen variëren van schulden tot psychische stoornissen, verslavingen en opvoedingsproblemen. Daardoor zijn vaak meerdere instanties bij de hulpverlening betrokken.Volgens de onderzoekers werken instanties als jeugdzorg, maatschappelijk werk, schuldhulpverlening en jeugdzorg elkaar tegen en zadelen ze de gezinnen met veel papierwerk op.
Het papierwerk kost al een derde van het budget, nog voordat de middelen via indicaties zijn toegewezen, zo haalt RTL onderzoeksleider Pieter Cuyvers aan. De helft van de gezinnen zou met minder hulpverlening beter af zijn.Het ministerie liet tegenover RTL weten te werken aan een nieuwe aanpak voor dergelijke probleemgezinnen.
De gemeenten moeten in de nieuwe opzet een regierol krijgen.
(nieuws.marokko.nl / 01.08.2012)

Hamas blasts Palestinian official’s Auschwitz trip

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Gaza’s ruling Hamas has criticized a Palestinian official for visiting a memorial at the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz and paying respects to its 1.5 million victims there, most of them Jews.

Hamas official Fawzi Barhoum, expressing the Islamic militant group’s position, claimed Wednesday that the Holocaust ‘‘is a big lie.’’ He said last week’s visit to the Auschwitz by Ziad al-Bandak, an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, went against Palestinian public opinion. Abbas and Hamas are political rivals.

Some 6 million Jews were killed in the German Nazi genocide during World War II, including in Auschwitz in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Many Palestinians fear that if they acknowledge the Holocaust, they will diminish their own suffering, including their uprooting during Israel’s 1948 creation and decades under Israeli occupation.

(www.boston.com / 01.08.2012)

Veolia remains active in garbage dump for Israeli settlers

Veolia operates Tovlan Landfill located in the occupied Jordan Valley, January 2011 (Photographed by Who Profits)

(Who Profits)

The French corporation Veolia says it has sold the Tovlan garbage dump in the Jordan Valley to the nearby Israeli settlement of Masua. But the company is still involved in the dump as a supervisor and consultant. On its official website, Veolia Australia gives some details of the sale in a comment to the blog Illegal Dumping of Waste:

Veolia / TMM (a local subsidiary of Veolia Environmental Services) sold to Masua Village its entire rights in the Tovlan landfill on June 26, 2011. As a consequence, we are no longer the registered owner of the site. In order to comply with applicable laws as well as the sale agreement, TMM will act as an active supervisor and consultant for a transitory period to ensure the fulfillment of environmental protection standards and applicable law. These services will be provided until Masuaa is capable of independently undertaking all such obligations in full itself. At the end of this transitory period, TMM will be released from any obligations regarding the landfill operation and will no longer have any control whatsoever over the operation of the site.

The Tovlan landfill serves mainly the needs of the Israeli population in Israel and in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. Moreover, three Veolia subsidiaries in Israel hold permits to transfer waste from Israel to the Tovlan landfill – including TMM – according to the occupation watchdog, Who Profits.

International law prohibits Israel from using occupied land for the sole benefit of its own civilian population. In Resolution 63/201 of 28 January 2009, the UN General Assembly called on Israel to cease the dumping of all kinds of waste materials on occupied Palestinian land.

Veolia’s business deal with illegal Israeli settlement

Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law. Numerous UN resolutions and the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on Israel’s wall in the West Bank have confirmed that settlements violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that “the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

The Israeli settlement of Masua was founded two years after the June 1967 War in which Israeli military forces occupied all of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Syrian Golan and Egyptian Sinai, displacing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.  Some 145 settlers live in Masua.

By selling off the Tovlan landfill to Masua, Veolia has entered into a business deal with an illegal Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

Veolia staff in Israel confirm the company’s involvement in Tovlan landfill

To get a full understanding of the connection between Veolia and Tovlan, Who Profits — a project of the Coalition of Women for Peace in Tel Aviv — contacted Veolia’s offices in Israel. Veolia staff were willing to provide some information.

Veolia Recycling Services secretary Aviva Pe’er, confirmed twice that the company still operates the site at Tovlan, in a telephone conversation on 22 July. In response to the request for a direct phone number at Tovlan landfill, Pe’er referred to a site manager there. The manager said that “Veolia supplies the operation, but the site belongs to Moshav Masua [Masua settlement].” The manager clarified that the company is responsible for the waste disposal in the site and that no date is foreseen in the near future in which its license from the Ministry of Environment will expire.

Activists of the Derail Veolia campaign should be aware that Veolia’s sale of the Tovlan landfill does not bring an end to the company’s involvement in that dump. Veolia continues not only to operate the landfill, but is also teaching illegal settlers how to do so.

(Adri Nieuwhof  / electronicintifada.net / 01.08.2012)

U.S. Trade Union Statement in Support of Palestinian Call for Full and Immediate Arms Embargo Against Apartheid Israel

July 13, 2011 

Whereas, on May 4, 2011, the Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (PTUC-BDS)specifically called “on trade unions around the world to actively show solidarity with the Palestinian people by. . . . divesting from Israel Bonds and all Israeli and international companies and institutions complicit in Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid”; and

Whereas, on July 8, 2011, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) urgently called for “immediate international action towards a mandatory comprehensive military embargo against Israel similar to that imposed against apartheid South Africa in the past”; and

Whereas, since the Nakba (Catastrophe) of 1947-1948, Israel has used at least $108 billion from the U.S. government to carry out ongoing war, ethnic cleansing, racism and apartheid against the Palestinians and many other Arab nations; and

Whereas, in the past ten years alone, the U.S. government — with overwhelming bipartisan support — has given Israel $17 billion in military aid; over the next decade, it will give another $30 billion; and

Whereas, as a result, Palestinian workers continue to be killed and maimed by U.S.-supplied naval vessels, jet fighters, Apache helicopters, white phosphorous and other weapons; and

Whereas, in 2008/2009 alone, Israel used these weapons to enforce the brutal and illegal siege by killing 1400 people in Gaza, most of them civilians — a massacre condemned by the UN, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations, including those that are Israeli; and

Whereas, U.S. supplied-weapons were similarly used in the deadly May 31, 2010 Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and to kill scores of unarmed Palestinian refugees exercising their right to return in 2011; and

Whereas, in 2006, Israel turned Lebanon into a killing ground, slaughtering and maiming thousands of people, destroying the civilian infrastructure, and turning a quarter of the population into refugees in their own land; and

Whereas, the U.S. and Israel provided similar support to the apartheid South Africa regime, just as they now arm and finance dictatorships to suppress the Arab Spring; and

Whereas, veteran South African freedom fighters have observed that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is “worse than apartheid”; and

Whereas, amidst spiraling economic crisis, workers in this country pay a staggering human and financial price for U.S.-Israeli war and occupation from Palestine to Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan; and

Whereas, just as trade unionists fight “replacement” of striking workers, we stand against the dispossession, occupation and inequality inflicted on millions of Palestinian working people and their descendants for more than six decades; and

Whereas, the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against apartheid Israel has been endorsed by numerous labor bodies around the world, including the trade union congresses of South Africa, Egypt, Brazil, Ireland, Scotland and the UK, and labor bodies in Australia, France, Canada, Norway, Catalunya, Italy, Spain and Turkey; and

Whereas, numerous U.S. labor bodies participated in similar divestment campaigns against apartheid South Africa; and

Whereas, following the May 31, 2010 Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, members of ILWU Local 10 in Oakland courageously followed the South African dockers’ example by refusing to handle Israeli cargo; and

Whereas, such solidarity stands in the proud tradition of West Coast dock-workers who refused to handle cargo for Nazi Germany (1934) and fascist Italy (1935); those in Denmark and Sweden (1963), the San Francisco Bay Area (1984) and Liverpool (1988), who refused shipping for apartheid South Africa; those in Oakland who refused to load bombs for the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile (1978); and those at all twenty-nine West Coast ports who held a May Day strike against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (2008).

Therefore, we join with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the Brazilian CUT, and other labor bodies, in specifically reaffirming support for an immediate and comprehensive arms embargo; and

Whereas, Israel has now sought to repress the growing BDS campaign by banning recognition of the 1948 Nakba or advocacy of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions;

Therefore, we call on all labor bodies to divest from Israel Bonds; and

Therefore, we call on workers not to handle weapons and all other military cargo destined for Israel; and

Therefore, that these and other necessary measures be maintained until the Israeli apartheid regime recognizes Palestinian human rights and self-determination by immediately:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

(www.laborforpalestine.net / 01.08.2012)

Israeli hospitals refusing to treat African patients

Report: Jerusalem’s Bikur Holim Hospital refuses to treat a number of African asylum seekers under the premise that they don’t have health insurance.

In the past week, the Bikur Holim hospital in Jerusalem has turned away at least three Eritrean asylum seekers, according to a report in Maariv (Hebrew).

After experiencing severe stomach pains, Nestah Ibrahim, a 21-year-old Eritrean woman who arrived in Israeli legally, was transported to Jerusalem’s Bikur Holim by ambulance. There, hospital workers asked her if she had money to pay for the visit. When she told them she did not, they told her to go somewhere else.

Speaking to Maariv, Ibrahim says,

I tried to explain to them that I’m new here, that I don’t have status and rights but they weren’t convinced and they told me: “Go to a different hospital.” I asked them to at least give me pills to make the pain go away but they did not agree to give them to me.

Earlier this month, Ynet reported that a Tel Aviv hospital, Sourasky Medical Center, will limit admissions of and ban visits by African asylum seekers “out of concern for the spread of infectious diseases to other patients.”

While a number of African patients have been found to have tuberculosis, the plans put forth by Sourasky’s Director General, Gabi Barbash, will separate African and Israeli women in the maternity ward even if the former have been found to be free of infectious diseases. African and Israeli babies will also be separated.

Israeli doctors responded by condemning what they called “patient care apartheid.”

The Ministry of Health also slammed the move, calling it “racist.”

Following the outcry, Sourasky Medical Center eased the restrictions.

The phenomenon of refusing or limiting African patients is not new.  In early 2011, for example, an Eilat doctor refused to care for a pregnant African woman, telling her that he does not tend to Sudanese. In late 2010, an Eritrean man who had been attacked on the street by an Israeli man in Ashkelon was turned away from a local hospital even though he was bleeding.

(972mag.com / 01.08.2012)

Activists: 9 detained in UAE Islamist crackdown

DUBAI (Reuters) — The United Arab Emirates has detained nine Islamists in the past two days, local activists said on Wednesday, and human rights groups have urged condemnation of the Gulf Arab country’s “draconian” treatment of the opposition.

The arrests brought to at least 35 the number of activists, most of them Islamists, detained since July 15 when the UAE said it was investigating a foreign-linked group planning “crimes against the security of the state”.

Activists say around 50 have been arrested since last year. Many of them are UAE nationals, but an Omani citizen and a stateless resident also have been detained.

Interior Ministry officials were not available for comment.

(www.maannews.net / 01.08.2012)

Israel prevents Azan 50 times in Ibrahimi Mosque in July

Ramallah, Aug. 1 (Petra) — Israeli occupation forces have prevent calls for the daily Muslim Prayers (Azan) at Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron 50 times in July under the pretext of noise disturbance for Jewish illegal settlers in occupied part of the city.

Director of Hebron Awqaf Zaid Al Jaabari said that the Israelis deliberately use such programmed policy to get a strong grip and control of the Ibrahimi Mosque including restorations.

He emphasized that the Ibrahimi Mosque is a rightful Palestinian Islamic concern and Jews have no right to interfere.

(petra.gov.jo / 01.08.2012)

Israeli tanks cross Gaza border

An Israeli tank withdraws from northern Gaza near Kubbutz Mefalsim.

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli military vehicles made a limited incursion across the borders east of al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, witnesses said Wednesday.

Two tanks and a bulldozer crossed the borders reaching as far as 300 meters in the Palestinian territory, onlookers told Ma’an.

Gunshots and blasts were heard as the vehicles entered the area.

There were no reports of injury.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said an anti-missile protection system on a tank near the border “was activated for reasons that are currently being investigated.”

She said the system, which deploys automatically, might have been triggered by an anti-tank missile and, if so, “the IDF regards the incident seriously and will respond”.

Meanwhile a Palestinian man was killed and two others were injured when a car exploded in Gaza City’s Tal al-Hawa neighborhood before dawn, an official said.

Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman of the ministry of health in the Hamas-run government in Gaza, said 22-year-old Ayman al-Sharafa sustained deadly wounds in the incident and was pronounced dead later.

Hamas’ military wing mourned al-Sharafa’s death, which its website described as accidental.

The al-Qassam Brigades issued a statement saying it mourned al-Sharafa’s death and vowed “to continue the resistance against the belligerent occupation forces.”

(www.maannews.net / 01.08.2012)

Egypt to unveil new Cabinet on Thursday

Prime Minister Hisham Qandilsaid he would put qualifications before political allegiances when choosing his Cabinet members. (AFP)

Prime Minister Hisham Qandilsaid he would put qualifications before political allegiances when choosing his Cabinet members.

Egypt’s finance and foreign affairs ministers said on Wednesday they were keeping their posts in a new government being formed by Prime Minister Hisham Qandil, who was appointed by President Mohammed Mursi last week.

Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr and Finance Minister Mumtaz al-Saeed confirmed they would stay on after emerging from a meeting with Qandil, who is due to formally unveil his Cabinet on Thursday.

Maj. Gen. Ahmed Gamal eddin, who has been heading the Public Security Department, has been appointed as the Interior Minister, Al Arabiya reported.

Osama Saleh, the head of the General Authority for Investment, said he had been appointed investment minister. Osama Kamal, head of the Egyptian Petrochemical Holding Co, said he had been appointed oil minister.

A little-known technocrat, Qandil was irrigation minister in the outgoing Cabinet led by Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri — who was appointed by the military council and a premier under ousted leader Hosni Mubarak. Qandil has said he would put qualifications before political allegiances when choosing his Cabinet members.

The government formation ends a month long wait for the first administration of the Mursi era. The Muslim Brotherhood politician, who was sworn in on June 30, has been criticized for the amount of time it took him to name his prime minister.

Faced by an economy hit by 18 months of political instability, the new government will need to move fast to address acute economic problems including a looming balance of payments crisis and unaffordable state borrowing costs.

(english.alarabiya.net / 01.08.2012)