The Gaza Strip – Background

Since the beginning of the second intifada, Israel has imposed harsh restrictions on freedom of movement to and from the Gaza Strip. As part of this policy, Israel has almost completely severed the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, causing Palestinian movement between the two areas to fall drastically. Entry of residents of the Gaza Strip to Israel for family visits or to enable spouses to live together is forbidden, and family visits to Gaza by Arab citizens and residents of Israel have been reduced to a minimum. Israel has made it difficult for Gaza residents to go abroad, and many have been denied exit altogether.

Import and export of goods is limited, and frequently stopped completely. In addition, only a small number of Gazans have been allowed to work in Israel, and tens of thousands of Gazans have lost their source of income. The restrictions on movement of goods and workers have caused a deep recession in the Strip, impaired Gazans’ ability to work, and brought about a sharp decrease in the standard of living. The poverty rate has risen by more than 40 percent.

In September 2005, Israel completed the “Gaza disengagement plan,” which included dismantlement of the settlements in the Gaza Strip, evacuation of the settlers to Israel, and withdrawal of the army from the Strip. After the plan was completed, Israel issued an order declaring the end of the military government in the Gaza Strip and claimed it was no longer responsible for the safety and well-being of the residents there.  In doing so, Israel ignored the harsh reality in the Gaza Strip following its prolonged occupation, the closure it had imposed on the area for more than a decade, and the dependence of the Palestinian economy on the Israeli labor market and trade with Israel.

The army’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and dismantlement of the settlements resulted in considerable improvement in the freedom of movement of Palestinians within the Strip. However, Israel continued to control the crossings into Israel and the air and sea space of the Strip, and decisions regarding the movement of persons and goods into and from the Strip remained in its hands. Although Rafah Crossing on the Egyptian border operated for seven months after the disengagement, in accord with an agreement reached by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, enabling movement to Egypt, it was closed after the abduction of the soldier Gilad Shalit in June 2006.

In June 2007, after Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip, Israel further tightened its control of the crossings. Since then, it has been almost impossible for Palestinians to enter or leave the Strip, or to export or import goods. Three months after the Hamas takeover, in response to the ongoing firing of Qassam rockets at Israel, Israel’s security cabinet declared the Strip a “hostile entity” and decided on collective punitive measures, including reducing the supply of electricity and fuel to the Strip.

The siege on the Gaza Strip has led to a substantial drop in the availability of necessities and medicines there and a sharp rise in their prices. Most factories and hundreds of businesses have closed. In 2009, the number of unemployed persons in the Gaza Strip rose to 140,000, some 40 percent of the workforce there. This policy infringes the right of Palestinians in the Strip to work and earn a living with dignity and their right to an adequate standard of living.

After implementation of the disengagement plan, some Palestinian organizations in the Strip continued to fired rockets and mortars at Israeli communities close to the Green Line, in violation of fundamental principles of international humanitarian law, under which intentional gunfire at civilians constitutes a war crime. From September 2005 to the end of November 2009, 11 Israelis were killed by the rocket and mortar fire.

For its part, Israel has employed a variety of means, among them artillery fire at what the army refers to as “Qassam launching spaces” and areas near the border that are classified as “death zones.” The open-fire regulations permit firing at Palestinians found in these zones even if they are not life-threatening. Israel has increased its targeted killing of Palestinians it alleges are involved in attacks against Israel. The targeted-killing operations have also killed many bystanders. According to B’Tselem’s figures, since the implementation of the disengagement plan, Israel has killed 52 bystanders (27 of them minors) in these operations.

Since the disengagement, the army has conducted several ground-forces operations in the Strip. For example, following the abduction of the soldier Gilad Shalit on 26 June 2006, Israel initiated an extensive operation, which was given the name Summer Rains. In the operation, the army bombed civilian infrastructure and made incursions into crowded population centers. Since then, Israel has attacked the Gaza Strip several times.

In all these actions (until 26 December 2008), Israel killed 522 Palestinians who were not taking part in the hostilities. This number included 195 minors, 49 women, and 25 men over age 50.

On 27 December 2008, Israel began its most extensive operation, which it called Cast Lead. Operation Cast Lead continued until 18 January 2009 and caused unprecedented harm to the civilian population – 1,389 Palestinians were killed, including 759 civilians who did not take part in the hostilities, and thousands were wounded. Israel also caused enormous damage to buildings and infrastructure, causing electricity, water, and sewage facilities, which were on the verge of collapse before the operation, to cease functioning completely. According to UN figures, Israel destroyed over 3,500 residential dwellings, leaving large numbers of persons homeless.

Contrary to Israel’s contention that, following the disengagement, it is no longer obligated to care for the safety and welfare of Gaza residents, international law imposes certain obligations. Under human rights law, Israel is required to respect the rights of Gaza residents in matters in which control remains in its hands. These obligations result from the scope of actual control over major facets of the residents’ lives that Israel continued to hold after the disengagement, and from the almost total dependence of the Strip’s economy on the Israeli economy, a result of the prolonged occupation.

When an armed conflict is taking place in the Gaza Strip, Israel is also bound by the provisions of international humanitarian law, under which civilians must remain outside the cycle of the hostilities. Two fundamental principles – distinction and proportionality – are intended to ensure this. Under these principles, it is absolutely forbidden to intentionally attack civilians, and when an attack is aimed at a military object, the anticipated harm to civilians may not be excessive in comparison with the direct military advantage anticipated. In addition, during the hostilities, Israel must provide special protection to certain groups, among them the sick, the wounded, and children, and must enable medicines and necessary foodstuffs to feely enter the area and medical teams to treat the sick and wounded.

( / 23.04.2011)

Outrage follows Syria security crackdown

Bloodshed in cities across the country prompts protesters to redouble calls for end to president Bashar al-Assad’s rule.

People have taken to the streets in cities across Syria

Weeping over his Quran, the imam of the al-Rahman mosque in Hajjar al-Aswad, a poor neighbourhood near the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp on the southern edge of Damascus, the Syrian capital, led evening prayers for the dead.

Six young men from the neighbourhood had been shot and killed by Syrian security forces, one of them Imam Abu Bilal’s 22-year-old son.

His eyes black with rage, the imam vowed to bring thousand of supporters on to the streets to rally against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the president, when, like up to 100 other Syrian families on Saturday, he buries his dead.

“It started with 200 to 300 young men demonstrating in front of the police station,” said Omar, a shopkeeper from the neighbourhood.

“Then the mosque told us the names of six people killed and within half an hour all the residents of Hajjar al-Aswad were on the street.

“All the young men, all the women, all the teenagers. We are a tribal society here.”

The largest day of protests in a five-week uprising against the Syrian regime was also the most widespread, with the blood of citizens killed by plain clothes security and military spilled on the streets of the capital for the first time.

Capping a week that saw the central industrial city of Homs become a new focus for protest, what had begun as an uprising by citizens in the north, south and west of the country became on this “Great Friday” a battle for the streets in and around Damascus itself.

“I can tell you now, the situation in Maadamiya will never be calm,” said a doctor from the southern suburb of the capital.

“Today is an historical day for the country. There is now a new strategy to kill all protesters, not even to arrest them.”

Fearing to take the wounded to hospital after hearing from colleagues in neighbouring Darayya that security had shot and arrested protesters there, the doctor said he was now treating the injured inside people’s homes.

“But it is very hard to treat the wounds because many have been shot in the head,” he said.

‘Arabs and Kurds are brothers’

As they had on previous Fridays, the protests began in the northeast, home to the majority of Syria’s Kurds, the largest ethnic minority in the country.

Earlier this month, al-Assad tried to win support among this long-hostile demographic by restoring citizenship to up to 300,000 stateless Kurds.

But for at least one of the up to 8,000 mainly Kurdish demonstrators who took to the streets of Qamishli and Amouda chanting “Syrian people are one” and holding banners declaring “Arabs and Kurds are brothers”, the concession meant little.

“A few weeks ago I was oppressed with no nationality,” said Mohammed, one of the protesters in Qamishli.

“Now I’m oppressed with an ID card. We want freedom. This is not an issue of citizenship, but an issue of being a citizen.”

Just further south, in the Kurdish-majority city of Hassake, Fadel Salim Faisal, a lawyer, attempted to exercise another new right as a citizen.

Hours after al-Assad signed a decree allowing peaceful protests, Faisal had gone to the governor of Hassake to apply for permission to protest.

Instead the lawyer was detained by air force security, roughed up and accused of “communicating with foreign services”, according to fellow lawyer Louai Mustafa Osso.

Witnesses in Hassake reported seeing Baath Party officials joining with regime thugs to beat a group of about 500 protesters gathered beside the Grand Mosque following the end of Friday prayers.

Bullets ‘like rain’

By the grim standards of “Great Friday”, though, the Kurds got off lightly.

Similarly, for the tens of thousands shouting for the downfall of the regime on the streets of Baniyas and Latakia, port cities in the Allawite heartlands on the Mediterranean coast that are home to the al-Assad family, there was no repeat of the violent chaos, fuelled by loyalist fighters, which has left dozens dead.

This Friday, human rights activists named only two protesters killed in Latakia.

In the dusty southern border towns, on the edge of the desert that runs into Jordan, however, the bullets, according to one witness, fell “like heavy rain”.

At least 20 people were killed in Izraa, a small town 25km north-east of Daraa, where the uprising began in mid March,  when the army and secret police opened fire on about 3,000 protesters marching between the town’s main squares.

The dead included a 70-year-old man and a 10-year-old boy named by local human rights activists as Iyad Nimr.

Footage on YouTube, apparently from Izraa, showed a man carrying the body of a young boy, his hair matted with blood from a gaping wound in his head.

In Daraa, where at least 80 protesters have been killed, an eyewitness reported the largest protests to date, estimating tens of thousands had turned out onto the streets, with only one reported fatality.

“People are chanting that they want to topple the regime and release prisoners of conscience,” said the eyewitness, whose brother had been killed by security forces three weeks ago.

“We will never forget the blood of the martyrs. The regime used fear and then more fear. Now we want freedom from fear.”

In Homs, pro-government gunmen tried their best to keep that fear barrier in place.

With more than 20 protesters killed in two days earlier this week, the army and plain clothes security had put the city under lock-down, ringing it with checkpoints and preventing access to the central Clock Square, scene of an attempted opposition sit-in.

An eyewitness described how a group of about 200 protesters, moving ahead of the main group of around 3,000 protesters, came under fire as they marched down Cairo Street, close to Clock Square.

As the protest broke into smaller groups under heavy and sustained fire, government snipers took to the rooftops to prevent the opposition regrouping.

Many bodies of those killed could not be retrieved. Some of the injured from Homs and neighbouring villages were bundled into private cars which were shot at, according to two separate sources, even as they tried to ferry the dying to hospital.

Three such cars disappeared after approaching a checkpoint, according to Wissam Tarif, director of Insan, a human rights organisation, who had been in contact with the drivers.

“The driver said one of the injured in his car had lost consciousness and there was blood everywhere and they were driving really fast,” said Tarif.

“I think they have been kidnapped by security forces. We have documented cases of security kidnapping the injured and corpses of martyrs in many places in Syria.”

In all, human rights activists documented the names of 22 people killed in Homs on Friday.

In the nearby central city of Hama, where an uprising in 1982 by the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood was brutally crushed by Hafez al-Assad, the former president, killing at least 10,000 Syrians, protesters held their largest anti-regime demonstration to date. Three were killed.

“This is not 1982 anymore,” said an eyewitness. “We want dignity and freedom.”

Bloodshed in the capital

It was the towns and suburbs around Damascus that saw the most killing, bringing bloodshed and chaos crashing in on the peace and quiet many in the capital had hoped would not be disturbed.

For a few hours in Douma, site of the largest demonstrations to reach the vicinity of the capital, security forces did nothing to stop the tens of thousands of protesters gathered around Municipality Square, renamed Freedom Square, shouting: “The people want the fall of the regime.”

The Syrian city of Homs has been a hotbed of
anti-government protest

But when protesters began marching on the checkpoints surrounding the town, attempting to join forces with protesters in nearby Harasta, riot police and plain clothes security opened fire.

As the death toll rose, reports came in of residents forming a human shield around the private-run Hamdan Hospital to prevent security forces arresting the injured.

As evening fell, six bus loads of plain clothes security were driven into Douma to continue the killing.

In all, eight protesters died and at least 25 were injured.

“We do not trust this government and the credibility of all officials has been shaken,” said one Douma protester.

“We want the whole constitution to be changed and Article 8 [which gives the Baath Party the right to rule state and society] removed.”

Further northwest from the capital, in Zamalka, five protesters were killed in a large demonstration.

On the northeast flanks of Qassioun mountain, a resident of Berze told Al Jazeera details of what was the first reported death of a protester inside Damascus city itself.

About 1,000 protesters had gathered outside the Salam Mosque calling for the government to be toppled, said the witness.

They were met by Kalashnikovs and snipers on roof tops, killing six people.

In neighbouring Qaboun, at least four protesters were also killed after Friday prayers, while in Dariya, a suburb further to the northeast, demonstrators reportedly demolished a statue of Basel al-Assad, the president’s late brother.

The five bus loads of secret police sent to control them opened fire and killed four people.

There were no reports of deaths in Midan, long a centre of revolutionary activity in Damascus. The neighbourhood is the traditional home of the conservative Sunni merchants whose support the regime has long sought to bolster.

Yet the message to worshippers from the imam of Midan Mosque was uncompromising: “Whoever does this killing, God will have his revenge upon.”

Hundreds poured from the mosque onto the street calling for the downfall of the regime and tearing posters of the president as they marched on the local police station, according to one of the protesters.

That they were only met with tear gas and warning shots, that frightened but did not kill, might be an indicator of the sensitivity of the regime to turning this powerful community of Damascenes against them.

But from the account of one Midan protester, that sensitivity has come far too late.

“Our regime is the most brutal and scary in the Middle East. It has no values and can easily kill its own people,” he said.

“Rather than firing bullets, they should open their eyes and their hearts to the Syrian people. Now all Syrian cities should rise up together.”

( / 23.04.2011)

Humane Treatment of Animals

God, the Creator of human beings and animals, has made animals subservient to us.  We depend on animals for the food we eat and the milk we drink.  We bring animals into our homes for love and companionship.  We survive critical illness and live longer because of biomedical research on animals.  We visit to zoos and aquariums to gain an appreciation for the spectacular diversity of life on earth.  We benefit from specially trained dogs that detect drugs, guide the blind, and assist the disabled.  God says in the Quran:

“And the cattle, He has created them for you.  You have in them warm clothing and (other) advantages, and of them you eat.  And therein is beauty for you, when you drive them back (home) and when you send them out (to pasture).  And they carry your heavy loads to regions which you could not reach but with great distress to yourselves.  Surely your Lord is Compassionate, Merciful.  And (He made) horses and mules and asses that you might ride upon them and as an ornament.  And He creates what you know not.” (Quran 16:5-8)

The mercy of Islam extends beyond human beings to all living creations of God.  Islam prohibits cruelty to animals.  Fourteen hundred years ago, long before the modern animal rights movement began with the publication of Peter Singer’s book, “Animal Liberation,” in 1975, Islam required kindness to animals and cruelty to them a sufficient reason for a person to be thrown into the Fire!

Once, the Prophet of Mercy spoke of God’s forgiveness due to the humane treatment of animals.  He told his companions the story of a man who got thirsty on his way.  He found a  well, climbed down inside it to the water, and quenched his thirst.  When he came out he saw a panting dog licking on mud out of extreme thirst.  The man thought to himself, ‘The dog has become as thirsty as I was!’  The man went down the well again and got some water for the dog.  God appreciated his good work and forgave him.  The companions asked, ‘O Prophet of God, do we get rewarded on humane treatment of animals?’  He said, ‘There is a reward in (doing good to) every living being.’[1]

On another occasion, Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, described God’s punishment of a woman who was sent to Hell because of a cat.  She kept her locked up, neither feeding her nor setting her free to feed herself.[2]

Islam laid down humane slaughtering regulations.  Islam insists that the manner of slaughter should be that which is least painful to the animal.  Islam requires that the slaughtering instrument not be sharpened in front of the animal.  Islam also prohibits the slaughtering of one animal in front of another.  Never, prior to Islam, had the world witnessed such concern for animals.

Humane Islamic treatment of animals can be summarized by the following points:

First, Islam requires that pets or farm animals be provided with proper food, water, and a place to live.  Once the Prophet passed by an emaciated camel due to hunger, he said:

“Fear God in regards to these animals who can not speak their will.  If you ride them, treat them accordingly (by making them strong and fit for that), and if you [plan to] eat them, treat them accordingly (by making them fat and healthy).” (Abu Dawud)

Second, an animal should not be beaten or tortured.  Once the Prophet of Mercy passed by an animal branded on his face.  He said, ‘Has it not reached you that I have cursed the one who brands an animal’s face or hits it on its face?[3]  The Prophet of Mercy advised his wife to treat an unruly camel that she was riding kindly.[4]  Making animals fight one another for entertainment was also forbidden by the Prophet.[5]

Third, Islam forbids using animals or birds for targets when practicing shooting.  When Ibn Umar, one of the companions of Prophet Muhammad saw some people practicing archery using a hen as a target, he said:

“The Prophet cursed anyone who made a living thing into a target (for practice).”

The Prophet Muhammad also said:

“‘Whoever kills a bird or anything else without its due right, God would ask him about it.’  It was said: ‘O Messenger of God!  What is its due right?’  He said: ‘To kill it for food…and do not sever its head, and throw it!’” (Targheeb)

Shooting at live pigeons was once an Olympic event and today dove shooting is allowed in many places.

Fourth, separating nestling birds from their mothers is not allowed in Islam.

Fifth, it is forbidden to mutilate an animal by cutting off its ears, tails or other body parts without just reason.

Sixth, a sick animal under one’s care should be treated properly.

Through these rules and regulations legislated in regards to animals, the Muslims gains the respect and understanding that other creatures are not to be used and abused as one wills, but that they, like humans, have rights which must be given in order to ensure that the justice and mercy of Islam be met to all which inhabit this earth.

( / 23.04.2011)

That’s #3: Yemen President Saleh Agrees To Step Down

There goes another one.

Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh has agreed to step down in 30 days in exchange for immunity for himself and his family.

He’s the 3rd major Arab leader to step down, following Mubarak in Egypt and Ben Ali in Tunisia.

Yemen had been the home of increasingly deadly clashes in recent days.

Who’s next? Assad in Syria?

( / 23.04.2011)

SLC church distributes free copies of Quran

Wasatch Presbyterian Church pastor Scott Delgarno and the board are buying dozens of copies of the Qur’an and having them placed at the King’s English Bookstore to give away for free. This is to counter the message of Florida pastor Terry Jones, who burned the Qur’an. In each, they’re putting a book mark that says “This book was donated by the leaders of Wasatch Presbyterian Church, who are not afraid of truth wherever it can be found.”

Leaders of a Presbyterian congregation in Salt Lake City have an answer to the Florida pastor with a penchant for burning the Quran.

Wasatch Presbyterian Church is giving Islam’s holy book away for free.

“Sometimes, it’s hard to know how to push back against the lunatic fringe,” said Russell Fericks, a member of the session, or governing board, of the 350-member church on the city’s east side.

So when the new pastor, the Rev. Scott Dalgarno, asked the board last week to join him in opening their wallets, the reaction was swift.

The leaders put up $600 before the meeting was over and ordered dozens of copies of an Oxford Press edition of the Quran several days ago. The books will be available as early as Monday at King’s English Bookshop, each with a bookmark bearing these words: “This book was donated by the leaders of Wasatch Presbyterian Church, who are not afraid of truth wherever it can be found.”

The idea, Fericks said, “was simple. It was creative. It was courageous in the sense of saying, ‘We’re not afraid of the truth.’

“You don’t have to let the nincompoops of the world control all the message,” he said.

Terry Jones, the Gainesville, Fla., pastor who backed down from his threat to torch the Quran last fall, nonetheless supervised burning of the book at his church on March 20.

( / 23.04.2011)

Interview: daughter of Frantz Fanon on Palestine solidarity

Last year, Mireille Fanon-Mendes France of the Frantz Fanon Foundation testified in the trial of Ameer Makhoul, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and the director of Ittijah, the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations. In January, Makhoul was sentenced to nine years in prison for charges related to espionage and contact with “enemies of the state.” According to Makhoul, during the 22 days he was held in isolation after his arrest, the Israeli authorities used severe interrogation methods that caused him both psychological and physical harm.

Mireille Fanon-Mendes France knows Ameer Makhoul through years of regular meeting while representing their respective organizations at the World Social Forum’s International Council.

The Frantz Fanon Foundation is named for Fanon-Mendes France’s father, the celebrated black psychiatrist, thinker, activist and writer originating from Martinique. Fanon was deeply involved in popular struggles against racism, colonialism and oppression. He supported the Algerian struggle for independence and became a member of the Algerian National Liberation Front. The Frantz Fanon Foundation aims to promote Fanon’s ideas worldwide.

The Electronic Intifada contributor Adri Nieuwhof interviewed Fanon-Mendes France about her involvement in the Palestinian struggle for liberation.

Adri Nieuwhof: How would you like to introduce yourself?

Mireille Fanon-Mendes France: I have been very active in the solidarity work with Palestine for a long time, since 1967. I have worked on the issue of Palestinian prisoners since the first intifada but I was more involved during the second intifada, when I went several times [to the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip] and wrote a report on this issue.

Furthermore, I assume the presidency of the Frantz Fanon Foundation working on the actuality of thoughts of Frantz Fanon [on] colonialism and domination, racism, alienation and emancipation, on the right of people to self-determination. I am also on the board of the French Jewish Union for Peace. And I am me.

AN: Why did you get involved in the movement in solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people?

M F-M F: My first involvement was against racism. I’ve worked for a long time on human rights. Then I understood the most important right is the right to self-determination for all peoples. In fact, this right is complementary to the right for states to choose their own political representatives, and the right to use and benefit from their own natural resources.

Since the beginning, I have been very concerned about what self-determination means for peoples. And what it means for governments, the international community and the solidarity movement. I tried to understand why it was so difficult to claim this fundamental right. Later, when I studied international law, the right of self-determination was my main focus. This right is the result of the decolonization and the victory of the states that met in Bandung in 1955 [which paved the way for the Non-Alignment Movement]. If there is one people in the world who cannot obtain this right, we have to push, to act, so that it is realized. The Palestinian people have not obtained their right to self-determination and the international community tries its best [to ensure] that this right is not achieved. That is why I am involved.

AN: You were a witness in a hearing in the case against Ameer Makhoul. What is your view on how Israel dealt with Ameer Makhoul’s trial?

M F-M F: I was once in court in Haifa as a character witness for Ameer Makhoul. It was a hearing. I was very surprised about the court case against Ameer Makhoul; I’ve known him for a long time. I went to Ittijah in 2003. I had the opportunity to get to know him better during our meetings with the World Social Forum that took place every six months.

Many people know Ameer. I am very impressed by him; I find him trustworthy. He is inclusive in his approach. I was very proud to be his character witness. It was a very difficult test for me; it was a heavy responsibility. It was not about my own life but for his life and his family. About the trial, I would say that I know how they [Israel] arrange the law, and I know how they get a signature under a confession. He was treated badly [in detention], deprived of sleep and kept in a bad position for a long time. Unfortunately, I understand why he signed. I know he was not capable to do what he admitted in his confession.

He was denied the right to a fair trial. They use this horrible procedure called a plea bargain. If we could “use” Ameer as a symbolical example of a political prisoner it would be great. He is a Palestinian prisoner from Israel. There is always violation of rights of Palestinians from Israel. We have to denounce this racist and xenophobic treatment of Palestinians by Israel. We have to denounce Israel’s violations of human rights conventions and international political conventions. We don’t have to accept the apartheid system used by the Israeli government against the Palestinians living inside Israel.

AN: The call for an international campaign for the release of Palestinian political prisoners is becoming louder. What is your opinion on such a campaign?

M F-M F: All the political prisoners are in jail for political reasons. Some are held [without charge] under administrative detention, and the period of detention could be extended over and over again. It is against international law. Together, we have to work to do what is possible on this issue, and even more, because it is one of the war crimes committed by Israel. To be held in jail in Israel as a Palestinian political prisoner from the occupied [West Bank and Gaza Strip] is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention; it is a grave breach.

They [Israel] have to be sued for this at the level of the International Criminal Court. As state parties to the Geneva conventions did not do this, we can ask questions about these states, because they don’t live up to their obligations. In 2004, the International Court of Justice in the Hague ruled in its Advisory Opinion on the wall that state parties have the obligation to respect the Fourth Geneva Convention, and also ensure the respect for the convention. State parties leave Israel to continue its violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention. They did not ask for sanctions, not in the UN General Assembly or in the Security Council. State parties are accountable. By not acting, they become complicit in Israel’s war crimes.

AN: What do you consider as a critical contribution for international solidarity organizations and concerned citizens to support the Palestinian people in achieving their goals?

M F-M F: A lot of things need to be done. We cannot do what we want without the agreement and support of the Palestinian movement. For me, we have to push the international community, to see how we can ask the international community why they don’t respect their obligations to international law. Why are they allowing war crimes daily?

What it is doing in Libya is symptomatic. The international community seeks its own goal. Not the obligations and the respect of international law toward all the nations. Some of the states use the law of the stronger, the law of the jungle, or the law of the hegemony of some of them. They want a world that is one side that is “good,” and another side that is “bad.” In this world vision, Palestinians are the “bad” people, and people who support the Palestinians are “bad” people too. We have to ask our governments to act responsibly and stop the Israeli war crimes. We should hold our governments, as state parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to account for their complicity in Israeli war crimes at the International Criminal Court.

We should use both national law and international law in our activism. For example, in the legal action in France against [French transportation giant] Veolia for its complicity in the Jerusalem light rail project, the company has been sued under national law, the French Civil Code. We could also sue the French government at the International Criminal Court for allowing a French company to be complicit in war crimes.

And as a solidarity movement, we should work at these two levels, national and international. The same counts for the boats to Gaza. I would prefer an international flotilla of boats from several nations. We have to work together to achieve the right of self-determination for all peoples, the right of peoples to use their natural resources. We have to respect the choice of the people. We are not working for ourselves. We want to uplift humanity.

( / 23.04.2011)

UN ignores its own resolution on Libya

Russia insists the UN resolution is being violated by allied forces, but these are not purely Russian concerns. There is widening frustration over how the operation in Libya is being conducted, according to political analyst Sergey Strokan.

­“Definitely they have gone far beyond the UN Resolution, which was initially installed just to introduce a no-fly zone,” says Sergey Strokan, a political analyst for Kommersant newspaper.

“What’s going on now is a totally different story,” he added. “The coalition is definitely taking sides and now they are considering another step: to start a land operation, which could really bring unpredictable results for the country. That’s why this is not only Russia’s concern, this is the concern of quite a big part of international community.”

Sergey Strokan agrees that UN is already ignoring its own resolution in the case of Libya.

“We have to understand that this is a really complicated issue because initially by adopting this resolution, the UN was also trying to sort of reinvent itself, to show that it is important, it can play a decisive role,” he said. “And as you remember, the resolution came out as a result of carefully-worded compromises.”

“All parts were discussed and every step when you go beyond the resolution,” he added. “It makes your credibility at stake, it can be jeopardized simply. And this is what’s happening in Libya.”

Speaking about Dmitry Medvedev’s meeting with the UN chief, political analyst Sergey Strokan said Ban Ki-moon could hardly actually be seeking Russia’s backing for the allied forces in Libya.

“I think that Ban Ki-moon definitely is a practical man, a practical politician, and he can’t expect Russia to support that,” he said. “Russia is opposed to it. In practical terms, what Ban Ki-moon can expect from Russia is just may be to mute its criticism, to slow it down.”

­Meanwhile, Jim Brann  from the Stop the War coalition says that NATO has to follow the course, initially set, right up to the beginning of ground intervention.

“And the logic has to be, I think, ground forces in one way or another,” says Brann. “And even if they from time to time refer back to UN Security Council Resolution 1973,  it does not change the fact that they clearly are going for the overthrow of the Tripoli government,” he added.

( / 23.04.2011)

Abeer ! The beautiful angel was killed by the policy of Hate and Terrorisim!

Israel didn’t only prevent her from growing with her father, she wanted only to hug him but they decided to KILL HER!

April 22

In a unique case that highlights the sense of shock and the strain the occupation brings to bear on ordinary people, psychological trauma has been blamed for a Palestinian girl’slife-threatening coma after she was prevented by Israeli authorities from hugging her father when she went to visit him in prison where he is serving a life term. Israeli police officers in charge of the prison where Abeer Eskafi’s father, Yousuf, is serving his sentence, allegedly did not allow the 10-year-old to go over to the prisoners’ side of a meeting room where visitors can meet inmates when she expressed a wish to hug her father. The little girl was so hurt by the episode that soon after returning home, she refused to eat and retreated into a shell of silence. Later she became paralysed and subsequently slipped into a deep coma that even affected her respiratory functions. She is now on life-support at a hospital in Hebron.

Doctors at Hebron’s Princess Alia Hospital say Abeer’s condition is deteriorating steadily, which is preventing her from being transferred abroad for advanced treatment which the Palestinian health service is not in a situation to provide.Physicians treating Abeer have warned that there’s a big risk to her life if she is moved from her bed or if the connection to the artificial breathing apparatus is disturbed. Abeer’s father has been sentenced by an Israeli court to four life terms with no chance of parole.
Abeer is the eldest of his three daughters, the others being Falastine and Tahreer. Abdul Rahim Abdul Mohsin Eskafi, Abeer’s grandfather, told Gulf News that her health started to decline following her visit to her father in prison. Eskafi said Abeer used to be allowed to the other side to hug her father and spend a couple of minutes with him on earlier visits but was refused such permission on her latest visit ostensibly because she had passed an age limit a few days ago that made her ineligible for such consideration.
Eskafi, who also heads the Prisoners’ Families Committee at the Palestinian Prisoners Club, said Abeer collapsed after the Israeli officer prevented her from getting close to her father, but kept knocking on the glass barrier and Yousuf responded by knocking on it from the other side but even this distressing sight did not evoke any pity in the officer. After Abeer got back home to Hebron, she started knocking hysterically on pieces of furniture in the house all the time until her right hand became weak. She refused to eat and kept calling for her father, he added.
All specialist doctors who saw Abeer diagnosed her condition as psychological, and the girl’s health deteriorated till she became totally paralysed and had to be hospitalised when she lapsed into a coma.
Meanwhile, Yousuf, Abeer’s father had to undergo emergency surgery after suffering a heart attack on hearing about his daughter. Abeer’s elder brother, Ahmad, was shot dead by the Israelis in 2007 when he was just 15.

(Facebook / 23.04.2011)

Il est temps de créer l’Etat palestinien

Monseigneur Fouad Twal, patriarche latin de Jérusalem, livre ses réflexions sur la situation en Israël et dans les territoires palestiniens.

Peu avant Pâques, Monseigneur Fouad Twal, patriarche latin de Jérusalem, livre ses réflexions sur la situation en Israël et dans les territoires palestiniens.

Les célébrations de Pâques sont une occasion importante pour parler de Paix. Quel est votre message pour les Israéliens et les Palestiniens ?

Il est grand temps de passer du message à la réalité. Jusqu’à présent nous n’avons fait que parler de paix, mais les promesses sont restées sans lendemain. De fait, la paix manque, la confiance manque et la peur paralyse. Certes, il y a parfois des signes encourageants. Par exemple, à l’occasion de Pâques, les autorités israéliennes ont facilité les libertés de déplacement afin que les chrétiens de Galilée ou de Bethléem puissent venir au Saint Sépulcre. Ceci dit, les incidents quotidiens risquent de ruiner les bonnes volontés qui existent chez les Israéliens et les Palestiniens. Puisque nous venons de célébrer Pâques, je veux dire que rien ne se fera sans une conversion des coeurs.

Depuis quelque temps, des discussions diplomatiques et publiques portent sur le projet de reconnaissance de l’Etat de Palestine, par la prochaine assemblée générale de l’ONU, en septembre. Croyez-vous que le moment soit venu de proclamer l’Etat Palestinien ? [1]

Oui. Raison de plus pour que Israël et les Etats-Unis fassent le premier pas. S’ils devaient être les derniers, ce serait une honte. Le premier ministre [de l’Autorité palestinienne], Salam Fayyad, travaille avec discrétion et efficacité pour que les institutions palestiniennes soient prêtes, le moment venu, en septembre.

Vous semblez certain que cela se fera en septembre.

Nous espérons tous ce vote de l’ONU. L’occupation est odieuse. Je dis souvent qu’elle fait du mal à l’occupé et à l’occupant, aux Palestiniens comme à Israël. Je demande à Israël, d’avoir cet acte de courage, de reconnaître l’Etat de Palestine, s’il veut donner l’image d’un pays démocratique. Je dis à Israël, n’attendez pas plus longtemps. Sinon, ce sera pire pour vous et pour les autres.

Dans quelles frontières l’Etat Palestinien sera-t-il créé ?

Pour les Palestiniens, ce sont celles de 1967. Mais je crois que des retouches vont être faites, notamment pour les réfugiés.

Les Palestiniens seraient-ils d’accord pour un compromis sur la question des réfugiés ?

Je pense que oui. Les réfugiés qui ont droit au retour, ont aussi le droit de choisir. Je ne pense pas qu’un réfugié palestinien qui vit aujourd’hui au Canada, bien installé avec sa famille et dans son travail, choisirait de revenir. Il y a le droit du retour et le choix du retour.

Croyez-vous que le Hamas soit d’accord pour qu’un compromis soit négocié entre l’Autorité Palestinienne et le gouvernement israélien ?

Je ne peux parler au nom du Hamas, mais dans tout Etat et dans tout gouvernement, il existe des oppositions, des voix non concordantes. En Israël par exemple, il y a le Shass, qui est un parti d’opposition radical. Les Palestiniens, les Israéliens et la communauté internationale ne doivent pas laisser le dernier mot aux radicaux de quelque côté qu’ils soient.

Les révolutions en cours dans le monde arabe ont-elles une influence sur la question palestinienne ?

Absolument. Elles résonnent comme un appel. On ne peut pas attendre d’être débordé par les masses. Il est temps de franchir ce pas et de créer l’Etat Palestinien. C’est absolument nécessaire.

( / 23.04.2011)