Speeches Followed by more Settlements [May 22 – May 28]

As Palestinians and Israelis continue to mull over the speeches of US President Barack Obama and the subsequent speeches of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before AIPAC and then the US Congress, Israeli authorities on the ground continue with their own agenda of settlement building in Palestine.

On May 27, several high level Israeli officials attended a “dedication ceremony” for an east Jerusalem settlement, Ma’aleh Zeitim. Palestinians and Israeli activists flocked to the scene to protest, after which police threw stun grenades and arrested at least six Israelis.

Earlier in the week, on May 22, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved the construction of 294 new homes in the West Bank settlement of Beitar Ilit, according to Peace Now. Barak also approved building homes for the elderly and a shopping center in the illegal settlement of Efrat.

The settlement expansion comes after both President Obama and Netanyahu addressed AIPAC on May 22, the former to smooth over any tensions that his May 19 speech may have caused and the latter to further entrench his right-wing policies for Israel. Obama took the opportunity to clarify his position on the now-controversial 1967 borders reference.

“By definition, it means that the parties themselves – Israelis and Palestinians – will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967,” the US president said. “It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years. It allows the parties themselves to take account of those changes, including the new demographic realities on the ground, and the needs of both sides.”

In his speech, Obama mentioned Israel’s security 23 times. He did not mention Palestine’s once. In his May 19 speech and his address to AIPAC, Obama also called the recent Palestinian reconciliation deal a major obstacle to peace. President Abbas rejected Obama’s statement saying on May 22, “Hamas is part of Palestinian society,” he said.

Then on May 24, while Obama was on a European tour, Netanyahu received 25 standing ovations in a speech before the US Congress. In it, he outlined his so-called peace plan: no to a return of refugees to their homes, no to a divided Jerusalem, and no to a withdrawal to the 1967 borders, which he said were “indefensible lines”, a particular jab at Obama’s earlier speech.

President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed Netanyahu’s vision of “peace”, saying his speech contained “nothing we can build on.” As for Obama’s speech, while the Palestinians had their reservations, the leadership also said that that PLO would return to negotiations if Israel agreed to the principles the US leader outlined. If not, they warned, the Palestinians would head to the UN in September.

On that note, pressure from Israel and the United States continued on the Palestinians to abort their quest for statehood within the corridors of the United Nations. Obama said on May 24 he thought it would be wrong for the Palestinians to pursue UN recognition instead of peace talks with Israel. “For the Palestinians to take the United Nations route rather than the path of sitting down and talking with the Israelis is a mistake,” he said.

While President Obama and Netanyahu both warned against the Palestinians’ diplomatic maneuver, Abbas said on May 27 that the leadership would have no other choice if negotiations are not resumed. “We will review … the steps we will take — persisting with negotiations as the fundamental way to achieving a resolution,” Abbas said. “If we fail in reaching this solution, then we confirm that we will go to the United Nations,” he said during his trip to Doha, Qatar for a meeting of Arab states in order to discuss Obama’s speech and ways to revive the peace process in addition to Netanyahu’s negative response to it.

The UN had something to say about the subject as well. On May 27, president of the United Nations General Assembly said there is no way a Palestinian state could become a member of the United Nations without a recommendation from the Security Council.

Joseph Deiss said if the United States or any other permanent council member used its veto, the General Assembly would not be able to vote on membership for Palestine. A US veto is, of course, what everyone is expecting should the proposal go to vote. Palestinians need two-thirds of the 192-body to take the vote to the Security Council, which the Palestinians are confident they will receive.

On May 26, G8 countries meeting in France said they supported President Obama’s initiative on establishing a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.

One border seems to be easing up. On May 25, Egyptian authorities said they would open the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza on a daily basis as a way to ease the Israeli blockade on the Strip.

The measure is to go into force on May 28 and will be opened for eight hours a day. In order to allay Israeli fears, Egypt explained that the Rafah crossing would not be used to transfer goods, and that restrictions would be imposed on the movement of individuals.

The announcement was welcomed by Palestinians in the Strip and the Hamas movement in charge. Even the United States was reassuring, saying on May 26 that it was confident Egypt would provide adequate gate-keeping at the crossing to Gaza.

In its constant bid to protect Israeli security, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the U.S. had “some concerns” about increasing the movement of more people to and from the Strip, but added the Egyptians were “well aware” of them.

“We obviously support efforts to meet the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people in Gaza, but those efforts should also ensure that the transfer of weapons or other material or financial support for terrorism is blocked,” Toner said.

“We also believe that the Egyptians are fully aware of and capable of providing that kind of security.”

Meanwhile, consultations are underway to choose ministers for the new transitional government. According to Fateh Central Committee member Nabil Shaath on May 27 the government will be formed in 10 days time with ministers who are neither from Fateh nor Hamas but are independent technocrats.

Finally, in a bid to avoid another bloody episode, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called “on all governments” in the region on May 27 to try and stop any new flotilla of ships planning to break the blockade on Gaza. Ban said all governments concerned should use their influence to discourage such flotillas, “which carry the potential to escalate into violent conflict.”

The UN chief was referring to the May 2010 Turkish flotilla that tried to break the siege, which resulted in a sea raid on the ships by Israeli navy forces that killed nine Turkish citizens.

(www.miftah.org / 28.05.2011)

Egypt to Open Gaza Terminal Permanently

CAIRO – Egypt will open the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip permanently on Saturday, May 28, in a move that will significantly ease the years-long Israeli blockade on the impoverished Palestinian territory.

“Egyptian authorities have decided to extend the working hours at the Rafah border crossing starting from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on a daily basis, except for Fridays and official holidays, starting on Saturday, May 28,” the state MENA news agency said.

The decision came as “part of Egyptian efforts to end divisions among Palestinians and to finalize their reconciliation”, the agency said.

Egyptian authorities have also decided to allow all Palestinian men over the age of 40 and those under the age of 18 to travel to Egypt from anywhere in the world without a visa.

Women of all ages will be exempt from visas. Students of all ages with letters of acceptance from Egyptian universities will also be allowed to enter Egypt without any restrictions.

The move suggested a further policy shift in Egypt since the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak, whose government faced domestic accusations of collaborating with Israel in enforcing the blockade on Gaza, according to Reuters.

Under Mubarak, Egypt only sporadically opened up the Rafah border crossing for food and medicine, or to let through people, mainly those seeking medical treatment or travelling to study from the area which is home to about 1.5 million Palestinians.

Egypt brokered a reconciliation deal earlier this month between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah group and its Hamas rivals that ended a four-year rift.

Under the deal, a government of technocrats will be formed to prepare for elections within a year.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Menha Bakhoum said Egypt had not consulted any foreign country over the decision, which she said was made before the reconciliation accord was reached.

“This is a sovereign Egyptian decision in the first place,” she told Al-Jazeera by telephone.

Asked if European observers, who were based at the Palestinian side of the crossing before it was closed in 2007 when Hamas seized the Gaza Strip from Abbas’s Fatah group, would return, she said: “We don’t know.”

She said the Egyptian decision was intended to “ease the suffering of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip”.

Angry Israel

The Egyptian decision won plaudits from Hamas, which described it as “an important move for the entry and exit of Palestinian citizens”.

“We hope it will be developed to enable the Rafah crossing to handle goods in the future,” Hamas spokesman Taher Al-Nono told Al-Jazeera television.

A separate statement by the Islamic group hailed the move and said it “reflects the spirit of revolution in Egypt and the depth of brotherhood between the Palestinian people and the Egyptian people.”

Egypt “has returned itself to its original role in the Palestinian matter,” said the statement cited by The Jerusalem Post.

“This decision reflects the spirit of revolution in Egypt and the depth of brotherhood between the Palestinian people and the Egyptian people, which has returned itself to its original role in the Palestinian matter.”

But the Egyptian decision drew angry reaction from Israel.

Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said Egypt’s decision “symbolizes the first stage of a very problematic system for Israel.”

Yet, Vilnai emphasized that the new regime in Egypt did not breach its 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

(www.onislam.net / 28.05.2011)

Brusselse betogers ondersteunen Syrische revolutie

Zo’n 280 mensen hebben zaterdagnamiddag in de Franklin Rooseveltlaan in Brussel deelgenomen aan een mars ter ondersteuning van de Syrische revolutie. De manifestatie verliep zonder incidenten.

De mars begon rond 17 uur voor de Syrische ambassade, en werd rond 20 uur afgerond voor de ambassade van Iran.

Bedoeling was de steun te onderstrepen van de Syriërs in België en van de opposanten van het regime in Iran voor de revolutie die zich momenteel afspeelt in Syrië. ‘Iran steunt nog altijd het regime in Syrië’, aldus organisatrice Bernadette Zuylen. ‘De mars van de ambassade van Syrië naar die van Iran was dus zeer symbolisch.’

De mars was georganiseerd door het Syrisch comité in België. Enkele tientallen Syriërs uit Duitsland waren speciaal voor de gelegenheid naar Brussel gekomen.

(www.nieuwsblad.be / 28.05.2011)

Palestinian United Nations Statement: Women’s Rights Under Israeli Occupation

June 3, 2010 in Palestinian National Authority, State of Israel, United Nations

United Nations Commission on the Status of Women

  • 2 pages
  • March 8, 2010

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Before proceeding with our statement, my delegation would like to take this opportunity to extend our appreciation to the Secretary-General for his report concerning the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women (E/CN.612010/4). My delegation considers this report to be very important, especially given the continued perpetration of serious human rights violations by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian civilian population, including Palestinian women, and the consequent deterioration of their socio-economic conditions on the ground. However, having said that, we regret having to put on record our deep concern regarding the troubling trend in the reports of the Secretary-General to the CSW of distorting the context of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. In this regard, there has been a tendency in both previous sessions and the current  session, to portray the prevailing situation as more of a conflict between two equal sides – the Israeli and Palestinian – rather than actually one of a foreign military occupation, wherein there is an occupying Power, bound by clear obligations under international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, and an occupied people, whose most basic and inalienable human rights are being systematically, deliberately and gravely violated and who are entitled to protection under international law. We have sent a letter to the Secretary-General, which is now an official document of this session (E/CN.612010/1 0), highlighting our specific concerns in this regard. We wish to stress that any examination of the situation and developments in this regard must be considered within the overall context of the occupation, which unquestionably impacts all aspects of the situation on the ground and of the humanitarian and socio-eonomic conditions of the Palestinian population under occupation and remains the root cause of this conflict. We believe it is imperative that this trend of
distorting and omitting the context of the situation on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in reports by the United Nations. including those of the Secretary-General, must be rectified in future reports.

Mr. Chairman,

While many of the world’s women continue to advance in a number of fields, Palestinian women and their families are sadly still living under a brutal military occupation that has gravely impeded the normal functioning of society and the ability of its members to develop, advance and progress. Undoubtedly, the toll of Israel’s 43-year-old occupation of the Palestinian Territory on Palestinian women and their families has been vast. It has surely placed a huge burden on women, who struggle daily to ensure the protection and well being of their families while providing their children with a nurturing, secure environment in which to live and grow. Indeed, the formidable and daunting challenges posed by occupation and all of the illegal and brutal policies of the occupying Power make the above an all too difficult, if not impossible, task to realize.

Take a moment to imagine yourself in a day in the life of a Palestinian woman. A life in which she lives in constant terror, fearing for not only her own safety but that of her loved ones, as fighter planes and tanks shell and bomb civilian areas, bringing more death, destruction and trauma to her people and community. A life in which she has been displaced and made homeless because her home- the symbol of safety for her and her family- and all of her life’s belongings are callously demolished to make room for another illegal Israeli settlement built on her land. A life in which she must stand for hours at one of the racist, humiliating checkpoints, waiting for a young Israeli occupying force to decide whether or not to allow her to pass through one of the more than 600 checkpoints as she tries to accomplish the simple task of going food shopping or going to an appointment at the doctor, or even for something more urgent such as the delivery of a newborn. Or a life in which she must watch her children wither from malnutrition, anemia and disease and her family sink deeper into poverty, becoming totally dependent on food aid because of the deliberate and systematic practices and polices of the occupying Power.

(publicintelligence.net / 28.05.2011)

EUROPEAN REVOLUTION 29th MAY–ALL CITIES OF EUROPE

Tijd
zondag 29 mei · 18:00 – 23:30

Locatie
ALL CITIES OF EUROPE- CENTRAL SQUARE

Gemaakt door:

PEOPLE IN EUROPE WAKE UP,
LETS MAKE A BETTER LIFE
LETS TALK ,
LETS MEET,
LETS CHANGE EVERYTHING
LETS DO IT!
“Angelo”

WE CALL FOR REAL DEMOCRACY NOW. We are not a commodity lying in the hands of politicians and bankers. We blame the economic and political forces for our bad situation and demand the necessary change of course.
We call on all citizens, under the motto “Real Democracy NOW.
We are not a commodity lying in the hands of politicians and bankers.” to take to the street to protest. Join us, no matter what political views you have, to make all the people heard as a single voice.
European Peaceful Revolution
Community

WΕ ΑRE PACIFISTS!

The people of Spain responded with no violence to the brutal repression of the police!No violence won and the square of Catalunia in Barcelona is back to the peoples hands!!!!POWER OF NON-VIOLENCE!
We don’t belong to a political group! But we do have a political view because we do not feel represented in the decisions that are being taken by governments around Europe. POWER TO THE PEOPLE NOT THE BANKS
We stand for solidarity!Democracy is our final scope!The basis of Democracy is solidarity!WE STAND FOR SOLIDARITY!

THEY HAVE BLOCK AS TO SENT INVITE TO OURS FRIENDS SO WE HAVE MAKE EUROPEANS REVOLUTION 29TH MAY COMMUNITY JOIN AS THERE

http://www.facebook.com/pages/EURO-REVO/214189615278916
AND SHARE VIA PRIVATE MESSAGE ALL YOUR FRIENDS
THERE WE CAN BE A MILIONS

Here are the city squares http://www.dentnews.net/?p=12594 join us

At a Protest In Cairo, One Group Is Missing

CAIRO — Tens of thousands of mostly liberal protesters again filled Tahrir Square on Friday to press for an assortment of demands in a demonstration billed as “The Revolution Part II, ” but perhaps most notable for the absence of the Muslim Brotherhood.

A view from a balcony as demonstrators, mostly from liberal factions, gathered in Tahrir Square with an assortment of demands.

The protesters called on the military council now ruling Egypt to end the practice of sending civilians to military trials, to expedite legal action against former President Hosni Mubarak and his associates, and to start governing with some civilian presidential council.

But the rally may have been most significant as a display of the liberal factions’ strength in Egyptian politics. It was the first time since the Jan. 25 day of protests that kicked off the revolution that the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest and best-organized political force, did not support a major street protest.

In the emerging battle lines of post-revolutionary Egyptian politics, many liberal activists and observers abroad say they fear that the Brotherhood’s organizational strength will give it an edge in the elections for Parliament this fall, which could, in turn, enable Islamists to put their stamp on Egypt’s Constitution when the new Parliament sets out a process for revising it. “Constitution First,” declared a banner at the center of the square on Friday, expressing the liberal demand for the establishment of rules protecting individual freedoms and minority rights before elections begin.

The Brotherhood, aware of its organizational edge, campaigned hard for a referendum setting the election for this fall. The group, outlawed under Mr. Mubarak, has just moved from small and dingy offices to imposing, gleaming headquarters befitting a modern political party, and its satisfaction with the election timetable may have been a reason it did not support Friday’s protest.

“Where is the Brotherhood? Tahrir is here,” went one chant, referring to the square at the center of the revolution, whose name means “liberation” in Arabic.

“People liked the Brotherhood more under Mubarak because we knew the government attacked them for no reason,” Hossam Eddin Mohamed, 21, said. “But now, after the revolution, people know ‘O.K., there is the Brotherhood, but now there are a lot of other parties too.’ ”

There were also signs that the Brotherhood’s new prominence was bringing its own internal divisions to the fore. The youth wing of the Brotherhood, which is close to many of the young liberal activists, defied their elders to join the demonstration. The Brotherhood youth had also played a key role in the coalition of young activists who began the protests days before their Islamist elders fell in behind them.

Some liberal activists, however, worried that the impact of the demonstration itself might have been dulled by the internal divisions evident in the profusion of miscellaneous demands. Many speakers and signs called for goals that included economic measures like an increase in the minimum wage, and long-term political reforms like ensuring the independence of the judiciary.

In a statement on Thursday, Egypt’s military affirmed the right to peaceful protest and said its forces would stay away from the square, suggesting that some groups might be seeking to prompt a confrontation.

(www.nytimes.com / 28.05.2011)

Europeans call to end Israel’s occupation

A group of about 26 former European leaders called on the European Union, to back a Palestinian state and put an end to Israel’s occupation, Haaretz reported

The group sent a letter calling for measures to be taken against Israel because of its settlement policy and refusal to abide by international law, the newspaper said Friday.

The document supports recent decisions made by South American countries to recognize a Palestinian state within 1967 borders, Haaretz said.

The officials called for a freeze on any EU decision to upgrade relations with Israel or enter bilateral agreements until the country halts all its settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the report said.

The group also proposes the EU announce it will not accept any unilateral changes to the 1967 border that Israel established against international law, and that the Palestinian state would cover an area the same size as the area occupied in 1967 and its capital will be East Jerusalem, the newspaper said.

Among the officials who signed the letter were former German President Richard von Weizsacker, former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzales, former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi and former Irish President Mary Robinson.

(www.middleeastwarpeace.info / 28.05.2011)

What Opening Rafah Means & Doesn’t Mean

The newswas welcomed by many around the world this week when reports about a decision taken by Egypt’s current military government to open the Rafah crossing with Gaza surfaced. But what does the opening of Rafah mean? There will undoubtedly be those trying to proclaim that life is on the up and up in Gaza now and that the siege is over. But Gaza and the siege that entraps it is immensely complicated. Ignoring the nuances of this policy and thinking that Gaza is equivalent to a solid black box that just had its lid opened is entirely misleading. It is important, especially as the anniversary of the attack on the Mavi Marmara approaches, to understand what the opening of Rafah means and does not mean, and to redouble our efforts to raise awareness about, and challenge, the continued Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip.

What the Opening of Rafah Does Not Mean: The siege is over.
The siege of the Gaza Strip is a multi-layered closure with many dimensions. Several closure policies contribute to the siege effect, and the opening of Rafah is unlikely to have a major impact on the overall effect simply because the remaining closure policies, enforced by Israel, are not changing.
First, what exactly is the Rafah Crossing? Rafah is a Palestinian town in the Gaza Strip which straddles the border with Egypt. A terminal at the border exists to facilitate the travel of people across the border, but Rafah is not designed as a crossing for supplies. The opening of Rafah, while it may allow for people in Gaza to exit (with the permission of Egypt still required of course), has little effect on the actual quantity of goods coming in and out of Gaza.
The other layers of Siege

The Other Crossings: For logistical, historical and infrastructural reasons, other crossing points into Gaza are ideal for the entry of commercial or humanitarian goods. Using data from the UN Office for the Coordinate of Humanitarian Affairs, which keeps track of what is allowed into Gaza, when and through which entry, we can see a stark contrast between the different crossings. Aggregate data from June 19, 2007 through May 19, 2011 presented in this pie chart exposes just how few goods come through the Rafah crossing.
But this chart also doesn’t tell the whole story. Today, most of these crossing have been closed, and in fact, thus far in 2011 95% of trucks that were permitted entry to Gaza came through the Kerem Shalom crossing. Israel has, over time, practically shutdown all other crossings.
Israel’s multi-decade occupation of Gaza, and Gaza’s history as an integral part of historic Palestine for millenia, created infrastructure and logistical realities which make supplying it from the north far more easy than the south. The population density of Israel/Palestine over time has always been greater than that of Egypt’s Sinai, meaning resources would be centrally located in the middle of historic Palestine and distributed naturally to its perimeter.
By retaining total control over the other crossings, Israel is still able to maintain its siege policy to practically the same exact extent as before the opening of Rafah. Unless Egypt and Palestine completely revamp the Rafah crossing and the infrastructure around it on both sides of the border, this is unlikely to change. Also, such changes are highly unlikely for both political and economic considerations. It is simply not a cost effective investment to bring supplies to Gaza in a roundabout fashion when the land it has always been economically integrated into is to its north. Further, separating Gaza from historic Palestine, in anyway, is a political minefield because of its potential implications to the struggle for Palestinian self-determination.
Electricity and Water: For many of the same reasons explained above, Gaza is overwhelmingly dependent on Israel when it comes to electricity. This 2010 special focus report from UN OCHA states “the Gaza Strip’s needs range between 240 and 280 megawats (MW), of which at least 42 percent is purchased from Israel, distributed in separate feeder lines along the Gaza Strip, and six to seven percent is purchased from Egypt, distributed mainly to the Rafah area
It explains the genesis of the electricity problem well:

The shortage of electricity in the Gaza Strip dates back to June 2006, when the Israeli Air Force destroyed all six transformers at the GPP during an air strike. Five months later, the power plant resumed production, but at a significantly reduced level; producing around 65 MW (out of 80MW of potential capacity), compared to 118MW at peak production (out of 140 MW of potential capacity) prior to the bombardment.

Israel’s imposition of a blockade on the Gaza Strip in June 2007, following the Hamas take-over, further tightened existing restrictions on imports of spare parts, equipment, consumables and industrial fuel required for the operation of the power plant and the electricity network.. As a result, there has been a chronic shortfall in the GPP’s level of electricity production. Since January 2010, the daily electricity deficit has increased further, following the expiration of the European Commission’s direct subsidy to the fuel purchase for the GPP. Since this time, the power plant has twice had to shut down completely, due to lack of fuel. The plant now operates using one turbine, producing only 30 MW of electricity, compared to its average production of 60-65 MW in 2009.

Israel’s control over the vast majority of electricity generated outside of Gaza, and their ability to deny the sustainable development of electricity generation inside Gaza by preventing the materials necessary for bringing the power-plant up to capacity, gives them effective light-switch control over Gaza.
Electricity has a direct impact on the issue of clean water as well. Amnesty International reports that 90-95 percent of the drinking water in Gaza is contaminated and unfit for consumption. The United Nations even found that bottled water in Gaza contained contaminants, likely due to the plastic bottles recycled in dysfunctional factories. The lack of sufficient power for desalination and sewage facilities results in significant amounts of sewage seeping into Gaza’s coastal aquifer–the main source of water for the people of Gaza.

The Blockade: People often use the words blockade and siege interchangeably and this is simply inaccurate. The blockade of Gaza is enforced by the Israeli navy off the coast of Gaza and in Gaza’s territorial waters. The siege is a combination of restrictive and punitive policies which includes the blockade, but also some of the other issues discussed above. The blockade itself, however, has a specific but equally devastating impact on Gaza, its people and its economy. For Gaza’s fishing industry in particular this has been destructive. Israel enforces it’s illegal naval blockade at the 3-nautical mile mark (most of the fish native to Gaza’s territorial water’s are beyond this mark) and when Gaza’s fisherman get too close, they get shot. In fact, three fisherman were injured just this morning when Israeli naval boats fired on them.
While Israel argues its blockade is to keep weapons out of Gaza, it has yet to provide an explanation as to why it is shooting Palestinian fisherman coming from Gaza on dinghies. The effects of this have been so severe, that a coastal territory with a rich seafaring history farms fish on land and imports fresh fish now from Israel. Needless to say, the opening of the Rafah crossing will have little impact on this aspect of the siege.
What the Opening of Rafah Does Mean: The Closing of A Dark Chapter in Egypt’s History

The siege of the Gaza Strip is a disgraceful policy that collectively punishes civilians in direct opposition to international humanitarian law and is an ugly scar on the conscience of the international community. Egypt, sadly, played an undeniable roll in this policy under the Mubarak regime despite the fact that most Egyptians vehemently disagreed with this policy. While the Egyptian closure of Rafah was a minor contributor to the overall effects of the siege compared to Israeli restrictions, Mubarak regime complicity was viewed as treacherous in the eyes of most in the Arab and Muslim world. Most Palestinians and frankly most people around the world knew that the people of Egypt did not agree with what the government of Egypt was doing. Any who doubted this were thoroughly convinced after January 25th, 2011.
However, the extent to which this truly is the end of a dark chapter in Egyptian history will be determined by what kind of role the new Egypt will play toward Gaza, and whether the opening of Rafah is the first or last step it takes toward breaking the Israeli-led policy of siege. Making sure Palestinians in Gaza can travel freely in and out of the newly opened Rafah crossing, without discriminatory visa and security-check delays which have debilitated travel in the past, would be an immensely important next step in the right direction.
(blog.thejerusalemfund.org / 28.05.2011)

Nato Forces Confirm Gaddafi Compound Attack

Nato forces including RAF Typhoons have carried out air strikes on Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s compound in the capital, Tripoli.

The explosions followed a fifth straight night of air strikes and signal a possible switch in tactics by the forces trying to end Colonel Gaddafi’s 41-year reign.

“RAF Typhoons, along with other Nato aircraft, last night used precision-guided weapons to bring down guard towers along the walls of Colonel Gaddafi’s Bab Al Aziziyah complex in the centre of Tripoli,” said Chief of the Defence Staff Strategic Communications Officer, said Major General John Lorimer.

“For decades, Colonel Gaddafi has hidden from the Libyan people behind these walls, spreading terror and crushing opposition.

“The massive compound has not just been his home, but is also a major military barracks and headquarters, and lies at the heart of his network of secret police and intelligence agencies.

“Previous Nato attacks have hit command and control and other military facilities within the complex.

“Last night’s action sends a powerful message to the regime’s leadership and to those involved in delivering Colonel Gaddafi’s attacks on civilians that that they are no longer hidden away from the Libyan people behind high walls.

“The air mission was conducted as part of Nato’s Operation Unified Protector, to protect Libyan civilians under threat of attack and enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.”

It has also been confirmed that blasts heard this morning targeted the complex.

Sky News correspondent Lisa Holland, reporting from the city, said she had heard the bombs hit somewhere near the centre.

“It’s the first time, as far as I’m aware, that we’ve had a day-time explosion here in Tripoli. Air strikes previously have been at night.”

Libyan state television and Arab news channel Al Arabiya said Nato raids also caused “human and material” damage near Mizda, to the south.

Nato is poised to deploy attack helicopters over Libya for the first time, with British Apaches joining in the offensive.

The decision to deploy comes as the international community tries to intensify pressure on Colonel Gaddafi to give up power.

Russia, too, for the first time, has joined Western calls for the dictator to step down.

(uk.news.yahoo.com /28.05.2011)

Honderden Syriërs komen op straat tegen dood gefolterde jongen

Honderden Syriërs zijn zaterdag in Deraa de straat op getrokken om te protesteren tegen de dood van een 13-jarige jongen. Volgens de activisten is de jongen door de veiligheidsdiensten van het regime omgebracht. Enkele familieleden van het slachtoffer zouden zaterdag ook gearresteerd zijn.

Het lichaam van Hamza al-Kahtib is een maand na zijn verdwijning eindelijk weer naar de familie teruggebracht. Video’s op het internet tonen verontrustende beelden van zijn lichaam, dat sporen draagt van fysiek geweld. Volgens de demonstranten gaat het om brandwonden en andere verwondingen, die tonen ‘dat hij gemarteld is door een van de Syrische veiligheidstakken’.

Ook in Arbeen verlieten honderden mensen opnieuw hun huizen. Ze namen deel aan een begrafenisstoet voor een manifestant die vrijdag om het leven kwam.

(www.nieuwsblad.be / 28.05.2011)