Medicines for Gaza stuck at Israeli crossing

Medicines for Gaza stuck at Israeli crossing 

Gaza’s medicine shortage has reached “alarming proportions,” international aid group Oxfam said Friday, quoting medical officials saying that drugs were held up at Israel’s crossing into Gaza.

Shifa Hospital in Gaza City has only five vials left to dissolve blood clots, the director of Gaza’s Central Drug Store told Oxfam, and kidney transplant patients are at risk of rejected organs due to drug shortages, a release from the international organization said.

“Can you imagine after going through all the hardships to find a compatible kidney, having it rejected because drugs did not enter Gaza?” Dr Mohammed Zamili said, noting that deliveries from the Ministry of Health in Ramallah were not meeting the huge shortage of medicines.

“There are also some trucks held up at the Kerem Shalom crossing and we don’t know exactly what’s in them,” he added.

Oxfam said that drug suppliers in the West Bank have held back medical supplies after the Ramallah government defaulted on payments, and the West Bank was also facing a shortage of 150 drugs.

In Gaza “a total of 178 types of medications and 123 types of medical supplies have already run out and others have reached their expiration date,” according to an Oxfam report last week.

A delivery of 20 truckloads of medicines from the Ramallah ministry in the past week was “nothing next to the enormous shortage we’re facing,” Zamili said.

On Saturday, the Ramallah Health Minister Fathi Abu Moghli accused the Hamas health ministry in Gaza of trying “to politicize the health sector” by blaming the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority for the shortages.

The Gaza ministry threatened to close hospitals and clinics “to disturb the reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah,” Abu Moghli said.

But the medical supply chief urged attention to those in need. “Patients are the ones suffering from all this,” Zamili said.

( / 24.06.2011)

Taunting and Abusing in Islam is prohibited

Muslims should neither curse nor imprecate each other with words such as, ‘May the Curse of Allah be upon you,’ or ‘I wish you to burn in Hell-fire,’ etc.Narrated Samurah Ibn Jundub (radhi allahu anhu), ‘Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam) said,

‘Do not curse one another, invoking curse of Allah or Wrath of Allah or the fire of Hell’ [Abu Dawood, at-Tirmidhee]

To curse a Muslim is akin to killing him. Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam) said, Cursing a believer is like murdering him.’ [Agreed upon]

The act of cursing is such that one who does it can himself become a recipient of it.

Narrated Abu Darda (radhi allahu anhu),

Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam) said, When a person curses (La’nah; to ask that something be deprived of Allah’s Mercy) somebody or something, the curse goes up to the heaven and the gates of the heaven are closed. Then it comes down to the earth and its gates are closed. Then it turns right and left, and if it does not find an entrance to go anywhere, it returns to the person or thing that was cursed, if he or it deserves to be cursed; otherwise, it returns to the person, who uttered it.’ [Abu Dawood] Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam) also warned, ‘Those who frequently resort to cursing would neither be accepted as witnesses nor as intercessors on the Day of Resurrection’ [Saheeh Muslim]

It is not allowed to curse, disgrace or humiliate even a sinner because in doing so, one helps the Shaytan, who is avowed to disgrace and humiliate Muslims before Allah. Narrated Abu Hurayrah (radhi allahu anhu), ‘A drunkard was brought to the Prophet (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam). He (r) said, ‘Give him a beating.’ Then some beat him with their hands, some with their shoes, and some with (a folded) piece of cloth. When he left, someone said to him, ‘May Allah disgrace you!‘ The Prophet (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam) said, ‘Do not help

Shaytan overcome him by uttering such words’ [Saheeh al-Bukharee]

Moreover, it is incorrect to curse a sinner because perhaps, the person may have sought Istagfar (seek forgiveness for one’s sins) and Allah, the All-Forgiving, may have forgiven the person for his transgression. It is related in Saheeh Muslim that during the time of Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam), when a woman was being punished for the sin of adultery, her blood spurted upon Khalid Ibn Waleed (radhi allahu anhu), who swore at her. Thereupon, the Prophet (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam) said, ‘Khalid, be gentle. By Him, in Whose Hand is my life, she has made such a repentance that even if a wrongful tax collector were to repent, he would have been forgiven.’ He (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam) then prayed over her and she was buried. Therefore, the right conduct would be to pray for his or her guidance and refrain from any critique, cursing or humiliation.

Even the deceased Muslims should not be censured or condemned for their wrongdoings, for, they have reached their end and they are receiving the return of their deeds in the Hereafter. Aa’isha (radhi allahu anha) narrated, ‘The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam) said, ‘Do not abuse the dead, because they have attained that which they had forwarded (i.e., their deeds, good or bad).’ [Saheeh al-Bukharee]

Taunting is prohibited

Taunting is to insult, reproach mockingly or disgrace someone, for e.g. with reference to his lineage, appearance or shortcoming. Narrated Ibn Mas’ood (radhi allahu anhu), ‘Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam) said,

‘A true believer is not involved in taunting, or frequently cursing or in indecency or abusing.” [At-Tirmidhee]

Abusing is prohibited

Narrated Abu Hurayrah (radhi allahu anhu), ‘Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam) said,

‘When two persons indulge in abusing each other, the beginner will be the sinner, so long, as the oppressed does not transgress the limits.’ [Saheeh Muslim]

This Hadeeth tells us that if a Muslim abuses another and says unfair things about him and in return, the recipient also abuses him and says unfair things to the same extent, then the entire burden of the sin of abusing lies upon the person who initiated the quarrel. However, if the one, who is wronged, exceeds the limits in revenge, then he will also be guilty to the degree of his excess. Thus, even though, revenge is permissible, it is better to forgive and be patient

( Facebook / Lisa Calhoun 24.06.2011)

Syrian Crisis Warms Turkey-Israel Ties

Unrest in Syria is triggering early signs of a thaw in relations between Israel and Turkey, as Ankara adapts its assertive foreign policy to meet fallout from the Arab Spring, diplomats and analysts said.

In the latest sign Friday, Turkish newspapers published an interview with Israel’s hard-line Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon in which he called for reconciliation with Ankara and praised Turkey’s Syria policy, appealing to a common interest in the stability of a country both Israel and Turkey border.

“The leadership demonstrated by Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan over the issue of Syria was very, very encouraging. This should be noticed and appreciated in the region,” said Mr. Ayalon, who became infamous in Turkey after he humiliated Ankara’s ambassador on camera last year.

Mr. Ayalon’s comments followed surprisingly warm letters of congratulation to Mr. Erdogan for his June 12 re-election, from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli Knesset.

Turkey, for its part, pressed a Turkish charity not to send the Mavi Marmara, the Gaza-bound aid ship on which Israeli commandos last year killed nine passengers, for a repeat voyage later this month.

That is a significant change from a year ago, when Turkey’s relations with Israel and then the U.S. chilled in the wake of the Mavi Marmara clash and Ankara’s decision to vote against a U.S.-backed resolution to impose new United Nations Security Council sanctions on Iran.

It also appears Syria’s crackdown has pushed Ankara and Washington into closer cooperation. U.S. officials said Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan and President Barack Obama have discussed Syria twice by phone during the recent crisis and have developed a similar view on how to handle President Bashar al-Assad. U.S. officials said Washington in many ways is now following Ankara’s lead on Syria, as Turkey tries to persuade the regime to change, but not necessarily to leave power.

The State Department doesn’t believe it can pass any significant sanctions on Damascus through the United Nations Security Council, due to opposition from China and Russia.

“We have been cautious and, of course, we have interests—economic in Libya and very direct interests in Syria. We have to continue relations with the various regimes,” said a senior Turkish diplomat.

Turkey and Israel remain at odds, however, over the Palestinian issue. And Ankara still maintains its goal of extending its influence in the region, diplomats and analysts said.

On Friday, Mr. Erdogan called Israel’s treatment of Gaza “inhumane” at a news conference in Ankara with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He also pledged to support Mr. Abbas’s bid to secure UN recognition in September—a move Israel and the U.S. oppose.

An Israeli diplomat acknowledged that relations with Ankara remain difficult.

“There are things going on behind the scenes, but when it comes to heads- of-state meetings, we are not there. It is more quiet diplomacy,” he said.

( / 24.06.2011)

Palestinian arrested after being hit by Israeli jeep in Silwan

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained a young Palestinian from Silwan after hitting him with a military Jeep.

Local witnesses said the Israeli military detained Ali Sabri Abu Diab, 15, from Silwan, for unknown reasons.

Israeli forces also raided a solidarity sit-in tent in Silwan after Friday noon prayers which caused tension leading to confrontations between the police and citizens, locals said.

No Israeli spokesperson was available for comment.

The tent is part of the popular struggle against housing demolitions and forced displacement in East Jerusalem.

Silwan is a frequent flashpoint for confrontations due to the presence of Israeli settlers who have displaced Palestinian Jerusalemites from their homes.

Settlers receive Israeli government support and protection.

East Jerusalem has been occupied by Israel since 1967.

( / 24.06.2011)

Law of the jungle


Israeli settlers continue to attack Palestinians with impunity, while the Israeli police or army either ignore incidents of violence or abet them, writes Saleh Al-Naami

June 23, 2011

Despite the cold in this mountainous region, a group of young men gathered on the outskirts of the town of Al-Moghayer east of Ramallah in the centre of the West Bank. These youth are intent on preventing Jewish settlers from burning the town mosque again after they set it ablaze for the first time three weeks ago. Threats by settlers that they will continue these attacks moved the group of youth to risk their lives and volunteer to foil the settler plots.

If conditions were normal, there would be no need for these young men to risk their lives. The arsonists belong to an organisation that is well known to Israeli security agencies, namely the “Boys from the Hills”, which Israeli media calls the “thugs wing” of Jewish settlers in the West Bank. This is the seventh mosque that this group has torched in the West Bank, but neither the Israeli police nor the army has arrested any members of this known group.

Other indicators of blatant collusion by Israeli security agencies were uncovered by Israeli television recently, namely that the Israeli police have information that members of the group have burned down mosques and intend on setting more on fire based on a religious edict by Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, the director of Youssef Hai Religious School near Nablus. Nonetheless, the rabbi was not arrested or held accountable. Also it was revealed that the Israeli Ministry of Education grants the private schools headed by Shapira more than $200,000 annually, although the curricula being taught there is based on religious heritage as interpreted by Shapira, while all the students and graduates at these schools belong to the Boys from the Hills gang.

Israeli security agencies, especially the police, ignore complaints by Palestinians who are attacked by the Boys from the Hills and other Jewish groups. As well as torching mosques, the Boys from the Hills also attack Palestinian villages, and Palestinian villagers complain that gang members poison water wells in Palestinian villages and towns. In order to damage agricultural crops, they release herds of pigs to roam the fields and pollute water sources in rural areas.

Reports by Israeli human rights groups point a finger directly at Israeli security agencies for providing an environment conducive to violating the rights of Palestinian citizens in the occupied territories, and encouraging settlers to attack them. “Lately, the state of Israel has been aiding settlers who relentlessly attack Palestinians in the occupied territories,” wrote Boaz Okon, an Israeli human rights activist, in Yediot Aharonot. Okon described the way law and judicial agencies handle attacks on Palestinian civilians as judicial “apartheid”, stating that Israeli conduct towards the Palestinians reminds him of the actions of European settlers towards black slaves in bygone eras.

Meron Benvenisti, an Israeli thinker, accused the Israeli army of becoming mere “armed militia cronies to Jewish settlers”. In an article published in Haaretz newspaper, Benvenisti — who previously served as deputy mayor of occupied Jerusalem — said that at a time when Jewish settlers enjoy all their rights, including being defended by the Israeli army, the Palestinians do not enjoy this privilege although international law obligates Israel to defend people who are under its occupation.

Criticism of the army and police and their role in encouraging settlers to attack Palestinians is spreading, including among prominent reserve army generals who have criticised the army and its complicity. General Shlomo Gazit, who previously headed the army’s intelligence unit, stated in an article published in Maariv newspaper that the Israeli army deals with animals in a better manner than it does the Palestinians.

Israeli human rights groups have revealed that Israeli judicial and police agencies exercise blatant discrimination between Palestinians and Jewish settlers, in a way that promotes continued attacks on Palestinians. According to a report by the Israeli group “�There is Law”, some 99.7 per cent of charges against Palestinians in Israeli military tribunals result in guilty verdicts. Meanwhile, only 10 per cent of complaints by Palestinian citizens in the West Bank filed with Israeli police about attacks by Jewish settlers result in charges against perpetrators. Some 90 per cent of these complaints conclude without any charges.

“The manner by which Israeli police and judicial agencies handle Palestinian complaints about acts of violence by settlers against them is essentially negligent, indifferent and unprofessional,” according to the report. It added that during the first 11 months of last year, the police investigated 299 reports of violence by settlers against Palestinians, and a third of the complaints were about attacks against Palestinians, including beatings, shootings, use of non-firearm weapons, or stone throwing. The report stated that more than 80 per cent of these complaints were closed without charging any settlers.

The document added that altogether about 90 per cent of investigations were closed without filing charges. About 83 per cent were closed because the perpetrator was not found, while seven per cent of complaints were not even investigated because the police officers that were contacted could not find the forms for filing a complaint.

Meanwhile, 96 per cent of reports by Palestinians about settlers uprooting olive groves in the West Bank were closed without charges, and in most cases Palestinians are unable to file complaints against settlers with the Israeli police because there are no Israeli police stations in Palestinian residential areas since they are only located in settlements. The document continued that many times when Palestinians file reports against settlers, members of the police refuse to receive or handle them. Palestinian citizens are also sometimes asked to present documentation that they do not possess, and therefore the complaint is ignored.

The human rights report documented several forms of negligence in handling Palestinian complaints. Some 42 per cent of affidavits by Palestinians were written in Hebrew, which makes it impossible to verify if the police officer wrote down what they said accurately or not. Many times police officers refuse to go to the location where the attack took place, and when they do they do not speak to key eyewitnesses. The report added that in most cases the police do not exert any effort to investigate the identities of Jewish suspects or confront them with the Palestinians who filed the complaint against them.

The report comes on the heels of an admission by General Yuval Bazak, the director of the Combat Theory Development Division in the Israeli army, that the Israeli army assists settlers to commit “crimes” against unarmed Palestinian civilians. In an interview with Yediot Aharonot, Bazak said that the Israeli army has turned a blind eye to the activities of settlers during decades of occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which made settlers believe they are above the law. He stressed that the law being exercised in the West Bank is the law of the jungle, asserting that this belief was nurtured by the unusual relationship between settlers and the army. Bazak revealed that the army does not deal with settlers as if it were an authority responsible for implementing the law, but that the relationship between the two is based on a “close friendship”.

He added that as a result of this “friendship”, the Israeli army has not played its role in thwarting attacks by settlers against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, and that the army has covered up these crimes and has been lenient with the perpetrators.

( / 24.06.2011)

Palestinian Refugees: The Right to Remain, the Right to Return

Once exiled, Palestinians are denied the right to ever return. (Via Aljazeera)
By Samah Sabawi

I was 12 years old when for the first time in my life I became a citizen of a country – Australia. Before that, I was a stateless Palestinian refugee. There were two laments my parents always repeated whenever they spoke of their place of origin Palestine: if only we could have stayed and if only we could return.

According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in 2009 there were more than 10 million refugees around the world in need of assistance. This number does not include the7 million Palestinian refugees, who make up the world’s largest refugee population and whose question is the longest standing at the UN.

The plight of Palestinian refugees began 63 years ago when they were forced out of their homes or fled in fear as the Israeli state established itself on the ruins of their villages and their towns and it has not ended. The fact their issue still stands today, unresolved, is a poignant reminder that states and governments will continue to fail the weak and disenfranchised for the sake of political gains and posturing.

Refugees are by definition powerless, in many cases they are either stateless or have lost the protection of their nation state. They depend on international bodies to rescue them. There are two norms which guide the way the international community deals with refugee issues under the UNHCR, the first is to provide protection and assistance to refugees, and the second is to not return individuals to their own countries against their will or if they are at risk of persecution. However, various human rights conventions have over the years created additional norms that work as guidelines to resolve refugee issues by providing preventative measures to make it possible for people to remain on their land and rather than focusing on resettlement alone, safeguarding the rights of refugees to return to their homes if they choose to.

The concept of ‘preventive protection’ is especially important in the case of Palestinian refugees. The right of individuals and communities to remain in their own country is a principle which rejects the expulsion of ethnic communities or what is now known as ‘ethnic cleansing.’ The U.N. Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities has affirmed “the right of persons to remain in peace in their own homes, on their own lands and in their own countries”. The Turku/Abo Declaration on Minimum Humanitarian Standards also provides in Article 7: 1 “All persons have right to remain in peace in their homes and their places of residence.”

Also Article 7 states : “No person shall be compelled to leave their own country”.

Some in Israel may argue that because Palestinian refugees are not citizens of the state, they have no right to refer to the land from which they come from as ‘their country’. This claim is refuted by a litany of legal and human rights experts, most important of all, it is refuted by the UNHCR which defines the Palestinian population as the indigenous people of the land.

Palestinians who live under Israeli occupation face sever measures aimed to uproot them. One example is the practice of revoking residency rights: Hamoked, an Israeli NGO filed a freedom of information request from the Israeli government and found that over 140,000 Palestinians who left to study or work had their residency rights revoked between 1967 and 1994. They wrote in a statement “The mass withdrawal of residency rights from tens of thousands of West Bank residents, tantamount to permanent exile from their homeland, remains an illegitimate demographic policy and a grave violation of international law.”

Another example of an Israeli policy that is at the heart of the creation of the Palestinian refugee crisis is that of house demolition. An Israeli human rights group called the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) estimates at least 24,813 homes were demolished in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza since 1967, and that according to UN figures, during the 2009 Gaza bombing, more than 4,247 Palestinian homes were destroyed.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) reports that Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes and other buildings reached a record high in March of this year. According to UNRWA, 76 buildings were demolished leading to the displacement of 158 people, including 64 children. UNRWA put the total number of displaced persons in the last six months alone to 333, including 175 children. UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness described the policy as “discrimination against one ethnic group”. These actions are illegal under article 53 of the 4th Geneva Convention and have been roundly criticized by the UN and other international groups, as well as by human rights organisations.

There are various other policies that drive Palestinians out of their homes, especially in Jerusalem where Palestinian neighborhoods are targeted for evictions to make way for Jewish settlers to move in. Once exiled, Palestinians are denied the right to ever return. This is also illegal under international humanitarian law.

The right to return voluntarily and in safety to one’s country of origin or nationality is a right enshrined in the rules of traditional international law and also in Human rights law. The U.N. Security Council has affirmed “the right of refugees and displaced persons to return to their homes”. The Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities has affirmed “the right of refugees and displaced persons to return, in safety and dignity, to their country of origin and or within it, to their place of origin or choice”.

This right is a pillar of international humanitarian law simply because it acknowledges that human beings form attachments to their native land. This is not a case that is unique to Palestinian refugees; it is one shared by indigenous people everywhere. Attachment to the land of one’s origin is a natural human condition and is precisely why these sentiments and emotional ties are protected.

The Palestinian refugee population will continue to grow because we in the international community have failed to find informed appropriate responses to their cries for help. We must intensify our efforts to prevent the increase of the number of Palestinian refugees that Israel uproots from the land and to help the indigenous people maintain their right to remain on the land. We also need to pressure Israel to make a repatriation offer to all the Palestinian refugees and to allow them to practice the right to return to their homes should they so choose. Failing to do so will set a negative precedent and can have an adverse consequence for the millions of other refugees.

– Samah Sabawi is a Palestinian Australian writer, author of Journey to Peace in Palestine and public advocate of Australians for Palestine. She is a policy advisor for Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network. She took part in Refugee Week’s Hebron-Leichhardt Festival of Friendship in Sydney.

( / 24.06.2011)

The racist Facebook rants of Netanayhu’s son

Haaretz’s Uri Blau uncovered today racist comments and extreme right-wing rhetoric on Yair Netanyahu’s Facebook page. Yair, eldest son of PM Netanyahu, is currently in mandatory IDF service, on the army’s spokesperson unit. He called to boycott Arab businesses (he even admined a Facebook group for that, but only 23 members joined him), made racist comments on Muslims and Arabs, and expressed fierce opposition to a Palestinian state.

On the information section of the boycott o group–formed after sectarian clashes between Arabs and Jews in Akko on Yom Kippur two and a half years ago – the young Netanyahu said:

“The Arab sons-of-bitches desecrated our holiest day… it is our duty to do the minimum to save our honor and boycott every Arab business or product. Beside, I boycotted those shits even before.”

A lawyer for the Netanyahu family told Haaretz that the comments were those of a “teenager”, and should be taken as such. He called Haaretz’s article unfair.

About two years ago, aides to Netanyahu also told the press not to think much of other racist comments on Arabs, made two years ago in an interview to Maariv by the PM’s father, 99 years old Ben-Zion Netanyahu:

“The bible finds no worse image than this of the man from the desert. And why? Because he has no respect for any law. Because in the desert he can do as he pleases. The tendency towards conflict is in the essence of the Arab. He is an enemy by essence. His personality won’t allow him any compromise or agreement. It doesn’t matter what kind of resistance he will meet, what price he will pay. His existence is one of perpetuate war.”

Which leaves us wondering: In what age is a member of the Netanyahu clan responsible for his actions?

( / 24.06.2011)

Cyprus bans all sailings to Gaza ahead of flotilla plan

Cyprus said on Thursday it had banned all sailings to Gaza, serving notice to any pro-Palestinian activists who might use the Mediterranean island as a springboard to challenge Israel’s blockade of the territory.

Activists are planning to send an aid flotilla to Gaza from ports around Europe this month, defying warnings from Israel which has tight sea and land border controls around the enclave.

There had been no suggestion that Cyprus would be used for sailings, but the Mediterranean island was the launchpad for earlier voyages to Gaza which started in 2008.

It invoked a ban last year, just before nine Turkish activists were killed in an Israeli raid on an aid convoy which triggered a crisis in already strained relations between Israel and Turkey.

Organizers say a new flotilla of 10 ships would sail for Gaza from ports around Europe on June 25.

Israel has said it will prevent any new aid flotilla approaching Gaza, warning that any challenge could have “dangerous consequences.”

Activists had said in May that about 1,500 people from around 100 countries would participate in the flotilla, carrying humanitarian aid and construction materials to Gaza.

Cyprus’s ban applied to locally and foreign vessels, and to individuals who may attempt to leave Cyprus and embark on a Gaza-bound vessel at sea, the island’s transport ministry said in a statement.

( / 24.06.2011)