Miljoen Syriërs hebben humanitaire hulp nodig

Een massabegrafenis in de stad Duma,

Meer dan 1 miljoen Syriers hebben humanitaire hulp nodig. Dit stelden de VN vandaag na een missie van experts in het Arabische land. De bevolking heeft onder meer voedsel, medische hulp, dekens en onderwijs nodig, aldus een woordvoerder.

Door het politieke geweld in Syrië zijn het afgelopen jaar al meer dan 9000 doden gevallen. Bij nieuwe gevechten vandaag vielen volgens mensenrechtenactivisten zeker 36 doden, voornamelijk burgers.

( / 29.03.2012)

Israeli court orders six-month administrative detention of Sheikh Hadid


AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– The Israeli court of Ofer prison on Wednesday issued a six-month administrative detention against Hamas-affiliated reformer Sheikh Hussein Abu Hadid, aged 65 from Al-Khalil city.

His wife told the Palestinian information center (PIC) that her husband Abu Hadid suffers from a serious medical condition and is fitted with a pacemaker to regulate the function of his heart.

She added her husband was taken to Hadassah hospital after his health seriously declined, but later he was back to Ofer jail.

Sheikh Hussein Abu Hadid was taken prisoner several times by PA and Israeli security apparatuses and he is the father of a Palestinian martyr and two detainees, one in a PA jail and the other held by Israelis.

( / 29.03.2012)

Germany announces aid to Palestine

Germany will give Palestine nearly $93 million this year, and about $53 million of it will go toward development, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said.

BERLIN, March 29 (UPI) — Germany will give Palestine nearly $93 million this year, of which about $53 million will go toward development, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said.

Westerwelle announced the support Wednesday at a German-Palestinian Coordination Council meeting in Berlin, Deutsche Welle reported.

The aid will go toward infrastructure and state institutions as well as a joint technical research program.

The commission was founded in 2010.

“Our aim is a Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution and we support the development of that state not just theoretically, but also practically,” Westerwelle said.

He said Germany supported the Palestinian people and the Palestinian administration in Ramallah.

Palestinian Prime Mnister Salam Fayyad welcomed the German aid and said he’s glad the European Union has supported his creating state institutions and preparing infrastructure for a future state.

But Fayyad called for more international focus on Gaza and the West Bank.

“The reality is in Gaza and on the West Bank, there are 4.5 million Palestinians who live under occupation, and that must end,” Fayyad said. “We have a political conflict. That’s the reality and that’s what one has to deal with.”

Fayyad criticized Israeli settlers’ violence against Palestinians, what he called excessive force by Israeli security forces in dealing with Palestinian demonstrators and growing pressure on Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem.

( / 29.03.2012)

The Global March to Jerusalem, a brave and admirable attempt to awaken the world’s conscience

On March 30th a ground-breaking event will take place. I had not expected it would ever happen when I first heard about it. While teaching at the Summer University of Palestine last July in Beirut, I met a group of Indian Muslims taking the course. They told me they were organising a people’s march to Jerusalem to bring to the world’s attention to Israel’s assault on the city’s history and culture, and its impending loss as a centre for Islam and Christianity. They explained how they and their friends would set out from India, drawing in others to join them as they passed through the various countries on their way overland to Israel’s borders.

Ghada Karmi

They seemed fired up and determined, and I could not but admire their zeal and dedication to try and rescue this orphan city which has been abandoned by all who should have defended her. But I thought their ambitions would be thwarted by the harsh reality of trying to implement their dreams. It would never succeed, I thought, but I was quite wrong. The movement they and their fellow activists spearheaded, called the Global March to Jerusalem (GMJ), is now in its final stages. A distinguished group of 400 advisers, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nobel Laureate, Mairead Maguire, are promoting the GMJ. The marchers will head for Jerusalem or the nearest point possible on March 30th.

This date also commemorates Land Day, a significant anniversary for Palestinians. On that day in 1976 six Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed by Israeli forces. They had participated in a peaceable general strike to protest against Israeli confiscations of privately owned Palestinian land, and paid with their lives for this act of non-violent resistance. Since then this tragic event has been commemorated annually by Palestinians everywhere. Today, it is a fitting reminder of Israel’s other confiscation of Jerusalem’s land, ongoing since 1967.

No one knows the exact numbers of marchers who will make it, but they promise to be large. Land caravans have been traveling for weeks from India, Pakistan and other Asian countries towards the meeting places in the countries bordering Israel. At the same time, marches towards Jerusalem will take place from within the occupied Palestinian territories. “Palestinians and their international supporters will attempt to get as close to Jerusalem as they can, whether at the borders of Lebanon and Jordan, at checkpoints in the West Bank or at the Erez crossing with Gaza”, the organisers have announced.

In tandem with this, solidarity protests and rallies are planned in 64 countries around the world, centred on Israeli embassies in each place. In London a mass rally is planned opposite the Israeli embassy. All the protests aim to be strictly peaceful, bearing in mind Israel’s brutal reaction on Nakba day in 2011, when 13 refugees were killed close to the border with Israel. This time the signs are that the army is preparing to behave similarly. Israel has already warned the neighbouring states they must prevent protestors from reaching the border. Israeli troops have been deployed along the borders with Syria and Lebanon. The Israeli cabinet has met urgently to discuss security arrangements against the marchers at the borders and in the West Bank. In a sign of panic, they have accused Iran and Islamic fundamentalism of being behind the GMJ.

However it turns out on March 30th, it will have been a brave and admirable attempt to awaken the world’s conscience. Jerusalem is unique and irreplaceable, and its pillage and destruction at Israel’s hands ever since 1967 has been tolerated for far too long. Governments, institutions and official bodies have signally failed to halt Israel’s encroachment on the holy city. They must now make way for ordinary citizens to take charge and come to Jerusalem’s aid. That is why the Global March to Jerusalem matters and why it must succeed.

About Ghada Karmi

Ghada Karmi, 72, is a medical doctor and a leading Palestinian activist, academic and writer. She is a research fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic studies at the University of Exeter, Britain, and writes frequently for The Guardian, The Nation and Journal of Palestine Studies. Her books include Married to Another Man: Israel’s Dilemma in Palestine and In Search of Fatima, an autobiographical work about her exile from Palestine. Karmi was born in Jerusalem to a Muslim family and grew up in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Katamon with its mixture of Palestinian Christians and Muslims. As a young girl she and her family were forced to flee in the 1948 Nakba and settled in England. In 1998 she visited her childhood home in Katamon for the first time since 1948. She was one of the first supporters of Global March to Jerusalem and is a member of the Advisory Board.
( / 29.03.2012)

Deal reached to free Hana Shalabi

A Palestinian woman holds a placard depicting Hana Shalabi during a rally in Ramallah, in support of Shalabi and calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails March 20, 2012.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A deal to release Palestinian hunger-striker Hana Shalabi to the Gaza Strip temporarily was reached late Thursday, officials with knowledge of the negotiations told Ma’an.

The officials say Shalabi will be sent to Gaza for three years in exchange for giving up a 43-day strike against Israel’s policy of holding detainees without charge.

The Palestinian prisoners society confirmed the deal in a statement praising Shalabi’s resolve. It expressed its appreciation for her efforts to bring attention to Israel’s policies toward prisoners.

Qadoura Fares of the prisoners society said Shalabi agreed to the deal “in return for ending her strike and being freed. … We reject deportation, but this is her decision and her own life,” Fares said.

Shalabi’s lawyer, Jawwad Boulous, also confirmed the agreement.

According to a high-ranking Palestinian source, the deal was reached after Palestinian officials and the International Committee of the Red Cross intervened to confirm that Shalabi approved.

An Israeli official said: “I am aware there were negotiations of that sort.” The official did not immediately elaborate, Reuters reported.

Israel had previously held Shalabi for 25 months but released her in October under a prisoner swap with Hamas, which controls Gaza.

Israeli authorities say Shalabi remains an active member of Islamic Jihad, but her father, Yehia, said that since the exchange his daughter had not been active in the group.

An Islamic Jihad spokesman, Daoud Shihab, denied knowledge of the deal. If it exists, he said, the agreement would have been made without his group’s involvement as it rejects deportation.

Israel struck a deal last month with Khader Adnan, an Islamic Jihad member, persuading him to end his 66-day strike after assuring him that he would be released in April from his detention without trial.

Human rights groups have condemned Israel’s detention without trial of some 300 Palestinians.

( / 29.03.2012)

Egyptian parties agree on constitution compromise

Members of the panel elected the Islamist speaker of parliament Saad al-Katatni as its head, intensifying a standoff with secularists over the nature of the charter. (Reuters)

Members of the panel elected the Islamist speaker of parliament Saad al-Katatni as its head, intensifying a standoff with secularists over the nature of the charter.

Egyptian political parties reached an agreement on Thursday to boost their representation in a disputed constitutional panel dominated by Islamists, the official MENA news agency reported.

Liberals had withdrawn from the constituent assembly appointed by the Islamist-majority parliament, accusing the fundamentalists of trying to control the process of drafting a new constitution.

At Thursday’s meeting, which had been called for by the ruling military, most of the parties agreed on boosting their representation drawing from a list of reserve candidates to include in the parliament-appointed panel.

The panel, which is evenly divided between parliamentarians and public figures, was elected by parliament which also voted for a number of reserve candidates who could could replace the panelists.

Fourteen parties, including the main Islamist ones, supported the compromise and five opposed, MENA quoted a parliamentarian who attended the meeting as saying.

The lawmaker, Mostafa Bakri, added that the parties agreed the constitution would define the country as “democratic, guided by a constitution and modern, with citizenship and the rule of law as its pillars.”

The constitution is to replace the one suspended by the military when it took power following President Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow last year in a popular uprising.

Members of the panel elected the Islamist speaker of parliament Saad al-Katatni as its head on Wednesday, intensifying a standoff with secularists over the nature of the charter.

Katatni belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, which dominated parliamentary elections after Mubarak’s ouster.

His appointment came after liberal, leftist and independent parties and figures angrily withdrew from the committee, accusing Islamists of monopolizing the process.

Only 74 of the 100-member panel attended the first session on Wednesday, Egypt’s official MENA news agency reported.

The constituent assembly’s legitimacy was further called into question after Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court and the prestigious Islamic Al-Azhar institution also withdrew from the panel.

( / 29.03.2012)

Apartheid, segregation and institutionalised racism: UN Committee “Appalled” by Israel’s Racial Discrimination

As a Palestinian human rights organisation dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Al-Haq welcomes the concluding observations issued on 13 March 2012 by the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which declared itself “particularly appalled” by Israel’s policies and practices that have lead to apartheid and racial segregation. Al-Haq was pleased to learn that many of the issues presented in its recent communications  with the Committee were highlighted in the concluding observations.

In particular, the Committee condemned the hermetic and institutionalised nature of the segregation of the occupied Palestinian population and the illegal Jewish settlers. This segregation manifests itself through a system of Jewish only roads and infrastructure, illegal Jewish settlements, two entirely separate legal systems, a restrictive permit regime and the denial of basic services, such as access to water, that affect Palestinians only. The Committee has also called on Israel to immediately end its discriminatory practice of administrative detention.

The concluding observations also noted the escalation in incidents of racial violence perpetrated by Jewish settlers against both Muslim and Christian Palestinian communities in the OPT. In this regard, the Committee conveyed alarm at the “impunity of terrorist groups such as Price Tag, which reportedly enjoy political and legal support from certain sections of the Israeli political establishment.”

The Committee also expressed its “deep concern” at the fact that Israel has repeatedly refused to apply the Convention in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Occupied Syrian Golan.  Israel’s failure to do so is a violation of international law, as reaffirmed by the International Court of Justice and other international bodies.

Other principle areas of concern where the Committee found Israel to be in clear violation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) include:

  • The “dramatic and disproportionate impact” of Israel’s illegal closures imposed on the Gaza Strip. The Committee, which recognised that the Gaza Strip is under Israel’s effective control, called on the Occupying Power to immediately end its blockade and to allow entry of all necessary construction materials.
  • The State’s discriminatory treatment of Palestinians seeking construction permits combined with the demolition of Palestinian structures to allow for the continued expansion of Israeli settlements, which are illegal under International law. The Committee noted that the expansion of Israeli settlements are accommodated and given preferential treatment by the planning authorities in terms of building permits and access to infrastructure such as roads and water supplies.
  • Israel’s planning and zoning policy, which continues to discriminate against the Palestinian population living in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The Committee stated that these planning and zoning policies employed by Israel “seriously breaches a range of fundamental rights under the Convention.
  • The coexistence of two completely different sets of laws and institutions for the illegal settler population and Palestinians living within the same territory. Settler communities are subject to Israeli domestic law while the Palestinian population is subject to Israeli military law.
  • The impact of the 2003 Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law on the lives of Palestinians and in particular on family rights. “The Committee urges the State party to revoke the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law(Temporary provision) and to facilitate family reunification of all citizens irrespective of their ethnicity or national or other origin.”

However, Al-Haq would like to express concern at the use of the term “demographic balance” in relation to Israel’s illegal policies and practises in occupied East Jerusalem. We believe the Committee’s terminology should have reflected the reality on the ground by using the term ‘demographic change,’ which is illegal under International humanitarian law.

Finally, in light of Israel’s  repeated failure to implement the recommendations issued by the same Committee in 2003 and 2007, Al-Haq calls upon the Committee to consider the appointment of a follow-up Coordinator as established under Rule 65 of its Rules of procedure (HRI/GEN/3/Rev.2).

For the full Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination on Israel, see:

( / 29.03.2012)