Journalists attacked while covering protests in Egypt

Demonstrators protest outside the presidential palace in Cairo. (AFP/Mahmoud Khaled)

Demonstrators protest outside the presidential palace in Cairo. 

New York, December 7, 2012–CPJ condemns a series of attacks on journalists covering protests in Cairo over the proposed constitution and calls on authorities to investigate the assaults and bring an immediate end to the anti-press violence. At least five journalists were struck by rubber bullets, leaving one in critical condition, and several others were assaulted, according to news reports.

“Journalists have played a key role throughout Egypt’s transition, reporting on developments within the country and informing the entire world,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “It is President Morsi’s responsibility during the current unrest to ensure that journalists are able to do their job. Authorities should launch an investigation into these horrific attacks immediately and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets outside President Mohamed Morsi’s presidential palace over the past week to demonstrate against a proposed constitution that local and international human rights and press freedom organizations have said limits minority rights and freedom of expression. A public referendum scheduled for December 15 has helped trigger the current crisis.

On Wednesday, Al-Hosseiny Abou Deif, reporter for the private weekly El-Fagr, was shot in the head at close range with a rubber bullet by an individual who local journalists and news reports said was a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood party, according to news reports. Abou Deif, whose camera was also taken, was covering protests near the presidential palace at the time of the attack and had filmed Muslim Brotherhood supporters beating up protesters and using live ammunition, news reports said.

Abou Deif sustained severe injuries to his brain, head, and neck, and was in a coma on Friday, according to Mustafa Thabit, director of El-Fagr website. Doctors said that Abou Deif had severe brain damage since the bullet had penetrated his skull, Thabit told CPJ.

The Egyptian Journalists Syndicate released a statement on Thursday saying they had filed a complaint with the Prosecutor General against members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party for inciting violence against journalists. The Muslim Brotherhood did not immediately respond to the complaint.

At least four other journalists were also injured by rubber bullets while covering protests near the presidential palace. Mohamed Azouz, reporter for the state-run daily Al-Gomhuria, was hit in the face by a rubber bullet, news reports said. News accounts reported that Osama al-Shazzly, a reporter for the private daily El-Badil; Mohamed Saad, a freelance journalist who contributes to local news websites; and Ahmed Abd al-Salam, a reporter for the private daily Al-Alam al-Yawm, had also been struck by rubber bullets. News reports did not offer further details or say whether the attacks were linked.

Another journalist, Ahmed Khair, a reporter for the private satellite broadcaster ONTV, was beaten by Muslim Brotherhood supporters while covering the protests near the presidential palace, according to news reports. Another ONTV journalist, Kareem Fareed, was briefly taken captive by supporters of the party, news reports said. An unspecified number of TV journalists working for the private broadcaster CBC were also assaulted while covering the same events, news reports said. The reports did not offer further details.

In a separate development, CBC TV presenter Khairy Ramadan also resigned in proteston Thursday after the broadcaster banned former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi from being interviewed on-air, according to news reports. This comes a day after dozens of journalists from the state-run daily, Al-Ahram protested in front of the paper’s offices against the paper’s editorial policy, news reports said.

On Tuesday, CPJ had supported the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate’s call to Morsi to not submit the proposed constitution to the December 15 referendum.

( / 07.12.2012)

Until Israel ends it blockade, Gaza’s underground tunnels remain a necessary lifeline


Following Israel-Hamas ceasefire agreement, which ended Israel’s “Operation Pillar of Defense” last 21st November, Gaza’s tunnels are operating again. In the meantime, according to a security source, Egyptian security services are planning to “end smuggling” under the Gaza border.

The recent eight-day Israeli bombing inflicted large damage on the tunnel area in the southern Gaza Strip, leaving many of the tunnels either completely or partially destroyed. While tunnel owners are working to repair tunnels and reopen them, Hamas and Israeli officials are anticipated to discuss, at a later date, details of the ceasefire, including easing restrictions on the movement of goods and people at the crossing points.

However, since conditions and deadlines for easing border restrictions remain unclear, Gazans do not hold high expectations from this latest truce.

More than just a (rumoured) easing of the Israel-imposed blockade, Gaza still needs to see the day when the siege is finally lifted. Until then, smuggling tunnels remain the lifeline for the trapped population.

There are around 1,250 tunnels on the borderline between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, sources in Rafah estimated before the last war. According to tunnel owners, less than 10% of the network was in operation (under strict regulation from Egyptian and Palestinian authorities). An Egyptian security official reportedly said tunnels are now operating at 5% of previous levels. That said, it’s almost impossible to obtain accurate figures on how much of the tunnel network is effectively operating after frequent destruction, especially since Israel’s recent assault.

Gaza’s underground tunnels -which Israel alleges are used by Palestinians to smuggle weapons and rockets- have in fact been the main commercial trade routes to import anything from food to construction materials, medicines, fuel and cars since Israel imposed a tightened blockade on the strip in 2006-7.

Since 2007, Israel has closed three of the four crossings for the delivery og goods to Gaza, leaving only the Kerem Shalom crossing open. However, in the event the tunnels were closed, and the Rafah border remained closed to the transport of commercial goods and fuel, the Kerem Shalom crossing alone would not meet the needs of the Gazan population.

Omar Shaban, founder and director of PalThink for Strategic Studies, a Gaza-based thinktank, points out that the Israeli-led siege forced Palestinians to resort to using tunnels which –despite being illegal- represent the main source of life in Gaza.

Following the Sinai attacks last August, Egypt closed the Rafah crossing temporarily and started shutting down some tunnels in the border area, which immediately led to a shortage of basic goods, and pushed prices up in Gaza, severely impacting on Gazans whose lives depend on the tunnels.

Since the August attacks, there have been repeated attempts by Israel and Egypt to shut tunnels down.
Earlier in September, Gaza residents held protests against Egypt’s closure of tunnels under their border.

Ghazi Hamad, deputy minister of foreign affairs of Gaza, confirms that Hamas and Egyptian officials have been in talks. He goes on saying the Hamas government has enforced security along the Rafah crossing, in the last two years, in a move to fight cross-border criminality, and targeting radical armed groups that operate in Sinai. Hamad offered reassurances that, although tunnels cannot be fully monitored, due procedures have been adopted in order to prevent any threat to Egyptian security.

Not everyone in Gaza shares the same opinion on tunnels. PalThink director points to different views held by Gazans. Some believe Egypt has the right to shut tunnels down since they are illegal. There are people who think Egypt should close them because that might push Hamas towards Palestinian reconciliation. There are, however, those who argue that tunnels cannot be closed on that basis, whilst none of the rival factions makes a serious effort to end internal division, and achieve national reconciliation.

For their part, others maintain that Egypt should keep tunnels open, as an obligation towards Gaza, but also anticipate that only after the removal of the blockade and the achievement of reconciliation can tunnels be closed. ‘I am against tunnels but, at the same time, I cannot ask Egypt to close them while Israel is imposing the siege’, Shaban says.

In 2005, the Palestinian Authority and Israel signed the Agreed Principles for Rafah Crossing, which included plans for formal trade. The deal was frozen when Hamas came to power in Gaza in 2006. Yet, a trade deal appears to be the ideal scenario – in a context of normal relations between neighbours – as Gaza’s deputy minister of foreign affair observes in referring to opportunities for “common benefit”.

Shaban, who is also an economist, specifies that it should be a legitimate, transparent, equal trade relationship between Egypt and Palestine, and not an aid-oriented response from Egypt, Qatar or other countries.

A few months ago, the Hamas government had put forward a proposal for the establishment of a free trade zone at Rafah, to be considered by its Egyptian counterpart. This was nevertheless rejected in early October (presumably on security and political grounds). The initiative was seen by Hamas as an opportunity to facilitate the supply of energy, facilities, access to goods, and potentially help to import and export goods and raw materials through the Egyptian seaport of el-Arish.

Deputy foreign minister Hamad hopes a duty-free zone will become possible in future once a united national government is formed. Shaban, who previously met with both Egyptian and Hamas officials in Cairo, had warned against the move, considering the plan unrealistic, premature, and poorly thought through for such a sophisticated initiative. He sees the prospect of having a commercial zone in Rafah now remote, with Gaza left under siege and Palestine in the hands of a divided national leadership.

Gaza-Egypt relations have been tense over the blockade, security concerns emerging in Sinai, and Egypt’s faltering economy. It’s still difficult to predict what the future relationship may look like as both Gaza and Egypt are undergoing a transformational process.

Hamad, who looks positively at Gaza-Egypt relations after the ouster of Mubarak, welcomes the more sympathetic overture to Palestine by Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood leadership. He nevertheless admits that Gaza is not the only problem on President Morsi’s table, facing internal pressure as well as pressure from US and Israel.

The Egyptian president is divided between the humanitarian obligation not to allow Gazans to starve, on one hand, and the close security coordination with Israel in Sinai, on the other. PalThink director does not envisage strategic changes in the area, anticipating only tactical moves in the way Israel and Egypt will coordinate on the security front by, for example, authorising more often Egyptian military to deploy to Sinai, without breaching the Camp David agreement, while Gaza will be still kept under siege.

Hamad reiterates that the Hamas authorities want to ensure Egypt’s security is not jeopardized, since the security of Sinai is connected to the security of Gaza. He also thinks Israel’s agenda, instead, is to have Egypt preoccupied with Sinai insurgencies, put the blame on Hamas for recruiting and arming militant groups –while Israel can count on its collaborators in Sinai- and make Gaza-Egypt relations deteriorate.

‘Israel wants to keep Sinai as a zone of instability for Egypt, and show that Gaza is a safe haven for Al Qaeda. I think Israel benefits from this’, Hamad states.

Smuggling tunnels were opened to circumvent Israel’s blockade of the Gaza strip. Many families rely on tunnels for their income. Working in tunnels, however, can be really dangerous. Workers are at constant risk of being hit by Israeli airstrikes, with tunnels sometimes collapsing on them. Indeed, hundreds of workers have died either in tunnels or caves over the past five years of Israel’s blockade, according to estimates by medical sources.

A tunnel owner named Mohammed says each ton of goods smuggled in – everything you can imagine – is worth 15 NIS approximately. He takes half of the revenue, including money to pay for running the electric generators, and the other half is split among workers.

On average, tunnel workers reportedly earn US$25 per day. Being the only source of income in the area, closing tunnels permanently would mean the end of business for Mohammed and thousands of others. Indeed, this has become such a lucrative part of the economy for some, that many of those controlling the tunnels are hostile towards plans of shutting them down.

Shaban, who has written extensively on the subject, explains that with the opening of tunnels a new group of millionaires was created -he calls them ‘the new Mercedes drivers’- who have made a fortune in a few months, becoming influential in society and politics. In Shaban’s view, Israel created this group of people.

Far from being a long-term solution, tunnels are an emergency measure. Nobody knows whether the crossings into Gaza will be opened, or the Israeli blockade will be eased. Nobody can tell what may be any concrete alternatives if all tunnels are closed down or destroyed.

Despite being opposed to tunnels, Shaban firmly believes their closure without removal of the siege would result in the death of Gazan society. ‘The EU and international community should use their mandate to pressure Israel to end the siege on Gaza. Palestinians should not blame Egypt for closing tunnels, they should blame Israel for imposing the blockade’, he insists.

Hamad likewise maintains that ending Israel’s occupation should be the priority. He also expects Egypt to play a more effective role than in the past, and show support to Gaza by facilitating the opening of crossings for import and export. Until now, Gaza can only rely on tunnels, as the Rafah crossing is still not equipped for the transfer of goods. ‘Tunnels are a burden but a necessity too, we want to close them but we need an alternative first’, Hamad argues.

During Israel’s recent assault, humanitarian supplies were transferred via Rafah into Gaza, which showed that Egypt could help break the economic siege on Gaza, according to Palestinian border officials.

Gaza’s Ministry of Public Works expects it will sign an agreement with Egypt this week to allow construction materials through Rafah crossing.

Given the status-quo, tunnels are likely to continue operating, even if Israel decided to ease its ongoing blockade and restrictions imposed on the movement of goods and people. Israel’s siege must end first, without that it’s inconceivable that tunnels should be shut down.

( / 07.12.2012)

G4S equips the apartheid wall, Israel confirms


G4S Israel advertised its role in Eretz checkpoint on its website. (Screenshot November 2008)

(Who Profits?)

The British-Danish security giant G4S has become the target of rights activists in different countries because of its provision of services to Israeli prisons, military checkpoints and to firms in illegal settlements in the West Bank.

In 2008, G4S Israel advertised its involvement with Israeli miitary checkpoints on its website. The text on the left of the screenshot above reads: “Systems for checking persons, manufactured by Safeview USA, first of their kind, were installed at the Erez checkpoint. The systems are in operational use by the army and enable the performance of full scans of the human body.”

G4S confirmed it had provided security equipment with “associated maintenance services” to the Israeli police, prison service and defense ministry, in a 21 December 2010 letter to the Business and Human Rights Resource Center in London. At the same time, the company claimed it did “not control” — and was not  “necessarily aware” — where its security equipment was deployed “as it may be moved around the country.”

Lack of transparency

G4S’s claim that it did not know where its security equipment was deployed sounds implausible. In 2008, the campaign group Who Profits? found evidence on G4S Israel’s website that the firm supplied equipment to the checkpoints of Bethlehem, Qalandiya near Ramallah, Irtah near Tulkarem, and Erez near Gaza. Who Profits? published the information in a March 2011 report on G4S. Although the information is no longer available on the company’s website, the screenshots capturing the pages with the information can be found in the report by Who Profits?.

G4S Israel advertised its role in Israeli checkpoins on its website. (Screenshot Nov ember 2008)

(Who Profits?)

The text on the left of the screenshot above reads: “Personal luggage scanning machines manufactured by Rapiscan USA were installed in the Seam Zone crossings [checkpoints which are located along the route of the wall] including the Qalandiya crossing, the Bethlehem crossing, the Sha’ar Efraim [Irtah] crossing and more.”


In order to obtain more clarity about G4S’s involvement in Israel’s military checkpoints, Who Profits? filed a request under the Israeli Freedom of Information Act. A reply from the defense ministry in July 2012 confirmed that ”G4S is one of the companies that provides inspection [services] and scanning equipment to all the Israeli checkpoints along the separation wall [in the West Bank],” wrote Who Profits? in an email to me on 19 November 2012. Click here for a detailed map of the wall and the checkpoints.

In an interview with The Electronic Intifada, London lawyer Simon Natas addressed G4S’s role in Israel’s violations of international law. The provision of technical equipment and maintenance for checkpoints is particuarly problematic, he said. The International Court of Justice found that the construction of the wall on Palestinian land was illegal in 2004. Excerpts of the interview follow below:

The court talked not only about the wall, but about the wall and its associated regime. It considered that “the construction of the wall and its associated regime create a fait accompli on the ground that could well become permanent in which case and notwithstanding the formal characterization of the wall by Israel it would be tantamount to de facto annexation.”

When one talks about the associated regime of the wall, one certainly talks about the checkpoints, because the wall cannot operate without checkpoints.

So the checkpoints are necessary in order to allow Israelis access to the West Bank [and] to prevent Palestinians from passing the other way. If you are providing the technical facilities like scanners and other equipment, and you also have a contract to look after them, to fix them when they go wrong, to ensure that they are working properly, then you are assisting in that process by ensuring that the checkpoints can effectively regulate the movement of people through the wall.

( / 07.12.2012)

Time for the Egyptian ‘opposition’ to observe democratic norms

It is not the Morsi government that has lost legitimacy, but the manifestly mis-named National Salvation Front.

In a genuine democracy, the opposition accepts that the government is elected to rule and that the opposition’s role is constructive criticism and keeping alternative policies in view – through the parliamentary process.

An opposition that spurns the parliamentray process, that spurns dialogue, and that sinks to vicious street thuggery in order to achieve its ends does not deserve the support or respect of the Egyptian people, or of the international community.

The torching of Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo and several other regional centres, attacks on the Presidential Palace and on Morsi’s home, and the murder of six Morsi supporters by ‘opposition’ protesters are hardly the hallmarks of democracy, or of a legitimate opposition, in action.

Rather, they are the hallmarks of a brutal, illegitimate and concerted destabilisation attempt – and it is no coincidence that it comes hot on the heels of the Egyptian-brokered Isarel-Gaza ceasefire agreement.

The roles of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei and co-conspirator Amr Moussa, ex-leader of the Arab League, in these shameful proceedings is nothing short of scandalous. Both should know better.

If ever two people disqualified themselves from serious consideration for leadership roles in a democratic state by their own blatantly undemocratic behaviour, surely these two must top the list by their actions over the past week.

Mahmoud Hussein, Secretary-General of the Muslim Brotherhood, was generous in describing opposition protesters’ behaviour as “crude and contemptible ways of expression, rather than (putting) their points across in a civilized manner” – many would call it outright barbarity.

If there is to be any ‘national salvation’ in Egypt, it must begin with dialogue, not with street thuggery masquerading as legitimate dissent.

And if creating a genuine democracy in Egypt is the aim of the opposition, and of the Egyptian people, the first steps should be taken in the houses of parliament, not in the streets.

Isn’t that what 846 Egyptians died for in 2011?

( / 07.12.2012)

Rafah crossing with Egypt still a prison gate for many Palestinians in Gaza

Palestinians wait at the Rafah border crossing to travel from Gaza to Egypt

Palestinians wait at the Rafah border crossing to travel from Gaza to Egypt

“I am on my way home,” I told my wife over the phone as I rode the bus back from theEgyptian terminal at the Rafah crossing with Gaza. “What?” she said surprised, “I thought you had already crossed into Egypt. It’s now almost 5pm! What is going on?”

Early on Thursday, I set off from our home in the Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza, carrying my wife’s medical file, including the results of her latest MRI tests. My destination was Cairo, where I planned to show the new scans to my wife’s doctors who would decide on the latest course of treatment for her chronic cancer.

We have been making the arduous journey from Gaza to Cairo for her treatment for years, but this time I was going alone to spare her — and our children — the ordeal. I would come back and get her later if the doctors decided it was necessary.

During what I expected would be a visit of only a few days to the Egyptian capital, I also wanted to renew my press accreditation papers as my official Egyptian press pass expires at the end of the month.

Not without my wife

I arrived at the Rafah crossing terminal at about 10:30am and, like dozens of other travelers, began filling in the registration forms. I wrote that I wanted to cross for medical and other purposes.

After waiting a few hours, an officer at the crossing called my name, apparently so I could be questioned by Egypt’s “National Security” agency, previously known under the old regime as “State Security.”

“Why are you going to Egypt?” the officer asked. I explained my purpose and showed him all the papers I was carrying.

“I cannot let you pass unless your wife is with you,” he said.

“She is waiting at home for the doctor’s advice and we cannot leave our four children alone right now,” I answered.

He was not convinced and directed me to a nearby desk where intelligence officers were conducting checks.

Another officer took my passport and asked me to sit down and wait. Filled with anxiety, I waited, wondering if I would be allowed to pass, or be sent back into Gaza.

Restrictions on Palestinian men

Palestinian men from Gaza are allowed to cross into Egypt without so-called “coordination” — time-consuming permits and bureaucracy — only if they are over the age of 40. I am 39.

That was one of the measures to “ease” the blockade of Gaza taken after the 25 January 2011 revolution in Egypt.

Ironically, this is the same condition Israel imposes on allowing Palestinian men from the occupied West Bank to enter Jerusalem to pray in al-Aqsa Mosque.

But even though my age is below the magic number, I have been traveling back and forth from Egypt regularly.

As I was sitting thinking, the intelligence officer called my name, and I jumped up hoping I would be allowed to cross.

But he took me into a room, where there was another, more senior officer. The senior officer asked me the same questions, and I gave him the same answers.

“Please wait in the hall,” he said.

Waiting, hoping and smoking

Even after all the waiting I’d done, being asked to sit and wait some more still gave me hope. By about 4:00pm, no one had called my name, even though many other travelers had their passports stamped and were allowed to leave the hall en route to Egypt.

Finally, after twice my usual intake of cigarettes, and only a bottle of juice all day, my name was called by a policeman carrying a big stack of passports in his hands.

“Yes sir,” I replied.

“Take your bags and wait right here,” he ordered.

My heart sank. I realized that I would most likely be sent back because along with a number of others I was asked to wait by the gate leading back to the Gaza side of the crossing.

Not giving up

I put my bags on the floor and asked the policeman to let me see the senior officer again. I spoke to two other personnel as gently as I could.

“I wonder why you are not allowing me to cross. Please look to my passport and see that I was even granted a temporary residency permit in your country last May, but it was never validated because I left Egypt before the procedure could be completed, because I had to go back to Gaza for some important matters.”

I pointed out that my passport was filled with Egyptian stamps. I read them the words off my Egyptian press pass: “Please provide whatever assistance the holder of this pass may need.”

I must have spoken well, for one of the two officers praised me. “You are an eloquent journalist and speaker,” he said. But words were not enough.

Sent back

Finally, I went back to the first intelligence officer who had appeared helpful in the beginning. But now his tone changed and he shouted at his subordinates, “Bring the security guards!”

I stopped talking right there, picked up my bags and went out to the bus that would take me back to the Gaza side.

That day, the Egyptian authorities at the Rafah crossing terminal turned back 38 Gazans, including myself.

As we were riding the bus, some of the rejected passengers spoke. One said he had paid $400 the Gaza-based coordination office to cross and he wondered why he was sent back. Another man in his late 20s said, “I did the needed coordination and I have an invitation letter for a conference in Turkey.”

A third, who was 21 and from Rafah city in Gaza, couldn’t hold back his tears: “Why did they send me back? I wanted to see my ailing uncle just there in on the Egyptian side of Rafah. He is alone and needs urgent help.”

It is two years since the Arab “revolutions” began, and the changes in Egypt brought much hope for people in Gaza. But for so many still waiting at Rafah, things are frustratingly the same.

(Rami Almeghari / / 07.12.2012)

Een 1-, 2- of een 3-staten oplossing?

Engeland heeft twee maal een kapitale fout gemaakt om te komen tot een oplossing in het conflict tussen de Palestijnen en haar bezetters; de eerste was de opstelling en uitvoering van de Balfour Declaration en de tweede was de druk op President Abbas te leggen om niet naar het Internationaal Strafhof te gaan i.v.m. met de uitgevoerde moorden en andere zaken door de bezettende macht. Wat mij betreft heeft Engeland zich (wederom) weggezet als een politieke onbenul qua buitenlands beleid en gewoon zich opgeworpen als de schoothond van de bezetters; tevens zich bij voorbaat gemeld als de beschermers en getuigen voor de bezettende macht.  De Joden hadden jaren in de diaspora geleefd – overigens zoals nu vele Palestijnen in het buitenland leven, vaak als vluchteling in kampen – en vanaf 1894 (door de Dreyfus affaire) werd de druk op de politiek steeds groter om met een oplossing te komen. In de eerste Wereldoorlog kwam een samenwerking tot stand tussen David Lloyd George (Minister van Defensie), Arthur James Balfour (First Lord of the Admiralty) en Chaim Weizmann (wetenschapper, maar vooral de leider van de Zionistische beweging). Hierbij ging het om de productie van vloeibare aceton. Het uiteindelijke resultaat van de samenwerking was de Balfour Declaration van 2 november 1917. De Volkenbond accepteerde de Declaratie op 24 juli 1922, waardoor Engeland het mandaat kreeg van tijdelijke administratieve controle op Palestina.
In 1939 kwam Engeland terug op de Declaratie met een Witboek, waarin werd aangegeven dat het creëren van een  Joodse staat niet langer beleid van Engeland was. Door deze verandering in het buitenlands beleid van Engeland konden miljoenen Joden niet ontsnappen aan het Naziterreur. Maar het hield wel in dat er gewerkt  moest worden aan de oprichting van “Palestina-Eretz Israël” (Land van Israël) als het nationale thuisland voor het Joodse volk.

Het thuisland voor het Joodse volk, terwijl het land Palestina heette, het land waar de Palestijnen wonen? Het moest gewoon misgaan en dat wist Engeland en de Volkenbond, men hoefde alleen de agenda te pakken voor het eerstvolgende accident. Vanaf het einde van de Eerste Wereldoorlog kwamen de Joden naar hun thuisland, tussen 1919 – 1923 kwamen er 40.000 bij de 90.000 die er al leefden, wat opliep tot 450.000 aan het einde van 1939.

Achter elkaar gezet met de bezetting vanaf 1967 hebben de Palestijnen het recht om het compleet beu te zijn – vandaag de dag – dat ze al zolang onder bezetting moeten leven terwijl er geen hond is  in de wereld die zijn hand uitsteekt (misschien dan een enkele die dan er zelf aan denkt te verdienen).

Toch zijn er wat kleine succesjes te ontdekken, waarbij de erkenning laatst door Palestina door een groot deel van de wereld het hoogtepunt van het werk van President Abbas is te noemen. Maar nu, wat gaat er gebeuren? Hoe gaat het verder?

Natuurlijk de bezettende macht heeft geen zin om Palestina en de Palestijnen een cm van het gejatte land terug te geven. Sterker nog, er is wel een bestand afgesproken, maar nog dagelijks worden politici van Hamas in de Westbank opgepakt, worden Palestijnen bedreigd door illegale ‘settlers’ en worden mensen beschoten door de politie en de militairen van de bezettende macht. Er is een bestand maar er is nog steeds geen leven voor de Palestijnen.

Wat er gebeuren moet?

  • Een een-staat oplossing, waarbij de Joden en de Palestijnen samen leven in een staat, heeft de bezettende macht verkracht, vermoord en weggesmeten. Vanaf 67 in een beklemmende  bezetting moeten leven, waarbij de buren, familie, kinderen of ouders (vaak niet of, maar en) worden vermoord of in de gevangenis gegooid, is niet iets wat je snel kan vergeten, ondanks alle woorden van Europa dat er gezocht moet worden naar een oplossing voor vrede. Tevens kan een Palestijn niet akkoord gaan met een een-staat oplossing waarbij de vroegere bezetter onderdeel van is, want dat betekent dat de gemiddelde Palestijn alles moet goedkeuren wat de bezettende macht ooit vanaf 67 (en tevens ook de bloedbaden) heeft uitgevoerd in Palestina. Dat nooit dus;
  • Een een-staat oplossing, waarbij de bezetters uit Palestina worden gezet en gevraagd om maar in een ander land te gaan wonen, zal door de internationale gemeenschap niet worden geaccepteerd, hoewel die het probleem hebben gecreëerd. Als men de gemiddelde Palestijn op de social media zou vragen naar deze oplossing, zal men hier heel snel voor kiezen; 
  • Een twee-staten oplossing; dit zal het dan moeten gaan worden, als je beide eerdere punten afwijst. Maar hiervoor is op dit moment ook van alles mee aan de hand, noem enkel maar eens het onbeschofte landjepik van de bezettende macht, elke week komt er wel een artikel in de media (want dat wordt wel beschreven) dat het beleid van de bezetters is om weer 3000 woningen hier en weer 1000 woningen daar te gaan bouwen, natuurlijk allemaal op Palestijns gebied.

Voor een oplossing als de laatste moeten er eerst vele eisen worden ingewilligd die leven onder de activisten en Palestijnen als je de social media volgt:

  • de bezetting moet onmiddellijk worden opgeheven;
  • alle politieke gevangen moeten vrijgelaten worden, waarbij ze medisch geholpen worden;
  • Hamas moet van de lijst van de terroristenlijst. Een lijst die is opgezet door een terroristisch land haarzelf;
  • alle illegale nederzettingen moeten ontruimd worden en overgedragen in handen van de Palestijnen;
  • de bezettende nacht trekt zich terug tot minimaal achter de grenzen van 67;
  • elke vorm van bezetting moet afgebroken worden, dus ook de muur;
  • gezien de opbouw van het militair potentieel van de bezettende macht, is het denkbaar dat de soevereine staat Palestina een leger opbouwt.

Binnen Palestina is het verstandig dat de partijen die Gaza besturen en die de Westbank besturen samen werken, zodat er niet naar een 3-staten oplossing gezocht hoeft te worden. Gezien het gebeurde in de laatste weken, is het misschien wel eens handig om te kijken wat Hamas kan betekenen in het geheel. M.i. is de sleutel voor vrede de partij Hamas en niet de partij van president Abbas. Europa en vooral Nederland is vergeten dat Hamas wel democratisch is gekozen; het past niet in het plaatje van de westerse landen, terwijl die landen steeds maar zeuren over democratie. Democratie voor Europa, VS en Nederland is het alleen als ze er wat aan kunnen verdienen en de regels kunnen sturen. Dat is politiek van de vorige eeuw, het wordt tijd dat het westen een Jasmijnrevolutie doormaakt.

Gaza from heart to heart U R not alone


  • france-Itali-Jaban-America_palestine(Gaza city)
  • Campaign from the heart to the heart

    This campaign Palestinian foreign multinational targeting residents of the Gaza Strip who are suffering two, especially after the recent war in Gaza
    With the help of activists from Gaza, France, Japan, Italy and America
    Was created to provide assistance and urgently to people whose homes were damaged were displaced and became with no home
    This campaign is personal efforts from in ternational group and do not follow any organization or institution

    The also provide a helping hand to children through the work of psychological treatment program and entertainment to mitigate them
    Supposed to begin immediately after the war, but there were problems in communication with the participants and volunteers for this campaign with activists in Gaza because of bad communication during the war
    And it will be the start of the campaign today on 07/12/2012 and Ttantha in 20/12/2012

    Campaign tasks:
    1_Been registered more than 150 families in Gaza who lost more than one person in addition to the demolition of their homes

    2_And it will be collecting donations as far as possible starting from $ 1 _ $ 1,000 each by its potential
    Will be agreed with the activists to identify specific positions to bring people in Italy, France, America and Japan
    Areas that have been identified where people are gathered the same point from which will be collecting donations

    3-The campaign does not require identification of any class to donate but can anyone even if the child is 5 years old and wants to donate a game Vhama will be something very beautiful

    4-Will buy food donations that will be distributed to the families and campaign logo will be charged from the heart to the heart you’re not alone, people of Gaza
    Temporary tents will be purchased for the owners of the houses that were demolished until reconstruction of new homes

    5-Tasks will be documented campaign pictures and posted on the BBC website difficult to show the suffering experienced of Gazian people
    and the page of our cordiantor in Gaza Gaza land pride on this link
    will uploaded photos of this compaign

    6-Recreational trips will be done for the children to help them alleviate the psychological distress

    7-We’re trying to build something to draw a smile back on the faces of the people in Gaza

    Businessmen who want to donate personally communicate or
    Who wants to participate in the campaign of any country they communicate with us via email campaign
    Or contact with one of our cordintors this compaign in gaza

Steun Israël brokkelt af


Het omstreden gebied bij Oost- Jeruzalem waar Israël nieuwe nederzettingen wil bouwen. In de verte is de nederzetting Maale Adumim zichtbaar. 

Ook EC roept ambassadeur op het matje

BRUSSEL –De Israëlische bouwplannen in de bezette Palestijnse gebieden stuiten wereldwijd op toenemende kritiek. Gisteren riep de Europese Commissie de Israëlische ambassadeur op het matje. Het dagelijks bestuur van de EU heeft ernstige zorgen over de plannen van Israël om de Joodse nederzettingen uit te breiden. Het gesprek moet nog plaatshebben, zei een woordvoerster van EU-buitenlandchef Catherine Ashton gisteren.

Israël wil onder meer gaan bouwen in een zeer omstreden gebied bij Jeruzalem. Daarmee zou de Westelijke Jordaanoever uiteindelijk compleet afgesneden kunnen zijn van Oost-Jeruzalem, dat in Palestijnse ogen de hoofdstad van Palestina moet worden.

De reactie van de EU zal afhangen van de manier waarop de handelingen van Israël een gevaar vormen voor een levensvatbare staat Palestina met Jeruzalem als hoofdstad. De EU riep alle partijen op om geen stappen te ondernemen die het vredesproces schaden.

De steun binnen Europa voor het Israëlische beleid is behoorlijk afgebrokkeld. Vorige week stemde Tsjechië als enige EU-lid tegen de erkenning van Palestina als waarnemend niet-lidstaat door de Algemene Vergadering van de VN. Toen Israël daarop nieuwe bouwplannen in bezet gebied aankondigde, riepen tal van Europese landen de Israelische ambassadeur op het matje. Onder hen Frankrijk en Groot-Brittannië.

Ook Duitsland, een belangrijke bondgenoot voor Israël binnen Europa, reageerde afkeurend. Nederland uitte eveneens zijn zorgen. De Nederlandse ambassadeur in Tel Aviv heeft Israël gevraagd af te zien van de bouw. Kritiek kwam er ook van traditionele bondgenoot de Verenigde Staten.

Maar het land lijkt zich er niets van aan te trekken. In plaats daarvan zet het juist vaart achter de bouwplannen, die volgens internationaal recht illegaal zijn. Architecten en aannemers mochten gisteren al hun plannen presenteren voor de bouw in een zeer omstreden gebied bij Jeruzalem.

Volgens de Palestijnse topdiplomaat Saeb Erekat is het bouwplan het definitieve einde van het vredesproces. VN-chef Ban Ki-moon noemde het een ’bijna fatale klap voor de vrede’ tussen Israël en de Palestijnen.

De Israëlische premier Benjamin Netanyahu zei gisteren op bezoek in Praag dat zijn land nog steeds streeft naar een vredesregeling met de Palestijnen. Die zou tot twee staten moeten leiden, een gedemilitariseerde Palestijnse staat en de Joodse staat Israël.

( / 07.12.2012)

Boerkaverbod: hoe een vals probleem een echt probleem kan worden

Nu het grondwettelijk hof het boerkverbod bevestigd heeft, is het niet uigesloten dat sommige gemeenten boerkajagers aanstellen, zoals ze ook GAS-ambtenaren laten rondlopen om overlast vast te stellen. Dat meent ere-magistraat Jan Nolf.

Een vrouw in een boerka

Het Grondwettelijk Hof keurt het boerkaverbod goed. Het boerkaverbod is niet in strijd met de grondwet. Een boerka mag verboden worden behalve tijdens erediensten, ook als die erediensten plaatsvinden in het openbaar of in publiek toegankelijke gebouwen. Drie vragen aan ere-magistraat Jan Nolf.

Lag deze uitspraak in de lijn der verwachtingen?

Jan Nolf: Eigenlijk wel. De Kamer stemde het verbod bijna unaniem, en zelfs Groen! schipperde tussen tegenstemmen en onthouding. Daarna nam de Senaat zelfs de moeite niet om de wet op haar beurt te onderzoeken. Dat illustreert toch een beetje dat een heel brede politieke wereld geen fundamentele grondwettelijke breekpunten zag en het zou pas erg geweest zijn als onze politici er juridisch zo erg ver naast zouden gezeten hebben.

De énige tegenstemmer, Eva Brems (hoogleraar mensenrechten Ugent) argumenteerde dat het verbod vrouwen niet vooruit helpt maar eerder in de steek laat en bazige mannen niet bestraft. Dat lijkt echter een marge in het politiek beleid waarop het Hof de wetgever niet kan terugfluiten.

Dat het Hof voor de helft samengesteld is uit oud-politici is natuurlijk ook een typisch Belgisch compromis: het Amerikaanse Hooggerechtshof heeft dezelfde opdracht maar een zuiver juridisch profiel. Ooit gaan we ook in België naar een zuiverder situatie. Ooit.

Maar ik hoop het nog mee te maken, want de ultieme opdracht van het Hof bestaat erin de rechtstaat te waarborgen. Dat is geen kwestie van cijfers of procenten. In de kantelmomenten van de geschiedenis was de kwestie van mensenrechten zelden een kwestie van ‘meerderheid’.

Als vrouwen thuis blijven omdat ze buiten geen boerka mogen dragen, dan is dit een persoonlijke beslissing op basis van religieuze motieven, zegt het Grondwettelijk Hof in de motivering van het arrest. Kan u deze uitspraak volgen?

Jan Nolf: Die passage moet correct begrepen worden: vooreerst erkent het Hof zeer duidelijk dat het dragen van de boerka door een vrouw haar “weloverwogen religieuze keuze” kan zijn. Bijgevolg wordt dat recht erkend. Dat verklaart dan ook dat het Hof meteen stelt dat de wet “wegens het algemene karakter van de bewoordingen ervan een inmenging kan vormen in de vrijheid van geweten en van godsdienst van de vrouwen die een volledige sluier dragen”.

Enkel meent het Hof dat “in de openbare sfeer de gendergelijkheid zich daartegen kan verzetten” want een boerka is enkel voor een vrouw bedoeld. Door zich zo vierkant achter dit “beginsel van gelijkheid tussen man en vrouw” te stellen, opent de uitspraak misschien nieuwe denkpistes, die sommige zegevierende voorstanders van het boerkaverbod niet bedoeld hebben.

Maakt het Grondwettelijk Hof de controle op het boerkaverbod niet onmogelijk door er voorwaarden aan te verbinden? Op basis van welke criteria kan bijvoorbeeld een politieman vaststellen of iemand al dan niet deelneemt aan een eredienst?

Jan Nolf: Het Hof kon het verbod niet tolereren zonder die beperking in te voeren ter bescherming van de meteen erkende godsdienstvrijheid van de vrouw die ervoor kiest. Ook de mogelijkheid van ‘dwang’ werd niet uit het oog verloren. Het Hof wijst erop dat er dan volgens de algemene regel van art. 71 Strafwetboek in hoofde van die vrouw geen misdrijf bestaat: ze is dan immers een slachtoffer.

De uitzondering voor de “plaatsen bestemd voor de eredienst” is wel een heel beperkte definitie. Wanneer bijvoorbeeld wegens te weinig of overvolle moskeeën op straat gebeden wordt, maakt dit de openbare weg nog niet tot een “plaats bestemd voor de eredienst”.

Terloops: vermits de wet de gemeentelijke bevoegdheid voor GAS-boetes op dat punt herbevestigt en de vaststellers daarvan steeds uitbreiden, zullen bepaalde gemeentebesturen dus ook boerka-jagers aanstellen. Als de door Milquet bestudeerde mogelijkheid van ‘vrijwilligers’ in en rond politie realiteit wordt, zullen we dan pas zien van welk vals probleem van een 250-tal Belgische vrouwen we een écht probleem gemaakt hebben. Hopelijk was dat niet de bedoeling.

( / 07.12.2012)

Mashaal: Today Gaza, tomorrow Jerusalem

Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal prays, with his head to the ground, upon his arrival at the Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, Dec. 7, 2012.

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal made his first visit to the Gaza Strip on Friday, telling crowds he hoped his next visit would be to Jerusalem, Ramallah and a liberated Palestine.

After passing through the Egyptian border crossing, Mashaal knelt on the ground to offer a prayer of thanks and was then greeted by dozens of officials from an array of competing factions lined up to meet him in warm December sun.

Mashaal praised the people of Gaza and the political factions in his first ever speech on Palestinian soil. “We politicians are in debt to the people of Gaza,” he said.

The leader was briefly tearful as he was welcomed by Gaza’s Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

Mashaal said his visit to Gaza was his “third birth” referring to an assassination attempt by Israeli Mossad agents in 1997 as his previous “re-birth.”

Haniyeh welcomed Mashaal’s arrival as a historic moment in Palestinian history.

Mashaal left the West Bank in 1967, at age 11.

“All Palestinians will eventually return to their homeland. Khaled Mashaal is returning after a victory,” said veteran Hamas strategist Mahmoud Al-Zahar.

Mashaal will stay for a little more than 48 hours in the coastal enclave, which Hamas has ruled since a 2007 war with Fatah that rules the West Bank. Hamas politburo members Mousa Abu Marzouq, Izzat al-Rishq, and Saleh al-Arouri accompanied him.

Hamas plans an open-air rally on Saturday to promote what it says was last month’s victory against Israel, and at the same time commemorate the 25th anniversary of the group’s founding.

( / 07.12.2012)