Following an attack on Sderot, Israel has limited fishermen in Gaza to just three nautical miles of sea access.
Palestinian fishermen sort boxes containing fish at Gaza Seaport in Gaza City in December 2012
|Gaza City – Shortly after Israel retracted its decision to allow Gaza fishermen access to six nautical miles instead of three, Ashraf Hessy abandoned his fishing boat he worked on for more than 25 years and decided to work as a fishmonger instead.
Ashraf, 38, a father of eight, said three nautical miles is hardly better than zero, with no fish to be had in the limited zone.
“I used to make almost $30 a day, but now $3 is the maximum I can do. This is why I left fishing,” Ashraf said.
Last November, Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza reached a ceasefire agreement ending eight days of fighting. The agreement also stipulated that Israel would increase the fishing zone from three to six nautical miles.
But when two rockets were fired into the southern Israeli city of Sderot last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defence Moshe Yaalon instructed the Israeli military to constrict the permitted fishing zone back to three, according to a joint statement by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) and the Israeli military.
“The IDF (Israeli military) considers this incident with great severity and holds the Hamas terror organisation responsible for any hostile activity emanating from the Gaza Strip,” the statement said.
Ashraf’s colleague, Abu Muhammad, recently borrowed $50,000 ahead of sardine season, which started in early April. Upon learning that the zone would be narrowed, Abu Muhammad had a heart attack.
“Abu Muhammad has been at the hospital until now. I understand his loss: none of us expected the fishing zone would be restricted at this very wrong time,” Ashraf said.
Fishermen in this coastal enclave have often suffered from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since 2007, when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, fishermen have not been permitted more than three nautical miles of sea access – although the 1993 Oslo accords between the Palestinian Authority and Israel grants fishermen 20 nautical miles.
Muhammad al-Hessy, the deputy head of a fishermen’s union, said thousands of fishermen have lost their sources of income after Israel’s recent decision.
“Three miles can’t provide fishermen with the minimum they need. Especially with the sardine season coming, it’s a great loss for them,” he said.
Even before the limit was reduced to three nautical miles, Gaza fishermen say they were often subjected to violations by Israel. Dozens of fishing boats were forced to the Israeli seaport of Ashdod with the fishermen on board for investigation, and ships were often seized without being returned.
Earlier this month, dozens of fishermen and international activists led a flotilla of more than 50 boats from the Gaza seaport to the Gaza town of Beit Lahia and back to demand the return of 36 fishing boats seized by Israel.
The event, organised by the nongovernmental Palestinian Union of Agricultural Work Committees, was meant to put more pressure on the international community to support Palestinian fishermen in Gaza.
Joe Catron, who like many international activists accompanies fisherman to sea to protect them from Israeli violations, said the new restrictions are yet another broken promise from Israel.
“After the many Israeli attacks on farmers, fishermen, and other Palestinians in blatant violation of the ceasefire, none of us could have expected they would keep their word in this regard, either,” Catron said of the move to reduce the fishing area.
Israeli authorities contacted for comment referred Al Jazeera to the joint COGAT and Israeli military statement.
A senior Hamas delegation, including its political leader Khaled Mashaal and Prime Minister Ismael Haneyya, made it earlier this week to Cairo to discuss many major issues, including the constant Israeli violations of the ceasefire agreement.
In Cairo, Hamas spokesperson Taher al-Nono said he doubted the Israeli narrative about the Palestinian rockets allegedly fired into Israel, and condemned what he said were constant Israeli violations.
“Haneyya has discussed with Egyptian intelligence officials the ceasefire agreement and the Israeli violations for it. The Egyptian intelligence promised it will follow the issue and make things even better than it used to be,” Nono said.
The restrictions mean Gaza’s 1.7mn population doesn’t have enough fish. Fishmongers have had to import fish from Egypt through tunnels under the border, said Mahmoud Abu Haseera, the owner of a market.
“We always import fish from Egypt, but the rate differs from time to time. Before the new decision, we used to have half Egyptian fish with half local fish, but now we only have 1 percent local fish [compared] to 99 percent imported Egyptian fish,” he said.
Abu Haseera said even when the Egyptian fish is available, the demand diminishes because of the difference between the two qualities.
“The Egyptian fish grow in farms unlike the local fish which grow in the sea, which makes the local fish taste many times better.”
(Source / 08.04.2013)
As part of compensation agreement with Turkey, Israel wants lawsuits against its soldiers to be dropped, but an Istanbul court is hearing charges filed against four of Israel’s most senior retired commanders, which could carry life sentences.
In a rapprochement brokered by U.S. President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan on March 22 for the killings, pledged compensation to the bereaved or hurt and agreed to ease a six-year blockade on Gaza. Erdogan said these gestures met his conditions for normalizing relations with its erstwhile ally.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said while visiting Istanbul on Sundaythat restoring full ties between Turkey and Israel was vital to regional stability. With the apology, Israel aimed to end a three-year diplomatic crisis with Turkey, once its closest regional ally, that erupted when Israeli soldiers stormed an international flotilla carrying relief aid to challenge the Gaza blockade.
As part of the agreement on compensation, Israel wants lawsuits against its soldiers to be dropped.
“We will continue with the criminal lawsuits we have opened against the Israeli soldiers and commanders, and we won’t accept dropping this suit if compensation is paid,” said Musa Cogas, who was wounded by Israeli gunfire on board the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara, part of a flotilla carrying aid to Palestinians.
An Istanbul court is hearing charges that have been filed against four of Israel’s most senior retired commanders, including the ex-army chief, in absentia and could carry life sentences. Israel has called this a politically motivated “show trial.”
Ahmet Varol, a journalist who was on the Mavi Marmara, said one “formula for a resolution” would be for Israel to provide a timetable for ending the blockade of Gaza, ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement, and make Turkey a monitor of that process. “Our efforts are for the full lifting of the blockade. Nobody wants compensation, and while an apology may have diplomatic meaning, it means nothing to the victims,” he said.
The apology nonetheless showed Israel had accepted its wrongdoing in the incident, Varol added. The United States has urged the two sides to mend fences to ease Israel’s diplomatic isolation in the Middle East and to improve coordination to contain spillover from the Syrian civil war and face the challenge of Iran’s nuclear program.
A senior Israeli official told Reuters last month Israel did not commit to ending its Gaza blockade as part of reconciliation with Turkey and could clamp down even harder on the Palestinian enclave if security is threatened.
“It’s not possible to heal my wounds with just an apology,” said Cogas, who was shot in the shoulder by Israeli marines. His friend of 30 years, Cengiz Songur, was killed in the raid. “Unless these soldiers are punished and the blockade is lifted, we won’t accept compensation.”
(Source / 08.04.2013)
Transcribing the vivid details of the account engraved into the fabric of her memory, I am transfixed by all that she’s held onto for 65 years. From paper to pulse, I write the story buried deep in her consciousness to affirm her truth. Without her, it never would be written at all.
I study the lines on my grandmother’s face knowing behind every one there is a timeless story of unmitigated pain, survival and hope. This story, where the continued dispossession, suffering and oppression of the Palestinian people began, is one that refuses to be silenced or forgotten. It is the story of Deir Yassin.
Remember the date: Friday, 9 April 1948, a day of infamy in Palestinian history. My grandmother was nine years old at the time of the Deir Yassin massacre and every day since she has lived with a steadfast commitment to never forget.
Thursday, 8 April, ended like any other in the small, quiet village. My grandmother and her younger sister returned home from school to complete their composition assignment entitled Asri’ (meaning “to hurry” in Arabic). She recounts that detail animatedly. Like other children their age, she wanted to complete the assignment in order to enjoy the next day off.
The excitement, however, was short-lived. I can’t help but think of the irony in the assignment’s title. Asri’ — it’s almost as though it were a premonition of sorts.
The following day, entire families ran hurriedly in sheer terror, fleeing the only homes they had ever known to escape a bloodbath. By dawn on that Friday morning, life as they had known it would never be the same again. Deir Yassin would never be the same again.
Fathers, grandfathers, brothers and sons were lined up against a wall and sprayed with bullets, execution style. Beloved teachers were savagely mutilated with knives. Mothers and sisters were taken hostage and those who survived returned to find pools of blood filling the streets of the village and children stripped of their childhoods overnight.
The walls of homes, which once stood witness to warmth, laughter and joy, were splattered with the blood and imprints of traumatic memories. My grandmother lost 37 members of her family that day. These are not stories you will read about in most history books.
The Deir Yassin massacre was not the largest-scale massacre, nor was it the most gruesome. The atrocities committed, the scale of violence and the complexity of the methods and insidious weaponry used by Israel against civilians in the recent decade have been far more sadistic and pernicious. But Deir Yassin marks one of the most critical turning points in Palestinian history.
A bitter symbol carved in the fiber of the Palestinian being and narrative, it resonates sharply as the event that catalyzed our ongoing Nakba (catastrophe), marked by the forced exile of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes, creating the largest refugee populationworldwide with more than half living in the diaspora.
Deir Yassin is a caustic reminder of the ongoing suffering, struggle and systematic genocide of the Palestinian people, 65 years and counting. When the village was terrorized into fleeing, tumultuous shockwaves of terror ran through Palestine, laying the blueprint for the architecture of today’s apartheid Israel.
I have been fortunate enough to see Deir Yassin and step foot on its sacred ground. Deir Yassin remains a permanently cemented and rigorous reminder of the spirit that has never permitted defeat. Despite the illegal settlements, pillaging, plundering and human suffering that took place, my grandmother’s home stands with resolve just as she does today.
The silence of her home and the original stones laid by my great-grandfather’s hands remain haunting reminders of life that once existed behind the cold facade. Standing outside her home I studied the horizon intently and found solace, irrespective of the large wooden Star of David hanging on the window. This scathing and unholy reminder of the ethnic cleansing that took place there could never conceal the insult, injury and history it attempts to erase.
In fact, it is a reminder of the inflicted wounds that remain open and the memory that remains very much alive. All the flags, banners and stars in the world, all the inconvenient truths, dehumanizing myths of exceptionalism and litany of crimes, will never succeed in drowning out the truth or erasing the memories.
My grandmother is an intrepid survivor and living proof that neither the old nor the young will forget. She and survivors like her endure with a steadfastness that will live long after they’re gone. Their narratives may not be recorded in our history books but they have left indelible impressions that will remain inscribed in our hearts and minds.
The narratives of these survivors will continue to run through the veins of every Palestinian child who carries them in their blood. And so long as our hearts beat, the eloquent symbols of Palestinian life — resistance, resilience and hope — will continue to run strong. No amount of fear-mongering, lip service or pontificating will ever keep these narratives of resistance from circulating, because becoming comfortable with our own silence and anesthetizing our minds to all that has passed will never be options.
After all, we are the children of generations of strength. Our grandparents and parents are refugees and survivors, and the blood of Deir Yassin courses through our veins. We are like the olive tree with its tenacious roots in the ground, remaining unshakable and determined to stand its ground with patience and a deeply-rooted desire to remain.
We will see a free and just Palestine because we will have a hand in making it so. Deir Yassin may have catalyzed our catastrophe but 65 years later it also continues to catalyze our devotion and enduring love for a people, a cause and a home that will never be relinquished or forgotten.
(Source / 08.04.2013)
“The Israel authorities prevented me and my colleague Ali Salem Chekkaf from crossing into the West Bank without giving us any reason,” Mehdi Bensaid told AFP.
“I do not understand this Israeli action, which was an insult to the Moroccan parliament and people. I denounce it.”
The two MPs were part of a delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Morocco belongs to a PACE Middle East sub-committee, as a “partner for democracy”.
Bensaid and Chekkaf said they would stage a sit-in at the Allenby Bridge crossing between Jordan and the West Bank until the EU visit ends on Tuesday afternoon, before flying home to Morocco from Amman.
The remaining 16 members of the delegation of Council of Europe’s sub-committee on the Middle East were allowed to cross the border, Bensaid said.
He added that the team is touring the region to prepare a report on the Middle East.
“We denounce that fact that it is the Israelis who grant visas between two sovereign territories, because Palestine, despite all the problems, has now been recognized by the United Nations,” Bensaid said.
Last November, Palestine was accorded the status of observer state at the world body.
Jordanian officials were not immediately available for comment.
Headed by Josette Durrieu, a member of the French Senate, the group met King Abdullah II and government officials in Amman on Sunday.
The Allenby Bridge is also known as King Hussein Bridge between the West Bank and Jordan.
Morocco is one of the rare Arab countries to receive Israeli officials despite the absence of formal diplomatic relations. Egypt, Jordan and Mauritania are the only Arab states to have forged full diplomatic ties with Israel.
The graffiti on the Tuku village’s Bilal bin Rabah mosque included a threat that Palestinian stone-throwers would “pay the price” unless they stopped. They sprayed similar slogans on the Salah al-Din al-Ayoubi mosque.
Settlers also slashed the tires of two cars that were parked in the street, locals said.
Residents also said Israeli soldiers had guarded the settlers who participated in the vandalism.
An Israeli military spokeswoman did not say if troops were present in the area at the time of the incident, but she said security forces were looking into the attack.
She confirmed that graffiti was found and the tires of two cars were slashed.
The mayor of Tuqu, Taysir Abu Mfareh, told Ma’an that the Israeli side informed Palestinian workers in the nearby settlements that they would be banned from working in Israel if Israeli cars continued coming under rock attack.
The Palestinian Islamic-Christian commission denounced the incident.
It called the attack a “flagrant violation” of international law, freedom of worship, and the obligations of Israel as the occupying power in Palestine. Israel should respect places of worship, it said.
Israel returns land to Palestinians
Also Sunday, Israeli media reported that a Tel Aviv court ordered 100 dunams of land within the illegal Alfei Menashe settlement to be returned to their Palestinian owners.
Israel’s Haaretz newspaper said the court ruled that the contracts purportedly documenting the sale of the land were forged.
The land originally belonged to Palestinians who fled to Jordan when Israel entered the West Bank in 1967, and the territory was catagorized as abandoned, according to the report.
The judge in the case sided with the Palestinian owners and said it should be re-registered under their names, Haaretz said, basing the decision in part on the Civil Administration’s lack of approval.
The verdict was considered significant because the main organization representing settlers in the occupied West Bank do not typically receive Civil Administration approval for outposts they later seek to convert to “legal” under Israel’s law.
The names and email addresses of some 1,500 Mossad agents have been made public in Google Docs
GAZA, (PIC)– Palestinian political analysts said that the cyberattacks on Israeli websites on Sunday can be very costly for the Israeli occupation and the next few hours will reveal the severity of its losses.
Political analyst Hasan Abdo told the Palestinian information center (PIC) that such cyberwarfare could be considered one of the most effective modern tools to confront the occupation and its crimes, calling for not underestimating it.
“Having such large number of supporters for the Palestinian cause from all over the world joining forces with each other to launch such coordinated and successful attack confirms that this warfare is going to bear fruit,” Abdo emphasized.
He added that the coming hours would disclose the size of the Israeli failure to protect its electronic defenses.
For his part, Tawfiq Abu Shumer, a specialist in Israeli affairs, told the PIC that the cyberattacks undoubtedly affect and destabilize the Israeli occupation state, noting that the Israeli government hastened yesterday after receiving threats in this regard to warn its citizens to be cautious when dealing with emails and websites.
Abu Shumer hailed the international hacking group “Anonymous” for waging cyberattacks on behalf of the Palestinian people against the Zionist entity that occupied their land.
He also appreciated its stated support for the Palestinian people and their national cause and urged it to continue its cyberwarfare against the occupation and to target the most important Israeli security and military websites.
Dozens of Israeli websites were hacked in early hours Sunday, including pages of the Israeli premier’s office and the Tel Aviv stock exchange, in the largest cyber offensive yet against the Israeli occupation regime.
The cyberattack was dubbed as “Operation Israel” and led by the multinational hacking group “Anonymous,” which says its cyber campaign aims to retaliate to Israel’s crimes in Gaza and the West Bank.
Several official websites were defaced today with photos of long-term hunger striker Samer Issawi, deceased Palestinian prisoner Maysara Abu Hamdiya and other posters reflecting the group’s support for Palestine and its people.
“The names and email addresses of some 1,500 Mossad agents have also been made public in the Google Documents service.”
The organizers said it would be “the largest Internet battle in the history of mankind” that would eventually “wipe Israel off the map of the Internet” on April 7.
For its part, Haaretz newspaper also said today that the Israeli websites were hit widely in a wave of cyberattacks and the extent of damage is yet unknown.
VIDEO | Anonymous – #Operation Israel (v2.0)
During November 2012 Israel’s aggression towards the people living in the Gaza strip resulted in the deaths of more than one hundred people. This included thirty children and wounding more than 1000 others. At the time of the aggression, #OpIsrael was launched. Within few hours of the operation launch there were thousands of defaces and hacks, databases released or deleted, dozens of disruptions to government sites and more. Peace had been achieved for the residents of Gaza and Israel. However, this peace was short lived.
As many mainstream media outlets have made known, Israel has broken the November 21st ceasefire truce by launching air strikes in northern Gaza. What these mainstream media outlets do not allow you to know is that Israel has violated the ceasefire agreement more than one hundred times, killing four palestinians in Gaza, and injuring dozens of others between November 21st and today.
Furthermore, Palestinians from Gaza to the West Bank continue to be attacked, raided, segregated, imprisoned and grossly mistreated in prison while illegal Israeli settlements and Israeli land theft continues unchecked, even after a UN panel declared these settlements illegal in January. Gaza suffers a seemingly endless and inhumane blockade where the only import is Israeli sewage pumped directly into it and US made teargas, bombs, and bullets that are used by the IDF to attack a largely defenseless population.
To the government of Israel: You have NOT stopped your endless human right violations. You have NOT stopped illegal settlements. You have NOT respected the ceasefire. You have shown that you do NOT respect international law. This is why that on April 7, elite cyber-squadrons from around the world have decided to unite in solidarity with the Palestinian people against Israel as one entity to disrupt and erase Israel from cyberspace.
We are Anonymous.
We are Legion.
We do not forgive.
We do not forget.
To the Government of Israel, it is too late to EXPECT US.
(Source / 08.04.2013)
This was the background to a March 26 pledge by the Arab League to establish a $1 billion fund to protect East Jerusalem’s Arab and Islamic characters. Both have been rapidly eroded as Israel has intensified its hold on the occupied half of the city over the past decade. East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel, in violation of international law, following the 1967 war.
The urgent need for action by Arab leaders was suggested at the Doha summit last month. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the fund, and indicated a lack of US commitment to solving the conflict, presumably gauged during President Barack Obama’s brief visit to Ramallah.
Assuming the Arab League makes good on its commitment – similar promises have quietly been broken in the past – the fund will serve only to highlight the very problems it seeks to alleviate.
Following the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000, Israel eradicated all Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem.
Today, Palestinian residents, cut adrift from the hinterland of the West Bank by walls and fences, desperately need a financial and political lifeline – the critical importance of such support was underlined in Gaza at the weekend, when a group of Palestinians stormed an aid compound after the UN decided to scale back some handouts because of a shortage of funding.
In East Jerusalem the question is, how does the Arab League intend to deliver the aid? To whom will the funds go when there are no institutions left to receive them? And how can money be disbursed without giving Israel an oversight role that would defeat the very purpose for which the fund was set up?
The reality is that Mr Abbas and the Arab League are at least a decade too late to protect East Jerusalem. In the current circumstances, such a cash fund will do little more than salve consciences.
The extent of the crisis facing East Jerusalem was underscored in a report published in December by the International Crisis Group, a conflict resolution organisation based in Brussels and Washington. It revealed that, bereft of Palestinian institutions, political parties and security forces to maintain order, there has been rapid social breakdown in East Jerusalem.
Filling the void have been local gangsters, with Israel content to watch crime and drugs deepen social, political and religious divisions, while its own police recruit the criminals to act as informants and agents provocateur.
Israel cracks down on Palestinian nationalism or dissent, with the ultimate aim of encouraging Palestinian migration from the city.
Perhaps not so paradoxically, given the severe restrictions on organised Palestinian activity, the main actors trying to stop the descent into chaos have been Israeli.
Sheikh Raed Salah and the leaders of the Islamic Movement, one of the main parties for Palestinians in Israel, have mobilised support under the slogan “Al Aqsa is in danger”, in reference to the compound of mosques in the Old City over which Israel is trying to assert sovereignty.
And Israeli leftists have set up solidarity movements to try to curb the inroads made by settlers in taking over Palestinian neighbourhoods close to the Old City like Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan.
Neither group, however, has been able to reverse East Jerusalem’s growing isolation. Instead, Palestinian residents have been abandoned to their individual fates, facing off against a hostile occupier.
The traditional Palestinian strategy in East Jerusalem – of simply wishing Israel away – is clearly no longer tenable. The absence of Palestinian institutions has allowed Israel to entrench settlements, weaken the local population’s cohesion, and revoke the residency of a large number of Palestinians each year.
In another sign of how completely the Palestinian Authority has been sidelined, Mr Abbas has reportedly conceded the role of protecting the Muslim holy sites to Jordan, a provision contained in Jordan’s 1994 peace treaty with Israel.
Ordinary Palestinians, however, cannot look to Amman for salvation. Sensing they must adapt or perish, growing numbers are rethinking their approach.
Record numbers are applying to upgrade their residency to Israeli citizenship; the Israeli matriculation exam is being preferred over the Palestinian equivalent; more students are enrolling in Israeli colleges; some youths are volunteering for Israeli national service; and Palestinian neighbourhoods are co-operating with the municipality on street-naming.
A recent poll conducted in East Jerusalem even found that, were there a peace agreement, a majority of Palestinians in East Jerusalem would prefer to remain under Israeli rule. Those findings need to be treated with extreme caution, but they will have contributed to the unease of Mr Abbas and the Arab League.
Experts concede that efforts by Palestinians to integrate into Israeli life signal no great love of Israel. Rather, residents of East Jerusalem have understood that denied alternatives, they may have no other hope of surviving in their city. They have looked to the example of the 1.4 million Palestinians in Israel and seen that their citizenship offers limited protections even while it does almost nothing to end discrimination.
Integration, in the view of a growing number, provides a platform for a local struggle for civil rights, even if at the same time it alienates them from the national struggle. Such actions are seen as a reinvention of the Palestinian tradition of sumud (steadfastness), not capitulation.
Nonetheless, the movement of Jerusalem’s Palestinians towards Israel, however reluctantly undertaken, is also a rebuke to Mr Abbas and the Arab world. Even with a pledge of $1 billion, it is difficult not to conclude that both have failed Jerusalem.
(Source / 08.04.2013)
Muhammad Sabanah, from Qabatia near Jenin, was detained on Feb. 16 at the Allenby Bridge as he returned to the West Bank from Jordan.
He was charged with contacting “enemy entities,” his lawyer Muhannad al-Kharraz told Ma’an.
Sabanah’s family said the verdict was a relief as it would end the pressure of interrogation. They added that the cartoonist is not affiliated to any political party.
Sabanah’s cartoons are widespread in the Arab world. He is well-known for his criticism through his cartoons, which focus mainly on the Palestinian people’s problems and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
“As of noon on Monday, the state of alert continues and the efforts and activity to prevent the cyber attacks that began on Saturday night are ongoing,” the agency said in a statement.
It said the Shin Bet and other agencies responsible for cyber security had “managed to locate and prevent attacks aimed at harming many websites and ISPs serving civilians.”
The agency had recently issued a fresh set of security guidelines to government agencies and to the business sector, it said.
“So far, the incidents are at a low level and have not caused any damage to websites, civilian ‘e-government’ services or to the main communications firms.
“The sites which have been affected are generally private civilian websites with a very basic level of security,” it said.
Over the weekend, hackers associated with the activist group Anonymous reportedly hit the websites of the ministries of defense, foreign affairs and education, among others, with cyber experts saying the damage was “more or less non-existent”.
Last November, Israel was targeted by what it said was an “unprecedented” mass cyber-warfare campaign as it waged an eight-day war on Gaza.
At the time, Anonymous claimed it had downed or erased the databases of nearly 700 Israeli sites in protest.