Protest tents spring up across the West Bank

Palestinian activists protested in a new village near Jerusalem to coincide with US President Barack Obama’s visit last month.

JERUSALEM (IPS) – Tent villages are being set up by Palestinians all over the occupied West Bank to oppose Israeli settlements, building on a protest during the visit of US President Barack Obama last month.

Holding signs reading “Obama: you are on the wrong side of history” and “Obama: you promised hope and change — you gave us colonies and apartheid,” dozens of Palestinian activists set up tents on a hillside just outside of Jerusalem during Obama’s first official visit to Israel last month.

The tent village aimed to draw international attention to the continued construction of Israeli settlements, and to unwavering US support for Israeli policies. It was established in an area of the West Bank known as E-1, where Israel plans to expand the settlement of Maale Adumim.

Activists said in a statement that the village was a step “to claim our right as Palestinians to return to our lands and villages” and “to claim our sovereignty over our lands without permission from anyone.”

Hundreds of Palestinian activists built the first tent encampment called Bab al-Shams, literally “Gate of the Sun,” on privately-owned Palestinian land in the E-1 corridor in January. Despite being violently dispersed by Israeli police and soldiers a few days after it was established, Bab al-Shams inspired the building of even more tent villages throughout the West Bank.

In February, tents were erected in the West Bank village Burin, the site of frequent Israeli settler attacks against Palestinian residents, and then near the southern West Bank town Yatta.

Building on steadfastness

“Our hope is to encourage more and more of this and to build a national movement that brings Palestinians from different parts of Palestine, not only the West Bank, but also theGalilee and other places, to help each other stay on their land,” said Mazin Qumsiyeh, a Palestinian activist who participated in setting up many of the tent villages.

The author of Popular Resistance in Palestine, Qumsiyeh said that the idea behind the tent villages builds on decades of Palestinian steadfastness in resisting Israeli efforts to displace them from their lands. “It’s not a new phenomenon,” he said.

“There are six million Palestinians still living [here] after 90 years of ethnic cleansing, 90 years the Zionist movement tried to basically remove Palestinians from their land. The fact that they stayed is a form of resistance.”

According to a recent survey conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research, of 1,270 Palestinians, 71 percent of respondents believed that “creating facts on the ground, such as the placement of tent encampments in Area C — a zone covering 60 percent of the West Bank — would be an effective means of confronting settlement expansion and protecting land threatened by settlers.”

“Creative ideas”

According to Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a leader in the West Bank village Bilin, which has held weekly demonstrations against Israel’s wall in the West Bank and the surrounding settlements for eight years, the tent encampments represent a new strategy in Palestinian unarmed resistance.

“We try to use creative ideas and new ideas. We try to build our tents, using this type of nonviolent resistance, to stop the plans of the Israelis of building settlements,” Abu Rahmah, who helped build several of the tent villages, said.

“We know about the danger of the plan in E1, in the area of Bab al-Shams; if the Israelis continue this plan, it will destroy the dream of Palestinians for independence and their country.”

Dena Qaddumi is an architect and co-founder of arenaofspeculation.org, a website dedicated to exploring “spatial resistance” in Israel-Palestine. She said that the tent encampments signal a less reactionary form of Palestinian resistance, especially since they sparked critical discussions both locally and internationally.

“Every day, Palestinians are spatially resisting in their particular localities but thus far it has been difficult to bring this together en masse so that they not only make international headlines, but expand the imagination — and this is critical — of Palestinians in Palestine and outside. On this latter point we can say [the tent villages were] a success.”

She said that uniting Palestinians across physical space — Israel bars Palestinians from the West Bank from going to the Gaza Strip, and vice versa, for example — is something Palestinians must address.

“We need to find ways to overcome these spatial constraints. Finding a way to bridge these spatial realities together and narrate the injustice of this situation is paramount.”

(Source / 15.04.2013)

De man met 4 vrouwen

By Marianna Laarif

Er was eens een rijke man die vier vrouwen had, hij hield het meest van de vierde vrouw. Hij sloofde zich voor haar uit, kocht dure kleren voor haar en alles wat kostbaar was. Hij zorgde heel goed voor haar en deed steeds zijn uiterste best. Hij hield ook veel van zijn derde vrouw. Hij was heel trots op haar en wou altijd met haar pronken als ze naar vrienden gingen. Nochtans was hij altijd verschrikkelijk­­ bang dat ze hem ooit zou verlaten voor een andere man. Ook hield de rijke man van zijn tweede vrouw, ze was altijd in de weer voor hem, altijd geduldig, ze was eigenlijk zijn vertrouwelinge.­­ Wanneer hij problemen had, kon hij altijd bij haar terecht en ze kon hem dan ook steeds helpen de moeilijke tijden door te komen.

Zijn eerste vrouw was een zeer loyale partner en leverde grote bijdragen om zijn rijkdom en zijn zaken te onderhouden. Ze zorgde steeds perfect voor het huishouden en hoewel de eerste vrouw veel van haar man hield, hield de rijke man toch niet van haar en hij bekeek haar nauwelijks. Maar op een dag werd de rijke man ziek en hij wist dat hij binnenkort zou gaan sterven. Hij dacht na over het luxeleven dat hij altijd geleid had en zei bij zichzelf: “Nu heb ik vier vrouwen, maar als ik sterf, ben ik alleen, wat zal ik eenzaam zijn!”. Dus vroeg hij aan de vierde vrouw: “ik hield van jou het meest, heb je altijd de kostbaarste dingen gegeven en goed voor je gezorgd. Nu ik binnenkort zal sterven, wil jij me volgen en me gezelschap houden?”. “Geen sprake van!” antwoordde de vierde vrouw en ze liep weg zonder verder nog iets te zeggen. Het antwoord sneed als een scherp mes in het hart van de rijke man.

De verdrietige rijke man vroeg aan zijn derde vrouw: “ik heb mijn hele leven zoveel van je gehouden, nu ik binnenkort zal sterven, wil jij me volgen en me gezelschap houden?”. “Nee! antwoordde de derde vrouw, het leven is hier zo goed! Wanneer jij sterft, ga ik hertrouwen!”. De rijke man’s hart werd koud bij het horen van die harde woorden.”

Daarna vroeg hij aan de tweede vrouw: “ik ben altijd bij jou gekomen als ik hulp nodig had en je hebt me altijd uit de nood geholpen. Nu heb ik opnieuw hulp nodig, wanneer ik zal sterven, wil jij me volgen en me gezelschap houden?”. Het spijt me, maar deze keer kan ik je niet helpen!” zei de tweede vrouw. Het enige dat ik voor je kan doen is je naar je graf begeleiden.” Het antwoord kwam als een donderslag bij heldere hemel en de rijke man was helemaal van zijn stuk gebracht.

Opeens klonk er een stem: “ik zal met je meegaan, ik zal je volgen, waar je ook gaat.” De rijke man keek op en zag zijn eerste vrouw, ze was graatmager, alsof ze ondervoed was. Dankbaar, maar toch met spijt in zijn hart zei de rijke man: “ik had beter voor je moeten zorgen toen ik het nog kon!”.

Eigenlijk hebben we allemaal vier vrouwen in ons leven… de vierde is ons lichaam, het maakt niet uit hoeveel kosten, tijd en moeite we besteden om het er goed te laten uitzien, het zal ons toch verlaten als we sterven. Onze derde vrouw is onze bezittingen, status en rijkdom, wanneer we sterven, gaan ze allemaal naar anderen. De tweede vrouw is onze familie en vrienden, het maakt niet uit hoe dierbaar ze ons zijn geweest tijdens ons leven, de verst dat ze kunnen meegaan is tot aan ons graf. De eerste vrouw is onze ziel, ze wordt dikwijls verwaarloosd in het nastreven van materiële rijkdom en plezier. En in feite is het het enige dat ons volgt, waar we ook zullen gaan, misschien is het beter om het nu aandacht te schenken, dan ermee te wachten tot het te laat is.

PPP leader: Haniyeh should resign to pave way for unity govt

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Gaza prime minister Ismail Haniyeh should resign following the departure of Salam Fayyad in order to pave way for a unity government to be formed, the secretary-general of the Palestinian People’s Party said Sunday.

Bassam Salhi told Ma’an that following the resignation of PA prime minister Salam Fayyad both Fatah and Hamas must take serious steps to end the division between Gaza and the West Bank.

The PPP leader urged Abbas to start immediate work on a unity government to be announced in two weeks. The committee tasked with reactivating the PLO should also convene within a two-week time period, Salhi said.

Abbas should hold elections in 3 to 6 months and Palestinian parliament must be convened within a month’s time, the PPP leader added.

President Abbas accepted the resignation of Fayyad on Saturday, despite US efforts to keep him on.

Abbas tasked Fayyad with the role of caretaker for the current government until a new prime minister is appointed, another official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The two men have been at loggerheads amid mounting criticism of the prime minister’s economic policies in the ruling Fatah movement, but Washington has lobbied hard for the US-educated economist to stay on.

(Source / 15.04.2013)

Humanity has no nationality: 2nd anniversary of the murder of Vittorio Arrigoni

Vittorio Arrigoni

Vittorio Arrigoni

“We must remain human, even in the most difficult times …
Because, despite everything, there must always be humanity within us. We have to bring it to others.” -Vittorio Arirgoni

Today marks the second anniversary of the murder of ISM activist and comrade Vittorio Arrigoni in the Gaza Strip. Vittorio arrived in Gaza on the 23rd of August 2009, breaking the Israeli siege on Gaza with around 40 other international activists which he described as one of the happiest moments of his life: “It became clear, not only to the world, but Palestinians also that there are people who are willing to spend their lives to come and hug their brothers here in Gaza.”

From his arrival until his murder on the 15th of April 2011 , Vittorio stayed in Gaza to work with the International Solidarity Movement there where he attended regular demonstrations, helped both farmers and fishermen and documented the countless Israeli crimes against humanity that he witnessed. Vittorio also stayed in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead which massacred hundreds of unarmed Palestinian civilians.

In an interview he said: “I am from a partisan family, my grandfathers fought and died struggling against occupation, a fascist Nazi one. For that reason presumably in my DNA, my blood, there are particles that push me to struggle for freedom and human rights.”

As the children of Gaza continue to be born under siege and the Palestinian people suffer the brutality of the occupation every single day, the best way to honour the memory of Vittorio Arrigoni is to continue his work and never cease to resist. Vittorio continues to be an inspiration to people all over the world resisting injustice and inhumanity. To echo one of his favourite quotes, “A victor is merely a dreamer who never stops dreaming.” Vittorio, we will never forget you.

(Source / 15.04.2013)

A Palestinian Right to Resist?

If journalistic objectivity is applied honestly, it means that all people must have equal standing whether they’re “on our side” or not; outrage over human rights crimes can’t be selective. But Israeli journalist Amira Hass faced fierce attack when she said Palestinians had a right to resist, as Lawrence Davidson notes.

Amira Hass, a reporter for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz who reports on Palestinian affairs in the occupied territories, has come over the years to understand the Palestinians’ plight from their point of view. On April 3, Hass wrote an op-ed for her newspaper entitled “The Inner Syntax of Palestinian Stone-Throwing,” which said:

“It would make sense for Palestinian schools to give classes in resistance: how to build multiple ‘tower and stockade’ villages; . . . how to behave when army troops enter your homes; . . . how to use a video camera to document the violence of the regime’s representatives; . . . how to identify soldiers who have flung you handcuffed to the floor of a jeep, in order to submit a complaint.”

Haaretz journalist Amira Hass.

Hass, who has been writing in this fashion since 1991, and Gideon Levy, another Haaretz reporter, are among the very few Israeli journalists who tell the truth about the Israeli occupation. And, as far as I know, they are the only ones who are regularly translated into English.

In this particular op-ed Hass goes on to contextualize the major resistance practice of Palestinian youth, stone throwing:

“Throwing stones is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule. Throwing stones is an action as well as a metaphor of resistance. Persecution of stone-throwers, including 8-year-old children, is an inseparable part – though it is not always spelled out – of the job requirements of the foreign ruler, no less than shooting, torture, land theft, restrictions on movement, and the unequal distribution of water sources.

“The violence of 19-year-old soldiers, their 45-year-old commanders, and the bureaucrats, jurists and lawyers is dictated by reality. Their job is to protect the fruits of violence instilled in foreign occupation – resources, profits, power and privileges.”

Finally, Hass asks why such instruction in resistance is absent and answers that it is because the Palestine National Authority has decided to “adapt to the existing situation.” This puts the PNA in a position of fearing truly effective resistance as much as the Israeli occupiers do.

Hass’s truth-telling precipitated a flood of protest among Israeli nationalists and expansionists. The hate mail came pouring in to both Hass and her newspaper, and demands that she be prosecuted for “incitement to violence” were made by rightists and settler groups.

One Israeli, the mother of a child seriously injured in a stone-throwing incident, accused Hass of encouraging Palestinians to use deadly violence in their struggle. “There isn’t a person on earth who will achieve freedom and liberty by means of an instrument of death,” she said.

Unfortunately, this assertion is historically untrue. Indeed, the opposite is the reality. It’s very rare that any group wins its freedom and liberty except through the use of “instruments of death.”

Armed resistance seeking self-determination against “colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist regimes” is recognized as legitimate armed conflicts under the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions. That Israel, not surprisingly, chose not to be a party to the Protocol is irrelevant.

Perhaps the most interesting objection to Hass’s position came on April 4 from Cellu Rozenberg, a historian and “national security specialist.” It was printed in Haaretz under the title “Amira Hass’ Glass House.”

In this rebuttal, Rozenberg sometimes misrepresents Hass, as when he asserts that “the claim that stone-throwing is the right of every human being . . . is futile and invalid, certainly in ethical terms.” What Hass actually said was “throwing stones is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule.”

But, let us set aside this error and concentrate on Rozenberg’s more important assertions, such as his claim that stone-throwing is a potentially lethal activity and is unacceptable when used against civilians.

Rozenberg also said Hass recognizes the legitimacy of this deadly form of resistance in both the occupied territories and inside Israel proper because, she asserts, Palestinians face “institutionalized violence” (albeit in different forms) in both areas. According to Rozenberg, “this is a dangerous crossing of the boundary, because it implies a rejection of the Zionist enterprise.”

Rozenberg said Hass’s argument amounts to an assertion that  “Zionism and the establishment of the State of Israel are a crime against the Palestinians.” That puts Hass’s position in line with the one taken by Hamas.

In all of these assertions, Rozenberg is twisting Hass’s intent. Rozenberg does not acknowledge that Hass calls on the Palestinians to make a distinction between armed and the unarmed occupiers. Hass indicated in her op-ed that there are limitations and “rules” to be learned when practicing resistance “including the failures and narrowness of using weapons.” That certainly puts her in a different place than Hamas.

Nonetheless, Rozenberg reveals a seminal question when it comes to the Palestinian struggle: Is Israel legitimate or is it “a crime”?

If Israel is a criminal venture, then it has no more right to exist than any other criminal organization. However, it is to be noted that Rozenberg, being a good Zionist, conflates two different things: the country of Israel and the Zionist state philosophy and apparatus that runs that country.

Must we see them as the same thing? If it turns out that they can be separated, then can we apply the charge of criminality to one of these and not the other?

Zionists will fiercely insist that the country of Israel was born of the Zionist vision and therefore is inseparable from that ideology. But this is not the way history works. South Africa was born of a European racist vision and for a long time was identified as a manifestation of apartheid. However, that turned out to be an impermanent situation, and since 1994, the country of South Africa has run on a very different model.

The country of Russia was founded as the expression of one ideology in the 15th century, transformed into quite a different state in 1917, and then something else again in 1991. If the history of nation-states proves anything at all, it is that state ideologies are much less permanent than the countries they are initially identified with.

So what are we to say about the country of Israel? A good argument can be made that the country, which is now a recognized member of the modern array of nations, has a right to exist. However, at the same time, it can be asserted that its present racist state apparatuses that practice ethnic cleansing and institutionalized discrimination, as well as the Zionist ideology that justifies such practices, are increasingly unacceptable in the modern world and therefore can claim no inherent right to exist.

The vision of the country of Israel with a different form of government, one that functions to support equally the rights of all of its citizens, is a quite sensible one. It is a goal that is being pursued in many ways (for instance the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement) and, eventually, has a fair chance of success.

And, just so that this writer is clearly understood, this criterion for an acceptable form of government should be a universal one. It makes no difference who the marginalized group is: non-Jews in Israel, Sunnis in Shiite Iran, Shiites in Sunni Saudi Arabia or Bahrain, Tamils in Sri Lanka, Muslims in Myanmar, Native Americans in the U.S., etc., etc. (the list is depressingly long).

All governments should be pressured to reform in the direction of democratic egalitarianism. One might dismiss this as naive idealism, but the South African case suggests otherwise.

And, one might ask, what are the alternatives for those of an activist frame of mind? Are we to retreat into passive acceptance of the world’s criminality? Are we to bury our heads in the sands of localism and quietude? Are we to join the exploiters and oppressors and reap the material benefits of doing so?

There are many choices. Why not follow the example of Amira Hass and choose one that may make the world a better place?

(Source / 15.04.2013)

Kerry and the Fake Peace Process

For almost two decades, the seemingly perpetual Middle East “peace process” has been like a hamster-wheel for Palestinians and a merry-go-round for Israelis All the movement has been a form of running or turning in place. Nothing ever really changes.

As Secretary of State John Kerry shuttles around the Middle East, ostensibly to “kick-start” a resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu insisting that any new negotiations must be “without preconditions” and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas insisting, among other things, that any new negotiations must be time-limited, it is worth recalling a prior negotiations resumption ceremony held at the White House on September 2, 2010.

In announcing that resumption, Mr. Kerry’s predecessor, Hillary Rodham Clinton, stated that that new round of negotiations should be “without preconditions”, as Mr. Netanyahu had insisted, and that both Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas had agreed that the negotiations should be subject to a one-year time limit or deadline, as Mr. Abbas had insisted.

That round of negotiations went nowhere, and the formally announced “deadline” proved meaningless – for one clear and critical reason.

Throughout this “peace process”, all deadlines, starting with the five-year deadline for achieving a permanent peace agreement set in the “Oslo” Declaration of Principles signed almost 20 years ago, have been consistently and predictably missed. Such failures have been guaranteed by the practical reality that, for Israel, “failure” has had no consequences other than a continuation of the status quo, which, for all Israeli governments, has been not only tolerable but preferable to any realistically realizable alternative.

For Israel, “failure” has always constituted “success”, permitting it to continue confiscating Palestinian land, expanding its West Bank colonies, building more Jews-only bypass roads and generally making the occupation even more permanent and irreversible.

In everyone’s interests, this must change. For there to be any chance of success in any new round of negotiations, failure must have clear and compelling consequences which Israelis would find unappealing – indeed, at least initially, nightmarish.

In an interview published on November 29, 2007, in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, Mr. Netanyahu’s predecessor, Ehud Olmert, declared, “If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished.”

This article helpfully referred to a prior Ha’aretz article, published on March 13, 2003, in which Mr. Olmert had expressed the same concern in the following terms: “More and more Palestinians are uninterested in a negotiated, two-state solution, because they want to change the essence of the conflict from an Algerian paradigm to a South African one. From a struggle against ‘occupation’, in their parlance, to a struggle for one-man-one-vote. That is, of course, a much cleaner struggle, a much more popular struggle – and ultimately a much more powerful one. For us, it would mean the end of the Jewish state.”

If Israeli public opinion could be brought around to sharing the perception of Israel’s position and options reflected in Mr. Olmert’s perceptive public pronouncements, the Palestinians would be entering any new round of direct negotiations in a position of strength, intellectually and psychologically difficult though it would be for Palestinians to imagine such a dramatic role reversal.

All that the Palestinian leadership would need to do is to state at the time that any new negotiations are launched that, if a definitive peace agreement on a two-state basis has not been reached and signed within one year, the Palestinian people will have no choice but to seek justice and freedom through democracy – through full rights of citizenship in a single state in all of Israel/Palestine, free of any discrimination based on race or religion and with equal rights for all who live there.

The Arab League should then publicly state that the very generous Arab Peace Initiative, which, since March 2002, has offered Israel permanent peace and normal diplomatic and economic relations with the entire Arab world in return for Israel’s compliance with international law, remains on offer but will expire and be “off the table” if a definitive Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement has not been signed prior to this one-year deadline.

Framing the choice before Israelis with such clarity would ensure that the Israeli leadership would be inspired  — indeed, compelled – to make the most attractive two-state offer to the Palestinians which Israeli public opinion could conceivably find acceptable. At that point – but not before – serious and meaningful negotiations could begin.

Israel’s vast colonization program may already have made it too late to achieve a decent two-state solution (as opposed to an indecent, less-than-a-Bantustan one), but a decent two-state solution would never have a better chance of being achieved. If it is, indeed, too late, then Israelis, Palestinians and the world will know and can thereafter focus their minds and efforts constructively on the only other decent alternative.

It is even possible that, if forced to focus on the prospect of living in a democratic state with equal rights for all its citizens — which, after all, is what the United States and the European Union hold up, in all other instances, as the ideal form of political life — many Israelis might come to view this “threat” as less nightmarish than they traditionally have.

In this context, Israelis might wish to talk with some white South Africans. The transformation of South Africa’s racial-supremicist ideology and political system into a fully democratic one has transformed them, personally, from pariahs into people welcomed throughout their region and the world. It has also ensured the permanence of a strong and vital white presence in southern Africa in a way that prolonging the flagrant injustice of a racial-supremicist ideology and political system and imposing fragmented and dependent “independent states” on the natives could never have achieved. This is not a precedent to dismiss. It could inspire.

Any new negotiations toward ending the occupation of Palestine on a two-state basis and achieving peace with some measure of justice must be subject to a genuine and credible “final” deadline for success and must have clear and unambiguous consequences for failure. Whether the future of the Holy Land is to be based on partition into two states or on full democracy in one state, a definitive choice must now be made. A fraudulent “peace process” designed simply to kill more time can no longer be tolerated.

(Source / 15.04.2013)

ACTION ALERT | Call-in day to demand Israel release jailed 14-year old Palestinian-American boy

14-year-old Mohammed Khalek, jailed in Israel.

14-year-old Mohammed Khalek, jailed in Israel.

New Orleans, LA – Palestine solidarity activists are urging national participation in a call-in day for a Palestinian-American boy from New Orleans who is being held in an Israeli jail. Eight Israeli soldiers arrested 14-year-old Mohammed Khalek at gunpoint in occupied Palestine early in the morning on April 5, accusing him of rock throwing. During the arrest his braces were broken by the soldiers; afterwards he was shackled for 12 hours. Human Rights Watch, Addameer and other human rights groups have condemned Israel’s treatment of Khalek.

According to Defense for Children International, there are 236 Palestinian children in Israeli detention. Many children have been arrested during the recent protests in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike.

“The U.S. has deliberately ignored the abuses of Palestinians by Israel, as our politicians continue to send over $3 billion a year to support the illegal occupation. We are demanding our representatives take a stand now by supporting their own constituent, Mohammed Khalek. We will not allow our representatives to be silent as they send our tax dollars to imprison children who have been stripped of their land and their rights,” said Jacob Flom, member of Palestine Solidarity Committee, New Orleans.

The Palestine Solidarity Committee is building support for Khalek, with a call in day on Monday April 15. (https://www.facebook.com/events/179667455520918/).

They are asking people around the country to join this action and call the representatives listed below to demand they speak up for child prisoners locked up by Israel with U.S. money.

 

Demands: Release Mohammed Khalek!

  • End U.S. support for Israeli human right abuses, no more U.S. aid!
  • Allow child prisoners legal consul of their choice and family presence.

 

Contact info:

  • U.S. State Department: 202-647-4000
  • U.S. Congressman Cedric Richmond (represents New Orleans)
  • Phone: (202) 225-6636 or (504) 288-3777
  • US Senator Mary Landrieu (represents New Orleans)
  • Phone: (225) 389-0395 or (202) 224-5824

(Source / 15.04.2013)

IOF soldiers storm village municipality, detain employees

 

BETHLEHEM, (PIC)– Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed the municipality building of Taku village in Bethlehem and detained employees in one of the offices at noon Sunday.

One of the employees told Quds Press in a telephone contact during the detention that the soldiers arrived in six armored vehicles and encircled the municipality building.

He said that the soldiers accompanied by intelligence agents conversed with the municipality chairman and the director.

The operation came in line with investigation into the writing of racist slogans on the walls of two mosques in the village by Jewish settlers, who also threatened the municipality chairman.

In another Bethlehem village, Ahmed Salah, the coordinator of the popular committee in Al-Khader, said that IOF soldiers served summonses to a number of young men in the village.

(Source / 15.04.2013)

Systematic abuse of Palestinians ‘must not go unchecked’

Palestine campaigners called today for people in Britain to press the government to hold Israel to account.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) chairman Hugh Lanning told a conference on Saturday that activists must urge the government to end Israel’s ability to breach international law with “impunity.”

“The policy of governments including our own not to talk to the legitimate representatives of Palestinians is wrong and short sighted,” he said.

Mr Lanning, also the deputy general secretary of Civil Service union PCS, added that the issues affecting the besieged Gaza Strip and the wider Palestinian struggle can’t be separated.

“Palestinians living in Gaza consistently send a clear message that their struggle is not just about the situation of the 1.6 million Palestinians besieged in Gaza but is an integral part of the struggle of all Palestinians for freedom, justice, equality and self-determination.

“And this must include the right of return.”

Former Labour MP Phyllis Starkey, who in 2009 pressed for products from Israeli settlements to be labelled as such, said that the government must be forced to consider Palestinian security in the same way they consider Israeli’s.

Unison Ireland regional secretary Patricia McKeown, who led an Irish Congress of Trade Unions delegation to Gaza, said she “couldn’t believe the extent of denial of human rights in Gaza.

“We thought we knew about the denial of human rights in Northern Ireland. Compared to Gaza we didn’t,” she said.

PSC student officer Azeem Sayani, who organises weekly Skype conversations between students in London and Gaza, told the conference that students there have to study by candlelight as there is only six hours of power a day.

And Palestine Centre for Human Rights founder Raji Sourani warned: “There is no hope for peace with this Israeli government.

“There is only one free person in the West Bank – the settler, the occupier the one with gun.”

(Source / 15.04.2013)

Mahmoud Sarsak in European Parliament

Mahmoud Sarsak – Palestinian football player, member of the Palestine national football team gave a talk in European Parliament on April 11th about the Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. Sarsak spent 3 years in jail under administrative detention, three months on hunger strike while imprisoned without trial in Israel. Sarsak was imprisoned in 9 detention centers and tortured and interrogated for 45 days. He was deprived of food and sleep, kept for a long time in an isolated cell with loud heavy metal music playing for 18 days. When falling asleep he received hot or cold water on his body… « All this for me to confess to things I didn’t do  » he said.

At the end of his interrogation he was classified as « illegal fighter » – a category that didn’t exist before. For 3 years he didn’t see any lawyer nor family, he couldn’t write and receive letters either.. « For them I was only a number and a number doesn’t have any rights. My number was 1220 » Sarsak concluded.

Mahmoud Sarsak is continuing in his efforts to highlight the issue of the Palestinian prisoners at the European political level. Several meetings were organised with the European Parliament to discuss the suffering of the prisoners including the harsh conditions they face inside the occupation prisons.

« This is not only Palestinian cause, it is also about human rights and international law.Palestinians are deprived of treatment when they are sick in prison. Two football players: Omar Abu Rouis and Mohammed Nemer from the Palestine national football team have been in prison for a year now without ever being charged of any crime » – he said

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and the Ministry of Prisoners Affairs a total of 208 Palestinian prisoners have died in Israeli jails since 1967.

Mahmoud Sarsak called on the European Parliament to take urgent action to free Palestinian political prisoners and put pressure on UEFA not to hold sporting competitions in Israel.

(Source / 15.04.2013)