Israel targets southern Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli air forces on Tuesday launched airstrikes at targets in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, locals said and Israeli security officials confirmed.

Locals said the airstrikes targeted two chicken farms in the al-Manara neighborhood in Khan Younis and a tunnel belonging to Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades in the north.

Witnesses said Israeli forces also targeted a training site for Islamic Jihad’s al-Quds Brigades. The site was empty and no injuries were reported.

The Israeli army said the attacks followed reports of rocket fire while soldiers were operating near a border fence. Israel said the fire was aimed at the soldiers but no injuries were reported.

Israeli jets were flying over Gaza for hours late Tuesday.

An Israeli army statement said the air force “retaliated and targeted a weapon manufacturing facility and two terror tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip, and a location used for terror activity in the northern Gaza Strip.”

It added: “Direct hits were confirmed.”

Army spokesman Peter Lerner said that “IDF soldiers came under terrorist fire while engaging in a counter-terrorism activity. Attempts of attacking soldiers will not, by any means, be tolerated by the IDF.”

(Source / 19.11.2013)

Tamarod turns against Egypt’s ruling regime

Person signing the Tamarod petition prior to the coupThe petition organised by the Tamarod movement is said to have been an instrumental factor in the military’s decision to stage coup against the country’s first elected President

Egypt’s Tamarod movement has denounced the Ministry of Interior for attacking a vigil the movement organized in memory of the Mohamed Mahmoud victims. The Ministry claimed that the vigil was organised by members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Tamarod movement’s branch in Alexandria said via their Facebook page: “The Ministry of Interior is a group of thugs… The movement’s members who have been arrested without reason are released… The arbitrary arrest followed false accusations that the protest was organized by members of the Muslim Brotherhood… The incident will not go unnoticed… The protest is organized by Tamarod-Alexandria, the Free Egyptians Party, the Egyptian Popular Current, the 6th of April Movement and the Democratic Front and did not include the Muslim Brotherhood. We thank the Ministry’s General who insulted us with the most heinous of names. Those who attacked the peaceful vigil were soldiers from the army and police. There were two navy vehicles and two police armoured vehicles. They did not even try to talk to us… The minute they disembarked from their vehicles they started shooting cartridges in the air. The soldiers hit us with sticks and dispersed the vigil. The repressive state regime is back.”

(Source / 19.11.2013)

Abbas: We will continue negotiations despite continuation of settlements

Mahmoud Abbas

Abbas emphasized that ‘the Palestinian people believe in peace and the road to peace is through negotiations, and Palestinians know that we adhere to certain constants: the Palestinian state on the borders of 1967, Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state, in addition to the resolution of the refugees issue in accordance with the Arab initiative’

The head of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Mahmoud Abbas, has asserted that the PA will continue with the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations on schedule, despite the fact that Israel is expanding its settlement projects in the occupied Palestinian territories.In an exclusive interview with Agence France-Presse, Abbas said: “We are committed to continuing the negotiations for a period of nine months, no matter what the facts on the ground are.”

While Abbas acknowledged that the Palestinian negotiating delegation had submitted its resignation, he explained that he has not accepted the resignation: “We have not accepted the resignation of the negotiating delegation, the Palestinian leadership is studying it, as the Palestinian leadership decided to take a longer chance to decide, and until this happens, the delegation will continue with its work in running the negotiations.”

Abbas confirmed that he plans to meet with the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, who will visit the region next Friday: “Yes we will meet with him, and we meet with him whenever he arrives to the region,” but he stressed that he would not sign any agreement with Israel “if we don’t have guarantees to reach what the Palestinian people are seeking to achieve through these negotiations”.

He emphasized that “the Palestinian people believe in peace and the road to peace is through negotiations, and Palestinians know that we adhere to certain constants: the Palestinian state on the borders of 1967, Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state, in addition to the resolution of the refugees issue in accordance with the Arab initiative.”

(Source / 19.11.2013)

De lange weg naar de muur

By Engelbert Luitsz                        ©                            (http://www.alexandrina.nl/?p=2769)

wall berliner

De achtergrond

Een van de belangrijkste teksten om het zionisme te begrijpen is ‘De ijzeren muur’ van Vladimir Jabotinsky uit 1923. Jabotinsky had zich al in 1903 aangesloten bij de zionisten, maar gaandeweg werd hij steeds extremer. In 1923 richtte hij de Betar-beweging op, die overal in Europa en de V.S. trainingskampen had om jongeren klaar te stomen voor de kolonisatie van Palestina. Hij is de ideoloog van wat het zionistisch revisionisme wordt genoemd, onder andere bepaald door het streven naar maximaal grondgebied in Palestina. Om zijn doel te bereiken werkte hij samen met joodse terreurgroepen. Jabotinsky was een groot bewonderaar van Mussolini, wiens Nationale Fascistische Partij in 1921 het licht had gezien. De huidige Likoedpartij komt voort uit deze beweging.

In zijn eigen woorden:

Zionistische kolonisatie, zelfs de meest beperkte, moet ofwel worden beëindigd, ofwel worden doorgevoerd tegen de wil van de oorspronkelijke bevolking in. Deze kolonisatie kan derhalve alleen doorgaan en zich ontwikkelen onder bescherming van een kracht die onafhankelijk is van de bevolking ter plekke – een ijzeren muur waar de oorspronkelijke bevolking niet doorheen kan breken. Dit is, in toto, ons beleid ten aanzien van de Arabieren. Elke andere formulering zou hypocriet zijn.

Zoals de historicus Avi Shlaim aantoont in een boek met dezelfde titel ‘De ijzeren muur’, is de filosofie van Jabotinsky in Israël aanwezig vanaf de “linkse” Ben-Goerion tot de “vredesduif” Rabin. En de huidige situatie onder Likoed spreekt voor zichzelf. Onenigheden tussen Jabotinsky en andere zionistische coryfeeën lijken meer te maken te hebben gehad met botsende ego’s dan met fundamentele verschillen in inzicht. Er was echter altijd continuïteit, ook al waren er wat splintergroepjes die er anders over dachten. Ook de Amerikaanse schrijver Lenni Brenner publiceerde een boek onder de titel ‘De ijzeren muur’ in de jaren tachtig. De Israëlische Apartheidsmuur en de afscheidingshekken hebben een lange voorgeschiedenis.

Vanaf het moment dat Palestina onder Brits gezag kwam was het wel duidelijk welke kant het op zou gaan. “24 juli 1920 was het keerpunt voor de Arabieren en de wereld”, schreef de onderzoeksjournalist Edwin Black. Eerder dat jaar hadden de geallieerden in San Remo het Turkse Rijk onderling verdeeld. Maar in de schaduw van die conferentie was er ook een geheime deal gesloten tussen onderhandelaars van Engeland en Frankrijk om de olie van Irak te verdelen. Vanaf dat moment was er geen weg meer terug.

Je kunt het niet vaak genoeg herhalen: de beruchte Balfour-declaratie, die de bron is van zoveel ellende in het Midden-Oosten, werd opgesteld in 1917, toen de Britten nog helemaal geen zeggenschap hadden over Palestina. Ze hadden met evenveel recht Nederland aan de Duitsers kunnen geven.

Israël ontstaat moeizaam

In het begin van de jaren vijftig zat Israël economisch in het slop. De zionisten wilden koste wat kost werken aan een numerieke meerderheid van joden in Palestina en namen daarom tienduizenden joden per jaar op. Het lukte Ben-Goerion een deal met de eerste Bondskanselier Konrad Adenauer te sluiten, via zijn minister van Buitenlandse Zaken Moshe Sharett. De onderhandelingen mondden in 1952 uit in het Verdrag van Luxemburg, waarin werd afgesproken dat Duitsland gedurende 14 jaar geld, goederen en diensten zou leveren ter ondersteuning van de joodse vluchtelingen in Israël.

Diezelfde Ben-Goerion had in 1933 ook al een deal met Hitler gesloten om de internationale boycot tegen Duitsland te omzeilen en tegelijkertijd de zionistische aanwezigheid in Palestina te versterken. En direct na de oorlog zien we opnieuw hoe het zionistische project zich niet laat tegenhouden door details van morele aard (ondanks grote weerstand in Israël zelf en onder joodse Amerikanen). Dat bij al deze samenwerking met “de vijand” de Palestijnen buiten beeld bleven behoeft geen betoog.

Door de agressieve opstelling van Israël ten opzichte van de buurlanden waren Westerse landen niet bereid wapens te leveren. Het scheelde maar weinig of Israël was zelfs uit de Verenigde Naties gezet. Duitsland werd echter al snel Israëls belangrijkste economische bondgenoot en zorgde voor de benodigde wapens. Niet alleen werd zo de Israëlische economie gered, maar men kon zich ook gaan voorbereiden op verdere expansie, wat in 1967 leidde tot de zogenoemde Zesdaagse Oorlog.

Tijdens die oorlog veroverde Israël grote delen van Palestina, waarmee er opeens een enorm potentieel aan goedkope arbeidskrachten ontstond. Na 1967 wordt het voor buitenlandse bedrijven interessant om te investeren in de joodse staat en vanaf dat moment ontstaat ook een flinke elite van miljonairs. Uiteraard profiteerden ook de Palestijnen van deze ommekeer, maar Israël zorgde er wel voor dat de Palestijnen zich niet konden richten op Arabische landen, ze bleven volledig afhankelijk van Israël. Twintig jaar later zullen we zien waartoe dat beleid heeft geleid.

De Russen komen

Die situatie bleef min of meer voortduren tot het uiteenvallen van de Sovjet-Unie. Gedurende de jaren negentig kwamen er ongeveer 1 miljoen Russen naar Israël (bijna 20% van de Israëlische bevolking!). Aanvankelijk waren dat nog ideologische groepen die uit religieuze redenen het Heilige Land opzochten, maar vooral na de coup van Boris Jeltsin in 1993 en de rampzalige gevolgen daarvan voor de Russische economie, kwam de grote uittocht op gang, waarbij honderdduizenden Russen – velen niet eens joods – naar Israël kwamen. Het ging niet allemaal even spontaan, zoals de zionistische propaganda ons wil doen geloven, er werd agressief geworven door scouts ter plekke en er werden websites in het Russisch gemaakt die vooral de armen een goede toekomst in de joodse staat beloofden.

Onder deze groep bevonden zich vooral economische vluchtelingen, een ideale groep om met gesubsidieerde woningen de Westelijke Jordaanoever te gaan koloniseren. Met name Ariel werd een grote Russische kolonie. Deze “nederzetting” is in feite een stad die samen met de infrastructuur van joodse wegen nooit is bedoeld als een tijdelijke oplossing. Het is net als andere grote nederzettingen een de facto uitbreiding van de joodse staat.

Een tweede belangrijke groep waren de Russische wetenschappers, waarmee de kiem werd gelegd voor de formidabele hightechindustrie die zorgde voor een opleving van de Israëlische economie tot de internetzeepbel ontplofte in 2000.

Voor de Palestijnen had dit tot gevolg dat hun arbeidsplaatsen nu werden ingenomen door goedkope Russische werknemers. In maart 1993 begon Israël met een beleid van “sluiting”, waarbij de grens tussen Israël en de bezette gebieden soms gedurende weken werd gesloten. Dit was dus een half jaar vóórdat Rabin en Arafat elkaar de hand schudden in het kader van de Oslo-akkoorden. Zoals altijd werden de maatregelen met betrekking tot het sluiten van de grenzen aangekondigd als “maatregelen tegen terrorisme”, de werkelijke reden was echter dat de Palestijnse krachten niet langer nodig waren. Zelfs een niet-joodse Rus had nog meer recht op land, werk en huis dan een Palestijnse familie die daar al generaties lang had gewoond.

De maatregelen werden steeds verder doorgevoerd, waarbij niet alleen Israël en de bezette gebieden gescheiden werden, maar ook binnen de bezette gebieden “eilandjes” werden gecreëerd met behulp van checkpoints en afscheidingen, zodat de bewegingsruimte en de sociale mogelijkheden van de Palestijnen ernstig werden aangetast. En voor de Palestijnse economie betekende dit uiteraard een regelrechte ramp. Niet alleen het verlies van banen in Israël, maar ook het verlies van landbouwgrond en water leidde tot grote werkloosheid en armoede. Nadat de Palestijnen de Israëlische economie op poten hadden gezet werden ze gedumpt en praktisch gevangen gezet. Dit gebeurde al vanaf 1993, een hint voor mensen die nog denken dat de Tweede Intifada van 2000 een spontane, onbegrijpelijke opstand was van jodenhaters.

Al vanaf 1994 werden er stukken muur neergezet. Tijdens vredesbesprekingen in 2000, de zogenoemde Clinton Parameters, keurde premier Ehud Barak een 74 kilometer lange afscheiding goed. Officieel kwam de goedkeuring voor een totale afscheiding in 2002, met een lengte van ruim 700 kilometer en met 85% op Palestijns gebied. Door de grillige vorm is de muur twee keer zo lang als de Groene Lijn, de wapenstilstandsgrens van 1948. De reden daarvoor is dat de muur grote nederzettingenblokken en waterrijke gebieden bij Israël moest trekken.

In 1999 had de politicoloog Dan Shueftan een boek gepubliceerd, genaamd ‘The Need for Separation: Israel and the Palestinian Entity‘. Ehud Barak zorgde ervoor dat dit boek onder de aandacht van de ministers kwam. De strekking was dat Arabieren anti-democratisch, corrupt, gewelddadig en achterlijk waren. De zionistische superioriteit op cultureel en economisch gebied zou te lijden hebben onder vermenging met dit minderwaardige volk, vandaar dat een fysieke barrière tussen beide volken noodzakelijk was. Het had dus niets met “terrorisme” te maken. De Tweede Intifada brak ook pas eind 2000 uit, lang na publicatie van Shueftans boek.

Wat een veel grotere rol speelde dan het Palestijnse verzet, waren de economische ontwikkelingen in Israël. Het land was zeer zwaar getroffen door de dot-com bubble, in 2000 was het land in crisis. Het moest een andere melkkoe vinden dan de hightechindustrie en dat vond het in de vorm van expertise op het gebied van veiligheid, informatie- en communicatietechnologie en terrorismebestrijding. Een belangrijk onderdeel van het Verdrag van Luxemburg was de Shilumim-overeenkomst geweest, waarmee Israël in een keer een grote stap zette op het gebied van telecommunicatie. De Russische geleerden die in de jaren 90 waren binnengehaald – meer dan de zionisten er zelf in 80 jaar hadden geproduceerd – konden ook hier weer goede diensten bewijzen. Met meer dan 50 jaar ervaring met het onderdrukken van Palestijnen en het bevechten van de buurlanden had het kennis in huis waar talloze landen niet veel later om zouden smeken.

9/11

De War on Terror die volgde op de aanslagen van 11 september 2001 zorgde voor een ongekende opleving van de Israëlische economie. Alle energie werd gestopt in ‘homeland security‘ en in 2004 deed Israël het al beter dan de meeste Westerse economieën. Niet alleen kon men in Israël bogen op een lange ervaring, men kon ook dagelijks blijven oefenen en nieuwe producten, strategieën en tactieken uitproberen. Als geen ander Westers land had Israël de beschikking over miljoenen Palestijnen die in de Gazastrook en de Westelijke Jordaanoever waren overgeleverd aan de onmenselijke experimenten van de politieke en militaire macht.

Dit menselijke laboratorium moest natuurlijk wel operationeel blijven. Daarvoor zorgden de blokkade van de Gazastrook en de voltooiing van de Apartheidsmuur. De meesters van de massapsychologie wisten maar al te goed dat er gewelddadige reacties zouden komen uit de Gazastrook, als reactie op de opsluiting, de invallen en de moorden door het Israëlische leger. Hamas was per slot van rekening door Israël zelf naar voren geschoven toen Arafat te populair werd op het internationale toneel. Keer op keer werden deze reacties aangegrepen om een aanval te lanceren waarbij steeds opnieuw wapens konden worden uitgetest op burgers. Propaganda deed de rest, het beeld van het arme Israël dat werd aangevallen met zelfgemaakte raketten uit de Gazastrook werd door praktisch alle grote media en de politici in het Westen overgenomen en geaccepteerd als reden voor Israëls buitensporige collectieve straffen. Dat de werkelijkheid nog cynischer was, namelijk het uitproberen van nieuwe technologie die vervolgens verkocht werd aan datzelfde Westen, bleef al helemaal buiten schot.

De Westelijke Jordaanoever wordt in rap tempo overgenomen door Israël, dus die dient een ander doel. Je gaat geen land in puin schieten dat je zo snel mogelijk zelf wilt gaan bewonen. Hier wordt onder andere geëxperimenteerd met crowd control. De muur zelf is een tactisch wapen dat leidt tot onvrede, armoede en opstand onder de Palestijnen. De checkpoints zijn psychologische wapens, net als de nachtelijke raids. Men kan hier vrijuit de nieuwe traangasgranaten uitproberen, of het effect van de skunk bekijken, een waterkanon dat een vloeistof verspreid met een zo walgelijke lucht van verrotting dat je niet meer kunt ademen. De geur kan nog jaren in je kleren blijven hangen. Of de impact van de rubberkogels, die in werkelijkheid van staal zijn, met slechts een rubberen coating.

Ook onder Palestijnen zitten collaborateurs en Israël zorgt er wel voor dat er net genoeg “verzet” is om de wapenindustrie profijtelijk te houden, zonder dat er ook maar enig reëel gevaar voor Israëls veiligheid is. Ook vreedzame demonstranten worden met bovengenoemde middelen aangepakt, waarbij ook doden zijn gevallen. Kinderen vanaf 5 jaar worden geboeid, geblinddoekt en vastgezet.

Grenzen

Voor de zionisten zijn grenzen een werkhypothese. Er is een geografische grens, de Jordaanrivier, en een demografische, de Apartheidsmuur, en die geven het zionistische beleid handvatten om actieplannen op te stellen. In 2007 was de technologische sector, vooral gerelateerd aan veiligheid, verantwoordelijk voor 60% van de export. Het is geen toeval, zegt de schrijfster Naomi Klein, dat het moment dat Israël besloot anti-terrorisme tot speerpunt van z’n economie te maken, precies samenviel met het verlaten van het vredesoverleg, en met het reframen van het conflict als een strijd tegen een irrationele en fanatieke horde, en niet als een strijd tegen een volk dat strijdt voor z’n rechten en z’n land.

De ijzeren muur van Jabotinsky is als een decorstuk in een macaber theater, het wordt naar believen opgehaald of neergelaten, al naargelang de grillen van de Israëlische economie. De expertise die Israël op immorele wijze verkrijgt wordt voor veel geld verkocht, maar is daarmee ook de zwakke schakel. Zonder de onderdrukking van de Palestijnen zou de Israëlische economie opnieuw in zwaar weer geraken.

De term ‘langzame genocide‘ is al vaker gevallen, hopelijk geeft dit stukje meer inzicht in de betekenis van zowel het bijvoeglijk als het zelfstandig naamwoord. ‘Genocide’ omdat dat in de filosofie van het zionisme besloten ligt, ‘langzaam’ omdat dat nu eenmaal meer oplevert.

Israeli forces attack, detain 2 fishermen off Gaza coast

An Israeli naval ship sprays a Palestinian fishing boat with a water cannon off the coast of the Gaza Strip.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — In the third such incident in less than 10 days, Israeli naval forces opened fire on two Palestinian fisherman near the Gaza Strip and subsequently took them into custody on Sunday afternoon.

Israeli forces encountered the fishing vessel 1.5 nautical miles from shore, northwest of Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza. They opened fire on the fishermen and then surrounded the boats, demanding the two fishermen swim to their boat, according to a report by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

While the fisherman swam towards the gunboats, Israeli forces continued spraying the water with bullets, and they confiscated the boat’s 10 nets.

Ammar As’ad Abdel Malek al-Sultan, 21, and Muhsin Akram Diab Zayed, 24, from al-Salatin neighborhood in Beit Lahiya were detained and taken to the Israeli city of Ashdod for questioning. Around 3 a.m. on Monday morning the pair were released via Erez crossing back into the Gaza Strip, but Israeli forces kept their boat and belongings.

A Palestinian Center for Human Rights report strongly condemned the incident, saying that “the continuous attacks against Palestinian fishermen … violate their right to sail and fish freely in the Gaza waters.”

The report also noted that “economic and social rights of fishermen have been violated by the illegal naval blockade imposed by Israeli authorities on the Gaza waters since June 2007.”

The attack follows a similar incident on Nov. 10, when Israeli naval forces attacked and detained two fishermen 3 nautical miles off the coast, with one fisherman sustaining bullet-shrapnel wounds to the abdomen from Israeli gunfire. On Nov. 9, Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian boats as well and confiscated a number of items, but did not detain any fishermen, who fled.

An Israeli army spokeswoman did not return calls or emails regarding the incident.

The Gaza Strip has been under a severe blockade imposed by the State of Israel since 2006.

Palestinian fishermen are only allowed to go 3 nautical miles from Gaza’s shore, even though Israeli-Palestinian agreement previously settled on 20 nautical miles. Israeli naval forces frequently harass Palestinian fishermen who near the 3-mile limit, as well as those inside the zone.

There are 4,000 fishermen in Gaza. According to a 2011 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross 90 percent are poor, an increase of 40 percent from 2008 and a direct result of Israeli limits on the fishing industry.

The Israeli blockade has severely limited the imports and exports of the Gaza Strip and has led to frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gazans.

(Source / 19.11.2013)

Gazans in double border trouble with Egypt and Israel

A smuggler carries food from Kentucky Fried Chicken to be delivered through an underground tunnel linking the Gaza Strip to Egypt, on May 13, 2013 in Rafah

Rafah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) – It was the publicity stunt of the year in Hamas-ruled Gaza: the delivery of Kentucky Fried Chicken from a branch in Egypt through a tunnel under their shared border.

But since the service was launched in spring, the Hamas-friendly Egyptian government of Mohamed Morsi has been toppled in an army coup.

And since then, Egypt’s military has destroyed hundreds of the tunnels, sending the takeaway orders into free-fall with the rest of Gaza’s economy, already squeezed by trade restrictions imposed by its other neighbour, Israel.

In Rafah, the sprawling city which straddles the Gaza-Egypt border, the dust raised by hectic smuggling activity has settled in the wake of the Egyptian army’s campaign against the tunnels.

Just a few scattered diggers are working under tarpaulins covering the entrances to abandoned tunnels, excavating “for the future”.

“Is there a future for tunnels? Not with Sisi,” sighs a Gazan border police officer, referring to Egyptian military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

View gallery.”

A Palestinian woman cooks her food on fire wood in …

A Palestinian woman cooks her food on fire wood in Biet Hanun northern Gaza Strip, on November 19, 2 …

The flow of state-subsidised Egyptian fuel to Gaza has all but dried up since the July coup, dwindling from about a million litres a day in June to 10,000-20,000 litres a week now, according to the latest report of the UN Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The shortage caused the shutdown on November 1 of the Palestinian territory’s only power plant, which provided about a third of the strip’s electricity.

The closure has resulted in power cuts for 16 hours a day.

Without electricity, water treatment stations have stopped working, and last week sewage began spilling onto the streets of several neighbourhoods in Gaza City.

Now the Al-Yamama delivery company is looking back nostalgically on its days of delivering Egyptian KFC.

View gallery.”

Palestinians wait to cross from the Gaza Strip to Egypt …

Palestinians wait to cross from the Gaza Strip to Egypt at the Rafah crossing terminal on November 1 …

“Despite the high prices because of transport costs, people paid to have something that does not exist here,” said Haitham al-Shami, a 29-year-old partner in the business.

“It was a challenge,” he said, “to show that Gaza is not only war and death. We love life, but we have nothing.”

His subterranean fast food service, largely conceived to promote Al-Yamama’s business, lasted only a month before being banned by Hamas “for public health reasons” even before the tunnel crackdown, Shami said.

According to Palestinian economist Omar Shaaban, Gazans had developed a taste for small luxuries, which Israeli and Egyptian restrictions have taken away again.

“Gaza is a modern society. People in Gaza know Nescafe and capuccino and these products,” he said.

View gallery.”

Palestinians wait to cross from the Gaza Strip to Egypt …

Palestinians wait to cross from the Gaza Strip to Egypt at the Rafah crossing terminal on November 1 …

“Now we have become a relief society — we depend on international humanitarian assistance for food.”

Israel first imposed its land, sea and air blockade on the coastal strip in 2006 after militants there seized an Israeli soldier, who was eventually freed in a lop-sided prisoner swap in 2011.

It was further tightened in mid-2007 when the Islamic militant group Hamas took control of Gaza.

Israel eased the blockade slightly following an international outcry after its botched commando raid on a Turkish Gaza-bound flotilla in 2010, allowing food and some building materials to be trucked in.

“The siege destroyed the industrial productive sector, the siege prevented any export from Gaza, only five or six items were allowed,” said Shaban, director of local think-tank Palthink.

“We’re not suffering because of a lack of rain or because we don’t have food. It’s a man-made catastrophe, because somebody decided to make our life difficult,” he added.

“We are a hostage by four kidnappers,” he said, naming Israel, Hamas, the Western-backed Palestinian Authority which rules the West Bank, and the international community.

Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Shtayyeh wrote last month in left-leaning Israeli daily Haaretz that token Israeli economic measures would not change the Palestinians’ lives.

“In recent years, some international parties have tried to convince the world that solutions begin by removing a roadblock or allowing ketchup and mayonnaise into Gaza,” he said.

“What Palestine needs is ending the Israeli occupation, which is the only way for Palestine to reach its full economic potential.”

(Source / 19.11.2013)

Syrian Coalition: Abdel Qader Saleh: FSA Hero Falls but Will Never be Forgotten

The Syrian National Coalition issued a statement today mourning the martyrdom of Abdul Qadir al-Saleh, Commander of al-Tawhid Brigade and devoted son of Syria, who became a fallen hero yesterday. He died from wounds sustained a few days ago when Assad’s airplanes raided the city of Aleppo. Dr Louay Safi, spokesman for the Syrian National Coalition said that ” Abdul Qadir al-Saleh was considered one of the most prominent figures of the revolution for several reasons; he was careful to keep his group open to Syrians from all backgrounds, he was committed to the principles of Shura and democracy that the Syrian Coalition has been adhering to, and he combined toughness with modesty.” Safi added that “Abdul Qadir al-Saleh became a symbol of resistance to tyranny in Syria when he chose to take a stand for the rights of the people against the regime, which that is trying to cling to power by force and violence.” The spokesman also called on the FSA “to remain open and diverse, to stand with the rights of all Syrians, and to follow the example of “Hajji Mareh” by cooperating with the political forces working to end tyranny.” The statement added: “33 -year-old Abdul Qadir al-Saleh, the first to initiate peaceful demonstrations in rural Aleppo, the first to break into Assad’s  strongholds in Aleppo, and the founder of Liwa al Tawhid; was martyred according to the will of God whom he sought to honor always, and joined the ranks of thousands of Syria’s martyrs for freedom along with the faithful and the prophets, God willing. Saleh will remain alive in the hearts of all Syrians who witnessed his honesty, sincerity and good conduct.” The Syrian Coalition also stated that ” The Syrian people are all Abdul Qadir al-Saleh. They are all Ghiath Matar and Abu al-Furat; the fallen heroes who sacrificed their lives for this great revolution, as did the children of Dara’a before them. The revolution will give birth to new leaders and commanders who will carry on fighting to defend the Syrian people, and their rights.” Furthermore, the Syrian Coalition stressed that “The revolution does not lose momentum when its men die. It gains strength. The institution Abdul Qadir al-Saleh established will produce leaders that will participate in shaping the present and future of Syria. As the sun rises every day, there will be new, brave fighters who will expose the burrows where the Assad regime’s leaders hide. Perpetrators of crimes against the Syrian people will be punished in Damascus. By closing ranks, and with strengthened faith, the Syrian people will pursue the path of the revolution until victory.”  Saleh was seriously wounded after Assad warplanes targeted the headquarters of the meeting of leaders of Liwa al Tawhid in Aleppo and later died in a hospital in the Turkish city of Gaziantep.
(Source: Syrian Coalition / 19.11.2013)

Gaza under attack

@rosa_schiano#GAZA report of Israeli #airstrikes on Khan Younis and Bedouin village of Um al Nasser. #AlaaHammad202

“The only light in #Gaza is from an Israeli Apache gun ships” –

OH GOD! 2 new air strikes Northern #Gaza & 1 new air strike Eastern Gaza carried out by #Israel warplanes! #GazaUnderAttack

rt Way to go Mahmoud Abbas! Keep up the negations while GAZA is being bombed! #AlaaHammad202

Sounds of drones overhead keep being heard.. thunderous explosions just heard #GazaUnderAttack

via @ImanSourani Isaeli criminal warships launched at least 7 huge ari strikes in different areas in Gaza Stip. Still can hear the planes

Second day of Israel being on its period. #GazaUnderAttack

RT @MarPalestina: Israel is bombing #Gaza right now with warplanes made in the USA #GazaUnderAttack. Pray for all of us in #Gaza

RT @MohammedYIsmail: The last targeting was on the same site of Al-Quds Brigades north of #Gaza, no reported injuries.”

New airstrikes North #Gaza. It has been a long time since we saw this amount of airstrikes.

The Zionist entity couldn’t careless about any peace negotiations! They’re bombing Gaza as we speak! #AlaaHammad202

RT @RobaSalibi: 2 HUGE EXPLOSIONS NORTHERN GAZA.”

Lets hope no1 gets injured or killed 2night! I cant still hear #Israel warplanes in the air, it might not b done yet! #Gaza #GazaUnderAttack

URGENT / A VERY HUGE explosion just heard very near to my house ! now north #AlaaHammad202

Airstrikes are frightening once it’s dark.With half of #Gaza in complete darkness, how many children are beyond terrified at this moment?

with the latest attack in the north of Gaza, total number of Israeli warplanes attacks on Gaza has risen to 5 in only a few minutes

Air strikes on GAZA continue #AlaaHammad202

#Breaking | #Zionist apache planes target northern #Gaza,behind Bisan city twice , |#StopIsrael #Palestine

6 explosion heard in GAza in the world largest open air prison

RT @aerdt: New airstrike North #Gaza targeting a training ground of al Quds brigades. No injuries”

Multiple and consecutive bombings on #Gaza now!! It is getting worst! Gazans are afraid of another aggression/war.

Seems like #Israel warplanes are focused over Northern #Gaza! Looks like it might b a very HOT night here :-S #GazaUnderAttack

6 airstrikes hit Gaza in less than 1 hour along with many mock raids. #Gaza #GazaUnderAttack

#Israel Air Force strikes in #Gaza Strip, responding to rockets fired earlier in the day

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Israel detains Palestinian leftist without trial

Suha Barghouti and Ahmad Qatamesh

Detained without trial since his arrest in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah in April 2011, supporters of a left-wing Palestinian writer and academic are nevertheless hopeful that he will be freed next month.

Ahmad Qatamesh has not been charged with a crime, but Israel has repeatedly renewed his detention orders. This has drawn criticism from human rights groups including Amnesty International, which has called the 62-year-old a prisoner of conscience.

“My husband has now spent a total of nine years in jail without ever being given a single charge,” said Suha Barghouti, Qatamesh’s wife. “Every lawyer I’ve ever talked to about his case cannot see any law he’s broken.”

Between 1992 and 1998, Qatamesh was the Palestinian political prisoner held for the longest time ever under administrative detention by Israel. Under administrative detention orders, a detainee can be indefinitely held without charge or trial. No other Palestinian prisoner has spent as much time behind Israeli bars without eventually being charged, according to his wife.

But now he has been detained with a new series of administrative detention orders. The latest was issued in August and expires on 28 December.

Barghouti said that at a military court hearing in late August ahead of the latest renewal, “the Israeli judge accepted Ahmad’s release once the administrative detention order expired because he wasn’t convinced he is a threat.”

Israel’s military intelligence won an appeal, and as a result, Qatamesh’s administrative detention was extended for the seventh consecutive period of six months. If they decide to file another appeal, the judge ruled that Israel’s intelligence must provide new evidence that Qatamesh is still involved in activities deemed illegal by Israel.

Barghouti described living in a state of uncertainty, never knowing if her husband will actually be sent home after an order expires. “They can renew it at any time, and sometimes they wait til the last minute,” she said.

The Qatamesh family’s concerns have only been deepened by reports that his health is deteriorating rapidly as he is transferred from prison to prison but never allowed proper medical treatment. Because Qatamesh is not permitted to talk to his family via telephone, Barghouti is fearful.

Illness

Barghouti recently learned that the Israel Prison Service – regularly accused of systematic and far-reaching human rights violations – intends to transfer her husband from Ramon Prison in the Naqab (Negev) region to Megiddo prison, located in the north of present-day Israel.

“The conditions inside Megiddo are very, very bad,” Barghouti explained. In February,Arafat Jaradat, who was beaten during his arrest and subsequently tortured during interrogation, died in a special segment of Megiddo used by Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency while being held without charge.

Barghouti added, “We have a question: why’s he even being transferred? Is it to intentionally hurt his health? Other prisoners have told us, and human rights groups, that he is losing consciousness a lot.”

In addition to regularly fainting, Qatamesh “suffers from high blood pressure. Together they are making his health much worse,” Barghouti said.

She believes that her husband’s present health problems likely stem from the extensive torture he endured during his six-year detention in the 1990s; in his prison memoirs I Shall Not Wear Your Tarboush, Qatamesh describes in detail the torture and abuse he endured for more than 100 days. Because he often loses consciousness suddenly and for hours at a time, “he needs to see a serious head specialist, but as far as we know, he’s only being given Tylenol and [other] painkillers,” Barghouti said.

In response to Israel’s plans to transfer Qatamesh, the Palestinian prisoners’ rights groupAddameer filed a request that he instead be moved to Ofer military prison near Ramallah. The request was based on the grounds that Qatamesh’s court hearings are held there and family visits would be more accessible. The Israel Prison Service has yet to respond.

“Maybe he’s already been transferred,” Barghouti said. “Since Israel gives very little information to prisoners’ families, we have no way of knowing.”

Visits

Qatamesh’s family, like those of all Palestinian political prisoners, are forced to deal with incessant, arbitrary barriers in order to visit their loved ones.

“I’m only permitted to visit him once every six or eight months,” Barghouti said. Only Qatamesh’s wife, daughter and sister have been allowed to visit. His brothers have been denied visitation permits time and time again.

Barghouti explained that she has been denied entry into Israel or passage at checkpoints on several occasions, despite having a valid permit from Israeli authorities. “Because of this, I’ve only seen him three times in the last two and a half years,” she said, adding that the most recent visit took place in September.

Qatemesh’s only child, Hanin, began visiting her father in prison during his first detainment, when she was just three years old. Twenty years later, she is once more only able to see him on rare occasions.

Hanin must wake up at 5:00am and travel all the way from Ramallah to Ramon, stopping and waiting for undetermined periods at the numerous Israeli military checkpoints along the way. Her mother explains that she usually doesn’t get home until 8:00pm at the earliest – all for a 45-minute conversation in which she can only see her father through a glass window and speak to him via telephone.

“It’s not easy. Family visits are very complicated,” said Barghouti, adding that the “conversation is difficult because you know someone is listening, that it’s being monitored.”

She also described the degrading and arbitrary security checks imposed on visiting relatives: “Last time the soldiers made me take off my bra before I entered. There are so many procedures. It’s humiliating, it’s difficult, and it takes a toll on a family’s soul.”

Targeted

Following his first arrest in 1992, a judge ordered that Qatamesh be released for lack of evidence against him.

Yet he was detained on administrative detention orders until 1998, the longest any Palestinian political prisoner has been held without trial. He was then part of a prisoner release agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

Israel had accused him of being a leader in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a leftist political party and resistance group banned by Israel, though never charged him or brought forth evidence.

Although Barghouti told The Electronic Intifada that Qatamesh hasn’t had ties to the PFLP since his 1998 release, Israel made the same accusation to justify his 2011 arrest — though without giving any evidence.

In the years following his release, Qatamesh repeatedly applied for permits to travel abroad, but was always denied. Israeli military decrees also banned him from entering occupied East Jerusalem or present-day Israel. “My husband hasn’t seen Jerusalem in over thirty years,” Barghouti said.

During the 2011 arrest, Israeli occupation soldiers invaded Qatamesh’s home and held his family hostage at gunpoint until they were able to locate him at a relative’s house and arrest him.

“They pointed their machine guns at us and told us they wanted to search the house. My 14-year-old cousin, Nai, and 69-year-old aunt were sleeping inside,” Hanin, just 22 years old at the time, described in an article she wrote for the The Electronic Intifada.

No support

Barghouti said her husband has been targeted for no other reason than “his ideas, writings and lectures given across the West Bank.” Qatamesh has also been repeatedly interrogated about his PhD dissertation research on popular Palestinian resistance.

Amnesty International agrees, stating that “Qatamesh is a political prisoner who is being detained solely for expressing nonviolent political beliefs,” and calls for his release.

The prisoner rights group Addameer, where Barghouti is a board member, has helped her keep her husband’s freedom campaign alive. A lawyer from the Palestinian Authority-backed Palestinian Prisoners Club has also helped.

Qatamesh has also received hundreds of support letters from academics across the world. Additionally, hundreds of letters have been mailed to the Israeli government demanding his freedom, said Barghouti.

The Palestinian Authority, on the other hand, has failed to match these efforts, offering Qatamesh support only “from individuals in the government who know and respect him, but not as our representative authority,” Barghouti said. “No, they didn’t do anything – I’ve seen nothing from them.”

Although the PA struck a deal with Israel to bring home a total of 104 long-term Palestinian political prisoners — 52 of whom have already been released — there are still 5,046 Palestinians from present-day Israel, the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip behind Israeli bars, according to Addameer’s latest statistics.

Administrative detention spikes

Qatamesh is in the company of another 134 administrative detainees held by Israel without charge on “secret evidence,” according to Addameer.

International and Palestinian human rights organizations have repeatedly called on Israel to end its excessive use of administrative detention.

“Israel has used its system of administrative detention — intended as an exceptional measure against people posing an extreme and imminent danger to security — to trample on the human rights of detainees for decades,” Ann Harrison, deputy director of Amnesty International, said in a 2012 statement. “It is a relic that should be put out to pasture.”

Israel has escalated its use of administrative detention in recent weeks. In October, the administrative detention orders of 38 prisoners were extended, the Palestine News Network reported, citing the Palestinian Prisoners Society. From that total, at least fifteen will remain imprisoned at a minimum of six additional months.

The culture of impunity surrounding Israeli military courts allows administrative detentions to be renewed repeatedly or even indefinitely.

Acknowledging the utter lack of justice for Palestinians accused by Israel, Barghouti nonetheless expressed optimism regarding her husband’s case: “To be honest, I think he has a good chance of being released because so far there’s been no appeal.

“This is the first time I’ve seen Israel’s court acknowledge that Ahmad’s not in prison for security reasons or for PFLP membership, but because he is intelligent and has influence among the people,” she said.

(Source / 19.11.2013)

Syrian patriarch urges Christians to stay in Syria

Syrian Orthodox Christians light candles before a mass marking the Palm Sunday in the Syrian capital in Damascus.
Gregory Laham, the Syrian patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic church has called on his fellow Christians to stay in Syria, despite the brutal conflict raging in the country.

“I say to my children, stay in your country, the future will be difficult, but it will be better, God willing,” he told AFP in an interview.

The patriarch, who is headed to the Vatican for meetings with Pope Francis, also urged European countries to not “encourage Syrian Christians to emigrate.”

“I say to the European countries that want to help, help people in difficulty, humanitarian cases but don’t encourage people to emigrate,” he said.

According to the patriarch, 450,000 Syrian Christians have been displaced by the conflict that began in March 2011, around 40,000 of whom have fled to Lebanon.

He said between 1,000 and 1,200 Christians had been killed, both members of the military and civilians.

But he said, “Christians are not the only ones being targeted. All Syrians are being targeted, Shiites and Sunnis and Druze and Christians from all denominations.”

The cleric condemned damage to at least 57 Christian sites since the beginning of the conflict and accused the United States and other Western countries of prolonging the fighting by arming rebel fighters.

Christians make up around 10 percent of Syria’s population, and many have rallied to President Bashar al-Assad’s side, fearing the harsh Islamist ideology of some rebel fighters.

The conflict has killed more than 120,000 people and displaced millions since it began.

(Source / 19.11.2013)