Palestinian official: Netanyahu & Al-Baghdadi are the Same

A senior Palestinian official on Tuesday likened Benjamin Netanyahu to the leader of the Islamic State group, after the Israeli prime minister compared Hamas to the organization.

“Netanyahu is trying to disseminate fear of the Islamic State led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, but Netanyahu forgets that he himself leads the Jewish state,” said Saeb Erekat, the PLO’s chief negotiator in peace talks with Israel.

“He wants us to call Israel the Jewish state and supports terrorist settlers who kill, destroy and burn mosques and churches… like Baghdadi’s men kill and terrorize,” Erekat told AFP.

Addressing the UN General Assembly on Monday, Netanyahu compared Israel’s battle against Hamas to that of the US-led one against the brutal IS militants in Iraq and Syria.

With his speech at the United Nations, “Netanyahu finally closed the door on progress towards a two-state solution within the 1967 borders and rejected any serious political solution” in the peace talks, said Erekat.

Those talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed spectacularly in April amid bitter recriminations on both sides.

They are supposed to meet again next month in Cairo for negotiations on a long-term truce after the 50-day Gaza war that killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 73 people on the Israeli side, mainly soldiers.

(Source / 30.09.2014)

OCHA: Gaza Power Plant to Resume Operations Depending on Fuel Supply

“Resuming the operations of Gaza power plant (GPP) is contingent on securing the necessary fuel,” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced Monday, in its weekly ‘Protection of Civilians’ report.

Al Ray file photo
file photo

The report explains, according to Al Ray, that the GPP shut down on July 29th, after being hit several times by Israeli attacks, subsequently rendering the Gaza Strip to be exclusively dependent on electricity purchased from Egypt and Israel.

Also noted was the fact that, even if fuel is secured, it will be difficult to provide service to the areas most affected from the last Israeli aggression on the region, such as Beit Hanoun, Al-Shuja’eyyah, Khuza’a and eastern Rafah.

The facility is Gaza’s only power plant and electricity outages now exceed 18 hours per-day, severely disrupting the provision of basic services includinghealth and water throughout the region.

Prior to the assault, residents in the Gaza Strip were surviving on some 8 hours of electricity per day.


(Source / 30.09.2014)

60,000 displaced Gazans remain in shelters

Instead of lifting the siege as agreed on ceasefire deal, Israeli occupation tightened its grip on crossings

About 60,000 Palestinians in Gaza Strip have not yet found any place to stay in as winter has started.
Ali abu-Eid, his wife and five siblings used to live in a three-room house in Al-Sheja’ia neighbourhood before the Israeli war.

Days of Palestine, Gaza Strip –About 60,000 Palestinians in Gaza Strip have not yet found any place to stay in as winter has started.

The 51-day savage Israeli war on the Gaza Strip started on July 7 left around 20,000 homes completely destroyed and caused severe damage in water mains and power lines.

United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) estimates that up to 500,000 citizens were displaced, including 300,000 took shelter at its schools.

As the war was ended, the number of displaced sheltering at UNRWA schools has largely decreased to around 60,000. They were concentrated in a number of schools in order to give room for the schools year to start.

Around 60,000 others remain homeless. They left the UNRWA schools and returned to their damaged houses.

’s human displacement crisis is far from over. There are still 57,721 displaced in 18 UNRWA Collective Centres RT

Some remained inside their houses, which were damaged beyond repair, and some collected pieces of torn clothes and made something called a tent. The luckiest got a two-room mobile house.

But this critical situation poses a huge challenge for the displaced Gazans as the winter season has already started and rain started to fall.

Abu-Eid and his family

Ali abu-Eid, his wife and five siblings are living in a makeshift tent in one of the corners at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. He used to live in a three-room house in Al-Sheja’ia neighbourhood before the Israeli war.

When the Israeli warplanes attacked his house, like hundreds others in the same neighbourhood, he and his family sought shelter in the hospital. “Fortunately, nor me or any of my family members was hurt,” Abu-Eid said.

However, he bitterly continued: “It is now very difficult for us to remain here [in the hospital]. This place is not suitable for animals to live in. I do not know what to do when it raining or at least when it is too cold.”

Abu-Eid is one of tens of thousands Gazans living the same dire condition.

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Housing and Work Minister Mofeed al-Hasayneh said that all logistics and other staff related to the reconstruction of Gaza are read. “All what we need is the international support and the opening of the crossing,” he said.

(Source / 30.09.2014)

“Museum without borders” to open in Palestine

Museum campus concept illustration courtesy of the Palestinian Museum.

In the hills of the occupied West Bank town of Birzeit, near the city of Ramallah, construction began earlier this year on the Palestinian Museum.

Using an innovative approach in space and exhibition design, the project breaks away from traditions in museum practice. Besides showcasing Palestinian art and culture, the museum hopes to create a space that generates conversation and ideas for the future.

While its main hub will lie in Birzeit, the museum is building a network of partnerships and satellites abroad, with aims to extend beyond the geographic borders of Palestine, which are under restrictive Israeli control, to its expansive diaspora.

Jack Persekian, director and head curator of the museum, met with The Electronic Intifada at the office of the Palestinian Museum in June. “The museum is the brainchild of the Welfare Association,” he said, referring to a not-for-profit organization focused on development and humanitarian projects in Palestine.

“They were thinking back in 1997 to commemorate the Nakba [the expulsion of more than 750,000 Palestinians leading up to and after Israel’s establishment] on its fiftieth anniversary in 1998. And they thought of the concept of the Palestinian Museum of Memory.”

The idea was shelved when the second intifada broke out in September 2000 but was revived in the mid-2000s, when a new team reviewed the concept of the project.

The group began to approach “the idea of the museum from a broader perspective,” Persekian explained, “not necessarily start or stop at the Nakba, even though the Nakba is a major turning point in the life of Palestine and Palestinians. But nevertheless to look at Palestinians before that and after that … take that history and that memory as a means to reflect on what’s happening today and as a way to think through ideas, concepts and propositions for the future.”

Museum without borders

The team also began to reconceptualize the museum site itself. It was decided that a main hub would be built in Birzeit in two stages, the first to house rotating exhibitions and the second, larger building to feature a permanent collection.

But the team also re-imagined how a museum might connect with other installments beyond Palestine. “Gradually the idea started evolving and one major component was to not just think about the museum as a location and a building, but to think about this museum as an institution that can serve Palestinians wherever they are,” Persekian said.

“We know that more than half of the Palestinians are outside of Palestine. So we started thinking of the museum as a hub with branches and partnerships in other places, particularly in places where Palestinians themselves cannot access this site in Birzeit,” including Gaza, Jordan and Lebanon, Persekian explained.

The museum began establishing partnerships abroad and connecting to existing institutions and projects to create satellites to house its exhibitions.

It has begun plans for its first show, titled Never Part, which tells the stories of Palestinians all over the world and the objects they cherish. This exhibition, Persekian hopes, can travel abroad through satellites.

“[It] won’t be this one body of work, but it will move and transform as it travels from one place to another,” he explained. “The whole exhibition will embody the state that Palestinians are living in, and the objects and stories inside will reflect that as it moves from one area to another and different people get involved.”

Mapping Palestine’s museums

Besides making connections abroad, the museum has begun to build a network between museums inside geographic Palestine itself, where Palestinian communities are cut off from each other and isolated from the outside world by Israel’s regime of closure and checkpoints.

“We mapped the museums in Palestine. We looked at what’s out there and discovered there are 51 museums,” Persekian explained.

“Not all of them functioning — some closed, some [are] not as visible as others. Nonetheless, we decided that we’re part of this community and we would like to create a network amongst these museums so we can help each other,” he said.

“This will help us integrate and help all of us to raise the capacity and the performance of museum work in Palestine. So we started now on a series of workshops; we brought in some specialists in particular areas: archiving, collections, IT [information technology], all sorts of different practical technical issues of concern to the museum community,” Persekian added.

The term “museum community” is something that the team is trying to develop, he added, “because this field — if I can call it a field — is so fragmented, and each entity, each museum is totally separate from the rest. There is no communication. So what we’re trying to do is find this common ground where we can all meet and share and find synergies amongst ourselves.”

From the In the Presence of the Holy See series: UNRWA photo archive image of Dheisheh refugee camp after the 1948 partition justaposed with Tanya Habjouqa’s 2012 photo of Israel’s wall near Beit Hanina, Jerusalem.

From the In the Presence of the Holy See series: “Christ healing the Paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda” (c.1670) by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, juxtaposed with Alexandra Boulat’s 2006 photo of Palestinian at Erez checkpoint in Gaza.

Embodying the museum’s unique approach, its first exhibition in May 2014 was displayed not in the museum’s physical site (which was still under construction at the time), but in public space, through partnerships and on postcards.

Titled In the Presence of the Holy See, the exhibition featured images of present-day Palestine collaged and interlaced with traditional Christian imagery and archive photos. Prints of the images were displayed in Bethlehem’s Manger Square during the Pope’s visit earlier this year, as well as in nearby Dheisheh refugee camp. The images were later printed as a set of postcards.

Persekian said that the project “was about taking something, the image of Palestinian struggle, and suffering, and all of that, which has become a little bit worn out in the media as people have seen it over and over again — I wanted people outside to look at this again, to discover it again.”

“Safe place for unsafe ideas”

The Palestinian Museum describes itself as “A safe place for unsafe ideas,” calling attention to its innovative approach to the function of the museum.

The museum’s refreshingly experimental yet comprehensive approach does not neglect that approximately seven million exiled Palestinian refugees live across the world, the vast majority of them prevented by Israel from returning to Palestine, even just to visit.

“In a state like ours where there is a lot of fragmentation and people can’t reach each other, we started thinking about how can we make these linkages,” Persekian said. “How can we talk about concepts and ideas and how can we engage with Palestinians who do not share the same geographical area as we do?”

The team is inviting Palestinians to participate in its opening show, Never Part, through the museum’s website, where people can submit stories about the objects they have kept and cherished.

Promising to be a compelling experience, the Palestinian Museum’s physical space is planned to open by the end of 2015.

(Source / 30.09.2014)

‘Israel’ approves new settlement plan in Jerusalem

This decision does not require much for approval, but permission and funds to start construction

Israeli government has approved decision to construct a huge Israeli settlement south of Jerusalem
The expert expressed his belief that the establishment of this large-scale settlement was a giant leap for the Judaisation project known as ‘Jerusalem 2020.’

Days of Palestine, Jerusalem –Israeli government has approved decision to construct a huge Israeli settlement south of Jerusalem, Palestinian expert said on Monday.

The new settlement is part of the Israeli project ‘Jerusalem 2020,’ which aims to construct 58,000 settlement units in the Holy City.

Palestinian Researcher and Expert on Israeli Settlement Khalil al-Tafakji said that the decision to build 2,561 new settlement units in Givat HaMatos was ratified on Sunday.

The settlement will be located in Beit Safafa territory, which is located south of Jerusalem as well as in Beit Jala near Bethlehem.

Al-Tafakji said such a decision does not require much for approval but depends on the issuance of a permit and funds to begin construction.

The settlement of Givat HaMatos currently consists of 250 mobile homes that will be removed in accordance with the project’s expansion. Permanent buildings will be built in their place.

According to Al-Tafakji, the establishment of this settlement would mean that the town of Beit Safafa would be surrounded by illegal Israeli settlements and bypass roads on all sides. This will make it impossible for the town to embark on any expansion plans.

He expressed his belief that the establishment of this large-scale settlement was a giant leap for the Judaisation project known as ‘Jerusalem 2020.’

Not only does this project seek to expand existing settlements, he explained, but it also allows for building of new ones making it a project that requires the confiscation of 2,000 acres of occupied Palestinian land.

(Source / 30.09.2014)

Hamas has Israeli prisoners, next battle in Askalan

Senior Hamas military official confirmed on Sunday his military wing Al-Qassam Brigades has Israeli prisoners.

The Qassam commander said: “I am telling you now, based on real information, the next ground battle with the Israeli occupation will be in Askalan”

Days of Palestine, Gaza Strip –Senior Hamas military official confirmed on Sunday his military wing Al-Qassam Brigades has Israeli prisoners.

He also said that the next ground battle with the Israeli occupation would not be in the Gaza Strip, but in Askalan. He meant the Palestinian occupied city that the Israeli occupation calls: Ashkelon.

The military official, whose nickname is Abu-Imad, told a crowd of Hamas supporters in Gaza that “there are good news about the Israeli soldiers captured by his military wind during the 51-day of the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip.”

He did not clearly say how many Israeli soldiers his Brigades keeps, but he hinted that there are a more than one. He also hinted that they are alive.

“I confirm the good news about the Israeli prisoners, but cannot say what this good news is,” he said. But he stressed that the Israeli occupation would be obliged to release the Palestinian prisoners in return of the release of its soldiers.

In another clear hint that at least one of them is alive, he said: “Regarding Golden [Israeli officer Hadar Golden who was believed captured in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip], there is a good news and, like what happened with Gilad Shalit, releasing information about his life would has a price.”

Next battle in Askalan

Abu-Imad, who survived an Israeli assassination attempt in 2005, said that the next ground battle with the Israeli occupation would be in Askala. “Whether it started tomorrow or five years later,” he said.

Reminding with a previous remark for the senior Hamas political leader Mahmoud al-Zahar, he said: “When Al-Zahar has previously said that the next time, we would invade the lands occupied by the Israeli occupation, he based on real information.”

He continued: “I am telling you now, based on real information, the next ground battle with the Israeli occupation will be in Askalan.”

The senior Qassam commander said that “the Israeli occupation asked us, through mediators, three times that they preferred to resolve issues peacefully, but we insisted to respond by hitting Tel-Aviv.”

To tell the truth, he said, when we said we did not show all our surprises in the last war, we said the truth. “We still have many surprises and this will be proved in the next battle, which is coming sooner or later,” he said.

(Source / 29.09.2014)

ICC already has authority to investigate Israel for war crimes, legal group says

Palestinian children walk past destroyed houses in Shujaiya, eastern Gaza, which was heavily bombed by Israel in July and August.

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG), along with several other prominent legal groups, is urging the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to “initiate her own investigation” into “crimes committed and ongoing during and immediately before Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.”

In a letter written in August, during the last week of Israel’s 51 days of attacks on the Gaza Strip, NLG president Azadeh Shahshahani states that “Israel’s clearly disproportionate use of force against the 1.8 million residents of Gaza appears to have little to do with any claim of security, but seems to be calculated to exact revenge against Palestinian civilians.”

The letter lists specific examples of numerous violations of the Rome Statute, the ICC’s core treaty which defines international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.

The NLG and endorsing organizations also write that the international court’s investigation “should include whether certain US officials have aided and abetted the commission of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity in Gaza.”

Blocking efforts

Meanwhile, revelations have surfaced indicating that the Ramallah-based leader of the western-backed Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has blocked efforts to bring Israeli war crimes in Gaza before the ICC.

As The Electronic Intifada reported weeks ago,

French lawyers acting on behalf of the PA’s justice minister and Gaza’s prosecutor general sent a request [on 30 July] to the ICC to launch an investigation into then-ongoing Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

In the letter, obtained by Al Jazeera, [top ICC prosecutor Fatou] Bensouda recounts that during her 5 August meeting with [PA foreign minister Riad] Malki, she “sought to confirm whether or not” that request had been officially “transmitted on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.”

This was a crucial procedural question since, under the rules of the ICC, only the head of the State of Palestine, or its foreign minister, can authorize such a prosecution. In the letter, a reply to the same French law firm, Bensouda is clear: “I did not receive a positive confirmation [from Malki]. Accordingly, there is no legal basis for my Office to consider” taking forward the prosecution.

However, Shahshahani said in an interview with The Electronic Intifada that “the ICC does in fact have jurisdiction,” despite the pressure by Israel, the US and apparently Abbas’ regime, to prosecute Israel. “Palestine in 2009 issued a declaration to the ICC, which provides the jurisdictional basis for the office of the prosecutor to open an investigation,” she added.

The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah, in a recent interview with The Real News Network, said that Abbas’ failure to seek war crimes prosecution against Israel is because his regime “is in fact closely allied to Israel in a number of ways.”

He added: “Despite his rhetoric criticizing Israel, the fact is at no point has he ever stopped the so-called security coordination between the Israeli occupation army and the Palestinian Authority. So, while families were being slaughtered in Gaza, Mahmoud Abbas’ security forces were continuing their routine cooperation with the Israeli Shin Bet security services and with the Israeli army in the West Bank.”

“Potential for future violations”

Shahshahani said that as legal organizations wait for a response from the ICC prosecutor, “obviously there needs to be a lot more pressure and activism and asks and calls to the ICC to do something.”

She added, “This letter is definitely a great first step, but there needs to be other voices as well joining this call. Otherwise, we’re going to see potentially future acts of systematic violations of this nature happening by Israeli forces with the support of the US government, without anybody being held accountable, which would mean impunity.”

Nora Barrows-Friedman: About a month ago, a coalition of civil rights advocacy organizations sent a letter to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), quote “urging her to initiate an investigation of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity committed by Israeli leaders and aided and abetted by US officials in Gaza.” In your legal opinion, what specific examples during the 51 days of attacks can you cite that could be considered war crimes and crimes against humanity by Israel in Gaza?

Azadeh Shahshahani: We detailed in our letter a number of different types of violations committed by Israeli forces and aided and abetted by the US, including wilful killing. So, as people know, Israeli forces have killed over 2,100 Palestinians, including over 500 children. This has been very well documented by non-governmental organizations including the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.

In addition, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, so when the letter went out in late August, there were 10,000 Palestinians of Gaza who had been wounded, including 2,200 of them children.

And then in terms of unlawful, extensive destruction and appropriation of property that is not justified by military necessity — so tens of thousands of Palestinians have lost their homes.

And there are a number of other examples in our letter, including wilfully depriving a prisoner of war or civilian the rights of fair and regular trial. So, over one thousand Palestinians were arrested by Israeli forces in June and July of 2014, including members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, dozens of women, journalists, activists, academics and 62 former prisoners previously released in a prisoner exchange. More than 450 of them were held without charge or trial under administrative detention, which is basically a euphemism for indefinite detention.

And there are a number of other examples of potential war crimes during this operation by Israeli forces.

NBF: Can you talk a little about the obstacles facing international civil society organizations, including Palestinian civil society, individual families, and civil rights and human rights advocacy organizations, in terms of being able to pressure the International Criminal Court to take these hearings up, especially in light of the revelations that Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, has been apparently deliberately blocking investigations into Israeli war crimes by the ICC?

AS: Obviously, there are political obstacles. I would imagine that the ICC is under tremendous pressure by the US and potentially other governments in the west to not do anything about this. But as we said in our letter, the ICC does in fact have jurisdiction. So even though neither Israel nor the US is a party to the Rome Statutes for the International Criminal Court, Palestine in 2009 issued a declaration to the ICC, which provides the jurisdictional basis for the office of the prosecutor to open an investigation. So this is the basis that we detailed in our letter, basically asking the prosecutor to open an investigation into these potential war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity against Palestinians on her own initiative.

NBF: Where does this effort stand now, have there been any recent updates in terms of the ICC being receptive to this kind of pressure?

AS: We haven’t heard anything yet. We sent the letter in late August. So we remain hopeful, but obviously there needs to be a lot more pressure and activism and asks and calls to the ICC to do something. This letter is definitely a great first step, but there needs to be other voices as well joining this call.

Otherwise, we’re going to see potentially future acts of systematic violations of this nature happening by Israeli forces with the support of the US government, without anybody being held accountable, which would mean impunity.

NBF: If Israel does face war crimes hearings and even prosecution at an international court level, what kind of message would this send to Israeli leaders, and the US government which as you said has aided and abetted Israel’s crimes in Palestine for nearly seven decades?

AS: That they will be held accountable, that they cannot continue committing crimes, and in the case of the US, really supporting the crimes and providing the weapons and the tools necessary for the committing of war crimes and crimes against humanity without being held accountable for their crimes.

So I think it’s going to send a very powerful message to these governments and other western governments as well, that at various points in time might at least ponder the possibility of lending support to regimes that are in the process of committing war crimes.

NBF: Finally, where can people go for more information and how can people support this letter and pressure their local or national leadership to also pressure the ICC?

AS: People can go to our website,, to see a copy of the letter. We’re also onFacebook and Twitter. I would say that people should start by contacting their congressional representatives in regards to the whole issue of US government’s unconditional support for Israel.

We all saw that as people were being murdered in Gaza, our congressional representatives were for the most part unanimously in support of the operation, and that is obviously a badge of shame for this congress.

So they need to hear our voices, loud and clear, that we will not stand for this, and that as Americans we are ashamed that our tax money is being spent for operations that lead to death and destruction in Gaza and for the people of Palestine.

(Source / 29.09.2014)

Most Palestinians back Israel rocket fire if Gaza blockade stays

Most Palestinians back Israel rocket fire if Gaza blockade stays

Most Palestinians would favour resuming rocket fire at Israel if it does not lift its Gaza blockade, although support for armed confrontation is dropping off, according to a poll published on Monday.

“An overwhelming majority of 80% supports the launching of rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israel if the siege and blockade are not ended,” said the survey of 1,200 Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Resarch (PSR).

Conducted a month after the end of Israel’s 50-day Gaza military offensive to stop rocket fire, the poll says 44% of respondents saw armed confrontation as the best way to end Israeli occupation and set up a Palestinian state.

It said that 29% believed negotiations were the best option, while 23% favoured non-violent resistance.

But the poll, carried out between September 25-27 and with a margin of error of three%age points, reflected a falloff in support both for the Islamist militant movement Hamas which rules Gaza and for violence.

PSR said that in a similar survey a month earlier, in the immediate aftermath of the war, 53% backed armed confrontation.

Asked how they would vote if a general election were held now, 39% of those polled said they would support Hamas, down from 46% a month ago.

The rival Fatah of president Mahmud Abbas would win 36%, up from 31% in August, the survey found.

But in a presidential race, Hamas’s Ismail Haniya would romp home with 55% support compared to 38% for Abbas.

Asked if Israel with its massive air, sea and land bombardment of Gaza had won the July-August war, or Hamas — which fired rockets deep into Israel — 69% handed victory to the Islamists in the latest survey, down from 79% last month.

The war killed more than 2,140 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and 73 on the Israeli side, almost all soldiers.

(Source / 29.09.2014)

Israel defense minister says Hamas rocket arsenal down to 20%

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Monday that Palestinian resistance group Hamas was down to only 20 percent of its original rocket arsenal following Israel’s recent seven-week military onslaught on the Gaza Strip.
Speaking at Bar IIan University, Ya’alon said that only 20 percent of the Gaza Strip’s 10,000-rocket inventory remained intact following Israel’s devastating “Operation Protective Edge.”
He claimed that 40 senior Hamas leaders and ten Islamic Jihad leaders had been killed in Israel’s recent military offensive.
Ya’alon also asserted that Israel had “won” the conflict with Hamas, which, he claimed, had been forced to accept Israel’s conditions for a cease-fire.
However, a poll conducted by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, found that the large majority of Palestinians believe that the resistance movement Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, won the war.
As a result, according to the poll, 79% of respondents said that Hamas had won the Gaza war, while only 3% believe Israel did. Some 17% said both sides lost.
Palestinian factions and Israel signed an open-ended cease-fire agreement on August 26, ending the self-proclaimed Zionist state’s 51-day offensive against the coastal enclave.
Over the course of Israel’s onslaught, more 2,150 Palestinians were killed – mostly civilians – and some 11,000 others injured.
Under the truce deal, Israel must lift the blockade it has imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2007 and must also reopen the border crossings into the besieged Palestinian territory.
(Source / 29.09.2014)

The Gaza medical aid scandal

Suffer, little children… What do our clueless politicians care?

Gaza emergency medical team

The indifference shown by Barack Obama and David Cameron to the slaughter and unimaginable destruction that Israel – the self-styled “only democracy in the Middle East” with “the most moral army in the world” – inflicted on Gaza a month ago is beyond sickening.

In the UK a petition was raised, addressed to Prime Minister Cameron; Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg; Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond; Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband; and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon requesting them to send the Argus, a fully-fitted hospital ship of the Royal Navy currently lying at Falmouth apparently doing nothing. The petition said:

We have watched with horror the tragic loss of life and systematic destruction of infrastructure in Gaza. Despite the duty of care Israel continues to fundamentally restrict the flow of essential medical supplies, equipment and expertise into Gaza. A health crisis is looming in Gaza for trapped civilians, with dire conditions in the main Gaza City Shifa hospital. Doctors operate on the floor and in corridors. People die untreated. Only one x-ray machine is working with a lack of doctors, nurses, paramedics and the most basic equipment. As David Cameron said in 2010, Gaza is a prison camp. It is unique among world conflicts: people are unable to get out and effective relief can’t get in.

The hospital ship RFA Argus is moored in Falmouth. She is uniquely designed for this type of necessity. Since Israel has abrogated its responsibility to the citizens of Gaza, we request that the British government unilaterally and rapidly deploys RFA Argus to Gaza.

It’s the very least we could do, you might think. But Argus hasn’t sailed. The port and docks authorities say she’s putting to sea on 3 October but not on the sort of expedition we’re talking about. I spent considerable time trying to speak to the Ministry of Defence press office, which didn’t even answer the phone on any of its numbers, let alone say where she’s bound. Eventually I got through to Argus herself but the officer onboard was not allowed to tell me her destination over the phone. OK, understandable.

Meanwhile, Lord Hylton asked in Parliament “whether the official National Health Service medical team promised by the prime minister has yet reached Gaza; whether volunteer British doctors have been refused access to Gaza via Israel; and, if so, what action they are taking on the doctors’ behalf”.

Baroness Northover for the government replied: “A team of medical staff from the UK visited Gaza and East Jerusalem in August to assess the need for specialist medical support. A team was given access to Gaza via Israel to access medical facilities in both locations to assess capacity and recommend future UK assistance.”

Are Cameron, Obama and the rest… going to embarrass us further with their cruel inaction when they could so easily use their leverage?

That’s not exactly true. Dr Swee Ang in an email tells how some of those NHS doctors who went to Gaza were refused permits by Israel to enter the beseiged enclave. When she and another surgeon arrived they were “detained in Ramle Detention Centre and deported the following afternoon”.

Over the years Dr Ang has devoted herself tirelessly to the Palestinian wounded. She worked to help civilian casualties in the Lebanese civil war and witnessed the Sabra and Shatila massacres. She was a signatory to the recent hard-hitting letter in the Lancet by 24 senior doctors and scientists. It said, among other things:

We challenge the perversity of a propaganda that justifies the creation of an emergency to masquerade a massacre, a so-called “defensive aggression”. In reality it is a ruthless assault of unlimited duration, extent and intensity. We wish to report the facts as we see them and their implications on the lives of the people.

We are appalled by the military onslaught on civilians in Gaza under the guise of punishing terrorists. This is the third large scale military assault on Gaza since 2008. Each time the death toll is borne mainly by innocent people in Gaza, especially women and children under the unacceptable pretext of Israel eradicating political parties and resistance to the occupation and siege they impose.

This action also terrifies those who are not directly hit, and wounds the soul, mind, and resilience of the young generation. Our condemnation and disgust are further compounded by the denial and prohibition for Gaza to receive external help and supplies to alleviate the dire circumstances.

Dr Ang in her email goes on to say:

I think an important point to raise is also to ask for an account of how the DEC [Disasters Emergency Committee] money raised which I think amount to several million is going to be spent. Forty five clinics, 15 hospitals, eight fire stations and the main ambulance centre were destroyed in Gaza, so please ask the British government if they have discussed with the Ministry of Health of Palestine, if at least part of this money is going to help rehabilitate these health infrastructures. With more than 12,000 wounded among whom were those crippled for life, the one and only Gaza rehabilitation hospital which was flattened needs to be rebuilt urgently.

The team who got in to make the assessment on 9 August had not addressed this, nor on how to help Gaza recover its medical system after this severe assault. Moreover, the Gaza doctors have asked for us to support training their doctors especially in acute surgical specialties but, with the block on our consultants getting permits, this is not going to happen. All the consultants applying to go are from major teaching hospitals and represent multiple specialties who are ready to teach, treat and transfer surgical and medical knowledge to doctors in Gaza. Several of them are well connected with the Royal College of Surgeons of England, and would be able to help establish quality education. But no permits!

I can get further reports from the Ministry of Health of Gaza if necessary as the first British team seems to imply that things were very much back to normal in Gaza, which is not plausible given the degree of destruction… The total wounded is now more than 12,000. The homeless figure lies between 200,000 to 400,000 depending on which report you read. The entire public health system has collapsed and needs rebuilding.

Are Cameron, Obama and the rest… going to embarrass us further with their cruel inaction when they could so easily use their leverage?

If ever there was a time to suspend or completely end the European Union-Israel Association Agreement, this is it. Its terms require that:

Relations between the parties, as well as all the provisions of the agreement itself, shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of this agreement.

The clueless Israelis haven’t a clue how to honour their obligations under the Agreement, and clueless Britain and the equally clueless EU haven’t a clue how to implement its essential and perfectly reasonable conditions…

(Source / 29.09.2014)