January 16, 2009

ISM Digest January 15, 2009

Posted in ISM Updates tagged , , , , , , , , , at 11:20 am by Alexia

1) Israeli snipers using new ammunition in Ni’lin

2) Free Gaza Movement stopped in international waters by Israeli navy

3) Israeli snipers shooting at families seeking refuge in Al-Quds hospital

4) Voices from Tel al Huwa, Gaza City

5) Boycott, Divestment, Ssanctions:

A Call from Gaza ———-

Israeli snipers using new ammunition in Ni’lin On Friday the 9th of January at 11.30am the weekly prayer demonstration was carried out in Ni’lin.

Approximately 100 citizens of Ni’lin together with international and Israeli human right activists took part in the demonstration. During the demonstration the Israeli army used snipers to shoot the new ‘0.22′ caliber bullet, injuring two people. The army was already present at three different spots close to the clinic long before the prayer had started. After the prayer the demonstrators marched from the clinic towards the construction site of the Apartheid Wall.

Even before the demonstrators entered the olive fields the army shot both the old type of tear gas canister and the new type which is much heavier and explodes on impact making it impossible to see. They also shot rubber-coated steel bullets.

The demonstration was held back with much tear gas and so remained at the site of the clinic throughout the whole demonstration. There were many more soldiers and border police than usual. Read more and view a video form the demonstration: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/01/4297

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Free Gaza Movement stopped in international waters by Israeli navy FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The latest reports are of four Israeli gunboats saying they will use their weapons if the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY does not turn back to Greece. The boat is asserting its right to continue in international waters.

The Free Gaza mercy ship, SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, left port in Cyprus this morning on an emergency mission to besieged Gaza. Aboard the ship are desperately needed medical supplies and 21 passengers and crew, including doctors, human rights workers, journalists, and two parliamentarians from Spain and Italy. Read more: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/01/4331 Free Gaza Movement: http://freegaza.org

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Israeli snipers shooting at families seeking refuge in Al-Quds hospital Israeli snipers are shooting at families who are attempting to seek refuge in Al-Quds hospital, Gaza City. Palestinian and international volunteers are now on the streets outside the hospital to try and get the families inside the hospital.

Australian Human Rights Activist Sharon Lock is assisting medical teams at the hospital, “Israeli snipers are shooting at families attempting to get to the hospital. They are frightened and have no where to go. At least two families have been shot at now, children have been wounded.” Al-Quds hospital, Gaza City, located in the Tel al Huwa neighbourhood of Gaza, has been under attack by the Israeli army since 1:30 AM.

According to International volunteers at the hospital it has been hit by shells four times. “The hospital has received over 150 calls for help from people including many children in the surrounding area who have been wounded and are in desperate need of medical care. The Israeli army has surrounded the hospital and no one is able to get in or out.” – Sharon Lock (Australia) International Solidarity Movement

No one is able to get to these children.

Link: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/01/4336

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Voices from Tel al Huwa, Gaza City As a result of the ongoing shelling in the Tel al Huwa neigbourhood of Gaza City, many families are attempting to find shelter in the Al Quds hospital.

Australian Human Rights Activist Sharon Lock has described the events as Israeli snipers opened fire on families seeking refuge in Al-Quds hospital, in Tel al Huwa: “One family lives very close to the hospital. They tried to come here as they thought it would be safer. Israeli snipers started firing at the family. They shot a young girl in the face and abdomen. She is now being operated on. The father of the family was shot in the leg and fell to the ground. The mother was screaming that one of her daughters was still outside, behind a bush, too scared to move. Mohammed, a medic I have been working with, ran outside and carried her to the hospital.”

Mohammed Shiziq, Palestinian medic, said, “The Red Cross is not managing to coordinate evacuation of wounded people. There are people right next to the Red Crescent hospital bleeding to death. We cannot get to them as the Israelis shoot at us. Usually we transfer severe cases to Al-Shifa hospital. We cannot do that now.”

Dr Amal el Khaloud, of El Azhar University told the ISM that, “There was very heavy shelling and many fires since 11pm last night. We went to hide under the elevator shaft in our apartment block as it is made of concrete. At 11am the army broke down the door for our building and took al the men under 40. They also took their documents and phones. My husband is a childrens doctor. They took my him with them.

There are now around 600 people crammed in the hospital, mostly women and children.”

Link: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/01/4339

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Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions:

A Call from Gaza With the death toll in Gaza growing hourly, silence is complicity.

It is imperative for concerned citizens to demand that their governments take immediate action in order to stop Israeli genocide in Gaza. Write your representative today and demand:

1. That Israeli war criminals be brought before the International Criminal Court or a Special Tribunal for war crimes committed in Gaza. (Remind your representative that the investigation, prosecution or extradition of those responsible for war crimes is an obligation of all high contracting parties to the Geneva Conventions.)

2. That in response to Israel’s severe breaches of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, your state terminate all favorable trade agreements and economic relations with Israel, including the EU Association Agreement which is conditional upon adherence to human rights and democratic principles.

3. That your state cut all diplomatic ties with Israel.

The current events in Gaza were predicated and advocated for by Israeli Professor Arnon Soffer, Head of the IDF’s National Defense College. Professor Soffer spelled out the desired results of Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza in an interview with the Jerusalem Post (24 May 2004): Jerusalem Post: How will the region look the day after unilateral separation? … First of all … Instead of entering Gaza like we did last week. We will tell the Palestinians that if a single missile is fired over the fence, we will fire 10 in response. And women and children will be killed, and houses will be destroyed. After the fifth such incident, Palestinian mothers won’t allow their husbands to shoot Kassams, because they will know what’s waiting for them.

Second of all, when 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful. It’s going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day…If we don’t kill, we will cease to exist…Unilateral separation doesn’t guarantee “peace” – it guarantees a Zionist-Jewish state with an overwhelming majority of Jews… Jerusalem Post: Voluntary transfer? Arnon Soffer: Yes. And Gaza is going to be such a disaster that it will be beyond our capacity to help. There will have to be large-scale international aid. The US will have to pressure Egypt to cede land. More recently Matan Vilnai, Deputy Defense Minister of Israel, told Army Radio during “Operation Hot Winter” (29 February 2008): They will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.

In the days following this statement, 107 Palestinians were killed. The international comunity failed to take action. This inaction, followed by European declarations of intentions to upgrade their trade agreements with Israel, served as a green light for the current atrocities.

Reserve Colonel Yoav Gal, an Israeli Air Force pilot, told Army Radio during “Operation Cast Lead” (11 January 2009): “I believe that it should have been even stronger! Dresden! Dresden! The extermination of a city! After all, we’re told that the face of war has changed. No longer is it the advancing of tanks or an organized military. […] It is a whole nation, from the old lady to the child, this is the military. It is a nation fighting a war. I am calling them a nation, even though I don’t see them as one. It is a nation fighting a nation. Civilians fighting civilians. I’m telling you that we […] must know […] that stones will not be thrown at us! I am not talking about rockets – not even a stone will be thrown at us. Because we’re Jews.[…] I want the Arabs of Gaza to flee to Egypt. This is what I want. I want to destroy the city, not necessarily the people living within it.”

In order to end Israel’s impunity we call on civil society to support the Palestinian campaign for an international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Signatories, The One Democratic State Group – Gaza University Teacher Association in Palestine – Gaza Arab Cultural Forum – Gaza Endorsed by, Popular Committees Against the Wall and Settlements – West Bank Link: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/01/4301

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Other recent headlines:

Progressive: Critic of Israel Threatened Before Talk in NY http://palsolidarity.org/2009/01/4305

Israel: Boycott, Divest, Sanction – Naomi Klein http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090126/klein

Israel shells hospital, UN compound – Al Jazeera http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/01/200911510353779666.html

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More Resources on Gaza:

Tales To Tell: http://talestotell.wordpress.com

In Gaza: http://ingaza.wordpress.com/

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PLEASE FORWARD THIS UPDATE WIDELY

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YOUTUBE: http://youtube.com/user/ISMPalestine

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FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/pages/International-Solidarity-Movement/56674479144

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January 11, 2009

London Demo 10 Jan 09: Part 1. The beginning of the protest

Posted in ! My Articles tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 11:25 pm by Alexia

I started to write this last night – I didn’t get home from the demonstration until around 10.30pm, thanks to some heavy handed policing that meant I got to relive the not-so-joys of collective punishment, only this time UK style. Everything hurt and my ankles, knees, hips and back had all seized up from being forced to stand in the bitter cold for 4 hours.

I was one of the stewards at the London Gaza demonstration. Apart from a very small minority of youths who decided to hijack the event for their own immature and unthinking reasons, the demonstration was peaceful and sent a strong message of support to those in Gaza.

This post is the first of a quick trip through my highlights of the day. I’ll address the violence that ended the demonstration in another post. I have loaded my flickr pics here though there’s not that many and they are not that good, as I had to focus on my job as steward. It didn’t help that it was so cold that the camera battery died pretty quickly and sometimes just point blank refused to work.

The stewards arrived at 10.30 to begin the preparation for the demo. Hyde Park was blanketed in a freezing mist when we arrived and it was a beautiful scene as we wandered through the park to where we were to collect the bundles of placards that needed to be distributed around the entrances for people to carry. Out of the mist came a group of skiers on roller skis. That is one picture I missed as I was carrying a bundle of placards at the time but the sight remains in my minds eye.

As the crowds began to arrive, so did the Hare Krishnas bearing music and free hot food and ginger cake.

The Hare Krishnas dishing up hot food and music

The Hare Krishnas dishing up hot food and music

The food was most welcome on such a wintry day and certainly helped stave off the hunger when we were trapped by the police outside the Israeli Embassy.

During the stewards briefing we were given fluorescent jackets to wear and for a moment it brought back memories of discussions that I had while in Gaza all those years ago. At that time the aggression by the Israeli military towards the internationals in Gaza was becoming more overt and there was a suggestion that members of the ISM should be wearing fluorescent jackets to ensure the military were aware of who we were. It was hard to know whether they would make us more of an attractive target to the military or would afford us some protection and in the end it was given as an option to those who were participating. The answer possibly came less than two months later when two members of ISM, Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall, were killed by the military while wearing the jackets.

Sad thoughts on an otherwise uplifting day – and it was uplifting, I have been to some Gaza demonstrations where it appeared that there were more organisers than supporters. This demo was different, the protesters just kept coming. Even when we began the march, they were still flooding into Hyde Park. Primarily because the buses bringing the protesters in from around the country had been delayed in arriving in London. For the first hour after we set off there were still people rushing from the park to catch us up.

I met people from Wales to Lancashire and all points in between. These people spent more time travelling than they did in London, but it didn’t dampen their enthusiasm or their need to particpate in the protest.

Just some of the protesters who attended

A selection of the crowd. That Brits for Palestine sign is for a facebook group

The most remarkable thing about the demonstration was the diversity of people there. Normally protesters are very white, not this time. We had a large contingent of Muslims in the crowd. They have a reputation for being hard to mobilise because they want to keep their heads down and avoid drawing attention to themselves. On Saturday they were out and proud. They were assuming their rightful place as British people supporting Palestine. To feel secure enough in your society to be able to do this is a positive sign of a healthy society.

Yet I confess doubt. There is a part of me that thinks that these people are just so incensed by what is happening that they just had to come to the demonstrations, despite their reservations. Only time will tell I suppose.

The police claim 12,000 people were there. One of the guest speakers before the march, the musican Brian Eno agrees with the organisers who claim over 100,000 people attended:

http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/news/britain/100_000_march_for_a_free_gaza

“Musician Brian Eno condemned the police and BBC for underestimating the size of the protest.

“I know what 20,000 looks like. I’ve played often enough in front of 20,000. The size of the demonstration was at the very least four times that size and 100,000 is an accurate assessment. I have complained to the BBC about their absurd figure of 20,000,” he said.”

Brian Eno should know, he’s seen more large crowds in his musical career than the police and the BBC have seen large demonstrations.

Over the next few days I’ll post the rest of my experiences from the march. It’s been a long day and I’m still feeling very creaky after yesterday’s little adventure. For the first time ever I think I may actually be getting too old for this.