June 7, 2009

PSC weekly update 5 June 2009

Posted in PSC Updates tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 1:15 am by Alexia

 

1. UN hearings to be held on Gaza war crimes
2. Oxfam report calls for lifting blockade on Gaza, and ending politicisation of aid.
3. On Obama’s speech
4. See speech by Hana Joma at PCS Annual Conference, and report from Sawt el-Amel
5. More on Israel wiping Palestine off the map
6. Scottish TUC supports Edinburgh Film Festival decision to return Israeli Embassy funding
7. Israel declares Nablus area a closed military zone
8. Israel prepares laws to deepen discrimination

 

1. UN hearings to be held on Gaza war crimes

A UN team investigating possible war crimes in Gaza says it will hold public hearings with victims of the conflict in Gaza and Geneva later this month. The team has spent the week interviewing witnesses and visiting sites damaged in Israel’s three-week offensive, which ended on 18 January. Richard Goldstone, who is heading the team, said it had hoped to hold hearings in Israel and the West Bank. But Israel has refused to co-operate in the inquiry, accusing it of bias. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/8084734.stm

2. Oxfam report calls for lifting blockade on Gaza, and ending politicisation of aid.

In June 2009 the blockade on the Gaza Strip enters its third year. The intense closure policy, coupled with the government of Israel’s recent military operation ‘Cast Lead’, has had a devastating impact on the lives and livelihoods of one and a half million Gazans, pushing them further into poverty and aid dependency. Parties to the conflict and the international community have, to varying degrees, prioritised their own political objectives over people’s rights and needs, leaving Gazans sitting on the ruins of their homes. By attempting to isolate Hamas, the government of Israel and key international donor governments and institutions have in fact isolated the people of Gaza, thereby reducing chances of securing a peaceful, just and durable resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The report also makes clear that ‘For signatories to the Geneva Conventions, it is not a choice of whether or not to act, it is a legal obligation. http://www.oxfam.org.uk/resources/policy/conflict_disasters/bn-rebuilding-gaza.html And Palestinian psychologists have warned Wednesday that 98% of Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip were suffering psychological traumas, and feel unsafe following Israel’s war on Gaza. In a workshop organized by the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP) Palestinian psychologists urged all concerned international institutions to help protect the Palestinian children in a more effective way in order to minimize the effect of the war on them. http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/en/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd87MDI46m9rUxJEpMO%2bi1s7vnolVzqr1e1GVIWdAuyEWPlAGV3mfJkdAt2EzlhTOPO6AVzVOofp9PoKHHwJi5jq54jr193D933zQvgQlSqBKmnf10R3COl6bpHlVfO6n5Q%3d

3. On Obama’s speech

Phyllis Bennis: ‘President Barack Obama’s much-anticipated Cairo speech reflected a significant shift away from the ideological framework of militarism and unilateralism that shaped the Bush administration’s war-based policy towards the Arab and Muslim worlds… The shift in discourse, away from justifying reckless imperial hubris, unilateralism and militarism and towards a more cooperative and potentially even internationalist approach was potent. The actual policy shifts were much smaller’. http://www.ips-dc.org/articles/obama_in_egypt_changing_the_discourse Ali Abunimah: ‘Obama’s speech shows little real change. In most regards his analysis maintains flawed American policies. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jun/04/barack-obama-middleeast For Barack Obama’s full speech: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/06/20096410251287187.html

4. See speech by Hana Joma at PCS Annual Conference

and read Sawt El-Amel’s report Available on the PSC website, Hana’s deeply moving speech to the PCS Union’s conference: http://www.palestinecampaign.org/index7b.asp?m_id=1&l1_id=4&l2_id=24&Content_ID=661 And read Sawt El-Amel’s report of their delegation to PCS Annual Conference: http://laborers-voice.org/files/090601-PCSBrighton.pdf

5. More on Israel wiping Palestine off the map

Following our successful campaign against the Israeli tourism advertisements on the London Tube, the story went worldwide: A very public controversy with regard to a map of Israel erupted last month in London. The Israeli Ministry of Tourism placed an advertisement throughout the London Underground showing a map of Israel, the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights in the same yellow color, giving the impression that Israel’s vast geography did not include occupied Palestinian territory. Obviously misrepresentative, because a British tourist cannot sunbath on the pristine beaches of Gaza or shop the markets of Ramallah, all the while travelling from Eilat to Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to Haifa. After mass protests, the Israeli Ministry removed the posters, calling them a “professional mistake.” However, Ministry officials most likely see the incident as a market miscalculation rather than an issue related to the borders of their country. A similar incident occurred when I was travelling through Israel a few months ago. I noticed that my travel map, published by Hertz, all but erased the existence of the occupied Palestinian territory. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-shtenderauerbach/the-cartographic-crux-of_b_208264.html

6. Scottish TUC supports Edinburgh Film Festival decision to return Israeli Embassy funding

Mary Senior, the Scottish TUC’s Assistant Secretary, has written ‘The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) applauds the decision of the Edinburgh International Film Festival to return funding from the Israeli Embassy, and welcomes the intervention on this matter from British director Ken Loach (your report, 19 May). Standing up to the State of Israel is not “extremist”, “sanctimonious” or “self glorifying”. Rather, it is about exposing the illegitimate actions of the Israeli government, for example in Gaza, in the continued construction of the separation wall, and in the growing settlement programme. http://news.scotsman.com/opinion/Pressure-on-Israel.5337562.jp

7. Israel declares Nablus area a closed military zone

In an attempt to prevent Israeli peace activists from entering the Nablus area, the head of the Central Command of the Israeli Army, Gadi Shamni, declared Nablus a closed military zone.’ http://www.imemc.org/article/60652

8. Israel prepares laws to deepen discrimination

BADIL writes: ‘For decades Israel has practiced discrimination and forced displacement against its Palestinian citizenry with impunity. But now it seeks to impose consent for its crimes upon its Palestinian victims. Three bills currently making rounds in the Israeli Knesset reveal an obscene and dangerous targeting of the individual and collective rights of Palestinian citizens. http://www.badil.org/Publications/Press/2009/press507-09.htm

For more news, information and details of more events across the country, see the PSC website: www.palestinecampaign.org

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The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) aims to raise public awareness about the occupation of Palestine and the struggle of the Palestinian people. PSC seek to bring pressure on both the British and Israeli government to bring their policies in line with international law. PSC is an independent, non-governmental and non-party political organisation with members from communities across the UK. Join PSC today!

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March 27, 2009

BBC: UN criticises Israelis over Gaza

Posted in General Gaza Updates tagged , , , , , , at 11:36 am by Alexia

 I wanted to make sure this wasn’t forgotten.

 UN human rights investigators have questioned the legality of Israel’s Gaza offensive in a wide-ranging report to the UN Human Rights Council.

One investigator, Richard Falk, asked how a military assault with modern weapons could have been made “against an essentially defenceless society”.

The report found civilians appeared to “have taken the brunt of the attacks” with schools and clinics also hit.

Israel has accused Council members of seeking to “demonise” it.

 

Many international organisations have raised concerns about possible war crimes during the three-week offensive, which ended on 18 January.

An Israeli rights group has also criticised Israel for hitting medics and impeding medical evacuations.

The Israeli military says it is investigating specific claims of abuses and argues that it did its utmost to protect civilians during a conflict in which militants operated from populated civilian areas.

‘One-sided’ fight

Because Mr Falk, a UN human rights investigator, was unable to enter the Palestinian territories, his latest findings focus on the legality of Israel’s January operation in Gaza in general, rather than on specific cases or claims that disproportionate force was used.

 

Mr Falk argued that in order to determine if the war was legal, it was necessary to assess whether Israeli forces could differentiate between civilian and military targets in Gaza.

“If it is not possible to do so, then launching the attacks is inherently unlawful, and would seem to constitute a war crime of the greatest magnitude under international law,” he said in Geneva.

“The overall ratio of deaths, 1,434 on the Palestinian side, 13 on the Israeli side, is suggestive of the one-sidedness of the military encounter,” he added.

Gaza’s borders were closed, he stressed, so civilians were unable to flee the fighting.

Mr Falk called for an independent inquiry to examine possible war crimes committed by both Israel and Hamas.

He also suggested that the Israeli blockade of Gaza was in violation of the Geneva Conventions and must be lifted.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN secretary general’s special representative for children and armed conflict, cited a long series of incidents to back her charges, in her report to the UN Human Rights Council.

In one, she said, Israeli soldiers shot a father after ordering him out of his house and then opened fire into the room where the rest of the family was sheltering, wounding the mother and three brothers and killing a fourth.

‘Demonising Israel’

Israel’s ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council, Aharon Leshno Yar, said the report “wilfully” ignored and downplayed terrorist and other threats faced by Israel

The 43-page document was, he added, part of a pattern of “demonising Israel” in the Council.

Israeli authorities denied entry to Mr Falk last December, when he attempted to conduct his regular investigative mission to the Palestinian territories.

Israel was angered by a series of comments he had made accusing it of war crimes and comparing its actions in Gaza to Nazi Germany in World War II.

On Monday, the Israeli organisation Physicians for Human Rights released a report saying Israel had violated international law and ethics codes during the Gaza operation.

It accused Israeli forces of “attacks on medical personnel, damage to medical facilities and indiscriminate attacks on civilians not involved in the fighting”.