June 8, 2009

PSC: Veolia Victory

Posted in PSC Updates tagged , , , , , , , at 3:31 pm by Alexia

From Omar Barghouti

In the first smashing and convincing victory of the global BDS movement in the field of corporate responsibility and ethical compliance, Veolia is reportedly abandoning the Jerusalem Light Rail project, an illegal project that aims at connecting Israeli colonies built on occupied Palestinian territory to the city of Jerusalem. As the Haaretz article below admits, the BDS campaign’s success in costing Veolia some $7 billion worth of contracts is the key behind this decision by the troubled company to pull out of the project.

It is worth mentioning that Le Monde has recently published an expose, revealing to French readers and, crucially, to Veolia’s stock holders the fact that the company is losing a lot of money because of its complicity in a project that constitutes a major violation of international law, if not a war crime.

This great victory came as a result of years of hard, principled, meticulous and persistent work by French solidarity groups, particularly AFPS; by the growing French BDS movement which was instrumental in making Veolia lose a huge contract in Bordeaux; by Dutch activists who achieved the first success in convincing a Dutch bank to divest from Veolia and applied pressure on other banks to follow suit; by Swedish peace and justice groups, mainly connected to the Church of Sweden, particularly Diakonia, and Swedish Palestine solidarity groups who cost Veolia the heaviest, $4.5 billion contract in running the Stockholm metro; by British solidarity groups and activists, particularly affiliated with PSC, who contributed tremendously to excluding Veolia from a lucrative contract in the West Midlands; and of course by the Palestinian BDS National Committee, BNC, which partnered with all the above in the now famous Derail Veolia and Alstom campaign to pressure the company to abandon this illegal project.

The Derail Veolia and Alstom campaign, which involves activists and groups in many countries all working to pressure the two French giants to quit the JLR project, was officially launched at the Bilbao Initiative conference in the Basque city last November. Now is the time to pressure Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Gulf states, among others, to kick Alstom out due to its complicity in this illegal project. Solidarity with Palestine means almost nothing if it cannot be translated into BDS action that can truly cost the Israeli occupation and apartheid regime dearly.

This is the time to DERAIL ALSTOM!

Omar http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1091186.html  

Jerusalem rail operator jumps ship, Tel Aviv group isn’t even responding The light rail projects for Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are both facing difficulties. In a body-blow to the future Jerusalem light rail, the French company Veolia, which was supposed to run the train system after its construction, is abandoning the project. Moving on to Tel Aviv, the city can’t even get a response to the compromise it offered MTS, the consortium supposed to build an urban train system, in order to settle issues in dispute.

It’s waited a month and gotten no answer, causing not a little consternation in government circles. As for the Jerusalem system, Veolia not only wants out of running the future train; it’s trying to sell its 5% stake in Citypass, the light rail consortium. In recent days Veolia has been sending feelers to the Egged or Dan bus consortiums, to potentially replace it as project operator.

Any change in the ownership structure of Citypass, or in the identity of the project operator, requires the permission of the state. Also, the attempt to add Egged to the consortium could arouse opposition at the Antitrust Authority. Veolia has had to contend not only with the delays and difficulties in building the light rail project itself, but with political pressure at home as well.

Two months ago a French court heard a lawsuit by a pro-Palestinian group, demanding that the light rail project be halted. The organization based itself on an article in French law that allows the court to void business agreements, signed by French companies, that violate international law. The political pressure on Veolia has been mounting in another direction.

According to various reports abroad, the French firm had been losing major projects in Europe because of its involvement in the Jerusalem job. Observers claim that’s the real reason Veolia opted out.

Also, for two years the Jerusalem project has been held up by battles between Citypass, the city of Jerusalem and various ministries. (The disputes even include whose fault the delays are.)

Last week the spat between Citypass and the state reached a new low, after the group admitted it couldn’t meet the new deadline for the Jerusalem light rail project. It expects to run nine months behind schedule, the consortium said. The state then accused the business consortium of deliberately dragging its feet and of effecting “a hostile takeover of the streets of Jerusalem.” Sources in Israel’s transportation sector called Citypass’s announcement “chutzpah,” on the grounds that it and the state had agreed on a new schedule only a year earlier. And that was a month after an arbitration process during which the new schedule was ratified.

In response to Citypass’ announcement, the state contacted the arbitrators accompanying the process, asking them to enforce the franchise agreement and force Citypass to finish the works as set in the new schedule, by September 2010, “finally restoring normalcy to Jerusalem.” The state also asked for permission to stop paying Citypass, including the upcoming installment of NIS 32.5 million. Citypass can meet the agreed-on schedule, the state insists: “This isn’t inability to complete the project on time. At most it’s a crude attempt to squeeze more money from the state,” wrote the state in its letter to the arbitrators. “[Citypass] already advised the state and the arbitrators that it doesn’t intend to finish the works on time, but it doesn’t settle for words: It is making sure to work at a pace that assures it won’t meet the agreed-on deadline for completion.”

In summation, the state accuses Citypass of making life in Jerusalem intolerable. Citypass denies the allegations, which it called “absurd,” and claims the state is indulging in baseless legal gambits in response to the lawsuit Citypass filed against it because of the delays.

Sources in the know suspect that the delays ruined the project’s business model. The cost of the works grew, and there were delays in the transfer of state funding for the companies involved in the project, while the companies needed the money to return their own loans.

The upshot, if so, was heightened tensions between the partners in Citypass, mainly between equipment provider Alstom, operator Veolia and the Israeli contractor Ashtrom. After some changes, the partners in Citypass are Ashtrom (27.5%), Alstom (20%), Polar Investments (17.5%), Israel Infrastructures Fund (10%) and Veolia (5%).

The Jerusalem project involves building eight lines. Only the first one has passed the tender process, which Citypass won. The line is supposed to start in Pisgat Zeev, pass along Jaffa Street and end at Mount Herzl. The cost of that line alone is projected at NIS 2.4 billion. The state is providing NIS 1.4 billion.

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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!

Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Box BM PSA London WC1N 3XX

Tel: 020 7700 6192

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ISM Updates Digest 9th June 2009

Posted in ISM Updates tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:49 am by Alexia

1.      Palestinian protester killed during Na’alin rally
2.     Settlers attack Palestinian vehicle with rocks, wounding four, and set fire to land in Qalqiliya district
3.     Infant dies as Israel prevents him from leaving Gaza Strip to undergo medical treatment in East Jerusalem
4.     Israeli piracy continues unabated – six more fishermen abducted
5.      Israeli forces kidnap 4 Palestinian residents of Ni’lin
6.      Playground for bombed kindergartens in Gaza
7.     Prevent Alstom from building the Haramain Express Railway
8.     War crimes in Gaza: Palestinian lawyers take on Israel
9.      Left-wing activists evacuated from tent built opposite outpost
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1.      Palestinian protester killed during Na’alin rally

Avi Issacharoff, Anshel Pfeffer & Reuters | Ha’aretz

5 June 2009

Palestinian officials reported on Friday that a Palestinians demonstrator had been killed during the weekly anti-separation fence rally near the West Bank town of Na’alin. Palestinian medical officials said 36-year-old Yusuf Srour had been killed by Israeli forces. Medics said Srour was hit in the chest by a live bullet and another protester was wounded when soldiers fired at protesters.

Srour died minutes later, Mohammed Shahwan, a doctor on the ambulance called to the scene, told Reuters.

An Israeli military spokesman said troops had opened fire when protesters threw stones at them in the village, but denied that the troops had used live ammunition. However, an IDF spokesman said, an investigation has been launched into the incident.

Na’alin is the scene of weekly protests against the continuing construction of an Israeli barrier that has cut through the village.

Israel says the barrier it has built along its boundary with the West Bank is needed to keep bombers from infiltrating its towns.

Palestinians denounce the network of fencing and concrete walls which cut deeply into the West Bank in spots such as Na’alin, as a land grab that denies them territory they want for a future state.

Meanwhile, five demonstrators were injured in confrontations with security forces in the anti-separation fence rally in Bil’in. Two months ago, Ibrahim abu-Rakhma was killed during a separation fence rally in Bil’in after suffering a tear-gas grenade hit to his chest, which witnesses said was launched some 30 meters away by security forces.

The Israel Defense Force issued a response following the incident, stating that approximately 100 protesters had attempted to tear down part of the separation fence while hurling rocks at security forces. IDF troops responded to the mayhem by employing demonstration dispersal devices.

Another incident occurred four months ago, in which American citizen Tristan Anderson, in his thirties, sustained critical wounds during an anti-separation fence protest in Na’alin. Peace activists with the International Solidarity Movement of the Oakland, Calif. area, said Anderson was struck in the head with a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops.

Article: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1090697.html

2. Settlers attack Palestinian vehicle with rocks, wounding four, and set fire to land in Qalqiliya district

International Women’s Peace Service 1 June 2009

On Monday, June 1st, settlers from the Havat Gilad settler outpost in the Qalqiliya district of the West Bank reportedly attacked a minibus transporting 17 Palestinians to their jobs in Israel, critically injuring one. The settlers later burned an estimated 100 dunams of Palestinian land, leaving scorched earth and trees.

At approximately 4:30 a.m. on Monday a busload of 17 Palestinian men, mostly young and all with Israeli work permits, was stopped on the road near the entrance to Qedumim settlement by an estimated 50 settlers, who proceeded to throw rocks at the vehicle. Four workers were injured, one critically, and he remains in hospital.

The workers said Israeli soldiers were just 50 metres away from the settlers at the time of the attack. However, they reported, the soldiers did nothing to stop the settlers, nor did they take subsequent action. One uninjured worker asked soldiers to call an ambulance, but, he reported, they refused and even threatened to shoot him if he did not leave the area, which they had declared a closed military zone.

At around midday the settlers proceeded to burn Palestinian farmland, estimated by Nasser Sedda, the mayor of Jit, to cover 100 dunams and belong to eleven local families. Some of the land was planted with olive trees and with wheat, and an estimated 100 trees were destroyed in the fire. The Israeli army prevented farmers from reaching their land after the fires were set, the mayor reported, and consequently they were not able to extinguish the flames until between 4 and 5 p.m., by which time the damage was extensive.

One farmer with land near the neighbouring village of Immatin said that during last autumn’s olive harvest settlers from Havat Gilad burnt trees on his land. Four dunams of land had also been taken from the 17 dunams he owns for the construction of the outpost, and olive trees destroyed.

3. Infant dies as Israel prevents him from leaving Gaza Strip to undergo medical treatment in East Jerusalem

Al Mezan 5 June 2009

Infant Dies as Israel Prevents Him from Leaving Gaza Strip to Undergo Medical Treatment in East Jerusalem, Al Mezan Calls for Immediate Lifting of the Siege on Gaza

At around 7.30am on 3 June 2009, seven-month-old Zein Ad-Din Mohammed Zu’rob died in the intensive care unit at European Gaza Hospital in Khan Younis. Medical sources at the hospital reported to Al Mezan that he died as a result of respiratory system and heart failure. According to Al Mezan investigations, Zein’s family obtained a medical referral for him to undergo medical treatment at Al-Maqasid Charity Hospital in East Jerusalem for 30 days starting from 18 May 2009.

On 20 May 2009, Zein’s family went to Al Mezan’s office in Rafah where they authorized Al Mezan to pursue the case and assist with efforts to secure a permit for the child and his family to travel to Jerusalem. The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) did not respond to the requests made regarding this matter until 3 June 2009.

Medical reports show that Zein was suffering from a severe lung infection which resulted in bronchial asthma and general weakness in his growth. Doctors at European Gaza Hospital said that the main cause of the deterioration in the child’s condition was an infection with a pancreatic cyst. They explained that hospitals in the Gaza Strip do not have the ability to conduct the necessary tests and that he was therefore referred to Al-Maqasid hospital in Jerusalem for tests and treatment.

Al Mezan Center has followed up this case with the victim’s family in cooperation with Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I), which contacted the Israeli District Coordination Office (IDCO) at Erez Crossing. The IDCO’s answer was that they had not received an application for permission for the child to cross Erez to Jerusalem. Al Mezan Center contacted the Palestinian District Coordination Office staff in Gaza, who reported that they had sent an application for the child on 25 May 2009.

This is indicative of the serious problem of the complex bureaucracy faced by Gazans who need to leave Gaza seeking healthcare in Israel or the West Bank. They have to leave Gaza via Erez Crossing. Only severe cases who suffer from conditions that are incurable in Gaza are allowed to apply for permission. Nevertheless, the application and processing of their request take long times and lack an effective follow-up mechanism. Many patients die while waiting for a response to their requests for permission to exit Gaza.

According to Al Mezan’s monitoring, many of the sick persons who applied for permits to leave the Gaza Strip through Erez crossing were informed that they had not applied, even though the Palestinian Liaison Office had sent the applications days or weeks previously. Patients therefore have to wait even longer to receive a response, change their appointment at the hospital outside of Gaza, and then apply again for a permit thereby losing precious time waiting for a response which may be positive or negative. Al Mezan documentation also demonstrates that the receipt of a permit to exit Gaza through Erez crossing does not necessarily mean that patients will be allowed to leave. The IOF obstructs many patients who have been issued with permits, searching and interrogating them, and exploiting their need to travel for reasons of ill-health to pressurize them into collaborating and providing information about the activities of the resistance in the Gaza Strip. Many Palestinian patients have died after being ordered by the IOF to return to the Gaza Strip after refusing to collaborate.

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights condemns in the strongest possible terms Israel’s siege on the Gaza Strip and its prevention of Palestinians from travelling to undergo medical treatment which is unavailable in Gaza. Al Mezan holds Israel responsible for the deaths of over 35 sick persons in the Gaza Strip who died as a result of Israel’s refusal to allow them to leave Gaza, and dozens of other persons who have died in Gaza’s hospitals as a result of the blockade, closures, the lack of treatment, and the lack of electricity and fuel.

Al Mezan asserts that Israel, as the Occupying Power in effective control of the Gaza Strip and its crossings, bears legal responsibility to ensure that Gaza residents can access adequate medical care, in a time which enables them to receive appropriate treatment without delay. Further, Israel has a clear responsibility toward the population of the Gaza Strip to enjoy their fundamental right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health in accordance with its obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This obligation includes ensuring the availability of appropriate healthcare and the ability of each individual to access it.

http://www.mezan.org/en/details.php?id=8807&ddname=crossings&id2=9&id_dept=9&p=center

4. Israeli piracy continues unabated – six more fishermen abducted

ISM Gaza | Fishing Under Fire 4 June 2009

Gazan territorial waters – At around 9 am, six Palestinian fishermen were abducted by the Israeli Navy whilst fishing in Palestinian territorial waters. The fishermen are reported as being; Adham Al – Habil 21, Mohammed Al – Habil 20, Ahmed Al – Habil, Maher Abu Sultan 25, Mohammed Al – Arayshi, and Sadam Bakar.

The fishermen embarked from Gaza port at 8 am, in a trawling vessel owned by Abu Adham. At around 9 am when they were 3 miles from shore, and 0.5 km south of the “K” area (a designated no-fishing area in the Oslo Accords), they reported that an Israeli gun boat had approached, fired at them, and demanded that they turn of the boats engine. Communication with the fishermen was then lost.

It is believed that all of the fishermen have been abducted, and that their boat has been seized. Several fishermen that were recently abducted in similar circumstances, but have now been released, had reported that at the time of their abduction, the Israeli Navy threatened that “If we see Abu Adham’s boat in the sea again, we’ll seize it and arrest all the fishermen.” In the last few months, the Israeli Navy have escalated their campaign of persecution against the Palestinian fishermen. Of particular note is the recent spate of abductions. Since the declaration of a cease- fire in January of this year, and prior to today, 40 abductions of fishermen have been reported, and 17 fishing boats have been seized or stolen. About 10 of these boats have been returned but with damages and equipment missing.

Abu Adham’s trawling boat was one of three boats seized by the Israeli Navy in November 2008. 15 of the fishermen aboard along with three members of the International Solidarity Movement were also abducted. Following a court case filed by PCHR, Al Mezan, and the ISM the 3 vessels were returned – although damaged and with equipment missing. On the 7th May 2009, one of these boats (belonging to Abu Rami) was again seized by the Israeli Navy and its crew abducted. Israel is refusing to return this boat. Along with Abu Adham’s vessel, it now appears that two of the trawlers stolen by the Israeli Navy in November 2008, are again in Israeli hands.

Link: http://fishingunderfire.blogspot.com/2009/06/israeli-piracy-continues-unabated-six.html

5.  Israeli forces kidnap 4 Palestinian residents of Ni’lin

2 June 2009

Israeli forces invaded the town of Ni’lin at 2 am on Wednesday,  2nd of June. The army forcefully entered five homes and siezed four residents, Sa’dat Ibrahim Mustafa Ameerah (19), Mahmod Abdallah Ameerah (26), Ibrahim Khalil Ad-Dik Srour (18) and Hamada Abdel Raziq Khawaja (28). All of them are suspected in taking part of the popular resistance against the Annexation Wall. The arrested were taken to Ofer Prisoner Camp, a tent prison. A fifth person the army was looking for, Hassan Nimer Khawaja (22), was not captured since he was not at home when the Israeli army came. His family was given a paper ordering Hassan and his father to come to Ofer Prison Camp on 2 June at 2pm.

More than 100 soldiers came by foot, entering the village through the fields and surrounding the homes of the five persons they were aiming to arrest. Shortly thereafter, dozens of jeeps entered the village.

Hassan Khawaja, who was given an order to come to Ofer, chose to turn himself in because of frequent harassment of his family from Israeli soldiers.

Ibrahim Srour (18) was taken from a local bakery in Ni’lin, where he had started to work 2 weeks ago. According to Ibrahim’s colleagues, about 10 soldiers entered the bakery at 2am and arrested Ibrahim. Simultaneously,  soldiers entered Srour’s home and went straight upstairs to search his room for evidence in connection with the popular resistance but nothing was found. The Israeli forces did not give a reason for the invasion of the Srour home. After the soldiers left, Ibrahim’s work colleague called his family to explain that Ibrahim had been handcuffed, blindfolded and taken to the Israeli road block at the entrance of the village. Ibrahim’s father Khalil took one of his daughters with him and went to the entrance to try to bring Ibrahim back home or give him some extra clothes since he was only wearing shorts and a t-shirt. I went to the roadblocks to bring back my son. When I came there I saw him sitting on the ground with his eyes blindfolded and his hands tied behind his back. I asked the soldiers if I could talk to him but they screamed at me to go back and at the same time I heard my son’s voice telling me to go back home. He wanted to protect me and I had to return back without him or giving him anything”

At 2am, Israeli soldiers with the commander in charge, “Captain Foad”, entered the house of Hamada Khawaja. Soldiers has previously harassed the neighbors while searching for Hamada’s house. Hamada’s entire family was woken by the soldiers, including his 2 children, ages 2 and 4 years old. According to Hamada’s brother,  “Captain Foad” made jokes, asking the family who they thought he had come to take. Hamada and his brother were both taken downstairs and then Hamada was arrested and taken away. The family must now rely solely on the income of Hamada’s brother, whose family lives with Hamada.

At 2.10 am, Israeli forces knocked on the door of Mahmod Ameerah, calling his name. According to his wife, the whole family was asleep at the time. Mahmod went up to open the door and three soldiers entered the house. The soldiers remained inside Mahmod’s home, until the commander, “Captain Foad” came at 4am and arrested Mahmod. Mahmod provides the sole income for the family and is the father of 2 daughters, aged 1 and 2. Mahmod is the second son in the family that has been imprisoned on a suspicion of involvment with the popular resistance against the Wall.

Soldiers surrounded the home of Sa’dat Ameerah and entered at 2:15am. The family of ten were all put into one room except for the mother and 2 youngest children. The soldiers asked for the IDs of the 3 oldest sons.  Around 3:15am, “Captain Foad” came to the home and Sa´dat was arrested, blindfolded, handcuffed and taken to a jeep.

Sadat’s father, Ibrahim, a member of the Popular Committee of Ni’lin, was also arrested during a night invasion on the 14th of August. He was imprisoned and interrogated on a daily basis until his release 16 days later. Subsequently, Ibrahim Ameerah lost his permit to work in Israel proper. Additionally, Sa’dats younger brother was arrested on the 22nd of December 2008 and released in April.

Israeli forces regularly invade Ni’lin to arrest residents believed to be active in the popular resistance against the Annexation Wall. Since the start of the construction of the Annexation Wall in May 2008, more than 70 villagers have been arrested. Six of the arrested were children under the age of 18; Mohammad Ata Mousa (14), Ibrahim Khalqel (16), Yazed Hussam Mousa (16), Majed Hisham Nafea (17), Sufyan Khawaja (17), Saeed Ibrahim Amireh (17), and Mohammed Daoud Khawaja (17). These children have had their educations interrupted and several missed a school term.

Night invasions, a tool of the Israeli occupation forces to arrest suspected participants in the resistance to the illegal Annexation Wall, are ongoing. The village of Ni’lin will lose another 2,500 dunums of land after the construction of the Wall. A village that was 57,000 dunums before 1948, Ni’lin will have only 7,500 dunums left. Residents, alongside international and Israeli solidarity activists, have participated in demonstrations against the land confiscation since May 2008.

6.      Playground for bombed kindergartens in Gaza

For Immediate Release:

Sunday 7th June, 10:00, Erez checkpoint

More than 750,000 children are incarcerated without a trial in Gaza ­ the largest prison in the world. It is forbidden to send toys and playground equipment into Gaza.

The Israeli authorities define even paper and crayons a “Security Hazard”. In defiance of this obituary and cruel regulation, a delegation of Israeli and American feminists, residents of neighboring towns, the clownish doctor Patch Adams and the Israeli Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army (ICIRCA), will travel on Sunday to the Erez Checkpoint. We will come to the sealed crossing armed with Slides, Swings, Kites, Magic castles and similar deadly weapons, in order to pass them through to the besieged and bombed kindergartens in Gaza.

The action is organized by the Coalition of Women for Peace (Israel) and Code Pink (USA). The Code Pink activists have already achieved the construction of one kindergarten playground in Gaza, and staged a rally during President Obama’s speech in Cairo, demanding the president put his money where his mouth is, and cut the US funding of the siege on Gaza.

Patch Adams, the protagonist of the 1998 Robin Williams film, will stage a border-line clown show deflating the ballooning cruelty and arrogance of the siege and highlighting the absurdities robbing the children of Gaza of their right to a life of safety, freedom, and laughter. The Clown Army will be aiding and abetting.

Code Pink will attempt to traffic the playgrounds through the border. If apprehended by the Israeli army, insistent on denying the children of Gaza – hundreds of whom have been killed and thousands orphaned in the long years of siege – the fundamental right of PLAY, the Playgrounds will be erected on the border.

7. Prevent Alstom from building the Haramain Express Railway

Saudi Arabia awarded French company Alstom a multi-million dollar contract for the construction of Haramain Express Railway, to link the holy cities of Makkah and Madina. Alstom is in violation of international law for its part in the construction of the Jerusalem Light Rail, which will link illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (including East Jerusalem) with the city of Jerusalem. The construction of the light rail is part of a wider Israeli policy to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians from Jerusalem and turn permanent the illegal occupation of the city.

The decision by the Saudi Arabian authorities is in violation of its own international commitments. The Arab League barred member states from dealing with companies involved in the construction of Jerusalem Light Rail project. The Saudi contract sends a signal of approval for Alstom’s actions in Jerusalem and highlights the lack of integrity of the Haramain project: the Saudi Arabian government has chosen to link two of Islam’s holiest cities by sponsoring the colonization of another.

Across the world a divestment campaign is taking pace against Alstom and its partner company Veolia, with victories in Sweden and France. In 2006, Dutch ASN Bank took the responsible decision to divest from the project. Alstom and Veolia are accused by Palestinian civil society, represented by the BDS National Committee, BNC, of complicity in grave violation of international law and Palestinian rights for their role in the JLR project. Despite the pressure, the two companies have refused to end their participation in the project. With construction at an advanced stage, Alstom and Veolia are guilty of actively colluding with Israeli apartheid.

1.      Write to the Saudi Railway Organization and to the Saudi Arabian diplomatic representation in your country demanding immediate cancellation of the contract with Alstom.

o      Saudi Railway Organisation contact details (http://tiny.cc/llcfC) karni@saudirailways.org (Vice President) shafqatrabbani@sro.org.sa (Project Manager) salim@sro.org.sa (Project Manager) sohail@sro.org.sa (Project Engineer) o        Saudi Arabian diplomatic representations worldwide: http://tiny.cc/NvtOd Please bcc us on your correspondence: saudialstomdivestment@gmail.com

2.      Sign the petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/BDSaudi/petition.html

3.      Write about this issue in your local media. Discuss it in your local mosque and community centers. Participate in actions for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel.

Find Out More!

The Case Against Veolia and Alstrom: GulfNews: Company in Saudi rail project linked to Israel: http://www.gulfnews.com/news/gulf/saudi_arabia/10318520.html

Divestment campaign gains momentum in Europe: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10418.shtml

Veolia looses 3.5 billion EUR contract in Sweden: http://www.diakonia.se/sa/node.asp?node=2807

PLO takes Veolia Transport and Alstom to court in France: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9104.shtml

Legal action in France against Veolia and Anstrom: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article6674.shtml

Time to hold Veolia to account: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10295.shtml

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians From Jerusalem: Ethnic Cleansing in East Jerusalem: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10381.shtml

Civic Coalition to Defend Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem: http://www.ccdprj.ps

Israeli House Demolitions in Jerusalem Slideshow: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2009/mar/06/israel-palestinian-territories

Policy of Residency Revocation of Palestinians in Jerusalem: http://www.btselem.org/English/Jerusalem/Revocation_of_Residency.asp

Global Movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel: http://www.bdsmovement.net/ ____________________

8. War crimes in Gaza: Palestinian lawyers take on Israel

Juliane von Mittelstaedt | Der Spiegel

5 June 2009

Four months after the war in Gaza, Palestinian lawyers have prepared 936 lawsuits against the Israeli military over alleged war crimes. Some of the cases could soon be tried at Spain’s National Court under universal jurisdiction.

When Iyad al-Alami wants to survey the fallout of the Gaza war, he simply has to step out of his office and walk up the stairs to the top floor of the building where he works. There, piles of shrapnel, twisted missile shells and massive armor-piercing shells are stored. New material is added every day, filling the boxes that cover the floor and are stacked along the walls. For Al-Alami, the debris is evidence of Israeli army war crimes. He hopes the weapons can be used again — but this time in a courtroom.

Al-Alami is the man behind efforts to assemble the biggest ever wave of lawsuits against Israel. He heads the legal department of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) in Gaza City. From his windowless office, the taciturn lawyer is trying to convince courts around the world to take up his cause. Al-Alami is 45 years old, and he bears a slight resemblance to former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, whose image is hanging on Al-Alami’s wall. Although he is by no means a propagandist, Al-Alami refers to “Israeli war crimes” as if he were discussing a self-evident fact. But he sees himself as neutral, or at least as neutral as a Palestinian in the Gaza Strip can be. He has defended Hamas members in Fatah prisons and Fatah members in Hamas prisons. He has represented hundreds, perhaps even thousands, against the Israeli army since he co-founded the PCHR 14 years ago. In the best outcomes, Israel paid compensation for victims or convicted its soldiers of theft. But the center’s victories have all been minor. “We live in a system of impunity,” says Al-Alami.

The 4,747 Palestinian deaths which, according to the Israel human rights organization B’Tselem, resulted during the second intifada the Palestinian uprising that began in September 2000 — led to 30 criminal charges against Israeli soldiers, five convictions and only one longer jail term. According to the PCHR, 1,417 people died in Israel’s most recent war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and many of the dead were civilians. This must not happen again, says Al-Alami. His dream is to see an international tribunal for Gaza, equipped with his files and evidence. And it seems as if his vision could soon come true, at least in part.

Dozens of attorneys around the world — in Norway, Britain, New Zealand, Spain and the Netherlands — are working on the Gaza lawsuits. In a globalized world, justice is also global: The basis for the initiative is the principle of universal jurisdiction in international law, which makes it possible to file suits worldwide for war crimes, genocide, torture and crimes against humanity.

In Norway, six attorneys have filed a lawsuit for human rights violations against Israel. They are seeking a European warrant for the arrest of senior Israel officials — including former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

In London, Daniel Machover and Kate Maynard, attorneys with the law firm of Hickman & Rose Solicitors, are waiting for one of the people responsible for the war on the Israeli side to travel abroad. If the official travels to a country where it is legally possible to file charges for war crimes, a local attorney will immediately petition in that country for the arrest of the Israeli official in question.

Four years ago, the two lawyers secured a warrant for the arrest of Doron Almog who, as head of the Israel Defense Forces’ Southern Command, ordered so-called targeted killings. Almog, after receiving advance warning, escaped arrest at London’s Heathrow Airport by refusing to leave his plane and flying back to Israel. Since then, senior Israeli military officials, and even some politicians, are no longer willing to risk travel to Britain.

Al-Alami is currently pinning his hopes on Spain’s National Court in Madrid, which has become something of an unofficial world court. The National Court issued the arrest warrant against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and it is now investigating allegations of detainee torture at Guantanamo. One of the court’s judges is investigating three Chinese cabinet ministers and other high-ranking Communist Party officials for their role in suppressing the Tibetan uprising in 2008.

And now the court is also investigating charges against the leadership of Israel, a democratic country and the only party to the war that can be sued. Meanwhile, Hamas remains unpunished for its acts of terror.

The basis for the Spanish court’s actions is a lawsuit filed in January against seven high-ranking Israeli military officials and politicians for the targeted killing of Hamas militia leader Sheik Salah Shehadeh in 2008, an attack that also claimed the lives of 14 civilians. The case could be suspended, but to prevent this from happening, Spanish attorney Gonzalo Boyé plans to expand the suit to include a total of 13 cases compiled by the PCHR. The cases, which involve disappearances, torture and killings, go back to 1983, although most are from January 2009. Boyé’s goal is to demonstrate that Israel systematically committed crimes, which is why the victims of the Gaza campaign are the focus of the lawsuit. “One case is a war crime,” says Boyé, “but 10 cases? That’s something else.” The new charges involve crimes against humanity. And if it becomes necessary, perhaps because the Spanish government, under pressure from abroad, is currently trying to limit the universal claims of its courts, Boyé is prepared to introduce a victim with ties to Spain: a Palestinian with relatives in Barcelona.

So far Israel has refused to cooperate with any systematic investigations. It rejects the International Criminal Court (ICC) and is not cooperating with Richard Goldstone, the head of a United Nations Human Rights Council fact-finding mission to Gaza. There have also been no criminal investigations into charges, brought by the Red Cross and human rights organizations, that the wounded could not be evacuated during the Gaza war, ambulances were shot at and civilians and refugees were attacked.

The only Israeli investigation to date addressed reports by soldiers claiming to have witnessed indiscriminate shootings of Palestinian civilians. After spending 11 days investigating the allegations, a commission concluded that the alleged killings were nothing but rumors. The Israeli army has now completed an internal review of the Gaza war, and has concluded that its soldiers made mistakes in only a “very small number of incidents.” These incidents “were unavoidable” and of the sort that “occur in all combat situations.”

Systematic war crimes, of the kind which Al-Alami accuses the Israelis of carrying out, are not easy to prove. The attorneys must demonstrate that the Israel military attacked civilians without reason, perhaps even deliberately. They must prove that these attacks were not part of the conduct of war against Hamas fighters, and that they were not simply cases of technical or human error, but the senseless taking of human life. But who is to decide whether such killings were accidental or intentional and if they show carelessness or cruelty?

On the other hand, no war has ever been as well-documented as the Gaza conflict, despite the Israeli ban on journalists. The Gaza Strip is small, witnesses are unable to leave, and evidence is preserved. Keeping this in mind, Iyad al-Alami and his team of eight attorneys, helped by dozens of volunteers, began questioning witnesses during the bombings. They collected shrapnel, took photographs, made videos and recorded the damage, often risking their lives to do so. “We had to collect evidence as quickly as possible before it was gone, before witnesses disappeared, victims died and the dead were buried,” says al- Alami.

In this way, they reconstructed the war, day-by-day and bomb-by-bomb. They compared the statements of eyewitnesses with the course of the war and with media reports. International weapons experts prepared analyses, and Palestinian doctors certified causes of death. The team even went to cemeteries to determine whether the graves matched the dead. “We have to be sure that everything is right,” says al-Alami.

The PCHR has recorded 936 cases, which represents the most comprehensive documentation of this war. They include alleged incidents of children shot at close range, women burned by white phosphorus shells and entire families buried under their houses.

Winning a case, just one, would be enough,” says al-Alami. “Then I would retire immediately, because I would have achieved everything.” Just one out of 936 cases. Al-Alami needs the perfect case.

The perfect case would have certain characteristics. The dead must be civilians. Credible witnesses are needed. Hamas fighters must not have been in the area, as they might have abused local residents as human shields. And the identities of those who gave the orders and those who did the killing must be clear.

Al-Alami refers again and again to the 13 blue ring binders stacked on his desk. Each binder represents one of 13 cases, and together the cases represent more than 100 dead. They are the worst cases, the cases for global justice, and Spanish attorney Gonzalo Boyé will use some as evidence to support his case of crimes against humanity. There is one ring binder for the 48 members of the Samuni family killed in the Gaza offensive, and another for the six members of the Abu Halima family burned by white phosphorus shells. There is one for the 11 members of the family of Hamas leader Nizar Rayan, whose house was destroyed by an Israeli air strike. There is one folder for those killed at the Arafat police academy. And there is one for the family of Amer al-Dayah.

Amer al-Dayah, 28, is the only member of a family of 23 who survived the bombardment of his parents’ house. The dead included his parents, three brothers, three sisters-in-law, two sisters and 12 nieces and nephews. Al-Alami shows some of the photos in the files. One depicts a child’s head in the rubble, eyes wide open, limbs severed. There was nothing left of nine of the victims, and al-Dayah found parts of his mother’s body as far as 100 meters (328 feet) away. “My family was simply gone,” says al-Dayah, a stout man with a boyish face.

The fate of his family is one of the first cases Gonzalo Boyé plans to submit in Madrid. Al-Dayah, the sole survivor, is pinning his hopes on the European court. He also knows that it could be years — if ever before a verdict is pronounced.

In its final report, the Israel army commented on the death of al- Dayah’s family. The pilot, the report reads, had erroneously received incorrect coordinates. Instead of the intended target, a warehouse, the bomb hit the al-Dayahs. In other words, it was a “professional mistake,” nothing more.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

9. Left-wing activists evacuated from tent built opposite outpost

Anat Shalev | YNet News

6 June 2009

IDF troops forcibly removed dozens of left-wing and Palestinian activists who were trying to erect a tent in South Mt. Hebron with a Palestinian family claiming ownership of the land. The family says that it owns the land near the Susya settlement on which an illegal outpost has been built. Settlers called the outpost Givat Hadegel.

The activists, members of Combatants for Peace, were successful in erecting their tent but were removed from the area a short time later by IDF troops alerted to the scene. A confrontation ensued between the two sides, culminating in the dismantling of the tent. The outpost still stands.

Ofra Ben Porat, a member of Combatants for Peace: “We came here in cooperation with Palestinian residents of Susya to protest the establishment of the outpost called Givat Hadegel, near Susya. This is a specific example of the reality in South Mt. Hebron. Week after week the settlers steal more and more lands, suffocating the Palestinians and their livelihoods, restricting their movement to the absurd point where their flocks can’t graze in the pastures they own. We came to the hill where the outpost was built and decided to build a tent on the Palestinians’ territory to assert their presence.”

Ben Porat accused the military of declaring areas claimed by the settlers as closed military zones and blocking entry to left-wing activists and Palestinians.

The soldiers cleared us, 200 people, aggressively. There’s no law, everything is done according to the soldiers’ will. We know that even filing a complaint with the police won’t accomplish anything. When Peace Now turned to the military about this outpost, they were told that this outpost isn’t recognized. The policy is deliberately fuzzy, the soldiers set the policies and there’s complete lawlessness when it comes to the Palestinians,” she said.

The IDF has yet to respond to the protestors claims.

Link: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3727046,00.html

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