June 8, 2009

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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March 27, 2009

“The Most Moral Army In The World”

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , at 12:41 pm by Alexia

Well, that’s what the Israeli Prime Minister claims: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull&cid=1149572658286

Althoug Ha’aretz thinks differently: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1072821.html

This is from the ISM Digest 15 March 2009.  With my emphasis.  You make up your own mind.

1. American citizen critically injured after being shot in the head by Israeli forces in Ni’lin

Tristan Anderson from California USA, 37 years old, has been taken to Israeli hospital Tel Hashomer, near Tel Aviv. Anderson was unconscious and bleeding heavily from the nose and mouth. He sustained a large hole in the right part of his forehead where he was struck by a tear gas canister. The heavy impact from the tear gas canister being shot directly at him, from about 60 meters, also caused severe damage to his right eye, which he may lose. Tristan underwent brain surgery in which part of his right frontal lobe and shattered bone fragments were removed.

“Tristan was shot by the new tear-gas canisters that can be shot up to 500m. I ran over as I saw someone had been shot, while the Israeli forces continued to fire tear-gas at us. When an ambulance came, the Israeli soldiers refused to allow the ambulance through the checkpoint just outside the village. After 5 minutes of arguing with the soldiers, the ambulance passed.” ­ Teah Lunqvist (Sweden) – International Solidarity Movement

The Israeli army began to use the Rutger rifle and a high velocity tear gas canister in December 2008. The black canister, labeled in Hebrew as “40mm bullet special/long range,” can shoot over 400 meters and weighs 130 grams without the propeller. The gas canister does not make a noise when fired or emit a smoke tail and has a propeller to accelerate the weapon mid-air. A combination of the canister’s high velocity and silence is extremely dangerous and has caused numerous injuries, including a Palestinian male whose leg was broken in January 2009.

Tristan Anderson was shot as Israeli forces attacked unarmed demonstrators, gathered against construction of the annexation wall through the village of Ni’lin’s land. Another resident from Ni’lin was shot in the leg with live ammunition.

Four Ni’lin residents have been killed during demonstrations against the confiscation of their land.

Ahmed Mousa (10) was shot in the forehead with live ammunition on 29th July 2008.  The following day, Yousef Amira(17) was shot twice with rubber-coated steel bullets, leaving him brain dead.  He died a week later on 4 August 2008. Arafat Rateb Khawaje (22), was the third Ni’lin resident to be killed by Israeli forces.  He was shot in the back with live ammunition on 28 December 2008.  That same day, Mohammed Khawaje (20), was shot in the head with live ammunition, leaving him brain dead.  He died three days in a Ramallah hospital.

Residents in the village of Ni’lin have been demonstrating against construction of the Apartheid Wall, deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004. Ni’lin will lose approximately 2500 dunums of agricultural land when the construction of the Wall is completed. Ni’lin was 57,000 dunums in 1948, reduced to 33,000 dunums in 1967, currently is 10,000 dunums and will be 7,500 dunums after the Wall is built.

Updates: Orly Levi, a spokeswoman at the Tel Hashomer hospital, tells Ha’aretz:

He’s in critical condition, anesthetized and on a ventilator and undergoing imaging tests,” She described Anderson’s condition as life- threatening.

Israeli activist Jonathan Pollack told Ynet: … the firing incident took place inside the village and not next to the fence. There were clashes in the earlier hours, but he wasn’t part of them. He didn’t throw stones and wasn’t standing next to the stone throwers.

There was really no reason to fire at them. The Dutch girl standing next to him was not hurt. It only injured him, like a bullet.

13 March: Anarchists Against the Wall reports on Tristan’s condition (volunteers with AWALLS were present when Tristan was injured and have been at the hospital to oversee his treatment):

The impact of the projectile caused numerous condensed fractures to Anderson’s forehead and right eye socket. During the operation part of his right frontal lobe had to be removed, as it was penetrated by bone fragments. A brain fluid leakage was sealed using a tendon from his thigh, and both his right eye and skin suffered extensive damage. The long term scope of all of Tristan’s injuries is yet unknown.

Gabrielle Silverman, Tristan’s girlfriend who was with him when he was shot, spoke to Bay City News and KTVU:

As of Saturday he was on full life support and heavily medicated at Tel Hashomer hospital in Tel Aviv, his girlfriend Gabrielle Silverman said today in a telephone interview.

“My understanding is that they are trying to let his brain rest as much as possible and do as little work as possible,” Silverman said.

Palestinian medics immediately came to their rescue and attempted to place Anderson onto a stretcher. But even then, Silverman said, “The army began firing tear gas directly at us … again and again and again.”

“Tear gas was falling at our feet as were loading him onto the stretcher,” Silverman said.

When the medics had successfully situated Anderson, an Israeli soldier stood in front of the ambulance and would not allow it to move, Silverman said.

Silverman detailed with clear agitation in her voice the circumstances that followed, as Anderson was “getting worse, vanishing further.”

She said they underwent another 15-minute holdup at the checkpoint, the reason being, she said, that “Palestinian ambulances are not allowed to enter into the state of Israel from the West Bank.”

“Tristan’s life was in serious danger. He was bleeding terribly everywhere from the head,” Silverman recounted. “We had to just sit and wait until eventually an Israeli ambulance from God knows where showed up and we had to change to another ambulance.”

Once they had arrived at the hospital, Anderson immediately underwent surgery, Silverman said. Surgeons removed a portion of the right frontal lobe of his brain and used a tendon from his leg to seal up the area to help prevent leakage. They also “tried to put his face back together,” Silverman said.

Video and photo: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5324

[ISM Updates] Digest March 22, 2009

Posted in ISM Updates tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:59 am by Alexia

Digest March 22, 2009
1) The Nation: Palestinian Revolution?
2) Speaking Truth to Power
3) IPS: Israelis Using ‘Excessive’ Force Against Protesters
4) Human rights workers to accompany farmers in Gaza
5) Six years without Rachel ­ We still demand justice
6) Boycott Israel Action
7) Streets remain closed as army continues demolition attempts in Beit Safafa
8 ) Israeli soldiers reoccupy ‘House of Contention’ in Hebron
9) Israeli army attack non-violent demonstration and steal cameras in Burin, Nablus region

 

1. The Nation: Palestinian Revolution?

Roane Carey | The Nation

On Friday [March 20, 2009] I went to the anti-separation wall demo in Ni’lin in the West Bank, the same village where International Solidarity Movement activist Tristan Anderson was critically wounded last week. Several hundred villagers were accompanied by Jewish Israeli activists (most with Anarchists Against the Wall) and ISMers, plus a few journalists like me. The IDF started firing tear gas at us even before we got close to the wall. The shebab (Palestinian youth) responded with stones, and the game was on: back and forth street battles, with the soldiers alternating between tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and occasional live ammunition, often fired by snipers, and the shebab hurling their stones by slingshot against the Israeli Goliath.

 The IDF often fires tear gas now with a high-velocity rifle that can be lethal, especially when they fire it straight at you rather than pointed up in the air. Pointed straight, it comes at you like a bullet. That’s what seriously wounded Anderson. I saw these projectiles coming very near us, and saw how dangerous they could be. Not to mention the live ammo they occasionally fired­but they fired live rounds only at the shebab, never at the Jews or internationals. After a few hours, the clashes died down. Six were injured, one critically. Me, I just coughed and teared up from the gas on occasion. (In simultaneous demos in the nearby village of Bi’lin, three were injured, including two Americans.)

 I mistakenly thought the army would be less aggressive on Friday, and not only because of the negative publicity surrounding the shooting of Anderson (the killing of Palestinians is of course routinely ignored in Western media; in Ni’lin alone, four villagers have been killed in the past eight months, with hundreds injured). The day before Friday’s march, revelations from Israeli veterans about war crimes they’d committed in the recent Gaza campaign made world headlines .

 As villagers prepared yesterday’s march, Jonathan Pollock, a veteran activist with AATW, showed me where Anderson was standing when he was shot and where the IDF soldier was standing who shot him, just up the hill. The soldier had fired a high-velocity tear-gas canister at close range­what looked to me like about fifty or sixty meters­directly at Anderson, hitting him in the head. It was hard to imagine the intention could have been anything other than to seriously maim or kill.

 The courage and steadfast resistance of the people of Ni’lin, and many other West Bank villages just like it that are fighting the wall’s illegal annexation of their land, is truly remarkable. Every week, for years now, West Bank Palestinians have stood up against the world’s fourth-most-powerful military machine, which shows no compunction about shooting unarmed demonstrators. This grassroots resistance­ organized by the villagers themselves, not Fatah or Hamas­has gotten little publicity from the world media , which seem to prefer stories about Hamas rockets and the image of Palestinians as terrorists.

 The village protests against the wall are inspiring, and not just because they’ve continued for so long, against such daunting odds. The villagers recognize the power and revolutionary potential of mass, unarmed resistance, and the shebab with their slingshots hearken back to the first intifada of the late 1980s and the “children of the stones,” when hundreds of thousands of men, women and children were directly involved in the struggle against the occupation. The Israeli government knows how difficult it is to suppress that kind of mass resistance, which is why it has used such brutality and provocation against the villagers. The army wants to shut this uprising down before it spreads, and would like nothing more than for the villagers to start using guns, as the IDF is certain to win a purely military confrontation. The other inspiration of this struggle is the courage and solidarity of the Israeli and ISM activists. They risk their lives day after day, and the villagers appreciate it. I saw signs in Ni’lin praising Tristan Anderson, who, just like Rachel Corrie six years ago, was willing to sacrifice his life for Palestinian justice.

 http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5512

 2. Speaking Truth to Power

 By Sharon Lock  (See blog: http:talestotell.wordpress.com)

 We were back at Faraheen this morning accompanying farmers again, eying the jeeps driving along the Israeli border while our farmers removed the irrigation pipes from one of the fields we have visited regularly. Since Mohammed was shot in the leg, the farmer here has decided to give up on this field, its convenient well, and its half- grown parsley crop – 200,000 shekels worth – in case of further injury or death of harvesters. It was a quiet morning, thank goodness.

 Tristan is conscious and was breathing on his own until he caught pneumonia. He has a long way to go and it’s not known what will be ahead – for sure, more surgery, including on his damaged right eye.

 A second time this week we spotted an Israeli gun boat traveling at 3 miles from the shoreline, all the way from near Deir al Balah to Gaza city (it kept pace with our shared taxi) as fishermen were out trying to get in a catch in, and inevitably the next day we heard that a fisherman had been shot; Deeb Al Ankaa who we understand to now be in Kamal Odwan hospital.

 I met a great Manchester guy this week, Dr Sohail of Medical International Surgical Team (MIST) who has come here to do good work with peoples’ bones, for example working with amputees who have had limbs removed at a high point, to enable the otherwise impossible attachment of prosthetic limbs (if Israel lets the prosthetics through the border, which apparently is another problem of the siege…).

 Thinking about bones, I immediately thought of Wafa. After wincing at the picture of her in hospital the day after soldiers shot out her kneecap, Dr Sohail said “I’m a kneecap man!” and told me a series of incomprehensible surgical things he might be able to do to give her back some movement. We rang her family today while standing in the Faraheen field (it’s a good time to get your phone-calling done) to say that Dr Sohail will see her in June if I go and take a photo of her medical records for him beforehand.

 Dr Sohail spoke of the several limitations medical people are under here – mostly no access to the latest equipment – if any gets in, no access to training on how to use it – and of course very little of the ongoing training amongst their international peers that people doing tricky surgical things need to have.

 In the last days there have been renewed calls for an International Criminal Court investigation into war crimes in Gaza, including for example “white flag killings” by Israeli soldiers. One of the big problems in the way is that during the attacks there were no forensic pathologists in Gaza trained to a level that would meet the requirements. (They are trying to send some people outside for training now, ready for the next time…) A second big problem is that when the International Criminal Court representatives tried to get in through Rafah to investigate the situation, Egypt refused to let them through, so they missed the February 8 deadline for submitting evidence.

 And it was never going to be easy. Here is an example. One of the Al Quds Red Crescent medics talked about getting through to some of the surviving Samouni kids trapped with dead adults, on the first Red Cross/Red Crescent evacuation permitted by Israel. He said the kids (who they found in circumstances that left some of the medics who reached them, traumatised themselves) said the adults had been shot, and they had covered over the bodies themselves.

 The medics knew it was important to try to take the adults’ bodies out, but the children were starving, dehydrated, and in a state of collapse. Since Israel had not permitted the medics to take ambulances, and several miles had to be covered, the medics found a donkey cart for the children. The Red Cross asked Israel to be allowed to take a donkey to pull the cart, but Israel said no.

 My medic friend says: “We put the children on the donkey cart and pulled it ourselves, hurrying to get out before 4pm which was the deadline for the evacuation. And there was no room for the bodies. So a lot of time passed before those bodies could be retrieved, and while we have the verbal testimony of the children, we don’t have an early medical assessment of the adults bodies.”

 I was called in to PressTV to give an interview today about what I witnessed myself, and it turned out this is because Israeli soldiers have themselves started to admit some of what went on, in the Israeli press today. This has been covered by the TimesOnline, and the International Middle East Media Centre. It includes an anonymous solider who ’says that he was told “we should kill everyone there (Gaza). Everyone there is a terrorist.”

 Photo: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5499

 3) IPS: Israelis Using ‘Excessive’ Force Against Protesters

 Posted on: March 20, 2009

 By Mel Frykberg | Inter-Press Service

 The critical wounding of a U.S. activist has highlighted the excessive use of force by Israeli forces.

 The activist, Tristan Anderson, 38, was shot in the head by Israeli soldiers during a protest against Israel’s separation barrier in the Palestinian West Bank last week. He remains in intensive care in Tel Hashomer Hospital in Tel Aviv.

 Anderson was one of approximately 400 international, Palestinian and Israeli protestors taking part in a demonstration in the village of Ni’ilin, near the central West Bank city Ramallah, when he was hit by a teargas canister.

 Since Israel’s devastating three-week war on Gaza, human rights organisations and activists have accused the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) of using indiscriminate violence and testing new weapons on unarmed protestors.

 The teargas canister which hit Anderson is a new variety being used by the IDF, and is particularly lethal if fired directly at protestors.

 The gas canister can travel over 400 metres. It does not make a noise when fired, or emit a smoke tail, and has a propeller for mid-air acceleration. A combination of velocity and silence increases the danger it poses.

 Witnesses gave testimonies to the media and to human rights organisations that they saw Israeli soldiers aiming at Anderson before they shot the canister from a distance of about 60 metres. It hit him directly on the forehead. The impact of the canister caused severe damage to the right eye, and Anderson has had to undergo critical brain surgery. Israeli soldiers continued to fire teargas canisters towards the wounded man and the people surrounding him as he lay critically injured on the ground and Palestinian medics tried to give him first aid.

 Later, a Palestinian ambulance trying to rush Anderson to hospital was blocked at least five minutes by Israeli soldiers. Only after other foreigners engaged the soldiers in heated debate did they allow the ambulance to pass.

 Anderson was then delayed another 15 minutes while an Israel ambulance was called, because Palestinian ambulances are not allowed to cross into Israeli territory without special permit. Jonathan Pollack, an Israeli activist who witnessed the event said that the soldiers had fired unnecessarily. “There was no way that their lives were even remotely in danger or that they might have been injured,” Pollack told IPS.

 Even if the IDF (Israeli defence forces) argument was true that they had been the targets of stones before they shot him, no stone could travel uphill for 60 metres and threaten them, and Anderson had definitely not been involved in any violent activity.”

 Pollack said the demonstration had finished and most of the demonstrators had left when the teargas was fired. “At the time of the shooting there were no confrontations, and Anderson was standing amongst about 10 remaining protestors just milling about.”

 Sarit Michaeli, spokeswoman for the Israeli rights group B’Tselem says that the IDF has at times used crowd control measures indiscriminately. “The teargas canister is not meant to be used as a weapon or fired directly at protestors but in an arc or at an angle,” she told IPS.

 We have many credible witnesses, and I myself have seen soldiers fire at people who are nowhere near and have nothing to do with any stone- throwing. And even when the soldiers have the right to shoot on grounds of self-defence, they are obliged to use the minimum of force and in a strictly proportionate way.”

 B’Tselem is concerned about the even more severe crowd control methods being employed by the IDF.

 An Israeli journalist was recently shot in the chest with a rubber- coated steel bullet (marble-sized metal ball covered in 0.5mm of rubber) when the soldiers knew full well the target was a journalist. Towards the end of last year the IDF began once again to use Ruger rifles, which use .22 calibre ammunition, against unarmed protestors.

 We have written a letter to the judge advocate general (JAG) protesting and questioning the use of Ruger rifles,” said Michaeli.

 According to B’Tselem, back in 2001 then JAG Major-General Menachem Finkelstein had ordered that use of the Ruger rifle be stopped. The decision followed the killing of several children in the Gaza Strip by Ruger rifle fire, and an order by the Central Command to cease using the rifle. The order came after it was found that soldiers often used the rifle against demonstrators without justification.

 Furthermore, Israeli soldiers are using live ammunition against protestors, contrary to IDF laws of engagement.

 Although Anderson’s case made international headlines because of his status as a foreigner, four Palestinians were killed by the IDF in the village of Ni’ilin last year.

 Ahmed Mousa, 10, was shot dead with live ammunition in July last year. The following day Yousef Amira, 17, was left brain-dead, and died a week later after he too had been shot in the head with rubber-coated steel bullets.

 Arafat Rateb Khawaje, 22, was shot in the back with live ammunition in December. The same day Mohammed Khawaje, 20, was also shot in the head with live ammunition. He died three days later.

 The villagers of Ni’ilin and their supporters have been protesting weekly against the confiscation of their land by Israeli authorities for expansion of nearby Israeli settlements, and against the separation barrier.

 The separation barrier, which slices through the village, divides Palestinian farmers from their land. It was deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004.

 http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5486

 4) Human rights workers to accompany farmers in Gaza

 8am, Thursday 19th March 2009: Seven international Human Rights Workers (HRWs) will be accompanying Palestinian farmers in Al Basan Kabira, Al Faraheen, East of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip.

 HRWs from Britain, Australia and Canada will be accompanying farmers on their lands 500m from the ‘Green Line’ as they attempt to retrieve irrigation pipes.

 Palestinian farmers have been repeatedly been shot at by Israeli forces while working on their agricultural lands within 1km from the Green Line’.

 On the 18th February 2009 international HRWs witnessed the shooting of 20 year old Mohammad Il Ibrahim by Israeli forces. Mohammad was shot in the leg as he was loading parsley onto a truck approximately 550m from the Green Line. The farmers and internationals had been working for two hours in full view of the Israeli forces and were leaving the area at the time of shooting.

 Mohammed al-Buraim is the fourth Palestinian farmer to be shot by Israeli forces in the ‘buffer zone’ in the last two months. Two of the four farmers shot died from their wounds. On the 18th January 2009, 24 year old Maher Abu Rajileh from the village of Khoza’a was killed by Israeli forces while working his agricultural lands 400m from the Green Line. On the 27th January, Anwar al Buraim was shot in the neck by Israeli forces.

 On 20 January, Israeli soldiers shot Waleed al-Astal (42) of Al Qarara (near Khan Younis) in his right foot.

 http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5482

 5) Six years without Rachel ­ We still demand justice

 16th March, 2009 | ISM Gaza Strip

 Every year we remember 16th March. We remember a kind, insightful, talented person committed to the plight of the Palestinian people, who genuinely had the courage of her convictions. Her name was Rachel Corrie. This year, the anniversary of her death comes in the wake of Israel’s massive assault on the Gaza Strip. We believe Rachel would want the world to remember the 1,400 Palestinians killed before she is remembered herself. Now, six long years after her death, the situation in Gaza is even more desperate than when Rachel bore witness to it. Six years on we still demand justice. We still demand that the international community hold the Israeli military and government responsible for the murder of Rachel and so many

 Palestinian civilians. We also demand that the US justice system holds responsible the Caterpillar company which continues to provide the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) with the military D-9 bulldozers, which killed not only Rachel but a number of Palestinians and have demolished thousands of Palestinian homes.

 It wasn’t possible for ISM volunteers to enter the Gaza Strip for several years due to the clampdown of the Erez crossing, so today was the first time ISM activists managed to commemorate the anniversary in Gaza itself. Some of the activists who volunteered with ISM Rafah in 2003 were able to compare the situation then and now. Different facets of occupation are manifest in 2009 – the oppressive wall along the Rafah border with Egypt has been cut down but has been replaced by siege and blockade; the brutality endured by the residents of Rafah’s border areas has now touched every single person throughout the Gaza Strip. From 2002 to 2005 over 3,000 Palestinian homes were bulldozed in Rafah. Now, in just 22 days, thousands more were destroyed throughout the entire Gaza Strip. 100,000 Palestinians have been left homeless by air missile strikes and shelling with many families now living in tents on the rubble of their homes.

 This is a highly poignant day for us, so to mark it in a positive and inspiring way, we joined five young Palestinian artists to create a mural on one of the few remaining sections of the Israeli wall on the Rafah-Egypt border strip. The same wall whose construction saw the creation of a buffer zone hundreds of metres deep, which gnawed away at vast swathes of residential neighbourhoods, including the one Rachel died trying to safeguard. The same wall from where fellow ISM activist, Tom Hurndall, was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier from a watchtower less than a month after Rachel was killed. The same wall that for years was intended to imprison Palestinian people. The same wall that was finally destroyed by the Palestinian people.

 As the artists began painting the wall, enlivening it with colourful symbols of defiance, Israeli F-16 fighter jets were heard flying over Rafah. Despite Israel’s announcement of a “unilateral ceasefire” on 18th January, the Israeli Air Force continues to unilaterally bomb Rafah and other areas in the Gaza Strip almost daily.. Most of the international journalists have left and the international community considers the war as being over, but Palestinian civilians are still being killed and injured by Israeli attacks on a regular basis. Fortunately, today we weren’t bombed by Israeli aircraft. Maybe because we were protected by the “Palestinian Air Force”. Palestinian children from the Lifemakers Center along with kids from the nearby al- Barazil refugee camp responded to the Israeli military flying F-16s by flying kites! 14 kites were flown in memory of the 14 hundred Palestinians killed recently in Gaza. Another kite sent our love to Rachel.

 This was also a symbolic action against the crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade. Gaza has been under siege for nearly two years now and can aptly be described as the world’s largest open-air prison with over 1.5 million people locked in by land, sea and air. After the Free Gaza Movement voyages challenged the blockade by sea last year, followed by the Viva Palestina convoy challenging the siege by land last week, Palestinian children symbolically broke the control of Gazan airspace today.

 A delegation from Code Pink also succeeded to gain entry recently and celebrated International Women’s Day with the courageous women of Gaza on 8th March. Rachel’s parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie joined them, commenting on their visit, “Despite the pain, we have once again felt privileged to enter briefly into the lives of Rachel’s Palestinian friends in Gaza. We are moved by their resilience and heartened by their song, dance, and laughter amidst the tears.”

 Maybe the soaring kites were seen by some of the internationals protesting today on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing, against the Egyptian authorities’ denial to allow them access to Gaza. They included Jordanian parliamentarians and Greek engineers aiming to assist reconstruction efforts in Gaza. However, all of this is not enough. We must call again on the international community to mobilise against the genocidal siege on Gaza.

 The Israeli Occupation Forces attempted to kill another American ISM activist, Tristan Anderson, three days ago in the stalwart West Bank village of Ni’lin. Tristan, our thoughts and prayers are with you. Just as today we stood at the destroyed wall of Rafah, commemorating the sacrifice of Rachel, one day we will stand together with Tristan at the destroyed wall of Ni’lin to commemorate the sacrifice of Ahmed Mousa (10), Yousef Amira (17), Arafat Rateb Khawaje (22) and Mohammed Khawaje (20), the four civilian martyrs of Ni’lin. Despite the murders of Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall, despite the attempted assassinations of Brian Avery and Tristan Anderson, despite the injuries, abductions, illegal deportations and denials of entry that we suffered, we are back. ISM is still here, and will continue to support Palestinian non-violent resistance.

 Today, six years after the martyrdom of Rachel; three days after the shooting of Tristan; two months after the Palestinians ousted the IOF from the Gaza Strip; 42 years after the occupation of West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip; 61 years after the Naqba; we still say free Palestine! End the occupation! Peace with justice and dignity! We should remember Rachel and all that she stood for. Similarly we must never let the world forget all the innocent Palestinian souls who perished without mercy. Their fate is already slipping from the collective memory of the international community, fading from the headlines of a fickle corporate media. It is time this manufactured catastrophe ends so that Rachel’s death and the deaths of countless Palestinians were not in vain.

 Photos: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5457

 6) Boycott Israel Action

 Posted on: March 18, 2009

 Palestine solidarity activists go boycott shopping in France and hold a teach-in on Israeli-made products. (Euro Palestine)

 Video: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5458

 7) Streets remain closed as army continues demolition attempts in Beit Safafa

 Ma’an News

 17 March 2009

 Israeli forces blocked off the Gilo road beside Bait Safafa Tuesday as soldiers prepared to destroy the sixth floor of a multi-family home in East Jerusalem.

 Demolition began in the late hours of the morning, with crews removing the tile roof of the building and knocking down walls on the Ar-Rakhma street building. The demolition stalled when demolition workers attempted to dismantle the elevator to the top floor. Eyewitnesses said several methods of destruction were attempted, but none have yet been successful.

 Earlier in the day armed soldiers blocked the entrances to both the Gilo and Beit Safafa streets, prohibiting press from entering the area and warning residents that if they leave with their cars they will not be permitted to re-enter the area. Others are able to enter the area but only on foot.

 Soldiers have prevented those who live in the building from coming within 200 meters of the site.

 Those who wish to remove personal items from their homes in advance of the demolition are being removed from the area.

 The six-story building belongs to Mahfoudh Abu Khalaf, who is reportedly refusing to leave the building, which houses 50 people, from several different families. Some were seen taking suitcases and furniture out of the building.

 The first three floors of the building were built with permits, but the fourth, fifth and sixth were denied permits and are considered illegal. The sixth floor is home to seven people.

 Israeli soldiers told locals that only the sixth floor will be destroyed Tuesday, though the other two have demolition orders pending. They have been assured that special equipment will be used to ensure that only the top floor of the building will be destroyed.

 Witnesses said it was likely the demolition would damage the other floors of the home.

 http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5446

 8 ) Israeli soldiers reoccupy ‘House of Contention’ in Hebron

 17th March 2009 | Ma’an News Agency

 Hebron ­ Ma’an ­ Three months after Israel’s army evacuated settlers from the Ar-Rajabi building that was confiscated two years earlier, soldiers have returned to reoccupy it.

 Dubbed the Hebron-area House of Contention, the building is owned by a Palestinian family before it was taken over by Jewish settlers. Enforcing a court order, the Israeli military evacuated the settlers by force in early December.

 But on Sunday, the home returned to the spotlight when Israel’s army announced it would turn the building into a military post rather than return it to its original Palestinian owners.

 Hebron Mayor Khaled Al-U’seili, said the Ar-Rajabi building “is owned by the family and should be returned to it.”

 Having a military post in the area would make the situation worse,” he said, “adding that Israel’s military presence in the area should be lessened.”

 Al-U’seili also noted that a recent agreement signed between the Palestinian Authority and Israel stipulated that Ash-Shuhada Street should be reopened for Palestinians and their vehicles in both directions.

 We previously had a decision from the Israeli High Court to open the street, yet a military decision was taken to close the street for the Palestinians,” he said.

 Israeli army commanders should consider opening the street in two directions, rather than what they are planning,” he said, adding restoring normal life to the Old City will not happen but by lifting all kinds of closures on the area.”

 He noted that there are currently 101 military checkpoints in the Hebron area alone. Imad Hamdan the administrative and financial manager for the Hebron Rehabilitation Committe said his organization petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court to prevent Israeli soldiers from using the Rajabi house.

 http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5444

 9) Israeli army attack non-violent demonstration and steal cameras in Burin, Nablus region

 On the 13th of March 2009, in Burin village (Nablus district), the Israeli army repressed a peaceful and non violent demonstration by shooting live ammunition and teargas canister aimed directly at protesters.

 The protesters decided to hold ground, before a group of twenty Israeli soldiers started to chase the demonstrators down to the village, beating up the Palestinians demonstrators, including a journalist, and international activists. They also set about illegally confiscating all the cameras and a video recorder that previously where being used to document the soldiers’ actions.

 Between seventy and a hundred people took part in the demonstration against the expansion of the illegal settlement in the village, who will result in the confiscation of much of the village’s lands.

 This is again a blatant example that Israel still refuse any kind of freedom of expression to the Palestinian people and try to prevent journalists or internationals to report and document about the illegal Israeli occupation.

 http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5442

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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”.

January 16, 2009

16 Jan 09 Free Gaza: The Spirit of Humanity

Posted in ISM Updates tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 4:41 pm by Alexia

As you may know, The Spirit of Humanity was surrounded by Israeli warships in international waters.  The Israeli navy threated to shoot these unarmed civillians unless they returned to port.  This of course is against international law, but that never stops Israel.

The boat has since returned to Cyprus.

If you want to see how far it got or track any future sailings, use this link  http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0T9vIzDuqKd7Vz8WiSrZ73HnzaASECQS1

The list of people onboard were as follows:

Trip # 7: Departure from Cyprus Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Klontzas, George – Captain (Greece)
Cpt. Klontzas is an experienced sailor and human rights activist. This will be his fifth trip to Gaza.

Stylianakis, Zacharias – Captain (Greece)
Greek Captain, qualified to captain cargo ships up to 2500 tons. 

Bolos, Nikolaos – Crew (Greece)
Born in Pireas. Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, University of Patray. Graduated Gemologist from Gemological Institute of America. Qualified skipper since 1989 (Panellenic offshore club). Runned personal enterprise in electroplating as an industrial chemist the last 12 years. In solidarity with Palestinian people human rights worker and member of Free Gaza. 

Karipidis, Yiannis – Crew (Greece)

Arraf, Huwaida – Crew (Palestine/USA)
Huwaida is a Palestinian-American, and also a citizen of Israel. She is a human rights activist and co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement. In 2007 she received her Juris Doctor from American University in Washington D.C. She was present on most of the Free Gaza voyages.

Pissias, Vangelis, University Professor – Crew (Greece)
Greek origin, citizenship and culture. Born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1947, living in the Greek milieu, in a large Greek community within a much larger International community. 

Muncie, Andrew, human rights worker and crew (Scotland)
Andrew Muncie volunteered with ISM Gaza Strip from August until mid-November 2008. He arrived to Gaza onboard the SS Liberty, one of the boats that made the first voyage of the Free Gaza movement. During his brief time in Gaza he accompanied fishermen on their trawling vessels and witnessed firsthand the Israeli occupation force Navy violate the cease-fire. He filmed the soldiers shooting at the trawling vessels and also blasting the boats with high-powered water cannons, causing severe damage to the vessels and sometimes injuries to the fishermen and ISM volunteers. He is returning to Gaza Strip to witness and document the current situation.

Caruso, Francesco, former Member of Parliament (Italy)
Activist of social centers on the south of Italy. Has been spokesman of anti-globalization movement in Italy. Member of Italian Parliament until April 2008. 

Gezelius, Mats, Journalist (Sweden/Finland)
Mats Gezelius is a freelance reporter based in Jerusalem. He has for the last 10 years covered the Middle East for Nordic Media. Gezelius is the Middle East correspondent for Hufuudstadsbladet and a stringer for the leading Swedish newspapers Alfonbladet and Svenska Dagbladet. He is a contributing editor to Finlands Radio & TV (YLE).

Giannopoulos, Nikos, human rights worker (Greece)
working in the Institute “Nikos Poulentzas” in the port of editions and member of the Network for the social and political rights. 

Kampani, Chalent, Orthopedic Surgeon (Greece)
Palestinian orthopaedic surgeon and traumatologist. 

Kanellakis, Yiannis, Journalist with Greek Mega TV (Greece)
As a reporter he has covered a lot of stories about the wars all over the world. Would like to believe that this war is the last one on this planet. Believes the International Community will do that very soon and will have peace and solidarity on the whole world. Hopes the democracies will help the stabilities of this peace. Freedom for the Palestinians and every people under occupation. 

Nuet I Pujaus, Joan Josep, Member of Parliament (Spain)
Break the siege that Israel imposes on the Gaza Strip and Palestine. To facilitate the arrival of medicines and food. No government can stop the humanitarian help for a country under war. Food and medicines are indispensable and above any war and conflict. 

Papachristopoulos, Athanasios, Surgeon (Greece)
Member of Humanistic Hellenic organization. Doctor of peace. Directs the dermatological department of Public Hospital Evaggelismos. Hase visited the following countries during WAR: 1999 Serbia, 2001 Afghanistan, 2003 Iraq, 2006 Puget Island (Thailand) (Kailac), 2006 Lebanon. 

Perukis, Petros (Greece)
Architect living in Greece. 

Prieto, Monica, Journalist with El Mundo (Spain)
Reporter working for EL MUNDO, the Spanish newspaper, since 1996. Was working in Russia, Chechnya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and Palestine, and Lebanon, among other countries. Currently correspondent for Middle East based in Beirut, Lebanon.

Robbins, Sonia, Dr., Surgeon (UK)
Consultant reconstructive and hand surgeon working in Middle East last four years. On the boat because of refusal by Israel for entry into Gaza for humanitarian medical work. 

Spartiatis, Theo (Greece)
Historical researcher. 

Synodinoo, Xaritatoo Melina, Journalist with Ethnos (Greece)
Journalist for the Greek daily newspaper “Ethios”, covering International news – war zones.

Tsatsis, Angelos, Journalist with MEGA TV (Greece)

Yvon, Xavier, Journalist with RTL Radio (France)

 

The only thing that is dangerous about these people is the idea they bring.  That people acting together can make a difference.

PCHR Condemns IOF Use of Unidentified Incinerating Bombs Against Civilians, Causing Horrific Burns

Posted in ISM Updates tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 11:27 am by Alexia

 
14th January  2009
 
 
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) utterly condemns the mass killing of civilians by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) during its ongoing military operation in the Gaza Strip. The current death toll stands at 983, including at least 673 civilians, of whom approximately 225 are children. In addition to the rising civilian death toll, the Centre is also gravely concerned about IOF use of unidentified incinerating bombs that are causing horrific burns to civilians across the Gaza Strip, and forcing doctors to perform amputations on some civilian victims. The Centre is demanding an immediate investigation into IOF use of these weapons by international health experts.  
 
Hospitals across the Gaza Strip have reported increasing numbers of civilians with serious burns being admitted for emergency treatment, and the scale of injuries indicates that IOF are using these unidentified incinerating bombs to target civilians across the Gaza Strip. For example, on 10 January, 2009, residents of Khuza’a village, east of Khan Yunis, reported being attacked by IOF artillery shells which exploded into flames, dispersing shrapnel and dense white smoke that caused skin burns, suffocation, spasms and fainting. At least one hundred local civilians were injured by this IOF attack, including medical personnel who arrived at the scene. Civilians were subsequently admitted to hospitals in Khan Yunis, suffering from breathing difficulties and severe pains in their eyes.
 
As part of its ongoing investigation into the constituents, and effects, of these unidentified IOF weapons, PCHR has interviewed Dr Nafez Abu Shaban, Head of the Burns Unit at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza city, the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip.
 
Dr Abu Shaban told the Centre: “We are now receiving patients with burns that are so extreme, the patients’ tissue and muscles have been destroyed. We have been forced to amputate some patients’ limbs as a result. We have carried out six double leg amputation operations on patients who had suffered critical burns of this nature. Three of the patients died after surgery.”
 
Dr Abu Shaban also told the Centre that some of the burn victims are suffering serious lacerations, and internal bleeding. “We do not fully understand why some of the injured are bleeding internally, because we can find no X-ray evidence of foreign objects inside their bodies” he said. “Our great concern is that we do not know the full consequences of these injuries. We can only presume the victims, who are all civilians, have been subjected to attack by chemical weapons.”
 
He also stated that, “Our patients [in the burns unit] ask us what exactly has happened to them, and we do not know what to tell them. I have never seen injuries like this before. We need international health organizations to send us medical specialists immediately who can assist us in responding to injuries from chemical weapons.”  
 
PCHR is gravely concerned that the IOF may be using white phosphorous against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip as part of its continuing military operation across Gaza. White phosphorus is a flammable chemical typically used in military operations for signalling, screening and incendiary purposes. When exposed to air, it spontaneously ignites and will continue to burn until either all the [white phosphorous] fragments are consumed, or the element itself is deprived of oxygen. White phosphorus can burn right down to the human bone. The chemical composition of this weapon – which causes extreme second and third degree chemical burn injuries – also makes it exceptionally difficult to treat.
 
The use of white phosphorous in densely populated areas violates customary international law provisions relating to the principle of distinction and the precautions necessary in attack. Customary international law explicitly requires that all feasible precautions in the choice of means and methods of warfare be taken, in order to avoid or minimize disproportionate injury or loss of life among the civilian population. It also requires that an attacker do everything possible to assess whether an attack may be expected to cause disproportionate loss of life or injury, and defines an indiscriminate attack as one which employs a method or means of combat, the effects of which cannot be limited as required by international humanitarian law. Indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks are grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, and as such constitute war crimes. IOF use of white phosphorus in the current context would violate all of these principles.
 
PCHR notes that international law not only prohibits specific weapons, but also the manner in which these weapons are used, and the manner in which hostilities are conducted.

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$B!l(B 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

———-

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

 ———-

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

———-

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

 ———-

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

 ———-

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

———-

More Resources on Gaza:

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

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

–~–~———~–~—-~————~——-~–~—-~

 PLEASE FORWARD THIS UPDATE WIDELY

DONATE @ http://palsolidarity.org/donate WEBSITE: http://palsolidarity.org

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

 TWITTER: http://twitter.com/ismpalestine

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

15 Jan 09: ISM Gaza Report

Posted in ISM Updates tagged , , , , , , at 12:18 am by Alexia

“It was the hardest day of our lives”
Wednesday 14th January, 2009
 
In an escalation of the ground offensive in the south of the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces terrorised the population of Khoza’a, a small rural community east of Khan Younis. They entered the area at about 3.00am on the morning of Tuesday 13th January in an incursion lasting until Tuesday evening. This follows heavy missile strikes on Khoza’a in recent days, notably on Saturday 10th January.
 
According to a local municipality official, approximately 50 homes were bulldozed along with farmland, olive and citrus groves. The scent of lemons could faintly be determined whilst navigating the wreckage, emanating from so many mangled trees. A family explained how their home was demolished with them inside it. They sheltered in the basement as the upper storeys were destroyed. Later they realised the basement itself was being attacked and narrowly missed being crushed to death by escaping through a small hole in the debris.
 
Iman Al-Najar was with her family in their home when military D-9 bulldozers began to demolish it. They managed to escape and Iman then encouraged some of her neighbours to try to leave the vicinity. The group of women were instructed by Israeli soldiers to leave by a particular street. They had children with them and carried white flags, yet when they reached the street Israeli special forces concealed in a building opened fire on them and shot 50 year-old Rowhiya Al-Najar. The other women desperately tried to rescue her but the gunfire was too heavy and they had to flee for their lives. An ambulance was also prevented from reaching her and she bled to death in the street.
 
Meanwhile Iman and about 200 other residents whose homes had been destroyed had gathered near her uncle’s house which was protecting them to some degree from the shooting. However, this area in turn was also attacked. Iman described how the bulldozers began piling debris up around them, effectively creating a giant hole that they were standing in. They were literally about to be buried alive. By some miracle they managed to also escape from this situation by crawling on their hands and knees for about 150 metres. It was extremely difficult for them to move, especially with the injured and the elderly.
 
The terrified residents then sought sanctuary at a local UNRWA school. But when they got there missiles were being fired around it and they had to retreat. Finally they managed to leave the area entirely and walked several kilometres to where friends were able to pick them up. Iman’s 14 year-old brother Mohammed was missing for 12 hours and she feared he was dead. He had been detained by soldiers in a house along with a neighbour who had begged to be let out to find her children but was not allowed to do so. When the soldiers had shot Rowhiya Al-Najar, Mohammed said they had been singing and dancing and forced him to do the same. When he refused, they threatened to shoot him too.
 
“It was the hardest day of our lives,” repeated Iman over and over again. She had nothing left in the world but the clothes she was standing up in, but under the circumstances she was lucky to escape with her life. As in so many other parts of the Gaza Strip, the atrocities committed against civilians in Khoza’a amount to war crimes.
 
Missiles believed to contain white phosphor were deployed by the Israeli military during this attack. ISM volunteers photographed a fist-sized lump of flaming material found on the ground next to a burnt-out home. It was still burning from the previous day. The only way to extinguish it was to bury it, but it would instantly re-ignite if uncovered. It was giving off a thick grey smoke with a foul stench. Doctors at the Al Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, which received 50 casualties that day from Khoza’a, described serious chemical burns and victims being covered in a white powder which continued to burn them. Many people were also suffering from serious breathing difficulties after inhaling smoke emitted by this weapon.
 
Dr. Ahmed Almi, a member of the delegation of Egyptian doctors who finally gained entry to the strip to support Gazan hospitals during the crisis, outlined some of the most serious cases. Four of them died in the hospital after doctors battled to save them. He commented that some of the injuries were so horrific they must have been inflicted by abnormal munitions. He gave the example of a man who had been shot and sustained a small entry wound but massive exit wound, 40-50 cm wide. 13 people were killed overall during this incursion according to medical sources.
 
Before the Israeli war on Gaza began, the ISM team here had been working with the farming community in Khoza’a, accompanying local farmers as they succeeded to access their land to plant winter wheat. The IOF had prevented them from reaching their fields, in some cases for over five years. Israeli soldiers shot at them, even during the ceasefire. The same ceasefire which Israel claims was broken by Palestinians.
 
 
Footage from Al Nasser Hospital
 
Photos from Khoza’a and Al Nasser Hospital
 

January 15, 2009

You’ve got to love the BBC and their “unbiased” reporting

Posted in ! My Articles tagged , , , , , , at 2:24 pm by Alexia

This has just been published on the BBC website.  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7829912.stm
I’ll quote some salient points

Speaking to reporters on the Israel-Gaza border, Unrwa spokesman Christopher Gunness said three of the agency’s employees were hurt in the attack.
He said the compound was hit by what Unrwa believed to be three white phosphorus shells, which are incendiary weapons used as a smoke screen.

About 700 people were still sheltering in the compound, he said, and he was particularly concerned about the proximity of the fire to five full fuel tanks.
 
Asked whether he was sure the attack had been carried out by Israel, he said he was not aware of Hamas having access to white phosphorus.

This is despite calls for Israel to be charged with war crimes over its use of white phosphorous shells in Gaza.
There’s a reason why the UN person is so concerned:  http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/01/10/israel-stop-unlawful-use-white-phosphorus-gaza

However, white phosphorus has a significant, incidental, incendiary effect that can severely burn people and set structures, fields, and other civilian objects in the vicinity on fire. The potential for harm to civilians is magnified by Gaza’s high population density, among the highest in the world.
“White phosphorous can burn down houses and cause horrific burns when it touches the skin,” said Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch. “Israel should not use it in Gaza’s densely populated areas.”

This reminds me of the beginning of the occupation of Iraq when Rageh Omar was reporting from the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad and the US started shelling it.  The US were very well aware of the hotel being used by news agencies and I don’t think they’ve ever managed to come up with a convincing excuse.
But I digress.  Rageh was live on air when it started and he stated it was the americans doing the firing.  The presenter back in London refused to accept what Rageh said and insisted during the interview that he was wrong. 
Rageh no longer works for the BBC.  I don’t blame him.
 

January 9, 2009

Palestine Latest: 9 January 2009

Posted in General Gaza Updates tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:19 pm by Alexia

To my friends in Gaza, our thoughts are with you in this terrible time.  We can’t be there with you, but we’re doing what we can to try and stop this. Please stay strong.

To everyone else, please support us in our quest to end this invasion of Gaza and help us bring peace and justice to the Palestinians.

From the latest Palestine Solidarity Campaign email

The depravity with which the Israeli Government is inflicting death on the people of Gaza reached a new low today as news began to leak out of yet another Israeli war crime in the town of Zeitoun.


According to the United Nations the events in a second shelter in the town represents ‘one of the gravest events since the beginning of the offensive.’


Eyewitness accounts obtained by the UN describe how, on the 4th January, the IDF rounded up 110 people, half of them children and moved them into a single story home. The IDF told the people they were being led to their safety.


Then 24 hours later the IDF bombed the shelter killing 30 people. According to the Red Cross and the UN, the IDF’s refusal to allow humanitarian access to the area for four days was because of this incident.


Following this incident the Red Cross issued a statement on the deaths of children killed by the Israeli Army in which they said that there had been a 250% increase in deaths to children since the ground invasion.


Read the BBC report here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7819492.stm

Here’s the latest update from the Red Cross

http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/htmlall/palestine-update-050109?opendocument

Israel allowed the ICRC to get blood supplies (but don’t say how much) and 1000 tetanus injections into Gaza.  The injections are given to the wounded to help reduce the chance of infection.  Only 1000 when there are over 3000 known wounded already.  A pittance, just crumbs from the Israeli table.

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If you live in the UK, the PSC have set up a web page with a pre written letter that they will use to forward to your MP.  It literally takes a couple of minutes and will exert pressure on them to act.  It calls on them to pressure the Government into taking real action that will force Israel to end its invasion and siege on Gaza.

All you have to do is visit http://www.iparl.com/lobby-psc/widget.html and put in your postcode – easy as that.

Please take the time to do this, small actions like this can make a difference.

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Don’t forget there are demonstrations in London and Edinburgh tomorrow.  Last Saturday’s had over 60,000 people there.

NATIONAL DEMONSTRATION: SATURDAY 10 JANUARY
STOP THE MASSACRE : ISRAEL OUT OF GAZA
ASSEMBLE 12.30PM
SPEAKERS CORNER,HYDE PARK   (Nearest tube Marble Arch)
MARCH TO ISRAELI EMBASSY High St Kensington, London W8

MARCH ROUTE: Speakers Corner at Hyde Park, Bayswater, Notting  Hill Gate, left into Kensington Church Street, left into Kensington High Street, past the Israeli Embassy. There will  be rallies with speakers at Speakers Corner and at the end of  the march.

ALL SCOTLAND DEMONSTRATION 10 JANUARY

STOP THE MASSACRE: ISRAEL OUT OF GAZA

DEMONSTRATION IN EDINBURGH
SATURDAY 10 JANUARY 2009
ASSEMBLE 12:30PM
EAST MARKET STREET   Behind Edinburgh Waverley train station
MARCH THROUGH CITY CENTRE TO US CONSULATE

Bring in-date medicine for Gaza, and spare shoes.

Supported by Stop the War Scotland, Glasgow and Edinburgh,  Pauline McNeil MSP, Sandra White MSP, Muslim Association of  Britain, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Glasgow Palestine Human Rights Campaign, Lebanese Community    Scotland, Scottish Afghan Society, Scottish Islamic  Foundation.