Palestinian Prisoners’ Day: May the eyes of the coward never rest

by Julie Webb-Pullman

DSC05112 (300 x 400)

Thousands of people on Thursday converged on Soraya, site of the Gaza Central prison destroyed during the November 2012 Israeli offensive, and now the site to celebrate the indomitable spirit of Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

April 17th was designated Palestinian Political Prisoners’ Day by the Palestinian National Council in 1974. It also marks the assassinations of two Palestinian political leaders – Fateh leader Khalil Al Wazir on 16 April 1988 and Dr Abdul-Aziz Al Rantisi of Hamas on 17 April 2004.

Members of all factions and none gathered to hear speeches, view exhibits of handcrafts and photos produced by prisoners in Israeli jails, and later to march on the International Committee for the Red Cross.

Tawfiq Abu Naim, head of the National prisoners’ Committee said that one of today’s messages to the world is to demand that Israel release the fourth group of prisoners, as agreed in the latest round of peace negotiations. Read more »

Vittorio Arrigoni Commemoration in Gaza: “I am a diamond, and you cannot break me.”

By Julie Webb-Pullman

On April 15 a group of Palestinians, Italians, and an assortment of other nationalities bussed down to Khan Younis to honour Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian activist murdered on this day in Gaza three years ago. Vik, as he was popularly known, was widely loved and respected by the farmers and fishermen whom he accompanied to deter Israeli attacks against them during their work, as well as by the many he helped during Operation Cast Lead.

Arriving at the home of a farmer who worked with Vik, the group was led to a memorial erected in his honour in the front garden of the farmhouse, surrounded with palms and plants, and adorned with posters and Palestinian flags.

Memorial to Vittorio Arrigoni on Khan Younis farm

Memorial to Vittorio Arrigoni on Khan Younis farm

Read more »

Spring is sprung in Gaza

by Julie Webb-Pullman

Red! Yellow! Orange! Purple! Blue! Not just colours of the rainbow, but also the vibrant flora and fauna on display in Gaza City for the past week in the spring festival at Al Jundy square.

Birds met rabbits met fish met monkeys – creatures from the four corners of the world displayed in a celebration of life surrounded by an only slightly less-diverse selection of trees, plants, succulents, and flowers.

Day and night Palestinians have thronged the square to gaze upon things they could never otherwise hope to see from their besieged open-air prison.

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Khudari: Poverty rate in Gaza over 50%

Jamal Al-Khudari

Jamal Al-Khudari

MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the Popular Committee Against the Siege, said on Wednesday that the poverty and unemployment rates in Gaza had surpassed 50% due to the Israeli blockade that has entered its 8th consecutive year.

Khudari added that more than one million citizens in Gaza Strip depend on aid relief to survive, and the per capita income does not exceed two dollars a day.

He stressed that the humanitarian situation in Gaza has reached horrrific proportions, and is affecting all aspects of life.

The harsh economic and humanitarian conditions due to the Israeli blockade have been exacerbated by the Egyptian closure of all border tunnels, which used to provide the beleaguered Strip with a portion of its needs.

The MP called on the international community to immediately apply pressure for lifting the siege on Gaza, to avoid further deterioration of the already-critical humanitarian conditions.

Renewed Administrative Detention of MP El Natsha denounced

Muhammad Jamal El Natsha, MP

Muhammad Jamal El Natsha, MP

PRESS RELEASE

The International Campaign for Releasing the Abducted MPs denounces the third renewal of the administrative detention of Palestinian Legislative Council member Muhammad Jamal El Natsha.

El Natsha, a 55 year old from Hebron city, had already spent over 17 years in Israeli prisons before his re-abduction on 27 March 2013, and suffers from ill-health, including chronic chest and kidney problems.

The Campaign considers that the policy of renewing administrative detention against MPs breaches both humanitarian and legal norms.

The Campaign points out that nine MPs belonging to the Change and Reform parliamentary bloc are currently subjected to this policy. Three of them, Jaber El Foqahaa, Muhammad El Ramahi, and Yaser Mansour have also had their administrative detention renewed.

Renewal of the administrative detention of MPs is a flagrant violation of the basic rules of democracy and international law.

The International Campaign holds the Israeli authorities accountable for the life of El Natsha, given his deteriorating health, and calls for urgent steps to be taken by all international legal, parliamentary and political institutions to immediately end this policy, and ensure his immediate release.


The International Campaign For Freeing PLC Members
Email:- FreePLC2009@gmail.com

The International Campaign condemns blocking of European Fact-Finding Visit to Israeli prisons

Protest demanding end to MPs' detention

Protest demanding end to MPs’ detention

PRESS RELEASE

The International Campaign for Releasing Abducted MPs strongly denounces the Israeli authorities for preventing a fact-finding committee comprised of members of the European Parliament from visiting Israeli prisons to investigate the situation of abducted members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and other Palestinian prisoners.

The visit followed a request from the International Campaign to the European Parliament to investigate and report on the conditions faced by MPs inside Israeli jails.

The European Parliament decided to send a fact-finding committee, which arrived in Israel on 19 March 2014. However they received no co-operation whatsoever from the Israeli occupation authorities.

The Campaign considers this to be unethical behavior towards parliamentarians protected by parliamentary immunity, and points out that it is yet another example of the ongoing violations suffered by the Palestinian lawmakers, from persecution to abduction and deportation.

11 Palestinians MPs are still behind Israeli bars, being subjected to oppressive and illegal practices.

The Campaign calls for parliamentary and human rights organizations internationally to break the silence on the abduction and detention of Palestinian MPs, and to hold Israel accountable for the crimes it is committing against them, and other Palestinian prisoners.

The International Campaign For Freeing PLC Members
Email: FreePLC2009@gmail.com

Gaza Government Weekly Statement calls for action on Al Aqsa, siege, Rafah closure

PRESS RELEASE

The Palestinian Government in Gaza held its weekly meeting No (334) on Tuesday, March 25, 2014, and concluded with the following statement:

Jewish invasions of Al Aqsa
The Palestinian Government denounces the ongoing invasions of Al-Aqsa Mosque by Jewish settlers, noting 2,500 extremists have entered the mosque since the beginning of 2014. The government calls on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank to defend the holy site by maintaining a continual presence there.

Colonial Settlement
The Palestinian Government denounces the continued and accelerated pace of settlement construction, and the Judaization of the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, the rate of which increased by 123% in 2013. The government considers that continuing negotiations with the occupation will provide a cover for Israeli authority to build more settlement houses, and calls for the Palestinian Authority to withdraw from the ‘peace process.’ Read more »

2013 worst year ever, says Raji Sourani at PCHR Annual Report launch

Presenting the PCHR 2013 Annual Report in Gaza

Presenting the PCHR 2013 Annual Report in Gaza

PRESS RELEASE

Ref: 14/2014
Date: 25 March 2014

On Tuesday, 25 March 2014, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) announced the publication of its 2013 Annual Report in the presence of decision-makers, politicians and representatives of civil society and youth organizations. This report is the seventeenth of its kind as PCHR has published annual reports, which review the human rights situation throughout the year, since 1997.

The ceremony was opened with a speech by Dr. Riad al-Zanoun, Chairman of PCHR’s Board of Directors. Dr. al-Zanoun highlighted PCHR’s efforts to monitor and document violations of human rights. He stressed the importance of joint work to promote respect for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). Read more »

“Grave violations and aggression by Israel against the Palestinian people continued in a culture of impunity,” says Human Rights Council

On 24 March The Human Rights Council held a general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other Occupied Arab Territories, in a meeting at which four reports on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories were presented.

The Secretary-General’s report again confirmed continued flagrant violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said that the reports highlighted the issue of settlements, which, together with settler violence, were at the core of many of the human rights violations in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Despite repeated calls on Israel to cease settlement activity, their construction continued with devastating consequences for Palestinian civilians. Ms. Pillay also expressed deep concern at the situation in Gaza. Read more »

Hamas: Resistance is the only path for a free Palestine

Gaza PM & Deputy Chief of Hamas politburo Ismail Haniyeh addresses rally honouring Hamas Founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin

Gaza PM & Deputy Chief of Hamas politburo Ismail Haniyeh addresses rally honouring Hamas Founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin

Gaza, ALRAY – Prime Minister and Deputy Chief of Hamas Politburo Ismail Haniyeh on Sunday said the movement does not and will never pursue power, but is aimed at liberation of the ‘Homeland,’ in a speech to a well-attended festival ‘Loyalty and Adherence on Leader Martyrs Anniversary’ organized by Hamas on the 10th anniversary of the death of its founder Ahmed Yassin, and leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi.

Hamas Not Power-Seeker

“Take all the [political] powers and positions and keep the homeland; do not give up Jerusalem; do not give up the right of return,” Haniyeh said, referring to the Fatah movement, a hardcore supporter of the so called ‘peace process.’ Read more »

ICJ should assess legal status of prolonged Israeli occupation of Palestine, says UN rights expert

PRESS RELEASE

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner forHuman Rights

GENEVA (21 March 2014) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on occupied Palestine, Richard Falk, today called for an assessment by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legal status of the prolonged Israeli occupation of Palestine, and allegations that it has legally unacceptable characteristics of ‘colonialism’, ‘apartheid’ and ‘ethnic cleansing.’ Read more »

Today is Mothers’ Day in Gaza

by Julie Webb-Pullman

What does this mother in Gaza do on Mothers’ Day?

Mother in Khan Younis

She wakes to pitch blackness, because there is no electricity to light the room.

She fumbles her way by torch or candlelight (if there is not too much wind to blow it out) to the bathroom.

Is she in luck this-morning? Did the electricity come on during the night and power the pump so that there is water in the roof-top tank to wash with? Even if it is so icy-cold and salty that it stings her eyes almost as much as the teargas that her sisters in the West Bank and Jerusalem must bear? Read more »

Rafah Crossing Closed for 38-Consecutive-Days

PRESS RELEASE
Gaza Ministry of the Interior

18/03/2014

Closure of the Rafah Border Crossing by Egyptian authorities for 38-consecutive-days has reached crisis proportions, and is causing intolerable suffering for travelers across the Gaza Strip.

Since the 30 June 2013 events in Egypt the crossing has been open for only 88 days, and in 2014, for 9 days only. Read more »

EURO-MID: Israeli army increases detentions of Palestinian children by 80%

PRESS RELEASE
EURO-MID OBSERVER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Geneva

A report issued on March 17th by the Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights points out that the Israeli forces have detained 740 Palestinian children during the first two months of 2014, 465 of them remained in custody for at least one week.

The Euro-Mid Observer, an independent human rights organization based in Geneva, states that approximately 200 Palestinian minors were detained monthly on average by the Israeli forces during 2013, and 197 on average during 2012, according to data published by Defense for Children International (DCI) and Israel Prison Service. Read more »

Pride of place for locally-made rocket

Gaza, ALRAY

The Al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza said it has succeeded in developing crude rockets, and knows many weak points of the Israeli military.

The statement of the armed wing of Hamas came during the inauguration of the ‘Martyr Ibrahim al-Maqadmah’ square in northern Gaza strip.

M75 honours Ibrahim al-Maqadmah (Photo by Alray) Read more »

Tale of Two Cities: Ramallah, Gaza and the Identity Crisis

Column – Ramzy Baroud

The distance between Gaza and Ramallah in sheer miles is hardly significant. But in actuality, both cities represent two different political realities, with inescapable cultural and socioeconomic dimensions. Their geopolitical horizons are vastly different as well – Gaza is situated within its immediate Arab surroundings and turmoil, while Ramallah is westernized in too many aspects to count. In recent years, the gap has widened like never before.

Of course, Gaza and Ramallah were always, in some ways, unalike. Demographics, size, topography and geographic proximity to Arab countries with different political priorities have always made them separate and distinctive. But the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 had decisively removed Ramallah from its Jordanian element, and Gaza from its Egyptian political milieu. Although they are both Palestinian towns, decades of spinning in the background of collective Arab affairs created a distance that at times felt too great to condense. The Israeli occupation however revitalized that common Palestinian experience of a shared struggle against a common enemy. Despite its many shortcomings, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) eventually filled the gap of leadership, thus unifying the ranks of Palestinians in Ramallah, Gaza, and the Palestinian Diaspora.   Read more »

Gordon Campbell on the selective morality towards Syria

Column – Gordon Campbell

As Prime Minister John Key said at yesterday’s post-Cabinet press conference, the briefings on Syria and the exchanges of views New Zealand has been engaged in with its allies has indicated to him that “regime change” (i.e., the toppling of the Assad regime) is not the purpose of the military action that is currently being contemplated – whether that be a multilateral military effort condoned by the UN Security Council or a unilateral strike led by the United States with the direct (or tacit) support of some of its allies. No, Key said, he did not think New Zealand could be counted among the list of such allies, at this stage.

Syria has never agreed to the main international treaty against chemical weapons. It happens to be one of the few countries (there are only five: Angola, North Korea, South Sudan and Egypt are the others) that have not signed and do not accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention. The reason for this is explained in this excellent and detailed history of how Syria came to develop chemical weapons in the first placeRead more »

Oslo Dead but Still Matters: Abbas’s Village Leagues and Palestinian Silence

Column – Ramzy Baroud

Suppose several armored vehicles belonging to a branch of the Palestinian Authority raided an Israeli border village at the eve of a new round of peace negotiations. One can picture PA President Mahmoud Abbas defending the killings, stating that the attack was made in the cause of protecting the security of the Palestinian public. Would the Israeli delegation return to the talks with handshakes and smiles?

The answer is an obvious no. Yet the Palestinian delegation did return to real recently renewed peace talks after Israeli forces’ raided a refugee camp in north Jerusalem on August 26, killing three. This was not the only lethal Israeli attack to take place during “peace talks”, and it will not likely be the last.  Read more »

Palestine Strongly Rejects Israeli Attempts to Impose Israel’s Education System on Palestinian Schools in Occupied East Jerusalem

Press Release – Palestinian Mission

PLO Executive Committee Member and Chief Palestinian Negotiator Dr. Saeb Erekat condemned the Israeli attempt to impose its own educational system on Palestinian schools in Palestine’s Capital, East Jerusalem:

“Israel has been trying to change the status quo of Jerusalem since its occupation in 1967. In addition to policies of settlement construction and forced displacement, Israel has tried, on several occasions, to impose its own educational curriculum on Palestinian schools.  Read more »

Hamad: Alternatives to Rafah Crossing Not Accepted

Press Release – Alray Media Agency

Gaza, Alray – Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ghazi Hamad has held a press conference on Wednesday to warn of the real humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip due to the closure of the Rafah crossing until further notice.

He said the government has been in continuous contact with Egypt’s General Intelligence since the outset of the crisis following the June 30 events.  Read more »