30 International Aid Agencies: “We must not fail in Gaza.”

Joint Statement
30 International Aid Agencies

Latuff (400 x 328)

26 February 2015

Six months have passed since a ceasefire on 26 August 2014 ended over seven weeks of fighting between Israeli
forces and Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip. As UN agencies and international NGOs operating in Gaza, we are alarmed by the limited progress in rebuilding the lives of those affected and tackling the root causes of the conflict.

The Israeli-imposed blockade continues, the political process, along with the economy, are paralyzed, and living conditions have worsened.

Reconstruction and repairs to the tens of thousands of homes, hospitals, and schools damaged or destroyed in the fighting has been woefully slow. Sporadic rocket fire from Palestinian armed groups has resumed. Overall, the lack of progress has deepened levels of desperation and frustration among the population, more than two
thirds of whom are Palestine refugees. Read more »

PFLP denounces “treacherous” gas deal and demands immediate cancellation

PRESS RELEASE
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

gasdeal (400 x 209)

“The signing of this gas deal is a treacherous stab in the back and a disgrace to the Palestinian people and their growing movement to boycott the Zionist occupation. It is an unforgivable crime and a manifestation of financial corruption, the waste of public money, and the squandering of the capabilities of the Palestinian people,” said Comrade Ahmad Abu Saud, member of the Central Committee of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He strongly condemned the Palestinian Authority’s $1.2 billion deal to import gas from the Zionist entity for a 20 year period, calling for its immediate cancellation.

“We are still living with the heavy consequences and negative effects on the Palestinian economy and living situation, mired in the mud of poverty, unemployment and division” caused by the Paris economic agreement between the PA and Israel, said Abu Saud. “This new deal only continues the systematic dangerous policy of the PA that cements the Zionist grip on our people and it will contribute to increasing the Zionist treasury, to be naturally used to support its military budget and aggression against our people.” Read more »

Gaza to recognise World Human Rights Day, hold annual HR conference

by Julie Webb-Pullman

Dr Ahmed Yousef (left) and Hisham Al Mghari open the workshop

Dr Ahmed Yousef (left) and Hisham Al Mghari open the workshop

At the multidisciplinary workshop Strengthening the Culture of Human Rights in Palestinian Society held in Gaza last week, the organisers announced their intention to hold an annual human rights conference on December 10 each year in recognition of World Human Rights Day.

Chair of the Al-Awda University College academic committee Hisham Al-Mghari, who organised the workshop with the sponsorship of Gaza NGO The House of Wisdom, opened the event noting that Al-Awda has already launched Palestine’s first Bachelor’s degree in education and human rights.

“We are here together hand in hand for the sake of our country,” he told the delegates, who hailed from lawyers’ groups, universities, colleges and other institutes, civil organisations, various political factions, and the ministries of justice, education, interior and women including the Minister of Justice Salim Saqqa and Minister of Women Haifa al-Agha.

Read more »

Palestinian survivor of Israeli torture denied new trial by US judge

MEDIA ADVISORY
Rasmea Defense Committee

Rasmea Odeh

Rasmea Odeh

Chicago’s 67-year-old Palestinian community leader, Rasmea Odeh, is set to appear in a Detroit federal court for sentencing on March 12, following her conviction on a single charge of Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization. Three days ago, Judge Gershwin Drain issued an order denying two motions by Odeh’s defense team. One motion called for a new trial because of a number of legal errors in the court’s rulings in her November trial; another called for the judge to set aside the jury’s decision altogether.

“Since both defense motions challenged how Drain conducted the trial, it came as no surprise when he ruled against Rasmea, and in support of his own decisions,” said Hatem Abudayyeh of the Rasmea Defense Committee. “We know that the conviction was a travesty of justice, and that Judge Drain’s rulings made it impossible for the jury to give Rasmea a fair shake. She survived brutal torture by the Israelis, but the jury never got to hear that.” Read more »

PFLP slams Palestinian figures cooperating with racist Zionist war criminals at Tel Aviv conference

PRESS RELEASE
PFLP

pflp-logo (400 x 406)

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine expressed harsh condemnation of Palestinian figures who participated in a conference in Tel Aviv alongside Zionist war criminals, military figures, settlers and officials on February 16-17. The conference, “Israel in a Turbulent Region,” was organized by the Institute for National Security Studies, a so-called think tank that is at the heart of high-level political and military officialdom and international propaganda campaigns to promote a “national security agenda” for the further repression, dispossession, and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. At the conference, Avigdor Lieberman announced his plans for the execution of Palestinian prisoners and freedom fighters through the introduction of the “death penalty” in Israeli military courts – kangaroo courts that convict over 99% of the Palestinians brought before them and serve solely as a mechanism of mass imprisonment and oppression of Palestinians.

By participating in this conference alongside notorious war criminals and supporters of genocide, Rami Nasrallah, Sami Abu Shehadeh, and Asma Aghbaria-Zahalka have exceeded simple “normalization.” They have violated every principle of the Palestinian and international boycott of Israel and its institutions, betraying and distorting the image of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian struggle for justice and liberation. In addition to the confirmed presentations of these three individuals, the conference’s program promised presentations by Qaddoura Fares, Jamal Zahalka and Ali Salem; it is unclear why they apparently did not appear in person and have issued no statements regarding the conference. Read more »

UNDP, Islamic University of Gaza open Legal Aid clinic

by Julie Webb-Pullman

UNDP and IUG dignitaries launch the new law clinic

UNDP and IUG dignitaries launch the new law clinic

A ceremony at the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) on Monday launched the third phase of a double-whammy law project in Gaza designed to provide legal aid on the one hand, and practical legal experience for senior law students on the other.

Dr Mohamed Al Nahal, project leader and Associate Professor of International Law, said the project, which was launched in August 2011, has already had many successes, including the release of detained persons through representing them in court, and the settlement of several inheritance disputes.

“There have been more than a thousand free consultations in the last two years,” Dr Nahal said. “It combines training law students in practical legal skills with providing a much-needed – and free – social service. One hundred students will benefit from this next stage, where they will work in groups under the supervision of qualified lawyers.” Read more »

Kiwis helping on the ground in Beit Hanoun

by Julie Webb-Pullman

Kiwi kindness has again lifted the spirits and living standards of the once-thriving-now-destroyed agricultural centre of Beit Hanoun, in North Gaza. In November 2014 Salwa Abu Nijila distributed blankets, clothes and groceries to 30 families, bought with donations from New Zealanders.

Ninety needy families are benefitting from this latest Federation of Islamic Associations in New Zealand (FIANZ)/Kiwi Trust project. According to Salwa, about nine families a day ask her for help, and she has about 500 very needy on her list, so she has had to prioritise.

Read more »

Abbas decrees committee for prosecution of war crimes at ICC

by Julie Webb-Pullman

Remains of ambulance, one of many deliberately targetted by Israeli fire killing medics and patients

Remains of ambulance, one of many deliberately targetted by Israeli fire killing medics and patients

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today announced the issuance of a presidential decree forming a committee that “will identify and prepare the documents and records that the state of Palestine will present to the ICC,” according to the official Wafa news agency.

The decree indicated that the committee’s members, drawn from Palestinian human rights groups, academia and the political sphere, will be headed by Saeb Erekat. Read more »

PFLP rejects appointment of biased Mladenov as UN envoy to the region

PRESS STATEMENT
PFLP

Kayed Ghoul

Kayed Ghoul

The appointment of Nikolay Mladenov as United Nations envoy to the so-called “Middle East peace process” is the antithesis of any effort to lead to real peace with justice in the region, said Comrade Kayed al-Ghoul, member of the Political Bureau of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Mladenov is known for his statements in support of the Zionist state and justification of its crimes against the Palestinian people since he was foreign minister of Bulgaria. The United Nations’ claim to seek real peace in the region will be belied if it continues to provide cover for the crimes of the occupation, said al-Ghoul.

Al-Ghoul said that the appointment of Mladenov in this position is a further attempt by powerful parties in the international organization, particularly the United States, to strengthen the position of the occupation state in international institutions addressing the Palestinian cause and the “Arab-Israeli conflict.” Read more »

Hemaya: Gaza Inquiry appointments raise questions

PRESS RELEASE
Hemaya Center for Human Rights

hemaya logo (400 x 107)

Hemaya Center for Human Rights is deeply concerned about the events leading to the resignation of Professor William Schabas as Chair of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict, and his replacement by Ms Mary McGowan Davis.

We consider that best practice requires that potential conflicts of interest are explored PRIOR to appointment to such inquiries, and we are most concerned that this appears not to have been the case in regard to Professor Schabas. We remain concerned that it has also not been the case re Ms McGowan Davis, given her hasty appointment. Read more »

Gaza Inquiry: UN messed up big time

by Julie Webb-Pullman

President of the Human Rights Council Joachim Ruecker on Tuesday appointed Israeli-approved former New York judge Ms Mary McGowan Davis to replace Professor William Shabas as Chair of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict.

The UN is clearly responsible for this mess, regardless of Israel’s protracted attacks on Professor Shabas ever since the announcement of his appointment, culminating in last week’s letter to the UN.

The first step in ANY professional investigation is to obtain a signed declaration stating that the investigator/commissioner has no personal or professional connection with any of the parties that would compromise their ability to conduct an impartial investigation. Why did this not occur?

Has it occurred THIS time?

Probably not, given McGowan Davis’ track record.

McGowan Davis is well-known for her report on the 2008-9 Israeli offensive against Gaza that found “Israel devoted substantial resources to investigating more than 400 complaints of improper behavior in Gaza.”

Her report was also referred to by Goldstone in his Washington Post article, appropriately published on April Fool’s Day 2011, in which he sought to justify recanting the findings of the Goldstone Report.

That Israel has welcomed this appointment should give all who value independence and lack of bias cause for considerable concern – Haaretz trumpeted her appointment, claiming McGowan-Davis “is regarded as a lot more fair with regard to Israel.”

Undoubtedly there will be no flurry of Israeli accusations and character assassinations a la Goldstone and Shabas – their golden girl will surely come through with another whitewash – remember, the recommendations of the Goldstone Report, ie to investigate war crimes, were never implemented following that of McGowan Davis.

Curiously, in Professor Shabas letter of resignation he states that on February 2, 2015 the Bureau of the Human Rights Council decided to examine a complaint by Israel and to request a legal opinion from United Nations Headquarters in New York. What was that legal opinion?

It appears that Professor Shabas resigned under pressure, before the opinion was even given – an opinion that may well have exonnerated him from any putative taint of conflict of interest. His lack of courage is most regrettable – not because he may have found against Israel, but because yet another UN commissioner has caved in to Israeli bullying.

It seems the playground bully is now running not only the US, but also the UN.

Do the rest of the students stop using the playground because the bully will attack them? No, the school takes action against the bully.

The ‘school board’ has a very clear obligation to end Israeli impunity AND attempts to control it before the last vestige of UN credibility vanishes completely.

Professional and transparent appointment processes to UN commissions would go a long way to avoiding situations such as this arising in the first place.

To end impunity and ensure justice, genuine independence of the UN and a refusal to buckle to Israeli pressure would go even further.

Press Statement on the resignation of the Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict

PRESS STATEMENT
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Geneva, 3 February 2015 — The President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Joachim Ruecker (Germany), received a letter from Professor William Schabas last night in which Professor Schabas indicates that he is resigning as chair and member of the Commission of Inquiry on the Gaza conflict with immediate effect.

This letter follows one sent to the Council President on Friday, 30 January, by the Permanent Mission of Israel in which they ask for Professor Schabas’ dismissal from the Commission of Inquiry due to what they refer to as a conflict of interest. [All communications are available on the HRC Extranet]

The President has accepted the resignation of Professor Schabas and thanks him for his work over the past six months as Chair of the Commission. The President respects the decision of Professor Schabas and appreciates that in this way even the appearance of a conflict of interest is avoided, thus preserving the integrity of the process.

The Human Rights Council President notes the decision taken by the Council requesting the Commission of Inquiry to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law and he also notes that the Commission is now in the final phase of collecting evidence from as many victims and witnesses as possible from both sides.

The report of the Commission of Inquiry is scheduled to be presented to the Human Rights Council at its upcoming session on 23 March.

The President is currently in discussions with the remaining two members of the Commission of Inquiry to discuss the appointment of the new Chairperson.

Ambassador Ruecker underlines the need to remain focused on the substantive work of the Commission in the interest of the victims and their families on both sides.

__________

No place for Israeli army official in European Parliament

PRESS RELEASE
Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GNE/NGL)

Child in Shifa Hospital, July 2014 (Photo: JWP)

Child in Shifa Hospital, July 2014 (Photo: JWP)

03/02/15 Brussels

GUE/NGL has condemned plans to welcome a top Israeli military officer who played a leading role in the Operation Cast Lead onslaught on Gaza to the European Parliament.

Major General Yoav Mordechai was set to meet MEPs on Parliament’s delegation for relations with Israel today – but the meeting was cancelled at the last minute this morning.

Yoav Mordechai was a battalion commander with the Golani Brigade, an elite division in the Israeli army, during Operation Cast Lead in late 2008 and early 2009. This 23-day bombardment of Gaza claimed the lives of over 1400 Palestinians.

Irish MEP Martina Anderson, Chair of Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with the Palestine Legislative Council, said: “Although the exact reasons why it was called off remain unclear we welcome the cancellation of the meeting. But we condemn the fact that it was set to go ahead in the first place. We can’t accept someone with such a track record being welcomed to the European Parliament. Put simply, this man has blood on his hands.” Read more »

PFLP commemorates the Journey of Al-Hakim: 1925-2008

PRESS RELEASE
PFLP

Habash (400 x 128)

Comrade Al-Hakim was born on August 1, 1925 in the city of al-Lydd, Palestine; at the time, Palestine was under British colonial control under the British Mandate, and Palestinians were facing the materialization of the colonial settler project known today as Israel. Dr. Habash attended Anglican school and then public school in al-Lydd during his early education; he then studied at the Orthodox school in Yafa, before secondary school in Jerusalem. He completed high school in 1942. During his childhood years, he was deeply influenced by the situation in Palestine, including the Palestinian revolution which took place between 1936 and 1939 against British colonialism and impending Zionist colonialism. He returned to Yafa after graduating high school, teaching for two years in the same school he attended before enrolling in the American University of Beirut in 1944 to study medicine.

Dr George Habash

Dr George Habash

In 1948, while Comrade Habash was studying in Beirut, al-Nakba took place, in which over 700,000 Palestinians, including Dr. Habash’s family and many other Palestinians in al-Lydd, were driven from their homes and made refugees. Along with other Palestinian and Arab comrades in Beirut, in response to al-Nakba, Dr. Habash founded the Arab Nationalist Movement. This movement became very strong among youth, students and intellectuals across the Arab world, and was the first pan-Arab movement to take up armed struggle to confront colonialism and to liberate occupied Arab land. After graduating with his medical degree in 1951, he participated in clinics serving Palestinian refugees in the camps in Jordan along with Comrade martyr Dr. Wadi’ Haddad, while continuing his leadership of the Arab Nationalist Movement. Read more »

Euro-Mid: ICC decision gives hope justice is not just a platitude

PRESS RELEASE
Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights

Injured boy in Shifa Hospital, Gaza City July 2014

Injured boy in Shifa Hospital, Gaza City July 2014

Geneva – On Friday, January 16, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, opened a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine, following the Palestinian authorities’ acceptance of the jurisdiction of the institution over alleged crimes committed in the it territories, including East Jerusalem, since June 13.

Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization based in Geneva and with a team in the Gaza Strip, welcomes the prosecutor’s decision and is ready to cooperate with the court by providing it with extensive documentation of war crimes. A full investigation is required to remove the main obstacles to peace and restore the parties’ trust in international justice, which ultimately must culminate in an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and the decades-old cycle of violence. Read more »

The Problem with Gaza

by Richard Jackson
Source: richardjacksonterrorismblog

Children's bodies in Gaza's Kuwaiti hospital, August 2014

Children’s bodies in Gaza’s Kuwaiti hospital, August 2014

The problem with Gaza is that when we see its suffering, we know that our commitment to human rights stops at the Israeli border; it hurries past the apartheid wall. We do not, it seems, believe in universal human rights after all.

The problem with Gaza is that when we see its dead, dust-covered children, we know that our belief in the rule of law and accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity is nothing more than fancy talk designed to seduce and distract from the ethical vacuum at the heart of our legal ethics. Read more »

Israel detained 1,266 Palestinian children in 2014

Source: Middle East Monitor

MEMO File Photo

MEMO File Photo

Israeli forces detained over 1,000 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem over the course of this year, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said Tuesday.

Abdel-Nasser Farawna, who heads the PLO’s authority for prisoners’ affairs, said that Israel had detained 1,266 Palestinian children below the age of 15 in the occupied territories throughout 2014. Read more »

PFLP denounces al-Habbash’s sermon supporting monopolization of Palestinian voice and political direction of PA leadership

PRESS STATEMENT
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

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The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine denounced the statements of Mahmoud al-Habbash at Friday prayers on December 26, in which he trumpeted the right of the Palestinian Authority and its monopolistic official leadership to pursue its political project with no regard to the vision or input of the Palestinian people and their political parties, a project reflected in the infamous UN Security Council draft that threatens Palestinian fundamental rights. The Front also demanded accountability from PA President Mahmoud Abbas in reference to the statements in al-Habbash’s sermon, which Abbas attended, in the following statement:

“In his sermon at Friday prayers on Friday, December 26, Mahmoud al-Habbash, former minister, Chief Justice of Palestine, and presidential adviser for religious affairs, shouted at the top of his voice from the pulpit that the Palestinian leadership will continue on its current path enthusiastically, with or without the Palestinian factions and political parties. Read more »

UN Commission of Inquiry on Gaza hears moving testimony, seeks access

PRESS RELEASE
United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict

Children in what was their neighbourhood, Beit Hanoun

Children in what was their neighbourhood, Beit Hanoun

GENEVA ( 23 December 2014) – The United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict, (established under Resolution A/HRC/RES/S-21/1) continues to do its utmost to obtain access to the Gaza Strip, as well as the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and access to Israel, in order to fulfil its mandate. The Commission has repeatedly sought the cooperation of the Government of Israel to facilitate access so the Commissioners can meet face to face a wide range of victims of alleged violations and also the relevant authorities. In the absence of a response from Israel, the Commission of Inquiry is still actively seeking the cooperation of the Government of Egypt, which has indicated it is ready to facilitate the Commissioners’ travel to Gaza as soon as the security situation permits travel there. Read more »

Israeli F-16s back in Gaza skies, int’l community watches silently

by Julie Webb-Pullman

Israeli F-16s are flying low over Gaza thismorning hot on the heels of Saturday’s airstrikes in Khan Younes, bringing the number of ceasefire violations since August to at least 95.

The propensity for desperate governments such as Netanyahu’s to try to shore up support in upcoming elections by waging war does not justify either the practice, or this latest onslaught by Israeli forces on Gaza, still reeling from last summer’s slaughter. Read more »