Archive for February, 2015

Excessive Use of Force, Israeli Forces Kill Palestinian

Press Release – Palestinian Centre For Human Rights

In Excessive Use of Force, Israeli Forces Kill Palestinian Civilian in al-Duheisha Refugee Camp, South of Bethlehem Read more »

Dr. Ashrawi On the Vote of the Italian Lower House

Press Release – Palestinian Liberation Organisation

We thank the members of Italys Lower House of Parliament for voting in favor of a motion from the Democratic Party of Premier Matteo Renzi that supports the goal of …establishment of a Palestinian state. It is unfortunate, however, that … Read more »

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 »

Palestine at the International Criminal Court

Opinion – Redress Information

The International Criminal Court (ICC) was designed as a vehicle for the prosecution of the most heinous of crimes committed by individuals in positions of state authority those military officers and politicians at the top of a national chain of command. … 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 Strip: Attacks in the border areas

Press Release – Palestinian Centre For Human Rights

Following disengagement from the Gaza Strip in September 2005, Israel unilaterally and illegally established a so-called buffer zone, an area prohibited to Palestinians along the land and sea borders of the Gaza Strip. The precise area designated by … 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 »

Time for Action after Killing of Three US Muslims

Opinion – Ramzy Baroud

The murder of three American Muslims at a University of North Carolina condominium on Tuesday, 10 February, was no ordinary murder, nor is the criminal who killed them an ordinary thug. The context of the killings, the murder itself and the media and … 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

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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 »

Protests in Bil’in honoring slain US citizens

Press Release – ISM Media

Protesters at demonstration in Bilin honoring slain US citizens face attacks and arrests by Israeli forces. 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 »

Mending ‘Axis of Resistance’: Hamas Returns to the Start

Opinion – Ramzy Baroud

Despite its success of rebelling Israeli military advances in Gaza, Hamass regional political maneuvers of recent years are not bearing fruits. Jointly isolated by Israel and other Arab parties, unaided by the Palestinian Authority (PA) of Mahmoud Abbas, … 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 »

UNRWA forced to suspend critical assistance program in Gaza

Press Release – UNRWA Gaza

Due to a severe lack of funding, UNRWA has been forced to suspend its cash assistance program to tens of thousands of people for repairs to damaged and destroyed homes and for rental subsidies to the homeless. Read more »

Israeli Forces Kill Palestinian Civilian

Press Release – UN News

In excessive use of force, on Saturday, 31 January 2015, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian boy and wounded and arrested another one in Burin village, south of Nablus. According to PCHR’s investigations and eyewitnesses’ accounts, Israeli forces could … 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.

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