Archive for the 'Civil Society' Category

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.

DSC05034 (400 x 300) 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 »

Dirar Abu Sisi On Hunger Strike to Attain Basic Human Rights

Press Release – UFree Network

UFree Network to defend the rights of Palestinian prisoners and Kasr Al Qaid organisation expressed their profound fear over the health condition of the sole Palestinian detainee held in solitary confinement in Israeli jails Dirar Abu Sisi.

Abu Sisi has commenced an open-ended hunger strike on Friday, 16th August 2013, in protest of his solitary confinement and lack of health care. He spent over 2 years within solitary confinement which was accompanied by torture and lack of his basic human rights.  Read more »

PCHR Condemns Dispersion of Peaceful Assembly

Press Release – Palestinian Centre For Human Rights

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the use of force by Palestinian security services to disperse a peaceful assembly in al-Bireh, and accompanying attacks against journalists.  PCHR calls upon the government in Ramallah to take necessary measures to stop such violations of human rights and to respect public and press freedoms that are ensured under the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights standards.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, following the Friday Prayer on 23 August 2013, dozens of Palestinians, including members of Hamas, gathered in front of Jamal Abdul Nasser Mosque (al-Bireh Grand Mosque) and raised banners expressing solidarity with the Syrian people and on the situation in Egypt.  Since the morning, Palestinian security services had closed the entrances of Ramallah and al-Bireh to prevent people from reaching the place of the assembly.  They also held Mohammed al-‘Aarouri, a cameraman of al-Aqsa Satellite Channel.  Once people gathered, security officers and persons in civilian clothes started dispersing them by force, and violently beat a number of them, including Ahmed Milhem, a cameraman of the local Watan Television.  A number of people were also taken in police vehicles to the old police station, but were released later after being handed summons.  The summoned persons included journalists Mohammed al-Qiq and Mohammed al-‘Aarouri.  Read more »

“They Confiscated My Only Source of Livelihood”

Khader Merwan Al Seidi |(26)

Article – Palestinian Centre For Human Rights

Khader Merwan Al Seidi (26) is one of Gaza’s fishermen and a victim of the repeated military attacks carried out by Israeli forces against fishermen in the Gaza Sea. Khader is the breadwinner for a family of 14 members. He is married with a one-year-old child, and resides with his extended family in a house in Shati refugee camp. The camp, located along the Gaza shore, is home to most of Gaza’s fishermen, for whom the sea is their main source of livelihood. On 13 August 2013, Khader left his home early in the morning, and made his way to Gaza seaport. From there, he sailed west, remaining within the Israeli-imposed limit of 6 nautical miles offshore, to fish for the day. However, Khader was attacked by Israeli naval forces, arrested, and interrogated, and his boat and fishing tools were confiscated. Khader was released 15 hours later.  Read more »

Social and Economic Justice Precede Peace: Has John Kerry Studied History?

Article – Dan Lieberman

Peace is presented as the opposite of war. Stop war and we have peace. Is it that simple?

What if there is no war, is there any peace to be pursued? History answers that question.

Israel’s stance toward the West Bank Palestinians is similar to that of the Puritans’ Massachusetts Bay Colony toward its native neighbors – rejection of all grievances leading to victory in war, followed by peace for themselves, and continued and unobstructed expansion.  Read more »

Israeli Forces Use Excessive Lethal Force Killing Palestinian Civilian and Wounding 3 Others

Press Release – Palestinian Centre For Human Rights

In an excessive use of lethal force, on Tuesday morning, 20 August 2013, Israeli occupation forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded 3 others, including 2 children, in Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank.

According to investigations conducted by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), at approximately 04:30 on Tuesday, 20 August 2013, Israeli forces in 12 military vehicles moved into Jenin refugee camp.  They patrolled the streets and surrounded a house belonging to the family of Bassm al-Sa’di, a leader of Islamic Jihad.  They then raided and searched the house.  In the meantime, a number of Palestinian children and young men gathered and threw stones and empty bottles at the Israeli forces.  Read more »

Three Leading Palestinian Women Prisoner Activists Arrested

Press Release – International Solidarity Movement

Leena Jawabreh, Linan Abu Ghoulmeh and Myassar Atyani, three Palestinian activists and former prisoners were seized by the Israeli police at 10:00 pm on the evening of August 15 while visiting a friend, former prisoner Woroud Qasem, in the 1948 occupied areas of Palestine. All three are leading campaigners and activists for Palestinian prisoners and are from Nablus district. Their detention was extended at a hearing on August 19.

Woroud Qasem, who is from Tira area and holds Israeli citizenship, was released at 2:00 am on Friday and placed under house arrest until a hearing on August 19, her drivers’ license was confiscated.  Read more »

Gaza Supreme Court Suspends Bar Association Elections

Press Release – Palestinian Centre For Human Rights

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) deeply regrets the Gaza Supreme Court’s decision to stop holding the elections of the Palestinian Bas Association as scheduled on Saturday, 17 August 2013.  PCHR hopes that the Court will consider the petition filed against the decision immediately and within the legal time limits in order to ensure holding the elections of the Bar Association without delay.

The Bar Association was informed on Thursday afternoon, 15 August 2013, about the Gaza Supreme Court’s decision to stop the elections of the Bar Association which was scheduled to be organized on Saturday, 17 August 2013.  Read more »

“What Is a New Home Without the Sight of My Children?”

Article – Palestinian Centre For Human Rights

Amna Hijazi (46), mother of Mohammed and Suhaib Hijazi and wife of Fouad Hijazi, who were killed in the Israeli offensive in November 2012

At approximately 19:20 on Monday 19 November 2012, during the latest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, an Israeli military plane fired a missile at the house of Fouad Khalil Hijazi (46) in the north of Jabalya. The house was destroyed, and Fouad and his two children, Mohammed (4) and Suhaib (2), were killed. 28 civilians, including 7 residents of the house, were also injured in the accident.

The house was reduced to rubble,  totally levelled by the Israeli airstrike. Amna Hijazi (46), Fouad’s wife and mother of the eight Hijazi children, was pulled from the rubble. Due to the severity of her injuries, she was transferred to a hospital in Al Arish in Egypt to receive medical treatment. A photograph of the Hijazi family funeral, taken by Swedish photographer Paul Hansen, became an iconic image of the November offensive and was named World Press Photo of the year for 2012. Amna was not present at the funeral. When she awoke in the hospital, a few days after the attack, she was told of the death of her husband and two of her children.  Read more »

UN Commissioner Pillay Urges Hamas to Halt Gaza Executions

Press Release – United Nations Human Rights Commissioner

GENEVA (14 August 2013) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has urged the Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip not to carry out planned executions.

“I am deeply concerned at the possibility that executions might be carried out over the course of the next weeks in Gaza and urgently appeal to the de facto authorities there not to implement any death sentences,” she said.  Read more »

Hamas Vows to Liberate Jordanian Prisoners

Press Release – Palestinian Information Center

GAZA, (PIC)– Hamas movement praised the Jordanian prisoners’ hunger strike led by Abdullah al-Barghouthi which was suspended after achieving victory.

In a statement issued on Monday, Hamas warned the occupation of continued its crimes against the prisoners.  Read more »

Abbas Has No Right to Relinquish Any Part of Palestine

Press Release – Palestinian Information Center

GAZA, (PIC)– Hamas movement renewed its rejection of the futile negotiations, saying they only serve the interests of the occupation.

The movement stressed, at a press conference on Monday evening, that Abu Mazen and his negotiating team do not have the legitimacy and the right to give up any part of the land of Palestine or any of the people’s rights.  Read more »

Lebanon Turns Its Back On Palestinians Fleeing Syria War

Article – Franklin Lamb

The Syria/Lebanon Border Crossing At Masnaa

On 8/5/13 this observer decided, quite on the spur of the moment, to take a three day break from Damascus the next morning and make a quick trip to Beirut to do some errands because offices would be closed starting at dawn for Eid al Fitr celebrations (a day later for Shia Muslims). The annual Eid al-Fitr, being the festival of the breaking of the month long Ramadan fast, which observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. And by the way, this year has been undertaken, approximately 16 hours each day in inordinately hot weather in the Middle East.

Let me say from the start: I did not anticipate the delay into which I was about to run. In fact, I felt that with a little bit of luck—and by leaving Damascus by no later than six in the morning—I might even break my record of 205 minutes total from Sameriyeh bus station to my apartment in Dahiyeh, south Beirut.  Read more »

Summon and Arrest Campaign Against Fatah Members In Gaza

Article – Palestinian Centre For Human Rights

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is concerned over the summon and arrest campaign launched by the Internal Security Service (ISS) against members of Fatah movement in the Gaza Strip in the past days. PCHR calls upon the government in Gaza to fully abide by the law and stop arrests on political grounds.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, the campaign was implemented by ISS against 16 Fatah members throughout the Gaza Strip in the past days. According to statements of some of the arrested persons and their families, the campaign started with summons that were sent to the majority of the arrested persons to refer to the ISS head office each in his area and/or arresting them from their houses after searching the houses or other places they were in, in addition to confiscating PC sets. The campaign targeted a number of Fatah leaders, including current and former province secretaries, area secretaries and other members. The arrested persons were questioned on giving money to families of Fatah members who were wounded or killed during the events of June 2007.  Read more »

Releasing Palestinian Prisoners Is Welcome But Long Overdue

Press Release – UFree Network

UFree Network to defend the rights of Palestinian political prisoners and detainees welcomed the release of a number of Palestinian prisoners. The network considered the step as late, long overdue that is used to cover up its the Israeli ugly image perceived worldwide through showing “real” intention of peace seeking.

In a press statement dispatched Tuesday evening, August 13, 2013, UFree stated that it is watchfully waiting to see the outcome of the Palestinian prisoners’ release deal between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel. It asserted that the deal is not enough and that all Palestinian political prisoners and detainees should be released unconditionally.  Read more »

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