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Thursday, August 20, 2009

A New Type of "Birthright" : Birthright Replugged

what a great project!


From Haaretz

Fourteen-year-old Jum’a Ismail lives 50 km from the Mediterranean but had never seen the sea. The Palestinian youth had never set eyes on an Israeli civilian or an airport.

Juma’a’s horizons expanded this summer, when he left Jalazoun refugee camp in the West Bank with “Birthright Replugged” on a trip taking Palestinian children to Israel to visit the villages of their ancestors.

“It’s an attempt to get out, while they still can,” said the program’s creator, Dunya Alwan.

Once Palestinian children turn 15, they must carry Israeli-issued West Bank identity cards and are no longer able to travel through Israeli checkpoints without special permits.

“Birthright Replugged” is partially funded by the Carter Center’s Peace Program, founded by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter. It takes groups of 20 Palestinian children into Israel twice yearly.

Alwan, an Iraqi-American from a Jewish-Muslim family, calls her work a counterweight to “Birthright”, the program offering Jewish youth from around the world an all-expenses-paid, two-week trip to Israel to foster ties to the Jewish state.

Movement from the West Bank to Israel was easier before the second Palestinian Intifada that began in 2000. Suicide bombings on Israeli buses and cafes triggered a security clampdown that is only now loosening, under international pressure.

Palestinians must still carry ID cards to move around the West Bank. That puts the Mediterranean coast and Israel’s Ben-Gurion international airport out of range. Alwan says her little trips may be the first and last opportunity for the youngsters. On their return to the West Bank, they cannot stop talking about the sea, the airport, how Israeli Jews and Arabs coexist, and how they have no roadblocks to worry about.

“They don’t ever seem to think about if there is going to be a checkpoint ahead or not,” says 14-year-old Haneen al-Nakhla. “We’re always worrying and calculating those kinds of things.”

They are puzzled to see Israelis who are neither soldiers carrying weapons, or settlers, who also tend to be armed.

Some 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank. Israel is home to 7 million people, of whom around 20 percent are Israeli Arabs.

“We had no idea how many Jewish people there would be. There are more than Arabs,” said Haneen. “The Arabs and Jews talk to each other, like it’s normal. I thought it was really strange. We don’t ever talk to Jewish people at home.”

Alwan’s tour does not alter sentiments; the students all support a Palestinian “right of return” to homes and land lost during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948 – a demand Israel says would destroy the Jewish character of the state.

For Alwan, simply showing the teenagers their former homeland turns an idealized dream into realities they can discuss.

Lydda, or Lod in Hebrew, was where their grandparents once lived. It’s now part of the sprawling airport outside Tel Aviv.

“These kids see the challenges and complexities. They see that what they have rights to now has an airport on it,” Alwan said.

Sobering it may be, but the airport is a big hit. Most of the teenagers have never flown or even been close to a plane, and they take countless photographs.

“I had to take pictures to show my family. They’ve never seen an airliner either,” said Jum’a, who at home hardly notices the watchtowers, razor-wire fences and high concrete walls of the barrier Israel has erected in the West Bank.

The normality of Israel’s heartland shocked them. “I really felt how much I live under occupation,” says Haneen.

She has decided she “would really like to become an airline stewardess”, and Jum’a says: “I definitely want to be a pilot.”

Back home, the Jalazoun kids seem conflicted. They start a sentence arguing for peace and freedom for Palestinians and Israelis, then end up saying there’s no hope of it.

But a talk with participants of past trips, who are a bit older now, suggests that ideals of coexistence tend to develop.

Ahmawd Ghazawy, 19, from Jenin refugee camp, was on the first Birthright Replugged trip in 2007.

“Before 1948 there were Jews and Arabs and they lived in peace,” he says. “It could happen again.”

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Young Love in Gaza

Absolutely beautiful story!

From ElectronicIntifada

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Eman Mohammed writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 17 August 2009

Newlyweds Rana and Mahmoud al-Zourby at their home in the Gaza Strip. (Eman Mohammed)

They say that all is fair in love and war. In Gaza, love and war have come together in a bittersweet union.

Rana, 26, like many women around the world, dreamed of walking down the aisle in a white dress and veil. But her marriage to Mahmoud is extraordinary in many ways as life is these days in Gaza.

On the rehearsal morning about a week before their planned wedding, Mahmoud, 21, got dressed with the help of his younger brother, then sat smiling in the corner as he waited for Rana to come visit to write out invitation cards. Before Israel's winter invasion of Gaza, it was easy for Mahmoud to recognize Rana from the merest glimpse. After the war he had to find new ways to sense her presence. "Sometimes I know she is around when I hear her giggle, or when I hear her talking to my mother," he said.

Mahmoud lost his eyesight and right leg during an air raid on the ninth day of the attack while he was having dinner with four friends at his neighbor's house. All survived but with severe injuries.

Rana is undaunted by the challenges Mahmoud faces adjusting to life with his injuries. "He lost his sight and his leg, but no bomb can ever take his heart, and he will never lose his sense of love," she said. "I can't understand why some people see what we are doing as hard; no marriage is easy," she added. "This is a life-long commitment, for better or worse."

At a traditional family gathering before the wedding, relatives and friends expressed their admiration for Rana and Mahmoud and have done much to support their wedding plans. Life for young couples is especially hard under the siege conditions in Gaza. A relative applied for Rana and Mahmoud to be included in one of the joint weddings held by the al-Tayssir Association, an Islamic charity that holds such events to help those injured in the war have normal lives. Mahmoud's parents have donated their bedroom to the young couple after renovating it for them.

Umm Rawhi, Mahmoud's mother, expressed her excitement about the expected wedding: "We may be simple people who don't have two pennies to rub together, but we are here for each other." Reflecting on her son's injuries, she added, "Marriage might be the last thing anyone in Mahmoud's shoes would think about, but life goes on."

Mahmoud's father, Abu Rawhi, added, "I was as surprised as others at Mahmoud's decision, but I would do anything to see him happy again, especially after all he has been through. Still, I would never want to jeopardize anyone else's happiness, even for my own son. So I thank God every day for sending Rana. She not only made my son happy, but she made all of us smile when we thought we would never smile again."

Eman Mohammed is a Jordanian-Palestinian freelance photojournalist and reporter based in the Gaza Strip since 2005.

Amnesty International Withdraws from Leonard Cohen's Israel Concert Fund

Great News!! from PACBI

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Amnesty International Withdraws from

Leonard Cohen’s Israel Concert Fund

Media Contacts:,

New York, NY, August 18 – Amnesty International has announced today that it will abstain from any involvement in the Leonard Cohen concert in Tel Aviv and will not be party to any fund that benefits from the concert‘s proceeds. A number of media accounts had reported that Amnesty International was to manage or otherwise partner in a fund created from the proceeds of Cohen’s concert in Israel that would be used to benefit Israeli and Palestinian groups. Amnesty International’s announcement today followed an international outcry over the human rights organization’s reported involvement in the Leonard Cohen concert fund, and an earlier international call for Cohen to boycott apartheid Israel.

Omar Barghouti from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) commented, “We welcome Amnesty International’s withdrawal from this ill-conceived project which is clearly intended to whitewash Israel’s violations of international law and human rights. By abandoning the Leonard Cohen project in Tel Aviv, Amnesty International has dealt Cohen and his public relations team a severe blow, denying them the cover of the organization’s prestige and respectability.”

A statement confirming Amnesty‘s withdrawal has now been posted on the Amnesty International website.

After reports in late July that Amnesty International would manage a fund from the proceeds of Leonard Cohen’s concert in Israel, groups in occupied Palestine and around the world mobilized to pressure Amnesty International not to participate in such a fund. The Palestinian Non-governmental Organizations’ Network (PNGO) called in an August 11th letter on Amnesty International to reject management of a fund that is to be created from the proceeds of Leonard Cohen’s planned September concert in Israel. The West Bank village of Bil’in had made a similar appeal to Amnesty International. An international campaign of about one thousand letters to Amnesty International called for Amnesty’s withdrawal from the Cohen concert initiative. The only Palestinian organization that was claimed to be a recipient of the fund had previously announced that it was not involved in the project. Additionally, a representative of the joint Palestinian Israeli group Combatants for Peace, another previously announced beneficiary of the Cohen concert fund, had informed the New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel in writing that the group had decided not to participate in the Leonard Cohen concert in Tel Aviv and not to accept any funds from its proceeds.

PNGO explained in their letter to Amnesty International that Israel Discount Bank, a major sponsor of Cohen’s concert in Israel, “is involved in the construction and the continuation of the Israeli settlement project in the oPT [occupied Palestinian Territories]… These settlements built on Palestinian lands are illegal under international law and are considered as war crimes in the Fourth Geneva Convention.” PNGO added that Cohen’s “concert in Israel contributes in normalizing Israeli occupation and colonization policies.” In an August 9th letter to Amnesty International, the West Bank village of Bil’in, a leader in the Palestinian nonviolent resistance movement, said that, “Israel Discount Bank’s trading room and other computer services are run by an Israeli company called Matrix IT. Matrix IT’s trading room is located on our villages land stolen by the illegal settlement of Modiin Illit.”

Additionally, nineteen groups and organizations worldwide explained in an open letter to Amnesty International that, “Being one of the world’s strongest proponents of human rights and international law, you shall thus be subverting a non-violent, effective effort by Palestinian and international civil society to end Israel‘s violations of international law and human rights principles.” The groups asserted that, “Accepting funds from the proceeds of Cohen’s concert in Israel is the equivalent of Amnesty accepting funds from a concert in Sun City in apartheid South Africa.” They also commented that the Peres Center for Peace, Amnesty International’s announced partner in managing the concert fund, “has been denounced by leading Palestinian civil society organizations for promoting joint Palestinian-Israeli projects that enhance ‘Israeli institutional reputation and legitimacy, without restoring justice to Palestinians.’”

On August 5th, eleven groups launched a letter writing campaign to Amnesty International which has resulted in hundreds of emails sent. Among those urging Amnesty International to reject involvement with the Cohen concert are former Amnesty International USA board member Prof. Naseer Aruri, Amnesty International USA’s former Midwest Regional Director Doris Strieter, peace activist Kathy Kelly, and a number of Amnesty International members.

The announcement of Cohen’s planned concert in Israel was swiftly met by letters from British, Israeli and Palestinian organizations and protests at his concerts in New York, Boston, Ottawa and Belfast, among other cities, calling on Cohen to respect the international call for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel. In response to the protests, Cohen had tried to schedule a small concert in Ramallah to “balance” his concert in Israel. However, Palestinians rejected the Ramallah concert, insisting that Cohen should first cancel his Tel Aviv gig to be welcomed in Ramallah.

With the international community failing to take action to stop Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people, and inspired by the international boycott movement that helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa, Palestinian civil society has launched calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, including an institutional academic and cultural boycott. Ninety-three artists, writers and other cultural workers have signed onto the Palestinian cultural boycott call. Palestinian boycott calls have inspired a growing international boycott movement which gained added momentum following Israel’s assault on Gaza last winter.

Posted on 18-08-2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

"Nonviolent direct action, solidarity and struggle"

great op-ed by Ramzi Kysia of the FreeGaza movement / article from ElectronicIntifada

A year ago, 44 ordinary people from 17 different countries sailed to Gaza in two small wooden boats. We did what our governments would not do -- we broke through the Israeli siege. During the last year the Free Gaza Movement has organized seven more voyages, successfully arriving to Gaza on five separate occasions.

Regardless of Israeli threats and intimidation, Free Gaza volunteers will continue sailing unarmed boats to Gaza. Ours remain the only international ships to reach the Gaza Strip in more than 42 years. By directly challenging the Israeli military with our small boats, we have concretely demonstrated that this siege has nothing whatsoever to do with security and is simply an illegal act of collective punishment.

But the siege of Gaza cannot be separated from the crisis of checkpoints and home demolitions in Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, nor from the oppression of Palestinian citizens of Israel, nor from the harsh and unjust conditions of the millions languishing in refugee camps across the Middle East, nor from the plight of the more than 11,000 political prisoners held by Israel, nor from the calamity of extra-judicial killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces, particularly the killings of Palestinian children, nor from Israel's ongoing theft of Palestinian natural resources, nor from the right of return for all Palestinians in the Diaspora. Gaza is but one bitter element of the struggle for justice for all of Palestine.

Contrary to its presentation in the mainstream media, this conflict is neither a righteous war against terrorism, nor a long-standing religious or ethnic dispute. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the struggle of two irreconcilable and unequal causes: the struggle of an oppressed people for freedom, justice and self-determination against their oppressors' struggle to maintain their domination.

The purpose of nonviolent direct action and civil resistance is to take risks and put our selves in the way of injustice. We take these risks well aware of what the possible consequences may be. We do so because the consequences of doing nothing are so much worse. Any time we allow ourselves to be bullied, every time we pass by an evil and ignore it, we lower our standards and allow our world to be made that much harsher and unjust for us all.

Other international solidarity and action campaigns preceded ours, such as the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza, and more have begun in recent months, such as Viva Palestina, the International Movement to Open Rafah Border, Code Pink's delegations to Gaza, and the Gaza Freedom March.

These campaigns are all important. Working together, we have been able to complement and multiply our efforts, drawing the world's attention to the suffering caused by Israel's illegal blockade. We have been able to bring in limited amounts of needed aid, and bring out of Gaza a handful of Palestinian students, medical patients and others. These are worthwhile labors, but they are not enough. As the great Indian resistance leader Mahatma Gandhi stated on 11 September 1924: "[The people] are as yet untouched by [our] politics ... Their politics are confined to bread and salt ... We must share their sorrows ... Then and not till then shall we truly represent [them] ..."

The truth is that all our work combined has yet to significantly impact the daily lives of the Palestinian people.

As solidarity campaigners, it's our job to take our direction from comrades already struggling inside occupied Palestine. But as internationals we should also remind ourselves that our primary work lies in our own communities. In the end, our struggle is not about charity; the Palestinian people need justice and political action, not charity.

Viva Palestina's journey through North Africa, on their first mission from Britain to Gaza, helped mobilize countless individuals. Their planned journey through Europe this December will mobilize countless more. Volunteers working and traveling with Viva Palestina have begun dozens of twinning projects between their communities in the West and communities inside Palestine. The fruits of these efforts are unknowable. However, there are tremendous possibilities for not only providing concrete assistance to those in need, but also for politicizing and mobilizing individuals across the world to get involved in the struggle for justice in Palestine.

Similarly, the Free Gaza Movement is working to mobilize individuals through the Right to Read campaign, and through direct lobbying of governments and the international community to actually enforce international law in regards to Palestine. We are reaching out to existing social movements and labor unions in the West, complementing existing efforts to establish and broaden boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns against apartheid Israel.

The continuing failure of the international community to enforce its own laws and protect the Palestinian people demands that we as private citizens directly intervene to take action commensurate with the crisis. What is needed in our world today is not simply protest against the violence of occupation and oppression. What we need is a greater resolve -- a new militancy rooted in the profound respect for human life, and sustained by profound disrespect for any government or group that terrorizes our sisters and brothers around the world.

More than at any time in recent memory, ordinary people around the world seem to be answering this call.

Ramzi Kysia is an Arab-American essayist and an organizer with the Free Gaza Movement (

Zionist Pioneer Denounces Zionism


I've never met Dov Yermiya, a Jewish Israeli peace activist who is now 94 years old. But I read of course the book he published in 1983 in which he wrote with anguish about the torture and other gross mistreatment of civilians he witnessed directly during Israel's invasion of Lebanon the year before.

I have it in my hand now.

I just learned, from an open letter published by Uri Avnery, that Yermiya, recently renounced the ideology and practice of Zionism with these stirring words:

“I, a 95 year old Sabra (native born Israeli Jew), who has plowed its fields, planted trees, built a house and fathered sons, grandsons and great-grandsons, and also shed his blood in the battle for the founding of the State of Israel,

“Declare herewith that I renounce my belief in the Zionism which has failed, that I shall not be loyal to the Jewish fascist state and its mad visions, that I shall not sing anymore its nationalist anthem, that I shall stand at attention only on the days of mourning for those fallen on both sides in the wars, and that I look with a broken heart at an Israel that is committing suicide and at the three generations of offspring that I have bred and raised in it.

“... for 42 years, Israel turned what should have been Palestine into a giant detention camp, and is holding a whole people captive under an oppressive and cruel regime, with the sole aim of taking away their country, come what may!!!

“”The IDF eagerly suppresses their efforts at rebellion, with the active assistance of the settlement thugs, by the brutal means of a sophisticated Apartheid and a choking blockade, inhuman harassment of the sick and of women in labor, the destruction of their economy and the theft of their best land and water.

“Over all this there is waving the black flag of the frightening contempt for the life and blood of the Palestinians. Israel will never be forgiven for the terrible toll of blood spilt, and especially the blood of children, in hair-raising quantities... “

Avnery's response is fascinating. He too is a veteran peace activist, and of about the same generation as Yermiya. But in the letter he is, I think, pleading with Yermiya not to renounce Zionism completely, but rather to reconnect with the "idealistic" Zionism that they both experienced during their youth.

He writes,

“When I think of our youth, yours and mine, one scene is never far from my mind: the 1947 Dalia festival.

“Tens of thousands of young men and women were sitting on the slope of a hill in the natural amphitheater near Kibbutz Dalia on Mount Carmel. Ostensibly it was a festival of folk dancing, but in reality it was much more - a great celebration of the new Hebrew culture which we were then creating in the country, in which folk dancing played an important role. The dancing groups came mainly from the kibbutzim and the youth movements, and the dances were original Hebrew creations, interwoven with Russian, Polish, Yemenite and Hassidic ones. A group of Arabs danced the Debka in ecstasy, dancing and dancing and dancing on.

“In the middle of the event, the loudspeakers announced that members of the UN Commission of Inquiry, which had been sent by the international organization to decide upon the future of the country, were joining us. When we saw them entering the amphitheater, the tens of thousands spontaneously rose to their feet and started to sing the "Hatikva", the national anthem, with a holy fervor that reverberated from the surrounding mountains.

“We did not know then that within half a year the great Hebrew-Arab war would break out - our War of Independence and their Naqba. I believe that most of the 6000 young people who fell in the war on our side, as well as the thousands that were wounded - like you and me - were present at that moment in Dalia, seeing each other and singing together.

“What state did we think of then? What state did we set out to create?

“What has happened to the Hebrew society, the Hebrew culture, the Hebrew morality that we were so proud of then?”

Then, he pleads this:

“You, Dov, have invested in this state much too much to turn your back on it in a gesture of anger and despair. The most hackneyed and worn-out slogan in Israel is also true: ‘We don't have another state!’

“Other states in the world have sunk to the depths of depravity and committed unspeakable crimes, far beyond our worst sins, and still brought themselves back to the family of nations and redeemed their souls.

“We and all the members of our generation, who were among those who created this state, bear a heavy responsibility for it. A responsibility to our offspring, to those oppressed by this state, to the entire world. From this responsibility we cannot escape.

“Even at your respectable age, and precisely because of it and because of what you represent, you must be a compass for the young and tell them: This state belongs to you, you can change it, don't allow the nationalist wreckers to steal it from you!

“True, 61 years ago we had another state in mind. Now, after our state has tumbled to where it is today, we must remember that other state, and remind everybody, every day, what the state should have been like, what it can be like, and not allow our vision to disappear like a dream. Let's lend our shoulders to every effort to repair and heal!
These are very weighty issues that these two longtime Zionists are debating.”

I remember the evening I had back in early March with longtime Jewish-Israeli nonviolence activist Amos Gvirtz. Gvirtz is "only" in his late 60s or early 70s. But like Avnery and Yermiya he grew up in Israel.

He told me in March,

“I became an anti-Zionist after Oslo, when the government expelled the Arabs of Jahhaleenn to make room for the big new settlement area if Maale Adummim... Like the Zionists, I believe we Jews need a state of our own. But unlike the Zionists I don't think this should be built on the ruins of someone else's home. So our state need not necessarily be right here.”

Gvirtz, too, like Avnery, identified a strong link between the events of 1947-48 and the situation today-- though the nature of the link Gvirtz identified was very different from Avnery's: "The Nakba wasn't really a single event that happened in 1948, so much as a long-drawn-out process, that continues to this day." In other words, he was quite unwilling to neatly divide Israeli history, as Avnery still does, between the idealized, prelapsarian days of the 1947 Dalia festival and the post-lapsarian era that was inaugurated-- in Avnery's view-- only by Israel's conquest of the West Bank.

Obviously, this is a very weighty issue for Zionists and their supporters to grapple with. Did 1967 mark a notable break between a laudable past and a troublesome present? Or were there indeed, as Gvirtz and many other current non- and anti-Zionists have argued, many elements of continuity from the 1947 period right through to the present?

Anyway, I'd love to see the whole text of the latest Yermiya letter from which Avnery is quoting, if anyone can provide a link to it, preferably in English. The only recent English text that I could find by him online was this letter, published in the Communist weekly Zo Haderekh in June 2008.

In it, Yermiya was returning to Defense Minister Barak the invitation he had been sent to attend a ceremony to honor all veterans of Israel's 1948 "War of Independence".

He wrote,

“As a veteran of the 1948 war, who was already wounded in face to face combat two weeks before the Declaration of the State, I feel obliged herewith to return the invitation to you, as Minister of Defence. I do so regretfully but see this as my duty.

“I consider you, Ehud Barak, as one of the top military commanders and prominent political leaders who were responsible for converting the army from ‘the Israeli Defence Force’ to an army of occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people and defender of the criminal settlements in their country.

“40 years of occupation have utterly corrupted the Israeli army and all strata of Israeli society.They are both characterized by the nationalist 'east wind' [the east wind brings the chamsin and locusts ]which blows and kindles conflagrations of endless wars, which threaten our people and land with the third and final destruction. Your share in the responsibility for all this is enormous, and therefore I return your invitation to you, without thanks...”

Helena Cobban is a veteran writer, researcher, and program organizer on global affairs. Since 2003 she has published "Just World News", a lively blog on international issues that has gained a broad international readership. She can be reached at

Friday, August 14, 2009

Free Ezra!

Join Naomi Klein, Neve Gordon, Noam Chomsky and thousands of others and tell Israel not to jail Ezra Nawi, one of Israel’s most courageous human rights activists.

His crime? He tried to stop a military bulldozer from destroying the homes of Palestinian Bedouins in the South Hebron region.

Nawi, a Jewish Israeli of Iraqi descent, is a threat to the settlers and the Israeli government because he has brought international attention to efforts to illegally remove Palestinians from the Hebron region.

Ezra Nawi will be sentenced August 16th. We will bring thousands of signatures of support to the court house. Send the email below and be counted!

The New York Times has taken notice and written this profile of Nawi and his activism.

(Watch the remarkable video of Nawi trying to stop the home demolition and his subsequent arrest.)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

IDF Kills Palestinians Waving White Flags

Human Rights Watch called on Israel on Thursday to investigate seven incidents in which it said Israeli troops shot and killed Palestinian civilians who were flying white flags during the war in the Gaza Strip in January.

Expressing disappointment with Israel's response so far to a range of allegations of war crimes made by international bodies, the New York-based lobby group said governments should press for prosecutions under international law if Israel and its enemies in Gaza's Islamist authorities did not act themselves.

"These casualties comprise a small fraction of the Palestinian civilians wounded and killed," Human Rights Watch said. "But they stand out because, in each case, the victims were standing, walking or in slowly moving vehicles with other unarmed civilians, and were trying to convey their non-combatant status by waving a white flag."

"All available evidence indicates that Israeli forces were in control of the areas in question, no fighting was taking place there at the time, and no Palestinian forces were hiding among the civilians or using them as human shields."

From Haartez

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How Israel Destroyed Gaza's Infrastructure Intentionally

New Report - "Red Lines Crossed: Destruction of Gaza''s Infrastructure"

The report describes how Israel deliberately brought Gaza's humanitarian infrastructure to the brink of collapse in advance of Operation Cast Lead via its policy of closure and limitations on the entrance of inputs for the water, sewage and electricity systems.

From Gisha : an Israeli not-for-profit organization, founded in 2005, whose goal is to protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially Gaza residents. Gisha promotes rights guaranteed by international and Israeli law.

Bil'in Village Stands Against Israeli Arrests and Intimidation

Bil’in village will hold a mass demonstration against the ongoing Israeli arrest and intimidation campaign

14 August 2009

For Immediate Release:

Bil’in village will hold a mass demonstration against the ongoing Israeli arrest and intimidation campaign on Friday, 14 August 2009 at one PM. Bil’in residents along with Israeli and international supporters will attempt to march to the village land beyond the Apartheid Wall.

At 2 AM on the 10 August 2009, Israeli forces raided the home of a jailed member of the Bil’in popular committee, Mohammad Khatib. The heavily armed solders, their faces daubed with black paint, entered and “searched” the home now occupied by Mohammad’s wife, Lamya, and their small children. The soldiers then ordered Lamya to take them to the house of Khatib’s elderly father, Abdel Karim. Lamya repeatedly refused to cooperate. The soldiers proceeded to raid Mohammad’s father’s home and summoned him to appear for interrogation with the Israeli secret service (Shabak). While Abdel Karim was being interrogated by the Shabak the next day, an officer called his wife in front of him and threatened her with the arrest of her entire family.

The latest wave of arrests and Israeli night raids on the West Bank village of Bil’in began on 23 June 2009, To date, Israeli forces have arrested 25 people (most are under 18). Eighteen of the 25 remain in detention. Through Israel’s interrogation and intimidation tactics, two of the arrested youth have ‘confessed’ that the Bil’in Popular Committee urges the demonstrators to throw stones. With such ‘confessions’, Israeli forces then proceed to arrest leaders in the community, including Adeeb Abu Rahme and Mohammad Khatib.

Abdullah Abu Rahme, coordinator of the Bil’in popular committee, states that “While the Bil’in committee does encourage residents, Israeli and international supporters to take part in demonstrations, we call for non-violent participation. The occupation forces in addition to using excessive and sometimes lethal violence against us have planted undercover agents to throw stones from the demonstrations on several occasions. Mohammad Khatib and Adeeb Abu Rahme, along with other leaders of the Palestinian popular struggle, are being targeted because they mobilize Palestinians to resist non- violently. Israel is stealing our land from us and then prosecuting us as criminals because we struggle non-violently for justice.”

Mohammad Khatib will be taken in front of a military court this Thursday,13th August when the military prosecution will ask to prolong his detention for the duration of his trial. A similar request to hold popular leader Adeeb abu Rahme was granted by a military judge on July 21st. Adeeb has been in detention since his arrest during a non-violent demonstration on July 10th. Both leaders are being charged with “incitement to damage the security of the area.”

Lamya Khatib, whose husband and younger brother, Abdullah, are both currently imprisoned at Ofer military base, stated: “It is obvious that the Israeli authorities will do all that they can to prevent Palestinians and Israelis from working together towards a just peace. but I know that Mohammed, Abdullah and I, and everyone in Bil’in, will continue our struggle for justice.”

Your presence and support are needed in Bil’in on Friday, 14 August 2009 at one PM! Join us in sending the message that the non-violent resistance campaign will continue until we reclaim our rights!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Israeli Troops Accused of Abuse

As the US increases the pressure to get Israelis and Palestinians back to peace talks, the Obama administration has asked Israel to help improve Palestinians' quality of life.

But a former Israeli military commander has told the BBC that Palestinian youngsters are routinely ill-treated by Israeli soldiers while in custody.

Some human rights groups also support the claims, saying that, at times, brutal abuse of Palestinian children is widespread.

Israel says it has to root out teenagers who pose a terrorist threat.

Gaza's Cars Barely Running

Gaza's cars barely running
Eva Bartlett,
The Electronic Intifada,
3 August 2009

Even though six months have passed since Israel's brutal three-week bombardment of Gaza, Saleh, like many other Palestinians, has not been able to repair the damage. "I can't replace the windows and doors in my house; they were broken during the war. For the most part you can't find them in Gaza, and if they've been brought in through the tunnels then they're far too expensive."Facing the debt of an unpaid car part, needed insurance, and daily expenses, the driver is considering other ways of making money. "Maybe I'll have to sell my wife's only jewelry to pay the bills. Maybe I'll have to sell our refrigerator and television. That might bring 700 shekels [less than $200]."

From Electronic Intifada

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so who exactly suffers the most from this occupation? is it hamas? no. fatah? no. it is all the innocent Palestinian civilians who have limited access, or none at all, to every basic necessity one needs to survive.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Israel-led blockade limits medical supplies in Gaza

Gazans have limited access to proper medical supplies because of an Israel-led blockade on the Hamas-controlled region, and equipment now in
use is often broken or outdated, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

While some medicines are allowed in for humanitarian reasons, importing spare parts or new medical devices into Gaza is limited, a WHO official said. Also, the UN agency said, well-meant donations are not helping.

"The main issue here about the blockade is that it undermines the supply system as a whole," Mahmoud Daher, the head of WHO's office in Gaza, told a news conference in Jerusalem.

During Israel's punishing three-week offensive in Gaza in December and
January, aimed at stopping daily rocket attacks, two health care facilities were destroyed and others damaged, but the WHO said health care has since returned to prewar levels.

More than 1,100 Palestinians were killed and thousands wounded during the
Israeli operation.

From Haaretz

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How does preventing Gaza from receiving medical supplies make Israel any safer?

50 Palestinians evicted from their Jerusalem homes

"Israeli police evicted two Palestinian families in east Jerusalem on Sunday, then allowed Jewish settlers to move into their homes, drawing criticism from Palestinians, the United Nations and the State Department.

Police arrived before dawn and cordoned off part of the Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah before forcibly removing more than 50 people, said Chris Gunness, spokesman for the U.N. agency in charge of Palestinian refugees.

U.N. staff later saw vehicles bringing Jewish settlers to move into the homes, he said.

Israeli police cited a ruling by the country's Supreme Court that the houses belonged to Jews and that the Arab families had been living there illegally.

Gunness said the families had lived in the homes for more than 50 years."

Khawla Hanoun, 35, who lived in one of the homes, said police ordered her and 16 family members to leave the house before dawn and forced them out at gunpoint when they refused.

"Now our future is in the streets," she said. "We will remain steadfast until we return home. By any method, we must go back home."

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I wonder what on this Earth, besides dying, can be worst than waking up at dawn to you and your family (of at least 50 people) being evicted out of your home that you have been living in for over 50 years. And why? Because some people like to think that because maybe their ancestors lived on this land thousands of years ago, they have the right to literally KICK you out of your homes and move in to the exact place where you lived.

If people are doing this in the name of religion, and God, what would God say about this type of injustice, brutality, and inhumanity where you strip people of all their dignity because you think you are better than them?

When will people see how OUTRAGEOUS this way of thinking is!? You left the very homes and comfort you have to make over 50 people homeless for your 'beliefs'. Amazing.