Category Archives: Gaza

U.S. Department of State Diplomacy: ‘If You Try To Sail To Gaza, Israel May Kill You’

State Department Travel Warning: If You Try To Sail To Gaza, Israel May Kill You

On June 22, 2011, the American State Department  released an updated travel warning for Israel and the Occupied Territories. The update signified that it was issued “to warn against participation in any attempt to reach Gaza by sea.” The warning is likely in light of the so-called “Freedom Flotilla” of humanitarian activists setting out any day now to break the blockade of Gaza enforced by the Israeli military.

Last year, a similar attempt to break the blockade ended in the deaths of nine people, including an American.

The State Department warning says:

The security environment within Gaza, including its border with Egypt and its seacoast, is dangerous and volatile. U.S. citizens are advised against traveling to Gaza by any means, including via sea. Previous attempts to enter Gaza by sea have been stopped by Israeli naval vessels and resulted in the injury, death, arrest, and deportation of U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens participating in any effort to reach Gaza by sea should understand that they may face arrest, prosecution, and deportation by the Government of Israel. […] On May 31, 2010, nine people were killed, including one U.S. citizen, in such an attempt.

http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/06/22/251355/state-travel-warning-israel/?fb_comment_id=fbc_10150289547940325_17917649_10150296093165325#f30f500478

Photo: The Libyan ship Amalthea.  On 4 July 2010, an aid group in Egypt unloaded aid supplies from the Libyan ship Amalthea. The Tripoli-based Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation had wanted the ship to take the supplies directly to Gaza. Israeli missile ships had been shadowing the Amalthea since Wednesday morning to ensure that it would not reach Gaza. U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley urged Libya ‘to avoid confrontation and allow the Israelis to inspect the vessel with 2,000 tons of aid supplies’…

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Gaza children return from Slovenia with prosthetic limbs

prosthetic.limbs.jpg

Gaza – Ma’an – Ten children returned to Gaza from Slovenia on Friday, fitted with prosthetic limbs thanks to a rehabilitation project initiated by Slovenia’s president, Danilo Turk.
The children, who lost limbs in Israel’s attack on the Strip in December 2008, were treated at Ljubljana’s Institute for Rehabilitation.

President Turk visited the West Bank shortly after the war, and promised that the International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance, set up by the Slovenian government in 1998, would offer its expertise and support to Gaza’s child amputees.

Last year, 32 children were flown to the Slovenian capital where they were fitted with artificial limbs and trained to use them.

Child amputees constantly outgrow their prosthetic limbs, and need regular re-fittings. The campaign, co-sponsored by the US, Sweden, and South Korea, also brings physiotherapists and doctors from Gaza to Slovenia to receive specialist training.

Qatari emir Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani visited the latest round of children to benefit from the project in the Slovenian capital, and donated €100,000 to bring another group of children to the center.

Healthcare in Gaza is severely restricted by Israel’s four-year siege. Israel controls what medical equipment is allowed inside, and Palestinians must obtain permission to receive treatment at specialist hospitals in Jerusalem, a lengthy and often unsuccessful process.

More than 260 people died in Gaza last year because Israel refused these permits, the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health estimates.

25.7.2010

http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=302029

EGYPT, THE U.S. AND THE ISRAELI BLOCKADE OF GAZA

Mubarak-Dec25-08-Livni-Egypt_Mideast_Israel__MeyeEgyptian President Hosni Mubarak, right, greets Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni during a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Dec. 25, 2008. Their talks focused on the Middle East peace process and an Israeli major military operation in Gaza.

‘Making nice with Israel opens the door to billions of dollars worth of aid from Washington, money on which Mubarak’s clique depend to fund the security apparatus that sustains them in power.’

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jun/05/mubarak-weather-perfect-storm

Hold Israel Accountable: Model letter to your government

Hold Israel Accountable

Your Excellency

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is scheduled to convene in May 2010 in order to take a formal decision on Israel’s application for membership in the Organization. A vote for Israel’s accession to the OECD will be regarded by people of conscience around the world as a decisive and far-reaching act of complicity in rewarding and perpetuating Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid against the Palestinian people. Furthermore, it will irreparably undermine the rule of law and further entrench the culture of impunity that has enabled Israel to escalate its commission of war crimes and what is described by some leading international law experts as a prelude to genocide against Palestinians in the illegally besieged and occupied Gaza Strip.

We call on you to ensure that Israel will not be admitted into the OECD by casting a vote against Israel’s accession in the final review of its application in May. Membership in the OECD will intensely fuel Israel’s militarism, belligerence and aggression, further destabilizing the entire region, undermining security as well as social, political and economic development and making the quest for a just peace an unattainable goal.

We deplore the OECD’s persistent disregard of evidence submitted by human rights and civil society organizations in process of examination of Israel’s membership application [1].
We further deplore the decision by the OECD to consider Israel’s inability to provide economic statistics which distinguish between the state of Israel and the Palestinian and Syrian territories it occupies as not constituting and obstacle to Israel’s OECD accession [2].

We affirm that the OECD becomes complicit in Israel’s unlawful acts, if the Organization fails to address – despite ample evidence – Israel’s reality as an oppressive occupying and colonizing power in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip and continues to ignore Israel’s system of institutionalized racial discrimination which is the root cause of the extreme poverty among its Palestinian citizens highlighted in OECD reports.

Israel, like all other states, is to be held accountable to the standards of international law and universal human rights and must respect them before it can be welcomed as a member in the OECD. Respect and compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law is a requirement for members under OECD instruments. The 1960 OECD Convention, for example, affirms that “economic strength and prosperity are essential for the attainment of the purposes of the United Nations, the preservation of individual liberty and the increase of general well-being.” In the “Road Map for the accession of Israel to the OECD Convention” adopted by the Council in November 2007, the Council noted that in order for Israel to accede to the OECD it must demonstrate its commitment to “fundamental values” shared by all OECD members and meet related benchmarks. The stated OECD values include “a commitment to pluralist democracy based on the rule of law and the respect of human rights, adherence to open and transparent market economy principles and a shared goal of sustainable development.”

Condemned as a state that is practicing occupation, colonization and apartheid by a recent authoritative legal study in South Africa supervised by international law expert and former UN human rights rapporteur, Prof. John Dugard, Israel is not in compliance with international law and OECD standards and benchmarks [3]. Israel has yet to comply with the recommendations of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict and investigate and prosecute where needed those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity that resulted in the death of more than 1,400 Palestinians, most of them civilians, in the winter of 2008/9. Israel has yet to lift its illegal blockade of the occupied Gaza Strip which has brought to the brink of starvation almost 1.5 million Palestinians, most of whom are refugees Israel had displaced and dispossessed back in 1948. It has yet to dismantle its illegal Wall in the occupied Palestinian West Bank in accordance with the 2004 International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion. Israel has yet to end its almost 43-year-old occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, reverse its colonial enterprise and release Palestinians detained and imprisoned. It has yet to transform its political and legal system in order to provide reparation for millions of Palestinian victims, including return for the refugees, and allow full and equal participation of its Palestinian citizens. Only then will Israel meet the standards of pluralist democracies valued by the OECD.

We reiterate concerns expressed on numerous occasions to the OECD by human rights and civil society organizations and call upon your government to say no to Israel’s bid for membership in the OECD.

In deep concern and with sincere greetings,


Ziyaad Lunat – http://www.facebook.com/ziyaad

  • Model Letter to your Government to Hold Israel Accountable
    http://holdisraelaccountable.net/2010/04/27/model-letter-to-send-to-your-government/
  • Israel’s Accession to the OECD
  • ‘A Nonviolent Che Guevara in Gaza’

    A Nonviolent Che Guevara in Gaza
    Yesterday at 3:27pm

    By Ashely Bates, reprinted from her Dispatches from Gaza blog with permission

    (Ed’s note. The spreading of the unarmed protests for real democracy to Gaza shows that the tactic is working. And if it works people will want to try it, in ways that defy stereotypes of “violent” Hamas-controlled Gaza. The only difference is that Israel can get away with a harsher response in Gaza so paying attention to stories like this is all the more important.)
    In August of last year, I observed the weekly protest in Bi’lin, a West Bank village where the security fence under construction by Israel separates farmers from their land. As they had every Friday for more than three years, Palestinians, left-wing Israelis and international activists marched towards the fence. Kids at the front of the group threw stones at the Israeli tanks, who replied with tear gas, skunk canons and rubber bullets. It was a sobering and unpleasant experience, but I never feared for my life.

    Bil’in is one of the few places in the Palestinian territories where protesters have won victories in the Israeli courts. In September of 2007, the Israeli Supreme Court decided that the wall created “undue hardship” in Bil’in and must be rerouted. The IDF began carrying out the court’s demands last month, but declared Bil’in a “closed military zone” and forbad internationals from entering Bil’in on Fridays.

    Today I observed a Bil’in-inspired demonstration the buffer zone near Beit Lahiya—but instead of skunk canons and tear gas, Israeli troops immediately fired live ammunition to disperse the 100 or so Palestinians and ISM activists. No one was injured and the gunfire was aimed at the ground, but it was a terrifying experience. Protests like this have happened every week for the past two months and are attracting a growing number of participants from across Gaza.

    I shared lunch with the organizer of the protests, Saber Al-Zaaneen, his wife and three young children. Mr. Zaaneen, a self-declared “left-winger” chose a gigantic picture of Che Guevara as the central decoration in his living room. (Most Gazans chose a picture of Yasser Arafat or Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the quadriplegic founder of Hamas.) He said he admired Guevara for “starting an international revolution against oppression.”

    As we sat down, Mr. Zaaneen extended his hand. “You are Israeli. I am Palestinian,” he began. “No,” I interrupted, a bit startled and confused. “I am not Israeli. I am American.” He smiled kindly. “This is just an example. I want to have you in my house to drink tea. I want us both to say to our governments that we can live together in peace.”

    After this awkward introduction, Mr. Zaaneen shared some of his life history. He studied sociology at the Islamic University of Gaza, has never traveled outside Gaza, and was a Fateh police officer before Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007. He has hosted Israeli journalist Amira Hass in his home and corresponds with left-wing Israeli parliamentarians. Mr. Zaaneen is among about 100,000 former Fateh police officers who still receive their salaries from the Fateh government in Ramallah, even though he cannot work as a police officer under Hamas rule.

    In July of 2008, Apache helicopters dropped fliers (see picture) warning Palestinians that they were not permitted to go within 300 meters of the border. Mr. Zaaneen knew that Israeli soldiers had shot at people and destroyed farms and houses within one kilometer of the border. Feeling that Israel would continue encroaching unless Palestinians resisted, he began organizing non-violent direct actions in the buffer zones, such as accompanying farmers as they tended their fields and searching for bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli troops and left to rot.

    During and after the Gaza War, Mr. Zaaneen dropped his plans for larger-scale demonstrations. However, he was inspired by developments in Bil’in. “I wanted to experiment with that strategy in Gaza,” he said. “The strength of these demonstrations is that they attract international activists and journalists to see what’s really happening.”

    On January 9 of this year, a new flier arrived from the Apache helicopters telling Palestinians not to go within 800 meters of the border. This reenergized Mr. Zaaneen because he “wanted to send a message to Israel that this is Palestinian land and the farmers are not leaving. They bring money only from working the soil.” He visited universities and community organizations, and ultimately rallied a broad base of support. The transportation expenses and equipment are funded by private individuals; he receives no money from Fateh or Hamas.

    People of all political stripes are welcome at his demonstrations, which now occur five days per week at border areas across Gaza. He calls his organization the Local Initiative Against the Buffer Zone. Every demonstrator must not bring weapons and must commit to non-violence. “I don’t resist because I want to die,” he said. “I resist because I want freedom, land, education, opportunities, no occupation. This is the message of our movement. We want the whole world to know why the Palestinian people resist.”

    Ashely Bates is a freelance journalist reporting from Gaza for the first time. She speaks Arabic and previously lived in Jordan as a Peace Corps volunteer. She currently serves as Program Director at Hands of Peace, a dialogue camp for Israeli, Palestinian and American teenagers.

    UPDATE: Israel’s army attacked the group’s unarmed protest again, according to the Palestine Telegraph. “Israeli occupation forces opened fire today toward a peaceful demonstration in Rafah against the Israeli buffer zone in the Gaza-Israel border, no injuries were reported.”

    Source: http://www.facebook.com/notes/jewish-voice-for-peace/a-nonviolent-che-guevara-in-gaza/383563668491