Archive for 08/02/2010

Yishai moves to legalize Jewish ownership of East Jerusalem building

Posted in Everyday life in the West Bank, History, Israel, Israel politics, Israel's separation wall, Israeli occupation, Israeli politics, USA foreign policy, War crimes, West Bank on 08/02/2010 by 3071km

Date Published: February 8,2010

Source: Harretz

Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Monday moved toward legalizing Jewish ownership of an East Jerusalem building, authorizing the district planning commission to take on the matter without first notifying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said he was not involved in the matter. 

Yishai’s move was exposed by Israel’s Channel 1 hours after the Jerusalem Municipality canceled the distribution of evacuation orders for Beit Yonatan, a residential building erected by nationalist Jews in the heart of an Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem. 

   
 

Yishai confirmed the that he had ordered the move and had received assurance that a majority of the council would vote in favor of the move. 

The interior minister also said that the residents of Beit Yonatan agreed to move their occupancy two floors down, making it legal. Yishai added that the council was expected to approve a similar move on other contentious buildings in the area. 

Less than a week ago, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat bowed to pressure from legal officials and said he would uphold the court order to evacuate and seal Beit Yonatan. 

In a letter to State Prosecutor Moshe Lador, Barkat pledged to enforce the court order to evacuate the structure, though he added that he was doing so under protest. Barkat also wrote that the municipality would tear down some 200 Palestinian homes slated for demolition in East Jerusalem. He warned, however, that enforcing the court order fully is liable to trigger a violent response from the Palestinian community. 

The Jewish-owned building, named for convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, lies in Silwan, an Arab part of East Jerusalem. A court ruling declared the home was built without the proper permits. 

In his letter to Lador, Barkat said the court orders sabotaged a municipal plan to resolve the matter of illegal construction in East Jerusalem. The plan would have allowed the buildings and their residents to remain in place, he said. 

Barkat also criticized the Jerusalem municipality’s legal consultant, Yossi Havilio, who was the most vocal official in favor of enforcing the court orders. 

Last week, Lador sent a letter to Barkat reprimanding him for his refusal to shutter Beit Yonatan. 

“Acceptance of the situation in which court orders are not carried out expresses a biting failure,” Lador said, adding that “Israel is a law abiding country, and in lawful countries court orders must be carried out.

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Gaza’s state of health … not so good

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza, Gaza reconstruction, Israel politics, Israeli occupation, Israeli politics, Palestine, Pictures, Siege, War crimes on 08/02/2010 by 3071km

Gallo/Getty

Date Published:February 8th, 2010

Source: Middle East Blog, by Ayman Mohyeldin

We all know what its like when we go to the doctor’s office for that routine check up once a year … and undoubtedly there is that moment of anxiousness when the doctor looks you in the face to level his criticism on what you can do better next year. 

So you leave the office, go to the nearest gym, sign up for that cardio class and then off to the supermarket to get that new low fat salad dressing. It’s a new year and you are gonna take your health seriously!

A universal human right for all…

That’s the way it should be … for you and for the people of Gaza. But Gaza’s health report card just came back … and it ain’t looking good for the 1.7 million people living under a stifling siege.

Even worse, there is little the people here can do about it.

According to the United Nations, which examined the state of health one year on from Israel’s brutal war on Gaza, a collapsed economy and staggering unemployment will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the physical and mental health of the people here. 

Here are some of the highlights, or should I say the sad points, of Gaza’s Health:

● Infant mortality rates, which were steadily declining in recent years have stalled.

● 15 of Gaza’s 27 hospitals were damaged or destroyed in Israel’s war and have yet to be rebuilt or repaired. 

● Since 2000, very few medical professionals have been able to leave for training to update their clinical skills or learn about new medical technologies – which in return limits their ability to provide adequate health care. 

● Many patients are in need of specialised treatments not available in Gaza and referred abroad for care. Sadly, their applications to travel for care get delayed or denied by the Israeli authorities and some have died while waiting for referrals.

But some times its not the press releases or the statements that sum up the difficult situation in Gaza, or even the peoples own stories. Here is a animated clip from the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem that captures what is so wrong with the Israeli siege on Gaza. 

‘A prescription for civil war’

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Everyday life in the West Bank, Fatah, Gaza, Hamas, History, Palestine, Peace process, West Bank on 08/02/2010 by 3071km

Date Published:February 08, 2010

Source: Aljazeera English 

By:By Jon Elmer in Bethlehem in West Bank, palestine.

Abu Abdullah has never been charged with a crime, but he has been arrested by Palestinian security forces so many times in the past two years that he has lost count.

He has been arrested at work, in the market, on the street, and, more than once, during violent raids by masked men who burst into his home and seized him in front of his family.

Deep in the heart of the Deheishe refugee camp on the outskirts of Bethlehem, Abu Abdullah describes in detail the beatings he has endured in custody, the numerous cold, sleepless nights in cramped and filthy cells, the prolonged periods bound in painful stress positions, and the long hours of aggressive questioning.

“The interrogations always begin the same way,” Abu Abdullah explains. “They demand to know who I voted for in the last election.”

Abu Abdullah is not alone. Since Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s caretaker government took power in Ramallah in June 2007, stories like Abu Abdullah’s have become commonplace in the West Bank.

The arrests are part of a wider plan being executed by Palestinian security forces – trained and funded by American and European backers – to crush opposition and consolidate the Fatah-led government’s grip on power in the West Bank.

An international effort

The government of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, is bolstered by thousands of newly trained police and security forces whose stated aim is to eliminate Islamist groups that may pose a threat to its power – namely Hamas and their supporters.

Under the auspices of Lieutenant-General Keith Dayton, the US security coordinator, these security forces receive hands-on training from Canadian, British and Turkish military personnel at a desert training centre in Jordan.

The programme has been carefully coordinated with Israeli security officials.

Since 2007 the Jordan International Police Training Center has trained and deployed five Palestinian National Security Force battalions in the West Bank.

By the end of Dayton’s appointment in 2011, the $261mn project will see 10 new security battalions, one for each of the nine West Bank governorates and one unit in reserve.

Their aim is clear. Speaking before a House of Representatives subcommittee in 2007, Dayton described the project as “truly important to advance our national interests, deliver security to Palestinians, and preserve and protect the interests of the state of Israel”.

Others are even more explicit about what the force is for. When Nahum Barnea, a senior Israeli defence correspondent, sat in on a top-level coordinating meeting between Palestinian and Israeli commanders in 2008, he says he was stunned by what he heard.

“Hamas is the enemy, and we have decided to wage an all-out war,” Barnea quoted Majid Faraj, then the head of Palestinian military intelligence, as telling the Israeli commanders. “We are taking care of every Hamas institution in accordance with your instructions.”

After the takeover

 

Ten new security battalions will be created under the Dayton project [GALLO/GETTY]

When he arrived in the last days of 2005, Dayton’s assignment was to create a Palestinian security force ostensibly tasked with confronting the Palestinian resistance. The project began in Gaza.

 

Sean McCormack, a state department spokesman at the time, explained Dayton’s role as “the real down in the weeds, blocking and tackling work of helping to build up the security forces”.

But within weeks of his arrival, things began to fall apart. Hamas’ decisive January 2006 election victory ushered in a crippling international blockade on the Palestinians in Gaza. Soon after, the security forces of Hamas and Fatah began fighting in the streets, culminating in Hamas’ June 2007 takeover of the enclave.

Dayton’s initial aims lay in tatters, and while Fayyad became prime minister in a ‘caretaker’ government in Ramallah, a new security strategy was formulated.

As a grim status-quo established itself in Gaza, Dayton’s new mission became clear. The job of the security coordinator was now “to prevent a Hamas takeover in the West Bank,” according to Michael Eisenstadt, Dayton’s former plans officer.

A coordinated attack on Hamas’ civilian apparatus was launched immediately after the takeover in Gaza in June 2007. Major-General Gadi Shamni, the head of the Israeli army’s central command, led an initiative to target the base of Hamas’ support in the West Bank. The plan, dubbed the Dawa Strategy, involved pin-pointing Hamas’ extensive social welfare apparatus, the lynchpin of their popularity amongst many Palestinians.

Dr Omar Abdel Razeq, a former finance minister in the short-lived Hamas government, explains the effect this had. “When we talk about the infrastructure we are talking about the societies and the cooperatives and the institutions that were to help the poor,” he says. “They finished [off] the infrastructure of Hamas.”

Israeli Brigadier-General Michael Herzog, the chief of staff to Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, summed up the Israeli view of the project. “[Dayton’s] doing a great job,” he said. “We’re very happy with what he’s doing.”

Torture allegations

The Dawa Strategy has seen more than 1,000 Palestinians jailed by Palestinian Authority (PA) forces. The arrests – though concentrated on Hamas and its suspected allies – have touched a broad swathe of Palestinian society, and all political factions.

They have targeted social workers, students, teachers, journalists. There have been regular raids on mosques, university campus’ and charities, and repeated allegations of torture carried out by US and European-funded security officers, including several deaths in custody.

In October, Abbas issued a decree against the most violent forms of torture used by his forces and replaced the interior minister, General Abdel Razak al-Yahya, a long-time US and Israeli partner, with Said Abu Ali.

While noting an improvement since the decree, human rights workers say the changes are not enough. “There is still no due process, still no legal justifications for many of the arrests and civilians are still being brought before military courts,” says Salah Moussa, an Independent Commission for Human Rights attorney.

Major-General Adnan Damiri, a spokesperson for the Palestinian security forces, acknowledged wrongdoing but attributed the acts to individuals and not to a policy.

“Sometimes there are officers or soldiers who have made mistakes in this way, with torture,” Damiri said. “But now we are punishing them.”

Damiri cited 42 cases of torture in the past three months that resulted in various forms of reprimand, including loss of rank. Six soldiers were dismissed for their acts.

But on the streets, the mood is darkening as the foreign-backed security services tighten their grip on the West Bank.

Naje Odeh, a leftist community leader in Deheishe who operates a thriving youth centre in the camp, characterised the security apparatus as akin to the US-allied regimes in Jordan and Egypt. “If you speak out, you are arrested,” he explains. “This behaviour will destroy our society.”

Odeh says the security forces carrying out the raids know that what they are doing is wrong. “Why are they masked?” he asks rhetorically. “Because we know these people. We know their families. They are ashamed of what they are doing.”

Some fear that the behaviour of the US and EU-trained security forces will spark potentially deadly confrontation.

“If they attack your mosques, your classrooms, your societies, you can be patient, but for how long?” a senior Islamist leader in the West Bank asks.

Abdel Razeq, the former Hamas finance minister, is more explicit in his predictions.

He says: “If the security forces insist on defending the Israelis, this is a prescription for civil war.”

Israeli forces raid West Bank camp

Posted in Everyday life in the West Bank, IDF, Israel, Israel politics, Israel's separation wall, Israeli occupation, Israeli politics, Palestine, Peace process, War crimes, West Bank on 08/02/2010 by 3071km

Date Published: Febraury 07, 2010

Source: Aljazeera English

Israeli forces have raided a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank, arresting at least 40 people.

The arrests on Monday at the Shuafat camp in annexed east Jerusalem were part of an operation that Israeli police said was aimed at “putting order” in the area.

Al Jazeera’s Elias Karram, reporting from the camp, said: “The raid was divided into two parts: the first of which ended on Monday when Israeli army and intelligence forces invaded the came and detained around 40 poeple based on their political affliation – either to Hamas or Fatah.

“The second part is still under way and it targets Palestinian workers who have come from various parts of the West Bank to work in the camps without necessary working permits.”

Israeli troops also stormed shops and hospitals in the camp, Karram said.

Rights group targeted

In a separate incident, Israeli military officials raided offices of Stop the Wall, a human-rights group that campaigns against the construction of the West Bank separation barrier.

Stop the Wall released a statement on Monday saying that at least 10 military vehicles invaded the city of Ramallah before officials searched through the offices, “confiscating computer hard disks, laptops, and video cameras along with paper documents, CDs, and video cassettes”.

Jamal Jumaa, the co-ordinator of Stop the Wall, said in the statement: “This is part of the continuous targeting of the popular grassroots movement and the struggle of the Palestinian human rights defenders for Israeli accountability.

“Palestinians will not be intimidated by this. The struggle against the Wall will only stop once the decision of the International Court of Justice, which calls for the Wall to be torn down, is implemented.”

Jumaa said: “We call on the international community and in particular the European Union to step up pressure on Israel to ensure it respects international law and human rights and ends its repression of Palestinian and international human rights defenders working on the ground.”

The raid came after Jumaa was arrested along with Mohammad Othman, a youth co-ordinator from Stop the Wall. Both activists were released on Monday.

Arrest campaign

In recent months, Israel has intensified its arrest campaign against those involved in the anti-barrier protests. Two pro-Palestinian foreigners were arrested on Sunday.

The activists were employed with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), one from Spain and the other from Australia.

Israeli forces routinely enter the territory to arrest Palestinians accused of “militant activity”.

However, Sunday’s raid marks only the second time troops have seized foreigners there on suspicion their visas had expired.

The ISM is involved in protests against the separation barrier.

Omer Shatz, the activists’ lawyer, says he believes his clients were targeted because of their political activity.

Robert Fisk: Why does the US turn a blind eye to Israeli bulldozers?

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Everyday life in the West Bank, Gaza, Hamas, History, IDF, International community, Israel, Israel politics, Israeli occupation, Palestine, Peace process, Siege, War crimes, West Bank on 08/02/2010 by 3071km

rob_fisk

Date Pubished: February 08, 2010

Source: The Palestine Telegraph

 Palestine” is no more. Call it a “peace process” or a “road map”; blame it on Barack Obama’s weakness, his pathetic, childish admission – like an optimistic doctor returning a sick child to its parents without hope of recovery – that a Middle East peace was “more difficult” to reach than he imagined.

But the dream of a “two-state” Israeli-Palestinian solution, a security-drenched but noble settlement to decades of warfare between Israelis and Palestinians is as good as dead.

 Both the United States and Europe now stand idly by while the Israeli government effectively destroys any hope of a Palestinian state; even as you read these words, Israel’s bulldozers and demolition orders are destroying the last chance of peace; not only in the symbolic centre of Jerusalem itself but – strategically, far more important – in 60 per cent of the vast, biblical lands of the occupied West Bank, in that largest sector in which Jews now outnumber Muslims two to one.

 

This majority of the West Bank – known under the defunct Oslo Agreement’s sinister sobriquet as “Area C” – has already fallen under an Israeli rule which amounts to apartheid by paper: a set of Israeli laws which prohibit almost all Palestinian building or village improvements, which shamelessly smash down Palestinian homes for which permits are impossible to obtain, ordering the destruction of even restored Palestinian sewage systems. Israeli colonists have no such problems; which is why 300,000 Israelis now live – in 220 settlements which are all internationally illegal – in the richest and most fertile of the Palestinian occupied lands.

When Obama’s elderly envoy George Mitchell headed home in humiliation this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu celebrated his departure by planting trees in two of the three largest Israeli colonies around Jerusalem. With these trees at Gush Etzion and Ma’aleh Adumim, he said, he was sending “a clear message that we are here. We will stay here. We are planning and we are building.” These two huge settlements, along with that of Ariel to the north of Jerusalem, were an “indisputable part of Israel forever.”

 

It was Netanyahu’s victory celebration over the upstart American President who had dared to challenge Israel’s power not only in the Middle East but in America itself. And while the world this week listened to Netanyahu in the Holocaust memorial commemoration for the genocide of six million Jews, abusing Iran as the new Nazi Germany – Iran’s loony president supposedly as evil as Hitler – the hopes of a future “Palestine” continued to dribble away. President Ahmadinejad of Iran is no more Adolf Hitler than the Israelis are Nazis. But the “threat” of Iran is distracting the world. So is Tony Blair yesterday, trying to wriggle out of his bloody responsibility for the Iraq disaster. The real catastrophe, however, continues just outside Jerusalem, amid the fields, stony hills and ancient caves of most of the West Bank

Friends of Humanity: 2009 is the worst year in the history of Palestinian detainees

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Everyday life in the West Bank, Fatah, Gaza, Hamas, History, IDF, International community, Israel, Israel politics, Israeli occupation, Israeli politics, Palestine, War crimes, West Bank on 08/02/2010 by 3071km

SRS

Date Published: February 8, 2010

Source: The Palestine Telegraph

Friends of Humanity International organization, based in Vienna, issued on Saturday a detailed report entitled “Beyond the Sun” on the reality of Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails; the organization reported that 2009 was the worst year in history of Palestinian detainees utterly. 
“In 2009, The Israeli Prison service practiced new methods of torture against Palestinian detainees in order to increase physical and psychological pressure on them so that they could not live normal life if they were released one day. In addition, it intended to destroy the physiological state of detainees and their families by the ban of visitation right for along period.” report mentioned 
The report added. “The detainee’s ability to endure the difficult circumstances of the imprisonment in Israeli Jails for being survival means great thing in the process of defending their rights to life” 
It pointed out that the number of detainees in Israeli prisons amounted to 7286 at the end of 2009, including 36 female detainees, 20 member of Parliaments and Ministers and 250 children under 18 years. 
The report indicated that there were 319 detainees imprisoned before signing Oslo accord between the government of Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1993; those detainees are known as longest serving detainees in Israeli prisons, including 115 detainees served more than 20 years in Israeli prisons.

Marginal detainees 
The reports focused on the detainees of Jerusalem city and Palestinian territories occupied in 1948 because the Israeli authorities intended to marginalize their issue and still refuse to free any one of them as a part of prisoners swap with the Palestinians. The number of detainees of Jerusalem amounted to 237, including 4 female detainees. It mentioned also that 14 detainees of Jerusalem passed away inside Israeli prisons.

Violations
The report showed that the formation of a special Ministerial Committee by the Israeli government is the most dangerous event occurred in 2009. This committee aims at studying and evaluating the conditions of Palestinian detainees in order to tighten the screw on them.
It explained that more than 1,000 prisoners suffering from chronic diseases are medically neglected and more than 1,500 others, 775 of them from Gaza, are deprived of seeing their loved ones for long periods of time. 
Israeli forces used detainees as human shields during the last war on Gaza Strip and those detainees were caught in the cross fire. 
15 Palestinian detained in 2009; most of them were Gazans. They were arrested under what so called “unlawful combatant”. The organizations said that the above mentioned arrest violates the standards of fair trial and the principles of human rights

 

Photo by Eman Jomaa

 

Complete power outage imminent in Gaza

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza, Israel, Israel politics, Israeli politics, Palestine, Siege, War crimes on 08/02/2010 by 3071km

elecgaza

Date Published: February 6, 2010

Source: The Palestine Telegraph

 The Energy and Natural Resources Authority in Gaza warned that a severe shortage of fuel will force it to shut down electricity by Sunday.

Kanan Abaid, head of the authority, said on Saturday that only enough fuel is available for one more day, warning of a crisis if the station stopped working.

He pointed out that the decline in station production is a result of Israeli restrictions on fuel import, constituting a collective punishment of all Gaza Strip residents.

If Israel does not resume supplying the besieged Gaza Strip with fuel, the company will not be able to provide electricity on Sunday morning, which means that Gaza will descend into darkness.

The company has already been forced to cut off electricity for eight hours per day in different areas of the Gaza Strip.

Photo: Eman Jomaa