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November 16, 2012

Gaza is no longer alone | Ahdaf Soueif

A Palestinian woman makes the victory sign during the funeral of a child killed in an Israeli attack in Gaza last week.  Photograph: Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images

A Palestinian woman makes the victory sign during the funeral of a child killed in an Israeli attack in Gaza last week. Photograph: Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images

Friday 16 November 2012

In the nations of the Arab spring, people are now rising up to demand Palestinian rights as well

If you click here, you can listen to the Israeli attacks on Gaza. You can hear explosions, drones and ambulances. This is the soundtrack of the lives of Palestinians there now. They’re recording it and transmitting it, and their friends all over the world – particularly the Arab world – are listening to it live.

We are also reading the tweets and blogs the young Gazans are putting out, and taking a good look at the images they’re posting – like the one of Ranan Arafat, before and after. Before, she’s a pretty little girl with green eyes, a green halter-neck top and green ribbons in her hair. After the Israeli bomb, she’s a charred and shrunken figure. Her mouth is open. A medic lifts – for just a moment – her blue hospital shroud.

In that hospital, Shifa in Gaza City, we watched the Egyptian prime minister, Hisham Kandil, this morning. For the first time in 42 years an Egyptian prime minister was where we Egyptians wanted him to be. For the first time a government official was telling the truth when he said he spoke for the Egyptian people. And he was spot on when he referred to the Egyptian people first, before the Egyptian president.

Since he won the presidency, Mohamed Morsi has tried to be a pragmatic politician. He pressed on with “security co-ordination” with Israel in Sinai; he started sealing up the tunnels that provide a lifeline to the besieged Gazans; he rejected the proposal of a free trade area on the borders between Egypt and Gaza; and he sent an ambassador to Tel Aviv with a fulsome letter to Shimon Peres. And so he found himself uncomfortably cosied up with remnants of the Mubarak regime and aficionados of the military government.

The rank and file of the Muslim Brotherhood and their Freedom and Justice party had a hard time justifying the actions of their man in the presidential palace to the rest of the country. Progressives and liberals mocked them for their big talk on Palestine all the years they were in opposition, and their resounding silence now they were in power. Skits about Morsi’s “love letter” to Peres appeared online and parodies on Cairo walls.

Now, the Israelis have pushed him – pushed him perhaps into a position where he’ll find himself more at ease in his presidency, and more in tune with the people. Large groups of young Egyptians have been heading for Gaza; my youngest niece is one of them. Like the efforts of the world’s civil society to send ships to Gaza, young Egyptian civilians with a passion for freedom are going to support their friends. And on a more “official” level, medics and pharmacists have already arrived there. Abdel Moneim Aboul-Fotouh, a presidential candidate and doctor, has gone – as he did in 2008 during Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead“, long before he had political intentions. The Arab Doctors’ Union has called for donations and volunteers.

Israel has always sold itself to the west as a democracy in a sea of fanaticism. The Arab spring has undermined that narrative, possibly fatally. So Israeli politicians have been pushing hard for a war against Iran and, in the interim, they’ve gone on a killing spree in Gaza. If they had wanted to instigate violence against themselves they could not have done better than to assassinate Ahmed al-Jaabari, the Hamas commander who’s prevented attacks on Israelis for the past five years. With his killing they’ve raised the probability of these attacks resuming, as is happening now. They can then try to hijack the narrative of the Arab spring and wind the clock back to “Islamist terrorists v civilised Israelis”. Meanwhile, they take the heat off Bashar al-Assad’s murderous activities in Syria – and, of course, score hawkish points for Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak before the coming elections.

But they have served to remind the world that Israel is a democracy where politicians may order the murder of children to score electoral points. Palestinian children, true. But the citizens of the world don’t make racist distinctions. On Thursday there were protests for Gaza across the world. They continued today. And there will be many more.

In every Arab country where the people rise up to demand their rights, they demand action on Palestinian rights as well. Tunis has just announced that its foreign minister is heading for Gaza. In Jordan today, hundreds of thousands were on the streets and, as well as demanding the fall of their own regime, they’re also calling for justice for Palestine. Protesters are out in Libya. In Egypt, people are heading for Rafah. We are heading for true representation of the people’s will in the region and, in the coming years, governments will need to follow the road shown to them by their people.

• Comments for this article will be switched on in the morning

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The International Community must prevent a new massacre in Gaza!

From Russell Tribunal on Palestine

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) calls on the international community to intervene to immediately end the Israeli “Operation Pillar of Defence”, launched on Wednesday 14 November.

Operation Pillar of Defence must be seen within the broader context of the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip. An occupation which has changed since the withdrawal of Israeli troops and settlements in 2005, but that is still effective through the continuous control by Israel of the Gaza Strip’s ground, sea and air spaces.
The RToP wishes to remind that since 1967, almost one hundred Security Council resolutions have urged Israel to put an end to the occupation of the Palestinian Territories, to no avail. The current escalation of violence is therefore to be seen as a consequence of the military occupation of the Palestinian Territories by Israel and of the international community’s lack of will to force Israel to abide by its international legal obligations.

Israel invokes its right of self-defence against the launch of Palestinian rockets to Israel but the continued occupation of a part of the Gaza Strip by Israel in violation of the Security Council resolutions and of the UN Charter (Art. 25) becomes itself a permanent Israeli aggression against Palestine justifying a right of self-defence of the Gaza people (cfr. A/RES/3314, Art. 1 and 3; UN Charter, Art. 51).

Furthermore, the blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza strip since June 2007 amounts to collective punishment of a civilian population forbidden by Art. 33 of the 4th 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.

Testifying during the recent New York session of the RToP, Jeanne Mirer, President of the International association of Democratic Lawyers, highlighted some of the most salient impacts of the Israeli blockade on the life of the 1.6 million people living in the Gaza strip:
– 95 % of the industrial establishments are closed of have suspended their activities, the remaining 5% work at 25 to 50 % of their capacity,
– Fishing boats are not allowed to go further than 3 miles off the coast, and risk being shot at even when they respect these distances. This severely impacts on their fishing capacity.
– Israel has unilaterally established all along the border a “no go” buffer zone which deprives the Gaza Strip of 35% of its agricultural land.
– The lack of drinkable water in the Gaza Strip is due to Israel’s practices and policies towards Gaza:
1. Israeli military operations against Gaza destroyed or rendered useless pipes and sewage: therefore, such operations amount to attacking objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population and violate Rule 54 of customary international humanitarian law;
2. the Israeli blockade of Gaza is an impediment to the repair of these hydraulic systems (violation of Rule 54 quoted here above);
3. the Israeli kibbutz located in the upper stream of the wadi Gaza, a river flowing from the West Bank to Gaza, capture most of its waters and violate the customary principle of the “reasonable and equitable” use of transboundary waters (1982 Helsinki Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses, Art. 2, 2, c; 1997 UN Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses, Art. 5; these conventions do not bind Israel but they express international custom).

Such grave violations of International Humanitarian Law by Israel entail the international community’s obligation to ensure compliance by Israel with international law. These obligations originate from common Art. 1 of the Geneva Conventions, which provides that “the High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances”.

In the current launching of the new Israeli assault on Gaza, it is important to state that contrary to Israeli claims, the escalation of violence started when Israeli forces conducted an incursion into Gaza on 8 November, opening fire towards an open area which lead to the killing of a 13 year-old boy.

Moreover, while the IOF is arguing that it focuses only on military targets, it has been proved during operation Cast Lead in 2008-9 that such so-called “surgical attacks” are impossible in such a tiny densely-populated area where there is no safe space and no bomb shelters. Attacks can thus only lead to the death of innocent civilians. Such indiscriminate military attacks on civilian population are forbidden under international Humanitarian law.

The UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict that followed the “Cast Lead operation” had stated that war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity had been committed. This never led to any further inquiry and no international sanctions were applied against those responsible. Such impunity allows Israel to launch this new military operation that will most certainly lead to an important number of civilian deaths and injuries, and aggravate the dire living conditions that the Gaza population has been enduing since the beginning of the blockade.

Throughout its international sessions, the RToP highlighted the responsibilities and omissions of third states and international organizations regarding Israel’s recognized violations of international law. Today, the RToP can only but reaffirm that only third party involvement for a full recognition of the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination could lead to a just and durable peace in the region. The way the international press is currently covering the “operation Pillar of Defence” and most official statements that are coming through from various western governments are not giving prospect for this to occur in the short term.

The RToP therefore calls for the mobilization of international public opinion to condemn this situation and use all available tools available to civil society to put pressure on their governments and members of parliament, so that they ensure compliance by Israel with international law.

Pierre GALAND
RToP General Coordinator
November 16 2012

The IDF hasbara

What would you do if rockets were striking your country? RT if you agree that has the right to self-defense. pic.twitter.com/mNfY0Smx

In response, journalist Lauren Booth, Tony Blair’s half-sister-in-law, tweeted: “yes Palestinians do have the right to defend themselves a good point well made”.

Another response – “How can it be self-defence if you started it?” – could easily have come from either side, summing up the seemingly unbridgeable gulf between the pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli sides as the argue over the conflict across various forms of media.

Mazin Qumsiyeh on Gaza

ACT: 64 ways to act http://qumsiyeh.org/whatyoucando/

People are subjected to massive well-funded propaganda trying to sell a
“product” that “Israel is defending itself” by massacring civilians in Gaza
(again) and engaging in extrajudicial executions of resistance fighters.
The truth is hard to hide as are the statistics: Over the last four days,
16 Palestinian civilians were killed including several children (while 3
Israelis were killed), and over 170 Palestinian civilians were injured
(very few Israelis).

Over 140 military excursions by the most
sophisticated US supplied war planes and navy ships on 1.5 million people
in a large open-air prison.  Anyone can find the pictures on the internet
of burned Palestinian babies, mutilated children, devastated neighborhoods,
and destroyed power plants and infrastructure.

The Gaza strip is one of the
most densely populated areas on earth thanks to the Israeli ethnic
cleansing creating the largest post-WWII refugee population on earth.
2/3rd of the 1.6 million people in this arid strip are refugees.

All
Israeli human rights violations are done by US funded horrific weapons for
which native Palestinians have no defense.  Home-made native projectiles
fair poorly as a response to the massacre by advanced technologies. Yet,
the US administration still sides with apartheid colonial Israel against
the native Palestinians and so are the governments of Britain and France
that are trying to live-up to their colonial activities.

Israeli
authorities intensified their attacks tonight after home-made projectiles
fired by resistance forces in Gaza landed in Rishon Le Zion (first colonial
settlement here) and Tel Aviv (first time since the gulf war that sirens
were heard in Israel’s de facto capital).  People of all backgrounds are
speaking out against these Israeli initiated attacks.  Here in Palestine,
we had demonstrations including against the silly bickering that the
factions go through.

There are also demonstrations around the world
demanding Israel end its aggression against this impoverished strip of land
full of refugees.  But we must do more than demonstrate and hold vigils.

Pictures from Gaza under attack: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIpBnbnraCY

Timeline of the recent Israeli attacks on Gaza
http://imeu.net/news/article0023227.shtml

There are names to these murdered civilians
“The Health Ministry in Gaza reported that among those killed on Wednesday
evening are Ahmad Misharawi, 11 months old; Ranan Arafat, 7 years old;
Issam Abu Izah, 23; and Mohamed Al Kasih, 19. ”
http://imemc.org/article/64557

Reports from AlJazeera
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/11/2012111419500140191.html

Take action:
1) 64 ways to act http://qumsiyeh.org/whatyoucando/
2) 1.2 million signed petition and took other actions to give Palestinian a
state and give Palestinians our rights.  I signed as a prelude to the
inevitable and logical and only durable solution: one democratic secular
state for all its people.
http://www.avaaz.org/en/palestine_worlds_next_nation_b/?kPZnccb

Also come visit us in Palestine (including Gaza)

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
In Beit Sahour
Palestine

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