Posts Tagged ‘Israeli blockade of Gaza’

Second Gaza aid flotilla prepares to set sail

June 20, 2010

Morning Star Online,  June  18, 2010

A coalition of solidarity organisations has confirmed its intention to send a second aid flotilla to break Tel Aviv’s illegal blockade of Gaza despite Israeli threats against any new sea-based aid delivery.

Rory Byrne, a spokesman for the European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza, said on Thursday that his group and others in the Freedom Flotilla Coalition have six ships and many activists who are ready and willing go to Gaza for an operation that, he hopes, will be larger than the one that Israel drowned in blood last month.

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Israel’s Flotilla ‘Investigation’

June 18, 2010

The New York Times, whose regional bureau chief has a son in the Israeli militaryreports that Israel has just appointed a panel charged with investigating its attack on an aid flotilla that killed nine aid volunteers, including a 19-year-old American.

Isabel Kershner, who is an Israeli citizen and has refused to answer questions about her possible family ties to the Israeli military, writes the report.

Kershner reports that the White House hailed the announcement of the panel as an “important step forward,” stating that “the structure and terms of reference of Israel’s proposed independent public commission can meet the standard of a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation.”

In her story, Kershner reports that the panel will include eminent Irish Nobel Peace Laureate Lord David Trimble as an observer, but omits the fact that Trimble is a leader of the newly formed pro-Israel organization “Friends of Israel” and is close to Netanyahu associate Dore Gold.

Irish journalist Patrick Roberts writes, “This is a little like putting the fox in charge of the hen house.”

Kershner reports that the other foreign observer is Brig. Gen. Ken Watkins, former judge advocate general of Canadian Forces, but fails to mention that Watkins is known for stonewalling a 2009 House of Commons investigation into Afghan prisoner abuse.

One House of Commons member commented at the time about Watkins’ lack of cooperation with the investigation: “Obviously the cover-up continues.”

Kershner informs readers that the panel will be led by a retired Israeli Supreme Court Justice, but fails to mention reports that he does not believe in such a panel and opposed foreign participation.

Kershner reports in the bottom half of her story that Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper calls the proposed panel a “farce,” but does not mention that this is a longstanding pattern for Israeli governmental investigations (and lack thereof) into military human rights abuses. For example:

    ° In 2009 eleven Israeli human rights organizations released a joint report in which they called on the Israeli government to “Stop whitewashing suspected crimes in Gaza.”
    ° In 2010 B’Tselem found that the Israeli military’s “cover-up of phosphorous shelling in Gaza proves army cannot investigate itself.” An Amnesty International report concurred in this conclusion, finding that Israel’s investigations into Cast Lead had not met “international standards of independence, impartiality, transparency, promptness and effectiveness.”

In her story Kershner reports Netanyahu’s allegation that the blockade “is necessary to prevent Hamas from smuggling in weapons or materials needed to make them, and to weaken Hamas control.”  She goes on to acknowledge that “there is a growing consensus abroad that the blockade has taken a toll mainly on civilians,” but neglects to report the fact that Israeli closures of Gaza preceded the election of Hamas and that the “toll” is massive and calamitous.

She also fails to include any of the vast evidence for such a consensus, for example:

    “Nearly 99 percent of Gaza’s 4,000 fishermen are now considered either poor (making between $100 and $190 a month) or very poor (earning less than $100 a month); there are acute, sometimes lethal shortages of fuel, cash, cooking gas and other basic supplies; 98 percent of industrial operations have been shut down since 2007; and 3,500 families are still displaced from last year’s invasion due to Israel’s blockade on building materials.”

Although the Israeli government has failed to investigate itself honestly and thoroughly through the years, a great many respected international human rights organizations from Christian Aid to the Red Cross have done so, documenting a pattern of widespread human rights abuses by the Israeli military.

In 2006 independent researchers Patrick O’Connor and Rachel Roberts found that since fall 2000:

    “[T]hree of the leading human rights organizations focusing on Israel/Palestine – Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Israeli organization B’Tselem – published 76 reports focused primarily on Israeli abuses of Palestinian rights, and four reports primarily focused on Palestinians abuses of Israeli or Palestinian rights. This weighting suggests that Israel has committed a disproportionate share of the human rights violations.”

During this time, the New York Times published two news stories on reports documenting Israeli human rights abuses and two stories on reports documenting Palestinian human rights abuses.

In other words, in its “even-handed” style, the New York Times covered fifty percent of the reports on human rights abuses committed by Palestinians, while covering under three percent of those detailing human rights abuses perpetrated by Israelis.

Cohn: Israel Murders Human Rights Workers Delivering Humanitarian Aid

May 31, 2010
by Marjorie Cohn,  CommonDreams.org, May 31, 2010

On Sunday, Israel murdered human rights workers who were attempting to deliver 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, because Gaza has been virtually cut off from the outside world by Israel. At least 19 people were reportedly killed and dozens injured when Israeli troops boarded the 6-ship Freedom Flotilla convoy in international waters and immediately fired live ammunition at the people on board the ships. The convoy was comprised of 700 people from 50 nationalities and included a Nobel laureate, members of parliament from Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Turkey and Malaysia, as well as Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset and a Holocaust survivor.

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WHO demands immediate end to Gaza blockade

May 19, 2010

Google News, May 18, 2010

(AFP)

GENEVA — The World Health Organization demanded Tuesday that Israel end a blockade on the occupied Palestinian territories, saying that it was causing a shortage of medicines, particularly in the Gaza Strip.

An annual meeting of the WHO — the World Health Assembly — this week in Geneva passed the resolution with 63 member states voting in favour. Eight states voted against, 51 abstained and another 63 were absent during the vote.

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U.S. congressman: U.S. should break Israel’s blockade of Gaza

February 15, 2010

Haaretz/Israel, Feb 15, 2010

By Associated Press

The United States should break Israel’s blockade of Gaza and deliver badly needed supplies by sea, a U.S. congressman told Gaza students.

Rep. Brian Baird, a Democrat from Washington state, also urged President Barack Obama’s Mideast envoy to visit the Hamas-ruled territory to get a firsthand look at the destruction caused by Israeli’s military offensive last year.

The Obama administration, like its predecessor, shuns Hamas because the
I slamic militant group refuses to recognize Israel or renounce violence.

Israel and Egypt have restricted access to Gaza since Hamas’ victory in parliament elections in 2006 and tightened the blockade after Hamas seized Gaza by force in 2007.

Israel allows humanitarian supplies and food into Gaza, but has kept out cement and other building supplies needed for reconstruction. Israel argues such materials could be diverted by Hamas for military use.

Baird, who has announced his retirement from Congress, told a group of Gaza students Sunday evening that the U.S. should not condone the blockade.

“We ought to bring roll-on, roll-off ships and roll them right to the beach and bring the relief supplies in, in our version of the Berlin airlift,” he said, adding that the supplies could be delivered to UN aid agencies.

On Saturday, the Palestinian Ma’an new agency, quoting the Strip’s Energy Authority, reported that Gaza’s sole power plant will cease functioning within hours due to a fuel shortage.

The Gaza Energy Authority wrote in a statement that while most of the power plant’s generators have been shut down, the remaining amount of fuel will only suffice to continue the plant’s electricity output for a few hours longer.

According to the Ma’an report, the Strip-based authority also claimed that the reduction of fuel transfers into Gaza continued, with the first week of February seeing 1,600 cubic meters of fuel entrring the costal enclave instead of the 2,200 cubic meters decided upon in an Israeli court decision.

Authorities appealed to international and humanitarian organizations, as well as Arab states and the Organization of the Islamic Conference to end the ongoing electricity deficit in Gaza.

Last week, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip inflicted “protracted suffering” on Palestinians.

He described the blockade as “unacceptable and counter-productive” to development and reconstruction in the war-torn territory.

Israel’s Gaza blockade continues to suffocate daily life

January 19, 2010

Amnesty international, 18 January 2010

Palestinian girls try to cross a flooded street, Shati refugee camp, Gaza City

Palestinian girls try to cross a flooded street, Shati refugee camp, Gaza City

© Associated Press

Israel must end its suffocating blockade of the Gaza Strip, which leaves more than 1.4 million Palestinians cut off from the outside world and struggling with desperate poverty, Amnesty International said one year on from the end of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.

Amnesty International’s briefing paper Suffocating: The Gaza Strip under Israeli blockade gathers testimony from people still struggling to rebuild their lives following Operation “Cast Lead”, which killed around 1,400 Palestinians and injured thousands more.

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Hosni Mubarak joins Israel in blockade of Gaza

January 18, 2010

Jean Shaoul, wsws.org, January 18, 2010

Egypt has intervened forcibly to prevent international aid reaching Gaza, and has implemented new measures aimed at further tightening Israel’s illegal and inhumane blockade.

Israel stopped all but the most essential food and medicine entering Gaza in June 2007. Hamas, the Islamist party which won the parliamentary elections against Fatah in January 2006, took control of Gaza in order to pre-empt a Fatah coup backed by Israel, the US, Jordan and Egypt. Israel has also banned virtually all exports from Gaza.

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Activists fall victim to Gaza blockade

December 31, 2009

By Middle East correspondent Anne Barker

ABC News, Dec 31, 2009

More than 1,300 international peace activists from 40 countries, including Australia, are in Egypt this week.

The self-styled “freedom marchers” include prominent authors, lawyers and journalists, many of them Jewish.

They had hoped to cross the border to Gaza for a planned protest today against Israel and its economic blockade of the area, but they too have fallen victim to the blockade.

When the peace activists arrived in Cairo, the Egyptian government all but banned them from travelling even to the Egyptian side of the Gaza border.

Two days ago, Egyptian police detained one group of protesters who had managed to cross the Sinai Desert and effectively placed them under house arrest on the grounds the march was illegal and the situation in Gaza was too sensitive.

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Wall on Gaza Violates International Law

December 13, 2009

by César Chelala, CommonDreams.org, Dec 14, 2009

The collusion between Egypt and the U.S. to build a wall separating Egypt from Gaza not only threatens Gazans’ health and quality of life, already severely deteriorated by the de facto Israeli blockade, it is a serious violation of international law.

According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, Egypt is installing an underground metal wall 70-100 feet deep along the border strip where Palestinians have dug a maze-like set of tunnels to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The construction of the wall, carried out with the collaboration of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, has been denied by the Egyptian government.

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Nuclear-armed Israel slams non-nuclear Iran

September 25, 2009

Middle East Online, Sep 25, 2009


Hypocrisy personified

UN-defying Israeli hardliner slams nations that did not walk out on Ahmadinejad’s speech.

UNITED NATIONS – Hardline Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly Thursday that Iran’s alleged quest for nuclear weapons was the greatest danger the world faces, in what observers say is an untrue hypocritical remark.

Nuclear-armed Israel is the only country in the Middle East that actually has nuclear weapons.

Although Israel was created by a UN resolution over 60 years ago, it is known for its defiance of the international community, especially when concerning UN resolutions on it’s illegal occupation of Arab land.

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