Wednesday, August 31, 2011
TEL AVIV, August 31, 2011 (WAFA) – The Israeli army is training Jewish settlers in the West Bank and supplying them with tear gas and stun grenades in preparation for “Operation Summer Seeds,” which aims to ready the Israeli army for Palestinian “mass disorder’ coinciding with the Palestinian bid to gain full United Nations membership of a Palestinian state within 1967 borders in September, said Haaretz newspaper on Tuesday.
Haaretz obtained a document that included a plan to train and arm Jewish settlers by the Israeli army. The latest activity was training sessions for the chief security officers of settlements, held at a military installation near Shiloh in the northern West Bank on Monday.
Moreover, the Israeli army has been training the readiness squads of settlements for several weeks at the Lachish base, which is used as a command training center, ahead of September.
Haaretz reported on two defense lines being set up by the Israeli army around settlements near Palestinian villages; the first, if crossed by Palestinian demonstrators, will be met with tear gas and other means for dispersing crowds. At the second, the “red line,” if crossed, would allow Israeli soldiers to open fire at Palestinians’ feet.
Israeli Army Trains, Arms Jewish Settlers against Palestinians
Speaking to a meeting of France's global ambassadors, the French leader said that peace would not come without a Palestinian State and this would ensure Israel's security.
"Any other choice is a folly for Israel," the French President told the ambassadors' corp.
"The parameters (of a peace agreement) are known," he said.
He also urged the 27-nation European Union to close ranks and find a common position on the controversial Palestinian recognition demand, which has split the EU and has met with a hostile reaction from Israel and the United States.
"Not matter what the result, we will have a peace process to build," Sarkozy insisted.
He criticized the approach to negotiations at the present time and he said the process had not worked.
"The method of negotiations is not the right one," he remarked, adding that there must be a move "to enlarge the circle of negotiators." He pointed out that the EU was Israel's largest trading partner and the biggest financial backer of the Palestinians and it should have a place at the negotiating table.
"Europe does not have to ask for a back seat... it is a partner in the negotiations," he affirmed.
He also said that the US role in the negotiations was "essential" and unquestionable, but he urged that Europe, also, play its full role.
Palestinian State is only guarantee for Israeli security - Sarkozy
Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli soldiers held Yousif at the checkpoint for hours before detaining him.
Senior Hamas official Ahmad Bahar condemned the detention and said that the policy of targeting lawmakers will not break the will of the Palestinian people.
Sheikh Yousif was released a few days ago having spent six years in Israeli jails.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged fellow EU countries on Wednesday to find a united stance on the issue of Palestinian statehood for next month's UN General Assembly, while pressuring the US to step up its efforts to sow peace in the region.
REUTERS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Wednesday he wanted to see a united European Union voice on the issue of Palestinian statehood at next month's United
Nations General Assembly and urged Washington to do more for peace.
"The 27 countries of the European Union must express themselves with one voice," Sarkozy said in an opening speech to an annual conference of French ambassadors.
"The role of the U.S. is uncontested and irreplaceable, but everybody sees that it is not enough. We have to widen the circle of negotiation, think of the role and pertinence of the
Sarkozy said the world could not continue to leave the Palestinian peace process frozen while the Arab Spring forces change elsewhere in the region.
“Hamas and other terrorist organisations in Gaza must know that they are wrong to test our strength and that any attempt to harm the citizens of Israel will result in a severe response,” Gantz said in remarks which were released by the army on Wednesday.
“We must be prepared for any threat.”
Avi Dichter, a former head of the Shin Bet internal security service now an opposition MP, said that by using Egyptian territory to stage attacks, Hamas and other Gaza militants were seeking to retain a role in Palestinian political efforts to win statehood, without taking the responsibility.
“The moment that the terror organisations in the strip understood that terror activity from Gaza directly at Israel makes the campaign they plan for September in the UN assembly very difficult, the alternative is a bypass...from Gaza to Sinai and from Sinai into Israel,” he told Israeli public radio.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and his West Bank-based Palestinian Authority are to request membership of the United Nations on September 20 when world leaders begin gathering in New York for the 66th session of the General Assembly.
“Hamas has no small desire to try to follow the Palestinian Authority line and gain a bit of legitimacy,” Dichter said. “It seems that their solution is by attacks though Sinai which involves the Egyptians and absolves Hamas, in their opinion, of responsibility for any attacks.”
Gantz on Sunday raised the level of alert along the Israeli-Egyptian border and around the Gaza Strip, beefing up the number of troops in both areas over specific intelligence warnings that militants were planning a fresh attack on southern Israel.
“The defence establishment has received a warning that a terror cell in Sinai, comprised of more than 10 terrorists, is going to try and carry out an attack,” Home Front Defence Minister Matan Vilnai told Israeli reporters on Tuesday.
“Jihad has been trying to launch attacks from Sinai for a long time,” he said.
On August 18, a group of gunmen crossed the Egyptian border and killed eight Israelis on route 12, a desert road which flanks the frontier just north of the Red Sea resort of Eilat.
The deadly attacks, which Israel blamed on Gaza militants, sparked a week of bloody clashes, with the air force staging multiple air strikes on Gaza killing 27 people, and militants there lobbing over 150 rockets over the border, killing one Israeli.
Militants in Gaza have so far held to a weekend truce agreement, although Israeli press reports speculated they were planning a fresh attack to avenge the deaths of those killed in the air strikes.
Officials shut down route 12 as well as another road which skirts the Egyptian border, and the military was also preparing for the possibility militants could fire rockets from Sinai towards Eilat, the Haaretz newspaper reported.
In a separate development, the navy on Tuesday deployed two missile boats just outside Eilat in what the military said was part of a “routine exercise.”
Israeli press reports said it was unlikely that the boats’ deployment was linked to the high state of alert in the south, but it came as Tehran’s top naval commander said Iran had dispatched a submarine and a warship to the Red Sea on a “patrol mission,” state television reported.
Don’t test us, Israel army chief warns Gaza militants
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
The head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee is asking Congress to block U.S. funds for any United Nations entity that supports giving Palestine an elevated status at the UN.Republican congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is also seeking to ban US contributions to the UN Human Rights Council and an anti-racism conference seen as a platform for anti-Israel rhetoric. (AP)
PNN - Palestine News Network
|Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says the Israeli murder of nine activists aboard the Mavi Marmara was in accordance with international law[GALLO/GETTY]
The release of the findings of the UN panel of inquiry into the May 2010 Israeli attack on the Turkish Mavi Marmara, part of the Freedom Flotilla endeavoring to deliver aid to besieged Gaza, was recently delayed for the fourth time since the originally scheduled release date over three months ago.
Israel initially claimed the delay occurred at the behest of Turkey; Turkey claimed it happened at the behest of Israel. The latter version of events would seem to be validated by a Sunday report on Israel's Channel 2, according to which Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has asked the US to delay the release another six months. According to Haaretz, the UN panel's findings will nonetheless be published this Friday.
Either way, the latest delay follows Netanyahu's unsurprising affirmation that Israel will not apologise for the deaths of eight Turkish activists and one 19-year-old Turkish-American activist shot - most of them execution-style - by Israeli commandos (IDF) who intercepted the ship.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned of a Turkish "Plan B" in the event that an Israeli apology does not indeed materialise.
Inverting cause and effect
From the point of view of the Israeli regime, an apology is not required given that the IDF commandos, and not the slaughtered activists, were the victims of the encounter at sea.
This innovative approach to logic was presented by IDF spokeswoman Avital Liebovitch at a post-attack press briefing, during which she announced that the passengers of the Mavi Marmara had engaged in "severe violence against our soldiers". Liebovitch's alarming summary of premeditated passenger violence involving weapons "grabbed" from commandos did not address the issue of why the IDF had not thus thrown a wrench in the works by simply refraining from raiding the ship.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed the violent intentions of the seafarers by adding the category, "Weapons found on Mavi Marmara" to its Flickr photostream and uploading images of marbles, kitchen knives, keffiyehs, and a metal pail. Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon's detection of ties between the Gaza flotilla and global Jihad was additionally upheld by a Flickr photograph featuring a slingshot colourfully decorated with stars and the label "Hezbollah".
The Foreign Ministry has yet to explain whether Hezbollah always labels its Gaza-bound slingshots in English, or why the photograph is specified as having been taken on February 7, 2006, i.e., over four years prior to the flotilla attack.
As for the Israeli proclivity for inverting cause-and-effect relationships - such that commandos who shoot guns while descending from helicopters onto boats become the victims of the unarmed humanitarian activists onto whom they are descending - an application of this formula to other phenomena in the physical world results in the unexpected discovery that slabs of meat impale themselves on butcher knives and that armadillos attack the wheels of cars.
Quite fortunately for Israel, its acrobatics in defiance of truth are sanctioned by regrettably influential media figures like New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman, who obediently assigned quotation marks to the "flotilla of 'humanitarian' activists" in his analysis of the maritime confrontation.
Along with his decree that "[t]here is no question that this flotilla was a setup", Friedman's reference to the "violent confrontation that the blockade-busters wanted" echoed the assessment by Israeli government spokesman extraordinaire Mark Regev that the flotilla passengers were intent on accruing "headlines for their cause" by "initiat[ing] violence".
Resurrecting his Operation Cast Lead-era philosophy that persons wanting to critique Israel's actions in Gaza should recall that Islamist suicide bombers were also blowing up people in Iraq, Friedman updated the prerequisites for post-flotilla criticism of Israel to include more examples of unsavory behavior by regional Arabs and Muslims, such as that Syria was a suspect in the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. He subsequently warned of a "trend, both deliberate and inadvertent, to delegitimise Israel", resulting in a situation in which, "[i]f you just landed from Mars, you might think that Israel is the only country that has killed civilians in war".
Leaving aside the minor detail that Israel was not at war with the Mavi Marmara, hypothetical Martian visitors might also be confused by other formulaic discrepancies such as the complete lack of suicide terrorism in Iraq prior to the US invasion and the fact that Islamist suicide bombers are not the primary recipients of military aid from the global superpower. Some Martians might even be inclined to assign blame for encouraging "violent confrontation" not to humanitarian aid flotillas but rather to foreign affairs columnists for the US newspaper of record who champion the mass killing of civilians in Gaza and Lebanon and advocate for civil war in Iraq.
As for the project to delegitimise Israel, I was able to witness this firsthand last year when I attended the funeral ceremony at Istanbul's Beyazit mosque for Cevdet Kiliclar, one of Friedman's "'humanitarian' activists".
For non-Martians trained in the strategic proliferation of quotation marks, the scene might have been described as consisting of thousands of "mourners", including "women", "children", and "students", who had gathered to celebrate the "killing" of their "compatriot" and the opportunities it provided to sell headbands declaring "Hepimiz Filistinliyiz - We are all Palestinian".
From Colombia to Gaza
Other popular Turkish slogans from this time period emerged from Erdogan's post-massacre assessment that Israel had committed "inhumane state terrorism".
Accurate as this depiction may be, it would have carried more ethical weight had, say, the Turkish military not proceeded with its acquisition of Israeli-manufactured Heron drones to aid in domestic "counterterrorism efforts" against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
As for state terrorism on other continents, the appointment last year of former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to the post of vice-chairman of the four-person UN panel of inquiry into the Mavi Marmara incident was curious, given the intimate association of his name with the military and paramilitary practice of killing civilians. To his credit, however, Uribe has never argued that Colombian soldiers who - in potentially thousands of instances - murdered civilians and dressed the corpses in guerrilla attire in order to receive bonus pay and extra vacation time, were in fact the victims of said corpses.
Despite the repeated delay of the release of the UN panel's findings - referred to as the "Palmer report" in honour of its chairman, former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer - Haaretz journalist Barak Ravid cites "a political source in Jerusalem" as revealing that:
"According to the final draft of the probe, Israel is not asked to apologise to Turkey, but the report does recommend it expresses regret over the casualties. The Palmer Report also doesn't ask Israel to pay compensation, but proposes Israel transfer money to a specially-created humanitarian fund."
The source also reports the panel's conclusion that "the Israeli naval blockade on Gaza is legal and is in accordance with international law", in which case the UN panel would be contradicting the UN on the issue of the legality of the Gaza siege.
As for the "Plan B" that Erdogan has threatened to pursue if Israel fails to issue an apology, compensate fatalities, and cease blockading Gaza, the Turkish newspaper HaberTurk lists the components of this plan, which are said to include a visit to Gaza next month by Erdogan, a suit against the Israeli government and relevant soldiers, and a reduction in defense cooperation and economic ties.
Turkey will additionally refrain from reinstalling an ambassador in Tel Aviv, a post that has been vacant since the Mavi Marmara incident, and will refuse to accept a replacement Israeli ambassador to Turkey when the current one terminates his stint in September.
The position of the Turkish ambassador to Israel is one that has been traditionally characterised by ups and downs, both figurative and literal. At a January 2010 meeting in Jerusalem, for example, then-ambassador Oguz Celikkol was deliberately seated at a lower altitude than his Israeli interlocutors, who were displeased with the portrayal of Mossad in the popular Turkish television series Kurtlar Vadisi or Valley of the Wolves.
The Israeli government eventually apologised for the treatment of Celikkol, setting the dangerous precedent that is perhaps to thank for Erdogan's current conviction that Israel can indeed be made to apologise for things.
Given that the Mavi Marmara attack was made the focus of the plot of the 2011 film "Valley of the Wolves: Palestine", based on the TV series, it is possible that any renewed Turkish ambassadorial presence in Israel will be greeted with seating arrangements even more proximate to the floor.
For more information on other sorts of diplomatic posts, one may meanwhile refer to a website devoted to cultivating "Novice Ambassadors" for Israel. Established by the Israeli Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, the site purports to "make it possible for each one of us to arm ourselves with information and pride in Israel's global contributions and history and to present a more realistic image of Israel to the world".
Rather than focus on realistic Israeli global historical contributions such as the elimination of approximately 1,400 persons, primarily civilians, in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, prospective ambassadors are instead called upon to dispel such alleged myths as that camels are the primary mode of transport in Israel and that cooking methods are primitive.
An arsenal of rotating factoids is provided on the right side of the screen for use in countering "barbs of criticism" leveled against the Jewish state. Bits of trivia include that "An Israeli invention for an electric hair removal device makes women happy all over the world" and that "Each month Israelis consume close to 15m bags of [the snack food] Bamba; every fourth snack sold in Israel is Bamba, and 1,000 bags of Bamba are manufactured every month".
As for the utility of Bamba snacks and global-female-happiness-inducing razor components in obscuring the significance of human principles and human suffering, this may only be further reinforced by a gradual sinking of the Mavi Marmara beneath an eternal debate over whether Israel is sorry for killing civilians or whether it merely regrets that they caused their own deaths.
Belen Fernandez is an editor at PULSE Media. Her book The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Workwill be released by Verso on November 1, 2011.
Opinion - Al Jazeera English
Monday, August 29, 2011
CAIRO, August 29, 2011 (WAFA) – The European aid convoy, Border Martyrs, arrived in the Sinai in preparation to enter Gaza through Rafah crossing, Monday said Jaber al-Arab, chairman of the Egyptian Red Crescent in North Sinai.
The convoy includes 100 Arab and foreign activists and consists of 10 cars for the disabled, milk and 25 tons of medicine and medical equipments.
Al-Arab said that the Egyptian and Palestinian Red Crescents finished all procedures for the entrance of the convoy to Gaza, stressing the Egyptian Red Crescent’s continuing role in facilitating the entrance of all domestic and foreign aids to the besieged Gaza strip.
The Border Martyrs Convoy, which is used to be called Miles of Smiles, changed its name to honor Egyptian soldiers recently killed by Israeli soldiers.
security officers forcefully prevented them from covering a demonstration in the
West Bank city of Bethlehem. [MaanImages/Luay Sababa]
Dear Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
Dear President Mahmoud Abbas,
Dear Ismail Haniyeh,
We, a forum of journalists from Israel and the Palestinian Territories, are writing today to urge you as the leaders of Israel, the Palestinian National Authority and Gaza to respect the rights of journalists operating in your territories.
The IPI Israeli-Palestinian Journalists Forum is a group of 25 journalists from Israel and Palestinian Territories who gathered together in support of press freedom in June 2011 in Vienna at the initiative of the International Press Institute (IPI), the world's oldest press freedom organization.
The Palestinian National Authority is currently working toward the recognition of a Palestinian state by the United Nations. This is a matter of interest to the region and the world, but moreover, to every person living in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. That is why journalists working for Palestinian and Israeli media must be allowed to do their work without restriction. This is a matter of democratic principle. Journalists must be allowed to access and gather information without restriction. Journalists must also be free to responsibly publish news and commentary, without fear of attack or legal reprisal.
This is necessary so that the public in Israel and the Palestinian Territories have access to news from all sides, and to a wide array of political opinion. Journalists must be kept safe so that the people they serve can be kept informed.
The recent events in south Israel and Gaza make press more important than ever. Journalists must be permitted to work on the ground, so that they can report on the social and humanitarian aspects of attacks on all sides, and not just on military and political news. When journalists are prevented from travelling, or are arrested or threatened with attack, they are less able and less likely to report in-depth stories from the other side, and it is the public that suffers because it receives limited information.
Meeting at their first session in 1946, the U.N. General Assembly declared: "Freedom of information is a fundamental human right and is the touchstone of all the freedoms to which the United Nations is consecrated. Freedom of information implies the right to gather, transmit and publish news anywhere and everywhere without fetters. As such it is an essential factor in any serious effort to promote the peace and progress of the world."
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
We hope that you, as leaders in the region, will respect the rights of each person living in Israel and the Palestinian Territories to access information and news that will help them to understand and make informed decisions about their government and future.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to your response, and would be happy to meet and discuss this issue with you at your convenience.
Steering Committee IPI -Israeli-Palestinian Journalists Forum (IPJF)
Taghreed El Khodary
Alison Bethel McKenzie
Director - International Press Institute (IPI)
CAIRO: Israel has intensified security measures along the southern border with the Sinai Peninsula and the blockaded Gaza Strip fearing a possible militant attack, Israeli papers reported Monday.
Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) deployed on Monday morning extra military troops along the border in the wake of intelligence information that Palestinian militants were planning a large attack against Israel, Israel-based Jerusalem Post reported.
The IDF updated the Egyptian military about the decision, the report added.
According to another Israeli paper, Haaretz, an Israeli security source made it clear the IDF will hold the Palestinian Hamas faction responsible for any terrorist attack originating from the Gaza Strip.
Haaretz reported that there are indications that members of the Islamic Jihad currently in Sinai, and despite the recent ceasefire want to carry out a new attack.
An Israeli security official was also quoted by Haaretz as saying that the array of tunnels along the border allowed members of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) to cross from Gaza to Sinai and carry out the recent attacks in Israel.
Egypt, however, has no right to deploy extra forces across the border with Israel as per the restrictions of the 1979 Peace Treaty.
Recent unconfirmed reports said the Egyptian side would seek to amend an article in the agreement about border security in order to allow Egypt to deploy more forces to secure the border.
Egypt can only deploy 750 troops in Zone C covering 220 kilometers along the Egyptian border with Israel and the blockaded Gaza Strip.
No helicopters, heavy artillery or boats are allowed to be used inside this zone to protect the border which is believed to have led to the infiltration of militant groups from Gaza as well as arms trafficking.
Egypt and Israel have seen relations strain recently following the killing of five Egyptian policemen, including one officer, by Israeli forces in crossfire with militants on the border on Aug. 18. The incident was preceded by three attacks that killed eight a few hours earlier in Israel.
Israeli officials were quick to blame the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip for the triple assault, criticizing Egypt for losing control over security in North and South Sinai.
Israel intensifies security on border with Sinai, Gaza, say reports
Police visited the victim in Al-Ahli hospital and have opened an investigation into the incident.
Locals were advised to take extra precaution and avoid contact with settlers.
Maan News Agency:
29 August 2011
AMMAN — EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Monday it is up to the Palestinians to decide their approach at the United Nations, where they will seek full UN membership next month.
Ashton, on a tour to push Israel and the Palestinians to resume direct negotiations, said she “talked to both sides about a range of possibilities and there is not yet a resolution of any kind on the table for September.”
“It is for the Palestinians to decide themselves the approach they want to take at the UN,” Ashton told a joint news conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh in Amman before meeting King Abdullah II.
“They will do so in dialogue I am sure with colleagues from Arab countries and in full knowledge of the implications for the rest of us.”
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said on Sunday that UN membership would change the “legal formula” of Palestinian situation.
“An international recognition of our state based on the 1967 borders will make it a state under occupation. It will change the legal formula of our situation,” he told Jordan’s Al-Dustur daily and Qatar’s Al-Watan in a joint interview.
“The UN will be our reference. Israel of course will continue its pressure to prevent us from growing.”
Ashton said: “I would hope to see something that the European Union is able to support... if you take the decision to go forward and that you are guided by what will happen afterwards...”
She has said the EU position would depend on the wording of the Palestinian proposal to be presented to UN chief Ban Ki-moon on September 20.
Palestinians expect “more than 150 countries” of the 192 UN member states to endorse their membership, although Europe is still divided over the bid.
Ashton arrived in the region on Saturday for a three-day visit aimed at pushing Israel and the Palestinians to resume direct talks, which have been on hold since last September in an intractable dispute over Jewish settlement building.
“I believe it is a time of change with what we are seeing in the neighbourhood, the events in Syria and what is happening in Libya,” she said, referring to pro-democracy uprisings.
“It is even more important to deal with this issue and get the current leaderships (Israeli and Palestinian) to see their responsibilities lie in finding a peaceful solution for their people.
JERUSALEM, August 29, 2011 (WAFA) – Extremist Israeli settler groups are planning to seize Palestinian land in East Jerusalem neighborhoods in order to isolate them from the Old City, Monday said the Committee for the Defense of Silwan.
It said that the takeover of land has reached its high point with plans to build Talmudic parks around Jerusalem’s Old City Wall, particularly the area near Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The goal of these groups is to isolate Al-Aqsa Mosque from its surroundings in preparation for dividing it.
Based on the plan, the settlers seize abandoned Palestinian land, plant it with trees, surround it with fences and close roads leading to it from neighboring areas to prevent Palestinians from reaching their land, it said.
The committee called on Arab and Islamic rights groups to immediately intervene and invest in developing this land to save it from the Israeli plans.
NABLUS, (PIC)-- Israeli Prison Service special units wreaked havoc on prisoners’ belongings in the Megiddo prison in a search raid on Sunday morning, a rights group with contacts inside the prison said.
Meanwhile, nine prisoners, most of whom were recently arrested in raids on Al-Khalil in the West Bank, have been placed under administrative detention after recommendations by the Israeli Attorney General, the International Solidarity Foundation for Human Rights also reported.
IPS intervention unit Nahshon raided Room 9 in Section 5 of the Megiddo prison causing damages to private property and causing the prisoners to miss the meal before the Ramadan fast, said ISFHR researcher Ahmed al-Beitawi.
The ISFHR also said, quoting imprisoned reporter Nawwaf al-Amir, programs director at Al-Quds Channel, that there is an acute shortage of clothes at the prison as the Eid al-Fitr holiday, marking the end of Ramadan, draws nearer.
He said that the prison has refused to allow items of clothing into the prison except during family visits, forcing prisoners to lend out clothes among themselves.
In addition, West Bank prisoner rights expert Fouad al-Khafsh said that prisoners have returned medicines to the prison ward because they were received without the packaging, sparking doubts to whether or not they were expired.
Khafsh also pointed out that the prison eye doctor has been available to the prisoners only once every six months.
He added that the recreational area of the prison is extremely constricted and does not have enough space for all the inmates. He said that some 620 prisoners go together to a yard no larger than 20 x 6 meters.
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed the eastern suburb of Jenin city before dawn Tuesday and took away two Palestinians after spraying the entire neighborhood with tear gas.
Eyewitnesses told the PIC reporter that ten citizens suffered breathing difficulty as a result of the extensive use of the teargas bombs in the midst of the civilian population.
They said that a 28-year-old man was taken from his home after thoroughly searching it while a second was taken from the Old City.
into the northern West Bank city of Jenin on December 30, 2005.
Palestinian security officials told Ma'an Israeli forces entered a number of homes, and Palestinian youths gathered to threw stones at the soldiers.
The army responded with tear gas, and Yousif Abu Saleim, 28 and Muhammad Abu Samara, 23, were transferred to Jenin public hospital for gas inhalation, the officials said.
Israeli forces detained two men in Jenin's old city, identified as 34-year-old Alaa Fathi Sadiq, and 22-year-old Muhin Abu Ubeid.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said three people were detained in the area overnight, two from Jenin and another from southwest of the city. They were all taken for "security questioning," she said.
During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast during daylight hours and celebrate from dusk, heightening risk of confrontation during night raids by Israeli forces.
Israeli security received a warning indicating the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine is plotting an attack against Israel, the radio added. In addition to a recent armed attack that killed eight Israelis two week ago.(end)
Conversations are strange over here. When you are told a horrible story by somebody, or you hear yet another example of the brutality Palestinians experience as part of their daily lives, you find yourself eerily laughing along with them. It’s as if the spectrum of human emotions has buckled under strain and flipped back on itself, making up become downward and left turn into right. Perhaps this was just a coping mechanism.
Such was the atmosphere when we interviewed Bardran Jabbal , a geography and sociology lecturer at Hebron Polytechnic University. We went to interview him following the arrest of four people on his street, along with roughly 120 others from Hebron that same night of Saturday 20th of August in one of the biggest mass arrests the area has seen in years.
We ended up chatting with him for two hours, along with one of his sons, and the topic trailed far away from the arrests into interesting territories–or what was left of them.
We were keen to know about what kind of treatment the recent detainees could expect, and he seemed to be the perfect person to speak to, considering he has spent 20 years in Israeli prisons over the course of his life as have each of his sons., under the British mandate laws that allow people to be arrested without any evidence or charge for up to six months, a sentence which can be renewed at any time.
When one of his sons was 11, he was walking down the road with his pet bird between his hands. Israeli soldiers ran after him, causing him to let the bird out of his grip. They imprisoned him for two weeks for “throwing stones.”
Each of his sons have spent sentences (ranging from 3 months to seven years) for either being members of a Palestinian political party or nothing at all . These prisoners are held separately from the likes of rapists and drug dealers who are held in “civil prisons,” all political prisoners are detained in “security prisons.”
Badran himself has spent 20 years in Israeli security prisons over the course of his life, in separate sentences between 1967 and 2007. Three of his children were born while he was in prison. He never saw one of his sons until he was five years old, who refused to believe for sometime that he was his actual father, and tried to attack him to get him out of the house considering the only father he knew was a picture on the wall.
Discussing what conditions the prisoners could expect to face, he told us that human rights organizations pressuring since the 80s, the torture has shifted more to psychological methods.
One example he provided was when they produced a fake document from the International Red Cross Society saying that his wife had died and that his five children were now living on their own. They wanted him to sign it to “hand custody over to their grandparents.” Second-guessing them, he told them that his wife had died willingly as he had met another woman three months previously, and she had sacrificed herself to make way for their relationship.
Later when he was being driven to court in a police vehicle, he saw his wife walking down the street through a tiny window in the armed car.
However a shift to psychological torture in no means should suggest that the prisoners are treated well, he warned. Where in the West we are arrested by means of a warrant, the army here uses sound bombs, teargas and live ammo in the houses they raid, whether they soldiers are met with resistance or not. Once arrested, their eyes are blindfolded and their hands are cuffed to their legs, and they can expect to stay in this position in the transit van for up to four days without food or water before even reaching prison.
Badran estimates that he spent roughly 100 days in the course of his 20 years as an inmate in this position staring at a wall for days on end without food or water. In prison, inmates are expected to pay for their own food at Israeli market prices, and if they don’t ,they don’t get enough to survive. Another way that inmates are tested physiologically is by being held in “fake prisons” full of Israeli informants. This is particularly difficult considering the sense of solidarity Badran tells us that the inmates have with one another in order to survive.
On top of jail sentences, Badran told us that he feels that arrests are run like a business. If somebody is released without charge (which is more often than not the case) they still have to pay a fine at the officer’s discretion. All of his sons have paid up to 15,000 shekels along with their prison sentences. Soldiers routinely loot the houses of the people they are about to arrest or simply destroy them.
One of his friends managed to get his stolen goods back from a soldier, as he managed to take a picture of him in the act. This is a rare case however, considering the soldiers wear face masks, and obviously don’t give away their identities willingly.
Badran was even sceptical about the amount that of influence that the Israeli government has over the IDF. He says that settlement plans, ruled out as illegal by the High courts, are often carried out in spite of this. Another example he gave, was when the High Court ordered his release from prison. He was released and re-arrested on the doorstep for another year.
Palestinians also need to get permission from military officers to plant their crops.
We asked him about the attack on an Israeli coach last Thursday in Eilat , and asked him what the connection this had to the arrests made in Hebron. He was aware that there was no connection, and the shootings were just an excuse to arrest anybody they could.
We proposed the idea that it may have been Israel themselves who carried out the shootings, considering nobody, including Hamas had claimed responsibility for them. He said he wouldn’t put it past them, and used the example of Ben Gurion bombing a ship full of Jews in the 40’s in the Mediterranean, to gain sympathy for the state of Israel.
“Generally when a resistance group carries out such attacks, they are keen to claim responsibility. They have served as an excuse to bomb Gaza from the air without mercy ever since,” he said.
He also drew a connection between the recent protests from within Israel against their governments economic policies, which seemed apt considering many marches in the likes of Tel Aviv were called off in light of the attacks.
The conversation ended with Badran comparing the sentences of Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison for resisting the apartheid system under which he and his people lived. He compared it to the Palestinian political prisoners (including two of his brothers) who have spent 34 years in jail.
Over 400 political prisoners have spent over 25 years in prison without release.
Interview sheds light on Israeli prison-colonial complex | International Solidarity Movement
The trial for the two Palestinians implicated in the 15 April kidnapping and murder of the Italian journalist and activist should begin on 8 September 2011.
(ROME) - In recent days we have truly felt the loss of Vittorio Arrigoni. The man we loved to call “Vik” spoiled us with accurate real time information on what was happening in Gaza, without neglecting the smallest of details. His contribution would have been invaluable during these hours that the Gaza Strip is reliving the fear of Israeli bombing, “targeted” attacks which are not really so targeted and tanks ready to engage in devastating raids deep into the strip of Palestinian land which always ends up paying for everyone.
Even now Vik could have told us much, but young assassins allegedly from the Salafist group “Tawhid Wal Jihad” – apparently wanting to establish themselves as an armed group by means of the important kidnapping last 15 April, ripped Vittorio away from his family and friends and to many others in Italy (and not only Italy) who followed his daily updates about the plight of Gaza.
Did things really go as the seem? There are many unresolved mysteries and few certainties. In any case, the hypothesis that Vittorio’s murder was directed by external forces is not to be discarded. Perhaps we will finally know more on 8 September when the first hearing shall take place for at least one of the assassins. For the moment, this hypothesis is only an indiscretion passed along to Il Manifesto (Italian newspaper) by a well informed Gazan journalist with good sources of information within the Hamas government who has requested anonymity. Caution is obligatory in light of the reticent behaviour bordering on ambiguity shown by the Islamic movement since 15 April when Vik was killed. This comportment has not changed despite the assurances offered on many occasions to Vittorio’s family by the foreign secretary of the Hamas government, Ghazi Hazad.
The government of Gaza has yet to make an official announcement about the inquiries made over the last months and through their representatives have advanced rather vague hypotheses to Il Manifesto about the organizers and those that carried out Vik’s murder. Non only that, but our source added that on 11 August a preliminary hearing of the trial was held. And just two months ago, the Hamas government refused to share their files containing the results of the investigations done over the last months with the lawyers of Vittorio’s parents.
The investigation implemented by the military prosecutors in Gaza was closed in the second half of June and the files were delivered to the military judges that subsequently decided to put two Palestinians (presently in jail) involved in the homicide to trial (two others were killed in a shootout with special Hamas troops immediately after Vik’s assassination). It is clear that the trial and the publication of the minutes of the interrogations of the accused will have exceptional weight in understanding the reasons of Vittorio’s assassination, who was held in high esteem among Gazans. Unfortunately however, the Gazan authorities have refused to release those files so far because Vik’s mother and father signed an imperfect power of attorney on behalf of the Centre for Palestinian Human Rights of Gaza. According to the military judges in Gaza, the Arabic translation of the power of attorney should have been done by the Palestinian Delegation in Italy, with the proper stamp affixed, in addition to another stamp from the Italian Foreign Office.
Over the last weeks, the lawyers of the Arrigoni family in Italy have been working hard to meet the demands of Gaza and the stamps required by Hamas for the delivery of the files. The hope is to get them to Gaza before the opening of the trial. But the obstacles to overcome are still many, beginning with the heavy restrictive Israeli measures that limit the ability of Gaza residents to receive mail from another country (for important documents it is required to use a courier). Additionally, it is uncertain whether or not there will be an open door trial with access permitted to the foreign press.
VITTORIO ARRIGONI:- Salem-News.Com
RAMALLAH, August 28, 2011 (WAFA) – Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs, Issa Qaraqe, Sunday said that Israel is the largest international trade center for body parts, due to its continuous trafficking of the remains of Palestinian bodies, which are held by the Israeli government.
During a speech he delivered in the national day of the Campaign to Recover the Remains of Palestinians and Arabs from Israel, as well as to reveal the fate of missing persons in Israel, Qaraqe said Israel is violating the international law, agreements and norms by continuing to withhold the remains of Palestinians, which is what he called a 'heinous crime'.
He called to activate the Arab League resolutions in 2009, which demanded to investigate the Israeli crimes, take legal actions against the occupation and address this issue in the United Nations Human Rights report.
'Israel is withholding the remains of the murdered to avenge them and their families, as well as to cover up crimes against their bodies to escape legal accountability,' he added.
Ali Khashan, the minister of justice, attended the national day and said that there's no legal or humanitarian reason to withhold remains of the dead, considering all the Israeli political excuses as 'flimsy'.
He stressed the issue as a 'distinct humanitarian cause,' which strips away the Palestinian dead rights of a dignified burial in accordance to religious ceremonies and traditions.
Khashan said that other Arab states are preparing legal files to pursue the retrieval of their citizens' remains from Israel.
General-Director of Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights organization, Issam Abu al-Haj, said that the campaign, in cooperation with ministries of justice and prisoners, documented 338 cases of Israel's withholding remains of Palestinians and Arabs.Abu al-Haj questioned the International Red Cross' silence on the matter and refused Israel's attempts to put the issue to negotiations, despite the fact that the campaign was able to force Israel to admit to large numbers of Palestinian and Arab dead.
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israelis protested Sunday near Israel’s southern border with Gaza to mark the 25th birthday of soldier Gilad Shalit, who was snatched by Palestinian militants in June 2006, an organizer said.
Around 100 supporters gathered at the Kerem Shalom border crossing, close to where Shalit was captured in a cross-border raid from the Gaza Strip which left two other soldiers dead and three wounded.
“We came because we must put an end to the situation where the Gaza Strip is open to [the import of] goods, but Gilad Shalit for all these years remains a prisoner of Hamas,” organizer Tzahi Leon told AFP by phone.
Demonstrators waving signs called on lorry drivers heading for the strip to turn back but did not resist police orders to clear the road to the border, a police spokeswoman said.
Earlier, Shalit’s parents and their supporters had rallied outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Jerusalem office where ministers were holding their weekly cabinet meeting, local media reported.
Father Noam Shalit held up a sign reading, “Netanyahu: You have no mandate to kill Gilad,” while his wife Aviva carried a sign asking the prime minister for “A birthday present for Gilad – his life back.”
To mark the birthday of the soldier, who holds French as well as Israeli citizenship, French President Nicolas Sarkozy sent a letter which was delivered to his parents Sunday, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.
“Dear Gilad, France will not forget you,” it read.
Noam Shalit was guest of honor at a Tel Aviv social justice rally Saturday night demanding affordable housing and other reforms. Protesters carried banners saying: “Gilad Shalit is entitled to a home too.” Speaking to a cheering crowd, Shalit urged the Israeli government to “pay the price required to bring Gilad home” – or resign.
The soldier was 19 when he was snatched by gunmen from three militant groups, including the armed wing of Hamas, the movement which has ruled Gaza since June 2007.
Shalit is still being held there at a secret location, without any contact with his family or visits by the Red Cross. The last sign of life was in October 2009 in a video recording released by his captors.
Turkey denied Netanyahu effort to delay release of Gaza flotilla report - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News
Benjamin Netanyahu suggested a few days ago that the Palmer Report on the Israel Defense Forces' raid of a Gaza-bound flotilla in which nine Turkish activists were killed, be delayed by six months.
The suggestion was made to the Turkish government and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, but Haaretz has learned that the Turkish government rejected Netanyahu's proposal, claiming it was not serious.
|Photo by: AP|
The UN investigative committee into the raid, headed by Geoffrey Palmer, is now due to publish the report this Friday, September 2.
The Palmer Report on the events that occurred on board the Turkish aid ship Mavi Marmara in 2010 has been delayed three times already, each time with the agreement of both Israel and Turkey, who made joint requests of the UN Secretary-General.
According to an official in Jerusalem, Netanyahu's latest suggestion to postpone the report's publication by six months was not warmly welcomed by the Turks.
Turkey saw Netanyahu's suggestion as an attempt to avoid reaching a decision on the reconciliation agreement and to stall progress. They explained that despite how problematic the report is for them, they would prefer for it to be published on September 2 than to wait another two grueling months, at the end of which it is not at all certain that Netanyahu would agree to apologize for what happened on board the Mavi Marmara.
An outline of the reconciliation agreement has already been approved by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and includes a softened Israeli apology for the events that occurred onboard the ship, in return for normalized relations with Turkey and a commitment on Turkey's behalf not to take legal proceedings personally against the Israeli soldiers and officers involved.
Turkey has said that if Israel does not apologize, it will carry out a series of actions detrimental to Israel-Turkey relations and that it would take legal action against Israel.
Netanyahu has avoided making a firm decision for a number of months regarding how Israel will deal with the situation.
He told senior American officials that despite that he is interested in accepting the outline of the agreement and apologizing to Turkey, he feared such a move would lead Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to withdraw from the coalition.
After Lieberman said he would not withdraw from the coalition, even if a decision was made to apologize to Turkey, Netanyahu changed his reasoning for postponing the report's publication, telling the Americans that he is not able to apologize, for he is under political pressure owing to the social protests.
Two weeks ago he informed U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Israel would not apologize for the 2010 Gaza flotilla raid. Speaking with Clinton via telephone, Netanayhu said that Israel does not intend to adopt an outline to restore its relationship with Turkey.
An official in Jerusalem said that Netanyahu told Clinton that Israel does not oppose the publication of the Palmer Committee's report, but that the date of the report's release depends on Ban Ki-moon.
WEST BANK, August 28, 2011(WAF) – Israeli occupation forces arrested on Sunday five Palestinians in Nablus, assaulted another on Qalandia checkpoint and raided Alyamoon, a village west of Jenin, according to local sources.
Palestinian police said that Israeli forces arrested five Palestinians while passing Beit Furik checkpoint, east of Nablus, in a statement issued by the public relations and media department.
The statement said that the Israeli forces severely beat Palestinian Ashraf Abu Rahmeh from Bil'in, a village west of Ramallah, while he was on Qalandia checkpoint, north Jerusalem. He sustained bruises and cuts and he was transferred to the hospital to receive medical treatment.
Local sources in Nablus city said that Israeli forces raided Alma’ajeen, a neighborhood northwest of Nablus city, and arrested Adel Dwekat, 25, from one of the buildings.In a related matter, the occupation forces raided Alyamoon village, west of Jenin, and took one of the newly built houses as a military base. The Israeli soldiers searched the area and retreated without any incidents.
A Palestinian attacker wounded seven Israelis near a Tel Aviv nightclub early Monday, hitting a police checkpoint with a stolen taxi and then stabbing others, police said.
The attacker was a Palestinian in his twenties from the city of Nablus, according to Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri.
Just before 2 a.m., the attacker stole a taxi in south Tel Aviv and then drove into a police checkpoint securing the street near a popular nightclub, she said.
He then got out of the car and stabbed passers by, she said.
The wounded included four policemen and three civilians, Ms. Samri said.
The attacker was arrested. He was injured and was taken to a hospital.
No further details were immediately available.
Such attacks inside Israel, once common, have fallen off in recent years as Israeli and Palestinian forces have restored security in the adjacent Palestinian territory of the West Bank. But some violence has continued. One Israeli was killed in a similar attack with a vehicle in Tel Aviv in May.
They said that the child sustained severe injuries to the head and was transferred to hospital for treatment.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
RAMALLAH: The Palestinian Minister of Detainees and Ex-detainees Issa Qaraqi’ on Sunday accused Israel of harvesting parts from the bodies of dead Palestinian martyrs without the consent of their families.
Qaraqi’ said during the national day of Palestinian campaign to retrieve martyrs’ bodies said that “Israel is the major harvesting and trading centre in the world.”
The minister said that Israel holds the remains of Palestinian martyrs “to conceal the crimes it committed against the martyrs bodies and to punish their families.” “Holding of the martyrs’ remains for many years cats doubts and accusations that Israel assassinated them after detention or harvested their organs,” the minister said.
He added that “Israel is holding the remains of 338 Arab and Palestinian fighters in the secret Israeli cemeteries known as the Cemeteries of Numbers.”
Qaraqi' added that the Israeli authorities holding them in four cemeteries: One on the Israel-Lebanon-Syria border, two in the Jordan Valley and the fourth near Tiberias Lake.
On December 2009, the chief Israeli pathologist and the director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir, Professor Yehuda Hiss, admitted of harvesting parts from the bodies of dead Palestinians without the consent of their families.
Hiss said that he and doctors who worked under him took parts from the dead skins, their corneas and heart valves in the 90’s for transplantation. He also admitted that the same parts were taken from dead Israelis for the same purpose.
Hiss’ remarks came in an interview with Nancy Sheppard-Hughes, a professor of anthropology at the University of California-Berkeley who tracks the organ trade worldwide. The one-hour interview was recorded in 2000 as part of Sheppard-Hughes’ study at Abu Kabir and was broadcasted by the Israeli Channel 1 television on Friday night.
The report said that Sheppard-Hughes decided to publish the interview after the leading Swedish daily Aftonbladet reported on August of the same year that Israeli soldiers killed Palestinians in order to trade in their organs.
The Israeli pathologist said that “the skins were taken from the bodies and transmitted to Hadasah hospital in Jerusalem under the request of Israeli army to be transplanted to sounded soldiers and in case of disaster.”
On last July, the head of Palestinian Civil Affairs Commission Hussein Al-Sheikh said that Israel will hand over the remains of 84 fighters to the Palestinian Authority within days.
Israeli security sources confirmed that talks on the matter have been held but that no agreement had been reached.
- Arab News
Ashton is in the region for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to call for a return to negotiations and progress in the peace process, a statement from her office said Friday.
Erekat said Ashton's meeting with the president focused on the Palestinians' bid for UN membership, the official Palestinian Authority news agency reported.
Abbas told Ashton that Palestinian membership of the UN would preserve the peace process and asked the EU to support the bid, Erekat said.
He added that Palestinian leaders hoped the 27 member states of the EU would "speak with one voice regarding the Palestinian request for full membership."
Ashton also met with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah.
Following the meeting, Fayyad urged the international community to intervene effectively to compel Israel to comply with international law and stop illegal settlement building, end the occupation and the blockade of Gaza and stop military incursions in the Palestinian territories.
In a statement issued by his office, Fayyad insisted that the PA would complete its state-building plan. The government will upgrade services and infrastructure to prepare for statehood, he said.
The premier thanked the EU for its financial and political support for the Palestinian people and praised European efforts to revive the peace process.
He said the PA was trying to overcome the financial crisis, but said the economic problems could not be resolved unless donor countries met their obligations.
Ashton will also meet Israeli President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, defense minister Ehud Barak, foreign minister and deputy premier Avigdor Liberman and Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni before heading to Jordan.
Maan News Agency
RAMALLAH, August 28, 2011 (WAFA) - PLO Executive Committee member, Hanan Ashrawi, pressed for EU support for PLO efforts to have Palestine admitted as a member state of the United Nations next month, during her meeting with European Union Foreign Policy Chief, Catherine Ashton on Saturday, according to a press release.
Ashrawi, also a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said, “Europe should maintain its position on Palestine as outlined by the Council of the European Union in its December 2009 statement, including its commitment to upholding international law, its designation of Israeli settlements as both illegal and an obstacle to peace, its acknowledgement of Jerusalem as the capital of two states, and its recognition of the importance of establishing a sovereign Palestinian state.”
Ashrawi emphasized the importance of recognizing and addressing the serious shortcomings of the so-called peace process.
“It is obvious that two decades of negotiations have failed to bring about peace based on justice and international law, and that the Middle East ‘peace process’ is seriously flawed. A return to more of the same will only lead to a worsening of this situation,” added Ashrawi.
She emphasized that Israeli unilateral actions continue to undermine prospects for reaching a just and lasting peace, and threaten the very viability of the two-state solution, adding that “we must act before it is too late.”
“Our decision to go to the United Nations is an attempt to rectify this situation. It is both a positive and constructive move that will help prevent a return to violence by pursuing non-violent alternatives based on international law and multilateralism,” Ashrawi concluded.
She later joined the meeting of President Mahmoud Abbas and the Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.
|UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday stated that he has been postponing the delivery of a UN panel report about Israel's raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla that killed nine Turkish activists.|
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Ban said the purpose of the delay was to give the two governments more time to reach a "harmonious agreement" on its findings.
“It is important that these two countries improve their bilateral relationship,” Ban said, adding, "That is why I have given additional time."
Earlier last week, diplomats at the UN headquarters told the Anatolia news agency that the report could be presented to Ban by Sept. 2.
The UN assessment, titled the “Palmer Report,” is expected to clarify what happened aboard the Mavi Marmara humanitarian aid ship, which set sail from Turkey last May but was aggressively stopped by Israeli commandoes, resulting in the deaths of nine peace activists aboard the ship. In the process of warming up relations between Israel and Turkey, the Palmer Report has faced multiple delays since its initial date of release in February of this year to allow the countries to reconcile. However, while Turkey considers a formal apology and compensation for the loss of life on the boat necessary conditions for reconciliation, Israel defends the killings as self defense and pleas that the charity campaign was an attempt to intimidate Israel triggered by the Turkish government, which vehemently denies involvement in the process.
Palestinians are denied their equitable and reasonable share of water under customary international water law and have also been prevented from developing essential water infrastructure and securing their human right to water as mandated in the 2010 United Nations General Assembly resolution on the same, said Attili in a press release.
He added that access to water has become a weapon used by Israel to target some of the most vulnerable Palestinian communities in the occupied Palestinian Territory in cases such as the destruction of water cisterns, wells and other essential water infrastructure, resulting in forced migration.
“Facts of occupation greatly impact our ability to meet Palestine’s domestic, agricultural and industrial water needs both now and in the future,” added Attili.
According to him, Palestinian water problems can be attributed in part to environmental factors, but the far more immediate and detrimental reasons are the numerous restrictions Palestinians face in accessing water as a result of Israel’s occupation.
“Palestinians suffer from a social, physical and political shortage of water. Tackling our water shortage first and foremost requires a political solution, in the absence of which no managerial and technical measures can provide an adequate substitute,” added the press release.
In his speech, Attili said the fresh water volume available to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza at present is about 70 cubic metres per capita annually, which is significantly less than water consumption levels recommended by the World Health Organization and much lower than the volumes available to co-riparians in the Jordan River basin.
“As a point of comparison, neighbouring Jordan often asserts that it is the fourth most water-scarce state in the world, while Palestinians have on average access to significantly less water per capita than available to Jordanians per day. In fact, the water available per capita in Palestine is less today than was the case at the time of the signing of the Interim Agreement with Israel in 1995,” he added.
Moreover, the low percentage of available water for Palestinians includes about 120 million cubic metres annually over-abstracted from the Coastal Aquifer in the Gaza Strip, despite the fact that 90-95% does not meet the World Health Organization minimum standards, said Attili.
He called on all world states to demand from Israel, the occupying power, to bring an end to this unjust and deplorable situation.
In Gaza, where 40% of the in-country population of Palestinians live and a 120 million cubic meter water deficit exists, water supplies are blocked to Palestinian access by Israel’s ongoing siege over Gaza while problems of water quality and imminent aquifer collapse dominate the Strip.
“Over-abstraction of the groundwater in Gaza is accompanied by serious contamination of the aquifer as a result of saline intrusion both from the Mediterranean Sea and from the south-east, due to a hydrological connection to the Avedat aquifer in Israel,” Attili explained.
In addition, Gaza’s groundwater is further contaminated by wastewater percolating through the permeable sand strata, added the press release.
As a result of these problems, none of the groundwater in Gaza meets internationally recognised standards in terms of quality for potable use, while most of the 1.6 million Palestinians in Gaza cannot afford to treat the groundwater, leading to a rapid increase in the incidence of water-borne diseases in Gaza especially among children, said Attili.
“We have examined all technical and managerial options, but most are not available in Gaza for political reasons. Prevented from importing basic construction materials, we have had to negotiate every sack of cement that comes in, taking four years to build an ‘emergency’ wastewater filtration pond after seven people died in the torrent of sewage after the sewage lagoon burst its banks,” he added.
Attili said that Palestinian Authority is pleased by the recent approval of the Union for the Mediterranean to develop a Desalination Facility for the Gaza Strip, but reiterated that the spatial limitations in Gaza as well as the 120 million cubic meter deficit may require the exploration of an option of locating a second desalination facility in the Sinai in Egypt.
Attili pointed to the Palestinian-Israeli Joint Work Committee that was established in 1995 and used by Israel in a bureaucratic and rather arbitrary way, to veto and indefinitely delay PWA plans and programs aimed at providing adequate water resources for Palestinians over the past 16 years. He discussed a Palestinian modest and slow progress in playing a more assertive role in the forum.
“We look forward to the day when a new forum will allow us to interact with our Israeli counterparts as respected partners and equals, working jointly to solve problems in the interests of all,” he added.
“We look forward to working with all our regional neighbours, and all of you for a sustainable future in water for all the peoples of the region,” Attili concluded.