Two months dead, surely shot by soldiers, a Palestinian boy's body is recovered-- under gunfire
20 Jun 2009
[NOTE: Above website contains many hyperlinks.]
Days after the slapping video made by Israeli soldiers revealed how deeply-dehumanized Palestinians are in the Israeli mind, here is a horrifying story from the Gaza Strip, from the International Solidarity Movement. Two months ago, Ahmed Abu Hashish, an 18-year-old son of a farmer, disappeared in the northern Gaza Strip. His family guessed that he had been killed in the Israeli "buffer zone" carved out of Palestinian land. But it was dangerous to search for him.
The presence of a "murder of crows" in the brush (the tender spirits of ISM are also literary) gave the family a focus, and on June 14, a group of international volunteers went out with the family to search for the body, with Israeli soldiers harassing them the entire time with gunfire. Writes "Orange Jenny" of ISM:
As we rushed to take Ahmed's body away, the shooting only intensified. We were all heading away from the fence. We'd told the soldiers over the megaphone, that we'd found the body and that we were going. Ahmed's father hurriedly and in anguish attempted to catch up with the bearers of his son's corpse, wailing and lamenting his loss as he did so. Still the bullets whistled past our heads, or into the ground behind us.
It struck me, when we finally got out of range of the soldiers' guns, that our presence in that area that day must not have come as any surprise to them. It was most likely them who had shot Ahmed in cold blood some 54 days previously. They would have known where his body lay. The Israeli military never informed anyone of this. They did not pass on news of Ahmed's murder to his family. Instead, they waited for almost two months, knowing that at some point and despite the danger, a search party might come looking for the corpse.
Was it necessary to shoot at a group of civilians on a humanitarian mission? Was it necessary to continue shooting at us as they left? Was it necessary for their bullets to force a grieving father to face his own mortality at the very moment he was compelled to recognise that of his son?
Jewish Conference Votes to Support Boycott of Israel
Independent Jewish Voice (Canada)
16th June 2009
Independent Jewish Voices (Canada) voted to join the growing international campaign in support of the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, at its first Annual General Meeting this past weekend. This decision makes IJV the first national Jewish organization in the world to do so. The adopted resolution states that IJV will "Support the Palestinian call for a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people's right to self-determination and complies with the precepts of international law, including the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194."
"Independent Jewish Voices has voted to join the international boycott campaign because we stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and support their right to self-determination," says Diana Ralph, co-chair of IJV. "We are calling on the Canadian government and all Members of Parliament to push for immediate sanctions on Israel."
"The time has come for people around the world to rise to the challenge in Israel/Palestine, as we did for South Africa," says Fabienne Presentey, Steering Committee member of IJV. "All voices that can be raised against this injustice must be."
The resolution, which passed with the support of 95 percent of voting delegates, also calls on the Canadian government to "1) cease its one-sided and uncritical support for Israel and 2) insist that Israel abide by international law."
The international call for BDS originated from 170 Palestinian civil society organizations and has sparked a growing global movement, modeled on the international campaign that successfully ended South African apartheid. Many prominent organizations around the world have joined the BDS campaign, including the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), UNISON (UK), Transport and General Workers' Union (UK), Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Canadian Union of Public Employees-Ontario, six Norwegian trade unions, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Scottish Trades Union Congress, and Intersindical Alternativa de Catallunya.
Independent Jewish Voices is a member-led organization, with chapters in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax.
Absurdity is the Norm in Gaza Strip
Upon returning home from Gaza, a friend commented, "It must have been horrifying seeing all the destruction." And it was. The 22-day Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip laid waste to an already ravaged territory.
The landscape is dotted with piles of rubble of bombed out buildings, the twisted iron and aluminum of destroyed factories, once green fields reduced to sand and dirt by Israeli tanks, apartments with 2 meter holes in the walls and toppled minarets of mosques turned to ruins.
But as devastating as bearing witness to the destruction was, it was the absurdities of the siege, the total blockade of Gaza imposed by Israel and Egypt, that really affected me. Gaza itself remains frozen in time; for nearly five months after the ceasefire, aside from a few rare cases in which cinder blocks have been used to fill gaping holes in the sides of buildings, no reconstruction whatsoever has begun. The blockade keeps the necessary building materials out of Gaza.
While traveling throughout Gaza with a delegation of mostly U.S. citizens organized by CodePink, the absurdities of the siege presented themselves over and over.
At Al Shifa Hospital, the largest in Gaza, we saw state of the art isotope scan and radio therapy machines in the oncology department that cannot operate because the radioactive material as well as a calibration tool have been refused entry by Israel. A row of dialysis machines sat unused, lacking the required fluids.
As medical conditions in Gaza deteriorate due to the siege, many look for medical care abroad. However, the sealed borders prevent them from traveling. We met the director of an orphanage who had already lost the vision in one eye, was losing it in the other, but had been unable to obtain permission to travel to Egypt for eye care.
Power outages are regular occurrences. The Gaza power plant simply cannot keep up with the demand due to a lack of fuel, which is blocked by Israel, as is supplemental electricity produced in Israel. There are both scheduled blackouts of 8-10 hours, as well as spontaneous outages.
While touring the Al Shifa Hospital, the Minister of Health apologized for the heat in the room, saying their generator must be reserved for higher priority uses than air conditioning. Families are forced to carry their loved ones up the stairs, the elevators shutdown during blackouts.
The centers working to create employment opportunities for Gaza's women inevitably fall prey to the siege. Power cuts bring the sewing machines making dresses and linens to a stand still. Even the embroidery thread used to make traditional handicrafts must be smuggled in through the tunnels.
The siege has also taken its toll on the father figure. According to Dr. Zeyada of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, with well over 50% unemployment due to the siege, children see their fathers as unable to provide for them. And during the war, they saw that their fathers were also unable to protect them. Children have started looking to other role models, and make easy targets for those who, unfortunately, have no desire for peace.
Education suffers under the siege. At a UN vocational training center in Khan Younis, the library consists of roughly 12 bookcases, but only two had any books at all, with half being photocopied manuals. The textbooks destined for the center have been held up in a storage facility in Jerusalem; the Israelis simply refused to allow them in. The center is also unable to get the raw materials for their metal and woodworking courses.
Sharif, a university student studying business administration in his second year, is understandably proud of having top marks in his faculty. His friends have nicknamed him 'The Genius.' Sharif has been awarded a scholarship at Portland University in Oregon starting this fall. Unfortunately, the irrationality of the siege is likely to prevent him from being allowed to go. "If I can't get authorization by August, there goes my scholarship."
A professor at Al Aqsa University has been offered a position at the University of Manchester, however, he has been denied permission to travel. Professors are also unable to travel to attend international conferences. And students of the English department have a tough time finding native speakers with which to practice the language; getting into Gaza is almost as difficult as getting out!
Numerous projects for which funding has already been approved are currently suspended for the simple fact that the materials to complete them are not allowed in. Turkey has donated funds for a new university library and PalTel, the Palestinian telecommunications company, has allocated funds for an Information Technology Center. Both projects remain in limbo, victims of the siege.
An official with the UN Relief and Works Agency remarked that it is also a problem to get the actual banknotes in. UNRWA, which provides services to more than 1 million registered refugees in the Gaza Strip, is often only able to get money in to pay the salaries of their 10,000 employees, while money to fund projects is blocked.
Not only are Palestinians restricted in their movement in and out of Gaza, but also within. In late May, Israel began dropping thousands of leaflets near the border areas warning the people of Gaza not to come within 300 meters of the border or they would be fired upon. Farmers are forced to risk their lives in order to work their fields that fate has placed too close to the border. The same restrictions are imposed on Palestinian fishermen. The sound of shots pierce the silence nightly, as Israeli gunboats fire on fishing boats that dare to venture far enough away from the shore in order to catch fish to sell and provide a living for their families.
These are the absurdities that have become the norm in Gaza. But perhaps most absurd of all is how anyone can believe that Israel's severity in the closures, the destruction of the economy and social fabric of the Gaza Strip, will serve to convince Palestinians to place their trust in international law.
What we in the international community must do is to heed the call we heard repeatedly from the people of Gaza: work to break the siege so that they can take care of themselves.
Stephanie Westbrook is a founding member of U.S. Citizens for Peace & Justice in Rome, Italy ( http://www.peaceandjustice.it
) and currently serves on the group's coordinating committee.
Hamas: We retain the right to retaliate to PA violations against W. Bank women
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement stated Sunday that it retains the right to retaliate to the violations committed by the PA security apparatuses against West Bank women and the Palestinian resistance if they persisted in such practices.
During a picket organized by the ministry of women's affairs in Gaza in solidarity with the West Bank women against the PA violations, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that the abduction of women and wives of martyrs and prisoners reflects the level of moral and national decline reached by the security apparatuses under the command of ex-PA chief Mahmoud Abbas.
Spokesman Abu Zuhri affirmed that such practices would drive Hamas to take strong action to stop the PA security apparatuses' violations against its cadres and supporters especially women in the West Bank.
For her part, MP Jamila Al-Shanti, a member of Hamas parliamentary bloc, underlined that the use of West Bank women as a means to pressure Hamas would only make it stronger and more determined to liberate Palestine from the occupation and its lackeys.
MP Shanti strongly denounced the silence of the international community and human rights organizations towards the PA violations committed against the Palestinian women in the West Bank.
For her part, Etimad Al-Tarshawi, a senior official a the ministry of women's affairs, appealed to all international organizations concerned with human rights to urgently intervene to stop the violations committed by Abbas's security apparatuses against women in the West Bank.
In a related context, Dr. Hossam Odwan, the head of the society of university professors, deplored on Sunday Abbas's security apparatuses for carrying out arrest campaigns in the ranks of professors and students.
In a statement to the PIC, Dr. Odwan said that the PA policy of kidnapping university professors and abusing them verbally and physically proves the state of ignorance and the absence of common sense suffered by Abbas's security apparatuses.
The PA security apparatuses are still kidnapping hundreds of university professors and students in their jails and a large number of them are exposed to severe rounds of torture.
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