Israel continues starvation of Gazans despite UN pleas
November 21 2008
In what the UN has described as collective punishment, the Israeli
blockade of the Gaza Strip continues.
Notwithstanding 56% of the 1.5 million Gazan population consists of
children, Israel has shut down access to the region refusing to allow
desperately needed food trucks to reach their destination.
UN food agencies in Gaza that have had their food supply cut by the
Israeli blockade say they are facing a "humanitarian catastrophe."
World media continues to ignore the desperate situation, Israel
however has contributed to that by barring journalists from entering
Gaza, a move condemned earlier this week by the Foreign Press
Association. The UN appears to be a lone voice in trying to engineer
Karen AbuZayd, commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and
Works Agency, said the human toll of this month's sealing of Gaza's
goods crossings was the gravest in eight years.
"It's been closed for so much longer than ever before and we have
nothing in our warehouses. It will be a catastrophe if this persists,
a disaster," said AbuZayd, whose agency is the largest aid body
providing services to Palestinian refugees.
"They are not just under occupation, they are under siege, it's a
word I don't usually use, they are completely closed off," she added.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who issued a statement
saying he supported statements by the Gazan office, telephoned
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday urging him to provide
access for UN food trucks. Olmert said he would look into the
situation on an urgent basis.
By Friday Ban had received no word back from Olmert, so he bypassed
him and telephoned Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to stress the
urgency of the situation. Livni however rebuffed the UN Secretary-
General's plea saying the world should be condemning Palestinian
"Whoever thinks that a situation of them firing at us, while
everything continues as usual, can exist is mistaken," her office
said in a statement. "The international community must be more
decisive in making itself heard, and in using its influence, in the
face of these attacks."
Israeli human rights organization Gisha in a letter to the Israeli
army on Thursday from its attorney Yadin Elam said the closure of
crossings, "is done with the illegal intention of inflicting pressure
on the civilian population in an attempt to affect the behavior of
militants and political elements. The closure of the crossings is
therefore in violation of the absolute prohibition in International
Law against collective punishment." THe UN also this week described
the Israeli crackdown as collective punishment.
The blockade is now putting Gaza at breaking point which many believe
is the objective of the Jewish nation. A ceasefire, between Hamas and
Israel, which had largely held until November 4, was broken when the
Israeli army entered Gaza and carried out a raid which killed five
militants. Rocket fire into Israel followed, and since then the
Israeli army has stepped up activities and closed off more access
points. A further 12 Palestinian militants have died. There have been
no casualties on the Israeli side as most of the 140 rockets fired
into the country have failed to hit any tangible targets.
In addition to preventing access for food supplies Israel has refused
to allow European Union-funded fuel supplies into Gaza, starving the
power generation plant of fuel which has caused widespread blackouts
up to 16 hours a day. Water facilities, including access to clean
drinking water, and the treatment of raw sewage continue is also
being severely disrupted by fuel shortages. Fifty to sixty million
litres of untreated and partially treated sewage are being dumped
into the Gaza Strip Mediterranean Sea daily, posing a public health
On Thursday the Associated Press, Reuters, CNN, the BBC and other
major news organizations wrote a joint letter to Olmert, protesting
the ban on journalists entering Gaza to cover events there. "We are
gravely concerned about the prolonged and unprecedented denial of
access to the Gaza Strip for the international media," the letter
"We would welcome an assurance that access to Gaza for international
journalists will be restored immediately in the spirit of Israel's
long-standing commitment to a free press."
The letter has been ignored.
Blockade-breaking voyages to Gaza planned from Qatar, Israel, Yemen,
A series of ships sailing Qatar, Israel, Yemen, and Cyprus, and
Jordan will challenge the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip over the
next two months, said Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council
(PLC) Jamal Al-Khudari on Tuesday.
(Ma'an News) Gaza On Friday a ship sailing from Qatar is scheduled
to make landfall in Gaza. On Saturday, a ship sailing from Haifa, in
northern Israel, will reach Gaza carrying five tons of humanitarian
aid, including medicine, said Al-Khudari, who is the leader of the
Popular Committee Against the Siege of Gaza.
The ships will further test Israel's willingness to block shipments
of vital goods to the coastal territory. After allowing a group of
international and Palestinian activists to sail to Gaza three times
since August, Israeli gunboats forced a Libyan ship carrying 3,000
tons of aid to turn back on Tuesday.
On 18 December the Islamic Parliamentary Union will dispatch a ship
from Larnaca, Cyprus. Two days later, Jordanian activists will send a
boat from the Red Sea port of Aqaba.
A Yemeni vessel will set sail in January.
Al-Khudari said in a statement that the Israeli blockade of Gaza has
left 70% Gaza residents without electricity.
After nearly a year and a half of closure, Israel imposed a total
blockade on Gaza on 4 November, preventing deliveries of aid by land,
sea, and air. The territory's sole power plant has frequently shut
down, and the United Nations was forced to suspend a food aid program
that feeds 750,000 Palestinians.
New boat to break Gaza siege
Thu, 04 Dec 2008
The leaders of the Arab community are scheduled to sail into the Gaza
Strip to break the Israeli imposed siege on the territory.
Dozens of Arab leaders residing in Palestine will set sail Sunday
from the Israeli port of Jaffa to break the blockade on the populated
territory, Zahi Nujeidat, a spokesman for Israel's Islamic Movement
said on Wednesday.
The regime has kept its border crossings with the coastal strip
closed over the last month in response to 'rocket attacks by
Palestinian factions'. It has blocked all food and fuel supplies to
the territory which is home to 1.5 million people.
Nujeidat said the ship will take humanitarian aid to the Gaza
strip 'to defy the government's blockade of the territory', the
Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
Earlier this week, Israel prevented a Libyan Ship from reaching Gaza.
The ship which was carrying three thousand tons of humanitarian and
medical aid was stopped before entering the territory.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
First Arab charity to break Gaza siege with $2m shipment of cancer
For More Information, please contact:
(Gaza) Caoimhe Butterly, +972 598 273 960 / sahara78@...
(Cyprus/Gaza) Lubna Masarwa, +972 505 633 044 / lubnna@...
(Cyprus) Ramzi Kysia , +357 99 081 767 / rrkysia@...
(LARNACA, 4 December 2008) - The Free Gaza Movement announced a joint
mission with Qatar Charity, a Qatar based relief organisation, to
sail to Gaza with $2 million dollars worth of cancer medicine this
Saturday, December 6th.
Through this precedent setting voyage, Qatar Charity will become the
first Arab organization to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The
Free Gaza Movement has successfully challenged the siege on three
previous occasions this year, landing missions in Gaza in August,
October, and November. The Free Gaza ships are the first to dock in
Gaza Port in over 41 years.
Lubna Masarwa, one of the movement organizers, stated that, "I'm
confident that we will reach Gaza. We are unarmed civilians carrying
desperately needed medical supplies to other unarmed civilians. It
would be obscene for Israel to use violence against us in order to
prevent the delivery of these medicines."
Israel maintains absolute control over Gaza's borders and airspace,
and has imposed an increasingly brutal blockade on its 1.5 million
civilians for over two years, drastically increasing poverty and
According to Masarwa, "What Israel is doing to the people of Gaza
should be considered a crime. Food and medicine are not weapons, the
world must not allow them to be used as weapons."
Israel temporarily lifted some restrictions on aid workers and
journalists today for the first time in a month. However Caoimhe
Butterly, Gaza Project Coordinator for the boat missions, labeled the
move "a fig leaf for an ongoing, all-encompassing policy of
collective punishment, starvation and humiliation. The solution to
this catastrophe isn't temporarily opening Erez, but ending the
Occupation once and for all. We hope the Qatari mission will inspire
Palestine's neighbors to mount similar missions and form the basis
for direct and continuing political action in the Arab world."
The passengers on board the Dignity this Saturday will include:
5 Qatar Charity officials, including one Moroccan National
2 Qatari local governmental representatives
Australian, American, British, and Italian human rights workers
A British surgeon traveling to Gaza to volunteer in local hospitals
for the next several weeks
International journalists from Al-Jazeera TV and McClatchy
UN accuses Israel of punishing aid workers
ANNE PENKETH, INDEPENDENT
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
The UN official responsible for the welfare of 4.6 million
Palestinian refugees has accused Israel of extending its collective
punishment of the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip to include
international humanitarian staff.
Karen AbuZayd, who is based in Gaza City, said that Israeli
authorities have within the past month stopped UN staff based in Gaza
from using the diplomatic pouch. They gave no reason for the move,
which is a clear breach of international law.
"We can't send the mail out or get any mail in. I don't think they
could give a reason because there is no way they could justify it,"
said Mrs AbuZayd, an American who is commissioner-general of the UN
Relief and Works Agency. UNRWA is the main provider of basic
services such as education and health to registered Palestine
refugees, including 1.1 million in Gaza.
Two weeks ago the Israelis issued for the first time a written list
of goods that cannot be sent into Gaza for UN humanitarian needs, she
said. The list, which has baffled UN officials, includes spices,
kitchenware, glassware, yarn and paper.
"They are punishing the international community that's inside," said
Mrs AbuZayd. "For our own office, we are having trouble in keeping it
going, because we're not allowed to bring in spare parts," she added.
UN cars are lying idle for lack of tyres and oil, office photocopiers
cannot be mended and computers are not allowed into Gaza. "And we're
supposed to have privileges and immunities," she added.
As the restrictions have been extended, the international press has
been barred from entering Gaza for the past month, and is challenging
the Israeli decision in the Supreme Court.
The UNRWA chief officer is to meet the new Israeli co-ordinator,
General Amos Gilad, next week to discuss the latest developments. It
will be their first meeting since his appointment in September. Until
now, the United Nations has privately protested against the decisions
but Mrs AbuZayd's decision to speak out publicly about the crisis is
a sign of the level of frustration within the UN.
The Israeli blockade has caused an ever-worsening humanitarian crisis
in Gaza since it was imposed after the election of Hamas in January
2006. But Israel has refused to ease the measures on the ground that
Palestinian militants have continued to fire rockets on Israel from
The spokesman for London's Israeli embassy, Lior Ben-Dor, today said
that the restrictions were due to safety concerns. "We can't operate
the checkpoints because we are not willing to risk the lives of
Israelis," he said.
Kuwaiti charitable society dispatches aid consignment to Gaza
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
PIC & Ikhwanweb - Kuwait
The Kuwaiti social reform society on Monday initiated the second
phase of its campaign "Save Gaza" and announced in a press conference
that it would send a relief shipment to the Strip via sea route.
Dr. Walid Al-Anjeri, the chairman of the Sham office in the society"s
International Rahma (Mercy) sector, delivered a press statement
saying that people in Gaza are living in a big prison and are
oppressed by the siege, demolition of their homes, destruction of
their farms and roads, deprived of running water, electricity, fuel
and enough medicine and food.
He said that the entire population of Gaza is appealing for help, and
then spoke of various kinds of suffering experienced by the people of
He urged the Kuwaiti people to contribute to the campaign that would
collect relief material and send them to Cyprus from where a Kuwaiti
sea convoy would cross the sea to Gaza while the Rahma office in Gaza
would supervise distribution of those relief materials.
Third Egyptian Aid Caravan Will Head to Gaza Saturday
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
IkhwanWeb - Egypt
Vice president of the Court of Cassation and head of the Popular
Committee Against Gaza Siege Judge Mahmoud Al-Khudairi told Ikhwanweb
the committee would launch a third aid caravan to Gaza next Saturday.
"The caravan will start from the Administrative Judiciary House at
11:00 am," he told Ikhwanweb, and called on the Egyptian people to
show solidarity with the Gazans through this caravan or at least
participate in peaceful demonstrations against the siege on Gaza.
Al-Khudari said that all the Egyptians denounce the siege and closure
of Rafah border crossing. He described the Egyptian government
reaction to the blockade as "the most shameful" in the world.
He said the caravan would contribute to beautifying the government's
image before the world.
Al-Khudairi hinted at the attempts to deny the access of the caravan
to Rafah crossing by saying "we will cross the borders to rescue the
invalids and the starving Palestinians since we have obtained a
judicial ruling in favor of our caravans to Gaza."
He said the next caravan will be through the sea if this upcoming one
is stopped by the Egyptian government.
This would be the third Egyptian aid caravan after other two others
obstructed by Egyptian authorities. The fist one started from 10th of
Ramadan city and was stopped at Ismailia entry gate. The second was
launched at the 6th of October city and the security apparatus also
stopped it at the assembly point of Journalists' Syndicate where 200
participants were arrested.
The western world went wrong when it boycotted Hamas governments
GAZA, (PIC)-- Swiss expert Gabriel Galis stated that the western
world committed a mistake when it boycotted the two Palestinian
governments formed after Hamas won elections, adding this aggravated
the crises more in Palestine.
In a news conference held at the UN headquarters, Galis underlined
that the Oslo agreement was no longer effective, pointing out that
the Palestinians on the streets said that their pre-Oslo life was
better than nowadays.
The conference, which was originally on the water crisis in
Palestine, underscored that the Oslo agreement miserably failed to
resolve any problem especially the water crisis.
In another context, the Hamas Movement deplored the fabricated story
published on Wednesday in the Egyptian Al-Ahram newspaper about
assaults on pilgrims and alleged accusations against Egypt, saying
that the newspaper quoted such lies from the Fatah-affiliated
Palestine TV without investigating the truth.
In a statement, Hamas called on the newspaper to apologize for the
series of offensive remarks and lies published in its editorial.
Hamas also demanded the Egyptian government to put an end to
the "Zionized trumpeters" who insult honorable Arab parties.
Hamas highlighted its strong relations with all Arab countries and
its reluctance to engage in their internal affairs, rejecting at the
same time such passive interference in the Palestinian affairs which
could deepen the rift in the Palestinian arena.
Swiss attack on Israeli policy escalates `cold war'
In retaliation, the Israel Lobby has set the IRS on the Swiss Bank
Switzerland is refusing to toe the West's line on sanctions against
Iran and Israel is up in arms
By Neil Clark
NOVEMBER 17, 2008
In an attack which shocked Tel Aviv by the harshness of its tone,
Switzerland has accused Israel of wantonly destroying Palestinian
homes in east Jerusalem and near Ramallah in violation of the Geneva
Convention's rules on military occupation.
It's arguably the strongest condemnation of Israeli policy towards
the Palestinians to come from any western European country since
Charles de Gaulle famously attacked the "oppression, repression and
expulsions" of Palestinians by Israel over 40 years ago. And it's
come from a country that's not exactly famous for making strong
The statement last Thursday from the Swiss Foreign Ministry said that
Switzerland - the guardian of the Geneva Convention - regards
the "recent incidents", under which scores of Palestinian homes have
been destroyed by Israeli bulldozers, as "violations of international
humanitarian law" and claimed there was "no military need to justify
the destruction of these
Switzerland regards the recent destruction of Palestinian homes by
Israeli bulldozers, as "violations of international humanitarian law"
houses". In addition, the Swiss called east Jerusalem an "integral
part of the occupied Palestinian territory" - a statement sure to
inflame hard-line Zionists who regard the entire city as belonging to
The Swiss attack on Israeli actions might surprise some, but it is
only the latest incident in a rising 'cold war' between the Alpine
republic and the Jewish state. Earlier this year, Israel summoned
Swiss Ambassador Walter Haffner to its Foreign Ministry offices in
Jerusalem to protest against Switzerland's signing of a multi-billion
dollar energy deal with Iran.
So incensed were Zionists when Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-
Rey wore a headscarf and was pictured smiling and joking with Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran, that the Anti-Defamation
League placed a series of advertisements in various national
newspapers -- including Swiss ones -- which claimed that
Switzerland's energy deal with Iran made Switzerland the "world's
newest sponsor of terrorism." Calmy-Rey reacted angrily to Israel's
criticism, saying that Switzerland was "an independent country that
has its own strategic interests to defend".
It's possible to trace the deterioration of Swiss-Israeli relations
to 1998, when Israel was compelled to write a formal letter of
apology to Switzerland after five Mossad agents were caught trying to
install surveillance equipment in an apartment in Berne in order to
bug a Swiss citizen whom Mossad believed was linked to Hezbollah.
In the intervening period Switzerland has become an increasingly
vocal champion of the Palestinian cause. As the Middle East conflict
escalated, the country even halted all arms sales and military co-
operation with Israel for three years in 2002.
Earlier this year, Switzerland was among the 30 countries who voted
in support of the UN Human Rights Council resolution
that condemned Israel for "grave violations of the human and
humanitarian rights of the Palestinian civilians living in Gaza".
The Swiss-Israeli spat is ironic: the first Zionist congress was held
in Basle in 1897.
It wasn't always like this. The Swiss-Israeli war of words is ironic
given the fact that the world's very first Zionist congress was held
in Basle in 1897 - and that 15 of the first 22 Zionist Congresses
were held in Switzerland.
The Swiss condemnation of Israel today may be dismissed by some as
having little global importance, but there are good reasons why
Israel ought to be concerned. As guarantor of the Geneva Convention,
Switzerland has the power to call meetings of the treaty's
signatories if it finds problems with its implementation - something
which would be very embarrassing for Israel.
And while it's one thing for Israel to be condemned by countries with
a poor human rights record such as Cuba and Saudi Arabia - it's quite
another for it to be criticised by a country whose record is beyond
reproach. The fact that Switzerland - the home of the Red Cross - has
not been involved in a military conflict for 200 years, gives the
country a moral authority that many others lack.
Switzerland's independent line on Middle East issues also shows the
advantage of maintaining national sovereignty in an age where most
countries in Europe have surrendered important decision making powers
to the EU. While other countries in Europe have been cajoled, under
US and British influence, to moderate their criticisms of Israel's
treatment of the Palestinians and to agree to swingeing sanctions on
Iran - non-EU Switzerland is free to make its own decisions and to
say what it thinks about Israeli actions.
It helps, too, that Switzerland is rich enough to follow its own
path, without fear of retribution. On this issue, Israel has come up
against a state which truly is beholden to nobody.
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