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8307PA police terrorize Palestinian journalists

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  • World View
    Dec 6 10:39 AM
      PA police terrorize Palestinian journalists
      From Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank
      30 November, 2007

      Palestinian police answerable to Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman
      Mahmoud Abbas have been terrorizing non-conformist Palestinian
      journalists throughout the West Bank in a manner unprecedented since
      the creation of the PA following the Oslo Accords in 1993.

      Assaults on journalists and cameramen increased dramatically recently
      especially in the aftermath of the American-hosted peace conference in
      Annapolis, Maryland.

      On Thursday, 29 November, crack policemen in the southern West Bank of
      Hebron brutally beat Muhammed Halayka, a cameraman working for a
      Gaza-based TV station for filming anti-Annapolis protests in the city.

      At least one Palestinian, a 37-year-old man, was killed during
      protests on Tuesday, when trigger-happy policemen opened fire on
      demonstrators in downtown Hebron.

      Dozens of protesters and journalists were injured, some very badly,
      throughout the West Bank as police were ordered to violently repress
      any public opposition to the Annapolis conference.

      Halayka, who was taken to hospital told reporters, that seven PA
      policemen ganged up on him, beating him with their fists and butts of
      their rifles, until he collapsed.

      "The security apparatus summoned me for interrogation for filming the
      demonstrations. And when I arrived, more than seven young officers
      ganged up on me, beating me and kicking me all over my body, including
      my face, until I collapsed."

      Toward the evening, Halayka was transferred to hospital.

      According to Halayka, the interrogators warned him that he would have
      to pay ten thousand dollars if he informed the media of what happened
      to him.

      Earlier, PA police arrested Bassam Duweik for filming protests in
      Hebron and for "incitement and besmirching PA image."

      Duweik is a Hebrew translator who also works for a number of
      newspapers inside and outside the occupied Palestinian territories.

      Moreover, the PA preventive security in the town of Dura summoned
      Walid Amayreh, also a journalist, for interrogation in connection with
      his purported intention to write a book critical of the PA.

      Amayreh was forced to sign a written pledge stating that he wouldn't
      criticize the PA or indulge in incitement.

      On Tuesday, PA police in Ramallah violently attacked journalists in
      Ramallah, Bethlehem and several other localities, beating them
      savagely for covering demonstrations protesting the Annapolis conference.

      Several journalists were reportedly beaten, including Wael Shoyoukhi,
      an Aljazeera correspondent, who was badly hurt, having been hit on the

      A PA official said he regretted attacks on journalists. The PA
      Minister of Interior, Abdul Razzaq al Yahya was quoted as saying that
      "journalists have to appreciate the situation we are facing. We are
      sorry for what happened, but journalists and reporters have to obey
      the law."

      Some Palestinian journalists condemned PA western backers for
      remaining silent in the face of PA police attacks on press freedom in
      the West Bank.

      "The US and the EU keep babbling about press freedom and democracy and
      these things. But when they watch these beasts gang up and mercilessly
      beat reporters in the streets of the West Bank, they play blind, dumb
      and deaf," said Muhammed Rajoub, a journalist from the Hebron region.

      "Is this the democracy they are promising us?"

      Rajoub said "in this case silence means satisfaction and even complicity."

      Since the mid-June events in Gaza, when Hamas militiamen ousted Fatah
      police forces after a week-long bloody showdown, the western-backed
      government in Ramallah has been clamping down on press freedom.

      The PA closed down several press offices and radio and TV stations for
      "indulging in illegal activities and incitement."

      Moreover, as many as 15 journalists were arrested and, in many cases,
      mistreated and tortured.

      The Palestinian justice system in the West Bank is virtually
      paralyzed and in most cases security agencies don't heed court decisions.


      Palestinian Authority closes all charities in West Bank, Gaza
      By Reuters Tags: Palestinian Authority

      The Palestinian Authority has shut down all charities in the West Bank
      and Gaza Strip and accused some of corruption.

      Minister of Religious Affairs Jamal Bawatneh said on Wednesday his
      ministry had appointed a seven-strong committee to oversee the
      collection and disbursement of funds to the poor.

      Palestinian officials said the closing of the 92 charities - or Zakat
      - was likely to harm those mainly belonging to the Islamist Hamas

      "Some of the committees violated the law and were corrupt," Bawatneh
      told Reuters.

      "Some of the people heading those committees belong to Hamas but
      others are not from Hamas. The corrupt must be removed.

      "Not all the Zakat committees were corrupt but we decided to close all
      of them to avoid finger-pointing.

      Some committees had collected large amounts of money intended for the
      poor but only a fraction of the money had gone to its intended recipients.

      Most of the money was used to build supermarkets and hospitals, and
      was invested. Some of the money was also used to support charities run
      by political parties," Bawatneh said.

      "In many cases, the funds were disbursed according to political
      affiliation but these committees should not be exploited for political
      purposes," he said.

      In August, the government of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad
      closed more than 100 charities, mostly belonging to Hamas. It was
      regarded as a move aimed at weakening Hamas which seized control of
      the Gaza Strip in June.

      Abbas appointed Fayyad as prime minister after sacking a Hamas-led
      government in June. He has tried to reduce Hamas's influence in the
      West Bank by cutting its welfare network which it uses to acquire
      funding and gain popular support.

      Hamas lawmaker Ayman Daraghmeh said that the move was an attempt by
      Fayyad's government to "dry up the funding sources of the Hamas
      movement". He said he believed the committee heads were independent
      and not affiliated with Hamas.

      "Mistakes may have been made by some committees and this was used as a
      pretext by the government to close all the committees, but this step
      will badly affect the poor and it will paralyze charity work," he said.


      Have you read in your newspaper about it? If yes, compare the coverage
      with your newspaper's coverage of graffiti on a synagogue wall. Write
      to your newspaper and ask why it received no proper coverage. Write to
      the UN, and ask Ban, why Jewish anti-Christianism is not banned.

      A Jerusalem church torched.
      By The Associated Press

      J'lem church officials suspect extremist Jews behind arson

      A church in central Jerusalem was set afire before dawn Wednesday and
      suffered extensive damage, police said.

      Arsonists, suspected to be extremist Jews, forced their way into the
      church and set it afire, church officials said Wednesday.

      The sanctuary used by four separate congregations, including Baptists,
      had been burned down in 1982 by an ultranationalist Jewish group and
      later rebuilt, said a pastor at the church, Charles Kopp.

      "We all still need to learn the lessons of tolerance and to accept the
      different among us," said Kopp, an American who grew up in Los
      Angeles. "We don't suspect anyone specific but they were extremists
      for sure."

      Police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said no arrests had been made and it
      was not immediately clear what motive was behind the attack.

      The arsonists broke into the building late Tuesday, setting it afire
      in three different places. The floor was severely charred, windows
      were broken and several chairs were burned. No holy books were damaged
      in the fire, said Joseph Broom, the church's business services manager
      and a native of Charleston, South Carolina. Ben-Ruby had earlier said
      bibles were damaged.

      Jewish neighbors called the fire department and their quick response
      was what saved the structure, said Kopp, who has been at the church
      since 1966.

      Congregants at the church include international workers, students and
      Sudanese refugees who recently entered the country from Egypt, Kopp
      said. One of the congregations is made up of Messianic Jews, who
      consider themselves Jewish but believe in Jesus.

      In response to the attack, the Israeli office of the Anti-Defamation
      League, which monitors hate crimes, condemned the attack and called
      for tolerance.

      "The ADL strongly condemned this arson and apparent hate crime," the
      New-York based organization said. "We urged authorities to do
      everything in their power to protect all religious sites and see that
      the perpetrators of the crime are brought to justice.

      The church is located in the leafy, middle-class neighborhood of Rehavia.

      Ultra-Orthodox Jewish residents of a nearby area have in recent years
      begun moving into Rehavia and trying to impose their way of life on
      the neighborhood.

      Relations between religions are generally good in largely Jewish west
      Jerusalem, and violent incidents are rare.


      As the world forgets Gaza
      Al-Ahram Weekly Online

      Hyper-inflation and 80 per cent unemployment are the real target
      outcomes of Israel's siege on Gaza, writes Saleh Al-Naami

      It was an emotional scene. Relief was apparent on the faces of Mohamed
      Al-Masri and his wife Rania as they followed the nurse transferring
      their firstborn, 12-year-old Ahmed, from the operating room in Dar
      Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. The medical team had finally been able to
      perform surgery in Ahmed's ear to recover his hearing after Israel had
      temporarily barred the import of nitrous oxide, which is used as
      anaesthesia and is necessary for surgery to be performed. Israel had
      given permission to import this vital gas to Gaza Strip hospitals only
      the day prior to Ahmed's operation last week.

      The suspension on imports of nitrous oxide to Gaza Strip hospitals had
      forced their administrations to close down surgery departments and
      halt operations, except for those absolutely vital. Following
      resumption of the importation of this gas, medical crews worked
      additional hours to perform surgeries that had been delayed due to its
      shortage. Yet Bassem Naim, health minister in Ismail Haniyeh's
      dismissed government, says that the danger of Israel barring imports
      of nitrous oxide again remains. "There is a possibility of a health
      disaster occurring here anew, with patients dying because our
      hospitals are unable to conduct surgeries," he told Al-Ahram Weekly.
      "There is a need for international intervention to prevent this
      catastrophe from happening."

      Naim adds that the crisis the health sector is undergoing in the Gaza
      Strip is not limited to the possibility of nitrous oxide running out.
      It extends, rather, to the depletion of a number of medicines used in
      the treatment of patients with chronic illnesses. According to Naim,
      around 30-50 types of medicines have almost entirely run out. Perhaps
      the most important of these are medicines used by cardiac patients.
      Mariam Aliyan, 45, works in a civil institution in Rafah, the most
      southern point of Gaza, and was forced to take a month's vacation in
      fear that her health condition might worsen. Mariam has heart disease,
      and although her health condition is currently stable, her family
      members did not want her to risk deteriorating due to exhaustion and
      work while her heart medicine is depleted. This meant that she had to
      stay in hospital.

      Cardiology departments in Gaza Strip hospitals have begun to only
      accept cardiac patients who suffer badly from the medicine shortage
      and the lack of appropriate equipment. Mazen Al-Tatar, head of the
      cardiology department in Dar Al-Shifa Hospital -- the Strip's largest,
      located in Gaza City -- says that the Israeli siege has had an
      incredibly negative effect on cardiac patients because it has caused a
      severe shortage in many vital medicines that are difficult to obtain.
      He suggests that the siege has also affected medical equipment that
      has become unusable. The cardiology department that he heads, for
      example, has five monitoring devices, all of which are dysfunctional
      since they have been in use for over 17 years. Under normal
      conditions, he explains, they would be put out of use following a much
      shorter length of time.

      One of the glaring signs that health conditions in the Gaza Strip have
      severely deteriorated is the fact that Al-Wafa Medical Hospital, which
      specialises in the rehabilitation of patients with movement
      impairments, has halted most of its rehabilitation programmes.

      According to a statement issued by the hospital, the siege, including
      closure of commercial crossings, has "contributed significantly to
      obstructing and precluding a number of health programmes that serve
      the injured and disabled. It has also prevented necessary medicines
      and medical supplies from reaching hospitals, and barred patients from
      travelling abroad for treatment." As well as focussing on mobility,
      Al-Wafa Medical Hospital is the only hospital in Gaza that is
      specialised in cognition impairment resulting from accidents, neural
      conditions, and injuries incurred as a result of occupation army
      operations conducted in the occupied Palestinian territories.

      The siege and the shrinkage of commercial transactions between Gaza
      and the outside world have also led to a sharp rise in the prices of
      foodstuffs. By way of example, the price of a bag of flour has risen
      80 per cent; because of the 680,000 tonnes the Gaza Strip needs daily
      only 90 tonnes are permitted to enter. Similarly, the price of sugar
      has risen 60 per cent, in addition to various increases in the prices
      of other staple foodstuffs. Palestinians in Gaza cannot even dream of
      some other products, such as soft drinks, which are no longer
      imported. And the cost of tobacco has risen drastically, its price
      increasing by 150 per cent.

      As for building materials, their prices have risen astronomically
      after Israel has barred their import. A bag of cement, for example,
      has increased in price 10-fold. In practical terms, this lack of
      building materials due to the siege has exacerbated the unemployment
      problem to an unprecedented level. Unemployment has risen to over 80
      per cent of the labour force, and it is no longer possible to practise
      many of the professions that depend on the existence of building
      materials. As for industry, it has also halted due to the lack of raw

      Yet the worst for Palestinians in Gaza is yet to come. Israeli Defence
      Minister Ehud Barak has approved a series of collective punishments,
      ostensibly to force Palestinian resistance movements to stop firing
      homemade missiles on Israeli settlements surrounding the Strip.
      Israeli Deputy Minister of Defence Matan Vilnai, who headed the
      security committee that recommended the imposition of collective
      punishment, told Israeli television Channel One last Friday that this
      internationally outlawed form of state behaviour is a "legitimate
      means of placing pressure on Palestinian civilians to move against the
      factions that are targeting Israel." The Israeli government has
      approved the Vilnai recommendations, meaning that the humanitarian
      situation in Gaza will again and imminently be purposely worsened by

      Among the collective punishments the Israeli government has approved
      is a clause related to reducing the electricity supply into Gaza. This
      means that swathes of Gaza will be plunged into darkness with the
      onset of winter. The Israeli government has also decided to reduce the
      quantity of fuel that the Palestinian electricity generation station
      in central Gaza is allowed to import. According to statistics issued
      by the Popular Committee for Resisting the Siege (PCRS), cutting
      electricity will have a negative impact on water pumping stations,
      which means that water to homes will also be cut off for numerous
      hours every day. The quantity of fuel used for transportation and gas
      allocations for home use will also be limited. Wide sectors of the
      Palestinian population in Gaza are in a state of alarm, and gas
      distribution centres are extremely crowded with people filling gas
      canisters in expectation of supplies being cut off.

      Also among the collective sanctions approved by the Israeli government
      is the imposition of major restrictions on the movement of Palestinian
      citizens to and from the Gaza Strip.

      Representative Jamal Al-Khadri, who heads the PCRS, considers the
      Israeli sanctions as "violating the most basic of human rights and
      international conventions that allow humans to live in freedom and
      dignity." He told the Weekly that, "these measures will increase the
      suffering of the Palestinian people, and especially the ill and
      children. It will have negative ramifications on all fronts."

      Al-Khadri stressed that punishment of the Gaza Strip "would not
      contribute to the stability of the region or life in peace and
      security, and will increase suffering and aggravate the situation."

      Israeli journalists Avi Yesiskrof and Amos Heril have referenced top
      Israeli army leaders as saying that they recommended the imposition of
      collective punishment even while realising that this will not
      contribute to moving Palestinians to place pressure on the resistance
      to stop firing on Israeli settlements. The two journalists have
      pointed out that the collective punishment plan is aimed to prepare
      public opinion for a large-scale and lengthy military operation that
      Israel intends to conduct in Gaza. They also seek to convince the
      residents of Siderot settlement, which has been the target of most
      Palestinian resistance fire, that the Israeli army is doing everything
      that it can to protect them.

      Israeli writer and political analyst Uzi Benziman published an article
      in Haaretz newspaper stating that in addition to the fact that such
      punishments are unethical, they will certainly reap the opposite
      results, widening the circle of hatred for Israel among Palestinians
      and increasing the recruitment of young Palestinians to resistance
      activities. Benziman asserts that experience has shown that collective
      punishments imposed by Israel upon Palestinians have failed. "On the
      contrary, this approach has increased the motivation of Palestinian
      organisations to strike at Israel and increase the number of suicide
      bombers who want to take revenge," he wrote in Haaretz last Sunday.

      C a p t i o n : Palestinian workers demonstrate in Gaza against the
      increased cost of living



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