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New boats to break Gaza siege

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    Israel continues starvation of Gazans despite UN pleas Irish Sun November 21 2008 http://story.irishsun.com/index.php/ct/9/cid/2411cd3571b4f088/id/43313
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 5, 2008
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      Israel continues starvation of Gazans despite UN pleas
      Irish Sun
      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
      some relief.

      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
      rocket attacks.

      "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,
      Cyprus, Jordan

      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.



      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
      malnutrition rates.

      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
      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 territory.

      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.


      Swiss expert:
      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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