Julie Webb-Pullman reports

Palestine

27th Anniversary: Hamas is from the Palestinian people, and for Palestine

by Julie Webb-Pullman

Hamas in Nuseirat Photo: Julie Webb-Pullman

Hamas in Nuseirat Photo: Julie Webb-Pullman

“Hamas leaders come from the people,” senior official Dr Salah Al Bardawil told a huge crowd who took to the streets Friday in Nuseirat camp, Gaza, to celebrate 27 years since the birth of the Hamas movement.

“Hamas does not seek power or government, just Palestine’s liberation,” he said. (more…)


Har Nof Synagogue attack: Israel’s chickens come home to roost

by Julie Webb-Pullman
Source: Gaza SCOOP

A body being removed from the Har Nof synagogue (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)

A body being removed from the Har Nof synagogue (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)

Israel’s chickens are coming home to roost, along with those of the UN and the international community. How can anyone be surprised?

You cannot subject a people to 50 years of illegal occupation and expect no response. To illegal demolition of their houses, arbitrary detention, torture and inhumane prison conditions and expect no response. You cannot subject a people to ongoing theft of their land for the construction of illegal settlements, to living behind an illegal apartheid wall and expect no response. You cannot subject a people to an illegal siege and expect no response.

The international community has sat on its hands while the Israeli rogue state rode roughshod over the few rights left to Palestinians, with total impunity.

The UN has not enforced international law even ONCE in response to at least 80 breaches of UN Security Council Resolutions. The US has vetoed many more.

Endless negotiations with dishonest brokers have yielded less than nothing for Palestinians – less land, less water, less natural resources, less houses, less jobs, less opportunities, less travel. It is nothing less than scandalous that this has all taken place under the watch of the Useless Nations. (more…)


Hamas is not a monster, it is a legitimate national liberation movement

By Khalid Amayreh, Occupied Palestine

Hamas

The Judeo-Nazi propaganda machine has been trying rather rabidly to demonize Hamas, the Palestinian-Islamic Liberation Movement. Irate Israeli officials used every conceivable offensive epithet in the dictionary to besmirch Hamas’s image, like calling the group “terrorist” and “genocidal.”

The truth of the matter is that Hamas is neither terrorist nor genocidal. It is rather an Islamic-nationalist liberation group, not so different from other liberation movements, past and present. (more…)


Time to ‘Do Business’ With Hamas

by Alaa Tartir, Program Director, Al-Shabaka:The Palestinian Policy Network
Source: Huffington Post

Destroyed houses in Rafah

Destroyed houses in Rafah

Sadly, once again, the post-war recovery experts, their international consultancy firms, an international aid industry, and the donor community are ramping up for another Gaza reconstruction exercise. Another war, and another salvage effort for the besieged coastal strip. An international donors’ conference, a carbon copy of the 2009 Sharm El-Sheikh donor conference, is due to take place in Norway this September. There seems little doubt that conference participants will pledge another $5 billion (which may or may not be paid), in an effort that seems destined only to cover up the failure of the international community to stop the destruction before it started.

The donor conference does present an opportunity, however, to forge a new paradigm of aid politics. As a first step, Hamas must be invited to attend this round. Exclusion would only lead to repeated mistakes. It is time to re-evaluate the decision to exclude the party. (more…)


“Best prospect now for realizing Palestinian self-determination is grassroots mobilization”- UN rights expert

PRESS RELEASE
United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

GENEVA (8 May 2014) – The outgoing United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, today urged more businesses and civil society “to join the growing global solidarity movement to resist the prolonged Israeli occupation and creeping annexation of Palestine.”

His appeal comes in the wake of the collapsed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks brokered by the United States over the past nine months.

“Both Israelis and Palestinians deserve a just resolution to this conflict with human rights at its core, but the latest round of talks has again created false hopes and fuelled feelings of frustration,” the expert said. (more…)


The International Campaign condemns blocking of European Fact-Finding Visit to Israeli prisons

Protesting MPs' continued detention

Protesting MPs’ continued detention

PRESS RELEASE

The International Campaign for Releasing Abducted MPs strongly denounces the Israeli authorities for preventing a fact-finding committee comprised of members of the European Parliament from visiting Israeli prisons to investiagte the situation of abducted members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and other Palestinian prisoners.

The visit followed a request from the International Campaign to the European Parliament to investigate and report on the conditions faced by MPs inside Israeli jails.

The European Parliament decided to send a fact-finding committee, which arrived in Israel on 19 March 2014. However they received no co-operation whatsoever from the Israeli occupation authorities.

The Campaign considers this to be unethical behavior towards parliamentarians protected by parliamentary immunity, and points out that it is yet another example of the ongoing violations suffered by the Palestinian lawmakers, from persecution to abduction and deportation.

11 Palestinians MPs are still behind Israeli bars, being subjected to oppressive and illegal practices.

The Campaign calls for parliamentary and human rights organizations internationally to break the silence on the abduction and detention of Palestinian MPs, and to hold Israel accountable for the crimes it is committing against them, and other Palestinian prisoners.

The International Campaign For Freeing PLC members
Email: FreePLC2009@gmail.com


Palestinian resistance responds to Israeli aggressions

A General Summary has been reported of operations carried out by the Palestinian resistance against the Zionist enemy in response to the Zionist crimes in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip until this moment:
1 – Firing rockets at settlements in the Negev.
2 – Launch rockets at Sderot.
3 – Launch rockets at settlements adjacent to the Gaza Strip.
4 – The bombing of a Zionist military site “Sofa” by rockets and developed mortar heavily.
5 – The bombing of a Zionist military site “Kissufim” by rockets and mortar developed heavily.

It has also been reported that the Israeli army has declared a state of high alert in the south, and called for settlers to go to the shelters.


Open Letter to Oxfam CEO Mark Goldring re Scarlett Johannson & SodaStream

Dear Mark,

Oxfam global ambassadors must demonstrate that they are worthy of both Oxfam’s and the international community’s respect by conducting themselves in a manner commensurate with the principles of Oxfam.

A person promoting – thus condoning – gross breaches of international law, is surely not a suitable Global Ambassador for Oxfam.

Oxfam Global Ambassador Scarlett Johannson has signed on to a SodaStream Endorsement deal. SodaStream is an Israeli company that makes products in a settlement built on West Bank territory Israel has occupied since 1967. Such settlements are illegal under international law, and the subject of several United Nations Resolutions.

Continuing to use Scarlett Johannson as an Oxfam Global Ambassador implies that Oxfam also condones these practices, which contravene the rights of Palestinians and the will of the international community, as well as international law.

If thumbing its nose at international law has become one of the principles of Oxfam, the international community – who provides a significant proportion of Oxfam’s funding – has the right to a clear statement on it, not to be fobbed off with secret “dialogue” between Oxfam and Scarlett Johannson.

In the circumstances, the clearest statement that Oxfam does NOT condone breaking international law, or profiteering from illegal Israeli settlement activity, is to immediately dissociate the organisation from the person promoting such practices – Scarlett Johansson.

Oxfam cannot expect either continued support OR respect from the international community otherwise.

Is an ethics-deficient Hollywood actress really worth so much more than the years of goodwill, assistance and hard work Oxfam has achieved to date, and with good judgement and good leadership, could continue to achieve?

Every minute that Oxfam prevaricates on this issue causes more damage to Palestinians, to Oxfam, and to the people it was designed to help – the poor, not transnational companies contravening international law, and exploiting Palestinians for commercial profit.

I draw your attention to a statement made in the Guardian a few months after your appointment to the position of CEO of Oxfam: “We want an organisation that represents the next 50 years, not the last 50.

I also want Oxfam to be an organisation that represents the next 50 years – of justice, freedom and economic opportunity for Palestinians on their own lands, not the last 50 years that have represented nothing but ethnic cleansing, displacement, land theft, and loss of Palestinian life and liberty through illegal Israeli settlements.

As CEO I ask you to take a step towards that future, and immediately relieve Scarlett Johannson of her Oxfam Global Ambassadorship.


Just Gaza

(First published here)

22 November marked the first anniversary of the 2012 Israeli Operation Pillar of Cloud offensive against Gaza. It would be good to be able to say that it marked the END of that offensive, but as events over past days have clearly shown, it did not. Why not?

Maybe if we look to the body charged with ensuring international peace – The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) – it might hold some clues.

Assassinations
The Operation Pillar of Cloud offensive began on 14 November 2012 with the assassination of Ahmed Al-Jabari, head of Al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. What did the UNSC have to say about this extra-judicial killing?

Nothing. The assassination of Ahmed al-Jabari by the state of Israel did not attract a single statement, let alone a UNSC Resolution condemning it – unlike the assassination by Zionist terrorists on 17 September 1948 of the UN Mediator in Palestine, Count Folke Bernadotte, which was denounced in UNSC Resolution 57 the very next day, or even the assassination in Tunisia on 16 April 1988 of the founder of Fatah, Khalil Al-Wazir, denounced over a week later in UNSC Res. 611.

Both of these gentlemen’s murders were roundly condemned by the international community, yet the UNSC remained as silent on the political assassination of Al-Jabiri as it did on the assassinations of at least another 24 Palestinian political leaders killed by Israel between 1972 and 2012. (See appendix)

However, in 2011 the UNSC managed to condemn the assassination of Chairman of the Afghanistan High Peace Council and former president Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani in Afghanistan, in the 2000’s it condemned all targeted assassinations of Lebanese leaders, and in the 1990’s it condemned the assassination of officials of the legitimate Government in Haiti and the attempted assassination of Egyptian President Hosni Mubrak in Ethiopia.

The only straw Palestinians have to clutch at is that in the 1980’s the UNSC did manage to condemn the attempted assassinations of the mayors of Nablus, Ramallah and Al Bireh.

That was when Jimmy Carter was president of the United States. No US president since has had the courage or moral fibre to not only apprise themselves of the ‘facts on the ground’, but also to publicly disseminate them, as Carter has belatedly done.

On the contrary, every US president since has used their power of veto in the UNSC to block almost every resolution condemning Israeli actions against Palestinian interests.

Civilian Targets and Excessive Force
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reported that during Operation Pillar of Cloud, over 100 of the 171 Palestinians killed were civilians, including 20 elderly people, and 35 children. 625 of the 648 wounded were civilians, including 214 children, 93 women, and 16 people with disabilities.

Entire families were wiped out by direct targeting of residential properties by missiles with warheads weighing hundreds of kilograms – the al-Dalu and Hijazi family homes, and Bassel al-Shawa’s apartment between them accounting for 19 deaths including seven children, and 32 injured.

196 residential units housing 1,229 people were destroyed, and another 243 were severely damaged. 233 public facilities, including religious, educational, health, sports, industrial, commercial and agricultural facilities, four media institutions and four banks were also struck.

Deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian targets and use of excessive force constitute war crimes, and breach a number of UN instruments, particularly the Geneva Convention. What did the UNSC do? Held an emergency meeting on 14-15 November 2012, and came to no decision.

In the 1970’s the UNSC strongly condemned Portugal for the invasion of Guinea territory, and grieved at the loss of life and extensive damage caused by Portugal’s invasion, and in the years since has managed to make similar statements defending the self-determination and territorial integrity of Namibia, East Timor, and several other countries under threat – but seemingly cannot muster the same moral fibre when it comes to Gaza.

Would another UNSC Resolution have made any difference? After all, since 1955 the UNSC has made 43 Resolutions condemning, deploring, noting concern, calling on or making demands of Israel in relation to Palestinian rights – sometimes merely just to comply with prior UN decisions – but all to no avail.

Israel apparently enjoys total impunity, routinely thumbing its nose at the international community – and at the UN itself.

Add the US power of veto in the UNSC and the situation is even more daunting. As Stephen Lendman noted in 2006, over the last 50 years the US has used its Security Council veto dozens of times to prevent resolutions condemning Israel for its abusive or hostile actions.

“By its actions and with 6% of the world’s population, the US has thus arrogantly ignored the will of nearly all the other 94% to support its client state even when Israel had committed war crimes or crimes against humanity the rest of the world demanded it be held to account for,” he wrote.

Ceasefire
In the first three months after the so-called Pillar of Cloud ceasefire agreement, there were over 800 violations of the truce by Israel and just two by Palestinians, according to data collected by the United Nations, the Israeli Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement (GISHA), the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, and Israeli and Palestinian media outlets.

Who has investigated these breaches? Enforced this agreement? The answer is obvious – no-one, least of all the UNSC.

When has Israel ever kept its word, which ceasefire agreement has it ever observed? What agreement has it ever honoured? Oslo? Camp David?

Without minimising the situation in the rest of Palestine, where territorial integrity and rights are trampled by occupation, settlements, excessive use of force, deportations, house demolitions, arbitrary detention, extra-judicial killings and particularly gross abuses of the rights of children, the current situation in Gaza a year after the so-called truce is dire.

Even such Geneva Convention basics as ensuring the living conditions of the civilian population following hostilities by the maintenance of essential public utility services, for example water and sanitation, electricity supply, are patently absent in Gaza one year after Operation Pillar of Cloud.

Not content with destroying housing and infrastructure, Israel in collusion with post-coup Egypt, now prevents all building materials from entering the Gaza Strip, meaning that essential reconstruction of buildings and services destroyed or damaged in the offensive cannot proceed.

Israeli Blockade
The UN reports the humanitarian situation in Gaza today is at crisis point, with sewage flowing in the streets and power cuts of 16 hours a day, while other humanitarian organisations report lack of essential medicines, water, employment and other necessities of life.

Even the UN’s own agencies are not immune from the Israeli/Egyptian stranglehold. UNRWA chief Filippo Grandi told donor representatives last week that 19 of its 20 construction projects in Gaza had ground to a halt because since March the agency had not had any construction projects cleared by the Israeli government, and for the past month, has been unable to import building materials.

“First and foremost, the Israeli blockade – which is illegal – must be lifted,” he said.

Based on the failed notion of trying to subdue an entire people by famine in all its forms, the Israeli blockade of Gaza is clearly an act which violates international law, contradicts the aims and principles of the United Nations Charter, and is a transgression of the right to peace, development, self-determination and safety.

Not only UNRWA’s Grandi, but also the UN Goldstone Report, the UN Human Rights Council’s Independent Experts, and other UN agencies all hold that the Israeli blockade of Gaza is illegal.

So who will force Israel to lift it?

Is the international community, particularly its peace-making and peace-keeping instrument the veto-encumbered UNSC, up to the task?

UNSC
We have seen that when it wants to, the UNSC IS capable of condemning the type of political assassinations that launched Operation Pillar of Cloud, we have seen it IS capable of condemning war crimes and crimes against humanity similar to those perpetrated against Gaza during that Israeli offensive, and we have seen it IS capable of demanding and achieving access to the types of public utilities and humanitarian aid currently denied Gaza.

So why is it ignoring Gaza’s plight? Because they are ‘just Palestinians’?

Yes, they are just Palestinians – they are JUST Palestinians. And like every world citizen, they deserve justice.

Is it not time that the UNSC acted not only in accord with its own agencies, but also with the principles of the UN Charter, and delivered justice to Gaza?

Is it not possible that maybe, just maybe, the US will have another principled Carter-moment, and support a UNSC resolution in the interests of justice, not Israel, that resolves to lift the illegal blockade of Gaza, as a first step towards Palestinian peace?

Wouldn’t that be a change Obama could be remembered by!

The alternative is certain death for thousands more Palestinians.

APPENDIX

This is not an exhaustive list of all assassinations of Palestinians by Israel, merely of many Palestinian political leaders. Nor does it include the assassination of Yasser Arafat, as this has yet to be investigated to determine who was responsible.

In addition to actual killings, there have been several unsuccessful assassination attempts, most notably those of September 1997 on Khaled Meshaal, chairman of Hamas’ political bureau, in Amman, Jordan, and of August 2001 on senior Fatah member Marwan Bargouthi in the West Bank.

In the former, Israeli agents attempted to kill Meshaal by injecting poison into his ear. The latter saw Israeli forces launch at least two missiles at a convoy of cars carrying Bargouthi, which missed his vehicle.
Although Israel denies responsibility for some of the above killings, it does, however, admit to more than 200 targeted assassinations since 1956.

Assassinations of Palestinian political leaders by Israel 1972 – 2012

1970’s

8 July 8 1972 – Ghassan Kanafani, member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Palestinian author, major international literary figure and intellectual, killed in Beirut by a Mossad car bomb.

16 October 1972 – Wael Zwaiter, Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) representative to Italy, renowned Palestinian intellectual and pacifist, shot and killed by Israeli agents in Rome.

28 March 1978 – Wadie Haddad, senior member of the PFLP, dies in East Germany from slow-acting poison ingested several months earlier. It is later revealed that Israeli agents were behind his murder.

1980’s

21 August 1983 – Mamoun Meraish, senior PLO official and top aid to Yasser Arafat, is shot and killed by Israeli agents in Athens, Greece. According to later Israeli press reports, future Foreign Minister (currently Minister of Justice) Tzipi Livni is involved in Meraish’s killing.

9 June 1986 – Khalid Nazzal, Secretary of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), is shot dead by Israeli agents in Athens, Greece.

October 1986 – Munzer Abu Ghazala, member of the PLO’s Supreme Military Council, killed by an Israeli car bomb in Athens, Greece

16 April 1988 – Khalil al-Wazir, military chief of the PLO, and founder of Fatah, shot dead in Tunisia. The US State Department condemns the murder as an “act of political assassination.”

1990’s

26 October 1995 – Fathi Shiqaqi, a founder of Islamic Jihad, shot by Mossad agents in Malta, as he leaves his hotel.

5 January 1996 – Yahya Ayash, Hamas military commander, killed in Gaza by an Israeli explosive device planted in his cell phone.

2000’s

25 July 2001 – Salah Darwazeh, senior Hamas activist, killed by Israeli ground-to-ground anti-tank missiles fired at his car in the West Bank.

29 July 2001 – Jamal Mansour, a senior member of Hamas’ political wing, killed in an Israeli helicopter strike on his workplace.

5 August 2001 – Amer Mansour Habiri, member of Hamas, killed by Israeli helicopter strike on his car in Tulkarem.

15 August 2001 – Emad Abu Sneineh, a member of the Fatah Tanzim militia, killed in Hebron by undercover Israeli agents.

27 August 2001 – Abu Ali Mustafa, secretary general of the PFLP, killed by Israel using US-made Apache helicopter gunships to attack his office in Ramallah.

23 November 2001 – Mahmoud Abu Hanoud, senior Hamas military leader, killed by Israeli helicopter strike on his car near Nablus.

14 January 2002 – Raed Karmi, a leader in Fatah’s Al Aqsa Brigades, killed by an Israeli bomb planted outside his Tulkaram home following a ceasefire agreement

23 July 2002 – Salah Shehada, Hamas leader, killed when Israel bombed his Gaza apartment building, also killing 14 others including 9 children, and scuttling a ceasefire agreement.

8 March 2003 – Ibrahim Maqadma, one of the founders and top military commanders of Hamas, killed by four missiles from two Israeli helicopters fired at his car in Gaza.

22 March 2004 – Sheik Ahmed Yassin, 67-year-old wheelchair-bound spiritual leader and co-founder of Hamas, killed by Israeli rockets as he left morning prayers at a Gaza City mosque. Nine bystanders were also killed.

17 April 2004 – Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a co-founder of Hamas and its leader since the assassination of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, killed by an Israeli helicopter strike on his car

8 June 2006 – Jamal Abu Samhadana, founder of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) and Interior Minister of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government, killed by Israeli rocket attack in Rafah.

1 January 2009 – Nizar Rayan, senior Hamas leader, killed in Israeli rocket attack on his home, which also killed 15 of his family members, including 11 children

15 January 2009 – Said Seyam, prominent Hamas leader and Interior Minister of the elected government of Ismail Haneyya, killed in an Israeli airstrike on his brother’s central Gaza City house. Seven others were also killed.

2010’s

19 January 2010 – Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, senior Hamas leader, killed by Israeli agents in Dubai

9 March 2012 – Zuhair al-Qaisi, head of the Gaza-based PRC, killed in an Israeli rocket attack on his car in Gaza City. His aide, Mohammed Hannani, was also killed.

14 November 2012 – Ahmed al-Jabari, head of Al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, killed in an Israeli rocket attack on his car in Gaza City.