Julie Webb-Pullman reports

Siege

Gaza civilians demand action from the ICC

Palestinian victims today urged the Prosecutor of the ICC to move her preliminary examination of Palestine into a full investigation, with a complaint drafted by 40 lawyers from the Gaza Bar representing some 50 Palestinian trade unions, associations and civil society organizations plus 448 individual victims. The action was filed with the ICC by Maître Gilles Devers.

Palestinians file lawsuit against Israel at ICC

The procedure concerns three crimes:
– the blockade of Gaza
– the Israeli aggression in the summer of 2014
– the Israeli settlement of Palestine.

At a press conference in The Hague prior to submitting the complaint to the ICC, Mr Devers said that it was time for prosecutor to move the case forward.

“It is two years since Palestine has been under preliminary examination,” he said. “In Gaza, we think two years is too long.”

At a simultaneous press conference in Gaza attended by the lawyers and complainants, Basman AlAshi, Chief Executive of Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital said there is a wealth of evidence available to the Prosecutor.

“All the prosecutor of the ICC needs to open a full investigation is that there is a reasonable basis for believing that crimes within the jurisdiction of the court have been committed. The destruction of Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital, a protected place under the Geneva Convention, provides that basis. So do the attacks on Al Aqsa, Durrah and Beit Hanoun Hospitals.”

Dr Mariam Abu Daqqa described the treatment of women prisoners in Israeli detention, from being arbitrarily detained to torture, being deprived of contact with their children, and appalling living conditions. She also noted the huge number of child prisoners, and the failure of Israeli authorities to accord them even the most minimum standards of treatment demanded by international conventions.

Lawyer Mahmoud Afana emphasised the illegality of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, which breaches several aspects of international law, such as the right to self-determination, as well as many of the rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Afana described the ten-year siege of Gaza as collective punishment which constitutes “… a genocidal humanitarian crisis happening in full view of the world.”

Rana Shubeir, speaking on behalf of civil society and young people, said that they are sick of living a life of fear:
fear of being denied travel for study or medical treatment, fear of another aggression, fear of never finding a job in “this black hole of deprivation and suffering.”

“We only want to enjoy the basic human rights which are guaranteed under international and humanitarian law. We want to live knowing that the future of our children will be as bright as their innocent smiles. The only way this can be achieved is through the application of justice – and that is all we ask from the ICC – apply the rules, and open a full investigation into Palestine,” she said.

Gilles Devers emphasised that this action is just the beginning of a long struggle, noting they are well-organized and determined.

He said the group was also hoping to persuade the ICC to open a full investigation “as a matter of urgency” into the situation in East Jerusalem, where Israeli authorities are imposing severe restrictions on and around Al Aqsa Mosque, and violently attacking Palestinians protesting their repressive actions against the third most holy site in islam.

“Justice is the response to violence. We call for the strengthening of this legal action. This action must be intensified. Our strength is the determination of the Palestinian people to defend their rights.”


Donors, or enablers? Cairo’s ‘Gaza Reconstruction Conference’

by Julie Webb-Pullman
Source: Middle East Monitor

Egypt is currently blocking injured Gazans leaving the Gaza Strip, and blocking the flow of reconstruction materials to Gaza

Egypt is currently blocking injured Gazans leaving the Gaza Strip, and blocking the flow of reconstruction materials to Gaza

CAIRO’S Gaza Reconstruction Conference, you ask incredulously? And well you might – after all, Egypt is currently preventing the entry of materials to complete Qatari-funded projects in Gaza addressing the destruction of previous Israeli offensives. Building of roads, housing estates and hospitals have all ground to a halt despite being underway well before the latest Israeli war crimes in Gaza – crimes which have only further increased the need. (more…)


A Severely Dashed Hope

A Severely Dashed Hope.

by Saleh Orouq

saleh (400 x 399)

After I was chosen for a week summer school in New York from among more than 15,000 applicants -yes, more than 15,000 applicants-, I got jubilant to the extent that I couldn’t study for my final exams. I got so happy that I unvoluntarily kissed my brother before even telling him that I was chosen; I rushed and kissed my parents and my little brother as well. I promised my little brother to buy him the best gift I could get from the U.S.

My friends, my true ones, were so happy that I got such an opportunity of lifetime. I planned to have sheets on which my friends’ names to be written and to picture these sheets in front of the Statue of Freedom- I don’t know why I just smiled mockingly while typing “Freedom”. (more…)


Why the Egyptian-Israel truce proposal falls on deaf ears

by Julie Webb-Pullman
Source: Middle East Monitor

No guarantee to open Rafah Crossing or lift the crippling siege

No guarantee to open Rafah Crossing or lift the crippling siege

The cynical ‘ceasefire’ chorus being sung by Israel and Egypt is merely yet another movement in the well-orchestrated Israeli-Egyptian three-penny opera.

The way in which the ‘negotiations’ were carried out was more farce than finale – Egypt wrote the libretto for the Israeli impresario, leaving the Palestinians in the wings.

The terms themselves are a three-act charade. The Israeli-Egyptian duet omits a core Hamas demand – any mention of the release of more than 50 Palestinian prisoners released in the 2011 Shalit swap who were re-detained during the recent West Bank ‘search’ for three missing Israeli settlers.

Nor does it commit to either re-open the Rafah Crossing between Gaza and Egypt, or to lift the crippling – and illegal – Israeli siege of Gaza, merely saying that “crossings shall be opened and the movement of persons and goods through (them) shall be facilitated once the security situation becomes stable on the ground.” Both of these are core demands of the entire Palestinian resistance – Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP and everyone in between.

Any ceasefire that does not change the fundamental paradigm, a hermetically-sealed Gaza and a ‘normal Israel,’ will garner only encore after encore, as every previous performance has done. Read more HERE


Gaza’s Ark Attacked

PRESS RELEASE – GAZA’S ARK

For immediate release

Gaza City – Gaza

At 3:45 AM Gaza time on April 29th, the night guard on board Gaza’s Ark received a call to leave the boat because it was going to be attacked.

The guard left, but when nothing happened, he returned after 5 minutes. A few minutes later, a large explosion rocked the boat causing extensive damage.

The boat sank part way and is now sitting on the shallow sea floor. The guard was not injured but was taken to hospital for tests.

Gaza's Ark now resting on the sea floor

Gaza’s Ark now resting on the sea floor

(more…)


Khudari: Poverty rate in Gaza over 50%

Jamal Al-Khudari

Jamal Al-Khudari

MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the Popular Committee Against the Siege, said on Wednesday that the poverty and unemployment rates in Gaza had surpassed 50% due to the Israeli blockade that has entered its 8th consecutive year.

Khudari added that more than one million citizens in Gaza Strip depend on aid relief to survive, and the per capita income does not exceed two dollars a day.

He stressed that the humanitarian situation in Gaza has reached horrrific proportions, and is affecting all aspects of life.

The harsh economic and humanitarian conditions due to the Israeli blockade have been exacerbated by the Egyptian closure of all border tunnels, which used to provide the beleaguered Strip with a portion of its needs.

The MP called on the international community to immediately apply pressure for the lifting the siege on Gaza, to avoid further deterioration of the already-critical humanitarian conditions.


Committee to Break the Siege demands opening of borders, as EU warns of serious consequences, and Israel bombs

The National Committee to Break the Siege and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza held a Press Conference outside the Egyptian Embassy in Gaza on Wednesday to demand the opening of Gaza’s borders.

Under the banner of “We’ll Stay Free, End The Siege” the speakers highlighted the perilous humanitarian conditions now prevailing in Gaza. Adham Abu Selmeh, Arabic spokesman of the Committee, demanded that the international community act immediately to enforce humanitarian law and end the suffering of Gazans.

In the video, English spokeswomen Huda Skaik provides a translation of his speech at 9 minutes in.

Hours later, the European Union released a report warning of dire consequences for the region of ignoring the plight of Gaza, and highlighting the economic damage caused by both the blockade Israel imposed in 2006, and Egypt’s destruction of hundreds of cross-border tunnels after the July ouster of president Mohamed Morsi.

Emphasizing that Israel bears the prime responsibility for the situation, The EU Report said Gaza is facing a dangerous and pressing humanitarian and economic situation.

It warned that if left unaddressed, the situation could have serious consequences for stability in Gaza, and for regional security.

Meanwhile, Israel carried out a series of overnight airstrikes on Gaza, punishing the Palestinian population for the legitimate defensive response of its resistance to an Israeli incursion into Gaza territory on Tuesday morning, yet another of the 150+ documented Israeli breaches of the November 2012 truce.

Israel followed up their border breach with the killing of three of the resistance fighters defending Gaza’s territorial integrity. This brought to seven the total of Palestinians killed by Israel within 24 hours, and resulted in dozens of resistance rockets being fired into Israel in response.

The tens of Israeli airstrikes overnight caused considerable destruction, but no injuries.

It seems only Quisling Cameron and the USraeli president still believe the fiction of Israel’s commitment to peace – hundreds of breaches of the truce, and thousands of dead Palestinians prove otherwise.


Gaza Minister of Health declares state of emergency

Photo by Wafaa H. Aburahma

Photo by Wafaa H. Aburahma

As the situation in Gaza deteriorates due to snow and freezing temperatures on top of electricity cuts, the Minister of Health Dr Mufiz al-Makhalalati has declared a state of emergency, and called on all his personnel to assist the Civil Defence crews and municipalities in alleviating the distress.

Already 146 households accounting for 734 people have been forced to take emergency shelter in nearby schools and police stations, while 500 families, or more than 3200 people, have received assistance such as food, clothing and blankets.

The situation is dire and will get worse, with the current temperature at 3 degrees Celsius, and more bad weather predicted. The young and the old are particularly vulnerable, and desperately need electricity for warmth, and medications.

International governments and all people of good conscience must act quickly to ensure that Gaza’s suffering ends now, by forcing an end to the Israeli siege thus letting in the fuel required to run the power plants, essential medicines and medical supplies, and the equipment needed to provide emergency civil defence services – not only for this particular crisis, but on a permanent basis.


The Bald-Faced Lie of Democracy, and the Patent Irrelevance of the UN

The latest UN vote on Cuba could not be a better and more flagrant example of just how well democracy works in the world, and an even better example of just what value the UN has in upholding not only democracy but also the principles of international law on which the organisation is supposedly founded.

For the 21st year in a row, the overwhelming majority of the countries in the United Nations voted to lift the United States blockade on Cuba – this year the vote was 188 for, with three against (the US, Israel, and Palau).

For the 21st year in a row, we can probably rest assured that the US, Israel and quisling Palau will prevail DESPITE this international democratic decision, and the blockade on Cuba will remain in place, as it has done in face of the last 21 votes in Cuba’s favour.

The implications for the Middle East are considerable.

If the 50-year+ blockade on Cuba can remain in place despite 21 years of UN votes against it, what hope is there for Gaza, and the illegal and criminal siege to which they are currently subjected by Israel? For Iran, and its blockade under the guise of sanctions, merely for having the potential to do what the US and Israel have already done without censure or sanction?

If this is the outcome for much-touted ‘democratic processes’ and ‘international law’ elsewhere, why should the Middle East and its ‘Arab Spring’ think that its revolutions, its move from ‘tyrannical rule’ to ‘democracies’ will be subject to any less tyranny than that wielded over the entire world by the US, Israel and the Palau poodle?

Unless and until an international system is developed that is capable of breaking the hypocritical stranglehold over international mechanisms by the US, Israel and their pathetic puppy, and of ENFORCING the outcomes of their democratic processes as well as the principles of international law, nothing will change – except the names.

TEXT OF CUBAN EMBASSY PRESS RELEASE RE UN VOTE

Press Release
13 November 2012

International community unequivocally rejects the blockade impose by the United States of America against Cuba.

For the twenty first consecutive time Tuesday November 13th, 2012, Cuba obtained a significant victory in the United Nations General Assembly, when once again the resolution entitled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba” was adopted with the almost unanimous support of UN Member States.

The resolution passed with a vote in favour of 188 countries. Only the USA, Israel and Palau voted in isolation against the text.

This result reaffirms once more the unequivocal rejection of the international community to the US blockade against Cuba and also shows its support for the just demand of the Cuban people to put an end to this illegal policy.

The economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States government against Cuba has been maintained and further tightened despite the growing and categorical demand by the international community —in particular the United Nations General Assembly— for its elimination.

The blockade violates International Law, runs contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, and constitutes a contravention of a sovereign state’s right to peace, development and security. In its essence and objectives, the blockade represents an act of unilateral aggression and a permanent threat against the stability of a nation. The blockade constitutes a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of human rights of the entire Cuban population. It also violates the constitutional rights of US citizens by denying them the freedom to travel to Cuba, and encroaches on the sovereign rights of many other states because of its extraterritorial nature.

The extra-territorial application of the blockade has been extraordinarily reinforced, as proven by the strengthening of the sanctions and persecution against third countries’ citizens, institutions and companies that establish or intend to establish economic, commercial, and financial relations with Cuba.

At the same time, the persecution of Cuba’s international financial transactions included those coming from multilateral organizations for the cooperation with the island, has been increased under the current US administration.

The blockade continues to be an absurd, illegal and morally unjustifiable policy which has not succeeded and never will succeed in undermining the Cuban people’s patriotic decision to defend its sovereignty, independence and right to self-determination. It has only succeeded in subjecting the Cuban population to shortages and needless suffering, in restricting and hindering the development of the country and in seriously damaging the Cuban economy. It is the main hindrance to Cuba’s economic and social development.

The direct economic damage to the Cuban people by the implementation of the economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States against Cuba until December 2011 based on the current prices and calculated in a very conservative way, amount to over 108 billion dollars.

The blockade policy is not only rejected by the overwhelming majority of the international community, but also is increasingly rejected within the United States. The United States must lift it immediately and unconditionally.


IHH’s Mehmet Kaya on Mavi Marmara Court Case

Gaza City
04 November 2012

Mehmet Kaya, IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation Gaza Representative, today addressed a Press Conference at the Mavi Marmara Martyrs’ Monument at Gaza sea port about the Mavi Marmara trial against Israel which will begin at Çağlayan Courthouse in İstanbul on 06 November, and is expected to last three days.

Mehmet Kaya, IHH Gaza (2nd from right), and Ghazi Hamad , Gaza Deputy Foreign Minister (right) at Mavi Marmara Martyrs’ Memorial, Gaza Sea Port

IHH was one of the organisers of the Freedom Flotilla, and has played a significant role in getting the case to trial.

In an exclusive interview, Mehmet Kaya said that the significance of the trial is that Israel will be held accountable for killing “our brothers and friends in international waters”

He said the case is against Israel, the Israeli army, and the President, and that they hope to prevent them travelling freely around the world because they are guilty of crimes against humanity and crimes against Turkey.

He is not concerned that Israel may ignore the court case and its decision, as he believes Turkey will get justice in the end, although it will take some time.

Mehmet Kaya called on the international community to do the same as Turkey, and hold Israel accountable for its actions.

Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, and Law Professor, endorses Turkey’s action in this matter, saying that Turkey’s initiative shows how national courts can play a role in setting international law in motion.

Speaking to Zümrüt Sönmez from IHH Media Department recently in Istanbul,Falk said that international law, particularly the United Nations, failed in the aftermath of the Mavi Marmara attack, and that the staging of such a trial in Turkey is a significant effort in terms of guarding the values of international law, and making it effective.

IHH reports that the defendants in the trial are former Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of General Staff General Gabi Ashkenazi, Naval Forces commander Vice Admiral Eliezer Marom, Israel’s military intelligence chief Major General Amos Yadlin and Air Forces Intelligence head Brigadier General Avishai Levi. They will be tried as “fugitive suspects.”

There are 490 complainants and victims in the case including flotilla passengers from 37 countries, and relatives of the martyrs.

Flotilla passengers from Turkey and other parts of the world, relatives of the Mavi Marmara martyrs and their lawyers will be present at the trial. The trial will be closely followed by human rights observers from Turkey and abroad, media members, jurists and representatives of non-governmental organizations.