Julie Webb-Pullman reports

Posts tagged “Farmers

Vittorio Arrigoni Commemoration in Gaza: “I am a diamond, and you cannot break me.”

On April 15 a group of Palestinians, Italians, and an assortment of other nationalities bussed down to Khan Younis to honour Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian activist murdered on this day in Gaza three years ago. Vik, as he was popularly known, was widely loved and respected by the farmers and fishermen whom he accompanied to deter Israeli attacks against them during their work, as well as by the many he helped during Operation Cast Lead.

Arriving at the home of a farmer who worked with Vik, the group was led to a memorial erected in his honour in the front garden of the farmhouse, surrounded with palms and plants, and adorned with posters and Palestinian flags.

Memorial to Vittorio Arrigoni on Khan Younis farm

Memorial to Vittorio Arrigoni on Khan Younis farm

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UN Special Rapporteur: Israel must deliver on cease-fire agreement in the Gaza Strip

PRESS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER OF HUMAN RIGHTS

CAIRO (5 December 2012) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, Richard Falk, called today on Israel to abide by and fully implement the cease fire agreement that ended the recent crisis with Gaza.

The human rights expert has just concluded a week-long mission to the region, with the initial purpose assessing the overall impact of Israel’s prolonged occupation and blockade against the Gaza Strip, which is an integral part of Palestine. “However,” he explained, “there arose an urgent need to investigate Israel’s seemingly deliberate attacks against civilian targets during recent hostilities.”

“We visited the sites of attacks and spoke with surviving family members. It is clear that some attacks killed and harmed civilians in a grossly disproportionate manner and thus appear to violate international law,” Mr. Falk said. “There is a widespread feeling among Palestinians that Israel is above the law, and that it is likely to continue to have the benefits of impunity even when it flagrantly and repeatedly violates international human rights and humanitarian laws.”

“Experience has shown that Israel fails to meet its international obligation to promptly and impartially investigate its own actions,” he noted. “Experience has also shown that Israel is not likely to carry out its obligations under the cease fire agreement; indeed during our visit we heard Israeli warplanes flying directly overhead and received reports of Israeli military incursions into the Gaza Strip.”

The Special Rapporteur called for sustained pressure from the international community, including both Governments and civil society, to secure Israel’s full implementation of the cease fire agreement, noting that without such pressure it is extremely unlikely to hold. “Worldwide support for the recent General Assembly resolution that made Palestine a non-Member observer State should serve as a starting point for more concerted international protection of Palestinian rights,” he said.

Mr. Falk stressed that talks to clarify how certain aspects of the cease fire agreement will be implemented, in particular with regard to access to maritime and agricultural resources, must be swiftly concluded.

“Every day Palestinian fishermen and farmers risk being shot at or detained by Israeli forces. Already since the agreement was reached, Israel has detained 13 fishermen, confiscated 4 fishing boats and sank another fishing boat,” he said. “Such actions signal an Israeli intention to maintain its coercive style of occupation rather to explore whether implementing the ceasefire agreement might lead toward a more hopeful future.”

“Palestinians and the international community are confronted with huge challenges to address underlying problems that have been severely aggravated by Israel’s occupation and blockade,” the independent expert said, underscoring the urgent need for access to clean water and sanitation, productive agricultural land, and new infrastructure.

“We received extensive briefs on what could be done if sufficient resources and political will are made available,” he said. “One example is the construction of a desalinization plant to meet urgent water and agricultural needs, but in many such cases funding is not forthcoming as donors are reluctant to invest in infrastructure projects that Israel is likely to bomb in one of its periodic large-scale attacks against Gaza.”

According to the Special Rapporteur, “unless these underlying problems are addressed soon, it appears that Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020, as predicted by a recent UN report. Some of the experts with whom we spoke actually believe that 2016 is a more reasonable assessment. This indicates the gravity of the human rights crisis in the Gaza Strip.”

During his visit to Cairo and the Gaza Strip, Mr. Falk met with governmental, inter-governmental and civil society representatives, as well as victims and witnesses. He received briefings from the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and other UN agencies, which provided an in-depth picture of the magnitude of the challenges in Gaza and the difficulties of addressing such challenges in a situation of occupation and blockade. He expressed his special appreciation to the people of Gaza and the international civil servants with whom he spoke for their support and engagement.

Mr. Falk’s next report to the Human Rights Council, which he intends to present in June 2013, will fully address the many concerns that were raised during the mission.

ENDS

In 2008, the UN Human Rights Council designated Richard Falk (United States of America) as the fifth Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. The mandate was originally established in 1993 by the UN Commission on Human Rights. Learn more, log on to: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/countries/ps/mandate/index.htm

UN Human Rights – Occupied Palestinian Territories: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/MENARegion/Pages/PSIndex.aspx
UN Human Rights – Israel: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/ILIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Kevin Turner (+41 79 201 0122 / kturner@ohchr.org) or write to sropt@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)


Gaza: Truce or False?

30 November 2012

Since the Egyptian-sponsored ceasefire agreement between Gaza and Israel came into effect on 21 November 2012, Israeli military attacks on Gaza were supposed to end. Truce or false? See for yourself:

FISHERMEN

1. On Monday, 26 November 2012, Israeli gunboats intercepted a fishing boat while it sailed at 8 nautical miles out of the Gaza city shore. According to fisherman Amjad Ismail Ahmed al-Sherafi (38) from Gaza, at approximately 09:30, he and his brother Mohammad (34) sailed their in the Gaza waters when an Israeli gunboat intercepted him and forced him to stop at gunpoint and sail back without pulling his fishing nets out of the sea.

2. At approximately 10:00 on Wednesday, 28 November 2012, Israeli forces chased a fishing boat belonging to Murad Rajab al-Hessi, from Gaza, at nearly 6 nautical miles off the shore from Deir al-Balah. Mohammad Murad al-Hessi (39), Ahmed Murad al-Hessi (32), Murad Mohammad al-Hessi (18) and Rajab Rashad al-Hessi (36) were on board of the boat. 4 Israeli gunboats opened intensive fire at the boat, which caused damage to the boat. The Israeli soldiers then ordered the fishermen to jump into the water and swim towards the gunboat. They were all arrested and interrogated at gunpoint. 3 hours later, 4 of them were released. However, Mohammad Murad al-Hessi remains in detention. In addition, the boat still remains confiscated.

3. At approximately 08:00 on Wednesday, 28 November 2012, Israeli gunboats opened intense and direct fire at a Palestinian fishing boat, belonging to Khader Jamal Baker (20), from Gaza, while he sailed at 3.5 nautical miles. As a result, the fishing boat was destroyed. Baker was arrested by Israeli soldiers who interrogated with him at gunpoint for 3 hours before releasing him.

4. At approximately 11:00 on Wednesday, 28 November 2012, Israeli gunboats opened intense fire at a Palestinian fishing boat with 3 fishermen on board, belonging to Wafdi Suheil Baker (24), from Gaza, while sailing at 5 nautical miles off the Gaza shore. As a result of the shooting, the engine of the boat was damaged. The soldiers subsequently arrested the three fishermen, who were identified as: Wafdi Suheil Baker (24), Khaled Suheil Baker (20) and Mohammad Suheil Baker (18), all from Gaza.

5. At approximately 12:00 on Wednesday, 28 November 2012, Israeli gunboats opened fire directly and intensively at two Palestinian fishing boats belonging to Mohammad Najib Baker (60) and Tal’at Kamel Baker (22), both from Gaza, while they sailed at 3 nautical miles off the Gaza shore. As a result of the shooting, both boats were damaged.

6. At approximately 10:15 on Thursday, 29 November 2012, Israeli naval forces stationed off the Beit Lahia shore intercepted a fishing boat with 6 fishermen on board, belonging to Fahed Ziad Baker (38), from Gaza, while sailing at approximately 5 nautical miles off the Beit Lahia shore, in the northern Gaza Strip. The soldiers arrested the fishermen and investigated with them aboard the Israeli gunboat at gunpoint. Until now the fishermen remain in detention. The arrested fishermen were identified as: Fahed Ziad Baker (38), Ihab Jawad Baker (36), Mohammad Ziad Baker (32), Nai’m Fahed Baker (16), Ziad Faged Baker (18) and Ali Alaa Baker (18).

FARMS

1. On 22 November 2012, 6 Palestinians were wounded when the Israeli Forces at the border fence, east of al-Faraheen area in the southern Gaza Strip opened fire at dozens of Palestinians who headed to the fence.

2. On 22 November 2012, 2 Palestinians were wounded when the Israeli Forces opened fire at dozens of Palestinians who headed to the border area in the east of al-Shouka village, east of Rafah. Their wounds were described as moderate.

3. On 23 November 2012, 1 Palestinian was killed and 19 wounded when the Israeli Forces opened fire at a group of citizens gathered to perform Friday prayers on their land east of Khan Yunis. The dead man was identified as Anwar Abdul Hadi Qudaih (20).

4. On 25 November 2012, a Palestinian child was wounded when the Israeli Forces at the border fence, east of Khan Yunis , opened fire at a group of children who approached the fence in the east of Abassan, east of Khan Yunis.

5. On 26 November 2012, the Israeli Forces positioned at the border fence in the east of Khan Yunis fired at a group of children, who approached the border fence in the east of Abassan village. As a result, a child sustained minor injury.

6. On 26 November 2012, 2 Palestinians were wounded when the Israeli Forces positioned at the border fence in the east of Jabalya, in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at a group of civilians and famers, who were present near the border fence to challenge the Israeli decision to impose a buffer zone along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

7. On 27 November 2012, a Palestinian civilian was wounded when the Israeli Forces stationed at the border fence in the east of Abu Safiya gate, east of Jabalya, fired bullets and tear gas canisters at a number of civilians and farmers near the border fence.

8. On 27 November 2012, a Palestinian civilian was wounded when the Israeli Forces positioned at the border fence to the east of al-Shouka village, east of Rafah, opened fire at dozens of Palestinians near the border area.

9. On 28 November 2012, a Palestinian civilian was wounded when the Israeli Forces at the border fence in the east of Beit Hanoun opened fire at a group of Palestinian civilians and farmers near the area.

10. On 28 November 2012, 8 civilians, including 3 children, were wounded when the Israeli Forces fired at dozens of Palestinians who headed to the border fence in the east of al-Bureij and al-Maghazi refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip.

(Data from Palestinian Centre for Human Rights and Palestinian Ministry of Health)


Israel fires on Buffer Zone farmers, international journalists

28 November 2012

Today I went with Ministry of Agriculture reserachers, international activists and international journalists to the Gaza Buffer Zone at Juhrardeek to accompany a farmer to his fields.

AhmadHassan Badawi’s farm was attacked durin g the recent Israeli offensive, and his poultry farm destryed by shells from israeli tanks, which killed his 3,200 chickens. He is left only with his field crops, and some olive tress and flowers.

Of his 50 dunnums of land (1 dunnum = 1,000 sq m) Ahmad is only able to access 30, due to Israel declaring the rest of his land part of the buffer zone, and shooting him and his family if they try to farm it.

The slide show displays the quite large group of foreigners accompanying the researchers and farmers towards the fence, and the Israei response – this, after a caesefire agreement in which farmers are supposedly guaranteed access to their lands.

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One of Ahmad’s sons has already been shot in the leg – they told us that the only difference our presence makes is that Israel uses warning shots when foreigners are present, otherwise it shoots straight at them.