Sunday, July 31, 2005
Upon their return to Balata, Saleh's father gathered his children around him. "You remember the house? It's our house," he said, holding up a rusty object Saleh had never seen before. "I have the key." Read more.
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Arab Killer Slouches To Paris
Ariel Sharon, prolific, prodigious killer of Arabs, receives a cordial reception from morally deficient western leaders. For some of Sharon's latest handiwork, see pictures of the latest Palestinian kids he's maimed and slaughtered just this week.
Light Unto Nations Spreads Its Sunshine
Portrait of Courage
Yousuf Hasses before he was shot through the head by the vicious Israeli Colonisation Enforcing Army. Notice the lack of body armor.
Imprisoned in Their Own Land By Brutal Jewish Supremacists
Let My People Go!
Abu Holi closure. This mother and children are a bit luckier than Laila El-Haddad who wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post that her sixteen month old son almost fainted from hours of waiting in an unairconditioned bus at the Rafah checkpoint.
Mourning Yousuf, Young Freedom Fighter Shot Through Head
These women are mourning the death of Yousuf Hasses of Zbouba, near Jenin. Yousuf had the courage to throw rocks at the criminal Israeli military machine.
Song of Infamy
This raging Gaza colonist sings for colonisation; he sings for apartheid; he sings for ethnic cleansing; he sings for Jewish supremacy; he sings for extrajudicial assasinations; he sings for shooting kids through the head; he sings for uprooting olive trees; he sings for razing zoos; he sings for racism; he sings for house demolitions; he sings for separation roads; he sings for hogging water; he sings for greed; he sings for inhumanity; he sings his song of relentless, unabashed evil.
'The Sorrow and the Pity'
Yousuf Hasses, another Palestinian kid shot through the head for courageously throwing stones against vicious colonizing usurpers who think that they have a God given right to other people's lands.
'What Price Israel?'
Nadia Abu Khalil Siam of Rafah, four years old, was shot in the head in her own home by an Israeli soldier while her mother was holding her trying to comfort her during the shelling of Rafah. Photo courtesy of Erika at http://rafahnotes.blogspot.com
The 'Most Dangerous' Kind . . . Non-Violent Resistors
Abd Allah Abu Rahma, Popular Committee Against the Wall founder who was arrested in the middle of the night on July 15 and declared "too dangerous" to be released. He's "too dangerous" for non-violently protesting the annexation of sixty percent of Bil'in's land for Jewish colonization (illegal according to international law). Read more from Laila El-Haddad, the marvelous reporter for Al-Jazeera, who recently had an op-ed story published in the Washington Post. An excerpt:
"So while disengagement will bring some relief for Gazans it is by no means the end of the Israeli occupation. In June, my son and I spent 10 hours at Rafah Crossing--Gaza's only route to the outside world--waiting for Israeli approval to return home from Egypt. We waited, crammed with 80 others like sardines in a tin, in a bus without air conditioning in the scorching June heat, as the air thinned and my son nearly fainted."
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Lesson from Zionism: 'Shoot to Kill'
Here's what Massoud Shadjareh, of the Islamic Human Rights Commission says: "When British police officers receive training from forces of an apartheid state which uses assasination as an official policy, killings such as this (Menezes's) can only be expected as a natural consequence."
Read more about the training of British police in Israel in Al-Jazeera.
Go Annie, Go!
I ban Zionists from my blog (which means I don't get too many comments) because I don't grant them a forum for their obfuscations. There are NOT two narratives. There is one narrative. The Zionists shoot kids through the head and heart; the Zionists destroyed four hundred plus villages in 1948 and then committed cultural genocide by coming up with names for the five thousand year old names; the Zionists have destroyed culture; they dynamited the Kahlil Sahknini cultural center in Ramallah (just one paltry example of their destruction of Palestinian history and culture); the Zionists kill leaders, writers, popular people; the Zionists with the backing of the US and the western powers have waged a slow genocide against the indigenous Palestinians. So don't even think about obfuscating, misleading, prevaricating, or dissembling on my blog. This venue is closed.
RE: "A needed U.S. presence" Editorialmailto:Editorialletters@baltsun.com
It is a tad ironic to read your editorial "A needed U.S. presence" alongside the great letter by Lisa Snyder complaining about American Jews immigrating to Israel with their children in order to live in an illegal settlement on the far side of the green line.Snyder's letter was in response to the very long article published in the Sun on July 17 concerning the Jasper family of Baltimore who recently left America (where they still have full and equal rights) to take advantage of Israel's Jews-only immigration policies and Israel's many other Jews-only privileges and perks : Meanwhile the Palestinians, the native non-Jewish population of the Holy land, have no real rights anywhere. Palestinian children suffer and starve in crowded refugee camps while American Jews get handsome bribes and subsidizes to help create a Jews-only state. And we the American people are footing this monstrous bill and making this blatant injustice and insult to the Palestinians possible.Ultimately what our "friend" racist Israel really needs is much less U.S. weaponry, money, sympathy and support.
Sincerely,Anne Selden Annab
Saturday, July 23, 2005
Why Kill Nino?
by Ghazi Hamad
On July 14, Palestinian security forces opened fire at a group Hamas members on their way back from firing mortars at the southern Israeli town of Sderot.The mortars had been launched, according to Hamas, in reaction toIsraeli incursions into the West Bank on July 13 and 14 that had lefttwo dead - one a Palestinian Authority police man in Tulkarm and one an Islamic Jihad leader in Nablus - seriously wounded a second policeman and saw the arrests of a dozen members of Islamic Jihad and Hamas. TheIsraeli incursions came after a suicide bombing in Netanya, claimed byIslamic Jihad, killed five Israelis.The PA acted after one the mortar attacks on July 14 - one claimed bythe Fateh-affiliated Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, however, and not Hamas -killed an Israeli woman. Five Hamas members were wounded in theconfrontation, and Hamas immediately made clear it would not refrainfrom responding. Later that night, Hamas members attacked the headquarters of the national security services in Gaza City, and on July15, a gunfight between PA forces and Hamas members in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City, resulted in the killing of two teenage bystanders and injuries to dozens on either side. Hamas rebuffed the PAforces and set fire to an armored personnel car.To muddy matters further, the Israeli army revived its assassination policy and killed seven Hamas fighters, in addition to bombing numerouslocations in Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on July 16 threatened a full-scale invasion of the Strip and amassed troops on theborders of the Strip. On July 19, after several further skirmishes and injuries, leaders ofHamas and PA officials announced they had reached an agreement, after days-long Egyptian mediation, to end hostilities, but early on July 20 clashes continued, even if they were quickly quelled.
Relations between Hamas and the PA have not been this fraught in years. No one expected the tension between Hamas and the PA to reach such acritical point so quickly. In the past few years, mutual conflict has been limited to recriminatory statements. It is not completely surprising though either. Hamas has accused Fateh,the dominant party in the PA, of delaying PLC elections purposefully until it has a better popular standing. For its part, the PA has consistently warned Hamas and others against taking the law into their own hands and endangering the five-month-old truce President Mahmoud Abbas agreed with Sharon in February and subsequently with the factions in Cairo in March. Analysts and observers have been cautioning against confrontation, but it seems the "red line" that everyone warned about was crossed.Throughout the tensions, both the PA and Hamas repeatedly stressed that neither party was interested in civil war. Hamas released a statement saying that "what happened in Gaza is not a war on the PA, nor is it an attempt to put it out of power". On behalf of the PA, Prime MinisterAhmad Qrei' said, "We are not in competition with anyone. ... But if we don't increase our efforts to empower the PA then there is no place for it and the alternative is the Israeli occupation".
Writer Hani Habib argues there is an unacceptable contradictory point ofview in the PA. "The Authority has lost many opportunities in the past days and weeks to restore authority to its police and security forces by not acting against militia attacks, robberies, and the general state of lawlessness. [Now that they acted] people are leaning toward the idea that the PA does not serve to fight corruption, but rather to confront the resistance. Hamas took advantage of this perception on a large scale."However, political analyst Ashraf Al Ajrami sees the matter differently. He believes the ball is in Hamas' court: "The latest troubles are not based on resisting the occupation nor are they confined to the shooting of rockets at Israeli targets. Rather, it is truly a conflict over authority and the control of the Palestinian streets".Whatever their viewpoints, common to all analyses is the notion that the friction arises from the current binary authority that was effectively established with the degradation of the PA's reputation and influence and the growth of power and popularity that Hamas has enjoyed in the past years. In his July 16 speech, Abbas was quick to emphasize the PA's commitment to the truce and preventing the shooting of mortars and not to allow violations by either Palestinian factions or Israel. Leaders in the PA accused Hamas of "looking to start a riot," and the interior ministry confirmed in an official statement that, "We will not stand before these destructive and irrational methods with our hands tied". The PA promised to fight with all possible legal means to "protect national security". Hamas, for its part, accused Interior Minister Nasser Yousef of issuing orders to shoot at anyone who tries to fire rockets into Israel. The group demanded in a July 17 statement the resignation of Yousef, because"he is going to bring trouble to the PA and the Palestinian people". It is the long term issues of elections and authority that need to besettled, however. It is apparent that all the simmering conflicts between Hamas and the PA have been restrained during the "period of calm". But while Hamas and the PA have both announced their commitment to preserving the calm, it seems Hamas has a different understanding of how this should be maintained. As they declared in one statement, "the agreement to a truce that was given in Cairo was not given to protectIsraeli blood but instead to protect Palestinian blood. And the day thatPalestinian blood thins there will be no protection for Zionist blood.This period of calm is not a sign of weakness or cowardliness".This leaves the PA with a massive headache over how to prevent the factions from responding to Israeli aggression. And as a result it leaves people wary."People here are afraid that the riots are going to continue every now and then. This time it passed with a small number of victims but who can guarantee that matters don't become worse in the future. This is a prospect that scares the Palestinian citizen and confuses him greatly since he has no answer to the many questions he is already faced with,"observes Ajrami. - Published 20/7/05(c) Palestine Report
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
250 Palestinians Killed Before Any Suicide Bombings
In the July 13 story on the suicide bombing in Israel, which killed three Israelis, you include information about Israeli deaths going back to 2001. Nowhere is there mention that Palestinians have also been killed during this period - in far greater numbers. In fact, in the current intifada about 250 Palestinians were killed before a single suicide bombing occurred in Israel.
Most recently, since the truce was declared on Feb. 25, approximately 40 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, and 400 were injured. Although it is important to report on Israeli deaths, your readers need to learn the whole story - not one half of it.
If Americans Knew
Ragheb al-Masri, Fallen Angel, 14
Monday, July 18, 2005
When will it end?
I spent much of today talking to Palestinians trying to cross the Netzarim checkpoint today. It is basically a 6m deep trench dug deep into Gaza's coastal road, which has in recent days been ripped apart by nocturnal armoured bulldozers that come out from behind the lone sniper in he distance, and dissappear before dawn when their work is done.The checkpoint, along with one further south at Abo Holi, has divided Gaza into three isolated segments for over five days now: Rafah and Khan Yunis in the south; dair al-Balah, Maghazi, and Nseirat refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip; and Gaza city, Beit Hanun, and Jabaliya in the north.It was a painful site, as I heard testimony after testimony of the hardship endured in what would otherwise be a daily routine. Commerical trucks, donkey carts, fruit vendors, taxis, all attempting to make it down the trench and across to the other side. Young women heading to college carrying textbooks, walking over 3 km around the checkpoint; Women with infants; Elderly Palestinians trudging across on canes through mounds of sand; And most heartbreaking of a all, a man who was suffering from Parkinson's, and had come back from al-Shifa hospital with a bag full of medicine and a medical transfer to Egypt, though he would be unable to travel there because further south, Abo Holi checkpoint was completey sealed off to commuters.I heard accounts of "close-calls", of bullets just missing commuters heads, fired in "warning" by the lone sniper overlooking the checkpoint, and when it was over, I headed home, relieved that none of those bullets had been fatal, satisfied with a job well-done, and wrote the story out.I made it home in time to meet with a colleague from the BBC (and former boss of mine at Aljazeera) who was here on assigment for a radio program. "I just heard a 14-year-old boy was shot at Abo Holi, but the IDF hasn't yet confirmed it," she said.I checked my sources. I called the hospitals, the families in Dair al-Balah, and sure enough, 14-year old Raghed al-Masri was brutally killed, as he was waiting with his family in a taxi at Abo Holi.But the world's media was too busy covering a press conference Abbas was holding, and a meeting between Hamas and Egyptian delegates on the "ceasefire." I immediately called an Israeil Army spokesperson for an explanation. THey dodged my phone calls, and finally, late in the night, they called me back, only to tell me the matter was "under investigation"."All we know is that Palestinian cars attempted cross the checkpoint by force, so the soldiers fired warning shots into the air, not at the cars, and we have not received word of any injuries-there wasn't even an ambulance there."Suddenly, all I could think about was Tom Hurndall. And Rachel. Iman al-Hams. Norran Deeb. And her mother's tears. and her father's silent anguish. And the lies. the terrible lies.The doctor who examined Ragheb's body said the bullet hit him in the back and came out through his chest, tearing his fragile heart apart. There is no chance this bullet was fired into "open air".Now I think to myself as I head to bed, having just submited a news story on the tragic incident, after rewriting my initial story that merely talked about the closure's impact (how could I know the impact would be so deadly?), I feel a sense of emptiness inside.I compiled the facts and snapped he photos and wrote them out, nicely arranged, on a page, on a site, that soon, will be forgotten. Along with Ragheb. Along with all the innocent angels that have fallen. And I think to myself, when will it end?
Saturday, July 16, 2005
'Don't Fence Me In!'
Horror Again in Gaza
Mohammed just sent this update:
Horror Again in Gaza
After a few months of cautious hope, blood, fire, and fear has become the norm again in Gaza. Back to counting the dead, counting the injured, phoning the medics to try to learn the names of the casualties. For the Palestinian civilians, it is back to sleepless nights trying to judge how close the shooting and bombing is, or trying to sleep at closed Israeli checkpoints.Where did it start this time? Should we go back to the suicide bombing this week in Netanya? The Israeli Army has been routinely arresting members of militant factions and staging incursions into areas under Palestinian control despite the supposed cease-fire. The young militant who carried out the Netanya bombing said he was "responding" to the Israeli crimes in the West Bank. Of course, IOF activity only increased after the Netanya attack on the 12th, while in Gaza, the militant factions increased their Qassam launches in—yes, that word again—"response." Thursday night, an Israeli woman, Dana Glakowitz, 22 who lived in a town near the Gaza border, was killed by a Qassam strike as she sat on the porch of her home. The Palestinian Interior Minister declared a state of emergency and ordered the PA police to stop the militants from firing on Israeli settlements and towns hear the border. The IOF immediately closed the checkpoints, dividing Gaza into three sealed sections and shortly after midnight launched four rocket strikes on Gaza within an hour. Three were in northern Gaza, one on a cemetery in Khan Younis that the Israeli military claims is being used as a launch site by the militants. In Gaza City the headquarters of an Islamic charity was destroyed—the IOF claimed it was "pro-Hamas."There were heavy clashes all night between PA police and masked militants, with cars carrying Hamas members attacked and, in retaliation, militant attacks on police stations and police cars. Tragically, in the Zeytoun neighborhood of Gaza City, two bystanders, a teenager and a child, were killed during a firefight between militants and the PA police.With the dawn, the police-militant conflict largely ceased, but civilians were burning tires in an effort to blind the Israeli unmanned surveillance drones. In mid-afternoon, the Israeli helicopters resumed extrajudicial assassinations by rocket attacks an hour apart on two cars carrying Hamas members—one near Nablus, and one in Gaza City. In the Gaza City airstrike around 4pm, four Hamas members were killed, their white Volkswagen reduced to barely-recognizable rubble, and six pedestrians were also injured. Eyewitnesses said body parts and shredded flesh of the four passengers were scattered over a wide area. Witnesses report Israeli troops and tanks are massing at the sealed borders.
Lieutenant Harvey Tharp: 'Keep Them From Getting Fresh Mortar Bait'
Tharp was honorably discharged from the Navy in March 2005. Six months after the invasion of Iraq, Tharp, along with five others was, in Tharp's words, raided from the Navy Staff Corps. Tharp was called upon because he had studied Arabic five years earlier. Although Colin Powell had spent five million dollars on a study for how to operate in post war Iraq the study was nixed and the neo-conservatives wouldn't send experienced Arabic speakers or diplomats to Iraq.
Tharp says that when he showed up in Baghdad his co-workers said, "Wow, we have people to send out." Tharp, armed with 180,000 dollars in reconstruction for a population of one million was sent to Kirkuk. When asked how he could communicate with Baghdad, he was told to sign up for a hotmail account. As for security he was armed with an AK-47 and provided a security briefing. Having no body armor, Tharp sent off to bulletproofme.com to acquire his own. When he asked who his CO was, he was told, "We're working on it." Kirkuk wasn't as important as the Oil Ministry, which had the South African Army and Halliburton to provide security as well as an unlimited budget.
The Navy was unable to rob Tharp of his humanity. Working with Iraqis he was impressed by their manners and decency. When he heard about Abu Ghraib, he thought to himself that he was glad that he was no longer in Iraq because he didn't think that he could face the Iraqis who worked for him. "This was not Animal House," he said about Abu Ghraib. He quoted the British Major General who said that Americans treated Iraqis as if they were untermenschen and remarked, "American society doesn't care about lives of people overseas."
The lies perpetuated by the Bush administration are mere "window dressing for the ultimate reasons we're in Iraq." Reasons cited by Tharp include oil, protecting allies, and control of the world.
Tharp, faced with another tour in Iraq, which would require him to direct combat, felt certain that "having met those people changed my perspective [and I knew that] I could not voluntarily nor involuntarily kill them." Luckily for Tharp, the Navy had a surplus of lieutenants and he was able to resign; unfortunately this is not the case for enlisted personnel.
"I am going to do everything I can to end this war as soon as possible," Tharp says. "The one thing that we can do is to keep them from getting fresh mortar bait." His mission now is to caution children that to join the Army or Marine Corps right now is a "bad idea." For teachers, it is important to understand that the "weak point of the military machine" is in the recruiting.
Harvey Tharp is the first person in the US Military whom I have encountered who acknowledges the humanity of the Iraqis and who has not been brainwashed regarding the reasons we are there.
Friday, July 15, 2005
International Solidarity: Labor for Palestine
INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY: LABOR FOR PALESTINE Labor for Palestine ConferenceSaturday, July 239:00 AM to 4:30 PM (doors open at 8:30)University of Illinois-ChicagoStudent Center East (Formerly Chicago Circle Center)750 S. Halsted Street, 6th FloorFree, Open to the Public, Lunch Provided (Donations Are Appreciated)
JOIN US FOR OUR FIRST NATIONAL CONVENTION IN CHICAGO!Just before the AFL-CIO convenes in Chicago, its delegates will havea rare opportunity to learn about Palestinian and Middle Eastern labor rights and unionizing efforts, as well as American unionists' efforts to support them. This conference will also examine the history of the relationship of the AFL-CIO to Israel as well as theextensive investments of AFL-CIO pension funds into Israel Bonds. One of our featured speakers will be *Atef Saad, Director of theMedia and Information Department for the Palestine General Federationof Trade Unions. Other speakers include participants in American labor delegations to the West Bank, as well as unionists whom AFL-CIO unions have tried to silence when they have taken public stands indefense of Palestinian rights. The conference will also debut a new film by Alternate Focus on the contradictory relationship betweenU.S. labor and Israel. Labor For Palestine is a growing nationwide network that aims tochange the AFL-CIO's policy toward Israel; disinvest union pension funds from Israel Bonds; organize labor delegations to OccupiedPalestine; and increase education and awareness on fundamental laborand human rights. We invite labor activists, trade unionists and union locals to endorse and participate in this critical conference. For additionalinformation on the conference such as registration, directions,background information and other items please visit the conference website at http://www.laborforpalestine.org, send an email toinfo@..., or call 312-491-9092. Co-Sponsored by (list in formation): New York City Labor Against theWar, Palestine Solidarity Group-Chicago; Not In My Name; Al-Awda, ThePalestine Right to Return Coalition, Students for Social Justice, UICS tudents for Justice in Palestine, DePaul Students for Justice in Palestine.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Fernando Suarez del Solar: 'What Happened to You Teachers?'
Fernando belongs to Military Families Speak Out, and has founded a counter-recruitment organization, Proyecto Guerrero Azteca. Jesus' story is one that high school children must hear.
Fernando owned a business in Tijuana when Jesus decided in 2001 that he wanted to join the US Marines in order to combat narcotics traffickers. Fernando, who is a Mexican citizen, as was his son, sold his business in Tijuana so that his son could follow his dream. When Jesus finished boot camp in 2001, he told his father that he didn't want any member of his family to join the Marines. Recruiters didn't tell him that he would have to pay for his uniforms, that he would have to pay for his life insurance, and that the lauded education benefit also came with a price, one hundred dollars monthly. In fact the military couldn't be bothered with paying for all of Jesus' funeral. The most difficult news for Jesus was that one must be a US citizen in order to join the Federal Agents in pursuit of drug dealers. Jesus told Fernando that he intended to serve his four years and leave.
In February 2003 Jesus found himself in Iraq. He told his father not to worry about him, that he wanted to help the children. Fernando's son did not return from Iraq. Jesus, who was not a trained scout, was ordered to perform as a scout on March 27. On March 26, the US forces had unloaded 20,000 cluster bombs in "homes, hospitals, and schools," according to Fernando. When Jesus was working as a scout, he did not receive any information that there were cluster bombs in the area.
Fernando was informed by the military that Jesus died in combat by a shot through the head. Later he found out that this was a lie; that his son died in a "friendly fire" incident when he stepped on a cluster bomb.
"My life changed," Fernando told us in halting English. In December 2003 he visited the place where Jesus died. He also visited children in hospitals and talked movingly about the beautiful babies who died within three days because there was no medicine to treat their diarrhea. Fernando made a promise to help these children and in December 2004 along with other parents who lost soldiers in the war delivered 600,000 dollars worth of medicine.
Fernando is on a mission to keep the military recruiters out of high schools. To that end he has spoken in 155 high schools in sixty-five cities. He admonished the teachers in his audience to "help for [his] grandson's generation. [The] best way to combat terrorism is the book. Stop the next war, " he challenges us. "Stop Criminal Recruiting."
Kids who think that they are going to get money for school via the military must be apprised of other options and certainly not depend on a military that is merely an extension of a corrupt government. The place for kids is the university, not a military base, says Fernando. Fernando concluded his presentation by reminding teachers that it is "our work [to teach] justice, tolerance, and peace for other people."
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
PERCHED ON a south Hebron hill, at first glance Mufaqara seems like a small quiet village sheltered from the troubles of its more famous neighboring city. But the settlers in the region have transformed the shepherds’ tranquil agricultural life into a hellish struggle against politics.Woken up by the rooster’s song long before the sun rises, Mahmood Hamandi swallows a modest breakfast, home-made thick bread and olive oil, and gathers his 120-sheep flock. Today seems like a normal day in the small village of Mufaqara, south of Hebron. Women are already rushing around, shaking the milk collected the night before to prepare the local cheese. And the Israeli army has already sent a bulldozer to lay a mound of gravel on the main road connecting the Palestinian villages of the area. Later on, Palestinians will come with spades to clear out the area before the Israeli army blocks it again in this cat-and-mouse game.Hamandi speedily herds his livestock over the next two hills, in a zone close to the illegal settlers’ outpost of Havat Ma’on, a cluster of trailers hidden in a wooded area. The land adjacent to the outpost has the greenest grass in the whole dried-out region. The terrain belongs to Hamandi and he even possesses the legal deed for it, but he barely walks over there with his herd as it has become very dangerous over the past few years. Today, taking advantage of the very early hour, he is hoping to finish grazing his flock before the settlers wake up. Moving bordersSince the Havat Ma’on outpost was erected in 1998, daily life in what used to be an unknown and quiet fellahin village of the West Bank has become increasingly nightmarish. Villagers have the feeling that the settlers’ security forces, as well as the Israeli army, are trying to “clear out” the area of Palestinian villages. Settler and army jeeps regularly drive back and forth in the area to intimidate the shepherds and make them move further from the settlement’s limits. These limits have been constantly changing as is emphasized by Mary Yoder from the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), an American organisation that defends villagers’ rights. “Settlers come at night to plant trees and move the barriers a few meters down to expand their land. The settlements in the area are assumed to have thus recorded a growth of land of 25 acres each year.” With a sense of irony, Yoder remarks that it is actually lucky when the settlers’ security forces arrive because when settlers come on their own they are usually more violent. Hafez Hreini, who lives in Al Twani, the biggest village in the area, recalls what has today become a normal scene in the life of the villagers. “My old mother left one morning to graze the flock on one of our pieces of land. The land is two hills further from here and we cannot see it from the village.” He added, “Suddenly people ran to me and said my mother was in danger. I rushed to the area and saw five young settlers beating up my mother and stealing the sheep. When they saw me they started shooting in my direction, but my blood was boiling and I didn’t realize the danger. I kept running towards them and my determination scared them away. When I reached my mother she was lying on the ground, holding her stomach where they had thrashed her, and she was bleeding [in the back of] the head.” Settlers resort to poisonMahmood Hamandi thanks God that nobody in his family has been victim of the settlers’ violence. However, his family, as well as the whole village -- of which Mahmood is the Mukhtar -- have been greatly affected by the settlers’ activities. In late March, goats and sheep began to mysteriously die. The shepherds found out that blue seeds had been spread out in the fields where they usually walk their herd. The seeds were sent to Birzeit University to be analysed, where they were revealed to be fluoroacetamide-poisoned cereals. This incident was the subject of a joint Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations/United Nations Environment Programme report that stated that this poison is only produced in Israel and is illegal in many other countries because of its acute toxicity to both man and animals. In Israel it can only be obtained with a special permit and for specific uses. However, according to both villagers and organizations based in the area, the shepherds’ complaints have not yet been followed up by the police.Half of Mahmood’s flock died the next month in another incidence of poisoning, a loss that is estimated at NIS120,000, a devastating cost in this impoverished community. In the village, most residents inhabit old caves or unsanitary tents as all cement houses in the area have been subjected to demolition orders. The villagers’ livelihood comes from the harvesting of cereals and the raising of their sheep. They have been recognised by the World Bank as being among the poorest people in the West Bank. Despite the scientists’ warning to the contrary, villagers cannot afford to stop eating the cheese produced from their flock’s milk. Similarly, they have no choice but to drink the contaminated well water as the village is not connected to running water and electricity. Nor can they stop sending their children to school, though this too has become a dangerous task. Foreign volunteers as a targetThe area only has one school, to which all the students must walk. Most of the routes connecting the Palestinian villages border the recent illegal settlement outposts. The Israeli army advised that the children follow another itinerary that goes around the settlements. However, this alternative route is about 10 kilometers long each way, forcing the children to get up very early and return home at night. The CPT and the Italian organization Operation Dove offered to accompany the children to school following the straight path linking the Palestinian villages, which is only one-kilometer long. However, three attacks have launched against CPT and Operation Dove members. Young masked settlers, armed with chains and baseball bats, have assaulted the foreign volunteers, stolen their cameras, and severely beaten them. All three times, volunteers were severely injured and had to be transferred to hospital. “Half-an-hour before we got beaten up we had called the Israeli police to let them know that settlers were causing problems and shooting at us. The police came only long after we called them. So did the ambulance to evacuate the volunteers that had been injured. Actually it is not really surprising that they came late as the ambulance [belongs to] the near-by settlement Karmel, and the driver is also a member of the settlers’ security [forces],which comes regularly to cause problems for the shepherds,” says a member of Operation Dove who prefers to stay anonymous.However, despite these three serious incidents, CPT and Operation Dove actions have brought real changes to the villagers’ daily life. Naim Saalem Al Aadra gratefully explains that since the foreign volunteers have been staying day and night in the village for more than a year, their situation has improved. Because the foreign volunteers are filming every single action directed against the villagers by the army and the settlers, the latter are a little more restrained. “Moreover, when our flocks were poisoned, we didn’t receive the compensations promised by the Palestinian Authority and we were only able to survive thanks to foreign money that CPT and Operation Dove collected. They also carried our voices to the Muqata’a and to the Knesset.” Al Aadra, like the other villagers, now hopes that actions will be taken by the authorities to recognize their rights and condemn the offenses committed by the settlers and the army. “We can’t count on politicians’ help”These hopes seemed to solidify with the announcement of a visit by Ahmad Majdalani, Minister of Settlements and Wall Affairs later in the day. People of all ages from the surrounding villages gathered in the newly built clinic of Al Twani to get a chance to talk to the minister. When he arrived to the clinic, people overwhelmingly surrounded him and emphatically expressed the severity of their situation. Majdalani patiently listened, not showing any expression as villagers spilled out their anger and sorrow. He concluded the meeting with a very short speech stating that he would try to do as much as he can to help them. His small official delegation jumped back in their cars and drove off to the village of Susiya where a new section of the wall is being built. Or at least, they tried to reach the village but were blocked by a flying Israeli checkpoint. The young Israeli soldiers did not allow the minister to cross despite his claim that it was only a half-an-hour visit to the village. Mahmood Hamandi vented the villagers’ general frustration: “The Palestinian Authority cannot do anything against the settlers and the Israeli army. … We know that nothing will be done. A few months ago the health minister came to visit the new clinic that we built with our own hands. He promised that he would send doctors to help the population here, but we are still waiting. Here in the village, most of us don’t belong to any political party because we have been deceived by all of them and we know that we shouldn’t count on their help.”-Published July 06, 2005©Palestine Report
Saturday, July 09, 2005
Palestinian Civil Society Calls For Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions
Friday, July 08, 2005
Nadia McCaffery: 'Robbing Us of Tomorrow'
Nadia said that her son was thirty-four and the father of three kids. He was killed in an ambush. After 9/11 he said, "I have to do something," and joined the National Guard. Told that he'd be deployed to Utah, Nadia's only child was sent to Iraq instead.
According to Nadia, "He left with a great big smile in broad daylight." He came "back at midnight." The US government wanted to avoid media but Nadia "called [the] media to welcome him." She says "I am proud of my son and not about to hide him."
Nadia said that it took Patrick about a week to understand the lie. "I don't know why we're here," he relayed to his mother. "There is no water. There is no electricity."
Nadia admonishes us to say "No to War, No to Killing. Who is going to raise my grandchildren?" she poignantly cried. "What did Viet Nam accomplish? Algeria?"
"Speak out! Do not be silent! Silence is our worst enemy. Speak out loud!"
Nadia, who grew up in France in the aftermath of WWII says, "I say 'No' to War, especially this one. Please think. Who have we become? We need to react. We need to stop hating and discriminating."
While she was in Amman she met a young child who stood up and said, "I want all the Americans to leave and go home."
When Nadia asked him what he would do if they didn't leave, he replied, "Then I will kill you all." If he wasn't successful? "Then I will go to your country and kill you all there."
The current war, concluded Nadia, is "robbing us of tomorrow."
NEA Supports "Exit Strategy" for Iraq
"The NEA calls on President Bush to support our troops by creating an exit strategy and bring our troops home.
"provide adequate veterans benefits and meet the needs of our veterans for adequate jobs, education and healthcare.
"The NEA will:
"support NEA members and their families called upon to serve in Iraq by identifying and providing information about resources and services to help meet their special needs, by advocating for their interest and by protecting their jobs, seniority, and benefits.
"advocate the reordering of national priorities toward peace and the human needs of our people."
The original new business item had as its first bullet the following:
"The NEA calls on President Bush and Congress to
"end the U.S. Military Occupation of Iraq and bring our troops home."
The adoption of the amended resolution (the substitution of "exit strategy" for "end the U.S. Military Occupation") by the majority of the delegates was considered a great success by members of the NEA Peace and Justice Caucus, who moved the new business item. Members of Peace and Justice also moved or supported items related to violation of student privacy re military recruiting, CAFTA, and Haiti and sponsored panels including Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, and GoldStar Families, an organization of anti-war parents who lost children in Iraq.
Open Letter From Palestinian Health Organizations
Referring to the comments made by Dr. Shanit on behalf of the Peres
for Peace to our 'Open Letter to the Palestinian and international
community regarding Palestinian-Israeli cooperation', we would like to
1. The Palestinian medical and health service providers who signed the
Letter did not call for an outright ban on Palestinian-Israeli
in the health sector, but rather deplored the fact that some
donors have increasingly made Palestinian-Israeli cooperation projects a
condition for the provision of support to the Palestinian health sector.
2. As outlined in our Open Letter, we have always welcomed and continue
welcome the support of Israelis who openly oppose occupation and work
Palestinians based on a platform of justice and equality as well as
3. However, the Palestinian medical and health NGOs reserve the right to
choose their partners in research, training, teaching and other
including the right to choose partners from within and outside Israel.
also expect partners on the Israeli side to openly demand that the
government end the 38 year long occupation and abide by International
the Fourth Geneva Convention and all relevant UN Security Council
Resolutions. Palestinian health organizations are of course keen to
health care in the occupied territory and are always open to cooperation
with Israeli institutions that explicitly and publicly oppose Israeli
military occupation and work towards bringing about its end.
The claim that by signing the Open Letter, Palestinian health
would deny the Palestinian population, especially children, essential
medical treatment otherwise unavailable in Palestine is simply untrue
does not make sense either. We question the effectiveness and value of
joint Palestinian-Israeli projects as the best method of improving the
Palestinian population's health. To date, there is no evidence that
projects are an effective and efficient method of improving the
people's health. We also question why priority is given to joint
and not, for example, to other possible courses of action, such as
investment in the Palestinian medical and health infrastructure as well
other activities aiming at improving the capacity of Palestinian health
services to fulfill the population's medical and health needs. This
also gradually decrease dependence on Israeli medical services, in
an important step towards Palestinian national independence and
It is an indisputable fact that the root causes of the Palestinian
population's ill health in general and Palestinian children's health in
particular are the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian land as
as Israeli government practices on the ground, including the building of
the Apartheid Wall. We believe that, apart from addressing the symptoms,
Israeli health organizations also have a moral responsibility to tackle
underlying problem, the occupation. If actions are limited to only
with the symptoms of military occupation, even with the best of
such actions may well end up perpetuating today's realities.
We were surprised at the inappropriate tone and content of the statement
made by Dr. Shanit in response to our Open Letter. A continued
of issues of disagreement is indeed welcome, provided it is conducted in
mutually respectful manner.
Finally, Palestinian health professionals continue to appreciate and
welcome any effort by Israeli health professionals to relieve the pain
suffering of Palestinian and Israeli patients.
Palestinian Health Organizations
Letter by Dr. Shanit/The Peres Center for Peace:
Taking hostages as a way of life ( or please do not confuse us with the
It is quite often that Israeli NGOs such as the Peres Center for Peace
themselves under attack for their dedication and devotion to joint
with their Palestinian counterparts in order to assist the Palestinian
civil society in its time of need. Such attacks emanate usually from the
extreme right within Israel, while such terminology as traitors or
terrorist lovers are being utilized. It is however quite astounding to
an "An open letter to the Palestinian and international community
Palestinian-Israeli cooperation in health"
Published by some Palestinian health organizations calling for a ban on
cooperation with the Peres Center and similar Israeli NGOs engaged in
daily battle for life of Palestinian children or the continuous
search for training opportunities for Palestinian doctors, such ban
practically turns Palestinian children hostage to a political agenda of
those who should know better.
One can only wonder whether those Palestinian medical relief leaders
insisting on denying the Palestinian population essential medical
diagnostics and treatment otherwise unavailable in Palestine or training
opportunities rendered to some 25 Palestinian doctors each year in
hospitals - have ever bothered to ask their public and their own
constituency whether they share their views. Over 1200 Palestinian
to-date have been diagnosed, treated or operated in Israeli hospitals
through a joint initiative of Palestinian and Israeli pediatricians
instigated by the Peres Center. But why confuse the Palestinian public
the facts when one can simply take another 1000 children hostage, deny
essential care. Sacrifice the future generation of Palestinians to save
agenda? Why not! What a wonderful way to become the hero of a
There are many ways to sacrifice one's own people. The settlers in the
Bank and Gaza insist on holding their own children and those of the rest
Israel - hostage. It is quite amazing to find Palestinian NGOs insisting
joining this trend when it is Prime Minister Abu Ala in his recent
statement of last week who declared:
"It is a great honor to share with you my deep appreciation and
for this unique initiative "Saving Children". This project breaks all
barriers, physical and psychological, and reminds us all of our humanity
and most importantly, what our own personal and collective efforts can
bring to the most innocent victims of this hard political struggle, the
sick children of Palestine. " and " We believe that the future of peace
lies in efforts like this one and that these are the choices that we
make again and again to extract ourselves of the current stalemate and
regard each other with respect and humanity. It is the value of love and
morality that we wish our children and their children to hold close to
them. Actions such as this one, can have a tremendous impact to help us
restructure the social and political fabric of our society. It is
people like you that we can forge new beginnings and reach new horizons.
and "Thank you for offering Palestinian children who cannot be treated
Palestine an alternative opportunity to have access to health care and
saved so that they in turn can use this gift, and become beacons of
hope and peace. We also extend our thanks to our friends at the Peres
Center for Peace, whose partnership with this project demonstrates, yet
once more, unwavering commitment to reconciliation and genuine peace."
Everyone has a role in the struggle for Palestinian independence and
statehood. However ours does not entail throwing stones or
but rather saving the lives of Palestinian children, training doctors,
assisting in the building of Palestinian medical capacity, or simply
providing essential medical supplies to a Palestinian hospital when
siege (such as the Jenin Hospital during the IDF incursion ).
Finally, I can only hope that common sense will prevail, since it is the
interest of the Palestinian people and in particular the future
who is at stake, and they deserve an honest commitment rather than
and sectarian politics.
Dr. Dan Shanit
Director of Medicine & Healthcare
The Peres Center for Peace