Habash: Rebel from a bygone era

   George Habash died poor and in exile, but his lessons remain vital for Arab unity and liberation.

by Karma Nabulsi
(The Guardian)

‘His very name scatters fire through ice,’ wrote Byron of an 18th-century revolutionary leader, and so it has always been with the name of that extraordinary Palestinian George Habash. For those in anti-colonial movements across the world who learned and trained under him, his name embodies that inextinguishable human demand for justice and freedom. His exhilarating emancipatory model of resistance to injustice, his radical optimism and, above all, his tight political organisation scorched the consciousness of young people across the Arab world, mobilised masses and inspired a huge wave of talented artists and intellectuals.

One doesn’t have to be a Marxist to appreciate the value of his extraordinary force. For 60 years Habash engaged in a non-stop struggle for Arab unity, human progress, women’s rights, liberation and equality. By founding the anti-colonial Arab Nationalist Movement, he lit a fuse throughout the region, from Yemen, where forces he trained and organised liberated the country from British rule, through the battle for Egyptian-Syrian unity, and Kuwait – which only has a parliament thanks to the movement’s impact – to the founding of trade unions across much of the Gulf.

Habash, who founded the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, died this weekend, an impoverished refugee in enforced exile in Amman. What can this revolutionary of a bygone area, archetype of the heroic medic with the free clinic in the refugee camp, virtuoso intellectual rhetorician, with his charismatic grin, perpetual cigarette and black leather jacket, give us to address today’s bleak geopolitical predicament? His contribution offers powerful solutions in arenas where the collective imagination is in complete disarray. In an era of unprecedented Arab disunity and reactionary conservatism, and at the zenith of what seems to be unstoppable Israeli expansionism and Palestinian political fragmentation, his model of combining universal principles with popular mobilisation remains the key to progress.

Currently portrayed as the architect of the tactic of aeroplane hijackings, which was never his (and over which he expelled Wadie Haddad from the PFLP), Habash was instead responsible for introducing a much bolder blueprint for international action. From the ANC to the Nicaraguans, he was the pivotal internationalist who made the fight for independence possible: training, encouraging and giving material assistance. This most basic of progressive principles – mobilising to assist those who are risking all for their freedom against undemocratic tyranny – is never more relevant than today. Citizens who have obtained their political rights understand well that they are a crucial force in pressuring their own governments to help others to achieve theirs, from Pakistan and Burma to Palestine.

A witness to the ethnic cleansing of his home town in 1948, he was transformed for ever by a determination to serve his people, and the lesson for Palestinians is essential. The flourishing of several political parties in the national arena remains not only the guarantor of democracy, but also the proven engine for achieving independence, as long as parties are driven by principle and not simply by desire for power. Just before his death, Habash was told how young Palestinians from a different political party had audaciously destroyed the walls of Gaza, setting free its people. Habash smiled and said: “You see, the day will come when these borders will fall and Arab unity will be achieved.” Lucretius celebrated these unforgettable “vitai lampada”, the torch-bearers who bring hope in each generation, “like runners passing on the lamp of life”.

· Karma Nabulsi is a fellow at St Edmund Hall, Oxford University



‘The Exodus’ By Ismael Shammout
It sure seems that’s what he wants…. yesterday he went as far as calling for an end to the coup in Gaza by Hamas. Is ‘coup’ the new term for LEGALLY ELECTED GOVERNMENT? Are we to expect the Palestinian people to reject their own CHOICE and bow down to the desires of the occupier? Abbas seems to think so… as can be seen in the following essay…

Is Abbas Israel’s lawyer?
By Khalid Amayreh in occupied E. Jerusalem

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has vehemently rejected Hamas demands that only Palestinian and Egyptian authorities be allowed to run the Rafah border crossing.

“We will not accept any new conditions; they (Hamas) have to go back to the old border-crossing agreement. We are more interested in the Palestinian people’s interests than Hamas is. If Hamas is really for them as well, let them comply with this agreement.”

Well, does Abbas really know what he is talking about? Indeed, as the Arab proverb goes, if he knows, it is a real calamity, and if he doesn’t, it is even a greater calamity.”

I am saying this because the old agreement governing operations at the Rafah Border-Crossing enables Israel, the country that has been trying to decimate 1.5 million Gazans by way of starving them, to have the final say as to when the border terminal may be opened and when it will be closed.

We all remember how thousands of Palestinians, including students, patients, pilgrims and other travelers, were left stranded on the Egyptian side of the border for weeks and months because an Israeli officer on the Israeli side of the border decided to keep these helpless victims hostage to his whims and cannibalistic instincts.

In fact, this wicked sadism, which Mr. Abbas is defending doggedly now, was responsible for the death of dozens of Palestinians who were left stranded in the desert, as if they were animals, not human beings. Go back to relevant reports describing the plight of stranded Gazans and you will understand what I am talking about.

How did Israel manage to keep the border-crossing closed most of the days of the year? Well, it was very simple. According to the “wonderful” agreement Abbas is now demanding that Hamas accept unconditionally, the Rafah border terminal can’t be operational unless in the presence of EU monitors. But the monitors themselves, who hail from several EU countries and some of them may well be working for the Israeli Intelligence, are based in the small Israeli kibbutz of Kerem Shalom, a few miles away from the border terminal. And according to the infamous agreement, they can’t have a free access to the border terminal unless they receive beforehand a daily permit from the Israeli army.

For its part, the Israeli army, acting on instructions from the government, would simply and routinely declare the only road from Kerem Shalom to the Rafah border terminal a closed military zone in order to keep the border-crossing closed. Of course, the army would concoct “security reasons” to justify the virtually perpetual closure, but everyone , including the Israelis themselves, know quite well that genuine security considerations have very little to do with the Israeli measures and that the real motive is to punish and torment the Palestinians.

As mentioned, this flagrant abuse of authority was not done one day or two days or even ten days per month. This was the norm, the modus operandi, and the border crossing was kept closed 26 or even 29 days per month, causing tremendous suffering to the Palestinians.

It was a deliberate and calculated process intended to torment, savage, brutalize and humiliate the people of Gaza, and it was all done under the rubric of an “international agreement.”

The EU leadership and member-states knew well what was going on at Kerem Shalom. But they were too morally dishonest and too subservient to Israel and the United States to show any meaningful objection to Israel’s systematic persecution of a helpless people whose men, women and children are clinging to life just as many of the Jewish inmates at Ghetto Warsaw did nearly 67 years ago.

So, I would like to ask Abbas and his aides and hangers-on who talk too much and make so much noise, claiming to serve the vital interests of the Palestinian people:

How do you think that re-allowing Israel to control the Rafah border- crossing would serve the interests of the Palestinian people? Are you drunk? Are you stupid? Are blind? Are you ignorant?

Besides, why do you think that Israel should be involved in running the Rafah border- crossing in the first place? Isn’t the border crossing an exclusively Egyptian-Palestinian crossing? Didn’t Israel declare that it ended its occupation of the Gaza Strip? Has not the Zionist regime been saying ad nauseam that it is no longer responsible for Gaza? If so, why do you insist that the slave master remain the ultimate decision-maker, the ultimate boss? This is sickening, to say the least and it shows a kind of umbilical subservience on your part to the nefarious occupiers.

I realize that there are problems between Fatah and Hamas. However, betraying the Palestinian people and undermining their vital interests for the purpose of weakening Hamas and appeasing Israel and pleasing Washington borders on treason, pure and simple.

What else can be said of and about clinging to an unconscionable agreement that allows the evil occupiers to imprison, torment and humiliate us with impunity…because the “agreement” says so.

Well, the agreement may go to hell along with those who signed it.

In short, Hamas is right a hundred per cent. The Rafah border crossing must be jointly run exclusively by the Palestinian and Egyptian authorities. And the Ramallah regime may, if it wants, take part in managing the border terminal, as part of an overall reconciliation process between Gaza and Ramallah.

However, brining Israel into the picture is unacceptable. The people of Gaza have suffered more than enough at the hands of Israel. Their murderer and tormentor must never be allowed to be jailer as well.

Is Abbas going to understand this? I doubt it.



Image by Dannycg

Today is the 60th anniversary of the brutal murder of Mahatma Gandhi. The day was observed by his surviving family members in a ceremony which included spreading his ashes in the Arabian Sea….

In doing so, one has to ask if his spirit and hopes were spread as well…. hopes for peace…. hope for an end to ALL hostilities throughout the world…. hopes for life!

Let US hope that this is so and the world will hear his words…. hear his wisdom and STOP THE MADNESS!!!

Let us remember this Saint of a man today, and on all days…. let us live his dream of non violence throughout the world.

Gandhi finally laid to rest in Arabian Sea ceremony
Randeep Ramesh in Mumbai
Wednesday January 30, 2008
Guardian Unlimited

Gandhi's ashes
The great-granddaughter of Mahatama Gandhi, Nilamben Parikh, pours his ashes into the Arabian sea after they were mixed with water. Photograph: Sajjad Hussain/AFP

Mahatma Gandhi’s great-granddaughter today scattered his ashes in the Arabian Sea in a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the Indian independence leader’s assassination.Honouring the man still revered as the moral conscience of the nation, Gandhi’s followers had carried his ashes through the streets of Mumbai to the coast, where the procession was met by a platoon of policemen and assembled local politicians.

The small copper urn, wreathed in garlands of white flowers, was then taken out to sea on a speedboat, pursued by a flotilla of cameramen and reporters.

Nilamben Parikh then scattered the contents into the sea, completing a ritual that finally laid India’s secular saint to rest and marked the healing of a generations-old rift among his descendants.

The urn was one of dozens containing Gandhi’s cremated remains that were distributed around India after he was shot dead by a Hindu extremist on January 30 1948 at a prayer meeting in New Delhi. The distribution denied the Mahatma the traditional Hindu burial he had wanted but placated the mourning masses of newly independent India.

The ashes scattered at sea today had been intended to be put on display at Mumbai’s Mani Bhavan Gandhi museum, having been bequeathed by an Indian businessman in Dubai whose father had been a close friend of the Mahatma.

But Gandhi’s family objected to the apparent deification of a relic, saying it could be misused for politicians in search of votes. Instead, the relatives wanted to scatter the ashes at sea, a ceremony also intended to symbolise the healing of a rift between Gandhi and his estranged eldest son, Harilal.

Parikh, an author, is the granddaughter of Harilal, who flirted with Islam but died virtually unnoticed as a penniless alcoholic, having outlived his illustrious father by only a few months.

Flouting Hindu tradition, Harilal did not perform the last rites at the burning pyre of his father, instead letting his two younger brothers take his place. The rancour had started after Gandhi, then fighting colonial rule in South Africa, refused to bend the rules to get Harilal a scholarship so he could go to London to become a barrister.

A film, Gandhi, My Father, released last year, explored the troubled relationship, portraying the Mahatma, whose credo of non-violence ended the British Raj, as an unforgiving patriarch whose ideals shaped a nation often at the expense of his family.

In scattering the recently rediscovered ashes into the warm waters off Mumbai’s Chowpatty beach, Parikh said she had “closed a chapter”.

The Mahatma’s great-grandson, Tushar Gandhi, said: “It is important that all members of the family are here. We are all very close and the decision was taken by everyone for Harilal’s children to immerse the ashes.

“The emotional aspect of this is that duties that Harilal should have performed have been completed by his descendants. It is of symbolic importance for us.”

In 1997, Tushar poured what was then believed to be the last ashes of Gandhi into the meeting place of two of Hinduism’s holy rivers, the Ganges and Yamuna. He had found his ancestor’s remains in a bank vault in India and gone to the courts to secure them for the family.

Many other urns are thought to remain in the hands of devotees, including one that is enshrined in an ashram in California and another installed in the palace of the Aga Khan, the head of the Islamic Ismaeli sect, in southern India.

“I have no doubt there are other urns floating around but the family has taken the view that the Mahatma asked for his ashes to be scattered as per Hindu customs. That is what we are trying to do,” said Tushar.

Although Gandhi is still revered – his face can be found on rupee notes and on hoardings exhorting people to do the right thing – the scattering did not attract huge crowds. Just a few hundred turned up to listen to the speeches and religious songs being played.

Some experts say that Gandhi’s ideas are irrelevant in modern day India.

“India today has repudiated everything he stood for,” said Rudrangshu Mukherjee, editor of the Penguin Gandhi Reader.

“He did not want industrialisation, he did not want a strong centralised state, he did not want violence or religious intolerance. Yet this is India today. He is at best an icon, respected but not relevant.”


The following was reported just minutes ago by the Ma’an News Agency….
Israeli forces invade Bethlehem – 1 teenager dead


Bethlehem – Palestinian teenager Qusay Al-Afandi, a seventeen year-old from Daheisheh refugee camp, died from wounds sustained in clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli military forces on Monday.

Israeli forces invaded the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem on Monday afternoon in a rare daylight incursion.

Witnesses reported that a number of Israeli military jeeps, bulldozers and armored vehicles entered the area amid gunfire, tear gas and sound grenades. Israeli soldiers blocked a number of roads and broke into Palestinian houses.

The situation turned into a confrontation between Israeli forces and approximately 100 stone-throwing youths in Bethlehem’s Al-madbasa area. Shots were fired by Israeli forces, and five Palestinians have been injured in the clashes

Palestinian medical sources released the details for 1 of the injured and for the deceased. Qusay Afandi was hit by a live round to the stomach and has since died from his injuries. Twenty-one year-old Ibrahim Abdul-Qadir was hit by a live round to the foot.

The target of the incursion was a three-story house in the Wadi Ma’ali neighborhood belonging to Islamic Jihad activist ‘Isa ‘Abda.

Witnesses told Ma’an that the Israeli soldiers evacuated the residents of the house by force. Abda’s father, a hemiplegia sufferer in his seventies, remained in the house because he is bedridden.

Though Abda was not present at the time of the incursion, Israeli forces remained in the area for further investigation.


Images ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

It is difficult to not remember the holocaust if you live in Israel…. it is not something that occurred in history, it is something that is unfolding right here, right now. We read of the horrors in our history books…. we continue reading about them in our daily newspaper reports…


Those are two of the most famous quotes associated with the holocaust. Two quotes that have completely lost there meaning. They are literally shoved down our throats every day by the ADL and other groups associated with AIPAC…. not in the context of what they mean…. but as justification of the crimes committed by the zionists today.

The second quote ‘Never Again’ has also lost meaning…. never again to whom? If we look at the suffering of the holocaust victims in the death camps of Eastern Europe… we see the same suffering in the death camp known as the Gaza Strip today. The quote does not go … Never again, EXCEPT…. it’s Never Again! Yet it is happening again…. by the very people that coined the phrase in the first place.

To even associate what happened in the past to what is happening now is immediately labeled as anti Semitic. Is trying to salvage the one time good name of the Jewish people anti Semitic? Is trying to prevent the horrors of yesteryear from becoming a reality once again anti Semitic?? What would groups like the ADL do if we were all silent and allowed this to continue? Who would they prey on with their cancerous venom of hatred?
The very name of that group is deceiving… Anti Defamation League… the word defamation is the communication of a statement that makes a false claim, expressively stated or implied to be factual, that may harm the reputation of an individual, business, product, group, government or nation. Most jurisdictions allow legal actions, civil and/or criminal, to deter various kinds of defamation and retaliate against groundless criticism. Perhaps the group should be called the Defamation League, as that is what they do best….
In ending, I want to stress that I am not saying not to remember the holocaust, but rather let us learn from it…. learn that it must NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN…. anytime or anywhere.


THIS makes headline news on the pages of the zionist Blogs and in the pages of HaAretz….

How dare they make a comparison to the fate of Ann Frank to that of the entire Palestinian nation. HOW DARE THEY! Perhaps the truth hurts? Perhaps there IS a comparison??
Diversion has always been a tactic used by the zionists. Diversion to take attention away from the real problems… The siege on Gaza is not upsetting to them, the murders of Palestinian civilians is not upsetting to them…. BUT all flags are raised when someone dares to make a comparison of zionism to nazism… THAT IS A NO NO!
Reports such as the one below go unread by them, issues that relate to life and death go unnoticed…
The siege of Gaza continues, the occupation continues, facts that are not upsetting to them…. not at all as bad as a postcard…
The following is what I find upsetting…

Twilight Zone / Born in the shadow of a checkpoint

Gideon Levy, Haaretz

“You’ll never walk alone.” It’s doubtful that a slogan used by the Israel Defense Forces has been read in such a macabre context. The slogan, in the name of the 92nd Auxiliary Unit, appears on the sign next to the checkpoint that blocks off the Tel Rumeida neighborhood in Hebron. True, Kifah Sider did not walk there alone. Her husband and brother-in-law were with her. In fact, she did not exactly walk. Groaning with contractions, she was carried by her husband. The young woman of 23 was in labor.

The soldiers held her up at the checkpoint for 20 critical minutes, the family says. In any case, she had to proceed on foot because this neighborhood, where evil stalks – a place ruled by a handful of sometimes-violent settlers who have forced out half the inhabitants – is barred to Palestinian vehicles. Including ambulances that can rush a woman in labor to the hospital in the dead of night. Evildoing resides here. The windows are barred because unruly settler children throw stones. Cars are forbidden entry, and the way home passes through the checkpoint, with the message “You’ll never walk alone” on the gate. But the 92nd Auxiliary offered no support that night. Its soldiers only delayed the pregnant woman until her screams finally persuaded them to let her through. On foot, of course. That was 20 minutes too late. It was no longer possible to rush the woman to Aliyah Hospital, a five-minute drive away. Kifah lay on the road, the neighbors brought a mattress, the husband took off his jacket, and in the subzero cold another checkpoint birth took place, delivered by the Israeli occupation. It wasn’t the first, it won’t be the last.

Ahmed was born under a bad sign, blue with cold. The drive to Tel Rumeida is harrowing. It’s a ghost neighborhood: Everyone who was able to leave did so long ago. No decent Israeli can pass through without a choking feeling in the throat and chills down the spine. There are dozens of shuttered stores whose owners were forced to look for a different source of livelihood, hundreds of abandoned apartments whose occupants were terrorized by the settlers and fled. The streets, including the famed Shuhada Street, where the stores were once renovated by the U.S. government to allow life to carry on, are appallingly deserted. Only a settler’s car or an army jeep speeds by from time to time, shattering the oppressive silence. The neighborhood school once had 400 pupils; now there are 90, and the children who attend are in constant danger of being attacked by settlers. Happily residing amid this desolation are the settlers, the lords of the land. When Kifah was in her eighth month, she was assaulted by a settler. He pushed her and spat at her until she fled into her brother-in-law’s home, taking refuge behind the iron door. Just routine. Settlers once threw stones at her mother-in-law as she was hanging out the laundry on the roof of her home. The elderly woman was wounded in the head. The police came and left. “They are small kids,” the policemen said before leaving without taking action, at the sight of the settler children who had thrown the stones and were still on the street when the forces of law and order arrived. That was a few months ago. In the wake of that event, the Sider family – who have not left because they are unable to – decided not to file any further complaints with the police. “There is no point,” the father of the family, Ashraf, says drily.

Kifah and Ashraf Sider, a young couple, have two children: Shireen, not yet 2, and Ahmed, about two weeks old. Ashraf works for a local factory that makes heaters, but his home is freezing. Only a small spiral electric heater tries vainly to dispel the unbearable cold in the stone building that houses their well-kept home. They are wrapped in coats, the children in woolen blankets. It was bitterly cold on the night of January 7. Shortly before 3 A.M. Kifah was awakened by her contractions. The hospital where they had registered for the birth lies 250 meters from their home, but on the other side of the checkpoint. Crossing it, at least at night, is like venturing into the back of beyond. The checkpoint is open to pedestrians day and night, but crossing it at night is hard. Kifah woke Ashraf. The bag was ready with warm clothes for the baby about to be born. Their home and their children are well looked after – a glass cabinet filled with small dining utensils, a splash of plastic flowers, a “spritz” finish on the ceiling. And even the fan attached to the wall is kept under a colorful cover during the winter.

They called the family of Ashraf’s brother, who live across the way, and asked them to watch little Shireen. They took the bag for the hospital and walked slowly down the stairs to the cold, dark street. It’s a steep walk of a few dozen meters to the bottom of the street where the pedestrian checkpoint is located; you can see it through the bars on the family’s window. The brother-in-law, Firas, who works in the Mishor Adumim settler industrial zone in the West Bank and speaks a little Hebrew, joined them on the way to the hospital to ease the passage through the checkpoint. Kifah could hardly walk; Ashraf decided to carry her in his arms. She groaned. They reached the checkpoint in a few minutes. Before leaving home they had called an ambulance, knowing it would not be allowed to enter their street but wanting it to be waiting for them on the other side of the checkpoint. So they thought. Musa Abu Hashhash, a fieldworker for the B’Tselem human rights organization, says a Palestinian ambulance can sometimes enter Israeli-controlled territory in Hebron, but only to save lives, and then the “coordination” takes up to two hours. At the checkpoint they somehow managed to get Kifah on her feet, with the help of her husband. Firas tried to explain to the soldiers that Kifah was about to give birth any minute. It was very cold. The checkpoint’s door was closed. The soldiers said they had to call their commander and ask him. Firas retorted that there was no curfew in the neighborhood and what was there to ask – the woman was obviously in labor. The soldiers told them to wait in the street. Firas asked them to open the door at least and let them into the heated space, but no. “Wait, wait,” a soldier said, “just a second, just a second.” They stood and waited. Kifah started to scream. She told her husband that she felt the baby was about to enter the world. Her cries intensified. It was only after what they estimate was 20 minutes that the soldiers agreed to let them through. “Only when they realized that it was serious,” Ashraf says. “Then they opened the door and said, ‘Yalla, yalla, go through.'” It was now about 3:15 A.M. They passed through the checkpoint. But after a few more steps Kifah felt she could wait no longer. Actually, it was the baby that could wait no longer. “The baby is coming out! The baby is coming out!” Kifah shouted to the cold, empty night, seconds after going through the checkpoint. The ambulance they had called was waiting but could not get closer because of the concrete cubes that block the passage. Ashraf had his wife lie down in the street.

Neighbors who heard Kifah’s screams hurried downstairs with a mattress for her to lie on, to ease the street birth as much as possible. Two paramedics rushed over from the ambulance. By the time they arrived the infant was out. They saw to mother and child, cutting the umbilical cord on the street. They asked for something warm to wrap the baby in, and Ashraf took off his jacket and covered his newborn son with it. Kifah tells us now, apologetically, that her clothes were bloodstained and so she could not use them to wrap the baby in. Ashraf says the infant was dark blue, “like my pants.” The paramedics decided to leave Kifah where she was, lying in the street – they asked her not to move – and to rush the baby to the hospital to rescue him from the freezing cold. Kifah says she was certain he was already dead. He did not cry when he was born. She was sure that all her nine months of waiting had been in vain. The ambulance returned 10 minutes later to evacuate Kifah. They carried her to the ambulance on the neighbors’ mattress and from there to the hospital. Kifah was admitted at 4:15 A.M., one hour after leaving her home on her way to the hospital, a five-minute drive. Throughout, they say, the soldiers watched the unfolding events from the checkpoint. “I thought they would have a different humanity,” Ashraf says. The IDF Spokesperson’s Office issued the following response: “On the night of January 7, 2008, a Palestinian women accompanied by two young men arrived at the checkpoint near Tel Rumeida, as she was about to give birth. When the soldier saw that she was pointing at her belly and expressing herself in an articulate manner he immediately called for an army medic, ambulance and doctor in order to assist her. The Palestinian woman passed through the checkpoint with no delay whatsoever and within a few minutes she was evacuated by a Red Crescent ambulance. The IDF employed all means possible in order to assist the birthing mother.” Ahmed was placed in an incubator for a few hours, to raise his body temperature. He weighed 2.5 kilograms. The next afternoon the family was quick to check him and his mother out of the hospital because of what they describe as the inferior conditions of the obstetrics ward. “It’s better at home.” Mother and son are doing well, as the saying goes, despite everything, almost miraculously. His name was given to him long before, because as a child his father, Ashraf, was called Abu Ahmed – father of Ahmed. Since the birth their home has been filled with well-wishers. The happiness this time is greater than when Shireen was born. With her they reached the hospital in time; she was born in the morning. They sit for a group portrait – mother, father, daughter and son – showing the semblance of a happy, secure, tranquil family.


The following editorial from today’s HaAretz is also worth reading…

The siege of Gaza has failed

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff


The first report about this morning’s action at the Gaza border was just published on Ynet…

Left-wing activists protest Gaza blockade at Erez border crossing

Uri Avnery had the following to say at the demo…..

‘We won’t be party to this crime’

Left-wing activist Uri Avnery made a speech during the rally in which he said: “Three days ago, a wall fell here, like the Berlin Wall fell, like the separation wall and all walls and fences will fall. But the inhumane closure that has been imposed on one and a half million Gaza residents by our government and by our army in our name – this closure will continue with all its cruelty.


“As Israelis who came here with basic supplies, in our desire to tell the Israeli public and the whole world: We won’t be part of this crime. We’re ashamed of this siege,” Avnery said.


Avnery added that: “Our hearts are with our Palestinian brothers who are demonstrating with us on the other side of the fence. Don’t lose hope that one day we will meet without fences and walls, without weapons and violence, as two nations living together in peace, in friendship, in partnership.


“Our hearts are also with our brothers in Sderot. The Qassam threat must be stopped, but it won’t be stopped through a policy of an eye for an eye or 100 eyes for one, because this leaves us all blind. It will end when we speak with the other side. Yes, yes, with Hamas,” Averny said.


From what I can gather the numbers indicated in the report are much less than the actual participants…. but that is normal for ‘journalists’ not sympathetic to the cause.

Also read Uri Avnery’s Essay Of The Week


Image by David Baldinger
The grieving father of our beatiful Abir just contibuted this article on the situation. In tribute to his martyred daughter and all the other victims of the occupation, he suggests that it end NOW!

End the occupation – and get justice for its victims
Bassam Aramin

This month, President Bush visited the Israeli-occupied West Bank towns of Bethlehem and Ramallah and declared that the occupation must end. These were no doubt welcome words to Palestinians and Israelis alike. They provide hope for peace; for without occupation, peace is truly possible.Unfortunately, for many, including my 10-year-old daughter Abir, it is too late.One year ago, Abir was shot in the head by Israeli border police as she left school. The soldiers allege that they were fighting with children who were throwing rocks.Although the soldiers claimed Abir had been attacking them, witnesses and an independent autopsy demonstrate clearly that she was shot in the back of the head while running away.The pain that these lies caused my wife and me is hard to express. Our baby never made it home from school. She was killed; why must her name and innocence be killed as well?Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence in the occupied Palestinian territories. According to the Israeli human rights group Btselem, 864 Palestinian minors have been killed since 2000, and not one case has been brought to justice. But these are statistics, and Abir was my daughter. She was my life.It would be very easy for me to hate – to find my gun and kill soldiers in the name of my daughter. That is how the cycle of violence is perpetuated. Every child killed is used to justify more killing.I was once part of the cycle. I began fighting the occupation at age 13 and spent seven years in an Israeli jail for helping to plan an attack on Israeli soldiers. My only regret then was that no soldier was hurt or killed.However, during my time in prison, I talked with many guards. I learned about their families, their lives and their history, as well as their pain and loss. I saw each as a human being and not just as a soldier, guard or occupier. Eventually, I came to understand how both sides have become instruments of war and victims of the occupation.After I left prison, I began working to end the occupation in a peaceful manner. In 2005, we established Combatants for Peace, former Israeli and Palestinian fighters who now refuse to take part in the bloodshed. Instead, we work together using nonviolent means to end the occupation. Through the telling of our stories, we’ve begun to understand each other, and we’ve learned there is more that unites us than divides us.The death of my daughter almost finished Combatants for Peace. I had to choose between anger and hate, and my vision of peace. I chose peace, and the organization continues working for it today in memory of Abir. But justice is an essential component of peace. So I am also seeking justice for Abir.Despite his acknowledging the occupation, Mr. Bush’s commitment falls short in many ways. He spoke of “illegal outposts” but ignored the 200 or so illegal Israeli settlements spread out across the West Bank. All of these settlements are built on stolen Palestinian land and are connected by a maze of roads that dissect Palestinian communities and upon which only Israelis can drive.Until the U.S. government is willing to move beyond rhetoric, embrace international law and act to end the occupation, it is hard to envision an end to the violence.We who have been touched by the violence have become partners for peace, and though we can try to make the violence stop, we can’t do it alone. Israelis and their government – and Americans and their government – should be ashamed at the travesty in Gaza today; my neighbors are in darkness, without food and medicine, just days after President Bush delivered his promising words.The rest of the world, including Mr. Bush, needs to recognize its responsibility to make the occupation end. We know that peace is possible when justice prevails.Bassam Aramin is a former Fatah fighter and a co-founder of Combatants for Peace. He is on a U.S. speaking tour that included a stop in Baltimore this week. E-mail:



Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
The following are thoughts that have been floating in my head lately… thought I would share them with you.
My name has been smeared. The name of my people has been smeared. My religion has been identified as a Satanic cult….
What have we, as a people done to you? Why are millions of us being collectively punished for crimes we did not commit? Does anyone have an answer to these questions?
Have any one of you gone out of your way to know us, to befriend us? Do any of you even know my name? Does God??
We are no different than anyone else… we are human beings with human needs and human feelings. Why do you deny that to us?
Do you even know my name? Does God??


Image by Abonoon
Worldwide, the flame of a candle is seen as a symbol of hope. In Gaza, it is now a tool of survival. And too many cannot find it.
The above are the closing words of my dear brother’s latest report from Gaza…. Help us find that tool, help us survive.

In Gaza, It’s Darkness At Noon

Mohammed Omer

GAZA CITY, Jan 23 (IPS) – It gets dark, and cold, and people are getting hungry.

Israel closed border crossings Friday, not allowing even UN humanitarian aid trucks carrying basic food. Crossings have been closed frequently since October 2007.

“On Wednesday or Thursday we will have to suspend our food distribution programme in Gaza,” spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Christopher Gunness told IPS. “We are running out of fuel for vehicles.”

With 80 percent of the 1.5 million people in Gaza dependent on food aid, this latest severing of food sources is building up to a humanitarian catastrophe.

Umm Jamal Al Baba, a 60-year-old from Rafah camp, stands visibly tired in a queue of hundreds for bread. “I can no longer make bread in my house — there is no gas for cooking, no electricity.”

Now that rice had disappeared under the siege, or priced out of the reach of most people, bread means survival for Palestinians in Gaza Strip.

This Palestinian area voted in Hamas, which does not recognise Israel, and this has led to continuing Israeli reprisals. The narrow strip of land has Israel on one side and the Mediterranean on the other, and people are dependent on food and other resources coming in from the Israeli side.

The situation for Palestinians is somewhat better in the West Bank bordering Israel and Jordan. Israel is more accepting of the other Palestinian party Fatah which runs the Palestinian Authority there. The two Palestinian areas are cut off by Israel in the middle. Prosperous Israel next door is a world apart from the world of Umm Jamal.

After a long wait, Umm Jamal leaves with a small bag of bread. “This will not be enough to feed my grandchildren for even one day,” she says. “I can only hope this situation does not go on for long, because I don’t know how much longer we can last at this rate.”

And what if the situation does not improve? That, she said, could be the beginning of a “hunger revolution”.

Like others, Umm Jamal woke up Monday to shuttered shops and desolate streets because of the petrol shortage. The main power plant shut down Sunday after Israel blocked fuel supplies, plunging much of the Gaza Strip into darkness. The little electricity supplied has been shared among different cities and camps for a few hours a day.

“Gaza needs 250-260 megawatts of electricity, not counting the needs of factories and workshops, many of which have been demolished and shut down,” says Jamal al-Dardasawi, spokesman for Gaza’s Palestinian Electricity Company. “Israel and Egypt provide roughly 50 percent of Gaza’s electricity needs.”

Dardasawi said Israel has destroyed many electricity lines during its latest military invasions, leading to further cuts. “The electricity crisis in Gaza came following the manufactured fuel shortages,” he said. “If the shortages continue, they will gravely affect electricity supplies to hospitals and clinics.” Medical centres already suffer from lack of medicines, blankets and food.

Gaza City streets and houses are in utter darkness. Forty-one-year-old Ahmed Hussien searches the shops in vain for candles for his children. He leaves empty-handed. “I have been to four shops; there are absolutely no candles available in the market.”

Hussein says he cannot see why Israel does not let even candles through. “Will I threaten Israel’s security if I light one candle for my kids in a dark night, so they don’t cry all night?”

Worldwide, the flame of a candle is seen as a symbol of hope. In Gaza, it is now a basic tool of survival. And too many cannot find it.


‘Cold and Worry’ by Ismael Shammout
Photos of Gazans crossing into Egypt today
Photos and text of ‘life’ in the Warsaw Ghetto
New York Times report from Gaza Today….

Palestinians Topple Gaza Wall and Cross to Egypt


Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
How far does Israel have to go to prove to the world that they are conducting a holocaust against the people of Gaza? How many deaths, and by what method are required to fit that particular definition?
No, there are no gas chambers in Gaza. No, there are no crematorium in Gaza. But YES, there have been mass murders, targeted assassinations, starvation, deprivation of every essential needed to survive… including food,the lack of water, electricity, medical supplies, medical facilities, heating oil for homes, and diesel for transportation.
The worst possible is happening NOW… Don’t wait to speak out against this holocaust…. don’t wait till the numbers of dead reach the millions… ONE DEATH BY MURDER IS ONE DEATH TOO MANY….
There are things you can do NOW to help the people of Gaza…. here is just a partial list of what/where to start…..
ACTION ALERT: END THE CLOSURE OF GAZA NOW!Call (202-895-5400) or email ( the Egyptian Embassy and demand that Egypt open the Rafah crossing

(1/22/08) Since Friday, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza has escalated to previously unimaginable levels. Over the past five days, Gaza has been completely shut off from the rest of the world due to an Israeli – and Egyptian-enforced – closure of all border crossings. By Sunday, approximately 800,000 Gazans were left without electricity as Gaza’s only power plant ran out of fuel. Many of the hospitals and medical clinics were also left with dwindling medical supplies and little to no fuel to power generators. As a result, approximately 75 Palestinians have already died from the closure, and a number of patients in intensive care units have died as their emergency life support equipment cannot function without electricity. Many hospitals are forced to choose which equipment to keep running: dialysis machines, neonatal units, or heart and oxygen machines.

Furthermore, with no fuel or electricity for the water pumps and sewage treatment plants, most Gazans have now lost their running water, with several neighborhoods, including the large Zatoun neighborhood east of Gaza City, flooded with sewage.

The closure has resulted in a deliberate and collective punishment of the entire civilian population of Gaza (nearly 1.5 million Palestinians). Such collective punishment directly contravenes explicit provisions of the 4 th Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signing party.

John Ging, director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza said the civilian population was living in “abject misery” and had been stripped of their human dignity.

“People here in Gaza have been living in abject misery and hardship now for a long time,” Ging told Al-Jazeera. “On top of that they are living in darkness… You have to see how miserable the situation is. The civilian population is under occupation. It is collective punishment – they are victims.”

For its part, Egypt has willingly assisted Israel in the closure, preventing any Palestinian from leaving Gaza through the Rafah crossing. In particular, several ambulances carrying critically ill patients have been refused entry by Egyptian authorities. Faced with starvation and death, a group of Palestinian female protesters attempted to leave Gaza, only to be turned away by water cannons, gunfire, and baton-wielding Egyptian soldiers. At least 25 Palestinians have been injured by Egyptian soldiers enforcing Israel’s closure.

Though the media has reported that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to express opposition to the humanitarian crisis, Mubarak has followed these empty words with affirmative acts to enforce the closure. Egypt does have the power to alleviate Palestinian suffering by at least allowing entry of fuel, emergency medicine and medical supplies, and supplies needed by aid agencies to distribute food .

Call the Egyptian Embassy in Washington D.C. and demand that Egypt open the Rafah crossing, and cease enforcing the closure of Gaza now!

Embassy of Egypt
3521 International Ct. NW
Washington, DC 20008
TELEPHONE: (202) 895-5400 – or – (202) 966-6342 –or- (202) 667-3402

For example: “As an [Arab/Arab-American/Egyptian/Concerned American], I am concerned with the humanitarian crisis that is currently transpiring in Gaza. I am especially concerned with Egypt’s participation in the closure, and refusal to open the Rafah crossing as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are trapped in life-threatening conditions.”

Call the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C. and demand an end to the closure of Gaza now!

Embassy of Israel
3514 International Dr., NW
Washington, DC 20008
TELEPHONE: (202) 364-5500

Emergency Protests

Anaheim, California: Saturday, Jan. 26, 1 p.m. 512 S. Brookhurst St. Between Orange Ave. & Broadway)

Washington DC: Friday, Jan. 25 (time tba), at the Israeli Embassy, 3514 International Dr. N.W.

San Francisco, California: Friday, Jan. 25, 4-6 p.m., Israeli Consulate, 456 Montgomery St. (near California)

New York, New York: Saturday, Jan. 26, 1 p.m. at the Israeli Embassy, 43rd St. and 2nd Ave.

Chicago, Illinois: Tues., Jan. 29, 5 pm at the Lakeshore Theater, 3175 North Broadway (at benefit for the Friends of the Israeli Defense Force).

Seattle Washington: Friday, January 25, 4 p.m., Westlake Park, 4th & Pine Sts.

Info for this post was taken FROM


Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
When Menachem Begin signed a Peace Treaty with Anwar Sadat, I am positive that neither even dreamt this would mean the beginning of the end for the Palestinian people.
Twenty eight years down the line the Egyptians are proving their loyalties to the zionist state by denying patients from the besieged regions of Gaza medical treatment.
The following, just in from Gaza, talks about this new situation…..
Palestinian women storm Rafah crossing; Egyptian police use water cannons, clubs to suppress protesters


Gaza – Ma’an – Hundreds of Palestinian women were beaten by Egyptian security forces after the women broke through barbed wire on the Rafah border into Egypt from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday afternoon.

Egyptian riot police used water cannons and clubs to suppress a surging crowd of demonstrators. Women shouted “God is great!” while rushing the gate into Egyptian territory. A number of women lost consciousness in the ensuing violence.

The security forces arrested the women, using dogs to break up the crowd.

Demonstrations began at the Rafah crossing point on Monday, with protesters calling for the border to be opened to allow Palestinian patients into Egypt for medical treatment.

After months of tightening sanctions, Israel imposed a total lockdown on the Gaza Strip on Friday, blocking shipments of food, medicine, and fuel oil. Running on emergency generators, Gaza’s hospitals were treating only the most serious cases.

Crowds of women gathered at Rafah crossing on Tuesday morning in a demonstration organized by Change and Reform, the Hamas bloc in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).

PLC member Huda Na’im said the demonstrators have no intention of backing down: “We won’t surrender until they lift the blockade.”

Hamas said that Gaza’s problems will not solved be by shipments of fuel alone, but that a complete end to the embargo that has beseiged one and a half million people in the coastal strip was necessary.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that the demonstrations and sit-ins will not stop until the blockade is lifted.


Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
The following articles are MUST reads if you want the truth about the situation in Gaza. News is trickling out slowly as power cuts make communication with the outside world next to impossible…
What IS getting out MUST be spread far and wide… no one will be able to say “We didn’t know”…. we are here to tell you that facts…. YOU WILL KNOW!
The only way to combat the horror of this occupation and siege is to know the facts…. spread them…. shame the oppressor to submission.
 A Week of Funerals in Gaza
‘The cold keeps the food from going bad’
Strong in numbers
Gaza blackout blamed on Israel
Aid agencies fear Gaza ‘disaster’



I ‘jumped the gun’ a week ago when I posted THIS thread, actually today is Martin Luther King Day, a national holiday in the United States.

This is a speech he gave in opposition
to the Vietnam War.
He was murdered a year later.

I think you will finding it shocking
in its relevance to the situation today.


THIS report appeared in HaAretz on Saturday. The report carried the title ‘Holocaust scholar: ‘Jew’ has become a curse word among German youth.’ It was crossposted on What Really Happened with the following remarks added by Michael Rivera, administrator of that marvelous site…

Well, since the students were not even BORN when the Nazis were in power, maybe they are just sick and tired (as I am) of having “The” Holocaust crammed down their throats like it was all their fault.

Maybe they are smart enough (as I am) to realize that all this focus on what happened in Europe in the middle of the last century is just a smokescreen for what is happening in Gaza right now.

Maybe they are tired (as I am) of whiners with their hands out demanding money for something that the students had no control over.

Michael’s remarks got me thinking just how right he is. Just how long is a nation expected to carry a guilt from the past?

German youth are getting sick and tired of being blamed for ‘their’ crimes during the nazi era…. and rightfully so. They are sick  and tired of having the holocaust crammed down their throat as if it was all their fault. 

It seems that those horrific events in the middle of the last century are being used as a smokescreen for what is happening in Gaza today. Sixty years ago the holocaust ended in Eastern Europe, sixty years ago the occupation of Palestine began by the zionists. Some venture to say that there is not a coincidence with the timing, I personally prefer not to go there, but it does seem strange.

For sixty years the German people have lived with the guilt of the crimes of that era, for sixty years similar crimes are being committed elsewhere. My question is just how long is a nation expected to carry a guilt from the past?

The nazis were not alone in those days, they had their supporters throughout Eastern Europe and parts of Western Europe. Recent disclosures also prove that quite a number of high ranking American officials profited from the slaughter of millions of people.

The same is true today, the zionists are not alone, they have the financial and moral backing of much of the Western governments. So I ask another question, should the Germans take that blame alone? Should the Jews of today take the blame of the crimes committed today? In both cases the guilt is a collective one. In both cases complicity was/is a crime in itself.

Just as not all Germans were nazis, neither are all Jews zionists. What was done then was not done in their name, what is done today is not being done in my name.



Gaza suffers as siege goes on


Life under siege in Strip: Palestinian health officials report shortage of burial shrouds; cement only available on black market, long lines form at gas stations. Meanwhile, Hamas calls on world to intervene

Ali Waked, ynetnews, 19/1/2008




Gaza suffers as siege continues: Israel’s decision to completely seal off Gaza Strip crossings for the time being, as well as the mounting Palestinian casualty toll in recent IDF anti-terror operations, has intensified the sense of distress faced by Gaza residents.


Hospitals and the Palestinian Health Ministry, as well as family members of casualties, said they were forced to bury Palestinians killed in IDF strikes draped in flags and hospital bed sheets, because of a shortage of burial shrouds.


Meanwhile, Palestinians also faced difficulties in conducting burial ceremonies as a result of a cement shortage. At this time, cement is only available on the Gaza black market and its price leaped five-fold, a rise that has also halted all construction.


In addition, reports regarding Israel’s intention to further minimize fuel supply to the Strip led to long lines near gas stations. In many locations around Gaza, and mostly in the southern part of the Strip, gas stations closed down after running out of fuel. A station owner told AFP that the supply he received only lasted for two hours.


Power outages more frequent

According to reports, more than one million Palestinians – about two thirds of Strip residents – are currently relying on UN food handouts. Electricity in Gaza also became a sought-after product, with Gazans who could effort a generator purchasing one.


Officials in the Strip are saying that Gaza’s sole power station, which at this time only produces 45% of its maximal output, has enough fuel to supply electricity only until Sunday morning. Meanwhile, Gaza power outages have become more frequent in recent days. At the same time, Hamas leaders again called on the world Saturday to intervene in order to ease the siege on the Strip.

–    72 victims .. Is the death toll among patients due to lack of medical drugs Or were prevented from leaving Gaza for medical treatment Due to the Israeli siege

—    624 student … Are prevented from leaving Gaza to their universities Due to the Israeli siege on Gaza

—    ZERO .. Is the stock balance of 90 basic drugs at the Ministry of Health stores  in Gaza due to the Israeli siege

—    ZERO .. Will be the stock balance of 360 basic drugs at the Ministry of Health stores in Gaza by February 2008 due to the Israeli siege

—    ZERO .. Is the stock balance of 60 blood bank supplies and lab materials at the Ministry of Health in Gaza due to the Israeli siege

— 100 Million USD .. Is the estimated losses of the agricultural season of 2007-2008 in Gaza due to the Israeli siege

—  14 million USD .. Is the current losses in the Strawberry and Carnations products in Gaza Due to the Israeli siege

—  80% of Agricultural Corps .. Will be damaged due to lack of pesticides, medicines, fertilizers, and greenhouse materials due to the Israeli siege on Gaza

— 40 thousand worker .. in the agricultural sector will lose their jobs due to the Israeli siege on Gaza

— 25 thousand tons .. Of Potato and Vegetables are prevented from being exported Due to the Israeli siege on Gaza

— 160 million USD .. Are the current losses of Construction sector because no raw materials are allowed into Gaza

— 100% .. Of factories of construction accessories stopped Due to the lack of raw materials allowed into Gaza

— 20 million USD .. Are the current losses of the textile sector Due to the Israeli siege on Gaza

— 600 textile factory .. Closed their doors totally due to the Israeli siege on Gaza

— 25 thousand workers .. Lost their jobs in the textile sector due to the Israeli siege on Gaza

— 90% .. Is the decline percentage of production of furniture factories due to lack of raw materials due to the Israeli siege on Gaza

— 12 million USD .. Is the current losses of the furniture factories due to the Israeli siege on Gaza

— 6,000 worker .. Lost their jobs in the furniture factories in Gaza Due to the Israeli siege

— 95% .. Of metal and engineering factories closed their doors Due to the Israeli siege on Gaza

— 700 worker .. Lost their jobs in the engineering and metal factories Due to the Israeli siege on Gaza

— 25 million USD .. Are the current losses of the trade sector Due to the Israeli siege on Gaza

— 39 tourist company.. Are about to close their doors due to closure of borders

— ZERO .. Is the accommodation percentage in Gaza hotels Due to the Israeli siege

— ALL .. Light drinks factories in Gaza stopped their activities Due to the Israeli siege

— 900 worker .. Lost their job in the light drinks factories Due to the Israeli siege on Gaza

— 30% .. Is the current production capacity of the food factories in Gaza Due to the Israeli siege

— 45 factory .. Closed their doors in Gaza Industrial Zone Due to the Israeli siege

— 30% .. Of owners of factories in the Industrial Zone began procedures to leave Gaza

— 90% .. of the trade shipping sector is totally stopped Due to the Israeli siege on Gaza

— 450 driver and 1000 worker .. Lost their jobs in the trade shipping sector Due to the Israeli siege on Gaza

— 120 thousand worker .. Lost their jobs inside the green line Due to the Israeli siege on Gaza

— *** Chamber of commerce  ***

Alert for Action


In protest of the Israeli continuous siege on Gaza, Israeli peace groups led by Gush Shalom and in coordination with End the Siege campaign, initiated a Relief Convoy to Gaza on Saturday, January 26, 2008, on both sides of the Erez crossing in Gaza, with Israeli, Palestinian and International participation.


We urge you all to support this action

and to take an active part in making it a success


This initiative will certainly create a momentum which we must employ by declaring 26 January 2008 as an International Action Day. A day where all of us join efforts to put pressure on the Israeli government to end the siege on Gaza. Therefore, we call upon all of our friends and supporters around the world to organize activities in that same day in their hometowns, to protest the Israeli siege on Gaza. We suggest organizing delegations to meet with parliament members and government officials, media exposure, and organizing demonstrations in front of the Israeli embassies/consulates.


In this context, we wish to emphasize on Prime Minister Fayyad’s initiative that the Palestinian National Authority re-gain control over the Palestinian side of the crossings; an initiative that won the support of many relevant parties including the Quartet.


It is thus deemed very important that all our calls and activities to end the siege on Gaza be associated with a strong emphasis in support of PM Fayyad’s initiative, which represents a practical, timely, and feasible way to end the siege.


(for more details:



Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
From BBS News
So Many Tragedies in Such Little Time

BBSNews 2008-01-20 — By Mohammed Omer. Where to start? What to talk about? The crippling electricity shortages, affecting hospitals as well as civilians? The air strikes & on-going, daily bombings by the Israeli army, their indiscriminate targeting of civilians and police stations? Israel’s non-accidental, enforced starvation of 1.5 million people by closing off ALL borders and not allowing in even UN aid, let alone basic medicinal, food, and construction needs?

Palestinian youngman running from an Israeli rocket which hit one of the houses in Gaza City.
Palestinian young man running from an Israeli rocket which hit one of the houses in Gaza City.Image Credit: Mohammed Omer, Rafah Today 2008-01-20.

Shortages of fuel have re-surfaced in Gaza: Most of Gaza has no electricity and even more importantly, the shortage of medicine in Palestinian hospitals continues to increase, with the Ministry of Health reporting a looming humanitarian catastrophe.

Or should I begin with the bomb which just hit a wedding close to the Ministry of Interior building in Gaza City, with 15 apartment buildings within the bomb’s target range? One woman was killed and 47 others were injured – mostly children and women who had been inside their homes or playing on the street! Scenes of children injured, bleeding and crying just moments after they had been enjoying a wedding celebration in a Gaza wedding hall … a horrific sight likely to go without mention of that in most news sources.

The injured were evacuated to Al Shifa hospital, where it was then hard to find enough beds and blankets for them, with children crammed three to four on a bed due to overcrowding.

Earlier Friday, Israel closed its border with the Gaza Strip to all traffic in what officials say is response to cross-border rocket fire, preventing even UN humanitarian supplies from getting in. The decision came after Israel vowed to broaden its military campaign against Gaza militants who have fired more than 110 home made rockets at southern Israel in the last three days resulting in the injury of two Israelis.

In contrast, 19 Palestinians were killed in one day last Wednesday during another Israeli attack, this one targeting the eastern part of Gaza City.

These are the latest attacks, but not the only: Since the visit of US president and ‘peacemaker’, George W. Bush, within only 74 hours, Israel has killed 37 people and injured more than 90. Those numbers, which could again go up at any minute, were confirmed by Khaled Radi, the Ministry of Health spokesman in Gaza. Radi also said that Israel is using internationally illegal weapons, which makes it impossible for people to identify the bodies of their relatives as they have been destroyed to unrecognizable ends.

Among the tens killed were a 13 year-old boy and his father and uncle, killed in what Israel claims was “a mistake”. Another Israeli attack killed a mother, Maryam Al Rahel, and her son, Mohammed, who were on a donkey cart when an Israeli warplane bombed them. Their bodies, like so many others, were rendered into small pieces of flesh, scattered everywhere!

An Even Blacker Night!

I and some journalist colleagues went to offer condolences to a journalist friend of ours for the death of his cousin as a result of medicine shortages on Wednesday. While on the way, there was a lot of shooting going on, from funerals and demonstrations. Later, as we were starting to drive off from our parking spot, Mohammed, another journalist, suggested waiting for a moment. But as others preferred to not wait around, we eventually left.

After we had gone just a few minutes down the road, we learned that the place where our car had been parked had just been bombed, targeting and killing two Palestinians, injuring another three. “It could have been us who were killed,” one of the journalists said to me. I answered: “Thanks to God, it wasn’t. But this is so sad; it must be terrible for their families, with children left behind and no one now to support them.”

Update on Killings

As predicted, the death toll has risen since I began this report: Another two have been killed in northern Gaza, and another 4 badly injured. Israeli Ministry spokesman, Shlomo Dror says that: “It’s unacceptable that people in Sderot are living in fear every day and people in the Gaza Strip are living life as usual.”

And I wonder, what exactly does he consider “life as usual”? For if he means it is normal that over 35 civilians should be killed in 4 days, an entire population should be on the verge of starvation and should be forced to shiver through winter nights without electricity or sufficient blankets, that hospitals and medical centers should be forced to shut down or operate at sub-par capability and without needed medicine, food, blankets, and even space, the list goes on … well then yes, we are living life as usual.


From Ma’an News


A humanitarian crisis is underway as the Gaza Strip’s only
power plant began to shut down on Sunday, and the tiny
coastal territory entered its third full day without
shipments of vital food and fuel supplies due to Israel’s
punitive sanctions.

The Gaza Strip’s power plant has completely shut down on
Sunday because it no longer has the fuel needed to keep
running. One of the plant’s two electricity-generating
turbines had already shut down by noon.

This will drastically reduce output to 25 or 30 megawatts,
down from the 65 megawatts the plant produces under normal
conditions. By Sunday evening the plant will shut down
completely, leaving large swaths of the Gaza Strip in

Omar Kittaneh, the head of the Palestine Energy Authority in
Ramallah, confirmed that by tonight, the one remaining
operating turbine will be powered down, and the Gaza power
plant will no longer be generating any electricity at all.

“We have asked the Israeli government to reverse its
decision and to supply fuel to operate the power plant”,
Dr. Kittaneh said. “We have talked to the Israeli
humanitarian coordination in their Ministry of Energy
[National Infrastructure]. We say this is totally Israel’s
responsibility, and that reducing the fuel supplies until
the plant had to shut down will affect not only the
electrical system but the water supply, and the entire
infrastructure in Gaza – everything.”

After months of increasingly harsh sanctions, Israel imposed
a total closure on the Strip’s border crossings, even
preventing the delivery of humanitarian aid. The Israeli
government says the closure is punishment for an ongoing
barrage of Palestinian homemade projectiles fired from the
Gaza Strip.


180 fuel stations have shut down after Gaza residents to buy
gas for cooking.

A Palestinian economist Hasan Abu Ramadan said the current
humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip will be deepened by
the blockade on fuel and food supplies. He warned that Gaza
Strip could go from a situation of deep poverty to all out
famine, disease, and malnutrition.

Abu Ramadan said that more than 80% of the Strip’s 1.5
million residents have been surviving with the help of food
aid from international organizations such as UNRWA for
Palestinian refugees.

International condemnation

Most international actors in the region believe there
already is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, including the UN’s
Emergency Relief Coordinator, the Undersecretary-general for
humanitarian affairs John Holmes, who said at a press
conference at UNHQ in New York on Friday that “This kind of
action against the people in Gaza cannot be justified, even
by those rocket attacks”.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon expressed particular
concern, in a statement issued later on Friday through his
spokesperson, about the “decision by Israel to close the
crossing points in between Gaza and Israel used for the
delivery of humanitarian assistance. Such action cuts off
the population from much-needed fuel supplies used to pump
water and generate electricity to homes and hospitals”.

The UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on the
situation of human rights in the occupied territories, John
Dugard, also issued a much sharper statement on Friday,
saying that Israel must have foreseen the loss of life and
injury to many nearby civilians when it targeted the
Ministry of Interior building in Gaza City.

This, and the killings of other Palestinians during the
week, plus the closures, “raise very serious questions about
Israel’s respect for international law and its Commitment to
the peace process”, Dugard said. He said it violates the
strict prohibition on collective punishment contained in the
Fourth Geneva Convention, and one of the basic principles of
international humanitarian law: that military action must
distinguish between military targets and civilian targets.

Maan News Agency


Both images ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
Canada to rewrite ‘torture’ manual


Amnesty International has criticised a decision by Canada to rewrite a training manual that put the US and Israel on a list of nations where prisoners risk being tortured.
The document, released on Friday, named the US, Israel, Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Syria as places where torture was used.

It had classified some interrogation methods used by the US as torture, including isolation, sleep deprivation and blindfolding, according to an official document obtained by Reuters news agency.

The decision to redraft the manual used by Canadian diplomats came after the US objected.


Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International, said: “It was commendable to see that manual, which seemed to include an important section that was an objective assessment of human rights concerns around the world.

“To see that now be undermined by concerns about embarrassing allies is very disappointing.”

US objection

In a statement issued on Saturday, Maxime Bernier, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, said that he was embarrassed by the public disclosure of the manual that “wrongly” includes some of Canada’s closest allies.

“I regret the embarrassment caused by the public disclosure of the manual used in the department’s torture awareness training,” Bernier said.

“It contains a list that wrongly includes some of our closest allies. I have directed that the manual be reviewed and rewritten. The manual is neither a policy document nor a statement of policy. As such, it does not convey the government’s views or positions,” the statement added.

Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Marina Wilson said on Saturday that she could not say yet how long it would take to review the manual or what the process might involve.

Sharp response

The document had prompted a sharp response from the US, a key NATO ally and trading partner, which asked to be removed from the manual.

“We find it to be offensive for us to be on the same list with countries like Iran and China. Quite frankly it’s absurd,” David Wilkins, the US Ambassador told The Associated Press on Friday.

“For us to be on a list like that is just ridiculous.”

He said the US does not authorise or condone torture. “We think it should be removed and we’ve made that request. We have voiced our opinion very forcefully,” Wilkins said.

A Canadian citizen, 21-year-old Omar Khadr, is in custody at Guantanamo on charges that include killing a US medic with a grenade during a July 2002 firefight in Afghanistan.

He has claimed in the past that he has been abused, but Canadian foreign affairs officials have said they accept US assurances Khadr has been treated humanely.

Human rights groups believe Canada has not done enough to ensure Khadr, who has been in custody since he was 15, is being fairly treated.

Alleged abuse

The workshop manual, which was used in the foreign affairs department’s torture awareness training, was produced about two years ago while Canada’s justice Dennis O’Connor was investigating the case of Maher Arar.

Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian engineer, was imprisoned and tortured in Syria for almost a year after he was detained and sent there by US authorities in 2002, wrongfully accused of having terrorist ties.

A Canadian judicial inquiry, led by O’Connor, later cleared him.

The government inadvertently released the manual to lawyers for Amnesty International who are working on a lawsuit involving alleged abuse of Afghan detainees by local Afghan authorities, after the detainees were handed over by Canadian troops.

The document offers a section on laws prohibiting torture and what diplomats should do when cases are suspected.

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