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Issue39 complete 4web

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  • 1. Jewish history museum to be built over Muslim graveyard Thousands demonstrate against attack on Gaza Not enough food in Gaza Aqsa Israel stops foreign journalists from entering Gaza est uct oDestruction o Ga aon Gaza
  • 2. R E A C T I O N S T O T H E G A Z A C R I S I S 2 Thousands demonstrate against attack on Gaza Farah Iqbal, 29, Birmingham History exposes the many shameful genocides initiated by megalomaniac politicians. Gaza is more shocking because of the incredible disparity between the aggressor and the victim, and the fact that the perpetrator claims the role of victim. Some world leaders are almost cheering Israel on while theycondemntherealvictims.Israel on civilians with impunity. Governments, including Arab ones, should feel ashamed of their open complicity in these attacks. Israel needs to be challenged on its claims including that there is no humanitarian crisis and that Gaza is no longer occupied. Israel controls the sea, land and air space of Gaza, so it is still occupying it. This crisis has made me focus my prayers on the people of Gaza once more, and I pray that we see a free Palestine in our lifetime. Arwa Aburawa, 22, Manchester Like everybody I know who heard and subsequent death toll, I was illegal Israeli settlements, theft of land, house demolitions, the separation wall and the brutal blockade on Gaza it had become one day of violence and another day of oppression- in Palestine, it was always just more suffering. Yet Israel’s latest deadly attack against the Palestinians of Gaza cannot be ignored and will never be forgotten. “Operation Cast Lead” which began a deadly and undiscriminating assault on a siege-crippled people has already been declared the bloodiest day in all sixty years of In four days Israel killed almost 400 hundred Palestinians and injured over 1,000 others. It is hard not to feel helpless watching news, hearing women cry for their children and listening to the world leaders spinning their lies. I just keep asking myself why isn’t the US and UK directly condemning What should we all be doing to these questions; all I know is that we will never give up on Gaza. Be a part of Friends of Al-Aqsa. Join our mailing list, To receive updates and information about our events, log in your email at our website www.aqsa.org.uk Israel’s attack on Gaza has led to hundreds of thousands of people across the globe taking to the streets in protest. The international condemnation from the citizens of the world has been loud and resounding and protests have spanned from New York, London and Paris, to Damascus, Tel Aviv and Karachi. Despite Israel’s attempts to convince the world that this is a defensive war, the protests around the world are no longer convinced by Israel’s ‘security’ related arguments for attacking Palestinian towns and cities. On January 3rd 2009, the streets of every major city in the world were taken up by protestors. In London, despite the freezing temperatures, between 60,000 and 80,000 protestors marched from Embankment to Trafalgar Square, in an emotive show of opposition to the war. Following the precedent set by Iraqi journalist Muntazer al- Zaidi, many protestors brought with them old shoes which they threw across Whitehall towards Downing Street. Police reported that 1,000 old shoes littered the streets after the demonstration. The protest in London was supported by many politicians and celebrities, including Annie Lennox, Bianca Jagger, Alexi Sayle, Ken Livingston, George Galloway, Yvonne Ridley, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Clare Short MP and Sarah Teather MP. The main message emanating from the speakers at the demonstration was that Israel needed to be stopped resolution needed to be employed that did not include death, destruction and bombing of civilians. Annie Lenox described her feelings when she saw the bombings and said she was responding ‘as a mother and as a human being’ by opposing the bombing of Gaza. She encouraged both sides to come to the negotiating table so that peace could really be achieved between Israel and Palestinians, something everyone recognises isn’t going to be achieved by war. The protest continue to take place across the country. Demonstrators line the streets of London Annie Lennox speaking to the Media about the humanitarian situation in Gaza Bianca Jagger speaking at the rally Ken Livingstone speaking to the crowd
  • 3. 3 Aisha Abbasi, 25, London It is saddening and maddening that Israeli Occupation Forces have killed and injured so many civilians in Gaza. It is little wonder that many people like myself are angered and are calling for world leaders to act. Israel is a bully and the world can see that. Killing women, children and the elderly has been something that the Israeli government has long been attack on Gazan civilians is being watched and reported the world- over. Every day, pictures of bloodied people, old and young, white sheets covering human mounds and what once were large buildings now reduced to rubble, are displayed on our television screens and you can’t help but feel deeply saddened and infuriated. May the people of Gaza be liberated from their oppressors, may they be victorious and may the suffering end. To Allaah we belong and to Him we shall return. Victory to the Palestinians! Fatima Patel, 35, Leicester Israelis say that they are targeting Hamas and not civilians. But, you only have to look at the news reports to see that this is far from the truth. The majority of people killed in this bloody war against the Gazans are civilian men, women and innocent children.Israel’sattackontheschool in Gaza on Tuesday 6th of January is further proof of its persistent terror The injustice of the situation is astounding. We are constantly reminded of Israel ’s ‘vulnerability’ to the possible threat of Hamas. But when you put it into context, Hamas is just a small group within Palestine. What about the threat of terror from Israel to the Palestinians’ - being bombed on a daily basis, being driven out of their homeland, losing their families and having little or no basic supplies of medicine, food on them not only by the Israelis but with the support from countries such as the U.S. , Britain and the puppet Arab countries. So whilst we the international communitystandbyandwatchIsrael ‘defend’ itself from the supposed threat of Hamas rockets, the death toll of innocent Palestinians in Gaza is rising rapidly. If Israel has the right to defend itself from minor rockets then surely the Palestinians have a right to defend themselves from the deadly bombs the Israelis that pebbles do less damage than bricks. From the start of the Israeli bombing of Gaza, Israel impeded access by foreign journalists to the besieged strip. As the military onslaught continued, the Foreign Press Association (FPA) issued proceedings at the Israeli Supreme Court challenging Israeli restrictions on their right to travel in to Gaza. In a judgment delivered on 31 December 2008, the Court held in favour of the journalists ordering the Israeli government to allow international journ- alists to enter Gaza and report on the effects of the attacks. The victory was very limited in scope however, as the court only required Israel to allow up to 12 journalists to enter Gaza each time the Erez crossing is opened. As Israel has sealed all border crossings, apart from allowing paltry supplies to enter, no journalist actually managed to cross the border. The FPA was scathing of Israel, and FPA’s lawyer, Gilead Sher stated that Israel’s prohibition on journalists entering Gaza “violates two fundamental rights – the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press.” He went on to state that “[t]here are several countries in this world, such as North Korea, Zimbabwe and Burma, that zones. Israel is a democracy with a free liberal press and it should stay so, even in times of crisis and danger.” Israel’s ban on journalists in Gaza has been criticized by many as an attempt to limit the media coverage which would give a realistic portrayal of the extent of the suffering on the ground. In the meantime, Israeli spokespersons are dominating the airwaves in an attempt to convince the world that the war is just. Following the ground incursions, Israel allowed limited numbers of foreign journalists to enter ‘deeply imbedded within its army.’This was considered by some as another move to ensure Israel’s side of the story was told. Israel stops foreign journalists from entering Gaza Prior to the bombing of Gaza, the 18 month long siege which isolated it completely from the outside world had a crippling effect on the area.The siege of Gaza made the lives of the Palestinians living there a nightmare, and amounted to yet another cruel form of collective punishment imposed by Israel. With unemployment at 80%, much of Gaza is aid- dependent. The main power plant in Gaza was forced to shut down duetoalackoffuelinDecember resulting in more than 75% of the Gaza strip being affected, with some people living in complete darkness. Power cuts and daily blackouts not only cause distress to the families, but also affect supplies into the area. Only 15% of the needs of the population were reaching them, leaving the majority without adequate food, fresh water, electricity and medicines. The 1.6 million civilians were and continue to be denied freedom of movement, and even severely ill patients were not permitted to travel to neighbouring countries for treatment not available in Gaza. TheUnitedNationsorganisation (UNRWA) distributing aid was also restricted in its duties leading to it predicting a dire humanitarian crisis even before the bombing occurred, if the siege was not lifted. Gaza’s economy collapsed entirely as Israel prevented any export from Gaza through the controls. To add to the misery, Israel continued incursions into Gaza causing death and injury to civilians even during the period of truce. As a result of this misery imposed by Israel, into Israel from the Gaza Strip. Israel has used this as grounds for launching its war on Gaza, citing Israel’s need for security. Palestinians argue that they have no semblance of normality in their lives at all due to Israel’s occupation, and security for Palestinians remains a distant dream. Many Palestinian mothers have asked why their children are considered less than Israeli children. The Gaza Siege R E A C T I O N S T O T H E G A Z A C R I S I S
  • 4. I N B R I E F 4 Muslim charity’s bank accounts to be closed Barclays Bank and Lloyds TSB have both issued warnings to Interpal and Ummah Welfare Trust that their accounts will be closed in the next few weeks, without giving any explanation Despite heavy campaigning to reverse the decisions, many feel that this amounts to yet another attempt to restrict the continuation of essential humanitarian work in Palestine. Interpal has been an essential aid organization in Palestine for many years, providing aid for orphans, widows and assisting with other social projects. Ummah Welfare Trust conducts aid projects in countries around the world, including Palestine. It is thought that they have been their aid work in Palestine. The closure of these accounts will have detrimental effects on the charities’ ability to continue their work Unilever withdraws from illegal Israeli settlement Unilever, a major manufacturer of food, home care, and personal products has made the decision to divest from a pretzel and snacks factory situated in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. The factory is owned by the company Biegel & Biegel, which Unilever own a 51% share in. The decision came about through constructive dialogue between Unilever Netherlands and United Civilians for Peace (UCP) concerning the legal and ethical implications of investment in Biegel & Biegel. This represents an important and the occupation as the economic maintaining the illegal settlements. Anti-Islam Conference takes place in Jerusalem A one-day conference with an anti- Islam theme took place in occupied Jerusalem last month with speakers from America and Holland as well as Israel. Daniel Pipes, an American Jewish Zionist with anti- Islam views; Dutch legislator and politician Greet Wilders and far- right Israeli lawmaker Aryeh Eldad were among the attendees of the conference. Ismael Shindi, a professor of Islamic Studies at Hebron University said “These people are not serious scholars. They are motivated by a pathological and blind hatred of Islam and Muslims, not by a real desire to know the truth. Their respective records and backgrounds underscore their academic, intellectual and moral bankruptcy.” .Join our mailing list, To receive updates and information about our events, log in your email at our website www.aqsa.org.uk As the U.S President-elect Barak Obama starts to form his has been a very strategic one for the Middle East. Obama has chosen the Illinois Democrat Congressman, Rahm Emanuel, a former adviser to President Clinton, to be his Chief of Staff. Rahm, an Orthodox Jew, was born in Israel and has deep Zionist roots. He was a special Israeli Defence Forces operative during the 1991 Gulf War. Once in position, he will be responsible for much of the internal management of the new administration. The Independent described his role as follows: “Mr Emanuel’s really he’s the Obama team’s pantomime villain: the tough- guy….who twists arms and is responsible for actually getting things done”. His dealings with the Clinton administration has given him the reputation of a partisan Democrat. Rahm, nicknamed “Rahmbo”, served as a volunteer in the Israeli Defence Force with dual U.S and Israeli citizenship. His father, Benjamin M. Emanuel, was a member of the Zionist Irgun terrorist organisation, which was responsible for blowing up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946 and was also involved in the Deir Yassin massacre in 1948. In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv, Emanuel is reported to have said regarding his son’s the president to be pro-Israel, why wouldn’t he be? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to House.” Rahm later apologised for these comments on behalf of his father to the American- Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Obama has led Palestinians to worry about the new American Middle East crisis, although many around the world are of the doubt and are waiting eagerly in hope that the US will become more impartial under Obama’s watch. The departing precidency of George W. Bush has been the most disasterous for Palestinians. During his allowed Israel impunity in its military actions against Palestinians leading to severely oppressive policies.. Violent raid in detention centre injures detainees Palestinian prisoners at the Oufar detention facility located in Bitounia town southwest of Ramallah in the West Bank suffered a violent raid by Israeli prison guards on 20 December 2008.Thefacilityhasbeenused since April 2002, following “Operation Defensive Shield” under which a large scale Israeli military campaign in the West Bank took place. Many Palestinians were arrested during that operation and were being detained at Oufar. There are currently 1,200 Palestinians still in detention living under harsh conditions. On 20 December, dozens of Israeli prison guards along with representatives of the detention centre conducted a violent, and what detainees called unprovoked, ‘search’ during which they physically assaulted many of the prisoners. The detainees were then tortured with hot water hoses, sound bombs and tear gas canisters. Fires broke out in 8 tents and 9 detainees were injured in the violence. Reports suggest that the number of raids in such detention facilities has increased over the last year, and include increasingly alarming assaults on the prisoners. The is becoming more prevalent, causing suffocation and respiratory diseases in many detainees. The Palestinian prisoners, their lawyers and their families remain helpless to do anything about the violence against them from Israeli prison guards. Campaigns have been launched within Israel and the Palestinian territories to raise awareness of the plight of over 11,000 prisoners held by Israel. Many of these prisoners are held for political reasons and numerous have not been charged with any offence. Jewish history museum to be built over Muslim graveyard A $250 million museum which will contain a theatre complex, library, conference centre,galleryandlecturehalls, is to be built over the site of a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem by the Los Angeles-based the Simon Wiesenthal Centre. It is estimated that around 70,000 Muslims are buried in the cemetery,includingsomeofthe Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) companions. The Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance, claiming to promote unity and respect for all faiths, began preliminary excavations in February 2006 on the site of the Mamila Muslim cemetery, but was halted when it came to light that around 300 skeletons were unearthed and taken away by the Israeli Antiquities Authorities. Two Palestinian groups lost the appeal in the Israeli High Court of Justice for the excav- ations to be stopped, and permission was granted for the construction to continue, over the cemetery site. The Court held that the cemetery has been in public use since the 1960s when a small parking lot was put in place over a section of the graveyard. The court also rejected the claim that the building of the museum would cause disruption of public order. The Mufti of Al-Quds, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, said the verdict was a “grave decision which harms the Muslim holy sites.” In a press conference soon after the verdict was announced, Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel said “Israel is declaring a global war on Muslims and Arabs”. Construction is expected to resume immediately.
  • 5. I N B R I E F 5 Pressure to complete Apartheid Wall by 2010 The Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said that the 790 km- long separation wall must be completed by 2010 due to rising global condemnation. Despite the World Court declaring the building of the wall as illegal in 2004, Israel has continued to cut off the Palestinians with concrete wall sections and wired fencing, which is being constructed inside the West Bank; annexing huge chunks of Palestinian Land in to Israel. Leader of Palestinian organisation sentenced Ahmed Saadat, the leader of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has been sentenced to thirty years in prison by an Israeli military court for heading a “terrorist organisation”. Saadat was arrested in March 2006 during a raid on a Palestinian-run prison in Jericho. He was originally accused of planning the murder of Rehavam Zeevi, the then Israeli Minister of Tourism, but this was not mentioned at the time of sentencing. PFLP members believe the arrest was purely political. Ahmed Saadat, 54, is a father of four and was a staunch supporter of Extra-judicial killings prevalent among Israeli Occupation Forces The Israeli state has been involved in ‘targeted assassinations’or extra- judicial killings since its inception. Some have accused Israel of ‘state terrorism’ due to this policy which basically boils down to execution without trial. The use of targeted killings is closely linked to the political situation at the time, and the number of killings escalated during the second Intifada, beginning in 2000. This crime against humanity is no secret as Israel is very open about this illegal practice. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) reported that during the period between 2000 and 2006, Israel killed 603 Palestinians during extra-judicial killing operations, to Palestinian deaths. Interpal gets limited aid through to besieged Gaza Despite the bombing of Gaza and closure of borders, the charity Interpal was successful in getting some aid through to the besieged aid went through the Rafah crossing in collaboration with emergency response efforts organized by the Egyptian Medical Syndicate, Human Relief Committee. Israel is restricting the amount of humanitarian aid passing into Gaza and once it does pass, there is little infrastructure left on the other side for distribution, resulting in many Palestinians not receiving desperately needed supplies. In December 2008, the unprecedented step when it advised Britons not to purchase property within Israeli settlements in the West Bank. These settlements were built by Israel illegally on land stolen from Palestinians, and over the past 30 years, more and more settlements have been established and existing ones expanded despite UN Resolutions condemning Israel and international pressure to give the land back to the rightful Palestinian owners. This advice from the government is seen as a proactive shift in British policy where Israel is concerned, and warns potential purchasers that peace agreements between IsraelandthePalestinianscould have an impact on the property. Palestinians negotiating peace have demanded a return of the land upon which the settlements were built. These without compensation from Palestinian families who have lived on them for generations. Israel has refused to relinquish the settlements and in an effort to change facts on the ground, built its separation wall within the occupied West Bank so that it circles the major illegal settlements, cutting them off permanently from the remainder of the West Bank. The British government takes the position that these settlements are indeed illegal, in accordance with clear provisions of the Third Geneva Convention. Palestinian Ambassador to the UK, Manuel Hassassian, responded by saying: “This is a dramatic change of policy by Great Britain. They have gone a long way in being critical of Israel’s policies. In the past they have talked about settlement being an obstacle to peace and so on. But this is a milestone. They are now being proactive and very serious.” In a letter addressed to Salam Fayed from Gordon Brown, dated December 9th and quoted by the Guardian, Mr Brown said: “We have long expressed our opposition to settlement activity. But that activity has continued and has accelerated since theAnnapolis process was launched. I share your frustration at this. The UK is now looking at what effective action we can take to discourage settlement expansion. “Given our clear position on settlements it follows that we would not want any British national to purchase property inside an illegal settlement.” Israel has responded negatively to the change in policy as expected. Israeli settlers pose many problems to Palestinians including their propensity for violence against Palestinians, as evidenced in a Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) which stated that Israeli ultranationalists have been encouraged by the state to take over Palestinian land and natural resources. The reports states that: “Settler violence is not random criminal activity; in most cases it is ideology-driven, organised violence, the goal of which is to assert settler dominance in the area” On another front, Britain has been taking a leading role in persuading the EU to properly label products made in settlements in the West Bank, some of which are marked as made in Israel. established in Jerusalem As President George W. following what some have dubbed the most disastrous Administration in US history, his parting gift to Israel is the Forward-Based X-band Transportable (FBX-T) radar system. This radar system is intended to strengthen Israeli defences against possible missile attacks from Iran, and was put in place in Jerusalem. The radar system is manned by 120 U.S. personnel and is designed to detect short and medium-range missiles. It is located at an Israeli Air Force base at Nevatim in the Negev Desert, where it is linked to the U.S. Joint Tactical Ground Station (JTAGS) in Europe. This new system onse time needed by Israel if it is attacked and provides more detailed information about the missile including its place of origin. Most importantly, this parting “gift” from America meansthatanymissileattackon Israel is now likely to be seen as an attack onAmerica as well, justifying U.S. involvement in any counter-attack. Although this has great implications for protecting Israel from air missiles, it also means Israel will be limited from launching any attack on Iran. The radar system was put in place “as a signal of Washington’s opposition to an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear program”. It means that U.S. permission has to be sought before any Israeli strike on Iran. American personnel responsible for the radar, and all associated military would become a target in the event of a retaliation by Iran thus drawing It remains to be seen how this strategy of the Bush admini- stration will effect Obama. Not enough food in Gaza The humanitarian crisis in Gaza was occurring long before Israel’s bombings and bombardment. The people in Gazawereslowlybeingstarved for months before the current assault. At the beginning of November, the entire Strip was sealed off from the outside world once more as Israel ref- usedtoallowinfood,medicine, fuel, parts for water and sanitation systems, fertiliser and even basic necessities such as phones and paper were in short supply. According to Oxfam, merely 137trucksoffoodwereallowed into Gaza in November. This is actual needs of the 1.5 million residents of the Strip. This average of 4.6 trucks per day can be compared to the average in October 2008 of 123 trucks per day which was realistic number needed by the population of 564 trucks per day which went in during December 2005. The two main food providers in Gaza are the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the World Food Programme (WFP). UNRWA alone feeds approximately 750,000 people in Gaza which amounts to half of the population. It requires this requirement. Between 5 November and 30 November only 23 trucks arrived in total. This amounts to approximately 6 per cent of the total food needed. There were three days in November 2008 when UNRWA ran out of food and this left 20,000 people without sustenance. John Ging, the director of UNRWA in Gaza, states that most of the people who get food aid are entirely dependent on it. The WFP has encountered similar problems getting its food trucks into Gaza. Furthermore, for those trucks that Israel has not allowed into the Gaza Strip, the WFP is required to pay to store the food being carried by them. This cost $215,000 in November 2008 alone. The WFP will have to pay an extra $150,000 for storage in December, thus instead of using this money to support Palestinians, it will go to Israeli businesses.
  • 6. 6 A Doctor in Galilee: The life and struggle of a Palestinian in Israel BY HATIM KANAANEH Pluto Press, ISBN 978 0 7453 2786 0, £18.99 Palestinians living within the State of Israel are often low on the priority list for Palestine solidarity activists. The quieter oppressions of discrimination and marginalisation are less attention-grabbing than the horrors of military occupation, and the fact that some Israeli citizens of Palestinian descent side with their new government and even serve in the Israeli army alienates some supporters of the Palestinian cause. Hatim Kanaaneh’s autobiography, however, is a highly readable, engaging and clear-sighted illustration of why anyone who wishes to see the Palestinian people and culture survive and thrive should be supporting those Palestinians resident within Israel. And despite the walls which now divide those in the Galilee from their cousins in J eninorTubas,thedevastating pain of Kanaaneh’s response to the 2002 Jenin massacre, whose aftermath he witnessed, across the Separation Wall still are. Kanaaneh uses an autobiographical format to explore the history of those in 1948. He describes his own Mandate and then Israeli rule, growing up in the Galilee village of Arrabeh, steeped in family history and resentment of the British atrocities of 1936, when the Mandate authorities put down a Palestinian uprising by destroying food and farming supplies in acts very reminiscent of later Israeli military offences. From 1948 to 1966, Palestinian villages like Arrabeh existed under military rule, and even after this, expressions of Palestinian identity or protests against discrimination and oppression were met with violence, including the killing of six unarmed demonstrators participating in a strike in 1976, an incident commemorated on March 30th as Land Day ever since. Kanaaneh is not, however, romantic about pre-1948 Palestinian life. The villages he remembers may have been part of a vibrant Palestinian history and culture, but they were also poor and life was tough. Kanaaneh himself describes the realisation that his odd appearance as an adult was down to childhood rickets, and that two of his siblings who died in infancy were not victims of evil eye, but of malnutrition. He is also critical of the traditional patriarchy of his home and of its effects on the lives of women and girls, including the ongoing danger of ‘honour killings’ for women seen as having shamed their families. The modern Palestinian villages which Kanaaneh describes in the Galilee are also far from romantic. Under massively discriminatory Israeli planning and municipal funding policies, ‘Arab’ towns are systematically under- resourced. They often lack decent roads, good-quality other healthcare facilities, adequate water resources and safe sanitation. Kanaaneh’s personal experiences offer particular insight into the oppression meted out to Palestinian citizens of Israel through the health system. As a doctor he patients to be provided with the same healthcare as Jewish Israelis – for them to be given the same priority in building new clinics and hospitals, to be properly targeted in immunisation campaigns and for reproductive choices to be given to all women as a right of control over their own bodies, not to be manipulated as a weapon by Israeli politicians the Arabs.’ The many Machiavellian ways in which the Israeli state accomplishes these aims – and the deliberate nature of the discrimination – is thrown into sharp relief by Kanaaneh’s own stories. He describes the outrageous bureaucratic buck-passing which allowed Palestinian and Bedouin villages to endure open sewers running through the streets and women having to collect water from a single standpipe, while a Jewish town on the next hilltop might have glittering swimming pools and sprinklers scattering potable water onto he also describes incidents when racist assumptions by Jewish doctors, nurses or receptionists, or the absence of Arabic-speaking personnel in hospitals in areas with large Arab populations, caused sickness and death amongst Palestinian patients. Supposedly neutral medical administrators are revealed as sympathising with policy of deliberate removal of Arab citizens from Israel, and the interference of the Shin Bet security apparatus in the education system, vetting teachers and students, is exposed as ruining lives and careers. And racism amongst Israeli Jews – particularly discrimination against Sephardis–illustratesthemany divisions within the society of the State of Israel. Kanaaneh’s Palestinian colleagues are not let entirely off the hook either. The complacency of old-timers and the widespread networks of informers throughout Arab communities are held up for scrutiny.Palestiniancontractors are condemned for their role in building Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and the Islamic religious elite amongst Israel’s Palestinian community excoriated for their willingness to have new appointments vetted by the Shin Bet. This is not a book to their assumptions. Kanaaneh’s willingnesstocriticiseallsectors of society – including himself – means that there are no heroes in this book, and although there are villains aplenty they don’t always conform to the reader’s prejudgments. But between Jonathan Cook’s excellent introduction and Hatim Kanaaneh’s decades of experience and ability to convey it through his own life and the stories of the patients he sees, organisations he’s run and fellow villagers he’s given lifts to, this is a deeply informative account of the realities of life for Israel’s Palestinian citizens. Sarah Irving is a freelance writer www.sarahirving.net BOOK REVIEW
  • 7. 7 By Yvonne Ridley Some of my more eclectic, fun-lovingfriendsarebecoming weary of my campaigns against injustices. I see their eyes glaze over whenever I mention Palestine and the fact that half a million Jewish settlers are living illegally on land stolen in They squirm uncomfortably on their chairs showing all the signs of activism fatigue. But I had a major breakthrough recently with Palestine and suddenly had their attention like never before. It was simple. I took Palestine out of the Middle East and began talking about the Mediterranean. I told them how myself and 40 plus other peace activists sailed to Gaza to break the draconian siege imposed by the State of Israel. Slowly, but surely their eyebrows arched as I said our two boats from the Free Gaza Movement weaved in and out of the Greek islands, on to Cyprus and then into Gaza never once leaving Mediterranean waters. My fun- loving, sun-loving gels were shocked. “It’s not a Mediterranean issue, surely not?” quizzed one who is still a candidate for 18-30 holidays and crazy weekends in Ibiza. Another who is more Torremolinos (minus Monty Python’s spam and chips) Turkey and Tunis appeared to turn white under her fading summer Med tan, while the third told us how she had spent all of July and August sailing around the Greek islands. Suddenly I had my Fun Girl Three sitting, mouths wide- open in amazement, as I told them about the Palestinian around the Mediterranean rim ... it’s an industry which has been on the go since biblical times. Now these Palestinian endangered species, I warned - far more vulnerable than other endangered species in the Mediterranean including the emblematic sharks, turtles, whales and seals. And there it was, on their faces. Something which I had tried in vain to do previously - I had got their attention and they were shocked and it showed. We huddled around my lounge inaconspiratorialmanneraswe got out our iPods and Google Earthed the Mediterranean. Sure enough, there on the east side of the Mediterranean was the tiny Gaza Strip. thick and fast. Who is trying to their own waters? What is the European Union doing? It was one of those Eureka! moments and I realised where we - as in Palestinian campaigners, peace activists and supporters might be going wrong. We are boring the pants off the non-activists who really can’t get that excited about a bunch of exotic folk living in faraway distant lands. I’m not excusing this type of attitude, but let’s start dealing with the realities. Yes, I know it’s not right but let’s face it, this wall of apathy is even harder to tear down than the Apartheid wall which eats into Palestinian lands. So let’s turn Palestine into an issue that Europeans will really understand by bringing it closer to their homes. Let’s educateWesternholidaymakers who head to the diverse Mediterranean coast for their breaks about the basic right of cast his nets in the same waters Can you imagine how Spanish, French, Italian or if they were told by Israeli Naval personnel to go back to the shore? Can you imagine the international outcry if these shelled as they tried to haul in their catch? Can you imagine the consequences if powerful nets of these Mediterranean men causing damage to and destroying the nets? Or, as happened recently, boardedbyIsraelifrogmenwho then set about with taser stun guns attacking those on board. We only found out about this latest episode because the fools couldn’t tell the difference between international activists from America, Scotland and Italy otherwise they would never have raided the boat. Of course there would be an international outcry, diplomats and forwards in the corridors of power if this sort of piracy or terrorism happened elsewhere in the Mediterranean. So why is it OK to do all of this and more to Palestinian same sea, which is why I think this is now a European Union issue rather than a Middle East one. The leaders of the Arab world have shown they’re as much use as a gelded horse in a stud farm, so until they get some guts, gumption or backbone let’s turn this issue into a European problem. At the moment the Israeli Navy controls the Gazan territorial waters under its illegal occupation of the entire region and its siege of the Gaza Strip. Every day Palestinian to their livelihood, their well being and their lives – a direct result of this decades long Israeli Occupation and this 2 year long siege.The Palestinian to a livelihood - to go out and families and live their lives just like their counterparts do elsewhere in the Med. I think the time has come to exert pressure on the European Union to do something and act swiftly to protect this endangered species in the Mediterranean waters. www.yvonneridley.org CatchYvonne on her weekly show The Agenda, broadcast on Press TV every Thursday evening after the 8pm news on the Sky channel 515. By Arwa Aburawa As the attack on the Gaza Strip continues, a Palestinian human rights organisation has warnedoftheimmediatedanger to children being targeted and killed by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). The Palestinian Centre for Human rights stated in its latest report that, “If the renounced by either side and the hostilities resume, then children living in the Gaza Strip will immediately be once more at risk of being targeted and killed by the IOF.” Gaza Strip on November 4, when Israeli forces killed six Palestinians in a raid. Ongoing retaliatory attacks between the two sides raised concerns that either disintegrate ahead of its expiry or a new agreement would not be reached. The heightened blockade on Gaza, put in place at the beg- inningofthehostilities,attracted criticism from humanitarian organisation due to rapidly dwindling food, fuel and medical supplies. A report by the International Committee of the Red Cross revealed that the blockade had led to a steady rise in chronic malnutrition among the 1.5 million people living in the Gaza Strip. Whilst the threat of malnutrition was noted, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) feared that the riseinhostilitieswouldmarkthe threat to Palestinian children. According to the latest PCHR report, Blood On Their Hands, Israel has “consistently failed in its legal obligation to offer protection towards the children of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” Since the Second Intifada in 2000 Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) killed more than 860 children in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, mainly within the Gaza Strip. Rather than respecting International Humanitarian Law and United Nation Convention on the RightsofChildrenwhichgrants children protection during the Israeli Occupation Force consistently use “excessive lethal force against Palestinian children.” From June 2007 to June 2008 alone, 68 children were killed in the Gaza Strip. These lethal attacks on innocent children- some only one years a response to militant groups PCHR investigations into such allegations have consistently refuted this, stating that the “IOF war on children in the Gaza Strip has increasingly involved IOF use of advanced militarytechnologytopinpoint, and kill the intended targets.” On 1 March 2008, twelve year old Safaa Abu-Saif who lived in Jabalia of northern Gaza bled to death after being hit by a single bullet. Her only crime was to take the outdoor stairs up to visit her aunties during the large-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip which was launched on February of the same year. She was struck down by IOF and when an ambulance was called, the family were told that they would be unable to make it as Palestinian ambulances were being targeted by Israeli tanks. Trapped inside their home, the family struggled to tend to Safaa who died three hours later. This evidence suggests that IOF are using snipers to target children, further undermining their claims that they are targeting legitimate military targets. PCHR investigations into110civiliandeathsbetween February/March 2008 also excessive lethal force against civilians in the Gaza Strip, and the deliberate targeting of civilians, including children.” Sadly, this is one of many widespread human rights violations against Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories which has resulted in the deaths of 3,724 unarmed civilians since 2000. PCHR’s report remarked that; “civilians were undoubtedly deliberately targeted, as the IOF bombarded, shot and shelled in and around densely populated civilian areas, where it was clearly impossible to distinguish between military and civilian targets.” The recent attacks on Gaza deaths is a clear indication that this pattern of targeting young children and civilians is set to continue. Furthermore with ground troops now inside the Gaza Strip, new evidence has emerged which indicates that Israel is openly targeting civilians. Such a blatant disregard for the lives of Palestinians and their young children cannot go unquestioned any longer and this attack on Gaza is giving rise to more criticism of Israel than seen since 1967. Arwa Aburawa is a freelace journalist Making Palestine a Real Issue Comment and Opinion Fears for the Safety and Future of the Children in Gaza
  • 8. 8 Message from Friends of Al-Aqsa defeated and helpless. What makes the is failing to condemn Israel and take the steps necessary for Israel to be stopped in its has been made of this despite national and This war is not defensive despite what Israeli politicians claim in the media. Israel learnt how to win from all perspectives. necessity, the war machine is now sharpening to the blogosphere and media, with footage available of so called precision bombing operations. in order to hamper impartial coverage. It has abysmal conditions in hospitals. the same rehearsed line to the media and governments all over the globe, however, the vigils and demonstrations have been held all over the world resonating international civil society’s condemnation of Israel, and a new Each of us can make fa difference. Details of the Friends of Al-Aqsa campaign can be found on the back page of this edition of Aqsa News.
  • 9. 9 Israel’s war on Gaza has beenI l’ a two pronged approach: military and media. A new information directorate was established by the the media. When the attack began, crafted core messages intended to victim and not the aggressor. It is important to disseminate the correct information to the Friends of Al Aqsa answers some War on Gaza. 1. Who are Fatah and Hamas? They are both political parties late Yasser Arafat. They were the leading political organisation Abbas is the head of Fatah. in 1987, and they have opposed Israeli violence and oppression. They became a political party and won a land slide election in Israel and its allies rejected a democratic election, and imposed sanctions which have crippled the 2. Are the Palestinian people divided? As with all societies, by Israel and the US’ divide and of Israeli. 3. Who broke the 6 month cease the majority of that time. Israel and severely restricted movement medical patients in dire need of treatment not available in Gaza were also denied movement to receive treatment. In November, Israel initiated over a three day period and left broken by Israel. 4. What does Gaza being ‘under siege’ mean? controls the air space and the sea, making Gaza in effect a large open air prison. Israel says it is ended as Israel controls all access to the territory. Israel imposed a siege when it closed all the border crossings and severely restricted the movement as they had no raw materials. had no access to vital treatment. and lack of clean water. Disease in children is the norm. Schools There is no semblance of normal life in Gaza and the 1.5 million than lives. 5. Does Israel have a right to self defence? Every state has the right to self collective self-defence if an armed Israel cites self defence and Israel’s military actions are in do not have a recognised state nor armed forces and therefore cannot been killed than Israelis. These defence very poor, especially as 6. What does international law state? civilians, amongst others. violating, almost each and every one of these sacred rights of the violations of which are war crimes. 7. What does going to a protest achieve – is there any point? what is happening in Gaza and the proves that opposition to Israeli will create a movement at the civil society level to take forward the 9. What else will make a difference? and a challenge to the Israeli government for not allowing that they remove them from their shelves in protest at Israeli and Spencer who are long time congregation for relief for 9. How can the Israel/Palestine and the ability to grow and prosper in peace and dignity, with their free of Israeli imposed violence For further information and to join the email list please visit www.aqsa.org.uk name for Gaza, the second is also one of the most ancient cities in the world. It is located was the great grandfather he died in Gaza while on a entered Gaza led by the great location between Asia and who is one of the great Fiqh War I. After Israel was formed, in 1949, Egypt and Israel signed a treaty to keep Gaza to atrocities being committed presence was stronger in Gaza and their political rivals Fatah for some months before has imposed a siege on Gaza inhabitants. The siege is still in force even as the war goes on. a nightmare. A father left his 4 children and pregnant wife Israeli rocket hit their small at the same time: the father, mother, and 5 children, leaving 5 month old baby girl when girls, aged 5 and 9, died while travelling with their father and to escape the bombing gives it to the children to eat. A father is forced to brings his electricity; and not even wood in some locations in Gaza in the winter. A mother died in the lap of her 9 year old son. I tried emotions overwhelmed me. Emergency vehicles are die attempting to help those who died before them. An old man in a wheelchair lives to tell the story of the bombing of his were killed, and many others civilian homes, markets; all of Israel to save its UN schools as children were killed in attacks on these schools. All these scenes and many more are not stopped by the No one is able to stop the do is defend their land and their people. They will gain victory. Gaza Hashim FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT ISRAEL AND PALESTINE
  • 10. pening in Gaza, which is a tiny strippstripripThere is a war happening in Gaza, whiT ere is a war happening in Gaza, whicherre is a wwar happpening in Gazazaza, whic ish is aa of land on the Mediterranean Sea. This area has 1.5 million Palestinians living on it and they are all crowded in. During the war, Israel has attacked a lot of Palestinian homes and public buildings including schools. It is important to think about the children in Gaza who have no safety and think about how you can help them. One good way would be to raise money for charity which can be sent to Palestine. The charity called Interpal helps Palestinians in Gaza. Other things you can do is raise awareness about what is happening in your school so that other children and students know what is happening. Maybe even write to the Prime Minister Godon Brown or your MP and tell them how you feel about the children in Gaza. This will help politicians in the UK be more fair in how they deal with Israel and the Palestinians. Most of all, when you make prayers, pray for the people of Gaza. I O NI O NT IT II TIT IT IE TEPPMOOC OC O MMMC O MC O M PC O M P IITTEEE T I IITTT I For your chance to win a £20 Argosr your chance to win a £20 Argos Voucher and a Friends of Al-Aqsa goody bag, enter our competition! 12 years old or under??? Find the words in this word-search for your chance to win! Deadline for both competitions: 29th February 2009 Send your answers with yourr name, age and address to: Friends of Al-Aqsa, PO Box 5127, Leicester, LE2 0WU. Or email us on info@aqsa.org Winners of the last editions competition: Zaynab Lorgat, age 9 from Walsall and Unaisah Ounia, age 16 from Preston. 13 – 18 years old??? chance to win! The words all relate to the War in Gaza. ymra iiinvlca ytlcasua nnatioocndem nnoientc cotker nneevogrmt ssiimlezaag trsip raw ing in Gaza whichThere is a war happening in Gaza whichT re is a war happening in Gaza whicheree is a wawar happening in Gaazaa which kiddies Corner 10 Gaza Bombing Aid Medicine Fuel Peace Food Supplies Electricity Families Charity School
  • 11. 11 As the Israeli war on Gaza continues, by land and air, the number of civilian deaths is escalating. Israel claims to be targeting Hamas and really to be found in people’s homes? Palestinians want to live ordinary lives not However, Israeli tanks are shooting and missiles are falling indiscriminately all over Gaza. One household, which like many others sought protect its family members from the bombing, managed to take shelter in their single- storey home in Zeitoun, south-east of Gaza city. But things turned for the worse when Israel stepped up its aggression and decided to roll in the tanks and artillery on the ground. Dozens of tanks and Israeli troops set up position close to the home of the Samouni family, as reported by the Independent. After seizing control of the area, neighbours were crammed in to the Samouni family’s home as the bombing and shooting started. They were left with no food or water, all day and all night, just waiting in fear for it to all end. On the second day, a bomb fell on the house, killing Wael Samouni’s mother, two cousins and three of his children. He had no choice his son Mohammed and those still alive. They were taken to hospital. Samouni’s brother and family were also in his house when the bomb fell, and his wife and daughter were killed. This story is just one of many tragic narrations of innocentPalestinianfamilies targeted in this war. Families are being killed and homes destroyed on a daily basis. In the Shamali district, north of Gaza city a missle struck a three-story apartment block, killing Amer Abu Asha, his two wives and four children. One of his brothers commented “It’s unjust. They are targeting civilians children, old women…some European andArab countries are supporting Israel in this terrorism. They want to crack down on Hamas, but Hamas is not in the houses. It’s on the front line. Go there and kill them. Not us.” On January 6th, an Israeli missile targeted a UN school in the Jabaliya refugee camp killing 40 women and childrenandinjuringafurther 15 critically. Other children were injured to varying degrees and left shocked as the school buildings and grounds were being used by families escaping the perilous refuge. After 2 hours of silence, Israeli spokespersons had the audacity to blame Hamas for the deaths, suggesting that Hamas were using the grounds to store weapons, then that the civilians were used as human shields and a whole barrage of other excuses for this inexcusable War Crime. Finally, a week later, they admitted that the school bombing was a mistake. For every deliberate strike against a religious building, hospital, or educational establishment, Israel has claimed Hamas stores weapons there. In each attack, dozens of civilians have been killed and Israel has shown no remorse for these deaths. Israel is fully aware that Gaza is a densely populated area and therefore any missile strike will kill innocent people, yet this fact has not stopped the missiles raining down. These actions have been labelled as atrocities by many human rights campaigners and the UN has issued several statements severely criticising Israel, including a UN Resolution calling for an immediate end to the hostilities and full withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Missile Strike Kills Three Siblings Israeli Shelling Kills over 40 at UN School
  • 12. TAKE ACTION! Politicians Write to the Prime Minister; Foreign Minister and your local MP demanding they call upon Israel to immediately withdraw from Gaza and stop the bombing. Rt Hon. Prime Minister Gordon Brown 10 Downing Street London SW1 2AA You can fax the Prime Minister on 020 7925 0918 Right Hon David Miliband MP Foreign Secretary King Charles Street London SW1A 2AH Tel: 020 7008 1500 (switchboard) And contact your local MP Media Write to the Media and request balanced Israeli government for not allowing foreign journalists into Gaza to report on the humanitarian situation on the ground: BBC News – 020 8743 8000 / 0870 0100 222 E: news24.comments@bbc.co.uk ITN – Tel - 0207 833 3000 Sky News – 020 7705 3000 / 08702 403000 Boycott It is now more important than ever to boycott Israeli goods and contact all stores and super- markets that stock Israeli goods requesting that they remove them from their shelves in protest at Israeli actions. Picket shops like Marks and Spencer who are long time supporters of Israel. A boycott list can be found at www.aqsa.org.uk Protest Attend protest rallies in your localities and nationally to make your voice heard. Attend the next national demonstration in London (details available on our web-site www.aqsa.org.uk) Prayer It is time we prayed as individuals and in congregation for the people of Gaza. Request your mosque and religious institutions to hold collective prayers. DON’T STOP UNTIL THE KILLING STOPS!! End the War on Gaza! Nowhere is safe in Gaza, and the lights are now out.