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  1. 1. Aqsa News FOR FREE DISTRIBUTIONQUARTERLY | ISSUE 44 | RAMADHAN EDITION BY ISMAIL PATEL Israel’s Tirkel Com- mission began its inves- tigation into the attack on the Gaza Flotilla in a bid to subdue inter- national outrage over the killing of 9 peace activists on board the Mavi Marmara on 31 May 2010. However, its many shortcomings have made it a mockery to Turkey, and to those who were on board the Flotilla, me included. In Israel, the peace bloc moved to challenge the Commission, calling for judicial interven- tion which would take the investigation away from the politicians and put it in the hands of the trusted independent ju- diciary in Israel. This, Gush Shalom says, is the only way to ensure that the people of Israel save themselves from a fate the politicians are pushing them towards. Former Israeli states- man Uri Avnery stated in support of Gush Shalom’s initiative that the Tirkel Commission intended to do nothing more than “appease at the cheapest price the world governments and public opinion.” So even within Is- rael, the Tirkel com- mission is not trusted by anyone beyond the politicians and possibly the military – the very same people who made the decisions leading to the disastrous and deadly interception of the Flotilla. On June 2nd, the UN Human Rights Council voted to set up an in- dependent fact-finding Continued on Page 4 The Gaza Flotilla: Why We Will Never Accept Israel’s Investigation On July 22nd, Jus- tice Secretary Ken Clarke made a statement in which he confirmed that the new British government will change the laws of universal ju- risdiction. The proposed changes would mean that any private appli- cations made to mag- istrates for the issuing of an arrest warrant for suspected War Crimi- nals would require the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions before a warrant is is- sued. In his statement, Ken Clarke defended this change to the law on the basis that “uni- versal jurisdiction cases should be proceeded with in this country only on the basis of solid evidence that is likely to lead to a successful prosecution - otherwise there is a risk of damag- ing our ability to help in conflict resolution or to pursue a coherent for- eign policy.” The result of the change in law would be that the very foundations of universal jurisdiction are thwarted as it would allow any government of the day to ignore well documented war crimes in the interests of ‘di- plomacy’. Thus, despite the number of accusa- tions of war crimes and crimes against humanity levelled against Israeli politicians and military personnel, they will be free to visit Britain without fear of being brought to trial for these crimes. Many had hoped that such a change in the law, brought about by intense Israeli pressure, would not be implemented due to the Liberal Democrat position in the coalition government. However, they have been disap- pointed. Ken Clarke Announces Change in Universal Jurisdiction SaveaLIFE,GiveCleanWATER supportInterpal’s CleanWaterProjectthisRamadan Donate now! Ring inteRpal on: 020 8961 9993 oR Visit ouR website on www.inteRpal.oRg aqsa news_2007_01.indd 1 20/07/2010 13:47 Friends of Al-Aqsa Update NEW: Letters to the Editor Page 6 > Page 9 > Page 10 > Page 16 > Inside... Demolition of Homes Illegal says UN Page 2 Turkey Threatens to Sever Israel Ties Page 5 Update: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Page 8 Comment by Shafik Firoz Page 9 Book Reviews Page 18 Proceeds from the sale of this book goes to Friends of Al-Aqsa Foreword by Friends of Al-Aqsa BAKING AID Special Feature: Israel Turns its Guns on Internationals The Gaza Freedom Flotilla
  2. 2. In lateApril, it was report- ed that Egypt used gas canis- ters and dynamite to blow up a smuggling tunnel between Egypt and Gaza, killing four Palestinians. The tunnels, used mainly for smuggling in basic supplies prohibited by the siege on Gaza, are poorly constructed and of- ten collapse. Palestinians in Gaza say they have no choice but to use the tun- nels due to the crippling blockade imposed by Israel. Two senior officers, a colonel and a lieutenant colonel received minor rep- rimands following a shoot- ing incident in the West Bank which left four Palestinians dead. Israeli human rights groups denounced the deci- sion made late in April, stat- ing that Israel is failing to hold its soldiers accountable and continues to uphold the culture of impunity within the army. Sarit Michaeli, a spokeswoman for Israe- li NGO B’Tselem stated: “It is extremely rare for the Israeli security forces to be held accountable in cases where they have killed or in- jured Palestinian civilians..” AQSA NEWS 02 Inside Palestine Certain aspects of the training Palestinian medi- cal students are required to undertake can only be com- pleted at East Jerusalem hospitals. The refusal of vi- sas means that the ability of students to qualify in the medical profession becomes threatened. Rights groups in Pales- tine and Israel have written to Israeli Prime Minister, Min- ister of Defense and Attorney General with regards to the treatment of Palestinian med- ical students completing in- ternships in hospitals within East Jerusalem. The demands made by the rights group in a letter dated 13 June 2010, stated that Israeli officials must ensure that the Gen- eral Security Service (GSS) do not coerce the students to collaborate with Israeli secu- rity services by threatening refusal of visas. The GSS has been report- ed to use both psychological and physical pressure to re- cruit the students to the secu- rity service. Refusal has re- sulted in withdrawal of visas and thus, they can no longer continue their studies. This is especially worrying in light of the increasing needs for better healthcare in the Occu- pied Palestinian Territories. NEWS IN BRIEF Palestinian Medical Students Pressured to Spy or Have Visas Withdrawn Egypt Responsible for Deaths in Gaza Tunnels Human Rights Groups Denounce Minor Reprimand of Israeli Officers In a move that has been highly criticised, Israel is try- ing to expel four Palestinian MPs from their home city of Jerusalem. In June, Israel ar- rested Muhammad Abu-Teir, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) because he refused to leave Jerusalem after being ordered to do so by Israeli officials. Palestinians in Jerusalem are fearful of losing their residency rights which is tightly controlled by Israel. Over 7,000 Palestinians have had their permits revoked and been forced to leave the city, a process that Palestinians believe is ethnic cleansing. The four men, Abu Teir, Ahmad Attoun, Muhammad Totah Khaled andAbuArafeh (former Palestinian Minister for Jerusalem Affairs) tried to get an injunction on June 15 against deportation. This was rejected by the Israeli Supreme Court Chief Justice Dorit Beinish. Israel claims that they are all members of Hamas – a party that Israel, the EU and US consider to be a “terrorist” organisation despite being democratically elected by the Palestinians in 2006. Richard Faulk, UN Spe- cial Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian Terri- tories said that he saw this to be part of “a larger, extremely worrying pattern of Israeli efforts to drive Palestinians out of East Jerusalem - all of which are illegal under inter- national law.” The four men had been given until the end of July to leave their homes in Jerusalem. AnIsraelisoldierhasbeen charged with manslaughter after the killing of a Palestin- ian mother and daughter dur- ing the Gaza War in Decem- ber 2008 and January 2009. The killings took place on January 4 which was the first day of the ground of- fensive. Numerous eyewit- ness testimonies stated that 27-year-old Majda Abu Haj and her 64-year-old mother Raya were amongst a group of approximately 30 women and children, when they were shot at. The family had taken shelter in the house of their neighbour, Mohammed al-Safadi afdter a shell had landed on their home. The Is- raeli Military then broke into radio broadcasts, instruct- ing those in the border areas to leave their homes. As the group did so, they were fired upon by Israeli soldiers. Several witnesses said that Majda had tied a white flag to a stick and was leading the group forward when the shooting began. She was shot in the back and died instantly. Her mother was also shot and died from her wounds soon after. Their bodies could not be recovered until January 19 due to Israeli incursions, and thus they were denied a dignified burial for over two weeks. Military police are said to have the launched the investi- gation after receiving eyewit- ness testimonies from Israeli rights group B’Tselem and after the incident was docu- mented in the UN fact-find- ing mission lead by Richard Goldstone. There have only been two indictments over Israel’s War on Gaza, which resulted in the deaths of over 1,400 Palestinians. The first was for theft and unlawful use of a credit card, and the second was for misconduct when sol- diers ordered a child to open up suspicious bags. Israeli Soldier charged with Murder of Palestinian Mother and Daughter Palestinian MPs Threatened with Expulsion from Jerusalem
  3. 3. AQSA NEWS 03 Israeli-Arab human rights defender and Director of Pal- estinian NGO Ittijah, Ameer Makhoul, was charged in May with ‘contact with a for- eign agent’ amid allegations of supposed links with Hiz- bullah.Amnesty International criticised the charges which were based on ‘secret evi- dence’. Ittijah is an umbrella organisation for Arab human rights groups in Israel. Makhoul was arrested from his home in a dawn raid and held incommunicado by Israeli secret police during which period he is believed to have been subject to torture. Amnesty International called for Israeli Authorities to end their harassment of the hu- man rights activist. Makhoul pleaded not guilty in court. Israeli Arabs are demand- ing a criminal investigation into the killing of 21-year-old Ahmed Deeb who was shot during a peaceful protest near the ‘buffer zone’in Gaza. The demonstration was in protest of the ever-widening no-go military ‘buffer zone’ which cuts into a large proportion of Palestinian land, effectively annexing the area. Twenty- two people have been killed as a result of Israeli violence in the ‘buffer zone’ and doz- ens injured. According to witnesses and video footage, Israeli soldiers opened fire on the peaceful demonstrators and began firing indiscriminately. Deeb was shot in the groin area and was taken to Al-Shi- fa hospital. He died later as a result of his injuries. The Jerusalem City Coun- cil in June approved plans to demolish 22 Palestinian homes in the East Jerusalem district of Silwan in order to make room for a tourist park. The decision was met with criticism both from the UN and the Obama administra- tion. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has said that the plan is “contrary to inter- national law” and “unhelp- ful” in the way of peace ne- gotiations. The approval also came just months after the an- nouncement of plans to build a further 1,600 housing units in illegal Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem, which was made during US Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to the area. At the time, there was intense friction be- tween the two nations as a result. US State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley stated, “This is expressly the kind of step that we think undermines trust that is fun- damental in making progress to the proximity talks and ultimately in direct negotia- tions..” East Jerusalem is occu- pied territory under interna- tional law and the building of Israeli settlements is there- fore illegal. Demolition of Homes Illegal says UNArab-Israeli Human Rights Defender Indicted Based on ‘Secret Evidence’ 21 Year Old Shot at Peaceful Protest Israel has claimed that the blockade on Gaza is be- ing eased following intense international pressure to lift the inhuman siege which has crippled Gaza for over three years. However, the replace- ment of the list of permissible goods with a list of prohib- ited good has been criticised by aid agencies as being ‘in- adequate’. In a statement made in early July, Israel said that all items will be allowed in, with the exception of “weapons, war-material and dual-use items”. Therefore, items such as concrete and iron will be allowed in only when super- vised by Israel and used in projects overseen by the UN or other international bod- ies. Aid agencies and rights groups continue to call for a complete lifting of the siege rather than an ‘easing’ in or- der to allow the Palestinian economy to flourish. Many heavily doubt how effective the alleged ‘easing’ will be. Jonathan Cook, a journalist based in Nazareth stated that since Israel re- mains in control of the bor- der crossings, the new list of permissible items will remain nothing more than an “as- piration”. He states, “..until Gaza’s borders, port and air- space are its own, its factories are rebuilt, and exports are again possible, the hobbled economy has no hope of re- covering.” Restrictions on move- ment of people within Gaza will remain, as will the naval blockade of the coastal en- clave. The sheer inadequacy of the move has frustrated many. “Simply easing the blockade by allowing more goods in is not enough. What about sick children who need life-saving medical attention out of Gaza? Will they and their families be allowed to move freely across the bor- der?” said Salam Kanaan of Save the Children. Malcolm Smart of Am- nesty International further stated, “This announcement makes clear that Israel is not intending to end its collective punishment of Gaza’s civil- ian population, but only ease it. This is not enough.” Whilst this news is positive to many, the reality on the gorund tells a different story. Aid Agencies say Gaza Blockade Still Intact Peaceful Protests against Israel’s ‘Apartheid’ Wall Criminalised Many Palestinians take part in weekly protests against the building of Isra- el’s separation Wall on their land. Dubbed the ‘Apartheid Wall,’ its route snakes into Palestinian towns and vil- lages up and down the West Bank. Activists engaging in peaceful protests against the Wall are now facing prosecu- tion and imprisonment. Adeeb Abu Rahmah, a grassroots activist who has already spent 11 months be- hind bars has been sentenced to two years imprisonment. The decision at a military court hearing on June 30 is being seen as a concerted ef- fort by Israel to criminalise grassroots popular resistance to the occupation and peace- ful protests. Abu Rahmah, a founding member of the Bilin Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, was arrested on July 10 2009 and later in- dicted on grounds of “incite- ment,” “activity against pub- lic order,” and “being present in a closed military zone.” Although his release was or- dered on July 16 2009, the prosecution later appealed and Abu Rahmah was held in custody for the duration of the legal proceedings. Abu Rahmah denies all charges, aside from acknowl- edging his participation in the weekly demonstrations at Bilin. Many have expressed concern over the fairness of any Israeli investigation. Hu- man Rights Watch in a report published on March 5 2010 highlighted the lack of fair- ness with which Palestinian anti-wall demonstrators are treated, citing charges based on “questionable evidence and allegedly coerced con- fessions.” For the past five years, since the first olive trees were uprooted in 2005, residents of Bilin have staged weekly demonstrations in opposi- tion of the construction of the Wall which has annexed much of their agricultural land, and threatens the vil- lage economy. In the village of Bilin alone, 1,300 protes- tors have been injured in the weekly demonstrations since 2005. Many fear that the charg- ing of Abu Rahmah could set a dangerous precedent for criminalising popular resist- ance.
  4. 4. Seven campaigners, who caused £180,000 worth of damage to an arms factory supplying equipment to the Israeli military, were acquit- ted at a trial held in July. The seven ‘decommissioners’ ar- gued that they had a “lawful excuse” to take direct action, against the factory responsi- ble for supplying the Israeli military with equipment used to kill Palestinian men, wom- en and children during the Gaza War. 30 year old Chris Os- mond, one of the decommis- sioners, said, “During Opera- tion Cast Lead 1,400 people were killed, 350 of which were children. The interna- tional community appeared to be completely helpless. The UN could not even protect its own compounds. The only light at the end of the tunnel for the people of Palestine is if ordinary people like us take direct action on their behalf.” The seven were ecstatic when the jury found them not guilty. The seven individuals admitted breaking in and sabotaging the factory but maintained they were justi- fied in doing so. They be- lieved that EDO MBM, the firm that owns the factory, were breaking export regula- tions by manufacturing and selling equipment to the Is- raeli military which would be used in the Occupied Ter- ritories, thereby constituting what they believed was a war crime. Judge George Bathurst- Norman highlighted the statement made by Green Party leader and Brighton MP Caroline Lucas in saying that “all democratic paths had been exhausted” before tak- ing direct action. Lucas expressed her joy at the decision taken to acquit the activists, stating “I am ab- solutely delighted the jury has recognised that the actions of the decommissioners were a legitimate response to the atrocities being committed in Gaza. I do not advocate non- violent direct action lightly. However, in this situation it is clear the decommissioners had exhausted all democratic avenues and, crucially, that their actions were driven by the responsibility to prevent further suffering in Gaza.” 82-year-old political thinker and academic Noam Chomsky was denied entry to the West Bank in May, where he was to deliver a series of lectures at Birzeit University and the Institute for Palestine Studies in Ramallah. Chomsky, who had been invited to speak by Palestini- an opposition leader Mustafa Barghouti was travelling with his daughter and two Jorda- nian friends as they tried to cross the Israeli-controlled border from Jordan to the West Bank. The friends were allowed through, but both Chomsky and his daughter were denied entry. Over the course of the three-hour questioning, Chomsky was told via fre- quent contact between the interrogator and the Interior Ministry, that they “didn’t like the kind of things [he] said about Israel”. The academic has de- scribed Israel as acting in a “paranoid” fashion, reminis- cent of apartheid South Af- rica. “I really don’t know of any other examples outside of totalitarian states where people are denied entry be- cause they are going to talk at a university. It may in part be just a reflection of the change in climate in Israel; the coun- try has visibly got much more paranoid, circling the wagons and so on. In fact, it is rather reminiscent of South Africa in the early 1960s, when it began to be recognised that they were becoming a pariah state and reacted pretty much in the way that Israel is react- ing now,” said Chomsky. Chomsky was also due to visit the area where dem- onstrations take place against the illegal security barrier be- ing erected by Israel which has cut in to large parts of Palestinian land. An official three-day con- ference of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is to be held in Israel later this year. The decision to have the conference in Israel follows a vote taken in May which al- lowed the state to join the 30 other member states, despite failing to fulfil the require- ments for admission. Israel’s accession to the OECD has enabled it to become part of what Foreign Minister Avig- dor Lieberman has described as “one of the most prestig- ious international clubs.” Campaigners were dismayed that European states failed to take Israel’s human rights record in the Occupied Pales- tinian Territories into account and instead choose to reward Israel in this way. AQSA NEWS 04 Global News Acquittal for Activists who Attacked Arms Factory Noam Chomsky Barred from West Bank OECD Conference to be Held in Israel (From page 1) mission to look into what the member states called viola- tions of international law which took place when Is- raeli troops raided the Mavi Marmara. Despite a refusal to cooperate by Israel, it is reported that this fact-finding mission will go ahead. Inde- pendent of this, legal and po- litical pressure continues to grow on Israel. As a civilian passenger on the Mavi Marmara, I wit- nessed first hand the brutality on board. I watched a man get shot in the head and an- other one die as blood gushed from his wound. Both need- lessly taken away from their family and loved ones. Men who were shot in their heads and upper bodies were in- tended to be killed. Later on, as the shots moved lower to their legs, there was clearly a decision not to kill any more people. This was not the ac- tions of an army caught off guard by an ‘attack’, this was an army using established protocols to attack a civilian convoy – protocols that no doubt their political and mili- tary leaders had put in place in the days running up to the Flotilla attack, when Israel stated it would stop the aid convoy at all costs. Did they factor in a few fatalities along the way to en- sure once and for all that no further humanitarian convoys would gather on the Medi- terranean? They misjudged us, and they misjudged the world. Thousands of people are readying themselves for the next convoys – by land and sea. Israel’s army has not deterred them, it has spurred them on. The difference between the civilians on board the Flotilla and the Israeli sol- diers was that this was the first time most of us had wit- nessed the taking of precious life, wanton violence and the attempt to dehumanise fellow humans. I had never seen a man die before and it has af- fected me deeply. The Israeli soldiers who we encountered did not bat an eyelid. These men in uniform, who are no doubt fathers, husbands and sons, transformed into cal- lous creatures before our eyes. In Israel, it seems, soci- ety has sanctioned killing by men and women in uniform which has led to the creation of a class of people who are engineered and indoctrinated to view every resistance as a threat to their lives, and so respond with merciless kill- ing and degradation of those who appear to threaten them, regardless of how shallow the threat. Thus, children in the Oc- cupied Territories routinely get shot for throwing stones. The nephew of a Palestin- ian friend of mine was shot in the stomach at the age of 15 for throwing a stone. He survived, but only because his twin brother dragged him away. For years afterwards, he was in and out of hospi- tal for treatment to damaged digestive organs. All this for being a ‘threat’ and throwing a stone. The killing of innocent civilians tells its own story, but as a civilised intellectual society we need to question why and how it has become possible for a so called demo- cratic ally to use as a first line of action, a two inch block of metal 9mm in diameter to kill a six foot tall man – not injure or debilitate him, but kill him. The Tirkel Commission will not ask these questions. In fact, it will not ask any of the pertinent questions of any of the key players. It will not ask the soldiers why they fired because it will not have access to the soldiers. It will not ask the civilians on board what happened because they will not be interviewed. It will not investigate the key decisions which were made by the military and political command structure, other than to question Binyamin Netanyahu. However, there is little hope in impartial ques- tioning of him by a group of his cronies. The Tirkel Commission failed before it even started, because it is not truly in- dependent and impartial and it is flawed on its basic premise. We will continue to push for an UN led independ- ent inquiry regardless of the findings of this Commission and regardless of whether our Government puts its trust in it. Turkey closed its airspace to an Israeli military flight carrying over 100 officers en-route to a tour of memo- rial site at Auchwitz, Poland. Turkish officials stated that each Israeli military flight was to be assessed on a case- by-case basis until there was some resolution between the two countries on the issue of the Gaza Flotilla, where nine Turkish citizens were killed. The move was seen as a step to demonstrate the country’s anger at Israeli aggression on board the hu- manitarian aid ship MV Mavi Marmara. Relations between the two nations since the in- cident have been strained, de- spite attemps by other nations to help patch up them up. Turkey Closes Airspace to Israeli Military Flight Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren stated in June that relations between Israel and the US had suffered a “tectonic rift”. Oren de- scribed how the crisis in dip- lomatic relations had moved beyond one that eventually passes and that the “conti- nents are drifting apart”. Thestatementcameahead of a planned visit between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Ben- jamin Netanyahu in July, at a time when Israel’s image glo- bally continues to plummet. Particularly after the deadly raid on the Gaza Flotilla. Israel-US Relations Suffer “Tectonic Rift”
  5. 5. An emergency motion submitted by Islington UNI- SON to the national confer- ence condemned the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flo- tilla while it was sailing in international waters. Islington UNISON re- peated the demand made at its conference in 2009 to end the Israeli blockade of Gaza and made note of the fact that all passengers on board were civilians, including a “Nobel Peace Prize winner, a holo- caust survivor, parliamentar- ians, activists, artists and oth- er non-combatants”. It further went on to describe the attack as “an act of piracy” and called for an “independent, international enquiry”. The motion called upon UNISON to join numerous other unions who have en- dorsed the Palestinian United Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel. Other demands included calling for an immediate end to UK arms sales to Israel, recognition of the Palestin- ian election results of 2006 and the return of all seized property to the passengers on board the flotilla. Countless moves simi- lar to this have been echoed in trade unions and councils globally. Both Ireland and Austral- ia have called for the expel- ling of Israeli diplomats after investigations revealed that Israel was responsible for the use of forged Irish and Aus- tralian passports in the killing of Hamas official Mahmoud al Mabhouh early this year. Britain expelled the most senior Mossad agent in Brit- ain after British passports were found to have been used. AQSA NEWS 05 Islington Unison Condemns Israel Attack An appeal by an inde- pendent Palestinian non- governmental human rights organisation to take the UK to court over inaction in up- holding its human rights ob- ligations has been dismissed. Al-Haq, based in the West Bank, stated that Britain had the power to prevent much of the illegal activities per- petrated by Israel such as extensive settlement building and targeting of civilians in operations such as those in Gaza. Al-Haq calls for the sus- pending of arms-related ex- ports and the EU preferential trading agreements, as well as the handing over of evidence of war crimes to the British police. Al-Haq argued that if the UK were to stand by their international obligations, the result would be a great im- provement to the humanitar- ian situation in Gaza. The appeal came approx- imately six months after the original application for a ju- dicial review to hear the case was rejected late in 2009. The West Bank based group were represented by Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) who included in their case, evidence from the UN sponsored Goldstone Report which highlighted a great number of human right violations, particularly breaches of the Geneva Con- ventions and the perpetration of War Crimes. One of the individuals present at the hearing was a representative from Friends of Al-Aqsa who commented: “The appeal was well re- ceived by the Judge in the Court of Appeal but was dismissed on the basis that the Court does not have the power to say whether Israel committed a breach in Inter- national Law nor does it have an influence on the Foreign Office’s response on these matters.” Action Against UK Government Dismissed Turkey has threatened Is- rael with severing diplomatic ties if Israel fails to either apologise for its actions, or accept an international in- vestigation into the attack on the Gaza-bound aid ship, in which nine peace activists were killed by Israeli sol- diers. The statement from Turk- ish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu came amid flar- ing tensions between the two nations, which previously shared common interests and were close allies. Following the Israeli at- tack on the Freedom Flotilla, the ambassador from Ankara was immediately withdrawn from Tel Aviv after reports surfaced that nine Turks on board had been killed. Tur- key took a number of steps including banning an Israeli military flight from travelling through its airspace and can- celling joint military exercis- es with Israel in response to the attack. However, the comments were met with surprise by some, as it seemed that there was a patching up of rela- tions marked by a meeting between Davutoglu and Is- raeli trade minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer in Brussels. The Israeli Prime Minis- ter has made it clear that no apology will be forthcom- ing, repeating the astonishing claim that its soldiers were “defending themselves”. Fur- ther to this, he stated that no compensation would be paid to the families of those killed or injured. Davutoglu’s response was that “ties will never be repaired. They are aware of our demands. If they do not want to apologise, then they should accept an internation- al investigation.” The US has been urging Israel and Turkey to resolve the quarrel, but Turkey seems to be standing firm in its de- mands. Davutoglu has stated that Turkey is not willing to wait for Israel’s response in- definitely. Calls for Israeli Diplomats to be Expelled from Ireland and Australia Turkey Threatens to Sever Israel Ties Unite, Britain’s largest union has voted unanimously in favour of a boycott of Is- raeli companies at its annual conference held in Manches- ter in June of this year. The motion called on the union to support its policy of divestment from Israeli com- panies, and described how a boycott of Israeli goods will be similar to the boycott of South African goods during the South African apartheid. The move has been seen as a hugely significant step and has been welcomed by rights groups. Britain’s Largest Union Votes Unanimously for Boycott Talks between the Euro- pean Union (EU) and Israel aimed at reaching an intel- ligence sharing agreement have avoided the issue of whether the Israeli national police headquarters will be located on occupied Palestin- ian land in East Jerusalem. Europol, the European police agency has acknowledged that the issue has not been properly addressed. The EU has never rec- ognised Israel’s 1967 occu- pation of East Jerusalem. A report published by EU dip- lomats in March 2009 criti- cised the rapid spreading of illegal settlements in East Je- rusalem, “Israel is, by practi- cal means, actively pursuing the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem.” However, as Israel is one of several countries to have entered talks on information- sharing with Europol, it will be expected to have Europol representatives stationed at the Israeli national police headquarters in occupied East Jerusalem. If this were to go ahead, it would signify a reversal of decades of EU policy and recognise Israel’s illegal annexation of East Je- rusalem. Talks Compromise EU Position on Occupied Jerusalem Major-General Doron Al- mog has been accused of sup- pressing the testimony of a commander giving evidence during the investigation over the death of Gaza peace ac- tivist Rachel Corrie. Corrie was crushed under a bulldozer in 2003 whilst trying to prevent the demo- lition of a Palestinian home. She was wearing a fluores- cent jacket and shouting through a loudspeaker to the driver of the bulldozer, but to no avail as he deliberately ran over and then reversed back over her. In a military investiga- tors report, the commander of the bulldozer was giving testimony when a colonel dispatched by Major-General Doron Almog interrupted proceedings and cut short the evidence. The report states, “At 18:12 reserve Colonel Baruch Kirhatu entered the room and informed the wit- ness that he should not con- vey anything and should not write anything and this at the order of the general of south- ern command.” Craig Corrie, the father of Rachel Corrie described the alleged interruption as “out- rageous”. He further stated, “When you see someone in that position taking those steps you not only have to be outraged, you have to ask why is he covering up, what has he done that he needs to take these steps to cover it up?” Corries parents continue to campaign for justice. Israeli General Accused of ‘Cover Up’ in Rachel Corrie Case
  6. 6. AQSA NEWS 06 Gaza Flotilla The Gaza Freedom Flotilla On this day, Israel took one further step in flouting interna- tional law – it attacked a humanitarian aid vessel sailing in in- ternational waters bound for Gaza with a convoy of aid. Israel killed 9 aid workers in the horrors that followed its storming of the MV Marmara. This was not just an attack on the civilian convoy, it was an attack on 37 countries across the world who had nationals on board. All of the men killed were Turkish nationals (one hold- ing dual Turkish-US nationality), the youngest of whom was a nineteen year old teenager. The sad truth is that those peace activists aboard the Free- dom Flotilla represented the Palestinian struggle in every way. They experienced death, injury, cruel treatment, and imprison- ment - usually reserved solely for Palestinians. In this special report, Friends of Al Aqsa looks at the peaceful humanitarian mission which ended so brutally. The flotilla was organised by The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (also known as IHH), together with the Cyprus-based organisation The Free Gaza Movement – a registered charity endorsed by well known international figures such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire. Turkish NGO IHH was established in 1992 and provides humanitarian relief in over 120 countries affected by natural disasters, poverty and conflict. They recently had a presence in Haiti following the large-scale earthquake, which left hun- dreds of thousands dead. The IHH, which owned and operated three of the six flotilla ships, including the main passenger ship MV Marmara, has also held Special Consulatative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council since 2004. Despite this, Israel began to make allegations against IHH of links with terrorist organisations soon after the attack on the flotilla, in what many believe to be an attempt to seek justifi- cation for Israeli aggression. Most or all of those killed were members or volunteers of IHH, a fact that is not surprising on a ship that was owned by IHH and which has 500 Turkish na- tionals on board (as well as over 100 other nationals including British civilians). 31st MAY 2010 THE JOURNEY OF THE GAZA FREEDOM FLOTILLA Soldiers fire at Ship before commandoes descend on upper deck A helicopter appeared overhead and began firing ammunition, before any sol- diers had descended onto the ship. This is confirmed by multiple testimonies from passengers. Approximately five min- utes into the shooting, or- ganisers raised the white flag and surrendered the ship, in the knowledge that an un- armed civilian aid ship was no match to the might of the Israeli army. However, live fire from Israeli soldiers con- tinued. Passengers gathered in the sleeping quarters of the ship where doctors were try- ing desperately to do what they could for those critically injured. Blood lined the deck of the ship and passengers re- late how cries of pain, anguish and anger could be heard. Loudspeaker announce- ments in English, Hebrew and Arabic were made, in desper- ate attempts to get treatment for the wounded that other- wise would die. At this stage, the ship was surrounded by soldiers pointing their rifles and guns in the direction of the passengers. Over half an hour later, Israeli soldiers allowed pas- sengers to carry the injured out. There were no stretchers and they were held by their arms and legs. Some testimo- nies relate that due to the lack of urgency in responding to the injured, three people died from their wounds. Passengers confined on upper deck of ship All passengers were made to go to the upper deck of the ship one by one. Each had their hands tied using plastic cable ties. One indi- vidual had his hands tied so tight, that they were losing colour. When he asked that they be loosened, an Israeli soldier tightened the cable even further causing the man to scream in pain. Passengers were searched and belongings seized. On the upper deck people were lined in rows and were made to kneel on the floor for five hours, regardless of age ormedicalcondition.Anysort of communication between passengers was forbidden. Requests to answer the call of nature were granted intermit- tently and some soiled their clothes due to the stressful situation. The peace activists were stripped of their dignity and treated inhumanely. For many of the passengers, this was the most mentally and physically straining moment. Arrival at Ashdod The ship was taken to the port of Ashdod where it ar- rived at some point on Mon- day evening. However, pas- sengers were not allowed to disembark from the ship until approximately 6am on Tues- day 1st June. By this time, passengers had had little or nothing to eat or drink and had spent the last twenty-four hours under the loaded bar- rels of IDF guns. IHH and The Free Gaza Movement All ships convened near Cyprus. On board were film- makers, journalists, activists, politicians and authors - in- cluding Swedish best-selling crime author, Henning Man- kell. The cargo consisted of 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid including, food, medicine, wheelchairs, books, toys, electricity generators, as well as building materials such as cement. Israel banned build- ing materials from entering Gaza forcing people to live in makeshift shelters for months and years after Israel bombed and destroyed their homes. The Organisers checked all cargo and passengers who boarded the ships. There were no weapons or anything similar taken on board any of the ships. Audrey Bomse of The Free Gaza Movement said in a statement to the BBC: “I can tell you that there were no firearms - all the boats were carefully inspected by the government before they left the port of departure.” The 6-ship flotilla sailed its way from Cyprus towards the Gaza Strip. Atapproximately9.30pm, one of the crew members in- formed a passenger on board that four warships had been detected on the ship’s radar. By 10pm, three Israeli war- ships were visible by their lights. At this stage, helicop- ters or drones above could be heard though they were not visible. Organisers asked that all passengers put on life jackets and remain indoors. The blocking of telecom- munications began around this time also. Passengers stated that the GPS signal was lost at around 10pm, fol- lowed by the satellite phone signal, and finally feeds from the boats. As the ships were about 80 miles off the coast of Gaza in international waters, Israel would be in contravention of international law if it attacked the ship and so the crew con- cluded that any confrontation would occur much later, they hoped in daylight. The ships were not sailing towards Gaza at this stage, they were sailing parallel to Gaza. The Attack on the Freedom Flotilla At approximately 2am lo- cal time, organisers informed one of the journalists on board that they intended to re-route the ships so that they sailed as far away as possible from Israel and remained clearly in international waters. A con- frontation with the military, particularly by night was nei- ther safe nor advisable. The early morning Fajr prayer was announced at 4am. Some passengers were sleeping. Others congregated on the second deck where the prayer was to be performed. Upon completion of the first unit of prayer, dozens of speedboats surrounded the ship, each carrying 15-20 armed masked soldiers. Tear gas, stun grenades and sound bombs were fired at the ship. The prayer was rapidly com- pleted. The attack was unan- nounced and therefore caused chaos on board the ship. Women and elderly people were rushed down to the low- er deck whilst others made futile attempts to defend the ship. A passenger reports in his eyewitness testimony that he saw people throwing “to- matoes”, “broomsticks” and “shoes” whilst others tried to deter the speedboats by “banging the banisters of the ship”. The speedboats retreated. Passengers did not know what to expect next. 6 Ships: Challenger 1 (US flag) MS Eleftheri Mesogeios and Sfendoni (Greek flag) MV Marmara (Turkish, flying Comoros Flag) Gazze (Turkish flag) Defne Y (Turkish, flying Kiritabi flag) In total there were over 600 passengers from 37 countries aboard the flotilla. The main passenger ship was the MV Mar- mara where the attack took place, even thought this ship ex- pected to be the safest, as the number of civilians on board was expected to ensure that Israel did not attack it. Monday 31st May Saturday 29th May Sunday 30th May
  7. 7. AQSA NEWS 07 Detention in an Israeli Prison Inprison,passengerswere finally allowed to shower and change into prison clothing. They also received their first meal in 48 hours. Passen- gers were held overnight and the following morning were taken to the airport. This journey should have taken approximately one hour but they were kept on board the bus for 8 hours, again with no access to toilets and no food. I am shocked by reports of killing of people in boats carrying supply to Gaza. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon I unequivocally condemn what appears to be disproportionate use of force, resulting in the killing and wounding of so many people attempting to bring much-needed aid to the people of Gaza, who have now been enduring a blockade for more than three years. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay Israeli forces appear clearly to have used excessive force, Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa A prompt, credible, and impartial investigation is absolutely essential to determine whether the lethal force used by Israeli commandos was necessary to protect lives and whether it could have been avoided... Given Israel’s poor track record of investigating unlawful killings by its armed forces, the in- ternational community should closely monitor any inquiry to ensure it meets basic international standards and that any wrongdoers are brought to justice. Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch The EU condemns the use of violence that has produced a high number of victims among the members of the flotilla and demands an immediate, full and impartial inquiry into the events and the circumstances surrounding them. Catherine Ashton EU Foreign Policy chief, on behalf of the EU Both the Spanish government and in its role as current president of the EU wishes to express its utmost condemnation of this action. Spanish Secretary of State for the EU Diego Lopez Garrido I completely condemn this deadly attack on the humanitarian aid convoy. This attack is a serious infringement of the principles of international law. Caroline Lucas, Green Party leader Hero’s Welcome in Istanbul When the passengers fi- nally arrived in Turkey, it was to a hero’s welcome. De- spite being 3am, the streets were lined with thousands of well-wishers who were wel- coming the Gaza Freedom Flotilla passengers back. This marked the end of the physical ordeal. But the mental and psychological trauma suffered by the peace activists aboard the flotilla will not be forgotten easily. VIOLENCE, INJURIES, DEATHS Dozens of peace activists aboard were injured and sub- sequently hospitalised. The funerals of those killed were held on Thursday 3rd of June and attended by huge crowds of people. Ismail Patel, Chair of Friends of Al Aqsa who was aboard the flotilla stated in a press conference on his return that the number of shots fired equated to one activist being shot every minute during the confrontation. This statistic alone reflects the brutal na- ture of the attack. In a report published by the Guardian newspaper, an Algerian activist aboard the ship accused Israel of taking a one-year-old child hostage in order to prevent the flotilla going any further. She states, “They point a gun to his head in front of his Turkish parents to force the captain of our ship to stop sailing.” During my whole time in Israel, no-one from the British Consulate came to see me. The entire experience was shocking and everything I witnessed will be a scar in my memory for years to come. Ismail Patel, peace activist aboard MV Marmara The Israeli Response In the immediate after- math of the attack, in what can only be described as ‘damage control’, Israel re- leased video footage of the peace activists on board beat- ing Israeli soldiers with so- called ‘weapons’. The mere notion that unarmed civilians on board an aid ship could be branded as terrorists whilst the soldiers of a highly devel- oped army who descended upon the ship firing live am- munition be called the vic- tims was thought by many to be preposterous. Nevertheless, spokesper- sons representing Israel were dispatched to conduct media interviews with countless news channels in an attempt to justify the Israeli attack on the ship. In the first 24 hours after the attack, this was the only version of events that the world heard as Israel pre- vented any of the aid workers from contacting the outside world. When testimonies even- tually emerged from peace activists, they consistently told a very different story. Soldiers who were disarmed of their weapons were treated by a doctor on board the ship. Live fire was used against the ship from helicopters in the air, and there were no weap- ons on board the ship. Israel showed images of what they called weapons, including knives used in the kitchens on the ship and also for cutting ropes; and axes which are usually found at emergency alarm points. Not weapons, but rather, the usual fittings on a large ship. There was live ammunition flying around and I could hear the sounds of the bullets flying and the whirr of the helicopter blades as people were dropped down onto the roof. What I saw was guns being used by the Israelis on unarmed civilians. I saw a bullet wound in someone’s head. It was very clear it was live ammunition. Sarah Colborne, director of campaigns and operations at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign Response to the Attack “ “ “ “ Tuesday 1st June Upon arriving at the port of Ashdod, Israeli army of- ficers and police personal began clapping and cheering as soldiers took trophy pho- tographs. Passengers were searched again upon leaving the ship. Shoes were checked and socks were taken off. Passengers were told that their belongings would be given back – this never hap- pened. They were also asked to sign a declaration written in Hebrew with no transla- tion. Those who refused were threatened with longer im- prisonment. Wednesday 2nd June “ “ Legal Action against Israel Many of the British na- tionals who were on board the flotilla have met with the For- eign Office demanding that all possessions which were illegally seized by the Israe- li’s are returned to the own- ers. Mobile phones, clothing, money and the recording equipment of journalists on board was taken and not re- turned. This equipment will contain essential evidence which is necessary if a case is to be brought against the Is- raeli military command. Activists are also calling for an independent inquiry to take place as the internal inquiry conducted by Israel is not credible, is not inde- pendent and has serious limi- tations. One such example is that the soldiers involved in the operation will not be interviewed as part of the investigation, nor will the passengers be providing tes- timonies.
  8. 8. AQSA NEWS 08 Update: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions “Three people have been killed on board a ship en- route to Palestine, carrying Jewish immigrants, some of them survivors of the Holo- caust. The ship, called ‘Exo- dus’, was boarded in interna- tional waters by the British Royal Navy who used force against passengers resisting the boarding. Dozens have been reported to be injured.” This may well have been the top story circulating through newspapers and ra- dio channels across Britain on July 18 1947. This news item bears striking similarities to the recent Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza which resulted in the deaths of nine peace activists. However, the difference between the ship of 1947 and the flotilla of 2010 could not be greater. It was 1947, the year be- fore 78% of historic Palestine was seized and hundreds of thousand of Palestinians ex- pelled from their homes to make way for the creation of the State of Israel. The Brit- ish had a Mandate to rule over Palestine from the First World War. Whilst Jews had for some time been making ‘aliyah’ or the migration to the land of Palestine, it was at this point that the number of immigrants to the land was rapidly increasing, particu- larly in the wake of Jewish persecution in Europe and the Holocaust. The British were now faced with the problem of keeping faith with theArab majority in Palestine, and the promise made to the Zionist movement for the establish- ment of a national homeland for the Jewish people in Pal- estine. Jewish immigration was controlled by the British. However, many continued to travel illegally and Britain therefore imposed a naval blockade in order to halt il- legal immigration. Armed Zionist groups organised boats to counter this. It was in this backdrop that the Exo- dus ship made its journey to Palestine. The ship was boarded ap- proximately 40km from the shore, in international waters where the British Royal Navy had no jurisdiction. Passen- gers resisted the boarding and this resulted in clashes between soldiers and those on board. As a result, three were killed and many others injured. Following the attack, passengers were deported to Germany. The world was outraged, and rightly so. Golda Meir, who was later to become the Israeli Prime Minister, declared fol- lowing the affair: “To Britain we must say: it is a great illusion to believe us weak. Let Great Britain with her mighty fleet and her many guns and planes know that this people is not weak, and that its strength will stand it in good stead.” Many would argue that today, we simply need to re- place word ‘Britain’ with ‘Is- rael’ and we have a reflection of the exact same scenario. In History FoA Launches Boycott Israeli Dates Campaign 2010 In the run up to the holy month of Ramadhan, during which millions of Muslims across Europe break their daily fasts by eating dates, Friends of Al-Aqsa launched its annual ‘Boycott Israeli Dates’ campaign in London on July 15th. Supported by a dozen organisations including the PSC, and thousands of indi- viduals across the country, the campaign hopes to build on last year’s success. Shamiul Joarder, who is heading up the campaign for Friends of Al-Aqsa, stated: “Israeli settlers in illegal set- tlements make profits of mil- lions of dollars from the sale of their dates in Europe. We have to remember that these dates are produced on stolen land, land from which Pal- estinians have been evicted, yet made to work on for pal- try wages. Settlements in the Jordan valley neighbour Pal- estinian communities living in abject poverty. We want people to stop supporting this injustice, and by boycotting Israeli dates, they will be do- ing their bit.” While the boycott grows, people are also being encour- aged to purchase Fair Trade Palestinian dates, which are often very expensive due to Israeli restrictions on the export of Palestinian pro- duce. Despite the added cost, Zaytoun, which imports and supplies Palestinian produce in Britain, has stated that demand is now higher than ever. For more information on the availability of Palestin- ian produce including olive oil, dates, almonds, and soap, please visit www.zaytoun. org. Churches Speak Out TheUKMethodistChurch has voted unanimously in fa- vour of a boycott on Israeli produce from the West Bank, in protest against the illegal settlements in the area. The church extended the call for boycott to Methodists across the UK at its annual confer- ence. The motion was put for- ward in response to calls from the World Council of Churches, Palestinian civil society and a growing number of organisations in Israel and globally. In 2009, the church set up a working group seeking an end to the occupation of the Palestinian territories and an end to the blockade of Gaza and urged that Israel comply with international law. A 54- page report was produced as a result by the working group entitled “Justice for Palestine and Israel”. The church has been sub- ject to criticism from pro- Israeli groups for the brave stance taken. In one instance the church was accused of jumping on a “fashionable bandwagon” for having fa- voured boycott action, to which Anna Drew, head of media relations replied “We are the first church... to do this... so we are not being fashionable.” The church’s secretary for external relationships, Christine Elliot, further stat- ed that the decision “has not been taken lightly, but after months of research, care- ful consideration and finally, today’s debate at the confer- ence.” The Northern Illinois Conference (NIC) of the United Methodist Church (UMC) at its annual confer- ence in June voted to divest all its holdings in three in- ternational corporations that support the occupation of Palestine. In doing so NIC have re- iterated calls of the UMC in the Book of Discipline which states that one should “avoid investments that appear like- ly, directly or indirectly, to support violation of human rights.” The affected corpora- tions who will lose out on investments from the UMC will be Caterpillar (CAT), General Electric (GE) and Terex (TX). The companies are just three such companies amongst some 20 others that are being targeted by UMC conferences across the US due to their presence on oc- cupied land, their involve- ment with illegal settlements, checkpoints and the separa- tion wall, or their support of activities conducted by the Israeli Military in the occu- pied territories. The NIC is to send the list of 20 companies to ap- proximately 400 churches in Northern Illinois encourag- ing them to divest from any of the companies listed. Connie Baker, from End the Occupation Task Force of the Board of Church and Society which brought forth the resolution, stated: “We are resolute in our support of peace for both Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land and the rights of each to co- exist according to the princi- ples set forth in the Geneva Conventions. It is a small step, but an important one.” City Councils & Trade Unions Speak Out The Scottish Trades Un- ion Congress (STUC), an umbrella body for Scotland’s trade unions, voted in April to reaffirm its support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign against Israel. The vote, taken at the an- nual conference in Dundee was in response to Israel’s “failure to comply with in- ternational laws and agreed principles of human rights.” STUC stated “Following extensive debate and delib- eration, the Scottish trade un- ions have endorsed a report recommending STUC sup- port a boycott and disinvest from Israeli companies, call for sanctions against Israel, and encourage positive in- vestments in the occupied Palestinian territories.” STUC General-Secretary Grahame Smith clarified that the decision was not simple a “knee-jerk reaction”, but rather a carefully considered decision made over a two year period. After the con- ference, Smith added “The STUC is deeply concerned at the daily violations of human rights experienced by Pales- tinian people.” A visible change in the number of organisations sup- porting the calls for BDS has occurred over the last few months. Following an extensive debate, Bristol City Council carried a motion condemn- ing Israeli aggression and its blockade of Gaza at a full council meeting in June. The council expressed its support for sanctions to be imposed on Israel until it abides by international law and ceases to violate human rights, in addition to support for an immediate suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agree- ment on the grounds of hu- man rights. This move was being ech- oed by other city and county councils across Britain, in what many believe is a reflec- tion of the true feelings on the ground. Swansea City Council made an historic decision in July this year when it decided to bar any future contracts with international trading company Veolia, due to its illegal activities in the West Bank. It will join other cities who have already taken simi- lar action – including Dublin, Stockholm and Melbourne. This is the first time that a UK council has passed such a resolution though others are already taking steps to follow suit. Swansea City Council Bristol City Council Condemns Israeli Action Against Gaza Flotilla Scotland’s Trade Unions Reaffirm BDS Support US Methodist Church Votes for Divestment UK Methodist Church Votes for Boycott Check the Label Campaign Logo Boycott Israeli Dates
  9. 9. AQSA NEWS Comments 09 Letters - To The Editor, The Tirkel Commission Failed Before it Began By Shafik Firoz It is an uncanny coinci- dence that the same week the Saville Inquiry found Brit- ish soldiers had unjustifiably killed thirteen innocent peo- ple in Northern Ireland, Israel announced its own investiga- tion into the deaths of nine activists on board an aid flo- tilla. It took nearly four dec- ades for the truth of Bloody Sunday to be established but Israel’s Tirkel Commission is more likely to find prece- dent in earlier reports, which whitewashed the actions of British soldiers. The line peddled by the British government in the aftermath of the massacre is eerily similar to the one used by the Israeli PR machine today. In Derry in 1972, the IRA infiltrated a civil rights march and took aim at British soldiers. In May on the Mavi Marmara, violent activists with links to Al Qaeda and Hamas boarded an aid ship intent on confronting Israeli troops. In both, the perpetra- tors claimed that the suppos- edly benign exterior of a rally and aid convoy masked a sin- ister intent, one that required the use of deadly force. The Widgery report, com- missioned in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday accepted British troops had acted reck- lessly, while placing blame entirely on the organisers of the march. The Tirkel Com- mission has little hope of reaching a conclusion that is generous in its condemnation of Israeli soldiers. It is telling that Israel has rejected calls for an independ- ent investigation conducted by the United Nations. The Goldstone Report warned the Israelis of the condemnation it risks in allowing impartial scrutiny of its actions; Tirkel is intended to prevent a re- peat. The inquest has all the ingredients of a farce and the list of requisites would work well if it had been written as satire. The stringent restric- tions placed were so farcical the former Israeli Supreme Court Judge Tirkel placed in charge of the investigation threatened to quit before he even began unless he was given wider powers. The Israelis had initially prevented Tirkel from asking soldiers who participated in the attack to give testimony. Instead they offered summa- rised statements collated by their military. They relented eventually; perhaps comfort- ed by the fact he still won’t be allowed to investigate the chain of command responsi- ble for the attack. In any case Tirkel has stated on Israeli Army Radio that he is no fan of dismissing those responsi- ble for failures. Interrogating those who committed the killings forms just one aspect of a thorough investigation. For an accurate picture, eye-witness reports from passengers on board the flotilla must also be taken in to account. These are likely to be ignored, as will all the recordings and photographs taken by passengers, which were later confiscated by Is- raeli authorities. The report aims to give a chain of events based al- most entirely on the narrative given by the people accused of misconduct. Anything else and the Israelis would claim it was biased. The compo- sition of the investigating committee is also designed to prevent such ‘bias’. It does not include any non-Israelis and of the two international observers; one is an ardent supporter of Israel. David Trimble, the former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party is a founding member of the Friends of Israel Initiative, a Zionist advocacy group which proudly states on its website that ‘Israel’s fight is our fight’. Those familiar with the conflict in Northern Ireland will be acutely aware of the irony in appointing Trimble as an observer in an investiga- tion into a disputed massacre. They will remember that he had opposed the Saville In- quiry when it was announced in 1998, saying ‘opening old wounds would do more harm than good’. How the Israeli govern- ment can expect the world to attach any credibility to this sham is mind-boggling. Even the Israeli left-leaning news- paper Haaretz has demanded that Tirkel return his mandate to the Israeli Prime Minister and insist on an inquiry with power to investigate freely. Calling the Tirkel Commis- sion a plot to conceal the truth would be charitable to the Is- raelis, rather this is a brazen attempt to mislead interna- tional and internal opinion. The Israeli Defence Force’s own investigation placed the blame entirely on the activ- ists, Tirkel is unlikely to de- viate from that script. Shafik Firoz is a freelance journalist. The killing of a Palestin- ian mother of five, Ne’ema Abu Said, by Israeli artillery in the Gaza Strip brings to 23 the number of Palestin- ians killed by Israel in what is called its“buffer zone”in the past few months. Ne’ema is yet another dead Palestin- ian, a phenomenon which is clearly not newsworthy any more; as far as I am aware, only the Guardian reported this incident in the UK. Israel claims to have withdrawn from Gaza in 2005 and yet it still controls all of the territory’s air space, access to its port and all of the land crossings (with Egyptian assistance). It has also created this “buffer zone”, another example of the de facto annexation of Palestinian land. Claims that Israel is somehow doing the Palestinians of Gaza a favour by “easing” the blockade of Gaza are ridiculous. If some- one is acting illegally (and the blockade is a collective punishment of a civilian population, an act forbid- den by international law) and promises to behave slightly less illegally, the ac- tion is still illegal. The UN found credible evidence last year that the Israelis were guilty of “war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity” during their assault on Gaza. Un- like the case being pursued by the International Court against the Sudanese presi- dent, nobody is even daring to issue warrants for the ar- rest of the Israelis responsi- ble for those crimes. On the contrary, the current British Prime Minister still wants to change the law to allow those so accused to enter Britain freely. That double standards are being applied when Israel is involved is clear. The question is, why? Can anyone explain why Israel is able to act illegally with apparent impunity? Unless and until clear an- swers are provided, Israel’s founding ideology, Zionism, will remain a threat to world peace. Yours, Ibrahim Hewitt Senior Editor, Middle East Monitor I have just finished read- ing my first copy of Aqsa News, I cannot emphasise enough the great work you are doing. Unfortunately many of us will only remem- ber Palestine when there is some international incident, and forget the injustices that are happening everyday. I liked the fact that the newsletter discussed dif- ferent ways to get involved -particularly lobbying our MPs. Voting is an issue that can polarise people, but if only the Muslim commu- nity considered working together to put those peo- ple in power who would be sympathetic to the Palestine issue, it may make a differ- ence. If we are sincere then we need to be working on many many different levels to help the situation, the least of which is being fully informed of the situation (which you are helping with) and making du’aa. Yours, Dr. Omar Araeem Whitechapel, London On reading the article‘An Israeli Experiment in Human Despair’, specifically on the health conditions in Gaza, I felt compelled to write. The collective punish- ment of Palestinians in Gaza is a many-pronged fork of abuse. Israel’s prolonged blockade has increased mal- nutrition in the entire popu- lation. It is obvious, with reference to studies and the demographic, that child malnutrition is most mani- fest. Anaemia is widespread and over a third of pregnant mothers also suffer from it. With food remaining in- adequate and medicines still unobtainable, those who are complicit in the block- ade need to be brought to account as well as Israel – namely, the US and Egypt. Egypt’s construction of an underground wall to block the underground tunnels is appalling. The fact is that the Gazans have to get des- perately needed supplies from somewhere. Z. Chaudhary Student, Leicester Aqsa News has been one of the foundations of my knowledge about the plight of the Palestinian people, and when I heard that read- ers’letter would be included, I had to write. As a Journalism student, I see the benefits of media that are not linked to the mainstream. Aqsa News is able to freely highlight the truth about the occupation. I paid more attention to the many articles in the last edition to help prepare my- self for my trip to Palestine. Hopefully I will return with my own stories to tell. Keep up the good work. Yours, S Sader Writing from Jerusalem. Letters to the Editor can be sent to: “ “ “ “ The UN found credible evidence last year that the Israeli’s were guilty of“war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity” during their assault on Gaza. Egypt’s construction of the underground wall to block the underground tunnels is appalling. The fact is that the Gazans have to get desperately needed supplies from somewhere. “ “ “ “ “ “Claims that Israel is somehow doing the Palestinians a favour by“easing”the blockade of Gaza are ridiculous. It is obvious, with reference to studies and the demographic, that child malnutrition is most manifest. ...working together to put those people in power who would be sympathetic to the Palestine issue, it may make a difference.
  10. 10. AQSA NEWS 10 Friends of Al-Aqsa Message Since the last edition of Aqsa News was published, a lot has changed. For the first time, Israel’s actions drew unified condemnation from the international community. Its crimes on board the Gaza Freedom Flotilla will not be forgotten, least of all by me and my fellow passengers on board the MV Marmara. The struggle to bring Isra- el to justice for its crimes has been going on for decades. The foreseeable future will no doubt see a continuation of that struggle, especially as our government has promised a change in the application of Universal Jurisdiction in Britain to allow Israeli poli- ticians and generals accused of War Crimes to continue to visit our country. The announcement of the change in law has been dis- appointing to say the least. We had hoped to at least have some open debate about it, but this appears to have been bi-passed. We had hoped that we could rely on the Lib- eral Democrats to play a role which would ensure that Brit- ain did not become a safe ha- ven for suspected war crimi- nals, but once again, we have been proven wrong. However, what is clear is that millions of voices are now unified across the world in denouncing Israel’s human rights abuses, including jour- nalists, lawyers, presidents and prime ministers. Israel is going to find it increas- ingly difficult to white wash its crimes, and I hope, in the coming months and years, Israeli leaders will finally be brought before the Interna- tional Criminal court to an- swer for their crimes against the Palestinians, against in- ternational law, and against me and my fellow passengers on board the MV Marmara. Ismail Patel Update from Friends of Al-Aqsa Branches “How plainly will they see and hear, the Day that they will appear before Us! But the unjust today are in error manifest!” Surah 19, Verse 38 Bradford Walsall organises 2nd National Peace Cup The 2nd National Friends of Al Aqsa Peace Cup took place on Sunday 6th June at Goals in Darlaston, Walsall. The aim of the tournament was to raise awareness of the situation in Palestine to a wider audience. The 5-a-side football tour- nament organised by the Walsall branch attracted 31 teams- 20 teams up from last year! The teams, which came from as far a field as London and Manchester, were each able to have a squad of 8 players. Each team paid £65 to enter the competition and the participants were from a cross-section of the commu- nity with many nationalities represented. At 11.30am the draw was made to decide team groups. The tournament mirrored the World Cup format with eight groups of 4 teams each. The top two teams from each group went through to the knockout stages. All of the matches were officiated by fully qualified FA registered referees. The final was con- tested by two local teams: Pleck FC from Walsall vs Park Lane from Darlaston, with Park Lane eventually running out as 2-0 winners. FoA Walsall would like to thank all of the teams, spon- sors, volunteers and specta- tors for their efforts in mak- ing the tournament such as success. The tournament was sponsored by Dixy Chicken Walsall, F.B Supermarket, K2 Car Hire, MiJ Perform- ance, Regency Claims, DPI Solutions, iWill Solicitors, Kingdom Appliances, Locks & Fittings, Mogo Grill and Zi-Clone Multimedia. The Bradford branch have been busy campaigning in recent weeks over the Israeli attack on the Gaza bound Freedom Flotilla. Moham- med Bhaiyaat from Bradford was on board the flotilla and the branch were doing what they could to support him. A demonstration in protest of what occurred on board the flotilla was held on June 5th and was attended by some 1,500 people. Further to this, following the safe return of the peace ac- tivists, the branch organised an event, which included an eyewitness accounts from the flotilla. The father of Mo- hammed Bhaiyaat also spoke of the ordeal that the family went through and David Ward MP attended and expressed his support. More recently, the branch has also begun work in prepara- tion for the annual boycott Is- raeli dates campaign – Check the Label. The volunteers from the Glasgow branch have been working hard on a range of projects within the last cou- ple of months - from educa- tion within the community, to vigils and lobbying. Other activities include lob- bying local government to cease trade with Israel and demonstrating against the sale of Israeli produce in su- permarkets. One of the major successes was hosting a Palestinian man named Salim who spoke about his experiences of hav- ing his home in the West Bank surrounded and then demolished by Israeli sol- diers. Salim’s house has been demolished four times. Each time, they have had to rebuild it. £2000 was raised in order to help Salim and his fam- ily rebuild their home once more. The London branch was over- whelmed with support from the community following the Israeli attack on the Free- dom Flotilla on the morning of May 31st. A demonstra- tion outside Downing Street was called on the same day, in protest of the attack. This was followed by further dem- onstrations outside the Israeli Embassy and Downing Street on June 1st and June 5th. The role of the London branch has also been central to the media coverage, especially follow- ing the flotilla attack. Shamiul Joarder, head of Public Affairs visited Jeru- salem in June, and met with Al-Kaf, who are responsible for taking care of Masjid Al-Aqsa. Other activities have included involvement in a variety of conferences including that of the Palestine Solidarity Cam- paign (PSC) and competing in and reaching the final of the Gaza Cup. The London branch has been responsible for the launch of the Check the Label boycott Israeli dates campaign which was launched just weeks ago in London. Watch out for more information on the campaign. Anyone wishing to join the branch and offer any support they can, can contact us by emailing Glasgow London Walsall Volunteers from the Liver- pool branch have already started work on the Check the Label boycott Israeli dates Campaign in prepara- tion for Ramadan. Over 30 posters have been distributed and displayed in local shops. A number of shops stock- ing Israeli dates that were approached last year, have now decided not to stock the dates. This was clear when the branch found that from 35 shops, only 1 stocked Israeli dates. Volunteers are ecstatic that the message is getting through. Other activities have included fundraising for Medical Aid and Interpal totalling £8110! Liverpool
  11. 11. AQSA NEWS 11 Leaflets A set of 20 information leaflets: Books Complete set of information leaflets on Palestine Issues Free Qty:....... A. Forty Ahadith Concerning Masjid Al-Aqsa Free Qty:....... B. Dome of the Rock Free Qty:....... C. Palestine Beginner’s Guide £9.95 Qty:....... D. Madina to Jerusalem £5.95 Qty:....... E. A History of Palestinian Resistance £5.95 Qty:....... F. Virtues of Jerusalem £5.95 Qty:....... OFFER: All 4 books for £20.00 Qty:....... G. Baking Aid for Palestine £4.50 Qty:....... MERCHANDISE Children’s Books History of Masjid Al-Aqsa Abu Huzayfa for children NEW Name:.................................................................................................................................................................................... Address:............................................................................................................................................................................... ..............................................................................................................................Postcode:.............................................. Tel:...............................................................Email:......................................................................................................... (Please add 10% of the total cost to cover postage expenses) I enclose a cheque for £............... (make all cheques payable to ‘Friends of Al-Aqsa’) Friends of Al-Aqsa, P.O Box 5127, Leicester, LE2 0WU 0116 212 5441 | | SCARF (SILK) Colouring Book £2.00 Qty:....... Activity Book £3.00 Qty:....... History of Masjid Al-Aqsa £4.99 Qty:....... SCARF (WOOL) SCARF (SQUARE) FLAG LAPEL BADGE PALESTINE FLAG WRISTBAND MOSQUE BADGE RIBBON FLAG FOOTBALL T-SHIRT AL-AQSA KEYRING FOOTBALL T-SHIRT AL-AQSA MOSQUE MODEL OLIVE OIL CARRIER BAGS BRACELET DOME OF THE ROCK MODEL CAR HANGER SCARF (LONG) £3.00 Qty:....... £5.00 Qty:....... £3.00 Qty:....... £5.00 Qty:....... £1.00 Qty:....... £1.50 Qty:....... £3.00 Qty:....... £10.00 Qty:....... XL (46 X 31) ..... L (42 X 30) ..... M (40 X 29) ..... S (38 X 28) ..... XS (34 X 25) ..... XXS (31 x 21) ..... DATES £1.50 Qty:....... Free Qty:....... £1.00 Qty:....... £5.00 Qty:....... XL (44 X 30) ..... L (42 X 29) ..... M (40 X 28) ..... S (38 X 27) ..... £5.00 Qty:....... £3.50 Qty:....... £1.99 Qty:.......£2.75 Qty:.......£6.50 Qty:....... L Size: 300x210x150mm Gross Weight: 7.8kg £99.00 Qty:....... M Size: 165x120x82mm Gross Weight: 1.6kg £39.00 Qty:....... S Size: 120x85x60mm Gross Weight: 800g £19.00 Qty:....... L Size: 240x240x162mm Gross Weight: 7.2kg £99.00 Qty:....... M Size: 140x140x90mm Gross Weight: 1.7kg £39.00 Qty:....... S Size: 95x95x62mm Gross Weight: 660g £19.00 Qty:....... (1,000 BAGS) £15.00 Qty:....... Proceeds from the sale of this book goes to Friends of Al-Aqsa Foreword by Friends of Al-Aqsa BAKING AID A B C D E F G SET OF 8 POSTERS (A3) £6.00 Qty:.......
  12. 12. AQSA NEWS 12 Fun & Games COMPETITION WIN!£20ARGOSVOUCHER! The Story of Yusuf (Prophet Joseph peace be upon him) Long ago there was a blessed prophet call Yaqub (Jacob as) who had a son called Yusuf. Yusuf (as) was very beautiful and was his father’s favourite son because of his righteousness. One night Yusuf (as) had a strange dream where he saw the sun, the moon and eleven stars bowing down to him! Yusuf (as) told his father Yaqub (as) about this dream. Yaqub (as) understood that Allah had planned something special for Yusuf (as). Yaqub (as) told Yusuf (as) not to tell his brothers the dream as they would become jealous, however the brothers found out about it and became angry. One day they took Yusuf (as) out with them to play and when no one was looking, they threw him into a well. When they went back to their house, they lied to their father Yaqub (as) and said that a wolf had eaten Yusuf (as) after they left him to watch over their belongings. Yaqub (as) did not believe their story, but decided to be patient and to trust in Allah’s help. Allah listened to Yusuf and Yaqub (as)‘s prayers and Yusuf (as) was found in the well and taken to Eqypt where he lived in the house of a rich man who cared for him. After many trials and tests which Yusuf (as) faced in his life, he finally became the adviser to the King and was very powerful. Many years later, he was finally reunited with his father. Instead of blaming his brothers for what they had done to him and making them feel ashamed, he told them that they were free of blame, and hoped that Allah would forgive them. The story of Yusuf (as) is an inspiration to us as it shows how pious, righteous and patient people are looked after by Allah (swt). Send your answers with your name, age and address to: Friends of Al-Aqsa, PO Box 5127, Leicester, LE2 0WU. You can also email us your answers on but please put ‘competition’ as the subject heading. Deadline for both competitions is 31st of May 2010. Good luck inshallah! Storytime The following wordsearch is based on the story of Joseph (as) WORDS Blessed Dream Forgiveness Jealousy Moon Stars Well Yaqub Yusuf Prize Winners The winners from the quizzes in the last edition of the newspaper are: Raeesah Seedat and Elwad Saeed Congratulations! You should have now received your prizes. Friends of Al Aqsa Annual Schools Competition Thank you to all of you who took part in this year’s competition. Our panel of judges had a very difficult decision to make, but we are proud to an- nounce that the winners of the Annual Schools Competition 2010 are: Key Stage 2: Ruwayda Abubaker of Masjid Quba Key Stage 3: Zaid Kotwal of Ashrafia Mosque Unfortunately, our judges were not able to award a third prize for the Key Stage 4 category as there were insufficient entries. The judges decisions are final. Acrostic Age 13 to 18 years old Use the clues below to fill in the boxes. Then rearrange the shaded boxes to make a new word! Clue for your new word: A famous holy city. 1. To separate a group of people according to race, religion or colour 2. To abstain from buying or using 3. One of the faiths whose people are classed as the people of the book 4. Second largest religion in the world 5. A state created in 1948 which borders the Mediterranean and Egypt 6. This religion uses the star of David as its religious symbol 7. Term of control of a territory by foreign military forces 8. English equivalent of Arabic word - Philistine 9. A person who flees for safety to a foreign country 10. A political ideology founded by Theodor Herzl Wordsearch 12 years old or under?
  13. 13. AQSA NEWS 13 Crossword 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 DOWN 1. Formal statement of policy by British government 1917 (7, 11) 2. United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (5) 3. Prejudice against Jews or Judaism (4, 8) 5. Caliph Abdul Ibn Marwan initiated this building (4, 2, 3, 4) 6. Current prime minister of israel (8, 9) 7. Israeli intelligence service (6) 9. Founder of Zionism (7, 5) ACROSS 4. Uprising (Arabic) (8) 8. The standards in international law for humanitarian treatment of the victims of war are found in these (6, 10) 10. A practice of separating or segregat- ing groups. (9) 11. City in West Bank ‘House of Bread’ (9) 12. To abstain from buying or using (7) Sudoku Can you make each column, each row and each of the nine sub-grids that make up this puzzle contain the num- bers 1 to 9? Try your luck – but don’t pull your hair out! How often do we complain after reading an article, watching a television pro- gramme or the news that the story portrayed is biased, one sided and generally unfair? The real question however is how often do we do some- thing about it? It is important to remember that unless you take posi- tive action – nothing will be done! The media plays an important role in society and goes a long way in influenc- ing the public opinion on Pal- estine. Writing to newspapers and broadcasting companies is a good way to ensure that your views are taken into ac- count. However the essential points to remember in any letter is to BE POLITE and to argue your opinion factually and calmly to be more effective. Make sure its not all nega- tive! Don’t always complain as it is just as important to highlight the positive aspects of the media as the negative, so write some positive emails too. Media Monitoring How to Write: Letters to be Published 1. Accuracy Ensure that your information is correct. Where possible, support your arguments factually. 2. Timing The speedier the response, the more chance it will get published. For example, with daily broadsheets, unless letters are received by mid-morning on the day of publishing, it is unlikely that they will be printed 3. Brief Remember, the shorter the better, try and focus your letter on one major point and keep it to one simple paragraph of no more than 7 lines in size 12 Times New Roman font. 4. Clear All letters must make sense. Also remember that whilst you may know a great deal about a subject, maybe not all the newspaper readers will so include brief and succinct explanations where necessary. Punctuate your letter properly and use correct grammar. 5. Personal Often letters are more likely to be published if they contain personal knowledge or experience. 6. Constructive Remember to praise coverage that you appreciate as well as criticise or correct that which you dislike. 7. Polite Newspapers will not publish letters if they are offensive. Be polite. “ “ The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses. Malcolm X An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. Martin Luther King Jr “ “
  14. 14. AQSA NEWS 14 Please return the completed form to Friends of Al-Aqsa, P.O Box 5127, Leicester, LE2 0WU 0116 212 5441 | | THIS RAMADHAN BECOME A MEMBER JOIN FRIENDS OF AL-AQSA Become a member of FoA to support us in our efforts to bring a just and lasting peace to the Middle East. Just £10 a year helps us to keep working on behalf of the Palestinian people and their struggle for freedom. PERSONAL DETAILS Name: ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Address: .................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. ............................................................................................................................................................................. Postcode: .................................................................. Tel: .................................................................................................... Email: ........................................................................................................................................... ( Would you like to be added to our mailing list? Yes [ ] No [ ] ) BANK DETAILS Name of Account Holder: ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Account Number: ................................................................................................................ Sort Code: ............................................................................................... Bank Name: ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ Bank Address: ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ ............................................................................................................................................................................. Postcode: .................................................................. INSTRUCTIONS TO THE BANK I would like to become a life member. Please debit annually/monthly (delete as appropriate) £10 or £........ on ........................... (dd/mm) from my bank account to: Friends of Al-Aqsa, Sort Code: 08-92-99, Account Number: 65158078. The Cooperative Bank, Southway, WN8 6VT ~ Eid Gift Ideas ~ Masjid Al-Aqsa Model Palestine Bracelet Dome of the Rock Model This Eid, give someone a gift they will remember To order, please refer to page 11 (Merchandise) Various sizes available Various sizes available Set of 8 Posters Baking Aid Children’s Books Proceeds from the sale of this book goes to Friends of Al-Aqsa Foreword by Friends of Al-Aqsa BAKING AID History of Masjid Al-Aqsa Abu Huzayfa for children
  15. 15. AQSA NEWS 15 Shortly after the attack and subsequent global con- demnation, Israel stated that it would ‘ease’ the blockade. However, a report by Elec- tronic Intifada, written by Jonathan Cook, a free-lance journalist based in Nazareth, sheds light on the possible implications of the alleged ‘easing’. Cooks describes the harsh truth that Israel is still in control of the border cross- ings and therefore although many items will no longer be ‘banned’, they may sim- ply remain an “aspiration” for Palestinians. He expects that the ban on cement will remain thereby leaving the Palestinians in an inescapable situation in terms of rebuild- ing the infrastructure which was bombed by Israel in its war on Gaza. Aid agencies continue to push for a complete lifting of the blockade to allow the Gazan economy to function effectively in order to support the people of Gaza. Gaza Siege Continues in a New Guise There was global outcry when the first news reports emerged early on Monday morning. Israel had imposed a total media blackout except for its own version of events, and the live feed which was broadcast from the ship be- fore Israel intercepted the transmission. It seemed that for the first time, Israeli aggression, this time against a humanitar- ian aid ship, had caused the international community to be unified in its condemna- tion. Since the attack, there have been numerous protest globally, both in the form of demonstrations in the imme- diate aftermath of the attack, and economic actions. A powerful example of such economic action was the prevention of an Israeli ship unloading at a US port. This is the first time in US history that such a protest, at- tended by approximately 700 protesters was able to prevent workers from unloading Is- raeli cargo in San Francisco. A similar protest occurred in Sweden where dockworkers staged a week-long protest refusing to handle goods des- tined for or originating from Israel. Around 1,500 mem- bers of the Swedish Dock- workers Union began the boycott across the country’s ports which handle 95% of Sweden’s foreign trade. In the UK, trade unions• took significant steps in protest of the attack. Unison, the public serv-• ice trade union passed an emergency motion con- demning the attack. Britain’s largest union• ‘Unite’, voted unani- mously in favour of a motion to boycott Israeli companies at its confer- ence in Manchester. The Scottish Trades Un-• ion Congress (STUC), the umbrella organisa- tion for trade unions in Scotland reaffirmed its support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanc- tions (BDS) campaign against Israel. How the World Responded to the Attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla Spain: The city council of Villanueva de Duero, Spain has decided to remove the Eden brand water from Gov- ernment buildings following lobbying efforts by Spanish activists. The company takes water from the Salukiya Springs, located in the ille- gally annexed Golan Heights. They have expanded opera- tions to Europe, and now bot- tle water at springs around the continent. Norway: Cancelled a special operations seminar in June, which was to include an Is- raeli army officer within the program. The Defence Minis- try of Norway were reported to have been unhappy about the Israeli officer delivering a talk in Oslo just weeks after the deadly raid on the Gaza bound Freedom Flotilla. Italy: Two major Italian su- permarkets, COOP and Nor- diconad announced their de- cision to suspend sales from Agrexco – the main exporter of produce originating in Is- rael and illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories. Nordiconad Director Mr. Covili stated that from the end of April, Agrexco prod- ucts would no longer be found in their supermarkets. The World Speaks
  16. 16. By Dr Hanan Chehata Press Officer for the Middle East Monitor (MEMO) With every day that passes Israel further establishes itself as one of the world’s leading violators of human rights. To its British and American allies this may be seen as a gross over- statement; after all there are plenty of despotic, third world countries that arguably have worse human rights records. The question is - how many of them model themselves as demo- cratic, advanced, first world, nuclear allies? The cold, hard facts of Israel’s ever worsening track record are well documented by human rights organisations and the UN, and they speak for themselves. ABUSES OF PALESTINIAN RIGHTS Palestinian lives seem to be accorded little, if any, value by the Israeli authorities. Countless human rights reports and in- vestigations have verified the fact that Palestinian children are arrested and abused in Israeli jails; frail and elderly Palestinian men and women are beaten without cause; Palestinian mothers are attacked on the streets; Palestinian men are tortured and executed, family homes are demolished; illegal sieges are im- posed as a result of which Palestinian children have died due to restricted access to lifesaving medical treatment and so on... and nothing is done to stop it. The international community has a moral and legal obligation to intervene, yet we have failed to do so. This sad state of affairs has been going on for decades now and is only getting worse. However, it is not only Palestinian lives that are being targeted. Anyone who demonstrates any inclina- tion towards supporting the Palestinian people by standing up for human rights is, by mere association, also being targeted. Thus, international solidarity and humanitarian activists work- ing in the occupied territories have become “legitimate” tar- gets of Israeli hostility and violence, regardless of where in the world they come from. ATTACKS ON SOLIDARITY ACTIVISTS The Palestinian territories attracts large numbers of solidarity activists, due to the nature of the suffering that the Palestinians are undergoing and the strong feeling of injustice this has gen- erated amongst millions at the grass roots level globally. Thus, there are a lot of potential targets for nervy, jumpy or seasoned Occupation Force soldiers. The Freedom Flotilla Massacre (2010) On May 31st 2010, the world watched in utter disbelief as live video transmissions showed the Mavi Marmara, the main pas- senger boat in the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza, being attacked by Israeli forces. According to reports, 4 Israeli warships, 3 helicopters, 2 submarines and 30 zodiac boats surrounded the flotilla in the early hours of the morning. With the use of such large numbers of army personnel and equipment, there could be little doubt that there would be fatalities. Nine international humanitarian workers were killed as a result of Israel’s illegal attack on the ship. Of the nine killed, collec- tively they all suffered 31 gunshot wounds. The Nine Victims from the Flotilla Farrakhan Dogan, Vahri Yildiz, Cengiz Okez, Cengiz Sunqur, Cetin Topkoogelo, Necdet Yildirim, Kovdit Kililar, Ali Heyder Bengi, Ibrahim Bilgen (More details on the next page) Israel Turns its Guns on Internationals Rachel Corrie (2003) The most well known death is probably twenty three year old American peace activist Rachel Corrie. Having taken a year off from college, Rachel travelled to Gaza in 2003 where she was working with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) which is a Palestinian-led organisation “committed to resisting the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian land using non- violent, direct-action methods and principles.” She was protesting against the forcible and illegal demoli- tion of a local Palestinian doctor’s family home and stood in the way to block the path of the American made Caterpillar bulldozer. Photographic footage shows that Rachel was wear- ing a bright fluorescent jacket and had a loud speaker in her hands which she was using to shout out to the bulldozer driver to stop. Instead of stopping, the Israeli soldier ran her over before reversing back over her fallen, crushed body. Rachel’s parents have made it very clear that the Israeli investigation into her death was a complete whitewash and they are still fighting for someone to be held accountable for their daughter’s murder. Tom Hurndall (2004) Twenty one year old British photography and journalism student Tom Hurndall was killed in 2004. Tom was also an ISM volunteer in Gaza, who was bravely and desperately try- ing to carry Palestinian children to safety after Israeli troops opened fire. He was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper. After a two hour delay in getting him to hospital, Tom went into a coma from which he never woke up. Nine months later, he died. Although the sniper, Taysir Hayb (a Bedouin Arab in the Israeli army) was prosecuted, there was no accountability for the upper echelons of the Israeli hierarchy who had appar- ently allowed a shoot to kill policy of civilians to exist. Tom’s father made the comment that “we’re concerned that there is a policy….. amongst the Israeli soldiers and army, that they feel able to shoot civilians really without any accountability whatsoever.” In July 2010, news emerged that Hayb was to be released from prison 2 years early, and would be free by August 2010. Tom’s journals were released by his family after his death, and he had written: “I want to be proud of myself. I want more. I want to look up to myself and when I die, I want to smile because of the things I have done, not cry for the things I haven’t done.” Tristan Anderson (2009) Of those who survived Is- raeli attacks, many were left permanently disfigured or injured. California born Tris- tan Anderson was shot in the head by Israeli forces in 2009 with a tear gas canister and sustained permanent brain injury. Emily Henochowicz (2010) In one shocking case last month, twenty one year old American student, Emily Henochowicz, had her eye removed after she was shot in the face by an Israeli soldier as she protested against the flotilla attack. AQSA NEWS 16 Special Feature