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  1. 1. Aqsa News FOR FREE DISTRIBUTIONQUARTERLY | ISSUE 41 | AUGUST 2009 Israel continues to defy the international commu- nity by resuming its settle- ment building activities in the West Bank and more notably in East Jerusalem. In early August, two more Palestinian families were evicted from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbour- hood of the city. This caused outcry as the homes were immediately occupied by ex- tremist Jewish settlers. Such incidences are not uncommon, and have been occurring with increasing frequency as Israel moves to change the facts on the ground in Jerusalem in order to ensure a Jewish majority by demolishing Palestinian homes and evicting families. The eviction of the families in Sheikh Jarrah drew inter- national condemnation with even U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging Is- rael to refrain from such ac- tions, which she described as “deeply regrettable.” The move was further described as “provocative” and “unaccept- able” by the US Secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs, reflecting impatience with Israel’s continuing aggres- sive treatment of Palestinians in Jerusalem. The UN Special Coor- dinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry stated that the evictions of these families constituted violations of both the Geneva Conventions and Israel’s ob- ligations under the Road Map for peace. Despite the scathing criti- cisms levelled against Israel following this move, the state has ignored them and issued further 88 eviction orders for houses nearby. Before 1967, Jerusalem was split into the Israeli West Jerusalem and the Palestin- ian East Jerusalem. Follow- ing the occupation by Israel of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has pursued a number of deliberate measures aimed at ensuring a Jewish majority in East Jerusalem, including building a massive settlement belt around the city and cut- ting it off from the remainder of the West Bank; restricting residency rights of Palestin- ians within the city; refusing planning permission to Arab families in Arab populated areas; revoking citizenship rights from approximately seven thousand Palestin- ians and moving increasing numbers of extremist settlers into Arab populated areas with a view to driving out the native populations. Jerusalem Under Threat Following over 2 years of siege and war in the Gaza Strip, leading child psychia- trist Dr Abdel Aziz Mousa Thabit has confirmed that ap- proximately 65% of young people in the enclave suffer severely from Post-Traumatic Stress disorder (PTS). Dr Thabit has studied the effects of violence and trauma on children for 20 years, and described the condition asso- ciated with PTS as including headaches, abdominal pain, vomiting, inability to concen- trate, panic attacks, anxiety, and irritability. Dr Thabit described his experiences with the chil- dren of Gaza, stating “I’ve observed much change in the children. They are more anx- ious, more fearful. Children are panicky because of the explosions. Children want to leave. You hear it. They feel there is no hope, that the world can’t do anything for them and they can’t do any- thing for themselves.” In the short term, the af- fects of the PTS will mean that these children are deprived of a normal childhood and face enormous physical and psy- chological health challenges. In the long term, the trauma- tising of these children will have a profound effect on Gaza’s future. It is thought that the impact of this trauma may lead these children to the extremes in years to come. From studies carried out 15 years ago on children af- fected by the Israeli violence of the first Intifada, in adult- hood, many continue to suf- fer from Post traumatic stress in at least a mild form. Dr Thabit warns that “they be- come fighters.” 15 years ago, he issued similar warnings including the likelihood of an increase in violent behaviour from traumatised children. This has in fact materialised in Gazan society as these children reach adulthood. In light of the recur- ring acts of Israeli violence against the people of Gaza, the affects of the stress mean an entire lost generation of children. Those who have studied the psychological impact inflicted upon Gaza’s children believe that PTS dis- order and other psychologi- cal consequences may last a lifetime. Only if the violence is stopped and the children of Gaza given adequate psycho- logical support can this real- ity be changed. More on Page 2 > 65% of Gaza’s Youth Suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Boycott Israeli Dates x x x x x Friends of Al-Aqsa Update Ismail Patel Comments & Opinions Jonathan Cook & Natalie Abou Shakra Page 9 > Page 3 > Page 6 > Page 13 > Inside... The Children Who Suffer Both in Gaza and the West Bank, it is the children who continue to be the ones who suffer the most from Israel’s occupation. Page 2 Israeli Government seeks to Silence its Soldiers Page 3 Global Peace Index Places Israel at 141 out of 144 Page 5 Book Reviews Page 11 Viva Palestina US Convoy Page 4 Ramadhan Appeal The crisis in the Occupied Territories must come to an end Gaza In Ruins A look at the ongoing suffering of Palestinians in Gaza.
  2. 2. In a rare break away from the despair of Israel’s siege on Gaza, the children of the besieged strip showed the depth of their spirit and need for normality by attempting to break a world record on the beaches of Gaza. On July 30th, thousands of children flocked to Gaza’s shores flying kites in order to break the world record for the number of people flying kites simultaneously at the same place. Organised by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza (UN- RWA), over 6000 children are thought to have partici- pated, smashing the previous record of 713. UNWRA provides schooling for approximately 200,000 children in the be- sieged Gaza Strip, and goes to great lengths to ensure that the children, who have faced so much trauma, have some form of relief. The event was intended to inspire the children to look beyond their shattered lives to the future with hope. “There is a glorious symbolism about thousands of children in the world’s most locked down community heading to the beach with beautiful kites they have created themselves and showing the world that they are able to have fun like kids anywhere and indeed, be number one in the world,” UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness said. “Thousands of kites, soaring skyward with kids gazing upward allowing their thoughts to rise up from the grind they confront on the ground: it is a symbol of the quest for happiness, freedom and human fulfilment,” he added. Flying Kites into Guinness Book of Records AQSA NEWS 02 Inside Palestine From front page Up to 80% of Palestinian children suffer from behav- ioural problems due to the experience that their young minds have been exposed to. They carry the heavy emo- tional, social and spiritual burdens associated with con- tinued violence, the death of loved ones, discrimination, racism, economic ruins and destruction of homes and communities. Dr. Samir Gota, a pro- fessor of psychology at the University of Gaza, states that there has been a signifi- cant increase in the number of parents visiting psycho- logical health centres in the Gaza Strip for treatments for psychological breakdowns after having recognized these symptoms in their children following the bombings which have affected the cit- ies, towns and refugee camps in the Gaza Strip. The World Health Or- ganisation has said that the conflict situation in Gaza has had profound Psychological consequences including PTS and major depression. They also state that the unpredict- ability of the day-to-day situ- ation further adds to the stress and anxiety felt by not having control over ones life result- ing in extreme behavioural changes. Over the past two years, the situation in Gaza has meant that Palestinian chil- dren have not known even a day of real peace. Further to this, Parents are deeply af- fected by the sheer helpless- ness of their situation and their own inability to protect their children. This atmos- phere of insecurity, danger, violence, and hostility is like- ly to leave irreparable scars on all of Gaza’s people. 72,000 Gazans Left Homeless There are currently at least 72,000 homeless Pal- estinians in Gaza, with little hope of having their homes rebuilt. Surviving on hand- outs from the UN and the Red Cross, these Palestinians are heading towards a freez- ing winter without adequate shelter unless Israel allows vital reconstruction materials to enter Gaza. Academic Life Stifled For university students at Gaza’s Universities, bombed out laboratories and build- ings has meant that their studies have become almost impossible to continue. Make-shift labs have been created at one university, but have limited use. It is esti- mated that the damage to the universities alone amounts to about $1.5 million. Israel’s siege has meant that inter- national donors are unable to help with financing the rebuilding. Many students in Gaza are angered by what they call Israel’s deliberate aim of damaging Palestinian academic life, which is wit- nessed by the destruction of so many university buildings. Impact on Gaza’s Farmers Thousands of citrus, ol- ive and palm groves were destroyed by Israeli bombs. Irrigation systems, wells and greenhouses were also hit. At least a quarter of the people in Gaza depend on farming for their livelihoods and the impact has been massive. Further to the out- right damage, the chances of the farmers recover- ing and planting again are limited due to a lack of seedlings and fertilizers. Israel has also created a ‘buffer zone’ which is closed off to Palestinians. This has resulted in the loss of about 30% of the farmland. If any farmers are found in this area, they risk being shot. Free Gaza Protestors Arrested The Free Gaza Movement has continued in its efforts to break the siege by sending small boats carrying activ- ists and medical aid for the people of Gaza. The last ship to set sail for Gaza left at the end of June but was stopped by Israeli war ships before it reached its destination. Un- der threat of gunfire, the boat was forced to stop reportedly while still in international waters, before Israeli army personnel boarded the boat and arrested all 21 activists on board. 7 British activists on board were taken to an Israeli prison and kept confined for 6 days before being deported back to Britain. Despite the aggressive nature of the ar- rests even though the activ- ists were peaceful and posed no threat, the British govern- ment failed to take the calls of protestors seriously. Many commented that if it had been Iran who was responsible, the reaction would have been far different, reflecting the lack of uniformity in Britain’s ap- proach to Israel and Iran. The activists were aware that they were putting them- selves at risk as the Israeli army is unpredictable and have shot and killed peace activists in the past. Howev- er, the group were spurred on by the sheer injustice of what was happening in Gaza. NEWS IN BRIEF FROM GAZA Both in Gaza and the West Bank, it is the children who continue to be the ones who suffer the most from Is- rael’s occupation. In Gaza, for at least 2 years, imports have been reduced to such levels that poverty is rife and over 70% of the population had an incomes of less than $1 a day in 2008. The situa- tion is much worse now. As a result, children’s di- ets are devoid of the necessary fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and fish. The resultant vita- min and mineral deficiencies mean that children are begin- ning to suffer from stunted bone growth, improper teeth development, and a reduced capacity to learn. The impact on overall health means that children are more prone to illness and infections due to lower levels of resistance. Such health de- ficiencies only usually occur in countries used to famine and natural poverty. In the Palestinian territories, this is entirely man-made. In the West Bank, cru- elty to children at the hands of Israeli occupation forces continues. In a recent report by the BBC, a former Israeli military commander openly admitted that Palestinian chil- dren are routinely ‘ill-treated’ by Israeli soldiers while in custody. Eran Efrati described distressing behavior, stat- ing “You take the kid, you blindfold him, you handcuff him, he’s really shaking... Sometimes you cuff his legs too. Sometimes it cuts off the circulation. “He doesn’t understand a word of what’s going on around him. He doesn’t know what you’re going to do with him. He just knows we are soldiers with guns. That we kill people. Maybe they think we’re going to kill him. A lot of the time they’re peeing their pants, just sit there pee- ing their pants, crying. But usually they’re very quiet.” (Reported by the BBC) The Children Who Suffer
  3. 3. Following Israel’s war against Gaza in December/ January, the tiny strip of land is still in ruins, described by the International Com- mittee for the Red Cross as “look(ing) like the epicentre of a massive earthquake”. Is- rael has not allowed a single truck of reconstruction ma- terials to enter the territories despite pledges from around the world running into bil- lions, and as a result, 1.5 million Palestinians are still living with the devastation of the war. Homes that were de- stroyed have not been rebuilt, schools and universities re- main partially destroyed, hos- pitals are still unable to cope and aid is still only being received in small quantities. Public life was crippled by the war, but has in no way re- covered. Despite this dire sit- uation, international pressure is not being brought on Israel to open up Gaza’s borders. Hospitals are now rely- ing on organisations such as the Red Cross and the Red Crescent Societies for vial medicines, equipment and spare parts, as supplies from the West Bank are inadequate and provided erratically for a number of political reasons. Following the horrific inju- ries that were suffered during the war, they are also fitting amputees with artificial limbs and offering desperately needed physiotherapy. Public infrastructure such as sewage works and water supply are still dangerously inadequate. 69 million litres of partially treated or un- treated sewage is still being pumped into the sea. The environmental consequences are obvious, dire and com- pletely avoidable. Israel is deliberately creating hell on Earth for the people of Gaza and only a complete end to the siege will provide any hope for recovery. Gaza Still in Ruins AQSA NEWS 03 Israeli Military Fails to Investigate War Crimes Allegations The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem received tes- timonies from Palestinians following the Gaza War in which it appeared that Israeli soldiers had used Palestinian civilians as human shields. In light of the testimo- nies, B’Tselem sent letters to the Ministry of Defence containing these details and requesting urgent investiga- tion. Despite this, the army failed to open up investiga- tions into these matters, even though the testimonies from Gazans were corroborated by testimonies received from Is- raeli soldiers themselves. Since the end the Gaza War, B’Tselem states that it has sent law enforcement au- thorities in Israel 19 separate demands to open investiga- tions into events whose cir- cumstances raise suspicions that the military acted unlaw- fully during the operation. None of these were acted upon. Israeli Soldiers Speak Out Soldiers that were in- volved in the 22 Day War in Gaza in December/January have spoken out about Israeli policies which deliberately undermined the safety of ci- vilians. One soldier said that before the war began they were instructed: “Better hit an innocent than hesitate to target an enemy.” Other instructions are said to have included: “If you’re not sure, kill ... In ur- ban warfare, anyone is your enemy. No innocents.” There were many reports of innocent civilians being killed during the conflict. The eventual death toll after 22 days was 1,400 Palestinians (and 13 Israelis). Israel drops Arabic Names from Road Signs In the latest Israeli as- sault on Palestinian culture, the state has begun to remove all Arabic names from road and street signs. Israeli trans- port minister Israel Katz, announced that signs on all major roads in Israel, East Jerusalem and possibly parts of the West Bank would be “standardised”. This stand- ardisation means converting English and Arabic place names into straight translit- erations of the Hebrew name, thus erasing the Arab refer- ences. Palestinians have labelled this a racist and dangerous move intended to erase the existence of the Arab speak- ing Palestinian people Israel Establishes ‘Internet Warfare’ Squad In a bid to monopolise opinion on every available media forum, the Israeli For- eign Ministry revealed its plans for an ‘Internet War- fare’Squad set up specifically to ensure pro-Israeli opinions and responses are posted on as many world wide websites as possible. Young Israelis are being paid to work as “talkback- ers” to tackle a new front on the Israel/Palestine conflict, where information and foot- age of Israel’s oppressive policies is readily and widely available – the internet. The Israeli government is facing an increasing problem from its soldiers who oppose the tactics being used in the Occupied Territories and are speaking out against the Is- raeli policies of harassment and intimidation. The group ‘Breaking the Silence’ has published the testimonies of numerous sol- diers who served in the Occu- pied Territories and admitted to committing crimes against the Palestinians living there. These narratives challenge the official Israeli position that it has the most ‘moral army in the world’, instead depicting extremely immoral behaviourfromsomesoldiers. In an attempt to limit the information that is leaked out by ex-soldiers, the Israeli government is attempting to discredit ‘Breaking the Si- lence’ and cut off its funding. However, the organisation recently sought the support of human rights organisations in Israel and has received this. The group is seeking to establish public debate about the issues raised from the soldiers’ testimonies, which would require Israeli society to truly inspect the reality of the view it has of itself. Israeli Government Seeks to Silence its Soldiers
  4. 4. Palestinian Human Rights Group ‘Al Haq’ files a claim for judicial review before the British High Court in Febru- ary challenging the govern- ment’s failure to fulfil its ob- ligations under international law with respect to Israeli actions in the Occupied Pal- estinian Territory (OPT). On July 27th, the Court dismissed the case on the grounds that it was “not competent” to deal with issues involving the government’s foreign policy. The proceedings were brought by al-Haq following Israel’s breaches of peremp- tory norms of international law, including denying the Palestinians’ the right to self- determination, the de facto acquisition of territory by force, and breaches of “in- transgressible” principles of international humanitarian law. The case also made ref- erence to Britain’s supply of arms to Israel following Is- raeli incursions into Gaza in December and January which led to the deaths of 1,400 Pal- estinians. The case was the first of its kind, and Lord Justice Pill who was one of the judges presiding stated thatAl-Haq’s claim sought a British Court to decide whether Israel was in breach of its international obligations, which went be- yond its competency. Despite the unfavour- able findings, many human rights organisations continue to consider legal avenues to bring Israel to justice for crimes against the Palestinian people. Cases are being com- piled following the war in Gaza, in order to bring mili- tary personnel to justice over alleged war crimes. Mary Robinson, the first female president of Ireland (1990-1997) was honoured by President Obama with the Presidential Medal of Free- dom. This move angered the American Israel Public Af- fairs Committee (AIPAC), an organisation dedicated to ensuring Israel is never criti- cised in the US, due to Ms Robinson’s position over the Israel/Palestine Conflict. Between 1997 and 2002, she held the position of Unit- ed Nations High Commis- sioner for Human Rights and during this time, made many statements highlighting Is- rael’s oppressive policies in the Occupied Territories. She also supervised the 2001 Durban Conference on Rac- ism during which the concept of Zionism was equated with racism. Ms Robinson faced in- tense pressure from pro-Is- raeli groups due to her often realistic and uncompromising portrayal of the truth of Isra- el’s occupation; a truth which Israel works hard to conceal. She dismisses these criti- cisms stating “there’s a lot of bullying by certain elements of the Jewish community.” This honour from President Obama reflects her dedica- tion to fighting for freedom around the globe. Following months of campaigning against French Company Veolia for its in- volvement in building a tram- way in East Jerusalem, re- ports emerged in June that the company was withdrawing from the project and seeking to sell its shares. Campaign- ers are protesting against the building of the tramway as it is intended to entrench the il- legal settlements that Israel has built in the West Bank, by providing easier access to them. As with other ‘settler only’ roads, there is specula- tion that Palestinians would be barred from using the transport. The negative publicity that the company received due to its involvement in the occupied territories is thought to have resulted in the loss of other business. Omar Barghouthi, founding mem- ber of the Palestinian civil society Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign, said the movement’s pressure in the Derail Veolia and Al- stom campaign “played a key role in denying Veolia major contracts, totalling about $7 billion in Sweden, Britain and France”. The withdrawal was re- ported by Haaretz, but Veolia is yet to confirm it officially. However, it is thought that companies are unlikely to ad- mit that they have given into such pressure. The focus is now shift- ing to a second French com- pany involved in the project, Alstrom. So far, Alstrom has stated that it will not with- draw from the Jerusalem project. However, campaign- ers have began to approach governments in the Middle East who are dealing with Al- strom, including SaudiArabia which has awarded the com- pany a lucrative $1.8 billion civil works contract for the Haramain Express railway linking Makkah to Medina. If the campaign is a success, Middle Eastern governments will force Alstrom to with- draw just as Veolia did. Following the success of the first VIVA Palestina con- voy from Britain to Gaza in February, another convoy left from the USA and arrived in Gaza in July. Despite the siege imposed by Israel, the convoy of over 200 Ameri- cans carrying over $1 million of aide passed the borders into Gaza. The convoy was stuck in Egypt for 10 days despite all the arrangements being in place, before being allowed to continue to Gaza. Despite the ordeal and the long wait, the overjoyed crowd which received the convoy in Gaza made the trip more then worthwhile for those who sacrified their time and ener- gies to undertake the mission. As peace activists have come to expect, the Egyptian officials were less than help- ful in facilitating the group’s passage. They were required to leave behind the vehicles that they had travelled in and switch to new vehicles before being allowed into Gaza. British MP George Gal- loway, a leading figure within VIVA Palestina, was with the convoy and entered Gaza for the second time this year fol- lowing his earlier trip with the British convoy. Salma Elshakre, one of the activists in the convoy, described arriving in Gaza: “Once we got to the border, the gate was open, we were instructed to start chanting so the Palestinians can hear us, we got off the buses and walked to the gate and started chanting loud so the Palestin- ians would know that we ar- rived. It was an astounding moment that we were at the gate finally entering Gaza. When we crossed, we were greeted by Gazans who had a little festival for us. Little children were beat- ing drums and Palestinian flags were raised in the air, celebrating our awaited and delayed arrival. We got off the buses feeling victorious, we were chanting as loud as we could showing the world, through the cameras that were in our reception, that we broke the siege!” Israel’s war in Gaza was highly criticised by the UK government, and this was confirmed in mid-July when the government announced plans to revoked five export licences for equipment to the Israeli navy. It was made clear that the actions were the result of Israel’s conduct dur- ing Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. Protestors lobbied the government in order to achieve a total ban on the sales of weapon parts to Isra- el and this is seen as a partial success. The government also faced pressure from MPs and international NGOs such as Amnesty International who uncovered evidence of war crimes following the assault. The UK says it does not sell weapons which might be used for internal repression or external aggression, and the Foreign Office stated that some Israeli actions during the war contravened this cri- teria. 30 of Britain’s 35 con- tracts with Israel still remain in place. On the 5th anniversary of the ICJ Advisory Opinion on Israel’s Separation Wall, UN Special Rapporteur on Hu- man Rights in the Palestin- ian Territories, Richard Falk, called on Israel to demolish the wall. In an address to the Israeli Prime Minister, he said “Tear down that wall, Mr. Netanyahu”. The wall now runs 723 kilometer (449-mile) in length and has resulted in misery for thousands of Pal- estinians in its path, stealing away farmlands and isolating villages and towns. The ICJ’s advisory opinion in 2004 was that the barrier was illegal. Mr Falk remarked that “[t]here will be no peace be- tween these two peoples until Israel shows respect for Pal- estinian rights under interna- tional law.” The wall has resulted in a great deal of hardship for Pal- estinians, and cut off the West Bank from Jerusalem. AQSA NEWS 04 Global News British High Court Rejects Gaza War Crimes Case Mary Robinson Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama, Angering Pro-Israeli Groups Boycott Success as Veolia Quits Jerusalem Light Railway Project VIVA Palestina US Convoy UK Government Cuts Weapons Contracts with Israel UN Calls on Israel to Tear Down the Wall
  5. 5. Jerusalem, 17 June, 2009 We, United Nations and non-governmental humanitarian organisations, express deepen- ing concern over Israel’s continued blockade of the Gaza Strip which has now been in force for two years. These indiscriminate sanctions are affecting the entire 1.5 million population of Gaza and ordinary women, children and the elderly are the first victims. The amount of goods allowed into Gaza under the blockade is one quarter of the pre- block- ade flow. Eight out of every ten truckloads contains food but even that is restricted to a mere 18 food items. Seedlings and calves are not allowed so Gaza’s farmers cannot make up the nutritional shortfall. Even clothes and shoes, toys and school books are routinely prohibited. Furthermore the suffocation of Gaza’s economy has led to unprecedented unemployment and poverty rates and almost total aid dependency. While Gazans are being kept alive through humanitarian aid, ordinary civilians have lost all quality of life as they fight to survive. The consequences of Israel’s recent military operation remain widespread as early recovery materials have been prevented from entering Gaza. Thousands of people are living with holes in their walls, broken windows and no running water. We call for free and uninhibited access for all humanitarian assistance in accordance with the international agreements and in accordance with universally recognised international human rights and humanitarian law standards. We also call for a return to normalized trade to enable the poverty and unemployment rates to decrease. The blockade of the Gaza Strip is creating an atmosphere of deprivation in Gaza that can only deepen the sense of hopelessness and despair among people. The people of Gaza need to be shown an alternative of hope and dignity. Allowing human development and prosperity to take hold is an essential first step towards the establishment of lasting peace. Signed By: Action Against Hunger Acted Acsur-Las Segovias American Friends of UNRWA American Near East Refugee Aid Asamblea de Cooperacion Por la Paz Austcare Biladi CARE International West Bank and Gaza. Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions DanChurchAid Defense for Children International Enfants du Monde-Droits de l’Homme International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy - Canada Japan International Volunteer Centre Life Source Medecins du Monde France Medecins du Monde Spain Medecins du Monde Switzerland Medical Aid for Palestinians Movement for Peace Mujeres por la Paz y Acción Solidaria de Palestina Norwegian People’s Aid Norwegian Refugee Council Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Oxfam International Paz Ahora Peace and Solidarity Haydée Santamaría, Cultural Asociation Premiere Urgence Relief International Spanish Committee of UNHCR Spanish Committee of UNRWA Swedish Organization for Individual Relief Terre des Hommes Italy United Nations Development Fund for Women United Nations Relief and Works Agency War Child Holland World Vision International The Global Peace Index for 2009 has placed Israel at 141 out of 144 countries it analysed for peace. The most peaceful country was New Zealand, and the only 3 worse than Israel were listed as Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Even Zimbabwe, North Korea and Pakistan outranked Israel. This reflects the reality that far from being a peace- ful nation comparable to Eu- ropean countries as it seeks to portray itself, its military occupation makes it one of the least peaceful countries in the world. The insecurities with Is- rael has also resulted in a huge drop in Jewish people migrating there. British Film Director Ken Loach withdrew the film ‘Looking for Eric’ from the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) in protest over Israeli funding. MIFF had reportedly accepted Is- raeli government sponsorship to bring New York filmmaker Tatia Rosenthal to Australia to present her animated film $9.99. Ken Loach unapologeti- cally supports the call for freedom for Palestinians and is quoted as saying that as long as Israel continues to flout international law “re- maining [a] sympathetic but detached observer is no long- er an option.” This position is becoming increasingly common around the world. A high-profile delegation of the European Campaign to End the siege on Gaza (ECESG) met EU Foreign Policy coordinator Javier Solana to discuss the situation in the Occupied Territories in early July. Clare Short MP and Baroness Jenny Tonge were amongst those who at- tended. The meeting was said to involve comprehensive dis- cussions on the situation in Gaza, and ways of ending the blockade imposed on its 1.5 million citizens. One of the other priorities for the del- egation was discussing the possibility of reviewing the trade treaty existing between EU and Israel. Mr Solana confirmed that the EU was unhappy with some Israeli policies, in par- ticular the Settlements which are illegal and a violation of International law. However, the EU is yet to take a strong position on the matter. The UK Commons For- eign Affairs Committee said in July that the policy of non- engagement with the Pales- tinian elected government of Hamas is achieving little. The government faced fresh calls from MPs to open contacts with Hamas in order to in- ject new momentum into the Middle East peace process. However, calls for engage- ment have been limited to the “moderate elements” within the group. AQSA NEWS 05 UN, NGOs and Aid Agencies Call for an End to the Blockade on its Second Anniversary Global Peace Index Places Israel at 141 out of 144 British Film Director Ken Loach Withdraws from Film Festival in Protest at Israeli Funding European Politicians Push to End the Siege on Gaza Government Should Engage with Hamas
  6. 6. AQSA NEWS This Ramadhan Remember Palestine In the last year, Palestinians have suffered greatly The war on Gaza has left thousands of Palestinians injured and in desperate need of help The borders to Gaza remain tightly closed and not even essential medicines are getting in In Gaza there is little food, little medicine, little fuel and a great deal of misery Do something today Join Friends of Al Aqsa and help end this misery Donation Form Name:............................. Address:.......................... ...................................... ...................................... Postcode:......................... Tel:................................. ‘Yes, I would like to donate £............ to Friends of Al Aqsa’ Cheques should be made payable to ‘Friends of Al Aqsa’ Name:............................................. Address: ...................................................... ...................................................... ...................................................... ...................................................... ...................................................... Postcode:............. Tel:..................... Email:............................................. Yes! I would like to become a Life Member. Debit annually/monthly £10 or £......... on........... from my bank account to: Friends of Al Aqsa, Sort Code: 08-92-99 Acc No: 65158078 The Cooperative Bank, Southway, WN8 6WT Name of account holder: Acc No: Sort Code: Bank Name: Bank Address: Postcode: Signature: Date: Return this form to: PO Box 5127, Leicester, LE2 0WU Become a member for only £10 a year online at: or complete this form Become a Life Member 06
  7. 7. AQSA NEWS MERCHANDISE In 1993, the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment WMD prolifera- tion assessment recorded Israel as a country generally reported as having an unde- clared offensive biological warfare program.Israel’s repeated use of highly toxic unknown chemicals against Palestinian civilians has never come under intense scrutiny. These attacks will no doubt continue until international pressure and condemnation force Israel to stop this torture. hyperventilation, irritation and sweating.”It was concluded that the protestors had most likely been attacked using a nerve gas.Israeli Peace movement Gush Shalom reported following the incident: “What the army used here yesterday was not tear gas. We know what tear gas is, what it feels like. That was something totally different... Black smoke came out. Anyone who breathed it lost consciousness immediately, more than a hundred people fell. They remained unconscious for nearly 24 hours... They had high fever and their mus- cles became rigid. Some needed urgent blood transfusion. Now, is this a way of dispersing a demonstration, or is it chemical warfare?”There have been at least 10 separate incidences since 2001 where Israel used suspicious gas against Palestinian civilians, causing horrific suffering. Experts who have reviewed witness testimonies have concluded that Israel used nerve gas.Biological Weapons Israel is not a signatory to the Biological Weapons Convention. However, it is assumed that the Israel Institute for Biological Re- search in Ness Ziona develops vaccines and antidotes for chemical and biological warfare. Published by Friends Of Al-Aqsa PO BOX 5127, Leicester, LE2 OWU Tel: 0116 212 5441 / 07711 823 524 Web: - Email: Name:............................................................... Address:............................................................ ........................................................................ ........................................................................ Postcode:.................. Tel:............................ Email:............................................................... 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 | | Please add 10% of the total cost to cover postage expenses Leaflets A set of 20 information leaflets including the following: Books Children Free Qty:....... Complete set of information leaflets on Palestine Issues Forty Ahadith Concerning Masjid Al-Aqsa Free Qty:....... Dome of the Rock Free Qty:....... Palestine Beginner’s Guide £9.95 Qty:....... Madina to Jerusalem £5.95 Qty:....... A History of Palestinian Resistance £5.95 Qty:....... Virtues of Jerusalem £5.95 Qty:....... OFFER: All 4 books for £20.00 Qty:....... The USA & ISRAELSustaining an Illegal Occupation should suspend all aid until Israel ends itsoccupation of Arab land Israel seized in1967.” In 2005, Israel unashamedly asked theU.S. for $2.2 billion in special aid for itsdisengagement plan. Most of this moneywould go towards compensation forextremist settlers who have caused havoc inthe Gaza Strip. Ironically, no such paymentwas ever offered to the Palestinians whosehomes were demolished to create thesettlements initially. U.S. aid to Israel is funding the creation of ahostile environment for the U.S. in the MiddleEast, perpetuating tensions, maintainingan illegal occupation, and helping Israelto defy all U.N. resolutions, create terroristsand threaten U.S. oil supplies.Israel’s GNP is higher than the combinedGNP of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, theWest Bank and Gaza. With a per capitaincome of about $14,000, Israel ranks asthe sixteenth wealthiest country in theworld; Israelis enjoy a higher per capitaincome than oil-rich Saudi Arabia and areonly slightly less well-off than most WesternEuropean countries. Most Americans are not aware of howtheir taxes are being used to support Israel,and they have a moral responsibility to beaware. An additional fact is that most of this aidviolates American laws. The Arms ExportControl Act stipulates that US-suppliedweapons be used only for “legitimate self-defense.” Israeli self-defence argumentsare preposterous given the lack of aPalestinian military. Israel is now probably the most militarizedsociety in the world. The West Bank and Gaza have becomegiant concentration camps. None of thiscould have occurred without U.S. support.Republican Congressman Paul Findleyonce said: “For 35 years, not a word hasbeen expressed …in either chamberof Congress that deserves to be calleddebate on Middle East policy… On CapitolHill, criticism of Israel, even in privateconversation, is all but forbidden, treated asdownright unpatriotic, if not anti-Semitic…Israel is a scofflaw nation and should betreated as such. Instead of helping Sharonintensify Palestinian misery, our president Published by Friends Of Al-AqsaPO BOX 5127, Leicester, LE2 OWUTel: 0116 212 5441 / 07711 823 524Web: - Email: Many minors have reported abuse while in custody, including being forced to stand in extremely difficult positions with their hands cuffed, their eyes blindfolded and with out being allowed to use bathrooms, nor eat or drink for long hours. As Israel is spinning a fabricated story of peace in the Occupied Territories, Palestinians are in need now more than ever of international protection and the implementation of the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions. Israel has also used its illegal settlements as detention centres in clear violation of International Law which demands that detention centres be marked, known and well reported. Another method employed during the intifada was the arrest and detention of political leaders, where they were lucky enough not to be assassinated. This method was intended to break down the structure of the Palestinian resistance movement. Israel has managed to avoid international pressure for its lack of compliance with international laws intended to protect prisoners by accusing them of being “terrorists”, which following the events of 9/11 ensures few questions are raised about applying international human rights conventions. This has made the Palestinian struggle for freedom confused in the minds of many who have little knowledge of the conflict. Children According to Israeli military regulations, a child 16 or above is considered an adult, contrary to the Convention on the Rights of the Child’s defined age of 18. Thus, many minors face harsh adult prisons. Moreover, Palestinian children may be charged and sentenced in military courts when they are as young as age 12, due to the non-existence of juvenile courts. Over 2,000 children were arrested during the Al-Aqsa Intifada, of whom some 400 still remain imprisoned. The crime of most of these children was throwing stones at Israeli armoured personnel carriers, which carries a sentence of between 6 months and a year. Published by Friends Of Al-Aqsa PO BOX 5127, Leicester, LE2 OWU Tel: 0116 212 5441 / 07711 823 524 Web: - Email: Destruction/Appropriation of Property Since 1967, Israel has continued to commit a momentous crime against the Palestinians by stealingmuchoftheirterritoryandbuildingset- tlementsonit.Thisisillegalunderinternational law, and to facilitate the settlements, all Pales- tinianhomesontheseizedlandaredemolished. Hundreds of other Palestinian homes have also been demolished by Israel leaving many thousands homeless. Settlement building on occupied land and the transfer of occupier civilians to the occupied territories is illegal, yet Israel has about 500,000 of its civilians living in the occupied Palestinian territories. The number of settlers continues to grow unabated despite international condemnation. Israel’s Apartheid wall continues to be built within the West Bank annexing large chunks of it to Israel. This is widely thought to be a deliberate policy by Israel to create new facts on the ground and preclude the establishment of a Palestinian state on these lands. Thus, Palestinians will be permanently deprivedofyetmoreoftheirhistorichomeland. These checkpoints make day to day life a misery for Palestinians, and are also a form of collective punishment which is unlawful under article 33 of the Geneva Convention IV. Unlawful Deportation/Transfer Israel has transferred some Palestinian civilians between Gaza and the West Bank as a formofpunishment.Thesecivilianshavenoway to get back to their homes as the two territo- ries are completely separated from each other. Unlawful Confinement Israel uses a policy of ‘Administrative Arrests’ whereby it arrests and imprisons Palestinian civilians with no evidence and on no charge. These prisoners are denied the right to a fair trial, as there is no crime, and face terms of 6 months imprisonment which are often renewedresultinginlongtermsofconfinement. Israel also confines children in adult prisons in breach of internation- al law. These children face abuse and torture at the hands of criminal prisoners. Depravation of Fair Trial Those prisoners who do receive trials are given inadequate access to legal representation, and are often unaware of what is going on at their trial as they are conducted in Hebrew. Many meet their legal counsel only once before trial. Published by Friends Of Al-Aqsa PO BOX 5127, Leicester, LE2 OWU Tel: 0116 212 5441 / 07711 823 524 Web: - Email: israeli apartheid policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid Policies Israeli Apartheid 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n their homes for days at a time. Over half population is unemployed, resulting in 62% alestinians attempting to survive on less n $2/day. Many that can find work have within Israel, but they spend hours each y at military checkpoints. This economic dship, deliberately imposed, has led to ass emigration with tens of thousands leaving e West Bank for Jordan and other countries. us, Palestinians are being forced out of their omeland for the expansion of Israel. he contrast with South Africa is blindingly bvious: “Yesterday’s South African township dwellers can tell you about today’s life in the Occupied Territories. To travel only blocks in his own homeland, a grandfather waits on the whim of a teenage soldier. More than an emergency is needed to get to a hospital; less than a crime earns a trip to jail.” [‘Against Israeli Apartheid’, Comment by Desmond Tutu and Ian Urbina, The Nation, July 2002] cies Israeli d Policiescies Israeli d Policiescies Israeli IsraeliApar IsraeliAd PoliciesIsraeliAd PoliciesIsraeliApar IsraeliA IsraeliApar Published by Friends Of Al-Aqsa PO BOX 5127, Leicester, LE2 OWU Tel: 0116 212 5441 / 07711 823 524 Web: - Email: Colouring Book £2.00 Qty:....... Activity Book £3.00 Qty:....... TOTAL:............ FLAG LAPEL BADGE £1.50 Qty:....... £1.00 Qty:....... RIBBON FLAG £20.00 Qty:....... £5.00 Qty:....... £3.00 Qty:....... FREE Qty:....... £5.00 Qty:....... FOOTBALL SHIRT £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). ....... £5.00 Qty:....... XL (44 X 30) ........ L (42 X 29) ........ M (40 X 28) ........ S (38 X 27) ........ 7 DVD SET PALESTINE FLAG FOOTBALL T-SHIRT AL-AQSA KEYRING SCARF (SQUARE) SCARF (WOOL) £5.00 Qty:....... 07
  8. 8. AQSA NEWS Order Form: Name: Address: ............................................................................................................ ............................................................................................................ ............................................................................................................ ............................................................................................................ ............................................................................................................ Postcode: Tel: I would like to order________ pack(s) of Hadith posters. Please make cheques payable to ‘Friends of Al Aqsa’ and include £2.50 for postage. If ordering more than one pack, add £1 for postage per additional pack. A maximum of £5 will be payable for postage. Return this form to: Friends of Al Aqsa, PO Box 5127, Leicester, LE2 0WU 0116 212 5441 | | £5 for the complete pack This would make an ideal Eid gift for your friends and family, and help raise funds for Friends of Al-Aqsa at the same time A set of 8 posters containing images from the sacred Al-Aqsa with selected Hadith reminding us of its importance and virtues Friends of Al-Aqsa is a UK based NGO concerned with defending the human rights of Palestinians and campaigning to safeguard the Holy Al-Aqsa sanctuary. One of our aims is to raise awareness about the virtues of Masjid Al-Aqsa and instil its rememberance within the hearts and minds of Muslims around the world. 08
  9. 9. AQSA NEWS Message from Friends of Al-Aqsa 09 “Truly, Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” (Quran 13:11) As we are in the month of Ramadhan, this verse from the Holy Quran is ample reminder that we each bear a great responsibility and that ultimately, we are each responsible for our actions. In times of prayer, reflection, and contemplation of the year gone by, how many of us will focus on ourselves or our families, and forget the wider ummah at home and abroad? Ramadhan is a reminder of the blessings we have been granted and the ease with which we in Britain live our lives. The hunger comes to an end at sunset, the sleepless nights are made up for during the day, and we enjoy meals better than at any other time of the year. But our gratitude should spread wider than that, to include the freedoms we live under in Britain, our equality before the law and our ability to build a decent life for ourselves and our families. How many of us forget these blessings, and how many of us are aware that we may be losing them slowly? Both in Britain and in Europe, the rise of the right wing in society and politics means our place in this country is being questioned more and more, and we face charges of extremism for supporting causes such as that of the Palestinians. Legislation against terrorism is intended to apply equally to all, but Muslims are bearing the brunt of it, more often than not – unjustly. Not one of us can be complacent and shy away from these realities. It is essential to take stock of our own activities and actions and our roles in preventing the spread of injustice both in our home countries as well as globally. This Ramadhan, let us re-double our efforts in ibadah and also proportionally increase our knowledge about and concerns for, the ummah. It is time for each of us to reflect on our duties towards each other and our societies, and discharge that duty – purely for the sake of Allah (SWT). There is no longer any room for casual observers. In Palestine, the future looks bleak. In Gaza, desperation does not even begin to paint the picture of hopelessness and despair. What will you do? Make dua. Boycott Israel so that your money is not being used to prop up this oppressive regime. Finally, endeavour to tell all those around you who are not aware of what is happening in Palestine. Perhaps if enough people know and are concerned and change their own behaviour, Allah swt will bring about relief for our brothers and sisters in Palestine. Insha’Allah. Ismail Patel The long-established FoA branches in Wal- sall, London, Liverpool, Bristol and Cardiff, and Bradford have been active for many years and continue to raise awareness about the situation in Palestine through events, flyer drops, lectures, campaigning, lobbying and other measures. Anyone interested in joining any of these branches and participating in these activities, can contact the head office: E: info@aqsa. Liverpool Liverpool is home to a diverse Muslim population. FoA have been active in Liverpool for some time, participating in talks and other events at the local Universities. On Sunday March 29th 2009, the Imam of Penny Lane Masjid and a few of the congregation took part in the Liverpool Half Marathon. They raised over £5,000 for FoA. During Ramadhan, volunteers in Liverpool are gearing themselves up to raise awareness about Masjid al-Aqsa and Palestine. Stalls will be set up outside the various Masajid to distribute and sell Palestinian dates and other products. Bristol and Cardiff FoA in Bristol & Cardiff are a fairly new branch. They are working to increase their presence by distributing and display FoA posters in local Masajid and shops in order to garner more support. In Bristol, with the support of the Council Of Bristol Mosques, Friday Jumuah prayers will include reminders about Palestine and the situation of Masjid al-Aqsa. Radio Ramadhan Cardiff will promote the Boycott Israeli Dates Campaign. Walsall Goal 4 Peace Al-Aqsa Cup Tournament Organised by Friends of Al Aqsa Walsall Branch On Sunday 26th July, the Goals 4 Peace tournament took place in Walsall to raise awareness about the Palestinian Situation to a wider audience. The 5-a-Side football tournament attracted 20 teams from as far afield as London and Manchester. Each team paid £80 to enter and the participants came from a cross-section of the wider community with many nationalities represented. The competition required the teams to play in stages until the finalists, the Ulama from Madinatul uloom in Kidderminster playing as ‘Al-Aqsa United’ and the team from Hackney in London playing as ‘Zi-Clone Multimedia’ (the name of their sponsors), played each other. Over 250 players and spectators attended during the day despite the rainy and windy conditions. The FA registered referees who officiated commented on the fact that all of the games were played in the right spirit and suggested they would be putting their own team in next year’s tournament. Watch out for the Summer 2010 tournament! The FoA annual fundraising ‘Challenge’ sponsored walk took place on 24th May 2009. Over 140 people participated in the event, raising over £14,000 to help with the work of Friends of Al-Aqsa. The 15km walk took place around the Staunton Harold Reservoir in Melbourne. The weather was glorious sunshine making the views unforgettable. Watch out for details of next year’s Challenge! Update from Friends of Al-Aqsa Branches Fundraising Challenge 15km Walk FoA Hosts Caoihme Butterly Irish peace activist Cao- ihme (pronounced ‘Kweeva’) Butterly was hosted by FoA in Leicester on 7th June 2009. The event titled ‘Eyewitness from Gaza’drew a full house, and Caoihme provided a timely reminder of the strug- gles that Palestinians con- tinue to face in Gaza, which galvanised many of those in attendance to take action. Following the event, ini- tiatives have commenced to twin organisations in Leices- ter with those in Gaza in a bid to show solidarity with the people there. To get involved, email: Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid? Report Presented to MPs A group of international lawyers and academics produced a report titled: ‘Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid? A Re-assessment of Israel’s Practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territories under International Law’, which was launched as SOAS in May 2009. The report’s findings were ground-breaking and in order to ensure it was brought to the attention of MPs and policy makers, FoA organised for a briefing to take place between the main authors of the report, including Professor Virginia Tilley and John Reynolds (Al-Haq), and MPs/peers at Parliament on Tuesday 19th May. The meeting was attended, amongst others, by the following MPs/peers: Richard Burden MP, Claire Short MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Martin Linton MP, Lord Hylton, and Baroness Tonge. FoA continues to work hard to ensure that the findings of this report, which reflect the colonialist nature of the state of Israel, are widely distributed, discussed and debated. Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid?
  10. 10. AQSA NEWS During the time of prophet Nuh (AS), the people did not worship Allah and Allah (SWT) sent them Nuh as a prophet to guide them to the right way. However, Nuh’s people did not believe in the message he brought even though he tried to convince them for hundreds of years. In those times, people lived for a lot longer than they do now. In the end, Allah (SWT) ordered Nuh to build an Ark, on which he was told to take 2 of ever animal, one female and one male. He built the Ark on top of a mountain and the people laughed at him as there was no water around for the Ark to float on. Nuh (AS) followed the orders of Allah and filled the Ark with animals and with supplies, and he also took the believers with him. It started to rain then, and the entire land was flooded, and the Ark that was built by Nuh (AS) floated on the flood water. The Ark was swept along by the water and it reached a mountain called Mount Judi. The rain then stopped and the water began to dry up. Only the believers and the animals in the Ark survived. All the others died. Can you help these animals find their way through the maze and reach the Ark of Prophet Nuh (AS)? Under 12 years old? Answer these questions and send us your replies for a chance to win! 1. How many prophets are mentioned by name in the Quran? a. 10 b. 22 c. 25 d. 24,000 2. Who were the first and last prophets of Islam? a. Aadam (AS) and Muhammad (SAW) b. Isa (AS) and Muhammad (SAW) c. Aadam (AS) and Isa (AS) d. Ibrahim (AS) and Muhammad (SAW) 3. True or false: Muslims are not allowed to name their children after prophets? a. True b. False 4. True or False: Muslims are not allowed to name their children using the names of Allah (SWT)? a. True b. False c. True, but only if the name is preceded by ‘Abd al’ (slave of) 5. One member of Prophet Nuh’s family was not saved in the Ark by Allah (SWT), who was it? a. His son b. His wife c. His daughter 13 – 18 years old?? Re-arrange these letters to form words and send us your replies for a chance to win! These words describe Israeli practices against the Palestinians. 1. raw 2. fadaitin 3. apartdhie 4. ccooupatni 5. thwei ppooosshhur 6. nialcoloism Deadline for both competitions: 30th September 2009. Send your answers with your name, age and address to: Friends of Al-Aqsa, PO Box 5127, Leicester LE2 0WU. Or email us on COMPETITION WIN!£20ARGOSVOUCHER! 10 Fun & Games
  11. 11. AQSA NEWS Book Reviews 11 Israel’s Vicious Circle: Ten Years of Writings on Israel and Palestine BY URI AVNERY, Pluto Press, 2008, ISBN-10: 0745328237, pp 240, £15.99 Politically, socially and ethically, Uri Avnery’s life experiences put him in a po- sition of strength from which to judge the Israel-Palestine conflict. He is a veteran of the 1948 war, a self-confessed former Zionist ‘terrorist’, a peace activist, the creator of the popular magazine Haolam Hazeh and the founder of the Gush Shalom peace block undertaking direct action to improve the every day lives of Palestinians. He was also a member of the Knesset be- tween 1965 and 1974. This book is a collection of his writing from the last decade, but which covers the history of Israel-Palestine in its en- tirety. Avnery presents an idi- osyncratic and humane Is- raeli point of view. Although he occasionally slips into the conventional anger that the occupation arouses in all who know about it, the reader is generally rewarded with well-constructed arguments and a case for being positive as change is possible. Uri Avnery is a Zionist and this adds strength to the book as he loves his coun- try yet does not allow this to overshadow the facts of the occupation and the obvious damage being wrought upon the Palestinians and upon Is- rael, especially as the hope for a two-state solution dwin- dles. This book gives the read- er a tour of Israel and the Oc- cupied Palestinian Territories from a perspective and van- tage point that the reader will never find in the mainstream media. Avnery scrutinizes, for example, the impact of Israeli prisons and observes that they are actually a breed- ing ground for bi-lingual moderate and progressive Palestinians who have no de- sire to increase instability and often leave prison much more politically astute than those who represent them. He brings the reader face-to-face with the igno- rance that is wrought by the one-sided media narratives. Avnery offers a guided tour into Arab culture – “May your house be destroyed” is a dark statement in Palestine as a house symbolises a man’s dignity and a family’s secu- rity. In this context the reader can appreciate in a deeper way the horrors of the occu- pation, theft of land and most pertinently, the demolition of homes. The articles are intelli- gently held together by the editor Sara R.Powell who gives the book a fluidity that allows it to be read as one piece of writing rather than a number of individual articles. The editor fills in the gaps to prevent interruption of the chronological narrative. And this combines with Avnery’s smooth style to make the book incredibly readable and extremely absorbing. Reviewed by Tom Charles, London Labour Friends of Palestine Last Chance: The Middle East in the Balance BY DAVID GARDNER, London: I B Tauris, 2009, ISBN 10 – 1848850417, pp 288, £18.99 David Gardner has written an unusual and challenging book. Partly journalism, part- ly an exploration of recent history and partly an appeal to policy-makers in the west and the Middle East, Gardner argues that one of the west’s greatest mistakes, “through our deceitful collusion in tyr- anny and dispossession, and theself-regardingexculpation and evasions of the ‘they hate us for our freedoms’ industry, is to have forced an entire civilization into the politics of a wounded identity”. Gardner illustrates in graphic and careful detail the break- down of trust between the Arab world and the west. He does so by referring to a number of key themes. First- ly, he describes the apparently un-reformable corruption and despotism of most of theArab regimes, quite indifferent to the democratic aspirations of their own populations. Secondly, Gardner is equally despairing about the role of the west which, he says, “no longer has any moral standing among Arabs and Muslims”. The west is shown as igno- rant, or perhaps careless of the havoc caused to people’s lives by its casual interven- tion; it is also, in the minds of the majority of Arabs, hypo- critical – encouraging, on the one hand, a desire for “free- dom” while, at the same time, trampling on the rights and democratic choices of Arab citizens, fuelled by a kind of intolerant ideology. A third theme is the role of political Islam in the region. Gardner identifies ‘Jihadism’ as the enemy. He argues that “one of the main policy chal- lenges facing the USA and Europe will be to separate out irreconcilable jihadis of bin Laden conviction from the Islamist movements that are implanted and organized in their societies and wish to play the democratic game” Islamists, in his view, “make real and enduring break- throughs once they jettison their radicalism”. These are grand and far- reaching themes. They are explored in a series of chap- ters that focus in turn on “the Arab political jungle”, the unsatisfactory nature of Arab regimes, the “Janus” of Islamic revivalism, the emer- gence of the Shi’a in Iraq and elsewhere as a newly asser- tive force, the downward spi- ral of affairs in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the destruc- tive effects of Syrian involve- ment in Lebanon, the hope- less and deteriorating state of the Palestinian-Israeli “peace process” and, finally, the cur- rent state of play between the Middle East and the West. Gardner’s journalistic style makes his book accessible to a potentially wide readership, including western policy- makers who lack the patience to follow the intricacies of academic argument. This is the west’s “last chance” but could easily become its “lost chance”. Reviewed by Dr Maria Holt, University of Westminster.
  12. 12. Boycott Israeli Dates This Ramadan, Friends of Al-Aqsa has launched a new campaign – Boycott Israeli Dates. While Muslims in Europe prepare for Ramadan, Israel prepares to flood the European markets with dates from Israel which enrich its economy will millions of pounds each year. Many Muslims are unaware of this and unwittingly purchase Israeli dates, thereby supporting the Israeli economy and its occupation of the Palestinian people. Why should you boycott Israeli dates? There are many reasons for boycotting Israel and Israeli products. Financially supporting the state of Israel is tantamount to supporting its oppression and occupation of the Palestinians. Palestinians are subjected to violence and humiliation every day and their lives are made unbearable by Israel’s occupa- tion policies. In Gaza, most recently, Israel reduced the popula- tion of 1.5 million to desperate poverty by imposing a two year long siege and a 3 week long bombing campaign which left 1,400 Palestinians dead. While Israel enjoys living standards equivalent to that in Europe, the Palestinians in Gaza live without basic supplies of fuel, electricity, medicines, food and even milk powder for babies. Despite the absolute humanitarian disaster unfolding in Gaza, with diseases spreading, malnutrition the norm, and medical patients dying in their hundreds from treatable diseases; Israel continues to dismiss international concerns and condemnation, calling the Palestinians the terrorists. In the West Bank, oppressive occupation policies continue to be the norm, and peaceful protests con- tinue to be met with deadly force, leaving unarmed protestors dead or injured. International solidarity workers are also still being harassed and targeted, and extremist settlers, such as those in Hebron, continue to make the lives of the local people a liv- ing misery. School children on their way to school face the terror of settler attacks, who hurl both abuse and rocks at them. These incidences are not isolated; they are the reality of every day life for some Palestinians. Political intervention has failed to bring about an end to the occupation for over 40 years. It is time for ordinary people in the ground to take a stand, and boycotting Israeli goods is an easy but effective op- tion. By boycotting Israeli products - you are telling the Israelis that you want the occupation to end; you are telling the world government’s that they must take action; and most importantly, you are telling the Palestinians that they are not forgotten. Do something today Boycott Israeli Dates Child Labour Israeli date farms in the West Bank settlements in the Jordan Valley employ child labour. Palestinian families living in refugee camps in the area face desperate poverty and rely almost solely on aid for their daily sustenance. This poverty is the direct result of Israeli occupation policies. Israeli settlers take advantage of the situation by offering employment to these Palestinians, including children, paying them paltry wages for back breaking work on the date farms, which the settlers would never do themselves. These children then miss out on an education. Israelis often say that by boycotting Israeli goods, we are harming their Palestinian labourers. The fact is that the Palestin- ians only work on these farms out of sheer desperation. Before the occupation began, these very farms were owned by Palestin- ians who were able to make a living in a dignified and profitable way. Now, the only ones making a profit are illegal Israeli settlers while Palestinians do all the hard work. If the occupation was brought to an end, Palestinians would once again work their own farms and be able to export their own goods, which is currently completely choked by Israel’s deliberate policies in- tended to enrich Israelis and impoverish Palestinians, who they can then exploit as cheap labour. The International Labour Movement reported in 2008 that work hazards in Israeli settlements and industrial zones are rife, and Palestinian workers are offered little protection against obvious dangers. They also received evidence that child labourers were being used in dangerous quarries in Israeli settlements as well as within date plantations. Israeli children would never be exposed to such risks, reflecting the Israeli settlers’ views of Palestinians and their children as being merely an expendable workforce. Stolen Land Essentially, these dates are not the produce of Israel at all. Israeli settlements that produce dates are illegal under international law. They are built on land confiscated from Palestinians leaving families dispossessed of their homes and land, often without compensation. The settlement produce is also irrigated by water stolen from the Palestinians and diverted to settlements. By marketing these dates falsely as Israeli produce, the settlement farmers get special tax deductions when importing them into the UK. Most of the Israeli date growers live in kibbutz’s and cooperative villages and belong to cooperative settling movements. 92% of the Israeli date plantations are owned and cultivated by these collectives or co-operatives. The usual size of a plantation in those settlements is between 20 and 30 hectares. 14% of these plantations are larger, between 30-50 hectares. One hectare is 10,000 square metres. Hadiklaim - Israel Date Growers’ Cooperative Hadiklaim is the main Israel Date Growers Co-operative which exports dates from Israel and from Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, especially from settlements in the Jordan Valley. Hadiklaim was established to market the produce of date farmers in Tzemah, Beit Shean and the Southern Arava, and it sells 65 percent of the dates produced in Israel. About four-fifths of this produce is sold abroad, mostly in Europe. Hadiklaim markets dates under the brand names of Jordan River, Jordan River Bio-Top and King Solomon, and under private labels of supermarket chains. Hadiklaim’s marketing is handled by Almog Tradex. Water Consumption In total, Israel consumes 1.8 billion cubic meters of water a year and Palestinians in the West Bank get only 120 million cubic meters per year, which means that each Israeli consumes four times as much water as a Palestinian. Palestinians only consume 17 per cent of the water from West Bank sources, and Israel takes the remaining 63 per cent for the use of its illegal settlers and the produce that they are farming. Palestinians are restricted on how much water they are allowed to consume - 83 cubic meters per Palestinian per year; while Israelis consume 333 cubic meters per Israeli per year. Making Money from the Occupation Dates were Israel’s leading fruit export in 2005. Dates account for about 15% of export from Israel into the EU. It is estimated that Israel produces over 10,000 tonnes of dates per year. The approximate price per kilo of dates is £8. The total income for Israel from dates in a year is approximately £80 million. JOIN US! Boycott Israeli Dates and help end the oppression. Facts about Israeli Date Farms AQSA NEWS 12
  13. 13. I will never forget the image of the elderly woman whose son was dying in a hospital in Egypt. She only wanted to be with him. Cry- ing, her hand touching the glass window of the of- fice of the Egyptian intelli- gence services, she pleaded, “Please, please. I beg you, show mercy, let me go in.” Another woman sat by the State Security office, look- ing up at an officer blocking her path. “You promised to let me in,” she said with her soft, tired and drained voice. “Please let me in” she re- peated calmly with her tired voice, then she looked at me with wide, tearful, sad eyes. I came to Gaza a week be- fore Israel’s winter invasion began. After seven months, I spent two days at the Rafah crossing with the Egyptian authorities refusing to allow me to return to Lebanon, de- spite having all the necessary coordination documents, ap- proval and permission from the Egyptian Ministry of For- eign Affairs. The Egyptian authorities made people wait in the arriv- al hall at the Rafah crossing, sitting on filthy floors where names for either the entry to Egypt or to return to Gaza were called by the voices of aggressive Egyptian police officers, or state security or intelligence personnel. After hours of waiting, two offic- ers headed towards us: “you are being returned to Gaza.” “No!” we would reply, “We have coordination docu- ments!” But, the officers and intelligence personnel grew angrier and threw the papers in our faces humiliatingly: “This means nothing! Move on! Hurry!” After being asked nu- merous times “what were you doing in Palestine for seven months,” I answered the intelligence officer sim- ply, “what you didn’t do.” Another officer asked, “How did you come to Gaza?” “By the boats” I replied, referring to the Free Gaza Movement ship that brought me. “So, now you know why you ... can’t leave,” he answered back. It was a simple message to the Free Gaza Movement and anyone hoping to break the siege: they and the Pales- tinians will be punished. Yet, it must be done, something must be said, this injustice cannot be allowed to stand in silence, whatever the price. And there is a huge price to pay -- that of not being able to go back. As I was explaining the situation to someone on the phone, a sick, elderly Pales- tinian man fell to the ground unconscious. I approached as a state security officer began dragging the elderly man across the floor. I was intercepted by Said, the intel- ligence officer, who pointed his finger at me and said in a cruel and wicked tone, “I will make sure you will never get out of here.” I countered, quoting the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, “all that you have done to our people is registered in notebooks.” He replied in a vindictive tone, “Really? Who will hold us accountable?” At Rafah, I saw a voice- less Palestinian man in a wheelchair being pulled and shaken. I watched women begging on their knees, chil- dren and the elderly sitting on dirty floors. And all of us were dragged by the Egyptian security officers and thrown out. At Rafah I also saw laughter and love. A little girl on a bus asked her mother, “Can we gather a shekel from each to give to the Egyptians to pass through?” I watched as people shared bread and water, share laughter as well as pain and tears. Yes, we laughed. Laughter and love under the bombs, to laugh and love under racism, degra- dation, humiliation, by mon- sters clad in the uniforms of a brotherly Arab state. Coming from Lebanon to Gaza initially seemed sur- real. Larnaca, Cyprus was the checkpoint, and the sea was the road to Palestine. In the beginning, breaking the siege was all that came to mind. It was almost three years to the medieval, hermetic siege that the apartheid state of Israel had imposed on Gaza’s mil- lion and a half residents. All I thoughtofthenwas:Israel,the occupation, the monster. But, the monster, as I later became aware, was not one but many, who were all devouring the souls of Palestinians in Gaza. The official Arab regimes were sharing the crimes that Israel was committing. These regimes, especially Egypt, are not complicit - their par- ticipation is direct, clear, ob- servable, noticeable, felt and lived directly, and therefore has transcended complicity into direct participation. In Gaza, I have lived the “quintessential Palestinian experience.” I have lived a Nakba, a man-made disaster, a disease of hatred, racism to the bone. In Gaza, I have lived under occupation, a brutal, savage blockade. The epitome of the Palestinian experience comes in what historian Rashid Khalidi says is lived “at a border, an air- port, a checkpoint ... at any one of those modern barriers where identities are checked and verified.” It is what the eminent Palestinian novelist Ghassan Kanafani described in Men in the Sun I came to stand with the suffering, besieged Pales- tinians in the Gaza Strip. I came to learn from their resistance, in all its forms, and to fight hand in hand with local activists in acts of non-violent civil resistance. After all, I came from a sup- posed “resisting Lebanon” and therefore, resistance was no stranger to me. I came to Gaza to confront the occupa- tion and know it through a window other than that of the biased petrol-dollar media of our times. And I did. The psychological and physical torture Palestinians are subjected to at the Rafah crossing is a clear message from the Egyptian authorities. It is intended to frighten and punish the Palestinian peo- ple and all those who stand in solidarity with them. The Egyptian authorities at the crossing violated our basic human rights, a daily reality for Palestinians. The degrad- ing and the humiliating man- ner in which we were treated also violated our rights as women. During my time in Gaza, as in July 2006 in Lebanon, I endured a hellish assault and massacre designed to break a people but which once again only revealed the criminality of the apartheid regime and the complicity of the inter- national community. Gaza is our South Africa, our Guer- nica. The Palestinian peo- ple exceed their unworthy leadership, and if there is a victory it is that of the peo- ple who endured, who drank tea above the rubble of their destroyed homes, who still stand up high, steadfastly against their uprooted olive trees, against occupation, be- trayal, complicit silence, and neglect. Natalie Abou Shakra is an activist from Lebanon and is affiliated with the Interna- tional Solidarity Movement and Free Gaza Movement. She defied Israeli orders for Lebanese citizens not to go to Gaza and was able to get in with the Free Gaza move- ment’s SS Dignity on the 20 December 2008. In a bid to staunch the flow of damaging evidence of war crimes committed dur- ing Israel’s winter assault on Gaza, the Israeli government has launched a campaign to clamp down on human rights groups, both in Israel and abroad. It has begun by targeting one of the world’s leading rights organizations, the US- based Human Rights Watch (HRW), as well as a local group of dissident army vet- erans, Breaking the Silence, which last month published the testimonies of 26 combat soldiers who served in Gaza. Additionally, according to the Israeli media, the government is planning a “much more ag- gressive stance” towards hu- man rights groups working to help the Palestinians. Officials have questioned the sources of funding re- ceived by the organizations and threatened legislation to ban support from foreign governments, particularly in Europe. Breaking the Silence and other Israeli activists have responded by accusing the government of a “witch hunt” designed to intimidate them and starve them of the funds needed to pursue their investigations. “This is a very danger- ous step,” said Mikhael Man- nekin, one of the directors of Breaking the Silence. “Israel is moving in a very anti-dem- ocratic direction.” The campaign is reported to be the brainchild of the far-right foreign minister, Av- igdor Lieberman, currently facing corruption charges, but has the backing of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanya- hu. Early last month, Lieber- man used a press conference to accuse NGOs of replacing diplomats in setting the inter- national community’s agenda in relation to Israel. He also threatened reforms to curb the groups’ influence. Aweek later, Netanyahu’s office weighed in against Hu- man Rights Watch, heavily criticizing the organization for its recent fund-raising ac- tivities in SaudiArabia. HRW has pointed out that it only accepts private donations, and has not accepted Saudi government funds, but Israeli officials say all Saudi money is tainted and will compro- mise HRW’s impartiality as a human rights watchdog in its treatment of Israel. “A human rights organi- zation raising money in Sau- di Arabia is like a women’s rights group asking the Tali- ban for a donation,” Mark Regev, a government spokes- man, told the right-wing Is- raeli daily newspaper The Jerusalem Post. HRW recently published reports arguing that the Israe- li army had committed war crimes in Gaza, including the use of white phosphorus and attacking civilian targets. HRW is now facing concerted pressure from Jewish lobby groups and from leading Jew- ish journalists in the US to sever its ties with Saudi do- nors. According to the Israeli media, some Jewish donors in the US have also specified that their money be used for human rights investigations that do not include Israel. Meanwhile, Israel’s for- eign ministry is putting pres- sure on European govern- ments to stop funding many of Israel’s human rights groups. As a prelude to a clampdown, it has issued instructions to all its embassies abroad to ques- tion their host governments about whether they fund such activities. Last week the for- eign ministry complained to British, Dutch and Spanish diplomats about their support for Breaking the Silence. The testimonies collected from soldiers suggested the Israeli army had committed many war crimes in Gaza, including using Palestinians as human shields and firing white phosphorus shells over civilian areas. One soldier called the army’s use of fire- power “insane.” The Dutch government paid nearly 20,000 euros (ap- proximately $28,800) to the group to compile its Gaza re- port, while Britain funded its work last year to the tune of 40,000 pounds (approximate- ly $67,800). Israeli officials are re- ported to be discussing ways either to make it illegal for foreign governments to fund “political” organizations in Israel or to force such groups to declare themselves as “agents of a foreign govern- ment.” Jeff Halper, the head of the Israeli CommitteeAgainst House Demolitions, said the government’s position was opposed to decades-old de- velopments in human rights monitoring. ”Every dictator, from Hit- ler to Milosevic, has said that there must be no interference in their sovereign affairs, and that everyone else should butt out. But international law says human rights are universal and cannot be left to individual governments to interpret. The idea behind the Geneva Conventions is that the international community has a duty to be the watch- dog on human rights abuses wherever they occur.” Halper, whose organi- zation last year received 80,000 euros (approximately $115,000) from Spain to re- build demolished Palestinian homes, was arrested last year for sailing to Gaza with peace activists to break the siege of Gaza. Other groups reported to be in the foreign ministry’s sights are: B’Tselem, whose activities include providing Palestinians with cameras to record abuses by settlers and the army; Peace Now, which monitors settlement building; Machsom Watch, whose ac- tivists observe soldiers at the checkpoints; and Physicians for Human Rights, which has recently examined doctors’ complicity in torture. Jonathan Cook is a journalist based in Nazareth. AQSA NEWS Comments 13 Israel Moves To Declare Rights Groups As Foreign Agents Jonathan Cook “Who Will Hold us Accountable?” Natalie Abou Shakra
  14. 14. Dr. Mona El-Farra writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, 28 July 2009 As soon as I arrived home I felt a great relief, if that is the right word. I have been un- able to return to Gaza before because of Israel’s winter in- vasion and the ongoing siege. I am not sure that the word relief summarizes my intense and conflicting emotions. Mixed feelings of relief, hap- piness, but also disorientation continued to overwhelm me. Gaza my beautiful home, yes my beautiful home, my beau- tiful people, who are trying so hard to live. To continue from one day to another. De- spite the odds, the hardships, the deaf ears of the world. The same day I arrived home, 9 July, I could see from my balcony the rub- ble of what at one time was Yasser Arafat’s headquar- ters. The whole building was completely demolished, lev- elled to the ground, blowing out the windows on one side of my apartment building. It is the same place where one of my cousins was killed the first day of Israel’s assault in December. I now see a different Gaza, and it is not the Gaza I have known, it is like a city after an earthquake. Many of the historically important buildings were lev- elled to the ground. I decided to postpone my field visits to the different areas where the assaults were the most savage and brutal. I thought it might be a good idea to wait for the arrival of the delegation of US citizens who were due to cross the border. In the meantime, I met some dear friends and co- workers who came to say hel- lo. All of them were loaded with war stories and the panic they faced during the attacks against Gaza. One friend who was a political prisoner, who spent 15 years in the Israeli jails said to me, “I never felt afraid of anything there like the fear I felt this time.” I find it strange to even write this sentence, but while we Palestinians are determined to continue our struggle, the reality is that this assault against Gaza was severe and fierce, and cannot be forgot- ten - we will feel its effects as a people for a long time. Our friends from the US were only granted visas from Egypt to visit Gaza for 24 hours. As I waited I pon- dered, “How can we con- dense or begin to understand what children, women and men went through during 23 days of the assault in a 24 hours visit?” Upon the arrival of the Viva Palestina US delega- tion, I sat at the borders to receive the delegation with some colleagues from PNGO (Palestinian Non-Govern- mental Organizations’ Net- work). It was a touching and affectionate moment for me, to see American, British, and French activists of different ages and ethnicities united under one goal and voicing to the world: “Gaza you are not alone, you are not forgotten, despite the shameful stand of the governments of the world, we stand with you, the people of Gaza!” In the Nuseirat refugee camp, we were invited by New Horizons to see the ac- tivities of their project loosely translated as “Let them Play and Heal,” a program treating childhood trauma sponsored by MECA. The project in- volves activities for mothers and their children to help the children recover after the war trauma. There were around 500 kids, 6-12 years old boys and girls with their mothers attending. We had the chance to see the little faces of hun- dreds of happy children, sing- ing along with a traditional debka dance performance. We then visited the al- Bureeg School, where MECA has implemented water purifi- cation and desalinization sys- tems to provide clean drink- ing water for schoolchildren. This is one of three water treatment projects MECA has recently implemented in the refugee camps, and we aim to build many more with the help of our friends and allies. We then moved to the north and while the van was going on, we could clearly see many demolished homes everywhere, and tent cit- ies around the homes where families now lived. We could not miss the Zaytoun area, where one of the many tragic events of the war occurred at the home of the Samouni family. The van went through neighbour- hood after neighbourhood, through areas of vast destruc- tion. How can I convey to you what I have seen in the little faces, eyes of sadness mixed with hope and excite- ment? On top of that some of the kids who had broken or missing arms and legs, post-operative scars, who are living in the rubble of their former homes, and with their little voices they tried to tell us their stories. I listened to their stories. I stopped writing about the rest of our activities, the rest of our day, the rest of my re- turn home. At that moment I felt, and still feel, “I don’t want to hear or listen, I just want to cuddle these children and help them to forget.” But I want the world to remember what was done here in Gaza, and that those of who are picking up the pieces, as hard as we try, we cannot forget. Mona El-Farra is a physi- cian by training and a human rights and women’s rights activist in practice in the oc- cupied Gaza Strip. During the first few months of President Obama’s administration, despite a lack of any real pressure on Israel to stop its oppressive treatment of the Palestinian people, a rift is materializing between the new right wing Israeli government and the USA. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu public- ly stated that Israel would not accept “edicts” from Wash- ington, and also labelled two senior aides of Presi- dent Obama as “self-hating Jews”. The conflicts have arisen over Israel’s continued settle- mentbuilding,despiteinterna- tional condemnation of these activities. Israel has 2,500 settler homes under construc- tion within illegal settlements in the West Bank, despite US calls for a complete freeze on all settlement activity. Most independent com- mentators agree that the set- tlement expansions must stop in order for any new peace initiative to have a chance of succeeding. A fact that has irked Israel the most is the noises coming from the US of a possible unilateral US drawn peace plan for a two- state solution. However, the implementation of any such plan would be dependent on Israel’s willingness to com- ply, as it remains highly un- likely that steps will be taken to enforce such plans against Israel’s will. Despite the gen- tle pressure being exerted on Israel, the US still continues to supply a blank cheque for military and economic aid to Israel, and until this stops, it is unlikely that Israel will be- gin taking the ObamaAdmin- istration seriously. During the first national conference of the Palestinian Fatah Movement in 20 years, Mahmoud Abbas re-affirmed the right of Palestinians to resist against Israeli occu- pation. During the confer- ence, the Fatah Charter was renewed and now calls for the dismantling of all Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the return of Palestinian refugees. Where resistance is con- cerned, the charter encour- ages Fatah members to use peaceful means such as dem- onstrations and economic boycotts to pressure Israel, but also supports the Pales- tinian people’s “right to re- sistance to occupation in all its forms in line with interna- tional law.” RADIO RAMADHAN LEICESTER FRIENDS OF AL-AQSA PLEDGE DAY 2009 SUNDAY 23RD AUGUST 9AM - 8PM TUNE IN 87.7 FM ONLINE WWW.FMO.ORG.UK TUNE IN AND SUPPORT US AQSA NEWS 14 Homeward Bound: Gaza in 24 hours US / Israel Rift Fatah: Palestinians Have a Right to Resist
  15. 15. During the Ramadan Appeal 2008, many of you donated money towards des- perately needed renovations to be carried out at Masjid Al-Aqsa. Through the charity Muslim Hands, your money went towards reconstruc- tion of wudoo and bathroom facilities within the al-Aqsa Compound. Other work that was undertaken included re- fitting the walkway to make it safer for the congregation and fitting in a PA system. The work has been carried out and the improvements have made a big difference to everyone who is blessed enough to pray at Masjid al- Aqsa. The Zakaah Committee of Jerusalem have also issued a letter of thanks to everyone who donated to the project. Your donations have helped to renovate the bless- ed Masjid which Allah swt has exalted and made the only place on earth where all of His prophets have prayed in congregation. The above images show the progress made in the renova- tion of Masjid Al-Aqsa. The certificate below was issued by the Committee of Jerusalem The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “Whoever constructs a Masjid for Allah, Allah will construct for him a house in Paradise.” Bukhari and Muslim AQSA NEWS 15 Friends of Al-Aqsa Ramadan Appeal 2008 Comments in support of the Report ap- pear in the preface, and include.... Reports have come in from the UN, Al Aqsa, Amnesty International and from Israeli soldiers themselves, who were horrified by the orders they received. All confirmed the breach of International Law and Geneva Conventions by Israel. Baroness Tonge It is an intolerable affront to civilised values that the people of Gaza, already traumatised by the sustained firepower directed at them during Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead”, should still be suffering under a siege which prevents the replacement of damaged and destroyed homes, stops the repair of water and sewage systems and keeps the supply of fuel, food and medicines at a trickle. Dr Phyllis Starkey, MP Chair of the Select Committee for Communities and Local Government The Gaza conflict has left many casualties on both sides of the border. However, the biggest victims are always the children and Gaza is suffering from a generation of lost youth, traumatised beyond reason by the scale of disaster and war that they have witnessed. Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari Secretary General, MCB WAR CRIMES IN GAZA War Crimes in Gaza A report by Friends of Al-Aqsa into the history of Gaza, including Israel’s military assault in December 2008 and January 2009 To order your free copy, complete this form and return it to Friends of Al-Aqsa. The report is provided free of charge, but we welcome any donations. Name: Address: Postcode: Tel: Email: (please indicate if you would like this added to our mailing list for news, regular updates and events: yes/no (delete as appropriate) Please send me my free copy of the Gaza report, I enclose a cheque for £_______ towards postage (optional). Alternatively, send your details via email to and make a donation via paypal to