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How low will Israel stoop to win the propaganda war?

By Stuart Littlewood | September 15, 2009

“The Israel Project”, a US media advocacy group, has produced a revised training manual to help the worldwide Zionist movement win the propaganda war, keep their ill-gotten territorial gains and persuade international audiences to accept that their crimes are necessary and conform to “shared values” between Israel and the civilized West.

It’s a clever document.

The manual teaches how to justify the slaughter, the ethnic cleansing, the land-grabbing, the cruelty and the blatant disregard for international law and UN resolutions, and make it all smell sweeter with a liberal squirt of the aerosol of persuasive language. It is designed to hoodwink us ignorant and gullible Americans and Europeans into believing that we actually share values with the racist regime in Israel and that its abominable behaviour is therefore deserving of our support.

Israel is hoping for a public relations massacre. The other side – the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization – don’t take communications seriously and have neglected to correct Israeli distortion. They are happy, it seems, for Israel’s one-sided definitions to prevail, which of course makes the task for Israel so much easier. This latest propaganda offensive is potentially the “coup de grace” to finish off the tormented Palestinians. See it here.

And the manual will no doubt serve as a communications primer for the army of cyber-scribblers that Israel’s Ministry of Dirty Tricks is recruiting to spread Zionism’s poison across the internet.

This quote at the beginning sets the tone: “Remember, it’s not what you say that counts. It’s what people hear.”

Top priority: demonize Hamas

The manual’s numerous messages are aimed at the mass of “persuadables”, primarily in America but also in the UK. The strategy from the start is to isolate the democratically-elected Hamas and to rob the resistance movement and the Palestinian population of their human rights.

  • “Clearly differentiate between the Palestinian people and Hamas. There is an immediate and clear distinction between the empathy Americans feel for the Palestinians and the scorn they direct at Palestinian leadership. Hamas is a terrorist organization – Americans get that already. But if it sounds like you are attacking the Palestinian people (even though they elected Hamas) rather than their leadership, you will lose public support. Right now, many Americans sympathize with the plight of the Palestinians, and that sympathy will increase if you fail to differentiate the people from their leaders.”

The plight of the Palestinians under Israel’s heel was an international concern long before Hamas appeared on the scene.

But this is familiar ground. We scorned George Bush and Tony Blair and had to differentiate between them and their respective peoples. We now have to do the same with Barack Obama and Gordon Brown. We are tired of having to make that same differentiation between the Israeli people and the dreadful leaders they produce.

  • “ISRAEL’S RIGHT TO DEFENSIBLE BORDERS: With more than three years of violent history since Israel’s agreement to withdraw from Gaza and portions of the West Bank [sic], Americans have had time to take stock of the situation and form opinions. The big picture: they believe that Hamas’s leadership of Gaza has made Israel and the region less safe, while some are more receptive to what they perceive as a moderate approach in the West Bank by Mahmoud Abbas. Based on these experiences, they are willing to grant Israel more leeway in resisting calls to give more land for more peace.”

Here we clearly see the motive for demonizing Hamas – Israel wants more leeway to continue its land-grabs and other criminal activities.

  • “If… If… If… Then”: Put the burden on Hamas to make the first move for peace by using If’s (and don’t forget to finish with a hard then to show Israel is a willing peace partner). “If Hamas reforms… If Hamas recognize our right to exist… If Hamas renounces terrorism… If Hamas supports international peace agreements… then we are willing to make peace today.”

How one-sided and daft can you get? Substitute Israel for Hamas.

Words that work

The manual sets out numerous examples of “words that work” – supposedly.

  • “We know that the Palestinians deserve leaders who will care about the well being of their people, and who do not simply take hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance from America and Europe, put them in Swiss bank accounts, and use them to support terror instead of peace.”

No mention here of the billions of tax dollars Israel takes from the US and spends on munitions to obliterate and vaporize its neighbours.

  • “Peace can only be made with adversaries who want to make peace with you. Terrorist organizations like Iran-backed Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad are, by definition, opposed to peaceful co-existence, and determined to prevent reconciliation. I ask you, how do you negotiate with those who want you dead?”

Hamas and Hezbollah are only regarded as terrorists by the White House and Tel Aviv and by US-Israeli stooges and flag-wavers in Westminster and elsewhere.

In Executive Order 13224 – “BLOCKING PROPERTY AND PROHIBITING TRANSACTIONS WITH PERSONS WHO COMMIT, THREATEN TO COMMIT, OR SUPPORT TERRORISM” – Bush used this definition: “The term “terrorism” means an activity that –

(i) involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life, property, or infrastructure; and
(ii) appears to be intended —
(A) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(B) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(C) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, kidnapping, or hostage-taking
.”

It describes the antics of the US and Israel perfectly.

  • “There is NEVER, EVER, any justification for the deliberate slaughter of innocent women and children. NEVER… there is one fundamental principle that all peoples from all parts of the globe will agree on: civilized people do not target innocent women and children for death.”

Quite so. Where does that leave Israel, which recently killed 320 children in Gaza and 773 civilians, including 109 women? From 2000 (the start of the second Intifada – the Palestinian urising against the Israeli occupation) up to the end of last year Israel had slaughtered 4,936 Palestinians in their homeland, including 952 children, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. In the same period Palestinians killed 490 Israelis in Israel including only 84 children. So, Israel’s kill-rate is at least 10 to 1, and rising since the blitzkrieg on Gaza.

Iran-backed or US-backed – take your pick

  • “Use humility. ‘I know that in trying to defend its children and citizens from terrorists that Israel has accidentally hurt innocent people. I know it, and I’m sorry for it. But what can Israel do to defend itself? If America had given up land for peace – and that land had been used for launching rockets at America, what would America do? Israel was attacked with thousands of rockets from Iran-backed Palestinian terrorists in Gaza. What should Israel have done to protect her children?’”

Palestinians too have a right to defend themselves. Hamas was the popular choice of Palestinians at the last election and is entitled under international law to take up arms against an illegal occupier and invader. If it is supported by Iran, so what? Israel is extravagantly funded and supplied by the US. Here’s part of their begging-bowl “Military Aid Speech”:

  • “Israel makes the request for military assistance out of self-defense. As a democracy, they have the right and the responsibility to protect our borders. As a democracy, they have the right and the responsibility to protect their citizens.
  • “Israel does not ask for US troops to protect itself. It does not ask for a single American soldier to protect its borders. It only asks for the funds for them to protect themselves. They need the equipment so that their own troops can ensure the safety of their civilian population through this gathering conflict with the enemies of democracy.
  • “They didn’t ask to have our nation built in range of Iranian missiles. They didn’t ask that their nation be a focal point for religious extremists who have declared war on the West and on democracy.
  • “But they are, and they need your help.”

And here’s the rationale behind it:

  • “Americans fundamentally believe that a democracy has a right to protect its people and its borders. And while Americans don’t want to increase foreign aid in a time of significant budgetary deficits and painful spending cuts, there is one and only one argument that will work for Israel (in four easy steps):

(1) As a democracy, Israel has the right and the responsibility to defend its borders and protect its people.

(2) Terrorist groups, including Iran-backed Hezbollah and Hamas, continue to pose a direct threat to Israeli security and have repeatedly taken innocent Israeli lives.

(3) Israel is America’s one and only true ally in the region. In these particularly unstable and dangerous times, Israel should not be forced to go it alone.

(4) With America’s financial assistance, Israel can defend its borders, protect its people, and provide invaluable assistance to the American effort against the war against terrorism.”

It’s evident that Americans don’t believe in democracy enough to allow Palestinian democracy to flourish.

  • “When the terror ends, Israel will no longer need to have challenging checkpoints to inspect goods and people. When the terror ends we will no longer need a security fence.”

There are no rockets coming out of the West Bank, so why is the security fence still there – and still being built? Why are the occupation troops still there? Why are hundreds of checkpoints still there? Why is Israel still stealing land, demolishing Palestinian homes and building settlements there?

  • “Remind people – again and again – that Israel wants peace.

Reason One: If Americans see no hope for peace – if they only see a continuation of a 2,000-year-long episode of “Family Feud” – Americans will not want their government to spend tax dollars or their president’s clout on helping Israel.

Reason Two: The speaker that is perceived as being most for PEACE will win the debate. Every time someone makes the plea for peace, the reaction is positive. If you want to regain the public relations advantage, peace should be at the core of whatever message you wish to convey.”

Israel has never met its peace agreement obligations. It doesn’t want peace – every action is directed at keeping the conflict going until the Israelis have stolen enough land and established enough ‘facts on the ground’ – Jews-only settlements, highways, disconnected Palestinian bantustans – to enable them to redraw the map to suit their expansionist agenda and make the occupation PERMANENT.

Gaza in a vice

  • “Israel made painful sacrifices and took a risk to give peace a chance. They voluntarily removed over 9,000 settlers from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, abandoning homes, schools, businesses and places of worship in the hopes of renewing the peace process. Despite making an overture for peace by withdrawing from Gaza, Israel continues to face terrorist attacks, including rocket attacks and drive-by shootings of innocent Israelis. Israel knows that for a lasting peace, they must be free from terrorism and live with defensible borders.”

Israel never left. It still occupies Gazan airspace, coastal waters and airwaves, and controls all borders except Rafah where it nevertheless exerts a veto. Israel has Gaza in a vice, which is crushing the tiny enclave’s economy, starving its 1.5 million citizens and creating a huge humanitarian crisis in an attempt to bring the elected government to its knees.

  • “Draw direct parallels between Israel and America – including the need to defend against terrorism… The more you focus on the similarities between Israel and America, the more likely you are to win the support of those who are neutral. Indeed, Israel is an important American ally in the war against terrorism, and faces many of the same challenges as America in protecting their citizens.”

Note how Israel’s strategy is almost totally dependent on the false idea that they are victims of terror and Western nations need to huddle together with Israel for mutual protection. Fortunately, level-headed people are beginning to realize who the terrorists really are.

It must be blindingly obvious by now that allowing parallels to be drawn between Israel and America only serves to increase the world’s hatred of America. US citizens need to wake up to this, and British citizens should avoid falling into the same trap.

Inject with “core values” and repeat over and over again…

  • “The language of Israel is the language of America: ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’, ‘security’, and ‘peace’. These four words are at the core of the American political, economic, social and cultural systems, and they should be repeated as often as possible because they resonate with virtually every American.”

If so fluent in this language, why doesn’t Israel acknowledge its neighbours’ rights to democracy, freedom, security and peace and end their military oppression?

  • “A simple rule of thumb is that once you get to the point of repeating the same message over and over again so many times that you think you might get sick – that is just about the time the public will wake up and say ‘Hey – this person just might be saying something interesting to me!’ But don’t confuse messages with facts…”

Never let facts get in the way of a good message!

  • “How can the current Palestinian leadership honestly say it will pursue peace when previous leaders rejected an offer to create a Palestinian state just a few short years ago and now refuse to live up to their responsibilities as outlined in the Road Map?”

This must be a reference to Ehud Barak’s so-called “generous offer”, another of the myths Israelis love to peddle. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip, seized by Israel in 1967 and occupied ever since, comprise just 22 per cent of pre-partition Palestine. When the Palestinians signed the Oslo Agreement in 1993 they agreed to accept the 22 per cent and to recognize Israel within “Green Line” borders (i.e. the 1949 armistice line established after the Arab-Israeli war). Conceding 78 per cent of the land that was originally theirs was an astonishing compromise on the part of the Palestinians.

But it wasn’t enough for greedy Barak. His “generous offer” required the inclusion of 69 Israeli settlements within the 22 per cent remnant. It was plain to see on the map that these settlement blocs created impossible borders and already severely disrupted Palestinian life in the West Bank. Barak also demanded the Palestinian territories be placed under “temporary Israeli control”, meaning Israeli military and administrative control indefinitely. The “generous offer” also gave Israel control over all the border crossings of the new Palestinian state. What nation in the world would accept that? The unacceptable reality of Barak’s offer, contained in the map, was hidden by propaganda spin.

Later, at Taba, Barak produced a revised map but withdrew it after his election defeat. Don’t take my word for it – the facts are well documented and explained by organizations such as Israel’s Gush Shalom.

  • “Why is the world so silent about the written, vocal, stated aims of Hamas?

And why is the world so silent about the written, stated aims of the racist regime and its political parties? Read their manifestos.

  • “Successful communications is not about being able to recite every fact from the long history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is about pointing out a few core principles of shared values – such as democracy and freedom – and repeating them over and over again… You need to start with empathy for both sides, remind your audience that Israel wants peace and then repeat the messages of democracy, freedom, and peace over and over again… we need to repeat the message, on average, 10 times to be effective.”

Is democracy a shared value? Israel is an ethnocracy not a democracy. Is freedom a shared value? The world is still waiting for Israel to allow the Palestinians their freedom.

  • “The situation in the Middle East may be complicated, but all parties should adopt a simple approach: peace first, political boundaries second.”

Renounce resistance while still under Israel’s jackboot? The correct approach is for the international community to insist first that Israel complies with international law and the many UN resolutions it has contemptuously ignored. The boundaries are already defined. Whatever issues remain to be decided, Palestinians should not have to negotiate under occupation or duress.

Rockets, bombs and atrocities: the language of peace

  • “Bottom line: What will happen if we fail to get the world to care about the fact that Israeli parents in southern Israel need to literally dodge rockets when they drive their children to kindergarten in the morning? What will happen if the world allows Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, to get nuclear weapons? What will Israel do if bad press causes American citizens to ask [their] government to turn its back on Israel? Why do I care so much about the success of your communications efforts? I care because I never want our children to live through what my family and yours lived through in the Holocaust.”

Only one in 500 makeshift Qassam rockets causes a fatality, small beer compared to the devastation and carnage resulting from Israel’s state-of-the-art rocketry targeted on Gaza. How does it look when Palestinians are forced to pay the price for the Holocaust? And how much does Israel care about the Palestinian holocaust it has caused?

The manual then gives a long glossary of terms. Here’s a sample:

  • “Deliberately firing rockets into civilian communities”: Combine terrorist motive with civilian visuals and you have the perfect illustration of what Israel faced in Gaza and Lebanon. Especially with regard to rocket attacks but useful for any kind of terrorist attack, deliberate is the right word to use to call out the intent behind the attacks. This is far more powerful than describing the attacks as “random”.

Israelis know all about bombarding civilian targets. And they are careful not to mention that Sderot, until recently the only Israeli township within range of Gazan rockets, is built on the ruins of an ethnically cleansed Palestinian village whose inhabitants were forced from their homes by Jewish terrorists.

  • “Economic Diplomacy”: This is a much more embracing and popular term than the current lexicon of “sanctions”. It has appeal across the political spectrum: the tough economic approach appeals to Republicans, and the diplomacy component satisfies Democrats.

We can all play this game. Israel is now beginning to suffer “economic diplomacy” in the form of worldwide boycotts.

  • “Economic Prosperity”: Whenever Israel talks about the “economic prosperity” of the Palestinians, it puts Israel in the most positive light possible. After all, who can disagree?

What sort of prosperity is it when nothing can be imported or exported without Israel’s approval and fisherman can’t even put to sea in their own waters without having their boats shot up by the Israeli navy?

  • “Human to Human”: “We know that the average Palestinian and the average Israeli want to come together and make peace. They want to live in peace. Israeli leaders have come together with Arab leaders to make peace in the past. But how do you make peace with Hamas and Hezbollah?”

Simple. You get off their land and stay off. There can be no peace under occupation. You have to be very stupid not to understand that.

  • Humanize Rockets”: Paint a vivid picture of what life is like in Israeli communities that are vulnerable to attack. Yes, cite the number of rocket attacks that have occurred. But immediately follow that up with what it is like to make the nightly trek to the bomb shelter.

Would Israel care to tell the world how many bombs, rockets and shells (including the illegal and prohibited variety) its US-supplied F-16s, tanks, armed drones and navy gunboats have poured into the densely-packed humanity that is Gaza?

Still more advice…

  • “Living together, side by side”. This is the best way to describe the ultimate vision of a two-state solution without using the phrase.

Sounds cute but is worn out. Who would want to live alongside bigots and extremists who have made your life a misery for 61 years?

  • “When talking about a Palestinian partner, it is essential to distinguish between Hamas and everyone else. Only the most anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian American expects Israel to negotiate with Hamas, so you have to be clear that you are seeking a ‘moderate Palestinian partner’.”

Where are the moderate Israeli partners?

  • “The fight is over IDEOLOGY – not land; terror, not territory. Thus, you must avoid using Israel’s religious claims to land as a reason why Israel should not give up land. Such claims only make Israel look extremist to people who are not religious Christians or Jews.”

If the fight isn’t about land, why did Israel steal it at gunpoint? And why won’t they give it back when told to by the UN?

  • “Think PRO-PALESTINIAN. While I have spoken about Israeli casualties, I want to recognize those Palestinians that have been killed or wounded, because they are suffering as well. I particularly want to reach out to Palestinian mothers who have lost their children. No parent should have to bury their child.”

Israel won’t even allow cement into Gaza to build the graves.

  • “And so I say to my Palestinian colleagues … you can stop the bloodshed. You can stop the suicide bombings and rocket attacks. If you really want to, you can put an end to this cycle of violence. If you won’t do it for our children, do it for your children.”

Effective Israeli sound bite. Speechless.

  • “I want to see a future where the Palestinians govern themselves. Israel does not want to govern a single Palestinian. Not one. We want them to govern themselves. We want them to have complete self-determination.”

Is that why Israel tried to snuff out Palestine’s democracy – and the people’s right to self-determination – immediately after the 2006 elections?

  • “The big picture approach is this: You must isolate Hamas as:

– A critical cause of the delay in achieving a two-state solution

– The biggest source of harm to the Palestinian people, and

– The reason why Israel must defend its people from living in terror.

Read from the Hamas Charter. Now, here’s how to attack Hamas: indict them with their own indoctrination materials. Yes, people know Hamas is a terrorist organization – but they don’t know just how terrifying Hamas can be. The absolute best way to heighten their awareness is to read from the Hamas Charter itself. Don’t just “quote” from it. Read it. Out loud. Again and again. Hand it out to everyone.”

At last Israel makes a good point. After three years of “government” Hamas must be mad to persist with its ill-advised charter. They have been severely tested. They have matured. They have earned credibility in many eyes. Israel’s behaviour makes Hamas look good. But all that will count for nothing if they don’t rewrite their charter as a matter of urgency.

Regev’s pearls of wisdom. But how safe is the region under the threat of Israel’s nukes?

  • “It’s not just Israel who refuses to speak to Hamas. It’s the whole international community… Most of the democratic world refuses to have a relationship with Hamas because Hamas has refused to meet the most minimal benchmarks of international behaviour.” Mark Regev

Isn’t that a little cheeky, Mr Regev, coming from a regime widely condemned for war crimes, piracy and mega-lawlessness?

  • “It was the former UN secretary-general, Kofi Anan, that put four benchmarks on the table. And he said, speaking for the international community…

That if Hamas reforms itself …

If Hamas recognizes my country’s right to live in freedom…

If Hamas renounces terrorism against innocent civilians…

If Hamas supports international agreements that are being signed and agreed to concerning the peace process… then the door is open. But unfortunately – tragically – Hamas has failed to meet even one of those four benchmarks. And that’s why today Hamas is isolated internationally. Even the United Nations refuses to speak to Hamas. – Mark Regev

Which of those benchmarks has Israel met, Mr Regev?

  • “Israel is very concerned about the Iranian nuclear programme. And for good reason. Iran’s president openly talks about wiping Israel off the map. We see them racing ahead on nuclear enrichment so they can have enough fissile material to build a bomb. We see them working on their ballistic missiles. We only saw, last week, shooting a rocket to launch a so-called satellite into outer space and so forth. The Iranian nuclear programme is a threat, not just to my country, but to the entire region. And it’s incumbent upon us all to do what needs to be done to keep from proliferating.” – Mark Regev

Why is Israel the only state in the region not to have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Mr Regev? Are we all supposed to believe that Israel’s 200 (or is it 400?) nuclear warheads pose no threat? Would you also like to comment on why Israel hasn’t signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, and why it has signed but not ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, similarly the Chemical Weapons Convention? What proof do you have of Iran’s nuclear weapons plans?

And why do you persist in misquoting Mr Ahmadinejad?

The Holy City is not up for grabs

  • “The toughest issue to communicate will be the final resolution of Jerusalem. Americans overwhelmingly want Israel to be in charge of the religious holy sites and are frankly afraid of the consequences should Israel turn over control to the Palestinians. Consider:

– 71 per cent of Americans trust Israel most to protect the holy sites in Jerusalem, compared to 6.1 per cent who trust the Palestinian authority most. 8.5 per cent per cent trust neither.

– 54 per cent of Americans believe that ‘Jerusalem must remain united under Israeli sovereignty’ while just 23.9 per cent believe that ‘Jerusalem should be divided into Israeli controlled and Palestinian controlled areas’.

Given the choice between the two, Americans of all political and demographic stripes trust Israel to protect and have sovereignty over Jerusalem.”

Israel is in control right now and prevents Muslims and Christians from outside the city visiting the holy places. No way can Israel be trusted. The UN’s partition plan decreed that Jerusalem should become a ”corpus separatum” under international management. It is unlikely that the UN would wish to see its resolutions torn up or international law rewritten for Israel’s sole benefit, regardless of America’s misinformed opinion.

Get the name-calling right

I’ll close with the following extract:

  • Many on the left see an ‘Israel vs. Palestinian’ crisis where Israel is Goliath and the Palestinians are David. It is critical that they understand that this is an Arab-Israeli crisis and that the force undermining peace is Iran and their proxies Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. You must not call Hamas just Hamas. Call them what they are: Iran-backed Hamas. Indeed, when they know that Iran is behind Hamas and Hezbollah, they are much more supportive of Israel.”

By the same token we must call the racist regime what it is – US-backed Israel.

Iran’s support for Hamas is difficult to quantify and probably less than we think. More funding has probably come from Sunni Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In any case, it is peanuts compared to America’s support for Israel.

Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and was founded in 1987 during the first Intifada. Hezbollah came into being in 1982 in response to US-backed Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. So, the territorial ambitions of US-backed Israel provoked the rise of both. Israel’s problem is entirely self-inflicted and shouldn’t concern the rest of us.

Hamas’s election manifesto in 2006 called for maintaining the armed struggle against US-backed Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, which seems a perfectly valid aim.

Our obligation to respect and promote human rights

The Israel Project’s training manual is an unpleasant piece of work. It runs to 116 pages and I have only scratched the surface. It recycles many of the discredited techniques used by the advertising industry before standards of honesty, decency and truthfulness were brought in to protect the public.

And it serves to undermine with clever words the inalienable rights pledged by the UN and the world’s civilized nations to all peoples, including the Palestinians.

When you have to stoop this low you simply don’t have a case.

The Palestinian side urgently needs to strip away the deception and re-frame the Holy Land situation in truthful language. And it needs to debunk this Zionist handbook. If the PA and the PLO won’t do it, who will?

Everyone should bear in mind the following, written nearly 61 years ago:

“Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.”

It would seem that Israel has not read or understood the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which all nations signed up to. Attempts to wipe out the rights of people who happen to be in the way of the Zionist vision of a “Greater Israel” deserve no support whatever.

March 29, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Water Apartheid in Palestine – A Crime Against Humanity

By Ayman Rabi | The Ecologist | March 22, 2014

This week the UN celebrated World Water Day - a day to remember the billion people who are unable to meet their needs for safe, clean water due to drought, poverty and official neglect.

But it’s also a day to remember, and fight for, 2.1 million Palestinians who suffer something different – an artificial water scarcity deliberately created and sustained by Israel’s military occupation, and the private Israeli water company Mekorot.

Increased international pressure brings hope that the tide may be finally turning for Palestinians striving for water justice in the West Bank and Gaza – in particular, recent investment and partnership decisions against Mekarot, which runs Israel’s discriminatory water policy in the West Bank.

Waterless in Gaza and East Jerusalem

The situation in Gaza is especially dire. The tiny, densely populated territory relies entirely on its depleted, saltwater-contaminated and sewage-polluted aquifer, and the water it produces is unfit for consumption. Water has to be bought, expensively, in bottles or from mobile tanks.

Moreover restrictions on fuel imports mean that Gaza’s single power station spends most of its time idle – and so long as it’s not running water and sewage cannot be pumped. So the taps are dry, toilets are blocked, and sewage pollution gets worse.

Not that Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem have it a lot better. As reported on 17th March, the city suffered a long water cut beginning on 4th March leaving Ras Shehada, Ras Khamis, Dahyat A’salam and the Shuafat refugee camp – cut off from the rest of the city by the separation wall – with no running water.

The reason is simple – old and inadequate water infrastructure, which there are no plans to improve or renew.

Oslo II Accords – the Palestinians were shafted

For West Bank as a whole the facts speak for themselves. The Oslo II Accords dealt Palestinians a singularly poor hand - limiting the volume of water it could produce, as well as imposing severe restrictions on the development and maintenance of Palestinian water infrastructure.

The Accords allow Palestinians to abstract only 118 million cubic meters (mcm) per year from boreholes, wells, springs and precipitation in the West Bank. But Israel is allowed to take four times as much – 483 mcm per year – from the same Palestinian resources.

So not only does Israel now occupy 80% of the area of historic Palestine, but it – via the water company Mekarot – also takes 80% of the water resources from the 20% of the land that is left to the Palestinians.

Sold down the river

But it gets worse. Oslo II’s draconian restrictions on water development imposed by Israel mean that Palestinians can only actually abstract 87 mcm in the West Bank, of the 118 mcm they are allowed.

The acute water deficit is made up by the supply of piped water from Israel. Mekarot currently sells the Palestinian Water Authority some 60 mcm per year – at full price.

As reported by Amira Hass in Ha’aretz, “in that agreement Israel imposed a scandalously uneven, humiliating and infuriating division of the water resources”.

While Palestinian water is piped into Israel at no cost, a fraction of it is then piped back again, and paid for. In this way Israel is extracting from Palestinians both their water, and their money.

In some cases Palestinians are forced to pay ten times more for their water than the price in Tel Aviv – as in the village of Sussia on South Mount Hebron, where they have to drive to the nearby town to buy over-priced water (see photo), even though a water main passes directly through the village on its way to an Israeli settlement.

Water plenty, and water famine

According to the UN Human Rights Council, this all translates into a wide disparity between water use by Palestinians and by settlers in the West Bank. Settlers enjoy 400 litres per capita per day (l/c/d) while some Palestinians survive on a little as 10 l/c/d.

All Palestinian populations receive water volumes far below the level recommended by the World Health Organization of 100 – 250 l/c/d. According to the UNHRC:

“Settlements benefit from enough water to run farms and orchards, and for swimming pools and spas, while Palestinians often struggle to access the minimum water requirements.

“Some settlements consume around 400 l/c/d, whereas Palestinian consumption is 73 l/c/d, and as little as 10-20 l/c/d for Bedouin communities which depend on expensive and low quality tanker water.”

These very low levels of water provision fail to meet the water needs of many Palestinian communities – leaving them with often contaminated water, and not enough of it.

While Palestinian water use may just exceed 70 l/c/d in the relatively well served urban centers of the West Bank, it drops much lower in rural areas that have no access to piped water and depend on wells and rainwater collection.

An estimated 113,000 Palestinians in the West Bank have no piped water supply, while hundreds of thousands more have only intermittent supply, especially in the summer.

Additional restrictions

The restrictions and limitations imposed on Palestinians to access their own resources and develop them have exacerbated the already severe water shortages among Palestinian communities.

Among the restrictions are limits on the size of supply pipe, intended to limit flows as a form of rationing. Typically 30% of the water leaks from Palestinian supply pipes – because Israel refuses to allow their renewal

In ‘Area C’, which covers 60% of the area of the West Bank, Palestinian farmers and communities are not allowed to connect to the water network that serves the growing settlements – and are forbidden even to dig out cisterns.

The international community considers the establishment of Israeli settlements in the Israeli-occupied territories illegal under international law, as set out in the report of the fact finding mission of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Yet the construction of new illegal Israeli settlements and ‘outposts’, and the expansion of existing ones, is proceeding apace – and further reducing the quantity of water allocated to Palestinians.

Your water or your life

As reported by the UN in March 2012, another threat arises from settlers seizing springs by force: “Palestinians have increasingly lost access to water sources in the West Bank as a result of the takeover of springs by Israeli settlers, who have used threats, intimidation and fences to ensure control of water points close to the settlements.”

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) examined 60 springs on Palestinian land close to Israeli settlements. They found that:

“In 22 of the water sources, Palestinians have been deterred from accessing the springs by acts of intimidation, threats and violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers, while in the eight springs under full settler control, Palestinian access has been prevented by physical obstacles, including the fencing of the spring area, and its ‘de facto annexation’ to the settlement.”

Violence and destruction may also come directly from the occupation authorities. “Destruction of water infrastructure, including rainwater cisterns, by Israeli authorities has increased since the beginning of 2010; double in 2012 compared to 2011.

“The denial of water is used to trigger displacement, particularly in areas slated for settlement expansion, especially since these communities are mostly farmers and herders who depend on water for their livelihoods.

“A number of testimonies highlighted that the cutting off from water resources often precedes dispossession of lands for new settlement projects.”

Mekorot – at the heart of Israel’s water apartheid

All Israeli settlements in the West Bank are connected to piped water supplied by Israeli water company Mekorot, which took over responsibility for the water resources of the West Bank from the occupying forces in 1982.

Thus it Mekarot which is both the on-the-ground enforcer, and the economic beneficiary, of the West Bank’s ‘water apartheid’.

As the UN Human Rights Council reports: “In the Jordan Valley, deep water drillings by the Israeli national water company Mekorot and the agro-industrial company Mehadrin have caused Palestinian wells and springs to dry up. Eighty per cent of the total water resources drilled in the area is consumed by Israel and the settlements.”

“The lack of availability of Palestinian water resources has led to chronic shortages among Palestinian communities in Area C and a dependence on Mekorot … Mekorot supplies almost half the water consumed by Palestinian communities.

Restricted access

The UNHRC also reported that Palestinians do not have access to the cheaper ‘recycled water’ available to Israeli settlements, and have to buy more expensive drinking water even for irrigation purposes.

This injustice and inequity of access to water supply has always been a source of tension, especially when Palestinian villagers see water pipes leading to Israeli colonies passing through their land without supplying their village with water – as reported above at Sussia.

“The Mission heard of situations where villagers must travel several kilometres to get water when closer water resources serve neighbouring settlements”, reported UNHRC.

And even when they do get water, they receive second class treatment. “In the event of a water shortage, valves supplying Palestinian communities are turned off; this does not happen for settlements.

‘Week of Action Against Mekorot’

Mekorot violates international law and colludes in resource grabbing -including pillaging water resources in Palestine. It supplies this pillaged water to illegal Israeli settlements, and engages in systematic discrimination and denial of water to the Palestinian population.

For this reason Palestinian organizations including PENGON / Friends of the Earth Palestine have co-organised a ‘Stop Mekorot‘ week of action starting today, on World Water Day.

The campaign aims to intensify pressure on governments and companies to boycott Mekorot and hold the company accountable for its discriminatory water policies and practices in Palestine.

On March 20, the environmental federation Friends of the Earth International announced its support for the campaign against the discriminatory practices of Mekorot – joining the global call on governments, public and private utility companies and investors worldwide to avoid or terminate all contracts and cooperation agreements with Mekorot.

Campaign successes

In December 2013 the largest drinking water supplier in the Netherlands, Vitens, set a precedent when it decided that its commitment to international law meant it had to withdraw from a cooperation agreement with Mekorot. According to the company:

“Vitens attaches great importance to integrity and adhering to international laws and regulations. Following consultation with stakeholders, the company came to the realization that it is extremely difficult to continue joint work on projects, as they cannot be separated from the political environment.”

Mekorot suffered another blow this week when authorities in Buenos Aires, Argentina, suspended a proposed $170m water treatment plant deal.

The decision followed a campaign by local trade unions and human rights groups which highlighted Mekorot’s role in Israel’s theft of Palestinian water resources – and raised the prospect that Mekorot might export its discriminatory water policies to Argentina.

Palestinians must have their rightful share of available resources and be granted full authority to manage them properly. Equitable and wise use of available resources among all people is the only basis for lasting peace in the region.

And until then the deliberate, systematic, purposeful water discrimination and resource theft carried out in Occupied Palestine by the Occupation and Mekorot must be recognised for what they are – crimes against humanity. The perpetrators must be punished accordingly.

March 26, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

UN official: Israeli blockade on Gaza ‘illegal and must be lifted’

MEMO | March 26, 2014

Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Filippo Grandi yesterday called on Israel and Egypt to lift the siege that has been imposed on the Gaza Strip for more than half a decade.

Grandi said the siege on the Gaza Strip is considered the longest in history; longer than that of Sarajevo, Berlin and Leningrad.

The UNRWA official acknowledged Israeli and Egyptian security concerns but insisted that the plight of about 1.8 million residents in the Strip also needs to be considered.

He said that the Rafah Crossing has been closed for the seventh consecutive week and it is necessary to remind Egypt of its obligations towards patients and students who are in desperate need to travel.

“I think the world should not forget about the security of the people of Gaza,” he said. “Their security is worth the same as everybody else’s security so we appeal to the humanitarian sense of all.”

Grandi called the Israeli blockade on Gaza “illegal and [it] must be lifted”. He said that there are infrastructure projects run by the UNRWA worth $150 million. These projects are suspended until Israel lifts the siege, further harming the Palestinians.

“I also want to make a strong appeal for export to resume because the lack of export is the main reason for the poverty of Gaza,” Grandi said.

The official, who is leaving his office next week, said that the Gaza Strip has been suffering from a dangerous water problem, citing data mentioned in the UN 2020 report.

March 26, 2014 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fake Jewish Tolerance vs Vile Israeli Aggression

By Gilad Atzmon • August 3, 2009

How many times have we heard about Islam, Muslims and Arabs being slammed for being reactionary on Gay Rights? How many times have we seen political lobbies mobilizing to address Gay Rights issues against Muslim and Arab states and institutions? Interestingly enough, it is actually in the Jewish state where Gays are murdered on the street. Two days ago in Tel Aviv, the Jewish metropolis that insists upon regarding itself as an international Gay capital proved to be a pretty dangerous place for people who happen to be homosexuals.

In fact, the attack on the Gay community in Tel Aviv should not take us by surprise. The Jewish state, in spite of its relentless effort to prove otherwise, is one of the least tolerant places on this planet. It is fuelled by hatred towards others and Otherness. Its politicians are defined particularly by their level of cruelty towards Palestinians.

As much as the Israelis do love to see themselves as being ‘tolerant and liberal’, they hate their neighbors and would implement the most murderous lethal tactics against them. At the end of the day, it shouldn’t take us by a complete surprise that in a country that pours white phosphorous on civilians and starves millions behind barbed wire, some people develop deadly inclinations.

The Jewish state is founded on negation. It hates everything that fails to be Jewish. It hates Arabs, it hates the Palestinians, it hates the Goyim, it hates criticism, it hates Islam, it hates the Pope, it hates Christianity. You name it, they hate it. As it happens, all it takes to hate Gays is for someone out there to think that Gay is not Jewish enough. And in fact it isn’t. It is as non-Jewish as much as democracy and tolerance are totally foreign to the spirit of Jewishness.

A list of prominent Israeli leaders rushed yesterday to promote the fake notion of Jewish tolerance. Amongst them was opposition leader Tzipi Livni who just eight month ago flattened Gaza directly over its inhabitants. “We need to give strength to the child who comes to his parents and says: ‘I am gay,’ or ‘I am a lesbian;’ said Livni. Seemingly, just eight months ago, the same Livni didn’t care much about the hundreds of children that were slaughtered in a criminal war she was enthusiastically pushing for. She appeared to not care much about the thousands of kids who were severely injured and broken for life.

Another Israeli prominent War Criminal, the man who introduced WMDs to the region is no other than President Shimon Peres. “The shocking murder in Tel Aviv last night,” he said, “is the kind of murder that an enlightened and cultured people cannot accept.” The man who prides himself as an enlightened and cultured Jewish ambassador is actually personally responsible for more Palestinian death and carnage than any other living politician.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, one of the least tolerant leaders ever also had something to say about tolerance: “we are a democratic and tolerant country and we must respect every person as he is.” I can only wish the Israeli PM would find the courage to listen to his own words next time he evicts Palestinians from their soil and dwellings.

This is really the crux of the matter. Israel is only tolerant symbolically. It is engaged solely in pseudo manifestations of liberalism, it is a ‘kind of’ a democracy, it is ‘kind of’ an open society, it is ‘kind of’ a broadminded society. The more it praises itself for being tolerant and liberal, the more aggression is brewing within. The more open it pretends to be, the more murderous it becomes for real.

This may explain how it is that in such a ‘tolerant society’ 94% of the population supported the slaughter of the Palestinians in the last Israeli campaign in Gaza. This may explain also how it is that in a ‘tolerant’ society, sightseers flocked to the Gaza border to watch their army spreading death en masse.

The repellent duality between fake ‘tolerance’ and vile aggression is the outcome of an unauthentic Jewish fictitious national fantasy. A fantasy that is grounded in mimicking some Western ideologies that are totally foreign to Jewish ideology (religious and secular). Tolerance, democracy and liberalism are foreign to Jewish political precepts which are all racially orientated and supremacist to the bone.

For those who cannot see it yet, Zionist aggression is turning against itself. Israel is imploding.

Source

March 20, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Open letter from Gaza to Neil Young

Dear Neil

We are Palestinian students and youth from the besieged Gaza Strip; we write to you now on a night engulfed by huge explosions ripping through our houses and neighborhoods again, more common than the thunder and hard rain also filling the night air.

And now we hear you plan on playing your inspiring music to a packed house in Hayarkon Park, Tel Aviv, a park built on the ruins of the Palestinian village Al Mirr, a land and people, destroyed and buried amidst unspeakable violence, but not forgotten. The residents of that Palestinian village and hundreds of other villages forcibly emptied by the nascent Israeli army, were either killed or denied return, denied the chance to even visit or commemorate the lives they once had. (1)

While the world turns its back, we hope that you don’t turn yours, that you heed the call of over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations, for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the Israeli regime until it abides by international law and stops denying us the right to live as any other human beings would expect. Just as you didn’t perform in Apartheid South Africa, just as you stood up against racism in the US South, just as you have so admirably supported indigenous rights in Canada against the drilling for Tar Sands, we ask you to support indigenous, displaced people wherever they may be, including we Palestinians. The words of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association in their recent move to boycott the Israeli regime echo the struggle for indigenous rights in America. (2)

As this letter is penned the sound of more Israeli bombing reverberates around the tight refugee camps and narrow alleys where we live. The camps are in complete darkness as the electricity has been cut. The Israeli siege and previous bombing of our only power-plant has lead to huge fuel shortages, leaving us with just 6 hours of electricity each day. This is just one night, but it is comparable to many other nights in Gaza, many worse nights. We are used to facing the wrath of Israeli Merkhava tanks, drones, shellings, bombs and snipers that have brutally murdered and maimed our people for decades, for the crime of being born Palestinians, the wrong “ethnic group” for the Israeli regime who since it was established has done everything to wipe us off the map.

Listening to music is difficult in these circumstances, despite our passion for it. We have our own big range of music we love to play and Debka dance. But we have few instruments. Israel’s air, land and sea blockade of all our borders has meant for years musical instruments were banned from entry to Gaza.[3] Other items denied to us were coriander, nutmeg, ginger, dried fruit, fresh meat, lentils, pasta, chocolate, fishing rods, cattle, toys, donkey, workbooks and newspapers. Dov Weisglass, an advisor to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, explicitly outlined their intentions to collectively punish our population, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger”, he announced, in contravention of article 33 of the Geneva Conventions and condemned by all major human rights organizations. (4)

The violence behind Israel’s military occupation of our land is relentless and this week is no different. It began with Israeli border police shooting and killing a 38 year old Palestinian judge Raed Zeitar, the other bus passengers forced to sit and watch as he bled to death. Then 18-year-old Saji Darwish, Humanities student at Birzeit university, was shot in the head in Beitin, near Ramallah. Thousands attended his funeral the following day. Tuesday saw four more murdered in the West Bank and Gaza. On Wednesday Israeli authorities approved the construction of 387 housing units in the illegal settlement of Ramat Shlomo, denying the Palestinian towns of Beit Hanina and Shuafat the possibility to expand. And today a three-month old baby Ahmed Ammar Abu Nahal died of enlarged heart and liver as a result of the closure of Gaza crossings, a closure that has also left our hospitals bereft of medical supplies.

And right now we sit paralyzed in our homes as the bombs fall on us in Gaza. Who knows when the current attacks will end. Permanently etched on our minds are the rivers of blood that ran through the Gaza streets when for over 3 weeks in 2009 over 1400 were killed including over 330 children, with white phosphorous and other chemical weapons used in civilian areas and contaminating our land with a rise in cancers as a result. More recently 170 more were killed in the week-long attacks in late November 2012. How many more sleeping in their beds now will face the same fate in the coming days, weeks and months? The trauma, fear and uncertainty never goes away.

Over two thirds of the Palestinians here in Gaza are UN registered refugees. Over half of us are children. We or our descendants were dispossessed entirely and forcibly removed from our homes. The extent of this ethnic cleansing was such that one in three refugees worldwide is a Palestinian. Expulsions of Palestinians continue today especially in Jerusalem and the West Bank, places that we in Gaza are no longer able to visit. For what crime? The crime of being born Palestinian.

The Israeli regime denies us the freedom to come to enjoy your music, we live our lives surrounded by Navy Gunships along the sea, jeeps and wall tower snipers along the land frontier, and skies filled with the kind of aircraft unleashing yet more devastating attacks tonight. The Gaza Strip has been made an outdoor prison, a reality beyond which most youth can never imagine, because most can never leave.

Others are hearing us and the world is beginning to wake up. Many of your contemporaries are taking a stand including Carlos Santana, Roger Waters, Annie Lennox, Elvis Costello and the late, great Pete Seeger and Gil Scott Heron, who said he wouldn’t play in Israel “until everyone is welcome there”. (5)

As Israeli Apartheid week kicked off in South Africa this week, an event that has taken place in over 150 different locations worldwide, Archbishop Desmond Tutu called for the world to support the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions of Israel, just as many other Anti Apartheid heroes from South Africa have affirmed. Tutu said in his statement on Monday, “I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces. Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.” (6) Long before he died, Nelson Mandela demanded that we should have the self determination of any other people. “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”, he said.

Will you sing “living with war” to an audience most of which will have served or are serving in the Israeli army that during the day were bombing our families, or manning the hundreds of checkpoints that make simple journeys daily acts of humiliation? While we in Gaza can never return to our homes that lay buried around the areas in which you will be travelling freely, will you sing, “A hundred voices from a hundred lands, need someone to listen. People are dying here and there.”

On the struggle to support First Nations rights in Canada and environmental protection you said: “If you have a conscience, you can`t go through your day without realizing what`s going on, and questioning it, and going, “Is this right?”(7)

This is the question to mull over as here in Gaza a short period of silence has descended after the bombs rained down on us yet again tonight Show the courage to say that this system of violent discrimination and racial segregation is unacceptable in Palestine, just as you showed it to be unacceptable in the American South, unacceptable in Apartheid South Africa and unacceptable for the Indigenous of the Americas.

Stand on the right side of history and stand with us, and don’t entertain apartheid Israel this July.

Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel

University Teachers’ Association

References:

 

(1) http://cosmos.ucc.ie/cs1064/jabowen/IPSC/php/place.php?plid=1985

(2) http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/major-indigenous-studies-group-endorses-israel-boycott

(3) http://www.gazagateway.org/tag/musical-instruments/

(4) http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/apr/16/israel#sthash.EtPIzrik.dpuf

 (5) http://www.usacbi.org/2010/04/gil-scott-heron-announces-cancellation-of-tel-aviv-concert-artist-won%E2%80%99t-play-in-israel-%E2%80%9Cuntil-everyone-is-welcome-there%E2%80%9D/

(6) http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.578872

(7) http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0604/18/sbt.01.html 

http://www.odsg.org/co/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3039%3Aopen-letter-from-gaza-to-neil-young-its-right-to-boycott-israeli-apartheid

March 20, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Renewed Gaza rocket fire after overnight Israeli raids

Ma’an - March 12, 2014

BETHLEHEM – Dozens of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip landed in southern Israel on Wednesday, a day after an Israeli airstrike killed three Palestinian militants in the coastal enclave.

The al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for the operation, which it has named “Breaking the Silence.”

The group said that it had launched 90 rockets into Israel on Wednesday, saying: “The response has begun to the crimes of the occupation, the latest of which was the killing of three members” of the group on Tuesday.

An Israeli military source said that eight rockets had fallen in residential areas, causing property damage but without resulting in any injuries.

Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman told an Israeli television channel that there was no option other than completely re-occupying the Gaza Strip, arguing that after two wide-scale military operations “Israeli towns and cities” are still under fire from the Gaza Strip.

The residents of southern Israeli towns and cities cannot remain under the the threat of “terrorist” organizations, he added.

An Israeli source said that crews had found the fragments of nearly 57 rockets. The source also said that the Iron Dome missile-defense system had intercepted three rockets.

According to Israeli reports, rockets landed in open areas near the town of Sderot and near residential areas.

A senior Israeli security source told AFP that 50 rockets had been launched toward Israel and that the rockets had not ceased, but that there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Warning sirens sounded in Israeli towns and cities near the border.

An Israeli officer told Israeli army radio that “we haven’t seen such a barrage (of rockets) in the last two years.”

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that “damage” had been caused but not injuries, and that “police units” were searching “open areas.”

A day earlier, an Israeli airstrike killed three Palestinians in the southern Gaza Strip, medics said.

The three resistance fighters were killed by the airstrike in southeast Khan Younis near the Sufa crossing.

The al-Quds Brigades said at the time that the militants were affiliated to the group.

“They were in confrontation with the occupation trying to stop the progress of Israeli military vehicles which were approaching the area,” the statement said.

The Israeli army said in a statement that “terrorists affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the southern Gaza Strip fired a mortar shell at IDF forces.”

“An IAF aircraft responded immediately in order to prevent further attacks on Israeli civilians and targeted the terrorist squad. Direct hits were confirmed, the army statement said.

Also Tuesday morning, an Israeli drone fell in the area of the attack.

The airstrikes came just hours after Palestinian security sources said a man died after Israeli soldiers fired at him while he was driving near the West Bank city of Tulkarem.

The Israeli army also killed two Palestinians in the West Bank on Monday.

Israeli soldiers shot and killed 18-year-old Saji Darwish near Ramallah late Monday, after he allegedly threw stones at Israeli vehicles.

Earlier, Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian-Jordanian judge at the Allenby Bridge crossing with Jordan.

March 13, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Gaza missile seizure, Netanyahu’s latest anti-Iran joke

lieberman-netenyahu

By Finian Cunningham | Press TV |  March 11, 2014

Comedians say that the art of telling jokes relies on “timing.” Israeli’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the world’s top comic politician, seemed to be proving the point with his “timely” claims about seizing Iranian rockets aboard a cargo ship in the Red Sea.

Standing in front of 40 pointed missiles, each carefully displayed on props (you sense the stilted exhibitionism here), the Israeli leader said the seized cache “showed the true face of Iran” in its support for terrorism. Netanyahu lashed out at Western leaders who are “shaking hands with Iran” and preparing to finalize a political settlement to the long-running nuclear dispute.

Iran swiftly denounced the Israeli allegations as orchestrated, indicating that the capture of munitions on a Panamanian-registered vessel was a set-up.

Even some of the Israeli media have grown weary of such “propaganda stunts,” as the newspaper Haaretz described Netanyahu’s melodramatic display of Iran’s alleged clandestine cargo in the port of Eilat at the weekend. Netanyahu’s corny sensationalist manner, standing in front of the green-colored rockets, was reminiscent of his previous presentation to the United Nations using a cartoon bomb in which he claimed then that Iran was “only months away from building a nuclear weapon.”

Netanyahu’s record of failure over the past 20 years in predicting “imminent” Iranian nuclear arms capability makes him a laughing stock. Some people watching the latest televised stunt of displaying “captured” Iranian rockets may have wished that one of the devices could have accidentally fired off during the Israeli premier’s speech.

The buffoonish Netanyahu cannot be taken seriously on anything he says. Nevertheless it is worthwhile defusing the latest Israeli propaganda hoax to reveal the mindset of those in Tel Aviv and their backers in Washington and the Western mainstream media who shamefully never fail to lend credibility to such reprehensible smear jobs. “Israeli forces seize rockets ‘destined for Gaza’ in raid on Iranian ship in Red Sea,” read a headline in the British Guardian.

It is amazing how much credence is afforded to baseless Israeli and Western government claims against Iran. In recent years, the Western public has been fed with tall tales of Iranian plots to assassinate diplomats in Washington, and involvement in bombings or attempted bombings in Argentina, Thailand, India, Georgia, Bulgaria and Kenya. Tellingly, none of these stories – always initially reported with ubiquitous fanfare in the Western media – are ever followed up or substantiated.

Yet the same absurd story line, with dramatic plot variations, is peddled over and over again. This systematic regurgitation shows that the Western media is nothing but an instrument of state propaganda.

Of course, Zionist lobby groups, sympathetic Zionist media owners, reporters, pundits are a big part of the charade. So too is the political agenda of Washington and its European allies who slavishly indulge Israel for geopolitical reasons, and who are only too glad to undermine Iran with regard to their support for Israel and the despotic Arab oil sheikhdoms, as well as in their covert war against Tehran’s ally, Syria.

The latest stunt may be also a pretext for the Western governments to procrastinate on the P5+1 settlement – and to subject Iran to further torturous illegal sanctions.

Let’s look at some of the claims in the latest smear job against Iran, which has seen US defense secretary Chuck Hagel also weighing in to accuse Iran of “destabilizing the region”.

The Israelis claim that Syrian-made M-302 rockets, with a firing range of 160km, were first flown by air cargo to Iran. Then Iran moved the ordnance to the port of Bandar Abbas, where it was loaded on to a ship, the KLOS-C. As mentioned, the ship is reportedly registered in Panama with an owner in the Marshall Islands. So what connection Iran has to the vessel is right away tenuous.

Next, the ship is said to have sailed north to the port of Umm Qasr in Iraq, where it was loaded with bags of cement conveniently bearing Iranian trademarks. The KLOS-C made its way out of the Persian Gulf and into the Red Sea, where Israeli Special Forces raided the ship last week off the coast of Sudan.

The Israelis claim – and Western media gave full vent to the claims – that the rockets were to be shipped over land from Sudan via Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and delivered to Hamas in Gaza. Hamas, as well as Tehran, denies any involvement. It was even speculated in some Western media that the shipment of rockets could also have been intended by Iran for al-Qaeda groups based in Sinai.

This circuitous route, involving weeks of transport time over one of the most intensely surveyed sea-lanes in the world, does not bear serious scrutiny. The risk of such a smuggling plot being uncovered is so high as to make it implausible. Put another way, the chances of it being part of a stage-managed set-up are all the more plausible.

The destination aspect of the alleged plot does not hold water either. Egypt, under the military junta led by General Abdel al Sisi, has stepped up its collusion with Israel to seal off the Sinai Peninsula and all land crossings into Gaza. The notion of trucks carrying dozens of medium-sized surface-to-surface missiles driving into Gaza, undetected, is inconceivable to the point of ridicule.

So too is the Israeli-inspired sub-plot that Iran may have been trying to send the weapons to al-Qaeda in Sinai. This group is waging a Western-backed covert terrorist campaign against Syria and against Shia Muslims in particular. The idea that Shia Iran or its ally Syria would supply Syrian-made rockets to such enemies illustrates how moronic the thesis for this Israeli propaganda stunt is.

The Israeli seizure, by the way, was given the ever-so contrived title of “Full Exposure.” The give-away to this being a stunt is the timing. It came just as Netanyahu was in Washington trying to tell the world that the failure of Mid-East “peace talks” was all the fault of the Palestinians – not anything to do with the genocidal policies of Israel. In other words, it serves as a handy foil to shield Israel from international opprobrium. As Netanyahu was speaking in the White House, Israeli warplanes killed two Palestinians in air strikes on Gaza.

The second timed factor is that Iran is scheduled to complete the P5+1 negotiations for a final settlement over the nuclear dispute. EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, was in Tehran at the weekend when Netanyahu fired off rhetorical salvos about “Western hypocrisy in the face of Iranian support for international terrorism.” Israel is livid at the prospect of any nuclear deal being reached. And no doubt there are political forces in Washington and Europe that would relish an accord being sabotaged.

Netanyahu went on to warn about Iranian “armed nuclear suitcases” being sent to every port in the world.

Who needs imaginary nuclear-armed suitcases when we already have a nuclear-armed nutcase – Netanyahu and his apartheid regime?

Comic Netanyahu may have a dubious skill at timing, but his tedious jokes have by now become just stupidly bad. The latest one about “Full Exposure” of Iranian rockets has backfired.

March 12, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli airstrike kills 3 Palestinians in southern Gaza

Ismail Abu Judah, Shahir Abu Shanab, and Abd al-Shafi Muammar.
Ma’an – 11/03/2014

GAZA CITY – An Israeli airstrike killed three Palestinians in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, an official said.

Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma’an that three Palestinian resistance fighters were killed by the airstrike in southeast Khan Younis near the Sufa crossing.

Al-Qidra identified the victims as Ismail Abu Judah, 23, Shahir Abu Shanab, 24, and 33-year-old Abd al-Shafi Muammar.

The bodies were taken to the European Hospital in Khan Younis, al-Qidra said.

Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad movement, said in a statement that the victims were militants affiliated to the group.

“They were in confrontation with the occupation trying to stop the progress of Israeli military vehicles which were approaching the area,” the statement said.

The Israeli army said in a statement that “terrorists affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the southern Gaza Strip fired a mortar shell at IDF forces.”

“An IAF aircraft responded immediately in order to prevent further attacks on Israeli civilians and targeted the terrorist squad. Direct hits were confirmed, the army statement said.

Earlier on Tuesday morning, an Israeli drone fell in the area of the attack.

The airstrikes came just hours after Palestinian security sources said a man died after Israeli soldiers fired at him while he was driving near the West Bank city of Tulkarem.

The Israeli army also killed two Palestinians in the West Bank on Monday.

Israeli soldiers shot and killed 18-year-old Saji Darwish near Ramallah late Monday, after he allegedly threw stones at Israeli vehicles.

Earlier, Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian-Jordanian judge at the Allenby Bridge crossing with Jordan.

March 11, 2014 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , | Leave a comment

Analysis: EU aid to Palestinians — help or hindrance?

IRIN -  19/02/2014

JERUSALEM — The European Union has long been one of the most reliable foreign sources of humanitarian, economic and political aid in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), providing 426 million euros ($575 million) in 2013 alone.

In 2011, overall overseas development aid to the OPT was worth $2.5 billion, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Much of this aid to the Palestinian people is focused on a single long-term objective, according to EU officials — the building up of the institutions of a future democratic, independent and viable Palestinian state, living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel.

But with limited progress so far in the current US-brokered peace talks and the wider aim of the realization of a Palestinian state, some in the more austerity-minded EU are starting to wonder if the aid is being well spent, when humanitarian crises in Syria and Mali are in need of greater funds.

“By now there is no Palestinian state. The point is: what are we funding here? Are we helping Israel to maintain the occupation, or are we actually helping Palestinians to build independence?” Caroline du Plessix, a French political scientist specialized on EU policy towards the two-state-solution, told IRIN.

“EU member states are today much more aware than before that their aid has not made possible the creation of an independent Palestinian state,” she said, adding: “The EU is trying to figure out what the best strategy may be. Member states need to show that their policy is reaching its ends and is effective. But if the main solution still is the two-state-solution and we are not really going in that direction, this policy is not sustainable and cannot go on for ever.”

Carrot and stick

A substantial reduction in EU aid seems unlikely at the moment. Such a move would have dramatic consequences for the Palestinian economy and the livelihoods of tens of thousands of families.

“There will be a price to pay if these negotiations falter,” the EU’s ambassador to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, said in late January. In December 2013, an EU official was cited in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz as saying that the EU may cut off financial aid to the Palestinian Authority if peace talks fail, while “some people suggested giving the money to other countries, like Syria, Mali and other places around the world.”

On the other hand, EU foreign ministers are making unprecedented offers, setting out a very substantial set of incentives designed to encourage both parties to finalize a peace agreement.

“These incentives aim at boosting prosperity for both Israelis and Palestinians by increasing access to European markets, facilitating trade and investment and deepening business and cultural ties,” EU-representative John Gatt-Rutter told IRIN, adding: “Therefore, at this stage our approach is one of encouraging both parties to seize this unique opportunity provided by the peace negotiations.”

“In spite of donor fatigue in Europe we will not see more than a limited gradual reduction — say 10 percent a year — in European aid if negotiations fail because European leaders do not want to trigger major instability or a humanitarian crisis,” Ofer Zalzberg, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, told IRIN.

Building the state to come

Of the 426 million euros provided by the EU to Palestinians in 2013, 168 million was Direct Financial Support to the PA under the so-called PEGASE-mechanism.

PEGASE helps the PA to meet its recurrent expenses through paying salaries, pensions and social allowances to people in extreme poverty, and through supporting essential public services and revitalizing the private sector through policy reforms, institution-building and strengthening the relations between Palestinian enterprises and European counterparts.

The funds are transferred directly to individual beneficiaries like 55-year-old Nabila from the Qaddura refugee camp. “I get 750 shekels ($210) every three months, have a disabled son, and my husband died 10 years ago. How can I move on?” she told IRIN at the Ramallah district office of the PA’s Ministry of Social Affairs.

“There is poverty and we get tired of this situation,” she said, adding though that restrictions on movement (caused, for example, by the Barrier and numerous Israeli checkpoints allegedly set up for security reasons) highlighted a greater problem that aid would never solve.

“How do you want to solve this problem? Why do we have to be in this miserable situation?”

In addition to the direct financial support, humanitarian aid is provided through the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO), which spent 35 million euros in 2013 on areas such as humanitarian coordination, legal assistance and emergency response to demolitions and evictions.

Propping up the status quo

EU aid faces the same challenges as non-governmental aid groups have faced — that by providing support they may inadvertently be playing a political role by helping prop up the status quo, giving life-support services that should normally be provided by Israel, as the occupying power.

“EU funding is strategic. Its main aim is to prevent instability. It is thus scared of the PA’s breakdown,” said Caroline Du Plessix.

For Sami Abu Roza, former economic policy adviser to the Palestinian president, this system of dependency has a bitter political aftertaste.

“If you take away the good intention behind the money, aid is a substitute for not having real remedies,” he told IRIN at the PA’s Ministry of Education, where he currently works.

The EU’s approach to solving the conflict, he says, is part of a larger trend he calls “peaceconomics”, the feeding of an illusionary idea that institution-building and economic aid can contribute to real progress, while the actual political causes behind the difficult situation are side-lined and remain unresolved.

Ashraf Azzam sits in the ruins of his house in eastern Gaza City in Jan. 2013 after it was destroyed in an Israeli attack in Nov. 2012. (Ahmed Dalloul/IRIN)

‘Patronizing’ attitude

“The EU’s attitude towards Palestinians is patronizing, as if money was the only thing Palestinians needed,” he said, adding: “They are sacrificing real solutions for economic aid, building a smoke screen around the real problems.”

“Palestinians know that any money coming to Palestinians is political. But they also know that the world won’t stop paying for Palestinians under occupation. That’s the strange kind of peace Palestinians live in.”

In an attempt to decrease the political dependence from aid, the Ministry of Education has implemented a new mechanism, the Joint Financing Agreement, which has been running for about three years.

With aid money flowing from the German KfW Development Bank, Finland, Ireland, Norway and Belgium, directly into a pool at the treasury of the PA’s Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Education has full ownership of the money and decides how and where it is spent.

“It’s a small path to independence, towards political independence,” Abu Roza said.

But for one senior official in the Ministry, who asked to remain anonymous, the notion of independence remains unreal.

“We don’t have control of our own borders, no taxation, and all of Area C is under Israel’s control. What economic independence are we speaking of?” he said, adding that the PA was not created to become a social entity providing salaries and services to Palestinians. “Its aim was political, and so are our problems.”

‘Aid has not helped to fulfill Palestinians dreams’

Some anomalies in the EU’s funding to the PA emerged recently in a report of the European Court of Auditors (ECA), which criticized the EU’s paying of salaries to Palestinian civil servants in the Gaza Strip “who no longer work.” The report suggested financial assistance “be discontinued and redirected to the West Bank.” Hamas, which took control [won elections] of the Gaza Strip in 2007, is classified by the EU as a terrorist group.

So the EU continues to support the former PA structure in Gaza with salary payments even though the PA no longer has any control: The political cost of stopping funding is seen as too great.

From 2008 to 2012, the average number of civil servants and pensioners whose salaries were at least partly paid by the EU rose from 75,502 to 84,320, about half of the PA’s 170,000 civil servants and pensioners.

During the same period, the average monthly PA wage bill for EU-beneficiaries rose from 45.1 million euros to 62.9 million euros, an increase of 39 percent.

But at the same time, contributions to PEGASE for Civil Servants and Pensioners fell from 21.3 million euros (47 percent of total pay to eligible beneficiaries) in 2008 to 10.4 million euros (16 percent) in 2012, mainly due to reductions in contributions from donors, such as Spain.

These pressures point to a new funding environment in which the PA is finding it increasingly difficult to pay salaries and pensions on time.

The UN Works and Relief Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) faces similar challenges. This year it has a deficit of $65 million in its core budget and struggles with declining international funding. The EU is UNRWA’s largest donor.

“Aid has not helped to fulfill Palestinians dreams, nor did it lead to sustainable development. Independence is today further away than 20 years ago,” Alaa Tartir, program director of the Palestinian Policy Network, told IRIN.

Despite the contradictions in EU aid policy, it is clear that without EU aid the humanitarian situation in OPT would worsen significantly.

“If we reach a condition where there is no more aid for PA employees, who will fill this gap? This will have a severe humanitarian impact,” said Tommaso Fabri, head of the Jerusalem office of Doctors Without Borders.

One beneficiary of the EU’s direct assistance to the PA is 49-year-old Said Samara, a teacher at the Secondary Boarding School in Ramallah.

“As a teacher, I hope that this aid will continue. But as a teacher, and for my students, I also need some hope for an independent Palestinian country,” he said.

February 20, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel continues military violence against Palestinian fishermen in Gaza waters

By Charlie Andreasson | International Solidarity Movement | February 19, 2014

Two fishermen paddle a small boat off the Gaza coast. (Photo by Charlie Andreasson)

Palestinian fishermen paddle a small fishing boat, or hasaka, off the Gaza coast. (Photo by Charlie Andreasson)

Gaza, Occupied Palestine – Three Palestinian fishermen were arrested and had their boats and gear confiscated by occupation forces on Tuesday, 11th February, in two separate incidents, despite the fact that they were well within the Israel-permitted zone and could not be classified as security threat to the State of Israel, its civilians or its military.

Mohamed Sleeby, 42, paddled out early in the morning in his hasaka with his son, Ahmed, 16, from the beach at Shati, north of Gaza City. Mohamed’s is a smaller hasaka without an engine, four meters long, and can only fish close to shore. While they pulled on their nets about half a nautical mile from the shore, Israeli patrol boats approached. When they started shooting, other Palestinian fishing boats nearby fled.

“It was like a horror movie,” Mohamed said. “I closed my eyes. When I opened them again, they were right in front of the hasaka with aimed guns and masked faces. They shot into the water right next to us and ordered us to strip completely naked and swim, one at a time, towards them. It was humiliating to stand there completely naked in front of them, stripped of all humanity, with my son at my side. But I dared not disobey.”

Despite his fear, Mohamed asked that his son be spared. The soldiers shouted at him to shut up. They shot near his son, even though he held his hands outstretched while waiting for his turn to step into the cold water. Once they were pulled onto one of the patrol boats, they were given clothes, but hoods were also pulled over their heads. They were taken to a waiting, larger military boat outside the zone allowed by Israel to Palestinian fishermen. Even with shackles on the hands and feet, they were forced to kneel on their knees. Fadel Al-Sultan, 25, was also on board. Earlier that morning, he had also been detained, and had his small hasaka without an engine seized, less than half a nautical half from the shore.

In Ashdod, they all underwent health checks, were photographed holding their results and their personal details on sheets of paper, and were accused of having been outside the permitted zone. Fadel, who had previously been captured twice while fishing, was threatened with being sent directly to jail without trial if he was caught again. As with previous detentions of Palestinian fishermen, the interrogators focused on collecting information about government buildings and their staff in Gaza, on possible contacts with insurgents and on personal networks. Unlike previous detentions, they also asked where any fish farms were located on land. Later they were transported to Erez, where a new hearing began with Mohamed Sleeby, his skin was checked for traces of explosives and attempts were made to recruit him to the Israeli intelligence service.

“He [the lone interrogator] knew everything about me,” Muhamed said. “He knew I did not pay taxes on electricity. He offered to pay them, promised I would get my hasaka and nets back, and even said I would get a little money. He said I should not be afraid, that I am in good hands and that no one but me, him and God would know anything about this, that I ought to think about my family and not miss the chance. But I cannot do that to my brothers and neighbors. He said I should think about it and that he would contact me by phone. But how can he do that? I was left with my clothes in the hasaka they seized. No, I would rather starve than help the ones keeping us in poverty.”

Fadel Al-Sultan. (Photo by Charlie Andreasson)

Fadel Al-Sultan. (Photo by Charlie Andreasson)

Muhamed Sleeby and Fadel Al-Sultan’s answers on why the Israeli military attack the fisherman so close to the shore, even though they can pose no threat to the State of Israeli or its residents, were consistent. “They want to make life even more difficult for us,” they say, “to prevent us from supporting ourselves.” Fadel also says that to get better catches, they need to go 7-8 nautical miles from the coast, but that is impossible because Israel has limited them to six nautical miles. But even that limit is irrelevant, as they are attacked so far inside it that they all have to fight for the small catches along the beach. Those who have to paddle out to fish are now competing with larger boats forced toward the shore.

In January, thirteen attacks have been carried out by the Israeli military against Palestinian fishermen. At one time the occupying power decreed a six-nautical mile limit, at another three miles, but it has consistently attacked far within three nautical miles from the coast. Both these attacks and the limits are violations of international law.

February 20, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

Will the flowers of Gaza break Israel’s siege this Valentine’s Day?

By Tom Anderson and Therezia Cooper |  Corporate Watch |  February 12, 2014

Flowers from Gaza being prepared for export (Photo by Corporate Watch)

Flowers from Gaza being prepared for export (Photo by Corporate Watch)

Gaza, Occupied Palestine – Valentine’s Day is almost upon us and for supermarkets and florists that means a massive increase in the sale of flowers. But how many romantic couples consider where the flowers they exchange are grown?

Farmers in Gaza have long been encouraged by Israeli export companies to focus their production on high risk ‘cash crops’ such as flowers and strawberries, and the arrival of carnations from Rafah to European markets for Christmas or Valentine’s day is often cheered on by the Israeli Government who uses it as a PR exercise to show how it ‘facilitates’ Palestinian exports. Unsurprisingly, this is not the full story.

According to the Palestinian Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) there used to be over 500 dunams of carnations planted in the Gaza Strip, but since the beginning of the siege in 2007 flower exports have plummeted year on year and there are only around 60 dunams left. The planted land used to produce over forty million stems for export, but now the few carnation farmers who are left are struggling to sell 5-10 million.

“The Israeli occupation allows us to export a small quantity of produce, just to show the world that they are nice to the Palestinians, but they are using us. Everything we do is controlled by them”, said Saad Ziada from UAWC when we met him in his Gaza City office in November last year, just before what was supposed to be the start of the flower exporting season. This statement is true of all produce in Gaza but flower exporters are particularly susceptible to the control Israel holds over exports, as their produce relies on hitting the market at exactly the right time for popular flower buying holidays. If the border is closed for a week and the flowers miss the export window for Valentine’s Day, for instance, their profit for the whole year can be lost.

We visited Rafah to talk to one of the few flower growers still in business and hear about the situation for farmers under the siege.

“The problem is the border and the siege”

Hassan Gazi al Hijazi has been in the flower business for over 25 years and has seen many changes in the flower export industry. When he started out he had to be registered as an Israeli grower, despite growing his flowers in Gaza, and he gave classes in the art of flower growing to new farmers. “There used to be 53 flower farmers in the Rafah area and now there are only 4 of us left” he told us. “I personally used to have 40 dunams and now I only have 4”. He said that he needs assistance from outside to even operate them now, his flower packing house displays signs showing that he receives financial support from Spain.

(Photo by Corporate Watch)

(Photo by Corporate Watch)

Just as with all produce from Gaza, his flowers have to be exported via Israel, through an Israeli company. In the past this used to be Carmel Agrexco, which used the name Coral for Palestinian produce, but after its liquidation he now works with a Palestinian Co-operative which exports under the brand name Palestine Crops using the slogan ‘From Palestine Land to Global Markets’. Palestine Crops is a Gaza initiative which works with agricultural co-ops in the strip and aims to create a market for Palestinian labelled goods and, eventually, independent exports. For now, however, this is impossible and although some exports from Gaza come with Palestine Crops branding, they are dependent on their Israeli distributor. In the case of flowers, this is primarily the Flower Board of Israel. Once transported out of Gaza, the flowers are taken to the big flower auction houses in Holland, where they are sold by grower name. By the time the bouquets reach our shops they will have been mixed with other flowers and it is unlikely the the buyer will be aware of their origin.

Talking to Hassan, it becomes obvious just how much the farmers of Gaza are at the mercy of the Israeli occupation forces. Palestine’s flower export season lasts from December until May. The most important sales periods are Christmas and Valentine’s Day. According to Hassan, these are often the seasons when the border is closed. Our interview took place on 5 December, a time which should be busy in Rafah. “I should be exporting my flowers around the 15th of December to be in time for the Christmas market, but I do not know how much I will be allowed to export yet”, Hassan told us. “if you are not able to export for those occasions the price for flowers drops and you lose”. Farmers in Gaza are not able to export flowers during the summer as this is the season when Holland grows the same crops.

“The problem is not the growing of the flowers, the problem is the border and the siege” Hassan said whilst showing us his beautiful dunams of ready to go flowers. As with most custom designed cash crops there is not enough of a local market for Hassan’s flowers if he fails to export them, they either just go to waste or become animal food. No one in Gaza can pay a price which would even make the enterprise break even.

In the past Hassan could get around $120 000 for exporting two million flowers if he had a good season, but for the last five years he has been paying the big upfront outlay necessary in flower growing from his own pocket, just dreaming that he will be able to get a return on his investment.

The statistics: The decline of Gaza’s flower exports

Recorded Gaza Flower Exports (according to Palestine Crops):

Date Carnations
Stems Trucks
End of 2004 44,000,000 200
2005 30,700,000 210
2006 21,500,000 205
2007 37,400,000 187
2008 2,100,000 10
2009 0 0
2010 10,668,520 74
2011 8,974,890 57
2012 0 0

The table above shows that flower exports have decreased to a fraction of what they were in 2004. During 2012 and 2009, the years of major Israeli attacks on the Strip, exports were prevented entirely.

Gaza’s flower growers see no light at the end of the tunnel with most not having the cash flow to continue their profession. Exports are declining and becoming even more unpredictable with increased border closures.

We asked Hassan for his opinion about the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. We particularly wanted his opinion as his livelihood relies on exporting produce through Israeli companies. “You should continue these campaigns even if it damages our business” he said. “The problem for us is that there is no other way we can export, but people on the outside should continue to boycott and help us keep the borders open”.

This sentiment was one that was repeated over and over again across the Gaza Strip, and the challenge for the solidarity movement is clear: in order for Palestinians to be able to control their own exports we first need to break the siege -permanently.

We will publish some further articles on the problems faced by Palestinian exporters in the coming weeks.

February 12, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gaza official: Israel ‘killed 6 Palestinians, injured 41′ in January

Ma’an - 01/02/2014

Israel-Attack-Gaza-Jan-2014-Building-destroyedGAZA CITY – Israeli forces killed six Palestinians and injured 41 in attacks on Gaza in January, a ministry official said Saturday.

Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for Gaza’s Ministry of Health, said in a statement that “the Israeli occupation intensified airstrikes against unarmed civilians, particularly in the eastern Gaza Strip” in January.

The statement pointed out that a large number of the injured were children.

The health sector in the Strip has been suffering a severe shortage in medicines and medical equipment, al-Qidra added.

Over the past month, tensions have risen in and around Gaza after more than a year of relative calm following Israel’s war on the coastal territory in November 2012 which killed over 170 people, mainly civilians, and injured thousands.

Israeli army figures show nine rockets have struck Israeli territory since Jan. 1, and another five were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system. None of the rockets caused injuries.

Israeli airstrikes this year on targets in Gaza have injured dozens of people, mainly civilians.

February 1, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

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