Ankara has pledged to help the Gaza Strip to tackle its decade-long electricity crisis as part of a deal to normalize ties with Israel that were severed six years ago, but Palestinians told Sputnik that they doubt that Turkish authorities will deliver on the promise.
Mustapha Al-Agha who lives in Gaza said that locals have lost their hope in Turkey after Ankara decided not to pressure Israel to lift the blockade which has been in place since 2007. Turkey’s “help is limited to humanitarian aid,” he said. “All promises given to the Gaza Strip have turned out to be a ‘downer pill’ meant to receive support for the agreement between Turkey and Israel.”
Itaf Mukhanna, a mother of seven, maintained that lifting the blockade was a priority, urging Arab nations to do something about it.
“Situation here is unbearable. Youth unemployment has worsened. Electricity, water and gas have become an everyday dream that each local is trying to fulfil,” she said.
On June 28, Turkey and Israel announced that they would restore diplomatic ties. Ankara has agreed to provide humanitarian aid to and build a power plant in Gaza as part of this deal. Two weeks later a Turkish delegation visited the region to discuss ways to resolve the crisis with Israeli and Hamas officials.
The delegation is expected to prepare a report that will be directed to Turkey’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak, the cabinet and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The government will then work on a roadmap to implement measures outlined in the report.
Last week Turkey delivered 11,000 tons of humanitarian aid meant for Gaza. The cargo was offloaded in the Israeli port city of Ashdod.
The Gaza Strip’s electricity crisis is acute. The region has a single power plant that has operated at less than 50 percent capacity since 2006 when Israel bombed the facility.
Gaza needs at least 450 megawatts per day, but it receives no more than 185 megawatts in the summer and 200 megawatts during the winter, Tare Lubbad, communications director at a Gazan electric company, told Sputnik.
“The energy crisis in the Gaza Strip has become worse since one of [four] generators at the power plant has not been working due to the lack of fuel,” he said.
The plant needs at least 500 tons of fuel per day to operate at its current full capacity, but the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has imposed a tax on fuel purchased in Israel.
The worst disservice Sanders has done to his supporters, other than to lead them on a wild goose chase for real change, is to virtually ignore his rival’s vaunted “experience.” He need not have mentioned Hillary Clinton’s Senate record, since there was nothing there; her stint as law-maker was merely intended to position her for a run for the presidency, according to the family plan. But there was a lot in her record as Secretary of State.
As she recounts in her memoir, she wanted a heftier “surge” in Afghanistan than Obama was prepared to order. Anyone paying attention knows that the entire military mission in that broken country has been a dismal failure producing blow-back on a mind-boggling scale, even as the Taliban has become stronger, and controls more territory, than at any time since its toppling in 2001-2002.
Hillary wanted to impose regime change on Syria in 2011, by stepping up assistance to armed groups whom (again) anyone paying attention knows are in cahoots with al-Nusra (which is to say, al-Qaeda). In an email dated Nov. 30, 2015, she states her reason: “The best way to help Israel…is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.”
In her memoir she criticizes Obama for not doing more to oust the secular Assad regime. She has repeatedly stated during her campaign that she favors a no-fly zone over Syria, like the one she advocated for Libya. That means conflict with Russia, which is bombing sites in Syria, with the permission of its internationally recognized government, under what Russia’s leaders (and many rational people) consider to be terrorists’ control.
Sanders–sorry, I cannot call him “Bernie” anymore, since he has become precisely as avuncular as Dick Cheney—could have effectively attacked Hillary the Skjaldmær (Old Norse for “Shield-maiden,” referring to an often berserk warrior-woman) for her role in the destruction of Libya. But no! Always referring to her deferentially as “Secretary Clinton”–as though her actions in that role merit respect—he rarely alluded to her greatest crime at all. That’s unforgivable.
(Yes, in one debate he mentioned Libya in passing–timidly, and with no follow-up. While he repeatedly mentioned how The Secretary had voted for the Iraq War and he hadn’t, he hardly exuded moral outrage about that or any other Clinton decision. His campaign was all about her Wall Street ties and well-paid, secret talks, the transcripts of which he once wanted to see but has now apparently lost interest. It was never about “foreign policy,” which is supposedly her forte. He may call himself a “socialist,” but he’s no anti-imperialist. He has voted in favor of every “defense spending” bill, supported the NATO assault on Serbia in 1999, supported Israel’s attack on Gaza in 2014, etc.)
He could have attacked Clinton savagely–with the savagery of mere matter-of-fact honesty–by citing those emails exchanged between Clinton and her vicious confidant and former adviser Anne-Marie Slaughter, in which the latter—under the subject line “bravo!”–congratulates her on engineering Obama’s agreement for the bombing of Libya. (On March 19, 2011, as the bombing of Libya began, Slaughter wrote: “I cannot imagine how exhausted you must be after this week, but I have NEVER been prouder of having worked for you. Turning [Obama] around on this is a major win for everything we have worked for.”
He could have quoted that email from Sidney Blumenthal, that Svengali figure who has long been Clinton’s unofficial mentor (along with Henry Kissinger and others): “No-fly! Brava! You did it!” (Brava, if you’re interested, is the feminine form of Bravo.)
He could have repeatedly used that damning clip that reveals Hillary’s joy at the grotesque murder of Muammar Gaddafi–who had become a friend of Tony Blair, Silvio Berlusconi, and the CIA as of 2011–at the hands of Islamist thugs, who rammed a stick and knife up his anus on camera just to make it more humiliating. His ads could have started with some appropriately edited version of this:
And ended with this:
And left the people to draw their own conclusions.
He could have asked, “Why the hell did you appoint Dick Cheney aide Victoria Nuland as Under Secretary of State for Eurasia, and support and fund that coup in Ukraine in 2014 in your goddamn ambition to expand NATO?”
But no. He didn’t have it in him. And now he wants his youthful erstwhile followers to transfer their support to someone who is not only the embodiment of Wall Street, with all its blood-sucking and all its crookedness, but the personification of U.S. imperialism in an era when its depth of crisis has produced a state of perpetual war.
Savvy people in Syria and elsewhere surely understand what the Sanders endorsement means: Syria is the next Libya.
Hillary in the Oval Office, Binyamin Netanyahu at her side, will laugh as Assad gets her knife up his ass, chaos deepens, the draft is re-instated, and boys and girls–of all ethnicities, gay and straight together–march off to fight the Brava Wars drastically reducing youth unemployment and making legions more eligible for the GI Bill.
Even if Sanders doesn’t vote for the war (and why should there be a vote, after all, in this post-constitution era?), he will share responsibility.
Shame! And shame on any once “Bernie” supporter who follows him into his moral morass.
*****Feel the burn. The burn of the rigged system. Why be drawn into it—the object of Hillary’s praise, for switching so readily from him to her (for the sake of “unity”)?
What is there to unite with, but more corruption, exploitation, and wars based on lies?
The votes that matter are the votes on the street. Either Trump or Clinton will provoke mass upheaval. The key contribution of the Sanders campaign has been to lay bare for idealistic youth the magnitude of the rot in the system itself, while raising (however dishonestly) the prospect of “political revolution.”
It’s the hope Sanders has sold out. But yes, that’s what we need. Social, economic, and political revolution. Too bad he’s chosen the other side.
Gary Leupp is a Professor of History at Tufts University, and author of numerous works on Japanese history. He can be reached at: email@example.com
BETHLEHEM – Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett advocated on Thursday for Israel to kidnap Palestinians to be used as leverage to obtain the release of two Israeli civilians and the bodies of two soldiers held in the besieged Gaza Strip, Israeli media reported.
In an interview with Radio Darom, Bennett — who leads the far-right Jewish Home party — discussed the issue of releasing Palestinian prisoners as part of a deal to obtain the return of Israeli citizens Avraham Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, as well as the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, two soldiers killed during Israel’s 2014 offensive on Gaza.
“My policies are consistent over the years: complete opposition to disproportionate deals to free terrorists, and certainly in exchange for bodies,” The Times of Israel quoted Bennett as saying.
According to Israeli news outlet The Jerusalem Post, Bennett then advocated for the kidnapping of Palestinians to pressure for the release of the slain soldiers and missing Israelis.
“We should do what the State of Israel once did,” he said. “What we once did in such situations was we would go and kidnap from the other side, and create new leverage against the other side, rather than releasing more and more terrorists.”
The Jerusalem Post quoted Bennett’s spokesperson as specifying that the far-right political leader was suggesting kidnapping “terrorists,” not Palestinian civilians.
It remained unclear from Bennett’s statement whether he advocated the kidnapping of Palestinians to use as a bargaining chip to exchange with Israelis, in contradiction of his earlier statement, or as an intimidation tactic to coerce those holding the Israelis in Gaza into releasing them.
It was also unclear whether Bennett was pushing for Israel should detain more Palestinians in addition to the 7,000 currently held in Israeli prisons, or hold them completely extrajudicially.
Spokespeople for the Education Ministry and Bennett’s office were unavailable for comment on Friday, the weekend in Israel, to clarify the minister’s statements.
Bennett is well known for his incendiary rhetoric vis-a-vis Palestinians.
In the wake of several attacks last week which killed two Israelis, including a 13-year-old girl, and three Palestinians, Bennett advocated for a number of measures which have been denounced by rights groups as constituting collective punishment.
These proposed measures, many of which have been implemented, included increased settlement construction; stepping up Israel’s policy of demolition of Palestinian property built without permits; full Israeli military control over the entirety of the occupied West Bank; military closures of suspected attackers’ hometowns; the detention of suspected attackers’ family members; and cutting off internet and cellular access to the southern West Bank district of Hebron.
Israel is still withholding the bodies of at least seven Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since October, as the slain Palestinians’ families remain uncertain as to when, and if, they will be released for burial.
On Tuesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon finished his farewell trip to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. He is due to step down in December and used the occasion to urge some political will for a two-state solution as “the only way to meet the national aspirations of both peoples.” Ban also criticised the blockade of Gaza which, he said, “Suffocates its people, stifles its economy and impedes reconstruction efforts.” Interestingly, he added that it is “collective punishment for which there must be accountability.”
Speaking in Ramallah, the UN chief expressed an understanding of Palestinian frustration: “I’m aware that many Palestinians question the feasibility of reaching a just and lasting peace with Israel. They hear talk of peace but they see violence. They still live a life of checkpoints, permits, blockade, demolitions and profound economic hardships faced with growing indignities and the humiliating occupation that will soon enter its 50th year.”
During his time as Secretary General, Ban has condemned the status quo verbally but the organisation he leads has failed to take concrete action. Under his tenure, Gaza has been strangled by a tight blockade and its residents have witnessed three major Israeli offensives. In over half of his time at the top of the UN, the West Bank settler population has grown by 23 per cent (from the beginning of 2009 until the beginning of 2014), and at least two rounds of direct talks have failed. In 2014, more Palestinians were killed by Israel than in any other year since 1967. Violence and fatalities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, meanwhile, were at their highest since the beginning of his tenure in 2007.
Following the most recent Israeli war against Gaza in 2014, a UN inquiry found that Israel was responsible for striking seven official sites used by the organisation as civilian shelters, during which 44 Palestinians were killed and 227 others were injured. Releasing the report, Ban condemned the attacks “as a matter of the utmost gravity.” He noted that it was the second time during his tenure as secretary general that he had been obliged to establish a board of inquiry into incidents involving UN premises and personnel in Gaza that have occurred during the course of “tragic conflicts” in the Gaza Strip. Concerning the children killed in the war, he commented during an earlier visit, “I met so many of the beautiful children of Gaza. More than 500 were killed in the fighting – many more were wounded. What did they do wrong? Being born in Gaza is not a crime.”
However, his inaction during the conflict forced 129 organisations and distinguished individuals to sign an open letter to him. “Until today,” they wrote, “you have taken no explicit and tangible measures to address the recent Israeli attacks in the occupied Palestinian territories since 13 June. Moreover, your statements have been either misleading, because they endorse and further Israeli false versions of facts, or contrary to the provisions established by international law and to the interests of its defenders, or because your words justify Israel’s violations and crimes.”
The number of Palestinian children killed during the 2014 war led to efforts to include the Israel Defence Forces on a UN list of serious violators of children’s rights. However, while the UN chief should have supported that inclusion made by Leila Zerrougui, the UN special envoy for children and armed conflict, he didn’t. He was accused of caving into pressure and omitting the Israeli military from the list. UN sources described the decision to override Zerrougui’s recommendation as “unusual”, while Human Rights Watch called it “a blow to UN efforts to better protect children in armed conflict.”
On his farewell visit to Gaza, Ban Ki- Moon told residents that, “The UN will always be with you.” As the two-year anniversary of the beginning of the 2014 Gaza war draws near, most of the 11,000 homes destroyed and 6,800 severely damaged or rendered uninhabitable remain in ruins, largely as a result of the Israeli-led blockade. As his time as UN leader comes to a close, the Palestinians will be hoping that his successor will give them more than words.
Today following the ongoing diplomatic negotiations Israel and Turkey have officially announced normalized relations, which have been strained following the attack on Mavi Marmara on 31st May 2010. Netanyahu’s announcement on behalf of Israel came around the same time Turkey issued a statement about it. In the press conference, Netanyahu has declared in a victorious attitude that “It is a tremendous economic success for Israel. The blockade on Gaza by no means is lifted nor shall it ever be lifted. Turkey has agreed to our terms.” He has highlighted that Israel agreed not to pay compensation but to make a donation of 20 million dollars provided that the cases are withdrawn; that this move will prevent the case from establishing a precedent for other crimes of Israeli soldiers; that the agreement is a significant gain. Unfortunately the rapprochement agreement which is announced by Turkey means that blockade on Gaza is recognized by Turkey. Indeed Gaza is free according to the agreement signed in 2005 and is entitled to the right to travel and do business as it pleases without relying on anybody. The embargo means that Israel is recognized as a superior authority which has the final say on what and how much supplies can enter Gaza and this is the subject matter of the agreement announced.
The rapprochement agreement may be regarded as the easing of the blockade although many provisions are quite ambiguous. However it only constitutes a partial permission granted to Turkey. What kind of supplies and how much supplies will Israel allow Turkey to bring in to Gaza stands as a big question mark. Indeed supply entry and exit from Gaza should be free like in every other country. The issue is not entry of humanitarian relief supplies into Gaza but making sure that Gaza has its freedom of movement and transactions so that it does not have to rely on external aid. Palestine is deprived of this freedom and doomed to rely on external aid only while international law grants it to every land and government. It is simply unacceptable. Therefore, as IHH we would like to announce that we will keep up our efforts in all fronts including legal and physical arenas for the removal of the illegal and unjustifiable blockade on Gaza.
Meanwhile it is reported that the agreement has a provision stipulating that a donation will be made to the families of the victims provided that the court cases are withdrawn. These lawsuits are not filed only by victims’ families and Turkish citizens but international victims of the Mavi Marmara attack from 37 different countries. There is no withdrawal of the cases. The victims’ families remain adamant about refusing to give up their cause or withdraw their case until and unless the blockade is removed.
Israel’s arrogant attitude as if to say “I kill people and pay in cash whatever is the cost” is unacceptable. Who is going to protect Turkish citizens from Israel in international waters? Turkish government has acted this way and came to an agreement with the Israeli party. Just like what we have said since the beginning, as an international NGO we do not condone an agreement with Israel. We were never involved in the agreement nor did we partake as a party. To this day we have voiced our warnings and suggestions. From then onwards we will keep standing with Palestinian people through our court cases, our actions to break the blockade, our protests and various aids. The Mavi Marmara court cases are to continue. We hope that the parliament does not endorse this agreement which means that Israeli murderers are exonerated by Turkey. Mavi Marmara stood as a hope in the Islamic world and for the oppressed people of the world. It is our duty to keep this hope which stands for the common consciousness of humanity alive. We would like to rest our case with a Palestinian saying “Whoever covers up with Israel will remain naked.”
Israel and Turkey have reached an agreement to normalize ties, a senior Israeli official told reporters, according to Reuters. This will end the bitter rift over the Israeli Navy’s killing of nine Turkish citizens during a Gaza flotilla raid in 2010.
The agreement, which took three years to reach, is expected to be officially announced on Monday, said the official traveling with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently in Rome.
The restoration of full diplomatic relations that deteriorated after the Israeli navy killed nine Turkish and one Turkish-American pro-Palestinian activists in 2010 has been brokered with the help of Washington.
Israel conducted an operation against six civilian ships that belonged to the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in international waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The ships fit by the Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) were carrying humanitarian and construction supplies to the blockaded Gaza Strip.
The deal is likely to involve compensation (of around $20 million) to the families of the killed Turks and higher Turkish aid and development projects for Gaza, Israeli media report.
The $20 million in compensation will come as a humanitarian act to a special fund organized for the families of the victims killed by the Israeli soldiers. The payment is external to the agreement, an act of good will, and doesn’t imply that Israel has acknowledged responsibility for the incident, the official stressed, according to the Jerusalem Post. The transaction will be carried out as soon as Turkey passes legislation making it impossible for the families to file further claims against Israeli officers or soldiers.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reportedly pledged to make efforts to release the bodies of two Israeli soldiers that are held by the Hamas organization in the Gaza Strip and two other Israeli civilians.
“We asked for and received a document in which the Turkish president instructs the relevant Turkish agencies to work toward resolution of the issue of those kidnapped and missing. The document is in our hands, that’s what Turkey can do for now,” the official said, according to the Times of Israel.
The deal is to be signed on Tuesday by Foreign Ministry Director Dore Gold and his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Two of Turkey’s conditions for normalizing diplomatic relations that involved an apology and compensation are going to be fully met, reports say. The third demand – lifting the Gaza blockade – was a matter of disagreement and called for a compromise.
Israel will reportedly allow Turkey to help with the completion of a hospital in the Palestinian enclave and the construction of a new power station as well as a plant for desalination of water.
The Istanbul-based Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) has expressed its objections to the agreement on its official Twitter feed, both in English and Turkish. It includes 12 points that explain why Turkey shouldn’t be constrained with the terms of the deal, especially stressing that the agreement “should be based on the conditions of abolishing the blockade, not the embargo.”
One of the most celebrated qualities of the people of Gaza is their sumoud, their steadfastness and capacity to endure the woes inflicted by Israeli terror. Media coverage of the tiny strip is full of soppy stories about how, regardless of the number of times Israel mows the lawn or casts lead, farmers will always sow their buffer zone farmlands and medics will never cease to improvise with what little they have.
The question is not whether the people of Gaza have given up on their professions and fell to their knees before their occupiers, but the cheap reproduction of them as an extraordinary population who will continue to endure all sufferings imposed on their lives and cling to their cause. What is more disturbing is that foreign journalists on the ground often steer the conversation to get the answers they are looking for. The people of Gaza have memorised the right answer: No matter what, we will never leave.
The truth, however, is that the “people of Gaza” are for the most part sick of this framing and, in fact, a considerable number of them are leaving. In September 2014, nearly five hundred Palestinians from Gaza drowned in the Mediterranean as they attempted to reach Europe. To risk one’s life with smugglers and brave seas in pursuit of a better life elsewhere should tell us something about people’s limited capacity to endure inhumane conditions as well as the limited truth of the sumoud narrative. This is not to say that people are abandoning their struggle for justice and their liberation ideals; many join activist groups or dedicate years of research to them. However, it is time to step back a little and reassess the sumoud narrative; it is perhaps time to understand Gaza and its people on their own terms. To do so, one should look critically at blanket narratives and long-held assumptions, as well as changes that have occurred to established concepts.
There are, to my mind, two primary dangers in trumpeting this narrative of sumoud. The first lies in transforming an ordinary population into mythical creatures able to overcome the most excruciating of circumstances. This transformation places a high, and utterly unjustified, expectation on Gaza’s Palestinians to endure Israel’s relentless aggression and to hold on to the land regardless of the level of destruction implemented. This expectation winds up minimising the power and consequences of Israel’s occupation because, no matter how filthy and bloody it becomes, the Palestinians are predisposed to endure.
For Palestinians on visas abroad, questions on whether they plan to go back to Gaza at the end of their studies are often posed by -without generalising- some Palestine supporters. To be sure, what motivates the question is a principled concern for the liberation of the land. Leaving Palestine, they would say, is exactly what Israel wants. This objection is often, and understandably, voiced by exiled Palestinians and their younger descendants. It is understandable because their varied experiences of Palestine are defined less by daily reality and more by the vision of what Palestine was and will be again. The present certainly plays a role but actual daily experience makes a lot of difference. Questions of this sort, nevertheless, place a lot of pressure on those in Gaza who already have so much to deal with or live abroad under the threat of deportation. What I am calling for is a more comprehensive understanding of the conditions in Gaza and a re-examination of what sumoud means in contemporary reality.
The second danger is that the sumoud narrative paints steadfastness as a choice rather than a forced reality. Palestinians in Gaza are not given the choice between enduring Israel’s aggression and seeking opportunities elsewhere. Palestinians, at least in part, continue to plough, sow, dig tunnels, and improvise because there is no other option. Simply put, Palestinians endure because they have to, not because they choose to. It is perhaps more worthwhile to write stories on the disgraceful visa processes and mistreatment and degradation of Palestinian asylum seekers than pretend as though we have chosen to suffer and, therefore, to endure. As though we are naïve enough to allow ourselves to hope when no signs of improvement can be glanced anywhere.
The Palestinian governments in the West Bank and Gaza have taken this narrative of a mythical people to heart. Each feels it necessary to act as if the Palestinians are not only doing fine under their dysfunctional governments but are flourishing too. Mahmoud Abbas, for example, is still “state building” and constructing mythical cities such as Rawabi when hardly any land is left. The obscene complicity of both governments, together with the collective efforts of Israel, Egypt, and Jordan, have made it impossible for Palestinians trapped in Gaza to leave and, consequently, they are forced endure.
A group of employees working with international organisations active in the Gaza Strip have been found to be carrying out activities against the resistance, security website Al-Majd reported yesterday.
Security sources told the Hamas owned website that the group was found to be carrying out doubtful activities related to work sites for the Palestinian resistance.
Later on, the workers of international aid organisations were questioned and they recognised that they are connected to international intelligence services.
The foreigners recognised that they were asked to record footage of resistance work sites such as tunnels, military bases and other sensitive places, in addition to monitoring military movements in Gaza.
The security source reiterated that these collaborators used their work with the international aid organisations to cover-up their anti-resistance acts.
At the same time, they recognised that they are run by international intelligence services connected with the Israeli occupation.
In a precedent-setting decision Tuesday, the Israeli military decided not to press charges against a senior officer who ordered his troops to bombard a hospital in Gaza in 2014 to reportedly “raise their morale” with a “revenge attack” after another officer was killed.
The officer, Lieutenant Colonel Neria Yeshurun, told military investigators that he was mad that he and the soldiers were unable to attend the funeral of an officer who was killed a few days before, so “we decided to fire a volley of shells toward the point from which he lost his life.”
According to the Israeli paper Ha’aretz, Major Amihai Harch, Yeshurun’s commander, said at the time, “The only unusual thing [Yeshurun] did was that he put the incident on top of the eulogy to Dima, the company commander who was killed. That was certainly to raise [morale]. And I say to you on the level of facts — that raised morale and encouraged the soldiers to continue the mission.”
These admissions were made directly to the military investigators in Yeshurun’s case, but were not deemed sufficient to place any charges on the officer.
Although Israeli military policy says that revenge attacks are not allowed, former soldiers have reported that they are common practice in Israeli military units.
The shelling of the clinic was part of a larger attack on the Sheja’eyya neighborhood in eastern Gaza, in which more than 120 Palestinian civilians were killed in a single night during the Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2014. The 50-day long invasion resulted in more than 1400 Palestinians killed, including more than 400 children, and 91 Israelis, mainly soldiers killed during the invasion of Gaza.
The night of killings in Sheja’eyya became known to Palestinians as the Sheja’eyya massacre. Throughout the night, the shelling of the neighborhood was continuous, affecting every home – most of the neighborhood was completely destroyed, and many of those killed were crushed in the rubble of their own homes. Survivors ran through the streets carrying babies and children, desperate to escape the continuous Israeli assault.
The attack took place on July 31st, 2014, just a day after the bombing of a school where families had taken refuge. About the attack on the school, UN Secretary General stated, “I condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms. It is outrageous. It is unjustifiable, and it demands accountability and justice. Nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children.” Since the time of the attack, there has been no accountability for the soldiers involved, and no charges.
Former Israeli soldier turned whistleblower Eran Efrati published accounts at the time, in August 2014, from soldiers in two different units reporting that their commanding officers had ordered them to carry out attacks against civilians in order to ‘revenge’ for soldiers who had been killed.
Gaza Strip, occupied Palestine – Last Wednesday Rajab Khaled Abu Riela, 30 years old, his brother and two cousins left Gaza’s port at 12 pm. They stayed out fishing until 1:30 am. “When we started our way back to the port one Israeli warship approached, the soldiers started insulting us through the microphone and immediately after started shooting against our two small boats with live ammunition”. “Then their warship crashed against us. In that moment I decided to try to escape, but I was immediately shot in the leg with live ammunition”. They took Rajab and his brother to Ashdod port, where they wouldn’t give him any medicine or treatment for the injury he sustained by the Israeli forces. “I was left bleeding until 9:30am”. Finally they were sent back to Gaza, where an ambulance took him directly from Erez border to the hospital, where he had to undergo surgery.
When he finally reached Shifa Hospital, doctors managed to remove the biggest pieces of the bullet – but many small pieces still remain in his leg.
“Our future [for the fishermen] is uncertain; we don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Israel assaults us every day, takes our boats, shoots at us… Since 2005 I have pain in my chest due to an attack of the occupation, and as well my brother was injured while fishing in 2008. I’m responsible for providing for my family, we are 21 members… Now no one is providing for us, as I’m injured and they took our boat and motor. How I can work now without a boat?”
Palestinian Fishers Under Attack
Five Palestinian fishers in Gaza – Rajab Abu Riyala, Khaled Abu Riyala, Hassan Miqdad, Mahmoud Miqdad, and Bashar Abu Riyala – were arrested this morning, 31 May, by Israeli occupation forces and two fishing boats confiscated by the Israeli navy. According to the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, these arrests bring the number of Palestinian fishers in Gaza arrested by Israeli occupation forces in 2016 to 70, including eight children, and the number of boats confiscated to 20. In 2015, 71 fishermen were detained and 22 boats confiscated throughout the year.
Zakaria Baker of the UAWC, which organizes fishers and farmers for land defense and mutual support and solidarity, said that these violations against fishers in Gaza have only increased since the proclaimed decision of the Israeli occupation to “extend” the fishing area to 9 nautical miles – a decision retracted on Monday – saying that fishers could not make use of this distance because they were prevented by force of arms. The fishers were attacked this morning 5 nautical miles out to sea, Baker said. Further, Israeli occupation forces fired on fishing boats northwest of Gaza city, damaging a fishing boat and forcing the fishermen to flee for safety, and in the sea off Deir al-Balah, firing live bullets pushing the fishers back to the beach.
On Monday, Israeli occupation naval forces said that the extended fishing zone had been “temporary,” for the fishing season, and that the fishing zone was again six nautical miles. The limit has frequently been used as a means of pressure and of maintaining the naval siege on Gaza; while the Oslo Accords set Gaza fishers’ zone as 20 nautical miles, the Israeli occupation has unilaterally lowered it to an area as small as three nautical miles, extended to six in 2014.
The fishing economy in Gaza – which supports 70,000 Palestinians – has been nearly destroyed by the naval siege on Gaza and the attacks on Palestinian boats, causing expensive boat damage to small fishing families who cannot afford repairs and preventing Palestinian fishers from entering deep waters where mature fish are available. Fishers in Gaza have lost 85% of their income since 2006 and the tightening of the siege.
On 30 May – 4 June 2016, activists are engaged in campaigns against the siege on Gaza – the denial of reconstruction, the smothering of the Palestinian economy, the closing of the crossings and denial of freedom of movement, the prevention of trade, the aerial attacks on Gaza, the firing on Palestinian farmers and destruction of Palestinian agriculture in the “no-go zone” near the border, and the strangling of the Palestinian fishery of Gaza – demanding an end to 10 years of Israeli siege with international support and complicity, and the involvement of the Egyptian state.
The actions mark ten years of siege and six years since Israel naval commandos attacked the international Freedom Flotilla to Gaza, killing ten Turkish activists seeking to break the naval siege. The occupation’s draconian restrictions on the movement of people and goods, along with its repeated military onslaughts and their destruction of Palestinian industry, resources, infrastructure, and life, have pushed the local unemployemt rate to 41.2%, the highest in the world. 75,000 remain displaced following Israel’s destruction of their homes, which have yet to be rebuilt, during its 2014 bombardment. Family members, patients, students, and workers are trapped, with over 25,000 having applied for rare permits to leave through the one crossing with Egypt.
UAWC video on Palestinian fishers in Gaza:
End the Siege on Gaza
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges protests and actions to support the besieged fishers in Gaza, and raising the voice of Palestinian fishers to end the attacks and break the siege on Gaza. Samidoun in New York City will rally on Friday, 3 June at 4:00 pm outside the offices of G4S at 19 W. 44th Street in New York City. G4S, the world’s largest security company and second-biggest private employer, equips Israeli prisons and detention centers where Palestinian prisoners, including many fishermen detained off the coast of Gaza, are held and tortured, as well as the occupation forces and infrastructure – like checkpoints surrounding the Gaza Strip – routinely used to massacre Palestinians while holding millions under military rule.
1. Organize or join a protest against the attacks and arrests of Palestinian fishers and the siege on Gaza, outside your national government buildings, local Israeli embassy, G4S office, or corporation involved in the occupation. If you are in New York, join Samidoun’s protest – elsewhere, send us your local protests against the attacks on Palestinian fishers in Gaza. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Contact political officials in your country – members of Parliament or Congress, or the Ministry/Department of Foreign Affairs or State – and demand that they cut aid and relations with Israel on the basis of its apartheid practices, its practice of colonialism, and its numerous violations of Palestinian rights including the siege on Gaza and the attacks on fishers. Demand they pressure Israel to stop attacking Palestinian fishers and strangling Palestinians in Gaza. In the United States, call the Israel/Palestine Bureau at the State Department at 202-647-3930 and the White House – 202-456-1111. Demand action on Barghouthi’s case and an end to aid to Israel. In the UK, call UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Philip Hammond, MP, +44 20 7008 1500. In Canada, call Foreign Minister Stephane Dion: 613-996-5789.
3. Boycott, Divest and Sanction. Hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law. Don’t buy Israeli goods, and campaign to end investments in corporations that profit from the occupation. G4S, a global security corporation, is heavily involved in providing services to Israeli prisons that jail Palestinian political prisoners – there is a global call to boycott it. Palestinian political prisoners have issued a specific call urging action on G4S. Learn more about BDS at bdsmovement.net.