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Energy in Palestine – an introduction

By Palestina, Gas en de Palestijnse Revolutie | 25-12-2017

Fifteen gas fields have been found on the coast of Palestine since 1999. With a value of at least two hundred thirty billion dollar, this gas will play an important role in the region. The key question for us is how the gas will influence the Palestinian people and their struggle for liberation. This article is a short introduction to this topic.

Who, what, how much?

The first gas field off the coast of Palestine was found in 1999 and the first flow of gas was realized five years later. Up until today fifteen gas fields have been found that belong to Palestine, six of which are being exploited by ‘Israel’.[1] The total amount of gas is between forty and fifty TCF (trillion cubic feet) and has a minimal value of $230bn.

‘Israeli’ state and exploitation

As a settler-colony and apartheid state, ‘Israel’ has complete control of the gas fields. 40% of the gas will be exported and the remaining 60% will be used for domestic consumption.[2] The sole current export is to Jordan with a total value of fifteen billion dollars. Cyprus, Greece, Italy and the EU also have a joint agreement for the construction of a pipeline to facilitate ‘Israeli’ gas exports to Europe. In regards to domestic consumption the gas makes ‘Israel’ energy independent for the coming decades. ‘Israel’s’ economic position and economic independence are clearly strengthened by the exploitation of the gas fields.

The PA and political parties

The gas has far reaching political consequences. Gas deals with foreign states on the one hand further normalize ‘Israel’ and strengthen its economy. On the other hand gas platforms, pipelines and complicit companies are new targets for the Palestinian resistance and the international solidarity movement. It is only a matter of time before the global BDS movement becomes a significant force against the ‘Israeli’ exploitation of the gas. In this sense, the political meaning of the gas is two-sided or contradictory: on the one hand it strengthens the occupation economy; on the other hand it offers more ways of resistance.

But not all Palestinians have a problem with the Zionist gas exploitation. The Palestinian Authority is as always positive about ‘Israel’ and ‘their’ gas. While the PA canceled a $1.2 billion gas deal with ‘Israel’ in March 2015[3], they offer no resistance to ‘Israeli’ control over the gas. This holds for the gas in Gaza, the Dutch institute SOMO wrote that ‘Israel’ is currently stealing the gas there.[4]

Hamas, who govern Gaza, and the PFLP have been confronting ‘Israel’ about the gas. Mohammed al Zoari, aka ‘the engineer’, was killed in Tunisia in December 2016. He was working on an underwater drone for Hamas to attack gas- and oil platforms.[5] The PFLP rejects all non-Palestinian exploitation of the gas and also agitates against regimes that make gas deals with the Zionist entity.[6][7][8][9]

The Palestinian struggle for liberation in the Netherlands

Noble Energy (United States), Delek Group and Avner (both ‘Israeli’) are the most active companies currently involved with Palestinian gas. Additionally involved is, Royal Dutch Shell (British-Dutch), mainly working on the gas fields on the coast of Gaza. While the PA is in talks with Shell about exploitation of these fields, this is likely never to be a reality. Multiple high-placed ‘Israeli’ scientists and politicians have spoken negatively about a fast exploitation of the Gaza fields. Shell also wants to buy ‘Israeli’ gas to sell in Egypt.[10]

It may be clear that the Dutch movement can play an important role because of the Shell involvement. Add to this that work is being put into constructing a pipeline from Palestine to Europe.[11] With a government that probably wants less dependence on Russian gas[12], Palestinian gas can be flowing through the Netherlands in a decade.

The BDS-movement, especially in the Middle East, is already working on stopping the gas theft. It is our task in the Netherlands to follow this example and stand shoulder to shoulder with activists in Jordan,[13], Turkey[14] and Palestine. We have to struggle in order to guarantee that the resistance will be stronger than the ‘Israeli’ gas profits.

[1] Al-Haq. 2015. ‘Annexing Energy’ report. http://www.alhaq.org/publications/Annexing.Energy.pdf

[2] Jordan BDS. 2014. ‘$8.4billion to Israel’s treasury from Jordanian citizens’. http://jordanbds.net/?page_id=581

[3] Winer, Stuart. 11 maart 2015. ‘Palestinians cancel natural gas deal with Israel’ https://www.timesofisrael.com/palestinians-cancel-natural-gas-deal-with-israel/

[4] SOMO. 2017. ‘Beneath troubled waters’ report. https://www.somo.nl/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Beneath-troubled-waters.pdf

[5] Burton, Fred. 31 December 2016. ‘Mossad’s Fingerprints on a Murder in Tunisia’.  https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/mossads-fingerprints-murder-tunisia

[6] 25 februari 2015. PFLP denounces “treacherous” gas deal (between PA and ‘Israel’) and demands immediate cancellation. http://pflp.ps/english/2015/02/25/pflp-denounces-treacherous-gas-deal-and-demands-immediate-cancellation/

[7] 18 mei 2016. PFLP denounces joint US/Israeli/Greek military exercises, calls for action from Greek popular movement. http://pflp.ps/english/2016/05/18/pflp-denounces-joint-usisraeligreek-military-exercises-calls-for-action-from-greek-popular-movement/

[8] 1 juli 2016. PFLP warns of dangerous Turkish-Israeli agreement built on looting the natural gas of the Palestinian people. http://pflp.ps/english/2016/07/01/pflp-warns-of-dangerous-turkish-israeli-agreement-built-on-looting-the-natural-gas-of-the-palestinian-people/

[9] 25 oktober 2016. Jordan protests continue against national gas deal with Zionist state. http://pflp.ps/english/2016/10/25/jordan-protests-continue-against-national-gas-deal-with-zionist-state/

[10] 21 augustus 2017. Shell ‘to buy Israeli gas’ for Egypt market.  https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2017/8/21/shell-to-buy-israeli-gas-for-egypt-market

[11] https://www.reuters.com/article/energy-mediterranean-natgas/greece-italy-israel-and-cyprus-back-natgas-pipeline-to-europe-idUSL8N1O537F

[12] https://www.fluxenergie.nl/europa-wordt-steeds-afhankelijker-russisch-gas/

[13] 12 november 2016. (Jordanian) Protesters detained briefly over protest against gas deal with Israel. http://www.jordantimes.com/news/local/protesters-detained-briefly-over-protest-against-gas-deal-israel

[14] 28 maart 2017. BDS Turkey: Turkish-Israeli energy cooperation is unacceptable! http://bdsturkiye.org/bds-haberler/bds-turkey-turkish-israeli-energy-cooperation-is-unacceptable/

Translation by Samidoun

December 25, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rest In Peace: Mohamed Moheisen, 29

Israel-Palestine Timeline | December 22, 2017

Mohammad Nabil Moheisin, 29, was killed, Friday by Israeli soldiers when the soldiers, stationed across the border fence, resorted to the excessive use of force against Palestinian protesters, in several parts of the Gaza Strip.

During the day in which Mohammad was killed, another young Palestinian, Zakariya al-Kayarna, 24, was also killed, in a separate protest in Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza. The Israeli troops injured at least 123 others, including three who suffered life-threatening wounds, and caused dozens to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation.

Medics also provided treatment to dozens of Palestinians, who suffered the effects of teargas inhalation.

The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza has confirmed that 123 Palestinians were shot with live Israeli army fire, and dozens suffered the severe effects of teargas inhalation, in the northern and eastern parts of the besieged coastal region on this day.

It added that among the wounded were five medics, and four journalists.

In Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza, the soldiers shot eight young Palestinian men, especially in the area close to Erez Terminal. The wounded were rushed to the Indonesian Hospital, suffering moderate wounds.

Furthermore, the soldiers shot 27 Palestinians in Jabalia, in northern Gaza; one of them suffered a serious injury, while most of the wounded residents suffered moderate wounds.

Ten Palestinians were also shot, east of the al-Boreij refugee camp, in Central Gaza; one of them suffered a serious injury, and was rushed to the Al-Aqsa Hospital, in nearby Deir al-Balah city.

In addition, the soldiers shot 22 Palestinians east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza strip, and six others in nearby Rafah, before they were all moved to Nasser Hospital and Abu Yousef an-Najjar Hospital, suffering moderate wounds.

The Palestinian Red Crescent in the Gaza Strip has reported that its medics also provided treatment to at least 100 Palestinians, including many women and children, who suffered the effects of teargas inhalation.

Mohammad was shot by a soldier in a military tower, in Nahal Oz base, across the border fence, east of Gaza city. He was from Jabalia in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

December 24, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

The ‘Last Martyr’: Who Killed My Neighbor, Kamal Al-Assar?

Posters of Kamal Al-Assar following his death in 2008. (Photo: Supplied)
By Ramzy Baroud | Palestine Chronicle | December 9, 2017

When I learned of the death of Kamal Al-Assar a few years ago, I was baffled. He was only in his 40s. I remember him in his prime, a young rebel, leading the neighborhood youth, armed with rocks and slingshots, in a hopeless battle against the Israeli army. Understandably, we lost, but we won something far more valuable than a military victory. We reclaimed our identity.

At every anniversary of the First Palestinian Intifada, a popular uprising that placed the Palestinian people firmly on the map of world consciousness, I think of all the friends and neighbors I have lost, and those I have left behind. The image of Ra’ed Mu’anis, in particular, haunts me. When an Israeli sniper’s bullet plunged into his throat, he ran across the neighborhood to find help before he collapsed at the graffiti-washed walls of my house.

“Freedom. Dignity. Revolution,” was written in large red letters on the wall, a pronouncement signed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Only later I learned that Kamal was the one who carried Ra’ed out of the firing zone. But it was too late. Ra’ed, a skinny and feeble teenager, with a distinct black mark on his forehead had bled alone at the steps of my home. When he was buried, hundreds of refugees descended on the Martyrs Graveyard. They carried Palestinian flags and chanted for the Intifada and the long-coveted freedom. Ra’ed’s mother was too weakened by her grief to join the procession. His father tried to stay strong, but wept uncontrollably instead.

Kamal was revitalized by the Intifada. When the uprising broke out, he emerged from his own solitude. Life made sense once again.

For him, as for me and many of our generation, the Intifada was not a political event. It was an act of personal – as much as collective – liberation: the ability to articulate who we were at a time when all seemed lost. The Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) languished in Tunisia after being forced to leave Lebanon in 1982. Arab governments seemed to have lost interest in Palestine altogether. Israel emerged triumphant and invincible.

And we – those living under protracted military occupation – felt completely abandoned.

When, on December 8, 1987, thousands took to the streets of Jabaliya Refugee Camp, the Gaza Strip’s largest and poorest camp, the timing and the location of their uprising was most fitting, rational and necessary. Earlier on that day, an Israeli truck had run over a row of cars carrying Palestinian laborers, killing four young men. For Jabaliya, as with the rest of Palestine, it was the last straw.

Responding to the chants and pleas of the Jabaliya mourners, the refugees in my refugee camp – Nuseirat – marched to the Israeli military barracks, known as the “tents”, where hundreds of soldiers had tormented my camp’s residents for years.

In the morning of December 9, thousands of Nuseirat youth took to the streets and vowed to avenge the innocent blood of the Jabaliya victims of the previous day. They swung large flags made of silky fabric that swayed beautifully in Gaza’s salty air and, as the momentum grew and they became intoxicated by their own collective chants, they marched to the “tents” where the soldiers were uneasily perched on the tops of watchtowers, hiding behind their binoculars and automatic machine guns.

Within minutes, a war had started and a third generation of refugee-camp-born fellahin peasants stood fearlessly against a well-equipped army that was visibly gripped by fear and confusion. The soldiers wounded many that day and several children were killed.

Kamal was on the frontlines. He waved the largest flag, chanting the loudest, threw rocks the furthest and incessantly urged young men not to retreat.

Kamal hated school as well as his teachers. To him they seemed so docile, adhering to the rules of the occupier which decreed that Palestinians not teach their own history, so that the fellahin were denied even the right to remember who they were or where they came from. The Intifada was the paradigm shift that offered an alternative – however temporary, however chaotic – to the methodical humiliation of life under occupation.

Within hours, Kamal felt liberated. He was no longer tucked away in a dark room reading the works of Marx and Gramsci. He was in the streets of Nuseirat fashioning his own utopia.

The Intifada was that transformational period that saved a generation from being entirely lost, and Palestine from being forgotten. It offered a new world, that of solidarity, camaraderie and wild youth who needed no one to speak on their behalf.

Within weeks of bloody clashes in which hundreds of youth fell dead or wounded, the nature of the Intifada became clearer. On one hand, it was a popular struggle of civil disobedience, mass protests, commercial and labor strikes, refusal to pay taxes and so on. On the other hand, militant cells of refugee youth were beginning to organize and leave their mark, as well.

The militancy of the intifada did not become apparent until later, when the repression by the Israeli government grew more violent. Under the banner of the “Iron Fist” campaign, a new Israeli stratagem was devised, that of the “broken bones” policy. Once captured, youth had their hands and legs broken by soldiers in a systematic and heartless manner. In my neighborhood, children with casts and crutches seemed to outnumber those without.

Kamal was eventually detained from his home. He attempted to escape but the entire neighborhood was teeming with soldiers, who arrived at night as they always do. They commenced the torturous rite in his living room, as his mother – the resilient, Tamam – shoved her body between him and the ruthless men.

When Kamal regained consciousness, he found himself in a small cell, with thick, unwashed walls that felt cold and foreign. He spent most of his prison time in the torture chamber. His survival was itself nothing less than a miracle.

When the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, officially ending the Intifada, Kamal’s generation felt betrayed. Nothing good came out of that “peace”, except that a few rich Palestinians grew even richer.

Kamal died a few years ago. I learned that his revolution never ceased. He became a teacher, laboring to reconstruct the history of his people at a local Gaza university. His mother, now an old refugee in Nuseirat is still heartbroken over her son’s death. She told me that Kamal’s wounds and physical ailments from prison never healed.

Kamal was a martyr, she told me. Perhaps the last martyr in an uprising that was not meant to liberate land, but liberate people from the idea that they were meant to exist as perpetual victims; and it did.

December 19, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

70% of Palestinians want Abbas to resign immediately

MEMO | December 13, 2017

Some 70 per cent of Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip want President Mahmoud Abbas to resign immediately, according to a new poll by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research conducted 7-10 December.

The poll, conducted in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) in the immediate aftermath of US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, makes grim reading for Abbas, with those demanding his resignation up three points from September.

Abbas’ net satisfaction rating, meanwhile, has dropped one point to minus 35, with just 31 per cent satisfied with his performance, compared to 66 per cent who are dissatisfied.

When asked about who should succeed Abbas, 35 per cent expressed a preference for Marwan Barghouthi, 22 per cent would vote for Ismail Haniyeh, while Mohammad Dahlan attracted the support of just seven per cent of Palestinians (15 per cent in Gaza and one per cent in the West Bank).

With regards to the national unity file, 38 per cent of Palestinians in the oPt are satisfied and 55 per cent are dissatisfied with the performance of the reconciliation government. Fifty per cent are optimistic and 45 per cent are pessimistic about the success of reconciliation; three months ago, optimism stood at 31 per cent and pessimism at 61 per cent.

Some 81 per cent of Palestinians in the oPt want the reconciliation government to pay the salaries of the civil employees of the former Hamas government, while only 14 per cent do not it to do so. The same number (81 per cent) want the reconciliation government to pay the salaries of the security sector employees of the former Hamas government.

With regards to Abbas’ call for “one government, one gun”, only 22 per cent of those polled support the disbanding of Palestinian factions’ armed wings in the Gaza Strip, and 72 per cent want those armed groups to remain in place.

Regarding Trump’s policy shift on Jerusalem, a plurality of Palestinians (45 per cent) believe that “the most appropriate” Palestinian response is to stop all contacts with the US administration, submit a formal complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and resort to an armed intifada.

Twenty-seven per cent want an end to contacts, the submission of a complaint to the ICC, and “non-violent resistance”. Twelve per cent want the Palestinian Authority to simply denounce the US step and stop contacts with the Trump administration, while another 12 per cent want just verbal condemnation.

A plurality of Palestinians (44 per cent) believe armed resistance is the most effective means of establishing a Palestinian state, 27 per cent think negotiation is the most effective means, and 23 per cent think non-violent resistance is the most effective. Three months ago, 35 per cent indicated that armed resistance is the answer and 33 per cent sided with negotiation.

While most Palestinians believe the Trump administration will not submit a plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace, 86 per cent believe that any such plan “will not meet Palestinian need to end occupation and build a state”. Nonetheless, 49 per cent think Abbas might accept the American peace plan if one is indeed submitted to him, while 42 per cent believe he will not accept it.

Regarding “public trust in the roles and positions of major Arab countries in the peace process and the US efforts to develop a regional agreement in the context of Palestinian-Israeli peace”, 82 per cent of Palestinians in the oPt say they do not trust the Saudi role, 75 per cent do not trust the Emirati role, and 70 per cent do not trust the Egyptian role.

 

December 13, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | Leave a comment

Palestine: Saudi Arabia, Egypt using Rafah crossing to pressure us

MEMO | November 17, 2017

The Rafah crossing between the besieged Gaza Strip and Egypt is being used a tool to pressure Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to enter into US-backed peace talks with Israel, a Palestinian Authority official has said.

“The Rafah crossing has become a tool that Egypt and Saudi Arabia use to pressure Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to accept the entry into a new round of US-backed negotiations with Israel,” the PA official said, warning that “the negotiations could reach results that may affect the rights of the Palestinians.”

According to the Cairo agreement which was signed on 12 October, Egypt agreed with Fatah and Hamas to reopen the Rafah border crossing last Tuesday, but the official said that “Saudi Arabia seemed to have pressured Egypt to retreat until the PA approves the two-state solution deal.”

The official described the exploiting of the only humanitarian crossing for Gaza’s residents as “suspicious”.

“They [Arab countries] are using the crossing to strengthen their ties with the US and Israel” he added.

Israel has maintained a blockade on Gaza for a decade, with tight restrictions in place on the movement of people and goods at its crossings, citing the need to control Hamas and stop Islamic groups from obtaining weapons or materials that could be used against Tel Aviv. Egypt has supported the blockade by closing the Rafah crossing, leaving Palestinian in Gaza no access to the outside world.

Gaza’s two million residents suffer from worsening humanitarian conditions, with only a few hours of power a day and a lack of clean water. Control of the Rafah crossing at Gaza’s southern border has long been a sticking point between the two Palestinian factions, and between Egypt and the Palestinians in Gaza for whom the crossing represents a vital gateway to the outside world.

November 17, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

The resumption of PA security coordination with Israel is no surprise

By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | November 14, 2017

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas is not one to miss an opportunity to collaborate with Israel. At sporadic intervals, the suspension of security coordination with Israel was implemented temporarily only when Palestinians were protesting over Israeli violence or, for example, surveillance at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Despite congratulatory statements regarding Abbas’s decision to suspend what he has called “sacred” coordination with the occupation authorities, there was still doubt over its implementation; there were even occasional comments that security coordination had resumed even as the PA was still congratulating itself over the “suspension”.

Last week, all doubts were dissipated as the PA confirmed that it had resumed security coordination with Israel two weeks earlier. In terms of accuracy, the time frame can be contested, given that reports as early as August had already confirmed such collaboration. In light of the reconciliation agreement between the PA and Hamas, it is thus ever more pertinent to question the underlying motives behind such a deal, which has the potential to open up Gaza to Israel.

According to comments on Press TV, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum declared the movement’s “surprise” at the announcement. Security coordination “is the equivalent of the greatest danger to the Palestinian people, its unity and its legitimate rights, including the right to resist the occupation,” he said. Barhoum also described the move as distorting “the reputation” of the Palestinian people, their struggles and history.

While Barhoum’s comments show an understanding of the implications, claiming to be surprised was surely an exaggeration. Had Gaza not been forced to seek a compromise with Fatah, it is possible that the current political scenario would not be defined by a reconciliation agreement, particularly one which so far is seeking to overturn the resistance with which Hamas has been identified and which sets the movement apart from other political factions due to being forced into situations necessitating defence in the enclave.

Within the same time frame of the security coordination announcement, senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzook also stated that responsibility for Palestinians in Gaza now rests entirely with the PA as a sign of credibility to eliminate internal division. The problem is that the emphasis on internal division is being isolated from the repercussions upon Palestinians. If the current trend continues, Palestinian leaders will be making the same mistakes as the international community by separating the political from the humanitarian, thus creating different levels of responsibility, visibility and accountability.

If the PA determines the course of the reconciliation agreement, security coordination will ultimately provide Israel with access to the Gaza Strip unless Hamas decides on an alternative course of action, which is to refute the entire facade of “unity” that has been shaped by Mahmoud Abbas. Coercion has been a primary factor influencing the reconciliation agreement, compounded with the international isolation of Gaza, its people and Hamas. Security coordination is another form of coercion which will determine additional levels of oppression for Palestinians, including those in Gaza.

For many years, Abbas has sought to maintain different forms of violence in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, using deprivation and security coordination respectively. Under such circumstances, Hamas will be in dire need of further evaluation and a different strategy.

Read Also: What prisoners mean to the Palestinian Authority

PA’s security coordination with Israel greatest threat to unity

November 14, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 2 Comments

From the Battle of Beersheba to the War on Syria: Australia Is Complicit in Israel’s Crimes

By David Macilwain | American Herald Tribune | November 6, 2017

On a sunny Saturday morning in late December 2008, new police recruits were gathered outside the town hall in Gaza city for their graduation ceremony. Tensions were high in the strip because of persistent threats from the IDF that they would strike hard against Hamas militants if any more rockets were fired into Israeli territory, but it was a Jewish holiday and the recruits were relaxed.

Ten minutes later those 40 recruits lay dead, along with 180 others in 24 police stations and in Hamas offices across Gaza, mown down by a barrage of fire from Israeli jets and armed drones. So began the 22 day massacre named “Operation Cast Lead”, during which the IDF slaughtered at least 1400 civilians and laid waste to 40,000 homes as well as Gaza’s water and sewage treatment works and power station.

The inhuman generals and soldiers of the IDF used every tool in their armoury to inflict pain, not on the militants and their home-made rockets – who remained unbowed – but on all the ordinary and defenceless citizens of Gaza – old men and young girls, infants and mothers; whole families even were butchered in this sadistic and unrestrained barbarity.

While one tool in Israel’s armoury – nuclear weapons – didn’t feature in Operation Cast Lead, it was the only exclusion. Gaza was shelled from the sea, and by tanks from behind. Missiles were fired from Predator Drones, and from fighter jets, some with mere explosives and others with “Flechette” shells, DIME shells and White Phosphorus. And when a ground invasion was launched following the initial “softening up”, Israeli snipers and tanks committed more unspeakable crimes, using children as human shields.

Gaza was also hit with 5 tonne bunker busters, putting on a great show for the Israelis who had gathered on a nearby hill at the invitation of the IDF and the Defence Minister Ehud Barak. They were so proud of their skin-eating incendiaries that Barak even used video of the spectacular White Phosphorus showers in his campaign for election. It didn’t work, as Netanyahu was elected, but Israelis never got to see the horrific pictures of children with burns through to the bone caused by the illegal use of this chemical weapon.

Meanwhile in the Western world, which was already well on the way to its current state of “collective unconsciousness” of the state of Palestine thanks to the power of the Israel lobby on Western media, there was no outcry against Israel’s brutality, or calls for it to stop its attack. Israel had carefully framed the narrative months before, breaking a six-month long ceasefire by launching a provocative airstrike on November 4th. Hamas had kept to the ceasefire and controlled the militants responsible for rocket fire, which was the last thing that Israel wanted; a new rocket “attack” on Israel soon followed its provocation as expected, and Israel was “forced to respond in self-defence”.

As the birthplace of Rupert Murdoch and his paper “The Australian”, the view of Australians on Israel’s latest atrocity against its indigenous inhabitants was as ill-informed as in other Western countries. Supporters of Palestine and human rights were pilloried as supporters of “terrorism”, and both parties in Parliament supported “Israel’s right to self-defence”. This was despite near zero casualties of Israelis, who were never seriously threatened by Hamas’ rockets, and the assault went on until just before the inauguration of President Obama when Israel announced a “unilateral ceasefire”.

While there was a group of MPs in the Australian Labor party who supported the Palestinian cause, they also mostly supported groups like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, as well as the UN. These groups were consistent in calling for “both sides” to refrain from violence, as well as supporting the “Peace Process” and the “two-state solution”; all positions that failed to identify Israel as the aggressor and to hold it responsible for the death and destruction inflicted by its “most moral army in the world”.

There was however a significant amount of protest from other parts of the world, and calls for an investigation at the UN led to an inquiry visiting Gaza and later issuing the “Goldstone Report”, which accused “both sides” of war crimes. The Australian Labor government of Kevin Rudd rejected its findings as biased against Israel, when any fair-minded person could see that Israel had not only committed multiple war crimes but that it had launched the attack on Gaza’s captive population for its own entirely illegitimate reasons – not in “self-defence”.

The defining point in the Australia-Israel relationship however occurred in June 2009, when Deputy PM Julia Gillard visited Israel, as reported in the Melbourne Age:

In front of an elite audience of Israeli politicians, academics and cultural figures at a dinner at the landmark King David Hotel, senior Israeli minister Isaac Herzog paid a warm tribute to Ms. Gillard for her support for Israel during the Gaza conflict in January.

“You stood almost alone on the world stage in support of Israel’s right to defend itself,” enthused Mr. Herzog, an act of courage he said would never be forgotten by the people of Israel.

Ms. Gillard was Acting Prime Minister when Israel launched a three-week offensive against Hamas that resulted in the deaths of more than 1300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

At the time, Ms. Gillard condemned Hamas for shelling southern Israel, but pointedly refused to criticise Israel’s response, although she did urge it to be “very mindful” of civilian casualties.

Lest we forget!

Because the Australia-Israel relationship blossomed last week in a way that should offend the senses of all decent Australians and Israelis, as well as alarm the citizens of Syria and Lebanon who find themselves in Israel’s firing line. Marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba, in which allied forces including hundreds of Australian horsemen overran Turkish defences in the town, marking the beginning of the end of Ottoman control in the Levant, Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull interpreted it like this, for the benefit of his Israeli friends; (no Palestinian representatives were invited to the celebration and re-enactment, despite “Arabs” being partners in the Allied campaign.) – and referencing the Balfour agreement that followed:

“Had the Ottoman rule in Palestine and Syria not been overthrown, the declaration would have been empty words. But this was a step for the creation of Israel.

“While those young men may not have foreseen — no doubt did not foresee — the extraordinary success of the state of Israel, its foundations, its resilience, its determination, their spirit was the same.

“And, like the state of Israel has done ever since, they defied history, they made history, and with their courage they fulfilled history. Lest we forget.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the Anzac soldiers for their bravery, saying the liberation of Beersheba, “allowed the Jewish people to re-enter the stage of history”.

Mr Netanyahu used his address at the solemn ceremony to warn against attacks on Israel, saying, “We attack those who seek to attack us.”

Nice sentiment!

While Turnbull and Netanyahu have evidently forgotten that Israel wasn’t created for another thirty years, or would rather that we “remembered” it as something our brave forbears fought for, neither the Palestinians who were subsequently evicted from their lives in Beersheba and into the Gaza “refugee camp”, nor the Arab cameleers who took part in the assault have forgotten the betrayal. This came with unseemly haste, as the Balfour declaration was issued a mere three days later.

In the days before the Beersheba ceremony, the Australian contingent led by Turnbull, but including the current Labor leader Bill Shorten, had worked hard to forge new partnerships and business links with Israel in the things that Israel does well – surveillance, counter terrorism and defence, and IT industries. Australia already has significant links with Israel in these and other areas, which has made it the focus of some BDS activity at home. But even as conditions in Gaza and the West Bank have continued to worsen and illegal settlements grown into effectively an annexation of Palestinian land, the BDS movement has been stifled.

All of this does not augur well. Australia and Israel are already “collaborating” in Syria, as far as they are both indirectly and directly supporting terrorist groups fighting the Syrian Army and its Hezbollah allies. As recent Israeli actions on the Lebanese-Syrian border and in the occupied Golan Heights demonstrate a bull-headed approach to a conflict that Israel should now be withdrawing from, these moves towards strengthening the alliance with Australia – which already has close links with the UAE and other Persian Gulf states – look all too much like forward planning for a long-feared new war on South Lebanon.

And who could forget the last one, where Hezbollah successfully prevailed against the IDF in 2006? The children of South Lebanon, who lost arms and legs to “dud” cluster bomblets for years afterwards have not forgotten. And those who learnt of his crime at the time have not forgotten the “retribution” commanded by Moshe Kaplinsky, where Israeli aircraft dropped an estimated 3.7 million cluster bombs in the last three days of the assault, and after ceasefire terms had been agreed.

While there were decent men in the IDF who at least recognised this monstrous war crime they had been ordered to commit, it had no ill effect on General Kaplinsky’s “executive” career. Rather the opposite in fact, as an examination of the records of Israel’s leaders would show. It’s not something we should forget.

November 6, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Hamas slams PA for insistence on EU mission at Rafah crossing

Palestine Information Center – November 4, 2017

GAZA – Member of Hamas Political Bureau, Mousa Abu Marzouk, condemned in a tweet on Saturday the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) insistence on the existence of the EU mission at Rafah border crossing. This means the return of the Israeli control over the crossing, he highlighted.

“Why is the PA keen on the Israeli existence at the crossing when it has become managed by a national administration?” Abu Marzouk wondered.

Last Wednesday, the Palestinian consensus government took over the control of Gaza Strip crossings in accordance with the latest Cairo reconciliation agreement.

November 4, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | Leave a comment

Handing control of crossings to the PA ‘removes Israeli pretext for siege on Gaza’

MEMO | November 4, 2017

The Popular Committee against the Israeli Siege on Gaza said on Friday that handing over control of the Gaza border crossings to the Palestinian Authority removes the Israeli pretext for maintaining its siege on the territory, Anadolu has reported.

“It is obligatory on Israel to lift its siege and restrictions on the crossings,” said the Committee, “and to ease the movement of goods and people and cancel the list of goods banned from entering Gaza.”

According to the group’s statement, 80 per cent of the factories in the Gaza Strip have either stopped production or implemented severe cuts due to the siege. Unemployment now stands at 50 per cent and 80 per cent of the population are in poverty. “These are scary statistics,” it said.

The head of the Committee is independent Palestinian MP Jamal Al-Khodari, who described the 10-year siege on Gaza as “illegal and amounting to collective punishment.” He called for a Palestinian campaign to get the international community to take up its role in obliging the Israeli occupation to lift the siege on the enclave.

The Israeli occupation authorities closed the Gaza border crossings in the wake of the Hamas victory in the 2006 Palestinian elections and the ousting of Fatah from the territory a year later. Last month, Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement brokered by Egypt, and handed over the crossings on 1 November to the Ramallah-based PA as part of the deal.

READ MORE:

Ramona Wadi: Despite his talk of ‘reconciliation’, Abbas continues to act in Israel’s interests

November 4, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Young photographers from Gaza capture moments of joy

Gaza’s young photographers record moments of happiness

An impoverished family from the north of Beit Lahia enjoys a light moment. The father is strumming a guitar, a young girl is dancing while the boys are playing music with simple household utensils. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Mouhamad Al-Barawi
ICRC | October 17, 2017

A quick Google search for Gaza will show you multiple images of rubble and raw sewage pouring into the Mediterranean. These are the images that often appear in our mind together with the things we once heard or read about the place. For example, that it is “the world’s largest outdoor prison” or that it “will become unlivable”. But is this the way Gazans themselves see their homeland?

The photo competition we launched among young and extremely talented Gazan photographers was meant to answer this question. At first, we were not sure, whether a photo competition was even a good idea. Would people, who are trying to live their lives though the economic crisis and the electricity crisis, unable to access basic goods and services, have time and energy to spare for such a trivial and unnecessary thing as a photo competition? It turned out they did. And we were taken aback by the results.

Young photographers, contemplating their immediate surroundings, showed that life in Gaza is much more than crises, fences, isolation and the enormous suffering they cause. It is a quiet moment where a little fisherman, who almost seems like a part of the seascape, is looking under the sea surface, probably wondering what the future will be like for him and his generation, in a place where the young face 66% unemployment rate. It is children holding candles in the darkness, not metaphorical, but very real, as people have to organize their lives around four hours of electricity per day. It is also immense joy and laughter when an improvised family band explores music making potential of aluminum cooking pots.

This diversity of moments of happiness, laughter, quiet contemplation show that people of Gaza did not just put their lives on hold waiting for long overdue political solutions. Every single day, they demonstrate incredible resilience in the face of the harsh realities that surround them.

This photo shows the joy and fun that children can experience in the face of poverty. It relays a profound message: Happiness is in simplicity. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Fadi Badwan
This photo shows the joy and fun that children can experience in the face of poverty. It relays a profound message: Happiness is in simplicity. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Fadi Badwan
Children from Gaza sit in the trunk of an old car. They play music on a toy and enjoy the moment despite their poor living conditions. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Ahmad Hasaball
Children playing infront of their house seeking joy from the things around them. These kids lack toys and play grounds in light of the poor living conditions in Gaza. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Ahmad Salameh
Youth performing parkour stunts at the eastern borders of Khan Younis. Due to the scarcity of playing areas and limited resources, they are forced to practice their sport in the empty areas near the borders. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Mohamad Dahman
Raees is a deaf boy who doesn’t stop smiling despite his disability. He plays with a wheel and a stick with his brother, in east of Jabalia, near the borders, where they reside in tents. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Ahmad Hijazi
A Palestinian girl plays with her doll during the power outage. Gaza suffers from power cuts reaching up to 20 hours a day. CC BY-NC-ND / ICR Ibrahim Nofal
A child from Deir Al-Balah refugee camp in Gaza. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Ayesh Haroun

More Photos

November 1, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

My Name is Rachel Corrie

23-year-old Rachel Corrie who was crushed to death by Israeli bulldozers in Gaza in 2003 [NawalAlhawsawi/Twitter]
By Nasim Ahmed | MEMO | October 26, 2017

Fourteen years have passed since 23-year-old Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by Israeli bulldozers in Gaza. The American activists, along with other members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), were taking part in nonviolent direct action to protect the home of a Palestinian family from demolition when the activist from Washington was killed.

Since her untimely death on the Rafah border crossing in 2003, Corrie’s free-spirited attitude to life has been the inspiration for international solidarity movements, non-violent resistance as well as plays and books celebrating her humanity and bravery.

My Name is Rachel Corrie, being showed at the Young Vic in London, is based on the emails and diary entries of the pro-Palestinian activist, which first premiered at London’s Royal Court in 2005. The play was originally put together by the late Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner, now the editor of the Guardian.

Unsurprisingly the plays reproduction has come under strong criticism from Pro-Israeli groups. Fury at the revival of the play has stirred all kinds of controversy such that supporters of Israel in the UK are piling pressure on the Young Vic for staging the play. The Vic’s artistic director David Lan, who is Jewish, felt compelled to come to the theatre’s defence saying: “Gaza is a wound to the planet from which so many people are suffering.”

Pro-Israeli organisations have even threatened to leverage the £1.7 million pubic grant given to the Young Vic to ensure that it takes a more “balanced” position when it comes to Israel. Lan however has insisted that artistic expressions are useful to promote dialogue saying: “We welcome and hope to encourage as wide a discussion of this terrible situation as possible and anything that keeps Gaza at the front of our consciousness is to be valued.”

Aside from the nuisance of having Pro-Israeli activists shoving propaganda leaflets smearing the memory of Corrie towards you at the entrance of the theatre, the hour and half long immersion into Corrie’s mind is a memorable experience.

The play brilliantly darts through the diaries of Corrie from her early teens through to the period of her untimely death. Directed by an award winning director, Josh Roche, and wonderfully performed by British actor Erin Doherty, viewers are exposed to a visceral representation of the brutality of Israeli occupation seen through the eyes of an activist searching for her place in life.

Doherty’s astonishingly skilful performance of Corrie brings to life defining moments in the campaigner’s personal journey as she grapples with her own sense of privilege in contrasted with the indignity and poverty she saw in Gaza. If nothing else, the play powerfully captures the inner tensions of Corrie who felt a deep sense of responsibility over her own country’s unquestioned support for Israel.

The play is emotionally rousing given the very nature of diary entries, which are intended by its author to be an honest representation of ones thoughts and feelings unpolluted by polemics. Corrie appeared deeply troubled by the constant dehumanisation of Muslims and Palestinians; her conversations with her father, which are including in the the play, shed light on America’s own troubling assumptions about the world in the post 9/11 world.

The added punch to the play and the performance of Doherty is made all the more incredible by the setting; a background made up from the barest material, empty colourless plywood panels on the floor and the wall. The centrepiece is a tall wooden stand that appears to stand as a representation of Israel’s Separation Wall. It required an exceptional actor playing an exceptional person to make the experience so emotionally jarring.

Rachel Corrie’s legacy will continue to inspire thousands in campaigns against political oppression and this play, like its predecessor, has certainly reached the level of being “the irrepressible political voice” of the young campaigner from Olympia.

October 26, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 3 Comments

The backdrop of Palestinian reconciliation

By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | October 13, 2017

With a deal for political reconciliation having been reached by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, attention should shift to the humanitarian impact of Mahmoud Abbas’s collective punishment of the people in the Gaza Strip. The punitive measures, blatantly visible, were primarily an exercise in deprivation for political gain.

On Wednesday, Wafa and Alray reported that re-establishing adequate electricity supply to Gaza is dependent on whether “the Palestinian Government of National Consensus can assume its duties and responsibilities in the Strip.” The statement is open to several interpretations, the most dangerous for Palestinian civilians being additional delays beyond the signing of the reconciliation agreement.

According to the Palestinian Energy Authority’s acting director, Thafer Milhem, electricity was one of the issues discussed during the reconciliation talks in Cairo. While describing the process through which electricity supply for Gaza would be restored gradually, Milhem asserted that there is no timeframe for implementation, thus once again demanding that the civilians should remain as pawns in the political game designed by Abbas. It should be recalled that the precondition imposed upon Hamas by Abbas in return for lifting the collective punishment was the dissolution of the administrative committee of Gaza; this was duly done by the Islamic Resistance Movement.

However, the initial requirement turned out to be the first step in bringing about a situation whereby Hamas would agree to relinquish control of Gaza in the name of political unity. It remains to be seen how much this gesture, which entails a considerable measure of compromise, will reflect upon both Hamas and the civilian population of the enclave.

It could be argued that necessity, on several levels, constituted a form of political, social and ecoomic coercion. Gaza has navigated a fine line in attempting to retain the connection between the three sectors. Although different, each struggle reflected anti-colonial resistance. Necessity diluted this framework, and resistance was thwarted into survival, courtesy of collaborative efforts by Israel, the PA and the international community under various guises. For the people, it became a matter of successfully staying alive despite the harsh conditions.

Hamas, on the other hand, has fluctuated between resistance and diplomacy, the latter mired in a lack of clarity, particularly as the movement’s political statements appeared to be in conflict with its aims of liberation. This is not to say that the PA and Hamas have identical aims. However, it is the latter that has been required to compromise, despite the former’s irregular governance.

While the focus is now on the reconciliation agreement, there is a backdrop against which this is taking place; people who have suffered the humanitarian consequences of political contempt. For the PA to continue playing the bureaucratic game is unacceptable. By not providing a timeline for the resumption of adequate services with regard to electricity, or establishing access as a priority, Palestinians are once again expected to sacrifice health, education and life for a political gamble concocted by the PA. The least that could have been done was the immediate lifting of Abbas’s punitive measures, unless the plan is to expand authority in the name of reconciliation, with the aim of having better access to the exploitation of a precarious humanitarian situation.

October 13, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment