Um Kamel stays steadfast in her East Jerusalem tent – Code Pink women try to enter Gaza

UPDATE: THE CODE PINK WOMEN’S DELEGATION ARE NOW IN GAZA CITY.  They — and their donations — were allowed to pass from Egypt’s Sinai through the Rafah crossing into Gaza today.  Apparently, this was accomplished with the intervention and support of Egypt’s First Lady, Suzanne Mubarak.

After all … Today, 8 March, is International Women’s Day.

So, it’s a good occasion to remember Um Kamel, who has been living in a tent — all winter — down the hill from her former home in East Jerusalem, perhaps a kilometer north of the Old City, from which she and her husband were evicted at dawn one day in mid-November, when he was on his death-bed.

He died, in the nearby St. Joseph’s hospital, just a week-and-a-half later.

A separate mourning tent was erected next to the tent where Um Kamel has been residing.

Um Kamel in her tent below the home from which she was evicted in East Jerusalem

In the photo above, Um Kamel’s house is the low stone structure seen at the far right of the picture, just above the white plastic extension of the tent.

She stayed in the tent, on land owned by another East Jerusalem Palestinian, and remained there, despite the agony of her husband’s final days, despite the fact that the tent was literally bulldozed (it was just a tent! ) on several occasions by the Israeli Border Police (even a tent, on private land with the permission of the owner, needs a permit! ), despite the fact that there was no toilet, no shower, no kitchen, and all kinds of small animals and insects were running around, and that it was winter, and rainy and windy and cold. With a gentle manner, but evident determination, Um Kamel has received visitors — dominated by the Islamic movement, with a few Jerusalem-based Palestinian Authority figures, and the steady accompaniment of a few international solidarity activists — explaining her situation and her feelings.
Continue reading Um Kamel stays steadfast in her East Jerusalem tent – Code Pink women try to enter Gaza

Jerusalem – "illegal annexation being pursued by practical means"

Israel is moving with great speed on all fronts to change the situation on the ground in its favor. But the situation for Palestinians is increasingly untenable, and the pressure building up is intense.

A report on “Jerusalem and the Middle East Peace Process, prepared by European Union Heads of Missions [apparently in Jerusalem], and dated December 2008, was leaked/released today by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICHAD), and it is damning: “Long-standing Israeli plans for Jerusalem, now being implemented at an accelerated rate, are undermining prospects for a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem and a sustainable two-state solutionIsrael is, by practical means, actively pursuing the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem“, the report states.

And, it charges that “Israel’s actions in and around Jerusalem constitute one of the most acute challenges to Israeli-Palestinian peace making … Settlement building in and around East Jerusalem continues at a rapid pace, contrary to Israel’s obligations under international law and the Roadmap, which were reaffirmed at Annapolis…
Continue reading Jerusalem – "illegal annexation being pursued by practical means"

Israel's occupation – language issues

What is Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank really like?

It’s not as if there has been no reporting, no descriptions, no blog posts.

But, it still does not seem to be fully, um, well, grasped. Because, if it were, surely there would be
much stronger stands taken against it, and calling for its end.

Maybe taking it in small doses will make it more, um, well, accessible.
Continue reading Israel's occupation – language issues

The logic of the Olso Accords still continues

During the first Palestinian Intifada, a spontaneous uprising in the West Bank and Gaza that started at the end of 1987 and caught the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leadership in exile by surprise, any display of the Palestinian flag — or even just showing its colors (green-red-white-black) — was severely repressed by Israeli troops. It was a shooting offense.

At peace talks launched at an international conference in Madrid in 1991 after the Cold War ended — and just a few months after the U.S.-led Desert Storm coalition forced Saddam Hussein’s troops out of Kuwait, amid much Arab commentary about U.S. double standards in the Middle East — the Palestinian delegation had to participate as members of the Jordanian delegation. The Palestinian participants were supposed to be “independent” and not members of the PLO — though the delegation members made it clear during the talks that they deferred to the PLO leader Yasser Arafat, who was in based Tunis at the time.
Continue reading The logic of the Olso Accords still continues

The Lancet discusses Palestinian health situation

Despite controversy over some errors of fact in a blog posting on The Lancet, a special report came out as anticipated today, and can be found through various links on this page here, where it will only be necessary to register in order to read the full articles.

Meanwhile, this is what it looks like to try to come out of Gaza via Erez crossing, as a sick child is being brought to the imposing Israeli terminal en route to medical treatment somewhere outside of Gaza. The whole time, soldiers with guns are watching every step … Let’s hope that at least the mother will be able to accompany the child — there have been times when Gazan children have had to go through all this entails, alone …

Palestinian child being brought to Erez crossing en route to medical treatment

The main articles are part of a special Series published by The Lancet called “Health Status and Health Services in the occupied Palestinian territory”, by Rita Giacaman of Bir Zeit University, Rana Khatib, Luay Shabaneh, et al. The lead article says that “… as the opening article in our Series on health in the occupied Palestinian territory shows, dimensions of suffering, especially at the community level, are measurable and often severe” Continue reading The Lancet discusses Palestinian health situation

Sudan's President indicted – UN in panic about 25,000 staff on ground – interesting blog report from UN about triumphalist press conferences

The President of Sudan has been indicted by the International Criminal Court in the Hague on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity — but not on charges of genocide.

The Arab League will meet at ministerial level to discuss the implications etc.

The UN is in a panic, worried about its 25,000 staff on the ground that it may have to evacuate.

Medecins Sans Frontiers announced on Wednesday that it was pulling its staff out. Later, the Sudanese government gave orders to a number of other human rights and humanitarian aid organizations to leave immediately.
Continue reading Sudan's President indicted – UN in panic about 25,000 staff on ground – interesting blog report from UN about triumphalist press conferences

Abbas receives Clinton in Ramallah

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas received visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Ramallah today.

There were more press traveling with Clinton than had been with Rice, at least as 2008 wore on. There were more international press today, too, at the Muqata’a Palestinian Presidential Headquarters.
Continue reading Abbas receives Clinton in Ramallah

And in Dahiet al-Bariid …

More to follow from my own reporting on the closure of the checkpoint …

Meanwhile, here is what the United Nations OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) has reported: “Closure of Dahiyat Al Bareed checkpoint – On 19 February, the Israeli military dismantled Ar Ram checkpoint in northern Jerusalem after the checkpoint became redundent following the closure of the gate in the barrier between Dahiat al Bareed and Ar Ram on 16 February. While the removal of the checkpoint and the related checkpoint infrastructure will now allow free movement on road 1 between downtown Jerusalem and Qalandiya checkpoint, the closure has greatly increased the volume of traffic moving north through Qalandiya checkpoint. Ar Ram Checkpoint permitted access into Jerusalem only for residents of the immediate area around the checkpoint, but did not control north-bound (direction of Ar Ram) traffic from Jerusalem. All vehicles travelling to Ar Ram are now forced to travel through Qalandiya checkpoint. Delays of half an hour or longer are now regularly reported for travel north through Qalandiya checkpoint.” The full document is posted on the web here.