Round-up

Monday 21 June 2010

Ram Cohen, principal of the Aleph High School in Tel Aviv, was summoned to appear before the Knesset Education Committee and the Minister of Education, Mr. Gideon Saar, today, as Cohen explained in an article published in YNet, “following my unequivocal words to my students, condemning the 43 year-old occupation and rule over the life of the Palestinian people …

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Can Turkish involvement help Free Gaza – Freedom Flotilla challenge Israel's naval blockade of Gaza?

A “Freedom Flotilla” is planning to sail for Gaza by the end of the month.

It will be the ninth expedition to try to reach Gaza by sea. According to the Free Gaza movement, this time it will be bigger and better than ever.

This time, there will be Turkish involvement.

This raises the stakes.

The Free Gaza movement is calling it “the biggest internationally coordinated effort to directly challenge Israeli’s ongoing occupation, aggression, and violence against the Palestinian people”.

The organizers apparently believe that, even if they don’t succeed in reaching their destination in Gaza, the publicity value alone, highlighting the blockade of Gaza, sufficiently justifies this attempt.

The last attempt to reach Gaza by sea was in June 2009 — then, Free Gaza ships were intercepted by the Israeli Navy off Gaza, and forced to proceed to the southern Israeli port of Ashdod, where the cargo was impounded (some of it was later transferred by land to Israeli crossings and sent into Gaza). The activists aboard were jailed before deportation.

The Government of Bahrain, which does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel, sent a delegation to receive its arrested activists.

Now, a Turkish relief organization, IHH (Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief, or Insani Yardim Vakfi), is making major preparations to participate in the coming “Freedom Flotilla”. The aim is to reach Gaza’s fishermens’ wharf by late May.

According to the organizers’ plans, the Freedom Flotilla will include as many as 9 boats, including several cargo ships, and perhaps five passenger ships with up to 600 high-profile international personalities, activists, and journalists aboard.

Some of the ships will reportedly be flying the Turkish flag.

This means that any Israeli attack on those ships would be considered tantamount to an attack upon Turkey.

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Maher Hanoun in East Jerusalem: "We do not want any tent – we want our home"

In the early morning hours on Sunday, Israeli Border Police broke into the homes of the Hanoun and Ghawi families in Sheikh Jarrah, north of the Old City but still part of downtown East Jerusalem, and forcibly expelled at gunpoint three families from one building (only one of them was under court expulsion order) and four from another (there, only one was under court expulsion order).

Over 50 Palestinian refugees (from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war) immediately became homeless, with nowhere to go. No provisions were made to care for their household possessions or to shelter them by the Israeli authorities who have administered the area since their conquest in the June 1967 war, and who had ordered the expulsions to be carried out.

Sunday night, the Hanoun and Ghawi families were out on the streets. “The Red Cross came and offered us tents”, said Maher Hanoun, “But we do not want any tent. We do not want rations of rice and sugar. We want to return to our home”.

Just after the eviction operation, settlers moved in, protected by the Israeli Border Police.

Israeli settlers move into Hanoun home in Sheikh Jarrah - 2 August 2009

Continue reading Maher Hanoun in East Jerusalem: "We do not want any tent – we want our home"

HRW details White Phosphorus attacks by IDF on UNRWA compound and UNRWA school

The most striking detail about the IDF attack with white phosphorus on the main UNRWA compound in Gaza City — the day UNSG BAN Ki-Moon arrived in the region — was how long it lasted.

Some three hours.

During which time, UNRWA staff and officials were making frantic phone calls to various contacts in the IDF, who were unable to quickly bring the attack to a halt.

A former U.S. Army officer now working with UNRWA told the HRW researchers, as they recounted in their just-released report, “Rain of Fire”, on the Israeli use of white phosphorus during the December-January Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, that the IDF seemed “to be ‘walking’ the artillery fire across the area – firing shells along an arc at evenly spaced intervals”.
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