The isolation + demonization of Gaza

Here are some young men surfing — in Gaza.

The photo is the 9th in a photo album on daily life in Gaza published by The Guardian newspaper here

From Guardian GazaLive blogging + tweeting on life in Gaza - photo by Rex Features

And here is another photo, the 15th and last,  in the same Guardian photo album:
From the Guardian -  man in cart drawn by donkey on Gaza's beachfront - photo by Rex Features

The Guardian writes in what newspapers used to call a “special package” but which is here called a “live blog” on a day in the life of Gaza that there are 1.7 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip — slightly higher than other estimates [some of which have showed a decrease in the population from the previous 1.5 million round figure to 1.4 million].

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Sari Bashi [Gisha] on Israeli military use of secret evidence

About ten days ago, Sari Bashi [Executive Director of the Israeli human rights organization GISHA, which was founded to advocate for Palestinian freedom of movement. wrote [in Hebrew] about one application of the Israeli military’s use of secret evidence against Palestinian detainees.

Bashi wrote that: “In the six years in which Gisha has been providing legal assistance to Palestinians, the High Court justices have yet to deliver a decision that goes against classified material presented by the Internal Security Agency (Shin Bet)“.

She added that “Experience shows that information about security risks can be based on [1] statements made by collaborators trying to please their handlers, and [2] people can be accused as security risks based on non-violent political activism, [3] a refusal to serve as a collaborator for the ISA [Israeli Security Agency], [4] a relative’s actions against the State of Israel, and [5] even because of the mere fact that a relative was injured or killed by the military, rendering the entire family suspect of wanting to seek revenge. And yes, it’s safe to assume that [6] in some cases the classified material does contain concrete evidence of violent actions.“.

One case taken on by GISHA illustrates how this secret evidence is used: a Palestinian man was arrested in 2010, but then, on the basis of secret evidence, was taken out of prison and sent by the military to Gaza — expelled, exiled, deported — an action that was upheld by the Israeli Supreme Court on the basis of secret evidence:

    You can’t sell Bakr Haffi’s case to the mainstream media, and you can’t win it in the Israeli High Court of Justice. The 38-year-old Palestinian man, a bee keeper by trade, has not seen his wife and two daughters for two years. It all began when he was arrested in his home in Tulkarem in the northern West Bank on suspicion of being a Hamas activist. After a month of interrogation that yielded no results, a military judge ordered his release. But instead of releasing him back to his home and family in Tulkarem, the military removed him to the Gaza Strip, which is listed as his place of residence in the Israeli-administered Palestinian population registry. Israel refuses to recognize relocation from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank, even for people like Bakr, who moved to the West Bank back in 1999 and established a family there”.

So, it appears — and, can it be so? — that although an Israeli military judge in an Israeli military court in the West Bank ordered this man’s release, other military officers ordered the man to be taken to Gaza. In the current circumstances, this is a one-way ticket, with no possibility of return to the West Bank [although, under all the important agreements of the Oslo process, signed by Israel and the P.L.O. in the mid-1990s. the West Bank and Gaza were specifically said to constitute a single political unit … What happened to change that? Ariel Sharon’s unilateral “disengagement” which removed 8,000 Israeli settlers, and the military + security forces protecting them, from Gaza in September 2005…]

What is not entirely clear is whether the military judge knew what was about to happen, or maybe even ordered Bakr’s removal to Gaza as part of his ruling to release him from detention? Or, did another branch of the military take it upon itself to, in effect, make its own ruling on Bakr’s fate, regardless of what the military judge decided.

Continue reading Sari Bashi [Gisha] on Israeli military use of secret evidence

Israel will not loosen naval blockade of Gaza

As we reported earlier, Israel will maintain its naval blockade of the Gaza Strip even as it accedes to international demands to ease the military-administered sanctions it imposes on the coastal territory.

Israel’s security cabinet met on Sunday, as did the full cabinet. A decision was taken to allow into Gaza (via land crossings only) all materials which are not weapons or “materials used to make weapons” (this could be a very broad list, including sugar).

But boats will not be allowed to travel directly to Gaza.

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UNRWA official dines with IDF's Amos Gilad while blockaded Gazans get … whatever Gilad allows: "Let them eat cake!"

A brilliant and sensational article in Thursday’s Haaretz reveals all — from the Israeli side, at least — about how the Israeli blockade against Gaza operates, and although there is still a lot more to be revealed. The title of the article is: The Gaza Bonanza.


This Haaretz article, co-bylined by Yotam Feldman and Uri Blau, is not perfect, but we are all after all only human, and each of us does what he/she can. It was published on Thursday, and can be read in full here.

This article has appeared just now, as part of the media build-up to the second anniversary of the Hamas rout of Fatah security forces in Gaza in June 2007 — a “military coup”, fumed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), before making his own political coup by dismissing the “National Unity Government” that had been installed just a couple of months earlier, after Saudi intervention to mediate between the Palestinian “factions” in Mecca.

This “military coup” changed everything — and it is still playing out. Among other things, it made it possible for Israel and the Quartet and the major international donor community to divide the Palestinians into the “Good Guys” in Ramallah, against whom all sanctions were suddenly removed and with whom everybody began to do big business, and the “Bad Guys” in Gaza, where Hamas retained some kind of control. Then, the screws were turned, and Israeli sanctions that had been in place against Gaza before were gradually intensified — to the point that Gazans literally survive because of smuggling.

[And, by the way, it is interesting to note that Hamas argued that they carried out their “military coup” in effect as a measure of self-defense. They believed they were preventing an equally if not more bloody attack on them by the Fatah Preventive Security Forces. This view is not so far-fetched — it was sustained by an important article (The Gaza Bombshell, by David Rose) published here in April 2008 issue of the American magazine Vanity Fair, which we have previously written about here and elsewhere.]

“It is obvious that two years into the blockade, the restrictions on civilian goods entering Gaza are only hurting 1.5 million civilians, but providing no solution to regional problems”, the Executive Director of the Israeli human rights organization GISHA, Sari Bashi, commented in a phone interview on Friday. “Almost nothing is allowed into Gaza … and there is no security rationale for that … This is not serving Israel’s security interests. Two years since the closure, none of the declared security or political goals have been achieved”.

Continue reading UNRWA official dines with IDF's Amos Gilad while blockaded Gazans get … whatever Gilad allows: "Let them eat cake!"

High UN Offical calls on Israel to open Gaza borders – Israeli human rights group says Israel is deliberately obstructing repairs to Gaza's electricity

Here are two more items — actually, three — which deserve attention and reflection:

I. More excerpts from a Statement to the United Nations Security Council in New York by John Holmes, UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, 27 January 2009:
“There are important principles at stake here too, as the Security Council itself clearly recognized in Resolution 1860, which paid particular attention to the unimpeded provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance. Free and full access for goods and humanitarian staff is something we have battled long and hard for in other contexts, such as Darfur and Myanmar … Moreover, Israel has a particular responsibility as the occupying power in this context, because of its control of Gaza ’s borders, to respect the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law. It is therefore critical that new steps are taken immediately by the Israeli authorities to move quickly to the sustained re-opening of crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access. Many countries support this. The crossings need to be opened up not because Hamas want it or might benefit from it, but because the Gazans need it“…
Continue reading High UN Offical calls on Israel to open Gaza borders – Israeli human rights group says Israel is deliberately obstructing repairs to Gaza's electricity