More than 100 Jewish studies scholars sign petition opposing Trump declaration

More than 100 Jewish studies scholars sign petition opposing Trump declaration
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More than 100 Jewish studies scholars have signed a petition condemning President Trump‘s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In a petition released Thursday — just days after Trump’s declaration — more than 110 signatories from universities and colleges around the country called on Trump to rescind the declaration.

“We write as Jewish Studies scholars to express our dismay at the Trump administration’s decision to reverse decades of bipartisan U.S. policy by declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel, and authorizing the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv,” the petition reads.

“A declaration from the United States government that appears to endorse sole Jewish proprietorship over Jerusalem adds insult to ongoing injury and is practically guaranteed to fan the flames of violence.”

The petition, which links to the Israeli human rights advocacy group  B’Tselem, accuses the Israeli government of perpetrating “systematic inequalities” against the Palestinian people.

“Palestinian residents of Jerusalem endure systematic inequalities, including an inequitable distribution of the city’s budget and municipal services, routine denial of building permits that are granted to Jewish residents, home demolitions, and legal confiscation of property for Jewish settlement,” the petition argues.

“In addition, Palestinians in the West Bank, unlike Jewish Israelis resident in that territory, require a special permit to visit Jerusalem’s holy sites,” it adds.

In an event at the White House on Wednesday, Trump said that declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s recognized capital was “the right thing to do.”

“This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It’s also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done,” Trump said.

Trump also announced a plan to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Avis to Jerusalem.

The decisions have sparked criticism from Arab and world leaders and violence in Gaza.

As secretary of state, Kerry blamed Israel for lack of peace with Palestine: reports

By Ray Downs  |  Nov. 8, 2017 at 11:13 PM

Tuesday, Israel’s Channel 10 aired recordings of Kerry blaming Israel for the lack of peace between it and Palestine. File Photo by Daniel Bockwoldt/EPA
Nov. 8 (UPI) — Israel’s Channel 10 published recordings Tuesday of former Secretary of State John Kerry blaming Israel for the lack of peace between it and Palestine.

The recordings are said to have been made during a conference in Dubai in 2016. Kerry is heard praising the Palestinian Authority for its commitment to nonviolence while the majority right-wing Israeli government refuses to engage in peace talks.

“This is overlooked by the general [Israeli] population because it is not a topic of discussion. Why? Because the majority of the cabinet currently in the current Israeli government has publicly declared they are not ever for a Palestinian state,” Kerry said, according to the Times of Israel.

Kerry also accused Israel of not allowing Palestinians to freely exercise their civil rights, which he said could backfire.

“If you see 40,000 kids marching up to the wall everyday with signs saying ‘give us our rights,’ I mean, I don’t think Palestine is going to be immune forever to the civil rights movements that have swept other nations in the world, and somehow, Israel is ignoring this today.” Kerry said, according to i24News.

He added: “If you don’t have leaders who don’t want to make peace, if the equation doesn’t change, I’ll be amazed if within the next 10 years if we don’t see some young [Palestinian] leader come along who says we have tried non-violence for the last 30 years and look, it hasn’t gotten us anything.”

In a response to Kerry’s remarks, the office for Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will continue its policy on Palestine, despite “those who tried to prod [Israel] to make dangerous concessions and failed.”

‘It’s an injustice’: Life after Israeli demolitions

Families of Palestinian attackers struggle to adapt after Israel razed their homes in a controversial, punitive policy.

A small portion of Umm Nidal’s home was left intact after the Israeli demolition [Jaclynn Ashly/Al Jazeera]

by: 

Ramallah, occupied West Bank – Hassan Ankush leaned on his cane as he limped through the charred rubble of the home he lived in for four decades in the village of Deir Abu Mashaal.

“Killing my son was not enough for the Israelis,” he told Al Jazeera. “They had to come and destroy my home, too.”

Like other Palestinian families whose relatives committed attacks or alleged attacks against Israelis, Ankush is not accused of any wrongdoing. He is among the latest victims of Israel’s widely condemned policy of punishing families of Palestinian assailants by demolishing their homes.

According to Israeli rights group B’Tselem, thousands of Palestinians have been displaced by home demolitions. The Israeli government claims the goal is deterrence, but B’Tselem spokesman Amit Gilutz describes it as a form of “collective punishment” and a blatant violation of international law.

‘Nothing else they can do to hurt us’

Ankush recalls the day he learned of his 18-year-old son’s death during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. “We were having iftar at a neighbour’s house when we heard the news that three Palestinians were killed after carrying out an attack in Jerusalem,” Ankush told Al Jazeera, his large, sad eyes wandering across the scattered remnants of his old home.

Ankush’s other son, Tareq, called him several minutes later, telling him that his brother, Adel, could be one those killed.

“I didn’t believe it,” Ankush said. “Adel is still just a kid. What could drive him to carry out an attack like that?”

But when Ankush arrived home that evening, the neighbourhood was gathered around his house. “May your son rest in peace,” his neighbours told him.

“My body became frozen,” Ankush said. “I didn’t think my son was capable of something like this.”

‘Killing my son was not enough for the Israelis. They had to come and destroy my home, too’ [Jaclynn Ashly/Al Jazeera]

On June 16, Adel, along with two other youths from Deir Abu Mashaal – Osama Atta, 19, and Baraa Atta, 18 – carried out an attack around the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem, fatally stabbing Hadas Malka, a 23-year-old Israeli police officer. All three were shot dead by Israeli forces at the scene.

Ankush learned all of this from the local news. The Israelis have not provided any information to him personally. “The only official information provided to me was Israeli forces raiding my home and handing me a notification declaring that my house would be demolished.”

While Muslims around the world celebrated the holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which follows Ramadan, the residents of Deir Abu Mashaal cancelled all festivities. Instead, they donned black T-shirts with images of Adel, Baraa and Osama and marched silently through the village.

Last month, Israeli forces raided Deir Abu Mashaal and razed all three families’ homes. Ankush’s house was blown up after Israeli forces placed explosives around the premises.

“Of course, we will feel a loss and face difficulties after our home was demolished,” Ankush said. “But they killed our son. There’s nothing they can do that will hurt us any more than that.”


INTERACTIVE: Broken Homes – A record year of Israeli demolitions


Ankush’s home housed six people, including Adel’s 11-year-old sister, Maisa. Even before the demolition, it was hard for the family to make ends meet. Now, they must rent a house in the village. Ankush is still recovering from a stroke that paralysed him four years ago, so it is up to his wife to support the family.

Maisa’s temperament has abruptly changed since Adel’s death and the home demolition. According to Ankush, she has become quick to anger and suffers from anxiety. Asked about Israel’s punitive home demolition policy, Maisa bluntly told Al Jazeera: “It’s an injustice.”

The home demolition is just one of a string of punishments meted out to the family in the wake of Adel’s death. One week after the attack, Ankush’s wife was detained for 15 days by Israeli authorities, and she now faces charges of alleged incitement following the attack. Ankush himself was detained and interrogated for four days, but no charges were brought.

Israel has also withheld the bodies of Adel, Osama and Baraa since the attack. Although a case to release their bodies, along with six others, was pending in Israel’s Supreme Court, Israeli authorities buried four of the bodies this month in the “cemetery of numbers” – graves in Israel marked only by numbers, where hundreds of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces are believed to be buried.

Ankush has no idea whether his son’s body will ever be returned, and he believes Israel’s policies are an attempt to “torture” Palestinian families. “My son committed a crime, and they killed him. They [Israelis] got their justice. Why do they still have to steal his body from us and destroy our home?”

‘They want to destroy his memory’

Baraa was the youngest of his siblings. Israeli authorities only once permitted him to visit Jerusalem, when he was eight, said his mother, Umm Nidal. The second time he visited Jerusalem, he entered without permission and died there.

Shortly before his death, Baraa had spent around four months in Israeli prison for working in Israel without proper documentation. He was detained alongside his older brother, Mohammad, and his brother-in-law, Munther. A week after he was released, he carried out the attack.

Israeli forces raided Umm Nidal’s house on a nightly basis following the attack. According to the family, at least 15 of Baraa’s friends in the village were detained by Israeli forces, three of whom remain in jail.

After Israeli prison authorities realised that Mohammad and Munther were related to Baraa, their status was updated to “security prisoners” and Munther was placed in solitary confinement, Tahani, Baraa’s sister and Munther’s wife, told Al Jazeera.

During the raids, Tahani said that soldiers tore down posters the family had pasted on the walls of the home, along with other images of Baraa, Adel and Osama posted around the village. At times, Israeli soldiers stabbed the images of the attackers’ eyes with a knife, Tahani said.

Baraa’s sister, Tahani, stands next to posters of the three slain Palestinians [Jaclynn Ashly/Al Jazeera]

When Israeli forces came to demolish the family’s home, there were only women and children inside.

“A soldier asked me to get the children out of the house. As I was trying to calm the children down, the soldier was screaming at me,” Umm Nidal said. “The soldier, standing right in front of me, shot me with a sound bomb in my hip.”

Dozens of Israeli soldiers then rushed the house, shooting tear gas at the family, she said, noting that even the children began choking from the gas. An Israeli bulldozer then uprooted their two-storey house.

“A house will never be as valuable to me as my son’s life,” Umm Nidal said, sitting in front of her other son’s house, where she now resides. Rows of posters displaying images of the three slain Palestinians have been plastered to the walls. “But each corner of that house reminded us of Baraa. Now, it’s all gone.”


READ MORE: Why does Israel keep the bodies of Palestinians?


During the demolition, Umm Nidal said she pleaded with the soldiers not to uproot the tiled floor of the courtyard, constructed by Baraa – but regardless, they partially destroyed it during the demolition process.

“I was devastated when the soldiers did this,” she said. “It was like they wanted to destroy any sign that Baraa had existed.”

In the days after the demolition, village residents got together and helped to reconstruct the tiles. Umm Nidal said that while the demolition has affected her family psychologically, the tight-knit community in Deir Abu Mashaal has been a comfort. “No one here will ever be sleeping on the streets,” she said.

For Tahani, the demolition of the family’s home has eroded her memories of Baraa. “Baraa was such a shy kid,” she said. “That house was filled with memories of him. Even the bathroom; that’s where Baraa would hide if my mom or I invited other women to the house while he was home … He would only come out once our guests were gone,” she added with a laugh.

The family described Baraa as a quiet, well-behaved young man, but despite this, they were not surprised he had carried out an attack.

“Israeli policies do nothing but build up hatred,” Umm Nidal said.

“Look at all these kids,” she added, gesturing to a group of children playing in the open area where their house once stood. “They are growing up seeing their friends and siblings detained and killed. Almost every night, they witness soldiers raid the village and break into people’s homes.

“Israel demolished their house right in front of them,” she continued. “These kids from a very young age realise what is going on around them. So why are Israelis surprised when they grow up to hate them?”

UN slams Israel for ‘de-development’ of Palestine

New report reviews effects of Israel’s 50-year occupation of the Palestinian territories and settlement growth.

by: 

Zena al-Tahhan is an online journalist and producer for Al Jazeera English.

A new UN report has strongly condemned Israel for the “de-development” and “deteriorating humanitarian conditions” of the Palestinian territories of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, brought about by Israel’s 50-year occupation.

The report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), published on Tuesday, said the performance of the Palestinian economy is “far below potential”, while unemployment has persisted at levels rarely seen worldwide since the Great Depression.

“2017 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; the longest occupation in recent history. For the Palestinian people, these were five decades of de-development, suppressed human potential and denial of the basic human right to development, with no end in sight,” the report states.

Key findings
  • Israeli settler population growth rate has surpassed the Palestinian population growth rate; current settler population stands between 600,000 and 750,000
  • 10 percent of the Palestinian labour force is employed in Israel and the settlements
  • Unemployment rates are 42 percent in Gaza and 18 percent in the West Bank
  • In 2016, imports from Israel into the occupied Palestinian territories exceeded exports to Israel by $2.6bn
  • Since 1995, GDP in Gaza has shrunk by 23 percent
  • Restrictions by Israel on importation of fertilisers adds $28.6m to agricultural production costs
  • Donor support to the Palestinian economy dropped by 38 percent between 2014 and 2016

“Instead of the hoped-for two-State solution envisaged by the United Nations and the international community, occupation is currently even more entrenched, while its complex socioeconomic toll has worsened over time.”

Among other issues, the report reviews the steady decline in gross domestic product (GDP) growth over the past two decades, the imposition of Palestinian economic dependence on Israel, the theft of Palestinian natural resources, and Gaza’s isolation. It reaffirms a previous finding that the Palestinian economy would be at least twice as large if the occupation were lifted.

The primary causes for the economic stagnation include “continuing loss of land and natural resources to settlements and the annexation of land in the West Bank”, along with market fragmentation and Israeli-imposed import restrictions, the report notes.


READ MORE: UN – Israeli occupation stunts Palestinian economy

Palestinians in the occupied territories have not had full control over their economy since 1967 when Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Although the Palestinian Authority (PA) was established in 1994 with the hope of creating an independent Palestinian state and economy, expansion of illegal Israeli settlements and the building of the separation wall have made this goal increasingly difficult to achieve.

Israel also has direct control over more than 60 percent of the West Bank, including most of its natural resources.

All of Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank, numbering around 125, are located in Area C, where at least 300,000 Palestinians live. Israel prohibits Palestinian construction and development in about 70 percent of this area.

“[T]he increasing belligerence of occupation presents a two-fold challenge, because it denies the Palestinian people access to their natural and economic resources and at the same time discourages donor support by minimizing development gains,” the UN report states.

Sami Abdel-Shafi, an independent economic consultant, cited a “massive depletion of the Palestinian human resource, simply because it is unable to practice what it does best”.

“You have hundreds of thousands of people who are unemployed and very few that are actually working,” Abdel-Shafi told Al Jazeera. “So whatever increase you have in the number of people who are working, this is not nearly enough to catch up with the demand that is generated by population growth and new graduates in the market.”

READ MORE: How settlement businesses sustain Israeli occupation


The economies of the occupied Palestinian territories are highly integrated with and dependent on Israel’s economy, as per the terms of the 1994 Paris Protocol signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

The agreement is among a number of factors that make it difficult for Palestinians to establish their own factories to compete with Israeli products. “Palestinian agricultural producers also face unequal competition with subsidized imports from Israel and settlements – in the range of $500 million per year – while producers in Israel operate under normal cost conditions and benefit from a range of supportive government policies,” the report notes.

With Israel’s restrictions on movement and access to goods in the occupied territories, economic growth in the private sector is highly limited. As Israel continues to build the separation wall and confiscate West Bank land to build illegal settlements, the area has morphed into enclaves surrounded by checkpoints, making it difficult to transport goods or raw materials.

The Palestinian economy has thus been transformed into a collection of small, local markets that cannot compete with Israeli monopolies on goods such as dairy. In other cases, Israel has been directly involved in the destruction of Palestinian manufacturing plants.

In Gaza, which has been under an Israeli siege for more than a decade, the situation is markedly worse. Israel directly controls what enters and exits the territory, and keeps the borders largely shut.

READ MORE: A guide to the Gaza Strip


“Before 2007, Gaza used to export internationally. We were a competitor in European markets for furniture and fresh produce, especially strawberries. I think that, compared with 2007, Gaza is only able to export some 15 to 20 percent of its products – and that’s during a good time,” Mohammed Abu Jayyab, the editor-in-chief of an economic newspaper in Gaza, told Al Jazeera.

But economic analysts have also laid the blame for the high cost of living on the governments of the Hamas movement in Gaza and the PA in the West Bank.

WATCH: ICRC president calls on Palestinian Authority to end Gaza sanctions

“It is expected of Israel, as an occupying country, to behave in this manner, but what is needed from the government in Gaza is to help ease the situation,” Abu Jayyab said, adding that Hamas uses excuses such as security, public education and health to impose high taxes.

The rift between the two main Palestinian political parties, Hamas and Fatah, has made the situation worse. Recently, the PA, led by the Fatah movement, requested that Israel reduce the electricity supply to Gaza in an attempt to pressure Hamas to forfeit control of the territory.

Abdel-Shafi maintained that the key to saving the Palestinian economy is to address this political issue.

“The PA needs to seek a political solution so that the Palestinian economy can develop. The division between the West Bank and Gaza is making it much easier for the Israeli government to separate us,” he said.

“So far, Palestinians are in sustenance mode. They are not developing as they should be. No solution will be sustainable unless the political issue is resolved; this goes for internal Palestinian disagreement and the conflict between Palestinians and Israel.”

Israel demolishes schools for Palestinians, citing lack of permits

 By Abeer Salman, CNN

Jub El-Thib (CNN)Jana Zawahra sits outside a large tent, sobbing to herself on the ground where her school once stood.

The brand-new building, paid for by the European Union, was constructed just three weeks ago. Now, little more than the concrete floor and an outhouse remain.
“It doesn’t look nice anymore, it’s ugly,” the eight-year-old says, devastated at the loss of her classroom at Jub El-Thib, east of Bethlehem.

Jana Zawahra (c) attends class in a tent after her school was demolished in Jub El-Thib.

She and her classmates — 64 children from the first to the fourth grade — had only been back in class for three days when Israeli forces arrived to demolish the school, which Israel says was built illegally.
Now they’ve been left with only a tent to shelter from the searing heat of the August sun — and no tables to sit and study at.
“Just when they were due to return to the classroom, Palestinian children are discovering that their schools are being destroyed,” said Hanibal Abiy Worku, a director of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
“What threat do these schools pose to the Israeli authorities? What are they planning to achieve by denying thousands of children their fundamental right to education?”

The makeshift tent-school in Jub-El-Thib has chairs but no tables.

According to the NRC, three educational facilities for Palestinian children in the West Bank have been demolished or damaged by Israeli authorities in the past two weeks.
A kindergarten for the Bedouin community of Jabal Al Baba was torn down, and a primary school in Abu Nuwar had its solar panels — the only source of power at the school — dismantled and taken away, the NRC says.
The body that looks after civil administration in those parts of the West Bank still totally controlled by Israel — designated as Area C — is known here by its acronym, COGAT; it stands for Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

Children in their school uniforms run towards school.

 Children in their school uniforms run towards school.
COGAT says all the demolished structures were illegal and that the demolitions were carried out lawfully.
In a statement to CNN, COGAT said: “The building in Jub El-Thib was built illegally last weekend, a blatant violation of ‘stop work’ orders, and without receiving the required permits. Therefore, the confiscation was carried out in accordance with the Civil Administration authorities.”
The European Union says about 100 structures — homes, shelters, water networks, as well as schools — in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, for which the EU or EU member states have provided funding, have been demolished or seized over the past year.

Mothers and teachers sit outside the tent in Jub El-Thib.

 Mothers and teachers sit outside the tent in Jub El-Thib.
New building projects in the West Bank’s Area C require a permit from Israeli authorities.
But the NRC says the majority of planning requests are denied; the NRC says that leaves international donors and Palestinians alike with no choice but to build anyway.

Second graders take part in a balloon activity outside the makeshift classroom.

In Jub El-Thib, the atmosphere outside the tent-school was one of tension and growing desperation.
A group of mothers discussed what to do with their children; should they keep them at the school so they could keep learning, or take them home to protect them from the heat?
Sami Mruwwah, the Palestinian director of education, had other ideas: “We will stay here and resist against the occupation,” he said.
“We will rebuild the school soon, what happened against the school and its students violates human rights and childhood in particular,” he added. “It is inconceivable for this world to remain silent in the face of the crimes of occupiers against education in Palestine.”

Teachers instruct children to stand in line before class begins.

 Teachers instruct children to stand in line before class begins.
As the political arguments continued, the children appeared oblivious to the tension surrounding them, playing with balloons, and drawing on large sheets of paper laid out on the concrete foundations of the demolished school.
Jana remained upset, but most of her school friends seemed playful and happy.
“I love school and playing with friends and painting; and the teachers are so nice,” said six-year old Ibtisam Sami.

Ibtisam, a 6-year-old student, said she was excited to get her books for the new school year.

Ibtisam, a 6-year-old student, said she was excited to get her books for the new school year.
Eventually, their mothers decided to take the children home.
“It is so sad that in 2017 we still have to fight to get our children educated,” said mother-of-four Intisar Al Wahsh. “But we cannot keep them out in this heat, and we are also anxious about settlers coming.”
“Most important of all, it’s not the children’s job to resist against the occupation.”
Just imagine the outrage by Israel and the United States had these been Israeli children. Everyone in the world would feel sorry for these children if they were of any other nationality beside Palestinian. We, in the US, support the Israeli monsters and turn a blind eye to everything they do including the inhumane and disgusting actions they do in the West Bank against the Palestinians. The Israelis did not demolish those schools because they were illegally build but because they want the land they were built on. That’s why they deny permits in the first place. Are you happy Mr. Trump??

Protesters Take On Settlements In ‘Biggest Ever Jewish-Led Protest’ Of AIPAC

Some organizers are using the hashtag #JewishResistance.

“We’re protesting [AIPAC] en masse as Jews to say that to be Jewish in America at this moment doesn’t mean to support Israel unconditionally,” said 25-year-old Yonah Lieberman, one of the co-founders of the anti-settlement group IfNotNow, which spearheaded the protest in Washington D.C.

Lieberman described Sunday’s march as “the biggest ever Jewish-led protest of AIPAC.”

“Palestine, my friend, you do not walk alone, we will walk with you.” AIPAC is not our establishment.

 Non-Jewish leaders like academic and activist Cornel West joined in Sunday’s protest, which saw participants briefly blocking the doors of the conference.

“A precious Jewish child in Tel Aviv has the same value as a precious Palestinian child in Gaza.” – Dr. Cornel West at

The annual conference of the powerful pro-Israel lobby draws heavyweights from both ends of the political spectrum: This year’s speakers include House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi  (D-Calif.). Though the group describes itself as bipartisan, it’s commonly viewed as a right-leaning organization ? or at least one that is unfriendly to criticism of the Israeli government’s right-wing policies.

AIPAC has historically avoided taking a firm stance on settlements, but has had a hand in influencing policy that tilts in their favor. Critics, like Lieberman, are more blunt in their assessment:

“AIPAC is the largest institution that supports Israeli settlements,” he said Sunday. “They’ve done more in the past 50 years to support occupation than anyone else in the Jewish community.”

Over 1000 protesters streaming out of changing “If not now, when,” through the Red Sea to our freedom.

Sunday’s protests are symbolic stands against not only Israel’s half century-long settlement stance, but policies of President Donald Trump’s nascent administration.

Earlier this year when the Israeli government approved the construction of thousands of new settlement homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, despite Palestinian opposition and widespread international condemnation, Trump’s administration took a more amiable stance on the development than those of previous administrations ? which flatly opposed any construction of settler homes.

The Trump administration’s closer alignment to the Israeli government was confirmed at AIPAC by Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., during Sunday’s conference.

“For the first time in many years, perhaps even many decades, there is no daylight between our two governments,” Dermer said.

AIPAC will be pro-Israel at any cost, prioritizing the occupation over the safety of the Jewish community and other marginalized people in America.Sara Sandmel, an IfNotNow member

 AIPAC was also criticized for what protesters said was a weak stance against a growing wave of anti-Semitism in the U.S.

“I’ve never seen the sort of antisemitism we’re seeing today, but despite bomb threats and desecrated cemeteries, AIPAC has chosen to remain silent,” Sara Sandmel, an IfNotNow member from Boston, said in a statement Sunday.

“This proves without a doubt that AIPAC will be pro-Israel at any cost, prioritizing the occupation over the safety of the Jewish community and other marginalized people in America.”

Lieberman said the new dynamic creates a “unique moral moment for the Jewish-American community.”

“Now, we have a unique role to play to ensure the occupation comes to an end,” he said. “We have a responsibility to resist it.”

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What Exactly Is The Blockade Of GAZA??

BY: YOUSEF MUNAYYER

What exactly is the blockade of Gaza?

In January of 2006, former president Jimmy Carter went to Gaza to oversee the election and make sure that everything was fair and honest. Hamas won and the PLO were driven out of Gaza. Israel was outraged and decided to impose a blockade on the entire strip of Gaza, disallowing food, medicine and other life necessities to enter the area. The Israelis said that they are going to put the Palestinians on a diet but not kill them, Well they did both. The people in Gaza are starving and thousands of them were killed during the massacres that Israel inflicted in 2006, 2008, & 2014.

In recent days, coverage of the attack on the aid flotilla headed to the Gaza Strip has focused on the lack of availability of certain humanitarian goods. This fact sheet is a reference tool based on data collected by international aid agencies and human rights groups on the impact of the siege on the population of Gaza.

Electricity: The siege has led to a significant lack of power in the Gaza Strip. In 2006, Israel carried out an attack on Gaza’s only power plant and never permitted the rebuilding to its pre-attack capacity (down to producing 80 megawatts maximum from 140 megawatts). According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), the daily electricity deficit has increased since January of 2010 with the plant only able to operate one turbine producing only 30 megawatts compared to its previous average of 60-65 megawatts in 2009. The majority of houses have power cuts at least eight hours per day. Some have no electricity for long as 12 hours a day. The lack of electricity has led to reliance on generators, many of which have exploded from overwork, killing and maiming civilians. Oxfam reported that“[in 2009], a total of 75 Palestinians died from carbon monoxide gas poisoning or fires from generators, and 15 died and 27 people were injured in the first two months of this year.”

Water: Israel has not permitted supplies into the Gaza Strip to rebuild the sewage system. Amnesty International reports that 90-95 percent of the drinking water in Gaza is contaminated and unfit for consumption. The United Nations even found that bottled water in Gaza contained contaminants, likely due to the plastic bottles recycled in dysfunctional factories. The lack of sufficient power for desalination and sewage facilities results in significant amounts of sewage seeping into Gaza’s costal aquifer–the main source of water for the people of Gaza.

Industry: Prior to the siege, the industrial sector employed 20 percent of Gaza’s labor force. One year after the siege began, the Palestinian Federation of Industries reported that “61% of the factories have completely closed down. 1% was forced to change their scope of work in order to meet their living expenses, 38% were partially closed (sometimes means they operate with less than 15% capacity)”. A World Health Organization report from this year states: “In the Gaza Strip, private enterprise is practically at a standstill as a consequence of the blockade. Almost all (98%) industrial operations have been shut down. The construction sector, which before September 2000 provided 15% of all jobs, has effectively halted. Only 258 industrial establishments in Gaza were operational in 2009 compared with over 2400 in 2006. As a result, unemployment rates have soared to 42% (up from 32% before the blockade).”

Health: Gaza’s health sector, dramatically overworked, was also significantly damaged by Operation Cast Lead. According to UN OCHA, infrastructure for 15 of 27 of Gaza’s hospitals, 43 of 110 of its primary care facilities, and 29 of its 148 ambulances were damaged or destroyed during the war. Without rebuilding materials like cement and glass due to Israeli restrictions, the vast majority of the destroyed health infrastructure has not been rebuilt. Many medical procedures for advanced illnesses are not available in Gaza. 1103 individuals applied for permits to exit the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing for medical treatment in 2009. 21 percent of these permits were denied or delayed resulting in missed hospital appointments, and several have died waiting to leave Gaza for treatment.

Food: A 2010 World Health Organization report stated that “chronic malnutrition in the Gaza Strip has risen over the past few years and has now reached 10.2%. Micronutrient deficiencies among children and women have reached levels that are of concern.” According to UN OCHA: “Over 60 percent of households are now food insecure, threatening the health and wellbeing of children, women and men. In this context, agriculture offers some practical solutions to a humanitarian problem. However, Israel’s import and access restrictions continue to suffocate the agriculture sector and directly contribute to rising food insecurity. Of particular concern, farmers and fishers’ lives are regularly put at risk, due to Israel’s enforcement of its access restrictions. The fact that this coastal population now imports fish from Israel and through tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border speaks to the absurdity of the situation.” 72 percent of Gaza’s fish profit comes from beyond the three nautical mile mark, but further restrictions by Israel’s naval blockade prevents Gazans from fishing beyond that mark. Between 2008 and 2009 the fishing catch was down 47 percent.

Israeli rights group urges UN to end Palestinian occupation

By: EDITH M. LEDERER
 UNITED NATIONS (AP) — An Israeli human rights group urged the U.N. Security Council to take decisive action now to end the country’s occupation of Palestinian territory.

Hagai El-Ad, executive director of B’Tselem, told an informal council meeting Friday on “Illegal Israeli Settlements: Obstacles to Peace and the Two-State Solution” that Israel has controlled Palestinian lives in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem for the past 49 years “and counting.”

“Israel will not cease being an oppressor simply by waking up one day and realizing the brutality of its policies,” he said.

With the 50th anniversary approaching next year, El-Ad said “the rights of Palestinians must be realized, the occupation must end, the U.N. Security Council must act, and the time is now.”

El-Ad stressed that the council “has more than just power: you have a moral responsibility and a real opportunity to act with a sense of urgency before we reach the symbolic date of June 2017 and the second half of that first century begins.”

Another Israeli rights group, Peace Now, was invited to speak but it was represented by its sister organization, Americans for Peace Now, which has also campaigned for an end to Israeli occupation.

“The occupation is a threat to Israel’s security and to Israel’s very existence,” said Lara Friedman, the group’s director of policy and government relations.

When Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed the Oslo peace accords 23 years ago, the settler population in the West Bank was 116,000, she said. At the end of 2015, it was almost 390,000.

“I urge you here today to finally take action in the Security Council to send a clear message to Israel that the international community stands by the two-state solution and unambiguously rejects policies that undermine it — including Israeli settlement policies,” Friedman said.

Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon accused B’Tselem of joining “Palestinian attempts to wage diplomatic terror against Israel at the U.N.”

He also accused the group of choosing “to slander and besmirch Israel’s good name” and vowed that “we will continue to fight and tell the truth about Israel despite the attempts to spread lies about us.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. Ambassador, called the informal meeting “a very positive exercise” that builds on his discussions about a new U.N. resolution that would demand an end to Israeli settlement building.

The Palestinians pushed for the Security Council to adopt a resolution against settlements in February 2011 but it was vetoed by the United States. The 14 other Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution, reflecting the wide support for the draft which had over 100 co-sponsors.

What the United States might do about a new settlements resolution remains to be seen.

U.S. deputy ambassador David Pressman told the meeting that “the United States remains firmly committed to advancing a two-state solution … (and) we are deeply concerned about continued settlement activity.”

He recalled that last week the United States condemned new Israeli settlements and said that since July 1 over 2,400 settlement units have been advanced in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This makes “a viable Palestinian state more remote,” he said.

“In short, we need to start implementing the two-state solution on the ground right now,” Pressman said.

While a peace deal can only be achieved through Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, he said, “significant progress towards creating a two-state reality can be made now that will help restore hope and lay the groundwork for successful negotiations.”

“We continue to stress the urgency and importance of taking these steps now and refraining from actions that corrode the prospects for two states,” Pressman said.

Mansour called Pressman’s use of the word “now” twice very interesting, saying his comments are in line with strong messages from Washington expressing “outrage against the intensification of settlement activities.”

He said it’s too early to say whether this will translate into U.S. support for a new settlements resolution.

Jerusalem Holy Site Muslim, Not Jewish: United Nations Resolution On Temple Mount Angers Israel

BY  @SHAOLINTOM ON 

“The heritage of Jerusalem is indivisible,” Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, said. “And each of its communities has a right to the explicit recognition of their history and relationship with the city.”

Israel suspended cooperation with the U.N. cultural organization Friday in reaction to the vote on Judaism’s holiest site. The text refers to the Muslim site Al-Buraq Plaza, but places the Jewish name, The Western Wall, in quotations. The wall a remnant of the first biblical temple, is the holiest site where Jews can pray, while for Muslims, the temple marks the place where the prophet Mohammed ascended up to heaven. The site is officially under Muslim administration and under Israeli law, Jews are not allowed to pray there to avoid potential violence. But activists have increasingly pushed for the right to go inside the temple in recent months, prompting Palestinians and Muslim-majority nations such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia to complain that Israel is trying to take back the site.

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An aerial view shows the Dome of the Rock (R) on the compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, and the Western Wall (L) in Jerusalem’s Old City Oct. 10, 2006. Photo: Reuters

Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules the Gaza Strip and is pledged to Israel’s destruction, called the resolution a “step in the right direction.” Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennet called the decision “shameful,” while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the vote as “the theater of the absurd.”

“What’s next? A UNESCO decision denying the connection between peanut butter and jelly? Batman and Robin? Rock and roll?” Netanyahu tweeted after the decision.

Out of the 57 nations present for Thursday’s vote, only six voted against the resolution. Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, the United Kingdom and the United States took issue with the draft, while a number of Arab and Muslim-majority countries joined Brazil, China and Russia to secure 24 votes in favor. Other member states, such as India, Italy and Spain, abstained. Serbia and Turkmenistan were absent.

The votes by Arab world countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan, which sponsored the bill, are not surprising. Only Egypt and Jordan have established diplomatic relations with Israel. Jordan has custodian rights over the site after Israel seized East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East War.

A number of other nations have been critical of Israel in recent years, voicing support for Palestinian statehood. Roughly 130 countries recognize Palestine. In 2011, Iceland became the first Western European country to recognize Palestine, followed by Sweden in 2012. That same year, a number of European nations, including France, Italy, and Switzerland, joined the successful vote to include Palestine as non-member observer state at the U.N. In 2014, the parliament of the European Union voted to recognize Palestinian statehood. This growing list of supporters has angered Netanyahu, who routinely criticizes nations that pursue Palestinian recognition.

While no European country voted for Thursday’s draft resolution, there was a noticeable lack of enthusiasm to block it as well. On the abstaining list, countries such as Italy, Greece and Spain have symbolically recognized Palestine in their respective legislating bodies.

Israel can claim a few diplomatic victories, however. A draft resolution similar to Friday’s was previously voted on in April, with the same text that Israel finds problematic. That vote saw 33 members including France voting in favor, after which Netanyahu personally wrote to French Prime Minister Francois Hollande, saying he was “honestly astounded to see our French friends raise their hands in favor of this shameful resolution.” France abstained Thursday.

It is typical of Israel to not only objects but gets angry when someone criticizes their policy, their mass killing of Palestinians or anything else about them. Forget about what’s right or what’s ethical. Israel wants everything to be in its favor. It’s acting like a spoiled child who wants everything his way and throws a fit if it doesn’t.