Category: Occupied Palestine

Israeli bulldozers set to demolish Israeli Arab village to build Israeli Jewish town

Umm Al HiranEmboldened by the election of Donald Trump, the Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu was reported to be sending his army’s bulldozers in at dawn today (Tuesday) to demolish this peaceful Bedouin village in Israel.

The Israeli government has long been planning to demolish the village of Umm Al Hiran and evict its inhabitants in order to build a Jewish village with the same name – Hiran – on exactly the same location.

For the last two years Netanyahu has been delaying the demolition because of international protests at this extreme case of ethnic cleansing, but now with Trump elected, he gave the go-ahead for the village to be razed.

The 500 Arab residents of the village have lived in the village for nearly 60 years and were ordered to move there by the Israeli military commander of the Negev who gave them a lease to build a village, farm the land and graze their sheep.

The village leaders say there is no need to evict them as the Jewish settlers can move onto a site nextdoor. “We are not against them living here, but we want to stay here too and live together with them as neighbours,” says Atwa Abu Alkia’n.

They point out that there is plenty of space – 3¼ million acres – in the Negev and the settlers don’t need to move to the one small acre of land where they have been living since 1956.

The Israeli state has made it clear that the new village is for Jewish residents only and the Arabs must move out.

Free Marwan Barghouti: the New Mandela

Read our new Free Marwan Barghouthi pamphlet, calling for the release of the best known Palestinian political Free Marwan Barghouthi for web prisoner. 

The campaign was launched by the veteran South African ANC politician Ahmed Kathrada. Back in the 1960s Kathrada founded the first Free Marwan Barghouti pamphlet fp imagecampaign to Release Mandela and was then jailed himself and spent many years on Robben Island.  He returned to Mandela’s cell on Robben Island to launch the campaign to Free Marwan Barghouthi with Fadwa Barghouti, Marwan’s wife.

Momentum is now growing behind the campaign which is supported by all the Palestinian political parties and human rights organisations and by the overwhelming majority of Palestinians as well as a constellation of former prime ministers and Nobel prize winners.

To coincide with what should have seen the release of the fourth group of prisoners as part of the Kerry talks,  we are launching a new pamphlet calling for the release of Marwan Barghouthi as part of the peace process.

In brief the pamphlet says:

The death of Nelson Mandela reminds us that often the first step towards the resolution of a conflict is the release from prison of a national leader who has the authority to unite, to negotiate and to resolve.

Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Jomo Kenyatta are all examples of national leaders who were released by the British so that they could negotiate their countries’ independence.  The pattern was repeated in South Africa when Mandela went from a prison cell to the presidents’ palace in just four years.

It will be twelve years on April 15th since Israeli security agents, posing as ambulance workers, seized Barghouthi and took him to an Israeli prison. 

But even after 12 years in an Israeli jail Barghouthi remains one of Palestine’s most popular politicians – capable, according to the polls, of beating any other candidate for the presidency. Many believe he could come out of prison, stand for election, win the presidency, unite the Palestinian factions, negotiate a settlement, put it to his people, win their support and then preside over a process of “truth and reconciliation” in a newly-independent country.

Timeline of event

March 28: Publication of pamphlet entitled “Free Marwan Barghouthi” by Palestine Briefing.  Copies will be available at the meeting or from info@palestinebriefing.org

March 29: Israel due to release final group of pre-1992 Palestinian prisoners as part of agreement with US Secretary of State John Kerry

March 30: Palestinian Land Day

April 1: Ahmed Kathrada visiting the UK, supporting the Free Marwan Barghouti Campaign

April 8: Foreign & Commonwealth Office questions

April 15: 12th anniversary of Marwan Barghouthi’s imprisonment

April 29: Final day of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry

Read the Free Marwan Barghouthi pamphlet now

Why always Palestine? Myths and facts

“With so much else going on in the Middle East, why always Palestine?”

  • The government takes action against human rights abuses in other countries, but not in Israel.  That’s why we focus on it.
  • We go on about injustice in Palestine because injustice in Palestine goes on and indeed is getting worse.
  • Just because there are human rights abuses in other countries does not excuse or belittle human rights abuses in Israel
  • Israel claims to be a liberal democracy which makes its treatment of Palestinians all the more reprehensible
  • Palestine is the poison in the well of international relations. It creates a sense of injustice and double standards that infects the whole of the Middle East and the Muslim world.
  • Granting impunity to Israel undermines international law
  • Other countries have poverty but in Palestine is it created deliberately

Contact Details

This briefing has been produced by Martin Linton, Sally Fitzharris and Taris Ahmad. For further questions please contact:

Martin Linton, martin@martinlinton.org

Sally Fitzharris, sally@sallyfitzharris.co.uk

Taris Ahmad, international.law.taris@gmail.com

Further information

Map of West Bank settlement

http://www.ochaopt.org/fsonlinemaps.aspx

Trajectory of the Wall

http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_west_bank_barrier_route_update_july_2011.pdf

Wealth in Gaza – myths and facts

“How can you say they are poor. There’s a luxury shopping mall in Gaza.”

  • Because of the tunnels more goods are now available, but few can afford them.
  • 38% of Gazans are “poor”, 44% are “food insecure” and 80% depend on food aid[1]
  • Gazan poverty is be the world’s worst, but it is the only one created deliberately
  •  As a result of the blockade Gazans are 17% poorer than they were in 2005[2]
  • The only shopping mall sells goods that would be considered cheap in theUK

[2] UN OCHA see above

Background 

  • More than a third of Gazans (34%) and more than half of young Gazans are unemployed
  • Hundreds of factories stand idle because of the blockade, which has reduced exports to 3% of the pre-blockade levels.
  • 85% of Gaza’s fishing grounds and 35% of its agricultural land cannot be accessed because of restrictions imposed by the Israeli army and navy
  • 85% of Gazan schools are run on double shifts, one group of pupils in the morning and another in the afternoon
  • 90% of Gaza’s water is contaminated and 90 million litres of untreated sewage is dumped in the sea every day

We withdrew from Gaza but all we got were rockets”

  • Israel may have withdrawn its settlements and ground troops from Gaza in August 2005, but it kept control of land, sea and air borders and imposed tight restrictions on entry and exit, so Gaza is still occupied in international law.[1]
  • Israel also kept control of exports, imports and even humanitarian supplies of food and medicines, which are held far below pre-blockade level.
  •  Most rockets have been fired by small militant groups in retaliation for airstrikes and targeted assassinations and are not connected with the withdrawal.
  • Israeli settlements in Gaza were tiny – less than 2% of the total. The withdrawal of 7,826 settlers from Gaza in 2005 was immediately offset by moving 26,971 settlers into the West Bank in the same year, many transferring straight across from Gaza.[2]
  • We should condemn not only rocket attacks but also Israeli airstrikes, and not only the deaths of Israeli civilians but also the deaths of Palestinian civilians, which far outnumber them.
  • In 28 months between Israel’s withdrawal fromGaza (August 2005) and the Israeli assault onGaza (December 2008), 8 people were killed by rocket attacks in southern Israel but the number of Palestinians who died in Israeli attacks onGazawas 1,315.

Background

Collective punishment is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions. No person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed (Article 33 of the fourth Geneva Conventions IV (1949) and Article 75(2)(d) of the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions (1977).

‘The Palestine economy is booming’ – myths and facts

“What’s the problem?  The Palestinian economy is booming.”

  • Palestinian income per head fell by 34% between 2000 and 2008[1]
  • Palestinians are still poorer than they were in 1999[2]
  • The FCO says this is “largely a result of Israeli closure policies”[3]
  • Growth in last three years has been “heavily dependent on donor aid” [4]
  • Unemployment never fallen below 20%[5], poverty never below 25%[6]

[2] ILO see above

[3] PCBS see above

[4] FCO see above

[5] ILO see above

[6] CIA World Factbook/ Middle East/ West Bank updated on June 6, 2012 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/we.html

Background 

    •  Netanyahu boasted to the US Congress that the Palestinian economy is “booming”. Well, not thanks to him! It’s recovering from the impoverishment caused by the blockade in Gaza and by 540 Israeli roadblocks in the West Bank[1]. Palestinian GDP per head is still not back to 1999 levels.[2]
    • After falling by 34% between 2000 and 2008, the Palestinian GDP per head has grown for three years – in 2011 by 6.6%, but real wages still fell that year with 21% out of work and 25.6% officially poor. [3]
    • According to the FCO “the almost decade-long downturn has been largely a result of Israeli closure policies which have disrupted labour flows, manufacturing and trade”.[4] A slight easing of movement restrictions helped the economy grow in early 2011, but then it slowed down again. [5]
    • In any case economic growth in the West Bank “has been sustained by inflows of donor aid”, according to the CIA’s economic report.  “Israeli closure policies continue to disrupt labour and trade flows, industrial capacity and basic commerce.” [6]
    • 540 checkpoints and roadblocks impose massive delays and diversions on the West Bank economy while Israeli permit laws make it impossible for most Palestinians to travel to Jerusalem, Israel or other countries. [1]
    • Israeli GDP per head is now 20 times higher than Palestinian and the Palestinian has been held back for a decade while Israeli GDP per head has increased by 22%.[2]

[1] Report on UNCTAD assistance to the Palestinian people July 2010

[2] International Labour Conference 2011 Report on the situation of workers of the occupied Arab territories gives the real per capita GDP as $1,614, approximately 2 % lower than its 1999 level. See http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_norm/—relconf/documents/meetingdocument/wcms_155419.pdf

[3] Foreign & Commonwealth Office Country Profile of the Occupied PalestinianTerritories

[4] ILO see above

[5] ILO see above

[6] Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Performance of the Palestinian Economy 2011, 15-05-2012 http://www.pcbs.gov.ps/Portals/_pcbs/PressRelease/perfEco2011E.pdf

Contact Details

This briefing has been produced by Martin Linton, Sally Fitzharris and Taris Ahmad. For further questions please contact:

Martin Linton, martin@martinlinton.org

Sally Fitzharris, sally@sallyfitzharris.co.uk

Taris Ahmad, international.law.taris@gmail.com

Further information

Map of West Bank settlement

http://www.ochaopt.org/fsonlinemaps.aspx

Trajectory of the Wall

http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_west_bank_barrier_route_update_july_2011.pdf

The attack on Gaza was self-defence – myths and facts

“The attack on Gaza was self-defence.”

a graph showing numbers killed prior to Gaza War 2008
Israelis killed by Palestinians in Israel and Palestinians killed by Israelis in Gaza prior to the 2008 Gaza War
source: B’tSelem.
  • During the Israeli assault that started on 27 December 2008 and lasted 22 days, 13 Israelis were killed and 1,400 Palestinians.[1]
  • The Israeli attack codenamed Operation Cast Lead actually followed a six-month calm in which there were no Israeli deaths. Even when Israel broke the calm, killing 17 Gazans in November, Hamas stood still and did not retaliate.[2]
  • There was also a huge dis proportionality in arms. Israeli airstrikes are made by F-16s, Apache helicopters and drones while al-qassam rockets were, according to the UN’s Goldstone Report, “fashioned from rudimentary materials such as hollow metal pipes (…) relatively unsophisticated weapons and lacking a guidance system”.

Background 

  • An Egyptian-brokered six-month ceasefire between Israel and Hamas came into force on 19 June 2008, policed in Gaza by Hamas, and expired on 19 December. On 27 December Israel began the assault on Gaza which ended on 22 January 2009 with 1,400 Palestinians dead.
  • Operation Cast Lead is the Israeli term for the bombardment of Gaza during December 2008 and January 2009. The term gives the impression it was a legitimate military operation or a war. Under international law, as occupying power, Israel is obliged to protect the Gazan civilian population. The wholly disproportionate nature of the attack and the deliberate assault on civilians and civilian infrastructure were widely condemned. Armed conflict in Gaza was not between two states or even between a state and a non-state actor, but against a defenceless population.

[1] See statistics at Annexures

[2] See statistics at Annexures

“We never starve the Gazans. We always let humanitarian goods in.”

  • Israel is restricting food supplies into Gaza allowing an average 1,000 lorries a week to enter Gaza so far this year compared with 2,807 a week before the blockade.
  • This is part of an undeclared policy of ‘semi-starvation’ designed to punish the Gazans for voting for Hamas.
  • Gazans’ per capita gdp has fallen by 17 % since 2005 pushing the standard of living down with 38% defined as “poor”, 44% as “food insecure” and 80% receiving UN food aid.

Background 

  • Israel was forced in the High Court to admit authorship of a classified document on ‘‘Food Consumption in the Gaza Strip’’ for use by occupation authorities to measure Gazans’ ‘humanitarian minimum’ calorific requirements depending on age, height, weight and sex.
  • Dov Weissglass, Prime Minister Sharon’s bureau chief, told a private meeting, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”[1]

[1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/apr/16/israel

Contact Details

This briefing has been produced by Martin Linton, Sally Fitzharris and Taris Ahmad. For further questions please contact:

Martin Linton, martin@martinlinton.org

Sally Fitzharris, sally@sallyfitzharris.co.uk

Taris Ahmad, international.law.taris@gmail.com

Further information

Map of West Bank settlement

http://www.ochaopt.org/fsonlinemaps.aspx

Trajectory of the Wall

http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_west_bank_barrier_route_update_july_2011.pdf

Hamas – myths and facts

“If we talk to Hamas, we will be encouraging terrorism”

Fact:

  • Political process never encourages terrorism
  • Injustice and Impunity cause resistance
  •  Israel is already talking to Hamas – how else did it reach a ceasefire agreement?
  • If we had taken that approach in Northern Ireland, we would still be fighting.

Background 

  • Hamas was elected with 74 of the 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council. The EU, Israel and the Quartet are boycotting Hamas.[1]Israel arrested parliamentarians including the Speaker.
  • Israel does talk to Hamas, albeit indirectly. In June 2008 an Egyptian brokered Hamas-Israel ceasefire entered into force.
  • Although theUK government “does not talk to Hamas”, Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs have spoken to Hamas during visits to Gaza and theWest Bank.

[1] http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200607/ldselect/ldeucom/132/13206.htm#a7

“Why won’t Hamas accept the three Quartet principles?”

  • Israelis claim to want talks without preconditions, but what are the Quartet principles if not preconditions?
  • Hamas have offered a “long-term truce” and few doubt they will recognise Israel as part of an agreement, but why should they give up their bargaining chips before they start?
  • Hamas has been observing the existing ceasefire better than the Israelis

Background 

“Palestine must first recognise Israel …

  •  The PLO – representing all Palestinians – has already recognised Israel since 1993.  Israel has never reciprocated by recognising Palestine even though over 130 countries now do.
  •  Israel has now moved the goalposts by demanding to be recognised “as a Jewish state” without explaining what that means. Arab Israelis fear it would mean their removal by force.
  • Hamas has always said it would recognise a state of Israel within legitimate 1967 borders as part of an agreement – but not without knowing the terms of that agreement.

….renounce violence…:

  • Hamas started observing and policing its ceasefire with Israel from July 2008 and – outside the period of the Israeli assault of 2008-9 and other isolated flare-ups – has largely maintained it.
  • Hamas leader Khaled Meshal has offered Israel a “long-term truce” and promised that, once Palestine is independent, “we would practise democracy peacefully without violence”.[1]
  • The second intifada ended seven years ago and the last suicide bombing was over five years ago.
  • All Palestinians maintain that the UN charter gives them a “right to resist” occupation even though they now support a policy of non-violence.
  • Israeli airstrikes and cross-border fire continue to kill many civilians in Gaza: in 2011 59 civilians were killed and 2,059 injured.[2]
  • In the West Bank non-violent protests have been met with live ammunition, rubber bullets, high velocity tear gas canisters, tear gas and stun grenades. So far this year 67 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli forces on average every week.[1] 131 Palestinians were injured in demonstrations in April 2012. [2]

…. adhere to previous agreements’’:

  • Israel should also have to abide by existing agreements. But they announced a new settlement of more than 5,000 homes at Givat Hamatos which reneges on principles agreed by most Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, including Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak, known as the ‘‘Clinton Parameters.’’ (Foundation for Middle East Peace) [3]

[1] UN OCHA Humanitarian Monitor see above

[2] UN OCHA Humanitarian Monitor see above; HoC Library Standard Note: SN/IA/5968 Hamas, Fatah and the Middle East Quartet principleshttp://www.parliament.uk/topics/Middle-EastArchive.htm#SN

[3] HoC Library Standard Note: SN/IA/5968 Hamas, Fatah and the Middle East Quartet principleshttp://www.parliament.uk/topics/Middle-EastArchive.htm#SN


[1] BBC interview with Meshal http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/4693382.stm

[2] UN OCHA Humanitarian Monitor see above

Contact Details

This briefing has been produced by Martin Linton, Sally Fitzharris and Taris Ahmad. For further questions please contact:

Martin Linton, martin@martinlinton.org

Sally Fitzharris, sally@sallyfitzharris.co.uk

Taris Ahmad, international.law.taris@gmail.com

Further information

Map of West Bank settlement

http://www.ochaopt.org/fsonlinemaps.aspx

Trajectory of the Wall

http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_west_bank_barrier_route_update_july_2011.pdf