Saturday, 11 April 2009

Red Crescent, Aid Delivery, Lions in Zoos

Sometimes there is so much to talk about that I am daunted to even begin. Since last putting anything on the web, I have visited four more schools and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights and the Red Crescent and met so many people that I can't juggle them all. Staying in the hotel with us for the last few days has been a delegation from France, on a private visit, they stress, to investigate war crimes. The specialist in weaponry I interviewed, but I'm not allowed to talk about it for a few days until I'm given clearance. I shared my breakfast table with several tough looking guys from the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of the interior having secretive conferences with them.

However, regular readers may remember that I have shown children's pictures of bodies lying with dismembered limbs. Well, it turns out that Israel are using weapons - they are called anti-personnel weapons - that deliberately target people and not buildings. They are quite capable of blowing limbs apart, even if you are not at the epi-centre of the blast. They are specifically designed to kill people and leave buildings untouched, they are relatively experimental and they are being tested in Gaza. Some folk here think that the reason the Western powers allow Israel to continue to keep Palestinians in a Zoo and shoot them through the bars will-nilly is because of the research value of these tests. I don't know about this, but I know that the Israeli generals are sick fuckers.

I moved on to interview the Palestine Red Crescent. Earlier in my blog I uploaded a picture of a building saying that I was not sure if it was associated with the Red Crescent Building next door. Well it was the Hospital. the Israelis shelled it for three days, without warning and without allowing evacuation, which, each night, had to take place under fire. The spokesman pointed out that there had been a picture on National TV Stations of a sniper firing at the evacuees. Some of the British Fee Gaza Workers here were working in the Hospital at the time, and helped with this. More about this later, too.

Here's the second part of an interview I did with the red crescent, talking about where the aid from the convoy is, and making some more general points. :


The first part will be a challenge to edit to 10 minutes, dealing with the fundamental right in law of Red Cross/Crescent organisations to immunity from fire, and also dealing with the three days of shelling that they got from the Israelis despite that, and the evacuations under fire, and the fact that some UK nationals were here all through the assault working in the hospital and such. This blog is being altered to make links to them more prominent, but here they are for now: This Blogger is currently upstaging me by being the first to report on an exhibition of Art in the Red Crescent Hospital., and deal with the continuing firing of rockets from land and from sea by the Israeli navy and army. Do not listen to anyone who tries to tell you that the Israelis don't fire rockets at civilians. However, it is nice to be free of the supersonic bangs made at just a few feet in height, that the locals say are just designed to frighten and intimidate, that flyovers from Israeli Jets used to make.

Before the Red Crescent I went  to the Palestine Human Rights Centre, and reported to the Administrator. He had asked me to review a couple of things on the web-site and I realised that there is not a single mention of Bulldozers in the entire site, as far as I could judge. 

Yet the use of Bulldozers is widespread and lethal. These machines are not like those you see on construction sites in the UK, they are taller than many houses, fully armoured and have machine guns fitted to them. They are almost all made by Caterpillar, the PCHR confirmed, and these are finished in the UK and other European Countries, notably France. The Armour is attached by Israel, and that allows Caterpillar to say that it is not exporting war machinery. However, the offence is the same whether you do it or knowingly - and they can't say they don't know - allow others to do it. Their use in the front line is forbidden by EU regulations. Yet still the EU is considering upgrading the EU-Israel trade agreement! Yesterday I read that NATO countries have agreed to send ships to police the Mediterranean coast to prevent arms reaching Hamas. For the love of Humanity, are these people blind, deaf and Heartless? I really hope that the use of a NATO force will allow the Gazans to trade, keeping the Israeli navy away, and imposing a considered programme of policing. But the talk is just about destroying Hamas, not feeding people.

The lions' enclosure in Gaza Zoo, after 7 F16 strikes. The 2 lions cannot now leave their 7X8m cage, because the paddock can't be repaired; tubing is banned in the siege.

In a zoo, Children who poke sticks through the cage are told off, but not killed. But if the animals were to be able to, say reach through and attack a passer by through the bars, and they did this to the child who was poking them, then the animal would be killed. If the animal missed, then the public would demand that a stronger fence be put up to protect them from these dangerous animals. Anyone who said that they were friends with the, say, Lions in the cage, and could get into the cage and have a roll about in the straw with them as we have all seen on TV, would be regarded as special, admired for living with danger, but it would never change our vew that the animals were dangerous, and that they must be prevented at all costs from reaching humans and killing them. The point is that no matter what the humans do, they will only be told off, but it does not seem disproportionate to us that the animals be killed for even the slightest misdemeanor. And that is because they are not humans, and are not given Human Rights.

This is the narrative that dominates for the Palestinians, for most Israelis, and probably for most people. Just like in a Zoo, it is alright for the Zoo Keepers to have more and more sophisticated ways of keeping control while some old fashioned folk say that you can do it better with kindness, but no one will let the animals out of their cage, it is never discussed. That is what life, and the future holds for Palestinians. What is the best way to keep them in their cages. Netanyahu says that constantly punishing them, killing them, and better still, transferring them to a zoo elsewhere is the answer. Tzipi Livni says that they should have autonomy in a state of the leftovers from Israel, but will not allow them, ever, to control their own foreign affairs, for instance. Actually, it is not clear that she would ever actually allow them a state, either, but it is the Israeli way to have a good cop and a bad cop so that the West have someone they can like, and someone they can 'rein in' 

This all misses the point. Palestinians must be entirely free. Free to bear arms if they like, free to have a state with an army, free to like and to dislike who they like. They must have the same rights as you and me, and that means the right to defend themselves. There will never be peace until they get it.

Israel, on the other hand, must learn that just because it is a state does not mean that it is immune from international law. And if ever there was a case for an armed invasion, it is into Israel, although the same result could be achieved by simple international will. To be a state, and have the right to bear arms and defend yourself, which Israel has, and constantly bleats about, entails responsibilities, too. Palestine would also have these responsibilities, if it were free. These responsibilities involve international norms of Justice, so signing up to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, getting rid of nuclear weapons and signing the nuclear non proliferation treaty, signing other facets of international law to do with extradition and equal treatment of citizens. If they did all this, after we had tried the war criminals, and after Israel had paid massive compensation to the Palestinians for all the destroyed infrastructure of their current lands, and also compensation for the original stolen lands, or allow some return of refugees: after all this, there is only one reason why the two nations could not live in peace together, and that is Zionism, the urge, the itch - Sigmund Freud described it as a compulsion, a neurotic compulsion - to expand again. Or in fact never to agree a peace treaty because they will never agree to roll back their existing expansion.

Really, the world has to stop selling them arms, the UK must stop selling them Bulldozers in particular, must boycott their goods, must siege and blockade them indeed, until they stop treating Palestinians like animals, and set them Free. (Capital F, just like when George Bush says it)

Action to open the Rafah border - International Movement to open the Rafah border

Dear friends,

Since we have launched our call “International Movement to Open the Rafah Border”, we have been contacted by many organisations and citizens from all over the world who gave us information about their planned actions for Gaza.

We need you at the Rafah crossing in order to help them to bring their humanitarian aid into Gaza and ask the “PERMANENT OPENING OF THE RAFAH CROSSING!”

Since 4 years, people in Gaza are living under horrific conditions: there is no work, no money, no food, no enough medicine, no construction material, and so on.

At the Rafah Crossing, the situation is really bad! Many humanitarian aid convoys are actually stuck at the Rafah crossing and tons of foodstuffs and help are rotting in Al Arish because Egyptian authorities are refusing to let them get into Gaza. GAZANS NEED URGENTLY YOUR HELP!
(see video about an italian group stuck at the Rafah crossing/Al Arish :

Below, a list of the planned actions:

1) May 3rd: A Convoy for Gaza

The European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza intends to send a big convoy of more than 100 trucks. They will deliver wheelchairs, medicine, medical instruments and toys for the people of Gaza. The trucks will come from Great Britain, France, Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Germany, Italy, Austria and Norway. They will leave Milano, Italy, on May 3rd and will sail from Genoa towards Alexandria in Egypt. Then the convoy which will reach Alexandria on May 6th, will go directly to the Rafah border and then into Gaza.

2) 22 Days to Lift the Siege of Gaza: May 22-June 14, 2009

From May 22-June 14, many organizations like CODE PINK & Free Gaza Movement, will amass delegations at the Rafah border in Egypt and the Erez crossing in Israel. Gaza will be enveloped with solidarity in order to LIFT THE SIEGE. 35 Palestinian and Lebanese organizations will send also boats to Gaza.

3) July 4th: Convoy Viva Palestina US

George Galloway MP and the Vietnam veteran and peace campaigner Ron Kovic will launch a convoy from the United States and will bring $10 million in aid and 500 vehicles to Gaza.
The activists will land in Cairo where they will buy the humanitarian aid. The convoy will be formed there and will make its way to the Rafah crossing and into Gaza

All these organizations will need our help and, we, citizens of the world must be at the Rafah crossing, to show to our governments that we condemns this harsh and illegal siege and we will not stay silent in front of the desperate urgency and unacceptable conditions the civilian population of Gaza is facing.


For a better coordination, thanks to send your answers to the questions below at :

. Do you intend to come and participate in our sit-in at the Rafah crossing? Alone or with a group? When and how long do you plan to stay? We will give all the information you need ((internal transport, hotel, visas, expenses, ect..)

. Do you intend to organize a convoy or an action for Gaza? Let us know! We will try to help you!

. Do you want to help in coordinating this action in your country or your area?


Posted by Frances Laing.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Massive Abduction of Fishermen by the Israeli navy

Rod has mentioned this should be the most important link on the blog, but due to communication difficulties, it has gone under so far. Please read it.

Here's the link. It's an international campaign to support fishermen in and around Gaza who have been attacked or abducted by Israeli military forces. Their livelihood is being undermined and their boats stolen.

Post by Frances Laing

Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign Factsheet. The EU and the Rafah Crossing

Readers may find this background information important right now.
Posted by Frances Laing. Information from the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Open the Rafah crossing

In November 2005, with the signing of the Agreement on Movement and Access by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Palestinians in Gaza were promised access to the outside world free from Israeli control through a border crossing to Egypt at Rafah. Commenting on this when the Agreement was announced, Condoleezza Rice said:

“… for the first time since 1967, Palestinians will gain control over entry and exit from their territory. This will be through an international crossing at Rafah … .”

And Javier Solana reinforced this promise on behalf of the EU:

“This is the first time that a border is opened and not controlled by the Israelis. … So as you can imagine, this is a very important step ….”

This promise to the Palestinians has not been fulfilled. In practice, Israel has had a veto on the opening of the Rafah crossing. The EU, which has provided a small force (EU BAM Rafah) to monitor the operation of the crossing, has consistently refused to send its personnel to open the crossing when Israel doesn’t want it open.

The EU BAM website states that the crossing “can only be opened by agreement between the Parties”, in other words, the EU accords Israel a veto over its opening. This is in flat contradiction to the promise made by Javier Solana that the crossing is “not controlled by the Israelis”.

The IPSC believes that this promise made to Palestinians by Javier Solana on behalf of the EU should be honoured. And so should the other promises made in the Agreement on Movement and Access:-

other crossings for people and cargo between Israel, Gaza and the West Bank will be expanded

regular bus and truck convoys between the West Bank and Gaza

the reduction of obstacles to movement on the West Bank

a seaport and airport at Gaza

None of these promises has been fulfilled. We believe they should be fulfilled.

28 March 2008