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Saturday, 27 December 2014

Unicef State of Palestine - fotos

Monday, 1 December 2014

Petition im Bundestag - Anerkennung des Staates Palästina


Anerkennung des Staates Palästina 
Petition im Bundestag - Petition 55617
Text der Petition
Der Deutsche Bundestag möge beschließen, …den Staat Palästina anzuerkennen. 

Nachdem Schweden und das britische Unterhaus dafür gestimmt haben, wäre es an der Zeit für Deutschland diesen Schritt ebenfalls zu gehen. Es kann nur faire Verhandlungen auf Augenhöhe geben, wenn Palästina genauso als Staat anerkannt wird, wie es bereits Israel ist.

Friday, 21 November 2014

I am from Gaza - Maisoon

Maisoon shared her very important life story and reflections on life, forgiveness and determination that would make anyone proud to know her. Please read, reflect and share her important message. Eileen

Maisoon Bashir

I first met Maisoon on the Welcome to Gaza Convoy. She was working voluntarily as a translator with us as she has wonderful English. Maisoon spoke of her pride in her country, her language and religion and we all learned much from her regarding identity as a female living in Gaza. She talked about her family, the painful loss of her Dad and the long occupation of her family home with such feeling that we openly cried as she related so much of her personal life to many of us. She spoke of such emotion, pain and suffering with a dignity, selflessness and an ultimate positivity that I have seldom heard outside of Palestine.

Maisoon told me, at first falteringly, that because many of the people on the Convoy were talking of the deep and intense trauma of the Gazan people that this made her want to talk with me about what had happened to her family. Many of the readers will already know the context of the exit of the Israeli army and settlement of the Gazan strip. However many will not so I will briefly outline Maisoons family’s living conditions before Israeli citizens and military left the Gaza Strip in 2005.

Maisoons father and mother and her six siblings lived in a three storey house prior to 2000 when Israeli soldiers, because of its location bordering an Israeli settlement, occupied the top two floors for five years, until 2005, insisting that the family only access the ground floor. Every night from sunset to sunrise that occupation of their family home, as if it were not difficult enough, became worse as they would then be confined to one bedroom while the soldiers, with guns, either maintained guard outside the bedroom door or worse at times from within the bedroom.
“We don’t eat because you just have 5 munities what can you do in this 5 minutes!. We don’t sleep. We were like prisoners in one bedroom”.

At times Maisoon told me that her mother and father would be too anxious to sleep and so they would stand up all night in fear of anything happening to their children. On a few occasions when her mother went to the bathroom she returned to find soldiers in her bed. Intimate family life was completely disrupted for a full five years. Despite the trauma of this and the intrusion on every aspect of family life and growing up Maisoon said,
“I won’t let them ruin my future. My father always told us that fighting and anger was no solution and that we have to find a way to peace. Peace in our country and peace in our hearts”.

Maisoon explained to me that her father, a school principal who was a very peaceful man studying for his PhD, refused to move from his home despite greenhouses being destroyed, on-going occupation and refusing them freedom of movement. They had been requested by Israeli Occupation Forces to move in order that greater protection could be provided for the nearby settlement of Kfar Darom. Despite all that had happened to his family in terms of on-going humiliation, the shooting of his son in view of members of the United Nations and being shot himself Maisoon told me that her father always maintained that “punishment does not pay”. Maisoon recalls him saying to her, and to visitors to their home who questioned how he could continue to live in this occupied environment that,
“We have to devote ourselves to finding a peaceful solution so that our children can live in peace”.

Maisoon seems to have adopted her father’s philosophical position and the way that he lived as she spoke so fondly of him, of his life, of his work, and of his relationship with all of his children and his wife.
“He was a man of peace and I want to be like him. He was special and I want to be something special like him. I want to be a special star for my family and for Palestine”.
Maisoon was surprised at her father’s death. She spoke about having spoken with him before she had gone to bed that night and he had been well.

“I used to love talking with him and I miss him so much. I just couldn’t believe he had died. My Dad called me for suhoor (breakfast) and after that I went to sleep, then my sister called me to wake up but I was tired and didn’t want to get up. A few minutes later she ran in to tell me that my father had died. I couldn’t believe it. After that I took on the responsibility to be there for my mum and support her in everything that she has to do for our family. It is what I want to do. I want to support my family in every way that I can. My dreams have had to be put on hold for a while because my family is so important. My father always encouraged us to follow our dreams and I will follow them. I am following them but in a different way to the way that I thought it would be but that is ok because I want to do what is right. I want all of my family to be proud of me”

Maisoon says that she feels very different from her friends and from people her age.

“They don’t understand me. They think I am too serious and boring because I am not interested in the things that they like and the things that they do. That is because I haven’t had any practise. When I was growing up I couldn’t go out freely with friends because the soldiers ordered us to be home at sunset. They told us when to eat and when to sleep. Other families also thought that our house was too dangerous for their children to visit so I had no practise in making friends. I’m a sociable person but I have more important things to do with my life. I have my dreams and I have to make them come true. I don’t have my father around to help me so I have to make them happen myself”.
Maisoon says that being with the international convoy was a unique experience.

“For the first time in my life special after the death of my Dad, I felt that people wanted to listen to me”. “She sees that for the first time after the death of my Dad, I am happy. But she is worried that you will all let me down. We find it very hard to trust people. I am sure that you can understand that. We are afraid of being hurt. We have been hurt so much. I have tried not to feel hope for the future but you have made that very difficult because now I feel hope and I feel like I belong again. I used to feel like a fish out of water. Now you have put me back into the water and I feel like I can breathe again”.

Her family are not the only ones who have noticed. Maisoon says that her friends have commented too. They have heard a different tone in her voice.

Maisoon hope that her dreams will come true. She says that she knows that her dreams are big ones. She says that
“They are especially big for a girl who had her childhood taken away from her. From aged nine to fourteen I had soldiers in my home night and day. But I am going to make all of my experience; the family that I come from and my faith in Allah and hard work come together to make my dream come true”. I’m still a strong girl in front of all difficulties , and fighting for my Dreams. I believe that tomorrow will be better, and I always repeat the words" Keeping your Dream alive"

What is your dream Maisoon?

“I want to be a star in the sky for me also for my family. I want to be a star in the sky for Palestine, a girl that all want to hear about and follow her news. I want to be the hand offering a helping hand for anyone in this world regardless of religion, nationality and culture because in the end we are all human beings. Maybe some will see it is impossible to achieve it alone, but I’m sure that there are many people like me who share the same Dream, so I will never be alone, and our message, the message of peace will be realized!

Having spent time with Maisoon and experienced her generosity of spirit and time, her knowledge, professionalism and dedication to all that she does and her love and pride in her family, her religion and her country, despite all that she has endured at a young age, it is clear that Maisoon has already achieved her dream in so many ways.
But I know that there is more to come.

Thank you for sharing your very important life story with me Maisoon

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Memories of war..!! by Maisoon Bashir

It is the 10th of July 2014, the third day that I am writing in my diary about the war here in Gaza, and the stories that will forever live within me. Pain running through my stomach and abdominals, an emotional pain, constantly waiting for the future with fear and worry. Despite the fear and worry, people are still determined to live and fulfill their dreams, nothing will stop us ... apart from death. For me, this has become like a series of action, which returns every year. The only difference is that there are new heroes and, sadly, new victims. It seems that the productivity of this series is increasing year after year.
The first show starts suddenly with random shelling, the thunder of the bombs, the explosions, the sound of aircrafts, the sound of ambulances, the screams of children and the cries of the mothers. Once again, the breaking news of Gaza hits the headlines, with an updated number of martyrs. This is just the beginning of the story. In every story there are thousands of tales with eyes filled with tears of pain and anguish, and fear of what has happened around us, at the same time there remains hope, strength and the willpower to exist.
As usual, my family gathers in one room thinking it is safe, the safest room in our home. Only this time the war comes in the holy month of Ramadhan, this is something that was completely not expected. We all have that one 'safe' room yet we know that nowhere IS safe. We have to expect bombing and shelling anywhere at any time and any place. This war lives up to its name good and proper.
I need to write these notes just to record them in order to share with the rest of the world. However, I do not need to record this for myself because it will remain entrenched in my heart and memory and I will never forget them. How can a person forget the permanent pain of loss inside of him? But I write to share my horrific experience with the whole world, for them, to know. Perhaps my writing will be able to wake the world up who is in a deep sleep, whilst millions weep.
I remember the fear of my mother when hearing the sound of shelling and missiles approaching more and more from our house, here the role of my mother is starting as worry and fear are increasing . My mother starts reading verses from the Koran, and make us repeat them, perhaps it could save her children, surviving the brutality of the shells, as if something would protect their children from death .. !!. Here I stand saying "don't stress me with your worry mum the worse thing can happen is to die and we will all die one day."
My younger sister frequently says "Mom do not go out of the house, my mother do not sleep away from me, mom do not leave me alone. Since the beginning of the war my sister is constantly in the smallest room of the house, thinking it’s the safest room in the house, as previously stated.
In the morning the shelling intensified and it was violent and scary ,it lead to my little sister crying and crying and squeezing my hands tightly, in a way that scared me a lot; what makes me cry is her look while she saying these words "Maisoon, do not leave my hands Let's die together!" or when she says "mmm I'm not afraid of death but I do not like to be tortured by it or I do not like to to... to stay alone in this life!" .
Imagine with me , I don’t sleep the whole night fearing that if I close my eyes, I will wake up with something I don’t like. The worst case scenario, seeing my family dead. I realize that everything is possible in a war , but the feeling of losing someone close to you is so difficult, I know that very well, because I still suffer the loss of my father (May Allah bless his soul) and I always will. Nothing can ever bring him back.
A shortage of sleep has exhausted me, and my body is exhausted by thinking too much. I often have the desire to shout loudly and say "OH, PEOPLE PLEASE STOP , THAT’S ENOUGH ( KHaaalaaas , in Arabic ), I WOULD LIKE TO SLEEP JUST ONE HOUR ". Perhaps someone will hear or pay attention.
The clock struck 3:00 at dawn , it is time for the preparation of suhoor (breakfast in Ramadan). I do it, trying to kill the desire of sleep in my eyes after a scary night ..
"Mohammed wake up, come on. Zana wake up and drink a cup of water, mom, drink water, eat something." As I fulfill the role and responsibilities of a mother who takes care of her children, you can consider this a feature of my character.
I love my family very much, I am so proud of them and I miss my siblings, who are abroad, a lot. They remain very worried and they call, call us ten times within an hour to be assured that everything is fine.
The phone is ringing, it is my brother Dr. Yazid "Are you okay. If there's anything surrounding you, DON’T go out the house!"
Then another phone-call, it is my brother Eng. Yazan "What happens, I heard there is a shelling in our city Deir al-Balah reassure me, do you have electricity, do you need anything?" and the same thing from my brothers Yousef and Zaid.
The one worried the most and in a complete state of horror is my sister Amira. She is studying medicine in Germany. You will not believe, she calls every hour or at any moment she hears news that there is bombing in Deir al-Balah "I am following News and I heard that there was bombing, I am worried a lot, please assure me, don’t hide anything from me, Are you Okay?!”
Every time my siblings call, I can't pretend that everything is fine I can’t tell them, "Yes, we're fine, me, my mother, Zana and Mohammed, do not be afraid. It has became normal to us”. Whatever Allah has written, good or bad, will be. And they themselves know that.
14-7 is the date of my Birthday , today is my 22nd birthday. Now, I am a girl who is twenty-two years old. It’s a nice feeling to grow a year, whilst your dreams and ambitions grow with you. Twenty two years - a dream growing up with me since my childhood is to be a bright star in the sky, to raise the voice of truth, to be the voice of poor people, the voice of my beloved country Palestine. For Twenty-two years I have seen my people suffering from injustice.
I was planning to celebrate my twenty-second birthday , because I thought it would be special this time. Especially after I graduated from University. I finished one stage of my life and will take a new stage, and go out to realize my dreams. The first thing was a scholarship, I got it after three years of trying, without feeling bored or frustrated, a chance to travel to the United States in a scholarship to learn how to set up scientific research.
I was so happy
I was at the peak of my happiness, feeling proud that I achieved a goal or perhaps a dream. I believe that my dream is mine and I will get it. I learned this from Martin, Gandhi, my father and many great people who have played a role in shaping my character. What increased my joy, I knew that my Birthday this year will be in the same time that I'll be there. So, I'm going to see my brother, Yosef, who I have not seen for ten years and more, because of the situation in the Gaza Strip. For this reason, I thought it would be a special birthday, I was closing my eyes when I put my head on my pillow, dreaming how fantastic it will be. This is the subject, to live plunged in a fantasy world, a world in which every privacy and what I wished, exist.
Call me crazy, for it is my best feature, sometimes a person needs some madness to taste the sweetness of life. It will be the first time to be out of Gaza's boards, it is the first time to taste freedom. But the price is very expensive.
I started planning, moment by moment, how I will spend the time with my brother. And suddenly something stopped me ‘Oh! One Moment Maisoon, Do not forget that you are in Gaza, you have to realize that.’ Perhaps it is the cost of living in Gaza, to put something between a dream and reality and to expect anything to happen. But this disturbing cost does not stop me dreaming, never. I used to dream and be optimistic that the next will be better, no matter what the circumstances are; this was the sentence of executioner to hinder me to travel without knowing the reasons .. !!
And what made the thing became more complex is the war against Gaza. OH! What bad luck you have Maisoon…! All that I have planned has ended in a bad way, and nothing will happen! I lost my joy and happiness, but there’s one thing that happened, one thing didn’t change yet, it was to have a special birthday and yes I had it, but with a view of the Israeli occupation. Thanks to the Israeli occupation, particularly with these horrifying pictures of children and civilians killed and their homes destroyed. It's been made special by the sound of bombing everywhere and the electricity and water shortages. It's been made special by my younger sister who says “please let us die together!”
This was the equivalent to my birthday cake. So thank you for making my birthday so special. Thanks to the silent world, the so called callers of human rights and biggest thanks to the humanity of Israel.
Time of breakfast:
The time now is 4:00 pm, the time to start preparing the breakfast. These are the ritual of the holy month of Ramadhan, but in these circumstances, everything is different. My mother tries to choose easy meals that can be prepared quickly and we help her to make it in a short time!
Electricity is still cut off, the shelling is continuing and different voices in the area, with each hit we get out of the kitchen and wait for a bit, then we are back completing cooking the food, thus like playing a game. Now, everything is prepared and after ten minutes we will have our breakfast, but suddenly we hear heavy shelling near, close to the home. My home is near to UN school which has a huge number of families, and the parents who fear for their children’s lives. You hear the screaming of kids and the sounds of sirens from ambulances. Five people have been killed.
My mother says " hurry up, eat quickly, praying and don’t go out, OK?"
Indeed, we eat but we do not taste the food, the fear overpowers us in many ways, this is being one of them: what we eat just to give our bodies strength from exhaustion of this bad situation, and no one can bear it.
Now, the radio news station is starting in my home! Yes, don’t be surprised, every one of us is following the news. While the electricity continues to cut, the only window is by using our cell phones to be kept updated with what's happening outside. Imagine, twenty-four-seven we hear the news. It seems that my home turned completely into a news station, but in a different form.
I told you before, that everything is changing because of this the war, it doesn’t care about anything even the holy month, the religious rituals or at least the humanity! That they violated your inviolable Ramadan, sorry Ramadan!
My pen has stopped writing, because I can't bear what is happening and I can't bear the brutal war and the massacres have been committed one after the other, without any movement of the world. And also, because the stories and events, how much I tried to narrate is incomparable to what is actually happening. The events are indescriptibles. The ink from my pen has finished and I don’t have completed my story.
Will the war end? I do not know. But I know, that it has planted pain and pain in the hearts of people, especially in those children who have lost their families, their ties and their dreams but their eyes are still shining .. ! We are waiting and we are still waiting for the real victory, for freedom, shining it’s sun in the land of a long occupation. Maybe it is our destiny to die, if not in this war, it may be in the coming days or perhaps, will be like those who drowned in the sea, seeking to save their lives. Or luckier, to be the survivors on a beach, where we can find the new world.

you can contact her here:

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

women in black square

בעקבות האירועים שקרו לאחרונה בירושלים
חשוב להגביר את נוכחות נשים בשחור בכיכר!
אנא עשו ממיטב יכולתכם והצטרפו למשמרת מחר
יום שישי 24.10.2014 בין השעות 13.00 - 14.00
בכיכר פריז

Following the events that occurred recently in Jerusalem is important to increase the presence of women in black square!
Please do your best and join shift tomorrow Friday, 24.10.2014 between 13.00-14.00 in Paris

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Palestine before 1948 - video

Friday, 10 October 2014

Israel’s blood diamonds

Israel’s blood diamonds

29 March 2010
Every year, consumers the world over unwittingly spend billions of dollars on diamonds crafted in Israel, thereby helping to fund one of the world’s most protracted and contentious conflicts. Most people are unaware that Israel is one of the world’s leading producers of cut and polished diamonds. As diamonds are normally not hallmarked, consumers cannot distinguish an Israeli diamond from one crafted in India, Belgium, South Africa or elsewhere. The global diamond industry and aligned governments, including the EU, have hoodwinked consumers into believing the diamond trade has been cleansed of diamonds that fund human rights abuses, but the facts are startlingly different.
Israel — which stands accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, genocide, the crime of apartheid, extrajudicial executions within and outside the territory it controls and persistent serious breaches of the Geneva Conventions — is the world’s leading exporter of diamonds (see Figure 1 below). Israeli companies import rough diamonds for cutting and polishing, adding significantly to their value, and export them globally via distribution hubs in Antwerp, London, Hong Kong, New York and Mumbai.

In July 2000, the global diamond industry set up the World Diamond Council (WDC). The WDC was established as a response to public outrage about the use of diamonds to fund bloody conflicts in western African countries and it includes representatives from the World Federation of Diamond Bourses and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association. The council’s ultimate mandate is “the development, implementation and oversight of a tracking system for the export and import of rough diamonds to prevent the exploitation of diamonds for illicit purposes such as war and inhumane acts.” Significantly, the WDC limits its concern about human rights violations to those funded by rough diamonds only. In 2003, the WDC introduced a system of self-regulation called the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme to stem the flow of “conflict” or “blood diamonds.” In keeping with the limited concerns of the WDC the UN-mandated Kimberly Process adopted a very narrow definition of what constitutes a conflict or blood diamond: “rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments.” As a result of this tight ring-fencing, the much more lucrative trade in cut and polished diamonds avoids the human rights strictures applying to rough diamonds, provided the industry uses only Kimberly Process-compliant rough diamonds. Regardless of the human rights violations and atrocities funded by revenue from the Israeli diamond industry, governments and other vested interests party to the Kimberly Process facilitate the unrestricted access of diamonds crafted in Israel to the multi-billion dollar global diamond market.
The WDC created a web site called to promote the virtues of the industry. It lists 24 facts extolling the benefits of the diamond industry — primarily to India and countries in Africa. Some of the benefits include that an estimated 5 million people have access to appropriate healthcare globally thanks to revenues from diamonds; diamond revenues enable every child in Botswana to receive free education up to the age of 13; the revenue from diamonds is instrumental in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
While these facts are laudable the list makes no mention of other less savory facts, including the fact that revenue from the diamond industry in Israel helps fund atrocities and human rights abuses such as the killing, maiming and terrorizing of thousands of innocent men, women and children in Palestine and Lebanon — the sort of atrocities the Kimberly Process is supposed to prevent being funded by revenue from diamonds.
The list of “Diamond Facts” paints a one-sided, positive image of the industry. It implies that the greatest benefits are being felt in some of the poorest nations of the world. But Israel, one of the wealthiest nations, towers over all other countries in terms of the net benefit derived from the diamond industry. The added value to the Israeli economy from the export of diamonds was nearly $10 billion in 2008 (see Figure 2 below).

The WDC website is equally selective when it comes to providing information about which countries are most dependent on diamonds. It explains that Namibia, one of the minor diamond exporting countries in monetary terms, derives 40 percent (Trade Performance HS: Exports of Israel” accessed 25 March 2010) (See Figures 3 and 4). By comparison, the budget for Israel’s Ministry of Defense was $16 billion in 2008.

Revenue from the diamond industry helps fund Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories, its brutal subjugation of the Palestinian people and its international network of saboteurs, spies and assassins. None of this is alluded to in the WDC’s “Diamond Facts.” Contrary to claims by the diamond industry and jewelers that all diamonds are now conflict free, they are not. Israel’s dominant position in the industry means that diamonds crafted in Israel are interspersed globally with diamonds crafted in other countries. Consumers who purchase diamonds that are not laser-inscribed to identify where they were crafted run a significant risk of purchasing a diamond crafted in Israel, thereby helping to fund gross human rights violations. The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme strictures only apply to rough diamonds, thus allowing diamonds crafted in Israel to freely enter the market regardless of the criminal actions of the Israeli government and armed forces. The Kimberly Process is seriously flawed and is being used by the diamond industry and jewelers to pull the wool over consumers’ eyes by telling them that all diamonds are now “conflict free” without explaining the limitations and exactly what that means.
All this is hardly surprising given Israel’s dominant position in the diamond industry. Israel currently chairs the Kimberly Process. The notion of self-regulation by any industry that is intrinsically linked to the violations it purports to want to eliminate is something that neither governments nor the general public should tolerate. It is impossible for the public to have confidence in the diamond industry’s attempt to self-regulate as long as it facilitates the trade in diamonds crafted in Israel, which, if the Kimberly Process applied the same standards to all diamonds, would rightly be classified as blood diamonds and treated accordingly.
Given the failure of Western governments to hold Israel to account for numerous breaches of international law including international humanitarian law, breaches of the UN Charter, its failure to abide by more than 30 binding UN Security Council Resolutions, breaches of EU Agreements and disregard for the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, they are unlikely to insist that the diamond industry broaden the definition of a conflict diamond to include cut and polished diamonds that fund human rights abuses.
Consumers should have the right to know where a diamond was crafted and consequently the right to choose an Israel-free diamond. These rights are not available to consumers today.
In 2005, Palestinian civil society called for an international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel similar to that which helped bring an end to the apartheid regime in South Africa. The international BDS campaign has to date focused much of its boycott activities on the most easily targeted Israeli products including fruit, vegetable, cosmetics and some plastic products. Targeting these products helps to increase public awareness of Israeli crimes and to some extent satisfies the public’s desire to register disapproval of Israel’s actions. However, these products account for only a small fraction of Israel’s total manufacturing exports. Even if the boycott of these products was totally successful it would not make a significant difference to the Israeli economy or to Israel’s ability to further its expansionist goals.

The diamond industry is a major pillar of the Israeli economy (see Figure 5 above). No other developed country is so heavily dependent on a single luxury commodity and the goodwill of individual consumers globally. Anything that threatens the carefully-nurtured image of diamonds as objects of desire, romance and purity could have serious consequences for the Israel diamond industry and the country’s ability to continue funding its illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories, the construction of illegal colonies and other associated criminal activities that render it the pariah of the modern age. The international BDS campaign needs to focus global attention on the diamond trade that facilitates Israel’s ongoing crimes against the Palestinian people and its neighbors in the region.
Seán Clinton is the chairperson of the Limerick branch of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign and a former Boycott Officer on the National Committee of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Blog to End the Occupation: Confronting Challenges to Palestine Activism

Blog to End the Occupation: Confronting Challenges to Palestine Activism: The US Campaign held its 13th Annual National Organizers' Conference, The Mainstreaming of BDS & Continuing Struggle for Palestinia...

It’s time for the US to stop fuelling the conflict in Israel and Gaza

U.S. government: Stop arming Israel - amnesty international

     U.S. government: Stop arming Israel

    More civilians have been killed than fighters since the Israeli military Operation “Protective Edge” started on 8 July. Call on the U.S. government, Israel’s largest arms supplier by far, to urgently suspend arms transfers to Israel and to push for a UN arms embargo on all parties to the conflict.

    Photo: Israeli soldiers in position next to an artillery shells from an artillery unit near the Israeli border with Gaza, 21 July 2014. © European Pressphoto Agency

    MUST SEE - go to link ... and ACT please

    Wednesday, 8 October 2014

    Gaza buildings damaged

    In Pictures: The remnants of Gaza

    Israel's bombardment of Gaza has ended, but many Palestinians must now tackle the challenge of
    rebuilding from rubble.

    Eduardo Soteras Jalil Last updated: 07 Oct 2014 10:26
    Weeks after Israel ended its bombardment of Gaza, Palestinian residents have started coming back to what remains of their homes and livelihoods. Operation Protective Edge reduced entire neighbourhoods to rubble, flattened iconic buildings and killed more than 2,000 people. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than 100,000 people were displaced within Gaza, some of whom have been forced to shelter in schools for months, living on scarce food rations amid unhygienic conditions. Many were left with little more than the clothes on their backs after fleeing their homes. Conditions inside these shelters deteriorate daily, prompting families to venture back to whatever remains of their homes. In some cases, families have erected small huts over the rubble. They lack basic services, such as water and electricity - but even as winter edges nearer, there is no clear solution in sight.

    see more here please:

    400 American scholars boycott Israeli academic institutions

    PLO Department of Palestinians Expatriates Affairs confirmed Friday that more than 400 American scholars and anthropologists signed a petition to boycott Israeli academic institutions.
    The petition came to voice their “opposition to the ongoing Israeli violations of Palestinian rights, including the Israeli military occupation of the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and East Jerusalem, and to boycott Israeli academic institutions that are complicit in these violations.”
    The undersigned anthropologists said that Israel has maintained an illegal siege on the Gaza Strip for seven years, severely restricting the movement of people and goods in and out of the territory.
    “As anthropologists, we feel compelled to join academics around the world who support the Palestinian call to boycott Israeli academic institutions. This call is part of a long-standing appeal by Palestinian civil society organizations for the comprehensive implementation of boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (BDS) of Israel, and is supported by the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE)”.
    The undersigned anthropologists called for ending Israel’s siege of Gaza, its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967, and for dismantling the settlements and the separation wall.
    They also called for recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel and the stateless Negev Bedouins to full equality; and for respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

    In a related context, spokeswoman for US State Department Jen Psaki criticized Israel’s decision to move forward its plan for 2,600 new housing units in occupied Jerusalem, saying that the step would send a “troubling message” if the Israeli government proceeded with tenders and construction.
    Prime Minister Netanyahu hit back at criticism lodged at Israel by the US, saying the Obama administration should learn the facts on the ground before condemning the units.
    In response, Washington rebuffed a contention by Netanyahu that it was ill-informed of East Jerusalem building plans when it leveled its sharp criticism against Israel, saying Thursday it is well aware of the situation on the ground as sources in Jerusalem had provided the government with clear information regarding the approved construction plans.
    However, Psaki stressed that “Israel remains a friend and ally” a contrast to Wednesday’s warning that Israel’s building will “distance their closest allies.”

    Professor Salaita Termination for Speech Critical of Israel

    by Center for Constitutional Rights


    CCR, along with the Chicago civil rights law firm of Loevy & Loevy, is representing Professor Steven Salaita, whose appointment to a tenured faculty position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – for which he had resigned from another tenured teaching position and was preparing to move – was terminated following his public tweets criticizing the Israeli government's recent actions in Gaza.  Salaita's termination, which functions as a penalty for his speech on an issue of public concern, constitutes “viewpoint discrimination,” a violation of the First Amendment, and also threatens academic freedom by punishing a faculty member for speaking as a citizen on a critical issue.


    For information about the September 9, 2014 press conference with Professor Salaita, please see the media advisory and Professor Salaita's statement.
    Prior to representing Professor Salaita, CCR sent a letter to University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise regarding her decision to terminate his appointment at the University based on the content of his constitutionally-protected speech critical of the Israeli government’s military and political actions in Gaza.  The University's betrayal of academic freedom has been widely condemned.


    Professor Steven Salaita was a tenured English professor at Virginia Tech University, whose scholarship focused on colonialism, militarism and occupation and who had written well-regarded books studying Arab-American literature and criticizing Zionism.  It was on the basis of his excellent scholarly record that the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offered Professor Salaita a tenured position in the University’s American Indian Studies department.  Based on the contract he had with the University of Illinois, Professor Salaita resigned his tenured position at Virginia Tech University and had prepared to move his family to Illinois.  Yet, one week before school was to start, Professor Salaita received a terse letter from University Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise, summarily informing him that his appointment was terminated.  It offered no reasons why.

    It is clear, however, that Professor Salaita’s termination was a result of a number of posts on social media highly critical of Israeli government atrocities in Gaza in recent weeks.  The University received strong pressure from outside groups who, consistent with a broader strategy to silence Palestinian human rights activists, labeled Professor Salaita anti-semitic.  CCR has seen similar attempts to silence Palestinian activists on campuses all across the country.  Seven years of absolutely stellar teaching and scholarly evaluations for Professor Salaita totally belie claims that he would ever be “uncivil” to students in the classroom, as Chancellor Wise has since intimated.

    The University’s action to repress or penalize Professor Salaita’s speech on a matter of public concern such as Israel/Palestine because of disagreement with its message is impermissible “viewpoint discrimination,” a serious First Amendment violation.  It is also no defense for the University to claim that his speech was offensive or aggressive, as the First Amendment also clearly protects the tone and manner of speech others find objectionable.  As CCR explained in our letter to Chancellor Wise, beyond the First Amendment violation committed in this instance, the University has “betrayed elementary principles of academic freedom which naturally extend protections to faculty members’ ability to ‘speak or write as citizens,’ and which must be free from ‘institutional censorship or discipline.’” 

    The University’s betrayal of academic freedom has been met with harsh criticisms, from academic boycotts of the University, withering editorial commentary, to a petition garnering over 16,000 signatures.  A small sampling of statements in support of Professor Salaita and critical of the University of Illinois are below.
    Statements of Support for Professor Salaita and Critical of University of Illinois's Actions

    Letters from Legal Organizations
    Letter from Center for Constitutional Rights
    Letter from Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, CAIR-Chicago and NLG-Chicago
    Open Letters from Academic Organizations
    Letter from American Anthropological Association (AAA)
    Letter from American Association of University Professors (AAUP)
    Letter from American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA)
    Letter from American Historical Association (AHA)
    Letter from American Political Science Association (APSA)
    Letter from Arab American Studies Association (AASA)
    Letter from California Scholars For Academic Freedom
    Letter from Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA)
    Letter from Modern Language Association (MLA)
    Statements from Academic Organizations
    Statement by American Association of University Professors (AAUP)
    Statement by American Studies Association (ASA)
    Statement by the Executive Committee of the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Statement by Cultural Studies Association (CSA)
    Statement by Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA)
    Statement by Society of American Law Teachers
    Letters from Faculty

    Letter from Constitutional Law and Free Speech Scholars
    Letter from English and Literature Department Faculty
    Letter from Scholars Committed to Advancing Critical and Open Perspectives on the Israel-Palestine Conflict
    Letter from Scholars Who Have Traveled in Palestine
    Letter from Bonnie Honig
    Letter from Katherine Franke
    University of Illinois Jewish Community Letter in Support of Our Professor Steven Salaita
    Petitions and Academic Boycott Announcements
    The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) Condemnation
    Scholars Petition Boycotting University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Public Petition Demanding Reinstatement
    Media Commentary
    Mondoweiss: Salaita’s stellar teaching record exposes political motivation behind his firing
    Inside Higher Ed: Fighting the Twitter Police
    Academe Blog: Chancellor Phyllis Wise Explains the Firing of Steven Salaita
    Inside Higher Ed: The Emails on Salaita
    The News Gazette: UI precluded any honest debate
    The Daily Illini: Termination of Salaita is Censorship
    The News-Gazette: Salaita prompted donors' fury
    The Washington Post: Did the University of Illinois rescind Steven Salaita's appointment to appease donors?


    August 1, 2014 - The Vice President and Chancellor of the University of Illinois informed Professor Salaita that they would not recommend further action by the Board of Trustees regarding his appointment to a tenured position.
    August 7, 2014 - CCR sent a letter to University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise regarding her decision to terminate the appointment of Professor Steven Salaita at the University based on the content of his constitutionally-protected speech critical of the Israeli government’s military and political actions in Gaza.
    August 22, 2014 - Chancellor Wise released a statement regarding her decision.
    September 9, 2014 - Professor Salaita spoke publicly for the first time about the termination of his position at a press conference.
    September 11, 2014 - The University of Illinois Board of Trustees voted to terminate Professor Salaita from his tenured position.

    Russell Tribunal 2014 - Press Conference 25/09 - playlist

    David Sheen - Russell Tribunal 2014 - 24/09

    Tuesday, 7 October 2014

    Is boycotting Israel the right way to fight for Palestinian right? by Ilan and Finkelstein

    Two prominent professors and authors, Ilan Pappé and Norman Finkelstein,

    go head to head.

    In recent years, the Israeli political system has shifted to the Right, and with this have come harsher policies: ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the West Bank, genocide in Gaza and apartheid inside Israel. Without an international reaction, Palestine and the Palestinians will soon disappear.

    The Palestinians have tried armed struggle, which failed to liberate even one square inch of the land. They then put their faith in a diplomatic process that was meant to end the occupation of the 1967 areas [claimed by Israel after the Six-Day War]. The peace charade was based on the misconception that there is a significant voice within Jewish Israel that is willing to limit Zionist racism to 80 per cent of Palestine, and leave alone the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The ‘peace process’ allowed Israel to deepen the Judaization of the West Bank to a point of no return. At the same time, international immunity has enabled Israel to expand the apartheid system against the Palestinians inside Israel and to ghettoize Gaza. Israel has become a worse regime than Apartheid South Africa ever was.

    It has to be stopped, and quickly. The same methods used against Apartheid South Africa and other rogue states are being called for. The most effective way is to send a message to the cultural and academic élites who are still received warmly in the Western world as representatives of the only enlightened state in the Middle East.

    In reality, they represent a rogue regime whose moral legitimization should be questioned. They should be targeted first, and the targeting is already bearing fruit. For the first time, we hear voices of significant dissent from within these communities in Israel. It should be followed by divestment and sanctions, which have finally begun to appear – the only international activity that seems to deter the Israeli government.

    The nonviolent method of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), when expanded and adopted as an official strategy by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Hamas (and we are close to this tipping moment in time), will offer a horizon and an alternative to a desperate armed struggle that leads nowhere.

    The BDS movement is said to be anchored squarely in international law. The platform consists of three planks: an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza; equality of rights for Palestinian Israelis; and recognition of the Palestinian refugees’ right of return. It repeatedly points to international law as the fount of this political agenda.

    The core right, from which the three-fold agenda derives, is said to be the Palestinian right to self-determination. However, BDS takes no official position on the Israeli state. Its justification for this lacuna is that it ‘adopts a rights-based, not a solution-based approach’.

    Under international law, however, Israelis also have rights, including the reciprocal right to self-determination and statehood. This right has been ratified by the very same bodies to which BDS gestures in support of its ‘rights-based approach’.

    BDS also invokes the ‘UN-sanctioned rights’ of Palestinians: true, the UN has sanctioned the Palestinian right to self-determination and statehood, but only alongside Israel, not in lieu of it. Thus, the General Assembly’s annual resolution, the ‘Peaceful Settlement of the Palestine Question’, invariably ‘reaffirms its commitment, in accordance with international law, to the two-State solution of Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, within recognized borders, based on the pre-1967 borders’.

    It is hard to make out how a ‘rights-based’ movement anchored in international law can credibly claim ‘no position’ on the core right – based on one and the same international law –of the party with which it is in conflict.

    BDS derives its legitimacy from Palestinian civil society and respects international law. On these twin pillars its strategy offered a 21st-century, clear definition of the right of all Palestinians to self-determination: for the refugees to return, for the citizens to be treated equally, for the occupied to be freed and for the besieged to be liberated. In the past, when this right was limited to the people of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and only to a mere one-fifth of the homeland, it was inevitably a failed strategy that served well the colonizer and disadvantaged the colonized.

    ‘It is hard to make out how a “rights-based” movement anchored in international law can credibly claim “no position” on the core right – based on one and the same international law – of the party with which it is in conflict – Norman

    BDS is very clear in its attitude towards Israel. It does now play with elusive notions such as what is meant by a ‘state’. Far more poignantly, it deals with Israel as a regime that violates all the basic rights of the Palestinians. Change the regime and you have both a state that does not stand in the way of Palestinians’ right to self-determination and, at the same time, by adhering to international law, you also cater for the rights of the Jews there. Not as people who have colonized, ethnically cleansed or committed genocide, but as equal citizens.

    To sum up, this strategy, based on human rights and nonviolence, offered by the people of Palestine, points rightly to the need for regime change as a precondition for the negotiations between the representatives of the settlers of Zion and the indigenous people of Palestine.

    The question was simple and, so far as I can tell, you put forth three responses.

    First, that BDS does not ‘play with elusive notions’ such as the meaning of ‘state’. In fact, many BDS members (yourself included) emphatically do not consider one state in Palestine an ‘elusive notion’.

    Second, that BDS ‘far more poignantly deals with Israel as a regime that violates all the basic rights of the Palestinians’. It is (or ought to be) a truism that Israel must cease its violation of basic Palestinian rights. But the question I posed was ‘how can BDS claim to be anchored in international law when it takes no position on basic Israeli rights?’

    ‘The nonviolent method of boycott, divestment and sanctions, when adopted as an official strategy by the PLO and Hamas, will offer a horizon and an alternative to a desperate armed struggle that leads nowhere – Ilan

    Third, you propose ‘regime change’. It’s odd for a person avowedly of the Left to use the locution ‘regime change’, although it’s also indicative of a truculent mentality among some members of the BDS movement. In any event, if by ‘regime change’ you want to convey that the current Israeli regime will likely not resolve the conflict based on international law, you are surely right. But that’s evidently not what you mean. You gesture to a future state that will ‘cater for the rights of the Jews there as equal citizens’.

    Wouldn’t it be more honest for you to drop the phoney pretences and contorted arguments, and just say that, notwithstanding international law, which calls for two States on the 1967 borders, you – and BDS – support one state?

    The need for a new approach is illustrated in the confused way you alternate between two concepts: the right to self-determination of Israelis and the right to self-determination of Jews. Both are impossible and illogical notions, and the only reason international law did not address them is because the Palestinians, who may do so now, never asked to examine it according to their own yardsticks; so we do not know what the international law verdict on it would be. The same will be true of international law’s rulings about the changing political landscape in Iraq and Syria.

    There are no Israelis who demand self-determination; there is only a Jewish community that demands an international recognition for a supremacist regime. The other notion, of self-determination for Jews, is not recognizable in international law. Religions do not demand self-determination.

    So here’s the deal. The more we respect the equal rights of all those living between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean, the less Jewish, Muslim or Christian the future political outfit would be, whatever you want to call it. There is no use in hiding a Zionist position behind the veil of international law.

    You purport that international law hasn’t to date rendered a verdict on Palestinian claims to self-determination and statehood. You’re apparently unaware of 65 years of UN deliberations, hundreds of UN resolutions, and the International Court of Justice 2004 advisory opinion. If international law hasn’t to date addressed Palestinian rights, then how can the BDS movement’s ‘rights-based’ platform be anchored (as it alleges) in international law? If it is unknown where international law stands on Palestinian claims, then how can it be known (as BDS alleges) that the West Bank and Gaza are ‘occupied’ territories and Palestinian refugees have a ‘right’ of return?

    There is a case for some general observations here. BDS is a cult. It has its guru (in Ramallah) and its mantras (‘BDS’, ‘One State, from the River to the Sea’). It functions in a hermetically sealed mental universe. Those who point to its political incoherence and flights of fantasy are routinely accused of being – God forbid! – Zionist. Like other political cults, it substitutes epithets and excommunication for rational argument.

    During the 1960s, white radicals derived a masochistic pleasure from self-abasing, demeaning and degrading protestations of guilt. Beating their chests, they histrionically renounced ‘white-skin privilege’. The more they grovelled before the ‘Black vanguard of the Revolution,’ the more radical they fancied themselves to be. As it happened, they ended up doing a lot of stupid things while the ‘Black vanguard’, although publicly heaping praise on their ‘solidarity with the Oppressed’, properly harboured contempt for these pathetic flunkies who lacked personal dignity, the essential prerequisite of which is preserving one’s independence of thought. Replace a few phrases – such as ‘Jewish privilege’ instead of ‘white-skin privilege’ – and you gain insight into the mindset of some Jewish supporters of BDS.

    It’s the pity’s pity that, although passing through that lamentable phase of the 1960s, they learned nothing from it and, although by now fully formed adults, they still can’t resist these juvenile antics.

    Sunday, 5 October 2014

    Eid in Gaza - Ezz Al Zanoon

    luces errantes - Ismael Serrano en Gaza

    Gute Reise! Bon Voyage!

    Tuesday, 30 September 2014

    Defence for Children International Palestine

    Child Protection 

    DCI-Palestine seeks to instill changes in governmental, institutional and community policies and practices towards children at the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) level. To this end, DCI implements the following activities:
    Legal representation - One of the key objectives of DCI is to ensure that the P.A.’s justice system conforms to all relevant international juvenile justice standards. The organisation provides legal representation to children in conflict with the law before Palestinian courts, and monitors juvenile detention centres, police stations and prisons where children are held in custody.
    Influencing child-related legislation - DCI participates in technical committees responsible for drafting laws related to child rights, such as the draft Juvenile Justice Law.
    Capacity-building - DCI provides training to the Palestinian police, lawyers, judges and community based organisations working with children, in accordance with international juvenile justice standards.
    Networking - DCI is a member of the Child Protection Network (CPN), comprised of organisations working with child victims of violence, abuse and/or neglect across the West Bank. DCI is also a founding member of the Palestinian Network for Children’s Rights (PNCR), which implements advocacy initiatives to promote child rights in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
    Following the Oslo Accords in 1993, agreements were signed between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) establishing the P.A.. These agreements transferred a number of powers and responsibilities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the P.A., whilst Israel remained ultimately responsible as the occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention. The agreements divided the West Bank into three zones, referred to as Areas A, B and C. Currently, the P.A. bears full civil and security responsibility in Area A, but shares security responsibilities with Israel in Areas B. In Area C, Israel retains full civil and security authority, including law enforcement.
    Legal framework
    Laws continue to remain in force in the West Bank and Gaza Strip dating back to the Ottoman Period, the British Mandate and the period when the territories were under the respective administrations of Jordan and Egypt. Overlaid on this legislative mix are over 1,700 Israeli military orders issued since June 1967 which are enforced in Israeli military courts in the West Bank, as well as laws passed by the P.A. since the first Palestinian Legislative Council elections in 1996. Some of these laws apply to both the West Bank and Gaza Strip, whilst others only apply in one of these areas or the other, depending on subsequent legislation and historical circumstances.
    Areas of concern
    As part of its monitoring programme, DCI collects sworn testimonies from children in conflict with the law to help identify areas of concern within the system. In addition to collecting testimonies, DCI regularly meets with relevant duty bearers and experts in the field of juvenile justice in order to identify weaknesses in the system, and to develop practical solutions. Some key areas of concern identified by DCI include the following:
    Juvenile courts: Under the P.A. juvenile justice system, there is an absence of specialised juvenile courts, staffed by appropriately trained professionals.
    Statistics: There is an absence of unified statistics relating to children in conflict with the law which hinders the ability to obtain a comprehensive and clear picture of the operation of the juvenile justice system. This in turn makes it difficult to ascertain the scale of some problems.
    Legislative reform: The P.A. juvenile justice system is still significantly influenced by legislation dating back to the British Mandate and Jordanian administrations. Efforts have been made to consolidate and modernise the law in line with international norms and standards, but further work is still required.
    Ill-treatment: There is evidence that in some cases children encounter some form of ill-treatment following their arrest. Testimonial evidence suggests that law enforcement officials use a combination of physical violence, threats and verbal abuse during questioning, transfer and detention, leading many children to provide confessions. In some cases, this treatment may amount to torture.

    Growing up between Israeli settlements and soldiers

    Monday, 29 September 2014

    Russell Tribunal on Palestine, Brussels, September 2014 Full Findings

    Extraordinary Session on Gaza: Summary of findings
    Brussels, 25 September 2014
    May this tribunal prevent the crime of silence.
    Bertrand Russell, London, 13 November 1966
    1. When images of the death, destruction and desperation inflicted on Palestinian citizens of Gaza were broadcast in July and August of 2014, people all over the world were struck with a visceral sense of indignation, anger and disgust. For too long, crimes and serious human rights violations have been committed against the Palestinian people by the occupying Israeli authorities with complete impunity. The occupation, blockade and siege imposed on the territory of Gaza amount to a regime of collective punishment, but the most recent conflict represents a clear intensification of the campaign to collectively punish and terrorise the civilian population. Not only was ‘Operation Protective Edge’ the third major military assault on Gaza in six years, but it was marked by a significant escalation in the scale, severity and duration of the attack. It was Israel’s heaviest assault on the Gaza Strip since the beginning of its occupation of the Palestinian territories in 1967. Given this cyclical and devastating pattern of violence and the likelihood of its continuation, the members of the Tribunal were conscious of the need to give a voice to the people of Gaza and to express the overwhelming need for urgent action. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine hopes to act as a voice of conscience and to contribute some measure of accountability for these appalling and inhumane acts.
    2. Over the course of the 50-day conflict, some 700 tons of ordinance were deployed by the Israeli military forces in the context of a sustained aerial bombardment and ground offensive. This approximate figure equates to the dropping of two tons of ordinance per square kilometre of the Gaza Strip. These actions resulted in: the deaths of 2,188 Palestinians, at least 1,658 of whom were civilians; 11,231 civilians injured; damage to 18,000 housing units (13% of all available housing stock in Gaza was completely or partially destroyed); the internal displacement of some 110,000 civilians; the complete destruction of eight medical facilities and damage to many others, such that 17 out of 32 hospitals were damaged and six closed down as a result; massive destruction of water facilities leaving some 450,000 civilians unable to access municipal water supplies; the destruction of Gaza’s only power plant facility rendering the entire Gaza Strip without electricity for approximately 20 hours per day, thereby having a profound impact on water treatment, food supply and the capacity of medical facilities to treat the wounded and displaced; numerous attacks on and destruction of UN sponsored and controlled infrastructure, including three UNRWA schools which were being used as temporary centres of refuge; the total destruction of some 128 business and approximately US$550 million worth of damage caused to agricultural land and livestock; attacks on cultural and religious property; and finally, the conflict has left some 373,000 children in need of direct and specialised psychosocial support. The attack was widespread and systematic to the extent that the Palestinian Authority estimates that it will require US$7.8 billion to repair the damage caused to civilian and state infrastructure.
    3. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) is an international citizen-based Tribunal of conscience, created in response to the demands of civil society (non-governmental organisations, unions, charities, faith-based organisations) to educate public opinion and exert pressure on decision-makers. The RToP is imbued with the same spirit and espouses the same rigorous rules as those inherited from the Tribunal on Vietnam (1966-1967), established by the eminent scholar and philosopher Bertrand Russell. The Tribunal operates as a court of the people, with public international law (including international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and international criminal law) constitutes the frame of reference of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.
    4. Following Israel’s military operations in the Gaza Strip in July-August 2014, a decision was taken to urgently reconvene the RToP for a extraordinary session to examine the nature of potential international crimes committed in Gaza. During the course of this extraordinary session the RToP has received testimony from some sixteen individual witnesses providing eyewitness and expert opinion on a range of issues of direct relevance to the events in Gaza in the summer of 2014. The members of the Tribunal jury were moved and deeply disturbed by the harrowing evidence provided by the witnesses. Following the hearings and the deliberations of the jury on 24 September 2014, the findings of the extraordinary session of Russell Tribunal on Palestine are summarised as follows.
    The Use of Force
    5. Israel is the occupying power in the Gaza Strip. As the occupier, Israel cannot be considered to be acting in self-defence under the rules of public international law in its resort to the use of force in Gaza. Israel did not respond to an armed attack by the military forces of another state; rather it acted as an occupying power using force to effect its control of the occupied territory and its domination over the occupied population. Under international law, people living under colonial rule or foreign occupation are entitled to resist occupation. Israel’s actions are those of an occupying power using force to maintain its occupation and to suppress resistance, rather than a state resorting to force in lawful self-defence. The ongoing occupation of Palestinian territories and the permanent blockade of Gaza are themselves acts of aggression as defined by the UN General Assembly in Resolution 3314 (1974) (Art. 3, a and c); the Tribunal notes that an aggressor cannot claim self-defence against the resistance to its aggression. Operation Protective Edge was part of the enforcement of the occupation and ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip. This siege amounts to collective punishment in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
    War Crimes
    6. The evidence provided by the witnesses who appeared before the RToP covers only a tiny fraction of the incidents that occurred during Operation Protective Edge. Their testimony, however, coupled with the extensive documentation of Israel’s attacks in the public realm, leads inescapably to the conclusion that the Israeli military has committed war crimes in the process. Israel forces have violated the two cardinal principles of international humanitarian law – the need to distinguish clearly between civilian targets and military targets; and the need for the use of military violence to be proportionate to the aims of the operation. It has done so through the scale of its bombardment of Gaza and its shelling of civilian areas, including hospitals, schools and mosques. An estimated 700 tons of munitions were employed by the Israeli military during the operation, in contrast to 50 tons during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09. Civilians in Gaza have been terrorised by this bombardment, as well as denied the right to flee the territory to seek protection and assistance as refugees from war in breach of the right to leave one’s country pursuant to article 13 (2) of the UN Declaration on Human Rights.
    7. Evidence heard by the Tribunal suggests that war crimes committed by Israeli forces include (but are not limited to) the crimes of:
    wilful killing (including summary executions by ground troops and killings of civilians by snipers around houses occupied by Israeli forces inside Gaza);
    extensive destruction of property, not justified by military necessity (including the destruction of essential services, in particular Gaza’s only functioning power plant and the apparently systematic targeting of the water and sewage infrastructure);
    intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population and civilians objects (including extensive and wanton artillery shelling and aerial bombardment of densely populated civilian areas);
    intentionally launching attacks in the knowledge that such attacks would cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects or widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated even when rockets have been launched by Hamas from civilian locations (i.e. the use of disproportionate force, explicitly stated and implemented by the Israeli military in the form of its ‘Dahiya doctrine’, which involves a policy of deliberately using disproportionate force to punish the civilian population collectively for the acts of resistance groups or political leaders);
    intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion or education (including repeatedly and knowingly targeting UN schools operating as places of refuge for civilians);
    intentionally directing attacks against hospitals, medical units and personnel (including the direct shelling of hospitals resulting in the killing and forced evacuation of wounded civilians, as well as apparent patterns of the targeting of visibly marked medical units and ambulance workers performing their duties);
    utilising the presence of a civilian or other protected person to render certain points, areas or military forces immune from military operations (i.e. the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields);
    employing weapons, projectiles and material and methods of warfare which are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering or which are inherently indiscriminate (including flechette shells, DIME weapons, thermobaric munitions (‘carpet’ bombs), and munitions containing depleted uranium);
    the use of violence to spread terror among the civilian population in violation of the laws and customs of war (including the employment of a ‘knock on the roof’ policy whereby small bombs are dropped on Palestinian homes as a warning signal in advance of larger bombardments to follow).
    8. Allegations of the targeting of civilians and the use of indiscriminate weapons by the Palestinian resistance during Operation Protective Edge have been clearly stated in the public realm by the Israeli authorities. The information available to the Tribunal is that 66 Israeli soldiers and 7 civilians in Israel were killed by Palestinian armed groups during Operation Protective Edge, with 469 soldiers and 837 civilians wounded. There is also, however, contradictory information and unclear statistics from official Israeli sources regarding Palestinian rockets, and Israel’s military censor has a gag order in effect, making it extremely difficult to identify where the rockets fell without cooperation from the authorities. The Israeli authorities did not accept the invitation to appear before the Tribunal to state their case. This notwithstanding, the RToP emphasises as a matter of principle that any armed group that directs its firepower at a civilian population thereby violates the laws of war. Where such firing results in the deaths of civilians, war crimes will have potentially been committed by those responsible. Firing weapons which are incapable of making the distinction between military and civilian target is itself criminal.
    Crimes against Humanity
    The Contextual Elements of Crimes Against Humanity
    9. For an apparently ‘ordinary’ domestic criminal act to reach the threshold of a crime against humanity, there are certain contextual legal elements that must be satisfied. There must be a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population, and the acts of the perpetrator must form part of that attack and be committed with knowledge of the wider context of the attack. Under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, there is an additional legal element to be proven, which is the existence of a State or organisational policy to commit such an attack. Article 7 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court lists several specific crimes against humanity: murder; extermination; enslavement; deportation or forcible transfer of population; imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty; torture; rape and sexual violence; persecution; enforced disappearance; apartheid; and other inhumane acts. While the Tribunal is confident that findings could be reached under each of these respective headings, given the specific focus of this extraordinary session and the resources available, the RToP limits itself to findings with respect to: (i) murder; (ii) extermination; and (iii) persecution.
    10. The preponderance of the evidence received by the RToP clearly establishes that an attack against a civilian population has taken place. The sheer scale of civilian deaths, injuries, and the destruction of civilian housing, provide a clear indication that a prima facie case can be established that Operation Protective Edge was overwhelmingly directed at the civilian population of Gaza.
    11. In light of the testimony received and summarised above regarding the extent of the loss of life and destruction of property caused by Israel, considered alongside the data compiled by the various offices of the UN and human rights organisations on the ground, the Tribunal finds that there is compelling evidence establishing a strongprima facie case that the attack against the civilian population of Gaza was widespread and systematic.
    12. In relation to the policy requirement, the Tribunal has heard testimony pertaining specifically to three policy directives of the Israeli military – namely, the Dahiya Doctrine (which involves the deliberate use of disproportionate force to collectively punish the civilian population for the acts of resistance groups or political leaders), the Hannibal Directive (the destruction of an entire area for the purpose of preventing the capture of Israeli soldiers) and the Red Line policy (which involves the creation of a ‘kill zone’ beyond an arbitrary and invisible ‘red line’ around houses occupied by Israeli forces). Each of these policies deliberately and flagrantly disregard protections afforded to civilians and civilian property under international humanitarian law, and fundamentally involves indiscriminate violence against the civilian population of Gaza. As such their implementation amounts to a prima facie case of a specific policy on the part of the Government of Israel and the Israeli occupying forces to target civilian areas with disregard for civilian life. The Tribunal finds that there is a compelling case to be made that the contextual elements of crimes against humanity, as outlined above, are satisfied for the purposes of Article 7 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court; specifically with respect to the selected crimes of (i) murder; (ii) extermination; and (iii) persecution.
    13. The crime against humanity of murder requires that the perpetrator kills (or caused the death) of one or more persons. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has defined murder as the ‘unlawful, intentional killing of a human being’. The RToP finds that a strong prima facie case can be made that a significant proportion of the Palestinian civilian fatalities during Operation Protective Edge were the result of deliberate, unlawful and intentional killings. The RToP has heard testimony relating to a number of individual incidents, such as the deliberate execution of Salem Khalil Shammaly for crossing an imaginary red line while searching for family members in Shuja’iyya and the deeply disturbing circumstances of the killing of 64 year-old Mohammed Tawfiq Qudeh in his own home. The RToP finds that their deaths are prima facie examples of the crime against humanity of murder, in addition to the war crime of wilful killing.
    14. Under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, the crime of extermination includes both mass killings and the intentional infliction of conditions of life (including depriving access to food, water or medical treatment) calculated to bring about the destruction of part of a population. There is therefore a degree of common ground between the crime against humanity of extermination and the crime of genocide. However, while the crime of extermination frequently involves a large number of victims, it differs from genocide in that it does not require that the victim(s) be part of a protected group, or that the perpetrator had the specific intent to bring about the destruction of the group in whole or in part.
    15. During the course of this extraordinary session, the RToP has received detailed and wide-ranging testimony with respect to attacks on civilian populations and protected civilian property which directly resulted in the mass fatalities. In particular, the Tribunal has received detailed testimony relating to attacks on medical facilities and personnel. The deliberate and indiscriminate targeting of medical infrastructure contributed substantially to the loss of civilian life. Additional deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on civilian infrastructure such as the Gazan power plant also contributed to the increase in the death toll. Coupled with the denial of a humanitarian corridor, the sealing of the Erez and Rafah crossings and the targeting of UNRWA infrastructure, this contributed to the infliction of conditions of life calculated to bring about the destruction of part of the population of Gaza.
    16. The crime against humanity of persecution involves the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental human rights against members of a group or collectivity. The group must be targeted for a discriminatory purpose, such as on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, gender or religious grounds. This element of discriminatory intent makes the crime of persecution somewhat similar to the crime of genocide, although crucially persecution does not require the establishment of a specific intent to destroy the group in whole or in part. The RToP determines that persecutory acts may be considered under the following three categories of conduct:
    Discriminatory acts causing physical or mental harm;
    Discriminatory infringements on freedom;
    Offences against property for discriminatory purposes.
    17. In line with the findings adopted in previous sessions of the RToP and the continuing escalation of violence against the Palestinian people, the Tribunal finds that the actions and policies of the Government of Israel and the Israeli military are inherently discriminatory against the Palestinian people. The Tribunal determines that in its actions and policies the Government of Israel and Israeli military discriminate against the Palestinian people, and in this instance specifically the people of Gaza, on the basis of, inter alia, political affiliation, nationality, ethnicity, religion, culture and gender. The Tribunal finds grounds to believe that a host of additional crimes and violations of fundamental human rights have been and continue to be committed on discriminatory grounds against the Palestinian people and the population of Gaza. In this respect the Tribunal notes the following non-exhaustive list of violations: murder; torture (including the case of 16 year old Ahmad Abu Raida, who was abducted by the Israeli military, whipped with a wire and threatened with sexual assault while under interrogation, and forced to act as a human shield for the Israelis); sexual violence (such as Khalil Al-Najjar, the imam in Khuza’a who was forced to strip naked in public); physical violence not constituting torture; cruel and inhumane treatment or subjection to inhumane conditions; constant humiliation and degradation; terrorising the civilian population (including examples of Gazan citizens being instructed by the Israeli military to remain in their homes and then being subjected to bombardment); unlawful arrest and detention; imprisonment or confinement; restrictions on freedom of movement (including the denial of a humanitarian corridor or ability to leave the territory of Gaza); and the confiscation or destruction of private dwellings, businesses, religious buildings, cultural or symbolic buildings or means of subsistence.
    18. The international crime of genocide relates to any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
    Killing members of the group;
    Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
    Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
    Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
    Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
    19. Direct and public incitement to genocide is also an international crime, irrespective of whether anyone acts as a result of the incitement.
    20. It is clear that the Palestinians constitute a national group under the definition of genocide. It has been established that Israeli military activities considered under the heads of war crimes and crimes against humanity meet the acts set forth in sub-paragraphs (a) to (c) above.
    21. The crime of genocide is closely related to crimes against humanity. Where persecution as a crime against humanity aims to protect specific groups from discrimination, the criminalisation of genocide aims to protect such groups (national, racial, ethnic, religious) from elimination. The sometimes fine distinction between the two crimes, characterised by the ‘intent to destroy’ element, was explained by the judges at the Yugoslavia Tribunal: ‘When persecution escalates to the extreme form of wilful and deliberate acts designed to destroy a group or part of a group, it can be held that such persecution amounts to genocide.’
    22. Israel’s policies and practices in Palestine have for decades aimed at ensuring that Palestinians submit to Israeli domination. This has been effected through settler colonial policies based on the displacement and dispossession of Palestinians since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. This process continues today through the settlement of the West Bank and imposition of a regime of apartheid and segregation, the siege of Gaza and the prolonged collective punishment of its people, as well as the criminal conduct of repeated military operations and systemic violations of Palestinian human rights designed to ensure that Palestinians forfeit their right to self-determination and continue to leave their country.
    23. Throughout that period, Israel’s occupation policies appeared to be aimed at the control and subjugation of the Palestinian people, rather than their physical destruction as such. Recent years have seen an upsurge in vigilante style ‘price tag’ attacks on Palestinian people, homes, and religious sites in the West Bank and Israel. Characterised by racist threats against Palestinians, such rhetoric escalated rapidly and across all forms of media and public discourse in Israel during the summer of 2014. The scale and intensity of Operation Protective Edge indicates an unprecedented escalation of violence against the Palestinian people. For this reason, the RToP is compelled to now, for the first time, give serious examination to Israeli policy in light of the prohibition of genocide in international law.
    24. The Tribunal has received evidence demonstrating a vitriolic upswing in racist rhetoric and incitement during the summer of 2014. The evidence shows that such incitement manifested across many levels of Israeli society, on both social and traditional media, from football fans, police officers, media commentators, religious leaders, legislators, and government ministers. This can be understood in varying degrees as incitement to racism, hatred, and violence. The evidence shows that the speech and language used in the summer of 2014 did, on occasion, reach the threshold where it can only be understood as constituting direct and public incitement to genocide.
    25. Some of this incitement, in a manner similar to genocidal situations elsewhere, is characterised not only by explicit calls for violence against the target group, but in the employment of sexualised (rape), gendered, and dehumanising memes, motifs, and prejudices. The RToP heard evidence of multiple examples of such incitement. One notable instance being Israeli legislator Ayelet Shaked’s widely reported publication in July 2014 defining ‘the entire Palestinian people [as] the enemy’, arguing for the destruction of ‘its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure’, and stating that the ‘mothers of terrorists’ should be destroyed, ‘as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes.’
    26. The RToP notes that the legal definition of genocide demands proof of a specific intent on the part of the perpetrator not simply to target people belonging to a protected group, but to target them with the intention of destroying the group. It would be for a criminal court to determine whether such specific intent is present in a given situation, on the basis of scrutiny of the relevant evidence for the purposes of prosecution of such crimes. The RToP notes that alternative, broader understandings of genocide beyond that defined for the purposes of individual criminal responsibility have also been suggested as applying to the situation in Gaza. The cumulative effect of the long-standing regime of collective punishment in Gaza appears to inflict conditions of life calculated to bring about the incremental destruction of the Palestinians as a group in Gaza. This process has been exacerbated by the scale of the violence in the Operation Protective Edge, the continuation of the siege of Gaza and the denial of the capacity to rebuild. The Tribunal emphasises the potential for a regime of persecution, such as that demonstrated in section III above, to become genocidal in effect, In light of the clear escalation in the physical and rhetorical violence deployed in respect of Gaza in the summer of 2014, the RToP emphasises the obligation of all state parties to the 1948 Genocide Convention ‘to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide.’
    27. The prohibition of genocide – and of direct and public incitement to genocide – constitutes a jus cogens (non-derogable) norm of international law. According to the 1948 Genocide Convention, individuals who attempt or who incite to genocide ‘shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals’. It is thus incumbent on all states to take the appropriate action in line with their legal obligations to investigate and prosecute those responsible for such crimes. It is further incumbent on all states to ensure that the state of Israel does not, through the persons of its military and government ‘engage in conspiracy, incitement, attempt and complicity in genocide’.
    28. The evidence received by the Tribunal demonstrates that the state of Israel is failing to respect its obligations to prevent and to punish the crime of direct and public incitement to genocide. This is in keeping with the warning issued by the Special Advisers of the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, and on the Responsibility to Protect, in July 2014, in response to Israel’s actions in Palestine: ‘We   are   equally   disturbed   by   the   flagrant   use   of   hate   speech   in   the   social   media,  particularly   against  the  Palestinian  population’. The Special Advisers noted that individual Israelis had disseminated messages that could be dehumanising to the Palestinians and had called for the killing of members of this group. The Advisers reasserted that incitement to commit atrocity crimes is prohibited under international law.
    29. Previous sessions of the RToP have established that the Israeli state is implementing an apartheid system based on the dominance of Israeli Jews over Palestinians. Beyond the prolonged siege and collective punishment of the Palestinians of Gaza, the ongoing settlement project in the West Bank, and the now regular massive military assaults on the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, one must add the increase in aggravated racist hate speech. It is recognised that in a situation where patterns of crimes against humanity are perpetrated with impunity, and where direct and public incitement to genocide is manifest throughout society, it is very conceivable that individuals or the state may choose to exploit these conditions in order to perpetrate the crime of genocide. Alert to the increase in anti-Palestinian speech which constitutes the international crime of direct and public incitement to genocide, and the failure of the Israeli state to fulfil its obligations to prevent and punish incitement to genocide, the RToP is at this time compelled to place the international community on notice as to the risk of the crime of genocide being perpetrated. The jury has listened to alarming evidence over the course of this extraordinary session; we have a genuine fear that in an environment of impunity and an absence of sanction for serious and repeated criminality, the lessons from Rwanda and other mass atrocities may once again go unheeded.
    V. Consequences & Action
    30. In view of the above findings, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine calls on the state of Israel to immediately:
    end the occupation and respect the Palestinian right to self-determination;
    fully respect its obligations under international law;
    provide full reparations to the victims of human rights violations;
    release all political prisoners;
    genuinely investigate and prosecute any individual suspected of being responsible for international crimes;
    act to prevent and punish any acts in violation of the Convention Against Genocide.
    31. To Israel and Egypt:
    Immediately lift the siege and blockade of Gaza and permit the unhindered reconstruction of the Gaza Strip as well as permitting unhindered access to media, humanitarian, and human rights organisations.
    32. To the European Union:
    In line with EU policy on restrictive measures, to pursue the objectives of preserving peace, strengthening international security, developing and consolidating democracy and the rule of law, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, to adopt restrictive measures against Israel, and specifically:
    to suspend the EU-Israel association agreement;
    to suspend the EU-Israel scientific cooperation agreement and to immediately cease cooperation with Israeli military companies;
    to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel, including prohibitions on the sale, supply, transfer or export of arms and related materiel of all types; and the prohibition on the provision of financing and technical assistance, brokering services and other services related to military activities;
    to suspend the import of all military equipment from Israel;
    to actively encourage Israel and Palestine to immediately ratify the Rome Statute in line with EU policy on the International Criminal Court;
    to claim reimbursement for damages to EU and/or member state funded infrastructure destroyed by the Israeli military;
    All EU member states to recognise the state of Palestine;
    To advocate and act for the implementation of the International Court of Justice recommendations in its 2004 Advisory Opinion on the legality of the Wall.
    33. To UN member states:
    All states to cooperate to bring to an end the illegal situation arising from Israel’s occupation, siege and crimes in the Gaza Strip. In light of the obligation not to render aid or assistance, all states must consider appropriate measures to exert sufficient pressure on Israel, including the imposition of sanctions, the severing of diplomatic relations collectively through international organisations, or in the absence of consensus, individually by breaking bilateral relations with Israel;
    The UN General Assembly to call for a full arms embargo against the state of Israel;
    All states to fulfil their duty ‘to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide’ and “to ensure respect” of the 4 Geneva Conventions (GC, Common Art. 1);
    The United States and member states of the European Union to cease exercising pressuring on the Palestinian authorities to refrain from engaging the mechanisms of international justice;
    All parties to cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry and to ensure that the Commission is granted full access to Israel and Gaza for the purposes of its investigations;
    UN Human rights mechanisms to investigate the violations of the fundamental freedoms and rights of journalists, media workers, and medical personnel;
    Donor states to undertake a full reconfiguration of the international aid regime in Palestine, such that it ceases to underwrite Israeli occupation and destruction;
    All States to support full realisation of Palestinian self-determination including full Palestinian membership of the UN;
    In light of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, all states to ensure that in light of the continued denial of Palestinian human rights steps are taken to prevent further atrocities.
    34. To the Palestine authorities:
    The state of Palestine to accede without further delay to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court;
    Fully cooperate with the human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry;
    Fully engage the mechanisms of international justice.
    35. To Global Civil Society:
    To fully support, develop, and expand the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement;
    To support activism aimed at denying Israeli firms and organisations supporting or profiting from the occupation access to international markets;
    To show solidarity with activists taking action to shut down firms aiding and abetting the commission of crimes against Palestinians such as Elbit Systems in the UK;
    To actively lobby and pressure governments to take immediate action to ensure they are not contributing to Israeli crimes and to ensure they are acting in line with the edicts and principles of international law.

    I wish for you all, each of you, to have your own motive for indignation. This is precious. When something outrages you, then you become militant, strong, and involved.
    Stéphane Hessel