USC Students for Justice in Palestine

history, analysis, news, and event updates on the struggle for justice in palestine

Archive for July, 2008

Hamas-Fatah tensions bring increased rights violations

Posted by uscsjp on July 31, 2008

Photo: Palestinian security officers loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas arrest a supporter of the Islamic LIberation Party during a demonstration in the West Bank city of Hebron, 29 July 2008.(Mamoun Wazwaz/MaanImages)

“The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is gravely concerned over the continuous deterioration in the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory caused by Palestinian security services in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including attacks against civil society organizations, political arrests campaigns and attacks against journalists. PCHR calls upon the two Palestinian governments in Gaza and Ramallah to stop such human rights violations and to ensure respect for the Basic Law and international human rights standards.

Security services of the government in Gaza have continued their attacks against civil institutions belonging to Fatah movement in the Gaza Strip. The latest of such attacks was on Tuesday 29 July 2008, as security services ordered the closure of Rafah Service Club in Rafah for the second time in two days, and Sharek Youth Forum in Gaza City…”

Electronic Intifada citing the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, July 30, 2008

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9725.shtml

Also, see the 24th through 29th of July weekly report from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, which states that during the reporting period, Israeli forces killed 2 Palestinians, including a child, and wounded 17 civilians, including 2 children, in the West Bank…

http://pchrgaza.ps/files/W_report/English/2008/30-07-2008.htm


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The government’s war against Sami Al-Arian: An Interview with Laila Al Arian

Posted by uscsjp on July 30, 2008

Photo: Socialist Worker

“Dr. Sami Al-Arian, one of the earliest victims of the ‘war on terror’ within the U.S. itself, continues to languish in jail, where he has been since his February 2003 arrest for the ‘crime’ of speaking out on behalf of the Palestinian struggle against Israel’s apartheid.

Al-Arian’s daughter, Laila Al-Arian, is the author, with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges, of Collateral Damage: America’s War Against Iraqi Civilians. A graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism, she recently joined Al-Jazeera English as a producer.

Nancy Welch spoke with Laila on her recent visit to Burlington, Vt., where she sought a meeting with Sen. Patrick Leahy, a leading Democrat and chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. So far, Leahy has refused to investigate the circumstances and conditions under which Dr. Al-Arian is being held.

IN 2006, after a Florida jury refused to return a guilty verdict on any of the charges that the Bush Justice department had brought against him, your father signed a plea agreement with federal prosecutors to secure his release from prison. Why wasn’t your father released and deported as agreed? What’s happened since?

MY FATHER signed a plea agreement, and we thought that was that, and he would be released just a few months later. Then, this federal prosecutor, Gordon Kromberg, tried to bring him to Virginia. Kromberg has been on a six- or seven-year witch-hunt against Muslim organizations in the Northern Virginia area…”

–Socialist Worker, July 30, 2008

http://socialistworker.org/2008/07/30/war-against-sami-al-arian

Also from Socialist Worker: Five Articles on the Strangulation of Gaza

http://socialistworker.org/featured/The-strangulation-of-Gaza

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Israeli Soldier Shoots HandCuffed Palestinian Detainee with Rubber Coated Steel Bullet

Posted by uscsjp on July 22, 2008

(Photo: AlJazeera)

“Yesterday (20 July), B’Tselem published footage it received of a soldier firing a rubber-coated steel bullet, from extremely short range, at a Palestinian detainee who was cuffed and blindfolded. The act occurred about two weeks ago in the presence of several security forces, among them the battalion commander, a lieutenant colonel, who held the Palestinian’s arm while the soldier fired…”

–B’Tselem, July 21, 2008

http://www.btselem.org/english/Firearms/20080721_Nilin_Shooting.asp

Watch the Video

Also, from Democracy Now,

“Palestinian Man Shot by Israel Speaks Out

Israel is continuing to come under criticism following the release of a video showing an Israel soldier shooting a Palestinian prisoner in handcuffs. The video was released to the news media by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. On Monday, the Palestinian man who was shot, Ashraf Abu Rahmeh, described what happened.

Ashraf Abu Rahmeh: ‘They handcuffed me and placed me under the sun for about three hours. Then they picked me up, walked me for a little bit and shot at me. I found myself on the ground. They told me, ‘We are going to fire a rubber bullet at you,’ and I did not imagine that this is how they were going to act: to open fire at me while I am handcuffed.’

Rahmeh was detained while protesting against Israel’s construction of a wall through the West Bank. Palestinian activist Abdallah Abu Rahmeh called on the World Court to investigate the shooting.

Abdallah Abu Rahmeh: ‘This policy should be condemned internationally through human rights organizations, and they should be punished via an international court and not an Israeli court. At the end of the day, they will be released. The officer, after a month or two or a short period, he is in prison in front of the media but not in reality.'”

–Democracy Now, July 22, 2008

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/7/22/headlines#10

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The Israel-Hizballah prisoner deal

Posted by uscsjp on July 22, 2008

A Palestinian woman holds a picture of Samir Kuntar, the Lebanese prisoner jailed in Israel for nearly 30 years, during a weekly protest at the International Red Cross building in Gaza City calling for the release of Palestinian and Arab prisoners, 14 July 2008. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages)

“The Israeli cabinet’s decision to strike a prisoner-exchange deal with the Hizballah movement in Lebanon — on the eve of the anniversary of the war between the two sides of 12 July-14 August 2006 — will not be remembered as one of Israel’s most glorious moments. Even its chief architect, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, has referred to the deal in terms of ‘sadness’ and ‘humiliation’ while it has been staunchly opposed by the heads of Israel’s internal-security agency (Shin Bet) and foreign-intelligence agency (Mossad), as well as by a number of Israeli politicians across the political spectrum. Indeed, the exchange of captives itself (or in the case of two Israeli soldiers whose seizure precipitated the 2006 war, their remains), which is planned to occur by 16-17 July 2008 at latest, can be described as a replay of what Israel’s own investigative commission into that war regarded as a historic defeat…”

Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, Electronic Lebanon, 16 July 2008

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9697.shtml

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Xinhua News Updates on Gaza Ceasefire and Blockade

Posted by uscsjp on July 14, 2008

Hamas: Israel disregards Gaza ceasefire commitments

“GAZA, July 14 (Xinhua) — Hamas on Monday accused Israel of disregarding its commitments made before Egypt in a Gaza ceasefire deal.

‘Israel did not implement any provision of the lull’s deal related to the lifting of the siege,’ said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoom.

‘The commercial crossings into Gaza did not open, the blockade is in place and the Zionist violations increase day by day,’ Barhoom added.

The Egyptian-brokered ceasefire took effect in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on June 19, which is designated to stop the violence between Palestinian militants and Israel and to lift the blockade that Israel imposed on Gaza since Hamas took over the territory last June…”

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-07/14/content_8544330.htm

Fatah: fragile Hamas-Israel ceasefire yields nothing

“GAZA, July 14 (Xinhua) — A leader of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement on Monday said a Hamas-Israel ceasefire in the Gaza Strip was fragile and that Gaza residents did not feel any tangible benefits.

‘The blockade is still in place, the crossings closed and the circumstances are still difficult,’ said Zakariya al-Agha, Fatah representative in the Gaza Strip…”

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-07/14/content_8544448.htm


Islamic Jihad criticizes Hamas for not coordinating over ceasefire

“GAZA, July 13 (Xinhua) — Islamic Jihad movement on Sunday criticized Islamic Hamas movement for not consulting with the Palestinian factions when Israel violated Gaza ceasefire.

Hamas and the Palestinian factions formed an operation room to discuss the responses to the Israeli violations of the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, but this room ‘was only a declaration and its members have never met and it is inactive,’ according to Daoud Shehab, the Islamic Jihad spokesman in Gaza.

Israel and Hamas agreed on a ceasefire that took hold in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on June 19. Hamas committed to the ceasefire but it took measures against Palestinian militants who violated the ceasefire. The Islamic Jihad was among those which fired rockets into Israel during the ceasefire.

Shehab said the lack of coordination was due to the political split between Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement…”

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-07/13/content_8539127.htm

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Petition to Protest Israeli Assault on Mohammed Omer

Posted by uscsjp on July 14, 2008

Washington Report correspondent Mohammed Omer lies in his hospital bed in the Gaza Strip June 30, 2008. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa (GAZA)

Washington Report correspondent Mohammed Omer lies in his hospital bed in the Gaza Strip June 30, 2008. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa (GAZA)

Please click on the link below, or visit the Washington Report website, www.wrmea.com, to sign a petition condemning Israel’s attacks on journalists, both Palestinian and international. Add your voice to Mohammed Omer’s on behalf of voiceless Gazans and all Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation—an occupation made possible by American tax dollars.

http://www.wrmea.com/action_alerts/070208_personal.html

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Updates on the Siege of Gaza and the Ceasefire

Posted by uscsjp on July 7, 2008

Palestinians line up for drinking water in front of a UN water station in the Gaza Strip, 3 July 2008. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages)

Palestinians line up for drinking water in front of a UN water station in the Gaza Strip, 3 July 2008. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages)

Gaza locked in despite truce

“CAIRO (IPS) – Despite a torrent of mutual recriminations, the fragile truce between Israel and Palestinian resistance faction Hamas survived into its third week. Israel, however, has been slow to fulfill its pledge — as laid down in an Egypt-brokered ceasefire agreement — to allow desperately-needed humanitarian supplies into the outdoor prison that is the Gaza Strip.
‘Repeated closures of the border crossings [by Israel] … are indicative of Israel’s lack of seriousness regarding the Egyptian ceasefire agreement,’ Ismail Haniyeh, head of Gaza’s ruling Hamas government, told reporters Friday on 4 July. ‘If the ceasefire is to survive, Israel must open the crossings [into the Gaza Strip] and lift its siege.’

According to Abdelaziz Shadi, head of the Israeli Studies Program at Cairo University, Israel is exploiting sporadic rocket attacks — real or imagined — to justify its continued stranglehold on the Hamas-ruled enclave.

‘Israel could easily determine the source of these rockets and punish the perpetrators,’ Shadi told IPS. ‘Instead, it prefers to collectively punish the strip’s entire population by depriving it of food, medicine and fuel.

The ongoing border closures confirm that, in regards to the Gaza Strip, Israel is still an occupying power — despite its so-called withdrawal from the territory in 2005,’ he added…”

Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, The Electronic Intifada, 7 July 2008

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9674.shtml

Unite to negotiate a real truce

“After nearly one year of a suffocating siege imposed on Gaza by the Israeli military establishment, a truce agreement was reached between Hamas and Israel. This followed months of dedicated Egyptian good offices. Rockets launched from Gaza against Israeli settlements were to stop in return for gradually lifting the blockade. A ceasefire sustained for six months would then roll over to the West Bank. A hostage Israeli soldier would be released in a separate deal involving exchange of Palestinian prisoners. Future negotiations would set the terms for opening the borders between Egypt and Gaza.

Hamas vowed to respect the agreement as did other Palestinian factions. In addition to Hamas, only Islamic Jihad is to be taken seriously. Fatah, the faction linked to President Abbas, has long and vehemently criticized rocket firing from Gaza.

Five days into the long awaited ceasefire, Israel allowed the entry of tissues and sanitary napkins into Gaza as a form of ‘good will.’ Simultaneously, it carried out an early morning raid against a student hostel in Nablus, killing two Palestinians in their beds.

Seeking to justify what seemed to many an obvious provocation, Israeli spin-doctors once again invoked the ‘ticking time bomb’ rationale. It was claimed that the men, both in their early 20s, were plotting a terrorist attack that had been prevented only at the last moment. Israel was instantly rewarded with the response it expected. Rockets landed in Sderot, the first two fired by Islamic Jihad and the third by the al-Aqsa brigades of Fatah, who denounced the truce with Israel as a form of treason, taunting Hamas for being more concerned with the survival of its cadre in Gaza than with the fate of fellow Palestinians in the West Bank…”

–Dr. Eyad al-Sarraj, The Electronic Intifada, 4 July 2008

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9672.shtml

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Democracy Now Interview: Palestinian Journalist Mohammed Omer

Posted by uscsjp on July 7, 2008

“AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to award-winning Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer. The twenty-four-year-old journalist and photographer from Gaza was physically and psychologically abused by Israeli security officials late last month. He is a correspondent for the Inter Press Service, was on his way back home after receiving the prestigious Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in London.

Mohammed Omer says he was interrogated, strip-searched and beaten by eight armed Shin Bet officials. He was hospitalized for a week after the ordeal. The Shin Bet security service issued a response, saying Omer ‘received decent treatment and no extraordinary measures were taken against him.’

At twenty-four, Omer has seen most of his family killed or wounded. He is the youngest winner of the Martha Gellhorn award, named after the famous US war correspondent, given to journalists who expose establishment propaganda. His award citation reads, ‘Every day, he reports from a war zone, where he is also a prisoner. His homeland, Gaza, is surrounded, starved, attacked, forgotten. He is a profoundly humane witness to one of the great injustices of our time. He is the voice of the voiceless.’

Mohammed Omer joins me right now on the phone from Gaza. Welcome to Democracy Now!…”

–Democracy Now, July 7, 2008

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/7/7/award_winning_palestinian_journalist_mohammed_omer

Also, John Pilger’s editorial on Mohammed Omer’s recent brutal detainment by Shin Bet:

http://www.johnpilger.com/page.asp?partid=495

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The Latest on the Sami Al Arian Case

Posted by uscsjp on July 7, 2008

“WASHINGTON, Jul 2 (IPS) — Palestinian activist and former university professor Sami Al-Arian was arraigned Monday in U.S. federal court on two counts of criminal contempt for his refusal to testify in a grand jury investigation of a Northern Virginia Muslim think-tank.

The indictment is the latest episode of a long, Kafka-esque process that has violated nearly every tenet of Al-Arian’s plea agreement following the end of his first trial in 2005, and kept Al-Arian in prison for over five years.

‘The government has made a complete mockery of the plea agreement,’ Al-Arian’s attorney, Jonathon Turley, told IPS. ‘Dr. Al-Arian has received zero benefit from his plea agreement.’

Supporters of Al-Arian cited the charges as an attempt by an overzealous Justice Department prosecutor to keep Al-Arian behind bars indefinitely despite an inability to secure a jury conviction. There is no maximum penalty for criminal contempt.

‘The whole case against him is a vindictive act by sore losers that lost the Florida case badly because there was no evidence,’ Al-Arian’s daughter, Laila, told IPS. ‘So they’re manufacturing crimes to keep him in prison as long as possible. It’s almost as if the whole plea agreement was just a way to buy time.’

The indictment said that Al-Arian had refused to testify in violation of a court order. But Al-Arian’s defense holds that his subpoena was out of line with his original agreement, which included an express promise that Al-Arian did not have to cooperate further with the government.

On Monday, Al-Arian was moved from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) jail to the Alexandria courthouse where he was arraigned. He had been in ICE custody for over three months awaiting an expedited deportation as part of the 2005 plea.

In ICE prisons, which have been the target of frequent criticism for their harsh conditions, Al-Arian was only allowed one visitor per month. When arraigned on Monday, Al-Arian and his defense did not enter a plea because they had not had the chance to discuss the charges yet, Turley wrote on his blog. The court entered a not guilty plea…”

–Ali Gharib, IPS News

Posted on July 3, 2008, Printed on July 7, 2008

http://www.alternet.org/story/90408/

or http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9670.shtml

More analysis and background:

http://www.democracynow.org/features/sami_al_arian

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