Beginning Thursday, Feb. 7, Israel will reduce supplies of electricity it sells to Gaza, as part of punitive measures taken against Gaza's civilian population, with the approval of Israel's Supreme Court. The cutbacks to electricity were permitted after Israel's Supreme Court last week rejected a petition by ten Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations challenging Israel's planned reductions to the supplies of electricity and fuel it allows Gaza residents to purchase.
How many times can one use the words "crisis" or "disaster" before they lose their meaning?
Numerous partners of Grassroots International work daily to secure basic social and economic rights for Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories. Much of this work includes raising awareness of the appalling living conditions of ordinary Palestinians.
Today marks the 59th anniversary of the International Human Rights day. It is the day the UN declared the issuance of the "International Declarations of Human Rights" to put new international foundations for enforcing and respecting the sacred life and dignity of human beings. It might be a co-incidence for the birth of this declaration with the anniversary of the Palestinian uprooting in 1948, still experienced by Palestinians up until today.
People are dying in Gaza. Patients die in their hospital beds because they are denied permits to access life-saving treatments abroad. Patients with such permits die at the Erez crossing because the Israeli military denies them exit, despite their permits.
These are all avoidable deaths. These are patients diagnosed with a critical condition, seeking life–saving treatment. This is tantamount to murder. Premeditated murder. More than 29 Palestinians have already died in this manner so far. A further 900 are still waiting to permits to leave the Strip.
It is hard not to be skeptical about Annapolis. As author and activist Alice Rothchild noted in a recent article, "Perhaps a more honest name for the current madness is not the realization of the Road Map, but rather the steady creation of Road Blocks that are rapidly crushing the hopes for a viable two-state solution." A lame duck Bush Administration (in any case not known for its diplomatic efforts) is, after 7 long years of neglect, trying to jump start peace in the Middle East.
Grassroots International colleague Institute for Policy Studies' Phyllis Bennis is a long time scholar of Middle East policy, having written and spoken widely on the politics of the region and U.S. Middle East policy. In a recent article on the talks beginning today in Annapolis, MD, she pointed out that "Besides her [Condoleezza Rice's] urgent need to update her legacy (which is currently that of the person who stood before the world at the United Nations and announced 'we don't want a ceasefire yet' as Israeli jets bombarded Lebanon in summer 2006), Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urgently needs to win flagging Arab government support for the Bush administration's failing war and occupation in Iraq and its escalating mobilization against Iran.
Amidst talk of "peace-making" at Annapolis, the situation in Gaza grows worse by the day and any lingering hopes Palestinians may have had for a just peace are fading fast.
After declaring the Gaza Strip an "enemy entity" in September, the Israeli Cabinet last week approved the cutoff of fuel supplies and electricity to the Gaza Strip in response to ongoing rocket attacks. Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak gave the order to cut electricity for increasing periods and to reduce fuel shipments.
The Government of Israel continues to tighten the noose on the Palestinian People through imposing the economic closure on the Gaza Strip as a form of collective punishment. Israel has declared the Gaza Strip "a hostile entity," and is beginning to translate this declaration into practical steps; for example, Israel doesn't permit any access to raw materials, so 85% of Gaza manufacturing business has been closed down with over 35,000 workers laid off. An additional 35,000 workers have been laid off from other sectors including construction, trade and service sectors. All imports and exports remain blocked while few basic materials are allowed to enter the Strip. Medical supplies are lacking in the hospitals which reduces hospitals' capacity to treat patients.
Israeli Government Openly Decides, Apparently for the First Time, to Impose Collective Punishment on 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip
Petitioners: The Decision is Illegal and will Damage the Health, Safety and Welfare of the Population of Gaza
Thursday October 25, 2007
5:30 - 7 PM
Open fundraiser/reception for Jeff Halper
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)
($25 suggested contribution)
To be followed by:
Thursday October 25, 2007 7 - 9 PM
"In Search of a Just Peace in Israel-Palestine: A View from the Ground"
(free, donations encouraged)
Both events will take place at:
1762 Beacon St Brookline, MA
Sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)-Boston
Workmen's Circle Middle East Working Group
and Grassroots International
Israel’s Declaration of Gaza Strip as Enemy Entity Will Strangulate Gaza and Lead to Catastrophe for Civilians
Gaza Community Mental Health Program (GCMHP) is gravely concerned regarding the decision of the Israeli Security Cabinet which designates the Gaza Strip as anEnemy Entity and makes a plan to impose collective punishment against the civilian population in the Gaza Strip.
According to information by media sources, the Israeli plan aims to reduce providing the Gaza Strip with electricity and Fuels to the minimum level that will be sufficient only for public sector use only. This is in addition to imposing more restrictions on the movement of goods and individuals through crossings dominated by Israeli occupation forces and restrictions on the flow of money transfer through banks.
The first ever Boston Palestine Film Festival starts on September 29th and runs through October 7th. The festival, organized by Tawassul, an organization committed to sharing and celebrating Palestinian arts and culture, will feature more than 40 films, Q&As with visiting directors and an opening and closing celebration.
Tawassul has pulled together an impressive line up of documentaries, dramatic features, rare early works (1969-1980) and films by emerging artists. Many of these films depict vividly the hard life ordinary Palestinians, including members of Grassroots International's partner organizations live and the challenges they confront daily under Israeli occupation.
The BBC reports that, "Israel's supreme court has ordered the government to redraw the route of the West Bank barrier near Bilin village, a key focus of anti-barrier protest."
The Separation Wall is often used as a tool to destroy Palestinian villages, separating farmers from the fields that surround their communities, shutting producers off from local markets and depriving communities of access to traditional sources of water.
We received word last night from our friends at Rebuilding Alliance that Husam El Nounou from Grassroots International’s partner, the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, has returned safely to his home in Gaza.
Husam, like thousands of other Palestinians, had been stuck in Egypt after having been denied entry back into Gaza as Israel had sealed Gaza's borders following the Hamas takeover of the Strip and the dismissal of the unity government by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.
I arrived in Cairo on Friday 15 June after a two-week visit to the US where I participated in a speaking tour with the US non-profit Rebuilding Alliance, where I had numerous meetings, interviews and lectures with a variety of audiences, politicians, and media. I was accompanied by another speaker, the remarkable American-born Israeli Rabbi Jeremy Milgrom. The American public we met was happy to see Palestinian and Israeli peace activists speaking together about peace and the importance of working together to achieve justice and end violence. The visit to the US, which was the second for me, was a unique opportunity to educate and advocate for making peace in the Middle East.
Media reports in the last few days have been focused on alleged Iranian support of various radical Shia factions in Iraq and elsewhere. The same mainstream media have been, with few exceptions such as the New Yorker magazine that publishes investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, deafeningly silent on reports of U.S. and U.S. allies' involvement in supporting various radical Sunni groups, including in Lebanon.
Dear Friends,On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, Grassroots International wishes to express its solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for a just peace. Our work in the Occupied Palestinian Territories began in 1986, growing out of the work the organization had done since its founding in 1983 with Palestinian refugees in Lebanon after Israel’s invasion in 1982 and over the years we have had the privilege to work with and support some of the most dynamic and creative Palestinian organizations. As a member organization of the U.S.
For the 3rd consecutive day, Gaza City has witnessed unjustifiable violent internal fighting, and an atmosphere of tension has spread over Gaza that is not less violent than that which has spread as a result of the offensive that has been launched by Israeli Occupation Forces for nearly a month. Since Monday evening, violence has extended to most areas in the Gaza Strip from the north to the south, and militants have deployed in the streets, at the entrances of towns and near governmental headquarters and security compounds. Militants from Hamas and Fatah movements have used various kinds of weapons and have occupied a number of official buildings belonging to the Palestinian presidency and government.
Grassroots International notes with alarm both 40 years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem and the escalating factional violence. Will you support Palestinians’ grassroots human rights efforts?
Palestinians face increasing levels of poverty and food insecurity, and continued theft and destruction of their precious land and water resources. On top of this assault, Palestinian factions battle one another in the streets leaving the civilian population vulnerable and unsure where to turn.