A confusing feeling passed through me after hearing about the exchange of 1027 Palestinian detainees for the only Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was held captive by the Palestinian resistance fighters. I don’t know whether to feel happy or sad. Gazing at the faces of the prisoners’ families in the solidarity tent in Gaza City on October 18, I see a look that I have never seen before: eyes glittering with hope. Thinking about those women whose relatives are most likely to be released and seeing their big smiles makes me happy.
The sense of joy was palpable in the streets of Gaza on October 18 as hundreds of Palestinian prisoners jailed by Israel returned home. It was a remarkable day in the life of the territory’s 1.6 million Palestinians. During the past five years Israel has levied a heavy price on Gaza's civilian population for the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by Palestinian resistance fighters. It has been extracted with Israel’s warplanes, tanks, bulldozers and relentless siege.
Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem drew attention on October 10 to plans by the Israeli government to expel 27,000 Bedouin Palestinians living in what is known as “Area C” of the occupied West Bank. Israel's Civil Administration is planning to expel the Bedouin communities living in Area C. In the first phase is planned for January. About 20 communities, involving 2300 people, will be forcibly transferred to a site near the Abu Dis rubbish dump, east of Jerusalem.
Sitting in the shade of a small lemon tree in the German Colony area of Haifa in northern Israel, eight Palestinian activists are on hunger strike in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners. The prisoners have been going without food since September 27 in protest against poor prison conditions and a lack of basic rights. Muhannad Abu Ghosh, a Haifa resident and one of the hunger strikers, said: “I decided to participate in the hunger strike in order to support the political prisoners, the freedom fighters, imprisoned in the Israeli dungeons.
Natacha Atlas, the award-winning electronic-worldbeat artist, has canceled her upcoming show in Israel and will be boycotting the state until the apartheid regime is dismantled.
Israeli activist and author Miko Peled, currently touring Australia, is convinced that the Israel-Palestine conflict can be solved. But, he told public meetings in Sydney and Newcastle, he doesn't believe that it will happen while the government of Israel remains committed to Zionism (the maintenance of Israel as an exclusively "Jewish" state) and continues its ethnic cleansing operation by moving Palestinians off their land. “It is not some inexorable process of nature,” Peled said. “It is a conflict between people, and it is therefore something over which people can have control.”
Green Left Weekly, Socialist Alliance and other left-wing groups, have received more attention than normal in recent weeks in the mainstream media and even in state and federal parliamentary debates. This attention has mainly been in response to the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israeli apartheid and has mostly consisted of nasty allegations of anti-Semitism, with endless colourful references to Hitler and the Nazi’s Holocaust.
“We are going to the United Nations to request our legitimate right, obtaining full membership for Palestine in this organisation,” Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Ramallah-based, internationally recognised Palestinian Authority (PA), declared in a September 16 televised address. “We are going to the Security Council.” Abbas has acknowledged the initiative is largely symbolic and that UN recognition of Palestinian sovereignty would not translate to actual control of territory.
Despite widespread condemnation of Israeli policies by the United Nations, other international bodies, human rights organisations and internationally respected lawyers Israel continues to deprive Palestinians of their rights of freedom, equality, and self-determination. Israel’s ethnic cleansing, racial discrimination and aggressive expansion through colonisation are well documented. See also: Rallies say you 'can't sweeten apartheid'
Israel has been rocked by weeks of ongoing protests against high house prices and the cost of living. To avoid being painted as “extremists”, the organisers have avoided the obvious ― the cost of the occupation of Palestinian territory and protecting the illegal Jewish settlers has directly contributed to the Israeli state's neoliberal austerity policies.