The tributes and praise from various world leaders, including US President Barack Obama and Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, for Israeli war criminal Ariel Sharon who died on January 11, are vile but sadly predictable. But probably the most distasteful of all comes from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who declared himself “saddened by the death of Ariel Sharon”.
Young Palestinian prisoner Hassan Abdul-Halim Turabi, who suffered from leukemia, died at the Afula Israeli Hospital aged 22 on the November 5. Turabi was killed by deliberate Israeli medical neglect, after being denied essential treatment. The number of Palestinian prisoners who have died in Israeli jails since 1967 now sits at 205. Turabi was taken prisoner more than 10 months ago. Due to his ill health, Israel said it would release him but did not. When he first started experiencing pain, he asked for medical treatment in the prison clinic and was given painkillers.
The Israeli authorities must drop all charges against a Palestinian human rights lawyer now released on bail, Amnesty International said. A military judge at Ofer Military Court ordered the release of Anas Barghouti on bail because confessions from other detainees submitted as evidence failed to prove he is a security threat. The accusations against him relate to alleged activities from over a year ago.
The mother of Ribhi al-Battat, 60, gave birth to him in one of the caves inhabited by the people of the small Palestinian village of Zanuta in the West Bank, about 30 kilometres north-east of Be'er Sheva. Battat says his mother, Mariam, gave birth to her own children and midwifed many of his relatives and neighbours in the caves that once served as homes for centuries and are now used primarily as pens for sheep, or for storage.
The “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians that began with the signing of accords in Oslo, Norway, 20 years ago last month was widely celebrated at the time as an important step toward establishing a “viable Palestinian state”. But in the two decades since, the Palestinian economy has been further decimated. Israel has expanded its Jewish-only settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza has been subjected to a suffocating siege and regular military strikes. In short, conditions for Palestinians have worsened, and Israel's colonial domination has been enhanced.
Ahmad Qatamesh is a 62-year-old Palestinian University academic, writer and political activist who has been held in an Israeli jail under administrative detention for more than two years. Under Israel’s policy of administrative detention, people can be held without charge or trial for indefinite periods.
In 1986, Israeli scientist Mordechai Vanunu took a courageous moral stand against nuclear weapons. Vanunu exposed Israel’s secret nuclear weapons arsenal to the world after becoming disillusioned with his work as a technician at Dimona Nuclear Research Centre in Israel. Vanunu revealed Israel had hundreds of advanced nuclear warheads ― the sixth largest stockpile in the world. Under a policy of nuclear ambiguity, Israel still officially denies it has nuclear weapons, despite Vanunu’s revelations and other widespread evidence to the contrary.
About 50 people joined a rally at Sydney University on August 28 to show solidarity with academics Jake Lynch and Stuart Rees, who have been threatened with legal action over their strong backing for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against apartheid Israel. Lynch, Rees and the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS) at Sydney university are facing a legal suit by Shurat HaDin, an Israeli Law Centre.
The Palestinian prisoners holding Jordanian citizenship have suspended their hunger strike following concessions from the Israeli prison authorities to allow them regular family visits from their family members in Jordan. This was reported in a press conference held in Amman by family members of the prisoners on August 11. The five Jordanian hunger strikers are Abdullah Barghouthi, Mohammad Rimawi, Muneer Mar'i, Hamza Othman al-Dabbas and Alaa Hammad. They had been striking since May 2 for 100 days.
“I want all the people to come to the court and see what democracy in Israel really is,” said the mother of Palestinian youth Ali Shamlawi, being held in jail by Israel on fabricated charges. On March 14, there was an accident near Salfit in the West Bank when an Israeli settler’s car crashed into the back of Israeli truck. Four people in the car were hurt, one seriously. The truck had stopped on the road due to a flat tire. Later, this accident was described by the car's settler driver as a stone throwing attack by Palestinian youths.
Palestinian families celebrated on August 14 as Israel released 26 prisoners on the eve of long-stalled peace talks. Buses carrying the inmates left the Ayalon prison in central Israel late on August 13. Celebrations erupted in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where thousands of Palestinian well-wishers awaited the buses' arrival. Fireworks lit the sky in Gaza, where rival Hamas and Fatah supporters alike celebrated to the beat of drums. Some danced while others flashed victory signs and waved flags of the Palestinian factions.
In April last year, many Palestinian political prisoners in Israel went on hunger strike calling for rights to family visits and the end of solitary confinement. Israel eventually conceded their demands. But now Israel says the deal did not apply to the Palestinian political prisoners who held Jordanian citizenship. These prisoners are still prohibited from family visits and various other basic rights.