Middle East

Sarah Ayoub was baking bread. She was putting a loaf into a clay oven when she heard the explosions.

That was on June 5, 1967, the day Israel declared war against Egypt.

As Israel’s tanks drew closer, Sarah grew increasingly worried about Munther, her husband. He had gone out to work, transporting goods along with a merchant.

After an hour passed, he made it back to their home in Beach refugee camp, part of Gaza City.

The hunger strike launched in April by more than 1500 Palestinian prisoners ended on May 27 when the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) agreed to key concessions to improve the prisoners’ conditions.

The announcement of the end of the 41-day hunger strike, coinciding with the start of Ramadan, was greeted with relief and joy by prisoners’ families and supporters across Palestine and the world. By the time the deal to improve conditions to end the hunger strike was struck, about 800 prisoners were still participating.

After 40 days without food, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners have suspended their hunger strike in Israeli jails.

The end of the strike came after 20 hours of intense negotiations between the strike’s leaders, including imprisoned Fatah figure Marwan Barghouti, and the Israel Prison Service, according to a statement issued on the morning of May 27 by the prisoners solidarity committee.

By a vote of 53-2, the 51st general conference of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, held in Vienna on September 17-21, approved a non-binding resolution sponsored by Egypt calling on all Middle East countries to abide by IAEA safeguards against the development of nuclear weapons.

In early April, Independent Liquor worker and member of the Unite Union Steve Tipene took his own life, just eight days after he was sacked from his job. Unite had filed a challenge against the dismissal at the Employment Relations Authority shortly before hearing of his death. Unite reported on April 13 that Tipene’s family believed the sacking was a major factor in his death and according to the union, the company has a long history of anti-union practices and workplace bullying. Unite organiser John Minto described 46-year-old Tipene as a strong unionist who understood the importance of workers sticking together. “Steve took part in the strikes last year which gained the first collective agreement at Independent Liquor for 20 years. He has helped make it a bit easy for the employees who follow him at Independent. He was a good man.”

On March 8, Greenpeace announced that a community campaign had stopped the construction of Mighty River Power’s Marsden B coal-fired power station, which would have been the first coal-fired power station to be built in New Zealand in 30 years. The campaign, launched in 2004, involved the local community, indigenous people and environmental organisations.

International Women’s Day (IWD) — March 8 — was marked by marches protesting the recent acquittal of former assistant police commissioner Clint Rickards and two other former police officers on charges of rape.

The second Workers Charter conference, held at the Auckland Trades Hall on October 7, drew a broad cross-section of the New Zealand union movement and its supporters. The Workers Charter, launched 15 months ago, is a draft list of 10 demands aimed at guaranteeing workers’ rights. Its demands cover rights such as a living wage, affordable housing and the right to strike.

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