More than 150 people protested at Parramatta town hall on November 15, calling for a boycott of Max Brenner chocolate shops and an end to Israel's recent attacks on Gaza. The rally was part of the worldwide campaign for boycott, divestments and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Max Brenner's parent company, the Israeli Strauss Group, donates care packages of chocolates to Israeli commandos of the Golani and Givati brigades.
The ongoing siege of Gaza by the Israeli government looked set for a worrying escalation following a visit to Gaza by the emir of Qatar. Just three days earlier, Israel's navy had boarded a Gaza aid ship and used tasers on activists. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani entered Gaza via Egypt's Rafah border crossing on October 23. Israeli leaders condemned al-Thani's visit, the first by a foreign head of state since 1999. Al-Thani promised $400 million in aid projects to Gaza, undermining Israel's economic blockade.
The Sydney Al-Nakba rally and march - marking 64 years since the brutal dispossession of Palestinians from their homeland - was successful despite police attempts to derail it. Around 500 people protested, after the Supreme Court dismissed the NSW Police Commissioners attempts to derail the march, which was organised by the Palestine Action Group Sydney.
Media reports suggested that US President Barack Obama's May 19 Washington DC speech on the Middle East and North Africa contained a new proposal for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. A look at the content shows this is false. The May 20 New York Times declared: “President Obama, seeking to capture a moment of epochal change in the Arab world, began a new effort [in his speech] to break the stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, setting out a new starting point for negotiations on the region's most intractable problem.”
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority started on September 2. After the resumption of negotiations, Israel refrained from attacking Gaza for just two days. Then it ordered the bombing of two Rafah tunnels that connect the besieged Gaza Strip to Egypt, killing two workers, and leaving two severely injured.
The article is abridged from an August 11 Palestinian Centre for Human Rights report. * * * The signs which dot the beach along the Gaza City waterfront read: "This beach is polluted.” Yet they serve only as obstacles for children running to the sea, rather than warnings of the serious health risks. One need only stroll north along the beach for a couple hundred metres to see raw sewage being pumped directly into the Mediterranean Sea from one of the 16 discharge sites along the coast. Yet thousands of people fill Gaza's beaches.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat said on July 15 the Libyan aid ship, Amaltheal (“Hope”) docked the night before at al-Arish in Egypt. The ship was bearing 2000 tons of aid supplies for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which is blockaded by Israel. The ship’s odyssey from Greece was marked by uncertainty and danger for the 21 passengers. It developed a mechanical problem that made it move very slowly on July 14. There was a question about whether its captain might try to take it right into Gaza, despite the Israeli military’s blockade.
On June 14, Muhammad Juma Abu Wardeh, a 17-year-old Palestinian labourer, was shot and wounded by Israeli snipers along the “buffer zone” in eastern Gaza as he collected materials for a cement plant in Jabaliya, north of Gaza City. Israel’s ongoing blockade against the Gaza Strip has prevented access to raw construction materials, forcing workers to risk their lives to trawl open agricultural areas for resources.
Moshe Dayan, Israel’s most celebrated general, famously outlined the strategy he believed would keep Israel’s enemies at bay: “Israel must be a like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.” Until now, most observers assumed Dayan was referring to Israeli military or possibly nuclear strategy, an expression in his typically blunt fashion of the country’s familiar doctrine of deterrence.
After Israel’s May 31 raid on a civilian vessel trying to deliver goods to Gaza, Egypt announced on June 1 that it would temporarily open its border with Rafah to allow humanitarian and medical aid into the Gaza Strip. On May 31, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak responded swiftly to the Israeli navy's assault on the Freedom Flotilla, affirming Egypt's support for the people of Gaza. Israel’s ambassador to Egypt was quickly summoned by Egypt’s foreign ministry, and told Egypt condemns the violence against international activists and rejects the continued Gaza blockade.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk, called, on May 31, for the international community to bring to justice those responsible for Israel’s deadly raid on a ship bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza, Countercurrents.com said that day. The raid killed at least nine people.
The Qatar-based media network Al Jazeera has published on its website a series of harrowing eyewitness accounts from survivors of Israel’s military raid on a flotilla of ships bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza. An example is published below. To read the full list, visit www.english.aljazeera.net. * * * Haneen Zabi, member of the Knesset (Israeli parliament): “We were expecting the Israeli army to stop us, to prevent us from entering but surely we didn't expect such a war against us.
The picture is clear: the activists attacked in the Israeli military’s May 31 nighttime commando raid on a boat bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza were not armed. In Israel, the media is broadcasting disinformation, using edited videos. But it is clear there was no crossfire during the raid, just Israeli fire. Israel claims there was an attempt by activists onboard the Mavi Marmara, to steal weapons from soldiers. But either the army’s spokespeople or the soldiers themselves are telling false tales.
About 2000 demonstrators gathered outside Israel’s Ministry of Defense late May 31 to protest the military's violent raid on an aid flotilla that attempted to break the country’s years-long siege on the Gaza Strip. Haggai Matar, a member of the Coalition Against the Siege, told Ma’an news the protests were an expression of anger and shock about the Israeli navy raid that left at least 10 activists dead and dozens hurt a day earlier.
The Brussels-based European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza said it had already secured funds to support three new aid ships to be sailed to Gaza, the Ma’an News Agency said on June 2. The fleet will be called the Freedom 2. Campaign head Arafat Madhi said it would be “much bigger than the first”, which included nationals from more than 40 nations and 10,000 tons of aid. The first fleet is now held by Israel after the takeover of six ships in international waters on May 31.
Following Israel’s May 31 kidnapping of six ships in the Freedom Flotilla bring humanitarian aid to Gaza, the Irish ship, MV Rachel Corrie, continued its path towards Gaza. The ship, named after a US activist killed by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003, was carrying building materials, 20 tonnes of paper and other supplies Israel refuses to allow into the Gaza Strip, FreeGaza.org said on June 4.