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Opinion Editorials, November 2008


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Editorial Note: The following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may also include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology. Comments are in parentheses.


Israeli War Criminals Tighten Siege of Gaza, Causing Extremely Severe Conditions and Civilian Suffering

Barak: Gaza Strip crossings to remain closed Thursday

Date: 20 / 11 / 2008  Time:  09:37
Bethlehem – Ma’an –

  The Israeli occupation government defense minister, Ehud Barak, instructed Israeli forces to keep crossings into the Gaza Strip closed on Thursday, following his reevaluation of the current situation with concerned parties.

Meanwhile, the Jordanian Islamic Front Party in Amman received an official permit to protest the Rafah closure. At the demonstration, the party called on Egypt to open the crossing and end Egypt's role in the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.

Israeli defense minister keeps up closure of Gaza's crossings

Wednesday November 19, 2008 11:15 by Rami Almeghari - IMEMC & Agencies

 The Israeli occupation government defense minister, Ehud Barak, decided Wednesday to keep up Gaza's commercial crossings closed for the sixteenth day consecutively, under the pretext of continued homemade shells fire into nearby Israeli towns.

The Israeli minister was quoted as saying " the crossings will remain closed unless the Palestinian homemade rocket attacks stop".

During a cabinet meeting with his top security advisors, Barak took the decision closure.

Yesterday night, a number of Gaza-based factions took responsibility for firing the nearby Israeli towns of Sderot and southern Israel, a series of homemade shells, saying such a fire is a natural response to the continued Israel crimes against the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank.

Barghouthi: Israeli occupation government measures against Gaza war crime

[ 20/11/2008 - 10:36 AM ]


MP Dr. Mustafa Al-Barghouthi has charged that the Israeli occupation government's (IOG) measures against the Gaza Strip, siege and closure of crossings, constituted a war crime and a blatant violation of the international laws and the Geneva Convention.

The MP also denounced the Israeli occupation forces' detention of Palestinian fishermen and foreign activists off the Gaza coast, describing it as "a kidnapping".

He said in a press statement on Wednesday that the deteriorating conditions in the Strip herald a humanitarian disaster as the IOA was blocking the entry of fuel, foodstuff and other basic materials into the Strip for more than two weeks.

The IOG has turned Gaza into a big prison and is exercising collective punishment against it, Barghouthi said.

The lawmaker called for an immediate end to the IOG "crimes" against the Palestinian people and urged the world not to treat Israel as a "state above the law".

Israeli practices aim to torpedo the calm since it no longer served Israeli interests with the approach of general elections, he said, warning of military escalation as the elections approach.

The IOG is exploiting the internal Palestinian division to endorse its agenda especially in separating the West Bank from the Gaza Strip, opining that the only answer to such policies is restoring national unity.

UNRWA suspends financial assistance to refugees in Gaza

[ 20/11/2008 - 01:20 PM ]


The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees has announced that it would be forced to suspend its financial assistance to refugees in the Gaza Strip due to the lack of Israeli currency in Gaza banks.

UNRWA said that financial assistance to 90,000 Palestinians would be halted because of the Israeli siege that stopped entry of Israeli shekels to the Palestinian banks in Gaza.

Karin Abu Zaid, the UNRWA commissioner general, told the agency's annual meeting in Amman on Wednesday that her agency's' basic services would suffer an 87 million dollars deficit, which would lead to an overall 160 million dollars deficit when other un-financed and suspended projects are added.

Hamas's agriculture ministry warns of a nutrition crisis due to the Israeli blockade

Thursday November 20, 2008 10:54 by Rami Almeghari - IMEMC & Agencies

The Hamas-run agriculture ministry warned today of a nutrition setback in the coastal Strip, unless the commercial crossings are reopened.

In a statement, emailed to media outlets, the ministry said that the sharp shortage of cooking gas would lead to complete closure of livestock pens and poultries across the coastal Strip.

Also, the statement read that because of the two-week-old total closure of Gaza's crossings, needed quantities of fodder and other food items for livestock have not been allowed in , threatening nutrition for the Gaza's population.

The ministry' press release came after few owners of poultries and livestock pens have been forced recently to damage thousands of chicks in their farms due to their inability to feed them or ensure needed heating, because of reduced electricity supply as well as shortage of cooking gas and fodder.

For more than two weeks now, Israel continues to close all Gaza's border crossings, in what Israel says a response to homemade shells fire from Gaza onto nearby Israeli towns.

The Israel army carried out recently a series of attacks on Gaza, threatening an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire deal between Israel and Gaza-based resistance groups.

UN Secretary-general phones Olmert, expresses concern over the deteriorating conditions in Gaza

Thursday November 20, 2008 02:30 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies

United Nations Secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, phoned on Tuesday the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, and expressed deep concern over the deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip. He also urged Olmert to allow UN personnel into the Gaza Strip.

The office of Ki-Moon issued a statement saying that the UN secretary general phoned Olmert and urged him to ease the entry of humanitarian supplies into the Gaza Strip.

The UN secretary-general said that he is deeply concerned as the humanitarian situation In Gaza continues to deteriorate.

Israel kept all border crossings sealed but on Monday and after repeated warnings issued by the UNRWA regarding a humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip, Israel only allowed the entry 33 trucks filled with food and aid.

In spite of the disastrous condition in Gaza and the power blackout, Olmert said during his meeting with the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, on Monday, that he “will not allow a humanitarian disaster in Gaza”.  

Israel has been barring the UNRWA form bringing humanitarian supplies into the Gaza Strip since its invasion to the coastal region on November 4. The invasion led to the death of 12 Palestinians and the Palestinian resistance retaliated by firing homemade shells into adjacent Israeli areas.  

The Higher Commission for Human Rights in Geneva issued a statement on Tuesday urging Israel to lift the siege as it violates international law.

Navanethem “Navi” Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated that the siege is barring 1.5 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip from enjoying their basic human rights.

She added that the siege violates international law and human rights laws.

Free Gaza Movement call for aiding Gaza through the sea

Wednesday November 19, 2008 16:44 by IEMMC News

The Free Gaza Movement issued on Wednesday this open letter to all organizations delivering humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

Israel's closure of its land borders with Gaza, and Egypt's submission to Israeli pressure to close the Rafah border is a humanitarian disaster for 1.5 million Palestinians. The United Nations announced last Thursday that inside Gaza it had run out of the food essentials to supply 750,000 desperately needy citizens. "This has become a blockade against the United Nations itself," a spokesman said.
Therefore, the sea route to Gaza must be considered as a viable option to deliver essential supplies.  Since August 2008, the Free Gaza Movement has delivered aid and personnel to Gaza three times without Israeli or Egyptian intervention. Our boat, the Dignity, sailed directly from international waters to the waters of Gaza.
The Free Gaza Movement now has an inspection procedure in place in Cyprus to ensure the boat and contents comply with international regulations. In addition, we publish information about our passengers and cargo that ensures nothing and no one harmful is on board. Israel has shown itself willing to accept such assurances from us.
The Free Gaza Movement therefore encourages all agencies to consider the sea route to deliver aid to Gaza. Furthermore, a concerted effort to use the sea will make it all but impossible for Israel to close this vital route.
We are available to assist interested parties and to offer our services. Please contact one or more of the people listed on this release.
The Free Gaza Movement, a human rights group, sent two boats to Gaza in August 2008. These were the first international boats to land in the port in 41 years. Since August, two more voyages were successful, taking Parliamentarians, human rights workers, and other dignitaries to witness the effects of Israel's draconian policies are on the civilians of Gaza.

Khudari: Gaza out of wheat

[ 20/11/2008 - 10:02 AM ]


MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular anti siege committee, has affirmed that the flour mills in the Gaza Strip have come to complete halt due to the Israeli closure of all crossings for 16 days running.

Khudari, who visited the Palestinian flour mill company along with foreign activists on Wednesday, said that the company's stores were empty, noting that they could accommodate up to 200,000 tons of wheat.

He told a press conference after touring the facility that the company used to produce 230 tons of flour daily and worked 24 hours a day but it reduced working to 8 hours a day then stopped completely on Wednesday.

The MP recalled that the company met 50% of the Gaza Strip needs, and underlined that it was the first time for the company to completely stop functioning, which indicates that the current siege and closures of crossings is the toughest against the Strip.

He charged that the Israeli occupation authority was targeting the basics of life in the Strip, and appealed to the world community to shoulder its responsibility and to pressure the IOA into ending the siege and to open all commercial crossings.


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