International day of solidarity in Gaza greeted with Israeli bullets in Beit Hanoun

Israel/Palestine
on 11 Comments

Live bullets were fired from snipers at an Erez control tower within a metre of demonstrators on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on Tuesday morning in Beit Hanoun, Northern Gaza. A German activist Vera Macht was injured as she stumbled while running for cover. The Local Initiative of Beit Hanoun organized the demonstration international mural and with extra attention focusing on the growing international Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, against Israel for its ongoing human rights violations of the Palestinian people. The demonstration was held in the area where 6 farmers and rock collectors, including 2 children had been shot and injured over the previous 2 days, seeing an acceleration of violence against civilians from the Israeli Occupation Forces.

It was actually the United Nations General Assembly who in 1977 called for this annual observance of 29th November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. It was on that day, in 1947, that the Assembly adopted the resolution on the partition of Palestine resolution 181, which began the horrific trend of violent land expropriation and expulsion of the Palestinian population. Over two thirds of Gazans are UN registered refugees from this period.

Tuesday morning 30 people, amongst them 5 internationals from the International Solidarity Movement and two more including Mavi Marmara survivor Ken O’Keefe and Irish Activist Cormac O’Daly, gathered in Beit Hanoun at approximately 800m from Erez Crossing. Opposite the remains of the destroyed Agricultural College, which was bombed during the war on Gaza, the demonstrators put up a wall of slogans and international and Palestinian flags to express solidarity. All demonstrators held up letters forming the slogan “Boycott Israel boycott!”, before marching down towards the Erez Wall.

They were also protesting their right to their land, much of which is now lost or out of bounds by the Israeli imposed “buffer-zone.” The  buffer-zone, extended to 300 metres  wide in December 2009, stretches along the entire border fence on the frontier with Israel. According to a recent UN report the violence used to restrict Palestinians from accessing their land actually covers areas up to 1500m from the border fence, meaning that over 35% of Gaza’s most agricultural land is in a high risk area causing severe losses of food production and livelihoods.

As the demonstrators neared to within 100 metres of the wall, chanting and waving flags it was clear one of the watch towers was open, evidently monitoring.  The barren waste land all around was a result of the forced neglect as they marched into a place that has been made out of bounds by the threat of Israel snipers and shelling. As a soldier shouted from the tower, the group decided to walk back towards the village center. At around 500 metres from the fence, IOF snipers opened fire at them, the first few shots at head height missing many of the people on the march by a metre or less. Afterwards, another ten shots were fired.

According to Local Initiative organiser Saber Al Za’anin the day highlights the responsibility of international civil society to exert pressure to end the violent siege and occupation of Palestinian lands: “It is vital that Internationals support the Palestinian cause and make the world understand the horrific occupation and attacks Palestinians live under day in day out. The international grass roots boycotts are saying no to Israeli violence and oppression and its time that the International governing community did the same to hold Israel to account for their crimes. We painted flags of countries from around the world on a mural and demonstrated. Now its time for the world to increase the power of their demonstrations, lobbying, festivals, legal work and boycotts to finally end the conflict.”

On the violence at the borders, demonstration participant Ken O’Keefe said: ”When people are shot and killed for collecting rocks so they can be crushed and turned into powder and ultimately into cement, because cement is banned under the Israeli siege, you know the so-called “easing” of the siege is a farce. The siege must be smashed into oblivion, and the only people who will make that happen are people of conscience who are willing to act.”

Released on Wednesday was a report ‘Dashed Hopes, Continuation of the Gaza Blockade’ signed by over 21 international organizations including Amnesty, Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid and Medical Aid for Palestinians. It calls for international action to make Israel to unconditionally lift the blockade, saying the condition of the Palestinians of Gaza under Israeli siege continues devastate daily living for the 1.5million  population, over half of which are children.

63 years before the day of the demonstration, On 29 November, 1947, the UN General Assembly voted for Resolution 181 for the partition of Palestine into two states and envisaged a Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem. It was this plan that triggered the ongoing suffering for the Palestinians given the hugely unequal partition of the land.

According to Israeli Historian Ilan Pappe, “The injustice was as striking then as it appears now… the Jews, who owned less than six per cent of the total land area of Palestine and constituted no more than one third of the population, were handed more than half of its overall territory”

According to Pappe, from the beginning the major global institutions and power-brokers were pitted against them: “The Palestinians were at the mercy of an international organization [the United Nations] that appeared ready to ignore all the rules of international mediation, which its own charter endorsed…One does not have to be a great jurist or legal mind to predict how the international court would have ruled on forcing a solution on a country to which the majority of its people were vehemently opposed.”

Then after the resolution partition came the Nakba or ‘Catastrophe’ during which the nascent Israeli army forcibly annexed even more land, leaving them controlling 78% of the land for a prospective Israeli State, leaving behind the West Bank and Gaza. During these attacks which began in March 1948, which included massacres such as Deir Yassin village, close to 800,000 Palestinians were uprooted, 531 villages had been destroyed, and eleven urban neighbourhoods emptied of their inhabitants. With the ‘slow motion ethnic cleaning’ that has ensued ever since, Israel has now settled over 60% of the 22% of historic Palestine and militarily occupies the rest. [1]

[1] Pappe, I. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006), One World Publications, Oxford

11 Responses

  1. pjdude
    November 30, 2010, 8:00 pm

    yet another element of those peaceful Israelis just trying to spread peace with firearms

  2. Shingo
    November 30, 2010, 8:27 pm

    Yet another example of how Israelis respond to peaceful resistance.

    Clearly BDS is not necessary when it’s so much easier to make the better argument. I mean, better arguments stop bullets in mid air.

  3. Sumud
    November 30, 2010, 9:25 pm

    As Defence for Children International (DCI) reported in October, this activity – shooting Palestinians, especially children – while they’re engaged in peaceful activities on Palestinian land, has been an ongoing pastime for the IDF:

    New research from Defence for Children International (DCI) shows that Gazan children are routinely fired upon if they stray too close to the border fence. They have documented 10 cases since May, of which six took place beyond Israel’s stated exclusion zone of 300m. Many more are expected in the coming weeks.

    The report goes on to say than under Oslo, the agreed buffer zone was 50 metres. Similarly, under Oslo fisherman in Gaza had the right to go up to 20 nautical miles (32km) from the coastline, but Israel has unilaterally restricted that to just 3 miles, shooting on average two fisherman per month earlier this year.

    It’s just disgusting Obama and other western leaders let Israel get away with this crap.

  4. seafoid
    December 1, 2010, 7:57 am

    This is simply appalling . Give me the hasbara ,hasbaradim.

    link to irishtimes.com

    “The import of construction materials is approved for projects authorised by the Palestinian Authority in consultation with the international donor organisations. Israel’s only role relates to security considerations. There is no humanitarian crisis and no hunger in Gaza.

    Food shops and stalls are full and the recently-opened luxury mall is crowded. Life expectancy, infant mortality and literacy rates are better in Gaza than in many Arab and even some EU countries. ”
    ….
    I hope that this letter may bring some clarity to the issue. – Yours, etc,

    BOAZ MODAI,

    Ambassador of Israel,

    Pembroke Road,

    Ballsbridge,

    Dublin 4.

    • Shmuel
      December 1, 2010, 8:08 am

      Hmm. A letter from Ballsbridge.

      Amnesty, Oxfam and 20 other international “development, human rights and peace-building organisations” would beg to differ:

      Six months on: Little sign of improvement in Gaza since Israeli ‘easing’ of blockade, shows report from aid and human rights groups

      November 30th, 2010 at 12.59 pm.

      Imports of construction materials still only 11 per cent of 2007 pre-blockade levels. Israel approves imports for only seven per cent of UNRWA’s rebuilding plan for Gaza.

      Israel’s measures to ‘ease’ the illegal blockade of Gaza in the face of significant international pressure have done little to change the plight of Gaza’s civilians, says a report published today by an international coalition of 22 development, human rights and peace-building organisations. They are calling for renewed international action to ensure an immediate, unconditional and complete lifting of the blockade.

      The international community has eased its pressure on Israel, but too little has been done to effectively ease the restrictions on the daily lives of the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza, half of whom are children, says the report, Dashed Hopes: Continuation of the Gaza Blockade. The report says that not only has Israel neglected to address major elements of the blockade in its ‘easing’ measures, such as lifting the ban on exports from Gaza, but it has failed so far to live up to key commitments it did make.

      Israel promised to expand and accelerate imports of desperately-needed construction materials for UN and other international projects such as schools, health centres, houses and sewage plants, many of which were damaged or destroyed during the military operation in December 2008-January 2009. But in reality the report shows that progress has been slow and limited since this pledge. Israel has so far only approved the import of materials for 25 UNRWA construction projects for schools and clinics, a mere seven per cent of UNRWA’s entire reconstruction plan for Gaza. Even for these approved projects, only a small fraction of the required construction materials have actually been permitted to enter Gaza so far.

      More generally, says the report, the UN has estimated that Gaza needs 670,000 truckloads of construction materials for housing alone in Gaza. An average of only 715 truckloads of construction materials have entered the Gaza Strip per month since the ‘easing’ announcement, says the report. At this rate, it would take many decades to build the needed homes. And because UNRWA has been unable to get construction materials to build new schools, 40,000 eligible children could not be enrolled at UN schools at the start of the new academic year.
      “Only a fraction of the aid needed has made it to the civilians trapped in Gaza by the blockade”, said Jeremy Hobbs, Director of Oxfam International. “Israel’s failure to live up to its commitments and the lack of international action to lift the blockade are depriving Palestinians in Gaza of access to clean water, electricity, jobs and a peaceful future.”
      Moreover, the ‘easing’ has had no impact on exports which remain banned until now. This leaves two thirds of Gaza’s industrial businesses closed and the rest operating at partial capacity, while increased inflows of finished consumer goods undercut local producers who cannot export or restart their businesses, say the groups.

      The movement of people has also seen little change. Despite the Israeli government’s stated commitment to streamline entry and exit to and from Gaza for humanitarian aid workers, the report shows that there has in fact been an increase in refusals of entry and exit for UN agencies’ local humanitarian staff since the ‘easing’ measures were announced. Meanwhile, the general population of Gaza remains locked in, as their freedom of movement to travel, work, study or visit family members and friends outside Gaza continues to be denied. Despite a rise in the number of businesspeople allowed to travel, there has been no increase in the overall number of Palestinians allowed to leave Gaza through the Israeli crossings, which remains below one per cent of levels prior to the second intifada in 2000.

      Commenting recently, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton stated that, “We think that what’s happened with Gaza is unsatisfactory, that Israel has failed to live up to its commitments on easing the blockade on the Gaza strip.”

      Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said: “The so-called ‘easing’ of the Gaza blockade does not change the fact that there’s still a cruel and illegal blockade collectively punishing the entire civilian population. The only real easing has been the easing of pressure on the Israeli authorities to end this cruel and illegal practice.”

      For more information please contact:
      Aldine Furio: +33 668 121 153
      Ben Jackson: +44 7946 831814
      Notes to editors

      - The full report is available at the link below and copies of the report can be provided in English, French and Arabic upon request.
      link to oxfam.org.uk

      - The joint report is published by 22 organizations: Amnesty International UK, Broederlijk Delen, Cafod, CCFD, Terre Solidaire, Christian Aid, Church of Sweden, Cordaid, Diakonia, Euro-mediterranean Human Rights Network, Handicap International, IKV Pax Christi, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Medical Aid for Palestinians, Medico International, MS Action Aid Denmark, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Oxfam International, Quaker Council for European Affairs, RCT, Redd Barna, Save The Children UK, Trocaire.

      • Shmuel
        December 1, 2010, 8:26 am

        The crux of the Amnesty, Oxfam et al report:

        While restrictions on access to and from Gaza date back to the 1990s, these restrictions were intensified leading to the current blockade after Hamas took control of the Strip in June 2007. The Israeli Security Cabinet declared Gaza a ‘hostile entity’ and decided to impose additional sanctions restricting the passage of goods, fuel and people. Israel has a duty to protect its citizens from security threats and the measures it uses to do so must conform to international humanitarian and human rights law.5 This includes its legal obligation as an occupying power to protect the safety, rights and needs of the occupied civilian population. The government of Israel holds the position that the restrictions and procedures are part of legitimate warfare.6 However, the International Committee of the Red Cross has recently confirmed that the blockade constitutes a collective punishment of the entire civilian population of Gaza and is in clear violation of international humanitarian law.7

        Following the Israeli announcement of steps to ‘ease’ the blockade,
        international attention shifted to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and the pressure from the international community to lift the blockade was also eased. The current approach risks perpetuating what is an unacceptable situation and fails to recognise that there cannot be a just and durable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without an end to the isolation and punishment of people in Gaza. The Government of Israel and parts of the international community remain reluctant to fully lift the blockade as long as Hamas holds power in Gaza. Yet, upholding the rights and needs of civilians in Gaza must not be conditional on other political objectives. Civilians in Gaza cannot wait until the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are concluded.

        Lifting the blockade of Gaza remains a legal, economic and political imperative for those seeking a lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The time for credible and effective action is now.

      • eljay
        December 1, 2010, 8:47 am

        >> The crux of the Amnesty, Oxfam et al report:

        Revolution! Maximalism! Who are these anti-Semitic, Israel-hating do-gooders who dare suggest that Israel stop collectively punishing an entire population? Are they not aware that Israel is comprised entirely of “generation to generation” fear-scarred Jews? That Zionism was/is a “mix of defense and offense” devised and implemented in order to create “a good in the world”? Have they not heard about San Remo, Judaea and Samaria? Do they not “Remember the Holocaust!”? Can they not appreciate the fact that ethnic cleansing is “currently not necessary”?!

        And, anyway, Palestinians are “resilient and energetic”, so what’s the probem?

  5. seafoid
    December 1, 2010, 8:17 am

    It is made even worse by the fact that this comes from the representative of a State that was founded to ensure that the world would never again allow Jews to be brutalised, confined to ghettos and starved. 70% of Gazans live on less than $1 per day as a direct result of Israeli policy and are dependent on international relief organisations for food. A few miles up the road in Tel Aviv, patrons of one of the city’s sado masochism clubs pay $6 for a local beer or $8 for imported beer.

    • eljay
      December 1, 2010, 8:36 am

      >> It is made even worse by the fact that this comes from the representative of a State that was founded to ensure that the world would never again allow Jews to be brutalised, confined to ghettos and starved. … in Tel Aviv, patrons of one of the city’s sado masochism clubs pay $6 for a local beer or $8 for imported beer.

      Sounds like Jews aren’t being brutalised, confined to ghettos and starved, so I would say “Mission Accomplished!” :-)

      As for the Gazans, all they need to do is:
      - “humanize ‘the Other” and make “better wheels”;
      - be grateful that ethnic cleansing is “currently not necessary”;
      - remain “resilient and energetic”;
      - understand that Zionism is a “moral work” and that Israel is “a good in the world”;
      - thank gawd for the scraps of food and dignity they still have; and, most important of all,
      - never forget to “Remember the Holocaust!”

  6. seafoid
    December 1, 2010, 8:30 am

    Gaza is the moral nadir of Zionism.

    • eljay
      December 1, 2010, 8:51 am

      >> Gaza is the moral nadir of Zionism.

      I get the impression that Zionism – supported in and by Amurrika – has not yet reached its lowest point.

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