Thursday, May 22, 2008

Israeli Army Fires on Palestinian Demonstrators at Karni/Al-Mantar Crossing in Gaza

Israeli forces today fired rubber bullets and tear gas on Palestinians demonstrating at the Al-Mantar/Karni border crossing. The Palestinians were protesting the siege on Gaza, which has extensively prevented an adequate supply of fuel and other basic amenities into the Strip as well as Palestinian exports out of it, which has plunged the Gazan economy into dire straits and its inhabitants into soaring poverty (79% of Gazan households in poverty by April 2006 compared to less than 30% in 2000). As a result of the Israeli forces attack today, a young Palestinian man was killed, and around 17 were injured (among them children).

As Gisha, the human rights NGO focused on freedom of movement in Gaza, writes, 'Israel's working assumption is that choking Gaza's economy and closing its borders to the passage of people will achieve the political objectives it wants. According to this theory, political objectives are to be achieved by exerting pressure on 1.4 million women, men and children, whose suffering is to bring out the desired change – toppling Hamas control in Gaza. In reality, a policy of collective punishment is being imposed upon 1.4 million people, in violation of international humanitarian law and, in effect, in clear contradiction of Israel's interests' (see Gisha, Commercial Closure: Deleting Gaza's Economy from the Map (2007)).

Ha'aretz reports that militants fired at the IDF and so they responded. However, Al-Jazeera and Hamas report differently - they say it was a 2,000 strong demonstration by Palestinian protesters demanding an end to the siege on Gaza as the international community has remained largely silent about it. It seems that the policy of violently silencing dissent and truth continues - look to my previous post on Israeli police opening fire and assaulting peaceful Palestinian demonstrators (citizens of Israel) on May 8 in Safuriya ahead of Nakba Day commemorations.

The question is, how sustainable is such violent suppression?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Israeli Police Violence Against Arab Protesters and Journalists in Safuriya

On May 8, the Palestinian Arab community in Israel marched into the destroyed village of Safuriyya ahead of the Nakba commemoration ceremonies to affirm the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Although the march went on without interference, as it drew to a close police began using force on the protesters and journalists, including two journalists from CNN and Al-Arabiya. Please see the following video from al-Arz Productions telling the story.

Haaretz reports that Palestinians instigated the clashes by throwing rocks at the police, however there are counter reports based on first hand accounts that this was because of police violently shoving peaceful protesters. Furthermore, how did that justify in any way the brutal beatings, arrests and the firing of tear gas on innocent bystanders (including children) and journalists? Arab MKs Wasel Taha and Mohammad Barakeh were also assaulted by the police. This is the first protest in my recent memory where the cops have used force on peaceful protesters.

May 16 Update: Jonathan Cook, who was at the demo, has written about it on Electronic Intifada - 'The Nakba March'.