December 15, 2017 Update:
Hebron Playground


Hi everyone,

I went to Hebron yesterday and helped with the installation of the playground. They were supposed to continue today but working on Saturday is a bit risky because of the settlers. See attached some pics. 2 international volunteers were also helping us.

Best,
Samir


Fall fundraising appeal from MRSCP, October 6, 2016
Remembering Rachel Corrie, March 22, 2016

Take Action: Palestinian leader’s son abducted by Israel

This is how Israel marked Human Rights Day. Please call the following (ask for the foreign policy aide) to intervene on behalf of Abdul Khalik Burnat with the U.S. State Department:

    Sen. Baldwin, Madison: 608-264-5338
    Sen. Baldwin, DC: 202-224-5653

    Rep. Pocan, Madison: 608-258-9800
    Rep. Pocan, DC: 202-225-2906
    (Pocan is a signer of HR 4391 on Palestinian children)

    Sen. Johnson, Madison: 608-240-9629
    Sen. Johnson, DC: 202-224-5323

A call to action from Al-Awda NY, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, and Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network

Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, 12 December 2017

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Abdul-Khalik Burnat, 17 years old, the son of Palestinian activist Iyad Burnat, an active leader of the Nonviolent Resistance Movement in the Palestinian village of Bil’in, was kidnapped, beaten and detained on the night of December 10, 2017 while getting pizza along with his friends Hamzah Al-Khatib and Malik Rahdi.

Their whereabouts were unknown until Abdul-Khalik’s mother and father recently learned that he and his friends are in Ofer Prison near the city of Ramallah.

Abdul-Khalik’s village of Bil’in is heavily targeted by Zionist colonizing forces for arrests, repression and persecution, especially because the people of the village continually and consistently organize well-coordinated weekly peaceful demonstrations which include visits and support from international activists to defend their land from illegal Israeli settlements and the infamous apartheid Wall.

Abdul-Khalik is a senior in high school. He was focused on completing his finals before his kidnapping. He is planning on going to college abroad after graduating high school.

This is not the first time that Abdul Khalik has been targeted by Israeli colonizing forces. The last time was in January of 2017, when he was shot with a rubber bullet in his head. They also detained him in another night-time raid in March 2017, while he was under treatment for his injuries.

Iyad Burnat’s family has been repeatedly targeted and injured by the Israeli Occupation Forces. Burnat states, “All this violence that they use against me and my family is trying to stop us from what we’re doing [Nonviolent resistance].”

Abdul Khalik’s court date is this upcoming Thursday December 14, 2017. This arbitrary hearing is crucial and likely to determine whether to extend their detention (for interrogation), impose an administrative detention order or put charges in the military courts.

The family of Abdul-Khalik Burnat have urged international action and publicity to help them obtain justice for their son and his immediate release.

**

Unfortunately, Abdul-Khalik’s story is all too common. Every year, over 700 Palestinian children face military trials and military imprisonment at the hand of Israeli occupation soldiers. Palestinian children are subject to torture and abuse under interrogation, arbitrary military trials, denial of their right to education, physical and psychological violence and imprisonment without charge or trial on a regular basis.

Israel’s impunity and gross violations of the rights of Palestinian children continue with the silence and complicity of governments around the world, including the U.S. government that not only provides $3 billion in military funding each year to the Israeli occupation state but also recently declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel, putting its stamp of approval on ethnic cleansing, settlement construction, land confiscation and blatant violation of international law.

Canada and Europe continue to maintain free trade pacts and association agreements with the Israeli occupation. It’s time for real international pressure to defend Palestinian children like Abdul-Khalik Burnat – and all Palestinians – from apartheid, war crimes and brutal, racist injustice.

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December 12, 2017
Beyond One State, Two State

Creative Solutions to the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Dr. Johan Galtung
Professor and Founder of Transcend International
Livestream from The Palestine Center
Washington, DC
11:00 pm – 1:00 pm CST

Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Dr. Johan Galtung will discuss alternatives to the one-state, two-state solutions for Israel-Palestine.

A sociologist and mathematician by profession, Galtung is recognized as the ‘founding father’ of peace studies and conflict transformation as a scientific discipline. He founded the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (1959), the world’s first academic research center focused on peace studies, as well as the influential Journal of Peace Research (1964). He is currently the president of the Galtung-Institut for Peace Theory & Peace Practice.

In addition to being a frequent Nobel Peace Prize nominee, he is also winner of the Right Livelihood award, which is the alternative Nobel. He has negotiated with many heads of state, inspired the idea of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe – the OSCE, and has helped resolve many conflicts from families to nations to regions.

More on Dr. Johan Galtung and Transcend International

What’s The Deal With Jerusalem, Anyway?

 
Sana Saeed, AJ+, June 11, 2017

Jerusalem is arguably the most contentious city in history. From the Crusades to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, a lot of civilizations and peoples have tried to claim the land. But the recent history of Jerusalem has made the city more than just contentious – it’s made it one of the greatest symbols of modern conflict, at the heart of the 50-year-long Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Learn more here:
• United Nations, “The Plan of Partition and the End of the British Mandate”
• Al Jazeera America, “Who Owns Jerusalem?”
• Time, “Why Jerusalem Isn’t Viewed as Israel’s Capital”

The Palestinian Right to Jerusalem Is an International Law that Cannot Be Taken Away

Position Paper: A Grant of Recognition from those who do not own to those who do not deserve

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), December 7, 2017

Baflour Declaration Recurs
In a dangerous precedent that violates the international law, on Wednesday, the US President, Donald Trump, declared that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the American Embassy will be removed to it, signing an order of this.  The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the irresponsible statements by the US President and emphasizes that Jerusalem’s legal status as part of the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) codified in the international law according to the resolutions adopted by the UN and International Court of Justice (ICJ) and recognition of an overwhelming majority of the world’s States. 154 States voted in favor of recognizing the state of Palestine on the territory occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem.

PCHR believes that the declaration represents granting recognition from those who do not own to those who do not deserve as if the history repeats itself to bring out a new “Balfour Declaration in the centennial of the old declaration but by an American tongue this time.  PCHR stresses that the Palestinian right to Jerusalem is an international law that cannot be changed by political statements and measures, adding that the declaration convicts its issuer, making him a criminal at the international level and a big shame to the free world.

PCHR emphasizes that Trump’s declaration explicitly violates the international law, Security Council Resolutions, and Geneva Conventions, and constitutes two crimes.  The first crime is a crime of aggression against the Palestinian State as the declaration supports and upholds the annexation of lands using force.  The second crime is a war crime as the declaration is considered as a complicity in the Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, including Jerusalem.

In his comment, Lawyer Raji Sourani, PCHR’s Director, said that, “This decision is an explicit call for imposing the rule of jungle and de facto policy in addition to completely flouting the international law and UN’s role… This declaration also gives political legitimacy for the Israeli crimes and affects the history, present and future of the Palestinian people.”

This development came in light of the current US administration’s systematic policy of denying the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and attempting to close down the Palestinian cause.  This policy started with supporting the settlement expansion, which was explicitly expressed by the American administration in many events, through being deliberately silent to condemn it or through frankly speaking that settlements belong to Israel and denying they are an occupied territory. In addition, the huge pressures practiced by the US on the UN Bodies, Intentional Criminal Court (ICC) and the Palestinian leadership to deprive the Palestinians of resorting to the International Justice.  This was a position expressed by the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, when she said that, “the days of Israel bashing at the UN are over.”  And finally, the Us Administration’s aggression on the Palestinian territory came to end practically the Peace efforts and the two-state solution.

It should be mentioned that 13 States had embassies in Jerusalem until 1970s without recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  However, the US was not among those States as it only had a Consulate in Jerusalem that refers to the US Embassy in Tel Aviv.  Those 13 States then moved their embassies from Jerusalem to other cities in Israel, especially following the Security Council’s Resolutions No. 476 and 478, which both condemn Israel’s attempted annexation of Jerusalem.

It is noteworthy that the US Congress recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in 1995, and the US President recommended in his decision at that time to issue an official declaration to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.  Since then, the US Presidents continued to delay the embassy move until today when the US President Trump dared to issue the declaration in violation of the international law and disregard for the international peace and life of many innocents that would be endangered due to provoking feelings of millions of Muslims and Christians around the world.

Explicit Violation of UN Resolutions

The Security Council issued 12 resolutions that emphasize Jerusalem is a territory occupied by the Israeli authorities.  Eight of them stipulate that all measures and changes in the legal status of the city are not lawful and the Israeli forces shall be withdrawn from it.  The four other resolutions call upon Israel to withdraw from the territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem. The first of them was the Security Council’s Resolution 242.

Of those resolutions directly relevant to Jerusalem is the Security Council’s Resolution 476 in 1980 that Calls upon Israel to withdraw from the occupied territory, including Jerusalem, emphasizing any change to the status and character of Jerusalem has no legal validity.

In the same year, Resolution 478 was adopted to condemn Israel’s Basic Law which declared Jerusalem to be Israel’s “complete and united” capital, constituting a violation of international law and not affecting the continued application of the Geneva Convention on the City as an occupied territory.  The Resolution also condemned all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of Jerusalem are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith.

One of the latest and most prominent resolutions condemning settlements in the oPt, including Jerusalem, was Resolution 2334 in 2016, which states that Israeli settlement activity constitutes a “flagrant violation” of international law and has “no legal validity” in addition to undermining the peace process and two-state solution.  The Resolution also calls upon all States to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.  It is noteworthy that this Resolution passed in a 14–0 vote by members of the UN Security Council with the US abstention.  This Resolution is considered the fifth of its kind affirming and condemns Israel’s commission of the settlement activity crime.

In its Advisory Opinion on the Annexation wall in 2004, the ICJ affirms that the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including Jerusalem, are occupied territories according to the international law.  On this basis, the ICJ’s Resolution came to affirm that the wall has no legal validity as it cuts off parts of the Palestinian territory.

The General Assembly also adopted many resolutions affirming that Israel has no right to Jerusalem as it is an occupying power. The first of these resolutions was Resolution 303 in 1949, which condemns Israel’s declaration of Jerusalem as its capital.

following the Israeli Six Day War in 1967 on the Arab countries and occupying part of them, including the Gaza Strip and West Bank, The General Assembly adopted Resolution 2253 which denounces the application of the Israeli Law in East Jerusalem.  Following this, Resolution 1536 was adopted in 1981 to consider any change to the status of Jerusalem is illegal.

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Gaza City in the spotlight: hesitant hope in a city where everyone still wants out

As the UN’s day of solidarity with Palestinians nears, Gazans have restored a hesitant bustle

Miriam Berger, The Guardian, Saturday 25 November 2017

Fishermen off the coast of Gaza City, which is home to a 5,000-year-old port. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian
Fishermen off the coast of Gaza City, which is home to a 5,000-year-old port. (David Levene, The Guardian)

Today Medinat Ghazzah, or Gaza City, is running on empty – and yet still going. Gaza City, the Gaza Strip’s principal urban centre, carries various scars of war. Since 2006, Gaza has endured one civil war between Palestinians, three wars between the ruling Hamas militant group and Israel, a decade of Hamas’ repressive rule, and a crushing blockade by neighbouring Israel and Egypt – all of which have crippled the economy and turned the tiny territory into a site of humanitarian crisis.

Gaza City’s dusty buildings and bumpy roads, many still damaged or half-rebuilt from the last war, are at times reminiscent of facades found in Egypt and the Palestinian West Bank. But it is the crushing monotony and suffocating limits of life that define the city for residents who have walked the same streets for a decade without a chance of getting out. Still, the city carries on, with coffee shops, traffic, clothes stores, restaurants and even a new upscale mall offering diversions for those who can afford them.

Palestinians attend Friday noon prayer beneath the fallen minaret during the 2014 war.Palestinians attend Friday noon prayer beneath the fallen minaret during the 2014 war.

The city’s framework, like the rest of Gaza, is innately tied up with politics. Gaza was once part of Britain’s Mandate Palestine. Then came Egyptian occupation in 1948, followed by Israeli in 1967. Now, for the last decade, Hamas, which the European Union has designated as terrorist group, has ruled the tiny territory while Israel controls most borders.

Limited visitors

This month – on 29 November – brings the United Nations international day of solidarity with Palestinians. Gazans, however, don’t see much of the international community these days. That’s in part because Israel strictly limits entry to the Gaza Strip, with mainly journalists (Israelis and Palestinians excluded) and aid and development workers allowed through. Even then, UN bodies and NGOs working in Gaza constrain much of the movement of their foreign staff due to security protocols. Along Gaza City’s highly polluted coast are two expensive hotels that are considered the “safe zone” where aid workers and many journalists stay.

The five-star Arcmed al-Mashta Hotel, built in 2011The five-star Arcmed al-Mashta Hotel, built in 2011

Facing an ineffective and corrupt government, the UN and NGOs have stepped in. Gazans are grateful – but know they can do better and mistrust the politics that dictates where funds are directed. Around much of Gaza are signs thanking Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates for funding reconstruction projects. But the Arab countries have pledged far more for reconstruction than they’ve actually delivered, while many Gazans feel acutely abandoned by the Arab states and international community, and know new buildings still go first to those with Hamas connections.

Gaza City in numbers

40 – rank of Gaza city in 2014 list of most densely populated cities worldwide. At the time, the population of Gaza City and surrounding area was estimated at 750,000.

360 – square kilometers covered by the Gaza Strip, about the size of Detroit.

80 – percentage of families in Gaza who receive some sort of aid.

44 – percentage official unemployment rate in Gaza; for those aged 15-29, the rate rises to 60%.

3 – number of hours of electricity generated by Gaza’s only working electricity plant at a severe low point this summer. For the last few years Gaza has averaged around at most eight hours a day of electricity.

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