Israel and the US are trying to prevent publication of a ‘blacklist’ of companies doing business in the West Bank

Israel West BankBusiness Insider/Julie Bort

Josef Federman, Josh Lederman, Jamey Keaten, Business Insider, November 27, 2017

  • Israel and the Trump Administration are working “feverishly” to prevent a database of companies that operate in Israel’s West Bank settlements from being published.
  • Dozens of major names are expected to appear on the list, including 100 local companies and 50 international companies, mostly from the US and Europe.
  • The UN’s top human rights body, the Human Rights Council, ordered the compilation of the database in March 2016.

JERUSALEM (AP) — Weeks ahead of the expected completion of a U.N. database of companies that operate in Israel’s West Bank settlements, Israel and the Trump Administration are working feverishly to prevent its publication.

While Israel is usually quick to brush off U.N. criticism, officials say they are taking the so-called “blacklist” seriously, fearing its publication could have devastating consequences by driving companies away, deterring others from coming and prompting investors to dump shares of Israeli firms. Dozens of major Israeli companies, as well as multinationals that do business in Israel, are expected to appear on the list.

“We will do everything we can to ensure that this list does not see the light of day,” Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Danny Danon, told The Associated Press.

The U.N.’s top human rights body, the Human Rights Council, ordered the compilation of the database in March 2016, calling on U.N. rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein to “investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on Palestinians.”

The international community overwhelmingly considers the settlements, built on occupied land claimed by the Palestinians for a future state, to be illegal. Israel rejects such claims, citing the land’s strategic and religious significance, and says the matter should be resolved in negotiations.

Israeli officials say that about 100 local companies that operate in the West Bank and east Jerusalem have received warning letters that they will be on the list. In addition, some 50 international companies, mostly American and European, also have been warned.

The companies have not been publicly identified, but one official said they include Israeli banks, supermarkets, restaurant chains, bus lines and security firms, as well as international giants that provide equipment or services used to build or maintain settlements. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.

The only company to confirm receiving a warning letter has been Bezeq, Israel’s national telephone company. Bezeq’s chief executive, Stella Handler, posted a copy of the letter sent by Zeid’s office in September on her Facebook page. It accused Bezeq of using West Bank land for infrastructure, providing phone and Internet services to settlements and operating sales offices in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Handler angrily wrote that Bezeq provides service to all customers, regardless of race or where they live.

“The council’s bias against Israel is so extreme that it has lost all relevance in the world,” she wrote. “We will not cooperate with a move that is all in all anti-Israeli propaganda.”

But hours later, Handler removed the post, saying she had done so at the request of the government. The Israeli official confirmed the government has asked companies not to speak about the issue. Bezeq declined comment.

Israel has long accused the United Nations, and particularly the rights council, of being biased against it.

Israel is the only country that faces an examination of its rights record at each of the council’s three sessions each year. Some 70 resolutions, or about quarter of the council’s country-specific resolutions, have been aimed at Israel. That is nearly triple the number for the second-place country: Syria, where hundreds of thousands have been killed in a devastating six-year civil war.

Israeli leaders and many non-governmental groups also complain that some of the world’s worst violators of human rights, including Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Congo and Cuba, sit on the council.

Continue reading

Last Month for Gaza Lights!

Our campaign to provide 50 “Gaza Lights” systems to families in Rafah is into its last month. We have almost raised the $4700 cost of the project. Thanks to those who have given so far. Details on the campaign here:

If you are looking for a good Halloween decoration, we are offering special Halloween-themed “Spooky Luci” Lights for sale again this year. (Luci Lights are a bright solar-powered light that in the past we have helped the Rebuilding Alliance send to Gaza children.) We have about 20 of the Halloween version left and all proceeds from any that we sell before Halloween this year will go to the Gaza Lights campaign.

“Spooky Luci” lights (3 styles)

The prices are $15 for one, $25 for two or $35 for three. Right now all three patterns are available, but that may not last, so if you are interested you need to hurry!

If you would like to purchase any of these lights, please send an e-mail to Kathy Walsh, madderhorn17 at outlook.com, or call her at 608-278-0483. She can arrange for pickup or delivery in the Madison area.

As always, thanks for your support!

Halfway There: Help us Send “Gaza Lights” to Rafah!

HELP US RESPOND TO GAZA’S ELECTRICITY CRISIS

A big thanks to those who have helped us get past the halfway point in our campaign to supply rechargeable household “Gaza Lights” to poor families in Rafah.

If you haven’t contributed, we can really use your help to meet our goal.

The electricity crisis in Gaza has reached unprecedented and unbearable heights, with power now reduced to 2-4 hours per day.

While only an end to the Israeli occupation and blockade can provide a lasting solution, in the meantime the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project is partnering with the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) to provide families in Rafah with a “Gaza Lights” unit — a rechargeable household system created by a team of volunteer Gaza engineers that takes advantage of the short hours of electrical service to charge a battery, which can then power lights, fans, and phones for twelve hours.

These “Gaza Lights” are produced quickly in Gaza and distributed to needy families by MECA and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.


Amal and the Sketch Engineering Team assemble Gaza Lights systems

MRSCP has committed to raise funds supply 50 of these systems; we are just over half way to our goal of $4700. We need to raise the rest by mid-November. Please help us reach this goal! Your contribution of just $11 will give one family in Rafah 3 lights for their home. $20 buys them a fan, $31 a rechargeable battery, $91 a complete system.

To contribute to this campaign, send a check made out to “MRSCP” and marked “Gaza Lights” to

    MRSCP
    P.O. Box 5214
    Madison WI 53705

You can also contribute online at MECA’s site Gaza Lights for Rafah.

Your contribution to this campaign is tax-deductible; if you contribute on line, you will receive a receipt from MECA. If you send a check to MRSCP, we will provide you a receipt at the end of the year.

As always, thanks for your support.

More
Gaza Lights Campaign
As temperatures soar, desperate Gazans try any means to beat heat, Reuters, July 27, 2017
How Israel’s 10-Year Blockade Brought Gaza to the Brink of Collapse, The Nation, July 7, 2017

Gaza Unlocked Stories: Ismael Ramlawi

Electricity

Ismael Ramlawi, 31 — American Friends Service Committee

"They have power cuts four or five times every day, which means we lose at least 1 hour of production."

At our factory, we produce plastic pipes for use in agricultural irrigation and construction using recycled plastic. Production depends on a regular supply of electricity. It takes two hours for the machines we use to heat up to the temperature needed to start production. Once they are heated, we can use them for at least 24 hours nonstop if we have power. But in the current situation, we only have eight hours of electricity at most each day, meaning we can’t produce our product for more than six hours per day.

And the power supply is also uneven. Although we are supposed to have eight hours of power each day, the power often goes off for 30 minutes, one hour, or two hours during that period. When the power goes off, we lose some of the product we are producing, and it takes 15 minutes to switch to a generator and reheat the equipment so we can restart production.

They have power cuts four or five times every day, which means we lose at least one hour of production due to power cuts. We can therefore only produce goods for three or four hours every day because there is no regular electrical supply.

Businesses can’t function without reliable electricity, increasing unemployment & destabilizing the economy.

 
Donate to the MRSCP’s Gaza Lights for Rafah Campaign

Help unlock Gaza: Contact Congress today, and urge them to take action to end the blockade.


The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace, and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the Quaker belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

American Friends Service Committee

1501 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
gazaunlocked@afsc.org

Continue reading

Gaza Unlocked Stories: Firas Ramlawi

  Education Electricity

Firas Ramlawi, 38 — American Friends Service Committee

"Classrooms are crowded, class times are shortened, and schools don’t have resources."

Take action today: Restore power to Gaza

On education
Before 2000, 90 percent of schools in Gaza ran on single shifts. Now nearly all schools run on double shifts, and a few schools have run on triple shifts during emergency situations. The morning shift runs from 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., and the afternoon shift runs from 12 p.m. to 4:30 pm. The shifts are shorter during the winter when there is less daylight. This is because of the lack of electricity. You can’t go to school in the dark.

Two shifts is not good. I have four children in school, and dealing with their days takes up all of my wife’s time from 5 a.m. until 6 p.m. The first two kids must be at school for the first shift, and the second two for the second shift. We are constantly moving children. This impacts how your homework is planned, how meals are planned, how sleep schedules are planned. There is no social life or time outside for my wife. She is going from morning until night.

The 2014 attack on Gaza damaged 252 schools. Educational facilities are protected spaces under international law.

Education is also negatively impacted as classrooms are crowded, class times are shortened, and schools don’t have resources.

We need more schools in Gaza, but they can’t be built because of the blockade.

On electricity
We have a good relationship with batteries in Gaza. At home we have batteries for our lights. We have a battery for our fridge. We have batteries for hand lights to use in the stairs when the power is out. I bought an extra battery for my computer, and we have spare batteries and chargers for our phones. We spend around $1,000 per year just on batteries. We can’’ afford this, but how else do you live with only six or eight hours of electricity?

When we sleep, we plug everything in in case the electricity comes on. Then everything will charge. Yesterday the power came on in the middle of the night. My wife got up and started ironing, cooking, doing the wash, and more. She was doing four things at once. It was crazy, but she finished everything. You do what you can when the power is on.

Continue reading

Gaza Unlocked Issues: Electricity

Gaza Unlocked Issues: Electricity — American Friends Service Committee

Gaza’s power system is at risk of collapse. In 2006, the Israeli military bombed Gaza’s only power plant, destroying its six transformers. Under the blockade, the power plant can’t import parts to replace damaged components. Temporary fixes have allowed the plant to function at a minimal level, but those solutions were never made to last.

Other factors have exacerbated the power crisis, including a halt in smuggled fuel from Egypt in 2013, the destruction of fuel storage tanks and other structures at the plant by Israeli airstrikes in 2014, and the destruction of infrastructure and distribution networks throughout Gaza. Since April 2017, the Gaza power plant has been offline due to limited fuel imports, further limiting electricity in Gaza.

While Gaza’s electrical grid is linked with the Israeli system, Israel limits how much power it sells to Gaza, and existing power lines can only supply a fraction of Gaza’s total needs.

Today, less than one-third of Gaza’s electricity demand is being met. Rolling blackouts leave Palestinians in Gaza with less than four hours of electricity per day—affecting the health and well-being of residents; jeopardizing critical services, such as hospitals, schools, and water sanitation; and making it impossible for businesses to function.

Ending the blockade is crucial to address the power crisis, but it will not improve the situation immediately. Even if new parts could be imported and additional infrastructure could be built, it would take up to five years for the system to reach a point where current needs could be met.

People in Gaza have no more than 4 hours of electricity per day.

Why Gaza can't count on electricity

 Download our fact sheet

Quick Facts

  • The Gaza power plant operates at less than one-third of its capacity and has regularly had to shut down, due to fuel shortages, caused by fuel costs and Israeli limitations on importing fuel.

  • Because of the limited power supply, over 70 percent of Gaza households have access to piped water for only six to eight hours once every two to four days.

  • Since 2010, at least 29 people—24 of them children—have died in Gaza from fires or suffocation directly linked to power outages.

    Continue reading

Help Us Respond to Gaza’s Electricity Crisis


 
Gaza Lights for Rafah Campaign

The electricity crisis in Gaza has reached unprecedented heights, with power now reduced to 2 to 4 hours per day (see Desperate Palestinians Try to Beat Heat and Israeli Blockade Bringing Gaza to Collapse). It is causing terrible suffering for ordinary people there.

Without electricity sewage goes untreated into the sea. Water doesn’t get pumped to high rise apartments or rural areas. Everything has to be done in the dark — cooking, eating, caring for babies and those who are sick or old. Food rots in refrigerators. No fans cool the stifling Gaza summer heat. Children can’t read, and students can’t study. Candles have caused death and injury in tragic house fires. Hospital and home health equipment can’t function.

While only an end to the Israeli occupation and blockade can provide a lasting solution, in the meantime you can help us ameliorate the suffering of poor families in Rafah.

Madison-Rafah Sister City Project is once again partnering with the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) to provide families in Rafah with a “Gaza Lights” unit — a rechargeable household system created by a team of volunteer Gaza engineers that takes advantage of the short hours of electrical service to charge a battery, which can then power lights, fans and phones for twelve hours.

These “Gaza Lights” systems will be produced quickly in Gaza and distributed to needy families by MECA and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.


Amal and the Sketch Engineering Team assemble Gaza Lights systems

MRSCP has committed funds to buy 10 of these systems. We need to raise $3,640 to purchase & install 40 more by the end of November. Please help us reach this goal! Your contribution of just $11 will give one family in Rafah 3 lights for their home. $20 buys them a fan; $31 a rechargeable battery; $91 a complete system.

$4,934 of $4,700 105%

Over the top!

To contribute to this campaign, send a check made out to “MRSCP” and marked “Gaza Lights” to

    MRSCP
    P.O. Box 5214
    Madison WI 53705

Continue reading