Wednesday marked one year since the ceasefire that ended Israel’s unprecedented seven-week assault on the Gaza Strip. On the occasion of this week’s anniversary, an international coalition of 35 NGOs issued a new call for the end of Israel’s blockade.
“For a whole year the Israeli government has restricted basic and essential construction materials from entering Gaza,” stated the aid groups, who noted that “not one of the 19,000 homes that were bombed and destroyed has been fully rebuilt”.
A petition launched by the NGOs on the Avaaz online community – “World Leaders: Lift the Gaza Blockade” – had, at the time of writing, already attracted 538,000 signatures. Read more
In 2004, I wrote an article about the story of Nabil Saba, a man from Beit Jala whose family was expelled in the early 1970s to make way for the Israeli settlement of Har Gilo. When I first spoke to him some 11 years ago, confiscation of land for the Apartheid Wall was well underway.
“The Wall has taken the land from the people of Beit Jala”, Nabil told me. “They have put us all in a prison. There is no land left for Beit Jala. We are in cantons, ghettoes, now.”
Visiting Beit Jala last week, this grim assessment is only confirmed. There is no more room. If people are building, they are building up; the price of land and property continues to rise, and the town, like so many other communities in Palestine, has no solution to apartheid’s tightening noose. Read more
Etgar Keret, according to some, is “the most loved and widely read Israeli writer working today.” Hailed as “one of the most prominent Israeli writers on the international literary scene”, Keret has recently published a memoir, his first non-fiction book following five short story collections.
To mark its release, Keret is doing the media rounds, where a recurring theme has been, in the words of The Guardian, “the difficulties faced by the Israeli left.” In fact, the real ‘difficulties’ faced by the so-called Israeli left are all self-inflicted – as Keret himself ably demonstrates. Read more
The day after the Iran deal was concluded in Vienna, Labour MP Ian Austin accused UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond of backing an “absolutely terrible deal” that had left “people…utterly dismayed in Tel Aviv”. Hammond’s response was blunt, and worth quoting in full:
The question we have to ask is what kind of a deal would have been welcomed in Tel Aviv. The answer, of course, is that Israel does not want any deal with Iran. It wants a permanent state of stand-off, which I do not believe is in the interests of the region or in our interest.
It was a brief exchange – but a telling one. For here was a Conservative foreign secretary telling Parliament in no uncertain terms that not only does Israel want “permanent” conflict with Tehran, but that, on this occasion at least, Israel’s perceived strategic interests diverge from those of the UK. Read more
On Sunday, an undercover unit of Israel’s Border Police conducted an arrest raid in Shuafat refugee camp, an area of Occupied East Jerusalem locked behind the Separation Wall.
Encountering resistance from local residents, the undercover forces requested assistance, and a large number of uniformed Israeli forces entered the camp. The police, in order to “extract the undercover unit and the detainee”, deployed “tear gas, sponge-tipped bullets and stun grenades.”
Nafaz Damiri was shopping in Shuafat when the raid took place. As he stood taking shelter inside a supermarket, Israeli forces shot him in the face with a sponge bullet. The 55-year-old husband and father of one, who was born deaf and dumb, has now lost his right eye. Read more
Just over a decade ago, there was no such thing as “BDS”. Many Palestinians and their allies have, of course, urged a boycott of Israel for decades. However, it is the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, launched 10 years ago today, that has proved to be a game-changer. Read more
Over the last two weeks, two Israeli war crimes suspects entered the UK. One, former Israeli minister Tzipi Livni, received diplomatic immunityin dubious circumstances. A second, former Israeli army chief of staff Shaul Mofaz, visited for just 48 hours and left before the authorities acted. These visits have prompted three questions.
The first question is for the FCO. Livni, an opposition MK, came to London to speak at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women International Summit. Since this would have constituted a personal visit, rather than an official one, Livni arranged a meeting with Foreign Office (FCO) minister Tobias Ellwood. The FCO then duly granted the visit ‘special mission’ status, and thus gave Livni immunity from prosecution. Read more
Almost a year on from the beginning of Israel’s ‘Operation Protective Edge’ and the ceasefire that ended hostilities has largely held, albeit with dozens of Israeli attacks on Gaza civilians, the continued blockade, and some half a dozen rocket launches. While the Israeli army and Palestinian factions prepare themselves in the event of a new confrontation, recent developments suggest that Gaza stands between the deterioration of a tense stand-off and a more substantial truce. Read more
In his speech to AIPAC last year, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu referred 18 times to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. A year on, and it is clear that for Bibi, BDS is the new public enemy number one. Denounced as an antisemitic “strategic threat,” the Palestinian-led, global campaign to pressure Israel into ending systematic rights violations is now very much in Tel Aviv’s cross-hairs.
Ironically, it is during Netanyahu’s time in office that BDS has made considerable headway. His ambiguity over Palestinian statehood (in public, veering between rejection and unreliable endorsement) is exacerbated by the unambiguous views of his hard-right ministers and coalition partners. Then there was the unprecedented bombardment of Gaza, also under Bibi’s watch, and a slew of anti-democratic, hyper-nationalist legislative initiatives. Read more