Briefing Paper April 2010

Justice cannot wait for peace to be secured. Rather no credible lasting peace can be built upon impunity and injustice.                                                                                                                                                                                                UN Fact Finding Mission, Beit Hanoun, 2008

. . . . if we stopped distracting ourselves with the Holy Grail of the two-state solution, we might channel our energies into something more useful: discrediting Israel as a Jewish state, and the ideology of Zionism that upholds it. Eventually the respectable facade of Zionism might crumble. And without Zionism, the obstacle to creating either one or two states will finally be removed.                                                                                                     Disappearing Palestine Jonathan Cook (p.251)

Killed by Israeli forces while demonstrating against the Israeli wall being built on Palestinian land

5 June 2009: Yousef ‘Akil’ Tsadik Srour, 36

Shot in the chest with 0.22 calibre live ammunition during a demonstration against the Wall in Ni’lin.

April 17, 2009: Basem Abu Rahme, age 29

Shot in the chest with a high-velocity tear gas projectile during a demonstration against the Wall in Bil’in.

December 28, 2008: Mohammad Khawaja, age 20

Shot in the head with live ammunition during a demonstration in Ni’lin against Israel’s assault on Gaza. Mohammad died in the hospital on December 31, 2009.

December 28, 2008: Arafat Khawaja, age 22

Shot in the back with live ammunition in Ni’lin during a demonstration against Israel’s assault on Gaza.

July 30, 2008: Youssef Ahmed Younes Amirah, age 17

Shot in the head with rubber coated bullets during a demonstration against the Wall in Ni’lin. Youssef died of his wounds on August 4, 2008.

July 29, 2008: Ahmed Husan Youssef Mousa, age 10

Shot dead while he and several friends tried to remove coils of razor wire from land belonging to the village in Ni’lin.

March 2, 2008: Mahmoud Muhammad Ahmad Masalmeh, age 15

Shot dead when trying to cut the razor wire portion of the Wall in Beit Awwa.

March 28, 2007: Muhammad Elias Mahmoud ‘Aweideh, age 15

Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Um a-Sharayet – Samiramis.

February 2, 2007: Taha Muhammad Subhi al-Quljawi, age 16

Shot dead when he and two friends tried to cut the razor wire portion of the Wall in the Qalandiya Refugee Camp. He was wounded in the thigh and died from blood loss after remaining in the field for a long time without treatment.

May 4, 2005: Jamal Jaber Ibrahim ‘Asi, age 15

Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Beit Liqya.

May 4, 2005: U’dai Mufid Mahmoud ‘Asi, age 14

Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Beit Liqya.

February 15, 2005: ‘Alaa’ Muhammad ‘Abd a-Rahman Khalil, age 14.

Shot dead while throwing stones at an Israeli vehicle driven by private security guards near the Wall in Betunya.

April 18, 2004: Islam Hashem Rizik Zhahran, age 14

Shot during a demonstration against the Wall in Deir Abu Mash’al. Islam died of his wounds April 28, 2004.

April 18, 2004: Diaa’ A-Din ‘Abd al-Karim Ibrahim Abu ‘Eid, age 23

Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Biddu.

April 16, 2004: Hussein Mahmoud ‘Awad ‘Alian, age 17

Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Betunya.

February 26, 2004: Muhammad Da’ud Saleh Badwan, age 21

Shot during a demonstration against the Wall in Biddu. Muhammad died of his wounds on March 3, 2004.

February 26, 2004: Abdal Rahman Abu ‘Eid, age 17

Died of a heart attack after teargas projectiles were shot into his home during a demonstration against the Wall in Biddu.

February 26, 2004: Muhammad Fadel Hashem Rian, age 25

Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Biddu.

February 26, 2004: Zakaria Mahmoud ‘Eid Salem, age 28

Shot dead during a demonstration against the Wall in Biddu.

“Show us where the bias is and where the flaw is and we’ll do our best to correct it.” response from Judge Richard Goldstone to a spokesperson from the US State department commenting that the Goldstone Report was biased and flawed.

The Liebarak

Uri Avnery 23/1/10

The business is registered in the name of Binyamin Netanyahu. But the reality is different. Netanyahu has never been more than a slick patent medicine salesman. That is a type that appears frequently in American Westerns and sells an elixir that is good for everything: against the flu and against tuberculosis, against heart attacks and against lunacy. The main weapon of the vendor is his tongue: his stream of words builds castles in the air, blows up glistening bubbles and silences all doubt.

Since the election almost a year ago, his biggest (literally) achievement has been the setting up of a cabinet: 30 ministers and a bunch of deputies, most of them without any perceptible duties, some of them in charge of ministries for which they are the most unsuited of all possible candidates. From then on his main occupation has been the one in which he is most adept: political survival.

In this governmental zoo, the one really important creature is the Liebarak – a two-headed monster that terrifies all the other animals. This animal is 50% Lieberman, 50% Barak, 0% human.

When Lieberman first appeared on the stage, many looked on him with disdain. Such a person, they decided, has no chance in Israeli politics. For ten years, he has been under investigation by the police on suspicion of corruption, receiving money from mysterious foreign sources and more. Moreover, in the eyes of many Israelis, he is the most un-Israeli figure imaginable. They have tagged him permanently as a “new immigrant”, even though he has been here for over 30 years. They consider his outward appearance, body language and dialect as blatantly “un-Israeli”, belonging to someone who is “not one of us”. How can Israelis vote for such a person?

Lieberman is a settler based in Nokdim, a settlement near Bethlehem, and the settlers are not popular in Israel. He is openly racist, a hater of Arabs who despises peace, a man whose declared aim is to rid Israel of the Arabs. True, there is in Israel (as in any country) a lot of silent racism, partly unconscious, but this racism is denied. Israelis – it was believed – will not vote for an outright racist. The last elections put an end to this belief. Lieberman’s party won 15 Knesset seats, two more than Barak’s party, and became the third biggest Knesset faction. Not a few “real” Israeli youngsters, Sabras through and through, voted for him. They saw him as a good address for their protest vote.

The establishment was not too upset. OK, so there was a protest vote. In every Israeli election campaign, there appears an election list from nowhere that wilts the next day, like the gourd of the prophet Jonah. Where are they all now? But Lieberman is not General Yigael Yadin, who created the Dash party, or Tommy Lapid, the leader of Shinui. He is a man of brutal power, lacking any scruples, a man ready to appeal – as Joseph Goebbels put it – to the most primitive instincts of the masses.

We may yet see in Israel a coalition of all the malcontents and the angry, as the Bible says about David when he fled from King Saul: “And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves around him, and he became a captain over them.” (1 Samuel 22:2). Lieberman’s home turf is the community of immigrants from the former Soviet Union who have not been absorbed into Israeli society and who live in a spiritual and social ghetto. They may be joined by other sectors: the settlers, the Oriental Jews who feel that the Likud betrayed them, young people who see him as a man who expresses openly what they believe in secret: that the Arabs should be expelled from the state, and from the entire country. Lieberman’s un-Israeli appearance may yet turn out to be an advantage for him. A person who is so un-Israeli may become the ideal leader of a camp united by its hatred of the “elites”, the Supreme Court, the police, the media and the other pillars of Israeli democracy.                           The police investigations, too, may elevate him in the eyes of this public. They believe that he is being persecuted by the hypocritical elites. The dark cloud of suspicion did not deter Netanyahu from giving him control of both the Ministry of Police and the Ministry of Justice, the two ministries charged with upholding the rule of law, which are now under the direction of his lackeys. This danger should not be underrated. Other historical leaders of his ilk were at first considered clowns and ridiculed, before they came to power and wrought havoc.

But the second head of the Liebarak is more dangerous than the first. The danger of Lieberman lies in the future. The danger of Ehud Barak is immediate and real. This week, Barak did something that should turn on a another red light. On the demand of Lieberman, Barak accorded the Settlers’ college in Ariel the status of a university. Unlike the “foreign” Lieberman, Barak comes from the epicentre of old-time Israel. He grew up in a kibbutz, was a commander in the elite “General Staff commando” and speaks perfect Hebrew with the right intonation. As a former Chief of Staff and a present Minister of Defence, he represents the might of the most formidable sector in Israel: the army.

Lieberman has not yet succeeded in hurting the chances of peace, except by talking. Barak has acted. I once called him a “peace criminal”, in contradistinction to a “war criminal” – though nowadays many would accord him this distinction, too. The fatal blow dealt by Barak to the chances of peace came after the 2000 Camp David conference. To recount briefly: when he was elected in 1999 with a landslide majority, on the wave of enthusiasm of the peace camp and with the help of clear peace slogans (“Education instead of Settlements!”), he induced Presidents Bill Clinton and Yasser Arafat to meet him at a summit conference. In a typical mixture of arrogance and ignorance, he believed that if he offered the Palestinians the chance to found a Palestinian state, they would give up all their other claims. His offers were indeed more far-reaching than those of his predecessors, but still far from the minimum acceptable to Palestinians. The conference failed.

Coming home from Camp David, he did not make the usual announcement (“Much progress has been achieved and negotiations will continue…”), nor an unusual one (“Sorry, I was wrong, I had no idea!”) Rather, he coined a mantra that has since become the centre of the national consensus: “I have turned every stone on the way to peace / I have offered the Palestinians everything they could ask for / They have rejected everything / We Have No Partner For Peace.” This declaration by the leader of the Labour Party, who often calls himself “the head of the peace camp”, dealt a mortal blow to the Israeli peace forces, who had hoped so much from him. The vast majority of the Israelis believe now with all their heart that “we have no partner for peace”. Thereby he opened the way for the ascent to power of Ariel Sharon and Binyamin Netanyahu. Throughout his time in office, Barak established and enlarged settlements. On his orders, the Commanding Officer of Central Command issued a permit for a radio station of the settlers (which has lately started to broadcast, after a long delaying fight by Gush Shalom against it.) In this respect, too, he has trumped Lieberman. His decision about the Ariel university fits into this pattern.

“Wait a minute!” a sensible person may ask. “What has this to do with Barak? He is the Minister of Defence, isn’t he, and not the Minister of Education!” Ariel is occupied territory. In the occupied territories, the army is the sovereign power. Barak is in charge of the army. The directive to upgrade the Ariel College was given by Barak to the commanding officer. As Yossi Sarid, a former Minister of Education, pointed out, the “Ariel University Centre” is the only civil university in the democratic world set up by the army. An Israeli academic institution has to go a long way before being accorded university status by the competent authorities. There are many colleges in Israel, far more outstanding than the Ariel College, which aspire to this status. In the occupied territories, a general’s approval is enough.

This fact throws light on the unprecedented Israeli invention: the Eternal Occupation. An occupation regime is by its nature a temporary situation. It comes into being when one side in a war conquers territory of the other side. The occupying power is supposed to rule it, under detailed international laws, until the end of the war, when a peace agreement must decide the future of the territory. A war may last some years, at most, and therefore the occupation is a temporary matter. Successive Israeli governments have turned it into a permanent situation.

Why? At the outset of the occupation, the then Minister of Defence, Moshe Dayan, discovered that the occupation is really an ideal situation. It gives the occupier absolute power without any obligation to accord the inhabitants any citizenship rights whatsoever. If Israel were to annex the territories, it would have to decide what to do with the population. That would create an embarrassing situation. The inhabitants of East Jerusalem, which was formally annexed to Israel in 1967, did not receive citizenship, but only the status of ”residents”. Successive Israeli governments have been afraid that the world would not accept a “democratic” state in which a third of the population have no rights.

A status of occupation solves all these problems. The inhabitants of the occupied territories have, de facto, no rights whatsoever – neither national, nor civil, nor human. The Israel government builds settlements wherever it sees fit, also contrary to international law, and now it is setting up a university, too.

The Spanish government has already declared a boycott of the Ariel college and cancelled its participation in an international architectural competition run by Spain. I hope that more governments and academic institutions will follow this example and declare a boycott on this “university”. True, the Liebarak couldn’t care less. This two-headed monster is indifferent to boycotts. But an academic institution cannot be indifferent to a boycott by its peers around the world. And if the Israeli academic community does not rise up against this prostitution of its ideals by the setting up of a university of the settlers under military auspices – it is inviting a boycott on all Israeli universities.

Israeli Supreme Court Rules that Lands Confiscated in Lajoun from 486 Arab Families in 1953 for “Settlement Needs” will not be Returned to Them

Alternative Information Centre 26/01/2010

“The Israeli Supreme Court’s decision affords greater importance to the State of Israel’s man-made forests than to the property rights of Arab citizens of Israel. It also shows that the court’s policy of returning the land moves on two different tracks depending on the nationality of the petitioners: Jewish citizens can recover their confiscated land if it is not used, but as for the Arab citizens of the state, they cannot retrieve their land even if it has not been used for decades.”   Adalah

In its ruling on 4 January 2010 , the Supreme Court of Israel rejected the appeal of 486 Arab families who demanded that land in the destroyed village of Lajoun confiscated from them in 1953 by Israel for “settlement needs” but used for a man-made forest be returned to them. The Arab families are all citizens of Israel and currently reside in Umm el-Fahem located in the center of the country. Adalah Attorneys Suhad Bishara and Adel Badeer, together with the private lawyers, Walid Asliya and Tawfiq Jabareen, submitted the appeal against the Nazareth District Court’s decision of 18 September 2007.

The Supreme Court rejected the main argument put forward by the petitioners against the confiscation, namely, that the land must be returned to its original owners because the state did not use it for “settlement needs” as claimed in the 1953 confiscation order. In its decision, the court ruled that “planting a man-made forest can be considered as a kind of settlement, if we take into account that the presence of green spaces is essential for the welfare of everyone and is part of the general development of the region.” The court added that the piece of land sought by the petitioners is a small parcel of the total area that was confiscated in 1953 and no distinction can be made between the different pieces.

The Supreme Court partially accepted the petitioners’ appeal in that it ordered the case to be sent back to the Nazareth District Court for decision on the issue of ownership between the various parties. The court emphasized that deciding the issue of ownership is necessary for the granting of financial compensation in accordance with the law, and not for the purpose of returning the land to its owners. At a Supreme Court hearing held on this matter in September 2009, Adalah Attorneys Hassan Jabareen and Ala’ Mahajneh together with Walid Asliya argued that the right of property ownership is a constitutional right that is of greater importance than the planting a man-made forest. Further, foresting the land is in itself proof that the land has not been used for any purpose since the confiscation, and therefore should be returned to its original owners. According to Supreme Court precedent, if confiscated land is not used for many years after its confiscation, it should be returned to its original owners. In this case, it is clear that planting a man-made forest is not a use in “service of the public.”

The land at issue is part of the village of Lajoun, which existed before the establishment of the State. These lands are now part of the territory of the Arab town of Umm al-Fahem in the Megiddo junction region and are owned by around 486 families. The area extends to nearly 200 dunams and is known as “plot 20420.” This plot was confiscated from Palestinian citizens of Israel, along with other plots of land on 15 November 1953. The land was expropriated following an order of then-Minister of Finance, Levi Ashkol, in accordance with his powers under Article 2 of the Land Acquisition (Validation of Acts and Compensation) Law – 1953 for “essential settlement and development needs”. Even today, the only use of the land in question has been the establishment of a small facility for the “Mekorot water” company and a forest planted on part of it.

Israel feels under siege. Like a victim. An underdog.

Robert Fisk The Independent

One of the most distressing moments at Herzliya came when Lorna Fitzsimons, former Labour MP and now head of Bicom, a British-based pro-Israeli think-tank, pointed out that `public opinion does not influence foreign policy in Britain. Foreign policy is an elite issue.` Deal with the elite, and the proles will follow – that was the implication. `Our enemies are going out to international courts where we are not supreme,` she said.

Anyone who is anyone in Israel will come to Herzliya this week for a conference about the state of the Jewish nation. Our correspondent joined them and found a climate of unprecedented insecurity – and paranoia.

So the propaganda war is on. Forget Israel`s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the 15,000 Lebanese and Palestinian dead. Forget the Sabra and Shatila massacre that same year by Israel`s militia allies as their troops watched. Erase the Qana massacre of 1996 – 106 Lebanese killed by Israeli shellfire, more than half of them children – and delete the 1,500 in the 2006 Lebanon war. And forget, of course, the more than 1,300 Palestinians slaughtered by Israel in Gaza last year (and the 13 Israelis killed by Hamas at that time) after Hamas rockets fell on Sderot. Israel – if you believe the security elite of Israel`s right wing here in Herzliya – is now under an even more dangerous, near-unprecedented attack.

Britain – this came yesterday from Israel`s ambassador in London, no less – is `a battlefield` in which Israel`s enemies wish to `de-legitimise` the 62-year-old Jewish state. Even Israel`s erstwhile friend, that fine Jewish judge Richard Goldstone, is now, in the words of one of Israel`s staunchest American-Jewish supporters, Al Dershowitz, an `absolute traitor to the Jewish people` and `an evil, evil man`. (Headlines for this, of course, in Israel yesterday.)

Israel the underdog. Israel the victim. Israel whose state-of-the-art, more-moral-than-any-other army was now in danger of seeing its generals arraigned on war crimes charges if they set foot in Europe. Heaven forbid that Israeli officers should ever be accused of atrocities! The Jerusalem Post yesterday carried a photograph of Kadima leader Tzipi Livni looking at a Krakow poster abusing her as `wanted for war crimes in Gaza`. Forget that she did nothing as Foreign Minister when the Israelis rained phosphorus on Gaza. This whole judicial attack on Israel was an abuse, a deliberate use of international law to de-legitimise the state of Israel – like all the other condemnation of Israel. Would that it was. This current identity crisis is indeed a tragedy for Israel – though not in the way that its right-wing government now suggests.

I remember all too well how, after the disastrous Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, a huge London conference sought to find out how Israeli `propaganda` failed. Never mind the slaughter of the Lebanese and the growing Israeli military casualties. How come Israel`s message didn`t get across? How come the anti-Semitic press was allowed to get away with such calumny? It was an identikit forum to this week`s Herzliya confab.

Today we must forget Operation Cast Lead against Gaza and its savage casualties. We must condemn the Goldstone Report for its unspeakable lies – that the army of good may have committed war crimes against the terrorists of evil – and realise that Israel only wanted peace. In reality, Israel has made a series of terrible diplomatic mistakes. I`m not talking about the humiliation heaped on the Turkish ambassador by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon – he, too, was at Herzliya. I`m not referring to the preposterous complaints by Ron Prossor, the Israeli ambassador to Britain, that in times of crisis there was `a cacophony of voices from Israel`, rather than a single voice.

No, Israel`s gravest mistake in recent years was to refuse to contribute to Goldstone`s report on the 2008-09 slaughter in Gaza. A `foolish boycott`, the daily Haaretz called it. A disaster, according to Israel`s liberal left, who rightly spotted that it placed Israel on the level of Hamas.

I have sat through hours of the Herzliya conference – it ends with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu`s cheerleading for the masses tomorrow night – and the Goldstone Report and the fear of `de-legitimisation` has run like a thread through almost every debate. I sat next to an Israeli PhD student yesterday who shook his head in despair. `I and my friends are filled with terrible disappointment when we hear these statements from our government. What can we say? What can we do?` It was an enlightening comment. Is this not what millions of British people said when Tony Blair took them to war on a sheaf of lies in 2003?

One of the most distressing moments at Herzliya came when Lorna Fitzsimons, former Labour MP and now head of Bicom, a British-based pro-Israeli think-tank, pointed out that `public opinion does not influence foreign policy in Britain. Foreign policy is an elite issue.’ Deal with the elite, and the proles will follow – that was the implication. `Our enemies are going out to international courts where we are not supreme,` she said.

And that, in a sense, said it all. International legitimacy is what Israel demands. And as a state it is legitimate. It was voted into existence by the United Nations. And, as the Israeli historian Avi Shlaim has said, its creation may not have been just – but it was legitimate. Yet when an international juridical team invited Israel to participate in its inquiries, Mr Netanyahu smugly refused. In this sense, the Gaza war proved what is so deeply troubling about the current Israeli body politic. It wants the world to recognise its democracy – however flawed this may be – but it will not join the world when asked to account for its behaviour in Gaza. It claims to be a light among the nations but will not let anyone look too closely at that light, to examine its fuel and to look precisely at what it illuminates.

Goldstone, Goldstone, Goldstone. The eminent lawyer who so bravely sought justice for the murdered and raped victims of the Serbs in the Bosnian war – and whose bravery inspired the world, including Israel, at that time – has been on the lips of every Israeli government apologist at Herzliya. Tzipi Livni spoke of him. So did Yossi Gal, the Israeli foreign affairs ministry director-general. He spoke of the `attempt to use the Goldstone Report to push Israel to the margins of legitimacy`. So did Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations. He noted that the US administration had been `overwhelmingly responsive` – ie dismissive – of the Goldstone Report. Even the mouse-like US ambassador to Israel, James Cunningham, suggested that the Goldstone Report might be used as an attempt to de-legitimise Israel.

What is this nonsense? After the 1982 massacre of Sabra and Shatila Palestinians, Israel appointed a government commission of inquiry. The Kahan Commission`s report was not perfect – but what other Middle Eastern nation would examine its sins so courageously? It stated that the then Defence Minister Ariel Sharon`s responsibility – he had sent in the Lebanese militias – was `personal`. This report did not expunge Israel`s guilt but it proved that it was a worthy state, one that was prepared to confront this slaughter with honesty rather than abuse.

Alas, no Kahan Commissions for Israel today. No judgment for Gaza. Just a slap on the wrist for a couple of officers who used phosphorus and a criminal charge against a soldier for stealing credit cards. As it happens, I met Goldstone after he was appointed head of the war crimes tribunal for ex-Yugoslavia in The Hague. A palpably decent, honest man, he said that the world had grown tired of allowing governments to commit war crimes with impunity. He was talking, of course, about Milosevic. He wrote a book on the same lines, warmly praised by Israel. But now he is the earthquake beneath Israel`s legitimacy.

I dropped by the eminently sensible Israeli army reserve colonel Shaul Arieli at his NGO`s office in Tel Aviv yesterday afternoon and discussed the attempts to arrest Israeli military officers for war crimes if they visited Britain and other European countries. `All this is much more disturbing to us today than it was a few years ago, ` he said. `We are afraid of this trend after Operation Cast Lead. It affects the image of Israel all over the world, not just for military officers. If they were charged, it would show that the state of Israel couldn`t protect its soldiers. I am sure that the Goldstone Report affects these things`

All of which suggests that the real earthquake beneath Israel, the real danger to its image and standing and legitimacy, is a nation called Israel.

The first two cases of “Israeli Arabs” having their citizenship revoked signals a dangerous precedent, and newly passed laws have stripped Arab politicians [within the state of Israel – ed] of the right to criticise either the ethnic character of the state or government policies towards the Palestinians

Disappearing Palestine

Jonathan Cook (p.150-1)

In Disappearing Palestine, Jonathan Cook examines the enduring themes of Zionist colonisation of Palestine, arguing that Israel has developed and refined policies to disperse, imprison and impoverish the Palestinian people in a relentless effort to destroy them as a nation. The West Bank and Gaza have been transformed into laboratories for testing the infrastructure of confinement, creating a lucrative ‘defence’ industry by pioneering technologies for crowd control, surveillance, collective punishment and urban warfare. The goal of these ever more sophisticated systems of curfews, checkpoints, walls, permits and land grabs is the disappearance of Palestine.

Border Control / Let him go to Haiti

Akiva Eldar, Haaretz 09/02/2010

No one doubts that as of today, the appellant requires surgical intervention that he cannot obtain at a hospital in Gaza.” Nevertheless, considering the values that hang in the balance, the judge ruled, the risk that the man will use his entry in order to remain there overrides the humanitarian value of providing medical treatment, for a resident of a hostile country

The moving and important aid provided to the victims of the earthquake in Haiti reminded the world how sensitive Israelis are to human suffering. The timing was just perfect, right before UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s announcement of the report on Operation Cast Lead; only anti-Semites and self-hating Jews like Richard Goldstone could besmirch a country that sends doctors across the ocean to rescue black-skinned gentiles.

This argument, it turns out, also made it to the judicial system. The following sentence is taken from a ruling issued by Be’er Sheva District Court Judge Rachel Barkai: “Israel is one of the few countries in the world that extends humanitarian medical aid to citizens of other countries, as we are now witnessing the aid offered to earthquake victims in Haiti.”

This was the preface to the judge’s decision to reject the petition of Atsem Hamdan, a Gaza resident, who sought a permit to receive urgent medical treatment at a Palestinian hospital in East Jerusalem.

Hamdan, 40, has for the past two years suffered from severe back pains that almost completely paralyze his left side. Recently the paralysis spread to his right side. Given his deteriorating condition, and in the absence of appropriate medical treatment in Gaza, he was referred five months ago for neurosurgical treatment at a hospital in East Jerusalem. The referral was supported by the opinion of Dr. Natan Brook, an expert in orthopedic surgery from the Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer. The doctor determined that without urgent surgical intervention, Hamdan could incur irreversible damage.

The judge was convinced that “no one doubts that as of today, the appellant requires surgical intervention that he cannot obtain at a hospital in Gaza.” Nevertheless, Barkai suggested that Hamdan look for aid in other countries – Haiti. And why was this so? Because the patient is liable to take advantage of the State of Israel’s generosity and reunite with his wife and four children. The family does not live in sovereign Israeli territory, nor does it live in East Jerusalem. They live in the West Bank. “Considering the values that hang in the balance,” the judge ruled, the risk that the man will use his entry in order to remain there overrides the humanitarian value of providing medical treatment, for a resident of a hostile country.

In an appeal submitted yesterday to the Supreme Court on behalf of Hamdan, the Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel argue that Judge Barkai’s ruling, whereby Israel is not obligated to see to the welfare and health of residents of the Gaza Strip, contradicts an earlier decision of the High Court of Justice. This obligation is a result of the state of warfare, Israel’s control of the border crossings, and the Gaza Strip’s dependence on Israel due to the long years of occupation.

It is a given that Hamdan is not the only Gaza resident who is paying the price of the siege. He and many others in need of medical treatment have no choice but to hope that the Supreme Court thinks that a country which provides aid to the unfortunate in faraway Haiti is not absolved of tending to the unfortunate people in Gaza.

Scottish Friends of Palestine AGM

Sunday 18th April 2010 from 2.30pm to 4pm

STUC Centre 333 Woodlands Road Glasgow

Thereafter to the Deir Yassin Commemoration Plaque in Kelvingrove Park for a short commemoration ceremony in memory of the villagers of Deir Yassin, massacred at the hands of Israeli terrorists on the 9th April 1948.

Please make every effort to attend (Motions will be accepted up to, and including, the afternoon of the AGM)

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