Egypt/Palestine : The Wall of Shame

February 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Tariq Ramadan

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Palestinians tries to break off bricks from a building at an abandoned airport that was destroyed by an Israeli air strike in the southern Gaza Strip February 10, 2010. Israel launched an air strike in the southern Gaza Strip in response to Palestinian rocket fire, an army spokesperson said on Wednesday.

REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

It is common knowledge that the Palestinians have long been direct victims of the directionless, spineless and hypocritical polices of the Arab leadership. It is equally common knowledge that the State of Israel need make no effort to impose its vision, its methods and its objectives. Given the support of the United States, Europe’s guilty silence and the compliant passivity of the Arab regimes, we know what to expect. The foreign policy of most Arab states has been described with good reason as “pro-Zionist.” Their cowardice and treachery comes as no surprise.

Following last year’s murderous attack on Gaza by Israeli forces, we may have thought we’d seen the worst. That judgment failed to take into account the ingenuity of the “worse yet” scenario produced by the Egyptian regime and the “religious authorities” of al-Azhar. In the name of “national security”, of the fight against “terrorism”, and ultimately, of combating “corruption”, “smuggling” and “drug trafficking”, the Egyptian government is building a wall reaching twenty meters below ground level to stop the “Gazans” from carrying out their “illegal” activities and from digging “smuggling tunnels.” Of course, the Egyptian government has no intention of confining the inhabitants of Gaza to their hell; of course, the measure is dictated only by concern for national security! So persuasive is the argument that the committee of religious experts of al-Azhar quickly endorsed the government decision, declaring it to be “islamically legitimate” (“in conformity with the Shari’a”) for the country to protect its borders. (The al-Azhar scholars were responding to a fatwa issued by the International Union of Muslim Scholars that had ruled the exact opposite, that the Egyptian decision was “islamically unacceptable.”)

For shame! So this is how justice is mocked, how power and religion are misused. The Palestinian people, and most of all the inhabitants of Gaza, are denied their dignity and their rights; deprived of access to food, to water and to basic health care. And now, the Egyptian government becomes the ally of Israeli policy at its worst: isolating, strangling, starving, and smothering Palestinian civilian life after having eradicated hundreds. The aim is clear: to choke off all resistance and to destroy its leadership. The Egyptian government has blocked convoys attempting to deliver badly needed aid to the Palestinian people in an effort to raise the siege of Gaza. The mobilization that brought hundreds of women and men from around the world to Rafah was met by refusal upon refusal by the Cairo authorities, along with a strategy of selective humiliation.

For shame! No wonder the Israeli government purring with contentment. After all, a new and “promising” start for the “peace process” has been announced! There will be something for everybody: the United States, along with Saudi Arabia and Egypt has spared no efforts to draft a new and “comprehensive” program. A splendid “peace process” indeed, in whose name civilians have suffered months of blockade before their leaders are invited to take their place at the “free” and “respectful” negotiating table. Israel can keep on purring: it can play for more time without making the slightest concession. Settlement activities are to be temporarily frozen—except for construction projects already underway. Finer negotiations would be hard to find!

It cannot be repeated often enough: the Egyptian “national security wall” is a wall of shame. The religious authorities that have legitimized it have behaved exactly like the notorious “ulama” (Muslim scholars) or “Islamic councils” that openly serve power, whether of dictators or the forces of colonialism, or of some self-styled Republic specializing in the manipulation of religion. What can possibly remain of their credibility after issuing a “political fatwa” that lends the Islamic endorsement of craven scholars to the power of dictatorship? Silence would have been far better.

We must condemn these unacceptable acts, and stand beside those who resist with dignity. If successive Israeli governments know one thing—with which we must agree—it is this: the Palestinian people will not surrender. For those who may still harbor doubts, we must add a second certainty, that of time: History is on the side of the Palestinians; it is they who represent, today and tomorrow, hope for the noblest human values. To resist oppression, to defend one’s legitimate rights and one’s land, to never yield to the arrogance and to the lies of the mighty. As for the power of the Israelis, the Egyptians and others, as for the fatwas of government-appointed ulama, these things too will pass; they will pass, and will be forgotten. Happily forgotten. For the duty of memory is transformed into forgetfulness when it comes to the names and the acts of dictators, traitors and cowards.

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Qaradawi: Egypt’s Steel Wall “Forbidden in Islam”

January 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

qaradawi1 The president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars has said that the steel wall being built by the Egyptian authorities along their border with the Gaza Strip is prohibited according to Islam. Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi added, “Egypt, which fought four wars for Palestine, should not carry out an act that is 100 percent against the Palestinians.”

In a press statement, Dr. Al-Qaradawi said, “The construction of the steel wall, which Egypt is building along its border with Gaza, is prohibited by the Shari’a, because the intention behind it is to block all exit and entry points for Gazans, to intensify the siege around them, to humiliate them, to starve them and put pressure on them to kneel in surrender to Israel.”
He added that the people of Gaza had to resort to tunnels in order to find an alternative to the border crossing at Rafah, which is closed on most days, even for humanitarian relief convoys. “It is”, he said, “as if Egypt is telling the Palestinians, ‘Die, and let Israel live’.”

Shaikh Al-Qaradawi expressed his shock at hearing the news about the wall: “I denied it at first and thought that the story was intended to drive a wedge between Egypt and the Palestinian people. Even Egypt denied the news.” When the story was confirmed as true he was stunned.

In response to statements by Egyptian officials that the wall is a matter of national sovereignty, Sh. Al-Qaradawi agreed that Egypt is free to preserve its sovereignty over its borders, “but it is not free to help in the killing of its Palestinian brothers and neighbours.”

He stated that it is not permissible, no matter which way it is looked at, for Egypt to construct such a wall. “It is not permissible from an Arab perspective, because of Arab Nationalism; it is not permissible from an Islamic perspective, because of Islamic brotherhood; and it is not permissible from a humanitarian perspective, because of human brotherhood. Egypt must open the Rafah border crossing for Gazans, because it is the only lung for them to breathe through. It is a religious and legal duty for Egypt not to suffocate the people of Gaza and collaborate in their murder.”

While calling on all the friends of Egypt to pressurise it to back down over this unjustifiable criminal act, Sh. Al-Qaradawi also called upon the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference to intervene “to stop this tragedy”. Furthermore, he warned Egyptian officials “to fear God when it comes to their oppressed brothers and sisters,” and not do something that is “100 percent against the Palestinians, and 100 percent in the interests of Israel”.

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US Cutting Gaza Lifeline

December 27, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Ann Wright

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December 10, 2009 – No doubt at the instigation of the Israeli government, the Obama administration has authorized the United States Army Corps of Engineers to design a vertical underground wall under the border between Egypt and Gaza.

In March, 2009 the United States provided the government of Egypt with $32 million in March, 2009 for electronic surveillance and other security devices to prevent the movement of food, merchandise and weapons into Gaza. Now details are emerging about an underground steel wall that will be 6-7 miles long and extend 55 feet straight down into the desert sand.

The steel wall will be made of super-strength steel put together in a jigsaw puzzle fashion. It will be bomb proof and can not be cut or melted. It will be “impenetrable,” and reportedly will take 18 months to construct.

(http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8405020.stm)

The steel wall is intended to cut the tunnels that go between Gaza and Egypt.

The tunnels are the lifelines for Gaza since the international community agreed to a blockade of Gaza to collectively punish the citizens of Gaza for their having elected in Parliamentary elections in 2006 sufficient Hamas Parliamentarians that Hamas became the government of Gaza. The United States and other western countries have placed Hamas on the list of terrorist organizations.

The underground steel wall is intended to strengthen international governmental efforts to imprison and starve the people of Gaza into submission so they will throw out the Hamas government.

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A member of Hamas security forces stands guard near the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip December 21, 2009. Egyptian officials confirmed on Monday that Egypt is building an underground steel barrier next to its border with Gaza, where Palestinians have built tunnels to smuggle in goods to beat an Israeli blockade.                

REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Just as the steel walls of the US Army Corps of Engineers at the base of the levees of New Orleans were unable to contain Hurricane Katrina, the US Army Corps of Engineers’ underground steel walls that will attempt to build an underground cage of Gaza will not be able to contain the survival spirit of the people of Gaza.

America’s super technology will again be laughed at by the world, as young men dedicated to the survival of their people, will again outwit technology by digging deeper, and most likely penetrating the “impenetrable” in some novel, simple, low-tech way.

I have been to Gaza 3 times this year following the 22-day Israeli military attack on Gaza that killed 1,440, wounded 5,000, left 50,000 homeless and destroyed much of the infrastructure of Gaza. The disproportionate use of force and targeting of the civilian population by the Israeli military is considered by international law and human rights experts as as violations of the Geneva conventions.

When our governments participate in illegal actions, it is up to the citizens of the world to take action. On December 31, 2009, 1,400 international citizens from 42 countries will march in Gaza with 50,000 Gazans in the Gaza Freedom March to end the siege of Gaza. They will take back to their countries the stories of spirit and survival of the people of Gaza and will return home committed to force their governments to stop these inhuman actions against the people of Gaza.

Just as American smart bombs in Afghanistan and Iraq have not conquered the spirit of Aghans and Iraqis, America’s underground walls in Gaza will never conquer the courage of those who are fighting for the survival of their families.

One more time, the American government and the Obama administration has been an active participant in the continued inhumane treatment of the people of Gaza and should be held accountable, along with Israel and Egypt for violations of human rights of the people of Gaza.

Ann Wright is a retired US Army Reserve Colonel and a former U.S. diplomat who resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She served in as a US diplomat in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She is the co-author of “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”

Her March 19, 2003 letter of resignation can be read at http://www.govexec.com/ dailyfed/0303/032103wright.htm.

http://intifada-palestine.com/2009/12/11/us-cutting-gaza-lifeline/

See 2.:21 min video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzhUcShtkSk&feature=player_embedded which accompanies this article.

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IOF Arrests Anti-Settlement Demonstrator

December 24, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By PT Editor Moahmmed Said

West Bank, (Pal Telegraph)– IOF arrested Abdullah Abu Rahma, 39, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Bil’in, at down today after they raided his house in al-Tira town of Ramallah. Eyewitness said that a number of Israeli troops stormed al-tira town early today, surrounded the house of Abu Rahma, raided it and tampered with its contents leaving extensive havoc, before he was led to unknown destination.

Ratib Abu Rahma, a member of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements, said that the arrest was part of the Israeli campaign launched by IOF to discourage people of Bil’in from continuing to struggle against the wall and illegal settlement activities in the village. He pointed out that the number of detainees have reached 34 persons, Abu Rahma included, and that half of them were released after serving their sentences in Israeli jails.

As part of a recent escalation of political arrests in Bil’in, Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a school teacher and coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee was arrested by Israeli soldiers.At 2am on Thursday, 10 December 2009, seven Israeli military jeeps pulled over at Abdallah Abu Rahmah’s home in the city of Ramallah. Soldiers raided the house and arrested Abu Rahmah from his bed in the presence of his wife and three children. Abu Rahmah is a high school teacher in the Latin Patriarchate School in Birzeit near Ramallah and coordinator for the Bil’in Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements.

A previous raid targeting Abu Rahmah on 15 September 2009 was executed with such exceptional violence, that a soldier was subsequently indicted for assault. Abdallah has been a member of the Bil’in Popular Committee since its conception in 2004. As coordinator, Abu Rahmah not only regularly organizes and attends the weekly Friday demonstrations but does the media work for the Bil’in struggle.

Abdallah has represented the village in engagements around the world to further Bil’in’s cause. He has traveled to Montreal to participate in a speaking tour and the village’s legal case against two Canadian companies building settlements on Bil’in’s land in June 2009, and in December of 2008, he participated in a speaking tour in France and traveled to Germany to accept the Carl von Ossietzky Medal for outstanding service in the realization of basic and human rights, awarded by the board of trustees of the International League for Human Rights on behalf of Bil’in.

Abdallah’s endless work for his village is just a part of his incredible persona, many of us know him personally, as he welcomes thousands of international, Palestinian and Israeli activists when they visit Bil’in.

Abu Rahmah’s arrest is part of an escalation in Israeli military’s attempts to break the spirit of the people of Bil’in, their popular leadership, and the popular struggle as a whole – aimed at crushing demonstrations against the Wall. Recently, Adv. Gaby Lasky, who represents many of Bil’in’s detainees, was informed by the military prosecution that the army intends to use legal measures as a means of ending the demonstrations.

Following Abu Rahmah’s arrest, Adv. Lasky, stated that “My client’s arrest is another blatant illustration of the Israeli authorities’ application of legal procedures for the political persecution of Bil’in residents. The Bil’in demonstrators are being systemically targeted while it is the State that is in contempt of a High Court of Justice ruling; a ruling which affirmed that the protesters have justice on their side and instructed 2 years ago that the route of the Wall in the area be changed, which has not been implemented to date.”Since 23 June 2009, 31 residents of Bil’in have been detained by the military in a wave of night raids and arrests which began concurrently with preliminary hearings in a lawsuit against two Canadian companies responsible for the construction of an Israeli settlement on Bil’in’s land.

The Israeli military is targeting protesters and the leadership of Bil’in’s Popular Committee. Apart from Abdallah, three other committee members were arrested, but all of them were released for lack of evidence. In the case of Mohammed Khatib, the court even found some of the presented evidence to be falsified.

In addition to committee members, a leading Bil’in activist, Adeeb Abu Rahmah, who has been detained for over five months, is not suspected of committing any violence, but was indicted with a blanket charge of “incitement”, which was very liberally interpreted in this case to include the organizing of grassroots demonstrations.

Following initial construction of Israel’s wall on Bil’in’s lands in March 2005, residents organized almost daily direct actions and demonstrations against the theft of their lands.

Garnering the attention of the international community with their creativity and perseverance, Bil’in has become a symbol for Palestinian popular resistance. Almost five years later, Bil’in continues to have weekly Friday protests.Located 12 kilometers west of Ramallah and 4 km east of the Green Line, Bil’in is an agricultural village spanning 4,000 dunams (988 acres) with approximately 1,800 residents.

While construction of and opposition to the Wall and began in 2005, the majority of land had been expropriated from Bil’in earlier.Starting in the early 1980’s, and more significantly in 1991, approximately 56% of Bil’in’s agricultural land was declared `State Land’ for the construction of the settlement bloc, Modi’in Illit. Modi’in Illit currently holds the largest settler population of any settlement bloc, with over 42,000 residents and plans to achieve a population of 150,000.

In addition to grassroots organizing, Bil’in has held annual conferences on popular resistance since 2006; providing a forum for activists, academics, and leaders to discuss strategies for the unarmed struggle against the Occupation.

Bil’in embraced legal measures against Israel as part of its multi-lateral resistance to the theft of their livelihoods. The village first turned to the courts in the fall of 2005.

Two years after they initiated legal proceedings, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled that due to illegal construction in part of Modi’in Illit, unfinished housing could not be completed and that the route of the Wall be moved several hundred meters west, returning 25% of Bil’in’s lands to the village. To date, the high court ruling has not been implemented and construction continues.In July 2008, Bil’in commenced legal proceedings before the Superior Court of Quebec against Green Park International Inc and Green Mount International Inc for their involvement in constructing, marketing and selling residential units in the Mattityahu East section of Modi’in Illit.

In an effort to stop the popular resistance in Bil’in, Israeli authorities intimidate demonstrators with physical violence and arrests.Israeli armed forces have used sound and shock grenades, water cannons, rubber-coated steel bullets, tear-gas grenades, tear-gas canisters, high velocity tear-gas projectiles, 0.22 caliber live ammunition and live ammunition against protesters.

On 17 April 2009, Bassem Abu Rahma was shot with a high-velocity tear gas projectile in the chest by Israeli forces and subsequently died from his wounds at a Ramallah hospital.

Out of the 78 residents who have been arrested in connection to demonstrations against the Wall, 31 were arrested after the beginning of a night raid campaign on 23 June 2009.

Israeli armed forces have been regularly invading homes and forcefully searching for demonstration participants, targeting the leaders of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, as well as teenage boys accused of throwing stones at the Wall.

10 December 2009: Bil’in leader Abdallah Abu Rahmah arrested during military night raidAs part of a recent escalation of political arrests in Bil’in, Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a school teacher and coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee was arrested by Israeli soldiers At exactly 2 AM last night, seven Israeli military jeeps pulled over at Abdallah Abu Rahmah’s residence in the city of Ramallah.

Soldiers raided the house and arrested Abu Rahmah from his bed in the presence of his wife and children. Abu Rahmah is a high school teacher in the Latin Patriarchate school in Birzeit near Ramallah and is the coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements.

A previous raid targeting Abu Rahmah was executed with such exceptional violence on 15 September 2009, that a soldier was subsequently indicted for assault.

Abu Rahmah’s arrest is part of an escalation in Israeli military’s attempts to break the spirit of the people of Bil’in, their popular leadership, and the popular struggle as a whole – aimed at crushing demonstrations against the Wall. Recently, Adv. Gaby Lasky, who represents many of Bil’in’s detainees, was informed by the military prosecution that the army intends to use legal measures as a means of ending the demonstrations.

Following Abu Rahmah’s arrest, Adv. Lasky, stated that “My client’s arrest is another blatant illustration of the Israeli authorities’ application of legal procedures for the political persecution of Bil’in residents.

The Bil’in demonstrators are being systematically targeted while it is the State that is in contempt of a High Court of Justice ruling; a ruling which affirmed that the protesters have justice on their side and instructed 2 years ago that the route of the Wall in the area be changed, which has not been implemented to date.”
Since 23 June 2009, 31 residents of Bil’in have been detained by the military. The Army has pursued Popular Committee members in its arrest operation, but all three detained members were released for lack of evidence. In the case of another member, Mohammed Khatib, the court even found some of the presented evidence to be falsified.In addition to committee members, a leading Bil’in activist, Adeeb Abu Rahmah, who has been detained for over five months, is not suspected of committing any violence, but was indicted with a blanket charge of “incitement”, which was very liberally interpreted in this case to include the organizing of grassroots demonstrations.

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Trapped by Indifference

April 16, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS Middle East Correspondent

 

feral cats eat fishHis eyes glaze over as his head droops in defeat. His hair is a dingy shade of blonde. His plaintive wail can be heard all night, up until dawn when an eerie silence fills the air. He lays against a wall, slumped in such a way that it is difficult to see if he is alive or dead. His only crime was curiosity. He is a stray dog who made the mistake of climbing onto the roof of an abandoned building in Kuwait. Now he is stuck there, with little to no hope of rescue.

Unlike in the West, domestic animals like cats and dogs are not man’s best friend. In fact, they are considered to be filthy creatures often likened to cockroaches as carriers of disease. Cats, in particular, are as prevalent on the streets of Kuwait as squirrels are in rural America. They dig out their daily meals from dumpsters, sneak a snooze on the roof of a car and spend their days searching for small puddles of water to quench their thirst in the unforgiving desert where temperatures often well exceed 100 F.

It has only been within the past couple of years that stray dogs have made their presence known on the streets. More and more misguided travelers bring a dog home with them after trips abroad to Europe or the USA. Once back in Kuwait, reality sets in as pet supplies are not always plentiful and walking a dog in the desert heat several times a day is not always a welcome activity. It’s unfortunate that, for many, the best option is to simply open up the front door and let the dog run away to live a life of fending for itself on the harsh streets.

And the streets are brutal. There is a general lack of empathy for animals in Kuwait, which is surprising given that it is an Islamic nation. The Holy Quran gave rights to both man and beast centuries ago. It’s not uncommon to find children torturing a defenseless animal in a vacant lot and reports of building caretakers throwing stray cats from the rooftops down to their deaths is a too often reported crime appearing in the local newspapers.

Thankfully, there are some loving souls that have chosen to give animals the rights that they deserve. Even in the case of the dog trapped on the roof, several local residents have thrown food up to him and some have scaled a wall below the roof in an attempt to reach him. Unfortunately, the dog backs away. He fears humans as probably every experience he has ever had has taught him to do.

There are two primary animal relief agencies in Kuwait. PAWS and Animal Friends League of Kuwait are fighting an uphill battle as the unwanted pet population in Kuwait continues its upward spiral. Both organizations are active in the community, providing food and shelter for unwanted animals. And both have hotlines where members from the public can call in to report a stray animal or animal abuse.

As of press time, the stray dog on the roof remains stranded. But help is hopefully on the way, thanks to the animal relief agencies in Kuwait who have recently been contacted. While there is light at the end of the tunnel for this dog, scores of other animals will most likely have bleaker futures in Kuwait as the indifference to their suffering goes on.

Update:  Animal Friends came and one of their volunteers scaled the wall and grabbed the dog.

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