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Weekly report on human rights violations

This week Israeli forces killed two Palestinian civilians, a woman and a disabled young man, in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Israeli forces wounded 13 Palestinians, including seven children. Israeli forces conducted incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. Houses were raided and 83 Palestinian civilians were arrested by Israeli forces. Ten Palestinian homes were turned into military posts. Israeli forces shelled an apartment building in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. Israel continues to impose a total siege on the occupied Palestinian territories. The eastern part of the West Bank was cut off from the rest. Israeli forces arrested 11 Palestinians, including four children at checkpoints in the West Bank. 

Local NGO's: "Respect of election results is the only way forward"

International reactions to Hamas’ election victory in the occupied Palestinian territories, in particular statements issued by the United States, the EU and the Quartet, have been very disappointing. Palestinian NGO’s issued a statement in which they expressed concern about “”preparations by the Israeli government to disconnect ties with the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority” which, according to Israeli media reports, may include measures that constitute collective punishment of the Palestinian people. They call on donor governments to abstain from conditioning support of the PA with recognition of Israel by Hamas in light of the fact that mutual recognition and agreements are the mandate of the PLO and not the PA

Research shows that Israel has effectively annexed the Jordan Valley

Israel imposes severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the Jordan Valley, the eastern strip of the West Bank, which it has in effect annexed. This is the finding of B’Tselem’s recent research. As a rule, the army forbids the entry of Palestinians to the Jordan Valley, and only allows entry of those Palestinians listed as residents of this area. Severing the Jordan Valley from the rest of the West Bank severely violates the human rights of the Palestinian population. These measures were taken without any government decision or notice to the public. Testimonies given to B’Tselem indicate that the IDF forbids the movement of Palestinians along Route 90, which runs the length of the Jordan Valley. 

Supreme Court Dismisses Criminal Charges Against Knesset Member Azmi Bishara

On 1 February 2006, the Supreme Court of Israel, in a 2 to 1 split decision, accepted a petition submitted by Adalah, ruling illegal the Israeli Knesset’s 2001 vote to strip Member of Knesset Dr. Azmi Bishara of his parliamentary immunity, and dismissed all criminal charges against him. Commenting on the Court’s decision, Adalah’s director Hassan Jabareen stated that, “the Supreme Court’s decision is the culmination of a legal struggle against the authorities’ attempts, mainly by the former Attorney General and the General Security Services, to violate the fundamental right of political representation. This legal triumph, however, is only another step for the Arab minority in its quest to achieve a liberated, dignified and equal existence in the country.” 

Aid Agencies call upon donor governments to continue providing aid to the Palestinian people

While the international community reacts to the recent Palestinian Legislative Council elections, international aid agencies stress that the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories remains grave, and may even deteriorate further if current and additional humanitarian and development activities are jeopardized. The humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people and their children have not changed as a result of recent political developments. International development and humanitarian aid agencies reiterate their commitment to helping to meet the needs of the Palestinian people, and strongly urge the international community and donor governments to continue providing critical assistance. 

"Made in Palestine" art exhibition to open in New York City

Al-Jisser is proud to announce the opening of the “Made in Palestine” art exhibition in New York City. After two years of fundraising, community events and wonderful support, Al-Jisser has leased a space in a central gallery building in the heart of Chelsea in Manhattan’s art world, to open and present this monumental exhibition to the art world, the community and the public. Please join with us in sharing in this great victory and in publicizing this exhibition far and wide. “Made in Palestine” will be opening at The Bridge 521 W. 26th St., 3rd Floor, NYC The show will be open to the public between March 14, 2006 and April 22, 2006, on Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 11 AM to 6 PM daily. 

Urgent Appeal: Help F.A.S.T. Reconstruct Lifta's Map

The village of Lifta, which lies just outside Jerusalem, has been abandoned since the Israeli army drove out the last of its Palestinian inhabitants in 1948. Now, however, a renovation project aims to turn Lifta into an expensive and exclusive Jewish residential area - reinventing its history in the process. In the following months, the Foundation for Achieving Seamless Territory (F.A.S.T.) will, with your help, reconstruct the map of Lifta. F.A.S.T. invites you to help it describe the town by sending your details, narratives, drawings and photographs of Lifta. F.A.S.T. will compile the material that is send to them (by email or fax) and fill the map. 

CNI calls on U.S. to deal with new democratic forces in Middle East

A delegation from the Council for the National Interest that participated as international observers to the recent Palestinian elections and met with government and opposition figures in six Middle East countries called yesterday on President Bush and his administration to deal honestly and openly with the new Islamist opposition that has been brought to power by democratic means in several Middle East countries. The members of the delegation, including two ambassadors, were among the firstAmericanretired foreign service officers to meet with Hamas leaders Mahmoud al-Zahar and Khaled Meshaal, whom they described as eager to talk to American officials ,and even to reach a peace with Israel. “There seems to be a lack of dialogue with leaders in the Middle East,” said CNI President Eugene Bird in a public hearing on Capitol Hill Thursday morning. “Many U.S. diplomats are not talking to people they should be, and this has been shocking for us to see this.” 

AAUP Conference on Academic Freedom and Boycotts Postponed

Academics and researchers invited to participate in the conference on academic freedom and academic boycotts organized by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) condemn tactics used by critics of the conference to cast doubt on the integrity of the organizers and some of the participants, and to ultimately derail it. On February 9, the AAUP decided to postpone its conference. Joan Scott, former chair of the AAUP’s Committee on Academic Freedom and one of the key organizers of this conference, said the postponement was due to “a carefully orchestrated campaign to abort the conference by groups which believe that any representation of a point of view other than theirs is anathema”. 

Israel and Apartheid South Africa: A response to Guardian series on the relationship between the two

Last week, The Guardian (UK) published a two-part series by its reporter Chris McGreal comparing Israeli policies vis-a-vis its own Palestinian citizens and those living under its occupation in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza Strip to that of apartheid-era South Africa. The following is a letter to The Guardian editor from a peace activist who has been a part of society and the struggle for human rights in both countries who finds that the questions posed by The Guardian necessary for ensuring a truly secure future.