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With Gaza food crisis looming, UN official urges opening of crossing with Israel

As the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip deteriorates with food and other supplies running short due to the Israeli closure, a senior official of the main United Nations agency helping Palestinian refugees said he sincerely hopes Israel’s opening today of the Karni crossing point is “the beginning of a return to normality.” “The situation on the streets of Gaza was worse today than it was yesterday as the half hour opening of Karni yesterday afternoon had absolutely no impact on the developing humanitarian crisis,” the Director of Gaza operations of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), John Ging, said. 

Rachel's Words Tonight in New York City

“My Name is Rachel Corrie” is a powerful one-woman show based entirely on the diaries and emails of Rachel Corrie. The play was scheduled to open at the New York Theatre Workshop on March 22nd. It has been postponed indefinitely, sparking an escalating controversy. Rachel’s words will still be heard on that day. Rachel wrote about issues that concern us all. Come hear an array of academics, activists, performers and playwrights read selected writings of Rachel Corrie, honor her through poems and songs, and discuss the context in which her words were written and the pervasive climate of fear in which they have been suppressed. 

Israeli appeals court voids section of Wall in Jerusalem

Sheikh Sa’ed is a neighborhood of the larger village of Sawahra. However, Sheikh Sa’ed is in West Bank, while the western part of Sawahra was annexed to East Jerusalem in 196. Israel planned to build the Separation Barrier between Sheikh Sa’ed and the rest of the village, which would cut off the neighborhood’s only access road to the outside world. The Tel-Aviv Magistrate’s Court voided this portion of the Separation Barrier, ruling that it would cause disproportionate harm to the daily lives of the neighborhood’s residents. The court rejected the state’s argument that the residents constituted a security threat. 

UNHCR concerned for Palestinians travelling to Iraqi-Jordanian border

UNCHR spokesperson expressed the agency’s concerns about a group of Palestinian refugees, who decided to move to the Iraqi-Jordanian border. “We are very concerned about a group of 89 Palestinians, including 42 children, two elderly and three people with medical problems, who over the weekend decided to move to the Iraqi-Jordanian border from Baghdad where they had found their situation becoming increasingly difficult. The group was accompanied by two international staff members from an international NGO based in Iraq who facilitated their move to the border.” UNHCR reminded Palestinian representatives in Baghdad of Jordan’s refusal to open their borders to them. 

Jordan-Iraq border closed, Palestinian refugees refused entry

The Jordan-Iraqi border at Karama closed on Monday and remains so after 89 Palestinian refugees from Iraq, including 42 children, tried to enter Jordan, according to the UNs refugee agency in Amman, UNHCR. Yara Sharif, a senior public information assistant at UNHCR said the group of refugees reached the Jordanian border on Sunday and tried to enter, but were denied permission by the government, which said they did not have proper documents.The Jordan-Iraqi border at Karama closed on Monday and remains so after 89 Palestinian refugees from Iraq, including 42 children, tried to enter Jordan, according to the UNs refugee agency in Amman, UNHCR

Open Letter to Actress Sharon Stone

Dear Ms. Stone: In an interview with the Israeli paper Ha’aretz you stated that your visit to Israel did not imply taking sides. “I am not for or against one side,” you insisted, adding: “When my children fight, I don’t choose any side, either. I love them equally.” Your comments reveal a surprising level of naivete and a basic lack of understanding of the context. In a situation of undisputed colonial oppression, when you are not “for or against” either side, you are essentially on the side of the oppressor and a supporter, perhaps an unwitting one, of the status quo of colonial domination and oppression. 

WaSPR Delegation Diary 9: Two Traumatized Peoples Trapped by Violence and Fear

There are now an estimated 2.5 million Palestinian residents in the West Bank and 1.3 million residents in Gaza. This fact obstructs the vision of a “Greater Israel” (Eretz Israel). But that has not stopped official government policies which have encouraged creeping annexation. Ghassan Andoni continued, “Both Labor and Likud have supported the settlements. There has been a squeezing of Palestinian society in both Israel and the OT’s which has gradually intensified during the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and now the 2000’s.” 

WaSPR Delegation Diary 8: Israelis Who Want Peace: Gush Shalom and Physicians for Human Rights

Adam Keller explains, “Once you have decided not to be intimidated, you are not.” He went on a hunger strike. He was finally discharged from the Army for psychiatric reasons. “If you become a trouble maker and are in prison multiple times, then they look for a reason to finally throw you out for psychiatric reasons.” He was advised by friends, “Look, if they send you to the psychiatrist, just try and play along and you will get a discharge. If you apply for Consensus Objector status, you will be in and out of prison for the rest of your life.” 

The power of saying no

As the new Hamas government is sworn into power in the Palestinian Authority, we might ask: What would bring a people, the most secular of Arab populations with little history of religious fundamentalism, to vote Hamas? Mere protest at Fatah ineffectualness in negotiations and internal corruption doesn’t go far enough. While warning Hamas that their vote did not constitute a mandate for imposing an Iran-like theocracy on Palestine, the Palestinians took the only option left to a powerless people when all other avenues of redress have been closed to them: non-cooperation. 

WaSPR Delegation Diary 7: Visiting Those Who Want Peace: Arab and Jewish Dialogue

The term “Israeli Arab” deserves some elaboration. These people are really Palestinian Arabs, and their descendants, who never left after Al-Nakba in 1948. They have relatives in the West Bank and Gaza, and also in refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and throughout the Palestinian Diaspora. Israeli Arabs are citizens of Israel, and can vote in Israeli elections. They comprise about 20% of the current population of Israel. Although they generally have a better standard of living than their extended families in the Occupied Territories and the Palestinian Diaspora, they are still second class citizens, living as non-Jews in a Jewish State.