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UN conference adopts action plan to support Palestinians

A two-day United Nations International Conference of Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian People adopted a Plan of Action that commits civil society organizations to ending the Israeli occupation and to achieving the rights of self-determination and return of the Palestinian people. The plan includes marking the 40-year anniversary of the occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. The Plan also commits them to expanding the global campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions to ever broader sectors of countries and regions, including an urgent campaign to end the sanctions against the democratically-elected Palestinian Authority. 

Women's meeting at UN encourages negotiations

A delegation of top Israeli, Palestinian and international women leaders arrive at the United Nations on September 20th to meet with President of the Republic of Finland Tarja Halonen, at a time when Finland holds the Presidency of the European Union, in an effort to marshal high-level political pressure to restart negotiations in the region. Joining the President of Finland will be President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, Africa’s first elected woman head of state, who traveled to the occupied Palestinian territory in 2001 to hear the stories of women living in conflict as part of the Independent Experts’ Assessment on the impact of war on women, commissioned by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). 

Gaza faces major food problems, warns UN agency assisting over 200,000 people there

15 September 2006 - Palestinians face major difficulties in Gaza, including shortages of food and a crippled fishing industry because of the continued conflict with Israel, the United Nations food agency warned today, as it distributes aid to almost a quarter of a million of those most in need. “Gaza’s food security remains an issue of serious concern, the World Food Programme (WFP) says. Naval restrictions continue to block all boats from fishing off-shore, crippling the fishing industry,” UN spokesman Marie Okabe told reporters in New York. 

Seventy per cent of Palestinians in Gaza need international food aid to survive – UN

With the new school year beginning in just a few days, 70 per cent of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip cannot feed themselves without assistance, a 30 per cent increase in the number in just over a year, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today. The Gaza economy is near total collapse and WFP, which this month increased the number of people to whom it is providing food by 25 per cent to 220,000 persons, will try to add more beneficiaries since the situation was deteriorating on a daily basis, spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume told a news briefing in Geneva. 

Getting the word out on NPR

Getting the word out has always been difficult for Palestinians. The major reason for this is that Israel often succeeds in framing the issues from its point of view, and the mainstream media in the West goes along with it. A favorite gambit that Israel uses to cloak its outrageous policies towards the Palestinian population is to cry “security”, which then pretty much allows it to do anything. When “security” is too conspicuously untrue, it justifies itself by referring to its own policy. This can be questioned only through its own legal system, which is not exactly designed to safeguard Palestinian rights. It sets up the equation of “lawful” Israelis and “unlawful” or criminal Palestinians. 

"The power that made dust out of life"

Trucks loaded with rubble arrive at the rate of one each minute - 1350 per day as the taxi driver tells. As we climbed the mountain, we saw embedded in the rubble the torn bits of family life. Shoes, clothes, curtains, shards of furniture, bits of rugs, closet doors, children’s books, school books, shards of kitchen utensils, all torn to shreds, all smashed, all dusty, all mixed in an ugly salad of dust, shattered cement, broken glass, and bent steel. But the dust formed the largest percentage of the mix. I try to imagine the power that made dust out of life. 

National boycott action targets Irish stores selling Israeli goods

Shops and supermarkets across Ireland were picketed on Saturday as the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) commemorated the anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacres with a National Boycott Israel Day. IPSC members targetted retail outlets in Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Sligo, to send a message to Irish retailers that continuing to trade with Israel while it obliterates Palestine is grossly unethical and gives both financial support, succour and legitimacy to Israel’s escalating and unchecked violations of Palestinian human rights. The National Boycott Day was also intended to educate consumers as to the extent of Israeli goods in their shops. 

Fear and Defiance in South Lebanon

It is true that Israel’s military campaign flip-flopped often and its goals kept changing, but the assault on civilians, particularly of the south, was relentless. I arrived in Tyre on the tenth day of the war just as the remaining inhabitants of the south were beginning to realize that Israel would spare no one. They all tell us that this assault is different from what they’ve seen from Israel in previous attacks. (Israel has invaded Lebanon twice before in 1978 and 1982, occupied various portions of the country for over 25 years, and launched massive military assaults focusing on civilians and their infrastructure in 1992 and 1996.) People who’ve never left their village were now leaving. 

Flowers in Bint Jbeil

In Bint Jbeil we saw almost total destruction and this destruction encompassed all parts of life. Yet in the middle of this damage there were a few amazing jewels of life bubbling open. In the south of Lebanon the landscape is covered with the dust of missiles and destruction. The trees, the weeds, and the cultivated plants are coated with a sickening yellow dust that immediately impresses a sensation of poison and death. Inside the villages, the dust and garbage spread through all parts of the town regardless of the damaged areas. Areas of massive destruction looked like strange cliffs and fields of broken cement chunks interspersed with bits of brightly colored cloth or plastic. 

An Israeli's short cut, a Palestinian's occupation

Today, on my way to Jordan and my flight home, I did something no Palestinian from the West Bank can do. I woke up in Ramallah (in the West Bank), went to Jerusalem (already impossible!), got on a bus and rode eastward and then northward THROUGH the West Bank’s Jordan river valley and into northern Israel without having to stop at any checkpoint or show my ID to anyone. How did I do this amazing thing? Answer: I was travelling as an “Israeli.” While Palestinians were suffering out of sight on backroads and at checkpoints, I enjoyed comfort, efficiency, and arguably, relative safety.