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UNICEF: "Sad day for children of Gaza"

UNICEF said Monday was a sad day for the children of Gaza, after five were killed in conflict-related incidents. In the first incident, two brothers, aged 14 and 15, were killed instantly when they were exposed to an unexploded device in a pond in Bereij, south of Gaza City. Later in the day, two brothers, aged 11 and 15, and a 14-year-old boy were killed as bystanders during an air attack. Monday’s tragic incidents bring the year’s death toll of Palestinian children to conflict-related violence to 11. UNICEF said the events of Monday starkly illustrate the how children are impacted in many ways by the conflict. In line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child all efforts should be made to protect children from violence as well as their rights to education, health and play. 

"Gaza Blues: Different Stories" provides surrealist snapshot of conflict

A collection of darkly humorous short stories by popular Israeli writer Etgar Keret and a novella by Palestinian writer Samir El-Youssef, the idea behind Gaza Blues was born during a particularly violent period of the intifada in 2002. The result is a set of stories that are not explicitly about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but rather, the people living it and the complexity of their existences. The snapshot Gaza Blues suitably offers is one of violence and tension. However, it successfully attempts to draw back the curtains on the tragedies and rhetoric of the conflict, its layered subtext forcing the readers to review their understanding of the lives inhabiting the conflict. 

Accusations of anti-semitic chic are poisonous intellectual thuggery

In recent weeks, claims of widespread “anti-Semitism” in the left have become increasingly frequent. London Mayor Ken Livingstone, the Church of England and the Guardian (over articles comparing Israel and apartheid) are the most recent to find themselves in the firing line. Yet the truth, unbearable to those laying such charges is that the left that identifies with the Palestinians today is largely the same left that identified with Israel in the 50s and the 60s. Moreover, it does so for largely the same reason: instinctive sympathy for the underdog. David Clark, a former advisor to the British government, says that claims of anti-Semitism are being cynically used to shock Israel’s critics into silence. 

Over 200 Palestinian children arrested in two months

Israeli occupation forces are arresting scores of Palestinian children each week, bringing the number of juveniles currently held in appalling conditions in Israeli detention centres and prisons to new record levels. Information gathered by the Defence for Children International shows that since the start of 2006 over 230 Palestinian children have been arrested, with the Israeli army appearing to target in particular youths from the Bethlehem Nablus and Jenin areas of the West Bank. The scale of arrests over the past two months brings the number of Palestinian children in Israeli custody to almost 400. This represents a significant increase on the already-inexcusably high numbers of recent years and marks a further indication of the scant regard Israeli pays to Palestinian children’s rights. 

Palestinians targeted in Iraq

Thousands of Palestinian refugees living in Iraq have reportedly been attacked and discriminated against, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR. “Over the past week, we’ve received reports that up to 10 Palestinians have been killed in Baghdad and several have been kidnapped,” UNHCR spokesman in Geneva, Ron Redmond, said. The Palestinian Muslims Association (PMA) in Baghdad says it has received more than 270 reports of attacks on Palestinians since September, including crimes such as rape and murder. “Families are being forced out of their homes and women are being raped in front of their husbands because they are Palestinians,” said PMA spokesman Ahmed Muffitlak. 

Supreme Court overturns Israeli government's 'racist' policy of National Priority Areas

In a landmark judgment, a panel of seven justices on Israel’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled this week that the government’s decision to award 500 Jewish communities special “National Priority A” status, compared with only four Arab villages, was discriminatory and racist. The priority status has been used to award the communities substantial economic benefits since it was first established nearly a decade ago. Such a result, wrote Supreme Court chief Aharon Barak, “is contaminated by one of the most suspect distinctions, which is distinction based on race and nationality. This is a result that Israeli democracy cannot tolerate.” 

Arab MKs again face investigations and threats of disqualification in run-up to Israeli elections

Israel’s Central Election Committee, a partisan body with the power to disqualify political parties from the forthcoming election, questioned this week the right of one of the three main Arab parties to contest the election. The committee is dominated by politicians from rightwing Zionist parties. The committee held a session on Tuesday February 28 in which it considered barring the joint list of the United Arab List and Taal, led by Sheikh Ibrahim Sarsur and Ahmed Tibi, from the standing. Several parties represented on the committee, including Likud and the National Religious Party, submitted a petition against the Arab party based on the claim that its platform denies Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state”. The ban was rejected by a wafer-thin majority of 18 votes to 16. 

Far-right settlers launch campaign of provocative armed visits to Arab communities

Far-right leader Baruch Marzel this week staged his second visit, backed by armed settlers, to the Arab town of Sakhnin in less than a month. He was kept to the edge of the Galilean town by police but allowed to take up position on elevated points so that he and his followers could photograph the area. Marzel, a former head of the outlawed anti-Arab Kach party, is now a leader of the Jewish National Front, a group of far-right extremists. He was joined on the trip by Itamar Ben Gvir, a settler leader based in Hebron who is suspected of belonging to Jewish underground organisations. 

NYC: Free the P Hip-Hop & Slam Party

NAAP-NY in conjunction with the N.O.M.A.D.S. & the Philistines present…Free the P Hip-Hop Slam & Party in New York City on 16 March 2006. Proceeds will benefit NAAP-NY community initiatives and Slingshot Hip-Hop, a documentary film that focuses on the daily life of Palestinian rappers living in Gaza, the West Bank and inside Israel. It aims to spotlight alternative voices of resistance within the Palestinian struggle and explore the role their music plays within their social, political and personal lives. 

Activism Call: Why are people afraid of Rachel Corrie's words?

Rachel Corrie was 23 years old when she was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer on March 16, 2003. She was working with others trying to protect the home of a Palestinian pharmacist from demolition in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Palestine. “My Name is Rachel Corrie” is a powerful one-woman show based entirely on the writings that Rachel left behind, telling her story from the time she was a small child, leading up to the days before her death. The play, edited by Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner from Rachel’s diaries and emails, was produced by the Royal Court Theatre in London. Starring Megan Dodds, it played to sold out audiences and wide acclaim. “My Name is Rachel Corrie” was scheduled to open at the New York Theatre Workshop on March 22nd. It has been postponed indefinitely, sparking much debate.