The Electronic Intifada

Concern for Gaza patients who cannot go abroad for treatment


JERUSALEM, 2 July 2007 (IRIN) - Many Palestinian patients in the Gaza Strip have been unable to access health care and advanced medical treatment since 9 June, when the Rafah crossing to Egypt was closed. The medical infrastructure in Gaza is not able to provide certain services to its residents, including many types of surgery, and the Palestinian ministry of health refers patients to hospitals in countries such as Egypt and Israel. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2003 some 7,844 cases were referred abroad, of which 62.5 percent were sent to Egypt for treatment via Rafah. 

Volvo: Symbol of safety or human rights abuses?


The automotive manufacturer Volvo writes on its website that is has the vision of being “the most desired and successful premium car brand by creating the safest and most exciting car experience,” and “choosing a car is about the comfort and safety of your passengers, most especially your children.” However, the Palestinian people in Israel, including the Bedouins, and the occupied territories might have another view on Volvo, whose vehicles were used by Israel to destroy the homes of Bedouin villagers in the Naqab (Negev). Adri Nieuwhof reports for EI

Tony Blair: A true friend of Israel


“A true friend of the State of Israel,” said Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of his outgoing British counterpart Tony Blair. He was appointed this week as special envoy for the Middle East Quartet with a portfolio focused on Palestinian economic and political reform. “Tony Blair is a very well-appreciated figure in Israel,” said Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. According to an Israeli government statement, Israel “will provide [him] with all necessary assistance in order for him to carry out his duties.” EI’s Arjan El Fassed looks at Blair’s history and finds that it does not bode well for the Middle East’s future. 

Economic downturn in Beit Umar and Hebron


The following is a report on a field visit to the Network, Advocate and Resist (NAR) program in Hebron, meeting with several members of the Local Popular Committee (LPC): The purpose of our field visit was to get acquainted with the Network, Advocate and Resist (NAR) work in Hebron. The impact of the Wall/barrier is devastating to the local community. A Palestinian Hydrology Group representative mentioned how they organize resistance events; farmers and landowners talked about their troubles, resulting in modest requests. 

US Congress to curb Bush enthusiasm for Abbas


WASHINGTON, Jun 26 (IPS) - US President George W. Bush threw his full support behind President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority (PA) last week, declaring the Fatah leader “the president of all the Palestinians.” With Hamas, the Islamist political party backed by Iran and described by the US as a terrorist organization, firmly in control of Gaza, the administration is now attempting to bolster Abbas, who formed a new government in the West Bank following the Hamas takeover in Gaza. 

Film review: "Occupation 101"


“You begin to suspect that there is something extremely odd going on … it is deeply disturbing,” says Alison Weir, narrator of the new documentary Occupation 101, on what one experiences as soon as they read between the lines of news reports from Israel/Palestine. The film indeed succeeds in instilling this feeling in its viewers. The chronology of the conflict is explained through snappily edited interviews with activists, journalists, clergy people, and others, while richly illustrated by archive footage and photographs. EI’s Maureen Clare Murphy reviews. 

Egypt loses diplomatic ground with Hamas


CAIRO, Jun 27 (IPS) - Almost two weeks after the takeover of the Gaza Strip by Palestinian faction Hamas, attempts by Cairo to resolve the crisis have so far come to naught. But while government officials say mediation efforts are still under way, some commentators question the ability of Egypt — a longtime supporter of Hamas rival Fatah — to mediate impartially. “Egypt’s open support of Fatah has cost it all credibility as an arbitrator,” Gamal Zahran, political science professor at Suez Canal University and speaker for the independent bloc in parliament told IPS

World Council of Churches intensifies efforts to end occupation


From 18 - 20 June in Amman, Jordan, more than 130 representatives from churches and Christian organizations attended a conference entitled “Churches together for peace and justice the Middle East” organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC). The WCC unites more than 340 churches in over a hundred countries and territories, representing about 550 million Christians. “Churches have woken up to the issues in the Middle East like never been before. Another time we woke up is when we fought apartheid in Africa; this is another apartheid,” WCC general secretary Reverend Dr. Sam Kobia told The Jordan Times after the conference. 

Dozens made homeless as police demolish Bedouin houses


At least 20 houses in two Bedouin-Arab villages were destroyed on 25 June by Israeli security forces, leaving over 150 people homeless. Some 1,500 police and special forces converged on the two small villages, which together have a population of about 1,000 people from the al-Qi’an family, and conducted the demolitions. “The children went to school and the men to work. Only the women stayed home,” said Azam al-Qi’an, aged 16, whose home was destroyed.