Helena Cobban

Gaza's conflicting casualty counts

WASHINGTON (IPS) - This week, two respected human rights organizations — one Palestinian, one Israeli — each came out with very full reports into the extent of the damage caused by the assault Israel waged against Gaza last winter. According to PCHR 1,419 Palestinians were killed during the fighting, of whom 252 were combatants and the rest noncombatants. Three hundred and eighteen of those killed were, it said, children. 

Fatah conference leaves problems unresolved

WASHINGTON (IPS) - Mahmoud Abbas, the 74-year-old leader of the Palestinian Fatah movement, registered a significant achievement in holding the movement’s Sixth General Conference, which has been wrapping up its business in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank this week. But veteran Palestinian analysts say Abbas’s biggest internal political challenges still lie ahead. 

Hamas leader to Obama: Policy, not rhetoric

DAMASCUS (IPS) - The head of Hamas’s political bureau, Khaled Meshal, gave a qualified welcome here Thursday to the big speech that US President Barack Obama addressed to the Muslim world in Cairo. “The speech was cleverly written in the way it addressed the Muslim world … and in the way it showed respect to the Muslim heritage,” Meshal told IPS in an exclusive interview. “But I think it’s not enough. What’s needed are deeds, actions on the ground, and a change of policies.” 

East Jerusalem settlements ratchet up tensions

OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM (IPS) - As the fires of human misery continue to smolder in Gaza, the situation in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem is emerging as another potentially explosive issue in, and far beyond, the Middle East. The future of the city is considered an issue of prime importance to both Palestinians and Israelis, as well as to their supporters around the world. 

Protecting Palestinian females: HRW misses the mark

I truly do not understand some of the decisions that my colleagues and friends at Human Rights Watch have been making. This week, to much fanfare, they rolled out a very well-funded study about domestic violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, in which their main order of business is to blame the Palestinian Authority for having, “failed to establish an effective framework to respond to violence against women and girls.” As a woman, as someone who survived some long-ago domestic violence, as the mother of two daughters, and as quite simply a member of the human race I am deeply concerned about the question of domestic violence. But this study seems wrongly conceived and wrongly focused for a number of reasons.