Mel Frykberg

Gaza aid boat crew detained, threatened with deportation

RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) - Twenty-one international peace activists were seized by Israeli naval frigates in international waters Tuesday as their boat The Spirit of Humanity tried to carry humanitarian aid to Gaza. The activists, including former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and Irish Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire, and nationals from 11 other countries were part of the Free Gaza Movement (FGM) efforts to break Israel’s naval and border blockade of Gaza. 

Report finds Israel still torturing Palestinians

RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) - The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel has accused the Israeli security forces of deliberately shackling Palestinian prisoners in a painful and dangerous manner, amounting to a form of torture. The report, “Shackling as a Form of Torture and Abuse,” based on the evidence of over 500 prisoners, was released in advance of the UN International Day in Support of Torture Victims Friday, 26 June. 

Political arrests may derail unity talks

RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) - Egyptian mediators have set 7 July as deadline for final Palestinian reconciliation talks in Cairo. The Egyptians say time is running out, and if there is no progress in July, they will no longer be prepared to arbitrate. Continued political detention and abuse of Palestinian prisoners by Hamas in Gaza and by the Fatah-affiliated Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank could, however, derail the talks before they even begin. 

Aid agencies slam Gaza blockade

RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) - Forty international aid agencies and non-governmental organizations have released a joint statement condemning Israel’s blockade of Gaza, to mark the second anniversary of the coastal territory being hermetically sealed off from the outside world. “We, United Nations and non-governmental humanitarian organizations, express deepening concern over Israel’s continued blockade of the Gaza Strip which has now been in force for two years.” 

Some unclean drops to drink

FAQUA, occupied West Bank (IPS) - Faqua village has found itself unfortunately named. Faqua in Arabic means spring water bubbles; the village was named after the abundant natural underground springs that were once found all around it. Faqua’s problems started in 1948 with the establishment of Israel, when 24,000 of Faqua’s 36,000 dunams of land (a dunam is the equivalent of 1,000 square meters) and most of the underground springs were appropriated by the new Jewish state. 

West Bank rights violations on the rise

RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) - “I heard voices, I turned around to look, and saw a group of Israeli settlers assaulting my brother Hammad,” says Abdallah Wahadin, 82, a Palestinian farmer from Beit Ummar near the southern West Bank city of Hebron. “Three of them surrounded me, while a fourth threw a rock at the back of my head. Lots of blood ran down onto my clothes. Other settlers then joined them,” Wahadin told the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. 

The PA's small window of opportunity

RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) - While the US appears to be optimistic about Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, inter-Palestinian rivalry, a recalcitrant Israeli government, and an international community with its own agenda could well scuttle a settlement. For the first time in decades the US, under President Barack Obama’s new administration, appears to be putting pressure on Israel through Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his new hard-line and far-right government. 

Power struggle killing patients

*GAZA CITY (IPS) - The lives of hundreds of critically ill Gazans continue to be jeopardized by the power struggle between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah, and political blackmail by Israel. Mohammed Zibdeh, 12, who has cancer of the brain is waiting in Gaza City for a permit to travel to Israel for advanced treatment. He is dependent on a ventilator connected to his throat for survival. Last year Mohammed was able to secure a permit to travel to an Israeli hospital where he received chemotherapy for his brain tumor, causing the tumor to shrink significantly. 

Israel treats West Bank as its garbage dump

RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) - Israel has found a cheap and easy way to get rid of its waste, much of it hazardous: dump it into the West Bank. “Israel has been dumping waste, including hazardous and toxic waste, into the West Bank for years as a cheaper and easier alternative to processing it properly in Israel at appropriate hazardous waste management sites,” Palestinian Environmental Authority deputy director Jamil Mtoor told IPS

Palestinian Authority popularity at all-time low

RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) - Yet another sign of the growing unpopularity of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) was evident on the streets of Ramallah last weekend. Demonstrators ripped apart hundreds of posters of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, whose term officially expired in January, that were plastered on walls and buildings along the street leading to the heavily fortified compound known as the Muqata, the PA government headquarters.