Gaza’s civilians still unable to rebuild one year after ‘Operation Cast Lead’

Gaza’s civilians still unable to rebuild one year after ‘Operation Cast Lead’

The international community has betrayed the people of Gaza by failing to back their words with effective action to secure the ending of the Israeli blockade which is preventing reconstruction and recovery, say a group of 16 leading humanitarian and human rights groups in a new report released today (22 December) ahead of the anniversary of the start of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza (27 December-18 January).

The Israeli authorities have allowed only 41 truckloads of all construction materials into Gaza since the end of the offensive in mid-January, warn the groups, which include Amnesty International, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Medical Aid for Palestinians, Mercy Corps and Oxfam International. The task of rebuilding and repairing thousands of homes alone will require thousands of truckloads of building materials, they add.

Little of the extensive damage the offensive caused to homes, civilian infrastructure, public services, farms and businesses has been repaired because the civilian population, and the UN and aid agencies who help them, are prohibited from importing materials like cement and glass in all but a handful of cases, says the report. [continued…]

Doctor admits Israeli pathologists harvested organs without consent

Israel has admitted pathologists harvested organs from dead Palestinians, and others, without the consent of their families – a practice it said ended in the 1990s – it emerged at the weekend.

The admission, by the former head of the country’s forensic institute, followed a furious row prompted by a Swedish newspaper reporting that Israel was killing Palestinians in order to use their organs – a charge that Israel denied and called “antisemitic”.

The revelation, in a television documentary, is likely to generate anger in the Arab and Muslim world and reinforce sinister stereotypes of Israel and its attitude to Palestinians. Iran’s state-run Press TV tonight reported the story, illustrated with photographs of dead or badly injured Palestinians. [continued…]

Challenge to the Jewish Taliban

A struggle for the character of the Western Wall, this city’s iconic Jewish holy site and central place of worship, is under way, and it is being fought with prayer shawls and Torah scrolls.

On Friday, sheets of rain obscured the Old City’s ancient domes. But by 7 a.m. about 150 Jewish women had gathered at the Western Wall to pray and to challenge the constraints imposed on them by traditional Jewish Orthodoxy and a ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court.

Under their coats many of the women, supporters of a group of religious activists called Women of the Wall, wore a tallit, or fringed prayer shawl, a ritual garment traditionally worn only by men. Some wore their prayer shawls openly, an illegal act in this particular setting that can incur a fine or several months in jail. [continued…]

MK Tibi: Israel is democratic for Jews, but Jewish for Arabs

he Knesset Law and Constitution Committee conducted a heated debate Tuesday on two parallel law proposals that would enable certain communities in Israel to handpick their residents.

The proposals come amid controversy over a number of Jewish communities in the north who have refused entry to Arabs wishing to reside there.

The laws proposed by MKs Israel Hasson and Shai Hermesh (Kadima) and the committee’s chairman MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu) circumvent the High Court decision that the reception committees are illegal.

MK Ahmed Tibi condemned the bills, which passed a preliminary vote a few weeks ago, claiming they would only allow systemic racism to take hold.

“This law is like pissing in mid-air,” said Tibi. “Racism is starting to be legislated in the statute book. There is an influx of racist law proposals; you aren’t even ashamed of yourselves.”

“This country is Jewish and democratic: Democratic towards Jews, and Jewish toward Arabs,” Tibi said, adding that that if Israel’s declaration of independence was to be voted on in the Knesset today, it would not pass.

The proposals were actually meant to enable communal settlements, like moshavim, to disqualify candidates on grounds of economic status or incompatibility with the settlement’s lifestyle. The debate quickly developed, however, to the fact that the committees would be able to prevent Arab landowners from building on community land.

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