This is our archive website that is no longer being updated.
For the new website please go to www.unison-scotland.org
From: Palestinian General Delegation
Over 200,000 made homeless by Israel
Afif Safieh, the Palestinian General Delegate to the United Kingdom and to the Holy See, returned from Jerusalem during the weekend.
During his 9 days stay in Palestine there were a minimum of 4 Palestinians killed daily and one day the causality toll peaked up to 12 fatalities.
He there learnt that during the last 30 months, 48.000 housed were destroyed, 4000 totally demolished and the rest partially damaged. If we say, conservatively, that the average size of a Palestinian family is 6 persons, 288.000 individuals had their lives dramatically affected, from the Israeli systemic bombings and house demolition policy.
(Today Monday 17th at 11.00 am local time, there were 9 killed in the Gaza Strip)
On his dairy this week, Afif Safieh has among others, the following commitments: -
Monday 17: With the Council of Arab Ambassadors a meeting in the House of Commons with the Rh. Hon Charles Kennedy, the Leader of the Liberal Party. - A meeting with Archbishop Kelly and father Frank Turner of the Roman Catholic Church. - Lecture in Eton College.
Tuesday 18: A meeting in Lambeth Palace with the new archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams.
Thursday 20: With the Council of Arab Ambassadors, a working lunch with Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Mike O'Brien.
Saturday 22: in Dundee for the Scottish Labour Party Annual Conference
London, January 13, 2003
International will should prevail, Afif Safieh
Afif Safieh, the Palestinian General Delegate to the United Kingdom, is meeting senior officials at the Foreign Office this morning at 11:00am to discuss the final touches for the London Conference.
He declared before the meeting: "I am proud to say that Prime Minister Blair decided to go ahead with the London Conference signalling that no one had a veto on international diplomacy attempting to help restore peace and justice in the Middle East. With the political will and . . . modern technology, attempts to sabotage, torpedo and blackmail the London Conference will fail.
"In international relations, especially in matters of war and peace, the international will should prevail on the whim of a capricious leader who was found by an Israeli Commission already in 1982-1983 to be 'unfit for public office.'
"I am reminded of a political cartoon that showed players in the field with one holding the ball and saying to the others 'you either play the game I want or I will confiscate the ball and go home.' We consider the London Conference an important opportunity to explain Palestinian institutional reforms and state building in the midst of the adverse conditions of repeated Israeli re-invasions of the Occupied Territories.
"The Palestinian people are yearning to see Palestine take its rightful and legitimate place in the concert of nations. Palestine takes the pledge to play a constructive role in the international system inspired by the principles and philosophy of the charter of the United Nations. No one should be surprised that Palestine will play a role beyond its geographic size or its demographic weight bearing in mind that the dynamic and successful Palestinian communities around the world will be a useful bridge in the dialogue and interaction across continents, cultures and civilisations."
The endless ordeal inflicted on the Palestinian people has poisoned international relations. The speedy end of Israeli occupation will undeniably be good for the Palestinians,good for the Israelis and good for the world. It has always been my belief that with the firm commitment of the international community, a territory that was occupied in 1967 in less than six days can also be evacuated in six days so that the Israelis can rest on the seventh and we can finally embark on the fascinating journey of State building and economic reconstruction. But so far, the way international diplomacy was handled, instead of the desirable durable peace we seek, all we have had was a permanent peace…process." .
Drastic Deterioration of Palestinian Health Conditions The Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees January 8, 2003
http://www.palestinemonitor.org/Other%20Updates/drastic_deterioration.htm Urgent Alert judithnorman[JPN] Jan 11 2003
A joint study by Johns Hopkins University and US AID found that during the last six weeks, 33% of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza requiring emergency care, 21% of women in need of mother/child care, 17% of children due for vaccinations, 44% of patients in need of kidney dialysis and 46% of cancer patients in need of chemotherapy were not able to access medical facilities.
According to Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, President of Palestinian Medical Relief "This is an unprecedented situation. It is the first time that an entire people is prevented from using their roads for a period of almost two years. The effects on the health situation are catastrophic."
Preventing civilians from accessing medical care is a clear violation of international law, which is itself a reflection of norms accepted worldwide. International pressure on the Israeli government is necessary in order to ensure that fundamental human rights are protected and to prevent a worsening health crisis.
We urge you to protest Israel's violations of international humanitarian law by contacting your government officials and the following Israeli officials: The Offices of the Foreign Minister Ministry of Foreign Affairs, HaKirya Romena, Jerusalem 91950 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org , Tel: 0972-25303531/3631/530, Fax: 0972-25303506 Or the Minister of Interior Ministry of Interior, 29 Salah al-Din Str, Jerusalem 91010, Israel. Fax: 097226294750/ Tel: 097226294701
For more information, please contact us at +972-2-298-5372, Email: email@example.com or see our website: www.upmrc.org
Why don't you send one of the above statistics to your MP and MSP. The one that sticks in my mind, for personal reasons, is that over the past six weeks almost one out of two people who need kidney diaylsis treatment [i.e. a life or death situation] have been unable to reach medical facilities because of the Israeli Army.
Sent: 11 March 2002 16:27
As the crisis and bloodshed escalates in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, you can imagine the barrage of emails flying in all directions.
Israeli citizens live in terror of the next suicide bomb attack. Palestinians citizens under siege are being attacked by the Israeli state, soldiers and Jewish settlers. Refugees are being bombed in their homes with little chance of escape.
One of the most hideous spectacles that doesn't seem to get much media coverage (cf. the graphic pictures of the aftermath of suicide bombings inside Israel) is the targeting of Palestinian doctors and ambulance staff as they try to reach the wounded and dying.
I have picked out two accounts to forward for your attention. Retaining a certain emotional distance is important in my job, but the first account from Beit Sahour is particularly close to my heart. In July/August 2000, I helped run a summer club for teenagers in Beit Sahour just outside Bethlehem, including a visit to Dheisha Refugee Camp. I learnt more from these kids than they could ever learn from me, and I promised I would tell "their story". Like you, I would guess, I am uncomfortable with the use of the word "martyrs", but I think you will not fail to pick up the level of sheer desperation and human tragedy. Above all, the scandal of non-intervention on the part of the international community and Western Christians is the hardest to bear (Beit Sahour is 80% Christian, 20% Muslim).
For those of you who are not MPs, please write to your MPs. Please ALL send letters to the Prime Minister & Foreign Secretary - send these both direct & via your MP, requesting s/he forward them. There is a list of useful addresses at the bottom of this e-mail.
From: Beit Sahour Municipality
Early this morning Israeli tanks, supported by helicopters flying overhead, have started with their mad reoccupation of Bethlehem district by digging tunnels to prevent citizens from leaving the town while they come in and do their dirty work. At two o9clock in the morning they started to make their move into Bethlehem and its surrounding areas. They started with heavy bombing of the Al Aida and Dheishe refugee camps. The death toll in Bethlehem district is 7, among them a women and a pharmacist who is the director of the Al Yamameh hospital while he was assisting with the injuries from Dheishe refugee camp.
The death toll in the West Bank and Gaza up to this minute to 45 martyrs among them many children and women.
As of this minute Israeli tanks and Apaches are continuing with their mad attacks against our people everywhere in Palestine. In Bethlehem, and after the funeral of the two dead that were buried in Beit Sahour cemetery, Israeli soldiers are entering further into Bethlehem and taking over many of the high buildings to install military snipers to shoot their so called Palestinian targets. The people are terrified and do not know what will happen next.
Sharon is going mad and he is very close to committing another massacre on the scale of the Sabra and Shatilla massacres in 1982 in Lebanon. Who will stop him?
Please take action now and demonstrate to your government to stop the killing of our people, to stop Sharon from committing any more deaths. Where is your consciousness; wake up now and I mean now. We are terrified, our children are petrified and keep asking questions that I do not have answers for.
We deplore the madness, the injustice of Sharon and his army. Are you listening to me, do you hear my urgent call for help? Do you want the toll of Martyrs to be raised even more, where is justice in the world? Here in Palestine there are human beings who are creations of God and are begging for your intervention and help to stop the dangerous escalation of the political situation. We need your support to stop the aggression against us. Come and see for yourself what the Israeli soldiers are doing, the most brutal measures against all Palestinians; words can9t describe how bad is the situation in each corner of Palestine. We call urgently for your help.
By the time you receive this email, how many more martyrs will have been added on to your list?
How much louder do I have to be, so you all can realize the seriousness of the escalation of this deadly conflict?
I would like to share with you the latest violation of Palestinian rights that the Israeli soldiers are doing right of this moment. An alert message was sent out to all citizens in Gaza informing them that the Israeli soldiers have confiscated a Red Cross car and are now using it to enter deep into the town and have killed many Palestinians.
No place is safe in Gaza
The Union of Health Work Committees in Gaza appeals to friends and colleagues in the international community to call upon governments to stop Israel's aggression against Palestinians in the Gaza strip and West Bank.
Israeli occupying forces frequently prevent our emergency health crews from evacuating casualties, sometimes causing them to bleed to death. In recent weeks, several Palestinian paramedics and doctors have been shot and killed in the course of their duties by Israeli forces. Our medical facilities in the northern part of the Gaza strip are receiving increasing numbers of children who are showing symptoms of hysteria, sleeping disorders, and other kinds of mental and emotional trauma.
Movement between different areas of the Gaza strip is now prohibited denying our health crews access to workplaces and of patients to treatment. Isolated rural areas are almost completely without medical care.
Daily air raids by Israeli F-16 fighters jets, which have damaged a number of schools have completely disrupted educational activities. The UN has had to close down three schools located in highly populated civilian residential areas, after they had been damaged in Israeli air raids. Children are afraid to return to schools and feel that no place is safe in Gaza.
The Palestinian people are badly in need of
international protection. For more information please contact
Copy of email to Palestine General fedaration of Trade Unions (PGFTU) in Nablus MJK
Date: 21 February 2002 17:59
Subject: Attack on the PGFTU Offices Colleagues and Friends PGFTU Nablus
The outrageous and barbaric attack on your offices has been condemned by trades unionists around the world. Following my meeting with you at the premises last August, I have been able to give first hand account of your struggle to many comrades and friends here and in the newspapers.We have protested to the Israeli and UK governments. We cannot be with you in body, but are in spirit and solidarity.
Mike J Kirby
Copy of email to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Date: 21 February 2002 17:48
Subject: Attacks on the PGFTU HQ
I wish to register the strongest protest at your unprecedented attach on the headquarters of the PGFTU. I was able to meet with colleagues in that building last August 2001. There was no evidence that the building was used for other than bona fide trade union activity. Your outrageous and barbaric attack will be condemned by trades unionists around the world.
Mike J Kirby
Some useful contact details:
Rt Hon Jack Straw, Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, King Charles St, London SW1A 2AH
Copy to Ben Bradshaw MP, Parliamentary
Under-Secretary of State FCO: Email via: www.fco.gov.uk MPs:
you don't need a fax machine: see www.faxyourmp.com
BBC switchboard: 08700100222
A mission too far
Haim Weiss, who was once glad to serve in the Israeli army, tells his defence secretary why he will not go to the West Bank
Monday May 6, 2002
Dear Ben Eliezer
I must put in writing the reasons that have led me to one of the most difficult decisions of my life - to refuse the call for reserve duty in the areas of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank], and the Gaza Strip.
This decision was difficult for two reasons. First and foremost is a matter of principle: I believe that living in a democracy offers equal parts privilege and obligation, and that it is my duty to adhere to the decisions made by majority rule, barring exceptional circumstances. The second reason is that over many years of reserve duty, I have not only served a very important cause, but also formed close bonds with the soldiers in my company and battalion. It is extremely difficult to imagine them serving on dangerous missions while I sit at home.
Despite this, the current situation leaves me no choice but to refuse. The citizen's conscience provides a critical foundation for the checks and balances inherent in a democracy. Israel has done more than grant citizens full rights to protest against injustices. By including the concept of "a clearly illegal command" in the code of military law, it has obliged its soldiers to refuse to carry out orders that are immoral or opposed to thevalues on which a democracy is based.
As I see it, this concept means that when a soldier is issued with a command opposed to his moral values, he must refuse to obey it, report the event, and ensure that such orders will not be repeated. A soldier who does not do so cannot escape being held morally responsible by claiming that he only carried out orders, but can expect to be tried for his actions. This lawindicates that the military and the state see the soldier as an autonomous moral being, who must carry out commands only if they pass his moralscrutiny.
The most critical question that arises is "what exactly is an illegal command?" What is immoral as opposed to just inconvenient or unpleasant, and into which category does the current situation in the territories fall?
An order to fire on a child standing before a roadblock is clearly illegal. But if the order is to shoot above his head to chase him from the roadblock, does the emotional damage the shooting causes the child make the order illegal? Is it illegal to continually enter Palestinian citizens' homes in the middle of the night? Is it illegal to prevent the free movement of Palestinian citizens? Aren't the searches, the humiliation, our many mistakes, an indication that our treatment of the Palestinian population under our rule is clearly illegal?
Military law does not define what a clearly illegal order is, but leaves it to the soldier. My interpretation of the law does not limit it to orders involving attacking, killing or injuring people. Rather, it includes any command that, when obeyed, leads to humiliating human beings, robbing them of self-respect, and depriving them of the basic human rights protected under the UN declaration of human rights, a document signed by Israel.
I used to believe there was a purpose to my presence in the territories. I believed the solutions I offered would prevent problems. Today, I believe my presence cannot solve those problems and that the orders issued are illegal because they deprive the Palestinian population of its basic rights and freedoms.
Prohibiting Palestinians from travelling along roads without providing alternative routes, the never-ending delays at roadblocks, the many hours required to travel short distances, the humiliation, the destruction of homes, the incessant searches, the need to aim weapons at innocent women and children - all these actions turn the Israeli Defence Force into an immoral occupying force, and in these I refuse to participate.
These actions on the part of the IDF provide no protection to Israel. They protect only the settlements built on conquered territory, where Israel has no right to establish settlements. The friction with the Palestinian population is caused by the need to provide settlers with freedom of movement, not by the need to prevent suicide bombers entering Israeli territory. As long as Israel continues to hold the settlements, it will be forced to act immorally toward the Palestinian population.
In addition to the great harm we are causing daily to Palestinians, we damage ourselves as a society. Our society is based on moral precepts in Judaism, which states that "loved is a person created in God's image". Instead, we are raising a generation of violent young people immune to pain and human suffering, a generation who don't see in the Palestinian a human being, only part of a mass to be avoided and feared. We are raising a generation that stops pregnant women, old people and children from getting to hospital.
I am very sorry that things have reached this point. I would be very glad to serve the IDF on any mission entrusted to us, as long as its objective is not connected with subduing the Palestinian population under our rule.
Haim Weiss, 32, is a captain in the tank corps and served in the IDF for four years during his military service. He is completing a PhD in Hebrew literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
24 hour a day vigil George Square Glasgow
Plus Rally 19 October
Since Saturday there has been a 24hour a day peace vigil in George Square. Some intrepid souls are occupying a caravan in the Square until the rally on Saturday at least and possibly for longer.
Various events are planned during the week at the vigil:
- On Wednesday morning there is a press conference for the demonstration on the 19th with representatives from most of the organisations in the Scottish Coalition for Justice Not War at 10am.
- On Wednesday evening there will be an open-air video night with videos about Palestine, Iraq and US war plans being shown on a huge screen above the caravan from 7pm. Wrap up warm, come along and get a cup of soup as well
- bring any videos you think we might want to see. - On Thursday there is an anti-poverty action, to mark the International Day of Action on Poverty with a balloon release between midday and 1pm (contact Tricia on 0141 440 1990 for more details)
- On Friday there will be an open top double-decker bus tour of the city starting at the vigil at 10.30am to publicise the demonstration with a double-decker decorated with anti-war slogans.
And every evening between 4pm and 6pm the vigillers will be leafleting at the Underground and train stations in the city centre to publicise the demonstration. (If you can meet at the vigil to collect leaflets.) This is our chance to make the demonstration on Saturday historic - come and help!
The vigil needs your support - the caravan does not have any heating and people are there 24 hours a day. If you can please call in to say hello, sign the visitor's book and wish the folk there well. If you can spare a few hours at the vigil as well that would be great.
You can contact the vigil directly on 079496 55647 Or through Scottish CND on 0141 423 1222 or 077514 77628
SATURDAY 19th OCTOBER: SCOTLAND SAYS DON'T ATTACK IRAQ - FREEDOM FOR PALESTINE March & Rally. Assemble 11.30am George Square. Rally at 1pm.
With feeder marches from: Southside: Assemble 10.30, Kenmuir Pk Sighthill: Assemble 10.30 Huntingdon Sq
West End: Ass. 10.45 University Grdns
East End: Assemble 10.30 Annfield Place Hope to see you there!top