Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Security cabinet approves broader IDF operation in Gaza

1. The IDF on Tuesday expanded its ground operation in the Gaza Strip. Infantry, engineering and armored forces are now operating in three sectors: in the vicinity of Erez Crossing, around Beit Hanun in the northern Strip and at Dahaniya Airport in the south.

Givati Brigade troops, aided by bulldozers and tanks, entered Tuesday morning to sweep the Erez Crossing area. The crossing, where most traffic was halted after Corporal Shalit's kidnapping 10 days ago, was closed down completely. The troops penetrated several hundred meters into the Strip and searched for tunnels following an intelligence report of a tunnel dug in the area.

The IDF is concerned about the possibility of another tunnel infiltration into one of the Israeli outposts or communities around the Strip. Similar searches are taking place in the other two sectors. On Tuesday, the troops entered the Beit Hanun region - a kilometer into PA territory.

2.The security cabinet, convened by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the wake of a Tuesday evening Qassam rocket strike on Ashkelon, approved Wednesday morning an expansion of the ongoing military operation in the Gaza Strip.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Severe violations of human rights in the Gaza Strip

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) and the Interchurch related Development Organization (ICCO) express their deep concern regarding the latest escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is with deep regret that we receive reports of grave violations of human rights in the region. The EMHRN and ICCO call on all sides to refrain from the use of violence against civilians and to respect international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

October last year, the EMHRN sent a mission to the Gaza Strip to study the situation after the Israeli “disengagement”. The mission was co-sponsored by ICCO. The mission reports that Israel remains the occupying power of the Gaza Strip even after the “Israeli Disengagement Plan”. The mission report is attached.

What have been witnessed in the Gaza Strip after the Israeli unilateral deployment during the EMHRN mission and during the last days are in all too many aspects severe violations against international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

Attacks on civilians, Palestinian and Israeli, cannot be justified by any means, wherever and for whatever reason they take place. They are contrary to the right to life – the most basic human rights value.

The Israeli aerial and artillery attacks which are taking place, according to Israel, in response to continuing Kassam missle attacks against Israeli population centres and to the kidnapping (capture) of Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit by Palestinian militants, constitute a severe threat to the lives of the Palestinian civilians.

Under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949, the civilian population of an occupied territory is protected persons. Article 27 of the Convention establishes that protected persons “shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof…” Israel, as the Occupying Power, is obliged to comply with these provisions.

Palestinian civilian infrastructure has been severely damaged by the bombing of the Gaza Strip’s only power plant, of the two bridges that connect the southern, middle and northern parts of the Gaza Strip, as well as the destruction of roads and public buildings. Destruction of such properties cannot be classified as a legitimate military targets.

According to EMHRN’s member in Gaza, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, restoring the power plant and resuming its operations could take up to 6 months and will cost millions of dollars. It must be emphasised that parts of the Palestinian infrastructure have financed by the EU and EU Member States. As international donors they should not continue replacing respect for international law with only financial and humanitarian assistance. They should hold the violators of international law accountable.

The complete closure of the borders to the Gaza Strip constitutes restrictions to Palestinians’ freedom of movement. The bombing of the bridges has severely restricted movement inside the Strip. This not only threatens people’s lives and security but also deprives them of the access to health and education. It will have implications on Palestinian economy due to losses in trade and business.

Israel’s control of Palestinians’ movement between Palestinian territories might lead to further alienation between Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem – hindering the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Israel’s actions constitute collective punishment against the Gazan population, reaching to 1,6 million persons. Collective punishment is prohibited according to Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The detention by Israel of a large number of Palestinian Cabinet Ministers, members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and a number of Hamas political leaders constitutes an attack on democratically elected representatives. This constitutes an attack on the Palestinian democracy, hence a further deterioration of the democracy and the building of a Palestinian state.

The EMHRN and ICCO call upon:
Israel to immediately to put an end to the attacks on the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli government to release the recently detained Hamas politicians or to put them before just trial.

The Palestinian Authority to take all possible measures against those who launch attacks on Israeli population centres from within the Gaza Strip.

The EMHRN calls upon the group(s) holding the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, to provide him with appropriate medical care in accordance with international law.[1]

The EU to make public reference to the illegal actions carried out by the Israeli armed forces that are causing the humanitarian crisis in the OPT. The EU should call on Israel to stop these illegal actions, reverse their effects to the fullest extent possible, and make correct reparation for the harm they have wrongfully caused.

The EU to base the implementation of the Action Plan for Israel under the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) on a clear acknowledgement by Israel of its status and duties as an Occupying Power.

The EU to make it clear to Israel that the EU’s provision of humanitarian assistance is within the rules of international humanitarian law and does not release Israel from its responsibilities as an Occupying Power. The EU should demand reimbursement from Israel for all costs and additional costs incurred on the provision of humanitarian relief deliveries as a consequence of access and mobility restrictions imposed unlawfully by Israel’s military authorities.

On going destruction in Gaza

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

On going destruction: Gaza

Gaza strip is 40km long and 10km wide, it is home to more than 1.4m Palestinians. The shape of the territory was defined by the Armistice Line following the creation of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent war between the Israeli and Arab armies. The majority of Gaza's residents are refugees who fled or were expelled in 1948 from the land that became Israel - most of these still live in eight refugee camps administered by the United Nations.
Some of the camps have merged with nearby towns, while others such as Nuseirat and Bureij are self-contained.
The influx of refugees into the narrow strip of land means it now has one of the highest population densities on earth. About 20% of refugee dwellings are not connected to the sewage system and waste water flows in open channels along roads.

Israeli soldiers and tanks have moved into southern Gaza after overnight air strikes that destroyed three bridges and a power station, leaving much of Gaza without electricity.

Friday, June 23, 2006

1948:War against civilians

Apparently the Israeli landscape has been created thought territorial encounters. Since the beginning 1948 (and before). the concepts of “war against terror(/civilians)” and “Walking through Walls”” (mainly of homes) as a mean of destruction of living environments (/cleansing) was already well developed.

The new (appropriated) Israeli landscape

Overlooking the ghosts of its past

Israel: building a new country

Anecdotes on Israel "Zionism turned the Land of Israel into the stage for the great modern drama of Jewish history, giving its physical form a starring role. "

Monday, June 19, 2006

One Land Two Systems - online magazine

A collection of articles on the territorial aspect of the Israeli Palestinian conflict - link:

Reconstruction of Memory - Lifta, Israel

A poignant example of eradication of local memory is the village of Lifta, which lies just outside Jerusalem. The community has been abandoned since the Israeli army drove out the last of its Palestinian inhabitants in 1948. Today Lifta is more or less a ghost town while, the former villagers live mainly in East Jerusalem and Ramallah. Now, however, a preservation project aims to turn Lifta into an expensive and exclusive Jewish residential area - erasing its history in the process.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Destruction and Reconstruction: District Six

When the apartheid government swooped on District Six, Cape Town in 1965, forcibly removing its occupants and declaring the area a "whites-only" zone, the rich fabric of an impoverished but vibrant community was torn to shreds.

Over 60 000 people were wrenched from their homes, livelihoods, community centres and societal networks, and relocated to the bleak plains of the Cape Flats, several kilometres away.

District Six in Cape Town and Sophiatown in Johannesburg, both sites of diverse and vibrant subcultures, posed similar threats to the apartheid government, which was intent on enforcing "separate development" for different ethnic groups. Sophiatown was razed to the ground in 1957 to make way for the "white area" of Triomf (meaning "triumph" in Afrikaans).

Destruction and Reconstruction: Kosovo

The destruction and reconstruction of architectural heritage in Kosovo:
a post-war report Andrew Herscher and Andras Riedlmayer

From the spring of 1998 until the summer of 1999, Kosovo was the scene of armed conflict and savage ‘ethnic cleansing’. Thousands of the region's Kosovar Albanian inhabitants were killed and nearly a million were driven from their homes. Less well known than the human tragedy is the fate of Kosovo's rich cultural heritage---its churches, mosques, monasteries, and other religious monuments, traditional residential architecture, well-preserved historic urban centres, libraries, archives, museums and other cultural and educational institutions.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Destruction and Construction: Main

We have discovered that we can identify patterns in the shapes of destruction and construction, in the physical configurations of the destroyed (refugee camps, unrecognized villages, shreds of old communities spread, as sub groups, in exiles, ghettos and enclaves, ghost towns, transformed monuments etc) and in the physical configurations of the constructed (new social structures -that can be a selected, existing, structure- that are being accommodated in gated communities, new cities, new institutions, new neighborhoods, new homes, new infrastructures etc.) more details @

People's living environments are the first to be targeted, and occasionally destroyed, under situations of conflicting territorial agendas.

- Call for stories (on destruction & reconstruction) of your surroundings -