The Palestine Brief (12) Brothers jailed by US and expelled to Gaza speak out, Haniya discusses siege, electricity with Mursi

The Palestine Brief (12)

Brothers jailed by US and expelled to Gaza speak out

Haniya discusses siege, electricity with Mursi

Report: Palestinian children in military custody

A weekly report published by the Center for Political and Development Studies (CPDS), Gaza on the latest developments in Palestine.

July 29, 2012

  • Brothers jailed by US and expelled to Gaza speak out

Bayan and Basman Elashi, Palestinians from Gaza, experienced two years of solitary confinement between their arrests and their 2004 trial in the U.S. “I was only allowed to receive visits from my immediate family visits from my wife, my children and my mother, not my brothers or my friends,” Bayan said.

The brothers were convicted in October 2006, “of basically violating a presidential executive order, which prevents US subjects from dealing with the property of designated terrorists,” Bayan said. They received sentences of 84 months each, and were released from prison in January 2009. At that point, the government sought to deport them.

“The most important thing we need people to know is that the US government has a certain view of Middle East policy,” Bayan said. “If anybody has an opinion opposing this policy, the government will use its legal system against them. The courts will yield to the government’s wishes and overlook, and even violate, all the legal and constitutional rights of the individual. They’ll hand him a harsh sentence just to please the government, knowing, without a doubt, that he didn’t violate US law.”

“Especially if that person is a Muslim or an Arab or a Palestinian or from Gaza,” he added.[1]

·         Haniya discusses siege, electricity with Mursi

Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian PM in Gaza, met with the Egyptian president in Cairo on Thursday. In a statement, Hamas said Mursi had “promised to take measures that would ease the lives of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip”. Mursi’s spokesman said the meeting had touched on subjects including “lifting the siege and the suffering of the people in Gaza” and reconciliation with Hamas’s arch-rival, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas.

·         Report: Israeli forces detained 59 Palestinians last week

Israeli forces have detained 59 Palestinians last week, according to the Palestinian Center for Defending Detainees. In a statement Saturday, the group said that the detainees included one woman, Wafaa Shamasnah, and one parliamentarian, Ahmad Mubarak.

The majority of detainees last week were from Hebron district, as many as 15. Ten were detained in the Ramallah and al-Bireh district, seven in Jenin, and the rest in other West Bank districts.

·         AP Jerusalem bureau stands by false report of “forced conversions” in Gaza

The Associated Press Jerusalem bureau is standing by a baseless report that Christians in Gaza have been forced to convert to Islam, even after the agency’s own reporter acknowledged the claims weren’t true, as The Electronic Intifada reported.

A week ago, in a story headlined “Gaza Christians protest ‘forcible conversions,’” AP’s Diaa Hadid reported on a protest by several people in Gaza who alleged that two Christian family members had been kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam.

Hadid did not bother to independently verify these sensational claims and rumors before reporting them.

It was subsequently confirmed by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights that no forced conversions took place and that the two individuals had converted voluntarily and sought protection from authorities fearing reprisals from their community.

Yet the false claims of “forced conversions” continue to be used by various groups to paint a false and alarming picture of the situation of Christians in Gaza, the latest being the extreme Islamophobic Gatestone Institute, an entity funded by Nina Rosenwald, “The Sugar Mama of Anti-Muslim Hate.”[2]

·         Report: children in military custody

The report assesses the treatment of Palestinian children under Israeli military law, examining each stage in the process: arrest, interrogation, bail hearings and plea bargains, trial, sentencing, detention and complaints.

The report deals with a comparative analysis of Israeli domestic law as it applies to Israeli children and Israeli military law as it applies to Palestinian children. The central questions addressed are: what are the differences between the two systems and is there any justification for these differences.

·         Father of eight to be released after 103-day-epic hunger strike

[3]Israeli Prison Service (IPS) had a meeting with Rikhawi due to his deteriorating health condition. After a prolonged discussion and because of his determination, the occupation agreed on Rikhawi’s demand to be released (he will be released in January 2013). It also agreed to unite him with his prisoner brother Shadi Rihkawi, sentenced to 12 years, at Isheel jail from the beginning of next week.

·         Al-Rekhawi: Strike aimed to highlight sick detainees

Palestinian prisoner Akram al-Rekhawi, who ended a 102 day hunger strike on Sunday, says he aimed to draw attention to the plight of seriously ill detainees. In a letter sent to the PA Minister of Detainee Affairs, al-Rekhawi said prisoners languishing in the clinic of Ramle prison suffered medical neglect by Israeli prison authorities.

He said he did not fear death during his hunger strike but wanted to end the suffering of Palestinian prisoners whose medical needs were neglected without regard for international humanitarian law. The father of eight said there was an international moral responsibility to end the Israeli government’s disregard for prisoners’ lives, particularly those with serious illnesses and disabilities.[4]

·         Dweik: Reconciliation must come before elections

Elected speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council Prof. Aziz Dweik has criticized the Palestinian Authority (PA) for rushing to hold elections without guaranteeing minimal standards of freedom of speech, equal opportunity, transparency and fairness.

Speaking during a televised interview Tuesday, Dweik said the wise thing to do was to reconcile Palestinian differences before holding elections.

“Elections can only be the outcome of reconciliation, elections can’t be a substitution for reconciliation.”[5]

·         Israel classifies parliamentary bloc as banned group

The international Tadamun (solidarity) society for human rights said the Israeli occupation authority issued a military decision classifying Hamas lawmakers in the West Bank as a banned group.

Spokesman for the society Ahmed Al-Beitawi stated that commander of the Israeli army Avi Mizrahi issued a military order based on the emergency regulations of 1945 classifying the Islamic parliamentary bloc, the Islamist lawmakers and their offices as one banned organization.

According to this decision, Beitawi says, the Israeli occupation regime gave itself the right to storm the offices of Hamas lawmakers in the West Bank, confiscate their contents, close them and arrest all lawmakers and their employees.

·         Israel destroys Umayyad palaces next to Al-Aqsa Mosque

Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowments and Heritage has revealed that Israel has stepped-up its plans to destroy the Umayyad Caliphate palaces south of Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Israelis have also extended a network of bridges and stairs around the archaeological area adjacent to Al-Aqsa, aiming at the transformation of the entire area to provide service facilities for the so-called Third Temple.

The foundation asserted that “if and when Israel’s works in the Umayyad palaces are completed, this will result in the Judaisation of the entire region south of Al-Aqsa mosque under the pretext of  the ‘Torah Park’”. This is linked by an underground tunnel with the entrance of the Wadi Hilweh neighborhood in Silwan.

·         New Release: English edition of Mourid El-Barghouti’s book I Was Born There

British publishing house Bloomsbury has just issued an English edition of the famous Palestinian poet Mourid El-Barghouti’s book Wouledt Honak Wouledt Hona (I Was Born There, I Was Born Here). The book was translated by the renowned Arabic literature translator Humphrey Davis. Davis was able to carry all the feelings of the writer and his contradictions over from the Arabic text to the English edition, without losing the fluidity of the original text.

The book is full of memories, poetic talks and even the coffee rituals of the El-Barghouti family; it reflects the life of the Palestinians in the diaspora in the past six decades, and at its core it is a tribute to the people who continue live with dignity though all the difficulties they find in their life. The author starts his book with his trip from Jericho on to the Gaza Strip crossing the Jordanian river to Amman, where his mother lives.

In the mid-1960s, he moved to Cairo to study. Before he could return to the West Bank, the 1967 war broke out, Israel occupied the territory and he was prevented from returning home. Mourid Barghouti, 68, Palestinian poet and writer, was born and raised in Ramallah in Palestine. He currently resides in Egypt and has many published poetic works such as Midnight and Other PoemsA Small Sun, and I Saw Ramallah.[6]

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