Palestine: the view from Korea (March 11, 2013)

The Palestinian Authority has flatly rejected the US approach to a Palestinian state solution which would exclude Gaza.

International Solidarity Update

The Electronic Intifada reports that a new alliance of university-based Palestine solidarity groups calling itself the Canadian Student Coalition for Palestine was launched in February 2013 and aims to continue to build support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign inside Canada and challenge their government’s support for Israeli apartheid.

Palestine solidarity groups around the world are gearing up for the 9th annual Apartheid Week to protest the Israeli apartheid regime. You can find some excellent resources in English here.

Following the lead set by the UK, the government of the Netherlands is now asking its retailers to label all products imported from West Bank settlements, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. This may also set a precedent for a similar measure to be adopted across all of the European Union.

Despite this development, consumers must remain vigilant against the efforts of companies profiting from the apartheid like Soda Stream who continue to mislead retailers about the origin of their products to keep their products on the shelves in the UK. Soda Stream products are currently being sold in South Korea.

Inside Israel and Occupied Palestine

In the latest clear sign the country is far down the road to apartheid, Israel has started running two segregated Palestinian-only bus services for day-laborers commuting to work in Israel from the West Bank after Jewish settlers complained that Palestinians were a security risk. In response, two buses were set on fire. Al Jazeera hosted a debate on whether or not Israel is in fact an apartheid regime.

Israeli’s continued blockade of the Gaza Strip continues to deny Gazans access to important fishing areas and has involved continued attacks on fisherman with the capture of nine boats since the November 21 ceasefire agreement and the following extension of the fishing limit from three nautical miles to six. If you haven’t already seen it, it is worth watching this very interesting visual presentation of how Israel maintains a buffer zone around Gaza through Al Haq’s virtual field trip.

More privately owned Palestinian land is being confiscated in Beit Safafa in occupied East Jerusalem for the construction of another Israeli-only highway for settlers which will divide the existing neighborhood and block access to the community’s primary school and mosque. The community of 10,000 continues to rally together to protest the planned project.

In what can only be described as a disgraceful and disgusting act of colonial violence the Middle East Monitor reported on Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem’s video footage of Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) spraying of the chemical ‘Skunk’* over Palestinian homes in the village of Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank as a form of collective punishment in response to weekly protests organized by villagers.

22-year-old Palestinian college student Muhammad Asfour of Aboud Village in Ramallah died on March 7 of wounds sustained from a rubber bullet shot at his head by an Israeli soldier during a demonstration in support of hunger striking prisoners held two weeks prior.

Reuters published an illuminating article on the state of Palestinian military detainees languishing in Israeli prisons, which includes a total of some 800,000 since 1967, including 15,000 women. 4,800 Palestinians including football players and politicians are currently being held in Israeli jail cells including 178 in administrative detention. Under Israeli military law which is used to enforce Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, Palestinians can be held for up to 90 days and in some cases indefinitely without any charges being brought against them. Last week alone, 60 Palestinians including 12 children were arrested while a total of 34 were wounded (including 10 children).

UNICEF released a 22-page report last week detailing the appalling treatment of Palestinian child detainees by Israel, stating that such treatment “appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized.” On average, two Palestinian children aged between 12 and 17 are detained and interrogated by Israel every day.

Israel marked International Women’s Day (March 8) by violently raiding the al-Aqsa mosque in occupied Jerusalem as Palestinians assembled for Friday prayers, injuring 75 Palestinians. Young Palestinians responded by throwing stones and other projectiles at the occupation forces as seen in this video and were eventually able to carry out the prayer service.

* The original write up referred to the spraying of raw sewage on Palestinian homes in the village of Nabi Saleh as incorrectly reported in the Middle East Monitor (MEMO).