Thursday, June 17, 2010

Amjad Shawa, Palestine, Cecelia Goin, Jerusalem, and Francis A. Boyle, on Gaza Embargo Change and Israel's Investigation into Flotilla Deaths

Talk Nation Radio for June 17, 2010

Amjad Shawa, PNGO Network, Palestine, Cecelia Goin, Jerusalem, and Francis A. Boyle, on Gaza, Was a deal struck to lighten the blockade of Gaza in exchange for cooperation with investigation of flotilla killings?

Israel announced it will add more items to the list of goods allowed into Gaza. We contacted Palestinian aid coordinator Amjad Shawa as the story was developing, ICRC, spokesperson Cecelia Goin for comment on their strongest call yet for Israel to lift its blockade, (see below) and Law Professor Francis A. Boyle with analysis of the blockade negotiations and Israel’s investigation of the Gaza flotilla deaths.

TRT: 29:00
Produced by Dori Smith
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Four of our 14 specialized ventilators for newborn babies are out of order. It is currently impossible to get spare parts into Gaza so that we can have the ventilators fixed. This is a real problem if we have many newborns in the intensive care unit at the same time'. Majdia Jouda, head of the neo-natal department at Shifa Hospital

INTRO: The entire process of easing the blockade went on over roughly two weeks. Israel first announced it would allow more food items like catchup and mayonnaise into Gaza, insulting Palestinians who said they wanted the blockade lifted, not eased for condiments. UN spokesperson Chris Gunness echoed their call. Then, in surprise global coordination, their voices were joined by top government officials in Turkey, the US, the EU, and at the Arab League: Ireland‘s most senior Catholic cleric, Cardinal Sean Brady, said both the economic and military blockade of Gaza should be lifted. And former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on June 16th that he was confident that Israel had agreed to a partial lifting of the blockade, that there would now be a list of non allowed goods, rather than the short list of 80 types of items to be allowed into Gaza by Israel.

ANALYSIS: Also, International Law expert Francis A. Boyle responds to Israel’s appointment of new members to their panel looking into deaths on board the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. He says the new members do not afford independence, and says he expects a whitewash. He expects neither Turkish or Palestinian officials to accept Israel’s investigation.Professor Francis A. Boyle has written definitive texts on international legal rights under conditions of war and occupation. He is skeptical about Israel’s ability to investigate itself about the Gaza flotilla killings.

Last week Israel announced it would be adding two non Israelis to the investigating panel, Brigadier Gen. Ken Watkin, former attorney to Canada’s military, and Lord David Trimble, former Ulster Unionist party head in Northern Ireland. He shared the Nobel Peace Prize with John Hume of the Social Democratic and Labour Party. Fellow Nobel peace prize winner Mairead Corrigan Mcguire, a 1976 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, questioned Trimble’s ability to be impartial.

(NYT, The Lede) Two weeks ago Lord Trimble attended an event set up by the Israeli government to combat what they called, a quote: “unprecedented delegitimization campaign against Israel, driven by the enemies of the Jewish state and perversely assumed by numerous international authorities.”

The new Friends of Israel Initiative includes former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton, and Bush’s staunch supporter in Spain, former Prime Minister, Jose Maria Aznar. Also, Netanayahu ally, and former Israeli ambassador Dore Gold addressed the event.

Spokespersons for Israel at their embassy in Washington declined to comment on air about any changes to the blockade of Gaza. They did not return our press call. Finally, during our second call to them we were able to confirm only that there was a cabinet meeting scheduled for June 17th to discuss Tony Blair’s recommendations. Their spokesperson said he preferred to be unnamed.

It was a rare crack in Israel’s usual tight control over news and information. But what was really going on, and would the easing of the blockade be meaningful? As the story was unfolding we asked Francis A. Boyle of the University of Illinois school of Law to comment. Professor Boyle has been advising members of the flotilla on international legal rights and has represented the Palestinians in the past.

See latest, Al Jazeera report on this matter here. "The new Israeli decision would allow the entry of some 120 types of goods and products that Israel embargoed after claiming that such goods could be used for military purposes.---Furthermore, Israel is expected to grant the UNRWA a green line to implement some projects and reconstruct schools and public building that were bombarded by the Israeli army during the war".

ICRC gravely concerned about humanitarian situation in Gaza, June 13, 2010

ICRC gravely concerned about humanitarian situation in Gaza
Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is alarmed about the deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip.

The continuing escalation of violence, with military operations taking place in highly populated areas, has serious consequences for the civilian population.

Over the past two weeks, Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip have led to the deaths of dozens of people and the wounding of many more, among them a large number of civilians. In one single incident on 12 July, nine family members – including children – were killed in their home by an air strike in Gaza City. In some cases, people living near operations have been unable to leave their homes for several days.

The ICRC has urged and continues to urge Israel to respect the rules of international humanitarian law. In particular, in the conduct of hostilities, Israel must take all precautions to spare civilian life and property. It must also ensure that the wounded have access to medical facilities.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is continuing to deteriorate. The strike on Gaza's only power plant on 28 June reduced the power supply in the Strip by half, with direct and indirect effects on the population. Hospitals and a large part of the water and waste water systems now depend on generators that consume considerable amounts of fuel, which is also in short supply owing to recurrent closures of the Strip. Furthermore, the strict controls imposed on the passage of basic items into the Strip have exacerbated the difficulties faced by residents, who were already living in precarious conditions. Under international humanitarian law, Israel is responsible for meeting the basic needs of the population, which include food, medical supplies and means of shelter.

As a further consequence of the ongoing situation in the Gaza Strip, hundreds of Palestinians have been stranded on the Egyptian side of the Rafah terminal, two of whom have reportedly died. The material and psychological conditions in which these people live are deteriorating day by day and no solution to their plight has been found by the parties concerned. The ICRC has already offered its services to facilitate their passage into the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, together with the Egyptian Red Crescent, it is providing the affected people with assistance.

The ICRC is seriously concerned about the consequences of the repeated launching of rockets from the Gaza Strip against the civilian population in Israel. These attacks, which have wounded several people, are indiscriminate and thus prohibited by international humanitarian law.

Finally, the ICRC urges those detaining IDF corporal Gilad Shalit to treat him humanely and allow him to contact his family. It has informed all the parties that it stands ready to provide its services.

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