Thursday, September 1, 2011

American Muslims Call for Gilad Shalit's Release

American Muslims Call for Gilad Shalit's Release


Published August 31, 2011.

A group of prominent American Muslims issued a letter urging Hamas to immediately release captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

The Aug. 26 letter’s 11 signatories include the two Muslim members of Congress – Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Andre Carson (D-IN) – as well as Muslim academics and communal figures.

“We believe Hamas’ harsh treatment and five-year detention of Shalit is wrong,” the Muslim leaders wrote in their letter, which was addressed to Khaled Mashal, the Syrian-based chairman of Hamas’ political bureau.

The letter said that Hamas has complained about the conditions under which Israel holds thousands of Palestinian prisoners. Citing the teachings of Muhammad, the letter’s signatories wrote that Muslims are “instructed to ‘repel the evil deed with one that is better.’”

“The struggle for Palestinian human rights and self-determination must be based on this ethical and moral code,” the letter said. “Hamas’ inhumane detention of Shalit undermines the Palestinian people’s legitimate aspirations for human rights and a state of their own, existing in peace and security beside Israel.”

Along with the two congressmen, the letter’s signatories include Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, who was involved initially in the controversial effort to build a Muslim community center near Ground Zero; Sayyid Syeed, national director of the Islamic Society of North America’s Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances; and Akbar Ahmed, a former Pakistani ambassador to the United Kingdom who now teaches at American University.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Israeli military arms settlers in preparation for Palestinian protests

West Bank settlers are given training before protests predicted to coincide with a Palestinian petition for UN recognition

The Israeli military is arming and training West Bank settlers in preparation for mass protests by Palestinians that it expects to erupt around the time that the UN is asked to recognise a Palestinian state, according to a leaked document.

Teargas and stun grenades are being distributed and training sessions held with settlement security teams, according to the document obtained by Haaretz.

The army has also drawn lines on maps around Jewish settlements close to Palestinian villages to guide troops, police and settlement security chiefs. Protesters who breach the first line will be subject to teargas and other methods of crowd dispersal. If a second "red line" is crossed, soldiers will be permitted to open fire at protesters' legs.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) confirmed it was liaising with settlers over Operation Summer Seeds, its codename for the military response to the expected protests. However, Palestinian leaders vigorously deny that violent protests are planned, and the Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, has said he expects September to pass quietly.

In a statement the IDF said: "The IDF maintains an ongoing, professional dialogue with the community leadership and security personnel throughout Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] while devoting great efforts to training local forces and preparing them to deal with any possible scenario.....READ MORE

Monday, August 29, 2011

Don’t demolish my future!...To stay updated join UNWRA on Facebook and Twitter.

Six-year-old Nawal Ead is about to start first grade. "After the Eid I'm going to school," she told us excitedly.

Don’t demolish my future!

Campaign to save a West Bank school from demolition

UPDATE: Alarming developments in the West Bank community of Khan al Ahmar. Settlers from Kfar Adumim have filed a petition against the school, asking for an injunction not to re-open the school this September and pushing for the school to be swiftly demolished.

Though the Israeli Supreme Court rejected the request to close the school, the petition has set the clock ticking for the demolition of the school. Such a demolition would effectively deny the children of the community their education and jeopardise their future.

More on the situation in Khan al Ahmar.

How you can help:

Join our campaign

1) Raise awareness

On Facebook:
We are asking all our friends to donate their Facebook status.

Please share the photo of six-year-old Nawal whose school is under threat and copy and paste the following as your status:

"Don’t demolish my future!
Israel: Stop demolishing Palestinian schools."

On Twitter:
Copy the photo and tweet the following:
"Don’t demolish my future! Israel: Stop demolishing Palestinian schools #stopdemolitions #UNRWA"

2) Send a message of support

If you want to show your support for the children and community please write a short message on our Facebook wall ( We will print your messages of support and put them up on the walls for the start of the new school year on the 5th September.

To stay updated join us on Facebook and Twitter.

3) Stay informed about the bigger picture

This campaign is about more than just one school. We want Israel to stop the demolitions of schools, homes and infrastructure in the West Bank including East Jerusalem.

The Israeli practice of demolition, which has increased sharply in the first half of 2011, continues to devastate Palestinian families and communities in Area C – the 60 per cent of the West Bank controlled by Israel. Many of the people affected already live in poverty. Children are often hit hardest.

The vast majority of demolition orders are issued because a home or structure has been built without an Israeli permit. However, the Israeli planning system, condemned as discriminatory by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, makes it almost impossible for Palestinians to get a permit.

The UN estimates that there are more than 3,000 demolition orders outstanding in Area C alone, including 18 issued to schools.

Find out more on our demolitions watch section (updated monthly).

More on the alarming increase in West Bank demolitions.

The OCHA report “Displacement and insecurity in Area C of the West Bank” has detailed analysis of the current situation.

4) Support our demand that Israel meet its obligations under international law

Immediately cease demolitions of Palestinian-owned homes, schools and infrastructure, which cause displacement and dispossession, until Palestinians have access to a fair and nondiscriminatory planning system. This should include community participation in all levels of the planning process;

Families that have been forcibly displaced must be allowed to return to their homes in safety and dignity, and be given compensation for any harm they have suffered, including the destruction of land, homes and property.

UNWRA: Living with the threat of demolition

A’had, 11, builds a house out of clay at the UNRWA summer camp. “I want to have a house just like this when I grow up,” he says.

Living with the threat of demolition

Khan al Ahmar is a community fighting for survival. The 180-strong community faces the threat of imminent displacement if the Israeli authorities demolish their homes and school as planned. This may well destroy the Bedouin community, one of 20 in the area, who have become victims of creeping settlement expansion.

The land the community lives on has been slated for the expansion of settlements in the Ma’ale Adumim municipal area, in the Jerusalem periphery, despite the community’s decades’ long presence. Israeli authorities see Khan al Ahmar and the other Bedouin communities in the area, more than 2,300 people in all, as a hindrance to the planned expansion of Ma’ale Adumim, Kfar Adumim and other surrounding settlements, and to the construction of the West Bank Barrier, which would effectively annex this strategically significant area to Israel.

If implemented, the Israeli development plans would be the culmination of years of settlement expansion at the expense of the Bedouin communities. Since 1991, when large parts of the communities’ living areas were integrated into the expanded boundaries of Ma’ale Adumim, Israeli policies have increased the pressure on the communities to leave their homes.

Home demolitions, evictions and property confiscations, exacerbated by settler harassment and the economic effects of movement restrictions, have left these communities struggling to make ends meet and living in fear. The people of Khan al Ahmar have now exhausted all legal avenues to protect 12 homes and the school building from demolition. If these are destroyed, the community will not only be plunged into deeper poverty but may also be displaced and dispersed.

Click to see photos

Photo credit: Ala’a Ghosheh/UNRWA