The initial 3 items do not bode well for the new year. They all deal with the same topic: death. The news begins with the announcement of a Palestinian woman being severely injured yesterday in Bil’in at the protest against the route of the wall and theft of village land, and continue today in item 2 with her death, and in item 3 her burial. A protest of the killing is being held this moment in Tel Aviv.
I’m not superstitious, but the protester’s injury the last day of the former year and death today seem to suggest that what was will be, that this year will only be worse not better than last year. I hope that I am wrong. We’ll learn whether I am or not when 2011 becomes 2012.
Following the three items on 36 year old Jawaher Abu Rahmah, item 4 from the Jerusalm Post says that its readers rated the story about Israel’s attack of the Mavi Marmara as the top news story of the year. The Jerusalem Post report is surprisingly not favorable to Israel on the issue.
Items 5 and 6 are brief and in a more positive vein. Item 5 tells us that Egypt will allow a boat carrying supplies for Gaza to dock, to unload some of its cargo, and to allow most of the passengers to accompany the cargo into Gaza via the Rafah crossing. Considering Egypt’s past conduct regarding convoys into Gaza, this is an improvement.
Item 6 relates that there is a new orchestra in town: the Palestine National Orchestra. May it have a long and successful life.
The Popular Struggle Coordination Committee
January 1, 2011
Israeli Forces Kill Female Protester in Bil’in
Jawaher Abu Rahmah, 36, was evacuated to the Ramallah hospital yesterday after inhaling massive amounts of tear-gas during the weekly protest in Bil’in, and died of poisoning this morning. Abu Rahmah was the sister of Bassem Abu Rahmah who was also killed during a peaceful protest in Bil’in on April 17th, 2010.
Doctors at the Ramallah hospital fought for Jawaher Abu Rahmah’s life all night at the Ramallah Hospital, but were unable to save her life. Abu Rahmah suffered from severe asphyxiation caused by tear-gas inhalation yesterday in Bil’in, and was evacuated to the Ramallah hospital unconscious. She was diagnosed as suffering from poisoning caused by the active ingredient in the tear-gas, and did not respond to treatment.
Jawaher Abu Rahmah was the sister of Bil’in activist, Bassem Abu Rahmah, who was shot dead with a high velocity tear-gas projectile during a demonstration in the village on April 17th, 2009. See here for a video of his shooting.
Media Contact: Jonathan Pollak +972-54-632-7736
Mohammed Khatib, a member of the Bil’in Popular Committee said this morning: “We are shocked and furious for Israel’s brutality, which once again cost the life of a peaceful demonstrator. Israel’s lethal and inhumane response to our struggle will not pass. In the dawn of a new decade, it is time for the world to ask Israel for accountability and to bring about an end to the occupation.”
Adv. Michael Sfard, who represents the village in an appeal against the Wall added: “The son was killed by a directly aimed projectile, the daughter choked in gas. Two brave protestors against a regime that kills the innocent and doesn’t investigate its criminals. We will not quiet, we will not give up, we will not spare any effort until those responsible will be punished. And they will.”
January 01, 2011
Bil’in protester dies after exposure to tear gas shot by IDF
Palestinian PM Fayyad also present at the weekly West Bank anti-separation wall demonstration where Jawaher Abu Rahmah was critically injured.
A resident of the West Bank village of Bil’in died on Saturday morning in a Ramallah hospital after she was exposed to tear gas that was shot by IDF soldiers to disperse the crowd of demonstrators against the separation wall in the village on Friday.
[ Palestinian, Israeli and foreign activists run away from tear gas in the West Bank village of Bil’in, December 31, 2010.
Photo by: Reuters]
Jawaher Abu Rahmah, 36 years old, was the sister of Bassem Abu Rahmah, who was killed by an extended-range tear gas projectile fired at his chest by IDF soldiers at a demonstration against the separation wall in Bil’in on April 17, 2009.
Weekly demonstrations against the fence have been held in Bil’in for the past five years, where villagers say the barrier unjustly separates them from their lands. In 2007, the Supreme Court accepted these arguments and ruled that the route of the fence should be moved, and that some 170 acres of land be returned to the villagers. The IDF has yet to implement the court’s decision.
The weekly demonstrations against the separation wall set out from the village under the banner ‘The Last Day of the Wall.’ Although the IDF announced that the area was a closed military zone and set up a number of roadblocks around the village, hundreds of Palestinian, Israel and international demonstrators succeeded in reaching the center of the village by foot.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was also present at the demonstration in order to show support for the Palestinian popular struggle in Bil’in and throughout the West Bank. Fatah youth from various locations across the West Bank came to the village on Friday to participate in the demonstration.
Over the course of the demonstration, activists succeeded in tearing three holes in the chain-link fence that comprises the separation barrier in Bil’in, and in removing a section of it, which they later mounted on display in the center of the village.
Demonstrators reported that IDF soldiers shot massive amounts of tear gas into the village, and that they felt that the tear gas was especially potent. After Abu Rahmah choked on the gas, she was taken to a hospital in Ramallah.
The doctors that treated Abu Rahmah told her family that she was not responding to their treatment. Over the course of the night, her condition worsened, and she died at nine o’clock in the morning on Saturday.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad (C) takes part in a march inside the West Bank village of Bilin, December 31, 2010.
Photo by: Reuters
The IDF spokesperson has yet to issue an official public statement regarding the incident, but some IDF sources have said that there was no irregular use of tear gas at Friday’s demonstration.
The IDF sources say Abu Rahmah’s death may have been the result of an asthmatic condition compounded by the tear gas, and that if the gas had been any different than usual more people who have been negatively affected by it.
The sources added that the incident was under investigation and that they are awaiting clarifications from Palestinian medical officials, as they have up until now received inconsistent reports from the Palestinian side.
Over a year after Jawaher Abu Rahmah’s brother Bassem was killed by an extended-range tear gas projectile in April 2009, the IDF Military Advocate General ordered the army’s criminal investigations unit to investigate his death.
The investigation was initiated after video footage was produced showing that Abu Rahmah did not act violently and experts testified that the tear gas canister that killed him had been aimed directly at him, in violation of military orders.
Although Abu Rahmah’s death is still officially under investigation, IDF soldiers quietly resumed the use of the prohibited tear gas canisters to disperse demonstrations in the West Bank last month.
Ashraf Abu Rahmah, a cousin to Jawaher and Bassem, was also injured by IDF forces back in 2008. After being detained at a protest against the separation fence near the West Bank village of Na’alin on July 7, 2008, an IDF soldier shot him in the leg with a rubber bullet while he was bound and blindfolded.
The incident was caught on camera by a villager and released by the human rights group B’Tselem. The IDF soldier that shot Abu Rahmah told military police investigators that his battalion commander had ordered him three times to fire at the protester.
January 01, 2011
Abu-Rahma laid to rest
Jawaher Abu-Rahma whose brother also killed during non-violent protests against Bilin separation fence laid to rest day after inhaling tear gas
Jawaher Abu Rahma, who died less than 24 hours after participating in a protest against the West Bank separation fence at Bilin, was buried Saturday afternoon in her village. Abu Rahma was the sister of Bassem, who was killed at similar Bilin protest in 2009, and Ashraf, who was shot by an IDF soldier when his hands were cuffed.
The Palestinian Authority was quick to voice its condemnation, and the IDF is investigating the circumstances of her death.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Abu Rahma’s family to express his condolences. At the same time, Sultan Abu Al-Einein from the Fatah Central Committee came to the house to deliver a message of condolence from the Palestinian president, who is currently in Brazil. Palestinian media reported that Abbas condemned the “Israeli crime which is part of a series of crimes carried out by the occupation army against our helpless nation.”
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat also voiced his condemnation, calling the killing a “war crime.”
“We condemn this appalling crime by the Israeli army against participants in a peace-seeking protest,” he said. “This is part of war crimes Israel carries out against our nation.”
Palestinian sources said Abu Rahma died in a hospital in Ramallah from blood poisoning after inhaling a large quantity of tear gas. The IDF and the Civil Administration have opened investigations into the death. IDF sources claimed surprise at the death, because, they said, there had been no exceptional use of tear gas – neither quantity nor type.
Muhammad Abu Rahma, Jawaher’s uncle, spoke of her activities and the moment she was hurt. “She came to all the protests during the last five years,” he said.
“Yesterday (Friday) they fired an unprecedented quantity of tear gas at us, and Jawaher was trapped in an area where there was a huge cloud of gas. She didn’t manage to get out, lost consciousness, and inhaled large amounts of gas. We managed to locate her only after some minutes, because the gas made it hard to find her.”
4. Jerusalem Post,
January 1, 2011
Photo by: IDF Spokesperson.
Top Israeli news story of 2010: The Gaza flotilla raid
Like other military and diplomatic conflagrations in the past, the Gaza flotilla’s aftermath was most felt in its exposure of Israeli weaknesses.
The results are in: Over 50% of readers voted the Gaza flotilla raid as the biggest Israeli news story of 2010. In second place were the fatal Carmel forest fires, with almost 35% of the vote.
Pistol shots before the break of down on May 31, 2010, signaled the plummeting of Israel-Turkey relations to an all time low. The shooters, frogmen from the IDF’s elite Shayetet 13 naval commando unit had rappelled from black-hawk helicopters onto the deck of the Mavi Marmara in the Eastern Mediterranean, where they were swarmed by a stick-wielding mob.
When the dust settled, nine Turkish citizens lay dead, seven IDF commandos were injured, and Israel was dealing with a fresh round of international condemnation.
The Mavi Marmara was one of six ships taking part in the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” organized by the Free Gaza Movement and Turkish charity IHH that sought to break the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip. The ships brought some humanitarian supplies, but their most important cargo were the cameras and broadcasting equipment that aired their message around the world in real time, before the Israeli hasbara machine could even get its shoes on.
The deaths on board the Mavi Marmara shone a light on the Gaza blockade in ways which surpassed Hamas in Gaza’s wildest dreams. Instantly, people across the world began to question whether the blockade was purely a security measure, or a form of collective punishment against the people of Gaza meant to weaken the ruling Hamas government. For the first time, the international community began to ask why items such as pasta or coriander were intermittently banned by the Israeli blockade, which on paper was presented as a security measure meant to protect the Israeli homefront from Hamas rockets and Iranian-supplied armaments that would rain death on the Israeli countryside if the blockade was lifted.
Less than a month later, Israel approved a plan to allow virtually all non-military items to enter the Gaza Strip. Egypt also eased their restrictions on the territory, opening the Rafah border crossing on the border with Gaza.
On the Israeli side, many saw the incident as the swan song of Israel’s solid, mutually beneficial military and economic alliance with Turkey. Instantly, large swaths of the Israeli public forgot that Turkey was the first Muslim country to recognize Israel (in 1949) and to disregard the strategic strength and billions of dollars in free trade annually that Israel gains from the alliance. Instead, Israelis began to question the merits of an alliance with Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey, which long before the Gaza flotilla raid showed signs of a worrying tilt away from the secular, western foundations of the modern Turkish republic.
In a sense, the raid on the flotilla was the culmination of a decline in Israel’s relations with Turkey ever since Erdogan became prime minister in 2003. The writing was already on the wall, with a number of highly publicized incidents including Erdogan’s verbal sparring with President Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2009, and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon highly publicized upbraiding of Turkish diplomat Ahmet Oguz Celikkol in January 2010, who he forced to sit in a low chair in a tense meeting held to express Israeli concerns over a grossly anti-Semitic mini-series aired on Turkish TV.
Like other military and diplomatic conflagrations in the past, the Gaza flotilla’s aftermath was most felt in its exposure of Israeli weaknesses. Instantly, the world saw that even with Israel’s vaunted military and feared intelligence agencies, the country had no solution for a lightly-armed group of protesters playing chicken with the Israeli navy on the high seas. The flotilla also showed that in the absence of a sweeping, precise military solution, Israel’s diplomats fall far short of filling the void.
5. Jerusalem Post,
January 1, 2011
Photo by: Creative Commons
Gaza aid flotilla to dock in Egyptian port of el-Arish
With these words, Suhail Khoury, director of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, introduced the Palestine National Orchestra in its debut Friday in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
More than 40 Palestinian and foreign musicians came together to make the dream of a national orchestra a reality. The task was not easy, particularly because most of the musicians also play with renowned orchestras around the world. But for most of them, putting together a Palestinian national orchestra is seen as a stepping stone toward building an independent state of Palestine.
“Today we are witnessing the birth of the Palestine National Orchestra at a time when the Palestinian struggle for independence is passing through one of its most critical and difficult moments,” Khoury said.
“The task of bringing Palestinian musicians together to add a new cornerstone in the building of an independent Palestinian state was a very difficult endeavor,” he said.
The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music was founded in the mid-1990s with a few students and part-time teachers. Today it has more than 500 students enrolled with more than 40 teachers introducing classical and oriental music to new generations of Palestinians, preparing them for the new state to come.
“We musicians truly believe that a state is not only about buildings and roads, but most importantly it is about its people, their values, their arts and their cumulative cultural identity,” Khoury said.
Some of the Palestinian musicians came from Arab countries, where they grew up as refugees after their families fled when Israel was established in 1948. For some it was their first time in their ancestral homeland, a dream they did not think will happen in their lifetime.
The national orchestra made that dream come true for them.
Swiss conductor Baldur Bronnimann led the orchestra’s debut, playing music by Mozart, Beethoven and others to a packed auditorium. Mariam Tamari, born to a Palestinian father and a Japanese mother, performed the soprano solo in Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate.
The orchestra will have two more performances in the next couple of days, in Jerusalem and Haifa, Israel.
“The birth of the Palestine National Orchestra is the culmination of many years of preparation and hard work,” Khoury said.
“Although the Palestine National Orchestra will, for several years to come, be a one-time annual event, we will continue to work hard until this orchestra will become a full-fledged, full-time orchestra based in a free Palestine,” he said.