Israel suddenly closes Karni crossing after only eight trucks
Date: 12 / 12 / 2008 Time: 14:12
Gaza – Ma’an –
The Karni crossing point was suddenly closed Friday for “security
reasons,” after only a fraction of the 110 trucks of goods slated for
entry into the strip were permitted to unload their cargo.
of the coordination committee responsible for goods entering Gaza Raed
Fattuh said only 43 truckloads of goods were scheduled to enter the
Strip through Karni on Friday, and that only eight loads actually passed
Fattuh confirmed that another fifty truck loads
entered through Karem Shalom crossing, 35kilometers south of Karni near
Free Gaza ship departs with 11 students denied exit by Israel
Date: 12 / 12 / 2008 Time: 10:39
A ship with the Free Gaza movement left the Strip late Thursday night
with 11 Palestinian students aboard.
The students had previously
been denied exit by Israel to attend universities abroad despite having
all proper documentation from the institutions.
students are currently trapped in Gaza, unable to obtain permission from
Israel to continue their education abroad, according to the group.
Accompanying the students were two British academics, Jonathan
Rosenhead and Mike Cushman, of the London School of Economics and the
British Committee for Universities for Palestine (BRICUP), an
organization of UK-based educators that calls for an academic boycott of
"As academics, we are particularly pleased to be
traveling on the Dignity [the ship of the Free Gaza movement] on this
mission to enable at least some of the hundreds of students trapped in
Gaza by the Israeli siege to get out and take up their places at
universities around the world," said a statement released by the group.
"This siege is an affront to any idea of academic freedom or
human rights. How can anyone justify preventing young people from
fulfilling their potential and learning how to serve their community
more fully?" it continued.
In an act of "nonviolent defiance"
against the ongoing Israeli occupation, the Free Gaza movement has been
running "civil resistance ships" to Gaza since August.
Dignity's voyage is the fourth such trip, and aimed to reunite families
and deliver medical supplies, mail, and international humanitarian and
human rights workers to the Gaza Strip.
Free Gaza spokesperson
Ewa Jasiewicz said "though we carried in a ton of medical supplies and
high-protein baby formula on our ship, our mission in Gaza was not to
provide charity, but to give our solidarity to the people of Palestine,
break the silence of the world over this continuing calamity, and
physically break through the blockade of Gaza in an act of direct
resistance against the siege."
"In the end, the oppression and
humiliation of occupation assaults the humanity of both occupier and
occupied and cannot and must not be tolerated any longer," Jasiewicz
For over two years, Israel has imposed an increasingly
severe blockade on Gaza, dramatically increasing poverty and
malnutrition rates among the 1.5 million people who live in the tiny,
Osama Qashoo, another Free Gaza spokesperson,
explained their voyage's success by saying that "the sea passage to Gaza
is open." Three ships, one from Libya, one from Qatar, and a third from
the Israeli Jaffa port were denied entry into Gaza just over a week ago.
Commenting on the Israeli action taken against the ships, Qashoo
said "Our fourth mission was a quick response to Israel denying earlier
attempts,” and an effort to maintain the opening the group had managed
to force in Israel’s blockade of Gaza.
"We hope that other
nations, civil society organizations, and activists around the world
will learn from our experience, be strategic in their planning, and not
let Israeli threats and aggression stop them from coming to Gaza," said
the Free Gaza Movement.
"Freedom of movement and of education
and to live in peace is everyone's right," the group added.
According to Caoimhe Butterly, a Free Gaza coordinator, the ship faced
no interference or radio contact from the Israeli navy on its way into
and out of Gaza waters. She did note, however, that the ship’s radar
showed naval vessels passing within a few miles of the vessel.
Asked why the Free Gaza ship was allowed through while others were
blocked, Butterly said it was a sign that Israel “does not see this
project as a threat.”
***Updated 13:43 Bethlehem time
Israeli stranglehold on Nablus claimed to to loosen, more
restrictions set to be eased
Date: 12 / 12 / 2008 Time: 15:23
Nablus residents show reserved optimism as Israeli travel
restrictions to the northern West Bank ease after years of pleading from
the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Nablus suffered a slow
strangulation since 2001; labeled by Israeli TV as the “City of Suicide
Bombers,” for seven years the Israeli army made almost nightly
Roads into the city were blocked to all but those
with special permits, and no Nablus resident with a car has been able to
drive to Ramallah on the main road since the Huwwara, Awarta, At-Tur,
Beit Furik, Asira Ash-Shamalia, Beit Iba and Shave Shomeron checkpoints
Once the financial capital of the country
housing the Palestinian stock market and over a third of West Bank
residents; the Israeli military presence and enforced closure of the
city and stifled its growth.
Trade, commerce and Nablus’ once
growing export markets closed. Businesses went under, and peoples’ lives
became miserable. The installation of Huwwara checkpoint was a curse on
northern West Bankers, and signaled the start of a rapid deterioration
in quality of life. Even those traveling for medical care into the once
bustling city were denied access without proper documentation.
Since Eid began on 8 December, all this changed. Palestinians over 50
were able to drive their cars into Nablus, and Palestinians living in
Israel were for the second time this year allowed to visit relatives or
go shopping in the city without first getting a permit.
Merchants in the city have seen sales increase, there is more traffic on
the roads, and a cautious optimism is palpable in the streets.
And according to Palestinian Chief of Civil Affairs in the Palestinian
Authority (PA) Hussein Ash-Sheikh, more changes are on their way. In the
coming weeks Nablus residents with registered vehicles will be able to
drive to Salfit, Tubas or Qalquilia, and on any of the roads open to
Ash-Sheikh said the changes were the result
of years of lobbying on the part of the PA with Israeli authorities.