In a completely unprecedented move, a delegation from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague is to visit Israel to assess whether the country is to be tried for
war crimes carried out during the 51-day military aggression carried out against Gaza in 2014.
More than 2,200 Palestinians, including 490 children, were killed in what the Israeli military called ‘Operation Protective Edge’. Over 11,100 others, including 3,374 children, 2,088 women and 410 elderly people, were also wounded in the assault.
This morning, 31st August, Israeli occupation forces accompanying 4 armoured bulldozers raided the al-Bureij refugee
camp, located in the central Gaza strip, and leveled lands in the Deir Al-Balah district.
It was reported that four Israeli bulldozers crossed into the Gaza Strip from Israel and raided the east side of the camp as Israeli drones flew overhead. Witnesses also added that Israeli soldiers randomly opened fire, though at this time no injuries have been reported.
It is important to remember that Israel claim to longer occupy Gaza since their ‘disengagement’ in 2005. However since this ‘disengagement’ the Israeli military have continually made significant incursions into Gaza and after the last military assault on the Gaza strip in 2014, the occupation forces have maintained a presence on a sizeable tranche of land within the strip which they deem a security buffer zone, and from which they can launch further incursions.
As of August 22, the United Nations had documented 45 Israeli military incursions into the Gaza Strip.
The US State Department has urged citizens to leave Gaza ‘as soon as possible’.
This warning is being widely interpreted by Gazans that a further onslaught by the Israeli military is likely expected soon.
Similar warnings were issued by the US State Department shortly before the commencement of the devastating campaigns of aggression by the Israeli military in 2008, 2012 and again in 2014.
On Sunday the Israeli Air Force launched dozens of airstrikes against targets in the Gaza Strip after a single rocket had struck the southern Israeli City of Sderot earlier in the day, causing no damage or injuries.
This week the Scottish Conservatives sent their first ever delegation to Israel to build closer ties with the far right Israeli administration. The delegation consisted of nine Conservative MSPs, including several shadow cabinet ministers, the chief whip and the party’s director.
Whilst there they ‘met with Israeli MKs, local businessmen and security officials and received briefings by the IDF at the Syrian border.’
However I think we can be pretty sure that they would have made no effort whatsoever to visit occupied Palestine… to go and see how ordinary Palestinians survive in overcrowded refugee camps under constant terror day and night from the Israeli occupation forces.
You can also bet that the delegation of Tory MSPs never made arrangements to interview any of the Palestinian children presently illegaly held under administrative detention (imprisonment without charge) in Israeli prisons to find out about the heinous treatment they endure… to investigate the allegations of torture against these young children.
Do we expect any Parliamentary questions from the Holyrood opposition on these subjects when they return and get back to work? No, not likely! No, from what I hear we’ll see praise upon praise heaped onto the Israeli authorities… we’ll hear talk of the necessity to build more bridges with this under siege democracy, bullied by all of its violent neighbours, and we will, ironically, hear MSPs commend Israel for letting Turkish aid convoys into the besieged open air prison that is Gaza
The Palestinian Journalists’ Forum has denounced Google for deleting the name of Palestine from its maps and replacing it with Israel.
In a statement released yesterday, the forum said Google’s decision to remove Palestine from its maps on 25 July “is part of the Israeli scheme to establish its name as a legitimate state for generations to come and abolish Palestine once and for all.”
This week, the Israeli Government are preventing the head of the Palestinian Olympic team, Issam Qishta, from leaving Gaza to join the 22 strong Palestinian Olympic squad in Brazil.
In addition, the Palestinian team has had to buy equipment and supplies upon arriving in Brazil after Israeli authorities had refused to allow their much needed equipment to leave occupied Palestinian territory with them.
Our very own Dr Philippa Whitford MP has just returned from her Spring recess trip to the sun… no, not to some sandy beach, that’s actually not a very safe option where Phillipa has just returned from. No, during Parliamentary recess Philippa has traveled more than 2,000 miles to occupied Palestine to carry out life-saving breast cancer surgery.
“Philippa Whitford, an MP for Central Ayrshire in Scotland and a breast cancer expert before entering parliament, traveled to provide care for a number of Palestinian women, who face an uphill struggle to get quality treatment.
Whitford carried out four major cancer operations in the West Bank last week, before travelling to Gaza on Sunday to advise hospitals there on how to improve their care.
One operation was on a woman with “very advanced” cancer, said the lawmaker, who returned to the United Kingdom on Thursday.
“It was very large in the breast and very advanced in the lymph nodes. She had had chemotherapy, but it hadn’t got a lot smaller and she still had a lot of disease.”
“It was just a difficult operation and we knew it would be,” she said, adding that initial signs suggested it had been successful.
Whitford, who became a lawmaker for the left-wing Scottish National Party (SNP) in the 2015 British general elections, said breast cancer treatment in the Palestinian territories suffered from a lack of planning, resources and Israeli restrictions.
In Gaza, breast cancer kills more women than any other cancer, according to a 2011 research paper by researchers from Harvard Medical School.
There are regular shortages of medicines in Gaza, including those to treat cancer, and no radiotherapy. “Getting anything into Gaza is not secure. You can’t say ‘we get a delivery every month and it will be here and the hospital will be stocked.’ So they are forever running out of things,” Whitford said. She said that, while in England doctors would usually remove just a part of the breast, in Gaza they tend to remove the whole breast –- whether through lack of training or due to limited medical facilities.
Radiotherapy is available in Israel and East Jerusalem, but Palestinians say travel permits are hard to obtain, border points can be closed depending on events, and some cannot afford the trip.
More than 120,000 Palestinians entered Israel for medical treatment in 2015, mostly from the West Bank, according to Israeli officials.
The lack of quality treatment in Palestinian territories, Whitford said, meant recurrence rates are believed to be more than double those in the United Kingdom.
No delegation of British lawmakers has been permitted entry into Gaza by Israel since 2009. Earlier this year a delegation of members of the European parliament was refused entry.
But Whitford applied and entered as a single doctor rather than in a delegation, thus skirting Israel’s restrictions.
It was a return for her, having worked as a breast cancer surgeon in Gaza for 18 months in the early 1990s with Medical Aid for Palestinians. She said returning to the Palestinian enclave was like “coming home.”
More than 8 percent of Palestinian women develop breast cancer in their lifetime, the Palestinian health ministry says.
But Whitford said breast cancer was for a long time a hidden killer in Gaza due to social stigma.
“When I came [in 1991] the doctors told me there was no breast cancer here,” she said. “As soon as people realized there was a woman surgeon they started to come and I realized there was actually a lot of breast cancer.”
Whitford said she never expected to be a lawmaker, but that her skills helped her in her role as the SNP’s shadow health spokeswoman.
The SNP has also criticized the British government’s lack of firm action over Israel’s continued expansion of settlements in the West Bank.
Whitford said the West Bank, which is supposed to form the bulk of a future Palestinian state, is “being moth-eaten — every time I come back the settlements are bigger, they are closer to key Palestinian towns and cities.”
“We need to be saying ‘we don’t want to deal with settlements, we don’t want British registered companies to be dealing with settlement’s.”