Thursday, March 07, 2013

Palestinian manifestations

Last week the firing of a missile into Israel from Gaza prompted Israel to close the Kerem Shalom crossing where 800 trucks  cross into the Gaza strip daily to supply the Gazan population with food, medical and building supplies.  This broke a 3 months ceasefire arranged by Egypt.  The missile firing was justified as a response to the death of a West Bank Arab, Arafat Jaradat, who was being held in an Israeli jail for rioting.  Although the Palestinians first blamed Israel for his death, later they reported that he had been killed by a Palestinian while in custody for collaborating with the Israelis.  Whatever the truth, Israel decided to open the crossing again on Monday. 
However, the crossing was never opened because it was taken over by force by Hamas, which controls Gaza, from Fatah, that until then had controlled the crossing by agreement with Israel.  Firing was heard, but the casualties were not reported.  It seems that Hamas used this opportunity to take over the crossing.  The 800 trucks that arrived there that day were not allowed to cross.  Israel denied them entrance due to the Hamas take-over and Hamas will not pay for the goods because it does not recognize Israel.  The crossing is therefore at a standstill, with Hamas in effect danying entry of Israeli goods to their civilian population.  It was at this point that NPR reported that Israel was "starving" Gaza of resources!
Although the death of Arafat Jaradat in Israel received a lot of publicity, that of another prisoner did not.  Ayman Saramah being held for assault in a Palestinian prison cell in Jericho in the PA died while in custody, but the PA tried to keep it a secret by preventing Palestinian journalists from coverng the story.  Mustafa Khawaja, who works for the local Al-Aksa TV station, was detained by PA security officers for several hours when he tried to report on a sit-in strike by families of Palestinians held in Jericho Prison protesting torture there.  The story was reported by Khaled abu Toameh in TheJerusalem Post.
On Tuesday, the British Consul-General in Jerusalem Sir Vincent Fean (effectively the British representative to the PA) was scheduled to give a speech at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank, but was prevented from doing so by violent student demonstrations.  His convoy of cars was attacked and had to leave.  The President of Bir Zeit, Dr. Khalil al-Hindi, and several other academics denounced this prevention of freedom of speech.  A similar attack happened against the French Ambassador last year.  No doubt the British and French people who support the Palestinians agree that their Ambassadors should not be allowed to talk to Palestinian students. 
Note that the budget of UNWRA that supports only Palestinian refugees was b$1.23 in 2011.  Surely they could afford to help the 1 million Syrian refugees who have fled Syria in the past 2 years and are living in camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey under the most dire conditions.  But, of course they won't.  Maybe those in the West who make a crusade of supporting the "poor" Palestinians, will make every effort to support the even poorer Syrians.  But, of course they won't.


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