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Avnery: Justice, Gas and Tears + more


Avnery: Justice, Gas and Tears + more

[] Justice, Gas and Tears - Avnery on police violence & court verdict

[] Petition for lifting restrictions against Mordechai Vanunu

[] Five imprisoned refusniks to face parole board & more refusnik updates

[] Az Zawiya needs you: Wall construction continues despite Supreme Court

[] Johns Hopkins University research: severe malnutrition in Gaza

[] Collection of toys, computers and clothes for Palestinian Children

P.S. See our calendar links & announcements

- new maps, brochures, eye-witness reports

- films, expositions, refusnik links

- Gush Shalom details re website, donations, subscription to email ~~~ [] Justice, Gas and Tears - Avnery on police violence & court verdict www.gush-shalom.org òáøéú áàúø

Uri Avnery 3.7.04

Justice, Gas and Tears

In the silence of the courtroom, there was an audible gasp of surprise and shock when Supreme Justice Aharon Barak, reading the court’s decision, reached the words: “The military commander did not use his discretion in a proportional way, as required.”

At that moment the veteran peace activists who filled the room realized that they had won.

Four days before, we could not have dreamt of that. We were far from the sterile silence of the beautiful Supreme Court building: a distance of a few kilometers geographically, a distance of light-years mentally.

At that time we were running through clouds of tear gas, choking and coughing, in the center of A-Ram.

It began, surprisingly, in an atmosphere of friendliness. We came in a convoy of buses from all over the country in order to join the inhabitants demonstrating against the wall, on the eve of the Supreme Court decision.

We expected to be held up at the roadblock across the entrance to A-Ram. The demonstration was not secret, we had announced it in the media. We were ready to leave the buses quickly and continue around the roadblock on foot. We were surprised, therefore, when the border-policemen were all smiles. The one who entered our bus spoke like a sympathizer. “Do you know what you are getting into?” he asked in a friendly way. When we answered that we did, he said “have a nice day” and waved us on.

In the center of A-Ram, thousands of Palestinians were waiting for us.

We intended to march on the main road, along the planned path of the wall that will cut the densely populated urban area in two. The big concrete slabs of the wall were already lying in the ground, waiting for the moment when the court would lift the temporary injunction that is holding up the building activity.

The demonstration was intended, of course, to be completely non-violent.

The proof: in the first line there marched a Christian Orthodox priest, a senior Muslim sheikh, local dignitaries and present and past members of the Knesset and the Palestinian parliament. In front of us walked the A-Ram youth orchestra.

As a symbolic act we had brought five big hammers, and some of the demonstrators were asked to use them to strike concrete slabs lying on the ground.

We advanced slowly in the burning sun. Suddenly a row of border-policemen appeared on top of the hill overlooking the road. Before we realized what was happening, a salvo of teargas grenades – one, two, three … dozens – were shot at us. In a few moments we were enveloped by a dense cloud of gas that covered all escape routes.

We dispersed in all directions, but the gas grenades continued to explode around us. Those of us who made it to the central square of the town were attacked with tear gas, water cannon and rubber-coated bullets. The place resembled a real battlefield – clouds of gas, the sound of exploding stun grenades and shooting, the screaming sirens of the Palestinian ambulances, burning boxes along the street, abandoned posters, shuttered shops. When the Palestinian paramedics started to run with their stretchers towards the ambulances, local boys emerged from the alleys to throw stones at the border-policemen (a mercenary force universally hated in the Palestinian territories). From time to time groups of border-policemen ran towards us, grabbing demonstrators of both sexes and dragging them towards the armored jeeps. One of the ambulances was burning. Undercover policemen in plain clothes, pistols in their hands - beat people and dragged them along the ground.

All this continued for more than two hours. All that time, a question was nagging me: Why was this happening? Clearly we had walked into a well-prepared trap. But what was the aim?

On the way back we listened to the news on the radio. A police spokesman announced that the border-police had been attacked by demonstrators who threw axes and hammers at them. In our bus, everybody burst out laughing.

The mystery was solved two days later in court, when the judges were dealing with A-Ram. The government attorneys demanded that the temporary injunction that was holding up the wall in A-Ram be lifted. They had a crushing argument: two days ago, they said, the border-policemen guarding the machinery had been viciously attacked by demonstrators. Their life was in danger. Therefore, in order to save the policemen from the evildoers (us), the building of the wall must be speeded up.

The judges, so it seems, were not impressed. They announced that in another two days, on Wednesday, the court would publish a set of principles that would, from now on, apply to he whole length of the barrier, including A-Ram.

And indeed, on Wednesday the decision that caused the audience to gasp was delivered. We knew in advance that the court could not forbid the wall altogether. That would have been a challenge to the government, the army and the national consensus. Neither did we expect a decision that would have decreed that the wall should be set up on the Green Line (the internationally recognized pre-1967 border).

We thought that the court would, at most, change the path of the wall a few kilometers here and there. But the actual decision went much further: it demands big changes all along the 750 kilometers of the barrier, in order to remove it from the vicinity of Palestinian villages and release their land.

The judges accepted, in fact, most of the arguments that we had been voicing in dozens of demonstrations: (a) that the path of the wall violates international law, (b) that it destroys the fabric of life of the Palestinian population and turns their life into hell, and (c) that this path does not emanate from security considerations, but rather from a desire to enlarge the settlements, annex territory to Israel and drive the Palestinians out.

Judge Barak, the president of the Supreme Court who drafted the decision, was walking a tightrope. On one side he risked provoking the powerful military establishment and a large section of public opinion. On the other side, he wanted to keep his considerable reputation in the international judicial community.

Years ago I interviewed him at length. One of the things he told me is engraved in my memory: “The court has no divisions to enforce its decisions.

Its power is based solely on the confidence of the public. Therefore, the court cannot distance itself too much from the public.” That was shown again this week: Barak went very far, but knew where to stop – half way between the planned path and the green Line. In this he was helped by the Council for Peace and Security, a pro-peace group of retired senior army officers, who proposed an alternative path.

Barak knows well that he is taking a considerable risk: if a suicide attack now takes place inside Israel, the right-wing will surely put the blame on the court.

Actually, something similar has already happened. Only a few minutes after the court decision was read out, Colonel (res.) Danny Tirzeh, the skull-capped officer with responsibility at the Ministry of Defense for the building of the wall, said that the court’s decision will cause Jews to be murdered. The man was not fired on the spot, God forbid, but only rebuked by his minister.

Ariel Sharon may well be satisfied with the court’s decision. True, the path of the wall will have to be planned anew, costing more money and time. But in a week the International Court of Justice in The Hague will deliver its decision on the wall and the matter will return to the UN. There the Israeli and American representatives will argue that the Israeli court has already rectified the inequities that needed to be addressed.

In A-Ram and the other suburbs of Jerusalem, too, the path will have to be changed. I hope that it will be removed from the highway where we were demonstrating last Saturday. I have inhaled enough gas to last me a while. [] Petition for lifting the restrictions from Mordechai Vanunu

From: Rayna Moss

òáøéú îäùåìç äî÷åøé

Mordechai Vanunu is released, but not free. Oppressive restrictions have been placed on him by Israeli authorities, based on 1945 British Mandate emergency regulations. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) is representing Vanunu in an appeal challenging the draconian restrictions to Israel's High Court.

The restrictions include: not being allowed to leave Israel, not being allowed to come within a certain distance of embassies, ports, and borders; not being allowed to travel within Israel beyond the city of his residence without advance permission; not being allowed to speak about his work at Dimona; not being allowed to speak to the foreign press; and limits on and monitoring of his phone and internet use.

The injustice of not being allowed to leave Israel is compounded by the fact that, following a massive campaign whipped up against him in the mass media, with the active participation of several cabinet minsters, Vanunu has received threats on his life from ultra-right wing Israeli extremists. A Ma'ariv newspaper internet poll two days after his release asked the question, "What should be done with Vanunu?" and listed "kill him" as one of several choices.

Under such circumstances, It is obviosuly out of the question for Vanunu to simply stroll down the street of any Israeli city. It is a particularly vicious policy to expose a man to such hatred and hostility among the general Israeli public - and at the same time force him to stay on in Israel and forbid him to go anywhere else.

Thanks very much for your support.

PETITION

To Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Justice Minister Yosef ("Tommy") Lapid Attorney General Menachem Mazuz:

LET MORDECHAI VANUNU GO! He has served his full sentence, and is not charged with any offenses. Lift all the restrictions. Allow him to leave Israel immediately.

Signature:

Affiliation (if any):

Send to Rayna Moss

[] Five imprisoned refusniks to face parole board & more refusnik updates

Compiled from messages sent by Nssim Duek (Refusnik Parents' Forum, ) and Ram Rahat (Yesh Gvul, ).

òáøéú îäùåìç äî÷åøé

Noam Bahat, Adam Maor, Haggai Matar, Shimri Zameret and Matan Kaminer are awaiting the parole board hearing on July 6, where it willedecided whether or not to reduce the year-longterm imposed on them by the Jaffa Military Court. Ahead ofthe hearing, dozens of Israeli lawyers and jurists signed a petition, due to be published in Ha'aretz tomorrow (July 5). The lawyers, having different opinions on the issue of conscientious refusal of military service in itself, point out the punishment is disproptionally heavy, that it did not take into accout the five's idelistic motivation and their stated willingness to perform alternative civil sevice, and also considering the lighter punishment meted out for more serious offences and the widespread exemptions from miltiary service granted to other sectors of Israeli society.

Link for details: http://www.refuz.org.il/News.html

* On July 9, CO Yoni Ben Artzi and his lawyer Michael Sfard will appear at the Miltary Appeals Court in Tel Aviv, to appeal the verdict of the Jaffa Miltary Court. Despite the fact that that the army already dischaged Ben Artzi from all militay sevice and recognised him as being a civilian, the court still found Ben Artzi guilty of "disoeying the order of his commanding officer", the mostmilitary of all criminal offences, and imposed the term of two months in the military prison system. Ahead of this week's appeal by Ben Artzi, the army took the highly unusual stepof increasing the panel which will hear his appeal from three judges to five, four (!) of them generals.

* On Monday, June 28 Captain (res.) Eitan Lerner, from Tel Aviv, was sentenced to 28 days in Military Prison 6, for refusing to take part in the occupation. Letters of support to him via : yeshgvul@yahoogroups.com

* Daniel Tsal, refuser going through his fourth consecutive prison term, was this week transfered from Military Prison 4 to Training Base 13, which means some improvement in daily conditions. The big question, as yet unanswered: when finding that repeated terms of a month or so don't break Tsal's resolve, will the authorities place him (like the Five) before a court-martial, empowered to impose a much heavier punishment. To some degree, the answer depends on the amount of solidarity and support. Letters of support to Daniel Tsal via: Jehoshua@freud.tau.ac.il Other ways of expressing solidarity: - Sign a petition: http://www.refuz.org.il/petition.php

- Adopt a refusenik: http://www.yeshgvul.org/english/article/?id=8811d70502372c03cb5023c51eb9f3ee

- Participate in solidarity actions later this month, details via Yesh Gvul.

[] Az Zawiya needs you: Wall construction continues despite Supreme Court From: "IWPS"

URGENT ALERT: On Friday, the Israeli DCO (District Coordinating Office) informed its Palestinian counterpart and the mayor of Az Zawiya that despite the injunction and the court ruling on the path of the Wall, the army intends to continue working on the Wall in Az Zawiya and Deir Balut. They military claim that the injunction allows them to continue working in areas where they have already begun uprooting and cutting trees. The villagers in return made clear that they will continue demonstrating until the work stops. PLEASE JOIN THE PEOPLE OF AZ ZAWIYA IN NONVIOLENT PROTEST: Demonstrations are scheduled every morning at 10:00 a.m. until the work is stopped (meeting point by the old Mosque) . For updates call IWPS (International Women's Peace Sevice) 09-2516644 or 067-387806; for details on how to arrive from Israel call Anarachists Against The Wall 066-327736, 067-724519, 064-494030. Please remember appropriate dress: no shorts (men or women), cover arms, wear longer, looser clothing. Also, bring plenty of water and something to counteract tear gas (onions, cologne or vinegar are all effective).

[] Johns Hopkins University research: severe malnutrition in Gaza

By Laila El-Haddad, Aljazzera coorespondent in Gaza, 29 June

http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/1D105487-229E-42A6-B58B-6B4E7A1AAC64.htm

Malnutrition affects a child's ability to concentrate At the entrance to the Ard al-Insan clinic in Gaza, also known as the Palestinian Benevolent Association, Iman Jilawi was pleading with programme director Itimad Ghabil.

Her daughter had just been released from the hospital after intestinal surgery, she said, and she did not have the money to pay for a change of the dressing, let alone for her taxi ride home. She was here, though, for another reason: in addition to being ill, her daughter was severely malnourished. And she was not alone.

A cacophony of wails could be heard from within the teeming waiting room. Together with their weary mothers, tens of infants waited to be examined by nurses and nutritionists.

There was Mahmud Sukar, who at eight months weighed in at a mere 4.5 kilograms, and whose family has been surviving on United Nations food coupons set to expire in a few weeks.

And Farah Khalifa, who at 18 months weighed six kilograms.

"I can't even remember the last time I tasted meat," said her mother. "My fridge is empty, and my daughter is surviving on my breast milk."

The problems faced by the visitors to the clinic are confounded by a vicious circle of poverty and unemployment, which makes Ghabil's job all the more frustrating.

"I don't know what to do. I can't help them every time they come in here," said Ghabil. "They need continuous help."

Deteriorating nutrition

In the summer of 2002, a landmark study initiated by Care International and Johns Hopkins University, in coordination with Al- Quds University in Jerusalem, found a major problem with the quality of food intake as well as a worrying level of acute malnutrition in children in the Gaza Strip.

The clinic is overrun with mothers seeking care for their children

The figures showed that one-fifth of Palestinian children were suffering from malnutrition - a rate more than four times above that of a normally nourished population, according to the study.

"In humanitarian terms it was a percentage that was high enough to trigger some kind of intervention - and that's what the aid agencies were most interested in," said project coordinator Dr Gregg Greenough of Johns Hopkins University in an interview with Aljazeera.net.

Chronic malnutrition undermines the immune system and affects the body's ability to resist and respond to infections and infectious diseases.

It is of particular concern in places where populations are already vulnerable, as those in the Gaza Strip are.

Last month, Greenough returned to Gaza to conclude a follow-up study, with mixed results. While malnutrition in Gaza had gone down, the daily intake of essential macro and micro nutrients had decreased to alarming levels. "This is something unprecedented. We actually see that as they get older [Palestinian] children are taking in less calories per day. It drops off the charts," he said.

Poverty

Greenough and his colleagues say the decrease in quality of food intake is directly related to poverty: "Bread is cheap, and tea is cheap," he says. Malnutrition is not immediately evident in such children, however, because of the body's self-sustaining nature.

Some kitchens contain little more than bread and water

"You can feed yourself filler food, such as bread, and preserve your weight and height," said Greenough.

"What the body will do is lose weight, but not lose height right away. And before you lose weight and height, you decrease energy intake. You might be less attentive at school, for example."

According to Ard al-Insan, malnutrition prevalence is a late indicator of a crisis precisely because of these reasons. As a result, a significant proportion of Palestinian children may very well be at high risk of malnutrition.

Tenuous relief

While the study did have some promising results - it found that acute levels of malnutrition had dropped in the Gaza Strip to 13% - Greenough is not holding his breath.

Food assistance is a temporary measure for relief, he says, and if taken away, hundreds of vulnerable families will find themselves back in the malnutrition loop.

Children suffer weight loss and a weakened immune system

"My concern is that it's still tenuous, and acute malnutrition could still rise," said Greenough.

With unemployment steadily on the rise, and income levels for those who are employed decreasing dramatically, Greenough has good reason to worry.

By some estimates, unemployment in general is in excess of 60% in the Gaza Strip, while around 80% of the population is living under the poverty line, with an income of under $2 a day.

In addition, the median monthly income for those who are employed has decreased from $550 before the second intifada to $267 during the first quarter of 2004, a drop of nearly 52%, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics found.

There are also more mouths to feed, according to the World Bank and the United Nations. Whereas in 2000, one worker supported four people in the West Bank and six in the Gaza Strip, the ratios are now seven and nine respectively.

Future prospects

All this has the executive director of Ard al-Insan, Itidal al- Khatib, worried about the future.

Although malnutrition may pose a greater health risk in other countries, in Gaza the situation is aggravated by a military occupation and a jobless economy with the living standard of a developed country.

"With declining incomes and declines in the access to public services, it would not be surprising if we would see evidence of deteriorating nutrition in a short time," she said.

"Mothers of malnourished children are usually also malnourished themselves and absolutely exhausted" says Itidal al-Khatib, executive director of Ard al-Insan.

None the less, the clinic has continued with its work, which al- Khatib says revolves around nutritional security from the grassroots up. Active mothers are given training and a certificate upon completion of a nutrition course, and go on to form a support group in their neighbourhood with other vulnerable women.

"Mothers of malnourished children are usually also malnourished themselves and absolutely exhausted.

"It affects her mental capacity. Most mothers that come in here have depression, and their coping mechanisms are not developed, which affects their relationship with their families and children. We try to counsel the entire household so it's useful without being stigmatic."

Forced to cope

But Palestinian families have had to resort to severe measures just to ensure their survival, according to recent studies.

Such coping mechanisms have ranged from forgoing medical needs, to decreasing the numbers of meals per day.

Mothers skimp on clothes for their offspring and fuel bills

The new Johns Hopkins study has found that two-thirds of the population is not paying or paying less on utility bills in order to purchase food. More than half have given up buying clothes for their children, and 20% forgo buying medications needed for chronic diseases.

And according to Ard al-Insan's annual report, nine per cent of families in Gaza eat only one meal a day, and another 40% rely on money borrowed from relatives in order to buy their food. Dairy intake has decreased by more than 80%, due to the rising cost of milk.

Some 46.8% of all Palestinian households receive food assistance from agencies. In Gaza, the number is a startling 72%.

Greenough says the situation will not improve in the long-term unless the underlying cause is addressed: poverty.

"I've been in some homes and all I've seen is water, parsley, and bread," he said.

"The problem isn't the food - there's food out there, but people just can't buy it. It's very, very sad."

[] Collection of toys, computers and clothes for Palestinian Children

From: "yafit biso"

òáøéú îäùåìç äî÷åøé

Dear everybody

The school holidays which began a few days ago are not always a time of pleasure for children in the besieged West Bank villages, who are often feeling bored and frustrated. Me and several of my friends are trying to help children of different ages by collecting old toys, as well as old computers to which we fit programs in Arabic and give them especially to sick children who can't leave home to play. Children's cloths are also welcome. Anyone who can donate such items, please contact Yafit-Jamilah Biso 03-9568061 or 064341840

P.S. See our calendar links & announcements

- new maps, brochures, eye-witness reports

- films, expositions, refusnik links

- Gush Shalom details re website, donations, subscription to email # Truth against Truth - opposite views on the history of the conflict in 101 steps

Hebrew / òáøéú http://www.gush-shalom.org/Docs/Truth_Heb.pdf

English http://www.gush-shalom.org/Docs/Truth_Eng.pdf

# Palestinians draw the map for understanding the Disengagement Plan http://www.nad-plo.org/images/maps/pdf/gaza.pdf

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