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NZ -Palestinian groups protest

PRESS STATEMENT NOVEMBER 26TH 2006

For immediate release


Israeli Chief of Israeli Defence Force (Ret'd) in NZ -Palestinian groups protest!

Auckland and Wellington Palestine support organisations are protesting against the presence in New Zealand of the former Israel Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon who is responsible for war crimes in Lebanon and is a fugitive from justice.

Ya'alon is a veteran Israeli soldier who was appointed by former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to head the Israeli Defence Forces between 2002 and 2005.

The Wellington Palestine Group & Peace Action Wellington will be protesting against Ya'alon's presence at a meeting he is addressing in Wellington tonight (Sunday 26 November) and the Auckland Palestine Human Rights Campaign will be mounting a picket against Ya'alon in Auckland on Tuesday (28 November).

On 15 December 2005 the New York based Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR) served process papers against Ya'alon in the United States for war crimes and other human rights violations.

The Wellington Palestine Group's Serena Moran says Moshe Ya'alon is responsible for the 1996 Israeli shelling of the United Nations compound at Qana in south Lebanon, in which more than 100 civilians lost their lives.

"Ya'alon was head of the IDF Military Intelligence at the time. He helped decide on the attack and carried command responsibility for it," Serena Moran says.

At the time the United Nations investigated the shelling and concluded that the Israeli military had violated international humanitarian law.

Serena Moran pointed out that last March the New Zealand government banned Ya'alon's then deputy Chief of Staff, Major General Gabi Ashkenazi, from entering New Zealand to raise funds for Keren Hayesod, the United Israel Appeal.

"Not only are these Israeli generals heading for New Zealand to justify continuing war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories, but they are raising money for very questionable purposes," Serena Moran says.

Publicity for Ya'alon's Auckland meeting includes what is called the launch of the New Zealand Park in Israel.

"For starters, the money goes to the Jewish National Fund, which is the apartheid type organisation which has the job of reallocating the majority of Palestinian land in Israel for exclusive Jewish use.

Secondly, we understand - though have not been able to verify it - that the land for the New Zealand Park is actually in occupied East Jerusalem. This is not in Israel at all.

If this is the case then it is highly likely that Ya'alon, besides being a war criminal, is raising funds in New Zealand for what is probably an illegal purpose.

We doubt whether it is legal to raise money here and transfer it overseas, for the purpose of constructing a park on land that Israel does not own and is illegal under international law to carry out any sort of construction activity on," Serena Moran says.

Tuma Hazou spokesperson for the Auckland-based Palestine Human Rights Campaign says that: "the fact that the US Court has not dismissed the lawsuit brought against Ya'alon is an indication that there is substance to the case against him".

Hazou is disappointed that New Zealand which has always stood for the underdog is opening its doors to the likes of Ya'alon who have gone on record with their racist attitudes to Arabs and particularly to Palestinians.

Ends

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