Gaza

UN chief says Israel’s Gaza policies fuel radicalism

By Simon Rocker, March 26, 2009

Israeli policies in Gaza have proved counterproductive and are only fuelling more radicalism, according to the head of the United Nations agency responsible for Palestinian refugees there.

John Ging, director of operations for UNRWA (the UN Relief and Works Agency), met Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Foreign Office officials in London on Monday on the way to Washington to brief officials of the Obama administration.

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Israelis debate morality of Gaza

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 26, 2009

The publication of the experiences of young soldiers from Operation Cast Lead has kicked off a public debate in Israel over the morality of the army’s conduct in Gaza.

The stories of the soldiers, alumni of the Oranim pre-military academy, were published last week in Haaretz and Maariv. They described several IDF units as acting in a trigger-happy army that operated with scant regard for Palestinian civilians.

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Ministers’ ‘U-turn on war-crime law’

By Anshel Pfeffer and Marcus Dysch, March 26, 2009

Senior Israeli officials have attacked the British government for reneging on its promise to change a law that allows private citizens to bring war crimes charges against Israeli officers.

The failure to alter the legislation effectively bars Israeli top brass from entering Britain for fear they would be arrested on arrival.

“Both the Blair and Brown governments promised us that they would bring the necessary legislation to Parliament,” said a senior Israeli diplomat. “But it is clear now that they never really meant to fulfil that promise.”

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Ken Loach accuses Israel of ‘great crimes’

By Marcus Dysch, March 19, 2009

The maverick film director Ken Loach has attacked Israel’s action in Gaza, calling it “one of the great crimes of the last decades” and arguing that the rise in antisemitism is a direct consequence.

Speaking during a Belgian press conference at the launch of an international independent tribunal on the conflict, Mr Loach said individuals and organisations behind Operation Cast Lead would “have to pay” for their actions.

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Nato nations pledge to halt smuggling of arms to Gaza

By Leon Symons, March 19, 2009

Nine Nato countries have pledged international action in a concerted effort to halt illegal arms smuggling into Gaza.

Britain is one of the nine and Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell said on Wednesday: “We are not prepared to put up with arms smuggling and we are prepared to take action to stop and disrupt such activity.”

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Snow defends Channel Four’s Israel coverage

By James Martin, March 19, 2009

Broadcaster Jon Snow this week defended Channel 4’s coverage of the recent Israeli incursion into Gaza, arguing that “both sides of the conflict have been let down by the political classes and it’s left to the media to pick up the can”.

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Lib Dems urge ban on arms to Israel

By Marcus Dysch, March 19, 2009

The Liberal Democrats have called for a suspension of British arms sales to Israel following the Gaza conflict.

In a wide-ranging motion proposed by MP Edward Davey, the party’s foreign affairs spokesman, at its spring conference in Harrogate, delegates also voted for the suspension of the update to Israel’s association agreement with the EU, which provides the basis for the country’s dealings in Europe.

Lib Dem Friends of Israel chairman Monroe Palmer said: “Restrictions on trade with Israel will not resolve any problems in the region whatsoever.

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Oxfam official to be shown Sderot

By Simon Rocker, March 12, 2009

The head of the Reform movement, Rabbi Tony Bayfield, is to take a senior representative of Oxfam next week to Sderot, the southern Israeli town that has been the prime target of rocket attacks from Gaza.

“We will be going to a school in Sderot,” he told a meeting of the Reform council on Sunday, “and he can see Israeli children who have been physically and psychologically traumatised by the war to understand a bit better that there are two sides to the story.”

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Amnesty U-turn over Gaza weapons

By Marcus Dysch, March 11, 2009

Amnesty International has admitted it has no proof that British weapons were used by the Israeli army during the Gaza conflict.

The human rights organisation had last month accused the UK government of “aiding Israeli war crimes”, and called for a UN arms embargo.

But on Wednesday, Oliver Sprague, the charity’s arms programme director, appeared in front of a parliamentary select committee session on arms export controls.

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Worcester scraps Gaza twinning plan

By Marcus Dysch, March 10, 2009

Plans to twin the cities of Worcester and Gaza have been scrapped.

Worcester City councillors had approved a sister-city motion last month, saying residents felt strongly about January’s conflict and wanted to send a “personal message” of support.

But at a meeting on Monday, Worcester Twinning Association, an independent body which makes the final decision, rejected the proposal.

Its executive committee said there were insufficient resources to take on the “complex arrangements” needed to set up a “meaningful relationship” or active link.

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