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Cathal Og Donnelly who was recently in Gaza on an Irish Friends of Palestine Student Delegation chairs a discussion on Palestine with Derry Friends of Palestine speaker Gerry Maclochlainn who has been to Gaza 6 times.

As part of the National Hungerstrike Commemoration 2012 Derry Friends of Palestine was invited to travel to Dungiven to deliver a talk and discussion on Palestine. The discussion was facilitated and chaired by Cathal Og Donnelly from the Sinn Féin – Republican Youth Committee. The talk covered the recent political situation, the EU trade agreement with israel, possible roles for Ireland, and of course on the heels of our successful Prisoners Conference in May, the event ended with a discussion of Palestinian prisoner issues. A special report on Fishermen in Gaza from our friend Jenny Graham in Gaza was read out. It covered the international work being done to help the fisherman. Jenny painted a dire and dangerous situation facing these fisherman as they come up against the israeli Navy on a frequent basis. Their boats are targetted, and at times their lives are lost, simply trying to make their living as fishermen. Big thanks to Jenny for keeping us updated. You can read Jenny’s report here.

Cathal Og Donnelly was recently in Gaza as part of the Irish Friends of Palestine Freedom and Friendship Student Delegation March/April 2012. Cathal discribed the harsh situation he witnessed in Gaza and told the story of a small boy who was walking to school with his little brother when an israeli missle struck and killed his young brother as he watched in horror. Cathal spoke of how the Delegation visited the boy’s school and witnessed the destruction of the apartment building next door near where the child had been murdered.

Gerry Maclochlainn gave an update on the current political situation in Palestine which covered the EU trade agreement with israel, what roles if any Ireland can play in helping the Palestinians move forward. He ended with a discussion onthe current Palesitnian hungerstrike and prisoners issues and abuses being suffered within the israeli prisons including human rights abuses, torture and internment.

Gerry MacLochlainn talks about the current political situation in Palestine, the EU Trade Agreement with israel and what possible role Ireland can take to help the Palestinians. The talk ended with a discussion of Palestinian Prisoner issues.

The audience then heard a recorded message from a former Palestinian prisoner in Gaza who was recently released as part of the Gilad Shalit negotiated deal between israel and Hamas. The agreement saw hundreds of Palestinian prisoners released, many of whom had been held for years and never having been charged with any crime. This is an illegal practice called “Administrative Detention” better known to us in Ireland as “Internment.”

recently released former Palestinian prisoner Abu Taha speaks about Palestinian prisoners and solidarity between Ireland and Palestine

Ahmed Taha originallly spoke at the “Dying to Live” prisoners conference we held in association with our partners UFree. Abu Taha told the audience of the harsh conditions for prisoners in israeli gaols, and he delivered a heartfelt speech of solidarity and between Ireland and Palestine wiht quotes from Bobby Sands.

The meeting closed with a brief update from the Chair of Irish Friends of Palestine on the upcoming 2nd “Freedom and Friendship Delegation” to Gaza which covered how people can help and get involved with Irish Friends of Palestine.

Please enjoy more photos of the event:

As you watch your favorite teams playing in the Euro2012 games, can you please give thought to 25 year old Mahmoud Sarsak, a skillful footballer who once played for the Palestinian National team. He urgently needs your support as he now faces death at the hands of the oppressive Israeli regime.

Mahmoud Sarsak has been held on Administrative Detention (internment) for 3 years, wihtout charge and without trail. He has been convicted of NO crime! He was on his way to play a game in the West Bank of Palestine 3 years ago he was arrested at a checkpoint and has been illegally held ever since that day. He is now reaching his 92nd day of hunger strike- the longest hunger strike undergone by a Palestinian Political prisoner. Due to the prolonged suffering to his body and immune system his health is deteriorating rapidly and his condition is now more critical than ever.
UFree Palestinian Prisoners Association and Irish Friends of Palestine urge you to support his Mahmoud Sarsak’s case immediately!

Israel should be subjected to the same criticism faced by Poland and Ukraine, who are hosting Euro 2012. It is time to end Israel’s impunity and to insist on the same standards of equality, justice and respect for international law that we demand of other states.

UFree Palestinian Prisoners Organisation urge you to take the following actions so Sarsak’s life can be saved:

1. Highlight Sarsaks case by contacting parliamentarians and Israeli embassies across the world and subject Israel to the same criticism faced by Poland and Ukraine, who are hosting Euro 2012.
2. To urge FIFA to intervene in the case, expressing grave concern regarding Sarsak’s deteriorating health. http://www.fifa.com/contact/form.html
I urge your support as we call an end to Israel’s impunity and to insist on the same standards of equality, justice and respect for international law that we demand of other states.

You can copy and send the letter below to your local MP’s and MEP’s, you can contact the Israeli embassy in your country and demand Sarsak be charged or set free!
Letter:

Re: Palestinian prisoner Mahmoud Sarsak deteriorating health

As the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship grips the nation I draw your attention to the plight of Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak. Once a star player in the Palestinian national team, Sarsak was jailed by Israel in 2009, as he left the Gaza Strip en route to a match. He has since been held without charge or trial. Sarsak had been on a hunger strike since 19 March 2012, after his administrative detention was once again renewed for an astonishing sixth time.

His health condition is now critical and deteriorating fast. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) have said that Sarsak could die at any time. Israel has not allowed the charity to visit him in Ramle Prison until last week. Sarsak has experienced extreme loss of muscle tissue and drastic weight loss. He frequently loses consciousness and suffers memory lapses.

On Sunday 6th of June, Israeli Prisons Service (IPS) transferred Sarsak to Assaf Harofeh hospital because of his rapid deteriorating health. This transfer was due to the inability of both Al Ramla prison hospital and Mair civil hospital to treat Sarsak’s critical health condition.

Sarsak has been interned without trial or charge for 3 years under the infamous “Unlawful Combatants Law”, which allows Israeli authorities to detain Palestinians from Gaza for an unlimited time without trial or charge.

I ask you to please call on Israel to either charge him or release him now!

Yours sincerely,

A letter from Thaer Halahleh, on day 75 of hunger strike against his detention without charge, to his two-year-old daughter Lamar, who he has never seen.

“My Beloved Lamar, forgive me because the occupation took me away from you, and took away from me the pleasure of witnessing my first born child that I have always prayed to God to see, to kiss, to be happy with. It is not your fault, this is our destiny as Palestinian people to have our lives and the lives of our children taken away from us, to be apart from each other and to have a miserable life, nothing is complete in our lives because of this unjust occupation that is lurking on every corner of our lives turning it into eeriness, a continuous pursuit and torture.

Despite that I was deprived from holding you and hearing your voice, from watching you grow up and move around in the house and in your be, and that I was deprived of my rule as a human and a father with my daughter your existence has given me all the power and hope, and when I saw your picture with your mother in the sit-in tent, you were so calm staring in wonder at people, as if you were looking for your father, looking at my pictures that are hung inside the tent asking in silence why is my father not coming back, I felt that you are with me, in my sentiment and inside my mind, as if you are a part of my heartbeats, steadfast and the blood that flows in my veins, opening all doors for me spreading clear skies around me, and unleashing your free childish voice after this long silence”.

“Lamar my love: I know that you are not to be blamed and that you don’t yet understand why your father is going through this battle of the hunger strike for the 75th day, but when you grow up you will understand that the battle of freedom is the battle of going back to you, so that I can never be taken away from you again or to be deprived of your smile or seeing you, so that the occupier will never kidnap me again from you”.

“When you grow up you will understand how injustice was brought upon your father and upon thousands of Palestinians whom the occupation has put in prisons and jail cells, shattering their lives and future for no guilt but their pursuit of freedom, dignity and independence, you will know that your father did not tolerate injustice and submission, that he will never accept insult and compromise, and that he is going through a hunger strike to protest against the Jewish state that wants to turn us into humiliated slaves without any rights or patriotic dignity”.

“My beloved Lamar keep your head up always and be proud of your father, and thank everyone who supported me, who supported the prisoners in their struggle, and don’t be afraid god is with us always, and god never lets people who have faith and patience, we are righteous, and right will always prevail against injustice and wrong doers”.

“Lamar my love: that day will come, and I will make it up to you for everything, and tell you the whole story, and your days that will follow will be more beautiful, so let your days pass now and wear your prettiest clothes, run and then run again in the gardens of your long life, go forward and forward nothing is behind you but the past, and this is your voice I hear all the time as a melody of freedom”.

taken from the Middle East Institute for Understanding HERE

Big Greetings from Hassan Salama School Gaza

PRESS RELEASE
Tuesday 10th April 2012
For Immediate Use

Irish Freedom & Friendship Delegation to Gaza a resounding success

Local Derry/Irish Friends of Palestine delegates returned from the first Irish “Freedom and Friendship Delegation” to Gaza promising to redouble their efforts to build links with our sister city of Khan Younis and to support the people of Gaza by continuing with more delegations in future.

Delegates from Irish Friends of Palestine were Gerry MacLochlainn delegation leader & Charlie McMenamin activist (both former Irish Political Prisoners), Ruairi McLaughlin, Mickey McCrossan, Alanna Campbell and Cathal Og Donnelly (Students and members of Sinn Fein Republican Youth), activist Liam McConway and Freedom & Friendship Delegation organiser Sinead MacLochlainn.

Speaking on arrival home, Derry/Irish Friends of Palestine Chairperson Sinead MacLochlainn said:

“Our delegation was hosted by the Mayor of Khan Younis Mr. Mohammed Al Farra, and the Municipality of Khan Younis, who so graciously offered us the most incredible hospitality, given the current conditions in Gaza which remains under a brutal blockade by Israel. Mayor Al Farra received us on our arrival and ensured a packed programme of visits and meetings with all aspects of society throughout Khan Younis and Gaza City.”

Delegation pictured with Mayor Mohammed Al Farra of Khan Younis, Palestine

“The main purpose of the delegation was to build educational links with the Ministry of Education and HIgher Education and University students. As such our Delegation was received by the heads of some of the main Universities in the Gaza strip, including the Islamic University of Gaza, Al Aqsa University (both the Gaza and Khan Younis Campus) and Khan Younis College of Science and Technology. Despite the siege and lack of electricity or fuel, we were impressed to learn that some 40% of young people in Gaza have access to further or higher education and some 60% of these students are women.”

“The Delegation was invited to a lunch at the Ministry of Education where we were greeted by Mr. Ahmed Ayesh Alnajjar the Director of International and Public Relations of Ministry of Education and Higher Education on behalf of Dr. Osama Elmozini the Minister of Education and Higher Education. The Student leaders on our Delegation were presented with a beautiful Plaque from the Ministry of Education to be presented to the Minister of Education here in the North of Ireland. Additionally a Plaque was also give the the Delegation itself in appreciation of the Educational links being created between Ireland and Gaza.

Plaque Presented to Student Leaders, Alanna Campbell, Ruairi McLaughlin, Mickey McCrossan and Cathal Og Donnelly

“Members of the Irish Delegation also met with representatives of the main political parties in Palestine, including Dr. Hisham Abdelrazic the Fateh leader in Gaza, and Dr. Yousef Al-Mansi, One of Hamas leaders and also the Minister of Telecommunication in the Gaza Government and finally Dr. Ahmed Bahar, Deputy Speaker of the Palestine Legislative Council.”

“In Khan Younis we visited the site of a large play park and International Garden area which is still under construction, here the student delegates joined local families in a soccer game with an idyllic view of the Mediterranean sea in the background. The Students played ball with local children at the park. Even here the realities of Israeli occupation were evident with armed Israeli drones and F-16 fighter planes flying over head. During our stay the F-16’s were our alarm clocks and the early morning call as they criss-crossed Gaza skies terrorising the population. They also dropped leaflets warning that anyone who went to within 300m of the border would be shot. Welcome to life in Palestine.”

“Visiting the packed refugee camps bears witness to the reality of life for many poor or homeless people in Gaza. Many of them had once been in full-time employment before the blockade, still others had their homes destroyed by Israel. Up to 4 generations all living in a 6 by 6 metre shed with broken walls, collapsed roofs and dirt floors with sewage problems. And still they smile at us for visiting them, this is the unbreakable spirit of Palestine!”

Delegation meeting with familly in Refugee Camp

“On our last morning as we had our breakfast we were again reminded of the realities of life for the innocent civilians of Gaza. Fishermen in small wooden crafts who attempt to gather the ever shrinking available fish which swim in the three kilometres of their own waters, the only place that Israel allows them to fish, were to come under fire from Israeli naval ships. We could hear the heavy naval canons interspersed with the pulse of heavy machine guns. We were left wondering if we’d be hearing of yet another fishermen killed for trying to support his family.”

“We also learned that three young children had been burned to death during the night while attempting to read and study by candlelight. The candle fell over and they were trapped in their bedroom, God help them, all that was left of the three children were the scorched books on the floor which they had been studying from. Yet more tiny victims of the collective punishment siege as Israel only allows 6 hours of electricity each day, these few hours can come at any time even in the middle of the night when the population is asleep, so many students rely on dangerous burning candles to study! Myself and Ogra Alanna Campbell of Coalisland attended the children’s wake with other local women. Their Mother came over and handed me her last remaining child to hold in my arms as we cried together. The tiny 3 month old baby sister who was the only survivor, found under a pile of blankets which somehow managed to save her little life by protecting her from the smoke and flames which consumed her 3 siblings.”

“Leaving we were all very silent heading to Rafah to cross back into Egypt and then home to Ireland, just trying to absorb the gravity of what we had all witnessed for the last 8 days. But we pledged we would do all we can to support our friends in Gaza and to tell their stories to the world. Therefore Irish Friends of Palestine and Derry Frinds of Palestine will continue with more Freedom & Friendship Irish Delegations to Gaza until the murderous siege is lifted!”

BOOKMARK OUR PAGE AS WE WILL BE POSTING INDIVIDUAL REPORTS ABOUT ALL THE MEETINGS AND EVENTS WE ATTENDED IN GAZA
some of those inculded are:
Ministry of Education and HIgher Education
Islamic University of Gaza
Al Aqsa University
Khan Younis College of Science and Technology
Jabalia Martyrs Primary School
Refugee camps, meeting the poor and homeless
Global March to Jerusalem/Land Day Events
Khan Younis meetings
Political Meetings with Fateh, Hamas, and the PLC
Ministry of Youth and Sport
Effects of the Siege First Hand
Gaza Harbour
Local Weekly Prisoner Protests
Prisoners and their Families
UFREE Prisoners Conference Gaza City
Ethar Initiative
Emaar & Albasmah Centre
Khan Younis Park and Garden Development
plus much more…..

techniques used by shin bet on palestinians

via UFREE

A newly released report revealed that Israeli occupation authorities detain more than 40 handicapped Palestinians in jails and detention centers.

The report also showed that hundreds of detainees are suffering from serious mental and psychological ailments, while some others use wheelchairs.

Director of the Department of Statistics at Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs, Abdel Nasser Farawana, said the occupation authorities refused to respond to the calls of human rights and health organizations to provide the detainees with medication in order to save their lives.

Since 1967, Israel did not exclude the wounded, sick and people with disabilities from arrest, and kept detaining thousands of handicapped Palestinians in its notorious prisons, Ferwana added.

The report marks the International Day of Prisoners with Disabilities adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1982.

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