Four Questions for Prime Minister Netanyahu

(Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

(Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

This week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to give two major speeches in Washington, DC.  The first is Monday at the conference of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).  The second is on Tuesday before the U.S. Congress.

Tuesday’s speech has been generating headlines, with more than 30 Members of Congress reportedly declaring that they will not attend.  But despite the controversy surrounding Netanyahu’s invitation to speak before Congress, the policies of his government are what deserve real scrutiny.

Here are four key questions that Prime Minister Netanyahu should have to answer while he makes the rounds in Washington, DC: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Challenging Israel’s Occupation, Palestinians Create ‘Gate of the Sun’ Village

By Amnesty International Campaigner Saleh Hijazi

Israeli border policemen guard the Bab al-Shams (Gate of the Sun) ‘outpost’ after evicting Palestinian protesters from the site on January 13, 2013 © Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Israeli border policemen guard the Bab al-Shams (Gate of the Sun) ‘outpost’ after evicting Palestinian protesters from the site on January 13, 2013 © Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

In the small hours of Sunday, more than 500 Israeli police surrounded around 130 Palestinian activists at a protest camp on the hills opposite the illegal Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, east of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank.

The camp, which the activists called the village of Bab al-Shams (Gate of the Sun), was set up on privately-owned Palestinian land two days before to protest against the Israeli occupation and continued expansion of illegal settlements, which goes hand in hand with forced evictions in the West Bank.

Heavily armed police moved into the village to remove the peaceful activists on orders from the Israeli government, despite a High Court ruling on Friday not to remove the camp.

Eventually the video stream I was watching was cut off, but it was still possible to follow Twitter, where activists reported on the arrests and eviction moment by moment.


Investigating Rocket Attacks in Israel

The following post is by Ann Harrison, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme

Damaged building in Rishon Lezion apartment building in Tel Aviv

Damage to an apartment building in Rishon LeZion, outside Tel Aviv, from rockets fired from Gaza. © Amnesty International

It was dawn when we arrived in Israel to begin our investigation into rocket attacks from Gaza which by the end of the latest flare in violence had left six Israelis, including four civilians, dead, at least 40 injured and 300 more treated for shock.

Up in the sky oddly shaped vapour trails made us wonder if these were the remnants of the “Iron Dome” missiles – used to intercept the rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups which this time reached as far north as Tel Aviv.

One of the rooms in our apartment was the obligatory mamad – a bomb shelter which all new builds in Israel must have. Windowless, with reinforced walls, it’s there to protect residents during rocket attacks.


The Freedom Flotilla, Civil Disobedience and Government Collusion

Greece has offered to deliver any humanitarian aid contained on Freedom Flotilla boats to Gaza through “existing channels”.  Israel as well as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon have accepted this idea – except one thing – Greece’s offer misses the point.

In addition to the continuing humanitarian concerns, even after Israel’s ‘easing’ of restrictions and the recent ‘opening’ of the Rafah crossing by Egypt, there is the blockade itself.

Although this video was produced one year after operation ‘Cast Lead’ ended, former AI researcher, Francesca Burke, speaks about the difficulties in getting in materials to rebuild and recover from the devastation of the military conflict as well as the blockade which still holds true and relevant today.

Even if all the humanitarian needs of the population were relieved, the Israeli-imposed Gaza blockade would still violate the Gazans’ basic human rights.