Gaza: Donne incinte ed i loro neonati contaminati da metalli pesanti legati agli attacchi israeliani

La rivista scientifica British Medical Journal  Open ha pubblicato uno studio svolto a Gaza su 502 donne in gravidanza al momento degli attacchi israeliani del 2014. Questo lavoro riporta un alto tasso di contaminazione nei capelli in metalli pesanti nelle donne esposte agli attacchi e  in proporzione nei i capelli dei loro bambini.

5 Agosto 2017, Paola Manduca, Prof. Genetics
Genoa, Italy

I metalli pesanti utilizzati durante le guerre, contengono elementi tossici, teratogeni e cancerogeni. Essi sono noti come perturbatori endocrini. Essi sono resistenti nell’ambiente, si accumulano nel corpo, ed i loro effetti sugli esseri viventi persistono ancor più se questi metalli pesanti non vengono rimossi dall’ambiente (armi, schegge, missili, rovine contaminate …). Ricercatori italiani, finlandesi e di Gaza hanno dimostrato che la contaminazione da metalli pesanti è un fattore di rischio  a lungo termine per la salute delle donne incinte e dei loro bambini.

Questi ricercatori hanno analizzato la quantità di 23 tipi di metalli nei capelli delle donne  di Gaza, che erano in stato di gravidanza durante l’estate del 2014, e in quelli dei bambini a cui hanno dato luce più tardi, e trovato che queste erano superiori al contenuto dei metalli nei capelli di donne al di fuori di zone di guerra.

Essi hanno anche studiato la trasmissione in utero metalli pesanti, così come la possibilità che l’assunzione fosse dovuta a fattori diversi ed estranei alla guerra.

Lo studio ha usato spettrometria con plasma-massa (ICP-MS) e sono stati fatti confronti con gruppi esposti agli agenti chimici domestici e agricoli.

I risultati mostrano un carico in metalli pesante significativamente più alto per le donne esposte ad attacchi militari, proporzionale ma piu basso nei loro neonati che però sono più frequentemente colpite da difetti congeniti o nati prematuramente.

E’ stata raccolta testimonianza e poi documentata con visite in loco,  la frequenza di esposizione ad attacchi militari delle donne; circa il 70% delle madri, sono state coinvolte in attacchi, il che suggerisce una alta contaminazione  di tutta la popolazione.

Gli autori raccomandano “monitoraggio, biomonitoraggio e sorveglianza nel tempo  su questo tema di ricerca di interesse pubblico” per il quale, fanno notare, “non siamo in grado di sapere se c’è anche il rischio di effetti transgenerazionali”.  Difetti congeniti sono stati osservati più frequentemente nei nati da madri esposte ad attacchi militari in Iraq e a Gaza (dopo gli attacchi nel 2008-2009).

Gli autori della ricerca sono Paola Manduca, Safwat Y Diab, R Qouta Samir Nabil Albarqouni, Raiija-Leena Punamaki, con la collaborazione di Fabrizio Minichilli, e Fabrizio Bianchi per l’analisi statistica.

Articolo integrale.

Documento completo in inglese, formato PDF.

Invictapalestina ringrazia tutti coloro che partecipando alla nostra iniziativa del 2014, ci hanno permesso di contribuire al finanziamento della ricerca con 500 euro.

thanks to: invictapalestina

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A cross sectional study of the relationship between the exposure of pregnant women to military attacks in 2014 in Gaza and the load of heavy metal contaminants in the hair of mothers and newborns

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  1. Paola Manduca1,
  2. Safwat Y Diab2,
  3. Samir R Qouta3,
  4. Nabil MA Albarqouni3,
  5. Raiija-Leena Punamaki4

Author affiliations

  1. DISTAV, University of Genoa, Genova, Italy
  2. Al-Quds Open University-Gaza Branch, Gaza, Gaza Strip, Palestine
  3. Islamic University of Gaza, Gaza, Palestine
  4. University of Tampere, School of Social Sciences and Humanities/Psychology, Tampere, Finland
  1. Correspondence to Prof. Paola Manduca; paolamanduca@gmail.com

Abstract

Objective Metal contamination of humans in war areas has rarely been investigated. Weaponry’s heavy metals become environmentally stable war remnants and accumulate in living things. They also pose health risks in terms of prenatal intake, with potential long term risks for reproductive and children’s health. We studied the contribution of military attacks to the load of 23 metals in the hair of Palestinian women in the Gaza Strip, who were pregnant at the time of the military attacks in 2014, and their newborns. We compared the metal load in the mothers with values for adult hair from outside the war area (RHS) as the reference. We investigated heavy metals trans-passing in utero, and assessed if the heavy metal intake could derive from sources unrelated to the war.

Design Cross sectional study.

Participants and setting Cross sectional convenience sample of 502 mothers delivering in the Gaza Strip and their newborns.

Main outcome measured Measure of the load of heavy metals in mother and newborn hair by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Comparison of metal loads with the reference RHS, between groups with different exposures to attacks and house/agriculture chemicals, and between mothers and newborns. Data for birth registry and for exposures to war and other known risk factors were obtained at interview with the mothers. Photographic documentation of damage from military attacks was obtained.

Results The whole cross sectional convenience sample had a significantly higher load of heavy metals than the reference RHS. Women exposed to military attacks had a significantly higher load of heavy metals than those not exposed; the load in newborns correlated positively with the mothers’ load. No significant difference was found between users/non-users of house/agriculture chemicals. No other known confounder was identified.

Conclusions High heavy metal loads in mothers, reflected in those of their newborns, were associated with exposure to military attacks, posing a risk of immediate and long term negative outcomes for pregnancy and child health. Surveillance, biomonitoring and further research are recommended. Implications for general and public health are discussed.

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

Strength and limitations of this study

  • The lack of ‘never exposed to war’ controls within Gaza is a limitation of the study which cannot be overcome.

  • A general limitation of this type of study is that the risks posed in the long term by the intake of multiple heavy metals are still largely unknown in humans, and in particular during pregnancy.

  • The size of the sample, while adequate to identify the correlation between levels of heavy metals with environmental exposure, is not large enough to accurately study the negative outcomes at birth (birth defects and preterm) due to their low frequency.

  • A strength of the study is the inclusion of a relatively large cross sectional convenience sample of participants, allowing for subgroups of exposure, suitable in size for statistical analysis.

  • An important point was the inclusion of analyis of newborn hair in for metal load. .

  • Verification by in loco visits the recall of exposure of women on an objective basis gives additional strength to the study.

  • Development of a questionnaire and of procedures that allowed information to be obtained on various habits and different potentially risky environmental exposures, -allowing to exclude some more likely potential confounders.

  • The analysis of microelements and metals not associated with weaponry provided an internal control for the analytic results.

Introduction

Women and children are highly vulnerable during periods of war and military attacks, as well as in the aftermath of war, because of the possibility of the long term effects of war related environmental changes on reproductive and infant health. Accumulation in human bodies of toxicants and heavy metal teratogens found in the remnants of war occurs, that, coupled with their long persistence in the environment, suggests a considerable risk for health.1–6 The effects of toxicants, teratogens and carcinogens related to heavy metals have been found in embryos at concentrations lower than in adults.7 8 During the first trimester of pregnancy, major morphogenetic events occur, and is the period of highest sensitivity of the embryo to external effectors. Apart from the mutational risks posed by some of the heavy metals, there is compelling evidence of their prevalent epigenetic mechanisms of action.8–15 Heavy metals act as endocrine disruptors,8 and their interference with gene expression causes disturbances in various metabolic and hormonal pathways.9 The epigenetic mechanisms are an essential part of the current understanding of the developmental origin of health and disease.11–15 Reports show that heavy metals accumulate in specific body compartments and can be released during pregnancy.9 12–15 However, relatively little is known about the kinetics, modalities and accumulation of heavy metals in compartments of the human body. Also, not much is known about the following phenomena: the effects of human subjects’ concurrent intake of multiple toxic metals, the kinetics of the passage of heavy metals through the placenta and the critical concentrations that affect the embryo and fetus.

In addition to the risks posed by acute exposure, persistence of heavy metals in the environment may cause people to be continually exposed which, combined with the accumulation of heavy metals in different compartments of the body, adds to the concerns about the long term negative effects on health. The long term effects of metals via epigenetic mechanisms can occur in mothers, fetuses exposed in utero and in breastfed infants and children; these effects could even be transgenerational.10–13 16 17

Military attacks are a source of heavy metal input in war zone environments, and may influence the health of the population and affect the outcomes of pregnancies.4 16 The prevalence of birth defects increased in areas heavily exposed to military attacks in Iraq,18 and in Gaza after the Israeli military operation of Cast Lead in 2008–200919 and since the implementation of air delivered weapons in attacks.20 Previous research in Gaza also showed that women’s exposure to military attacks (courtesy of the database of the United Nations’ mine action team) correlated with a higher incidence of progeny with birth defects.20 21 Hair analysis for metal load of infants born prematurely or with birth defects to mothers who experienced military attacks revealed in utero contamination of the babies. The heavy metal load in these newborns was higher than that of normal newborn babies for teratogens (mercury and selenium) in babies with birth defects and for toxicants (barium and tin) in premature babies.22 Together, the data show an association of the damage to newborn health with maternal exposure to attacks, and the trans-placental passage of wartime heavy metal remnants from exposed mothers to their progeny in utero.

Three major wars, with their complex consequences for the environment, may have been the single most influential determinant of change in the living conditions and in the demography of Gaza from 2008 to 2014. The context of the current study is the aftermath of the 2014 Israeli military operation ‘Protective edge’ in Gaza, which lasted for 55 days and had massive effects on civilian life. This operation left widespread structural destruction,23–28 with physical remnants of war, including components of weapons, shrapnel and missiles, as well as environmentally stable chemical elements and contaminated ruins, throughout the area.29 The weapons used in these attacks were documented by the United Nations and other reputable sources, and included missiles, mortars, explosive devices and bombs of various sizes, with or without penetrator heads. The content of heavy metals in each weapon differed, and each had a different range of spread, from metres to hundreds of metres or more.23–29 The Israeli government does not make available a list of weapons used, and all data are directly from United Nations’ agencies and independent witnesses on the ground. Removal of explosive war remnants and the debris of demolition began only 6–8 months after the end of hostilities and involved the creation of open air deposits and the reuse of materials from demolished structures. No transfers of debris could be conducted outside the area of the Gaza Strip.29 Thus any contamination due to the 2014 war remained in the local environment from the time of the attacks throughout the period of our study.

The aim of the study was to investigate whether there were changes in the metal load of a representative segment of the female population after military attacks, particularly with respect to heavy metal contaminants with known teratogen, toxicant and carcinogenic effects, which could pose long term risks for health because of their stability in the environment and tendency to accumulate in the human body. We investigated the extent of exposure to attacks in a cross sectional convenience sample of women who had been in their first trimester of pregnancy during the attacks in the summer of 2014 and who entered one of four major maternity hospitals in Gaza for delivery. The correlation between maternal contamination and their newborns’ was also investigated.

Methods

Participants

Participants were 502 mothers who were in their first trimester of pregnancy during the 2014 war on Gaza and who delivered between late January and March 2015 in one of four maternity wards: Al-Shifa (n=202), Al-Awda (n=100), Al-Nasser (n=100) and Al-Aqsa (n=100). All participants were residents in one of four Gaza Strip governorates. There were no exclusion criteria at enrollment; no participant data were discarded after the interviews, and all donated hair samples were analysed.

Procedures

One midwife in each hospital registered all the deliveries occurring during her work shift and obtained the participants’ written informed consent for participation in the study. The midwife collected the hair samples from mothers and newborns. The midwife also administered a face to face interview with the mothers, following a prepared questionnaire.20–22 This included the standards of European and US birth registers and was integrated previously to include the health history of the extended family (to the second degree), and questions about environmental exposure, including the mothers’ recollections of their exposures to military attacks and a variety of potentially risky habits. This questionnaire was thus an apt tool for the surveillance of changes in reproductive health, including of the inherited component of newborn congenital diseases, and it was useful for establishing correlations with major environmental changes in Gaza. The Palestinian Health Research Council and the Helsinki Committee for Ethical Approval approved the study. The Research Board in the Islamic University of Gaza, Palestine, reviewed and approved the research tools and procedures. Mothers’ recollections of their exposures to attacks were corroborated with objectively documented damage to their dwellings, if the women reported the attacks occurring while they were at home.

Measures

In the present study, the metal load in the hair of mothers and newborns was determined by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) using the methodology recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for testing human exposure to environmental metals.30 We analysed women’s and newborns’ hair for the metal components of weaponry already identified in 2009 at weapons’ wound sites in the bodies of victims of attacks.6 We had also detected these metal components contaminating the hair samples of 65 of 95 children tested 1 year after the attacks of Cast lead (Manduca, unpublished data). We also found some of these metals contaminating the hair of newborns in 2011.21 22 Finally, we tested 23 metals, including known weapon components and war remnants, such as lead (Pb), barium (Ba), mercury (Hg), arsenic (As), zinc (Zn), cadmium (Cd), tin (Sn), uranium (U), tungsten (W) and aluminium (Al). As an internal control, we also measured other metals and microelements that have biological relevance but are not weapons related.

We compared the metal load of thecross sectional convenience sample of Gaza women with values for adult hair from outside the war area (RHS).31 We analysed whether the metal loads in mothers were correlated with those in newborns.

Heavy metal concentrations are expressed as ppm (parts per million). Maternal hair (4 cm) was taken nearest to the scalp at the nape of the neck, which reflected environmental exposure during the last 4–5 months of pregnancy and the eventual release of metals previously accumulated in the body. Hair from newborns reflected the accumulation of metals through life in utero.

All hair was preserved in plastic bags until the moment of analysis, according to the recommendations of the IAEA, in the Pacific Rim Laboratory, ISO/Tec 17 250 accredited (Canada). Analytical procedures were performed according to previous protocols.19 In brief, 0.2 g of washed hair was added to 2 mL of HNO3 and 2 mL of H2O2, heated to 85°C for 2 hours and added at room temperature to 6 mL of water. Samples were run in Agilent 7700. The limits of detection (ppm) were: aluminium (Al) and iron (Fe) 0.4; magnesium (Mg), copper (Cu), lead (Pb), manganese (Mn) and titanium (Ti) 0.04; barium (Ba), cobalt (Co) and chromium (Cr) 0.02; arsenic (As), cesium (Cs) and molybdenum (Mo) 0.001; cadmium (Cd) and uranium (U) 0.0001; mercury (Hg) 0.0004; nickel (Ni) 0.15; selenium (Se) 0.22; tin (Sn) and tungsten (W) 0.03; strontium (Sr) 0.01; vanadium (V) 0.002; and zinc (Zn) 0.3. Experimental values below the limits of detection for each metal were considered equal to 0 0 for the purposes of statistical analysis, which was conducted using median values. Commercial analytical standards of hair for calibration purposes were run in parallel (NCS ZC 81002b and NCS DC73347a; China National Analysis Centre for Iron and Steel).

Exposure to military attacks

The variable exposure of women to military attacks was indicated by self-reporting and verified by photographic documentation. Women responded ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to five questions: whether their own house was bombed during the 2014 war, whether the house next door was bombed during the 2014 war, whether they were inside their home at the time of the attack, whether they were displaced afterwards and whether they found spent ammunition inside their dweling. Based on these answers, they were grouped according to their ‘proximity of exposure to attacks’. The concept of proximal exposure was formulated on the realisation that attacks very often involved the spread of weapons’ parts to adjacent houses. The term ‘proximally exposed” was used to identify women whose homes or neighbouring homes were attacked. The proximally exposed group was divided into two subgroups according to their continuous habitation in the places where the attacks occurred: women who remained in or next to the house that had been bombarded or shelled, and women who moved elsewhere at some time after the attack. Creation of these subgroups reflects the concern that women with ongoing residence at the locations of the attacks might have had different exposures to war remnants than those who had moved. This concern was, ultimately, unfounded. A third group included women who had no recollection of any exposure. In October 2015, we visited the women in subgroups 1 and 2 and photographically documented the damage that had occurred during the military attacks on their dwellings.

Exposure to potential civilian sources of metal contamination

We tested whether other known potential sources of contamination by heavy metals correlated with the mothers’ distribution of metal load. Women were asked about their own use of agricultural substances (pesticides, herbicides, fungicides) and generic household chemicals of unknown composition, their consumption of three main types of medicines and of three prenatal prevention supplements, their use of three available sources of water for drinking and cooking, their frequency of eating fish and their history of smoking. For statistical analyses, a dichotomy variable was formed with 1=women reporting the use of agricultural and household chemicals and 2=non-users.

Statistical methods

The metal loads (ppm) found in the hair of mothers, reported as median values and interquartile ranges, were statistically compared. The first analysis involved the 95th percentile values of the whole cohort and of each exposure group compared with those values for the hair from adults of both sexes from areas unaffected by war (RHS, Germany, by Micro Trace Minerals, MTM; USA by Trace Minerals International, TMI).31 No equivalent reference was available for the newborns’ metal load. The second analysis compared the metal loads within the cross sectional convenience sample between groups proximally exposed and unexposed to military attacks. The third analysis compared the metal loads between users and non-users of agricultural and household chemicals.

In analysing the findings in this study, quantile regression analysis was used because it allowed for the modelling of any percentile or quartile of the outcome, represented in this study by metal distribution, including the median. Furthermore, the Shapiro–Wilk and Pearson’s χ2 normality tests showed that metal concentrations were not normally distributed, and log transformation did not lead to satisfactory results. Quantile regression analysis has the advantage of being more robust against outliers in the outcome variables than least squares regression (linear) and, as a semi-parametric tool, it avoids assumptions about the parametric distribution of the error process.

The relationships between 23 metal concentrations and exposures to military attacks were analysed by multiple quantile regression models, least absolute value models (LAV or MAD) and minimum L1 norm models.32 The quantile regression models, fit by QREG STATA COMMAND, express the quantiles and the conditional distribution as linear functions of the independent variables which, in this case, are exposure and any confounders. Spearman correlations were used to identify the associations between mothers’ and newborns’ metal concentrations. All analyses were performed using STATA v.13.

Results

In this sample, median age of the women was 26.9±5.92 years (range 16–52), and 2.5% of participants were younger than 18 years. Of the 502 women, 26.7% were carrying their first pregnancy during the war, and the majority (88.8%) worked at home. Prenatal care efforts, including consumption of iron, vitamins and folic acid, were undertaken by 89% of women. A total of 29% reported a diagnosis of anaemia while 0.5% reported a diagnosis of diabetes. The prevalence of preterm delivery was 1.5%; the prevalence of low birth weight (<2.5 kg) was 2.3%. Of the infants in the study, 4.5% were born with birth defects, and all were born alive, although one baby died in the minutes after birth.

Figure 1A shows the percentages of participants residing in each of the four governorates and whether they were displaced after the military attacks. Information about the exact locations of displacement was not available. Figure 1B shows that 32.4% of women reported weapon hits directly on their own house and 14.7% found war remnants inside the dwelling. Among women whose houses were directly hit (n=163), 63% (n=103) were inside the house during the military attack (Figure 1C). Thus a fifth (20.4%) of all women were in their own home  under the attack, and almost half (46.6%) of these found war remnants, generally shrapnel and shells, inside their houses. In addition, 11.9% of the women whose houses were not directly hit reported that weapons remnants reached the interior of their home from military attacks to neighbouring buildings, suggesting a wide radius of the spread of fragments from the blasts.

Figure 1

-C Localization of the mothers during attacks. (A) The residence of the 502 mothers. In black those residing in late 2015 in the same place as during the attacks in gray those displaced afterwards. (B) Left column, percentage of women in the 502 cross sectional convenience sample that reported that their own housing was hit directly and right column, those that found parts of ammunitions in their house. (C) Percentage of women that were inside their house under the attack .

In October 2015, 78 women of the 103 whose homes were hit while they were inside were contacted, and the damage to 49 homes was recorded (in photographs) in order to objectively document the military attacks. Figure 2A shows the number of the visited homes whose damages were photographed ; of these 63% still exhibited the damage from the attacks.  Ten houses were totally destroyed, 15 exhibited major damage and 24 displayed minor damage (Figure 2B and Figure 1 in the online supplement).

Figure 2 A-B

Reported attacks on the housing of the women in the cross sectional convenience sample (n=502). (A) Seventy eight of the 103 women who experienced a direct attack on their house while they were inside it were visited in October 2015. The damages that were still visible were documented by photography. (B) Damages observed  classified according to their impact on the structure.

Subgroups for personal exposure to military attacks were generated in order to investigate associations between the load of metals in women’s hair and their proximity to the military attacks. Figure 3 shows the distribution of the two proximally exposed and the unexposed subgroups. Of the 502 women in this study, 55.9% (n=282) belonged to the subgroup of women who were exposed to an attack and who remained in the same house, where weapon remnants were likely to be present, during the following months of their pregnancy. Subgroup 2, composed of women who were exposed to attacks and who had moved away from the bombed or shelled home, included 12.3% (n=61) of participants. Subgroups 1 and 2 compose what we named the “proximally exposed” women and were the 68.2% of the cross sectional convenience sample. Approximately one-third (31.7%, n=159) of the women belonged to subgroup 3, who reported not having been under or next door to military strikes and were therefore considered unexposed. Photographic evidence confirmed the damage to the houses of 25 women in subgroup 1 and of 24 women in subgroup 2.

 

Distribution of the cross sectional convenience sample according to different environmental exposures. (A) Division of the whole sample into subgroups was based on their reported proximal exposure or non-exposure. All women who reported that their home or the home next door was hit in an attack are in subgroup 1 (55.9% of the sample if they remained a resident in the same house until they delivered their baby, or in subgroup 2 (12.3% of the sample) if they were displaced after the attack. Subgroup 3 (31.7% of the sample reported no exposure to attacks. (B) Source of water for drinking and cooking. (C) Nearness to manufacturers and workshops. (D) Use of household and agriculture chemicals (shown in detail): users, or users of any of these chemicals or more than one.

” data-icon-position=”” data-hide-link-title=”0″>Figure 3 A-D

Figure 3 A-D

Distribution of the cross sectional convenience sample according to different environmental exposures. (A) Division of the whole sample into subgroups was based on their reported proximal exposure or non-exposure. All women who reported that their home or the home next door was hit in an attack are in subgroup 1 (55.9% of the sample if they remained a resident in the same house until they delivered their baby, or in subgroup 2 (12.3% of the sample) if they were displaced after the attack. Subgroup 3 (31.7% of the sample reported no exposure to attacks. (B) Source of water for drinking and cooking. (C) Nearness to manufacturers and workshops. (D) Use of household and agriculture chemicals (shown in detail): users, or users of any of these chemicals or more than one.

Metal load in mothers and newborns

Supplementary Table 1 (see online supplementary Table 1) shows the descriptive values of the metal load, as determined by ICP-MS, for the 23 metals investigated in the hair of mothers and newborns, both for the whole group and for subgroups of exposure to military attacks. In general, the mothers’ metal loads were higher than the newborns’. Spearman correlations of the metal load between the mothers and newborns for the whole sample (Table 1) showed significant (p<0.05) positive correlations for all metal loads, except for Cu and Sn, and a negative correlation for Ba. These data indicate trans-placental passage of toxicants Cr, Cs, Mo, Ni, Sr, Pb and V, and teratogens Hg, U and W.

Table 1

Correlation between mothers’ and newborns’ metal loads. Spearman analysis of the correlation between mothers’ and newborns’ metal loads. Values of p<0.05 are enhanced in yellow for the positive correlations for Mg, Cr, Cs, Hg Mo, Ni, Sr, U, V and W.  The correlation is negative for Ba. Values are reported in ppm

Table 2

Comparison of the metal load of the mothers in the cross sectional convenience sample and in subgroups 1, 2 and 3 with that of reference ranges of standards from areas not involved in the war. Comparison of the 95th percentile of metal load in the wholesample and in subgroups 1–3 with that of standards from areas not involved in wars. Confidence intervals are shown. Results with 95th percentiles significantly higher than the reference value are enhanced in light blue and in bold. Values are reported in ppm. Subgroups 1 and 2 are mothers ‘proximally exposed’ to attacks and subgroup 3 those that reported no exposure

The metal load comparison to a reference standard (RHS) from areas unaffected by war (Table 2) shows the comparison of the 95th percentile of the metal load for the mothers with that of RHS. In the whole sample and in each subgroup, the load of toxicants (Al, Fe, Ba, Mn, Ni, Pb, Sr and V), teratogens (Hg, U and W), carcinogens (As, Cd and Co), and of Mg and Zn was significantly higher in the hair of women in all groups of the Gazacross sectional convenience sample than in the reference group RHS. The load of Cs, Cu, Mo, SE, Sn and Ti did not significantly differ from what was found in the reference group, RHS.

Proximal exposure to military attacks and metal load

To examine whether there is an association between proximal exposure to military attacks and metal load, the median values of the subgroups were analysed by multiple quantile regression models. Results showed that both subgroups of proximally exposed women had significantly higher loads for the majority of metals than the unexposed subgroup. For the sake of clarity, Table 3 does not include the following metals which were detected at the same level in all samples as in RHS, and thus unrelated to differences in anthropogenic activities of any kind in the samples and the reference: Cs, Cu, Mo, Se, Sn and Ti. This analysis confirms that proximal exposure is associated with a higher load of contamination for most metals, with an exception for U, with the highest load in subgroup 3. Specifically, subgroups 1 and 2 together showed significantly higher metal loads than subgroup 3 for Al, Mg, Mn, Ba, As, Zn and V. Subgroups 1 and 2 showed significant differences between them: subgroup 1 was highest for Ba and V; subgroup 2 for Cr, Sr and W. Measured loads of Fe, Hg and Pb were higher in the three subgroups than in RHS but did not differ among the subgroups.

Comparison between the newborns groups for metal load showed that the newborns in subgroup 2 had a significantly higher load of contaminants for most metals, except for Hg and Zn. Yet, children in subgroup 3 had a significantly higher load for Al than newborns in subgroup 1.

Regarding exposures to environmental chemicals from civilian sources and potential confounders, the study showed high homogeneity in the women’s sample for exposure to most of the potential risk factors. For 84% of the women, it was common to use multiple sources for drinking water, and 87% of the women resided far from industrial plants (figure 3B and C). All of the women used a combination of the five food sources (UNRWA, Egyptian, Israeli and Turkish imports, and local). Less than 5% of women engaged in potentially risky habits, such as smoking, using hair dye or consuming medicines (not shown), and most of the women (90%) ate fish, a potential source of mercury, less than or equal to once per month. These putative risk factors do not seem relevant to the differences in the distribution of the metal load found between the women proximally exposed to military attacks and unexposed women.

Table 3a

Comparison between mothers of metal load between subgroups according to their ‘proximal exposure’. The metal load in mothers from different subgroups were compared with each other. Analysis was by multiple quantile regression on median values as linear function of the independent variable, ‘proximal exposure’. For ease in reading the data, the colour yellow indicates that the group in the first column of each panel has significantly higher load (p<0,05) than the one in the second column of the same panel. If vice versa, the line is enhanced in green colour. Panel A compares exposure subgroups 1 with 3; panel B compares exposure subgroups 1 with subgroups 2+3

Table 3b

Comparison between mothers of metal load between subgroups according to their ‘proximal exposure’. The metal load in mothers of different subgroups were compared with each other. Analysis was by multiple quantile regression on median values as linear function of the independent variable, ‘proximal exposure’. For ease in reading the data, the colour yellow indicates that the group in the column on the left in each panel has significantly higher load (p<0.05) than the one in the column on the right in the same panel. If vice versa, the line is enhanced in green colour. Panel C compares exposure subgroups 1+2 with 3; panel D compares exposure subgroups 1 with 2

Table 3c

Comparison between newborns of metal load between subgroups according to the mothers ‘proximal exposure’. The metal load in newborns of different subgroups were compared with each other. Analysis was by multiple quantile regression on median values as linear function of the independent variable, ‘proximal exposure’. For ease in reading the data, the colour yellow indicates that the group in the column on the left in each panel has significantly higher load (p<0.05) than the one in the column on the right in the same panel. If vice versa, the line is enhanced in green colour. Panel A compares exposure subgroups 1 with 3; panel B compares exposure subgroups 1 with 2+3

Table 3d

Comparison between newborns of metal load between subgroups according to the mothers ‘proximal exposure’. The metal load in newborns of different subgroups were compared with each other. Analysis was by multiple quantile regression on median values as linear function of the independent variable, ‘proximal exposure’. For ease in reading the data, the colour yellow indicates that the group in the column on the left in each panel has significantly higher load (p<0.05) than the one in the column on the right in the same panel. If vice versa, the line is enhanced in green colour. Panel C compares exposure subgroups 1+2 with 3; panel D compares exposure subgroups 1 with 2

Figure 3D shows that 76.3% (n=352) of women reported non-use of household and agricultural chemicals, whereas the 109 women classified as users reported using pesticides (n=82), herbicides (n=9) or other household chemicals (n=18). The chemicals were identified according to their function rather than their chemical composition and were studied only from the point of view of their potential contribution to the load of heavy metals in hair. Table 4 compares the median quantiles between user and non-user groups, showing no significant differences (p >0.3 for all analyses) among these subgroups in the load for all 23 metals. It is possible, then, to rule out the possibility that the use of these products contributed to the heavy metal contamination.

Table 4

Comparison of metal load between mothers according to their use of house–agricultural chemicals. Subgroups are not users-subgroup 1 (n=352) or users subgroup 2 (109), of any of the chemicals listed in figure 3D . Analysis was by multiple quantile regression on median values as linear function of the independent variable, ‘use of chemicals’. There was no significant difference for the load of all metal tested (p > 0,3) between the two groups

Discussion

Principal findings

The study is the first to document the number of civilian subjects in the population who were exposed in 2014 to military attacks in Gaza. The women in this cross sectional convenience sample experienced, in 32.4% of cases, a direct hit to their private dwellings and, in 63% of these cases, the attacks occurred while the women were inside their homes. The women’s recollections were supported by photographic documentation of the reported damage which verified its extent. Hits including those on neighbouring buildings (proximal exposure) were reported by almost 70% of the women.

The study examined the load of heavy metals in the hair of this cross sectional convenience sample  of women who were all pregnant during the war in Gaza in 2014. Hair samples were collected when the women delivered during the winter of 2014 and the spring of 2015. We found a positive correlation between a high load of toxicants (Ba, Al, V, Sr and Cr), a teratogen (W) and a carcinogen (As) in women’s hair and their proximity to military attacks in 2014.

We also found that there was a higher load in the entire cross sectional convenience sample of Gaza women in comparison with the hair samples from individuals in areas unaffected by war (RHS), regardless of their recent exposure to attacks. The high load was for heavy metals already detected as war remnants from previous attacks in 2009 (toxicants such as Al, Fe, Ba, Mn, Cr, Ni, Pb, Sr and V; teratogens such as U and W; and carcinogens such as As, Cd and Co).

There was, instead, no difference in the cross sectional convenience sample of Gaza women, regardless of their reported exposure to the attacks in 2014, in comparison with the metal load in the hair of adults of both sexes from the areas unaffected by war (RHS) for the concentration of microelements (Cu, Se and Mo) and a few other metals (Cs, Sn and Ti). Moreover, anthropogenic sources not arising from military attacks were excluded as confounders. These data confirm that the source of toxicant, teratogen and carcinogen contaminants was anthropogenic and associated with military attacks. We also showed that there was trans-placental passage for heavy metals from mothers to their newborns.

Limitations of the study

The lack of ‘never exposed to war’ controls within Gaza is a limitation of the study which cannot be overcome because there is no recent ‘time zero’ for anthropogenic, heavy metal weapons related contamination in Gaza since the first aerial attacks in 2004. Military attacks and restrictions on people’s movement have become a prominent structural factor in the past 10 years. All participants in this study were present and residentially stable during three military operations in 6 years (Cast lead in 2008–2009, Pillar of cinder in 2012 and Defensive edge in 2014) and were likely exposed during that time and continuously thereafter to heavy metal war remnants that were environmentally stable. Even so, as the results highlight, this study was able to identify the contribution of heavy metals from the military attacks in 2014, establishing a significantly higher metal load in the hair of the women proximally exposed to these attacks. The composite background of war related heavy metal contaminants in the entire cross sectional convenience sample reflects the local history of attacks and had no bearing on the conclusions when we compared women exposed to those not exposed in 2014.

A general limitation of this type of study is that the knowledge about the effects of in-body interactions resulting from intake of more than one heavy metal is limited. It is difficult to anticipate the extent of the long term risk for human health and, in particular, for future pregnancies or infant development. Although we reported preliminary findings about incidence of birth defects and prematurity outcomes for the whole cross sectional convenience sample, this study was not designed to identify potential correlations between negative phenotypes in the newborns and heavy metal load. The size of this sample, while adequate to identify the correlation between levels of heavy metals with environmental exposures, is not large enough to generate accurate values for the incidence of negative birth outcomes, which have relatively low frequency in the population, or to establish the association of a high load of heavy metals with those outcomes.

Strengths of the study

The use of a questionnaire specifically designed to include local issues and administered via face to face interviews with women by their midwives allowed for the evaluation of the potential impact on the load in heavy metals of women’s habits and exposures to sources of potential contamination other than military attacks. The questionnaire confirmed the rarity of other habits that could potentially lead to heavy metal exposure and to quantify as very low the geographical nearness to common anthropogenic sources of heavy metals in Gaza. The survey thus helped to verify and exclude a role for many potential confounders in the mothers’ heavy metal load. A further strength of the study was the inclusion, as an internal control, of the testing of the concentration of microelements and metals not associated with weaponry. These did not differ in concentrations from the RHS reference, for both the exposed and not exposed groups.

This is the first investigation involving a sample with a relatively large number of participants, enlisted without exclusions, and which also includes newborn babies, where the load of 23 heavy metals was measured in participants’ hair. The size of the cross sectional convenience sample allows subgroups to be used according to exposure to environmental factors, where even the subgroups were of suitable sizes for statistical analyses of the differences in median concentrations of contaminants. In addition, this is probably one of the first studies where women’s recollections, in this case regarding their exposure to military attacks, was verified objectively by photographic documentation.

Interpretation

Heavy metal contamination as a hidden legacy of military attacks in 2014

The contamination by heavy metals associated with the exposure to recent military attacks is a hidden factor that has, until now, never been fully documented, even though it constitutes a risk for the health of the population. The frequency of women’s exposure to the attacks in 2014 in a home setting was very high, about 70%, demonstrating the local’s saying that there was ‘no place to hide’ for the population of Gaza at that time. The women exposed to attacks had significantly higher loads of heavy metals than women not exposed. As only about a quarter of women were primipara, three-quarters of the women had children who were similarly exposed to the military attacks. The extent of the attacks on civilians in 2014 was thus likely to have produced heavy metal contamination in a wide sector of the population.

The fact that the highest contaminant loads was found in the women exposed to attacks were in those not exposed involved various toxicants, teratogens and carcinogens (Ba, Al, V, Sr, Cr, W and As) , could not be foreseen a priori and illustrates the complexity of the contamination. Yet, this finding is compatible with the reports by various sources25 27 about the use of many different types of ammunitions in this military operation.

We excluded some relevant sources as potential contributors to the heavy metal load detected in the cross sectional convenience sample. Chemicals used in agriculture and in the household did not impact on the metal loads when the entire sample was compared with references, or in proximally exposed women versus those not exposed. All other known factors considered are unlikely to be confounding. This is consistent with the known limited other anthropogenic sources of heavy metals in Gaza (like refineries and metal and chemical industries) and with the reduction in gasoline consumption for all uses, which was severely restricted due to the economic blockade in place since late 2012. Exposure to the 2014 attacks was the only factor that we could detect as contributing to the personal contamination of the participants by heavy metals.

Historical contamination by other war remnant heavy metals and their persistence in the environment

Besides the identification of a high load of heavy metals, which we specifically traced to exposure to the military attacks in 2014, we found that all the participants had levels significantly higher than controls from outside areas affected by war (RHS) of other war remnant heavy metals, such as U, Hg, Cd, Co, Fe, Ni, Pb, V, Mn, Cd and Co. Previous reports had shown their delivery in Gaza by weaponry; teratogens Hg and Cd and toxicants Pb and Fe were delivered by weapons in the 2008–2009 war.6 A high load of Hg was reported in newborns of mothers exposed at that time to bombing and to attacks with white phosphorus ammunitions.17–20 High loads of Al, Fe, Cd, Hg and U were detected in the hair of children tested 1 year after the 2008–2009 attacks (unpublished, Manduca).

The presence of concentrations higher than those found in the reference group (RHS) for heavy metals introduced previously by weaponry in Gaza in the entire cross sectional convenience sample of women that we have tested in 2015 confirms that these elements have persisted in the environment for years and suggests that the whole population may have been chronically intaking these metals.

Implications of chronic exposure to heavy metals and their in-body accumulation

Chronic exposure to heavy metals before the attacks in 2014 complicates the contribution of the attacks in 2014, and involves also diverse types of heavy metals. Yet, the heavy metals detected previously, as well those recently detected as deriving from the 2014 attacks, are known for their teratogenic, toxicant and carcinogenic properties. They are risk factors for non-communicable diseases and for reproductive health. On the one hand, the environmental stability of heavy metals makes it possible for their chronic intake from the environment by individuals. On the other hand, these metals, after intake into the body, are not excreted rapidly and accumulate in organs where they can continue to induce somatic epigenetic changes. If there is a threshold for their action , they can reach the critical concentrations capable of causing negative biological effects over time and can therefore affect health even at a time distant from that of intake, and pathological and phenotypic endpoints of their effects could  be delayed.

A variety of negative effects in time affecting the physiology of individuals, as well as an increase in non-communicable diseases, were reported in association with heavy metal exposure. Unfortunately, very little knowledge is available to date on the kinetics of the deposition of each heavy metal in the body and of its release from each specific organ of deposition, and these unanswered questions require further investigation. Among the various potential long term negative effects associated with heavy metal intake, we here only discuss  some of the concerns regarding reproductive health, for which some information in humans is available, as well as the role of teratogens of some of the heavy metal contaminants.

Exposure to attacks, heavy metal load and long term implications for reproductive health

We have mentioned the limits of this study in investigating the association of the metal load with phenotypes at birth. The present study is a first step in this direction. Nonetheless, the finding of an increase in birth defects and preterm births, compared with the incidence registered in 2011, is a concern.21 We can anticipate that our data on a widercross sectional convenience sample would register significant increases in birth defects and preterm births by the year 2016 (Manduca et al, submitted 2016). In other post-war settings, the association between exposure to attacks and negative reproductive outcomes was reported.18 In Gaza, by retrospective pedigree analysis,20 an increase in birth defects was reported starting in 2005, after the newest air delivered weapons were first used. Between 2006 and 2010, i.e. before and after the Cast lead operation in 2009, there was a significant increase in birth defect in infants,19 a rise which was continuing in 2011 (Manduca, unpublished). In Gaza was reported in 2011 association between the exposure to attacks and the contaminant load in newborn hair for specific teratogens, if the infant was born with a birth defect, or toxicants, if the infant was born preterm.22 There is thus some evidence of the potential negative impact on the outcomes of pregnancies due to the intake of heavy metals during wars.

There was also limited previous evidence that most of the heavy metals pass through the placental barrier, as we here documente, and accumulate in the hair during fetal life. However, the critical levels of heavy metals capable of negatively impacting on the human embryo and fetus are unknown, and little is known about the kinetics and modalities of trans-placental transfer of each individual heavy metal over time.

We have reported that newborn babies in this cross sectional convenience sample have lower heavy metal loads than mothers, but our present knowledge does not allow for a conclusion of whether this is reassuring for their future health as infants. Delayed effects were reported for in utero exposure to attacks among children as increased rates of chronic illnesses, developmental problems and growth impairments.7–10 12–16 Our data on newborn contamination are only an initial contribution to the needed research to investigate whether a high maternal load of weapons related metals and in utero exposure of the baby can predict physical, cognitive, emotional and psychological development in the infant. We are presently addressing this issue with a longitudinal assessment.

Other long term exposures to heavy metals that could harm the infant’s development may occur because of the transmission of heavy metals from the mother through breastfeeding.

A high load of some heavy metals can interfere with the mother’s future capability to bring a pregnancy to term, resulting in premature deliveries or negative effects on their next babies’ health.11 29 Mobilisation during pregnancy of metal previously accumulated in the mother’s body is likely to occur in pregnancies remote in time from their intake, and the return of stored heavy metals into the lymphatic and vascular circulation may have delayed effects on reproductive health.21 22 There is evidence that different heavy metals accumulate preferentially in different compartments of the body (eg, bone for lead, strontium and uranium; brain for mercury, cadmium and aluminium; kidney for cadmium, mercury, chrome, lead and plutonium), and that from these organs, the metals can be mobilised during subsequent pregnancies, via organ and tissue remodelling, and the development of the placenta, but the extent and details of these mobilisations are largely unknown.

Generalising the meaning of the study

The results of this study illustrate that in Gaza, a specific high load of heavy metals is associated for all the women in the cross sectional convenience sample with the exposure to military attacks in 2014, and widespread contamination for many heavy metals was associated with the use of weaponry in previous attacks. These evidences support the possibility of immediate and long term risks for health posed by weapons associated heavy metals and war remnants. They suggest that the risks posed by the war remnants are diffuse, may not be limited to reproductive health and may also affect the frequency of pathologies such as cancers, male sterility, immunity and endocrine disorders, thus interesting all sexes and ages, as the insurgence of these pathologies can be influenced by heavy metal exposure and is noticeable that they are reported by medical sources, on the rise in Gaza.8–11

The contamination documented in the cross sectional convenience sample by potential effectors of non-communicable diseases suggests new investigative lines in studying their ethology.

The relevance of the local context needs to be underlined as the it  was the first determinant that made our research possible. There are factors in the Gaza Strip that aided conducting human studies which would hardly be possible elsewhere: good medical structures, collaborative communities with stable composition and residences, and stagnating or restricted industrial production (although imposed by the siege and negative for the well-being of the people), independent documentation from international observers of timing of attacks and of kind of weapons used , and consulting help for environmental issues. The collaborative context also allowed the development of a questionnaire suitable for further surveillance of health.

To fully understand the implications for health of these findings we need future studies involving a variety of professional aptitudes. Research is needed on the fate of heavy metals in the human organism, particularly in relation to the release from the mother’s organ during remodelling in pregnancies. Additionally, researchers should explore the mechanistic aspects of the molecular action of each heavy metal, and longitudinal studies can identify and verify the endpoints of diseases over time. Currently, knowledge of all of these matters is limited. Given that the weaponry used in many of the current military operations in other countries is often manufactured by the same firms as the weaponry used in Gaza, our observations may be relevant in designing studies in other settings.

Conclusions

The long term effects on health due to contamination by remnants of war containing heavy metals needs consideration in association with other long term effects of war on populations, including the trauma of war and war related economic and structural damage.

Surveillance at birth, bio-monitoring and the study of outcomes of maternal and newborn health must be maintained as stable programmes, as they provide the most sensitive first sentinels for studies of the sequelae of anthropogenic contamination and can provide alerts about increases in damaging health conditions. They also provide solid information intrinsic to prospective data collection. Surveillance at birth is relatively easy to implement, and its outcome informs the general risks for the population and helps tailor public health interventions and preventive procedures.

Retrospective and longitudinal investigations should be undertaken to investigate the effects of heavy metal contamination on non-communicable diseases

Further research on the long term health damage caused by exposure to heavy metals is needed. Additionally, plans for family counselling, prevention and remediation should be developed. These efforts require the support of the scientific community and the involvement of an array of professionals from different disciplines. Our studies provide a background for others to be implemented in other settings where, in similar fashion as in Gaza, general health may be threatened by hidden remnants of war in the present and for the next generations.

In summary, in Gaza, contamination by heavy metals that persist in the environment and their continuing accumulation in individuals are ongoing risk factors for a variety of health outcomes in the aftermath of war.

Supplementary Material

Supplementary material 1

Supplementary Material

Supplementary Table 1

Acknowledgments

Fabrizio Minichilli, researcher, and Fabrizio Bianchi, Research Director Unit of Environmental Epidemiology, Institute of Clinical Physiology, Pisa, Italy, provided significant support in the statistical analysis.

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View Abstract

Footnotes

  • Contributors Contributorship statement. PM developed the questionnaire used to collect the data, directed the analytical work and elaboration of the data with statisticians, wrote the manuscript, and prepared the figures and reference list. SYD directed the organised field work in three hospitals, and the follow-up objective assessment of damages, and contributed to the definition of the work and review of the manuscript. NMAA directed the organised field work in one hospital and contributed to the definition of the work and review of the manuscript. SRQ partecipated in the planning of the study and review of the manuscript. R-LP launched the idea of the study and participated in the planning of the work and first draft and review of the manuscript. All contributed authors had access to and revised the data.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Yes.

  • Ethics approval The Palestinian Health Research Council and the Helsinki C’ommittee for Ethical Approval approved the study, and the Research Board of the Islamic University of Gaza, Palestinine, reviewed and accepted the research tools and procedures. The women provided written informed consent for their own and their newborns’ participation.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Extra data can be accessed via the Dryad data repository at http://datadryad.org/with the doi:10.5061/dryad.kr846.

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Zaytouna, la barca di donne per Gaza, è a Messina. Ripartirà per la Striscia assediata

Di Mohammad Hannoun. Venerdì, la nave Zaytouna diretta nella Striscia di Gaza assediata, è approdata al porto di Messina, dopo aver lasciato prima la Spagna e poi la Francia.

La barca fa parte di una piccola flotta di sole donne, attiviste internazionali, che faranno rotta verso la Striscia di Gaza sotto assedio da quasi dieci anni, per portare la solidarietà di tutto il mondo.

 

A riceverle al porto di Messina c’erano attivisti italiani e una delegazione dell’Associazione dei Palestinesi in Italia, che, insieme alle donne della flotilla, è stata ricevuta dal sindaco della città.

 

La barca-sorella, Amal-Hope, ha fatto ritorno a Barcellona per problemi tecnici.

 

Da varie parti si stati lanciati appelli per la protezione della flotilla, alla luce delle minacce israeliane.

 

La “Women’s Boat to Gaza” è un’iniziativa della coalizione per la Freedom Flotilla, composta da organizzazioni della società civile di una decina di Paesi.

 

Video: https://www.facebook.com/Benguennak/videos/1497668246917739/?pnref=story

 

 

 

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Sorgente: Zaytouna, la barca di donne per Gaza, è a Messina. Ripartirà per la Striscia assediata | Infopal

Women’s Boat To Gaza «Con preghiera di diffusione»

togaza

  • [*the English text follows the Italian text*]
  • [*Le texte français suit le texte anglais*]
  • [*البيان بالعربية في الاسفل*]

Messina, Sicilia, Italia

8 Marzo, 2016: «Con preghiera di diffusione».

La Freedom Flotilla Coalition, (FFC) ha scelto l’8 Marzo, la Giornata Internazionale delle Donne (IWD) per annunciare il lancio del loro progetto della Nave delle Donne per Gaza (Women’s Boat to Gaza, WBG).

La Women’s Boat to Gaza salperà a metà Settembre di quest’anno e prevede, durante il percorso, di ormeggiare in alcuni porti lungo il Mediterraneo e di arrivare a Gaza il 1 Ottobre.

La quarta missione della Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FF4) sarà condotta da un equipaggiamento composto di sole donne ed a bordo porterà donne illustri da ogni parte del mondo, allo scopo di sottolineare il contributo innegabile apportato dalle donne palestinesi al movimento di Resistenza.
Le donne palestinesi sono state centrali nella battaglia a Gaza, nella West Bank, all’interno della Green Line e nella diaspora.

“Uno degli scopi è quello di sottolineare questa lotta ed i devastanti effetti che ha sulle donne, spesso lasciate sole a passare al setaccio le macerie ed a prendersi cura delle proprie famiglie quando i loro mariti sono imprigionati o uccisi”

ha detto Wendy Goldsmith, della campagna Canadian Boat to Gaza.

“Nella Giornata Internazionale delle Donne e tutti i giorni noi supportiamo queste donne coraggiose e resilienti e invieremo la Women’s Boat to Gaza per far loro sapere che non sono sole e per porre fine all’embargo illegale di Gaza.”

La Women’s Boat to Gaza è supportata da rinomate organizzazioni femminili da tutto il mondo, tra le quali: The Women’s Affairs Center (Gaza), The Coalition of Women for Peace (Israel), Forum de Politica Feminista (Spain), Women’s Front (Norway), Coordinadora de Solidaridad Palestina (Mexico), CODEPINK Women for Peace (US) and Fédération des femmes du Québec (Canada).

La FFC ha anche il piacere di annunciare il lancio del sito della WBG.

Per favore, fateci visita su: http://www.womensboattogaza.org per avere maggiori dettagli e per seguire i progressi della WBG/FF4.

Per ulteriori informazioni:

Laura Arau +34 (6) 36 00 36 01 prensa@rumboagaza.org

Wendy Goldsmith +1 (519) 281-3978 mediawbg@gmail.com

I gruppi della Freedom Flotilla Coalition che partecipano alla campagna in the WBG sono:

  • Canadian Boat to Gaza
  • Freedom Flotilla Italy
  • International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza
  • IHH – Turkey
  • Palestine Solidarity Alliance-South Africa
  • Rumbo a Gaza-Spain
  • Ship to Gaza Norway

Altri partners internazionali della WBG sono:

  • Kia Ora Gaza – New Zealand
  • Miles of Smiles
  • US Boat to Gaza

trad. del Comunicato L. Pal – Invictapalestina

======================================

Messina, Sicily, Italy
March 8, 2016: For Immediate Release

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition* (FFC) has chosen March 8th, which marks International Women’s Day (IWD), to announce the launch of their Women’s Boat to Gaza (WBG) project.

The Women’s Boat to Gaza will set sail mid-September of this year and plans to dock at a number of Mediterranean ports along its route and arrive Gaza on October the 1st.

The FFC’s fourth mission (FF4) will be sailed by an all women crew and will carry aboard, notable women from all over the world in order to highlight the undeniable contributions which have been made by Palestinian women to the resistance movement. Palestinian women have been central to the struggle in Gaza, the West Bank, inside the Green Line and in the diaspora.

“One of our goals is to highlight this struggle and the devastating effects it has had on women, often left alone, sifting through rubble to take care of their families when their husbands are imprisoned or murdered” said Wendy Goldsmith, of the Canadian Boat to Gaza campaign. “On International Women’s Day, and on every day, we stand with these brave and resilient women, and will send the Women’s Boat to Gaza to let them know they are not alone and to end the illegal blockade of Gaza.”

WBG is endorsed by renowned women’s organizations from all over the world, among them: The Women’s Affairs Center (Gaza), The Coalition of Women for Peace (Israel), Forum de Politica Feminista (Spain), Women’s Front (Norway), Coordinadora de Solidaridad Palestina (Mexico), CODEPINK Women for Peace (US) and Fédération des femmes du Québec (Canada).

The FFC is also pleased to announce the launch of the WBG website. Please visit:
http://www.womensboattogaza.org
for more details and to follow the progress of WBG / FF4.

For more information:
Laura Arau +34 (6) 36 00 36 01 prensa@rumboagaza.org
Wendy Goldsmith +1 (519) 281-3978 mediawbg@gmail.com

* Freedom Flotilla Coalition campaigns participating in the WBG are:
Canadian Boat to Gaza
Freedom Flotilla Italy
International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza
IHH – Turkey
Palestine Solidarity Alliance-South Africa
Rumbo a Gaza-Spain
Ship to Gaza Norway
Ship to Gaza Sweden

* other WBG international partners:
Kia Ora Gaza – New Zealand
Miles of Smiles
US Boat to Gaza
—————–français————-

Le Bateau des femmes pour Gaza lèvera l’ancre en septembre 2016

Les femmes québécoises et palestiniennes demandent la fin du blocus et l’occupation

Montréal, le 7 mars 2016 – Des organisations québécoises et canadiennes se joignent à une coalition internationale pour mettre en œuvre le Bateau des femmes pour Gaza, dans l’objectif de mettre fin au blocus de la Bande de Gaza. Par l’organisation d’événements et fort.e.s du soutien de femmes, d’hommes, d’ONG, de groupes de la société civile et d’associations de femmes à travers le monde, le Bateau lèvera l’ancre en septembre 2016.

Le Bateau des femmes pour Gaza, ce sont des femmes du monde entier qui tiennent à rendre visible l’esprit de résistance indomptable des femmes palestiniennes, à leur manifester leur solidarité, à leur faire parvenir un message d’espoir jusque derrière les murs de leur prison à Gaza.

Le blocus doit être levé, mais même levé, Gaza continuera d’être un territoire occupé par Israël. En solidarité avec l’ensemble du peuple palestinien, il nous faut continuer la lutte pour  que les Palestiniennes et les Palestiniens, où qu’ils soient, recouvrent la totalité de leurs droits. Les groupes québécois exigent donc la fin de l’occupation, de la colonisation, le démantèlement du mur, le respect du droit de retour des réfugié.e.s (résolution 194 de l’ONU) et la reconnaissance du droit des citoyen.ne.s arabo-palestiniens d’Israël à une égalité totale.

À Gaza, les conditions de vie sont déplorables depuis l’imposition du blocus en 2007 et cela affecte en particulier les femmes : sans liberté, sans paix et sans ressources essentielles pour assurer une vie digne, Israël contrôlant tout. L’insécurité alimentaire y est de modérée à grave. Les multiples agressions militaires y ont détruit toutes les infrastructures essentielles à une vie en société : maisons, hôpitaux et cliniques, centrales électriques, usines de filtration d’eau, écoles et universités, entreprises, commerces, etc.

La vie des Palestinien.ne.s de Gaza est un enfer et un combat permanent, et pourtant, les femmes continuent de porter leur famille à bout de bras et refusent de disparaître. Elles inspirent espoir, force et détermination devant les innombrables injustices. Agir à leurs côtés est une question de dignité pour toutes et tous.

Contact:
Mme Lorraine Guay (lorraineguay@videotron.ca ou 514-278-1167) sera disponible pour répondre aux demandes d’entrevue des journalistes.

 

—————–العربية————-

ميسينا ، إيطاليا٨ آذار ٢٠١٦
للنشر الفوري
اختار تحالف اسطول الحرية تاريخ ٨ آذار ، الذي يصادف اليوم العالمي للمرأة ، للإعلان عن إطلاق مشروع ‘قارب النساء الى غزة’.
و سوف يبحر ‘قارب النساء الى غزة ‘ منتصف شهر أيلول من هذا العام . و سوف يقوم القارب بالتوقف في عدة موانئ بحرية في البحر الأبيض المتوسط في طريقه الى غزة ، على ان يصل هناك يوم ١ من تشرين الاول .
يقود مهمة اسطول الحرية الرابعة طاقم نسائي ، و سوف يكون على متن القارب نساء بارزات من مختلف أنحاء العالم بهدف تسليط الضوء على المساهمات المركزية للمرأة الفلسطينية في مقاومة الاحتلال ، في غزة والضفة الغربية، داخل الخط الأخضر و في الشتات.
ويحضى ‘قارب النساء الى غزة ‘ لتأييد مجموعة من المنظمات النسائية الرائدة في مختلف أنحاء العالم ، من بينهم : مركز شؤون المرأة (غزة)، تحالف النساء للسلام (اسرائيل )، منتدى دي بوليتيكا فمينيستا (اسبانيا)، الجبهة النسائية (النرويج)، تنسيقية التضامن مع فلسطين (المكسيك)، كودبينك نساء من اجل السلام ( الولايات المتحدة الامريكية) و اتحاد الكيبيك للنساء (كندا) .
ويسرنا الإعلان عن إطلاق موقع الواب لمشروع ‘قارب النساء الى غزة:
https://wbg.freedomflotilla.org/

:للمزيد من المعلومات الاتصال ب

العربية:  دنيا حمو
+519 878 2843
Dunia Hamou
dunia.hamou@gmail.com

لورا آراو :
01 36 00 36 (6)  34+
prensa@rumboagaza.org
ويندي غولدسميث
3978 -281 (519) 1+
mediawbg@gmail.com

*يتكون تحالف اسطول الحرية من :
– القارب الكندي الى غزة
-اسطول الحرية إيطاليا
-اللجنة الدولية لكسر حصار غزة
– IHH تركيا
-تحالف التضامن مع فلسطين،  جنوب افريقيا
-الطريق الى غزة، اسبانيا
-السفينة الى غزة ، نرويج
-السفينة الى غزة، السويد
*الشركاء الدوليون الآخرون:
– كيا اورا غزة ، نيوزيلندا
-أميال من الابتسامات
-قارب الولايات المتحدة الى غزة

Canadian Boat to Gaza:  www.canadaboatgaza.org email: canadaboatgaza@gmail.com

Dal 1967, 10 mila donne palestinesi imprigionate da Israele

Addameer. A partire dal 1967, circa 10.000 donne palestinesi sono state arrestate e detenute dalle forze d’occupazione.

Attualmente, sono 60 le donne palestinesi rinchiuse all’interno delle prigioni, tra cui 10 bambine e 3 in detenzione amministrativa. Alcune delle prigioniere sono in stato di gravidanza.

Tra le detenute c’è anche la parlamentare Khalida Jarrar, membro del Consiglio Legislativo Palestinese.

Nel 2015, le forze d’occupazione hanno arrestato 106 tra donne e giovani palestinesi, con un incremento del 70% rispetto alle statistiche del 2013 e del 60% rispetto al 2014.

Durante l’ottobre del 2015, un’ondata di repressione si è abbattuta sui territori occupati palestinesi: a fare da scenario, le ripetute violenze israeliane ed i frequenti incidenti presso la Moschea di Al-Aqsa, oltre al criminale atteggiamento dei coloni nei confronti della popolazione palestinese.

Le forze d’occupazione israeliane (IOF) hanno perpetrato una serie di violazioni di diritti umani contro le donne palestinesi, inclusi arresti arbitrari di massa, incursioni in abitazioni private, torture durante gli interrogatori.

Sorgente: Dal 1967, 10 mila donne palestinesi imprigionate da Israele | InfopalInfopal

Ex detenuta rivela le tragedie delle donne imprigionate nelle carceri israeliane

Gaza-PIC. Durante i periodi di maggiore freddo, ogni inverno, l’ex prigioniera Fatima Al-Zak ricorda dolorosamente le altre donne incarcerate nelle prigioni israeliane che patiscono durante la fredda stagione.Fatima ha provato quel gelo durante la sua prigionia durata più di 6 anni, che l’ha portata a soffrire di disturbi cronici.Condizioni difficiliL’ex detenuta Fatima ha raccontato al reporter dell’agenzia PIC dei suoi sei amari anni di prigionia, durante i quali ha provato le doglie e i dolori del parto, legata. E’ stata privata dei più basilari diritti umani.Ha spiegato che “la sofferenza delle prigioniere è assai difficile, specialmente se sono incinte o se hanno un bambino”.Ha aggiunto: “Quando provo freddo mi ritrovo a piangere per le condizioni degli uomini e delle donne imprigionati; ho provato su me stessa le sofferenze della prigionia in ogni dettaglio, l’agonia cresce con l’inverno, dove i detenuti non hanno nulla per tenersi al caldo”.Ha sottolineato che il freddo perenne in prigione le ha causato la neuropatia periferica, un disturbo nervoso che accresce il senso di dolore, specialmente in inverno.Fatima ha raccontato che le prigioniere non dispongono di coperte per tenersi al caldo, e viene impedito loro di avere un abbigliamento invernale, il che aumenta la sofferenza.Fatima ha anche notato che nonostante il freddo gelido delle prigioni israeliane, le donne condividono le loro coperte e i loro vestiti con le nuove detenute. Le condizioni di queste donne necessitano di interventi ad ogni livello, in quanto private di ogni basilare diritto umano.Senza vitaFatima ha proseguito a descrivere le sofferenze delle detenute: “Eravamo otto in una stanza minuscola, con un’unica piccola finestra con le sbarre; siamo state private della luce del sole, e non c’era riscaldamento; la stanza era come un frigorifero”.Le donne sono anche private di cibo sano e bevande calde.Ha aggiunto: “Il servizio di sicurezza interno (IPS) sfamava otto persone con soli due pomodori, ma le mie compagne mi offrivano la loro razione perché ero incinta, e mi serviva un’alimentazione adeguata”.Fatima ha risentito delle frequenti ispezioni dell’amministrazione penitenziaria, che entravano deliberatamente nella cella, specialmente nei momenti di maggior freddo, e questo aumentava le loro sofferenze.Dolore fisicoFatima ha raccontato che le detenute erano private delle cure mediche e che nessun ginecologo veniva a curarle, il che ha aggravato le loro condizioni di salute.Dopo la nascita non le veniva dato cibo adeguato, ma le sue compagne di cella offrivano ugualmente la loro parte in modo che potesse sfamare suo figlio, Yusuf.Fatima recitava il sacro Corano e pregava Dio per suo figlio quando era malato, perchè non c’erano pediatri né cure per i bambini, che venivano trattati dalla sorveglianza come se fossero prigionieri essi stessi.Fatima è stata rilasciata il 30 settembre 2009 insieme ad altre 20 detenute nell’accordo Shalit, all’epoca prigioniero della resistenza palestinese.

Traduzione di Marta Bettenzoli

Sorgente: Ex detenuta rivela le tragedie delle donne imprigionate nelle carceri israeliane | InfopalInfopal

8 Marzo: campagna “My body, my rights”

8 Marzo: campagna “My body, my rights”

In occasione dell’8 marzo, Giornata internazionale della donna, Amnesty International lancia un nuovo manifesto per chiedere ai governi di ogni parte del mondo di porre fine ai loro tentativi di controllare e criminalizzare le scelte e la sessualità delle donne e delle ragazze.

Il manifesto della campagna “My Body My Rights” chiede agli stati di rimuovere le barriere all’accesso ai servizi, alle informazioni e alla formazione relativamente alla salute sessuale e riproduttiva e di porre fine alle leggi e alle pratiche che penalizzano tale accesso.

Il manifesto descrive i diritti che tutte le donne e le ragazze dovrebbero avere sul loro corpo. Nonostante un importante accordo sottoscritto due decenni fa a Pechino in materia di uguaglianza di genere, le donne e le ragazze continuano a venire private dei loro diritti sessuali e riproduttivi.

“Sebbene negli ultimi 20 anni decine di stati abbiano messo fuorilegge i matrimoni forzati e le mutilazioni dei genitali femminili, queste pratiche restano diffuse” – ha dichiarato Jessie Macneil-Brown, responsabile della campagna “My Body My Rights” di Amnesty International.

“Le gravi violazioni dei diritti sessuali e riproduttivi delle donne e delle ragazze costituiscono un grande problema contemporaneo. In alcuni paesi, l’aborto è vietato del tutto e le donne sono imprigionate per il mero sospetto di aver abortito volontariamente o aver avuto un aborto spontaneo”.

Il manifesto di Amnesty International chiede agli stati di:
– abolire le leggi che criminalizzano l’esercizio dei diritti sessuali e riproduttivi;
– rilasciare tutte le donne e le ragazze imprigionate per aver voluto abortire o aver avuto un aborto spontaneo, così come coloro che le hanno aiutate;
– garantire l’accesso ai servizi per la salute sessuale e riproduttiva;
– garantire l’accesso a programmi educativi relativi alla sessualità esenti da pregiudizio e basati su prove oggettive, all’interno e all’esterno della scuola;
– prevenire e reprimere tutte le forme di violenza di genere, specialmente contro le donne e le ragazze;
– assicurare che tutte le persone abbiano la parola sulle leggi e sulle politiche che riguardano il loro corpo e la loro vita;
– assicurare che tutte le persone abbiano accesso a rimedi giudiziari efficaci e affrontabili dal punto di vista economico quando i loro diritti sessuali e riproduttivi siano stati violati.

“Gli stati e altri soggetti devono porre fine ai loro tentativi di controllare le decisioni delle donne e delle ragazze. Quello di prendere decisioni informate sulla salute sessuale e riproduttiva è un diritto umano che dev’essere garantito anziché minacciato e criminalizzato” – ha sottolineato Jessie Macneil-Brown.

“Questo manifesto chiede a ogni persona di esprimere solidarietà pretendendo che questi diritti siano protetti” – ha concluso Jessie Macneil-Brown.

thanks to: pressenza

“Domani non ci sarà scuola, abbiamo ucciso tutti i bambini”

Israele nel deserto. Di Antonio Vigilante.

Non sempre coloro che prevalgono sono i vincitori effettivi di una guerra. Il governo israeliano potrà continuare a sterminare la popolazione civile palestinese, con il tacito assenso della comunità nazionale. Pagherà un prezzo molto elevato: un imbarbarimento del suo popolo del quale i cori da stadio di manifestanti che esultano perché “domani non ci sarà scuola, abbiamo ucciso tutti i bambini” sono già un indizio tangibile. Sarà quella demonizzazione biblica dell’altro che nella storia occidentale ha agito al di fuori dell’ebraismo, e di cui gli stessi ebrei sono stati vittime. Sarà la crisi religiosa che sempre precede e causa la crisi e la decadenza generale (civile, morale, politica) di un popolo. Che lo conduce nuovamente be-midbar, nel deserto. 

Con ogni probabilità, il passo più terribile della Bibbia – una raccolta di testi in cui non mancano i passi terribili: violenti, atroci, osceni – è quello del libro dei Numeri (in ebraico Be-Midbar, “Nel deserto”) in cui Mosè comanda di sterminare donne e bambini. Consideriamo il contesto. Il popolo del Signore è accampato nel deserto, in una località chiamata Sittim. Qui gli ebrei si mettono a “trescare con le figlie di Moab”, partecipando ai loro sacrifici religiosi ed adorando i loro déi. Il Signore si arrabbia ed ordina a Mosè di far impiccare tutti i capi del popolo, per placare la sua ira. E’ singolare che i cristiani, che lamentano (ed a ragione) le persecuzioni cui in diverse parti del mondo sono sottoposti coloro che si convertono al cristianesimo, ritengano sacro un libro in cui si parla di impiccare chi pratica la libertà religiosa – perché di questo si tratta.

Ma procediamo. Un certo Fineas, sommo sacerdote, scopre che un ebreo ha portato nella sua tenda una moabita, e non ci pensa due volte: prende una lancia e li uccide. Il Signore è talmente contento per il suo gesto – l’assassinio di due innocenti – che fa cessare la sua ira su Israele. Non prima, però, di aver massacrato 24.000 persone (Numeri, 25, 1-9). L’edizione che sto citando, quella curata da Bernardo Boschi per le Edizioni Paoline, spiega in nota che questo Fineas “testimonia la radicale ed esemplare fedeltà della sua classe allo Jahvismo nello spirito della Tradizione Sacerdotale”. Un gran brav’uomo, insomma.

La storia non finisce qui. Gli ebrei hanno tradito Dio, e la carneficina non è sufficiente. Occorre la vendetta. Di cosa siano colpevoli i poveri moabiti non è ben chiaro: usando lo stesso criterio, oggi, i seguaci di qualsiasi religione si potrebbero ritenere in diritto di muover guerra e massacrare chiunque faccia proselitismo presso di loro, a cominciare dai cristiani. Mosè manda contro i madianiti un esercito di dodicimila uomini, che massacrano tutti i maschi, incendiano le città, depredano tutto. Ma i capi dell’esercito risparmiano i bambini e le donne. Per umanità, immagino. Mosè tuttavia si arrabbia: “Avete lasciato in vita tutte le femmine? Furono esse, per suggerimento di Balaam, a stornare dal Signore i figli d’Israele nel fatto di Peor e ad attirare il flagello sulla comunità del Signore. Ora uccidete ogni maschio fra i bambini e ogni donna che si sia unita con un uomo. Tutte le ragazze che non si sono unite con un uomo le lascerete vivere per voi” (Numeri, 31, 15-17).

Tralasciamo quest’ultima notazione, anch’essa terribile (è facile immaginare la fine delle ragazze vergini), e chiediamoci: di cosa sono davvero colpevoli le donne? Cosa hanno fatto, per essere uccise? Hanno seguito la loro religione, esattamente come gli ebrei seguono la loro. Il massacro di queste donne, a battaglia vinta, è un semplice crimine di guerra. Ma soprattutto la domanda è: cosa hanno fatto i bambini? Cosa? Perché massacrarli? Non esiste nessuna ragione. Se il massacro delle donne è un crimine di guerra, il massacro dei bambini è un crimine di guerra al quadrato.

Mi è tornato in mente questo passo guardando un video raccapricciante,disponibile su Internet, nel sito di OummaTv, la televisione dei musulmani francesi. Il video riprende una manifestazione di ebrei, felici per gli attacchi contro i palestinesi. Cantano cori da stadio. A un certo punto intonano: “Il n’y aura pas d’école demain, on a tué tous les enfants”. Non ci sarà scuola domani, abbiamo ucciso tutti i bambini. 

E’, questa, la cosa più spaventosa che ho visto e sentito da gran tempo.Sono sicuro che non sono molti gli ebrei felici per il massacro dei bambini palestinesi, e tuttavia il fatto che una simile barbarie sia possibile, sia pure presso pochi esaltati, dà da pensare. Chi ha letto la Bibbia, sa che c’è un filo rosso che unisce questi cori alla storia sacra di un popolo che ha dovuto strappare con la violenza ad altri popoli la terra promessa dal suo Dio.

Prima che mi si accusi di antisemitismo (una accusa sempre pronta contro chiunque metta in discussione le politiche sioniste), aggiungo che il massacro palestinese mi ha fatto venire in mente un altro testo che appartiene alla tradizione dell’ebraismo. Si tratta di un libretto di Chaim Nachman Bialik, lo scrittore ucraino considerato il poeta nazionale di Israele. Nel 1903 avviene un terribile pogrom a Kishinev, attuale capitale della Moldavia. In due giorni vengono uccisi quarantanove ebrei, mentre cinquecento sono i feriti. Di fronte ad una tale devastazione si resta senza parole. Ma Bialik è un poeta, un grande poeta. E le parole le trova. Nella città del massacro, il poemetto scritto per raccontare, per piangere, per denunciare il pogrom, è poesia pura, vibrante, che tocca le corde più intime e commuove profondamente. Comincia con queste parole, Bialik: “Un cuore di ferro e acciaio, freddo, duro e muto, / batte in te, vieni uomo! / entra nella città del massacro, devi vedere con i tuoi occhi, / toccare con le tue mani…” (trad. R. A. Cimmino). E nel resto del poemetto il lettore in effetti vede con i suoi occhi e tocca con le sue mani l’orrore.

I versi più intensi dell’opera sono quelli nei quali Bialik descrive la Shekinah, “nera, stanca, disperata”, che piange in silenzio. Quella di Shekinah è una delle concezioni più affascinanti della teologia e della mistica ebraica. Il termine deriva dal verbo shakan, abitare: indica dunque la presenza, la dimora di Dio sulla terra. Una manifestazione di Dio che ha i caratteri del mistero e della gloria, nella tradizione. Ma con Bialik avviene un cambiamento importante. La Shekinah, la gloriosa manifestazione di Dio, ora si limita a stare accanto alle vittime. Subisce la loro stessa sofferenza, accetta su di sé il dolore degli afflitti.

Il pensiero va anche a quella pagina memorabile de La Notte in cui Elie Wiesel racconta di un bambino impiccato ad Auschwitz. “Dov’è Dio?”, chiede qualcuno. E Wiesel scrive: “E io sentivo in me una voce che gli rispondeva: – Dov’è? Eccolo: è appeso lì, a quella forca”.

C’è una straordinaria rivoluzione teologica in queste parole. Dio non è più nei cieli, non si manifesta più nella distanza e nella potenza, ma sta accanto a chi soffre. Chi soffre in questo caso è il popolo eletto, ma il passo verso un Dio che sta con chiunque soffra è breve. E’ una intuizione – questa di un Dio dei poveri, dei deboli, degli afflitti – che si affaccia in diverse tradizioni religiose: dal cristianesimo (e non a caso alcuni cabalisti troveranno affinità tra la Shekinah e il Cristo) allo hinduismo, con l’idea del Daridranarayana, “Dio nei poveri”, che si trova in Vivekananda in Gandhi. La considero la più alta concezione religiosa dopo quella del Dio-non Dio di Meister Eckhart.

Le parole di Bialik si potrebbero leggere, in questi giorni, come un canto che dice la tragedia delle migliaia di palestinesi massacrati dall’esercito israeliano. Un ebreo ha trovato le parole per dire l’indicibile, ed ora quelle parole non gli appartengono più, come non appartengono più al solo popolo ebraico. Rappresentano il contributo del popolo ebraico alla comune umanità: dire la tragedia, raccontare l’orrore, pensare un Dio che sta con la vittima. La concezione della Shekinah, liberata da ogni nazionalismo, può mettere gli ebrei in condizione di avvertire l’umanità offesa dalle bombe, di percepire il Divino negli occhi delle vittime. Di superare quella etnolatria, quella esaltazione violenta dell’identità nazionale che esige lo sterminio del nemico, che si esprime in quel passo del libro dei Numeri. 

In una guerra non sempre colui che ha vinto è il vincitore effettivo. Le conseguenze di una vittoria possono essere devastanti. Credo che sia questo il rischio attuale per Israele. Potrà continuare a sterminare la popolazione civile palestinese, con il tacito assenso della comunità nazionale. Ma il prezzo da pagare sarà un imbarbarimento di cui i cori di cui ho detto sono un indizio tangibile e preoccupante, insieme ad altri. A prevalere sarà il Dio degli Eserciti, violento e capriccioso, che esige lo sterminio di donne e bambini. Sarà quella demonizzazione biblica dell’altro che nella storia occidentale ha agito al di fuori dell’ebraismo, e di cui gli stessi ebrei sono stati vittime. Sarà quella crisi religiosa che sempre precede e causa la crisi e la decadenza generale (civile, morale, politica) di un popolo. Che lo conduce nuovamente be-midbar, nel deserto.

_________________________

 Fonte: Spectator Novus il blog di Antonio Vigilante . 18 Agosto.  Questo articolo è uscito come editoriale per Stato Quotidiano.

thanks to: Infopal.

L’Italia alleva terroristi

di Luca Fiore

Sarà il caldo, sarà che d’estate mancano la maggior parte delle notizie di politica che d’inverno riempiono tg e giornali. Ma sembra proprio che in questi giorni ci sia stata un’impennata di femminicidi e di omicidi in ambito familiare.

Per lo più i media li trattano come mera cronaca, senza indagare veramente le cause di quelli che vengono descritti come improvvisi raptus e il contesto di una violenza contro le donne che sembra sempre più diffusa. Eppure ci sarebbe molto da indagare: da dove vengono le armi che certi personaggi hanno a portata di mano? Perché gente più volte denunciata per percosse, minacce e stalking gode della più completa libertà di continuare aggressioni sempre più violente nei confronti delle proprie mogli, fidanzate o ex senza che nessuno dei tanti corpi di Polizia intervenga? Perché in questo paese non esiste nessuna rete di prevenzione e assistenza di tipo psicologico che permetta di evitare che persone che, se correttamente seguite potrebbero gestite i propri problemi, si trasformino in efferati assassini?

Domande da un milione di euro a parte, uno degli episodi più efferati degli ultimi giorni ha attirato più di altri la nostra attenzione. Quello che ha avuto per protagonista Federico Leonelli, 35enne, che in una villa dell’Eur (quartiere ‘bene’ di Roma) ha ucciso e decapitato a colpi di mannaia la giovane colf ucraina Oksana Martseniuk. La polizia lo ha abbattuto a colpi di arma da fuoco, affermando che proprio non c’era altro modo per fermare la furia omicida del giovane vestito con pantaloni mimetici e mascherina sul viso. La Questura, con una nota, è intervenuta sulla vicenda precisando che gli agenti intervenuti sulla scena del delitto sono stati “costretti ad esplodere colpi d’arma da fuoco nei confronti del 35enne per difendersi dai fendenti a loro indirizzati”. Delle versioni della polizia si dovrebbe sempre dubitare vista la completa mancanza di trasparenza da parte degli apparati di sicurezza e il moltiplicarsi di casi di cosiddetta ‘malapolizia’. Di far luce su quanto è veramente accaduto all’Eur si incaricheranno, speriamo, la perizia balistica e le autopsie.

Anche sul movente non c’è molta chiarezza: un tentativo di stupro sfociato in omicidio, un raptus derivante dalla profonda depressione di cui si dice soffrisse Leonelli dopo la morte della fidanzata ormai due anni fa, oppure una fissazione per i giochi di guerra e i coltelli in particolare.

Fatto sta che dalle indagini coordinate dalla Procura di Roma è emerso ora che l’uomo appassionato per le lame – il che aveva anche originato discussioni con la colf poi vittima dell’omicidio – aveva una vera e propria ossessione per quanto sta accadendo a Gaza. Nessuna empatia per le vittime o sensibilità per i palestinesi aggrediti. Al contrario, una voglia irrefrenabile di ‘andare a combattere’ per e con Israele. Secondo quanto è emerso Leonelli aveva tentato più volte di ottenere il visto per andare a combattere contro i palestinesi insieme all’esercito israeliano. Richiesta frustrata però – pare – dalle autorità di Tel Aviv per ben due volte, il che avrebbe innescato la follia omicida del figlio di un alto ufficiale dell’esercito. Insieme forse al timore di essere mandato via da quella villa di Via Birmania che lo ospitava da due mesi dopo la scoperta del piccolo arsenale di coltelli che aveva acquistato, insieme ad abbigliamento di tipo militare, anche su un sito Internet israeliano. Racconta in alcune interviste pubblicate da quotidiani romani Giovanni Cialella, il proprietario della villa di Via Birmania: “Quando l’ho conosciuto era totalmente ateo, abbiamo parlato più volte di Dio ma diceva di non credere in niente, poi diceva di aver scoperto di essere di origini ebraiche, ha cominciato a studiare la storia, durante la notte sparava a tutto volume filmati sulla religione, parlavano alcuni rabbini, diceva di conoscerne uno anche a Roma, e si era convinto a voler andare in Israele per arruolarsi nell’esercito e combattere contro i palestinesi che lanciavano razzi contro Israele, aveva anche contattato il consolato”.
Nessuna morale dalla vicenda e nessuna pretesa di generalizzare. Solo molta, molta inquietudine…

 

thanks to: contropiano.org

forumpalestina

Una prospettiva di genere sull’attacco israeliano in corso a Gaza

“La fine del Sionismo è una questione femminista”, scrive Nada Elia, attivista di “INCITE!”, puntando l’attenzione sull’impatto della violenza di Stato e della guerra condotta da Israele contro Gaza sulle donne e sulle persone che sfidano i confini di genere: “La violenza non è un paio di anfibi che si possano lasciare sulla soglia di casa”.

Mentre l’attacco israeliano sulla popolazione palestinese assediata a Gaza entra nella terza settimana, continuiamo ad ascoltare notizie sul numero “sproporzionatamente alto” di donne e bambini vittime dei bombardamenti. Questa espressione induce a chiedersi: qual è il numero proporzionato di donne e bambini uccisi in un genocidio? Già Maya Mikdashi, su Jadalyiya, si è posta questa domanda nel suo editoriale intitolato “Gli uomini palestinesi posso essere vittime?”: se la maggior parte delle vittime fossero uomini adulti, i crimini israeliani sarebbero forse meno gravi?

E’ necessaria un’analisi di genere della violenza: un’analisi che riconosca che non ci sono “proporzioni” accettabili, perché tutte le morti sono da piangere, e allo stesso tempo fornisca gli strumenti per una comprensione delle manifestazioni della violenza da un altro punto di vista.

Stupri invocati

Il network femminista INCITE! Donne e Persone Trans di Colore contro la Violenza ha sempre ritenuto che la violenza di Stato sia orientata tanto secondo l’appartenenza etnica quanto secondo quella di genere.

Il Sionismo ne è un esempio importante; è una ideologia razzista, basata sul privilegiare un gruppo etno-religioso rispetto agli altri.

Quando uno Stato guarda un’intera popolazione – una popolazione indigena, espropriata, senza diritti e sotto occupazione – come una “minaccia demografica”, adotta una visione che è essenzialmente razzista e sessista.

Il controllo razzista della popolazione ricorre specificamente alla violenza contro le donne. Pertanto non è sorprendente che Mordechai Kedar, un ex ufficiale dell’intelligence militare israeliana diventato accademico, abbia, di fatto, suggerito che “stuprare le donne e le madri dei combattenti palestinesi” potrebbe essere un deterrente per gli attacchi di Hamas.

Allo stesso modo, la deputata israeliana Ayelet Shaked non ha cercato di presentare l’assassinio di bambini palestinesi e delle loro madri come un evento sfortunato, un “danno collaterale sproporzionato” – ma lo ha apertamente invocato, affermando che le madri palestinesi debbano essere uccise perché danno alla luce “piccoli serpenti”.

Questo commento riflette l’atteggiamento israeliano verso le infrastrutture palestinesi, volto a rendere possibile un alto numero di aborti spontanei attraverso il blocco di risorse fondamentali come l’acqua e i rifornimenti medici, costringere donne in gravidanza a lunghe attese ai check point militari sulla strada per l’ospedale e, più in generale, creare condizioni inumane e invivibili per i palestinesi.

Quest’ultima ondata di attacchi assassini sui palestinesi della Striscia di Gaza, non solo ha causato la morte di centinaia di palestinesi ma ha anche aumentato il numero degli aborti spontanei, dei parti prematuri e dei nati morti. 

In passato, le donne Israelo-etiopi, per la maggior parte ebree, sono state soggette a iniezioni contraccettive obbligatorie senza il loro consenso.

Porre fine al Sionismo, dunque, è una questione femminista e di giustizia riproduttiva.

Liberare le donne?  

Ovviamente, la violenza sessista come strumento della colonizzazione non è una strategia nuova; colonialismo, patriarcato e ipocrisia di solito camminano a braccetto.

La Francia del XIX Secolo proclamava di voler liberare le donne algerine anche mentre bruciava interi villaggi e città. Il noto uomo bianco colonialista ha cercato di farci credere che stava agendo in base all’impulso altruista di liberare le donne di colore dagli uomini, anche mentre la potenza coloniale di turno impoveriva interi paesi.

Le donne algerine non stavano certamente meglio grazie al colonialismo francese, anzi, le loro condizioni sono peggiorate nettamente.

Allo stesso modo e più di recente, l’amministrazione di George W. Bush si è autoconcessa una pacca sulla spalla per aver “liberato” le donne afgane dai Talebani.

Eppure abbiamo visto, lungo tutta la storia – e non solo in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Algeria o Palestina – che le guerre non hanno mai liberato le donne e le persone di colore che sfidano i confini di genere.

Oggi, Israele ha sviluppano un nuovo marchio di questa ipocrisia, affermando di essere “più civile dei palestinesi” perché sarebbe un paese più “gay-friendly”. Questo è pinkwashing: un tentativo israeliano di distrarre l’attenzione dalle violazioni dei diritti umani in corso puntando sul suo presunto migliore riconoscimento dei diritti delle persone gay.

Ma, di nuovo, questo trattamento è razzista.

Qualsiasi cittadino ebreo di Israele può e deve servire nelle forze di occupazione israeliane, ma esse stesse sono forze impegnate nel genocidio dei palestinesi.

Un esercito in cui i soldati assassini siano in parte gay è forse più etico? Fermatevi a pensare chi sia a perpetrare la violenza più grande.

Chi sta negando alle donne palestinesi, ai bambini, ai gay, alle lesbiche, alle persone trans e agli uomini etero i diritti più elementari – libertà di movimento, sicurezza, riparo, cibo, una casa, una vita? Bisogna riconoscere che la parte più colpevole è quella “civile” di Israele, non la “eteropatriarchia” palestinese.

La guerra – il militarismo – sono attività ipermaschiliste che glorificano e ricompensano la violenza, compresa quella sessista, e un soldato o una soldatessa addestrati alla violenza non possono metterla da parte quando tornano a casa.

Tutta la società israeliana è addestrata alla violenza. E la violenza non è un anfibio da combattimento che si possa lasciare sulla soglia di casa; la violenza diventa una seconda natura (a meno che non sia la prima) e l’intera comunità che si impegna nella guerra è una comunità più violenta, non solo sul fronte. 

Questo è ciò che vediamo oggi, così come lo abbiamo visto ogni volta che Israele ha intensificato l’attacco sui palestinesi.

Per i palestinesi, non ci sono “fronti”, o “zone di guerra”. Tutta la Palestina storica è un fronte, visto che ci sono gruppi di israeliani violenti che scendono in strada in spedizioni punitive.

Questa idea è sempre stata al centro dell’analisi di INCITE!. Ci rendiamo conto che in situazioni di colonialismo, le donne indigene, le persone trans e quelle che sfidano i confini di genere sopportano il peso di un innesto tra razzismo e sessimo.

Ci stiamo impegnando in una battaglia comune, dall’India al mondo arabo, dall’Asia sud occidentale all’Africa e alle Americhe per la dignità e la sovranità dei popoli indigeni.

Per questo INCITE! nel 2010 ha appoggiato la richiesta palestinese di Boicottaggio, Disinvestimento e Sanzioni (BDS) contro Israele e per questo è ancora impegnata alla lotta dal basso contro la violenza di Stato contro l’intero popolo palestinese.

Nada Elia *

* era nel Collettivo di INCITE! quando l’organizzazione ha aderito alla campagna BDS ed è oggi nel collettivo organizzatore della Campagna USA per il Boicottaggio Accademico e Culturale di Israele (USACBI).

Fonte: Electronic Intifada
Traduzione a cura di Enzo Mangini


Pubblichiamo la traduzione di un articolo scritto il 23 luglio da David Sheen su http://muftah.org, che rende bene l’idea e fa chiarezza su come la guerra di Israele contro la Palestina – e in particolar modo su Gaza – si faccia largo su più fronti, compreso quello del corpo delle donne. Un’attitudine spregevole che altro non fa che rivelare aspetti squallidi e cruenti dell’ennesima operazione di guerra intrapresa da parte di Israele.

Al cominciare della terza settimana dell’ultimo assalto di Israele a Gaza, la forza distruttiva scatenata sulla Striscia ha preso un tributo enorme, con oltre 650 palestinesi morti, più di 4.200 feriti – per lo più civili – e centinaia di migliaia di senzatetto. Come vede da Gaza, il livello di incitamento razzista anti-palestinese da parte dei maggiori esponenti politici, religiosi e culturali israeliani raggiunge ogni giorno nuovi picchi, ed ha assunto anche un tono misogino.

PROMUOVERE LO STUPRO DI GAZA E DELLE DONNE GAZAWI

Il 21 luglio i media israeliani hanno riferito che Dov Lior, rabbino capo dell’insediamento Kiryat Arba in Cisgiordania, ha emesso un editto religioso sulle regole di ingaggio in tempo di guerra, che ha poi inviato al ministro della Difesa del Paese. L’editto dichiara che secondo la legge religiosa ebraica, è lecito bombardare innocenti civili palestinesi e “sterminare il nemico.”

Mentre Lior è tenuto in grande considerazione, è anche associato con il sionismo religioso di “ala conservatrice.” Al contrario, David Stav, rabbino capo della città di Shoham è considerato un leader di una corrente “liberale” del sionismo. In un editoriale pubblicato lo stesso giorno dell’editto precedente, Stav definiva l’assalto a Gaza come una guerra santa, comandata dalla Torah stessa e che quindi deve essere spietata.

Mentre queste importanti figure religiose urlano in favore di una guerra di sterminio, alcuni israeliani laici hanno suggerito di effettuare attacchi di natura più perversa.

Il giorno dopo queste dichiarazioni di Lior e Stav, è emersa la notizia che il Comune di Or Yehuda, situato nella regione costiera di Israele, ha stampato e affisso uno striscione di sostegno ai soldati israeliani. La scelta dei termini dello slogan suggerisce lo stupro delle donne palestinesi. Il testo dello striscione recita: “Soldati israeliani, gli abitanti di Or Yehuda sono con voi! Sbattete la loro madre e tornate a casa sicuri dalle vostre madri.”

Questa traduzione inglese (italiano, Trad.) del ebraico “Gansu” come “Sbattere” (in inglese “pound”, sinonimo di “bang”) significa letteralmente battere, ma ha anche un significato colloquiale che connota la penetrazione sessuale. Nell’originale ebraico, il doppio senso è invertito: “Gansu B” ha il significato colloquiale di attaccare fisicamente qualcuno, ma letteralmente significa entrare, sessualmente o in altro modo – questa connotazione sessuale si trova in ebraico nelle espressioni linguistiche dei blog sessuali.

La frase “la madre”, “ima shelahem” in ebraico, ha anche il significato colloquiale di “con grande intensità.” Questa espressione si è diffusa proprio perché, per molte persone, ammettere che la loro madre sia stata aggredita è più doloroso che ricevere un colpo diretto alla propria persona. Nel contesto dello striscione della città, il linguaggio della violenza sessuale è preso in prestito per articolare la sottomissione spietata della popolazione palestinese di Gaza.

Chiaramente l’intento del Consiglio della città di Or Yehuda è stato quello di mostrare il sostegno per l’esercito israeliano con quello che ritenevano essere un intelligente gioco di parole. Scegliendo l’espressione volgare “Gansu ba-ima shelahem” – che significa “batterli con grande intensità” e anche “entrare nel loro madre”- suggeriva sia un’incoraggiamento alla violenza verso i palestinesi ed anche un riferimento alla cultura dello stupro, che è molto diffusa in Israele.

L’affissione dello striscione in Or Yehuda è venuto pochi giorni dopo la comparsa di un’immagine composita che suggerisce violenza sessuale nei confronti di Gaza, che è stata ampiamente condivisa da civili israeliani sulla popolare app WhatsApp.

Nell’immagine, una donna con l’etichetta “Gaza”, che indossa un vestito islamico conservatore dalla vita in su e quasi nulla dalla vita in giù, ritratta in posa ammiccante e con uno sguardo allusivo verso l’osservatore. Il testo ebraico che accompagna l’immagine recita: “Bibi, finisci dentro questa volta! Firmato, i cittadini in favore dell’assalto da terra.” Di nuovo, un doppio senso è stato utilizzato per promuovere la guerra, con riferimento stupro. In ebraico, il significato colloquiale di “finire” è eiaculare.

Se nel manifesto di Or Yehuda lo stupro è solamente accennato, e l’immagine WhatsApp gioca allusivamente con esso, un eminente accademico israeliano ha clamorosamente lanciato l’idea di usare violenza sessuale contro le palestinese proprio all’inizio di queste ostilità.

Il 1° luglio, subito dopo il ritrovamento dei corpi dei tre ragazzi israeliani dispersi in Cisgiordania, il docente dell’Università di Bar Ilan, Mordechai Kedar, ha parlato alla radio israeliana in merito alla possibilità di violentare le donne palestinesi al fine di scoraggiare il “terrorismo”, dicendo che solo la consapevolezza che Israele potrebbe inviare agenti di violentare la madre o la sorella di un militante palestinese, come punizione per i suoi crimini, lo potrebbe dissuadere dal compiere tali azioni.

Nessuno di questi ultimi riferimenti allo stupro dovrebbe sorprendere dopo che l’esercito israeliano ha promosso Eyal Qarim al secondo cappellano più potente nei suoi ranghi, anni dopo la sua decisione di stabilire che lo stupro sulle palestinesi era ammissibile in tempo di guerra. Solo dopo che il famoso blogger israeliano Yossi Gurvitz aveva esposto pubblicamente la ripugnante sentenza del marzo 2012, il rabbino è stato costretto a tornare indietro sul suo vile verdetto.

“SLUT-SHAMING” (LA COLPEVOLIZZAZIONE DELLA VITTIMA, N.D.T): DONNE EBREE ISRAELIANE IN SUPPORTO DELLA PALESTINA

Nell’ultimo mese, le donne palestinesi non sono state le uniche ad essere minacciate di violenza sessuale da figure pubbliche di Israele. Lo stesso giorno in cui Kedar ha rilasciato l’odiosa intervista, Noam Perel, Rabbino leader mondiale del Bnei Akiva (il più grande gruppo di giovani ebrei religiosi nel mondo), si rese autore di un post di Facebook in cui chiedeva l’assassinio di massa dei palestinesi e la raccolta dei loro prepuzi come trofei. Perel subito la censura del sito per i suoi commenti orribili.

Come nella maggior parte delle società scioviniste, sono le donne che portano il peso della violenza sessuale maschile, e le donne ebree israeliane non sono state risparmiate. Quelle donne che professano pubblicamente supporto per i palestinesi, richiedenti asilo africani, o di qualsiasi altro gruppo non-ebrei in Israele sono spesso vittima di “slut-Shaming” e costantemente bersaglio degli ultra-nazionalisti con minacce di varie forme di violenza sessuale, tra cui lo stupro di gruppo.

La violenza sessuale contro le donne ebree-israeliane è perpetrata non solo da scheggie impazzite della destra. Oggi (il 23 luglio, N.d.T) è l’ultimo giorno in cui Shimon Peres sarà presidente di Israele. Il suo immediato predecessore Moshe Katsav, che si trova attualmente in carcere, sta scontando una condanna per stupro e altri reati sessuali. Domani a Gerusalemme, Peres sarà sostituito da Reuven Rivlin. Rivlin si è guadagnato il titolo in gran parte perché i suoi due principali rivali, Silvan Shalom e Meir Shitrit, erano entrambi credibilmente accusati di aver commesso gravi crimini sessuali durante la campagna elettorale presidenziale. Allo stesso modo, l’attuale capo della polizia di Gerusalemme è stato scelto per sostituire Nisso Shaham, dopo che egli è stato incriminato con l’accusa di aver commesso una serie di crimini sessuali.

Al crescere a livelli terrificanti dell’incitamento anti-palestinese nella società israeliana, esso si è mescolato con la misoginia per creare un cocktail di odio di sconosciuta potenza. Forse, come sostengono molti sionisti, tutto questo discorso sono solo spacconate e gli ebrei israeliani sono per lo più incapaci di commettere lo stupro come un atto di guerra. Vale la pena di ricordare, però, che queste stesse persone hanno fatto affermazioni identiche su torture e omicidi fino a un mese fa, quando un gruppo di ebrei ha rapito l’adolescente palestinese Mohammed Abu Khdair, lo ha costretto a bere del carburante, e gli diede fuoco bruciandolo vivo.

Fonte: InfoAut

thanks to: PALESTINAROSSA

“We Want To Be Free”: An Interview With Four Women From The West Papuan Movement For Freedom

In 2012 Alex Rayfield and Claudia King had the privilege of interviewing four extraordinary West Papuan women, all active in the nonviolent movement for freedom in West Papua, a Melanesian nation-in-waiting occupied for more than five decades by the Indonesian military. All four women had known deep pain as a result of the occupation of their homeland and the corrosive fear of being targeted for extermination.

Some wrestled with hate of Indonesians that at times threatened to overwhelm them. All had imagined, even desired, to wage armed struggle against the Indonesian government. But instead of being pacified by terror or succumbing to cravings for revenge these four young women refuse to give into hatred or relinquish their dreams of freedom (merdeka). All are engaged in efforts to realize their hopes for a restored Papua without resort to weapons or violence. How could this be possible? King and Rayfield travelled into Indonesia and West Papua to learn about why they joined the Papuan movement for freedom, what they long for, why they had chosen to struggle nonviolently, some of the challenges they faced and about the experience and role of women in the movement.

Since interviewing the four one of the women, Fanny Kogoya, the Director of Friends of the Earth Indonesia, Papua (WALHI Papua) and a former central committee member of the West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat or KNPB), has had to flee the country. Another KNPB member Rina Kogoya, Secretary of the Port Numbay (Jayapura) branch, has decided to remain in West Papua but has gone into hiding as the Indonesian police systematically try to destroy the organisation through a campaign of summary execution (22 KNPB members were killed in 2012 alone), arrest, torture and trumped up charges of treason, hatred of the state, bomb making and murder. The other two women are Heni Lani, from the Alliance of Papuan Students (Aliansi Mahasiswa Papua or AMP) and Ice Murib, Chair of the Movement of Papua Women (Gerakan Perempuan Papua).

When and why you got involved in the movement?

Fanny Kogoya, Director, Friends of the Earth, Papua

My name is Fanny Kogoya. I am a Lani woman from the Dani Tribe, Wamena, West Papua. I am now the Director of the Papua office of Friends of the Earth Indonesia.

I first became active in the struggle in 2000. At that time I was 20 years old. I joined in a number of forum discussions with student activists from the Papuan Student Alliance (Aliansi Mahasiswa Papua). It was first semester of university but before I moved to Jogjakarta.

For years the Dani people experienced repression from the Indonesian military. Prior to 1998 – when Suharto was overthrown – the Dani’s homeland was in a military operations area (Daerah Operasi Militer). During reformasi, in 1998 and 1999 there were lots of demonstrations and my friends and I felt like we could do something. But when I was in high school, before 1998, we could not speak openly about freedom for West Papua. It was even difficult to buy or sell Papuan music. If you spoke about freedom during these times you were accused of being a part of the GPK (Gerekan Pengacau Keamanan) “the movement of security disturbers” [a police and military code for the OPM or Papua Freedom Movement]. As a child I often saw people beaten-up by the police, often without any reason at all. When I moved to Jogja I started to remember all of these things that had happened to me as a child and for the first time I was able to talk about that with other people. It was like a lid was lifted off of a boiling pot.

One of the things I we talked about was when the biologists were kidnapped by Kelly Kwalik [a legendary Papuan guerilla leader killed by Detachment 88 in December 2009]. Prabowo, one of the Kopassus [Indonesian Special Forces] commanders tried to release those hostages but what happened was that a whole lot of people were killed up in the highlands. I started reading about the history of West Papua’s integration with Indonesia, the so-called integration and I began to realise just how much wrong, how much injustice the Papuan people had experienced at the hands of others.

As a student I started to compare the policies, the government policies, with what was actually happening on the ground. On the one hand you had the constitution which talked about freedom and the Pancasila which talked about social justice but in reality there was very little political space for us Papuans. When I was living in Java I could compare the health and education system with what we had in West Papua and it was just so different. Things were so much better in Java. What is happening in Papua now is just like the New Order under Suharto and just like the reformasiperiod after Suharto. There is very little political difference for Papuan before or after Suharto. After Suharto we thought there would be more space for us but Papua has yet to experience a real democratic space. These kinds of things make me really emotional. I realized I had to resist. I can’t be silent. I have to resist.

When I was a student studying in Jogja I came to understand that I am a person who possesses land; that my life is very different from other Indonesians. The connection to land, to Papuan culture, to Adat, is quite different from what is in Java. Our relationship to our ancestors is different from those in Java. Papua is not Indonesia. Indonesia is very different from Papua.  Papua is something completely different from Indonesia.

Rini Tabuni, secretary of KNPB, Jayapura-Sentani

The first time I got involved in the struggle was in 2008. I had just finished my university studies. This was already 10 years on from Suharto and in the period of reformasi, so people felt freer to talk about the issue of freedom. The hopes embodied in reformasi gave me spirit [semangat] and encouraged me to get involved in the movement.

My mother would often speak about the things that she experienced in her life. She talked about what happened in Wamena in 1977 when there were massive military operations. My parents were pastors of the Kingmi church in Wamena at that time.

Actually my father was one of the victims of 1977. Indonesian soldiers cut open his chest with knives. They took out the contents of his stomach and they removed his heart. My grandfather saw this happening with his own eyes. As the soldiers were cutting open my father’s chest they were saying, “Where is your God now? Who is here to save you?” My grandmother and my grandfather then fled to the forest where my mother and I were hiding. They told us what had happened. And of course this event really traumatized my mother. Even now when she tells this story she always cries.

So that’s one reason I’m involved in the movement, that’s one reason why I struggle. After this we moved to Jayapura. We lived in Dock 5 with Benny Wenda’s people. In 2000 Benny started to become more active in the movement. Benny and all of my family had to flee. We ran to Papua New Guinea. After a little while, when it was safer, my older brother, who was working in the civil service, brought us back to Jayapura. Of course Benny got refugee status in England. We watched what he did from the outside; how he continued to struggle. That inspired those of us who lived inside Papua to continue to struggle in the movement. It was in this context that KNPB entered. My friends and I said let’s stay with this organization, let’s sit down with them and see what we can do together.

Heni Lani, Aliansi Mahasiswa Papua

My name is Heni Lani, I am from the Dani tribe of Wamena.

I was 18 years old when I got involved in the struggle. That was in 2003. But before that, as a girl, you know, I had experiences like Fanny and Rina. When I was in primary school the police came to my house and arrested my father. Even as a little girl, I could see the way the police treated my father was not respectful. It really made us angry. At that time my father was a principal of a primary school. Back then I had no idea that in addition to being a principal my father was also organising indigenous people in Wamena. So in the beginning I had no idea why my father had been arrested. And I guess that is what really made me angry. Two days after the police arrested my father he came home. For a week my father just stayed in the room with my mother. As children we had no idea what had happened.

I stayed with my family in Wamena until Middle-High School when I went to a Catholic boarding school. Every Saturday we’d have a chance to go home and be with our family. One Saturday night when I was at home, two police officers came around to my house. They were in plain clothes but they were carrying weapons. They arrested my father again. I still remember it. We were sitting down having dinner and the police came into my house. They grabbed my dad and they dragged him outside.

The next thing that really influenced me occurred when I was in Senior high school. Actually Rina and I were at the same school. One afternoon, around the time Benny Wenda was arrested,  I was hungry so I went outside the boarding school to buy some cake. I was still wearing my school uniform. I bought some cake from a street seller and I put it in a big plastic bag. This man was standing next to me and he said, “ hi younger sister, good day. What’s your name.” I told him “my name is Heni.” He asked me where I was from but because I didn’t know him I said, “Father would you like some cake?” He took some cake then I crossed the road.

I crossed the road and I noticed there were lots of police. Suddenly the police ran across the road and grabbed the guy I had just given cake to. The police dragged him by his hair and beard. It was only then I realized it was actually Benny Wenda. Benny Wenda shouted out in Lani, “quick, help me, grab this bag”. There were no other people from Wamena there so they did not understand what he was saying but I understood. Then he said it again: “help me, grab this bag”. But I didn’t do anything. I just stood there watching him cry out.

The next day in the Cendrawasi Post [the main daily newspaper in Jayapura, the capital of West Papua) there was a big photo of Benny Wenda on the front cover. The newspaper sellers were calling out “C-post, C-post, Benny Wenda arrested, Benny Wenda arrested.” I bought a paper and started reading it.  In the article it said in his bag were a whole lot of sensitive documents; the morning star flag, his passport, all sorts of things. After reading the C-post I realized, wow it really was Benny Wenda that I met yesterday. Before that I only knew his name. I had never met him before. I can’t tell you how guilty I felt, like I had done some really wrong. I didn’t go to school that day. For the next three days I was carrying this burden. I kept on thinking to myself, why didn’t I do anything? Perhaps if I knew it was Benny Wenda I would have gone and helped him, grabbed his bag to keep it from the police. That was the third experience that influenced my political development as an activist.

After school I started studying at University but I continued to stay at the Catholic dormitory. I would often witness demonstrations on the main road in Abepura. At our campus there was a small discussion group led by Jeffrey Pigawak. I started to attend and began to ask questions; why did the police do this and why did the police do that? I wanted to try and understand the things that I had witnessed as I was growing up. Bit by bit I became more active in the discussion group. That was between 2002 and 2003. In 2003 I made a decision that I would become more active. The first group I got involved in was the street parliament (Parlamen Jalanan), which was set-up by Filip Karma and Yusak Pakage.

On the April 5 2004 I got my political education from Filip Karma. I remember it was at the beach in Hamadi. Filep Karma told me all the things that happened in our history, the whole history of our struggle. He told me everything going right back to the time of the Dutch, about Angganeta Manufandu in Biak during the 30s and 40s, the role of Mama Yosepa in the highlands, all these things. Before I received my political education from Filip Karma it was like I was sitting in this small dark room with little rays of light coming through. These rays of light were like my father getting arrested and Benny Wenda getting arrested. When I got my education it was like the door of this room was flung open. It was as if I went outside for the first time and saw what was really happening. The day on the beach in Hamadi was the first time I saw the Morning Star flag. I grabbed it and held it. Finally, I realized, I’m not an Indonesian, I’m a Papuan!

All these events culminating with the political education I received from Karma and Pakage strengthened my commitment to this struggle. Since then my friends have been arrested, some have died in jail, some have fled to Papua New Guinea. It’s like we are migrants in our own land. So many people from Java, from Sulawesi, from Sumatra have come to our land. We don’t have space to do anything. I finally discovered that the reason my father was arrested was because they wanted to take his land to build a stadium. My father was defending his land but they took his land to build a stadium. My father had said if you want to take my land to build a school, well then okay, we can talk about it but they didn’t care. When I became involved in the movement my father told me all these things. So I have no reason to sit down and be quiet.

Ice Murib, Chair of the Papuan Women’s Movement

I first got involved in the movement in 2008 but something happened to me in 2006. I was in Jayapura in class three of senior high school at the time. The date was March 16 2006. There was a big action in Abepura. Lots of students were involved including Heni. My friends and I were in Kotaraja. We tried to get a taxi home but the road was blocked everywhere so we had to walk. It was quite a distance, maybe 20 kilometers. When we passed the road between the University of Cendrawasih and the Trikora football field,  I saw students burning tires, they were blockading the road, and I saw Heni speaking. Suddenly I heard shooting. Students were running everywhere. I joined them. We ran and ran. I still had my school clothes and I was running for my life. The police were arresting people. There were soldiers everywhere but I kept running. I ran all the way home. The following day I didn’t go to school. I heard they were looking for students. Their pictures were everywhere including Heni’s. Her face was posted on the wall, along with other people who were wanted by the police.

At that time I felt sick in my heart. I thought, this isn’t right, this isn’t just. That is why I joined the Alliance of Papuan Students from the Central Highlands. But you know, the events of March 16 2006 were not the only thing I have seen. I have also experienced some of the things that my friends Fanny, Rina, and Heni have experienced. My parents and grandparents were involved in the events of 1977 in Wamena. The repression then was so heavy…

At that time in Tiom my grandfather would see the military come and take pieces of iron. They would heat them up in water and use them torture people. The soldiers would stab people with these hot pieces of iron until they died. The police would go through and sweep the village, searching for people. Helicopters hovered above while the police and army went house to house searching for people.

One morning everyone hid in the church. The children, the women, and the men, they all tried to hide in the church. And then the Army came. Other people from other villages also came. The army and police asked people to come out of the church. My grandfather came out of the church and ran. He took my father who was still young and hid in the forest.

The army forced everyone to come out of the church. The men were forced to strip down, to take off all of their traditional clothes until they were naked. At that moment one of the soldiers came up to one of my grandfather’s friends and in front of including the children, he slit his throat. Other people were killed that day too. I don’t know how many but I can tell you that my grandfather’s friend’s throat was slit. And then they made everyone eat his head. We can eat pigs, but we can’t eat human beings. That is why my grandfather and father fled to the forest. Everyone was grieving.

In 2000 when I was in second grade middle school Morning Star flags were being raised all over the Baliem Valley. Every morning the members of satgas, a kind of unarmed militia set-up by Papuan Presidium Council, would raise the morning star flag at various posts throughout the valley. The president at the time, Gus Dur gave an order that the Morning Star flags had to come down. On the morning of October 6 2000 I went to school in Wamena city. The police and military were everywhere, travelling from post to post to try and take down the flags. I remember feeling confused. When I got to school it was so quiet, everyone had gone so I went home. As I tried to go home a man from Biak asked me, “Who are you? Where are you from? You’ve got to go home, you can’t be here, you have to go home.” I ran down the main road all the way home. As I ran I saw police and military everywhere. I pass a satgas post where the police and soldiers are trying to force the flag down. I see a woman trying to defend the flag. She had her  arms wrapped around it. I saw them beat her. They just beat her until the blood ran down her face. Along the side of the road people were being beaten and tortured. Of course seeing all of these things I was so scared.

So I just ran. I ran all the way home. But when I got home nobody was there except my two younger sisters. At that time they were about 4 years old and 1 ½ years old. I was asked them, “Where is everyone? Where did everyone go?” My sisters told me that my mother was sick and my father was taking her to the hospital. She didn’t know what she should do, everyone was fleeing to the forest, everyone was running. My sister looked at me and said, “What should we do?” Nobody was there. Nobody was coming to help them. Then one of my grandmothers came she told me, “you can’t stay here, you can’t stay here, you’ve got to go, it’s not safe here.” So I got some powdered milk for the baby, some clothes for them and some food. I also got some shirts and shorts for my sisters. I grabbed a couple of things of my fathers, some documents that were important. Then I wrapped my youngest sister who was 1 ½ years, in a sheet and I wrapped and put her in a noken (string bag).  I took my other sister who was 4 years old, by the hand. By this time it was already night and there was heavy rain. In the beginning I didn’t know where I should go. It was really quiet. We went to the forest, in the direction of a village. It was a fair way to that village and I felt really scared. I felt so little. I am taking my two younger sisters into the forest, it was the middle of the night and I didn’t know where my parents were and what had happened to them. Finally we arrived at the village and stayed in one of the houses there. I cared for, looked after my younger sisters. Early morning the next morning I could hear the planes flying overhead, looking for people. There was nothing we could do. We just had to stay in that room. We couldn’t do anything.

When my father came back to the house from the hospital he looked for us but couldn’t find us. Finally he found us and we stayed there in that village for a week. When my mum came back from the hospital we returned home to our house and the situation started to get a bit better.

Two years later in 2002 something else happened. There was a raid on the military post in Wamena. Some people stole a couple of guns. This happened one Saturday night. I remember we were getting ready to go to church. When the priest began preaching the army suddenly burst in and forced everyone out of the church and into the front yard where they pointed guns at us and told us to sit down. The soldiers kept asked us if we knew what happened. This man raised his hand and said something but it was dark and there was heavy rain.  I heard the noise of footsteps but I didn’t see anything. Then before I knew it a soldier hit him and dragged him off to a patrol vehicle. After that everyone was too scared to say anything. The soldiers continued to ask us what happened but everyone was too scared to say anything. Finally the army left. When the army went people started to tell stories. Some people said that the many who raided the military base was Yustinus Murib and his friends. And of course my father was scared for us to go to school because our clan name is Murib. My father told us, if people ask you what your family name is, don’t tell them it’s Murib. Just go home if they ask. Don’t say anything because it’s really dangerous for you.

These are some of the reasons why I got involved in the AMP-PT. I joined in demonstrations. In 2008 I also joined the demonstrations organized by KNPB. At that time, the highland students were being hunted down. Fanny and I had to flee. We lived in the forest for 5 months with other students, hiding from the police.

Later I stayed with Reverend Sofyan Yoman. This was around the time his book was banned. I was at his house when officers from the national intelligence agency (BIN) and the police came to his house. They wanted to arrest Reverend Sofyan but he said, “This is my land, this is my place. I am the master of my own land. If the president orders you to arrest me, you have to ask, you have to tell the president to come here because I am the president of my own land.” The police and the people from the national intelligence agency left. They didn’t know what to do!

I have witnessed all these things. They are part of the reason why I joined the movement.

Why are you struggling nonviolently? Where does the courage to do that come from?

Fanny Kogoya, Director, Friends of the Earth, Papua

We have to acknowledge that if you are going to struggle nonviolently there will also be victims just the same as if we were to take up arms. It would be a mistake to commit to nonviolent just to avoid suffering. Even though we’re struggling nonviolently the Indonesian state continues to respond violently. They arrest people, beat people, kill people. Often my activist friends say, “What’s the point. If we struggle nonviolently they’re going to beat us, arrest us … if we struggle violently they’ll do the same things”.

Often people join the armed struggle because of their experiences. They’ve had these traumatic experiences and they make a decision to join the armed struggle. Often it’s an emotional reaction. Of course in our culture we also have a history of fighting back, a history of tribal warfare. All Papuans have courage, we are a courageous people. So with these three things – our memories of suffering,  our history and culture and our courage – armed struggle is a real option for us. And there are many people who believe we can only get self-determination through violence.

But Papuans are also a very practical people, we’re not a theoretical people. We know civil resistance can also work. So my dream is to learn more about civil resistance and how it works. I want to go back to the victims of violence, whether they are people who have been involved in the armed struggle or not, and I want to say, “There’s another way, there’s a different way”. Of course it’s difficult to influence those in the jungle who are fighting as a part of the armed struggle but I can influence those in the city and in places where I live to struggle nonviolently.

We have to understand that the Indonesia military receives support from the Americans, from the Australians, from the Dutch. Papuans will never be able to match the weapons the Indonesians have. Unless all of these foreign countries that support the Indonesian state come and take all of their weapons away … but at this stage there is just no way we could ever compete.

So the realistic option that I have is to organize people to struggle nonviolently. If we struggle through civil resistance more people can be involved, old people, young people can be involved. Involving all types of people, the whole Papuan society, can give us a tremendous amount of strength.

Rini Tabuni, secretary of KNPB, Jayapura-Sentani

Actually everyone thinks we Papuans need to take up arms. There are so many reasons why people want to take-up arms and fight back. Some people want to take up arms because they don’t have any trust that the Indonesian government is going to resolve the conflict peacefully but a lot of people want to take up arms because of the experiences that we have, they don’t know any different. But we do. If we take-up arms against Indonesia the response will be so fierce, so sharp, so heavy. But I understand why people feel they have to reply a death for a death, why they want to respond with violence.

If I struggle through violence I am going to experience a number of problems. I’m going to lose a lot of my rights. I’m going to lose my best friends. And people are going to come and steal my rights, steal my land, and kill me. There are other people that are going to come and take over and possess our land. But now I see that there’s an opportunity to resist through nonviolent struggle. People at the grassroots need to know that nonviolent action can be really successful and I can give them evidence of that. We can learn from the examples of other countries. Lots of other countries have gained freedom through nonviolent struggle. People who have faced the same kind of problems as us have found a way through. When people know this they are going to be touched deeply. We can use our culture, our way of life to help our friends understand that actually they can struggle through nonviolent means. I can do this but I can only do all of these things because God is involved, because God’s hand is involved in all of this.

Heni Lani, Aliansi Mahasiswa Papua

The first thing that I have to do is acknowledge is that there is a part of me that sometimes wants to take-up arms. But then I imagine what would happen. I think about the numbers of people that will be wiped out.

Like Fanny and Rina said we also need to compare the strength of Indonesia with the strength that we have. The Indonesian army is trained 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And their knowledge of military warfare is so far advanced from any knowledge of armed struggle that we have. I can only be brave enough to take up arms when we have the same military strength to face them. But I don’t feel brave to take up arms before then.

I choose to struggle nonviolently. I have experienced these terrible things that have made me strong. But not just I, everyone in Papua have memories of suffering. These experiences are a source of courage for us.

I feel certain that we have to struggle nonviolently. I feel strong when we resist with nonviolent strategies and tactics and our movement isn’t labeled with negative stigmas. People on the outside can see that we’re struggling nonviolently. I don’t feel scared to struggle nonviolently. One of the sources of strength of nonviolent resistance is that it is not only me who is struggling, it’s all of us Papuans working together. We also have amazing leaders, particularly religious leaders who have made us realize that also West Papua is going to be a better place if people struggle nonviolently. More people will be involved. We’re not just talking about forming a new nation we’re also talking about how we can live in the midst of that struggle and you know civil resistance is a better way, it allows us to live better in the midst of struggling for something better. Maybe because I’ve got an understanding and knowledge of civil resistance that I feel brave.

Ice Murib, Chair of the Papuan Women’s Movement

If we could get lots of arms, I think Papuans would struggle violently. But we really don’t have lots of arms. We have some. But it’s nothing compared to what the Indonesia military has.  I know that civil resistance can bring about change but sometimes I have doubts. Maybe we can’t do it through civil resistance because the Indonesian government is a type of tiger. It is a really bad type of tiger that we’re up against. And you know their thinking is, they should just kill us.

What are you struggling for? What do you want?

Fanny Kogoya, Director, Friends of the Earth, Papua 

Speaking personally, we’ve got to get freedom quickly and that has to be through political means. But if I speak from the position of a WALHI Director, we need the support of various groups around the world who love the environment. Papua has the third largest forest. We love the forest and if this forest is destroyed that will have a global impact. People need to realize that what is happening in Papua is not just happening to Papua itself, it is something that is happening to all of us. We need people to work with us. We need institutional support. And we want people to campaign about Papua. We want people to campaign to stop the violence and if we work together we will be successful.

We really need technical assistance with media. We also need to influence other countries, particularly the U.S. America has a big influence so the US should have a really clear and strong policy about Papua. That would be a really good thing. Obviously we want that policy to be in support of freedom. And of course if you look at the history of Papua the US has been really involved. I want to ask all Americans, all U.S citizens, to pressure their government to take responsibility for the fact that Papua is not free.

Rini Tabuni, secretary of KNPB, Jayapura-Sentani 

I want you to know that I want to be free. I want freedom. That’s it. I want to be free.

Heni Lani, Aliansi Mahasiswa Papua

The BIG thing that I want, is for all the Papuan people to be involved in the civil resistance struggle. We have to work together. People can help by doing little things, making shirts and stickers and little things like that. We can start from little things like that.

Tell your friends in Australia and the U.S., “Stop sending military weapons to Indonesia. Stop.” Because whenever we do things we face the military with those arms and those arms are sent by your countries and the military and D88 are being trained by your countries to kill us.

Ice Murib, Chair of the Papuan Women’s Movement

We want to be free. We want you to help us be free. Indonesia doesn’t care about us as people. So the only thing that we want is to be free. We want to be free to live our own life in our own land. 

What is the role of women in the movement?

Fanny Kogoya, Director, Friends of the Earth, Papua 

Women have a really big role in the movement. Sometimes women feel like they are the enemy, that the military and the state see women as the enemy. We have a double challenge that we’re facing. We struggle against Indonesia but we also struggle against patriarchy in the movement. Se we have two enemies: the way women are treated within the movement and the evil and injustice of the state. We are definitely fighting against some of the men within the movement who think we aren’t capable.

We need to struggle so that women are the same within the struggle. I never feel that women are better than men in the struggle. I’m just as great as they are, just as great as the men are. We need to get rid of this view that men are somehow better in the struggle. We need to erase that view. If men and women can have this same view then we will just have one enemy, not two.

In terms of being elected as the director of WALHI, there were actually 2 people going for that position, a man and a woman, but I got the position. I feel proud about that. We are also supported by men’s organizations as well. So you know, this is a sign of our strength.

Rini Tabuni, secretary of KNPB, Jayapura-Sentani

I agree with what Fanny said, we are not just struggling for freedom we’re also struggling for equality within the movement. We can’t retreat from these two things.

Heni Lani, Aliansi Mahasiswa Papua

And of course, the evidence is before you now. These four women here are all providing leadership. The same is true in AMP and KNPB. Women are in leadership positions and telling men what to do, so yeah, we’re already there, we’re already playing positions of leadership in the movement.

Everyone:

All this is just a fraction of what was happening. We could write down our whole history and send it to you but it would be a book! We carry all of the stories of what happened to us and what came before us in us. If we don’t do something, the next generation after us will experience even worse things.

Fanny: But for me, of all of these terrible things that I’ve experienced, the worst thing was the killing of Mako. Mako was a really good friend of mine. And because of Mako’s death we have to struggle. Mako Tabuni really supported me to take a leadership position in WALHI. I became the director on the 13th and Mako was shot down on the 14th. At 5 o’clock I was elected to the position of director, and then at 7 o’clock Mako shook her hand and said, well done, fantastic. And then 8 o’clock the next morning he was shot down.

There are many other things too, Kelly Kwalik’s killing, the killing of Arnold Ap, Theys Eluay’s killing, all those in the forest who have been killed.

Heni: But Indonesia can’t do anything without the assistance of countries like Australia and the US. So we need to put pressure on them. Stop sending arms to Indonesia.

Interview by Alex Rayfield and Claudia King. Photos taken by Javiera.

FREE WEST PAPUA!!  PAPUA MERDEKA!!

thanks to:

8 March: Palestinian women in Israeli jails

Since Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip in 1967, an estimated 10,000 Palestinian women have been arrested or detained under Israeli military orders.

The majority of Palestinian women prisoners are subjected to mental pressure and torture through the process of their arrest. Beatings, insults, threats, sexual harassment and humiliation are all used by Israeli interrogators to intimidate women and force confessions. Harsh imprisonment conditions, such as the lack of fresh air, sunlight, cold damp cells in the winter and overheated cells in the summer, insects, dirt and overcrowding, combined with stress, poor diet and isolation from families all negatively impact on women’s health.

Pregnant prisoners transferred to the hospital to give birth are typically chained to their beds until they enter delivery rooms, and shackled once again minutes after delivery.

In the last 45 years, more than 800,000 Palestinians have been detained under Israeli military orders – around 20 per cent of the entire Palestinian population of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Shireen Issawi

“They think they can taunt our nerves, but we are strong and we will win, and Samer will receive his freedom.”

Shireen, her four brothers, and her sister, have all been held in Israeli detention at some time or another. Her brother Samer has currently been on hunger strike for over 200 days in protest at his incarceration, and Shireen was arrested in December 2012 whilst trying to attend his court hearing. Another of her brothers, Medhat, is also currently imprisoned – he was arrested in May 2012 whilst participating in a peaceful march against the political imprisonment of Palestinians. In 1994 her brother, 16-year old Fadi, was killed by live Israeli gunfire at a protest in Issawiya.

Hana Shalabi

Under Administrative Detention, Palestinians can be held indefinitely without charge or trial. Hana Shalabi was released from over two years in administrative detention on 18 October 2011, as part of a prisoner exchange deal. Hana was re-arrested less than four months later on 16 February 2012. She endured a 43-day hunger strike in protest at being imprisoned again without charge, which ended after international pressure against her detention. In violation of the Geneva Convention, Israel exiled her to Gaza.

Reema Oleyyan Awad

Reema and her 18-month-old daughter Qamar were arrested in January 2013 whilst trying to access Palestinian land in the south Hebron Hills, which has been illegally confiscated by the Metzpeh Yair settlement outpost.

Kifah Awni Othman Qatash

In 2005 Kifah Qatash stood for municipal elections on the Change and Reform list. Kifah was held for  368 days in detention without charge or trial, based on secret evidence not available to her or to her lawyers. Kifah suffers from numerous health problems, and her health was put at extreme risk during her interrogations and detention.

thanks to: Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Selective Memory, Gender and Nationalism: Palestinian Women Leaders of the Mandate Period

Copyright © 1999, by Oxford University Press
Terms and Conditions

Selective Memory, Gender and Nationalism: Palestinian Women Leaders of the Mandate Period
Author(s): Ellen L. Fleischmann
Source: History Workshop Journal, No. 47 (Spring, 1999), pp. 141-158
Published by: Oxford University Press

Does It Matter What Israelis Do?

Weekend Edition July 20-22, 2012
Where’s the Netanyahu Scandal in the New York Times?

Does It Matter What Israelis Do?

by SAUL LANDAU

Western leaders met in Paris last week to discuss possible intervention in Syria where almost 10,000 people have died over the last year of internal conflict. The West has never even considered holding such a meeting on Israel’s murderous behavior, however, despite a July 5 UN report that claimed that over the last five years Israeli forces have killed nearly 2,300 Palestinians and injured 7,700 in Gaza (statement from UNOCHA, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.)

The UN agency said that 27 percent of the fatalities in Gaza were women and children in a report highlighting the effects of Israel’s blockade.

Six years ago Israel imposed its sea and air blockade of Gaza. Under the blockade, Gaza exports have dropped to less than 3 percent of 2006 levels.

UNOCHA said, “The continued ban on the transfer of goods from Gaza to its traditional markets in the West Bank and Israel, along with the severe restrictions on access to agricultural land and fishing waters, prevents sustainable growth and perpetuates the high levels of unemployment, food insecurity and aid dependency.”

Israel’s naval blockade has also undermined the livelihood of 35,000 fishermen, and Gaza farmers have lost around 75,000 tons of produce each year due to Israeli restrictions along Gaza’s land border, the UNOCHA report said.

Half of Gaza’s youth is unemployed and 44 percent of its people are food insecure.

Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Thursday that because Gaza’s ruling party Hamas is a “terrorist organization, the blockade was necessary.”

“All cargo going into Gaza must be checked because Gaza is controlled by Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization,” Regev told Reuters in response to a petition by 50 aid groups, including six UN agencies, calling on Israel to lift the blockade.

The West abhors the Syrian – disobedient – government, allied to Iran, and adores Israel, no matter what it does to the Palestinians. The media does little to dramatize the obvious double standard criteria used to measure the worthiness of the two neighboring governments. Iran, the West’s post Cold War bad guy, found a friend in Syria and that alone has condemned the Syrian government. The fact that Saudi Arabia has armed and financed rebels entering Syria in the name of “democracy” should cause at least some news absorbers to feel a bit skeptical over the anti-Syria campaign.

It doesn’t seem to matter what Israelis do. For example, Arutz Sheva, the nationalist Israeli press, reported that “declassified FBI documents from a 1985-2002 investigation implicate Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in an initiative to illegally purchase United States nuclear technology for Israel’s nuclear program.

“Netanyahu was allegedly helped by Arnon Milchan, a Hollywood producer with ties to Israeli prime ministers and U.S. presidents.”

Grant Smith at antiwar.com had reported that “Netanyahu worked inside a nuclear smuggling ring.” Here’s an example of what is found in the report:

“On June 27, 2012, the FBI partially declassified and released seven additional pages from a 1985–2002 investigation into how a network of front companies connected to the Israeli Ministry of Defense illegally smuggled nuclear triggers out of the U.S. The newly released FBI files detail how Richard Kelly Smyth – who was convicted of running a U.S. front company – met with Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel during the smuggling operation. At that time, Netanyahu worked at the Israeli node of the smuggling network, Heli Trading Company. Netanyahu, who currently serves as Israel’s prime minister, recently issued a gag order that the smuggling network’s unindicted ringleader refrain from discussing ‘Project Pinto’.”

The Hebrew paper Ma’ariv continued the report on this incident.

“According to FBI documents released by the United States, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was involved in smuggling in the 70s from the U.S. components of Israeli nuclear program, and assisted by the businessman Arnon Milchan, who according to previous publications was a former Mossad agent.

“The documents describe the findings of the investigation… performed between the years 1985 to 2002 on about how a network of front companies a U.S. security firm illegally smuggled equipment used for weapons seeds out of the U.S.”

We live in the Golden Age of Empire Judaism, said Prof. Marc Ellis. “Greater Israel” means Jewish settler expansion in a denial of Palestinians and their rights. It also means perpetual conflict, maybe war, in the region. Is this why our Congress pledges eternal love to Israel? Is this why the Israeli lobby pays and threatens our Congress?

When will Western powers meet to decide what to do about Israel so as to lessen the damage she causes to Palestinians, her neighbors and the region? Israel has baffled the U.S. political apparatus. It gets away with imposing apartheid against Palestinians, stealing their land and stirring up war against its neighbors. One negative word from a U.S. pol on Israel brings heavy pressure, intimidation and money for opposing candidates – along with charges of anti-semitism.

How pathetic that a small group of right-wing Jews allied to right-wing Israeli parties, has buffaloed U.S. politicians and media. One former Congressman described the Israeli lobby as the equivalent of a pit bull that bites the Congressman’s leg in the morning and holds on during lunch and the afternoon. The Congressman sleeps with the bull’s teeth in his leg and wakes with it the next morning. No wonder Members don’t want to antagonize this angry dog!

I don’t suggest Palestinians form an equivalent lobby, but rather that the media develop a little courage and report accurately on events in Israel and Palestine. Just spread reviews of the new film “5 Broken Camera,” in which a Palestinian West Bank farmer documents the encroachment by army-backed settlers that bulldozed his village’s olive trees to  make room for Israeli apartment houses. Israel’s treatment of West Bank Palestinians is no better than its behavior toward residents of Gaza.

Saul Landau’s WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP screens at Washington DC’s Avalon Theater, 5612 Connecticut Ave 8 pm, august 14 and at the San Jose Peace an Justice Center on Aug 3, 7 PM 48 South 7th St., San Jose CA.

thanks to:

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

Criminali

Aggressione della polizia israeliana contro manifestanti, minacciati anche di stupro

 

di Sawsan Khalife Attivista politico e giornalista a Shefa-Amr nella Galilea – Palestina.

Diciassette attivisti, compreso un minorenne, sono stati brutalmente arrestati durante una manifestazione autorizzata, svoltati il 3 maggio vicino alla prigione di Ramle, in sostegno ai prigionieri palestinesi in sciopero della fame. Alcuni manifestanti sono stati trattenuti nel centro medico della prigione.

I manifestanti hanno passato la notte nella stazione di polizia di Ramle e sono stati portati davanti al tribunale di Petach Tikva, il giorno seguente. Dopo aver esaminato le “prove segrete” presentate dalla polizia, un giudice ha imposto tre giorni di arresti domiciliari e ha proibito agli attivisti qualsiasi contatto tra di loro per 15 giorni; li ha anche multati di centinaia di shekel per disturbo della quiete pubblica.

Il 6 maggio, il gruppo palestinese per i diritti umani, Adalah, ha presentato un esposto urgente al capo dell’unità investigativa della polizia presso il ministro della Giustizia di Israele, chiedendo un’inchiesta sugli arresti e i maltrattamenti dei 17 manifestanti.

In un comunicato stampa diramato il 7 maggio da Adalah si legge: “alle 6:45 circa del pomeriggio, dopo che la manifestazione era finita e che la maggioranza dei partecipanti se n’era andata, diverse persone restavano a manifestare. La manifestazione non richiedeva alcun permesso da parte israeliana, stando alla normativa. Nonontante ciò, la polizia israeliana ha aggredito violentemente il gruppo di manifestanti, pestandoli e lanciando contro di essi gas lacrimogeni. Tale comportamento è continuato anche quando i ragazzi avevano già i polsi ammanettati.
Otto manifestanti sono stati arrestati.

Adalah riferiche che “dopo i primi arresti, alcuni manifestanti si sono diretti alla stazione di polizia per chiedere informazioni sui compagni arrestati, ma una volta entrati, anche questi sono stati aggrediti e picchiati, e con l’arresto degli altri nove”.

Adalah sottolinea come “questo episodio non sua altro che l’ennesimo fatto pertinente alla sistematica brutalità di Israele contro i palestinesi cittadini di Israele, contro la loro libertà d’espressione”.

Manifestanti ricoverati in ospedale. Ward Kayal, 16 anni, è stata condannata agli arresti domiciliari. La ragazzina ha testimoniato l’effettivo ricorso della forza da parte israeliana contro i manifestanti.
“Eravamo circa 200 e, sebbene la manifestazione avesse ottenuto l’autorizzazione della polizia, Yassam (unità speciale israeliana) non ha esitato ad aggredirci.

“Ci hanno scaraventato per terra, riempendoci di botte e io ho contusioni su tutto il corpo. Io soffro e ho avuto alcune complicazioni alla pressione. Dopo l’arresto, intorno alle sei pomeridiane, ora locale, ci hanno legato mani e piedi, a tutti, sparandoci addosso scariche elettriche. Mentre infierivano fisicamente ci offendevano verbalmente.

“Come aveva fatto già mia madre, con noi a manifestare, ho ripetuto alla polizia quale fossero le mie condizioni di salute, choedendo di poter prendere i medicinali e di poter essere visitata da un medico. Avevo i polsi legati e mi hanno scaraventato dalle scale, sono stata picchiata e mi hanno sparato addosso con la pistola elettrica. Mi hanno costretta in un bagno dove mi hanno offesa pesantemente. Dopo quattro ore in quello stato, non mi reggevo in piedi, e sono svenuta.

“Quando si sono resi conto del mio stato di salute, mi hanno portata in ospedale, sempre con mani e piedi legati. La mia pressione era 150/122 e dovevo necessariamente prendere i farmaci. Al contrario, mi hanno tenuto sott custodia, senza medicine e solo il giorno dopo sono stata rilasciata. Nel corso della notte, verso le le 3, mi hanno interrogata.

“Credo che il sostegno a quanti scioperano abbia una rilevanza nazionale…e, anzi, sostengo che la solidarietà vada rìessere sempre pià attiva. Per quanti sopportano uno sciopero, la nostra partecipazione è molto importante per rinvigorire e motivare la loro lotta”.

Attiviste minacciate di viollenza sessuale. Anche Tha’ira Zoebi, attivista di 27 anni di an-Nasira (Nazareth), è stata ferita dalla polizia israeliana.

“Non appena è partita la manifestazione, l’unità israeliana Yassam e la polizia hanno arrestato l’autista dell’autobus insieme a otto manifestanti. Noi ci siamo opposti a quegli arresti.

Sono stata aggredita da un ufficiale di polizia che mi strappato la Kefiya dal collo, per gettarla per terra. Nel farlo mi sono sentita strozzare. E’ stato allora che mi hanno arrestata insieme ad altri otto manifestanti. Con noi c’erano anche attivisti israeliani.

“Hanno usato pistole laser, porto ancora i segni delle bruciature. Ho visto uno di loro aprire con forza la bocca di uno di noi e sputarvi dentro. A me hanno sputato in volto.
Ci hanno pestato e ci hanno insultato. Ci hanno perquisito integralmente.

“Io e un’altra attivista siamo state trattenute presso la stazione di polizia di Ramle, hanno minacciato di stuprarci. Ammetto, sono scoppiata in lacrime”.

Ma Th’aira giura che nonostante il trauma di questo episodio, lei continuerà a protestare, e forse è più motivata di prima.

“La lotta dei prigionieri palestinesi in sciopero della fame rappresenta una lotta personale, in difesa di tutti i sostenitori dei diritti dei palestinesi.

“Il governo di Israele tenta di spezzare lo spirito nazionalistico per mezzo del ricorso al terrore psicologico e fisico”.

Israeli police brutally arrest hunger strike demonstrators, threaten them with rape

from Sawsan Khalife Political activist and journalist from Shefa-Amr in the Galilee region of Palestine.

Seventeen activists, including a minor, were brutally arrested during a permitted demonstration on 3 May in support of the Palestinian hunger strikers near Ramle prison, where some strikers are being held in the Israeli Prison Service medical center.

The protesters spent the night in Ramle police station and were brought to Petach Tikva court the following day. After reviewing the “secret evidence” presented by the police, a judge imposed three days of house arrest on them and forbade the activists to make any contact with each other for 15 days, also fining them hundreds of shekels for disturbing the peace.

On 6 May, the Palestinian human rights group Adalah submitted an urgent complaint to the head of the police investigation unit at the Israeli ministry of justice, demanding an investigation into the arrest and abuse of the 17 protesters.

According to a 7 May press release issued by Adalah, “At approximately 6:45pm, after the demonstration ended and most participants had left, several individuals attempted to continue protesting by forming a picket line, which does not require a permit under Israeli law. However, the police violently attacked the group, beating them and using tasers, even after the people were handcuffed.” Eight were arrested at the site (“Adalah Demands Criminal Investigation into Illegal Arrest and Abuse in Custody of 17 Demonstrators”).

Adalah adds, “After the initial arrests, some of protestors went to the police station to find out about the others’ status. There, the police attacked and beat the remaining protestors and arrested an additional nine people.”

Adalah emphasized that “this event is yet another example of the Israeli police’s systematic brutality against Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel who demonstrate and exercise their right to free speech.”
Demonstrator taken to hospital

Sixteen-year-old Ward Kayal, sentenced to house arrest, recalled the Israeli police’s use of force at the protest.

“We were around 200 demonstrators, and although the protest was permitted by the police, it did not stop the Yassam [a special police force unit] and police forces attacking us,” she said.

“They put us on the ground and started beating us. I have bruises all over my body. I suffer from a medical condition [related to] blood pressure, and am being treated with medicine. After they arrested us around 6pm, they hand- and leg-cuffed us all, as they continued to use tasers [electric stun guns] while cursing and humiliating us.

“I told the police, as did my mother who also participated in the protest, that I suffer from a medical condition and to allow me to take the medicine and see a doctor. While [I was] cuffed, they pushed me down the stairs, beat me with their fists and tasers, and forced me to use the bathroom while the door was open to humiliate me. Four hours later I was too weak to stand on my feet and fainted.

“When they saw that my condition was bad, they took me to a hospital nearby, while hand- and leg-cuffed, and in my medical record it stated that my blood pleasure was 150/122 and that I should take medicine. They kept me under custody and I was deprived any medicine until I was released the following day.

“During the night they interrogated me, until around 3am.”

Kayal added, “I find the support of the hunger strikers of national importance … The support should be more active, especially since it has a significant meaning for the strikers [to know] of our support, which gives them hope to go on with their struggle.”
Female activists threatened with rape

Thaira Zoabi, a 27-year-old activist from Nazareth, also suffered injuries at the hands of police on 3 May.

“As soon as the protest began, the Israeli Yassam and police forces first arrested the bus driver and eight protesters. That did not stop us from continuing our protest demanding to release them all,” she said.

“I was first attacked by a police officer when he lifted me up the ground with my kuffiyeh [traditional checkered scarf] that was around my neck, suffocating me and making it hard for me to breathe. They arrested me and eight other protesters. There were also Israeli and foreign activists amongst us.

“The Israeli forces used [taser guns] and I have bruises on my arms and legs. I saw them open a protester’s mouth by force and spit in it, and they spit in my face as well. They beat us and used massive verbal violence. They did a full body search. While being under custody, a police officer of Ramle district addressed both me and another female activist while being cuffed with verbal sexual harassment, threatening to rape us. I have to admit I burst in tears.”

Zoabi said that in spite of what happened during the protest, she will continue her activism — even more motivated than before.

“I regard the struggle of the Palestinian prisoners and their hunger strike as a personal matter for each Palestinian and human rights defenders,” she said. “The government of Israel tries to break our national spirit using psychological and physical terror.”

Arrested protesters tasered, beaten, threatened with rape


from Mairav Zonszein

A demonstration in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike last week ended in the illegal arrest of 17 activists. The police violence they encountered in detention – which included threats of rape and the use of electroshock Taser guns – shows just what the authorities think of the basic right to human dignity and the freedom of expression and protest.

Last Thursday, May 3, 15 Israeli citizens – Palestinians and Jews (including one resident of Jerusalem) – as well as one American and one Canadian, were violently arrested after a demonstration outside the Ramle Prison in solidarity with Palestinian administrative detainees on hunger strike. Eight were arrested at the demonstration and then nine more outside the police station after the protest had ended. Adalah attorney Orna Kohn told +972 that even though the nine arrested at the police station were not within the parameters of the legal protest by the prison, “there were less than 50 people there, so it does not constitute illegal assembly anyway.”

Besides there being no pretense for the arrests since it was a legal and nonviolent protest, the activists in custody were reportedly beaten, verbally abused, threatened with rape, shocked by Taser guns while handcuffed, and held in custody beyond the time alloted by the judge.

Adalah, which is providing legal representation for all 17 activists, has filed a complaint with the Police Investigation Unit regarding the police brutality, and a complaint with the court regarding their prolonged custody. +972 contacted a police spokesperson for response but no comment was provided. Here is a rundown of events according to the Adalah press release from May 7:

On 3 May 2012, approximately 200 protestors gathered outside the Ramle Prison compound, where hunger strikers are being held in the Israel Prisons Service (IPS) medical center. They had a permit to protest issued by the police. At approximately 6:45 pm, after the demonstration ended and most participants had left, several individuals attempted to continue protesting by forming a picket line, which does not require a permit under Israeli law. However, the police violently attacked the group, beating them and using Tasers, even after the people were handcuffed. Eight participants including a minor were arrested.

After the initial arrests, some of protestors went to the police station to find out about the others’ status. There, the police attacked and beat the remaining protestors and arrested an additional nine people. Another five individuals were fined for disturbing the peace. Some of the women detained were sexually harassed, including threats of rape and repeatedly being called “bitches” and “whores.”

Irene Nasser, one of those arrested, has provided +972 with her account of the events. Here is an excerpt, detailing what she experienced while being held in custody, her legs and hands shackled.

They pushed them [another three female arrestees] into the walls and crudely screamed at them to shut their mouths. While we were all already next to each other, the officers began kicking us. At that point we once again heard lots of shouting and heard them pushing some of the men into a second room, where they were shackled. There was one man who five officers dragged on the floor – it appeared to me that he was handcuffed – and simply began shocking him with a taser for several minutes continuously. The doors were open and we shouted at the officers to stop shocking him, and saying it was dangerous.

Three or four officers entered our room, shouted at us to shut up, shoved us, and told us to shut our mouths. One of the officers threatened us, “Do you want to be hit? Just try and do something. Do you want to be hit?” and the whole while they continued shocking the man in the hall with a taser. I was scared. The officers stood over him while he was lying on the floor, no less than five of them, and his whole body was shaking from the electric shocks. He did not resist – they continued to shock him with the taser on his upper body. He only screamed in pain.

Throughout the night, for several hours we heard lots of screams from the room the men were in. Both screams of pain and the officers screaming, including cursing. We were all very much shaking, six women, we tried to calm each other. I had my shackles on for hours. Three of us were on benches and three were on the floor. We were all in shock. We were trembling, we did not know what would happen. There was a lot of violence. I wanted to try to be calm. I was scared by I tried to remain calm. Several minutes later we began talking a bit amongst ourselves, trying to make jokes. Our bodies were in pain from the officers hitting us. On (P), (Th) and (D’s) bodies there were lots of scratches and bruises. (P) had two large scratches on her neck and somebody else was bleeding from her wrist.

Everyone had lots of bruises on our bodies. At some point (P) and (Th) stood up for a few minutes. Three officers entered and started shouting again. They told them to sit down, pushed all of us onto the floor, piling onto each other. One (of the officers) was holding a taser and used it to electrically shock us, for no reason, we were a human pile on the floor, and he tasered us. We shouted and we all were very terrified. I was shoved aside and sat on a chair. The officer with the taser approached me and tried to taser me, but accidentally hit my bag. They screamed at us to sit, and we answered that we were sitting, but they continued to shout, beat and curse at us.

According to a testimony published in Electronic Intifada, Thaira Zoabi, another protester arrested at the police station, was spit in the face by a policeman and threatened with rape:

The Israeli forces used [taser guns] and I have bruises on my arms and legs. I saw them open a protester’s mouth by force and spit in it, and they spit in my face as well. They beat us and used massive verbal violence. They did a full body search. While being under custody, a police officer of Ramle district addressed both me and another female activist while being cuffed with verbal sexual harassment, threatening to rape us. I have to admit I burst in tears.

Another woman who was among those arrested, Amany Khalifa, shared this with +972:

This was my first time being arrested, and it was a violent experience, physically, mentally and sexually. As a Palestinian and a female, I felt doubly oppressed by how the male police officers treated us. They said to us: “Dirty Arabs, we’ll show you what Palestine is,” and called us “bitches,” “whores,” and things like this. I clearly heard them threaten us to not even think about protesting again, certainly not within the boundaries of the State of Israel. It is clear the authorities are adamant about silencing any popular resistance, and especially anything inside the 1948 borders.

The activists were released to house arrest for 3 days on Friday after signing release terms of NIS 10,000 each. They are not allowed to speak to one another or anyone else who was at the demonstration for 14 days, or go within 50 meters of the Ramle prison compound. There are various charges filed against them by the police, including incitement, rioting and attacking an officer. There is as of yet no date set regarding the indictment. Meanwhile, Adalah is awaiting a response regarding the two complaints filed.

 

 

 

thanks to:

Infopal
The Electronic Intifada
+972