band annie's Weblog

I have a parallel blog in French at



Haid: Why you need to join Planet Syria

Their Fate is in Our Hands May 17th : 24 hours of hunger in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails

lundi 14 mai 2012, par La Rédaction

Coming Thursday, May 17, will mark a month to the hunger strike, with over 2,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails participating in it. As Israel refuses to accept the prisoners’ demands for their basic rights, including humane treatment, many of them face immediate risk of death as the world watches over in silence.

The prisoners have decided to live in dignity or starve to death in their isolation cells, and a global mobilization is urgently needed to break the deafening silence ! A month into the hunger strike, join a

Global 24-hour hunger strike
In front of Israeli embassies, consulates and UN offices
May 17, 2012

Endorse the Palestinian civil society call for a boycott of G4S due to its complicity in Israel’s violations of Palestinian prisoners’ rights

More than two weeks ago, some 2,000 Palestinian prisoners have launched an open-ended hunger strike and their life is in danger. Their demands are simple and the strike’s slogan, echoing through the prison walls, is just as plain- freedom or death. The lives of all prisoners on strike are currently under danger, but among them is a smaller group, which has been striking for a longer period and whose lives are under immediate threat.

Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab have not eaten for more than 70 days – since the 29th of February. Israeli courts have rejected their appeals and refused to free them from administrative detention where they remain without charge or trial, subject to secret evidence and secret allegations. They are in critical condition.

Hassan Safadi has been refusing food since the 2nd of March, Omar Abu Shalal, 54, since the 4th of March, Mahmoud Sarsak, the only Gazan to have been incarcerated under Israel’s Illegal Combatants Law, since the 24th of March, Mohammed al-Taj, 40, also since the 24th of March and Ja’afar Ezzadeen, 41, since the 27th of march.

The Prisoners’ key demands include :

- Ending the policy of solitary confinement and isolation ;

- End to the use of administrative detentions ;

- The restoration of visitation rights to families of prisoners from the Gaza Strip, a right that has been denied to all families for more than 6 years ;

- Canceling ‘Shalit’ law, which restricts prisoners’ access to educational materials as punitive measure. The law remains intact despite a prisoner swap deal last October ;

- Ending systematic humiliation, including arbitrary strip searches, nightly raids and collective punishment.

Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike have been hit hard with retaliation from Israel Prison Services, including beatings, transferring from one prison to another, confiscation of salt (an act that could have severe health consequences for hunger strikers), denial of family and lawyer visits, and isolation and solitary confinement of hunger strikers.

In response, Human Rights Watch issued a statement chiding Israel’s over its administrative detention policy ; it said, “It shouldn’t take the self-starvation of Palestinian prisoners for Israel to realize it is violating their due process rights.” Amnesty International also issued a call for urgent action from individuals around the world to contact Israeli authorities about Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh.

Emphasizing imprisonment as a critical component of Israel’s system of occupation, colonialism and apartheid practiced against the Palestinian people, Palestinian civil society and human rights organizations have called for intensifying the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to target corporations profiting directly from the Israeli prison system. In particular, we call for action to be taken to hold to account G4S, the world’s largest international security corporation, which helps to maintain and profit from Israel’s prison system, for its complicity with Israeli violations of international law.

Signed :
Popular Struggle Coordinating Committee
Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)



Israeli Soldiers Violently Evict Palestinians from Hebron House

Just like the Syrian Army ….

ALI FERZAT GALLERY: Eight eye-catching cartoons to support beaten Syrian artist

If the pen is mightier than the sword, what is the power — then — of a hundred pens?

Many of the world’s cartoonists are determined to find out.

Last week, Comic Riffs put out an open call to cartoonists: Now is the time for the brethren of the drawing board to pick up their pens and paintbrushes and digital pads in support of Ali Ferzat . This came after Ferzat, Syria’s popular political cartoonist, was adbucted and viciously beaten after criticizing the brutal regime of al-Assad; the photo of Ferzat in bed, his battered hands raised, quickly became as much of a visual lightning rod as a cartoon by Ferzat himself.

In response, Comic Riffs soon heard from many cartoonists, including Politico’s Matt Wuerker — who also represents the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists — and Bill Day of Cagle Cartoons. We also spoke with cartoonist Matt Bors , who helps run the excellent comics-journalism site Cartoon Movement.

Within the comics community, you could sense the groundswell. Commentators the globe over helped beat the drum of outrage, and the U.S. State Department even pointedly condemned the attack. But it was from among cartoonists that eventually sprung the rallying cry: “We Are All Ferzat.”

And from that groundswell, we now have “1000 Ferzats.”

Over the weekend, Comic Riffs began linking to some art within the steady stream of cartoons. Today, we offer a gallery to spotlight eight of the most eye-catching artworks:




The Taiwan-based animation house is, essentially, responding to the cartoonist responders themselves. Featured in this video are some of the actual pro-Ferzat cartoons, including those by the aforementioned Wuerker and Day.



(MATT WUERKER – Politico) Politico’s Pulitzer-Prize finalist was among the first-responders who devoted his deft ink and watercolors to the Ferzat cause.


(BILL DAY – Cagle Cartoons) Day contacted Comic Riffs last Saturday to expressly answer the open call. Since then, his pointed cartoon has deservedly received wide exposure.



(SHERIF ARAFA – Alittihad newspaper) Comic Riffs interviewed the talented Egyptian cartoonist during the Arab Spring, and he continues to be a pen to be reckoned with from his political hot-spot. On the Cartoon Movement comment thread, Arafa wrote: “Ferzat inspired me when I was a child, I owe him a lot.”




(NATE BEELER – Washington Examiner) The Washington Examiner’s gifted cartoonist offers this powerfully rendered work of art.




(TJEERD ROYAARDS – Netherlands / Cartoon Movement) The Amsterdam cartoonist wrote on the Cartoon Movement comment thread: “I actually Googled for cartoons first because I was afraid someone had already thought of this idea…” No, Mr. Royaards — you’re the first we’ve seen to spin the pen/weapon metaphor with such satiric firepower.




(GIACOMO CARDELLI – Italy / Cartoon Movement) The talented Italian writes: “The fall of Bashar al-Asad is only a matter of time (and human lives ).”




(RICK MCKEE – Augusta Chronicle) Through his own line, the Augusta Chronicle cartoonist captures the power of a hundred pens. “We Are All Ferzat,” indeed.

‘Welcome to Palestine’

[This campaign that we have been working very hard on for months is just
beginning.  The week of activities will go on with all your help. We will
plan bigger and more dramatic events in the months to come.  The collusion
of the governments and corporations in Israeli oxccupation and colonization
must be further exposed.]

‘Welcome to Palestine’ campaign responds to Israel’s denial of entrance to
international visitors who support human rights

Bethlehem and Jerusalem, July 7, 2011 – The Israeli authorities are
escalating attacks on anyone they suspect of participating in the peaceful
events of the ‘Welcome to Palestine’ campaign. Israeli authorities sent
hundreds of names to airline companies telling them to deny travel to
individuals on the list. Several people on the list who had booked flights
were sent letters from airline companies cancelling their reservations
‘based on a request from the Israeli authorities.’ We call on all airline
companies not to accept such provocative, blackmailing, and illegal actions
by the Israeli government. Ominously, Israeli Prime minister has directed
the interior security minister that the Israeli authorities must ‘act with
determination’ towards those who do make it to Ben Gurion Airport.

The visitors coming from the US and Europe on Friday are committed to the
principles of international and humanitarian law and believe strictly in
nonviolence. They were invited by dozens of Palestinian civil society
organizations and groups.  They have stated that the only way to visit and
work with Palestinians is by passing through Israeli border controls. They
have declared their commitment to pass these border controls in an orderly,
peaceful and fully transparent way.

Before stepping onto the airplanes, the visitors will have passed through
meticulous security procedures at the various airports of origin and will
pose no threat in any way. The propaganda efforts to paint human rights
advocates as ‘hooligans’ and even ‘violent’ (an attempt to demonize and
dehumanize them in order to justify violence against them) is simply not
credible and indeed ridiculous. We are pleased that this episode further
exposes Israeli policies towards anything or anyone relating to
‘Palestinians’ as dictatorial, racist, and criminal and not complying with
basic elements of democracy or human rights.

Visitors traveling between countries have rights under international law and
bilateral travel agreements. Our foreign visitors insist that they must be
treated with respect in the same manner Israeli citizens receive when
traveling to their countries.  Those who had reservations cancelled will
exercise their right of protest including bringing legal cases in their own
countries. We will also bring legal cases in Israeli courts under our
continued attempt to expose the racist policies of the Israeli government.

Several peaceful protests will be held at airports throughout Europe on the
8th of July and we urge all civilized people throughout the world to protest
these undemocratic moves to silence free speech and legal travel. We ask the
media to insist on access and fair reporting on Israeli tactics that are
against basic human rights of international solidarity activists before,
during and after they arrive at the Israeli airport. We demand Israel
publishes all instructions given to their ‘border control officials’
regarding visitors who intend to visit Palestinians.

The “Welcome to Palestine” campaign has been successful in exposing Israeli
attempts to isolate and imprison Palestinians and prevent international
visitors from coming to find out what is really happening on the ground.

Friday 8 July 2011 at 10 AM in Bethlehem Peace Center, located in Nativity
Square, we will have a Press Conference to announce further steps we will
take and to answer any questions.

Twitter: #PalSpring
Facebook: Welcome to Palestine

Contact information:
Bethlehem: Fadi Kattan,   +970 (0) 595
754 100 <file:///\\tel\%252B970%20%25280%2529%20595%20754%20100>  or Skype

Jerusalem: Nikki or Laura, , +972 2 624 1159 or +972 2
624 1424

Berlin: Sophia Deeg,, +49(0) 30 88 007761
<file:///\\tel\%252B49%25280%2529%2030%2088%20007761> , +49 (0) 1799878414
<file:///\\tel\%252B49%20%25280%2529%201799878414> .  13:00  Press briefing;
beginning 13:30 news center, including (if possible) direct contact with the
travelers as they land at Ben Gurion airport.  Filmbühne am Steinplatz,
Hardenbergstr. 12, Berlin Charlottenburg.

Paris:  Nicolas Shahshahani, +33 (0)1 42 94 39
94 <file:///\\tel\%252B33%20%25280%25291%2042%2094%2039%2094>  and +33 (0) 6
73 38 24 84 <file:///\\tel\%252B33%20%25280%2529%206%2073%2038%2024%2084> .
The press office will answer questions from the media around the clock.

UK: Sofiah Macleod,, +44 (0)131 620 0052
<file:///\\tel\%252B44%20%25280%2529131%20620%200052>  or + 44 (0)
7401631658 <file:///\\tel\%252B%2044%20%25280%2529%207401631658> , Skype:

USA/Germany: Elsa Rassbach,, +49 (0) 30 326 01540
<file:///\\tel\%252B49%20%25280%2529%2030%20326%2001540> , +49 (0) 170 738
1450 <file:///\\tel\%252B49%20%25280%2529%20170%20738%201450> , Skype:


AlJazeera English Story:

Challenging Israeli Apartheid Staring at Ben Gurion airport


Mazin Qumsiyeh, Ph.D.

Pro-Palestinian activists stopped in Paris

Security dragnet prompted by Israeli release of list of blacklisted passengers to European carriers.
A pro-Palestine activist at Charles De Gaulle Airport holds a sign that reads: “Hinderance to free movement. On what grounds?” [Reuters]

Nearly 100 French activists en route to Israel have been stopped from boarding their flights by French authorities in Paris.

Stranded at Charles De Gaulle Airport, the activists have staged a protest denouncing the French authorities’ action.

“They have staged a noisy protests at the airport, shouting ‘Collaborators, collaborators!’ to condemn the French authorities for their action,” our correspondent said on Friday.

The Welcome to Palestine movement includes an estimated 600 people and around half of the activists destined for the West Bank town of Bethlehem are reportedly French nationals.

Al Jazeera’s Cal Perry, reporting from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion international airport, said: “Across airports in Europe, we understand that a blacklist of passengers has been released. The Israelis are asking airlines to stop people from boarding planes. But the Israelis are saying those people will be deported anyway.”

View Al Jazeera’s in depth coverage

Earlier Israel deployed 600 additional police officers at the already heavily guarded Ben Gurion airport and asked European airlines to bar “potential troublemakers” from Tel Aviv-bound flights in anticipation of the arrival of hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists.

Following the warnings, “the companies have already refused to take on board around 200 of these passengers”, Sabine Hadad, an Israeli immigration spokeswoman, told the AFP news agency.

Two US activists who had arrived overnight were sent back to the US, she said.

Eight activists were blocked from boarding a Malev Airlines flight in Paris on Thursday.

Philippe Arnaud, one of those turned away, has led calls to boycott Israeli products in France.

He said Malev, a Hungarian airline, showed him a list provided by Israeli authorities of some 329 people being barred from Israel, which holds complete control over who can enter and exit the West Bank.

Organisers of the “Welcome to Palestine” movement, which some describe as a “flytilla” in reference to a parallel maritime protest flotilla, say they hope to spend a week visiting Palestinian families.

Expected to arrive in Israel late on Thursday and on Friday, the activists say they are on a peaceful mission to draw attention to the plight of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.

Cautious measures

Israel has been wary of entanglement with foreign activists since its naval commandos attacked passengers aboard an international Gaza-bound flotilla last year, killing nine people.

Micky Rosenfeld, the Israeli police spokesman, said officers deployed at Ben Gurion airport have been prepared to deal with scenarios such as airport officials being attacked or activists settings themselves on fire.

Our correspondent earlier reported from Jerusalem that Israel aimed to counter the activists with an equivalent number of additional airport police.

“Six hundred-nine hundred people is generally the number people think are going to come in. [Israeli authorities] say they have the names of half,” Perry said.

Israel is known for its strict airline security, beginning with check-ins on incoming flights and officials claim they have sophisticated intelligence procedures in place to identify potential threats.

It remains unclear how many activists would be denied entry after landing at the airport.

Israel says it will not stop people because of their political beliefs and that it will bar people who plan to carry out illegal or violent acts.

Rosenfeld said airport facilities could hold as many as 80 detainees, and that any overflow would be sent to a prison in southern Israel.

European activists

The airborne activists have denied any direct connection with the latest attempt to breach the Gaza blockade, which appears to have largely fizzled out this week after flotilla ships were held up by mysterious malfunctions and refusal by Greek authorities to let the vessels set sail from its ports.

Organisers of the flights to Tel Aviv say their people will tour the West Bank in solidarity with the Palestinians.

Some, the organisers said, would take part in routine Friday protests against Israel in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

In Europe, German federal police said as long as passengers had valid tickets and passports, they had no grounds to stop any activists at airports there.

But German authorities also said that German citizens of Palestinian descent would not be allowed into Israel.

The vast majority of Palestinians are barred from using Israel’s airport.

Two German airlines, flagship carrier Lufthansa and Air Berlin, said on Thursday they received lists of people from Israel who are not allowed into the country.

“[Lufthansa] is obliged not to transport any passengers who do not hold valid entry permits or whose entry into the respective state has been denied by local authorities beforehand as in this case,” Patrick Meschenmoser, a company spokesman, said on Thursday.

Yigal Palmor, spokesman for Israel’s foreign ministry, confirmed that the list had been made available to carriers, who are liable to repatriate at their own expense passengers refused entry at their destination.

“The organisers did not come with any intention of demonstrating at the airport or doing anything like that,” Mazin Qumsiyeh, a Palestinian-American professor, said.

“Israeli authorities made the mistake of mobilising security on people who are obviously not a security threat.”

Welcome to Palestine

Press Release 2: “Welcome to Palestine” Organizers decry Israeli propaganda
efforts and threats of mass deportation

Bethlehem and Jerusalem 5 July 2011–The organizers of the “Welcome to
Palestine” initiative decry the numerous attempts by Israeli and other media
to distort our message and planned activities.  There were messages claiming
that we are attempting to reach Gaza by going to Lod Airport (aka Ben Gurion
airport) on July 8. Some claimed that this initiative came after the
flotilla was blocked. Others claimed our visitors want to disrupt things at
the airport and some even claimed they will try to take over planes. These
claims and many others being circulated are false; we urge media not to
disseminate false statements.

As stated in our first press release: we invited international guests,
including families, to visit us in Palestine.  We hope and expect the
Israeli authorities to allow them safe passage in compliance with
International law and normal diplomatic bilateral protocols. We also reject
the Israeli government threat to engage in mass deportation of peace
activists and the apparent attempt justify this unjustifiable action by
using rumors that they spread.

We are accessible to the media and encourage them to speak with the actual
organizers and participants of this peaceful initiative.  Journalists will
be flying with us, and we encourage more  journalists to join us and to
report on what actually happens (without innuendos and propaganda efforts –
Israeli hasbara).

Our visitors are coming to Palestine with a nonviolent approach to peace
building and conflict resolution, with full respect of the universal
declaration of human rights. We urge the Israeli authorities to allow the
journalists to have access to our participants and to report the true story
of “Welcome to Palestine.”

Inviting Palestinians and internationals to join us is our right as people
under colonial occupation who yearn to be free.

Some journalists are flying with our visitors and we invite all journalists
who want to exercise their right to free press to fly in of the 8th of July
to Palestine.

We will have a press conference Friday July 8 at 10 AM at the Bethlehem
Peace Center in Bethlehem.


Press Release from the European group is posted at

نتنياهو في مطار بن غوريون يُعد لخطة احباط وصول نشطاء السلام

Xinhua agency Report
AFP Report

Israel to expel pro-Palestinian airport protesters

نتنياهو في مطار بن غوريون يُعد لخطة احباط وصول نشطاء

الشرطة الاسرائيلية ترفع حالة التأهب في مطار بن غوريون بعد أنباء عن وصول
نشطاء سلام

جلسة تشاورية للحكومة الاسرائيلية في مطار “بن غوريون” قبل وصول المتضامنين
> &Language=ar

Challenging Israeli apartheid, starting at Ben Gurion Airport

Mazin Qumsiyeh, Ph.D.




Nearly 600 women, men and children, among whom more than 350 French citizens, will fly to the West Bank next Friday 8 July, in answer to the call from 15 West Bank Palestinian civil society organizations.

The aim is to show that, if our governments do not seem to be interested in the fate of these people who have been under occupation for far too long, there are men and women from all countries, who are ready to bring them moral support, using a week of their holidays to go and meet them.

In order to go to Bethlehem, we have no other choice than first landing at Tel Aviv airport, since the only Palestinian airport was destroyed by Israel in the early 2000’s. We know that the internationals who go to Palestine are very often subjected to arbitrary, indeed criminal practices, when they are not turned back, which often leads them to lie on the reasons of their journey.

However, all the French, Belgian, British, German, Italian and American participants decided of one accord that, having nothing to hide, and coming with totally peaceful intentions, they would inform the Israeli authorities of our wish to go to the West Bank immediately after our arrival at Tel Aviv airport.

We then duly informed the French Foreign Office who forwarded the information to the Israeli authorities.

They therefore know perfectly well that we are not coming “to spread chaos at Tel Aviv airport” – contrary to claims by certain agencies, only to pay a visit to Palestinian families, share their daily life for a week, visit the towns, villages and refugee camps, discover the difficulties encountered by their inhabitants, also their culture and their expectations.

Our programme includes in particular exchanges with the Al-Rowwad Centre of the Aïda refugee camp (Bethlehem), help with olive tree planting around Ramallah, also a solidarity visit to the organizers of the Jenin Freedom Theatre whose manager, Juliano Meir Khamis, was brutally assassinated recently.

We strongly stress that we campaign for a just peace and for the freedom and security of both the Palestinian and the Israeli people. Such a peace necessarily means the end of the occupation of the Palestinian Territories and the respect of international law. There are many Israelis who share this point of view.

We are leaving with our passports in order. We are not carrying anything dangerous. We often come as families and we are ready to submit to the controls in force in all the airports of the world. However, we refuse both arbitrary practices, we mean without any connection with anyone’s security, and humiliation.

More information on :

July in Palestine

Hundreds of Internationals and Hundreds of Palestinians Gear-up for July
8-16 activities

Some 40 Palestinian civil society organizations, popular resistance
committees, and political factions announce the “Welcome to Palestine”
initiative July 8-16 where hundreds of Internationals will work with
hundreds of Palestinians for Peace.  The hundreds of men, women, and
children will arrive July 8 at the Lod Airport. The international community
must recognize the basic human right to receive visitors from abroad and
support the right of their own citizens to travel to Palestine without
harassment. Where Israel works to isolate us, we invite all to join with us
openly and proudly. We do not accept the attempts to keep us apart or to
force us to speak less than with full honesty.

This July initiative comes in a planned series of events and follows similar
events carried out in December under the slogan of “ending apartheid and
ethnic cleansing.” The week of activities starts on July 9 because that is
the anniversary of the International Court of Justice ruling about the
illegality of the Settlements and the apartheid wall in the occupied
Palestinian Territories and the anniversary of the Palestinian Civil Society
Call to Action: 7/9 Ramallah area, 10/9 Bethlehem area, 11/9 North, 12/9
Hebron and Jordan Valley, 13/9 Neqab, 14-15/9 Jerusalem.

The July “Welcome to Palestine” initiative will take participants
(Palestinians and Internationals) to different parts of Palestine from the
north to the Negev and highlight the power of nonviolence and peace building
efforts. Visitors will be accommodated locally and will enjoy Palestinian
hospitality and a program of networking, fellowship, and volunteer peace
work in Palestinian towns and villages together with hundreds of local

The full program of activities is available for credentialed media outlets.
Volunteers and participants are needed and welcome.  Some news stories that
already appeared on this are linked below.

Blog at

Up ↑