Latest news


Update – 6 March 2009

Dear All,

Last July we saw a new type of terror attack in Jerusalem. These attacks are carried out on bulldozers in busy streets, and in one instance, three people were killed while dozens more were injured. For the terrorist, these attacks are far more easy and simple to carry out because they do not require the advanced planning and training that suicide bombing attacks involve. The attacks have been carried out by East Jerusalem residents with Israeli identity cards, who are able to move easily around the city without detection.

Yesterday another attack of the same nature was carried out; this time the bulldozer drive overturned a police car and rammed it into a bus. Two police officers were lightly wounded. In the aftermath, the bulldozer driver was shot dead.

The attack was praised by Hamas, while a representative from Fatah dubbed the attack a “traffic accident” and demanded an investigation as to why the driver was shot (see more).

If you follow our local media you will not read about this story. Nor would you be reading much about the continuous rocket attacks on the south of Israel. This is despite the fact that the Gaza War of December/January was fought because Hamas refused to stop rocket attacks into Israel. In the week until 3 March 2009 25 rockets had hit western Negev, up from the 12 that had hit the region the week before (see more). Since then, even more rockets have been fired, including six on Thursday, with one rocket damaging a synagogue in Netivot (see more).

Meanwhile, both the Australian and the Age are reporting on Hilary Clinton’s visit to the region. The Age has a story entitled ‘Clinton urges Israel to let more aid into Gaza Strip’ while the Australian offers ‘Clinton calls for Israeli restraint’. Both articles refer to a statement by Clinton regarding Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes where she stated “Clearly this kind of activity is unhelpful and not in keeping with obligations entered into under the road map.” She was also critical of Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank.

The freezing of all settlement activity was indeed a condition of the Roadmap laid out by the “Quartet” in 2003. However, this was required to follow the implementation of Phase I of the Road Map which stated:

“Palestinian leadership issues unequivocal statement reiterating Israel’s right to exist in peace and security and calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire to end armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere. All official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel”.

Without wishing to enter a debate on the settlement issue and whether, in fact, Israel is in breach of such obligations under the Road Map, it should be clear to all that six years down the track, the Palestinians have yet to honour the obligations inherent in the first set of the Road Map.

Both newspapers have also placed an emphasis on Clinton’s call for Israel to permit more aid into to Gaza, which is a reasonable request but neither mention why the Israelis, and the Egyptians for that matter, are reluctant to open the borders. Neither discusses the rebuilding of tunnels into Gaza, used for the purpose of bringing in more weapons and rockets. Neither talks about Clinton’s other statements such as the one on 2 March where she declared, “I have to confess I am troubled by the continuing rocket attacks coming out of Gaza, 15 to 18 rockets in the last several days. We call upon all parties to move towards a durable ceasefire, but it is very difficult for any country to just sit and take rockets falling on its people. That is the crux of the Israeli problem. How are they supposed to respond when they continue to have that kind of attack?” (see more)

The Age today also carried a report entitled ‘Conflict puts health of Palestinians at risk’ (online: ‘Gaza conflict stunts children’s growth’). A series of articles published by medical magazine The Lancet conclude that “the occupation, the recent conflict in Gaza and inter-Palestinian fighting are undermining the health and development of the population.” The article talks about infant mortality rates, stunted growth and infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and points the blame on the conflict with the Israelis, stating that the absence of Palestinian control over water, land and the environment makes public health strategies more complication.

Of the report, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev declared, “This propaganda in the guise of a medical report.” He continued, “How much of this is because of Hamas’s regime. Instead of investing in public health, they’ve invested in violence and conflict.” (see more)

In my last update I talked about the upcoming anti-racism conference dubbed “Durban II” and how at that stage the United States were still attending. A State Department spokesperson had stated “If you are not engaged, you don’t have a voice (see more).” Last week the US did an about face and decided they will not be attending. After a delegation attended a planning meeting in the hopes of having an affect on the document, the US released a statement on February 27 declaring:

“The document being negotiated has gone from bad to worse, and the current text of the draft outcome document is not salvageable. As a result, the United States will not engage in further negotiations on this text, not will we participated in a conference based on this text. A conference based on this text would be a missed opportunity to speak clearly about the persistent problem of racism (see more)”.

Yesterday Italy became the latest country to declare they will not be participating in the conference out of fears the event is being used as an anti-Israel forum (see more). Other members of the EU, such as the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany, could follow suit after they came in front of the UN Human Rights Council declaring that the event is being used by Muslim countries to not only single out Israel but to try shield Islam from criticism by enacting a law about it.

Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen said he was “deeply disturbed” and declared that “the thematic world conference is used by some to try to force their concept of defamation of religions and their focus on one regional conflict on all of us.” He continued, “We cannot accept any text, which would put religion above individuals, not condemn discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, condone anti-Semitism or single out Israel (see more)”. One can only hope that Australia will follow on from the European example and also refuse to participate.

Best wishes,

Emily Chrapot
Israel Advocacy Analyst
Zionist Council of Victoria
9272 5507