Monthly Archives: October 2014

Trading under siege: the dying export industry in the Gaza Strip

Corporate Watch researchers visited the Gaza Strip during November and December 2013 and carried out interviews with farmers in Beit Hanoun, Al Zaytoun, Khuza’a, Al Maghazi and Rafah, as well as with representatives from Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), Palestine Crops and the Gaza Agricultural Co-operative in Beit Lahiya. This is the second of two articles highlighting what their experiences show: that Palestinians in Gaza face significant and diverse difficulties when it comes to farming their land and harvesting and exporting their produce under siege, and that Israel enforces what amounts to a de facto boycott of produce from the Gaza Strip. The first article, about farmers’ experiences of working the land in Gaza, can be found here.

A dependent economy

“The Israeli occupation allows us to export a small quantity of produce, just to show the world that they are nice to the Palestinians, but they are using us. Everything we do is controlled by them”

Saad Ziada, Union of Agricultural Work Committees

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A queue of goods vehicles approaching the Karam Abu Salem goods crossing in the Gaza Strip. Photo by Corporate Watch December 2013

As a result of economic agreements made during the period of the 1993 Oslo Accords, the Palestinian economy as a whole has become totally dependent on Israel. The Paris Protocol, signed in 1994, is an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority which outlines the economic relations between the two in the areas of customs, taxes, labour, agriculture, industry and tourism. In theory the protocol was meant to facilitate the free movement of goods, including agricultural produce, and give Palestinians access to international markets, but in practice it has worked as a basis for consolidating Israeli domination of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Whilst Israel benefits from tax free access to markets in the Occupied Territories, Palestinian exports are strictly controlled by Israel and can only be carried out through Israeli companies, hence benefiting the economy of the occupier.

When it comes to the Gaza Strip, the situation for Palestinians is even worse. Since the tightening of the siege in 2007, Israel has implemented a de facto economic boycott of Gaza, with no industrial goods and a minimal amount of agricultural exports being allowed through the Israeli controlled Karam Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) goods crossing only. The Karni (or Al Montar) crossing, which was established as a main terminal in 1994 to facilitate the transfer of goods between the Gaza Strip and Israel, was closed permanently in 2011 as the siege intensified. Before the closure the crossing had been effectively non-operational since Hamas’ takeover of the Strip in 2007, only running a skeleton service through a conveyor belt transporting gravel and animal feed. The Rafah crossing to Egypt is completely closed for exports from Gaza.

Since 2007 farmers in Gaza have been prohibited from selling their produce to Israel and the West Bank, traditionally their biggest markets. Continue reading

Palestinian women’s union calls for a boycott of Israel

In December 2013, Corporate Watch interviewed Taghrid Jooma of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC) about the union’s work in Gaza and its view of the international movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions. A video interview with Taghrid is embedded below, to view the video with English subtitles hover over the bottom of the video and click subtitles/cc.

Taghrid told us that “UPWC was established in 1981 in the West Bank to advocate for women’s issues – economic, social and political. It has 3500 members in Gaza. It is a part of the General Union of Palestinian Workers (GUPW), affiliated to the Palestine Liberation Organisation. Continue reading

Palestinian students call for Barclays boycott over Elbit investment

Barclays stop arming Israel demoPalestinian students have made this call for students around the world to stop banking with Barclays:

The Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI), a group of Palestinian students in Gaza dedicated to the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign of Israel and the global justice movement for Palestinian justice and liberty, respectfully call on students around the world to stop banking with Barclays until Barclays divests from and ceases trading in shares in Elbit Systems, the major Israeli military company and drone manufacturer. Continue reading

Life beneath the drones: Part four – ‘We do not need just words’

The scene in Zaytoun after the attack by an Israeli F-16, November 2012, photo courtesy of the Abu Zor family

The scene in Zaytoun after the attack by an Israeli F-16, November 2012, photo courtesy of the Abu Zor family

Click here to read parts one, two and three.

This article tells the story of the Abu Zor family, who lost three family members after the Israeli military fired on their neighbourhood from a drone and F-16. Their story shows that Israel’s practice of firing a warning shot from a drone before destroying homes does not prevent deaths of people not involved in fighting. The family want action from solidarity campaigners against the companies manufacturing the weapons that were used to target them.

Corporate Watch interviewed the Abu Zor family at their ruined home in the Zeitoun district of Gaza City. Their house had been destroyed in an Israeli F16 attack on 19th November 2012. The bombing came at 3am in the morning during the Israeli attack known as ‘Operation Pillar of Cloud’, which killed 255 Palestinians in eight days. According to the Gaza based Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights 201 out of 255 of these people were killed by attacks from Israeli drones. When we met them in December 2013 they were still in the process of rebuilding their home.

As we speak to Hamad and Mohammed Abu Zor, their children gather to listen to the conversation. We learn that many of these children lost their mothers in the attack. We are encouraged to look at their scars and feel the soft patches in their skulls where they were crushed when the house’s roof caved in on them, as if the family need to impress the reality of what happened on us. For these young children, as for many people in Gaza,  being involved in telling the story of how they saw their loved ones killed has become a normal occurrence. A duty to make people aware of the real story of what happened to them.

Roof-knocking

Before the attack the Israeli army had fired on the neighbourhood with a drone, supposedly to warn people to leave the area. This practice of firing a warning shot from a drone has become known as ‘roof-knocking’. In reality, roof-knocking is not really a way to protect life, but simply a way for Israeli commanders to avoid accountability by claiming that they did all they could to warn civilians.

In fact these ‘roof knockings’ are an added danger to those beneath the bombs and are not effective as a warning. In the Abu Zor family’s case it had fatal consequences. Continue reading

Planting hope in Palestine through BDS

We will be participating in Sumud Palestine’s ‘Planting hope in Palestine’ conference in Stoke on Trent.

Tom Anderson will be giving a talk and workshops on the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign.

‘Planting hope in Palestine’ is a one-day conference on Saturday, 25 October from 9.45 to 5.00 pm at Burslem School of Art at Queen Street, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent ST6 3EJ

Stop arming Israel – Workshop at the Anarchist Bookfair

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At least 800 major drone strikes were carried out during Israel’s 2014 attacks on Gaza while drones caused the most deaths during the attack on Gaza in 2012.

The Israeli drone industry is profitable as well as deadly. Israeli companies have sold drone technology to over 50 countries around the world. Israeli company Elbit is developing a British drone for the UK military.

Come and hear the stories of survivors of Israeli drone attacks and find out how you can join the campaign to make sure Elbit don’t profit any further from the bloodshed they have caused in Gaza.