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Palestinian Farmers face difďŹ culties with Olive harvest

Israel puts pressure on UK to change laws

Gaza students denied the right to education

Aqsa

Gaza running out of vital supplies

Quarterly Issue 35 January 2008

Israel Commits War Crimes in Gaza For Free Distribution

N E W S

The complete closure of the Gaza Strip from the outside world has resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe which is being ignored by the international community. Only a few hundred of the 1.5 New born babies million residents of the strip are at great risk have been allowed to leave as hospitals lack since June 2007. The hospitals no longer have vital medicines, lifesaving equipment. food and essentials are in short supply and over 80% of the Israel has refused to allow population are reliant on food many patients to pass the borders, denying them their hand outs. right to health and as a result Those suffering the greatest between June and the end of are medical patients who are November, 44 patients had in desperate need of treatment died. Most of these deaths which is only available in were avoidable. neighbouring countries. 8 year old Amir Shaher

Abdallah El-Yazji had the necessary permits to enter Israel for treatment for a suspected brain tumour. He was denied passage through the border crossing despite 4 attempts. Amir died in a Gaza hospital after losing consciousness.

treated in the besieged Gaza Strip. Many Palestinians with treatable illnesses now face a bleak future as Israel continues to deny passage of goods and people. Many medicines and supplies have been prevented from reaching Gaza as Israel denies they are humanitarian necessities. An assertion than Amir’s death came a week many would disagree with. after a 6 month old infant was denied entry to Israel The Gaza Ministry of for urgent medical treatment, Health has appealed to the and died as a result of kidney International Community to failure which could not be take immediate action to put

an end to this catastrophe which threatens the health sector with total collapse. To make matters worse, the Fatah government led by Abbas in the West Bank is calling on all medical professionals to go on strike in the Gaza Strip. Those who fail to do so are having their wages withheld. This has resulted in even deeper animosity from most Palestinians towards President Abbas.


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IN BRIEF Amnesty International reiterates Israel’s obligations

Peace talks at Annapolis

In a recent statement, Amnesty International reiterated the international law position on Israel’s obligations over the Gaza Strip. Israel, as the occupying power, is prohibited from imposing collective punishment or reprisals on the Palestinian population. Israel is ultimately responsible for ensuring the welfare of the 1.5 million Palestinians who live in the Gaza Strip where Israel controls all the land borders, air space and territorial water. Amnesty confirmed that Israeli officials’ contention that Israel is no longer bound by the laws of occupation since it redeployed its forces to the perimeter of the Gaza Strip is simply a fallacy.

The obvious deficiencies with the gathering included the absence of Hamas, who represent a large portion of Palestinian people. President Abbas, who is deeply unpopular with Palestinians, has been intensely criticized for attempting to curb what little freedoms the Palestinians enjoy under occupation, by banning protests against the Annapolis gathering. Despite this, wide protests still occurred, although they were violently broken up by Abbas’s security forces.

The agreement reached at Annapolis was for further peace talks to take place over the course of 2008. However, many doubt whether anything will be achieved due to the inconsistency between the words being spoken and On Tuesday 27 November 2007, the US hosted a the events being played out in the occupied territories. conference in Annapolis, Maryland, bringing together 8 Palestinians were killed while the conference took the Israelis and the Palestinians in an effort to begin new place, and the entire Gaza community continued to live Police in Gaza use excessive force peace negotiations. Over 40 states were present for the under siege. Despite inflicting such deep suffering, Israel against Arafat rally participants pre-negotiations conference, although the one day affair continued to demand recognition of itself as a racist state was seen by many as little more than time for delivering to the exclusion of all its non-Jewish citizens. The Gaza police force have been accused a few speeches and a photo opportunity for unpopular by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights politicians. of using excessive force and indiscriminate gun fire against participants at the third year anniversary rally following the death of Yasser Arafat. Many Fatah supporters were injured in the clashes, and 8 people died.

Manchester University students defy racist anti-Palestinian motion

On 14 November 2007, the Manchester Students Union strengthened its commitment to Palestinian rights to education by voting in favour of twinning with An-Najah Hamas fighting back ‘like an University (ANU) with almost a two-thirds majority. army’ This defied the motion titled ‘Peace Through Education’ As the Israeli Occupation Forces continue to which was proposed in order to undermine the twinning, bomb and attack Gaza, killing Palestinians and was opposed by many on the grounds that it was a indiscriminately, Hamas is reportedly racist motion stereotyping Palestinians as terrorists and putting up a strong counter-attack. Hamas accusing ANU of actively supporting terrorism. This is opposing Israel’s almost daily incursions into the Gaza Strip in an orchestrated way caused great indignation amongst Manchester’s student and has inflicted damage including the population. The writers of the motion had also cited an destruction of military hardware and the unreliable website as a resource which included many killing of Israeli soldiers. Israeli journalist, inaccuracies and racist quotes. Amos Harel, has reported that the IOF are no longer facing an untrained guerrilla force but that Hamas is now better equipped and trained and “fighting like and army”’

One student who attended the meeting said, “The motion shows that the racism against the Palestinians is one of the

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Manchester Students Union continues to support the Palestinian right to education which they believe is clearly being denied by the Israeli occupation policies which include shelling educational establishments, shooting at students, denying students and teachers passage through checkpoints, and closures which prevent schools and universities from opening. This move was intended to help break the isolation imposed on the Palestinian people, and follows moves by many UK universities to twin with Palestinian universities.

2,700 Gaza students denied the right to education

Academic Boycott Debate held in Following the complete closure of Canada the Gaza Strip on 10th June 2007, approximately 2,700 students have Students at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, were the recent additions to the been denied the right to travel abroad Boycott Israel debate. Their first debate to their universities and colleges and was held at the university to a packed hall continue their studies. Many of these of students, academics and community students were in the Gaza Strip during members on November 28. This was the the summer with their families and first time that such a debate was held on a Canadian campus with the explicit support are now trapped within the densely of the university administration, and signals populated area unable to leave. a major success for the anti-apartheid movement in Canada.

last forms of acceptable racism. If we had been twinned with a black university during apartheid in South Africa and they had been given them the ultimatum asking them to condemn gun crime there would have been international outrage, and rightly so.”

Over 7,500 Gazans are waiting to leave the Gaza Strip to return to work, studies or other commitments internationally. Israel is denying them all the freedom of movement to do this, and is effectively holding them prisoners with the rest of the residents of Gaza. Those trapped include Elham Akram Rajab who usually lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with her husband and

children. She had travelled to Gaza with her 3 children to spend the summer with her family for the first time in 4 years. The children missed the start of their school year on 8th September 2007. In addition, her exit visa from Saudi Arabia expired in November,

placing her under threat of losing her residency in Saudi Arabia and being cut off from her husband. This miserable situation has been continuing for months with no end in site.


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Israel openly ‘Judaising’ Jerusalem

IN BRIEF Most notably, this move demonstrates that Israel will not allow the Palestinians to have East Jerusalem as the capital of any future state if a two state solution is negotiated. In preparation for this, since 1967, Israel has steadily built a ring of illegal settlements around East Jerusalem, and these now totally isolate East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. There are 240,000 Palestinians living in Jerusalem but they endure strict regulations, which control the amount of land they live on, building policies, the denial of the right to family re-unification, amongst others. There is also now a deliberate drive to move extremist Israeli settlers into Arab neighbourhoods. Reports suggest millions of dollars of US money is being poured into settling Jews into Arab neighbourhoods in Jerusalem, most notably the Silwan district.

The Israeli parliament has granted preliminary approval Amongst these extremist settlers are deeply racist elements of a bill which seeks to permanently incorporate East who advocate the Old City being free of all non-Jews and Jerusalem as part of Israel. the building of the ‘Temple’ on the site of the Al-Aqsa This is illegal under international law as the fourth Geneva sanctuary. Thus, while Israeli politicians continue to talk Convention prohibits a country from annexing any part about a Palestinian state, they are simultaneously acting of the land which they are occupying militarily. United to make that an impossibility.

Israel puts pressure on to change laws Gaza running out of vital UK Israel’s Public Security Israel has made it clear Minister Avi Dichter that it finds this situation supplies cancelled a planned visit to ‘intolerable’.

Nations Resolutions have also prohibited this move by Israel.

1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are now suffering from acute shortage of basic supplies. Hospitals are reporting zero stock availability of paediatric drugs and antibiotics, as well as a shortage in chronic disease drugs, cancer treatment drugs, a range of kidney dialysis drugs and IV glucose solution. In addition, there are also shortages of kidney dialysis machine equipment. Thus, as expected, dozens of patients with treatable illnesses have died and will continue to die in the coming months unless the siege ends. Overall, according to the United Nations Office for Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, 91 drugs are no longer available in hospitals. The international blockade of Gaza has also led to shortages in many types of foodstuffs, and soaring prices for what is available. A bag of flour used to cost 80 shekels

and now costs over 200 the UK over fears that he would be arrested on war shekels. crimes charges. British law Other goods such as allows private citizens to building materials are no file complaints for alleged longer available and even war crimes. fuel supplies are becoming scarce. The impact of Dichter was one of the fuel shortages affect planners behind the 2002 every aspect of life, from assassination of Saleh basic cooking; running Shehada, a Hamas military of hospitals and schools; leader. Israel dropped a 1 purifying, sterilising and tonne bomb on his house pumping water; running killing him, his wife and 3 garbage collection trucks children, his bodyguard and and ambulances, and much other civilians including a more. As fuel becomes further 6 children. This was increasingly scarce, the condemned by the world. price of fuel is shooting Dichter’s visit was called up. off after the UK government Gaza’s economy has had been unable to guarantee collapsed following the him immunity against mass closure of industries private citizens’ complaints including factories in leading to an arrest warrant the wood, clothing, for war crimes. food, construction and agricultural sectors. More than 800,000 Gazan’s, more than half the population, have lost their jobs and their abilities to provide for their families. This was the direct result of border closures which have prevented raw materials passing through.

In 2005, an Israeli exgeneral Doron Almog who was also involved in the Shehada assassination, narrowly avoided arrest in London. He was warned of the impending arrest by Israeli Diplomats who boarded his plane before he had disembarked. He avoided arrest by returning to Israel without getting off the plane. After the Almog incident, Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni asked British judicial authorities to review laws allowing magistrates to issue such arrest warrants. This request was made once again during Foreign Secreatary David Millibands recent visit to Israel.

Palestinian women held prisoner Israel continues to detain Palestinian women as political prisoners, and at present, approximately 120 women are being detained and treated as criminals. They are subjected to regular body searches, sexual harassment, solitary confinement, being prevented from going outside regularly, cell searches and confiscation of personal belongings and attacks including the use of tear gas in cells occur regularly.

Disabled Palestinians not spared oppressive policies 3rd December marked UN International Day of Disabled Persons (IDoDP) and this day was used by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights to highlight the suffering of Palestine’s disabled citizens. Israel’s human rights violations were said to have caused a deterioration in the conditions of the wounded, which has raised the number of disabled Palestinians to high levels. The services available to the disabled are abysmal due to the general poverty which now exists in the occupied territories.

Security Chaos in Gaza The closure of Gaza has led to a precarious security situation for its civilians. Gun crimes are now rife and street violence has increased. Such a situation was widely foreseen by experts due to the strain being put on the population by the Israeli closure.

Iranian Holocaust Drama Iranian state television is running a drama series called “Zero Degree Turn” which depicts the story of an Iranian who helped Jews escape Nazism during WWII. It has proved to be a huge hit in Iran, challenging the view that Iran and anti-Semitism are indistinguishable.

Lobby of Parliament Day 2007 November 29th marked the UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people. Friends of Al-Aqsa worked in conjunction with numerous Palestine solidarity organisations to make November 28th a Lobby of Parliament day in Britain. This was an opportunity for members of the public to lobby their MPs on the issue of Palestine and bring to their attention the facts about the occupation policies. The lobby was intended to change political attitudes and government policies to make a change for Palestine. The lobby day was also used to putt pressure on MPs to sign up to EDM’s and sign motions against the Israeli occupation and to show their support for peace which recognises the interests of the Palestinians as well as the Israelis. The lobby day was successful, attracting around 600 people who had arranged meetings with their MPs. This year encouraged the youngest ever person to lobby parliament – a nine year old boy representing his primary school.


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Message from Friends of Al-Aqsa FoA Activities FoA has been busy raising awareness of the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza and the West Bank over recent months. A number of talks have been held in order to boost the boycott campaign, and ensure the Palestinians are not forgotten. In addition, FoA is producing a number of new bite-size information leaflets including ‘The Right of Return’, ‘Israel’s War Crimes’ and ‘Israel’s Gaza’s 1.5 million people are being Weapons of Mass Destruction’. These starved of all necessities of life, yet in will be available for free distribution. the epitome of cruelty, just enough aid and equipment is being allowed to filter through to its people so that they are not FoA Volunteers (branches) actually dying in large numbers. This Friends of Al-Aqsa branches now ensures that international attention is operate in Leicester (head office), not drawn to Israel’s inhumane actions London, Walsall and Bradford. All yet life is made unbearable for the branches welcome new volunteers to participate in the campaign work. civilians. We are particularly looking for While babies and children die of people to take part in research work, treatable diseases, world leaders met selling merchandise and distributing in Annapolis to talk about peace. The information leaflets. Please contact hypocrisy of the words spoken when info@aqsa.org.uk or call 0116 2125441 compared with the actions being played if you wish to participate. out on the ground in the occupied territories was plain for all to see. 8 Palestinians were killed while the one FoA talks and workshops If you think people in your locality, day conference took place. school, university or other place can In the 40 years since Israel’s occupation benefit from lectures or workshops of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it has on Palestine, contact FoA to make become clear that peace will only be arrangements for a speaker to attend. achieved if both sides feel international Workshops aimed at school children pressure. While Palestinians face daily between the ages of 5-16 are also an scrutiny, the actions of Israel have option, in order to educate them on gone largely un-criticised. Israel needs the basic issues of the conflict and the to feel the pressure of world public importance of Masjid Al-Aqsa. If you opinion and it is important now more would like a workshop at your school, than ever, that we all move to boycott please contact us. Israel. November 29th marked the United Nations’ International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. This was commemorated all over the world by people seeking to show solidarity with the Palestinians in their darkest hour. Gaza has become a humanitarian catastrophe, but the deepest despair of all comes from the world’s apathy to Israel’s war crimes in this strip of land.

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The One State Declaration For decades, efforts to bring about a two-state solution in historic Palestine have failed to provide justice and peace for the Palestinian and Israeli Jewish peoples, or to offer a genuine process leading towards them. The two-state solution ignores the physical and political realities on the ground, and presumes a false parity in power and moral claims between a colonized and occupied people on the one hand and a colonizing state and military occupier on the other. It is predicated on the unjust premise that peace can be achieved by granting limited national rights to Palestinians living in the areas occupied in 1967, while denying the rights of Palestinians inside the 1948 borders and in the Diaspora. Thus, the two-state solution condemns Palestinian citizens of Israel to permanent second-class status within their homeland, in a racist state that denies their rights by enacting laws that privilege Jews constitutionally, legally, politically, socially and culturally. Moreover, the two-state solution denies Palestinian refugees their internationally recognized right of return. The two-state solution entrenches and formalizes a policy of unequal separation on a land that has become ever more integrated territorially and economically. All the international efforts to implement a two-state solution cannot conceal the fact that a Palestinian state is not viable, and that Palestinian and Israeli Jewish independence in separate states cannot resolve fundamental injustices, the acknowledgment and redress of which are at the core of any just solution. In light of these stark realities, we affirm our commitment to a democratic solution that will offer a just, and thus enduring, peace in a single state based on the following principles: - The historic land of Palestine belongs to all who live in it and to those who were expelled or exiled from it since 1948, regardless of

religion, ethnicity, national origin or current citizenship status; - Any system of government must be founded on the principle of equality in civil, political, social and cultural rights for all citizens. Power must be exercised with rigorous impartiality on behalf of all people in the diversity of their identities; - There must be just redress for the devastating effects of decades of Zionist colonization in the pre- and post-state period, including the abrogation of all laws, and ending all policies, practices and systems of military and civil control that oppress and discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, religion or national origin; - The recognition of the diverse character of the society, encompassing distinct religious, linguistic and cultural traditions, and national experiences; - The creation of a non-sectarian state that does not privilege the rights of one ethnic or religious group over another and that respects the separation of state from all organized religion; - The implementation of the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees in accordance with UN Resolution 194 is a fundamental requirement for justice, and a benchmark of the respect for equality. - The creation of a transparent and non-discriminatory immigration policy; - The recognition of the historic connections between the diverse communities inside the new, democratic state and their respective fellow communities outside; - In articulating the specific contours of such a solution, those who have been historically excluded from decision-making -especially the Palestinian Diaspora and its refugees, and Palestinians inside Israel -- must play a central role; - The establishment of legal and institutional frameworks for justice and reconciliation. The struggle for justice and liberation must be accompanied by a clear, compelling and moral vision of the destination ¬ a solution in which all people who share a belief in equality can see a future for themselves and others. We call for the widest possible discussion, research and action to advance a unitary, democratic solution and bring it to fruition. Madrid and London, 2007

Amnesty International Gaza As A Hostile Entity: A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? John Ging manages a programme valued at $350 million and over 10,000 staff, delivering education, health care, social services and micro finance and micro enterprise support to over one million refugees. To mitigate the worst effects of the current economic and humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the Gaza Operation also includes an Emergency Program, of Job Creation (11,000 positions), Food Assistance (860,000 beneficiaries), Cash Assistance and a range of other relief measures. In addition the Gaza Operation also includes reconstruction and infrastructure projects valued at over USD $93 million. In the Gaza Strip, the blockade

imposed by Israel on the crossing points to the outside world has effectively trapped the 1.5 million Palestinian inhabitants and further undermined the beleaguered economy – with devastating social and economic consequences for a population most of whom already live below the poverty line. Under international law, Israel, as the occupying power, is prohibited from imposing collective punishment or reprisals on the Palestinian population. Israel is ultimately responsible for ensuring the welfare of the 1.5 million Palestinians who live in the Gaza Strip where Israel controls all the land borders, air space and territorial water. Israeli officials’ contention that Israel is no longer bound by the laws of occupation since it redeployed its forces to the perimeter of the Gaza Strip is simply a fallacy.


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Fun & Games

Prophet Musa (as) and the Children of Israel Prophet Musa (as) was commanded by Allah (swt) to go to the pharaoh in Egypt and tell him about the signs of Allah (swt) so that he would believe and stop being a tyrant. When Musa (as) went to the palace, Pharaoh rejected him and his message. To convince him, Musa (as) threw down his staff (walking stick) on the floor and by Allah’s (swt) miracle it turned into a big snake. Pharaoh called his own magicians who challenged Musa (as). They threw down their ropes and sticks and made them look like snakes using illusions. But the snake of Musa (as) ate them all up! The magicians all saw this as being a real miracle and not magic, and so they believed the message of Musa (as). Pharaoh still refused to believe and became even crueller to the Children of Israel who were slaves. Musa (as) was then commanded by Allah (swt) to leave Egypt with the Children of Israel. There are two paths in this maze, one of which leads the Children of Israel to safety. Can you find the right path?

COMPETITION Win a £20 Argos voucher and a Friends of Al-Aqsa goody bag!!!

13 years old or under??? Using the story of Musa (as) above and your own knowledge, answer the following questions: 1. What did Musa (as) do to convince Pharaoh that his message was true? 2. Why did the magicians believe Musa (as)? 3. What was the difference between Musa’s (as) snake and the magicians’ snakes? 4. How did the children of Israel reach safety? 5. What happened to Pharaoh and his army?

14-18 years old??? Use the following clues to identify names of each Prophet that they refer to. Send us your answers for the chance to win! 1. He was impatient with his people and left them. He was then punished by Allah (swt) when he went out to sea. He was swallowed by a big fish. He repented to Allah (swt) while in the stomach of the fish. 2. He was so handsome that at one time, a group of women who saw him while they were cutting fruit with

Comic strip

knives ended up cutting their fingers in distraction. 3. He was given command of the wind by Allah swt, and was able to talk to animals. 4. He is in Jannah, but his life on this earth is not over yet. 5. He is the imam of all the Prophets. Deadline for both competitions: 20 February 2008 Send your answers with your name, age and address to: Friends of Al-Aqsa, PO Box 5127, Leicester, LE2 0WU. Or email us on info@aqsa.org Winners of the last

competition: Saaqib Abdul-Hameed, age 12 from Sheffield Fatima Kathoria, age 18 from Leicester.


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Children in Palestine

As with most conflict areas around the world, one of the most vulnerable groups of people in the occupied territories are children.

Palestinian children are faced with challenges in every facet of their lives ranging from obtaining basic food and nutrition, to personal safety and well-being. There are approximately 4 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza strip. About 52% or 2.1 million of them are children below the age of 18. They have not been spared the violence of the occupation, and between January and September 2007 alone, 39 children were killed and 209 injured as a direct result of Israeli military and settler violence. A further 29 died as a result of Palestinian inter-factional fighting.

Children also face arrest and incarceration in adult Israeli prisons and in September 2007, 335 children were known to be in detention. If these children are brought to trial, they will be tried as adults if they are aged 12 or over. This is contrary to international laws relating to children and Israel has no mechanism in place for dealing with these children in Juvenile courts. For many of these children, their crime, if any, was throwing stones. Palestinian children are also being hit hard by the economic collapse being faced by Palestinian society due to the harsh occupation policies. 58% of all Palestinians (2.3 million) live below the poverty line and 42% of households in Gaza are now faced with extreme poverty, with over 80% totally reliant on aide for their daily needs. The infant mortality rate was at a high of 25.3/1000 during 2004-

A new born baby in an under-equipped Gaza hospital 2005. Comparatively, Israel’s infant mortality rate in 2005 was 5/1000. Health is a major factor for Palestinians and 10% of Palestinian children under the age of 5 are stunted. Furthermore, over 70% of 9-monthold children in Gaza and 50% in the West Bank are anaemic. The educational opportunities for Palestinian children are affected by many factors, including Israel’s wall which has separated many children from their schools in the West Bank.

Checkpoints make attendance at school unpredictable as both students and teachers are easily prevented from reaching their schools. Further to this, achievements are low amongst children in certain areas. UNWRA puts this down to violence, overcrowding and poverty which all reduce the chances of a successful education for most Palestinian children.


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Palestinian farmers face difficulties with Olive harvest Each year, during the olive harvest period, Palestinian farmers face intense difficulties with Israeli soldiers and violent extremist settlers attempting to disrupt the harvest. Restrictions are placed on when farmers can access their land when they are close to illegal settlements, and this makes the harvest unpredictable and often impossible.

Their mission was to help Palestinian farmers who face intense difficulties with their olive harvest. The volunteers found that this year was worse than previous years and confirmed the desperation of the farmers they went to support. Most of the farmers whom they helped pleaded for more people to go out to Palestine, and to return home and tell the stories of what they have seen there. Visit www.zaytoun.org for details about the trips.

In many places farmers are intimidated and threatened by settlers who have in the past stolen olive groves, chopped down or burnt trees, prevented farmers from visiting their land, and stolen the harvest once the olives were picked. In villages that have been divided by the wall, farmers were forced to apply for permits in order to access their own land. These permits were then denied or withdrawn at will by the Israeli Army. For many Palestinian families, the olive harvest provides much needed income to counter their increasingly desperate situations. Each year, the harvest becomes more difficult and the situation gets worse for Palestinian farmers and their families. Israel’s occupation policies mean poverty and unemployment are rife. The situation is so poor now that in places, such as the village of Kufr Qudum which relies on a generator for electricity, the village council was forced to reduce the numbers of hours electricity is available because villagers cannot afford to pay for the diesel required.

The UK based ethical business ‘Zaytoun’ was established to support marginalized farming communities in Palestine. Every year Zaytoun organizes an olive picking group and a tour over the olive harvest period. This year, 16 people travelled with Zaytoun as olive picking volunteers and international observers. Published by Friends of Al-Aqsa, P.O.Box 5127, Leicester, LE2 0WU, Tel 07711 823 524, (0116) 2125441, Email: info@aqsa.org.uk, www.aqsa.org.uk

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