Is 'Refugee Rights' a Hamas Flag of Convenience?
There are those who say that in the face of the Zionist siege and Israeli attacks on Gaza, we should not comment on or even publicise internal divisions amongst Palestinians. What this effectively amounts to is silence over the oppression of Palestinians by Palestinians in the cause of the greater goal of liberation from Zionism.
What it also guarantees is that the yoke of oppression will never be lifted from the vast majority of Palestinians. This has been the same story the world over with decolonisation. People, especially the Communist Party, kept quiet about Saddam’s repression of trade unionits, Khomeini’s murder of thousands of leftists, Mugabe’s slaughter of 20 Ndebele, until of course ‘liberation’ turns out to be as bad as the original oppression the liberation movement fought against.
So we should take note of the report below from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights about how some 30 armed gunment deliberately set fire to and attacked a summer games camp for Palestinian children. Presumably the children of Gaza haven’t suffered enough and they need the austere barbarians of Islamic Fundamentalism to keep any moments of joy from them. So we should say it quite clearly.
Whoever did this is merely perpetuating the work of the Israeli army and the Zionists. Where Israel left off, the barbarian Islamic Fundamentalists took over.
And it doesn’t take a genius to work out that Hamas, which has itself been repeatedly criticised for its attempts to follow a similar agenda, is probably implicated in what happened.
In its statement it manages to condemn the attack but reserves most of its criticism for UNWRA for exaggerating what happened. There is no hint that Hamas intends to take action against the group, yet 30 armed gunmen outside roaming around engaging in an attack on the civilian population, doesn’t seem to disturb it unduly. It would appear that Hamas is not unsympathetic to the aims of the group. Of course they could always prove us wrong by bringing to justice these Islamic fascists.
PCHR Strongly Condemns Attack on UNRWA Summer Games Camp
Date: 23 May 2010
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the attack carried out by a large number of masked gunmen on a summer games camp organized by UNRWA at a beach in the west of Gaza City. The attackers set fire to parts of the camp and damaged its contents in the early morning. PCHR calls upon the government in the Gaza Strip to seriously investigate
the attack, which constitutes part of the state of security chaos and misuse of weapons plaguing the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), and bring the perpetrators to justice.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR and the testimony of the camp guard, Ibrahim Kamel 'Eleiwa, at approximately 2:30 on Sunday, 23 May 2010, a large number of masked gunmen broke into the UNRWA camp designated for the summer games at the beach in the Sheikh 'Ejleen area in the west of Gaza City. They attacked the guard with gun butts, handcuffed him and took his mobile phone. They then began damaging the contents of the camp, tearing down the canvas walls and setting fire to the equipment used by children. Before they left, one of gunmen put a letter and three bullets in the pocket of the handcuffed guard. The letter included a threat against three UNRWA officials, including John Ging, Director UNRWA Operations in Gaza. At approximately 5:00, the supervisor of the camp arrived with an interrogator, who inspected the area and took the guard to the police station for questioning.
It should be noted that UNRWA began holding summer games, which target children aged 7-15 in the summer of 2008. The camps have been held at UNRWA schools and at camps on the beach and included sport and art activities. The camp that was targeted this morning consists of nine sites, each of which stands on a 2-donum area of land, forming a total area of 18 donums. Each site offers services to a total of 500 children during two separate morning and afternoon periods. The camp serves 4,500 children every two weeks. It was decided that four camps were going to be held this summer in order to serve 18,000 children in addition to providing job opportunities for 540 persons. The first camp was scheduled to commence on 12 June 2010.
Last Wednesday, an unknown group named "Homeland Freemen" issued a press release strongly criticizing UNRWA and its administration, particularly with regard to the summer camps, which were described as aiming at teaching girls "swimming, fitness and dancing." In the press release, the group threatened that "the dignified and honored Gaza will resist such corruption and stop it." The group further criticized the government in the Gaza Strip,
asking: "You, government of Gaza, what is your attitude towards these criminal acts?"
PCHR strongly condemns this attack, which constitutes part of the state of security chaos and misuse of weapons plaguing the (OPT), and:
1. Calls upon the government in the Gaza Strip to open prompt and effective investigations into the attack, prosecute the perpetrators, take the necessary legal action, and publish the results of the investigation;
2. Calls upon the government to take a clear position condemning the attack and expressing willingness to take necessary measures to ensure complete protection of UNRWA institutions and facilities, including the summer camps;
3. Emphasizes the important role played by UNRWA in supporting the Palestinian people through its different programs organized to serve Palestinian refugees, particularly in the Gaza Strip, where civilians face additional hardship due to the ongoing siege and Israeli practices;
4. Confirms its full support of UNRWA programs, including summer camps, which constitute a necessity for children at the educational, mental health, and social levels, especially due to the difficult experiences they have been exposed to, particularly the unprecedented violence practiced against them during the latest Israeli offensive;
5. Strongly condemns all attempts aiming at attacking and undermining these services; and
6. Emphasizes the importance of the rule of law and completely rejects the notion that any party can claim to be the guardian of morals and values of this people, and carries out whatever attacks it deems appropriate, as such actions constitute the epitome of security chaos and misuse of weapons.
UNRWA site vandalized by gunmen in Gaza
Bethlehem - Ma'an - A group of 30 armed and masked men attacked and set fire to an UNRWA recreation facility on Gaza City's beach front on Sunday, the UN body said in a statement.
The location is one of 35 beach facilities under construction, which will form part of UNRWA’s annual Summer Games program for over 250,000 refugee children in Gaza, due to commence on 12 June, the statement read.
UNRWA’s Director of Operations in Gaza, John Ging, condemned the incident, calling it "vandalism linked to extremism and an attack on the happiness of children." He went on to reassure parents and the children of Gaza that “UNRWA will not be intimidated by such acts and will quickly rebuild the location in good time to host the Summer Games”
UNRWA's summer games, conducted for the fourth year with the full support and involvement of the community is the largest recreation program for Gaza’s children providing a diversified set of activities including sports, swimming, arts and crafts, theater and drama. "It is of immense physical and psychological importance for children who would otherwise have no other similar recreation opportunity," the statement read.
The security guard at the construction site said the masked gunmen handcuffed him before they threw him out and began torching tents and destroying billboards and water tanks. Then they gave him a letter demanding that he passes to police detectives.
The letter, according to the guard, threatens to harm Ging and two other UNRWA employees. “They painted three bullets, indicating that all three people will be shot,” he said.
In a separate statement, an apparent far-right group calling itself Refugee Rights said the Summer Games 2010 cost 20 million US dollars and would teach Palestinian school girls to swim, dance, and other "impudent practices."
The group further alleged that international employees in Ging's office receive salaries up to 20,000 US dollars per month "which is equal salaries of 30 local Palestinian teachers at UNRWA schools.” They described that as waste of money which belongs to the Palestinian people.
“We appreciate UNRWA services as evidence that the international community has responsibility towards the Palestinian people who are still denied return to their homeland. However, we announce refusal of some policies and decisions taken recently by the administration of the UNRWA in the Gaza Strip. Of most importance was the intermingling of boys and girls at school under the pretext that girls have better capabilities,” the statement added.
The group further said it denounced UNRWA's scheme allowing Palestinian students to visit foreign countries "because this is normalization with Israel since those students meet with Israeli or Jewish students abroad."
The Hamas government condemned the attack on the UNRWA site, vowing to pursue the perpetrators.
De facto government spokesman Tahir An-Nunu told reporters that the government was disappointed with the statement issued by Refugee Rights threatening to harm UNRWA officials, applauding Gings efforts to end the siege on Gaza and UNRWA's decades of support for the Palestinian people.
However, the Gaza-based Interior Ministry described UNRWA's statement as an "exaggeration" of the damage caused in the incident, asking the UN body to "check well before releasing overstated comments."