4 February 2002
For the holidaymaker in search of a sun-soaked Mediterranean beach away from the crowds, Gush Katif sounds ideal. Or so thinks Israel’s hardline tourism minister, Binyamin Elon.
Last week, as figures revealed a huge drop in the number of visitors to Israel over the past 12 months, Mr Elon was giving his blessing to a new tourism drive at Gush Katif. The local mayor, Avner Shimoni, eagerly anticipating financial support for a planned visitor centre and seafront promenade, said: “I expect we’ll get several hundred thousand shekels.”
There is only one drawback: Gush Katif is an illegal settlement in occupied Palestinian territory and protected by barbed wire fences, armed soldiers, military watchtowers and checkpoints.
31 January 2002
Like thousands of other Palestinians, Abed Al-Rahman Al-Ahmar tasted the bitter fruits of Israeli occupation during the first Intifada when he was jailed without trial for throwing stones at soldiers. But in the years of the Oslo peace process and now during the Al-Aqsa Intifada, the 34-year-old human rights worker from Bethlehem has been learning an even harsher lesson about Israel’s policy on human rights for Palestinians. Arrested in May last year in Jerusalem, Al-Ahmar has been held in “administrative detention,” Israel’s term for imprisonment without trial or charges, for nine months. The only information his lawyer, Allegra Pacheco, can get from the Shin Bet security service is that he is considered a danger to the Israeli public.