Thursday, 26 March 2015

Al-Qassam fighter killed during training in Khan Younis

A fighter of the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas movement, was killed on Thursday during training in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

The Brigades said in a statement that Ahmad Nimr al-Ghazzawi, 21, had been killed during the training but did not provide any more information regarding the details of his death.

Training by the al-Qassam Brigades has continued despite Israeli threats and the recent classification of Hamas as a terrorist organization by neighboring Egypt.

Earlier this month the group's official website reported that it had rebuilt a number of military bases near the Israeli border in the Gaza Strip, asserting that it had recovered from Israel's summer offensive and was "not afraid" of confronting the occupation again. more

Unity govt meets in Gaza amid public employee protests

Dozens of Palestinian civil servants protested Thursday in front of the government's headquarters in the Gaza Strip demanding paychecks they have not received for several months, as Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah finished a rare visit to the coastal enclave.

Prime Minister Hamdallah pledged that Palestinian factions would "work fast" to find solutions to issues facing Gaza on Thursday, on the second day of what is only his second visit to Gaza since the formation of a national unity government between Fatah and Hamas in June.

As Hamdallah and his accompanying delegation left Gaza Strip on Thursday evening, spokesman Ehab Bseiso emphasized that future solutions discussed during the short trip will be comprehensive, including electricity, employment, and reconstruction.

Hamdallah vowed yesterday in Gaza that civilian workers of Hamas' de facto administration in Gaza would be enlisted to the payroll of the Palestinian Authority.

Head of the employees' union, Muhammad Siyam, said that the union will continue to demand the employees' rights, adding that a meeting between the employees' representatives and Hamdallah will be held on Thursday to discuss solutions for the crisis. more

UN says Palestinian death toll highest since 1967

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- The long-running conflict with Israel claimed the lives of more Palestinian civilians in 2014 than any year since 1967, the United Nations said Thursday, in a damning report on the humanitarian situation.

Meanwhile, rights group Amnesty International criticized the "flagrant disregard" by Palestinian armed groups for the lives of Israeli civilians, fingering the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip as a culprit.

In 2014, Israel and Hamas fought a devastating war in Gaza that killed nearly 2,200 people, while intense violence in East Jerusalem and the West Bank killed dozens of Palestinians and several Israelis.

A report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) entitled "Fragmented Lives" called for more restraint on both sides.

"All parties to the conflict... must fulfill their legal obligations to conduct hostilities in accordance with international law to ensure the protection of all civilians and to ensure accountability for acts committed," it said.

"Palestinian civilians continue to be subject to threats to their life, physical safety and liberty," with 2014 witnessing the "highest civilian death toll since 1967," OCHA said.

"In the Gaza Strip, 1.8 million Palestinians endured the worst escalation of hostilities since 1967: over 1,500 Palestinian civilians were killed, more than 11,000 injured and some 100,000 remain displaced."

More than 550 children were among the dead, it added. more

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

PA prime minister Hamdallah to arrive in Gaza today

Palestinian prime minister, Rami Hamdallah is expected to arrive in Gaza today at 1:00 PM for a two-day visit, to look into the issues in Gaza, including the employees crisis, the halted reconstruction process and the electricity cuts.

A press conference will be held upon his arrival in hotel on Gaza shore, where he will meet with Fatah and Hamas leaders.

PA spokesperson, Ihab Bseiso said this will be the first visit to Gaza since last October. Hamdallah was supposed to visit Gaza on 8 November of last year, however the visit was cancelled after the bombardment of Fatah leaders' homes in Gaza. more

School students use sewage channels to reach school

Palestinian students are being forced to cross through sewage channels to reach a high school in western Ramallah district after a settlement road cut off the only other means of access, residents told Ma'an.

Up to 200 students from the villages of al-Tira and Beit Ur al-Fuqa now reach the school using a four kilometer route that runs along the separation wall, where armed settlers, as well as Israeli soldiers, almost daily interrupt their commute.

The route passes through sewage channels and regularly takes students up to 40 minutes to reach their school, as the channels are filled with rainwater in the winter and snakes in the summer.

Students told Ma'an that Israeli soldiers regularly fire tear-gas canisters at them on their way back.

The al-Tira Beit Ur al-Fuqa high school is now enveloped by the Israeli separation wall on three sides at a point where the wall extends more than five kilometers inside the 1949 Armistice Line.

The wall separates the villages from the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit Horon as well as an Israeli military training camp. On the school's fourth side, a road was opened exclusively for settlers going from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.

The school principle, Samer Bader, said that when the sewage channels are filled with wastewater in the winter it is particularly difficult for children to reach the school and sometimes they are not able to make the passage at all. more

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Light sentence for Zionist thugs shows UK double standards on extremism

Two thugs affiliated with the Jewish Defence League UK were sentenced Monday to 150 hours of community service each and £1,140 ($1,700) in fines between them.

Roberta Moore and Robert De Jonge assaulted two people at a Palestine literary festival in London in September.

Last month a judge found Moore guilty on two counts of assault, and one count of possession of an offensive weapon. De Jonge was found guilty of assault.

In addition to the unpaid work, the two must pay compensation to their victims: Andy Simons, an organizer of the festival, and Simon Assaf, who had been running a socialist bookstall that day.

The video below was presented as evidence during the two-day trial in February.

Attack at the Palestine Literature Festival 2014

The relatively light sentence raises questions about the limited scope of the Crown Prosecution Service’s case against the two. A custodial sentence was never likely for a first offense of common assault that caused no lasting physical injury.

But a violent assault by armed extremists invading the platform at a cultural/political event organized by those they see as their enemies raises serious questions about radicalization and prevention of religious extremism.

It is impossible to imagine that, had there been a similar incident involving extremist Muslims assaulting their ideological enemies, officers from Prevent – the UK government’s Islam-obsessed “anti-terrorism” unit – would not have been brought in. more

Gazans protest power outage in front of distribution company

Dozens of Gazans protested in front of the Khan Younis district headquarters of the Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation (GEDCo) in the Gaza Strip late Monday.

Protesters attempted and failed to reconnect power lines feeding electricity into the city of Khan Younis. Their earlier disconnection caused a blackout across the entire city.

A pregnant woman identified as Azza Youssef Najjar was injured and taken to a hospital during the protest, though it is unclear how she was injured.

GEDCo, which oversees electricity distribution across the West Bank, redirects power supplied by a power station inside Gaza, the Egyptian electricity grid and the Israeli electric company.

However, these supply lines fall far short of the Gazan population's needs. While they provide 230 MW of electricity, Pal-Think, a Gaza-based think tank, has estimated that the Gazan people require 350 to 450 MW.

GEDCo describes itself as a privately owned company, jointly owned by the Palestinian Authority and local authorities.

It lists its responsibilities at the collection of bills as well as the technical supervision, maintenance and improvement of the electricity distribution network.

However, the company has been plagued by supply problems due to the Israeli blockade, in place since 2007 and upheld by Egypt, as well as devastation caused by war. more

Video: Continuing harassment of activists in Palestine

From the International Solidarity Movement - On an almost daily basis Israeli forces in Al Khalil harass and arrest local and international human rights activists as they try to do their tasks. The activists document violence towards Palestinians and act as a protective presence around children who are on their way to school. The volunteers’ feel that accompanying children on their way to school, through various checkpoints, is important because of the risk they face. In the past the children of Al Khalil have routinely detained, searched, arrested or attacked with tear gas, stun grenades and rubber coated steel bullets, shot at them by Israeli soldiers and border police.

Throughout Palestine in general, and in particular Al Khalil, volunteers play an important role documenting day to day life under occupation. With illegal settlements in the heart of the city and daily violence from settlers under the protection of the Israeli forces, the only word to describe life here is ‘apartheid’.

Israeli forces have detained and arrested volunteers many times without reason, declaring only that they wish to prevent them from documenting these human rights abuses. The internationals’ accessibility to city areas are also being restricted by soldiers prohibiting them to pass through checkpoints. more

Farmers again attacked by Israeli soldiers in central Gaza

Israeli occupation forces, Monday morning, opened fire towards Palestinian farmers and agricultural lands east of the central Gaza Strip.

Witnesses told Safa news agency that Israeli soldiers and military vehicles that were stationed along the border and in military towers east of the central of Gaza strip, fired tear gas and live ammunition towards the farmers.

They pointed out, according to Al Ray, that the farmers tried to reach their agricultural lands near the border and that Israel prevented them by opening fire, with no causalities reported. more

Monday, 23 March 2015

84 Palestinians in Gaza visit relatives jailed in Israel

Dozens of Palestinians from Gaza visited relatives jailed in Israel on Monday, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

Eighty-four Palestinians, including 32 children, crossed into Israel via Erez to visit 42 jailed relatives.

The visits are coordinated with the ICRC.

There are some 450 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip in Israeli jails. Israel denied Gaza prisoners family visits when Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, but in July 2012, family visits resumed. more

Israel 'boycotts' UN rights council session on Gaza war

Israel's representative was conspicuously missing when the UN Human Rights Council started a special session Monday on the situation in the Palestinian territories and the 2014 Gaza conflict.

"I note the representative of Israel is not present," said council president Joachim Ruecher.

Israel provided no immediate explanation for their absence at the session dedicated overwhelmingly to discussion of its policies and alleged abuses, but a source close to the council said it clearly amounted to a boycott.

"We won't comment on that," a spokeswoman with the Israeli mission in Geneva told AFP.

The United States was also absent from Monday's discussions.

Asked to explain why the United States was not taking part, a spokesman said only that the US ambassador to the council Keith Harper was in Washington.

Monday's session had originally been scheduled to discuss a probe on the 50-day war in Gaza last year, but the investigators obtained a delay after the head of the team quit under Israeli pressure.

"The process cannot be rushed," former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis, who has taken over as head of the team, told the council.

Canadian international law expert William Schabas resigned as chair of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict last month after Israel complained he could not be impartial because he had prepared a legal opinion for the PLO in October 2012.

Schabas strongly denied that he was beholden to the PLO but said he was reluctantly stepping down to avoid the inquiry into the July-August conflict -- commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council -- being compromised in any away. more

Israel issues demolition orders to 5 Silwan homes

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli municipality officers issued five demolition orders in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on Monday, a local group said.

The Wadi Hilweh Information Center said Israel's Jerusalem municipality attached five demolition orders to properties in the neighborhood, with owners given 30 days to appeal to Israeli courts.

Some of the buildings are under construction, while one property was built 45 years ago, the center said.

Israeli municipality officers, accompanied by armed forces, also took pictures of the properties.

One of the owners, Walid Ahmad Abed al-Razzaq, said his home was built 45 years ago and no new structures have been added. Nine members of his family currently live in the property.

Silwan has been a repeated site of Israeli settler incursions and attempts to evict Palestinian locals. more

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Palestinian prisoners with cancer face death due to lack of treatment in Israeli prisons

Fifteen Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons are suffering from cancer and are at risk of dying, the Hossam Association of Palestinian Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners has said.

The organization said in a statement, according to Ma'an, that they believed the number was in fact higher, as the 15 include only those who have been diagnosed with cancer, but many others have tumors whose malignancy is not known because Israeli prison authorities have limited their access to tests.

The organization blamed Israeli authorities for contributing to an environment in which Palestinian prisoners faced a heightened risk of cancer due to high levels of radiation inside prison cells.

The group said that Israeli authorities set up devices to jam satellite and telephone signals near rooms where Palestinians are being held. They also pointed to the use of radiation in security scanners that prisoners are forced to go through during frequent searches and examinations.

The statement also said that a number of prisons are located near the Dimona nuclear reactor as well as toxic waste dumps in the Negev Desert, another factor which it said contributed to the high incidence of cancer.

The association said that Israel is violating international and humanitarian laws by keeping these prisoners and other sick prisoners in detention as their lives are in danger and they do not pose any danger or threat to Israel.

It claimed in the statement that a total of 1,500 Palestinian prisoners are suffering from some kind of illness, out of a total of around 5,500 Palestinians being currently held in Israeli jails.

The association called upon the international community to uphold its legal and humanitarian responsibilities towards the prisoners and their rights.

The association listed a number of the most pressing cases it was aware of inside Israeli prisons.

The case of Mutasem Radad from Tulkarem is one of the most critical among these, it said, as he has reached an advanced stage of cancer and has undergone several surgeries. They also highlighted Yusri al-Masri from the Gaza Strip who suffers from a malignant tumor in his thyroid and underwent surgery to remove the tumor in December 2013. more

Video: An American translation of Netanyahu’s racist get out the vote speeh

From Mondoweiss - In the video below Katie Halper “translated” Netanyahu’s racist emergency election appeal to get out the vote. Titled “An American Translation of Benjamin Netanyahu’s own words”, she noted in the video all the words are Netanyahu’s with a few changes:

The only changes were replacing:
“Arab” with “Black”
“right wing” with “Republican”
“Likud” with “Republican”
“Labor” with “Democrats”
“Israel” with “United States”

The alarmingly racist appeal has been cited as being responsible for a surge in the polls for Likud. Let’s watch the video: