Thursday, 30 June 2016

1 Palestinian, 1 Israeli killed, another wounded in Hebron-area settlement attack

A Palestinian teenager was killed on Thursday morning in an Israeli settlement in the southern occupied West Bank after carrying out an attack against a 13-year-old Israeli girl who later succumbed to her wounds, as one other Israeli was wounded in the case.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that a “terrorist infiltrated” the illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba on the outskirts of the city of Hebron, where he attacked an Israeli teenage girl, who was later identified by the Israeli Prime Minister's office as 13-year-old Hallel Yafa Ariel, in her bedroom.

The spokesperson said that the Palestinian was then shot and killed, and that "two civilians" had been wounded and evacuated to the hospital. She added that the Israeli army was looking into the case.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health later identified the killed Palestinian as 17-year-old Muhammad Nasser Tarayra, from the village of Bani Naim. Shaare Zedek hospital spokeswoman Shoham Ruvio told Ma'an that an Israeli teenage girl died in the hospital after being admitted in a "very severe and dangerous condition" and resuscitation efforts failed. She added that that the girl had suffered from serious stab wounds. more

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Rafah crossing open for five days starting Wednesday morning

Egypt opened its border crossing with the Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning in order to allow Gazans in urgent need to enter and exit the besieged Palestinian enclave.

The terminal is set to remain open for five days in the coming week, not including Friday.

The short break in heavy border restrictions comes as Israel's military blockade of the Gaza Strip approaches nearly a decade. Gaza's 1.8 million residents continue to struggle to meet their basic needs due to severe constraints on goods coming in and out.

While the Egyptian border has remained the main lifeline for Gazans to the outside world, Egyptian authorities have slowly sealed off movement through the border since democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi was toppled by the Egyptian army in 2013.

The sustained closures rose amid accusations by Egyptian authorities that Hamas was backing militants who have carried out deadly attacks on security forces in the Sinai Peninsula that borders the Palestinian territory, allegations Hamas has denied.

However, the Rafah crossing has been reopened on a more regular basis in 2016. The Egyptian government opened the Rafah crossing for four days during the first week of June ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, during which time more than 3,000 people left the Gaza Strip. more

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Hamas applauds Turkish-Israeli deal despite continuation of Gaza siege

The Hamas movement on Monday applauded the Turkish government for its “official and popular efforts to ease the Gaza blockade,” following a reconciliation agreement signed between Israel and Turkey.

In a statement released after the official announcement of the agreement, Hamas, the de-facto rulers of the besieged Gaza Strip, expressed their “deep appreciation” and “gratitude” to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan for his support for the Palestinian people.

The statement added that Hamas expected Turkey to continue exerting pressure on Israel to end its stringent blockade of the Gaza Strip completely, and stop its assaults on the Palestinian people, land, and holy places.

The movement said that Turkey’s efforts in negotiating the agreement, which re-established diplomatic normalization between Israel and Turkey, was “accordant with a long history of Turkish support and solidarity with Palestinians.”

The movement’s approval of the rapprochement represented a rare moment of consensus between Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, and Israeli leadership. more

Jordan condemns Israeli violations at Al-Aqsa during final days of Ramadan

The Jordanian government condemned Israel’s violations of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, citing recent raids into the site during the final days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when dozens of Palestinian worshipers and workers were assaulted by Israeli forces with rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas canisters, and beaten with batons.

Jordanian Minister of State for Media Affairs Muhammad Momani called on Israel to immediately halt the unjustified violations, and to respect the status quo as an occupying power in the Palestinian territory, which includes East Jerusalem’s Old City where the mosque stands, Jordanian media quoted him as saying.

Jordan, which runs the Waqf organization administering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, has custodianship rights over Muslim holy places in Jerusalem under its 1994 peace treaty with Israel.

Momani called on the international community to hold Israel accountable for their actions and to pressure Israel to comply with international conventions as an occupying force responsible for protecting religious sites.

The statement added that Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh had contacted Israeli officials, expressing Jordan’s condemnation and utter rejection of the provocative Israeli practices, demanding that they should be stopped immediately. more

Monday, 27 June 2016

Israeli forces detain father of slain Palestinian whose body is still being withheld

Israeli forces raided the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem in the predawn hours on Monday and detained lawyer and activist Muhammad Elayyan, whose son Bahaa was shot dead by Israeli forces in October while allegedly carrying out a stabbing and shooting attack, locals told Ma’an.

Bahaa was killed alongside another Palestinian after they attacked an Israeli bus with on Oct. 13, killing three Israelis with knives and a gun. His body, along with the bodies of seven other Palestinians killed while allegedly committing or attempting to commit attacks on Israeli targets are still being held by Israel.

Muhammad Elayyan has spearhead a movement by the families of slain Palestinians demanding that Israeli authorities return the bodies, staging protests, most recently held on Sunday in Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank.

He was present at demonstration last week at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem and outside of Israel’s Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine in Jaffa, where the bodies are being stored.

The Israeli Supreme Court ordered on May 5 the release of the bodies of Palestinians from Jerusalem currently being withheld by Israel, after family members appealed the court, but only one has been released since.

The Elayyan family home was first raided a week after the attack, and Israeli authorities issued a demolition order against the house in November as punishment. more

Israeli forces storm Al-Aqsa for 2nd day in a row, dozens injured, 3 detained

Dozens of Muslim worshipers were hit by rubber-coated bullets and suffered from tear gas inhalation at the hands of Israeli forces who stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque compound Monday morning and clashed with worshipers.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that three people were detained at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Monday for allegedly throwing stones at Israeli forces.

Firas al-Dibs, spokesperson for the Islamic Endowment and Al-Aqsa mosque affairs told Ma’an that at least 35 people were hit with rubber-coated bullets in clashes with Israeli forces that lasted for approximately three and a half hours. The injured reportedly received treatment in clinics inside the compound.

The majority were hit in the lower extremities, while a few others were hit in the head, shoulder and chest, al-Dibs said.

Al-Dibs added that dozens were hurt by tear gas and others were attacked with pepper spray as Israeli soldiers and police officers forcibly evacuated worshipers from the compound to secure an area for Israeli extremists touring the compound.

He highlighted the fact that using tear gas and pepper spray on worshipers can cause serious problems, as people are fasting. more

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Palestinian boy 'mistakenly' killed by IDF while driving near stone-throwing incident

Israeli forces shot and killed a 15-year-old Palestinian bystander and seriously injured four other Palestinian teens early Tuesday morning west of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank, after Palestinian youth nearby threw stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli settlers, lightly injuring them.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed the death of Mahmoud Raafat Badran, 15, from the village of Beit Ur al-Tahta.

Local Palestinian sources told Ma'an that five teenage Palestinians were travelling in a car between Beit Ur al-Tahta and the nearby village of Beit Sira west of Ramallah when Israeli forces “showered” the vehicle with live fire, killing one and injuring four.

Head of the village council of Beit Ur al-Tahta Abdul Karim Kassem told Reuters that Mahmoud and his friends were in a car "returning from a pool in a village near us when they came under fire."

Israeli media outlets initially reported that 15-year-old Mahmoud, a "terrorist," had been one of the stone throwers, though he was later revealed to be a bystander to the incident.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that after a number of Palestinian youth hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at moving Israeli settler vehicles on route 443 west of Ramallah, "Israeli forces acted to protect additional vehicles from immediate danger and fired toward the suspects and bystanders were mistakenly hit."

She added that the incident was still under investigation. more

Monday, 20 June 2016

At least 60 Palestinian prisoners begin hunger strike

The Palestinian Prisoners Society said Monday that 60 Palestinian prisoners affiliated to the left wing Palestinian faction the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) started an open hunger strike in Israel’s Megiddo prison.

In a statement the group quoted a lawyer who visited Megiddo and Jilbou prisons on Sunday as saying that 60 PFLP- affiliated prisoners started a hunger strike in Megiddo Sunday. She added that five PFLP-affiliated prisoners would also start hunger strike in Jilbou prison Monday.

The decision to start the hunger strikes, added the lawyer, was in protest against Israeli decision to send PFLP- affiliated prisoner Bilal Kayid to administrative detention without trial or indictment for six months after he completed a 14-year sentence.

Kayid began his own hunger strike on June 13 in protest of his sentence of six months in administrative detention.

Kayid, from the village of Asira al-Shamaliya near Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank has been in Israeli custody since 2001 for alleged involvement in the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades -- the armed wing of the PFLP.

Rights groups have claimed that Israel's administrative detention policy has been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists. more

Friday, 17 June 2016

Why has Israel jailed ailing Gaza mother?

The family of Nisreen Hassan is being denied contact with her.

In October last, Hassan was arrested at Erez, the military checkpoint between Gaza and present-day Israel. She has been imprisoned by Israel since then.

Hassan, a 41-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel, has been diagnosed with lymphoma, according to her family. She had been undergoing chemotherapy in Gaza before her arrest and had responded well to treatment.

Although her family have been assured by Hassan’s lawyer that she is receiving adequate medical care, they are not able to speak with her. The last time Hassan was allowed to phone Hazem Abu Kmail, her husband, was in February.

“She told me that she was fine and sent her love to the kids,” Abu Kmail said.

Hassan has been accused of photographing Israeli military sites in order to benefit Palestinian armed groups.

She has rejected the accusation.

When her case went before an Israeli court in March, she refused to stand before the judge as she insisted that the charge against her is baseless. According to her husband, she has not been involved in politics and had never been previously arrested. more

Bucking Gaza’s desperate situation through social media

Sabreen al-Sununu, 38, Walaa al-Ifranji, 26, and Asmaa Nassar, aged 21, are exceptions to a depressing Gaza rule. In spite of the world’s highest unemployment rate, including a youth unemployment rate at over 60 percent, these three have all, with some success, turned to online platforms to earn money.

Sabreen, a mother of four, started what is in effect her own online restaurant, the name of which loosely translates to A Unique Flavor, in order to help supplement the income of her husband Mustafa, 49, a public servant, and help pay university fees for their sons.

The family lost their home in the 2014 Israeli military assault on Gaza, when the al-Nada Towers in which their northern Beit Hanoun apartment was located was bombed.

“I don’t have a university certificate,” Sabreen told The Electronic Intifada, explaining how she got started. “Cooking is what I can do to help my family.”

Among her relatives, Sabreen always had a reputation, not only for the tastiest food, but the most attractive presentation. So when she started out, family and neighbors were her first customers.

With their encouragement, said Sabreen, and the online savviness of her sons Mahmoud, 20, and Ahmad, 18, who shared pictures of her food among their friends, who in turn shared with theirs, the number of Sabreen’s Instagram followers rose to 3,500 in the first four months. more

Clashes erupt between Palestinian security forces and armed men in Jenin

JENIN (Ma'an) -- Clashes erupted early Friday for a short duration between Palestinian security forces and several armed men in the northern occupied West Bank district of Jenin, Palestinian security sources told Ma’an.

Palestinian security forces reportedly intervened to stop live firing as Islamic Jihad-affiliated men celebrated the release of Yahiya Bassam al-Saadi from Israeli prison, according to security sources. Sources added that the clashes erupted for a few minutes. No injuries with live fire were reported.

However, four security officers were reportedly hit and injured with rocks. more

Thursday, 16 June 2016

PM: Israel's suspension of West Bank water supplies 'inhumane and outrageous'

The Palestinian Prime Minister’s office on Thursday slammed Israel’s decision to cut off water supplies for tens of thousands of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank this week as “inhumane and outrageous.”

Rami Hamdallah issued a statement in response to the move by Israel’s national water company Mekorot, which saw water supplies suspended in the municipality of Jenin, several villages in Nablus, as well as the city of Salfit and its surrounding villages.

“Israel wants to prevent Palestinians from leading a dignified life and uses its control over our water resources to this end; while illegal Israeli settlements enjoy uninterrupted water service,” Hamdallah said. “Palestinians are forced to spend great sums of money to buy water that is theirs in the first place.”

Israelis, including settlers, have access to 300 liters of water per day, according to EWASH, while the West Bank average is around 70 liters, below the World Health Organization's recommended minimum of 100 liters per day for basic sanitation, hygiene and drinking.

Director of Communications at the Prime Minister’s Office Jamal Dajani called Mekorot’s decision “inhumane and outrageous.”

The move to deprive the villages of access to safe drinking water was seen as especially outrageous, as Palestinian Muslims celebrated the holy month of Ramadan, which entered its second week on Tuesday. more

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Israeli navy detain four Gaza fishermen, confiscate two boats

Israeli naval forces detained four Palestinian fishermen while they were on a fishing trip Wednesday morning off the coast of Gaza City, Palestinian security sources told Ma’an.

The sources said Israeli navy confiscated two fishing boats, subsequently taking them to Israel’s Ashdod port.

In a separate incident in Gaza on Wednesday morning, Israeli military vehicles reportedly crossed the borders into the besieged coastal enclave, where Israeli forces used bulldozers to level land east of Rafah in the south. Witnesses said they saw four bulldozers leveling land near the border fence.

On Tuesday night, an Israeli airstrike reportedly hit an agricultural area in Juhr Addik village in the southern Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported.


Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Detention of Palestinian circus performer extended despite international outcry

Israeli authorities on Monday decided to extend the administrative detention of a 23-year-old Palestinian circus performer, in spite of widespread outcry from activists and rights groups around the world demanding his release.

Israeli authorities ruled to extend Muhammad Faisal Abu Sakha’s remand for another six months from June 13 until Dec. 12, in addition to the six months he has already served in administrative detention -- Israel’s controversial policy of internment without trial or charge.

According to prisoner’s rights group Addameer, a confirmation hearing for the ruling is scheduled for June 15, during which a military judge may confirm, limit, or cancel the administrative detention order.

In a statement released by the Palestinian Circus School, where Abu Sakha worked, they said that neither they, nor Abu Sakha’s family or lawyer have received any reason or information regarding his detention -- as is customary for administrative detainees that are held by Israel under undisclosed evidence for indefinitely renewable periods of three or six months.

Their statement referred to the Israeli occupation as “a system that knows no humanity,” whose only goal is “to break the spirit of an entire nation.” “You (the Israeli occupation) only make our resistance stronger. And the resistance of the Palestinian Circus School has always been and will continue to be injecting hope, love, and happiness in the hearts and minds of all Palestinians and all people that cross our path worldwide.” more