Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Egypt to open Rafah crossing for 2 days

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities will open the Rafah crossing with Gaza to allow thousands of Palestinians, stranded for weeks on the Egyptian side, to return home to the Strip, an official said Wednesday.

Nathmi Muhanna, director of Palestinian crossings and borders, told Ma'an that Rafah would be open on Wednesday from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and on Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Palestinian ambassador to Egypt Jamal al-Shubki confirmed that he had received word from the Egyptian leadership that the crossing would be opened.

The Palestinian Authority applauded the Egyptian decision to briefly open the crossing. more

Israeli forces detain 13 Palestinians in overnight raids

Israeli forces arrested 13 Palestinians in overnight West Bank raids, sources told Ma'an Wednesday.

In the Bethlehem district, Israeli forces raided the village of Wadi Fukin and detained three teenagers, Palestinian security sources said.

The teens were identified as 17-year-old Ibrahim Atiyeh Manasrah, 18-year-old Majd Muhammad Manasra, and 19-year-old Karim Atif Assaf.

Palestinian security sources also said that Israeli forces raided the village of Burin in the Nablus district and detained Muamin Raji Eid, 21, after ransacking his home.

Eid is a supporter of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the sources said. He was taken to Huwwara military base south of Nablus.

Israeli forces also detained two Hamas leaders in the Ramallah district, sources within the Hamas movement said.

Soldiers raided the al-Jinan neighborhood in the city of al-Bireh and detained Fayiz Warda. They also arrested Hussein Abu Kreik in Beituniya, the sources said.

In the Hebron district, Israeli forces entered al-Fawwar refugee camp and detained 42-year-old Rajih Abu Ajamiyya, 23-year-old Alaa Mustafa al-Ballas, and 26-year-old Wisam Fayiz Abdullah, family said. more

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Israeli bus driver runs over Palestinians in Jenin, 1 dead

An Israeli bus driver ran over two Palestinian at al-Jalama checkpoint in Jenin, killing one person and injuring another, Palestinian security sources said Tuesday.

Palestinian security sources told Ma'an that Noor Hassan Naim Salim, 22, and Alaa Kayid Salim, 20, from Nablus were injured after being ran over by an Israeli bus.

Hussein was taken to an Israeli hospital with serious injuries and later died. Salim was taken to Jenin governmental hospital with light injuries.

Israeli police and ambulances arrived at the scene and the bus driver was arrested. more

Hamas fighter dies during military training

Hamas' military wing announced that one of its fighters was killed during a military drill in eastern Gaza late Monday.

In a statement, the al-Qassam Brigades said 18-year-old Abdullah Ulayyan, from the Tuffah neighborhood of Gaza City, died in a training exercise.

Ulayyan's body was taken to Shifa hospital in Gaza City. more

Gaza gets second postwar delivery of building materials

Twenty-eight trucks of cement entered the battered Gaza Strip Tuesday in only the second delivery of building materials for the private sector since a 50-day summer war, an official said.

Raed Fattuh, the PA official in charge of the entry of goods into Gaza from Israel through the Kerem Shalom crossing, said 28 trucks, each carrying 40 tons of cement, had crossed into the enclave.

It was the first delivery of building materials for the private sector since Oct. 14, when 75 trucks entered Gaza, carrying 1,300 tons of material -- 15 trucks of cement, 10 of metal and 50 of gravel.

"This is the biggest delivery of cement since the war ended," Fatuh told AFP, referring to the seven-week conflict between Israel and Hamas militants which ended with a truce on Aug. 26.

"But it is not enough, it is only a tiny amount for the reconstruction."

He said there had been no further deliveries since October because Israel had halted the process over concerns about how the materials had been used.

Many people were in any case unable to make use of that cement, delivered as UN chief Ban Ki-moon visited the tiny enclave, Fatuh said.

"Most of the people who got cement last time need money from either (the UN) or the government in order to buy other materials to use with it," he said.

Last week, UN special envoy Robert Serry said the delivery of building materials would resume, giving 25,000 home owners access to materials to repair their damaged homes. more

NGOs accuse Israel of shoot-to-kill policy

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Human rights groups have accused Israel of encouraging a shoot-to-kill policy after a wave of incidents in which police shot dead Palestinians involved in, or accused of, attacking Israelis.

The alleged practice of killing suspects without trying to arrest them has caused concern after a series of deadly Palestinian attacks also resulted in the perpetrators' deaths -- and not always at the scene.

In a rare move, a Jerusalem court on Sunday indicted a border police officer after he shot and killed, unprovoked, a Palestinian teenager during a May demonstration in the occupied West Bank.

For some, the charge of manslaughter in the case was not strong enough, and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch's comments that "a terrorist who strikes civilians should be killed" indicate no further such investigations will take place.

"Aharonovitch's statement and its application on the ground show that the authorities simply want these incidents to end ­- with the terrorist killed at the scene rather than brought into the justice system," Carolina Landsmann wrote in Haaretz newspaper.

Israeli rights group B'Tselem says that one of the first victims of "extrajudicial executions" was Abd al-Rahman Shaludi, a 21-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem who rammed his car into Israeli pedestrians on Oct. 22, killing a young woman and a baby.

He was shot at the scene by police and died several hours later. more

Democratic Front demands Egypt to open Rafah crossing to passengers

GAZA, (PIC)-- Senior official of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) Ziyad Jarghoun appealed to the Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah border crossing and allow thousands of Palestinian passengers to enter the Gaza Strip.

During a symposium organized by the union of Palestinian women in Rafah, Jarghoun also called on Egypt to allow Gaza people to travel freely through the Rafah border crossing, especially patients, students and holders of foreign passports.

"It is unreasonable for the closure of the Rafah crossing to continue for more than a month, in light of Israel's closure of all crossings of the Strip except for one crossing, which has turned the Gaza Strip into a big prison," he stated.

The DFLP official stressed that the Palestinian people want Egypt to return to its leading role in supporting their national cause.

In another context, the Hamas Movement slammed the continued Egyptian media smear campaign against it, describing it as an attempt to escape internal obligations and crises. more

Monday, 24 November 2014

UK's Barclays bank boycotted over Israel arms trade shares

The British bank Barclays has come under fire for its holdings in Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest military company and the main supplier of drones used to attack and kill Palestinian civilians in Gaza. The bank is the named owner of $2.9 million worth of shares in Elbit.

More than 1.7 million people have signed a petition calling on Barclays to divest from “projects that finance illegal settlements and the oppressive occupation of the Palestinian people” and campaigners have occupied and protested at bank branches across the UK.

Elbit’s share price rose in July off the back of the extensive use of its technology during Israel’s summer massacre in Gaza, which killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, including some 500 children.

The company advertises its products as “combat proven” and recently reported a backlog in orders worth $6.2 billion.

Through its holdings in Elbit Systems, Barclays is profiting directly from Israel’s deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure. Such targeting has been described by Amnesty International and Palestinian human rights organizations as amounting to war crimes.

Barclays market analysts have also talked up Elbit shares, recently rating their stock as “positive.”

Call for action

Elbit Systems supplies Israel with Hermes drones that have been used to deliberately attack and kill Palestinian civilians, including during this summer’s onslaught on Gaza.

According to data from the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, armed drones killed more than 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza between 2000 and 2010.

Analysis of Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reports by drone researcher Mary Dobbing found that 800 drone strikes took place within a fifty-day period during Israel’s most recent attack on Gaza.

In a joint statement published last month, Palestinian student groups described Barclays as “complicit in the war crimes carried out in Gaza using Elbit’s equipment” and called on UK students to close their accounts with Barclays.

“Since Barclays refuse to end this unethical practice [of] investing and dealing in shares in Elbit despite the fact that their drones kill us, our children, our parents, our brothers, sisters and friends, we ask for students to close their student Barclays account and tell Barclays why,” the statement explains. more

Israeli forces 'detain 10-year-old Palestinian boy' in Silwan

Israeli forces detained a 10-year-old Palestinian boy in the Silwan neighborhood on Monday evening, a local information center said.

Majdi Abbasi of the Wadi Hilweh information center told Ma'an that Israeli forces in the Ein al-Luza area of the neighborhood detained 10-year-old Rashid Abu Sarah, took of his shirt, blindfolded him, and took him away in a military jeep.

Israeli forces also fired stun grenades in the neighborhood, Abbasi said.

He did not have further information about the boy's arrest. more

Israel believes missing soldiers are alive in Gaza

From the Middle East Monitor - Israel believes that its missing soldiers are still alive in the Gaza Strip, Palestinians who have been subjected to investigations by the Israeli security forces said.

In an interview with Anadolu Agency, witnesses said that Israeli authorities conducted intensive investigations with "patients" and their companions at the Erez crossing in order to obtain information about the fate of the two soldiers who went missing during the recent war on the Gaza Strip.

According to the witnesses, who refused to be identified fearing being arrested by the Israeli army, Israel's focus during its investigation is to find out where Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin and soldier Shaul Aaron are being detained.

They emphasised that the line of questioning clearly indicated that Israel believes both men are alive.

On July 20, Al-Qassam Brigades announced that it had captured Aaron during the Israeli ground invasion in to the Strip.

Two days later, the Israeli army admitted Aaron was missing, but said he was likely to have been killed in battle with Hamas fighters.

Israel also accused Hamas of capturing Goldin's body, saying he was killed in an armed clash east of Rafah on August 1. The movement has neither confirmed or denied these reports.

One patient said he was surprised at his detention at Erez crossing for more than half an hour during which he was questioned by the Israeli army on Goldin's fate and whereabouts of the soldier.

"The Israeli army is trying to get information about the missing soldiers from patients and their companions," he said. more

Leader of British Catholics visits Gaza

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the leader of Catholics in England and Wales, visited Gaza today [Sunday], during his trip to the region.

The Cardinal lead over 100 pilgrims from the Diocese of Westminister to Gaza to celebrate a Mass for the strips Catholic community, before going to visit the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

In an interview with MEMO today, Cardinal Nichols said "Everyone should rediscover the humanity of the situation, beyond the politics, beyond the oppression of war. We have to get a fresh focus, that it is a human community here in Gaza, and we have to look at ways that the community can prosper - because poverty is always a cause of frustration, and frustration is always a cause of dispute".

The Cardinal agrees with the fears of others that the actions of an extreme few, on both sides, might set the agenda in the Holy Land, and thus strong leadership is required on both sides to lead to peace. He strongly believes that both sides must abide by international law, and referred to the Israeli settlement programme as being contrary to international law.

Gaza is home to almost 2000 Palestinian Christians. Christians in Palestine are permitted to obtain any job, in addition to having their full rights and duties as their Muslim counterparts in accordance with the Palestinian Declaration of Independence. more

Palestinian farmer killed by Israeli explosive on West Bank

Medical sources reported, Sunday, that a Palestinian shepherd was killed when an Israeli explosive, dropped by the army during training, detonated near him in al-Marah area, close to Bardala village, in the Northern Plains of the occupied West Bank.

The sources said that Ahmad Abdul-Rahman Sawafta, age 44, was herding his cattle in the area when he accidentally stepped on the explosive.

His brother, Samer, told Al-Jazeera News Agency that Sawafta lost parts of his face and shoulder, due to the severity of the blast.

He added that Israeli soldiers stationed in the area provided first aid to his brother and moved him to the Rambam Israeli Hospital in Haifa, where he died of serious wounds.

Samer said that the area in question is a grazing land used by dozens of Palestinian shepherds, yet, the Israeli military constantly uses it for training using explosives and live fire, and that the army frequently invades Palestinian communities in the area during training.

The slain Palestinian is a married father of five children; he will be buried in his village, Bardala in the district of Tubas, on Monday.

The Israeli army repeatedly displaces Palestinian families in the area, sometimes for weeks, so that it can hold training using explosives and shells. more

Israeli cabinet approves racist legislation defining nation-state of Jewish people

A controversial bill that officially defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people has been approved by cabinet despite warnings that the move risks undermining the country’s democratic character.

Opponents, including some cabinet ministers, said the new legislation defined reserved “national rights” for Jews only and not for its minorities, and rights groups condemned it as racist.

The bill, which is intended to become part of Israel’s basic laws, would recognise Israel’s Jewish character, institutionalise Jewish law as an inspiration for legislation and delist Arabic as a second official language.

Arab Muslims and Christians make up 20% of Israel’s population.

The cabinet passed the bill by a 14-7 majority after reports of rancorous exchanges during the meeting, including between the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and his justice minister, Tzipi Livni.

The bill, which still requires the Knesset’s approval to become a law, comes as tensions between Israelis and Palestinians rise sharply, and friction within Israel’s Arab minority grows. more

FM: PLO postpones UN resolution on occupation

The PLO has postponed submitting a draft resolution to the UN Security Council demanding the end of Israel's occupation, having already passed several target dates for the procedure over the past two months.

PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told Ma'an that the decision was made because the PLO is still lobbying to gain the support of nine security council members to ensure the vote passes.

The resolution was also suspended because Iran nuclear talks are currently the top priority for Security Council permanent members.

"The permanent member states have informed us that they would give priority to the Iranian issue not to the Palestinian statehood issue," al-Maliki said.

"We haven't backed down on the resolution or cancelled it despite the international opposition and US threats."

The PLO will submit a draft resolution to the UN Security Council as soon as Iran nuclear talks have finished and the required political support has been obtained.

The United States, in line with a decades-long policy, will likely veto any vote on Palestinian statehood.

In a speech at the 69th United Nations General Debate in September, President Abbas said that a resolution demanding an end to Israel's occupation would be submitted to the Security Council due to the failure of peace negotiations.

A draft of the resolution, obtained by AFP, calls for the "full withdrawal of Israel, the occupying power, from all of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, as rapidly as possible and to be fully completed within a specified time-frame, not to exceed November 2016."

In October, PLO Secretary General Yasser Abed Rabbo said the resolution would be submitted by the end of that month, while senior PLO official Wassel Abu Yusef said the draft resolution would be submitted by the end of November. more