Saturday, 25 October 2014

Israel troops kill US-Palestinian teen in West Bank

WASHINGTON (AFP) -- Washington confirmed that a Palestinian teenager shot dead by Israeli troops was a US citizen -- the second time this week an American child has fallen victim to the ongoing conflict.

The army said that the youth killed Friday had been about to hurl a petrol bomb at Israeli motorists near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

An army spokeswoman said troops posted at the village of Silwad to protect a major road widely used by Jewish settlers in the occupied territory spotted a person about to hurl a petrol bomb.

"The forces fired immediately to neutralize the danger ... and confirmed a hit," she said.

Palestinian officials named the youth as Orwa Hammad, 17, saying he was shot during a stone-throwing protest against troops, a regular occurrence at Silwad, near Ofra settlement.

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the US "expresses its deepest condolences to the family of a US citizen minor who was killed by the Israeli Defense Forces."

Calling for "a speedy and transparent investigation," Psaki said officials from the US consulate in Jerusalem were in touch with the family of the slain youth.

"We continue to urge all parties to help restore calm and avoid escalating tensions in the wake of the tragic recent incidents in Jerusalem and the West Bank," said Psaki.

Locals in Silwad said Hammad's father lives in the United States.

Also on Friday, police in annexed east Jerusalem clashed with Palestinians, firing tear gas to disperse stone-throwing protesters.

They were deployed in force ahead of weekly Muslim prayers as the army restricted access to a flashpoint mosque, after a deadly Palestinian attack sent tensions soaring. more

Israeli forces shoot, kill Palestinian teenager near Ramallah

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian teenager late Friday during clashes in Silwad village near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, medical officials said.

Orwa Abd al-Wahhab Hammad, 14, was shot multiple times with live bullets. He was taken to Palestine Medical Complex where he was pronounced dead.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said that soldiers fired at a Palestinian adult who was hurling a Molotov cocktail at forces in the area.

Witnesses said Hammad was hit by an Israeli sniper from close range, insisting the soldier shot to kill.

Orwa was a US national. His uncle was killed during the First Intifada. more

Friday, 24 October 2014

Bloodied and crumbling sculptures installed in destroyed Gaza neighbourhood

Broken, crumbling and splattered with “blood”, these haunting sculptures have been made by an artist in Gaza to show the pain of conflict.The 50-day war between Israel and Hamas earlier this year left more than 2,200 people dead and razed thousands of homes in the narrow strip to the ground.

Most of the casualties were civilians, including hundreds of children, according to the UN, reflected in artist Iyad Sabbah’s depiction of a family.

The sculptor, who is Palestinian and lives and works in Gaza, created them using mud and waste materials found in bombsites.

In an installation entitled Worn Out, the family of sculptures including a small child and a baby appear to move through debris and rubble and past shelled homes.

“Shuja’iyya neighborhood is one of the places that was completely destroyed, and the idea came to my head to do something about the war, to focus on displacement of the Palestinians,” he told the Cairo Post.

“The displacement scene is very influential, so the sculptures were put amid the wreckage of the destroyed houses in Shuja’iyya to show the suffering of the residents.”

They were also placed on a beach to symbolise the refugees fleeing to other countries illegally in a desperate attempt to escape the conflict.

Mr Sabbah, who lived through the most recent conflict in Gaza as well as violence in 2012 and 2008, said he wanted to represent the “psychological impact” of war and commemorate those who died. more

World Bank to approve emergency funds for Gaza

The World Bank is set to allocate millions of dollars for emergency aid to the war-torn Gaza Strip, a top official says.

Inger Andersen says the aid, expected to be approved Oct. 30, will fund repairs to damaged infrastructure and help the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority recover losses incurred in Israel’s five-week assault.

“We’re rushing through four emergency projects right now,” Andersen, the World Bank’s vice president for the Middle East and North Africa, said in an interview with Ma’an, which will air over the weekend.

“We are trying very much to respond to this crisis and respond quickly enough.”

The budget assistance will allow the Palestinian Authority to recoup the costs of medical bills from treating thousands of Palestinians hurt in the 50 days of violence.

The rest of the $63 million will go toward repairing water, power and municipal infrastructure. Existing World Bank projects are worth a combined $180 million, of which half is designated for Gaza.

Over 11,000 Palestinians suffered injuries during fighting between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza during July and August, according to United Nations estimates. More than 2,000 Palestinians and 73 Israelis died.

The UN also counts 18,000 households as destroyed or damaged, while over 100,000 Palestinians remained displaced by September. The enclave’s sole power plant has operated only a few hours per day since it came under fire. more

Israel imposes Aqsa restrictions amid police crackdown

Israeli forces imposed strict restrictions on Palestinian Muslim worshipers entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday, as police continue to deploy heavily across the city.

Men under 40 will not be allowed entry to the holy site, while women of all ages will have access.

Israeli border police have been deployed since the early morning in East Jerusalem and areas of the Old City to prevent crowds gathering to protest.

Two women, Hiba al-Tawil and Latifa Abd al-Latif, were detained late Thursday while leaving the mosque, witnesses said.

Israeli forces launched a widespread crackdown on Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem late Wednesday following a suspected car attack on pedestrians waiting for a light rail tram. more

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Video: Activists occupy Israel pavilion at Paris trade show

Activists occupied the Israel pavilion at the SIAL 2014 food industry trade fair in the Paris suburb of Villepinte on Tuesday.

As the video below shows, the activists held up signs condemning Israeli abuses of Palestinian rights and chanted slogans including: “No trade with apartheid,” “Boycott Israeli apartheid” and “Gaza, Gaza, We won’t forget!”

The dozen or so protestors belong to Campagne BDS France and a group called les Désobéissants (The Disobedient Ones).

“This action aimed to challenge the SIAL organizers and management and demand that in the future they cease to accept the participation of companies involved in Israel’s colonization, apartheid and war crimes,” Campagne BDS France said in a statement.

The video shows the activists being forcibly removed from the exhibition hall. Although police took down the names of the protestors, none were arrested. French activists have frequently faced prosecution for protests calling for the boycott of Israel. more

Tensions rise in Jerusalem following light railway attack

Renewed clashes broke out early Thursday in East Jerusalem following the death of a Palestinian suspect who rammed his car into pedestrians at a light railway station killing a 3-month old Israeli infant.

Israeli forces and Palestinians clashed in the al-Issawiya, Ras al-Amud, Silwan and a-Tur neighborhoods early Thursday, witnesses said.

Locals said the entrance to al-Issawiya had been closed shut by concrete blocks, with Israeli forces firing rounds of tear gas at locals protesting the closure.

A Palestinian youth was shot in the foot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the Ras al-Amud neighborhood, witnesses said.

On Wednesday evening, Abd al-Rahman al-Shaludi, 21, rammed a car into pedestrians in Jerusalem, killing a three-month-old Israeli girl, Haya Zissel Braun.

He was shot by police at the scene and later died in hospital.

Footage of the incident posted on YouTube showed a car driving at full speed off the main road and down the pavement where people were standing as two trams passed each other.

Another clip shot on a cellphone showed the driver lying on the ground in a T-shirt and ripped jeans as a man pointed a gun at him.

Al-Shaludi's 15-year-old brother was detained following the incident and released at dawn Thursday after being interrogated at the Russian Compound detention center.

In Silwan, where al-Shaludi is from, scores of police raided the family home, leading to clashes with local residents. more

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Palestinian child killed by unexploded Israeli ordnance in Gaza

A Palestinian child died on Wednesday after he touched an unexploded Israeli ordnance left over from the most recent offensive over the summer, causing it to explode.

Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said that 4-year-old Muhammad Sami Abu Jrad from the northern Gaza city of Beit Hanoun was killed after he came into contact with the ordnance.

Muhammad was severely injured when the ordnance exploded as a result of contact, and passed away after beign transferred to al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

Muhammad is at least the 10th person to be killed by unexploded Israeli ordnance, including six in August and three in September. more

Israel troops under fire on Egypt border, 2 injured

Israeli troops came under fire on the Israeli-Egyptian border on Wednesday afternoon, with two soldiers injured, news reports and Israel's army said.

Israel's Ynet news agency said the army dispatched large numbers of troops to the scene of the shooting.

An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the reports. more

Israeli forces open fire at Gaza fishermen, detain 5

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces detained five Gaza fishermen off the coast of Gaza City early Wednesday, an employee of a human rights group told Ma'an.

The employee, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Ma'an that Israeli naval forces opened fire "heavily" on a group of Palestinian fishermen.

Israeli forces "forced a boat of five fisherman from the Bakr family to stop, detained them, and dragged the boat to an unknown location."

No injuries were reported.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said that there were two "Palestinian vessels" carrying seven people near the northern Gaza Strip that "deviated from the designated fishing zone."

Israeli forces called on them to stop and fired warning shots into the air, and when the boats did not stop, in the "vicinity of the vessels."

The forces then took the Palestinians in for questioning, the spokeswoman said.

She said the Palestinians were 3,600 yards (1.8 nautical miles) from the fishing zone. more

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Video: Settlers cheer as Israeli soldiers attack disabled Palestinian child

This disturbing footage shot by Palestinian videographer Samih Da’na and published by the Israeli nongovernmental organization B’Tselem documents the violent abuse of a developmentally disabled Palestinian child.

As Israeli occupation soldiers abuse the child, settlers and their children cheer and shout abuse at Palestinians.

Da’na shot the footage on 19 October from his home in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, whose Palestinian residents are relentlessly targeted by occupation army and settler violence.

According to B’Tselem’s description of the video, “soldiers are seen holding the boy, handcuffing him, blindfolding him and closing him in the jeep, despite cries by Palestinian residents that the boy is mentally disabled. The footage also shows settlers from Kiryat Arba, watching the incident from behind the settlement’s fence. Some are seen calling out encouragement to the soldiers, including several racist remarks.”

Kiryat Arba, an illegal colony adjacent to Hebron, is home to some of the most notoriously racist and violent Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank.

In the description of the video, B’Tselem says that the occupation soldiers detained “a developmentally disabled Palestinian boy, who is under the age of criminal responsibility, on suspicion that he had thrown stones.”

“The boy, A. a-Rajbi (full name withheld in interest of privacy), who will be twelve in a month, was detained after Palestinian children threw stones at soldiers on the main road of the Jabel Johar neighborhood in Hebron, close to the settlement of Kiryat Arba,” B’Tselem says. more

Hamas: Gaza ceasefire talks to restart next week

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are to resume talks on a durable Gaza ceasefire next week in Cairo, a senior official of the Hamas movement said Monday.

"Hamas and the Palestinian factions will take part in a session of indirect negotiations with the (Israeli) occupation on the 27th of this month at the invitation of Egypt," said Hamas deputy leader Mousa Abu Marzouq.

He said on the movement's al-Ray website that the Palestinians would from the outset demand the opening of a Gaza port and reopening of the territory's airport.

Abu Marzouq told Ma'an via telephone that the talks would also focus on prisoners, reconstruction efforts, and other "unfinished cases and issues."

He said the same officials that took part in a previous round of Cairo negotiations would take part in this round.

Any step taken to ease the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip "will be met with a positive attitude," he added.

A source close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, contacted by AFP, gave no comment on the reported resumption of talks.

The two sides last month held their first Egyptian-mediated negotiations since the end in August of their devastating 50-day war in Gaza and agreed to schedule new talks for the last week of October.

The conflict killed more than 2,140 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and 73 on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers. more

Israeli forces demolish 3 Jerusalem houses, leaving 23 homeless

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli bulldozers demolished three Palestinian homes and three structures used for livestock in al-Tur east of the Old City of Jerusalem on Tuesday, residents said.

They said bulldozers of the Beit El settlement municipality were escorted by Israeli forces into al-Tur, where they demolished houses belonging to the al-Zari family, leaving 23 Palestinians homeless.

The Israeli officers first destroyed the main doors of the houses and forcibly evicted residents, homeowner Khader al-Zari told Ma'an.

"Israeli forces broke the main doors, forcibly evicted us and did not allow us to take out furniture or any possessions, but instead gave their workers 30 minutes to take our possessions out of the houses," al-Zari said.

Several pieces of furniture were still inside the houses as they were demolished, he added.

Al-Zari said the houses and structures were built in the 80s, and that the family had been attempting to obtain the necessary permits and licenses from the Israeli civil administration for years.

He said the family had paid over 150,000 shekels (about $40,000) for lawyers and engineers in order to escape demolition, "but to no avail."

A spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry unit in charge of civil administration in the Palestinian territories, did not immediately return Ma'an's calls or emails seeking comment. more

Monday, 20 October 2014

Gazans visit relatives jailed in Israel for 1st time since June

Over 60 Palestinians from Gaza visited relatives in Israeli jails on Monday for the first time since June, officials said.

A Palestinian crossings official said two buses carrying the relatives of Palestinian prisoners crossed into Israel, the first such visit since the trips were suspended in June.

The jail visits were banned following the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers.

Gaza families used to visit jailed relatives in Israel every Monday via the Erez crossing on buses run by the International Committee of the Red Cross. more