Thursday, 24 April 2014

New campaign resource boosts efforts to burst SodaStream’s bubble


As the campaign to boycott SodaStream gains momentum, supporters have a new resource to use in their advocacy and education work.

The slick website burstthebubble.org, launched by Jewish Voice for Peace’s Seattle chapter, makes the case in plain language for why the carbonated beverage device manufacturer should be boycotted. SodaStream’s attempts to brand its product to consumers concerned with social responsibility is busted in a series of short videos which are simple and effective.

SodaStream’s products are assembled in a plant on occupied Palestinian land by exploited Palestinian laborers, the website explains.

Despite the corporation’s attempt to promote a picture of Israeli-Palestinian coexistence at its factory, the purpose of SodaStream’s plant in the Mishor Adumim industrial park “is not to improve the lives of Palestinians living under occupation but to pad the pockets of an international corporation,” it is stated in one of the videos.

Ninety percent of the plant laborers are Palestinians, who “have little choice but to work for the settlers who exploit the land that was theirs” because of Israeli occupation and colonization’s destruction of the Palestinian economy.

Meanwhile, “SodaStream gets kickbacks from the Israeli government for profitting from an illegal occupation,” enjoying state benefits for participating in Israel’s illegal settlement colony enterprise.

The consumer who purchases SodaStream products gives “money to a company that financially supports an Israeli settlement. The Palestinians who have been dispossessed get nothing.” more

Body of Hamas fighter found off Gaza coast


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Fishermen in the Gaza Strip on Thursday found the body of a Palestinian fighter affiliated with Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades, Gaza security services said.

Fishermen spotted the body off the coast of Rafah and Hamas naval units immediately rushed to recover it from the sea.

It is believed to be the body of Ashraf Nassar, 22, who was killed last week during a military drill. more

Israeli tanks enter Gaza border area, navy fires at fishermen


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Six Israeli military tanks on Thursday entered a border area in the southern Gaza Strip, witnesses said.

The tanks crossed into Gaza in an area called al-Qarara, north of Khan Younis, and levelled agricultural fields before leaving.

Three helicopters were seen hovering at a low altitude during the incursion.

Meanwhile, Israel's navy opened fire at fishermen off the coast of northern Gaza, locals said.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said a "Palestinian vessel deviated from the designated fishing zone. Naval forces called at them to stop and fired warning shots in the air. Once it failed to comply, naval forces approached the vessel and the fishermen were taken for questioning."

Local activists named the fishermen as Hamdi Sultan and Muhammad Zayid. more

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Fatah, Hamas ready to implement unity agreement


BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian factions have reached agreement over the terms of a reconciliation deal and will announce the details later in the day, Palestinian officials told Ma'an Wednesday.

Presidential and parliamentary elections, the formation of a unity government, and the restructuring of the PLO are three of the key issues to be implemented simultaneously, officials told Ma'an.

The parties also agreed that both Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the occupied West Bank would release prisoners detained for their political affiliation.

The Freedoms Committee, one of several bodies created to follow-up on the 2011 Egypt-brokered unity deal, will determine the numbers of prisoners to be released on both sides.

Hamas and PLO officials have agreed to form a unity government within five weeks that will be headed by either President Mahmoud Abbas or former Deputy Prime Minister of the 2006 unity government Nasser al-Din al-Shaer, who is a member of Hamas. more

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

‘NYT’ photo feature on women in Gaza ignores Israel and Palestine


In what might be justified by the New York Times as an attempt to “depoliticize” and “humanize” Palestinian women in Gaza the paper ran a photo essay this past Sunday titled “Female in Gaza.” However the article obfuscates, covering up Israeli oppression and obscuring Gaza’s connection to the West Bank and to Palestinians in general.

The introductory text for the article mentions Gaza eight times, but never uses the word “Palestinian” or “Palestine” and mentions Israel only once, despite mentioning towering concrete blast walls, barbed wire, drones, patrolling soldiers, border controls, etc.. ”I have been photographing in Gaza for several years, initially to cover the conflict with Israel, but over time returning because I am mesmerized by the women, and their strength,” author Monique Jaques explained. Gaza is portrayed as a disconnected disembodied place in conflict with Israel where residents seem to have some undefined interest in the West Bank, “Her dream is to sing in Ramallah, a city in the West Bank.”

The article also avoids mentioning Egypt, except for one photo caption which only appeared online: “A girl completed a jump at Al-Faisal Riding Club in northern Gaza. Horses are brought in from Egypt and are well cared for by elite families.”

In the 14 photos online there is a single mention of the word “Palestinian” in a caption that also appeared in the print edition: ”A girl showed off her nails in the colors of the Palestinian flag.” more

Palestinian prisoners ready for mass hunger strike


Nearly two hundred Palestinian administrative detainees, held indefinitely without charge or trial on Israeli military court orders, have announced plans to launch a mass hunger strike for their freedom this Thursday.

The news came as demonstrations across Palestine and events worldwide commemorated the 40th annual Palestinian Prisoners’ Day

Thousands marched from an exhibition at Saraya square, the former site of Israel’s Gaza central prison, to rally outside the International Committee of the Red Cross’ Gaza office.

After the demonstrations, Ibrahim Baroud, freed from Israeli captivity a year ago, spoke with The Electronic Intifada at his home in the northern Gaza Strip’s Jabaliya refugee camp.

Among hundreds of thousands of former Palestinian prisoners in the Gaza Strip, Baroud is notable not only because of his 27-year detention, which makes him one of the longest-held Palestinians, but also because of his mother’s efforts during his absence.

In 1995, nine years after her son’s capture by Israeli forces, Ghalia — also known as Um Ibrahim — held a sit-in at the courtyard of the International Committee of the Red Cross office with Handoumeh Wishah, or Um Jaber, who had four sons in prison at the time.

Initially small, their presence persisted week after week, year after year, persevering through political transitions and military offensives, and growing into the core of prisoner support activities in Gaza. The sit-ins have now become a local focus of political unity. more

Israel rejects Abbas conditions for extending talks


JERUSALEM (AFP) -- President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday that he would extend faltering peace talks with Israel only if it agreed to conditions, including a settlement freeze, which it promptly rejected.

Abbas listed his demands during a meeting with Israeli journalists at his headquarters in Ramallah just a week before a nine-month target for a peace deal.

His comments came as US envoy Martin Indyk went into a new meeting with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in a bid to save the US-sponsored talks from collapse.

Abbas said he would agree to an extension of negotiations beyond the April 29 deadline if Israel frees a group of prisoners as previously earmarked for release and discusses the borders of a future Palestinian state. more

PLO delegation 'to arrive in Gaza Tuesday evening'


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A delegation representing the PLO is expected to arrive in Gaza on Tuesday evening for reconciliation meetings with Hamas, a Fatah spokesman said.

Fayiz Abu Eita said the delegation would be comprised of Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad, Secretary-General of the Palestinian People's Party Bassam al-Salhi, businessman Munib al-Masri, Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative Mustafa Barghouti, and Secretary-General of the Palestinian Arab Front Jamil Shehadah.

After being denied a permit to enter Gaza through the Erez crossing Monday, Barghouti was granted one Tuesday, Eita said.

The delegation hopes to establish a national unity government with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and to plan future elections and a restructuring of the PLO, he added. more

Monday, 21 April 2014

Senior Hamas official arrives in Gaza for reconciliation talks


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouq arrived in Gaza via the Rafah crossing on Monday, where he was welcomed by a delegation of Hamas and Fatah officials.

The senior official, who is based in Egypt, arrived in the besieged territory for reconciliation talks with a delegation of PLO officials.

Senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad, secretary general of the Palestinian People's Party, Bassam al-Salhi, secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative, Mustafa al-Barghouthi, secretary general of the Palestinian Arab Front, Jamil Shehada, and businessman Munib al-Masri are due to arrive in Gaza over the next 48 hours. more

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Israeli forces storm Aqsa compound, 16 detained


JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- More than a dozen Palestinian worshipers were detained as clashes broke in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Sunday morning between worshipers and Israeli forces who stormed the courtyards firing stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets.

The raid comes amid frequent clashes in recent days after right-wing Jewish groups urged Jews to flock to the compound -- which they believe is the site of a former Jewish temple -- and conduct Passover rituals inside.

Director of Al-Aqsa Mosque Omar Kiswani told Ma'an that more than 400 police officers stormed the courtyard of the Al-Aqsa Mosque through the Moroccan Gate and the Chain Gate escorting Ultra-Orthodox Jews other Jewish visitors into the compound. more

Rafah crossing to open for Muslim pilgrims Sunday


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities will open the Rafah crossing with Gaza on Sunday to allow pilgrims headed for Saudi Arabia to pass through, a Gaza official said.

A Palestinian official told Ma'an that the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip will be open Sunday and Monday for Umrah pilgrims heading to Mecca.

Pilgrims returning from Mecca will be allowed to pass back into Gaza on Tuesday.

The crossing will be closed for all other cases, the official said. more

Friday, 18 April 2014

Fuel shortage in Gaza Strip due to Isaeli holiday closures


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Gaza Strip is suffering from a fuel shortage due to the repeated closures of the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel over the Passover holidays, officials said on Friday.

Member of the administrative council of petroleum and gas company owners Mohammad al-Abadla told Ma'an that the Gaza Strip has been experiencing a diesel, petrol, and gas crisis for the last 10 days due to a supply shortage, which has been aggravated by closures for the Jewish holiday.

Al-Abadla said that not enough fuel is currently being allowed to enter by Israel, and that any amount currently received is distributed directly to gas stations, which have been left with no fuel reserves.

He added that when the crossing is open around 150 thousand litres of gasoline, 200K-250 thousand litres of diesel, and 200 tons of cooking gas are able to enter into the strip.

The crossing was closed on April 14, 15, and 18 and is scheduled to be closed on April 20, 21, 25, and May 5, 6, as well as June 3 and 4, in addition to weekly closures on Fridays and Saturdays. more

Thousands march across West Bank, Gaza to mark Prisoners Day


BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- At least ten Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces on Thursday as thousands participated in protests across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to commemorate the annual Palestinian Prisoners Day.

Large demonstrations took place in Hebron, Gaza City, Jenin, Nablus, and Ramallah to mark the day of solidarity with the more than 5,000 Palestinian prisoners currently being held in Israeli prisons.

The demonstrations took place amid a major row with Israel over its failure to release a batch of prisoners held for more than twenty years as previously agreed upon as a part of ongoing peace negotiations. more

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Medics: 3 killed in Khan Younis explosion


GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – Three Palestinian men were killed and four others injured in an explosion in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, medical sources said.

A spokesman of the Hamas-run Gaza ministry of health told Ma’an that the circumstances behind the explosion were not clear.

Ashraf al-Qidra added that ambulances evacuated two dead men and one critically injured person. The third victim was pronounced dead shortly after he arrived at the European Hospital in Kahn Younis.

Eight others sustained minor wounds caused by shrapnel. They were in stable condition.

Hamas sources told Ma'an that the victims were members of the group's al-Qassam Brigades militant wing, and were killed while preparing explosive devices. more