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

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

New aid convoy to arrive in Gaza Sunday

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – A humanitarian aid convoy is scheduled to arrive in the besieged Gaza Strip next week via Egypt’s Rafah crossing, coordinator Issam Yousuf said Tuesday.

He said the convoy known as “Miles of Smiles 26” would arrive in Gaza City on Sunday.

Yousuf highlighted that the convoy is a continuation of the "Miles of Smiles" humanitarian aid to Gaza “which will continue until the oppressive siege comes to an end.” more

Medics: Palestinian woman dies after inhaling tear gas

BETHLEHEM (AFP) -- A Palestinian woman died in hospital after inhaling tear gas used by the Israeli army to disperse protesters near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, a medical official said Tuesday.

Late on Monday the army "fired tear gas near the home of the woman, who was suffering from health problems," the medical official told AFP.

The woman, in her 40s, "died after arriving at hospital," the official said.

The incident took place in Aida refugee camp northwest of Bethlehem.

"The death was not linked to the use of riot dispersal means by the army, including tear gas," an army spokeswoman said, confirming the clashes but giving no further details.

In a similar incident in January, an 85-year-old Palestinian man died in his own home after breathing in tear gas fired by Israeli security forces near the occupied West Bank city of Nablus. more

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian youth in northern Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian youth in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, witnesses told Ma'an.

Soldiers positioned at Erez crossing opened fire at a group of Palestinian men collecting stones from nearby fields, hitting 19-year-old Wasim Abu Audah in the leg, locals said.

An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed the shooting, saying there were 30 Palestinians gathered in the area. more

Monday, 14 April 2014

Israeli killed in West Bank shooting

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian gunmen shot and killed one person and injured two others in a car driven by an Israeli settler in the occupied West Bank on Monday, Israel's military said.

The Palestinians shot at the car in Tarqumiyah near Hebron in the West Bank, killing one person and injuring two passengers, according to Israeli news reports.

The victims were in their vehicle at the time of the shooting. more

Group: Explosive device hits Israeli jeep in southern Gaza Strip

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The military wing of the Democratic Front of the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for an attack targeting an Israeli military jeep near the Kissufim military base east of the Gaza Strip on Saturday.

The National Resistance Brigades said in a statement that "the military site Kissufim was also targeted with three mortar shells in response to the ongoing Israeli attacks on unarmed Palestinians."

An Israeli military spokeswoman said that "there was alarm in the area overnight," and an explosion was heard, but she said that Israeli forces were still searching the area. more

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Olympia Co-op lawfare case backfires as court fines anti-boycott plaintiffs

Anti-boycott campaigners in Washington state were dealt a significant — and expensive — court defeat yesterday.

The Washington State Court of Appeals upheld a 2012 ruling that affirmed the dismissal of a frivolous lawsuit against board members of the Olympia Food Co-op for their 2011 decision to boycott Israeli goods and products. The co-op was the first US grocery store to adopt and implement a consumer boycott of Israeli goods.

The lawsuit, filed by individuals in collusion with national anti-Palestinian organization StandWithUs, attempted to force co-op board members into rescinding their decision to implement the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

They are now mandated to pay $160,000 in statutory damages — $10,000 to each of the 16 co-op board members — as well as other legal fees.

“Those who would try to intimidate concerned citizens speaking out on behalf of Palestinian human rights should take note,” said Maria LaHood, senior staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, in a press release.

“The law and history are on the side of peaceful boycotts for social change, and today’s ruling reaffirms that this time-honored tradition is protected by the First Amendment. Instead of trying to suppress speech calling for Palestinian human rights, opponents should address such speech on the merits,” she added. more

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Video: Palestine activists make unscheduled splash at Israel’s Paris water party

Activists from the group BDS France crashed a water summit yesterday and urged dozens of stunned delegates not to cooperate with the Israeli water company Mekorot that pillages water sources in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The activists burst into the convention hall at the luxury Marriott Rive Gauche hotel in Paris, where delegates at the Global Water Summit 2014 were having breakfast.

An activist carrying a Palestinian flag called out “we are here to protest in a democratic way” as officials tried to block him and hustle him away, but later, as the above video shows, the activists were allowed to address the delegates directly.

Another activist can be seen calling out “You can choose whether to do business with criminals or not. That’s your responsibility, think about it.”

“Shame on you, people are dying there,” another protestor says. more

Friday, 11 April 2014

Former university Jewish chaplain on why Jews must oppose muzzling of Palestine solidarity activists

Northeastern University’s administration recently suspended its chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a recognized student group whose mission is to educate about the plight of Palestinians living under more than half a century of Israeli occupation. The administration also initially threatened some members of SJP with expulsion from the university.

As a former executive director of Northeastern University’s (NEU) Hillel Foundation and its university Jewish chaplain, I am especially sensitive to issues involving NEU’s Jewish students, Israel and anti-Semitism.

Not in spite of this, but because of this, I am deeply troubled by Northeastern’s actions. The university contends that its decision was based specifically on SJP not having followed explicit university rules and, more generally, by its acting in ways considered “uncivil” — in particular creating an atmosphere that caused some students, specifically Jewish students, to feel “unsafe.”

In reality, these are justifications that are patently untrue and meant to confuse at best, or, at worst, totally obscure the true motivations for the university’s actions. more

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Israel to confiscate vast area of Bethlehem village land

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – Israeli authorities on Thursday morning announced a decision to confiscate about 1,000 dunams (250 acres) of private Palestinian land in the town of al-Khader south of Bethlehem.

Deputy mayor of al-Khader Ismail Issa told Ma’an that high-level Israeli military commanders and Civil Administration officers along with a group of settlers toured private Palestinian fields in areas known locally as Khallat al-Fahm, al-Zaytouna and al-Absiyya.

They left yellow posters reading “State properties! No entry,” he said.

Issa added that the Israeli officers dropped copies of a statement which explained that 984 dunams of private land was slated for confiscation. Palestinian farmers who wish to contest the decision can object within 45 days, according to the statement.

The Palestinian liaison department has been notified of the Israeli decision, added Issa. more