Saturday, 30 May 2015

Freedom flotilla trawler to arrive in Galicia, Spain

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) --A ship taking part in Freedom Flotilla III is set to dock in Bueu, Galicia, Spain Saturday in one of several stops before making a final voyage to the besieged Gaza Strip. Marianne will join other ships heading to Gaza in "a peaceful, nonviolent action to break the illegal and inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip," the Freedom Flotilla Coalition said.

Gaza has been under a crippling Israeli-administered military blockade since 2007.

The Scandinavian trawler Marianne will stop in Spain for the five-year commemoration of a brutal attack on the first Freedom Flotilla in 2010, when Israeli naval forces killed ten human rights activists on board.

The incident, which took place in international waters, sparked international outcry. more

Friday, 29 May 2015

Gaza power station to shut down due to fuel shortage

GAZA (Ma'an) -- The Gazan energy authority has announced that Gaza's sole power plant will stopping running on Saturday due to fuel shortages.

In a statement issued on Friday the authority blamed the Palestinian petroleum authority in Ramallah for reducing the plant's fuel share. The statement accused the General Petroleum Corporation of preventing the delivery of petrol to Gaza on unreasonable pretexts, ignoring all national and humanitarian considerations, and "deplorably blackmailing" the Gaza Strip.

The statement said that they had only been able to purchase enough fuel from local suppliers to keep the plant running for one more day. The plant was shut down for a month earlier this year after the Gazan energy authority was unable to afford the taxes demanded by the PA for importing fuel into besieged Gaza.

In December last year, Qatar had paid $10 million to the Palestinian Authority to cover the tax, effectively exempting the Gazan authorities from paying it, but by March that money dried up.

In early April, the Palestinian petroleum authority resumed fuel supplies, although relations with the Gazan energy authority have continued to deteriorate. more

Khader Adnan continues hunger strike despite health decline

Palestinian political prisoner Khader Adnan, 37, entered his 25th day on a hunger strike Friday protesting his ongoing administrative detention in Israeli prison.

Adnan is currently unable to move or stand up and is refusing medical testing, says director of the Palestine Prisoner's Center for Studies Rafat Hamduna.

In an open letter released earlier this month, Adnan wrote that the goal of his strike is to resist Israel and prevent it from tarnishing the achievement of prisoners who secured their freedom by going on hunger strikes in the past, only to be rearrested by military forces.

Adnan was detained on July 8, 2014 and sentenced to administrative detention for the 10th time in his life.

The arrest came in spite of Adnan's 66-day hunger strike in an Israeli prison in 2012 that inspired hundreds of prisoners to take on Israel's policy of holding detainees without charge.


Rafah crossing resealed after three days

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah crossing Thursday evening after it was open for three days to enable those stuck in Egypt and other countries to return to the Gaza Strip.

Director of the Gaza border and crossings Maher Abu Sabha said that a total of 1,629 Palestinians were able to return to the Gaza Strip from the Egypt between Tuesday and Thursday.

Traffic was allowed only to enter from Egypt, however exit from the strip was not permitted.

The crossing currently has no date scheduled for reopening. more

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Freedom flotilla, the Marianne, stops by France en route to Gaza

A crowd of around 100 people chanted “Long live Palestine, long live Gaza, down with Zionism,” at the Brest port in northwestern France on Wednesday as they waved to activists onboard the Marianne fishing boat heading to Gaza as part of the Freedom Flotilla III fleet.

The Marianne boat, with nine people from Sweden and Norway on board, departed from the Swedish Gothenburg port on May 10 carrying solar panels and medical equipment in an attempt to break the nine-year Israeli blockade on Gaza.

“I salute this initiative to break the unjust embargo on Gaza. Those activists are really courageous and brave to take such a step,” Sherifa, a 33-year-old doctor, from the crowd showing support, told Anadolu Agency.

Anaele Foveau, a 21-year-old student, said she came to show her support to the activists, calling other associations to take such “brave” steps.

“They came from far to defend a cause that touches every human beings… that’s just valiant,” said Abdelmounaim El Qsimi, 26, IT engineer.

The first “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” expedition in May 2010 became infamous after Israeli commandos killed eight Turkish nationals and an American of Turkish origin in a raid on the flotilla’s ships, the Mavi Marmara. Another person died in a Turkish hospital in 2014 after being in coma for almost four years.

The trawler, which has been jointly acquired by Ship to Gaza Sweden and Ship to Gaza Norway, is set to travel to the east of the Mediterranean and the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Charlie Andreasson, one of the Swedish activists onboard and a participant in the previous such expedition to Gaza in 2008 said: “This move will serve to break the illegal and inhuman siege on Gaza.”

“We want to deliver a message to the Palestinian people, we want to tell them you are not forgotten, people do care about you,” he added.

The boat is set to join other ships en route in order to reach Gaza by mid-June. ( Boats from Canadian Boat to Gaza, Greece Ship to Gaza, Freedom Flotilla Italia, Norway Ship to Gaza, South Africa Palestine Solidarity Alliance, Spain Rumbo a Gaza and Turkey’s Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH).) more

Palestinians refuse to back down on Israel FIFA vote

ZURICH (AFP) -- Palestine's football chief on Wednesday continued his refusal to back down on a threatened vote to suspend Israel from football's governing body after talks with increasingly desperate FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

"Nothing has changed, the vote is still on the agenda," Palestinian Football Association president Jibril Rajoub told AFP after the meeting with Blatter and as the countdown to Friday's vote gathered pace.

"The meeting lasted about one hour, there were no results," Rajoub said.

Palestine, which has been a FIFA member since 1998, wants the governing body to suspend Israel over its restrictions on the movement of Palestinian players, and opposes the participation in the Israeli championships of five clubs located in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, illegal under international law.

The vote is scheduled for Friday and needs a simple majority of over 50% of the 209 members to succeed.

Blatter has been lobbying furiously to try to avoid the vote, travelling to the Middle East last week to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and president Mahmoud Abbas.

Blatter strongly opposes the vote saying it brings politics into football and that Israel has not breached FIFA's statutes.

Israel Football Association President Ofer Eini was not in Wednesday's meeting and his delegation did not say whether contacts with Blatter or Rajoub were planned.

Arab delegations at a Confederation of African Football meeting walked out when Eini addressed the confederation in a Zurich hotel.

Rajoub said he opposed the protest and the Arab delegations should have stayed. more

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Egyptian navy shoots, injures Gaza fisherman

Egyptian naval forces late Monday opened fire on a Palestinian fishing boat off the coast of the southern Gaza Strip, injuring a fisherman from Rafah.

Palestinian sources identified the fisherman as Muhammad al-Bardawil.

The shooting came after two other Gazan fishermen were shot and injured by Israeli forces earlier in the day for allegedly leaving the designated fishing zone.

Last week, a Gazan fishing boat was damaged when Egyptian gunboats fired on it, although no injuries were reported.

Egypt upholds an Israeli military blockade on Gaza, keeping borders largely closed and limiting imports, exports, and the freedom of movement of its residents. more

Monday, 25 May 2015

Leave your house between 6 pm and 11 am ‘and we will break your legs’

On the 21st of May, a 16-year old Palestinian, Baraa Kalaid Madhun, was banned from his own home in Al Khalil (Hebron). Armed Israeli soldiers came to his house at 8 pm and told him to step outside. Allegedly stones had been thrown at the military base, which is adjacent to Baraa’s home, and the soldiers were accusing him of this incident.

For four hours the Israeli forces searched the house, whilst Baraa was held at gunpoint outside. They then told him that for the next 30 days, he was not allowed to be in his house between 6 in the evening and 11 in the morning. The logic behind this arrangement is based on the assumption that if during these 30 days no stones were thrown, then Baraa would be found guilty of the initial incident. The soldiers threatened to break his legs if he did not acknowledge these restrictions. Since then, armed Israeli soldiers have been searching his house each night, to see if he is there.

This latest incident is one of many. The family is constantly being harassed by the Israeli occupation forces. Baraa himself has already been arrested six times. During those previous arrests, the soldiers have been very violent, once even fracturing his shoulder. more

PalFest opens in Ramallah and Gaza

From MEMO - The Palestine Festival of Literature, popularly known as PalFest, opened on May 23rd simultaneously in Ramallah and Gaza. A large crowd packed Ramallah's Ottoman Court to hear a range of readings by both local and international writers and artists.

Literature has a strong and proud history in the Arab world, and specifically in Palestine literary figures such Ghassan Kanafani, Edward Said and Mahmoud Darwish are still revered today long after their deaths. The tradition of weaving art and politics remains intrinsic in the work of many amongst the new generation of Palestinian writers.

In contrast to some other recent cultural festivals in Palestine, PalFest seems again to be remaining true to its roots. Events are held inclusively in cities across historic Palestine and it continues to include many Palestinian and Arab writers alongside international figures. Venues are selected that can be near capacity whilst appreciating that single events will not draw thousands of people.

Alongside the busy program of events, participants are taken on tours around Palestine to help deepen their understanding of Palestinian realities and struggles where they hear first hand from local people. The writers and artists are also encouraged to use their international profiles to publish internationally about their experiences in Palestine once the festival has drawn to a close. Many participants have written passionately and articulately about Palestine in previous years and also subsequently endorsed the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. more

2 Gaza fishermen shot, injured by Israeli navy

Two Palestinian fishermen were shot and injured by Israeli navy forces off the coast of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip on Monday, a local union said.

Nizar Ayyash, speaker of the fishermen's union in Gaza, told Ma'an that Muhammad Ziad Bakr, 26, was taken to hospital for treatment after he was shot by Israeli forces.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said that a fishing vessel deviated from the designated fishing zone and after warning shots were fired, forces fired at the lower extremities of a fisherman.

A direct hit was confirmed, she added. more

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Egypt to open Rafah crossing into Gaza for 2 days

Egyptian authorities will open the Rafah border crossing for two days on Tuesday and Wednesday allowing passengers to travel from Egypt into Gaza, although not the other way around, Egyptian security sources told Ma'an.

Palestinian officials have reportedly been notified so as to make the necessary arrangements.

Rafah crossing has been the principal connection between Gaza's 1.8 million residents and the outside world since the imposition of an Israeli blockade on the coastal enclave since 2007. However, for the last two years, the Egyptian authorities have largely kept the crossing closed, due in large to Egyptian allegations that Hamas is supporting an Islamist insurgency pitched against the Egyptian government in the northern Sinai. more

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Israeli forces continue near daily fire on Gaza fishermen, farmers

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinians fishing boats while forces targeted farmers in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday.

Witnesses told Ma'an that the navel forces opened fire the fishing boats off the coast of Al-Nuseirat and Al-Zawayda refugee camps located in the central Gaza Strip.

An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma'an that several vessels deviated from the designated fishing zone Saturday morning, and retreated to shore after Israeli naval forces fired warning shots into the air, adding that no injuries were reported.

The shooting comes days after a fishing boat was damaged by Israeli fire earlier this week, while Israeli forces arrested two Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Beit Lahiya on May 10.

Separately on Saturday, Israeli forces reportedly opened fire at Palestinian farmers in eastern Khan Younis. more

Israeli forces suppress Bilin weekly march

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Dozens suffered excessive tear gas inhalation on Friday afternoon as Israeli forces dispersed the Bilin weekly march in western Ramallah using tear gas and rubber bullets, locals said.

Israeli forces also reportedly targeted ambulances and farmland with tear gas canisters, and caused a fire to break out in land planted with olive trees belonging to locals Mohammad Mustafa Abu Rahma and Ashraf al-Khatib. Palestinians as well as both Israeli and international activists participated in the march.

Israeli forces regularly use violent force to disperse the Bilin weekly march.

Last week saw dozens more protesters suffer excessive tear gas inhalation while taking part in a march to mark the 67th Nakba Day. more

Friday, 22 May 2015

Which countries are failing to deliver Gaza aid?

JERUSALEM (IRIN) -- Gulf Arab states and Turkey have spectacularly failed to fulfill their pledges to Gaza, contributing to a two-thirds shortfall in promised assistance to the beleaguered enclave, a new report reveals.

Qatar has delivered just 10 percent of the $1 billion it promised, while Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Kuwait between them have handed over just over $50 million of the $900 million they pledged, according to a World Bank report seen by IRIN ahead of its release.

Last summer's war between Israel, Hamas and other Islamist militants killed more than 2,000 Palestinians – mostly civilians – and left more than 100,000 homeless by the time of an August ceasefire.

Despite concerns about political instability and the possibility of renewed conflict, the international community came out in force at an October conference in Cairo, promising $3.5 billion to help Gaza rebuild.

The release of the World Bank’s numbers comes a month after UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, said that not a single one of the more than 5,000 completely destroyed homes in Gaza had been rebuilt.

Big donors come up short

Although $5.4 billion was widely vaunted as the takeaway figure from the Cairo conference, only $3.5 billion of it was actually allocated to Gaza.

As of late April, donors had given only 27.5 percent of the promised $3.5 billion, or $967 million.

However, only 35 percent of the aid pledged - or $1.2 billion - was actually fresh, with the majority coming from reallocated donations and emergency funding delivered as the bombs were still falling. Of this new aid, just 13.5 percent - or $165 million - has come through.

Qatar pledged $1 billion for Gaza and has delivered 10 percent; Saudi Arabia has given only 10 percent of its promised $500 million. Turkey and Kuwait both pledged $200 million: the former has produced only $520,000, and the latter none.

Other top pledges included the United Arab Emirates’ $200 million, which the World Bank said no data was available for, the United States' $277 million pledge, which is 84 percent delivered, and the European Union's $348 million, with a 40 percent delivery rate.

Gulf states have become increasingly important donors in recent years, providing hundreds of millions of dollars to emergencies across the globe. Last year, Saudi Arabia pledged $500 million to Iraq, while it recently announced it would fill the entirety of a $274 million appeal for Yemen.

Yet they have also been known to work outside the traditional humanitarian system, while there have been complaints of late payments (although Kuwait has been among the fastest states to turn pledges for Syria into cheques in the UN's name).

IRIN asked Saudi Arabian, Qatari and Kuwaiti representatives for comment, but had not received responses by the time of publication. more