Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Egyptian Minister: We will confiscate Hamas funds, arrest its leaders

CAIRO, (PIC)-- The Egyptian Minister of Justice Mahfouz Saber said that a government committee will start confiscating all properties and funds of Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, after being labeled “terrorist organization”.

Mahfouz told Ahramonline website that “Hamas has been labeled as a terrorist organization which is dangerous to the Egyptian national security. Thus, its members in Egypt will be arrested and its funds along with headquarters will be confiscated”.

“The government will not appeal the (court) verdict against Hamas which means it is enforceable”, the minister elaborated. more

Israel says doubling water supplies to Gaza

Israel is to double the amount of water it channels annually to Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip, a defense ministry body said Wednesday.

A humanitarian crisis has gripped Gaza since a July-August war with Israel, which controls most of the territory's resources, its imports and exports as well as the movement of people.

The body responsible for coordinating Israeli government activity in the Palestinian territories, COGAT, said it is to increase the volume of water it provides to Gaza from five to 10 million cubic meters (175 to 350 million cubic feet) per year, beginning within days.

The decision was in response to growing needs in the Palestinian enclave, a spokeswoman told AFP. more

UN envoy urges Israel to investigate civilian deaths during Gaza war

Israel should investigate the killing of more than 1,500 Palestinian civilians, one third of them children, during the war on the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014, and should make the findings public, according to a report submitted Tuesday to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The report was issued by Makarim Wibisono who has recently become UN Human Rights Council special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territory. It was his first report since he replaced Richard Falk.

In his report, Wibisono, a former Indonesian ambassador, said that 2,256 Palestinians were killed during the military confrontation in the Gaza Strip in July and August 2014 of whom 1,563 were civilians including 538 children. Israel, he added, says its army launched a military offensive in response to rockets fired from the Hamas-run coastal enclave at Israeli towns bordering the area. Sixty-six Israeli soldiers and five civilians were killed.

"The stark disparity in casualty figures on the two sides ... reflects the (skewed) balance of power and the disproportionate cost borne by Palestinian civilians, raising questions as to whether Israel adhered to the international law principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions," Wibisono said. more

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

One in five of Gaza’s herders ceases farming amid Israel’s attacks, siege

Muhammad Abu Safiyya lost everything during Israel’s 51-day attack on Gaza during the summer of 2014.

Most of the thirty-six homes in his village, also called Abu Safiyya, were completely destroyed after Israeli forces invaded.

“We came back during ceasefires and each time we returned we found [the area] worse,” the 54-year-old father of six told The Electronic Intifada.

The signs of destruction still remain visible in the northern Gaza village. A pair of torched cars rest on their sides near the barn on Abu Safiyya’s farm and a large John Deere tractor is now an immense pile of contorted steel.

During the offensive, Israeli strikes killed 2,257 Palestinians, most of whom were civilians, according to the United Nations monitoring group OCHA.

“There aren’t any water wells left and [Israel] destroyed the mosque,” Abu Safiyya said.

Abu Safiyya is unable to calculate how much it will cost him to repair the damage. “It’s impossible to know exactly how much we lost,” he said, explaining that “much of our land was destroyed by tanks and we’ve had trouble getting the lentils to grow.”

Some fifty of his cows and a dozen sheep died because of the attack. As he walked down the dirt road from his home, patches of sheep skin could be seen on the ground. “Some were shot, others starved when we were gone,” he said.

He is just one of thousands of farmers and agricultural workers throughout Gaza whose land was damaged and whose livestock were killed.

According to statistics provided to The Electronic Intifada by the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Gaza’s total livestock population decreased by 13 percent between 2010 and 2014.

Nearly 10,000 goats and sheep died in that four-year span, during which Gaza endured two major Israeli attacks.

Dependent on the animals for their income, the total number of herders pursuing their traditional livelihood also decreased by 22 percent, according to the FAO. more

Israeli troops shoot, injure young Palestinian man west of Jenin

Israeli troops shot and injured a young Palestinian man during clashes in the northern West Bank town of Qabatia west of Jenin on Tuesday morning, security sources said.

Palestinian security sources told Ma'an that some 40 Israeli military vehicles stormed the town at dawn firing tear-gas canisters, stun grenades and rubber-coated balls. The presence of Israeli military provoked local young men who confronted the Israeli soldiers pelting them with stones and empty bottles.

The soldiers then started to use live ammunition and as a result 20-year-old Muhammad Ali Hithnawi was shot in his left foot. more

Monday, 2 March 2015

Gaza's sole power plant to close as funding runs out

Gaza's only power plant is due to shut down by the end of this week as donor funding for fuel in the coastal territory has run out, officials said.

The energy and natural resource authority told Ma'an that the power plant had been using a Qatari grant to pay for diesel fuel to maintain operations.

Gaza's sole power station, which was damaged during the war, is struggling with a severe lack of fuel and is only able to supply the enclave with six hours of power per day.

In July, Amnesty International said that there could be no justification for "targeting a civilian structure that provides crucial services to so many civilians."

"The strike on the power plant, which cut off electricity and running water to Gaza's 1.8 million residents and numerous hospitals has catastrophic humanitarian implications and is very likely to amount to a war crime," Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme, said. more

Israeli navy opens fire at Gaza fishing boats

Israeli naval boats on Monday opened fire at fishermen off the coast of northern Gaza, residents said.

The incident occurred near the neighborhood of al-Sudaniyya, with the fishermen returning to shore for fear of arrest or having their vessels confiscated.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said she was looking into the incident.

On Sunday, residents said Israeli boats opened fire at fishermen in the early morning. No injuries were reported.

There are around 4,000 Palestinian fishermen in the coastal enclave, 90 percent of whom are poor according to a 2011 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross. more

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Israeli forces shoot, injure 2 young men in Duheisha camp

Israeli troops shot and injured two young Palestinian men on Sunday morning in Duheisha refugee camp south of Bethlehem in the southern West Bank.

Locals told Ma'an that clashes broke out early in the morning between young Palestinian men and Israeli soldiers who raided the refugee camp at dawn to detain a young man from his house. The victims were evacuated to Bethlehem district's public hospital in Beit Jala.

An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma'an as forces entered the camp, young Palestinians threw a grenade at soldiers who responded with live fire at the lower extremities with .22 caliber rounds. One hit and slight injury was confirmed.

Before they left the camp, Israeli troops detained 26-year-old Bilal al-Sayfi and took him to an unknown destination.

Israeli forces shot and killed Palestinian teenager Jihad Shehada al-Jaafari in Duheisha camp last week. more

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Hamas slams Egyptian court for 'terrorist' label

From Middle East Monitor - The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, denounced as "shocking" on Saturday an Egyptian court decision to designate the group as a "terrorist organisation". This, spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Anadolu, is a "dangerous" decision which represents a "shift" in Egypt-Palestine relations.

"Unfortunately, the situation has been turned upside down," said Abu Zuhri. "Israel the enemy has become a friend of Egypt while Hamas - which is an integral part of the Palestinian people – has become a terrorist." Nevertheless, he insisted that Hamas will not be affected by the court's decision." "It has been made," he said, "to export Egypt's domestic problems."

Earlier on Saturday the Egyptian court made the "terrorist" designation of Hamas following claims that the movement had carried out terrorist attacks in Egypt through tunnels linking the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip. In March last year the same court outlawed Hamas activities in Egypt and closed its offices, confiscating all of the contents. more

Audio: 11-year-old Gaza musician - "The only shelter for me was my music"

From The Electronic Intifada - Eleven-year-old Firas al-Shirafi has experienced three major offensives against Gaza during his short life. Last summer, he was confined to his home in the Tal al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City as it was too dangerous to venture outside. As Israel bombed and shelled buildings and infrastructure across the Strip, Firas did his best to replace the sounds of destruction with life-affirming tunes.

“The only shelter for me was my music,” said Firas, who plays the qanun, a traditional string instrument.

Firas has been studying at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music since he was five. “We immediately realized that this boy would have a promising musical future,” Ibrahim al-Najjar, director of the conservatory’s Gaza branch, told The Electronic Intifada. “His father and grandfather were musicians.”

The conservatory, which also operates at several locations in the occupied West Bank, took over Gaza’s previous music school (which was affilated with the not-for-profit A.M. Qattan Foundation) in April 2012. more

Hamas: Dagan's remarks on Gaza admission of Israel's military defeat

GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement said that the former Mossad chief's remarks about the military failure of premier Benjamin Netanyahu in the Gaza Strip was an additional Israeli admission that the Palestinian resistance had soundly defeated the Israeli army.

Spokesman for the Movement Sami Abu Zuhri stated on Friday that all the Israeli government's attempts to mitigate the impact of its defeat by the resistance in Gaza would be doomed to failure.

Former head of the Mossad Meir Dagan had said that Netanyahu's attitude towards regional issues caused great strategic damage to Israel, admitting, in particular, that the last war on Gaza had failed miserably.

Dagan stated in an interview conducted by Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper that the way Netanyahu always dealt with internal and external issues would not serve Israel's interests and would inflict, instead, strategic losses upon Israel. more

One person killed and one wounded in bomb explosion east of Rafah

One man was killed and his brother wounded, this Saturday afternoon, as result of the explosion of a suspicious object in the airport area, east of Rafah.

A spokesman of the Ministry of Health in Gaza, Dr. Ashraf, reported on his Facebook that Naji Abu Sabaleh (21) died today, and his brother Akram (18) was severely wounded on the face and abdomen. more

6 months after war - Gaza counts cost of failed reconstruction promises

Six months after a ceasefire agreement ended Israel's 50-day military offensive on the Gaza Strip, Palestinians in the war-torn territory remain hostage to a UN-brokered reconstruction mechanism which has failed to deliver.

On Sept. 16, Robert Serry, the UN envoy for the Middle East, announced a deal to ease restrictions on imports of construction materials to Gaza to enable the reconstruction of the territory.

Over 100,000 homes were destroyed or damaged during the conflict, with thousands of other structures, including 24 schools, razed to the ground.

The Shelter Cluster, an international group co-chaired by the UN refugee agency and the Red Cross, estimates that an average of 440 trucks of building materials would be required to enter Gaza each day to complete the reconstruction process within five years.

Figures published by OXFAM on Thursday show that 1,661 trucks of the most essential construction materials -- aggregates, steel bars and cement -- have entered Gaza in the three months since a donor conference pledged $5.4 billion for reconstruction in October, less that 0.25 percent of what is needed.

At current rates it would take up to 100 years to rebuild homes, schools and other damaged infrastructure, OXFAM said. more

Friday, 27 February 2015

Israel to increase West Bank power cuts

The Energy and Natural Resources of the Palestinian National Authority said, on Thursday, that they had received an official notice from the Israeli power company stating their attention to cut power in areas extending over north and south of the West Bank.

The Chief Assistant of the Energy Authority, Zafer Melhem, said that the Israeli company notice included reduction of power loads, provided to the population centers in the Palestinian Authority areas, up to 50%, but did not specify the exact date.

The power company has cut off the electricity to a number of areas in Nablus and Jenin twice during this past week, 45 minutes on Monday and an hour on Wednesday, after only one hour of issuing a warning notice in this regard.

According to the notice, the current power cut is the "last warning", the Israeli company will cut off electricity in the coming times without any warning. more