Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Haniyeh hails Palestinian resistance victory in massive Gaza rally


Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh greeted thousands of Palestinians in a central Gaza square on Wednesday in a massive victory rally following the signing of a long-term ceasefire that concluded 50 days of intense conflict with Israel.

The speech followed the release of polls earlier in the day showing widespread belief in Gaza that the Palestinian military resistance had increased its deterrence capacity and overwhelming support for the firing of rockets into Israel.

In his speech, Haniyeh hailed the people of Gaza and the resistance forces for their steadfastness in the fight against Israel, which claimed the lives of more than 2,100 Palestinians -- the overwhelming majority of whom were civilians -- and left 64 Israeli soldiers dead, in addition to six civilians in Israel.

"Those whose blood was spilled and the martyrs were the fuel of this victory," Haniyeh said during the rally, emphasizing to the crowd of thousands that the resistance had been preparing for the battle for years.

"It is not possible to express this victory with words and speeches," he added.

"The victory is beyond the limits of time and place. This battle is a war that lacks a precedent in the history of conflict with the enemy," he said, stressing that the group was preparing for the "ultimate battle" for the liberation of Palestine.

"The war began with fire on Haifa and ended with fire on Haifa," he told the crowd, highlighting the fact that Hamas had managed to fight throughout the seven-week Israeli assault and emerged with its military strength intact.

"The Palestinians who couldn't celebrate Eid al-Fitr because of the fighting and because they were on the battlefield, today celebrate the celebration of victory." more

Jerusalem faces largest surge in arrests since 2nd Intifada


Palestinian communities in Jerusalem are experiencing the largest upsurge in detentions since the Second Intifada, with a marked increase in Israeli police brutality and the collective punishment of entire neighborhoods, local organizations say.

The mass detentions began following widespread demonstrations in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shufat after the murder of teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir on July 2.

Since then, over 770 Palestinians have been detained in East Jerusalem, according to Addameer prisoner rights group.

The arrests in Jerusalem took place parallel to a wide-reaching detention campaign in the West Bank, which saw between 800-1,000 Palestinians detained following the kidnapping of three Israeli youths on June 12.

Although the majority have been released, police brutality, the bail conditions set for detainees and a system of closures on Palestinian areas have made life difficult for individuals and whole neighborhoods alike.

Around 70 Palestinians detained are still in police custody, with many transferred to detention cells in Lod after the Russian Compound in Jerusalem reached full capacity.

"It's collective punishment for all Jerusalem residents," Mahmoud Qaraeen from the Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan told Ma'an. more

Israel lost the war in Gaza but the struggle for justice goes on


There is one clear reason to celebrate the ceasefire deal Israel and the Palestinian resistance reached today: 51 days and nights of relentless Israeli massacres and destruction have come to an end in Gaza.

With reports that Israel has agreed to reopen Gaza’s borders, Hamas announced victory and Palestinians, especially in Gaza, are celebrating. Among many Israelis, meanwhile, there is a feeling of bitterness and defeat.

“What Netanyahu and his colleagues have brought down on Israel, in a conflict between the region’s strongest army and an organization numbering 10,000, is not just a defeat. It’s a downfall,” wrote Haaretz’s Amir Oren in a stunning admission of how much Israel has been set back.

Some observers are treating the latest events with understandable caution.

“I do not feel in a rejoicing mood, only glad that no more people and children will die,” Gaza writer Omar Ghraieb wrote to me.

In addition to the more than 2,100 killed, “so many people got injured, houses got bombed, towers got leveled and life got deformed,” Ghraieb adds. “I would rather just watch closely what awaits Gaza.”

Indeed, Israel has a long history of violating almost every agreement it has ever signed with Palestinians, from the 1993 Oslo accords to previous ceasefires in Gaza.

Israel agreed to open the crossings as part of its November 2012 ceasefire deal with the Palestinian resistance, but reneged. This time Israel knows the stakes are much higher if it violates those terms again. more

Skies calm over Gaza as truce takes hold


The skies over the Gaza Strip were calm Wednesday as a long-term ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians took hold after 50 days of the deadliest violence in a decade.

Millions in and around the war-torn enclave enjoyed a welcome night of peace during which there were no strikes on Gaza, nor Palestinian rockets fired at Israel, the Israeli army said.

"Since the truce came into force, there has been no IDF activity in Gaza, and no rocket fire on Israel," a military spokeswoman said 12 hours after the guns on both sides fell silent.

In Gaza, where celebrations erupted once the truce took hold on Tuesday, the festivities continued late into the night as its 1.8 million residents revelled in the end of seven weeks of bloody violence.

The conflict, which began on July 8 when Israel began Operation Protective Edge in a bid to stamp out cross-border rocket fire, has claimed the lives of 2,143 Palestinians and 70 on the Israeli side. more

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

In last interview, Auschwitz survivor urged Palestinians "not to give up their fight"


From The Electronic Intifada, by Adri Nieuwhof - I mourn the loss of Hajo Meyer, a friend who fearlessly raised his voice to combat Zionism and to express his support for the struggle of the Palestinian people for freedom and equality. Hajo passed away in his sleep on 23 August, just days after his ninetieth birthday.

Hajo was born in 1924 and had to flee alone from Nazi Germany at the age of 14 because the Nazis would not allow him to attend school anymore. His parents sent him to the Netherlands in January 1939.

A year later, the Netherlands was occupied by Germany. In 1943, Hajo went into hiding but was captured by the Gestapo in March 1944 and deported to the Auschwitz death camp where the Nazis tattooed number “179679” on his arm.

After the war, Meyer returned to the Netherlands where he had a long career as a physicist. He also took up making violins in his retirement.

In a previous interview with The Electronic Intifada, Hajo said: “For as long as I can, I will continue to utter my criticism of inhuman Zionist behavior.”

On 29 July, I traveled to Meyer’s home in Heiloo in the Netherlands, to discuss the Israeli onslaught on Gaza, where the tired Hajo gave The Electronic Intifada his last interview.

I asked Hajo how he felt. “I can’t answer you positively, due to old age which prevents me from any activity in supporting the Palestinians,” he replied. “To be that old comes with such great loss of capacities, it is quite a task,” he said.

He reflected on how lucky he was to survive Auschwitz with some comrades.

Reber Dosky, a Kurdish refugee residing in the Netherlands, made My Good Fortune in Auschwitz (2012), a short documentary about Hajo’s survival with his comrade Jos Slagter. In the documentary, Hajo plays one of the melancholic Yiddish tunes he used to test the sound of the violins he had made (watch it below — with English subtitles).


When I spoke to him, Hajo denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s accusations that the large demonstrations against Israel’s attacks on Gaza are an expression of an increasing hatred against Israel.

“If we want to stay really human beings, we must get up and call the Zionists what they are: Nazi criminals,” Meyer said. The hate of the Jews by the Germans “was less deeply rooted than the hate of the Palestinians by the Israeli Jews,” he observed. “The brainwashing of the Jewish Israeli populations is going on for over sixty years. They cannot see a Palestinian as a human being.” more

Israelis at war over the implications of defeat in Gaza


From Israel's Jerusalem Post - Murmurs of dissatisfaction rose from the political Left and Right Tuesday night, after Israel agreed to a cease-fire.

Meanwhile, Eshkol Regional Council chairman Haim Yellin indicated that he does not trust the cease-fire will last, saying residents of his constituency who evacuated should not return to their homes.

"It doesn't interest me what the government or Hamas say. I will only call on residents to return when I feel like there's a real cease-fire," Yellin told Channel 10 news.

Yellin also called on cabinet ministers to stay in the Eshkol Regional Council and make their decisions from there, not Jerusalem.

Just as half of the cabinet ministers were opposed to the cease-fire, many in the coalition expressed similar opinions.

Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel said "any agreement that doesn't include eliminating the rocket threat on residents of Israel and demilitarizing the Gaza Strip is less than half of what is necessary.

"In this reality, the defense establishment will have no choice but to prepare for the next round, which will be soon," Ariel added.

According to MK Danny Danon (Likud), in the Middle East, restraint is seen as weakness.

"Despite the heavy price Hamas paid, we did not defeat Hamas," he stated. "Fifty days of fighting, 64 soldiers killed, five civilians killed, 82,000 reservists called up and in the end we're back to the agreement from Operation Pillar of Defense." more

An Israeli view from Haaretz: After seven weeks of Gaza war, Hamas 1, Israel 0


From Haaretz - Is what started on 7.7 going to really end after seven weeks? Will both sides finally stop shooting at each other, wrap up Operation Protective Edge and start recovering from it?

The feeling in Tel Aviv is that this time the end is really near, on the assumption that the mutual concessions on the table are enough for both Israel and Hamas – or more accurately, are preferable to sticking to objectives that are not currently achievable.

A cold calculation of costs vs. benefits compared to the situation that prevailed on July 7 seems to show that Israel lost more. All it got was a restoration of the previous situation without anything to show for it, while it paid with 68 deaths, hundreds of wounded, and thousands of people uprooted from their homes. Although in each of those categories Israel’s loss represents only about 3 percent of what the Palestinians in Gaza suffered, there was no perceptible return on Israel’s investment. The Palestinians bled a lot more, but after less than two months of fire they can point to a potential improvement in their situation, which is the goal of any show of force.

In addition to the Israeli casualties, Hamas managed to disrupt life in Israel in a number of ways: A partial suspension of flights into Ben-Gurion Airport; the delay of the opening matches of the Premier League soccer season, and the cancellation of numerous concerts, performances, demonstrations and other public events, and the threat of a possible delay in opening the school year. For a time the communities near the border fence became an updated version of “Gush Katif,” the settlements that had to be evacuated from Gaza nine years ago.

Hamas deterred Israel’s defense minister, the celebrated hero of the paratroopers and the General Staff, from visiting Nahal Oz, on grounds that the damage caused by a mortar shell or by being forced to take shelter from one would give Hamas a photographic prize, as if there is no victory in forcing the defense minister to avoid visiting in the first place.

Israel extracted a tactical and not substantive concession from Hamas with regard to demilitarization that is effectively an Israeli concession. The Israeli demand to demilitarize the Strip was not realistic from the start. A demilitarized state can be established as a condition for transferring control there to a new sovereign – for example, in the West Bank, when the Palestinian Authority becomes a state – or following the surrender of the regime in it, as in Japan and Germany, where the Americans, within only a few years, came to regret their demands at the end of World War II as they sought strong allies for World War III, against the Soviets.

To expect Hamas, an organization that controls the Strip, to carry out a suicide attack by firing thousands of rockets and turning all the others into scrap, was noble but not serious. Insistence on it extended the conflict until in the end Israel folded and consigned demilitarization to the future. Hamas’ concession is that it agreed to allow demilitarization to be floated as a concept, to be addressed during future talks that may or may not take place, rather than having it dropped as if it had never been mentioned. When the time comes, a softer term will be chosen, like “arms control” or “thinning,” which without a mechanism for inspection, enforcement, and punishment for violations will also be of limited significance. more

Senior Hamas official: Israel agreed to open Gaza crossings


Israel has agreed to open Gaza crossings to allow the flow of humanitarian aid and construction material, senior Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzouq said Tuesday.

Speaking to Ma’an, Abu Marzouq added that three more Gaza crossings will be operated in addition the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings, which are already operating.

Asked about the fishing zone, he said that Gaza fishermen would be allowed to reach as far as 6 nautical miles and the zone would be increased gradually until it is 12 nautical miles by the end of 2014.

Reconstruction of the war-torn Gaza Strip will be discussed during a conference in Egypt next month, added Abu Marzouq. The Palestinian national consensus government will be in charge of implementation.

The Hamas official added that the ceasefire agreement was sponsored and would be monitored by Egypt only. more

Hamas declares victory, celebrations across Palestine


Immediately after the Gaza ceasefire went into effect Tuesday evening, Hamas urged Gazans to take to the streets and "celebrate victory and the fulfillment of the Palestinian people's demands."

In a news conference at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that "Israeli settlers who live around Gaza can go back to their homes after the ceasefire agreement went into effect."

He announced victory and congratulated the Palestinian people and the Arab nation for the victory which he said the Palestinian resistance achieved. more

Abbas announces Israel-Gaza long-term ceasefire, comes into effect at 7pm


BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday declared a long-term ceasefire agreement between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip.

In a short televised address, Abbas said the agreement would go into effect at 7 p.m.

For his part, deputy chief of Hamas' politburo Mousa Abu Marzouq wrote on his Twitter account that "talks have ended. We have reached understandings crowning our people's steadfastness and our resistance's triumph. We are awaiting a statement setting the zero point and end to the aggression."

A well-placed Palestinian source confirmed that Gaza border crossings would be open in tandem with an extended ceasefire.

The source explained that Egypt would issue a statement calling for a comprehensive and mutual ceasefire together with opening Gaza's crossings for the entry of construction material.

The Gaza fishing zone will also be increased.

In addition, the source said, Israel has pledged to stop targeted assassinations against Palestinian resistance activists and faction leaders.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that a round of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians would start in Cairo a month later to discuss unresolved issues. more

Abbas set to announce long-term ceasefire agreement


President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday will declare a long-term ceasefire agreement between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, Ma'an has learned.

Sources told Ma'an that Abbas would declare a long-term ceasefire agreement at 7:00 p.m.

The head of the Palestinian negotiating team in Cairo, Azzam al-Ahmad, has contacted officials in countries all over the world urging them to exert every possible effort to reach an agreement to end the Israeli military offensive and respond to the needs of the war-torn coastal enclave.

For his part, deputy chief of Hamas' politburo Mousa Abu Marzouq wrote on his Twitter account that "talks have ended. We have reached understandings crowning our people's steadfastness and our resistance's triumph. We are awaiting a statement setting the zero point and end to the aggression." more

Israeli drone captured in Gaza: Hamas


The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, has seized an Israeli reconnaissance drone in Gaza Strip’s Shejaiya district.

According to media reports, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades announced the capture of the “Zionist reconnaissance plane” via a message posted on its Arabic Twitter account on Monday.

In a separate statement, the brigades reportedly added that in addition to capturing the drone, Hamas fighters have also “continued to pound enemy positions and cities with dozens of rockets” in response to “Israeli crimes against our people and ongoing barbaric aggression on our people in Gaza.”

The statement further said the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades would “not remain silent on the crimes of the occupation” and that it would make Israel “pay a high price for its aggression, and think a thousand times before embarking on any aggression against our people.”

more

More Gaza housing towers destroyed by Israeli airstrikes


Israeli airstrikes destroyed two residential housing towers in Gaza City on Tuesday as two Palestinians were killed in overnight airstrikes.

Muhammad Muin Abu Ajwa and Hasan Omar al-Sawwaf were killed in airstrikes targeting central Gaza City.

Another strike on the Nasser neighborhood hit a 16-storey mixed-use complex known as "Little Italy", causing its complete collapse, witnesses said.

Witnesses said that F16s fired at least six rockets at the tower block, in which there were 60 apartments and a commercial complex including dozens of shops, completely destroying it.

They said residents had fled the building after the Israeli army sent them pre-recorded warning messages.

"The army told them to leave immediately and they all ran out into the street to find shelter," one told AFP.

Shortly afterwards, warplanes fired on the 14-storey al-Basha building in the western Rimal neighborhood, causing massive damage and wounding another 15 people, witnesses and medics said. more

Israeli forces detain 12 PFLP leaders in West Bank


NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces detained 12 leaders from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine overnight Monday, sources in the group told Ma'an.

Ahmad al-Haj Muhammad Abu al-Nimr and Zahi Khatatba were detained in the Nablus town of Furik, while Kamal Ibrahim Abu Tharifa, Youssef Abd al-Haq Abu Shaddad and Moussa Salama were arrested in Nablus.

Amjad Hamayil, 37, was arrested from his house in Beta during a raid.

In Jenin, Israeli forces detained Fadaa al-Zugheibi, Muhammad al-Zugheibi, Abdullah al-Afif, Alam Sami Masad and Jaafar Abu Salah.

Mustafa Orabi Nakhla, or Abu Wadee, was detained from al-Jalazun refugee camp in northern Ramallah.

The arrests of PFLP political leaders come a week after a senior official from the party was issued an order by Israel to leave Ramallah. more