Thursday, 2 July 2015

Video: Israelis use electric stun guns on Gaza flotilla passengers


Contrary to Israeli claims that the Marianne was taken peacefully, this video shows that armed commandos used brutal violence against unarmed passengers aboard the Gaza-bound boat early on Monday.



According to the organizers of the flotilla, 14 of the 18 civilian passengers and crew remain in Israeli custody more than two days after they were violently abducted in international waters to prevent them breaking the Israeli-imposed siege on Gaza.

Palestinian citizen of Israel and member of the Israeli parliament Basel Ghattas, former Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki, Spanish European Parliament member Ana Miranda and Israeli journalist Ohad Hemo have been released.

The other passengers remain in detention at Givon prison in present-day Israel. more

After Sinai attacks ministry deploys security forces at Egypt border


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Ministry of Interior in the Gaza Strip deployed forces along the border with Egypt on Wednesday after attacks in Sinai by militants affiliated with the Islamic State reportedly killed over 70 people.

Iyad al-Buzem, spokesman of the ministry, said Hamas security forces and patrols were deployed along the southern border to maintain security and stability.

At least 70 people, mostly Egyptian soldiers but also civilians, were killed in attacks and ongoing clashes with Islamic State group (IS) militants in the Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday, officials said.

The attacks, in which car bombs were used, were the most brazen in their scope since militants launched an insurgency in 2013 following the army's overthrow of president Mohamed Morsi.

During the attack, militants took over rooftops and fired rocket-propelled grenades at a police station in Sheikh Zuweid after mining its exits to block reinforcements, an Egyptian police colonel said.

One car bomb attack against a checkpoint south of Sheikh Zuweid killed 15 soldiers."This is war," a senior military officer said. "It's unprecedented, in the number of terrorists involved and the type of weapons they are using."

F-16 jets responded by striking the militants in several locations, said officials and a witness, who added: "There are gunmen on the streets. They have planted mines everywhere."

Explosions were heard and plumes of smoke seen over Sheikh Zuweid from the neighboring Gaza Strip, witnesses there said.

The Islamic State group (S) said its militants surrounded the police station after launching attacks on 15 checkpoints and security installations using suicide car bombers and rockets. more

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Attacks continue in West Bank as settlers assault Palestinian man


RAMALLAH (Ma’an) – Attacks continued in the occupied West Bank overnight Tuesday when Israeli settlers attacked and moderately injured a 60-year-old man from the central West Bank village of Ras Karkar west of Ramallah, relatives say.

Mahmoud Salih Nofal was surrounded by a "mob of settlers" who assaulted him with pepper spray before violently beating him with rods, causing bruises over his body, the man's nephew Muhammad Nofal told Ma'an.

The attack, he added, took place at 7 p.m. near the main entrance of the village.

The settlers allegedly left Nofal bleeding in a field and fled the scene.

When he regained consciousness, the man walked to the nearest main road where locals saw him and immediately evacuated him to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah.

The incident comes amid a rise in violent incidents over the past week in the area.

Yesterday, Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian man at the Qalandiya checkpoint in Ramallah after he allegedly charged an Israeli soldier at the crossing entrance.

On Monday, four settlers were injured by a Palestinian gunman near the illegal settlement of Shilo in the Nablus district northwest of Ramallah, one of whom later died from his injuries.

The incident invoked a statement from the president of the Shomron regional council representing illegal Israeli settlements in the northern West Bank, reading "we must not let terrorism spread."

"I call on the government to authorize the army to act without pity against these savages who take civilians for targets," he said.

more

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Israel deports Tunisia ex-president after Gaza flotilla


JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel deported Tunisian ex-president Moncef Marzouki and European parliament member Ana Miranda on Monday after they took part in a flotilla seeking to defy its Gaza blockade, an official said.

"The (former) president of Tunisia and the Spanish lawmaker flew this morning. There are another 14 who have begun the expulsion process," a spokeswoman for Israel's immigration authority told AFP.

Marzouki, who is widely known as a human rights activist, sailed aboard the Swedish ship the Marianne of Gothenburg as part of a four-boat flotilla that set sail from Europe last month.

Israel commandeered the Swedish-flagged Marianne on Monday and accompanied it to the port of Ashdod.

Sixteen foreign nationals were on board along with two Israeli citizens, Palestinian Knesset member Basel Ghattas and a television reporter.

The two Israelis have been released, though Ghattas could face a parliamentary hearing on whether he should face sanctions.

The four-boat flotilla of pro-Palestinian activists had been seeking to reach the Gaza Strip to highlight the Israeli blockade of the territory that they called "inhumane and illegal". more

Israeli forces, settlers carry out reprisals for West Bank shooting


RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces carried out multiple detention raids across the occupied West Bank overnight Monday after three Israeli settlers were injured in a shooting south of Nablus and an explosive device was allegedly hurled at a settler vehicle near Ramallah.

Dozens of settlers from the illegal settlement of Beit El were also reported to have attacked Palestinian vehicles on the road between Ramallah and Nablus.

The violent reprisals come as the president of the Shomron regional council, which groups together illegal Israeli settlements in the northern West Bank, said in a statement that "we must not let terrorism spread."

"I call on the government to authorize the army to act without pity against these savages who take civilians for targets," he said.

The Israeli army reported that three Israeli settlers were injured in Monday's shooting while driving near the West Bank village of al-Mughayir.

Israeli media said four settlers were injured in the attack.

Israeli forces in the early hours of Tuesday stormed al-Mughayir and made multiple detention raids.

Witnesses said large numbers of Israeli soldiers ransacked Palestinian homes, "detaining young men haphazardly."

They added that the soldiers deployed on every street corner in the village after setting up military checkpoints at its entrances. more

Monday, 29 June 2015

Israel once again commits an act of state piracy in the Mediterranean


updates at freedomflotilla.org - At 02:06AM today (Gaza time) the “Marianne” contacted Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) and informed us that three boats of the Israeli navy had surrounded her in international waters, while sailing approximately 100NM from Gaza coast. After that we lost contact with the “Marianne” and at 05:11AM (Gaza time) the IDF announced that they had “visited and searched” Marianne. They had captured the boat and detained all on board “in international waters” as they admitted themselves. The only positive content in the IDF announcement was that they still recognize that there is a naval blockade of Gaza, despite Netanyahu’s government recent denial that one exists.

We have no reason to believe that Marianne’s capture was “uneventful”, because the last time the IDF said something like that, in 2012, the people on board the “Estelle” were badly tasered and beaten with clubs. Back in 2010, ten passengers of Mavi Marmara were murdered by the IDF during a similar operation in international waters.

It is disappointing that the Israeli government chose to continue the absolutely fruitless policy of “no tolerance”, meaning it will continue to enforce an inhumane and illegal collective punishment against 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza. Israel's repeated acts of state piracy in international waters are worrying signs that the occupation and blockade policy extends to the entire eastern Mediterranean. We demand that the Israeli government cease and desist the illegal detainment of peaceful civilians travelling in international waters in support of humanitarian aid. We call on our governments to ensure that all passengers and crew from the “Marianne” are safe, and to strongly protest against the violation of international maritime law by the Israeli state. We call on all civil society organizations to condemn the actions of Israel. People all over the world will continue to respond and react to this injustice, as will we, until the port of Gaza is open and the siege and occupation is ended. more

Israel seizes flotilla seeking to break Gaza blockade


JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel's navy boarded and took over an activist vessel seeking to break its Gaza blockade and was escorting it to port on Monday in an operation that did not use force, the military said.

A flotilla of four boats carrying pro-Palestinian activists had been seeking to reach Gaza to highlight the Israeli blockade of the territory, with the attempt coming five years after a similar bid ended in a deadly raid.

Three of the boats were said to have turned back while a fourth, the Marianne of Gothenburg, was boarded by the Israeli navy and was being escorted to an Israeli port.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded the operation insisting his government was right to take action against Hamas, the group that rules Gaza.

"In accordance with international law, the Israeli navy advised the vessel several times to change course," the military said in a statement.

"Following their refusal the navy visited and searched the vessel in international waters in order to prevent their intended breach of the maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip.

"The forces have reported that use of force was unnecessary, and that the process was uneventful," it added. "The vessel is currently being escorted to Ashdod port and is expected to arrive within 12-24 hours."

A military spokeswoman confirmed to AFP that the vessel was the Swedish-flagged Marianne of Gothenburg, part of the so-called Freedom Flotilla III.

Among the passengers on the four vessels were Palestinian Knesset member Basel Ghattas, Tunisia's former president Moncef Marzouki and at least one European lawmaker.

A statement Friday from the flotilla's media team said its goal was "to highlight the violation of the rights of 1.8 million Palestinians living in the world's largest open-air prison. more

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Third Gaza flotilla: ‘This is about human rights and dignity’


From RT blog - Richard Sudan, is a London based writer, political activist, and performance poet. Follow him on Twitter

I never heard the word Palestine when I was in school. I can't speak for all of my former classmates, nor can I speak for all of my teachers.

But as I first began to write about the Palestinian cause a few years back, and began to understand what was happening, I became increasingly frustrated when newspapers would ask me to be ‘balanced’. On one level I get it. I understand that if a person is talking about a political event, a dispute, or a war, or something clear cut, both sides of the story must be told. The so-called Israel/Palestine question however, is not a conflict.

The Palestinians are defenseless and are constantly attacked by a state which has the unconditional support of the US. The word conflict evokes images of two even sides pitted against one another. Israel/Palestine is not a conflict, nor is it close to war. It's not even David and Goliath. It's more like a heavyweight boxer beating a small child, while people stand around like confused sheep insisting on the boxer's right to exist and defend himself. It's the kind of sickness and twisted psychology we've seen repeated throughout history, at which people gasp at in horror, but yet remains allowed to take place today. When Jews were massacred during WWII, people allowed it because they did not view Jewish people as complete human beings. Today, Palestinians are also being massacred, and people allow it because they view the Palestinians as less than human. This perception must be dealt with.

What do you do when talking about a people who have almost no voice, the Palestinians, and who have been oppressed for decades? How are they supposed to be heard when for the most part the media, and one of the most sophisticated armed forces in the world, are constantly attacking them?

The Palestinians have nowhere to go, and are held as prisoners in what remains of their own land. We must tell the truth about the Palestinians because they are fighting for their very existence. Painful as it may be for liberal ears (and my heart bleeds for them) conditioned by a 24 hour revolving door of bulls**t from the mainstream media, people must accept the truth. Confronting the truth is necessary, and as painful as it may be for some, we owe it to the Palestinians to speak up for them. Like all wounds, there is a chance things can heal if we'd only be honest. Daily life for the Palestinians is like nothing we can imagine in Britain, or indeed anywhere in the 'developed' world. In Britain it was within the walls of the British parliament that Palestinian land was partitioned to a third party. We have a special responsibility to raise our voice for the Palestinians. Silence is no option. To ignore this issue is not the same as to remain neutral. To stay silent on Palestine is to side with the state of Israel.

Right off the bat, I want to address the fairy-tale notion of democracy many people hold, regarding the state of Israel. more

Ambassador: Qatar to employ 20,000 Palestinians


BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Qatar is to create work opportunities for up to 20,000 Palestinians, the Palestinian ambassador to Qatar said Saturday.

Munir Ghannam told Ma’an that "practical steps have started to embrace Palestinian workers in Qatar, as the country plans to host the first group of Palestinian workers after the holy month of Ramadan."

Qatar agreed in January 2014 to grant work visas to 20,000 Palestinians, following 20 years in which Palestinians had been unable to apply for work in the prosperous Gulf state.

The first group of Palestinian employees will include 200 Gazans and an unspecified number from the West Bank, and are expected to work in the field of education, the ambassador said Saturday.

He added that the embassy had asked Qatari officials to employ Palestinian refugees living in the Diaspora as well.

Ghannam said that a number of Qatari companies were scheduled to submit applications Saturday asking for permission to bring about 2,000 Palestinians into the country to work for them.

The ambassador said that Palestinian employees will be treated according to Qatari work laws and regulations, adding that Qatari companies and organizations "prefer to contract employees directly without a need for brokers." more

Friday, 26 June 2015

Freedom Flotilla III is Sailing to Open the Port of Gaza


More than three boats, with more than 50 crew and passengers from about twenty countries are prepared to reach the port of Gaza and call on the international community to open it

This year’s mission, organized by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition against the blockade and the siege of Gaza, is about to sail to highlight the violation of the rights of 1.8 million Palestinians living in the world’s largest open-air prison.

The Israeli government claims that there are ‘unauthorized boats trying to illegally enter Israeli territorial waters’. There are no ‘unauthorized boats’, only an illegal and inhumane blockade; the UN has recently called to end it and Freedom Flotilla III sails to challenge it, without any need or desire to enter Israeli territorial waters. This fact is highlighted by the practices of Israeli naval forces against previous sea missions, which have intercepted all boats since 2009 in international waters, headed towards Palestinian waters off Gaza, never towards Israel or Israeli waters.

Freedom Flotilla III is invited by Palestinians in Gaza through various organizations that work for a relief of the thousands that were left heavily wounded, homeless, jobless, and displaced after recent Israeli operations in the Gaza Strip. We also have among our passengers Dr. Basel Ghattas, Member of the Israeli Knesset, who called in an open letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu to allow our mission to reach the port of Gaza.

Israel’s right-wing is now moving to penalize MK Ghattas for his participation in a legitimate political action of people from all around the world, while Deputy MFA Hotovely has announced international diplomatic action against the Freedom Flotilla III. Lawyers around the world are making legal moves against the mission, just as they did in 2011. We regret that “the only democracy in Middle-East” thinks this is the best course of action, instead of addressing the real problems of occupation, blockade and division of Palestine, as well as the openly legal discriminations against Palestinians and Israeli Arabs.

We remain undeterred, because our purpose is not to act against Israel, but against occupation. Our actions would not be needed, if governments worldwide and international bodies like the EU and the UN would take steps to ensure accountability of Israeli governments for war crimes and collective punishment against the 1.8 million Palestinian population in Gaza Strip. We welcome voices from Israel who publicly state that the State of Israel is not threatened by the action against the blockade.

The international community should stop turning a blind eye on the blockade and occupation and take steps urgently towards the direction of ensuring the opening of the port in Gaza, the only port of Palestine to the rest of the world.:

Freedom Flotilla III media team

Phone: +30 2110115937
E-mail: media@freedomflotilla.org http://ff3.freedomflotilla.org
More press contacts:
https://ff3.freedomflotilla.org/press-room/ more

Israel prevents hundreds of Gazans from entering Jerusalem


Hundreds of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip were prevented from reaching Jerusalem to pray in the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday.

Israeli authorities revoked this week’s permits for Gazans to visit the holy site after a rocket fired from the territory hit an open area near the town of Ashkelon in the western Negev early Wednesday, sources at the Palestinian liaison told Ma'an.

Israeli official Yoav Mordechai told Ma'an at the time that the 500 men and women scheduled to leave Gaza would not be allowed to travel because “the security conditions around the crossing aren’t stable," adding that the recent rocket fire landed “not far from the Erez crossing" on the Gaza-Israel border.

While Israel initially eased travel restrictions for Palestinians during the holy month of Ramadan, authorities said such increases in movement came on the condition that security wasn't "breached."

Mordechai said Wednesday that Israeli authorities would reevaluate the security conditions next week in order to determine future travel by Gazans into Jerusalem, adding that he held Hamas "responsible for depriving worshipers of prayer in Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan," acknowledging that while the group was not responsible for firing the rocket, they are responsible for controlling the Gaza Strip. more

Gaza flotilla ship sabotaged days before expected arrival


BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- One of the ships taking part in a flotilla headed towards Gaza strip was sabotaged south of Crete, an activist aboard one of the ships said Thursday.

Israeli-born Swedish activist Dror Feiler told Nazareth-based al-Shams radio that the ship had been sabotaged by professionals, and would have sunk if sailed at sea.

"Somebody went underneath the ship at night and sabotaged its propellers, just like they sabotaged the same ship in 2011,” Fieler said referring to similar damage that was inflicted upon a ship participating in a previous flotilla.

Feiler, who relinquished his Israeli citizenship after moving to Sweden, boarded the trawler Marianne of Gothenburg in Sweden with 18 other activists six weeks ago. The crew had refrained from stopping at European ports prior to avoid being held by authorities, but their trip was cut short after realizing that they might have drowned had they continued.

Despite the sabotage, the remainder of the flotilla convoy will move as planned with the ships expected arrive in Gaza in succession within three days, Feiler said.

The flotilla is the third of it's kind to attempt to access the Gaza Strip by sea since 2010, aiming break the nearly nine-year Israeli blockade causing what is termed by rights organizations as a humanitarian crisis for the strip's 1.8 million residents.

In May 2010, Israeli forces staged a raid on a six-ship flotilla which ended in bloodshed, claiming the lives of 10 Turkish rights activists and sparked a crisis with Ankara. more

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza again


The Israeli air force attacked a target in the northern Gaza Strip in the early hours of Wednesday after another missile fired from the Gaza Strip hit an open area near the town of Ashkelon, in the western Negev. Ramadan celebrants from the Gaza Strip will be barred from travelling to Jerusalem for prayer in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, this week, following the rocket fire.

The Israeli strike landed in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, witnesses told Ma'an, with the Israeli army stating that the strike had targeted "the launcher from which the rocket was fired at Israel earlier."

The strike came hours after the rocket fired from the Gaza Strip fell on open ground in the vicinity of Yad Mordechai, a kibbutz near the Israel-Gaza border.

No injuries were reported in either the rocket launch or the Israeli strike.

Wednesday's exchange was the fifth in just under a month, with the most recent rocket fired from Gaza landing in Israel on June 6 answered within hours by an Israeli air strike into the coastal strip.

A rocket was fired on June 11 but it fell short and landed on the Palestinian side of the Gaza border.

No damage or casualties have been caused by the recent rockets fired from Gaza, and Israeli airstrikes have left structural damage only.

The exchanges come as Israel and Hamas have allegedly been holding indirect talks for cementing a long-term truce in the Gaza Strip, Hamas sources said last week. more

Rebuilding of Gaza's destroyed homes set to begin


GAZA CITY (AFP) -- The rebuilding of thousands of homes destroyed by Israel in last summer's Gaza war is to begin in the coming days, almost a year after the conflict began, the Palestinian housing minister said Wednesday.

The July-August war in the besieged Gaza Strip destroyed or partially damaged tens of thousands of homes, leaving 100,000 Gazans homeless.

"Some 90,000 partially-damaged homes have already been repaired in coordination with the United Nations," Mufid Hasayneh told journalists in Gaza City.

"In the coming days, the operation of reconstructing those totally destroyed will begin," he said.

Some 18,000 homes were destroyed or severely damaged, according to UN figures, and reconstruction of the war-wracked coastal territory has been slow.

Israel's ongoing blockade of Gaza, now in its ninth year, has been blamed, as well as the lack of international donor support to the territory, which is ruled by Hamas.

Hasayneh said that Israel had allowed only 128,000 tonnes of cement into the Strip since the war ended.

more