Monday, 27 April 2015

Palestinian dies in Gaza tunnel collapse


A Palestinian worker died on Monday when a tunnel collapsed in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, a health official said.

A Ministry of Health spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma'an that Muhammad Khalid al-Najjar, 27, was killed in the incident.

His body has been taken to the Abu Youssef al-Najjar hospital.

Last week, Ahmad Majed Salim al-Saqqa, 19, from Khan Younis died after he was electrocuted in a tunnel beneath Rafah, while another Palestinian from Khan Younis, Ibrahim Fathi Isleih, 21, died a week before in similar circumstances.

The smuggling tunnels are notoriously dangerous, and workers are frequently killed working inside them.

The Institute for Palestine Studies reported in 2012 that Hamas authorities had counted 160 deaths inside the tunnels since the Israeli blockade began. more

Hundreds attend funeral of Jerusalem teen killed at checkpoint


JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Hundreds of Palestinians took part in the Jerusalem funeral of teenager Muhammad Abu Ghannam, 17, on Monday, defying restrictions imposed by Israel authorities.

Israel had previously said they would only allow 70 people to attend his burial at a cemetery close to his home in al-Tur, but hundreds turned out waving Palestinian flags and chanting slogans in support of protecting Jerusalem.

Israel had delayed delivering the body of the slain teenager until 2 a.m. on Monday in a bid to impose size restrictions on the funeral.

Clashes broke out at the burial between mourners and Israeli forces and spread to al-Tur's main streets, where soldiers fired tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets.

Abu Ghannam was shot dead by Israeli forces at a checkpoint in occupied East Jerusalem after allegedly attempting to stab checkpoint officers just before midnight on Friday. more

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Video: Indie singer's haunting tribute to Gaza children killed while playing football


A new song from the British indie rock singer and songwriter John Donaldson (formerly of Levellers 5 and Calvin Party, now performing as JD Meatyard) is a hard-hitting commemoration of the four young boys killed by an Israeli shell as they were playing football on a beach during Israel’s massive 2014 attack on Gaza.

The shelling, which took on global notoriety after international journalists witnessed it from their beachfront hotel, killed Ahed Atef Bakr and Zakaria Ahed Bakr, both ten years old, Muhammad Ramiz Bakr, eleven, and Ismail Muhammad Bakr, aged nine, as well as injuring a number of other children.

“Four Kids Playing on a Gaza Beach” combines sampling of a single voice uttering the words “it’s insane” with a folk tune which is itself a memorial to the Irish socialist and freedom fighter James Connolly, who was executed by the British authorities for his role in the 1916 Easter Rising.

Described as “an important song … as direct as a political song gets and is ever more powerful as a result. What else needs to be said than ‘four kids blown .. they’re blown to pieces?’” by one reviewer, the track’s sparse instrumentation and spare, repeated lyrics are haunting and disturbing, eschewing overt statements, and instead leaving the listener to envisage the horror of the scene. more

Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian in northern Gaza Strip


Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian man east of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday.

A Ministry of Health spokesman, Dr. Ashraf al-Qudra, said that the 37-year-old man had been shot in his right foot in the Abu Safiya area east of Beit Hanoun.

Al-Qudra said the injured man had been moved to Kamal Adwan hospital for treatment, and described his condition as moderate. The injury came as Israeli forces opened fire on fishermen and farmers across the Gaza Strip.

Witnesses reported that Israeli naval forces fired on fishing boats four miles off the coast, damaging the boats and forcing the fisherman to return to land.

Meanwhile, Israeli border forces fired smoke bombs at farmers' land east of Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces have repeatedly opened fire on Gazans since the ceasefire agreement signed Aug. 26, 2014 that ended a devastating 50-day war between Israel and Hamas.

In March alone, there were a total of 38 incidents of shootings, incursions into the coastal enclave, and arrests, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR). more

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian near Khan Younis


A Palestinian was shot and injured when Israeli forces opened fire east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

Witnesses said that Israeli forces deployed along the border opened fire on Palestinian farmland, hitting one Palestinian man.

He has been taken to a hospital for treatment.

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

Israeli forces have repeatedly opened fire on Palestinian civilians near the border since the ceasefire agreement signed Aug. 26, 2014 that ended a devastating 50-day war between Israel and Hamas.

In March alone, there were a total of 38 incidents of shootings, incursions into the Strip, and arrests, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR).

That was up from 26 incidents through February, and left seven Palestinians injured and one dead. more

17-year-old shot dead at checkpoint in occupied East Jerusalem


JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- A 17-year-old Palestinian was shot dead at the Al-Zayyim checkpoint in occupied East Jerusalem after allegedly attempting to stab checkpoint officers just past midnight on Saturday.

Ali Mohammed Ali Said Abu Ghannam began running toward a number of police officers at a checking station "wielding a large knife," according to statement issued by Israeli police. After being pushed back by an officer, Abu Ghannam ran in the direction of the crossing. Those guarding the checkpoint saw the youth running towards them and shot him, the statement said. Abu Ghannam was confirmed dead.

Abu Ghannam's father Muhammad told Ma'an that Israeli intelligence and security forces summoned him to the al-Zayyim checkpoint to identify his son's body, and then was taken to the Russian Compound police station in West Jerusalem.

Muhammad Abu Ghannam added that after identifying his son's face, he was prevented from seeing his son's body and not able to see where or how many times he had been shot.

He said that Israeli intelligence informed him that his son's body will be delivered to the family on condition that only 20 people attend the funeral, but that he refused these conditions and demanded that his son's body be delivered to the family without any conditions.

Head of a local committee in the al-Tur village, Mufid Abu Ghannam, said that Israeli forces raided the Abu Ghannam home early Saturday, assaulted residents and pepper sprayed them. He added that Ali's room was specifically searched and his personal belongings confiscated. more

Friday, 24 April 2015

Israel denies entry visas to South African minister, leftist leader and officials


The South African Communist Party (SACP) issued a statement strongly condemning the Israeli decision to deny entry visas to South Africa’s Minister of Higher Education and Training, South African Communist Party Secretary General, Cde Blade Nzmande, along with his team of officials.

“The South African Communist Party (SACP) is appalled by, and condemns in strongest terms possible, the apartheid Israeli regime's decision to deny our Minister of Higher Education and Training and SACP General Secretary Cde Blade Nzmande and his team of officials with an entry visa into Palestine, “the SACP said in a statement.

The SACP stated that Nzmande was officially invited by his Palestinian counterpart, Dr. Khawla Shakhsheer, to visit Palestine from 25-29 April 2015.

The South African Department of Higher Education and Training, said the visit follows a visit by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2014, in which an agreement between South Africa and Palestine was singed.

The “justification” Israel provided for denied visas was because the South African Minister “criticized the Israeli government.”

“The SCAP said it will not allow any foreign government to decide for us what to think, say and do,” the SCAP said, “South Africans should take their cue and defend our inalienable right to freedom of speech and international solidarity with the oppressed people in any part of the world.”

In its statement, the SCAP said it will intensify its Boycott, Divestment and Sanction against Israel until it full withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories, and until the Palestinians have their own independent and sovereign state, with East Jerusalem as its capital. more

Israeli tanks shell northern Gaza following rocket fire


Israeli tanks fired three shells at the northern Gaza Strip late Thursday after a rocket was fired from the coastal territory, witnesses and Israel's army said.

The artillery fire struck a site belonging to Hamas' military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, east of Beit Hanoun, locals told Ma'an.

Ministry of Health spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra said no injuries were reported.

Israel's military said in a statement that it targeted a "terrorist" site in response to a rocket fired at southern Israel which landed in an open area in the Shaar Ha Negev regional council.

No militant group in Gaza has claimed responsibility for the rocket. more

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Hamas student list victorious in Birzeit University elections


RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- A student list affiliated with Hamas on Wednesday came out on top in the closely-watched student elections at Birzeit University near Ramallah.

A day after thousands turned out for a student debate between Fatah, Hamas, and the leftist parties participating, the Islamic List emerged victorious with 26 seats, while the Fatah-affiliated list trailed with 19. The leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine list emerged with five, while an alliance of three smaller leftist parties – the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Palestinian People’s Party, and Fida -- took one seat.

Voter turnout was reported at 77 percent of all undergraduate students entitled to vote, who numbered around 9,000.

The victory for the Islamic List at the historically staunchly pro-Fatah campus took observers by surprise.

In the absence of regular national elections, university elections are seen as important indicators of public opinion by political commentators in Palestine and Birzeit is considered to be the most important campus in the yearly political contests.

The Hamas victory came after a year in which the Fatah-affiliated list dominated student politics, having earned 23 seats compared to the Hamas list's 20 seats.

University president Khalil Hindi praised the participation of students and their commitment to the democratic process.

He said that the elections were carried out in a peaceful environment that reflected student interest in voting.

The Birzeit student elections are closely watched by political observers across the country, as the university is considered to be the West Bank’s most prestigious center of higher education and a hub of political activism. Although outside political parties do not take part directly in the contest, each list is closely affiliated with a political party as are the students involved in the campaigns. more

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Israeli bulldozers raid Gaza, level land


Sources told Ma'an News Agency that four Israeli vehicles and two bulldozers raided and leveled Palestinian farming lands in eastern Deir al-Balah, central Gaza.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said that Tuesday's incursion was "routine activity along the security fence."

Israeli forces regularly enter land in the Gaza Strip falling within the "security buffer zone." The zone is enforced by Israel on both land and sea borders of the Gaza Strip on the pretext of security, however its exact limits have historically fluctuated and have had a detrimental impact on the Palestinian agricultural and fishing sectors.

Forces open fire on Palestinian farmers whose agricultural land allegedly falls within the zone, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. The group reported 16 incidents of shooting and four incursions along the Gaza-Israel border in March alone.

Such occurrences of live fire deter farmers from accessing their farmland, worsening agricultural production in Gaza, where over 80 percent of the population is food insecure, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. more

Palestinian teen injured in Gaza explosion


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian teenager was injured on Tuesday evening in an explosion caused by an unknown object in al-Shati refugee camp in western Gaza.

Spokesman for the ministry of health in Gaza Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma'an that a 15-year-old was lightly injured in the explosion, and taken to al-Shifa hospital for treatment. more

Report: Israeli forces directly targeted children in Gaza


Evidence suggests that Israeli forces directly targeted children during last summer's war, reported childrens' rights group Defense for Children International- Palestine.

Evidence and testimonies collected by DCIP reveal several locations that should have provided children with shelter and safety were, in practice, not immune from attacks by Israeli forces.

"Missiles dropped by Israeli warplanes killed 225 children while they were in their own homes or seeking shelter, often as they sat down to eat with their families," DCIP reported.

Just under half of the children who died during the offensive lost their lives in aerial attacks on residential buildings.

The fighting between Palestinian militant groups and Israel that resulted in an offensive which Israel dubs "Operation Protective Edge" killed 547 Palestinian children, 535 of them as a direct result of Israeli attacks. Another 3,374 children suffered injuries in attacks, "including over 1,000 children whose wounds rendered them permanently disabled," as documented by DCIP.

DCIP also estimates at least 164 children were killed in drone attacks, noting Israel as the world’s largest exporter of aerial drones.

"In one such case Rawya Joudeh, 40, and four of her five children were killed by an Israeli drone fired missile as they played together in the family’s yard in Tal alZatar, Jabalia refugee camp, North Gaza, on the afternoon of August 24. "The children were aged between 6 and 14." more

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Imprisoned Voices: corporate complicity in the Israeli prison system


This briefing was published on 17 April 2015 to coincide with the annual day of solidarity with Palestinian prisoners.

It collects the memories of the pain, suffering and resilience of Palestinians who have been imprisoned by Israel.

In 2013, Corporate Watch visited the West Bank and Gaza Strip and interviewed released prisoners about their experiences. The 11 accounts give a glimpse of the struggles of Palestinian prisoners.

They have been collected together here to inspire readers to take action in solidarity with them and against the companies profiting from their suffering.

The first part of this briefing compiles interviews with prisoners from the Gaza Strip. The second part focuses on the West Bank. The final part summarises the companies providing equipment and services that aid the arrest and imprisonment of Palestinians and gives detailed profiles of two of the biggest culprits: G4S and Hewlett Packard.

We dedicate this briefing to all those who remain imprisoned.

The briefing is currently published online and can be read here or downloaded here. It will be available to buy in the coming weeks from www.corporatewatch.org

Palestinian ministers cut short Gaza visit over dispute with Hamas


(Reuters) - Palestinian cabinet ministers from the occupied West Bank cut short a visit to Gaza on Monday over disputes between the Western-backed Fatah movement and Islamist group Hamas which dominates the territory, officials said.

The truncated visit reflected tensions threatening a year-old "unity" government, harming internationally-backed efforts to rebuild the Gaza Strip after a war with Israel and complicating Palestinian statehood ambitions.

Palestinians in Gaza had hoped Fatah, headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas could resolve a crisis over salaries owed to about 40,000 public servants hired by Hamas in the past eight years it has dominated the Gaza Strip.

Resolving the issue is crucial to Western hopes of Abbas's government taking control of Gaza crossings and facilitating an effort to rebuild tens of thousands of buildings destroyed during the five-week July-August war.

An official close to the 11-member West Bank delegation accused Hamas-controlled security officers of barring ministers from heading from a Gaza beach-front hotel to their offices during what was to have been a week-long stay, which was cut to 24 hours.

"Hamas has thwarted the visit, they didn't allow ministers to implement the plan they came for and help alleviate problems in Gaza," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Ali Abu Dyak, secretary-general of the Palestinian government, charged in a statement published by the official WAFA news agency that Hamas had obstructed their work. "Hamas does not respect the law," Dyak alleged.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri denied the allegations and countered that the West Bank ministers had sought to meet with senior employees at the hotel instead of going to their offices.

Abu Zuhri also said his group had not been consulted over the make-up of the committee set up to resolve the salaries issue, which he said was dominated by Fatah.

"We urge the government to continue to bear its responsibility towards Gaza employees without discrimination," he said. more