Saturday, 31 December 2011

Egyptian Red Crescent aid convoy enters Gaza through Rafah crossing

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Egyptian authorities announced on Friday that it allowed an Egyptian medical aid convoy to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing.

Secretary General of the North Sinai District and director of the Egyptian Red Crescent local branch, general Jaber al-Arabi said in a press statement that ten tons of medicines and medical supplies donated by the Egyptian Doctors' Association.

He added: “These supplies comprise medicines and medical supplies urgently needed to compensate shortages in Palestinian hospitals. The operation was coordinated with the Palestinian Red Crescent and the Palestinian Ministry of Health which will be responsible for distributing the supplies to hospitals and medical centres." more

Friday, 30 December 2011

Israeli shelling in northern Gaza kills one man and injures five others

One Palestinian was killed and five were injured in an Israeli shelling of the Gaza Strip on Friday morning, a Palestinian medical source reported.

The source identified the dead as Mo'min Abu Daff, who at appears was killed in an artillery shelling that targeted Juhr Eddik neighbourhood, east of Gaza city.

The other wounded five are farmers who were working on their land when the Israeli artillery hit the area. They were moved to Al-Shiffa hospital for treatment, and one of the wounded is said to be in critical condition. more

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Israel set to allow 260 trucks to enter Gaza through Kerem Shalom crossing

Israeli authorities said it will open the Karm Abu Salem, also known as Kerem Shalom, crossing to allow some basic material to enter into the beseiged Gaza Strip, Palestinian Media Sources reported Thursday.

The incoming cargo, a total of 260 trucks, will contain mainly food supplies and some agricultural material and equipment. In addition to 59 truck loads of construction material to be especially used by the United Nations Work and Relief Agency of the Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) for its reconstruction projects. more

Video: testimony from a man in Zionist militia that forced Palestinians from their homes in 1948

The Israeli group Zochrot has posted a video testimony from Amnon Neumann, a man who fought with the Palmach during the Nakba of 1948. According to their web site, “Zochrot (‘Remembering’) seeks to raise public awareness of the Palestinian Nakba, especially among Jews in Israel, who bear a special responsibility to remember and amend the legacy of 1948.” more

Israeli war planes bomb central and northern Gaza in attacks on Islamic Jihad

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli war planes bombed central and northern Gaza Strip early Thursday, with no injuries reported.

Israeli forces struck a training site of Islamic Jihad armed wing the Al-Quds Brigades in Al-Zahra district of central Gaza, flattening the compound and damaging nearby houses.

Another airstrike hit a location in the northern Gaza Strip. more

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Gaza's prime minister Ismail Haniyeh arrives in Sudan to campaign for defence of Jerusalem

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh arrived in the Sudanese capital on Tuesday night as part of his first international tour since the siege on the coastal strip.

Haniyeh told reporters in Khartoum that his visit aimed to highlight the risks to the Palestinian character of Jerusalem at the International Jerusalem Forum in the African capital.

The city, annexed by Israel after a 1967 war, faces a "fierce attack by Israel's occupation and its systematic plans to Judaize the city, which has always and will remain an Arab and Islamic city," Haniyeh said at the press conference.

He was greeted by Sudan's Minister of Information Kamal Ubeid, and presidential adviser Ibrahim Ahmad Omar on Tuesday evening.

Haniyeh left Gaza on Sunday for the first time since Hamas seized power of the coastal enclave in 2007 and Israel tightened a land and sea blockade on the 1.7 million-strong population. more

Top Israeli general says Cast Lead attack was 'excellent' and another war coming 'sooner or later'

JERUSALEM, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz on Tuesday marked the three- year anniversary of the Operation Cast Lead, hailing it "an excellent operation that achieved deterrence for Israel vis-a-vis Hamas."

Israel embarked on the month-long foray in an effort to put an end to incessant rocket fire by Hamas and other militants at cities and towns within a 50-km arc of the coastal enclave, which has frequently forced close to a million southern residents into bomb shelters.

He warned that a second round of fighting in the Gaza Strip is not a matter of choice for Israel due to a buildup of arms and steadily increasing rocket fire at Israeli cities and towns.

"I believe that the State of Israel cannot continue to live under the active threat of Hamas in the Gaza Strip," Gantz said, according to The Jerusalem Post.

"Sooner or later, there will be no escape from conducting a significant operation. The IDF knows how to operate in a determined, decisive and offensive manner against terrorists in the Gaza Strip." Gantz said, adding "I do not advise Hamas to test our mettle." more

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Israeli airstrike kills one and injures two others on third anniversary of war

GAZA CITY (Reuters) -- An Israeli airstrike killed one person in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday as the coastal enclave marked the third anniversary of the Gaza war.

Abdallah Telbani died and two other Palestinians were wounded by a blast that ripped through a tuk-tuk, or motorised rickshaw, in Gaza City, hospital officials said.

They said Telbani was linked to Islamist militants sworn to fighting Israel, and who have at times chafed against Hamas ceasefire efforts.

A Hamas official said the tuk-tuk was attacked from the air. more

A child was injured by Israeli gunfire earlier in the day in the central Gaza Strip.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Israeli settlers detain shepherd at gunpoint, threaten to kill activist

JORDAN VALLEY, (PIC)-- Jewish settlers detained a Palestinian shepherd for three hours under gunpoint in the northern Jordan Valley and warned him against allowing his sheep to graze in the area.

Local sources said that the settlers ambushed the shepherd, Mohammed Awad, while rearing his sheep in Wadi Maleh in the northern Jordan Valley.

They said that the settlers were escorted by Israeli occupation forces who also threatened the shepherd and told him not to graze in the mountains near the settlement of Maskiot.

Meanwhile, Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activity in northern West Bank areas, said that Jewish settlers threatened to kill him during a demonstration for them on Friday. more

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the OPT (15- 21 December 2011)

Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (15- 21 December 2011)

A Palestinian civilian was killed when he fell down from his bicycle as he was attempting to escape Israeli gunfire in the Gaza Strip.
A Palestinian civilian was wounded by Israeli gunfire in the northern Gaza Strip.
IOF continued to attack Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip.
A Palestinian fisherman was wounded by Israeli gunfire.
IOF arrested 4 Palestinian fishermen and confiscated a fishing boat.
IOF have continued to use force against peaceful protests in the West Bank.
A Palestinian civilian was wounded and another one was arrested.
IOF conducted 33 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one into the Gaza Strip.   
IOF arrested 9 Palestinians, including 2children.
A dog belonging to IOF bit a Palestinian woman in Hebron.
Israel has continued to impose a total closure on the OPT and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.
Israeli soldiers arrested 3 Palestinian civilians, including a child, at various checkpoints in the West Bank.
IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.
IOF approved the construction of 1,000 settlement units in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Israeli settlers set fire to a mosque and 5 civilian vehicles.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Israeli forces shoot and injure Palestinian protester near Ramallah

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian protester in the occupied West Bank, activists in Nabi Saleh village near Ramallah said Friday.

The protester was shot in the leg, activists said, pointing to photos taken Friday.

Two protesters were arrested at the demonstration, they said, while a photographer suffered a light injury from a tear-gas canister. more

Thursday, 22 December 2011

BDS roundup: "Don’t put the fruits of apartheid under your Christmas tree!"

Picket of Ahava store, Covent Garden, London. Ahava is an Israeli cosmetics firm that bases its operations around a settlement in the occupied territories.

Round-up of boycott, divestment and sanctions action, posted on The Electronic Intifada.

Holiday shopping-related actions took place around the world this past week as boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists encouraged shoppers not to buy Israeli products. And a group in California calls on the largest US pension fund to investigate its investment ties with Israeli companies and US companies that do business with the Israeli military. more

Palestinian worker shot and wounded near Beit Lahia in northern Gaza Strip

Palestinian medical sources reported Wednesday that a Palestinian worker, aged just 19 years old, was shot and wounded by the Israeli army in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

The sources stated that the worker was shot in his left leg while he was working north of the Bedouin village in Beit Lahia.

He was moved to the Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahia with wounds described as moderate. more

Hamas and Fatah agree to form a unified government

Rival Palestinian factions have agreed to form a unified government, which will be sworn in by the end of January. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal met in Cairo to agree the groundbreaking deal late on Wednesday after days of heated negotiation between representatives of Palestinian political groups led by Hamas and Fatah.

The talks, mediated by Egypt, are part of ongoing efforts to mend the factional divisions that split Gaza from the West Bank in 2007 and led to the collapse of the Palestinian legislative council. There has not been a functioning Palestinian parliament since.

Initial reports suggested that the announcement signalled Hamas's return to the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which is internationally recognised as representing the Palestinian people. But Fatah officials told the Guardian that the militant group is yet to sign the PLO charter, which would require it to lay down arms. more

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

European UN security council members condemn latest Israeli settlement expansion plans

In a letter issued Tuesday, the four European member states of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), Britain, France, Germany and Portugal, condemned the recent Israeli announcement that the Israeli government had approved the construction of 1,000 new settlement units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In addition, South Africa, India and Brazil condemned the expansion.

The four European countries reiterated the fact that Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territories are considered illegal under international law, and said the Israeli decision to expand the settlements was a “wholly negative development," and will hinder a return to the negotiating table.

In their letter, the representatives wrote, "The viability of the Palestinian state that we want to see and the two-state solution that is essential for Israel's long-term security are threatened by the systematic and deliberate expansion of settlements," adding, “We condemn the disturbing escalation of violence by settlers, including the burning of mosques in the West Bank and Jerusalem....It is clear that these deliberately provocative attacks on places of worship were designed to aggravate tensions.” more

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Ismail Haniyeh to travel outside Gaza for first time since imposition of siege in 2007

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Turkey to meet with top Turkish officials to discuss measures for recognition of the Palestinian state on Monday, around the time news regarding a plan from Gaza leader İsmail Haniyeh to visit Turkey in the near future surfaced in international media.

The Gazan prime minister will travel in the near future to Turkey, Bahrain, Qatar and Tunisia, four nations that have invited Haniyeh for a visit, the Associated Press news agency reported, citing Yusef Rizka, political advisor to the prime minister. No date was specified by Rizka, and Turkish officials were not available for immediate comment on the plans.

Abbas arrived in the central Anatolian province of Konya on Monday to meet Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who was in the city to attend an EU review meeting and participate in Mevlana commemorations. Abbas is scheduled to move on to Ankara with Davutoğlu to meet his counterpart Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in separate sessions to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Although Abbas pays frequent visits to Turkey, it will be the first time Haniyeh has left Gaza since the Hamas movement seized power in Gaza, as the leader was busy in the region for both foreign and domestic reasons, the AP added. more

Monday, 19 December 2011

Hamas commits to non-violent resistance but maintains right to self-defence against Israeli attacks

Hamas has confirmed that it will shift tactics away from violent attacks on Israel as part of a rapprochement with the Palestinian Authority.

A spokesman for the Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniya, told the Guardian that the Islamic party, which has controlled Gaza for the past five years, was shifting its emphasis from armed struggle to non-violent resistance.

"Violence is no longer the primary option but if Israel pushes us, we reserve the right to defend ourselves with force," said the spokesman, Taher al-Nounu. On this understanding, he said, all Palestinian factions operating in the Gaza Strip have agreed to halt the firing of rockets and mortars into Israel. more

UK to fund construction of 12 new schools for Gaza's children through UN Relief and Works Agency

UNITED KINGDOM, December 18, 2011 (WAFA) - The United Kingdom announced that it would help tackle the desperate need for school places for refugees in Gaza with support for 24,000 children to attend school. Half of these will be girls, Sunday said a press release.

The press release stated that the British support, through the Palestinian Authority – United Nations Trust Fund, will allow the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to construct 12 new schools.

It added that International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, visited Gaza for the first time to see for himself the work that UNRWA is already doing to address the education problems in Gaza.

It stated that access to education has been severely limited by ongoing movement and access restrictions in Gaza. The refugee student population grew by nearly 10%, 2007 – 2010, while all construction, including schools, was suspended. more

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Final phase of prisoner swap deal completed with release of 550 Palestinians

BEITUNIA, West Bank — Israel released hundreds of Palestinian prisoners late Sunday, the second and final phase of a swap with Gaza Hamas militants that brought home an Israeli soldier after five years.

Under the Egypt-brokered deal, Israel agreed to exchange a total of 1,027 prisoners for Sgt. Gilad Schalit, who was captured by Gaza militants in June 2006. Schalit returned home in October when Israel freed the first batch of 477 prisoners. Sunday's release of 550 prisoners completed the swap, the most lopsided in Israel's history.

The release Sunday night was not infused with the same drama as the first phase, since the most significant players in the trade had already been freed. more

Israeli navy detains Palestinian fishermen off Gaza coast

GAZA, (PIC)-- Israeli navy gunboats intercepted a Palestinian fishing boat off the northwestern coast of Gaza city on Sunday and arrested two fishermen.

Sources in the fishermen syndicates told the PIC reporter that the Israeli navy elements took the Palestinian boat and two fishermen on board while fishing in regional waters.

Israeli navy patrols have recently intensified their chase of Palestinian fishermen despite working within the three nautical miles limit determined by this navy. more

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Israeli troops kill one and injure two in gunfire on border

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli troops killed a Palestinian and wounded two in the central Gaza Strip on Saturday, hospital officials said.

Palestinian medical officials said 35-year-old Majid Nabaheen was seriously injured east of Al-Bureij refugee camp and died in Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir Al-Balah.

Locals described Nabaheen as standing near his home in the camp when Israeli forces opened fire with heavy machine guns. Several artillery shells also landed in the area, they said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said troops along the Israeli side of the border heard an explosion and responded with fire toward "areas suspected as points where terrorists operate."

Earlier, Israeli naval ships opened fire on a Palestinian fishing boat off the Gaza coast, injuring a 45-year-old fisherman, medical official Adham Abu Salmiya said.

The man was taken to Shifa hospital in Gaza City with moderate injuries to his legs. more

Friday, 16 December 2011

Israeli navy fires on Gaza fishing boat for 'deviating from designated fishing area'

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli naval ships opened fire on a Palestinian fishing boat off the Gaza coast on Friday, injuring a 45-year-old fisherman, medics said.

Gaza medical official Adham Abu Salmiya said the man was taken to Shifa hospital in Gaza City with moderate injuries to his legs.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said the fishing boat "deviated from the designated fishing area and the navy called on it to stop, but when it did not respond they fired warning shots at the boat engine."

In early December, the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights said Israel has detained 40 fishermen, injured five others and seized nine boats since the start of the year. more

Secret report from European embassies says Israeli mistreatment of Arab citizens is 'core issue'

The European Union should consider Israel's treatment of its Arab population a "core issue, not second tier to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," according to a classified working paper produced by European embassies in Israel, parts of which were obtained by Haaretz.

This is an unprecedented document in that it deals with internal Israeli issues. According to European diplomats and senior Foreign Ministry officials, it was written and sent to EU headquarters in Brussels behind the back of the Israeli government.

Other issues the document deals with include the lack of progress in the peace process, the continued occupation of the territories, Israel's definition of itself as Jewish and democratic, and the influence of the Israeli Arab population.

The original document also included suggestions for action the EU should take, but these were removed from the final version at the insistence of several countries. more

Iceland offically recognises Palestine as a state, ready to establish full diplomatic relations

During a special ceremony at its capital, Reykjavik, Iceland’s Foreign Minister, Ossur Skarphedinsson, officially informed his Palestinian counterpart, Riyadh Al Maliki, that his country officially recognized Palestine as a state within the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Skarphedinsson stated that his country will be establishing full diplomatic relations with the Palestinian State, with the Icelandic parliament officially recognizing Palestine as a state two weeks ago.

Visiting Iceland, Al Maliki welcomed the decision and stated that it carries great significance to the Palestinians, and that this step will encourage other countries to do the same.

An Icelandic spokesperson said that “it kept it promise, supported the Palestinian cause, and will always support it.”

Skarphedinsson said that Iceland recognize Palestine as a sovereign and an independent state in the Palestinian territories, occupied by Israel during the six-day war in 1967- this includes occupied East Jerusalem.

There are more than 100 countries around the world that have recognized Palestine as a state. more

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Gaza's only music school rises again from the ashes of war

A teacher works through musical notation with a child at a music school in Gaza. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

A room in Gaza's only music school fills with the sound of the qanun, a traditional Middle Eastern instrument, transporting listeners far from the impoverished territory.

Seven-year-old Zeina Al-Hamamra confidently picks out a melody on the instrument, a kind of zither, leaning forward to pluck the farthest strings with tiny fingers strapped with silver picks.

She smiles triumphantly as she finishes the piece, showing the fruits of the year of lessons she has taken at the Gaza Music School.

Here, the sounds of the bustling city outside give way to a different cacophony, where trumpet blasts compete with the low drone of a bow being drawn across the strings of a cello.

It's a far cry from Gaza's usual sonic landscape of car horns and vendors' cries, the sudden crack as Israeli jets break the sound barrier, or the shattering crash of an air strike.

The school is the brainchild of Ibrahim Al-Najjar, a 64-year-old musician who sits down to join them, strumming the oud, or the Arabic lute, as Hamamra and another girl play the qanun, and a young boy beats out a rhythm on the traditional drum or tabla.

"Music is the centre of civilization, and we want these children to have access to that," he says, seated in his small office as the sound of a violin lesson next door trickles in.

Najjar, a Gaza-native, studied music in Cairo in the late 1960s, and taught in Kuwait and Romania before returning home in 1997, when he began working with Gaza's education ministry to train music teachers.

During his 10 years with the ministry, he trained 37 teachers and developed a curriculum for teaching music, before leaving to set up his own music school for children in 2007.

But the venture was short-lived because he ran out of money.

A year later, he was approached by the AM Qattan Foundation, a London-based charity active in the Palestinian territories, which offered to fund a new music school, paying for lessons and instruments.

When it opened in October 2008, the school was an instant success, attracting 300 applicants for the 35 places then available.

No music in Gaza

But less than three months later, the school was leveled when Israel launched a devastating 22-day operation in Gaza, which destroyed much of the enclave's infrastructure and killed more than 1,400 Palestinians.

"I was in my office when the war started. I was nearly killed because I was inside, alone," he says quietly. "All the instruments were destroyed, the entire building was destroyed in the war." more

Israeli forces enter Gaza near Erez crossing, bulldozers destroy farmland while soldiers open fire

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces entered northern Gaza near Erez crossing on Thursday morning, witnesses and the army said.

Locals told Ma'an bulldozers dug up land and opened fire but no injuries were reported.

An Israeli military spokesman said soldiers were conducting "routine activity" in the area but said he was not familiar with any shooting.

On Wednesday, Israeli forces shot a man east of Gaza City. more

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

New film documents resilience of Bedouin village destroyed 30 times by Israel

Nora Barrows-Friedman spoke with Jillian Kestler-D’Amours — filmmaker, journalist and frequent contributor to The Electronic Intifada — about Sumoud, which she filmed, edited, and directed for the Alternative Information Center (AIC) in Jerusalem, and the ongoing struggle in al-Araqib.

For nearly a year and a half, the Bedouin villagers of al-Araqib in the Naqab (Negev) have been incessantly brutalized by the Israeli government and the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in an ongoing, broad-daylight ethnic cleansing operation.

The village has been razed to the ground approximately thirty times since July 2010, and yet, as The Electronic Intifada has reported, the villagers — who are Israeli citizens — remain steadfast by rebuilding, regrouping and resisting after each demolition.

Focusing especially on the courage and determination of al-Araqib’s women, young and old, as forefronts of the resistance, the new documentary film Sumoud (steadfastness in Arabic) offers a valuable glimpse into the daily struggle of villagers to hold onto their land, their livelihoods and their heritage. more

Israeli troops open fire east of Gaza City seriously injuring one resident

Palestinian Medical Sources in the Gaza Strip reported that one resident was seriously wounded, on Wednesday morning, after the Israeli army opened fire at him east of Gaza city.

The sources stated that the resident, in his twenties, was shot in the thigh, and he was moved to a nearby hospital or treatment.

On Tuesday, two Palestinians, including one child, were injured after the Israeli army invaded an area east of the Al-Boreij refugee camp, in the central Gaza Strip.

Several military vehicles, tanks and army bulldozers invaded the area and uprooted trees and farmlands.

Furthermore, soldiers invaded an area east of Gaza city and opened fire at random; damage was reported, but no injuries. more

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Israeli intelligence kidnaps Gazan man in Sinai - taken to Israel for interrogation

What is Israeli intelligence up to in Egypt? This kidnapping of a Gazan man follows claims by Israel that rocket bases are being set up on the peninsula, although no evidence of this has been provided and Egypt has denied the claims.
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- A Gazan man was detained by Israeli forces in the Egyptian Sinai on Tuesday and taken to Israel for interrogation, a close friend of his family told Ma'an.

The Palestinian Authority liaison department confirmed that a Gazan had been detained by Israeli forces, but could not provide further details.

The family friend, who wished to remain anonymous, told Ma'an that Israel's secret service had telephoned the family to notify them of the incident. more

Monday, 12 December 2011

Israel claims soldier who shot protester Mustafa Tamimi in the face 'didn't see' him

(Mustafa Tamimi (left) a moment before his injury. Circled in red are the barrel of the gun and the projectile that hit him. Picture credit: Haim Scwarczenberg)

Israeli armed forces have tweeted in defence of the killing of Mustafa, claiming the soldier who shot him in the face 'didn't see' him!
Over two thousand people attended the funeral of Mustafa Tamimi in Nabi Saleh today. Tamimi was killed during a protest in Nabi Saleh on Friday after he was struck in the face by a tear gas canister fired at close range by the Israeli military. He was 28 years old.

At least six people were arrested and several people were injured as the Israeli military reacted violently to protests following the funeral. Despite the nature of Tamimi’s death, the Israeli military continued the practice of firing tear gas canisters directly at protesters. Although it is permissible to fire tear gas canisters in an arc to disperse demonstrations, it is forbidden to use them as weapons by firing them directly at protesters.

At least seven people were treated by the Red Crescent paramedics and one protester was taken to hospital after suffering from severe tear gas inhalation and respiratory problems. One protester sustained a wound to the head, which paramedics suggested came from being struck by a tear gas canister. more

Interview with Gaza rappers on European tour - Da Arab Revolutionary Guys (DARG Team)

(pic: The Gazan rap crew the DARG Team - DARG Team Photographer QD)

In one of the most crowded places on earth, four Palestinians are standing out. They call themselves Da Arabian Revolutionary Guys—or the DARG Team—and they are considered to be the premier rap group in the Gaza Strip. Together with fellow Palestinian hip hop crews DAM, Awlad al-Hara, and Ramallah Underground, the DARG Team comprises the most famous faces of rap music in the occupied territories.

PNN French Editor Alexis Thiry corresponded with the rappers, who are currently on tour in Switzerland, via email.

AT: I know Ramallah Underground as one of the pioneers of Palestinian rap. Where did you find inspiration when you started writing your songs?

DARG: Well, Ramallah Undergound is one of the best in the industry no doubt, but we don’t see ourselves in that position as the precursors of Palestinian hip hop. We just put our hearts into it, because music expresses our daily life in both Gaza and abroad in a describable way. We were inspired and still are from the pulse of the street, from what is around us and the ones who came before us: musicians, writers, producers, singers, and most of all people who give us the strength to go on doing what we believe we do best by telling their stories and ours, of living in the strip and facing all these obstacles, starting with the occupation and ending with society’s restrictions and oppressions.

We start writing 2002/03 and founded DARG Team late 2007 by combining two groups known back then as Da MCz and RG Band.

AT: How did you manage to impose your style in Gaza, a place one imagine in Europe as conservative and traditional? Do you feel you have initiated a new musical trend ?

DARG: Nothing comes that easy in Gaza, and you are right by saying Gaza is “conservative and traditional” but meanwhile it’s very creative and full of talents. Living in Gaza with all these limitation and restrictions is not easy for hip hop talents where the society believes that this kind of culture comes from the West and it’s not related to our culture and struggle in any way. Therefore we made sure that we reflect our traditions via music by [blending] traditional and oriental instruments into the music and mixing it with Western [styles]. Above all we rhymed in Arabic to ensure that we do represent this culture, where we come from, and make sure that our streets will back us up. We are the continuous evolution of those who initiated this musical trend and have left a remarkable imprint that no one can deny or overlook in Gaza. more

Hundreds of black-uniformed settlers storm village near Nablus to attack Palestinian homes

NABLUS (Ma’an) -- Hundreds of settlers stormed the Nablus village of Asira al-Qibliya overnight Sunday, causing damage to Palestinian property.

Witnesses told Ma'an that around midnight more than 200 settlers from the notorious Yitzhar settlement entered the village and threw rocks at Palestinian homes.

Local resident Ibrahim Makhlouf said that the settlers smashed the windows of a bus and tried to set it on fire.

“They were armed and wearing black uniform as if it was an organized militia,” he told Ma'an. more

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Father and daughter injured in airstrike on Gaza City

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- A man and his daughter were injured early Sunday after an Israeli airstrike hit the Gaza Strip overnight.

Palestinian medical sources said ambulances evacuated Imad Aqel and his daughter from the Zaitoun neighborhood in Gaza City after their house was hit by the strike.

A Ma'an correspondent said that at least two missiles hit the house.

Aqel sustained moderate injuries while his daughter was seriously wounded, medics said. more

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Palestinian man dies of wounds from tear gas cannister assault at anti-wall protest

A Palestinian young man died of wounds sustained on Friday during an anti-wall and settlement protest in the village of Nabi Saleh near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Mustafa Tamimi, 28 was pronounced dead Saturday after being hit with a teargas canister directly to his face at a short range.

Palestinian media sources said Tamimi was throwing rocks at the armored Israeli jeep when one of the soldiers opened the door and fired the teargas canister at him. more

Friday, 9 December 2011

Family home destroyed in Israeli airstrike, one person killed, 2 children seriously injured

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli airstrikes killed a man in the central Gaza Strip early Friday morning, and injured 13 members of his family, medical officials said.

A Ma’an correspondent said Israeli war planes struck a site used by Hamas armed wing Al-Qassam brigades northwest of Gaza City, which caused severe damage to the house of the al-Zaalan family.

Medical spokesman in Gaza Adham Abu Salmiya said the raid killed Bahjat al-Zaalan, 38, and injured 13 from his family, including 7 children.

Two of Bahjat’s children are seriously injured, and a 57-year-old man was moderately injured, he said. more

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Islamic Jihad says one of its fighters killed in Tuesday's Israeli airstrike

(pic: Ismael Al-Ar’eer - Image

The Al Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad, reported that one of its fighters was killed on Tuesday evening, when the Israeli army shelled fighters who had clashed with Israeli soldiers, who had invaded an area to the east of Gaza City; several of the fighters were injured.

The Brigades identified the fighter as Ismael Al-Ar’eer, 23, from Ash-Shujaeyya neighbourhood in Gaza.

The Brigades said that the army initially fired shells at fighters gathered near Ali Bin Al Khattab Mosque, in Az-Zeitoun, Gaza City, wounding two of them.

Later on, the army fired another shell at fighters near Anas Bin Malek Mosque in Ash-Shujaeyya, east of Gaza City, killing Al Ar‘eer and wounding three others. more

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

West bank settlers set fire to mosque in Bruqin village

(An man inspects a mosque in northern Israel which was torched in the Bedouin village of Tuba Zangaria - AFP/Jinipix Ancho Gosh, File)

SALFIT (Ma'an) -- A mosque was set on fire on Wednesday by settlers in the West Bank village of Bruqin, near Salfit, local officials said.

The governor of Salfit Isam Abu Bakr told Ma'an that at 2.00 a.m. a number of settlers sprayed racist anti-Arab slogans on the mosque walls and torched a car belonging to local resident Muatasim Samarah.

Abu Bakr said that the attack came "after Israeli forces issued demolition warrants against the mosque claiming it was built without a license."

Mayor of Bruqin village Accra Samara said a flaming tire was thrown into the entrance of the mosque, and that assailants scrawled the words, "Hero of Ariel," The Associated Press reported.

Ariel is a nearby Jewish only settlement which cuts deep into the West Bank.

A bulldozer belonging to local villager Ali Nael was also set on fire by settlers, locals said. more

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Israel demolishes two homes in dawn raid on occupied East Jerusalem

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces demolished two Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem on Monday, locals said.

In Beit Hanina, troops bulldozed the temporary residence of a man who took shelter there after he could not get a permit from the Israeli municipality to build his house, the official PA news agency Wafa reported.

In Silwan, Israeli forces tore down the house of Burhan Burqan, that was home to nine people.

"Israeli troops came at five in the morning to demolish the house and were done by 7 am. They also demolished our barn that had some poultry in it," Burqan said.

The two homes were "illegal, with court-issued demolition orders," an Israeli interior ministry spokeswoman told AFP. more

Monday, 5 December 2011

Israeli settlers burn Palestinian farmland near Jenin, abduct old shepherd

JENIN, (PIC)-- Jewish settlers burnt Palestinian farmland in the location of the evacuated settlement of Homesh south of Jenin city and tried to attack nearby Palestinian homes, local sources said.

Eyewitnesses said that the settlers blocked the road in the area under the eyes of the Israeli occupation forces, who did not act to stop them, before starting their rampage.

They said that Jenin fire brigades extinguished the fire before spreading in the area, adding that the settlers routinely wreak havoc in the area in an attempt to rebuild the settlement.

Meanwhile, another group of settlers abducted an old Palestinian shepherd after beating him up near Orif village south of Nablus city on Monday evening.

Fawzi Shehade, the chairman of the municipal council in Orif, said that the settlers assaulted Salim Eshahde, 60, while rearing his sheep near the village’s secondary school and then took him away along with 50 of his sheep heads, which were grazing in the area. more

Gaza's main electricity line back online following two-week blackout after Israeli disconnection

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The main electricity line supplying Gaza has been repaired after two weeks of partial blackout in the blockaded strip, officials said Sunday.

The Israeli Electric Company which controls the sea line has fixed the broken connection that plunged Gaza residents into more than eight hour of power outages per day, Media Director at Gaza's electricity company Jamal al-Dardasawi told Ma'an.

He said the reconnection of the main supply to the coastal strip would enable energy from other Israeli suppliers to reach Gaza, but warned residents to ration their power usage due to ongoing shortages under Israel's blockade.

The coastal energy line cut out after 20 hours when it was last fixed on Nov. 17.

Gaza residents had warned that the electricity crisis was disastrous during the cold winter months, and complained that they are still being charged for electricity that they do not have access to.

Last week, the energy authority in Gaza accused Israel of deliberately disconnecting the main electricity grid to the coastal enclave as part of a "punitive policy." more

Fatah And Hamas at Gaza meeting step up efforts to implement national unity

In the wake of a meeting held between the leaders of the Hamas and Fatah movements in Gaza on Sunday evening, they reconfirmed the implementation of the articles of the Palestinian national unity signed by the Hamas Political chief, Khaled Meshaal, and the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, the Ma’an News Agency reported Sunday evening.

Dyab Al-Louh, Fatah national relations’ commissioner, stated that the meeting was very significant and successful. Both leaders thrashed out the national unity and the meeting held between Abbas and Meshaal in Cairo on November 24.

“We’ve agreed to keep on discussing and coordinating in order to set up the suitable mechanisms for implementing the Cairo deal, struck by Hamas and Fatah,” said Al-Louh to the Ma’an’s correspondent, adding that “The groups reconfirmed the implementation of the signed national deal.” more

Friday, 2 December 2011

Private security guards kill with impunity in East Jerusalem

A photo of Samer Sarhan, killed by a settler security guard in 2010, is held by one of his six children. (Mahfouz Abu Turk/APA images)

SILWAN, occupied East Jerusalem - Ahmed Qaraeen walks with a limp, more than two years after he was shot twice, in the hip and left knee, by an Israeli settler near his home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.

“It was Ramadan,” Qaraeen said, his grey crutch leaning against the wall behind him. “I was sleeping in my house and I heard people shouting in the street. I went out and saw a settler point his M-16 [machine gun] at my son.”

The 41-year-old father of two said that he was shot in full view of private security guards, who were employed by Israeli settlers in Silwan, shortly after he confronted the settler who had threatened his child.

“I fell down and people started shouting around me. I was bleeding, and my two children were at my side, crying,” Qaraeen said. “The settler guards were there. They saw what happened, everything, but they did nothing. They’re here to protect the settlers, not to protect us.”

According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), 350 private Israeli security guards are currently employed in East Jerusalem by private security firm Modi’in Ezrahi, which is subcontracted by the Israeli Ministry of Housing and Construction.

The guards’ stated purpose is to protect approximately 2,000 Jewish-Israeli settlers living in East Jerusalem from the Palestinian population of the area. more

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Shortage of trucks because of Israel's siege worsens waste disposal crisis in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- An environmental researcher warned Wednesday that a waste crisis is worsening in the Gaza Strip, as imports of trucks are being prevented as part of Israel's siege.

Wael Safi said increases in population and a difficult economic situation was complicating efforts to collect waste, while Israel is preventing the import of vehicles and spare parts for trucks.

Speaking at a workshop organized by French officials on the waste problem in Gaza, Safi told Ma'an that recycling solid waste is expensive and the crisis will eventually affect the public's health.

“We are working on creating a central waste (center) in Gaza and improving waste collection” Safi said, and groups like the World Bank, and Islamic Development Bank as well as the EU were trying to help. more