Sunday, 21 August 2011

Israeli soldiers raid southern West Bank and kidnap 120 residents, mostly Hamas members

Israeli forces detained 120 Palestinians, mostly Hamas supporters, overnight Saturday in the southern West Bank, witnesses and officials said.

More than 100 military jeeps stormed Hebron from three directions and deployed in several neighborhoods in the largest detention campaign in the city since 2003, locals and Palestinian security officials told Ma'an.

Hamas lawmaker Muhammad Mutliq Abu Juheisha was among more than 120 Palestinians detained across the district as soldiers raided the surrounding towns of Dura, Surif, Beit Ula, Nuba, Yatta and As-Samu.

"Between 100 and 120 people have been arrested," Samira Halaika, a Hamas MP from Hebron told AFP. "In terms of size, there has never been such an arrest operation on this scale in the Hebron area before." more

Calls inside Israel for new war against Gaza rising as airstrikes and rocket attacks continue

As Palestinian militants tried to forge a tentative cease-fire agreement with Israel on Sunday, pressure was building on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to retaliate for the latest round of violence by launching a major military campaign in the Gaza Strip similar to the 22-day Operation Cast Lead in late 2008.

After visiting hospitalized Israelis who were injured by rocket attacks over the weekend, Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said Israel should take decisive military action to discourage future Palestinian strikes.

"The deterrence of Cast Lead has exhausted itself," he said. "We're not ruling out the possibility of a ground operation."

Opposition lawmakers also urged Netanyahu to cripple the infrastructure of Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip. "You must use force against terrorism," said opposition leader Tzipi Livni, whose Kadima Party was in power during Operation Cast Lead. more

Hamas official says ceasefire agreed among armed groups to go into effect this evening

A Hamas official in Gaza says that all of Gaza's militant groups have agreed to a cease-fire aimed at ending a three-day round of violence with Israel.

The official says Egypt helped broker the cease-fire, which will go into effect this evening. He says Egypt told the groups that Israel would halt its airstrikes only if the Palestinian groups stopped shooting first, and that Hamas security personnel would enforce the agreement.

He spoke on condition of anonymity Sunday because the agreement had not officially been made public.

Earlier on Sunday, AP reported that Israeli officials arrived in Cairo. Moreover, Israeli sources confirmed that the reduced IDF strikes on Gaza in the last 24 hours was an intentional move aimed at allowing Egypt to mediate a cease-fire, as well as out of fear for the defense and diplomatic relationship with Egypt. more

Masked settler gang attacks 10-year-old Palestinian boy with iron bars

RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- A 10-year-old Palestinian boy sustained moderate wounds after he was assaulted with iron bars by some 15 masked Jewish settlers near the West Bank settlement outpost of Ramat Migron.

The boy was ambulanced to a Ramallah hospital after receiving blows to the head and other parts of the body causing deep wounds.

Israeli media outlets say Israeli police have arrested 13 youths suspected to have been involved in the incident. They said the suspects have not been cooperative with police, adding that the circumstances surrounding the incident are still unclear.

Sources said settlers in that area attacked three farmers before, leaving them with critical wounds.

Meanwhile, Jewish settlers from the Aish Kodesh settlement uprooted some 80 olive tree saplings in nearby Qasra. more

Egyptian 'spiderman' becomes national hero after removing Israeli flag from embassy

CAIRO — A lone protester became a hero to an exultant crowd of Egyptians and many more online by hauling down the Star of David flag atop Israel's embassy in Cairo after the border killing of Egyptian policemen.

More than 1,000 protesters gathered outside the Israeli embassy early Sunday and let off celebratory fireworks when the man clambered to the top floor of a high-rise housing the mission, replacing the flag with an Egyptian one...

...The man who took down the flag, identified as Ahmed Shehat, was led away by protesters after he descended, but not before some tore up the Israeli flag he carried down with him and kept bits as souvenirs.

Shehat became an instant idol with one Egyptian presidential candidate, Hamdeen Sabahi, hailing him as "the people's hero" on Twitter.

Shehat was labelled the "Egyptian Spiderman" and "Flagman" on Twitter and he trended rapidly on the social networking site as Egyptians and others worldwide expressed their admiration for his stunt.

"This is for Palestine. This is for Egypt. This is for every Arab. This is for every free person," one Twitter user posted.

"Forget Spiderman, Batman, or Superman. My kids are going to grow up wanting to be like FlagMan," wrote another.

In telephone call to a television station, Shehata said he felt "undescribable happiness" after the risky feat. more

Seven injured including three children in missiles strike on northern Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces launched another round of fierce airstrikes on the northern Gaza Strip Sunday afternoon causing explosions which rattled Gaza City.

Gaza medical official Adham Abu Salmiya said Israeli warplanes fired two missiles at a Hamas military site in Beit Lahiya injuring seven Palestinians including three children.

The attack came hours after an Israeli missile strike hit a group of children in the same area seriously injuring a 12-year-old boy, Abu Salmiya said. more

Egyptian ambassador still not withdrawn from Israel but generals dismiss 'regret' statements

Egypt welcomed a joint investigation with Israel on the killing of five Egyptian security personnel during an Israeli border operation, but said on Sunday the response was insufficient given the gravity of the situation.

"Although the Israeli statement is seemingly positive, it is not on a par with the gravity of the incident and the Egyptians' anger at the Israeli acts," the Egyptian cabinet said in a statement, quoted by the semi-official Al-Ahram president, following a crisis meeting.

Egypt said on Saturday it would recall its ambassador from Israel, insisting the killing of five Egyptian security personnel while Israeli forces were pursuing gunmen across the border was a breach of its 1979 peace treaty.

Egypt's Foreign Ministry later called in the Israeli charge d'affaires, delivered a protest and demanded a joint investigation into the deaths.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel regretted the deaths, which followed attacks in its border area that had killed eight people and sparked the most serious crisis in ties with Egypt since longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak's overthrow in February.

Barak also said he had instructed the Israel Defense Forces to conduct a joint investigation with Egypt.

"The Egyptian government considers the approval to conduct a joint investigation to uncover the circumstances of the incident a fundamental step to prevent the occurrence of such accidents as Egyptian blood is not cheap and the government will not accept that Egyptian blood gets shed for nothing," Egypt's state news agency MENA said.