Saturday, 31 March 2012

Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the OPT (22–28 March)

(Ongoing construction works in “Armon Hanatsin” settlement in Jerusalem)

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)

IOF have continued to use force against peaceful protests in the West Bank.
A Palestinian civilian was wounded.

Dozens of protesters and 3 diplomats suffered from tear gas inhalation.

IOF conducted 65 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one into the Gaza Strip.
3 Palestinian civilians were wounded during an Israeli incursion into Rammoun village, northeast of Ramallah.

IOF arrested 19 Palestinians, including a child, two women and a patient.
A Palestinian child was wounded by the explosion of a suspicious object left by IOF near Nablus.

Israel has continued to impose a total closure on the OPT and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.

IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.
Israeli settlers attacked 3 Palestinian shepherds and wounded a Palestinian civilian in Ramallah.
Israeli settlers uprooted dozens of trees and stole agricultural tools in Bethlehem.
Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian farmers in Nablus and injured one of them.
IOF demolished 4 tents, 6 barnyards and 3 barracks in the northern Jordan Valley.


Deportee urges hunger striker Shalabi to reject Gaza deal

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian who was deported to Gaza in 2002 has urged Hana Shalabi not to accept a deal under which she will be deported.

Shalabi, from Jenin, ended a 43-day hunger strike on Thursday after reaching a deal with Israeli authorities that she will be deported to the Gaza Strip for three years.

Fahmi Canaan, from Bethlehem, was one of 26 Palestinians deported to Gaza in 2002 after taking shelter in the Nativity Church in Bethlehem. Israeli forces surrounded the church for 40 days before the deal was reached to deport the men inside, who were wanted by the Israeli army.

But Canaan said Thursday that the deportees were told they would be allowed to return home after two years but Israel reneged on the deal. more

Video: The Gaza Onslaught

By Dimension Studios, Ramalllah, Palestine

George Galloway election victory sends Palestine liberation advocate to UK parliament

George Galloway's victory in a UK election in the northern city of Bradford was a victory for the cause of Palestine, evidenced by Haaretz's shocked report:
Far-left candidate, George Galloway, won a landslide victory in the by-election for the Bradford West parliamentary seat in the U.K. on Thursday night. Galloway, a former Labour MP who was banished from the party after he called the Iraqi resistance to kill British soldiers in the country, celebrated his victory, tweeting to supporters, "Long live Iraq. Long live Palestine, free, Arab, dignified. George Galloway MP." more
Viva George Galloway, a fearless fighter for justice.

Former Israeli prime minister Olmert disrupted by activists in Chicago (again)

(video from a previous Olmert speech on 16 October 2011 disrupted by pro-Palestine activists)

From The Electronic Intifada

Chicago gave former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert a proper greeting once again yesterday (29 march 2012). Outrageously, the former Israeli premier was invited to speak at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs about “peace.”

The Palestine Solidarity Group-Chicago (with which I am an organizer) and the Chicago Movement for Palestinian Rights stated today:
Approximately 100 Chicagoans, many of them students, protested former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s appearance at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs yesterday. Olmert’s talk, an exclusive event for ticket-holders only, was also disrupted by a courageous activist who attended the 45-minute speech focusing on the “peace process.”
Thaer Ahmad disrupted the talk during the question and answer part of the program, when it became clear that all questions were pre-arranged and he would not be allowed to ask a question.

“I decided to interrupt as he was answering a question about predicting the future two to three years from now. I asked him if he thought that two to three years from now, justice would be served and he’d be tried as a war criminal for the murder of 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza in 2008 and 1,000 Lebanese in 2006.”

Ahmad added, “[Olmert] stopped and looked at me in surprise. Everyone was quiet and [security] grabbed me and while they escorted me out, I said there was more than 300 children who were killed [in Gaza].”

Demonstrators’ chanting and drumming were heard inside the venue throughout Olmert’s appearance, forcing him to acknowledge the protest. Olmert remarked that he was surprised that there was a protest of his appearance. However, it should have been no surprise as Chicagoans made international headlines in 2009, the last time Olmert appeared in Chicago. His speech at the University of Chicago was constantly disrupted and the protest caught on video that went viral on the Internet and was broadcast by Al Jazeera and even Israeli Army Radio.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Maan live blog: Palestinian protester killed in northern Gaza as Israeli troops open fire

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- 1825: A Palestinian protester has been killed in a clash with Israeli forces in the northern Gaza Strip, a Palestinian medical official says.

Adham Abu Salmiya identified the victim as Mahmoud Zaqouq, 20. An army spokesman did not immediately return calls. more

Israeli soldiers open fire at Palestinian protesters at Gaza crossing, one injured

JERUSALEM, March 30 (Xinhua) -- One man was wounded Friday when Israeli soldiers used live fire to disperse Palestinian demonstrators who were trying to approach the Gaza Strip's Erez crossing.

An Israeli military spokesman confirmed to Xinhua by phone that a Palestinian youth was wounded in one leg during the clashes.

Israeli media reported earlier that the injured was in serious condition.

The protest is part of the annual Land Day events organized by Israeli Arabs and Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank to denounce Israel's settlement policies. Similar protests were also staged in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Israel proper. more

Clashes at Jerusalem's Qalandiya checkpoint while other protesters gather at Israel's borders

Clashes have broken out between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces at the Qalandiya checkpoint on the outskirts of Jerusalem amid 'Land Day' demonstrations.

At least 23 people have been reported injured in clashes at the checkpoint, according to Al Jazeera's correspondents in Qalandiya.

Al Jazeera's Cal Perry reported that Israeli security forces tried to push hundreds of protesters back toward the nearby West Bank town of Ramallah, using water cannon and tear gas. Rocks were thrown, tires set alight and Red Crescent ambulances could be seen at the scene.

"This is a place where we frequently see clashes, and what we're seeing here is the Israeli army needing to put a barrier up and not let people through," our correspondent said.

"These clashes seem to be a bit more fierce today, and have started earlier in the day than usual."

Perry said hundreds of Israeli police had been deployed in occupied East Jerusalem and high levels of security were in place across the city.

Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian organiser, said that activists from 82 countries were expected to participate in Land Day activities, which remember six Palestinian-Israelis killed by Israeli security forces in 1976 during protests over the confiscation of their land.

Mahmoud Aloul, a Palestinian leader in the occupied West Bank involved in preparations there, said demonstrations would also be held in Bethlehem. Other events were planned in towns in northern Israel.

Activists in Gaza planned to hold a demonstration about a kilometre from the Israeli border, but said they did not plan to move closer to minimise the chance of clashes.

Supporters in neighbouring countries also planned marches near the Israeli borders in a solidarity event dubbed a "Global March to Jerusalem". more

Limited Israeli incursion into southern Gaza - West Bank sealed ahead of Land Day protests

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli military vehicles crossed into the Gaza Strip late Thursday in a limited incursion, witnesses said.

Israeli tanks and bulldozers crossed into territory east of Rafah and aircraft fired nearby, the witnesses reported.

An Israeli military spokeswomen said Israeli forces fired at open areas in the southern Gaza Strip "in order to thwart terror activity." more

West Bank sealed off ahead of Land Day protests.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Deal reached to free hunger striker Hana Shalabi - Israel to deport her to Gaza

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A deal to release Palestinian hunger-striker Hana Shalabi to the Gaza Strip temporarily was reached late Thursday, officials with knowledge of the negotiations told Ma'an.

The officials say Shalabi will be sent to Gaza for three years in exchange for giving up a 43-day strike against Israel's policy of holding detainees without charge.

The Palestinian prisoners society confirmed the deal in a statement praising Shalabi's resolve. It expressed its appreciation for her efforts to bring attention to Israel's policies toward prisoners.

Qadoura Fares of the prisoners society said Shalabi agreed to the deal "in return for ending her strike and being freed. ... We reject deportation, but this is her decision and her own life," Fares said.

Shalabi's lawyer, Jawwad Boulous, also confirmed the agreement. more

Red cross says Gaza fuel shortage risks lives as it prepares to deliver 150,000 litres of diesel

The Red Cross said Thursday it is preparing to deliver 150,000 liters of diesel to the Ministry of Health in Hamas-controlled Gaza so that hospital generators can keep running. But the aid group said the supply will only last for 10 days.

Juan-Pedro Schaerer, the head of the ICRC delegation for Israel and the territories, said, "More than a month has passed since the fuel and electricity crisis began. The current failure to ensure delivery of fuel and electricity could rapidly lead to interruptions in vital public services such as hospital care and water supply, putting the lives of thousands of patients in danger.

"We have already warned that in the event of any such disruption, hospital operating theatres and specialist units, such as those providing intensive care, neonatal care and haemodialysis, would be especially hard hit," he added. more

"We are all Hana Shalabi": Gaza children demonstrate for Shalabi's release

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Dozens of children demonstrated outside Red Cross headquarters in Gaza City on Thursday calling for the release of hunger-striking detainee Hana Shalabi.

Shalabi has refused food for 43 days since Israeli forces detained her from her home in the northern West Bank on Feb. 16. Israel has sentenced her to four months but she has not been charged with any crime.

Children released balloons decorated with Shalabi's face, sang and waved Palestinian flags.

They carried banners reading: "We are all Hana Shalabi," and "The children of Palestine will not give up on you even if the whole world does." more

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Israel's plan for Negev mass expulsions of 30,000 bedouin moves forward

Ha’aretz has reported today that a steering committee in Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office has approved “a five-year economic development plan for Israeli Bedouin”.

This is another step along the road to the implementation of the Prawer recommendations, which are presented as a “development plan” for the “improvement of living conditions” for all citizens of the Negev – but with the mass expulsion of the Bedouin Palestinian citizens at the heart of the proposal.

The exact number of ‘unrecognised villages’ to be destroyed is unclear. While a commonly cited estimate for the anticipated number of displaced is 30,000, an advisor to Shimon Peres told US officials in 2005 that the “development of the Negev” would mean “relocation of some 65,000 Bedouin living in unrecognized villages” (which, taking into account natural population growth, is roughly the total number of Bedouin citizens living in all unrecognized villages).

The person that Netanyahu’s government has appointed as “chief of staff in charge of implementing the relocation” is Doron Almog, a Major General (res.) in the Israel Defence Forces. The name may be familiar, as in 2005, Almog escaped arrest on war crimes charges by staying on his plane at Heathrow following a tip-off. more

Egyptian MPs head to Gaza for fuel crisis report

EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma'an) -- An Egyptian parliamentary delegation will arrive in Gaza on Wednesday to meet with Hamas officials over the ongoing fuel crisis in the coastal enclave, an Egyptian security official said.

He told Ma'an 28 officials from the committee of Arab affairs in Egypt’s parliament, including well-known human rights champion Amr Hamzawi, will cross into Gaza via the Rafah border.

The delegation will meet with government officials to hear their urgent demands over the two-day visit. It will prepare a report on the situation in Gaza for discussion in the Egyptian parliament.

The sole power plant in Gaza has shut down four times since February due to chronic fuel shortages, causing rolling power outages of up to 18 hours a day. more

Major Norwegian retail chain stops sales of occupation products from Ahava

(Photo: Boikott Israel-kampanjen i Bergen)

Norwegian retail chain VITA made public on Friday their decision to stop all sales of products originating from settlements in occupied Palestine. VITA will therefore stop selling products from the cosmetics brand Ahava. VITA has been the main retailer of Ahava products in Norway, and this decision will be a serious blow to the sales of Ahava products in Norway.

The principled decision by VITA not to buy products from Israeli settlements in the West Bank is based on a position of not wanting to contribute to violations of international law. This is also the position of Norgesgruppen, a company holding 49% of the shares in VITA. BAMA, another Norgesgruppen company has implemented the same policy regarding Israeli fruit and vegetables for several years already. more

Hana Shalabi has been on hunger strike for 40 days– A call to action

From Mondoweiss

It has been more than forty days since Hana Shalabi began her courageous fast - and her protest is still being ignored. A group of students from universities across the US and Europe have banded together to highlight her struggle and that of the Palestinians more broadly.

Those students issued the following call to action today:


As students from American and European universities, we stand in solidarity with Hana Shalabi and her pursuit of justice and human rights as her voice is silenced by arbitrary administrative detention. We call on you to stand this Thursday March 29, 2012 with Hana Shalabi on her hunger strike. On March 25th, 2012 Hana al-Shalabi's appeal in Israeli Military courts against her re-arrest and placement under illegal administrative detention was rejected after 40 days in custody without charge or trial. Her re-arrest comes only four months after her release from over two years of administrative detention and was released in a prisoner exchange negotiated for the release of Gilad Shalit. Since her detention beginning February 16, 2012, Hana has been on an open-ended hunger strike in protest of Israel’s disregard to international law and basic human rights.

This Thursday March 29th, at least one student from each of our participating campuses across the Americas and Europe will go on a 24-hour hunger strike in solidarity with Hana Shalabi, her family, and other Palestinian detainees held in Israeli administrative detention without charge or trial. Students are encouraged to hold a small solidarity action with Hana and other prisoners on their campuses, even one as short as 15 minutes, and send pictures or videos of their action to Students participating in the hunger-strike please send us a picture of yourself holding a sign saying:

#HanaShalabi #HanaShalabi

#Dying2Live OR #PrisonerOfConscience

Student groups who stand in solidarity with the action will wear orange ribbons around their arms to encourage others to ask questions and discuss administrative detention, Hana Shalabi’s case, and other ways to get involved such as putting pressure on those complicit in human rights violations

To further defy Israeli unjust security practices, hold those companies accountable for facilitating the violation of political prisoners’ rights. The security company contracted by Israeli prisons to conduct surveillance and imprison Palestinians on a daily basis is the same security company many of our campuses use to keep us safe at our universities – G4S. G4S is a UK and Denmark-based security company that systematically supports the Israeli occupation by providing security equipment and services to Israeli settlements, checkpoints, and prisons including where Hana is being held. By providing services to Israeli prisons, G4S contributes to the facilitation of Israel’s violations of rights of the Palestinian political prisoners. If your university uses G4S security services, ask them to immediately end their relationships with G4S and boycott their services. Draft letters to send to your university asking them to end contractual agreements with G4S can be found here. To send a letter to G4S to ask them to stop facilitating political prisoner rights, please send us an email and we will provide you with all necessary information.

All pictures and videos will be compiled into a montage and sent to Hana’s family and shared with the families of other detainees so they know they are not alone and their efforts are not in vain. Please let us know if your campus would like to get involved. Email: Facebook:

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor” --Desmond Tutu more

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

New York's Mayor Bloomberg claims boycott of Israel will lead to 'massacres'

The Park Slope Food Co-op is set to vote tonight on whether to hold a referendum on boycotting Israeli goods and the New York Times has sunk to a preposterously inconceivable new low with this biased propaganda on the proposed Park Slope Co-Op Boycott of Israeli products. What's missing:

- not a single quote from anyone who supports the boycott

- not a single mention of what is motivating the boycott: Israel's human rights abuses, theft of land, oppression of Palestinians, and so on

- not a single statement of comparative contextual history, e.g., grassroots boycotts of South Africa that successfully contributed to the end of Apartheid policies

Instead of of neutrality, impartiality, facts, and context, what do we get? A megaphone for hateful, delusional scaremongering:
“I think it has nothing to do with the food,” Mayor Bloomberg said of the boycott. “The issue is there are people who want Israel to be torn apart and everybody to be massacred, and America is not going to let that happen.”
Excuse me? Supporters of nonviolent boycott want Israelis to be massacred?

Not to be outdone, Manhattan borough president Scott M. Stringer called the boycott “an anti-Semitic crusade.” And again, no chance for a response from any co-op members who support the boycott. more

Imprisoned Fatah leader Barghouthi calls for halt to all coordination with Israel

Detained Fatah strongman and legislator, Marwan Barghouthi, sent a letter from his prison cell at the Hadarim Israeli prison, calling on the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, to stop all forms of security and economic coordination with Israel.

Barghouthi stated that the main task of the P.A. is to protect the Palestinians and their well-being, and not to protect the occupation.

He called on the Palestinian leadership to remain determined on the release of all Palestinian prisoners, without excluding a single detainee.

The Fateh leader said that the P.A. should set the release of all detainees as a legitimate precondition for the resumption of peace talks with Israel, in addition to insisting that Israel halts all of its settlement activities, in addition to insisting on a direct and clear Israeli recognition of an independent Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital, before resuming peace talks.

Barghouthi added that “illusions that the occupation can only be ended through negotiations must stop”, adding that “the political process must be accompanied by ongoing resistance and popular struggle against the occupation”. more

Northern Irish town votes to maintain twinning with Gaza

A BID by Ulster Unionist councillor Joan Baird to get Moyle Council to ‘revoke and totally disassociate’ itself from a ‘Twinning Arrangement’ with Gaza failed on Monday night (March 26).

The 15-member nationalist-controlled council previously supported twinning on March 12 when seven councillors - all nationalists - backed the proposal and six councillors - five Unionists along with Independent councillor Randal McDonnell - voted against.

On Monday night Cllr Baird called on the Council to change its decision.

Supporters of the ‘twinning’ say it will bring humanitarian aid to Gaza but opponents believe the move makes a one-sided political statement in the Middle East conflict. more

Islamic Jihad leader launches hunger strike against his administrative detention

JENIN (Ma'an) -- Islamic Jihad announced Tuesday a senior member of the movement who was detained by Israel a week ago has began a hunger strike against his administrative detention.

Jafar Ez Al-Din Qadan, 40, was seized by Israeli forces from Arraba village south of Jenin, at dawn on Wednesday. He was transferred to administrative detention -- without charge -- and immediately began refusing food in protest, the group said.

Ez Al-Din Qadan has spent four years in Israeli jails. His brother Tareq was released in the October 2011 prisoner exchange deal, and deported to the Gaza Strip. more

Video: Mustafa Barghouti vs. Rabbi Arthur Waskow on BDS Movement, Palestinian Solidarity - The Park Slope Food Co-op, one of the oldest and largest in the country, is set to vote Tuesday on whether to hold a referendum on boycotting goods from Israel to protest the Israeli government's policies toward Palestinians.

We host a debate on the international advocacy effort called the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, or BDS for short, which is inspired by the international boycott movement against apartheid South Africa. "We believe this campaign is for the sake of both Palestinians and the Israelis, because it would help us liberate ourselves from the last segregation and occupation system in the world. And it would help liberate the Israelis from the last colonial settlement system in modern history," says Dr Mustafa

Barghouti, a member of the Palestinian Parliament who supports the BDS movement. "The result of the way BDS is framed on almost everyone I have talked to who feels attracted to it, is that the society as well as the government of Israel is wrong and must be attacked," says Rabbi Arthur Waskow who is opposed to BDS. He is founder and director of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia. "Even using methods that are not outright violence, is not a nonviolent approach."

We also discuss the case of Hana Shalabi, the Palestinian hunger striker protesting the Israeli policy of administrative detention. She has been on hunger strike for 39 days. This past weekend, an Israeli military court rejected her appeal.

Hospital may consider force-feeding Shalabi - Amnesty warns against 'inhuman treatment'

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The ethics committee of Meir Hospital may consider force-feeding hunger-striking detainee Hana Shalabi, human rights organizations said Monday.

The committee will meet Tuesday to discuss Shalabi's case and could discuss force-feeding her, Addameer prisoner rights group and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel said in a joint statement.

Amnesty International warned forcible feeding "could constitute cruel and inhuman treatment," a release from the group said.

Shalabi has been on hunger strike for 40 days since she was detained from her home in the northern West Bank. On March 20 she was transferred to Meir Hospital in central Israel. more

Monday, 26 March 2012

Hamas delegation in Cairo to discuss Gaza power crisis

GAZA, (PIC)-- A delegation of the Hamas movement led by its political bureau member Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar is currently in Cairo to discuss means of solving the Gaza power crisis with Egyptian officials, Dr. Salah Bardawil, a Hamas leader, said.

He denied, in a statement to Quds Press on Monday, that the crisis was because the Gaza government did not pay the electricity bills, adding that the bill for the fuel to Gaza power station is paid by the European Union.

The Hamas MP said that Zahhar would discuss in Cairo the possibility of Egyptian participation in alleviating the power crisis in Gaza, adding that Egypt was also suffering a similar crisis due to internal attempts to destabilize the government. more

Police in Gaza detain dozens of drivers for allegedly spreading rumors in fuel crisis

AZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Police in Hamas-ruled Gaza have detained dozens of taxi drivers for allegedly spreading “rumors” about the territory’s worst power crisis in years, officials said Monday,

The detentions, which began over the weekend, signaled that the Islamic militant Hamas is increasingly concerned about the political fallout from crippling shortages of fuel and electricity.

Authorities did not explain what got the drivers in trouble, beyond saying the “rumors” had to do with the energy crisis.

However, residents say there’s growing talk among Gazans that Hamas is keeping separate supplies of fuel for its government and loyalists, a claim Hamas denies.

At the root of the two-month-old crisis is a standoff between Hamas and neighboring Egypt over the delivery and payment for fuel.

Fuel smuggled from Egypt through tunnels under the border used to be the main source of energy for Gaza, including the territory’s only power station that provides 60 percent of the electricity.

Hamas now wants Egypt to deliver fuel to Gaza through a passage above ground, trying to establish a precedent Hamas hopes could evolve into a full-fledged trade route with Egypt.

Egypt is fearful such a link would be seen as absolving Israel, Gaza’s longtime occupier, of its responsibility for territory. Despite a 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, Israel continues to control access by air, land and sea. Egypt wants to route any future fuel shipments through Israel and insists at selling it at international prices. Hamas is searching for fuel subsidies from Arab countries.

A solution to the standoff is not in sight. As a result of the shortages, Gaza’s power station has been offline most of the time since Feb. 10, leading to rolling 18-hour-a-day blackouts. more

Gaza women gather in support of Global March to Jerusalem

Monday, 26 March 2012 / Scoop, by Julie Webb-Pullman - Scores of women today held an event outside the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza City, in the lead up to this Friday’s Global March to Jerusalem (GMJ).

The GMJ is drawing global attention to the dangers to Jerusalem’s very survival as the embodiment of the cultural heritage of the three monotheistic religions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

Many of the women present were older, and carried keys to the homes they were forced out of in 1948.

The gathering was addressed by Hamas spokesperson Mosher Al Masry, and Dr Ahmed Abu Halabiya, head of the Gaza GMJ Committee, and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Throughout the speeches the women cheered and chanted, adding their voices to the demands for recognition of their rights as the indigenous people of Palestine, their right of return to their homeland, and their rights to hold their own religious and political beliefs, free from discrimination.

The right of return is a right recognised by international law under UN Resolution 194. more

The official site for the Global March to Jerusalem is hereThe march takes place on 30 March 2012.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Gaza ambulances stop responding to calls as fuel reserves hit zero

(Palestinian students protest electricity and water shortages in front of UNESCO in Gaza City.(Ashraf Amra / APA images)

As a fuel shortage has worsened across the coastal territory, the ambulance service has been forced to stop responding to all calls except the most critical cases, Abu Shaira told The Electronic Intifada.

With fuel reserves at zero, medical officials are warning that in case of another large-scale military attack by Israel, the ambulance service would be unable to cope.

The fuel crisis claimed its first life this week, when a baby with a lymphatic disorder died because the generator that kept his respirator working ran out of fuel, the Associated Press and local media reported.

Most people in Gaza only have electricity for six hours per day. Gaza has suffered chronic electricity and fuel shortages due to Israel’s 2006 bombing of the territory’s only power generating plant, exacerbated by the blockade which severely restricts fuel imports, as well as disputes between the Gaza and West Bank wings of the Palestinian Authority over payment.

The immediate cause of the current shortage, however, stems from a dispute between Egypt and Hamas authorities in Gaza over the delivery of fuel imports through Israel. more

Major anti-Arab race riot in Jerusalem mall goes largely unreported, no arrests

Hundreds of fans, mostly teenagers, descended on busy Malha Mall, jumping on tables, waving scarves, and chanting "Death to Arabs".

When a group of fans started to heckle and spit on Palestinian women dining with their children in the food hall, the centre's Arab cleaning staff rushed to their defence and chased the fans off. But moments later, the fans returned, and started to attack the Arab staff.

"They [the fans] caught some of them and beat the hell out of them," Yair, the Jewish owner of a bakery in the shopping centre, told Israel's Haaretz newspaper. "They hurled people into shops, and smashed them against shop windows. ... One cleaner was attacked by some 20 people, poor guy." The brawl might have turned deadly, but food hall staff refused to respond to fans' demands for knives and sticks. It was only when police arrived 40 minutes later the situation was brought under control.

"I've been here many years and I've never seen such a thing," Haaretz quoted Gideon Avrahami, Malha's director, as saying. "It was a disgraceful, shocking, racist incident; simply terrible."

The police defended its failure to make any arrests, saying it had received no complaints from any of the public, a response that drew immediate derision. "No complaints and no arrests. Does this mean riots against Arabs in malls is acceptable behaviour in Israel?" tweeted Joseph Dana, an Israeli blogger.

Shmulik Ben Rubi, a Jerusalem police spokesman, later told The Independent the police would investigate the incident, which might lead to arrests. more

More reaction at Mondoweiss

Israel court rejects Palestinian hunger striker's appeal

Ramallah, Palestinian Territories: An Israeli military court on Sunday rejected the appeal of a Palestinian woman who has been on hunger strike for 39 days, her lawyer told AFP.

Hana Shalabi was appealing a four-month administrative detention order allowing her to be held without charge.

"The Israeli military court rejected the appeal and now we will go to the High Court," Jawad Bulus said. "Hana will continue her hunger strike."

Shalabi was detained on February 16, and a military court initially ordered her to be held for six months. That was later reduced to four months, the decision she unsuccessfully appealed.

Shalabi has been on hunger strike since her arrest, to protest both her detention without charge and violence she says was inflicted during her arrest.

On Friday, rights group Amnesty International urged Israel to prosecute or free Shalabi, saying she was "at risk of death."

She was hospitalised on March 19, after 33 days without food, with doctors saying she had lost 14 kilos and her pulse was "feeble."

Shalabi was among more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners released in October in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held by Gaza Strip-based militants for more than five years.

She had been held by Israel for more than two years without charge before she was released under the prisoner exchange.

The Israeli army has said she is "a global jihad-affiliated operative" who was re-arrested on suspicion that she "posed a threat to the area." more

Gaza power plant shuts as minimal fuel delivery from Israel runs out after two days

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Gaza's sole power station shut down on Sunday morning after two days of electricity production, as Palestinian officials in Cairo sought to end the fuel shortage in the coastal strip.

Director of Gaza's power company Walid Saad Sayil said the Palestinian Authority and Egypt were close to reaching a deal for six months fuel supply to the power plant from their southern neighbor.

But while the agreement was being hammered out, a delivery of Israeli fuel into Gaza on Friday ran out, closing the station for the fourth time since mid-February when Egypt stopped supplies via an underground tunnel network.

Hamas wants fuel purchased from Egypt to be delivered through its Rafah terminal -- the only crossing into Gaza not under Israeli control. more

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Gaza baby dies as power cut shuts breathing aid

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A seven-month-old baby in Gaza died on Friday evening after medical equipment he was connected to switched off as a result of a power cut, a Hamas-affiliated TV channel said.

Gaza medical spokesman Adham Abu Salmiya confirmed the incident, adding that the infant was born with respiratory problems and doctors had recommended the use of mechanical breathing apparatus to be used at home.

The father of the child had turned on the apparatus before going to sleep but during the night a power cut caused it to switch off, resulting in the infant's death, Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV reported. more

Friday, 23 March 2012

Israel allows limited amount of fuel to enter Gaza through Kerem Shalom crossing

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories - Some 450,000 litres of fuel were delivered to the crisis-hit Gaza Strip early on Friday through Israel's Kerem Shalom border crossing, Israeli and Palestinian sources said.

An Israeli military official confirmed that the Kerem Shalom terminal had opened at 7:30am (0530 GMT), to allow 450,000 litres of fuel to be transferred into the Hamas-run territory.

"450,000 litres of fuel are being delivered to Gaza today," said Guy Inbar, a spokesman for COGAT, the military division in charge of coordinating access to and from Gaza.

And a source within Gaza's government said that 13 tankers, "each with a capacity of 45,000 litres," were at the border crossing.

The delivery was made just hours after Egyptian officials reached an agreement with Israel to permit the transfer of fuel to enable Gaza's sole power plant to function.

"Thanks to efforts by Egypt, in coordination with Hamas, prime minister Salam Fayyad and due to a decision by president Mahmud Abbas, an agreement was reached to resume the supply of diesel, via Israel, to Gaza's power plant through the Kerem Shalom terminal," a senior Egyptian official said overnight.

The agreement with Israel was to involve the delivery of 900,000 litres of fuel, he said. It was not immediately clear when the second delivery would be made.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the Islamist movement had been informed by Egypt about the impending delivery, and was ""pursuing efforts to find a permanent solution to this crisis." He did not mention Israel's involvement.

Last week, Gaza's energy authority said it had paid Egypt $2 million towards fuel for its crippled power station, but had yet to receive anything in return.

Gaza is experiencing a major electricity crisis because of a shortage of fuel for the power plant. more

Official: Gaza hospitals running on less than 20-percent power capacity - only 4 days of fuel left

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The health ministry in Gaza says it is running on less than 20 percent of electricity, and the remaining amounts are enough for only another four days of power.

Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman of the ministry, said around 70 ambulances will stop working if there is no fuel in the next few days, adding that 15 health service cars and 18 ambulances were already offline.

The ministry raised the alarm on Thursday as officials with the electricity authority and fuel crisis management team met to discuss the situation amid the enclave's ongoing crisis.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are suffering a crisis of dry petrol pumps and frequent blackouts triggered by a fuel supply dispute between Egypt and the enclave's Hamas rulers. more

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Swiss-funded training to help hearing-impaired Gazans to open restaurant

Silence overwhelmed the hall where Asmaa Omar and 11 of her deaf classmates were enthusiastically following the fingers of a chef, who was speaking to them in sign language and preparing them to run the first restaurant ever operated by deaf people in the Gaza Strip.

The 12 trainees - eight young men and four young women - have been attending courses to learn culinary arts, cooking and food serving for almost two months, as part of a program initiated by the Gaza-based Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children and funded by the Drosos Foundation from Switzerland.

The goal is to provide job opportunities for hearing-impaired people in the Gaza Strip.

Most of those enrolled in the courses have been students at Atfaluna Society's school since they were children. Now they are being given the chance to start a new professional life, thanks to this project.

In sign language, the students get theoretical and practical training to become professional chefs, who can make dishes from Western and Oriental cuisines.

This chance is a dream come true for Omar, now 19, who has spent 10 years in Atfaluna's school, waiting for the day when she can earn both an income and her own independence. more

"This is what I have been seeking: A job," Omar said, in sign language that was interpreted by someone from the society. more

Soldiers kidnap 11-year-old Palestinian child from his classroom

A report by the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, revealed that on Monday Israeli soldiers kidnapped an 11-year-old Palestinian child while he sat behind his desk at an elementary school in Rad Al-Amoud neighborhood, in occupied East Jerusalem.

The army claimed that the child had “thrown stones at Israeli military jeeps in the area”.

Haaretz said that the soldiers invaded the school, broke into the classroom and kidnapped the boy. Soldiers also kidnapped the vice principal of the school.

Haaretz said that the child "confessed" after being beaten by the soldiers, and also told the interrogators that the vice principal of the school helped him hide.

The paper added that the vice principal, Salah Moheisin, was taken prisoner in front of a classroom filled with students, and was placed in a military jeep parked outside the school before he was taken to a police station for interrogation. more

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Egypt's Islamic Brotherhood pushes to open Gaza border but Mubarak elements block progress

The Muslim Brotherhood aims to open the Egyptian border with Gaza to commerce, a shift that would transform life for Palestinians there but which is hitting resistance from Egyptian authorities reluctant to change a longstanding policy.

The biggest party in Egypt's new parliament, the Islamists are not yet in government but have been seeking ways to ease the impact of restrictions imposed by Israel and Egypt on what passes in and out of the territory run by Hamas, an ideological offshoot of the Brotherhood.

Aiming to ease chronic power shortages in Gaza, the Brotherhood recently lobbied the Egyptian government to conclude a deal to supply fuel for the territory's sole power station.

However, the blackouts still plaguing Gaza several weeks after the deal was declared show that changing policy is easier said than done in Cairo, where government is still largely run by remnants of Hosni Mubarak's administration. more

Gaza inventor defies power outage with home-made electric system

Mahmoud Shaheen, a 55-year-old chemistry professor, started investigating the possibility of generating electricity at home a long time before the bombing of the generators.

“I started thinking of this experiment 21 years ago and at the time things were not really better than they are now because Gaza was under Israeli occupation and power outages used to happen a lot,” he told Al Arabiya

His idea was made possible when a Palestinian vendor brought electrical cells from Israel and did not know what to do with them. He took the cells from him and started experimenting with them until he managed to generate electricity.

“Since then my house has been fully lit and during blackouts it is the only house from which light comes in the middle of Jabalia.”

Shaheen, now known as the Conqueror of Darkness, explained that he did not use chemical reactions to generate electricity, but rather depended on solar energy.

“It is pretty simply. The sunlight that falls on the cells is converted to electrons that are transmitted through wires to batteries that keep the generated energy in them until it is used then charged again and so on.”

Shaheen pointed out that all the electric devices in his house are working at full capacity with a rate of energy conversion that amounts to 3,000 watts.

“This means that they are working properly all day and night.”

After seeing the success of his experiment, Shaheen added, several Gazans started inquiring about the possibility of using the same technology to face power outages.

“I started with the handicapped since they suffer a lot because of their inability to charge their electric wheelchairs. I have converted a large number of electric wheelchairs to work with solar energy.”

Shaheen said he wrote a proposal about applying his experiment to the entire Gaza Strip and submitted it to several international organizations for funding. more

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Hunger-striking Palestinian detainee Hana Shalabi says will stay on hunger strike until victory

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Hunger-striking Palestinian detainee Hana Shalabi says she will stay on strike until victory, despite pressure to back down after 34 days without food.

"It's true our lives are very precious, but our freedom is even more precious and more powerful than their cells," Shalabi said, according to her lawyer Jawad Bulus of the Palestinian prisoners society.

Bulus visited the detainee during medical tests Monday in Jaffa, before she was moved to the hospital in Ramla.

According to the attorney, Shalabi has been staying in the same room which once housed Khader Adnan, a hunger-striker who agreed to stop his strike after a deal with Israeli prosecutors.

Shalabi has lost about 16 kilos since starting her strike last month, Bulus said.

She claims the Israelis are using psychological pressure to force her to end her strike. Shalabi also complained that the room is unusually cold, and she suffers pain to muscles and her chest.

The hunger-striker also disputed claims that she refused to meet a lawyer, saying the prison authorities had actually demanded that she undergo tests before her lawyer arrived. She refused. more

Reports that Qatar is offering to supply Gaza with free fuel to alleviate crisis

Qatar has agreed to provide Gaza with free fuel in order to help alleviate an ongoing fuel crisis, Gaza news portal Al Resalah quoted Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh as saying Tuesday.

Haniyeh said Hamas would discuss the deal with Egypt, a few days after Egypt's ambassador to the Palestinian territories said Cairo agreed to provide imported fuel to the Gaza Strip.

Haniyeh said that "research is underway" in order to determine how and from where to import the Qatari fuel. more

Shalabi moved to hospital after sharp health deterioration - supporters join hunger strike

Palestinian Minister of Detainees, Issa Qaraqe’, stated on Monday evening that hunger-striking detainee Hana’ Ash-Shalabi, who has been on hunger strike since 34 days, was moved to Meir Israeli Hospital, in Kfar Saba, after a sharp deterioration in her health condition.

Qaraqe’ said that Ash-Shalabi was hospitalized after she was examined by a medical team of the Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), adding that the doctors had to wait for three hours until they were allowed to see her.

He further stated that the physicians determined that Ash-Shalabi is unable to stand, nauseated, suffering from pain in her abdomen, headache, her heartbeats are slower than they should be, and low sugar levels.

Qaraqe’ said that Ash-Shalabi refuses to take any medications or liquids except in the presence of PHR doctors who will be visiting her again Tuesday morning. more

Meanwhile, Maan reports supporters are jining her hunger strike and boycotting courts

EU's Ashton attacked for comparing killing of Jewish children to Palestinian children in Gaza

More fascist terror seems to be visiting Europe. This time it is in France, the home of virulent Islamophobia from the top to the bottom of society. North Africans, African-Caribbeans and now Jewish people are being targeted and murdered by a suspect thought to be a paratrooper kicked out of the army because of his far right associations.

The EU foreign minister Catherine Ashton has compared the murder of Jewish children in the most recent terroristic outrage to the killing of children in Gaza. There is of course a difference in the way of killing - one is at point blank range while the other is by a pilot at 10,000 feet or a remotely controlled drone operated by a person sitting in a control room - but it is the killing of innocents nevertheless.

The Israeli establishment is now up in arms against Ashton for telling some home truths, demanding she retracts her comments. The Israeli military no doubt says their killings of children aren't done deliberately, but when you assassinate Palestinian leaders in their family homes that is that not targeting children as acceptable 'collateral damage'?
Lieberman blasts EU's foreign affairs commissioner's remarks equating attack on Jewish schoolchildren in France to IAF operations in Gaza; says she should 'worry about Israeli children who live under constant fear of Gaza rockets'

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman leveled harsh criticism Tuesday against EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Catherine Ashton over her comparison of the terror attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, to the situation in Gaza, calling them "inappropriate."

Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of Palestinian youths in Brussels on Monday, Ashton said: "When we think about what happened today in Toulouse, we remember what happened in Norway last year, we know what is happening in Syria, and we see what is happening in Gaza and other places." more

Monday, 19 March 2012

Israel tries to draw Gaza into its war plans with claims Iranian military are operating from Strip

Israel is trying its best to dredge up a new version of the discredited 'axis of evil' line used by the Bush administration to justify its war on Iraq. Iran is now meant to have military officers in Gaza, and 'terror' groups are proliferating in the Sinai. So influential are the Iranians that they are able to get Palestinian fighters to fire their rockets on command. Of course the rockets were actually being fired in retaliation against Israeli airstrikes. And as for military experts, Israel has quite a few of them from the US who have been teaching its army personnel how to use anti-missile missiles, among other things.
Iranian military experts are active in the Gaza Strip and in Sinai, according to a high-ranking official in Jerusalem. The official said the Iranians entered the areas via Sudan and Egypt, and added that some of the rocket-launching systems in Gaza were manufactured under Iranian supervision.

The senior source also claimed that Islamic Jihad continued to fire rockets at Israel even after the recent cease-fire was announced because the Iranians pressured that organization, and the popular resistance groups, to continue acting against Israel.

Israel has agreed to all requests by Egypt to step up its own army's activity in the Sinai desert, but the official said no significant military operations have been carried out recently.

Several terror groups are now at large in Sinai, the source explained: local Bedouin, who are adopting the ideology of the Global Jihad; groups supported by Iran, who are trying to recruit and train militants not only in Sinai but throughout Egypt; and Palestinian organizations. more

Egypt says fuel shortage at home makes delivery to Gaza hard but promises supply in few days

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Egyptian ambassador to the Palestinian Authority said Sunday that Egypt will provide fuel to Gaza in the next few days, despite an energy crisis of its own.

Egypt is currently importing diesel from abroad to fill a deficit in local consumption, Yasser Othman told Ma'an.

Egypt will provide the Gaza energy authority with fuel from the imported supplies.

"The Gaza Strip needs 40 to 45 million liters of fuel a month, 15 million liters of that is specially for the electricity company. It’s very difficult because Gaza's fuel needs are more than four Egyptian governorates," Othman said. more

Video: While bombs fell monthly meeting of the Diwan Ghazza Book Exchange went ahead

Ola Anan on the recent Israeli attacks - While bombs continue to fall on Gaza, young bloggers and others in the besieged strip gather to exchange and discuss books at the monthly meeting of the Diwan Ghazza Book Exchange.

Uploaded by scoopindependentnews

Hamas leader says Israel using Gaza as testing ground for Iran attack

ANKARA: Israel is using the the Gaza Strip as a testing ground for a possible military strike on its arch foe Iran, the head of Hamas said on Monday.

"Israel is warming up the region for a possible war against Iran," Khaled Meshaal said in an interview with Turkey's Anatolia news agency.

Accusing Israel of pursuing "state terrorism" in Gaza, Meshaal defended the Islamist group's firing of rockets into southern Israel from the impoverished coastal strip which is run by Hamas.

"The only purpose of these rockets is to defend ourselves. Israel is attacking us and naturally our brothers in Gaza are exercising their right to self-defense," said Meshaal, who is the head of the powerful Hamas politburo. more

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Israel's cynical campaign against UN worker's Twitter post of picture of dead Gaza child

Israel is waging a war of words against a UN human rights worker
Khulood Badawi who mistakenly linked to a picture which mistakenly was thought to show a victim of the recent Israeli bombardment. The picture, dated from 2006, was previously erroneously captioned by Reuters. When Badawi realised her mistake she removed the picture but now Israeli propagandist are trying to get her sacked for drawing attention to the very real death of innocent children that DID recently take place in Gaza. See the the defence of Badawi below posted at the Alternative Information Center:
Um Shmum (free translation: ‘UN my ass’) is what former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir used to say, stressing the hostility of the Israeli establishment to the organisation that rendered the very existence of Israel possible. For the Israeli propaganda apparatus, all means are legitimate to delegitimize the UN. All means are also legitimate to manipulate international public opinion away from Israel’s ongoing violations of International law, like the most recent massacre in Gaza.

Let's take the latest "Khulood Badawi" affair. This is a non-event cynically exploited by Israel in order to divert public opinion from the real crimes committed by the Israeli army in Gaza. Last week Khulood Badawi, a UN employee, illustrated her private twitter post with a picture of a dead Gazan child. By mistake the picture was attributed to Israel’s most recent massacre, though in fact it was a picture from a 2006 car accident which Reuters also erroneously published. Needless to say that after having been informed of her error, Khulood immediately removed the picture from her private twitter post.

The mistaken picture now serves as the trigger and pretext for an overall offensive against Khulood Badawi, as well as against the UN. Ron Prosor, the Israeli ambassador to the UN, is demanding that Badawi be fired from OCHA. The Israeli military spokesperson has made the same demand. Can one imagine more cynical behavior from two men at the forefront of the Israeli propaganda machine which justified Israel’s massacre in Gaza three years ago?

Let's put things right: innocent people, including children, have lost their lives in Israel’s most recent bombardments of the Gaza Strip. Khulood Badawi did not invent this unacceptable reality, and her indignation is a testimony to her humanity. Khulood Badawi deserves our support and respect for what she has been consistently doing, as an outstanding activist, in support of human rights and human dignity. more

Israeli troops shoot and wound 6-year-old boy near Rafah

Israeli troops wounded a six-year-old Palestinian boy on Sunday when they opened fire east of the town of Rafah, in southern Gaza, Palestinian medical sources said.

"A six-year-old Palestinian child was wounded by Israeli army gunfire near the Kerem Shalom crossing, east of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, which is where the family lives," emergency services spokesman Adham Abu Selmiya told AFP.

"He is in moderate condition and was shot with live fire in his thigh," he added.

The Israeli army had no immediate comment on the incident and said it was checking on the report.

The shooting occurred near the Israeli border, where the military maintains an exclusion zone that extends several hundred metres inside the Gaza Strip, which it says is necessary to prevent infiltrations into the Jewish state. more

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Gaza protests fuel crisis at Rafah border

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Dozens of Palestinians gathered at the Rafah crossing into Egypt on Saturday, to protest continuing fuel shortages in the Gaza Strip.

Protesters, including several village heads, carried banners saying: "Gaza without electricity: Until when?" and "Bring fuel to hospitals."

The demonstration called for the electricity company in Gaza to connect with Egyptian power infrastructure, to bring an end to the widespread power outages that have beset the Gaza Strip over the past month.

The Gaza Strip has faced up to 18-hour blackouts per day since Egypt cut fuel supplies through an underground tunnel network, and officials are negotiating an emergency route to stave the power crisis.

Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzouq said last Thursday authorities had found a temporary solution for the crisis, in which Egypt will sell 1 million liters of fuel via Israeli-controlled crossing Kerem Shalom within a week.

Gaza's sole power station shut down two days later for the third time in the past month.

Prime Minister in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh said on Tuesday Egypt had increased the amounts of electricity it was allowing to enter Gaza to 27 megawatts. During the next month and a half, this amount will increase again, he added. more

Eight Injured, one Seriously, as Israeli Troops attack West Bank Anti Wall Protests

Eight civilians were injured, one seriously, on Friday, while many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation when Israeli soldiers attacked anti wall protests in a number of West Bank villages.

Protests were organized in the central West Bank villages of Bil’in, Nil’in and al Nabi Saleh.

Eight protesters including one international supporter were injured by Israeli fire at a protest in the village of al Nabi Saleh. The international activist was seriously injured when she was hit with many rubber-coated steel bullets fired by Israeli troops.

al Nabi Saleh villagers and their international and Israeli supporters marched after the midday prayers on Friday to protest Israel’s confiscation of their lands to build a settlement. Troops attacked the march before they even left the village.

Soldiers invaded the villages and fired tear gas into people’s homes; many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation. Soldiers also sprayed residents homes with chemical water.

Also on Friday, soldiers used tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets to suppress the anti wall protests at the villages of Bil’in and Nil’in. Many there were also treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation. more

Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the OPT (8–14 March)

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), and Launch a New Offensive on the Gaza Strip

IOF launched a new offensive on the Gaza Strip.
Israeli warplanes launched 36 air strikes, during which they fired 43 missiles.
24 Palestinians, including a child, a woman and two old men, were killed.
The victims include the Secretary-General of the Popular Resistance Committees, who was extra-judicially executed.
74 Palestinians, 59 of whom are civilians, including 16 children and 7 women, were wounded.
At least 32 houses, a school, a center of Palestine Red Crescent Society and a workshop were damaged.

A Palestinian child was killed and another one was seriously wounded and arrested by IOF in Yatta town, south of Hebron.

IOF have continued to use force against peaceful protests in the West Bank.
Two Palestinian civilians were wounded.
Dozens of protesters suffered from tear gas inhalation.

IOF conducted 56 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank.
IOF arrested 11 Palestinians, including two children.
The detainees include two Palestinians who were released in the context of the latest prisoners swap between Israeli and Palestinian resistance groups.

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 demolished a car wash facility in Housan village, west of Bethlehem.
Israeli settlers uprooted 40 olive trees in Qaryout village, southeast of Nablus.
Israeli settlers uprooted and confiscated 240 saplings in Sa’ir village, northeast of Hebron.
IOF razed areas of Palestinian agricultural land in Bourin village, south of Nablus. more

Islamic Jihad seeks 'balance of terror' with Israel

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories — Gaza militant group Islamic Jihad seeks to create a "balance of terror" with Israel, a senior member of its military wing has told AFP in an exclusive interview.

Speaking shortly after a truce ended a four-day flare-up in violence between Gaza militants and Israel, a senior leader of Islamic Jihad's Al-Quds Brigade hailed the fact that it forced "a million Israelis to hide in shelters."

The leader, who goes by the nom-de-guerre of Abu Ibrahim, also warned that the Brigades possesses long-range weapons that could hit the Israeli city of Tel Aviv and could be used in its next conflict with the Jewish state.

"What we seek with our rockets is not to kill Israelis, but to maintain a balance of terror," he told AFP during the interview, conducted at a secret location, flanked by armed bodyguards.

"The fact that a million Israelis were stuck inside shelters and suffered as as our people do is more important for us than deaths."
The latest violence between Israel and Gaza militants began on March 9, when Israel's assassinated the commander of the Popular Resistance Committees group.

In response, militants led by the Al-Quds Brigades fired a barrage of rockets into southern Israel over the course of four days, bringing life in much of the region to a standstill.

Israeli war planes carried out dozens of air strikes, killing 25 people, among them 14 members of Islamic Jihad. more

Friday, 16 March 2012

6 years on - the abduction of Ahmad Sa'adat, 1 month on - the hunger strike of Hana Shalabi

March 14-15, 2012 marks the sixth anniversary of the attack on Jericho prison and the Israeli abduction of Palestinian national leader Ahmad Sa'adat and his comrades, who had been held under U.S. and British guard in a Palestinian Authority prison.

For the past three years, since March 18, 2009, Ahmad Sa'adat has been in isolation in an Israeli occupation prison, subject to solitary confinement, poor health care and intense repression. Similarly, Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, one of his comrades also abducted from Jericho in 2006, has been in isolation for many months. The demand to end the isolation of Ahmad Sa'adat - and his fellow prisoners in solitary confinement - sparked the September-October 2011 hunger strikes that swept through the occupation's prisons.

As we mark this anniversary, a Palestinian prisoner's hunger strike has once again captured the attention of the world, very soon after the heroic 66-day hunger strike of Khader Adnan. Hana al-Shalabi, released in the October 2011 prisoner exchange, was re-abducted on February 16, 2012, and is held under administrative detention without charge or trial. She has now been on hunger strike for 28 days.

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat echoes the call of Hana al-Shalabi's parents for a day of action this Saturday, March 17:

"We call upon...all Palestinians to go to the streets and participate in the support action planned on Saturday March 17 in solidarity with our daughter Hana Al-Shalabi and all administrative detainees. We will continue supporting our daughter’s hunger strike and we want to let our daughter Hana know: we are with you in your hunger strike until you achieve your demand; your immediate release from the unjust Israeli jails.

Your support to Hana is necessary to achieve Hana’s immediate release; it is also needed to support our daughter in her open hunger strike which she has started on February 16, 2012.

Finally, we call upon all administrative detainees to join Hana’s hunger strike until you achieve your own immediate release and put an end to the unjust Israeli policy of administrative detention which violates human rights and International law."

Similarly, we join in the call for people around the world to take action on April 17, Palestinian Prisoners' Day, for Ahmad Sa'adat, Hana Shalabi, Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, Khader Adnan, and all of the nearly 5,000 Palestinian prisoners held within the jails of the occupation:

"On Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, Tuesday, April 17, we ask that all supporters of the Palestinian political prisoners’ movement bring Khader Adnan’s spirit of resistance to the doorsteps of his captors and would-be killers...Let Khader Adnan’s hunger strike mark the beginning of a revitalized global movement for Palestinian prisoners, their rights, their families, and their struggle. Together, we can make it so." more

Commemorating Palestinian Land Day: Join the BDS Global Day of Action on 30 March 2012!

Commemorating Land Day, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) invites people of conscience around the world to unite for a BDS Global Day of Action on 30 March 2012 in solidarity with the Palestinian people’s struggle for freedom, justice and equality and for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it fully complies with its obligations under international law.

Let’s showcase our BDS successes through creative actions and media efforts and mobilize for the World Social Forum Free Palestine in November 2012.

First launched at the World Social Forum in 2009, the BDS Global Day of Action on 30 March coincides with Palestinian Land Day, initiated in 1976, when Israeli security forces shot and killed six Palestinian citizens of Israel and injured many in an attempt to crush popular protest against ongoing theft of Palestinian-owned land. Thirty-six years on, Israel continues to entrench its regime of occupation, colonization and apartheid and intensify its grave violations of the basic rights of Palestinians everywhere, whether those living under occupation, citizens of Israel, or the majority of the Palestinians, the refugees.

In the past year we have continued to witness a historic outburst of people power motivated by the desire for justice and freedom from tyranny and corporate greed. There is renewed belief in popular struggles as a means to achieve human emancipation and empowerment. Ordinary people have bravely stood up to the decades-old regimes of the Arab region, overcoming their fears and challenging their longstanding subjugation. Largely inspired by the Arab popular upheavals and earlier, similar uprisings across Latin America, people across the world have vocally “occupied” the centers of corporate exploitation or otherwise mobilized to demand social justice and an end to devastating wars. The ‘Arab Spring’ has given new impetus to the ongoing struggle against imperial hegemony in the global south and a new reach for the alternatives to neoliberalism. The global 99% are further uniting and connecting their struggles for justice, rights and dignity.

In this spirit of shared struggle, we invite Palestine solidarity activists and all those active in social justice and human rights causes worldwide to use this day of action to launch a far reaching mobilization effort towards the upcoming World Social Forum Free Palestine to be held in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in November 2012 and to take action to highlight and develop the key campaigns of our global movement. more

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Death of 14-year-old Nayif Qarmout - the mourning tent of a martyr

(pic: Rosa Schiano, 2012)

From the International Solidarity Movement

Nayif Qarmout was murdered yesterday; he was also buried yesterday, in a small cemetery in the heart of Jabalia, the refugee camp where he lived. He was only 14 years old. He was murdered by an Israeli missile while playing football with his friends. He was a handsome young man, the photo on his martyr posters make that obvious. It was something that I never would have guessed at his funeral, looking at his bloody bruised face.

Today, Nayif’s family mourned. The reception line of men lining the entrance to the mourning tent was the most shattered group of men I have ever seen. Their faces were blank, dead, as though Nayif was not the only murdered yesterday. Nayif’s photo was on the wall, he looks so young, a child just turning into a man. We sat down and ate dates as a young man brought coffee around. Nayif’s uncle, Abdullah came over to talk to us.

Abdullah tells us that not only was Nayif a handsome child, but he was also a joyful child. He was always laughing, always making jokes, always helping his parents with his younger brothers and sisters. Nayif was the oldest child; he had three younger brothers and two younger sisters. He was not only the oldest child, but also the oldest grandchild; he was named after his grandfather. After school he worked with his father in family’s pharmacy, helping customers and keeping track of the accounts. Nayif hoped to run this pharmacy someday, after university, when he was a man. That is a chance that Nayif will never have. more

More airstrikes target Gaza Strip, no injuries reported

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Israel launched airstrikes on two sites in the Gaza Strip overnight Wednesday, less than 48 hours after agreeing to an Egypt-brokered truce.

Witnesses said that Israeli missiles landed on agricultural land, causing a fire and severe damage. No injuries were reported.

In a statement, the Israeli army said its warplanes targeted "a rocket launching site in the northern Gaza Strip and a terror tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip."

Earlier, a rocket fired at Beersheva was intercepted by the Iron Dome active missile defense system, the army said.

After the shelling, one rocket was fired at southern Israel from Gaza landing in an open area of Netivot, an Israeli army spokesman said.

No militant group has claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. more