Friday, 31 August 2012

UN rights investigator blasts Israel over Corrie ruling

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Richard Falk issued a statement today blasting an Israeli court for yesterday’s Rachel Corrie civil suit ruling, saying it represented a “defeat for justice and accountability and a victory for impunity for the Israeli military.”

The lawsuit was brought by the parents of slain activist Rachel Corrie, and sought only $1, a tacit admission of wrongdoing. The court rejected the case, and the judge declared that Corrie brought her death upon herself.

Falk termed the ruling a “sad outcome, above all for the Corrie family but also for the rule of law.” The Corries intend to appeal the case to the Israeli high court, though since the Israeli Defense Ministry has barred most witnesses from the trial the case is seen as more or less a foregone conclusion. more

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Gaza’s water could be undrinkable by 2016

JERUSALEM, 30 August 2012 (IRIN) - Polluted water in the Gaza Strip is seriously affecting people’s health and the situation looks set to get worse, the UN warns in a new report.

Gaza’s rapidly growing population of about 1.64 million - expected to increase by 500,000 by 2020 - could soon lose its main source of fresh water, the underground coastal aquifer, which could become unusable by 2016, with the damage irreversible by 2020, it says.

Clean water is limited for most Gazans to an average of 70-90 litres per person per day, compared to the minimum global World Health Organization (WHO) standard of 100 litres a day, according to Mahmud Daher, officer-in-charge of the WHO in Gaza.

“We have respiratory diseases, skin diseases, eye diseases, gastroenteritis, which can all be linked to polluted water,” said Mohamed al-Kashef, general director of the international cooperation department in the Gaza health ministry.

According to a UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) 2010 update, diseases associated with water account for about 26 percent of diseases in Gaza. However, Daher is more careful to make the link. “There is no evidence that the current water situation is a major public health problem. But what we know for sure is that viral diseases and parasites are connected to polluted water.”

Nitrate contamination of the aquifer is believed to be a threat to infants and pregnant women, says UNICEF.

One of the child-diseases connected to polluted water is methaemoglobinaemia, or the so-called “blue-baby syndrome”, which has occurred among babies born in the Gaza Strip. It is believed that high nitrate contamination in groundwater is causing the disease.

Diarrhoea, which has become very common in the Gaza Strip, is most likely linked to poor hygiene standards in enterprises which desalinate water, says Mahmud Daher, adding: “It is not clear if the problem is the water, or water together with other sources.”

Remedial action

“Damage to the coastal aquifer will be irreversible without immediate remedial action,” says the UN report.

An average of 160 million cubic meters (mcm) of water is taken from the aquifer per year, but it is only fed with 50-60 mcm from rainfall and water-runoff from the Hebron Hills every year, resulting in a huge gap between availability and usage. As a consequence, ground water levels have been falling, allowing seawater intrusion. more

Medical official: Woman shot by Israeli forces in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A woman was injured on Wednesday by Israeli gunfire near Deir al-Balah, central Gaza, medical officials said.

The woman, 42, was seriously wounded by gunfire and transferred to hospital, spokesman for the ministry of health in Gaza Ashraf al-Qudra told Ma'an.

An Israeli army spokeswoman declined to comment on the record. more

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Paralympic Games: For Gaza's athletes, just getting to the practice track is a challenge

While most Paralympics national teams are on a strict training schedule as the Olympics companion event approaches, focused entirely on improving their performance and winning a coveted gold medal, the Palestinian Gaza team is a bit different.

In fact, the training regimen has been anything but focused for disabled Gazan athletes Muhammad Fanouna and Khamis Zaqout, who are competing in the 2012 London Paralympic Games. In a tale reminiscent of "Cool Runnings" – a movie inspired by the unlikely Jamaican bobsledding heroes of the 1988 Winter Olympics – Mr. Fanouna and Mr. Zaqout have overcome a lack of training, equipment, and finances in order to qualify for this year’s Paralympics.

The duo, who are competing for the Palestinian team, train in Gaza, isolated from their West Bank teammates. Partially-blind Fanouna, who won a bronze medal for his long jump in the Athens Paralympics eight years ago, is competing this year in the long jump, 200-meter sprint, and javelin throw.

Although every athlete aims for the gold medal, that might be an unrealistic goal for the team from Gaza, Fanouna says.

“Every player hopes to get the gold in London. But without the facilities and training that other players have, I can’t realistically expect it. Bronze would still be a big achievement, given that we don’t have an Olympic training camp or even a track on which I can sprint.” more

International Solidarity Movement’s response to the Rachel Corrie verdict

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is deeply concerned by the verdict of Judge Oded Gershon that absolved Israel’s military and state of the 2003 murder of American ISM activist Rachel Corrie. Rachel was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer while protesting the demolition of a Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip.

Despite the American administration stating that the Israeli military investigation had not been “thorough, credible and transparent” and the Israeli government withholding key video and audio evidence, Judge Gershon found no fault in the investigation or in the conclusion that the military and state were not responsible for Rachel’s death. Judge Gershon ruled that Rachel was to blame for her own murder and classifies her non-violent attempt to prevent war crimes as proof that Rachel was not a “thinking person”.

By disregarding international law and granting Israeli war criminals impunity Judge Gershon’s verdict exemplifies the fact that Israel’s legal system cannot be trusted to administer justice according to international standards.The ISM calls on the international community to hold Israel accountable by supporting the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and continuing to join the Palestinian struggle in the occupied Palestinian territories. more

Report: Egypt to provide Gaza power station with fuel

CAIRO (Ma'an) -- The Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation has received instructions from President Mursi to provide Gaza with fuel for its sole power station, Al-Watan newspaper reported Wednesday.

Amro Mustafa, vice president of EGPC, made the comments to Al-Watan during an interview with the Egyptian newspaper.

The Egyptian company will provide 30,000 tonnes of fuel to Gaza's sole power station, as well as petroleum donated by Qatar. The fuel will arrive through the Al-Ouja crossing in Egypt's northern Sinai and will then be transported to Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing within the next few days.

Gaza had been plagued by a fuel crisis since mid-February, when Egypt cut off supplies via a tunnel network under the border between the countries. more

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

France opens Arafat murder enquiry following al-Jazeera polonium revelations

French prosecutors have opened a murder enquiry into Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's 2004 death near Paris, sources close to the matter told AFP Tuesday.

The probe comes after Arafat's family launched legal action in France last month over claims the veteran Palestinian leader died of radioactive polonium poisoning.

Arafat's widow Suha and his daughter Zawra lodged a murder complaint on July 31 in the Paris suburb of Nanterre.

Arafat died at a military hospital near Paris in 2004.

Allegations that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate was poisoned were resurrected last month after Al-Jazeera news channel broadcast an investigation in which experts said they found high levels of polonium on his personal effects. more

Medics: Israel shells northern Gaza Strip, two injured

A wounded woman is wheeled into a hospital following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City August 28, 2012. (Reuters/Mohammed Salem)

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Two Palestinians were injured early Tuesday as Israel shelled the Gaza Strip , medical officials said.

The shelling early on Tuesday came from Israeli military aircraft and naval ships and targeted two compounds in Gaza City, Hamas officials said. Two women in nearby homes were injured by flying debris, hospital officials said.

"The shelling targeted the northern Gaza Strip, and an agricultural area in Wadi Gaza," spokesman of the Gaza ministry of health Ashraf al-Qudra said. more

Outrage as Israeli judge claims Rachel Corrie killing was an accident

The death of the pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie was not caused by the negligence of the Israeli state or army, a judge has ruled, dismissing a civil lawsuit brought by the family.

Corrie's death was an accident for which the state of Israel was not responsible, said the judge at Haifa district court.

There had been no fault in the internal Israeli military investigation clearing the driver of the bulldozer that crushed Corrie to death in March 2003 of any blame. The judge said the driver had not seen the young American activist.

Corrie could have saved herself by moving out of the zone of danger as any reasonable person would have done, said Judge Oded Gershon. He ruled that no compensation would be paid and the family would not have to pay costs of the case. more

Attorney Hussein Abu Hussein’s statement on verdict in Corrie wrongful death lawsuit:

(Haifa, Israel – August 28, 2012) – While not surprising, this verdict is yet another example of where impunity has prevailed over accountability and fairness. Rachel Corrie was killed while non-violently protesting home demolitions and injustice in Gaza, and today, this court has given its stamp of approval to flawed and illegal practices that failed to protect civilian life. In this regard, the verdict blames the victim based on distorted facts and it could have been written directly by the state attorneys.

We knew from the beginning that we had an uphill battle to get truthful answers and justice, but we are convinced that this verdict distorts the strong evidence presented in court, and contradicts fundamental principles of international law with regard to protection of human rights defenders. In denying justice in Rachel Corrie’s killing, this verdict speaks to the systemic failure to hold the Israeli military accountable for continuing violations of basic human rights.

We would like to thank everyone who supported the family and the legal team; including activists, NGOs, legal observers, US embassy officials, interpreters, reporters who covered the trial, and we look forward to talking to you at the press conference.

Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice

Monday, 27 August 2012

Gaza 'will not be liveable by 2020' - UN report

The Gaza Strip will not be "a liveable place" by 2020 unless action is taken to improve basic services in the territory, according to a UN report.

Basic infrastructure in water, health, education and sanitation "is struggling to keep pace with a growing population", according to the report.

It estimates Gaza's population will rise from 1.6m to 2.1m by 2020.

Israel tightened a blockade on Gaza after the Islamist movement Hamas came to power in the territory in 2007.

Israel says the blockade, policed with Egyptian co-operation, is necessary to prevent weapons reaching Hamas.

The UN report estimates Gaza will need double the number of schools and 800 more hospital beds by 2020, and says the territory is already suffering from a housing shortage.

The report also says the coastal aquifer, the territory's only natural source of fresh water, may become unusable by 2016. more

Israeli lies unchecked, Palestinian perspectives censored on BBC

One of the most obvious examples of bias by the BBC is the taxpayer-funded broadcaster’s habit of inviting Israeli politicians or the Israeli government spokesperson, Mark Regev, onto its programs to speak without challenge. Meanwhile, Palestinians and those who would convey a Palestinian perspective are not given the same opportunity.

Film director Ken Loach recently learned that for the BBC, Palestine remains a taboo.

On 23 July, Loach was at the Royal Albert Hall in London to listen to a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, performed by the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. The orchestra consists of Israeli, Palestinian and other Arab musicians, and is conducted by Daniel Barenboim, who formed the orchestra in 1999 with the late Palestinian academic and activist Edward Said.

So when Loach was asked during the intermission for an interview by BBC Proms, which was recording the concert for later broadcast, he considered it reasonable to air his thoughts on the nature of the orchestra as well as the music.

Loach said that he spoke to the BBC journalist for five minutes, during which time he said: “Seeing Israelis and Arabs, including Palestinians, sitting side by side on the stage makes us confront the issue of the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people, and I shall be thinking of them when I hear the music tonight.”

These were typically compassionate words from a director whose films, including Land and Freedom about the revolutionaries who fought in the Spanish Civil War, often reflect his keen sense of justice.

However, for the BBC, which in the last six months has alternately denied the existence of Palestine and then the fact of Israel’s occupation, the mere mention of the fact of the Palestinian people’s oppression was too controversial to broadcast. more

Around 100 'Welcome to Palestine' activists denied entry into West Bank

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Dozens of foreign peace activists were denied entry into the West Bank by Israeli authorities at the Allenby Bridge crossing on Sunday evening, organizers of the third 'Welcome to Palestine' initiative said.

"The Welcome to Palestine Campaign decries the Israeli denial of entry via the Allenby Bridge to over 100 internationals who wanted to visit us in the occupied Palestinian Territories," organizers said in a statement.

The group of around 100 activists had finished passport checks at the Jordanian side of the Allenby crossing but were denied entry at the first Israeli checkpoint and told to return to where they had come from, a spokesman for WTP told Ma'an.

No explanation was provided by Israeli crossing authorities as to why the group was denied entry, but the delegation will try to enter the West Bank again on Monday, the spokesman added. more

Welcome to Palestine campaign activists arrive on West Bank

NABLUS, (PIC)-- Western and Arab activists of "Welcome to Palestine" campaign arrived in the West Bank on Sunday through Al-Karama crossing between the West Bank and Jordan.

"Israel has no excuse to prevent us as it asked us in the previous occasions to go to land border crossings," the campaign organizers said.

Welcome to Palestine campaign is aimed to expose the Israeli violations in the occupied Palestinian land and to demand freedom of movement within Palestine and free access into Palestine, Issa Amro, coordinator of Youth Against Settlements in Al-Khalil and one of the campaign's coordinators, explained.

Amro told Quds Press that three hundreds activists include nationals from France, Spain, the UK, and the US, have arrived in the Jordanian capital Amman on Friday in a fresh attempt to enter occupied Palestinian territory to deliver assistance to Palestinian schoolchildren. more

Video: Israeli Settler - ‘If I see her coming, no matter what age she is 3, 4, 7, I’ll f*ck her over’

In the weekly demo in Nabi Saleh, several children made their way to the village's spring, where they encountered a settler and two soldiers, who prevented them from reaching the spring with violent threats.

From Mondoweiss:
Listen to the settler discuss these Palestinian girls with the Israeli soldier.
0:04 – Soldier: “But you’re getting in our way, don’t you understand? You’re getting in our way.”
0:07 – Settler: “I’ll stand on the side. I’ll stand on this side, but If I see her coming near [here], remember, it doesn’t matter, 3, 4 or 7 years old, I’ll fuck her over.”
0:12 – Soldier: “No problem.”

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Welcome To Palestine III, Coming From Jordan To Palestine

Over one hundred international peace and human rights activists, who are planning to visit the occupied Palestinian territories, are scheduled to arrive at the Allenby Bridge Sunday afternoon.
The activists, mostly Europeans, are planning to tell Israeli security that they want to come to Palestine as part of the Welcome to Palestine campaign.

Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, a spokesperson of the campaign told IMEMC "It is not clear yet, whether Israel will allow them in or not.". In previous attempts, in July 2011 and again in April 2012, Israel prevented activists who said they are coming to Palestine from entering the country, and forced airline companies to cancel the reservation of around 1200 activists.

The activists of Welcome to Palestine campaign are hoping to visit with the Palestinians and accompany students on their first day to school. In a press release issued by the campaign organizers, they stated that one of the main purposes of the visit is to bring school stationary to students as an act of solidarity.

Over fifteen Palestinian civil society organizations and groups and political parties sent invitations to the visitors to come and visit them in Palestine. more

Ministry: Gaza, Egypt security officials to meet in Cairo

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Security officials from the Gaza Strip will meet with their Egyptian counterparts in Cairo to address joint security issues, a spokesman from the Gaza government said Sunday.

Egyptian president Muhammad Mursi and Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh agreed to the security meetings, but a date has not yet been set, the interior ministry website quoted spokesman Eyhab al-Ghussein saying. more

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Egypt reopens Rafah crossing with Gaza, sources say

ISMAILIA, EGYPT/GAZA (Reuters) -- Egypt reopened the Rafah border crossing with Gaza on Saturday, a lifeline for Gazans which had been closed for much of the month since an Aug. 5 attack on Egyptian guards, Palestinian and Egyptian security sources said.

The move signals an advance in relations between Egypt's new government lead by President Muhammad Mursi and Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas, which had deteriorated since the attack in which gunmen killed 16 Egyptian soldiers on the Israeli border.

"The Egyptian side has informed us that the Rafah crossing would open all days of the week, without more details," said Ehab Al-Ghsain, spokesman for the interior ministry in Gaza.

The opening of the crossing was confirmed by an Egyptian security source. more

Video: Israeli police taser handcuffed Palestinian

Update on story posted yesterday

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian complained to Israel's justice ministry on Thursday after a police officer tasered him five times in an incident which was filmed and uploaded online, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

The video shows an Israeli officer repeatedly shooting Talal Siad, 42, with an electric stun gun even after he is lying on the ground handcuffed.

Said was at a Tel Aviv water park with his five children when police arrived to control a fight, which Siad was not involved in, Haaretz reported. more

Egypt blocks 120 tunnels in the Sinai: security sources

Egyptian military engineers have blocked 120 tunnels used for smuggling to and from the Gaza Strip since the start of operations in the neighbouring Sinai Pensinsula, security officials said on Saturday.
"Tunnel entrances are being demolished every day and the operation will continue until all underground passageways are shut," one official told AFP.

No less than 12 tunnels were blocked in the past two days on the Egyptian side, the source said, adding that the most of the tunnels lie in a four-kilometre (2.5 mile) stretch of the border.

Until now, the army has not used explosives or water to plug the tunnels, which are also found in residential areas.

Seven homes sitting on top of tunnel exits were levelled and two massive underground passages used to smuggle cars into the Gaza Strip were sealed, security officials said.

The military sent in tanks and soldiers into the lawless peninsula which neighbours both Gaza and Israel after gunmen killed 16 soldiers in an attack on an army outpost on August 5. more

Friday, 24 August 2012

Police repeatedly taser Palestinian man vacationing with his family

Image from Arabs48 TV

Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported Friday that a Palestinian man from Jerusalem was shocked by an Israeli Policeman with an electric gun five times; the incident took place at a park in Tel Aviv last Tuesday. The man was vacationing with his family and was attacked in front of his five children.

The man, Talal Sayyad, 42 from At-Tour in occupied Jerusalem, filed a complaint to the investigation branch of the Israeli Justice Ministry.

The Arabs48 News Website reported that the man was even tasered after he was cuffed by the police..

Sayyad told Haaretz that he did not do anything wrong, and that all what he did is that he made a note to a policeman who arrived at the park with other policemen to stop a fight.

The policeman was excessively spraying the face of a boy with pepper spray.
The policeman asked Fayyad to leave, but was still waving his electric gun and went on to shock him in the abdomen.

The attack was caught on tape, and shows the policeman repeatedly tasing Fayyad despite the fact the he was cuffed and did pose any threat to anybody’s life. more

Israeli inquiry into Rachel Corrie death insufficient, US ambassador tells family

(Rachel Corrie died trying to stop an Israeli army bulldozer from destroying Palestinian houses in Rafah in 2003. Photograph: Denny Sternstein/AP)

The US ambassador to Israel has told the family of an American pro-Palestinian activist who was killed in Gaza in 2003 that the US government remains dissatisfied with the Israeli army's decision to close its official investigation into the incident.

Rachel Corrie, 23, an activist with the International Solidarity Movement, was crushed to death as she tried to stop an Israeli army bulldozer from destroying Palestinian houses in Rafah, on the Egypt-Gaza border.

In 2005 Corrie's family filed a civil suit in the Haifa district court against the Israeli government over the incident. A verdict is expected on Tuesday.

At a meeting at the US embassy in Tel Aviv last week, the ambassador, Dan Shapiro, told Corrie's parents and her sister that the government did not believe the Israeli military investigation had been "thorough, credible and transparent", as had been promised by Israel. The investigation concluded that Corrie's death was an accident and that she had endangered herself by entering a combat zone.

"The lawsuit is just a small step in our family's nearly decade-long search for truth and justice," said Craig Corrie, Rachel's father. "The mounting evidence presented before the court underscores a broken system of accountability. more

Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the OPT (9–15 Aug)

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

A Palestinian civilian was wounded by IOF.

IOF use force to disperse peaceful protest organized by Palestinian civilians in the West Bank.
7 Palestinian civilians, including a child and a woman, were wounded.

IOF conducted 7 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank.
IOF arrested 7 Palestinians.

Israeli gunboats fired at Palestinian fishing boats in the Gaza Strip.

Israel has continued to impose a total closure on the OPT and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.
IOF arrested two Palestinian civilians in Hebron.

IOF have continued efforts to create a Jewish demographic majority in East Jerusalem.
The Israeli municipality of Jerusalem decided to establish 12 tower buildings in Jabal Abu Ghunaim (“Har Homah” settlement, south of Jerusalem.

IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.
IOF legitimized am unplanned settlement outpost.
5 dunums[1] of agricultural land were razed and water well was destroyed in al-Khader village, west of Bethlehem. more

South Africa's decision to label settlement goods provokes Israeli anger

Israel hit back at South Africa for its decision on Wednesday to mandate special labels for products made in settlements, with Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon saying that the decision proved the South Africa was still an "apartheid state".

"The changes that took place in South Africa over the years did not yield a truly fundamental change. South Africa remains an apartheid state," Ayalon said in a statement made on Wednesday night, Israeli media reports.

Ayalon also condemned the South African government for the killing of 34 striking miners by police, the largest number of casualties since the end of apartheid, saying, "At the moment South Africa's apartheid is aimed at Israel, and against miners within South AFrica itself.

"Instead of deciding to label Israeli products, Soth Africa should have acted courageously towards the 34 innocent miners that were just asking for an improvement in working conditions."

The proposal, which means that goods coming from settlements will not be allowed to be labelled as 'Made in Israel', has been in consideration since May and was approved by the South African government on Wednesday. more

Thursday, 23 August 2012

New book "Freedom Sailors" provides riveting account of siege-breaking journey to Gaza

Freedom Sailors is a first-hand account of the first successful attempt to break the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip by sailing two boats into Gaza City, a port that had been closed to international ship traffic since Israel initiated the 1967 war.

With contributions from 24 persons who either took part in the sailing or helped organize it, the book takes us from the initial inception of the idea through the drama of organizing the voyage while keeping the details secret from Israel’s prying eyes to the final jubilant welcome by tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza on 23 August 2008.

Freedom Sailors offers an often-riveting narrative and gives important information about the inhumane consequences of Israel’s siege. But this book may ultimately be valued simply for documenting the fact that a group of ordinary people came up with an extraordinary idea that succeeded in calling world attention to the plight of Gaza’s 1.6 million people.

Knowing what we know now, it was also an extremely dangerous idea. Subsequent attempts to break the blockade by sea resulted in boats being rammed and taken into custody by the Israeli Navy, their passengers and crew imprisoned and then deported. And then came the killing on 31 May 2010 of nine Turkish citizens on board the Mavi Marmara, including the point-blank, execution-style slaying of Furkan Dogan, a 19-year-old Turkish-American student who apparently committed the grave crime of pointing a video camera at an Israeli commando. more

Buy at Amazon: Freedom Sailors: The Maiden Voyage of the Free Gaza movement and how we succeeded in spite of ourselves.

Report: Israeli police officer witnessed Zion Square ‘lynching’ and chose not to intervene

Israeli press first reported a patrol officer was called to the scene of the lynching in Zion Square as the attackers were screaming 'Death to Arabs' and chasing Palestinian the youths.

Google Translate: He chose not to intervene and left without calling additional forces. "It did not affect him, he chose not to intervene," said the eyewitness.
New evidence interprets the young Arab attack in Zion Square indicate poor conduct of the Israel Police: newspaper "Ma'ariv" post this morning that the focus of police reports of events came about 40 minutes before the violent event. According to an eyewitness at the scene, a patrolman who was called to the scene watched young wild square, but left the place minute by beating young.

Muhammad, one of employee witnesses near the square cats, suggesting that the 100 center called the police and reported the event. A few minutes later a policeman arrived on a motorcycle tour of watching young people chasing Arabs but the officer chose not to intervene.

"The policeman arrived just as the boys began to shout 'Death to Arabs', he was right in the mess, he heard the curses, saw chase Arabs and beat them, but it did not affect him., He decided not to intervene and did not ask to send other teams to place," said witness.

Jerusalem Police sources told the newspaper "Ma'ariv that the place did come Explorer police after receiving the complaint center. According scout scan performed and explained that some of the boys dispersed, and some came to Zion Square.

Israel issues demolition orders to Beit Ummar homes

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces issued demolition orders to two homes in Beit Ummar, Hebron on Wednesday, official news agency Wafa reported.

Israeli civil administration officials, accompanied by soldiers, issued the orders to Younis Zaqeq and Jawad Awad, Wafa quoted popular committee member Muhammad Awad as saying.

Their homes are located near the Karmi Zur settlement. more

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Israeli forces gunfire targets fishermen and farmers in Gaza

GAZA, (PIC) -- Israeli artillery and gunboats fired projectiles and machine guns at Palestinian houses and fishing boats in the Gaza Strip at dawn Wednesday.

Local sources told PIC's correspondent that the occupation artillery had fired a shell at Palestinian agricultural land in Juhor al-Dik village, southeast of Gaza City, pointing out that the shell exploded without causing casualties.

The sources added that the Israeli gunboats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of Gaza City and forced them to abandon their boats and to halt fishing. more

Verdict in Rachel Corrie Lawsuit to be Announced August 28th

(Haifa, Israel – August 21, 2012) – The verdict in the civil lawsuit against the State of Israel for the killing of peace activist Rachel Corrie over nine years ago will be announced August 28, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. at the Haifa District Court.

Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old American from Olympia, Washington, was crushed to death March 16, 2003, by an Israeli military Caterpillar D9-R bulldozer while nonviolently protesting demolition of Palestinian civilian homes in Rafah, Gaza.

The lawsuit, filed in 2005 on behalf of the Corrie family by attorney Hussein abu Hussein, charges the State of Israel with responsibility for Rachel’s killing and failure to conduct a full and credible investigation in the case.

“The lawsuit is just a small step in our family’s nearly decade-long search for truth and justice,” said Craig Corrie, Rachel’s father. “The mounting evidence presented before the court underscores a broken system of accountability – tolerated by the United States in spite of its conclusions that Israel’s military investigation was not ‘thorough, credible, or transparent.’” more

Official: Rafah, Kerem Shalom crossings to partially reopen

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, and the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing with Israel, will partially reopen on Wednesday, a Palestinian official said.

"The Egyptian side told us first that the Rafah crossing will operate Wednesday morning in both directions, but on Tuesday evening the Egyptians informed us the land port would operate only for passengers coming into Gaza," border official Raed Fattouh said.

The Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel would operate on Wednesday to allow the entry of humanitarian aid, domestic-use gas and some commercial merchandise, the Gaza official added. more

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

US state department for the first time lists settler violence as terrorism in its 2011 report

The US State Department has included violence by "extremist Israeli settlers" in its 2011 annual report on terrorism around the world.

The Country Reports on Terrorism 2011 lists several incidents including three arson attacks against mosques in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and the defacing of Muslim graves in Jerusalem's Mamilla Cemetry with Hebrew "price tag" graffiti.

The report also refers to an attack by Israeli settlers on IDF soldiers and an IDF military base in the West Bank, noting that it "sparked a public debate in Israel on the phenomena of settler violence". Such "price tag" incidents are violent acts committed by extremist Israeli settlers in retribution for Israeli government and army actions that they perceive to be anti-settler.

A total of ten mosques were "vandalized or set on fire in attacks that Israeli authorities believed were perpetrated by settlers" in the West Bank and Jerusalem in 2011, according to the report. This has increased from six in 2010 and one in 2009.

The inclusion of settler attacks in the report comes after a Palestinian taxi was attacked with a Molotov cocktail last Thursday, injuring six Palestinians, including two four-year-old children. At the time, the US State Department condemned the incident in the "strongest possible terms", and urged the Israeli government to take action to bring the perpetrators, who are widely thought to have been settlers, to justice. more

Hamas deputy condemns Egyptian accusations against Palestinians over Sinai attack

The deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, Mosa Abu-Marzouq, has condemned Egyptian commentators who accuse Palestinians of the recent Sinai attacks while dismissing any possible Israeli involvement. Mr Abu-Marzouq said that it is "strange that such critics regard the Israelis as friends and the Palestinians as enemies".

According to Abu-Marzouq, his anguish increased when Egyptian writers implied that they were somehow closer to the soldiers killed in the Sinai attack than he was: "The Prophet, peace be upon him, said that when a Muslim is hurt the whole Ummah feels the pain. We all felt the pain of the martyrs of Sinai." more

American student shot dead by Israel “deserved” to die says Guardian’s Joshua Treviño

By Ali Abunimah (Electronic Intidfada)
“There are some Americans we’re better off without. Furkan Dogan is one of them.” - The Guardian’s Joshua Treviño on 3 June 2010.
Today, despite the uproar over his incitement to murder Americans, Joshua Treviño was allowed to debut his new regular column at The Guardian.

The Guardian is sticking to the fiction that Treviño’s tweet of 25 June 2011 in which he wrote, “Dear IDF: If you end up shooting any Americans on the new Gaza flotilla – well, most Americans are cool with that. Including me,” was a one-off and somehow not representative or typical.

Why won’t the Guardian correct these lies?

Guardian editors were as of today still directing readers to a so-called “clarification” Treviño wrote on 16 August in which he told the following bald-faced lie:
any reading of my tweet of 25 June 2011 that holds that I applauded, encouraged, or welcomed the death of fellow human beings, is wrong, and out of step with my life and record.

In fact Treviño regularly applauded, encouraged and welcomed the deaths of fellow human beings, specifically the 9 unarmed civilians killed aboard the Mavi Marmara on 31 May 2010. A year later, in June 2011, he goaded Israel to kill passengers aboard a new flotilla. Some of the people aboard that later flotilla were American author Alice Walker and Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein.

Earlier today, I wrote to Guardian editors Alan Rusbridger, Janine Gibson, Matt Seaton, Nell Boase and PR rep Jennifer Lindenauer asking for a correction of Treviño’s blatantly false statement. So far I have had no response. more

Israeli suspect's racism in attack on Palestinians: 'For all I care, let him die. He’s an Arab'

TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- One of the suspects arrested by Israeli police in connection with an attack on a group of Palestinians at the weekend said Monday that he doesn't care if the victim dies because he's Arab, Haaretz reported.

The suspect, 15, made the comments upon arriving at Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on Monday, and admitted to beating Jamal Julani, who was hospitalized following the attack.

"For all I care, let him die. He’s an Arab," Haaretz reported the suspect as saying.

Julani, from Ras al-Amud in Jerusalem, remains in a serious condition in Hadassah Medical Center and has awoken from his coma but does not remember the assault, Haaretz reported.

Haaretz said the attack was allegedly perpetrated by dozens of Jewish teens, whom eyewitnesses say were wandering around the area "searching" for Arabs to beat up. more

Monday, 20 August 2012

Sixth groups of relatives of Gaza prisoners begin travel into Israel to visit them

GAZA, (PIC)-- The sixth batch of relatives of Gaza prisoners in the Israeli jails left Monday morning the Strip on a visit to those prisoners for the first time in six years.

A prisoners’ hunger strike forced the Israeli prison service to allow visits for Gaza prisoners after six years of deprivation.

The relatives assembled in a bus for the Red Cross that left the coastal enclave via Erez crossing point en route to Nafha jail. more

University of Bradford students forge links with Gaza

Bradford students hope to develop scholarships for fellow students from Gaza after a delegation – the country’s first from a student union – visited the troubled area to develop links between universities.

Students at the University of Bradford visited universities in Gaza as part of a project to run workshops, help share best practice and forge links with other institutions.

Usman Ahmed, 21, of Lidget Green , said universities were forced to close their doors as their entire student populations wished to attend the workshops led by the Bradford students.

Mr Ahmed, who is about to enter the third year of a combined studies degree at Bradford, came up with the idea for the trip alongside fellow student Ruckaiya Karim, as part of the United 4Palestine group.

Mr Ahmed said “I found it quite inspirational that despite the occupation, despite the lack of resources – some of the equipment they were using was quite old and had been donated by countries quite a while back, almost 20 years ago – the students academically were really motivated.”

Mr Ahmed said he and other Bradford students led a number of workshops – some of which were attended by up to 400 people – showing Gaza students a more interactive way of learning than the traditional lecture. more

Political support and quality of products sees Turkish goods fill Gaza markets

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Markets in the Gaza Strip are increasingly turning to Turkish products to fill their shelves, Ma'an's correspondent reported Sunday.

The demand for Turkish products exceeds other competing imported goods, and the prices suit the Gazan market.

"When citizens come to buy, they always ask for Turkish goods and buy them as they are more practical and more comfortable," clothes shop owner Samir Moussa said.

Another businessman, Wael Shawwa, said that he only imports Turkish goods, but mainly due to the country's steadfast support for the Gaza Strip.

"Turkish goods are preferred by everyone in Gaza because of Turkey’s position, in addition to the quality of the goods," he said. more

Video: Israeli soldiers assault journalists after village demonstration

في هذا الفيديو :: قامت قوات الاحتلال اليوم في قرية كفر قدوم بالاعتداء بوحشية مفرطة على الصحفيين جعفر شتية (كسر في اليد) بكر عبد الحق (جروح متوسطة) نضال شتية وفارس فارس ، ومن ثم اقتادت القوة المعتدية الصحفيين الى معسكر كدوميم العسكري وأجبرتهم على التوقيع على تعهد بعدم تغطية الاحداث في كفر قدوم

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces assaulted a group of Palestinian journalists who were covering a weekly demonstration in a northern West Bank village on Friday, activists said.

Video footage taken by Oday Qadumi, a volunteer for Israeli rights group B'Tselem, shows soldiers apprehending and striking the journalists in Kafr Qaddum, east of Qalqiliya.

Six journalists were injured, locals said, including AFP photojournalist Jafar Eshtayya who suffered a broken arm.

Nablus TV's Baker Abdul Haq was moderately injured, while Palestine Today TV's Fares Fares and Xinhua news agency's Nidal Eshtayya were also hurt in the incident, the said.

The group were briefly detained after the incident. more

Report: '4,550 Palestinians, including 220 children, imprisoned by Israel'

Palestinian researcher and former political prisoners, Abdul-Nasser Farawna, reported that Israel is currently holding captive 4550 Palestinians, held in 17 prisons, detention and interrogation centers, and added that 220 Palestinian children are still imprisoned by Israel.

Talking to the Maan News Agency, Farawna stated that the army conducts invasions and arrests on a daily basis, and added that soldiers usually kidnap around 10 Palestinians a day.

Farawna said that 220 children are currently imprisoned by Israel and facing ongoing violations, in addition to being subject to harsh treatment and torture during interrogation, similar to what adult detainees face during interrogation.

250 Palestinians are currently imprisoned under administrative detention orders, without charges or trial. Six Palestinian women are also held by Israel, including Lina Al-Jarbouni, from the 1948 territories; Al-Jarbouni was taken prisoner more than 10 years ago.

Israel is also holding captive 17 democratically elected legislators and three former ministers. more

Haniyeh welcomes Miles of Smiles 15 aid convoy as show of solidarity with Palestinian people

GAZA, (PIC)-- Palestinian premier in Gaza Ismail Haneyya has said that the continuation of aid convoys to the Gaza Strip reflected that the Palestinian people were not alone in face of occupation.

Haneyya, who was receiving a delegation of the Miles of Smiles 15 aid convoy on Saturday, said that the Palestine cause was the core issue for the entire Arab and Islamic world.

The premier said that arrival of that convoy was one of the “victory omens” as it indicated that arrival to Gaza was now easy and not like in the past.

He hailed all members of the convoy for departing their families and countries in order to spend a few days of solidarity with the people of Gaza, noting that the arrival of the convoy coincided with the advent of Eidul Fitr. more

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Happy Eid, from Gaza with love

Boy with Eid candies, Gaza 2012 Photographer Sarah el-khoudary

In Gaza, people celebrate. Yes, Gaza celebrates. Piles of all kinds of candy are spread everywhere on sidewalks in markets. Different kinds of fresh fruit, toys, snacks, Eid cookies. In Gaza, like so many other places in the world, kids are eager to wear their new clothes at the very early hours of the first day of Eid. They wake up early in the morning of Eid to get dressed and to pray along with the rest of the neighborhood, after spending the last week preparing with their Moms, going through shopping lists, and going with them to the market to buy their precious outfits, cleaning the house and caring for little spots while cleaning the staircase, helping bake the incredibly irresistible cookies.

In Palestine, those same children miss their dads who are either locked behind bars, behind crossings and borders, or locked under gravestones. In Gaza, you feel a bit excited about tomorrow. Then electricity goes off. You remember you didn’t iron your clothes, but you haven’t decided what you’re going to wear anyway, so you don’t bother getting mad about it. In Gaza, you see pictures of weekly demonstrations in villages in the West Bank, and you wonder how THEIR Eid is going to be after all that gas they inhaled and after one more day of being silenced by an army, after one more Friday of challenge, arrests, resistance, Sumood. Friends of yours wish a Happy Eid for everyone. Then wish the next Eid would be in a free Palestine.

You laugh more

An Open Letter from Gaza to EU: Do not reward apartheid!

Open letter from the One Democratic State Group

We call on the European Union to challenge and not embrace Israel’s incessant land expropriation and racist subjugation against the Palestinian people. The European Union’s own reports document and supposedly lament Israel’s apartheid policies, yet continues to pursue policies that legitimize them, such as the scandalous upgrade of trade relations currently being put forward.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said that the regime you wish to do even more business with is worse than South African Apartheid, having been to the West Bank many times. But you turn your eyes and ears away from him. So does former ANC MP Ronnie Kassrils and countless other South Africans who have been to see the physical and psychological matrix of control Israel has mounted against us.

You are very well aware of what is happening to us. In terms of the brutal and illegal colonisation of the West Bank your own report from the Office of the European Union Representative (EUREP) in Jerusalem of July 2011 stated

“…large Jewish populations have settled into the occupied territory, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and international humanitarian law. In 1972 there were 1,200 settlers which have grown to 310,000 settlers today in 124 settlements and 100 so called outposts in Area C. The Israeli government subsidizes and provides incentives including funding for housing, education and infrastructure such as special roads and water connection… The municipal area of settlements encompasses 9.3% of the West Bank Territory. However, due to the extensive network of settler roads and restrictions on Palestinians accessing their own land, the whole structure of the Israeli settlements dominate more than 40% of the West Bank.”

This is enforced Apartheid Segregation. Perhaps you shy away from using the words,”Ethnic Cleansing”, despite categorical evidence you yourselves present: “Prior to the Israeli occupation in 1967 the Palestinian population of the Jordan valley was estimated at between 200,000 and 320,000. As of 2009 the population is approximately 56,000…” This is ethnic cleansing in its most explicit form.

“Settlements of all kinds – formal or informal outposts – are illegal under international law.” You explain in the report. more

Mursi offers Eid greeting to Haniyeh - says Egypt will stand by Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi telephoned Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh on Sunday morning to congratulate him on the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Fitr.

Mursi told Haniyeh that Egypt will stand by Gaza, while Haniyeh thanked Egypt for its support to the Palestinian people.

Haniyeh stressed the importance of joint security cooperation with Egypt. more

Guardian newspaper hires man who called for killing of activists on Mavi Marmara

By Ali Abunimah (Electronic Intifada)

Earlier today, Al Jazeera published my article “What’s gone wrong at the Guardian” about the newspaper’s decision to hire Joshua Treviño, a right-wing ideologue who openly called for Israel to murder unarmed civilians and journalists attempting to sail to Gaza in June 2011 and gloated at the killing of civilians aboard the Mavi Marmara a year earlier.

A few hours after my article appeared, I received a surprising email from the Guardian’s press office:
Josh Trevino is not a correspondent for the Guardian. He is a freelance writer on contract to write opinion pieces. His articles will appear on the Guardian’s Comment is Free section of the site ( along with articles from many other freelance writers.

Thank you in advance for making this correction.

Did I make a mistake in referring to Treviño as a “correspondent” in my Al Jazeera article, and in my original blog post of 15 August, the day his appointment was announced?

If you look at the Guardian’s 15 August press release as it appears now it begins:
Today the Guardian announced the addition of Josh Treviño to its commentary team in the United States. Formerly of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Treviño will be the newest commentator for the Guardian’s growing US politics team through his column On Politics & Persuasion which launches on Monday 20 August.

But that is not what it said on 15 August, when I quoted it. Here is how it began then (emphasis added):
Today the Guardian announced the addition of Josh Treviño to their editorial team. Formerly of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Treviño will be the newest Correspondent for the Guardian’s growing US politics team through his column “On Politics & Persuasion” which launches on Monday, August 20.

Report: Egypt airports to refuse access for Palestinians

CAIRO (Ma'an) -- Palestinians flying to Egypt over the Eid al-Fitr holiday will not be allowed to enter the country, al-Ahram news site reported Saturday.

Airport authorities informed airlines that Palestinians will not be allowed to enter Egypt because the Rafah crossing is closed until Wednesday, the Egyptian news site said.

Egypt opened the border crossing on Tuesday for three days but have now closed it for the Eid al-Fitr holiday. more

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Gaza Salafists slam Hamas for post-Sinai attack crackdown

A Salafist official accused Gaza’s Hamas rulers on Friday of arresting an activist wounded in an Israeli air 14raid as part of a crackdown since the deadly Sinai attack on August 5.

According to a statement by Abu Abdallah al Mohajir, Hamas internal security forces arrested Sheikh Abu Suhaib Rashwan on Wednesday, “immediately after Rashwan was released from hospital.”

Rashwan was “seriously injured in the Israeli raid that targeted him along with the martyr Ghaleb Armelat in the city of Rafah,” he said.

On June 20, an Israeli missile strike on a motorcycle in the southern border city of Rafah wounded Rashwan and killed 21-year-old Ermilat.

The Israeli military said Ermilat was a “global jihad operative” who was behind a deadly ambush along the Israeli-Egyptian border two days earlier that killed an Israeli civilian. more

Friday, 17 August 2012

al-Qassam Brigades fighter Majid Kahlout killed by unintended detonation of explosive device

JABALIYA, (PIC)-- The military wing of the Hamas movement said on Friday that one of its members was killed a day earlier in the Gaza Strip after an explosive device mistakenly detonated.

The Al-Qassam Brigades confirmed, in a statement, that Majed Zaki Al-Kahlout, 40, from Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, had died on Thursday. more

Mass rally marks the international Jerusalem Day in Gaza

GAZA, (PIC)-- Thousands of people in Gaza have participated in a massive rally on Friday to mark the international Jerusalem Day.

The rally, organized by national and Islamic forces in Gaza, kicked off after the Friday congregation where the participants raised the Palestinian flag and banners in support of Jerusalem.

Dr. Rabah Muhanna, member of the political bureau of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, affirmed that Jerusalem liberation could not be achieved through “absurd negotiations”.

Muhanna called on PA president Mahmoud Abbas to stop negotiations and security coordination with the occupier and to unify efforts to face the occupation's crimes. more

Morsi faces 'frightening' pressure not to open crossings and end Gaza Siege

(Egyptian information minister Abdul-Maqsoud confirmed that all Palestinian factions are regarded equally by Egypt)

Reports from the Middle East claim that Egypt's President Morsi is facing "frightening" pressure not to open the border with the Gaza Strip and thus end the siege. According to the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai, Egypt's Information Minister Salah Abdul-Maqsoud said that Morsi intends to do his best, despite the pressure, to open the crossings between his country and Gaza.

"There is no international law which allows you to close a nation's sole outlet for travel and treatment," said Abdul-Maqsoud. "There is a popular desire to end the siege imposed on the Palestinians, which was clear in the president's electoral campaign. We will open the borders and allow free movement, but it needs some more time to be done."

Speaking about the results of the changes in Egypt, the minister said that Palestine is returning to its rightful position. "For the first time, the Egyptian president is meeting all Palestinian leaders without prejudice," he said, referring to the visits of the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Hamas political bureau Khaled Meshaal and Gaza's Prime Minster Ismail Haniyeh, who were all received at the presidential palace.

Abdul-Maqsoud confirmed that all Palestinian factions are regarded equally by Egypt: "Currently, Egypt stands with all Palestinian factions to work for grasping Palestinian rights, whereas the previous regime stood alongside Fatah only." He added that ousted President Mubarak "used to strangle the resistance movement, especially Hamas and Islamic Jihad; they were dealt with as security issues." more

Members of United Church of Canada affirm resolution to boycott Israeli settlement products

In this week’s roundup of news from the global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, members of the United Church of Canada affirm a resolution to boycott Israeli settlement products; Red Hot Chili Peppers still slated to perform in Israel despite sustained international outcry; Boycott campaigners support Ottowa musicians; and Israel won’t be represented at International Culture Summit in Scotland.

United Church of Canada members affirm resolution to boycott Israeli settlement products

Following recent, high-profile announcements by the Presbyterian and Methodist churches in the United States to boycott products made in illegal Israeli settlement colonies in the West Bank, members of the United Church of Canada this week affirmed a similar boycott resolution at their annual General Conference, to be voted on on 17 August.

The Toronto Star reported on Thursday that, like the votes that took place in the US churches, the vote at the United Church of Canada was “preceded by nearly six hours of contentious debate, in which the church’s general council members nitpicked the proposal’s wording and heard drawn-out testimonies from representatives on both sides of the issue.” The Star added that the United Church of Canada is the country’s largest denomination of Protestant Christians. more

Father, mother and children injured in Israeli settlers firebomb attack

Palestinian medical sources in Bethlehem reported Thursday that a cab driver, a Palestinian father, mother and their children, from Nahhalin town, near Bethlehem, suffered moderate to severe injuries after fundamentalist Israeli settlers hurled a firebomb at the Palestinian cab.

The attack took place when the Palestinian Taxi was driving near the illegal Bat Ayin and Gavot illegal settlements, close to the Gush Etzion settlement block, south the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem.

Medical sources reported that a cab driving a Palestinian family was attacked by extremist settlers who also hurled a firebomb at it leading to six injuries; the wounded six family members received initial treatment in Bethlehem before being moved to the Hadassah Israeli hospital in Jerusalem due to the seriousness of their injuries.

Head of the Emergency Department of the Red Crescent in Bethlehem, Abdul-Halim Ja’afra, reported that wounded residents were identified as Bassam (cab driver) Mahmoud Ghayatha, 55, Ayman Hassan Ghayatha, 35, his wife Jamila Abdul-Hai, 28, their children; Mohammad, 5, and Eman, 4, and Hasan Mohammad Hasan Ghayatha, 26. more

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Witnesses: Israeli forces fire on eastern Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli military vehicles crossed into the Gaza Strip east of Rafah on Thursday, as residents heard heavy gunfire but no injuries were reported.

Three tanks and four bulldozers crossed near the al-Nahda neighborhood east of al-Shouka, witnesses said. They said forces fired guns and launched smoke bombs.

A Palestinian militant escaped the area amid heavy shooting, witnesses said. His motorcycle was burned. more

Video: Off-duty soldiers drag Palestinian into Hebron house

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A group of off-duty soldiers were captured on video dragging a Palestinian man into a house in the West Bank city of Hebron on Tuesday.

The video shows a group of at least nine men and one uniformed Israeli soldier aggressively drag a Palestinian youth down a road and into a house. more

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Gaza Paralympians confident of success in London

GAZA CITY (Reuters) -- Wheelchair-bound Khamis Zaqout from Gaza, who lost the use of his legs while working on a building site in Israel two decades ago, is Palestine's best hope for a Paralympic medal in London this month.

Zaqout will compete in the shot put, discus and javelin at the Aug. 29-Sept. 9 Games. Partially-sighted long-jumper Mohammed Fannouna, a bronze winner in Athens, will be Palestine's second representative.

"We have crawled to the Paralympics. I have achieved an Asian record with the simple means that we have," said Zaqout.

The pair were good enough to vie for medals, said Ala Shataly, a Palestinian Paralympic Committee member, whereas the Palestinians usually had only a symbolic presence in able-bodied sports.

The team had nothing to celebrate at the London Olympics, which ended on Sunday and where a judoka, two swimmers and two runners competed.

"We have always been competitive at the Paralympics where we strive for achievements and we have reached a stage where we cannot go backwards," Shataly said.

"Zaqout is definitely going to win a medal," he said, adding that Fannouna, who won two golds and three bronze medals in the Arab Games in Doha last year, was also capable of a podium finish.

Palestine have won three Paralympic medals: Hussam Azzam took a bronze in Sydney and a silver in Athens in the shot put and Fannouna captured the long-jump bronze in Athens. more

Nabi Saleh: 'The resistance is for our kids’ future'

(Nabi Saleh resident Manal Tamimi – click to see more photos)

On the evening of July 26, social media lit up with messages from residents of the village Nabi Saleh.

“Four army jeeps and around 20 soldiers standing at the entrance” tweeted Manal Tamimi, and later, “for the third day (in a [row]) the army invading the village before eftar.”

Since late 2010, Nabi Saleh has been raided regularly by Israeli forces, and the religious month of Ramadan is no exception. The long awaited eftar meal brings relief to the fasting people. In the little village, only a 15 minute drive northwest of Ramallah, eftar often arrives with uninvited guests.

The reasons for these punitive raids must be found in late 2009 when people from Nabi Saleh and nearby villages organized to protest the occupation and the illegal settlements.

In July 2008, Inhabitants of the illegal Israeli settlement of Halamish, some 700 metres from Nabi Saleh, began using Al-qaws spring for recreational purposes. For Palestinians in the area, the spring was a vital factor in farming the dry land, as well as for cultural and recreational purposes. When settlers began renovating the site of the spring, damaging trees and property, the Palestinian owner filed several complaints to the police but was ignored.

In January 2010, Israeli authorities deemed the spring an archaeological site. Subsequently, Palestinians were prohibited access while the illegal settlers were given free access. They continued to illegally renovate the site against a civil administration order to halt construction.
Two attempts by Palestinian villages in the area to go to the Israeli High Court of Justice proved to be in vain. The only outcome was letting Palestinians return to the spring. This is hardly regarded as a victory when they are still unable to use the water that their village has relied on for so long. As well, Palestinians are still often prevented from accessing the spring, especially in groups, while settlers enjoy free access. more

Netanyahu ignores report on 'legalizing' West Bank settlements fearing international repercussions

Fearing international repercussions and criticism, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, decided to shelve a report prepared by former Supreme Court Judge, Edmond Levy, as the report calls for “legalizing” Israeli settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank as they, allegedly, are “part of the state of Israel’.

Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported that the report Netanyahu decided to bury, does not only call for legalizing settlement outposts, but also allows easier expansion of existing “legal” Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The report was submitted to Netanyahu on June 21; Netanyahu told several cabinet ministers that “the main issue in this report is the fact that it concluded that the Fourth Geneva convention is not applicable in the occupied West Bank” as the territory, according to Levy, “is not occupied, but is part of Israel”.

Netanyahu is not acknowledging the fact that Israel’s presence in the Palestinian territories is occupation by itself, but he fears that highlighting this report would lead to international controversy as the report contradicts different articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory, and International Law. more