Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Top-level Bahraini delegation to visit Gaza

Gaza: A high-level Bahraini delegation will arrive in Gaza today to open two UNRWA schools, the enclave’s Hamas rulers said on Tuesday, denying it would be led by one of the princes.

“A high-level Bahraini delegation will visit Gaza on Thursday headed by Mustafa Al Syed, Secretary-General of the Bahraini Royal Charity Organisation (RCO),” said a statement issued by Taher Al Nunu, spokesman for the Gaza government.

The statement was issued shortly after two separate sources - one close to the Hamas government and another from the UN refugee agency - said the delegation would be led Shaikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, a son of the Bahraini king.

Government sources in Manama also denied claims that Shaikh Hamad would visit Gaza, saying the delegation had already set off under the leadership of Syed. more

Druze youth faces jail for refusing to serve in Israel’s army

Omar Saad, a Palestinian musician and high school senior from the Druze minority religious community, faces imprisonment over his refusal to take part in a recruitment test for the Israeli military on Wednesday (31 October).

Saad has bravely made his views known to Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, and Ehud Barak, its defense minister. In a letter to both men, Saad stated: “I will not be fuel to the fire of your war” (“I’m Omar Saad and I will not be a soldier in your army,” Abir Kopty’s blog, 27 October).

Speaking to The Electronic Intifada, Saad elaborated on why military service repelled him. “As a believer in nonviolence whose only weapon is his viola and as someone who believes in the right of all people to live in freedom, dignity and equality, I can never serve in an army that intrinsically opposes these values,” he said. more

Video: Israeli soldiers attack and kidnap woman trying to de-arrest her son

A video that was captured by local residents, and was broadcast by activists of the nonviolent group Youth Coalition Against Settlements, shows Israeli soldiers kidnapping a nonviolent activist, an and attacking his mother, who tried to de-arrest him, and eventually the soldiers kidnapped the mother. more

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Ministry: Israel cancels visits to Gaza prisoners

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israel has canceled family visits for prisoners from Gaza, three months after they were resumed, the PA Ministry of Detainee Affairs said Monday.

In July, Israel allowed the first visits to prisoners from Gaza in five years. Visits had been banned since 2007 to pressure Hamas to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was freed in Oct. 2011.

Israel agreed to resume family visits for Gaza prisoners as part of a deal to end a mass month-long hunger strike in Israeli jails. At the time, Minister of Detainee Affairs Issa Qaraqe said visits were resuming on an "experimental basis." more

Twenty two groups call for EU ban on Israeli settler products

(Reuters) - Twenty two religious groups and charities have called on the European Union to ban products made by Israeli settlers in the occupied territories, saying a boycott would undercut their economic reason for staying there.

The EU is Israel's biggest trading partner but imports 15 times more from West Bank-based Israeli settlers than from Palestinians, a group of 22 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) said on Tuesday.

"European consumers are unwittingly supporting the settlements and the attendant violations of human rights," the groups said in a report that called for a ban or, at the very least, strict labelling rules.

The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem and say settlements deny them a joined-up viable territory. About 311,000 Israeli settlers and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank.

The EU says settlements Israel has built on land it captured in the 1967 Middle East war are illegal under international law. more

Video: the images and sounds of Gaza’s vibrant subculture in “Not a dreamland”

The Electronic Intifada is proud to present “Not a dreamland”: artists and alternative subcultures in Gaza. This multimedia feature combines videos, stills and sounds collected in February 2012 by Anne Paq of the ActiveStills ( photography collective, exploring vibrant subcultures in the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip.

This short, produced by ActiveStills, features both established artists and performers such as the hip-hop group Palestinian Unit, unconventional filmmaker brothers Arab and Tarzan, painters from the art collective iltika, break dancers from Camps Breakerz as well as less-known youth who experiment with parkour, beat box, break dancing and roller skating. Interview extracts and striking images give context to the conditions under which these artists create, giving vivid insight into a vibrant side of Gaza that is rarely shown. more

Political prisoner Hasan Safady released after two hunger strikes

Palestinian political prisoner Hasan Safadi was released from an Israeli detention facility on Monday, after being detained for 16 months under administrative detention without charges or trial; he held two extended hunger-strikes mounting to 168 days.

Talking to his family and the massive crowds that gathered to greet him after his release, Safadi stated that his freedom was obtained “after an extended battle motivated by patience and determination”.

He added that he did not receive any medical treatment during his strike when he was hospitalized at the Ramla Prison Clinic that lacks basic supplies, and added that “Doctors and nurses at the prison clinic are wolves in pigeons clothes”, the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) reported. more

Egypt delivers Qatari fuel for Gaza

EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities on Monday transferred 350,000 liters of Qatari fuel into Israel for delivery to the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian Authority official said.

The fuel, donated by Qatar, was sent through the al-Auja crossing on the Egypt-Israel border and will be delivered to Gaza via Kerem Shalom crossing, said Omar Hadhoud, a PA representative at the al-Auja crossing.

Hadhoud told Ma'an the delivery had been held up due to Israeli crossings closures amid an escalation in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza and rocket attacks from the enclave. more

Monday, 29 October 2012

Palestinian farmer refuses to sell his land to settlers for $15 million

BETHLEHEM, (PIC)-- Jewish settlers have recently offered $15 million to a Palestinian farmer, from the town of Khader, south of Bethlehem, to sell 18 dunums of his agricultural land located within Efrat settlement.

The farmer Ibrahim Suleiman Sabih, 44, confirmed that he had received an offer from an Israeli official responsible for “Absentee land in Israel", where he offered to buy the land for ten million dollars. The official later raised the amount to fifteen million dollars.

Sabih told Quds Press that the settlers, for their part, offered to swap his land for another outside the boundaries of the settlement and offered him money, stressing his rejection to all these offers. more

Palestinians setup tent camp at Ush Ghrab to protest a planned settlement

Dozens of Palestinians accompanied with international supports setup a protest tent in the Ush Ghrab area of eastern Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem on Sunday. The action, which was organized by the Popular Resistance Committee in Beit Sahour, aims at stopping the planned construction of a settlement in the area.

After the Sunday mass, dozens of worshippers along with international friends arrived at the site and started setting up a tent, and cleaned the area of rubbish.

Israeli soldiers, who have been stationed in the area in a military tower setup since 2010, arrived at the scene but did not interrupt the youth.

The area was under Israeli military control following the 1967 occupation of the West Bank until the Israeli military unilaterally decided to abandon the area in 2006.

The municipality of Beit Sahour immediately started rehabilitating the area to turn it into a public park and recreational place for children and families. In 2008, Israeli settlers, motivated by an settler organization named “Women in Green” started to organize activities in the area, that they call Shdema, in order to build a Jewish settlement. more

Israel strikes Gaza overnight, no injuries

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli warplanes struck several sites in the Gaza Strip overnight Sunday, causing substantial damage but with no reports of injuries.

Gaza brigades also fired 18 rockets into southern Israel overnight, without causing injuries or damage, Israeli news site Ynet reported.

Hamas' military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, claimed responsibility for firing at several Israeli military sites "in response to the continued Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip."

An Al-Qassam site was hit in an overnight airstrike east of Khan Younis in south Gaza, causing damage to the site and surrounding area.

Another Al-Qassam building was bombed in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun. Witnesses said the site suffered significant damage, and surrounding buildings, including Beit Hanoun municipality building, were also affected.

Residents also reported that a building site was flattened east of Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, and another Israeli strike hit an empty area south of Gaza City.

No injuries have been reported. more

Sunday, 28 October 2012

3 killed in Gaza tunnel collapse say medic, 4 killed this weelk

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Three men were killed when a smuggling tunnel under the Gaza-Egypt border collapsed on Saturday, medics said.

Zuheir Qassem, 25, and two other unidentified men were killed when the Rafah tunnel collapsed.

On Thursday, 23-year-old Walid Nasser Marouf, from Beit Lahiya, died in a tunnel under Gaza's border with Egypt near Rafah, officials said.

Medics say over 160 Palestinians have died in the network of underground tunnels since Israel imposed a siege on the Gaza Strip in 2006. more

Activist charged with “inciting racial hatred” for unfurling Palestinian flag at Israel basketball game in France

Prosecutors in France have charged an activist with “incitement to racial hatred” for briefly running onto the court and unfurling a Palestinian flag during a basketball game played by French and Israeli teams on 25 October.

The game, between Tel Aviv’s Maccabi Electra and the home team in the eastern France city of Chalon, was played under a heavy security presence, with local police taking orders from Israel’s international assassination agency Mossad.

The video shows the activist, who has been identified only as “Layli,” running onto the court before being tackled by security officers. According to Layli, he was roughly treated and hit in the head by security officers, kept in a cell overnight, and then charged and taken before a judge the following day. He will stand trial on 9 November.

Layli said that his action, far from being motivated by “hatred,” was intended to “denounce the policies of a state,” and to “to express my support for the Palestinian people.” more

al-Qassam brigades fighter killed in Israeli airstrike

The Al-Qassam Brigades, the army wing of the Hamas movement, reported that one of its fighters was killed, and another fighter was seriously injured, after being extra judicially targeted, on Saturday night after midnight, by Israeli army shells, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

Medical sources in Gaza stated that an Israeli war jet fired at least one missile at a group of fighters of the Al-Qassam Brigades, stationed near Salah Ed-Deen road, close to the As-Salaam Hospital in Khan Younis.

The Al-Qassam Brigades identified the slain fighter as Suleiman Al-Qarra, 22, and added that another fighter was seriously wounded.

The Brigades said that its fighters also fired several shells at Israeli military armored vehicles invading an areas east of Khan Younis.

Earlier on Saturday, several armored Israeli military vehicles, and armored bulldozers, invaded Al-Qarara town, east of Khan Younis, while firing dozens of rounds of live ammunition at random. more

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Israel detains leading MP near Nablus

NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces detained the secretary-general of the Palestinian parliament Mahmoud al-Ramahi on Saturday afternoon as he passed through a northern West Bank checkpoint.

Al-Ramahi was driving south from Nablus when he was seized at the Huwwara checkpoint. His car was also confiscated.

The MP was last released from Israeli jail less than four months ago.

An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the detention and said he is "suspected of involvement in illegal activity," without elaborating.

Months after al-Ramahi was appointed to the leadership the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006, he was seized by Israeli forces in his hometown of al-Bireh, near Ramallah, as part of a sweep of arrests after Hamas won elections.

Al-Ramahi, a medical doctor, was elected on the Hamas-affiliated Change and Reform list. more

Aid convoy Miles Of smiles 17 arrives In Gaza

The “Miles Of Smiles 17” solidarity convoy managed to enter the Gaza Strip, on Thursday evening, through the Rafah Border Terminal between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

113 convoy members from different Arabic and foreign countries entered the coastal region to deliver 25 wheel-chair accessible vans, 50 tons of wheat, and 40 tons of medications.

Sources at the Palestinian side of the Rafah Border Terminal stated that Egypt rarely allows food supplies into the Gaza Strip via Rafah as it usually demands that all food supplies should go through that Karem Abu Salem “Kerem Shalom” Crossing.

The sources added that the supplies were allowed through as part of new decisions made by Egypt’s President, Mohammad Morsi, aiming at breaking the siege on Gaza.

It is worth mentioning that, although in many cases delayed by Egypt, all Miles of Smiles convoys have been able to enter the Gaza Strip. more

A circus comes to Gaza - but with concessions to conservatives

Gaza City: The circus came to Gaza on Friday, accompanied by blaring music, juggling clowns and fire blowers — but getting it there required its own high-wire act. No women performers were included for fear of offending conservative Palestinians and the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers, and the circus’ lone lion and tiger were left behind because of the high cost of transporting them legally into Gaza.

The Egyptian National Circus put on its first show of a month-long visit to the impoverished coastal territory on Friday, a sign of warmer relations between Hamas and post-revolution Egypt, which is governed by the Islamic group’s ideological parent, the Muslim Brotherhood.

Although it’s not state-sponsored, the Egyptian circus could only come because the country’s government loosened restrictions on the flow of passengers in and out of Gaza. More foreigners now enter Gaza, including the ruler of the resource-rich Gulf state Qatar earlier this week. more

Friday, 26 October 2012

Hamas condemns Israeli aggression against Sudan

CAIRO, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement strongly condemned the Israeli aggression on the Yarmouk arms factory in the south of Khartoum in Sudan, and expressed its solidarity with the Sudan.

The Islamic resistance movement said in a statement on Thursday: "We strongly condemn this Zionist crime and dastardly attack carried out by the enemy's army against the Yarmouk arms factory in the Sudan."

The statement said the aggression was "flagrant" and proved that Israel is continuing to violate international laws and norms, not only against Palestinian people, land and sanctities, but also against the Arab and Islamic states and peoples." more

UN's Falk calls for boycott of companies profiting from Israeli settlements

United Nations Special Rapporteur on humanitarian affairs in the occupied Palestinian territories, called for boycotting all firms that benefit from Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, and stated that this ban should be submitted to the UN General Assembly Thursday.

He said that businesses named in his report that was submitted to the General Assembly, and many other business that profit from Israel’s settlement enterprise must be boycotted until they comply with the standards of international human rights and humanitarian law.

His report is named “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories since 1967”.

The report names Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett Packard in the United States, in addition to Veolia Environment of France, G4S in Britain, Volvo Group and Assa Abloy in Sweden, Ahava, Elbit System and Mehadrin in Israel, Dexia in Belgium, Cemex of Mexico and Riwal Holding Group in Holland.

In his report, Falk states that Caterpillar provides Israel with equipment, bulldozers and construction devices that are used by Israel in demolishing Palestinian homes, schools and in uprooting Palestinian orchards.

He said that companies that are invested in the Israeli occupation of Palestine, especially in Israel’s settlements are in direct violation of international law standards, and human rights treaties, including the UN Global Compact and the Guiding Principles of the UN on Businesses and Human rights.

Flak added that the International Community must take legal and political actions against companies that are involved in businesses that benefit from the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine , especially in Israel’s illegal settlements. more

Gaza man dies of wounds from Israeli airstrike

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A 24-year-old Palestinian died Thursday from injuries sustained in an Israeli air strike a day earlier, Gaza's health ministry said.

Mohammad Hirzallah had been injured when Israeli warplanes bombed Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip early Wednesday morning. He died in hospital Thursday, the ministry said in a statement.

Muhammad al-Sheikh, 32, a member of the Popular Resistance Committee's military wing the Nasser Saladin Brigades, was killed immediately in the same strike.

Israel's army said it was targeting a launching squad which moments earlier had fired a rocket at southern Israel. more

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Man dies in Gaza tunnel collapse, 2 missing

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The body of 23-year-old Palestinian man was recovered after he was killed in a tunnel collapse in the southern Gaza Strip, civil defense teams said Thursday.

Walid Nasser Marouf, from Beit Lahiya, died in a tunnel under Gaza's border with Egypt near Rafah, officials said.

Two other Palestinians are missing after the tunnel fell in on Wednesday evening, they said.

Medics say over 160 Palestinians have died in the network of underground tunnels since Israel imposed a siege on the Gaza Strip in 2006.

Egypt started closing the tunnels after an Aug. 5 attack in Sinai when gunmen killed 16 Egyptian soldiers. Egypt suspects the tunnels were used by some of the militants. Hamas says no one from Gaza was involved in the attack. more

Truths and lies behind Israel’s attacks on Gaza and its whining about rockets

Israel’s hasbara – propaganda – organs are cranked up to the maximum right now complaining that Israel is once again the innocent victim of barrages of rockets from Gaza, and justifiying Israel’s latest killings of Palestinians in Gaza as a necessary and legitimate response.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed today, “We neither chose nor initiated this escalation but if it continues we are prepared for much more extensive and deeper action” in Gaza.

Don’t believe the lies. Israel has been conducting a systematic campaign of “preemptive” extrajudicial executions in Gaza, knowing full well that this would bring on rocket fire. But Israel thinks the price is worth it.

On 14 October, Ynet published an interview with a senior military officer, under the headline, “Surgical strikes are worth risk of rocket fire”:
Israel’s southern communities are bracing for what may prove further escalation in rocket fire, following Saturday and Sunday’s surgical IAF strikes, which left three terrorists dead; but Colonel Tal Hermoni, the IDF’s outgoing Gaza Division commander, is convinced that the benefits of the IDF’s operations outweigh the danger.

“If we wouldn’t be taking them out, the same terrorists would have infiltrated the border and killed 20 kids at a holiday party,” he said Sunday.

Branch of settler store chain occupied by non-violent Palestinian protesters on West Bank

Palestinian non-violent resistance activists occupying a settler store located in the West Bank.

Reports: Egypt mediates truce between Israel and Hamas

Israeli Yedioth Aharonoth reported that a truce agreement, mediated by Egypt, was reached between Israel and the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip.

The paper said that the truce came into effect starting Wednesday night at midnight.

A Palestinian official confirmed that Egypt is mediating to avoid further tension in the region, the Maan News Agency reported.

The official added that Cairo received a verbal commitment from Hamas to maintain a truce with Israel.

Meanwhile, an Israeli military official stated that ceasefire is a decision that is made by the political leadership in Tel Aviv, and added that the army is always ready for any escalation.

Maan stated that it contacted Ofir Gendelman, Arab Media spokesperson to the Arab media at the office of Israel Prime Minister's Office, but he refused to comment on the issue.

On his part, spokesperson of the Popular Resistance Committee, Abu Mujahid, told Maan on Wednesday evening, that the Committees were not informed of any truce with Israel. more

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Militants join forces as Israel warns of 'extensive' action in Gaza

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday warned of "extensive and deeper action" in Gaza as militant groups announced a joint operation room in the enclave.

"We neither chose nor initiated this escalation but if it continues we are prepared for much more extensive and deeper action," Netanyahu said during a tour in Ashkelon, near the Gaza border.

"Whoever intends to attack Israeli citizens needs to know that he will bear the consequences," said the Israeli premier, who is seeking a renewed mandate in Israel's Jan. 22 election.

Opposition leader Shaul Mofaz accused Netanyahu of "stuttering" on Hamas and said he had not been decisive enough during his term in office, Israeli media reported.

Hamas accused Israel of stepping up its air strikes in the Gaza Strip to vent its anger over Qatar's Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani's visit to Gaza on Tuesday and pledged to "continue to hold a gun ... until Palestine is liberated". more

After 115 days of hunger strike, palestinian detainee stops water intake

Palestinian detainee, Ayman Ash-Sharawna, has been on hunger strike for 115 days, and stopped drinking water on Wednesday, escalating his strike as Israel still refuses to release him, and due to pressures practiced against him by the Prison Administration.

A lawyer of the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS) managed to visit Ash-Sharawna on Tuesday at the Ramla Prison Clinic; the detainee told him that he refuses to be exiled in exchange for his release, and will continue his strike “until freedom or death”.

He added that the Prison Administration keeps moving him from one room to another, and completely isolated him from the rest of the detainees, in an attempt to prevent him from getting the needed rest, and to deprive him from communicating with other detainees.

“Officers of the Prison Administration held several meetings with me, and proposed deporting me or placing me under Administrative Detention without trial”, Sharawna stated, “I will never accept to be deported or imprisoned without charges, I will continue my strike”. more

Israeli poll finds majority in favour of 'apartheid' policies

More than two-thirds of Israeli Jews say that 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank should be denied the right to vote if the area was annexed by Israel, in effect endorsing an apartheid state, according to an opinion poll reported in Haaretz.

Three out of four are in favour of segregated roads for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank, and 58% believe Israel already practises apartheid against Palestinians, the poll found.

A third want Arab citizens within Israel to be banned from voting in elections to the country's parliament. Almost six out of 10 say Jews should be given preference to Arabs in government jobs, 49% say Jewish citizens should be treated better than Arabs, 42% would not want to live in the same building as Arabs and the same number do not want their children going to school with Arabs.

A commentary by Gideon Levy, which accompanied the results of the poll, described the findings as disturbing. "Israelis themselves … are openly, shamelessly and guiltlessly defining themselves as nationalistic racists," he wrote. more

Multiple Israeli airstrikes kill 4, injure 8 in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Multiple Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip have killed four people and injured eight since late Tuesday, medics said.

Early Wednesday, Israeli warplanes struck a target in Rafah, killing Muhammad al-Sheikh, 32, a member of the PRC's military wing the Nasser Saladin Brigades.

One other person was also injured.

Israel's army said it was targeting a launching squad which moments earlier had fired a rocket at southern Israel.

At midnight, an airstrike on Beit Lahiya in Gaza's north killed Ismail al-Tally, a member of Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades, and injured three others, Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma'an.

Another overnight strike in an area northwest of Beit Lahiya killed Loai Abed al-Hakeen Abu Jarad, 24, and Yousef Abu Jalhoum, al-Qidra said. One other person was seriously wounded.

Israel's army said it targeted a squad in the northern Gaza Strip "during its final preparations to fire rockets towards southern Israel."

Hamas officials also reported Israeli tanks firing into Gaza. A military spokesman confirmed that report. more

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Palestinian killed, 3 hurt in Israeli attack on northern Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli fire killed a Palestinian man and injured three others late Tuesday after Israel's army said six rockets fired from the Gaza Strip landed across the border, a medical official said.

Ashraf al-Qidra said three Palestinians were transferred to Kamal Adwan hospital in Jabaliya for treatment of injuries sustained in the attack in the northern Gaza Strip. One person was seriously hurt and the others sustained moderate injuries, al-Qidra added.

The Israeli army said a hit was confirmed after aircraft targeted a rocket launching squad in the northern Gaza Strip, during its final preparations to fire rockets towards southern Israel. more

Ship to Gaza Sweden statement: Israeli Navy used tasers and beat passengers

(Parents of Israeli activist, Elik Elhanan, protest with other activists outside the Ashdod police station, after three Israeli activists were arrested on the Estelle ship on their way to Gaza, October 20, 2012 - Photo: Oren Ziv/ActiveStills)

Oct. 22, 2012 - by Ship to Gaza Sweden

The Israeli activists detained on board the Estelle were released
Elik Elhanan: excessive force was used against us, without any reason

Electric shocks by taser out of vengeful hatred
A Greek MP was beaten by Shabak Security Service interrogators

"I am now on my way home, but I keep thinking of my shipmates, my fellow activists from abroad who are still imprisoned under harsh conditions and undergo interrogation by the Shabak Security Service, among them Parliament Members from several countries," said Elik Elhanan, one of the Israeli activists who had sailed aboard the Gaza-bound Swedish ship "Estelle". Today, the court ordered his release and that of two other detained Israelis, Yonatan Shapira and Reut Mor. "At first they tried to charge us with all kinds of very serious felonies, such as 'aiding the enemy'. The court rejected this out of hand. Today they tried a article on the law books called "Attempted infiltration into a part of the Land of Israel which is not part of the State of Israel" (sic). But the court threw out this charge, too." The detained activists were represented by Attorney Gaby Lasky and her team, who have considerable experience with Human Rights cases.

The released detainees were cheerfully greeted by peace activists who arrived at the courtroom, among them Elik Elhanan's parents - Rami Elhanan and Nurit Peled-Elhanan, who is the daughter of the late Major General Matti Peled. Smadar Elhanan, Elik's sister, was killed in a suicide bombing at the center of Jerusalem – a harsh experience which made surviving family members all the more determined to strive for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, so as to prevent further casualties on either side. more

Health Ministry: Gaza death toll rises to 3 from Monday airstrikes

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Gaza's Health Ministry says a 29-year-old man has died after he was hurt in an Israeli airstrike on Beit Hanoun.

Khalil al-Kafarneh died in hospital after he was injured in an Israeli airstrike on al-Sikka Street, ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman told Ma'an that forces had not bombed that area.

Israel's army said it had bombed two sites in northern Gaza earlier Monday morning targeting militants. more

Qatar ruler begins landmark visit to Gaza

The emir of Qatar has arrived in the Gaza Strip - the first head of state to visit since the Islamist group Hamas came to power there in 2007.

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani is expected to launch a $254m (£158m) construction project to help rebuild the war-torn Palestinian territory.

Qatar has become one of Hamas's main benefactors since it fell out with Syria and has had a rift with Iran.

The Palestinian Authority expressed reservations about the emir's visit.

Sheikh Hamad flew to Egypt and crossed into Gaza by car amid tight security.

The Hamas interior ministry said it had a "well-prepared plan" to protect the emir, deploying thousands of security personnel and blocking roads to Gaza City's stadium, where he is expected to address a crowd. more

Resistance bomb wounds Israeli officer on Gaza border

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- An Israeli officer was severely wounded on Tuesday when a bomb went off beside an army patrol along the border with the Gaza Strip, a military spokeswoman said.

The attack came on the same day that the Emir of Qatar was due to arrive in Gaza in the first visit by a head of state to the blockaded enclave since it was taken over in 2007 by the Islamist Hamas movement.

No militant group claimed responsibility for the bomb attack. An Israeli military statement said the soldiers were on a "routine patrol adjacent to the security fence in the central Gaza Strip" when the explosion occurred.

The officer was evacuated by helicopter to hospital, the statement added.

On Monday, Israel killed two Palestinian militants, one of them a Hamas gunman, in airstrikes on the coastal enclave. more

Monday, 22 October 2012

Israeli forces arrest 4 Gaza fishermen

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces arrested four Gaza fishermen on Monday and took them to an unknown destination, Gaza's ministry of agriculture said.

Ramez Izzat Baker, Khamis Subhi Baker, Bayan Subhi Baker, and Omar Muhammad Baker were detained while fishing off the coast near Gaza City.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said navy forces detained the fishermen for questioning because they deviated from the designated fishing area. Warning shots were also fired in the air, she added.

Under Israel's maritime blockade, Palestinians are forbidden from fishing more than three nautical miles from the coast. During the Oslo accords negotiators had agreed on 20 nautical miles of fishing access along Gaza's coastline. more

Islamic University in Gaza awards honorary doctorate to Chomsky

The Islamic University in Gaza yesterday awarded an honorary doctorate to the American linguist and thinker Noam Chomsky. The world renowned figure has been attending a linguistic conference in the Gaza. Prof Chomsky told students that the Israeli war of 2008-09 on the territory had decisively changed the balance of world public opinion in favour of the Palestinian people.

More people have become better informed of what is happening on the ground in Palestine, he said. This shift in public opinion had enhanced the work of the international solidarity movement. Hundreds of students turned out at the Islamic

University to welcome their distinguished guest and his visiting delegation. Prof Chomsky also met with a number of civil society leaders and government officials, including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who thanked him for his outstanding support. On its part, the University awarded Prof Chomsky an honorary doctorate for his efforts for truth and freedom in Palestine. more

Egypt delays Gaza fuel delivery until Tuesday

EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities have delayed fuel deliveries to the Gaza Strip until Tuesday, Egyptian sources said.

Fuel donated by Qatar was scheduled to be pumped in limited quantities to Gaza on Sunday, a Gaza official said this week.

Egyptian authorities told Ma'an's correspondent that the delivery will be postponed until Tuesday, in order to put in place stricter security procedures to transfer the fuel from Suez Port across the Sinai to the Al-Auja crossing.

Around 450,000 liters of diesel donated by Qatar, to be transported in eight tankers, will be delivered to Gaza, Egyptian sources added. more

Israeli airstrikes kill 2 in Beit Hanoun and injure 4 in Jabalia

Update: air strike on Beit Hanoun kills 2 GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Four Palestinians were injured on Monday morning as Israeli warplanes bombarded the Tal al-Zaatar neighborhood of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, officials said.

Spokesman of Gaza's ministry of health Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma’an that the four people were evacuated to Kamal Udwan Hospital in north Gaza.

Israel's army said it "targeted a rocket launching squad ... in response to mortar shell fire at a routine (army) patrol in the area."

It said a direct hit was confirmed.

Separately, dozens of Israeli military tanks entered within the borders of the northern Gaza Strip near Beit Hanoun, while warplanes hovered over the area, according to eyewitnesses. more

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Court extends remand of Israelis aboard Gaza ship

Yonatan Shapira, Reut Mor and Elazar Elhanan may have "violated lawful order" onboard Gaza-bound 'Estelle' ship, court says. PHOTO: COURTESY IDF An Ashkelon Magistrate Court on Sunday remanded three Israeli citizens to police custody for an additional two days who were passengers on a ship attempting to break the Gaza blockade on the grounds that they "violated a lawful order” and might try to obstruct the investigation.

Most of the flotilla participants were foreigners who are in the process of being deported, but the police representative contended that the state might bring charges against the three Israeli citizens, Yonatan Shapira, Reut Mor and Elazar Elhanan, for incitement to rebellion, knowingly assisting the enemy and violating a lawful order. more

Gaza opens first recycling plant as waste crisis worsens

For the past 14 years, 120 tons of garbage has been dumped every day beside Sofa, a commercial crossing between Gaza and Israel. The dump reached capacity in 2005 but remains in use because the authorities have not found an alternative. Today, the mound of waste at Sofa is about 30 meters high.

As a response to the strip’s worsening environmental problems, Gaza has finally opened its first recycling factory.

Located just a few kilometers from the border with Egypt, the recycling plant serves Rafah, a city with 180,000 people, many of them Palestinian refugees. Built on a two acre site, it hosts a line of machines that stretch for 32 meters. They process both solid material and compostable food waste.

Abdelhamid Edhair, head of the sanitation and environment department for the Rafah municipality, said that the new plant is vital for the city. more

Al-Khudari from committee against siege condemns Israeli piracy: 'Gaza entitled to a water route'

GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the Popular Committee Against the Siege, considered the Israeli attack on the aid ship Estelle and the arrest of international activists as an illegal piracy.

In an act violating international maritime law, the Israeli navy boarded on Saturday a humanitarian aid ship, the SV Estelle, 30 nautical miles off the coast of Gaza, when the Israeli navy intercepted and diverted the boat to the nearby Israeli port of Ashdod.

He stressed in a written statement on the foreign peace activists' rights to support the Palestinian people and to reach Gaza by sea and through all means to break the Israeli siege.

He called on the international community and humanitarian and human rights organizations to immediately intervene to free the activists, holding the occupation responsible for their lives. more

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Israel Intercepts Gaza-Bound Boat Carrying Pro-Palestinian Activists

JERUSALEM — Israeli troops on Saturday commandeered a Gaza-bound ship that tried to break through Israel's blockade of the Hamas-ruled seaside strip, the military said. European lawmakers and other pro-Palestinian activists aboard did not resist, and the Finnish-flagged vessel was diverted to an Israeli port.

The voyage by the ship, Estelle, marked the latest challenge to the air, land and sea embargo of Gaza that Israel imposed after the Islamic militant Hamas group seized the territory in 2007. Israeli officials say they need to enforce the blockade to prevent weapons smuggling.

Hamas called for more attempts to break the sea blockade.flotilla Six Israeli naval vessels stopped the Estelle when it was about 30 nautical miles from Gaza, and masked soldiers boarder the ship and ordered it to sail to Israel's Ashdod port, said Victoria Strand, a spokeswoman for the activists. more

Noam Chomsky visits Gaza - slams US foreign policy's unlimited support for Israel

Noam Chomsky, one of the world’s greatest linguists, philosophers, and political critics, is finally here in Gaza for the first time.

Chomsky was the guest speaker in a seminar attended by Gaza’s elite thinkers and intellectuals mainly discussing his political views and opinions on contemporary political issues.

Mr. Chomsky openly slammed on the United States foreign policy, specially its unlimited support to Israel. He said that the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is still more realistic than the one-state solution, despite the continuous expansion of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Mr. Chomsky bitterly criticized the US’s policies in the Middle East, which are based on supporting dictators all the way until it is no more possible to protect them, and then replacing them with new faces keeping the old regime in place. He was not excited about what is called “the Arab Spring”, and was definitely against any foreign intervention in Syria. Chomsky was invited to Gaza by the Islamic University of Gaza. more

Israeli navy deploys ships in Mediterranean to intercept Estelle

The Israeli Navy revealed that it deployed several Saar 4 war ships, equipped with cameras, radars and advanced surveillance equipment, in large areas of the Mediterranean, to monitor and stop ships that sail to what it called “Israeli territorial waters”, the Quds Net News Agency reported.

The ships complement surveillance missions conducted by the Shoval Israeli drones; the navy started flying those drones after the Lebanon-based Hezbollah party recently managed to send a surveillance drone that flew over southern Israel before, and managed to take pictures of sensitive areas, before the Israeli Air Force noticed it and shot it down.

Israel believes that Hezbollah will be sending more drones to spy on Israel, especially on the Demona nuclear facility in the Negev. It also believes that Hezbollah might even try to send drones that are armed and capable of firing missiles into certain facilities in the country.

Israel’s Navy concluded its training on the new Saar ship, while part of the drill was a simulation on how to intercept the Estelle solidarity ship that is approaching Gaza. Israel said it will not allow the ship to reach the Gaza shore, and will stop and board it. more

Palestinians on the West Bank cast votes in local election

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – Palestinians in the West Bank started to cast ballots Saturday morning at 7:00 a.m. About half a million voters will elect their representatives in 93 local councils across the West Bank.

Representatives of Palestinian political parties, local and international monitors as well as journalists will be presents at the polling stations. Some 4,600 representatives of local political parties have been accredited to watch the voting process as well as 1,890 local monitors, 550 journalists and 130 guests from different countries.

Voting started at 7:00 a.m. in 340 polling stations which will close at 7:00 p.m. except one polling station in Nablus for the Samaritans, who will have one more hour because of the Saturday holiday. more

Friday, 19 October 2012

Explosive device damages army vehicle on Gaza border

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- An explosive device damaged an Israeli military vehicle near the border in the central Gaza Strip on Friday morning, witnesses and the army said.

There was also damage to the border fence from the explosion, which took place east of Deir al-Balah, an Israeli military spokeswoman said.

Israeli forces stationed at the border opened fire towards al-Qarara village after the explosion.

Local coordinator Saber Zaanin told Ma'an that troops also shot at farmers and volunteers harvesting olives in al-Tartori in the same area.

No injuries have been reported from the explosion or gunfire.

Also on Friday, Israeli gunboats fired at Palestinian fisherman off the northern shore of Gaza, without causing injuries. more

Al-Qassam Brigades publishes video documenting Shalit abduction

Marking the first anniversary since the implementation of the Egyptian-mediated prisoner-swap deal that secured the release of 1037 of Palestinian detainees, the Al-Qassam Brigades published a video detailing the planning and actual implementation of the cross border attack against an Israeli military base in June 2006 leading to the abduction of corporal Gilad Shalit.

The video includes never before seen clips and interviews with the fighters who planned and carried out the attack, and details stages of preparation, planning, surveillance and reenactment of the actual attack.

The video is 44:42 minutes long and was entirely filmed, produced and published by the Media Unit of the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement.

The video shows how the fighters monitored and filmed the Israeli military base, and documented any movement that takes place in the camp and around it, shift changes, types of armored vehicles and tanks, and all related info.

The surveillance continued while other fighters were digging the tunnel that led to the camp based on surveillance info collected on a daily basis.

Seven fighters were then selected to conduct the actual attack against the Israeli military camp. more

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Video: Before Their Diaspora — Palestinian scholar’s monumental pictorial history now available online

In a landmark new project, the Institute for Palestine Studies (IPS) has made available online Palestinian scholar Walid Khalidi’s immensely important work Before Their Diaspora: A photographic history of the Palestinians, 1876-1948 in its entirety for free. Not only that, but the IPS has gone to the trouble of fashioning an innovative new interactive website around the work.

You can watch Khalidi talk about his book and the new website in this video.

The book is great collection of photographs and historical documents of the Palestinian people from the late Ottoman period, up to the eve of the Nakba, the 1948 wave of ethnic cleansing that Israel used to establish itself. Everything is laid out in chronological order, with well researched captions, and contextual writings on the historical context of each period. The book is both an essential reference work and a useful introduction to the history.

The new interactive website has features useful even for those who own a physical copy. Photographs can be searched for according to location, era, subject and so forth.

Before Their Diaspora is hugely influential, and I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen it referenced in footnotes in books about Palestine over the years.The book reclaims the Palestinians’ own history, and debunks the Zionist myth that the Palestinians were not a people before the rise of Zionism and the establishment of Israel. more

Official: Qatari fuel to enter Gaza from Sunday

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Fuel donated by Qatar will be pumped into the Gaza Strip via an Israeli crossing starting on Sunday, a Palestinian crossings official said Thursday.

Delivery of Qatari fuel began in July, but was cut off after a border attack on Egyptian officers on Aug. 5, a Ma'an correspondent said.

Fuel supplies will resume Sunday after delivery from Egypt and through the Israeli Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza, crossings director Nazmi Muhanna said. more

UN report: settlers destroy more than 7,500 West Bank olive trees

RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has revealed that the Jewish settlers continued their attacks against the Palestinian farmers in the occupied West Bank since the beginning of the year where they destroyed more than 7500 olive trees.

Nearly half (48%) of the agricultural land in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) is planted with 8 million olive trees, the vast majority are in the West Bank, the report revealed, adding that the olive oil industry makes up 14% of the agricultural income for the oPt and supports the livelihoods of approximately 80,000 families.

OCHA report, issued on Thursday, stated that the olive harvest is an economic, social and cultural important occasion for the Palestinian society, while the occupation authorities deliberately prevented those who own agricultural fields located in the areas between the barrier and the Green Line or near the Jewish settlements in the West Bank to obtain permits allowing them to have access to their fields.

In 2011, 42% of applications for permits to access olive groves behind the Barrier submitted prior to the harvest season were rejected, compared to 39% in 2010, according to the report. more

Report: Meshal set to visit Gaza for first time

Arab VIPs including the emir of Qatar are expected to visit the Gaza Strip next week to "completely and officially end the Israeli blockade of several years," Hamas' television station reported Wednesday.

There were also unconfirmed reports that Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, who has never visited Gaza, will accompany the emir.

The station said Qatar is launching a huge reconstruction project in the Strip, for which building materials will be transferred through the Rafah crossing, which hitherto has been open for people only.

Earlier this week, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh announced that Gaza residents would witness historic developments in the coming week.

It's not clear whether the reference was to a planned visit by the emir, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, which was meant to take place Tuesday but was put off indefinitely due to the escalation between Israel and Hamas.

Meanwhile, the Qatari ambassador in Gaza, Mohammed al-Amadi, announced at a press conference Tuesday that his country is investing $254 million in rehabilitating Gaza, the most significant investment in Gaza since Operation Cast Lead nearly four years ago.

The work is due to begin in three months. more

Israel calculated Palestinian calories for Gaza blockade

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- Israel calculated the number of calories Palestinians would need to avoid malnutrition under its blockade of the Gaza Strip, according to a study which the Supreme Court forced the government to release.

"It was part of a research paper that came up in two discussions and that we never made use of," Israeli Defense Ministry official Guy Inbar said on Wednesday after the document was published by Gisha, an Israeli human rights group that petitioned to receive it.

Release of the document, presented in January 2008, shed new light on the thinking that helped to shape the blockade that Israel tightened in 2007 after the Gaza Strip was seized by Hamas.

Palestinians described the restrictions, which drew international criticism and were eased in 2010, as collective punishment stifling their economy. more

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Palestinians await ship attempting to break Gaza siege

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Civil society leaders and NGO representatives gathered at Gaza City's port on Wednesday to show solidarity with the Estelle ship as it heads toward Gaza.

Amjad al-Shawwa, director of the Gaza network of NGOs, said the boat was facing incitement campaigns and that Israel was pressuring governments of the activists' countries to stop them reaching Gaza.

The group gathered near a memorial for the Mavi Marmara, a 2010 flotilla that was raided by Israeli forces who killed nine passengers. Several small boats sailed off the coast as a symbolic reception for the Estelle, which is due to arrive Saturday.

An Israeli military source told The Jerusalem Post that the navy was preparing to intercept the boat. A foreign ministry spokeswoman told the newspaper Israel would not allow the vessel to reach Gaza.

Al-Shawwa said solidarity activists on board the Estelle, a Swedish boat flying a Finnish flag, would ignore Israeli threats and sail to Gaza to break the blockade. more

Gaza-bound ship brings on food, activists off Greek coast, arrives Gaza on Saturday

ATHENS: A sailing ship with pro-Palestinian activists that is planning to break an Israeli blockade of Gaza took on food and passengers off the southern Greek coast, a spokesman said Wednesday.

The Estelle, which first set off from Sweden and left Naples in Italy on October 6, stopped in international waters off the island of Crete Tuesday afternoon, where it loaded up with food and passengers.

The ship then continued its journey with five lawmakers on board -- one from Sweden, one from Spain, two Greeks and a Norwegian, the spokesman for the Ship to Gaza Sweden movement, Mikael Loefgren, told AFP by telephone.

Thirty doves that are to be freed when the boat arrives in Gaza were also on board. "They will now sail to Gaza. It's hard to say when they get there given the type of unpredictable sea we have now in the eastern Mediterranean," said Loefgren.

He expected the Estelle to arrive in Gaza around Saturday. more

Anti-apartheid protestors ejected and assaulted at US basketball's Timberwolves game against Israeli team

Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign said in a press release that, Following in the footsteps of the sports boycott of South Africa that contributed to the demise of apartheid, approximately 20 protesters advocating for human rights for Palestinians made their presence known at the Tuesday night Minnesota Timberwolves game against Maccabi-Haifa. Palestinian flags and banners calling for a boycott of Israeli apartheid were displayed and anti-apartheid chants were heard throughout the Target Center minutes into the game clearly catching the attention of the players.

As the banners were unfurled, Target Center security accompanied by Minneapolis Police began ejecting most of the protesters who were waving Palestinian flags and the anti-apartheid banners which were equivalent in size as those waved by pro-Israel counter-protesters, who were not ejected. An experienced legal observer and civil rights attorney who attempted to film the actions of a Target security guard was assaulted by a Target security supervisor, placed under arrest by an accompanying police officer and ejected with the promise of prosecution. Several persons were witness to the incident, which was also filmed by a protester. more

Israel bombards al-Qassam Brigades center in northern Gaza, navy fires on fishing boats

The Israeli Air Force bombarded, on Wednesday at dawn, a training center that belongs to the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement in northern Gaza. The Qassam Brigades said that the army attempted to assassinate some of its fighters.

The Maan News Agency reported that Israeli F16 war jets fired five missiles into the Qassam training center, located behind Sheikh Zayed residential towers, in Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. The shelling led to massive destruction but no casualties.

The Al-Qassam Brigades said that the army attempted to assassinate some of its senior fighters, but they managed to escape the shelling unharmed.

The Brigades added that its fighters managed to fire three missiles into the Eshkol Regional Council, in the Negev.

In related news, Israeli Navi gunboats fired dozens of rounds of live ammunition at Palestinian fishing boats in the Gaza Coast, and the Central Area of the coastal region; no damages or injuries were reported. more