Sunday, 25 March 2012

Gaza ambulances stop responding to calls as fuel reserves hit zero


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

More reaction at Mondoweiss

Israel court rejects Palestinian hunger striker's appeal


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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