Thursday, 26 April 2012

Wheat farmers under fire in Gaza: 'We must continue to work our land'

Today we went farming with the family of Ahmed Saadat. We arrived in Khuzaa at about 7 AM and met Ahmed. He told us that the Israeli’s had already shot at his family when they went to their land to begin work. We went to the land, which lies 300 meters from the border and directly on the buffer zone. You immediately know the buffer zone, nothing is planted in it, no trees are left, and everything has been destroyed, only weeds grow there.

Ahmed and his family began to work, ten people on their knees harvesting wheat by hand. To harvest the wheat they pull it up by the roots and tie it into sheaves to be taken to a threshing machine. The land is quite large, in the past perhaps they would have hired a combine to harvest the wheat so that they would not have to do it by hand, but now it is dangerous to bring equipment near the buffer zone. Now, they work by hand.

At about 7:45 AM an Israeli Occupation Forces Humvee pulled up onto a hill north of us. Soon shots began to ring out, these were not directed at us, they were directed at farmers harvesting wheat to our northwest. At about 8 AM soldiers in a tower next to the Humvee launched either tear gas or a smoke grenade, it landed extremely close to the tower, which was about 400 meters from us. This was soon followed by shooting at us. more

Secret Gaza ballot starts Hamas leadership vote

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip—Hamas has secretly chosen new leaders for Gaza, starting movement-wide elections that could determine if the Islamic militants will moderate or maintain an alliance with longtime patron Iran instead, Hamas officials said Thursday.

The secretive Hamas did not announce the Gaza election results, but several members said that among those chosen were previously sidelined pragmatists, younger activists and a pair of prisoners recently released by Israel.

"Hamas (in Gaza) will be more realistic, more moderate after the election," said a senior Hamas member, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid censure from his colleagues. Others said the new faces don't necessarily mean a change in direction.

Hamas traditionally keeps much of its leadership structure secret to avoid exposing it to attacks by Israel, which killed several top Hamas officials in the past.

The Gaza elections are the first of a series of secret ballots the movement is holding in coming weeks to choose a supreme leader.

That position has been held since the 1990s by Khaled Mashaal, who in recent months has tried to steer Hamas away from Iran and closer to the movement's ideological roots in the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood, a Sunni Muslim movement, has risen to power in several parts of the region as a result of the Arab Spring uprisings of the past year. The Brotherhood has urged Hamas to moderate and turn away from Shiite Muslim Iran, which backed Hamas at the height of the movement's international isolation following its violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007. more

Indonesian-funded hospital in Gaza will be ready for patients in 2013

The construction of a hospital, fully funded by the Medical Emergency Rescue Committee (MER-C), in the Gaza Strip is nearing completion, chairman of the humanitarian outfit, Sarbini Abdul Murrad, said on Wednesday.

“We will start furnishing the new building in May before installing the German-made medical equipment. Hopefully, we will be able to complete the process by the end of this year and the hospital will begin operations in 2013,” he said.

Sarbini added that the hospital was aimed at treating and rehabilitating trauma patients, as well as providing first aid and care for those living in the Gaza strip.

Gaza regularly sees outbreaks of violence, the result of a stand-off between the Israeli government and Hamas, the local Palestinian authority in the territory.

The hospital, which began construction last year on 9,000 square-meters of land donated by the Palestinian Authority, is located only three kilometers from the Israeli border. more

58 Days on hunger-strike, ailing detainee Tha’er Halahla determined to continue

Palestinian political prisoner, Tha’er Halahla, entered his 58th days of hunger-strike at the Ramla Prison Hospital, and is still determined to continue his strike while prison doctors warned that his body is losing its immunity system and his organs might be failing.

Lawyer of the Mandela Institute, Anwar Abu Lafy, visited Halahla and stated that a recent CT-Scan for his liver and kidneys revealed that his body is unable to function and that his life is in grave danger.

Abu Lafy stated that Halahla, 34, is unable to walk or stand, suffering from sharp chest pain, stomach ache, and can barely see with his right eye.

Halahla also lost 24 kilograms and is suffering from law blood pressure, very law sugar levels, escalating heart beats, hair loss, bleeding from his mouth and gums, and weakening muscles.

Despite his deteriorating health condition, Halahla told his lawyer that he is determined to continue his strike until Israeli voids the administrative detention order against him, and called on human rights groups to pay attention to the miserable conditions sick detainees are subject to at the Ramla Prison Hospital. more

Repression increases against Palestinian strikers - belongings confiscated, isolation cells used

OCCUPIED PALESTINE, (PIC)-- The Palestinian prisoners confirmed, on Tuesday, that they will continue their hunger strike despite the Israeli escalating series of punitive measures against the strikers.

The Palestinian strikers had told the lawyer Fouad Sultani that they are determined to continue the strike until they achieve their demands aimed at ending administrative detention, isolation, collective punishment, night raids and other basic rights.

The strikers added that the prison administration has increased its repressive measures in order to undermine their will and stop the strike. Thus, It confiscated the captives' personal belongings including all electric appliances; radio, television, and stopped their families' visits and anything that may connect them with the outside world.

In addition, the prison service units had raided several times the prisoners' rooms in Nafha prison at night and took them to isolation cells, holding a "disciplinary" trial and imposed INS 250 fines against each of them in addition to solitary confinement for a number of days and denying them stroll times. more