Thursday, 7 June 2012

First shipments of Qatari fuel arrive in Gaza, power plant to restart soon

The first shipment of fuel from Qatar arrived in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, a border crossing official told AFP, after repeated delays in its delivery to the power-starved Palestinian territory.

"Five trucks carrying 155,000 litres (41,000 gallons) of industrial fuel arrived on the Palestinian side of the Karam Abu Salim crossing, and is on its way to the Gaza electricity plant," Raed Futuh told AFP.

The Israeli army confirmed the fuel delivery in a statement, adding that the fuel supplies will continue to be delivered for about three months.

The defence ministry "agreed to a request from the Egyptian government to transfer diesel fuel to the Gaza Strip, at a rate of around 30 million litres (about 10-15 containers daily)," the army statement added.

Gaza is in the grip of the worst power crisis in living memory, and its sole electricity plant has been forced to shut down repeatedly because of a lack of fuel, including this week, after the Qatari shipment was delayed once again.

The plant was expected to resume operations soon, with the rest of the 30-million-litre shipment scheduled for delivery in coming days, after at least four delays in the past three weeks. more

Israel bars disabled Palestinian athlete from Brtish Consulate Olympics celebration event

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Israel has barred a paralyzed Palestinian athlete who lives in Gaza from an Olympics celebration sponsored by the British government.

Khamis Zakout says the British Consulate in Jerusalem invited him and five fellow athletes on the Palestinian para-Olympics team to a pre-Olympics celebration in Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah. He says he was the only one banned from attending.

The Israeli military says Zakout was barred for security reasons. The Shin Bet internal security service had no immediate comment.

The 47-year-old Zakout says he has no security record and worked in Israel before his legs were paralyzed in a work accident there in 1992. more

"Every third child in Gaza stunted by hunger": interview with renowned doctor Mads Gilbert

For many people around the world, Israel’s three-week attack on the Gaza Strip in late 2008 and early 2009 provided a stark glimpse of the reality that Palestinians endure on a regular basis. It was a scene straight from a horror film, a cause for concern and outrage. For others, including Norwegian physician Mads Gilbert (pictured above), it was a call to action, beckoning solidarity workers back to Gaza’s pockmarked streets...

...Gilbert’s eyewitness accounts are shared far and wide in order to shed light on these tragic consequences and to encourage others to remain steadfast in their solidarity work for Palestinian rights.

Mads Gilbert spoke to The Electronic Intifada contributor Sami Kishawi.

SK: What is the healthcare situation in the Gaza Strip like now?

MG: As a result of the Israeli siege, there has been widespread development of anemia among children and women due to malnutrition as a result of siege and poverty. Stunting, where a child is more than two standard deviations shorter than what it should be, is sharply on the rise. In 2006, around 13.5 percent of children were stunted. In 2009, 31.4 percent under age two were stunted.

In other words, every third child is less developed than he or she should be. And stunting does not only affect growth. It also affects brain development and the ability to learn. This is a direct consequence of malnutrition. Remember, this is not caused by drought or natural disasters, but a deliberate, man-made lack of food and water, imposed, planned, and executed in the most detailed way by the Israeli government. They even calculate how many calories to let in to Gaza to avoid outright starvation but to “just” cause malnutrition since that goes under the radar of human rights abuses. more

Palestinian hunger strike footballer 'at risk of death'

Human rights groups have warned that a Palestinian footballer who has been on hunger strike for 80 days in an Israeli prison faces imminent danger of death.

Mahmoud al-Sarsak, who was once a star player in the Palestinian national team, was arrested as he left the Gaza Strip en route to a match in 2009.

Mr Sarsak has since been held without trial or charge.

He is one of a handful of Palestinian prisoners who have rejected a deal that ended a mass hunger strike on 14 May.

Under the deal, Israel agreed to end solitary confinement for 19 prisoners - held in isolation for up to 10 years - and lifted a ban on family visits for prisoners from Gaza.

Mr Sarsak has not eaten solid food since mid-March. Although he has taken fluids and some vitamin supplements, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel said on Wednesday that he could die at any time. more