Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Gaza panics as Sinai bloodshed severs tunnel trade

(AFP/File, Thomas Coex)
By Adel Zaanoun

RAFAH, Palestinian Territories — "If this closure continues it will be a disaster," says Abu Taha, who runs one of hundreds of cross-border smuggling tunnels that were closed after a deadly attack in the Sinai.

For the 40-year-old businessman, the tunnels burrowed deep under Gaza's southern border with Egypt have provided him and thousands of others with a steady and lucrative source of income over the years.

But it all come to a grinding halt on Sunday night after a group of more than 30 gunmen dressed as Bedouin stormed a nearby Egyptian border police post in northern Sinai, killing 16 of them before storming the border with Israel.

The brutal attack prompted shock in Cairo, which quickly closed the Rafah border and blocked access to the smuggling tunnels, abruptly cutting off a lifeline for Gaza which has been subjected to an Israeli blockade since 2006.

"Merchandise and foodstuffs come through the tunnels, and building activities will completely stop," Abu Taha told AFP.

"Closing the tunnels will strangle Gaza and make Israel happy." more

Gaza water increasingly polluted and expensive

Gaza, Palestinian Territory (The Media Line) – Gaza’s population is increasing, and the water supply is not keeping pace according to Oxfam, the British human rights organization. In a new report, the group asserts that Gazans are spending as much as one-third of their household income on drinking water, and are facing growing health risks.

“The infrastructure has been deteriorating rapidly because we are not able to repair and maintain it,” Karl Schembri, a spokesman for Oxfam in Gaza told The Media Line. Referring to action as far back as Operation Cast Lead at the end of 2008 and start of 2009, “Israeli military attacks have had a severe impact on the civilian infrastructure and particularly on the water network.”

Gaza’s main source of water for its dense population of 1.6 million people is the coastal aquifer. Ghada Snunu of EWASH, a non-governmental organization that deals with water quality, says that 95 percent of the water in the coastal aquifer has dangerous levels of nitrates and chloride, often ten times what the World Health Organization recommends.

“Drinking this water is causing diarrhea among children and ‘baby blue syndrome’ in which it is difficult to transfer blood into tissues, making the baby blue,” she told The Media Line. “Children in refugee camps have an increase in water-born diseases because of the poor quality of the water.” more

Video: the story of Australia's 'Brenner 19' and the victory for boycott Israel movement

The court case of 19 Australian BDS activists has recently been aired in a 10-minute documentary on The Real News website. The 'Max Brenner 19' as they are known were arrested for taking part in a demonstration outside the Israeli-owned store Max Brenner, which boasts of its long relationship with the Golani and Givati Brigades of the Israeli Occupation Forces and how the stores supports the soldier and 'sweetens their special moment' in the brigades. more

Gaza factions convene to discuss Sinai 'terrorist' attack

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Palestinians factions in the Gaza Strip convened on Monday to discuss developments concerning the recent attack on police officers in Egypt's Sinai, Ma'an's correspondent said.

The meeting included both secular and Islamic factions, who denounced what they called a "terrorist" attack on Egypt's security forces.

A senior leader of the Palestinian People's Party told Ma'an that coordination between Gaza and Egypt will be necessary in order to find out who the perpetrators were.

"Gaza can never be a retreat for those who plan to mess with Egypt's security," Walid al-Awad said.

Earlier, both Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine issued statements condemning the Sinai attack. more