Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Four Palestinian prisoners continue their open-ended hunger strike

RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Four Palestinian prisoners continue their open hunger strike in Israeli occupation prisons for various reasons, including two liberated prisoners in Al-Ahrar deal.

The Palestinian prisoner’s association stated in a press release on Wednesday that the prisoner Samir Barq from the town of Jayyous southern Qalqilya has gone on his hunger strike since 22 May protesting against his administrative detention for more than two years.

The prisoner Hassan Safadi from the city of Nablus has gone on hunger strike since 21 June protesting against the renewal of his administrative detention for six more months in total violation to the agreement that issued his release on the 29 of the same month.

The two prisoners Ayman Sharawna, from Al-Khalil, and Samir al-Issawi, from the city of Jerusalem, have gone on an open hunger strike protesting against their re-arrest after being released in Wafa Al-Ahrar exchange deal. more

Gaza closure sends prices soaring and hundreds of medical patients stranded

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Egypt's tight closure on neighboring Gaza after a weekend attack by Islamic militants has sent Gaza prices for construction materials soaring and left hundreds of medical patients stranded, officials said Wednesday.

The attack that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers at a Sinai Peninsula border post near Gaza also strained relations between Egypt's new government and Gaza's Hamas rulers. Hamas and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi come from the region-wide Muslim Brotherhood, but Sunday's attack, the worst ever by militants against Egyptian troops, drove a wedge between them.

In response to the attack, Egypt shut down the Rafah passenger crossing between Egypt and Gaza, as well as hundreds of smuggling tunnels under the border. Smuggling under the 15-kilometer (9-mile) border has circumvented official crossings and bypassed restrictions for many years.

Israel, which controls all other gates into Gaza, restricts the influx of goods into the territory, so Gazans smuggle in construction materials, cars and fuel. Israel charges that Hamas also receives weapons and cash through the illegal tunnels. Hamas officials are known to collect fees from tunnel operators.

Yasser Othman, the Egyptian ambassador to the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, said Wednesday that the closure would remain in place until security is restored.

He rejected allegations by a senior Hamas official that the closure amounted to collective punishment, saying it was temporary and did not contradict pledges by the Morsi government to help Gaza in the long run. more

Tunnel demolitions reported on Gaza-Egypt border

GAZA, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Egyptian and Palestinian Hamas authorities started to destroy smuggling tunnels between the Gaza Strip and North Sinai on Wednesday, three days after the killing of 16 Egyptian soldiers in an attack by unknown Islamists, Palestinian sources said.

The sources said the process is simultaneous on both sides of the border, with particular focus on those used for the movement of people.

Israel and the Egyptian military suggested that some of the attackers might have infiltrated from the Gaza Strip, which is strongly denied by the Islamic Hamas movement.

The smuggling tunnels are used mainly to move goods, but people can also enter North Sinai via these tunnels. Hamas licensed the digging of tunnels to get around Israeli sanctions that aim at isolating the Islamic movement.

Hamas has said the closure of the tunnels does not mean a full destruction until an alternative way to import goods is found. more

Egypt expected to reopen the Rafah land crossing to Palestinian travellers within days

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – Egyptian authorities are expected to reopen the Rafah land crossing to Palestinian travelers in the coming days, says Mahir Abu Sabha, director of crossings in the ministry of interior in Gaza.

Abu Sabha told Ma’an that he expected the Rafah crossing to be opened Thursday-Saturday. He asserted that talks with the Egyptian side over reopening the crossing were ongoing.

Abu Sabha reiterated that the Gaza Strip had nothing to do with the "terrorist" attack on Egyptian soldiers Sunday which left 16 dead.

Closure of the Rafah land port, he said, negatively affects patients, pilgrims, and other citizens. Because of the closure, several pilgrims who were scheduled to leave to Saudi Arabia could not leave and now they have to go through the scheduling process again. more