Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Gaza Paralympians confident of success in London

GAZA CITY (Reuters) -- Wheelchair-bound Khamis Zaqout from Gaza, who lost the use of his legs while working on a building site in Israel two decades ago, is Palestine's best hope for a Paralympic medal in London this month.

Zaqout will compete in the shot put, discus and javelin at the Aug. 29-Sept. 9 Games. Partially-sighted long-jumper Mohammed Fannouna, a bronze winner in Athens, will be Palestine's second representative.

"We have crawled to the Paralympics. I have achieved an Asian record with the simple means that we have," said Zaqout.

The pair were good enough to vie for medals, said Ala Shataly, a Palestinian Paralympic Committee member, whereas the Palestinians usually had only a symbolic presence in able-bodied sports.

The team had nothing to celebrate at the London Olympics, which ended on Sunday and where a judoka, two swimmers and two runners competed.

"We have always been competitive at the Paralympics where we strive for achievements and we have reached a stage where we cannot go backwards," Shataly said.

"Zaqout is definitely going to win a medal," he said, adding that Fannouna, who won two golds and three bronze medals in the Arab Games in Doha last year, was also capable of a podium finish.

Palestine have won three Paralympic medals: Hussam Azzam took a bronze in Sydney and a silver in Athens in the shot put and Fannouna captured the long-jump bronze in Athens. more

Nabi Saleh: 'The resistance is for our kids’ future'

(Nabi Saleh resident Manal Tamimi – click to see more photos)

On the evening of July 26, social media lit up with messages from residents of the village Nabi Saleh.

“Four army jeeps and around 20 soldiers standing at the entrance” tweeted Manal Tamimi, and later, “for the third day (in a [row]) the army invading the village before eftar.”

Since late 2010, Nabi Saleh has been raided regularly by Israeli forces, and the religious month of Ramadan is no exception. The long awaited eftar meal brings relief to the fasting people. In the little village, only a 15 minute drive northwest of Ramallah, eftar often arrives with uninvited guests.

The reasons for these punitive raids must be found in late 2009 when people from Nabi Saleh and nearby villages organized to protest the occupation and the illegal settlements.

In July 2008, Inhabitants of the illegal Israeli settlement of Halamish, some 700 metres from Nabi Saleh, began using Al-qaws spring for recreational purposes. For Palestinians in the area, the spring was a vital factor in farming the dry land, as well as for cultural and recreational purposes. When settlers began renovating the site of the spring, damaging trees and property, the Palestinian owner filed several complaints to the police but was ignored.

In January 2010, Israeli authorities deemed the spring an archaeological site. Subsequently, Palestinians were prohibited access while the illegal settlers were given free access. They continued to illegally renovate the site against a civil administration order to halt construction.
Two attempts by Palestinian villages in the area to go to the Israeli High Court of Justice proved to be in vain. The only outcome was letting Palestinians return to the spring. This is hardly regarded as a victory when they are still unable to use the water that their village has relied on for so long. As well, Palestinians are still often prevented from accessing the spring, especially in groups, while settlers enjoy free access. more

Netanyahu ignores report on 'legalizing' West Bank settlements fearing international repercussions

Fearing international repercussions and criticism, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, decided to shelve a report prepared by former Supreme Court Judge, Edmond Levy, as the report calls for “legalizing” Israeli settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank as they, allegedly, are “part of the state of Israel’.

Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported that the report Netanyahu decided to bury, does not only call for legalizing settlement outposts, but also allows easier expansion of existing “legal” Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The report was submitted to Netanyahu on June 21; Netanyahu told several cabinet ministers that “the main issue in this report is the fact that it concluded that the Fourth Geneva convention is not applicable in the occupied West Bank” as the territory, according to Levy, “is not occupied, but is part of Israel”.

Netanyahu is not acknowledging the fact that Israel’s presence in the Palestinian territories is occupation by itself, but he fears that highlighting this report would lead to international controversy as the report contradicts different articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory, and International Law. more