Friday, 21 September 2012

Egypt hesitant to ease Gaza siege - says fears Israel will permanently seal Kerem Shalom

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Egypt has not made a final decision on ending the blockade of Gaza or conceding to requests by the Hamas government to create a free-trade zone in Gaza, officials say.

A source in Hamas said Friday that Egypt is concerned that if it opens the Rafah crossing, Israel will have a pretext for permanently sealing the Kerem Shalom terminal with Gaza.

Egypt is also trying to resolve a number of crises in the Sinai, and this is distracting attention from the Gaza situation, the source explained.

The Hamas government's economy minister Hisham Qandil told Ma'an that Gaza-based premier Ismail Haniyeh delivered proposals on a Rafah trade zone during his visit to Cairo.

Egyptian officials agreed to study the proposals for bringing gas and petroleum into the territory as well as the long-discussed possibility of opening a free trade zone at Rafah.

Ismail al-Hayya, a Hamas leader, told Ma'an that the Islamic movement was committed to resolving Gaza's access issues.

”The establishment of a free trade area will help us to get rid of the dependency on the occupation and its taxes,” he said, referring to Israeli customs duties. more

Video: 'We’re counting on you' - students in Gaza call on world peers to intensify BDS

We, Palestinian students and youth, have created this boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) video call for students around the world, believing in the power of youth to make a change. We specifically want to support and encourage students to attend the UK Student Palestine Conference 2012 on 23 September at the University of Manchester.

We want people around the world to move beyond just feeling solidarity with Palestine and to actually stand up for justice.

Don’t sit behind your TV screen and watch us getting killed, injured and detained in numbers, and feel sorry. Nothing will get better and Israel will, with impunity, escalate its inhumane practices and violations of Palestinians; human rights. When you watch our people dying while waiting for permits to cross the Israeli apartheid check points and react with feeling depressed, the situation will not change. Silence contributes to making our situation worse.

Silence tortures our hunger strikers inside Israeli jails and makes them go through a process of slow death. Silence contributes to the rising number of ill Palestinian prisoners who die at the Israeli apartheid checkpoints. Silence motivates Israel to terrorize us, massacre our people with their “world’s most moral army.” It allows Israel to attack our fishermen and shoot at our farmers while they work for a living in their lands located close to the “buffer-zone” —the ever-expanding area that separates Gaza from Israel. Farmers are banned from working on 35% of our total agricultural land, severely weakening the potential for economic and agricultural development in the Gaza Strip. more

Gaza ministry: Tunnel closures hurt imports

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Basic goods are becoming more scarce in the Gaza Strip after Egypt moved to close dozens of tunnels under their border, Gaza's ministry of national economy said Friday.

Monthly imports of basic foodstuffs, including flour, rice, sugar, and wheat, have fallen 31 percent since the tunnel closures, the ministry said in a statement.

Construction materials brought through the tunnels have declined by 45 percent, it added.

By contrast, import of goods through Israel's Kerem Shalom crossing had increased by 22 percent, the ministry said, while noting that the terminal's 300 trucks-per-day entry limit was not sufficient for Gaza's needs. more

Two die in shelling as Israel claims it will allow some exports from Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- An Israeli official said Thursday that military authorities have approved the entry of 100 million shekels from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip to assist with a liquidity crisis, amid a host of measures to facilitate the entry and exit of goods at Gaza crossings.

The Gaza Strip is under an Israeli land and sea blockade, and its sole border crossing not controlled by Israel, Egypt's Rafah terminal, is not equipped for the passage of goods.

Khatib Mansour, director of the Israeli army's Coordination and Liaison Administration for Gaza, said regular meetings with Palestinian representatives in Gaza had enabled Israel to approve several new measures.

He said the improvements will continue as long as border violence with Gaza militants remains under control. Israeli military forces shelled Gaza on Friday, killing two men it accused of involvement in attacks against Israel.

But Mansour said Israeli authorities had carefully studied the situation in Gaza, and on Sunday would allow the currency injection into the coastal strip. more