Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Hamas Gaza leader to delegate his power to deputy

Hamas’s Gaza prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, delegated his powers to his deputy Ziyad El-Zaza on Tuesday, according to an AFP report that said the announcement was made in a speech Haniyeh gave at a ceremony honouring former ministers in the Gaza Strip.

Ahram Online reporter in Gaza Saleh El-Naami said that Haniyeh would still be the official prime minister, but that he had chosen to give up most of his authority to focus on the Hamas movement's internal reform portfolio.

Haniyeh was appointed prime minister in 2006. According to Palestinian authority law, only the president has the power to appoint a new prime minister.

Earlier reports claimed that Haniyeh is seeking to run in the Hamas political office, to replace Khaled Meshal as the chairman of the executive committee. However, sources in Gaza have told Ahram Online that there is strong internal opposition to Haniyeh’s plan to replace Meshal.

During his speech, Haniyeh said: "This is the first experience for an Islamist movement to spread with this level of success." more

Qatar: Gaza aid via Egypt, not Israel

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Material for reconstruction of the Gaza Strip is to be shipped via Egypt and not Israel, the Qatari ambassador in the coastal enclave said Tuesday.

Muhammad al-Imadi told a news conference that the goods, promised weeks earlier, would be shipped via the Gaza-Egypt Rafah crossing rather than through Israel.

The Egyptians will receive a list from a Gaza reconstruction committee with details about specifications and quantities of the needed material, he said. The list will also include a timetable for shipments.

Construction will start with a medical center for rehabilitation and surgery involving artificial limbs, construction of the Sheikh Hamad city, and rehabilitation of three streets, he added. more

Report: Anti-aircraft missiles fired from Gaza at Israeli warplane

TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- Palestinian militants fired anti-aircraft missiles at an Israeli warplane flying over the Gaza Strip last week, Israeli media reported Tuesday.

The missiles missed their target but the incident marked the first time anti-aircraft weaponry has been used in Gaza, the Hebrew-language daily Yedioth Ahronoth said.

Israeli warplanes have killed eight Palestinians in a series of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip in the last 10 days.

On Oct. 7, Israel bombed a busy neighborhood in Rafah in southern Gaza, killing one militant who was riding a motorbike and wounding 10 others, including five children. more

Israeli forces break up protest on West Bank road against settler attacks, several injured

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli troops on Tuesday used force to break up a protest against settler attacks on a main road in the West Bank.

Dozens of Palestinians and international activists blocked Route 443 near Beit Ur, west of Ramallah.

Israeli troops used force to break up the protest, firing sound grenades and pepper spray. An Israeli military spokeswoman told Ma'an that forces used "riot dispersal means" to move protesters who were blocking traffic.

A Ma'an reporter said several protesters were injured.

"The direct action today was organized in light of the increasing settler terrorism against Palestinians and their properties during the current olive harvest season, including the torching, uprooting or setting fire to olive trees, the theft of harvested olives, and the attacking of Palestinian families while picking olives," the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee said in a statement.

"We organized this action today to stress that as long as Palestinians suffer under the daily practices of the occupation and settler terror, Israeli daily life can’t continue on as normal," said activist Mohammad Khatib. more

Report: Emir of Qatar set to visit Gaza in boost for Hamas

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- The Emir of Qatar is set to visit the Gaza Strip in the coming few days, the first visit by an Arab leader since Hamas took power in the coastal enclave, a Gaza TV channel said on Sunday.

Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and his wife Sheikha Mozah are slated to come to Gaza following the arrival of Qatari delegates on Sunday, al-Kitab satellite channel said.

Gaza's ministry of interior said in a statement it had deployed security officials throughout the Gaza Strip to prepare for the Qatari delegation, headed by Amb. Muhammad al-Amadi. more

Statement: Disinvited to be a passenger on the Swedish Boat to Gaza "Estelle"

Two days ago, on October 13, three hours before I was to board a flight to Europe to meet up with the Swedish boat to Gaza, the "Estelle," the next boat to challenge the Israeli blockade, I was called by a board member of the Estelle who said that because of the furor around Greta Berlin's posting and because I am a member of the new, two-week-d board of the Free Gaza Movement, I was no longer invited to be a passenger on the "Estelle."

The board representative acknowledged that the reason for their invitation to me to be on the "Estelle" was that I am a retired US Army Colonel and former US diplomat who resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war, that I am a vocal critic of Israeli and United States policies on Palestinians. Also, that I have been to Gaza four times in the past three years, assisted seven groups to go to Gaza in 2009, helped organize the December, 2009 Gaza Freedom March, was a passenger on the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla; that I helped organize the 2011 US Boat to Gaza and am an organizer for one of the latest initiatives -- Gaza's Ark.

But, because I am a member of the new board of the Free Gaza movement, and despite the fact I, and Greta and all members of the new board have made public statements posted on the Free Gaza Movement's website that neither Greta, nor members of the current or previous board are anti-Semitic, bigoted or racist, the fact that I am on the new Free Gaza board was the reason the board of the "Estelle" was withdrawing the invitation for me to sail on the Estelle due to allegations of anti-Semitism of the Swedish Boat to Gaza by pro-Israeli groups in Sweden.

I am saddened by the decision of the board to withdraw its invitation and I believe it is wrong. All of our projects that have challenged Israeli policies toward Palestinians have been called anti-Semitic by pro-Israeli groups. This is not a new tactic used to scare pro-Palestinian groups.

Phil Weiss and Adam Horowitz in an article posted on Mondoweiss said -- "there is no room for racism in a movement working for equality, justice and freedom for all in Israel/Palestine." They are right, but at the same time, there is no room for throwing long-time international activists for Palestine "off the boat," so to speak.

Greta Berlin is not an anti-Semite, a bigot or a racist, and neither am I. more

New iPhones arrive in Gaza before Israel thanks to tunnels

(Reuters) - Apple's new iPhone 5 is selling well in the Gaza Strip despite inflated prices, reaching the Palestinian enclave via smuggling tunnels even before high-tech hub Israel next door.

The cutting edge smart phone is being snapped up for almost double what it costs in the United States, its price jacked up by middlemen on its circuitous delivery route from Dubai via tunnels linking the blockaded territory with Egypt.

The iPhone 5 will not be available until December from mobile operators in tech-mad Israel, which along with Egypt maintains a partial blockade of Gaza to prevent the entry of anything that could be used for military purposes.

But the phones have been available for a couple of weeks in Gaza and they were on display on Monday in three independent mobile stores in a one-block radius in downtown Gaza City.

Prices ranged from 4,500 Israeli shekels ($1,170) for the 16 gigabyte model to 5,700 ($1,480) for 64 gb.

"I ordered 30 and I've sold 20 so far," said one dealer. "We can order as many as we want. But most people are waiting for the price to go down. They're pretty expensive."

The iPhone 5, launched last month, sells for $650 and $850 in the 16 and 64 gigabyte versions in the United States. more

Palestinian children testify about cruel treatment by Israeli soldiers in new short film

Newly released today, Defence for Children International-Palestine Section (DCI) has produced this short film about Israel’s ill-treatment of Palestinian children during their arrest, transfer and detention. Alone: Palestinian Children in the Israeli Military Detention System contains images of children who found the courage to talk about the appalling treatment.

For example, 14-year-old Ala tells how he was handcuffed and blindfolded during his arrest. “They [Israeli soldiers] put me in the jeep and transferred me to Etzion interrogation center. The interrogator told me to say goodbye to my friend Muhannad, because he was going to throw me from the third floor. No one was there to protect me. No one was with me. I was alone.”

Since 2000, around 7,500 Palestinian children from the occupied Palestinian territories have been detained, interrogated and imprisoned within the Israeli military law system. The film also presents basic information and the impact of their arrest and detention on families. more