Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Palestinians call for freer access to Gaza land and sea


GAZA CITY (IRIN) -- When Jaber Abu Rjaila heard about the recent ceasefire agreement in Gaza, he rushed back to his farmland - for the first time in more than 10 years.

"We have been farmers for generations. It's our life and I'm very glad that we are back here now freely working," he told IRIN. "I've been longing for this moment."

His farmland lies in the "access-denied" and buffer zone areas close to the Israeli-built barrier, but the recent ceasefire agreement holds out the promise of an easing of naval and land controls at the border.

Oxfam says the five-year blockade by Israel has "devastated Gaza's farming and fishing industries" leading to the closure of nearly 60 percent of Gaza's businesses, according to a new briefing paper published this month.

Israel imposed the blockade, it says, for security reasons.

Abu Rjaila has ambitions to plant tomatoes, parsley and zucchini for sale, and to help feed his 14-member family. But he knows he is not in the clear yet.

Israeli soldiers often use their loudspeakers to tell him to keep tens of meters from the border - and he says he still worries about "random shooting, sudden Israeli incursions, and unexploded shells". more

Qatar committee to begin Gaza reconstruction projects


Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh walks with the emir of Qatar at Rafah crossing on Oct. 23. (Reuters/Mohammed Abed, Pool) GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A Qatari committee will begin work on reconstruction projects in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, a committee official said.

Muhammad al-Amadi, head of Qatar's committee for reconstructing Gaza, said 24 projects would be launched on Wednesday.

Some 52 companies applied for the Gaza reconstruction bids and the Qatari committee is in the process of finalizing the contracts, al-Amadi told Ma'an.

A number of Hamas ministers will take part in the launch ceremony for the reconstruction projects, including Yousef al-Ghaziz, minister for public works and housing, minister of agriculture Ali al-Tarshawi and head of local government Muhammad al-Farra. more

Israeli forces raid NGO offices in Ramallah


RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces raided three civil society organizations in Ramallah early Tuesday, a Ma'an correspondent said.

Soldiers raided the offices of the Agricultural Work Committees, prisoners group Addameer, and the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees, located in Qaddura refugee camp.

Four laptops, one hard disk and a video camera were taken from Addameer's office, a statement from the group said. It is the first time the prisoners group has been raided since 2002, during the height of the second Palestinian intifada.

Israeli forces confiscated files and computer hardware from the women's committee before ransacking the office, witnesses said.

During the raid, clashes broke out with local youths and Israeli soldiers, who responded by firing tear gas.

Military forces also raided the offices of the Palestinian NGO Network, Ma'an's reporter said. more