Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Celebrations as 26 veteran Palestinian prisoners freed

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – Israel released 26 veteran Palestinian prisoners Tuesday at 2.15 a.m. completing a third stage of the release of 104 prisoners held in Israeli jails before the Oslo Accords of 1994.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to set the prisoners free before peace talks between Israel and the PLO were resumed in July.

Eighteen prisoners from the West Bank were released from Ofer detention center near the Ramallah-area town of Beitunia, while five prisoners from Jerusalem were set free at al-Zaytouna checkpoint near al-Ezariya in East Jerusalem.

Three inmates from the Gaza Strip were freed at Erez checkpoint on the borders between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip.

The West Bank prisoners headed immediately to the presidential compound in Ramallah where they were welcomed by President Mahmoud Abbas along with PA officials and thousands of citizens. more

Monday, 30 December 2013

Mosque, properties in Jerusalem area to be demolished

The West Jerusalem municipality has ordered Jerusalem area residents to demolish a newly-built mosque, Palestinian homes and parking garages, under the pretext of "unlicensed construction", according to witnesses.

The notices give the owners a period of 30 days to file petition against the order at Israeli courts, the Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) has reported.

Witnesses said that a municipality crew arrived in the area and took photographs of the houses and the mosque. more

Prisoner release conditions prove Israel not acting in 'goodwill'

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Conditions attached to the release of Palestinian prisoners prove that Israel is not serious about the peace process, the director of rights group Addameer said Monday as 26 Palestinians prepared to be freed from Israeli jails.

Israeli authorities are expected to release the veteran Palestinian prisoners after midnight in the third stage of a phased agreement to free 104 detainees in line with commitments to US-brokered peace talks, which began in July.

In October, Israel released a group of 26 Palestinians detained before the 1993 Oslo Accords, while a first group was freed on Aug. 13.

Sahar Francis, general director of rights group Addameer, said that while any release of prisoners is welcome, strict Israeli conditions on freed detainees undermine "hope" and "trust" in the peace process. more

Hamas prisoners boycott inadquate prison healthcare in protest at medical neglect

NABLUS, (PIC)-- The leadership of Hamas captives in Israeli jails said that prisoners decided to boycott prison clinics on Tuesday in protest at the deliberate policy of medical neglect exercised against them.

The captive movement told Ahrar center for prisoner studies and human rights on Monday that it decided to launch a number of protest steps against this policy starting with Tuesday.

It said that the step would be a preliminary one and that other escalatory steps might be adopted in the event this first message was not heeded.

Fuad Al-Khafsh, the director of Ahrar, said that the prisoners’ demands include releasing all cancer patients, providing an ambulance to transfer sick detainees instead of the prison’s vehicle, accelerating surgeries for those in need of them, allowing doctors from outside prison to check on the prisoners and holding periodical check-ups on prisoners. more

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Official: 2 Palestinians injured by Israeli artillery in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Two Palestinians were injured after Israeli artillery hit the central Gaza Strip on Sunday, a Palestinian official said.

Israeli forces hit an area east of al-Maghazi refugee camp with an artillery shelling, Gaza's Ministry of Health spokesman said.

Ashraf al-Qidra said two Palestinians suffered from burns as a result of the shelling, and were taken to Shuhada al-Aqsa hospital in moderate condition.

An Israeli army spokesman said he was not familiar with the incident.

The shelling comes days after an upheaval of violence in the Strip made international headlines. On Tuesday, Israeli airstrikes killed a 3-year-old Palestinian girl and injured several others after a Palestinian sniper killed an Israeli Civil Defense employee working at the border.

Between Wednesday and Sunday, two other Palestinians were injured in Israeli airstrikes. more

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Popular Committee against the Siege warns of humanitarian disaster in Gaza

GAZA, (PIC)-- Popular Committee against the Siege warned of a real humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip due to the closure of Karm Abu Salem crossing, southern Gaza, and the prevention of entry of fuel to run the power plant.

MP Jamal al-Khudari, at a news conference held in front of the power plant on Saturday afternoon, warned of an imminent disaster threatening the health sector in Gaza, and said: "Many patients are likely to die at any moment due to the closure of Karm Abu Salem crossing and the lack of fuel."

He added that the telecommunications sector will also face a big problem and that the Gaza Strip will be isolated from the outside world, as the telecommunications companies will stop working.

Head of the Popular Committee noted that 80% of Gaza factories stopped working while the rest are now working partially, adding that "the sector has become unable to export its products to Europe."

He considered the closure of the crossings with the Gaza Strip "an Israeli decision sentencing Gaza people to death." more

Rafah crossing closed for second day in a row

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah crossing on Saturday for the second day in a row, a Palestinian official said.

After being open from Tuesday through Thursday in an exceptional case, the crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip has now been closed two days in a row, the Gaza government's Director of Border Crossings Mahir Abu Sabha told Ma'an.

Sabha said his department was trying to convince Egyptian officials to open the Rafah crossing for as long as possible, in order to ease the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza.

There have been frequent closures of the Rafah terminal in recent months due to political unrest in Egypt and violence in the Sinai Peninsula. more

Friday, 27 December 2013

7 injured in clashes with Israeli forces on Gaza border

GAZA (Ma'an) -- Seven people suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation in clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces east of Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday.

Witnesses told Ma'an reported that Israeli forces fired tear gas heavily at Palestinian youths, and the fumes reached residences in the Izbet Abed Rabbo area east of the camp.

Medics said that two women were among the injured, and that they were taken to Kamal Adwan hospital.

Tensions have been high along the border with Israel in the Gaza Strip recently, as Israeli forces have severely escalated attacks against Palestinian civilians in the area, killing two and injuring 14. more

Video: Brother of Gaza man killed by Israeli sniper speaks out

Raddad Hamad was collecting scrap with his brother Odeh when Odeh was fatally shot by Israeli soldiers on December 20, 2013. The brothers, according to Raddad, were a kilometer away from Gaza's Israeli-sealed border, which is the scene of frequent Israeli attacks on Palestinian farmers whose land has been confiscated or destroyed by so-called Israeli "buffer zones."

Lack of fuel grounds Gaza's sole power plant

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Lack of fuel from Israel brought Gaza's lone power plant to a halt on Friday, days after it was fired back to life following a seven-week shutdown, the electricity company said.

"The plant stopped working on Friday morning due to a lack of fuel caused by Israel's closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing," said a company official.

Israel closed the crossing to the besieged Palestinian territory on Tuesday following a series of violent cross-border incidents earlier in the week.

The official said the closure of the power station means that electricity supplies to Gaza would be limited to six hours a day as opposed to the usual 12 hours a day. more

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Resistance fighters fire rockets, more airstrikes hit Gaza

The Israel Air Force struck two targets in Gaza in response to rocket fire on southern Israel on Thursday. The targets struck were a weapons manufacturing site in central Gaza and a weapons storage site in the North of the Strip.

The IDF said the targets were struck accurately, adding that all planes returned to base safely.

Palestinians fired a rocket at southern Israel on Thursday evening activating Code Red sirens in the Hof Asheklon Regional Council for the second time in 24 hours.

The rocket landed in a field and there were no injuries or damages more

Islamic Jihad: 1,400 Gaza ceasefire violations since 2012

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israel has violated a November ceasefire with Gaza over 1,400 times since December 2012, a spokesman for the military wing of Islamic Jihad said Wednesday.

Al-Quds Brigades spokesman Abu Ahmad told Ma’an that the killing of a child on Tuesday marked the biggest violation of a truce since Egypt brokered an agreement to end a week-long assault on Gaza last year.

Abu Ahmad said that the militant group did not want to end the ceasefire because "it benefits our people" under present regional circumstances "but we will not keep it forever."

He added that the ceasefire must be reciprocal and mutual but he accused Israel of wanting to end it. more

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Israel to release 26 Palestinian prisoners

It is expected that Israel will go ahead and release a group of Palestinian prisoners which have all been jailed since before 1994. The release should take place during next week.

The releases are meant as a confidence-building gesture as a part of the ongoing peace talks the Jerusalem Post reports.

Based on the agreement a total of 104 Palestinians will be released in four groups. 52 have already been taken from prison and 26 more will thus be released during next week. more

Gaza lays to rest 3-year-old Palestinian girl killed by Israeli strike

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hundreds of mourners in Gaza Wednesday attended the funeral of a 3-year-old girl who was killed by Israeli forces the day before.

Hala Abu Sbeikha, who was killed by an Israeli airstrike Tuesday, was buried in al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on Wednesday.

Hala's father carried her body to his house, where family members bid her a final farewell, then brought her to the refugee camp's cemetery amid hundreds of mourners.

Her mother told Ma'an: "I was busy teaching my children while Hala was playing in the courtyard, and suddenly a missile came and I couldn't rescue her."

"The area was quiet before the missile landed," she said. more

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Israeli leaflets warn Palestinian parents of their 'terrorist' kids

HEBRON (Ma'an) -- In an unprecedented move, Israeli forces on Sunday night put up posters in a refugee camp near Hebron featuring photos of locals Israeli forces claim are the fathers of those who commit "terrorist attacks."

The Arabic-language posters were put up at al-Arrub refugee camp and targeted the parents of "teenagers who attack Israeli vehicles."

Israeli intelligence posted pamphlets on walls at the entrance to the camp with photos and names of five residents of Al-Arrub refugee camp.

Ma'an obtained a copy of the posters, which warn the alleged fathers that their kids are involved in "terrorist attacks" against Israelis.

"We hereby notify you that your children are involved in terrorist attacks against citizens of the state of Israel. Practices by those young men endanger innocent citizens, and if they do not stop what they do, the IDF will have to take action to stop these practices."

It was unclear whether the poster refers to incidents of stone-throwing which target vehicles driven by Israeli settlers in the area, or if it referred to attacks on Israeli military vehicles. more

Video: Gaza streets still flooded a week after storm

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A video shot on the streets of Gaza City shows extensive flooding more than a week after the region was hit by a massive storm.

Taken on December 21, the video from the Institute for Middle East Understanding's Jehad Saftawi shows streets, cars, and homes still completely flooded, revealing the devastation the Gaza Strip suffered in the wake of winter storm Alexa in mid-December.

The footage is shot from a camera placed on a raft as the driver navigates the streets of the al-Nafaq neighborhood in Gaza City.

Due to widespread fuel and electricity shortages, disaster response crews have been unable to pump water out of the many flooded areas across the Gaza Strip.

Additionally, a number of sewage pumps at plants across the Gaza Strip had stopped working due to lack of fuel prior to the storm, causing sewage to spill into the streets.

As a result, the water currently flooding many parts of Gaza is a mixture of cold water and sewage. more

Israel strikes Gaza after border shootings, 3 dead in violence

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli air forces launched airstrikes across the Gaza Strip, killing a 3-year-old Palestinian child and injuring her mother and brother, after an Israeli and a Palestinian were shot dead at the border in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday afternoon.

Spokesman for the Gaza ministry of health Ashraf al-Qidra said that Hala Abu Sbeikha, 3, was killed and her mother and brother injured in an airstrike in al-Maghazi refugee camp.

Later, three Palestinians were injured in an Israeli artillery bombing east of Gaza City.

Israeli forces also launched three airstrikes on a military site belonging to al-Quds Brigades, the militant wing of the Islamic Jihad movement, between Khan Younis refugee camp and the city of Deir al-Balah and in the al-Atatra area of the northern Gaza Strip. It remains unclear if there were any casualties resulting from these strikes.

Earlier on Tuesday afternoon, a Palestinian man was shot and killed by Israeli fire west of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, Palestinian sources said. more

Monday, 23 December 2013

Prisoner Samir Issawi released from Israeli prison, on his way home

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli prison service released prominent Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi on Monday evening, freeing him to return to his East Jerusalem home.

Local sources told Ma'an that Issawi was set free from Shatta prison in northern Israel, and he is expected to arrive in his village of Issawiya by 8PM, where hundreds are waiting to welcome him.

His release comes after Israeli forces raided his family home twice in the last days.

On Sunday morning, Israeli forces handed notices to his brother and father demanding they meet with Israeli intelligence forces.

On Monday morning, Israeli forces raided his home again and threatened his family that they would not allow any celebration of his release to take place in the neighborhood. more

Factions meet in Gaza to discuss national Palestinian reconciliation

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A meeting between three factions was held in Gaza Saturday for a discussion about national Palestinian reconciliation, one of the factions' leaders told Ma'an.

Leaders from Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine were present, PFLP leader Kayed al-Ghoul said.

Hamas called the meeting to discuss ways in which reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority could be achieved, al-Ghoul said.

He added that the PFLP called for PA President Mahmoud Abbas to form a unity government and hold elections within the next six months.

The leaders also discussed a program for proportional representation of each faction in the legislative council, guilds, and other institutes. more

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Child killed after being rammed by settler’s vehicle in Jerusalem

Palestinian medical sources have reported that a Palestinian child has died of severe injuries sustained after being rammed by an Israeli settler’s car, near Al-Eesawiyya town, north of occupied East Jerusalem.

The sources said that the child, Amin Al-Faqeer, 13, lives in a Bedouin community in Anata town, and was riding a donkey when the incident took place.

Eyewitnesses said that the settler deliberately rammed the child, and fled the scene, Radio Bethlehem 2000 has reported.

The child was initially moved to Hadassah Hospital, in Jerusalem, and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, but died of his wounds later on. more

UN's OCHA: 3608 Palestinians injured by Israeli forces in 2013

According to a new report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), at least 3608 Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces this year.

Furthermore at least 145 Palestinians were injured in 91 reported attacks by Jewish settlers World Bulletin writes.

The depressing numbers include 300 attacks by settlers, which targeted Palestinian-owned property and land.

10510 Palestinian olive trees were damaged by settlers, a 25% increase in this type of attacks. more

Israeli gunboats fire on Palestinian fishermen north of Gaza

GAZA (Ma'an) -- Israeli gunboats fired two shells toward Palestinian fishing boats in the Sudaniya area in the northwestern Gaza Strip on Saturday evening, a witness said.

The eyewitness added that no injuries were reported from the shelling.

The Gaza Strip has been under a severe blockade imposed by the State of Israel since 2006.

Palestinian fishermen are only allowed to go 3 nautical miles from Gaza's shore, even though Israeli-Palestinian agreement previously agreed on 20 nautical miles. Israeli naval forces frequently harass Palestinian fishermen who near the 3-mile limit, as well as those inside the zone.

There are 4,000 fishermen in Gaza. According to a 2011 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross 90 percent are poor, an increase of 40 percent from 2008 and a direct result of Israeli limits on the fishing industry. more

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Thousands attend funeral of Gaza man killed by Israeli forces

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Thousands of Palestinians gathered in northern Gaza Saturday for the funeral of a man who was shot dead by Israeli forces the day before.

Various Palestinian political factions were present at the funeral of Odeh Jihad Hamad in Beit Hanoun, and some of the factions threatened to retaliate against Israel for killing the 29-year-old.

An Islamic Jihad leader urged all Palestinian factions to respond boldly to the "ongoing Israeli assaults" against Palestinians in Gaza.

Khalid al-Batsh said in a statement: "The Israeli occupation is responsible the escalation of killings in Gaza and we have to confront these violations."

Hamad's brother told Ma'an Saturday that Hamad was a kilometer away from the border when Israeli soldiers shot him in the head. He said Israeli forces did not allow ambulances to the scene for an hour and a half after the shooting.

The brother added that he himself was shot in the hand. more

Friday, 20 December 2013

Fatah official denounces escalating Israeli violations as 'peace' talks falter

Member of the Central Committee of the Fateh Movement, Fathi Abu Eshtayya, denounced the ongoing Israeli assaults, and stated that the army killed 31 Palestinians, kidnapped at least 500, and demolished 208 homes since direct peace talks between Tel Aviv and Ramallah were resumed in June this year.

His statements came during a press conference held Thursday December 19, 2013 in the Beit Jala city, west of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Several international diplomats, local and international reporters attended.

Eshtayya said that peace talks aim at ending the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine, and establishing a Palestinian state on all territories captured in 1967, with occupied East Jerusalem as its capital.

The official said that Israeli soldiers continued their invasions and assaults against the Palestinian communities in different parts of the occupied West Bank, Gaza Strip, and occupied East Jerusalem, leading to this large number of casualties, arrests and destruction of homes and property.

He added that Tel Aviv has a different idea for “peace” in the Middle East and is acting on sabotaging all attempts to accomplish this goal. more

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Official: Rafah crossing closed for seventh day in a row

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip has been closed seven days in row, a Palestinian official said.

The Gaza government's director of crossings Mahir Abu Sabha told Ma'an Thursday that the Egyptian authorities "promised" to open the crossing next week.

The Egyptians opened the crossing for five days earlier in December to allow people with special cases to travel to Egypt or return to the Gaza Strip.

The Rafah crossing has been the principal connection between Gaza's 1.7 million residents and the outside world since the imposition of an economic blockade by Israel beginning in 2007. more

Israeli soldiers raid Qalqiliya, kill Palestinian 'in cold blood'

QALQILIYA (Ma'an) -- In the second killing of its kind in less than 24 hours early Thursday, Israeli forces raided a northern West Bank neighborhood and shot a Palestinian man dead.

Witnesses said Israeli soldiers raided a neighborhood in the center of Qalqiliya and opened fire at 28-year-old Saleh Samir Abd al-Rahman Yasin, leaving him to bleed to death.

The soldiers shot Yasin "in cold blood," locals said.

A statement issued by the Israeli army said that during a "successful overnight ambush" that was "preplanned," a Palestinian who opened fire at Israeli soldiers was killed. more

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Palestinian killed as Israel raids Jenin camp

JENIN (Ma'an) -- One Palestinian was killed and at least six others were injured after Israeli forces raided Jenin refugee camp and entered the house of a Hamas leader and prisoner.

Locals said undercover Israeli forces arrived at Abu al-Hayja’s home in a car with Palestinian license plates before clashing with Palestinians who noticed them.

Palestinians threw an improvised explosive device at the Israeli forces who called for reinforcements.

Around 25 military vehicles arrived in the camp and fired live ammunition at Palestinians, injuring three people critically. Two people were shot in the stomach and one in the head.

One person died on the way to hospital, an Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma'an. She said military medics were treating the injured Palestinians after the incident.

Witnesses said Israeli forces were refusing to allow ambulances near other injured people. more

OCHA: Number of displaced tops 10,000 in Gaza, 3 dead including infant

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Approximately 10,000 people have been forced to flee their homes due to widespread flooding in the Gaza Strip, according to a report released Saturday evening by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The numbers of displaced dwarf earlier estimates, as they take into account both the thousands who have sought refuge in Gaza shelters as well as those who have sought refuge elsewhere.

Previous estimates released by the Gaza government had measured only those who had sought refuge in official shelters, who at their peak reached above 5,000 but were estimated at around 2,234 on Sunday.

In a comprehensive report on winter storm Alexa's effects on the Palestinian Territories, OCHA reported that as of Saturday at 9 p.m., 10,000 Gazans had been evacuated from their homes and had gone to either shelters or relatives' houses.

The areas most devastated by the storm are "North Gaza and Gaza City where over 1,500 houses suffered damage due to water entering houses, damaging furniture and electricity networks."

An infant died and 100 were injured in storm-related incidents throughout Gaza, the report said. Gaza government officials said on Sunday that two individuals had died, but did not mention any case involving an infant. more

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Palestinian boy injured by IOF in northern Gaza

A young Palestinian was injured on Sunday, by gunfire coming from the Israeli watchtowers located around 500 meters from where he works in Beit Lahia, Northern Gaza Strip the International Solidarity Movement reports.

He explains, “I went to work at 9 am. After about 30 minutes, the soldiers started shooting.” He adds, “some time ago, they were shooting just to scare us, not directly at our bodies. We work just to buy bread for our family, and they hit us.”

His father summoned an ambulance and at the hospital it was found that the 17 year old suffered from a fracture in the shinbone caused by the bullet.

The young man and his father believe that the fire came from control towers situated along the apartheid wall, inside of which there are automatic machine guns. more

Storm disaster in Gaza 'man-made' by siege conditions

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- As thousands in the Gaza Strip remain displaced and streets across the coastal enclave are still flooded Tuesday, it is increasingly clear that the devastation caused by storm Alexa was not a purely natural phenomenon.

Emergency response crews have been crippled by a lack of electricity to pump water and a lack of fuel to operate generators. But these conditions of scarcity are not a result of the storm. They were a fact of life even before the rain started falling, due to the Israeli-led siege and the severe limitations placed by Israel on imports and exports.

The severity of the storm’s effects and the seven years of siege the region has endured are connected by a near-total economic blockade that has led to a slow but steady collapse of infrastructure as well as a deeply weakened capacity for emergency response, a United Nations official charged Sunday.

"Long term de-development of Gaza is the context in which (the storm) occurred," Chris Gunness of the UN's Palestine refugee agency UNRWA said in an interview.

"It's fairly obvious that it's a combination of man-made problems and natural problems" that produced the latest disaster in Gaza, Gunness added.

He pointed out that despite the tremendous amount of work being done to relieve the crisis, it is an "overwhelmingly grave situation." more

Sources: Hamas agrees to join unity government ahead of elections

NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Hamas has officially notified Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas of the movement's decision to join a national unity government which will prepare for upcoming presidential and parliamentarian elections, sources told Ma’an on Tuesday.

The sources, allegedly privy to the details, said that Abbas had previously received two phone calls from Hamas' chief Khalid Mashaal and from prime minister of the Hamas-run government in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh.

The two allegedly confirmed to Abbas that Hamas had agreed to join a national unity government with Fatah.

The sources pointed out that Hamas requested that the national unity government serve for six months instead of three as agreed in the 2012 Doha Agreement, one of numerous attempts at reconciliation between the rival Palestinian factions.

Abbas might ask current Palestinian Authority prime minister Rami Hamdallah to lead the unity government, sources said. more

Monday, 16 December 2013

In major victory for BDS, US academic group votes to boycott Israel

The American Studies Association has endorsed a boycott of Israeli academic institutions in a vote that took place over the past few days, the organization said on Monday.

Out of the 1,252 members who participated in the vote, 66 percent voted in support of the boycott. The voting was conducted electronically.

The decision to boycott Israeli academic institutions was made unanimously by the ASA's 20-member national council on December 5. The organization's leadership sought the approval of the body’s 5,000 members, which was granted on Monday.

“We believe that the ASA’s endorsement of a boycott is warranted given U.S. military and other support for Israel; Israel’s violation of international law and UN resolutions; the documented impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian scholars and students; the extent to which Israeli institutions of higher education are a party to state policies that violate human rights; and the support of such a resolution by many members of the ASA,” the council's announcement said.

ASA describes itself “devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history.” Voices at the open meeting overwhelmingly favored the boycott, but those opposed said they were not representative of the organization’s broader membership.

According to the ASA website, the boycott will not inhibit collaboration with individual Israeli academics.

“The ASA understands boycott as limited to a refusal on the part of the ASA in its official capacities to enter into formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions, or with scholars who are expressly serving as representatives or ambassadors of those institutions (such as deans, rectors, presidents and others), or on behalf of the Israeli government, until Israel ceases to violate human rights and international law,” the ASA website said. more

Gaza power plant stirs to life as violent storm passes

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Gaza's lone power station rumbled to life on Sunday for the first time in more than seven weeks after receiving a long-awaited delivery of diesel, the electricity company said.

"The power station started reworking gradually after stopping for 50 days," spokesman Jamal Dirsawi told AFP.

The plant, which supplies some 30 percent of the coastal enclave's electricity needs, fell silent on Nov. 1 as the stocks of diesel to power it ran out.

"The first generator has started working, the second one will follow, and by this evening, the company should be able to generate around 60 megawatts of electricity," he said. more

Qatari diesel to run power plant enters Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities started to pump industrial diesel donated by Qatar into the Gaza Strip on Sunday morning, a Gaza official told Ma'an.

The move is part of a temporary agreement to ease the blockade following days of record flooding that has devastated large swathes of the besieged coastal enclave.

Raed Fattouh, president of a committee that coordinates the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip, told Ma'an that 450,000 liters of diesel donated by Qatar was being shipped to the coastal enclave via Kerem Shalom crossing on Sunday.

Fattouh added that as a result of an agreement, the Kerem Shalom crossing will temporarily operate for 12 hours a day in order to allow increased quantities of gasoline, domestic-use diesel, and gas to enter the Gaza Strip.

He added that the extended hours would begin on Sunday and continue for the next week.

Eight truckloads of strawberries, flowers and spices are expected to leave the Gaza Strip to European countries through the same crossing on Sunday, added Fattouh, as Gazans take advantage of the temporary ease on the Israeli blockade to ship exports.

In addition, 100 truckloads of goods for commercial use and for agriculture will be allowed into the Gaza Strip as well as limited sums of cement and gravel for internationally-funded projects.

On Friday, Qatari authorities announced that they would donate $10 million to Hamas authorities in Gaza in the wake of the humanitarian crisis caused by severe weather since Thursday.

The donation was given to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank to purchase diesel fuel from Israel, and on Sunday the first shipment of diesel fuel began arriving to fuel Gaza's sole power plant. more

Sunday, 15 December 2013

New UK drones “field tested” on captive Palestinians

Amna al-Dam kept the deflated red football her 12-year-old son Mamoun was playing with when he was killed by an Israeli drone strike in the occupied Gaza Strip on 20 June 2012.

“I held my Mamoun in my arms when he died and everything felt destroyed for me,” his mother said. “I hope that he is the last child to be killed in Palestine.”

She described how his body was torn apart, his clothes burned off him – and she recalled his tenderness. “You are my darling, I just want to keep you locked inside my heart,” he used to tell his mother.

Mamoun is profiled in a new report by the charity War on Want, “Killer Drones: UK complicity in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.”

He is one of more than 800 Palestinians killed in Israeli drone attacks since 2006. more

Thousands in Gaza shelters as blackouts cripple emergency response

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Gaza Ministry of Information announced Saturday that the numbers of residents staying in shelters in the besieged coastal enclave had hit 5,000 as streets and homes remain flooded in large swathes of the territory.

Separately, the Gaza Health Ministry said that the number of people injured in storm-related incidents over the last four days throughout Gaza had hit 96 on Saturday, after flooding hit dangerously high levels due to record rainfall on Friday.

Gaza's civil defense force media spokesperson Muhammad al-Midna told Ma'an that civil defense teams had successfully evacuated 1,190 people from their homes since the beginning of the storm, in addition to pumping water out of flooded homes and rescuing cars trapped on flooded streets.

Al-Midna said that the hardest hit neighborhood was Nafeq Street near Sheikh Redwan, which was inundated with flood water and led to a dramatic rise in water levels in the surrounding areas.

The civil defense forces assisted many local residents in evacuating their homes, he said.

Al-Midna added that the lack of electricity had exacerbated the difficulties faced by Gaza residents as it limited the ability of civil defense forces to pump water from flooded areas.

He highlighted that blackouts of over 12 consecutive hours and the lack of fuel to run generators during those blackouts had effectively crippled the ability of civil defense forces to respond for large periods of time. more

Saturday, 14 December 2013

WHO: Shortage of supplies leaves Gaza health services in critical condition

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed concerns over critical shortages in medical supplies and electricity for Gaza health services -- shortages which are putting Palestinian patients' lives directly at risk, the Alternative Information Center (AIC) has reported.

In a recent press release, WHO notes that 30% of medicines and 50% of medical disposables are out of stock in Gaza's central drug store. This means that patients are, too often, not receiving the appropriate kind or dosage of medicine. And, with daily electric outages averaging at 14 hours, in addition to the high cost of diesel fuel, generators supply only the most pressing of needs (e.g., intensive care units).

The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by Israel, with Egyptian support, since 2006, causing surges in the price of diesel. In addition, the Egyptian grid which supplies power to Rafah and southern Khan Younis, in the south, was disconnected Saturday. The Gaza Strip Power Authority was unable to provide electricity to these areas, as a result.

WHO reports that the accumulation of shortages in basic supplies for the Gaza Strip is leading to rapid deterioration in the social determinants of health for the population of 1.7 million Palestinians, and that it is straining the health system’s ability to provide a good standard of health care. more

Widespread flooding in Gaza forces thousands to flee homes

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Gaza Strip was pounded by fierce winds and rain again on Friday as flooding reached dangerous levels in many areas, forcing thousands to flee their homes amid widespread power outages as temperatures plunged into the single digits.

The flooding was worst in the northern Gaza Strip, where hundreds fled their homes and water levels reached 40-50 cm in some parts, forcing residents to use boats to navigate their neighborhoods.

The Gaza government said in a statement on Friday that so far 2,825 people have been evacuated from their homes, reaching a total of 458 families.

The evacuated were being sheltered in schools across the Strip, the statement was reported by Gaza-based Safa News Agency as saying, as Hamas civil defense authorities rushed to evacuate flooded homes.

Gaza Minister of Health Mufid al-Mukhalalati declared a state of "extreme emergency" as all emergency devices and ambulance crews were put on a state of high alter in all regions of the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, the minister of Local Government Muhammad Farra instructed the mayors of Gaza to suspend all leave for staff and workers in the water and sanitation sectors until the end of the current crisis.

Farra said in a press statement that municipal crews "will work day and night" until the storm passes, stressing that they will continue their efforts despite the lack of fuel and electricity. more

Friday, 13 December 2013

Storm tears through roofs, injures dozens across Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Over 30 people have been injured in Gaza in the last 24 hours as a region-wide storm tears though the roofs of meager housing in refugee camps.

A spokesman for Gaza's Ministry of Health told Ma'an that at least 18 of those injured suffered serious to moderate wounds, and were taken to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis.

A five-year-old boy was badly hurt by a rock that fell from a house's roof in Khan Younis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip Thursday, witnesses said.

He was rushed to Nasser Hospital nearby, locals told Ma'an.

Meanwhile, nine of the injured were brought to Abu Yousif al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, also in the southern Gaza Strip. more

Hamas prevents Fatah official from leaving Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas security forces prevented a Fatah official from leaving the Gaza Strip to attend a meeting in Ramallah on Thursday.

Amal Hamad, a member of Fatah's central committee, said Hamas security forces prevented her from traveling despite having previously coordinated with Hamas through a Fatah official.

Hamad said she considers this a blatant violation of her human rights, and against Palestinian ethics and values given the Palestinian people's long history of struggling to achieve freedom and independence. more

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Israeli soldiers detain two Palestinians at Gaza border fence

Israeli sources have reported that the army has kidnapped two Palestinians who crossed the “border fence” between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

The sources said that the two were unarmed, and likely tried to enter Israel searching for work.

The two have been moved to an interrogation facility in an Israeli settlement close to the border with the besieged and impoverished Gaza Strip.

There have been dozens of similar incidents as the Gaza Strip remains under strict Israeli siege, despite Israeli claims of easing it, and allowing a limited number of trucks carrying urgently more

Rafah crossing open Wednesday, Thursday

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities will keep the Rafah crossing with Gaza open for two days this week, Gaza's Ministry of Interior said Wednesday.

Egypt notified Gaza officials that the crossing will be open on Wednesday and Thursday.

Rafah has frequently been shut down or operating at reduced capacity in recent months due to ongoing unrest in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and political turmoil resulting from former president Mohamed Morsi's ouster by the Egyptian military in July. more

Israel Cancels Prawer Plan on Bedouin Land in the Negev

Israeli former minister, Benny Begin, announced Thursday that the Prawer Plan, which aims to seize the Bedouin land and destroy 48 unrecognized villages in the Negev, will be scrapped.

Begin, who worked on the bill with Ehud Prawer, head of policy planning in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office, said in a press conference that Israeli prime minister accepted his advice to delay bringing the Bill on the issue of the Bedouin in the Negev to a Knesset vote, The Times of Israel reported.

The Prawer Plan called for Israel to officially recognize and register the vast majority of Bedouin villages throughout the south, and compensate the residents of 35 unrecognized villages — some 30,000 to 40,000 people — who are to be moved into towns built for them, the newspaper added. more

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Jailing of Palestinians who tackled Israeli killer shows courts serve apartheid

If further proof was needed that the courts are an integral part of Israel’s apartheid system, it was in abundance in a Haifa court last month.

Six Palestinian men have been handed prison sentences of up to two years each over the 2005 killing of an Israeli soldier who opened fire on a bus full of civilians in Shefa Amr, a city in the Galilee region of present-day Israel. A seventh man has been given a suspended sentence of eight months.

The court case, which concluded last month, demonstrates that Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel are treated differently by the the authorities.

Considerable effort was made to protect the reputation of Eden Natan Zada, the Israeli soldier who opened fire on the bus, murdering the driver and three passengers. The prosecution refused to label him a “terrorist” because using such a label would “disgrace the deceased,” as the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

The Palestinians who tackled Zada and prevented him from inflicting an even higher death toll were, on the other hand, depicted as inherently violent. The court refused to accept the obvious that those who confronted Zada were responding to his unprovoked acts against innocent civilians and were trying to defend their community. more

UNRWA employees in Gaza stage partial strike

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in the Gaza Strip staged a partial strike on Tuesday, a member of the employees' union told Ma'an.

Medical centers affiliated to the UNRWA were shut down from 8 a.m to 9.30 a.m., said Suheil al-Hindi, a member of the union of UNRWA employees.

He added that Gaza schools run by the agency would go on strike after the third class as well.

The protest, he explained, is meant to exert pressure on the agency's administration to urge them to adhere to an agreement the agency signed with the union of employees.

According to the agreement, employees are scheduled to receive a salary increase for the first time in two years. more

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Medics: 3 injured by unexplained explosion in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Three people were injured on Tuesday evening in an ambiguous explosion east of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, medics said.

Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma’an that three injuries arrived at Kamal Adwan hospital in serious and moderate condition. more

Chaos as computer network at Rafah crossing breaks down

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – The computer network at the Egyptian side of Rafah crossing broke down Monday morning after only one bus and one ambulance managed to cross into Egyptian territory, a Palestinian official said.

Director of border crossings Mahir Abu Sabha told Ma’an that Egyptian officials at Rafah crossing notified their Palestinian counterparts that the computer network broke down.

Hundreds of passengers travelling for humanitarian needs were waiting for the computer system to be repaired so they could travel. Thousands more across the Gaza Strip, he added, are waiting until the crossing resumes operations at full capacity. more

Monday, 9 December 2013

Gaza families visit jailed relatives in Israel

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – Family members of Gaza prisoners held in Israeli jails on Monday left the Gaza Strip to Israel via Erez crossing to visit 51 prisoners in Rimon prison, a Red Cross spokesman said.

Amjad Najjar told Ma’an that 94 relatives of prisoners including 23 children below 10 left via Erez early Monday. Travel procedures went smoothly without major impediments, he added.

The Israeli authorities had allowed Gaza families to visit their jailed relatives in Israel in July 2012 for the first time since 2007. The move came after Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody staged a long hunger strike. more

Israeli forces open fire at farmers near Khan Yunis

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Sunday opened fire toward Palestinian farmers in the southern Gaza Strip, locals said.

Witnesses told Ma'an that soldiers shot at the farmers near Khan Younis refugee camp from a watchtower at the border between Israel and Gaza.

No injuries were reported. more

WHO concerned over humanitarian health crisis in Gaza

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The World Health Organization on Sunday expressed concern over a humanitarian health crisis in the Gaza Strip, as the health infrastructure struggles to cope with severe shortages in basic supplies.

"The accumulation of shortages in basic supplies in Gaza is leading to rapid deterioration in the social determinants of health for the population of 1.7 million Palestinians," WHO said.

Over 30 percent of medicines and 50 percent of medical disposables are out of stock in Gaza, and large generators used to power hospitals during 14-hour power cuts have frequent breakdowns.

One of the two generators powering the Gaza European hospital burned out last month, WHO said.

In recent months, government hospitals in Gaza have reduced non-urgent surgery by almost 50 percent to conserve fuel and medical supplies for cases of emergency.

Power shortages also directly and indirectly affect the health of Gazans, as water supplies are reduced, sewage pumps fail to operate and ground transportation for solid waste removal becomes less frequent.

"The severe and prolonged shortages of fuel, electricity and medicines along with widespread poverty stem from 6 years of tight restrictions into and out of Gaza's borders for people and goods," WHO said. more