Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Brigades 'fire 5 rockets at Israel'

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The al-Ansar Brigades says it fired five rockets at Israeli targets on Tuesday in response to an airstrike that killed a 25-year-old Palestinian.

An Israeli military spokeswoman was not immediately familiar with any rockets landing in Israel.

The brigades, affiliated to the al-Ahrar movement, said the rockets were a response to the killing of Haitham al-Mishal and Israeli violations of a truce agreed in November.

"The occupation does not respect the truce nor fulfill its commitments," the group said in a statement. "The truce can go to hell." more

Settler stabbed to death near Nablus

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A settler was stabbed to death near Nablus on Tuesday, witnesses said.

Onlookers told Ma'an that a man asked a taxi to drop him off around 60 meters from Zatara checkpoint south of Nablus, in an area where settlers wait to hitch-hike or for transport.

"The Palestinian suspect stabbed an Israeli sitting at a bus stop. He died," Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP, adding that the incident took place near Tapuah junction which lies south of the city of Nablus.

Israeli border police sped to the area and fired towards the attacker, who grabbed his victim's weapon and returned fire but was eventually disarmed and taken into custody, she said. more

Man killed in Israeli airstrike on Gaza City

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- One man was killed and another injured in an Israeli airstrike on the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, locals said.

Eyewitnesses told Ma'an that Israeli warplanes fired at a motorcycle west of Gaza City. Haitham al-Mishal, 29, was killed in the attack, and another unidentified man was injured, medical official Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma'an.

Both men were evacuated to al-Shifa hospital.

Al-Mishal was from the ash-Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza. more

Monday, 29 April 2013

Formula, medicine stranded at Gaza crossing

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hundreds of truckloads of food and goods destined for Gaza remained stranded Monday on the Israeli side of the Kerem Shalom crossing, the Popular Front Against the Siege said.

Among the goods are infant formula, medicine, and goods destined for UNRWA, as well as agricultural and commercial goods, a statement issued by the group's border monitoring unit read.

The goods have been stranded on the Israeli side for four days, the group said, warning that prolonged exposure to heat may cause the goods to expire. more

Gaza mortar shell fired at southern Israel

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Militants in the Gaza Strip on Monday sent a mortar shell crashing into an open area in southern Israel, a day after a rare retaliatory air strike by Israeli forces, the army said.

"A mortar shell struck an uninhabited area in the Eshkol region near the security fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip," an army spokeswoman said on Monday.

The incident came 24 hours after Israeli warplanes launched air strikes against the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, targeting weapons depots and a training site for the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, the military said.

The strikes, which came in response to rocket fire that hit open fields in southern Israel on Saturday, caused no casualties.

The Israeli authorities on Sunday also closed the Kerem Shalom goods crossing until further notice after Saturday's rocket attack, the defense ministry said, and restricted movement of people across the separate Erez crossing to "humanitarian cases". more

Fatah leader's car bombed in Gaza Strip

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Assailants bombed the car of a Fatah leader in the southern Gaza Strip at dawn Monday, police said.

The attackers planted a 500-gram explosive device targeting the car of Monther al-Bardawil outside his home in Rafah, said police spokesman Ayman al-Bandakji.

Witnesses told Ma'an the explosion shook the neighborhood.

The Fatah official's car was damaged but no injuries were reported. Al-Bandakji said police had opened an investigation into the incident. more

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Official: Gaza domestic-use gas crisis unresolved

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – The Gaza Strip’s domestic-use gas crisis has been ongoing for about four months, a Gaza official said Saturday.

During this period, the Gaza Strip has been receiving 120 tons of domestic-use gas everyday five days a week, says Abdul-Nasser Muhanna, the director general of the petroleum department in Gaza.

He highlighted that the coastal enclave needed 250 tons every day. more

Three Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza

Israel's air force has carried out three strikes in the Gaza Strip, witnesses have said.

Two airstrikes hit the southern town of Khan Yunis, early on Sunday. The third was near the southern town of Rafah, near the Egyptian border, Palestinian witnesses said.

There were conflicting reports concerning the targets and no reported casualties.

An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the air force had carried out strikes in the Gaza Strip but told the AFP news agency she could not give further details.

The Israeli authorities also closed on Sunday until further notice the Kerem Shalom goods crossing following a rocket attack, the defence ministry said.

Israel had not carried out Gaza airstrikes since early April, when it launched the first strikes since an Egyptian-brokered truce in November ended a deadly eight-day conflict between Tel Aviv and fighters belonging to Hamas, which governs the territory. more

Egypt arrests 8 Palestinian tunnel smugglers

EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma'an) -- Egyptian security forces detained eight Palestinian smugglers on Saturday in a border area near the Gaza Strip, security sources said.

Security forces raided a smuggling tunnel in the Rafah area, arresting the men and seizing a truck carrying 22 liters of fuel, a fuel pump, and a hose, security sources told Ma'an.

The smugglers were transferred to the custody of Egyptian security forces for investigation. more

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Medics: Israeli forces shoot 17-year-old in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian teenager was shot by Israeli forces in Jabaliya refugee camp, medics said.

Jameel Heesha, 17, was shot in his left foot near the northern border of Gaza Strip.

He was taken to a nearby hospital with moderate injuries.

An Israeli army spokeswoman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

On Thursday, Israeli gunboats opened fire toward Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the Gaza Strip, a local official said. more

Report: Abbas to start consultations on creating unity government

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) – President Mahmoud Abbas will start consultations Saturday to create a national unity government, the official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported Saturday.

The move, according to Abbas, will be in line with the Doha declaration of principles and the timetable approved by the Palestinian leadership during meetings in Cairo on Feb., 8, 2013 dedicated to activating and developing the Palestine Liberation Organization.

He highlighted that participants in Cairo agreed as well to set a date for presidential, parliamentary, and Palestinian National Council elections.

The PLO’s Executive Committee, added Abbas, has reiterated the same principles in a recent meeting on April 18 in Ramallah. more

Friday, 26 April 2013

Official: Israel fires at fishing boats off Gaza coast

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli gunboats on Thursday opened fire toward Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the Gaza Strip, a local official said.

Israeli forces opened fire at the boats off north-west Gaza as the fishermen as approached the three-mile limit Israel imposes along the coastline, said Mahfouth Kabariti, head of a federation for fishermen and water sports.

No injuries were reported, Kabariti told Ma'an.

Israel's army announced in February that the fishing zone for Palestinians in Gaza would be reduced from six to three miles following a rocket attack. more

Israeli forces uproot 700 olive trees near Jenin after destroying 1,300 in Hebron hills

NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Thursday uprooted over 700 olive trees near Arraba village in the northern West Bank, Palestinian Legislative Council member Najah Abu Bakr said.

The trees belonged to Palestinians in Arraba, south of Jenin, close to the Israeli settlement Mevo Dotan, the MP said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Israeli forces destroyed over 1,300 olive trees in the south Hebron hills of the southern West Bank. more

G4S feels the heat of international boycott campaign

British-Danish security firm G4S this weekend reacted to a wave of protest by rehashing claims that it will eventually quit its Israeli contracts in the occupied West Bank. But in fact G4S staff will “continue to service security systems in commercial and government sites inside Israel, including jails housing Palestinian inmates” and continue to protect businesses in the settlements.

On Palestinian Prisoners Day, which was marked last Wednesday, human rights groups staged protests worldwide against the G4S role in securing Israeli prisons. G4S provides security services to Israeli detention and interrogation centers where Palestinian political prisoners (including teenagers) are held. more

Hezbollah denies sending drone over Israel

BEIRUT (AFP) -- Hezbollah said Thursday it did not send a drone over Israel, hours after the Israeli air force said it shot down an unmanned aircraft off the country's northern coast.

"Hezbollah denies sending any unmanned drone towards occupied Palestine," the movement's television channel al-Manar said, without elaborating.

Israel's deputy defense minister earlier put the blame squarely on Hezbollah, which had said it was behind a previous drone infiltration on October 7. more

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Israeli premier says Lebanon drone incident extremely grave

JERUSALEM (AFP) - An unmanned drone from Lebanon shot down on Thursday by the air force off the northern coast of Israel was an "extremely grave" incident, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

"I see this attempt to breach our borders as extremely grave. We will continue to do whatever we must to protect the security of Israel's citizens," he said.

The Israeli air force on Thursday shot down an unmanned drone several miles off the coast of the northern port city of Haifa after it entered Israeli airspace from Lebanon, the military said. more

Undercover Israeli forces raid central Hebron

HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Undercover Israeli forces on Thursday detained two Palestinians in central Hebron in the southern West Bank.

The forces, dressed as Palestinians, took Issam Irfifan Zablah and Fahed Gamal Sarahneh in the Bab al-Zawiyeh area, a Ma'an reporter said.

At dawn Thursday, uniformed Israeli soldiers detained three Palestinians in Hebron. Locals said Loay Nasser al-Din, Sameh Zahdeh and Ibrahim Deis were detained in raids on their homes in the city.

On Wednesday evening, undercover Israeli forces stormed a wedding party in Issawiya in East Jerusalem and detained three Palestinians. more

Locals say Israeli tanks, bulldozers enter Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli military forces entered the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday morning, locals said.

Eight bulldozers were accompanied by tanks, entering approximately 100 meters into farming land east of Khan Younis, witnesses said.

No clashes were reported.

An Israeli military spokeswoman did not immediately return a request for comment.

On Wednesday, witnesses reported a similar incident east of Beit Hanoun. At the time, an Israeli army spokeswoman said there was "routine activity adjacent to the security fence," without providing further details. more

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Israeli forces enter border area in north Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli military forces entered an area in the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday, locals said.

Israeli bulldozers and tanks entered 300 meters into an area of land used for farming east of Beit Hanoun, witnesses said. more

Hamas dismisses 'shortsighted' PA criticism of Erdogan Gaza visit

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan’s visit to the Gaza Strip reflects his support to the Palestinian people, a senior Hamas official said Monday.

Salah al-Bardawil told Ma’an that the “arrival of any Arab and Islamic supporters to the Gaza Strip or the West Bank is advantageous to the Palestinian people.”

However, he added, “the Palestinian Authority is shortsighted as they weigh things only from a partial angle.”

He added: “They see that any move to support the Palestinian people in Gaza is consolidating domination (by Hamas) as a representative of the Palestinian people.”

This is baseless, he said, pointing out that a reconciliation process between Hamas and Fatah is underway, and at this stage it is wrong to think that any support to Hamas harms Palestinian representation. more

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Issawi signs agreement with Israel, ends hunger strike

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Long term hunger striker Samer Issawi ended his protest action on Tuesday after signing an agreement with Israel which guarantees his release, his lawyer Jawad Bolous said.

The deal will see Issawi released to his hometown of Jerusalem after serving eight months in jail, after 266 days of refusing food in protest against his rearrest by Israeli forces.

The agreement was signed at Kaplan Medical Center in Israel where Issawi is currently being held, and both his uncle and brother were present at the signing, Bolous said.

Israeli officials reportedly agreed to the deal after Issawi said Monday that he would boycott any future court hearings and refuse to recognize the legitimacy of Israeli courts.

Hani Issawi, the prisoner's uncle, told Ma'an the agreement was written at Israel's Ofer military court.

Samer Issawi "feels he achieved a victory thanks to his adherence to principles he believed in," his uncle said.

Issawi's victory was partly due to his rejection of Israeli efforts to deport him and so he "achieved a basic Palestinian goal of resisting exile and adherence to the right of return," his uncle added. more

Issawi to end hunger strike, lawyer says

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Long term hunger striker Samer Issawi has agreed to end his hunger strike after finalizing a deal with Israel which will see him return to his home in Jerusalem, his lawyer Jawad Boulos said Tuesday.

Israeli authorities agreed to the wording of an agreement proposed by Issawi overnight Monday, which would see him serve 8 months in Israeli detention in return for ending his strike action, Boulos told Ma'an.

Issawi will then be released to his hometown of Issawiyeh in Jerusalem.

Israeli officials reportedly agreed to the deal after Issawi said Monday that he would boycott any future court hearings and refuse to recognize the legitimacy of Israeli courts.

Authorities in Israel were also worried about Issawi's deteriorating health, Boulos said.

Samer Issawi, who has been on hunger strike for over 265 days, started to take liquids overnight Monday upon recommendations form doctors. more

Monday, 22 April 2013

Israeli vehicles enter northern Gaza, witnesses say

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli military vehicles and bulldozers crossed into an area of farmland in the northern Gaza Strip on Monday, witnesses said.

Locals told Ma'an that five bulldozers dug up agricultural lands east of Beit Hanoun.

Saber al-Zaghain, a popular resistance coordinator, told Ma'an that Israel conducted dredging operations on farmland near Beit Hanoun, damaging Palestinian crops.

"These crops have been planted after the recent Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, and now is the season to harvest them in order to be distributed to the markets," she said. more

Israel to allow limited building supplies into Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities opened the Kerem Shalom goods crossing into Gaza on Monday for the limited transfer of building materials, a Palestinian Authority official told Ma'an.

The building materials are earmarked for projects already under construction, PA liaison official Raed Fattouh said. Goods for other sectors and cooking gas will also be among the goods entering Gaza on Monday.

In April, a UN agency expressed concern over heightened Israeli restrictions placed on the movement of people and goods to and from the Gaza Strip, following rocket fire in the area. more

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Hamas denounces Kerry call to delay Erdogan visit

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- The Hamas rulers of Gaza on Sunday slammed US Secretary of State John Kerry for urging the Turkish prime minister to delay a visit to the coastal territory.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri accused Kerry and president Mahmoud Abbas -- who met in Istanbul earlier in the day -- of "collusion in a bid to maintain the (Israeli) blockade on Gaza."

Kerry met separately in Istanbul with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Abbas, and told reporters he had asked Erdogan to wait for the "right conditions" before going ahead with a planned visit next month to Gaza. more

Video: Israeli forces using Palestinian teen as human shield

Ramallah, April 20, 2013—Defence for Children International Palestine is disturbed by Israeli soldiers using a Palestinian teenager as a human shield during confrontations with protesters in the West Bank town of Abu Dis on Friday.

Local journalist Huthifa Jamous caught Israeli soldiers on video as they grabbed Muhammad R, 17, out of their armored vehicle onto the street and forced him to stand with them while they fired at protesters. His hands remained tied with a single plastic cord and held above his head throughout the incident. One of the soldiers can be seen flashing the V-for-victory sign. The clashes between Palestinian youth and Israeli soldiers erupted during a demonstration in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, according to news report.

“We’re outraged that Israeli soldiers continue to use Palestinian children as human shields with impunity,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCI-Palestine. “The teen in this case was deliberately exposed to danger after he had been taken into custody. Israeli authorities must conduct a prompt, transparent and impartial investigation and hold the perpetrators accountable.” more

Israel media: Rocket launched from Gaza

>TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed in the Eshkol Regional Council on Saturday night, causing no injuries or damage, Israeli media reported.

Israel's Ynet news site said a "color red" siren sounded in the area shortly before the hit.

Calls to the Israeli military seeking confirmation were not immediately returned. more

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Occupation forces declare Kufr Qaddoum village closed military zone

QALQILIA, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) declared Kufr Qaddoum village, east of Qalqilia city, a closed military zone on Saturday morning and prohibited entry into it.

Eyewitnesses said that IOF troops converged on the village since the early morning hours and set up a roadblock at the sole entrance to the village.

They said that IOF patrols roamed the streets of the village and prohibited entry into it for non-residents.

The eyewitnesses said that the soldiers searched all passing Palestinian cars and checked the IDs of citizens. more

Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh sentenced to 5 months in prison

Very sad news. Mohammad Saba’aneh, the acclaimed Palestinian Cartoonist who was detained February 16th at the Allenby Bridge checkpoint, was sentenced by the Israeli Salem Military Court on April 4th to 5 months in an Israeli prison for "contact with a hostile organization".

Initially Saba’aneh was held without charge. On March 19th an Israeli military court was supposed to announce a decision whether to present an indictment against Saba'aneh, instead they extended his detention.

At the time Saba’aneh's lawyer said there was no evidence Saba'aneh had committed any offense. more

Israeli court suspends confiscation of Palestinian land in Beit Safafa

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) – An Israeli central court in Jerusalem on Friday suspended a legal case by the Israeli municipal council of Jerusalem seeking to confiscate a private tract of land owned by Palestinian Salman family in Beit Safafa neighborhood, a lawyer says.

Qays Yousif Nasser, who represents the Palestinian family, said in a statement that the court decided to wait until the Supreme Court makes its final decision into the case.

Nasser highlighted that a local Palestinian committee from Beit Safafa neighborhood had appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court contesting the municipal plans to build a new road known as route 4.

“The decision is of great importance as it could help freeze other legal proceedings submitted by the municipality of Jerusalem asking to confiscate private lands in other locations in the neighborhood,” the lawyer said. more

Friday, 19 April 2013

Hamas in talks as Palestinian unity momentum builds

DOHA (AFP) -- Leaders of Hamas met in Qatar on Friday amid renewed impetus for a unity government after the resignation of prime minister Salam Fayyad, a Palestinian official said.

Newly re-elected Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal chaired the meeting in his base in exile in Qatar, which was also attended by Hamas leaders from Gaza including its prime minister Ismail Haniyeh.

Momentum has built for reconcilation between Hamas and the Fatah movement of president Mahmoud Abbas since the resignation of Fayyad, a US-trained economist whose appointment as premier was never recognized by the Islamists.

"The meeting began on Thursday and will continue until Saturday," the official said, requesting anonymity.

Hamas leaders will discuss "Palestinian reconciliation, developments in the Palestinian arena following Fayyad's resignation, as well as ways of pressing Israel to release Palestinian prisoners," the official said. more

Urgent concerns over death threats issued to UN Human Rights defender, Issa Amro

There are growing concerns for the safety of non-violent Palestinian activist and organiser Issa Amro, following a recent letter to Israeli security forces from Israeli settlers of Hebron, accusing Amro of terrorism and incitement, and warning that a failure of the Israeli authorities to remove him “could be costly”, and threatening “bloodshed”. This is the latest in a long line of threats and attacks against UN human rights award winner Amro.

In the letter, the mayor of the Jewish “Hebron Municipal Council” and the director general of the “Hebron Jewish Community” insist that army commanders “use administrative detention until you are able to find a long-term solution to completely end this hostile and dangerous activity” referring to Amro’s extensive work with various human rights groups. The full letter can be read here.more

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Israel bars Gaza runners from Bethlehem marathon

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel has refused to grant permission to 26 runners from the Gaza Strip to travel to the West Bank to run in the first Bethlehem marathon on April 21, officials said on Thursday.

The race, which begins at the Nativity Church, is the first event of its kind in the West Bank with more than 400 people registered to run, half of whom are Palestinians, organizers say.

But a group of runners from the Gaza Strip who signed up for the race, have been denied permission to travel by the COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry unit responsible for coordinating civilian affairs with the Palestinians.

According to Gisha, an Israeli watchdog which works to facilitate Palestinian freedom of movement, the group includes Olympic runner Nader al-Masri and another four people who had registered to run the full 26 miles and six who signed up for the 21.1 km half marathon.

The group also includes at least one woman runner and four trainers. more

Limited building supplies to enter Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities on Thursday opened the Kerem Shalom border crossing in northern Gaza for limited import and export, a Palestinian Authority official told Ma'an.

The 450 trucks entering Gaza include cement, iron, gas and building material and other goods, said PA liaison officer Raed Fattuh. Flowers and herbs destined for Europe will also travel through the border.

Farmers in the Gaza Strip on Sunday destroyed three tons of rotten herbs and spices that were to be shipped to markets in Europe before Israel closed the border crossings.

Muhammad Zuweid, a marketing official in Gaza, told Ma'an that three tons of mint, sage, basil, and tarragon were ready to be exported to Europe and waiting at the Kerem Shalom crossing.

After days of closure, the goods expired and became unsafe to use, he said. more

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

This Palestinian Prisoners Day we remember Bassem Abu Rahma who was murdered four years ago today

Today is Palestinian Prisoners Day which also marks the 4th anniversary of the death of Bassam Abu Rahma and the 270th day of Samer Issawi’s hunger strike. These two events perfectly illustrate the ongoing perseverance of the Palestinian peoples relentless struggle for peace, justice , freedom and dignity. They also illustrate the Israeli army’s excessive and often lethal use of force against peaceful and unarmed demonstrators throughout the West Bank and Gaza.

In 2009 Bassam Abu Rahma was shot at close range in the chest with a high velocity tear gas canister , which are designed to penetrate concrete walls and gas those inside. He was shot as he walked towards Israeli soldiers whilst holding his hands up the air. He was marching for his Palestinian comrades being held in various Israeli prisons and detention centers without charge or trial and the expansion of settlements around his village of Bil`in.

Samer Issawi has been on hunger strike in an Israeli detention center for 270 days, one of the longest hunger strikes in history. He has refused Israeli offers to be exiled to Gaza and other UN countries , firmly asserting that he will either be released to his home in Jerusalem or starve to death. more

Gaza fishing ban imposed for 'security reasons'

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas security forces in Gaza have banned fishermen from working since Monday, a human rights center said Wednesday.

Naval security forces in the coastal territory imposed a ban on fishing at 5 a.m. on Monday for "security reasons," according to Al-Mezan center for human rights.

Mahfouz al-Kabariti, chairman of the Palestinian Association for Fishing and Marine Sports, told Ma'an that fishermen were notified about the decision. more

Jihadists claim Sinai rocket fire on Israel's Eilat resort

It was the first rocket attack on the southern resort city in eight months, with the Israeli army saying they were fired from the Egyptian Sinai, although there was no immediate confirmation from Cairo where a senior military official said troops were "investigating" the incident.

As news of the rocket fire emerged, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- who is in London for the funeral of Britain's Margaret Thatcher -- held a telephone consultation with the security establishment on "how to react," his office said.

Several hours later, a Salafi group called the Mujahedeen Shura Council posted a statement online saying its militants had "managed to target occupied Eilat with two Grad rockets" without saying where they were fired from. more

Report on torture in Israeli jails based on interviews with former prisoners, detainees

Israel is considered by both International Human Rights organisations and media polls as one of the worst countries regarding human rights abuses, due to its dreadful record of human rights violations.

Amnesty International and Middle East Monitor issued various reports in which they expressed concerns about the Israeli's practices. A BBC World Service poll in 2007 revealed that Israel is perceived by the majority of people as top country for having a negative influence in the world and a more recent public poll carried out in Norway and Germany circumscribed Israel as "a hostile entity". This negative image of Israel is caused by its frequent violations of international law since its forced establishment in 1948.

Since the occupation of Palestine in 1948, more than 800,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned. From 1967 onwards, over 700,000 Palestinians, 20% of the population of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip have been detained. This number represents approximately 40% of the total male Palestinian population in the Occupied Territories. International law sets the foundation for humane and fair treatment of prisoners, assuring that prisoners are not humiliated or tortured. Several countries, including Israel, deny these laws and regulations and practice different forms of humiliation and torture. Palestinian prisoners and detainees are exposed to unfair trials, administrative detention, solitary confinement, and deprived of seeing their families. In addition, physical and psychological torture is exerted by Israeli security services. This report reveals the different methods used by Israeli forces to torture Palestinian political prisoners and is based on interviews with former Palestinian prisoners and detainees. more

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Prisoners Day Report puts Number at Close to 5000

RAMALLAH, April 16, 2013 (WAFA) - As Palestinians prepare to mark Prisoners Day on Wednesday, the Prisoner Club said in a report that as of 2013 there were close to 5,000 Palestinian prisoner spread over 27 prisons, jails, detention centers and interrogation centers.

It said 106 of the prisoners have been in jail since before the signing of the Oslo accords between Israel and PLO in 1993, which means they have been detained for more than 20 years, and 50 of them have been detained more than 25 years including Karim Younis, the longest serving prisoner after serving 31 years in Israeli prisons.

There are now 14 woman prisoners with Lina Jarbouni being the longest serving prisoner, so far held for 11 years out of her 20-year sentence, and 235 child prisoners in Israeli jails.

The report said that administrative detention “is the prisoner’s worst enemy.”

It said Israel can detain any Palestinian indefinitely without the opportunity for legal counsel or court hearing for what the Israelis call the “secret file” that is compiled by Israeli intelligence. It can range anywhere from one month to six months, renewable indefinitely by orders of military commanders using the “secret file” excuse.

There are currently 200 administrative detainees, 14 of them are members of parliament.

The report said there is no official number for sick prisoners but it is estimated that the number is around 700. more

Video: Israeli soldiers blindfold and arrest young boy in Hebron

A two-minute video uploaded to YouTube yesterday by the International Solidarity Movement shows a blindfolded Palestinian boy being led away by two heavily-armed Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron that same day.

Israeli soldiers demand to see the passports of internationals observing the arrest of the child. The soldiers tear the passports from the internationals’ hands and soon they are flanked by persons who appear to be Jewish settlers. more

Monday, 15 April 2013

Israel bans family visits for Gaza prisoners for 5th week

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israel on Monday prevented Palestinians in Gaza from visiting their relatives in Israeli jails for the fifth consecutive week, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

Israel informed the ICRC that prisoners from Gaza could not receive family visits because of Jewish holidays, ICRC spokeswoman Arwa Muhanna told Ma'an.

Israel has prevented the family visits since March 18.

Muhanna said the ICRC was in constant contact with Israeli authorities to resume the visits.

Under international law, detainees are entitled to receive family visits. more

Witnesses: Israeli forces fire at farmers in central Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces opened fire at farmers in the central Gaza Strip on Monday, locals said.

Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli troops stationed at a watchtower fired at farmers east of al-Bureij refugee camp, forcing them to flee the area.

Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers opened fire at a Palestinian liaison crew accompanying sick passengers to Israel via the Erez crossing in northern Gaza, witnesses said.

No injuries were reported. more

Gaza farmers destroy goods bound for Europe spoiled by crossing closure

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Farmers in the Gaza Strip on Sunday destroyed three tons of rotten herbs and spices that were to be shipped to markets in Europe before Israel closed the border crossings.

Muhammad Zuweid, a marketing official in Gaza, told Ma'an that three tons of mint, sage, basil, and tarragon were ready to be exported to Europe and waiting at the Kerem Shalom crossing.

After days of closure, the goods expired and became unsafe to use, he said.

Moreover, the herbs are not heavily consumed by local markets. The available amounts exceed the needs of the local markets, which is why they were selected to export abroad.

He explained that the tarragon herb is not used locally, but it is usually exported abroad. Salvia officinalis, or garden sage, was being prepared for export for the first time this year. more

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Turkey's Erdogan to visit Gaza in May

ISTANBUL (AFP) -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday announced plans to visit Gaza at the end of May, possibly after a key trip to Washington which brokered a rapprochement between Turkey and Israel last month.

"God willing, we will be in Gaza at the end of May. We will embrace one another there," Erdogan said through a video link with a Turkish aid centre in the coastal territory media reported.

Erdogan, a staunch advocate of the Palestinian cause, earlier said he would visit Gaza in April "to help the process" of lifting an Israeli embargo on Gaza.

That announcement came a day after a breakthrough apology on March 22 from Israel for the deaths of nine Turks during a 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, which had wrecked ties between the former allies. more

Protesters set Israel watchtower on fire

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Palestinian demonstrators on Saturday threw two home-made bombs toward a concrete military watchtower, causing soldiers to temporarily evacuate it.

Israeli troops left the watchtower immediately and dozens of demonstrators piled burning tires against the Israeli separation wall around Aida refugee camp, witnesses said.

Israeli forces fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets toward the Palestinians. Five Palestinians suffered from tear-gas inhalation.

In the al-Khader village near Bethlehem, clashes erupted between Israeli troops and Palestinian youths. Three Palestinians were wounded with plastic-coated steel bullets. more

Gaza woman dies after self immolation

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A 22-year-old woman died on Saturday after setting herself on fire last week, a medical official said.

Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma'an that the woman, whose identity remained hidden, suffered burns to 80 percent of her body after pouring gasoline over herself and setting it alight. more

PA prime minister Salam Fayyad resigns

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- President Abbas accepted the resignation of Palestinian Authority prime minister Salam Fayyad on Saturday, despite US efforts for him to stay on, official news agency Wafa reported.

"Fayyad met Abbas for half an hour in the president's headquarters in Ramallah in the West Bank and officially handed him his written resignation," a Palestinian official told AFP.

Abbas tasked Fayyad with the role of caretaker for the current government until a new prime minister is appointed, another official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The two men have been at loggerheads amid mounting criticism of the prime minister's economic policies in the ruling Fatah movement, but Washington has lobbied hard for the US-educated economist to stay on. more

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Christian school gates torched in Gaza City

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Arsonists set fire to the main gates of a Christian school in Gaza City on Saturday, witnesses said.

Unidentified assailants set fire to the entrance of the Holy Family School in the early hours of Saturday, with no injuries reported.

The school was closed Saturday and parents were told to take their children home. more

Friday, 12 April 2013

Settlers assault 60-year-old Palestinian judge

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli settlers on Thursday assaulted a 60-year-old Palestinian judge as he worked on his land near Ramallah, sparking violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces.

Judge Ahmad al-Zir sustained multiple injuries, including head wounds, and was left unconscious in the attack, a Ma'an reporter said.

He was taken to the Ramallah Governmental Hospital.

Residents of Silwad headed to the al-Asour area, where the attack happened, and confronted settlers, setting fire to caravans in a nearby outpost.

Israeli forces arrived and fired tear gas and plastic-coated bullets at the Palestinians. A 16-year-old Palestinian was shot in the chest and the arm with plastic-coated bullets, medics said. more

Cuts threaten UN food aid in Gaza

GAZA (IRIN) - UN-run relief and distribution centers in Gaza, which provide food to around 25,000 people a day, reopened this week after guarantees were given about the security of staff.

The UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) was “forced to close its distribution and relief offices last week due to ongoing demonstrations that affected its operations, a regrettable decision that hindered the agency’s ability to provide much-needed services and relief supplies to Palestine refugees in Gaza,” the agency said in a statement.

Several hundred Palestinian refugees have been protesting outside the UNRWA office in Gaza since early last week, following cuts to a cash assistance program.

Protests against the cuts turned violent on 4 April, when demonstrators stormed the office, leading to the closure of all relief and distribution centers in the Gaza Strip, which together provide assistance to more than 800,000 people.

“Based on the assurances UNRWA in Gaza received from different local [leaders], the agency will reopen its installations across the Gaza Strip,” said the statement.

“While UNRWA understands the frustration of the population, heightened by the tightened blockade on the Gaza Strip, and respects the right to peaceful demonstrations, UNRWA must ensure the safety and security of its staff,” it continued, adding that the centers would again be closed if staff or facilities faced further threats.

The thousands of refugees who depend on food aid had been worried by the closure of the centres. more

Rights abuses by Israel prison medics 'endanger lives'

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Human rights violations by medics working for Israel's prison service are endangering the lives of both Israeli and Palestinian inmates, especially hunger strikers, a watchdog said on Thursday.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel strongly urged the transfer of responsibility for prisoners' health from the Israel Prisons Service to the health ministry in order to ensure detainees' health was put ahead of "security considerations".

"Medical ethics and human rights violations carried out by the IPS, specifically by prison medical practitioners... endangered the lives of prisoners and detainees on hunger strike," PHR said in a report.

The abuses it cited included "preventing independent physicians from examining and monitoring the medical condition of hunger strikers... and blocking the transfer of prisoners on hunger strike to civilian hospitals." more

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Israel shuts sole Gaza crossing for 4th day

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities on Thursday closed the Kerem Shalom crossing for the fourth day in a row, an official said.

Raed Fattouh, a border official, told Ma’an that Israeli authorities informed the Palestinian side that the crossing would be closed for security reasons.

Israel sealed its border with the Gaza Strip on Monday after militants fired a rocket into the Negev desert on Sunday evening.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP the rocket landed in an uninhabited sector of the Negev desert.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon warned on Wednesday that his country would respond to any attacks on its territory and not allow its people to come under fire.

MP Jamal al-Khodri condemned the border closure as an attempt to tighten the siege and collapse the Palestinian economy. more