Saturday, 31 August 2013

Jenin man dies from injuries sustained in Israeli arrest raid

JENIN (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian man died on Saturday after being shot by Israeli soldiers last week in Jenin refugee camp.

Karim Abu Sbeih, 20, passed away in the Arab Hospital in Nablus.

He was hospitalized after being shot in the chest by Israeli forces on Aug. 20 and had part of his kidneys, colon, lungs and liver removed.

Majd Mohammad Anis Lahlouh, 22, was killed during the raid, after being shot in the heart by Israeli soldiers.

Ala Abu Khalifa was critically wounded in the raid and is due to undergo spinal surgery, his mother said. more

Witness accounts on the killing of three Palestinians that stopped peace negotiations

The home of Jihad Aslan, one of three Palestinians killed in Qalandia refugee camp. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Allison Deger interviews witnesses to the deaths of three Palestinians killed earlier this week during an Israeli incursion into Qalandia refugee camp. The deaths have catalyzed a Palestinian Authority boycott of peace negotiations, a row between the UN and Israel, and a face-off between Ramallah protesters and Palestinian security forces outside of the government’s compound. Above, the home of Jihad Aslan, one of three Palestinians killed in Qalandia refugee camp. more

Medics: Israeli forces shoot farmer in Gaza

GAZA (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian farmer was shot and injured on Friday East of Jabalia north of the Gaza Strip, medics said.

Israeli forces opened fire at Yousef Saad, 20, injuring him in the thigh.

He was taken to Kamal Edwan hospital in Jabalia. more

Friday, 30 August 2013

Egyptian forces shoot at Palestinian fishermen

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egyptian naval forces on Friday shot two Palestinian fishermen near the Egypt-Gaza border and detained five others, Palestinian sources in Gaza said.

Egyptian forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats, injuring 19-year-old Ibrahim Abdullah al-Najjar and 21-year-old Wael al-Bardawil. They were taken to the Abu Yousef al-Najjar Hospital in the Palestinian side of Rafah.

Egyptian forces detained Khalid Basla, Mahmud Basla, Maher Basla, Jamal Khaled Abu Shlouf, and Ismael Basla. more

Egypt denies intelligence agents working in Gaza

CAIRO, Egypt (Ma'an) -- An Egyptian security official on Thursday denied claims by Hamas that Egyptian intelligence agents were working in the Gaza Strip.

"Such false accusations are part of attempts by the Hamas movement to discharge its domestic crisis to Egypt," the security official told Ma'an.

Earlier Thursday, Hamas security sources said a Palestinian had been arrested the southern Gaza Strip. The man, identified only as M.M., admitted to running a cell for Egyptian intelligence, Hamas security officials said.

They added that the suspect and his group attempted to "disseminating rumors amongst citizens, drivers, and the Gaza society seeking to implicate Hamas and Al-Qassam Brigades in the events in Sinai and the ongoing unrest in Egypt." more

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Israeli public in state of panic as US readies for war against Syria

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli media and officials sought to calm the public on Thursday as queues for gas masks lengthened amid expectations of a US-led military strike against neighboring Syria.

"Keep calm and carry on" was the headline of a front-page analysis in the Jerusalem Post, echoing a World War II British government slogan.

Most media on Thursday sought to ease fears of a Syrian backlash against staunch US ally Israel, which insists it is not a party to events across its northern border.

"With (Israeli) military intelligence keeping more eyes and ears open to enemy activity than ever before, the combination of Israeli's firepower and accurate intelligence would spell very bad news for the Assad regime should it choose to target Israel in response to an attack on Syria by the United States," the Post wrote.

"Defense officials are quite confident he will not commence hostilities against Israel," it added. "Doing so would likely sign his regime's death certificate."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's eight-member security cabinet in Wednesday authorized a limited call-up of reservists but the premier said in a statement that members of the public had "no reason to change their routines."

Haaretz daily said that those to be called up numbered "a few hundred" personnel considered vital, including members of missile defense, air force, intelligence and civil defense units. more

Gaza engineer stops his hunger strike In Eshil prison after deal with Israeli authortities

Wednesday [August 28, 2013] Palestinian detainee Dirar Abu Sisi stopped his hunger strike after reaching an agreement with the Administration of Israeli Bir Shiva (Be’er As-Sabe’) Prion, south of the country, to remove him from his solitary confinement.

The Ahrar Center for Detainees Studies and Human Rights has reported that The Prison Administration also agreed to allow Sisi to call his family once a month, and to allow the representatives of the detainees, in the prison, to visit him at any given time.

Fuad Al-Khoffash, head of the Ahrar Center, stated that Sisi ended his trike once he was removed from his cell, and added that the Prison Administration also removed eight detainees from their solitary confinement cells.

The eight detainees were forced into solitary confinement for holding hunger strike in solidarity with Sisi.

Israeli Mossad agents kidnapped engineer Dirar Abu Sisi back in February 2011 in Ukraine when he traveled with his wife, Veronica, to seek citizenship, as his wife is Ukrainian. more

Governor: Nablus man shot dead was killed in 'crossfire'

NABLUS (Ma'an) -- A man shot dead on Tuesday was killed in the crossfire between Palestinian Authority security forces and gunmen in Askar refugee camp, the governor of Nablus said Wednesday.

"A unit of security forces was assigned to arrest a wanted man in the camp according to the law and entered his house to arrest him," Jibrin al-Bakri told Ma'an.

"Then several gunmen started shooting at the officers from a number of directions. Some children started throwing rocks at them, which led the officers to call for reinforcements."

PA forces exchanged gunfire with the gunmen before leaving the camp, having arrested their intended suspect, al-Bakri said. more

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

PFLP: Hamas security force detain fighters in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas security forces detained several members of the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine overnight Tuesday, the leftist group said.

Hamas forces raided several homes in Gaza and detained members of the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the PFLP said.

The raid took place as fighters and supporters of the PFLP commemorated the 12th anniversary of Abu Ali Mustafa's death in 2001.

Mustafa was killed by two rockets fired at his office in Ramallah by Israeli helicopters. more

US dept of education dismisses Jewish students' complaint against UC Berkeley anti-Israel protests

Protests on campus against Israel's treatment of Palestinians 'do not constitute actionable harassment,' the Department of Education concludes.

The U.S. Department of Education has dismissed Jewish students' contentions that anti-Israel protests at UC Berkeley created an illegally hostile and anti-Semitic atmosphere on that campus.

The department's civil rights office has determined that the campus protests last year against Israel's treatment of Palestinians, which reportedly included mock military checkpoints, may be upsetting to Jews but "do not constitute actionable harassment," according to a letter from the department released by the University of California on Tuesday.

The year-long investigation is now ending, the department said.

"In the university environment, exposure to such robust and discordant expressions, even when personally offensive and hurtful, is a circumstance that a reasonable student in higher education may experience," the department wrote.

The federal investigation also looked into other incidents, including the defacement of a sign of a Jewish student organization, and found there was not enough evidence to support claims that UC should have responded more forcefully.

The probe was in response to charges filed last year by two recent UC Berkeley graduates, who said that the protest and other events stoked anti-Semitism and that the school did nothing to deter it. The complaint went so far as to allege that campus atmosphere echoed that of Nazi-dominated Europe before and during the Holocaust.

A federal judge had dismissed similar allegations by the same students the year before and ruled that the anti-Israel protests constituted free speech. more

Palestinian Authority ministry sends medical supplies to Gaza

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority ministry of health on Wednesday sent a medical aid convoy worth 3 million shekels ($818,577) to Gaza.

"It's expected that the convoy will arrive Thursday morning and the ministry will not hesitate to provide Gaza with all the medicines they need," caretaker Palestinian Authority prime minister Rami Hamdallah said while touring a health center in Ramallah.

The PA is dedicated to helping Gazan families in need, Hamdallah said.

The medical envoy will include equipment and medicine. more

Medics: Israeli troops shoot, injure Palestinian worker

HEBRON (Ma’an) – Israeli troops shot and injured a young Palestinian man near al-Ramadin village south of Hebron while he was headed to work in Israel, a Red Crescent official.

According to Nasser Qabaja of the Palestinian Red Crescent Association, the victim was evacuated in an ambulance to a public hospital in Hebron after he was shot in the foot near al-Ramadin.

Medics in the hospital identified the victim as Ismail Hirzallah Mahariq, 20. more

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Palestinian hunger strikers in serious condition

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) The health of two Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike is rapidly deteriorating, lawyers from the Palestinian Authority ministry of prisoners said Tuesday.

Lawyer Hanin al-Khatib told Ma'an that Abed al-Majid Khdeirat is suffering from a kidney infection, breathing problems, and severe back pain.

Israeli prison guards punished Khdeirat by not allowing any visits for 6 months and banned him from buying anything at the prison canteen.

Guards are always using psychological intimidation to force him to end his hunger strike, his lawyer said. He has lost 27 kilograms since beginning his strike action on July 1.

Khdeirat, 45, is from Tubas and works in the PA national security forces. He spent 11 years in an Israeli jail before being released in the Shalit swap deal.

He was rearrested in May. more

UNRWA condemns killing of staff member in Qalandia

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees on Monday condemned the killing of one of its workers by Israeli forces in Qalandia refugee camp.

"UNRWA deeply regrets to confirm that one of its staff members, a 34-year-old father of four, was shot dead by Israeli forces and killed instantly in an operation in Qalandia refugee camp in the occupied West Bank at approximately seven o'clock this morning," a statement read.

"Credible reports say that he was on his way to work and was not engaged in any violent activity. He was shot in the chest," it added.

Another UNRWA staff member was shot in the leg during the incident and is said to be in a stable condition.

Israeli forces killed three Palestinians in the camp early Monday during an arrest operation. At least 19 people were injured, six critically. more

Hackers hit Google Palestine and defaced the pront Page

A team of hackers successfully broke into Google Palestine on Monday, covering the home page with protest literature. "Uncle google," wrote Cold z3ro, Haml3t, Sas and Dr@g, "we say hi from palestine to remember you that the country in google map not called israel. its called Palestine."

A little further down the real message comes through: "# Question : what would happen if we changed the country title of Isreal to Palestine in google maps !!! it would be a revolution." Then this is weird: "So listen to rihanna and be cool :P"

It's actually kind of an interesting question. Google's had a Palestinian domain since 2009 that's now called "Google Palestine," not "Google Palestinian Territories." But on Maps, the borders of Palestine are there, but there is no name. It seems a little bit inconsistent for Google to recognize Palestine with its own portal but fail to name it on the map. It's also unclear if the hackers want all of Israel labelled as Palestine or just the unmarked area.

Either way, it's kind of impressive that the hackers managed to take over Google homepage. more

Monday, 26 August 2013

Why is a BBC journalist on an expenses-paid propaganda junket to Israel?

Dozens of young journalists, including at least one working for the BBC, are in Israel this week for a government-backed junket designed to give them “a more positive attitude” toward Israel’s policies.

The journalists are attending the Media in Conflicts Seminar (MICS) at the Interdisciplinary Center at Herzliya (IDC Herzliya).

Now in its fifth year, the seminar is the brainchild of the advocacy group StandWithUs.

The Media in Conflicts Seminar is “hasbara for foreign media personnel, diplomats and youth from all over the world,” according to the website of Israel’s Ministry for Public Diplomacy (which was recently absorbed into the prime minister’s office).

Hasbara is a Hebrew word that literally translates as “explaining” but is used specifically to describe government propaganda and outreach efforts to gain support for Israel’s policies.

According to the ministry, the Media in Conflicts Seminar specifically targets non-Jewish Europeans. more

Gaza families visit relatives jailed in Israel

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A group of 94 Gaza residents visited their relatives in Israel's Nafta prison on Monday, the International Committee for the Red Cross said.

ICRC spokesman Nasser al-Najjar told Ma'an that 94 family members, including 22 children, left Gaza via the Beit Hanoun, or Erez, crossing to visit 48 jailed relatives in Israel.

Israel banned visits to all prisoners from Gaza in 2007 to pressure Hamas to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was freed in October 2011.

Prison visits were reinstated after a mass hunger strike in Israeli jails. more

Israeli forces kill 3 Palestinians in Qalandia camp

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli undercover forces killed three Palestinians overnight Sunday in Qalandia refugee camp in Ramallah, locals said.

Robin al-Abed, 32, was shot in the chest and died instantly, medics said. Younis Jihad Abu al-Sheikh Jahjouh, 22, was also shot dead.

Jihad Asslan, 20, died Monday morning from his injuries after being pronounced brain dead at a Ramallah hospital.

All three men were killed when Israeli forces opened fire on a crowd during clashes with camp residents following an arrest raid.

At least 15 Palestinians were injured by live fire, with six said to be in a critical condition. Most of the injured were shot in the head, chest and upper body, medics said.

Mohammad Abed Badran, Mohammad Mteir, Abdo Mteir, Ali Adawi, and Samer al-Mansour were identified as some of those wounded.

Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli forces dressed in civilian clothes raided the camp at around 5 a.m. and arrested recently released prisoner Yousef al-Khatib, who had spent 10 years in an Israeli jail. more

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Arab Idol winner Mohammed Assaf: ‘I have a goal and it’s not fame, I want to influence people’

Since winning Arab Idol last June, Mohammed Assaf's life has been a whirlwind, from adoring fans in Gaza, Ramallah, Amman and Dubai, to concerts everywhere. He has been the positive story of the summer in the Arab world, a summer that has seen drastic changes in Egypt, Syria and many places.

Enass Tinah sat with Assaf in his Grand Park hotel suit in Ramallah, for an exclusive interview with Mondoweiss. We talked about his vision of his future career, how he sees the role of music and singing in a social frame, Netanyahu's complaint about his song Ya Tir Ya Tayer, and many more matters. Assaf seemed aware of the responsibilities he carries not just as a popular winner of Arab Idol, he is aware that there are hopes and dreams built on his story and success, both musically as an extraordinary talent with a golden voice, and as a Palestinian whose message has affected not just Palestinians and Arabs, but a global audience as well.

Tinah: In one of Martin Luther King's speeches he said “As long as the mind is enslaved, the body can never be free." He referenced psychological freedom and self-esteem as "the most powerful weapon" against physical oppression/slavery. Assuming he is correct, how do you think art and beauty strengthens that weapon? Where do you see the role of art and music in giving freedom for the oppressed human under oppression and injustice?

Assaf: From more than one side, look at the Palestinian people, they have been suffering under occupation for more than 60 years, but despite all the suffering and the pain, they do feel happiness. People get married, they have weddings, they celebrate graduations, people are living normally like anybody else, like someone living in Britain. There are differences of course, they are under pressures. The secret in the Palestinian people, is that despite their ordeals and suffering, they can celebrate any place and at any time.

Tinah: But how do you see art, music, poetry. How can they help us?

Assaf: They do help us, music is essential, the music for little children before they go to sleep, it’s calming for them. Music is something that changes the world, it prompts yearning and longing, love, so many noble things. Music is a noble message that reaches people’s heart faster than anything else.

Tinah: Phil Weiss wrote on Mondoweiss, “His career, we can only hope, will be as a singer for the world, not just for Palestine." He didn’t use the words 'a global star', he said artist of the world. If he chose the right path, he could be a singer for the world, his message will not only reach the Palestinians or the Arab people, it could reach other nations who are suffering. What do you feel about this, can you deliver Arabic music and culture to non-Arabs?

Assaf: Of course. First, these days singing in many accents and languages is not an easy thing maybe, for me. But if I work on it I can improve myself, I can actually sing in different accents, this is one thing. Second thing, music and singing I want to tell him is not about music videos, people dancing, fame, lights and stardom; art should be a message; this is what it is basically. You can use it in any pathway you feel suitable. You can change things, you can help a cause. Songs are not just for love, you can talk about women issues in the Arab world, I am not talking in general terms, but specific issues, like the right of women to inherit, her right to work. Even these issues can be put in songs; you can try and solve problems. more

Call to action: Join ISM for the 2013 Olive Harvest Campaign

At a time of regular settler violence in the West Bank, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is issuing an urgent call for volunteers to join us for the 2013 Olive Harvest Campaign at the invitation of Palestinian communities.

The olive tree is a national symbol for Palestinians. As thousands of olive trees have been bulldozed, uprooted, burned and destroyed by Israeli settlers and the military – according to the UN settlers alone destroyed or damaged over 7,500 trees just in 2012 – harvesting has become more than a source of livelihood; it has become a form of resistance.

The olive harvest is an annual affirmation of Palestinians’ historical, spiritual, and economic connection to their land, and a rejection of Israeli efforts to seize it. Despite attempts by Israeli settlers and soldiers to prevent them from accessing their land, Palestinian communities have remained steadfast in refusing to give up their olive harvest.

ISM volunteers join Palestinian farming communities each year to harvest olives, in areas where Palestinians face settler and military violence when working their land. Your presence can make a big difference, with Palestinian communities stating that the presence of international volunteers reduces the risk of extreme violence from Israeli settlers and the Israeli army.

We support Palestinians’ assertion of their right to earn their livelihoods and be present on their lands. International solidarity activists engage in non-violent intervention and documentation, practical support which enables many families to pick their olives.


The ISM will be holding mandatory two day training sessions which will run weekly on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Please see the join ISM page or contact for further information.

In addition to the Olive Harvest Campaign, volunteers can also participate in regular ISM activities in support of the Palestinian popular struggle.

Join us in our solidarity with the Palestinian resistance at this crucial time of year! more

Video: Gaza - The economy under the siege. Interview with head of PCHR economic unit

Khalil S. Shaheen, Head of the Economic Unit at the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, talks about the Gaza economy under the siege, how the occupation and the siege affect directly the economy, and therefore the development of the oppressed Palestinian people, denying them the right to develop and have normal lives as human beings.

Afropop star Salif Keita cancels Israel gig after boycott calls

World-renowned Afropop sensation Salif Keita has canceled a scheduled performance in occupied Jerusalem following a campaign by Palestine solidarity activists.

Keita claims he canceled due to “threats”.

The Israeli producers of the Jerusalem Festival of Sacred Music announced on their official Facebook page today:
Salif Keita canceled his participation in the Jerusalem Festival of Sacred Music. A few hours before his departure for Jerusalem the Malian musician Salif Keita decided to heed the demands of the cultural boycott of Israel and to cancel his participation in the closing concert of the festival.
Israel’s Ynet also reported the statement in Hebrew today.

Keita, known as the “Golden Voice of Africa,” took the step following appeals including a letter from Farid Esack, an active member of BDS South Africa and veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle, and Campagne BDS France, among others. more

Jenin man shot by Israeli forces needs spinal surgery

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A man shot on Tuesday by Israeli forces is due to undergo spinal surgery, his relatives say.

Ala Abu Khalifa was critically wounded this week after being shot during an Israeli arrest raid in Jenin refugee camp. He was hit by a dumdum bullet which caused severe damage to his spinal cord, his mother told Ma'an.

He has lost all feeling in his lower body since the injury and has already undergone two operations on his colon and pelvis, she added.

Karim Sbeih, who was critically wounded by Israeli forces during the same incident, has had part of his kidneys, colon, lungs and liver removed, his brother told Ma'an. more


Saturday, 24 August 2013

Ministry: Jailed Gaza engineer transferred to hospital

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Israeli Prison Service has transferred Dirar Abu Sisi, an engineer from Gaza who was abducted in Ukraine, to Ramle prison clinic, the PA ministry of prisoners' affairs said Saturday.

Ministry lawyer Rami al-Alami said Abu Sisi suffered from health problems in his heart, kidney, gallbladder and eyes.

Raafat Hamdona, director of the Gaza prisoner center, told AFP that Abu Sisi began a hunger strike on Aug. 16 to demand his release from solitary imprisonment and be allowed visits of members of his family from Gaza.

Israeli Prison Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said Thursday that Abu Sisi had begun a hunger strike three days earlier and that "all his personal items and electric appliances were removed from his cell, except for a fan." more

Official: Rafah crossing to operate 4 hours daily

EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities will open the Rafah crossing on the border with Gaza for four hours daily from Saturday, an official said.

Sami Mitwalli, director of the Egyptian side of the terminal, said the crossing would open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Mitwalli told Ma'an that around 150 Palestinians were waiting on the Egyptian side of the border to return to the Gaza Strip, and several buses of passengers were waiting in Gaza to enter Egypt.

Egypt announced it was closing the Rafah crossing "indefinitely" on Aug. 15 for security reasons after deadly violence nationwide.

The crossing is the only way most Palestinians in Gaza can enter or leave the territory. Israel imposes an air and sea blockade on the enclave, and its border is closed to Palestinians. more

Friday, 23 August 2013

Archaeologists race against time and turmoil to save Gaza's ancient ruins

ST. HILARION, Gaza Strip — The ruins of this ancient complex sit on dunes by the sea, a world away from Gaza City's noise and bustle. Up in the sky, birds compete for space with children's kites flying from a nearby farm.

St. Hilarion's Monastery, a reminder of the time in late antiquity when Christianity was the dominant faith in what is now the Gaza Strip, is one of many archaeological treasures scattered across this coastal territory.

But Gaza is one of the most crowded places on earth, and the rapid spread of its urban sprawl is endangering sites spanning 4,500 years, from Bronze Age ramparts to colorful Byzantine mosaics, experts say.

Archaeologists, short of funds and unable to find sufficient trained local staff, say they are scrambling to find and protect the monuments. Some are left open to the weather. Others are engulfed by new development projects.

"Archaeology in Gaza is everywhere," says French archaeologist Jean-Baptiste Humbert, who excavated in the territory from 1995 to 2005. He says it was once a "very rich oasis, with gardens, cities and you have settlements, dwellings, fortresses, cities everywhere, everywhere." more

Hamas: Egypt trained 'Tamarod' members in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egyptian intelligence and security services trained members of a group calling itself "Tamarod Gaza," a senior Hamas official charged Friday.

In a video released Sunday, masked activists read a statement by "Tamarod Gaza" calling for protests across the enclave on Nov. 11 to overthrow Hamas.

On Nov. 11, all "tyrannies and oppression practiced by the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza" will come to an end, according to the statement.

The Egyptian Tamarod movement is a protest group that organized opposition to the rule of president Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader who was deposed on July 3.

Hamas' Yahya Mousa told the Lebanese newspaper El-Nashra that Tamarod had centers in the West Bank and Gaza and that its members were trained by Egyptian intelligence and security services.

Hamas security services have detained members of the group in Gaza and they are being interrogated, Mousa added. more

Israeli forces attack Lebanon with airstrikes near Beirut

An Israeli army spokesperson stated that the Israeli Air Force bombarded, on Friday [August 23, 2013] a target in Lebanon “in retaliation to a missile attack close to the border on Thursday”, and added that the Israeli bombardment targeted a location between Beirut and Saida (Sindon). In its press release, the army said that it bombarded what it described as a “terrorist location”, and that the Israeli fighter jets managed to achieve their mission. It added that the shelling comes in retaliation to four missiles fired from Lebanon.

The official Lebanese National News Agency has reported that the attack targeted a center for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General command (PFLP-GC).

“The Israeli enemy bombarded a PFLP-GC center in Wadi An-Na’ma, south of Beirut”, the agency said, The PFLP-GC is known for its support to Syria’s President, Bashar Assad.

In related news, the Israeli Army said that the four missile that were fired into the country hit residential area causing damage but no injuries. more

Egypt to reopen Rafah crossing to Gaza: Hamas

Egypt is set to reopen the Rafah crossing, a Hamas official said on Thursday, a week after Cairo closed down the Gaza Strip's only land passage that bypasses Israel.

"The Rafah crossing will reopen this Saturday for four hours daily, for humanitarian cases and Palestinians with foreign nationalities," Maher Abu Sabha, director general of border crossing for the Islamist Hamas government, said in a statement.

Egypt had "indefinitely" closed the Rafah crossing from the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave on August 15, citing security reasons behind the move a day after deadly violence nationwide.

The closure had left hundreds of Palestinians stranded on both sides. more

War games and settlement excursions: inside a pro-Israel propaganda tour for student activists

“‘TERRORIST! GO! BODY!’ I’m sprinting across the rocky terrain to reach safety...Heart racing, out of breath, I’m trying to remember the instructor’s commands. Muscle memory, no time to aim, hurry, hurry...”

So begins one California college student’s first-hand account of a June 2013 “commando tourism” paintball session at Caliber 3, a privately-owned counter-terrorism training facility in the illegal Israeli settlement bloc of Gush Etzion. The student, identified only as “JJL”, was on a ten-day BlueStar Fellows summer tour of Israel, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights with twenty-three peers from five California universities. The trip was part of a year-long program launched by San Francisco-based Israel advocacy group BlueStar PR with the goal of molding students into “powerful pro-Israel advocates, spokespeople and opinion leaders” on their college campuses.

In over fifty entries on the BlueStar Fellows program blog (penned with the assistance of a writing coach) participants from UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, San Francisco State, San Jose State, and Pitzer College reflect on a trip itinerary that often glorifies Israeli state violence while promoting a dehumanized image of Palestinians. The accounts provide insight into the sensational approach to the conflict pushed by some hardline Israel advocacy groups, and raise questions about the impact of their tactics in the battle for the hearts and minds of US college students.more

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Occupation releases Abu Daoud and deports him to Gaza

GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian liberated prisoner Ayman Abu Daoud arrived on Thursday morning to the Gaza Strip through Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing, after being deported from the West Bank.

Abu Daoud, aged 31 from the city of al-Khalil in the southern West Bank, was released and deported to Gaza, after a deal with the Israeli authorities to end his 40-day hunger strike

Ayman ended his hunger strike in May. He served three months in the Israeli jails then he was deported to the Gaza Strip where he will spend ten years.

Wa'ed Society for Detainees and Ex-detainees told PIC's correspondent that Abu Daoud arrived to the Strip and will undergo medical examination to check on his health condition.

Abu Daoud was freed in a prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas in 2011, but Israel rearrested him in October 2012. more

Masked men attack journalist in Gaza

Media sources in Gaza has reported that a number of young masked men, apparently unarmed, attacked a Palestinian journalist in Gaza City, the Palestine News Network (PNN) has reported.

The sources said that the masked men attacked Ahmad Al-Fayyoumi in Al-Rimal Street, close to the Al-Yarmouk playground, and violently beat him.

The masked men also stole the mobile phone of Al- Fayyoumi, and his laptop before fleeing the area. Al-Fayyoumi works for the Slab News Agency, a daily paper based in Beirut, Lebanon. more

PLO threatens to sue Israel in international courts over settlements

BEIT JALA (AFP) -- A top PLO official threatened Wednesday to sue Israel through international bodies if it continues expanding settlements in the occupied territories, warning it was an issue that could torpedo fledgling peace talks.

"These are not just dots on a map," PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi said of more than 2,000 new settler homes which were approved for construction ahead of a resumption of peace negotiations late last month.

"These are wilful and destructive measures to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state.

"If Israel carries out these plans ... we will be forced to (have) recourse to international judicial processes through international institutions," she told reporters near the settlement neighborhood of Gilo, south of Jerusalem, where many of the new units are to be built. more

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Two Palestinians injured by Isaeli army fire in northern Gaza

Palestinian medical sources reported on Tuesday evening [August 20, 2013] that two young Palestinian men have been shot and injured by Israeli military fire east of Jabalia town, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

The sources said that the two, 18 and 19 years of age, were moved to the Kamal Adwan Hospital, suffered moderate injuries, after being shot in the legs.

The latest attack is another violation to the ceasefire agreement, mediated by Egypt and a number of international countries, between Israel and the resistance in Gaza.

On Tuesday evening [August 13, 2013], Palestinian medical sources have reported that three fishermen have been detained, and violently attacked by Israeli soldiers, in Palestinian territorial waters, resulting in moderate injuries. more

Video: Mark McGowan's 'Gaza is a massacre' (explicit) tells the truth

And here's a link to the story in the 'outraged' right-wing British newspaper the Daily Mail:
Meet the outrageous 'taxi driver' who's a YouTube hit with his outspoken rants about God, Gaza and the NHS

Trade unions in Gaza organize vigil in solidarity with Egyptian people

GAZA, NAZARETH, (PIC)-- Palestinian trade unions on Monday organized a vigil in solidarity with the Egyptian people, in front of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Gaza.

Dozens of trade unionists participated in the vigil and raised banners demanding halting the killing and arrests of the Egyptian demonstrators, opening the Rafah crossing and lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

A statement by the Palestinian trade unions said: "We express our support to the demands of the Egyptian people who are demanding their legitimate rights to freedom and dignity of life, and we condemn all forms of violence, terrorism and gagging which the demonstrators in Egypt are exposed to."

It also rejected the false accusations and the unjustified propaganda that incite against the people of Gaza in some Egyptian official media, and which resulted in tightening the siege on the people of Gaza.

Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post newspaper revealed that the Israeli ambassadors to Washington, London, Paris, Berlin, Brussels and other capitals will be lobbying foreign ministers to support the coup in Egypt, "at the same time, leaders will press the case with diplomats from abroad that the military is the only hope to prevent further chaos in Cairo." more

Settlement guidelines block Ahava participation in EU-funded research project

European Union (EU) guidelines on Israeli settlements have nixed the cosmetics company Ahava’s participation in a research project. The profitable Israeli firm will no longer receive EU funding because its main factory is located in an settlement near the Dead Sea.

Ahava won’t obtain $8.25 million in EU cash it was expecting for a skin care project because of new rules on settlements scheduled to go into effect in 2014, according to a report by Bloomberg’s Jonathan Ferziger & David Wainer. The SuperFlex project was meant to create skin care products for the elderly, and two-thirds of the funding for the project came from the EU. It was set to begin next month.

In July 2013, the European Union announced that “grants, prizes or financial instruments” will not be given to Israeli entities in the West Bank. The guidelines are only binding on the EU, though, and not on member states. While the economic impact of the rules are limited, and occupation critics point out that the whole Israeli economy is tied to the settlements, Ahava is one company that will feel the heat from the EU policy.

In a statement to Bloomberg, though, Ahava said that “the EU’s decision does not concern Ahava.” more

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Witnesses: Israeli navy fires at Gaza fishing boats

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israel's navy opened fire at Palestinian fishermen off the northern coast of Gaza on Tuesday, witnesses said.

Israeli ships fired several shells at the boats, who were fishing near Gaza City, causing material damage.

No injuries were reported.

On Monday, Israeli naval forces confiscated three fishing boats, and a day earlier detained three men swimming in what was deemed a "suspicious" area.

In May, the Israeli government re-extended Gaza's fishing zone to six miles, after reducing it in March following a rocket attack from the coastal territory. more

No reward for Palestinian who hacked Zuckerberg Facebook page

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) -- A researcher who hacked into Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg's profile to expose a security flaw won't get the customary reward payment from the social network.

While Facebook offers rewards for those who find security holes, it seems that Palestinian researcher Khalil Shreateh went too far by posting the information on Zuckerberg's own profile page.

Shreateh said on his blog he found a way for Facebook users to circumvent security and modify a user's timeline.

He said he took the unusual step of hacking into Zuckerberg's profile after being ignored by the Facebook security team.

"So i did post to Mark Zuckerberg's timeline , as those pictures shows," he said, including screen shots of the posting.

"Dear Mark Zuckerberg," he wrote."First sorry for breaking your privacy and post to your wall, i had no other choice to make after all the reports i sent to Facebook team. My name is KHALIL from Palestine."

His reward for exposing the flaw was having his Facebook account disabled. more

Israeli soldiers shoot, kill man in Jenin camp

JENIN (Ma'an) -- A man was killed and two others injured in clashes early Tuesday between locals and Israeli forces in Jenin refugee camp.

Majd Mohammad Anis Lahlouh, 22, was shot directly in the heart by Israeli soldiers, witnesses said. Karim Sbeih and Alah Abu Khalifa, both in their twenties, were critically wounded.

One was shot in the bladder and the other was hit by a dumdum bullet in the chest.

Israeli forces raided the Jenin camp at 3 a.m. and broke into the home of Islamic Jihad leader Bassam al-Saedi.

Clashes broke out with camp residents, who threw empty bottles and stones at Israeli soldiers, who responded with live fire, tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets.

The body of Majd Mohammad Anis Lahlouhwas transferred to Jenin hospital. more

Monday, 19 August 2013

Hamas insists on reconciliation agreement as a whole package

Delegations from the Palestinian Islamic Movement, Hamas, and Palestinian Liberation Movement, Fatah, met in the Gaza Strip on Sunday and discussed several issues regarding internal reconciliation.

The Fatah delegation suggested the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections, as well as elections for the Palestinian National Council. Hamas refuted this suggestion and insisting that all previously agreed to terms had to be carried out as one package.

In a meeting of both the movements on May 14 in Cairo, they had agreed to carry out previous agreements on reconciliation within three months, this agreement ended on August 14.

Hamas spokesman, Sami abu-Zuhri, said that Fatah had requested the meeting on Sunday. He said that his movement insisted that carrying out the terms of the agreement was the only measure that would guarantee ending the Palestinians divisions.

Abu-Zuhri also said that Fatah had proposed holding elections and confirmed that Hamas said that elections would be the last part of the agreement to be implemented as fulfilment of the other terms would prepare the situation for elections. more

New youth movement aims to challenge Hamas rule in Gaza

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – A newly announced Palestinian youth movement, said to be based in the Gaza Strip, released a statement and a video Sunday calling on all residents of Gaza to protest on Nov. 11.

They urged protests against rivalries, exclusion, single-handedness, injustice, oppression and the violation of the inalienable rights of the people of Gaza.

“We can’t remain silent any more, and those who count on our defeat are mistaken losers, while those who count on our tolerance should know that tolerance could come to an end,” a masked activist read on behalf of a new movement identified as “rebel against injustice.”

Nov. 11, 2013 is the “desired day”, added the statement, which highlighted that on that day all “tyrannies and oppression practiced by the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza” will come to an end. “They have practiced fraud in the name of religion and resistance declaring themselves as believers while they labeled us as disbelievers.”

The statement accused Hamas in Gaza of shedding Palestinian blood “for the sake of murder only” as well as torturing and humiliating people through their daily practices in Gaza. more

Sailing from Gaza to break the blockade

A new mission vows to challenge the blockade of Gaza by sea following Freedom Flotilla efforts since 2010, and Free Gaza missions preceding Cast-Lead in 2008. Not a Gaza-bound aid convoy this time.

With a crew of Palestinians and international activists on board, Gaza’s Ark will sail from the port of Gaza, carrying Palestinian products to buyers around the world, to defy Israel’s illegal and inhuman blockade.

Gaza’s Ark is rebuilding a cargo vessel that will attempt to open the sea to Palestinian exports to show to the outside world that Palestine is a productive land, while drawing public attention on the 7-year blockade.

Because nearly all previous attempts to reach Gaza were blocked by the Israeli navy, and given Israel-imposed three mile limit from the Gazan coast, campaigners are well aware that Israeli forces will hardly let any boat leave Gaza port.

David Heap, French-language and linguistics associate professor at the University of Western Ontario, is a spokesperson for Gaza’s Ark. He talked about the new solidarity initiative.

How did the idea of Gaza’s Ark come about?

D.H: After the last flotilla sailing I was involved in with other members, we realised we obviously need to carry on our work, trying to think of ways to continue direct action. Not just talking about the siege, but acting directly against the siege to change the premises of it. more

Israel backs Egypt's bloody counter revolution

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel and the West must support Egypt's army, an Israeli official said Monday, after 25 Egyptian policemen were killed in an attack in the Sinai bordering Israel.

The unnamed official's comments in an Israeli daily came a day after a New York Times report that Israel would press Western powers to support the military in unrest-swept Egypt.

By "not taking things away from them (the army), not harming or threatening them," the US and EU could help Egypt "get back on track," the Jerusalem Post quoted the official as saying.

"The name of the game right now is not democracy," he added.

"The name of the game is that there needs to be a functioning state. After you put Egypt back on track, then (you can) talk about restarting the democratic process there."

Egypt's unrest has heightened Israeli concern, especially due to Islamist violence in the increasingly lawless Sinai Peninsula, which borders both Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Israel and Egypt, which in 1979 became the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel, coordinate closely on military activity in the Sinai. more

Army invades Aida refugee camp In Bethlehem

Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, and clashes with dozens of local youths, local sources have reported.

The sources said that dozens of youths hurled stones and empty bottles at the invading soldiers, and that the army fired gas bombs, and rubber-coated metal bullets; no injuries have been reported, the Palestine News Network (PNN) has reported.

The soldiers withdrew from the refugee camp later on without conducting any arrests.

In related news, Israeli media sources have reported that two Molotov cocktails were hurled at an Israeli settler’s vehicles driving on settler road #60, near the Al-Khader town, west of Bethlehem. more

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Video: Soldiers violently attack and arrest peaceful protesters in Al-Masara

Yesterday, the 16th August, four people were violently arrested at a peaceful demonstration taking place near the village of Al-Masara, on the outskirts of Hebron (Al Khalil). Around sixty demonstrators calling for the dismantlement of illegal Israeli settlements upon Palestinian land were attacked immediately. Although the protesters had planned to go to the Gush Etzion illegal settlement bloc, to once again construct the Canaan protest village, they were prevented as the protest was disbanded by Israeli soldiers within minutes. Those who had been arrested were later released.

At around 11.30am the procession began, with many people waving flags and calling chants for freedom. An Israeli military vehicle drove by, immediately turned around and blocked the road. Within two minutes two more military jeeps and one police car had joined the blockade. Heavily armed soldiers stormed the procession, splitting the group into two and beating protesters to the ground. The soldiers pushed protesters back and formed a wall of plastic shields. Four men including two Palestinian and two international protesters were arrested.

One of the arrested men, Abed, was holding a camera and documenting the demonstration when he was violently grabbed and pushed by an Israel soldier. Abed shouted at the soldier to let go of his arm and tried to pull away from the soldiers grasp. The soldier responded by strangling and arresting him. Another protester, Muad Al-lahham, was arrested while calmly waving a Palestinian flag. more

Two Canadians, Tarek Loubani and John Greyson en route to Gaza, arrested in Egypt

Two Canadians, doctor Tarek Loubani and filmmaker John Greyson, were arrested by Egyptian police yesterday in Cairo. They were en route to the Gaza Strip, where they are working on an academic and medical collaboration between the University of Western Ontario (UWO) and the main hospital in the Gaza Strip, the al-Shifa hospital.

Tarek Loubani is an emergency room medical doctor at the UWO and one of the architects of the Canada-Gaza academic collaboration, a project that has brought doctors from UWO to Gaza to train physicians in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS). John Greyson is a professor at the Department of Film at York University and an award-winning film-maker. He is in the initial stages of working on a film to be produced in the region.

They arrived in Cairo on August 15 with the intention of traveling to Gaza immediately. Given the volatile situation in Egypt, travel to the border with Gaza was problematic and they delayed their travel plan. Not having heard from them, we do not know full details, but it is possible (though unconfirmed) that as an experienced field physician, Tarek tried to volunteer his skills as an emergency physician. It is also possible that John, as a prominent and socially conscious film-maker, sought to accompany Tarek and observe these historic developments in Egypt. We know that on Friday at 4pm Toronto time (10pm Cairo time), Tarek called his primary contact in Canada with the very short message: "we are being arrested by Egyptian police". Since then, we have had no contact with either Tarek or John. more

Gazans unable to enter Egypt at Rafah despite military's 'reopening'

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Palestinians are not being allowed to cross into Egypt via the Rafah crossing, a Hamas official said Sunday.

Maher Abu Sabha, general director of the ministry of interior in Gaza, told Ma'an that the Rafah crossing was open on Saturday, but no passengers from Gaza were allowed to cross over.

"The Egyptian side asked us to allow only one bus to enter and we prepared it and sent it to the Egyptian side, however, no passengers were allowed before 2 p.m and after, 50 travelers were allowed into Gaza, but no Palestinians were allowed into Egypt at all," he said.

There has been no information about whether the crossing will be open on Sunday, he added.

On Saturday Egypt "reopened the Rafah crossing to allow through international travelers" who hold foreign passports and "humanitarian cases," Gaza's interior ministry said. more

Three swimming Palestinians arrested off Gaza shores

Gaza- Israeli navy arrested Saturday morning three Palestinians swimming in the sea of ​​Gaza.

The Hebrew radio reported “a ship has spotted three suspects off the coast of the Gaza Strip as they entered the Israeli waters,”

It stated that the three were arrested, noting that they have been subject to interrogation. more