Monday, 30 September 2013

Army kills a Palestinian, injures another in northern Gaza

Monday at night [September 30, 2013] Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian man, injured and kidnapped another, near the border fence, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli media sources said that the soldiers opened fire at two Palestinians who approached the border fence, and attempted to cut a hole in it before the army chased them.

The sources added that the army did not mention anything about whether the Palestinians carried any weapons or explosives, an issue that indicates they might have been trying to enter Israeli territory searching for work.

Israeli Ynet News has reported that the army initiated an investigation into the incident, under the assumption that the two “might have been trying to plant an explosive in the area”. After searching the area, the army could not locate any explosives or weapons. more

SodaStream: the Israeli-run shop dividing Brighton

When SodaStream was looking for somewhere to open the UK's first EcoStream store, dispensing ethically sourced food, drink and cleaning products into customers' own bottles and jars, Brighton must have seemed the obvious place. The city is famous, after all, for ethical consumption of all kinds, and elected Britain's first and only Green MP.

What they may not have considered, however, is that Brighton is also the kind of place where people know that SodaStream's headquarters are in Israel, and that their factory at Mishor Adumim is built on illegally occupied West Bank land. As a result, every Saturday afternoon for more than a year now, the shoppers on Western Road have been able to witness an ethical-consuming protest against an ethical-consuming shop – and latterly a protest against that protest too, from pro-Israel activists including Julie Burchill and Chelsea Fox, a drag artist who likes to dress up as Grace Jones.

From a distance, the combined fluttering of their large Israeli and Palestinian flags looks like a statement of unity, but this is an uneasy standoff. There have already been arrests and prosecutions. "SodaStream likes to portray itself as an ethical company, environmentally," says Russell from the Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign (BHSPC), which began the protests. "But there is, shall we say, an irony in a so-called ethical company operating out of illegal settlements." Those on the pro-Israel side, needless to say, don't agree. "The allegations they make about the shop are complete lies," says Daniel Laurence Matthews. "A lot of people passing say: 'It's about time. It's good to see someone standing up for Israel.'" more

Israel declares destroyed Palestinian village closed military zone

Monday at dawn [September 30 2013] Israeli soldiers declared Khirbit Makhoul area, in the West Bank’s Northern Plains, a closed military zone. The Bedouin village was destroyed for the third time on September 19.

Head of the Wadi Al-Maleh Village council, in the Jordan Valley, Aref Daraghma, stated that the soldiers declared the village a closed military zone after surrounding it.

He told the Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) that dozens of soldiers were deployed around the devastated village in an attempt to prevent residents, international activists, and journalists from reaching it. Ongoing Displacement

Israel does not recognize dozens of small villages, Bedouin tribes, in the Northern Plains areas of the West Bank, and near occupied East Jerusalem, as well as near Hebron and other areas.

With no services, no recognition from the occupation, those villages have been repeatedly demolished, and removed, and the residents are frequently displaced due to Israel’s ongoing violations.

Bedouin villages in the Negev are also subject to such frequent attacks and violations, as dozens of small villages have been uprooted and demolished, some tribes have been displaced and their shelters removed hundreds of times.

Hundreds of similar attacks targeted Bedouins in the Negev, who live in villages unrecognized by Israel, and are subject to frequent displacement and ongoing assaults. more

Stranded travelers storm Gaza crossing

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Stranded travelers tried to storm through the gates of Gaza's Rafah crossing on the Egyptian border on Sunday to protest delays at the terminal.

Travelers including students denounced Egypt's closure of the crossing and demanded that they be allowed to travel in order to reach their destinations throughout the world.

The Gaza ministry of interior said around 5,000 people were stranded on the Palestinian side.

Egyptian authorities partially reopened the Rafah crossing on Sunday for the second day in a row to allow humanitarian cases to cross. Some 370 people managed to cross. more

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Grenada, Haiti recognize the State of Palestine

NEW YORK (Ma'an) -- Grenada and Haiti have officially recognized the State of Palestine in a ceremony held at the United Nations headquarters in New York City on Friday, Palestinian Authority Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad al-Maliki said.

Al-Malki signed separate agreements to establish diplomatic relations with his Grenadian and Haitian counterparts. The agreement means that the states will exchange ambassadors.

"This recognition highlights the collective international approval of Palestinian rights," said al-Maliki.

"It is a new success for Palestinian diplomacy," he added. more

Egypt deports 9 Palestinians to Gaza

EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities deported nine Palestinians to the Gaza Strip on Sunday, security officials said.

The nine men had entered Egypt illegally through smuggling tunnels and were deported back to Gaza via the Rafah crossing. more

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Video: Vicious settler attack leaves 15-year-old in need of hospitalisation

Home of the Abu Rajab family occupied by settlers

On 24 September a mob of Israeli settlers invaded the roof of a Palestinian family in Hebron, attacked several Palestinians and international activists and beat a 15-year-old unconscious, leading to hospitalisation.

At approximately 5pm a group of Israeli settlers and Jewish tourists entered the roof of the Abu Shamsiyeh family without permission after they had already tried to force their way into another family’s house in the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood. After international activists confronted the invading group and insisted that nearby soldiers remove the trespassers, they eventually left the roof but continued to verbally harass Palestinians and internationals present.

The verbal harassment quickly turned into a vicious assault with several settlers pushing, hitting and kicking Palestinians. Three teenage settlers brutally assaulted Abu Shamsiyeh’s 15-year-old son leaving him unconscious and requiring hospital treatment. He has since been released and is recovering in the care of his family.

In past years, several Palestinians in Tel Rumeida have been severely attacked, beaten and injured by settlers, have lost pregnancies due to attacks, have had their houses broken into and furniture and electrical appliances smashed, trees in their gardens cut down and plants uprooted and poisoned. On a day to day basis, Palestinians have to deal with minor incidents such as spitting, stone-throwing and insults by the settler community. Especially on Shabbat and during Jewish holidays, settler attacks against the Palestinian residents of Tel Rumeida take place.

This incident is particularly concerning in the light of Netanyahu’s recent announcement that settlers would be allowed to move into Abu Rajab house by checkpoint 209 as well as the pending court case decision on the Rajabeh house, which would connect Kiryat Arba with the Tomb of the Patriarchs. It is clear that settlement expansion in Hebron will have disastrous consequences and will come with a great humanitarian cost for the surrounding Palestinian communities. more

Egypt temporarily opens Rafah crossing

EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma'an) -- Egypt re-opened the Rafah crossing for four hours on Saturday allowing around 370 people to travel between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, Egyptian director of the Rafah terminal Sami Mitwali said.

Around 150 people managed to enter Egypt, while 220 others entered the Gaza Strip between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Thirty-five trucks of construction material coming from Qatar also entered the Gaza Strip on Saturday. more

Egypt's Fahmi says supports Palestinian cause but threatens Gaza with military action

Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmi has stressed his commitment to the Palestinian cause but reiterated his threat of military action against Gaza. Claiming that his meetings with President Mahmoud Abbas should send a strong message that Egypt is on board as far as the Palestinian issue is concerned, Fahmi added, "But let there be no doubt that while we will do everything possible to help the people of Gaza in their daily lives, we will secure our border against those who violate our sovereignty."

He told Alzaytouna correspondent Nasser al-Laham that whoever thinks that Egypt would tolerate its borders and sovereignty being violated does not understand the Egyptian character and the military force that he spoke about. "This would not be against the Palestinian citizens, wherever they are," he insisted, "but against those who have attacked the border and sovereignty. The Palestinian president is now assured that Egypt treats the Palestinians equally and that they won't be offended on Egyptian soil."

The foreign minister expressed his satisfaction at Barack Obama's speech to the UN General Assembly which basically gave a green light to the coup authorities to carry on with business as usual. "I think this is an advanced position in the right direction. Despite the fact that Americans have some questions, Obama has talked for the first time about the desire of the Egyptian people and their aspirations." That, he said, is a very important shift because the Egyptian arena has now become governed by the Egyptian citizen. "The world and President Obama have come to understand that, despite having some have some caveats." more

Zionist group renews attacks on California professor

A Zionist group based in California has renewed its vicious campaign against a mathematics professor at the California State University at Northridge (CSUN), claiming that he is violating the law by using university resources to express his personal and political views.

The professor, David Klein, an outspoken and unapologetic supporter of the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, has told The Electronic Intifada that the renewed “harassment” has been disruptive.

But Klein says he is heartened by the broad and solid support he has received for his exercise of his free speech rights.

The Amcha Initiative, and its zealous co-founder, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, sent a letter to the California State University board of trustees last week attacking Klein for a website he runs that lists resources on global BDS campaigns. Amcha has attempted to shut down Klein’s website for years without success.

In its latest claim, Amcha alleges that Klein’s actions and his website are “anti-Semitic,” and complains that he has violated state law.

It also adds that he has “misused his CSUN email account” to promote a Green party congressional candidate who supports the BDS movement. more

Child shot in the eye in Hebron by occupation soldiers

Saturday [September 28, 2013], Palestinian medical sources have reported that a seven-year-old child lost his right eye after being shot with a rubber-coated metal bullet fired by an Israeli soldier in Al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

The sources added that the child’s mother was also shot by a rubber-coated metal bullet in her shoulder.

The mother and her child were trying to return to the refugee camp; they were far from clashes taking place between the soldiers and local youths.

Eyewitnesses said that the mother and her child were trying to cross a road in an attempt to find a way back to their home after the army closed the main entrance of the camp.

Nasser Qabaja, head of the Disasters Unit at the Red Crescent in the southern part of the West Bank, stated that an ambulance transferred the child from Abu Al-Hasan Hospital to the Hebron Governmental Hospital, before moving him to the St. John Eye Hospital in occupied Jerusalem. more

Friday, 27 September 2013

Violent clashes across West Bank

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Clashes broke out Friday across the occupied West Bank, as Palestinian demonstrators hurled rocks and Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse protests.

In Hebron, clashes broke out after Friday prayers on Shalaleh Street in the center of the city, a Ma’an reporter said.

Dozens of Palestinians threw stones and empty bottles at Israeli settlements and Israeli forces responded by firing tear gas and stun grenades.

An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma'an that some 250 Palestinians hurled rocks at security forces.

In the Ramallah area, Palestinians were injured and others suffered tear-gas inhalation.

Palestinians threw rocks at Israeli soldiers and burned tires outside Ofer detention center, in Qalandiya refugee camp and in al-Ram near Ramallah.

Israeli forces fired tear gas, stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets.

Several people were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets including three in Qalandiya refugee camp, and others suffered tear gas inhalation. more

Israel injures 5 Palestinians at Gaza demonstration

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Five Palestinians including a photographer were injured after a demonstration was fired upon by Israeli forces east of Gaza City on Friday.

Dozens of Palestinians had marched toward the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel east of Gaza City in solidarity with Jerusalem after Israel repeatedly limited Palestinian access to Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque over the past weeks. The call for the march was reportedly issued by a group called "The Intifada Youth Coalition."

The group's march led to clashes with Israeli forces near Nahal Oz military camp.

An Israeli military spokeswoman told Ma'an that "approximately 300 Palestinians" attended the demonstration but were "dispersed" by Israeli forces after they gathered close to the border fence.

The five Palestinians were injured due to high levels of tear-gas inhalation after Israeli forces launched tear-gas canisters at the march. The injured were taken to Shifa hospital in Gaza City. more

Israel breaks up Gaza Strip demonstration marking 13th anniversary of 2nd Intifada

The Israeli military says it has dispersed a demonstration of Palestinians who had marched to the Israeli border in the northern Gaza Strip.

It says troops fired tear gas to break up a crowd of around 300 who had entered the immediate border area, which it considers off limits.

Israel, which withdrew from Gaza in 2005, considers the Hamas-run territory to be a hostile entity. It has carried out two large military operations there in response to militant rocket attacks in recent years. The border area has been largely quiet since a weeklong Israeli military offensive last November.

Friday's demonstration marked the 13th anniversary of the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation. more

Israel bans muslims under 50 from Aqsa mosque

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli police imposed restrictions on Palestinian worshipers on Friday, banning Muslims under the age of 50 from entering the holy site.

A police spokeswoman said women of all ages would be allowed to enter the compound as well as men above 50.

The spokeswoman, Luba al-Sumri, said that the restrictions would help maintain order after clashes at the site during visits from right-wing Israelis worshipers. more

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Gaza’s construction sector still crushed by siege

“From 1975 to 2007, our business had been quite sustainable and profitable. Since 2007, the business has been badly affected by the Israeli blockade,” said Ahmad al-Breim, a building supplies trader in Gaza, as he waited for his first shipment of raw materials from Israel in more than six years on Monday.

Last week, Israeli occupation authorities decided to allow an additional fifty truckloads of raw construction materials including cement, steel and concrete into Gaza, but in quantities that fall far short of the territory’s needs. Israel previously allowed in just twenty truckloads daily for the private sector.

“We have relied on underground tunnels from Egypt, but prices and availability of goods have been fluctuating,” al-Breim told The Electronic Intifada.

Since early July, when Egypt’s military regime began a renewed assault on the underground tunnels, the price of one ton of cement spiked at $280, al-Breim said.

By 21 September, only about ten of three hundred tunnels were still operating, according to a report this week from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (“The humanitarian impact of reduced access between Gaza and Egypt,” 23 September 2013 [PDF]).

This meant that less than 100 tons of supplies were coming in per day, compared with 7,500 tons daily before the Egyptian campaign. more

Number of Gaza resistance groups now possess handheld anti-aircraft missiles

In March 2005, then Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told senior US officials that some Strela antiaircraft missiles had made their way into the Gaza Strip. Six months later, senior Israeli official Amos Gilad told US officials that "thousands of rifles, rockets, rocket propelled grenades, and maybe even Strela missiles" had been smuggled into the Gaza Strip.

The following December, the then Director General of the Multinational Force & Observers, Ambassador James Larocco, told a conference that the MFO had stopped conducting helicopter flights near the Gaza border due to the presence of Strela missiles, among other weapons.

Almost four years later, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that 200 surface-to-air missiles destined for the Gaza Strip had been seized by Egyptian authorities in the Sinai. Unidentified Israeli sources told Haaretz that the missiles were likely Strela missiles. Then, in October 2011, Haaretz reported that Hamas was taking advantage of the looting of weapon stockpiles in Libya and increasing its antiaircraft arsenal.

The following October, the Israeli Defense Force confirmed that Palestinian terrorists operating in the Gaza Strip had fired their first Strela 2 (SA-7 Grail) missile at an IDF helicopter operating over Gaza. Around the same time, the Associated Press reported that a senior Israeli official was warning that "Gaza is being flooded with sophisticated weapons from Libya," including antiaircraft missiles.

Despite all of these reports, there had rarely been hard evidence that Hamas or other Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip were in possession of the Strela 2.

Photos and video from Gaza, however, provide clear evidence that at least three terror groups -- Hamas, Al Ansar Brigades, and the al Nasser Salah al Deen Brigades -- are in possession of Strela 2s. more

Soldiers detain, beat, four children near Bethlehem

Wednesday evening [September 25, 2013] Israeli soldiers detained, for several hours, four Palestinian children in the Al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem, and violently beat them before handing them back to the Palestinians.

Ahmad Salah, Coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Al-Khader, told the Radio Bethlehem 2000 that the soldiers detained the four children for several hours in the Nashash area, at the southern entrance of Al-Khader.

The four children have been identified as Hussein Shady Salah, 8, Ahmad Wa’el Salah, 9, in addition to Mo’tasem Mustafa Al-Masry and his brother Hamza.

He added that the children were violently beaten and kicked before the soldiers moved them to the District Coordination Office (DCO), west of Beit Jala city, and handed them to the Palestinian DCO.

In related news, two Palestinians have been injured by rounds of live ammunition fired by the army at Palestinians at the entrance of the Al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of the central West Bank city of Ramallah.

The two have been identified as Mohammad Yousef Zomra, 24, and Mohammad Adnan, 21. more

Power cuts endanger lives of babies in Gaza

Standing worriedly in a room full of beeping machines and busy nurses, Abdullah al-Nabih's eyes remain glued to his baby boy – born prematurely – who is covered in wires and tubes that keep him alive in a small incubator in Gaza's largest hospital.

Al-Nabih's infant son, Mohamed, is one of 32 newborns kept alive with feeding tubes in Al-Shifa Hospital's maternity ward after being born too early.

The nervous father mutters a prayer, asking God to keep the intensive-care units working smoothly without any disruption.

"The machines connected to my son's body are what keep him alive; any disruption could have a negative impact on his future life," he said.

Al-Nabih is mainly concerned now with the power outages that have become a daily occurrence in Gaza – often lasting as long as 12 hours a day.

In recent months, the hospital has been able to cope with mounting electricity cuts with the use of power generators that rely on fuel. But since the Egyptian army launched a crackdown on the border tunnels linking the Gaza Strip to Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, which are dedicated largely to transporting items restricted by Israel, including fuel, the coastal enclave – home to roughly 1.7 million people – has been hit by a crippling energy crisis that has affected public transport, electricity and construction.

Last week, Mufid al-Mekhalilati, health minister in the Gaza government, said the current dearth of Egyptian fuel had affected electricity generators in the strip's hospitals and the operational capacities of its ambulance and rescue services. more

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Egypt to open Rafah crossing for 3 days

CAIRO (Ma'an) -- Egypt will open the Rafah crossing with Gaza for three days on Saturday for students and humanitarian cases, the Palestinian Authority ambassador to Egypt said Wednesday.

Barakat al-Farra told Ma'an that Egypt will open the crossing from Saturday to Monday to allow Gazan students who study in Egypt to catch up with their university courses.

Humanitarian cases will also be allowed to cross, al-Farra added.

The PA ambassador thanked the Egyptian government for responding to the requests of President Abbas to open the crossing and ease the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza. more

Dozens injured in clashes in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Dozens of Palestinians were injured on Tuesday in clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem.

Medics said that around 40 people were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenade shrapnel. The injured included there women, medics, and photographer Suleiman Khader who was struck with a stun grenade in the chest. Twelve people were taken to the hospital; others were treated at the scene.

Fifteen Palestinians including teenagers were arrested by Israeli forces during the clashes. more

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Hamas, choked by blockade, seeks to avoid Egypt clash

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- The Hamas rulers of Gaza, where an Israeli blockade worsened after a friendly government in Cairo was overthrown, is doing all it can to avoid a confrontation with Egypt's army, experts say.

In July, an army coup ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a close Hamas ally.

During Morsi's year in power, Cairo had eased up on movement between Egyptian territory and Gaza, which had been more tightly controlled under ex-president Hosni Mubarak and the military regime that temporarily took power after he was toppled.

But after the July coup, the new military-installed authorities started turning the screws again.

They have repeatedly closed the Rafah border crossing and destroyed hundreds of tunnels running under the town that Hamas used for years to import fuel, building materials and other goods.

Hamas strongly condemned the Egyptian army after it subsequently drove the Brotherhood underground in a sweeping crackdown, saying it had committed "terrible massacres."

But Hamas has since sought to downplay any tensions. more

Fighters clash with soldiers invading central Gaza

A number of armored Israeli military vehicles, and a military bulldozer, invaded an area east of the Al-Boreij refugee camp, in central Gaza, and clashed with Palestinian fighters.

Eyewitnesses said that the fighters managed to detonate an explosive charge under the military bulldozer, and that fire and smoke was seen coming out of the targeted vehicle.

Soldiers fired dozens of rounds of live ammunition and used smokescreens in an attempt to conceal the movement of their vehicles, and advanced to uproot farmlands in the area.

Also on Tuesday, several Israeli military vehicles carried out a limited invasion into an area, east of Deir Al-Balah, in central Gaza, and uprooted Palestinian lands. more

First patient in Gaza dies after recent closure of Rafah Crossing with Egypt

A Palestinian citizen from the Gaza Strip died of a serious illness on Monday night after he was prevented from traveling through the Rafah Crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

The citizen was named by medical sources in Gaza as Wael Abu-Sada, 40. He was the father of five children.

He had been suffering from a serious heart disease for nine years. His health situation deteriorated recently and he was planning to travel to Amman for heart surgery over the recent days, but he was not allowed to leave Gaza.

The deceased's relatives said that on Monday night his condition severely deteriorated and he was quickly rushed to a hospital in Gaza, but a few minutes later he was pronounced dead.

Doctors in the hospital attributed his death to the urgent need for resetting his heart-pulse regulator, and that could not be done except through heart surgery. They said he should have travelled to Jordan to have that surgery, which could not be done in Gaza.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza says that 9,500 citizens have now registered to travel through the Rafah Crossing. It said that 4,500 of them are patients and students in urgent need to travel for treatment or to attend their schools. more

Health minister in Gaza: Israel and Egypt must lift siege or patients may die

After the new Egyptian government decided to close the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian population of Gaza has faced a worsening health crisis due to lack of medicine and equipment.

The Palestinian Minister of Health in Gaza reported on Monday that hospitals throughout the Gaza Strip are running dangerously low on lifesaving medications and equipment. “Of the medicines on the essential drugs list,” said Dr Mofeed Mokhalalati, “145 items have completely run out.”

Dr Mokhalalati urged the international community to put pressure on both Israel and Egypt to lift the siege that has put a stranglehold on the economy of Gaza since 2007. In addition, he called on the International Committee of the Red Cross, the UN Organisation for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the World Health Organisation to intervene.

After the 2011 revolution in Egypt, there was some easing of the siege from the Egyptian side, but the new Egyptian government that took over when Mohammed Morsi stepped down several months ago reinstated the closure of the Rafah border crossing, which had become the only means of entrance or egress for the vast majority of Gaza residents.more

Israeli military vehicles, bulldozers enter Gaza border area

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli military vehicles entered a border area in the central Gaza Strip on Tuesday, witnesses said.

Military vehicles escorted six bulldozers into an area east of Deir al-Balah and leveled Palestinian agricultural land before setting fire to a dump, locals said.

An Israeli army spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment. more

Monday, 23 September 2013

Israeli colonel sues UK National Health Service and union for “indirect discrimination”

It’s the latest high profile “lawfare” attack against the boycott of Israel to be fought in British courts.

An Israeli army negotiator last week went to Central London County Court seeking tens of thousands of pounds in damages from the National Health Service and from Unison, the public sector union.

Lawyers acting for Lt. Colonel (res.) Moty Cristal sought at the pre-trial hearing to persuade the judge that he was the victim of “indirect discrimination.” Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust had canceled a workshop he had been due to speak at in April last year.

Unison and the trust say the event was really cancelled because Cristal was once an official for the Israeli government. Unison has fairly strong policies in favour of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, and union members had threatened to boycott the session.

A Jewish News report quoted Unison’s lawyer saying that if Cristal was allowed to sue on this basis, the case would become “completely different and much wider.”

“No one thinks it will be an edifying experience to argue about Palestine, boycotting policies and the like. We say this a huge issue which is unsuitable to be debated in the courts … the court should be wary of releasing this tiger as an afterthought,” said Christopher Jeans QC.

Cristal is seeking damages totalling £26,500 and an apology. more

Gaza mortar shell hits Israel, says army

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired a mortar shell that hit southern Israel on Sunday night but caused no casualties or damage, the army said.

“A mortar shell fired from Gaza exploded in an open area near the southern part of the Strip,” a military spokeswoman told AFP, noting there were no casualties or damage.

On Wednesday a projectile fired from the Palestinian enclave hit southern Israel, also causing no injuries or damage, in the first attack from the Hamas-controlled territory since August 18.

Israel holds Islamist rulers Hamas, as the de facto authority in Gaza, responsible for all rocket fire, regardless of which group launches an attack. more

Israel allows settlers to takeover Hebron house following resistance killing of soldiers

The killing of two Israeli soldiers in the West Bank last weekend has prompted an angry backlash in Israel and led the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to announce he will allow Jewish settlers to enter a disputed house in the tinderbox Palestinian city of Hebron.

The latest violence, which follows the killing of four Palestinians in recent weeks during Israeli raids, further raised Israeli-Palestinian tensions at a time when the two sides are in the early stages of recently resumed peace negotiations.

On Saturday, the body of an Israeli soldier who had been lured to the West Bank by a Palestinian was found in a well after he had been reported missing by his family. An army statement said that the soldier, Sergeant Tomer Hazan, had worked with the Palestinian in a restaurant in the coastal city of Bat Yam, and had travelled with him by taxi to an Israeli town near the Palestinian's home village.

The Palestinian, identified as Nidal Amar, then persuaded Hazan to accompany him to his village, Beit Amin, and later killed him with the aim of exchanging his body for the release of Amar's brother, jailed since 2003 for carrying out attacks on Israelis, the army said. Arrested at his home, Amar led investigators to Hazan's body, concealed in a well north of the village of Siniria.

Israeli soldiers are regularly warned to be on alert for possible abduction attempts, which Palestinian militants have warned they could carry out to secure the release of prisoners held in Israeli jails. Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier seized and held for five years by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, was released two years ago for more than 1,000 prisoners.

Amar was married to an Israeli Arab who lives in the town of Jaljulya, near the border with the West Bank. She told Israel's Channel Two broadcaster that she hoped he would "get what he deserves" and that she was ashamed of his act. Amar's father also denounced the killing.

In Bat Yam, a Tel Aviv suburb, angry protesters demonstrated outside the restaurant where the killer and his victim worked, lighting memorial candles and holding up a sign saying: "Bibi is good for terrorists," referring to Netanyahu by his nickname. The owner of the restaurant was criticised for employing Amar, who the authorities said had worked in Israel without a permit.

On Sunday, another Israeli soldier was killed in Hebron when shots were fired at troops securing the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a hotly contested shrine where both Jews and Muslims pray in strict separation. The shooting followed unrest throughout the city, where there is an increased presence of soldiers and Israeli visitors over the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. more

Two armed groups claim joint responsibility for killing of second Israeli soldier

Two Palestinian armed resistance groups issued a joint statement claiming responsibility for killing an Israeli soldier in the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

The two groups, the Al-Aqsa Brigades - Special Units, and The Ahrar Al-Jaleel Brigades (Freemen of the Galilee Brigades), distributed their statement through social media websites.

They said that their fighters managed shoot and kill an Israeli soldier, using a sniper rifle, killing him instantly as he stood along with other soldiers near the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.

It is worth mentioning that the Al-Aqsa Brigades, once an armed wing of the Fateh movement of president Mahmoud Abbas, was dismantled by the Palestinian Authority, and some of its members became Palestinian security officers.

The soldier was initially seriously injured when he was shot in the neck by a Palestinian sharpshooter, close to the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron. He died of his wounds shortly afterwards. more

Settlers uproot Palestinian orchard near Nablus

[Monday morning September 23, 2013] a group of armed extremist Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian orchard, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and uprooted its trees. “Death To Arabs” Graffiti found near Tel Aviv.

Ghassan Daghlas, in charge of Israeli Settlements File at the Palestinian Authority in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, stated that the settlers illegally occupied the land before uprooting it.

He added that dozens of settlers arrived into the area, located near the Awarta-Aqraba road, close to the Itamar illegal settlement, and carried out their attack while Israeli soldiers, who arrived at the site, did not attempt to stop them.

The attack came a few hours after Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, decided to boost settlement activities in the occupied territories, and to allow the settlers into a Palestinian home in Hebron. more

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Gaza builders get rare shipment of cement

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Israel on Sunday permitted delivery of cement and steel for use by the private sector into the Gaza Strip for the first time since 2007, a Palestinian Authority official said.

"Israel allowed today for the first time in six years, the entry of 40 trucks filled with gravel, 20 trucks loaded with cement and 10 with steel for the private sector in Gaza" Raed Fattouh, the PA official in charge of Gaza supplies, said in a statement.

Fearing that Gaza's Hamas rulers would use construction materials to fortify its positions and build tunnels to aid attacks, Israel banned their transfer in 2007.

In a truce deal after an eight-day confrontation with Hamas in November 2012, Israel started letting 20 trucks of gravel in each day. more

Hundreds of Israeli right-wing extremists enter Aqsa mosque under guard

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Over 300 Israeli rightists entered the al-Aqsa compound on Sunday, a local foundation said.

The al-Aqsa foundation said that four groups consisting of rabbis, families and rightists entered the mosque compound via the Mughrabi Gate under heavy armed guard and toured the area.

Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, the director of Islamic endowment told Ma'an that around 342 rightists entered the area for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

Eyewitnesses said that a group of rightists tried to perform religious rituals but were prevented from doing so by Palestinian worshipers.

"The break in to al-Aqsa is unacceptable to the Islamic Waqf and this number of incursions within a few hours is unprecedented," al-Khatib said. more

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Israeli soldier killed near Qalqiliya

QALQILIYA (Ma'an) -- An Israeli soldier was killed in a Qalqiliya village on Friday, Israel's army said.

Sergeant Tomer Hazan, 20, was killed by Nidal Amar, 42, a resident of Beit Amin in Qalqiliya, Israel's army said.

Israeli intelligence services had received information about the disappearance of Hazan late Friday.

Intelligence reports indicated that the soldier had shared a taxi with Nidal Amar to the illegal settlement of Shaarei Tikva, which is opposite the Palestinian village of Beit Amin.

Amar convinced Hazan to come back to his village and once there lured him to an open area north of Beit Amin and killed him, Israel's army said. more

Egypt again closes Rafah crossing after partial opening since Monday

EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah crossing with Gaza on Saturday, officials said.

"Egypt is concerned about the security of Palestinian citizens as Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid continue to blaze with explosions occurring from time to time," an Egyptian security official told Ma'an.

The crossing had been operating at a reduced capacity since Monday, after being closed for seven days due to the security situation in Sinai.

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

Friday, 20 September 2013

Medics: Israeli forces shoot 2 Palestinians in north Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Two people were shot and injured by Israeli forces on Friday in the northern Gaza Strip, witnesses said.

Israeli forces in a watchtower north of Beit Lahiya shot at people walking in the area, injuring two, the witnesses said.

Medics said that one person was shot in the foot while another was shot in the thigh. Both suffered moderate injuries.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said soldiers opened fire after several Palestinians approached a security fence and hurled rocks in an attempt to damage it. more

Video: Gaza is being strangled and its people are suffocating

“I feel so depressed, I feel detained and humiliated and violated because I’m denied one of the most basic rights, the right to have an education, the right to travel,” says Shahd Abusalama in this video report from Gaza by The Real News Network’s Yousef Al-Helou.

Abusalama, who blogs regularly for The Electronic Intifada, is one of thousands of Palestinians trapped in Gaza, unable to travel due to Egypt’s closure of the Rafah crossing.

The Rafah crossing is the only connection to the outside world for the vast majority of Gaza’s almost 1.7 million residents, since Israel imposed its tightened siege beginning in 2006.

Among the stranded are hundreds of students, like Abusalama, hoping to take up university places or scholarships abroad, as well as many medical patients.

Egypt has closed the border completely for the past week, citing the “security” situation in its Sinai peninsula, where it is engaged in military operations against what it calls Islamist militants. more

Gaza health ministry faces real disaster in tightened siege

Palestinian Minister of Health Dr Mofeed Mokhalalati urges the international community to exert pressure on the Israeli Occupation so that it lifts the illegal siege imposed on Gaza Strip, and permits the access of medicines, medical supplies, and basic construction materials .

He said in a press conference held yesterday, "Health sector bases in Gaza face a real disaster, everyone in the world has to shoulder their responsibility in the face of medical needs for Palestinian patients amid the closure of the Rafah Border Crossing."

Mokhalalati pointed out that 145 types of medicine have run out and the lack of medicines imported by Rafah Border Crossing decreased the balance to 30% of that required.

1000 patients cannot receive treatment in specialized Egyptian hospitals, in addition to 300 referred officially by the health ministry, the minister added.

He said the ongoing closure of Rafah Terminal also deprives hundreds of patients from surgical services offered by specialized delegations coming from various countries around the world, as they cannot enter Gaza to perform their surgeries. more

UFree Network denounces the Egyptian military courts sentences against Palestinian fishermen

Human rights group UFree Network strongly condemns the Egyptian military court sentences against Palestinian fishermen who were given a one-year prison sentence and a penalty fine for fishing in Egyptian waters near the Gaza Strip.

UFree Chairman, Mohammad Hamdan, considered the Egyptian military sentences as a serious precedent action against Palestinian civilians which reminded us of the brutal Israeli practices especially that the courts were held in illegal and mysterious conditions.

The Oslo based Network called for the immediate release of the five fishermen and all Palestinian detainees in Egyptian jails who were arrested without legal justification. more

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Israeli forces detain 2 Gaza men at border

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – Israeli forces detained two Palestinians from the Gaza Strip after they tried to cross the borders into Israel east of al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.

Witnesses told Ma’an that when the two approached the fence, military vehicles arrived and stopped them. They were ordered to take off their clothes before they were detained and taken to an unknown location. more

Hamas: Egypt destroying Gaza tunnels to tighten blockade

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Hamas and residents of Gaza fear Egypt's destruction of tunnels used to smuggle goods across the border is part of a plan to tighten a blockade of the Strip.

"The Egyptian army has destroyed 95 percent of the tunnels with the aim of setting up a security buffer zone," Sobhi Ridwan, head of the Palestinian municipality in the border town of Rafah, told AFP.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum echoed the concern.

"We have big fears of a buffer zone being set up and the tunnels all being shut down," Barhum said.

Egypt's army has destroyed many of the tunnels on the Egyptian side of Rafah which are used to smuggle goods, including building material and fuel, into the blockaded territory.

Egypt says it is part of a crackdown against Islamist militants in the Sinai Peninsula who have links to extremists in Gaza.

Egypt's ambassador to the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, Yasser Othman, told AFP the measures are aimed at tightening security on the border.

"The aim is not to worsen the situation inside Gaza."

Barhum disputed this, saying the moves had nothing to do with Egyptian security operations in Sinai but rather a way to intensify the blockade and "bring the Palestinian people to their knees".

Israel, which controls crossings on its borders with Gaza, is to allow cement, iron and gravel into the Strip for the first time in six years starting on Sunday, but the Hamas government said the move is insufficient to ease the blockade. more

Fishermen sentenced to one year for entering Egyptian waters

Egyptian sources have reported that an Egyptian military court sentenced on Wednesday [September 18, 2013] five Palestinian fishermen to one year imprisonment after “convicting” them of violating Egyptian territorial waters.

The Anadolu Turkish news agency stated that the five fishermen accidentally crossed into Egyptian waters while fishing.

Palestinian fishermen in Gaza stated that the Egyptian Navy escalated its attacks and violations against them, and repeatedly chased their boats even in Palestinian territorial water, and up to the shore.

They added that the Egyptian navy also repeatedly fires rounds of live ammunition at their boats, in addition to violently beating them before their arrest. more

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Egyptian border restrictions create misery in Gaza

RAFAH (IRIN) -- Residents and officials in Gaza say the repeated closures of the border crossing into Egypt, a key lifeline for Palestinians in the occupied territories, is destroying livelihoods, harming health and lowering basic living conditions.

The border crossing at Rafah has now been closed for seven consecutive days - the second sustained closure in the past few weeks - following instability in the Sinai region on the Egyptian side of the border.

A reopening is promised tomorrow, Wednesday, but the closures, reduced operating hours and the crackdown on smuggling tunnels are squeezing the country's most important supply line.

Among those who have tried to leave Gaza over the past few weeks is Mona Hussien, 34, and her four children, who normally live in Saudi Arabia.

"I've been to the crossing about five times now (in less than two weeks). My children are tired and so am I. We have school coming. It's our residency at stake; we have to go," she told IRIN.

She came to spend the summer with relatives in Gaza, but has grown increasingly desperate to re-join her husband.

"When are we going to go back to normal? How we can live like other people while we are facing such restrictions, closures and (the) blockade?" more

Fighter injured in Gaza clashes with Israeli troops

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian fighter was injured early Wednesday in clashes with Israeli forces in north Gaza, witnesses and medics said.

Several Israeli military vehicles and infantry troops crossed into a border area in north Gaza, clashing with fighters stationed in the area.

A helicopter provided air cover to the ground forces, witnesses said. It is unclear to which faction the fighter belonged. more

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Israel eases some curbs on building materials for Gaza

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Israel is to allow limited quantities of building materials for use by the private sector into the blockaded Gaza Strip starting from Sunday, a Palestinian official said.

After "efforts exerted by the Palestinian Authority, Israel has agreed for the first time in six years for building materials such as cement, iron and gravel to be brought into Gaza from Sunday" through the Kerem Shalom goods crossing, said Raed Fattouh, PA official in charge of Gaza supplies.

An Israeli official who asked not to be named confirmed the move, telling AFP it was a bid to "strengthen the economy and support (President Mahmoud) Abbas."

The quantities allowed in per day would be 1,600 tons of gravel, 800 tons of cement and 400 tons of iron, Fattouh said.

Israel had also began constructing a water line that would double the amount of water to the Gaza from five million to 10 million cubic meters a year, the Israeli official noted.

A Hamas government official told AFP allowing building materials into Gaza was a positive development, but insufficient.

"It's a positive step, but Gaza needs 6,000 tons of gravel, 4,000 of cement and 1,500 of iron per day," deputy economy minister Hatem Oweida said. more

Israeli forces kill man in Jenin camp

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces killed a man in Jenin refugee camp on Tuesday during an arrest raid, locals said.

Islam al-Tubasi, 22, was shot in the leg after Israeli soldiers raided his family home in Jenin refugee camp. He was arrested and taken to a hospital in Israel, where he died from his injuries, sources told Ma'an.

"Special units stormed the house after Israeli forces bombed the door and immediately went to the roof of the home where Islam sleeps. He tried to escape and they shot him and then dragged him out of the house and took him to an unknown destination," family members told Ma'an.

A large patrol of around 20 Israeli military vehicles entered the camp at dawn and raided several homes.

Clashes broke out with local residents following the shooting of al-Tubasi, with dozens of camp residents injured by stun grenades, tear gas and live fire, Wafa reported.

Israeli forces returned to the camp at around 6 a.m., leading to clashes in which several young Palestinians were shot in the lower body with live fire, witnesses said. more

Israeli vehicles enter border area in south Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli military vehicles entered a border area with south Gaza on Tuesday, locals said.

Israeli vehicles penetrated 150 meters into an area of land east of Khan Younis, witnesses said. Several areas of Palestinian land were leveled and Israeli forces opened fire on people in the area, causing them to flee. more

Monday, 16 September 2013

Gaza students stage sit-in at Rafah crossing

RAFAH, (PIC)-- Dozens of Gaza students staged a sit-in at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on Monday demanding opening the terminal in order to allow them to join their universities.

The Egyptian authorities have been closing the Rafah border terminal since last Wednesday, which exacerbated the suffering of the besieged Palestinians in the Strip especially the sick and the students.

Participants in the sit-in hoisted Palestinian and Egyptian flags along with posters demanding an end to the Gaza blockade and opening the Rafah crossing.

Mumen Baroud, a student, delivered a speech on behalf of the students asking the Arab and Islamic countries and free people of the world to intervene and break the “oppressive” siege on Gaza that has been in force for the past seven years. more

Activists call on Ben & Jerry’s to stop scooping in Israeli settlements

More than 150 activist groups and civil society organizations around the world have signed on to a statement urging the US ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s to discontinue sale or distribution in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The campaign, launched in March by Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel — Vermont is where Ben & Jerry’s is headquartered — calls on the company’s chief executive officer to “stand by its Social Mission and to ensure that its products are not sold, catered and distributed in Israeli settlements” in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.” The groups also demand that Ben & Jerry’s release a public statement committing to “end its business ties to Israel’s occupation and settlement enterprise.”

Ben & Jerry’s (which was bought by European multinational Unilever in 2000) has a long history of celebrating progressive causes, and activists say that the company’s operations in illegal Israeli settlements run counter to the company’s stated mission.

But this is not the first controversy surrounding Ben & Jerry’s and Israeli settlements. In 1998, the company angered settler and anti-Palestinian groups by announcing it would no longer use mineral water from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, which belong to Syria, to make sorbet. more

Egypt to open Rafah for special cases

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – Egyptian authorities will open the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip in a limited way Wednesday and Thursday for special cases, Palestinian sources say.

The Egyptians notified the Palestinian Authority that the crossing would operate four hours a day to allow patients and students to leave. The move came in response to a request by President Mahmoud Abbas, they said.

The Rafah crossing has been closed since last Wednesday for security reasons after the Egyptian army started a crackdown against militants in the Sinai peninsula.

Abbas on Monday telephone chief of the Egyptian intelligence Maj-Gen. Muhammad Tuhami and requested opening the crossing to allow students and humanitarian cases to leave the Gaza Strip. more