Thursday, 31 October 2013

Gaza man killed by Israeli artillery near Khan Younis, another injured

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A young man was killed and another wounded late Thursday in an Israeli artillery shelling east of Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, a Ma'an reporter said.

Medics said a 22-year-old man died and another was injured after the two were targeted by Israeli forces in the Absan area east of Khan Younis. more

Ministry of health says medicine shortage threatens Gaza patients

The Ministry of Health in the besieged Gaza Strip says the lives of hundreds of patients are at risk over the lack of medication due to the Israeli blockade, Press TV reports.

Some 400 patients with renal failure in the Palestinian territory suffer from the lack of medicine and special chemicals that are required for dialysis, the ministry says.

In addition to the shortage of medicine, hospitals in Gaza face frequent power outage and lack of fuel and spare parts for backup emergency electricity generators.

Mohammad Shatat, with the Gazan ministry, said there were a lot of problems related to shortage of many types of medical supplies and the patients are facing stoppage of the treatment machines as a result of power outage.

Rights groups have slammed an Israeli closure of the crossings into Gaza, calling for an end to the illegal blockade of the Palestinian land. more

Jenin man shot dead by Israeli forces

JENIN (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces shot and killed a young man during clashes in the Jenin town of Qabatiya overnight Wednesday, locals said.

Ahmad Imad Tazaza, 20, died instantly after being shot in the chest, medics told Ma'an.

Witnesses say that a large Israeli military force raided Qabatiya at 1 a.m. and detained Rasim Tawfiq Khuzaima, 60, Momen Sabaneh, 23, Ayman Abed al-Rahman Abu al-Rub, 27, and Imad Shawkat Zakarneh.

Clashes broke out in the town following the arrest raid, during which time Tazaza was shot, locals say.

His body was transferred to Jenin government hospital where he was pronounced dead.

An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma'an that "during an overnight activity in Qabatiya a violent riot erupted as forces were exiting the scene."

"Approximately 50 Palestinians hurled improvised devices as well as rocks at military vehicles. Reports of an injured Palestinian are being reviewed." more

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Video: Settlers attack farmers, volunteers at olive harvest

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem on Wednesday released video footage and photos of an Israeli settler attack on Palestinian farmers.

B'Tselem said in a statement that on Oct. 26, masked Israeli settlers approached the Palestinian village of al-Mughayir and attacked the Na'asan family with stones while they were harvesting olives.

"The family responded by throwing stones back," the statement said.

"The settlers then assaulted 75-year-old Ghatib Na'asan and his nephew, Yasser Na'asan, who tried to protect him. The latter, a volunteer..., was hit with an iron bar and broken glass. His head and hand were injured." more

Israel announces 1,500 new settler homes in East Jerusalem

RAMALLAH (AFP) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Gideon Saar agreed to build 1,500 new homes in the East Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo early Wednesday, army radio said, hours after 26 Palestinian prisoners were released from jail.

Last week, an Israeli official said new tenders were to be announced in the large settlement blocs and in East Jerusalem "in the coming months" as part of "understandings" reached with both the Palestinians and Washington.

Speaking before the army radio's report, Abbas reiterated the Palestinians' denial that the prisoner release was part of an agreement to allow Israel more settlement building.

"There are some living among us who say that we have a deal (to release prisoners) in exchange for settlement building, and I say to them, be silent." more

Israel frees 26 veteran prisoners

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israel freed 26 veteran prisoners to the occupied West Bank and Gaza on Wednesday, alongside US-brokered peace talks.

Twenty-one prisoners arrived in Ramallah shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday, after Israel released them in a gesture to support the peace process. Five others crossed into their native Gaza.

The 21 former prisoners from the West Bank arrived by bus to President Mahmoud Abbas' compound in Ramallah, where they were met by dignitaries and supporters.

The release of the 26 prisoners was part of a four-stage deal to coincide with the PLO's return to peace negotiations in July.

All 26 were convicted of killing Israelis, with most of the attacks occurring before the 1993 Oslo Accords. A first group of 26 prisoners was freed on Aug. 13.

In Ramallah, freed prisoner Riziq Salah from al-Khader near Bethlehem said his happiness to be free was overshadowed by a deep sadness for cellmates who were left behind. more

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Israel to free second group of Palestinian prisoners - 21 to West Bank and 5 to Gaza

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel on Tuesday was preparing to release 26 long-serving Palestinian prisoners, the second batch of 104 inmates who are to be freed in line with commitments to US-brokered peace talks.

The release, which is due to take place late on Tuesday night, will see 21 prisoners returned to their homes in the West Bank and the remaining five returning home to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

All were convicted for killing Israelis, with most of the attacks occurring before the 1993 Oslo Accords, which granted the Palestinian Authority limited self-rule, but failed to bring about an independent state.

Of the 26, all but two prisoners were serving life sentences. more

Outrage as Palestinian child faces possible life prison sentence for throwing stones

A Palestinian child, identified as Mohammad Mahdi Suleiman, 15 years of age, could face a life-term by an Israeli court for “throwing stones at the soldiers, and endangering their lives”.

The child is from Hares village, near the central West Bank district of Salfit. He will be sent to court in the coming few days.

The Israeli Prosecution said it intends to ask for the highest penalty that could reach up to a life in prison, the Wa’ed Society for Detainees has reported.

Wa’ed said that the child was kidnapped on March 15 this year, after Israeli soldiers violently broke into his home and searched it.

He was then sent to a military court and the Israeli prosecutor’s office demanded that the child be sentenced to a life-term for throwing stones at the soldiers, and engendering their lives.

Wa’ed said that this is an unprecedented violation and abuse targeting the child, one of the youngest prisoners in the world, and called on the UNICEF and international human rights groups to intervene, and perform their moral and legal duty to protect the children. more

Israel assembling Palestinian prisoners ahead of release

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Israeli Prison Service has started to round up 26 Palestinian prisoners who will be freed Tuesday night as a second group of 104 that Israel agreed to release as part of a gesture to coincide with the PLO's return to peace talks.

Hassan Abed Rabbo, a spokesman for the Palestinian ministry of prisoners’ affairs, told Ma’an on Monday that the prison service started to gather all prisoners at Ofer detention center ahead of the release.

He added that the Israeli Higher Court was giving families of Israelis who were killed in Palestinian attacks 48 hours to raise objections to the decision to free veteran Palestinian prisoners.

The time limit ends at midnight on Tuesday. more

Monday, 28 October 2013

Egypt tunnel closure 'costs Gaza $230 million monthly'

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Egypt's closure of tunnels used to smuggle goods into the Gaza Strip has caused monthly losses of $230 million to its economy, a Hamas official said Sunday.

The "closure of the tunnels caused heavy losses to the industry, commerce, agriculture, transport and construction sectors" of around $230 million monthly, said Hatem Oweida, deputy economy minister of Hamas.

Essential materials were for years smuggled from Egypt into Gaza through tunnels, bypassing Israel's blockade, but the Egyptian army recently destroyed many of those after ousting president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, a Hamas ally.

Oweida said that the coastal Palestinian territory had relied on the tunnels to meet at least 40 percent of its construction supplies and raw material needs.

Gaza's unemployment rate would hit 43 percent if official border crossings remained shut and the tunnels were destroyed, Oweida warned. more

Israeli airstrikes target northern Gaza

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli airstrikes targeted the northern Gaza Strip on Monday, Israel's army said, in the first airstrike on Gaza in over two months.

"In response to the numerous rockets and mortars launched at Israel in the past 24 hours, IAF aircraft targeted two concealed rocket launchers in the northern Gaza Strip. Direct hits were confirmed," a statement said.

Witnesses said the attack targeted a training ground used by militants from the armed wing of Gaza's ruling Hamas movement west of Beit Lahiya, but no-one was hurt.

Several rockets were fired from Gaza early Monday, with one rocket intercepted by the Iron Dome system above Ashkelon, Israel's army said.

A mortar shell was fired from Gaza on Sunday, the army added.

No group has claimed responsibility for firing the rockets. more

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Israeli reports: Government approves release of 26 Palestinian prisoners

The second stage of the Palestinian prisoners' release was approved, and the list of those up for release has been formed: Following a fiery debate in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation over the Struck Bill to block the releases, the special committee for prisoners release has confirmed the second stage in the deal which led to the resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians.

The 26 prisoners to be released were jailed due to crimes performed before the Oslo Accords , and served time ranging between 19 to 28 years. 21 prisoners are from the West Bank and five are from Gaza. The list of prisoners will be posted Sunday night on the Prison Service's website, after the bereaved families will be informed. more

Egypt closes Gaza crossing for second day in a row

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

The crossing was opened on Friday for Palestinian Hajj pilgrims. Palestinian officials at Rafah said that the Egyptian authorities informed them that the crossing would be closed on Sunday, however.

On Friday, Egypt allowed 1,450 Palestinian Hajj pilgrims to return to the Gaza Strip and 403 other Palestinians were permitted to leave. Among these were students, patients, and other humanitarian cases.

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

Qassam brigades fighter killed in tunnel accident In Gaza

[Sunday October 27, 2013] The Al-brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, has reported that one of its fighters was killed in an accident in one of its border tunnels in southern Gaza. The Brigades said that Saleh Yousef Al-Basheety, 23, was one of its senior fighters. There have been dozens of Palestinians who were killed in numerous accidents in the tunnels, mainly after the tunnels collapse on them, while other were electrocuted by exposed wires. At least 232 Palestinians have also been killed in tunnel collapse accidents since the siege was imposed on Gaza. more

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Explosion rocks car of resistance fighter in Gaza

Palestinian sources reported Friday [October 25, 2013] that a car owned by a senior resistance fighter was hit by an explosion in the center of the Jabalia refugee camp, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

The explosion did not lead to any casualties, but completely destroyed the car, and caused damage to nearby homes.

The Maan News Agency has reported that unknown persons placed an explosive charge in the car of the fighter, only identified as “A. D”, and apparently left the scene before the explosives went off.

The car belongs to a leader of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), an armed group operating in Gaza. Israeli sources alleged that the attack is part of internal conflicts within the PRC.

Fighters of the Salah Ed-Deen Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committee, along with fighters of the Army of Islam, and the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, were behind the abduction of Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit from an Israeli military base across the border on June 25 2006. more

Israel denies EU delegation entry to Gaza

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli government on Wednesday denied an official European Union delegation entry to the Gaza Strip, claiming the visit would strengthen the ruling Hamas movement.

Six members of an EU Parliament delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council were due to visit Gaza from Oct. 27-30 in a trip largely focused on social, economic and humanitarian issues, including visits to UNRWA health centers, schools, food distribution centers, rehabilitation centers and sports clubs.

The MEPs, from a cross-section of political parties representing six EU member states, were informed in an email by Israeli authorities that they would not be allowed into Gaza via the Erez crossing for the three-day visit, which also included trips to Christian schools, a sports clubs and the University of Palestine.

Emer Costello, chair of the European Parliament's delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council, said she was "astounded and dismayed" by Israel's decision to refuse an official EU visit. more

Friday, 25 October 2013

Israel to issue tenders for new settlement units

Israeli sources have reported that the Israeli Housing Ministry is planning to issue tenders for the construction of hundreds of units in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, this coming week.

Israeli daily, Haaretz, quoted a government official stating that the announcement of the bids will take place as Israeli releases 25 Palestinian political prisoners, part of the second stage of detainees’ release to boost direct talks with the Palestinians.

The new constructions will be in major settlement blocks in the occupied West Bank, and in occupied East Jerusalem.

Haaretz said that the official claimed that the understandings, mediated by the United States, leading to the resumption of direct peace talks with the Palestinians, “did not include any commitment from Tel Aviv to freeze settlement construction activities”.

It added that, during their Wednesday meeting in Rome, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, informed U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, of the new Israeli construction plan. Kerry also informed the Palestinians of the Israeli decision. more

Israel weighs prisoner release

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli ministers are to meet Sunday to approve the release of a second batch of Palestinian prisoners under the terms of renewed peace talks, media said.

Maariv daily said Thursday that 26 prisoners would be freed, the same number as in the first tranche in August.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said two days before the July 30 resumption of talks that he had "agreed to free 104 Palestinians in stages, after the start of negotiations and according to progress."

Since the August release, Netanyahu's office has made no statement on a second round.

Maariv said the next handover would take place on Tuesday. more

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Youths smash hole in Israel's separation wall near Abu Dis

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Dozens of young Palestinians smashed a hole in Israel's separation wall near Abu Dis on Wednesday, as clashes broke out in the town for the second day in a row.

Popular resistance committee spokesman Hani Halbiya told Ma'an that youths made a 3-meter hole in part of the wall in protest against a house demolition in Abu Dis late Monday.

Workers spent several hours repairing the wall under the guard of Israeli security forces.

After military forces left the area, Palestinian youths returned to the wall and reopened the hole, Halbiya said. Israeli forces then raided Abu Dis and fired tear gas canisters and sound bombs. more

Gaza researchers determined to record Nakba generation before time runs out

Tucked into a quiet basement suite in the main building of the immaculate Islamic University of Gaza campus, the Oral History Center could at first be mistaken for a bursar or registrar’s office.

But its stacks of metal filing cabinets may contain more memories per square meter than any other place in the occupied Gaza Strip.

Researcher Nermin Habid said that the center conducted interviews with those who had witnessed the Nakba (Arabic for catastrophe), the ethnic cleansing ahead of Israel’s foundation in 1948, as well as the Naksa (setback), Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights and Sinai in 1967.

“We have already conducted 1,500 oral interviews and archived audio files from them,” Habid added. “A meeting can last anywhere from half an hour, to two or three hours. We can also have follow-up meetings.

“We have also published 120 [interviews] in written form. In the future, we plan video interviews. We hope to use them to produce a documentary film about the history of Palestine.”

Launched as part of the university’s faculty of arts in 1998, the Oral History Center has a staff of experienced field researchers and recent graduates from the university’s departments of history, press and media, and social studies. more

Settlers assault farmers, attack vehicles in Nablus

NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Israeli settlers on Thursday attacked several farmers in the Nablus district, a Palestinian Authority official said.

Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma'an that a group of settlers assaulted Palestinian farmers who were harvesting olives in the Nablus village of Burin.

One farmer suffered severe bruising as a result of the attack

Meanwhile, settlers hurled rocks at Palestinian cars near the Huwwara military checkpoint south of Nablus, damaging several vehicles.

The settlers also assaulted an Israeli journalist in the area, Daghlas said.

On Wednesday, armed settlers prevented farmers in the Bethlehem village of Tuqu from reaching their land to harvest olives. more

Egypt delays Hajj pilgrims from returning to Gaza

EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma’an) -- Egyptian authorities on Wednesday ordered 19 buses carrying pilgrims back to Gaza to return to el-Arish due to the security situation in Sinai, an official said.

Director of the Egyptian side of Rafah crossing Sami Mitwalli told Ma'an that Egyptian authorities prevented the buses from traveling to Rafah due to a security curfew in the Sinai peninsula.

The 774 pilgrims will be able to cross into Gaza on Thursday, Mitwalli added. more

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A portrait of steadfastness in the Gaza Strip’s deadly “buffer zone”

Abu Jamal Abu Taima (right) poses with an international activist. (Photo by Charlie Andreasson)

An older man meets us when we step out of the taxi, a patriarch, his back straight, with a firm handshake and a welcoming smile. The other activists I shared a taxi with have all been there before, and we sit with no major ceremonies at the gate of the house as the sun casts its last warm rays upon us.

Soon we are served soft drinks and biscuits, followed by coffee, tea and dates. Our visit is clearly expected. Around us gather children and grandchildren. By Palestinian standards, Abu Jamal Abu Taima is a large-scale farmer with his 50 dunams. But he also has many mouths to feed: three generations with 71 people. “It was crowded during Eid,” he says with a smile that shows more pride than concern with making room for everyone. But as we begin to discuss the conditions of this great crowd, the smile vanishes.

The years between 1995 and 2001 were something of a golden age. He grew a variety of products, and had greenhouses and a substantial income from what he could export. Then the worries began. His land is adjacent to the Israeli separation barrier, and as Israeli forces expanded the “buffer zone,” it swallowed more and more of his land beside it.

Within this zone, there are no longer any olive or other fruit trees. In 2003 Israeli bulldozers devastated his greenhouse and former home. All he can grow there now is wheat, because it does not need to be tended as regularly as other crops.

And it is only wheat that he hopes to sow when the rains start in November. The occupying power does not allow irrigation. They destroy any irrigation pipes in the area. There is also the danger of death if farmers go onto their fields to manage crops.

Today Abu Taima can grow enough to feed his family, but no more. Before his olive trees in the “buffer zone” were destroyed, they produced enough olives for 70 bottles of olive oil. Those left this year gave six. No exports of what he can grow are allowed. more

Thousands attend funeral for Ramallah man killed Tuesday

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Thousands of mourners on Wednesday participated in the funeral of a man shot dead a day earlier by Israeli forces near Ramallah.

Muhammad Assi, 28, from Beit Liqya was killed Tuesday when Israeli soldiers stormed an area between the West Bank villages of Bilin and Kufr Nemeh, sparking a gunfight which ended at a cave, Palestinian witnesses and medics said.

The funeral procession started at the Palestine Medical Center in Ramallah and Assi was then transferred to Beit Liqya where he was wrapped in Palestinian Islamic Jihad flags.

Dozens of cars followed the procession and thousands of people carried the body while chanting slogans calling for revenge and resistance against Israel's occupation.

Mourners also chanted for an end to negotiations with Israel. more

Settlers uproot 53 olive trees in Qalqiliya, attack farmer

NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Israeli settlers on Tuesday uprooted 53 olive trees in Kafr Laqif village west of Qalqiliya, officials said.

Ghassan Douglas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, said that a number of Israeli settlers from the Karni Shomron settlement uprooted around 53 olive trees belonging to Suleiman Jaber.

In a separate incident, Israeli settlers from the Yitzhar settlement assaulted and beat a Palestinian man, Mohammad al-Zein, from Burin village south of Nablus.

At the time of the attack, al-Zein was cultivating his land. He suffered from various wounds as a result of the assault. more

Child hospitalized after soldiers violently assault him in Hebron

A number of Israeli soldiers attacked on Tuesday [October 22, 2013] a Palestinian child at one of the military roadblocks in the Old City of Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank. The child lost consciousness and was moved to a local hospital.

Medical sources said that Red Crescent medics provided the child, Hamdan Mohammad Sha’abna, 15, with the urgently needed first aid, and moved him to the Hebron Governmental Hospital in the city.

The child suffered concussion due to being repeatedly hit and punched in the head, and suffered internal bleeding as the soldiers also kicked him in his abdomen, in addition to kicking and punching him in the arms and legs, the Radio Bethlehem 2000 has reported.

His mother said that as she and her child were trying to cross a military roadblock in Bab Az-Zaweya area, two Israeli soldiers stopped them and asked the child to show them his ID card. The child said he does not have one, as ID cards are issued at age 16.

The soldiers then forced the child against a wall before a soldier kicked him in the legs and continued to punch him and hit him with his rifle on his abdomen, followed by several blows to the head; the child fell unconscious, barely breathing. more

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

You Americans are responsible for this, says a Bedouin whose village is slated for removal

Phil Weiss talks to Hajj al-Ahmed, 61, in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev desert. Under Israel’s new plan for developing the Negev, this small village is to be removed and its people relocated to a reservation-like city. And a community of Jewish Israeli settlers is poised to take over the sheikh’s village. Weiss asks, “Has Israel made the desert bloom?” Hajj al-Ahmed responds: Israel has promised roads and water to his people for more than 40 years and never provided it, while giving ample services to Jews. more

Israeli army invades northern and central Gaza for second consecutive day

[Tuesday Morning October 22, 2013] A number of armored Israeli military vehicles invaded areas in the northern and central parts of the besieged Gaza Strip, and fired dozens of rounds of live ammunition before uprooting Palestinian farmlands.

Local sources have reported that two armored military bulldozers, and two tanks, advanced dozens of meters into Palestinian farmlands close to the border fence, bulldozed them, and set grass ablaze to clear the area.

Furthermore, three armored military vehicles invaded an area east of Deir Al-Balah, in central Gaza, bulldozed and uprooted farmlands also close to the border fence.

The invasion is part of a series of limited invasion carried out by the military, especially after the army uncovered a tunnel connecting Gaza with a settlement across the border area. more

Israeli forces kill Palestinian during raid northwest of Ramallah

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- A young Palestinian man was shot dead by Israeli troops in a cave between the villages of Bilin and Kafr Nima in northwest Ramallah on early Tuesday morning.

Large numbers of Israeli military vehicles had raided an agricultural area in the early morning and subsequently clashed with Muhammad Assi, a 24-year-old Islamic Jihad activist, who had barricaded himself in a cave amidst fields.

Assi was killed following a shoot-out with Israeli forces that lasted a few hours.

During the raid, Israeli bulldozers razed olive orchards belonging to Palestinians in the area, according to eyewitnesses from Kafr Nima. The soldiers also set fire to a number of agricultural fields.

The Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported that Israeli special forces entered in Kafr Nima in order to arrest two Palestinians in the early hours of Tuesday morning. One of the suspects tried to flee and was apprehended following a short chase, according to the Israeli report, while the other barricaded himself in a cave and clashed with the Israeli soldiers. more

Monday, 21 October 2013

Israeli army makes incursion into central Gaza

[Monday October 21, 2013] A number of Israeli military vehicles invaded Palestinian farmlands east of Deir Al-Balah, in central Gaza, and fired rounds of live ammunition.

Eyewitnesses said that seven armored vehicles, including thee bulldozers, invaded the farmlands, while the soldiers fired rounds of live ammunition targeting farmlands and homes in the area.

The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) has reported that the soldiers bulldozed and uprooted agricultural lands before withdrawing from the area. WAFA added that the vehicles came from a military base across the border fence.

Israeli soldiers conduct frequent invasions into Palestinian areas close to the northern and eastern parts of the Gaza Strip, and prevent the farmers from entering their lands, especially those located close to the border. more

Hamas military wing says it dug tunnel into Israel

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- The military wing of Hamas on Monday claimed responsibility for a tunnel built under the border between Gaza and Israel.

"This tunnel was made by the hand of the fighters of (Izzadine) al-Qassam and they will not sleep in their efforts to hit the occupation and kidnap soldiers," the group's spokesman Abu Obeida told Hamas's al-Aqsa radio.

"We are working on the ground and under the ground to release the prisoners (held by Israel)," he said.

"Kidnapping soldiers is the only way to succeed against the (Israeli) occupation."

Israeli officials last Sunday said troops had uncovered a tunnel running from Gaza 450 meters into Israel and allegedly intended as a springboard for attacks.

In June 2006 a group of Hamas and other militants entered into Israel through a cross-border tunnel and seized Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. more

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Israel prevents entry of 120 trucks into Gaza

Sunday October 20, 2013, the Israeli Authorities refused to allow 120 trucks, loaded with construction material, into the Gaza Strip as they tried to cross through the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) terminal between Gaza and Israel.

Palestinian Legislator, Jamal Al-Khodary, stated that preventing construction materials from entering Gaza means denying thousands of workers any chance of earning a living, and is costing the Gaza Strip significant loses as it is also obstructing vital projects, the Palestine News Network (PNN) has reported.

He added that the list of supplies Israel refuses to allow into Gaza is long, and includes construction materials of different sorts, and added that Israel is also preventing the Palestinians in Gaza from exporting their goods and produce, an issue that constitutes collective punishment that violates international Law.

“This is collective punishment against the Palestinians”, he said, “This is part of the ongoing escalation against Gaza, and the siege that continues for the seventh year”. more

Palestinian man shot at close range by Israeli forces in Hebron

HEBRON (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian man was shot and injured by Israeli soldiers on Saturday in the Wadi al-Khalil area south of Hebron.

Red Crescent official Nasser Qabaja told Ma'an that Ismael Mashni, 23, was shot in both feet by Israeli forces.

He was subsequently taken in a private car to a medical center in al-Dhahiriya and later moved to Hebron Governmental Hospital.

Witnesses said that Mashni was shot from close range by the Israeli forces, but had no more details.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said that the man was seen "damaging the security fence" near the Israeli town of Meitar. more

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Watch the video on Israeli racism The New York Times didn’t want you to see

Regular readers of The Electronic Intifada are familiar with the shocking and escalating racism in Israel against people from countries in Africa.

Our extensive coverage of the incitement and attacks on Africans, thanks in large part to the work of David Sheen, demonstrates that this phenomenon is not marginal, but is incited by Israel’s top political leadership.

When Israeli government ministers incite angry mobs, calling Africans “cancer,” they are simply expressing another face of the racism that Palestinians have always experienced.

Yet rarely does this knowledge make it into mainstream media.

The example of the video above, Israel’s New Racism: The Persecution of African Migrants in the Holy Land, produced by David Sheen and Max Blumenthal, helps us to understand why.

Blumenthal explained to Consortium News how The New York Times commissioned the 11-minute video, but after the paper’s editors saw it, refused to publish it: more

Official: Settlers seize 5 acres of Palestinian land near Nablus

NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Dozens of Israeli settlers late Friday appropriated approximately five acres of Palestinian land in the village of Asira al-Qibliya in the Nablus district, a Palestinian Authority official said.

Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlements in the Nablus district, told Ma'an that dozens of Israelis from the illegal settlement of Yitzhar surrounded the land with fences in the al-Bir area near the settlement. more

Israel phones Gazans with propaganda message in bid to tar Hamas

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Palestinians in the Gaza Strip said they received phone calls on Friday from the Israeli army accusing Hamas of failing to provide for civilians.

"To the residents of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army warns you against obeying the orders of the terrorist Hamas or having any contact with it," the recipient of one such pre-recorded message quoted it as saying.

"Know that Hamas is spending millions of dollars on tunnels used for hostile and terrorist acts against the state of Israel," it said. "This money should have gone to infrastructure, education and health projects."

The movement's interior ministry said that dozens of Palestinians received the calls.

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment. more

Friday, 18 October 2013

Israelis open fire at Bilin protest, dozens of Palestinians injured

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Dozens of Palestinians suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation and one was wounded after being shot by a tear gas canister as Israeli forces opened fire on demonstrators in the West Bank town of Bilin on Friday afternoon.

Dozens of Palestinians, Israelis, and international activists were taking part in a protest against the Israeli separation wall that runs through Bilin.

Israeli forces subsequently opened fire with a large number of sound bombs, rubber bullets, and tear gas canisters.

After protesters refused to disperse, Israeli forces stationed at the wall chased activists, leading to clashes in the immediate vicinity of the wall that lasted around three hours.

Photographer Amjad Ayed Abu Rahma, 18, was arrested during the clashes, while Abdullah Yaseen, 23, was hit in the leg by a tear gas canister flying at high velocity. Dozens of other protesters suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation during the clashes.

Israeli forces targeted photographers in the vicinity of clashes and prevented an ambulance from reaching the injured. All wounded were treated following the conclusion of clashes around 3 p.m. more

Israeli forces shoot, kill Palestinian at West Bank army base

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Thursday shot and killed a Palestinian man who drove a tractor into an army base north of Jerusalem, according to Israeli media and a military official.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said that soldiers confirmed a "direct hit" after firing at the Palestinian, who she said had driven a tractor into an army base in al-Ram, near Jerusalem.

"The Palestinian made it into the base which posed a life threat to the soldiers nearby," the spokeswoman said. more

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Peace Now: Settlement construction starts rises by 7- per cent

Israeli Peace Now movement issued a report on Israeli settlement construction and expansion activities, and revealed that settlement construction increased by %70 in the period between January and June 2013.

Peace Now said that its data is based on survey of aerial photos, and count of all units that “started/ended to be built in each settlement.”

It said that there is a %70 increase in construction starts when compared to the same time-frame of last year, and added that constructions started for building 1708 units from January to June.

Peace Now added that 180 of these constructions are in fact located in illegal settlement outposts, comparing to 995 units in the same period of 2012.

It further stated that the construction of 1794 units have been completed, and 2840 units are still under construction.

The Movement said that %61 of the construction starts (1040 units) were in isolated illegal settlement east of the border that was proposed by the Geneva Initiative, adding that %44 of the construction starts were east of the planned rout of the Annexation Wall, and only %32 (542 units) were built on the western side of the Wall.

PDF Map Of construction Starts – Peace Now


Egypt army destroys smuggling tunnel in Rafah

EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma'an) -- Egypt's army on Wednesday destroyed a smuggling tunnel in the Rafah area of Sinai, security officials said.

The tunnel was found in the home of a man identified only as H.Q, and was used to smuggle people to and from the Gaza Strip.

Egypt destroyed the house after evacuating its residents.

Meanwhile, Egyptian forces continued with a crack down on suspected militants in Sinai, destroying several homes, vehicles, and motorcycles in the city of Sheikh Zuweid.

Suspected militant leader Mahmoud Fathi, 35, was detained in el-Arish.

Egyptian forces have destroyed over 90 percent of smuggling tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border, an official said in September. more

Gaza blockade leads to decrease in Eid livestock sales

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Livestock sales in Gaza for the Eid al-Adha holiday decreased significantly this year due to high prices caused by Israel's blockade and a crack down on smuggling tunnels by Egyptian authorities, residents say.

Abu Faris al-Nijar, who sells livestock to be sacrificed every year for Eid al-Adha, told Ma'an that his sales had decreased by at least 40 percent.

The price of imported calves "soared this year," he added, "increasing between 18 and 21 shekels per kilo."

Gaza residents Jihan Ashour and Hamdi Faris told Ma'an that their families could not afford to purchase an animal to sacrifice this year due to the rise in prices.

"Closing the tunnels and the Israeli blockade has led to a problem of prices as our livestock came from Egypt through tunnels," Ashour said.

Living conditions would improve in Gaza if the blockade ended and the Rafah border with Egypt was opened, Ashour added. more

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

UK union head calls on G4S to end Israel contracts

One of the UK’s biggest unions on Friday called for controversial security firm G4S to pull out of Israel. The British-Danish security giant has been a major target for activists because of its involvement with several Israeli prisons.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of UNISON, wrote to G4S arguing:

I understand that your activities in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories only account for approximately one percent of G4S profits.

However, I believe that the reputational risks that these activities pose for your company are far greater [than profit] and I would urge you withdraw now from doing business in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

In the press release announcing Prentis’ letter to G4S’s chief executive Ashley Almanza, UNISON listed the giant firm’s complicity.

It provides security for Ketziot and Megiddo prisons in Israel, to which Palestinians are transferred in breach of the Geneva convention’s stipulation not to detail prisoners outside an occupied territory. It runs the central command room at Ofer prison in the occupied West Bank, and runs security systems at Kishon and Jerusalem detention centers, where there is evidence that Palestinians are tortured. more

Israeli troops enter Gaza every three days - Oxfam

Israel’s military incursions into the besieged, occupied Gaza Strip increased sharply in September.

Israeli ground forces entered the occupied territory nine times in September, up from twice in August, according to UK-based development agency Oxfam in its October report on the situation in Gaza.

That’s about once every three days.

Shooting at farmers

There was also a 30 percent increase in fire by Israeli occupation forces toward Palestinians in farmland along the Gaza boundary since July and August.

The “Israeli army has fired warning shots at farmers, forcing them to leave, and conducted land leveling operations,” Oxfam said.

“On 30 September, Israeli military shot and killed a Palestinian man approximately 400 meters from the fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel,” Oxfam reported.

“In a separate incident, Israeli military shot and injured another man approximately 200 meters from the fence, before detaining him. According to their families, the two men were attempting to cross into Israel in search of work.” more

Hamas, Fatah leaders in Eid phone call

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Leaders of rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas spoke via telephone on the eve of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, stressing the need for reconciliation, a Hamas official said Tuesday.

Gaza prime minister Ismail Haniyeh spoke to President Mahmoud Abbas of the "need for a return to national unity and an end to division" during the late night conversation, a Hamas official said on condition of anonymity.

The two men exchanged greetings for Eid al-Adha, which Muslims began celebrating on Tuesday.

The Hamas movement and its rival Fatah, Abbas' party that dominates the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, have been at odds since Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Since signing an Egyptian-brokered deal in 2011 they have been attempting to heal their rifts. more

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

It’s apartheid “clear and simple,” Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters tells his Israeli fans

Pink Floyd superstar Roger Waters has criticized Israel’s Yediot Ahronot newspaper for distorting an interview he gave to its journalist Alon Hadar.

Waters also reiterated that Israel commits the “crime” of apartheid “clear and simple” against Palestinians.

“The measured, reasonable and humane conversation that Alon and I had … was intended as a way for me to communicate with my Israeli fans, to explain my position on Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), to break down Walls, and shed light on possible misunderstandings and our shared predicament,” Waters wrote in a note on his Facebook page.

Instead, Waters said, the interview “has been re-written as a combative, ill-natured, dog-fight,” filled with “distortions and untruths.”

“Both questions and answers were changed,” Waters wrote, “I can only assume to suit an editorial agenda.”

Addressed to fans in Israel, the Facebook note also appears in Hebrew.

Yediot Ahronot introduced Waters’ interview with the assertion that “There is no doubt that what he has to say is not easy for the Israeli ear, his worldview is very lenient on the Palestinian side while at the same time taking a hard line, at times unjustly according to many, with the Israeli side.”

The interview as published appears in the newspaper’s Hebrew edition, but an English translation has been published by the Institute for Middle East Understanding.

Waters also published a full transcript of his conversation with Hadar. more

Gaza chokes as Egypt's economic garotte tightens

In Gaza City's main market Mohammed Hilis stood disconsolately among piles of fruit and vegetables, waiting for customers. In the runup to Eid al-Adha, the second most important festival in the Muslim calendar, the market was unusually quiet. Steep price rises, unpaid salaries and layoffs – the consequences of the new Egyptian regime's antipathy towards Hamas – have been painfully felt by the Gaza Strip.

"A kilo of tomatoes used to be one shekel [17p]; now it is five shekels. Most prices have gone up 50 – 60%," said Hilis. "Why? Because of the costs of transportation, because there is no power to pump water to the fields, because there is no water. So people buy less." As a result, his wages have slumped from 30 – 20 shekels a day, playing its small part in propelling the downward spiral of Gaza's economy.

Six years after Israel imposed a stranglehold on Gaza as a punitive measure against the Hamas government, the strip of land along the Mediterranean is facing a new chokepoint from the south. After the Egyptian military forced President Mohamed Morsi out of office in July amid a brutal crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, the army embarked on a drive to regain control of the anarchic Sinai peninsula, isolate the Brotherhood's allies in neighbouring Gaza, and halt the traffic in goods, weapons and people through the tunnels under the border with the Palestinian territory.

According to the commander of Egypt's border guards force, Major-General Ahmad Ibrahim, almost 800 tunnels have been destroyed by his troops this year. Hamas is coy about the number of tunnels put out of action. But Hatem Owida, Gaza's deputy economic minister, said activity had been reduced by 80-90% since the military takeover in Egypt. more

UNICEF publishes damning report on detained Palestinian children

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has reported that Israeli violations against detained Palestinian children are still ongoing, despite an alleged Israeli decision to improve their conditions, and the methods of interrogation.

It said that Tel Aviv took steps to address some of the issues of concern outlined in a report that was released back in March of this year.

The March report indicated that detained Palestinian children face systematic mistreatment.

The UNICEF said that despite its earlier report violations against detained children are still ongoing, despite the 38 recommendations that outlined these violations and the manner to address them.

The report hoped that Israel would improve the ill treatment of children, and start treating the children within international standards.

It said that Tel Aviv is “testing some of the reformed measures” used to deal with detained children. more

Monday, 14 October 2013

Radiation experts confirm polonium on Arafat clothing

PARIS (AFP) -- Swiss radiation experts have confirmed they found traces of polonium on clothing used by Yasser Arafat which "support the possibility" the veteran Palestinian leader was poisoned.

In a report published by The Lancet at the weekend, the team provide scientific details to media statements made in 2012 that they had found polonium on Arafat's belongings.

Arafat died in France on November 11 2004 at the age of 75, but doctors were unable to specify the cause of death. No autopsy was carried out at the time, in line with his widow's request.

His remains were exhumed in November 2012 and samples taken, partly to investigate whether he had been poisoned -- a suspicion that grew after the assassination of Russian ex-spy and Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.

That investigation is ongoing, conducted separately by teams in France, Switzerland and Russia. more

Hundreds of Palestinian and Syrian refugees drown as ship comes under Libyan fire

The Action Group for Palestinians of Syria has reported that a ship carrying hundreds of Palestinian and Syrian refugees who fled from Syria drowned in the Mediterranean close to Libyan shores after coming under fire from Libyan side on Friday.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said that it is following the developments and contacting all related authorities to ensure rescue operations for surviving refugees.

The BBC has reported that shot were fired at the ship as it left Libyan shores, and that bullet holes caused the boat to sink.

It added that 33 refugees died in the attack, and that the incident just comes one week after more than 350 migrants were killed in a shipwreck near Lampedusa Italian Island.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said that President Mahmoud Abbas instructed it and all related institutions to closely monitor and aid rescue attempts, and that Foreign Minister, Riyad Al-Maliki, formed a committee operating in the Palestinian embassies in Libya, Malta, Italy and Egypt. The committee will be working around the clock in direct communication with Italy, Malta and Libya. more

Report: Gaza hacker publishes details of 5,000 Israelis

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A hacker from the Gaza Strip on Sunday published personal details for over 5,000 Israeli citizens online, Israel's Channel 2 TV reported.

The hacker, known as GaZa HaCHer, published the identity numbers, personal phone numbers and addresses of 5,000 Israelis, claiming he did it out of boredom. more