Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Report: Israel approves 198 new settlement homes


TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- Israel's housing ministry released government tenders for the construction of 198 new settlement units in the occupied West Bank, Israeli media reported Wednesday.

Noting the timing before national elections, Israel's Ynet news site reported that the announcement invited developers to bid on two projects in Efrat and Kiryat Arba.

Both settlements are in the Hebron area of the occupied Palestinian West Bank and considered illegal under international law.

The announcement came two weeks ahead of an Israeli election the incumbent prime minister's joint party list is expected to win. Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly promised to hold on to settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and expanded them during his term.

A centrist challenger, former Foreign Minister and peace negotiator Tzipi Livni, has made Israel's international isolation under Netanyahu the focus of her campaign.

Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now said meanwhile that approval for construction in 2012 far exceeded by a "record level" the counts for the previous two years. more

Man found dead in Gaza tunnel


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The body of Bassam Khader was recovered from a tunnel under the Gaza-Egypt border on Wednesday, after an 8-day search, relatives said.

Khader, 42, was last seen working in a smuggling tunnel in Rafah which was thought to have collapsed during extreme weather conditions last week.

On Sunday, Ali al-Fadi, 20, died and three others were wounded when a tunnel partially caved in near Rafah, civil defense spokesman Muhammad al-Maathneh said. more