Saturday, 30 March 2013

Film review: Gaza love story triumphs over Israeli obstacles

More than 1,000 years ago, in the middle of the Arabian peninsula, Qays ibn al-Mulawwah fell in love with Layla bint Mahdi ibn Saad. He recited poetry expressing his adoration of her, but in naming her continuously and publicly, convinced Layla’s father that he was mad, and so lost the opportunity of her hand in marriage. Layla was married to another man, and theirs became one of the great tragic love stories, a Middle Eastern Romeo and Juliet. It became known as Majnun Layla (Possessed by madness for Layla).

In Habibi (My beloved; the full Arabic title Habibi Rasak Kharban translates as Darling there’s something wrong with your head), the American-Syrian-Lebanese filmmaker Susan Youssef transfers the Majnun Layla tale to Gaza in 2001, near the beginning of second intifada. Qays and Layla, both from Khan Younis, have met at Birzeit University in the West Bank. When the Israeli occupation revokes their permits, both have to return home to Gaza and the watchful eyes of their families and community.

Layla’s mother is keen for her to marry Ward, an ambitious young doctor recently returned from America and in the process of setting up his own clinic. Her father, a quiet and religious man, is at first sympathetic to Layla’s passionate desire to finish her engineering degree. more

Haniyeh heads to Cairo for talks

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Gaza's Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh headed to Cairo on Saturday to discuss his movement's complaints about Israeli compliance with an Egyptian-brokered truce.

Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nunu said Haniyeh would be discussing "Israeli violations of the truce," which ended eight days of deadly violence in and around the Gaza Strip last November.

Last week, Hamas complained to Egypt that Israel was not keeping its end of the bargain.

Al-Nunu said that the Gaza premier would be discussing "the problem of (Palestinian) prisoners (held by Israel) and Hamas-Egypt relations." more

Israeli troops open fire at protesters as Palestinians mark Land Day

QALQILIYA (Ma’an) – Clashes erupted Saturday between Palestinians and Israeli forces in the northern West Bank village of Jayyus east of Qalqiliya, witnesses said.

Eyewitnesses told Ma’an that hundreds of Palestinians gathered in agricultural lands west of Jayyus to plant trees commemorating Land Day before Israeli troops stormed the area.

The soldiers fired tear-gas canisters at the Palestinians who in return hurled stones at the soldiers. Dozens were hurt as they inhaled tear gas, according to onlookers.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said security forces were responding to rock-hurling, and she said two soldiers were lightly injured by rocks. She was unaware of any Palestinian casualties.

Israeli forces have deployed heavily across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem since Friday preparing to disperse demonstrations in Palestinian cities and villages in commemoration of Land Day.

In Ramallah in the central West Bank, young Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces near Qalandiya checkpoint which separates Ramallah and Jerusalem. more