Thursday, 9 May 2013

Israel approves 296 West Bank settler homes


JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel has given the go-ahead to build nearly 300 homes in the settlement of Beit El near Ramallah, a spokesman said, in a move likely to spark tensions as Washington seeks to rekindle peace talks.

"The Civil Administration has given the green light for 296 housing units at Beit El, but this is only the first stage of a process before actual construction can begin," he said, speaking on behalf of a unit within the defense ministry which administers the West Bank.

He explained that the construction plans were part of a compensatory measure for settlers who were evicted last year from Ulpana, an unauthorized outpost on the outskirts of Beit El which was evacuated following a High Court ruling.

The announcement came just two days after a report said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had quietly ordered a freeze on tenders for new settler homes in a bid to give a chance to US-led efforts to revive moribund peace talks with the Palestinians.

Hagit Ofran of Israel's Peace Now settlement watchdog denounced the move. more

One third of deaths in Israel's recent war on Gaza were children


After several months of field research and crosschecking data, human rights organization B’Tselem published a report today (Thursday, 9 May 2013) reviewing harm to civilians in Operation Pillar of Defense. The report provides statistics on the numbers of Palestinians and Israelis killed over the course of the operation, which lasted from 14 to 21 November 2012.

The report challenges the common perception in the Israeli public and media that the operation was “surgical” and caused practically no fatalities among uninvolved Palestinian civilians. Furthermore, the report finds that there was a significant difference between the first and the final days of the operation: of the uninvolved Palestinian fatalities, 80% were killed in the last four days of the operation. more