Thursday, 20 June 2013

EU's Ashton in Gaza on World Refugee Day

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – The European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton visited the Gaza Strip Thursday and took a tour in a UN-affiliated school in Gaza City marking World Refugee Day.

Ashton maintained in a news conference that support to the population of Gaza should not stop and that donor countries should continue to allocate financial aid to the Palestinian refugees in the coastal enclave through UNRWA.

The EU official said she wanted to see Gaza crossings operating, the economy improving and children expecting a promising future. Ashton expressed gratitude to UNRWA for its major role in helping Gaza residents. She pledged the EU would continue to be a major supporter to UNRWA “not only financially, but politically as well.”

“I came back to Gaza because Gaza is important. However, you are concerned more about what will happen after I leave. You want your conditions to improve which means economic support to the people, and education and hope of a better future for children. Most importantly, we need to exert pressure on the EU’s 27 countries to work out a solution.” more

Military vehicles seen entering southern Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces were seen entering the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday in the al-Qarara village in the Khan Younis district, witnesses said.

Six military vehicles and bulldozers were seen entering farming land amid the sound of gunfire, which witnesses said caused extensive damage to the land.

Witnesses also said they saw Israeli military aircraft overhead. more

Norwich student Max prepares for trip to Gaza Strip

The tensions of the Middle East may not seem like an “exciting” opportunity to some people. But that is how 20-year-old student Max Slaughter has described his upcoming trip to the Gaza Strip.

Originally from Thorpe St Andrew, Mr Slaughter is one of 32 people chosen from more than 100 applicants to take part in Welcome to Gaza, a convoy of international media workers and volunteers heading to Palestine at the start of next month.

The aspiring journalist is studying for a BA Honours degree in International Relations and Politics at the University of Lincoln and will be going into his third year in September.

Mr Slaughter believes there will only be four or five others from the UK on the trip as applications were made from all over the world.

“I’ve never done any travelling before and the first time I do it’s in a war zone,” said Mr Slaughter. “So it’s exciting but I’m quite anxious as well. One of the first people I told said, you might want to invest in a bullet-proof vest, so I am excited about the opportunity but anxious at the same time.”

The trip will see the former Thorpe St Andrew School pupil film videos, write articles and promote international projects to raise awareness of what life is like in Gaza.

Mr Slaughter continued: “I am deeply passionate about the situation in Gaza and am always looking to educate and inform those around me who may not know much about what is happening.more

Gaza military court issues death penalty to collaborator

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A military court in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip issued the death sentence to a Palestinian after finding him guilty of collaborating with Israeli intelligence.

The man, identified only as Kh.Sh, was born in 1972 and is from the Meghazi refugee camp in the central West Bank district of Deir al-Balah.

The sentence is the third death penalty issued since May, after the Hamas-run government vowed it would execute a number of collaborators with Israel in an attempt to "eradicate" collaboration.

Last month, Salah Addin Abu Sharkh, director of internal security at the Interior Ministry, said the government had "a clear goal and several means to eradicate this dangerous epidemic," including executing convicted collaborators.

Abu Sharkh said the anti-collaboration campaign, which ran from March 12 to May 12, achieved most of its goals and resulted in a number of arrests. He said legal procedures against the suspects were ongoing, in an interview on the ministry's website.more

Hamad: “Hamas held meetings with US, EU officials In Amman” to remove from 'terror' list

Hamad said that the core of the meetings focused on removing Hamas from the “terror list”.

He told the Arabic Sky News that a serious of meetings with American and European officials have been held in a number of Arab capitals, and that the most recent meeting was held two weeks ago.

“There is no legal or political reason to keep Hamas on the terror list”, Hamad added, “but these talks are not on the decision making level yet”.

The Hamas official also held a meeting with several journalists in Gaza, and affirmed the decline in relations between the movement and Tehran due to what he called “Hamas’s support to the Syrian people against Bashar Assad”.

“The relations have seriously declined”, he said, “I hope this decline won’t completely sever the ties with Tehran”.

On the Egyptian level, Hamad said that the movement does not intervene in internal Egyptian affairs, “despite the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is in power”. more