Thursday, 12 September 2013

Egypt tanks cross fence leading to Gaza


AFP - Two Egyptian army tanks crossed an initial border fence leading to Gaza for the first time on Thursday, witnesses said, but did not enter the Palestinian territory itself.

Gaza's Hamas rulers neither confirmed nor denied the incursion, but said no Egyptian tanks had entered the besieged Strip.

The tanks "crossed the first Egyptian border fence along the corridor between Egypt and (Gaza), and drove along the road running next to the cement wall" that Egypt built, the witnesses told AFP.

They said it was the "first time Egyptian tanks have been in this area, although they didn't cross into the Palestinian side," adding that soldiers on top of the tanks had masked faces. more

Egypt closes Rafah crossing for second day in row


GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah crossing with Gaza on Thursday for the second day due to security unrest in Sinai, a Ma’an reporter said. more

Gaza Palestinians feel pain of new Egypt border restrictions


(Reuters) - Hooked up to a dialysis machine, Samir Abu Tahoun can only sit and wait for the gates to a new life to open.

For the 57-year-old Palestinian seeking a kidney transplant in Cairo, that means the border crossing from the Gaza Strip to Egypt, whose army-backed government has sharply limited entry from the Islamist Hamas-run territory since the military deposed Islamist president Mohamed Mursi two months ago.

"The crossing has become equal to life for me because if I do not travel, if I do not do the (surgery), I will live the rest of my life in suffering," said Abu Tahoun, a former metal worker.

Like Abu Tahoun, thousands of Palestinians in Gaza are waiting for the Rafah frontier terminal to resume normal operation. They include people seeking medical treatment unavailable in the enclave, students and stranded visitors.

Before Egypt's military ousted Mursi - who Hamas regarded as an ally - in July after mass protests against his rule, some 1,200 people a day used to cross at Rafah, Gaza's main window to the world. Now, Egypt allows in only 250 each day.

Egyptian officials have accused Hamas, a 1980s offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, of supporting anti-government protests and activities - allegations the Palestinian movement denies.

While the political dispute festers, Abu Tahoun receives dialysis treatment three times a week. He had hoped to be in Egypt by now, along with two of his sons so they could be tested as kidney donation candidates. more

Palestinian youth assert right of return with direct action


During the summer of 2013 a new grassroots movement burst onto the scene and announced itself as a major development in the long struggle for the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Activities occurring throughout the Galilee region of present-day Israel have been held which reaffirm the connection of the younger generation of internally displaced Palestinians to their ancestral villages. Events and projects simultaneously take practical steps to realize this long-denied, fundamental right.

The right of return is one of the most evocative and central issues for Palestinians ever since the Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948, which saw the destruction of more than 530 Arab villages and the displacement of approximately 800,000 Palestinians. The majority of them ended up as refugees in neighboring Arab states, or in those parts of Palestine which initially remained outside of Israeli control, namely the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Between 30,000 and 40,000 managed to remain inside the new state of Israel, however, finding refuge in nearby towns which had survived the ethnic cleansing of the majority of Palestine’s villages.

Brutal Israel

Attempts by the original inhabitants to return to their villages in the immediate aftermath of the Nakba were fought against by the new state, which used all the means at its disposal, often brutally.

Dispersed villagers attempting to return from outside the borders of the new state were often shot dead on sight by the Israeli army. Meanwhile, villagers attempting to return who had managed to remain within the borders of the new state were routinely rounded up and deported as “infiltrators.” Legislation such as the Absentees Property Law enabled the confiscation of property of those Palestinians who had been made into internally displaced persons, while denying their rights to live there or even to enter the site of their ancestral lands.

Between 1948 and 1955, the majority of these villages were destroyed by the Israeli army and covered either with pine forests or new Jewish-only settlements. In many cases, a cemetery, mosque or church was the only remaining evidence of a village’s existence.

The new wave of movements which have gained prominence this summer can be traced back partly to a group of third generation, internally displaced youth from the village of Iqrit, who in August 2012 decided that they would take matters into their own hands and return to their ancestral village.

Iqrit’s residents were originally ordered out of their village for two weeks shortly after the Nakba for so-called security reasons. Exceptionally, three years later they obtained Israeli high court approval to return, and received information that they would be able to return on Christmas Day, especially symbolic for the Christian community.

On that day in 1951, as the villagers waited to return, the Israeli army razed the village to the ground.

Potent symbol

Now living in two small rooms built as extensions of the still-standing church, Iqrit’s youth activists today sleep in the village in shifts in order to maintain a permanent presence there. This summer a small football stadium was also built, a potent symbol of the will and permanence of their return. more

Palestinian shot by Israeli soldiers escorting right-wingers into refugee camp


BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel's army says it shot and injured a Palestinian man early Thursday after he opened fire at soldiers escorting rightists to a site in the occupied West Bank.

A military spokesman told Ma'an the Palestinian, who was not identified, was taken into custody after receiving initial medical care from an army doctor for moderate injuries.

The spokesman told Ma'an that the soldiers "fired back at the suspected shooter in self-defense" after he opened fire at soldiers amid a "large and violent riot."

The incident occurred as Israeli forces escorted hundreds of right-wing Israelis into the Balata refugee camp near Nablus so they could perform prayers at the Joseph's Tomb holy site.

Seven other Palestinians were hurt by tear-gas and rubber-coated steel bullets as Israeli forces fired at Palestinian homes. Among the injured were Thaer Qandil, Husam Qatanani, Murad Abu Musallam and Amid Abu Sayyaf. more