Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Hamas, choked by blockade, seeks to avoid Egypt clash

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- The Hamas rulers of Gaza, where an Israeli blockade worsened after a friendly government in Cairo was overthrown, is doing all it can to avoid a confrontation with Egypt's army, experts say.

In July, an army coup ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a close Hamas ally.

During Morsi's year in power, Cairo had eased up on movement between Egyptian territory and Gaza, which had been more tightly controlled under ex-president Hosni Mubarak and the military regime that temporarily took power after he was toppled.

But after the July coup, the new military-installed authorities started turning the screws again.

They have repeatedly closed the Rafah border crossing and destroyed hundreds of tunnels running under the town that Hamas used for years to import fuel, building materials and other goods.

Hamas strongly condemned the Egyptian army after it subsequently drove the Brotherhood underground in a sweeping crackdown, saying it had committed "terrible massacres."

But Hamas has since sought to downplay any tensions. more

Fighters clash with soldiers invading central Gaza

A number of armored Israeli military vehicles, and a military bulldozer, invaded an area east of the Al-Boreij refugee camp, in central Gaza, and clashed with Palestinian fighters.

Eyewitnesses said that the fighters managed to detonate an explosive charge under the military bulldozer, and that fire and smoke was seen coming out of the targeted vehicle.

Soldiers fired dozens of rounds of live ammunition and used smokescreens in an attempt to conceal the movement of their vehicles, and advanced to uproot farmlands in the area.

Also on Tuesday, several Israeli military vehicles carried out a limited invasion into an area, east of Deir Al-Balah, in central Gaza, and uprooted Palestinian lands. more

First patient in Gaza dies after recent closure of Rafah Crossing with Egypt

A Palestinian citizen from the Gaza Strip died of a serious illness on Monday night after he was prevented from traveling through the Rafah Crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

The citizen was named by medical sources in Gaza as Wael Abu-Sada, 40. He was the father of five children.

He had been suffering from a serious heart disease for nine years. His health situation deteriorated recently and he was planning to travel to Amman for heart surgery over the recent days, but he was not allowed to leave Gaza.

The deceased's relatives said that on Monday night his condition severely deteriorated and he was quickly rushed to a hospital in Gaza, but a few minutes later he was pronounced dead.

Doctors in the hospital attributed his death to the urgent need for resetting his heart-pulse regulator, and that could not be done except through heart surgery. They said he should have travelled to Jordan to have that surgery, which could not be done in Gaza.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza says that 9,500 citizens have now registered to travel through the Rafah Crossing. It said that 4,500 of them are patients and students in urgent need to travel for treatment or to attend their schools. more

Health minister in Gaza: Israel and Egypt must lift siege or patients may die

After the new Egyptian government decided to close the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian population of Gaza has faced a worsening health crisis due to lack of medicine and equipment.

The Palestinian Minister of Health in Gaza reported on Monday that hospitals throughout the Gaza Strip are running dangerously low on lifesaving medications and equipment. “Of the medicines on the essential drugs list,” said Dr Mofeed Mokhalalati, “145 items have completely run out.”

Dr Mokhalalati urged the international community to put pressure on both Israel and Egypt to lift the siege that has put a stranglehold on the economy of Gaza since 2007. In addition, he called on the International Committee of the Red Cross, the UN Organisation for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the World Health Organisation to intervene.

After the 2011 revolution in Egypt, there was some easing of the siege from the Egyptian side, but the new Egyptian government that took over when Mohammed Morsi stepped down several months ago reinstated the closure of the Rafah border crossing, which had become the only means of entrance or egress for the vast majority of Gaza residents.more

Israeli military vehicles, bulldozers enter Gaza border area

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli military vehicles entered a border area in the central Gaza Strip on Tuesday, witnesses said.

Military vehicles escorted six bulldozers into an area east of Deir al-Balah and leveled Palestinian agricultural land before setting fire to a dump, locals said.

An Israeli army spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment. more