Thursday, 10 October 2013

Isolated Hamas faces money crisis in Gaza

Hamas is struggling to meet its payroll in the Gaza Strip, where income from taxes has been badly hit since neighboring Egypt started destroying a network of tunnels used to smuggle food, fuel and weapons into the Islamist-run enclave.

The crisis means that Gaza's thousands of civil servants may not receive their full salaries in time for an important Muslim holiday next week.

Egypt, which accuses Hamas of aiding Muslim militants in the lawless Sinai desert, has been waging a campaign to destroy the smuggling tunnels that delivered weapons and other goods to the Gaza Strip, which is partially blockaded by Israel.

Hamas, which denies the Egyptian allegations, taxes the traffic through the tunnels - a money stream that has now virtually run dry.

Last month, the Hamas government paid only 77 percent of its $25 million August payroll for Gaza's 50,000 civil servants. more

Olive harvest season starts in Gaza

Gaza's ministry of agriculture celebrated on Thursday the beginning of the olive harvest season for this year. Minister Ali Al-Tarshawi and staff from the agriculture ministry attended the celebration, which took place at an olive farm in Khan Younis City, in the south of the Gaza Strip.

Al-Tarshawi expressed his happiness with the start of the harvest season and announced that the Gaza Strip is expected to produce around 10,000 tons of olives this season.

However, he explained that this amount is far less than the amount produced in the previous year. He said that his ministry is planning to import olives from the occupied West Bank to meet the remaining demand of the Gaza Strip. more

MSF extends surgical programs to second Gaza hospital

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Médecins Sans Frontières has extended its reconstructive plastic surgery program to al-Shifa hospital in the Gaza Strip, the second project of its kind in the coastal territory.

In July 2010, the international aid and humanitarian organization opened a plastic surgery unit at the Nasser hospital in collaboration with local Gaza health authorities.

"We hope that our work at Al-Shifa Hospital will increase the number of patients receiving treatment and reduce the Ministry of Health's waiting list", said Tommaso Fabbri, MSF Head of Mission in Jerusalem.

The program provides treatment to victims of trauma, domestic accidents, burns and other injuries and aims to help patients regain optimum use of their limbs, a statement said.

Al-Shifa and Nasser hospitals are the only facilities providing this kind of treatment in the Gaza Strip, together with a few private clinics and surgeons.

MSF staff travel to the Gaza Strip several times a year to work with the teams at both hospitals, which specialize in plastic surgery and specialist hand surgery. more

Israeli gunboats open fire at Gaza fishermen, locals say

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli gunboats opened fire on Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip early Wednesday, locals said.

Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli navy forces fired shells at fishermen off Gaza's coast.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said a fishing boat had "deviated from the designated fishing area and an IDF boat fired warning shots in the air."

The boat then returned to the designated area, she added.

In May, the Israeli government re-extended Gaza's fishing zone to six miles, after reducing it in March following a rocket attack from the coastal territory. more