Saturday, 9 November 2013

Gaza forum showcases youth creativity despite crippling blockade

Gaza proves its creativity everyday. The besieged region has never bowed down to the confines of a brain-sapping blockade complete with crippling closures, meager resources and traumatic experiences of war.

Many Gaza youths transcend all of these odds with their dreams, where the stars of hope light up their minds.

But how could the youth of Gaza translate their ideas into a concrete reality that lives up to their aspirations?

One avenue is the Palestinian Forum for Innovation and Technology-PALFIT, organized by the University College of Applied Sciences along with 12 universities and colleges. The forum opened their doors to more than 100 creative enterprises to show and market what Gaza’s youth have done.

The events of the forum were held for two days, October 29 and October 30th, in the Rashad Al Shawa Cultural Center in central Gaza City. It included an exhibition of the projects and four workshops.

“The workshops discussed the role of universities and trade unions in [addressing] Gaza’s rising unemployment rate, as well as the role of civil society organizations and the public sector in empowering the capacities of graduates and offering job opportunities for them,” said Hassan Abu Mutair, the coordinator of the forum. “12 Palestinian universities across the Gaza Strip took part in the Forum of which 100 entrepreneurial projects are selected.”

Abu Mutair pointed out that the project ideas are all inspired by the hard reality of the lives of Gazans, noting that the organizers meant to choose the most creative ones.

At one corner of the exhibition Manal Saleem, standing by her colleague Nedaa Weshaa, was passing a mobile phone through pieces of clothes. Saleem said, “the phone is engineered to produce musical beats that could make the blind feel the colors and the scenic beauty of nature,” and thus, “transcend the disability without any cost.”

“Our aim is mainly to develop smart phone applications to help the blind and the visually impaired to identify colors,” according to Saleem, the manager of the Color Vision company.

Another enterprise present at the forum was the Hope Association For the Deaf. It managed to introduce a multi-service application to those who are speaking and hearing-impaired to assist them by contacting sound-hearing people via smart phones.

Khalil Saleem, the initiator of the idea, says “we seek to facilitate the life of those with hearing defection, so that they could be socially integrated, and a working force equal to the people enjoying good health.” more

Israel detains 25 Palestinian activists over Facebook posts

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli police detained 25 Palestinian social media activists in East Jerusalem on Thursday, a prisoners rights group said.

Nasser Qous, head of the Jerusalem branch of the Palestinian Prisoners Society, told official news agency Wafa that Israeli forces raided the homes of 25 Palestinian activists and detained them on charges of "incitement" due to their posts on Facebook.

Israeli police also seized their computers.

Fifteen of the activists were later released and 10 will be brought before an Israeli court, Qous said. more

PCHR denounces killing of two Palestinians by army fire at West Bank roadblocks

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights, based in Gaza, issued the following report denouncing the latest Israeli military violations leading to the killing of two Palestinians at military roadblocks in the occupied West Bank.

In an excessive use of force, on Thursday evening, 07 November 2013, Israeli forces killed 2 Palestinian civilians at Za'tara checkpoint, south of Nablus, and the Container checkpoint, northeast of Bethlehem, in the West Bank. According to investigations conducted by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), at approximately 18:00 on Thursday, 07 November 2013, Basheer Sami Salem Habnain, 29, from Marka village south of Jenin, was traveling in a taxi from Ramallah to Nablus.

When he became 20 meters far from Za'tara intersection, south of Nablus, he stepped down from the taxi and crossed the main road towards the other side.

He was carrying a box of fireworks, from which flares were unleashed. Soon, an Israeli soldier descended from a military observation tower and fired directly at Habnain, killing him with 7 bullets to the legs and thighs and an 8th one which entered the back and exited the chest.

Israeli forces kept the victim's body until 03:00 on Friday, 08 November 2013, when they handed the body to the Palestinian liaison department. The victim was a lecturer at the fashion department in Palestine Technical University (Kadoorie) in Tulkarm.

Israeli forces claimed that "Habnain was carrying a flare gun, from which he fired at soldiers, so the soldiers responded by firing at him, and he was instantly killed."

A video clip published on Youtube shows an Israeli soldiers descending from an Israeli military observation tower to the southeast of Za'tara checkpoint, and then firing at the area to the southwest of the checkpoint.

Another 2 soldiers are seen in the video clip coming from the checkpoint. Even according to the Israeli narrative, Israeli forces could have used less lethal means against the victims, such as arresting him.

In a similar crime, at approximately 21:30, Isma'il Fu'ad Refa'ei al-Atrash, 25, and his brother Anas, 23, arrived at the Container checkpoint, northeast of Bethlehem, traveling from Jericho to their home in Hebron.

They were traveling in a civilian car driven by Isma'il. When they arrived the checkpoint, Isma'il slowed down to cross road bumps. Anas opened the door, and once he stepped down, Israeli soldiers shot him dead with 2 bullets to the chest.

Israeli soldiers took Anas' body and put it in a plastic sac near the checkpoint. Residents of the area and a number of members of the victim's family arrived at the checkpoint and skirmishes erupted between them and Israeli soldiers. more