Friday, 28 February 2014

PFLP vows revenge, PA condemns Birzeit 'assassination'

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said in a statement on Thursday that it will respond to Israeli forces' killing of an activist affiliated with the group during an arrest raid earlier in the day.

The PFLP and its military wing Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades said that the "response is undoubtedly coming," vowing to "continue to resist until the occupation is removed from all Palestinian soil."

The statement comes hours after Muatazz Washaha, 24, was killed following a stand-off with Israeli forces in the central West Bank village of Birzeit.

The PFLP also called upon the Palestinian Authority to end security coordination with Israel, and to "return to the Palestinian people."

The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, condemned the "assassination" in a statement on Thursday and demanded the "provision of international protection to the Palestinian People," arguing that the "crime marks further escalation and an addition to the daily killing practiced by the Israeli occupation against Palestinians."

The statement argued the killing was "deliberate," highlighting that Israeli forces had surrounded the house, evacuated residents, and then shelled the house, knowing Washaha was inside.

The statement said that such actions "undermine peace efforts" and confirm that "the Israeli government is constantly seeking to foil these efforts."

Muatazz Washaha was killed in a dawn raid on the central West Bank village of Birzeit after Israeli forces surrounded and shelled his home. more

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Israeli forces kill Palestinian man during Birzeit arrest raid

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man on Thursday after opening fire on a property in Birzeit, locals said.

Muatazz Washaha, 24, was found dead inside the house following a stand-off between Israeli military forces which lasted several hours.

Witnesses said that the victim was hit in the head by an artillery shell.

Israeli forces were reportedly trying to arrest Muatazz' brother, Thaer, who was wanted for being an activist with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

During the dawn raid, Israeli forces stormed the house and detained Thaer's brother, Ramiz, and two other men. It is unclear whether Thaer was in the property at the time of the raid or if he managed to escape.

Palestinian firefighters rushed to the scene after the house caught fire as a result of Israeli artillery shelling.

Palestinian Authority Minister of Detainees, Issa Qaraqe, said Israeli troops raided Birzeit at around 3 a.m. more

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Gazans turn to solar power as fuel crisis bites

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- On the roof of Gaza City's children's hospital, a pristine row of solar panels gleams in the sunlight, an out-of-place symbol of modern, clean energy in the impoverished Strip.

As the coastal Palestinian territory lives through the worst fuel shortage in its history, many of Gaza's 1.6 million inhabitants are beginning to see solar power not just as a viable alternative, but perhaps as the only solution to the energy crisis.

"We were forced to consider relying on solar power alone after the energy crisis that events in Egypt brought about," said hospital director Nabil al-Burqani, referring to the closure of cross-border tunnels which halted the fuel supply into Gaza.

"We need solar energy in order to keep up care for babies in the maternity ward," he told AFP.

"If there's just a minute-long cut to the electricity that runs the baby incubators, a child could die."

Gazans have learned to live with daily power outages of up to 12 hours that have affected private homes, schools, hospitals, businesses, and water and sanitation plants.

The ruling Hamas movement has blamed the crisis on Egypt's destruction of cross-border tunnels which had been used for importing fuel, a decision implemented after the military overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

The tunnels had played a key role in Gaza's economy since 2006, when Israel imposed a blockade after the capture of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian militants in a cross-border raid. The restrictions were tightened the following year when Hamas seized power. more

Egyptian authorities free 13 Palestinians from Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities freed 13 Palestinians late Monday after six months in jail, a Gaza official said.

The men returned to their homes in the Gaza Strip after crossing the Rafah terminal, officials told Ma'an, without specifying why the men were detained.

Two of the detainees had special needs and were arrested by Egyptian authorities outside of the Palestinian embassy in Cairo three months ago. more

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

3 injured in Gaza clashes on massacre anniversary

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Three Palestinian men were injured and others suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation during clashes with Israeli forces east of Gaza City on Tuesday, an official said.

Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said that three people in Nahal Oz were injured, one of whom was a journalist.

The three were taken to the hospital with moderate injuries, al-Qidra said.

Clashes broke out after dozens of people from the Intifada Youth Coalition rallied to demonstrate on the anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre. more

Israeli police attack Aqsa protesters ahead of annexation debate

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli troops and police raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex early Tuesday and forcefully dispersed Palestinian worshipers and protesters ahead of a Knesset debate on a plan to annex the mosque.

Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades at Muslim worshipers while protesters hurled stones.

Several worshipers were hurt as a result of the pepper spray and others were hit directly by rubber-coated bullets, witnesses said.

They added that Israeli intelligence agents stormed the Al-Aqsa complex through the Moroccan Gate and the Chain Gate and blockaded the prayer hall, closing its gates with chains.

Meanwhile, Jerusalemite students who study inside the complex were denied entry to Al-Aqsa, and three youths trying to access the complex though the Chain Gate were arrested, witnesses said.

Director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque Azzam al-Khatib said that Israeli forces also closed the Moroccan Gate and denied Jewish extremists entry to the complex.

He added that Israeli forces later pulled out and were deployed at the main gates. more

Monday, 24 February 2014

PA 'could address UN' over Israeli settlement boycott

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian diplomats could address the United Nations concerning a boycott of Israeli settlements if peace talks fail, a Palestinian diplomat said Monday.

Speaking to Ma'an on the condition of anonymity, the diplomat said that officials could address the boycott of "everything related to Israeli settlements."

Practical steps taken by the European Union and financial institutions have laid the groundwork for the Palestinian leadership "to give us the green light so we can take practical moves and openly ask the UN General Assembly to announce that it is forbidden for states and international companies and agencies to deal with settlements."

"One may say that such a decision by the General Assembly wouldn't be binding, but if 50 countries show readiness to this boycott, that will be a triumph," added the diplomat.

The PA could also apply to join the International Criminal Court and complain about "war crimes" such as illegal settlements. more

Hamas govt says to privatize Gaza crossings

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- The Hamas government has said it plans to let private contractors take over the running of the Palestinian territory's border crossings with Egypt and Israel.

"The government is to give the private sector the opportunity to handle the technical management of crossing points from the Gaza Strip," Hamas deputy prime minister Ziad al-Zaza told AFP on Saturday and said that a commission of seven businessmen would be dedicated to the project.

"Supervision of all terminals will be under government control," said Zaza, who is also finance minister.

The coastal strip, whose air and sea lanes are blocked by Israel, has three land crossings; Erez and Kerem Shalom with Israel and Rafah with Egypt.

Kerem Shalom is for goods only, while Erez and Rafah are for passenger traffic. more

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Gazans set up sit-in tent near Rafah crossing to protest blockade

GAZA, (PIC)-- The higher national committee for breaking the siege on Sunday set up a sit-in tent near the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip to protest Egypt's involvement in the Israeli blockade on the Palestinians in the Strip and the passivity of the international community towards the suffering of the population.

In a news conference held outside the tent, senior Hamas official Hammad Al-Raqab stated that Egypt's closure of the Rafah border crossing does not befit its historical positions towards the Palestinian people.

Raqab added that the blockade hit all service sectors in Gaza and exacerbated the suffering of patients due to an acute shortage of medical supplies.

He urged the Arab League to execute the resolution it had taken in 2006 to break Gaza siege, and demanded the international community to assume its humanitarian role in alleviating the suffering of the population in Gaza. more

Israeli Apartheid Week 2014

Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an international series of events that seeks to raise awareness about Israel’s apartheid policies towards the Palestinians and to build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
UK and US: February 24-March 2
Europe: March 1-8
Palestine: March 8 – 15
South Africa: March 10-16
Brazil: March 24-28
Arab world and Asia: TBA

Check out for the full call out, to find out more about how to participate and check out the list of events

Israel’s water apartheid embraced by Italy

Israel’s policy of “water apartheid” made a rare appearance in the mainstream media over the past few weeks.

Martin Schulz, the European Parliament’s president, drew a furious response from some Israeli politicians when he spoke during an address to the Israeli parliament, the Knesset of how Israeli settlers receive far more water than indigenous Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

Although Schulz cited figures mentioned to him by young people in Ramallah that were not accurate, the underlying problem is a very real one. A report published by the United Nations Human Rights Council last year stated that the average Israeli settler consumes as much as 400 liters per day, whereas a Palestinian in the West Bank has to make do with 73 liters and — in the case of many Bedouins — just 10 liters.

Despite that evidence, the Italian authorities have been happy to embrace Mekorot, the Israeli firm which diverts most of the water extracted from Palestinian springs to Israeli settlements.

Amnesty International has documented how Palestinians face severe rationing of water, particularly during the summer months, in order to ensure that Israeli settlers can still enjoy their swimming pools and floral displays (“Troubled Waters,” 27 October 2009 [PDF]).

At the Italy-Israel summit in Rome during December 2013, a cooperation agreement was signed between Mekorot and Acea, Italy’s largest water utility. Both firms undertook to examine how “cutting-edge technologies” for water management could be exchanged.

Palestine solidarity and public water campaigners have joined forces to oppose the agreement. more

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Rafah crossing to open on Sunday for 2 days

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Gaza Strip Ministry of the Interior said on Saturday that Egyptian authorities had agreed to open the Rafah crossing on Sunday morning in order to allow pilgrims and those stranded in Egypt to travel over the next two days.

The ministry said in a statement that the Egyptian side had informed them of their intention to open the crossing to allow the first batch of three groups of pilgrims to cross en route to Mecca as well as to allow the return of another group of pilgrims.

The crossing, which is the sole connection between the Gaza Strip's 1.5 million inhabitants and outside world, would also open to allow Palestinians currently stuck inside Egypt to return home.

However, there was no indication as to whether Egypt would allow humanitarian cases from the Gaza Strip to cross into Egypt. more

Palestinian-Israeli collaborator killed in Rehovot

A Palestinian citizen of Israel was shot dead by unknown assailants at a construction site in central Israel, early Saturday.

The victim was a 34-year-old Palestinian who had acquired Israeli citizenship after serving as a collaborator with Israeli intelligence service Shin Bet, and was a resident of Gedera in central Israel, a Ma'an reporter said.

The victim's name, however, was not immediately made public.

Paramedic Yousef Ismail told Ma'an that the body of a Palestinian-Israeli security guard was found at a construction site in Rehovot. more

Friday, 21 February 2014

Israeli intelligence claims Palestinians opened fire on navy boats

Israeli sources reported, Friday, that Israeli Navy boats came under fire close to the Rafah shore, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Israel said the incident took place last Wednesday, after the navy opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats.

The sources said that a gag order was lifted at midnight, on Thursday, and that the incident took place between Palestinian and Egyptian territorial waters.

According to the Israeli report, Israeli Navy vessels observed two speeding boats driving, from the Egyptian side, towards Palestinian waters, and opened fire at them before Palestinian gunmen on the shore opened fire at the Israeli Navy vessels, causing no damage or injuries. more

Medics: Palestinian shot, injured in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A young Palestinian was injured by Israeli forces on Friday morning east of Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, medics said.

Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma’an that a 21-year-old man was shot by Israeli forces located east of the camp.

He was taken to a hospital with moderate injuries, al-Qidra added. more

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Israeli naval boats open fire at Gaza fishermen

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli naval boats on Thursday opened fire at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Rafah in southern Gaza, witnesses said.

Fishermen in the boats jumped into the water following the incident, locals told Ma'an.

Gaza health official Ashraf al-Qidra confirmed that the fishermen survived the incident, without providing further details.

Israeli warships also opened fire at a military site formerly used by the Palestinian Authority's national security forces near Rafah.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said she was looking into the incident. more

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Israeli warships open fire at Gaza fishermen

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli warships opened fire at fishermen off the coast of Gaza City early Wednesday, a fisherman said.

A fisherman told Ma'an Israeli ships fired gunshots at Palestinian fishing boats, and that a shell hit the water near the boats.

No injuries were reported.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said that "warning shots were fired in the air," without providing further details.

Palestinian fishermen are only allowed to venture three nautical miles from Gaza's shore, though official Israeli-Palestinian agreements previously settled on 20 nautical miles. more

Video: Israeli bulldozers destroy 5 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Clashes broke out in East Jerusalem neighborhoods on Feb. 5 as Israeli bulldozers demolished five Palestinian homes.

Video footage shows Israeli police hurling tear gas canisters at Palestinian protesters, who throw rocks in response as houses crumble to the ground in the background.

On the day of the demolitions, Israel announced plans to construct over 550 new settler homes in East Jerusalem. more

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Israeli tanks, bulldozers cross Gaza border

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

Locals told Ma'an that four bulldozers escorted by military tanks entered an area east of the village of Khuzaa in Khan Younis district for 100 meters and leveled private Palestinian land.

Israeli forces fired smoke bombs in the area forcing local farmers to leave their fields. more

Monday, 17 February 2014

Reports: US-made robot to be deployed in tunnel fighting operations

By Hazen Hussain
Hebrew-language newspaper “Yedioth Ahronoth” said on Monday that the Occupation army will deploy a new US-made robot “Talon 4” to be used by “Yahloam” special military unit to fight the alleged tunnels on the border with Gaza Strip The robot will precede the occupation soldiers in entering the discovered tunnels for bombs presence fear.

“The new robot progressed well during the last year including discovering and fighting Gaza tunnels and was first used to inspect the recently discovered tunnel, east of Khan Younis in late 2013” the newspaper quoted occupation officers as saying.

The new robot has the ability save the soldiers’ lives where its absence caused injured to dozens of soldiers and officers during the operation of bombing the discovered tunnel.

Among the robots specifications, neutralize the bombs inside tunnels and in complete darkness using its long arm, catcher and a “Zig Zaor” pistol that could be activated remotely by the robot’s operators. The robot can take, record and send 4D high-quality pictures and dealing with different obstacles inside tunnels.

The occupation mechanic battalion praised the new robot saying “It can carry up to 30 KGs, endure low and high temperatures, self-destruction and working along long distances underground. more

Witnesses: Israeli forces open fire at farmers in southern Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Monday opened fire at farmers in an agricultural area in southern Gaza, locals said.

Witnesses said gunfire came from Israeli military watchtowers north of Khan Younis, causing farmers to flee the area.

An Israeli army spokesperson said she was not familiar with the incident. more

Rafah crossing closed for 5 days in a row

Egyptian authorities have closed the Rafah crossing for five days in a row, now, says Director General of Borders and Crossings in Gaza Maher, Abu Sabha.

He has called on Egypt to open the crossing permanently, to reduce the suffering of Palestinian people in Gaza, reports Al Ray News Agency.

Abu Sabha confirmed, in a statement, that he contacted the Egyptian side, demanding them to open the crossing for humanitarian cases.

Rafah crossing is considered the main crossing for 1.8 million Gazans. more

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Young woman injured by Israeli fire near Nablus

[Saturday, February 15, 2014] A young Palestinian woman was shot and wounded after Israeli soldiers opened fire at a Palestinian car close to a military roadblock, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

The sources said Nihad Kamal Aqel, 17 years of age, was shot by a live round to her thigh, and was moved to the Rafidia governmental hospital suffering a moderate injury.

The Israeli army alleged the soldiers opened fire at the car after the driver failed to stop at a temporary roadblock installed by the soldiers, close to the Yitzhar settlement, south of Nablus. more

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Locals: Israeli tank fires shell at open area in Gaza City

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- An Israeli tank on Saturday fired shells at an open area in Gaza City, locals said.

Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli tanks were stationed along the border facing the city's Shujaiyya neighborhood, and that one fired a shell into a Palestinian field.

No injuries were reported. more

Friday, 14 February 2014

Israeli forces open fire on Gaza protesters, 9 injured

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian protesters in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday, injuring nine people, witnesses said.

They opened fire east of Jabaliya in north Gaza, injuring one person seriously. Seven other people were lightly injured after being hit by tear gas canisters.

The wounded were taken to Kamal Adwan hospital for treatment.

An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed the shooting but did not say if anyone was injured.

"Hundreds of Palestinians were throwing stones to try to damage the security fence between Gaza and Israel," said the spokeswoman.

"Our soldiers tried to keep the crowd at bay by using anti-riot methods and by firing live bullets towards the legs of the main instigators," she added.

On Thursday, Israeli soldiers shot dead Ibrahim Suleiman Mansour, 26, and injured another man after shooting him in the foot. more

Factions meet in Gaza to discuss reconciliation

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Representatives of various Palestinian political parties held a meeting on Thursday evening in Gaza to discuss negotiations and national reconciliation.

Palestinian People's Party lawmaker Bassam al-Salhi briefed the representatives on the possible results of the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations during the meeting, and revealed the details of a letter he sent to President Mahmoud Abbas in this regard.

Al-Salhi said the letter included six main principles that should be upheld including preserving a state within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, the refusal of any Israeli presence on Palestinian lands, the release all Palestinian prisoner from Israeli jails, and ensuring a fair resolution issue of the refugees' right of return.

Fatah spokesman Fayiz Abu Aita said that there is an unanimity over the importance of achieving national reconciliation between the national factions, and on called Hamas to accept Fatah's recent initiative in order to push reconciliation forward. more

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Man killed, another injured by Israeli forces in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian man was shot dead and another injured on Thursday by Israeli forces east of Gaza city.

Spokesman for the Gaza ministry of health Ashraf al-Qidra said that Ibrahim Suleiman Mansour, 26, from an area east of al-Shujaiyeh died from injuries sustained after Israeli forces shot him in the head in nearby al-Montar east of Gaza City.

Al-Qidra added that another man, 21, was moderately injured after being shot in the foot.

Medics told Ma'an earlier that two people were taken to a hospital after the shooting at the border.

A Ma'an reporter said that the two men were collecting pebbles near the border when they were shot.

An Israeli army spokesman, however, told Ma'an that "several Palestinians approached the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip and began tampering with (the) fence."

"The soldiers operated in order to distance the suspects and after exhausting all possible means to do so fired at the main instigator," he added. more

Gaza patients forced to cover 'Palestine logo' to cross Erez

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Palestinian and Israeli civil liaison departments reached a deal on Thursday to allow patients from Gaza to enter Israel for medical treatment after earlier being denied access because their referral letters contained the "State of Palestine" logo.

Palestinian officials told Ma'an that the officials met Wednesday afternoon at the Erez crossing to try to find a temporary solution for patients seeking medical care.

A deal was reached to cross out the words "State of Palestine" on all official referral letters in order to allow patients entry to Israel, the officials said.

Over 190 patients were eventually allowed to cross into Israel and travel to the West Bank for medical treatment after the logo was blurred out.

On Wednesday, 70 patients who were scheduled to travel to the West Bank via the Erez crossing for treatment were denied entry because they presented documents including the "State of Palestine" on the letterheads. more

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Erdogan calls on Israel to lift Gaza blockade as a condition for negotiations

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded Israel to lift its blockade on the Gaza Strip in order to sign an agreement between the two countries.

Erdogan said in a press conference held in Ankara with his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rakhoi Wednesday night that significant progress has been made in the talks with Israel.

Israel Channel 2 quoted an Israeli official as saying that Israel will not agree to ease the Gaza blockade as a part of the deal it is negotiating with Turkey. more

A bright idea: Gazans use car batteries to power homes

MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad

As the Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip remains strict and intact affecting main aspects of life such as electricity and fuel, Gaza's residents continue to find creative solutions to problems caused by the siege.

Palestinian electrician Hassan Saeed did his best to develop a lighting circuit to illuminate the streets of his quarter in Al-Shejaea neighbourhood to the east of the Gaza Strip.

Saeed can use old car batteries, which maintain very little electricity, to light two 500 metre streets and 60 homes using LED panel lights.

The LED lights do not consume much electricity and the car batteries are used eight hours a day when the electricity supply cuts.

Supported by individual donations, Saeed can cover the cost of the necessary wires and LED panels. Some people offered him technical support and advice that helped in completing and maintaining his "plant". more

Book Review - 'Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza, Palestine'

By Sarah Irving (Electronic Intifada)

It’s not difficult for non-Arabic-reading audiences to get a taste of the variety and power of Palestinian literature. Translations of big names such as Mahmoud Darwish, Jabra Ibrahim Jabra and Emile Habibi have long been available, and in the last decade these have been joined by the likes of Mourid Barghouti, Adania Shibli, Ghassan Zaqtan and Samih al-Qasim.

The short stories collected in Gaza Writes Back (Just World Books) are not necessarily the work of future greats such as these — although it’s far from impossible.

What this selection offers is something rather different: the fresh voices of young (teenage and twenty-something), non-professional writers from Gaza, a group which is under-represented in Palestinian literature in translation.

These are the kind of voices we are more accustomed to finding in blogs, podcasts or videos, far from the literary establishment and speaking of the challenges facing Palestinians in very different ways.

But while many of these tales are filled with the kind of events and traumas we read of all-too-often in blogs and news articles about Gaza, they are genuine short stories. They have plots, suspense, characterization, psychological complexity and, most of all, the deep sense of feeling that comes from the meeting of experience and artistic sensibility.

Complex layers

Among the the stand-out examples from Gaza Writes Back it is worth mentioning Noura Al-Sousi’s “Canary,” in which the author moves between time periods and writes from different viewpoints in order to create a tale of interweaving emotions, motivations and perspectives. Memory, love, pain and a sense of what-ifs culminate in a genuine tension and a shocking and ambiguous ending.

The stories also reveal the complex layers of Palestinian society in Gaza which are often brushed over in politically-oriented news. Sameeha Elwan’s “Toothache in Gaza” and Elham Hilles’ “Lost at Once” both tackle the issue of class divisions.

Elwan exposes the indignities faced by those who can only afford to get their medical treatment from the under-resourced clinics of UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees. “[My father] said he had to go to the clinic an hour before me so that he could get me a place before it got jam-packed. How could a place get crowded at seven in the morning, I wondered.”

Hilles, meanwhile, presents a love story between an upper-class girl, and boy from Nuseirat refugee camp. Intertwining romance, pride, stubbornness and snobbery, their tale leads Eman (the protagonist) to a greater understanding of her society, even if its boundaries are destined to confine her hopes and desires. more

You can buy the book here

Israeli forces detain 5 teens in Old City of Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces detained five Palestinian teenagers in the Old City of Jerusalem late Tuesday, the Palestinian Prisoners' Society said.

Nasser Qaws, the director of the group's Jerusalem office, told Ma'an that Israeli soldiers raided the neighborhoods of Aqbat al-Khalidyya, the Chain Gate, al-Wadi, and Via Dolorosa and detained five boys between the ages of 14 and 15.

Qaws identified the detainees as Ayman Hashmiya, Taha Hashmiya, Muhammad al-Dadou, Murad Tarhouni, and Rashid al-Rashiq. more

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Israeli navy detains 3 Gaza fishermen

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces detained three fishermen off the coast of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip early Tuesday, witnesses said.

Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli warships stopped two fishing boats and arrested three fishermen at gunpoint. The boats and fishermen were taken to an unknown location.

One of the fishermen was identified as Fadil Sultan.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said two Palestinian boats entered a "prohibited fishing zone" early Tuesday.

After ordering the boats to stop and firing warning shots in their vicinity, the Israeli Navy took the fishermen in for questioning, the spokeswoman said.

Palestinian fishermen are only allowed to venture three nautical miles from Gaza's shore, though official Israeli-Palestinian agreements previously settled on 20 nautical miles. more

Israel intelligence services step up propaganda war in attempt to beat boycott

Israeli spies have been ordered to dig up intelligence showing that supporters of an economic boycott are linked to terrorists and enemy states.

The strategy was presented at a ministerial meeting called to discuss how to respond to the growing number of foreign companies refusing to do business with Israeli entities operating in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. They are considered illegal under international law.

At the meeting, Yuval Steinitz, the Minister for Intelligence and Strategy, outlined a plan for a media blitz against organisations advocating boycotts.

His strategy includes intelligence agencies working to expose “their connection to terror organisations and enemy states”, the Hebrew-language newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

Oxfam was accused of promoting an anti-Israeli boycott last month when it parted company with Scarlett Johansson, the Hollywood star, over her promotional work for Sodastream. The Israeli company manufactures products in a West Bank settlement.

Oxfam insisted that it did not support a total economic boycott of Israel, a campaign led by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, but merely opposed trade with the settlements. It argued that they were stifling the development of an independent Palestinian economy.

Britain also opposes a boycott, but continues to regard the settlements as illegal and not part of the state of Israel. Last month it rewrote its guidelines on British investment in Israel to warn of the potential reputational damage of doing business with settlements.

The British Embassy in Tel Aviv avoids products from West Bank settlements, as does the consulate in East Jerusalem.

In addition to new guidelines prohibiting European Union grants to, or investment in the settlements, Brussels is to issue new rules requiring the separate labelling of Israeli goods produced in the West Bank to allow consumers to make more informed choices about their purchases.

Last month’s decision by the second largest pension fund in the Netherlands to divest from Israel’s five biggest banks because of their links to the settlements sent new shockwaves through business and political circles. Norway’s government pension fund and Denmark’s Danske Bank announced their divestment from settlement-linked banks this month. more

Israeli airstrikes target central, northern Gaza Strip

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli airstrikes rocked northern Gaza City and al-Nuseirat refugee camp early Tuesday, causing damages, security sources and locals said.

Three air-to-surface missiles struck the Abu Jarad militant base in Gaza City, causing a fire to break out, the sources said.

Heavy damages, but no injuries, were reported.

Additionally, Israeli warplanes fired missiles at an open area near Gaza's power plant north of al-Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.

Israel's army said in a statement that a rocket fired from Gaza late Monday landed in an open area in southern Israel. more

Monday, 10 February 2014

Palestinian official: Israel may attack Gaza to undermine peace plan

GAZA, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erikat said on Monday that Israel may wage a war on the Hamas- ruled Gaza Strip to foil an expected peace plan of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would attack Gaza if Kerry is going to propose a practical peace plan that is based on international law, Erikat told Xinhua.

"This is a possible reaction to avoid signing a peace deal," Erikat said.

He added Israel's recent threats against Gaza are very dangerous, urging the international community to take what Israel is preparing for into consideration.

On Kerry's peace plan that is expected to be proposed soon, Erikat said the Palestinian side has not received anything from the Americans so far.

The U.S.-sponsored peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis resumed last July and are set to end in April.

However, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have said on various occasions that no tangible progress had been achieved in the process.

Cross-border violence between Israel and Gaza militants has escalated recently, raising fears of a possible collapse of a one- year shaky cease-fire brokered by Egypt. more

PA plans airport in West Bank, seaport and railway in Gaza

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Transport has been working with Egypt to prepare plans for an airport in the occupied West Bank and a seaport and railway line in the Gaza Strip, a minister said Sunday.

Nabil Dmeidi, PA minister of transport and chairman of Palestinian Airlines, told Ma'an that the transport ministry has signed a protocol of cooperation with Egypt's civil aviation authority in order to benefit from Egyptian expertise.

The airport is planned to be built east of Jericho and Egyptian experts are due to visit the West Bank to explore possible locations for a second smaller airport on land currently designated as Area C, under full Israeli security and administrative control.

Dmeidi, who is currently visiting Cairo, added that a plan is being discussed to build a railway line between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, with the nearest Egyptian railway station 70 kilometers away in Beer al-Abed.

Plans are also being discussed to build a seaport in the Gaza Strip, he added.

The Yasser Arafat International Airport in Gaza was destroyed by Israel's military during the Second Intifada and now lies in ruins. more

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Israeli airstrike on motorcycle injures two men in central Gaza Strip

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli warplanes targeted a motorcycle in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on Sunday morning, injuring two young Palestinian men, Gaza medical sources said.

Spokesman for the Gaza Strip ministry of health Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma'an that two Palestinian men were evacuated to al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah after an Israeli reconnaissance plane fired a missile at their motorcycle.

Medics said one of the victims was critically wounded and the other sustained moderate injuries.

An Israeli army statement identified the target of the strike as Abdallah Kharti, who was described as a "key Popular Resistance Committees operative" who was involved with "numerous incidents of rocket fire towards Israel." more

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Medics: 5 injured by Israeli fire in Gaza on Friday

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Five Palestinians were wounded by Israeli army gunfire Friday near the separation barrier in the northern Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical sources said.

Ashraf al-Qudra, a spokesman for the Hamas-run health ministry in the territory, said the five men were in their early twenties.

One was in serious condition from a shot to the chest, he told AFP.

Palestinian witnesses said the soldiers opened fire after they were attacked by stones hurled over the border fence. more

2 Palestinians killed in separate explosions in central Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Two Palestinians were killed and two others were injured in separate explosions in and around Gaza's al-Bureij refugee camp late Friday, medical sources said.

Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma'an that 27-year-old Hani Salameh was killed in an "ambiguous" explosion in al-Buriej camp in central Gaza.

His body was taken to al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital near Deir al-Balah, al-Qidra said.

Local sources told Ma'an that Salamah was a member of al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing.

Earlier Friday, another Palestinian man was killed and two others injured in a separate explosion east of al-Bureij refugee camp, medical sources said. more

Friday, 7 February 2014

Fatah delegation arrives in Gaza

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A Fatah Central Committee delegation arrived in Gaza on Friday as part of a visit to review the situation of Fatah in the coastal enclave.

Fatah spokesman in Gaza, Fayiz Abu Aita, told Ma'an that the delegation consisted of Nabil Shaath, Jamal Muheisin, Sakhr Bseisu and Muhammad al-Madani.

The delegation was greeted by Fatah and Hamas leaders, including Basim Naim, Ghazi Hamad, and Taher al-Nouno.

Abu Aita said that the delegation will examine the movement's internal organization and determine any difficulties faced by Fatah in Gaza.

The length and schedule of the visit have not yet been determined.

Last week, the leading body of the Fatah movement in the Gaza Strip submitted its resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas. more

Danish parliament leader to visit Gaza, bypass Israel

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The speaker for the Danish parliament Mogens Lykketoft is set to visit the West Bank and Gaza next week, Israeli media reported on Thursday.

The website for the Israeli channel 10 reported that Lykketoft will not meet any Israeli officials during the visit, which caused outrage in Israel.

Israeli Knesset leader, Yuli Edelstein, criticized the Danish official for visiting Gaza and Ramallah and not meeting Israeli officials, Channel 10 reported. more

Thursday, 6 February 2014

How “historic” Israel-Jordan water deal leaves Palestinians high and dry

World media recently lauded a new project, backed by the World Bank, that will allegedly “save” the Dead Sea and prove that peace is possible through cooperation to manage natural resources. But the scheme only threatens to make an already disastrous situation worse, as well as robbing Palestinians of their right to water.

The Dead Sea, the fabled salt lake bordered by Jordan, present-day Israel and the occupied West Bank, is shrinking at an alarming rate of around 1.5 meters per year. As a result, hotels built right at the shoreline just a few years ago are now dozens of meters from the water’s edge.

Environmental assessment studies show that some of the damage done — for instance to the Eastern Aquifer Basin — is already irreversible. To slow and reverse this catastrophe, Israel and Jordan proposed in 2002 to build a 180-kilometer canal to replenish the Dead Sea with water from the Red Sea. They claimed — falsely — that the project would prevent the destruction of the Dead Sea, but the plan never addressed the most obvious and direct cause: the diversion of the upstream waters of the Jordan River, which feed the salty lake, mainly by Israel.

As a consequence the natural flow of the Jordan River — the body of water in which Christian tradition holds that Jesus was baptized — has dropped from 1,350 million cubic meters (mcm) per year of fresh water to the Dead Sea, to a mere 20 mcm.

That is just two percent of its original flow. And even this sad remainder is mostly made up of raw sewage and brine — salty water — injected by Israel south of Lake Tiberias. Additionally, Israel’s Dead Sea industries — and on a smaller scale Jordan’s — extract potash (used for fertilizer) and other minerals from the southern end of the lake. This large-scale mining operation is greatly accelerating the disappearance of the Dead Sea. Palestinians, meanwhile — although they share the Dead Sea’s shore — have never been allowed to share in the region’s mineral wealth, nor to draw fresh water from the Jordan. more

Denmark’s largest bank blacklists Israel’s Hapoalim over settlement construction

Denmark’s largest bank decided to blacklist Bank Hapoalim because of its involvement in the funding of settlement construction.

Danske Bank added Bank Hapoalim to its list of companies in which the company cannot invest due to its corporate accountability rules.

In an announcement posted on its website, the bank stated that Bank Hapoalim was acting against the rules of international humanitarian law.

Israeli website Walla reported on the Danish bank’s decision earlier on Saturday.

The Danish bank had already decided to pull its investments from Africa Israel Investments Ltd. and Danya Cebus due to their involvement in settlements construction.


Witnesses: Israeli forces enter Gaza border area, level lands

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli military vehicles entered a border area in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, locals said.

Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli military vehicles and four bulldozers entered the al-Fukhari neighborhood and levelled Palestinian agricultural land. more

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Israel okays plans for over 550 East Jerusalem settler homes

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel on Wednesday pushed forward with plans to build more than 550 new homes in illegal settlements in annexed East Jerusalem, the city council said.

In a statement listing "building permits that were approved" during a local planning committee session, it said permits were granted to private contractors to build 386 units in Har Homa, 136 units in Neve Yaakov and 36 units in Pisgat Zeev.

Issuing construction permits is one of the last stages before construction begins, with building likely to start in the coming weeks, Israel's Peace Now settlement watchdog said.

Israel and the Palestinians began a round of direct peace talks at the end of July with the aim of reaching an agreement within nine months.

But the US-led negotiations have been overshadowed by Israel's refusal to rein in construction plans on occupied Palestinian land. more

Hamas redeploys forces along Gaza border

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Hamas government in Gaza has redeployed security forces along its borders with Israel to prevent rocket fire, an interior ministry official said Tuesday.

Islam Shahwan said that the interior ministry's role is to "secure and fortify the home front and the agreements approved by resistance factions to realize our people's interests, security and stability."

The "resistance in Gaza will not allow the occupation to violate the ceasefire which had been reached after the occupation was defeated in the 2012 battle," he added.

Days earlier, a security source in Gaza said that Hamas had withdrawn a special security force tasked with preventing rocket fire at Israel. more

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Rafah crossing to operate for 3 days

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing with Gaza on Tuesday, officials from Gaza's Interior Ministry said.

Two buses have crossed from the Gaza Strip to Egypt, Gaza officials said.

The crossing will be open until Thursday with priority given to passengers who registered to travel between Jan. 30 and Feb. 1.

The Rafah crossing has been the principal connection between Gaza's 1.7 million residents and the outside world since the imposition of an economic blockade by the State of Israel beginning in 2007. more

Israeli officer killed by friendly fire near Gaza border

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- An Israeli officer was killed overnight Monday by friendly fire near the northern Gaza border, Israel's army said.

"The IDF confirms an IDF officer was killed overnight following misidentified discharge during routine activity adjacent to the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip. The circumstances of the incident are being investigated," an Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma'an.

An Israeli soldier mistakenly shot the officer after believing he was a "terrorist," Israeli news site Ynet reported. more

Monday, 3 February 2014

Thousands attend funeral for remains returned to Bethlehem

Thousands of people attended the funeral, on Monday, of two Palestinians whose remains were returned, by Israel, a day earlier.

Ma'an News Agency reports that, on Sunday, relatives gathered at the Tarqumia checkpoint, southwest of Hebron, late Sunday to receive the remains of Ayat al-Akhras, from Duheisha refugee camp, and Daoud Abu Swayy, from the village of Artas.

Al-Akhras, 18, died in 2002 after she detonated an explosive belt outside a supermarket in West Jerusalem, killing herself, 17-year-old Rachel Levy, and a security guard.

Abu Swayy, 46, died after detonating an explosive belt in West Jerusalem outside of the David Citadel Hotel. Three people were injured in the blast. more

Gaza families visit relatives jailed in Israel

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Dozens of family members from the Gaza Strip visited relatives jailed in Israel on Monday, an official from the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

Nasser al-Najjar told Ma'an that 84 people, including 17 children, left the coastal enclave via the Erez, or Beit Hanoun, crossing to visit 40 Palestinians detained in Israel's Ramon prison. more