Monday, 31 March 2014

7 children injured in explosion in Rafah caused by Israeli ordnance

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Seven children were injured by an unidentified explosion in Rafah in southern Gaza on Sunday, a medical official said.

Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma’an that seven children were injured in the explosion, which was suspected to have resulted from old Israeli ordnance in al-Saudi camp in the Tal al-Sultan area in Rafah.

Six of the Injured were identified as Ahmad Imad Abu Muhsen, Mohammad Imad Abu Muhsen, Ameen Imad Abu Muhsen, Mahmoud Wael al-Nerab, Momen Wael al-Nerab, and Rajab Mohammad al-Maghaari. more

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Amnesty warns Israel against “violent crackdown” on Land Day

Amnesty International has warned Israel against a “violent crackdown” on protests in present-day Israel, the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip this weekend as Palestinians mark Land Day.

Despite the warning, Israeli occupation forces and settlers have continued violent attacks on Palestinians in several locations.

Every 30 March, Palestinians commemorate the 1976 killing by Israeli police of six Palestinian citizens who were taking part in mass marches against land expropriation and state-sponsored discrimination in the Galilee.

“Amid news of plans for forced evictions of Bedouin in the Negev/Naqab, demolitions of Palestinian homes in the West Bank and the often lethal enforcement of a no-go zone in Gaza, ‘Land Day’ demonstrations will protest ongoing policies as well as commemorate historical events. Israeli forces must not resort to unnecessary or excessive force as they so often have done in the past,” Philip Luther, director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa program, said in media release.

Luther recalled that in a report published last month, titled Trigger-happy: Israel’s use of excessive force in the West Bank, Amnesty revealed that Israeli forces “routinely resort to unnecessary, arbitrary and excessive force against Palestinian demonstrators” in the occupied West Bank and that “dozens of Palestinian protesters who posed no direct threat to life, including children, have been killed there in recent years with near total impunity.” more

Egypt denies Malaysian delegation entry to Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities on Sunday denied entry to a Malaysian delegation seeking to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing, Gaza government officials said.

Palestinian officials said eight solidarity activists from Malaysia attempted to cross through to Gaza four times, and that on the fourth time they were deported.

The officials denounced the Egyptian actions, saying the Malaysian delegation was set to provide Gaza residents with humanitarian aid through the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Gaza City.

Egypt opened the Rafah crossing to special cases for a three-day period starting Saturday. more

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Palestinians hope prisoner release delay will be brief

RAMALLAH (AFP) -- A senior Palestinian official said a release by Israel of Palestinian prisoners would not go ahead on Saturday as envisaged but he hoped there would only be short delay.

"Today the prisoners will not be released ... maybe in the coming days," Issa Qaraqe, the minister of prisoners' affairs, told AFP.

"We have told the families of the prisoners that they will not be released today," he added."

"There are efforts to solve the crisis and I believe that in 24 hours everything will be clearer."

Under the deal that relaunched peace talks last July, Israel agreed to release 104 Palestinians held since before the 1993 Oslo peace accords in exchange for the Palestinians not pressing their statehood claims at the United Nations. more

Friday, 28 March 2014

Turkey says Israel deal close over Gaza flotilla deaths

KONYA, Turkey (AFP) -- Turkey hopes to soon close a difficult chapter with Israel sparked by a deadly commando raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla of aid ships in 2010, Turkish foreign minister told AFP.

Nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists were killed in the Israeli assault, sparking a major crisis between the long-time regional allies and compensation claims from the victims' families.

In the diplomatic tussle since, "the gap between the expectations of the two sides is closing," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told AFP in an interview on Wednesday.

"Progress has been made to a great extent, but the two sides need to meet again for a final agreement," he said.

Sticking points have been the amount of compensation and the legal status of the deal, but Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said earlier this week that an agreement would soon be signed.

He said that after Turkish local elections Sunday -- seen as a major electoral test for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- "our first job will be making sure the compensation is bound by a legal document."

Davutoglu also said that "an answer is expected from the Israeli side" to Turkey's demands. "It is our preference, whether it will be before or after the elections ... We do whatever is right at the right time." more

Settlers prepare move into key East Jerusalem site

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Radical Jewish settlers are readying to move into a major property in the commercial heart of occupied East Jerusalem, overlooking the walls of the Old City, officials have told AFP.

A large part of the property, which also houses East Jerusalem's main post office and an Israeli police station, was purchased last year by a radical settler group called Ateret Cohanim, which bought it from Israel's Bezeq telecoms company.

Located on the corner of Salah al-Din and Sultan Suleiman in the busy center of East Jerusalem just outside the Old City walls, the property is currently being converted into a Jewish seminary, or yeshiva, an Israeli official and Palestinian workers said.

Ateret Cohanim actively works to settle as many Jews as possible in densely populated Palestinian areas in and around the Old City.

The purchase was first reported in Israel's Haaretz newspaper, which published part of an email in which Ateret Cohanim’s executive director Daniel Luria contacted supporters to announce the acquisition of more than 1,000 square meters in "a very large and strategic building" just outside the Old City. more

Thursday, 27 March 2014

NGO: Israel at fault over killing of West Bank teen

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli troops who shot dead a Palestinian teenager in the occupied West Bank last week used live fire, without warning, against innocent youngsters out foraging for roots, an Israeli rights group said Wednesday.

After investigating the March 19 death of 15-year-old Yussef Sami Shawamreh, B'Tselem said it had found no evidence to support the army's version of events that troops had opened fire at youths who had "sabotaged" the West Bank separation wall.

But an army spokesman insisted troops had fired warning shots, adding that recent violence along the border with the Gaza Strip and on the Syrian frontier meant that anyone approaching the barrier was a cause for concern.

B'Tselem said the primary responsibility for the boy's death rested with the commanders who approved the use of live fire at a site where villagers from Deir al-Asal al-Tahta are known to go out and pick wild plants on their own land. more

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Israeli warship opens fire at Gaza fishermen, injuring 4

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli warships early Wednesday fired at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, injuring four fishermen, witnesses and medics said.

Witnesses told Ma'an the four fishermen were brought to nearby Kamal Udwan Hospital, where medics said they sustained moderate injuries.

Additionally, witnesses said the Israeli navy shelled fishing boats that were docked in the harbor, causing a fire to break out before emergency services arrived to control the fire.

One of the shells it electricity lines, causes a power outage in the area, locals told Ma'an.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said that overnight, "navy soldiers identified Palestinian vessels drifting into Egyptian territorial waters in a suspected smuggling attempt."

When the boats returned to Gaza's territorial waters, soldiers in an Israel navy ship called on them stop, the spokeswoman said. After they did not stop, the Israeli ship fired shots in boats' vicinity, and afterwards at the boats themselves. more

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Egypt prevents Gaza pilgrims from crossing Rafah

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities prevented hundreds of pilgrims from returning home to Gaza on Monday after closing the Rafah crossing, witnesses said.

The passengers, who were returning from the Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca, arrived at Rafah on Monday afternoon but were forced to go back to the city of el-Arish by Egypt's army.

The pilgrims spent the night at the bus station in the city before trying to cross on Tuesday.

Many Palestinian pilgrims say Egyptian security procedures slow down their return to the Gaza Strip.

Egypt is expected to open the crossing on Tuesday to allow the stranded pilgrims to return to Gaza, Maher Abu Sabha, the manager of Gaza border crossings, told Ma'an.

The crossing is the principal connection between Gaza's 1.7 million residents and the outside world since the imposition of an economic blockade in 2007. more

Israeli army fires shell into northern Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Israeli army fired an artillery shell into the northern Gaza Strip on Monday, witnesses told Ma'an.

Locals said that the shell landed in the Buart Abu Samra area of Beit Lahia.

No injuries were reported, medics said. It was not immediately clear if the shell caused damages. more

Monday, 24 March 2014

Hamas warns Israel over calls to attack Gaza

Gaza's Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has warned Israel it would pay a "very high price" if it heeded its foreign minister's call to reoccupy the besieged enclave to try to halt rocket attacks.

Speaking on Sunday to tens of thousands of supporters at a public rally marking 10 years since an Israeli air strike killed Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Haniyeh warned Israel that Gaza fighters had far more capabilities than in the past.

Ismail Haniyeh, Gaza's Hamas leader

"We tell the enemy and [Israeli Foreign Minister] Lieberman who is threatening to reoccupy Gaza that the time for your threats is over," Haniyeh told a rally in Gaza City.

"Any aggression or crime or stupidity you commit will cost you a very high price."

On March 12, during a two-day flare-up in which Gaza Palestinians fired at least 60 rockets into Israel and the Israelis responded with dozens of air strikes, Lieberman said Israel would have no choice but to reoccupy Gaza, from which it withdrew its troops and settlers in summer 2005.

Israel started an ongoing siege on the enclave after Hamas won the elections in 2006. more

Clashes at Aida camp continue for 2nd day - 8 Palestinian, 2 soldiers injured

As the Israeli military continues its invasion of the Aida refugee camp, near Bethlehem, local sources have reported that 8 Palestinians and 2 Israeli soldiers have been injured.

One of the wounded Palestinians was hit in the head by a rubber-coated steel bullet, and his injuries were described as moderate. 7 other Palestinians were hospitalized after being hit by Israeli rubber-coated steel bullets.

The two Israeli soldiers were lightly wounded when Palestinian youth threw bricks from the roof of a building. The soldiers were wearing helmets and riot gear, so were not badly injured by the bricks.

Two Israeli soldiers and a Palestinian youth were injured as clashes with Israeli forces in Aida refugee camp, north of Bethlehem, continued for a second day, Sunday.

Locals told Ma'an News Agency that Israeli forces raided several houses in the camp, taking them over and using them as military posts, while firing tear gas grenades throughout the camp. Local youth responded by hurling rocks at Israeli forces.

According to Ynet, two soldiers were "critically" wounded in the clashes. more

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Activists hold global day of action for Palestinian right of return

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Activists around the world held a day of action entitled "Return Unifies Us" on Saturday in support of the implementation of the right to return of all Palestinian refugees, especially those currently in Syria.

"By insistence on the unity and cohesion of our people everywhere, the unity of their struggle, and the oneness of their destiny, the right of return to their homes of origin and other national principles can be achieved," a call signed by more than one hundred Palestinian popular associations around the world read.

Organizers hoped to raise awareness about the plight of the more than seven million Palestinian refugees, who are the descendants of the more than 700,000 Palestinians expelled from their homes by Israeli forces in the 1948 Nakba, or "catastrophe." Israeli authorities continue to refuse to allow the refugees to return, despite UN resolution 194 mandating they be allowed to do so. more

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Malignant tumors and disabilities soar among Palestinian prisoners

Attorneys of the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees Affairs expressed grave concerns over the health status of several Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons.

The health status of several Palestinian prisoners is extremely worrisome as they suffer from serious spreading diseases, especially malignant tumors, disabilities and palsy (paralyses), coupled with deliberate medical negligence.

WAFA reports that the health status of Yusri ‘Attya, sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment in Eshel, is extremely serious, as he suffers from lymphatic cancer that is spreading to new parts of his body, attorney Rami al-‘Alami said.

The health status of Muʻtasem Raddad, a prisoner sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment in Hadarim, is deteriorating every day as he suffers from intestinal cancer and massive bleeding (hemorrhage), according to attorney Ashraf al-Khatib.

Al-Khatib added that Muʻtasem is supposed to undergo a surgery to excise his intestines and that he suffers from intestinal bleeding, anemia, weight loss, arthritis, and chronic blood pressure.

He considered the Israeli court’s refusal to release Muʻtasem before the end of his sentence as ‘a decision to assassinate him’ since the court is aware of his serious status. more

Royal Institute of British Architects backs Israel boycott motion

The Council of the Royal Institute of British Architects has voted to call on the International Union Of Architects to exclude the Israeli Association of United Architects over its refusal to oppose Israel’s construction of illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian territory.

Abe Hayeem, RIBA member and chair of Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, said:

“This motion sends a clear message that there is a price to pay for Israel’s decades long impunity in pursuing these apartheid policies, and that the humane principles of our profession cannot be ignored. One small step by the RIBA Council in supporting this motion – one landmark leap for ethics, justice and integrity for our profession.”

Responding to the news, Rafeef Ziadah, a spokesperson from the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the coalition of Palestinian trade unions, campaigns, NGOs and political parties that works to lead and support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, said:

“Architects and planners are central to Israel’s colonisation of Palestinian land and the forced displacement of Palestinian people. Given the complicity of the Israeli Association of United Architects in Israel’s construction of illegal Israeli settlements, it is only right that it is excluded from international forums.

“Following on from major pension funds divesting from Israel and mainstream artists joining the boycott, the RIBA vote shows how the boycott of Israel has entered the mainstream. Congratulations to Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine and RIBA for their principled stance.”

After a tough and passionate Council debate on 19 March 2014, the pillar of the UK’s architects’ professional association, the RIBA , passed the motion supporting action that should be taken by the International Union Of Architects’ to suspend the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) from the world body of architects, the UIA. The Motion was passed by 23 votes to 16 with 10 abstentions. The vote follows a similar motion earlier in the week by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).

“Since the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) has paid no regard to the UIA resolution 13 of 2005 and 2009, the RIBA calls on the UIA, as the international guardian of professional and ethical standards in our profession, to suspend the membership of the Israeli Association of United Architects, until it acts to resist these illegal projects, and observes international law, and the UIA Accords and Resolution 13,” the RIBA motion reads. more

Friday, 21 March 2014

Qassam brigades member killed in 'internal explosion' in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A member of the armed wing of Hamas was killed in "internal explosion" east of Gaza City on Friday, medical sources said.

Spokesperson for the Gaza Strip Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma'an that Ibrahim Rifati, 22, arrived dead to the Shifa Hospital after an explosion in the neighborhood of Tuffah.

Al-Qassam Brigades that Rifati was killed in an "accidental explosion" while carrying out a "jihadist mission" in the corps of engineers. more

Israeli forces shoot, injure 2 in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Friday shot and injured two Palestinians east of Jabaliya refuge camp in the northern Gaza Strip, medical officials said.

They told Ma'an that two people were taken to nearby hospitals in moderate condition after being shot near the eastern cemetery in the camp.

An Israeli army spokesman said forces identified two hits after firing on two Palestinians who attempted to climb over a security fence and failed to respond to warnings.

In early March, Israeli forces shot and killed 57-year-old Aminah Qudeih east of Khan Younis when she approached the separation barrier between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

The woman's relatives told AP she was mentally ill, and assumed she wandered toward the border by mistake. more

Israel forces claim to discover tunnel beneath Gaza border

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces said in a statement on Friday that they had found a tunnel "built by Gaza terrorists" leading hundreds of meters into Israel earlier in the week, a day after Hamas officials downplayed the discovery.

"The exposure of this tunnel was based on intelligence, and boots on the ground in the vicinity of the Gaza security fence," Israeli army spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said in the statement.

The spokesman added that the tunnel "posed a direct link and threat to Israeli territory," and that it potentially could have enabled "Hamas terrorists to reach and harm Israeli civilians."

"In the past Gaza terrorists have utilized such tunnels to Israel for infiltration, detonation and abduction of Israeli citizens," he said.

The statement said that three such tunnels had been discovered by Israeli forces in 2013. more

Thursday, 20 March 2014

2 Palestinian prisoners end hunger strike after 70 days

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) – Two Palestinian prisoners suspended a 70-day hunger strike Wednesday after the Israeli authorities agreed to their demands, a lawyer said.

Jawad Bulous of the Palestinian prisoner’s society visited hunger strikers Muammar Banat and Akram al-Fseisi at Kaplan Medical Center in northern Israel. He said in a statement that an Israeli prosecutor agreed to the demands the two announced when they started the strike.

Bulous confirmed that the Israeli authorities agreed to set a time limit for their administrative detention without trial. Banat’s administrative term, he added, must end by May 2014, and al-Fseisi’s must end by August 2014. more

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Conflict and catastrophe: Gaza’s never-ending tragedy

For the Gaza Strip, crisis is routine, conflict annual and humanitarian catastrophe inevitable.

The crisis stems from the Israeli blockade that has lasted nearly seven years. The result is a pressure cooker situation, once again close to explosion. The 1.8 million Palestinians living in the area are not permitted to enjoy a normal existence. The most basic necessities of life, including water, power, food and medicines, are not a right but privileges that can be denied at will or reduced. Palestinians in Gaza are trapped, cannot travel and cannot trade. All this has been exacerbated by regional crises. The new government in Egypt closed the tunnels under the border that once numbered nearly 2,000 and provided much of Gaza’s food, fuel and other needs. The Syria crisis has led to slashes in funding as donors struggle find the dollars.

And conflict? Diplomats might be excused for not foreseeing the events of 2011, yet with Gaza this is not the case. The chances of a full-scale resumption of major hostilities last seen in November 2012 are increasing daily. Earlier this month, Israeli forces killed three Islamic Jihad fighters leading to the largest barrage of rocket fire in two years, and then Israeli attacks on 29 targets in the strip. An major Israeli offensive would be Operation Cast Lead round three, the third major assault since December 2008. It may not happen this month but at some point an Israeli prime minister will either want, or feel compelled, to act, not least for fear of looking weak; a disaster in Israeli politics.

The Gaza catastrophe has also been well signposted. By 2020, U.N. agencies have reported, Gaza will not be viable. The U.N. asked what happens when the aquifer becomes unusable in 2016 and Gaza runs out of water? What is worrying is not just that nobody has come up with the answer, but nobody seems to care.

Unimpressive international response

If one audits the international response to these challenges it is singularly unimpressive. Nothing has radically changed to the blockade since 2007, even though all know it is unsustainable. There is no genuine attempt to broker a political solution to the situation in Gaza that could ward off another round of hostilities. Whilst the U.N. posed all the right questions, supported by data, which state has formulated a plan to offset the catastrophe? Moreover, international donors continue to foot the bill of political failure. more

Israeli forces shoot, kill Palestinian teen south of Hebron

HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian teenager in the Hebron district on Wednesday, security and medical sources said.

The sources said the 15-year-old was attempting to cross Israel's separation wall near the southernmost West Bank area of al-Ramadin when Israeli forces shot him dead.

Israeli troops gave him no warning before shooting him, the sources said.

The youth was identified as Yousef Nayif Yousef Shawamrah Abu Akar from the village of Deir al-Asal al-Fauqa south of Hebron.

Israeli forces have yet to deliver his body. more

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Hamas says Egypt closing Gaza border 'crime against humanity'

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Hamas on Tuesday sharply criticized Egypt's closure of the Rafah border crossing, saying Cairo's tightening of restrictions on the Palestinian territory was a "crime against humanity."

"The Egyptian authorities' insistence on closing the Rafah crossing and tightening the Gaza blockade... is a crime against humanity by all standards and a crime against the Palestinian people," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement.

He condemned "the continuation of this blockade and closing the crossing, all whilst Israel escalates and (increases) aggression".

"We hold all parties to the blockade of Gaza completely responsible for the consequences of this crime," he said.

Egypt has severely restricted access through the border city of Rafah -- Gaza's only gateway to the world that is not controlled by Israel -- ostensibly for security reasons.

The Hamas interior ministry says Rafah, for many Gazans the only passage in and out of the territory and a crucial crossing for supplies, has now been closed for 39 straight days. more

Israeli warships fire at Palestinian fishermen near Gaza coast

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli warships late Monday fired at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the southern Gaza Strip, fishermen said.

Fishermen told Ma'an Israeli forces fired at them off the coast of Khan Younis. No injuries were reported, but the fishermen said they were forced to sail back to shore.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the boat had "deviated from its designated fishing zone."

"Israeli navy soldiers called on the boat to stop, but once it failed to comply, they opened fire in its vicinity" and it returned to its designated area.

The incident comes a day after the Israeli military exchanged fire with Palestinian militants on the shore in southern Gaza in a late-night face-off. more

PA Official: Israel to reopen Kerem Shalom crossing Wednesday

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israel will reopen the Kerem Shalom crossing with the Gaza Strip on Wednesday after keeping it closed for six consecutive days, a Palestinian official said.

Nazmi Muhanna, the Palestinian Authority director of border crossings, told Ma'an Tuesday that Israeli officials had informed the Palestinian side that the Kerem Shalom crossing would resume operations Wednesday.

The crossing was open Sunday and Monday, but only for fuel deliveries.

Israel shut down the crossing last Wednesday in the wake of a flare-up of violence that began when an Israeli airstrike killed three Palestinian militants in southern Gaza the day before.

Militant groups in Gaza then fired barrages of rockets at Israeli towns, causing minor damages but no injuries. Israel hit back with airstrikes.

With the Rafah crossing with Egypt regularly closed, Gaza has become dependent on goods brought from Israel via Kerem Shalom. more

Monday, 17 March 2014

$170m loss for Israeli water firm as BDS spreads to Argentina

In the latest success for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, authorities in Buenos Aires, Argentina, have suspended a proposed $170m water treatment plant deal with Israeli state water firm, Mekorot.

The decision comes after a recent campaign by local trade unions and human rights groups which connected Mekorot’s role in the Israeli theft of Palestinian water resources, with evidence that the project did not meet Argentine standards and necessities, reports the Alternative Information Center (AIC). treatment plant deal with Israeli state water firm, Mekorot.

Campaigners argue that Mekorot was attempting to export the discriminatory water policies it has developed against the Palestinian people, with regard to Argentina. treatment plant deal with Israeli state water firm, Mekorot.

This victory largely contradicts Israeli claims, last expressed during Netanyahu’s speech at the AIPAC, that the global south, eager for Israeli technology, are uncontested growing markets. moretreatment plant deal with Israeli state water firm, Mekorot.

Gaza power plant restart delayed over fuel

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Gaza's sole power station will not resume operations until Monday, despite Israel reopening a crossing to fuel deliveries, the deputy chief of the Gaza energy authority said on Sunday.

Officials had said Israel would allow the resumption of diesel deliveries into Gaza on Sunday, a day after the Palestinian territory's power plant stopped working because of a lack of fuel.

"The central power station will resume operations at 06:00 a.m." on Monday, Fathi al-Sheikh Khalil told AFP.

"We were expecting the delivery today (Sunday) of 500,000 liters of fuel, but the delivery has been delayed, and only 100,000 liters have been delivered," he said.

"We should receive 500,000 liters tomorrow." more

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Gaza's only power plant 'shuts down for lack of fuel'

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- The Gaza Strip's only power plant shut down Saturday due to a lack of fuel from Israel, which closed a goods crossing after militant rocket attacks, the energy authority said.

"The plant has completely ceased to function due to a lack of fuel caused by (Israel's) closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing," said Fathi al-Sheikh Khalil, deputy director of the energy authority in the Palestinian territory ruled by the Islamist movement Hamas.

On Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon ordered the closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza and the Erez pedestrian crossing "until further security assessments."

In response, Khalil said, the energy authority cut the plant's operation from only 12 hours a day to six until the fuel ran out. more

Gaza woman dies from blast injuries

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- An elderly woman died on Friday as a result of injuries sustained during an explosion in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip a day earlier.

Gaza Strip Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma'an that Aisha al-Hamadeen, 62, died as a result of serious injuries she sustained during the blast on Thursday.

Al-Qidra added that five people had been injured in an explosion in Beit Hanoun on Thursday night, including the woman as well as two children.

The cause of the blast was not immediately clear. more

Friday, 14 March 2014

Worshipers prevented from entering Al Aqsa Mosque for Friday prayers

Israeli occupation forces, on Friday, prevented Palestinian men under the age of 40 from entering the al-Aqsa Mosque to observe the Friday prayer.

Israeli police had distributed a statement, earlier, announcing that men who are less than 40 years old would be banned from entering the mosque, the PNN reports.

Israeli authorities deployed its troops in various cities of Jerusalem, especially in the Old City, and in the vicinity of al-Aqsa Mosque and its main entrances. more

Gaza truce appears to be holding

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- A truce declared by Gaza militants appeared to be holding on Friday with the Israeli military reporting no fresh rocket fire during the night after two days of tit-for-tat violence.

"It's all quiet, there has been no fire overnight," an army spokesman said at 8:00 a.m.

Islamic Jihad announced Thursday that an Egyptian-brokered truce on the Israel-Gaza border had been restored after Israeli warplanes pounded the territory in response to a barrage of rocket fire by its militants.

But the truce, which was to have taken effect at 12:00 GMT on Thursday, was tested when the Israeli military reported further rocket fire from Gaza hours later and launched retaliatory air strikes for a second night.

"Israel Air Force aircraft targeted four terror sites in the southern Gaza Strip and three additional terror sites in the northern Gaza Strip," a military statement released around midnight said.

Witnesses and Palestinian security officials said the targets included facilities near Gaza City used by the military wing of Hamas. more

Thursday, 13 March 2014

3-year-old dies due to closure of Rafah crossing

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A three-year-old child died on Thursday after he was unable to receive medical care abroad due to the closure of the Rafah crossing, an activist group said.

Spokesman for the National Committee to Break the Siege Adham Abu Salmieh said that Ahmad Ammar Abu Nahl was suffering from an enlarged heart and liver and had been planning to go to Turkey via Egypt for treatment.

However, the young child died Thursday while waiting for the crossing to open.

Abu Salmieh told Ma'an that the continued death of victims is unfortunate and demanded the reopening of the Rafah crossing for humanitarian cases.

The Rafah crossing into Egypt has been the principal connection between the Gaza Strip'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

Renewed Gaza rocket fire after overnight Israeli raids

GAZA BORDER, Israel (AFP) -- Gaza militants resumed their rocket fire on southern Israel on Thursday, after warplanes blitzed the coastal enclave, prompting President Mahmoud Abbas to demand Israel end its "escalation".

A military spokeswoman told AFP that militants had fired five rockets but only one struck Israeli territory, causing no harm or damage.

Earlier, an AFP photographer on the Israeli side of the Gaza border said all was quiet at daybreak.

The spokeswoman said the total number of rockets which had struck southern Israel since the escalation began on Wednesday was "over 60", with five of them hitting populated areas.

Overnight, Israeli warplanes carried out raids on 29 targets in Gaza, hitting bases used by militants from Gaza's ruling Hamas movement and from Islamic Jihad's armed wing, the al-Quds Brigade. more

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Multiple Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza

GAZA (Ma'an) -- Israeli air forces launched air strikes across the Gaza Strip late Wednesday, with no immediate reports of injuries.

The Israeli air strikes came after Islamic Jihad said that it launched 130 rockets into southern Israel in response to Israel's killing of three of its members on Tuesday.

Israeli air strikes hit a number of military targets across the besieged coastal enclave, as well as a number of open areas.

Strikes hit a site belonging the military wing of Islamic Jihad in Rafah as well as an open area in the southern Gaza Strip.

The empty land that was hit by the air strike was in al-Nasser neighborhood, while it was not clear where in Rafah the military site belonging to the al-Quds Brigades was.

Three rockets were also fired at the Huttein military site belonging to the al-Quds Brigades in the northern Gaza Strip, and no injuries were reported in that strike.

The Israeli air forces also launched a strike on al-Quds Brigades in al-Qara neighborhood in Khan Younis, and another site belonging to the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing on Hamas, west of Rafah.

Israeli air forces also launched four air strikes against a site belonging to the al-Qassam Brigades site Areen-2 west of Rafah.

Earlier, Israeli air forces bombed a target north of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip.

Local sources said an Israeli drone fired a rocket at an empty land near a residential area in the northern Gaza Strip neighborhood.

No injuries were reported in any of the strikes.

An Israeli military spokeswoman did not immediately return calls seeking comment. more

Dozens of rockets from Gaza hit southern Israel as resistance strikes back

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Dozens of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip landed in southern Israel on Wednesday, a day after an Israeli airstrike killed three Palestinian militants in the coastal enclave.

The al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for the operation, which it has named "Breaking the Silence."

The group said that it had launched 90 rockets into Israel on Wednesday, saying: "The response has begun to the crimes of the occupation, the latest of which was the killing of three members" of the group on Tuesday.

An Israeli military source said that eight rockets had fallen in residential areas, causing property damage but without resulting in any injuries. Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman told an Israeli television channel that there was no option other than completely re-occupying the Gaza Strip, arguing that after two wide-scale military operations "Israeli towns and cities" are still under fire from the Gaza Strip.

The residents of southern Israeli towns and cities cannot remain under the the threat of "terrorist" organizations, he added. more

Take action - Free the Nabi Saleh three: Donate now!

From the International Solidarity Movement - Jihad, Mahmud and Rami, residents of Nabi Saleh, have been imprisoned for three weeks now and need your support to be released.

An Israeli military judge ruled that six demonstrators who were kidnapped from their homes three weeks ago, could be released on bail of 2500 shekels each. With the help of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee and the villagers, three of the prisoners, Fadel Tamimi (54) Mohammed Tamimi (24) Basel Tamimi (16) have already been released. We need your help to raise the remaining 7000 shekels to release Jihad Tamimi (25) Mahmud Tamimi (21) Rami Tamimi (36). Any amount will help.

The six have been accused of throwing stones at the Israeli military. The “evidence” presented against them is edited pictures of them participating in a demonstration- not throwing stones- and a testimony of a solider who says “the people who we took pictures of threw stones.” They were arrested the 18th of February when the villagers of Nabi Saleh were awakened once again by about a hundred soldiers invading their village. Donate now through paypal more

Israeli navy detains 2 Gaza fishermen

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Israeli navy on Tuesday detained two fishermen off the coast of the Gaza Strip, a union official said.

Nizar Ayyash, head of the union of Gaza fishermen, told Ma'an that Israeli warships confiscated a fishing boat and forced two fishermen to sail to Israel's Ashdod Port, without providing further details. more

Israel drone crashes in Gaza

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- An unmanned aircraft of the sort Israel uses for surveillance and missile strikes in Gaza crashed in the south of the territory early on Tuesday, sources on both sides said.

Members of Hamas' military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, discovered the remains near Khan Younis, witnesses said.

Parts of the unmanned aircraft were found 500 meters from the border with Israel.

"A Sky Rider drone crashed in the southern Gaza Strip due to a technical malfunction," an Israeli army spokeswoman told AFP.

"An investigation is under way." more

Medics: 4 killed in Gaza explosion

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Four People were killed and six others suffered injuries after an explosion in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, a medical official said.

Ashraf al-Qidra said that Mohammad Tayseer al-Hamdeen, 26, Bilal al-Hamdeen, Jafaar Odwaan and a fourth unidentified man were killed in the explosion.

Six others were injured including two children and a woman in critical condition, he added.

The four were all affiliated with Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades, and they arrived dead at the hospital, a Ma’an reporter said.

The house was severely damaged, and the cause of the explosion was not immediately clear. more

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Israeli airstrike kills 3 Palestinians in southern Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- An Israeli airstrike killed three Palestinians in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, an official said.

Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma'an that three Palestinian resistance fighters were killed by the airstrike in southeast Khan Younis near the Sufa crossing.

Al-Qidra identified the victims as Ismail Abu Judah, 23, Shahir Abu Shanab, 24, and 33-year-old Abd al-Shafi Muammar.

The bodies were taken to the European Hospital in Khan Younis, al-Qidra said.

Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad movement, said in a statement that the victims were militants affiliated to the group.

"They were in confrontation with the occupation trying to stop the progress of Israeli military vehicles which were approaching the area," the statement said. more

Monday, 10 March 2014

Video: South African church leaders endorse Israeli Apartheid Week

From The Electronic Intifada - Christian leaders in South Africa have thrown their full support behind Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), a global campaign to educate and mobilize the public against Israeli violations of Palestinian rights.

On Sunday, Anglican Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town Desmond Tutu reiterated his support for IAW and for the Palestinian-led campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel.

“People who are denied their dignity and rights deserve the solidarity of their fellow human beings,” Tutu said in a statement.

“I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing in the Holy Land that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under Apartheid,” Tutu added.

“Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the Apartheid government.”

Recalling the role of BDS in ending apartheid in South Africa, Tutu said the “same issues of inequality and injustice today motivate the divestment movement trying to end Israel’s decades-long occupation of Palestinian territory and the unfair and prejudicial treatment of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government ruling over them.”

“I associate myself with the objectives of the 10th international Israeli Apartheid Week.” more

Gaza man uses remains of Israeli shells to produce works of art

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A young man from the Gaza Strip is producing handmade art using the remains of spent Israeli ordnance, in the process seeking to disprove popular misconceptions about Palestinians.

Muhammad al-Zumar searches the ruins of Gaza buildings that have been destroyed during Israeli military offensives, collecting the remains of missiles and other spent ammunition to use as raw material for handicrafts which he has assembled into an exhibition in his home.

"The idea of turning shells and missiles into works of art first crossed my mind when I saw Israeli children writing messages of death on missiles and shells" that were used "to kill innocent children," al-Zumar told Ma'an, referring to a series of images depicting Israeli children drawing on missiles in 2006 that caused worldwide outrage.

He only started his project after the Israeli military assault on Gaza in 2008-9, when around 1,400 Palestinians were killed and thousands more injured over the course of a three-week-long bombardment. more

Israeli forces shoot dead Palestinian at Allenby Bridge crossing

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man at the Allenby Bridge crossing with Jordan on Monday, Israel's army and witnesses said.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said "a Palestinian attempted to the seize the weapon of an Israeli soldier at the Allenby Bridge crossing with Jordan. Israeli soldiers opened fire and a hit was identified."

The victim was identified as Raed Alaa Addin Zieter, 38, from Nablus, who had reportedly left the occupied West Bank in 2011 and had not returned since.

Jordanian media said Zieter holds Jordanian citizenship and worked as a judge at Amman Magistrates Court.

The incident occurred at the first Israeli checkpoint while crossing from Jordan into the occupied West Bank. more

Sunday, 9 March 2014

A model factory for a colonialism in trouble: the SodaStream saga revisited

Graphic by Stephanie Westbrook (@stephinrome)

It may have taken up a nauseating amount of our attention by now, but the Scarlett Johannson/SodaStream saga sure has a lot of people talking about how those seltzer machines are made in the Occupied West Bank.

Of the recent wave of boycotts against Israeli institutions and companies, this one against SodaStream has crystallized, in a particularly interesting way, the growing momentum and challenges for critics of Israel’s policies, especially the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Pressuring Johannson to step down from SodaStream, the movement argued that her promotion of products made in Israeli-occupied territory might contradict her other commitment as ambassador for the global antipoverty organization Oxfam. Oxfam, which provides basic services to Palestinians under Israeli occupation, didn’t find Scarlett’s “saving the world” comment too funny. But a serious kind of joking around, an anticolonial satire, has seemed to work well for the BDS movement. Memes of the actress enjoying soda amid iconic scenes of the occupation circulated on social media under the Twitter hashtags #NoScarJo, and #BDS.

This tactic yoked the company’s advertisements for consumer pleasure to the more principled pleasure of satirizing and mocking the occupation’s commercial propaganda. If the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs itself spends millions of dollars a year on its “nation-branding”—portraying Israel as a fun tourist haven, with no occupation in sight— the BDS movement has followed its adversary to this awkward territory of fun and fantasy. Awkward because the goals of ending Israel’s occupation and gaining the right of return for Palestinian refugees are quite serious. Yet, like dissidents under occupation in Syria, the movement has understood that in tough times, an aesthetics of laughter may not only provide respite but satirical punch. These memes, or Tamer Nafar’s new rap about ScarJo, might even break the ice at awkward house parties where the host has a SodaStream machine. more

Egypt to open Rafah crossing for 2 days starting Sunday

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities will open the Rafah crossing with the Gaza Strip for two days starting Sunday, a Palestinian official said.

A Gaza ministry of interior official told Ma'an Saturday that a group of Umrah pilgrims would be allowed to pass through Rafah, and that a group of pilgrims returning from Saudi Arabia would be allowed to return to the Strip.

The returning pilgrims have been waiting in Egypt for several days, the official said. more

Saturday, 8 March 2014

On International Women’s Day, 21 Women Still Held Prisoner By Israel

The Head of the Census Department at the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees, Abdul-Nasser Ferwana, stated that, since 1967, Israel has kidnapped and imprisoned more than 15,000 women, including 1,000 since 2000, and that 21 women are currently held by Israel.

Ferwana stated that the army has kidnapped mothers, wives, children and ailing women, subjecting them to torture and very difficult conditions.

He said that 21 women are currently held by Israel, and that the longest serving is Lina Jarbouni, who was taken prisoner twelve years ago, and was sentenced to 17 years imprisonment.

Arresting and imprisoning women is part of Israel’s policy of targeting Palestinians and subjecting them to extreme torture, abuse and harassment.

“The arrests escalated after the beginning of the al-Aqsa Intifada, in late September 2000. This is a form of collective punishment and is in direct violation of International Law”, Ferwana said. “In many cases, women are kidnapped by the army to force wanted Palestinians to surrender, or to pressure detainees to provide information and to make up confessions.”

The official further said that all detained women are subjected to physical and psychological humiliation and, in many cases, are sexually harassed.

“They are also tortured, placed in solitary confinement for days, and even months”, Ferwana stated. “They are placed in dark rooms, and face harassment by prison guards.”

The official also said that the female detainees are subject to an organized campaign of abuse, and their rights are constantly violated.

Ferwana saluted all Palestinian women, all former and current female detainees, and said that, as the world marks International Women’s Day, Palestinian women continue to play an essential role in the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation.

“They are defending our dignity, the dignity and freedom of the Palestinian people. They continue to play an important role in the struggle”, Ferwana added. “They have been killed by the army, wounded, imprisoned and even forced into exile, but they have never surrendered, and continue to fight for the liberation of their people.” more

Gaza Hamas supporters protest against Egypt ban

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Thousands of Hamas supporters rallied in the Gaza Strip on Friday to protest against a Cairo court decision banning the Palestinian Islamist movement from operating in Egypt.

Waving Egyptian flags and Hamas banners, the demonstrators gathered after Friday prayers and then marched to the former Egyptian embassy which has been closed since 2007.

The marchers held aloft placards called on Egypt to revoke Tuesday's decision, including to seize Hamas' assets, chanting "resistance, our way is resistance!"

Egypt has accused Hamas of colluding in attacks on its territory in the past few years, and aiding the Muslim Brotherhood movement of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Hamas slammed the ruling as playing into the hands of its arch-enemy Israel, calling it "shocking" and warning it could "open the door to new (Israeli) aggression and war against Gaza." more

Friday, 7 March 2014

'Israel apartheid week' events held at over 200 universities

A week of events organized to bring attention to Israel's practices and policies which resemble the South African race-based system known as apartheid were held at hundreds of universities from March 2nd to 7th 2014. Among the universities that held events this year was the Israeli Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where a photo exhibit documented some of the issues faced by Palestinians living under occupation.

The week of film screenings, cultural events, discussions and lectures was meant to draw attention to the parallels between the Israeli policies, including the more than fifty Israeli laws that explicitly discriminate against Palestinians; and the South African system of apartheid, which blatantly discriminated against black South Africans until it was abolished in 1994.

2014 marks the tenth year that students and activists have organized the week of action known as 'Israel Apartheid Week', and one of the biggest participants is South Africa, where the week of events will take place from March 10th to 16th.

According to South African organizers, “For us South Africans and our liberation, people of the world mobilized in their hundreds of thousands - if not millions - during the 1980s. Across the world people held protests, rallies, concerts, free Nelson Mandela events, lectures, film screenings and a host of other events, actions and campaigns to raise awareness of Apartheid South Africa's racist policies and to build support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Apartheid South Africa. Today we have an opportunity to 'give-back' by joining the growing international movement in solidarity with the indigenous Palestinian people (and their progressive Israeli allies) who are struggling against Israeli Apartheid.”

The South African organizers of the campaign to end Israeli apartheid-like practices and policies also note, “Hendrik Verwoerd, the architect of Apartheid, said in 1963: 'Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state'”, adding, “In 2009, in a 300-page report commissioned by the South African government, the SA Human Sciences Research Council found that Israel is practicing a form of apartheid. This position was then confirmed by the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, which sat in Cape Town in November 2011. In March 2012 the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination made similar findings, and last month, on the 31st of January 2013, the United Nations Human Rights Council released a scathing report in Geneva, Switzerland, on the state of human rights in Israel, finding that a form of 'institutionalized discrimination' is practiced by Israel.”

In cities around the world, multiple events have been organized as part of Israeli Apartheid Week. In Toronto Canada, students organized a number of film screenings and discussions, including a discussion on 'Pinkwashing, Homonationalism and Love under the time of Apartheid'. Universities from Paris, France to Sao Paolo Brazil have put together educational events and symposiums. more

Iran: Israel fabricated Gaza weapons claim

JAKARTA (AFP) -- Iran's foreign minister on Friday sharply rejected an Israeli allegation that Tehran tried to ship missiles to the Gaza Strip, calling it a "lie".

Israel has said it captured a Gaza-bound ship Wednesday carrying dozens of Syrian-made rockets "capable of striking anywhere in Israel".

The raid coincided with a high-profile US trip by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who met with US President Barack Obama for discussions on a Middle East peace deal.

"Netanyahu is in Washington ... and all of a sudden as a godsend, they capture a ship from Iran with missiles. Just a coincidence?" Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said during an official visit to Jakarta.

"If Netanyahu is a saint and can produce miracles I believe the Israelis themselves will be amused by that," he said.

"So if you cannot believe in miracles by Netanyahu, the only thing that you can believe is that this is a lie. And it is a lie."

The Israeli raid targeted a Panamanian-flagged ship in the Red Sea between Eritrea and Sudan. more

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Gaza workers protest against ban on construction material imports

By iGaza's correspondent in Gaza Hazem Zatma
Palestinian workers held a protest Wednesday to lift the ban on construction materials and the eight-year siege on Gaza, calling on the international community to support the workers' cause.

During the protest, which was organized by the supreme national committee and the General Association of Palestinian Workers' Syndicates. Workers at the protest hoisted banners such as, "what is our sin to be deprived from building our homes and renovating our streets", "Gaza tests the Arab chivalry and humanitarian justice" and chanted: "Lift the siege on Gaza, eight years of construction materials ban"

MP Marwan Abu Ras said that work in many professions has been halted due to the construction materials ban, in addition to a large number of other related activities that play a significant role in promoting the process of reconstruction in the besieged territory, calling on the Muslim and Arab world to take a serious stand to support Palestinian workers.

Sami el-'amassi, President of the General Association of Palestinian Workers' Syndicates, said that maintaining the stranglehold and effective control over the Gaza Strip has resulted in a high unemployment rate of 45, stating that all this is crystal clear to those in the Muslim and Western worlds that do anything to support Gaza.

Regarding the workers' suffering in Gaza, el-'amassi said that the continuing crises have made 30,000 workers jobless in the construction sector and another 40,000 in other related sectors.

El-'amassi added that the siege forced 97% of industrial facilities to close with 35,000 workers being laid off, among them 7,000 workers in the mineral industries, in addition to prolonged suffering of more than 40,000 farmers and the closing of 100 tailoring factories that resulted in a further 1000 layoffs. more

Egypt to 'revoke citizenship' of thousands of Hamas members

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Egyptian security services have started to collect information about thousands of Hamas members who were granted Egyptian citizenship during the rule of ousted president Mohamed Mursi, according to Egyptian media.

Egypt's Day Seven news website reported that Egyptian authorities plan to revoke the citizenship of 13,757 Hamas members for being "affiliated to an offshoot of the terrorist group the Muslim Brotherhood."

Egyptian authorities are investigating whether Hamas members have been involved in what they describe as "terrorist attacks," adding that the prime minister has the right to revoke the citizenship of Hamas members without a court ruling if it is deemed that they endanger public security.

The Egyptian news site blamed Mursi for facilitating the entry of Hamas supporters into Egypt and granting them citizenship.

On Tuesday, an Egyptian court banned the activities of Hamas and ordered its assets seized. more