Wednesday, 30 April 2014

US students push divestment from Israel at several universities

Four universities in California held lengthy sessions over the past week as their student senates considered divesting from companies involved in the Israeli occupation of Palestine, while students at the University of South Florida submitted the largest petition in the university’s history calling on the university to divest. Also taking on a major role in the divestment campaign is the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where graduate students recently passed a resolution which calls for the divestment from companies profiting from violations in both occupied Palestine and at the US-Mexico border.

The University of California (UC) Santa Barbara, UC Riverside and San Diego State held simultaneous student senate sessions, last Wednesday, to consider resolutions to divest. The sessions lasted into the night, and the votes were close at all three schools. UC Riverside voted in favor of divestment, while the other two schools voted down the resolution, in very close votes.

When the vote was announced at UC Riverside that the divestment resolution had passed, the room erupted in cheers. Students supporting the resolution were holding signs reading “Don’t make me fund the oppression of my family” and “Divest Now”.

A similar resolution was considered on Tuesday night, April 29th, at UC Davis, where it failed by one vote.

In Florida, students organizing a divestment petition said they drew inspiration from the words of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. engraved on the center of the campus: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

They submitted a petition of more than 10,000 signatures calling on the University of South Florida Foundation to divest from companies complicit in human rights violations in Palestine. more

PA ships medical equipment to Gaza Strip

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health on Wednesday shipped medical supplies and equipment to the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said.

Speaking at a news conference in Ramallah, Hamdallah told reporters that all Palestinian people stand with Gaza and "we will remain united until we end your suffering and establish an independent Palestinian state." more

Israeli bulldozers demolish homes in Hebron-area refugee camp

HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli bulldozers early Wednesday demolished two houses in a refugee camp in the southern West Bank, a local popular committee spokesman said.

Ahmad Abu al-Khayzaran told Ma'an that bulldozers under Israeli army protection entered al-Arrub refugee camp near Hebron and demolished two houses belonging to Hilmi Abu Ghazi and Hasan Abu Ghazi.

The demolitions are still ongoing, Abu al-Khayzaran said.

Clashes broke out between Israeli troops and local youths at the scene, who threw stones as soldiers fired tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets.

Several residents of al-Arrub suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation, Abu al-Khayzaran said.

Locals told Ma'an that three Palestinians were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets.

An Israeli army spokesman told Ma'an that there was Israeli "Civil Administration activity" in the area. Soldiers were stationed at the scene, he said.

The spokesman said that 200 Palestinians gathered in the area, and that about 50 of them hurled stones at soldiers and Civil Administration officials.

Soldiers "fired a rubber pellet at a main instigator," who was hit and taken to a hospital by the Red Crescent. more

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Rafah border crossing opens for two days

Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah border crossing, which connects Egypt with the Gaza Strip, on Tuesday for two days.

The crossing was opened for humanitarian purposes upon Palestinian requests, Egypt’s state-run television reported.

Barakat Al-Farra, the Palestinian Authority Ambassador to Egypt, said that opening the crossing for two days “came in response to the will of [Palestinian Authority] President Mahmoud Abbas”. Al-Farra thanked Egyptian efforts and the Egyptian General Intelligence for their continuous quest and efforts to “alleviate suffering of our people in the Gaza Strip”.

The last time the border crossing was open for humanitarian cases was a month ago.

Since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July, Egyptian authorities subjected the Rafah border crossing to repeated shutdowns, which continuously lasted for longer stretches of time. more

"Gaza’s Ark" Boat about to leave Gaza Attacked

At 3:45 AM Gaza time on April 29th, the night guard on board Gaza's Ark received a call to leave the boat because it was going to be attacked.

The guard left, but when nothing happened, he returned after 5 minutes. A few minutes later, a large explosion rocked the boat causing extensive damage.

The boat sank part way and is now sitting on the shallow sea floor. The guard was not injured but was taken to hospital for tests.

Mahfouz Kabariti, Gaza’s Ark Project Manager, says: “The extent and nature of the damage are currently being investigated. We will provide an update when available.”

"Gaza’s Ark and all our partners in the Freedom Flotilla Coalition are considering our next move in response to this cowardly act of terrorism, but our position remains clear: Neither this nor any other attack will stop our efforts to challenge the blockade of Gaza until it ends," adds David Heap of Gaza's Ark Steering Committee.

"Freedom Flotilla boats have been sabotaged before. more

Monday, 28 April 2014

Israeli soldiers shoot, injure 2 Palestinians in northern Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli soldiers shot and injured two Palestinians on Monday as they were collecting stones from fields in the northern Gaza Strip, a medical official said.

Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said two men were taken to Kamal Idwan hospital after being shot by Israeli troops near the Erez crossing.

Israeli soldiers stationed at monitoring posts by the crossing opened fire at the men as they collected stones in nearby fields.

Both men were moderately injured.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said that a few Palestinians entered a prohibited area and were acting "suspiciously and meddling with the ground."

"Soldiers fired warning shots and then fired at their lower extremities and one hit was confirmed," she added.

Many Gazans in the besieged coastal enclave collect small stones in order to make gravel for concrete due to a shortage caused by Israel's blockade. more

Israel risks becoming apartheid state if peace talks fail, says John Kerry

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, has warned in a closed-door meeting that Israel risks becoming an "apartheid state" if US-sponsored efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement fail.

In an apparent sign of Kerry's deep frustration over the almost certain collapse of the current nine-month round of peace talks – due to conclude on Tuesday – he blamed both sides for the lack of progress and said failure could lead to a resumption of Palestinian violence against Israeli citizens.

The remarks were made on Friday at the Trilateral Commission, a non-governmental organisation of experts and officials from the US, western Europe, Russia and Japan. A recording was acquired by the Daily Beast website.

Kerry also suggested that a change of either Israeli or Palestinian leadership might create more favourable conditions for peace and the final, long-delayed agreement on the shape of a Palestinian state.

Kerry's remarks represent a significant departure, as senior US officials historically have avoided the word "apartheid" relating to Israeli policies. It is believed to be the first time a US official of Kerry's standing has used the contentious term in the context of Israel, even if only as a warning for the future. more

19 West Bank consruction projects halted by Israeli sanctions

The Israeli government made clear, Sunday, its decision to freeze construction on 19 Palestinian projects in the West Bank, according to Israeli and Palestinian news sources.

Israel's coordinator of government activities in the occupied territories, Yoav Mordechai, said during a Civil Administration meeting that 19 projects, approved in Area C as a "goodwill gesture" marking the beginning of negotiations with the PLO, would be frozen by the Israeli government, according to the Hebrew newspaper Maariv.

He said that Palestinians had started an "intifada" of illegal construction in the West Bank and, ironically, that it was their "duty to apply the law on everyone including illegal settlement construction in the West Bank."

Israeli authorities quietly "legalized" several outposts in 2012 and, now, some 100 settler outposts stand in the West Bank without government authorization, with more than 500,000 settlers living in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Palestinians are rarely granted permits to build in the region.

The move to freeze the new projects comes as what is perceived as one of several attempts at implementing sanctions on the Palestinian Authority for its recent reconciliation with Hamas. more

Sunday, 27 April 2014

6-year-old child detained on his way to school by Israeli troops

At approximately 7 am this morning, Rami Rajabi, a six-year-old child, was 20 meters away from checkpoint 29 when he threw several pebbles in al-Khalil (Hebron).

As Rami walked away towards his school, three Israeli soldiers burst out of an alleyway, grabbed his arm, and detained him in the street.

After approximately 20 minutes of pressure from locals and activists, the child was released and was taken home by a friend of his family.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Gaza wants back in from the darkness as Hamas feels the isolation

In his haberdashery, Saleem Salouha tracks the ups and downs of his business against events beyond his control.

The good times for his shop in Gaza City were when Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood were in power in Egypt. The bolts of cloth stacked behind Salouha came via the network of smuggling tunnels under the border at Rafah. Gazans had money too to buy his goods in the middle of a mini-economic boom.

All that, however, ended last July when Morsi was deposed in a military coup and the new regime deemed the Brotherhood a "terrorist" organisation.

Egypt accused Hamas, the Brotherhood's sister group that rules Gaza, of contributing to the security crisis in northern Sinai and closed down the smuggling tunnels.

Now Salouha orders the same goods, but they are brought through an Israeli crossing, pushing up prices by 30%, even as half his customers have withered away.

"It is a double blockade," Salouha says, referring to the long-term Israeli policy of limiting goods to Gaza since Hamas assumed control in 2007. He adds bitterly: "Israel and the Egyptians are competing with each other."

The story of the Salouha shop, in business since 1962, offers a microcosm of what has happened to Gaza and Hamas since Morsi was ousted.

It explains too why, after seven years governing Gaza at odds with its rival Fatah on the West Bank, Hamas might just be serious this time about moves to reconcile the often toxic Palestinian divisions. And if it is not serious, why Hamas views the agreement, signed this week, as an expedient move.

That deal – vague on detail – will see five weeks of talks for a national unity government, apparently largely technocratic. It would see moves to bring Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad under the umbrella of the PLO and the prospect of elections by the year's end. more

Human Rights Watch calls on Israel to stop shooting at Gaza civilians

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel must stop shooting at Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, Human Rights Watch said Friday, noting four have been killed near the border fence since the beginning of 2014.

A report by the New York-based watchdog cited UN data which also said more than 60 civilians were wounded by Israeli gunfire near the perimeter fence of the Palestinian enclave led by the Islamist Hamas.

It focused on seven incidents between Jan. 2 and March 1, in which the four were killed and five others wounded, "none of whom posed a threat to the soldiers or others."

HRW noted that "Palestinians living in the densely inhabited Gaza Strip use land near the fence with Israel for agriculture, collecting rubble, scrap metal, and other reusable materials, and recreation." more

Friday, 25 April 2014

Haniyeh phones Abbas for first time since reconciliation deal

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh phoned President Mahmoud Abbas for the first time Friday after the announcement of a new inter-Palestinian reconciliation deal. Haniyeh emphasized the importance of implementing the agreement according to the set timeline. The Hamas leader said that it was critical to ensure that there was a political and financial safety net to protect the deal, and to improve trust between the two sides. The agreement would reintegrate Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, into the PLO, which currently controls the West Bank. more

West Bank newspapers allowed again in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Spokesman for the Gaza Strip prime minister Ismail Haniyeh announced on Friday that newspapers from the West Bank would be allowed again in Gaza beginning from next week.

Issam al-Daalees said in a statement distributed by the prime minister's office that "the return of the newspapers is part of the decisions that have been taken by the government in Gaza to prepare the atmosphere on the ground for reconciliation." more

Israeli forces open fire after northern Gaza explosion

GAZA (Ma'an) -- An explosive device was detonated on the Gaza border on Thursday evening in an attack apparently targeting patrolling Israeli soldiers, the Israeli military said.

The explosion occurred east of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, and Israeli forces subsequently opened fire in the area after the explosion.

Witnesses said the incident occurred near the eastern cemetery in Jabaliya.

Spokesman for the Gaza Strip Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra said that no injuries arrived in any hospitals. more

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Mass hunger strike launched by Palestinian administrative detainees

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- More than 100 Palestinians in Israeli prisons launched a mass, open-ended hunger strike on Thursday in protest against their detention without trial, a prisoner rights organization said.

The hunger strike is taking place in the Ofer, Megiddo, and Negev prisons and comes after Israeli authorities reneged on a promise made following an earlier mass hunger strike to limit the use of administrative detention to exceptional cases, Addameer said in a statement on Thursday.

Addameer lawyer Samer Samaan visited the Ofer prison on Thursday and confirmed that 55 prisoners at that facility had been isolated from other prisoners following the announcement of the hunger strike.

The 2012 agreement which ended a hunger strike of 2,000 Palestinian prisoners was meant to end the detention without trial of Palestinians, Addameer said, but as of March 1, 183 Palestinians were still being held under administrative detention.

Palestinians held in administrative detention are often held without charge or trial for months and without access to the evidence leading to their detention, even though international law stipulates this tactic only be used in exceptional circumstances.

Over 800,000 Palestinians have been detained since 1967, with 5,224 currently being held in Israeli prisons, according to the PLO. more

New campaign resource boosts efforts to burst SodaStream’s bubble

As the campaign to boycott SodaStream gains momentum, supporters have a new resource to use in their advocacy and education work.

The slick website, launched by Jewish Voice for Peace’s Seattle chapter, makes the case in plain language for why the carbonated beverage device manufacturer should be boycotted. SodaStream’s attempts to brand its product to consumers concerned with social responsibility is busted in a series of short videos which are simple and effective.

SodaStream’s products are assembled in a plant on occupied Palestinian land by exploited Palestinian laborers, the website explains.

Despite the corporation’s attempt to promote a picture of Israeli-Palestinian coexistence at its factory, the purpose of SodaStream’s plant in the Mishor Adumim industrial park “is not to improve the lives of Palestinians living under occupation but to pad the pockets of an international corporation,” it is stated in one of the videos.

Ninety percent of the plant laborers are Palestinians, who “have little choice but to work for the settlers who exploit the land that was theirs” because of Israeli occupation and colonization’s destruction of the Palestinian economy.

Meanwhile, “SodaStream gets kickbacks from the Israeli government for profitting from an illegal occupation,” enjoying state benefits for participating in Israel’s illegal settlement colony enterprise.

The consumer who purchases SodaStream products gives “money to a company that financially supports an Israeli settlement. The Palestinians who have been dispossessed get nothing.” more

Body of Hamas fighter found off Gaza coast

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Fishermen in the Gaza Strip on Thursday found the body of a Palestinian fighter affiliated with Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades, Gaza security services said.

Fishermen spotted the body off the coast of Rafah and Hamas naval units immediately rushed to recover it from the sea.

It is believed to be the body of Ashraf Nassar, 22, who was killed last week during a military drill. more

Israeli tanks enter Gaza border area, navy fires at fishermen

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

The tanks crossed into Gaza in an area called al-Qarara, north of Khan Younis, and levelled agricultural fields before leaving.

Three helicopters were seen hovering at a low altitude during the incursion.

Meanwhile, Israel's navy opened fire at fishermen off the coast of northern Gaza, locals said.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said a "Palestinian vessel deviated from the designated fishing zone. Naval forces called at them to stop and fired warning shots in the air. Once it failed to comply, naval forces approached the vessel and the fishermen were taken for questioning."

Local activists named the fishermen as Hamdi Sultan and Muhammad Zayid. more

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Fatah, Hamas ready to implement unity agreement

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian factions have reached agreement over the terms of a reconciliation deal and will announce the details later in the day, Palestinian officials told Ma'an Wednesday.

Presidential and parliamentary elections, the formation of a unity government, and the restructuring of the PLO are three of the key issues to be implemented simultaneously, officials told Ma'an.

The parties also agreed that both Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the occupied West Bank would release prisoners detained for their political affiliation.

The Freedoms Committee, one of several bodies created to follow-up on the 2011 Egypt-brokered unity deal, will determine the numbers of prisoners to be released on both sides.

Hamas and PLO officials have agreed to form a unity government within five weeks that will be headed by either President Mahmoud Abbas or former Deputy Prime Minister of the 2006 unity government Nasser al-Din al-Shaer, who is a member of Hamas. more

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

‘NYT’ photo feature on women in Gaza ignores Israel and Palestine

In what might be justified by the New York Times as an attempt to “depoliticize” and “humanize” Palestinian women in Gaza the paper ran a photo essay this past Sunday titled “Female in Gaza.” However the article obfuscates, covering up Israeli oppression and obscuring Gaza’s connection to the West Bank and to Palestinians in general.

The introductory text for the article mentions Gaza eight times, but never uses the word “Palestinian” or “Palestine” and mentions Israel only once, despite mentioning towering concrete blast walls, barbed wire, drones, patrolling soldiers, border controls, etc.. ”I have been photographing in Gaza for several years, initially to cover the conflict with Israel, but over time returning because I am mesmerized by the women, and their strength,” author Monique Jaques explained. Gaza is portrayed as a disconnected disembodied place in conflict with Israel where residents seem to have some undefined interest in the West Bank, “Her dream is to sing in Ramallah, a city in the West Bank.”

The article also avoids mentioning Egypt, except for one photo caption which only appeared online: “A girl completed a jump at Al-Faisal Riding Club in northern Gaza. Horses are brought in from Egypt and are well cared for by elite families.”

In the 14 photos online there is a single mention of the word “Palestinian” in a caption that also appeared in the print edition: ”A girl showed off her nails in the colors of the Palestinian flag.” more

Palestinian prisoners ready for mass hunger strike

Nearly two hundred Palestinian administrative detainees, held indefinitely without charge or trial on Israeli military court orders, have announced plans to launch a mass hunger strike for their freedom this Thursday.

The news came as demonstrations across Palestine and events worldwide commemorated the 40th annual Palestinian Prisoners’ Day

Thousands marched from an exhibition at Saraya square, the former site of Israel’s Gaza central prison, to rally outside the International Committee of the Red Cross’ Gaza office.

After the demonstrations, Ibrahim Baroud, freed from Israeli captivity a year ago, spoke with The Electronic Intifada at his home in the northern Gaza Strip’s Jabaliya refugee camp.

Among hundreds of thousands of former Palestinian prisoners in the Gaza Strip, Baroud is notable not only because of his 27-year detention, which makes him one of the longest-held Palestinians, but also because of his mother’s efforts during his absence.

In 1995, nine years after her son’s capture by Israeli forces, Ghalia — also known as Um Ibrahim — held a sit-in at the courtyard of the International Committee of the Red Cross office with Handoumeh Wishah, or Um Jaber, who had four sons in prison at the time.

Initially small, their presence persisted week after week, year after year, persevering through political transitions and military offensives, and growing into the core of prisoner support activities in Gaza. The sit-ins have now become a local focus of political unity. more

Israel rejects Abbas conditions for extending talks

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday that he would extend faltering peace talks with Israel only if it agreed to conditions, including a settlement freeze, which it promptly rejected.

Abbas listed his demands during a meeting with Israeli journalists at his headquarters in Ramallah just a week before a nine-month target for a peace deal.

His comments came as US envoy Martin Indyk went into a new meeting with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in a bid to save the US-sponsored talks from collapse.

Abbas said he would agree to an extension of negotiations beyond the April 29 deadline if Israel frees a group of prisoners as previously earmarked for release and discusses the borders of a future Palestinian state. more

PLO delegation 'to arrive in Gaza Tuesday evening'

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A delegation representing the PLO is expected to arrive in Gaza on Tuesday evening for reconciliation meetings with Hamas, a Fatah spokesman said.

Fayiz Abu Eita said the delegation would be comprised of Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad, Secretary-General of the Palestinian People's Party Bassam al-Salhi, businessman Munib al-Masri, Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative Mustafa Barghouti, and Secretary-General of the Palestinian Arab Front Jamil Shehadah.

After being denied a permit to enter Gaza through the Erez crossing Monday, Barghouti was granted one Tuesday, Eita said.

The delegation hopes to establish a national unity government with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and to plan future elections and a restructuring of the PLO, he added. more

Monday, 21 April 2014

Senior Hamas official arrives in Gaza for reconciliation talks

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouq arrived in Gaza via the Rafah crossing on Monday, where he was welcomed by a delegation of Hamas and Fatah officials.

The senior official, who is based in Egypt, arrived in the besieged territory for reconciliation talks with a delegation of PLO officials.

Senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad, secretary general of the Palestinian People's Party, Bassam al-Salhi, secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative, Mustafa al-Barghouthi, secretary general of the Palestinian Arab Front, Jamil Shehada, and businessman Munib al-Masri are due to arrive in Gaza over the next 48 hours. more

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Israeli forces storm Aqsa compound, 16 detained

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- More than a dozen Palestinian worshipers were detained as clashes broke in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Sunday morning between worshipers and Israeli forces who stormed the courtyards firing stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets.

The raid comes amid frequent clashes in recent days after right-wing Jewish groups urged Jews to flock to the compound -- which they believe is the site of a former Jewish temple -- and conduct Passover rituals inside.

Director of Al-Aqsa Mosque Omar Kiswani told Ma'an that more than 400 police officers stormed the courtyard of the Al-Aqsa Mosque through the Moroccan Gate and the Chain Gate escorting Ultra-Orthodox Jews other Jewish visitors into the compound. more

Rafah crossing to open for Muslim pilgrims Sunday

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities will open the Rafah crossing with Gaza on Sunday to allow pilgrims headed for Saudi Arabia to pass through, a Gaza official said.

A Palestinian official told Ma'an that the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip will be open Sunday and Monday for Umrah pilgrims heading to Mecca.

Pilgrims returning from Mecca will be allowed to pass back into Gaza on Tuesday.

The crossing will be closed for all other cases, the official said. more

Friday, 18 April 2014

Fuel shortage in Gaza Strip due to Isaeli holiday closures

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Gaza Strip is suffering from a fuel shortage due to the repeated closures of the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel over the Passover holidays, officials said on Friday.

Member of the administrative council of petroleum and gas company owners Mohammad al-Abadla told Ma'an that the Gaza Strip has been experiencing a diesel, petrol, and gas crisis for the last 10 days due to a supply shortage, which has been aggravated by closures for the Jewish holiday.

Al-Abadla said that not enough fuel is currently being allowed to enter by Israel, and that any amount currently received is distributed directly to gas stations, which have been left with no fuel reserves.

He added that when the crossing is open around 150 thousand litres of gasoline, 200K-250 thousand litres of diesel, and 200 tons of cooking gas are able to enter into the strip.

The crossing was closed on April 14, 15, and 18 and is scheduled to be closed on April 20, 21, 25, and May 5, 6, as well as June 3 and 4, in addition to weekly closures on Fridays and Saturdays. more

Thousands march across West Bank, Gaza to mark Prisoners Day

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- At least ten Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces on Thursday as thousands participated in protests across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to commemorate the annual Palestinian Prisoners Day.

Large demonstrations took place in Hebron, Gaza City, Jenin, Nablus, and Ramallah to mark the day of solidarity with the more than 5,000 Palestinian prisoners currently being held in Israeli prisons.

The demonstrations took place amid a major row with Israel over its failure to release a batch of prisoners held for more than twenty years as previously agreed upon as a part of ongoing peace negotiations. more

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Medics: 3 killed in Khan Younis explosion

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – Three Palestinian men were killed and four others injured in an explosion in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, medical sources said.

A spokesman of the Hamas-run Gaza ministry of health told Ma’an that the circumstances behind the explosion were not clear.

Ashraf al-Qidra added that ambulances evacuated two dead men and one critically injured person. The third victim was pronounced dead shortly after he arrived at the European Hospital in Kahn Younis.

Eight others sustained minor wounds caused by shrapnel. They were in stable condition.

Hamas sources told Ma'an that the victims were members of the group's al-Qassam Brigades militant wing, and were killed while preparing explosive devices. more

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

New aid convoy to arrive in Gaza Sunday

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – A humanitarian aid convoy is scheduled to arrive in the besieged Gaza Strip next week via Egypt’s Rafah crossing, coordinator Issam Yousuf said Tuesday.

He said the convoy known as “Miles of Smiles 26” would arrive in Gaza City on Sunday.

Yousuf highlighted that the convoy is a continuation of the "Miles of Smiles" humanitarian aid to Gaza “which will continue until the oppressive siege comes to an end.” more

Medics: Palestinian woman dies after inhaling tear gas

BETHLEHEM (AFP) -- A Palestinian woman died in hospital after inhaling tear gas used by the Israeli army to disperse protesters near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, a medical official said Tuesday.

Late on Monday the army "fired tear gas near the home of the woman, who was suffering from health problems," the medical official told AFP.

The woman, in her 40s, "died after arriving at hospital," the official said.

The incident took place in Aida refugee camp northwest of Bethlehem.

"The death was not linked to the use of riot dispersal means by the army, including tear gas," an army spokeswoman said, confirming the clashes but giving no further details.

In a similar incident in January, an 85-year-old Palestinian man died in his own home after breathing in tear gas fired by Israeli security forces near the occupied West Bank city of Nablus. more

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian youth in northern Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian youth in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, witnesses told Ma'an.

Soldiers positioned at Erez crossing opened fire at a group of Palestinian men collecting stones from nearby fields, hitting 19-year-old Wasim Abu Audah in the leg, locals said.

An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed the shooting, saying there were 30 Palestinians gathered in the area. more

Monday, 14 April 2014

Israeli killed in West Bank shooting

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian gunmen shot and killed one person and injured two others in a car driven by an Israeli settler in the occupied West Bank on Monday, Israel's military said.

The Palestinians shot at the car in Tarqumiyah near Hebron in the West Bank, killing one person and injuring two passengers, according to Israeli news reports.

The victims were in their vehicle at the time of the shooting. more

Group: Explosive device hits Israeli jeep in southern Gaza Strip

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The military wing of the Democratic Front of the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for an attack targeting an Israeli military jeep near the Kissufim military base east of the Gaza Strip on Saturday.

The National Resistance Brigades said in a statement that "the military site Kissufim was also targeted with three mortar shells in response to the ongoing Israeli attacks on unarmed Palestinians."

An Israeli military spokeswoman said that "there was alarm in the area overnight," and an explosion was heard, but she said that Israeli forces were still searching the area. more

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Olympia Co-op lawfare case backfires as court fines anti-boycott plaintiffs

Anti-boycott campaigners in Washington state were dealt a significant — and expensive — court defeat yesterday.

The Washington State Court of Appeals upheld a 2012 ruling that affirmed the dismissal of a frivolous lawsuit against board members of the Olympia Food Co-op for their 2011 decision to boycott Israeli goods and products. The co-op was the first US grocery store to adopt and implement a consumer boycott of Israeli goods.

The lawsuit, filed by individuals in collusion with national anti-Palestinian organization StandWithUs, attempted to force co-op board members into rescinding their decision to implement the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

They are now mandated to pay $160,000 in statutory damages — $10,000 to each of the 16 co-op board members — as well as other legal fees.

“Those who would try to intimidate concerned citizens speaking out on behalf of Palestinian human rights should take note,” said Maria LaHood, senior staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, in a press release.

“The law and history are on the side of peaceful boycotts for social change, and today’s ruling reaffirms that this time-honored tradition is protected by the First Amendment. Instead of trying to suppress speech calling for Palestinian human rights, opponents should address such speech on the merits,” she added. more

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Video: Palestine activists make unscheduled splash at Israel’s Paris water party

Activists from the group BDS France crashed a water summit yesterday and urged dozens of stunned delegates not to cooperate with the Israeli water company Mekorot that pillages water sources in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The activists burst into the convention hall at the luxury Marriott Rive Gauche hotel in Paris, where delegates at the Global Water Summit 2014 were having breakfast.

An activist carrying a Palestinian flag called out “we are here to protest in a democratic way” as officials tried to block him and hustle him away, but later, as the above video shows, the activists were allowed to address the delegates directly.

Another activist can be seen calling out “You can choose whether to do business with criminals or not. That’s your responsibility, think about it.”

“Shame on you, people are dying there,” another protestor says. more

Friday, 11 April 2014

Former university Jewish chaplain on why Jews must oppose muzzling of Palestine solidarity activists

Northeastern University’s administration recently suspended its chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a recognized student group whose mission is to educate about the plight of Palestinians living under more than half a century of Israeli occupation. The administration also initially threatened some members of SJP with expulsion from the university.

As a former executive director of Northeastern University’s (NEU) Hillel Foundation and its university Jewish chaplain, I am especially sensitive to issues involving NEU’s Jewish students, Israel and anti-Semitism.

Not in spite of this, but because of this, I am deeply troubled by Northeastern’s actions. The university contends that its decision was based specifically on SJP not having followed explicit university rules and, more generally, by its acting in ways considered “uncivil” — in particular creating an atmosphere that caused some students, specifically Jewish students, to feel “unsafe.”

In reality, these are justifications that are patently untrue and meant to confuse at best, or, at worst, totally obscure the true motivations for the university’s actions. more

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Israel to confiscate vast area of Bethlehem village land

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – Israeli authorities on Thursday morning announced a decision to confiscate about 1,000 dunams (250 acres) of private Palestinian land in the town of al-Khader south of Bethlehem.

Deputy mayor of al-Khader Ismail Issa told Ma’an that high-level Israeli military commanders and Civil Administration officers along with a group of settlers toured private Palestinian fields in areas known locally as Khallat al-Fahm, al-Zaytouna and al-Absiyya.

They left yellow posters reading “State properties! No entry,” he said.

Issa added that the Israeli officers dropped copies of a statement which explained that 984 dunams of private land was slated for confiscation. Palestinian farmers who wish to contest the decision can object within 45 days, according to the statement.

The Palestinian liaison department has been notified of the Israeli decision, added Issa. more

2 workers seriously injured by Israeli fire in north Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – Two Palestinian men were shot and injured by Israeli fire Thursday morning near the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical and security sources said.

The sources said Israeli troops stationed on monitor towers opened fire at workers collecting small stones from fields to be used for making concrete, injuring two workers seriously.

Palestinian ambulances evacuated the victims to Kamal Udwan hospital.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said Israeli forces fired at Palestinians who had gathered near the crossing after the failed to respond to warning shots and riot-dispersal means.

She could not confirm if any direct hits were registered. more

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Soldiers stand by as Israeli settlers attack Palestinian school girls

HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli settlers on Wednesday assaulted Palestinian school children in the southern West Bank, a school official said.

A school principal told Ma'an that a group of extremist Israeli settlers hurled stones at school girls in the village of al-Tuwani, leaving them bruised.

Israeli soldiers stood by and watched without taking action as the settlers threw rocks, the principal said.

The girls who sustained injuries were identified as Kifah Omar Abu Jundiyya and Dalal Awad Zein, both seventh graders.

In al-Tuwani and other areas in the southern Hebron district, school children on a daily basis wait at checkpoints for Israeli soldiers to let them through locked gates.

Regardless of Israeli military presence, settler attacks on children en route to and from school remain commonplace, the principal said. more

Report: Netanyahu orders govt officials to stop cooperation with PA

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu early Wednesday ordered government officials to stop cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, according to an Israeli newspaper.

Haaretz said on its website that Israeli ministers were told not to communicate with Palestinian officials, including minsters and director generals.

Haaretz quoted a senior Israeli official as saying that only "low-level field cooperation" would be permitted.

The move comes as an imposition of sanctions against the PA in response to the PLO's decision to apply to join 15 international conventions, the report said.

Netanyahu's actions seem to be at odds with comments made by US and Palestinian officials about Tuesday's peace talks session. more

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Israeli miltary vehicles 'enter Gaza,' warships fire at fishermen

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Several Israeli military vehicles entered the southern Gaza Strip early Tuesday, witnesses told Ma'an.

Locals said six military vehicles entered Gaza east of al-Qarara. No shooting was reported.

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

Separately, Israeli warships opened fire at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of northern Gaza City, causing damages to one fishing boat.

A fisherman told Ma'an an Israeli naval squadron fired at Palestinian boats near the al-Sudaniyya neighborhood. No injuries were reported. more

Monday, 7 April 2014

Israel refuses to let Gaza athlete run in Bethlehem marathon

The Bethlehem marathon will host hundreds of runners from around the world in the ancient West Bank city next Friday, with one omission: The Palestinian Authority's top runner, who happens to reside in the Gaza Strip.

GAZA (PNN/Haaretz) -- Nader al-Masri, 34, with 14 years of running under his belt, was the only athlete to represent the Palestinian Authority in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The next year, he took part in a competition in Bahrain. But this time, Israel is refusing to let him out of the Hamas-controlled enclave and into the West Bank.

Al-Masri is set to petition the Supreme Court on Thursday, demanding the state reverse its decision and let him participate in the competition.

"I don't have any security background or anything. I'm an athlete, I represent my country, go out, come back, and that's it," al-Masri told Army Radio. "I'm 34. I only have two, three more years before I retire," he added. more

Scottish students say "yes" to boycotting Israel

The Palestinian-led campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel is continuously winning greater support among students in Britain and Ireland.

During March, referendums endorsing BDS tactics were carried at the University of Dundee in Scotland, the National University of Ireland - Galway and King’s College London.

On 27 March, a referendum was held by the Dundee University Student Association (DUSA) for students to vote on twelve different motions put forward by different societies on campus. The motion submitted by the Action Palestine society was approved with the largest majority of students voting ”yes.” Out of 660 votes cast, 479 (72.6 percent) supported the motion.

DUSA boasts of being the number one student union in Scotland and the result of this poll indicates that students want it to take an ethical stance in opposing injustice in Palestine.

In a similar referendum earlier that month, students at the National University of Ireland - Galway (NUIG) overwhelmingly voted in support of a call for their union to actively support the BDS movement; it was passed by an almost two to one margin, with 1,954 votes in favor, and 1,054 votes against. Students at Kings College London (KCL) have approved a similar divestment call by 348 votes in favor to 252 against.

However, KCL students are currently facing a legal attack by pro-Israel groups, seeking to undermine their democratic decision.

In Dundee, the response from the DUSA executive has been that it couldn’t implement the motion in its entirety, citing restrictions imposed by the UK Education Act of 1994. The association’s response did not explain why it felt restrained by that law.

The Dundee University Action Palestine society hasn’t released a statement yet as both the society’s members and the DUSA executive are awaiting further details of how the BDS motion will be implemented. more

Israeli military vehicles enter Gaza, 'fire shell'

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli military vehicles entered the central Gaza Strip early Monday, witnesses told Ma'an.

Locals said six bulldozers escorted by military vehicles and tanks drove about 150 meters into Gaza east of Deir al-Balah.

A tank fired a mortar shell towards a Palestinian neighborhood, but no injuries were reported, witnesses added.

Bulldozers leveled lands in the area before they returned to the Israeli side of the border.

An Israeli army spokeswoman could not immediately confirm the incident, and said she was not familiar with any mortar shells being fired in Gaza on Monday.

In a separate incident, she said the army prevented "a terror attack" in Gaza. more

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Minister: Over 1,500 Palestinian children killed since 2000

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Over 1,500 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli forces since the year 2000, the Palestinian Authority minister of social affairs said Saturday.

Marking Palestinian Children's Day, Kamal al-Sharafi said in a statement that 1,520 Palestinian children have been killed and approximately 6,000 injured by the Israeli military in the past 14 years.

More than 10,000 have been arrested, al-Sharafi added, and 200 are currently being held in Israeli prisons.

"Protecting and supporting children should be a national responsibility," he said, calling upon the Palestinian Authority to ratify a law for the protection of minors.

Palestinians mark Children's Day on April 5 each year. more

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Israeli government approves Zionist 'archaeology center' in Palestinian neighborhood

The Israeli Ministry of the Interior approved on Friday a plan to demolish a large section of the historic Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, in East Jerusalem, to construct an archaeological center proposed by a right-wing Zionist organization which aims to expand Jewish settlement on Palestinian land in east Jerusalem.

The people of Silwan have faced colonization efforts for the last dozen years – from approved Israeli government projects that involve demolitions of residents' homes, to forced evictions from their ancestral homes by armed Israeli settlers who force their way in to the houses and push the Palestinian families into the street.

Numerous forced evictions have been documented by the Silwan Information Center ( but the Israeli police have refused to take any action against the Israeli settlers. Instead, they have, on multiple occasions, forcibly removed the tents of residents who camped out on the street in front of their homes after their homes had been taken over by settlers.

In the project approved on Friday, the right-wing Israeli settlement organization Elad will run the center, which is set to be constructed across from the 'Dung Gate' entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem. Elad also runs the controversial 'City of David' Israeli national park nearby, which was also constructed through the demolition of Palestinian homes in Silwan. This is the only instance in which a private organization has been granted control of a national park in Israel. more

Friday, 4 April 2014

Medics: 2 hurt in Gaza airstrikes

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Two Palestinians were injured in overnight Israeli airstrikes on targets in the Gaza Strip, medics said Friday.

The health ministry in Gaza said a 1-year-old and a 30-year-old man arrived injured at Shifa Hospital after being hit with rocket shrapnel in the al-Maghraqa area in southern Gaza.

Israeli forces targeted 10 sites in Gaza in 15 attacks overnight, hours after the Israeli army said four rockets landed in open areas in the south of Israel.

One airstrike targeted a washing machine factory in Jabaliya refugee camp that caused a fire.

The air force also targeted two sites belonging to Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades south of Gaza City. more

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Four rockets fired from Gaza toward Israel

Four rockets fired from the Gaza Strip exploded in southern Israel on Thursday night, apparently in open spaces.No one was wounded by the rockets, which landed in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council in the western Negev.

Three rocket alert sirens sounded in Sderot and the Sha'ar Hanegev at about 9:30 P.M. It is believed the rockets landed in Israeli territory. However, traces of them have yet been found.

Military forves were combing the area.

Three weeks ago, Israel Defense Forces and Gaza militants exchanged heavy fire over a period of several days. More than 70 rockets were fired from the Strip in a single day on March 14. The Israel Air Force responded with a series of strikes against dozens of targets within the Strip.

The March escalation began after Islamic Jihad militants opened fire at IDF troops engaged working in the so-called "perimeter area," a 100-meter-wide belt along the Palestinian side off the fence. Israeli aircraft struck the militants, killing three of them.

According to the Egyptian-mediated understandings agreed upon by Israel and the Hamas after the end of Pillar of Defense, the IDF is allowed to work unhindered within the perimeter. Most of its action there is unearthing of IEDs which might endanger IDF troops moving along the Israeli side. more

Israel cancels Palestinian prisoner release

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel's chief negotiator with the Palestinians has told them that a planned release of 26 Palestinian prisoners cannot go ahead, a source close to the talks said Thursday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity the source said Tzipi Livni told a meeting with her counterparts on Wednesday that the release could not take place, as the Palestinians had unilaterally resumed moves to seek international recognition for their promised state. more