Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Are Gaza protests coming to the NBA preseason?

By Dave Zirin - When Israeli sports teams travel to Europe, they are often met with protest. Palestinian solidarity and human rights organizations, such as Red Card Israeli Apartheid, have argued that such spectacles “normalize” the military occupation suffered by Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. They also argue that it is fantasy to pretend that these games do not carry a strong political as well as symbolic weight.

Now the specter of a pro-Palestinian protest at an Israeli sporting event is coming to the United States. This will happen next month when the most celebrated basketball team in Israel’s history, Maccabi Tel-Aviv, will return to the United States and play two NBA preseason games against the Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers. As Euroleague Champions, this will be the fifth time in nine years that Maccabi has played in the United States. But coming on the heels of the summer bombardment of Gaza, there are many activists in New York City arguing that it can no longer be hoops as usual.

I spoke to Tsvia Thier, an Israeli citizen now living in New York, who plans to be a part of whatever protest assembles outside the Barclays Center on October 7th. She said to me, “Israel dropped thousands of pounds of weapons on Gaza. More than 2,000 people died. More than 500 children were killed. There has been no justice for this. We cannot allow for these games to go forward without bearing witness…as if these criminal acts did not just take place. Our memories cannot be that short.” Thier was on her way to a meeting of the group Jewish Voice for Peace to raise plans to protest when I spoke with her.

It is not just Thier and others who are unable to separate these games from Israel’s summer war on Gaza. It is the NBA. Before the Brooklyn game, the league signed off on a “VIP celebration” at the Barclay’s Center for Maccabi Tel Aviv hosted by an organization called Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF). According to the press release, “FIDF has arranged for 12 IDF soldiers wounded during the Operation in Gaza to take part in the event.” (For people who want a full accounting of the death and destruction that the Gaza War wrought, see the United Nations report here. ) The FIDF event in Brooklyn will also honor the only Jewish American player named as one of the NBA’s Top 50 All-Time players Dolph Schayes, and his son, one of my boyhood heroes, eighteen-year NBA veteran Danny Schayes. (Yes, I’m aware that I may be the first person to use “boyhood hero” and “Danny Schayes” in the same sentence.) My love for Schayes aside, this is, without pretense, an NBA/FIDF production.

The ties between people in power at the NBA and Israel are nothing new. (See the family history of Miami Heat owner Micky Arison, who comes from one of Israel’s most powerful families. Or look at the Israeli connections being fostered by New York Knick forward Amar’e Stoudamire). Yet the celebrations of these bonds will be particularly boisterous this season, now that the Cleveland Cavaliers will be led by former Maccabi coach David Blatt. The Cavs, with Favorite Son LeBron James and Kevin Love on the roster, are everyone’s choice to make the NBA finals from the Eastern conference and Blatt is held in high regard amongst his fellow coaches. Blatt has dual Israeli and US citizenship and the preseason game on October 9 between Maccabi and Cleveland is already being billed as a feel-good media spectacle. Blatt was also a high-profile supporter for the summer war on Gaza. In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Globes, he said, “In my opinion, this war is Israel’s most justified war I can remember in recent years. I’m really sorry about what’s happening in Gaza, but there’s no doubt that we had to act there, so that Israel will have quiet there once and for all, and we can live in peace.” He then chided the people of the United States for not cheerleading Israel’s war to a greater degree, saying, “There’s support, although sometimes it’s not enough.In my opinion, though, there’s more support this time than before.” more

Israel slaps three-month visit ban on prisoner Ahmed Saadat

RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) barred prisoner Ahmad Saadat, the secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, from receiving prison visits for three renewable months.

Saadat’s wife, Abla, said in press remarks on Thursday that the Israeli prison authority did not state the reason for its decision.

The detainee, currently held in Gilboa prison, are regularly transferred to different jails as part of the ongoing punitive measures taken against him.

His wife said the Israeli jailers always prevent her and her children from visiting their father, but the difference this time was that the visit ban decision was issued in writing. more

Israeli settler runs over Palestinian child south Hebron

Six-year-old Islam Al-‘Amour of Yatta village south Hebron, was ‘hit and run’ by an Israeli settler. Islam suffered a number of fractures, cuts and bruises in different areas of his body. He was immediately moved to Al-Ahli hospital in Hebron.

This ‘hit and run’ incident by Israeli settlers is not the first of its kind.

A similar incident took place last Thursday in Silwan town, East Jerusalem, when a 10 year old Palestinian child was deliberately run over by settler, as Wadi Hilweh information centre reports. The child suffered similar fractures in his hand bones and was transferred to hospital. more

ICC already has authority to investigate Israel for war crimes, legal group says

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG), along with several other prominent legal groups, is urging the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to “initiate her own investigation” into “crimes committed and ongoing during and immediately before Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.”

In a letter written in August, during the last week of Israel’s 51 days of attacks on the Gaza Strip, NLG president Azadeh Shahshahani states that “Israel’s clearly disproportionate use of force against the 1.8 million residents of Gaza appears to have little to do with any claim of security, but seems to be calculated to exact revenge against Palestinian civilians.”

The letter lists specific examples of numerous violations of the Rome Statute, the ICC’s core treaty which defines international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.

The NLG and endorsing organizations also write that the international court’s investigation “should include whether certain US officials have aided and abetted the commission of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity in Gaza.” more

Displaced Palestinians receive 100 mobile homes in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Local organizations have donated 100 mobile homes to Palestinians displaced by Israel's military offensive on the besieged Gaza Strip, sources said Tuesday.

The homes, which were built locally and funded by charitable organizations, were donated to families in the Khuzaa neighborhood in Khan Younis.

Each home consists of two bedrooms, a kitchen, and bathroom and can house five people.

Suad Najjar, who lost her home in Israel's assault, told Ma'an that the mobile homes were not big enough to accommodate her family and worries that they could replace the rebuilding of her home.

"The mobile home fits only five. It is not enough for all my children, where would they live?" she said.

The mobile homes are the size of one room in her destroyed house, she said, adding that the properties should not become a permanent solution for those displaced.

"Where do we go if we do not rebuild our houses, to the sea? I will set up a tent next to my destroyed house and will cover it with plastic for the winter if I have to."

Khalil Najjar, another man displaced by Israel's war, said the mobile homes are not appropriate for winter and says his eight-member family is currently homeless.

A local charity worker, Imad al-Haddad, said that the mobile homes are temporary and the most essential step now is to allow construction material to enter Gaza. more

Settlers take over 23 Palestinian apartments in Silwan

A large group of extremist Israeli settlers, with members of the right-wing fundamentalist settlement group "Elad", broke into 23 Palestinian apartments in three buildings of Silwan town, in occupied Jerusalem, and seized them.

The Wadi Hilweh Information Center, in Silwan, said that the attack started around 1:30 am, when dozens of settlers and soldiers invaded the town, and illegally took over 22 empty apartments, and one inhabited apartment after violently forcing the family out.

The Center added that dozens of soldiers and settlers were deployed in Wadi and Beidoun neighborhoods in Silwan, before breaking into the buildings.

The apartments belong to members of the families of Beidoun, al-Karaky, Abu Sbeih, Zawahra, al-‘Abbassi, al-Khayyat, Qara’in and al-Yamani.

The Center said the ownership of some of the apartments might have been leaked to the settlers through suspicious underground deals.

“The attack itself is illegitimate, carried out by Elad group, known for its agenda aiming at getting rid of the Palestinians from occupied Jerusalem,” Wadi Hilweh said. “The group is known for its illegal practices, and underground deals.” more

PLO: Netanyahu UN speech 'blatant manipulation of facts'

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- The Palestine Liberation Organisation said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blatantly manipulated the facts when he compared Hamas with the Islamic State group in a UN speech on Monday.

"Netanyahu's speech at the UN was a blatant manipulation of facts and attempted at misleading the audience through a combination of hate language, slander, and argument of obfuscation," PLO executive member Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement in English.

"Obviously Netanyahu has lost touch with reality, particularly in refusing to acknowledge the fact of the occupation itself or the actions of the Israeli army of occupation in committing massacres and war crimes," she added.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly earlier, Netanyahu denied accusations of Israeli war crimes during its July-August offensive on the Gaza Strip that killed 2,140 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and left the enclave in ruins.

He instead said that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas was jointly culpable with Hamas, which fired thousands of rockets into Israel, bringing retaliatory Israeli airstrikes down on Gaza residents.

"Hamas embedded its missile batteries in residential areas and told Palestinians to ignore Israel's warnings to leave," Netanyahu said.

"I say to president Abbas, these are the war crimes committed by your Hamas partners in the national unity government which you head and you are responsible for," he said.

The Islamic State and Hamas, Netanyahu added, "share a fanatical creed, which they both seek to impose well beyond the territory under their control."

In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Netanyahu was "portraying Hamas and IS as two faces of the same coin" although "Hamas is a national liberation movement, while the (Israeli) occupier is the source of evil and terrorism in the world". more

Monday, 29 September 2014

Gaza sweet potatoes exported to Europe for first time since siege

Thirty tons of sweet potatoes were exported from Gaza to Europe for the first time since Israel imposed a siege on the Strip, the Ministry of Agriculture said Monday.

Ministry official Tahsin al-Saqqa said "this small quantity" of potatoes were exported after it was permitted by Israeli authorities.

Al-Saqqa said he hoped the Israeli decision would be the beginning of a policy to allow continuous exports of farmers' goods from Gaza.

The Israeli siege has severely limited imports and exports as well as movement of people, crippling Gaza's economy. more

Outrage in Azerbaijan over oil supplies to Israel

What started as a marriage of convenience has netted Israel its closest Muslim ally.

The majority Shiite nation of Azerbaijan is the biggest supplier of oil to Israel, which reciprocates by selling sophisticated arms including missile systems and drones. While the flow of oil in exchange for advanced weapons is the backbone of the alliance, a confluence of interests is propelling the former Soviet republic on the Caspian Sea closer to Israel, often in defiance of discontent at home and dismay among neighbors Iran and Turkey.

Tested by Israel’s 50-day military offensive in the Gaza Strip, which sparked protests among Azeris, President Ilham Aliyev is throwing his lot in with Israel to maintain a military edge in a quarter-century-long conflict with Armenia. Azerbaijan, which together with Armenia also buys Russian weapons, benefits from access to advanced technology from Israel as part of $3.7 billion in annual spending on rearmament.

“Aliyev is not easily budged by foreign pressure on national strategies,” said Brenda Shaffer, who’s served as an adviser to Israel’s Ministry of Energy and Water Resources and is now a professor and visiting researcher at the Center for Eurasian, Russian and Eastern European Studies at Georgetown University in Washington. “Azerbaijan is very serious about the sanctity of contracts. It has never reopened its international contracts in the energy sector.” more

United Church of Christ committee calls for divestment from Israel

The Steering Committee of the United Church of Christ Palestine Israel Network, on Sunday, called on the United Church of Christ Board, United Church of Christ Pension Boards, United Church Funds, Conferences, local churches, members and other related United Church of Christ entities to divest any holdings in companies profiting from the occupation of the Palestinian Territories by the state of Israel.

The Committee also called on the church and church members to study the Kairos Palestine document and take heed of its call for solidarity with the Palestinian people.

This is one of a number of resolutions passed by regional committees, including the Central Atlantic Conference, the New York Conference and, now, the Central Pacific Committee, in the leadup to the Thirtieth General Synod of the United Church of Christ, which will be held in 2015.

In their resolution, the Committee named the following companies, but said that the divestment should not necessarily be limited to these companies: Caterpillar Inc., Motorola Solutions, Hewlett Packard Development Company LP, G4S, and Veolia Environment and its subsidiaries;

The resolution also calls upon all entities of the church to boycott goods produced by Israeli companies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including, but not limited to, Ahava skin care products, SodaStream products and Hadiklaim dates, and calls upon church members to join boycotts in their local communities. more

Israeli forces demolish 5-story residential building in Abu Dis

Israeli forces demolished three floors of a residential Palestinian building in Abu Dis overnight Sunday on the pretext that the owners lacked building permission, locals said.

Witnesses told Ma'an that five Israeli bulldozers accompanied by Israeli forces surrounded a five-story building in Abu Dis after midnight and began demolishing three floors at around 1:40 a.m.

Israeli forces closed all roads leading to the building before the demolition.

Owner Muatasim Adilah, a lecturer at Al-Quds University, said that Israeli forces ordered him and his family to leave the building without being allowed to remove any belongings.

Neighbors and local residents were not allowed near the area during the demolition.

Three of the five floors were destroyed, with the other two floors left uninhabitable.

Adilah said that the first two floors were built in 1959 while an additional three floors were constructed several years ago after obtaining a license from the Palestinian Authority.

Israel's Jerusalem municipality issued a demolition warrant for the additional three floors on April 30, 2013 after claiming that the building is located within the municipality's boundaries.

Adilah then tried to obtain a construction license from the Jerusalem municipality but it was rejected.

The building is 1,000 square meters and built on privately owned land.

Clashes broke out following the demolition, and Israeli forces shot three youths with live fire, witnesses said. more

Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian farmer in northern Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian farmer was shot and injured by Israeli forces in the northern Gaza Strip late Sunday, medics and an army spokeswoman said.

Medical sources told Ma'an that Rajab Maarouf, 22, was shot in the foot in northern Beit Lahiya and taken to Kamal Adwan hospital with moderate injuries.

An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed the shooting, saying "there were two suspects that approached the security fence" in the area.

Soldiers fired "warning shots in the air and at the lower extremities and then the suspects moved away," the spokeswoman said.

She said she could not provide information about whether hits were confirmed, what the Palestinians were doing in the area, or whether they posed a threat to Israeli forces.

A ceasefire agreement between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza ended a 50-day war on the Strip on Aug. 26. more

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Israeli eviction notices of further 400 hectares in Wadi Fukin

Residents of the Wadi Fukin village received eviction notices as Israel plans on further seizing 400 hectares of land.

- Israel recently announced its decision to seize nearly 400 hectares of land in the occupied West Bank, a move anti-settlement activists termed the largest land grab in 30 years.

At the time, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on Israel to cancel the appropriation. "This decision will lead to more instability. This will only inflame the situation after the war in Gaza," presidential spokesman Abu Rdainah said.

In a statement published on its website, Peace Now also condemned the land confiscation and said that it would further damage the chance of achieving a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians based on a two-state solution.

The Palestinian village of Wadi Fukin sits just west of Bethlehem along the Green Line, and is surrounded on three sides by Israeli settlements that are constantly growing. more

Israel reopens Gaza crossing after 3-day closure

Israeli authorities on Sunday morning opened the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing in the southeastern Gaza Strip after it was closed shut for three days over the Jewish New Year holiday.

A spokesperson for the Gaza crossings authority said in a statement that Israel notified the Palestinian side that 380 truckloads of goods would be allowed into the coastal enclave through the Kerem Shalom (Kerem Abu Salem) crossing.

The shipments include 32 truckloads of humanitarian aid, 24 truckloads of animal feed, 45 truckloads of goods for Gaza's agricultural sector, one truckload of equipment for Gaza's power authority, and two truckloads for water authorities.

The statement also said that 65 truckloads of gravel and 13 truckloads of cement would be allowed in for projects sponsored by the UN's Palestine refugee agency UNRWA. more

Video: Israeli forces use violence against unarmed demonstrators in Wadi Foukeen

From the International Solidarity Movement - Wadi Foukeen is a Palestinian village just west of Bethlehem with a population of approximately 1,250 people. A weekly Friday demonstration has been organized by the village community against the Israeli occupation and in response to the recent land grab of 4,000 dunams (nearly 1,000 acres) by the Israeli government.

Over a quarter of the confiscated land belongs to the village of Wadi Foukeen, which has already lost much of its land and natural resources to the constantly growing illegal Israeli settlements of Beitar Illit, Hadar Beitar, and Tsur Hadassah that surround it on three sides.

Today’s demonstration began after midday prayers with a peaceful march of about 60 Palestinians, Israelis, and International protesters and media members. The protestors marched from the village mosque to the boundary of the illegal settlement of Beitar Illit. While many of the demonstrators chanted protest songs, waved Palestinian flags and held up signs, another group of protesters dug holes into the ground to plant olive tree saplings while soldiers forcefully tried to prevent them from doing so.

The Israeli forces began to get very aggressive as they shouted at the protestors to leave declaring the area a closed military zone and threatening to use violence against the unarmed protestors if they did not comply. They began to push several Palestinian men holding signs. Without warning, the Israeli forces threw 4 stun grenades directly into the crowd followed by another 4 stun grenades. After the crowd dispersed, the Israeli forces shot several rounds of tear gas at the demonstrators. One man was hit directly in the back by a tear gas canister. Two protestors suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation and needed medical attention. more

Saturday, 27 September 2014

US pro-Palestine activists again prevent unloading of Israeli ship

Labor and Palestine solidarity activists in the San Francisco Bay Area came together again in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday morning to greet a cargo ship from the Israeli line Zim at the Port of Oakland.

With roughly 75 people, dispersed across the five entrances to the berth, activists hoped to prevent longshore workers from unloading the cargo. Zim Integrated Shipping Services is Israel’s largest cargo shipping company and has become an increasingly popular target around the country among Palestine solidarity activists.

As the sun rose over the small gathering, no workers seemed to be arriving for the shift. Nevertheless, organizers kept the picket lines moving, expecting some workers would eventually arrive.

But as the window for the shift came to an end, Jack Heyman, chair of the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee and a retired member of the ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union), made an announcement: only one longshoreman chose to work the shift unloading the Zim line this morning — no other union members wanted to work it.

Every day longshoremen go to the hiring hall in San Francisco to choose the shifts they will work. Organizers for today’s actions spent the last week flyering outside the hiring hall, letting the workers know why they would be picketing on Saturday and asking them to respect their protest.

The ILWU Local 10 has been out of contract since July, which means workers will not get paid if they do not work a shift, regardless whether there is a picket line or a health and safety concern. But it also means union members do not have to defer to the port authority to determine whether or not they do cross a picket line. The ILWU has a long history of lending its union power in solidarity to outside causes.

According to Toby Blome, an activist and organizer with the antiwar group CODEPINK, many workers responded favorably to the flyers and were happy not to take Saturday’s shift working Israel’s Zim line.

While mobilizing efforts for Saturday’s action were last minute, local Palestine solidarity activists have been nurturing their coalition with labor for months. more

Hamas: We determine security of Israelis living near Gaza not IDF

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A Hamas spokesman said in a statement on Saturday that the Palestinian faction determines the security of the Israeli towns and cities just outside the Gaza Strip, not the Israeli government.

The remarks from Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he had guaranteed the safety of Israelis in the border region through the destruction of Hamas tunnels in the area and through the killing of Palestinian military leaders.

Abu Zuhri, however, denounced Netanyahu's claims, calling the statement a "lie" and insisting that it is Hamas that determines the security of Israelis in the region, "not Netanyahu." more

PM: Intl body to pay salaries of Gaza civil servants


Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said Saturday that an unnamed international body is willing to pay the salaries of civil servants in Gaza who were employed by the former Hamas-run government in the Strip.

Speaking at a news conference at the office of the Nablus governorate, Hamdallah said the national consensus government could not afford to pay the wages of the thousands of civil servants formerly employed by Hamas.

But an international body has expressed willingness to pay the salaries, and employees will receive their August wages on Monday, Hamdallah said.

He did not provide further details. more

Gaza artist displays paintings in rubble of bombed home

Gaza-based painter Raed Issa’s home was destroyed during this summer’s intensive Israeli attack on Gaza, which killed over 2,000 people. But, in the slow clear-up and under-resourced reconstruction which has followed, Issa has sought to find a way in which his burnt and crushed paintings can continue to convey a message.

His answer has been to display the paintings in the environment in which they were both created and destroyed, hanging them on lines strung through his wrecked home and studio, and holding them up himself amid the chaos. This series of photographs shared by Issa with The Electronic Intifada illustrate his stubborn insistence on finding resonance among the destruction, and on defying that destruction with humor and creativity.

Issa recently commented with irony on a Facebook gallery of some of the photos taken of this most site-specific of installations or exhibitions, saying:

Here are some of my paintings which have been salvaged from under the rubble of my destroyed studio in an attempt to save these works of art from direct injury. Although parts of them have been lost, these paintings have not traveled to hospitals abroad for treatment. However, they will be restored and their colors reinvigorated from the rubble of the very same studio to remain in a constant cycle of infinite giving and to haunt the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity. more

Abbas at UN: Return to negotiations with Israel 'impossible'

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian President Abbas on Friday said that a return to direct negotiations was impossible and accused Israel of committing "genocide" during a speech at the United Nations during the 69th annual General Debate.

Speaking a day after he said that the speech speech would unveil a new way forward for the Palestinian cause, Abbas slammed Israel for having "predetermined" the result of the negotiations process so far.

Abbas had promised to submit a resolution to call for a timeline for the end of the Israeli occupation, but his speech offered few new ideas and even fewer strategies.

"The coming resolution will be based on UN General Assembly resolution 194 with added elements from the more recent Arab Peace Initiative," he said, stressing that there would be little new in the resolution.

He also told the United Nations that "the hour of independence for Palestine has arrived," adding: "There is an occupation that must end now. There is a people that must be freed immediately."

"The hour of independence of the state of Palestine has arrived." more

Friday, 26 September 2014

Gaza farms adjacent to buffer zone suffer greatest losses

Palestinian residents in the buffer zone along the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip suffer the loss of their homes and source of income in every Israeli escalation.

Palestinian farmer Mohamed Qudih, 60, and his wife Sabiha, 59, lost their house, which was destroyed by the Israeli occupation during the ground invasion in the Khan Younis village of Khuza'a. They also lost their farm, which included around 50 olive and date trees and okra crops.

"I was surprised when I saw the rubble of my house," Qudih told local Palestinian news agency Quds Net. "I was also surprised to see around 50 olives trees and date palms were uprooted and the okra crop was crushed."

Qudih's farm is 800-metres away from the Gaza-Israeli border. "We suffer so much as the Israeli occupation always razes the farms adjacent and near its borders," he said.

He added: "We are always in danger while working or staying in our farms as the Israeli border troops in the military towers always fire live bullets and tanks and bulldozers move on the ground when they feel anything approaching the borders." more

Gaza war may be over but Jerusalem is still simmering

From the Guardian - Tariq Abu Khdeir has been arrested twice this summer. The first time, Israeli police accused the 22-year-old of participating in the riots in July in East Jerusalem’s Shuafat following the kidnapping and murder by Jewish extremists of his 16-year-old cousin, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, whose burned body was found in the Jerusalem Forest.

Last week, the police came again for Tariq, this time at 1.30am, accusing him and two other cousins of throwing stones at the light railway trains that run through East Jerusalem – a charge he denies.

“They took me for interrogation to the police station in Neve Yaakov,” he says. “It was full. There were young guys in there accused of everything – from throwing stones and fireworks. Everything.”

Tariq Abu Khdeir is one of more than 700 Palestinians from East Jerusalem, 260 of them children as young as 13, who have been arrested in the continuing crackdown on what those on both sides have tried to define as the beginnings of a “kids’ intifada”.

But however the events are defined, the situation in Jerusalem is as tense and fraught as it has been in years, a state of affairs that has intensified since Mohammed Abu Khdeir’s murder, carried out in revenge for the kidnap and murder of three Israeli youths in the occupied West Bank.

But while those events may have been the trigger, many believe the current crisis has been far longer in the making. more

Gazans displaced by Israel offensive still waiting for solutions

Palestinians in Gaza displaced by Israel's military offensive on the besieged enclave are still waiting for solutions as winter approaches.

Israel's military assault left over 110,000 Palestinians homeless and the displaced are traveling from one place to another to find refuge.

Muin Bahar, who lives amongst the rubble of his destroyed home, told Ma'an that it is difficult to find a place to live, eat or drink.

"All we are able to eat is canned food and I do not have a job or money for us and for the kids in schools."

He urged Palestinian authorities to start the rebuilding process before winter arrives.

"Soon, we could be sleeping under the rain," he said.

With indirect talks with Israel suspended until late October, life for Gazans is becoming more difficult by the day, as the necessary materials needed for reconstruction are not allowed entry into the enclave.

"The (ceasefire) agreement imposes strict security on the materials allowed into the Gaza Strip and is monitored by Israel," economist Maher al-Tabba told Ma'an.

The reconstruction process also requires obtaining licenses from Ramallah, indicating that Israel does not recognize the unity government. more

Israel imposes restrictions around Aqsa compound

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday, locals and police said.

Men under 50 and Palestinians from the West Bank were prohibited from entering the holy site, locals said, while women of all ages were granted access.

Israeli police said in a statement that the closures were imposed after receiving reports of planned demonstrations after Friday prayers.

Palestinian Muslims were banned from entering the holy site on Tuesday morning at dawn ahead of the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, which celebrates the Jewish New Year.

Worshipers were eventually allowed access on Wednesday, but clashes later that day with Israeli forces left 15 Palestinians injured by rubber bullets and shrapnel from stun grenades. more

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Russell Tribunal finds evidence of incitement to genocide, crimes against humanity in Gaza

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine’s Emergency Session on Israel’s Operation Protective Edge held yesterday in Brussels has found evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of murder, extermination and persecution and also incitement to genocide.

The Jury reported: ‘The cumulative effect of the long-standing regime of collective punishment in Gaza appears to inflict conditions of life calculated to bring about the incremental destruction of the Palestinians as a group in Gaza.’

‘The Tribunal emphasises the potential for a regime of persecution to become genocidal in effect, In light of the clear escalation in the physical and rhetorical violence deployed in respect of Gaza in the summer of 2014, the Tribunal emphasises the obligation of all state parties to the 1948 Genocide Convention ‘to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide.’

The Jury heard evidence from eyewitnesses to Israeli attacks during the Gaza war 2014 including journalists Mohammed Omer, Max Blumenthal, David Sheen, Martin Lejeune, Eran Efrati and Paul Mason, as well as surgeons Mads Gilbert, Mohammed Abou Arab, Genocide Expert Paul Behrens, Col Desmond Travers and Ivan Karakashian, Head of Advocacy and Defence for Children International.

In terms of the crime of incitement to genocide, the tribunal received evidence ‘demonstrating a vitriolic upswing in racist rhetoric and incitement’ during the summer of 2014. ‘The evidence shows that such incitement manifested across many levels of Israeli society, on both social and traditional media, from football fans, police officers, media commentators, religious leaders, legislators, and government ministers.’

The Tribunal also found evidence of the following war crimes:

- Willful killing
- Extensive destruction of property not justified by military necessity
- Intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population and civilian objects
- Disproportionate use of force
- Attacks against buildings dedicated to religion and education
- The use of Palestinians as human shields
- Employing weapons, projectiles, and material and methods of warfare which are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering which are inherently indiscriminate
- The use of violence to spread terror among the civilian population

Israel forces Gaza fishermen to undress in attack violating ceasefire deal

Nearly a month after Israel’s military offensive against the Gaza Strip ended in an indefinite ceasefire on 26 August, Israeli forces continue to shoot at and detain Palestinian fishermen.

The Israeli military has captured ten fishermen and confiscated four fishing boats, while firing live ammunition in dozens of attacks on both the sea and shore of the besieged coastal enclave.

A day before its security cabinet ordered the military operation on 7 July, and two days before its forces started intensely bombarding the Gaza Strip, Israel unilaterally reduced the permitted zone it had imposed on Palestinian fishermen to three nautical miles from the shore.

Its navy had previously allowed them to sail as far as six nautical miles after a ceasefire ended eight days of Israeli attacks on Gaza and retaliatory Palestinian rocket fire in November 2012.

“War against livelihoods”

In a statement released to media, the Palestinian agriculture and fisheries ministry called the reduction “a war against thousands of the Palestinian fishermen and their livelihoods.”

During this summer’s offensive, Gaza fishermen endured severe losses. Only during occasional lulls in the violence did a few dare sail, sometimes keeping their boats in the relative safety of the Gaza seaport.

By 10 August, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that Gaza’s fishing sector had already lost 234.6 tons of fish, or 9.3 percent of its annual catch.

On 28 August, two days after the ceasefire agreement, Israel once again extended its limit to six nautical miles.

Nizar Ayyash, chairperson of Gaza’s General Union of Fishermen, hoped the change would indicate further improvements. At the time, he told reporters the area “will be nine miles by next week and will increase to twelve miles within the next month according to the agreement reached in Egypt on Tuesday.”

Instead, Israel began to reverse the shift as soon as attention from international media and foreign governments dissipated, reducing the zone back to five nautical miles on 8 September.

By then, its navy’s attacks had already resumed in earnest. Regular bursts of machine-gun fire and the occasional thuds of naval artillery punctuated the silence of early mornings along the Gaza coast.

The first capture of fishermen came on 3 September. At 6:00am that morning, Muhammad Ishaq Zayid told The Electronic Intifada last week, he and his cousin Mousa Talal al-Soltan had paddled their fishing boat off the coast of Sudaniya in the northern Gaza Strip. more

Fatah, Hamas reach comprehensive agreement on Gaza affairs

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah reached a "comprehensive" agreement Thursday for the return of their unity government in Gaza after two days of talks in Cairo, negotiators from both sides said.

Egyptian sources told Ma'an that the two movements had been able to reach an agreement on a number of major points of contention, including the Palestinian Authority take over of the crossing into Egypt at Rafah and the adjacent Philadelphi corridor.

In addition, the sources said that agreement had been reached on the issues of activating the Palestinian Authority's rule and authority in Gaza, the payment of former Hamas employees' salaries, and making decisions related to war and peace.

The Egyptian side led by minister of Egyptian intelligence services Muhammad Tuhami, told all parties that the ongoing Palestinian disputes will "carry away the fate of the indirect talks with Israel" and that quick solutions must be reached to unite Palestinians. more

Video: Israeli forces arrest two children and fire 29 rounds of tear gas at schoolchildren

Today (Tuesday) at Salaymeh checkpoint in Hebron, Israeli forces fired 29 rounds of tear gas and 5 stun grenades at children going to school.

The morning started off peaceful as children passed through the checkpoint but as word spread that two Palestinians had been murdered by the Israeli army the night before, tensions began to rise quickly. Israeli forces had a clear presence at the checkpoint from the start. A few small stones were thrown by a small number of young boys, but landed nowhere near the checkpoint.
Three Israeli Border police proceeded to fire the first round of tear gas at the children. In total, 29 tear gas canisters and 5 stun grenades were fired. This was extremely excessive and unnecessary as the Israeli border police were clearly in no danger. Two ambulances were called to the scene due to the immense amounts of tear gas fired and a Palestinian teacher stated that 30 school children and 15 teachers suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation.

International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activists then left Salaymeh checkpoint and headed over to Qeitun checkpoint around 5 minutes away as they heard the firing of tear gas. At Qeitun checkpoint clashes had erupted and were underway between unarmed Palestinian youth and Israeli forces. An excessive amount of tear gas was used in addition to rubber coated steel bullets and stun grenades. more

Protesters throw firebomb at Israeli military watchtower

Palestinian youths on Thursday threw a Molotov cocktail at an Israeli military watchtower in Ofer prison near Ramallah, setting it alight.

Witnesses told Ma'an that protesters attacked the military watchtower with fireworks and firebombs during clashes with Israeli soldiers in the area.

Israeli forces stationed in the watchtower fired live shots, rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters at demonstrators before being forced to flee after the fire broke out. more

Despite truce, Gaza fishermen under fire at sea

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Every time Gaza fisherman Rami goes to sea, the same thing happens: five nautical miles offshore, shots ring out and a voice over an Israeli loudspeaker demands he turn back.

Officially, Gaza's fishing fleet has the right to trawl the waters up to six nautical miles off the shore under the terms of Israel's eight-year blockade.

Although that outer limit has frequently been reduced, or even cancelled outright over the years, it was formally reinstated by virtue of an August 26 truce agreement which ended a deadly 50-day war between Israel and Hamas fighters.

But nearly a month after the ceasefire took effect, even those six nautical miles -- which the fishermen say is not nearly enough -- are unattainable.

One afternoon, Rami Bakr and his 10-man crew put to sea for a 10-hour fishing expedition. With them was an AFP team.

Very quickly, warning shots skimmed the boat as an Israeli navy vessel approached. On board were around a dozen soldiers armed with machine guns, shouting through a loudspeaker for them to stop.

"These are the worst conditions we've ever known," said the 41-year-old fisherman, who has spent more than three decades of his life fishing the waters off Gaza.

"During the war, the Israelis bombed fishing huts on the beach and now they are preventing fishermen from earning their crust at sea," he said.

The Gaza Strip has long been known for its plentiful seafood and fish although the stocks have been depleted by pollution, frequent wars and the blockade. more

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Palestinians meet in Cairo amid rift clouding Gaza truce chances

(Reuters) - Palestinian factions met in Cairo on Wednesday for two days of talks aimed at mending a rift that could threaten Egyptian-mediated negotiations to turn the Gaza ceasefire into a lasting truce.

The split between the Islamist movement Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction relates to several key issues including control of Gaza. The disagreement could undermine any broader deal with Israel.

The ceasefire struck last month between Israel and the Palestinians to end the Gaza war including stipulations that the Palestinian Authority, led by Abbas, should take over civil administration in Gaza from Hamas.

But a dispute over the Palestinian Authority's non-payment of salaries to Gaza's public sector workers has brought tensions between the two main Palestinian factions to near-braking point, raising the risk of a return to conflict.

Sakher Bseiso, a Fatah central committee member taking part in the talks, told Reuters Fatah and Hamas would discuss issues including security, elections and governance of the Gaza Strip.

"The Cairo talks will discuss enabling the unity government to undertake its role in Gaza Strip and (conduct) bilateral relations between the two movements," he said. more

Egypt opens Rafah crossing for Gaza students

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egypt opened the Rafah crossing with Gaza on Wednesday for students from the Strip who study at universities abroad, a Palestinian official said.

Ismail Abu al-Jibbain told Ma'an that priority would be given to Gazans who were denied entry to Egypt after attempting to enter on Sept. 17 or earlier. more

Kerry, Abbas meet in New York to discuss Gaza situation

NEW YORK (AFP) -- US Secretary of State John Kerry met with President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the situation in Gaza in the wake of the Israeli offensive, a state department official said.

The meeting in New York came as leaders converged for the United Nations General Assembly, and a day after Abbas gave a speech at Cooper Union vowing to present a new timetable for peace talks with Israel.

Kerry and Abbas agreed on the importance of providing humanitarian aid in Gaza, where a 50-day assault by Israel destroyed homes and infrastructure in densely populated Gaza, leaving more than 100,000 Palestinians homeless in the long term, according to the United Nations.

The top US diplomat also reiterated Washington's support for a two-state solution and its willingness to support negotiations. more

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Ceasefire talks to continue in late October

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Indirect talks between Palestinian and Israeli officials will continue in the last week of October, a senior Hamas official said Tuesday.

Izzat al-Rishaq said that talks ended Tuesday and both sides presented their demands to be discussed in the next round of negotiations.

The Palestinian delegation demanded a permanent truce and ceasefire, the rebuilding of an airport and seaport, and the suspension of all sanctions imposed by Israel since June, including the release of rearrested prisoners and Palestinian MPs.

Earlier, Palestinian officials suspended talk for two hours after Israeli forces raided Hebron and killed two Palestinians suspected of orchestrating the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in June. more

Palestinian family forced to demolish own house in Jerusalem

A Palestinian family has begun to demolish part of a building it owns in East Jerusalem to avoid paying fines after the Israeli municipality issued a demolition order, the owner said Tuesday.

Walid al-Ubeidi told Ma'an that due to the size of his family, he expanded the building from three to four floors in 2002, and to five floors in 2004-2005.

He tried to obtain building permits from the municipality for both expansions, but to no avail, al-Ubeidi said.

An Israeli court recently ordered the family to demolish the fifth floor and seal the fourth floor by Sept. 25, or else face paying huge fees for the municipality to bulldoze it.

Some 18 people from his extended family will be displaced as a result of the demolition, he added.A Palestinian family has begun to demolish part of a building it owns in East Jerusalem to avoid paying fines after the Israeli municipality issued a demolition order, the owner said Tuesday. Walid al-Ubeidi told Ma'an that due to the size of his family, he expanded the building from three to four floors in 2002, and to five floors in 2004-2005.

He tried to obtain building permits from the municipality for both expansions, but to no avail, al-Ubeidi said.

An Israeli court recently ordered the family to demolish the fifth floor and seal the fourth floor by Sept. 25, or else face paying huge fees for the municipality to bulldoze it.

Some 18 people from his extended family will be displaced as a result of the demolition, he added. more

Thousands attend funeral of killed Palestinians

HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Thousands of mourners attended the funeral for two Palestinian men killed by Israeli forces overnight during an ambush in the Hebron area.

The funeral for Amer Abu Aisha and Marwan al-Qawasmeh, suspects in the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in June, set off from the al-Hussein Bin Ali mosque in central Hebron.

Abu Aisha's mother took part in carrying her son's coffin, as her husband and other sons are currently being held in Israeli detention centers.

The governor of Hebron said Israel "executed" the men and at no point attempted to detain and interrogate them.

The bodies of al-Qawasmeh and Abu Aisha were given to the Palestinian Red Crescent and the Palestinian Military Liaison after the families identified the bodies.

Clashes broke out before the funeral, with 20 Palestinians injured by live fire and rubber-coated bullets.

One man was shot in the head and medics say he is in a critical condition. more

Monday, 22 September 2014

Latest Israeli propaganda campaign: 'Hamas as bad as ISIS, worse than Boko Haram'

In late July while Israel’s 50-day offensive Operation Protective Edge was in its final weeks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-hand man met with a group of journalists in Jerusalem. Tensions were at a peak; the ground invasion had just ended and the air campaign was at an unstable pause. The Israeli Minister of Intelligence Yuval Steinitz was about to give the first political strategy briefing on what the Jewish state would want for the future of Gaza, what it would go on to lobby for in truce talks once reconvened in Cairo.

Meanwhile in another part of the Middle East, ISIS carried out its first public decapitations that grabbed Western headlines– they killed over 50 Syrian soldiers and mounted their heads in a town square. Gaza and Israel were overshadowed by the Islamic group that had declared a new caliphate.

Back in Jerusalem on that July afternoon the Steinitz made the case for the de-militarization of Gaza and to strategically turn the besieged coastal strip “into Ramallah.” It would have been a blockbuster announcement, if not for ISIS. For years the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had centered around the status of the West Bank, but over the summer it became clear that Gaza was going to dictate the future of Israeli-Palestinian relations, and either shore up or break Palestinian national unity.

Steinitz continued that weapons were still in the hands of Hamas, the root of the current strife, and removing those weapons was a “precondition for any serious relief” to the Gaza Strip. “You cancel the terror threat, the rocket threat from Gaza on Israeli citizens and you can cancel the restrictions so the so-called siege on Gaza,” he said.

Steinitz debuted the Israeli government’s most powerful argument for de-legitimization of Hamas: the ISIS comparison. more

End "booming military trade" between EU and Israel, say Palestinian rights groups

The European Union’s key trade and political agreement with the European Union should be suspended in response to the recent attack on Gaza, according to 24 Palestinian campaign groups.

In a letter to Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, the groups also demand that the Union impose an arms embargo on Israel until such time as it complies with international law.

The letter is signed by representatives of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Defence for Children International - Palestine Section, the Palestinian NGO Network and the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, among others.

It underscores that the EU-Israel association agreement commits both sides to respecting human rights. Entering into force in 2000, that accord facilitates largely unrestricted trade between the EU and Israel and allows Israel to participate in more EU programs and projects than most other non-European countries.

Because the human rights clause in the agreement has not been invoked, Israel enjoys many of the benefits of EU membership without being required to live up to its legally binding commitments on human rights.

Recent mainstream coverage of EU-Israel relations has focused on the EU guidelines announced in June 2013, in response to pressure by the Palestine solidarity movement. These guidelines prevent the EU from recognizing Israeli sovereignty in the occupied West Bank.

The guidelines prevent, too, a limited number of firms and institutions based in Israeli settlements in the West Bank from receiving EU funding and have led to the EU announcing that it will no longer allow the import of products from settlements if they require certification by Israeli government ministries. Dairy, meat and poultry are among the products to be excluded. Yet the majority of EU trade with Israeli settlements will continue, even though those settlements are illegal under international law.

But this focus on limited action against settlements risks hiding the extent to which the EU-Israel association agreement continues to provide Israel with the political, economic and military support it needs to carry out its massacres. more

Rearrested Shalit deal prisoners announce hunger strike

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Prisoners who were rearrested this year after being released in the 2011 Shalit deal announced they would go on hunger strike Tuesday to pressure the Palestinian delegation in Cairo to negotiate with Israel for their release, a rights group said.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Prisoner's Society said Monday that the strike would be observed by 63 prisoners who were among a group of 1,027 freed by Israel under the terms of a 2011 swap arrangement.

PPS head Qaddura Fares echoed the prisoners' demands in a statement, calling on the delegation to "hold onto the principle of releasing these prisoners especially since they have begun considering an open hunger strike in protest of their rearrest."

The strike is timed to coincide with the resumption of indirect truce talks in Cairo aimed at cementing the terms of a ceasefire deal which ended 50 days of fighting in and around Gaza, and which went into effect on Aug. 26.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed to resume talks within a month of that date to discuss several tough issues, including the possibility of a new swap arrangement. more

New Israeli policy results in hundreds more imprisoned without trial

The Israeli Persecution initiated, since the beginning of July, a new policy in occupied East Jerusalem, resulting in keeping hundreds of Palestinians, including dozens of children, behind bars for extended periods, until concluding all “legal measures” against them.

Israeli daily Haaretz said the new policy, used by Israeli prosecution, is resulting in keeping every detained Palestinian, believed to have thrown stones at the soldiers or settlers, or believed to have committed a violation, behind bars until all legal measures are concluded.

Such measures led to keeping dozens of children imprisoned for a month, and in many cases two months, before there were even sent to trial. Haaretz said the army and police have arrested 260 Palestinian children in the last two months.

It added that 58 Palestinian children from Jerusalem are currently detained by Israel for “participating in clashes with the army and police in Jerusalem."

Several defense attorneys, and social workers, said most of the detained children actually “confess” to whatever the interrogators accuse them of, hoping to be able to see their families, and have their detention time reduced.

Haaretz said it closely examined the issue, and found out that, in many cases, Israeli courts respond to requests of alternative measures to prison when it comes to detained Jewish suspects, and largely denies similar requests when it comes to Arab prisoners. more

Gaza teams deactivate 3 tons of unexploded Israeli ordnance

Police teams in southern Gaza have deactivated three tons of unexploded ordnance from Israel's recent military offensive on the besieged enclave, a statement said Monday.

The Khan Younis engineering unit, part of the local police force, said they have deactivated over three tons of Israeli bombs and missile which landed in the southern Gaza Strip but did not explode.

The police called on residents to be attentive and act with extreme caution if they find a "suspicious device."

On Friday, three Palestinians were killed and two injured when an Israeli bomb blew up in the Shujaiyya neighborhood of eastern Gaza City.

In mid-August, six people were killed and another six were critically injured after an unexploded Israeli missile blew up in Beit Lahiya. more

Israeli forces detain 16 Palestinians in arrest raids

Israeli forces detained 16 Palestinians in West Bank arrest raids overnight Sunday, Israel's army and locals said.

In Nablus, Israeli forces detained Salim Bashir Mleitat, 29, in Beit Furik after raiding his home at 3 a.m. Mleitat was released from an Israeli jail several months ago.

In Burin, Israeli forces detained Abd al-Rahman Mashhur Muhammad Najjar, 19, Omar Muhammad Ali Qadus, 18, Mahmoud Nasser Jaber Asous, 21, and Muhammad Suheil Qassem Najjar, 22. more

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Countering Israeli greenwashing at the People’s Climate March

From The Electronic Intifada - As a possibly historic People’s Climate March in New York City approaches this weekend, a debate among participants and the organizers over Israel-aligned co-sponsors smolders below the surface...

...The story reaches far beyond several Israel-aligned groups sponsoring a single climate march. Faced with consistent negative global perceptions over state policies in the occupied Palestinian territories and in the region, the Israeli foreign ministry officially launched the “Brand Israel” campaign in 2006. With the help of US marketing executives, the Israeli government poured in enormous resources to “rebrand” Israel in a positive light upon the world. By 2010, the ministry allotted some $26 million for branding efforts.

Part of the spin campaign comes under the guise of protecting the environment. In June 2012, Israel, for the first time, launched “an international television campaign on CNN to brand itself as a green country which pioneers ‘green technology,’” its US embassy stated. “Israel advertises its green technology edge to strengthen its image as a ‘Green Country,” according to the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection.

Efforts to rebrand Israel explicitly aim to divert attention away from Israeli policy in the occupied Palestinian territories, instead focusing on Israel’s positively spun and frequently overblown “green” achievements. The mission of the Green Zionist Alliance (GZA), a co-sponsor of the People’s Climate March, harmonizes with Israel’s rebranding campaigns.

Spokespeople from the Green Zionist Alliance were not available for comment, directing inquiries to their website. GZA’s statement on Gaza this summer attempts to equalize the disproportion of violence and calls for a two-state solution. Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” that lasted 51 days killed more than 2100 Palestinians (mostly civilians, including more than 500 children), as well as five Israeli civilians (including one child), a Thai migrant worker, and 66 Israeli soldiers.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Israel ranks at the bottom 33 out of 36 countries in “water quality” and 25 out of 36 countries in air pollution.

In order to mask Israel’s ongoing military occupation and colonization of the occupied territories and to hide its poor record when it comes to adverse environmental impacts, the Israeli government and its allies abroad continue to pour enormous resources into branding projects. more

Gaza families mourn amid failure to find missing shipwreck victims

More than two weeks after a boat carrying migrants to Europe sunk off the coast of Malta, none of the bodies of Palestinians who are thought to have drowned at sea have been recovered by search teams.

Eight Palestinians are known to have survived the Sept. 6 shipwreck that killed around 500 migrants, and they are being cared for between Italy, Greece, and Malta.

But Palestinian ambassador to Italy Mai al-Kaila on Saturday told Ma'an that rescuers have had difficulties recovering bodies from the sea because the boat capsized in international waters.

Despite this, however, she said that Italian coastal guards are continuing the search for the missing.

Al-Kaila said that Italian authorities have promised to give political asylum to two Palestinians who survived the shipwreck, and the pair will also be allowed to bring their families to live in Italy.

Meanwhile, Marwan Tubasi, Palestine's ambassador to Greece, told Ma'an Saturday that authorities in that country had granted three Palestinian survivors permission to stay for six months, and that the embassy was working to acquire them Palestinian passports as well. more

Soldiers kidnap 8 more Palestinians on West Bank as detainee numbers mount further

At least eight Palestinians have been kidnapped, on Sunday at dawn, during Israeli military invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank districts of Hebron, Bethlehem and Jenin.

Local sources in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, have reported that several Israeli military jeeps invaded Beit Ummar town and al-‘Arroub refugee camp, north of Hebron, and Yatta town, south of the city, searched a number of homes and kidnapped four Palestinians.

The soldiers kidnapped Wahid Hasan Sabarna, 23, from his home in Beit Ummar, and Fares at-Teety from his home in the al-‘Arroub refugee camp.

In addition, soldiers kidnapped Ahmad al-Qawasmi also after breaking into his home and ransacking it, in Hebron city.

In Yatta town, south of Hebron, soldiers invaded at least one home, and kidnapped Mohammad Maher al-‘Adra, 22.

In Bethlehem, soldiers kidnapped three Palestinians from the al-Walaja, west of Bethlehem, allegedly while trying to enter Jerusalem for work, without carrying permits.

The three have been identified as Hamza Saleh Ma’ali, 28, Mohammad Salah Ma’ali, 20, and Baha’ Karim Abu at-Teen, 24.

In addition, a number of military vehicles invaded al-’Arqa village, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, before the soldiers searched and ransacked a number of homes, and kidnapped a resident identified as Mahmoud Tawfiq Yahia, 21. more

Cabinet approves $5 billion plan for Gaza rehabilitation

The Palestinian cabinet has recently approved a $5 billion plan for economic revival and reconstruction in the Gaza Strip in the wake of the Israeli assault, a senior official said Saturday.

"We will seek to collect international donations in order to materialize our ambitious vision of rebuilding Gaza during the donor countries conference scheduled to be held in Cairo on Oct. 12," Deputy Prime Minister Muhammad Mustafa said in a statement Saturday.

The rehabilitation of infrastructure in Gaza will cost $1.9 billion, while reconstruction and rehabilitation of houses will cost another billion.

Some $700 million will be needed for humanitarian, social, health, and education aid for Palestinians in Gaza, many of whom lost homes and family members and some of whom became disabled as a result of the war, the statement added.

Meanwhile, $1.2 billion will be needed to reactivate Gaza's economy and increase productivity. more

Gaza ceasefire indirect talks to resume in Egypt on Wednesday

RAMALLAH (AFP) -- Indirect talks between Israelis and Palestinians on consolidating the Gaza truce are set to resume in Cairo Wednesday, two days after new reconciliation negotiations between Fatah and Hamas, officials said.

On August 26, both sides agreed a truce that ended 50 days of deadly conflict in the enclave and provided for a resumption of negotiations within a month to discuss unresolved issues.

These include the construction of a seaport and restoring the territory's airport, and exchanging Palestinian prisoners for the remains of captured Israeli soldiers.

The indirect talks between Israel and a delegation of all Palestinian groups will be preceded by talks between the two heavyweights of Palestinian politics, the Fatah faction of president Mahmoud Abbas and its rival Hamas.

"Egypt has invited Palestinian and Israeli delegations to resume talks in Cairo on September 24," a Palestinian official said.

There has been no official word yet from Israel, but an Egyptian official confirmed the date and added that Fatah and Hamas had also been invited to meet on Monday. more

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Palestinian man succumbs to wounds from Gaza ordnance explosion

A Palestinian who was severely injured after an unexploded Israeli ordnance blew up in the Shujaiyya neighborhood of Gaza City on Friday has died of his wounds.

Spokesperson for the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza Ashraf al-Qidra said that Muhammad Riyad Abu Asir, 24, passed away, bringing the total number of dead to three in the explosion.

Al-Qidra earlier identified the victims as Ayman Ziad Abu Jibbah, 23, and Abdullah Jibreel Abu Asir, 23. more

Fleeing Gaza, only to face treachery and disaster at sea

ABASSAN, Gaza Strip — Samir Asfour, 57, held a mobile phone that never stopped ringing in one hand, a cigarette in the other. His Palestinian passport was sticking out of the chest pocket of his white jalabiya.

“I will travel whenever I can,” he said, speaking nervously outside his home in Abassan, a small town east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. “I need to go and bring back their bodies from wherever they are.”

Mr. Asfour’s son Ahmed, 24, and three of Ahmed’s cousins, ages 17 to 27, are among dozens of young Gazans missing in the Mediterranean. Mr. Asfour last heard from them on Sept. 6, a week after they left Gaza for Egypt. There, they intended to board an illegal migrant ship bound for Italy. Their final destination was not clear, but relatives said they had been heading to Europe in search of jobs and better medical care.

The ship, with about 500 migrants aboard, sank last week off the coast of Malta after it was rammed by human traffickers on another boat during an argument with the migrants, according to survivors. Nearly all aboard are believed to have died.

Mr. Asfour said he had contacted one survivor who made it to Malta, Mamoun Doghmosh, who confirmed that he had seen Ahmed on the boat. Mr. Asfour said he was sure that his son was dead because he was sick and could not swim.

The recent war between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that dominates Gaza, prompted a wave of attempts by Palestinians to reach Europe with the aid of Egyptian smugglers, despite — or perhaps because of — Israeli and Egyptian restrictions on regular movement in and out of the Palestinian coastal enclave.

Fleeing conflict, unemployment and an outlook that many here described as hopeless, at least 1,000 Palestinians have left Gaza in the past three months seeking passage to Europe, according to Palestinians tracking the migration, joining the increasing flow of asylum seekers and migrants from Syria, and from Egypt, Sudan and other parts of Africa who set out from ports in Egypt and Libya. Facebook posts by those who made it safely to Europe encourage others to attempt the journey. more

Victory for BDS campaign as UEFA decides against Jerusalem tournament bid

The Union of European Football Associations has rejected an Israeli bid to host games during the 2020 European Championships. The decision follows a campaign by Palestinian sports teams and campaign groups and activists across Europe.

The Israeli Football Association bid to host games in Jerusalem as part of the UEFA 2020 tournament that will take place across 13 cities, but UEFA announced on Friday that Jerusalem was not one of the successful bidders. Israel was one of just 6 countries that failed in its bid to host games.

75 ​Palestinian football teams and NGOs​​ wrote to​ UEFA president Michel​ Platini arguing that holding the UEFA 2020 games in Jerusalem would be tantamount to “rewarding” Israel for its massacre of more than 2,100 Palestinians, including over 500 children, during its recent 52-day assault on Gaza.

Campaigners across Europe pressured UEFA and national football associations not to accept the Israeli bid. Sit-ins were held by Palestine solidarity activists at the headquarters of French and Italian football associations. ​ ​

Abdulrahman Abunahel, the coordinator in Gaza with the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee said:

“Given that awarding Israel the right to host the games would have been a sign of support for Israel’s massacre in Gaza and its war on Palestinian football, UEFA has made the only sensible decision.

“We thank all those who joined us in opposing Israel’s bid to host games in Jerusalem, a city from which Israel is ethnically cleansing Palestinians. Our online campaigning and the occupations of football association buildings in France and Italy undoubtedly played a role in persuading UEFA to to make the right choice.”


Egyptian army kills Palestinian, detains 2 as they exit tunnel

Egyptian border police shot dead a Palestinian and detained two others after they exited the opening of a smuggling tunnel in the border town of Rafah on Saturday morning, Egyptian military sources said.

Border guard officers reportedly spotted three men walking out of a tunnel opening in area of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier area on the Egyptian side of Rafah, a town that straddles the border.

The sources said that officers shouted at the men to stop, but the men instead attempted to return into the tunnel.

As a result, officers opened fire, killing one. The other two men then stopped and were taken into custody. more

Friday, 19 September 2014

Israeli police brutally assault Jerusalem youth

Israeli police assaulted, this past Wednesday, 16-year old Shadi Raed Ghurab as he was walking along Nablus Street, in occupied East Jerusalem.

Police severely beat the boy with batons while being detained in the interrogation room, at the Salah Eddin Street police station, according to Jerusalem's Wadi Hilweh Information Center. The Center noted that he suffered fractures in his arm and leg, as seen in the photo.

Shadi explained that an officer detained him on Nablus Street and, then, took him to Salah Eddin Street police station. After the interrogator entered the room, he mocked the child for being a resident of the Al-Thori neighborhood, which resulted in a number of verbal altercations.

Additionally, according to the boy's testimony, the interrogator then transferred him to a different room which did not have any cameras, upon which he was assaulted by not one but three officers. more