Sunday, 12 January 2014

Palestinian man electrocuted in Gaza tunnel accident

RAMALLAH – Palestinian man died on early Sunday in underground tunnel along the Salah Eddin route on the border between Gaza Strip and Egypt, a Palestinian official said.

Ashref al-Qidreh, the spokesman of the Health Ministry in Hamas government, said that the 29-year-old Bassam Ismail al-Firmawi died in one of the tunnels on the border with Egypt.

Al-Qidreh said that al-Firmawi died of electric shock while working in the tunnel. He added that the man was transferred to al-Najjar hospital in the southern Rafah city where doctors announced his death.

The Gaza-based al-Mezan Center for Human Rights said last year that 232 Palestinians died in Gaza’s tunnels since 2006. The group said that 20 Palestinians died during heavy Israeli bombardment on the smuggling tunnels leading to Egypt. The report said that 9 of the 232 tunnels’ victims were children.

It added that 597 Palestinians also have been wounded during work in the tunnels since that year. It added that the Palestinian workers “did not abide by safety and security procedures during their work in the tunnels.” more

Dutch pension giant boycotts Israeli banks, G4S faces OECD investigation

Dutch pension fund giant PGGM has withdrawn all its investments from Israel's five largest banks because of their complicity in West Bank settlements. The report in Israeli newspaper Haaretz was apparently confirmed by PGGM this morning.

The Israeli banks targeted are Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot, the First International Bank of Israel and Israel Discount Bank.

Citing a source, Haaretz said that PGGM - which has reported assets of €131 billion - spent months informing the Israeli banks that their ties with both settlements and other companies also involved in settlements, was problematic from the point of view of international law. The Israeli paper pointed out that PGGM's "decision is liable to damage the banks' image, and could lead other business concerns in Europe to follow suit".

There are two interesting points to note here. Firstly, PGGM's process has shown the limits of 'dialogue'. After engagement with the five banks, the Dutch company realised that simply expressing concern was insufficient. As the report put it, "since [PGGM] had not managed to alter [the banks'] conduct with regard to the settlements via dialogue, and since no change in the situation seemed likely in the foreseeable future", divestment followed.

Secondly, the rationale behind PGGM's decision highlights the weakness of those who push a 'settlement products only' boycott strategy. The Dutch realised that "it would be impossible to create a firewall between its investments in Israeli banks and the banks' activities in the territories", and thus opted for boycott even of banks that only had "indirect" ties to settlements. more

Palestinian shot by Israeli forces in northern Gaza Strip

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces injured a 22-year-old Palestinian man on Saturday after opening fire in the northern Gaza Strip.

Local sources said that the young man was shot by Israeli soldiers stationed in military towers on the border east of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip.

They added that he was shot in the right thigh, and was near a cemetery in the area when the shooting occurred.

The youth was transferred to Kamal Adwan Hospital following the incident.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said that after four Palestinians "sabotaged" the border fence, Israeli soldiers asked them to "distance themselves" from the area.

After firing "warning shots," she added, soldiers opened fire at "their lower extremities."

Israeli forces frequently shoot at farmers and other civilians inside the Gaza Strip if they approach large swathes of land near the border that the Israeli military has deemed off-limits to Palestinians. more