Thursday, 16 January 2014

Training fighters of future across Gaza

New York Times - RAFAH, Gaza Strip — Dozens of high school students scrambled among the sand dunes here in recent days, learning how to shoot AK-47 rifles, crawl under barbed wire and jump over burning tires. Their bearded commanders barked at those who were too slow in hoisting iron bars overhead or those who hesitated around the thick flames.

Having seen two major Israeli military operations in Gaza in their short lives, many of the teenagers came to this boot camp, which is run by Hamas, the Islamic militant group that has led Gaza since 2007, to prepare for what they see as the inevitable next round.

“By then, I should be ready and know how to deal with the Israeli soldier’s gun when I pick it up from the ground,” said Mohammed Ghanem, 15. If the Israelis do not make another incursion into Gaza, he said, “we will go to fight them on the border.”

The six-day program, Futuwwa, enrolled about 13,000 boys at nearly a dozen sites across the Gaza Strip over the past week, with trainers from the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. It was the first time the program had taken place during a school break, and it grew out of an elective that has been offered in Gaza’s high schools since 2012 that consists mainly of lectures about weapons, street-fighting techniques, fitness and Israel’s recruitment of spies.

“We target the students to create future soldiers and leaders who can defend their cause and appreciate the value of resistance,” said a Qassam member who spoke on the condition that he be identified only as Abu Mahmoud. more

Palestinian entry Omar gets Oscar nomination

Oscar buzz stretched across the globe today as the Academy Awards nominations were announced from Beverly Hills, California.

There was sure to have been jubilation in Nazareth this evening at the news Palestinian director Hany Abu-Asad’s entry Omar had earned a nomination for Best Foreign Film. The story of a young Palestinian who plans to shoot an Israeli soldier with two friends, only to be caught and convinced by an Israeli spy to inform on them, was filmed in Nazareth with a Palestinian crew and funding.

Last year, Omar won a Cannes Special Jury Prize, and in December opened the Dubai International Film Festival, where it won two Muhr Awards.

While this is a milestone accomplishment in itself, the film is only Palestine’s second film to be nominated in the category. The first, Abu-Asad’s previous entry Paradise Now, won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Film in 2006. more

5 injured by Israeli airstrikes in northern Gaza Strip

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Four children and a woman were injured in Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip early Thursday, medics said.

Several strikes hit areas in the west and east of Gaza City, with all of the injured suffering shrapnel wounds.

Palestinian security officials confirmed that one strike hit a military base used by Hamas' military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades.

Israel's army said it targeted a "terror site, an underground rocket-launcher, a weapon storage facility and a weapon manufacturing site, all in the northern Gaza Strip. Direct hits were confirmed."

The airstrikes were in response to five rockets fired from Gaza, all of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome, the army said. more