Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Palestinian journalist union condemns Israel’s targeting of journalists in Gaza

Following the killing of several journalists, airstrikes on media headquarters and targeting of Al Jazeera offices, the Palestinian Journalist Union issued a statement condemning what they say is the deliberate targeting of journalists by Israeli forces.

The statement comes in the midst of ongoing Israeli bombing of Gazan civilians and infrastructure.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, July 22nd and 23rd, airstrikes targeting the cell phone towers and power plants of Gaza have severely impacted communications between journalists in Gaza and the outside world.

The only cellphone company that operates in Gaza has announced that it will have to shut off service completely in the next couple of days, due to severe damage to its towers.

Since Israel’s offensive in Gaza began on July 8th, there have been a number of incidents in which the deliberate targeting of journalists in Gaza has been documented.

In the most recent incident, on Tuesday, Al Jazeera’s offices in Gaza City were fired upon. The office is located in the al-Jala Building, which houses reporters working for Al Jazeera, the Associated Press and the Doha Center for Freedom of the Press.

In the Al Jazeera incident, reporter Stefanie Dekker said, “Two very precise shots were fired straight into our building”, leading to the evacuation of all the reporters working there.

The Palestinian Journalist Union said in their statement, “We vehemently condemn such Israeli attacks against journalists in Gaza Strip and West Bank. These include injuring Palestine Today reporter Sami Thabet in a bombardment on Gaza-based Shuhada Al-Aqsa hospital as well as shooting and injuring Palestine Today reporter Ahmad Al-Budeiri and Palestine TV reporter Sara Al- ‘Adra in Ramallah and Jerusalem.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists issued an advisory on Monday after a Palestinian cameraman was killed during the Israeli ground assault on Shuja’eyya, in eastern Gaza City.

According to the Committee, “Khaled Reyadh Hamad was working on a film for the local Continue Production Films about the dangers Palestinian medics face while working in Gaza, the company's owner, Alaa Alool, told CPJ. Hamad was accompanying an ambulance in Shuja’eyya when the vehicle was hit by a shell fired by Israeli forces, Alool said. A second shell hit, killing the journalist and Fouad Jaber, a Palestinian medic, Alool said.”

Mashaal: No one can disarm Palestinian resistance

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Khaled Mashaal, head of Hamas' political bureau, said Wednesday that Palestinian militant groups in Gaza refused to disarm.

"No can disarm the resistance," Mashaal said in a televised speech from Doha.

Twenty-eight foreign ministers of EU member states had on Tuesday called on Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades and other militant groups to disarm.

Mashaal's speech came as the death toll from Israel's latest assault on Gaza neared 700 on the 16th day of the offensive. Over 4,000 Palestinians have been wounded and some 140,000 have been displaced due to the Israeli attacks.

"We cannot accept any proposal that does not include the lifting of the siege on Gazans," Meshaal said.

"How many Israeli soldiers is Israel willing to see dead before the siege is lifted?" more

Another massacre, this time in villages near Khan Younis

Ministry of Health press release - Another massacre is underway in Khan Younis, where relentless Israeli shelling and sniper fire are wreaking death and destruction on all that moves in the zone east of Khan Younis city.

The villages of Khuza’a, Al Fukhari, Abasan Alkabir, Abasan Al Sa’ir, Jarara, and Bani Suhela received no warning of the attacks, and no warnings to evacuate before the bombardment began at around 11pm last night.

The intensity of Israeli shelling around the Algerian Hospital in Abasan Alkabir shattered its windows, and led to its evacuation, leaving only the emergency department operational.

Despite residents’ frantic calls to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for help in finding a safe route and safe vehicles to escape, the ICRC was unable to get a response from Israeli authorities until dawn today, when five bodies and 17 injured were retrieved and taken to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis.

An unknown number of dead and injured remain behind, as ambulances are prevented access.

Israeli military has declared the Khuza'a area a closed military zone, preventing even medics from entering it, but reports from Khuza’a stated 12 dead by morning.

The casualties in other villages are unable to be established at this time. Random shelling continues unabated, and Israeli snipers inside houses are attacking anything that moves.

Homes are being destroyed over the heads of entire families. Thousands have been displaced, many fleeing to the Nasser and European Gaza Hospitals. more

Quds Brigades say fighters killed 3 Israeli soldiers in southern Gaza

Islamic Jihad's military wing on Wednesday said that its fighters had killed three Israeli soldiers in the southern Gaza Strip.

The al-Quds Brigades said in a statement that its militants had set up an ambush al-Khuzaa near Khan Younis, killing three soldiers.

An Israeli army spokeswoman did not immediately comment on the claim.

Also Wednesday, Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades said its fighters had carried out an attack on an Israeli tank in the northern Gaza Strip.

"Our fighters at 10 a.m. today bombed a 'Merkavah' tank in eastern Jabaliya," the Brigades' statement said. more

Humanitarian agencies warn of imminent water crisis in Gaza

The Emergency Water Sanitation and Hygiene (EWASH) is a group of 30 humanitarian agencies working together to coordinate interventions, respond to needs, share information and do advocacy on the water and sanitation sector in the occupied territories. They sent out the following advisory this morning on the dire water situation in Gaza. Visit for more information.

Since the start of the Israeli assault on Gaza on 8 July 2014, the water and wastewater infrastructure in Gaza has been heavily affected by Israeli airstrikes. Main water supply and wastewater infrastructure has been hit and as a result the water supply or sewage services to 1.2 million (2/3 of the total population in Gaza) have been cut or severely disrupted. The targeting of civilian objects under situation of hostilities is prohibited according to International Humanitarian Law and is considered a war crime.

Damages to main water pipelines and a water reservoir affect the population across the Gaza Strip and house connections are damaged as a result of air raids on homes in the area. Sewage pipelines, a wastewater treatment plant and sewage pumping stations were hit, which has caused sewage flooding in some areas. A lack of electricity and fuel exacerbates the situation, disabling desalination and wastewater treatment plants, pumping stations at water wells and sewage pumping stations, hampering water provision and sewage collection and treatment. The lack of access to clean drinking water, shortage of water for sanitation as well as major damages to sewage systems pose risk of water-borne diseases and related health issues.

Service providers are unable to carry out repairs and conduct routine field operations after 4 water technicians have been killed by airstrikes. Water tankering, on which the majority of the population relies, is compromised due to these security risks. The impact on water and wastewater infrastructure reaches far beyond the areas directly affected by airstrikes.

Some communities have completely lost access to water and storage. Damage to sewage networks and subsequent sewage flooding lead to increased risk of drinking water contamination through seeping into the groundwater, wells and the water network. The displacement of hundreds of thousands of people poses further challenges to water providers. Further and continued disruption to WASH services will expose the people in Gaza Strip to important health risk. more

Israeli forces kill Palestinian in protest near Bethlehem

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian man and injured two across the West Bank early Wednesday, as protests against the ongoing Israeli military assault in Gaza that has left more than 600 Palestinians dead intensified.

Mahmud Hamamra, 32, was shot in the chest after clashes broke out early Wednesday following a rally in the Bethlehem-area village of Husan, Palestinian security sources told AFP.

Locals told Ma'an that Hamamra received a deadly gunshot in the chest during clashes which continued until the early morning hours on Wednesday.

A Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance evacuated Hamamrah to the nearby Beit Jala Governmental Hospital where he was operated on and then transferred to al-Mizan Hospital in Hebron.

Director of al-Mizan Hospital Dr. Hazim Shalaldah told Ma'an that the victim was in an extremely critical condition when he arrived and that after several resuscitation attempts, doctors had to announce his death early Wednesday morning.

An Israeli army spokeswoman told AFP that he had been one of about of about 50 people throwing rocks and petrol bombs at soldiers.

"One of the protesters was apparently hit by rubber bullets and died from that," she said.

The death was the second in the West Bank in the last two days, as protests have broken out over the last two weeks in solidarity against an Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 600. more

Israel steps up punitive home demolitions across the West Bank

HEBRON, West Bank — Said Kawasmeh received the order from Israel’s military last week. His two-story house was to be demolished, and his large family had 48 hours to leave.

The reason: Kawasmeh’s son is a key suspect in the brutal kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers whose fates helped reignite the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The son, Marwan, has disappeared. So Israel has zeroed in on his family.

“I built this house, and I own it,” lamented Kawasmeh, seated on a chair in his empty house. Outside, the family’s possessions lay in boxes and shopping bags, or scattered on the ground. “Why do they want to punish me?”

As Israel pummels Hamas’s infrastructure inside Gaza, it is also trying to prevent attacks originating from the West Bank and Israel — by obliterating the houses of the relatives of Palestinians who allegedly have harmed Israelis. In doing so, Israel’s military has returned to a controversial policy of punitive demolitions that has displaced thousands of Palestinians over the years. more

More US academics join boycott of Israel

The Critical Ethnic Studies Association announced on its website last week that its conference had formally agreed to “endorse the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and honor the call of Palestinian civil society with the passage of a resolution on the academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions.”

The association represents scholars working in ethnic studies and fields which tackle areas affected by the global history of “racism, settler colonialism, immigration, imperialism, and slavery.”

According to the association’s website, the move comes after a long period of consultation and workshops on the subject at their 2013 conference and after using online mechanisms.

In addition to calling for an institutional boycott of Israeli academia, the resolution also notes the repression which has met scholars in the United States who have attempted to speak out on Palestine, especially: “Arab and Muslim, Asian, Black, Indigenous, Latin@, and LGBTQ communities, students, activists, and scholars.”

This boycott call is particularly strongly worded for an academic statement, condemning “US support for Israeli settler-colonialism, occupation and racism” and linking the fight for justice in Palestine to other indigenous and decolonization struggles around the world. more

Israeli forces bomb al-Wafa Hospital in Gaza City

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli warplanes on Wednesday bombed a central Gaza City hospital after they claimed militants opened fire from the premises, while a UN human rights chief warned that abuses by Hamas do not justify possible war crimes by Israel.

The Israeli military said in a statement that they had "targeted specific sites" in the al-Wafa rehabilitation hospital compound "in light of several occasions in which fire was opened" and "despite repeated warnings against such activities."

The military last bombed the hospital on Thursday, forcing doctors and patients -- 14 of whom were paralyzed or in a coma -- to flee the premises.

The Israeli military has repeatedly claimed hospitals are being used as launching grounds for Palestinian militants, giving those inside only minutes to flee before subjecting them to bombing raids and shelling. more

Israel's Gaza war has 'killed more children than fighters', say human rights groups

More children than Palestinian fighters are being killed in the offensive on Gaza, according to the latest United Nations statistics, despite Israel's claims to be waging a targeted military campaign. Gaza's health ministry said that 580 Palestinians had been killed, including 155 children.

The UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said that, as of Tuesday morning, 149 children had been killed, compared with 87 confirmed members of armed groups. Even including unconfirmed combatant deaths, more children would still have died.

The Palestinian monitoring group Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights has given The Telegraph the names of 132 of the dead, all under the age of 18.

In addition, Save the Children said almost a third of those injured were children. Less than a quarter of all casualties are thought to be Hamas militants.

UN: Israel's assaults on Gaza may be war crimes

Israel's military actions in the Gaza Strip could amount to war crimes, UN rights chief Navi Pillay said, as Israel continued pounding Gaza for a 16th day.

Pillay on Wednesday has also condemned indiscriminate rocket attacks by Palestinian fighters Hamas.

"There seems to be a strong possibility that international law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes," Pillay told an emergency session on Israel's Gaza offensive at the UN Human Rights Council, citing attacks that have killed Palestinian civilians, including children.

Pillay said the killing of civilians in Gaza, especially children, raises concerns over Israel’s precautions and respect for proportionality.

Israeli assault’s on Gaza has claimed the lives of at least 648 Palestinians, including dozens of children. More than 4,000 people have been injured.

The number of Israelis who died from fighting with Palestinian fighters has climbed to 31, including 29 soldiers and two civilians. One other soldier remains missing, but is presumed dead, according to the Israeli army.

Pillay said Israeli children and other civilians also had a right to live without constant fear of rocket attacks.

"Once again, the principles of distinction and precaution are clearly not being observed during such indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas by Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups," she said. more

Abbas backs Hamas' lift the siege and free prisoners ceasefire demands

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has backed calls by Hamas for an end to the economic blockade of the Gaza Strip as a condition for a ceasefire.

At least 649 Palestinians and 31 Israelis have been killed in the past 15 days of fighting, officials say.

Israel launched its offensive on 8 July with the declared objective of stopping rocket fire from Gaza.

Meanwhile, several airlines suspended flights to Israel after a rocket from Gaza landed near Ben Gurion airport.

Fighting continued overnight on Tuesday. An air strike in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip left at least five people dead. An Israeli soldier was also killed.

A Palestinian woman whom the BBC filmed being pulled from the rubble of a Gaza blast on Sunday also died from her injuries, her doctor said. Ten of her relatives were killed in the blast. more

18 Palestinians killed in Israeli assault on Gaza Wednesday morning - death toll 644

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli airstrikes and artillery shelling killed 18 Palestinians across the Gaza Strip Wednesday morning as the military offensive against the Gaza Strip enters its sixteenth day.

More than 644 Palestinians -- the vast majority of whom have been civilians, including more than 160 children -- have been killed in the assault so far, while Israel has suffered 29 deaths, 27 of whom have been soldiers.

The Gaza Strip continued to be bombarded from air, land, and sea on Wednesday morning, a day after the the United Nations' Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA accused Israeli of shelling a UN school sheltering the displaced for the second time in two days.

"UNRWA condemns in the strongest possible terms the shelling of one of its schools in the central area of Gaza," it said in a statement.

"The location of the school and the fact that it was housing internally displaced persons had been formally communicated to Israel on three separate occasions. We have called on the Israeli authorities to carry out an immediate and comprehensive investigation."

During the offensive, more than 135,000 Gazans have fled their homes, seeking shelter in 69 schools run by UNRWA. more