Saturday, 26 July 2014

'Temporary truce' extended additional 4 Hours - at least 135 Bodies recovered

During the brief halt in Israeli bombardment on Saturday, Palestinian residents and medics have managed to retrieve the bodies of 135 Palestinians, mainly in Shuja’eyya, whose deaths had previously gone unreported because their whereabouts were unknown. Around 7 pm, Israeli officials announced that they would hold off on the resumption of bombardment of Gaza until 11 pm.

The Hamas party in Gaza had called for a ten-year truce with Israel, based on several conditions: that Israel lift the siege on Gaza that began in 2006 and has devastated the Palestinian economy, that Palestinians abducted by Israel since early June be released, and that access to travel to Jerusalem be restored.

These conditions, which are based in international law and are basic human rights under internationally-recognized conventions, have been rejected outright by Israeli authorities, who refused to even consider an extension of the 12-hour ‘temporary ceasefire’ for one week.

The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the French Foreign Minister had pleaded with Israel to extend the ceasefire at least for a few days, but Israeli officials refused.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters, "We all call on parties to extend the humanitarian ceasefire. We all want to obtain a lasting ceasefire as quickly as possible that addresses both Israeli requirements in terms of security and Palestinian requirements in terms of socioeconomic development." more

Israel arrests activist for hosting Skype chat with resistance icon Leila Khaled

Israel, reputedly the only democracy in the Middle East, is willing to arrest its own citizens for communicating on the Internet.

That was the experience of Samih Jabarin when he recently arranged for Leila Khaled, the Palestinian resistance icon, to address the al-Warsheh cultural center in Haifa — a city in present-day Israel — via Skype.

As soon as Khaled had completed her opening remarks and invited questions from members of the audience, three Israeli secret police officers entered the center unnoticed and quietly escorted Jabarin, its owner, from the building. He was released after interrogation later that night (11 July), but al-Warsheh was closed by police two days later.

Shabak, Israel’s secret service (also known as the Shin Bet), had previously tried to pressure Jabarin into canceling the event.

“The Shabak called me that Friday morning [11 July] and demanded that I come to their Haifa offices for interrogation,” he told The Electronic Intifada. “I refused because it was dangerous — how could I be sure it wasn’t some extremist from Im Tirtzu or another right-wing Zionist group?

“’Okay,’ they told me, ‘we will have to arrest you tonight,’ which they did.” more

Survivors of massacre in Khuza’a say Israeli forces used Palestinians as human shields

Survivors of the Israeli massacre in Khuza’a say Israeli forces are using Palestinians as human shields and killing civilians as they attempt to receive medical care from the Red Cross or flee the besieged village. Khuza’a resident Abu Ali Qudail told Yousef Alhelou: “I was watching members of my family dying in front of me, some of them were torn to pieces. Rami, Ibrahim, Alia, Haj Abed died..we had to leave them behind, as soon as we reached one of the Khan Younis schools we entered it to seek shelter but it was very crowded with people who fled their homes. Its hard to see people dying and you do not know what to do. One of my relatives’ homes were struck while they were inside.” Above, ambulances wait to evacuate wounded people from Khuza’a on July 23, 2014. more

Shell-shocked residents return to find Shujaiyya in rubble

As if struck by an earthquake, vast swathes of the eastern Gaza City neighborhood of Shujaiyya have been reduced to rubble, with unknown numbers of burnt and decaying bodies buried below.

As a 12-hour ceasefire took effect Saturday, survivors began to venture out of their homes to survey what was left, while those who had fled cautiously returned to see what had become of the only homes they had ever known.

As of 2 p.m., medical teams had already recovered 85 bodies from the rubble.

Shell-shocked residents, meanwhile, wandered through the neighborhood, with one local telling Ma'an that returnees "could not even find the location of their houses."

Yasser Hamdiyya, who lost four members of his family in the assault so far, came to check on his four-story building in Shujaiyya.

He told Ma'an that the building used to house 22 people, but upon his return he found only a pile of stones. At least 20 neighboring buildings had been leveled as well, he said. more

Gaza death toll surpasses 1,000 as bodies recovered

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian death toll in the Gaza Strip rose to over 1,000 on Saturday amid a brief truce, as some 135 bodies were pulled from the rubble of buildings destroyed by Israeli attacks throughout the besieged coastal enclave, medics said.

The bodies were found on the 19th day of Israel's assault on Gaza, during a 12-hour truce in which many Gaza residents picked through the ruins of their homes.

Meanwhile, Israeli TV said that Israel's security cabinet had approved a four-hour extension of the truce, prolonging the ceasefire until midnight.

As the brief period of calm took effect Saturday, survivors began to venture out of their homes to survey what was left, while those who had fled cautiously returned to see what had become of their abandoned houses.

The updated death toll was announced as Israeli officials considered extending the truce even longer, on the condition that the army continue targeting tunnels in Gaza, Israeli media said.

News site Ynet quoted a government source as saying an Israeli cabinet meeting was scheduled to take place at 9:30 pm to discuss the possibility. more

PRC claims to have killed Israeli soldier near Nablus

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees al-Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades said on Saturday that its fighters shot and killed an Israeli soldier near Nablus in the northern West Bank.

In a statement released from Gaza, the group said that fighters with the group opened fire at an Israeli military jeep "from a close distance at the Itamar settlement east of Nablus" at around 1:10 a.m.

"Our fighters confirmed that they killed an Israeli soldier in the jeep before they withdrew unharmed," the statement added.

The group warned that military operations would continue in the West Bank in response to the ongoing Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people. more

Thousands take to NY streets to protest Israeli offensive in Gaza

Thousands of people took to the streets of New York City on Friday evening to protest Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip and demand an end to the violence that has already killed nearly 850 Palestinians.

Waving Palestinian flags and signs condemning Israel for the offensive, many called for an end to U.S. aid to the country.

“We’re trying to break the siege and end the killing in Palestine. We just want them to live like human beings,” said Ramsey Jamal, 37, a Palestinian-American from Montgomery, New York.

On his shoulders sat his 8-year-old son, Moses, who carried a placard reading: “Israel I’m just a kid. Please don’t kill me,” alongside marks resembling a child’s bloody handprints.

Israel began its offensive earlier this month, citing a surge in rocket attacks launched from Hamas militants in Gaza. more

2 killed as tens of thousands protest Israeli assault across West Bank

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Two Palestinians were killed and dozens injured across the West Bank on Friday night as Israeli forces opened fire on thousands of demonstrators protesting in solidarity with the besieged Gaza Strip.

Thousands took part in rallies in Bethlehem, Tulkarem, Jenin, Nablus, Salfit, and dozens of other towns and villages across the West Bank that were called for by all Palestinian parties and factions.

The rallies come after a day of heavy protests across the West Bank, with six deaths as thousands took part in a "Day of Rage" following the largest protest since the Second Intifada on Thursday which brought more than 20,000 to a march at Qalandia checkpoint. more

Entire Gaza family killed prior to ceasefire, as death toll tops 940

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Minutes before a 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire went into effect in Gaza on Saturday morning, an Israeli airstrike left at least 20 members of a Palestinian family dead in Khan Younis refugee camp.

The al-Najjar family had fled their homes in Khuzaa, just east of Khan Younis, earlier in the day after Israeli artillery shelling there killed dozens, and they were hoping to find shelter somewhere further from the border.

Their refuge in Khan Younis, however, turned out to be anything but, as missiles fired from Israeli warplanes just before 8 a.m. completely leveled the four-story building they were sleeping in.

The airstrike killed eleven children, four women, and five men from the family, according to Palestinian medical sources. more