Monday, 4 August 2014

Israel has caused '$5 billion' damage to Gaza homes, infrastructure


BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel's offensive on Gaza has caused over $5 billion of damage to homes and infrastructure in the Strip, the Minister of Public Works said Monday.

Minister Mufeed al-Hasayneh, a resident of Gaza, told Ma'an that the amount of money is likely to increase as the assault continues.

Some 10,000 homes have been completely destroyed, and 30,000 homes partially destroyed, al-Hasayneh said.

"The three areas that have undergone the most intense destruction are Shujaiyya, Beit Hanoun, and Abasan," the minister said.

"Ministry crews were astonished when they arrived to Shujaiyya, where some 110,000 people live. Sixty percent of the homes were completely destroyed, especially those in the eastern part of the neighborhood."

The minister said it would take $5 billion to rebuild structures alone, "not including possessions, like furniture and cars." more

Israel, Palestinian factions agree to 72-hour ceasefire


Palestinian factions and Israel have agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire starting from 8 a.m. on Tuesday, sources close to talks in Egypt said Monday.

"Egypt's contacts with relevant parties have achieved a commitment for a 72-hour truce in Gaza starting from 0500 GMT tomorrow morning, and an agreement for the rest of the relevant delegations to come to Cairo to conduct further negotiations," a senior official in Egypt told AFP.

"The Palestinians have agreed to a ceasefire proposed by Egypt," Azzam al-Ahmed, leader of the Palestinian delegation, told reporters in Cairo.

Earlier, sources close to the talks told Ma'an that Palestinian factions agreed to a three-day ceasefire which they said is likely to pave the way for a full cessation to fighting. more

Urgent Action alert: Rescue team delivering urgent humanitarian aid to Rafah at risk


From the International Solidarity Movement - Call your representatives and the foreign offices of the UK, Sweden, and the USA to inform them that citizens of these countries are travelling to Rafah to deliver aid. Demand that Israel cease targeting medical personnel rescue teams and civilians, and immediately provides an evacuation route to transfer humanitarian aid to Rafah and to evacuate patients to other hospitals in Gaza for treatment.

Some contact information is provided below.

Palestinian human rights defenders, joined by international volunteers, are now travelling to western Rafah with a Red Crescent truck to deliver food, mattresses, and water.

“The situation in Rafah cannot continue, people are left with nothing. There is a small window of time, that will dissolve in two hours, and then no one knows what will happen to all the civilians- the families- who need support. That’s why we’re going with mattresses, water, and food, these supplies are desperately needed right now.” Stated Swedish International Solidarity Movement (ISM) volunteer, Charlie Andreasson.

The group of international volunteers, including Swedish, U.S and UK citizens, are travelling from Jabalya down the Beach Road to western Rafah, with supplies donated by al-Fatiha Global and Project Akhirah.

Arwa Wael, resident of western Rafah, spoke to the ISM and stated that, “thousands of people were forced to leave the eastern side of Rafah travelling to what they thought to be the safer western side, taking shelter in UNRWA schools, in relatives and friends homes. In spite of this, these places were attacked by Israeli warplanes and many people were killed in a very short period of time, including ten members of the Zorad family. Now we are without electricity, without water and without food. Due to the shelling of the Abu Yousef hospital, the patients were evacuated to two clinics, one of which is also in the western part. The clinic doesn’t have a morgue, so ice-cream and vegetable fridges are being used to hold the dead bodies, generators are powering these fridges and are swiftly running out of fuel.”

A press release issued by the Gaza Ministry of Health on August 3rd reports that at least 170 people have been killed and dozens injured in Rafah in recent days. The two maternity hospitals in Rafah, the Kuwaiti Maternity Hospital and the Emirati Red Crescent Maternity Hospital, are not equipped to deal with the large number of wounded and dying people, and there is no safe evacuation route to transfer patients to other hospitals in Gaza for treatment.

Contact: UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office
MP Philip Hammond
+44 20 7008 1500
020 7219 4055
@foreignoffice
US Department of State
Israel Foreign Service Desk: 202-647-3672
@StateDept
Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Carl Bildt
+46 8 405 10 00
(Plus a load more phone numbers on this page: www.government.se/sb/d/2085)
@carlbildt
@SweMFA

more

Police kill driver of excavator after 'attack' leaves Israeli dead



update: 31:44 GMT - Reports of shooting at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Israeli police shot and killed a Palestinian man who rammed an excavator into a bus in East Jerusalem Monday, knocking the bus on its side and running another man over, medics and police said.

They said the man who was run over by the excavator was killed as well.

"A 25-year-old man was run over by the excavator and killed, and the bus driver was moderately to lightly injured," emergency services spokesman Zaki Heller told AFP, saying another four people were lightly hurt in the incident which police described as a "terror attack." more

Is the BBC trying to shore up support for Israel’s assault on Gaza?


Pro-Israeli broadcasters are finding it ever harder to defend Israel in the face of the large-scale massacres and destruction in Gaza, but the BBC is determined to do its best, sacrificing all claims to impartiality and journalistic integrity in the process.

In addition to flooding its radio and television programs with Israeli spokespeople, while keeping Palestinian voices to a minimum, the BBC, as it did during Israel’s 2012 assault on Gaza, has taken to presenting pro-Israel commentators as independent.

BBC audiences are, therefore, given strong doses of pro-Israeli propaganda — being told that Hamas is using civilians as human shields, that Israel has shown nothing but restraint in the face of constant rocket attacks, that it is defending its citizens and so on — while under the impression that they are hearing neutral, independent comment.

These key Israeli messages are, of course, more likely to be believed by viewers and listeners if they think they are impartial observations, rather than the opinions of pro-Israeli spokespeople.

On 17 July, as part of its 10pm news broadcast, the BBC News Channel ran an interview with Davis Lewin, deputy director and head of policy and research at the Henry Jackson Society.

The Henry Jackson Society is a virulently pro-Israel think tank, described in 2012 by its founding member, Marko Attila Hoare, as “an abrasively right-wing forum with an anti-Muslim tinge, churning out polemical and superficial pieces by aspiring journalists and pundits that pander to a narrow readership of extreme Europhobic British Tories, hardline US Republicans and Israeli Likudniks.”

In a 2013 job advert for the position of its North American director, the society wrote it was looking for someone who could reach out to the “pro-Israel community.”

Lewin himself is the recipient of an “Israel research fellowship” — a one-year placement awarded to university graduates, under which they work for the Israeli government or an organization sympathetic to Israel (he is listed as an alumnus of the class of 2009/10).

On its website, the Israel Research Fellowship (IRF) organizations says recipients of the award are “mentored by senior executives in their placements and informed by specially designed conferences.” It adds: “Israel research fellows, with their comprehensive knowledge of historical and intellectual trends, serve as articulate spokespeople for Israel. The IRF is a pro-Israel, apolitical, non-partisan enterprise that aims to serve in the best interests of the State of Israel.”

Damage already done

And yet, when he appeared on the BBC News Channel, Lewin was introduced by presenter Martine Croxall as simply: “Davis Lewin, who’s from the Henry Jackson Society, a foreign and defense policy think tank.”

Few people watching would have been aware of the nature of the Henry Jackson Society or of Lewin’s pro-Israel placement. more

Medics: Israeli strike kills 8-year-old girl despite truce


Israeli forces targeted a home in Gaza City early Monday, killing a young girl and injuring dozens of Palestinians just minutes after a humanitarian ceasefire came into effect, health officials said.

Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said an airstrike hit the home of the al-Bakri family in al-Shati camp, killing eight-year-old Aseel Muhammad al-Bakri and leaving 30 people injured.

The wounded, among them children, were taken to al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

Less than an hour later, Israeli forces shelled a house in al-Nuseirat camp in the central Gaza Strip, causing injuries, a Ma'an reporter said. more

Israeli forces kill 16 Palestinians ahead of humanitarian truce


Sixteen Palestinians have been killed in attacks on Gaza since midnight on the 28th day of Israel's offensive on the Strip, a health official said Monday.

Health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said in a statement that the death toll in Gaza since the beginning of the assault had risen to 1,822.

The lethal attacks came ahead of an Israeli-announced humanitarian ceasefire that was to begin at 10:00 a.m and continue until 5:00 p.m across the Strip, except for areas east of Rafah, where heavy clashes between militants and Israeli forces have been raging for days.

However, it was not immediately clear whether Hamas and other militant factions would respect the unilaterally-declared truce.

"The unilateral ceasefire announced by Israel is an attempt to divert the attention from Israeli massacres," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said, calling on Palestinians to proceed with caution.

The Hamas movement "doesn't trust such a ceasefire," Abu Zuhri said. more