Monday, 25 August 2014

Water delivery drivers dice with death in war-torn Gaza


GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Mohammed al-Khatib fears for his life every time he gets behind the wheel. In wartime, providing drinking water to homes and schools in Gaza means dicing with death.

At 23, Khatib is a veteran of two previous wars between Hamas and Israel, in 2008 and 2012, but nothing prepared him for the bombings, shredded nerves and death toll this time around.

"When I'm driving, I always feel frightened, upset and nervous," he tells AFP in the small warehouse where he loads up his truck with drinking water, as Israeli air strikes boom in the distance.

It's an essential job in Gaza, where at least 90 percent of municipal running water is not fit to drink and war damage means that for many people the only water comes from private vendors or desalination plants.

But at his boss Hossam Huneif's desalination plant, down a sandy track in Gaza City, Khatib is one of the few drivers who turn up. Many of the regulars have stayed away since war broke out in July.

Khatib says he is exhausted by over-working, and lack of security, fuel and electricity. Then there are the horrors he has encountered.

"Perhaps I'll go to fill a house with water and find that house has been targeted by an Israeli air strike.

"For example, the Mata family -- I always filled their tank, then one day we went and their house wasn't there anymore. It was bombed."

Three of his friends have been killed and others have been injured. At home his family of eight has swollen to 30, as they welcome in refugees escaping the worst fighting in eastern Gaza. more

Video: 'Rubble Bucket Challenge' launched in Gaza


A "Rubble Bucket Challenge" has been launched in support of people in Gaza suffering from Israeli air strikes. In an imitation of the "Ice Bucket Challenge", the campaign sees people pour buckets of sand and rocks over their head and nominate others to do the same.


The concept is intended as a "a campaign to raise awareness about the war on Gaza where people are are bombed inside their homes", according to its Facebook page.

At the time of writing, the Facebook campaign page had over 2,600 "likes". A Gaza-based journalist Ayman Aloul, who took part in the challenge, posted a YouTube video in which he appears to be standing amid the ruins of Gaza buildings destroyed by air strikes.

"We looked for a bucket of water, however the use of water is more important than to empty over our heads," he said. "And even if the water is available it is difficult to freeze it."

Various videos have already been posted in which participants from countries including Germany and the United States pour a bucketload full of rubble over their heads, and nominate others to follow suit.

In the video featuring Mr Aloul, he says: “If five famous people in the world like actors or presidents will do the challenge, that means I succeeded in sending the message about Gaza."

Hashtags for the campaign include #dustbucketchallenge and #remainsbucketchallenge. more

Nablus child dies of a serious injury after being shot by soldier on Friday


Palestinian medical sources in the West Bank have reported that a Palestinian child died, Monday, of a serious injury suffered after the army opened fire at Palestinians near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, last Friday.

The sources said Hassan ‘Ashour, age 15, was shot by several rounds of live ammunition in the chest and liver, and was later declared clinically dead until he passed away on Monday morning.

Local sources said that the child was wounded during clashes which took place at the Beit Forik Israeli military roadblock, east Nablus, after the soldiers assaulted several Palestinians. more

Palestinian official: Egypt proposes new Gaza ceasefire


Egyptian mediators have proposed a new ceasefire in Gaza that would open the blockaded enclave's crossings and allow in aid and reconstruction materials, a senior Palestinian official said on Monday.

The Palestinians, including the de facto Hamas rulers of the enclave, would be willing to accept such a deal if Israel does, the official told AFP.

The proposal would defer to a later date negotiations on disputed points that have prevented a long-term ceasefire deal, he added.

An Egyptian official confirmed that mediators have contacted the Palestinians and Israel with a new proposal.

"There is an idea for a temporary ceasefire that opens the crossings, allows aid and reconstruction material, and the disputed points will be discussed in a month," the Palestinian official said.

"We would be willing to accept this, but are waiting for the Israeli response to this proposal," he said, requesting anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations. more

Gaza death toll reaches 8 following Israeli airstrikes


Six Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since midnight by Israeli airstrikes, medical officials said, while a further two died from wounds sustained in earlier attacks.

In the latest airstrikes, a woman and a child were killed after Israel targeted a home in Beit Lahiya. Five people were injured in the strike on Raddad Tamboura's home.

Muhammad Shubeir was also killed in an airstrike in Gaza City.

Meanwhile, Hani Muhammad Yasin died of wounds he sustained several days ago while Nidal Badawi also died from injuries sustained Saturday in airstrikes on Rafah.

Earlier, three Palestinians were killed overnight Sunday as Israel's air-force targeted over 30 sites in the Gaza Strip, medical officials said.

Farhana al-Attar was killed in Beit Lahiya after a missile struck her home after midnight, medics said.

Yasin al-Biltaji and Yahya Abu Daqin were killed at dawn when Israeli warplanes fired missiles at a group of people in the Tuffah neighborhood of Gaza City.

Dozens were injured in the strike.

In Rafah, two Palestinians were injured by an Israeli airstrike near the crossing terminal, while seven people were injured in Jabalia when an Israeli strike destroyed the al-Kahlut family home.

The al-Ghoul, Nuthur, Karaja, and Abu Aun family homes were destroyed in targeted strikes overnight, witnesses said.

The Omar Ibn Abd al-Aziz mosque was destroyed in Beit Hanoun, together with the Ali Ibn Abu Talib mosque in Gaza City.

At least than 2,120 Palestinians and 68 people on the Israeli side, all but four of them soldiers, have been killed since July 8. more

Report: Egypt may soon announce month-long ceasefire agreement


BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli military sources say Egypt could announce a one-month ceasefire agreement in Gaza on Monday after mediators made significant progress, Israeli news site Walla reported.

According to the Hebrew language site, Egypt will make the announcement late Monday, with both Hamas and Islamic Jihad having reportedly agreed to the deal.

The agreement includes the first stage of opening the Rafah crossing and the expansion of Gaza's fishing zone to 12 nautical miles, Walla reported.

Israel will also gradually allow more commercial products into Gaza, including construction material, via the Kerem Shalom crossing if the ceasefire is maintained.

On Sunday, Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal said that the group insists that the siege on Gaza is lifted and that Gazans were being starved by a lack of food and medicine. more

Three Palestinians killed in Gaza overnight, dozens injured


Palestinian medical sources reported, Monday, that two Palestinians were killed and dozens injured, in a series of Israeli air strikes and bombardment targeting different areas of the Gaza Strip.

The sources said that one woman was killed and at least sixteen were injured, one seriously, after the Israeli army fired missiles into a mosque and several homes.

The slain woman has been identified as Farhana al-‘Attrar, 48 years of age.

She was killed after the army fired missiles into the al-‘Atatra area, west of Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Another Palestinian died of wounds suffered earlier Sunday, and at least fourteen Palestinians were injured, when the army bombarded homes in Gaza City.

Medical sources said the slain Palestinian has been identified as Yassin Ibrahim al-Biltaji, 23. more