Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Haniyeh hails Palestinian resistance victory in massive Gaza rally


Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh greeted thousands of Palestinians in a central Gaza square on Wednesday in a massive victory rally following the signing of a long-term ceasefire that concluded 50 days of intense conflict with Israel.

The speech followed the release of polls earlier in the day showing widespread belief in Gaza that the Palestinian military resistance had increased its deterrence capacity and overwhelming support for the firing of rockets into Israel.

In his speech, Haniyeh hailed the people of Gaza and the resistance forces for their steadfastness in the fight against Israel, which claimed the lives of more than 2,100 Palestinians -- the overwhelming majority of whom were civilians -- and left 64 Israeli soldiers dead, in addition to six civilians in Israel.

"Those whose blood was spilled and the martyrs were the fuel of this victory," Haniyeh said during the rally, emphasizing to the crowd of thousands that the resistance had been preparing for the battle for years.

"It is not possible to express this victory with words and speeches," he added.

"The victory is beyond the limits of time and place. This battle is a war that lacks a precedent in the history of conflict with the enemy," he said, stressing that the group was preparing for the "ultimate battle" for the liberation of Palestine.

"The war began with fire on Haifa and ended with fire on Haifa," he told the crowd, highlighting the fact that Hamas had managed to fight throughout the seven-week Israeli assault and emerged with its military strength intact.

"The Palestinians who couldn't celebrate Eid al-Fitr because of the fighting and because they were on the battlefield, today celebrate the celebration of victory." more

Jerusalem faces largest surge in arrests since 2nd Intifada


Palestinian communities in Jerusalem are experiencing the largest upsurge in detentions since the Second Intifada, with a marked increase in Israeli police brutality and the collective punishment of entire neighborhoods, local organizations say.

The mass detentions began following widespread demonstrations in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shufat after the murder of teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir on July 2.

Since then, over 770 Palestinians have been detained in East Jerusalem, according to Addameer prisoner rights group.

The arrests in Jerusalem took place parallel to a wide-reaching detention campaign in the West Bank, which saw between 800-1,000 Palestinians detained following the kidnapping of three Israeli youths on June 12.

Although the majority have been released, police brutality, the bail conditions set for detainees and a system of closures on Palestinian areas have made life difficult for individuals and whole neighborhoods alike.

Around 70 Palestinians detained are still in police custody, with many transferred to detention cells in Lod after the Russian Compound in Jerusalem reached full capacity.

"It's collective punishment for all Jerusalem residents," Mahmoud Qaraeen from the Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan told Ma'an. more

Israel lost the war in Gaza but the struggle for justice goes on


There is one clear reason to celebrate the ceasefire deal Israel and the Palestinian resistance reached today: 51 days and nights of relentless Israeli massacres and destruction have come to an end in Gaza.

With reports that Israel has agreed to reopen Gaza’s borders, Hamas announced victory and Palestinians, especially in Gaza, are celebrating. Among many Israelis, meanwhile, there is a feeling of bitterness and defeat.

“What Netanyahu and his colleagues have brought down on Israel, in a conflict between the region’s strongest army and an organization numbering 10,000, is not just a defeat. It’s a downfall,” wrote Haaretz’s Amir Oren in a stunning admission of how much Israel has been set back.

Some observers are treating the latest events with understandable caution.

“I do not feel in a rejoicing mood, only glad that no more people and children will die,” Gaza writer Omar Ghraieb wrote to me.

In addition to the more than 2,100 killed, “so many people got injured, houses got bombed, towers got leveled and life got deformed,” Ghraieb adds. “I would rather just watch closely what awaits Gaza.”

Indeed, Israel has a long history of violating almost every agreement it has ever signed with Palestinians, from the 1993 Oslo accords to previous ceasefires in Gaza.

Israel agreed to open the crossings as part of its November 2012 ceasefire deal with the Palestinian resistance, but reneged. This time Israel knows the stakes are much higher if it violates those terms again. more

Skies calm over Gaza as truce takes hold


The skies over the Gaza Strip were calm Wednesday as a long-term ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians took hold after 50 days of the deadliest violence in a decade.

Millions in and around the war-torn enclave enjoyed a welcome night of peace during which there were no strikes on Gaza, nor Palestinian rockets fired at Israel, the Israeli army said.

"Since the truce came into force, there has been no IDF activity in Gaza, and no rocket fire on Israel," a military spokeswoman said 12 hours after the guns on both sides fell silent.

In Gaza, where celebrations erupted once the truce took hold on Tuesday, the festivities continued late into the night as its 1.8 million residents revelled in the end of seven weeks of bloody violence.

The conflict, which began on July 8 when Israel began Operation Protective Edge in a bid to stamp out cross-border rocket fire, has claimed the lives of 2,143 Palestinians and 70 on the Israeli side. more