Thursday, 28 August 2014

Israel approves Jewish religious school in heart of East Jerusalem


Israel's Jerusalem municipality has approved plans to build a Jewish religious school in the heart of occupied East Jerusalem, Palestinian activists and Israeli media said.

The Ohr Somayach yeshiva will occupy a nine-story building in the middle of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, Haaretz reported.

The plan was reportedly approved six months ago by Jerusalem's Municipal Planning and Building Committee and given the go ahead on Wednesday.

A Ma'an reporter said the building will occupy 1,900 square meters and have three underground floors.

The religious school will be located between the al-Hayat Medical Center and the Nasif gas station.

Activist and Sheikh Jarrah resident Salih Diab told Ma'an that the building of a Jewish religious school, and the implementation of evacuation orders against Palestinian residents, will turn Sheikh Jarrah into a "Jewish neighborhood."

The land was reportedly confiscated in the 1980s under Israel's Absentee Property Law of 1950, which had been used as a tool to annex Palestinian land.

A 2013 report prepared by the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem said that the law has been used extensively in Jerusalem to confiscate property and land owned by West Bank Palestinians. more

Aid convoys trundle into Gaza as ceasefire holds


GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Life in Gaza resumed some semblance of normality Wednesday as a long-term truce took hold following a deal hailed by Israel and Hamas as 'victory' in the 50-day war.

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

More than 200 tonnes of aid from Saudi Arabia, Oman and Turkey trundled into Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, a border official said.

Earlier, a World Food Programme aid convoy headed into Gaza from Egypt for the first time since 2007, carrying enough food to last 150,000 people for five days, the Geneva-based agency said.

Jawad Ayad returned to his home after being away for 38 days. Although it was partially destroyed, he said Gaza's "patience" had paid off in the end.

"We have been through difficult days and made a lot of sacrifices, but God has granted us victory," said Ayad, a man in his 50s.

"I hope that this war will be the last." more

Poll: 54 per cent of Israelis believe they lost the war


A poll conducted by the Shiluv Millward Brown market research group after the announcement of the long-term ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian resistance factions showed that 54 per cent of the Israelis surveyed believe that Israel lost the war in Gaza, the Jerusalem Post reported.

The poll, the results of which were broadcast on Israel's Channel 2 television on Wednesday evening, found that only 32 per cent of Israelis polled think that the performance of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was good, whereas 59 per cent rate his performance as bad.

Assabeel newspaper noted that recent polls have shown that support for Netanyahu has dramatically decreased over the last few weeks, falling from from 37 to 32 per cent in the past few days alone. Netanyahu's approval ratings were 55 per cent two weeks ago, 65 per cent three weeks ago and 82 per cent during Israel's ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. more

Israeli forces fire warning shots near Gaza border


Israeli forces fired warning shots near the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday, Israel's army said.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said warning shots were fired in the air after a crowd of Palestinians began hurling rocks at the security fence.

The crowd dispersed following the gunfire, she added.

The incident took place east of Gaza City in an area adjacent to the Nahal Oz kibbutz, Israeli media reported.

The Israeli security buffer zone around Gaza was meant to be reduced following Tuesday's ceasefire agreement, with farmers initially reporting that they were able to access their fields 100 meters from the border fence. more

Gaza officials say terms of ceasefire being implemented


Israel authorities have begun implementing the terms of a ceasefire agreement that went into effect early Tuesday, officials in Gaza said, as life slowly began returning to normal after 50 days of bombardment on the besieged coastal enclave.

As Palestinian farmers returned to their fields and fishermen began venturing out to the sea again, the situation had noticeably improved from before the war.

Officials told Ma'an that farmers were able to tend to fields around 100 meters from the border fence, suggesting that the Israeli security buffer zone has been drastically reduced from its previous range.

Before Israel's recent Operation Protective Edge, Israeli forces opened fire on those who entered the buffer zone, which ranged from 500-1500 meters from the border and encompassed 17 percent of Gaza's total land area and 35 percent of its agricultural land, directly affecting the lives and livelihoods of more than 100,000 Gazans.

The effects of the newly-signed long-term ceasefire agreement could also be witnessed on the sea, where Gaza's 4,000 fisherman cautiously began venturing out again after being shot at numerous times by Israeli forces in recent weeks. more

IFRC: 250,000 Palestinians displaced by Gaza strikes

“The military operations in the Gaza Strip, in which civilians and civilian objects were attacked, has led to the displacement of around 250,000 Palestinians who now live in public and UNRWA schools-turned-shelters,” said Vice-President of the International Federation of Red Crescent and Red Crescent Societies, and President of the Italian Red Cross, Francesco Rocca, Tuesday.

According to WAFA, the news was announced during a meeting with President of the Palestine Red Crescent Society, Younis Al Khatib, at the National Society’s Headquarters in Ramallah, occupied West Bank.

Al Khatib “touched on the effects of the conflict on Palestine Red Crescent Society teams, branches and ambulances in the Gaza Strip. Since the conflict began, two ambulances have been destroyed with a further 27 damaged, 46 staff have been injured and four branch offices extensively damaged,” the statement detailed. more

Egyptian soldiers kill Palestinian exiting tunnel near Rafah


Egyptian soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian man on Wednesday by a smuggling tunnel near Rafah, Egyptian security sources said.

Egyptian border guards spotted two people exiting a tunnel near Rafah and opened fire, injuring one man in the abdomen.

Muhammad Izzat Abd al-Aziz, 22, later died in an Egyptian hospital in el-Arish.

The other man managed to escape.

Security sources said al-Aziz may have been attempting to smuggle African migrants into Israel from Egypt. more