Friday, 29 August 2014

Former US envoy says war on Gaza ends two-state solution hopes


Former US Special Envoy to the Middle East Martin Indyk said the recent war waged by Israel on the Gaza Strip "may have put a new nail in the coffin of the two state solution" warning of the negative path of relations between the United States and Israel, Israel's Channel 10 reported.

Indyk said the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip dubbed "Operation Protective Edge" damaged relations between the United States and Israel to a great extent and reinforced tensions between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama.

He pointed out that "in spite of the solid foundation in the relations between the two countries, the situation could change following the Israeli operation against the Gaza Strip."

Indyk warned of poll results which reveal a decline in the support among young people and democrats for Israel, saying that if the situation continues at this pace, Israel "will find itself in a new situation other than the one it is used to". more

One-third of Gaza's mosques destroyed by Israeli strikes


The Israeli onslaught on Gaza demolished 73 mosques in 51 days, while 205 others were partially destroyed, a government report said.

According to a committee formed by the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Construction, the damages caused by Israeli aggression on houses of worship, tombs, and charity offices amount to $40.4 million.

The only two churches in Gaza were also hit and partially damaged, while the gates of 10 tombs were destroyed.

The affected mosques represent one-third of Gaza's mosques, the committee said.

Among the destroyed mosques were historical ones, particularly Al-Omari Mosque in Jabalya which dates back to 649 AD. more

Settlers chop down Palestinian-owned orchard near Hebron


Israeli settlers, on Thursday cut down around 30 Palestinian-owned trees in an area to the north of Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, according to a local media source.

Spokesperson of the popular committee against settlement activities, Mohammad Ayyad, told WAFA Palestinina News & Info Agency that people from the illegal Israeli settlement of ‘Beit Ein, cut down around 30 olive, peach and vine trees belonging to one Hammad Islibi.

Settlers have been targeting Islibi’s land, according to Mr. Ayyad, and have cut down around 300 trees over the past five years. more

Gaza fishermen reap rewards as restrictions eased


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Palestinian fishermen in Gaza say they are already seeing the benefits of an extended fishing zone, with thousands of kilograms of fresh produce caught only days after Tuesday's ceasefire agreement.

Fishermen say they have brought home a varied catch of sardines, squid, shrimps, crabs and lax to Gaza's markets since Tuesday, with some varieties of fish unavailable for years due to Israeli restrictions.

Muhammad Abu Arab, a local fisherman, told Ma'an that "when these huge amounts of fish are available the demand increases and we sell it for cheaper prices. We can hardly wait to be allowed to fish 9 or 12 miles (from the coast)."

"We could not even see these types of fish when we were allowed only three miles out," he added.

Fisherman Faraj Qasem said he now sells shrimp for 35 shekels per kilo, compared to previous prices of up to 70 shekels due to a scarcity in produce.

"We carried one thousand kilograms of fish on the boat today," Qasem said, adding that this quantity and variety of fish is simply unavailable 3 miles from the coast. more

Gaza children left orphaned by Israel's bloody war


"She will call me Daddy and Mummy," insisted 11-year-old Amir Hamad, cradling his infant sister in his arms after the Gaza war left him and his four siblings orphans.

Fifty days of bloody fighting in and around the war-torn Gaza Strip has cost the lives of nearly 500 children, but it has also turned hundreds more into orphans, who face a future deprived of their parents' love.

"I would rather be dead than without my mother and father," Amir told AFP, saying he would never forget that fateful moment on the second day of the war when they were killed.

"My parents were drinking their coffee in the evening after breaking the (Ramadan) fast, when a bomb fell onto our home," he said, recalling how an Israeli air strike hit their home in northern Gaza.

"I saw them lying on the ground and knew immediately they were dead," said Amir, the oldest of the five children. His sister Lamis, just four-months-old, is the youngest.

Amir's six-year-old brother Nur had laid motionless, his face covered in blood.

"Two paramedics took him," Amir recalled, watching Nur who is now sitting safely next to him.

"I'll look after my brothers and sisters. But I'm scared, because my parents are no longer here to help me."

There are still adult figures in the family -- the grandmother and grandfather.

The grandmother Afaf Hamad, 60, was displaced by fighting that made almost half a million people homeless, but said she would do whatever to look after the five children.

But she has no idea how she will fund their education.

"I'll never leave them, I'll raise them as I did my daughter," she said.

"But how will we pay for school?" more

Israeli soldier succumbs to rocket wounds, raising Israeli death toll to 72


From Haaretz - An Israeli soldier who was critically wounded by a Gaza-rocket which exploded in Gan Yavne last Friday succumbed to his wounds, raising the number of fatalities on the Israeli side to 72. more

50 days of war in Gaza likely to cost Israel dearly


JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel may be painting a victorious picture of the war in Gaza, but 50 days of fighting looks set to cost it dearly on the political, economic and diplomatic fronts.

Under attack by hawks in his cabinet for accepting a ceasefire which ended the violence on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has seen his popularity plummet as the military operation, which began on July 8, dragged on for seven weeks.

But on Wednesday, Netanyahu presented his defense: Hamas, he said, was hit "very hard" and did not receive anything it had demanded in exchange for halting its fire, namely a port and an airport in Gaza.

Such matters are to be discussed, along with Israel's demand for Gaza militants to disarm, at a new round of talks which will take place in Cairo within the coming month.

But already, Israel has begun staking out its position - that there will be no port, nor an airport and no entry of any building materials that could be used by militants to manufacture rockets or build tunnels or other fortifications.

On the military front, Netanyahu also outlined Israel's achievements - the destruction of a network of attack tunnels and the elimination of "approximately 1,000 terrorists," among them senior military commanders.

He also listed the performance of the Iron Dome anti-missile system, which shot down 735 rockets heading for populated areas, which the army said equated to a 90 percent success rate.

Throughout the war, 70 people were killed on the Israeli side, 64 of them soldiers. Of the civilians who died, all of them were killed by short-range mortar shells which struck close to the border within a range that Iron Dome cannot intercept. more