Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Gaza beach massacre commemorated by child survivors

On Sunday evening, as the sun slipped behind the Mediterranean Sea, members of the Bakr family, a sprawling clan of fishermen in Gaza City’s Beach refugee camp, gathered with hundreds of supporters on the beach next to the Gaza seaport.

Their assembly commemorated the lives of nine-year-old Ismail Muhammad Subhi Bakr, ten-year-old Ahed Atef Ahed Bakr, ten-year-old Zakariya Ahed Subhi Bakr and eleven-year-old Muhammad Ramez Ezzat Bakr.

All four were killed in Israeli strikes as they played football on the beach on 16 July. The first blast killed Ismail as he ran to retrieve a ball. Ahed, Zakariya and Muhammad died in the second explosion.

The Israeli munitions that ended their lives struck the beach directly behind a row of hotels which, in mid-July, housed many of the foreign reporters then present in Gaza.

Along with statements by members of their family and the painting of colorful murals at the site of the boys’ killings, the event also included a football match, intended to complete the one interrupted by the lethal blasts almost two months ago.

“It was never finished,” Bayan al-Zumaili of the Safadi Group, the youth organization that worked with the Bakr family to organize the event, told The Electronic Intifada. “So we decided to complete it with the survivors of the massacre.”

Al-Zumaili, a physician who graduated from the Islamic University of Gaza’s medical school two months ago, volunteered in the surgical department at al-Shifa hospital during Israel’s 51-day offensive against the Gaza Strip, which ended in an indefinite ceasefire on 26 August.

Witnessed by journalists

By 25 August, Israeli attacks had killed at least at least 2,168 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, including 521 children, according to Gaza’s al-Mezan Center for Human Rights.

The number of child fatalities has risen to at least 523 with the deaths of Ziyad al-Reefi, age nine, on 1 September, and Rahfat Abu Jame, age five, on Tuesday. Both died of injuries from Israeli attacks.

The killings of the Bakr boys in July drew broad attention not only because a single incident caused the deaths of four young relatives — a scenario repeated numerous times throughout the onslaught — but also because it took place so near to where so many journalists were staying.

Eyewitness accounts of the massacre by journalists like Sara Hussein of AFP, Peter Beaumont of The Guardian, Tyler Hicks of The New York Times, and William Booth of The Washington Post reached much larger audiences than first-hand reports of similar mass killings elsewhere. more

Hamas MP: Group ready to fight if Israel violates ceasefire

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas said Wednesday that it was prepared to fight back if Israel did not commit to the ceasefire agreement signed in August.

"The resistance is ready to fight for months and cause Israel huge losses," Hamas MP Ismail al-Ashqar said.

The ceasefire agreement stipulated that Israel would immediately expand the fishing zone off Gaza's coast, allowing fishermen to sail as far as six nautical miles from shore, and would continue to expand the area gradually.

Under the terms of the deal, Israel also agreed to ease its siege on the coastal enclave. more

Haniyeh refuses to link Gaza reconstruction to disarming the resistance

Ismail Haniyeh, vice president of the political bureau of the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas, said he refuses to link the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip with disarming the Palestinian resistance, the Anadolu news agency reported.

Speaking during a visit to areas destroyed during Israel's war on the enclave, Haniyeh said: "The Palestinian resistance weapons are sacred and we will not give up on our arms and we will reconstruct the Gaza Strip with the people's support who will not compromise our arms in exchange for reconstructing their homes. We will rebuild what was destroyed by the Israeli occupation."

Haniyeh stressed that the Palestinian people and their sacrifices "have defeated the Israeli army", pointing out that the resistance's operations against the Israeli army formed a turning point in the history of the Palestinian people.

He said: "Here. from under the rubble I announce victory despite the destruction, the village of Khuza'a is a witness to our victory and a witness to Israel's destruction and terrorism. It is a witness to the steadfastness, manhood, fortitude and magnanimity of our people and to the Israeli army's execution of unarmed civilians."

The Israeli army entered the town of Khuza'a, east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24 killing dozens of Palestinians and destroying most of the towns' homes and mosques. more

British Trades Union Congress slams Gaza attack, urges Israel arms embargo

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) passed a statement on Gaza at its annual congress Wednesday, urging the UK government to impose an Israel arms embargo and calling for the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement.

The statement, overwhelmingly endorsed, condemns the death toll in Gaza that included "many people going about their daily work", and "deplores attacks on UN facilities". The TUC recommends that those responsible for breaching international law "should be dealt with in the International Criminal Court".

The TUC statement also calls for an end to the "blockade of Gaza" and welcomes "the creation of a unity government for the Palestinian Authority" involving both Fatah and Hamas, urging "the UK government and the European Union to support this development".

In light of Israel's attacks on Gaza and policies in the Occupied Territories, the TUC statement calls on the UK government and EU to end "to end immediately arms trading with Israel including all military-industrial collaboration". The TUC itself, it adds, should work with relevant unions to "press those companies involved in supporting Israel's military to cease to do so".

Congress called for "the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement until the rights of the Palestinians are established", and commited to "rais[ing] the pressure on corporations complicit in arms trading, the settlements, occupation and the wall" through strategies that pressure "complicit companies" – a key part of the Palestinian-led Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign. more

UN, Palestinians call for $550 million in Gaza aid

RAMALLAH (AFP) -- The United Nations and the Palestinian government called Tuesday for international donors to provide $550 million in aid to help hundreds of thousands of Gazans affected by a devastating war with Israel.

The appeal comes two weeks after Israel and Hamas ended 50 days of bloodshed that killed more than 2,100 people, mostly civilians, and a month ahead of a donors' conference in Cairo.

"The scope of damage and devastation is unprecedented in the Gaza Strip," James Rawley, the UN's humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, said in a statement.

"The crisis is far from over."

Rawley and Palestinian deputy prime minister Mohammed Mustafa outlined the humanitarian needs for post-war Gaza, calling for $551 million for food aid, access to clean water, healthcare and education.

"We challenge the world to be ambitious and daring in helping us realise recovery, reconstruction and a better future for Gaza," Mustafa said.

"An immediate measure is to end the blockade on Gaza and ensure our people never again experience the horrors of this summer," he said.

Rawley echoed calls for a "full lifting of the blockade." more

Israeli forces shoot, kill Palestinian near Ramallah

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man in al-Amari refugee camp near Ramallah overnight, locals told Ma'an.

Locals said 22-year-old Issa Salim al-Qatari was shot by Israeli troops in the chest around 5:00 a.m. and taken by car to Ramallah medical complex where medics pronounced him dead.

The victim was shot during clashes between young Palestinian men and Israeli soldiers, who stormed al-Amari camp and detained resident Alaa Jalayta from his home, the sources said.

Protesters "showered the invading forces with stones, and soldiers responded with live ammunition, injuring a number of other Palestinians," one witness said.

Al-Qatari was preparing for his wedding which was to take place next week, the sources added.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said an Israeli army force entered al-Amari refugee camp overnight to arrest a "Hamas operative," and was met with Palestinian "rioters." more