Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The Greater Gaza Plan: Is Israel trying to force Palestinians into Sinai?

What is Israel’s endgame in Gaza? It is a question that has been puzzling analysts and observers for some time. But indications of the future Israel and Washington may have in mind for Gaza are emerging.

Desperately overcrowded, short on basic resources like fresh water, blockaded for eight years by Israel, with its infrastructure intermittently destroyed by Israeli bombing campaigns, Gaza looks like a giant pressure cooker waiting to explode.

It is difficult to imagine that sooner or later Israel will not face a massive upheaval on its doorstep. So how does Israel propose to avert a scenario in which it must either savagely repress a mass uprising by Palestinians in Gaza or sit by and watch them tear down their prison walls?

Reports in the Arab and Israeli media – in part corroborated by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas – suggest that Egypt may be at the heart of plans to solve the problem on Israel’s behalf.

This month the Israeli media reported claims, apparently leaked by Israeli officials, that Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, had offered the Palestinian leadership the chance to annex to Gaza an area of 1,600 sq km in Sinai. The donated territory would expand Gaza fivefold.

The scheme is said to have received the blessing of the United States.

‘Greater Gaza’ plan

According to the reports, the territory in Sinai would become a demilitarised Palestinian state – dubbed “Greater Gaza” – to which returning Palestinian refugees would be assigned. The Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas would have autonomous rule over the cities in the West Bank, comprising about a fifth of that territory. In return, Abbas would have to give up the right to a state in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. more

Hundreds of Israeli settlers invade Al Aqsa mosque

Security officers at Al Aqsa Mosque stated that over 200 extremist Israeli settlers entered the compound in occupied East Jerusalem, early Tuesday, under protection of armed escort.

According to Ma'an News Agency, Israel maintains a compromise with the Islamic trust which controls the compound to restrict the mosque for Muslim prayers, due to the sensitive nature of the area.

Israeli forces, however, regularly escort Jewish visitors to the site, often leading to violent confrontations with Palestinian devotees.

Last Sunday, when the mosque was attacked and worshippers were denied access, soldiers threw teargas bombs and caused the injury of 15 worshippers.

For Muslims, the mosque represents the world's third holiest site, where the prophet Mohammed was transported from the Sacred Mosque in Mecca to Al Aqsa during the Night Journey. more

Three Israeli soldiers committed suicide after Israeli war on Gaza

The Israeli military police have opened an investigation after three members of an elite military unit committed suicide, sources revealed yesterday.

The soldiers from the Givati Brigade, who took part in the ground operation during the recent assault, committed suicide after the Israeli war on Gaza ended.

According to the Israeli daily Maariv, in the three cases bullets from personal guns caused the deaths. Two of the soldiers shot themselves on army bases along the borders of the Gaza Strip.

All the three cases were similar, the newspaper said, as the personal guns were found beside the dead soldiers, and it is hoped the investigation will reveal how the suicides were committed. more

Gaza transfers lions to Jordan after Israel's war destroys zoo

A trio of traumatised lions were brought into Israel from Gaza on Wednesday on their way to a safer home at a wildlife sanctuary in Jordan after their zoo was largely destroyed during this summer’s conflict in the Palestinian enclave.

The three, two males and a pregnant lioness, were sedated by a team of Austrian veterinarians at Al-Bisan zoo in the Gaza Strip, loaded into metal crates and transported through the Erez border crossing into Israel.

Amir Khalil of the Four Paws International welfare group said the lions were in desperate need of help after the zoo was hit by airstrikes during the 50-day Israeli offensive against Gaza.

“The lions are stressed, violent and afraid of the slightest movement,” Khalil told AFP. “The animals are very sensitive and the detonations from the bombings and explosions had a very strong impact on them.” more

Palestinian, Israeli officials to discuss Gaza reconstruction

Israeli and Palestinian officials are scheduled to meet Thursday to agree on mechanisms for rebuilding the Gaza Strip after Israel's devastating military offensive.

Discussion points from the meeting will be submitted to an upcoming donor conference in Cairo, the Palestinian Authority's Media Center said.

Robert Serry, the United Nations special envoy for the Middle East peace process, will attend the meeting and Hussein al-Sheikh will represent the PA.

The meeting will follow up on a discussion on Tuesday between Israel's Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, Deputy PM Muhammad Mustafa, Hussein al-Sheikh and other Palestinian officials. more

Ceasefire broken again: IDF enter Gaza, soldiers open fire at farms

Israeli military vehicles entered the southern Gaza Strip early Wednesday and soldiers opened fire towards Palestinian agricultural areas, locals told Ma'an.

Twelve military vehicles entered Gaza from a gate east of the town of al-Fukhari in the Khan Younis district, witnesses said.

The vehicles reportedly crossed some 200 meters into the Strip, and soldiers scanned the area before shooting towards Palestinian farms in an apparent ceasefire violation.

Agricultural workers were forced to leave their fields when soldiers shot at their farms, the witnesses told Ma'an.

No injuries were reported.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said she was looking into the incident. more