Monday, 13 October 2014

Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike for 24 days

A Palestinian prisoner in an Israeli jail has been on hunger strike for 24 days in a row in protest against being held without charge or trial for nearly a year, a rights group said in a statement.

The Palestinian Prisoner's Society in Jenin said in a statement that 35-year-old Raed Moussa was detained in Jenin on Nov. 29, 2013 and sentenced to six months of administrative detention.

Moussa's detention was then extended for four more months, the PPS statement said.

The prisoner then started an open hunger strike for 34 days, until he was promised there would be no more extensions to his administrative detention.

He restarted his strike in September when the Israeli Prison Service re-sentenced him for another four months of administrative detention. more

British MPs to vote on recognizing Palestinian state

LONDON (AFP) -- British lawmakers on Monday hold a non-binding vote on recognizing Palestine although government ministers will not take part, in a sign of the political sensitivity of the issue.

The debate is being closely watched internationally after Sweden incurred Israeli wrath this month for saying it will recognize Palestine.

The symbolic vote is on a motion put forward by Grahame Morris, an MP from the opposition Labor Party, and is likely to get the backing of most Labor members.

Within the two ruling coalition parties, some Conservatives and most Liberal Democrats are likely to vote in favor, despite the government's position.

"If the vote is a success it would put a tremendous amount of pressure on the current government and the next government, which is likely to be a Labor government, to recognize Palestine as a state," Morris told AFP in an email.

"The UK recognizing Palestine could give decisive momentum to more EU states following suit," he said.

Some pro-Israel Labor MPs will vote against and have voiced resentment at being ordered by the party leaders to vote in favor in what is expected to be a charged debate.

The House of Commons debate, which will start at 1330 GMT, follows the collapse of peace talks between Israel and Palestine and this year's conflict in Gaza in which more than 2,000 Palestinians and dozens of Israelis were killed, mostly soldiers.

The Palestinian Authority estimates at 134 the number of countries that have recognized Palestine as a state although the number is disputed and several recognitions by European Union member states date back to the Soviet era. more

Egypt deports 68 Palestinian migrants back to Gaza

Egyptian authorities deported 68 Palestinians back to Gaza on Monday after they attempted to reach Europe from the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria.

The Palestinian migrants were found in Alexandria by security forces and had hoped to reach Italy, Egyptian officials said.

An Egyptian court declared that all 68 be deported to Gaza after it emerged they had used smuggling tunnels in Gaza to enter Egyptian territory.

In early September, 43 Palestinians were detained near Alexandria while attempting to reach Europe. more

Israeli forces raid Aqsa compound, clash with Palestinians

Hundreds of Israeli police raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Monday, leading to clashes with Palestinian worshipers, witnesses said.

Israeli forces fired stun grenades, tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinians in the holy site during the clashes.

Israeli media reported that Palestinian youths threw rocks and fireworks at police officers.

Police had deployed in heavy numbers to secure the visits of Jewish worshipers to the site for the holiday of Sukkot. A group of Israelis also toured the site led by right-wing MK Moshe Feiglin.

Witnesses said Israeli forces raided the site at 6 a.m. following morning prayers.

During the clashes, a fire broke out on carpets near the eastern gate of the compound, Al-Aqsa guards said, as youths and police faced off outside the mosque.

Israeli forces assaulted Aqsa mosque guards during the raids and detained Hajj Nihad Zghayr and an unidentified Palestinian teen. more

Norway FM: Donor conference pledges $5.4 bn for Gaza

CAIRO (AFP) -- International envoys pledged about $5.4 billion in reconstruction aid for the Gaza Strip at a meeting in Egypt on Sunday, Norway's foreign minister said.

"The participants pledged approximately $5.4 billion," said Boerge Brende, reading out a closing statement at the Cairo conference which Norway co-hosted.

The donors "committed themselves to start disbursing their assistance as soon as possible," Brende said.

Half of the pledges will go for reconstruction and the rest as unspecified aid to the Palestinian Authority, he said.

Qatar pledged an entire $1 billion, while Kuwait and the UAE pledged $200 million each.

The conference aimed at financing the reconstruction of swathes of Gaza destroyed in the July-August Israeli assault on the Strip.

Palestinian officials had asked for up to $4 billion. more