Monday, 20 October 2014

Gazans visit relatives jailed in Israel for 1st time since June


Over 60 Palestinians from Gaza visited relatives in Israeli jails on Monday for the first time since June, officials said.

A Palestinian crossings official said two buses carrying the relatives of Palestinian prisoners crossed into Israel, the first such visit since the trips were suspended in June.

The jail visits were banned following the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers.

Gaza families used to visit jailed relatives in Israel every Monday via the Erez crossing on buses run by the International Committee of the Red Cross. more

Rain floods exacerbate life for embattled Gaza residents


Moataz Sukkar no longer runs to his home's balcony in the Gaza Strip to welcome the year's first autumn rain.

The Palestinian young man had to carry out an urgent chore after rainwater spread through the floor of his house: fix the fragile spread of nylon sheets and cloth rags he had installed to cover the roof after it was blown off by Israeli warplanes during the latter's recently-ended devastating offensive on the coastal enclave.

"This is exactly what we have feared; that the rain season will begin before the reconstruction process [for the strip] does," Sukkar, 23, told Anadolu Agency on Sunday. "This morning the rain ruined our only option for covering up the roof."

In Gaza City's eastern Shujaya district, which had been heavily targeted by Israeli bombardments, Mohamed al-Moghni screams at his children to stay away from the streets surrounding their partially-destroyed home after they were flooded with rainwater.

"We were flooded with rain inside our damaged house because I haven't been able to repair it," he said as he attempted to get rid of the water inside his house using a number of buckets.

Already underdeveloped as a result of a years-long Israeli siege as well as two past wars in the recent past, the Gaza Strip's infrastructure was substantially damaged during Israel's latest offensive, which spanned 51 days of deadly bombardments between July and August.

Much of the embattled territory's sewage system and road networks, as well as water wells, have been destroyed during the bombings, leaving large pools of rainwater mixed with sewage all over Gaza as wet weather threatens to exacerbate the strip's post-war affliction.

Over 2,160 Palestinians were killed and over 11,000 injured during Israel's latest offensive, in addition to an estimated $5 billion in economic losses, according to the Palestinian government.

"Unfortunately, the rain in the Gaza Strip now brings more pain," said Marwa Hassanein, 54. more

Settlers take over 2 buildings in East Jerusalem


Armed Jewish settlers took over two buildings in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on Monday, a local group said.

The Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that a group of armed settlers raided Silwan at 2 a.m. and occupied two buildings consisting of 10 apartments.

The owners of the buildings, Salah al-Rajabi and Imran al-Qawasmi, sold the properties to a Palestinian man identified as Shams al-Din al-Qawasmi, who in turn sold the buildings to Jewish settler groups, the center said.

The previous Palestinian tenants left the buildings over four months ago.

There are now four settlement outposts in the heart of the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, the center said, increasing fears of a gradual Jewish takeover of the strategic area.

The settler news site Arutz Sheva quoted Jerusalem Councilman Arieh King as saying: "This morning the Jewish population in the Yemenite Village doubled." more