Thursday, 20 November 2014

Ministry: 36,000 Palestinians stranded amid month-long Rafah closure


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Gaza Ministry of Internal Affairs said on Thursday that tens of thousands of Palestinians are currently unable to cross the Rafah crossing with Egypt despite an urgent need, as a closure of the border by Egyptian authorities enters its fifth week.

Ministry spokesman Iyad al-Buzm said during a press conference in Gaza City that 6,000 Palestinians are stuck on the Egyptian side of the crossing unable to return home, while 30,000 humanitarian cases -- including sick people seeking treatment abroad, students, and foreign-passport holders -- are stuck on the Gaza side, unable to leave.

Al-Buzm called the closure of the Rafah crossing for four weeks a "humanitarian disaster" for the Gaza Strip, adding that Egyptian authorities are currently closing the crossing "for no logical reason."

Al-Buzm pointed out that the Rafah crossing has been closed for 208 days this year so far, severely limiting the movement of people and goods.

He requested the Egyptian authorities to open the crossing to traffic in both ways, noting that the crossing "has never been a burden on Egyptian security and there had never been any security violations on the crossing."

Al-Buzm said that the closure of the crossing has prevented many supplies and aid shipments from entering the Gaza Strip following the 51-day Israeli offensive that left nearly 2,200 Palestinians dead and around 108,000 homeless.

According to the United Nations, nearly 30,000 Palestinians are still staying shelters across the Gaza Strip, as Israel and Egypt have jointly prevented construction supplies from entering, hindering reconstruction. more

Costly pro-Israel PR campaign fails to stop UCLA divestment


On Tuesday night, the University of California at Los Angeles became the sixth of nine undergraduate campuses in the UC system within the last two years to pass a resolution calling for divestment from firms that profit from the Israeli occupation. The resolution was passed despite expensive efforts by anti-Palestinian groups to thwart such a victory.

In a landslide victory — with eight student senators voting in favor, two voting against and two abstaining — UCLA’s resolution formally calls on the University of California to “withdraw investments in securities, endowments, mutual funds, and other monetary instruments with holdings” in eleven US-based companies linked to the occupation.

More than thirty student groups representing a wide spectrum of causes supported the divestment resolution.

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at UCLA stated in a press release following the vote that members of the UCLA student council “from a variety of political affiliations voted in favor of the resolution.”

SJP at UCLA adds that “Before the vote, council members expressed their admiration and respect for the coalition building, education, and outreach by SJP-UCLA during our campaign.”

In October 2013, UCLA’s undergraduate student body voted down a resolution that would have threatened the ability of students to pursue divestment from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation. more

Settlers attack village near Nablus; residents briefly detained two


A number of extremist Israeli settlers invaded, Thursday, the village of Qusra, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and attacked property before local villagers chased them, and briefly detained two.

Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official in charge of Israeli Settlements file in northern West Bank, said the settlers came from Yesh Kodesh illegal settlement, south of the village.

Daghlas added that local youths surrounded the invading settlers, and held two of them for more than 30 minutes, before the Palestinian District Coordination office intervened, and handed them to the Israeli side. more

Israeli forces storm Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem


Israeli forces on Wednesday night broke into the mourners’ tents of the family of Ghassan and Udayy Abu Jamal from Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood who were shot dead after they attacked a synagogue and killed five in west Jerusalem on Tuesday.

Witnesses told Ma’an that the soldiers broke into both the men and women tents as well as the home of Mahmoud Abu al-Jamal and removed all posters of Ghassan and Udayy.

Meanwhile, clashes broke in the Jabal al-Mukabbir, Sur Bahir and al-Tur neighborhoods in protest against Israel’s refusal to deliver the bodies of Ghassan and Udayy Abu Jamal to their families for burial.

Medical sources said 12 young men were injured by rubber-coated bullets including one seriously injured in Sur Bahir after he was hit in the head. Dozens of others were hurt by tear-gas inhalation.

An official in the Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service in Jerusalem Dr Amin Abu Ghazala said four out of the 12 injured in Sur Bahir and Jabal al-Mukabbir needed hospitalization because they were hit in the head and face.

Local sources in Sur Bahir told Ma’an that undercover Israeli forces raided the homes of the Nimir and Hammad families and detained three young men after assaulting them and other family members.

Ahmad Khader Nimir said Israeli forces broke into his home with police dogs and attacked all his family members including his blind 52-year-old wife causing bruises in her head and arm. She was evacuated to hospital. The soldiers also attacked a young man who suffers from cancer before they detained Tariq Ahmad Khadir Nimir, 30, and his brother Rashid, 24.

Israeli forces also ransacked the home of Munir Mousa Hamamd, 33, in Zaquqa neighborhood of Sur Bahir and detained him after beating him.

In al-Tur, young Palestinian men hurled four fire bombs at an Israeli military jeep during clashes near al-Maqasid hospital. Witnesses said Israeli troops stationed themselves on rooftops and showered the area with tear gas.

Clashes were also reported in the Silwan and al-Isawiya neighborhoods. Residents of Wadi Qaddum area in Silwan told Ma’an that special Israeli forces carried out a sudden raid in the area firing rubber-coated bullets. As a result, a young man was hit in the abdomen and another in the foot. more