Thursday, 11 December 2014

How Gaza families were given just ten minutes’ warning of Israeli attacks


Jehad Saftawi says he is lucky to still be living in the home that he moved into less than a year before Israel’s summertime attack on Gaza.

Saftawi, a 23-year-old journalist, was waiting for a taxi to come back to his home at the Zafir One tower in the Tal al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City on 23 August. As Israel’s bombs were striking areas across Gaza, he received a frantic call from a neighbor.

“He told me don’t return to the tower because [Israel] called residents of Zafir Four, the building next to ours, and said they were going to strike the tower with a missile,” he told The Electronic Intifada. “Then they said they’d also hit Zafir One.”

Saftawi explained that all of his belongings, including his passports and personal files, were still in his home. “I was very worried because we just moved into the home eight months earlier, after I got married,” he recalled. “Everything I owned was in the house.”

In the end, the Israeli military struck the twelve-story Zafir Four, but not Zafir One. He waited outside the home for two days before returning because he “was scared that they would strike the building at any moment,” Saftawi said.

After two days, Saftawi returned to his home to find the front door and all of the windows busted. Only four of the more than forty families that live in the building had returned.

“The Zafir Four building across the street remained smoking for more than six days,” he recalled.

Dubbed Operation Protective Edge by Israel, the military assault left 2,257 Palestinians dead, the vast majority of them civilians, according to the United Nations monitoring group OCHA.

Seventy-one Israelis, mostly soldiers, were also killed.

During the 51-day assault, Israel targeted hospitals, homes, mosques, universities and other institutions crucial to the local economy, as it has done during previous attacks. Unprecedented, however, were its bombings of high-rise residential towers across Gaza.

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Irish parliament backs recognition of Palestinian state


Irish lawmakers urged their government Wednesday to recognize Palestine as a state in a symbolic motion that sailed through parliament unopposed.

Ireland's parliament is the fourth European assembly to call for the recognition of Palestinian statehood since October.

Lawmakers in France, Britain and Spain also endorsed similar motions, reflecting growing frustration with the deadlocked Middle East peace process.

Sweden has gone even further, officially recognizing Palestine as a state in a move that prompted Israel to recall its ambassador.

The non-binding motion agreed by lawmakers in Dublin called on the government to "officially recognize the State of Palestine, on the basis of the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital, as established in UN resolutions".

This would be "a further positive contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict", it added. more

2 injured by bomb outside Gaza charity organization


Two passersby were lightly injured late Wednesday after a bomb exploded in front of a charity in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

Witnesses said that a small device exploded at the main door of the Jebous charitable association, injuring a woman and child who were passing the area.

Locals said the charity was affiliated to Fatah. No-one has claimed responsibility for the bomb.

In November, a series of bombs targeted the homes of Fatah officials in the Gaza Strip. more

PA: Israel responsible for killing minister


RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The autopsy results of Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ein show that he died after a powerful blow to the diaphragm and the heavy use of tear gas, Palestinian minister of civil affairs Hussein al-Sheikh said.

"The reason for the death of Abu Ein was his being hit by (Israeli) occupation troops and because of the heavy use of tear gas," al-Sheikh told AFP.

"We will refer the autopsy results to the Palestinian leadership to take the decisions they want," al-Sheikh told reporters, adding that "if Israel admits to the murder of Abu Ein, there will be no need to go to the International Criminal Court."

Sabir al-Aloul, director of forensic medicine in the Ministry of Health, told Ma'an that a strike to Abu Ein's face dislodged his front teeth and forced them to the back of his throat, near the epiglottis.

There was also bruising on both sides of his neck and thyroid cartilage, indicative of heavy pressure.

Food was found in Abu Ein's respiratory canals and bleeding was reported in the Tunica intima artery, located in the throat.

Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli pathologists participated in the autopsy at Al-Quds university. The Israeli pathologist did not sign the autopsy report, although he reportedly approved of the results, al-Sheikh said. more