Monday, 22 December 2014

Gaza: 'genocide' not too strong a word for Israeli actions says EU delegation member

An official European Parliament delegation has visited the Gaza Strip after the recent Israeli onslaught on the blockaded and besieged area, and says that Israel has committed genocide against defenceless Palestinians.

According to the PNN, a delegation including 13 members of the European Parliament, has called on the EU to break diplomatic ties with Israel and implement sanctions against Tel Aviv because of war crimes it has committed against the Palestinian people.

"I don't think it is too strong a word, not when you think of how genocide is described; it's described as the partial or the whole destruction of people; and what we are seeing happen in Gaza, in Palestine, is the destruction of Palestinians," Martina Anderson, an Irish member of the European Parliament, told Press TV.

The delegation, which has just returned to the Belgian capital of Brussels, from the Middle East, has also accused the West of turning a blind eye to Israel's crimes against Palestinians. more

Israel issues demolition orders to East Jerusalem homes

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Monday issued five demolitions orders to Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, the owners said.

Akram al-Shurafa told Ma'an that his home in al-Tur, which was built in 1938 and inherited from his grandparents, was slated for demolition.

The property has all the required legal documents and is registered in his mother's name, he said.

Al-Shurafa says the demolition order is a way of targeting him after he was recently exiled from the city of Jerusalem for five months, together with four other Palestinian community activists.

No reason was given for the exile of Faris Abu Ghannam, Daoud al-Ghoul, Majd Darwish, and Salih Dirbas.

Meanwhile, Israel issued two other demolition orders to Talal al-Sayyad and Basil al-Sayyad despite the fact neither of them own any properties.

Another man, Abdullah al-Hadera, also received a demolition order for his al-Tur home, which was built over 50 years ago, and Nadia al-Moghrabi, who was recently detained with her daughter, also received a demolition order for her home in al-Tur.

The Israeli municipality last Wednesday distributed demolition orders to 11 houses, some as old as 30 years, in the Silwan neighborhood for "building without permits." more

Analysts: Gaza reconstruction delays could lead to escalation

Barely four months after a bloody Israeli military offensive battered Gaza, experts warn that a new war could be in the offing if reconstruction is not accelerated and political divisions remain.

Since the end of the deadly 50-day war between Israel and Hamas, which killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians and 73 in Israel, little has changed on the ground in Gaza.

Swathes of the territory lie in ruins and tens of thousands of people remain homeless.

With reconstruction still conspicuous by its absence and talks to bolster the August truce repeatedly postponed, frustration is growing in Gaza -- and with it the danger of a new outbreak of violence.

This weekend, for the first time since the war ended on August 26, Israeli warplanes struck southern Gaza after militants fired a rocket over the border, the third time this has happened in four months.

Although nobody was hurt on either side, the exchange of fire raised concerns that the fragile truce could deteriorate rapidly.

Last week, as Hamas militants marched through Gaza with rocket launchers and missiles in a show of force to mark the 27th anniversary of the group's founding, they were quick to warn that the situation was unsustainable.

"If there is no reconstruction of what Israel destroyed, we warn you that there will be an explosion," warned the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's military wing.

"If our demands are ignored, there will be consequences for the enemy, its people and its leaders." more

Israeli court extends detention of 7 Palestinians for Facebook posts

An Israeli court extended the detention of seven Palestinians from Jerusalem for "incitement" via Facebook for at least three more days on Friday.

The head of a committee for the families of prisoners in Jerusalem, Amjad Abu Asab, identified the seven prisoners being held by Israeli authorities as Omar al-Shalabi, Uday Sunuqrut, Tareq al-Kurd, Sami Ideis, Ibrahim Abdeen, Nasser al-Hidmi, and Fouad Ruweidi.

The seven were detained last Monday, apparently as a result of Facebook posts that authorities found to contain messages of "incitement" to violence.

Israeli authorities have in recent years detained numerous Palestinians inside Israel and Jerusalem for posting comments or statuses on Facebook they said somehow praised violence against Israel.

Reporters Without Borders ranked Israel 112th in the world for press freedom in its 2013 report, arguing that while Israeli journalists enjoy freedom of expression, there are major structural barriers related to military control and security issues that prevent a free press more generally. more

Prisoner from Gaza barred from seeing son for nine years

Jehad Saftawi has not seen his father in more than nine years. After being denied entry permits to present-day Israel multiple times, the 23-year-old Gaza City-based journalist eventually stopped bothering to apply for prison visits through the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Because his 52-year-old father Emad was imprisoned while Jehad, the oldest of five siblings, was just nine years old, his mother “more or less had to raise us alone. It was very difficult because all of her relatives live in Syria,” Jehad told The Electronic Intifada.

Countless Palestinian families have faced such difficulty.

There were an estimated 6,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention as of 1 October, according to Addameer, a Ramallah-based group that monitors Israel’s arrests of Palestinians.

At least 381 of the prisoners were from the Gaza Strip.

Though Israel’s restrictive policies translate into hardship for all Palestinian political prisoners, those from Gaza have faced a number of unique hardships, particularly in recent years.

Gavan Kelly, advocacy officer for Addameer, explained that Palestinians in Gaza were banned from visiting relatives in Israeli prison during the 51-day military offensive against the Strip this summer.

The “denial of family visits has been used as a form of collective punishment” for Palestinians in Gaza, Kelly told The Electronic Intifada. He added that since 20 October, “visits have resumed, but are only taking place every two months as opposed to every two weeks as required under international law.”

On 8 December, 21 relatives of prisoners were granted entry to present-day Israel via the Erez crossing in northern Gaza, the Ma’an News Agency reported.

“Hardest years”

Jehad Saftawi said the last nine years have been the hardest of his life. His father, who was arrested in 2000, is always on his mind.

Along with his mother, two brothers and two sisters, he was on a family vacation in Amman, Jordan, shortly before his father’s arrest. “My dad was an employee working with the Palestinian Authority at the time,” he recalled. “He was in Dubai for his job and was supposed to return to Gaza two days after us.”

“We made it back to Gaza and waited for him. My mom got a call from the Israeli military saying that my father had been arrested while crossing Rafah,” he added, referring to the border post between Gaza and Egypt.

“My mother started to scream and cry a lot,” he said. “She was pregnant with my youngest sister at the time and knew that it would be bad.”

For Jehad’s mother, it brought back memories of a difficult past. Israel imprisoned her husband in 1992, during the first intifada — a popular uprising that spanned from 1987 to 1993 — for charges related to his activism with the Palestinian political organization Fatah.

But it was not long before Emad escaped from detention along with five fellow prisoners. Jehad said four of the prisoners who took part in that jailbreak were shot and killed by Israeli soldiers.

The surviving prisoners escaped to the Sinai desert region of Egypt, where Emad was imprisoned for several months before negotations between Fatah and the Egyptian government secured his release. But he remained in Egypt and was only able to return to Gaza in 1994 when the Palestinian Authority was established.

Upon returning to Gaza, Emad abandoned his ties with Fatah and became a supporter of Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian political group banned by Israel. more