Tuesday, 23 December 2014

IDF open fire at Palestinian farmers in southern Gaza for third day

KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces (IOF) opened fire at Palestinian farmers south of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning for the third day running.

Eyewitnesses said that IOF soldiers in military positions and army vehicles opened fire at farmers and houses in Abbasan in eastern Khan Younis.

The shooting for the third day running on that same area did not inflict any casualties, the sources said, adding that reconnaissance planes were flying over the area at the time of the incident. more

Egypt keeps Rafah crossing open for third day on humanitarian grounds

RAFAH, (PIC)-- The Egyptian authorities have unlocked the Rafah crossing on Gaza borders before incoming passengers from the blockaded Strip for the third day, the Palestinian Interior Ministry said.

Egypt has opened the Rafah border crossing for passengers from the Gaza Strip for the first time in almost two months, allowing sick Gaza residents and students access out of and into the Strip.

Some 1,000 Palestinian passengers, among 35,000 stranded travelers registered in wait-lists, gained smooth access out of and into the Gaza Strip for the first time since a two months’ time.

The state of affairs in the Gaza Strip has gone from bad to worse ever since the Egyptian authorities shut the crossing on October 24, resulting in tightening the noose around Gazans’ necks and amplifying the number of passengers already stuck in the border crossing.

The Popular Committee against the Siege called on Egypt to keep the Rafah crossing open unconditionally rather than sporadically.

“The blockade policy makes Gazans’ agony even worse,” head of the committee, Hamdi Sha’at, said. “People’s needs cannot be met in single days and nights.” more

Gaza's Christians seek better life outside the prison

From his office in Gaza Suheil Tarazi, chairperson of the YMCA, is reflecting on the steady decline of the Christian community in the Gaza Strip: "You were born free by default and then you have the siege. Those that have the opportunity to get out, they get out. Some people never return because they find their freedom somewhere else," he says.

It appears that leaving, whether permanently or temporarily, plays on the mind of many Christians in Gaza. Over the Christmas period, the Israeli authorities decide who will be granted permission to travel to Jerusalem and Bethlehem to visit family and friends in the West Bank.

One of the holiest sites in Christianity, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, is located in Jerusalem yet authorisation is not given to everybody who applies. Those under 35 are refused, which could mean that a husband is granted permission to leave, but his wife is not. Ironically, Christians from across the world can travel to visit the birthplace of Jesus and the site where he was resurrected.

Members of the community at home still celebrate during the festive period. They decorate their houses with a Christmas tree - a symbol of joy - pray together and visit their family and friends. "It's peace and love during this time," says Tarazi.

These days there are roughly 1,300 Christians, made up of 350 families, living within a population of around 1.8 million in Gaza. The majority are Greek Orthodox; there are a few hundred from the Latin Church and very few Baptists. During the 1948 Nakba up to 50,000 Christians were forced from their homes in Palestine, some settled in Gaza. more