Saturday, 31 January 2015

Israeli army kidnaps three Palestinians near Gaza

The Israeli army kidnapped, on Friday evening, three Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, claiming that the three men infiltrated into an area in the Eshkol Regional Council of Settlements.

The army said the three Palestinians entered the area through a gap in the border fence, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

It claimed that the kidnapped Palestinians “carried knives,” and have been moved to an Israeli security center for interrogation. more

Israeli navy opens fire at Gaza fishing boat

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli naval forces on Saturday morning opened fire at Palestinians fishing off the coast of Gaza, in yet the latest attack on residents of the beleaguered coastal enclave.

Fishermen told Ma'an that Israeli gunboats stationed off the coast of the al-Sudaniyya area of northwestern Gaza City opened fire at them.

They said that Israeli navy fired warning shots at one fishing boat "despite the fact that it was sailing within the six nautical miles in which Gaza fishermen are allowed to sail."

No injuries were reported as a result of the incident.

An Israeli military spokeswoman told Ma'an she was unfamiliar with the incident. more

Friday, 30 January 2015

Teen hurt as Israeli forces suppress West Bank demos

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces suppressed weekly protests near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on Friday, injuring a child, a Ma'an reporter said.

In Nabi Saleh, a 15-year-old Palestinian boy was injured in the thigh with a live bullet fired by Israeli soldiers.

The boy, Muhammad Bilal al-Tamimi, was taken to the Palestine Medical Center in Ramallah.

This week's march in Nabi Saleh was a protest of Israeli violations against Palestinian children. Protesters held signs against the Israeli occupation and demanding protection for Palestinian minors.

Demonstrators also carried pictures of Malak al-Khatib, a 14-year-old girl currently being held in Israeli custody.

Israeli soldiers fired tear-gas grenades and rubber-coated bullets at protesters. Clashes broke out after protesters refused to stop marching. more

NGO: Israel to build 430 new West Bank settler homes

The Israeli government on Friday published tenders to build 430 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank, the head of an NGO that monitors settlement activity told AFP.

"It's the opening of the settlement floodgates," said Daniel Seidemann, head of the Terrestrial Jerusalem group, adding that the announcements were the first since October 2014 and unlikely to be the last before the March 17 general election.

He said that the new homes were to be built in four existing settlements across the West Bank -- 112 in Adam, 156 in Elkana, 78 in Alfei Menashe and 84 in Kiryat Arba.

Seidemann, whose group particularly monitors settlement in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, predicted that building plans there were likely to be announced soon.

"I don't think it's over," he said. "I would be very concerned." more

Israel halts program supposed to end night-time arrests of children

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli military has shut down a program meant to decrease the number of night-time arrest raids targeting children in Palestinian homes after less than a year, with statistics suggesting that even when the program was active night raids barely decreased at all.

Military Court Watch, a Palestinian legal monitor focused on the treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli detention, said in a statement on Thursday that the Israeli military had also failed to keep any statistics on the program it implemented of its own accord, meaning no independent evaluation could be conducted.

MCW said that the evidence "indicates that no genuine attempt has been made by the military authorities to effectively replace night arrests with summonses and that the pilot program has not been implemented in good faith."

"No details of the pilot study were made public to enable an independent assessment," the statement continued, adding that the military had since conceded that no records were even kept to begin with, in effect preventing any "internal or external assessment" of what they themselves had said was a "pilot program" that was to be implemented elsewhere if successful.

"The evidence indicates that repeated night-time raids by the Israeli military is an essential element in the military's strategy of 'demonstrating presence' in Palestinian villages located near settlements amounting to a systematic pattern of intimidation." more

IMF: Gaza war pushed Palestinian economy into recession

WASHINGTON (AFP) -- The war between Israel and Gaza drove the Palestinian economy of Gaza and the West Bank into its first contraction since 2006, the International Monetary Fund said Thursday.

While the West Bank managed a 4.5 percent expansion last year, Gaza's economic activity declined by about 15 percent, the IMF said, linking it to Israel's harsh bombing and shelling of the coastal enclave and slow progress on rebuilding.

Overall, the contraction amounted to about one percent of gross domestic product.

"Economic activity contracted in 2014, following the war in Gaza in the summer and mounting political tensions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem," the IMF said.

After a mission to assess the state of the economy, the IMF said a strong recovery this year was also in doubt due to Israel's continued refusal to hand over some $127 million worth of clearance revenues due to the Palestinian Authority on goods imported into the West Bank and Gaza.

"These represent about two-thirds of net revenues and are essential to the PA's budget and to the Palestinian economy," it said. more

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Kerem Shalom opened to allow goods into Gaza Strip

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities opened the Kerem Shalom crossing on Thursday in order to allow food aid and fuel into the Gaza Strip.

Raed Fattouh, a Palestinian official responsible for the crossing, said that 450 truckloads of goods for the trade, agricultural, and aid sectors were supposed to be allowed into Gaza.

Fattouh added that 150 trucks of those being allowed to cross are carrying gravel to be used in Qatari infrastructural projects.

He pointed out that fuel will also be allowed into Gaza.

The Kerem Shalom crossing is the only entry point for commercial and humanitarian goods from Israel into Gaza. more

Investigators: Israel fired on Gaza civilians carrying white flags

The Israeli military opened fire on a mass march of civilians who were carrying white flags and calling out “peaceful, peaceful” as they tried to exit Khuzaa village in southern Gaza, which had been under siege for three days, corralling them back into the village.

Those who were trapped in the village had tried to coordinate a safe evacuation with the International Committee of the Red Cross, but Israel’s shelling would not let up.

This is one of the many disturbing findings from one of the only international and independent fact-finding missions that Israel has allowed to access the Gaza Strip since the 26 August ceasefire that ended 51 days of intensive bombing.

Last week the mission published “No Safe Place,” a more than two hundred-page report on their findings from their forensic investigation. The mission’s aim was to assess the types, causes and patterns of injuries and deaths and to collect evidence for potential use in local or international justice mechanisms.

The investigation devotes special attention to the siege on Khuzaa, detailing the attempts civilians made to flee Israeli fire and finding that the army used people as human shields, executed civilians at close range, and intentionally neglected mortally wounded children. During the four days of heavy bombardment of the village, scores were critically injured. While the report refers to twelves deaths specifically, it says the total number of casualties remains unknown.

The report also finds that most of those who were killed during the summer assault were crushed to death, frequently in their homes, and often with other members of their family by their side. More than 142 families lost at least three members in a single strike. Recent casualty counts estimate the total killed as at least 2,257 and as high as 2,310.

Organized by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, the investigation team consisted of international experts from the fields of forensic pathology, emergency medicine, pediatrics and health and human rights. more

Hundreds of thousands of children shell-shocked after the war in Gaza

From The Daily Telegraph - Sayed Bakr lived through a deadly missile bombardment in the darkest days of the war in Gaza.

But posing underneath a portrait of his closest brother, Mohammed, who he lost in that attack, proved too much. After volunteering to stand with the picture, the 12-year-old broke down and called for his mother.

Sayed and his friends were the target of one of the most harrowing episodes of last summer’s war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. While playing football on the beach, they came under fire from an Israeli pilot who apparently mistook them for militants.

Four boys from the Bakr family died in the missile strike and four were injured. In the immediate aftermath, Sayed was left paralysed with terror, unable to speak, writhing hysterically against a wall.

Today, more than six months later, he is one of hundreds of thousands of children in Gaza who need treatment for shell-shock.

After his crying fits, nightmares and frequent violent outbursts he was given a course of powerful anti-psychotic drugs for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He no longer goes to school, and is frequently visited by visions of the blast.

"I used to dream that I was dead," said Sayed, speaking hesitantly in the living room of his family's spartan home, a few hundred yards from where the strikes happened. "I always saw my brothers and cousins running after me in the dream. When the missiles struck and we were running away, I was certain we were all going to die. "Even today I am in continuous fear. Whenever I hear a loud noise or a bang, I feel terror." more

Israeli gunboats fire at Gaza fishermen

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) – Israeli gunboats opened fire on Thursday morning at Palestinian fishermen off the coast in northwestern Gaza City, witnesses said.

According to the witnesses, fire from machine guns was heard from time to time off the coast during dawn hours. No injuries or detentions have been reported. more

Palestinian parties gather in support of Hezbollah in Gaza

Leaders representing major Palestinian parties and resistance groups in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday gathered to express their support for Hezbollah's strike against the Israeli military earlier in the day, calling for a "joint front" with the Lebanese movement.

The event, which brought together representatives of Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and a number of others, was held to celebrate the attack that left at least two Israeli soldiers in the occupied Shebaa Farms dead.

The strike came as a response to an Israeli attack on Hezbollah forces inside Syria just over a week ago that left seven fighters dead, including a top Iranian general.

Attendees at the event distributed sweets in celebration of the operation, and leaders from each of the parties assembled express their hopes for a united effort with Hezbollah against the Israeli occupation. more

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Donor funding shortfall exacerbates Gaza crisis

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A massive shortfall in the $5.4 billion pledged for Gaza reconstruction by the international community last October is exacerbating an already dire humanitarian crisis for Palestinians displaced by Israel's summer offensive.

On Tuesday, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, the largest service provider in the Gaza Strip, announced that it was forced to stop a cash assistance program for tens of thousands of Palestinians to make repairs to damaged and destroyed homes.

The program also provided rental subsidies for Palestinians made homeless by Israel's military offensive.

"The generous pledges that were made in Cairo need to to be translated into money in the bank, and that money has not arrived," UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness told Ma'an.

UNRWA has so far only received $135 million since the conference -- leaving a shortfall of $585 million -- and that money has been distributed to 8,000 Palestinians for reintegration payments and 7,000 for cash assistance.

Around 59,000 families also received funding to repair their damaged homes. Those awaiting funding will likely continue to live under tarpaulin tents in the ruins of their properties while at least 12,000 Palestinians remain in 18 UNRWA shelters.

UNRWA's director in Gaza, Robert Turner, said in a statement that it is "unclear" as to why donors have not fulfilled their pledges.

"People are desperate and the international community cannot even provide the bare minimum -- for example a repaired home in winter -- let alone a lifting of the blockade, access to markets or freedom of movement." more

Israel admits 2 soldiers killed, 7 wounded in Hezbollah attack

Two Israeli soldiers were killed and seven wounded when an anti-tank missile struck an Israel Defense Forces vehicle in the Har Dov area near the Lebanon border on Wednesday morning, as mortar shells were fired at nearby areas.

IDF forces responded with artilley fire, shelling several targets in southern Lebanon. A Spanish UNIFIL soldier was killed in the strikes.

Seven IDF troops were being treated at the Sieff Hospital in Safed and the Rambam Hospital in Haifa. Three suffered light to moderate wounds, and the rest were lightly wounded. The IDF said that no soldier had been kidnapped, despite earlier reports.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who was meeting with China's foreign minister in Beijing, said Israel should respond in a "forceful and disproportionate manner" to the events, in the way that the U.S. or China would respond to similar events. He told his Chinese counterpart that he expects Israel to receive support from her friends in the world for such a response.

One of the mortar shells fired from Lebanon struck a home in Ghajar, a village which straddles the border, setting the structure alight. The mortar fire continued into the afternoon, aimed at the Hermon region. Hezbollah claimed responsibility for all of the attacks.

The IDF responded by shelling targets in southern Lebanon. Lebanese media quoted security officials as saying that Israel has fired at least 25 artillery shells into Lebanese territory. The officials said the shelling targeted the border villages of Majidiyeh, Abbasiyeh and Kfar Chouba near the Shebaa Farms area, according to Lebanese media.

A spokesman for UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force deployed in south Lebanon since 1978, said the UN is looking into the circumstances of the incident in which one of the force's soliders was killed. He did not disclose the nationality of the soldier, but local media reports said he was a Spanish national. more

Hezbollah hits Israeli convoy, kills 4 soldiers

From The Daily Star (Lebanon) - MARJAYOUN, Lebanon: Hezbollah fighters attacked an Israeli military convoy in the occupied Shebaa Farms, in south Lebanon Wednesday, killing four soldiers in a clear response to a recent Israeli airstrike.

Hezbollah issued a statement, it dubbed, "statement number 1," adopting the attack on the Israeli military convoy.

"At 11:25 [Wednesday morning] the Quneitra Martyrs unit targeted with appropriate missile weapons an Israeli military convoy comprising several vehicles and [transporting] Zionist officers and soldiers causing the destruction of several vehicles and inflicting many casualties on the enemy," the brief Hezbollah statement read.

"The ball now is in the Israeli court if the Israelis launch a wide scale response, Hezbollah will respond in kind," a senior political source told The Daily Star. "At this stage we cannot completely rule out this spiraling out of this incident into a full fledged war," he added.

The source said Hezbollah is expected to release a second statement that includes pictures and footage of the ambush.

A security source told The Daily Star that 30 shells were fired from the Israeli side across the Lebanese border following the midday attack that struck a convoy, damaging two vehicles. Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV said the attack destroyed 9 vehicles. Al-Manar also reported the killing of a Spanish peacekeeper serving as part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in the attack.

Eye witnesses said Hezbollah responded to shelling of Lebanese territories from an Israeli position in the Ruweisat al-Alam area in the Shebaa Farms with projectiles.


Israeli rights group questions legality of targeting Gaza homes in war

From The Guardian - Serious questions have been raised by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem about the legality of Israel’s policy of targeting dozens of Palestinian homes during last summer’s war in Gaza – a strategy that led to hundreds of civilian deaths.

The report is the latest alleging serious breaches of international humanitarian law by Israel during the 50-day conflict. According to B’Tselem, the policy of striking residences led to the deaths of 606 people in 70 attacks on homes that it examined. Among the dead were 93 children under the age of five.

The claims come at a sensitive time for Israel following the announcement this month of an initial investigation by the international criminal court into whether war crimes were committed in Gaza.

Although a number of individual incidents are being investigated by the Israeli military attorney general, the specific policy of targeting residences is not under investigation, despite the high death toll. The issue could potentially be taken up by an ICC investigation.

The prosecution of the war is also being investigated by the UN Human Rights Council, by a commission of inquiry set up by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, and by the Israeli state comptroller, Joseph Shapira, who has been tasked with investigating decisions made by Israeli political and military leaders.

The B’Tselem research follows hard on the heels of a report by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel this month that strongly criticised the Israeli military’s system for warning Gaza’s citizens of impending strikes during the conflict, also citing the lack of safe evacuation routes and strikes against rescue teams.

In December, Amnesty International said the destruction of four high-rise buildings during the conflict was a war crime “carried out deliberately and with no military justification”. more

New death sentence issued by Gaza court condemned by PCHR

PCHR Calls for Immediate Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty as a Form of Punishment in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) renews its demand for the abolishment of the death penalty in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) as Gaza courts issued a second death sentence in 2015.

On Monday, 19 January 2015, the Court of First Instance in Gaza City, acting as a court of appeal, sentenced E. M. A. (24), from al-Maghazi refugee camp in the Central Gaza Strip, to death by hanging after convicting him of shooting and killing M. B. A. (68), from al-Maghazi refugee camp in a family dispute on 15 February 2009.

A first degree court had sentenced the aforementioned to life imprisonment on 9 March 2014, but the Prosecutor appealed the ruling, and the sentence was raised by the Court of Appeal to death.

It should be noted that the defendant was 18 when the first sentence was issued. more

Lebanon TV: 15 Israel soldiers killed in attack

BEIRUT (Ma'an) -- A Hezbollah attack on Israeli soldiers along the northern border with Lebanon killed 15 officers on Wednesday, a Beirut-based television network reported.

Sources close to Hezbollah told the Beirut-based al-Mayadeen that at least 15 Israeli officers have been killed after Hezbollah fighters attacked a convoy of military vehicles.

News sites in Israel, meanwhile, said only four soldiers were injured.

Israel's Channel 10 network reported that a military hummer came under attack by an anti-tank missile. more

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

UN halts Gaza house repairs saying donors failed to pay up

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said on Tuesday that it cannot afford to repair Gaza homes damaged in last year's war with Israel because donors have failed to pay.

"The agency has exhausted all funding to support repairs and rental subsidies," the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said in a statement.

"$5.4 billion was pledged at the Cairo (aid) conference last October and virtually none of it has reached Gaza. This is distressing and unacceptable.

"It is unclear why this funding has not been forthcoming," it added.

UNRWA said that the homes of more than 96,000 Palestine refugees were destroyed or damaged during the conflict.

They made up the vast majority of the more than 100,000 homes that were hit during the 50-day conflict between Israel and Hamas.

UNRWA said: "Some funds remain available to begin the reconstruction of totally destroyed homes."

But it added that cutting subsidies to displaced residents currently renting alternative accommodation could force large numbers back to UN schools and centres which are already sheltering 12,000 people.

"UNRWA in Gaza has so far provided over $77 million to 66,000 Palestine refugee families to repair their home or find a temporary alternative," it said.

"This is a tremendous achievement; it is also wholly insufficient... We are talking about thousands of families who continue to suffer through this cold winter with inadequate shelter. People are literally sleeping amongst the rubble. Children have died of hypothermia."

Two babies died in Gaza earlier this month as dozens of homes were flooded in brutal storms that brought freezing rain and gale-force winds.

Gaza's sole power station, which was damaged during the war, is struggling with a severe lack of fuel and is only able to supply the enclave with six hours of power per day. more

Israeli navy sinks Gaza fishing boat, detains four fishermen

A Palestinian fishing boat drowned, on Monday evening, after Israeli navy ships fired rounds of live ammunition at it in Palestinian waters, west of Gaza city. The soldiers also kidnapped four fishermen.

Eyewitnesses said the navy first fired live rounds at the boat, then used loud speakers ordering the four fishermen on board to jump in the cold water, and swim towards them.

The four were then cuffed and blindfolded, before they were taken to an unknown destination.

The boat belongs to members of the al-Habeel family, for whom fishing is their only source of livelihood.

The attack is one of hundreds of similar assaults and violations carried out by the Israeli army against the Palestinians in the besieged and impoverished coastal region.

The Israeli navy now targets Palestinian fishing boats almost on daily basis, in clear breach of the Egyptian-brokered truce agreement reached on August 26 of last year.

This agreement includes allowing Palestinian fishermen to sail within 6 nautical miles in the Gaza Sea, with an incremental expansion in the allotted area. more

Israeli troops open fire at Gaza farmers near border, no injuries

Israeli forces on Tuesday morning fired at Palestinian agricultural lands across the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, witnesses said.

Witnesses told Ma'an that several Israeli military vehicles stationed near a gate on the border fence east of Khan Younis opened fire several times toward Palestinian fields on the other side of the border. No injuries have been reported.

Farmers were forced to leave their fields. more

Monday, 26 January 2015

Thousands march in Gaza to commemorate PFLP founder

Thousands of Palestinians marched in Gaza on Monday to commemorate the death of George Habash, the founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

The march, led by PFLP leaders and national factions, set off from the Unknown Soldier's Square in Gaza City and called for national unity and an end to political division.

"Our message today, on the memory of the death of al-Hakim (the wise one), George Habash, is to hold to the values he represented during his lifetime, since founding the Arab Nationalist Movement until the day he left us," PFLP leader Kayid al-Ghoul said.

Habash was "known for his revolutionary ethics as an entrance to a clean policy based on our people's rights, the history of Palestine and his deep faith in the ability to achieve victory against Israel," al-Ghoul added.

George Habash, a Palestinian Christian, founded the leftist PFLP and led the party until 2000, when health issues forced him to resign.

He died in Amman on Jan. 26, 2008, at the age of 82. more

87 Palestinians in Gaza visit relatives jailed by Israel

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Around 87 Palestinians left the Gaza Strip on Monday to visit relatives being held in Israeli jails, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

Spokeswoman Suheir Zaqut told Ma'an that 29 children were among the group, including 13 aged between 10 and 16.

It is the first time since 2010 that Israel has allowed children over 10 to participate in the visits to Israeli jails.

There are around 450 Palestinian men from the Gaza Strip in Israeli jails. more

Palestinian injured by army fire near Hebron, one detained

Palestinian medical sources have reported, on Sunday evening, that a young man was injured, and another was kidnapped, by Israeli soldiers invading Beit Ummar town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

Spokesperson of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Ummar, Mohammad Ayyad Awad, said the soldiers kidnapped Ma’zouz Ibrahim Awad, 19 years of age.

The young man was kidnapped while heading back home after visiting his brother Ja’far, a former political prisoner currently receiving treatments in the Augusta Victoria Hospital in occupied Jerusalem.

The parents and other family members of Ma’zouz have been denied access to Jerusalem, and were unable to visit their ailing son, who suffered various complications due to the lack of medical attention and treatment while in detention.

In addition, 17-year-old Palestinian suffered various cuts and bruises in the ath-Thaher area in Beit Ummar, after dozens of soldiers invaded it, and chased local youths. more

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Gaza says readying sea port for international travel

A ministerial committee in Israeli-blockaded Gaza announced plans on Sunday to ready the enclave's sole seaport to allow Palestinians to travel abroad.

The enclave, home to 1.8 million people, has been under an Israeli land and sea blockade since 2006. Its sole gateway to the world not controlled by Israel is the Rafah border with Egypt, which has been largely closed since late October.

Alaa al-Batta, spokesman for the committee formed to lift the blockade, said preparations are under way to launch within two months a boat service for the sick and students studying overseas.

The port in Gaza City is currently restricted to fishermen, whom Israel only allows to fish up to a maximum of six nautical miles from the shore.

Israeli forces routinely fire on any vessel close to the outer limit.

Opening a port was one of the main Palestinian demand to be tabled during negotiations with Israel to firm up a truce agreement which ended a 50-day war in July and August. more

Video: Naima Shalhoub sings Ferguson-Gaza Blues

From The Electronic Intifada - Naima Shalhoub has an absolutely stunning voice. Listen to her sing “Ferguson-Gaza Blues.”

She’s accompanied by Bouchaib Abdelhadi on oud, Jeremy Mitchell on drums and Timothy Wat on Piano.

After hearing this powerful song, I wanted to know more about how the Lebanese-American Shalhoub’s art and politics intersect. She was kind enough to provide these thoughtful replies to my questions.

Ali Abunimah: What inspired you to make this song?

Naima Shalhoub: I’ve learned, seen and felt the systemic connections between the racial oppression of Palestinians in Palestine, as well as the racism against and mass incarceration of Black people in the United States for quite some time.

In August, however, when the attacks on Gaza were happening at the same time as the Ferguson protests and the wider call to draw attention to police brutality against Black and brown people, the grief was overwhelming. As an artist, I couldn’t help but write a song attempting to draw the connections between the two.

Both peoples experience oppression stemming from the global prison-industrial complex. It is no coincidence that Gaza is the largest open-air prison while the United States has rampant incarceration rates and death rates of Black and brown people.

The histories of slavery and colonization continue to haunt and fuel the present. I felt called to write something that tells somewhat of a story of the deep contradictions at present as well the lives lost in the name of so-called “security” and “democracy.”

AA: Is your art usually political, or was this a departure for you?

NS: I’m mainly inspired to write music that speaks to the human struggles with power, oppression and the desire we all have for freedom. Because of that I tend to write songs that some may categorize as political, but I really feel it’s just me grappling with injustice ingrained in the current order of things. more

Palestinian stabbed and beaten settlers in Hebron

Medical sources in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, have reported that Israeli fanatics attacked, beat and stabbed a Palestinian man, from Doura nearby town. Israeli soldiers invaded various communities in Hebron and handed interrogation warrants to a number of Palestinians.

A physician working in the Hebron Governmental Hospital said Yousef Ahmad Hantash was hospitalized after being stabbed, and beaten by the settlers.

He added that Hantash, 38 years of age, suffered several cuts and bruises to various parts of his body, and is currently in a moderate but stable condition.

Eyewitnesses said the attack took place on a bypass settlement road, near Doura town, south of Hebron. more

Freed prisoner in serious condition at East Jerusalem hospital

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Jaafar Awad, a young Palestinian man who was released last Wednesday from Israeli custody due to serious health troubles after a year of interrogation, was transferred Friday to Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem from a Hebron facility.

His parents, who escort him day and night, say his situation is worsening daily and he can't speak or move.

Awad is attached to a breathing machine. His father told Ma'an reporter that Jaafar started to suffer after an injection he was given at a clinic in Israel's Eshel prison six months ago. After that treatment, added the father, Jaafar started to have vision troubles in his left eye as well as diabetes, thyroid swelling and severe pulmonary inflammation.

"After his health conditions deteriorated seriously, a hearing was held at Ofer court and the court decided to release him after he was interrogated for 15 months," the father told Ma'an.

He added that lawyer Jawad Bolous pleaded on behalf of his son and that the Israeli court decided that the decision included a fine of 40,000 shekels as well as a suspended sentence of 18 month to be dismissed after 5 years. The fine was paid by the Palestinian Authority. more

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Extremist settler runs over 5-year-old Palestinian boy

An extremist settler on Friday evening ran over a child of five with his car in Tulkarim and fled the scene.

The child's family who live in Shofa village in Tulkarim reported that the settler, who is believed to be from a nearby settlement built on the village's lands, ran over their child, Nabeel Hasan Drobi, who was near the bypass road south of Tulkarim when the settler attacked him. Nabeel's injuries demanded his move to the hospital where he received treatment for his wounds. more

UN accuses Israel of illegally razing homes of 77 Palestinians

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- The United Nations has accused Israel of illegally demolishing the homes of 77 Palestinians, mostly children, this week in occupied East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

"In the past three days, 77 Palestinians, over half of them children, have been made homeless," the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement issued Friday evening.

"Some of the demolished structures were provided by the international community to support vulnerable families.

"Demolitions that result in forced evictions and displacement run counter to Israel's obligations under international law and create unnecessary suffering and tension. They must stop immediately," said OCHA.

The demolitions took place in East Jerusalem and the districts of Ramallah, Jericho, and Hebron, it added.

OCHA said that during 2014 Israel carried out a record number of demolitions in east Jerusalem and a zone of the West Bank under full Israeli control known as Area C.

"In 2014, according to OCHA figures, the Israeli authorities destroyed 590 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C and east Jerusalem, displacing 1,177 people -- the highest level of displacement in the West Bank since OCHA began systematically monitoring the issue in 2008." more

Two Gazans snatched for allegedly crossing border fence

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) nabbed on Friday evening two Palestinians for allegedly crossing the border fence to the east of Gaza Strip.

Palestinian sources said that two Palestinian unarmed citizens were arrested overnight after trying to cross the border fence, adding that heavy Israeli gunfire was heard in the area.

Since early November, more than 40 Gazans were nabbed at the hands of IOF soldiers under the pretext of crossing the Israeli border fence in search of work within the Green Line.

Meanwhile, a 17-year-old boy was detained in Beit Ummar, to the north of al-Khalil, after being stopped at a make-shift military checkpoint at the entrance to the town. more

Friday, 23 January 2015

Fifth child dies from exposure to freezing temperatures in war-torn Gaza

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — A grieving father has recounted to NBC News how his five-month-old son froze to death after the family's Gaza home was bombed by Israel. Sami Abu Khesi is among the Palestinians who have yet to rebuild in the wake of last summer's conflict which left more than 2,100 people dead.

His son, Wadie, was born in Gaza's Nasser Hospital as fighting raged between Hamas militants and Israeli forces on August 15. After the cease-fire, Wadie was brought home. But amid the worst winter weather in years, Wadie was found dead on January 15. "His mother was nudging but there was no life," Khesi said in what remains of his home in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood, some walls nothing more than scrap metal and nylon sheets. "So I looked at the boy and he was frozen. She woke me up and I found that he was frozen."

The Gaza Ministry of Health has not issued an official cause of death, but the family believes it was hypothermia. Relatives say he had previously been in good health. The ministry has confirmed four children have died as a result of hypothermia this winter.

According to the United Nations, more than 18,000 homes were destroyed or severely damaged by the summer conflict in densely populated 139-mile-square Gaza. More than 100,000 people were left homeless, the U.N. said, and countless more continue to live without heating or running water. more

Egyptian navy shoots, injures Gaza fisherman

Egyptian naval forces on Friday shot and injured a Palestinian fisherman that allegedly entered Egyptian waters south of Gaza, officials in Egypt said.

Egypt's navy spotted a Palestinian boat with two fishermen crossing into its territorial waters off the coast near Sheikh Zuweid in northern Sinai.

Naval forces demanded that it stop, but the fishermen continued to flee the area and Egyptian forces opened fire.

Ihab Zuhei Hassan al-Amuri, 35, was shot in the stomach while the other unidentified fisherman was arrested and taken for interrogation.

In December, Israeli media claimed that a fisherman it detained from Gaza was smuggling weapons to Hamas from Sinai using his fishing boat. more

Thursday, 22 January 2015

UN Gaza rebuilding to halt at end of January due to lack of funds

A United Nations programme to rebuild Gaza and give aid and shelter to more than 100,000 Gazans made homeless by the 50-day summer war will be suspended at the end of January because world donors have reneged on promises to pay.

After the war, known as Operation Protective Edge in Israel, world donors, meeting in Cairo in October, pledged $5.4 billion to reconstruct the bombed-out Strip but only a small proportion has been paid.

A sum of $720 million was set aside for UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, for rebuilding the homes of Gaza’s refugees, who make up more than two thirds of the population. To date the UNRWA program is $580 million short. more

Israeli court sentences a child to two months imprisonment

The Israeli Military Court in ‘Ofer prison sentenced, Wednesday, a young Palestinian child identified as Malak al-Khatib, 14 years of age, to two months imprisonment, and 6000 New Israeli Shekels fine.

The soldiers alleged she “hurled stones at them," and “carried a knife."

Al-Khatib, from Beiteen village near Ramallah, was taken prisoner on December 31 2014, and was subjected to interrogation and harsh treatment without legal representation.

Her family was never allowed to see her, and were prevented from talking to her during the court session.

The court sentenced the child to two months imprisonment, and ordered a 6000 NIS fine, the Ahrar Center for Detainees’ Studies has reported.

Head of the Legal Unit of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) Jawad Boulos said Israel’s policies of detaining, interrogating and sentencing children are direct violations of international treaties and laws regarding the protection of civilians, especially the children.

“The violations start from the moment of their arrest; such kidnappings are carried out in very violent, and extreme, manner,” he said, “The children are interrogated and tortured, physically and emotionally during interrogation; the abuse they face significantly affects their lives, and future.” more

Physicians for Human Rights report says Israel 'failed to minimize civilian toll in Gaza war'

Israeli conduct during last summer's war in the Gaza Strip increased the number of civilian casualties, an independent report has said, by failing to differentiate between military targets and civilian populations.

Despite claims to the contrary, the military did not give sufficient warning for civilians to evacuate residential areas before striking them, according to the report partly commissioned by Physicians for Human Rights' Israeli branch and carried out by eight independent medical experts.

The report also cited potential violations of humanitarian law and indiscriminate strikes that led to the deaths of medical workers, and called for a full inquiry into the 50-day conflict.

The war between Israel and Hamas killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and has caused growing instability in Gaza, where 100,000 people whose homes were destroyed or damaged remain displaced.

Another 73 died on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers,

"Attacks were characterized by heavy and unpredictable bombardments of civilian neighborhoods in a manner that failed to discriminate between legitimate targets and protected populations," said the report, which was published Tuesday.

"In numerous cases, double or multiple consecutive strikes on a single location led to multiple civilian casualties and to injuries and deaths among rescuers."

The 237-page report was based on visits during and after the war, using interviews with 68 people wounded during the fighting, autopsies on 370 people killed and the review of dozens of medical files. more

Egypt frees 45 Gazans imprisoned after trying to flee to Europe

Egyptian authorities on Wednesday evening released 45 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who had been in custody for several months after they crossed into Egypt without documents hoping to travel by sea to Europe.

Sources in the Interior Ministry of the former Hamas-run government told a Ma'an reporter in Gaza City that the freed detainees were transferred to the Gaza Strip Wednesday after spending several months in Egyptian prisons.

The majority of the detainees were arrested after they crossed into Egypt without documents but were unable to leave for Europe by sea.

About three weeks ago, another group of Gazan detainees were freed from Egyptian custody under similar circumstances.

Thousands of Gazans are thought to have escaped via tunnels to Egypt in order to flee the nearly two-month Israeli offensive that left more than 2,000 dead and 110,000 homeless in the tiny coastal enclave. more

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

In Gaza, an IT company has Google-sized aspirations

(Reuters) - His company may not rival Google or German software maker SAP yet, but Gaza-based IT entrepreneur Saady Lozon has plans to change that.

In nine years, Lozon and his partner Ahmed Abu Shaban have transformed their firm, Unit One, from a tiny outfit in a single room in the blockaded Gaza Strip into a successful business with clients in Europe, the United States and the Arab world.

They can't leave Gaza easily, but they can develop applications for Web and mobile devices online and provide international clients with data-management services, competing with firms in India and elsewhere.

"We have managed to knock a hole in the wall of the blockade," Lozon, 33, said of the company, which will soon expand to more than 60 employees from 13, the majority women. "We deliver in time, just as the client wishes."

Lozon and Abu Shaban came up with the idea after graduating with degrees in computer science. Lozon worked briefly as an IT contractor for the United Nations and quickly realized he would rather run a company of his own.

They won their first client after making a pitch via Skype and offering a free trial. They borrowed money from friends to buy computers and slowly expanded. The firm now occupies two apartments on the 5th floor of a building in a smart district of Gaza overlooking the Mediterranean. more

Israeli forces shoot, injure Gaza fisherman

Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian fisherman in Gaza on Wednesday, the head of a local union said.

Nizar Ayyash told Ma'an that Atef Muhammad Baker, 19, was shot in the foot after Israeli naval boats opened fire at fishing boats off Gaza's northern coast.

The fishermen were within the Israeli-imposed fishing zone at the time of the incident, Ayyash added.

Baker was taken to hospital for treatment.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said several vessels deviated from the designated fishing zone and Israeli forces opened fire after they failed to respond to warning shots. more

Eighteen Palestinians kidnapped in Nablus and Hebron by Occupation soldiers

Israeli soldiers invaded, on Wednesday at dawn, several Palestinian communities in the northern West Bank district of Nablus, and the southern West Bank district of Hebron, and kidnapped 18 Palestinians. Many residents injured near Jenin.

The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) has reported that dozens of military vehicles invaded the Balata and ‘Askar Al-Jadeed refugee camps, in Nablus, and kidnapped twelve Palestinians.

WAFA said the soldiers ransacked dozens of homes in the two refugee camps while searching them, interrogated families, and detonated the main door of one of the raided homes, belonging to former political prisoner, Bashir Hashash.

It added that some of the invaded homes belong to Palestinian security and police officers.

The kidnapped in Balata have been identified as Ayman Kharma, Mohammad Tirawi, Mohammad Saqer, Shaher an-Najma, Mahmoud Abu ‘Ayyash, Mohammad Ali Hashash, and ‘Ammar Mit’eb, Abdul-SalamAbu Rezeq. In ‘Askar, the soldiers kidnapped Kamal Abu Seryya, Hasan al-Ashqar, Sameh Abu Keshek, and Mojahed Mashayekh.

In addition, soldiers invaded Doura and Beit Ummar town, and the al-‘Arroub refugee camp, in Hebron, and kidnapped six Palestinians after breaking into their homes and violently searching them. more

Palestinian stabs passengers on Tel Aviv bus

A Palestinian wounded at least five passengers in a stabbing rampage on a Tel Aviv bus on Wednesday, before being shot by a passing prison officer, Israeli police said.

The attacker struck in the morning rush hour in the heart of Israel's largest city, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said.

Five people were moderately to seriously wounded, while four were lightly injured, she said, citing emergency services at the scene.

Israel's Ynet news site put the number of injured at 17.

It was not immediately clear if all the casualties had been stabbed or if they included some suffering from shock. more

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

UK government tries to smear “boycott Israel” call as anti-Jewish

The Electronic Intifada - A recent British government report attempts to smear the Palestinian call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions as “anti-Jewish.”

The document was published by the Department for Communities and Local Government on 28 December. As many people in Britain were on Christmas holidays at that time, the decision to release the report on a day it would not be widely-noticed is a curious one.

The report includes a list of supposed “government action on addressing anti-Semitism.”

However, closer examination reveals that the report conflates anti-Semitism with criticism of the State of Israel. It also misrepresents a 2004 call made by various Palestinian organizations for an academic boycott of Israel.

In one section, the report uses the following wording:
Calls to boycott contact with academics working in Israel are an assault on academic freedom and intellectual exchange. We recommend that pro-democracy lecturers in the new University and College Lecturers Union are given every support to combat such selective boycotts that are anti-Jewish in practice. We would urge the new union’s executive and leadership to oppose the boycott.
The genuine Palestinian statement on academic boycott, however, makes it clear that individual Israeli academics are not the target of the boycott call. Rather, the boycott targets Israeli academic institutions. Guidelines issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), state:
Anchored in precepts of international law and universal human rights, the BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] movement, including PACBI, rejects on principle boycotts of individuals based on their identity (such as citizenship, race, gender, or religion) or opinion. If, however, an individual is representing the State of Israel or a complicit Israeli institution (such as a dean, rector, or president), or is commissioned/recruited to participate in Israel’s efforts to “rebrand” itself, then her/his activities are subject to the institutional boycott the BDS movement is calling for.
It is also worth noting that many BDS advocates signed a 2012 letter against all forms of racism and bigotry. That letter opposes “the cynical and baseless use of the term anti-Semitism as a tool for stifling criticism of Israel or opposition to Zionism, as this assumes simply because someone is Jewish, they support Zionism or the the colonial and apartheid policies of the State of Israel, a false generalization.”

Smearing solidarity

Other problematic aspects of the government report include the portrayal of sympathy and solidarity with Palestinian victims of the Israeli war machine by local authorities in Britain as somehow equating to anti-Semitism, as seen in statements such as: “This year we also saw councils misjudging their remits, with Leicester City Council, banning Israeli-manufactured products, and Tower Hamlets flying the Palestinian flag.”

In portraying Palestine solidarity as anti-Semitic, the report hews to the line held by the State of Israel, which attempts to claim a representative role in respect of the global Jewish population. In reality, of course, many Jews around the world either have little interest in or reject Israel’s acts.

Claiming that actions such as the flying of the Palestinian flag by the London borough of Tower Hamlets and by other councils in Britain are associated with anti-Semitism obscures and cheapens the existence of a genuine problem of anti-Semitism in many parts of Europe.

The Department of Communities, however, seems determined to repeat and uphold inaccurate versions of the boycott call, and to defend the actions of the State of Israel as somehow representative of all British Jews. The question, of course, is why?

The answer quickly becomes apparent when one looks at the British Government’s choice of advisors on the subject of anti-Semitism.

Prominent amongst these is the Community Security Trust (CST), a “charity” which purports to monitor anti-Semitism.

In one of a number of citations of information from the CST, the report describes it as “an organization that looks after the safety and security needs of the Jewish community.” Other researchers, though, would less worthwhile activities to this benign description. more

Palestinians in Israel declare national strike after police deaths

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Leaders of Israel's 1.7 million Palestinians declared a general strike throughout the country on Tuesday in protest at the recent deaths of two Bedouin men in confrontations with police.

Former member of parliament Taleb al-Sana, chairman of an umbrella organization of Palestinian groups in Israel, said that schools and businesses would close from the Galilee in the north to the Negev desert in the south.

"The general strike today is to send a strong message that the entire Arab community ... strongly protests the murders of two citizens of the state of Israel whose only crime is being Arab," Sana, who is himself Bedouin, told Israeli army radio.

Sami al-Jaar died of a gunshot wound last week during a police drug raid on the Negev Bedouin town of Rahat.

Police have opened an inquiry to determine if the shot was fired by officers or townspeople.

During Jaar's funeral on Sunday, Sami al-Zayadna, 47, died after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli police at mourners in the Bedouin city of Rahat.

Following Zayadna's burial on Monday, angry protesters hurled stones at the Rahat police station, police said. Tires were set alight and demonstrators smashed the front of the Hapoalim Bank and other shops.

Police statements said that five suspected stone-throwers were detained and that more arrests were expected.

Rahat residents have been on strike since Sunday. more

Israeli gunboats fire shells at Gaza fishermen, no injuries

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) – Gunboats of the Israeli navy opened fire at Gaza fishermen off the coast in northwestern Gaza City overnight Monday.

Witnesses who live in al-Sudaniyya neighborhood told Ma’an they heard four blasts off the coast.

They added that the blasts were Israeli shells fired at Gaza fishermen. more

Monday, 19 January 2015

Hamas says EU appeal to keep it on terror list 'immoral'

Hamas slammed as "immoral" Monday an EU appeal to keep it on the bloc's terror blacklist, a month after a European court ordered its removal.

"The European Union's insistence on keeping Hamas on the list of terrorist organizations is an immoral step, and reflects the EU's total bias in favor of the Israeli occupation," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP.

"It provides it (Israel) with the cover for its crimes against the Palestinian people," he added.

Foreign ministers from the 28 EU member states decided at a Monday meeting to appeal the decision taken by the General Court of the European Union on Dec. 17, the bloc's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said.

The ruling by the EU's second highest court had said that the blacklisting of Hamas in 2001 was based not on sound legal judgements but on conclusions derived from the media and the Internet.

Hamas, which has dominated the Gaza Strip since 2007, had appealed against its inclusion on the blacklist on several grounds.

Israel's closest ally the United States has urged the EU to keep up its sanctions on Hamas, saying the US position had "not changed" and Hamas is still a "designated foreign terrorist organization." more

Palestinian killed by Israeli police funeral for another man murdered by police

A Palestinian Bedouin man was killed late Sunday during the funeral for another man shot dead last week by Israeli forces in southern Israel. Sami Ibrahim Zayadna, 45, died after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli police at mourners in the Bedouin city of Rahat. Over 40 other people were injured during the clashes, including Rahat mayor Talal al-Qureinawi and Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement. Twenty-two people were treated at Soroka hospital in Beersheba, with three sustaining serious injuries. The clashes began after Israeli police entered the cemetery as mourners were burying Sami al-Jaar, 22, who was shot dead last week while standing on the patio of his home during clashes between police and local youths in the neighborhood. Israeli police entered the funeral ceremony, despite an agreement with Rahat municipality to stay clear of the area, and fired plastic bullets and tear gas at mourners as Raed Salah was delivering a eulogy. "The funeral has become a battle from one side as we were being chased and dozens were hurt though there were no clashes in the place," Salah told Ma'an. "When I uttered the first sentence of the funeral oration a tear gas canister was fired in front of us. We thought it was fired accidentally, but showers of tear gas followed. It was clear they wanted to disperse the mourners before they could bid the martyr farewell and I think the officers on the ground were receiving instructions from the helicopter which was hovering above the mourners focusing its lights on us." more

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Israeli navy vessels open fire at Palestinian fishing boats

GAZA, (PIC)-- Israeli navy vessels opened heavy machinegun fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of Gaza Strip on Sunday.

Nizar Ayyash, head of the Palestinian fishermen syndicate in Gaza, said Israeli naval boats targeted Palestinian fishermen while sailing off the shores of Gaza. No casualties were reported.

He added the Israeli navy claimed that the fishermen exceeded the allowed six-nautical-mile fishing zone in accordance with the ceasefire agreement reached with Palestinian resistance factions in Gaza under Egyptian mediation.

No immediate comment on the incident has been issued yet by the Israeli army. more

Egypt to open Rafah crossing for 3 days starting Tuesday

Egypt has decided to open the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip in both directions for three days starting Tuesday, the Embassy of Palestine in Cairo said Sunday.

The embassy said that the decision came at the request of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during his recent visit to Cairo.

The crossing has been closed almost completely -- save for a few days -- since it was closed in October after an attack on Egyptian police by militants in Sinai.

The Palestinian Ministry of Internal Affairs says over 25,000 humanitarian cases are on a waiting list to use the crossing for medical treatment and to continue their studies abroad.


Saturday, 17 January 2015

Palestinian survivors of migrant shipwrecks tell their harrowing stories

From the Electronic Intifada - The painful stories of Palestinians who survived shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea while attempting to flee Gaza and Syria for Europe can be heard on two recent BBC broadcasts.

Shukri al-Assouli was one of only less than a dozen out of an estimated five hundred migrants to be found by rescue workers four days after their ship was deliberately rammed and capsized by suspected traffickers last September.

He lost his wife and two young daughters, aged four and nine months old, in the tragedy, al-Assouli told Matthew Bannister, host of BBC World Service’s Outlook radio program (the interview can be heard here). Bannister interviewed al-Assouli in Athens, where he is seeking asylum in a third country.

Al-Assouli said that “There were many reasons that led me to leave Gaza. Things were very bad given the three Israeli wars we had in less than five years … The recent war had traumatized my wife and children.”

The young man also sought medical treatment for a shrapnel wound from Israeli fire which he suffered in 2004. He hoped to reach Germany with the help of smugglers in Egypt, to whom he and his wife each paid $2,000 in their bid to reach Europe.

The couple disembarked with their young daughters at a port near Alexandria and were transferred to a smaller boat at sea. Al-Assouli estimates that 450 to 500 people were put on a boat that probably had capacity for only 150 people.

Al-Assouli told the BBC that he believes there were more than one hundred children among the migrants, many of whom were from Syria and Gaza. more

Cold is Israel’s weapon to torture Palestinian prisoners

Exploiting the extreme cold weather in the West Bank especially at night, the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) chains Palestinian prisoners in cells without heating or blankets. The Israeli occupation authorities use the cold weather as another tool of torture in order to force prisoners make confessions.

Tales from behind the bars
The freed Palestinian prisoner, Bilal Jaber, from Ramallah confirmed Israel’s use of cold as a weapon during the Israeli interrogations of the Palestinian prisoners. Jaber said, “During the interrogations, an Israeli officer brought me into a cell. It was empty of anything and I was handcuffed to the back. The temperature in there was very cold, and he left the cell window open for the whole 24 hours to make the cell colder. This caused me a severe flue afterwards.”

Basel Mahmoud, a newly freed prisoner, from Balata refugee camp near Nablus, indicated that the cells’ coldness is incomparable. Outside the prison, as he referred, a person can find a heating device or any other source of heat to make himself warm, while in the prison there is no refuge except Allah and shrinking oneself together to feel the heat of his body at least for seconds and to stop his helpless teeth chattering.

Alaa Al-Hasan, a boy from Jerusalem, remembered how the Israeli soldiers arrested him and kept him in solitary confinement for 5 hours. He was charged with throwing a stone at a settler. He said, “It is like time stops in the cell. You never know it is day or night— you do not know what time it is; you do not hear the call for prayer; you only have a dim light in the ceiling and the sounds of chains and the knocking on the cells’ gates. It is extremely cold in there.”

“The interrogator came and told me, ‘you will stay in this cold cell until you confess.’ I told him I did nothing to punish me with this extreme cold and I asked for blankets but he refused”, he added more

Norwegians send gas heaters to Gaza during winter storm

From the Norwegian Refugee Council - Last week the residents of the Gaza Strip were hit by a cold winter storm. The strong winds, low temperatures and heavy rains caused damage and floods in different parts of the Gaza Strip. Gas heaters make a big difference for displaced families.

The storm forced dozens of families to evacuate their flooded houses. Gaza’s basic infrastructure was already in a fragile state prior to further large-scale destruction that occurred during Israel’s military offensive against the Gaza Strip in July and August 2014. The storm, which started on Tuesday, 6 January 2015, and reached its peak by Friday, claimed the lives of four Palestinians in Gaza, three of whom were children, according to media reports.

NRC has taken a leading role in coordinating the response in the most vulnerable communities in the Gaza strip following the storm, through facilitating distribution and installation of plastic sheeting to prevent water leakages, coordinating distribution of gas heaters and mattresses, blankets and warm clothes, as well as drainage of rain water in the Temporary Displacement Sites in the Khuza’a area, Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip. more