Saturday, 30 May 2015

Freedom flotilla trawler to arrive in Galicia, Spain

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) --A ship taking part in Freedom Flotilla III is set to dock in Bueu, Galicia, Spain Saturday in one of several stops before making a final voyage to the besieged Gaza Strip. Marianne will join other ships heading to Gaza in "a peaceful, nonviolent action to break the illegal and inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip," the Freedom Flotilla Coalition said.

Gaza has been under a crippling Israeli-administered military blockade since 2007.

The Scandinavian trawler Marianne will stop in Spain for the five-year commemoration of a brutal attack on the first Freedom Flotilla in 2010, when Israeli naval forces killed ten human rights activists on board.

The incident, which took place in international waters, sparked international outcry. more

Friday, 29 May 2015

Gaza power station to shut down due to fuel shortage

GAZA (Ma'an) -- The Gazan energy authority has announced that Gaza's sole power plant will stopping running on Saturday due to fuel shortages.

In a statement issued on Friday the authority blamed the Palestinian petroleum authority in Ramallah for reducing the plant's fuel share. The statement accused the General Petroleum Corporation of preventing the delivery of petrol to Gaza on unreasonable pretexts, ignoring all national and humanitarian considerations, and "deplorably blackmailing" the Gaza Strip.

The statement said that they had only been able to purchase enough fuel from local suppliers to keep the plant running for one more day. The plant was shut down for a month earlier this year after the Gazan energy authority was unable to afford the taxes demanded by the PA for importing fuel into besieged Gaza.

In December last year, Qatar had paid $10 million to the Palestinian Authority to cover the tax, effectively exempting the Gazan authorities from paying it, but by March that money dried up.

In early April, the Palestinian petroleum authority resumed fuel supplies, although relations with the Gazan energy authority have continued to deteriorate. more

Khader Adnan continues hunger strike despite health decline

Palestinian political prisoner Khader Adnan, 37, entered his 25th day on a hunger strike Friday protesting his ongoing administrative detention in Israeli prison.

Adnan is currently unable to move or stand up and is refusing medical testing, says director of the Palestine Prisoner's Center for Studies Rafat Hamduna.

In an open letter released earlier this month, Adnan wrote that the goal of his strike is to resist Israel and prevent it from tarnishing the achievement of prisoners who secured their freedom by going on hunger strikes in the past, only to be rearrested by military forces.

Adnan was detained on July 8, 2014 and sentenced to administrative detention for the 10th time in his life.

The arrest came in spite of Adnan's 66-day hunger strike in an Israeli prison in 2012 that inspired hundreds of prisoners to take on Israel's policy of holding detainees without charge.


Rafah crossing resealed after three days

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah crossing Thursday evening after it was open for three days to enable those stuck in Egypt and other countries to return to the Gaza Strip.

Director of the Gaza border and crossings Maher Abu Sabha said that a total of 1,629 Palestinians were able to return to the Gaza Strip from the Egypt between Tuesday and Thursday.

Traffic was allowed only to enter from Egypt, however exit from the strip was not permitted.

The crossing currently has no date scheduled for reopening. more

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Freedom flotilla, the Marianne, stops by France en route to Gaza

A crowd of around 100 people chanted “Long live Palestine, long live Gaza, down with Zionism,” at the Brest port in northwestern France on Wednesday as they waved to activists onboard the Marianne fishing boat heading to Gaza as part of the Freedom Flotilla III fleet.

The Marianne boat, with nine people from Sweden and Norway on board, departed from the Swedish Gothenburg port on May 10 carrying solar panels and medical equipment in an attempt to break the nine-year Israeli blockade on Gaza.

“I salute this initiative to break the unjust embargo on Gaza. Those activists are really courageous and brave to take such a step,” Sherifa, a 33-year-old doctor, from the crowd showing support, told Anadolu Agency.

Anaele Foveau, a 21-year-old student, said she came to show her support to the activists, calling other associations to take such “brave” steps.

“They came from far to defend a cause that touches every human beings… that’s just valiant,” said Abdelmounaim El Qsimi, 26, IT engineer.

The first “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” expedition in May 2010 became infamous after Israeli commandos killed eight Turkish nationals and an American of Turkish origin in a raid on the flotilla’s ships, the Mavi Marmara. Another person died in a Turkish hospital in 2014 after being in coma for almost four years.

The trawler, which has been jointly acquired by Ship to Gaza Sweden and Ship to Gaza Norway, is set to travel to the east of the Mediterranean and the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Charlie Andreasson, one of the Swedish activists onboard and a participant in the previous such expedition to Gaza in 2008 said: “This move will serve to break the illegal and inhuman siege on Gaza.”

“We want to deliver a message to the Palestinian people, we want to tell them you are not forgotten, people do care about you,” he added.

The boat is set to join other ships en route in order to reach Gaza by mid-June. ( Boats from Canadian Boat to Gaza, Greece Ship to Gaza, Freedom Flotilla Italia, Norway Ship to Gaza, South Africa Palestine Solidarity Alliance, Spain Rumbo a Gaza and Turkey’s Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH).) more

Palestinians refuse to back down on Israel FIFA vote

ZURICH (AFP) -- Palestine's football chief on Wednesday continued his refusal to back down on a threatened vote to suspend Israel from football's governing body after talks with increasingly desperate FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

"Nothing has changed, the vote is still on the agenda," Palestinian Football Association president Jibril Rajoub told AFP after the meeting with Blatter and as the countdown to Friday's vote gathered pace.

"The meeting lasted about one hour, there were no results," Rajoub said.

Palestine, which has been a FIFA member since 1998, wants the governing body to suspend Israel over its restrictions on the movement of Palestinian players, and opposes the participation in the Israeli championships of five clubs located in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, illegal under international law.

The vote is scheduled for Friday and needs a simple majority of over 50% of the 209 members to succeed.

Blatter has been lobbying furiously to try to avoid the vote, travelling to the Middle East last week to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and president Mahmoud Abbas.

Blatter strongly opposes the vote saying it brings politics into football and that Israel has not breached FIFA's statutes.

Israel Football Association President Ofer Eini was not in Wednesday's meeting and his delegation did not say whether contacts with Blatter or Rajoub were planned.

Arab delegations at a Confederation of African Football meeting walked out when Eini addressed the confederation in a Zurich hotel.

Rajoub said he opposed the protest and the Arab delegations should have stayed. more

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Egyptian navy shoots, injures Gaza fisherman

Egyptian naval forces late Monday opened fire on a Palestinian fishing boat off the coast of the southern Gaza Strip, injuring a fisherman from Rafah.

Palestinian sources identified the fisherman as Muhammad al-Bardawil.

The shooting came after two other Gazan fishermen were shot and injured by Israeli forces earlier in the day for allegedly leaving the designated fishing zone.

Last week, a Gazan fishing boat was damaged when Egyptian gunboats fired on it, although no injuries were reported.

Egypt upholds an Israeli military blockade on Gaza, keeping borders largely closed and limiting imports, exports, and the freedom of movement of its residents. more

Monday, 25 May 2015

Leave your house between 6 pm and 11 am ‘and we will break your legs’

On the 21st of May, a 16-year old Palestinian, Baraa Kalaid Madhun, was banned from his own home in Al Khalil (Hebron). Armed Israeli soldiers came to his house at 8 pm and told him to step outside. Allegedly stones had been thrown at the military base, which is adjacent to Baraa’s home, and the soldiers were accusing him of this incident.

For four hours the Israeli forces searched the house, whilst Baraa was held at gunpoint outside. They then told him that for the next 30 days, he was not allowed to be in his house between 6 in the evening and 11 in the morning. The logic behind this arrangement is based on the assumption that if during these 30 days no stones were thrown, then Baraa would be found guilty of the initial incident. The soldiers threatened to break his legs if he did not acknowledge these restrictions. Since then, armed Israeli soldiers have been searching his house each night, to see if he is there.

This latest incident is one of many. The family is constantly being harassed by the Israeli occupation forces. Baraa himself has already been arrested six times. During those previous arrests, the soldiers have been very violent, once even fracturing his shoulder. more

PalFest opens in Ramallah and Gaza

From MEMO - The Palestine Festival of Literature, popularly known as PalFest, opened on May 23rd simultaneously in Ramallah and Gaza. A large crowd packed Ramallah's Ottoman Court to hear a range of readings by both local and international writers and artists.

Literature has a strong and proud history in the Arab world, and specifically in Palestine literary figures such Ghassan Kanafani, Edward Said and Mahmoud Darwish are still revered today long after their deaths. The tradition of weaving art and politics remains intrinsic in the work of many amongst the new generation of Palestinian writers.

In contrast to some other recent cultural festivals in Palestine, PalFest seems again to be remaining true to its roots. Events are held inclusively in cities across historic Palestine and it continues to include many Palestinian and Arab writers alongside international figures. Venues are selected that can be near capacity whilst appreciating that single events will not draw thousands of people.

Alongside the busy program of events, participants are taken on tours around Palestine to help deepen their understanding of Palestinian realities and struggles where they hear first hand from local people. The writers and artists are also encouraged to use their international profiles to publish internationally about their experiences in Palestine once the festival has drawn to a close. Many participants have written passionately and articulately about Palestine in previous years and also subsequently endorsed the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. more

2 Gaza fishermen shot, injured by Israeli navy

Two Palestinian fishermen were shot and injured by Israeli navy forces off the coast of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip on Monday, a local union said.

Nizar Ayyash, speaker of the fishermen's union in Gaza, told Ma'an that Muhammad Ziad Bakr, 26, was taken to hospital for treatment after he was shot by Israeli forces.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said that a fishing vessel deviated from the designated fishing zone and after warning shots were fired, forces fired at the lower extremities of a fisherman.

A direct hit was confirmed, she added. more

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Egypt to open Rafah crossing into Gaza for 2 days

Egyptian authorities will open the Rafah border crossing for two days on Tuesday and Wednesday allowing passengers to travel from Egypt into Gaza, although not the other way around, Egyptian security sources told Ma'an.

Palestinian officials have reportedly been notified so as to make the necessary arrangements.

Rafah crossing has been the principal connection between Gaza's 1.8 million residents and the outside world since the imposition of an Israeli blockade on the coastal enclave since 2007. However, for the last two years, the Egyptian authorities have largely kept the crossing closed, due in large to Egyptian allegations that Hamas is supporting an Islamist insurgency pitched against the Egyptian government in the northern Sinai. more

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Israeli forces continue near daily fire on Gaza fishermen, farmers

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinians fishing boats while forces targeted farmers in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday.

Witnesses told Ma'an that the navel forces opened fire the fishing boats off the coast of Al-Nuseirat and Al-Zawayda refugee camps located in the central Gaza Strip.

An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma'an that several vessels deviated from the designated fishing zone Saturday morning, and retreated to shore after Israeli naval forces fired warning shots into the air, adding that no injuries were reported.

The shooting comes days after a fishing boat was damaged by Israeli fire earlier this week, while Israeli forces arrested two Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Beit Lahiya on May 10.

Separately on Saturday, Israeli forces reportedly opened fire at Palestinian farmers in eastern Khan Younis. more

Israeli forces suppress Bilin weekly march

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Dozens suffered excessive tear gas inhalation on Friday afternoon as Israeli forces dispersed the Bilin weekly march in western Ramallah using tear gas and rubber bullets, locals said.

Israeli forces also reportedly targeted ambulances and farmland with tear gas canisters, and caused a fire to break out in land planted with olive trees belonging to locals Mohammad Mustafa Abu Rahma and Ashraf al-Khatib. Palestinians as well as both Israeli and international activists participated in the march.

Israeli forces regularly use violent force to disperse the Bilin weekly march.

Last week saw dozens more protesters suffer excessive tear gas inhalation while taking part in a march to mark the 67th Nakba Day. more

Friday, 22 May 2015

Which countries are failing to deliver Gaza aid?

JERUSALEM (IRIN) -- Gulf Arab states and Turkey have spectacularly failed to fulfill their pledges to Gaza, contributing to a two-thirds shortfall in promised assistance to the beleaguered enclave, a new report reveals.

Qatar has delivered just 10 percent of the $1 billion it promised, while Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Kuwait between them have handed over just over $50 million of the $900 million they pledged, according to a World Bank report seen by IRIN ahead of its release.

Last summer's war between Israel, Hamas and other Islamist militants killed more than 2,000 Palestinians – mostly civilians – and left more than 100,000 homeless by the time of an August ceasefire.

Despite concerns about political instability and the possibility of renewed conflict, the international community came out in force at an October conference in Cairo, promising $3.5 billion to help Gaza rebuild.

The release of the World Bank’s numbers comes a month after UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, said that not a single one of the more than 5,000 completely destroyed homes in Gaza had been rebuilt.

Big donors come up short

Although $5.4 billion was widely vaunted as the takeaway figure from the Cairo conference, only $3.5 billion of it was actually allocated to Gaza.

As of late April, donors had given only 27.5 percent of the promised $3.5 billion, or $967 million.

However, only 35 percent of the aid pledged - or $1.2 billion - was actually fresh, with the majority coming from reallocated donations and emergency funding delivered as the bombs were still falling. Of this new aid, just 13.5 percent - or $165 million - has come through.

Qatar pledged $1 billion for Gaza and has delivered 10 percent; Saudi Arabia has given only 10 percent of its promised $500 million. Turkey and Kuwait both pledged $200 million: the former has produced only $520,000, and the latter none.

Other top pledges included the United Arab Emirates’ $200 million, which the World Bank said no data was available for, the United States' $277 million pledge, which is 84 percent delivered, and the European Union's $348 million, with a 40 percent delivery rate.

Gulf states have become increasingly important donors in recent years, providing hundreds of millions of dollars to emergencies across the globe. Last year, Saudi Arabia pledged $500 million to Iraq, while it recently announced it would fill the entirety of a $274 million appeal for Yemen.

Yet they have also been known to work outside the traditional humanitarian system, while there have been complaints of late payments (although Kuwait has been among the fastest states to turn pledges for Syria into cheques in the UN's name).

IRIN asked Saudi Arabian, Qatari and Kuwaiti representatives for comment, but had not received responses by the time of publication. more

University of Helsinki cancels G4S contract over support for Israeli prisons

The University of Helsinki in Finland has canceled its security contract with G4S over its role in Israel’s prison system.

Palestinian organizations launched a boycott and divestment campaign against G4S in 2012 because the British firm provides security equipment and services to Israeli prisons where thousands of Palestinians are detained.

Detention without trial and use of torture, including of children, are widespread in Israel’s prison system.

The decision by the University of Helsinki follows a campaign that was backed by unions representing its academics and students.

In April 2014, a petition was handed to the university’s administration, urging it to drop G4S.

Shortly afterwards, the university director’s Jukka Kola tweeted that the contract with G4S would be examined.

As a result of the cancellation, security services at the university will now be provided by a Finnish company called Turvatiimi.

“We welcome this decision by the university. We’re delighted that so many parts of the University of Helsinki community joined us in opposing the role of G4S in Israel’s human rights abuses,” said Teivo Teivainen, one of the academics involved in launching the campaign. more

World Bank: Gaza facing 'dangerous fiscal crisis'

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- The Gaza Strip has the world's highest unemployment and Palestinians, Israelis and donors must take action to avoid a "dangerous fiscal crisis," the World Bank said Friday.

The report, prepared ahead of the bi-annual meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) which coordinates international donor support for the Palestinians, comes nearly a year after the 50-day conflict between Gaza militants and Israel, in which around 2,200 Palestinians were killed.

According to the World Bank, the virtual disappearance of Gaza's exports can be explained by no other variable than "war and the blockade."

"The impact of the blockade imposed in 2007 was particularly devastating, with GDP losses caused by the blockade estimated at above 50 percent and large welfare losses," the report said of the blockade imposed by neighbors Israel and Egypt.

The World Bank urged the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the donor community to take "actions" and carry out "reforms" in order "to reverse the recent and worrisome slowdown in economic growth" and "avoid a dangerous fiscal crisis."

The report said unemployment in Gaza increased in 2014 "to reach 44 percent -- probably the highest in the world," with the poverty rate in the Palestinian territory reaching 39 percent, despite the fact that nearly four of every five Gazans receive "some aid." more

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Palestinian boy, 10, critically injured by rubber bullet in Jerusalem

A Palestinian child was critically injured after Israeli forces shot him with a rubber-coated steel bullet near the Shufat refugee camp on Thursday, witnesses said.

Yahiya Sami al-Amudi, 10, was walking near a checkpoint by the East Jerusalem refugee camp when he was shot by the bullet.

He was taken to the Hadassa hospital in Ein Karem with a fractured skull, jaw, and left ear and had surgery to remove his left eye.

Medics said he is in a critical condition.

A spokesman for Fatah in the camp, Thaer Fasfous, condemned the targeting of children with tear gas, stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets. more

Bomb explodes near Bank of Palestine in northern Gaza Strip

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) – An explosive device went off after midnight Wednesday in front of a Bank of Palestine branch in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza strip.

Neighbors told Ma'an they heard a blast at 1:30 a.m. before police vehicles arrived. No casualties have been reported, and the incident has not been claimed.

Local media reported that Gaza residents had been protesting earlier in the day in front of the Bank against the bank's alleged closure of bank accounts.

On Tuesday, dozens from needy families and unemployed men demonstrated in front of the Bank of Palestine in the center of Gaza City, south of Beit Lahiya. The demonstration was in protest against a decision by the bank to refuse money transfers to charitable societies in the Gaza Strip. Similar demonstrations took place also a week earlier. more

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Will Israelis filmed killing Palestinian teens on Nakba Day get away with murder?

On 15 May 2014, an Israeli Border Police officer took aim at Nadim Nuwara and pulled the trigger of his M16 rifle.

From The Electronic Intifada - The live bullet struck Nuwara, 17, in the chest and exited through his back, killing him at the scene. CCTV cameras captured the shooting, allowing for detailed forensic video, sound and spatial analysis to be used to identify Nuwara’s killer. Despite seemingly clear evidence, systemic impunity for Israeli military violence continues to be an obstacle to justice for Palestinian families living under prolonged military occupation like the Nuwaras.

Nuwara’s death appears to be the direct consequence of a de facto policy pursued by the Israeli military that permits the use of live ammunition, even against children, with almost complete impunity. The families of those killed are left to live with this injustice.

In December 2014, the news website NRG published a recording of Brigadier General Tamir Yadai telling residents of Halamish, a Jewish-only settlement in the occupied West Bank, that Israeli soldiers adopted a “tougher approach” of using live ammunition against Palestinian protesters.

“In places where we used to fire tear gas or rubber [coated metal bullets], we now fire Ruger bullets and sometimes live bullets,” Yadai said. “We’re at around 25 people hit here in the last three weeks. That’s a relatively high figure on any scale.” more

'Jim Crow' segregated bus system made official by Israel

Israeli officials announced that beginning on Wednesday, the segregation that has been commonplace on buses traveling between the West Bank and what is now Israel has been made completely official, and no Palestinians will be allowed to travel on buses with Jewish Israelis.

This discrimination based on ethnicity is a violation of international human rights conventions, but Israel justifies its racial and ethnic profiling based on 'security' concerns.

This new restriction will apply to Palestinians from the West Bank who have work permits inside Israel -- permits which are increasingly difficult for Palestinian workers to obtain from the Israeli military authorities who control all aspects of life in the West Bank.

An unnamed official told reports with Agence France Presse that the segregated bus system would be put in place as a three month pilot project, and the Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told the Israeli Army Radio that he had agreed to the system in order to have "better control of the Palestinians" who enter and leave Israel for work each day.

The Palestinian workers will ride on the same buses as Jewish Israelis while inside Israel, but once they reach the Israeli-constructed Annexation Wall, they will have to exit those buses and board Palestinian-only buses in a system that critics say is reflective of the American South in the post-Civil War period known as the Jim Crow era, during which segregation and discrimination against non-white members of the population was legal. more

Israeli forces kill Palestinian in Jerusalem after alleged car attack

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) – Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man in the Al-Tur neighborhood on the Mount of Olives east of the Old City of Jerusalem claiming he attempted to run over border guard police officers with his vehicle.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Ma'an the man tried to run over two police officers with his car.

Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli officers then opened fire at a young man in a grey Land Cruiser at the main crossroads of Al-Tur, critically injuring him.

The Israeli forces sealed the area, preventing locals from accessing the injured young man to give him first aid. The young man succumbed to his wounds shortly after he was shot. more

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Hamas operative dies in Gaza tunnel collapse

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The military wing of Hamas, al-Qassam Brigades, said Monday evening that a fighter affiliated to the group had been killed in a tunnel collapse in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip.

Al-Qassam Brigades identified the fighter as 25-year-old Mahmoud Adel Ghaban from Beit Lahiya.

A number of fighters in Gaza have been killed by accidents during military training exercises in recent years, and the tunnel networks, which are largely used for smuggling in the coastal enclave's south and military purposes in the north, are notoriously dangerous. more

Monday, 18 May 2015

Israeli navy forces fire at Gaza fishermen

Israeli navy forces on Monday opened fire at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of northern Gaza, Palestinian security officials said.

One fishing boat was damaged in the incident, with no injuries reported.

The fishermen were forced to leave the sea following the shooting. more

Clashes as Israel marks 1967 East Jerusalem capture

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli nationalists and police clashed with Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday as crowds of Jewish hardliners marched across the city to mark the 48th anniversary of its capture.

Known as Jerusalem Day, the anniversary marks the seizure in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexation of East Jerusalem in a move never recognized by the international community.

Police said two officers were wounded by Palestinian stone-throwers and at least five Palestinians were arrested near the walled Old City's Damascus Gate. A Palestinian prisoner's society identified Amir al-Bashiti, Amir al-Karaki, Sharif al-Rajabi, Ubada Najib and Muhammad Abu Sneina as those arrested. The demonstrators were dispersed by baton-wielding police, some on horseback.

A police statement said that in one incident "several dozen Muslims scuffled with a group of Jews".

The Palestinian Red Crescent told Ma'an that 29 Palestinians were injured and received medical attention, with seven taken to hospital. Two of those hospitalized were hit with rubber-coated bullets in the eye and one was attacked with rifle butts.

Witnesses also saw journalists shoved by police.

Police would not say how many jubilant Zionists descended on the Old City's Muslim Quarter on their way to pray at the Western Wall Jewish holy site, only that "large crowds" were expected.

"They are coming here with the support of an extremist government that paid for their buses," a Palestinian woman, Muna Barbar, told AFP outside Damascus Gate. Palestinian residents of the Old City were forced to closed their stories and homes in preparation for the march, as the streets were crowded with right-wing Israelis performing flag dances and chanting in the streets.

"This rally marks a new occupation of Jerusalem every year. It is a painful and tough day for us with Israeli flags waved across the city which is turned into a military barracks and we the indigenous residents feel like aliens," Abu Rami, who lives in the Old City, told Ma'an.

Israeli leaders have repeatedly vowed that the city will never again be split, calling it their "eternal, indivisible" capital.

"Jerusalem has always been the capital of the Jewish people alone and not of any other people," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at an official Jerusalem Day ceremony.

"A divided Jerusalem is a past memory: the future belongs to a complete Jerusalem which will not be divided again." more

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Freedom Theatre UK tour kicks off despite right-wing media attacks

A UK tour by Palestine’s Freedom Theatre started successfully in Manchester last night, despite scurrilous attacks from right-wing British newspapers.

According to a spokesperson for the tour’s support group in Manchester, around 600 tickets had been sold for the two nights The Siege, a production by the Jenin-based drama group, is running there.

And although the Manchester venue allowed Zionist Federation members to hand out leaflets after the play, no attempts were made to disrupt it.

Further performances are scheduled for Colchester, London, Leeds, Hastings, Frome, Birmingham, Nottingham, Halesworth and Glasgow.

The Siege is based on interviews with Palestinians who took refuge in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem during Israel’s spring 2002 invasion, and who were besieged there for six weeks.

The Daily Mail, a right-wing paper with a long history of both anti-Semitic and anti-Palestinian slurs, launched an attack on the tour under the headline: “UK taxpayers fund ‘pro-terrorist’ play: £15,000 of public money given to show based on the words of Hamas killers.”

The article calls the play “unashamedly one-sided” and quotes unsubstantiated claims by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, a standard voice in attempts to silence Palestinian narratives. more

Israeli forces chase 5-year-old with 'skunk water'

QALQILIYA (Ma'an) -- Amateur photographer Ahmad Nazzal captured Israeli forces spraying 'skunk water' at a Palestinian child during the Kafr Qaddum weekly march in the occupied West Bank on Friday.

Five-year-old Muhammad Riyad appears standing in front of Israeli forces wearing a Palestinian Keffiyeh before the forces begin chasing him with skunk water, the boy eventually falling to the ground.

The foul-smelling liquid has been used by the Israeli military as a form of non-lethal crowd control since at least 2008 and can leave individuals and homes smelling like feces and garbage for weeks.

Skunk water was developed by Israeli company Odortec Ltd. in conjunction with the Israel policeand is generally sprayed from specially designed trucks up to a range of 30-40 meters, according to Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem.

Israeli army spokesperson has reported that skunk contains "organic material and has been approved for use by the Israeli Ministry of the Environment and the Chief IDF Medical Officer," although the exact contents of the rancid liquid have been contested, B'Tselem says.

The rights group documented regular use of skunk water by Israeli forces, and has accused the forces of using the substance for collective punishment, citing instances of Israeli security forces driving skunk trucks down the streets of villages known for active demonstrations and spraying the substance into residents' homes. more

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Soldiers open fire on farmers and fishers in Gaza

Israeli soldiers opened fire, on Saturday morning, on Palestinian farmers in their own lands, east of the al-Maghazi refugee camp, in central Gaza, while navy ships opened fire on fishing boats in southern Gaza.

Media sources said several soldiers, and armored military vehicles, advanced close to the border fence, and fired rounds of live ammunition on the farmers, and on a number of Palestinian shepherds.

The attack did not lead to casualties, but the residents had to leave the area fearing addition Israeli fire, and escalation.

In addition, Israeli navy ships fired dozens of live rounds targeting a number of Palestinian fishing boats in Gaza waters, close to the Khan Younis shore, in the southern part of the coastal region. more

Friday, 15 May 2015

3 Palestinians in Gaza shot, injured in Nakba Day protest

Three Palestinians were injured by live fire during a Nakba Day demonstration in the Gaza Strip on Friday, witnesses said. Locals told Ma'an that Israeli soldiers opened fire on peaceful demonstrators east of Gaza City, hitting three men in the legs. Dozens of Palestinians were taking part in the march to commemorate the 67th anniversary of the mass displacment of Palestinians during Israel's creation. more

Gaza officials: 70 hurt as Israel ordnance explodes

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Dozens of Palestinians were injured in a large explosion in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday, witnesses and medics said.

Medical sources said at least 70 Palestinians were injured. Fifteen of those were taken to al-Shifa hospital for treatment as a result of the explosion.

The Palestinian ministry of interior said the explosion happened during the dismantling of an unexploded F16 rocket left by the Israeli army.

Ambulances rushed toward the scene of the blast in the al-Atatra neighborhood of Gaza City, with black smoke plumes visible from a distance.


Thursday, 14 May 2015

Israeli forces shoot 3 children, detain 6 near Ramallah

Israeli forces injured three Palestinian children with live fire during severe clashes that erupted between soldiers and school students in the Jabal al-Tawil neighborhood of al-Bireh in the occupied West Bank Thursday, witnesses said.

The injured children were taken to a hospital for treatment, while Israeli forces detained six Palestinian children, all under 10 years of age, and took them to the nearby Psagot settlement, locals told Ma'an.

Israeli forces had reportedly set up an ambush for the students prior to the clashes, locals added.

An Israeli army spokeswoman did not have immediate information but told Ma'an she was looking into the incident.

Palestinian children routinely come under live fire and excessive force from Israeli forces, according to children's rights group Defense for Children International- Palestine.

Israeli forces shot and injured at least 30 children across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem since the beginning of this year as of March 24, 2015, DCIP reported. more

Vatican to formally recognize State of Palestine

NEW YORK (Ma'an) -- The Vatican has concluded its first treaty that formally recognizes the State of Palestine, news reports said Wednesday. The agreement "aims to enhance the life and activities of the Catholic Church and its recognition at the judicial level," The Associated Press quoted deputy foreign minister Monsignor Antoine Camilleri as saying.

The text of the treaty will be signed officially "in the near future," a statement released by the Vatican said, according to the AP. more

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Khader Adnan renews hunger strike

Former Palestinian hunger striker and detainee, Khader Adnan, has been on a hunger strike for seven consecutive days in protest of his administrative detention in Israeli jails, without charge or trial, according to Adnan's family.

Shortly after he announced a hunger strike, Adnan was transferred to a solitary cell by the Israeli prison administration as a punitive measure, his family told WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency.

Adnan is a senior Islamic Jihad official and a former prisoner and hunger striker. He was re-arrested by the Israeli authorities in July 8, 2014, two years after he was released from Israeli prisons following a 66-day hunger strike against administrative detention, where no formal charges were laid against him.

Adnan is said to be a pioneer of the lone-wolf hunger strike movement in Israeli jails, where prisoners protest their administrative detention by launching an individual, rather than mass hunger strikes.

Though he has been detained several times since 1999 on the basis of alleged activities related to Islamic Jihad, Israel has never charged him with involvement in attacks on Israelis.

Under administrative detention, Israel detains Palestinians without a direct charge and holds them in jail for indefinite, renewable periods.

Palestinian detainees have continuously resorted to open-ended hunger strikes as a way to protest their illegal administrative detention and to demand an end to this policy which violates international law. more

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Israeli general says Hamas needed for Gaza stability

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- The general responsible for Israel's border with the Gaza Strip says that continued rule by Hamas is necessary for its stability, Israeli media reported Tuesday.

The alternative would be the Israeli military and chaos in governance," top-selling Yediot Aharonot quoted Major General Sami Turgeman as telling heads of southern Israel local authorities in the Gaza border area on Monday.

The military spokesman's office told AFP that it had no transcript of Turgeman's remarks and therefore could not verify them.

The statement come in stark contrast to general rhetoric of current right wing Israeli politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has consistently gained support through vocal condemnation of the Hamas movement.

Israel launched a 50-day war on Hamas in Gaza last year, in which about 2,200 Palestinians were killed, the majority civilians, and 73 died on the Israeli side, most of which were soldiers in combat.

Rightwing politicians, including members of Netanyahu's cabinet, criticized an August 26 truce, saying that the military should have kept up its offensive until Hamas was removed from power.

Netanyahu is in the process of trying to get a center-right government confirmed by a restive parliament, and is hoping to entice hardline former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman to reverse his decision to take his Yisrael Beitenu party into opposition.

Lieberman said his departure from Netanyahu's coalition was related to a dispute over 'principles. more

Brazil cancels $2 billion contract with Israeli security firm for 2016 Olympics

Brazil’s government has excluded an Israeli “security” company from working at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro following a campaign by Palestine solidarity activists.

In October 2014, the Israeli firm International Security and Defence Systems (ISDS) announced it had won a $2.2 billion contract with the Brazilian government to coordinate security at the huge sports event. The Times of Israel described the deal as “an unprecedented achievement for Israel,” while senior figures from the company stated it had already begun work.

But on 8 April a division dealing with large events at Brazil’s justice ministry denied that ISDS had been awarded any contract.

A letter from the ministry stated: “Any contract made by Rio 2016 won’t result in compromises by the Brazilian government.” The campaign against ISDS, which was supported by some of Brazil’s labor unions, is interpreting this as an acknowledgement of its grievances.

Julio Turra, executive director of CUT, the largest workers’ union in Brazil, says in a press release: “We are glad that the government distances itself from ISDS. It would be illegal and shameful to hire a company that develops its technologies in complicity with Israeli crimes and that accumulates complaints about its participation in Central American dictatorships.”

This boycott success comes on the heels of another recent and very significant win in Brazil for activists urging boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. At the end of 2014, in response to a separate campaign, the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul canceled a contract with the Israeli weapons company Elbit Systems to develop a major aerospace research center. more

Freedom Flotilla 3: Marianne heads for Gaza!

Marianne of Gothenburg left her home port at 7 pm on the 10 of May. The trawler, which has been acquired by Ship to Gaza Sweden and Ship to Gaza Norway jointly, departs for a voyage of almost 5,000 nautical miles to eastern Mediterranean and the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Marianne will join other ships and together they will form the “Freedom Flotilla III” in order to perform a peaceful, nonviolent action to break the illegal and inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip.

In passing Marianne will call at European ports for manifestations against the blockade. The First three ports will be Helsingborg, Malmö and Copenhagen. The subsequent ports will be announced in press releases.

Marianne is not a cargo-ship, but she will bring a limited cargo of, among other things, solar cell panels and medical equipment.

The solar cell panels are a gift from ETC-El. In the blockaded Gaza Strip, where the infrastructure has been demolished, solar cells will thus provide an opportunity to independent local production of clean energy. The sun can not be blockaded.

In addition to a crew of five people, Marianne will have up to eight delegates as passengers in each section of the route. The names of these individuals will be announced as time progress. In the first section are among others:

Maria Svensson, pro. tem. spokesperson, Feministiskt initiativ
Mikael M Karlsson, Chairperson, Ship to Gaza Sweden
Henry Ascher, professor of Public Health, paediatrician
Lennart Berggren, filmmaker
Dror Feiler, musician, spokesperson of Ship to Gaza

Hamas civil servants go on strike in Gaza

Civil servants hired by the Gaza Strip's de facto Hamas leaders went on strike across all Gazan ministries and public institutions except schools on Tuesday. The employees have not been regularly paid since the unity government came together in June last year, although even before that Hamas struggled to pay their salaries regularly.

A committee representing the unpaid civil servants issued a statement on Tuesday claiming that the strike came in response to the unity government's "recklessness" towards the employees' rights.

It accused the unity government of acting fraudulently and said ministers were "completely void of any practical steps towards the inclusion of former employees." The statement added that schools had been exempted from the strike due to students' final exams. more

Monday, 11 May 2015

Palestinian driver injured by Egyptian gunfire at Gaza crossing

A Palestinian driver was shot by gunfire from Egypt as he was driving a truck into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing on Monday, Gaza officials said.

"A 27-year-old driver who was working at the Kerem Shalom crossing was seriously wounded on Monday morning by shots which were fired from the Egyptian side of the border," health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said.

The incident took place as the driver was on his way to the nearby border city of Rafah after leaving the terminal, which is used for transporting commercial goods between Gaza and Israel and is very close to the Egyptian border.

The Hamas-run interior ministry condemned the shooting, demanding that the authorities in Egypt hold "an urgent inquiry". more

Israeli court orders demolition of 8 Palestinian buildings

An Israeli magistrates' court on Sunday ruled that eight buildings in a northern Jerusalem neighborhood must be evacuated and demolished, arguing that the properties are not owned by the Palestinian residents.

Residents in the Semiramis neighborhood of East Jerusalem, located in the seam zone area near Qalandiya checkpoint, must demolish the buildings themselves by Aug. 1 after the court ruled that the properties have been owned by Jewish Israelis since 1971.

The court also imposed a fine of 49,000shekels($12,667)on the owners. The buildings consist of 23 apartments housing 107 people.

One of the residents, Akram Abu Shalbak, told Ma'an that a hearing was held Friday, but the verdict was announced Sunday.

A group of Palestinians bought a tract of land in 2002 in the neighborhood, with all parties registering the property with official bodies without any obstacles, he added. more

Sunday, 10 May 2015

EU's United Left demands end to economic partnership with Israel

Due to ongoing aggression against Palestinians, the European United Left group of MEPs demanded, on Friday, the abolition of partnership deals with Israel.

The demand was made in the wake of the acknowledgement by dozens of Israeli soldiers who took part in the last summer’s Israeli offensive on Gaza that they targeted civilians intentionally; some claimed that they targeted Palestinians “for fun”.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the EU group, Angel Vaina, demanded that Europe’s Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini answer several questions regarding Israeli human rights abuses.

In addition to witness statements regarding the actions of Israeli soldiers, he noted that there is a United Nations report which proves that Israel killed 44 civilians and wounded 227 others in UN shelters, during the 2014 Israeli war against Palestinian civilians.

Vaina said that the Geneva Conventions ban aggression against the offices of humanitarian organisations. “As such, we demand an end to economic preferences and dealing with this aggressive state.” more

Israeli forces injure 3 farmers, arrest 2 fishermen in northern Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli troops shot and injured three Palestinian farmers in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday afternoon and arrested two fishermen off Beit Lahiya's coast, locals told Ma'an.

The three injured men, from the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, were first evacuated by ambulance to Shifa hospital in Gaza City and later transferred to the European Hospital in Khan Younis.

Medics said one of the three sustained serious wounds.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said she was aware of three Palestinian "suspects" approaching the border.

However, she said that Israeli forces had fired warning shots into the air, and that the army was not aware of any injuries.

Separately, Israeli navy forces arrested two Palestinian fishermen off the coast in Beit Lahiya.

A human rights group told Ma'an that Israeli gunboats fired warning gunshots at a fishing boat before arresting two fishermen on board. more

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Israeli forces shoot, critically injure Palestinian teen in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A 17-year-old Palestinian is in critical condition after he was shot in the head by Israeli forces in northern Beit Lahiya in the Gaza Strip on Friday, amid reports that Israeli forces also shot and injured a Palestinian fisherman.

Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the Ministry of Health in Gaza, said the 17-year-old boy had been shot in the head and had been moved for treatment.

An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed the shooting.

She said that a group of Palestinians had been seen "approaching the security fence" and that Israeli forces arrived shortly afterwards. She alleged that the Israeli soldiers called them to halt, and fired warning shots when they "refused to comply." Israeli forces then fired at their "lower extremities" and hit the "main instigator" of the group, she said. Asked what he had been instigating, she said the group had been "attempting to breach the security fence." more

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Israel approves 900 East Jerusalem settler homes

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel has approved construction of 900 settler homes in annexed East Jerusalem, a watchdog said Thursday shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formed a new right-wing religious coalition.

The new homes will be built in the east Jerusalem settlement neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo following a decision late Wednesday by the city's district planning committee, Peace Now spokeswoman Hagit Ofran told AFP.

"They've approved the request, and now they're allowed to build," she said.

In March 2010, the interior ministry announced a plan to build 1,600 settler homes in Ramat Shlomo, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem. The announcement came as US Vice President Joe Biden was visiting Israel, provoking fierce American opposition and souring relations with Washington for months. In November 2013, the plan passed a further stage of approval but construction was held up because the planning committee said new roads must be built first, Peace Now said.

"The plan (for 900 units) has been approved even though they don't have the roads," Ofran said.

The plan was approved as Netanyahu was in the final stages of piecing together a coalition government that will include the far-right Jewish Home, which strongly backs settlement building and opposes a Palestinian state. more

Israeli forces shoot, seriously injure Palestinian near Nablus

Israeli forces shot and seriously injured a Palestinian man in al-Fara refugee camp north of Nablus on Thursday, locals said.

Rabee Jamal Mubarak, 22, was shot in the back and abdomen, witnesses said, as Israeli forces raided the camp.

He was taken to hospital in hospital where he is said to be in a stable condition.Soldiers detained Ahmad Rashad Sawalma before leaving the camp.

In April,Muhammad Yahiya, 18, was killed by Israeli forces in Jenin, while another teenager was killed in East Jerusalem for allegedly running at Israeli police "wielding a knife." more

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

UNRWA denies Israeli allegations over alleged Palestinian attack

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) on Tuesday denied a false allegation made against it by former head of the Israeli army over an alleged incident which occurred during the 2014 summer Israeli aggression on Gaza.

According to WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency, the organization stressed that the allegation made by former head of the army – that a weapon was fired from an UNRWA school in Gaza and claimed the life of an Israeli child in a kibbutz in southern Israel – was later proven wrong.

On the record UNRWA quote via Chris Gunness:

"The head of the Israeli army during the summer war in Gaza has reportedly made the allegation that a weapon fired from an UNRWA school in Gaza killed an Israeli child in a kibbutz in southern Israel.

"This allegation was made by the Israeli Army in August 2014. However, it is false. Less than 2 hours after it was first made by the Israeli army, the Israeli army itself officially retracted the claim and issued a correction through the Twitter account of its Spokesperson.

"It is extremely disappointing that a former head of the Israeli army should repeat an allegation publicly retracted by his own spokesperson. It is unfortunate and creates a hostile environment for humanitarian agencies. Officials should ensure accuracy of their public statements." more

2 children injured by Israeli ordnance explosion in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Two Palestinian children were injured as an unexploded Israeli ordnance blew up in eastern Gaza City on Wednesday. Medical sources said that two children were injured when ordnance left from the latest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip went off in the Shujaiyyeh neighborhood in eastern Gaza City.

In September, three people were killed and two injured by unexploded ordnance in the neighborhood.

Over 7,000 unexploded ordnance were left throughout the Gaza Strip following last summer's war between Israel and Palestinian militant groups, according to officials of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian territories (OCHA).

Although Gaza police explosives teams have been working across the territory to destroy the ordnance and prevent safety threats to locals, lack of proper equipment due to the seven-year Israeli siege as well as lack of resources more generally have hindered such efforts.

Even before the most frequent Israeli assault, unexploded ordnance from the 2008-9 and 2012 offensives was a major threat to Gazans. more

Moroccans celebrate cancellation of Peres visit

Moroccans are hailing a decision to cancel the planned visit of former Israeli President Shimon Peres as a “victory” for popular efforts.

Days of Palestine reports that, this past Friday, thirty Moroccan civil and political committees released a joint statement condemning Peres’ visit to Morocco.

In the same day, a group of human rights lawyers filed papers demanding Peres arrest for war crimes upon his arrival in the Kingdom.

The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas also asked Moroccan officials that the infamous Israeli politician be blocked from entering Morocco.

The Clinton Global Initiative for the Middle East and North Africa, which is to hold a conference in Marrakech between Tuesday and Thursday, removed Peres from the list of guests.

Responding to popular calls, Morocco suspended its diplomatic relations and closed Israel’s liaison offices in Casablanca and Tangiers when the second Palestinian Intifada started in 2000. more

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

‘The Israelis never stopped shooting': Gaza endures under Israel’s one-way ceasefire

From Mondoweiss - Walking through a field of peas in the buffer zone, 60-year-old Palestinian farmer Jaber Abu Rujeila pointed to the fence that demarcates the border with Israel and where military vehicles regularly patrol. “If the jeeps stop, run,” he warned. “They’ll shoot.”

The buffer zone is an Israeli declared no-go land that stretches several hundred meters into Gaza. Anyone who sets foot inside can be fired upon. This includes much of Gaza’s agricultural land, making simple farm labor a potentially deadly mission.

“The Israeli side calls this a ceasefire,” Abu Rujeila remarked. “Every day they shoot at me and then they talk about the ceasefire.”

Tank shells from last summer’s war on Gaza litter his land in al-Faraheen, an area in the village of Khuza’a which was besieged by Israeli forces for ten days last summer. Abu Rujeila’s kitchen and bathroom were destroyed, and today they remain in the condition they were almost a year ago.

For Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the period since last summer’s war has been a one-way ceasefire. While Palestinian armed factions have observed the ceasefire, with a handful of exceptions, Israel has violated the ceasefire on a near-daily basis. Soldiers fire at farmers in the buffer zone, gunboats shoot at fishermen, and warplanes and drones are a regular sight over Gaza’s skies. In the period of January through March of 2015, conservative estimates tallied 67 Israeli shootings and six military incursions, resulting in the death of one Palestinian and injuries to sixteen.

Yet these Israeli ceasefire violations are completely omitted by popular western media coverage, amounting to a de-facto vow of silence. In fact, the silence has become as predictable as the shootings themselves — they are another part of the maintenance of the occupation.

And this media silence has consequences. All signs point to another major military operation in Gaza, and Israeli military and political figures threaten that it will be even more catastrophic than the last. The media silence that cloaks Israeli ceasefire violations serves to portray the next round as defensive in nature — an exercise in Israel’s proclaimed “right to self-defense.”

While Israel gears up for another war, the victims of last summer’s offensive haven’t recovered. After the decimation of neighborhoods like Shujaiya, Palestinian civilians have lived in perpetual crisis. While the Israeli shells that damages or destroyed 100,000 homes have ceased falling, survival in the rubble has been a struggle. more

Lauryn Hill cancels Israel show in victory for boycott movement

NEW YORK (AFP) -- R&B star Lauryn Hill on Monday canceled a concert in Israel just a few days away, saying she had tried unsuccessfully to perform in the occupied Palestinian territories as well.

The former Fugees singer had been scheduled to perform Thursday near Tel Aviv but faced a social media campaign by activists who urged her to boycott Israel over its ongoing military occupation of Palestinian land.

Hill said that she had wanted to schedule a second show in Ramallah in the West Bank but that the logistics "proved to be a challenge."

"I've wanted very much to bring our live performance to this part of the world, but also to be a presence supporting justice and peace," she wrote on her website. "It is very important to me that my presence or message not be misconstrued, or a source of alienation to either my Israeli or my Palestinian fans," she said. Hill said she would "seek a different strategy to bring my music to ALL of my fans in the region."

Activists had pressured Hill to cancel, with a campaign that quoted "Killing Me Softly" -- a cover song she is famous for -- to describe Israeli policies. Israel has faced boycott calls by artists, academics and musicians including Roger Waters and Brian Eno, who hope that such cultural ostracization can change Israeli policies. more

Monday, 4 May 2015

Explosive device set off in Gaza City

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- An explosive device blew up near a major square in Gaza City late Sunday, security officials said.

The device exploded in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, with no injuries reported. Police arrived at the scene and are investigating the incident.

The circumstances behind the explosion are unclear.

A series of explosions have rocked Gaza over the past month.

On April 6, an explosive device was set off near the al-Radwan mosque in Sheikh Radwan. Weeks later, an explosive device blew up near the Palestinian cabinet's headquarters in western Gaza City.

On April 18, two explosions went off in Gaza Citycenter late Saturday causing no injuries. more

Israeli soldiers cast doubt on legality of Gaza military tactics

From The Guardian - Testimonies provided by more than 60 Israeli soldiers who fought in last summer’s war in Gaza have raised serious questions over whether Israel’s tactics breached its obligations under international law to distinguish and protect civilians.

The claims – collected by the human rights group Breaking the Silence – are contained in dozens of interviews with Israeli combatants, as well as with soldiers who served in command centres and attack rooms, a quarter of them officers up to the rank of major.

They include allegations that Israeli ground troops were briefed to regard everything inside Gaza as a “threat” and they should “not spare ammo”, and that tanks fired randomly or for revenge on buildings without knowing whether they were legitimate military targets or contained civilians.

In their testimonies, soldiers depict rules of engagement they characterised as permissive, “lax” or largely non-existent, including how some soldiers were instructed to treat anyone seen looking towards their positions as “scouts” to be fired on.

The group also claims that the Israeli military operated with different safety margins for bombing or using artillery and mortars near civilians and its own troops, with Israeli forces at times allowed to fire significantly closer to civilians than Israeli soldiers.

Phillipe Sands, a specialist in international humanitarian law, described the testimonies as “troubling insights into intention and method”.

“Maybe it will be said that they are partial and selective, but surely they cannot be ignored or brushed aside, coming as they do from individuals with first-hand experience: the rule of law requires proper investigation and inquiry.”

Describing the rules that meant life and death in Gaza during the 50-day war – a conflict in which 2,200 Palestinians were killed – the interviews shed light for the first time not only on what individual soldiers were told but on the doctrine informing the operation. more