Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Abbas: Palestine no longer bound by agreements with Israel

President Mahmoud Abbas told the UN General Assembly on Wednesday that the Palestinian Authority will not remain committed to agreements with Israel, referring to the Oslo Accords of 1993, while violations take place on a daily basis.

Abbas told the General Assembly that Israel's refusal to commit to past agreements and release Palestinian prisoners, and continued Jewish settlement activity in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, were destroying the possibility of a Palestinian state.

"We therefore declare that we cannot continue to be bound by these agreements and that Israel must assume all of its responsibilities as an occupying power, because the status quo cannot continue and the decisions of the Palestinian Central Council last March are specific and binding."

The Central Council meeting had called for an end to security coordination with Israel as long as it continued to violate signed agreements. Despite the call, security coordination with Israel has remained unchanged. more

Mahmoud Abbas lists alleged Israeli violations before 'bombshell' UN speech

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has circulated a hard-hitting critique of alleged Israeli violations of the 20-year-old Oslo accords and subsequent agreements ahead of his speech to the UN general assembly in New York later on Wednesday.

The comprehensive matrix of claimed violations, seen by the Guardian, was compiled in July and has been shared with US and European officials, among others, and is expected to form the basis of Abbas’s speech.

Covering issues from water rights, tax collections and transfer of monies, to settlement building, house demolitions and the continued Israeli military occupation which gives Israel “exclusive control of 62% of the West Bank”, the document argues that “Israel has failed to honour the accords as it has violated many of its provisions”.

Western diplomats who have met Abbas recently report he feels exhausted and isolated, and say he will argue that he feels the Oslo agreements have been effectively gutted.

A further flavour of what Abbas might say was supplied in an article he wrote for the Huffington Post calling for multilateral international efforts to push forward the peace process outside of US stewardship.

“While the Israeli government pays lip service to the two-state solution internationally, domestically it employs policies aimed at destroying what’s left of Palestine,” he wrote.

The UN speech has been heavily trailed – including by Abbas himself, who hinted he intended to “drop a bombshell” at the general assembly. That led to speculation by some Palestinian officials that Abbas might announce he was nullifying the Oslo agreement in whole or in part. more

13-year-old shot by Israeli forces 'to undergo amputation'

The Palestinian Prisoner's Society said Wednesday that Israeli doctors had decided to amputate the leg of 13-year-old Palestinian Ahmad al-Muti after he was severely wounded by Israeli forces last week.

The child was reportedly shot by Israeli forces during a protest in Bethlehem with a "dum-dum" bullet -- a bullet that expands inside the body on impact -- in his right leg on Sept. 18 before he was detained by Israeli forces, the prisoners' society told Ma'an.

The Israeli army told the society that Al-Muti was shot and detained for throwing stones, but al-Muti's lawyer said that the 13-year-old was taking his brother to a nearby hospital when he was hit.

The child was taken by Israeli forces to Hadassah hospital in Ein Kerem for treatment, where he was held under tight Israeli security and registered as a prisoner in the Ofer jail.

When one of the society's lawyers visited Al-Muti in hospital on Monday he reported that the child was chained to his hospital bed despite his injury and was in serious condition.

On Sept. 29, an Israeli court ruled that Al-Muti would be released on bail of 7,000 shekels ($1,780). However, the Palestinian Prisoner's Society told Ma'an that the prosecutors had appealed his release and a decision would be made within 72 hours. more

Israeli army bombs 4 sites in Gaza after rocket fire

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces launched air strikes on the Gaza Strip early Wednesday after a rocket was fired from the besieged coastal enclave overnight, the Israeli army said.

The army said in a statement that Israel's war planes "targeted four terror sites" in Gaza.

Witnesses and Palestinian security sources said four training camps for Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, were hit in the strikes. They were empty at the time, and no one was injured.

Three of the camps are located in Gaza City and the fourth in the north of the coastal enclave.

The rocket fired from Gaza late Tuesday was intercepted by Israel's "Iron Dome" defense system, and caused no injuries or damage, the army said.

It was claimed by a Salafist militant group, the Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade, which said on Twitter that it had been carried out in response to the killing of 18-year-old Hadeel Hashlomon in Hebron last week.

It also cited Iman Kanjou, a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship who was arrested earlier this month at Ben Gurion Airport on suspicion of having attempted to join the Islamic State group in Syria.

The Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade is allegedly affiliated with IS.

Despite the brigade claiming responsibility, the Israeli army laid blame on Gaza's de facto leaders Hamas. more

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Detainee Noureddin A'mar facing inhumane conditions in solitary confinement

The Palestinian Detainees' Committee said a Palestinian detainee, who has been in solitary confinement since September 20, is currently held in a cell that lacks basic requirements, in addition to constant fowl smells, bugs, roaches, and humidity.

The Committee said Noureddin A'mar, 37 years of age, was forced in solitary in Ayalon Israeli prison, under direct orders from the Israeli Internal Security, and not the Prison Authority.

It also said that the cell, where the detainee is held, is infested with roaches, bugs, in addition to humidity and constant foul odors.

A'mar has also been denied the right to family visits for more than two years, and was moved a few weeks ago from solitary in Ramon Prison, to solitary in Majeddo. more

Monday, 28 September 2015

Qassam fighter killed in tunnel accident in Gaza

The Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, has reported that one of its fighters was killed, Monday, while working in one of its border tunnels.

In a press release, the al-Qassam said Majed Sakani, from Shejaeyya neighborhood, east of Gaza City, died while working in the tunnel.

On Saturday, August 29, the Al-Qassam Brigades said one of its fighters was killed in a tunnel accident, in Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

Dozens of Palestinians not affiliated with Hamas or other armed resistance groups, have been killed and injured in tunnel accidents, while working to provide food for their families in the impoverished and besieged coastal region. more

New clashes as Israeli forces raid Al-Aqsa Mosque compound

Israeli forces raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Monday and deployed heavily in the courtyard, leading to clashes with Palestinian worshipers ahead of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

Officials from the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Endowment told Ma'an that dozens of Israeli forces raided the holy site and fired stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets "haphazardly" in the area.

Sources with the Jordanian-run organisation that administers the site, the Waqf, told AFP that police stun grenades provoked four fires inside the building that were brought under control.

Around 15 snipers deployed on the roof of the southern mosque, while Israeli forces in riot gear were stationed in the main courtyards.

Witnesses said Israeli forces closed the doors of the southern mosque with chains and forcibly evacuated worshipers from the area through the Hatta Gate.

Locals also said that Israeli soldiers used hammer drills and oxy fuel wielding tools to remove several windows from the mosque.

Only the Hatta, Chain, and Council Gates were open for Palestinians to access the holy site, with worshipers performing dawn prayers outside of the compound early Monday.

Clashes broke out on Sunday after Israeli forces raided the compound.

Young masked Palestinians "threw stones and fireworks at police and border police forces", who responded with "riot dispersal means", Israeli police said of Sunday's clashes.

Calm returned to the compound later on Sunday morning and most police were withdrawn, an AFP journalist reported. Visits by Jews were stopped on Sunday and age restrictions on Muslim men entering the compound lifted for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, but a ban on under-50s was re-imposed as Sukkot started. more

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Gas deal would make Jordan donor to Israeli apartheid

Activists in Jordan have put the state “on trial” for a $15 billion gas deal it is aiming to conclude with Israel.

Dozens of organizations — including trade unions and political parties — have gathered under the Jordanian Campaign to Stop the Zionist Gas Deal, a coalition that was formed in December by several popular movements that began campaigning against the proposed deal in early September last year.

The deal is being negotiated by the state-owned National Electric Power Company and a consortium led by US giant Noble Energy. If implemented, it would involve the extraction of more than 300 million cubic meters of natural gas from the Israeli-controlled Leviathan gas field in the Mediterranean Sea.

On 5 September, members of the public took the Jordanian government and the state-owned company to task at a popular tribunal.

Among the charges considered were that the deal would involve funding Israeli terrorism, threaten Jordan’s national security and aid war crimes against Palestinians.

After concluding that the proposed deal would violate Jordanian anti-terror law and the country’s penal code, the tribunal declared it null and void.

Although summons were delivered to the offices of the prime minister and the national company ahead of the recent tribunal hearing, they failed to send representatives. more

PA: Israel 'trying to kill' hunger striking Palestinian prisoners

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Authority's committee for prisoners' affairs on Sunday said that Israeli authorities have thus far refused the committee'srequestsfor seven Palestinian hunger strikers to betransferredto hospitals for treatment.

In a statement, the committee accused Israel of "trying to kill" seven hunger striking prisoners who have been on strike for 40 days, alleging that the“Israeli government is wearing down the prisoners onpurposein order to force them to end their hunger strike by depriving them of medical treatment and sending them to prison wards where criminal prisoners are being held.”

The statement pointed out that the prisoners’ committee had submitted an emergency appeal to Israel’s High Court, asking the court to order the prisoners' hospital transfers.

A spokesperson for the Israeli Prison Service told Ma'an over the phone on Sunday that the ISP could confirm the prisoners had not been transferred to hospitals, stating that the prisoners had "only been [hunger striking] for 30 days, and they are not required to be moved to a hospital until after 35 days."

However, Ma'an first reported that at least five of the hunger strikers began their strike on Aug. 18, exactly 40 days before. more

Saturday, 26 September 2015

PLO: Israel's new live fire law 'dehumanizes a whole nation'

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The PLO secretary-general said Saturday that new Israeli regulations authorizing forces to use live ammunition in occupied East Jerusalem served to "dehumanize" Palestinians.

Israel's security cabinet on Thursday broadened the rules whereby stone-throwers can be targeted with live fire, allowing Israeli forces to open fire when they determine that the life of a third party is under threat.

Arguing that the new law gifts Israeli soldiers with wide discretion for determining this "threat," PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat described the measures as "a mere pretext to justify the escalating Israeli crimes against the people of Palestine."

He said the new laws would expand the level under which Palestinians may be directly targeted by Israeli forces.

"The Israeli government continues to incite against Palestinian lives, with a culture of hate that dehumanizes a whole nation," Erekat said. Erekat said the PLO would hold Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the members of the security cabinet responsible for "the new crimes to be committed under this new regulation," adding that any violations of international law carried out under the new law would be reported to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The new conditions for use of .22 caliber bullets -- long used as a crowd control method in the occupied West Bank -- in occupied East Jerusalem came days after Netanyahu "declared war" on stone-throwers amid increasing tensions in the area. Israeli rights group B'Tselem warned last week that the approval of live fire against stone throwers in occupied East Jerusalem would "exacerbate the cycle of violence with lethal results" rather than restore order in the city. more

Friday, 25 September 2015

Israel broadens rules on use of live fire against stone-throwers

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel's security cabinet on Thursday broadened the rules under which stone-throwers can be targeted by live fire, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said.

"The security cabinet has decided to authorize police to use live ammunition against people throwing stones and Molotov cocktails when the life of a third person is threatened and no longer only when the police officer is threatened," a statement said.

Netanyahu publicly "declared war" on Sept. 16 against those who throw rocks and petrol bombs after an Israeli motorist died in a fatal car accident reportedly caused by Palestinian stone-throwing.

The use of .22 caliber bullets -- long used as a crowd control method in the occupied West Bank -- will be allowed in occupied East Jerusalem in circumstances that Israeli forces determine are life-threatening.

The security cabinet met to decide on measures to strengthen enforcement against demonstrators throwing stones and incendiary devices after police said 13 Palestinians, including nine children, were arrested overnight.

"We have decided to penalize more severely adult stone-throwers with a minimum sentence of four years in prison and also to authorize larger fines for minors and their parents," the statement said.

"These sanctions apply to all Israeli citizens and residents of Israel," it said, referring to Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem who do not have Israeli citizenship.

Netanyahu revealed the plan as he visited the site of a car accident that killed 64-year-old Alexander Levlovich, who died in what Israeli officials labelled a nationalistic stoning attack.

"This stone is one too many," the premier's office quoted him as saying. "We are declaring war on those who throw stones and bottles, and rioters." Critics of the new law question whether the sentencing will be equally implemented for both Palestinians and Israeli Jews.

Israeli rights group B'Tselem, meanwhile, warned last week that the approval of live fire against stone throwers in occupied East Jerusalem would "exacerbate the cycle of violence with lethal results" rather than restore order in the city. more

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Pharrell Williams faces BDS protests from thousands of demonstrators in South Africa

R&B superstar Pharrell Williams could face thousands of pro-Palestine protesters at a concert in Cape Town tonight (21 September). Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) South Africa – which campaigns against Israel's presence in Palestine – was given the go-ahead by Western Cape High Court for supporters to demonstrate against the singer's partnership with South African retailer Woolworths (no relation to the former British store of the same name), which it accuses of stocking agricultural produce from the disputed territories.

The court decision, which was handed down on 18 September, paves the way for 16,000 Palestine supporters to protest until 4pm local time outside the Grand West Casino. The ruling reversed efforts deemed as unconstitutional by Cape Town authorities to limit the number of demonstrators to just 150.

Earlier this year, the Happy singer was appointed style director for the retailer, who says that less than 0.1% of its food products are sourced from Israel. BDS South Africa is expecting the gathering to be "the biggest protest against an international artist in the country since apartheid".

A statement released by BDS South Africa read: "Pharrell Williams has been targeted because of his deliberate and informed decision to collaborate with Woolworths.

"Woolworths is a company that maintains unjustifiable trade relations with Apartheid Israel and is the current target of the biggest consumer boycott campaign seen in South Africa since democracy. more

Hamas accuses Egypt of flooding Gaza border

Khan Yunis (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - Hamas on Thursday accused Egypt of further besieging the Gaza Strip by flooding the border area to the south of the Palestinian enclave, which is already under an Israeli blockade.

Egypt has been carrying out digging work in the area for several weeks that Palestinians believe is intended to flood the last remaining tunnels between Gaza and the Sinai, where jihadist fighters have been battling Egyptian forces.

Palestinians fear such moves will further isolate Gaza, where more than 100,000 were left homeless in last summer's war with Israel and which is blockaded by the Jewish state.

Egyptian officials have declined to comment on the work criticised by Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, where residents have reported water seeping over the border.

"Why are they digging those trenches and those water pipes around Rafah?" Hamas's chief in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said during a speech to commemorate the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday.

"And why discard neighbourly relations and the history of Gaza, which has always defended the regional security of Egypt and Arab countries? We are telling our Egyptian brothers: Stop this project. We will do our duty against those who besiege Gaza and plot against it."

Egypt has already established a buffer zone 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) long and half a kilometre wide along its border with Gaza. more

Hebron teen laid to rest as world outrage at murder spreads

HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of 18-year-old Hadeel al-Hashlamon on Wednesday, a day after the teenager was shot dead by Israeli forces at a checkpoint in Hebron, as a key eyewitness refuted claims she had attempted to stab Israeli soldiers.

Crowds of mourners carried the teenager's body through the city for her burial, condemning her killing and vowing revenge for the shooting.

Participants raised the flags of Palestinian political factions during the funeral, calling for unity in the face of Israel's military occupation.

She was then laid to rest in the martyrs cemetery in the city. Israeli forces had transferred al-Hashlamon's body to her family late Tuesday.

The 18-year-old was shot at a checkpoint at the entrance of Hebron's central al-Shuhada street, after allegedly attempting to stab an Israeli soldier, according to the Israeli army's official account.

No Israeli soldiers were injured during the incident, and Israeli authorities presented no evidence of the alleged stabbing attempt.

A key eyewitness to the incident, Fawaz Abu Aisha, who can be seen in pictures published by Youth Against Settlements, told Ma'an that he was on his way to work at 7:40 a.m. when he heard Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint in Shuhada Street shouting loudly in Hebrew.

At first he thought they were shouting at three Palestinian children he had seen in the area, but after approaching the checkpoint he saw they were talking to Hadeel, telling her to get away from the area.

Fawaz began to explain to the teenager, who did not understand Hebrew, what the Israeli soldiers were saying, and she attempted to leave the main checkpoint area via a movable barrier at the side.

Israeli soldiers fired a warning shot at the ground and asked her to stop, before firing another warning shot. Abu Aisha asked the soldiers to let him explain to her what they were saying but they refused and told him to leave the area.

An Israeli soldier then fired a third warning shot at the teenager before aiming his weapon at her and shooting her in the left leg. One more shot was fired at her right leg and then four more into her chest and abdomen as she lay on the ground, Abu Aisha said.

Another shot was then fired at her body as she lay on the ground, he said.more

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Palestinian university student shot dead by Israeli soldier in Hebron

A Palestinian teenager has been shot dead by an Israeli soldier at a West Bank checkpoint.

The girl, believed to be 18-year-old university student Hadeek al-Hashlamon, was photographed in the dramatic moments leading up to the confrontation in the city of Hebron.

It is alleged Ms al-Hashlamon attempted to stab the soldier at around 8.30am on Tuesday, as tensions continued to simmer ahead of major Muslim and Jewish religious holidays.

"The attacker attempted to stab a soldier," an Israeli army spokeswoman told Al Jazeera, explaining the unidentified soldier – who was not injured – then opened fire.

An IDF spokesperson for the unit told the Jerusalem Post the woman had received medical care from nearby forces.

However, contradictory videos have emerged – neither of which can be independently verified – one which appears to show the student lying unattended on the ground before being dragged off camera.

Another video, from Shehab News Agency, shows three soldiers briefly checking a woman’s pulse before standing up.

Following the incident, Ms al-Hashlamon was transferred to a nearby Israeli hospital, where she died from her wounds. It has been reported she was shot a number of times, with bullets hitting her “lower extremities” as well as her chest, according to the Israeli army spokesperson.

“The young Palestinian woman who arrived this morning to the hospital's headquarters in Jerusalem, suffering from a very serious injury, died from her wounds this afternoon," the hospital said in a statement.

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) called on international authorities for an independent investigation into Ms al-Hashlamon’s death. more

HRW accuses Egypt of 'mass home demolitions' on Gaza border

CAIRO (AFP) -- Human Rights Watch on Tuesday accused Egypt's military of having "violated international law" through mass home demolitions and evictions over the past two years along its border with Gaza.

Egypt's army in October created a wide buffer zone in the border town of Rafah in the north of the Sinai Peninsula, where it says tunnels have allowed militants and weapons in from the Palestinian enclave.

"The large-scale destruction of at least 3,255 buildings in Rafah to counter the threat of smuggling tunnels was likely disproportionate and did not meet Egypt's obligations under international human rights law or the laws of war," HRW said.

Since July 2013 "the military has arbitrarily razed thousands of homes in a once-populated buffer zone on the border with the Gaza Strip, destroying entire neighborhoods and hundreds of hectares (acres) of farmland," the New York-based rights watchdog said.

Egypt has stepped up its battle against militants who have carried out ongoing attacks in the area since then army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took power from Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in July 2013.

The majority of attacks have been claimed by Sinai Province, a group that declared affiliation with the Islamic State group last year.

Militants in the Sinai have killed scores of policemen and soldiers since Morsi's overthrow, vowing revenge against a crackdown on his supporters that has killed more than 1,400 people and jailed thousands.

"Destroying homes, neighborhoods, and livelihoods is a textbook example of how to lose a counterinsurgency campaign," said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW head for the Middle East and North Africa.

The Egyptian government has failed to provide adequately for about 3,200 families after their eviction from their homes, HRW said, charging they received little warning of the evictions and inadequate compensation. more

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Palestinian killed during clashes with Israeli forces in Hebron

HEBRON (Ma'an) -- A 21-year-old Palestinian was killed during clashes with Israeli forces in the southern West Bank overnight Monday, with contradictory reports of how he died.

A local popular committee spokesman,Ratib al-Jubour,said that Israeli forces shot dead Diyaa Abdul-Halim Talahmah, 21, during an Israeli raid near the southern Hebron village of Khursa.

The young man was initially incorrectly identified as Muhannad Masharqa.

The Israeli army alleged that he died after throwing an improvised explosive device that exploded prematurely.

An Israeli army spokesperson said Israeli forces received reports of a road which had been blockaded with rocks near the village of Khursa, and that when Israeli forces arrived at the scene they heard an explosion nearby and went to investigate, finding a body.

"Initial inquiries suggest the suspect attempted to hurl an IED at an army vehicle when it detonated," the spokesperson said.

Dozens of Palestinians have been injured, and many more detained over the past week, as Israeli forces clashed with Palestinians protesting across the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem over entry restrictions at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Tuesday evening marks the start of the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur and the eve of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, which begins on Wednesday.

There have been concerns that tensions across the two territories will heighten during the religious holidays, particularly around the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.


Monday, 21 September 2015

Israeli army carries out a incursion into northern Gaza

Several Israeli military vehicles, and bulldozers, carried out on Monday morning, a limited invasion into Palestinian lands east of Jabalia town, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Eyewitnesses said the soldiers advanced dozens of meters into Palestinian lands, close to the border fence, and bulldozed them.

The army conducts frequent limited invasion into border areas in the coastal region, bulldozes and uproots lands, in addition to firing on homes, farmers and workers.

On Saturday at dawn, the army fired several missiles targeting different areas of the besieged Gaza Strip, causing excessive damage to homes and structures, while one Palestinian was injured. more

Army: Rocket fired from Gaza lands in southern Israel

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A rocket launched from the Gaza Strip landed in southern Israel overnight, Israel's army said, with no reported injuries.

The rocket landed in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council overnight, with Israeli forces conducting searches in the area.

Sirens did not sound before the rocket fire, Israeli media reported.

No Palestinian group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Israeli warplanes attacked several targets across the Gaza Strip on Friday night after rockets were fired at an Israeli town bordering Gaza.

Friday’s rocket fire marked the eleventh such attack to hit Israel since January, according to the Israeli army, with no injuries caused. more

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Seven prisoners join hunger strike against administrative detention

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Seven Palestinian prisoners on Sunday joined an open hunger strike against their administrative detention, bringing the total number of Palestinian hunger strikers to 14, thePrisoners' and Former Prisoners' Affairs Committeesaid in a statement.

The committee said the seven new hunger strikers have joined seven others who have already been on an open hunger strike for 31 days.

The committee identified the 7 new strikers as Muath Abu-Nassar, Odai Bayumi, Muhammad Hawarin, Mutasem Raqban, Ahmad Adawi, Ashraf Ezeghari, and Hassan Ezeghari.

The statement added that "many more" Palestinian prisoners have threatened to join the open strike on Oct. 10, if the Israeli government does not meet the demands of prisoners currently on strike by stopping their administrative detention. Administrative detention is a controversial Israeli policy in which prisoners can be held without trial or charge for renewable six-month periods, indefinitely.

Prisoners asking for an end to their administrative detention usually request their release, unless charges can be brought against them. The first seven hunger strikers who have refused food for 31 days have not been transferred to a hospital, according to the committee, which claims is against an Israeli lawthat allegedly requires authorities to transfer hunger striking prisoners to a hospital after 15 days of strike. more

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Israeli warplanes strike Gaza after rocket attack

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – Israeli warplanes attacked several targets across the Gaza Strip on Friday night after rockets were fired at an Israeli town bordering Gaza.

Israeli missiles reportedly hit a site in northern Gaza City which was used as the headquarters of the Civil Administration before Israeli forces disengaged from the Gaza Strip in 2005, destroying a radio tower.

One person sustained minor injuries and was evacuated to Kamal Udwan hospital.

Two missiles landed in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip and another landed in a military training ground called Abu Jarad located in the Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City.

A witness and a security official in Gaza said the grounds were a base of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas.

Friday night an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed adjacent to an empty bus in the southern Israeli town of Sderot, causing moderate damage to the vehicle. No injuries were reported.

No group has taken responsibility for the rocket fire, but the Israeli government holds Hamas, as the elected ruling party, responsible for any activity within the enclave. more

Friday, 18 September 2015

Clashes continue in different parts of Jerusalem; settlement bus burnt

Clashes resumed, on Thursday evening, in various villages and towns, and in a number of neighborhoods, in occupied Jerusalem, as part of the ongoing protests to the escalating Israeli attacks and invasions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Member of the Follow-up Committee in the al-'Eesawiyya town, in Jerusalem, Mohammad Abu al-Hummus, said dozens of soldiers invaded it, and fired many gas bombs and concussion grenades, leading dozens of residents to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation.

He added that several trees, located in a land inside a military base near the Hebrew University, were burnt during the clashes.

Clashes also took place in the ash-Shayyah area, in Ras al-'Amoud neighborhood in Silwan, after local youths bunt an Israeli settlement bus.

Israeli daily Haaretz has reported several Palestinians hurled stones on the bus, causing the driver to escape leaving the empty vehicle in the street, before the youths burnt it.

Haaretz added that, on Thursday at night, an Israeli bus driver was injured after stones were hurled on the vehicle, close to the Hizma roadblock, at Jerusalem’s northern entrance. more

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Israel authorizes sniper fire against stone throwers

Israel has approved the use of sniper rifles against stone throwers in Jerusalem, Channel 10 reports on Thursday morning.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the Attorney General to authorize sniper to target the stone throwers as part of his declared “war” on stone throwers in Jerusalem, PNN reported.

Also approved was the arrest of minors and children under the age of 10 and 5 who throw stones, in addition to a fine up to 100,000 Shekels, about US $ 26,000.

According to Days of Palestine, Netanyahu said that Palestinian children who throw stones at the Israeli occupation forces, deserve long-term imprisonment and their fathers must pay their fines.

His remarks came after three consecutive days of Israeli violence against Al-Aqsa Mosque in the occupied city of Jerusalem.

Despite international calls to calm down, Israeli forces stormed the site for the fourth day, prevented Palestinian worshipers from entering into it and giving chance for extremist Israeli settlers to desecrate it. more

Israel permits Gazans to access farm lands for first time in 15 years

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces on Wednesday allowed Palestinian farmers to access hundreds of acres of land along the Gaza border with Israel for the first time in 15 years, a spokesperson from the International Committee of the Red Cross told Ma'an.

Suheir Zaqqut said the ICRC has been working to help Palestinian farmers regain access to the land since 2007, when the organization began "talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis."

As a result of the talks, 500 farmers were given access to their fields, which amounts to 3500 to 4000 dunams (863 to 988 acres) of land.

Salih Abu Haddaf, one of the farmers given access to his fields, told Ma'an that he "couldn't find words to express his happiness," as he watched tractors plowing his land in the east of the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis.

Abu Haddaf's son, 15, had never before been able to visit his family's land, he told told Ma'an.

Abu Haddaf said he plans to plant wheat, barley and pea crops on his newly accessible fields.

According to the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem, agricultural land near Gaza border constitutes 24 percent of the overall area of the Gaza Strip.

Ninety-Five percent of Gaza's arable land lies along the so-called "buffer zone" that is routinely restricted to Palestinians in the Strip, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. more

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Israel’s bombs and blockade cause child labor to rise in Gaza

From the Electronic Intifada - Muhammad is only 12 yet he already has to work. Each morning at 7am he takes to Gaza’s streets, where he sells sandwiches from a little stall.

“I have no choice,” he said. “Our house was completely destroyed in last year’s war.”

Because of that destruction, Muhammad had to help support his family. Consisting of five girls, four boys and their parents, the family now lives in a rented flat.

Muhammad earns approximately 30 shekels ($7.70) per day, all of which he hands over to his parents, who have no regular income.

After working for a few hours in the morning, Muhammad goes to school. His older brother takes over the stall until Muhammad’s classes end.

“I like my school,” said Muhammad. “I know that getting a good education is my surest way for a decent life. But this is life in Gaza. It’s a kind of living hell.” more

Soldiers open fire on homes at ‘Aida Refugee Camp, in Bethlehem

Israeli soldiers fired, on Wednesday at dawn, several rounds of live ammunition on a number of homes in the 'Aida refugee camp, north of the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

Media sources said the soldiers, stationed on the military tower of the Annexation Wall, overlooking the refugee camp, opened fire on the homes without any apparent justification. The attack caused property damage.

In addition, soldiers invaded the northern part of Bethlehem, and drove through several neighborhoods before withdrawing.

The army also installed roadblocks on the main entrances of several towns, south and west of Bethlehem, and invaded Harmala area, in addition to al-'Obeydiyya town, east of Bethlehem. more

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Israeli forces storm Aqsa Mosque in third day of clashes

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound's southern mosque on Tuesday sparking the third straight day of violent clashes at the third holiest site in Islam.

Dozens of Palestinians were injured in the clashes, during which Israeli forces fired stun grenades, tear gas canisters, and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian worshipers, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said.

The director of the society's office in Jerusalem, Amin Abu Ghazala, told Ma'an that 26 Palestinians had received treatment.

He said that some of the Palestinians had suffered wounds and bruises after they were physically attacked, while others had suffered excessive tear gas inhalation, although he added that no one needed to be hospitalized.

The director of Al-Aqsa religious school for boys, Nadir al-Afghani, said that a 14-year-old boy was hit in his head by a rubber-coated steel bullet and had received 10 stitches.

Officials from the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Endowment office in Jerusalem told Ma'an that Israeli forces entered the compound at 6:30 a.m. and deployed across the compound.

They proceeded to close the doors of the southern mosque with "chains and steels," but during the ensuing clashes with Palestinian worshipers they entered the holy site, witnesses said.

Witnesses said that heavily-armed Israeli forces "tread on the carpets with their military boots until they reached Saladin's Minbar (pulpit)."

Witnesses said that stun grenades caused a fire to break out near the mosque's Bab al-Janaez (funerals door), which fire fighters were able to put out.

An Israeli police spokesperson could not be reached for comment. more

Monday, 14 September 2015

Israeli forces exchange gunfire with Gazans near border, detain 2

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Sunday morning exchanged fire withPalestinian gun men,east of the town of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, and detained two men, witnesses told Ma'an.

Witnesses said Israeli soldiers detained two Palestinians who tried to cross the border fence into Israel, then opened fire at Palestinians near the fence.

Witnesses said Israeli troops were the first to open fire at Palestinian gunmen near the border.

Palestinian gunmen who were in the area fired back at the Israeli troops, according to witnesses.

An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed that "two suspects breached the security fence," adding that Israeli forces then "fired warning shots into the air, and the suspects were taken in for further questioning."

The spokesperson did not comment on whether fire was exchanged between the Gazans and Israeli forces outside of the alleged "warning shots." more

Clashes rock Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for second day

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces and Palestinians clashed for the second consecutive day at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Monday, with Israeli troops firing stun grenades and rubber bullets which injured at least one Palestinian.

Israeli police said they entered the hilltop compound to ensure that Palestinian youths did not harass Jews or tourists during the morning visiting hours.

"As the police entered the compound masked youths fled inside the mosque and threw stones at the force," an Israeli police statement said.

At least three Palestinians were detained and an elderly man sustained injuries to his eye during the clashes and was transferred to hospital for treatment.

An AFP journalist outside the gate saw a Jewish visitor leaving the compound scuffle with Muslims outside.

The clashes come a day after violent confrontations at the holy site on Sunday, during which witnesses said Israeli police entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque itself, Islam's third-holiest site, and caused damage.

Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound shortly after dawn prayers, firing rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades, leading to the injury of several worshipers. more

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Israeli forces fire at Gaza fishermen

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli naval boats on Thursday morning fired gunshots at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Palestinian security officials said.

No injuries were reported in the incident, but fishermen, fearing escalation, had to sail back to the shore An Israeli army spokesperson did not immediately respond for comment.

Last week, Israeli forces shot and injured an 11-year-old Palestinian child identified as Bilal Abu Amr near the shores of the Beit Lahiya village in the northern Gaza Strip while he was on a fishing trip with his father, medics said.

Palestinian fishermen, who try to make a living off the shores of the blockaded coastal enclave, face daily risks, including routine harassment from Israeli naval forces, confiscation of boats and materials, detention and live fire.

Citing security concerns, Israeli forces prevent fishermen from accessing watersbeyond six nautical miles from Gaza’s shore, which amounts to less than one third of the 20nautical miles allocated under the Oslo Accords, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. more

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Clashes erupt in Jerusalem after death of slain infant's mother

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Clashes erupted in occupied East Jerusalem overnight Monday following the death of Riham Dawabsha, the mother of an 18-month-old toddler who was burned alive in an arson attack carried out by Israeli settlers in July.

The East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Wadi al-Joz, Silwan and al-Tour witnessed clashes, as Palestinians also marked a year since the death of Muhammad Sunuqrut, a teenager who was killed by Israeli police in Wadi al-Joz last year.

Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli forces deployed across Wadi al-Joz around noon on Monday, and during the night they reportedly raided Sunuqrut's family home.

Israeli forces reportedly fired a stun grenade, and locals responded by throwing stones and firing fireworks.

Separately, in the neighborhood of Silwan, clashes erupted in the Beir Ayoub area. A local monitoring group, the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, said that Israeli forces fired stun grenades indiscriminately, injuring two Palestinians.

The information center added that Israeli forces violently assaulted three Palestinian children on their way home in Silwan. The children were identified as Ahmad Shwiki, 15, Muhammad Kaqour, 14, and Muhammad Awwad, 14. more

Israeli forces cross Gaza border, level lands

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli military vehicles on Tuesday morning crossed the border into the southern Gaza Strip and leveled Palestinian land, witnesses told Ma'an.

Witnesses said that four bulldozers leveled land on the Palestinian side of the border fence in the eastern outskirts of Khuzaa town east of Khan Younis.

Israeli soldiers used smoke grenades to conceal the movement of bulldozers and Palestinian farmers left their fields fearing possible shootings.

Israeli forces have made repeated incursions into the Gaza Strip over the past year and have frequently opened fire on Palestinians who approach the border "buffer zone." more

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Egypt to open Rafah for 3 days allowing Gazans to make holy pilgrimage

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – The Egyptian authorities on Sunday notified the Gazan Ministry of Interior that the Rafah border crossing would be open for three days starting Monday to allow Gazans to leave for the holy Muslim Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia's Mecca, Gazan officials said.

The Hamas-run Ministry of Interior said in a statement that the Egyptian authorities would only allow pilgrims access through the terminal.

The Rafah crossing, Gaza's only connection to the outside world, has been virtually closed since October 2014, allowing only a fraction of Gazans to leave or enter the blockaded enclave.

Last month Egyptian authorities opened the crossing for four days, allowing 2,579 humanitarian cases to leave Gaza while 3,178 people were permitted entry to the coastal enclave.

In late June, Egyptian authorities agreed to keep the crossing open for a week, the longest period so far this year.

The 1.8 million residents of the Gaza Strip have lived under a strict Israeli blockade since 2007, which Egypt has helped to maintain.


Saturday, 5 September 2015

UK petition calling for arrest of PM Netanyahu hits 100,000 target

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A petition to the UK government and parliament requesting that the government arrest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "for war crimes when he arrives in London," reached its targetSaturday afternoonwith 100,341 signatures.

The petition calls for the arrest of Netanyahu on the grounds of alleged war-crimescommittedby Israel during its 51-day 2014 Gaza offensive, which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, withmany more wounded in the 139 square mile strip.

Around 20,000 Palestinian homes, 148 schools, 15 hospitals and 45 primary healthcare centers, and asmany as 247 factories and 300 commercial centers wereseverelydamaged or completely destroyed in the violence.

The creator of the petition, UK resident Damian Moran, asks potential signatories to participate in demanding the arrest of the Israeli PM "under international law," which they claim lays grounds to detain the leader "for war crimes upon arrival in the U.K for the massacre of over 2000 civilians in 2014."

Petitions to the UK government that reach more than 100,000 signatures are to be considered for a debate in the UK parliament, however, an official UK government response stressed that Netanyahu cannot and will not be arrested. more

Friday, 4 September 2015

Israeli forces shoot, injure child of fisherman in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian child near the shores of the Beit Lahiya village in the northern Gaza Strip, medics said.

Medics told Ma'an that Bilal Abu Amro, 11, was shot in the thigh while he was with his father, a fisherman.

He was taken to Kamal Adwan hospital for treatment.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an they were unaware of the incident.


Thursday, 3 September 2015

Israeli forces bomb Hamas military site in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces launched an air attack early Thursday on a military site of the Hamas movement's armed wing in the northern Gaza Strip, local sources told Ma'an.

Israeli forces fired two rockets at an al-Qassam Brigades military site known as Falasteen, causing damages.

No injuries were reported.

Israeli forces said the attack was in response to alleged sniper fire from the Gaza Strip, which hit a house in the Netiv Hatsra neighborhood, adjacent to the besieged territory.

An Israeli army statement released early Thursday said shots were fired from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday and that "in response to the shooting, an IAF aircraft targeted a Hamas military post in the northern Gaza Strip, from where the shots were fired."

The army could not say whether the shots from Gaza had been deliberate or stray fire from the Hamas position, identified in Israeli media as a training base.

No group has taken responsibility for the alleged sniper fire, but the Israeli government holds Hamas, as the elected ruling party, responsible for any activity within the enclave.

Some sporadic rocket fire towards Israel from Gaza in recent months has been claimed by a small extremist groups in the strip allegedly aiming to challenge Hamas' rule.

Hamas has denied involvement in past attacks and has attempted to vamp down on armed activity by smaller political groups reportedly growing more active.

Last month Israeli forces injured four Palestinians during a bombing near Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. more

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Israeli forces shoot, injure Gazan 'after crossing border'

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian man near the Gazan border Wednesday morning after they said he crossed the border into Israel.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said that soldiers went to the scene after they "identified a suspect infiltrating Israel from the sea."

She could not confirm how he crossed the border, but said he reached the Israeli side.

She said that soldiers fired warning shots and ordered him to halt. When he "did not comply," she said that they fired "at his lower extremities" and a hit was confirmed.

She said the Palestinian "was evacuated for medical treatment in an Israeli hospital."

Sources at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon told Ma'an that the Gazan had been brought to them. They said he had been hit in the leg and was in a stable condition. more

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Erez border crossing closed after Gaza 'rocket fire'

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities Tuesday briefly closed the Erez border crossing into Gaza after a rocket was allegedly fired toward Israel from the coastal enclave but fell short of the border.

The Israeli army said that rocket sirens sounded in southern Israel early Tuesday morning, but it was believed the rocket "fell short inside the Gaza Strip."

An Israeli army spokeswoman said that Israeli forces were searching the border area.

The Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) later closed the Erez bording crossing between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip, allowing only "humanitarian cases" to pass.

A COGAT spokeswoman said that the crossing was closed between 8 and 10 a.m., "because the army had to search the place, because last night rockets were fired close to the Erez crossing."

She said that Israeli soldiers "had to check that there was no danger."

She added that Palestinian fighters "cannot shoot rockets everywhere and expect the crossing to be open," adding that the rockets posed a danger to both Palestinians using the crossing and the staff working there. more