Thursday, 22 January 2015

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

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

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

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

Israeli court sentences a child to two months imprisonment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another 73 died on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers,

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

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

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

Egypt frees 45 Gazans imprisoned after trying to flee to Europe

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

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

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

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

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