Friday, 30 January 2015

Teen hurt as Israeli forces suppress West Bank demos

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

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

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

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

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

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

NGO: Israel to build 430 new West Bank settler homes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMF: Gaza war pushed Palestinian economy into recession

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

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

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

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

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

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