Monday, 2 February 2015

Report: Israel to continue withholding Palestinian Authority tax money

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given instructions to continue withholding tax revenues that Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, Israeli media reported Monday.

Daily newspaper Israel Hayom reported that Netanyahu gave orders to withhold $100 million the PA was supposed to receive as tax revenues for January.

Israel was already withholding another $100 million of PA tax revenue for December.

The Israeli government decided to take that step in response to Palestine's decision to sign the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The Palestinian move was a step toward suing Israeli troops and officials for alleged war crimes at the ICC. more

“We’re being stripped of our dignity”: Gaza workers not paid for seven months

Abdallah al-Hourani has been forced to make the kind of decisions that parents dread.

Receiving no wages for the past seven months, he has stopped paying tuition fees for two of his children who are attending university. Of his many debts, he owes nearly $2,000 for basic groceries, a considerable sum given that his monthly salary stood at only $1,000.

Al-Hourani is a nurse in the orthopedics department of Nasser Hospital in the Khan Younis area of Gaza. His problems are shared by around 42,000 of Gaza’s public sector employees. All of them are being denied wages because of circumstances beyond their control.

In April last year, the Palestinians’ two main political parties, Fatah and Hamas, signed a “national unity” agreement. Although it was supposed to end the divisions between the Palestinians’ representatives, many aspects of it were vague — including the question of salaries for those employed in the public sector.

Workers have been left in the lurch as a consequence.

That al-Hourani has served his people selflessly is beyond dispute. When Israel bombed Gaza for 51 days last summer, he cared for the injured and dying, despite having no idea when his paycheck would arrive. He had to brave Israeli bomb attacks while traveling by ambulance from his home in the city of Rafah to Khan Younis.

Some 23 health workers died as a direct result of the Israeli attack, 16 of them while on duty. Another 83 were injured, “the majority of whom were ambulance drivers for the various pre-hospital emergency service providers,” according to an independent medical fact-finding report.

“Once I stayed [in the hospital] for 72 hours continuously, working under pressure,” al-Hourani said. “It was a very big responsibility.” more

Israeli navy opens fire at Gaza fishermen in ongoing illegal 'war'

Israeli naval forces opened fire at fishermen off the coast of Gaza on Monday, damaging a fishing boat.
Fishermen told Ma'an that Israeli boats stationed off the coast northwest of Gaza City opened fire at them while they were inside the designated zone.

One boat was damaged by the gunfire but no injuries were reported.

On Saturday, fishermen reported a similar incident near Gaza City.

The Aug. 26 ceasefire agreement reached after the end of Israel's assault on Gaza stipulated that Israel would expand the fishing zone off Gaza's coast, allowing fishermen to sail as far as six nautical miles from shore, and would continue to expand the area gradually.

Since then, there have been widespread reports that Israeli forces have opened fire at fishermen within those new limits. more