Tuesday, 3 February 2015

UN human rights chief Schabas resigns after Israel accuses him of bias

Palestinian resistance faction Hamas has blamed Israel for the resignation of the head of a commission formed by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to investigate last summer's Israeli military onslaught against the blockaded Gaza Strip.

The resignation of William Schabas from his post is "the inevitable result of Israeli... pressure on the commission," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement.

"Israeli pressure aims at preventing any legal action that would reveal the truth about Israeli crimes [during the Gaza onslaught]," he added.

Nevertheless, Barhoum urged the UN to go ahead with the probe and not to bow to "any pressure or blackmail against its investigative committees."

On Monday, Schabas, a Canadian professor of international law, reportedly resigned from his post as head of the investigation committee due to Israeli allegations of bias.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday welcomed Schabas' resignation and said the probe should be shelved in light of the move.

The Israeli government had already said it would not cooperate with the UNHRC committee formed to investigate violations committed during Israel's summer offensive, saying the UN council would not be "objective."

The offensive left more than 2,160 Palestinians dead and some 11,000 injured – the vast majority of them civilians – while partially or completely destroying thousands of residential structures across the Gaza Strip. more

Saudi Arabia donates $13.5 million to UNRWA in Gaza

GAZA, (PIC)-- Adnan Abu Hasna, the Gaza-based media adviser of UNRWA, confirmed that Saudi Arabia donated 13.5 million U.S. dollars to UNRWA to be used for repairing the houses, which were damaged during the last Israeli aggression on Gaza.

Adnan Abu Hasna said, in a statement on Tuesday, that the mentioned sum was allocated by Saudi Arabia’s development fund for Gaza reconstruction.

He pointed out that the Saudi donations are to be distributed on Tuesday and Wednesday to 10,000 families to repair their partially damaged houses all over Gaza, noting that the donations have already been transferred to bank accounts in the Strip.

The UNRWA media adviser valued the role of Saudi Arabia in supporting the Palestinian refugees as well as the UNRWA in all of its work locations, noting that the Saudi role has been significant and pioneering in terms of supporting the refugees. more

Elbit and UK government “running scared” after dropping charges against protesters

Activists have accused the UK government and Israeli arms company Elbit Systems of running scared from a court case that would have put their collusion with Israeli war crimes on trial.

This follows the announcement that all charges have been dropped against nine campaigners who occupied the roof of an Elbit Systems factory in Staffordshire during Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza. This means that the UK government will no longer be required to reveal details of the arms trade with Israel, and Elbit will avoid having to testify about the use of its drones during Israel’s massacre in Gaza last summer. The protest shut down UAV Engines, owned by Israel’s Elbit Systems, for two days from 5-6 August 2014 during Israel’s 50 day assault on the Gaza strip.

The Israeli-owned factory exports engines to Israel for use in Elbit’s Hermes 450 drones that are widely documented as having been used to deliberately attack Palestinian civilians in Gaza, including during Israel’s massacre of more than 2,300 Palestinians last summer. The activists pleaded not guilty to charges of “preventing lawful activity” on the basis that the operations at the Staffordshire factory were aiding and abetting war crimes and therefore illegal.

Lawyers for the defendants say it appears the case collapsed either because the prosecution had been told either that Elbit Systems were unwilling to testify in court about their activities or because the UK government was unwilling to comply with the court’s order to disclose information it holds about licenses for arms exports to Israel, or both. more

Israeli troops fire at Palestinian farmers in central Gaza Strip

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) – Israeli troops on Tuesday morning opened fire at Palestinian farmers near the border fence in the central Gaza Strip, witnesses said.

They explained that farmers were trying to reach their fields east of al-Maghazi refugee camp when Israeli soldiers fired at them from military watchtowers on the other side of the border. more