Monday, 9 February 2015

Israeli forces open fire at Gaza march

Israeli forces opened fire on a march east of Gaza City on Monday to protest delays to reconstructing the Gaza Strip following Israel's devastating military offensive last summer.

Dozens of demonstrators took part in the march, which was organized by a national committee to end the eight-year blockade of the coastal territory.

Protesters burned tires and waved Palestinian flags.

No injuries were reported.

Last month, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, the largest service provider in the Gaza Strip, announced that it was forced to stop a cash assistance program for tens of thousands of Palestinians to make repairs to damaged and destroyed homes due to a lack of donor funding.

Over 96,000 homes were damaged or destroyed during Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip, which also killed over 2,000 people, the majority of whom were civilians. more

Traumatized by war, Gaza youths join Hamas training camps

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Hatem is only 14 but has already lived through three wars with Israel. Now the young Palestinian says he is making sure he'll be ready to fight in the next one.

"The Israelis killed my niece last summer. Now I want to kill them," he told AFP after completing a week-long youth training camp with militants from the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas.

"I will become a resistance fighter," the boy said proudly during a graduation ceremony in Gaza.

Hatem is one of 17,000 youngsters who graduated late last month from two military training camps where Hamas -- the de facto power in Gaza -- said it was preparing the next generation to fight against Israel.

Last summer, Israel and Hamas militants fought a 50-day war that killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 73 Israelis, the majority soldiers, and left swathes of the impoverished enclave in ruins.

It was their third conflict in less than five years, following an eight-day bombardment in 2012 and a 22-day war in late 2008 and early 2009.

Children were on the front-line of the latest conflict, with UN figures showing about 500 were killed.

And just five months after the war ended, thousands of those who survived signed up to join the Hamas training camps.

"I want to join the Qassam Brigades because they are the strongest in Gaza," said 15-year-old Mohammed Abu Harbid, who also took part in the training. more