Thursday, 12 February 2015

UN officials warns of further conflict in Gaza

RAMALLAH (AFP) -- A top UN official warned Thursday of another potential conflict in the Gaza Strip, urging Israel to lift its blockade and Palestinian political parties to end in-fighting to avoid further violence.

The United Nations also called for an additional $705 million in humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territories, most of it for Gaza which saw its bloodiest and most destructive war last year.

"Right now, things are not going well, and we're very concerned about the possibility of a further conflict," James Rawley, UN humanitarian chief for the Palestinian territories, told AFP.

"But it's not inevitable... as long as several things happen.

"To have a complete recovery of Gaza, even to go back to where we were in July (before the 50-day conflict) requires more than construction material going in. It requires a lifting of the blockade," said Rawley.

"In parallel, we have to see a commitment from the militant groups in Gaza to stop firing rockets at civilians in Israel... and Palestinian reconciliation moving forward" to reassure donors that building materials were not falling into the hands of militants, he added.

Rawley called for a "reconstruction hudna (truce) for three to five years" to allow rehabilitation of the increasingly unstable coastal enclave. more

Palestinian children in Israeli custody victims of 'forced confessions'

Palestinian children being held in Israeli military custody following their arrest are falling victim to abuse designed to coerce confessions, a children's rights group said this week.

"The Israeli military detention system subjects Palestinian children to several days of prolonged interrogation and isolation with the apparent goal of obtaining a confession at all costs," said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at Defense for Children International Palestine, on Monday.

"The military courts admit these coerced confessions as evidence to convict these children in a complete mockery of due process and fair trial standards."

DCIP said Monday that in 2014 Palestinian children spent an average of 15 days in solitary confinement following their arrest.

In one case a child was kept in isolation for a total of 26 days for interrogation purpose, the report said.

Over 54 children were held in solitary confinement between 2012 and 2014, and Palestinian children have no right to be accompanied by an adult. more