Thursday, 26 February 2015

Greek Orthodox Church decries attacks by settlers

The Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and all Palestine, Theophilos III, denounced on Thursday what he called "repeated" attacks on Christian and Muslim places of worship in the Palestinian territories by extremist Jewish settlers.

"The targeting of churches and mosques is caused by pervasive racism and hatred," he said in a statement.

Earlier Thursday, Jewish Settlers set fire to part of a religious school affiliated with Jerusalem's Greek Orthodox Church, Which they sprayed with anti-Christian graffiti. On Wednesday, settlers torched and sprayed graffiti on a West Bank mosque.

Theophilos III said Christians represented an "integral part" of the Holy Land, its history and its future, going on to assert that the Greek Orthodox Church was one of the world's most important churches.

"Criminals will not intimidate this church or its flock," he declared. more

Photos and Video: Think on: Banksy's tour of a ruined Gaza

From The Guardian - The street artist, who previously created works on the wall of the West Bank, has made a series of new paintings across ruins in Palestine Banksy Gaza

The Bristolian street artist Banksy has returned to Palestine to create another series of works, following his famous 2005 series painted on the West Bank barrier wall.

The works, which he trailed on his Instagram account last night, include one piece which somewhat resembles Rodin’s sculpture The Thinker, with the figure’s hand gone from thoughtfully supporting his face to covering it in despair – or perhaps Niobe, the classical figure weeping for the loss of her children. Another features a kitten sprayed on the remains of a wall, posed playing with a coiled ball of rusted metal as if it were wool. A third features children swinging around a watchtower as though it were a fairground ride.

The artist made a film to go alongside the works, documenting the devastation wrought by Israeli militia and bombing campaigns. “Make this the year YOU discover a new destination,” he sarcastically writes in its captions, recalling the banal exhortations of holiday brochures. One local is recorded saying of the kitten painting: “This cat tells the whole world that she is missing joy in her life. The cat found something to play with. What about our children?” The camera then rests on text that reads: “If we wash our hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless we side with the powerful – we don’t remain neutral.” more

Farmers continue to face hardship months after Gaza war

Farmers in the Gaza Strip continue to suffer the consequences of massive losses incurred during Israel's military offensive last summer, a French humanitarian NGO said Thursday.

Première Urgence – Aide Médicale Internationale said that over 88 percent of crops provided to farmers by the group were damaged during the 51-day conflict, with farmers continuing to suffer from access restrictions and violations of International Humanitarian Law.

A survey of 285 farmers conducted by the group found that 84 percent assessed had been forced to take out loans to cope with the loss of income incurred by damage to their land.

"Before 2005, I used to have greenhouses here where I grew tomatoes and I used to earn good money exporting these tomatoes to the West Bank, Israel and abroad," farmer Amona Ahmed Abu Rejalaa, from Khuza, told PU-AMI.

"Since the imposition of access restrictions in 2005 and the blockade in 2007, the situation has been totally different. Exportation is not allowed, access is limited and risky (as we often hear warning shots and have to leave), (…), and we are left with very low income and increasing debts."

Nearly 87 percent of irrigation systems were damaged during the war, the group said, and the high cost of water means most farmers cannot afford to irrigate their crops. more

Israeli forces open fire at farmers in central Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces opened fire at farmers in the central Gaza Strip on Wednesday, witnesses said.

Locals told Ma'an that soldiers stationed in military towers on the border east of Deir al-Balah opened fire at farmers in the area.

Farmers fled the area, with no injuries reported.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said "two people approached the border fence in a prohibited area and Israeli forces opened fire in the air."

Israeli forces frequently shoot at farmers and other civilians inside the Gaza Strip if they approach large swathes of land near the border that the Israeli military has deemed off-limits to Palestinians. more