Sunday, 15 March 2015

3rd time in 4 days: Israeli troops open fire at Gaza farmers

Israeli troops stationed along the border with the Gaza Strip on Sunday morning opened fire toward Palestinian farmers working on their lands on the eastern outskirts of Khan Younis, witnesses told Ma'an.

The soldiers fired gunshots and smoke bombs at agricultural lands and into residential neighborhoods from military watchtowers east of the village of Khuzaa, forcing farmers to leave their fields.

No casualties were reported as a result of the attack, which is the third such incident in the area since Thursday.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said she was "unfamiliar" with the incident.

Khuzaa is a small agricultural town that was severely damaged by Israel during the summer assault, when more than half of the village's homes were destroyed and dozens of civilians reportedly killed in three days of intense shelling.

Israeli forces have repeatedly opened fire toward Palestinian civilians near the border in the five months since the signing of a ceasefire agreement that ended a more than 50-day assault by Israel on Gaza that left around 2,200 dead and 11,000 injured. more

Hamas official blasts PA failure to hold new elections

Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahhar on Saturday accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of failing to fulfill his promise to hold elections for the Palestinian parliament.

In a televised interview with the Hamas-affiliated al-Aqsa TV channel aired Saturday evening, Zahhar rejected Abbas' invitation to Hamas to sign a document pledging to take part in presidential and parliamentary elections.

He demanded that instead of asking Hamas to sign new agreements, the president uphold his own responsibilities to hold the elections as outlined by the Cairo agreement signed between Fatah and Hamas in 2012.

The statement signals ongoing disagreements between the two largest Palestinian parties regarding the future of the government of national unity currently in place, less than a year after it's formation was agreed upon to much fanfare.

In 2011, Hamas and Fatah signed an agreement in Doha in which Abbas pledged to lead an interim government of technocrats before elections to be held in May 2012.

The elections were never held, but in 2012 in Cairo Abbas recommitted himself to holding elections. Since then, however, political disputes and Israeli offensives against the Gaza Strip have sidelined elections. more