Monday, 30 November 2015

Pirouettes and plenty of pink at Gaza's only ballet school


The group of girls, ponytailed and dressed in pink, stretched their arms out to the sides and pivoted onto their toes, trying desperately to hold still. Eagle-eyed, the instructor surveyed Gaza's latest crop of would-be ballerinas.

Fifty girls aged five to eight are now enrolled in the ballet school at the Al-Qattan Center for Children in Gaza, making it one of the most popular classes the arts institute runs, under the watchful eye of a Ukrainian teacher.

Amid the chaos and destruction that has shattered Gaza so often over the past five years, with repeated wars between Israel and Hamas, the school is a haven of calm and order, one many parents are eager for their children to enjoy.

"The ballet project was a dream for many families," said Heyam Al-Hayek, the head of Qattan's cultural activities. "They had been asking for ballet courses but we couldn't find trainers. It was difficult to bring an instructor from abroad."

The dream began to take shape when they found Tamara, a Ukrainian married to a Palestinian and living in Gaza, who had studied dance and was qualified to teach. She asked not to give her family name.

They started a pilot programme in the summer, not sure how many parents would sign up given that Gaza is a conservative society and ballet is hardly a common pastime. Before they knew it, 50 children, all girls, were registered. There is now a waiting list that runs into the hundreds. more

Soldiers kill Palestinian teen in Jerusalem


Israeli soldiers fatally shot, on Sunday at night, a Palestinian teen in Ein al-Louza neighborhood, in Silwan town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem.

Medical sources said the slain Palestinian has been identified as Ayman Sameeh al-Abbassi, 17 years of age, and that he was shot with a live round in his chest.

Clashes took place in different parts of the town, including Ras al-Amoud and Ein al-Louza, while the soldiers fired rounds of live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs. Many Palestinians suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation.

The soldiers also invaded Ein al-Louza Specialized Medical Center, and detained the medical staff in addition to inspecting the ID cards of many residents in the center.

They attempted to snatch the body of the slain Palestinian from the center, but the residents prevented them, and took him to his family home.

The army also invaded the residential building of Sami Rajabi, and searched several apartments, in addition to surrounding the al-Makassed and Augusta Victoria Hospitals, before searching all cars entering or leaving them. more

2 Israelis convicted for 2014 killing of Muhammad Abu Khdeir


Israel's Jerusalem District Court on Monday convicted two Israelis for the murder of Palestinian teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir last summer, with a third suspect who admitted to the killing escaping conviction on the grounds of his mental health.

The conviction of Yosef Ben David, the alleged ringleader of the gang that kidnapped, assaulted, and burned Muhammad, 16, to death, was suspended to allow for a last minute psychiatric evaluation, Israeli news site Haaretz reported.

The 31-year-old suspect's lawyer submitted an evaluation last week declaring that he was not responsible for his actions at the time of the murder.

The two Israeli youths found guilty will be sentenced on Jan. 13, according to the AFP news agency, while another hearing for Ben David was set for Dec. 20.

All three suspects confessed to the murder during questioning by Israeli police, admitting to beating the Palestinian teenager unconscious before pouring flammable liquid on him and burning him alive.

The suspects said it was revenge for the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers. more