Saturday, 30 April 2016

4 Palestinian prisoners continue hunger strike against administrative detention

Four Palestinian prisoners continued their hunger strike on Saturday in protest of their administrative detention in the face of increasing pressure by Israeli prison authorities, with some experiencing severe health complications, Palestinian radio station Sawt al-Asra reported.

Hunger-striker Sami Janazreh, 43, from al-Fawwar refugee camp near Hebron, entered the 59th day of his hunger strike. He suffers from a heart condition and low blood pressure, and has suffered seizures and other complications since the end of March.

Since the announcement of his hunger strike, Israeli authorities have transferred Janazreh between Israeli prisons as a way of pressuring him to end his strike.

Janazreh was moved Friday from solitary confinement at Israel’s Ela prison to Soroka hospital after his health deteriorated even further.

Fuad Rabah Shukri Assi, 30, from Beit Liqya near Ramallah, continued his hunger strike for the 28th day after Israeli authorities extended his administrative detention for an additional six months.

Israeli prison authorities have reportedly pressured Assi to end his hunger strike by searching his cell every two hours, allowing him one one visit per day to the toilet, confiscating all of his electronics, seizing his clothes, and only allowing him one hour in the prison yard. more

Vice News spins Israeli army propaganda as ‘leaked report’

Vice News is now carrying water for the Israeli army.

The the self-proclaimed “news organization for a connected generation” published a report yesterday from what is claimed to be a “leaked” Israeli military document into the investigation of Elor Azarya, the soldier-medic who summarily executed Palestinian man Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sharif in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron last month.

The report lists the main claims of the document:

* The soldier said before the shooting that the subdued Palestinian “needs to die.”

* After the shooting, he told a commander: “He’s a terrorist, he needs to die.”

* The soldier “changed his version [of events] in the different investigations,” according to one investigator, telling a commander: “I shot because I felt there was a threat to life.”

* The incident “severely hurts the IDF and Israel’s image.”

None of this is new or exclusive information – it’s actually a regurgitation of the official Israeli government line disseminated shortly after the video of the execution went viral, and part of an effort to portray the killer as a bad apple, rather than a soldier following orders.

Three days after the killing, the finding of the army’s investigation that the soldier said “the terrorist needs to die” was reported across media outlets. more

How Israel lobby manufactured UK Labour Party’s anti-Semitism crisis

Last year, socialist stalwart Jeremy Corbyn won the leadership of the UK’s Labour Party by a landslide. Since then, there has been a steady flow of claims by Israel’s supporters that Corbyn has not done enough to combat anti-Semitism. This has only accelerated in the lead-up to a major test for Corbyn, the UK local elections on 5 May. Even as this story was in preparation, two more victims were claimed in the war against his leadership. Lawmaker Naz Shah and the former mayor of London, long-time Palestine campaigner Ken Livingstone, were also suspended from the party – within hours of being accused of anti-Semitism. But an investigation by The Electronic Intifada has found that some of the most prominent stories about anti-Semitism in the party are falsified. The Electronic Intifada can reveal that a key player in Labour’s “anti-Semitism crisis” covered up his involvement in the Israel lobby. Most Labour members so accused are in reality being attacked for expressing opinions in favor of Palestinian human rights and particularly for supporting the boycott of Israel. Labour activists, many of them Jews, have told The Electronic Intifada that false accusations of anti-Semitism are being used as a weapon against Corbyn by the party’s right-wing. more

Israeli forces, shoot injure Palestinian worker near Bethlehem separation wall

Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian worker on Saturday as he approached the separation wall near the village of Dar Salah east of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank, according to local sources.

Witnesses told Ma’an that Muhammad Qashqeesh from Halhul near Hebron was shot in the foot. He was evacuated to Beit Jala public hospital in Bethlehem, where medics said he suffered from a moderate wound.

An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports.

Several Palestinian workers -- who are denied work permits by Israel -- use holes in the separation wall east of Bethlehem to cross into Israel. The section of Israel’s separation wall near the villages of Dar Salah, al-Khass, and al-Nuaman is secured only by chain fences, which makes it easier for workers to cross stealthily.

Last year, there were as many as 112,300 Palestinians employed in Israel and Israel’s illegal settlements -- about 12 percent of the Palestinian workforce -- according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS). more

Friday, 29 April 2016

UN: Four-fold increase in Israeli demolitions this year

UN figures released Thursday revealed a four-fold increase from last year in the rate of Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes and structures, that have left a record-high 808 Palestinians displaced since the start of 2016.

According to UN documentation, the Israeli authorities have destroyed some 588 Palestinian structures across the occupied Palestinian territory since January.

The over 800 Palestinians to be displaced this year far surpasses the number displaced during the entirety of 2015, while well over 1,000 Palestinians were also affected after losing structures related to their source of income.

A number of homes have been targeted in punitive demolitions of family homes of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks on Israelis, the most recent implemented in Qalandiya refugee camp last week. The policy has been widely condemned by the international community as collective punishment, executed in direct violation of international law on family members who have not carried out crimes. However, the majority of demolitions took place in Area C of the West Bank --- the more than 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control. more

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Witnesses: Palestinian siblings posed no threat when shot dead

Witnesses to an alleged stab attempt on Israeli border police at a military checkpoint in the occupied West Bank Wednesday said two siblings shot dead during the incident posed no threat at the time the Israeli officer killed them.

Witnesses told Ma’an that 23-year-old Maram Salih Hassan Abu Ismail, five months pregnant, and her 16-year-old brother Ibrahim were en route to Jerusalem when they took a path intended for vehicles, not pedestrians, into Qalandiya checkpoint near Ramallah. The two were apparently unable to understand Israeli officers yelling in Hebrew, and stopped walking.

Witnesses said it appeared that Ibrahim attempted to grab his sister's hand and move away from the officers, when they opened fire on her. Maram fell to the ground and when Ibrahim attempted to aid her, he was shot in his tracks.

A Palestinian bus driver present at the scene, Muhammad Ahmad, told Ma’an that the Israeli officer who opened fire on Maram was standing behind a cement block some 20 meters away from her at the time. The driver said it did not appear that Maram or her brother posed any threat when the officer shot them.

Palestinian local and witness to the incident Ahmad Taha told Ma’an that Israeli officers approached the two after they had been shot and had fallen to the ground before opening fire on them again “to ensure that they were dead,” adding that the officers “could have moved the two away without opening fire.”


Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Palestinian woman, youth shot dead after alleged stab attempt at Qalandiya

Israeli forces on Wednesday shot and killed a Palestinian woman and youth after they allegedly attempted to carry out a stab attack on border police at Qalandiya military checkpoint near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, police and witnesses said.

Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said two suspects -- a woman and a youth -- approached the vehicular path leading through the military checkpoint and walked towards border police officers, the woman with her hand in her bag and the youth with hands behind his back.

Officers ordered them to halt several times and they began to turn back before police said the woman threw a knife at an officer. Police opened fire, killing the woman immediately. The youth's death was confirmed shortly after.

An eyewitness told Ma'an that Israeli forces fired more than 15 rounds into the woman’s body, confirming her death.

Witnesses are heard in video footage of the scene following the incident claiming that a Palestinian boy approached the woman after she was killed, before being shot by Israeli forces as well.

The Palestinian Red Crescent told Ma’an that Israeli forces denied Palestinian paramedics access to the woman and child for medical treatment.

The woman was identified as 24-year-old Maram Salih Hassan Abu Ismail.

No Israelis were injured in the incident. more

Monday, 25 April 2016

NGO network warns of Gaza cement ban consequences

Palestinian NGOs condemned on Sunday the Israeli ban on cement being imported into the Gaza Strip. The NGO Network warned of the consequences of such a ban on the “already deteriorated” situation in the coastal enclave, has reported.

In a statement, the network said that the Israeli occupation is banning the import of cement and other construction materials as well as all kinds of exports from Gaza. “This aggravates the already deteriorated humanitarian, economic and social situation.” According to international reports, the NGOs pointed out, the ban, “Increases unemployment rates and poverty, and causes food insecurity.”

In addition, the NGOs warned of the slow reconstruction of the houses destroyed during the 2014 Israeli offensive on the Palestinian territory. They called for the acceleration of the reconstruction and repair of houses as well as the water supply, sewage, electricity and education infrastructure. more

Union: Unemployment in Gaza soars ahead of workers' day

The unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip has reached 60 percent with some 213,000 workers unemployed, the General Federation of Trade Unions in Gaza said in a statement Sunday ahead of International Workers’ Day on May 1.

Gaza’s unemployment rate has soared from the 44 percent unemployment rate recorded by the World Bank in 2014 to 60 percent, according to the head of the federation Sami al-Amsi. The poverty rate among laborers in the besieged coastal enclave meanwhile stands at a staggering 70 percent, he added.

“Palestinian workers will receive International Workers’ Day with accumulating suffering as a result of the crippling siege imposed by the Israeli occupation,”said al-Amsi, asserting that the labor situation in the Gaza Strip “is the worst it’s been in ten years.”

The statement highlighted Egypt's role in the worsening economic situation, pointing to the ongoing closure of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

Al-Amsi slammed the Palestinian unity government for "failing to employ a single worker" since it was formed in 2014. “All that Gaza workers were given were illusionary promises that Minister of Labor Maamoun Abu Shahla made in the name of the government.” more

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Palestinian fisherman shot, 3 detained off Gaza coast

Israeli naval forces shot and injured a Palestinian fisherman and detained three others off the coast Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip early Tuesday, sources said.

Head of the fishermen’s union Nizar Ayyash told Ma’an the forces opened fire on the fishermen while they were working at sea within the nine-mile fishing zone designated by the Israeli authorities.

The injured fisherman was released by the naval forces and taken to the hospital for medical treatment while three others were detained, Ayyash said.

An Israeli spokesperson told Ma’an they were looking into the reports.


Monday, 18 April 2016

Israeli forces find first tunnel from Gaza into Israel since 2014 war

Israeli forces have uncovered and destroyed a tunnel passing from the Gaza Strip into Israel -- the first to be found since Israel's devastating military offensive on the coastal enclave in 2014.

The Israeli army on Monday lifted a gag order on the discovery of the tunnel earlier this week. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed to Ma'an the tunnel had been found and destroyed on both sides of the border.

Reaching 30 meters deep at certain points, the tunnel reportedly extended from the southeast of the Gaza Strip, crossing the border to where Israeli military bases and towns are located.

Israeli army spokesperson Peter Lerner said in a statement: "The ugly truth is that Hamas continues to invest millions of dollars to build tunnels of terror and death. The tunnel uncovered in Israel demonstrates once more Hamas' warped priorities and continued commitment and investment in tools of violence."

The Coordinator of Israeli Government's Activities in the Palestinian Territory Yoav Mordechai also confirmed the tunnel's discovery, saying: "Hamas continues to dig tunnels ignoring Gaza citizens' rights to live in dignity."

There have been reports in recent months that Hamas has expanded its tunnel network -- used mainly for military purposes in the northern Gaza Strip and smuggling in the south -- since Israel's 2014 offensive on Gaza left much of it destroyed. more

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Hundreds rally in Gaza, Ramallah marking Palestinian Prisoner's Day

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Hundreds of Palestinians rallied on Sunday in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip commemorating Palestinian Prisoner’s Day.

The rally in Gaza City, which was organized by a prisoners’ committee representing various Palestinian factions, marched from the Unknown Soldier’s Square in the center of Gaza City to the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Officials from different Palestinian factions delivered speeches during the rally, expressing support for Palestinian prisoners and detainees jailed in Israel’s prisons.

Abdul-Hamid Hamad of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) maintained in his speech that Israel “continues to violate the rights of Palestinian prisoners in an obvious breach of international law.” He urged Palestinian leaders to take the prisoners’ plight to the International Criminal Court and other international organizations.

A senior Hamas leader, Khalil al-Hayya, promised that his movement would make serious efforts to free all political prisoners from Israeli custody. “You will soon be free, as the resistance -- the al-Qassam Brigades in particular -- will never neglect your suffering.”

Abu Ubaida, the spokesperson for the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades -- the military wing of the Hamas movement -- said that the "al-Qassam Brigades have enough tools to accomplish an honorable prisoner swap deal with Israel," likely referring to the four Israelis currently held captive in the Gaza Strip. more

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Israeli court maintains detention of 12-year-old Palestinian boy

Israeli authorities decided to uphold the one-year detention of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy who has been held since November for allegedly carrying out a stabbing attack with his cousin, a relative told Ma’an on Wednesday.

Ali Alqam was first detained on Nov. 10 at a light rail station in the illegal Israeli settlement of Pisgat Zeev after he and his cousin Muawiya, 14, stabbed a security guard, wounding him moderately.

Ali, who turned 12 in detention, was shot at least three times on the scene and had to undergo surgery to remove a bullet from his stomach.

In November, Muawiya was indicted on charges of attempted murder and possession of a knife.

Sheikh Abdullah Alqam, Ali’s uncle, told Ma'an that a court session for Ali was recently held at the Israeli magistrate court, in which the judge ruled to keep the young Palestinian detained for a negotiable year. The judge added that Ali would be moved from Acre to Ein Naqquba west of Jerusalem.

Alqam added that Ali’s lawyer had presented several requests to the court to reconsider the boy’s detention.

The uncle added that the judge had decided to extend Ali’s detention on the grounds that he still needs psychotherapy, despite the fact that the boy’s parents are reportedly able to provide him treatment. more

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

UN: 75,000 Palestinians remain homeless in Gaza

A major UN survey has found that up to 75,000 Palestinians remain homeless nearly two years after Israel's last devastating offensive on the blockaded Gaza Strip.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) made the findings in an unprecedented survey on Gaza's internally displaced families published Monday, warning that many families were now at breaking point.

"After hearing from over 16,000 displaced families in the Gaza Strip, it is clear that most continue to live in desperate conditions," Robert Piper, UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid, said in a statement. "International support to end this situation is urgently needed."

The survey found that more than 80 percent of the families had borrowed money over the past year to survive, with 85 percent buying food on credit, and as many as 40 percent decreasing their consumption of food.

About 63 percent of the displaced Palestinians were renting living space, but nearly 50 percent feared being evicted, OCHA found, adding that the situation for women and girls was of "particular concern."

"Many families report living in shelter conditions that are lacking in safety, dignity and privacy, including living in tents, makeshift shelters, destroyed houses, or the open air," the UN body said in a statement.

Piper said: "Funding is needed more than ever. We face a funding gap to reconstruct some 6,600 houses, or about 37 percent of the overall caseload. Without this support, thousands of Palestinians will see no end to their displacement." more

Monday, 11 April 2016

Israel drops investigation into army colonel's killing of Palestinian teen

The legal division of the Israeli army closed on Sunday an investigation into the killing of a Palestinian teenager last summer by a senior Israeli commander, in a decision Israeli rights group B’Tselem has termed “an integral part” of the Israeli army’s “whitewash mechanism” of its own crimes.

Colonel Yisrael Shomer shot and killed Muhammad Hani al-Kasbah, 17, with bullets in the head and chest on July 3, after the teenager allegedly threw stones at an Israeli military vehicle close to the Qalandiya checkpoint, south of Ramallah.

“The Military Advocate General concluded that the shooting of the perpetrator was not criminal and the event does not justify taking legal action against the officer,” the Israeli army said in a statement on Sunday.

“Col. Shomer exited his vehicle and fired into the air and towards the lower extremities of the assailant. However, due to the reality of the operational situation, the shots resulted in the death of the assailant.” more

Friday, 8 April 2016

Explosive device detonates under Israeli bulldozer in Gaza

An explosive device detonated under an armored Israeli bulldozer on the Palestinian side of the borderline between the Gaza Strip and Israel on Friday, the Israeli army said.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that a D-9 bulldozer from the Israeli military’s engineering unit was performing “routine activity” near the border in the southern end of the strip when the device detonated as the bulldozer drove over it.

No injuries were reported.

Israeli military forces enter the Gaza Strip on a regular basis, most often in the Israeli-enforced “buffer zone” on both land and sea side of the besieged enclave.

Such activity has had devastating impacts on the strip’s fishing and agricultural industries as workers lives are put in danger on a near-daily basis.


Thursday, 7 April 2016

Palestinian hunger-striker's health worsens as Israel moves another to solitary

The health of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Sami al-Janazreh has begun to seriously deteriorate after 36 days without food, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, The Palestine Prisoners’ Center for Studies reported on Thursday that Israeli prisons services moved prisoner Adib Muhammad Jamal Mafarjeh into solitary confinement to pressure him to end his open-ended hunger strike.

PPS reported that al-Janazreh, 43, from the al-Fawwar refugee camp near Hebron, had lost 16 kilograms and was suffering from very low blood pressure.

The organization added that an appeal was held on Thursday at the Ofer prison court over al-Janazreh’s ongoing administrative detention -- internment without charge or trial -- since Nov. 15, but that no decision had been made yet.

The Palestine Prisoners’ Center for Studies said that Mafarjeh, 28, had announced his open hunger strike on April 3 to protest his administrative detention in the Israeli Ktziot prison in the Negev desert.

Mafarjeh, a resident of the central occupied West Bank village of Beit Liqya, has demanded that Israeli authorities stop renewing his detention and release him after 16 months of incarceration. more

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Israel halts cement imports into Gaza Strip

The Israeli authorities on Monday suspended the delivery of cement to the blockaded Gaza Strip, claiming that construction materials were being diverted by the Hamas movement.

In a statement, Israel's Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) accused Imad al-Baz, deputy director of Gaza’s Economy Ministry, of seizing construction materials, and said the import of cement into the Gaza Strip had been suspended “until further notice.”

“This is a clear example of how Hamas continues to abuse and harm Gaza's civil population to advance their own personal agenda,” the statement read.

COGAT had previously accused Hamas of using materials intended for reconstruction to build smuggling tunnels.

Al-Baz denied to AFP that Hamas was siphoning off cement from the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism for its own use.

The United Nations called for a speedy resolution of the issue, emphasizing the important need for construction materials in the besieged Palestinian territory, where the infrastructure and thousands of homes were heavily damaged during a devastating Israeli offensive in 2014.


Hamas fighter dies in accident during Gaza 'mission'

Hamas' military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, said Monday that one of its members had died in an accident during a "jihadi mission" in the northern Gaza Strip.

The brigades said in a statement that 24-year-old Musab Muhammad al-Sheikh, from Jabaliya in northern Gaza, was accidentally shot dead by a bullet from his own gun.

Further details on the circumstances of his death and the nature of the "mission" were not provided.

Al-Sheikh's funeral was scheduled for Monday at 12 p.m. in Jabaliya refugee camp. more

Monday, 4 April 2016

Decision to extend Gaza fishing zone to 9 miles takes effect

An Israeli decision to extend the fishing zone off some parts of the Gaza Strip coast to nine nautical miles took effect early Sunday morning, the Palestinian civil administration said.

Official sources told Ma’an that as of 2 a.m Sunday, Palestinian fishermen would be able to sail for nine nautical miles from Wadi Gaza southward. The fishing zone, the source added, would remain within six nautical miles north of Wadi Gaza.

The source highlighted that the Palestinian Authority’s civil administration committee reached an agreement with Israeli authorities to allow the entry of materials for Gazan fishermen into the besieged enclave. This material includes equipment to repair fishing boats.

An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the extension of the fishing zone to nine nautical miles had gone into effect, adding that the decision was expected to add 400,000 shekels to the fishing industry in the Gaza Strip.

As part of Israel's blockade of the coastal enclave since 2007, Palestinian fishermen have been required to work within a limited "designated fishing zone" off the coast.

The exact limits of the zone are decided by the Israeli authorities and have historically fluctuated, most recently extended to six nautical miles from three, following a ceasefire agreement that ended Israel's 2014 offensive on the Palestinian territory. more