Monday, 27 February 2017

Israeli army hits Gaza with multiple airstrikes, injuring 4 Palestinians


The Israeli army targeted multiple sites across the besieged Gaza Strip with airstrikes and artillery fire midday Monday leaving at least four Palestinians injured, hours after an Israeli army spokesperson said that a rocket fired from Gaza landed in an open area in southern Israel that caused no injuries or damages.

Witnesses said Israeli fighter jets launched two missiles at a Hamas military site known as the Shuhada ("martyrs" in Arabic) post just after 1 p.m. in the central Gaza Strip, near the coast and west of Nuseirat refugee camp. Other local Palestinian news sites said five missiles were fired in the area.

Shortly after, an Israeli reconnaissance plane fired a missile at a monitoring post east of Rafah city in the southern Gaza Strip, as Israeli fighter jets fired three missiles at the Hitteen post in Beit Lahiya in the northern region of the small Palestinian territory.

A separate strike in the Nahda neighborhood of Rafah left three Palestinians moderately injured, according to local sources. Gaza's Ministry of Health later reported that a total of four people were injured in the strikes. more

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Elor Azarya sentenced to only 18 months in prison for killing wounded Palestinian


After being found guilty of manslaughter for the filmed, execution-style shooting of 21-year-old Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif, 20-year-old Israeli soldier Elor Azarya was sentenced to 18 months in prison, a year's probation, and a demotion in his military rank on Tuesday.

The prosecution had sought a three- to five-year prison sentence for the killing, with the maximum sentence for manslaughter being 20 years in prison.

The sentence was scheduled to begin on March 5, though Azarya’s defense team said it would submit an appeal to block the sentence, saying it had a “good chance” and “nothing to lose,” according to reports from Israeli media from inside the courtroom.

After al-Sharif and Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, also 21, allegedly carried out a stabbing attack on another soldier in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron last March, al-Qasrawi was fatally shot, while al-Sharif was shot and left severely wounded on the ground for several minutes before Azarya stepped forward and shot him in the head, with a number of witnesses quoting him as saying "This dog is still alive" and "This terrorist deserves to die" before pulling the trigger.

Leading up to the announcement of the sentence, the panel of three judges weighed the “complexity” and “competing values” of the case; while they agreed that Azarya acted with the intent to kill and not because he felt threatened, a two-judge majority believed the “unique post-terror attack” atmosphere should work heavily in his favor. more

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Israel delivers demolition orders to 40 homes, school in Bedouin community


Israeli forces raided the Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank northeast of Jerusalem on Sunday morning to deliver demolition orders to classrooms for the village's primary school, locals told Ma'an, while 40 homes in the community were also reportedly delivered demolition orders.

Locals told Ma'an that Israeli forces surrounded the school -- which has been threatened with demolition by the Israeli government for years -- as faculty and students were prevented from accessing the building.

Israeli soldiers imposed a military closure on Khan al-Ahmar before they stormed the village's school to deliver the demolition warrants, sources said.

Official Palestinian news agency Wafa meanwhile reported that Israeli authorities also issued demolition order against 40 Palestinian-owned houses in Khan al-Ahmar on Sunday morning.

Eid al-Jahalin, a witness, told Wafa that Israeli forces raided the area in the early dawn hours and notified residents that they had until Feb. 23 to leave their homes.

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Thursday, 16 February 2017

Israeli, Palestinian officials react to Trump's shift away from 2-state solution

Following a controversial meeting held Wednesday between US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli and Palestinian leaders reacted with praise and condemnation in response to a clear shift in US policy away from backing the two-state solution.

Trump responded to a question on Wednesday regarding his administration’s position on the two-state solution during a press conference preceding the meeting, a day after a US official said that the country was not necessarily committed to the policy as the sole way out of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like,” Trump said, eliciting laughter from Netanyahu. “I can live with either one.”

While members of the international community have rested the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the discontinuation of illegal Israeli settlements and the establishment of a two-state solution, a growing number of Palestinian activists have criticized the two-state solution as unsustainable and unlikely to bring durable peace given the existing political context, proposing instead a binational state with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians.

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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Palestinian teens detail their torture at the hands of Israeli authorities


Two Palestinian teenagers held in Israel’s Ofer detention center have been shot, abused, and tortured during their detention and interrogation by Israeli authorities, according to a statement released Tuesday by the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs.

Lawyer for the committee Hussein al-Araj said that 17-year-old Musab Muhammad Ghuneimat from Surif in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron and 16-year-old Ayid Amr from Dura in the Hebron district told him they were tortured in Israeli custody.

Ghneimat was was shot and injured in the foot by Israeli forces on Oct. 23, 2015, after he allegedly stabbed an Israeli soldier.

He told the lawyer that after soldiers claimed he carried out a stabbing attack, they chased after him and shot him in the foot, immobilizing him. After he stopped, an Israeli soldier fired two rounds on the ground near him and a third at his wounded foot from point-blank range.

Minutes later, he added, an Israeli ambulance arrived to evacuate him. "I almost fainted, but the soldiers kept hitting me on the shoulder to keep me awake."

He said that he was then taken to Israel’s Hadassah Hospital where he was held for 18 days, saying he was interrogated before receiving treatment for his injuries. more

Monday, 13 February 2017

Israeli naval forces open fire at Palestinian fishermen in Gaza


Israeli naval boats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the besieged Gaza Strip on two separate occasions Sunday night and Monday morning, with no injuries reported in either case.

Fishermen told Ma’an that Israeli forces opened live fire at fishermen off the coast of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday evening, forcing fishermen to sail to shore who said they feared for their safety.

Separately on Monday morning, Israeli naval forces opened fire at fishermen sailing north of Gaza City.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an she would look into reports of the incidents.

Israeli army incursions inside the besieged Palestinian territory have long been a near-daily occurrence, as the Israeli army regularly opens fire on unarmed Palestinian fishermen and farmers along the border areas if they approach Israel’s unilaterally declared “buffer zone,” which lies on both the land and sea sides of Gaza. more

Sunday, 12 February 2017

NFL players pull out of Israel propaganda tour


Immediately after contributing to his team’s Super Bowl victory last Sunday, Martellus Bennett of the New England Patriots was asked what he thought about an upcoming visit to Mexico to represent the National Football League (NFL).

“Tear down the wall! Tear down the wall! That’s what I think about going to Mexico,” he cried.

Bennett then became the first of a number of Patriots players who confirmed they would skip a visit with President Donald Trump at the White House. more

Egypt opens Rafah crossing to humanitarian cases for 2nd day


Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the besieged Gaza Strip on Sunday morning for the second of three days during which Egypt decided to open the terminal for humanitarian cases.

According to the Palestinian borders and crossings committee, 325 passengers left Gaza to travel to Egypt on Saturday, including holders of Egyptian passports. In addition, 183 passengers arrived to Gaza from Egypt through the crossing.

The committee highlighted that two Palestinians who died in Egypt were brought to Gaza for burial via Rafah.

Egyptian authorities denied 11 Palestinians entry into Egypt on Saturday, the reasons for the denials being unknown. more

Thursday, 9 February 2017

2 Palestinians killed, 5 injured in reported airstrike on southern Gaza tunnel


Two Palestinians were killed and five were injured during a reported airstrike on a smuggling tunnel between Egypt and Gaza on Wednesday night, official Palestinian sources said.

Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said on Thursday that Hussam Hamid al-Sufi, 24, from the town of Rafah, and Muhammad Anwar al-Aqraa, a 38-year-old resident of Gaza City, were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, while five other Palestinians were injured.

An Israeli army spokesperson however denied to Ma’an that the army was involved in the reported strike.

However, Israeli media stated that the alleged tunnel attack came in the wake of four rockets being fired from the blockaded Palestinian territory towards the southern Israeli city of Eilat. No casualties were reported in the incident.

The casualties came in the wake of multiple airstrikes launched by the Israeli army inside the Gaza Strip on Monday which injured two Palestinians, after a rocket that landed in an open area in the Ashkelon region of southern Israel.

The Gaza-based al-Mezan Center for Human Rights expressed concern on Tuesday that Israel could be leading up to a wide-scale military offensive. more

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Israeli forces continue airstrikes in Gaza, 2 Palestinians injured


Israeli forces resumed attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip Monday evening, injuring two Palestinians, after injuring a Palestinian earlier Monday in a series of Israeli army airstrikes in northern Gaza, in response to a rocket that landed in an open area in the Ashkelon region of southern Israel Monday morning.

Witnesses told Ma'an that at least eight Israeli missiles were fired at several locations across the besieged coastal enclave.

One airstrike hit agricultural land in the center of Khan Yunis city in the southern Gaza Strip. A spokesman of the Gaza Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra confirmed that two people were injured in Khan Yunis.

According to locals, the airstrikes hit a “resistance” military post as well as an agricultural area east of Gaza City in the northern Gaza Strip, in addition to the al-Shujaiyya neighborhood in Gaza City, causing damages to several residential buildings.

The air strikes also hit agricultural lands east of al-Maghazi and al-Bureij refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip. more

Monday, 6 February 2017

Israeli army shells positions in Gaza after rocket falls in southern Israel


An Israeli army tank fired two shells into eastern Beit Lahiya in the northern besieged Gaza Strip on Monday morning, locals sources said, after a rocket landed in an open area in the Ashkelon region of southern Israel, according to the Israeli army. The cross-border fire came after locals in Gaza reported two separate incidents of Israeli forces opening fire at them.

The Israeli army confirmed in a statement after 10 a.m. that a tank fired into the northern Gaza Strip, claiming they were targeting a Hamas post, saying the artillery fire came in response to a projectile that was fired from Gaza about an hour earlier.

The Israeli army said the rocket landed in an open area in Ashkelon, reporting no injuries or damages.

Meanwhile, locals reported earlier Monday that Israeli forces fired at Palestinian locals and fishermen in two separate incidents, while Israeli bulldozers also made an incursion into central Gaza to level lands. more

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Israeli court in Jerusalem sentences 16-year-old Palestinian girl to 6 years in prison


An Israeli court on Sunday morning sentenced a teenage Palestinian girl from Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem to six years in prison after she was charged with knife possession and planning a stab attack.

Hayat Shweiki told Ma'an that the Jerusalem magistrate's court formally sentenced her daughter Manar Majdi Shweiki to six years in prison after the girl had already spent more than a year in detention, highlighting that the court postponed the sentencing twice since the beginning of 2017.

Her lawyer Mustafa Yahya said last week that the ruling was postponed because the court was awaiting a report regarding Shweiki's behavior over the course of her detention, though Yahya said at the time he already reached a plea bargain with the Israeli prosecution that determined the six-year sentence.

Since her detention in December last year, Shweiki has been moved between Israel's Ramla and HaSharon prisons.

Israeli police first detained her on Dec. 6 in the Wadi Hilweh area of the Silwan, claiming they found a knife in her bag after searching her belongings, though it was unclear what had prompted the search in the first place. more

Friday, 3 February 2017

Israel to return slain Palestinian after holding body for over a week


sraeli authorities decided on Thursday evening to return the body of slain Palestinian Hussein Salem Abu Ghush to his family in the Qalandiya refugee camp in the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Abu Ghush was killed by Israeli authorities on Jan. 25 for allegedly attempting a car-ramming attack at a bus-stop near Kochav Yaakov, an illegal Israeli settlement directly southeast of Ramallah.

At the time of Abu Ghush’s death, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that "in response to the immediate threat, Israeli forces fired at the assailant, resulting in his death," further claiming that Israeli soldiers found a knife in the Palestinian's vehicle.

She added that no Israelis were injured in the incident.

Witnesses told Ma'an at the time that Israeli soldiers left Abu Ghush bleeding on the ground until he died, before putting him in a black body bag and putting him into a military vehicle headed towards Jerusalem.

At the time of his death, Abu Ghush was the seventh out of now eight Palestinians to have been killed by Israeli forces in 2017. more

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Israeli forces open fire at Palestinian fishermen, farmers in Gaza


Israeli forces opened live fire at Palestinian lands east of Gaza city, while Israeli naval forces also opened fire on fishermen off the coast of Beit Lahiya in the northern part of the besieged enclave on Thursday morning. Witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli forces stationed behind the border fence between Gaza and Israel opened live fire at Palestinian farmers. No injuries were reported. Witnesses also told Ma’an that Israeli forces opened live fire at fishermen off the coast of Beit Lahiya, without any injuries being reported. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an she would look into reports. more

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Egypt closes Rafah crossing after 4-day opening


Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday after four days of opening it in both directions.

The Gaza borders and crossings committee said that 2,624 Palestinians were permitted to leave the besieged coastal enclave during the four days, including humanitarian cases and Egyptian passport holders.

The committee added that the Gaza Strip received 3,095 Palestinians returning to the small Palestinian territory, while Egyptian authorities denied passage to 203 passengers for unspecified reasons.

The crossing initially opened on Saturday for three days, but Egyptian authorities decided on Monday to keep the crossing open on Tuesday.

Two travelers died “of natural causes” at the crossing on Sunday, the Palestinian border committee said on Monday, without providing further details on the circumstances surrounding the deaths. However, many of the Palestinians who are given priority to leave the blockaded Palestinian enclave are seeking medical treatment abroad.

Prior to the four-day opening, the Rafah crossing had been closed for 38 days. more