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Fuel shortage in Gaza Strip due to Passover closures

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A Palestinian boy rides his bicycle near the Gazy City power plant on March 15, 2014
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The Gaza Strip is suffering from a fuel shortage due to the repeated closures of the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel over the Passover holidays, officials said on Friday.

Member of the administrative council of petroleum and gas company owners Mohammad al-Abadla told Ma’an that the Gaza Strip has been experiencing a diesel, petrol, and gas crisis for the last 10 days due to a supply shortage, which has been aggravated by closures for the Jewish holiday.

Al-Abadla said that not enough fuel is currently being allowed to enter by Israel, and that any amount currently received is distributed directly to gas stations, which have been left with no fuel reserves.

He added that when the crossing is open around 150 thousand liters of gasoline, 200K-250 thousand liters of diesel, and 200 tons of cooking gas are able to enter into the strip.

The crossing was closed on April 14, 15, and 18 and is scheduled to be closed on April 20, 21, 25, and May 5, 6, as well as June 3 and 4, in addition to weekly closures on Fridays and Saturdays.

Israeli officials also shut down checkpoints for Palestinians across the West Bank for extended periods to mark the Jewish holiday of Passover.

Fuel shortages have been a fact of life in the Gaza Strip since early November, when the strip’s only power plant was forced to shut down for over a month due to the tightening of a 7-year-long blockade imposed on the territory by Israel with Egyptian support.

Although the power plant reopened in December, it has shut down multiple times since due to recurrent shortages, leading to major power cuts for extended periods of time.

Until July of this year, tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt provided a vital lifeline for the territory amidst the otherwise crippling Israeli blockade. The blockade has been in place since 2006, and it has limited imports and exports and led to a major economic decline and wide-reaching humanitarian crisis.

In the last year, however, the situation had greatly improved, as the tunnels to Egypt witnessed a brisk trade following the Egyptian Revolution. Since the coup against Egyptian president Morsi in July, however, Egypt has strictly enforced the blockade and targeted the tunnels.

Gaza Strip energy officials blame Egypt for destroying these tunnels while maintaining the larger economic blockade, along with Israel.

(Source / 18.04.2014)

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April 18, 2014 at 8:55 pm

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Israeli forces wound Palestinian in shooting near Jabaliya

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GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian man near Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday.

Spokesman for the Gaza Strip Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra said that a 24-year-old man was shot by Israeli forces east of Jabaliya and was subsequently transferred to Kamal Adwan Hospital.

Al-Qidra described the injuries sustained by the man as “moderate.”

An Israeli military spokeswoman said that “a crowd of Palestinians gathered in a prohibited area,” and as a result “soldiers tried to distance them using riot dispersal means and warning shots.”

She added that soldiers then opened fire toward the lower extremities of a “main instigator” and identified a hit.

Separately, Israeli forces opened fire on a demonstration around noon near southeast of Gaza City that had been called for in support of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound by the coalition “Palestine Youth Coalition.”

(Source / 18.04.2014)

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April 18, 2014 at 8:33 pm

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Statement by Erekat Marking the Day of the Palestinian Prisoner

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A staggering 800,000 Palestinians have been arrested by Israeli forces since 1967. 5224 remain incarcerated today, including administrative, sick, female and children detainees. These numbers reflect one of the worst experiences of imprisonment in contemporary history, designed to break the will of an entire nation seeking freedom.

United Nations OCHA oPt
United Nations OCHA oPt

RAMALLAH, April 17, 2014 (WAFA) A statement by the Palestine Liberation Organization Negotiations Affairs Department stated that Israel must choose between the pursuit of occupation and the pursuit of peace. Each settlement, each arrest, each violation, each refusal to abide by its commitments and obligations, shows that Israel is heading in the wrong direction. But history teaches us that justice prevails. We follow the example of Nelson Mandela and the people of South Africa. No oppression, no denial of rights can continue forever.

For Palestinians, having loved ones in prison is not the exception: it is something which has affected every Palestinian family. In the context of prolonged occupation, Israel — a foreign military power — has unlawfully imposed itself on the land of another people and has oppressed millions, in many varying ways. The plight of the prisoners reflects the plight of the Palestinian people as a whole, said the statement.

The statement said that Israel has criminalized all forms of resistance, both armed and peaceful, and even political and civic engagement. The Palestinian leadership has chosen to resist through diplomatic and peaceful means, in order to achieve the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights, as enshrined in international law. We now need to demonstrate to our people that this path leads to freedom and justice in an independent and democratic State of Palestine. Exist so that we can coexist.

The release of the Palestinian prisoners will be the first signal that freedom is on the way, said the statement.

Now, we await the release of the remaining 30 Pre-Oslo prisoners still captive in occupation prisons. These are people who have been incarcerated for over 20 years. Karim Younes, the longest serving of these prisoners, has spent over 32 years of his life in Israeli jails.

Israel committed to releasing these prisoners as part of the Oslo Agreement in 1993, again in 1999, through the Sharm el-Sheikh agreement, and a third time in July of 2013. In July, last year, we agreed to postpone our accession to multilateral treaties and conventions for nine months in order to finally release the 104 Pre-Oslo prisoners. We fulfilled our commitment. Israel, yet again, did not.

Where else in the world could a state imprison the elected representatives of another country with such impunity? The national leader Marwan Barghouthi was the first Member of Parliament to be detained. April 15th, 2014 marked the 12th anniversary of his abduction.

There has been a total of 50 Palestinian parliamentarians in Israeli jails at one time or another, equivalent to over one third of the Palestinian Parliament. Eleven remain detained today, including the Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Ahmed Saadat.

The level of support gathered by the International campaign for the freedom of Marwan Barghouthi and all Palestinian prisoners, and the signing of the Robben Island Declaration by prominent international figures, including six Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, church leaders, artists, parliamentarians, human rights figures, trade unions, and thousands of citizens, sends a clear message that must be heard: “freedom of the Palestinian prisoners and freedom of the Palestinian people will pave the way to peace.”

(Source / 17.04.2014)

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April 17, 2014 at 9:32 pm

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Joint Israeli-Palestinian police force searches for suspect in Negev

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BEERSHEBA (Ma’an) — A joint Israeli and Palestinian police forces surrounded an area in the southern Israeli city of Hurah on Thursday in pursuit of a suspected murderer who had escaped from the southern West Bank after a weekend killing but failed to find the suspect, Israeli police said.

Members of the Palestinian and Israeli police forces surrounded an area in pursuit of a suspect in the Bedouin town of Hurah in the Negev, after Palestinian police officers were allowed for what is reportedly the first time ever in joining Israeli police to hunt for a suspect.

A police helicopter was used in a wide-scale hunting operation in the northern Negev and south Hebron hills, although officers had still not found the suspect late Thursday.

Sources told Ma’an that despite a 48-hour closure of the West Bank due to Passover holidays, Palestinian police officers were allowed into Israel and worked side by side with Israeli officers in complete liaison.

The suspect was reportedly involved in the murder of a 16-year-old girl and attempted murder of her 20-year-old sister in the southern West Bank town of As-Samu south of Hebron over the weekend.

16-year-old girl Safaa Salamin was found dead in a field near As-Samu and her sister Maysara, 20, was in critical condition as of Sunday evening.

(Source / 17.04.2014)

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April 17, 2014 at 8:43 pm

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Why is Israel opposed to Palestine joining international treaties?

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UN logo

Last week, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced that he had accepted the application of Palestinians to join 13 international UN conventions. Significantly, these include the Geneva Conventions, which govern the rules of war and military occupation.

Ban informed all 193 UN member states that the application, by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, was made “in due and proper order” and that it would be processed within a month. Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, said that Palestine was ready with more applications to join UN agencies, conventions, and treaties, depending on Israel’s actions.

The question of Palestine’s UN status is a charged one. In November 2012, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to grant Palestine “non-member observer status”. This allowed the Palestinians to participate in General Assembly debates, as well as improving its chances of joining UN agencies and conventions, and the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The decision to seek international recognition and support for an independent Palestinian state along pre-1967 borders reflected intense frustration with the US-led peace process. While some dismissed it as a symbolic and grandstanding move that would have no impact for people on the ground in Palestine, it still caused alarm in Israel, which was concerned that the Palestinians’ ultimate aim was to seek to bring international human rights charges against Israel.

Given this, it is perhaps unsurprising that as a prerequisite for the latest round of talks, spearheaded by US Secretary of State John Kerry, Abbas agreed to stop seeking further UN recognition. That agreement held for the prearranged nine-month period of talks. However, that process is currently floundering, after Israel refused to carry out the last of four prisoner releases that had been agreed at the beginning of the process. Israel wanted a guarantee that the Palestinians would continue to talk after the end of April deadline passed and decided not to release the prisoners. In response, Abbas went back to the UN.

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not pleased, to say the least. The day before Ban announced that the UN would accept the Palestinian application, Israel said that it would impose sanctions against the Palestinian Authority. This was in retaliation for the request to join international conventions. Netanyahu ordered all government ministries to halt cooperation with Palestinian entities. He placed a particular emphasis on meetings between Israeli ministers and their Palestinian counterparts.

In the past, Israel has hit out at this “unilateral” action by the Palestinians at the UN, arguing that it will hinder the peace process and complicate matters because there is no universally recognized Palestinian state.

But clearly, the anxiety in Israel stems from the fact that many of its actions – not least, settlement building – are illegal under international law. One area of particular concern is the Geneva Convention’s prohibition of colonizing occupied land. Israel has argued that this should not apply to settlement activity in the West Bank and Gaza because the sovereignty of the two territories is unclear: they were ruled by Jordan and Egypt before 1967, and Palestine has never had its own full state. Israel also argues that east Jerusalem should not be considered occupied land because the state has extended citizenship rights to Arab citizens (only a few thousand of the city’s quarter of a million Arab residents have taken it up). Allowing Palestine to be party to this convention is a significant development that has been a long time coming: the Palestinian Liberation Organisation first tried to join the Geneva Conventions in 1989 but was rebuffed by the Swiss Foreign Ministry “due to the uncertainty within the international community as to the existence or non-existence of a State of Palestine.”

This has not happened yet, but if Palestine is allowed to sign up to the Rome Statute, the founding document of the ICC, it could ask prosecutors to investigate Israel for crimes against humanity, for instance in the 2008 assault on Gaza. Ultimately, the more recognition the Palestinian Authority obtains, the more conventions and organisations it becomes party to, the greater recourse to international justice it has. Speaking to Middle East Monitor last year, the Israeli historian Avi Shlaim said that the initial accession to non-member observer status was significant: “It means the Palestinians are cutting their losses with Netanyahu and Obama,” he said. “On 99 per cent of the permanent status issues, international legality supports the Palestinian position.”

Writing in the Haaretz newspaper last week, journalist Zvi Ba’arel argued that Netanyahu’s sanctions – which could potentially include the withholding of tax that Israel collects on behalf of the PA, as well as resurrecting dismantled checkpoints and restricting business travel – are counter-productive. “The actual goal of the sanctions is unclear. If Netanyahu pressures Abbas to retract Palestine’s signatures from the UN treaties, he is likely to see Abbas sign the Rome Statute as well,” he wrote. “If Netanyahu is trying to prove how strong Israel is, the sanctions actually show Israel’s weakness, as the Palestinians have already shown they are not scared of a more brutal occupation.”

As with the original bid for UN membership, this move by Abbas demonstrates frustration with the peace process and a lack of hope that it is heading anywhere. Whether it will provide relief for people in the West Bank or Gaza remains a point of debate, but it certainly represents an attempt to up the pressure on Israel and the US.

(Source / 17.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 17, 2014 at 8:17 pm

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‘5,000 Palestinians still in Israel jails’

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Palestinian inmates at Israel’s notorious Megiddo Prison (file photo)

Palestinian inmates at Israel’s notorious Megiddo Prison

The Palestinian Ministry of Detainees and Ex-detainees Affairs says 5,000 Palestinian inmates remain in Israeli prisons.

Out of the 5,000 inmates 476 are sentenced to life imprisonment, according to the ministry report released Wednesday, which was Prisoner Day.

The report, released by Palestine Information Center, also pointed to other scandalous facts regarding the fate of Palestinian inmates in Israeli prison, including the incarceration of 19 Palestinian women and 200 children.

Several Palestinian minors have grown to maturity inside the Israeli prison systems, the report said.

Over 180 Palestinians are under administrative detention. Eleven lawmakers and several political leaders are also held in 22 Israeli prisons, the Palestinian ministry report stated.

Over the past decades, the Palestinian socio-political scene in the occupied West Bank has been overwhelmed by such Israeli detention campaigns.

Human rights organizations say the detentions executed by Israeli authorities have been explicit breaches of the international humanitarian law.

Palestinians have been held in the most horrible detention circumstances in Israeli jails and have been subject to deadly torture procedures, official Palestinian statistics show.

Reports say the Palestinian detainees have not only undergone physical or psychological torture but have also been publically humiliated and tortured, at times in the presence of their families and children.

(Source / 17.04.2014)

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April 17, 2014 at 8:05 pm

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Jewish holiday increases violence in Hebron

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Pesach, or Passover, started Monday 14th April and is a seven day long holiday where many zionist tourists and settlers from illegal settlements travel to al-Khalil (Hebron). Increased violence and attacks towards Palestinians occurs during many Jewish holidays. During the holiday, entry into historic Palestine (the current state of Israeli) is completely closed to Palestinians, even those with the correct permits.

Restriction of movement is also inflicted on the Palestinians living within al-Khalil itself, as checkpoints and many local shops are forced to close, while settlers and Zionist tourists go on ‘tours’ guarded by Israeli soldiers and border police. The amount of tourists in al-Khalil during these seven days is estimated to be approximately 7000 people.

Yesterday afternoon, Israeli forces closed the main road in the center of al-Khalil, in order to allow settlers access to the Tomb of Othniel Ben Knaz, which is located in H1. Thousands of Hebronites were hugely disrupted as the major Palestinian access road was blocked by a mobile barrier and then occupied by hundreds of Israeli soldiers.

Many Palestinians in the recent days have expressed anxiety over the escalating violence during the holiday. In al-Khalil there is normally one “settler tour” every Saturday, when settlers from the illegal settlements enter the souq (market) accompanied by soldiers. During the tours they often harass the shop owners and Palestinian souq visitors. During Pesach, and particularly today, Thursday the 17th, many groups of tourists and settlers have toured through the market.

The checkpoint between the souq and the mosque has been closed since yesterday morning, stopping the Muslim population from entering the mosque. The closing of the checkpoint also means that local children are forced to walk a much longer path to school.

The school children in al-Khalil have suffered this holiday in several ways. Due to the increased military presence of Israeli soldiers, schools have finished earlier, although the children have still been forced to pass through large groups of soldiers while leaving and entering their schools. This morning ISM witnessed children forming ‘chains’ to avoid being split up while passing the soldiers. One teacher from a local primary school stated that only 25% of the pupils has been present in school today. An ISMer noted: “We see the kids walk through these checkpoints every day, but it is obvious that they have been even more scared these past days.

Israeli soldiers close to a school in Hebron (photo by ISM)

In addition to Pesach today it is also Prisoners Day, which has been highlighted with demonstrations all across the West Bank. In al-Khalil, families was gathering outside the stadium to pray for their imprisoned loved ones. Many had brought pictures of their family members and friends, and the people of al-Khalil, together with many organisations and political parties, was there to show their support for the prisoners. An ISMer at the demo said: “There was a lot of different speakers, drums and music, and I think the participants in the demonstration shows how Palestinians unite in solidarity for the prisoners.”

Prisoner Day demonstration (photo by ISM)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=wZD7X1LLMJ8

In recent days, stun grenades have been echoing through the city, accompanied by rubber-coated steel bullets and much tear gas. For the past three days, clashes have broken out between Palestinian youths and the Israeli army, with young Palestinians throwing stones, while the Israeli military fires their weapons. At the moment ISM has no exact information about how many people were injured in the clashes, but today an ISMer was informed by a participant in the clashes that rubber-coated steel bullets injured five young people today.

(Source / 17.04.2014)

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April 17, 2014 at 7:44 pm

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Israeli forces injure 30 Palestinians in al-Aqsa

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Israeli forces have shot and wounded at least 30 Palestinians in the al-Aqsa Mosque in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Local sources said that clashes erupted between the Israeli forces and Palestinian worshippers in the mosque compound when Israeli settlers entered the holy site on Wednesday.

According to witnesses, Israeli troops raided the mosque to protect the settlers. They said the forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the worshippers.

“About 1,000 Israeli officers stormed the compound,” Palestinian Ma’an news agency quoted Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, the director-general of Muslim endowments and Al-Aqsa affairs, as saying.

In recent months, Israeli forces and illegal settlers have stepped up their attacks on Palestinians visiting the mosque. This has led to violent confrontations between the two sides.

On Sunday, clashes broke out between Israeli forces and Palestinians at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound when Israeli police prevented Muslims from entering one of the gates of the compound.

Israeli forces used stun grenades to disperse protesters.

The Israeli regime has also imposed severe restrictions to stop Muslim worshippers from entering the mosque.

On February 25, the Israeli parliament (Knesset) discussed a plan to annex the compound.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has condemned the Knesset move as a “dangerous escalation,” calling it part of Israel’s goal to “Judaize Jerusalem.”

The al-Aqsa compound, which lies in the Israeli-occupied Old City of al-Quds, is a flashpoint. The compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount is Islam’s third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

(Source / 16.04.2014)

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April 16, 2014 at 9:23 pm

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3 Palestinians killed, 11 wounded in Khan Younis explosion

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KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)– Three Palestinian civilians were killed and eleven others were severely injured on Wednesday morning following an internal explosion at a Palestinian resistance site in al-Manara quarter south of the Gaza Strip.

PIC news reporter quoted Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra as saying that three bodies and eleven injured Palestinians, all unidentified, were transferred to the European Gaza hospital in the aftermath of a mysterious explosion.

Local sources further confirmed to PIC news reporter that another explosion rocked the area during the evacuation mission, leading to more casualties, including civil defense personnel.

Iyad al-Bazm, Interior Ministry’s spokesman, documented the severe injury of four civil defense personnel while they were trying to evacuate the wounded civilians. One among the civil defense crew was seriously wounded and is in critical condition.

Special security forces are encircling the area, where an investigation procedure has already been initiated, as further maintained by al-Bazm.

(Source / 16.04.2014)

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April 16, 2014 at 8:58 pm

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Three Hamas members killed in Gaza blasts

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Interior Ministry launches investigation after explosions reportedly kill three members of the Hamas armed wing.

It was not immediately clear what caused the blasts on Wednesday [Reuters]
Gaza Strip – Three Palestinian fighters have been killed after a series of explosions near the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis, witnesses and officials said.

It was not immediately clear what caused the blasts on Wednesday, but officials swiftly ruled out the possibility of an Israeli airstrike.

Ashraf al-Qedra, a spokesperson for Gaza’s Health Ministry, said a blast at a training site for a Palestinian resistance group killed three people and wounded five. But witnesses said the explosions occurred in a house, not at a training site.

Shehab, a Gaza-based news agency and a mouthpiece for the ruling faction Hamas, said the dead were members of the Hamas armed wing, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

Among the wounded were firefighters who rushed to the scene after the first blast.

Police imposed a security cordon around the blast site, while Eyad Al-Bozom, an Interior Ministry spokesperson, said in a statement that an investigation was underway into the circumstances of the explosions.

Also on Wednesday, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya called on Egypt to open its borders with Gaza for the movement of people and goods.

“Out of love and the endorsement of the historical role of our brothers in Egypt, we call on Egypt to reopen Rafah crossing point and constantly let everything in for Gaza,” Haniya said as he visited the sites of construction projects funded by Qatar.

Materials for the projects – which include a new housing complex, a hospital and the rehabilitation of major roads – come through Rafah crossing point, but they are delivered only when the crossing is open.

Egypt keeps has kept the crossing mostly closed since the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi last summer.

(Source / 16.04.2014)

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April 16, 2014 at 8:23 pm

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