New Israeli military base opens near Egyptian borders

Israeli soldier in full combat gear [file photo]

Israeli soldier in full combat gear [file photo]

An Israeli military base with training facilities for four brigades dedicated to protect Egypt’s borders is set to be opened in Egypt, Yedioth Ahronoth revealed yesterday.

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman will take part in the opening of the base, which will be located on the borders of Sinai.

In July National Security Council officials told a Knesset committee that Israel is interested in maintaining good security ties with the Egyptian Army.

Read more: Israel discusses reopening its embassy in Egypt

The Israeli army has allocated 60 million shekels ($16.5 million) to the base which includes funds for military training and a leadership course for the four ground brigades who will be based there.

The commander of the base Jimy bin Yagar said: “Training and rehabilitation on this base will be given to each brigade based on its specialism and mission… we will have an electronic set that simulates live fire… basic training lasts for 16 weeks followed with four months of operations.”

(Source / 17.08.2017)

Siege leads Gaza’s Qurbani market to crash

MEMO's week in pictures

In contrast to past years, there are almost no donations for Qurbani in the Gaza Strip this year due to the economic conditions and severe humanitarian crises in the besieged Strip.

A cattle dealer and a government official told the Anadolu Agency that livestock markets are experiencing very low demands in spite of their being large numbers of animals available for slaughter.

The power crisis has also reduced people’s abilities to store meat as refrigerators are unable to work.

During Eid Al-Adha, which falls at the start of September this year, Muslims will sacrifice an animal and distribute its meat to those less fortunate and share it amongst friends and family.

At a cattle breeding farm in Beit Hanoun, north of Gaza, Amjad Abu Ajina expressed disappointment at the reduced purchasing power in the enclave which is home to more than two million people.

Making a sacrifice

“I am waiting for the Qurbani season to sell cattle. This is the only source of income for my family and I,” he said.

“The difficult economic situation in which Gazans live has stopped locals from buying sacrificial animals,” he added.

Many of my customers are working classes; they have stopped buying Qurbani meat as they have been affected by the Palestinian government’s decision to cut their salaries.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has recently tightened Israel’s ten-year siege on  the Gaza Strip by reducing or stopping the salaries of government employees in the enclave, stopping electricity payments for the supply of power to Gaza and by forcing large numbers of workers into early retirement.

Abbas said the measures would cease once Hamas, which runs the Strip, steps down and hands over power to him.

The Gaza economy was largely dependent on monthly salaries paid by the government in the occupied West Bank.

Unemployment in the Gaza Strip has reached 60 per cent amongst the youth, according to official Palestinian statistics.

PA staff member, Mohammed Ahmed, said he was unable to buy for a Qurbani this year because of the poor economic conditions in Gaza, in addition to the large reduction in his salary.

“Every year I have to split with six of my relatives a share in a cow, where the individual pays about $400, but this year it is very difficult although the price is lower than in previous years.”

(Source / 17.08.2017)

NGO: Palestinian territory facing ‘worsening child protection crisis’

Kids Palestine

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Ahead of World Humanitarian Day, to be marked on August 19th, as the United Nations (UN) prepares a global awareness campaign on the impact of conflict on humanitarian aid workers and the broader civil society, including children and families, the occupied Palestinian territory is facing a “worsening child protection crisis” brought on by 50 years of Israel’s military occupation, according to Jennifer Moorehead, director of Save the Children – Palestine.

“Today, there are more than 2 million Palestinian children who face increasing violations of their rights: displacement and forcible transfer, the demolition and destruction of homes and schoolsarbitrary arrest and detention, harassment at checkpoints, and frequent violence and intimidation when they are simply trying to reach school, as well as when they are at school,” Moorehead said in a statement Thursday.
Moorehead highlighted the increasing erosion of children’s “basic right to education” in the occupied Palestinian territory, noting that there are more than 50 schools in the West Bank that have pending demolition orders or stop-work orders from the Israeli authorities.
“Just this week the kindergarten and elementary school in the Bedouin community of Abu Nuwar had their solar panels and batteries removed by the Israeli civil administration, limiting the school’s ability to function and denying children their basic rights,” the statement said.
According to Save the Children, in 2016 alone, there were “256 education-related violations” documented by UNICEF and Save the Children, affecting the education of 29,230 Palestinian students.
Between January and March 2017, the group documented 24 cases of “direct attacks” against Palestinian schools; many Palestinian students often come under fire from tear gas canisters and sound bombs on their way to school.
In 2016, more than 20,000 pupils lost important school time due to obstructions,such as delays at checkpoints or areas declared closed for Israeli military use, as well as the arrest and detention of children in and around schools, Moorehead said.
In the case of Gaza, where more than two million Palestinians suffer under a crippling Israeli siege, the humanitarian crisis has been exacerbated by an ongoing electricity crisis, that has left Gazans with little more than three to four hours of electricity a day.
“The education sector is facing a crisis of its own,” Moorehead noted, highlighting that 70.4 percent of UNRWA schools and 62.8 percent of schools run by the Ministry of Education operate on a double or triple shift system and are struggling to accommodate such a high number of students.
Moorehead said that as the start of the new school year is just weeks away, the energy shortages “will have a devastating impact on the ability of schools to operate and provide a safe environment for children to learn.”
“Save the Children, along with other agencies and partners, calls upon world leaders to take action to protect children’s inalienable right to safe access to a quality education and to guarantee the special protection afforded to children in areas of conflict,” she said.
“We call upon all duty bearers and world leaders to address the growing child protection risks in the education sector; to support and endorse the Safe Schools Declaration and the related Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military use; and to take concrete and immediate steps towards the demilitarisation of school spaces so that children have safe access to education.”
In a June report, the Palestinian Ministry of Information said that some 12,000 Palestinian children were detained by Israel in the span of 17 years, adding that the overwhelming majority of them were beaten or tortured while in Israeli custody, handcuffed, blindfolded, and forced to confess to charges in the absence of a lawyer or guardian.
In addition to the violence inflicted by Israeli forces, the ministry of Information deplored the effect of the decaying economic situation across the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly in the besieged Gaza Strip, on Palestinian children, forcing many children to drop out of school and join the labor market.
Quoting a 2013 report by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the ministry stated that 4.1 percent of Palestinians between the ages of 10 and 17 were in the work force, while a more recent report by the Palestinian Ministry of Labor estimated that 102,000 Palestinian minors were working.
The Ma’an Development Center — which is not related to Ma’an news agency — has attributed the significant rate of child labor to poor conditions in Palestinian schools, particularly in rural areas of the occupied West Bank, where severe shortages of supplies and funding , as well as the long distances children need to travel to attend class, push many to drop out.
The Ministry of Information, meanwhile mentioned the case of Palestinian children in occupied East Jerusalem, 85 percent of whom live under the poverty line, who face a 40 percent drop-out rate in high schools, notably due to an estimated shortage of 1,000 classrooms in the city.

(Source / 17.08.2017)

Hamas security officer killed, 1 injured in suicide bombing attack on Gaza-Egypt border

Nidal al-Jaafari

Hamas security officer Nidal al-Jaafari was killed Thursday morning in a suicide bombing attack

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A Palestinian member of Hamas security forces in Gaza was killed and another was injured when an unidentified assailant blew himself up near the Egypt-Gaza border at dawn on Thursday.

Spokesperson of the Gaza Ministry of Interior and National Security Iyad al-Bazm said that a “security incident” occurred early Thursday morning near the southern borders of the Gaza Strip, when two unidentified men, coming from the Egyptian side of the border, approached the two security officers station on the Gaza side of the border.
According to al-Bazm, the security forces called for the two men to stop, after which one of the men blew himself up.Al-Bazm identified the slain security officer as Nidal al-Jaafari, who was also a fighter in the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas movement, which serves as the de facto leadership of the Gaza Strip. The identity of the injured security officer remained unknown.Meanwhile, the conditions of the two assailants also remained unknown.Al-Bazm said that security forces had started investigations into the incident, adding that prior to the attack, the ministry of interior had set up a “buffer zone” on the Palestinian side of the border with Egypt “to prevent militants from smuggling themselves into Gaza from the Sinai Peninsula.”
The incidents came as the latest of a string of deadly encounters in the North Sinai district, amid an ongoing battle waged by the Egyptian government against an insurgency in the region, with Egyptian authorities holding the local affiliate of the Islamic State responsible for the majority of attacks.
Fighting between Egyptian forces and the Sinai Province — formerly known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis — has escalated since Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi took power from Muhammad Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, and has since left hundreds killed, including civilians, security forces, and alleged militants.
Since al-Sisi came to power, Egypt has strictly enforced the Israeli blockade of Gaza and flooded hundreds of the tunnels as part of an ongoing security campaign in the northern Sinai Peninsula against anti-regime militants.
Egypt accuses Hamas, the de facto ruling party in Gaza, of supporting the insurgents, allegations Hamas strongly denies.
While Hamas has consistently denied past allegations of involvement in the Sinai insurgency, Hamas has a vested interest in increasing security cooperation with Egypt, amid a diplomatic siege by Egypt and other Arab countries on Hamas’ long-time supporter Qatar, where the former head of Hamas’ politburo was based.
Now that Hamas’ leadership is concentrated in Gaza, the political party is dependent on the goodwill of the Egyptian government to maintain its leaders’ freedom of movement through their shared border, where Cairo has enforced a brutal, decade-long Israeli siege.
Hamas officials have held a number of meetings and implemented a series of measures in recent months regarding improving relations based on increasing cross border security, which included the construction of the 100-meter-wide military buffer zone.

(Source / 17.08.2017)

Palestinian shot during Israeli raid on al-Duheisha camp remains in critical condition

Raed al-Salhi

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — An injured Palestinian detainee who was shot and detained by Israeli forces during a predawn raid last week in the al-Duheisha refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank, remained in critical condition as of Thursday in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at an Israeli hospital, according to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs.

Committee lawyer Karim Ajweh released a statement Thursday following a visit he paid to the injured detainee, Raed al-Salhi, at the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem.
According to Ajweh, al-Salhi has undergone several surgeries since he was shot and detained on August 7th.
Ajweh added that al-Salhi was shot seven times in the abdomen and thigh, severely damaging his kidneys, and has received several blood transfusions to treat his kidney injuries.Abd al-Aziz Arafeh, who was detained along with al-Salhi after being shot in his left leg, is in stable condition, according to Ajweh, who noted that Arafeh is set to undergo another surgery in the coming days.
A court session is scheduled to take place on Thursday at the Ofer military court regarding Arafeh and al-Salhi’s detentions, though the two will not be present due to their conditions.
Israeli raids in Palestinian towns, villages, and refugee camps are a daily occurrence in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Due to the typically aggressive nature of the raids, clashes often erupt between local Palestinian youth who throw stones and are met in response with live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets, and tear gas, often resulting in serious, sometimes fatal, injuries.
Rights groups have routinely condemned Israeli authorities for their use of excessive force against Palestinians, particularly in refugee camps, during incidents that did not warrant a violent response.

(Source / 17.08.2017)

Abbas: Gaza to Face Further Cuts if Hamas Refuses PA “Reconciliation” Terms

17 AUG
4:33 AM

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated threats against the Hamas movement, the de facto ruling party in the besieged Gaza Strip, on Tuesday, threatening further repressive measures should Hamas not unconditionally abide by the PA’s demands to resolve the decade-long intra-Palestinian conflict.

Numerous attempts have been made in the past to reconcile Hamas and Fateh since they came into violent conflict in 2007, shortly after Hamas’ 2006 victory in general elections held in the Gaza Strip. However, Palestinian leadership has repeatedly failed to follow through on promises of reconciliations, as both movements have frequently blamed each other for numerous political failures.

The PA has been the focus of fierce condemnation in recent months after being accused of deliberately sending the impoverished Gaza Strip further into a humanitarian catastrophe — by slashing funding for Israeli fuel, medicine, and salaries for civil servants and former prisoners — in order to wrest control of the territory from Hamas.

The PA has demanded that Hamas accept its terms for any possible reconciliation: ending the Hamas-run administrative committee in Gaza, relinquishing control of the besieged coastal territory to the PA, and holding presidential and legislative elections.

During a meeting with officials from Fateh — the ruling party of the occupied West Bank-based PA, of which Abbas is also the leader — in Ramallah, the Palestinian leader said that the severe funding cuts were “a clear signal to the Hamas movement that it is critical that it backtracks on its procedures … to allow the national consensus government to work in the Gaza Strip and carry out general elections.”

“We clearly tell Hamas that we are ready to take back these measures” if the group abided by the PA’s demands, Abbas said, according to Ma’an News Agency.

But, if the Hamas movement continued to reject the PA’s conditions, Abbas warned, “we will continue our measures, which will escalate.”

Despite humanitarian organizations expressing alarm over the dire situation in the Gaza Strip, Abbas claimed that the measures taken by the PA were not intended to punish Palestinians living in the blockaded coastal enclave, but as a signal to Hamas leadership to back down.

Abbas went on to call Fateh the “initiator” of the Palestinian national unity project, adding that the political party was the best hope for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital as part of a two-state solution — despite critics warning that such a political solution was no longer feasible due to the extreme right’s takeover of Israeli politics.

Earlier this month, the Hamas movement announced its readiness to do away with its administrative committee in Gaza, should the PA retract all punitive measures imposed on the besieged coastal enclave in recent months.

However, Abbas has repeatedly maintained that the PA would continue to reduce financial support to the Gaza Strip as long as the Hamas movement did not stick to the PA-mandated terms of reconciliation.

(Source / 17.08.2017)

Japan comes to the rescue of Gaza’s hospitals

RAMALLAH, West Bank — On Aug. 3, Palestinian Minister of Health Jawad Awad authorized the installation of solar panels in public hospitals in the Gaza Strip, financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Awad, Takeshi Okubo, the Japanese representative to Palestine, and JICA officials met in Ramallah to discuss the deal. The solar panels are scheduled to be installed in early September.

The project aims to secure a power supply to vital units in government-run hospitals in Gaza hit by the electricity crisis that started in 2007 in tandem with the Israeli blockade imposed on the enclave. Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health Asad Ramlawi told Al-Monitor that the project aims to provide government-run hospitals with electricity through the installation of solar panels.

“The Minister of Health gave his approval to start the first phase of the project at a cost of $1 million, which will begin within weeks after the completion of the technical studies by JICA,” Ramlawi said.

He explained that Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical complex in the Gaza Strip, will be the first to benefit from the project. He noted that JICA Vice President Tomiyoshi Kenichi had visited Al-Shifa Hospital on May 17 to inspect its conditions and evaluate the technical studies related to equipping some units of the hospital with solar panels. “The second stage, which has not been discussed in detail, should be initiated after the completion of the first phase,” Ramlawi added.

Since the beginning of the Israeli blockade in 2007, the Gaza Strip has been suffering from a severe electricity crisis. But recently, Gazans have been receiving only 3-4 hours of power supply a day, after the sole power station in Gaza ran out of fuel and stopped working following the decision April 27 by the government in Ramallah to halt payment to Israel for supplying electricity. This has adversely affected the work of hospitals across Gaza.

In a May 15 report, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned that “a systemic collapse of an already battered infrastructure and economy is impending” in Gaza due to the severe power crisis and noted that the crisis has affected the treatment of Gazans in hospitals.

The report continued, “On normal days, the operation room at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza conducts close to seven cardiac catheterizations per day. Due to power shortage, however, the number of daily operations has been reduced to fit the electricity timetable. … Due to lengthy power cuts, hospital units have to operate various equipment with the support of generators. With operating times being reduced, patients needing dialysis are affected.”

The director general of governmental hospitals in the Gaza Strip, Abdullatif al-Haj, told Al-Monitor, “Hospitals are currently running on in-house emergency generators, which are the main source of electricity supply. Hospital officials are trying to allocate this supply only to vital units such as the intensive care units, mechanical ventilator rooms and neonatal units.”

He added, “Hospital private generators are overused for 20 hours a day. They also consume large quantities of the $12 million worth of fuel supplies granted in January by Qatar to offset Gaza’s power shortage. If the current consumption rate continues, this fuel grant may be depleted within two months.”

Although solar systems — consisting of panels that absorb the sunlight as a source of energy to generate electricity — produce a substantial amount of electricity supply, this, however, is still not enough to meet the hospital’s power supply needs.

Haj explained, “Solar panels provide only alternative energy sufficient to supply vital units in hospitals such as intensive care units and operating rooms, but they are not enough to operate the rest of the hospital or the central air conditioning, which is necessary for the operating rooms and patient rooms.”

He noted that solar panels provide an electricity supply merely sufficient to keep life support machines operating and to prevent sudden power failures from affecting vital devices.

Saher Younis, the director of JICA in Gaza, told Al-Monitor that the idea of the project in collaboration with the Japanese government and JICA stemmed from the suffering of Gaza’s residents under the continued blackout, mainly affecting hospitals and endangering the lives of patients.

He said the solar panels that will be installed will not supply all of the facilities of the hospital with electricity, but only the vital units that need an uninterrupted electricity supply to guarantee the safe treatment of patients.

“JICA will begin preparation for the first execution stage within days after receiving the green light from the Palestinian minister of health and after collecting all information and specifications related to the units to be supplied with electricity generated by the solar panels. The installation of the solar panels is expected to start in early September,” he said.

Younis added, “The installation stage will take two months and it is expected that all works will be completed by the end of this year, given the large quantity of solar panels to be installed in hospitals and the needed technical staff.”

Commenting on the technical staff that will be responsible for the design and implementation of the project, Younis said that a Palestinian technical team from the Palestinian Energy Authority has received training courses in Japan in 2014-16 on design and implementation and will be fully in charge of the execution of this project.

Although the agreement on the implementation of the project was reached between the Japanese government, JICA and Awad, officials in charge of managing the health sector in the Gaza Strip welcomed the project and facilitated its execution.

Haj said he welcomes any project that will help citizens and the health sector in Gaza; Younis confirmed that a JICA team inspected Al-Shifa Hospital a few weeks ago.

The health sector in Gaza reels under several crises that need radical solutions, so the installation of solar panels in Gaza’s public hospitals is welcomed in order to alleviate some of the suffering of patients in the Gaza Strip.

(Source / 17.08.2017)

Israeli bid to construct new settlement outpost on Jordan Valley land

New settlement outpost on Pal land

The Israeli Ministry of Construction and Housing announced on Thursday morning its intent to build a new settlement outpost on Palestinian land in the northern Jordan Valley.

The plan includes the construction of 100 settlement units in Yarosh settlement outpost, where dozens of Israeli fanatics have set up roots.

The bid will be passed on to the Israeli government for final approval.

The Israeli radio quoted the minister of construction as stating that Yarosh is an important strategic site for Israel.

On December 23, 2016, the UN Security Council passed a resolution declaring Israeli settlements illegitimate and a threat to the two-state solution.

The northern Jordan Valley and Dead Sea make up around 30% of the overall West Bank area.

(Source / 17.08.2017)

IOF confiscates Palestinian lands in al-Khalil town

Under security pretexts

48 dunums stolen Dahria

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) confiscated on Thursday 48 dunums of Dahria town in al-Khalil to the south of West Bank.

The confiscated land is located near Mitar crossing to the south of the city, the PIC reporter said.

Mayor of the town Rateb Sabbar affirmed that the municipal authorities were not officially informed of the confiscation decision.

However, locals were surprised this morning by the confiscation order hanged at the entrance to Mitar crossing near the confiscated land, he told our correspondent.

The targeted land belonged to Abu Alan family who already appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court against the confiscation order, the mayor added.

Israeli authorities usually confiscate Palestinian-owned lands in West Bank under the pretext of being used for military purposes. However, they are later used for settlement expansion.

(Source / 17.08.2017)

Israeli army blows up house of Palestinian martyr near Ramallah

Zio's detonated house Pal

The Israeli occupation army at dawn Thursday detonated a house belonging to a Palestinian family near Ramallah city as part of the mass punishment policy pursued against relatives of Palestinian attackers.

According to local sources, Israeli troops stormed Deir Abu Mash’al village and forced families to evacuate neighboring homes before they embarked on planting explosives inside the house of martyr Adel Ankoush and then blasting it.

The explosion inside the house caused a fire in a nearby home and material damage to others.

Meanwhile, soldiers attacked angry local residents with tear gas. Drones were also seen overflying the village during the events.

Last Thursday, an Israeli military force had demolished two houses belonging to families of martyrs in the same village and sealed up the house of Ankoush for later demolition.

Martyr Adel Ankoush along with two other young men from the village carried out, on June 16, a shooting and stabbing attack in Occupied Jerusalem. One policewoman was killed and others were injured in the attack.

(Source / 17.08.2017)