Gazans to perform Umrah pilgrimage after 5 year hiatus

For the first time since 2014, Gazan’s will be allowed to travel to Saudi Arabia via the Rafah crossing  

A woman from the first convoy passes the Rafah Border Gate and recites from the holy Quran as she waits to transport and perform Umrah in Mecca after Egypt re-opened the Rafah Crossing following four years of closure, in Rafah, Gaza on March 03, 2019 [Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency]
A woman from the first convoy, passes through the Rafah Border Gate and waits to transport and perform Umrah in Mecca after Egypt re-opened the Rafah Crossing following four years of closure, in Rafah, Gaza on March 03, 2019 [Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency]
People from the first convoy, pass through the Rafah Border Gate and wait to transport and perform Umrah in Mecca after Egypt re-opened the Rafah Crossing following four years of closure, in Rafah, Gaza on March 03, 2019 [Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency]
The first convoy pass the Rafah Border Gate to transport and perform Umrah in Mecca after Egypt re-opened the Rafah Crossing following four years of closure, in Rafah, Gaza on March 03, 2019 [Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency]

Egypt will allow Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to travel to Saudi Arabia on Sunday to perform the Umrah (lesser pilgrimage) – via the Rafah border crossing – for the first time since 2014.

Last month, Yusuf Ideis, Palestinian minister of religious endowments, announced the resumption of Umrah journeys from the blockaded Gaza Strip following a five-year hiatus.

According to ministry sources, a first batch of pilgrims will set out from Gaza to Saudi Arabia on March 3.

These include at least 800 pilgrims who have already obtained the necessary travel documentation from the Saudi authorities, the sources said.

“The offices of pilgrimage travel companies in Gaza have been inundated by those seeking to perform the sacred journey,” Awad Abu Mazkour, chairman of Gaza’s Hajj and UmrahCompany, told Anadolu Agency.

Since late 2014, Gazans have been unable to make the pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia due to Egypt’s continued closure of the Rafah border crossing.

In January, the Egyptian authorities eased travel restrictions through the crossing, which links Israeli-blockaded Gaza to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

A woman from the first convoy, passes through the Rafah Border Gate and waits to transport and perform Umrah in Mecca after Egypt re-opened the Rafah Border Gate following four years of closure, in Rafah, Gaza on March 03, 2019 [Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency]
A woman from the first convoy, passes through the Rafah Border Gate and waits to transport and perform Umrah in Mecca after Egypt re-opened the Rafah Crossing following four years of closure, in Rafah, Gaza on March 03, 2019 [Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency]
A man from the first convoy passes the Rafah Border Gate and recites from the holy Quran as she waits to transport and perform Umrah in Mecca after Egypt re-opened the Rafah Crossing following four years of closure, in Rafah, Gaza on March 03, 2019 [Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency]
A woman waves hand as she and others from the first convoy pass the Rafah Border Gate to transport and perform Umrah in Mecca after Egypt re-opened the Rafah Crossing following four years of closure, in Rafah, Gaza on March 03, 2019 [Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency]
Gazans from the first convoy wait patiently to start their journey to Mecca for the Umrah, after Egypt re-opened the Rafah Crossing following four years of closure, in Rafah, Gaza on March 03, 2019 [Mohammad Asad / Middle East Monitor]
A Palestinian border control officer seen at a immgration desk on the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing, in Rafah, Gaza on March 03, 2019 [Mohammad Asad / Middle East Monitor]
Gazans from the first convoy seen at the border control desk on the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing, ahead of their journey to Mecca for the Umrah, after Egypt re-opened the Rafah Crossing following four years of closure, in Rafah, Gaza on March 03, 2019 [Mohammad Asad / Middle East Monitor]
Gazans from the first convoy seen at the border control desk on the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing, ahead of their journey to Mecca for the Umrah, after Egypt re-opened the Rafah Crossing following four years of closure, in Rafah, Gaza on March 03, 2019 [Mohammad Asad / Middle East Monitor]
Gazans from the first convoy seen at the border control desk on the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing, ahead of their journey to Mecca for the Umrah, after Egypt re-opened the Rafah Crossing following four years of closure, in Rafah, Gaza on March 03, 2019 [Mohammad Asad / Middle East Monitor]
Gazans from the first convoy wait patiently to start their journey to Mecca for the Umrah, after Egypt re-opened the Rafah Crossing following four years of closure, in Rafah, Gaza on March 03, 2019 [Mohammad Asad / Middle East Monitor]

(Source / 03.03.2019)

ISM Report: Palestinians in Prayer Shot with Rubber-coated Steel Bullets, Tear Gas

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03 Mar 5:03 AM

03/01/19 | International Solidarity Movement | Al-Khalil Team

Non-violent peaceful protesters met with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets in Ras Karkar.

In 2018, settlers invaded land atop al-Risan Mountain, which overlooks the three villages Ras Karkar, Kafr Ni’ma and Kharbatha Bani Harith. Since then, local Palestinians have gathered in a valley below the mountain, every Friday, to non-violently protest the theft of their land, trying each week to get past occupation forces who now keep them from accessing it.

Earlier today ISMers attended the weekly protest. We arrived in the valley at 12 midday, where a group of approximately 40 locals were gathering. Border Police were stationed on the hillside across from us. As the protesters tried to lay down a large plastic mat to pray on, they were fired upon with tear gas. They tried to set down the mat in several different locations, but were fired upon again and again.

Eventually, the border police came down the mountain to talk to the Imam; after a brief dialogue the police stood by while the Palestinians prayed. Once the prayers ended, the border police retreated back up the mountain, and shortly after recommenced their tear gas bombardment. They also fired rubber-coated steel bullets, hitting at least one Palestinian.

Some of the younger demonstrators wielded slings, just as David did against Goliath, in the Valley of Elah, not far from here. Their rocks fell short of the occupation forces’ defensive line, while some managed to hurl tear gas canisters back toward the border police.

Border police continued to fire tear gas even as protesters retreated, pushing us back to our vehicles. They persisted in their firing, eventually forcing us to leave the site by car. Protesters had to be cautious today as there was no ambulance on site, and serious injuries have been sustained in previous weeks.

Playground Collapses in Jerusalem due to Israeli Excavations

03 Mar 5:08 AM

Heavy rain caused the ground of a field, in the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, to collapse on Saturday morning.

Jawad Siyam, from the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, said that residents of the neighborhood woke up to a new collapse, this time in the ground of a field (used as a playground) and the surrounding wall.
The collapse was reportedly due, mainly, to the continuous Israeli excavations in the area, building tunnels leading to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, from its western side.

Siyam said that Israeli settlers’ excavations under and around the playground are continuous, before dirt is emptied and moved from under ground, pointed out that the Israeli authorities are digging tunnels in favor of settlement project ignoring the risks towards 5,000 residents of the neighborhood.

He added that heavy rain revealed the amount of excavations and its danger on the lives of locals.

Owner of the land on which the playground is built, Muhammad Attallah, told the center that the collapse comes as a result of 12 years of underground excavations.

Ma’an further reports that, in 2017, Palestinian residents of three houses in Wadi Hilweh, that Israel had ordered the evacuation of due to severe structural damage, refused to leave their homes and accused Israel of indirectly attempting to expel them from Jerusalem City.

Israel frequently allows excavations and archaeological digs that threaten the structural integrity of Palestinian homes and holy sites in the area.

(Source / 03.03.2019)

Hamas: Palestinians preparing to organize mega march on Land Day

GAZA, PALESTINOW.COM — Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasim has announced that there are preparations to organize a mega march soon on the Land Day in order to confirm the goals of the March of Return rallies.

“Our people are preparing to create new peaceful means that will enhance their effort to achieve the objectives of the March of Return and Breaking the Siege as its first anniversary approaches,” Qasim added in a press release.

“The public’s insistence on continuing to participate in the March of Return rallies affirms that we are facing a strong popular will determined to break the blockade and exercise its right to live with dignity and freedom,” the spokesman said.

(Source / 03.03.2019)

Report: Israeli forces killed child, wounded 204 civilians last week

Israeli occupation forces killed last week Palestinian child and wounded 204 civilians, including 42 children, nine women, two journalists and four paramedics, reports issued by rights groups said.

The reports noted that three of the wounded suffered critical conditions during the “violent” Israeli occupation crackdown on the protests of the Great March of Return.

In separate incidents in the occupied West Bank, Israeli Occupation forces shot and wounded for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including a child and a journalist, over the past week.

Meanwhile, the reports found 128 civilians, including four children were detained by Israeli occupation forces in the occupied West Bank.

The reports also counted 73 Palestinians, including a child were arrested in the occupied city of Jerusalem. 

Israeli occupation forces raided, according to the reports, 81 Palestinian homes across the West Bank and carried out two limited incursions in Gaza. 

Regarding the Israeli aggression on Palestinian property, the report found that 350 olive trees were uprooted by the Israeli occupation forces and 200 others were destroyed by Israeli Jewish settlers in the West Bank city of Al-Khalil.

Over the last week, Israeli Jewish settlers attacked two Palestinian civilians and vandalised ten Palestinian vehicles in the occupied West Bank. 

The report documented 11 cases of opening fire by Israeli naval forces on Palestinian fishing boats off Gaza’s coast.

Israeli occupation forces set up 103 permanent checkpoints and 80 temporary others across the occupied West Bank.

During the violent Israeli crackdown on the 49th Friday of Great Return March protests, 83 Palestinian protesters, including 23 children, a woman, three paramedics and a journalist were injured, latest reports said.

(Source / 03.03.2019)