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Minister: Over 1,500 Palestinian children killed since 2000

 

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Over 1,500 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli forces since the year 2000, the Palestinian Authority minister of social affairs said Saturday.

Marking Palestinian Children’s Day, Kamal al-Sharafi said in a statement that 1,520 Palestinian children have been killed and approximately 6,000 injured by the Israeli military in the past 14 years.

More than 10,000 have been arrested, al-Sharafi added, and 200 are currently being held in Israeli prisons.

“Protecting and supporting children should be a national responsibility,” he said, calling upon the Palestinian Authority to ratify a law for the protection of minors.

Palestinians mark Children’s Day on April 5 each year.

The United Nations Children Fund said in a 2013 report that 700 Palestinian children aged 12 to 17, most of them boys, are arrested, interrogated and detained by the Israeli military, police, and security agents every year in the occupied West Bank.

In the report, UNICEF said it identified examples of practices that “amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention against Torture.”

(Source / 05.04.2014)

Israeli newspaper: The land of Palestine is not ours

Israeli flagIn the wake of the publication of this article, the newspaper came under a barrage of harsh criticism by other Jewish parties for the article’s content, on the basis that the newspaper’s editors were serving Hamas’s agenda through publishing such an article.

According to Safa News Agency, the Hebrew language newspaper Yated Ne’eman, which is affiliated with the United Torah Judaism movement, published an unprecedented article on Thursday morning that generated scathing criticism from other Jewish parties, under the title: “This land is not registered in the Land Registry for the people of Israel”.

United Torah Judaism is a Jewish orthodox movement founded by Rabbis Elazar Shach and Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky that is strongly opposed to Zionism; however, Yated Ne’eman usually focuses on news related to the religious community rather than politics.

The article in question posed the following query: “The pressing question is: to whom does this land belong?” To which the author argued that: “We should not make a mistake; this land is not registered in the Land Registry in the name of the Israeli people and the Jewish people have no legal claim to this land, so this land is owned by others.”

The author quoted, in particular, a member of the Knesset for the Jewish Home Party, Moti Yogev, who also asked: “We must first and foremost answer the pressing question: who are the owners of this land?” during a speech about the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.

The author said that only some parts of this land, but not all, belong to the Jewish people.

In the wake of the publication of this article, the newspaper came under a barrage of harsh criticism by other Jewish parties for the article’s content, on the basis that the newspaper’s editors were serving Hamas’s agenda through publishing such an article.

(Source / 05.04.2014)

Israel halts Palestinian prisoner release as talks falter

 

Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is pictured in Washington on December 7, 2013.
JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israel has called off the planned release of 26 Palestinian prisoners, placing already embattled peace talks in further jeopardy after both sides took steps Washington called “unhelpful”.

Israel’s chief negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, told her Palestinian counterparts on Thursday the planned releases cannot go ahead because the Palestinians had formally requested accession to several international treaties, a source close to the talks told AFP.

The Israelis saw this as a breach of conditions agreed for a resumption of US-brokered peace talks last July, the source said.

A frustrated US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday demanded that recalcitrant Israeli and Palestinian politicians demonstrate leadership in the peace process.

The talks hit a new impasse when Israel failed to free the prisoners as expected at the weekend.

In response, the Palestinians formally requested accession to several international treaties, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, which provides the legal basis for Palestinian opposition to Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

The source said Livni had told the Palestinian negotiators that her government had been seeking to expedite the releases at the moment the Palestinians submitted their accession request to UN bodies.

Livni urged them to cancel the applications and return to talks, the source said.

The Palestinians, however, insisted that the basis for future talks must change.

“Israel has a habit of evading agreements and conventions it has signed,” Yasser Abed Rabbo, general secretary of the PLO executive committee, told AFP.

“That is why conditions for future negotiations must change radically,” he added, without elaborating.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Israel’s decision had put further strains on peace efforts.

“The decision by the Israelis to delay the release of the fourth tranche of prisoners creates challenges,” he said in Washington.

Carney said, however, that Kerry and the US negotiating team would not be deterred in trying to keep the peace effort alive despite recent setbacks.

Late Thursday, four rockets fired from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip slammed into southern Israel, a military spokesman told AFP.

He said there were no casualties and army radio said all the rockets fell in open countryside.

Palestinian security officials and witnesses early Friday reported Israeli air strikes on six facilities of the Hamas military wing around Gaza city.

No casualties were reported.

The Israeli military confirmed four air strikes and linked them to cross-border small arms fire from Gaza the day before, as well as the latest rocket fire.

Kerry phones Netanyahu, Abbas

US officials said that Kerry, who has pursued more than a year of intensive shuttle diplomacy, spoke by phone to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday afternoon, and to President Mahmoud Abbas later, but they gave no details.

His efforts appeared to be on the brink of collapse this week after Israel announced a fresh wave of settlement tenders and the PLO resumed international recognition moves.

Kerry threw down the gauntlet, telling both sides it was time for compromise at what he called a “critical moment” in the peace process.

“You can facilitate, you can push, you can nudge, but “The leaders have to lead, and they have to be able to see a moment when it’s there.”

Israel’s government has announced the construction of thousands of settler housing units and its army has killed over 60 Palestinians and injured hundreds in the West Bank and Gaza since the negotiations began.

The Israeli government has also insisted that it maintain a military and civilian presence in the occupied Jordan Valley, which forms around a third of the West Bank, and has insisted that the PLO recognize it as a “Jewish state,” despite having already officially recognized Israel decades earlier.

(Source / 05.04.2014)

Kerry in danger of losing big bet on Middle East peace

 

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in the Jordanian capital Amman, on March 26, 2014 for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
WASHINGTON (AFP) — John Kerry’s high-stakes gamble that he could finally achieve the dream of generations and bring peace to the Middle East seems to be collapsing as easily as a house of cards.

Despite a dozen visits to Israel and the West Bank since he became US secretary of state 14 months ago and many more late-night meetings with his recalcitrant partners in capitals around the world, it appears after all that he may have been trumped.

While there was always a certain hubris to his mission impossible, the political dangers facing wily Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conspired this week with decades of pent-up anger among Palestinians to throw up the most serious crisis to the fragile peace negotiations since they resumed in July.

Yet at the start of Kerry’s latest overseas trip there was little to suggest he would return to the US 13 days later with his peace effort in trouble and a blunt admission that he and the White House needed to “evaluate” the next steps.

Indeed, Kerry had not visited Israel in three months in a tacit recognition that each trip raised expectations and usually triggered some kind of provocative move from one of the parties.

His monthly commute between Washington and Jerusalem had also begun to raise eyebrows with little tangible progress to show and an April 29 deadline looming.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon had called Kerry “obsessional” and “messianic” and at home some critics said he was “delusional.”

‘Reality-check time’ 

All roads to Jerusalem are littered with past failed peace negotiations which have wound through places such as Madrid, Oslo and Camp David.

But this time Kerry felt there was something within his grasp, a deal under which both sides would agree to keep talking into next year, as some of the nitty-gritty contours of a pact began to emerge.

He deeply believes that a comprehensive peace treaty is the only way to secure Israel’s future and build a better tomorrow for Palestinians, with both peoples having suffered too much.

So the 70-year-old former senator, the son of a diplomat, stepped willingly into the quagmire that is Middle East peace.

He has invested huge amounts of energy, setting a punishing schedule which would defeat many half his age and remaining eternally optimistic and unflappable even after hours locked in tense negotiations.

It was sobering therefore on Friday as he prepared to head home — after the Israelis canceled the last prisoner releases and the Palestinians said they would seek statehood at 15 agencies at the UN — that in a rare moment of frankness and frustration he admitted “it’s reality-check time.”

“There are limits to the amount of time and effort that the United States can spend if the parties themselves are unwilling to take constructive steps in order to be able to move forward,” Kerry told reporters in Rabat.

With the war in Syria, Iran’s nuclear program and the crisis in Ukraine, “we have an enormous amount on the plate,” he said.

No-one walking away yet

Exactly what Kerry’s next move will be remains uncertain, and he has insisted that the negotiators remain at work on the ground.

But it’s more than possible that he’ll give both sides a little space to figure out what they want to do, as he huddles with the White House.

There will be another three-way meeting likely on Sunday in the region to assess the way forward, officials close to the talks say, and the US insists the negotiations are not dead.

Only a few months ago, Kerry’s stock had been rising with his brand of face-to-face diplomacy winning praise.

He had helped kick-start the peace talks after a three-year gap, sealed a deal with Russia to rid Syria of its chemical weapons, and negotiations with Iran over its suspect nuclear program had made the first progress in a decade.

Now critics will be sharpening their pencils in glee.

But he has three more years in office, and almost boundless patience.

The White House Friday defended the “tireless” Kerry, saying his long-odds Middle East peace bid had not been a waste of time because the stakes were so high.

But Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman, admitted that the chances of Kerry succeeding when he embarked on his Middle East peace quest a year ago had never been high.

“I don’t know if people in Las Vegas are betting on these kinds of things these days, but I’m sure the odds … would be very long.”

Earnest refused to say that Washington had given up.

“That presupposes an additional step here, that at some point somebody throws up their hands and walks away. Secretary Kerry’s certainly not willing to do that.”

(Source / 05.04.2014)

Israel to impose economic sanctions on PA

Martin IndykDuring an emergency session between US envoy Martin Indyk and the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams during which Israel’s chief negotiator Tzipi Livni demanded the Palestinian Authority back down from its request to go to the United Nations organisations otherwise Israel will not release the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners

Israel has begun a series of punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority in response to the Palestinian request to join 15 international UN treaties, Haaretz reported on Wednesday.

The present economic sanctions come in the wake of latest crisis in the political process which reached its climax on Wednesday. During an emergency session between US envoy Martin Indyk and the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams during which Israel’s chief negotiator Tzipi Livni demanded the Palestinian Authority back down from its request to go to the United Nations organisations otherwise Israel will not release the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners.

The newspaper quoted an Israeli official as saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon asked the Coordinator of Activities in the West Bank Territories Yoav Mordechai to submit proposals of punitive measures against the Palestinians.

According to the paper the suggestions included freezing the Wataniya mobile company, which operates in the West Bank, from entering hardware to the Gaza Strip to deploy its mobile communications network there, and to impose restrictions on the activity of the Palestinian Authority in the Area C in the West Bank which falls under Israeli security and civil control.

The paper said a study of other economic sanctions is being conducted. Options being considered include freezing the tax and customs revenues which Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority and collecting the Palestinian debt amounting to hundreds of millions of shekels to the Israeli Electricity Company. No decision has been made as to which measure will be implemented.

(Source / 04.04.2014)

Settlers destroy over 300 grape vines near Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers on Friday destroyed over 300 newly planted grape vines in al-Khader village south of Bethlehem, locals said.

Landowner Mohammad Ibrahim Sbeih told Ma’an that he saw settlers from the illegal Sde Boaz settlement on his land in the al-Shub area.

Coordinator for the local resistance committee Ahmad Salah told Ma’an that the settlers vandalized 18 dunams (four acres) of land.

Israeli forces arrived in the area and detained Sbeih and his brothers for several hours, he said.

The Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee has said it will provide compensation for the attack and plant new trees, Salah added.

In 2013, there were 399 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

(Source / 04.04.2014)

Secret tunnels cause settlers to live in ‘fear’

Gaza TunnelThe Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas, stressed that the discovery of the tunnel was caused when rainfall caused its collapse and was not an intelligence breakthrough for the occupation

A secret document which explains how to deal with the residents of settlements adjacent to the Gaza Strip and how to calm fears in the wake of increased discovery of tunnels has been unveiled.

The Arabic news agency Wala yesterday reported that the document indicates that “the increase in discovering tunnels which enter residential areas of nearby settlements is creating an atmosphere of psychological distress, where the threat of detecting a tunnel is turned into a real fear, which will have implications on the long term.”

The source revealed the Israeli Army has recently strengthened the presence of soldiers in settlements near the Gaza Strip.

Two weeks ago, the Israeli army announced the discovery of an underground tunnel used by the resistance near the Ein Hashlosha kibbutz, east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza. The Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas, stressed that the discovery of the tunnel was caused when rainfall caused its collapse and was not an intelligence breakthrough for the occupation.

(Source / 04.04.2014)

Nablus man suffers fractures during settler attack

NABLUS (Ma’an) — A Palestinian was injured on Friday after being attacked by Israeli settlers in Urif village south of Nablus, a Palestinian official said.

Mohammad Ahmad Radi Ibrahim, 33, suffered several fractures after dozens of settlers from Elon Moreh attacked farmers in the village, Ghassan Daghlas told Ma’an.

He was taken to Rafidia hospital for treatment.

On Monday, hundreds of Israeli settlers gathered on a main road in the northern West Bank and hurled stones at Palestinian vehicles while shouting “Death to Arabs,” witnesses said.

Settlers in the occupied West Bank routinely attack Palestinians and their property.

In 2013, there were 399 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Over 90 percent of investigations into settler violence by Israeli police fail to lead to an indictment.

More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.

(Source / 04.04.2014)

Two injured in Israeli bombing raid over Gaza

A Palestinian man inspects the damage following an overnight Israeli air strike on Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, on April 4, 2014.

Israeli war jets launched an aerial assault on Gaza early Friday, injuring two people including a one-year-old.

Gaza health ministry officials cited by Palestinian news agency Ma’an said an infant and a 30-year-old man were treated for shrapnel wounds at Shifa hospital in Gaza’s southern al-Maghraqa region.

The report added that Israel targeted 10 sites in Gaza, including a washing machine factory in the Jabaliya refugee camp, a metal shop in the same area, and two “Hamas sites” south of Gaza city.

Israel said the attack was triggered after four rockets allegedly fired from Gaza struck uninhabited areas occupied by Israel.

The violence comes as news spread that Israel called off the planned release of 26 Palestinian prisoners, placing already embattled “peace” negotiations between Israel and the Western backed Palestinian Authority in further jeopardy.

Israel’s chief negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, told her PA counterparts on Thursday the planned releases cannot go ahead because the Palestinians had formally requested accession to several international treaties, a source close to the talks told AFP.

The Israelis saw this as a breach of conditions agreed for a resumption of US-brokered peace talks last July, the source said.

The talks hit a new impasse when Israel failed to free the prisoners as expected at the weekend.

In response, the Palestinians formally requested accession to several international treaties, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, which provides the legal basis for Palestinian opposition to Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

The source said Livni had told the Palestinian negotiators that her government had been seeking to expedite the releases at the moment the Palestinians submitted their accession request to UN bodies.

Livni urged them to cancel the applications and return to talks, the source said.

The Palestinians, however, insisted that the basis for future talks must change.

“Israel has a habit of evading agreements and conventions it has signed,” Yasser Abed Rabbo, general secretary of the PLO executive committee, told AFP.

“That is why conditions for future negotiations must change radically,” he added, without elaborating.

(Source / 04.04.2014)

13 injured in clashes near Ramallah

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Thirteen Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces near Ofer detention center in Ramallah on Friday, onlookers said.

Seven people were shot with live bullets, a Ma’an reporter said.

Five were hurt with rubber-coated steel bullets. A journalist was struck in the back with a tear-gas canister.

The clashes broke out after Israeli forces attacked Palestinians who were performing Friday prayers there. The afternoon prayer was held near the detention center to protest Israel’s refusal to release to a fourth group of veteran Palestinian prisoners.

Palestinians responded by throwing rocks, the Ma’an reporter said.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said forces fired at “rioters” who threw rocks and burning tires at security forces.

The spokeswoman said five people were lightly injured by riot-dispersal means.

(Source / 04.04.2014)