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Gaza: 125,000 homes required to overcome housing crisis

The Minister of Public Works and Housing in Gaza, Mufid al-Hasayneh said that the Gaza Strip needs about 125,000 new housing units to overcome the housing crisis in the strip, adding that about 24,000 other homes are in need of being rebuilt.

In a press statement on Monday, Al-Hasayneh said  that more than 70% of the families in Gaza are financially unable to build housing units, noting that the average of new housing units required in the strip was only 14,000.

The minister added that the number of housing units built in the Gaza Strip since 1994 hit 130,000  units, while the number of existing housing units is 285,000,   55,000 of which need to be restored or rehabilitated.

Al-Hasayneh stressed that the last Israeli war on Gaza in 2014 significantly worsened the crisis sine it caused severe damage to the houses,  where 200,000 homes were destroyed or partially damaged.

He pointed out that 20% of the Palestinian families in the Gaza Strip live in overcrowded residential units with high population density, while the population growth rate in the sector is 3.3%.

(Source / 19.02.2018)

Shin Bet arrests Palestinian cell plotting to assassinate Lieberman

Plot Lieberman

Israel’s Shin Bet security agency on Sunday announced that it has recently arrested an Islamic Jihad cell composed of six Palestinians from Bethlehem and claimed that they were plotting to assassinate the Israeli war minister Avigdor Lieberman.

According to a statement released by the agency, the six Palestinians were planning to place a bomb on a West Bank road near Gush Etzion settlement on which Lieberman’s convoy was to travel.

The statement noted that the cell had planned to carry out other operations without giving details. No response from the Islamic Jihad Movement has been issued yet to the Shin Bet accusation.

The Shin Bet also claimed foiling a plot by another Islamic Jihad armed cell operating in Bethlehem to launch shooting attacks against Israeli soldiers and settlers.

Lieberman was the target of a similar plot in 2014 when a Hamas cell planned to hit the vehicle in which he was traveling with an RPG.

The Shin Bet said that the Islamic Jihad cell members were aware of past failed attempts to kill Lieberman and therefore believed that if they planted an explosive device on the Israeli minister’s travel route they would be more successful.

Based on the Shin Bet allegations, the cell’s location had been identified and its plan thwarted at a very early stage of its work.

(Source / 18.02.2018)

3 Palestinians arrested by PA forces, others kept in custody

Palestinians arrested by PA

The Palestinian Authority (PA) forces arrested a number of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and have kept others in custody.

Palestinian young man Youssef Shedid was arrested by the PA forces in a campaign targeting Tulkarem’s town of Allar.

The PA intelligence officers also arrested the Palestinian ex-prisoner Anas Ka’kour in Jenin and the ex-prisoner Mohamed Abu Aliya in Bethlehem, after they broke into his family’s home.

At the same time, two Palestinian university students—Alaa Abu Aram and Abada Mer’i—have been held in PA lock-ups in al-Khalil respectively for five and four days running.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian ex-prisoners Kasem Swei, Maysara Afana, Saleh Daoud, Luay Freij, Ibrahim Zeid, and Saleh Abu Saleh have been on a hunger strike to protest their arbitrary detention by the PA Preventive Forces in Qalqilya for over four months despite a court rule ordering their release.

(Source / 18.02.2018)

Palestinian kidnapped by IOF soldiers over alleged knife possession

Youth kidnapped Jenin

The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at noontime Sunday kidnapped a Palestinian young man near the Salem military court, west of Jenin, on claims that he had a knife in his possession.

According to local sources, Israeli soldiers cordoned off the Salem military camp and cracked down on Palestinians before they kidnapped a young man at a checkpoint set at the camp’s outer entrance.

Hebrew-speaking radio stations said Israeli forces arrested a young man from Nablus after a Carlo gun was spotted in his bag at the main entrance to Salem court.

(Source / 18.02.2018)

Abbas to Ask for a Palestinian State During Security Council Meeting on Feb 20

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will request, in a speech to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, the establishment of a Palestinian State and will reiterate the need to implement the UN Security Council resolution that calls for a two-state solution, sources close to the matter told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The sources added that the Palestinian president would announce his final rejection of Washington’s monopoly of the peace process and would renew his call for an international conference under the umbrella of the United Nations to form a multilateral mechanism that would foster a new political process, similar to the 5+1 group, which negotiated the nuclear deal with Iran.

Meanwhile, Abu Rudeina, spokesman for the Palestinian presidency, said that the Palestinians have begun a new phase of the struggle that would define the region’s features in the near future.

“A new phase of the struggle has begun to preserve the overall goal of our Palestinian people, the Arab nation and the whole world, as well as the issue of Jerusalem in its Islamic and Christian sanctities, its heritage and history, which some are trying to falsify to justify their violation of all international laws,” Abu Rudeina stated.

The Palestinian presidency’s spokesman did not elaborate on Abbas’ speech before the Security Council, stressing that it would focus on Jerusalem and the national constants, and would serve as a “message to the whole world that justice, peace and land are the only way to a secure, stable, and prosperous Middle East, free from all forms of terrorism.”

The sources, for their part, told Asharq Al-Awsat that Abbas would emphasize Palestinian’s rejection of President (Donald) Trump’s decision on Jerusalem and any other decision that would undermine the status of the city.

(Source / 18.02.2018)

PA security forces raid West Bank houses

File photo of Palestinian protestors clashing with Palestinian Authority Security Forces in Hebron

File photo of Palestinian protestors clashing with Palestinian Authority Security Forces in Hebron

Palestinian Authority (PA) security services this week raided tens of Palestinian houses, harassed women and arrested men, including relatives of Palestinian MPs, Quds Net reported.

In Hebron, south of the occupied West Bank, the PA security services stormed the home of Nidaa Dweek, daughter of Speaker of Palestinian Parliament Aziz Dweek.

Nidaa wrote on Facebook: “Just now, forces of the Palestinian intelligence agency have left our house. They searched the house and left much havoc behind. They confiscated my daughter’s PC and camera and my son’s mobile and wallet, which includes his ID, University ID and NIS240.”

She also said that they confiscated books, documents, reports and papers related to her PhD.  All the residents in the were beaten, according to Quds Net.

Palestinian sources confirmed Nidaa’s report about the raid and said that the PA forces also raided the homes of Fatemah Seder, Sumayya Sultan, Hayat al-Rajabi and Sonia al-Hamouri. The sources added that the PA forces searched and damaged property inside the houses and confiscated contents.

Elsewhere, the PA security forces raided the house of Abdel-Rahman Bader in Hebron and arrested him. Abdel-Rahman is the son of the Palestinian MP Maher Bader, who is currently being held in Israeli detention.

In Bethlehem, the PA intelligence services raided the house of Zein al-Abideen Awawdeh, a lecturer at the University of Bethlehem. They confiscated computers and mobile phones after searching and damaging the house.

Recently, the PA security agencies have intensified their raids on houses of Palestinian MPs, Hamas leaders and their relatives across the occupied West Bank. No information about the reasons behind this security campaign was disclosed, Quds Net said.

(Source / 18.02.2018)

UN blames funding cuts and blockade for Gaza crisis

Gazan's gather outside the UN offices in Gaza to protest US cuts to UNRWA's funding, on January 28, 2018 [Mohammad Asad / Middle East Monitor]

Gazan’s gather outside the UN offices in Gaza to protest US cuts to UNRWA’s funding, on January 28, 2018

Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric blamed on Thursday UNRWA funding cuts, the closure of Gaza’s crossings, and the delay of internal Palestinian reconciliation for the dire situation in the enclave.

Answering to questions about the situation in Gaza, Dujarric said: “The dire humanitarian situation has obviously been made more stressful with the funding crisis” facing UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East).

He added: “So far, UNRWA has not cut back on any services and is striving not to.”

“We know the humanitarian crisis is also linked to internal issues having to do with the reconciliation between various Palestinian factions and, of course, issues related to closures;” he said.

On his part, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, told the Security Council that: “The United Nations have presented proposals to revitalize Gaza’s economy and discussed the conditions required to ease movement and access, and support Palestinian development.”

(Source / 18.02.2018)

Hamas denies US accusations on Gaza misery

Gazan children seen going about their lives after a day of rain, February 17, 2018 [Mohammed Asad / Middle East Monitor]

Gazan children seen going about their lives after a day of rain, February 17, 2018

Palestinian resistance group Hamas has dismissed US accusations for the group of causing a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Earlier this month, Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, blamed Hamas for causing “misery” to Gaza’s people by choosing “to increase violence”.

“We reject the White House allegations that Hamas was responsible for Gaza’s aggravating humanitarian crisis,” Hamas said in a statement on Sunday.

It described the US accusations as a “green light for the Israeli occupation to continue its aggressive approach against the Palestinian people.”

Hamas blamed Israel’s decade-long blockade on the seaside strip for “Gaza’s humanitarian catastrophe”, which, it says, has been imposed with “a public US support”.

It went on to hold “successive US administrations responsible for the tragedies that have plagued the Palestinian people since the beginning of the occupation”.

Home to nearly two million people, Gaza has been reeling under a decade-long siege that has badly affected livelihood in the Palestinian territory.

“The US ignored throughout the history of the [Arab-Israeli] conflict the right of the Palestinian people to live in security and peace on their land,” Hamas said.

The Palestinian group said Trump was seeking to tighten up the blockade with a view to “bringing our people and political forces to their knees for imposing solutions that aim at liquidating their cause”.

Last month, the US Treasury Department placed Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh on its terror list.

The US move came amid intense tension with the Palestinians after Trump’s decision on 6 December to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to cut some $65 million in US aid to the Palestinians.

(Source / 18.02.2018)

Lieberman Warns of Continued Violence in Gaza

18 FEB
5:32 PM

Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman has warned that Israeli aggression in Gaza while continue so long as ‘the score remains unsettled,’ according to a Sunday interview with Ynet.

Lieberman’s warning was issued in response to an explosion along the Israel-Gaza border that wounded 4 IOF soldiers, two of which were considered serious and rushed to the ICU at the Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva.

‘It will take two days, a week, or two weeks. We’ll eliminate anyone behind the attack’s execution,’ Lieberman warned.

In retaliation, PNN further reports, Israel launched a series of 6 airstrikes against Hamas targets late Saturday evening, including an outpost close to the sight of the original explosion and a tunnel in the Zaytun neighbourhood.

The situation continued to escalate when 2 retaliatory rockets were fired towards Israel from the Gaza Strip, prompting Israeli forces to conduct a second air raid.

The second series of attacks raised the total number that evening to 18, according to Liebermann, as well as Palestinian news sources.

Lieberman lauded the attack as ‘perhaps the most significant and widespread strike we carried out since Operation Protective Edge.’

Any incident emanating from the Gaza Strip would be the responsibility of Hamas, that has ruled Gaza since disputed elections in 2007, said Lieberman, even if they were not conducted by Hamas or its military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

‘Hamas is the ruler, and we consider Hamas to be responsible for everything that is done in the Gaza Strip and from the Gaza Strip,’ said Liberman.

Previous airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza have been in response to rocket launches conducted by the al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad organization in Palestine, as well as other members of the Popular Resistance Committee.

In January, Israeli forces struck multiple Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip after the al-Quds Brigade launched a series of mortars into Israeli territory.

09/02/14 VIDEO: Gaza City’s Devastated Al-Shuja’eyya Suburb

(Source / 18.02.2018)

Palestinian who lost sight in Israeli jail sentenced to 16 months

Mohamed Dweikat

An Israeli military court sentenced on Thursday a Palestinian detainee to 16 months in jail and a fine of 5,000 shekels.

Israel’s Salem military court ruled that prisoner Mohamed Dweikat, from Nablus, in the northern occupied West Bank, be incarcerated for 16 months in Israeli prisons and pay a bail of up to 5,000 shekels.

Prisoner Dweikat was kidnapped by the Israeli occupation forces on December 6, 2016, just one week after he had tied the knot and celebrated his engagement party.

Dweikat had been made to attend several hearings at Israeli courts before he ultimately received the 16-month term.

Prisoner Dweikat lost sight due to preplanned medical neglect in Israeli dungeons. The occupation authorities have prevented him from undergoing urgent medical checks and being treated by a specialized doctor. They further turned down his frequent appeals to release him due to his deteriorating health condition.

(Source / 16.02.2018)