News from Palestine 23.01.2012

I made some tea seconds ago & Israel decided 2 reward me with some bombs with my tea! AS USUAL! #Gaza

Breaking: Tweeps in Gaza are reporting F16’s raiding #Gaza now #Terrorism

At least 3 explosions heard in northern Gaza. Israeli #F16s in the air. For updates, follow @Solarah @imNadZ @Omar_Gaza@Yasmine_Gaza

#BREAKING #GAZA | Jan 24, 2012 0:43 | Another explosion reported by @SarahSalibi F16’s attacking N. Gaza v @OsamaShomar

Israeli mofo #F16s bombing northern #Gaza

#Breaking : a huge explosion now #Gaza

Israeli #F16s back in the air! take care people #Gaza

Israeli F-16s bombing Beit-Lahia town, in northern #Gaza strip as we speak. Gaza under attack

#Breaking ,Another F16 Bomb NOw #Gaza

The rockets targeted Al Shaymaa area in Beet Lahya .

Update:The bombardment targeted north east of Beit-Lahia town northen Gaza strip ,Fadous St targted near the Bedouin village. reported fire

#GAZA #BREAKING | Jan 24, 2012 – 0:38 | 2 huge explosions reported v @solarah F16’s bombing NW of #Gaza v@OsamaShomar

The drones are buzzing LOUDLY #Gaza

UPDATE: explosions are in beit lahya northern Gaza Strip

#URGENT #GAZA under ATTACK follow live updates #FF @olananthan her list of tweeps: and help to RT the news out

Israelo #F16s in the house ooops I mean the air lol #Gaza

Breaking: #IOF are now shelling North of #Gaza #Palestine


AlAksa Radio: multiple explosions heard in north #Gaza

#BREAKING #GAZA | F16’s reported in #Gaza (attacking) v@NalanSarraj (Jan 24, 2012 – 0:35)

loud and low. #F16s for the 2nd time today. #Gaza

two huge explosions northern #Gaza this was so damn closeeeee

BREAKING: Israeli F16 roaring in the sky

Medicines in Gaza are hostage to political rivalry that puts lives at risk

Man lying in bed is hooked up to dialysis machine

Political divisions and Israel’s siege have put lives in limbo.

Ahmad Dahman, 60, is one of hundreds of patients who come to Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital to receive life-saving kidney dialysis treatment each week.

And like other patients, he is worried that his health and even his life are at risk because of persistent shortages in medicines and supplies needed for his treatment.

Al-Shifa, the largest hospital in Gaza, along with other health facilities, continues to suffer shortages of medicines and equipment needed for dialysis and other treatments because of rivalry between Palestinian political parties, as well as the siege Israel has imposed on the Strip.

Doctors and patients alike have complained of such shortages for the past month and practitioners say lives are at risk.

Earlier in January, a new shipment of filters needed for dialysis reached Gaza via the Israeli-controlled Erez checkpoint after the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank responded to calls by international organizations to ensure that essential supplies were sent to Gaza.


Dahman voices his frustration at the situation. “We are merely patients, who are helpless and in need for constant care,” he said. “I am wondering why the medicines needed come to us very late. I would like to say to all those concerned that we as patients have nothing to do with political rivalries between the parties.”

Ilham Hammash is a mother of six grown children and has been suffering for a few years from kidney failure. She was in the dialysis section for the treatments she receives three times per week. While lying on a hospital bed, with tubes connected to her body, she voiced her concern about the lack of medicines.

“I wonder why we always feel the shortage of medicines needed for dialysis,” Hammash said. “Isn’t it enough that we have been unable either to go abroad for a kidney transplant, or to do anything else?”

“When I have no dialysis, I feel very sick and unable to move, waiting for God’s mercy on me and on my family,” Hammash said, with her 29-year-old son Iyad beside her.

“At times of lack of medicines or equipment, we get highly concerned about my mother’s life,” Iyad said. “A great deal of worry rips through us. I think once the parties concerned here, mainly those in Gaza and those in the West Bank are united, the problem of shortages will come to an end.”

Gaza health officials say that the shortages problem goes back to 2008, one year afterHamas took control of the interior of the Gaza Strip. Over the past four years, the World Health Organization, the International Committee of the Red Cross and similar groups have delivered medicines and other medical supplies to Gaza, but this has been inadequate. According to some estimates, the supply of medicines is 50 percent below actual requirements.

Hamas and Fatah, the ruling party in the West Bank, have been at loggerheads since 2007, when Hamas ousted Fatah elements from Gaza. Since then, a caretaker government in the West Bank has remained in charge of Gaza’s health sector.

Deaths likely if shortages continue

Staff nurse Muhammad Shatta, who manages the dialysis department at al-Shifa hospital, told The Electronic Intifada that only 200 out of a total of 450 patients in his department’s care get the dialysis treatment they need.

“Only recently, we have managed to get brine and filters for the dialysis machines here,” Shatta said. “The gallons of brine we received only meet the need for a few weeks while we actually need a reserve for about three months, at least.” There are similar shortages of filters.

“This is not a proper situation and I can tell you that for the past four years, we have only been able to bring in the needed medicines after having asked for intervention by international bodies, including the World Health Organization and the Red Cross,” Shatta said. “I believe that this problem should come to an end once and for all, for we do fear some patients could pass away because the medicines are unavailable.”

The lack of medicines or components for the kidney failure cases is an example for the shortage of other medical supplies in Gaza such as medicines for cancer patients and some other disposable materials like sutures and syringes.

According to the Gaza authorities, there are 150 types of medicines and 140 other disposal materials that are still lacking in Gaza.

“A pronounced lack of cooperation”

“I can confirm to you that the shortage of medical supplies in the Gaza Strip has been very pressing for the past four years and so far it has not been resolved. The Palestinian Authority claims that a budget shortfall is part of the problem is false as medicines and other medical supplies should not be affected,” Dr. Munir al-Bursh, director general of pharmacy in the Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip, told The Electronic Intifada at his Gaza City office.

Al-Bursh added that the shortage in supplies for the past four years has been estimated at $60 million, a $15 million shortfall each year. Such figures, according to al-Bursh, have not changed and the problem still persists, despite interventions by concerned international bodies.

The Palestinian Authority’s health ministry contends that the delivery of medical supplies to Gaza continues without interruption.

But the aid group Doctors without Borders recently stated that the problem of shortages is attributed to “a pronounced lack of cooperation” between Palestinian authorities in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as the ongoing Israeli blockade of Gaza (“Gaza: Chronic Shortages of Drugs and Medical Supplies,” 17 November 2011).

The crisis caused goes far beyond dialysis, according to the statement, affecting patients in almost every area of care, including cancer treatment and psychiatric are. The drug shortages and the politicization of medicare care, according to the group, “are putting patients’ lives in grave danger.”

( / 23.01.2012)

Dubai distributes Halal food info for travelling Muslims

With a Halal food leaflet, Muslims can now travel abroad armed with information about some of the more obscure ways they could inadvertently break Islamic food requirements while on holiday.

In western shops and on menus, pork and alcohol products may not be labelled as carefully as in the UAE, and Muslims carefully avoiding bacon or wine can easily be tripped up by innocuous sounding but haram products like brawn or maraschino.

Five thousand copies of the non-halal food leaflet are being printed for Dubai International Airport.

Cafe sidewalk 218x300 Dubai distributes Halal food info for travelling MuslimsDubai Municipality’s food control department has produced a leaflet containing common non-halal food terms. It is available to the public, and will soon be handed out at Dubai International Airport.

“We used to get lots of requests every day asking about the food [Muslims] shouldn’t eat abroad,” said Shamsa Sulaiman, an awareness officer at the municipality.

“There are terms that even our staff didn’t know, and since the pamphlet was made a lot of people have started to come in requesting it from us.”

The directory contains a list of 19 alcoholic drinks, including vin rouge, maraschino and gin. “Some people do not realise some of these are included in ingredients, and they see these names and they don’t know they all mean alcohol,” Ms Sulaiman said.

The leaflet also gives 22 different terms that may indicate pork or pork derivatives. They range from the basic, such as ham, bacon and animal fat, to the more esoteric rasher, haslet and pepsin.

Roaa Atif, a 26-year-old from Al Ain, almost blundered on a trip to London last summer. “You’re on holiday, you go to a fancy restaurant, and of course nothing makes sense on the menu,” he said. “So you pick something randomly, thinking the name looks safe.

“I got this thing called brawn, and after they took an hour to bring it out, it turned out to be pork. I was so hungry and so tempted to eat it. I blame the waiter, who was Egyptian – he should have seen that I wear a scarf and don’t eat pork.”

Muslims should not be blamed for inadvertently eating non-halal food.

Others admitted to having accidentally had a few bites of haram food before realising what exactly they were eating.

Ghanim Sufian, 29, a Palestinian resident of Abu Dhabi, was served a beef steak cooked with alcohol last month on holiday in Spain. “It tasted funny,” he said. “I wasn’t going to ask, but then I did, and it was what it was. They should warn people.”

Hamid Ali, a 23-year-old from Dubai, resorted to vegetarian food to be safe on a recent holiday in England. “Everything was covered in pork or something,” he said. “I thought I would be anaemic, but then realised one week without meat wouldn’t kill me – but I feel sorry for Muslim residents.”

According to Islamic scholars, Muslims should not be blamed for inadvertently eating non-halal food. “It would not be held against him or her in such cases, if ever he or she commits a sin by accident, or forgets, then he is not held accountable,” said Dr Mohamed Abdulatif, a professor in Islamic studies at UAE University.

Since 2009, 92 of KFC’s 800 British outlets have been halal.

Although many Muslims living in non-Muslim countries find it difficult at first to be sure of what they are eating, most manage to adapt.

Halal butchers are now common in many non-Muslim countries. In the UK, major supermarkets including Tesco and Sainsbury’s sell a range of halal products, as do some fast-food chains. Since 2009, 92 of KFC’s 800 British outlets have been halal.

Five thousand copies of the non-halal food leaflet are being printed for Dubai International Airport. “We hope this will help people not to make mistakes again when they are out of the country,” Ms Sulaiman said. She called on non-Muslims to help by warning Muslim customers and friends about haram items.

Here’s an extract of the information available on the leaflet:

Haram items on the list

Animal fat: Animal fat from an unspecified source
Bacon: Salted pork, cut from the back or side
Bath chap: Pork from the lower cheek, on the bone
Belly: Pork cut from the underside of the animal
Brawn: Marinated pork
Bone broth: Soup containing meat of unspecified origin
Fish ham: A Japanese fish sausage made with pork fat.
Gel: Gelatinous material of unspecified source
Gammon: Smoked pork thigh
Ham: Pork thigh meat
Haslet: a herbed pork meatloaf
Lard: Pork fat
Lardine: Margerine made with pork fat
Margerine: Vegetable oil with 10 per cent added animal fat of unspecified source
Pepsin: An enzyme extracted from animal’s – especially pig’s – stomach
Pepperoni: Sausage made from unspecified meat
Rasher: A slice of bacon
Renin: An enzyme extracted from calves’ and pigs’ stomach
Saveloy: Pork frankfurters

Wine, Champagne, Brandy, Burgundy, Whiskey, Gin, Scotch, Beer, Rum, Bordeaux, Malt, Liqueur, Vodka, Mescal, Marc, Maraschino, Alcohol, Vin rouge, Vin blanc

( / 23.01.2012)

Nederlandse kinderen gedwongen met vader naar Afghanistan terug te gaan

Minister Leers.

De twee pubers van Abdul Momand uit Afghanistan moeten noodgedwongen Nederland verlaten, ondanks het feit dat ze de Nederlandse nationaliteit hebben. De vader kreeg vorige week te horen van de Immigratie- en Naturalisatie Dienst dat hij weg moet, hoewel hij tot drie keer toe van rechters te horen kreeg dat hij mocht blijven.

De Afghaanse man, die al 15 jaar in Nederland is, kan zijn kinderen Achmed Matin (16) en Diba Matin (15) niet achterlaten, omdat zijn vrouw in 2006 overleed. ‘Ik wil niet bij mijn kinderen vandaan, maar ik kan het mijn kinderen eigenlijk niet aandoen om naar Kabul te verhuizen’, aldus de vader.

Zijn kinderen spreken geen Afghaans. Momand werkt al ruim 10 jaar als conciërge bij basisschool de Sint Michaël in Hazerswoude-dorp.

De school maakt zich hard voor de zaak en wil via juridische weg hun Afghaanse conciërge hier houden, aldus de school in een verklaring aan de ouders. De advocaat van Momand overhandigt binnenkort ingezamelde handtekeningen aan minister Gerd Leers (Immigratie) om hem te bewegen een uitzondering te maken.

( / 23.01.2012)

Abbas to RT: We want to co-exist with Israel – independently

Despite pressure from the US and Israel, the Palestinian Authority has refused to accept the Israeli vision of the Middle East peace process and will continue to petition for UN membership status, the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, has told RT.

America, the only member of the UN Security Council that has not supported Palestine’s bid for statehood,  calls frequently for democratic change in the Middle East. Yet it remains reluctant to acknowledge the rights of Palestinians to self-determination, believes the President of the Palestinian Authority.

RT: Mr Abbas, Moscow is the final stop on your European tour. Palestine is still waiting for a resolution to the statehood issue. What do you expect from Russia’s leadership at this stage, when the issue of Palestinians’ legal rights is being decided according to international law?

Mahmoud Abbas: The Russian Federation, as well as the Soviet Union before it, has been regarded as one of the key and principal hopes for the Palestinian people. Since the 1970s when the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat visited Moscow, our nations have enjoyed good relations. It’s not only the result of the role that Russia plays in the region, but also due to the fact that Russia is a great power, a member of the UN Security Council and a member of the Quartet of Middle East mediators. This is why we focus so much on strengthening our relations and this is why we expect Russia to play a positive role. Recently, the Quartet took a number of steps calling for negotiations. Without doubt, we coordinate our position with Russia and several other countries to get an understanding of where Palestine stands, what it should do and what it shouldn’t. This is why we visited the UK, Germany and have now come to Russia. We hope that the talks with Israel currently underway in Jordan will result in a positive outcome. In case they fail, we would need to have a list of further steps to be taken, and in putting together that action list we want to listen to the opinion of the countries I just mentioned, and Russia in particular.

RT: Mr President, talking of negotiations, some time ago you said the Quartet was leaning towards Israel and you froze the talks for 16 months. What prompted you to start those so-called exploratory talks with Israel in Oman, talks that revealed many contradictions across several areas of the peace process, talks that have apparently failed to yield any positive results so far?

MA: True, these meetings revealed a lot of contradictions in our positions. Those were talks just for the sake of talks only, unfortunately. But we do not want to miss a single opportunity. We have never ceased negotiating with Israel. Even with George Mitchell as the US envoy, we continued an exchange of opinions at the meetings held within exploratory or indirect talks. We have never shunned mutual contacts. To be honest, we’ve never broken off negotiations with Israel.

RT: So there was no 16-month pause?

MA: There were no grounds for negotiations, because of Israel. The basis for negotiations is the acceptance of the 1967 borders or any other positions agreed by both parties. This is not our unilateral stance, it is the position of the international community. Of course, it’s closely linked with the issue of security, which is a huge problem for us. We do not accept the Israeli concept of security. It would mean another 40 years of occupation of our legitimate territory. This concept’s name is further occupation.

RT: You’ve often been criticized for saying there’s no point in continuing the 20-year-long negotiations. That has put you under constant pressure from the US and Israel. However, you have repeatedly fought off those accusations, saying that there’s no alternative to peace talks. Why are you so confident?

MA: There is no alternative to peace talks. At the moment, we are assessing and testing the ground for future talks to comply with the Quartet’s demands.

RT: For some Israeli officials, the negotiations are just a way to gain time. They say the talking games will not bring about solutions or agreement but will make time for those who know how to use it. Zionists know how to use it. What stands behind that statement?

MA: It means they want to preserve the status quo, something we completely reject. All illegal settlements, all illegal buildings must be torn down, removed from the Palestinian territories. Perhaps the Israelis have a different vision, although in the past they left their illegal settlements on the Sinai Peninsula and Sharm el-Sheikh and returned back to their borders. We have the same situation in Lebanon. They will leave some of the settlements there. Even with that, they want to preserve the existing situation on the Palestinian territories and seek to convince the international community to accept that. They want to make us accept this vision but we will never accept it.

RT: Benjamin Netanyahu said that he gave you a 21-point proposal detailing the Israeli position. By doing so he refused to meet in Ramallah despite his earlier promise. What is that document all about?

MA: I met him three times in September 2010, first in Washington, on an invitation from President Obama, and a second time in Sharm el-Sheikh. The third time we met was on 25 September 2010 at his house in Jerusalem, where we talked for four hours and discussed all the issues, yet the talks ended with no positive results – no discontinuation of the development of the Occupied Territories, no changes to security policies “the Israeli way” – they intend to occupy the West Bank and the Heights for another 40 years. This is colonial policy and colonialist logic. This is not the logic of a person interested in constructive talks and peaceful coexistence with his neighbors. I do not refuse to meet, but I need to have a good reason. Now I get this 21-point proposal, and what are these 21 points? Are they just some headlines, or indeed a list of 21 issues that need to be addressed by our peoples? As of today, we only need to discuss and solve two issues: borders and security. Why would we want to add more issues to our agenda? Did he think it was some sort of a secret? But it is not news and it’s not of any practical use either. It is not appropriate for a prime minister to submit this way a document that simply enumerates some issues such as borders, security, the Jewish state, etc., with no clear indication of what is actually expected of the other party.

RT:Do you think current events in the Arab world could strengthen your position in the peace talks and help to resolve the Palestinian issue internationally?

MA: There is still no clear position common to all Arab countries. Yes, there are revolutionary changes taking place, but it will take time to figure out what results they have brought about. The countries we want to work with in order to strengthen our position still need time to get back on their feet and build their states under the new conditions. However, the general Arab stance on the Palestinian issue has not changed. The people who lead these revolutions are the same people who supported the Palestinians in their pursuit of independence, and these people have not changed. What has changed is their attitude towards their leaders and their governments, but that is their internal matter and we don’t get involved. The Arab stance on the Palestinian issue has remained the same.

RT: Mr. President, you promised the Quartet that you wouldn’t take any action at international level until January 26th. But if the talks do fail, according to Nabil Shaath (Acting Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority), you have plans to mount unprecedented diplomatic pressure on Israel, to make it feel completely isolated, rather like South Africa, when the international community condemned apartheid. Is that true?

MA: We want to live together, to co-exist with Israel. But at the same time we want to stop its illegal settlements on the land that doesn’t belong to it. We want to tell the world that Israel’s policy is unlawful. Their occupation of our land is illegal. But we are not saying that Israel as a state doesn’t have a legal right to exist. So the diplomatic campaign underway is legal. We have already been recognized by 130 states, and I am sure that in the near future the list will grow to include 150-160 countries. It is our duty to continue this work. What is going to happen after January 26th? At the beginning of February, the Arab peace initiative follow-up committee will hold a meeting where we will present a full report on what has been done and what still needs to be done, as well as our vision of the future of the peace process. We will work out our final positions based on the committee’s decisions. But we don’t want to pile up all our plans. There needs to be a certain order.

RT:Mr. President, your address to the UN General Assembly was very emotional. It could truly be called an historic event. But as it turned out, it still wasn’t enough to convince nine members of the UN Security Council to grant the Palestinian Authority the status of full UN membership. Would it be possible to continue with the talks if you agreed to the status of a non-member observer state?

MA: In the UN Security Council we received eight votes, but we need nine. Still, we are not upset. Everyone is pressured to vote against our membership. Today, we refuse the idea of being a non-member observer state – though everything is possible. I am not saying that it can’t be – everything is possible. If you ask me about the official position of the Palestinian state on this issue, I will give you the answer – we seek full membership. We will apply for a second, for a third time etc., until we get our bid approved.

RT: In a number of Arab countries, people are now obsessed with the idea of overthrowing existing regimes, while Palestine has embarked on the path of reconciliation. Mr. President, why did the attempt to create a national unity government end in failure, and in general, what has been achieved in terms of social and political reforms?

MA: First of all, our attempts did not fail. We do not wish to create a national unity government. My personal suggestion was to create a neutral transitional technocratic government, a non-aligned government comprised of experts that would work until the election. This is not a national unity government. And its creation is already under way. We have achieved agreement on many issues. And I sensed some significant political improvement during the talks in Cairo, when Hamas delivered an agreement. There was an abyss between us earlier. Now, they have agreed to switch to a non-violent standoff mode with no more bloodshed. They agreed with the requirement of establishing the 1967 borderline and to running the election in May this year. That means we can talk about progress here. Our committees are working hard to implement these plans as soon as possible. Reforms are under way, and the government will be a transitional one.

RT: Thank you very much for being with us today. We wish you every possible success in the implementation of political reforms and the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state.

( / 23.01.2012)

Masked Settlers Launch “Price Tag” Attack on Palestinian Village

There is a constant threat of violence facing Palestinians who live close to Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law. In total, seven incidents of settler violence were documented by Al-Haq’s field researchers in different areas across the West Bank last week. (For more information seeAl-Haq’s interactive map on settler violence)

WF-19-01-2012.MapIn one incident, three masked settlers launched a late-night arson attack against the Palestinian village of Deir Istiya village (Salfit governorate), burning three cars. Deir Istiya is located 20 kilometers northeast of Salfit and is nearby two settlements; Yakir to the west and Rafafa to the south (see map on the left).

The attack on Deir Istiya was yet another example of the “Price Tag” policy whereby violence against Palestinians or their property are deliberate acts of “revenge” for any action by the Israeli authorities affecting the settler community in the West Bank.

The following is an eyewitness account of the attack.

Ra’ed ‘Izzat Mansour

Wf-19-01-2012.1At around 1:30 am on 11 January, Ra’ed heard a strange noise outside his window. He got up to check what was happening and he could see three men standing next to a red Peugeot car, speaking in Hebrew. The men were dressed in civilian clothes and had white masks on.

When Ra’ed saw one of the men positioning a plastic bottle on the front cover of his uncle’s car, he began shouting in Hebrew for the men to go away.

One of the intruders then lit the plastic bottle before running away with the others. Ra’ed called for help and was able to put out the fire together with his cousins and uncles. However they then noticed that a second fire was burning about 50 meters away. At first they thought it was the village mosque but when they ran closer, they realised that two more cars had been set on fire.

Wf-19-01-2012.2Ra’ed also saw that the intruders had spray painted “Gal Ariyeh Yosef – price tag” in Hebrew on the exterior walls of the mosque. Gal Ariyeh Yosef is an outpost about 15 kilometers away from Deir Istiya, which was recently dismantled.

Israeli Military jeeps, followed by an Israeli police car, arrived at the scene at around 3:00 am. They recorded Ra’ed’s statement, took pictures and collected material evidence. About 30 minutes later, Ra’ed received a call from the Israeli police department asking that he goes to the Ariel police station so as to provide another written testimony. He refused to do so without an official written request (Al-Haq Affidavit No.7017).

( / 23.01.2012)

IOF soldiers detain 9 Palestinians, attack sportsmen, activists

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– Israeli occupation forces (IOF) detained nine Palestinian citizens in various West Bank areas at dawn Monday, Hebrew press reported.

The website of Hebrew daily Yediot Ahronot quoted army sources as saying that the Palestinians were “wanted”.

Dozens of IOF soldiers had stormed the house of a Palestinian in Bir Al-Basha village, to the west of Jenin, on Sunday at the pretext that its owner Abdulhakim Gawadra had tried to attack Israeli soldiers at the Qalandia crossing, north of Ramallah, earlier Sunday.

Local sources said that an intelligence officer accompanied the soldiers, adding that they took photos inside the house, threatened his family, and questioned his brothers.

The soldiers also broke into many homes in the village and searched them, the sources said, noting that Gawadra was mysteriously injured at the Qalandia crossing and that his family said that he had disappeared a few months ago and that he was mentally unstable.

Meanwhile, IOF soldiers attacked a soccer stadium in Kufl Hares village, north of Salfit, and attacked the players.

Locals said that IOF soldiers in five armored vehicles stormed the stadium and fired tear gas and stun grenades at the players who were competing in a local championship before beating them.

In another incident on Sunday, IOF soldiers attacked a land defense center in Tal Al-Rumaida in Al-Khalil and beat up volunteers working in it.

The soldiers detained the center’s coordinator and threatened to kill him if he ever ventured anew into the center.

Issa Amr said after his release that the soldiers took him handcuffed and blindfolded to a nearby army base where he was beaten and threatened with liquidation. He said that Jewish settlers spat at him and tried to beat him.

He said that the IOF and settlers’ practices would not deter him from performing his role in defense of Palestinian land and in resisting occupation.

( / 23.01.2012)

Hamas: Elections commission can reopen Gaza offices ‘anytime’

A security officer casts his vote in parliamentary elections in Gaza City on Jan. 21 2006.
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Hamas on Monday rejected criticism that it had failed to open the Central Election Commission’s headquarters in Gaza.

CEC chairman Hanna Nasir said Monday that the Hamas-run government had not reopened elections offices in the Gaza Strip despite pledging to do so two weeks ago.

The Interior Ministry in Gaza responded in a statement that no official had visited the office.

“The CEC can open its headquarters anytime,” the Hamas-run ministry said.

The West Bank and Gaza have been divided under separate governments since 2007 when Hamas took control of Gaza.

Hamas won the last elections, which were held in 2006, but the party’s rivalry with Fatah has paralyzed legislative and electoral processes and a new vote is overdue. Electoral records in the Gaza Strip have not been updated since 2006.

Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement last May and agreed to hold presidential and legislative elections within one year, a pledge party leaders reiterated in November.

Factions also agreed to form a joint government of technocrats to oversee the vote, but Hamas and Fatah spared over who should lead the administration and it has yet to established.

( / 23.01.2012)

Israel detains 2 more lawmakers

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Monday detained two Palestinian MPs during a raid on the Jerusalem headquarters of the International Red Cross.

Mohammad Tawtah and former Jerusalem affairs’ minister Khalid Abu Arafa are being questioned by Israeli police on suspicion of conducting “Hamas activities inside Jerusalem,” Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Ma’an.

The elected officials took refuge at the Red Cross building in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah in July 2010 along with lawmaker Ahmad Attoun after Israel revoked their residency permits.

Attoun was detained at the ICRC office in September by paramilitary police disguised as Palestinians, a security guard at the building said.

The ICRC said Tawtah and Abu Arafa were arrested inside its premises, and said a relative of one of the men was also detained in a statement Monday.

The ICRC has said it told Israeli authorities that international humanitarian law prohibited the forcible transfer of Palestinian residents from their homes, for whatever reason.

The organization also said it had informed Hamas members in its compound that ICRC premises had no special status and it could not prevent police entering to arrest them.

At the ICRC compound, a crowd of Palestinians smashed its gate to protest against what they saw as the failure of the organization to protect the MPs. Hamas noted the two men were legislators and should enjoy immunity from arrest.

The arrests of Tawtah and Abu Arafa came days after Israeli forces detained two MPs in the West Bank, including the speaker of the Palestinian parliament Aziz Dweik, bringing the number of lawmakers in Israeli detention to 27.

On Monday, lawmakers protested Dweik’s arrest in Ramallah and urged international parliaments to intervene.

“The speaker of the Legislative Council, Dr. Aziz Dweik, has been kidnapped for the second time — in a terrorist way — by these gangs that are controlling this occupied country,” PLC member Ahmad Mubarak said.

Dweik faced an Israeli military court on Sunday but the trial was postponed.

“Because we decided re-open the legislative council meetings sessions. They do not want me to open the session of the council meeting,” Dweik told reporters in Ofer military court.

All four lawmakers detained in the last week are affiliated to Hamas, and the movement accused Israel of trying to thwart the party’s reconciliation with Fatah.

The Palestinian parliament has been inactive since Hamas ousted Fatah from the Gaza Strip in 2007, a year after Hamas won parliamentary elections.

The parties signed a reconciliation agreement in May 2011 but it has yet to be implemented.

( / 23.01.2012)

Hebron`s diminishing factory life

Artistic glass products, hand-made ceramics and Palestine’s one and only producer of the Keffiyeh, the traditional Palestinian scarf, Hebron’s factory district used to be flourishing.

Times have changed, however, amid an increase in settler violence, the economic crisis and a flood of cheaper-made Chinese products. The city’s old, family-run factories are struggling to survive.

Here’s a look into the secret life of the Hebron manufacturing district’s graffiti-sprayed walls, ever-struggling businesses and the beauty of the unique products still being made.

( / 23.01.2012)