Settlers attack Palestinian citizens and cars eastern Qalqilya



NABLUS, (PIC)– Jewish settlers attacked vehicles of Palestinian citizens on the Nablus – Qalqilya road, near the settlement of Qadumim built on the lands of Kafr Qaddum village eastern Qalqilya, in the northern West Bank.

Informed local sources and eyewitnesses confirmed to PIC that groups of settlers from the Qadumim settlement and the adjacent settlements attacked the passing vehicles and broke windows of some cars.

Meanwhile, settlers from the outpost of Havad Gilad set up on the lands of Sarra village, western of Nablus, have also attacked and vandalized Palestinians vehicles.

These settlers’ attacks came after the Palestinian marches organized in various towns and villages in the West Bank, including the town of Kafr Qaddum, in rejection of the continued Israeli settlement policies.

(Source / 23.03.2013)

No Mothers’ Day for women held in G4S-equipped prisons

The British-Danish firm G4S equips Israeli prisoners, where Palestinian women are treated in a degrading manner.

Over the last 45 years, Israel has arrested or detained 10,000 Palestinian women from the West Bank and Gaza, according to prisoners rights organization Addameer. The women are held mainly in Hasharon and Damon prisons inside Israel. The transfer of prisoners into Israel amounts to a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention which states that “persons accused of offenses shall be detained in the occupied country.”

Who Profits? (a project of the Coalition of Women for Peace based in Tel Aviv) has reported that the British-Danish security firm G4S has been involved in both prisons. The occupation watchdog has stated on its website that G4S Israel has provided the entire security system and equipment for the central control room in Hasharon compound. Furthermore, the company has provided security services to Damon.


Today, 12 female Palestinian prisoners are held in Hasharon prison inside Israel, according to a statement from Addameer. The conditions in Hasharon are extremely difficult for the women:

they are held in overcrowded cells, with lack of access to basic human needs such as hygiene, nutritious food and proper clothing and blankets. Furthermore, female prisoners are subjected to harsh conditions during their interrogation, including beatings, insults, threats, sexual harassment and humiliation by Israeli interrogators. Often they must undergo degrading and intrusive body searches during transfers to court hearings and sometimes during the middle of the night as a punitive measure.

Pregnant in prison

Between 2003 and 2008, Addameer has documented four cases of women who gave birth in Israeli detention. The organization lists the experiences of the women in its statement:

Pregnant prisoners are not afforded special diets, living space or transfers to hospitals during their detention. During labor, they are chained to their beds until they enter the delivery rooms and shackled once again after giving birth. Under Israeli law, a female prisoner may request that her child live with her in prison until he/she reaches the age of two. However, the detainee and her child are not given additional living space or improved living conditions.

Israel should have ensured access to “appropriate services in connection with pregnancy, confinement and the post-natal period, granting free services where necessary, as well as adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.” These rights are enshrined in the international Convention to End all Discrimination Against Women. Israel ratified that charter in 1981.

Family visits forbidden

Children are often denied the right to visit their mother in prison, which is yet another obstacle for women to play their role as mothers. On Palestinian Mother’s Day — which fell yesterday — Addameer profiled four female prisoners who did not see their children:

Salwa Hassan (55) from Hebron, is the eldest female prisoner in the occupation’s jails. She is the mother of six children, all of whom have been forbidden from visiting her at some point during her detention. She has only allowed two visits since her arrest. Her sons Munther and Ibrahim have been arrested by Israel numerous times as well. Daughter Rula reflected on her mother’s absence during Mother’s Day:

Five hundred and sixteen days after her detention began, I was able to see my mother for 45 minutes behind a glass barrier. When I saw my mother behind the glass after a year and a half of detention, I collapsed in tears. When I saw her, I was hoping that I could hug and kiss her but I was too shocked. I tried to speak with her and take advantage of the limited time we were given, despite my intense longing for her and my concern for her and her health. She assured me that she would be freed soon and that only 90 days of waiting remained. I would have liked to have her with us today to celebrate Mothers’ Day. I see people around me with flowers and presents and it makes me miss my mother, who is languishing in the prisons of this oppressive occupation.

Nawal al-Saidi (53) from Jenin was arrested on 5 November 2012. She has six sons and five daughters. Two of her sons, Abdelkarim and Ibrahim, were killed during attacks by the Israeli military in Jenin. Her family has been forbidden from visiting her, and has only seen her once since her arrest.

Asma al-Batran (24) from Hebron was arrested on 27 August 2012 and sentenced to ten months for her participation in political activities in her university. A mother of six, she was studying at Hebron University at the time of her arrest.

Entesar al-Sayad (38) from Jerusalem was arrested on 22 November 2012 and sentenced to two and a half years. She is the mother of four children.

(Source / 23.03.2013)

Obama employee of Zionist entity: Hezbollah

US President Barack Obama (L) is honored by Israeli President Shimon Peres.

US President Barack Obama (L) is honored by Israeli President Shimon Peres.
The Lebonese resistance movement of Hezbollah has condemned Barack Obama’s call for listing the group as a terrorist organization, saying the US president is an “employee of Israel.”
“He speaks like an employee of the Zionist entity (Israel) and not the highest-ranking official in the administration of the independent state that is the United States,” the group said in a statement issued on Friday night.

Referring to Obama’s efforts at brokering peace between the Israeli regime and Palestinians to realize the two-state plan, Hezbollah said “Obama wants the Arabs to accept the enemy entity as a Jewish state in the region and begin complete normalization with it while he fails to mention any of the just demands of the Palestinians.”

The statement added that Obama’s call for considering the group as a terrorist organization writes off negotiations as the correct path and further proves that resistance is the only choice.

“This (Obama’s call) confirms the folly of counting on negotiations and proves that the choice of resistance is correct.”

The statement came after Obama urged governments to blacklist Hezbollah as a “terrorist organization.”

The US has also called on the European Union to join Washington in listing the Lebanese movement. However the 27-nation bloc has so far resisted the deman.

Obama arrived in Jordan to hold talks with King Abdullah II earlier in the day on the last leg of his Middle East tour.

The two sides are expected to discuss the crisis in neighboring Syria and the so-called Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The US president began its three-day trip to the region on March 20 and met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, where he reiterated his all-out support for the regime.

He also paid a visit to the occupied West Bank and met with acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Thursday, a move which triggered widespread protests among Palestinians.

(Source / 23.03.2013)

Ex-TD rejects Israel apology for ship attack

A FORMER TD who was on a flotilla that was attacked by Israeli forces has described an apology from the country’s government as “too little, too late”.

Fianna Fail’s Chris Andrews was among those on board MV Saoirse – the aid vessel that was part of a flotilla sabotaged by secret Israeli agents in 2010.


Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday apologised to the families of nine Turkish activists who were killed on another ship in the flotilla, Mavia Marmara.

Mr Netanyahu apologised to Turkey for “any errors that could have led to loss of life”.

He also pledged to compensate the families of the Turkish men who were killed while the boat was under siege. The Mavia Marmara was part of the same flotilla as the MV Saoirse, which was also sabotaged by Israeli forces.

Speaking to the Herald from Gaza, Mr Andrews rejected the apology. “I was in Cyprus at the time and was trying to get out into international waters to board the Mavi Mara. The Cypriot authorities wouldn’t allow it. In hindsight, it was probably not a bad thing.

“I feel the apology is not going to make any difference to ordinary people living in Gaza, unfortunately. It won’t improve the desperate conditions young people are living under, given that Gaza is effectively an open- air prison.”

(Source / 23.03.2013)

Haneyya: Erdogan to visit Gaza in mid April



GAZA, (PIC)– Palestinian premier in Gaza Ismail Hanneya announced on Friday night that Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan is planning to visit Gaza by mid April.

Haneyya, in a statement at a Hamas-organized rally west of Gaza, said that Erdogan had also phoned Khaled Mishaal, the political bureau chairman of Hamas, and told him of Israel’s acceptance to its demands of apology, compensation, and lifting Gaza blockade so as to restore relations after the Israeli deadly attack on Mavi Marmara aid ship.

The premier, who was speaking at the rally held on the 9th anniversary of Israel’s assassination of Hamas co-founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, said that Israel had failed in its goal of assassinating Yassin mainly to wipe out his legacy, principles, and steadfastness amongst the Palestinian people.

(Source / 23.03.2013)

Iraq: ‘You didn’t fall… we pushed you’

The Iraq invasion cannot be reasonably described as a case of “humanitarian intervention”, argues Brahimi.

The Bush administration’s principal stated justification for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was to “disarm” Saddam Hussein of his weapons of mass destruction
“Are you here to work or… work?” a Basra airport security guard asked sympathetically.  I was standing on a small wooden platform behind a flimsy curtain, as she waved her hand-held metal detector across my body.

She had guessed my North African origins from my features and my accent, and was, I suppose, trying to make sense of the fact that I had arrived in Basra, in May 2010, alone.

“Good God!” I thought. I was in Iraq to conduct research on human security in Basra, for a research project at LSE.

Before I could answer, she directed me out of the cubicle with a sentiment that I was to hear repeated, albeit in different combinations of words, over the coming days.

“Don’t worry, there’s no shame in it, or anything here anymore. We have fallen so far.  We are alive but not living.

“May God be with you, my sister.”

Every Basrawi I spoke to judged that the US invasion had made an emphatically negative impact on their lives. They spoke of daily killings, the brutalisation of society, the decimation of infrastructure, a sharp rise in birth defects and domestic violence, soaring unemployment, particularly among young men, rampant rape and crime, and corruption levels unmatched by Saddam and his henchmen. The dominant motif was nostalgia for the Saddam era, even here, among communities which had fared worst under the Baathist regime.

By the most conservative estimates, 100,000 Iraqis perished in the invasion and its bloody aftermath, with large scale attacks continuing to this day. A recent report by Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, found that a good deal of $60bn spent by the US on rebuilding Iraq (that is, $15m a day for nine years) had been stolen or wasted. Despite a national budget of $100bn, the everyday grind in Iraq is exacerbated by woeful standards of service delivery, particularly with regard to electricity and sanitation. But how was the violent imposition of new dynamics in Iraq justified by the Bush administration in 2003, and which of its arguments have stood the test of (a decade of) time?

Weapons of mass destruction 

The Bush administration’s principal stated justification for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was to “disarm” Saddam Hussein of his WMD.

A sophisticated case rendered the Iraqi stockpile both knowable and unknowable simultaneously. Bush administration officials offered detailed catalogues of deadly materials, including 25,000 litres of anthrax, 500 tonnes of sarin, VX nerve agents, 38,000 litres of botulinum toxin, Scud-variant ballistic missiles, and five different methods of enriching uranium for a nuclear bomb. That Saddam possessed and concealed these dangerous weapons was said to be beyond doubt (Cheney, August 27, 2002; Powell, February 5, 2003; Bush, March 17, 2003).

Follow Al Jazeera coverage of the past decade

Yet this certainty was coupled with a subtle case for the inherent mysteriousness of the stockpile, which both heightened the perception of danger and lowered the burden of proof. The regime was said to be moving its arsenal, tunnelling underground and “housecleaning” to evade inspectors. The secretive nature of Saddam’s regime was also invoked as mitigation for the absence of iron-clad proof – “the first time we can be completely certain he has nuclear weapons is when, God forbid, he uses one” (Bush, September 12, 2002).

The WMD assertion was also pivotal to the attempt to justify the war along the lines of conventional self-defence, through the doctrine of pre-emption. Although no Iraqi attack on the US was imminent, the Bush administration employed an expansive conception of threat – to “civilisation” and to our “way of life” – which was used to finesse the distinction between pre-empting an imminent attack, largely regarded as legitimate in the just war tradition, and the more dubious doctrine of preventive warfare. Bush explicitly adapted the concept of “imminent threat” by invoking the disproportionately destructive nature of WMD. He argued that the existence of such weapons required that the US confront threats before they fully materialise.

There had been serious doubts about the viability of the Bush administration’s intelligence about WMD before the war commenced, and no evidence of WMD was later uncovered in Iraq. Douglas Feith’s insistence in 2004 that “no one can properly assert that the failure, so far, to find Iraqi WMD stockpiles undermines the reasons for war” was jarring, given that disarming Saddam of WMD was the principal reason for war, and that the WMD claim was integral to the argument for pre-emptive self-defence.

The al-Qaeda connection 

The WMD issue was also crucial to the second strand of Bush’s case for war, which was to assert a link between Iraq and the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. The claim was made so forcefully that, five months after the invasion of Iraq, a Washington Post poll found that almost 70 percent of Americans believed Saddam was personally involved in the 9/11 attacks.

Iraq was said to be a material ally of al-Qaeda. The Bush administration posited a “sinister nexus” between Saddam and Osama bin Laden’s men, involving an alliance dating from the 1990s, combined training in biological and chemical weaponry, and clandestine meetings in Prague. But in reality, in the words of former counterterrorism specialist Dick Clarke, “there’s absolutely no evidence that Iraq was supporting al-Qaeda, ever”.

A second feature of the Bush administration’s link between Iraq and al-Qaeda was an implied ideological affinity. According to Bush, there was such a thing as an “ideology of terror”, and it was suggested that the Baath party and the al-Qaeda network shared it. However, while Baathism’s ideological aims were secular, socialist and pan-Arab, al-Qaeda’s objectives were religious, fundamentalist and pan-Islamic, involving a global insurgency aimed at subverting the institution of the nation state. In fact, bin Laden had railed against Saddam Hussein since the early 1990s, denouncing him as a thief and an apostate, and declaring the Baath party to be infidel. At the same time, excessive religiosity was seen as threat to Iraqi national unity, and Saddam was well known for his brutal crackdowns on clerics and their families.

The third element of the Iraq-al-Qaeda connection was the implication that Saddam and his cronies were themselves “terrorists”. Shortly after 9/11, the Bush administration began referring to “the terror regime in Iraq”, eliding the difference between the way in which a dictator terrorises his own population and terrorism, as it is conventionally understood. Rumsfeld exemplified this well when he spoke of “the tyranny of terrorism”, just as Wolfowitz took to describing Iraq’s alleged WMD stockpile as “weapons of mass terror”.

Dick Cheney’s prognosis that an Iraq invasion would mean “extremists in the region would have to rethink their strategy of jihad” was disputed before the invasion (for example, Jacques Chirac: “a war of this kind… would create a large number of little bin Ladens”) and challenged by events after it. Bin Laden himself viewed the US invasion of Iraq as “a golden and unique opportunity”. In the context of a political power vacuum, and on the back of an insurgency catalysed by a newly disenfranchised Sunni community, jihadi groups proliferated in Iraq – and continue to wreak havoc, 10 years on.

Liberating Iraqis 

Bush’s first two arguments for war were widely doubted before the invasion, and disproved shortly afterwards. Since 2005, the dominant justification for the invasion of Iraq has been the overthrow of a vicious regime and the rescue of the Iraqi people from oppression. But this is problematic.

The Iraq invasion cannot be reasonably described as a case of “humanitarian intervention” for three reasons. The means used in the war – a “shock and awe” bombing campaign, including the use of cluster munitions in populated areas – were clearly not designed with the objective of safeguarding Iraqi civilians. Secondly, there was no evidence of the triggering mechanism for a humanitarian intervention, such as mass slaughter or crimes that shock humanity. Saddam had a terrible track record but, during the run-up to war, no such crimes were ongoing or imminent. Third, humanitarian motives were clearly not dominant, as the war would probably not have occurred in the absence of the issues of WMD and/or the al-Qaeda connection. During his February 2003 presentation to the UN, even Colin Powell’s slidesrelated to Saddam’s human rights violations were labelled, “Iraq: Failing to Disarm”.

“The forms of democracy and pluralism are present through provincial and national elections, but their substance is elusive.”


More importantly, however, Iraqis continue to labour under the shadow of authoritarianism. The forms of democracy and pluralism are present through provincial and national elections, but their substance is elusive. Saddam he is not, yet President Nouri al-Maliki presides over secret jails and torture sites, arbitrary arrests and detention without trial, unprecedented levels of corruption, discriminatory laws, the politicisation of the judiciary and the security forces, and the entrenchment of sectarianism. In recent months, he appears to have accelerated the move to concentrate power in his own hands.

These dark continuities have been coupled with the new realities of persistent insecurity – that is, Iraqis have been suspended between the abuses of Maliki’s “strong” state and the prospect of state collapse.

Albeit on a lesser scale, the inter-communal violence sparked by the downfall of Saddam, and the Bush administration’s failure to prepare for its aftermath, is currently on an upward curve. Last year brought a number of coordinated high casualty attacks, involving roadside bombings, mortars and rockets, with a death rate of between 150 and 350 per month.

The Iraq Security Forces, which is comprised of 700,000 men and which recently purchased 36 F-16 fighter jets from the US, appear weak in the face of a resurgent al-Qaeda in Iraq, which enjoys increasing freedom of movement throughout the country. The aim is to destabilise the government through constant attacks and to capitalise on the sectarian undertones of the crisis in Syria and the al-Anbar protests. Iraq is increasingly caught in the crosshairs of the showdown between Bashar al-Assad and his local and international opponents. Beyond the (Shia) government’s support for the (Shia) Assad regime, an alliance determined to some extent by Maliki’s closeness to the Iranians, more than 42 Syrian army soldiers were massacred on Iraqi soil on March 4. In a hateful sectarian diatribe, al-Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack.

At the same time, a domestic crisis is brewing. Chanting “Either Iraq or Maliki!”, tens of thousands of protesters in the mainly Sunni al-Anbar province have pitched tents and blocked highways, decrying the government’s marginalisation of Sunni leaders, its draconian anti-terror laws, widely seen as targeting the Sunni sect, and its corruption and inefficiency. Iraq’s Kurdish authorities in the North of the country have also engaged in a stand-off with the Maliki government, centred on decision-making rights regarding oil contracts, internal border disputes, and wider disaffection with Maliki’s centralising tendencies. “He is proceeding with violating the foundations of the constitution on a daily basis”, said Kurdish MP Mahmoud Othman.

Optimistic readings of the situation in Iraq, 10 years on, will focus on the end of Saddam Hussein’s reign of terror, the existence of elections and the export of 2.5 million barrels of oil a day. Tony Blair would go further, suggesting, as he did, that, had there be no invasion, Iraqis would have moved to topple Saddam and the situation would look “a lot more like Syria” – as though the tragedy of the Iraq invasion and its aftermath were not comparable to Syria, in terms of the numbers of dead, maimed, disappeared and made homeless, the trafficked children, the war widows forced into begging or prostitution, the lost generation of men. As though the poisonous dynamic of a foreign and largely unwanted occupying presence were incidental to the persisting cycles of bloodshed, and our ultimate responsibility irrelevant to the moral balance.

I corrected the security guard at Basra airport. Not about the lady of the night assumption, which was amusing and neither here nor there as far as I was concerned. Instead, I admitted I was a US citizen. “You didn’t fall,” I said. “We pushed you.”

(Source / 23.03.2013)

Israel promises to lift blockade on Palestinian territories: Turkish PM

RAMALLAH, March 22 (Xinhua) — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday phoned Palestinian leaders following his Israeli counterpart’s apology to Turkey over a 2010 raid against Gaza-bound Turkish flotilla and said Israel has promised to lift the blockade on imports to the Palestinian areas.

After the apology, agreement was reached between Turkey and Israel to normalize the bilateral relations.

The official Palestinian news agency Wafa said that President Mahmoud Abbas extended “his deep appreciation to the Turkish government’s positions that support the Palestinian cause and the peace process.”

Meanwhile, a Hamas statement said that Erdogan called Khaled Mashaal, the politburo chief of the militant group that controls Gaza, and told him that Israel has promised to compensate the families of the Turkish victims and to relax the blockade on imports to the Palestinian areas.

Hamas, according to the statement, considered the Israeli apology as “a victory and big achievement for Turkey.”

U.S. President Barack Obama brokered the phone call between Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just ahead of his departure after a three-day visit.

Turkey severed diplomatic and security ties with Israel after nine of its citizens were killed in May 2010 during a violent confrontation with Israeli commandos onboard the Mavi Marmara, part of an international six-vessel flotilla of pro-Palestinian activists who sought to breach the maritime blockade Israel imposes on the Gaza Strip.

(Source / 23.03.2013)

Erdogan says Israeli apology shows Turkey’s new clout

ISTANBUL (Reuters) — Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday an Israeli apology for the 2010 deaths of nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists that was brokered by US President Barack Obama met Turkey’s conditions and signaled its growing regional influence.

“We are entering a new period in both Turkey and the region,” said Erdogan, who plans to visit the Palestinian territories, including the Gaza Strip, next month.

“We are at the beginning of a process of elevating Turkey to a position so that it will again have a say, initiative and power, as it did in the past.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a phone call on Friday, agreed to meet Turkey’s three conditions for normalizing relations, Erdogan said.

These were a clear apology, compensation to the victims’ families and a relaxation of the blockade against Gaza, Erdogan told a rally broadcast live from the western town of Eskisehir.

Israel bowed to a demand by Ankara to apologize formally for the deaths nearly three years ago aboard the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish vessel carrying humanitarian aid and challenging Israel’s naval blockade of the Palestinian-run Gaza Strip.

The men died after Israeli marines stormed the ship.

The incident wrecked diplomatic ties between Turkey and Israel, once strategic partners.

Muslim Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador and froze military cooperation after a UN report into the incident released in September 2011 largely exonerated Israel.

“I expressed that normalizing (relations), which will facilitate regional peace, would depend on these steps,” Erdogan told reporters on the train to Eskisehir, CNN Turk said.

Reviving the relationship is seen as a key source of stability as the two countries and their Western allies confront civil war in Syria and the prospects of a nuclear-armed Iran.

Erdogan also told the crowd that Obama, who was in Israel on Friday for talks with Netanyahu, had called him before passing the telephone to the Israeli premier to apologize.

The Turkish leader said Netanyahu had told him restrictions on consumer goods reaching Gaza and the West Bank would also be lifted and pledged to seek Turkish help in improving humanitarian conditions in the Palestinian territories.

(Source / 23.03.2013)

Twitter is for clowns: Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti

Saudi Grand Mufti Sheik Abdul-Aziz al-Sheikh

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti has criticized the social media website Twitter as a “council of clowns” and a place for those who “unleash unjust, incorrect and wrong tweets.”

Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul-Aziz al-Sheikh made the statements during a speech to Saudi Arabia’s senior religious scholars on Friday, the Saudi-based al-Watan newspaper reported Saturday.

The Grand Mufti argued that the most of young people are wasting their time on chatting and using the internet, especially Twitter.

Saudi Arabia has three million Twitter users, more than any country in the Middle East, with a growth rate of 300 percent year-on-year, according to a report by the Social Clinic, a Jeddah-based social media consultancy.

Between 2011 and 2012, the number of Twitter users in the kingdom grew by 3,000 percent. The kingdom accounts for an average 50 million tweets per month most of which made in the Arabic language.

“Saudi Arabia has not been selfish either, with most of the tweets being in Arabic, Saudi Arabia accounts for 30 percent of the global tweets tweeted in Arabic, placing Arabic at the top of the pyramid of the fastest growing languages on Twitter, yes Arabic is the fastest growing language on Twitter,” according to statement published at the consultancy website

The capital Riyadh ranks 10 globally among the cities with most Tweets and is the only Arab city in the top 20 cities, according to the report.

In other social media platforms, with more than 6 million active Facebook users, Saudi Arabia has the highest Facebook user rate in the GCC, according to The Social Clinic.

(Source / 23.03.2013)

Israel opens fire at Gaza fishermen to impose new limit

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli forces opened fire at fishermen off Gaza’s coast on Saturday, forcing them to comply with a newly imposed reduced fishing zone following a rocket attack on southern Israel.

Israel’s army announced Thursday that the fishing zone for Palestinians in Gaza would be reduced from six to three miles following a rocket attack.

Fishermen in Gaza told Ma’an that Israel’s navy opened fire at them on Saturday to prevent them from going out further than 3 miles.

Mahfouth Kabariti, head of a federation for fishermen and water sports, confirmed that the Israeli navy had set up new signs defining the permitted fishing zone.

The zone had been extended to 11 km as part of an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that ended an eight-day conflict between Israel and Hamas in November, in which 166 Palestinians and six Israelis were killed.

The newly imposed Israeli restriction does not necessarily mean that Israel has abandoned the ceasefire agreement, Gaza-based political analyst Wisam Afifa told Ma’an.

Rather, Israel is trying to use the terms of the agreement which affect humanitarian issues as a means to exert pressure on Hamas and other Palestinian resistance factions to adhere to the ceasefire deal, he said.

“When missiles are fired by an unidentified source in Gaza, that leaves question marks about the launchers and their goals,” he added.

Hamas complained to Egypt on Friday after Israel suspended part of a Cairo-brokered truce agreement. An Egyptian official confirmed that the Hamas complaint had been received, saying Israel had complained separately about the rocket attack.

The official said Cairo would contact both sides to “restore their commitment to the truce”.

Magles Shoura al-Mujahedeen, a hardline Islamist Salafi faction with a small presence in Gaza and the neighboring Egyptian Sinai, claimed responsibility for the salvo on Sderot.

In an online statement, the group said it had struck during Obama’s visit to show up Israeli air defenses – a likely reference to Israel’s US-backed Iron Dome rocket shield.

(Source / 23.03.2013)