Israeli forces open fire at Palestinian farmers, shepherds in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli forces opened fire on a group of Palestinian farmers and shepherds in eastern Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday, according to eyewitnesses.Witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli forces deployed at the border fence opened fire on Palestinians who were in nearby agricultural lands, with no injuries reported.An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an they had no information regarding shots being fired in Khan Yunis.Israeli military forces have opened fire on Palestinian farmers near the border at least six times since the beginning of 2016, injuring one in January.Forces also entered the besieged enclave with bulldozers and leveled agricultural lands on Tuesday near the village of Khuzza in the southeastern Gaza Strip.Palestinian farmers and fishermen face frequent fire from Israeli forces inside of or near the military-imposed “buffer zone.” While the exact limits of the zone are often unclear, they are enforced with live fire on both land and seaside borders of Gaza.The Israeli army often says in such circumstances that the use of live fire is necessary to deter potential “security threats,” a policy that has in effect destroyed much of the agricultural and fishing sectors of the impoverished Palestinian territory, which has been under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007.

(Source / 19.03.2016)

Protest in Latrun against Israeli decision to evacuate Bedouins

NEGEV, (PIC)– Palestinian Bedouins from the Negev intend on Saturday evening to organize a rally in protest at an Israeli decision to evacuate them from their homes near Wahat al-Salam village in Latrun area. The Israeli local committee in the Negev had decided to evacuate the Palestinian residents from the area at the pretext of expanding Wahat al-Salam village, which is known by Israelis as Neve Shalom. An Israeli court also gave the Palestinian residents until the end of March to leave the area. Representative of the residents Ibrahim Abu Ajami said they have been in the place before the village was built and their displacement would violate the principle of co-existence between Arabs and Jews in the area.

(Source / 19.03.2016)

IOF raids house of martyr Nasruddin Asida in Nablus

NABLUS, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Friday evening stormed the home of martyr Nasruddin Asida, a prominent figure of al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas, in Tell town, southwest of Nablus. Local sources told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that Israeli soldiers raided several homes in al-Lahf area, south of the city, including a house belonging to the family of Asida. They added that the IOF soldiers interrogated members of the family and stayed in the house for more than one hour. The IOF also chased a group of teenagers in the town in an attempt to arrest them, claiming they had thrown stones at a nearby military post. The IOF raid on the house has taken place as the family of Asida is honoring the 13th anniversary of his martyrdom during armed clashes west of Nablus.

(Source / 19.03.2016)

Gelukkig in Gaza? Elektriciteit!

By Engelbert Luitsz                   ©                  (www.alexandrina.nl/?p=4396)

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Gaza in duisternis gehuld door stroomuitval

Veel dingen die voor mensen elders vanzelfsprekend zijn, zijn voor ons in de Gazastrook bijzonder omdat we er zo moeilijk aan kunnen komen. Een van die dingen is elektriciteit. Wat de inwoners van de Gazastrook gelukkig maakt is samen te vatten als: één hele dag met elektriciteit.

Sinds 2007 heeft de Gazastrook te maken met stroomuitval, maar toen was ik nog te jong om het goed te beseffen. Op den duur begon ik te begrijpen wat het werkelijk betekent om 18 uur per dag zonder elektriciteit te zitten. Ik herinner me een keer een stormachtige en regenachtige dag toen ik 12 jaar was. Mijn familie zat in de woonkamer toen het balkon in brand vloog. Eerder op de dag was de stroom afgesloten en toen die weer terugkwam met een hoge stroomsterkte ontstond er een explosie op het balkon. Het was beangstigend. Mijn jonge familieleden huilden, maar mijn vader was aan het werk. Gelukkig kwamen de buren toegesneld om het vuur te doven, anders had het gevaarlijk voor ons kunnen worden.

Enkele weken na deze vreselijke dag, tijdens een rustige, donkere nacht, schrok de hele buurt wakker door geschreeuw. Het geluid kwam van het huis van een jong stel. De vrouw schreeuwde toen ze haar man bewusteloos op de grond zag liggen. Haar man was naar de generator gegaan om die aan te zetten toen de stroom uitviel, waarna hij was gestruikeld op de trap. Hij raakte gewond aan zijn hoofd en overleed enkele dagen later.

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Mijn behoefte aan elektriciteit begon pas echt op de middelbare school toen ik moest studeren en werkstukken moest maken. Zes uur stroom was niet genoeg. Twee jaar geleden zat ik in het laatste jaar van de middelbare school, dat Tawjihi wordt genoemd. Het is het belangrijkste jaar van het Palestijnse schoolsysteem, dus alle leerlingen doen hun uiterste best om hoge cijfers te halen. Dat jaar studeerde ik vele uren per dag. Ik liet me niet ontmoedigen door het gebrek aan elektriciteit. Ik studeerde met behulp van kaarsen, olielampen of een zaklantaarn. Op een dag ging ik op het balkon zitten en keek uit over de straat. Het was pikdonker zonder elektriciteit. Het was een beangstigend gezicht. Ongeduldig wachtte ik op het ochtendgloren. Ik kon er niet meer tegen nog langer met behulp van een zaklantaarn te moeten studeren. De dagen gingen voorbij en ik haalde mijn diploma, maar ik had vaak last van hoofdpijn. Toen ik naar een oogarts ging om mijn ogen te laten testen bleek dat ik een bril nodig had. Het beperkte licht had mijn ogen geen goed gedaan.

Op de universiteit begon een nieuwe fase van problemen met elektriciteit. “Engels met technologie kan zorgen voor een gezond en voorspoedig leven“, vertelde een van onze professoren ons. Aan de Engelse faculteit probeerden de professoren de studie van de Engelse taal te combineren met technologie, door ons aan te moedigen onze werkstukken, onderzoeken en examens met behulp van het internet te doen. Ik zal nooit vergeten hoe vaak ik onder druk stond om een werkstuk in te leveren wanneer de stroom in mijn wijk was uitgevallen. Neem het afgelopen semester: ik had een opdracht, maar er was de hele dag geen stroom. Ik wachtte en wachtte, gaf het uiteindelijk op en probeerde wat te slapen. Maar ik werd om het uur wakker om te kijken of er al weer stroom was.

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Kinderen protesteren tegen het gebrek aan elektriciteit

Om vier uur ‘s morgens opende ik mijn ogen. Er was licht! Ik droomde niet! Ik ging direct naar mijn laptop en werkte drie uur aan mijn opdracht. Ik was zo bang dat de stroom elk moment weer zou kunnen uitvallen. Ik was meer bezig met het voltooien van de opdracht voor de volgende stroomuitval dan met het beantwoorden van de vragen zelf. Uiteindelijk klikte ik op “Submit” om er vanaf te zijn. Daarna ging ik me voorbereiden om naar de universiteit te gaan, zonder die nacht geslapen te hebben. Al mijn vrienden viel het op hoe bleek ik was en hoe rood mijn ogen waren!

Zo’n situatie komt keer op keer terug. Als ik een presentatie moet voorbereiden voel ik voortdurend de druk om het op tijd af te krijgen, omdat mijn laptop na drie uur opgeladen moet worden. Het valt mijn familie op hoe dit afmattende leven mij nerveus en bezorgd maakt.

De Gazanen zijn zo arm dat alles ons blij kan maken. We vieren feest als er weer elektriciteit is! De laatste keer dat ik met mijn vriendin sprak hoorde ik hoe haar jonge broertjes en zusjes schreeuwden, zongen en lachten. De reden? Elektriciteit uiteraard. Dat gebeurt elke dag in elk huis in Gaza.

Zodra er elektriciteit is beginnen mijn zussen en ik direct onze laptops en telefoons op te laden en mijn moeder haast zich om in de komende zes uur huishoudelijke taken te doen: wassen, strijken en koken. Voordat we bij vrienden, familie of buren op bezoek gaan vragen we eerst of er elektriciteit is. Ik blijf liever thuis als er elektriciteit is, zodat ik ervan kan genieten.

Enkele maanden geleden was elektriciteit beperkt tot slechts drie uur per dag. Het was een vreselijk leven. Ik werd wakker zonder elektriciteit en ging naar bed zonder elektriciteit. Nu zitten we weer op zes uur. Alle Gazanen hielden op met klagen en dankten God voor zes uur! Ons werd geleerd dankbaar te zijn voor wat kruimels.

Aya Nashwan

(Vertaling Engelbert Luitsz)

Naschrift EL:

Het verhaal van Aya is een van de talloze persoonlijke verhalen van kinderen die te lijden hebben onder de blokkade van de Gazastrook. Ondanks alle tegenwerking van Israëlische kant proberen ze er toch het beste van te maken. Je kunt alleen maar respect hebben voor mensen die onder die omstandigheden nog in staat zijn een universitaire studie te volgen.

Aya beperkt zich hier tot wat het betekent om geen elektriciteit te hebben. Zeker als je studeert. Maar daarnaast heeft zij al drie grote aanvallen op de Gazastrook bewust meegemaakt. De dagelijkse dreiging van Israëlische drones die overvliegen, de regelmatige bombardementen, invallen en de schijnaanvallen om angst te zaaien vormen deel van het dagelijkse leven van kinderen die juist zo graag een normaal leven zouden leiden.

Aya Nashwan is een 19-jarige studente Engels aan de Islamitische Universiteit in Gaza. Ze schrijft: “Het is mijn droom ambassadrice van Palestina te worden om de waarheid over Palestina over de hele wereld uit te dragen.”

Aya Nashwan: What makes us happy in Gaza? Electricity!

Watchdog: Israeli press violations reached ‘new peak’ in 2015

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A Palestinian press freedoms watchdog on Thursday said 2015 had seen an “unprecedented” increase in Israeli violations against Palestinian journalists across the occupied Palestinian territory.The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, known as MADA, recorded a total of 599 violations against media freedoms throughout the year, in what the group’s general director, Moussa Rimawi, said was the “highest ever to be monitored in Palestine since (the watchdog) started monitoring violations against media freedoms around a decade ago.”The report said 2015 had seen 134 more violations against Palestinian journalists than the year before, an increase of 29 percent, although it noted that that 2014 had witnessed the “worst and widest violations,” including the deaths of 17 journalists during the 50-day Gaza war.The majority of 2015’s violations — 407 incidents — were committed by Israeli forces, MADA said, while the other 192 violations were committed by “various Palestinian bodies.”Almost half of the violations committed by Israeli forces — 42 percent — were physical assaults, although the watchdog also monitored cases of soldiers denying media coverage, targeting journalists through gas canisters, stun grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets, the confiscation of equipment, deleting recorded material, and closing media outlets.The report found that half the Israeli violations were concentrated in the final three months of 2015, after a wave of unrest swept across the occupied Palestinian territory.MADA said the closure of Palestinian media outlets by Israeli forces represented one of the most dangerous trends for media freedoms throughout the year, with three radio stations shut down in November, and a number of other outlets threatened due to allegations of “inciting” Palestinians to acts of violence.It is a trend that has carried into 2016, as another major news publication, Filistin al-Yawm (Palestinian Today), was ordered to close earlier this month.Separately, the report also noted three cases where Palestinian journalists had been used as “human shields” by Israeli forces, up from two in 2014. The watchdog also documented 20 arrests of Palestinian journalists in 2015, in what it said was the highest number since 2008.While Israeli forces committed the “the gravest and most hazardous of all monitored violations,” the group said that violations by Palestinian parties had also increased at an “alarming” rate — 68 percent more than in 2014.The increase in Palestinian violations “raises serious concerns in relation to the manner in which the official authorities deal with the freedom of expression and media in the West Bank and Gaza Strip,” Rimawi said in a press release accompanying the report.The watchdog also pointed to a “step backward” in the legal environment for media freedoms in the occupied Palestinian territory, highlighting in particular the approval of the Higher Media Council law by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in December.The report said the law, which expands the Palestinian Authority’s control over local media, was “unacceptable by all standards and measures,” and its approval had appeared rushed.The watchdog called on the international community to pressure the Israeli government to end “all escalating attacks against media freedoms in Palestine… and to hold accountable all the perpetrators of these violations.”

(Source / 19.03.2016)

3 Palestinians, including a child, hit with IOF bullets in Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM, (PIC)– Three Palestinian civilians including a child were wounded on Saturday when Israeli occupation forces (IOF) raided the village of Tekoa to the east of Bethlehem amidst intensive firing of live bullets. Tayseer Abu Mifrah, the village’s municipality chief, said that IOF soldiers stormed the town from its eastern entrance while shooting live and rubber-coated bullets. He said that the shooting injured three civilians, one of them a child, and were all transferred to a clinic. The IOF soldiers have escalated their raids on Tekoa and other Bethlehem villages recently amidst random shooting and harassment of inhabitants.

(Source / 19.03.2016)

Young Palestinian killed in Hebron, Saturday morning

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A young Palestinian man was shot dead by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Saturday morning after allegedly attempting to stab an Israeli soldier near the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron on Saturday morning, local sources report.

According to the Israeli media, the Palestinian man, a resident of Hebron, arrived at the Abu al-Rish military checkpoint at the entrance to Kiryat Arba illegal settelement, and when an Israeli soldier asked him to identify himself he pulled out a knife and stabbed one of the Israeli soldiers with it.

After shooting the minor, the IOF left him bleeding to death while an ambulance arrived on the scene to treat an Israeli soldier who was lightly injured with stab wounds on his upper body.

Witnesses said to local reporters that the Israeli soldiers “showered” the minor with bullets, adding that the IOF had closed all entrances to the Ibrahimi mosque.

The Israeli commander at the military checkpoint praised his unit’s reaction.

“We are witness to repeated attempts to harm civilians and security forces personnel who secure the Hebron area. The alertness of the forces and their professional and rapid reaction prevented attacks on others, and brought the event to a conclusion with only minor wounds,” the Israeli commander said.

18-year-old Abdullah Muhammad al-Ajlouni from Hebron.
18-year-old Abdullah Muhammad al-Ajlouni from Hebron.

According to local sources, the young Palestinian was identify as 18-year-old Abdullah Muhammad al-Ajlouni.

On Monday this week the IOF have shot dead three Palestinian youths in two separate shootings, claiming they intended to carry operatives also at the entrance of Kiryat Arba illegal settlement near Hebron.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed that the three have passed away. They were identified as Qassem Jaber (31), Naim Al-Junaidi (22) and Youssef Tarayra (18).

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent team, the IOF prevented their paramedics from approaching any of the wounded Palestinians, leading to their death.

The current tension situation is ongoing since October first 2015, due to repetitive Israeli settler attacks on Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest place in Islam, and Israeli restrictions over Palestinian entrance, in addition to the Duma arson attack which killed a baby and his parents on July, 31.

Moreover, the IOF has been criticized internationally in recent months for its ‘preemptive shootings’ of Palestinians alleged to be holding knives.

In addition several of the incidents in which the IOF has claimed that they were ‘attacked’ have proven to be false.

Since then, at least 200 Palestinians have been killed. More than 15,000 Palestinians have been injured by IOF live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets and teargas.

Some 30 settlers were killed on the Israeli side in Palestinian operatives.

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(Source / 19.03.2016)

Mishaal and Haneyya console family of Hamas official Baker Bilal

GAZA, (PIC)– Head of Hamas’s political bureau Khaled Mishaal and his deputy Ismail Haneyya have mourned the loss of senior Hamas official Baker Bilal and offered their condolences to the family. In separate phone calls, Mishaal and Haneyya hailed Bilal and his family, recalling the traits of his late father, Sheikh Sa’ied, as one of the prominent founders of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Movement in Occupied Palestine. They offered their sympathies to Bilal’s brothers and members of al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas, Muaad and Othman, who are in Israeli jails serving life sentences. The two Hamas officials stressed the importance of maintaining the national unity and adhering to the constants, and renewed their Movement’s vow to continue the struggle against the occupation until the liberation of the Palestinian land. 51-year-old Baker Bilal, from Nablus city, passed away at dawn Thursday a few days after his release from an Israeli jail.

(Source / 19.03.2016)

Syrian Army captures another hilltop from ISIS in southeast Homs

The Syrian Arab Army’s 81st and 120th brigades of the 2nd Division – alongside the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), Dara’ Qalamoun (Qalamoun Shield), and Liwaa Suqour Al-Sahra (Desert Hawks Brigade) – imposed full control over the large hilltop of Mahsa Al-Zeitoun after a violent battle with the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) in the Homs Governorate’s southeastern countryside. According to an army source at the nearby T-4 Military Airport, the Syrian Armed Forces have made huge strides in the Quraytayn countryside on Saturday, seizing a half dozen hilltops and points from ISIS in the Qalamoun Mountains. The Syrian Armed Forces and their allies have benefited immensely from the Russian airstrikes over the Homs Governorate today, as the attacks have forced ISIS to scatter around the vast Homs Desert in order to evade the swarming fighter jets.

In addition to their advance at the eastern slopes of the Qalamoun Mountains, the Syrian Armed Forces are also applying pressure on ISIS’ defenses at the western gates of Quraytayn. The Syrian Armed Forces have reportedly fired several mortar shells and rockets towards ISIS’ fortifications at the western gates of Quraytayn in order to weaken their front-lines.

(Source / 19.03.2016)

The PA and France are undermining what little Palestinian autonomy there is

Saeb Erekat, PLO Secretary General

Saeb Erekat, PLO Secretary General. [File photo]

As evidenced by recent news reports, France plays its duplicitous role with ease, pressing forward with the proposed international peace conference and garnering further support from the Palestinian Authority. If not for the fact that the rhetoric of PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat conceals other issues, we could assume that his display of eagerness is simply a continuation of the previous capitulation to France’s alleged partiality towards helping Palestinians construct an independent state.

Following a meeting on Tuesday, in which French Envoy for the Middle East Pierre Vimont met Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Al-Maliki and Erekat, France was once again glorified as the country with realistic proposals which should be supported. “The French ideas are timely, the French ideas are realistic and the French ideas are the only thing in town,” insisted Erekat, “and those who care about peace between Palestinians and Israelis must fully support the French ideas.”

Every premise behind Erekat’s statement is erroneous. There is nothing timely about the initiative; it is unrealistic to believe that the two-state paradigm is a solution to Israel’s colonisation of Palestine; the French proposal is not the “only thing in town” – Erekat is perhaps blind to the reality of resistance; and peace should not be discussed as a measure of balance.

The PA’s glorification of France has been increasing ever since the formation of the Palestinian unity government in 2014 managed to distort the foundations that should have sustained it. Acquiescence conquered the concept that should have been implemented – which is unity derived from Palestinian resistance – thus rendering the political body an extension of the PA’s decadence. France was one of the first countries to extend a diplomatic invitation, while also supporting Israel’s belligerent demands. Later, Paris lauded the PA’s efforts at the UN Security Council and drafted resolutions which, while complying with international demands, still did not garner the required support. It is evident that the cycle of diplomacy is a form of political oppression of which the PA approves; indeed, it has enlisted France’s help in order to sustain this dynamic. The international conference is also devoid of any innovative idea to tackle Israel’s colonial expansion; nevertheless, Erekat has enforced ludicrous expectations by supporting the schemes which a pro-Israel, Zionist-aligned country is concocting for Palestine.

Israel’s foreign ministry has expressed the usual preconditions that stipulate “no prior conditions between the parties and the PA’s responsibility to combat terror and incitement.” So far there is perfect concordance between Israel and France in terms of regurgitating previous stipulations regarding any form of diplomatic engagement.

Erekat, however, exceeds even the combination of these two allies. According to Ma’an, he emphasised that, “Palestinians are ready to work and cooperate with the international community to end the occupation of Palestinian lands.” Such statements seem to be a PA prerequisite in public speeches, subjugating the entire Palestinian population to international demands through treacherous rhetoric. In fact, it is the international community that should be ready to cooperate and work with Palestinians in their efforts to end Israel’s impunity over its ongoing human rights violations; there is more than enough international legislation covering the entire spectrum of those violations which Palestinians have endured as a result of Israeli colonialism. Such discourse, however, will possibly remain a smouldering implosion until Palestinians have leaders who adhere to resistance to the occupation as a right, rather than a compromised alternative.

(Source / 19.03.2016)