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Av K - 20 november 2009 18:00

Israeli rockets hit Gaza tunnels
Palestinians use the tunnels to ferry food supplies and other necessities into the Gaza Strip [AFP]

Israeli aircraft have hit two tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip, the Israeli military has said.

Palestinian security officials confirmed the attack on Thursday, but said there were no injuries.

Officials of the Palestinian group Hamas said two other strikes hit a military training facility close to the town of Khan Younis in the central Gaza Strip.

Israel said the strikes were in response to recent rocket attacks on Israel by fighters in Gaza, stating that they would "respond to any attempt to disrupt the calm in Israel's southern communities".

Israel launched a war on the Hamas-ruled Gaza territory in December and January last year.

More than 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the war.

Dozens of tunnels are said to criss-cross between southern Gaza and Egypt's Sinai desert, providing a lifeline to Gaza residents who are starved of basic supplies due to Israel's blockade of the territory.

Sources say there are more than 6,000 Palestinians employed in the clandestine industry.

Av K - 5 november 2009 22:00

Toll rises in Israeli siege on Gaza

Israel imposed an blockade on nearly all movement and supplies in and out of Gaza [AFP]

The number of Palestinians who have died as a result of the Israeli siege on Gaza has passed 360, a statement released by the health ministry of the deposed Palestinian government in Gaza has said.

The statement followed the death of a Palestinian man on Tuesday, who was denied approval to leave the Strip to receive medical treatment abroad.

Asaad Ibrahim Mohammad Asfour, 51, who had lung cancer and cancer of the bronchial tubes, is the latest victim of Israel's siege on Gaza which began in 2007.

The ban on medicine and medical equipment being allowed into Gaza, as well as ill residents being refused permission to leave, will lead to many more deaths, the health ministry said.

It appealed to the "free and honourable world ... to end its brutal, ugly practices committed day and night in front of the entire international community".

Aid convoy trapped

The statement came as the Miles of Smiles humanitarian convoy remained trapped in Egypt for more than 20 days.

Organisers of the convoy said the delay was due to "stalling of the Egyptian authorities in easing the procedures for the convoy to enter the Strip."

The convoy is made up of more than 100 vehicles carrying humanitarian aid including 275 wheelchairs as well computers for Gazan schools that were destroyed or damaged during the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip in December and Januray.

Karen Abu Zeid, the commissioner general of the UNRWA, the UN relief agency, earlier called on the Egyptian authorities to allow the UN mission to use Egypt's Rafah crossing with the occupied territories to pass into Gaza.

In June 2007, following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip, Israel imposed an unprecedented blockade on all crossings in and out of the Gaza Strip.

The blockade has locked in 1.5 million people in what is one of the most densely populated areas on earth.

The humanitarian situation has deteriorated further since Israel's war on Gaza which left about 1,400 Palestinians – the majority of them civilians - and 13 Israelis dead during the three-week offensive.

Av K - 4 juli 2009 21:19

Gaza activists still in Israel jail

The Israeli navy stopped the activists' boat off the coast of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday [AFP]

A number of foreign activists are still in detention in a Tel Aviv jail four days after the Israeli navy stopped their boat as they attempted to reach the Gaza Strip.

Mairead Maguire, a Nobel peace prize winner, told Al Jazeera on Saturday that the activists had agreed to remain in detention until Israel agreed to free all of the activists.

"We said that we were abducted as a group ... and that we would not leave until everyone left and we were happy that all our equipment had been returned," she said.

Israeli sailors boarded the Spirit of Humanity, a Greek-registered vessel, on Tuesday off the coast of Gaza and seized those on board.

"They forcibly boarded the ship, detained all our passengers and illegally took them to Israel against their will. This is a kidnapping. This is the act of piracy at sea," Ramzi Kyzia, an activist from the Free Gaza Movement, told a news conference in Cyprus.

In video
Gaza activist talks to Al Jazeera from Israeli jail
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"The Israeli navy made the choice to come out and intercept us and forcibly board us and kidnap 21 international human rights workers and journalists."

The activists, who were carrying humanitarian supplies, had set off from Cyprus in an attempt to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, which prevents many basic supplies reaching the 1.5 million Palestinians in the territory.  

Among those detained with Maguire were Cynthia McKinney, a US congresswoman, and two Al Jazeera journalists.

Yigal Palmor, the Israeli foreign minister, had said that those who signed an undertaking to return home voluntarily could be released immediately and repatriated on the first available flight.

Deportation orders

But Maguire told Al Jazeera that some of the activists were considering applying to extend their detention in order to mount a legal challenge against the actions of the Israeli authorities.

"We have been issued with deportation orders which have expired today," she said.

"We refuse to be criminalised because we wanted to go to the aid of the people of Gaza."

Israel imposed the crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2007 after the Hamas movement seized full control of the territory after pushing out Fatah security forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president. 

International calls for the siege to be eased have mounted since Israel fought a 22-day offensive in the territory in December and January, increasing the hardships faced by the Gazans.

Israel said that the war was aimed at ending rocket attacks by Palestinian fighters.  

Av K - 31 maj 2009 20:49

Police raid sparks West Bank clash

The house raided by police from the Palestinian Authority at dawn on Sunday [AFP]

Three Palestinian police officers, two Hamas fighters and a bystander have been killed in a clash in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian security officials have said.

Sunday's confrontation is among the deadliest factional fighting since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Police from the Palestinian Authority carried out a dawn raid on a house in the northern West Bank town of Qalqilya in order to arrest Hamas members, sparking a gun battle in the streets, police said.

The two dead Hamas members were named as Mohammad Samman, a local leader of Hamas's military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and Mohammad Yasin, a brigade member.

The policemen were not immediately identified. The owner of the home also died.

In depth
Video: Factional violence
Video: Factional fighting
Focus on Gaza videos

Witnesses said Samman and Yasin had taken refuge in the house.

Qalqiliya has since been put under curfew.

"These kinds of clashes have happened in the past, but these are by far the most serious in the West Bank," Al Jazeera's Nour Odeh, reporting from Ramallah, said.

Tensions have mounted between Fatah, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas, which controls Gaza.

Egypt, which is trying to broker a reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, has set July 7 as the deadline for its efforts.

Deep divisions

Hamas decried the killing over mosque loudspeakers in Gaza City.

Fawzi Barhum, a Hamas spokesman, said there was no chance of further reconciliation talks with Fatah after the "escalation by security services of Abu Mazen [Abbas] and Fatah against Hamas and its leaders in the West Bank".

He said: "Fatah should choose - dialogue with us or doing the dirty work of the Zionist enemy."

Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin in Gaza said "confidence between Hamas and Fatah is really at an all time low".

Abu Obeida, centre, said Fatah had crossed a 'red line' by carrying out the operation [AFP]"After today's incident involving the killings and tit-for-tat accusations, very strong words came out from Salah al-Bardawil who is also a leading member of Hamas and the parliamentary block in the Gaza strip.

"He came out and said that Hamas was going to carefully reconsider withdrawing from those talks and that would be a devastating blow not only to the Palestinian people but really to the Arab world who had really pinned so much of their hopes to the talks."

Mohyeldin reported that thousands of people had gathered in protest, including Hamas leaders like Ismael Radwan who "condemned the attack on the military wing members in the city of Qalqilya".

"The rally was attended by several other Palestinian actors all of whom were calling the act by the Palestinian Authority security forces an act of treason and one of collaboration with Israeli security forces.

"They have been pointing to the recent round-up of Hamas members in the West Bank, including one incident in the city of Hebron, where a member of that military wing of the resistance group was also killed by Israeli security forces.

"Many here pointed the finger towards the Palestinian Authority security forces for tipping off the Israelis. Those are very strong words of accusations and only do nothing but to divide the Palestinians even more and that's the reality that many people here are finding themselves in ..."

'Zionist forces'

Abu Obeida, an al-Qassam Brigades spokesman, accused Abbas's forces of playing into Israeli hands by mounting the raid.

"They gave to the Zionist forces more than what the Zionist forces could do," he said.

"We call on the Palestinian people in the West Bank to reject and denounce these acts of the suspicious personnel and to confront and stand up for these high treasons ... the blood of those martyred in Qalqiliya will remain a curse and we hold Mahmoud Abbas with direct responsibility."

"We call on the Palestinian people in the West Bank to reject and denounce these acts of the suspicious personnel and to confront and stand up for these high treasons"

Abu Obeida, al-Qassam Brigades spokesman

But the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been quick to deny accusations that Israeli forces were involved in the attack.

Adnan Damiri, the PA spokesperson, said that security forces tried to prevent casualties in the densely populated neighborhoods of Qalqilya by attempting to engage Hamas in dialogue, but that their offer was refused.

He said that during the arrest, police discovered Hamas leaflets containing "incitement against the Palestinian Authority and against the Palestinian security branches".

"We consider what happened today as very dangerous," Damiri said. "It was an attempt to destroy any hope of resuming the  (reconciliation) dialogue."

'Politically motivated'

Hamas says that Fatah-dominated security forces are pursuing a politically motivated crackdown against Hamas activists, a claim which Fatah has also made about Hamas in Gaza.

But Damiri said: "We in the Palestinian security branches are not a political force. We are security. We will not allow any Palestinian party to have guns and threaten civilians."

Referring to the Qalqiliya clashes, our correspondent reported: "None of the neighbours or witnesses we spoke to said or confirmed that they saw or heard Israeli forces.

"There were additional troops called in from nearby cities that were not separated from Qalqilya by Israeli checkpoints - in other words, there was no security co-ordination with the Israelis - at least, that we know of.

"This was a purely Palestinian-on-Palestinian operation."

Arrests claimed

According to Hamas, 22 of its members were arrested in the West Bank on Saturday.

Abu Obeida held a news conference in Gaza City on Saturday in response to the raid.

Hamas said Fatah had crossed a "red line" by carrying out the operation.

Our correspondent said that over the the past several months, Palestinian security forces have announced and shown tapes of confiscated weapons in mosques in Qalqilya.

"They have refrained up until this incident from pointing the finger at Hamas, but in line with PA policy, the security apparatus has been uncompromising in making sure that no one carries guns except security personnel," she said.

Av K - 24 maj 2009 22:28

Palestinians rescued from tunnel

Tunnels are used to smuggle essential supplies to Gaza , in short supply due to Israel's blockade [Getty]

Three Palestinians have been found alive, and two dead, after being trapped for several days in a Gaza smuggling tunnel that collapsed above them, Al Jazeera has learnt.

The men were found on Saturday in the collapsed tunnel on the Egyptian side of the border with Gaza.

The tunnel, which is near the border town of Rafah, collapsed five days ago.

Four men are still missing.

Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from Rafah, said: "They were not able to find them [the trapped men] on the Palestinian side ... they notified the Egyptians  ... to immediately begin rescue efforts on their side of the border.

"We were told they were recovered unconscious ... they were immediately rushed to hospital in Egypt. Their fate is still unknown although officials have confirmed they are indeed alive."

Witnesses said the men had been able to communicate with rescuers for the first few days and were fed milk and water through a pipe that had been pushed through the sand.

Palestinians had been allowed to cross into the Egyptian side on Saturday to try to help with the rescue process.

Tunnels frequently bombed


Follow Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin as he tweets from Rafah.
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Israel says the tunnels are used for smuggling weapons into Gaza and has frequently attacked them with bombs.

But Palestinians say the network of tunnels are a lifeline for them. They are used to smuggle in essential supplies, in short supply in the territory because of a blockade imposed by the Israelis.

"There are about 1000 tunnels that run under the route that we are standing at," our correspondent said.

"It is very soft terrain, very susceptible to collapse when vehicles pass over it and when Israel carries out air strikes as they have been doing almost daily since the end of the war [Israel’s 22-day offensive in Gaza].

Mohyeldin said the tunnels are operating "just to meet the demands of 1.5 million people who are denied access to basic food supplies and other essential items.

"Desperation is driving [Gazan] men into these very dangerous jobs.

"The three man rescued today are by far the minority. The vast majority of those ... who suffer entrapment underground do not make it out alive," he said.

Av K - 4 maj 2009 14:38


eller här direkt:

World Bank finds Israel’s water policy hard to swallow

Stephen Glain

  • Last Updated: April 28. 2009 6:58PM UAE / April 28. 2009 2:58PM GMT

As a former, and by many accounts successful, finance minister, Benjamin Netanyahu presumably knows his way around economics. So when the Israeli prime minister says he will work to provide the Palestinians with economic, if not political, independence, might that not suggest his hard-line government understands that a prosperous Palestine would be an important first step towards a more stable Middle East?

Not according to the World Bank, which last week issued the latest in a series of reports about how the Israeli government is systematically pre-empting the evolution of a viable Palestinian economy. The 154-page “Assessment of Restrictions on Palestinian Water Sector Development” is written with a blandness suited to the banality of this particular Israeli outrage. The report offers a detailed look at how Israel deprives the West Bank and Gaza of the most basic commodity for human survival, a deficit that consumes a growing share of Palestinian GDP.

The report is another indictment, as if one were needed, of the now-defunct Oslo Accords. Just as Oslo lacked adequate mechanisms to enforce Israeli pledges to sharply reduce its occupation of Palestinian land, so too has Israel been allowed to abrogate its commitment to revise interim agreements relating to water systems in the Arab territories it controls.

Instead, according to the World Bank report, Israel has aggrandised a growing share of available water supplies while intensifying Palestinian reliance on Mekorot, the Jewish state’s national water carrier. The report states that Israel, without the approval of the Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee (JWC) – a legacy of the Oslo process – draws more than 50 per cent from the aquifers that support both the West Bank and Israel beyond what it is authorised under the accords. Needless to say, Palestinian protests of such violations are routinely ignored, according to the report.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is as much about resources as it is about land. It is no coincidence, for example, that West Bank settlements are located on top or near groundwater wells, a strategy that dates back to the earliest days of the settler movement. But the situation has worsened over the past decade, when Israel began restricting mobility in the West Bank and Gaza following its “withdrawal” from certain Palestinian areas under the terms of Oslo. Palestinians must now pay an estimated 8 per cent of their household budgets for adequate water supplies, about double the globally accepted standard. That is beyond the capacity of many Palestinian families, and revenues have fallen precipitously in the parts of the West Bank under Palestinian administration.

Rural villagers who are unconnected to the water grid must allocate up to 20 per cent of their household income for tanker-born drinkable water, an increasingly expensive enterprise due to the proliferation of Israel-controlled checkpoints, the massive, serpentine security wall and other barriers to mobility throughout the West Bank. The World Bank estimates the added expense of transporting water by tanker amounts to about 1 per cent of the Palestinian GDP. In Gaza, water availability has reached “crisis levels”, while utility revenues have collapsed and tax collections rates are down 20 per cent.

Water quality is deteriorating and there is growing evidence of rising water-related diseases. The public health costs of waterborne illness for children below the age of five alone is 0.4 per cent of GDP, the report estimates. The environmental impact, meanwhile, is devastating. Sanitation and sewage systems have been badly neglected due to unstable security conditions and Israeli restrictions on movement. Sewage is returned untreated into lagoons, wadis and the sea or seeps into the soil where it ultimately contaminates aquifers. In rural areas, septic tanks are not properly emptied, while Israel’s settler population routinely dumps raw sewage on to Palestinian soil.

Just as Israel controls the borders, roads, air and sea ports, airspace and export revenue on which the Palestinian economy vitally depends, so too does it control Palestinian water resources via Mekorot, an unhealthy reliance intensified by Israeli over-extraction of available supplies. Mekorot’s dominant role in water distribution, the report states, “makes [the West Bank and Gaza] vulnerable to Israeli decisions and interventions, and may increase commercial risks and costs”.

The report concludes with a raft of proposals that might ameliorate the crisis, all of which require Israeli co-operation and consent. It suggests, for example, the wholesale reform of the JWC, which is strongly biased in Israel’s favour due to its disproportionate levels of power and capacity. Only half of the US$121 million (Dh444.4m) worth of Palestinian-proposed projects have been approved since 2001, while all but one mooted by Israel have been granted. Israel, the report lays out, routinely decides unilaterally how regional water sources will or will not be developed.

An economy without access to clean water supplies is by definition unsustainable. Mr Netanyahu either fails to understand this or his commitment to Palestinian economic independence is nothing more than political palaver. Either way, Palestine’s man-made water crisis should be at the top of the agenda when the Israeli leader meets his US counterpart early next month.



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