Archive for the ‘Gaza’ Category

Gaza on the Brink – Foreign Affairs

An ongoing electricity crisis is placing an inordinate amount of pressure on Gaza. If not addressed, it could end with a political implosion, a full-blown humanitarian disaster, and yet another round of violence between Hamas and Israel.

A dangerous combination of intra-Palestinian rivalry, the lack of a long-term Israeli strategy for dealing with Hamas, international inertia, and the absence of a political process heightens Gazas dire predicament and the possibility of conflict. Even worse, these same factors are plunging the strip into the deepest humanitarian crisis it has seen in a decade. In short, Gaza is on the brink of a humanitarian, and possibly political, point of no return.

The episodes of escalation between Hamas and Israel over the past ten years follow a remarkably similar pattern. Although Israel has repeatedly and unsuccessfully attempted to remove Hamas from power by isolating Gaza, it continues to rely on that same system of restrictions to keep Hamas at bay. The guiding assumption has been that Hamas, interested in continuing to rule the Gaza Strip, can be kept from initiating military hostilities through the threat of increased economic sanctions and military action. Implicit in this reasoning is the belief that it is possible to put enough pressure on Hamas to keep it weak while not putting toomuch pressure on the group to make it desperateleft with nothing to lose and thus undeterrable.

This assumption has proved wrong time and again. The pressure on Gaza cyclically mounts until Hamas opts for force in an attempt to change the rules of the game. Thus, short-lived military conflicts are followed by temporary relaxations of the isolation policy. As time goes on, the trend is reversed, eventually leading to additional rounds of conflict. The same pattern unfolded after the most recent war in 2014. A temporary easing of regulations on the inflows and outflows of goods and people was followed by a significant increase in the political and economic pressure on Gaza, ultimately heightening the chances of

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Gaza on the Brink – Foreign Affairs

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June 27, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Gaza becoming unexpected destination for Egyptian jobseekers – Al-Monitor

Laborers work at the construction site of a house that witnesses said was destroyed by Israeli shelling during a 50-day war in 2014, in Johar al-Deek, Gaza, July 26, 2015.(photo byREUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

Author:Amjad Yaghi Posted June 25, 2017

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip Egyptian construction workers often do not earn enough to cover the basic expenses for themselves and their families, such as food, medicine and clothing.

TranslatorPascale el-Khoury

The value of the Egyptian pound fell in half following the governments decision tofloat the Egyptian currencyin November and standsat about18 Egyptian pounds to the US dollar.

This has forced many construction workers to work extra hours; some of them even sought to migrate or obtain a work visa abroad.

Strangely, however, somefound jobs in the Gaza Strip, which is reeling under its own massive unemployment and harsh economic conditions due to the Israeli siege.

Since the beginning of the year, some employers, including contractors, in the Gaza Strip have noticed that Egyptian construction workers have been applying for jobs there.

At first this seemed quite odd. Many wondered how these Egyptian men crossed into Gaza and started searching for jobs there.

Contractor Mohammed Younis of the southern Gaza town of Rafah, who employs 10 construction workers, hired two Egyptians in early April.

In order to be allowed to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing, these Egyptian workers usually invoke their kinship relationship to Egyptian women who are living in Gaza and married to a Palestinian national. Egyptians, however, have to be first- or second-degree relatives of these women in Gaza to get a tourist visa to Palestine.

After getting the visa, these Egyptians are forced to wait for long periods to enter Gaza, in light of the repeated closure of the Rafah Crossing. Once in Gaza, they start their job hunt through their relatives and Egyptian connections there.

Al-Monitor met with four Egyptians working in different areas in the Gaza Strip. Moamen Hosni, 34, is from Dakahlia governorate in northeast Egypt. He is the father of three, and his sister Gamila has been married to a Gazan citizen for 15 years and lives in al-Sabra neighborhood, east of Gaza City.

He traveled to Gaza at the beginning of March and is now working as a construction worker with a contractor related to his brother-in-law.

Hosni told Al-Monitor, At the beginning of this year, I was evicted from an apartment I had rented in Dakahlia because I was unable to pay the monthly rent. I had been working extra hours and taking on multiple odd jobs for two years in a crumbling Egyptian economy.

He continued, Thenone day my sister who lives in Gaza suggested I move to the Gaza Strip despite the difficult conditions there and even though it was unlikely for me to find a job. But given the currency exchange difference between the Egyptian pound and the shekel, if I did ever find a job there, I would be able to send money to my family back home and pay the monthly rent.

Hosni works from the early morning hours until the sun sets. He said that in the month of Ramadan he works from midnight until the time of the Suhoor (the meal consumed early in the morningby Muslims before fasting).

I have been getting a monthly salary of about 1,300 shekels ($368) since I started working in the Gaza Strip. I transferhalf of this amount to my wife through money transfer offices in Gaza to pay the rent and cover other bills.

Mutawaa Dahlouki, 42, and Ayad Bashir, 39, told Al-Monitor that they worked in Libya from September 2014 until August 2016, but they left their jobs there for fear of terrorist groups, especially after the killing of a number of Egyptian workers in Libya and the abduction of others, whose fate is yet to be known. When Dahlouki and Bashir came back home, they found their financial situation to be much worse than when they left.

Dahlouki and Bashir entered the Gaza Strip in February. Bashirs mother is Palestinian. She lives in the Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip with her husband, whom she had married after his father’s death in the 1990s. The two men were able to work as construction workers and as porters with a local house furniture transport company.

Dahlouki told Al-Monitor, It is currently very difficult for an Egyptian to obtain a visa for Arab countries. Illegal migration to European countries has proved to be deadly and frightening. Moving to a European country is not as easy as it may seem. Bashir and I never thought about coming to Gaza, which has been ravaged by wars. But our search for means of a livelihood brought us here, and we found it safer than Libya.

Dahlouki and Bashir earn a monthly salary ranging between 1,200 shekels ($340) and 1,500 shekels ($425) each for working for about 12 hours a day. They send money to their families in Minya governorate in Upper Egypt. Dahlouki has a family of six and Bashir of five.

Ahmad Mustafa, 44, traveled to Gaza to stay with his daughter, who is married to a Palestinian. Mustafa works as a home electricity maintenance technician and at night he sells cellphoneaccessories on a cart, on Omar al-Mukhtar Street in Gaza.

Mustafa is the father of seven children living in Hadaiq al-Qubbah neighborhood in central Cairo. He is working two jobs to be able to provide for the needs of his family, not to mention the tuition fees of three of his children,

He told Al-Monitor that an electrician in Egypt often does not make more than 50 Egyptian pounds ($2.75) a day, which is not enough to cover household expenses.

Salama Abu Zaiter, a member of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, told Al-Monitor, Egyptians who come to the Gaza Strip at the present time are very few. There are no exact statistics on their number. Official authorities and bodies concerned with workers affairs do not provide them with social or legal protection or privileges. There are no labor agreements between the Egyptian and Palestinian sides. They come to Gaza on their own responsibility.

He added that between 2011 and 2013, dozens of Egyptian workers entered the Gaza Strip through the crossings and tunnels and would sell their goods in Gaza City.

Egyptians heading today to Gaza have friends or relatives living in the Gaza Strip. They come to work here because of the currency exchange difference between the Israeli shekel and the Egyptian pound. Egyptians are better paid in shekels, despite the higher unemployment rate in Gaza compared with Egypt. However, Egyptian workers have better chances to find work in Gaza if they have good personal and family relations, Abu Zaiter said.

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Gaza becoming unexpected destination for Egyptian jobseekers – Al-Monitor

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June 25, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Gaza Situation Report 199, 13 June 19 June 2017 – ReliefWeb

HIGHLIGHTS

The Gaza Strip faces regular power cuts and provision of electricity remains well below demand. The cuts affect critical services like health, waste water treatment as well as education, homes and businesses. To maintain a minimum level of continuity of critical services, providers are now relying heavily on back-up generators. For more information read a factsheet issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory under the name Humanitarian Impact of the Gaza Electricity Crisis. Electricity blackouts in Gaza last between 8-12 hours each day and have sometimes even reach 20 hours straight. On a good day, Gazas electrical grid supplies 208 megawatts, this supply falls far below demand, which is currently 350 to 450 Megawatts. Families in Gaza are forced to spend a large part of their income on energy, whether the meager supply of electricity they receive through high voltage lines, or on the cost of fuel, generators and their repair.On 14 June, Mr. Robert Piper, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestine territory issued a statement on the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza where he warned about the disastrous consequences of a further reduction in electricity-supply to the Gaza Strip on the living conditions of two million Palestinians in Gaza. To read the full statement, click here. For more information about the situation in Gaza, read United Nations report in 2012 Gaza in 2020: A liveable place?

UNRWA Director of Operations in Gaza, Mr. Bo Schack, visited Brussels- Belgium and Strasbourg France, from 13-15 June – to brief the EU Institutions and EU Member States on the situation in Gaza and UNRWA operations. During his mission, he met with Mr. Michael Koehler, Director of Neighborhood South in the European Commission Directorate General for the Neighborhood and Enlargement negotiations – DG NEAR, Mr. Colin Scicluna, Deputy Managing Director and Director for the MENA region in the European External Action Service, Mr. Herv Delphin, Head of Middle East Unit in ECHO, and thanked them for the EUs support of UNRWA to assist Palestine Refugees. In addition, Mr. Schack also had an exchange of views with the European Parliament (EP) delegation for relations with Palestine (DPAL) on ten years of blockade on Gaza and met with members of the EP Budget Committee ahead of their visit to Palestine. He also met with several departments in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation in the Belgium Government.

To help alleviate the dire economic situation for Palestine Refugee families, and provide them a source of income, dignity and self-reliance the UNRWA Job Creation Programme (JCP) commenced two projects targeting the agriculture sector: together providing 214 job opportunities. The beneficiaries of the projects provide assistance to farmers in collecting crops, weeding and planting. Through its Job Creation Programme, UNRWA works to mitigate the impact of the collapsed Gaza economy and labour market by providing work opportunities for Palestine refugees. In the first quarter of 2017, UNRWA created skilled and unskilled job opportunities for 9,092 beneficiaries through JCP, injecting US$ 4.6 million into the Gaza economy. If sufficient funding is made available, UNRWA hopes to offer short-term employment opportunities for approximately 53,193 Palestine refugees living below the poverty line in 2017.

On 13 June, a Finnish delegation visited UNRWA Gaza Field Office. The five-member delegation- accompanied by UNRWAs Operations and Support Office (OSO) – visited Al- Fakhora health centre and Jabalia camp, northern Gaza strip. They then met with the UNRWA Deputy Director of Operations in Gaza, Ms. Melinda Young, who briefed them about the situation and the operations in Gaza. At the end of the visit, the delegation visited a family from north area who have benefited from the UNRWA shelter reconstruction project.

OPERATIONAL ENVIRONMENT

During the reporting week, several protests were held across the Gaza Strip against the blockade. Eight injuries were reported.

Israeli patrol boats opened fire towards Palestinian boats off the coast of Gaza city, forcing them ashore. Five injuries were reported.

Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) positioned at the security fence in different locations opened fire towards Palestinian areas on two days during the reporting period. No injuries were reported.

A sit-in organized by the Hamas Womens Movement took place in front of Palestinian Legislative Council office, west of Gaza city, in support of state of Qatar and in condemnation of the boycott against to Qatar. Approximately, 100 people participated in the sit-in.

Four IDF bulldozers entered Gaza, to approximately 50 metres, east of Beit Hanoun area near Erez crossing, where they conducted a clearing and excavation operation. The IDF troops then withdrew to the security fence.

UNRWAS RESPONSE

To assist in the empowerment of Palestine refugee women, facilitate the building of their networks and to strengthen their role and active participation in the community, UNRWAs Relief and Social Services Programme contributes to seven independent Womens Programme Centres (WPC) in the eight official refugee camps in Gaza.

Thirty-year-old Mervat Aloosh, a Palestine refugee woman who lives with her family in the Beach camp, western Gaza city, has been a regular visitor to the Beach Womens Programme Centre for two years.

Two years ago, my friends told me about the Womens Programme Centre, I started by learning sewing and I enjoyed the course very much. Although I didnt have the opportunity to complete my university studies, I took a variety of training courses through the Centre on cooking, marketing and sewing. The Centre provided me with a good opportunity to learn, build new relations and friends and become more self-confidant Mervat said.

The Womens Programme Centres support Palestine refugee women through cultural and recreational activities. The Centres also offers a wide range of integrated services to enhance the knowledge and capabilities of women, such as skills training and education. These services are delivered by seven Womens Programme Centers (WPCs) across the Gaza Strip.

I participated in many activities organized by the Beach Womens Programme Centre including psychological support sessions, and gender-based violence awareness sessions. The activity I liked the most was about womens rights as I never knew before about my inheritance rights. This made me feel more comfortable and self-aware of my rights and duties in the community Mervat added.

As many orders of Kaek- a traditional festive dessert made in Eid marking the end of Ramadan – were received through the Centres Facebook page, the participants, along with the Centres management, came up with idea of making Kaak and selling it for profit.

Mervat said: Every day we prepare an average of 80 to 100 kilos, upon request. The Beach Womens Programme Centre provides us with the place, tools and raw materials. Our work doesnt stop after the Eid season, there are always cooking activities hosted by the Centre; we are planning to continue and sell pastries and other desserts. The Centres activities enable me to provide for my family in a more stable manner, especially given my husband is unemployed, she added.

The UNRWA Relief and Social Services Programme (RSSP) empowers Palestine refugees, focusing on the most vulnerable groups, by meeting their social and economic needs through community social interventions. RSSP activities range from the distribution of food baskets and the regular assessment of refugees poverty status and eligibility for services through social workers, to a variety of skills training and capacity building mainly for women, children and youth. In total, UNRWA assists seven Womens Programme Centres in refugee camps across the Gaza Strip. WPCs aim to empower women socially and economically, and enhance womens participation in the community through legal advice and with skills-based trainings. The centres also try to assist illiterate women in entering the formal education system by providing education and literacy classes.

FUNDING NEEDS

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agencys Programme Budget in 2017. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

Following the 2014 conflict, US$ 257 million has been pledged in support of UNRWAs emergency shelter programme, for which an estimated US$ 720 million is required. This leaves a current shortfall of US$ 463 million. UNRWA urgently appeals to donors to generously contribute to its emergency shelter programme to provide displaced Palestine refugees in Gaza with rental subsidies or cash assistance to undertake repair works and reconstruction of their damaged homes.

As presented in UNRWAs occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) Emergency Appeal for 2017, the Agency is seeking US$ 402 million to meet the minimum humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees in the oPt.

The Gaza portion of the Emergency Appeal amounts to US$ 355 million for 2017, to address protracted, large scale humanitarian needs. More information can be found here,

CROSSINGS

Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza have undermined the living conditions of 1.9 million Palestinians in Gaza.Israel prevents all access to and from the Gaza Strip by sea and air.Movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza is restricted to three crossings: Rafah crossing, Erez crossing and Kerem Shalom crossing. Rafah crossing is controlled by the Egyptian authorities and technically allows for the movement of a number of authorized travellers, Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases only. Erez crossing is controlled by Israeli authorities and technically allows for the movement of aid workers and limited numbers of authorized travellers, including Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases. Kerem Shalom crossing, also controlled by Israeli authorities, technically allows for the movement of authorized goods only.

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Gaza Situation Report 199, 13 June 19 June 2017 – ReliefWeb

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Investigate 2014 Gaza War’s ‘Black Friday’ – Haaretz

The fact that no criminal investigations have been opened is execrable, in light of the fact that it is these events that have raised the greatest number of questions about the proportionality of force employed by the army

The events in the Gazan city of Rafah on August 1, 2014, during Israels Operation Protective Edge, earned the sobriquet Black Friday. In the course of the day, the army employed the Hannibal Directive, permitting a number of actions meant to foil an abduction, including ones that can endanger the lives of civilians and the abduction target.

According to military sources, it was the most aggressive employment of the directive ever carried out by the Israel Defense Forces. According to a review by the Givati Brigade, the army fired some 800 artillery shells and 260 mortar shells in Rafah, and war planes bombed about 20 targets. In addition to Hamas militants, dozens of innocent Palestinian civilians were killed in the exceptionally harsh strikes. In the wake of the combat in Gaza, lawyers and human rights groups submitted numerous complaints of war crimes, some of them motivated by media reports and soldiers testimonies to Breaking the Silence, to the office of the Military Advocate General. Data from MAG indicate that some 500 cases were examined, most of them through the General Staff process a team of officers in the standing army and reserves whose role is to examine claims of violations of the law of armed conflict.

But according to the armys own figures, only 32 investigations were initiated as a result of these examinations. In most of the incidents that were examined, there was no reasonable suspicion that a criminal act was carried out by IDF forces, whether by particular soldiers or in the level of policy, the army said.

Despite the recommendations of the Ciechanover Commission according to which MAG should decide whether to open an investigation within 14 months Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Sharon Afek has not yet decided whether the events of Black Friday warrant a criminal investigation, even though three years have passed and hundreds of hours have been invested in investigations. That is execrable, in light of the fact that it is these events that have raised the greatest number of questions about the proportionality of force employed by the army, which led to a large number of civilian deaths (the exact number of which is debated).

The justice minister has recently acted to prosecute a soldier who admitted beating a Palestinian during his army service. In her call to investigate Breaking the Silence spokesman Dean Issacharoff over his testimony, Ayelet Shaked demonstrates exceptional commitment to the matter, equal to that of the organization itself, which in response called on her to investigate the hundreds of combat soldiers who broke the silence without concealing their faces. Given her commitment to the issue, she should certainly demand an investigation of the events of Black Friday and the suspicions of war crimes in Rafah.

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It should be emphasized that even if the use of disproportionate force was a result of the old Hannibal directive, which has since been amended by the current chief of staff, the judgment of the senior commanders in the field must be examined and assessed in the light of the tragic consequences of the employment of that force.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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Egypt sends fuel to power-starved Gaza, undercuts Abbas | News … – The Philadelphia Tribune

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip Egypt trucked 1 million liters of cheap diesel fuel to the Gaza Strips sole power plant a rare shipment that temporarily eased a crippling electricity crisis in the Hamas-ruled enclave but also appeared to undercut Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas has been stepping up financial pressure on Gaza in hopes of forcing the militant group Hamas to cede ground in the territory. Hamas seized Gaza from Abbas forces in 2007, and Wednesdays delivery was the result of a strange new alliance of old foes united against the Palestinian president.

The power plant stopped operating in April after Hamas could no longer afford to buy heavily taxed fuel from Abbas West Bank-based government, leaving Gazans with just four hours of electricity a day.

Abbas also asked Israel to reduce the electricity it sends to Gaza, which amounts to about a third of the territorys needs. This electricity, paid for by the Abbas government, has been reduced by one-fourth since Monday, worsening the crunch.

The power shortage has cast a pall over the current holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims often end their dawn-to-dusk fasting with lavish family meals. With their homes in the dark and refrigerators not functioning, families have had to scale back the celebrations.

Yousef al-Kayali, a Hamas finance official, said 11 trucks delivered the fuel on Wednesday. He said a second shipment of an additional 1 million liters was expected by Thursday.

The fuel will not solve Gazas electricity woes, however. Israel is now providing just 88 megawatts of power each day, down from 120 earlier this week. The Egyptian fuel is expected to provide about 50 megawatts of power each day for several days, making up the cut in Israeli supplies.

In all, Gaza requires about 400 megawatts to meet its daily needs. The hot weather and Ramadan have increased demand, adding to the shortages.

There will still be troubles, but not the maximum troubles. Re-running the power plant is better than keeping it shut down, said Fathi Sheikh Khalil, director of the Hamas-run energy authority.

It was not clear whether the Egyptian deliveries were a one-time gesture or would continue.

Egypt and Hamas have had cool relations since the Egyptian military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013. The new Egyptian government accuses Hamas of cooperating with Islamic militants in Egypts Sinai Peninsula.

But earlier this month, Egypt hosted a delegation of top Hamas officials. The delegation also met Mohammed Dahlan, an exiled Palestinian leader and Abbas rival. Those talks led to the fuel shipments.

Our relationship with Egypt is getting better and Egypt showed high understandings of the crisis in Gaza, said Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official. We agreed with Dahlans group on finding solutions to the humanitarian crisis.

Dahlan, 53, was a Hamas foe when he led Palestinian Authority forces in Gaza before Hamas routed them in 2007 and took over the seaside strip. But after a falling out with Abbas in 2011, he and Hamas now have a common foe.

Dahlan is looking to make a comeback to Palestinian politics through Gaza, where he has support among many Fatah members.

Egypt wants Hamas to help secure the border between Gaza and northern Sinai, where the Egyptian military is battling Islamic extremists.

Abbas has been stepping up pressure on Hamas for several months. Earlier this year, he reinstated taxes on diesel shipments for Gazas power plant. The cash-strapped Hamas authorities were unable to pay for the fuel.

Abbas also slashed salaries of tens of thousands of former staff in Gaza to further hurt the faltering economy. Then he asked Israel to cut electricity supplies to Gaza by 40 percent. (AP)

With no other options, Hamas has turned to Dahlan, its longtime enemy.

If we have the money, we would not have gone to Dahlans people, al-Hayya said.

The talks between Hamas, Dahlan and Egypt have angered Abbas.

Im surprised, because they (Egypt) are a member of a coalition that considered Hamas a terrorist movement, and despite that, they had these meetings and agreements, said Jamal Muheisin, a senior member of Abbas Fatah party.

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Egypt sends fuel to power-starved Gaza, undercuts Abbas | News … – The Philadelphia Tribune

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Somber Commemorations in Gaza Fuel Movement Building – HuffPost

This month marks a half of a century since some of the darkest pages were written into Palestinian history. In just six days in June of 1967, Israel seized control of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. These same lands had been designated for a future Palestinian state at the end of British colonial occupation that had occurred just two decades before in 1947. Territorial boundaries were redefined, and in the 50 years that have since elapsed, Palestinians have lived under the oppression and violence that come with military occupation.

In East Jerusalem, the Israeli military continually demolishes homes and increasingly blocks access to holy sites. In the West Bank, settlement expansion proliferates, while water and other life-giving natural resources serve the Israeli occupation and the big business interests of an incapacitated Palestinian Authority. Meanwhile in Gaza, the near-total blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt has generated a full-blown humanitarian and environmental crisis.

Inhumane Blockade Devastates Gaza

The severity of the situation in Gaza cannot be overstated as the blockade has now been in place for a decadeyet another bleak anniversary commemorated by Palestinians this month. The most visible manifestation of the enclosure has been three bombing assaults conducted by the Israeli military on the tiny coastal enclave: Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09, Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, and Operation Protective Edge in 2014. The collective death toll was more than 4,000 people, and the overwhelming majority of the deceased were Palestinian civilians, including children. Those who survived the attacks continue to experience severe psychological consequences.

Drinking water in Gaza has become largely unavailable. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) reported that children have shown signs of water related diseases and permanent organ damage due to high levels of ingested chemicals from what little water is available. Constant electrical blackoutsup to 20 hours per dayalso affect water and sanitation as well as other critical services such as health and education.

Recently, UNRWA indicated that 87 percent of residents live below the poverty line, and severe movement restrictions have caused unprecedented levels of unemployment, with 80 percent of residents depending on food aid. Young peopleGazas majorityhave now lived through multiple assaults, and the youngest among them know no other political reality aside from the crippling blockade. For the most part, they have no way out of Gaza and suffer from a lack of opportunities there.

Of the sectors most targeted by the occupation and blockade are agriculture and fisheries. Gazas borders with Israel are surrounded by restricted access zones (commonly known as buffer zones) that cut deep into the distressed Palestinian territorys farmland. Farmers who enter these areasthat is, who go to their own farmlandrisk being shot from nearby towers. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has documented that the restricted access zones account for 17 percent of Gazas land, making about 35 percent of all farmland unavailable to Palestinians. Both Israeli and international law prohibit the restricted access zones, but the practice of patrolling them with guns and tanks nonetheless persists.

Similarly, at sea, Israel has imposed an offshore no-go zone in which fishers are subject to arbitrary shootings and confiscation of boats. This area fluctuates unilaterally at the whim of Israeli authorities, and is always far less than the 20 nautical miles designated for Palestinians in the Oslo Accordswhich is only ten percent of the 200 nautical miles granted to a given state under International Maritime Law. The impacts have devastated what was once a vibrant fishing community.

Palestinian Social Movements Persist, Resist

Against such an imposing backdrop, Palestinian social movements and human rights organizations in Gaza and their international allies are working together in a careful balancing act that attends to humanitarian relief, sustainable development, and movement building needs.

One such group, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), has been in the process of constantly redefining itself to meet the needs of the Palestinian people. It was founded in 1986 by a group of volunteers and agronomists, on the brink of the first intifada that would prove to reshape resistance to occupation. Since then UAWC has bridged the needs of those living in the increasingly cantonized West Bank with those in the Gaza Strip, which is progressively penned off. In doing so it has garnered a raft of supporters, from the European Union to the Landless Workers Movement of Brazil.

All of our work is part of a bigger project, and it is one of freedom, said Saad Ziada, an UAWC leader in Gaza. We want to have an open sea, and to be able to practice our work without acts of terror and killing, he explained over the phone.

One of UAWCs most important global connections is La Va Campesina, the radical agrarian movement that brings together peasant struggles transnationally. In fact, UAWC is the first Middle Eastern member organization of La Va Campesina and serves as an anchor for the global movement as it works to build alliances in the greater Middle East and North Africa.

The solidarity we feel from our brothers and sisters in La Va Campesina gives us more power, offered Saad. As Palestinian farmers and fishers, we have high hopes that being a part of this movement will advance our struggle and support our rights, he added.

In Palestine, the 50-year anniversary of Israeli occupation and decade of near-total blockade in Gaza is a time of looking back on difficult historical moments in which rights enjoyed in most parts of the world vanished. At the same time, it is an opportunity to look forward to a future in which they will be restored and advanced. Even though states and political parties have continually neglected such a political project, social justice movements inside and outside of Palestine are acting as its guardians.

What you can do: Grassroots International, a U.S.-based nonprofit, supports small farmers and producers, Indigenous Peoples and women working around the world to win resource rights: the human rights to land, water and food. Grassroots works through grantmaking, education, and advocacy. The Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) and La Va Campesina are among its global network of partners.

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No Power in Gaza – Jacobin magazine

On Monday, Israel began a 40 percent reduction of electricity to the occupied Gaza Strip, where Palestinian residents already average only three to four hours of electricity a day.

The electricity cuts were requested by Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas to further escalate the sanctions already imposed on Gaza in an effort to wrest control of the coastal enclave away from Hamas, the PAs primary political rival.

A long-standing rift between the PA and Hamas deepened in 2007 when, after infighting, Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip and the PA took control of the West Bank. Since then,the United States and Israel, together with Abbas, have consistently pressured Hamas to accept PA control over the area, often with measures worsening the humanitarian disaster in Gaza.

Earlier this year, Abbas announced a 30 percent reduction to the salaries of PA employees in Gaza. Due to the Israeli blockade, poverty is rampant and unemployment is sky-high, making PA salaries a crucial source of income in the enclave.

Abbas also refused requests to cut taxes imposed on fuel for Gazas power station, further deepening the crisis of resources affecting the besieged enclave.

Now, with the new restrictions, electricity provision will drop to about two to three hours a day. Such limitations are certain to lead to deaths, as Gazas medical facilities already suffer from a lack of electricity and supplies. Whats more, Abbas has cut funding for Gazas medical facilities over the past months as well from about $4 million a month to just $500,000 in May.

Like most sanctions, these measures affect the poor far more than the political class, who tend to have generators, priority medical treatment, and more access to resources.

The PAs attrition strategy is clear. As an anonymous PA adviser saidto Haaretz, We realize this sounds cruel, but in the end, after ten years of the split and Hamas rule in the Strip, [Hamas] must decide whether it will control things in every sense, including ongoing expenses, or let the Palestinian government rule.

After announcing its plans to punish Gaza with further electricity cuts, the PA blocked eleven websites associated with Abbass political rivals, preventing them from being viewed in the West Bank. Notably, one of Gazas most popular news services, Shehab, is among those blocked.

Because Abbas has proven himself a far more compliant negotiating partner than his rivals in Hamas, Israel and the United States have a lot to gain from PA control over the area. And Abbas may have a lot to gain, as well many interpret Abbass collaboration with the Israeli occupation as a shrewd maneuver to preserve his fragile position as president long after his term was set to expire. (The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey reports that about two-thirds of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza want Abbas to resign.)

While Abbas collaborates with Israel to punish Gaza, it should be noted that Israel, as the military occupier of Gaza, is legally obligated to provide residents with services like electricity and health care, but refuses to do so. As a form of leverage, Israeleven consistently withholds taxes owed to the PA that pay for such services.

Abbas senses that Hamas is weak. Efforts by Israel and Saudi Arabia to undermine the organization are bearing fruit, and Hamas now faces a regional political landscape almost bereft of allies.

Hamass problems intensified in 2012, when the party sided against the Bashar al-Assad government in the ongoing Syrian conflict, losing support from Iran and Syria. Though there was internal dissent within the organization over whether to endanger relations with Iran and Syria, former leader Khaled Mashal ultimately chose to pivot Hamas towards the Gulf, seeking a renewed relationship with regional players like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

In hindsight, the move appears to have been a strategic blunder, as a campaign lead by Saudi Arabia against Qatar, now Hamass largest foreign funder, has further isolated the Palestinian organization.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed a blockade, demanding that the nation stop funding Muslim Brotherhood organizations (including Hamas) and distance itself from Iran. During his visit to the region, Trump is widely believed to have given Saudi Arabia the green light to pursue such actions, and the $110 billion weapons deal signed between the United States and Saudi Arabia is seen by many as material reassurance.

Qatar has long played a seemingly contradictory role in the politics of the region, supporting the Saudi coalitions attacks on Yemen and siding with the Saudis in Syria, but all the while maintaining friendly relations with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Saudi monarchy sees the Muslim Brotherhood as a potential threat to their formidable power in the region. Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is even more paranoid about the organization after deposing the Brotherhoods Mohamed Morsi in a 2013 coup, his junta began a brutal crackdown on the movements Egyptian members. By stripping the Muslim Brotherhood of one of its major financiers, Qatar, these authoritarian governments hope to neutralize the threat of internal opposition.

Whats more, the blockade of Qatar sets the groundwork for further normalization of relations between Israel and the Saudi axis a fact not lost on Israeli officials, who welcomed the actions. Israels deputy minister of diplomacy, Michael Oren, wrote on Twitter that the Saudi moves represent [a] [n]ew line drawn in the Middle Eastern sand. No longer Israel against Arabs but Israel and Arabs against Qatar-financed terror.

Nominally, Saudi Arabia does not have formal relations with Israel, but has promised to establish them on the condition of a comprehensive peace deal with the Palestinians. Israels unwillingness to make such a deal has prevented the official formation of an alliance. This puts the Gulf power in an inconvenient position, forcing Saudi Arabia to keep its relations with Israel clandestine as the two countries cooperate as regional strategic partners against Iran.

However, the recent Saudi moves to isolate Qatar represent a further step towards de facto normalization, and signal an abandonment of their minimal demands with regards to Palestinian rights.

There is evidence that relations are warming between Saudi Arabia and Israel after the announced isolation of Qatar. The two countries have reportedly begun secretly negotiating economic ties, and Saudi Arabia recently appointed a new crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, who is reported to have strong clandestine relations with Israeli officials. The Saudi government even announced that they consider Hamas to be a terrorist organization a major victory for Israeli propaganda.

Sisis junta, on the other hand, declared Hamas to be a terrorist organization back in 2015 and has enthusiastically collaborated with the Israeli blockade of Gaza since the 2013 coup that brought him to power. His government appears to be chomping at the bit to join Israel and the PA in their latest Gaza squeeze according to Palestinian news outlet Maan, Egypt informed the Gaza electricity company that it might cut off power lines to Gaza at any time, exacerbating the shortage.

Now, with Hamas cut off from Qatari support, the organization may turn back to Iran, further aligning Saudi and Israeli interests.

The sanctions imposed on Gaza, already besieged and imprisoned by Israeli occupation, could lead to war. Another Israeli assault on Gaza would be a massacre of a largely defenseless population. The Israeli bombardment of Gaza in 2014 killed over 2,200 Palestinians, mainly civilians.

While Abbas is using his relationship with Israel to punish Gaza for his own political gains, it bears reiteration that the situation in Gaza is chiefly designed and maintained by Israel, and the occupation is responsible for the humanitarian crisis there.

The first step to alleviating the suffering of Gaza is ending the occupation, exactly why popular pressure forces and neighboring governments often make this an essential condition in negotiations. But while the Palestinian cause remains important to the general public in the region, regressive governments backed by US money and weapons long ago made it clear their allegiance lies with the occupation.

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No Power in Gaza – Jacobin magazine

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June 23, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Israel Pays $20M Compensation To Gaza Flotilla Victims – Forward

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Israel has paid total compensation of $20 million to the families of the victims of an Israeli raid on a Turkish aid flotilla that killed 10 people in 2010, Turkish media quoted Turkeys Finance Minister Naci Agbal as saying on Friday.

The payment, which will be divided among the 10 families, comes some nine months after Israel, which had already offered apologies for the raid – one of Ankaras conditions for rapprochement – agreed to pay the families of those killed.

Compensation has been paid to the families of those who lost their lives during the Mavi Marmara attack, Turkish broadcasters quoted Agbal as saying.

Relations between Israel and Turkey broke down in 2010 when Turkish pro-Palestinian activists were killed by Israeli commandos enforcing a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. The soldiers raided a ship, the Mavi Marmara, leading a flotilla towards the Islamist Hamas-run Palestinian territory.

In June 2016 however, the two countries said they would normalize relations – a rapprochement driven by the prospect of lucrative Mediterranean gas deals as well as mutual fears over security risks in the Middle East.

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Israel Pays $20M Compensation To Gaza Flotilla Victims – Forward

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Hamas Bans Dog Walking in the Gaza Strip – NBC News – NBCNews.com

Mouin al-Awad, right, keeps his dogs on the roof of a friend’s building. Dave Copeland / NBC News

I put my dogs here because if I put them downstairs they will be killed or stolen, he said. Im not allowed to take them anywhere. We lock our dogs here because there is no safety.

The animals represent a big investment. It costs around around $425 to buy a Gaza-born German shepherd, and up to $4,000 to import one from outside the enclave.

While officials insist the measures are necessary for the good of the public, Odeh said the ban is emblematic of the increasingly stifling conditions he and his peers are forced to endure.

Im trying to live like a teenager, like a normal one, like other teenagers outside,” the high school student said.

Wajjeh Abu Zarifa and Dave Copeland reported from Gaza City. Lawahez Jabari reported from Tel Aviv. F. Brinley Bruton reported from London.

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Hamas Bans Dog Walking in the Gaza Strip – NBC News – NBCNews.com

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Gaza on the Brink – Foreign Affairs

An ongoing electricity crisis is placing an inordinate amount of pressure on Gaza. If not addressed, it could end with a political implosion, a full-blown humanitarian disaster, and yet another round of violence between Hamas and Israel. A dangerous combination of intra-Palestinian rivalry, the lack of a long-term Israeli strategy for dealing with Hamas, international inertia, and the absence of a political process heightens Gazas dire predicament and the possibility of conflict. Even worse, these same factors are plunging the strip into the deepest humanitarian crisis it has seen in a decade. In short, Gaza is on the brink of a humanitarian, and possibly political, point of no return. The episodes of escalation between Hamas and Israel over the past ten years follow a remarkably similar pattern. Although Israel has repeatedly and unsuccessfully attempted to remove Hamas from power by isolating Gaza, it continues to rely on that same system of restrictions to keep Hamas at bay. The guiding assumption has been that Hamas, interested in continuing to rule the Gaza Strip, can be kept from initiating military hostilities through the threat of increased economic sanctions and military action. Implicit in this reasoning is the belief that it is possible to put enough pressure on Hamas to keep it weak while not putting toomuch pressure on the group to make it desperateleft with nothing to lose and thus undeterrable. This assumption has proved wrong time and again. The pressure on Gaza cyclically mounts until Hamas opts for force in an attempt to change the rules of the game. Thus, short-lived military conflicts are followed by temporary relaxations of the isolation policy. As time goes on, the trend is reversed, eventually leading to additional rounds of conflict. The same pattern unfolded after the most recent war in 2014. A temporary easing of regulations on the inflows and outflows of goods and people was followed by a significant increase in the political and economic pressure on Gaza, ultimately heightening the chances of

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June 27, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Gaza becoming unexpected destination for Egyptian jobseekers – Al-Monitor

Laborers work at the construction site of a house that witnesses said was destroyed by Israeli shelling during a 50-day war in 2014, in Johar al-Deek, Gaza, July 26, 2015.(photo byREUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa) Author:Amjad Yaghi Posted June 25, 2017 GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip Egyptian construction workers often do not earn enough to cover the basic expenses for themselves and their families, such as food, medicine and clothing. TranslatorPascale el-Khoury The value of the Egyptian pound fell in half following the governments decision tofloat the Egyptian currencyin November and standsat about18 Egyptian pounds to the US dollar. This has forced many construction workers to work extra hours; some of them even sought to migrate or obtain a work visa abroad. Strangely, however, somefound jobs in the Gaza Strip, which is reeling under its own massive unemployment and harsh economic conditions due to the Israeli siege. Since the beginning of the year, some employers, including contractors, in the Gaza Strip have noticed that Egyptian construction workers have been applying for jobs there. At first this seemed quite odd. Many wondered how these Egyptian men crossed into Gaza and started searching for jobs there. Contractor Mohammed Younis of the southern Gaza town of Rafah, who employs 10 construction workers, hired two Egyptians in early April. In order to be allowed to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing, these Egyptian workers usually invoke their kinship relationship to Egyptian women who are living in Gaza and married to a Palestinian national. Egyptians, however, have to be first- or second-degree relatives of these women in Gaza to get a tourist visa to Palestine. After getting the visa, these Egyptians are forced to wait for long periods to enter Gaza, in light of the repeated closure of the Rafah Crossing. Once in Gaza, they start their job hunt through their relatives and Egyptian connections there. Al-Monitor met with four Egyptians working in different areas in the Gaza Strip. Moamen Hosni, 34, is from Dakahlia governorate in northeast Egypt. He is the father of three, and his sister Gamila has been married to a Gazan citizen for 15 years and lives in al-Sabra neighborhood, east of Gaza City. He traveled to Gaza at the beginning of March and is now working as a construction worker with a contractor related to his brother-in-law. Hosni told Al-Monitor, At the beginning of this year, I was evicted from an apartment I had rented in Dakahlia because I was unable to pay the monthly rent. I had been working extra hours and taking on multiple odd jobs for two years in a crumbling Egyptian economy. He continued, Thenone day my sister who lives in Gaza suggested I move to the Gaza Strip despite the difficult conditions there and even though it was unlikely for me to find a job. But given the currency exchange difference between the Egyptian pound and the shekel, if I did ever find a job there, I would be able to send money to my family back home and pay the monthly rent. Hosni works from the early morning hours until the sun sets. He said that in the month of Ramadan he works from midnight until the time of the Suhoor (the meal consumed early in the morningby Muslims before fasting). I have been getting a monthly salary of about 1,300 shekels ($368) since I started working in the Gaza Strip. I transferhalf of this amount to my wife through money transfer offices in Gaza to pay the rent and cover other bills. Mutawaa Dahlouki, 42, and Ayad Bashir, 39, told Al-Monitor that they worked in Libya from September 2014 until August 2016, but they left their jobs there for fear of terrorist groups, especially after the killing of a number of Egyptian workers in Libya and the abduction of others, whose fate is yet to be known. When Dahlouki and Bashir came back home, they found their financial situation to be much worse than when they left. Dahlouki and Bashir entered the Gaza Strip in February. Bashirs mother is Palestinian. She lives in the Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip with her husband, whom she had married after his father’s death in the 1990s. The two men were able to work as construction workers and as porters with a local house furniture transport company. Dahlouki told Al-Monitor, It is currently very difficult for an Egyptian to obtain a visa for Arab countries. Illegal migration to European countries has proved to be deadly and frightening. Moving to a European country is not as easy as it may seem. Bashir and I never thought about coming to Gaza, which has been ravaged by wars. But our search for means of a livelihood brought us here, and we found it safer than Libya. Dahlouki and Bashir earn a monthly salary ranging between 1,200 shekels ($340) and 1,500 shekels ($425) each for working for about 12 hours a day. They send money to their families in Minya governorate in Upper Egypt. Dahlouki has a family of six and Bashir of five. Ahmad Mustafa, 44, traveled to Gaza to stay with his daughter, who is married to a Palestinian. Mustafa works as a home electricity maintenance technician and at night he sells cellphoneaccessories on a cart, on Omar al-Mukhtar Street in Gaza. Mustafa is the father of seven children living in Hadaiq al-Qubbah neighborhood in central Cairo. He is working two jobs to be able to provide for the needs of his family, not to mention the tuition fees of three of his children, He told Al-Monitor that an electrician in Egypt often does not make more than 50 Egyptian pounds ($2.75) a day, which is not enough to cover household expenses. Salama Abu Zaiter, a member of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, told Al-Monitor, Egyptians who come to the Gaza Strip at the present time are very few. There are no exact statistics on their number. Official authorities and bodies concerned with workers affairs do not provide them with social or legal protection or privileges. There are no labor agreements between the Egyptian and Palestinian sides. They come to Gaza on their own responsibility. He added that between 2011 and 2013, dozens of Egyptian workers entered the Gaza Strip through the crossings and tunnels and would sell their goods in Gaza City. Egyptians heading today to Gaza have friends or relatives living in the Gaza Strip. They come to work here because of the currency exchange difference between the Israeli shekel and the Egyptian pound. Egyptians are better paid in shekels, despite the higher unemployment rate in Gaza compared with Egypt. However, Egyptian workers have better chances to find work in Gaza if they have good personal and family relations, Abu Zaiter said. Read More: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/06/palestine-gaza-egyptians-construction-workers-pound-profits.html

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June 25, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Gaza Situation Report 199, 13 June 19 June 2017 – ReliefWeb

HIGHLIGHTS The Gaza Strip faces regular power cuts and provision of electricity remains well below demand. The cuts affect critical services like health, waste water treatment as well as education, homes and businesses. To maintain a minimum level of continuity of critical services, providers are now relying heavily on back-up generators. For more information read a factsheet issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory under the name Humanitarian Impact of the Gaza Electricity Crisis. Electricity blackouts in Gaza last between 8-12 hours each day and have sometimes even reach 20 hours straight. On a good day, Gazas electrical grid supplies 208 megawatts, this supply falls far below demand, which is currently 350 to 450 Megawatts. Families in Gaza are forced to spend a large part of their income on energy, whether the meager supply of electricity they receive through high voltage lines, or on the cost of fuel, generators and their repair.On 14 June, Mr. Robert Piper, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestine territory issued a statement on the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza where he warned about the disastrous consequences of a further reduction in electricity-supply to the Gaza Strip on the living conditions of two million Palestinians in Gaza. To read the full statement, click here. For more information about the situation in Gaza, read United Nations report in 2012 Gaza in 2020: A liveable place? UNRWA Director of Operations in Gaza, Mr. Bo Schack, visited Brussels- Belgium and Strasbourg France, from 13-15 June – to brief the EU Institutions and EU Member States on the situation in Gaza and UNRWA operations. During his mission, he met with Mr. Michael Koehler, Director of Neighborhood South in the European Commission Directorate General for the Neighborhood and Enlargement negotiations – DG NEAR, Mr. Colin Scicluna, Deputy Managing Director and Director for the MENA region in the European External Action Service, Mr. Herv Delphin, Head of Middle East Unit in ECHO, and thanked them for the EUs support of UNRWA to assist Palestine Refugees. In addition, Mr. Schack also had an exchange of views with the European Parliament (EP) delegation for relations with Palestine (DPAL) on ten years of blockade on Gaza and met with members of the EP Budget Committee ahead of their visit to Palestine. He also met with several departments in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation in the Belgium Government. To help alleviate the dire economic situation for Palestine Refugee families, and provide them a source of income, dignity and self-reliance the UNRWA Job Creation Programme (JCP) commenced two projects targeting the agriculture sector: together providing 214 job opportunities. The beneficiaries of the projects provide assistance to farmers in collecting crops, weeding and planting. Through its Job Creation Programme, UNRWA works to mitigate the impact of the collapsed Gaza economy and labour market by providing work opportunities for Palestine refugees. In the first quarter of 2017, UNRWA created skilled and unskilled job opportunities for 9,092 beneficiaries through JCP, injecting US$ 4.6 million into the Gaza economy. If sufficient funding is made available, UNRWA hopes to offer short-term employment opportunities for approximately 53,193 Palestine refugees living below the poverty line in 2017. On 13 June, a Finnish delegation visited UNRWA Gaza Field Office. The five-member delegation- accompanied by UNRWAs Operations and Support Office (OSO) – visited Al- Fakhora health centre and Jabalia camp, northern Gaza strip. They then met with the UNRWA Deputy Director of Operations in Gaza, Ms. Melinda Young, who briefed them about the situation and the operations in Gaza. At the end of the visit, the delegation visited a family from north area who have benefited from the UNRWA shelter reconstruction project. OPERATIONAL ENVIRONMENT During the reporting week, several protests were held across the Gaza Strip against the blockade. Eight injuries were reported. Israeli patrol boats opened fire towards Palestinian boats off the coast of Gaza city, forcing them ashore. Five injuries were reported. Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) positioned at the security fence in different locations opened fire towards Palestinian areas on two days during the reporting period. No injuries were reported. A sit-in organized by the Hamas Womens Movement took place in front of Palestinian Legislative Council office, west of Gaza city, in support of state of Qatar and in condemnation of the boycott against to Qatar. Approximately, 100 people participated in the sit-in. Four IDF bulldozers entered Gaza, to approximately 50 metres, east of Beit Hanoun area near Erez crossing, where they conducted a clearing and excavation operation. The IDF troops then withdrew to the security fence. UNRWAS RESPONSE To assist in the empowerment of Palestine refugee women, facilitate the building of their networks and to strengthen their role and active participation in the community, UNRWAs Relief and Social Services Programme contributes to seven independent Womens Programme Centres (WPC) in the eight official refugee camps in Gaza. Thirty-year-old Mervat Aloosh, a Palestine refugee woman who lives with her family in the Beach camp, western Gaza city, has been a regular visitor to the Beach Womens Programme Centre for two years. Two years ago, my friends told me about the Womens Programme Centre, I started by learning sewing and I enjoyed the course very much. Although I didnt have the opportunity to complete my university studies, I took a variety of training courses through the Centre on cooking, marketing and sewing. The Centre provided me with a good opportunity to learn, build new relations and friends and become more self-confidant Mervat said. The Womens Programme Centres support Palestine refugee women through cultural and recreational activities. The Centres also offers a wide range of integrated services to enhance the knowledge and capabilities of women, such as skills training and education. These services are delivered by seven Womens Programme Centers (WPCs) across the Gaza Strip. I participated in many activities organized by the Beach Womens Programme Centre including psychological support sessions, and gender-based violence awareness sessions. The activity I liked the most was about womens rights as I never knew before about my inheritance rights. This made me feel more comfortable and self-aware of my rights and duties in the community Mervat added. As many orders of Kaek- a traditional festive dessert made in Eid marking the end of Ramadan – were received through the Centres Facebook page, the participants, along with the Centres management, came up with idea of making Kaak and selling it for profit. Mervat said: Every day we prepare an average of 80 to 100 kilos, upon request. The Beach Womens Programme Centre provides us with the place, tools and raw materials. Our work doesnt stop after the Eid season, there are always cooking activities hosted by the Centre; we are planning to continue and sell pastries and other desserts. The Centres activities enable me to provide for my family in a more stable manner, especially given my husband is unemployed, she added. The UNRWA Relief and Social Services Programme (RSSP) empowers Palestine refugees, focusing on the most vulnerable groups, by meeting their social and economic needs through community social interventions. RSSP activities range from the distribution of food baskets and the regular assessment of refugees poverty status and eligibility for services through social workers, to a variety of skills training and capacity building mainly for women, children and youth. In total, UNRWA assists seven Womens Programme Centres in refugee camps across the Gaza Strip. WPCs aim to empower women socially and economically, and enhance womens participation in the community through legal advice and with skills-based trainings. The centres also try to assist illiterate women in entering the formal education system by providing education and literacy classes. FUNDING NEEDS UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agencys Programme Budget in 2017. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals. Following the 2014 conflict, US$ 257 million has been pledged in support of UNRWAs emergency shelter programme, for which an estimated US$ 720 million is required. This leaves a current shortfall of US$ 463 million. UNRWA urgently appeals to donors to generously contribute to its emergency shelter programme to provide displaced Palestine refugees in Gaza with rental subsidies or cash assistance to undertake repair works and reconstruction of their damaged homes. As presented in UNRWAs occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) Emergency Appeal for 2017, the Agency is seeking US$ 402 million to meet the minimum humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees in the oPt. The Gaza portion of the Emergency Appeal amounts to US$ 355 million for 2017, to address protracted, large scale humanitarian needs. More information can be found here, CROSSINGS Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza have undermined the living conditions of 1.9 million Palestinians in Gaza.Israel prevents all access to and from the Gaza Strip by sea and air.Movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza is restricted to three crossings: Rafah crossing, Erez crossing and Kerem Shalom crossing. Rafah crossing is controlled by the Egyptian authorities and technically allows for the movement of a number of authorized travellers, Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases only. Erez crossing is controlled by Israeli authorities and technically allows for the movement of aid workers and limited numbers of authorized travellers, including Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases. Kerem Shalom crossing, also controlled by Israeli authorities, technically allows for the movement of authorized goods only.

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June 24, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Investigate 2014 Gaza War’s ‘Black Friday’ – Haaretz

The fact that no criminal investigations have been opened is execrable, in light of the fact that it is these events that have raised the greatest number of questions about the proportionality of force employed by the army The events in the Gazan city of Rafah on August 1, 2014, during Israels Operation Protective Edge, earned the sobriquet Black Friday. In the course of the day, the army employed the Hannibal Directive, permitting a number of actions meant to foil an abduction, including ones that can endanger the lives of civilians and the abduction target. According to military sources, it was the most aggressive employment of the directive ever carried out by the Israel Defense Forces. According to a review by the Givati Brigade, the army fired some 800 artillery shells and 260 mortar shells in Rafah, and war planes bombed about 20 targets. In addition to Hamas militants, dozens of innocent Palestinian civilians were killed in the exceptionally harsh strikes. In the wake of the combat in Gaza, lawyers and human rights groups submitted numerous complaints of war crimes, some of them motivated by media reports and soldiers testimonies to Breaking the Silence, to the office of the Military Advocate General. Data from MAG indicate that some 500 cases were examined, most of them through the General Staff process a team of officers in the standing army and reserves whose role is to examine claims of violations of the law of armed conflict. But according to the armys own figures, only 32 investigations were initiated as a result of these examinations. In most of the incidents that were examined, there was no reasonable suspicion that a criminal act was carried out by IDF forces, whether by particular soldiers or in the level of policy, the army said. Despite the recommendations of the Ciechanover Commission according to which MAG should decide whether to open an investigation within 14 months Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Sharon Afek has not yet decided whether the events of Black Friday warrant a criminal investigation, even though three years have passed and hundreds of hours have been invested in investigations. That is execrable, in light of the fact that it is these events that have raised the greatest number of questions about the proportionality of force employed by the army, which led to a large number of civilian deaths (the exact number of which is debated). The justice minister has recently acted to prosecute a soldier who admitted beating a Palestinian during his army service. In her call to investigate Breaking the Silence spokesman Dean Issacharoff over his testimony, Ayelet Shaked demonstrates exceptional commitment to the matter, equal to that of the organization itself, which in response called on her to investigate the hundreds of combat soldiers who broke the silence without concealing their faces. Given her commitment to the issue, she should certainly demand an investigation of the events of Black Friday and the suspicions of war crimes in Rafah. We’ve got more newsletters we think you’ll find interesting. Please try again later. This email address has already registered for this newsletter. It should be emphasized that even if the use of disproportionate force was a result of the old Hannibal directive, which has since been amended by the current chief of staff, the judgment of the senior commanders in the field must be examined and assessed in the light of the tragic consequences of the employment of that force. The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel. Want to enjoy ‘Zen’ reading – with no ads and just the article? Subscribe today

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June 24, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Egypt sends fuel to power-starved Gaza, undercuts Abbas | News … – The Philadelphia Tribune

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip Egypt trucked 1 million liters of cheap diesel fuel to the Gaza Strips sole power plant a rare shipment that temporarily eased a crippling electricity crisis in the Hamas-ruled enclave but also appeared to undercut Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas has been stepping up financial pressure on Gaza in hopes of forcing the militant group Hamas to cede ground in the territory. Hamas seized Gaza from Abbas forces in 2007, and Wednesdays delivery was the result of a strange new alliance of old foes united against the Palestinian president. The power plant stopped operating in April after Hamas could no longer afford to buy heavily taxed fuel from Abbas West Bank-based government, leaving Gazans with just four hours of electricity a day. Abbas also asked Israel to reduce the electricity it sends to Gaza, which amounts to about a third of the territorys needs. This electricity, paid for by the Abbas government, has been reduced by one-fourth since Monday, worsening the crunch. The power shortage has cast a pall over the current holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims often end their dawn-to-dusk fasting with lavish family meals. With their homes in the dark and refrigerators not functioning, families have had to scale back the celebrations. Yousef al-Kayali, a Hamas finance official, said 11 trucks delivered the fuel on Wednesday. He said a second shipment of an additional 1 million liters was expected by Thursday. The fuel will not solve Gazas electricity woes, however. Israel is now providing just 88 megawatts of power each day, down from 120 earlier this week. The Egyptian fuel is expected to provide about 50 megawatts of power each day for several days, making up the cut in Israeli supplies. In all, Gaza requires about 400 megawatts to meet its daily needs. The hot weather and Ramadan have increased demand, adding to the shortages. There will still be troubles, but not the maximum troubles. Re-running the power plant is better than keeping it shut down, said Fathi Sheikh Khalil, director of the Hamas-run energy authority. It was not clear whether the Egyptian deliveries were a one-time gesture or would continue. Egypt and Hamas have had cool relations since the Egyptian military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013. The new Egyptian government accuses Hamas of cooperating with Islamic militants in Egypts Sinai Peninsula. But earlier this month, Egypt hosted a delegation of top Hamas officials. The delegation also met Mohammed Dahlan, an exiled Palestinian leader and Abbas rival. Those talks led to the fuel shipments. Our relationship with Egypt is getting better and Egypt showed high understandings of the crisis in Gaza, said Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official. We agreed with Dahlans group on finding solutions to the humanitarian crisis. Dahlan, 53, was a Hamas foe when he led Palestinian Authority forces in Gaza before Hamas routed them in 2007 and took over the seaside strip. But after a falling out with Abbas in 2011, he and Hamas now have a common foe. Dahlan is looking to make a comeback to Palestinian politics through Gaza, where he has support among many Fatah members. Egypt wants Hamas to help secure the border between Gaza and northern Sinai, where the Egyptian military is battling Islamic extremists. Abbas has been stepping up pressure on Hamas for several months. Earlier this year, he reinstated taxes on diesel shipments for Gazas power plant. The cash-strapped Hamas authorities were unable to pay for the fuel. Abbas also slashed salaries of tens of thousands of former staff in Gaza to further hurt the faltering economy. Then he asked Israel to cut electricity supplies to Gaza by 40 percent. (AP) With no other options, Hamas has turned to Dahlan, its longtime enemy. If we have the money, we would not have gone to Dahlans people, al-Hayya said. The talks between Hamas, Dahlan and Egypt have angered Abbas. Im surprised, because they (Egypt) are a member of a coalition that considered Hamas a terrorist movement, and despite that, they had these meetings and agreements, said Jamal Muheisin, a senior member of Abbas Fatah party.

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June 24, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Somber Commemorations in Gaza Fuel Movement Building – HuffPost

This month marks a half of a century since some of the darkest pages were written into Palestinian history. In just six days in June of 1967, Israel seized control of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. These same lands had been designated for a future Palestinian state at the end of British colonial occupation that had occurred just two decades before in 1947. Territorial boundaries were redefined, and in the 50 years that have since elapsed, Palestinians have lived under the oppression and violence that come with military occupation. In East Jerusalem, the Israeli military continually demolishes homes and increasingly blocks access to holy sites. In the West Bank, settlement expansion proliferates, while water and other life-giving natural resources serve the Israeli occupation and the big business interests of an incapacitated Palestinian Authority. Meanwhile in Gaza, the near-total blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt has generated a full-blown humanitarian and environmental crisis. Inhumane Blockade Devastates Gaza The severity of the situation in Gaza cannot be overstated as the blockade has now been in place for a decadeyet another bleak anniversary commemorated by Palestinians this month. The most visible manifestation of the enclosure has been three bombing assaults conducted by the Israeli military on the tiny coastal enclave: Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09, Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, and Operation Protective Edge in 2014. The collective death toll was more than 4,000 people, and the overwhelming majority of the deceased were Palestinian civilians, including children. Those who survived the attacks continue to experience severe psychological consequences. Drinking water in Gaza has become largely unavailable. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) reported that children have shown signs of water related diseases and permanent organ damage due to high levels of ingested chemicals from what little water is available. Constant electrical blackoutsup to 20 hours per dayalso affect water and sanitation as well as other critical services such as health and education. Recently, UNRWA indicated that 87 percent of residents live below the poverty line, and severe movement restrictions have caused unprecedented levels of unemployment, with 80 percent of residents depending on food aid. Young peopleGazas majorityhave now lived through multiple assaults, and the youngest among them know no other political reality aside from the crippling blockade. For the most part, they have no way out of Gaza and suffer from a lack of opportunities there. Of the sectors most targeted by the occupation and blockade are agriculture and fisheries. Gazas borders with Israel are surrounded by restricted access zones (commonly known as buffer zones) that cut deep into the distressed Palestinian territorys farmland. Farmers who enter these areasthat is, who go to their own farmlandrisk being shot from nearby towers. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has documented that the restricted access zones account for 17 percent of Gazas land, making about 35 percent of all farmland unavailable to Palestinians. Both Israeli and international law prohibit the restricted access zones, but the practice of patrolling them with guns and tanks nonetheless persists. Similarly, at sea, Israel has imposed an offshore no-go zone in which fishers are subject to arbitrary shootings and confiscation of boats. This area fluctuates unilaterally at the whim of Israeli authorities, and is always far less than the 20 nautical miles designated for Palestinians in the Oslo Accordswhich is only ten percent of the 200 nautical miles granted to a given state under International Maritime Law. The impacts have devastated what was once a vibrant fishing community. Palestinian Social Movements Persist, Resist Against such an imposing backdrop, Palestinian social movements and human rights organizations in Gaza and their international allies are working together in a careful balancing act that attends to humanitarian relief, sustainable development, and movement building needs. One such group, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), has been in the process of constantly redefining itself to meet the needs of the Palestinian people. It was founded in 1986 by a group of volunteers and agronomists, on the brink of the first intifada that would prove to reshape resistance to occupation. Since then UAWC has bridged the needs of those living in the increasingly cantonized West Bank with those in the Gaza Strip, which is progressively penned off. In doing so it has garnered a raft of supporters, from the European Union to the Landless Workers Movement of Brazil. All of our work is part of a bigger project, and it is one of freedom, said Saad Ziada, an UAWC leader in Gaza. We want to have an open sea, and to be able to practice our work without acts of terror and killing, he explained over the phone. One of UAWCs most important global connections is La Va Campesina, the radical agrarian movement that brings together peasant struggles transnationally. In fact, UAWC is the first Middle Eastern member organization of La Va Campesina and serves as an anchor for the global movement as it works to build alliances in the greater Middle East and North Africa. The solidarity we feel from our brothers and sisters in La Va Campesina gives us more power, offered Saad. As Palestinian farmers and fishers, we have high hopes that being a part of this movement will advance our struggle and support our rights, he added. In Palestine, the 50-year anniversary of Israeli occupation and decade of near-total blockade in Gaza is a time of looking back on difficult historical moments in which rights enjoyed in most parts of the world vanished. At the same time, it is an opportunity to look forward to a future in which they will be restored and advanced. Even though states and political parties have continually neglected such a political project, social justice movements inside and outside of Palestine are acting as its guardians. What you can do: Grassroots International, a U.S.-based nonprofit, supports small farmers and producers, Indigenous Peoples and women working around the world to win resource rights: the human rights to land, water and food. Grassroots works through grantmaking, education, and advocacy. The Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) and La Va Campesina are among its global network of partners. The Morning Email Wake up to the day’s most important news.

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June 23, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

No Power in Gaza – Jacobin magazine

On Monday, Israel began a 40 percent reduction of electricity to the occupied Gaza Strip, where Palestinian residents already average only three to four hours of electricity a day. The electricity cuts were requested by Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas to further escalate the sanctions already imposed on Gaza in an effort to wrest control of the coastal enclave away from Hamas, the PAs primary political rival. A long-standing rift between the PA and Hamas deepened in 2007 when, after infighting, Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip and the PA took control of the West Bank. Since then,the United States and Israel, together with Abbas, have consistently pressured Hamas to accept PA control over the area, often with measures worsening the humanitarian disaster in Gaza. Earlier this year, Abbas announced a 30 percent reduction to the salaries of PA employees in Gaza. Due to the Israeli blockade, poverty is rampant and unemployment is sky-high, making PA salaries a crucial source of income in the enclave. Abbas also refused requests to cut taxes imposed on fuel for Gazas power station, further deepening the crisis of resources affecting the besieged enclave. Now, with the new restrictions, electricity provision will drop to about two to three hours a day. Such limitations are certain to lead to deaths, as Gazas medical facilities already suffer from a lack of electricity and supplies. Whats more, Abbas has cut funding for Gazas medical facilities over the past months as well from about $4 million a month to just $500,000 in May. Like most sanctions, these measures affect the poor far more than the political class, who tend to have generators, priority medical treatment, and more access to resources. The PAs attrition strategy is clear. As an anonymous PA adviser saidto Haaretz, We realize this sounds cruel, but in the end, after ten years of the split and Hamas rule in the Strip, [Hamas] must decide whether it will control things in every sense, including ongoing expenses, or let the Palestinian government rule. After announcing its plans to punish Gaza with further electricity cuts, the PA blocked eleven websites associated with Abbass political rivals, preventing them from being viewed in the West Bank. Notably, one of Gazas most popular news services, Shehab, is among those blocked. Because Abbas has proven himself a far more compliant negotiating partner than his rivals in Hamas, Israel and the United States have a lot to gain from PA control over the area. And Abbas may have a lot to gain, as well many interpret Abbass collaboration with the Israeli occupation as a shrewd maneuver to preserve his fragile position as president long after his term was set to expire. (The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey reports that about two-thirds of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza want Abbas to resign.) While Abbas collaborates with Israel to punish Gaza, it should be noted that Israel, as the military occupier of Gaza, is legally obligated to provide residents with services like electricity and health care, but refuses to do so. As a form of leverage, Israeleven consistently withholds taxes owed to the PA that pay for such services. Abbas senses that Hamas is weak. Efforts by Israel and Saudi Arabia to undermine the organization are bearing fruit, and Hamas now faces a regional political landscape almost bereft of allies. Hamass problems intensified in 2012, when the party sided against the Bashar al-Assad government in the ongoing Syrian conflict, losing support from Iran and Syria. Though there was internal dissent within the organization over whether to endanger relations with Iran and Syria, former leader Khaled Mashal ultimately chose to pivot Hamas towards the Gulf, seeking a renewed relationship with regional players like Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In hindsight, the move appears to have been a strategic blunder, as a campaign lead by Saudi Arabia against Qatar, now Hamass largest foreign funder, has further isolated the Palestinian organization. On June 5, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed a blockade, demanding that the nation stop funding Muslim Brotherhood organizations (including Hamas) and distance itself from Iran. During his visit to the region, Trump is widely believed to have given Saudi Arabia the green light to pursue such actions, and the $110 billion weapons deal signed between the United States and Saudi Arabia is seen by many as material reassurance. Qatar has long played a seemingly contradictory role in the politics of the region, supporting the Saudi coalitions attacks on Yemen and siding with the Saudis in Syria, but all the while maintaining friendly relations with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. The Saudi monarchy sees the Muslim Brotherhood as a potential threat to their formidable power in the region. Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is even more paranoid about the organization after deposing the Brotherhoods Mohamed Morsi in a 2013 coup, his junta began a brutal crackdown on the movements Egyptian members. By stripping the Muslim Brotherhood of one of its major financiers, Qatar, these authoritarian governments hope to neutralize the threat of internal opposition. Whats more, the blockade of Qatar sets the groundwork for further normalization of relations between Israel and the Saudi axis a fact not lost on Israeli officials, who welcomed the actions. Israels deputy minister of diplomacy, Michael Oren, wrote on Twitter that the Saudi moves represent [a] [n]ew line drawn in the Middle Eastern sand. No longer Israel against Arabs but Israel and Arabs against Qatar-financed terror. Nominally, Saudi Arabia does not have formal relations with Israel, but has promised to establish them on the condition of a comprehensive peace deal with the Palestinians. Israels unwillingness to make such a deal has prevented the official formation of an alliance. This puts the Gulf power in an inconvenient position, forcing Saudi Arabia to keep its relations with Israel clandestine as the two countries cooperate as regional strategic partners against Iran. However, the recent Saudi moves to isolate Qatar represent a further step towards de facto normalization, and signal an abandonment of their minimal demands with regards to Palestinian rights. There is evidence that relations are warming between Saudi Arabia and Israel after the announced isolation of Qatar. The two countries have reportedly begun secretly negotiating economic ties, and Saudi Arabia recently appointed a new crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, who is reported to have strong clandestine relations with Israeli officials. The Saudi government even announced that they consider Hamas to be a terrorist organization a major victory for Israeli propaganda. Sisis junta, on the other hand, declared Hamas to be a terrorist organization back in 2015 and has enthusiastically collaborated with the Israeli blockade of Gaza since the 2013 coup that brought him to power. His government appears to be chomping at the bit to join Israel and the PA in their latest Gaza squeeze according to Palestinian news outlet Maan, Egypt informed the Gaza electricity company that it might cut off power lines to Gaza at any time, exacerbating the shortage. Now, with Hamas cut off from Qatari support, the organization may turn back to Iran, further aligning Saudi and Israeli interests. The sanctions imposed on Gaza, already besieged and imprisoned by Israeli occupation, could lead to war. Another Israeli assault on Gaza would be a massacre of a largely defenseless population. The Israeli bombardment of Gaza in 2014 killed over 2,200 Palestinians, mainly civilians. While Abbas is using his relationship with Israel to punish Gaza for his own political gains, it bears reiteration that the situation in Gaza is chiefly designed and maintained by Israel, and the occupation is responsible for the humanitarian crisis there. The first step to alleviating the suffering of Gaza is ending the occupation, exactly why popular pressure forces and neighboring governments often make this an essential condition in negotiations. But while the Palestinian cause remains important to the general public in the region, regressive governments backed by US money and weapons long ago made it clear their allegiance lies with the occupation.

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June 23, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Israel Pays $20M Compensation To Gaza Flotilla Victims – Forward

getty images Israel has paid total compensation of $20 million to the families of the victims of an Israeli raid on a Turkish aid flotilla that killed 10 people in 2010, Turkish media quoted Turkeys Finance Minister Naci Agbal as saying on Friday. The payment, which will be divided among the 10 families, comes some nine months after Israel, which had already offered apologies for the raid – one of Ankaras conditions for rapprochement – agreed to pay the families of those killed. Compensation has been paid to the families of those who lost their lives during the Mavi Marmara attack, Turkish broadcasters quoted Agbal as saying. Relations between Israel and Turkey broke down in 2010 when Turkish pro-Palestinian activists were killed by Israeli commandos enforcing a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. The soldiers raided a ship, the Mavi Marmara, leading a flotilla towards the Islamist Hamas-run Palestinian territory. In June 2016 however, the two countries said they would normalize relations – a rapprochement driven by the prospect of lucrative Mediterranean gas deals as well as mutual fears over security risks in the Middle East.

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June 23, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Hamas Bans Dog Walking in the Gaza Strip – NBC News – NBCNews.com

Mouin al-Awad, right, keeps his dogs on the roof of a friend’s building. Dave Copeland / NBC News I put my dogs here because if I put them downstairs they will be killed or stolen, he said. Im not allowed to take them anywhere. We lock our dogs here because there is no safety. The animals represent a big investment. It costs around around $425 to buy a Gaza-born German shepherd, and up to $4,000 to import one from outside the enclave. While officials insist the measures are necessary for the good of the public, Odeh said the ban is emblematic of the increasingly stifling conditions he and his peers are forced to endure. Im trying to live like a teenager, like a normal one, like other teenagers outside,” the high school student said. Wajjeh Abu Zarifa and Dave Copeland reported from Gaza City. Lawahez Jabari reported from Tel Aviv. F. Brinley Bruton reported from London.

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June 23, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed


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