Archive for the ‘Gaza’ Category

Reconstructing Gaza – Donor Pledges – World Bank

The disbursement ratio is the ratio of the amount disbursed of the total support to Gaza. The disbursement of Support to Gaza does not necessarily reflect actual expenditures made on purchasing project-related goods and services but that donor funds have been made available for use by the relevant implementing agency.

Disbursement Status by Donor of Support to Gaza pledged at Cairo Conference on Palestine “Reconstructing Gaza”

in USD Million (As of July 31st, 2017)

Donor

Support to Gaza

Qatar*

1000.00

216.06

Saudi Arabia*

500.00

107.80

European Union1

348.28

312.28

USA

277.00

277.00

Kuwait*

200.00

62.63

Turkey2

200.00

139.48

UAE

200.00

59.08

Norway3

144.98

173.91

European Investment Bank4

70.00

N/A

Switzerland5

65.28

66.96

Germany

63.32

61.70

World Bank

62.00

62.00

Algeria*

61.40

61.40

Japan6

61.00

61.00

UK

32.16

32.16

Italy7

23.68

11.53

Spain

22.80

14.6

Sudan8

20.00

N/A

The Netherlands

15.31

15.31

Canada

14.66

14.66

Denmark

14.46

14.46

Australia

13.18

13.18

France9

10.13

10.13

Sweden

10.00

11.37

Finland

9.31

9.31

Luxembourg

8.97

N/A

Russia

8.74

8.74

Belgium10

7.92

7.92

Bahrain*

6.50

5.15

Austria11

5.22

5.22

India

4.00

4.00

Ireland

3.17

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Reconstructing Gaza – Donor Pledges – World Bank

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February 19, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Kharita –

Kharita is a collaborative initiative of Lebanese, Palestinian and other activists.We produce and share advocacy maps on Middle East conflicts, particularly on Palestinian cause.

Please feel free to use and distribute the maps widely, and send us your feedback and suggestions, on the blog on solidaritypalestine@gmail.com.

By Matthew Cassel on JustImage.org.

In Maroun al-Ras, the village where the protest was held, buses couldnt reach the top so protesters, young and old, were forced to walk up the mountain to reach the protest site.

The body of Mohammed al-Fandi is carried up the mountain to Maroun al-Ras after he was killed by Israeli gunfire while protesting at the border fence in the valley below.

Palestinian refugees further up the mountain, look on as others protest at the border fence in the valley below.

>> See other images of March of Return.

May 17, 2011

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.. .. .. !! .. ! .

! .. .

The Guardian

by Matthew CasselMay 16, 2011

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Lebanese soldiers patrol next to Palestinian refugees during demonstrations to mark the 63rd anniversary of Nakba Day at the Lebanese-Israeli border in Maroun al-Ras, 15 May 2011. Photograph: Hassan Bahsoun/EPA

Climbing up the mountain to reach the Palestinian right-of-return protest in Maroun al-Ras in south Lebanon on Sunday felt a bit like being back in Tahrir Square.

The thousands of mostly Palestinian refugees were smiling as they joked about the strenuous climb, and helped each other up the mountain to reach the site where they were going to stage their demonstration. Some knew it could even be dangerous, but that didnt matter as much as the rare opportunity to join together and call for their rights.

The small elevated Lebanese village just overlooking the border with Israel became a massive parking lot as buses carrying Palestinian refugees and Lebanese from across Lebanon converged for a protest commemorating what Israeli historian Ilan Papp calls the ethnic cleansing by Zionist militias of more than 700,000 Palestinians from their lands and homes in 1948 what Palestinians refer to as the Nakba, or catastrophe. Large buses had difficulties reaching the top of the mountain, and rather than wait, protesters chose to make the half-mile climb by foot.

Men and women, young and old, secular and religious, were all present. This was the first time in 63 years that Palestinian refugees would go to the border in their tens of thousands and call for their right to return home. For most, it was their first time even seeing the land that theyve grown up hearing described in precise detail through the popular stories of elders old enough to remember life in what is today considered Israel.

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t notes

May 17, 2011

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Ive been wearing a hanzala around my neck for about 8 years now. When asked about it, I like to end my explanation with: It became the symbol of the right to return for Palestinian refugees. Living in London and meeting people from all over the world, I got to explain my necklace so many times but I always find it weird when I have to explain it to a Lebanese. I become cynical and say something like: You know that there are Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon, right?

On Sunday May 15, the day of the Nakba commemoration (some called it The Third Intifada), I really understood what it means to be a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon: to stand so close to home but never allowed an entry and to be shot at from inside and outside the border. The Palestinians are treated as second class citizen, they are considered a threat, a bunch of untrustworthy extremists, they are dehumanized because thats the only way their oppressors can justify their acts.

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The army,the government and the factions canceled the 5 june march of return.But grassroots actions were prepared informally, and people are trying to go to the south presently.Follow the events in this twitter account: http://twitter.com/#!/ilaFalasteen

The Human Province

bySean

May 16, 2011

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Yesterday, I spent the day at Maroun al-Ras on the Lebanese border with Israel. Before I get to some of the reactions Ive read about the event and some of the questions raised by it, Id like to discuss the event itself.

Yesterday, Palestinians around the world commemorated the Nakba, which is the catastrophe of the dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians upon the creation of Israel. I left from the Mar Elias camp in Beirut in a bus that had been rented by a young Palestinian activist who teaches physical education in a Palestinian camp. The passengers were Palestinians with a mixture of Lebanese, Bahraini and European companions. Everyone pitched in for the bus, and despite some organizational troubles, we set off on Sunday morning for the border.

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HUFFPOST WORLD

By Sharmine Narwani

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

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You know what scares Israel more than Arab armies or Iranian nukes? Palestinian refugees simply walking home. Seen on Twitter on Nakba Day

Sunday marked the Nakba or day of catastrophe in Arabic referring to the 1948 declaration of Israel when more than 700,000 Palestinian civilians were made homeless overnight.

In remembrance of the Nakba, last weekend thousands of Palestinians and their supporters marched from Syria (video), Gaza, Jordan, the West Bank, Egypt and Lebanon toward Israels borders, and were in most cases thwarted, sometimes violently, from reaching their destination by Arab security forces.

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February 19, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

As Gaza deteriorates, Israel turns to world for help – ABC News

Four years ago, Israel inflicted heavy damage on Gaza’s infrastructure during a bruising 50-day war with Hamas militants. Now, fearing a humanitarian disaster on its doorstep, it’s appealing to the world to fund a series of big-ticket development projects in the war-battered strip.

In a windfall, the wealthy Gulf Arab state of Qatar, a key donor, has become an unlikely partner in Israel’s quest, and has urged other nations to follow suit.

But it remains unclear whether the rest of the international community is in a giving mood.

Donors say that while there have been some successes with reconstruction since the 2014 war, Israeli bureaucracy and security reviews are still too slow and Israel’s ongoing blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza is stifling the broader goal of developing the territory’s devastated economy.

“Israel now realizes the growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza and its impact on the population,” said the World Bank, which has helped oversee international reconstruction efforts. “Donors will be more encouraged to invest if the right conditions on the ground are put in place to allow sustainable growth.”

Gaza, a tiny strip of land sandwiched between Israel and Egypt, has seen conditions steadily deteriorate since Hamas overran the territory in 2007 and took control from the internationally backed Palestinian Authority.

Israel and Egypt clamped a blockade in an attempt to weaken Hamas, and Israel and Hamas have fought three wars. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, hoping to regain control, has stepped up pressure on Hamas by cutting salaries of civil servants and limiting electricity deliveries.

The last war, in 2014, was especially devastating. Nearly 20,000 homes were destroyed, and over 150,000 others were damaged, according to U.N. figures. Hospitals, schools and infrastructure were also damaged.

Following the war, international donors gathered in Cairo and came up with a $3.5 billion reconstruction plan. But only 53 percent of the promised money has been delivered, according to the World Bank, and Gaza’s economy is in shambles. Unemployment is over 40 percent, tap water is undrinkable and Gazans receive only a few hours of electricity a day.

Signs of distress are visible throughout Gaza’s potholed streets. Young men sit idly in groups on sidewalks, shopkeepers kill time on their smartphones as they mind their empty shops and the smell of sewage from the Mediterranean often wafts through the air.

Israel blames Hamas, a militant group sworn to its destruction, for the conditions. It says it has no choice but to maintain the blockade, which restricts imports and exports, because the group continues to plot ways to attack Israel.

But fearing a humanitarian disaster that could spill over into violence, Israel has begun to soften its line, echoing warnings by international officials.

“We are well beyond a humanitarian crisis, but on the verge of a total system failure in Gaza, with a full collapse of the economy and social services with political, humanitarian and security implications to match,” U.N. Mideast envoy Nickolay Mladenov said.

Looking forward, Israel and the international community have different visions for how to fix the situation.

On Jan. 31, Israeli Cabinet Minister Tzachi Hanegbi and Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who oversees Israeli civilian policies for Gaza, appealed to an emergency gathering of donor nations in Brussels to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars for long-delayed projects sought by the international community.

According to a document obtained by The Associated Press, the Israeli list included a power line, natural gas line, desalination plant, industrial zone and sewage treatment facility.

“Israel is ready to provide its technological skills and infrastructure to prevent a humanitarian disaster in Gaza, on the condition that the funds come from the international community and that we know that they will not go to strengthen Hamas,” Hanegbi told the Ynet news site.

In a rare interview, Mohammed Al-Emadi, the head of Qatar’s Gaza reconstruction committee, urged other nations to support the effort.

“We have to fund as soon as possible,” he told the AP. “When you want to do work in Gaza, you have to go through the Israelis.”

Qatar, along with the United States and European Union, has been a leading donor to the “Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism,” a system set up after the 2014 war to rebuild the territory while avoiding contact with Hamas.

Under the arrangement, the Palestinian Authority leads the projects, Israeli security officials review and approve them, while the U.N. monitors the delivery of goods to make sure that items like cement and metal pipes don’t reach Hamas. It relies on various tools, including authorized vendors, security cameras and spot inspections of construction sites.

Israel considers the system to be a success, given the challenging circumstances. According to Israeli figures, nearly 90,000 homes have been rebuilt, while 380 large projects, such as hospitals, housing complexes and water treatment facilities, have been completed.

Qatar has funded some of the most high-profile projects, including an $84 million highway running the 40-kilometer (25-mile) length of Gaza, a $114 million high-rise development in southern Gaza and a $17 million state-of-the-art rehabilitation hospital.

Life-size pictures of Qatar’s former emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and his son, current emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, greet visitors at the hospital entrance.

In Brussels, Jason Greenblatt, the White House Mideast envoy, also called for donors to “rededicate” themselves to investing in Gaza’s infrastructure.

Other key donors, however, seem to be more hesitant. It appears unlikely they will open their wallets with internal Palestinian reconciliation at a standstill, the Trump administration unable to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and continued international frustration over Israel’s 11-year blockade of Gaza. U.S. cuts to UNRWA, the U.N. agency that assists more than half of Gaza’s population, have further complicated the situation.

Illustrating the atmosphere, the new Qatari hospital overlooks a beach contaminated by untreated sewage water that pours into the sea due to power failures.

Guri Solberg, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman for Norway, one of the sponsors of the Brussels meeting, said the gathering was meant to reiterate support for a two-state solution and to enable the Palestinian Authority to regain control of Gaza.

It was “not a pledging conference,” she said, adding it was impossible to say whether countries are ready to pledge more funds. A “number of donors” expressed concerns over the cuts to UNRWA, she added.

U.N. and World Bank officials say the reconstruction mechanism has worked well on routine projects but that Israeli bureaucracy and lengthy security reviews on complicated pieces of equipment have resulted in delays of up to six months.

Rebhi Sheikh-Khalil, deputy head of the Palestinian Water Authority, said a one-year project to build the first phase of a desalination plant end up dragging on for three years.

“This is due to the Israeli approvals that take a long time and so many procedures,” he said.

In Brussels, the Israelis pledged to ease some restrictions to speed up construction a step welcomed by the World Bank.

Mladenov, the U.N. envoy, said that for Gaza’s economy to truly recover, the world must focus on broader goals: enabling Abbas’ government to retake control, ending the Israeli blockade and halting Hamas’ militant activities.

“This will fully enable the international community to support the economic and social revival of Gaza,” he said.

Associated Press writer Fares Akram in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, contributed to this report.

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As Gaza deteriorates, Israel turns to world for help – ABC News

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February 15, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Gaza humanitarian crisis actually a ‘hoax,’ experts maintain

Expert observers of the current situation in Gaza are challenging the assertion by the IDF Chief of Staff who said that Israel could soon face another war with Gaza-based terror group Hamas as a result of humanitarian and economic conditions.

By: Steve Leibowitz, World Israel News

The world press is filled with stories of an alleged humanitarian crisis underway in the Gaza Strip. IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot gave credence to the stories this week when he told the cabinet that Israel could face another war with Hamas in Gaza as a result of the deteriorating humanitarian and economic conditions in the coastal enclave.

Eisenkot cited the lack of electricity, drinkable water, and food in the Gaza Strip, and advocated stepping up aid to the territory.

His logic is that an economic collapse would make a war scenario inevitable. As a result of Eisenkots view as well as that of other top security officials, Israel is for the first time weighing the idea of sending food and medicine to the Gaza Strip, and thereby prevent the deteriorating conditions from spiraling into violence,

World Israel News (WIN) spoke to several expert observers, and could not find one that agreed with Eisenkots assessment or his conclusions.

Prof. Hillel Frisch from Bar Ilan Universitys Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies has conducted extensive research on the economic situation in Gaza.

Frisch told WIN, I cannot understand how Eisenkot and the IDF reached their conclusion. I understand why Hamas says there is a humanitarian crisis. They have been plundering the aid money for years. They tax every aid truck entering the enclave. I understand Israeli industrialists including Osem and Strauss who make money selling food to Gaza.

I even understand local Israeli mayors whose residents are employed to bring the aid to the Gaza crossings. We know that it requires only 50 trucks daily to stave off a real humanitarian crisis. There is no crisis. There has been an economic deterioration caused by Hamas greed and mismanagement but nowhere near a humanitarian crisis.

I also reject these notions of allowing Gazan workers to enter Israel to generate income or having Israel build Gaza an island port off the coast. Ashdod port is only an hour away. Lack of a port is not the reason for economic problems in Gaza, said Frisch

According to Frisch, Hamas is deterred with each round of fighting they are concerned about the pain Israel can inflict upon them. Its almost embarrassingly simple. The IDF wants to avoid another round of fighting by giving aid. That kind of thinking is not in Israels interest, Frisch said.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar from Bar Ilan University told WIN, Gaza is in dire straits because the Hamas government could not care less about the people and cares only about those on its own payroll like security forces and teachers, Hamas spends on missiles and terror tunnels rather than on projects to make life better for the people.

They rely on Israel and all the rest of the aid givers who take care of their poor people so that they can spend on their own interests. The so-called humanitarian crisis is exaggerated. What is true is that there is no hope and no future in Gaza with Hamas running things. They have no idea how to run a state. They are a Jihadi terror group controlling a territory and its people.

David Bedein, Head of the Center for Near East Policy Research has closely monitored aid to Gaza. Bedein told WIN, thirty nations are giving food aid to the Gaza residents through United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) on a regular basis. All of the supplies go through Hamas. Gazans tell me that the supplies arrive at Hamas controlled warehouses, but they are not distributed. Eighty-one percent of the Gaza, population live in UNRWA camps but they are not receiving the aid that was sent. Donor countries are being duped. There is a total lack of supervision. If there is a humanitarian issue its of Hamas doing.

In an article Prof. Frisch published in the Jerusalem Post this week, he commented, The most important factor behind real humanitarian crises the specter of mass hunger and contagious disease is first and foremost the breakdown of law and order, and violence between warring militias and gangs. This was the story of Darfur, Somalia, the Central African Republic. In such a situation, the first to leave are the relief agencies, then, the local medical staffs, local government officials and anyone professional who can make it out of the bedlam, leaving the destitute to fend for themselves. Nothing could be farther from such a reality than Gaza.

Similarly, there is not one news item announcing the departure of a single foreign relief agency or its workers, the closure of one human rights organization in the area. Nowhere is there any evidence that the World Health Organization, which rigorously monitors the world to prevent the outbreak of contagious disease, is seriously looking at Gaza, Frisch wrote.

GazaHamasMordechai KedarUNRWA

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Gaza humanitarian crisis actually a ‘hoax,’ experts maintain

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February 8, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Does Israel have a moral obligation to prevent Gaza’s …

A GIRL WALKS by the remains of a house in the northern Gaza Strip that was destroyed during Operation Protective Edge..(photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)

There are numerous indicators that the situation in the Gaza Strip has gone from bad to worse. And this has direct implications for Israel. The likelihood of another war with Hamas-controlled Gaza has increased; environmental dangers such as sewage and diseases have become more acute; and Israels moral obligation as a neighboring country with the ability to help has become more pressing.

It is difficult to say which of the many crises facing Gazans is the most severe. But it seems that much of the problem stems from the lack of a steady supply of electricity. Sewage treatment plants cannot be operated and large-scale desalination is impossible. Over-pumping of aquifers has resulted in seepage of seawater into the groundwater.

Ahmed al-Yaqoubi, a hydrologist who is an adviser to the Palestinian Water Authority, told the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies last month that almost 90% of the drinking water in Gaza exceeds the maximum salinity standard of the World Health Organization.

Untreated sewage causes sickness and even deaths inside Gaza, and the backflow into the Mediterranean regularly pollutes the beaches of Ashkelon and Ashdod.

The lack of a reliable electricity supply means that hospitals are unable to provide adequate treatment and industry is crippled. This leads in turn to lower productivity, further deterioration of the economy, lower purchasing power, and fewer goods shipped into Gaza. Unemployment is estimated to be around 50%; the number of commercial trucks passing through the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza has dropped from over 1,000 to about 350 per day.

It is widely recognized that Hamas, a party that has enjoyed wide popularity among Palestinians at least since 2006 when it won a plurality of the vote in the Palestinians last national elections, is to blame for the situation in Gaza.

Hamass refusal to adopt a more pragmatic approach to politics has resulted in both Egypt and Israel imposing a blockade on its borders. Egypt has blamed Hamas for aiding Islamists operating in Sinai who have killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers.

And Hamas remains committed to the destruction of Israel. Much of Gazas limited resources materials, know-how, manpower have been channeled into building attack tunnels and developing weapons. Hamas has proved to be completely incompetent at caring for the two million Palestinians living in the Strip, despite extensive humanitarian aid. And it has refused to give up its military control over Gaza, thus blocking any possibility of reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority.

Still, neither Israel nor Egypt has an interest in seeing the situation in Gaza deteriorate to the point of a total breakdown, even if this were to lead to the demise of Hamas.

The collapse of Gazan society would increase the likelihood of another war with Hamas; but it would also be a humanitarian disaster which the world, including Israel, has a moral obligation to help prevent.

Complicating the situation further are the conflicting messages being sent out from the security establishment. While the IDF has warned that Gaza is on the verge of a humanitarian crisis, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has rejected this prognosis, saying on Monday that the situation in Gaza is difficult but there is no humanitarian crisis.

There are a number of steps that Israel could and should take to alleviate the suffering. Hooking up Gazas US-funded sewage treatment project to electricity is one thing. Another positive step would be to help build and operate a desalination plant. Laying a new high-voltage line and even building a Gaza harbor are additional ideas.

However, as long as Hamas cleaves to its Islamist ideology and rejects any form of cooperation or recognition of Israel, it is difficult to envision any of this happening.

We wonder whether the essence of Palestinian identity precludes the possibility of a change in political leadership. Does the historical narrative that Palestinians tell themselves, their fixation on supposed Israeli injustices, their strong sense of victimhood, make it impossible for a more pragmatic Palestinian political leadership to take over from Hamas and Fatah?

But maybe it is possible for a dynamic, less dogmatic and more positive political leadership to change direction and start focusing efforts on building a viable state for the Palestinian people that fosters peace at home and with its neighbors. They can start with Gaza.

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February 8, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Israel Presents $1 Billion Rehabilitation Plan for Gaza, but …

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The EU announced its own plan at the emergency meeting on Gaza, presenting a $53 million fund to ‘preserve the Palestinian character’ of E. Jerusalem and a future Palestinian state

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January 31, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Israel Speeds Up Underground Border Wall To Block Gaza …

The Israeli military is working on a 40-mile wall that will run the length of the nation’s border with the Gaza Strip to counter tunnels dug by Palestinian militants. Daniel Estrin/NPR hide caption

The Israeli military is working on a 40-mile wall that will run the length of the nation’s border with the Gaza Strip to counter tunnels dug by Palestinian militants.

The Israeli military is speeding up construction of its first underground border wall.

The 40-mile-long wall will run the length of Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip to counter tunnels that Palestinian militants have dug into Israeli territory.

Dozens of tunnels, reportedly running dozens of miles long, have been constructed in attempts to infiltrate Israeli territory and carry out attacks, according to the Israeli military.

“This is now a significant game changer,” said Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus.

Work on the “obstacle,” as the military dubs it, began last summer. About 2.5 miles are already complete. Now the military says it is accelerating construction, working 24 hours a day, six days a week breaking only for the Sabbath to complete the wall by mid-2019.

How deep underground the wall will go is being kept secret. “It’s deep enough,” said a senior Israeli military official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity according to army protocol.

On a media tour last week, soldiers drove reporters in armored vehicles along the length of the Israel-Gaza border, which has been transformed into a large construction site. Cranes, concrete production stations, rebar and dirt mounds litter the area.

The construction is being carried out by Israelis and workers from Russia, India, Brazil and elsewhere. Observation posts manned by the Islamist militant group Hamas sit just across the border.

The tunnel barrier is being built the same way one would construct walls for an underground parking lot, the senior military official said. Workers drill long slits into the ground and fill them with fluid bentonite to temporarily block the space. They lower 80-foot-long rebar braces, several of them welded together, into the ground, pump the bentonite out and replace it with concrete.

Israel said said it has discovered and destroyed more than 30 tunnels that militants dug from the Gaza Strip. The new underground wall is meant to thwart future tunnels and existing tunnels Israel has yet to find. Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

Israel said said it has discovered and destroyed more than 30 tunnels that militants dug from the Gaza Strip. The new underground wall is meant to thwart future tunnels and existing tunnels Israel has yet to find.

On top of the underground barrier, Israel is also building an aboveground border fence. The government is installing sensor technology to detect when militants are tunneling close to the border, the military says.

Countering attacks from Gaza

The tunnel blockage is Israel’s latest effort to thwart attacks from Gaza, a territory controlled by Hamas.

In earlier countermeasures, Israel focused on the skies. In response to rocket fire, Israel developed the Iron Dome missile defense system, which can intercept rockets midair before they hit Israeli territory.

Then, in a 2014 war, Israel encountered a different threat, below the ground. Hamas militants popped out of tunnels stretching from Gaza to Israel and attacked soldiers along the border.

After the war, Israel destroyed 32 tunnels it found along the border. In recent months, Israel said it discovered and destroyed three new tunnels that crossed into Israeli territory. The new underground wall is meant to thwart future tunnels and existing tunnels Israel has yet to find.

Egypt’s wall attempt

Israel’s measures aren’t the first attempt to wall off Gaza tunnels. There has been a U.S.-funded effort by Egypt to block tunnels used for smuggling goods, people and weapons on Gaza’s border with Egypt. But Palestinian smugglers have continued to breach the barriers.

On the media tour, reporters walked single file into a tunnel detected and destroyed in October, which the army said was built by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group. The dark, narrow shaft has a low, arched concrete roof and is walled with concrete slabs. Several militants inside the tunnel were killed when Israel destroyed it.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad employ thousands of people working round-the-clock shifts digging tunnels inside Gaza itself, the Israeli army claimed.

“It’s like an underground city,” the senior military official said.

He showed reporters an aerial map of Gaza with a maze of zigzagging, vein-like lines representing tunnels. He declined to say how many tunnels exist.

Hamas acknowledges it has dug tunnels. Its spokesman, Abed Lateef Kanoo, said the group will not be deterred by Israel’s anti-tunnel measures.

“Destroying tunnels will never buy security” for Israel, the spokesman said. “Our resistance is developing all the time.”

Indeed, the Israeli military says Hamas is training land and sea forces, arming itself with drones and looking to improve its missiles.

Abu Bakr Bashir contributed to this report from Gaza.

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Gaza death toll in U.S. embassy violence rises to 4 as Israel …

GAZA CITY Two Hamas militants were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza on Saturday after rocket fire from the enclave hit an Israeli town, as the death toll in violence linked to President Trumps decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israels capital rose to four.

The Israeli military said it had responded to rocket fire by striking four facilities belonging to Hamas in the Gaza Strip: two weapons manufacturing sites, a weapons warehouse and a military compound. It called the rockets fired at Israel one of them hitting the town of Sderot, with no casualties reported asevere act of aggression.

Violent confrontations were reported elsewhere Saturday but were less widespread than a day earlier. Riots had broken out in about 20 locations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the army said. About 450 protesters burned tires and threw rocks along the Gaza border fence, while 600 took part in unrest in the West Bank, it said.

The diplomatic fallout also continued, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas canceling a planned meeting with Vice President Pence when he visits later this month, according to an aide cited by Israeli media.

Egypts Coptic Church said on Saturday that its pope had also canceled his meeting with Pence when he travels on to Cairo. It said the U.S. decision did not take into account the feelings of millions of Arab people.

The White House announcement Wednesday recognizing Jerusalem as Israels capital triggered widespread protests, with tens of thousands gathering across the region to show their anger. In the occupied West Bank, the Israeli military has used tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets to break up demonstrations. However, the sharpest escalation has been in the Gaza Strip.

[In Jerusalem, Trumps speech sparks scenes of joy, outrage]

Hamas, which controls Gaza, has called for a third intifada, or uprising, against Israel in wake of Trumps decision.

Hamas confirmed two of its members were killed in one of the early-morning airstrikes in Gaza. In a strike Saturday night that hit a military facility in a developed area, 15 people were injured, including a child, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

A day earlier, two protesters were shot dead near Gazas border fence with Israel during a day of rage against Trumps decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israels capital and move the U.S. embassy to the city. The Israeli military said it had shot toward dozens of instigators of riots, in which participants had rolled burning tires and thrown stones.

Hazim Qasem, a spokesman for Hamas, said Israel will suffer the consequences of the escalation, saying the death of the demonstrators and airstrikes come in the context ofongoing crimes against the people of Gaza. He accused the United States of giving Israelcover for these crimes.

Theuprising of Palestinians shows thatPalestinian people are ready to redeem Jerusalem with their blood, and their families will not surrender in their confrontation with the occupation, Qasem said.

Israel, citing security concerns, has imposed severe restrictions on the freedom of movement and import of goods into Gaza since Hamas took control of the enclave in 2007. Egypt has also rarely opened its border crossing with Gaza in recent years.

In East Jerusalem, clashes broke out after Israeli police attempted to break up a gathering of a few dozen chanting demonstrators on one of the main shopping streets, appearing provoked by the presence of Palestinian flags. Police used sound bombs and other crowd-control methods against Palestinian stone-throwers as the demonstration turned violent.

Four police officers were lightly injured, a police spokesman said. A Palestinian medic on the scene said eight people had been hurt, with two sent to hospital for treatment.

Protests were also reported in Arab communities inside Israel.

International criticism of Trumps decision has mounted, with the U.N. Security Council holding an emergency meeting Friday to discuss the issue at the request of eight of its 15 members. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley struck a defiant tone in the tense meeting, saying Trumps decision was taken to advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Palestinians and governments in the Middle East and Europe have said it does the opposite. Abbas said the United States can no longer be a broker of peace efforts, as the decision shows the White Houses bias toward Israel. Israel sees the whole of Jerusalem as its capital. The Palestinians, however, envisage the eastern part of the city, which Israel captured from Jordan in 1967 and annexed in a move seen as illegal by the United Nations, as the capital of their future state.

Morris reported from Jerusalem.

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Gaza death toll in U.S. embassy violence rises to 4 as Israel …

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January 22, 2018   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Gaza will soon collapse and only Tel Aviv is helping, Israeli …

The Gaza Strip, chafed and numbed by a decades-old Israeli-imposed blockade is on the verge of collapse, and it’s all Hamas’ fault, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin has said.

The time is coming near when the infrastructure in Gaza will collapse, leaving many civilians in distress, with no sanitary conditions, exposed to pollution, impure water and epidemics, Rivlin said Sunday as he toured the Gaza border region.

Israel is the only one in the region that, whatever the situation, transfers basic essentials to the residents of Gaza so that they can sustain body and mind, he said, as cited by Haaretz.

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Perhaps, it’s because aid from other sources has a hard time reaching Gaza, since Israel has repeatedly stopped donor-funded shipments and missions sometimes using force to do so. In the infamous 2010 Mavi Marmara raid, Israeli commandos intercepted the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” and killed nine activists. The subsequent international backlash forced Tel Aviv to relax the blockade somewhat.

Israel remains a key driver of Palestinian humanitarian suffering across occupied territories including the Gaza Strip, according to a recent report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). For instance, 97 percent of the water in Gaza is undrinkable with locals forced to pay six times the cost of ordinary water, it was reported Sunday. Gaza’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry recently said that 2017 was “the worst [year] economically” due to punitive measures imposed by Israel. Unemployment rates in the enclave climbed to 46.6 percent by the third quarter of 2017.

President Rivlin, however, points to Hamas as the source of Gaza’s suffering. Regrettably, Hamas has once again exploited the plight of the Gaza Strips civilians and is using materials meant to benefit the lives of the residents for terrorist purposes, he said.

Hamas remains “a terror organization” which seeks to destroy the State of Israel, Rivlin said, accusing the group of “developing terrorist bases in hospitals, in mosques, in schools,” to plan attacks against Israel.

“The State of Israels mission is not completed. We will fight the terrorist organization. An extremist, cruel, and murderous terrorist organization. A terror organization which does not spare a single thought for the future and welfare of the residents of Gaza, and for which a ‘reconciliation’ of one kind or another is only a step towards the advancement of war,” he said.

Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip in March 2007 triggered the land and sea blockade by Egypt and Israel, who cited security concerns. Despite some easing on embargo restrictions, some 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza remain locked in from the outside world.

Conditions in Gaza are likely to deteriorate further after Washington announced it’s withholding $65 million of a planned instalment of $125 million to the Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA. That decision followed Donald Trumps recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital on December 6, driving a stake through the heart of the two-state peace process which envisions East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state along 1967 borders.

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January 22, 2018   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Reconstructing Gaza – Donor Pledges – World Bank

The disbursement ratio is the ratio of the amount disbursed of the total support to Gaza. The disbursement of Support to Gaza does not necessarily reflect actual expenditures made on purchasing project-related goods and services but that donor funds have been made available for use by the relevant implementing agency. Disbursement Status by Donor of Support to Gaza pledged at Cairo Conference on Palestine “Reconstructing Gaza” in USD Million (As of July 31st, 2017) Donor Support to Gaza Qatar* 1000.00 216.06 Saudi Arabia* 500.00 107.80 European Union1 348.28 312.28 USA 277.00 277.00 Kuwait* 200.00 62.63 Turkey2 200.00 139.48 UAE 200.00 59.08 Norway3 144.98 173.91 European Investment Bank4 70.00 N/A Switzerland5 65.28 66.96 Germany 63.32 61.70 World Bank 62.00 62.00 Algeria* 61.40 61.40 Japan6 61.00 61.00 UK 32.16 32.16 Italy7 23.68 11.53 Spain 22.80 14.6 Sudan8 20.00 N/A The Netherlands 15.31 15.31 Canada 14.66 14.66 Denmark 14.46 14.46 Australia 13.18 13.18 France9 10.13 10.13 Sweden 10.00 11.37 Finland 9.31 9.31 Luxembourg 8.97 N/A Russia 8.74 8.74 Belgium10 7.92 7.92 Bahrain* 6.50 5.15 Austria11 5.22 5.22 India 4.00 4.00 Ireland 3.17

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February 19, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Kharita –

Kharita is a collaborative initiative of Lebanese, Palestinian and other activists.We produce and share advocacy maps on Middle East conflicts, particularly on Palestinian cause. Please feel free to use and distribute the maps widely, and send us your feedback and suggestions, on the blog on solidaritypalestine@gmail.com. By Matthew Cassel on JustImage.org. In Maroun al-Ras, the village where the protest was held, buses couldnt reach the top so protesters, young and old, were forced to walk up the mountain to reach the protest site. The body of Mohammed al-Fandi is carried up the mountain to Maroun al-Ras after he was killed by Israeli gunfire while protesting at the border fence in the valley below. Palestinian refugees further up the mountain, look on as others protest at the border fence in the valley below. > > See other images of March of Return. May 17, 2011 > > See the original web page .. .. .. !! .. ! . ! .. . The Guardian by Matthew CasselMay 16, 2011 > > See the original web page Lebanese soldiers patrol next to Palestinian refugees during demonstrations to mark the 63rd anniversary of Nakba Day at the Lebanese-Israeli border in Maroun al-Ras, 15 May 2011. Photograph: Hassan Bahsoun/EPA Climbing up the mountain to reach the Palestinian right-of-return protest in Maroun al-Ras in south Lebanon on Sunday felt a bit like being back in Tahrir Square. The thousands of mostly Palestinian refugees were smiling as they joked about the strenuous climb, and helped each other up the mountain to reach the site where they were going to stage their demonstration. Some knew it could even be dangerous, but that didnt matter as much as the rare opportunity to join together and call for their rights. The small elevated Lebanese village just overlooking the border with Israel became a massive parking lot as buses carrying Palestinian refugees and Lebanese from across Lebanon converged for a protest commemorating what Israeli historian Ilan Papp calls the ethnic cleansing by Zionist militias of more than 700,000 Palestinians from their lands and homes in 1948 what Palestinians refer to as the Nakba, or catastrophe. Large buses had difficulties reaching the top of the mountain, and rather than wait, protesters chose to make the half-mile climb by foot. Men and women, young and old, secular and religious, were all present. This was the first time in 63 years that Palestinian refugees would go to the border in their tens of thousands and call for their right to return home. For most, it was their first time even seeing the land that theyve grown up hearing described in precise detail through the popular stories of elders old enough to remember life in what is today considered Israel. (more) t notes May 17, 2011 > > See the original web page Ive been wearing a hanzala around my neck for about 8 years now. When asked about it, I like to end my explanation with: It became the symbol of the right to return for Palestinian refugees. Living in London and meeting people from all over the world, I got to explain my necklace so many times but I always find it weird when I have to explain it to a Lebanese. I become cynical and say something like: You know that there are Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon, right? On Sunday May 15, the day of the Nakba commemoration (some called it The Third Intifada), I really understood what it means to be a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon: to stand so close to home but never allowed an entry and to be shot at from inside and outside the border. The Palestinians are treated as second class citizen, they are considered a threat, a bunch of untrustworthy extremists, they are dehumanized because thats the only way their oppressors can justify their acts. (more) The army,the government and the factions canceled the 5 june march of return.But grassroots actions were prepared informally, and people are trying to go to the south presently.Follow the events in this twitter account: http://twitter.com/#!/ilaFalasteen The Human Province bySean May 16, 2011 > > See the original web page Yesterday, I spent the day at Maroun al-Ras on the Lebanese border with Israel. Before I get to some of the reactions Ive read about the event and some of the questions raised by it, Id like to discuss the event itself. Yesterday, Palestinians around the world commemorated the Nakba, which is the catastrophe of the dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians upon the creation of Israel. I left from the Mar Elias camp in Beirut in a bus that had been rented by a young Palestinian activist who teaches physical education in a Palestinian camp. The passengers were Palestinians with a mixture of Lebanese, Bahraini and European companions. Everyone pitched in for the bus, and despite some organizational troubles, we set off on Sunday morning for the border. (more) HUFFPOST WORLD By Sharmine Narwani Tuesday, 17 May 2011 > > See the original web page You know what scares Israel more than Arab armies or Iranian nukes? Palestinian refugees simply walking home. Seen on Twitter on Nakba Day Sunday marked the Nakba or day of catastrophe in Arabic referring to the 1948 declaration of Israel when more than 700,000 Palestinian civilians were made homeless overnight. In remembrance of the Nakba, last weekend thousands of Palestinians and their supporters marched from Syria (video), Gaza, Jordan, the West Bank, Egypt and Lebanon toward Israels borders, and were in most cases thwarted, sometimes violently, from reaching their destination by Arab security forces. (more)

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February 19, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

As Gaza deteriorates, Israel turns to world for help – ABC News

Four years ago, Israel inflicted heavy damage on Gaza’s infrastructure during a bruising 50-day war with Hamas militants. Now, fearing a humanitarian disaster on its doorstep, it’s appealing to the world to fund a series of big-ticket development projects in the war-battered strip. In a windfall, the wealthy Gulf Arab state of Qatar, a key donor, has become an unlikely partner in Israel’s quest, and has urged other nations to follow suit. But it remains unclear whether the rest of the international community is in a giving mood. Donors say that while there have been some successes with reconstruction since the 2014 war, Israeli bureaucracy and security reviews are still too slow and Israel’s ongoing blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza is stifling the broader goal of developing the territory’s devastated economy. “Israel now realizes the growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza and its impact on the population,” said the World Bank, which has helped oversee international reconstruction efforts. “Donors will be more encouraged to invest if the right conditions on the ground are put in place to allow sustainable growth.” Gaza, a tiny strip of land sandwiched between Israel and Egypt, has seen conditions steadily deteriorate since Hamas overran the territory in 2007 and took control from the internationally backed Palestinian Authority. Israel and Egypt clamped a blockade in an attempt to weaken Hamas, and Israel and Hamas have fought three wars. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, hoping to regain control, has stepped up pressure on Hamas by cutting salaries of civil servants and limiting electricity deliveries. The last war, in 2014, was especially devastating. Nearly 20,000 homes were destroyed, and over 150,000 others were damaged, according to U.N. figures. Hospitals, schools and infrastructure were also damaged. Following the war, international donors gathered in Cairo and came up with a $3.5 billion reconstruction plan. But only 53 percent of the promised money has been delivered, according to the World Bank, and Gaza’s economy is in shambles. Unemployment is over 40 percent, tap water is undrinkable and Gazans receive only a few hours of electricity a day. Signs of distress are visible throughout Gaza’s potholed streets. Young men sit idly in groups on sidewalks, shopkeepers kill time on their smartphones as they mind their empty shops and the smell of sewage from the Mediterranean often wafts through the air. Israel blames Hamas, a militant group sworn to its destruction, for the conditions. It says it has no choice but to maintain the blockade, which restricts imports and exports, because the group continues to plot ways to attack Israel. But fearing a humanitarian disaster that could spill over into violence, Israel has begun to soften its line, echoing warnings by international officials. “We are well beyond a humanitarian crisis, but on the verge of a total system failure in Gaza, with a full collapse of the economy and social services with political, humanitarian and security implications to match,” U.N. Mideast envoy Nickolay Mladenov said. Looking forward, Israel and the international community have different visions for how to fix the situation. On Jan. 31, Israeli Cabinet Minister Tzachi Hanegbi and Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who oversees Israeli civilian policies for Gaza, appealed to an emergency gathering of donor nations in Brussels to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars for long-delayed projects sought by the international community. According to a document obtained by The Associated Press, the Israeli list included a power line, natural gas line, desalination plant, industrial zone and sewage treatment facility. “Israel is ready to provide its technological skills and infrastructure to prevent a humanitarian disaster in Gaza, on the condition that the funds come from the international community and that we know that they will not go to strengthen Hamas,” Hanegbi told the Ynet news site. In a rare interview, Mohammed Al-Emadi, the head of Qatar’s Gaza reconstruction committee, urged other nations to support the effort. “We have to fund as soon as possible,” he told the AP. “When you want to do work in Gaza, you have to go through the Israelis.” Qatar, along with the United States and European Union, has been a leading donor to the “Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism,” a system set up after the 2014 war to rebuild the territory while avoiding contact with Hamas. Under the arrangement, the Palestinian Authority leads the projects, Israeli security officials review and approve them, while the U.N. monitors the delivery of goods to make sure that items like cement and metal pipes don’t reach Hamas. It relies on various tools, including authorized vendors, security cameras and spot inspections of construction sites. Israel considers the system to be a success, given the challenging circumstances. According to Israeli figures, nearly 90,000 homes have been rebuilt, while 380 large projects, such as hospitals, housing complexes and water treatment facilities, have been completed. Qatar has funded some of the most high-profile projects, including an $84 million highway running the 40-kilometer (25-mile) length of Gaza, a $114 million high-rise development in southern Gaza and a $17 million state-of-the-art rehabilitation hospital. Life-size pictures of Qatar’s former emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and his son, current emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, greet visitors at the hospital entrance. In Brussels, Jason Greenblatt, the White House Mideast envoy, also called for donors to “rededicate” themselves to investing in Gaza’s infrastructure. Other key donors, however, seem to be more hesitant. It appears unlikely they will open their wallets with internal Palestinian reconciliation at a standstill, the Trump administration unable to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and continued international frustration over Israel’s 11-year blockade of Gaza. U.S. cuts to UNRWA, the U.N. agency that assists more than half of Gaza’s population, have further complicated the situation. Illustrating the atmosphere, the new Qatari hospital overlooks a beach contaminated by untreated sewage water that pours into the sea due to power failures. Guri Solberg, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman for Norway, one of the sponsors of the Brussels meeting, said the gathering was meant to reiterate support for a two-state solution and to enable the Palestinian Authority to regain control of Gaza. It was “not a pledging conference,” she said, adding it was impossible to say whether countries are ready to pledge more funds. A “number of donors” expressed concerns over the cuts to UNRWA, she added. U.N. and World Bank officials say the reconstruction mechanism has worked well on routine projects but that Israeli bureaucracy and lengthy security reviews on complicated pieces of equipment have resulted in delays of up to six months. Rebhi Sheikh-Khalil, deputy head of the Palestinian Water Authority, said a one-year project to build the first phase of a desalination plant end up dragging on for three years. “This is due to the Israeli approvals that take a long time and so many procedures,” he said. In Brussels, the Israelis pledged to ease some restrictions to speed up construction a step welcomed by the World Bank. Mladenov, the U.N. envoy, said that for Gaza’s economy to truly recover, the world must focus on broader goals: enabling Abbas’ government to retake control, ending the Israeli blockade and halting Hamas’ militant activities. “This will fully enable the international community to support the economic and social revival of Gaza,” he said. Associated Press writer Fares Akram in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, contributed to this report.

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February 15, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Gaza humanitarian crisis actually a ‘hoax,’ experts maintain

Expert observers of the current situation in Gaza are challenging the assertion by the IDF Chief of Staff who said that Israel could soon face another war with Gaza-based terror group Hamas as a result of humanitarian and economic conditions. By: Steve Leibowitz, World Israel News The world press is filled with stories of an alleged humanitarian crisis underway in the Gaza Strip. IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot gave credence to the stories this week when he told the cabinet that Israel could face another war with Hamas in Gaza as a result of the deteriorating humanitarian and economic conditions in the coastal enclave. Eisenkot cited the lack of electricity, drinkable water, and food in the Gaza Strip, and advocated stepping up aid to the territory. His logic is that an economic collapse would make a war scenario inevitable. As a result of Eisenkots view as well as that of other top security officials, Israel is for the first time weighing the idea of sending food and medicine to the Gaza Strip, and thereby prevent the deteriorating conditions from spiraling into violence, World Israel News (WIN) spoke to several expert observers, and could not find one that agreed with Eisenkots assessment or his conclusions. Prof. Hillel Frisch from Bar Ilan Universitys Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies has conducted extensive research on the economic situation in Gaza. Frisch told WIN, I cannot understand how Eisenkot and the IDF reached their conclusion. I understand why Hamas says there is a humanitarian crisis. They have been plundering the aid money for years. They tax every aid truck entering the enclave. I understand Israeli industrialists including Osem and Strauss who make money selling food to Gaza. I even understand local Israeli mayors whose residents are employed to bring the aid to the Gaza crossings. We know that it requires only 50 trucks daily to stave off a real humanitarian crisis. There is no crisis. There has been an economic deterioration caused by Hamas greed and mismanagement but nowhere near a humanitarian crisis. I also reject these notions of allowing Gazan workers to enter Israel to generate income or having Israel build Gaza an island port off the coast. Ashdod port is only an hour away. Lack of a port is not the reason for economic problems in Gaza, said Frisch According to Frisch, Hamas is deterred with each round of fighting they are concerned about the pain Israel can inflict upon them. Its almost embarrassingly simple. The IDF wants to avoid another round of fighting by giving aid. That kind of thinking is not in Israels interest, Frisch said. Dr. Mordechai Kedar from Bar Ilan University told WIN, Gaza is in dire straits because the Hamas government could not care less about the people and cares only about those on its own payroll like security forces and teachers, Hamas spends on missiles and terror tunnels rather than on projects to make life better for the people. They rely on Israel and all the rest of the aid givers who take care of their poor people so that they can spend on their own interests. The so-called humanitarian crisis is exaggerated. What is true is that there is no hope and no future in Gaza with Hamas running things. They have no idea how to run a state. They are a Jihadi terror group controlling a territory and its people. David Bedein, Head of the Center for Near East Policy Research has closely monitored aid to Gaza. Bedein told WIN, thirty nations are giving food aid to the Gaza residents through United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) on a regular basis. All of the supplies go through Hamas. Gazans tell me that the supplies arrive at Hamas controlled warehouses, but they are not distributed. Eighty-one percent of the Gaza, population live in UNRWA camps but they are not receiving the aid that was sent. Donor countries are being duped. There is a total lack of supervision. If there is a humanitarian issue its of Hamas doing. In an article Prof. Frisch published in the Jerusalem Post this week, he commented, The most important factor behind real humanitarian crises the specter of mass hunger and contagious disease is first and foremost the breakdown of law and order, and violence between warring militias and gangs. This was the story of Darfur, Somalia, the Central African Republic. In such a situation, the first to leave are the relief agencies, then, the local medical staffs, local government officials and anyone professional who can make it out of the bedlam, leaving the destitute to fend for themselves. Nothing could be farther from such a reality than Gaza. Similarly, there is not one news item announcing the departure of a single foreign relief agency or its workers, the closure of one human rights organization in the area. Nowhere is there any evidence that the World Health Organization, which rigorously monitors the world to prevent the outbreak of contagious disease, is seriously looking at Gaza, Frisch wrote. GazaHamasMordechai KedarUNRWA

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February 8, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Does Israel have a moral obligation to prevent Gaza’s …

A GIRL WALKS by the remains of a house in the northern Gaza Strip that was destroyed during Operation Protective Edge..(photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS) There are numerous indicators that the situation in the Gaza Strip has gone from bad to worse. And this has direct implications for Israel. The likelihood of another war with Hamas-controlled Gaza has increased; environmental dangers such as sewage and diseases have become more acute; and Israels moral obligation as a neighboring country with the ability to help has become more pressing. It is difficult to say which of the many crises facing Gazans is the most severe. But it seems that much of the problem stems from the lack of a steady supply of electricity. Sewage treatment plants cannot be operated and large-scale desalination is impossible. Over-pumping of aquifers has resulted in seepage of seawater into the groundwater. Ahmed al-Yaqoubi, a hydrologist who is an adviser to the Palestinian Water Authority, told the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies last month that almost 90% of the drinking water in Gaza exceeds the maximum salinity standard of the World Health Organization. Untreated sewage causes sickness and even deaths inside Gaza, and the backflow into the Mediterranean regularly pollutes the beaches of Ashkelon and Ashdod. The lack of a reliable electricity supply means that hospitals are unable to provide adequate treatment and industry is crippled. This leads in turn to lower productivity, further deterioration of the economy, lower purchasing power, and fewer goods shipped into Gaza. Unemployment is estimated to be around 50%; the number of commercial trucks passing through the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza has dropped from over 1,000 to about 350 per day. It is widely recognized that Hamas, a party that has enjoyed wide popularity among Palestinians at least since 2006 when it won a plurality of the vote in the Palestinians last national elections, is to blame for the situation in Gaza. Hamass refusal to adopt a more pragmatic approach to politics has resulted in both Egypt and Israel imposing a blockade on its borders. Egypt has blamed Hamas for aiding Islamists operating in Sinai who have killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers. And Hamas remains committed to the destruction of Israel. Much of Gazas limited resources materials, know-how, manpower have been channeled into building attack tunnels and developing weapons. Hamas has proved to be completely incompetent at caring for the two million Palestinians living in the Strip, despite extensive humanitarian aid. And it has refused to give up its military control over Gaza, thus blocking any possibility of reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority. Still, neither Israel nor Egypt has an interest in seeing the situation in Gaza deteriorate to the point of a total breakdown, even if this were to lead to the demise of Hamas. The collapse of Gazan society would increase the likelihood of another war with Hamas; but it would also be a humanitarian disaster which the world, including Israel, has a moral obligation to help prevent. Complicating the situation further are the conflicting messages being sent out from the security establishment. While the IDF has warned that Gaza is on the verge of a humanitarian crisis, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has rejected this prognosis, saying on Monday that the situation in Gaza is difficult but there is no humanitarian crisis. There are a number of steps that Israel could and should take to alleviate the suffering. Hooking up Gazas US-funded sewage treatment project to electricity is one thing. Another positive step would be to help build and operate a desalination plant. Laying a new high-voltage line and even building a Gaza harbor are additional ideas. However, as long as Hamas cleaves to its Islamist ideology and rejects any form of cooperation or recognition of Israel, it is difficult to envision any of this happening. We wonder whether the essence of Palestinian identity precludes the possibility of a change in political leadership. Does the historical narrative that Palestinians tell themselves, their fixation on supposed Israeli injustices, their strong sense of victimhood, make it impossible for a more pragmatic Palestinian political leadership to take over from Hamas and Fatah? But maybe it is possible for a dynamic, less dogmatic and more positive political leadership to change direction and start focusing efforts on building a viable state for the Palestinian people that fosters peace at home and with its neighbors. They can start with Gaza. Share on facebook

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February 8, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Israel Presents $1 Billion Rehabilitation Plan for Gaza, but …

Home > Israel News The EU announced its own plan at the emergency meeting on Gaza, presenting a $53 million fund to ‘preserve the Palestinian character’ of E. Jerusalem and a future Palestinian state ‘ + ‘ Thank you for subscribing’ + ‘ ‘ + ‘ Error on Subscription, try later’ + ‘

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January 31, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Israel Speeds Up Underground Border Wall To Block Gaza …

The Israeli military is working on a 40-mile wall that will run the length of the nation’s border with the Gaza Strip to counter tunnels dug by Palestinian militants. Daniel Estrin/NPR hide caption The Israeli military is working on a 40-mile wall that will run the length of the nation’s border with the Gaza Strip to counter tunnels dug by Palestinian militants. The Israeli military is speeding up construction of its first underground border wall. The 40-mile-long wall will run the length of Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip to counter tunnels that Palestinian militants have dug into Israeli territory. Dozens of tunnels, reportedly running dozens of miles long, have been constructed in attempts to infiltrate Israeli territory and carry out attacks, according to the Israeli military. “This is now a significant game changer,” said Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus. Work on the “obstacle,” as the military dubs it, began last summer. About 2.5 miles are already complete. Now the military says it is accelerating construction, working 24 hours a day, six days a week breaking only for the Sabbath to complete the wall by mid-2019. How deep underground the wall will go is being kept secret. “It’s deep enough,” said a senior Israeli military official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity according to army protocol. On a media tour last week, soldiers drove reporters in armored vehicles along the length of the Israel-Gaza border, which has been transformed into a large construction site. Cranes, concrete production stations, rebar and dirt mounds litter the area. The construction is being carried out by Israelis and workers from Russia, India, Brazil and elsewhere. Observation posts manned by the Islamist militant group Hamas sit just across the border. The tunnel barrier is being built the same way one would construct walls for an underground parking lot, the senior military official said. Workers drill long slits into the ground and fill them with fluid bentonite to temporarily block the space. They lower 80-foot-long rebar braces, several of them welded together, into the ground, pump the bentonite out and replace it with concrete. Israel said said it has discovered and destroyed more than 30 tunnels that militants dug from the Gaza Strip. The new underground wall is meant to thwart future tunnels and existing tunnels Israel has yet to find. Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images hide caption Israel said said it has discovered and destroyed more than 30 tunnels that militants dug from the Gaza Strip. The new underground wall is meant to thwart future tunnels and existing tunnels Israel has yet to find. On top of the underground barrier, Israel is also building an aboveground border fence. The government is installing sensor technology to detect when militants are tunneling close to the border, the military says. Countering attacks from Gaza The tunnel blockage is Israel’s latest effort to thwart attacks from Gaza, a territory controlled by Hamas. In earlier countermeasures, Israel focused on the skies. In response to rocket fire, Israel developed the Iron Dome missile defense system, which can intercept rockets midair before they hit Israeli territory. Then, in a 2014 war, Israel encountered a different threat, below the ground. Hamas militants popped out of tunnels stretching from Gaza to Israel and attacked soldiers along the border. After the war, Israel destroyed 32 tunnels it found along the border. In recent months, Israel said it discovered and destroyed three new tunnels that crossed into Israeli territory. The new underground wall is meant to thwart future tunnels and existing tunnels Israel has yet to find. Egypt’s wall attempt Israel’s measures aren’t the first attempt to wall off Gaza tunnels. There has been a U.S.-funded effort by Egypt to block tunnels used for smuggling goods, people and weapons on Gaza’s border with Egypt. But Palestinian smugglers have continued to breach the barriers. On the media tour, reporters walked single file into a tunnel detected and destroyed in October, which the army said was built by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group. The dark, narrow shaft has a low, arched concrete roof and is walled with concrete slabs. Several militants inside the tunnel were killed when Israel destroyed it. Hamas and Islamic Jihad employ thousands of people working round-the-clock shifts digging tunnels inside Gaza itself, the Israeli army claimed. “It’s like an underground city,” the senior military official said. He showed reporters an aerial map of Gaza with a maze of zigzagging, vein-like lines representing tunnels. He declined to say how many tunnels exist. Hamas acknowledges it has dug tunnels. Its spokesman, Abed Lateef Kanoo, said the group will not be deterred by Israel’s anti-tunnel measures. “Destroying tunnels will never buy security” for Israel, the spokesman said. “Our resistance is developing all the time.” Indeed, the Israeli military says Hamas is training land and sea forces, arming itself with drones and looking to improve its missiles. Abu Bakr Bashir contributed to this report from Gaza.

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January 25, 2018   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Gaza death toll in U.S. embassy violence rises to 4 as Israel …

GAZA CITY Two Hamas militants were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza on Saturday after rocket fire from the enclave hit an Israeli town, as the death toll in violence linked to President Trumps decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israels capital rose to four. The Israeli military said it had responded to rocket fire by striking four facilities belonging to Hamas in the Gaza Strip: two weapons manufacturing sites, a weapons warehouse and a military compound. It called the rockets fired at Israel one of them hitting the town of Sderot, with no casualties reported asevere act of aggression. Violent confrontations were reported elsewhere Saturday but were less widespread than a day earlier. Riots had broken out in about 20 locations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the army said. About 450 protesters burned tires and threw rocks along the Gaza border fence, while 600 took part in unrest in the West Bank, it said. The diplomatic fallout also continued, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas canceling a planned meeting with Vice President Pence when he visits later this month, according to an aide cited by Israeli media. Egypts Coptic Church said on Saturday that its pope had also canceled his meeting with Pence when he travels on to Cairo. It said the U.S. decision did not take into account the feelings of millions of Arab people. The White House announcement Wednesday recognizing Jerusalem as Israels capital triggered widespread protests, with tens of thousands gathering across the region to show their anger. In the occupied West Bank, the Israeli military has used tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets to break up demonstrations. However, the sharpest escalation has been in the Gaza Strip. [In Jerusalem, Trumps speech sparks scenes of joy, outrage] Hamas, which controls Gaza, has called for a third intifada, or uprising, against Israel in wake of Trumps decision. Hamas confirmed two of its members were killed in one of the early-morning airstrikes in Gaza. In a strike Saturday night that hit a military facility in a developed area, 15 people were injured, including a child, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. A day earlier, two protesters were shot dead near Gazas border fence with Israel during a day of rage against Trumps decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israels capital and move the U.S. embassy to the city. The Israeli military said it had shot toward dozens of instigators of riots, in which participants had rolled burning tires and thrown stones. Hazim Qasem, a spokesman for Hamas, said Israel will suffer the consequences of the escalation, saying the death of the demonstrators and airstrikes come in the context ofongoing crimes against the people of Gaza. He accused the United States of giving Israelcover for these crimes. Theuprising of Palestinians shows thatPalestinian people are ready to redeem Jerusalem with their blood, and their families will not surrender in their confrontation with the occupation, Qasem said. Israel, citing security concerns, has imposed severe restrictions on the freedom of movement and import of goods into Gaza since Hamas took control of the enclave in 2007. Egypt has also rarely opened its border crossing with Gaza in recent years. In East Jerusalem, clashes broke out after Israeli police attempted to break up a gathering of a few dozen chanting demonstrators on one of the main shopping streets, appearing provoked by the presence of Palestinian flags. Police used sound bombs and other crowd-control methods against Palestinian stone-throwers as the demonstration turned violent. Four police officers were lightly injured, a police spokesman said. A Palestinian medic on the scene said eight people had been hurt, with two sent to hospital for treatment. Protests were also reported in Arab communities inside Israel. International criticism of Trumps decision has mounted, with the U.N. Security Council holding an emergency meeting Friday to discuss the issue at the request of eight of its 15 members. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley struck a defiant tone in the tense meeting, saying Trumps decision was taken to advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Palestinians and governments in the Middle East and Europe have said it does the opposite. Abbas said the United States can no longer be a broker of peace efforts, as the decision shows the White Houses bias toward Israel. Israel sees the whole of Jerusalem as its capital. The Palestinians, however, envisage the eastern part of the city, which Israel captured from Jordan in 1967 and annexed in a move seen as illegal by the United Nations, as the capital of their future state. Morris reported from Jerusalem. Read more Trump had for months been determined to move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem Friends and foes of the U.S. denounce Trumps Jerusalem move U.S. Embassys move to Jerusalem should take at least two years, Tillerson says Todays coverage from Post correspondents around the world Like Washington Post World on Facebook and stay updated on foreign news

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January 22, 2018   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Gaza will soon collapse and only Tel Aviv is helping, Israeli …

The Gaza Strip, chafed and numbed by a decades-old Israeli-imposed blockade is on the verge of collapse, and it’s all Hamas’ fault, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin has said. The time is coming near when the infrastructure in Gaza will collapse, leaving many civilians in distress, with no sanitary conditions, exposed to pollution, impure water and epidemics, Rivlin said Sunday as he toured the Gaza border region. Israel is the only one in the region that, whatever the situation, transfers basic essentials to the residents of Gaza so that they can sustain body and mind, he said, as cited by Haaretz. Read more Perhaps, it’s because aid from other sources has a hard time reaching Gaza, since Israel has repeatedly stopped donor-funded shipments and missions sometimes using force to do so. In the infamous 2010 Mavi Marmara raid, Israeli commandos intercepted the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” and killed nine activists. The subsequent international backlash forced Tel Aviv to relax the blockade somewhat. Israel remains a key driver of Palestinian humanitarian suffering across occupied territories including the Gaza Strip, according to a recent report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). For instance, 97 percent of the water in Gaza is undrinkable with locals forced to pay six times the cost of ordinary water, it was reported Sunday. Gaza’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry recently said that 2017 was “the worst [year] economically” due to punitive measures imposed by Israel. Unemployment rates in the enclave climbed to 46.6 percent by the third quarter of 2017. President Rivlin, however, points to Hamas as the source of Gaza’s suffering. Regrettably, Hamas has once again exploited the plight of the Gaza Strips civilians and is using materials meant to benefit the lives of the residents for terrorist purposes, he said. Hamas remains “a terror organization” which seeks to destroy the State of Israel, Rivlin said, accusing the group of “developing terrorist bases in hospitals, in mosques, in schools,” to plan attacks against Israel. “The State of Israels mission is not completed. We will fight the terrorist organization. An extremist, cruel, and murderous terrorist organization. A terror organization which does not spare a single thought for the future and welfare of the residents of Gaza, and for which a ‘reconciliation’ of one kind or another is only a step towards the advancement of war,” he said. Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip in March 2007 triggered the land and sea blockade by Egypt and Israel, who cited security concerns. Despite some easing on embargo restrictions, some 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza remain locked in from the outside world. Conditions in Gaza are likely to deteriorate further after Washington announced it’s withholding $65 million of a planned instalment of $125 million to the Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA. That decision followed Donald Trumps recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital on December 6, driving a stake through the heart of the two-state peace process which envisions East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state along 1967 borders.

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January 22, 2018   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed


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