Archive for December 16th, 2011

Palestine Muslim Brotherhood founder dead at 91

Friday 16/12/2012

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Sheikh Asaad Hasniyeh, one of the founders of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, died in Gaza on Friday. He was 91.

Hasniyeh was considered one of the leading members of the Brotherhood in the coastal strip, and established the Islamic society in Gaza City.

Source: Ma’an News Agency.

40,000 govt employees to receive salaries in Gaza

Thursday 15/12/2011

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The finance ministry in Gaza will pay salaries on Thursday to its 40,000 employees for the months of October and November, the deputy minister Ismail Mahfouz said.

The salaries are for employees whose monthly income is less than 1,500 shekels. The rest of the salaries will be paid by the end of the week, he announced.

The government’s current budget is 77 million shekels per month.

Source: Ma’an News Agency.

Official: 6 fruit, vegetable trucks leave Gaza for export

Thursday 15/12/2011

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — One truckload of tomatoes and bell peppers, and five trucks carrying strawberries, crossed out of the Gaza Strip for export abroad on Thursday, crossings officials said.

Palestinian liaison official Raed Fattouh said that Israel opened the sole functioning Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Gaza to allow the small convoy through, as part of an agreement to with the Dutch government to permit limited exports from the blockaded strip.

The Israeli legal rights organization Gisha says the winter export deal allows just 1 percent of the 400 export trucks a day Israel agreed to permit under a 2005 deal with the Palestinian Authority.

Israel tightened a land and sea blockade on Gaza in 2007 after Hamas took control of the coastal strip, restricting the movement of goods and the 1.7 million residents out of the 360 square kilometer territory.

Limited imports into Gaza were straitjacketed by the closure of three terminals equipped for fuel and goods transfers since 2008, and a ban on local construction materials.

Exports from Gaza producers are blocked by Israeli authorities, bar the irregular Dutch-sponsored vegetable and fruit convoys.

“Since all exports from Gaza to Europe via Israel undergo comprehensive security checks and meet all required standards, it is hard to imagine any security rationale behind the ban,” Gisha says.

Source: Ma’an News Agency.

Bodyguard of Palestinian commander ‘killed in Lebanon’

Thursday 15/12/2011

BEIRUT (Ma’an) — The bodyguard of a top Palestinian commander was shot dead on Wednesday in a refugee camp in southern Lebanon, a local official told Lebanese media.

“At around 10:00 p.m., a masked gunman shot and killed Ashraf Qadiri at his shop here in the Ain al-Hilweh camp,” Munir Maqdah, in charge of security at the camp near Saida, told Now Lebanon.

Qadiri was a bodyguard for Mohammed Abdel Hamid Issa, alias “Al-Lino,” the head of Palestinian party Fatah’s police force in Ain al-Hilweh, according to the Beirut-based news site.

The shooting was the second such incident targeting one of Issa’s bodyguards, Now said.

Source: Ma’an News Agency.

Gaza official: 6 women, 55 children set for release

Friday 16/12/2011

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Six women and 55 children are among the detainees due to be released in days in a prisoner exchange deal with Israel, a Gaza prisoners’ official said on Thursday.

Riyad al-Ashqar, media director in Gaza’s Ministry of Prisoners, said of the 550 expected to be freed this week, 506 are from the West Bank, 40 are from Gaza, and two are from Jerusalem.

Two Jordanian nationals, Saleh Aref and Wael Hurani, will also be freed, he said.

The six women to be released is just a portion of the 11 females detainees currently imprisoned by Israel, al-Ashqar said. Fifty-five under-18s are due for release, out of 164 Palestinian children in Israeli jails, according to recent figures from the UN agency UNICEF.

Israel released 477 prisoners on Oct. 18 — including 27 women — and agreed to free an additional 550 detainees within two months in a captive exchange deal with Hamas to secure the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Wednesday that the remaining prisoners would be freed on Sunday if the Supreme Court rejected any petitions against the release.

A partial list of those slated for release was published by the Palestinian Prisoners society on Wednesday.

Al-Ashqar said 113 of the to-be released prisoners were detained in 2011 and 109 in 2010, and the longest sentence amongst the group is 18 years.

The detainees official said 4,500 Palestinians remain imprisoned by Israel and called on Palestinian factions to intensify their efforts for the release of all detainees.

Source: Ma’an News Agency.

Israel forms special ops command

Thursday 15/12/2011

JERUSALEM (Reuters) — Israel said on Thursday it was unifying its special forces under one command, a move experts say could help Israel strike countries like Iran, whose nuclear program the country deems a threat to its existence.

“The primary task of the Corps will be to extend joint IDF (Israeli army) operations into the strategic depth,” said a statement from the military, announcing the formation of the “Depth Corps.”

Citing interviews with senior Israeli officers, American journal Defense News said the Corps commandos would be able to operate “far from Israel’s borders” in the “third circle” — a term that generally applies to the Gulf and the Horn of Africa.

Israeli media predicted that the Depth Corps might operate inside Iran, which a UN nuclear watchdog report last month said appeared to be working on designing a nuclear weapon.

That finding has ratcheted up tension between Iran and Western powers and Israel. Diplomatic sources said on Wednesday Iran could soon begin sensitive atomic activities in an underground facility deep inside a mountain.

Iran, which denies seeking the bomb, has lost several nuclear scientists and military brass to assassinations, suspected defections and explosions, feeding speculation that Israel and Western allies are already waging sabotage campaigns.

Elite ground, air and naval units would all retain their unique capabilities, Defense News reported, but the new structure would encourage them to more closely collaborate in mission planning.

Source: Ma’an News Agency.

Officials plan water plant to end crisis

Thursday 15/12/2011

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Water Authority is working to establish a major desalination plant by the Dead Sea, its chief has revealed.

The plan is designed to help ease the water crisis in the West Bank and Gaza by providing an extra 100 million cubic meters of water, Shaddad al-Attili said.

However it will stand or fall on the approval of a joint Israeli-Palestinian committee, he told Ma’an after attending a water conference in Israel organized by Friends of the Earth Middle East.

The water agency is hamstrung by the requirement set in the Oslo Accords that all projects go through the Joint Water Committee, in which Israel can veto any plans, he said.

Water is one of the six final status issues outlined in the 1993 accords to be resolved in a peace treaty with Israel, alongside borders, refugees, settlements, Jerusalem and security.

The Israeli-Palestinian JWC differs from other such committees in that it does not address shared water resources, but just the division of Palestinian resources in the West Bank.

Water crisis

Al-Attili said Palestine’s share of water has not changed in the near 20 years since the accords established the committee, despite high population growth.

“Israel is controlling 93 percent of the water in the region while Palestinians have only seven percent,” he said.

Al-Attili said that by the year 2000, Palestine should be using 200 million cubic meters of water per year, but 2010 water authority data shows Palestinians can access only 96 million cubic meters.

“We pay for drinking water. Water in Gaza is undrinkable because it’s salty and contaminated,” he said.

“When Gazans take showers they are soaked with salt and children’s skin has turned to blue due to chemicals,” Al-Attili added, without elaborating on the condition.

Control of resources

Al-Attili said Israel’s expansion of settlements, which monopolize the West Bank’s water supply, and Israel’s vetoes on Palestinian water projects contribute to the water crisis.

Israel’s military control over 60 percent of the West Bank, which prevents Palestinians from accessing rivers, springs and wells, exacerbates the problem, Al-Attili said.

Meanwhile, Israel has drilled deeper into West Bank aquifers than the shallow wells drilled by Palestinians before Israel’s occupation, draining much of the Palestinians’ water supply.

Al-Attili said the PA had a workable solution to the water crisis, in line with international law, under which Israel could build its own desalination plants to compensate for water supplies returned to Palestinians.

The authority is also working on plans to transfer water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, which would replenish the Dead Sea as well as providing water for desalination.

He urged Israeli officials to discuss a solution to the crisis, based on the two-state model, adding that a Palestinian state could not be established without a solution to the division of water resources.

“We are looking for a solution to the conflict. No one wants this conflict,” Al-Attili said.

“Having a clean water is a basic right, but this right is taken from us. Can Israel accept that its neighbors have no water?”

Source: Ma’an News Agency.