:icon_sadangel2: Palestine Peace a dream?

Discussion in 'Freedom Castle' started by Shades, Nov 12, 2008.

  1. Shades

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    Israeli Authorities Blackmail Palestinian Patients Date : 11/11/2008 Time : 17:13

    GAZA, November 11, 2008 (WAFA)- Al-Meezan Human Rights Center denounced, Tuesday, the blackmailing policy followed by the Israeli Authorities, to make Palestinian patients in the Gaza Strip collaborate with them, in exchange for permissions to receive medical treatment outside the Strip.

    The center said in a statement issued, Tuesday, that Khaled Abu Shmaleh 38, died because he was not allowed to exit the Gaza Strip for treatment after having refused to collaborate.

    The center explained that this is not the only case of this kind, and demanded the international community to be up to their responsibility towards Palestinian citizens, and to help end the siege on the Gaza Strip.

    The center pointed that more than thirty Palestinian patients were not allowed to exit the Strip because they refused to provide information about Palestinians to the Israeli Authorities.
  2. Shades

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    GAZA CITY: The Gaza Strip was hit by major power cuts late yesterday, threatening a blackout throughout the territory within 24 hours, Palestinian officials said.

    “More than 30 percent of the electricity supply in the Gaza Strip could not be guaranteed this evening,” Jamal Al-Kudari, head of a committee campaigning to end Israeli sanctions, told AFP.

    “The town is at risk of being left completely without electricity within 24 hours because our fuel reserves are on the verge of being exhausted,” he said.

    Kaalan Obeid, vice-chairman of Gaza’s energy authority, said: “We have reduced power supply by 33 percent this evening and, in the absence of fuel, electricity will be cut off completely in the whole region” from 1600 GMT today. An Israeli army spokesman said “all crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip were closed yesterday following Palestinian firing of rockets toward the south of Israel.” Peter Lerner, coordinator of Israeli activities in the Palestinian territories, said: “We received a request (from the Palestinians) for deliveries of fuel to resume and we forwarded the request to the defense ministry” in Tel Aviv.

    Most of the fuel and gas supplies needed by the Gaza Strip usually goes through the Nahal Oz terminal between Israel and the Palestinian territory.

    A flare-up of violence last week has threatened a truce brokered by Egypt in June between Israel and Hamas which controls the impoverished Gaza Strip.

    — With input from agencies
  3. Shades

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    UN warns over Gaza food blockade
    Palestinian worker carries a bag of flour at a UN food aid distribution centre in the Shati refugee camp near Gaza City (10 November 2008)
    Unwra warned said its food distribution operations would end on Thursday

    The UN in the Gaza Strip says it will run out of food aid in two days unless Israel's blockade - which it describes as "shameful and unacceptable" - eases.

    The UN refugee agency Unwra, which distributes food to half of Gaza's 1,5m people, called the blockade "a physical as well as a mental punishment".

    Israel is now allowing a limited amount of fuel across the border, but it is still blocking food deliveries.

    It says it tightened sanctions because of rocket attacks by militants.

    The Islamist group Hamas, which controls Gaza, said the rockets were a response to an Israeli raid that killed six gunmen on 4 November.

    Gaza's only power plant was closed on Monday, after Israel stopped fuel deliveries.

    Aid agencies estimate the new deliveries of fuel will run out within a day-and-a-half.
  4. Shades

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    Fawzia al-Kurd, 52, raises her black cloak to show the bottoms of the pyjamas she is still wearing several days after she and her wheelchair-bound husband were forced from the home he had lived for five decades.

    She had no time to change or gather her possessions when the Israeli police arrived in the early hours of Sunday morning.

    In borrowed shoes, she shows us around the tent that she now calls home near the single-storey, two room house in East Jerusalem.

    Jewish Israelis who had already moved into the extension the Kurd family had built for their son, have now taken over the rest of the flat.

    'Never forgive'

    Mohammad al-Kurd, 55, who is partially paralysed and suffers from heart and kidney problems, diabetes and high blood pressure, is now staying with relatives.

    He had lived in the house for 52 years when the Israeli Supreme Court served an eviction order on him in July.

    "I will never forgive the Israelis for what they have done to me and my sick husband, kicking us out of our own house in the early hours of the morning. I may forgive other things they have done, but not this," said Mrs Kurd.

    Israeli flags on house in Shimon Hatzadik/Sheikh Jarrah
    The Jewish-occupied houses are adorned with Israeli flags

    The eviction is the culmination of a decades-long legal dispute between the Kurd family and organisations seeking to boost Jewish residency in the Israeli-occupied east of the city.

    The case, followed closely by international activists, goes to the heart of one of the most hotly-contested issues in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks - the status of Jerusalem.

    Palestinians fear an Israeli drive to create "facts on the ground" in the part of the city where Palestinians are the majority and want to locate the capital of a future state.

    Israel considers all of Jerusalem its capital and has annexed to the east of the city and extended its municipal boundaries into the West Bank.

    But the international community sees it as occupied, along with the West Bank, since the 1967 Israeli-Arab war.

    The few houses draped in blue and white Israeli flags with their own armed guards, amid a cluster of cream stone, Arab-style properties are therefore considered illegal settlements under international law.

    Their inhabitants will not speak to the media.

    'Not forced out'

    But Daniel Luria of Ateret Cohanim, an organisation which promotes Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem says "nobody's forcing anyone out - the courts ruled they [the Kurds] were living there illegally".

    Front door of original house and extension built by Kurd family (Image: ISM)
    The Kurds' lived metres from the Jewish settlers who moved into the extension (Image: ISM)

    The Kurd family were among some 700,000 Arabs who fled or were forced from their homes in what is now Israel during the 1948 war that followed the creation of Israel.

    Jordan, which controlled the West Bank and East Jerusalem after the war, and the UN housed them and several other families on the plot of land.

    But after 1967, a Jewish association laid claim to it in the courts on the basis of Ottoman-era documents.

    An Israeli lawyer working for the Kurd family agreed to relinquish their ownership claim to the land in exchange for "protected tenancy status".

    The family maintain they were unaware he was doing this and fired him as soon as they found out.

    July's court ruling followed a labyrinthine legal battle, but was apparently based on the Kurd family's refusal to pay rent to a trust fund established in case the Jewish claim was finally validated.
  5. Shades

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    Blockaded Gaza 'faces disaster'
    Israeli troops remove Palestinian rocket
    Israel has blamed rocket attacks by militants for the blockade

    The UK-based aid agency Oxfam has warned of catastrophe for Gaza and nearby areas of Israel if a truce agreed last June is not maintained.

    Oxfam called on world leaders to do everything they could to break Israel's blockade of Gaza and urged Israel to resume supplies without delay.

    Israel has shut border crossings in response to rocket attacks from Palestinian militants in Gaza.

    Earlier Israel fired missiles at targets in northern Gaza.

    Two Palestinian militants were injured in the attacks, while one Israeli was injured in militant attacks on the town of Sderot.

    Palestinian rockets also hit near the Israeli town of Ashkelon, 15km (nine miles) from Gaza. No injuries were reported.

    'Peace endangered'

    Oxfam said both sides would suffer if fighting continued.

    "If Israelis and Palestinians alike don't exert every effort now to maintain the truce which has held since last June, the result could be catastrophic for civilians both in Gaza and in nearby Israeli towns," the agency's executive director, Jeremy Hobbs, said in a statement.


    Gaza map

    Gaza shut to fuel and journalists
    Guide: Gaza blockade
    He said Gazans had been routinely denied unhindered access to fuel, medicines and essential goods for the last year-and-a-half.

    "Failure of the international community to act decisively will only exacerbate human suffering and could further endanger chances for peace," Mr Hobbs added.

    On Thursday, UN officials said aid for 750,000 Gazans would have to be suspended until Saturday at the earliest.

    Israel earlier denied entry to a convoy carrying humanitarian supplies. It has prevented the transfer of all goods into Gaza for nearly a week, blaming continuing rocket attacks by Palestinian militants.

    The current round of clashes and rocket fire began on 5 November when Israeli troops entered Gaza to destroy what Israel said was a tunnel dug by militants to abduct its troops.

    Hamas responded with a barrage of rockets fired into Israel. There has been intermittent rocket fire since.

    A truce between the two sides declared on 19 June had largely held. Both sides have accused the other of violating the truce, but maintain that they remain committed to it.
  6. Shades

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    The United Nations is forced to suspend food distribution in the Gaza Strip as Israel has kept border crossings with the Strip closed.

    "They have told us the crossings are closed today. At the end of today we will suspend our food distribution," UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) spokesman Chris Gunness was quoted by AFP as saying.

    "Our warehouses are effectively empty," Gunness said adding that "Pushing people to the brink of desperation every few months and forcing UNRWA into yet another cycle of crisis management is not in the interest of anyone who believes in peace, moderation and stability."

    The regime has kept its border crossings with the coastal strip closed over the past week in response to what it called 'rocket attacks by Palestinian groups'.

    It also cut off European Union-funded fuel supplies to Gaza's sole power plant on Thursday, prompting it to close down for want of diesel.

    "It is completely shut down," Palestinian Energy Authority official Qanaan Obeid told AFP.

    The plant, which provides between a quarter and a third of Gaza's power, shut down on Monday after Israel cut off fuel deliveries.

    "Every day the situation is getting more and more precarious for Gazans," ICRC mission Chief Katharina Ritz said, adding that there was a desperate need for medical supplies.

    Israeli defense ministry spokesman Peter Lerner however said the tight siege on the coastal territory will be continued.

    Gaza residents have been subject to an Israeli blockade since June 2007. Israel has restricted the entry of vital goods, including food, fuel, medical supplies and construction materials into the coastal strip.

    As a result, a number of Palestinian patients die every month because the siege prevents the sick from getting help from outside the impoverished region.

    Source: Press TV
  7. Shades

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    CAIRO — Amid warnings of an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in the besieged Gaza Strip, calls are mounting for Israel to lift its months-long, chocking siege to allow food supplies to the 1.6 million Palestinians in the strip. "This is a disastrous situation, and it's getting worse and worse," John Ging, director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza,, told the Washington Post on Saturday, November 15.

    "It is unprecedented that the UN is unable to get its supplies in to a population under such obvious distress.

    "Many of these families have been subsisting on this ration for years, and they are living hand-to-mouth."

    Israel has banned the UN and other aid agencies from bringing supplies into Gaza, forcing the UNRWA to halt food supplies to half of Gaza population.

    The closures also left the strip short of fuel, forcing Gaza's main power plant, which supplies a third of the territory's electricity, to shut.

    "I call on Israel to reopen the crossings for humanitarian and commercial flows, in particular food and medicines," said EU Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

    "Facilitation of fuel deliveries for the Gaza power plant should be resumed immediately."

    Oxfam and Amnesty international also urged Israel to end the Gaza siege.

    "World leaders must step up and exercise all their political might to break the blockade of Gaza," Oxfam's executive director Jeremy Hobbs said.

    "As a matter of humanitarian imperative, Israeli leaders must resume supplies into Gaza without further delay."

    Israel, backed by the US, has been closing the Gaza Strip's exits to the outside world since Hamas took control of the territory last year.

    It has completely locked down the area since January, banning food, medicine and fuel shipment supplies.

    Helpless

    Amnesty International said that Israel was enforcing a collective punishment policy against innocent Gazans.

    "Israel's latest tightening of its blockade has made an already dire humanitarian situation markedly worse," said Philip Luther, deputy director of the London-based body's Middle East and north Africa program.

    "This is nothing short of collective punishment on Gaza's civilian population and it must stop immediately."

    A leaked report by the Red Cross said that the Israeli siege has led to a steady rise in chronic malnutrition among the 1.6 million Gazans.

    "Chronic malnutrition is on a steadily rising trend and micronutrient deficiencies are of great concern," said the report seen by The Independent.

    The report says the Israeli restrictions are causing "progressive deterioration in food security for up to 70 per cent of Gaza's population".

    It says increasing numbers of Gazans are selling assets, slashing the quality and quantity of meals and cutting back on clothing and children's education to provide for household.

    In the urban sector, in which about 106,000 employees lost their jobs, about 40 percent are now classified as "very poor", earning less than 500 shekels (£87) a month to provide for an average household of seven to nine people.

    "Since then I earn no more than 300 shekels per month by sewing from time to time neighbors' and relatives' clothes," a former owner of a small, home-based sewing factory says in the report.

    "I sold my wife's jewellery and my brother is transferring 250 shekels every month.

    "I do not really know what to say to my children."

    Pre-history

    Many Gazans now feel they are living in pre-history ages; thanks to the Israeli siege.

    "When I look around, it looks as though people have gone back in time," Awni Sawafiri, a 37-year-old taxi driver and father of three, told the Post.

    "With no electricity, more and more people are burning wood to make a fire to cook."

    Hana Bardawi, who lives in the Shati refugee camp, survives with her seven children on UN food handouts.

    "If the UN assistance stops, I will have to take my two oldest sons out of university, because I won't be able to afford it," she said.

    "Now with winter coming, we also need jackets and warm clothes for the children."

    Nearly 750,000 Gazans depend on UN aid.

    "People just feel hopeless; we don't see any solution to this situation," said Ahmed Abu Hamda, a journalist.

    "They say, 'What the hell is going on here? I just want to live."

    Source: IslamOnline
  8. Shades

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    HRC Denounces Forbidding Muslims from Entering the Ibrahimi Mosque Date : 17/11/2008 Time : 18:56

    HEBRON, November 17, 2008 (WAFA)- Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC) denounced, Monday, the Israeli Occupation Authorities decision to forbid Muslims from entering Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in the city of Hebron on Friday and Saturday, November 21-22 2008 to enable Jewish colonizers to perform their rituals on the



    In a press release published, Monday, the Committee affirmed that the Ibrahimi Mosque is worship place for Muslims, and that colonizers have absolutely no right to it. It added that the decision is illegitimate and breaks all international laws and the human rights conventions.



    In the same context, the Committee demanded the Israeli Occupation Authorities to be more strict when it comes to dealing with Jewish colonizers aggressions against unarmed Palestinian citizens; the last of which was the abduction of 10 year old child from his family’s front yard, near Kiryat Arba’ Colony, north of the city of Hebron. Source: AJP
  9. Shades

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    UN chief Ban Ki-Moon urges Israel to allow UN aid workers into the Gaza Strip, expressing concern about the humanitarian situation there.

    The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon told Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday that he was deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and urged Olmert to ease the delivery of humanitarian aid in the territory, his office said in a statement.

    "The secretary-general today telephoned to express his deep concern over the consequences of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza," the secretary-general's office noted.

    "He strongly urged the prime minister to facilitate the freer movement of urgently needed humanitarian supplies and of concerned United Nations personnel into Gaza," it added.

    On Friday, Ban Ki-moon also called on Israel to open the borders to allow humanitarian aid to reach Gaza residents. In the statement, he said measures that increase the suffering of Gaza civilians "are unacceptable and should cease immediately."

    Israel has toughened its siege on the Gaza Strip and carried put military operations against the Palestinians settled in the area since nearly two weeks ago, killing and wounding a number of them.

    More than 1.5 million Palestinians in the area are without basic supplies including food and medicine. The region is currently suffering a wide-spread blackout and hundreds of patients are in danger of dying.

    Israel has vowed to keep the crossings closed, despite international appeals to the regime to allow in food convoys and to resume fuel supplies to the coastal region.
    Source: Press TV
  10. Shades

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    "People in Gaza are waiting in lines for almost everything, and that's if they're lucky enough to find something to wait for," says Bassam Nasser, 39.

    An aid worker in Gaza City, he, like so many others there, including the UN relief agency, says living conditions are the worst he has ever seen in the strip.

    "People queue for two or three hours for bread, but sometimes there's no cooking gas or flour, so no bread.

    "People wait in line for UN food handouts, but sometimes there aren't any. The suffering is reaching every aspect of life."

    As well as working for an American development agency, Mr Nasser is a Gazan, and a father.

    "I've got three young children. It's difficult to explain to them that it's not my fault we don't have electricity and that it's not in my control."

    'Severely stretched'

    Since June 2007, Israel has allowed little more than basic humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip.

    Many there hoped that policy would change, five months ago, when Hamas and Israel agreed to a truce.


    Gazan family eating by candlelight, 17.11.08

    Gazans describe life under blockade
    But while there were some increases in the amount of aid allowed in, Israel's strict restrictions on the movement of goods and people into and out of Gaza largely remained.

    Two weeks ago, an already fragile humanitarian situation resulting from the mounting effects of months of shortages, saw a dramatic downturn.

    The fighting resumed, with an Israeli army incursion into Gaza and a retaliatory barrage of militant rocket fire. With that, Israel all-but shut the Gaza Strip.

    Although there are some goods being smuggled into Gaza through tunnels from Egypt, little else is reaching the territory.

    Serious fuel shortages have led to widespread power cuts across Gaza City. That, in turn, has caused problems in pumping water to homes, and sewage to treatment plants.

    Israel is preventing many aid workers, and all journalists from entering Gaza too, so our interviews have had to be conducted over the telephone.

    It's so hard to see where the hope is, and so hard to stop these conditions breeding more hatred
    Bassam Nasser, aid worker, Gaza

    "I never thought we would see days like this," says Monther Shublak, head of Gaza's water authority.

    "The water system was severely stretched even before this crisis, but now, things are much worse.

    "For the last four days, around 40% of people in Gaza City have had no access to running water in their homes at all."

    "People ask me 'When will we get water?' I simply can't answer them," Mr Shublak says.

    "But we are putting all of our resources into sewage pumping. The health consequences of that system totally failing are too worrying to think about, but it could happen unless things change."

    Alongside attacks by its military, Israel's government says its Gaza closure strategy aims to deter Palestinian militants from firing rockets across the border at Israeli towns.

    It also wants to choke Hamas, the Islamist faction in charge of Gaza, an enemy Israel sees as one of its most deadly.

    But the rockets keep being launched and Hamas shows few signs of losing its grip on power.

    Question of blame

    There is much discussion among Palestinians as to why this sudden increase in pressure on Gaza is happening now.

    Some say Israel is preparing for a big invasion; others feel there is an element of political posturing ahead of an Israeli general election in February.


    Gaza map

    Guide: Gaza under blockade

    Many will tell you that they feel a time of deep division in Palestinian society is being taken advantage of.

    Few take Israel's explanation, that it is only protecting its citizens from the horror of rocket attacks, at face value.

    "Isn't it enough that their army kills the people who fire rockets?" asks Mr Nasser.

    "We are not responsible, so why are we all being punished? It makes no sense."

    He talks of the long-term impact on children in Gaza, including his own, aged six, five and two.

    "It's getting harder for us to answer our childrens' questions about the situation, without instilling hatred in their minds about the people responsible for our suffering," he says.

    He does not just mean the Israeli government.

    "People here see everyone as responsible for their miserable lives. They see Israel closing Gaza, but they also see people around the world doing nothing.

    "They see Hamas making things worse by using the blockade as an excuse not to be accountable, and they do whatever they like.

    "People see the silence of the PA, [the Fatah-dominated Palestinian government in the West Bank] and blame them too," he says.

    "It's so hard to see where the hope is, and so hard to stop these conditions breeding more hatred."
  11. Shades

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    BBC : Page last updated at 12:20 GMT, Thursday, 20 November 2008
    Hebron settlers desecrate mosque
    Israel soldier painting over graffiti on Hebron mosque
    Israeli troops quickly painted over the inflammatory graffiti on the mosque

    Jewish settlers protesting against an official Israeli eviction order have desecrated Muslim buildings in the flashpoint West Bank town of Hebron.

    They sprayed "Death to Arabs" and an insult to the Prophet Muhammad on a mosque wall and vandalised a cemetery.

    Israeli troops were seen painting over the graffiti. A soldier was injured in scuffles with settlers, the army said.

    The high court has ordered dozens of hardline settlers to leave a house in the overwhelmingly Palestinian town.

    The dispute over the strategically located building has raised tensions even higher than usual between settlers and Palestinians in Hebron.

    Settlers say they bought the building legally from its Palestinian owner, although he denies the claim.

    The Israeli Supreme Court has ordered they must leave the building and set a deadline of Wednesday 19 November for them to go or face a forced eviction.

    Call for protection

    About 500 settlers live in enclaves in central Hebron in an area under full Israeli military control. The town has about 170,000 Palestinian inhabitants.

    Hebron governor Hussein al-Araj urged Israeli authorities to halt the violence and carry out the court decision.

    "What happened is unacceptable," he said. "The Israelis have to enforce the law and stop the suffering of the Palestinians who are living next to settlers. They have to take the settlers from this house and protect the Palestinians."

    The ministry of defence has said it will implement the order but legal opinion is reportedly divided on whether it must do so within one month.

    Hebron is home of some of the most hardline religiously motivated Jewish settlers, and correspondents say the authorities are concerned about the possibility of violent retribution if they are evicted by force.
  12. Shades

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    Nearly one thousand Palestinian children are imprisoned by the Israeli regime

    Nearly one thousand Palestinian children are imprisoned by the Israeli regime, a spokesman of Palestinian prisoners' affairs ministry says.

    The spokesman said Israeli forces have detained at least eight thousands of Palestinian children since the start of the second Palestinian intifada (uprising) in 2000.

    About one thousand of them are still in Israeli detention facilities, he added.

    Marking World Children's Day, hundreds of Palestinians children on Thursday rallied in the Gaza Strip to protest the Israeli atrocities against children and the continued blockade on the region.

    Demonstrators called on Israel to release all detainees.

    According to the Palestinian figures, 800,000 Palestinian children suffer from poverty.

    Israeli prisons incarcerate at least 11,500 Palestinians, including women and children, under harsh conditions.
    Source: Press TV
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    GAZA CITY — Hend has never hated night fall, but Israel is forcing the Gaza college student to do. "This is unbearable, I can't take it any more," a (more)

    GAZA CITY — Hend has never hated night fall, but Israel is forcing the Gaza college student to do. "This is unbearable, I can't take it any more," a distressed Hend told IslamOnline.

    The impoverished Gaza Strip, home to 1.6 million, sinks into total darkness every night over the lack of fuel supplies to feed its sole power plant.

    Hend stays awake every night struggling to see through the dark to study for her upcoming mid-term exams.

    "I study on the light of candles all night. Eventually, my eyes get terribly sore," she said with her face barley seen though the candlelight.

    Click to Watch Video "I wake up every morning with a killing headache and I go to college almost blinded by the pain."

    It's not the first time Gaza plunges into darkness under the Israeli blockade.

    Even before the November cut off, electricity supply in Gaza ran 30 percent below demand.

    Human Rights Watch has slammed Israel's power cuts to the people of Gaza as a violation of the law of war.

    Despite international criticism, Israel remains adamant on maintaining its Gaza closure.

    In Khaled Abdu's house, even candlelight has become a luxury.

    "We have sought candles in almost every shop around, the answer is always 'sorry, sold,' and so we return empty-handed," his wife says bitterly.

    "My children had to sleep with total darkness surrounding them."

    Israel has been closing the Gaza Strip's exits to the outside world since Hamas took control of the territory last June.

    Paralyzed Life

    Gaza officials warn that if the power cuts continued, the situation would turn into a full-blown humanitarian disaster.

    "The magnitude of the disaster will engulf all aspects of life," Saheel Sakik, head of the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company (GEDCO), told IOL.

    Many hospitals have partially stopped working due to power and medical shortages.

    The Hamas government warned on Sunday, November 23, that patients at al-Shifa hospital and Gaza European Hosbital, the largest medical facilities in the strip, could die as the two hospital face closure due to the lack of power.

    Life necessities are already vanishing from Gaza markets.

    "Our life is paralyzed," Abu Ra`ed Ragab told IOL.

    The Gazan father struggles to get potable water to his family everyday as the cuts of electricity have stopped the pumping of fresh water in his home.

    "I breaks my heart to hear my children crying and I can not help them."

    Abdul-Nasser Al Ajrami, head of the Association of Bakeries in the Gaza Strip, affirmed that all bakeries have resorted since Saturday to grinding "secondary wheat" which is used to feed birds and certain animals.

    Sitting in her home surrounded with candles, Om Said can't help feel abandoned by Arabs and Muslims.

    "The situation is getting worse by the minute."

    Source: IslamOnline
  14. Shades

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    Times Of India:
    23 Nov 2008, 1831 hrs IST, AFP
    DAMASCUS: The exiled political chief of the Islamist Palestinian Hamas group on Sunday slammed Arab and Islamic states for keeping silent over
    Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.

    "What is happening in the Gaza Strip is a tragedy. Shame on those who stay silent on the criminal blockade that has been imposed on Gaza. Shame on Arab and Islamic regimes and on the international community," Khaled Meshaal told a meeting in Syria on the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

    "Every Arab country could send a boat to Gaza" to break the blockade imposed since Hamas ousted forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in June last year, Meshaal said.

    Boats from Cyprus carrying peace activists have been able to do so three times in the past three months.

    On November 5 tightened the Gaza blockade in response to rocket fire at its territory following a deadly raid into the impoverished and densely populated Palestinian territory.

    In a speech Meshaal said the return of Palestinian refugees to a homeland now under Israeli occupation was "a natural right guaranteed under international law."

    "Anyone who compromises on the right of return is party to a great crime," he said.

    The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, created in 1949 after the first Arab-Israeli war for Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, accords "refugee of Palestine" status to people who lived in Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, as well as to their descendants.

    While numbering 914,000 in 1950, the number of UNRWA-registered Palestinian refugees is currently around 4.6 million, according to the agency's figures. Nearly half a million live in Syria.

    "I call upon the Arabs not to be too hasty in proposing new initiatives" on peace with Israel, Meshaal said. "It is up to (US president-elect Barack) Obama to present something to the Arabs," he said.

    According to the official SANA news agency, the two-day Damascus meeting is being attended by Arab and foreign personalities, clerics and representatives of political parties.
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    Under mounting international pressure over the blockade of the Gaza Strip, Israel has decided to allow in fuel, food and medical supplies.

    Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided to open the crossings to the Gaza Strip and allow humanitarian supplies, including medicine, food and fuel, throughout the day, the ministry said in a statement on Monday.

    The development came after the UN, political figures and international rights groups expressed their serious concerns over the humanitarian crisis in the region, calling on Israel to lift the blockade.

    It added that Barak expects a truce between Israel and Hamas to 're-establish itself' in the coming day.

    Addressing the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Barak said that he did not regret the truce with Hamas, and assessed that the situation would stabilize once more.

    Despite an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between Hamas movement and Israel, the Israeli regime has tightened its siege on the costal strip and has carried out military operations against the Palestinians settled in the area for more than two weeks, killing and wounding a number of them.

    The blockade has left more than 1.5 million Gaza residents without basic supplies, including food and medicine. The region is currently suffering a wide-spread blackout and hundreds of patients are in fatal condition.

    In response to Israeli attacks, Palestinian fighters have fired homemade rockets into the Israeli-occupied territories over the past two weeks.

    Source: Press TV
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