Palestinian Plight: Updates & Discussions

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Abbas says Israel 'killed' Oslo Accords
By Ray Downs
Jan. 14, 2018

(UPI) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday blamed Israel for ruining the ongoing Oslo Accords and said President Donald Trump's handling of the peace talks was a "slap in the face" to Palestinians.

"Today is the day that the Oslo Accords end. Israel killed them," Abbas said in Ramallah, according to Haaretz. "We are an authority without any authority, and an occupation without any cost. Trump threatens to cut funding to the authority because negotiations have failed. When the hell did negotiations start?!"

Abbas went on to say that any future negotiations would require an international committee in the framework of an international conference to minimize U.S. influence.

"We will not accept for the U.S. to be a mediator, because after what they have done to us -- a believer shall not be stung twice in the same place," Abbas said, according to The New York Times.

Abbas also criticized U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who he described as "an offensive human being, and I will not agree to meet with him anywhere," and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who he said "threatens to hit people who hurt Israel with the heel of her shoe."

As the United States, Isrrael and Palestine continue talks, details on formal deals have not been released.

However, The New York Times reported earlier that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may have attempted to offer Abbas a deal that would likely not be popular among Palestinians because they would not be given East Jerusalem for their capital Palestinian refugees and their descendants wold not be given the right to return.

Abbas referenced the deal and said that the Palestinian leadership had been offered Abu Dis, an East Jerusalem neighborhood they already control, as a potential capital.

"If we lose Jerusalem, what do you want to do? Have a state with Abu Dis as its capital? This is what they're offering now: Abu Dis," Abbas said.

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2018/01/14/Abbas-says-Israel-killed-Oslo-Accords/6841515989758/?st_rec=3081516062262
My only take is this:

1- Israel act according to the 76 boundaries agreement
2- Israel accept the Arab peace deal
3- Palestinians take it into their hands and fight to the last drop of blood either death or victory

Diplomacy for almost 70 years has not bore any fruit.
 

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Israel summons French envoy for diplomat’s apartheid remark


The former French envoy to Washington called Israel an “apartheid state.” (File photo: Reuters)


AP
April 30, 2019
JERUSALEM: Israel’s Foreign Ministry says it has summoned the French ambassador to protest remarks made by the former French envoy to Washington, in which he called Israel an “apartheid state.”

Former ambassador Gerard Araud on Tuesday replied to reports that Israel had summoned Ambassador Helene Le Gal. Araud defended his comments to The Atlantic magazine, saying on Twitter that he “was referring to the West Bank.”

Araud said in an interview with The Atlantic earlier this month that Israel was “in fact already” an apartheid state given the status quo for West Bank Palestinians.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon responded to Araud on Twitter, saying his remarks were “offensive and uncalled for.”

 

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Palestinians face financial crisis as US prepares Mideast plan
May 01, 2019 22:44

Settlement buildings of Maale Adumim in the West Bank. (AFP)


Reuters
  • Unless the issue is resolved, the World Bank says, the Palestinians’ financing gap could exceed $1 billion in 2019
RAMALLAH: Israel and the US are putting the financial squeeze on the Palestinian Authority (PA), where opposition to a long-awaited US peace plan and anger over Israeli sanctions remain strong.

Analysts see steep cuts in US aid to the Palestinians over the past year as an attempt to draw them toward a blueprint that Washington promises will have economic benefits but which the PA predicts will fall short of endorsing Palestinian statehood.

And during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s successful re-election campaign, his right-wing government imposed sanctions that have pushed the Authority toward financial crisis.

In February, Israel announced it would cut by 5 percent the approximately $190 million in tax revenues it transfers to the Palestinian Authority each month from imports that reach the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

The deducted sum represents the amount of money paid by the Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank, to families of Palestinians convicted and jailed by Israel for security offenses, including lethal attacks on Israelis. Palestinians hail their jailed brethren as heroes in a struggle for an independent state and their families as deserving of support.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to accept the partial tax remittances from Israel, saying the PA is entitled to all the money under interim peace deals.

Unless the issue is resolved, the World Bank says, the Palestinians’ financing gap could exceed $1 billion in 2019, putting further strain on an economy grappling with a 52 percent unemployment rate.

Already facing international donor fatigue, the Palestinians were dealt a heavy blow by the Trump administration’s cut last year of hundreds of millions of dollars of aid. In February, the US Agency for International Development announced it had ceased all assistance to the West Bank and Gaza.

While the US and Israel are applying financial pressure to the Palestinian Authority for different reasons, it is happening just as the PA is being leant on to accept the US peace plan.

Palestinian suspicions over the still-secret US proposals, due to be announced in June, and defiance of Israeli sanctions continue to run deep despite the arm-twisting.

Salary cuts
Khalid Al-Asili, the PA’s economy minister, told Reuters in an interview last week that it has been struggling to manage on just 36 percent of budgeted revenues.

The Authority slashed the salaries of government employees in February, March and April to weather the budget crisis, with some Palestinian public servants’ wages cut in half.

“Unless they find a solution ... it will be a disaster for the Palestinian economy,” Asili said.

With Trump’s “deal of the century” about to be unveiled, Tareq Baconi, an analyst with the International Crisis Group, questioned the wisdom of Washington’s financial pressure on the Palestinians.

Such a strategy, he said, stemmed from the “misguided belief that economic benefits could be sufficiently compelling for Palestinians to relinquish their political demands.”

One of the architects of the Trump plan, the president’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, declined to say in public remarks in Washington last week whether it called for a two-state solution, a goal of past efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

Abbas and his officials have refused to deal at a political level with the Trump administration since the US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017 and his move of the US embassy to the holy city last May.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh has rejected out of hand “any political initiative that does not call for ending Israeli occupation and establishing an independent and sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.”

The Palestinians have long sought to set up a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, territory Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East War.
Netanyahu further clouded the statehood issue when he said during the election race that he would annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank if he wins, a move that Palestinian leaders said would kill any prospects of peace.

Risks for both sides
While both sides await the US proposals, the financial sanctions on the Palestinian Authority could be a double-edged sword, posing risks to its stability and for Israel as well.

“Given that the PA’s main source of legitimacy is its capacity to employ a considerable proportion of the Palestinian workforce, internal discontent could challenge its ability to govern effectively,” Baconi said.

For Israel, weakening the Palestinian Authority could have an impact on Palestinian security forces that cooperate with the Israeli military in the West Bank.

“Israel takes it for granted that is has not experienced any major terrorist attack for years now,” said Avraham Sela, professor emeritus of international relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

“Coordination with the PA is invaluable for Israel’s security,” he said.

Economy Minister Eli Cohen, a member of Netanyahu’s security Cabinet, said on Monday that Israel has “no interest” in the Authority’s collapse.
But, he said on Israel’s Reshet TV, withholding tax revenues equivalent to the sums of “stipends and pensions being paid to terrorists” is justifiable.

‘Catastrophic cuts’
In the West Bank city of Ramallah, Kadhim Harb, 50, who works in the Economy Ministry, said the salary reductions have forced him to delay loan payments.

“We are cutting back on everything. We only buy basic things,” Harb, said.

A police officer in Gaza, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Ahmed, said his wages were slashed by 65 percent in March.
“Salary cuts? Please say: Catastrophic cuts. I haven’t been able to pay my son’s university tuition this semester,” said Ahmed, 39.

Donor countries and institutions have stepped in to try to plug the growing budget deficit.

At Abbas’s urging, the Arab League at a meeting in Cairo last week promised $100 million per month to the PA.

Those pledges would add to an increase in funds from Gulf Arab states following the US cuts. Saudi Arabia in 2018 gave $222 million to the

Authority, up from $92 million in 2017, the World Bank said. Kuwait contributed $53 million last year.

Still, the PA faced a significant financing gap in 2018 — some $400 million, or roughly 10 percent of its budget — forcing it to accrue arrears on loans from local banks and other private sector financiers.

 

Eagle1

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Palestinians can use Trump’s peace plan as a launchpad
May 01, 2019
Author
Ray Hanania



A photo taken on April 12, 2019 shows a partial view of the Israeli settlement of Efrat situated on the southern outskirts of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. (AFP)

Sometime after Ramadan, US President Donald Trump will unveil his “deal of the century” plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace. It is clear from the rhetoric from Trump’s advisers that the plan will pander to Israel’s most extremist desires while further marginalizing Palestinian rights.

But have Palestinians marginalized themselves through their rejectionism, handing Israel a clear path to pursue its one-sided objectives with little or no resistance? Through rejectionism, the Palestinians have allowed themselves to be boxed-in, giving extremist voices the power to bully and silence pro-compromise moderates into non-engagement. Should Palestinians continue to play the rejectionism card, with no voice to affect change?

Alternatively, they can engage the process and have a voice — a voice that can expose Israel’s anti-peace policies. Engaging in the peace process, even one as flawed as this, is a powerful strategy that would allow Palestinians to more forcefully and effectively challenge Israel’s racist policies. It would also allow Palestinians to proactively assert a reasoned alternative peace plan that can attract widespread support, including from the American Jews who are disenchanted with Israel’s extremist government policies.

The worst thing Palestinians can do is snub Trump’s peace plan, as flawed as it might be, without engaging in the process.

First, Palestinians need to stop coddling extremists and enforce a policy of one-government rule. Palestine cannot exist as two separate political entities, one in the West Bank, where the majority of Palestinians live under occupation, and another in the Gaza Strip. There is no place for Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood in the future of Palestine. Religion and politics should not be mixed; when they are, it results in calamity. The Palestinian Authority must assert itself as the true and only voice of Palestinians.

But, more importantly, Palestinians also need to redefine their vision of a future peace. Instead of starting the negotiations from compromise, based on the two-state solution, they should start from their ultimate objective. Their broad peace narrative should call for the creation of one state, in which Christians, Muslims and Jews live as equals. Palestinians need to define their own vision and assert it at every opportunity, rather than be defined by Israel, which has rejected the one-state solution, the two-state solution and the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

Rejecting Trump’s peace plan out of hand gives Israel a “license to kill.” Israel’s right-wing leadership understands that it can impact the Palestinians simply by making extremist declarations. This rhetoric becomes a weapon that undermines Palestinian rights. Every time Palestinians turn away from the peace process or a difficult discussion, they surrender rights and empower Israel to do what it wants. That needs to stop.

Every time Palestinians turn away from the peace process or a difficult discussion, they surrender rights and empower Israel to do what it wants. That needs to stop.
Ray Hanania
Palestinians need something more; something new to add to the negotiations. They need to push back and call Israel’s bluff. By calling for a single state as their starting point, they are advocating equal rights for all in both the Occupied Territories and in Israel.

How do they empower that proposal? By demanding that Israel’s illegal settlements — the foundation of its vision for apartheid — be opened up to Palestinians. They should demand that every illegal Israeli settlement be “legalized” by embracing a democratization process that would allow non-Jews to move in and eventually achieve population parity.

This proposal borrows from the strategy used by African-Americans who fought segregationist racism in America. They demanded equality not by creating separate municipalities for black people only, but by demanding equality through integration. It was a difficult and drawn-out process, but it succeeded. A Palestinian civil rights movement can succeed in Israel too. The plan to integrate Israeli settlements would redefine peace and give Palestinians leverage.

Palestinians need to ignore the rejectionists and Hamas, the religious extremists who have undermined the majority. They must push for the creation of a secular state in which all people are equal. Religious political parties need to be banned.

Extremists are louder, more aggressive and often use violence to block the peace process. Moderates must step up their own activism and confront the rejectionists. The Palestinian people deserve peace and justice; they repudiate violence and have embraced democracy. Moderates need to become louder and stronger, and take control.

Rejectionism has empowered Israel and fueled an erosion of Palestinian rights, not just in Israel but in the Occupied Territories too. It has allowed Israel’s right-wing governments to achieve many of the discriminatory policies and practices that exist today purely through persistence and the absence of effective Palestinian push-back.

Trump’s peace plan may be incompatible with the goals of peace and justice, but it can be exploited as a starting place for moderate Palestinian voices, in collaboration with the moderate voices in America — including many American Jews — Europe and Israel that reject Tel Aviv's growing extremism.
  • Ray Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist. He can be reached at his personal website at www.Hanania.com. Twitter: @RayHanania
 

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Israel targets Hamas in Gaza after ‘balloon bombs’ launched
02 May 2019



Reuters

  • The military says it hit the sites in northern Gaza Strip early on Thursday
  • Israel previously scaled back the permitted fishing zone off Gaza’s Mediterranean coast following a rocket attack
JERUSALEM: The Israeli military says it struck several Hamas militant sites in Gaza in response to incendiary balloons with explosives launched from the strip.

The military says it hit the sites in northern Gaza Strip early on Thursday. It says that afterward, two rockets were fired out of Gaza. There were no injuries on either side.

The brief flareup marked the first Israeli strike in more than a month. Egyptian mediators have been trying to reach a long-term cease-fire during the lull.

Israel previously scaled back the permitted fishing zone off Gaza’s Mediterranean coast following a rocket attack.

Israel says it holds Gaza’s Hamas rulers responsible for all attacks from the coastal territory. The sides have engaged in several rounds of cross-border fighting over the past year.

 

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Israel Seeks Ceasefire with Hamas
Thursday, 02 May, 2019


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Reuters file photo

Tel Aviv - Nazir Magally

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been exerting all efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement with Hamas and the Islamic Jihad movement ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest, which will take place on May 14 and 18 in Tel Aviv, Israeli security sources said.

Sources said Netanyahu, who usually issues direct threats, including targeting Jihad leaders, has been lately taking moderate stances and working to reach understandings with the two movements.

They pointed out that the Premier said in meetings with political and military leaders that he wants to give the Palestinians a chance to reach an agreement.

“We will give them a chance to pass Eurovision. If they benefit from it, and we reach a ceasefire, then we will all be winners. However, if they fail to do so, we will launch an attack against them, and the whole world will support us and understand our position,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying.

He quickly accepted a recommendation by the security institution that includes the re-establishment of a joint industrial zone, employing some 5,000 Palestinian workers from the Gaza Strip at the Karni border crossing area.

According to a senior security official, the industrial zone will be similar to that operated in the past at the Beit Hanoun crossing (Erez), which Israel suspended after its disengagement from Gaza and moved some of its plants to other areas.

Karni crossing was used in the past as a main crossing border for goods to enter the Gaza Strip, and it was closed in 2011 after coming under attacked by Palestinian movements.

Over the past year, Israeli security forces carried out studies on the site and presented detailed engineering and security plans, so the specified area will be within Israel and the entry from the Strip will be limited to the industrial zone.

In this context, sources revealed that Netanyahu prevented the military from responding to the rocket launched by the Islamic Jihad from Gaza towards the Israeli coast on Tuesday.

The Israeli army usually responds with heavy shelling and raids after every rocket fired at Israel, even if it falls inside the Strip and doesn’t reach its target.

But this time, Netanyahu asked the army to threaten the attackers without launching a military operation.

In an unusual move, the army also named Islamic Jihad’s northern district commander, Baha Abu al-Ata, as the person responsible for the rocket launch.

This may have been an implicit threat that if the rocket fire continues, the Israeli army could opt to harm senior Islamic Jihad officials.

The military's goal in avoiding retribution is to prevent an escalation that would undermine Egyptian efforts to forge a cease-fire agreement in Gaza.

 

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Israeli Bill to Annex West Bank Settlements
Thursday, 2 May, 2019 - 11:15


A Palestinian woman weeps her destroyed house by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank town of Hebron on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 (EPA)

Tel Aviv- Asharq Al Awsat

New Likud MK Michal Shir proposed a bill, on her first day as a lawmaker in the Knesset, to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Jordan Valley to Israel’s sovereignty.

She said she proposed the bill from a humanitarian aspect, noting that settlers suffer discrimination because they live or work outside the borders of Israel’s sovereignty.

“Israeli labor laws that ensure workers' rights do not apply to these settlers,” she said.

Settler leaders welcomed the idea and praised her.

The Sovereignty Movement, which was established to work on annexing all the West Bank to Israel, said Shir is a Knesset member who is “committed to the principles of the Greater Land of Israel and a model for young people who are willing to achieve the historic mission of the Zionist dream.”

It called on all right-wing Mks to vote in favor of this bill once it is put to debate.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had earlier announced that he would deal with this issue as a key goal in his new government’s agenda.

It is known that settlers have been practicing annexation on the ground through attacking Palestinians while they are working in their lands or sleeping in their homes and sabotaging their crops.

A series of such attacks were recorded on Wednesday. Settlers attacked the Palestinian Radi Abu Aysha’s family in Tel Rumeida neighborhood, Hebron, and destroyed the fence around the house.

These settlers have been enjoying Israeli soldiers’ protection and have also cut the iron pillars of the fence to prevent its reconstruction.

They detained Abu Aysha, 74, in the military checkpoint and only released him following the intervention of Palestinian Civil Affairs.

Scores of settlers stormed the town of Kafal Haris, north of Salfit, in the early hours on Wednesday. They carried out Talmudic rituals in the historic area of Makamat under heavy security protection from Israeli occupation forces.

Palestinians said groups of settlers stormed the town following the deployment of large occupation forces in its neighborhoods. They closed the town’s entrances and set up military checkpoints.

Occupation forces prevented residents from moving in the area under the pretext of securing the settlers who arrived on buses to perform Talmudic rituals in three religious shrines in the town.

 

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Rockets fired from Gaza at southern Israel
By Darryl Coote
MAY 02, 2019

The Israeli Defense Forces said two rockets fired from Gaza exploded in vacant lots, resulting in zero casualties. Photo courtesy the Israel Defense Force/Twitter

May 2 (UPI) -- Two rockets were fired from Gaza at southern Israel Thursday, a few hours after Israel carried out airstrikes against Hamas targets in the Palestinian territory, authorities said.

The Israel Defense Forces said air-raid sirens were triggered at 5:37 a.m. in Shaar Hanegev and Sdot Negev regional communities near the border with Gaza as two rockets were fired from the Palestine territory.

The rockets exploded in open areas without injury, Israel National Newsreported.

The rocket fire comes two hours after the Israeli Air Force conducted airstrikes against several "Hama terror targets in Gaza," it said.

The IAF said the airstrikes were in retaliation for explosive and incendiary devices sent into Israel from Gaza by balloons, causing fires in Eshkol region, southern Israel.

"Earlier today, explosive and arson balloons were launched from the Gaza Strip," IAF said in a tweet. "In response, overnight, an IAF fighter jet and an IAF aircraft struck a number of terror targets in a Hamas military compound in the northern Gaza Strip."

The AIF added that the military holds Hamas responsible for all activities from Gaza.

The rocket fire was the latest volley between Gaza and Israel amid rising tensions between the two that started in March when seven Israelis were killed after a house was hit by a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip.

On Tuesday, Israel shrunk the fishing zone for Gazans from 15 nautical miles to six in retaliation to a rocket fired Monday that landed in Israel's waters, Haaretz reported.

The IDF said the rocket was aimed at a community along the Gaza border and in an uncommon move published the picture and name of the person it held responsible.

"This is Bahaa Abu-Ala'ta, the Gaza commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad," the IDF said in a tweet. "Last night, his operatives fired a rocket at Israel to bring about an escalation. Thankfully, the rocket landed in the sea."

This week's attacks follow last Friday when 60 Palestinians were injuredduring protests suppressed by Israeli forces with rubber-coated steel rounds.

Rockets fired from Gaza at southern Israel
 

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The National
May 4, 2019
Updated: May 5, 2019
Israel strikes Gaza after scores of rockets fired from strip

The flare up follows a strike on Friday that killed two Hamas fighters

Israel fired artillery and launched air raids into Gaza on Saturday morning in response to what it said was scores of rockets launched out of the strip.

The Israeli retaliation came amid escalating tensions after an air strike killed two Hamas members, and Israeli border forces shot two protesters on Friday.

Palestinian officials said four were killed in the Israeli strikes and 20 more injured.

Gaza's health ministry said a baby and her pregnant mother were killed in an air strike in Gaza City. A small armed pro-Hamas group in Gaza, The Protectors of Al Aqsa, said one of its men was killed in an air strike, while the health ministry said four bystanders were wounded. The Palestinian

Education Ministry said it was evacuating schools in areas under Israeli bombardment.

The Israeli military said it struck some 120 targets in Gaza, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad military compounds, a Hamas rocket-manufacturing site and a "high-end Islamic Jihad tunnel" that it said stretched into Israel for use in attacks.

Late on Saturday, Israel struck a building that it said housed Hamas military intelligence offices in Gaza City. Another airstrike hit a six-story commercial and residential building. Journalists said the building housed the office of Turkey's news agency Anadolu. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

Shortly before mid-day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu headed to the defence ministry for consultations with the chiefs of staff and intelligence heads on the situation in Gaza.

Video and pictures being shared on social media on Saturday showed smoke trails that appeared to be from Israeli Iron Dome anti-missile systems aimed at incoming rockets near the Gaza Strip. The Jerusalem Post quoted a spokesperson for the municipality of Ashkelon, near the embattled Palestinian enclave, as confirming that several rockets were intercepted by Israeli missile defences. The town’s mayor ordered all bomb shelters to be opened.

It also said that a rocket had hit a house in the town of Kissufim that lies just two kilometres from the edge of Gaza. It did not indicate if there had been any injuries.

A 15-year old was injured while headed to a bomb shelter in the town of Sderot, the Jerusalem Postreported.

Hamas would "continue to respond to the crimes by the occupation and it will not allow it to shed the blood of our people," its spokesman Abdel-Latif Al Qanoua said in a statement on Saturday. He made no explicit claim for Hamas having fired the rockets.

One of the attacks was claimed by the Palestinian Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), which said it fired rockets at the city of Ashkelon.

The flare-up comes just before the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. It also follows comments by senior White House adviser Jared Kushner that a US peace plan to be revealed after Ramadan would serve as a framework for resolving decades Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"What we will be able to put together is a solution that we believe is a good starting point for the political issues and then an outline for what can be done to help these people start living a better life," said Mr Kushner, who has spent two years working on the plan with the US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt.

However, Mr Kusher said it would not follow the long proposed two-state solution sought by the Palestinians, who are seeking an independent state comprising the Israeli-occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

Israel has waged three wars on Gaza since Hamas took control of the territory in 2007. Israeli air strikes in retaliation for rockets from Gaza are a frequent occurrence.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group in Gaza said in a statement that the rocket barrages were a response to Friday's events and that Israel has been delaying the implementation of previous understandings brokered by Cairo.

The strikes were a response to gunfire from southern Gaza that wounded two Israeli soldiers, the Israeli military said.

Hamas, the group that rules the Palestinian enclave, said two members of its armed wing had been killed and three wounded when Israel bombed one of its positions in central Gaza.

The Hamas-run Al Quds Voice reported that a joint operation room for Hamas forces ordered all military units to be on standby on Friday evening after the Israeli airstrike killed the fighters.

Later on Friday, two Palestinians shot by Israeli troops while taking part in weekly protests along the border died of their wounds, Gaza health officials said.

The Israeli military said some 5,200 Palestinians had amassed along the frontier, but did not immediately provide further comment.
A medics worker helps a wounded youth, who was shot by Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, into the treatment room of Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Friday, May 3, 2019. Three Palestinians, including two militants, were killed by Israeli fire Friday after gunshots from the Gaza Strip wounded two Israeli soldiers, officials said, in a new flare-up that shattered a month-long easing of hostilities that was mediated by Egypt. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
A medics worker helps a wounded youth, who was shot by Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel. AP
The protesters are demanding an end to a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt, and want Palestinians to have the right to return to land their families fled or were forced from during Israel's founding in 1948.


More than 200 Gazans have been killed by Israeli troops since the "Great March of Return" started on March 30 last year, according to Gaza health officials. Over 10,000 have been wounded, with many maimed by Israeli snipers. An Israeli soldier was also killed by a Palestinian sniper.

Emanuele Giaufret@EGiaufretEU

https://twitter.com/EGiaufretEU/status/1124596380591382529

Following with concern the unfolding situation in and around Gaza as rockets are been launched to Israel. Firing indiscriminately against civilians unacceptable

148

12:47 PM - May 4, 2019
https://twitter.com/EGiaufretEU/status/1124596380591382529


Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus said Israel was prepared to intensify its attacks. He added that Islamic Jihad was trying to destabilise the border and blamed Hamas for failing to rein it in.

Islamic Jihad said in a statement that the rocket barrages were a response to Friday's events and that Israel has been delaying the implementation of previous understandings brokered by Cairo.

In a joint statement, Hamas and Islamic Jihad said: "Our response will be broader and more painful if the enemy pursues its aggression."
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the Israeli actions in Gaza.

The European Union's ambassador to Israel, Emanuele Giaufret, criticised the rocket attacks on Twitter, saying "firing indiscriminately against civilians [is] unacceptable."

Egyptian mediators, credited with brokering a ceasefire after a Hamas rocket attack north of Tel Aviv in March set off a burst of intense fighting, have been working to prevent fresh escalations.

Hamas said in a statement on Thursday that its Gaza chief, Yeyha Al Sinwar, had travelled to Cairo for talks on efforts to maintain calm along the border and alleviate Palestinian suffering.


The UN's Middle East envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, said the organisation was working with Egypt to restore calm and called on all sides to "de-escalate" and restore recent understandings.

"Those who seek to destroy them will bear responsibility for a conflict that will have grave consequences for all," he said in a statement.

Some 2 million Palestinians live in Gaza, whose economy has suffered years of blockades as well as recent foreign aid cuts. Unemployment stands at 52 per cent, according to the World Bank.
Palestinians take cover during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence, in the southern Gaza Strip May 3, 2019. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
Palestinians
take cover during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence, in the southern Gaza Strip. May 3

Israel says its blockade is necessary to stop weapons reaching Hamas. Cairo's mediation had helped persuade Israel to lift some restrictions on the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza and expand the Mediterranean zone where Gazans can fish.

But Israel scaled back the zone this week in response to rocket fire from Gaza, a spokeswoman for its military liaison agency with the Palestinians said.

COGAT, the Israeli defence body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs, said it was closing the fishing zone off Gaza's coast altogether and sealing Israel's two land crossings with Gaza. The crossings are used by Palestinian medical patients to enter and exit the territory, and provide the main entry for cargo into the blockaded territory.


 

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Israel fires 260 airstrikes across Gaza after being hit by 600 rockets
May 5, 2019
By Allen Cone

Palestinians examine their home that was destroyed during Israeli airstrikes in Rafah in southern Gaza on Sunday. Palestinian militants fired approximately 430 rockets at Israel and Israel responded with 260 airstrikes. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo

May 5 (UPI) -- Responding to approximately 600 rockets fired toward Israel since Friday, the Israel Defense Forces hit 260 targets across Gaza.

On Sunday after a Cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted on Twitter that Israel will "continue the massive attacks against terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, and I had to thicken the forces around the Gaza Strip with armor, artillery and live forces. "

Netanyahu said "Hamas is responsible not only for its attacks and actions, but also for Islamic Jihad operations and it pays a very heavy price."

On Saturday night, Hamas threatened "the next step is to blow up Tel Aviv," The Jerusalem Post reported.

Since tensions ratcheted up along the border Friday, three Israeli men and 16 Palestinians, including a pregnant woman and her infant niece, have been killed, Haaretz reported.

A 58-year-old man became the first Israeli to be killed by rocket fire since the end of the 2014 war. He died when a rocket hit his house in Ashkelon, according to a statement from Barzilai hospital obtained by CNN.

The IDF said Hamed Ahmed Abed Khudari, who was in charge of large-scale money transfers from Iran to Gaza, was killed Sunday. Hamas said the killing of a senior member of the organization is the first such targeted hit since 2014.

Two gunmen from the armed wing of Islamic Jihad were killed overnight in Gaza, according to a statement from the militant group, and two other Palestinian men died in earlier airstrikes Saturday.

A 1-year old Palestinian baby and the baby's pregnant mother died in Gaza. The IDF said the deaths were caused by a Hamas rocket that misfired.

On Saturday, about 90 rockets were fired toward Israel over an hour and continued late into the evening.

The Iron Dome aerial defense system had intercepted dozens of the incoming rockets.

The IDF said it carried out airstrikes in Gaza, including a tunnel, rocket launcher sites and other military compounds used by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Also, the military also struck a mosque in al-Shati in northern Gaza, which allegedly used a command and control center by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Schools sessions were canceled across the south.

Israel also announced that it is indefinitely closing the two border crossings between Israel and Gaza, as well as closing the Gaza fishing zone. The fishing zone was moved to 6 nautical miles earlier this week after a rocket fired from Gaza that landed off the coast of Israel.

On Sunday, Israel allowed 17 fuel trucks into Gaza, with 650,000 liters of fuel passing through the Kerem Shalom crossing. Authorities closed the crossing. Egypt has opened the Rafah crossing to allow goods into Gaza.

A top official in the United Nations said Saturday "grave consequences" await if new deadly escalation of violence in Gaza continues.

Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, said he is "deeply concerned by yet another dangerous escalation in Gaza and the tragic loss of life."

Haaretz reported a Hamas political official taking part in the talks with Egyptian mediators in Cairo, said that the talks are continuing without any practical results.

He said there is no reason to expect a de-escalation in until Israel implements ways to improve the lives of Gaza's civilians.

Israel and Gaza militants have intensified the skirmishes since the Israeli election almost a month ago in which Netanyahu was reelected

 

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Ceasefire appears to take hold in Gaza, ending deadly weekend of hostilities
By Oren Liebermann, Ibrahim Dahman and Andrew Carey, CNN

May 6, 2019

Ashkelon, Israel (CNN)Israel and militant factions in Gaza appear to have reached a ceasefire after a violent weekend that saw the some of the worst fighting between the two sides since 2014, when full-blown war broke out.

At least 23 people were killed in Gaza, including two infants and two pregnant women, in the exchanges that began Friday, while four people were killed in Israel by rockets.

A spokesman for the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad told CNN that the agreement took effect at 4:30 a.m. local time in Gaza.

Israel rarely confirms or comments on the existence of any ceasefire. But Israeli authorities have lifted all restrictions on civilians in the Gaza periphery, which is likely a clear indication that Israel expect this latest round of fighting has ended.

Smoke is sen rising after an Israeli air raid on homes in Gaza City.

Smoke is sen rising after an Israeli air raid on homes in Gaza City.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had warned Sunday that "massive attacks against terrorist elements" would continue due to the rocket attacks coming from Gaza.

At his weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday morning, Netanyahu said "Hamas bears the responsibility not only for its own attacks and actions but also for the actions of Islamic Jihad, and it is paying a very heavy price for this."

Israeli Economy Minister Eli Cohen used similar language in discussing the conflict.

"The rules of the game have changed. We are preparing for a campaign that, by the end of it, Hamas and Islamic Jihad will beg for a ceasefire," Cohen said in a statement posted on social media.

"The heads of the snake in Gaza are already paying a price and they will continue to a heavy price for the unnecessary provocation and the harm to our citizens."

Hamas threatened a similar escalation if the fighting continued.

"We stress that the more atrocious the Israeli attacks on the Palestinian civilians are, the stronger the Palestinian response will be," Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas' leader in Gaza, said in a statement Sunday.

"If the Israeli occupation does not implement the ceasefire understandings, the battlefield will witness more escalation."

The violence marks the first serious escalation in hostilities since the Israeli election about a month ago. Included among the deceased in Gaza are eight members of the armed wing of Islamic Jihad -- the Quds Brigade -- a spokesman for the group said.

The weekend also saw the first use of a targeted killing by Israeli authorities in Gaza in years. Israeli aircraft struck the vehicle of Hamid Ahmed Abdul Khudri, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), who they say was responsible for money transfers from Iran to militant groups like Islamic Jihad and Hamas, the two largest factions inside the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians inspect the remnants of the Abo Kamar building after airstrikes carried out by Israeli warplanes in Gaza City, Gaza, on Sunday

Palestinians inspect the remnants of the Abo Kamar building after airstrikes carried out by Israeli warplanes in Gaza City, Gaza, on Sunday

Clashes
The catalyst for the weekend of hostilities occurred Friday afternoon.

Two Palestinians were shot and killed by Israeli troops during weekly protests along the fence between Gaza and Israel Friday, according to Palestinian health officials.

Also during the demonstrations, a sniper in Gaza wounded two Israeli soldiers near the border. Israel responded by striking a Hamas military post, killing two members of Hamas' military wing.

Hamas and other factions inside Gaza vowed to hit back. On Saturday morning, militant factions fired a barrage of rockets into Israel.

The fighting escalated by the hour. Short-range rockets targeting the Gaza periphery gave way to more powerful rockets aimed at Beer Sheva and Ashdod, some of the largest cities in southern Israel. Islamic Jihad also fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli civilian vehicle. Israel's attacks escalated as well, from hitting smaller military posts to larger multi-story buildings the IDF says were used as terror infrastructure by Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

By the time the sun rose Monday, Palestinian militants had fired about 690 rockets into Israel, according to the IDF, and Israel had conducted airstrikes on 350 targets.

Rockets are fired toward the Israeli areas from Gaza Strip Sunday.

Rockets are fired toward the Israeli areas from Gaza Strip Sunday.

Those killed in Israel include two men in their fifties, health officials said. In Gaza, two infants, a 12-year-old boy and two pregnant women were among the dead, per Gazan officials.

There is a dispute over the cause of the deaths of one of the infants and one of the pregnant women -- Gaza health officials say both died in an Israeli airstrike, while the Israeli military says they were killed when a militant rocket misfired on launch.

People inspect the damage at a house in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba on Sunday after it was hit in a rocket strike from Gaza.

People inspect the damage at a house in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba on Sunday after it was hit in a rocket strike from Gaza.

Diplomatic attempts to bring an end to the fighting continued throughout the weekend, including "very intense" mediation efforts by Egypt and the United Nations, a source with direct knowledge of the negotiations told CNN.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' office condemned "in the strongest terms the launching of rockets from Gaza into Israel, particularly the targeting of civilian population centers" in a statement Sunday.

CNN's Joshua Berlinger contributed to this report

 

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Israel, Gaza reach cease-fire after weekend missile exchanges
By Daniel Uria
MAY 6, 2019

Palestinians look at a building that was targeted by Israeli airstrikes on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday. The two sides reached a cease-fire on Monday. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo


May 6 (UPI) -- Israel and Palestinian groups in Gaza reached a cease-fire Monday after a weekend in which hundreds of missiles were fired between the two sides and more than two dozen people in Gaza were killed.

Hamas and the Islamic Jihad announced that the cease-fire went into effect at 4:30 a.m. in Gaza, while Israel didn't immediately comment, but Home Front Command lifted all restrictions for Gaza border residents, The Jerusalem Post reported.

"The cease-fire agreement was reached on condition that the occupation implements the previous understandings to lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip," Palestinian Resistance Committees spokesman Abu Mujahed said.

The United Nations, Qatar and Egypt took part in the efforts to achieve the cease-fire agreement.

Palestinian Premier Mohammed Shtayyeh urged the United Nations to intervene and facilitate a cease-fire.

"The international community cannot remain as a silent observer in the face of the Israeli occupation crimes against Palestinian civilians and cannot not take a neutral stance in the face of photographs of the bodies of Palestinian children," Shtayyeh said.

The agreement came after the Israel Defense Forces hit 260 targets across Gaza in response to 600 rockets fired toward Israel.

At least 23 people were killed in Gaza, including two infants and two pregnant women, while four people were killed in Israel, in the exchange of missiles that began Friday.

 

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Shtayyeh Urges UN to Ensure Palestinians’ Safety
07 May, 2019


An explosion is pictured among buildings during an Israeli air raid on Gaza City on May 4 (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Ramallah, Cairo – Asahrq Al-Awsat

The recent dangerous Israeli aggression on Gaza Strip calls for an immediate international intervention to protect Palestinians, announced Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh.

Shtayyeh urged the United Nations to immediately intervene to halt and ensure cessation of the Israeli onslaught on the besieged Gaza Strip.

He condemned the international community for remaining a silent observer in the face of the Israeli occupation crimes against Palestinian civilians and “cannot not take a neutral stance in the face of photographs of the bodies of Palestinian children.”

“We do not accept statements that put the perpetrator and the victim on an equal footing,” he was quoted by Wafa news agency.

The PM called for putting the differences aside and working uniformly for the Palestinian people who suffer the scourge of the Israeli siege and aggression.

He also called for empowering the government to carry out its duties and putting all its resources to serve the people. He reiterated his government's readiness to move immediately to the Gaza Strip to end the division, in accordance with the reconciliation agreement 2017.

Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas are in disagreement over the government’s inability to operate in Gaza in accordance with a previous agreement.

The Premier pointed out that PA President Mahmoud Abbas made extensive international and regional calls overnight in an attempt to bring to a halt the Israeli aggression on Gaza.

He welcomed all efforts aimed to secure a ceasefire agreement, especially the Egyptian-led efforts.

He stressed the importance of strengthening Palestinian national unity to confront the Israeli onslaught on Gaza and asserted the government welcomes any effort for ceasefire, especially the Egyptian efforts.

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres indicated he is following with “deep concern” the latest developments across the Gaza-Israeli border and urges all parties to exercise maximum restraint.

Deploring the “risk of yet another dangerous escalation and further loss of life on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan,” the Sec-Gen condemned.

He urged all parties to “exercise maximum restraint, immediately de-escalate and return to the understandings of the past few months.”

The UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, issued a similar call for calm on Saturday and continues to work closely with Egypt and all concerned parties to restore calm.

 

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Two-Thirds of Israeli-Jews Support Negotiations With Palestinian Authority
07 May, 2019


Israeli Arabs wave Palestinian flags during a rally to mark the Nakba (File photo: Reuters)

Tel Aviv – Asharq Al-Awsat

Despite electing a far right-wing government that doesn’t recognize Palestine as a partner in the peace process, about two-thirds of Jewish citizens in Israel have expressed their support for resuming peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Up to 47.9 percent of the Jews expressed their strong support while, 18 percent said they would support such negotiations if they are held, making it a total of 66 percent, according to academic research published by Ono Academic College on Monday.

However, the prevailing view among Israeli Jews, according to the research, was that such negotiations would often fail.

The study dealt with the issue of relations between Israeli Jews and the Arab population known as Palestinians of 1948, in the light of escalating tensions between them over recent elections. This was accompanied by a campaign launched by the extreme right leaders, especially Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The results came as a surprise, as the public in this case was found to be more moderate than officials, with 68 percent saying they do not support the transfer of Arab citizens to the Palestinian state once established.

Seventy percent said they saw Arabs as moderates and could coexist peacefully with them, and 60 percent said Jews should learn Arabic language. The study also showed that 53 percent of the people who took the poll believe relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel are good, but political leaders destroy them.


 

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Qatar to send money for West Bank, Gaza after Israel truce

AP
May 07, 2019
  • $300 million would support health and education programs of the Palestinian Authority
  • While $180 million would go toward “urgent humanitarian relief” in UN programs and toward electricity
DUBAI: Qatar says it will send $480 million to Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip after a cease-fire deal ended the deadliest fighting between Israel and Palestinian factions since a 2014 war between the two sides.

A statement from Qatar’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday morning said $300 million would support health and education programs of the Palestinian Authority, while $180 million would go toward “urgent humanitarian relief” in UN programs and toward electricity.

The recent two-day outbreak of violence killed 25 people in Gaza, both militants and civilians, and four civilians in Israel.

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said Egyptian mediators, along with officials from Qatar and the UN, helped reach the cease-fire deal.

The energy-rich, small nation of Qatar has become a major donor to the Palestinians.

 

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