Turkish NGO provides Gaza children with school supplies

By Mohamed Majed

GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) – Turkey's non-governmental Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) on Thursday supplied the blockaded Gaza Strip with school supplies and equipment for some 2,000 children, according to an IHH official in Gaza.

“We have provided school equipment for 2,000 orphans and poor children in Gaza at a total cost of 60,000 euros,” Mahmoud al-Shurafa, a spokesman for the IHH’s office in Gaza, told Anadolu Agency.

The project, al-Shurafa said, is intended to ease the difficult economic circumstances faced by orphans and poor children in the besieged coastal territory.

“We are continuing to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza residents forced to live under the Israeli blockade,” he added.

According to reports, some 80 percent of the people in Gaza rely on international aid to survive, while 40 percent live under the poverty line.

Israel first imposed its blockade on Gaza in 2006 after Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, which supports armed resistance to Israel, swept Palestinian legislative polls.

The following year, Israel ratcheted up its blockade after Hamas seized the entire strip — which it still governs today — from rival Palestinian faction Fatah.

Still in effect, the blockade has crippled Gaza’s economy and deprived the strip’s more than two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.

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Hamas leader meets Egyptian security delegation in Gaza

By Nour Abu Aisha

GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) – Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh on Thursday met with an Egyptian security delegation in the blockaded Gaza Strip.

The Egyptian delegation — which includes Ayman Badie, Egypt’s deputy intelligence chief — arrived in Gaza earlier Thursday through Israel's Erez border crossing.

According to Palestinian media reports, the visit comes within the framework of ongoing Hamas-Egypt talks about inter-Palestinian reconciliation and a proposed truce between Israel and Gaza-based resistance groups.

On Wednesday, Israeli warplanes carried out a series of airstrikes across the Gaza Strip in ostensible response to rockets fired into southern Israel from the blockaded Palestinian enclave.

The airstrikes left at least one Palestinian dead, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

The Israeli army, for its part, said it had struck 20 targets throughout Gaza, going on to hold Hamas — which has governed the strip since 2007 — responsible for the escalation.

On Wednesday, a separate Egyptian delegation departed Gaza via the Erez crossing after arriving in the enclave on Tuesday for talks with Hamas officials.

Since March, more than 200 Palestinians have been martyred by Israeli army gunfire — and thousands more injured — while taking part in ongoing rallies along the Gaza-Israel buffer zone.

Demonstrators demand an end to Israel’s 12-year blockade of Gaza — which has gutted the strip’s economy — and the right to return to their homes in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948.

Israeli army to step up response to Gaza demonstrations

JERUSALEM (AA) – Israel’s Security Cabinet on Thursday ordered the military to step up its response to ongoing Palestinian demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel buffer zone, according to Israeli media reports.

“Starting Friday, the military will intensify its response to airborne firebombs from Gaza and will extend its range of fire during protests along the border,” Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

According to the new policy, Palestinian protesters will have to maintain a greater distance from the buffer zone — otherwise, Israeli troops have been ordered to open fire.

“The response to incendiary balloons and kites launched from Gaza will be more forceful,” the paper asserted.

According to Haaretz, the Security Cabinet convened for five hours late Wednesday after a number of rockets were fired into Israeli territory from Gaza.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett have both repeatedly called for a harsher military response to the ongoing rallies along the buffer zone.

Most other members of the Security Cabinet, however, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, reportedly want to avoid a broader military operation.

Cabinet members were reportedly told not to speak to the media about issues discussed at the meeting.

This did not prevent Housing Minister Yoav Galant, however, from making provocative comments to reporters.

"I am not commenting on the content of the cabinet discussions, but I can say one thing very explicitly: the rules of the game are about to change,” he said.

“We will no longer accept the terror along the border fence,” Galant asserted.

In a related development, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, threatened on Thursday to respond to any Israeli attack on Gaza.

On its official website, the Brigades posted a brief video showing a Brigades fighter preparing to fire a salvo of rockets into Israeli territory.

Since the rallies along the buffer zone began on March 30, more than 200 Palestinians have been martyred — and thousands more injured — by Israeli army gunfire.

Protesters demand the right to return to their homes in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.

They also demand an end to Israel’s 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.

The ongoing Gaza rallies and Palestine’s unsung heroes

By Mohamed Majed

GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) – Scores of Palestinian demonstrators have been killed near the Gaza-Israel buffer zone within the last six months, but the stories of these intrepid protesters — who insist on defying Israel’s decades-long occupation — remain largely unknown.

Men, women, boys, girls: they come from all over the Gaza Strip. One young girl runs from side to side, trying to avoid the deadly hail of Israeli bullets and clouds of teargas.

The trademark black-and-white Palestinian keffieh wrapped around her neck, she advances ever closer to the frontline: the heavily-fortified buffer zone separating blockaded Gaza from Israel.

She finds herself beside a number of other Palestinian protesters — other children like her and several elderly people — all of whom have converged on the buffer zone to express their rejection of the status quo.

Since the demonstrations began on March 30, more than 200 Palestinians have been martyred — and thousands more injured — by Israeli army gunfire.

Protesters demand the right to return to their homes in historical Palestine, from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.

They also demand an end to Israel’s 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.

– Defiance

Frequently at the frontline, Saadiyeh Haniyeh, a 54-year-old Palestinian medic, provides treatment to a young demonstrator suffering from teargas exposure.

“Even though Israeli occupation forces use teargas and bullets against us, we will continue to demonstrate to demand our rights,” Haniyeh told Anadolu Agency.

She went on to urge the international community — especially the Arab states — to take action against Israel’s crippling blockade.

Protester Reda al-Banna, 43, says she will continue to take part in the almost-daily rallies until all the demonstrators’ demands are realized.

“We are participating in these demonstrations as a means of defending our land — and our rights — which the occupation stole from us,” she told Anadolu Agency.

– Solidarity

Near the buffer zone’s northernmost segment, one young protester braves the teargas and gunfire with a Palestinian flag wrapped around his face. Carrying a bag full of stones to throw at Israeli soldiers, he gradually approaches the frontline.

But before he gets there, he is clipped by an Israeli bullet and abruptly falls to the ground. With the help of a friend, he is put aboard a Palestinian ambulance and whisked off to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Almost immediately afterward, several more young Palestinian protesters set several tires ablaze near the site where their friend was injured.

Dubbed the “Kushuk Unit”, these young protesters specialize in setting fire to car tires, the thick black smoke from which obscures the vision of Israeli snipers deployed along the other side of the buffer zone.

– Resistance on high seas

The ongoing rallies along the buffer zone have been accompanied by similar protests off Gaza’s coast, where Palestinian activists have staged demonstrations near Gaza’s maritime border with Israel.

One such protest was held on Oct. 8, when more than 20 Palestinian vessels — bearing dozens of activists — approached the maritime border in defiance of the Israeli Navy.

Naval forces eventually opened fire, however, leaving at least 29 activists suffering injuries, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

Israel first imposed its blockade on Gaza in 2006 after resistance movement Hamas — which supports armed resistance to Israel — swept Palestinian legislative polls.

Israel tightened the blockade the following year (while Egypt, too, sealed its border with Gaza) after Hamas seized the entire strip — which it still holds today — from rival Palestinian faction Fatah.

Palestinian gov’t condemns Israeli attacks in Gaza

By Qais Abu Samra

RAMALLAH (AA) – The Ramallah-based Palestinian government on Wednesday condemned Israeli airstrikes in the blockaded Gaza Strip.

“The non-stop escalation in Gaza is part of [Israel’s] escalation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” government spokesman Yousef al-Mahmoud said in a statement.

He held the Israeli government responsible for the safety of Palestinians and their property in the seaside enclave.

“Israel is continuing to violate international law and regulations and is committing crimes against the Palestinian people,” he said.

Israeli warplanes carried out a series of airstrikes across the Gaza Strip on Wednesday in response to rocket fire into southern Israel.

One person was killed in the Israeli attacks, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

The Israeli army said it bombed 20 targets throughout Gaza, including an underground tunnel, going on to hold Palestinian group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, for the escalation.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman also announced on Wednesday that all crossings into Gaza were being shut and the fishing zone around the Palestinian territory was being limited.

Since March, more than 200 Palestinians have been martyred and thousands more injured by Israeli army fire in anti-occupation protests along Gaza border.

Demonstrators demand an end to Israel’s 12-year Gaza blockade and the right to return to their homes in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.

Palestinians bury Gazan youth martyred by Israel

By Nour Abu Aisha

GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) – Scores of Palestinians on Wednesday paid farewell to a youth martyred by an Israeli airstrike in the northern Gaza Strip.

Naji al-Zaanin, 25, was martyred in the Israeli strike that targeted the northern city of Beit Lahia.

On Wednesday, the Israeli army carried out a series of attacks in the Palestinian territory in response to rocket fire into southern Israel.

In a statement, the military said it bombed 20 targets throughout Gaza and held Palestinian group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, responsible for the escalation.

Since March, more than 200 Palestinians have been martyred and thousands more injured by Israeli army fire in anti-occupation protests along Gaza border.

Demonstrators demand an end to Israel’s 12-year Gaza blockade and the right to return to their homes in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.

UPDATE – Gazan martyred in fresh Israeli airstrike

*UPDATES WITH ISRAELI ARMY STATEMENT

By Nour Abu Aisha and Hani al-Shaer

GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) – A Palestinian man was martyred in a fresh Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

In a statement, the ministry identified the victim as Naji al-Zaanin, 25, in the attack that targeted the northern city of Beit Lahia.

The Israeli military confirmed the airstrike, saying it targeted a group of Palestinians trying to fire rockets into Israeli territory.

Early Wednesday, the Israeli army carried out a series of airstrikes in Gaza in response to rocket fire, injuring three people, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

The Israeli military said on Twitter it started attacking targets in Gaza in response to rocket fire into the city of Be’er Sheva.

In a statement, the military said it bombed 20 targets throughout Gaza, including an underground tunnel, going on to hold Palestinian group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, for the escalation.

“There are only two organizations in Gaza that have this caliber of rocket: Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” said military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus. “It’s not hard to narrow down who’s behind it.”

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman also announced on Wednesday that all crossings into Gaza were being shut and the fishing zone around the Palestinian territory was being limited.

Since March, more than 200 Palestinians have been martyred and thousands more injured by Israeli army fire in anti-occupation protests along Gaza border.

Demonstrators demand an end to Israel’s 12-year Gaza blockade and the right to return to their homes in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.

Palestinian factions slam rocket fire into Israel

By Nour Abu Aisha

GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) – Palestinian resistance factions said rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel undermines Egyptian efforts to achieve inter-Palestinian reconciliation and truce with Israel.

In a statement on Wednesday, the factions said they “reject all irresponsible attempts that seek to sabotage the [Egyptian] effort.”

An Egyptian security delegation arrived in Gaza on Tuesday for talks with Hamas officials regarding inter-Palestinian reconciliation and truce with Israel.

In their statement, the Palestinian factions affirmed their readiness to “confront all Israeli aggression”.

Early Wednesday, the Israeli army carried out a series of airstrikes in Gaza in response to rocket fire, killing one man and injuring three people, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman also announced on Wednesday that all crossings into Gaza were being shut and the fishing zone around the Palestinian territory was being limited.

Since March, more than 200 Palestinians have been martyred and thousands more injured by Israeli army fire in anti-occupation protests along Gaza border.

Demonstrators demand an end to Israel’s 12-year Gaza blockade and the right to return to their homes in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.

Gazan martyred in fresh Israeli airstrike

By Nour Abu Aisha and Hani al-Shaer

GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) – A Palestinian man was martyred in a fresh Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

In a statement, the ministry identified the victim as Naji al-Zaanin, 25, in the attack that targeted the northern city of Beit Lahia.

The Israeli military confirmed the airstrike, saying it targeted a group of Palestinians trying to fire rockets into Israeli territory.

Early Wednesday, the Israeli army carried out a series of airstrikes in Gaza in response to rocket fire, injuring three people, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

The Israeli military said on Twitter it started attacking targets in Gaza in response to rocket fire into the city of Be’er Sheva.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman also announced on Wednesday that all crossings into Gaza were being shut and the fishing zone around the Palestinian territory was being limited.

Since March, more than 200 Palestinians have been martyred and thousands more injured by Israeli army fire in anti-occupation protests along Gaza border.

Demonstrators demand an end to Israel’s 12-year Gaza blockade and the right to return to their homes in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.

Israel conducts airstrike on Gaza Strip

By Hamdi Yildiz

GAZA, Palestine (AA) – Israel conducted an airstrike on the Gaza Strip early Wednesday, according to the Israeli army.

The army said on its Twitter account that Israeli warplanes attacked terror targets in retaliation for a rocket fired overnight from Gaza. No additional details were provided.

Local sources said several points were hit, including some in the south.

The Israeli army said earlier in a statement that a rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip at the Israeli city of Be’er Sheva.

Gazan officials have yet to issue a statement on the attack.