Israel closes people crossing with Gaza

The border was closed after a weekend of demonstrations. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)
Updated 19 August 2018
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Israel closes people crossing with Gaza

  • Border protests and clashes on Friday left two Palestinians dead by Israeli gunfire
  • Israel’s army said firebombs and IEDs were also hurled at the border fence

JERUSALEM: Israel closed its only crossing for people with the Gaza Strip on Sunday except for humanitarian cases after border clashes, the latest tightening of its blockade on the Palestinian enclave.
The move could prevent Gazans from traveling via the crossing for this week’s Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha, which runs from Monday night until Thursday night, but Israeli officials did not say how long the closure would last.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a statement the closure was due to “violent incidents on the border last Friday.”
Border protests and clashes on Friday saw two Palestinians killed by Israeli gunfire.
Israel’s army said firebombs and improvised explosive devices were also hurled at the border fence, while a number of Palestinians briefly crossed into Israeli territory. No Israelis were reported wounded.
The closure and border incidents occurred despite attempts by Egypt and UN officials to reach a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the blockaded Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian Authority civilian affairs office in Gaza also confirmed the closure except for medical cases and Palestinians seeking to cross back into the enclave.
Israel has enforced an air, land and sea blockade on the Gaza Strip for more than a decade, but grants permission to a limited number of people to cross for various reasons.
The two sides have fought three wars since 2008.
Israel had just last week reopened its only goods crossing with Gaza after closing it to most deliveries for more than a month over border tensions.
Gaza’s only other border is with Egypt.
Egypt’s Rafah crossing with Gaza had largely been kept closed in recent years, but Cairo opened it in mid-May and it is has mostly remained so since.
Protests and clashes began on the Gaza border on March 30 and have continued at varying levels since then.
At least 171 Gazans have been killed by Israeli fire during that time. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper in July.
There have also been several severe military flare-ups, including three since July.
The latest was on August 9, when Israel responded to some 180 rockets and mortars fired from Gaza with widespread air strikes.
UN officials and Egypt have been seeking to secure a long-term truce between Hamas and Israel to allow for humanitarian issues in the impoverished enclave of two million people to be addressed.
Israel is demanding calm and a return of the remains of two soldiers Hamas is believed to be holding.
Two Israeli civilians, both said to be mentally unstable, are also believed to have entered Gaza and to be held by Hamas. Israel is also seeking their return.
Senior Hamas official Khalil Al-Hayya told AFP on Friday that he believed a durable truce with Israel was near.
He said that UN and Egyptian talks taking place in Egypt with various Palestinian factions have “taken a big step forward toward understandings with the occupation... and the possibility of restoring calm.”
An Israeli official said on condition of anonymity Wednesday that an initial set of “understandings” had been reached with the help of the UN and Egypt, leading to several days of calm on the border last week and the opening of the goods crossing.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has however expressed concern over any agreement that bypasses the Palestinian Authority.
Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah, based in the occupied West Bank, have been deeply divided for more than a decade.


Qatari tribe continues campaign for justice at UN in Geneva

Updated 6 min 27 sec ago
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Qatari tribe continues campaign for justice at UN in Geneva

  • Al-Ghufran traibe present their case in front of the international community to hold Qatar accountable
  • The tribe revealed the crimes against humanity committed by Qatari authorities

GENEVA: Members of a tribe persecuted for more than 20 years by authorities in Qatar appealed for help on Friday from the special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
It was the latest stage in a campaign for justice by the Al-Ghufran tribe, whose members have been stripped of their nationality and suffered torture, forced displacement and deportation.
A delegation from the tribe has taken their case to the 39th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. They said they sought international assistance only after years of being ignored by the government of Qatar, and when they realized that the Qatari Human Rights Council was in league with the regime in Doha to deny them their rights as Qatari citizens.
A member of the tribe, Gaber Saleh Al-Ghufrani, also appealed to the people of Qatar for help. “We call on the elders of the honorable Al-Thani family and to the generous and righteous people of Qatar and to the Al Murrah tribe, known for their nobility and chivalry,” he said.
“We call on you as your brothers, young and old, elders and children, men and women, inside and outside Qatar, and we appeal to your proud Arab origin because the Qatari government has let us down, made untrue claims about us and stripped us of our rights.
“We have been subjected to much injustice and humiliation in our homeland from those who, unfortunately, we thought to be virtuous. We have been discriminated against in the most painful of ways; they have stripped us of our dignity.
“We chose to go to the United Nations and to the international human rights organizations only after the government of our own country closed all ways of appeal, and did not engage or listen to our demands.”
The tribe’s ordeal began in 1996, when some of their members voiced support for Sheikh Khalifa Al-Thani, the Qatari emir deposed the previous year by his son Hamad, father of the current emir, Sheikh Tamim.
About 800 Al-Ghufran families, more than 6,000 people, were stripped of their citizenship and had their property confiscated. Many remain stateless, both in Qatar and in neighboring Gulf countries.
“They have taken away our social, political and economic rights,” said
Jabir bin Saleh Al-Ghufrani, a tribal elder, at a press conference on Thursday. “The Al-Ghufran tribe has been subjected to unjust treatment.
“I left on a vacation in 1996, and now I can never go back to my country. I can go to any place on this earth, but not my home, not Qatar.”
Members of the delegation produced passports, certificates and other documents to show that their right to Qatari citizenship was being denied.
“I ask for my rights. Our people have been asking for our rights for a very long time now and no one has even explained to us why this is happening to us,” said Hamad Khaled Al-Araq.
Another member of the tribe, Hamad Khaled Al-Marri, said on Friday:
“Our issue with the Qatar regime is purely humanitarian and not political, this is why we came here to present our case and our demands to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Our demands are clear: The Qatar regime should be held accountable for the crimes that it has committed against us and other Qataris, and the restoration of our rights.”