Days after concert, Gaza’s grand piano seized by merchant

In this Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. file photo, Japanese pianist Kaoru Imahigashi plays the piano during a concert to mark the debut of Gaza's only grand piano after it was rescued from conflict, at a theater nestled in the Palestinian Red Crescent Society's building in Gaza City. (AP)
Updated 28 November 2018
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Days after concert, Gaza’s grand piano seized by merchant

  • The instrument is now locked up in storage amid a bitter property dispute, inaccessible to the young students who had hoped to practice on it

GAZA CITY: A local businessman on Wednesday seized the Gaza Strip’s only grand piano, claiming he owned the instrument, just days after it made its public debut in a landmark concert following a complicated international restoration effort.
Sunday’s recital provided a lucky audience a rare opportunity to see a live concert in Gaza, whose cultural offerings have greatly dwindled since the Hamas militant group seized power in 2007. The Edward Said Conservatory, which sponsored the concert, had proudly showed off the piano, hoping to make it the centerpiece of Gaza’s only music school.
But the fanfare over the piano’s revival was short-lived. The instrument is now locked up in storage amid a bitter property dispute, inaccessible to the young students who had hoped to practice on it.
“The piano should return to the conservatory for the benefit of all students,” said Ismail Daoud, the director of the music school.
It was the latest twist in a long saga for the piano. Japan donated the black Yamaha 20 years ago — when Gaza was governed by the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority. It was housed in a theater at the Al-Nawras resort in northern Gaza.
Business slowed after the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule in 2000. After Hamas ousted the Palestinian Authority in 2007, the resort eventually closed. The piano was nearly destroyed in Israeli airstrikes that badly damaged the theater during wars in 2008 and 2014.
The Belgian charity Music Fund sent foreign experts two times to Gaza, which is blockaded by Israel and Egypt, to renovate the piano. The mission finished last month. Gaza is a densely populated territory of 2 million people.
On Sunday, 300 fans filled a Gaza hall to watch Japanese and Palestinian artists perform around the piano.
Fayez Sersawi, the Culture Ministry official who received the Japanese gift in 1998, told the crowd Sunday that the piano “is returning to where it should be — the Edward Said Conservatory.”
But on Wednesday, local merchant Saed Herzallah took the piano from the conservatory and brought it back to the abandoned resort.
Herzallah said he bought the property in 2011 “with everything on it, including the piano.” He said he is renovating the resort and plans to put the piano in a wedding hall where students can come play on it.
Daoud, the music school director, said the resort is far away, hard to reach for students and its humid conditions will damage the piano.
Sersawi, whose ministry is still controlled by the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, accused the businessman of “threatening” staff of the business school and committing “piracy.”
“We don’t accept this. This is an immoral act,” he said. “The ministry will do everything possible to bring the piano back.”


Iran can expand range of ballistic missiles: Guards commander

Updated 10 December 2018
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Iran can expand range of ballistic missiles: Guards commander

  • The Iranian government has ruled out negotiations with Washington over its military capabilities
  • Last month, Hajjizadeh said that US bases in Afghanistan, the UAE and Qatar, and US aircraft carriers in the Gulf were within range of Iranian missiles

GENEVA: Iran has the ability to build ballistic missiles with a broader range, a senior commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards said on Monday, according to the semi-official Fars News agency.
Iran’s missiles currently cover a range of 2000 kilometers (1,240 miles) and many “enemy bases” are within 800 kilometers of the Islamic Republic, Amirali Hajjizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guards’ airspace division, was cited as saying.
US President Donald Trump pulled out of an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program in May and reimposed sanctions on Tehran. He said the deal was flawed because it did not include curbs on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles or its support for proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.
“We have the ability to build missiles with a broader range,” Hajjizadeh said, according to Fars News. He added, “We don’t have limitations from a technical perspective or by conventions with regard to missile range.”
The Iranian government has ruled out negotiations with Washington over its military capabilities, particularly its missile program run by the Guards.
Last month, Hajjizadeh said that US bases in Afghanistan, the UAE and Qatar, and US aircraft carriers in the Gulf were within range of Iranian missiles.
In October, the Revolutionary Guards fired missiles at Daesh militants in Syria after the extremist group took responsibility for an attack at a military parade in Iran that killed 25 people, nearly half of them members of the Guards.