Palestinian fishermen decry Israel’s ban on Gaza exports as collective punishment

Palestinian fishermen decry Israel’s ban on Gaza exports as collective punishment
Palestinian fishermen unload their catch from their nighttime fishing trip at the seaport in Gaza City. (AP)
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Updated 07 September 2023
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Palestinian fishermen decry Israel’s ban on Gaza exports as collective punishment

Palestinian fishermen decry Israel’s ban on Gaza exports as collective punishment
  • New restrictions choke off the territory’s already ailing economy
  • Come on top of punishing 16-year blockade Israel, Egypt have maintained since Hamas seized control

KHAN YOUNIS: Israel closed the main commercial crossing in the Gaza Strip, effectively banning exports from the coastal territory after saying it had uncovered explosives in a shipment of clothes to the occupied West Bank. Gaza’s fishermen, with their perishable exports, were among the first to feel the pain.
The new restrictions choke off the territory’s already ailing economy. They come on top of the punishing 16-year blockade that Israel and Egypt have maintained since the Islamic militant group Hamas seized control of the enclave in 2007.
The blockade, which Israel says is needed to prevent Hamas from arming, severely limits the movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza.
Israel closed the Kerem Shalom cargo crossing late on Monday after saying it had discovered explosives hidden in a shipment of Zara jeans and other clothing bound for the West Bank — one of the main markets for Gaza’s tiny export sector. Israeli officials fear the explosives were bound for Palestinian militants in the West Bank. Israel has not said when the crossing will reopen.
Palestinian fishermen, businessmen and rights advocates condemned Israel’s latest measure as a form of collective punishment against Gaza’s 2 million people, including tens of thousands of laborers who heavily depend on exports to Israel and the West Bank to stay afloat. Nearly all the goods that enter and exit Gaza pass through Kerem Shalom.
Gaza’s 4,000 fishermen, with their perishable exports, condemned the ban.
“Now I can’t make a living,” said Khalid Al-Laham, 35, from his bare home in the southern town of Khan Younis as his five children scurried around him. “I have to borrow food from the shops.”
The struggle also has reached Gaza’s wealthiest traders.
“Fish are completely different from any product, it’s sensitive,” said Mohammed Abu Hasira, a 38-year-old owner of a popular Gazan fish restaurant near the Mediterranean. “They should punish those who are at fault. Why are we being punished with them?”
Abu Hasira’s plans to export truckloads of seafood on Thursday were thwarted by the Israeli decision, he said. Within moments, his profits evaporated and costs skyrocketed.
Overall, the measure has caused 26 tons of fish to rot and resulted in $300,000 in weekly losses, Gaza’s main fishermen’s union said.
The restrictions represented a reversal of recent Israeli military moves to ease the blockade to relieve economic pressure on Gaza to prevent tensions from boiling over into another bloody conflict.
Israel now allows some 21,000 Gazan laborers to enter Israel for work, and in July, Israel issued hundreds more permits. Over 90 percent more people left the strip than during the same time last year, according to the United Nations humanitarian office.
But now Gaza’s 4,000 fishermen and others affected by the Israeli measure said they’ve again been subsumed into a larger political struggle that has nothing to do with them.
Israel says the closure was intended to deter militants from sneaking explosives through the crossing and to press the strip’s Hamas rules to crack down on the smuggling.
“The defense establishment will not allow terror organizations to take advantage of civilian and humanitarian facilities,” Israel’s defense ministry said.
But the move, rights groups said, also laid bare Israel’s inability to provide an effective answer to the security incidents and to address Gaza’s underlying problems.
“Instead of finding proportionate and reasonable measures, it just imposes sweeping measures and punitive closings,” said Miriam Marmur, a spokeswoman for Gisha, an Israeli human rights group.
Under the blockade, Gaza’s businessmen have grappled with what they describe as exasperating bureaucratic controls and routine indignities.
Fishermen say their struggle reflects how the blockade has damaged a vital part of Gaza’s economy. In July, fish accounted for 6 percent of all exports, according to the UN
The restrictions have prevented them from importing engines, fiberglass, and other materials needed to repair their dilapidated boats. The naval blockade limits how far out into the Mediterranean Sea the fishermen can go – and how much and what type of fish they can catch. If they drift too close to the boundaries, they risk being shot at or having their boats seized by the Israeli navy.
In an upscale tower just blocks away from the seaport, Muhammad Al-Ghussein, an engineer and spokesperson for the Palestinian Businessmen Association, said all merchants in Gaza shared the fishermen’s concerns.
“Halting exports is like dealing a fatal blow to a sector that’s already dying,” he said.


Israeli strikes target Lebanon’s Baalbek for first time since Gaza war

Israeli strikes target Lebanon’s Baalbek for first time since Gaza war
Updated 26 February 2024
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Israeli strikes target Lebanon’s Baalbek for first time since Gaza war

Israeli strikes target Lebanon’s Baalbek for first time since Gaza war
  • The strikes are among the deepest into Lebanon since the Israel-Hamas war began more than four months ago
  • Israel’s air force carried out three airstrikes on the outskirts of the village of Buday, near Baalbek, targeting a convoy of trucks

BEIRUT: The Israeli military said Monday its air force was striking targets of the militant Hebollah group “deep inside Lebanon,” where residents reported explosions near the northeastern city of Baalbek.
The strikes are among the deepest into Lebanon since the Israel-Hamas war began more than four months ago. They come a day after Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant vowed to step up attacks on Lebanon’s Hezbollah even if a cease-fire is reached with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Lebanese security officials said Israel’s air force carried out three airstrikes on the outskirts of the village of Buday, near Baalbek, targeting a convoy of trucks. Buday is a Hezbollah stronghold. There was no immediate word on casualties.
A Hezbollah official confirmed that three strikes hit near Baalbek. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.
The Israeli army said further details will follow.
The airstrikes near Baalbek came hours after Hezbollah said its fighters on Monday shot down an Israeli drone over its stronghold in a province in southern Lebanon. Anotehr missile fired by Hezbollah toward the drone was intercepted by Israel, and landed near a synagogue in a town close to Nazareth in northern Israel. There were no injuries or damage.
Hezbollah has been exchanging fire with Israeli troops along the border since the Israel-Hamas broke on Oct. 7.
The strike on Baalbek, because of its location deep inside Lebanon, is the most significant one since the early January airstrike on Beirut that killed top Hamas official Saleh Arouri.
Hezbollah, which has been exchanging fire with Israel throughout the war in Gaza, has said it will halt its nearly daily attacks on Israel if a cease-fire is reached in Gaza.


Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh resigns

Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh resigns
Updated 26 February 2024
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Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh resigns

Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh resigns
  • Move comes amid growing US pressure on President Mahmoud Abbas to shake up Palestinian Authority
  • Shtayyeh says he is resigning to allow broader consensus among Palestinians following Israel’s war on Gaza

RAMALLAH: Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Monday he was resigning to allow for the formation of a broad consensus among Palestinians about political arrangements following Israel’s war against the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza.
The move comes amid growing US pressure on President Mahmoud Abbas to shake up the Palestinian Authority as international efforts have intensified to stop the fighting in Gaza and begin work on a political structure to govern the enclave after the war.
His resignation must still be accepted by Abbas, who may ask him to stay on as caretaker until a permanent replacement is appointed.
In a statement to cabinet, Shtayyeh, an academic economist who took office in 2019, said the next stage would need to take account of the emerging reality in Gaza, which has been laid waste by nearly five months of heavy fighting.
He said the next stage would “require new governmental and political arrangements that take into account the emerging reality in the Gaza Strip, the national unity talks, and the urgent need for an inter-Palestinian consensus.”
In addition, it would require “the extension of the Authority’s authority over the entire land, Palestine.”
The Palestinian Authority, formed 30 years ago under the interim Oslo peace accords, exercises limited governance over parts of the occupied West Bank but lost power in Gaza following a struggle with Hamas in 2007.
Fatah, the faction that controls the PA, and Hamas have made efforts to reach an agreement over a unity government and are due to meet in Moscow on Wednesday. A senior Hamas official said the move had to be followed by a broader agreement on governance for the Palestinians.
“The resignation of Shtayyeh’s government only makes sense if it comes within the context of national consensus on arrangements for the next phase,” senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters.


UAE floating hospital begins operations at Al-Arish to treat Palestinian patients

UAE floating hospital begins operations at Al-Arish to treat Palestinian patients
Updated 26 February 2024
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UAE floating hospital begins operations at Al-Arish to treat Palestinian patients

UAE floating hospital begins operations at Al-Arish to treat Palestinian patients

AL-ARISH: A floating hospital provided by the UAE, anchored in Egypt’s Port city of Al-Arish, commenced operations on Sunday to provide treatment for injured Palestinians.

The initiative is a part of the UAE’s “Gallant Knight 3” humanitarian operation.

The 100-bed hospital has operating rooms, an intensive care unit, radiology section, laboratory and pharmacy, state news agency WAM reported.

A 20-year-old Palestinian man was the first to undergo surgery at the hospital. He was treated for a gunshot wound to the shoulder and injuries caused by shrapnel.

Doctors repositioned his shoulder, and he will require a follow-up operation to repair nerve damage.

The floating hospital was established in cooperation with the Department of Health - Abu Dhabi and AD Ports Group. It is being staffed by 100 medical workers who are skilled in anesthesia, general surgery, orthopedics, and emergency medicine.

Dr. Falah Al-Mahmoud, director of the hospital, said the facility would help alleviate the suffering of Palestinians.

Dr. Falah Al-Mahmoud, director of the hospital, said the facility would help alleviate the suffering of Palestinians. (WAM)

 


Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh resigns

Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh resigns
Updated 26 February 2024
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Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh resigns

Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh resigns
  • Palestinian PM says ‘new political measures’ needed amid Gaza war
  • The move comes amid growing US pressure on President Mahmoud Abbas to shake up the Palestinian Authority

RAMALLAH: Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Monday he was resigning to allow for the formation of a broad consensus among Palestinians about political arrangements following Israel’s war against the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza.
The move comes amid growing US pressure on President Mahmoud Abbas to shake up the Palestinian Authority as international efforts have intensified to stop the fighting in Gaza and begin work on a political structure to govern the enclave after the war.
His resignation must still be accepted by Abbas, who may ask him to stay on as caretaker until a permanent replacement is appointed.
In a statement to cabinet, Shtayyeh, an academic economist who took office in 2019, said the next stage would need to take account of the emerging reality in Gaza, which has been laid waste by nearly five months of heavy fighting.
He said the next stage would “require new governmental and political arrangements that take into account the emerging reality in the Gaza Strip, the national unity talks, and the urgent need for an inter-Palestinian consensus.”
In addition, it would require “the extension of the Authority’s authority over the entire land, Palestine.”
The Palestinian Authority, formed 30 years ago under the interim Oslo peace accords, exercises limited governance over parts of the occupied West Bank but lost power in Gaza following a struggle with Hamas in 2007.
Fatah, the faction that controls the PA, and Hamas have made efforts to reach an agreement over a unity government and are due to meet in Moscow on Wednesday. A senior Hamas official said the move had to be followed by a broader agreement on governance for the Palestinians.
“The resignation of Shtayyeh’s government only makes sense if it comes within the context of national consensus on arrangements for the next phase,” senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters.


Yemen’s Houthis announce first civilian death in US-UK strikes

Yemen’s Houthis announce first civilian death in US-UK strikes
Updated 26 February 2024
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Yemen’s Houthis announce first civilian death in US-UK strikes

Yemen’s Houthis announce first civilian death in US-UK strikes
  • One person was killed and eight wounded a day after US and British forces said they fired on 18 targets
SANAA: Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia have reported the first civilian death in US and British air strikes after the latest round of joint raids over the weekend.
One person was killed and eight wounded, the Houthis’ official news agency said late on Sunday, a day after US and British forces said they fired on 18 targets across the country.
The US-British strikes were in response to dozens of Houthi drone and missile attacks on Red Sea shipping since November, which the rebels say are in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza war.
“The American-British aggression on the district of Maqbana in the governorate of Taiz has left one civilian dead and eight wounded,” the Houthis’ Saba agency said, citing a statement from the rebel-run health ministry.
The Houthis, who control war-torn Yemen’s most populated areas, have previously reported the death of 17 of their fighters in the Western strikes targeting military facilities.
The Houthi attacks have had a significant effect on traffic through the busy Red Sea route, forcing some companies into a two-week detour around southern Africa. Last week, Egypt said Suez Canal revenues were down by up to 50 percent this year.
Washington, Israel’s vital ally, gathered an international coalition in December to protect Red Sea traffic. It has launched several rounds of strikes as well as four joint raids with Britain, which began last month.
The Houthis initially said they were targeting Israel-linked shipping in the Red Sea and adjoining Gulf of Aden, but then declared that US and British interests were also “legitimate” targets.