Palestine: Israel army shoots dead Palestinian in Gaza

2014-11-24 06:13:01 | Al Muslim News
Palestine: Israel army shoots dead Palestinian in Gaza


Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian farmer near the border in northern Gaza on Sunday, medics said, as Palestinians in the war-battered enclave use local resources to build temporary homes. Gaza’s health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra identified the dead man as 32-year-old Fadel Mohammed Halawa, saying the bullet had hit him in the back. Qudra said the bullet appeared to have been fired from a nearby Israeli army watchtower at a man who was farming land near the border fence. Sunday’s incident was the first time a Palestinian from Gaza had been killed by Israeli fire since an Israeli summer offensive ended on August 26 with the an Egypt-brokered ceasefire agreement. For 51 days this summer, Israel pounded the Gaza Strip by air, land and sea. More than 2,160 Gazans, mostly civilians, were killed – and 11,000 injured – during seven weeks of unrelenting Israeli attacks in July and August. The ceasefire agreement calls for reopening Gaza’s border crossings with Israel, which, if implemented, would effectively end the latter’s years-long blockade of the embattled territory. In addition, the sides were supposed to have resumed talks on some of the thornier outstanding issues within a month, but the deadline has been repeatedly delayed. The truce also stipulated that Israel would immediately expand the fishing zone off Gaza’s coast, allowing fishermen to sail as far as six nautical miles from shore, and would continue to expand the area gradually. However, since the ceasefire was signed, Israeli naval forces have fired at many fishermen who they claim have ventured beyond the newly-imposed limit of six nautical miles. Last month, the head of the Gaza fishermen syndicate accused Israel of constantly violating the terms of the agreement. “Since signing the truce, the Israeli army has violated (the agreement) many times, arresting fishermen and destroying a giant fishing boat, in addition to firing at fishermen on a daily basis,” he said. There are an estimated 4,000 fishermen in Gaza. According to a 2011 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross, 90 percent are poor, a 40 percent increase from 2008. This change is believed to be a direct result of Israeli limits on the fishing industry. The eight-year Israeli blockade has severely crippled Gaza’s economy and contributed to the frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gaza residents. In face of siege, displaced Gazan uses local resources to build home Israel also agreed to allow construction material into Gaza. But two months after the war ended, Israel continued to block the entry of building material, prompting the UN in September to broker another deal. The reconstruction of Gaza has yet to begin. Rather than waiting for construction material to be allowed into the strip, a displaced Palestinian man from Jabaliya in northern Gaza has recently built a house using limestone and sand. Mishref al-Irr’s homes was destroyed by Israel this summer. Due to the Israeli siege on Gaza, which severely limits imports of construction material into the territory, he was not able to rebuild his home. With the help of a Palestinian architect, al-Irr recently decided to build a new house with natural material instead of cement. The architect, Imad al-Khalidi, used limestone and sand to build al-Irr’s temporary home. “Houses that are built using limestone and sand are strong and hold for hundreds of years,” al-Khalidi said. He encouraged other Palestinians to use available resources to build shelters for those displaced by Israel’s war on the Strip, but not as a substitute for Gaza reconstruction, which has been promised by the international community. UN chief Ban Ki-moon said during a visit to the Gaza Strip in October that the devastation he had seen was “beyond description” and “far worse” than that caused in the previous Israel-Gaza conflict of winter 2008-2009. According to the UN, as many as 80,000 Palestinians homes were damaged or destroyed during the days of hostilities, a higher figure than was previously thought, and over 106,000 of Gaza’s 1.8 million residents have been displaced to UN shelters and host families. Al-Irr says the new home is not a permanent replacement for the one that was destroyed. “It is a place to keep out of the hot sun in summer and the cold in winter until our home is rebuilt,” al-Irr told Ma’an news agency, adding that “two more wars have passed and we are still waiting for our home to be rebuilt” with proper materials. According to Palestinian Authority, rebuilding Gaza will cost $7.8 billion. Israel routinely bars the entry of building materials into the embattled coastal enclave on grounds that Palestinian resistance faction Hamas could use them to build underground tunnels or fortifications. For years, the Gaza Strip has depended on construction materials smuggled into the territory through a network of tunnels linking it to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. A recent crackdown on the tunnels by the Egyptian army, however, has effectively neutralized hundreds of tunnels, severely affecting Gaza’s construction sector. Israel ‘indirectly’ killing Gazans after truce The Gaza Strip is still littered with a large number of unexploded Israeli shells, one of which recently killed 4-year-old Mohammed Sami Abu-Jrad from the northern Gaza city of Beit Hanoun. Although Gaza police explosives teams have been working across the territory to destroy unexploded ordnance and prevent safety threats to locals, lack of proper equipment due to the seven-year Israeli siege as well as lack of resources more generally have hindered efforts. Even before the most recent Israeli assault, unexploded ordnance from the 2008-9 and 2012 offensives was a major threat to Gazans. A 2012 report published by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that 111 civilians, 64 of whom were children, were casualties to unexploded ordnance between 2009 and 2012, reaching an average of four every month in 2012. Watch groups have warned that the ordinance can be a particular threat to children, who often think the bombs are toys. During the 50-day war, according to UN figures, at least 505 Palestinian children were killed. The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said 138 UNRWA students were killed during the assault and UNRWA spokesperson Christopher Gunness said that an additional 814 UNRWA students were injured and 560 have become orphans due to the Israeli onslaught..

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