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"I can't believe I'm still alive"


Twelve-year-old Huda Mohammed al-Awadi is recovering on the fourth floor of Gaza City’s Shifa hospital, after being shot by gunmen on 11 December. Huda, who lives in Gaza City’s Omar Al-Mukhtar Street, was hit in the left leg and right foot by gunfire as she was walking to the Cairo Elementary School in the west of the city during an attack that left three children of a senior member of the Palestinian Fatah movement, Baha Balousheh, and their driver dead. She told IRIN of her fear that she could be killed at any instant in a place where security has virtually disappeared. 

Gaza violence shuts schools


Thousands of Gaza children stayed away from class on Sunday and Monday after the United Nations closed schools to protect staff and pupils from rampant street violence. Three children were killed and others wounded in a morning shooting outside a Gaza City school on 11 December. It is still not clear who was responsible for the shooting. John Ging, head of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza, told IRIN that the risk of more chaos in some areas was too great to allow children back on the streets. “A large number of schools had to be closed today because we would not place children at risk of being caught up in the crossfire or anything else. And that again is a tragedy for these kids who should be in the classroom rather than at home,” he said. 

"Nobody cares about refugees from Gaza"


I have been struggling to feed my family since my husband died. UNRWA [United Nations Agency for Relief and Work for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] does not provide me with financial assistance and officials from the Jordanian government say I do not qualify for social aid like many widows in this country because I do not have Jordanian nationality. I am paying the price of my parent’s decision to come to Jordan after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Refugees who came to the country after that date were given temporary passports but not Jordanian nationality, contrary to those who arrived in Jordan after [the Arab-Israeli conflict in] 1948. 

General Assembly adopts resolutions criticizing Israeli actions against Palestinians


The General Assembly has adopted several resolutions criticizing Israeli actions in the occupied Palestinian territory, in particular by reiterating its call for a complete halt to all settlement activity and calling on the Government to ensure the safety of United Nations staff providing humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians. These resolutions were among two dozen adopted yesterday, along with two draft decisions, covering a wide range of issues, including decolonization, UN information policy, the peaceful use of outer space and others, which were recommended for action by the Assembly’s Special Political and Decolonization (Fourth) Committee. 

UN peacekeeping force tops 11,000


The enhanced United Nations peacekeeping force sent to Lebanon this summer to monitor the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hizbollah now totals surpasses 11,000 troops from 23 countries, less than 4,000 below its mandated maximum strength. The current total of 11,018 consists of 9,124 ground troops and 1,747 naval personnel entrusted with stopping arms smuggling off the coast, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) reported today. Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended 34 days of fighting in August, strengthened UNIFIL to a maximum of 15,000 troops and mandated a complete Israeli withdrawal, together with Lebanese army deployment in southern Lebanon. 

Palestinian refugees fear for their lives after recent attack


Palestinian refugees living in Iraq say there is increasing fear in their community after a recent attack on a predominantly Palestinian Baghdad neighbourhood left nine people dead and several injured, including children. “We are getting worried about our situation in Iraq. We cannot leave the country because the borders are closed to us and the government doesn’t give us any hope that it can increase our security,” said Ahmed Muffitlak, spokesman for the Baghdad-based Palestinian Muslims Association (PMA). On 13 December, local militia attacked the al-Baladiya district of the capital, where hundreds of Palestinians have lived for years. 

Who has failed?


Just prior to 1948, the Palestinians realized that they were about to get rid of the British colonial hegemony that began in 1917, yet they woke up on the day the Britons left to another occupation, called Israel. Since that year, Palestinians began all over again to fight for their sovereignty over their ancestral lands; however, despite recent peace agreements with their occupiers, they have not so far attained that sovereignty. The international community, which clearly concedes the Palestinians’ legitimate right to fight the occupation on the path to freedom and statehood, has so far not been able to involve itself actively to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. 

Palestinian Human Rights Groups Call for National Dialogue


The undersigned Palestinian human rights NGOs express their grave concern over the deterioration in the internal security situation, which has mounted to the peak in the past few days due to the political tension between Hamas and Fatah movements resulted from the failure of the two movements to agree on the formation of a national unity government. Tension between the two movements has escalated since Thursday, 14 December 2006, in light of mutual accusations for responsibility for the failure to reach an agreement on the formation of a national unity government. 

When Human Rights Watch Equates Aggressor with the Aggrieved


We are writing to you to express our reservations on the HRW news item of 22 November 2006 entitled: “OPT: Civilians Must Not Be Used to Shield Homes Against Military Attacks,” discussing HRW’s position on Palestinian civilians acting against the destruction of civilian homes by Israeli forces in Gaza. The HRW news item is self-contradictory and full of inconsistencies. While pointing that Israeli army destruction of civilian homes is illegal in the absence of concrete evidence indicating that these homes are legitimate military targets, HRW claims that unarmed civilian protest and action against these illegal Israeli activities is a “war crime!” 

PCATI comments on judicial approval of assassination policy


The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) that filed the petition against the assassinations policy of the State of Israel in January, 2002, regrets that that the ruling of the panel of High Court of Justice justices headed by former Chief Justice, Aharon Barak, did not outline a clear set of criteria that permit or forbid “targeted assassinations”, or extrajudicial executions, in a way that would prevent the killing of innocent civilians. According to PCATI’s data, since the beginning of the second Intifada, and following the first targeted assassination on 9 November 2000, approximately 500 Palestinians were killed during targeted assassinations, including 168 innocent civilians.