How Israel bought off UN's war crimes probe

Israeli diplomats suggested on Sunday that Washington had promised the Palestinian Authority, in return for delaying an inquiry into accusations Israeli war crimes committed in the Gaza Strip, that the US would apply “significant pressure” on Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, to move ahead on a diplomatic process when the US envoy, George Mitchell, arrives in the region tomorrow. But, according to Israeli and Palestinian analysts, diplomatic arm-twisting was not the only factor in the PA’s change of heart. Jonathan Cook reports. 

Jerusalem Palestinians defining their own future

OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM (IPS) - Almost a year ago a barely noticed event took place in Sawarha, a Palestinian neighborhood in the Israeli-occupied part of the city. On that November day, Israeli Jerusalemites were voting in a new mayor and a new city council. On that same day, in this neighborhood home to 25,000, people were ignoring the Israeli-run elections. Instead, they were focused on electing their own local council. 

No windows, pens in Gaza's classrooms

GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IRIN) - Some 1,200 students at al-Karmel High School for boys in Gaza City returned to class on 25 August without history and English textbooks, or notebooks and pens — all unavailable on the local market. Severe damage to the school, caused during the 23-day Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip which ended on 18 January, has yet to be repaired. Al-Karmel’s principal, Majed Yasin, has had to cover scores of broken windows with plastic sheeting. 

Gaza mothers, newborns struggle under siege

GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IRIN) - Inadequate infrastructure, lack of equipment and a shortage of hospital staff are contributing to the deterioration of hospital care for mothers and newborns in Gaza, according to a July 2009 assessment by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Jerusalem. WHO attributes the dismal state of Gaza’s healthcare system to the Israeli blockade since June 2007, when Hamas took over control of the territory. 

In Gaza, only cancer sufferers get only painkillers

GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IRIN) - Arafat Hamdona, 20, has been confined to the cancer unit of al-Shifa, Gaza’s primary hospital, since he was diagnosed with maxillary skin tumors in June 2008. Red lesions protrude from his face, his features are distorted and his eyes swollen shut. “He is only given pain killers,” said Arafat’s father, Faraj Hamdona, explaining that it is all al-Shifa has to offer. 

Fatah conference leaves problems unresolved

WASHINGTON (IPS) - Mahmoud Abbas, the 74-year-old leader of the Palestinian Fatah movement, registered a significant achievement in holding the movement’s Sixth General Conference, which has been wrapping up its business in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank this week. But veteran Palestinian analysts say Abbas’s biggest internal political challenges still lie ahead. 

Egyptian opposition condemns gas deal with Israel

CAIRO (IPS) - Opposition figures and political activists have slammed a new deal to sell Egyptian liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Israel at what they say are vastly reduced prices. “Egyptian gas is being sold to Israel at prices far below the international average,” Ibrahim Yosri, former head of legal affairs and treaties at the Egyptian Foreign Ministry told IPS. “This agreement is proof that the ruling regime is unconcerned with public opinion and is insistent on depriving the Egyptian public of its rightful national assets.” 

Cleaning up explosives in Gaza

GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IRIN) - The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has begun removing 600,000 metric tons of rubble and debris left over from Israel’s winter invasion of the Gaza Strip. More than six months later, the most deadly threat to civilians emanates from unexploded ordnance in rubble and underground. 

Egyptian opposition branded "terrorist"

CAIRO (IPS) - The Egyptian government is now accusing the Muslim Brotherhood of links to Palestinian resistance groups and of establishing “global networks.” Recent months have seen a host of government accusations — which critics say are fabricated — against opposition groups it claims have ties with Hamas, Hizballah, and the ever-elusive al-Qaeda. “The government is making up so many charges of ‘terror networks’ and ‘Islamist cells’ that it’s hard to keep track of them all,” Islamist lawyer Montasser al-Zayat told IPS