Al Jazeera

Israel to keep control of Gaza access

Israel has said it will probably retain control of Gaza skies and territorial waters after the implementation of its withdrawal plan from the area. “I think it is very likely that we will continue to control the skies and territorial waters of Gaza,” Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said on Tuesday. Mofaz did not say if Israeli troops would completely leave the Rafah border crossing as the Egyptians had been demanding. The defence minister told the Israeli cabinet on Monday that Tel Aviv could not allow a free flow of goods and services between Gaza and the rest of the world, suggesting that “alternative border crossings” be created where Israel can control cross-border movements between Gaza and Egypt. 

Interview: Mohammad Samhouri is handling the Gaza disengagement

Mohammad Samhouri has been assigned the task of coordinating the withdrawal on the Palestinian side. Samhouri, a US-educated economist by training, oversees a team of 40 experts who are handling the post-disengagement process, including what’s to be done with the evacuated land and remaining assets. Al Jazeera’s Laila El-Haddad spoke with Samhouri in his Gaza office about the disengagement that is set to start August 15, the importance of free access for Palestinians and the future of Palestinian economy. Mohammad Samhouri: Before we begin, I just want to give you some advice to make your job easier. Don’t ask me political questions, because I don’t have political answers. 

Palestinian factions are gearing up for celebrations with election campaigns

With less than two weeks left before Israel evacuates the Gaza Strip, Palestinian factions are gearing up for celebrations with publicity campaigns that are equally intended to win Palestinian votes. The Palestinian Authority, which is spending an estimated $1.7 million on withdrawal celebrations, kicked-off its campaign on Thursday with an event it called a liberation and evacuation festival, held in front of Gaza city’s Legislative Council. In addition to the festival, the PA’s Withdrawal Committee, headed by Dahlan, launched a massive UNDP-funded publicity campaign this week under the slogan Gaza - Reclaiming Our Gem. They plan to wave 20,000 Palestinian flags during the evacuation. 

Palestinians say peace with Israel is no longer within the realm of possibility

The proposed expansion of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank has convinced many Palestinians, intellectuals and laymen alike, that peace with Israel is no longer within the realm of possibility. A general belief among Palestinians is that the Israeli plan to “disengage” from Gaza is primarily aimed at consolidating Israel’s grip on the West Bank. Recent polls in Palestine have shown that a majority of Palestinians are convinced that a genuine peace with Israel - that is, one based on UN resolutions 242 and 338 and the land-for-peace formula - is no longer possible. As many as 65% of Palestinians in the occupied territories said they did not believe that a “permanent peace with Israel was possible”. Only 3.1% of respondents said such a peace was possible. 

Tear gas injures Palestinian protesters

Israeli soldiers have injured five Palestinian villagers after firing tear gas at the group protesting against a settlement road project threatening their land. Palestinians from the village of Kfar Harrs, along with foreign and Israeli activists, were marching towards a roadblock that cuts off traffic to the entrance of their village, when they were approached by Israeli forces on Monday. Soldiers then fired tear gas canisters directly at the crowd, according to Nasfat Khofash, coordinator of the Palestinian Committee Against the Wall in the Salfit area. Four adults and one child were injured, said Khofash. An Austrian peace activist was also arrested and detained in the nearby settlement. 

Gaza fishermen's livelihood on the line

Though one of Gaza’s oldest active fishermen, Suheil Sa’dallah spends most of his time loitering around Gaza’s makeshift fisherman’s port, where dozens of docked boats, including his own, bob gently in the sea. In the face of stringent Israeli restrictions on Palestinian fishing zones, and the absence of a modern industrial port, many fishermen there, like Sa’dallah, can no longer make a living. He talks about the days their catches exceeded 700kg a day “of every fish your heart desires”, when the only limit on fishing zones were as far as the eye could see. A new port would mean better equipment, modern storage facilities for importing and exporting fish, and assuming Israeli restrictions are lifted, improved catches. 

Israeli soldier kills four in bus attack

An Israeli soldier has been stoned to death by an angry crowd after he killed four Israeli Arabs and injured 13 others on board a bus. The shooting on Thursday took place on bus 165, which shuttles between a Druze neighbourhood of the northern Israeli Arab town of Shafa Amr and nearby communities. Four people were killed, including the driver. Police said the four apparently were all Shafa Amr residents. Israel Radio said the gunman - who police said wore a skullcap, identifying him as an Orthodox Jew - was later bludgeoned to death by an angry crowd. Medical sources said three of the wounded were listed in critical condition. Two policemen were among the wounded. 

Palestinians protest Gaza smokescreen

Palestinians have burned rubber tyres along the trail of the Israeli separation barrier in the West Bank in a symbolic protest against its ongoing construction under the smokescreen of the Gaza pullout. Black smoke seen rising along the wall’s path from the areas of Marda to Qalandia in the Central West Bank on Thursday was an “SOS to the world” to take action to stop Israel’s annexation of their land and “imprisonment of the Palestinian people”, according to Ayed Morrar, coordinator of the Popular Committee to Resist the Wall in Ram Allah. 

Rice in talks with Palestinian leaders

In talks scheduled with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas will seek to obtain assurances that Israel will stick to the peace plan. Rice met Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, together with several Palestinian cabinet ministers on Saturday, at the start of a day-long series of talks. Later she was to meet President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Interior Minister Nasser Yousef, who is responsible for the Palestinian security forces, amid signs the Palestinians were buckling under heavy Israeli and US pressure to clamp down on resistance groups such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. 

Teenager killed at Israeli checkpoint

A Palestinian teenager has been shot dead while trying to pass an Israeli occupation forces checkpoint in the Gaza Strip. The shooting on Monday occurred as Israel continued its closure on the Gaza Strip for the fifth day in a row, dividing the strip into three areas and shooting at commuters who try to cross. The Matahen and Abo Holi checkpoints, just north of the town of Khan Yunus, have been closed since Thursday, a day after a Qassam rocket killed an Israeli woman in the Negev town of Sderot, according to Palestinian police officials. The two checkpoints divide southern Gaza from the central and northern parts of the strip.