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Israel announces tighter restrictions for Palestinian workers; threatens to revoke permits
Ma`an
Date: 01 / 05 / 2009 Time: 09:53
http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=37479

Bethlehem - Maan - Israeli authorities announced tighter restrictions for Palestinians working in Israel on Labour Day Friday, including the possible revocation of permits if the holder returns to the West Bank after curfew.

The restrictions come as Israel installs new computer systems at thirteen military checkpoints between the West Bank, Israel and Jerusalem. Palestinians will no longer be able to enter Israeli controlled areas by points other than those outfitted with computers.

According to the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics 74,000 Palestinians work in Israel, about three-quarters of who are from the West Bank. The working permits of many West Bankers stipulate that its holder must leave Israel before six or eight oclock.

Under the new system limits and parameters of permits for many Palestinians will change, and for some who arrive at the checkpoints later than the time stamped on their permits, papers may revoked for a week or even permanently. Many permit holders expect the new system will limit further Palestinian access to the western side of the separation wall.

Israeli authorities have been vague on details of the new systems, but have instructed all Palestinians with permits to enter Israeli-controlled areas to register in the new system. The controls are being overseen by Israeli General of the Central Command Ghadi Chamani and the head of the Civil Administration in the West Bank Yoav Mordechai.

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UN demands Israel to freeze pending demolishing orders of East Jerusalem homes
by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies
Friday May 01, 2009 11:42
http://www.imemc.org/article/60204

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs called on Israel to freeze demolishing orders against dozens of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem. The Office added that the Palestinians can only build on 13% of Jerusalems lands while the Jewish settlements occupy more than 35% of Jerusalem.


The UN office reported that this policy is illegal and comes in direct violation of the International Law.

The UN report said that the houses of more than 60.000 Palestinians in Jerusalem are facing demolition and that the Jerusalem municipality lacks proper investment and construction plans for the overcrowded Palestinian neighborhoods.

The UN added that the situation of Palestinian neighborhoods is worsening especially since many Palestinian residents of Jerusalem living near of the Annexation Wall had to move into the Old City in order to avoid being separated from the City.

The UN office stated that the Jerusalem Municipality only grants 100 to 150 construction permits for the Palestinians each year, while the number of construction permits submitted to the municipality increased from 138 to 283, Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported.

The report also revealed that in the first quarter of 2009, Israeli authorities demolished 25 Palestinian residential buildings in the E1 area between Maaleh Adumim settlement and East Jerusalem.

Israel still intends to demolish 3000 homes in Area C which is under Israeli military and civil control, and occupies 60% of the West Bank.

The United Nations said that between the years 2000 and 20007, the Israeli Civil Administration office, which is under the Israeli Military Control, rejected 94% of Palestinian applications for construction permits in area C.

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Palestine UN mission: `Occupation stepping up settlements, especially in Jerusalem`

by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News Report
Friday May 01, 2009 07:28
http://www.imemc.org/article/60201

The acting head of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations, Fida` Abdul-Hadi Nasser, sent letters to the UN Secretary-General, to the head of the Security Council and to the head of the UN General Assembly informing them that the illegal Israeli measures and the ongoing settlement construction and expansion, especially in Jerusalem, are increasing the suffering of the Palestinians.

In her letter, Abdul-Hadi said that Israel is stepping up its illegal settlement activities, and is demolishing Palestinian homes in Jerusalem, an issue which comes in direct violation to the international law.

Nasser added that after the Annapolis Summit of 2007 Israel stepped up its illegal settlement activities in direct violation to the International Law, the Fourth Geneva Conventions, UN resolutions and the Road Map Peace Plan.

She stated that the new Israeli government approved on April 26 the construction of 6000 homes for Jewish settlers on 12.000 Dunams of Palestinian lands. Israel issued the construction orders in order to expand the Maaleh Adumim settlement bloc, the second biggest settlement bloc in the occupied West Bank.

Nasser further said that the Palestinian Authority repeatedly warned that settlements, the Annexation Wall and other illegal Israeli activities, especially in Jerusalem, are meant to block the geographical contiguity on the Palestinian territories, and pose serious threats on the two-state solution.

She added that the settlers are carrying repeated attacks against the Palestinians and are encouraged to carry further attacks due to the positions of the Israeli government and the previous governments.

`The Israeli settlements, the illegal Israeli policies, and the siege on the Gaza Strip are direct violations to the International Law and the basic principles of Human Rights`, Nasser stated, `These acts prove once again that the occupation is ongoing with its disregard to human rights and to the peace process`.

At the end of her statement, Nasser said that the Palestinian people are expecting the International Community and the Security Council to fulfill their responsibilities, stop the Israeli violations, and end the Israeli occupation.

She further said that Israel should be held responsible for war crimes against the Palestinian people.

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Abbas to form a broad government soon
by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies
May 1, 2009
http://www.imemc.org/article/60200

Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, intends to name a Prime Minister, who will most likely be an independent figure, to form a broad Palestinians government that includes Hamas and other factions.
President`s spokesperson, Nabil Abu Rodeina, denied media reports that claimed that Abbas will ask Dr. Salaam Fayyad, who resigned on March 7 from the Prime Minister`s post, to form a new government that would exclude members of Hamas movement.

`The president intends to form a broad government`, Abu Rodeina said, `News on excluding Hamas are not true`.

When Fayyad submitted his resignation, President Abbas asked him to remain in his post until the end of unity talks between Fateh and Hamas movements, held under Egyptian mediation.

The two movements are scheduled to hold a new round of talks in Cairo on May 16.

On Monday, Abbas called on the Palestinian factions, holding talks in Cairo, to achieve a unity deal that would lead to the creation of a government that includes all factions.

Hamas and Fateh could not dissolve some of the main points of conflict and decided to delay the talks until April 16.

Meanwhile, Hamas movement slammed the Ramallah government for reports that stated that Abbas wants to reassign Fayyad as a Prime Minister.

Hamas said that this is considered another blow to all efforts to achieve internal unity.

Hamas legislator, Moshir Al Masry, told the Quds Press that forming a new government in the West Bank without achieving a unity deal violates the Palestinian constitution and the Palestinian laws.

Al Masry added that Hamas enjoys an overwhelming majority in the legislative council and added that any government that does not receive a vote of confidence from the legislative council will be illegitimate.

Al Masry also said that Abbas` term in office had expired, and that he cannot form a government or issue presidential decrees in this regard.
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Unemployment rate in Gaza 65%, poverty 80%
by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies
May 1, 2009
http://www.imemc.org/article/60199

The Palestinian Chamber of Commerce in Gaza reported on Wednesday that unemployment rates in the Gaza Strip reached 65%, and that poverty rates are now 80%, due to the ongoing Israeli-led siege and repeated assaults.


The Chamber added that the rates will most likely increase as the siege is still ongoing.

It added that, according to official statistics, the number of unemployed Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is about 200.000,

Furthermore, 80% of the residents in Gaza depend on humanitarian aid provided by different relief groups such as the World Food Program and the UNRWA.

The ongoing siege forced 96% of the factories and industrial areas in the Gaza Strip to shut down as the closure of border terminals blocked exports and also blocked imports of tools and equipment needed by the factories to continue the production process.
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Settlers attack homes in Safa village, near Hebron
IMEMC & Agencies
May 1, 2009
http://www.imemc.org/article/60197

Palestinian sources in the southern West Bank city of Hebron reported on Thursday at night that a group of extremist Israeli settlers of Beit Ein settlement attacked a number of homes in Safa village, near the city.

The sources added that at least twenty armed settlers opened fire at a number of homes and set ablaze and agricultural land.

Dozens of residents tried to stop the settlers and gathered in the street of the village to defend their homes.

Later on, Israeli soldiers arrived in the area and closed roads linking Safa village with the nearby Beit Ummar town.

Settlers of Beit Ein settlement carried repeated attacks over the last two weeks and uprooted hundreds of olive and almond trees, in addition to uprooted grapevines that belong to the villagers.

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Gaza still waiting for pledged aid - UN official
Reuters
Thu Apr 30, 2009 12:35pm EDT
http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSLU966708

BRUSSELS, April 30 (Reuters) - None of a $4.5 billion package of reconstruction aid recently pledged for the Gaza Strip has got through because of border restrictions, a top U.N. official said on Thursday.

International donors pledged the aid money in March to help the Palestinian economy and rebuild Gaza after a three-week Israeli military offensive.

But John Ging, head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, said Gaza had still not benefited from any of the aid because of restrictions on the flow of goods into the territory.

`There is no prospect of recovery or reconstruction until we can get access for construction materials,` Ging said.

`Billions of dollars were pledged for recovery and reconstruction and yet none of that can actually connect with those whose lives were destroyed,` he told a news briefing during a trip to European Union headquarters in Brussels.

Israel has said it had opened Gaza`s border to larger amounts of food and medicine since the December-January offensive against Hamas militants who control the Palestinian enclave and were firing rockets against Israeli towns.

The war destroyed some 5,000 homes and, according to figures from a Palestinian rights group, killed over 1,400 people.

Since Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in a 2007 civil war with Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas`s secular Fatah faction, Israel has tightened its blockade of the 30-mile (45-km) strip in an effort to weaken Hamas`s hold on power.

Egypt has also restricted crossings at its border with Gaza.

Ging said the international community should find a solution to the border crossings issue and provide more access to goods and services for the inhabitants of Gaza.

`Today the money is out there in pledges and the people of Gaza continue to subsist in the rubble of their former lives and the attention of the world has sadly moved on, which compounds the despair that people feel,` he said.

Robert Serry, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said on a visit to Gaza on Thursday the situation was alarming and warned that issues such as Palestinian reconciliation and secure borders had to be addressed.

`In the absence of real progress on issues like Palestinian reconciliation, open crossings, secure borders and a prisoners exchange, the potential for renewed violence is ever-present,` Serry said in a statement. (Reporting by Bate Felix; editing by Mark John and Charles Dick)

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Contaminated drinking water in Gaza
IRIN, Apr 30, 2009
http://imeu.net/news/article0016348.shtml


Gaza-strip-sewage.jpg
Part of Gaza`s fragile water and sewage network, which was damaged during the 23-day Israeli offensive which began on 27 December 2008. (IRIN)

UN agencies and the health ministry in Gaza are working to strengthen communicable disease surveillance systems in Gaza, in light of the fact that leaking sewage may be contaminating drinking water.

The fragile water and sewage network was damaged during the recent 23-day Israeli offensive in Gaza, increasing public health risks, according to a recent report by the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) cluster, entitled A Brief Outline of the Sewage Infrastructure and Public Health Risks in the Gaza Strip for the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WASH group, led by the UN Children`s Fund (UNICEF), coordinates the humanitarian response by local and international organisations and UN agencies active in the water and sanitation sector in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

`WHO is now analyzing if the risk of outbreak of waterborne and food-borne diseases in Gaza is still high,` said Mahmoud Daher, WHO officer in Gaza, explaining that the risk was high during the conflict because drinking water was not being properly chlorinated due to movement restrictions.

`During the recent war there was a mixing of drinking water with raw sewage in the Sheikh Ajleen area of Gaza City and in Beit Hanoun after a waste water carrier in Gaza City and a water and waste water carrier in Beit Hanoun were destroyed by Israeli forces during the first week of the war,` said Coastal Municipal Water Utility (CMWU) director Monther Shoblak.

CMWU has asked WASH to carry out a comprehensive year-long survey on the underground water in Sheikh Ajleen and Beit Hanoun. WASH is structuring the project, said WASH director Graham Henderson in Gaza.

About 32,000 Palestinians live in Beit Hanoun and about 410,000 in Gaza City.

Two other high risk areas are Khan Younis and Beit Lahiya where the sewage system is leaking, potentially contaminating drinking water, WASH and WHO in Gaza reported.

Nitrates

`The relatively high nitrate level in well water in Gaza may be related to sewage infiltration from waste water treatment plants,` said Henderson.

Nitrates are considered a dangerous water pollutant - potentially carcinogenic - according to Shoblak, and most threatening for children under six months old.

`Seventy percent of the drinking water samples tested over the past two years in the health ministry lab have shown nitrate levels higher than WHO standards [50 milligrams of nitrates per litre],` said WHO officer Daher.

New project proposed

WASH is supporting the WHO and Gaza health ministry in preventing major outbreaks of disease, and is proposing an emergency project - estimated at US$1 million - to strengthen and monitor health ministry disease surveillance systems across the Strip, said Henderson, including surveillance by the health clinics and labs that perform testing for the health ministry to diagnose illnesses and measure water quality.

`Food and water monitoring by the health ministry resumed post-conflict, although the system is negatively affected by the long-term border closures and the subsequent lack of necessary materials,` said Daher.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza operates a long-standing clinic surveillance system through 20 reporting units at health centres in Gaza, according to WASH.

Fifty-four primary healthcare clinics and 13 hospitals under the health ministry, and 30 primary healthcare clinics and 14 hospitals run by NGOs or privately require a stronger disease surveillance system, say WHO officials in Gaza.

About 80,000 cubic metres of raw sewage is being discharged into the Mediterranean at six main points along Gaza`s coast every day, presenting a major health risk to the Gaza population, according to the WASH report.

2009 IRIN [This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.]

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