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Irish aid ship seized by Israeli Naval Forces

The Rachel Corrie, an Irish aid ship, was seized by the Israeli Naval Forces, as it attempted to challenge the blockade of Gaza.

The military said its forces boarded the 1,200-ton MV Rachel Corrie cargo ship from the sea, not helicopters. It was intercepted in international waters, about 20 miles (30 kilometers) from Gaza’s shore. The Israeli military reports the soldiers didn’t meet any resistance.

Passengers include Irishman Dennis Halliday, a former assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, and the Northern Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Mairead Corrigan Maguire. And a group of Irish and Malaysian pro-Palestinian activists. Read More…

Egypt to open Rafah Border Crossing for humanitarian and medical aid

Egypt will open a Gaza Strip crossing for humanitarian and medical aid.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ordered the opening of the Rafah Border Crossing. Food and medical supplies will be allowed, but not concrete or steel. It will be made available for ill and injured Palestinians seeking medical treatment.

Rafah is the only point on the Gaza border not controlled by Israel; a 2005 agreement put the Palestinian and Israel in charge of the border, with observation from the European Union. United Nations officials had demanded an end to the Gaza blockade. Read More…

Hamas accuses Egypt of using lethal gas on tunnel

Palestinian smugglers in the Gaza Strip are facing a deadly crackdown from Egypt.

The Islamic militant group Hamas says Egyptian forces pumped gas into a Gaza smuggling tunnel, killing four Palestinians. Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, accused Egypt of committing a “terrible crime” and of killing the Palestinian workers “in cold blood.”

Speaking at a Gaza news conference, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called for an investigation and demanded that those responsible to be brought to justice.

There are hundreds of tunnels under the Gaza border with Egypt aimed at bypassing a crippling Israeli blockade. The tunnels bring in food, gasoline and other goods, but are also used by Hamas to smuggle guns, ammunition and rockets. Read More…

Israel seals off West Bank

Fearing fresh protests from Palestinians, Israeli forces have moved to close the West Bank for 48 hours, preventing Palestinians from entering.

West Bank Barrier

The protests have been sparked by a recent decision to include the Al-Aqsa mosque as an Israeli heritage site, as well as a plan by Israel to add up to 1,600 settlement homes in the West Bank.

The Al-Aqsa mosque is a holy site for both Muslims and Jews, however Muslims fear that along with the rest of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa is to be annexed and claimed by Israel. It has been a flash point for conflict during the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, sparking the Second Intifada in 2000.

Only worshipers with an Israeli identity card and age 50 or over were allowed to pray today at the mosque. In response, Palestinian youths have reportedly thrown rocks at Israeli soldiers, and several Palestinians have been badly wounded. Read More…

On this day November 29, 1947

The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine (General Assembly Resolution 181) is approved by the General Assembly on this day to terminate the British Mandate of Palestine by August 1, 1948, and facilitate the creation of two states, one Jewish and one Arab.

The plan was approved by a vote of 33 to 13, with 10 abstentions. On March 5, 1948, the United Nations Security Council reached an impasse when it refused to pass a resolution which would have accepted the partition plan as a basis for Security Council action.

The United States subsequently recommended a temporary UN trusteeship for Palestine “without prejudice to the character of the eventual political settlement”, and the Security Council voted to send the matter back to the General Assembly for further deliberation.

Home demolitions in East Jerusalem continue

Despite international calls for an end to home demolitions in East Jerusalem, Israeli authorities tore down five Palestinian homes yesterday; claiming they were built illegally. These home demolitions come after repeated calls from the UN and international community to stop settler activity and home demolitions.

The five demolitions took place early morning. Israeli authorities said the homes lacked a permit and therefore were built illegally. Palestinians claim it is nearly impossible to obtain a permit for their homes from the Israeli authorities who rule the area. Palestinians tried to repel the Israeli authorities with rocks but were summarily dispersed and the demolitions went ahead as planned. Read More…

Israel cabinet rejects UN war crimes report

The Israeli cabinet has rejected last week’s resolution of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which endorsed a report accusing the state of war crimes during the Gaza conflict, accusing the UN of a double standard.

The cabinet said that that the army’s three-week assault on the Gaza Strip last December and January was legitimate self-defense.

“Israel will defend itself at any price,” said Cabinet Minister Yossi Peled. “This is a duty and a right.” Read More…