J.Post/UN official calls on Hamas to halt public executions/AFP: Israeli planes target Gaza sites after rocket attack/New Israeli coalition ‘raises questions’: US


UN official calls on Hamas to halt public executions
Jerusalem Post/May 26/16

A high level UN official on Wednesday issued a number of rare criticisms against Hamas in Gaza for holding public executions and using civilian cement for military purposes. “I urge Hamas not to carry out these executions and I call on [PA] President [Mahmoud] Abbas to establish a moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty,” UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process Nikolay Mladenov told the Security Council in New York. “International law limits the application of the death penalty to the “most serious crimes” and pursuant to a trial and appeals process that scrupulously follow fair trial standards,” Mladenov said. “I have serious doubts as to whether capital trials in Gaza meet these standards,” he said.
Even more alarming, he added, were reports of public executions.

“This raises even more alarms as public executions are prohibited under international human rights law,” Mladenov said in a speech in which he spent more time criticizing Hamas in Gaza than Israel. The decision to carry out these executions was taken without Abbas’ required approval, which raises concerns about the continued split between Fatah and Hamas, Mladenov said.
“Palestine is one and Gaza and the West Bank are its two integral parts,” he said. Mladenov also called on “individuals” and “groups” in Gaza to ensure that cement was used, as intended, to help rebuild Gaza homes and was not diverted for military purposes. “All sides need to ensure that cement is used for civilian purposes only. Individuals or groups seeking to benefit from the deviation of construction materials — for corruption, for building tunnels, or other reasons — must understand that they selfishly compound the suffering of their own people and sow the seeds of future violence,” he said.

“Palestinians in Gaza are growing ever more desperate, seeing their prospects for living a normal life and recovering their economy blocked by Hamas’s military build-up, by Israel’s security measures and closures, by the lack of Palestinian unity, and the insufficient fulfillment of aid pledges by donors,” Mladenov said. There must be an end to Gaza’s chronic water and energy crisis, said Mladenov as he explained that most people in Gaza only have eight to 12 hours of electricity. Earlier this month, he said, three children were burned to death when a fire broke out in their home, which was ignited by the candles the family used during a power outage.

“It is deeply regrettable that some factions sought to use this tragedy to trade accusations and score political points, instead of uniting to address the energy crisis,” he said.
Violence between Israel and Gaza increased in May, he said, adding that it was the largest such escalation since the Gaza war ended in the summer of 2014. Israel carried out 14 incursions into Gaza to two destroy two military tunnels and to look for others. The IDF also carried out 13 airstrikes.Palestinians in Gaza fired 40 mortars and eight rockets into Israel, Mladenov said. “Recent events clearly demonstrate that the specter of violence looms ominously over the territory. Unless radically more is done to address the chronic realities in Gaza, it is not a question of ‘if’, but rather of ‘when’ another escalation will take place,” Mladenov added.

 Israeli planes target Gaza sites after rocket attack
AFP, Gaza Thursday, 26 May 2016/The Israeli air force carried out attacks on the Gaza Strip early on Thursday in response to a rocket attack targeting the Jewish state, the army and Palestinian sources said. The rocket, which had hit an open area in southern Israel, caused no damage or casualties. In response to it, the Israeli air force “targeted two Hamas sites in the southern Gaza Strip,” the military said in a statement. According to the Israeli army, since the beginning of 2016, nine projectiles fired from the Gaza Strip hit Israel. The army “holds Hamas accountable for all attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip,” it said. Palestinian security officials said the Israeli raids targeted Hamas military sites in Nuseirat and Rafah, causing no casualties. Earlier this month, a four-day flare-up of border duels between Israel and Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas constituted the heaviest exchanges of fire between the two sides since the 2014 Gaza war that killed 2,251 Palestinians and 73 Israelis.


 New Israeli coalition ‘raises questions’: US
AFP, Washington Wednesday, 25 May 2016/The United States said Wednesday that the make-up of Israel’s new right-wing coalition raises “legitimate questions” about the government’s commitment to a two-state solution in its conflict with the Palestinians. In a rare comment on the internal politics of a US ally, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Washington had “seen reports from Israel describing it as the most right-wing coalition in Israel’s history.””And we also know that many of its ministers have said they oppose a two-state solution. This raises legitimate questions about the direction it may be headed in and what kind of policies it may adopt.”The spokesman also restated the United States’ support for a negotiated end to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians based on two states living side by side within agreed borders. Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had named hardline nationalist Avigdor Lieberman as defense minister and welcomed lawmakers from his Yisrael Beitenu party to the ranks of his coalition. Netanyahu has continued to insist that he wants to negotiate peace with the Palestinians, but Lieberman’s arrival in the cabinet has raised concerns inside and outside of Israel that it will toughen its stance. “Ultimately we’re going to judge this government based on its actions,” Toner said. “We are going to work with this government as we have worked with every Israeli government that preceded it with the goal of strengthening cooperation. And we remain steadfast in our commitment to the security of Israel and to the two-state solution.”A senior Palestinian official said on Wednesday the appointment of a hardline right-winger as Israel’s defense minister represents a “real threat” to regional stability.
“The existence of this government brings a real threat of instability and extremism in the region,” Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told AFP, adding that the appointment would “result in apartheid, racism and religious and political extremism.”