Israel announced on Sunday a land appropriation in the occupied West Bank that an anti-settlement group termed the biggest in 30 years, drawing Palestinian condemnation and a U.S. rebuke.
Some 988 acres in the Etzion Jewish settlement bloc near Bethlehem were declared “state land, on the instructions of the political echelon” by the military-run Civil Administration.
"We urge the government of Israel to reverse this decision,” a State Department official said in Washington, calling the move "counterproductive" to efforts to achieve a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.
Israel Radio said the step was taken in response to the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish teens by Hamas militants in the area in June.
Tensions stoked by the incident quickly spread to Israel’s border with Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, and the two sides engaged in a seven-week war that ended on Tuesday with an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire.
Showing 27 posts tagged egypt
Egyptian authorities stopped the executive director of Human Rights Watch and another U.S. staffer from entering the country Monday ahead of the release of a critical report by the group on mass killings by security forces last summer, the group and security officials said.
This is the first time Egyptian authorities have stopped staffers from the New-York based group from entering the country.
Executive Director Kenneth Roth and Middle East and North Africa Director Sarah Leah Whitson were to brief diplomats and journalists on the findings of their investigation into the bloody events in July and August last year following the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
The report, which was to be launched Tuesday, documents the deaths of hundreds killed in six different incidents, including in one security raid on a sit-in of Morsi supporters at Cairo’s Rabaah el-Adawiyah Square described by Human Rights Watch as the worst massacre in Egypt’s modern history.
In a statement Monday, Human Rights Watch said Egypt’s police and army “methodically opened fire with live ammunition,” killing at least 1,150 protesters during the dispersals of the sit-in and five other demonstrations. No one has been held accountable for the crackdown and no formal investigation has been made public.
A wall painting, dating back over 4,300 years, has been discovered in a tomb located just east of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
The painting shows vivid scenes of life, including boats sailing south on the Nile River, a bird hunting trip in a marsh and a man named Perseneb who’s shown with his wife and dog.
While Giza is famous for its pyramids, the site also contains fields of tombs that sprawl to the east and west of the Great Pyramid. These tombs were created for private individuals who held varying degrees of rank and power during the Old Kingdom (2649-2150 B.C.), the age when the Giza pyramids were built. [See Images of the Painting and Giza Tomb]
The new painting was discovered in 2012 by a team from the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, which has been excavating these tombs since 1996.
Hamas rejected an Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire with Israel that was to take effect Tuesday, saying Cairo did not consult the group over the deal. Israel accepted the truce plan, but warned it would strike Gaza hard if Hamas didn’t abide by it.
Militants from Gaza fired five rockets at Israel, shortly after the Egyptian-proposed starting time for a gradual de-escalation on Tuesday morning.
The military wing of Hamas, which has been responsible for most of the hundreds of rockets launched at Israel in the past week said the Egyptian plan “wasn’t worth the ink it was written with.”
However, Hamas didn’t close the door to negotiations on ending a week of fighting that killed at least 192 Palestinians and exposed millions of Israelis to rocket fire.
The militant group appeared to be holding out for better cease-fire conditions, with senior officials saying the current proposal offers no tangible achievements, particularly on easing a border blockade of Gaza enforced by Israel and Egypt.
Hamas also wants to be recognized by Egypt as a partner in any truce efforts. Sami Abu Zuhri, a senior Hamas official in Gaza, said the movement was not consulted by Egypt.
An Egyptian court convicted three Al-Jazeera journalists and sentenced them to seven years in prison each on terrorism-related charges in a verdict Monday that stunned their families and was quickly denounced as a blow to freedom of expression. International pressure mounted on Egypt’s president to pardon the three.
The verdicts against Australian Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohammed came after a 5-month trial that Amnesty International described as a “sham,” calling Monday’s rulings “a dark day for media freedom in Egypt.”
The three, who have been detained since December, contend they are being prosecuted simply for doing their jobs as journalists, covering Islamist protests against the ouster last year of President Mohammed Morsi. Three other foreign journalists, two Britons and a Dutch citizen, were sentenced to 10 years in absentia.
Media groups have called the trial political, part of a fight between the government and the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network , which authorities accuse of bias toward the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi. The network denies any bias.
Prosecutors charged them with supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been declared a terrorist group, and with fabricating footage to undermine Egypt’s national security and make it appear the country was facing civil war. But the prosecution presented little evidence in the trial.
Former Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi won a landslide victory in a presidential election on Thursday but a low turnout may have deprived him of the strong mandate he needs to fix the economy and face down an Islamist insurgency.
Sisi won 93.3 percent of votes cast, judicial sources said, with most ballots counted after three days of voting. His only rival, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, gained 3 percent while 3.7 percent of votes were declared void.
But a lower-than-expected turnout figure raised questions about the credibility of a man idolized by his supporters as a hero who can deliver stability.
The stakes are high for Sisi in a country where street protests have helped topple two presidents in three years.
State TV says Egypt’s election commission has extended voting in the presidential election for a third day amid reported low turnout.
Government officials, media and the military harangued voters to go to the polls Tuesday in what was supposed to be the final day of the vote, worried that turnout was weaker than expected. The front-runner, former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, is trying to garner an overwhelming show of support.
Monitoring groups and el-Sissi’s rival candidate reported low turnout by early Tuesday. Closer to sunset, numbers increased.
The election commission extended the voting one more day, Wednesday, citing complaints that migrant workers have been unable to vote where they reside because of laws making doing so difficult.
Death, chaos and grief grip Cairo
Photographer Mosa’ab Elshamy captured haunting (and graphic) images of violence and sadness that tore through Cairo as government forces clashed with Muslim Brotherhood supporters and backers of deposed President Mohammed Morsi at a sit-in outside the Rabaa mosque. Click here to see more photos.