Palestinian family killed by NATO in Tripoli!

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A PALESTINIAN family of four was killed in a NATO airstrike on Monday in the Libyan capital Tripoli, according to the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The ministry explained in a statement published on Tuesday by the government news agency Wafa, that the International Red Crescent Association had relayed the news.

The family, according to Wafa’s report, had lived in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, before moving to Tripoli.

Palestinian ambassador to Libya Atif Udah told Ma’an radio the family was in a three-story building targeted by a NATO air attack.

He identified the victims as Abdullah Muhammad Ash-Shihab, his wife Karima and his six-month-old twins Khalid and Jumanah.

He noted that President Mahmud Abbas asked the foreign ministry and the embassy in Libya to send a protest note to NATO, the Red Cross and the UN.

Earlier in June, Ma’an spoke to the PA’s Minister of Interior Sa’id Abu Ali about the status of Palestinian communities in Arab countries experiencing revolutions, such as Yemen and Libya.

He said that there was a special military committee that monitors Palestinian communities and provides help in moving them to safer areas.

Libyan officials reported that 15 civilians were killed on Monday in a NATO airstrike on Tripoli.

NATO has been carrying out strikes against Libya since May, assisting counter-revolutionary forces calling for the ousting of the country’s leader Muammar Gadaffi.

Meanwhile, several American Jews are to board a US boat planning to join a flotilla of about 10 ships seeking to breach Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza later this month, an organiser said on Monday.

‘We are seeking justice for Gaza,’ Leslie Cogan told reporters, noting that the boat will have 36 passengers, four crew members and nine journalists when it sets sail for the Palestinian coastal enclave.

She said 28 per cent of the passengers were American Jews.

‘It’s important that Jews are in this boat . . . The Jewish lobby in this country is so powerful,’ said New York labour attorney Richard Levy, himself Jewish.

‘We cannot support an Israeli blockade which is morally and juridically unsupportable . . . No more people should be slaughtered in the name of the Jews.’

The US boat ‘The Audacity of Hope’ will sail from Athens to join around 10 ships carrying some 500 to 600 pro-Palestinian activists from 22 countries, Cogan said.

The boats are leaving various Mediterranean ports as part of the ‘Freedom Flotilla II’ aimed at breaking the Israeli blockade.

Cogan said the American ship will carry some 3,000 messages from the American people to the people of Gaza in what she called ‘a cargo of friendship, a cargo of peace’.

They will try and reach the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip a year after a previous attempt ended when Israeli troops stormed the lead ship, the Mavi Marmara, and shot dead nine Turkish activists.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged all governments concerned by the plans to try to discourage the new flotilla from being launched out of fear it could degenerate into violence.

Israel’s navy chief had recently urged international powers to stop the flotilla from sailing, saying that it was ‘driven by hate’.

The official also claimed that ‘a humanitarian crisis in Gaza is non-existent.’

l The Palestinian leadership is to continue its pursuit of support for an appeal to the UN for membership and the recognition of statehood, and Salam Fayyad will head the new unity government, President Abbas told the Lebanese satellite channel LBC on Monday night.

In the absence of negotiations with Israel, Abbas said, a move at the UN would be the chosen course of action. If the United States, Israel and Europe have objections to a UN appeal, he continued ‘they must come up with an alternative’.

Addressing the issue of a resumption of talks, and the continued Israeli refusal to halt settlement construction on Palestinian lands occupied in 1967, Abbas once again justified his position that Palestinians could not return to talks unless the construction stopped, saying, ‘I cannot go like a blind man into negotiations without a source of authority and without a halt to construction in the settlements.’

On the postponed announcement of a unity transitional government, Abbas said that ‘despite Hamas’s opposition, Salam Fayyad will head the Palestinian transitional government’, adding that the cabinet would be subordinate to him.

‘If Hamas wins the elections, let it choose whomever it wants’ to lead the next government, he said. ‘I want for there to be a government that pushes us forward and that will have achievements, and not a government that will bring another siege on us,’ he added.

In a statement released shortly after the speech, Hamas slammed the statement as an ‘unjustifiable media escalation’.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that Abbas’ statements ‘harm the national interest and reconciliation efforts’.

Forty-five days after the unity document was signed, the Hamas spokesman said, parties were still waiting to form a government of ‘independent figures and technocrats’, saying Fayyad was an unacceptable candidate.

Speaking about the Arab Spring on LBC, Abbas was critical of Arab rulers who hold onto power contrary to the will of their people, saying a leader ‘had to go’ when the people rose up against him.

‘Palestinians are leading the path of peaceful intifada,’ Abbas observed, saying he was still against armed struggle, but elaborating, saying he supports a ‘peaceful uprising’.

‘These intifadas are targeted against Israel, and at the first hint of an uprising against me, I promise that I won’t stay one day in power, I will leave before I am asked.’