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The News Line: Feature GAZA WOMEN’S COMMITTEES SIT IN FOR EQUAL PAY! A GROUP OF women’s committees in the besieged Gaza Strip organised a sit-in on Thursday to demand equal pay between men and women in the coastal enclave amid soaring unemployment rates compounded by Israel’s decade-long siege on the territory.

A member of the Central Committee of the Palestinian People’s Party and head of the Working Women Committees in Gaza Laila Khashan said that local and national institutions must provide equal salaries for women and men in the besieged enclave and work to ‘defend their rights’.

Khashan noted that the Israeli siege on Gaza has escalated the suffering of Palestinian people, particularly Palestinian women who ‘bear heavy burdens’, and highlighted the necessity of applying a minimum wage that would be equal to both women and men.

Khasan also emphasised that the unemployment rate had reached 41 per cent in the besieged Gaza Strip, with the unemployment rate for women there reaching an astounding 64 per cent. She called upon the Palestinian government to take steps to lessen the wage gap between women and men in Gaza’s labour market, and to end the Palestinian national conflict in order to form an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Last year, Head of the Association Of Women’s Work Committees Arij al-Atrash said unemployment was the biggest issue facing the Palestinian economy in Gaza, as the crippling Israeli blockade on the enclave has severely limited opportunities for job creation. According to a 2016 report by Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), male participation in the workforce in both the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank was 71.9 per cent higher than that of women.

In addition, PCBS reported that the average daily wage for Palestinian women in 2015 was around 90 shekels ($26), while Palestinian men made an average daily wage of 108 shekels ($31).

The Gaza Strip, meanwhile, has continued to plummet into a humanitarian catastrophe owing to Israel’s siege and the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s recent policies aimed at putting pressure on Hamas, the de facto leaders of the territory, by intentionally exacerbating the difficulties of life for everyday residents in Gaza.

After Israel cut Gaza’s electricity supply by up to 60 per cent, upon the request of the PA, Egypt stepped in to provide fuel in order to avert a full collapse in the besieged territory. However, Gaza has continued to reel from a power shortage, only receiving a few hours of electricity a day, while repressive PA policies, such as cutting their Gaza-based employees’ salaries, halting medical referrals to patients in Gaza to receive medical treatment outside of the territory, and cutting its funding to Gaza’s medical sector. The UN has warned that if current trends are not altered, Gaza could become ‘uninhabitable’ by 2020.

• An Egyptian army spokesperson said that a total of 26 members of Egypt’s armed forces were killed or injured in an explosion, and that later, Egyptian forces ‘succeeded in foiling a terrorist attack’ by killing 40 militants and destroying six vehicles in a subsequent gun battle with soldiers at a checkpoint in Rafah.

The spokesperson said that Egyptian forces were still searching for assailants around the area of the initial explosion, which was reportedly the result of a suicide car bomber who rammed his vehicle into a checkpoint at a military compound in the southern Rafah village of al-Barth,
followed by heavy gunfire from dozens of masked fighters on foot.

The dead included a high ranking special forces officer, Colonel Ahmed al-Mansi.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, however, a string of similar attacks on Egyptian forces have previously been claimed by the Sinai Province, affiliated to the so-called Islamic State.

Fighting between the Egyptian army and the Sinai Province has escalated since Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi took power from Muhammad Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, which has since left hundreds killed, including civilians, security forces, and alleged militants.

Over the past few months, at least four deadly attacks have also targeted Egypt’s Christian minority, prompting army al-Sisi to declare a state of emergency in the country. Al-Sisi has come under attack over his violent suppression of Muslim Brotherhood members following his rise to power, which the Egyptian president has argued is necessary to deter future attacks in the Sinai and across Egypt. Amid the fighting, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has documented possible extrajudicial executions by Egyptian forces who allegedly staged a counter terrorism raid to cover up the killing.

• Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ visit to Tunis and new settlement construction plans dominated the front page headlines in local Palestinian dailies. The dailies reported Abbas reiterating he was serious about making a historic peace deal with Israel on the basis of the two state-solution along 1967 borders.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida added Abbas and his Tunisian counterpart Beji Caid Essebsi affirmed their rejection of unilateral solutions and other solutions calling for the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. On the other hand, al-Ayyam opted to report in its main front page item that Israel has advanced three new settlement construction plans in East Jerusalem.

It explained Israel has pushed forward plans to construct 500 new settler units in Ramat Shlomo settlement, 152 others in Ramot settlement and expand the Israeli bypass road west of Beit Jala, known as the tunnel road. Al-Quds said in this regard the Israeli Municipality of West Jerusalem has advanced plans to construct 800 new settler units in settlements across East Jerusalem.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam also reported that Israeli forces conducted multiple raids across Bethlehem district, shooting and injuring several Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets, and causing others to suffocate from tear gas inhalation. Al-Quds added Israeli forces detained 14 Palestinians and sealed two lathing workshops during multiple predawn raids across the West Bank.

It added Israeli forces stormed the family home of Adel Ankoush in Deir Abu Mashaal village, northwest of Ramallah, in preparation for punitive demolition. Ankoush, 18, was one of three Palestinians who were shot dead by Israeli police after they carried out a deadly attack that claimed the life of an Israeli policewoman near East Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate in January.

It also reported Palestinians in Jerusalem called for rapid solutions to their suffering as a result of having to wait in queues in long hours at the East Jerusalem-based office of the Israeli Interior Ministry. It added Israeli occupation authorities delivered six military orders to stop construction of Palestinian homes in Qalqiliya district in the northern West Bank.

It also reported a total of 14 Palestinian refugees were killed in Syria during June 2017. Al-Ayyam reported Israel has adopted new measures to ban the entry of foreign supporters of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement into Israel. Al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida said the United Nations cultural agency (UNESCO) is expected to vote on Friday on a resolution declaring Hebron’s Old City an area of outstanding universal value.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam said a Hamas delegation, including the Gaza administrative committee and head of Hamas movement Yahya Sinwar, toured the southern border between the besieged enclave and Egypt. Al-Quds reported Hamas officials that they have asked Egypt to supervise the implementation of the Cairo reconciliation deal with Fatah.

It added the government has called on Hamas to respond to Abbas’ initiative to achieve national reconciliation. Referring to a report issued by the Gaza Chamber of Trade & Commerce, al-Hayat al-Jadida said the besieged Gaza Strip is on the brink of economic collapse.


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