Friday, August 24, 2018

Palestinians Clash With IDF On Gaza Border, U.S. Slashes Aid To Palestinians By More Than $200 Million

Palestinians clash with IDF on Gaza border; 189 said wounded 

Some 5,000 Palestinians protested Friday along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, according to Palestinian reports.
The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said some 189 demonstrators were wounded in clashes with IDF troops, including 50 who were hit by live fire
According to Palestinian reports, Israeli snipers opened fire on two groups of Palestinians who tried to breach the border at two different locations.
One incendiary kite sent over the border from the Strip caused a fire in the Sha’ar Hanegev region.
The clashes came hours after Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman denied involvement in talks on a long-term ceasefire agreement with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Reports have proliferated that Israel is in advanced talks with Hamas, via UN and Egyptian mediation, for a long-term truce in the Strip.
Gaza has seen a surge of violence since the start of the “March of Return” protests along the border in March. The clashes, which Gaza’s Hamas rulers have orchestrated, have included rock and Molotov cocktail attacks on troops, as well as attempts to breach the border fence and attack Israeli soldiers.

The Trump administration has decided to cut more than $200 million in aid to the Palestinians, the State Department announced Friday, suggesting those tax-payer funds no longer served American interests.
The move is the ostensible result a review of US assistance to the Palestinian Authority that US President Donald Trump ordered in January, following Palestinian outrage over his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there.
“As a result of that review, at the direction of the president, we will direct more than $200 million … in Economic Support Funds originally planned for programs in the West Bank and Gaza,” a State Department official said. “Those funds will now address high-priority projects elsewhere.”

This is not the first time Trump has cut longstanding aid bound to the Palestinians. In January, the White House announced it also would withhold $65 million in assistance to the UN relief agency for Palestinians.
Earlier this month, the administration released millions of dollars in frozen aid to the PA, but only for Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation, an administration source said.
The funds withheld Friday are directed toward health and educational programs, as well as initiatives to make Palestinian governance more efficient. They are used both in the PA-administered West Bank and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
The Trump administration said the terror group’s control of Gaza was one of the main reasons it wanted to cease its aid to the coastal enclave.

“This decision takes into account the challenges the international community faces in providing assistance in Gaza, where Hamas control endangers the lives of Gaza’s citizens and degrades an already dire humanitarian and economic situation,” the State Department official said.

Washington’s withdrawal of the aid comes as Trump’s team tasked with brokering an Israeli-Palestinian accord is expected to release its long-awaited peace plan.

Friday’s move was immediately castigated by the Palestinians, who said the cuts were “cheap blackmail.”

The left-wing Middle East advocacy group J Street said Trump’s decision would “have a devastating impact on innocent women, children and families,” arguing that they were intended to “cruelly punish Palestinian civilians and marginalize and undercut Palestinian leadership.”

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