Published: Sun, February 03, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Palestinians wounded in border clashes: Gaza ministry

Palestinians wounded in border clashes: Gaza ministry

Thirty-two Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces' fire across the eastern borders of the besieged Gaza Strip, on the 45th Friday of "The Great March of Return".

Their concern lies in the passage of a new U.S. anti-terror law, called the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA), which comes into effect Friday, and which could make the Palestinian Authority liable for huge claims by American victims of Palestinian terror attacks.

The Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA) empowers Americans to sue foreign aid recipients in United States courts over alleged complicity in "acts of war".

The deadline also sees the end of about $60m in USA aid for the Palestinian security forces, whose cooperation with Israeli forces helps maintain relative quiet in the West Bank.

On Wednesday, a U.S. State Department spokesperson told JNS: "We continue to work through the potential impact of the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act". At a news conference on Thursday, senior official Saeb Erekat said the Palestinian Authority (PA) had sent a letter to the USA state department asking them to end funding because of a fear of lawsuits.

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Despite Palestinian official Saeb Erekat telling AFP that "we don't want to receive any money if this will take us to court", the PA slammed Friday's move. It is not clear how long the halt will remain in effect. The official added that no steps have been taken to close the US AID mission in the occupied Palestinian territories. According to its website, the agency spent $268m on public projects in the West Bank and Gaza as well as Palestinian private sector debt repayment in 2017, but there were significant cuts to all new funding through the end of June 2018. Until a political solution is found (maybe it will be our peace plan?), the PA must focus on helping Palestinians lead better lives.

Over the past year, the US has slashed $300 million for Palestinian refugees and more than $200 million for humanitarian assistance, economic projects, medical aid and peace-building activities for Palestinians. This was widely viewed as a way of pressing Palestinian officials to restart peace talks with Israel and re-engage with the White House ahead of the announcement of its promised Middle East peace plan.

Top Palestinian negotiator in a tweet shortly after the incident said "we hold the Israeli government fully responsible for this new crime". "An educated man ends in jail, I am wrecked".

Diplomatic sources said Palestinian, US and Israeli officials were trying to find ways to keep the money flowing to Abbas's security forces.

The Israeli prime minister gave no further details but a defence ministry statement said the work on the structure began on Thursday.

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