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Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, for Tuesday 29th May 2012.

Egypt Confirms Mohammed Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq in Election Runoff; Al-Aqsa Foundation Slams Provocative Settler Tour; Fuel Crisis Impacts Water and Sanitation Services in Gaza and more—stay tuned!

After years of rivalry, Hamas and Fatah start working towards Gaza elections with news that the Central Elections Commission has been granted permission on Monday to begin working in Gaza by the Hamas led government . The government that will oversee the elections will be agreed upon by President Abbas and Hamas leader, Khalid Mashaal and should be announced sometime next week.

The current fuel crisis in Gaza, now in its fifth month, is causing extended power outages that severely disrupt the lives, health and livelihood of the region’s 1.6 million residents. It also severely affects the fuel-dependent fishing industry, already crippled by restricted access to Gaza’s fishing waters imposed by Israel’s blockade. The Gaza Power Plant produced electricity at less than 30 per cent of capacity in April, causing severe disruption to basic services, including water, health and sanitation. The Coastal Municipal Water Utility says the situation is critical, with up to 40 per cent of the 1.6 million population under blockade getting water in their houses only once every four days, and it will get worse as summer approaches.

The second stage of Egypt’s presidential race will be between Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party, and a former air force general, Ahmed Shafiq, a law and order candidate and Mubarak’s last Prime Minister, who received 24% and 23% of the 50% of votes cast respectively. Nearly half of the first-round votes went to candidates in the middle ground and turnout was a respectable 46% of 50 million registered voters. Of all the likely outcomes of the first round of the two-stage contest, this is the most polarised, pitting the long-banned Brotherhood – the world’s oldest Islamist movement – against a secular figure who is seen as a remnant of the old regime.

A court in Istanbul has voted unanimously to approve an indictment against Israel’s former military chief, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, along with the former heads of its navy, air force intelligence, and military intelligence. They face nine consecutive life terms in prison. The indictments arose out of a violent attack in the early hours of May 31, 2010 by Israeli commandos on a flotilla of ships heading for Gaza with aid, medical supplies and unarmed peace activists. The ships were trying to breach Israel’s blockade of Gaza. The ship Mavi Marmara was boarded by Israeli commandos who killed 9 Turkish volunteers and injured hundreds of others.

The Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage in occupied East Jerusalem stated that dozens of Israeli settlers accompanied by many soldiers and police conducted a provocative tour in the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, raising Israeli flags, and preventing local worshipers from accessing the site. The Al-Aqsa Foundation stated that raising Israeli flags in the Mosque compound is a provocative act and a violation to the sanctity of the holy site. These tours are taking place while most Palestinians in the occupied territories are denied access to Muslim and Christian Holy Sites in occupied Jerusalem.

Bassem Tamimi, a leading member of the grass roots movement against the Israeli Annexation Wall and settlement construction in the village of Nabi Saleh, was sentenced to 13 months imprisonment and a further 17 months suspended sentence today at an Israeli Military Court. He was released following the judgement having already served 13 months imprisonment waiting for his case to come to trial.

In Gaza, the Palestinian Contractors Union has urged all Palestinian contractors and suppliers to boycott any bids offered by the UN Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) until it decides to withdraw all bids offered to Israeli companies.

That’s all today from IMEMC News. This was the Tuesday 29th May daily roundup of news from the Occupied Palestinian Territories. For more news and updates please visit our website at Today’s report has been brought to you by Husam Qassis and William Temple.