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Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel
www.vtjp.org/
For those interested in keeping up with events in Palestine/Israel, there is no better digest than VTJP.

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8 March 2008

News

Israeli army invades Bethlehem, four Palestinians wounded
Najeb Faraj, International Middle East Media Center 3/8/2008
Four Palestinian youth were injured by Israeli army gunfire on Saturday at dawn in the village of Beit Fajjar, located west of the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem. Medical sources said that two of the injured sustained critical wounds. Israeli sources said that the four Palestinian youth were injured near the illegal Israeli settlement of Majdal Ouz, located near Beit Fajjar. The army added that the four were on their way to attack the settlement. They added that the four had hand grenades and a home made bomb with them. When encountering Israeli troops they hurled the two grenades at the soldiers; soldiers opened fire and injured the four. Later the army said Israeli troops chased the four youth back to Beit Fajjar and kidnapped three of them while they were receiving medical help. Palestinian sources identified the three as Mohamed Abed Al Salam, 18, Imad Takatka, 20, and Mahmoud Thawabtah, 20.

Two Palestinian resistance fighters wounded in IOF missile shelling
Palestinian Information Center 3/8/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Two Palestinian resistance fighters were wounded midnight Friday in an IOF missile shelling that targeted a group of fighters in Shujaia suburb east of Gaza city, medical sources reported. They added that one of them was "seriously" wounded, noting that the IOF troops fired a land-to-land missile at their position. A Palestinian resistance fighter affiliated with the AMB Ayman Jouda group was killed earlier Friday in clashes with invading IOF special units north of Gaza Strip. The group said in a statement that Nafez Abu Karsh, 41, was killed while confronting the advance of an IOF unit pre-dawn Friday. Four other resistance fighters affiliated with the Quds Brigades the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad Movement were killed in two separate IOF raids late Thursday. Meanwhile, the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, took responsibility for firing five mortar...

Ma’an: Women march for rights, end of occupation in Gaza
International Solidarity Movement 3/8/2008
Gaza Region Women staged two demonstrations in the Gaza Strip on Saturday to demand a stop Israeli violence that has recently led to the death of 18 women, including two infants recently. Women marched to the slogans "Under what fault was she killed," "Where is my right to live in peace and safety? " and "I am a peace dove suffocated by the blockade." One of the marches went to the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City, where women from throughout the Strip delivered a letter demanding an emergency United Nations meeting to lift the Israeli-imposed siege. The letter was handed over by organizer Soad Hijo, the head of the women"™s program at the Al-Ghawth relief center, demanding that the international community pressure the occupying power to end its war in Gaza and grant Palestinian women the rights that are owed women throughout the world.

Hamas: Cease-Fire Deal must Include West Bank
Jack Khoury, Yossi Verter And Barak Ravid, MIFTAH 3/8/2008
Hamas said Thursday that any Gaza Strip cease-fire with Israel must include an end to Israel Defense Forces operations in the West Bank, as Egypt launched talks with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in a bid to secure a truce. Hamas spokesman in Gaza Ayman Taha told A-Shams Radio that the Hamas delegation dispatched to the Egyptian city of El-Arish on the Sinai Peninsula had returned to the Strip." We spoke about general issues relating to calm and a cease-fire," he said. "Hamas’ conditions are clear: We will halt our fire in exchange for a complete end to Israeli military operations in Gaza and in the West Bank, and a lifting of the blockade on Gaza." "Otherwise, we have no intention of halting our activities against Israel," he said. Taha said the issue of a prisoner exchange that would secure the release of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was not discussed at the meeting. According to Taha, Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman will visit Israel in the coming days in order to update Jerusalem on the developments.

US gives Egypt nod to negotiate with Hamas
Middle East Online 3/8/2008
No pragmatic choice but to talk to democratically elected Hamas - BRUSSELS - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has faced pressure for months to engage Hamas and this week she gave Egypt the nod to negotiate with them to end violence in Gaza. Analysts see this as a first sign the Bush administration could be tweaking its approach on Hamas, from total isolation to encouraging allies such as Egypt to engage with the democratically elected Palestinian group if it means saving US-sponsored peace talks. Egypt began talks on Thursday with leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad from the Gaza Strip, part of a US-backed push for a truce between the groups and Israel to stop violence in Gaza. During a trip to the West Bank and Gaza this week, Rice was loathe to officially call for a ceasefire or a truce, preferring instead to refer to a need for "calm" so that talks could get back on track.

Friday Anti-Wall demonstrations marked by violence
International Solidarity Movement 3/8/2008
Bil’in Village Tulkarem Region Qaffin Friday, March 8th, saw a large demonstration in the West Bank town of Qaffin against the annexation wall. The demonstration was organised by the Qaffin municipality and featured a large block of activists from the Democratic Union. Approximately four hundred Palestinian and international demonstrators marched to wall to be met by two Israeli army jeeps. The soldiers initially fired live ammunition into the air and then in the direction of the protesters. Tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets were then used to attack the non-violent demonstration. Three people were hit by the rubber coated bullets, but were not seriously injured. After an hour the protesters returned to the town. Qaffin, just north of Tulkarem has a population of around 10,000. The size of the town has more than halved in the last 13 years as settlements and the annexation wall have stolen the towns agricultural land.

Mystery surrounds role of Hamas in attack on Jerusalem seminary
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 3/8/2008
Did Hamas order the killing of eight Israeli yeshiva students at their seminary library in Jerusalem? There was continued confusion last night over who was behind Thursday’s shooting, following reports that the Palestinian group had claimed responsibility. Reuters news agency quoted an anonymous Hamas source as saying the Islamic faction was responsible The unnamed official reportedly declared: "The Hamas movement announces its full responsibility for the Jerusalem operation. The movement will release the details at a later stage But hours later, a spokesman for Hamas’s armed wing in Gaza, Abu Ubaida, told Al Jazeera television the attack was "an honour we have not claimed yet". The ambiguity was reminiscent of the initial confusion surrounding a suicide bombing last month which killed an elderly woman in the southern Israeli town of Dimona.

Israel on Alert, Gaza Braces after Jerusalem Killings
Agence France Presse, MIFTAH 3/8/2008
Israel was on alert and Gaza braced for reprisals on Friday as crowds mourned eight teenagers killed by a Palestinian gunman at a Jewish religious school in an attack claimed by the Islamist Hamas. Residents of the impoverished Gaza Strip were bracing for punitive Israeli military strikes after the attack which shook the faltering peace talks and provoked strong condemnation from around the world. Thousands gathered in Jerusalem for the funerals of the teenagers killed in the attack carried out by a Palestinian resident of occupied east Jerusalem, who sprayed automatic gunfire at the students before being gunned down by an army officer late on Thursday. Police arrested more than 10 relatives and friends of 25-year-old Alaa Hisham Abu Dheim of the Jabal al-Mukaber area, where a mourning tent draped in Palestinian and Hamas flags was set up. The attack, the first in four years in Jerusalem, was claimed by a senior official of the Islamist movement, which refuses to recognise the Jewish state’s right to exist.

Hamas’ armed wing denies claiming responsibility for Jerusalem shooting attack
Ma’an News Agency 3/8/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – Hamas’ armed wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, has denied claiming responsibility for Thursday night’s deadly shooting attack at a Jewish religious school in West Jerusalem. The Al-Qassam Brigades’ spokesperson, Abu Obeida, told Al-Jazeera television, “The brigades has not issued any statements so far claiming the responsibility for the operation." Abu Obeida however reminded Al-Jazeera that the Brigades waited for two days to claim responsibility for the bombing in the Israeli city of Dimona on 4 February. Abu Obeida added, "When we have the information with our blessing for the operation we will announce where we stand concerning the operation. However until now we have not claimed any responsibly for it. ” Ismail Radwan, a prominent figure in Hamas, announced on Friday that Hamas from the military wing to respond to media reports suggesting that Hamas was behind the attack.

Zionist settlers try to burn one of the Aqsa gates
Palestinian Information Center 3/8/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- A group of Zionist settlers tried midnight Thursday to burn one of the gates of the holy Aqsa Mosque but the attempt was foiled when one of the guards spotted the smoke billowing from the area. The guards reported that the settlers threw a petrol soaked piece of cloth on Sakina corner close to the Silsila (Chain) gate in the western side of the Aqsa Mosque. They said that one of the guards spotted the smoke and smelled fire near the gate, which prompted him to inform the head guard and the Israeli occupation police officer present in the area. He then opened the gate, saw the blaze and started putting it off, which he did after almost half a meter of the wooden gate was destroyed. The sources said that the five cameras in the Silsila gate and a nearby border police center could not detect the culprit, according to the police allegations.

Israel imposes West Bank lockdown
Al Jazeera 3/8/2008
Israel has imposed further restrictions on the West Bank, following the shooting of eight students at a seminary in Jerusalem. The occupied territory already has more than 500 Israeli roadblocks, according to UN figures, and Palestinians in the West Bank on Saturday were fearful of what further Israeli response to the shootings might be. Nour Odeh, Al Jazeera’s correspondent reporting from the West Bank, said:"The closure will now mean any task of daily life will become much more difficult." "If you’re living in Nablus for example - where the siege is very strict - and you need to get to a hospital or university inside Nablus city it will take you sometimes hours to get there when it should take you no more than 15 minutes. The attack in the library of the Merkaz Harav Jewish religious school shattered four years of relative calm in Jerusalem.

Police arrest 8 suspects in yeshiva shooting investigation
Ynet, YNetNews 3/8/2008
Jerusalem police chief says terrorist who killed eight Israelis in Thursday’s attack on rabbinical seminary led a normal life and was not known to police; adds: Shooting not linked to Gaza operation - Jerusalem District Police Chief Aharon Franco confirmed on Saturday that investigators have arrested eight people suspected of involvement in Thursday’s terror attack at the Mercaz Harav rabbinical seminary in Jerusalem. Franco said the attack had been planned even prior to the IDF’s operation in Gaza, adding that the shooter had apparently scoped out the seminary for some time before the attack." As of now eight people have been arrested. We are looking into how the terrorist got hold of the weapons (used in the attack)," he told Channel 2. Franco added that the terrorist, Alaa Abu Dheim, was not known to police.

Police nab 8 in connection to Jerusalem terror attack
Jonathan Lis and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 3/8/2008
Police have arrested eight people in connection to Thursday’s shooting attack at a Jerusalem yeshiva, officials said on Saturday. Investigators were seeking to establish whether Alaa Abu Dhaim, the gunman, had acted alone or was connected to any militant group, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Abu Dhaim, 25, was killed at the scene of the attack by an off-duty Israel Defense Forces officer who lived close to the seminary. A number of the gunman’s other family members were among those detained, including his father. The father also removed Hamas and Hezbollah flags from a mourners’ tent the family had erected, after being instructed to do so by police. According to the Palestinian news agency Maan, Abu Dhaim’s father had in the past been a member of Hamas.

Saturday marked with stone-throwing incidents in north
Hagai Einav, YNetNews 3/8/2008
Police alerted to major highways near Arab villages in northern district following reports of youths pelting cars. No injuries have been reported but damage was caused to a number of vehicles and several people were treated for shock. No arrests have been made as of yet - Police in northern Israel reported three separate incidents on Saturday in which rocks were thrown at vehicles traveling in proximity to several Arab communities. No injuries were caused but several cars were damaged. Several motorists were treated for shock as a result. Fearing possible incitement on the part of the Islamic Movement in Israel following the terror attack in Jerusalem on Thursday, police had raised the alertness level over the weekend. The incidents took place near the Faradis and Shfaram junctions and near the village of Jasar al-Zarka.

Four Palestinians wounded, three detained in Israeli raid near Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 3/8/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Four Palestinians were injured and three seized during an Israeli military raid in the town of Beit Fajjar, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Friday night. Witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli special forces troops stormed the town and began shooting. Ahmas Issa Abu Ya’qub was shot in the stomach. His injury was described as seirous. Medical sources told Ma’an that occupation forces seized 18-year-old Mohammad Mahmoud Abdel-Salam, who had been injured in the attack, by forcibly removing him from an ambulance. Imad Musa Taqatqa and Mahmoud Thawabta, both 20 years old, were also injured and then detained by the Israeli forces. [end]

Two Palestinian resistance fighters injured near Gaza City
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center 3/8/2008
Two Palestinian resistance fighters were injured on Saturday at dawn when an Israeli shell exploded near them outside of Gaza City. Palestinian Medical sources said that a group of fighters were gathered outside of Gaza City when Israeli tanks stationed at the northern Gaza-Israel border opened fire on them, injuring the two. Dr. Mo’awyiah Hassanin, of the Palestinian Ministry of Heath, said that one of the two injured sustained critical wounds. Local sources in Gaza city said that two are said to be from the Al Qassam brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement. [end]

Two Hamas fighters injured in Israeli raid in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 3/8/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Two members of the armed wing of Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades were wounded, one seriously, in an Israeli raid on the Ash-Shaja’eyah neighborhood of Gaza City. Mu’awiyahHassanain, the head of ambulance and emergency services in the Palestinian Health Ministry said that the two injured men were taken to Ash-Shifa hospital in Gaza. [end]

Interview with a female detainees imprisoned by Israel
Ali Samoudi - Jenin - Translated by Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center 3/9/2008
One again, the world celebrates the International Women’s Day while dozens of Palestinian women and mothers are still imprisoned by the occupation, stripped of their fundamental rights of even hugging their children. Detainee Qahira Al Sa’dy, imprisoned in Telmond Israeli prison voiced an appeal to every Palestinian woman to act for the "support of all detained women, for the pain, sadness and anger of the imprisoned women who are suffering and dreaming of a day when they can hug their children once again." Qahira voiced an appealed to the conscious of women around the gold, to aid the Palestinian women who are still suffering, chained, surrounded and attacked under the occupation." The whole world is celebrating the International Women’s Day, where is the support to the Palestinian women, living under occupation and stripped of their basic rights by an occupying force which is encouraged by the international silence", Al Sa’dy stated.

Women in Palestine still attacked and harassed by the occupation
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center 3/9/2008
The Al Haq institution which defends human rights issued a statement marking the Eight of March, the International Women Day, and stated that Palestinian women are subjecting to abuse of their fundamental rights by the 40-year old Israeli occupation. The institution added that Palestinian women are denied of their basic rights and protection within their own society. Al Haq also said that Israel is ongoing with its occupation in Palestine, including East Jerusalem, and that the Gaza Strip is one of the main examples of the Israeli policy of collective punishment against the residents, a policy which comes in direct violation to the international law. It also stated that the ongoing restrictions of movement, the Annexation Wall, settler-only roads, and more than 500 military roadblocks are restricting the movement of the residents, preventing access to education employment and medical care.

On International Women’s Day, Palestinian women continue their struggle
Press Release, PCHR, Electronic Intifada 3/8/2008
The 8th of March comes this year as Palestinian women face very difficult and harsh circumstances due to human rights violations perpetrated by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) against Palestinian civilians, including women. In recent days, Palestinian women have had paid a high price due to reprisal actions by IOF against Palestinian civilians and property. The latest form of systematic violence by IOF was the military campaign against Jabaliya town in the northern Gaza Strip, which lasted from 28 February to 4 March 2008. During this military campaign, 110 Palestinians, including 27 children and six women aged 19-60, were killed by IOF. These women were all killed by IOF on the same day, while they were inside their homes. One woman, Ghada ’Abdullah, 27, was killed on 1 March 2008 while she was in her kitchen preparing breakfast for her children and a missile hit her house.

Women’s Day March in Nablus
International Solidarity Movement 3/8/2008
Nablus Region On Thursday 6th March 2008 the Women’s Committees of Nablus marched through the centre of the city to protest against the recent massacre in Gaza during which more than 115 people were murdered. In preparation for International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, the women of Nablus took to the streets carrying banners and flags demanding an end to the atrocities committed by Israel in Gaza. Internationals joined the demonstration in solidarity with the Women’s Committees, holding pictures of some of the 27 murdered children of Israel’s ‘Operation Hot Winter’. The rally culminated in a gathering at the central plaza where speeches were made by members of the Women’s Committees and representatives from the governorate, condemning the attacks on Gaza. This year’s International Women’s Day actions and celebrations in Palestine will mourn and honour the deaths of the 6 women killed in their homes during...

Wa’ed: Israel escalated arbitrary practices against detained Palestinian women
Palestinian Information Center 3/8/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- On the occasion of the international women’s day, the Wa’ed society for detainees and ex-detainees highlighted that the conditions of Palestinian female prisoners in Israeli jails witnessed a serious deterioration this year as the Israeli prisons authority escalated all forms of penalties and humiliation against them. The society explained that the Palestinian female prisoners suffer very difficult living conditions including overcrowding inside their cells which forces some women to sleep on the floor; besides, the cells are full of insects, cockroaches and rats. The society added that the Israeli prisons’ administrations take pleasure in imposing a lot of inhumane arbitrary measures against the incarcerated Palestinian women including imposing fines, depriving them of family visits, detaining them in solitary cells and carrying out strip searches.

Women march for rights, end of occupation in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 3/8/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an – Women staged two demonstrations in the Gaza Strip on Saturday to demand a stop Israeli violence that has recently led to the death of 18 women, including two infants recently. Women marched to the slogans "Under what fault was she killed," “Where is my right to live in peace and safety? " and "I am a peace dove suffocated by the blockade." One of the marches went to the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City, where women from throughout the Strip delivered a letter demanding an emergency United Nations meeting to lift the Israeli-imposed siege. The letter was handed over by organizer Soad Hijo, the head of the women’s program at the Al-Ghawth relief center, demanding that the international community pressure the occupying power to end its war in Gaza and grant Palestinian women the rights that are owed women throughout the world.

Gaza women rally to mark International Womens’ Day
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center 3/8/2008
Two rallies to mark International Womens’ Day were held in the Gaza Strip on Saturday. In the first of two rallies, banners read " Stop the Siege on Gaza" and " Stop killing women," according to the UN office in Gaza city. The organizers of the rally then delivered a petition to UN office chief in Gaza City, Sabah Al Akali, demanding an urgent UN Security Council meeting to end the Israeli siege and attacks on the Palestinian coastal region. During this week alone, Israeli attacks have left 77 Palestinians dead, among them 18 women. The second rally was organized by the Union of Palestinian Women in front of the Palestinian Legislative Council building in Gaza City. The protesters demanded more rights for women and an increased role in Palestinian politics and governance.

PLC speaker condemns settler attack on Palestinian lawmaker
Ma’an News Agency 3/8/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – The leadership of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) condemned Friday’s settler attack on PLC member Siham Thabet on Saturday. Ahmad Bahar, the acting speaker of the PLC, said, We in the presidency of the Legislative Council condemn all cowardly attacks carried out by the Israeli occupation and settlers against members of the Palestinian Parliament. ” Thabet, a Fatah member from the West Bank city of Tulkarem, was hospitalized after Israeli settlers attacked her car on Friday. Bahar, a Hamas member, also harshly criticized a ruling by an Israeli court on Thursday continuing the incarceration of Palestinian legislator Mariam Saleh. Bahar said there are more than 45 Palestinian lawmakers held in Israeli prisons. He said: "We consider the arrests as a weak policy the Government of the occupation is using to undermine the steadfastness of the Palestinian...

Palestinian MP wounded in Zionist settlers’ assault on her car
Palestinian Information Center 3/8/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- A group of Zionist fanatic settlers threw stones at the car of MP Dr. Siham Thabet, the wife of martyr Dr. Thabet Thabet, near Yitshar settlement, Nablus district, on Friday wounding her in the face, locals reported. They said that the lawmaker was injured in the attack after the front and rear window shields of her car were smashed in the attack. IOF soldiers rushed to the scene and Dr. Siham, who was accompanied by her son Ahmed and was en route from Tulkarm to Ramallah, was carried to a Nablus hospital after coordination with the Red Cross. In another incident, the IOA deported detainee Ahlam Jawher, 30, to Jordan on Thursday after detaining her for almost 45 days in jail. She was deprived of family and lawyers’ visits, and underwent a series of interrogation rounds. Ahlam was a human rights activist.

PCHR report: IOF troops killed 110 Palestinians including 27 children in a week
Palestinian Information Center 3/8/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- A report issued by the Palestinian center for human rights (PCHR) said that the Israeli violations of international and humanitarian laws seriously escalated in the Gaza Strip during the period between 28th of February and 5th of March, where the IOF troops killed 110 Palestinian citizens in the Gaza Strip including 27 children and six women. The report, which prepared statistics and details about the genocides committed by Israel during the few past days in Gaza, added that the IOF troops also wounded 236 Palestinians including 58 children and 11 women, pointing out that a large majority of Palestinian deaths and injuries were unarmed civilians. According to the report, 69 of the Palestinian victims including 20 children and three women were killed in a two-day military operation waged by IOF troops against the northern Gaza Strip in Jabalia preceded by intense air strikes.

Mifdal calls for deporting family of Abu Dehaim to Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 3/8/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Zionist extremist party Mifdal called on Israeli interior minister Meir Sheetrit to deport the family of Ala Abu Dehaim, 24, who carried out the attack on a religious institute on Thursday, from occupied Jerusalem to Gaza. Knesset MP Zvulun Orlev, the secretary-general of the Mifdal bloc, called during his meeting with Sheetrit for withdrawing the right of residence from Abu Dehaim family and for barring them from holding a condolence reception for their son. For his part, Knesset MP Aryeh Eldad called on the Israeli government to establish a religious institute carrying the names of the slain Zionists in place of the Abu Dehaim’s family house which is located in the Jabal Mukabbir neighborhood. Israeli security sources reported that Abu Dehaim was working as a driver for the religious institute Merkaz Harav in which the operation took place and...

Israeli security minister calls for expelling East Jerusalem Palestinians involved attacks
Ma’an News Agency 3/8/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli Public Security Minister Avi Dichter said on Friday that Palestinians living in East Jerusalem should be expelled to the West Bank if they are found to be involved in “militant activity. ” Dichter was speaking to mourners at Friday’s funeral for eight students killed by an armed Palestinian man at the Mercaz Harav religious school in West Jerusalem on Thursday evening. The attacker in Thursday’s attack is believed to be either a resident of East Jerusalem or a Palestinian citizen of Israel. Palestinian residents of the West Bank are only allowed into greater Jerusalem with hard-to-obtain permits. [end]

MK demands dismantling of mourning tent for Jerusalem terrorist
Ynet, YNetNews 3/8/2008
Likud lawmaker says ’Israel cannot allow people to honor a despicable murderer in its territory. ’ Tibi on Lieberman, Eitam’s attack on Arab MKs: They are fascists by any definition; they bear the flag of death and bereavement - Likud Knesset Member Gilad Erdan demanded that Police chief Dudi Cohen and Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter order security personnel to dismantle the mourning tent erected at the east Jerusalem home of the terrorist who killed eight Israelis at the Mercaz Harav rabbinical seminary Thursday evening. "There cannot be a situation whereby the government of Israel, in its territory, is allowing people to honor such a vile and despicable murderer and adorn that honor with flags of Hamas and Hizbullah, who call for Israel’s destruction." he said. The terrorist’s father was detained for questioning immediately following the attack...

Jordan: Terrorist’s family forbidden from erecting mourning tent
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 3/8/2008
Authorities prevent family of Alaa Abu Dheim, terrorist who killed eight in Jerusalem attack Thursday, from erecting tent and receiving mourners - Jordanian authorities prevented relatives of Alaa Abu Dheim, the terrorist responsible for the killing of eight at the Mercaz Harav seminary in Jerusalem on Thursday, from erecting a mourner’s tent in the capital of Amman, Dheim’s cousin told the Al Jazeera television station on Saturday. Mohammad Abu Dheim, Alaa’s cousin, said that the family attempted to set up a mourner’s ten in order to receive well-wishers offering their condolences to the terrorist’s family at their house in western Amman. They were surprised when Jordanian security forces arrived to the house and told them that they were prohibited from erecting the tent. "The security forces requested that we take apart the mourner’s tent that we had set up," Abu Dheim said.

At Mercaz Harav mass funeral, grief but little talk of revenge
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 3/8/2008
Eight silent, crying groups of people huddled over the eight bodies laid out on wooden benches outside the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem on Friday. The dead were wrapped in the same prayer shawls they had worn the previous evening. Students and alumni surrounded them in the yard, the balcony overlooking the yard, the sidewalks and nearby streets. Everyone who ever studied here felt bound to come to the yeshiva on Friday - the yeshiva that had become the wellspring for the religious Zionist movement throughout Israel. It was from Mercaz Harav that Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook, his son Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook and their successor, Rabbi Avraham Shapira, sent tens of thousands of their students after the Six-Day War to establish religious communities throughout Israel. Rabbi Shapira died just a few months ago.

Soldiers (not innocent students) killed at settler center
Khalid Amayreh in Occupied East Jerusalem, Palestinian Information Center 3/8/2008
The Israeli electronic and print media on Saturday revealed that the bulk of the eight Israeli Yeshiva (Talmudic religious school) "students" killed or injured in an attack on the headquarters of the Jewish settlement movement in Jerusalem on Thursday were actually paramilitary soldiers. Israeli spokespersons claimed immediately after the attack that the lone attacker, a Palestinian from East Jerusalem, targeted innocent religious students. The Israeli media, which is subject to routine government censorship, normally avoids giving "detrimental details" about Palestinian resistance attacks, especially when Israelis get killed, ostensibly in order to reap maximum propaganda benefits by giving an initial impression that the victims were innocent civilians, not soldiers or settlers.

Palestinian sources say Hamas, Hezbollah helped in terror attack
Avi Issacharoff Amos Harel Jonathan Lis and Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 3/8/2008
The gunman who murdered eight students at Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem last Thursday was acting on instructions from Hamas leaders in Damascus, in coordination with Hezbollah, Palestinian defense sources said. Over the weekend, eight East Jerusalem residents were arrested in connection with gunman Ala Abu Dhaim’s shooting attack. Abu Dhaim’s father, two of his brothers and two cousins are among those detained. The father also removed Hamas and Hezbollah flags from a mourners’ tent the family had erected, after being instructed to do so by police. According to the Palestinian news agency Maan, Abu Dhaim’s father had in the past been a member of Hamas. Abu Dhaim, 25, was killed at the scene of the attack by an off-duty Israel Defense Forces officer who lives nearby the seminary. So far no Palestinian or Arab organization has claimed responsibility...

Seven students remain hospitalized after shooting
Haaretz Correspondent and AP, By Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 3/8/2008
Seven of the students injured in Thursday’s shooting attack on Mercaz Harav Yeshiva were still hospitalized at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem and at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem, as of yesterday. One of the students, who is 14 and from Sderot, is at Shaare Zedek in serious but stable condition with multiple gunshot wounds. He is sedated and on a respirator, and underwent several operations over the weekend. Three other students are at the same hospital, including one who underwent surgery but is now listed in good condition. The condition of the three students at Hadassah Ein Karem has improved, but one is still in intensive care for observation. A hospital spokesman said all of the students have multiple gunshot wounds. One of the three was named by Bnai Brith Canada as Nadav Eliyahu Samuels, 14, whose father immigrated from Canada before his children were born.

Tearful eulogies for the victims, anger at the weakness of Israel’s leaders
Donald Macintyre, The Independent 3/8/2008
After the psalms had echoed through the loudspeaker, the crowd of several thousand packed into the road, having repeated the verses line by line after the rabbi made a narrow space for the slow queue of ambulances bringing the bodies from the mortuary in ones and twos, and fell silent. The sobs of a few mourners, scattered here and there on this, the warmest day of the year so far, were the only sound as the first of eight bodies, lying on a stretcher and covered with a prayer shawl, was carried up the steps to the yeshiva yard for the eulogies and the Kaddish. But by the time Rabbi Yerachmiel Weiss, head of the young yeshiva, the high school section of this rabbinical seminary which had lost four of its students in the previous night’s attack, began to speak, his own repeated and uncontrollable gasps and sobs magnified through the speaker as he did so, the weeping and keening among the crowd became more widespread.

PRCS in Lebanon holds protest over Gaza massacres
Ma’an News Agency 3/8/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) in Lebanon held a demonstration outside of Haifa hospital in Burj Al-Barajneh camp in Beirut on Saturday to condemn the recent Israeli massacres in the Gaza Strip. The Chairman of the PRCS, Younis Al-Khatib, sent a telegram to the staff in Lebanon saying “What you are doing now shows your high level of patriotism and your noble feelings towards the suffering of your people everywhere, especially in Gaza." The protestors appealed to the international community, demanding an end to the crimes against Palestinians. Dr. Shehada Dhaher, who spoke on behalf of the staff of Haifa hospital, condemned the silence of the international community and called on the United Nations to take a clear stand concerning the massacres and humans rights violations being carried out against the Palestinian people.

UN Human Rights Council Flays Israel over Bloody Gaza Attack
The Daily Star, MIFTAH 3/8/2008
The United Nations Human Rights Council Thursday condemned Israel’s bloody military assault on Gaza while also urging an end to rocket attacks that have killed Israeli civilians. The 47-member council approved the motion calling for "the immediate cessation of all Israeli military attacks throughout the occupied Palestinian territory" by 33 votes to one, with 13 abstentions. The resolution had been tabled by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). It also urged an end to "the firing of crude rockets, which resulted in the loss of two civilian lives and some injuries in southern Israel," though the final text of the resolution dropped a previous reference to these rockets being fired by "Palestinian combatants." Canada opposed the vote, while key EU members of the council such as France, Germany and Italy all abstained.

Protest in Paris against Israeli attacks
Translated by Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center 3/9/2008
The French Capital, Paris, was the scene of missive nonviolent protests on Saturday against the Israeli attacks against the Gaza Strip and against the visit of Israel’s President, Shimon Peres, to the country as part of his European tour. The protesters marched in the streets carrying Palestinian flags, and pictures of the late president Yasser Arafat, they also carried posters condemning the Israeli attacks against the Palestinian people, and rejecting Peres’s visit. Approximately 5000 protesters participated in the activity and slammed the international idleness while the Israeli occupation is ongoing with its attacks against the civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The protesters also slammed the "shameful positions of the Arab leaders regarding the Palestinian cause and struggle". Marking the Eight of March, the International Women’s Day, and the protesters...

Avoid Bush’s Mideast Policies, Report Says
Federica Narancio, MIFTAH 3/8/2008
The Bush administration’s attempt to reshape the Middle East after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks has not only failed but has also deepened existing conflicts and political instability, according to a report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The result is a "new" Middle East, though different from what was anticipated. This new Middle East is one in which the threat of nuclear proliferation and sectarianism will pose a serious challenge to the next U.S. administration, argue the authors of the report, published late February. The tensions between Syria and Lebanon, Palestine and Israel and the influence of Iran in Iraq have also been exacerbated by the confrontational policies of the George W. Bush administration, the report titled, "The New Middle East" stated. If the U.S. government wants to restore its credibility, the study said, it should first recognize that the use

Hamas warns Israel of committing more follies and crimes against Palestinians
Palestinian Information Center 3/8/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement warned on Friday the Israeli occupation of the consequences of committing more follies and crimes against the Palestinian people, reaffirming that all forms of resistance is a natural right for the Palestinian people as long as there is occupation denying their rights and practicing all forms of aggression against them. In a press statement received by the PIC, Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, underlined that the Jerusalem "martyrdom operation" comes in the context of the natural retaliation against all crimes and massacres committed by Israel against Palestinian citizens, children and women. Barhoum pointed out that the whole world considered the ongoing Israeli aggression on Gaza "war crimes," adding that Hamas warned the Israeli occupation more than once of the consequences of continuing to tighten its siege on Gaza and to commit atrocities against the Palestinian people, but it ignored these warnings.

Abbas says peace efforts must continue, despite recent violence
Associated Press, YNetNews 3/8/2008
Palestinian president calls for calm in the Gaza Strip, says ’there is no other path’ than peace; Israeli gov’t spokesman says Israel ’committed to Annapolis framework’ - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday said peace efforts with Israel must move forward, despite an especially bloody spate of violence capped by a deadly attack on a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem. Abbas also reiterated his support for Egypt’s efforts to mediate a truce between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip." Despite all the circumstances we’re living through and all the attacks we’re experiencing, we insist on peace. There is no other path," Abbas said in a speech marking international women’s day. Abbas called for a "calm" in Gaza and reiterated his support for the Egyptian efforts. "These brutal attacks (in Gaza) must stop and these rockets must stop, and Gaza’s border crossings must open, all of them," he said.

Report: Egyptian intelligence chief delays Israel visit
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 3/8/2008
Al-Hayat newspaper reports that Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman has decided to delay planned visit to Israel in wake of Jerusalem terror attack - The head of Egyptian intelligence, Omar Suleiman, has postponed a planned visit to Israel following the terror attack in Jerusalem that left eight dead on Thursday, according to a report published in Al-Hayat newspaper on Saturday. An Egyptian source told the newspaper that the attack had harmed Egypt’s attempts to craft a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. According to the source, " Egypt is concerned in wake of general developments in the region and as well as events in the Palestinian territories." He added that senior Egyptian officials held discussions with Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders in El Arish on Thursday with regards to a possible ceasefire with Israel; however, no agreement was reached.

Abbas says peace is only way
Middle East Online 3/8/2008
RAMALLAH, West Bank - Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Saturday said peace is the only way despite Israeli attacks on the Palestinians." Despite all the Israeli attacks we call for peace and we are keen on peace built on international legitimacy," Abbas said in a speech at his Ramallah headquarters to mark International Women’s Day. "There is no other way but peace." But Abbas said several issues must first be resolved such as the status of east Jerusalem, illegally occupied by the Israelis in 1967, the problem of Palestinian refugees whom Israel bars from returning home, illegal Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories and Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. "We want a just and comprehensive peace agreement," Abbas said. On Sunday, Abbas suspended peace negotiations with the Israelis in protest at massive Israeli army raids on the Gaza Strip over the past week.

Hamas deplores Ihsanoglu’s condemnation of Jerusalem operation
Palestinian Information Center 3/8/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Saturday said it was dismayed at the statements of secretary-general of the organization of Islamic conference Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu in which he condemned the "heroic operation in Jerusalem", stating that such statements provide the Israeli occupation with pretexts to justify its crimes against the Palestinian people. In a statement received by the PIC, Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said that Ihsanoglu’s statements collide with the nature of the "Jerusalem martyrdom operation" in its capacity as a reaction to the Israeli crimes. The raid also falls in line with the Palestinian people’s natural right to self-defense, he underlined. For his part, Israeli premier Ehud Olmert expressed his shock at the bold raid in Jerusalem, blaming PA chief Mamoud Abbas for not doing his utmost against the Palestinian resistance despite the ongoing repressive...

Olmert vows to achieve deterrence against terror groups
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 3/8/2008
’Just as we achieved deterrence against Hizbullah, which hasn’t dared to fire a single rocket in a year and a half - so we will achieve deterrence against the terror organizations,’ vows prime minister following Thursday’s terror attack in Jerusalem - "There are those who are trying to discourage us from the possibility of peace. But we have been through worse times than these," said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in his first public address since the murder of eight Israeli students at the hands of a Palestinian terrorist in Jerusalem’s Mercaz Harav rabbinical seminary on Thursday." There is a direct link between the Qassam rockets and the terror attack in Jerusalem. Both are intended to make our lives unbearable," the prime minister said at an event in the city of Holon on Saturday evening, "but just as we achieved deterrence against Hizbullah, which hasn’t...

Egypt destroys 6 smuggling tunnels
Associated Press, YNetNews 3/8/2008
Tunnels used to smuggle weapons, contraband between Egypt and Gaza detected and destroyed - Six underground tunnels used to smuggle weapons and contraband between Egypt and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip were detected and destroyed, Egyptian authorities said on Saturday. The tunnels, which run under the border, were discovered during a search that began Thursday in and around the frontier town of Rafah. According to a security official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak to the media, the tunnels were in both agricultural and residential areas. Egypt has been grappling with the issue of border security for months promising it will cut down on the illegal trade, amid rising pressure from the US and Israel to curb the smuggling. Nevertheless, recent reports have confirmed that dozens of passageways have...

Islamic Jihad spokesperson denies unannounced truce with Israel
Ma’an News Agency 3/8/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The spokesperson for Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades, Abu Ahmad, denied on Saturday that the military group has stopped launching projectiles at Israeli settlements near the border of the Gaza Strip. In an interview with Ma’an, the spokesperson explained that any decision regarding a potential ceasefire with Israel is in the hands of the political leadership, and stressed that now is not the right time to talk about a truce. When asked about the ongoing negotiations between delegations from Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Egypt over a potential ceasefire, Abu Ahmad said that Islamic Jihad should “focus at this stage on strengthening the internal front, unifying the ranks of the resistance, and developing appropriate plans to address any potential aggression the could affect the Gaza Strip” rather than considering a ceasefire.

Intel chiefs to present cabinet with grim scenario
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 3/8/2008
Israeli intelligence chiefs are expected to paint an extremely pessimistic picture in their assessment for 2008 at the cabinet meeting this morning. They are expected to emphasize the danger of a flare-up on the northern front with Syria and Hezbollah, progress in Iran’s nuclear program, a possible takeover of the West Bank by Hamas, and the low odds of reaching a deal with the Palestinians. Military Intelligence, the Mossad, Shin Bet, Foreign Ministry and National Security Council will be represented at the meeting. Last Thursday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert heard assessments on the Middle East from historian Bernard Lewis. The 93-year-old Mideast expert, who is wrapping up a three-month stay in Israel, was invited to a meeting with Olmert by Cabinet Secretary Oved Yehezkel, a history teacher by profession.

A partnership of equals
Zvi Bar''el, Ha’aretz 3/9/2008
"This shows that the Palestinian Authority is not adequately fighting terrorism," said the prime minister in reaction to the Mercaz Harav yeshiva attack. He could just as well have said that "the Shin Bet isn’t adequately combating terrorism - indeed, it is failing to do so." Mahmoud Abbas and the PA are not responsible for Israel’s security; Israel’s own intelligence service is. But this approach, like Olmert’s accusation, does not help in any way, either in the war on terror or in reducing the fear of a new intifada arising. If anything, the prime minister’s cliche shows that without the Palestinian Authority as an effective partner, there can be no effective fight against terrorism, and that a Palestinian partnership cannot be based only on air or pats on the back. Thus, when the prime minister suggests to the members of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to "consider negotiations with Syria..."

Talks on Palestinian state to continue despite right-wing fury
Donald Macintyre, The Independent 3/8/2008
Israel yesterday pledged to continue negotiations with the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, despite a deadly attack on a Jewish seminary which is suspected to have been carried out by Hamas An Israeli official said his government would press on with the talks "so as not to punish moderate Palestinians for actions by people who are not just our enemies but theirs as well Both the US and Britain have urged Israel and the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas not to abandon discussions to determine the outlines of a future Palestinian state But there were fears that right-wing parties, perhaps including the religious party Shas which is a member of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s coalition, would press for the talks to be broken off in the wake of the shooting David Rotem, of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, which walked out of Mr Olmert’s coalition earlier this year,

ICRC completes primary water supply to Nahr al-Bared
Electronic Intifada 3/7/2008
The repaired water supply has yet to be connected to homes in the new camp, so residents must collect water for washing and cooking from temporary tanks. (Hugh Macleod/IRIN) BEIRUT, 6 March 2008 (IRIN) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has completed rebuilding the primary water supply network in currently accessible areas of the ruined Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp, north Lebanon. Up to 90 percent of the water infrastructure in the areas of Nahr al-Bared outside the official boundary of the "old camp" was damaged or destroyed in a 15-week battle in the summer of 2007 between the army and Islamist militants, according to the ICRC. The conflict reduced the "old camp" -- the original square kilometer of cinder block houses which comes under the jurisdiction of the UN Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA -- to rubble, and also inflicted huge damage on the new camp, where Palestinians had built homes on land rented from local Lebanese.

Haneyya gov’t appreciates Libyan stand at UNSC
Palestinian Information Center 3/8/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The PA caretaker government of Ismail Haneyya has expressed its gratitude for the Libyan "responsible" stand at the UN Security Council that blocked the issuance of a resolution condemning the resistance attack on a Jerusalem institute without referring to the IOF massacre in Gaza. Taher Al-Nunu, the government’s spokesman, said in a statement on Friday night that the Palestinian government also appreciated the other members who refused to endorse that resolution. "We ask the world at large to bridle the Zionist attacks on our people and to adopt punitive measures against the Zionist terrorist government that publicly declared intention to inflict a holocaust on the Gaza Strip," he elaborated. Nunu also said that the Arab countries’ warning of canceling the Arab "peace initiative" was a step in the right direction in the light of the continued "Zionist terrorism" and flagrant violation of all human values.

Report: Peres says Israel will not act alone on Iran
Reuters, YNetNews 3/8/2008
Israel will not consider unilateral action to stop Iran getting a nuclear bomb President Shimon Peres was quoted as saying on Saturday. In an interview with France’s Le Figaro newspaper ahead of a trip to Paris next week, Peres said, however, if economic sanctions failed to persuade Iran to stop its contested nuclear program then "non-military options would be used up The United Nations has imposed sanctions on Iran to pressure it to suspend uranium enrichment. The United States and other major powers suspect Iran is enriching uranium as part of a covert effort to develop a nuclear bomb. Iran says it is only interested in civilian nuclear energy. "I would prefer to stop the development of the bomb without recourse to war. Sanctions have proved their efficacy in the past," Peres said, citing decisions by Libya, South Africa and North Korea to renounce nuclear plans.

Captive’s father: Government not putting the boys first
Hagai Einav, YNetNews 3/8/2008
Tens of thousands take part in weekend hike dedicated to kidnapped IDF soldiers. Ehud Goldwasser’s father decries leadership’s unwillingness to put efforts for their safe return at top of nation’s priorities - "Bringing the boys home is a national interest and it must be at the top of Israel’s priorities. That is message to the government and the man heading it, that is our message to our elected officials in the Knesset, but unfortunately this is something that hasn’t happened," Shlomo Goldwasser lamented at a speech given at the closing ceremony of the annual Yokneam popular hike on Saturday afternoon. Some 40,000 people participated in this year’s event, which was dedicated to kidnapped soldiers Eldad Regev, Gilad Shalit and Goldwasser’s son, Ehud. Hikers set out on the 7-mile course under the banner of ’March, and never forget.

Study: Young American Jews are not detached from Israel
Shmuel Rosner, Ha’aretz 3/8/2008
WASHINGTON - A study published last week in the United States challenges the prevailing assumption that American Jews have become alienated from Israel in recent years, and particularly the assumption that the younger generation is less attached to Israel than their parents’ generation was at their age. The study released last Wednesday by the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University maintains that there has been no decline, nor will there be one. "Jewish attachment to Israel has largely held steady for the period 1994-2007," the study says, adding that there are "strong reasons for rejecting the prevailing pessimism regarding the future relationship of American Jews to Israel." In a conversation with Haaretz, two of the study’s three authors, Len Saxe and Ted Sasson, said the sources they examined suggest that young American Jews are indeed less attached to...

News in Brief
Ha’aretz 3/8/2008
Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University, apologized Friday for saying that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should be shot should the government "give away Jerusalem," The New York Jewish Week reports. Schachter made the statement to Kotel Yeshiva students in Jerusalem, Jewish Week said, quoting a clip posted on YouTube. Schachter also called for dodging Israel Defense Forces service if the army breaks the law. (Shlomo Shamir) The Jewish Agency will start a drive this week to raise support for Israel and its fight against terror among Jewish communities around the world, following the attack on Mercaz Harav yeshiva last Thursday. Hundreds of JA and World Zionist Organization envoys will receive kits with photographs of the attack and information material to hold memorial events and rallies. The campaign is also aimed to counter pro-Palestinian campaigns following the IDF’s operation in the Gaza Strip, which killed 120 Palestinians.

MK Yatom: Must be division between east, west Jerusalem
Yael Branovsky, YNetNews 3/8/2008
Knesset member refers to Thursday’s attack on yeshiva, which was carried by east Jerusalem resident, and calls for division of capital city - "We couldn’t have prevented an attack in which the attacker originates from Israel because in east Jerusalem there are Palestinians with blue identity cards (who can move about freely). How many more attacks will we need to go through in order to understand that this is freedom of movement is dangerous? " Knesset Member Dani Yatom rhetorically asked in Beersheba on Saturday. Yatom addressed Thursday’s terrorist attack on the Mercaz Harav seminary in Jerusalem that left eight dead saying: "(Israeli-Arabs) can get to any town in Israel. We must ensure some sort of supervision so those who live in east Jerusalem and have blue identity cards can’t cross into Israel without regulation and monitoring."

Stories of the in-between
Elias Farkouh, Al-Ahram Weekly 3/6/2008
Ard al-Yambous (Land of Limbo), Elias Farkouh, Amman: Al Mouassassa and Al Arabiya and Azminah, 2007. pp233 Elias Farkouh Elias Farkouh’s novel Ard al-Yambous (Land of Limbo), which is on the shortlist for the 2008 Arabic Booker Prize, is a work that "combines the structure of the autobiography of a specific man with the biography of exiled man in general," according to the citation by the jury for the award. It is a novel "that discusses the power of time and the vulnerability of the human being in a fresh and original language, using a number of different voices." Born in 1948 in Amman, Jordan, in his novel Farkouh recounts fragments of his own autobiography, giving details of his movements between Amman and Jerusalem as a child, and his relationship with his childhood sweetheart, Mariam, against a background of exile and war.

Moment of silence marred in Sakhnin
Ali Gali, Oren Yermiyahu and Moshe Boker, Ha’aretz 3/9/2008
Bnei Sakhnin’s efforts yesterday to secure a ticket to Europe were marred by fans who booed during a moment of silence in memory of the yeshiva students murdered Thursday. The Israel Football Association called for the moment of silence. Sakhnin spokesman Mundar Haleileh insisted his club honored the moment of silence, "but we don’t have full control over all fans. The association made the decision, and perhaps mixing politics with soccer is a matter to be discussed." The game ended in a 1-1 draw. Sakhnin midfielder Khaled Khalaula commented, "It’s a shame the crowd acted like this and didn’t stand for the moment of silence." Team chair Mazen Genaim congratulated "the majority" who did honor the gesture, "but there was a handful of people frustrated socioeconomically, and the stands are a place for them to unleash their frustration."

Average monthly wage grew 2% in 2007
Moti Bassok, Ha’aretz 3/9/2008
Mekorot and electric company workers are still the highest paid The average gross monthly wage for salaried employees rose in 2007 by 2% to NIS 7,645, up from NIS 7,466 in 2006. According to figures released last Thursday by the Central Bureau of Statistics, there were 2. 807 million salaried employees in Israel in 2007. This included 2. 717 million Israelis, 70,000 legal foreign workers and 19,000 from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The total number of salaried positions in 2007 rose 4. 7%. The average salary for Israelis was NIS 7,767 a month gross, but foreign workers received only NIS 4,281 on average. The lowest salaries went to foreigners working in home nursing care, who earned only NIS 1,988 a month in gross terms. This certainly does not compare to the highest paid on the list: Workers of the Israel Electric Corporation and the Mekorot water company, who made an average of NIS 18,322 a month.

North Korea’s leader expresses hope for stronger friendship with Syria
Associated Press, YNetNews 3/8/2008
Hermet Kingdom hopes for further cooperation between two states; North Korea is suspected of aiding Syrian development of non-conventional weapons - North Korean leader Kim Jong Il hopes for stronger friendship with Syria, the North’s official news agency reported Saturday, amid lingering Suspicions of a secret nuclear connection between the two countries. Kim expressed the hope in a message to Syrian President Bashar Assad on the anniversary of a 1963 coup that brought Syria’s Baath Arab Socialist Party to power, the North’s Korean Central News Agency reported. "I express my firm belief that the friendly cooperative relations between the two countries will be further expanded and strengthened in various areas," Kim said in the message. The North’s No. 2 leader, Kim Yong Nam, sent a similar message to the Syrian president, KCNA said.


Articles


Interview with Fouad al-Khuffash about Palestinian women prisoners
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center 3/9/2008
      Q. Please introduce yourself for our listeners.
     Fouad al-Khuffash, the Director of the Ahrar Center for the Rights of Detainees. Our Center runs a website documenting the stories of Palestinian detainees - their issues and the suffering they face in the prisons of the Israeli occupation.
     Q. Recently, you published a report about detainee Ahlam Jawhar.Can you tell us, first, when was Ahlam abducted by the Israeli occupation forces, and what has happened to her since then?
     Sister Ahlam Jawhar is a thirty-year old Palestinian woman who was living with her family in Huwwara village near Nablus.She works in the human rights field as a peace activist, with the group ’Friends of Humanity International’, based in Vienna, Austria.Sister Ahlam was kidnapped forty days ago on January 12th, 2008.Since then, she was subjected to the ugliest sorts of torture in Peta Tikva interrogation facility, located on the part of Palestine that has been occupied by Israel since 1948. She was barred from meeting with her lawyer during interrogation. They subjected her to psychological torture by preventing her from sleeping, and forcing her to stand with her hands raised for long periods of time.

Global sisterhood: Pillars of Humankind

Leila Diab, Middle East Online 3/8/2008
      One of the most powerful and heart wrenching photographsI have ever seen or have takenwas the scene of a Palestinian woman, while walking arm and arm, and shoulder to shoulder, with hundreds of Palestinian women and children in the streets ofManger Square in the occupied territories of Palestine. Then all of a sudden she hurled and raised up a Palestinian flag high enough to reach the sky.Her voice was not heard alone as she tried to invoke change in the lives of the unheard voices.However, many women inside and outside the occupied territories of Palestine and in the world regions of despair today, continue to create a global sisterhood and rebuild the pillars of humanity.
     In the month of March, Women’s History andduring the recognition of International Women’s Day on March 8th,women and young girl pillars of humankind from the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, South America, China, New Zealand and throughout our global universe, will once again echo a very loud solemn encouragement to world nations and its leaders to restore a struggling humanitarian environment that is in desperate need to aid those without food or shelter, no running water, severe unemployment as well as a lack of basic human rights. And as half of the world’s population, women are affected the most by virtually an ever to visible and alarming gender inequality and social violence.

Tear down Israel’s wall and dance!

Checkpoint 303 – JERUSALEM, Middle East Online 3/8/2008
      We had nearly finished getting our gear off the stage when someone from the audience came up to congratulate us on our show. After telling us how much he enjoyed the music and video projection, he added, with a slightly troubled look on his face: “…but I have a problem. Isn’t it somehow wrong to dance to music that deals with the Palestinian cause?” He explained that while he found himself dancing to some of the more up-beat songs, he could not help asking himself whether it was okay to dance to the message our music embodies.
     We were pleased to hear about his ‘dilemma’. This is precisely what our band, Checkpoint 303, is all about. Instead of telling the audience what to think about the issue of Palestine, which would be a ridiculously naïve attitude, we try to trigger a reflective process in our listeners.

Consistent demands

Serene Assir, Al-Ahram Weekly 3/6/2008
      In response to Israel’s brutal incursion into the occupied Gaza Strip which began last Friday and during the course of which at least 115 Palestinians have been killed, Egyptians voiced their anger in a series of demonstrations. The largest came on Sunday when over 1,000 students at Cairo University called for an immediate end of the incursion, as well as the siege of Gaza. Protesters also demanded that Egypt open the Rafah terminal unilaterally.
     "Though the protest began inside university grounds gradually we made our way to the gate and broke through the police line," said fourth- year law student and member of the Socialist Students organisation May El-Bassiouni. Reiterating the stand of opposition movements, she added that, "we also demanded Israel’s diplomatic presence in Egypt be expelled".

Dressed up diplomacy

Doaa El-Bey, Al-Ahram Weekly 3/6/2008
      US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice paid a two-day visit to the region in the hope of reviving the stalled momentum of the Annapolis meeting which had attempted to kick-start the peace process, improve humanitarian conditions for Palestinians on the ground and move towards implementing the international peace plan known as the roadmap. "My intention is to focus on those three pillars of Annapolis," she said before a joint press conference with her Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Abul-Gheit.
     There was no sign any plans had emerged capable of promoting a sustained ceasefire though Abul-Gheit said at the press conference that they had at least agreed on the necessary steps: a halt to the firing of rockets from Gaza and an end to what he called Israel’s "unequal use of force". What the region needs, said Abul-Gheit, is "a period of quiet to open the way for energetic pursuit of peace".

Full steam ahead

Lucy Fielder, Al-Ahram Weekly 3/6/2008
      Washington dispatched the USS Cole destroyer to Lebanon’s shores late last week, a gesture that intensified fears of a coming war and deepened already sharp divisions between the US- supported government and the opposition led by Hizbullah.
     US officials ironically said the move was aimed at regional stability, though it is clear to both sides of the political divide in Lebanon that the very opposite could well be the outcome. Many saw the deployment as a way to step up pressure on Syria, which the US and the Lebanese government blame for a political deadlock and three-month-old presidential vacuum, and force a resolution to Lebanon’s political crisis that would favour its allies.
     The opposition’s most powerful component, Iranian and Syrian-backed Hizbullah, said the decision to send the warship threatened stability in Lebanon and the region and highlighted US policy failures. Three weeks after vowing retaliation against Israel for the assassination of its military commander Imad Mughniyah, Hizbullah also promised not to be deterred by the US action.

Semantic quibbles

Salama A Salama, Al-Ahram Weekly 3/6/2008
      When Israel says it will unleash "a holocaust" in Gaza -- the words are those of Israel’s [deputy] defence minister -- the threat must be taken seriously. Israel has repeatedly shown that it is capable of turning genocide, which the Nazis once inflicted on the Jews, against others, using state-of-the-art technology to pursue its aims while simultaneously creating such an effective media smokescreen as to successfully cover up its crimes, winning the understanding and pardon of the international community, and even of Arab states.
     The acts of war Israel has unleashed on Gaza -- indiscriminate strikes against civil structures that have turned many buildings into rubble and caused hundreds of innocent deaths, children among them -- have all the marks of a holocaust in the making. All that is needed is a few more Qassam missiles (the crude homemade canisters that have more in common with firecrackers than the ordinance Israel is dropping on Gaza) to give Israel an excuse to invade Gaza, raze it to the ground and kill and kidnap, as the world remains silent.

A long way from home

Shiri Lev-Ari, Ha’aretz 3/9/2008
      Gilad Elbom left Israel seven years ago and moved to the United States. He was following his love - of the English language. After completing his bachelor’s degree at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Elbom began writing stories in English. He traveled to Los Angeles, where he earned a master’s degree in creative writing. Now he is finishing his doctorate in English at the University of North Dakota. Elbom’s first book, "Scream Queens of the Dead Sea," has just been released in Hebrew (titled "Adon Hasimptomim," translated with Lea Shashko and published by Babel and Yedioth Sfarim).
     "Scream Queens of the Dead Sea" tells a partly autobiographical story of a discharged Israeli soldier who goes to university to study linguistics. In order to earn a living and fill his time, he finds a job at a mental health center in the Jerusalem area.
     "... I published an article online about the security fence, praising and extolling the wall for dividing between the good people of Israel and the Arabs who do not look nice, unwashed and unshaven, with their worn-out clothes. I wrote that the wall has no security justification, but rather an aesthetic one. A ton of Americans wrote me spiteful letters, calling me a racist. In Israel, on the other hand, people immediately caught on that it was satirical, and sent me spiteful letters, ’Leftist traitor, stay there. No one needs you here.’ That made me happy, because Israel has a tradition of satire and slightly more sophisticated writing."

Destructive Emotion

Arab News - Editorial, MIFTAH 3/8/2008
      Arabs are often accused of being too emotional over the Palestinian situation rather than calculating and manipulative like the Israelis. It is a notion to which many Arabs subscribe as well, seeing it as a major reason for Israel’s continued dominance over the Palestinians.
     It is, in fact, impossible not to be emotional in the face of the suffering and injustice endured by the Palestinians, especially at the moment with the brutal slaughter in Prison Camp Gaza? Only the inhuman can remain unmoved.
     But the theory of overemotionalism is not so simple. It is not a straightforward case of weak, divided, emotional Arabs outmaneuvered by calculating, manipulative Israelis.
     Events in Gaza provide evidence of that. The Israelis are being just as emotional and illogical as anyone else — indeed far more so. Their response to the rocket attacks from Gaza has been one of cruel, bullying blind rage — a mad outburst of bombs, tanks and missiles, killing well over a hundred men, women and children in response to just one Israeli killed. Hysterical threats of a “holocaust” in the Strip attest to a political mindset that is out of control, illogical and in conflict with Israel’s own long-tern interests.

A Human Tragedy Called Gaza

Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, MIFTAH 3/8/2008
      The picture of the human tragedy in Gaza is appalling.In the space of a few days, the Israeli army managed to kill 126 Palestinians and injure over 300.Over 40 of those killed were children.On the Israeli side, 2 soldiers and one civilian were killed and 7 injured.Watching the news on different TV channels and seeing the dead and injured was heartbreaking.Violence has a very ugly face and it has trapped both sides by its snares.
     This is not the first time that the government of Israel has used disproportionate force against Palestinians.Some analysts feel that Israel’s objective was to pressure the Palestinian leadership into calling off the bi-lateral talks resumed after Annapolis and especially after President Bush’s January 2008 visit to the area.
     At Annapolis, it was agreed that negotiations would resume in order to address the core issues of the conflict.After 18 rounds of talks between Abbas and Olmert, the negotiations have not advanced one iota.The fact is that Israel does not want the talks to come near Jerusalem, refugees or the settlements....

West Bank Barriers Keep Rising Despite Promises of Relief

Griff Witte, MIFTAH 3/8/2008
      Karim Edwan’s skepticism about the U.S.-backed Middle East peace process is rooted in his morning commute.
     To travel from his home in this West Bank village to his job as an emergency room doctor, the 35-year-old must take at least two cabs, skirt a barbed-wire fence, climb a dirt mound, talk his way through multiple Israeli checkpoints and remove his shoes for a full-body security check.
     Before the obstacles were imposed, the trip to his hospital in the West Bank city of Nablus took 30 minutes. Now it takes two hours.
     "It’s my daily humiliation," he said.
     It’s also part of the explanation for why there is little enthusiasm in the West Bank for negotiations with Israel, and why Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is in a bind over how to proceed.
     The hope of Abbas and other participants in the Annapolis peace talks last November was that the Israeli-occupied West Bank would become a model for what negotiations could bring.

Nakba again

Jonathan Cook, Al-Ahram Weekly 3/6/2008
      Clearing the Palestinians out of Gaza appears the ultimate aim of Israel’s declared strategy of genocide in the Strip.
     Israeli Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai’s much publicised remark about Gaza facing a "bigger shoah" -- the Hebrew phrase for the Holocaust -- was widely assumed to be unpleasant hyperbole about the army’s plans for an imminent full-scale invasion of the Strip.
     More significantly, however, the comment appears to indicate the direction of Israel’s longer-term strategy towards the Palestinians in the occupied territories.
     Vilnai, a former general, was interviewed by Army Radio last Friday as Israeli forces were in the midst of unleashing a series of air and ground strikes on populated areas of Gaza that by Monday had killed more than 100 Palestinians. Israeli Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi claimed that almost all the dead were armed; however, the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem revealed that at least half of those killed were not involved in hostilities, and 25 were children.