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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.

VTJP Archives | Newslinks Archives  
17 April 2008

News

Two killed in West Bank raid
Mark Tran, The Guardian 4/17/2008
Israeli troops killed a Palestinian militant and a teenager today during a raid in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian officials said. Islamic Jihad said the militant was Bilal Komel, 25, a military commander long-wanted by Israel. The second was identified as 19-year-old Ayed Zakarna. They were shot after Israeli soldiers surrounded the house in which they were believed to be hiding. An Israeli army spokeswoman said troops fired at militants after they refused to leave a car parked in the driveway of the home, in the Qabatiya refugee camp near the city of Jenin. Today’s raid followed the deadliest day in Gaza for a month, when 17 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and three Israeli soldiers, were killed. Hundreds of Palestinians, including many local journalists, took part in a funeral procession for a Reuters TV cameraman killed while covering yesterday’s fighting. His body was draped in a Palestinian flag and his shattered camera and flak jacket were raised on a separate stretcher.

Palestinian journalist killed by metal darts from Israeli shell · Thousands gather for Gaza funeral of cameraman
The Guardian 4/18/2008
A Palestinian journalist who died in Gaza on Wednesday was killed by metal darts from a shell fired by an Israeli tank, doctors said yesterday. Thousands gathered for the funeral of Fadel Shana, 23, a Reuters cameraman. His body was carried through the streets of Gaza City, draped in a Palestinian flag. His camera and bloodied flak jacket were carried on a second stretcher. Reuters said x-rays showed several inch-long darts, known as flechettes, embedded in Shana’s chest and legs as well as his flak jacket. His jacket was marked with a fluorescent "Press" sign and his car, which was not armoured, was marked Press and TV. Flechettes are small metal darts contained in some tank shells which explode above the ground and can cover a wide area.

Iman: six months in prison is nothing, but torture and sexual abuse are still present
Kristen Ess, Palestine News Network 4/17/2008
Iman’s brother was recently sentenced to 21 lifetimes plus 50 years in Israeli prison. He built the explosives that were detonated in an operation which killed 21 Israelis. He is a member of Katab Shohada Al Aqsa, the armed resistance wing affiliated with Fateh. Before he was arrested, Israeli forces took his sister, Iman, as "bait. " She describes being put in a cell one meter by one meter where she was able to sit with her arms around her knees and not allowed to sleep. "Every time I started to sleep they came and took me for more questions. They thought if I was tired I would say something about my brother or my friends. I never said anything. " Approximately 10,000 Palestinians are in Israeli prisons. One hundred of them are Palestinian Legislative Council members. Torture is widespread in Israeli prisons, as reported by the Palestinian Prisoner Society,. . .

Deputy FM: There are those whose blood is more precious than others’
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 4/17/2008
Leaders of the Arab sector infuriated by decision to drop charges against officers in Peki’in riots - The decision made by the Police Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) Thursday not to press charges against the five officers who fired into a crowd during the Peki’in riots has infuriated many Israeli Arabs. Various MKs and other public figures who have been longtime critics of the IAB can now count deputy Foreign Minister, Majalli Whbee (Kadima) among their ranks. "It is apparent that in Israel there are those whose blood is more precious than others’," said Whbee, "this decision is a direct continuation of the policy of ignoring police failings. " Hadash Chairman MK Mohammad Barakeh also criticized the decision, saying that "the last thing to surprise us is decisions of this kind coming from the same IAB that dropped charges against the murderers of our children in October 2006.

Carter calls Gaza blockade a ’crime and atrocity’
Reuters, Ha’aretz 4/18/2008
Former U. S. President Jimmy Carter called the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip a "crime and an atrocity" on Thursday, and said U. S. attempts to undermine the Islamist movement Hamas had been counterproductive. Speaking at the American University in Cairo after talks with Hamas leaders from Gaza, Carter said Palestinians in Gaza were being "starved to death", receiving fewer calories a day than people in the poorest parts of Africa. "It’s an atrocity what is being perpetrated as punishment on the people in Gaza. It’s a crime. . . I think it is an abomination that this continues to go on," Carter said. Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza after the Islamist group Hamas seized power over the impoverished coastal strip last June. Since then, Israel has allowed only basic staples to be transported through the border crossings it controls, into Gaza.

Netanyahu: I won’t carry out an Olmert-Abbas peace deal if elected
Associated Press, YNetNews 4/17/2008
Opposition leader favored by polls to sweep elections if held today rejects proposal to divide Jerusalem, says would toss out agreement between current PM, Palestinians - Opposition Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu has said if he is elected prime minister, he won’t carry out any peace deal with the Palestinians reached by the current Israeli leader, Ehud Olmert, the Makor Rishon daily reported on Thursday. Netanyahu told the paper that he would regard the election as a referendum on any such accord. If Olmert doesn’t win, ’’then you cannot cynically and manipulatively force upon the people a move they do not want,’’ Netanyahu said. Polls show that if elections were held today, Netanyahu would handily beat both Olmert and the Labor Party’s chairman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Netanyahu, leader of the Likud Party, also rejected the notion of sharing sovereignty over disputed Jerusalem with the Palestinians.

Settlers curse German lawmakers touring Hebron
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 4/17/2008
Police forced to intervene after group of right-wing activists began insulting German legislators near Tomb of the Patriarchs in West Bank city. Israeli ambassador in Berlin to personally apologize - A group of German members of parliament encountered a less-than-welcoming reception as they toured the West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday. As they approached the Tomb of the Patriarchs, several Israeli settlers and right-wing activists began calling out insults towards the lawmakers until a local police force stepped in and came between the two parties. The officers then escorted the German group until their departure. Officials from the Judea and Samaria District Police said they were investigating the incident. On Thursday the legislators, members of the German parliament’s law committee, issued a statement saying they had been cursed and threatened. . .

IDF troops do nothing as Hebron settlers threaten German MPs
Barak Ravid , and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 4/18/2008
A group of Jewish settlers in Hebron insulted and threatened a visiting German parliamentary delegation touring the West Bank city on Thursday. The German embassy in Israel protested to the Foreign Ministry that Israel Defense Forces soldiers and police officers did nothing to stop the settlers’ attacks. The German group cut short its visit to the city after the incident. The IDF declined to comment on the incident, while the Israeli embassy in Berlin issued an apology. Seven members of the German parliament’s law committee toured Hebron, the West Bank’s largest city. The IDF control the center of the city to protect several hundred Jewish settlers living there. At the start of the visit, the legislators were cursed, insulted and threatened by a small group of settlers, the visitors said in a statement on Thursday.

Health ministry warns: The anesthetic gas used to narcotize patients ran out
Palestinian Information Center 4/17/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The health ministry in Gaza warned Thursday that the surgical operation rooms in the Gaza hospitals were shut down and all surgeries were suspended after the anesthetic nitrous oxide used for narcotizing patients during surgeries was depleted. The ministry appealed to the international health organization and all health and human right institutions to necessarily move to end this disaster afflicted Gaza patients. The Wafa hospital for rehabilitation and specialist surgery in Gaza announced that its medical and administrative staff resumed providing medical services to the wounded and disabled cases after the hospital was bombed during Israeli aggression on Gaza. The hospital’s administration appealed to the international health and medical institutions to continue to support the hospital especially in light of the difficult conditions in Gaza as a result of the Israeli siege and aggression.

Eight children, journalist among yesterday’s Gaza dead
Report, PCHR, Electronic Intifada 4/17/2008
In the past 24 hours, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have escalated attacks against the Gaza Strip, while they maintained the tightened siege imposed on Strip. On Wednesday evening, 16 April 2008, and in less than half an hour, IOF killed 13 Palestinian civilians, including a journalist, eight children and two brothers, and wounded 32 others, including 17 children and a woman, in Juhor al-Dik village in the central Gaza Strip. They also razed large areas of agricultural land and demolished a number of houses during an incursion into the village. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights’s (PCHR) investigations strongly indicate that IOF used excessive force and willfully targeted journalists in spite of the clear markings on their suits and vehicles According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 04:00, IOF moved nearly 1,200 meters into Juhor al-Dik village in the central Gaza Strip.

Two senior Islamic Jihad leaders killed in Qabatia
Ma’an News Agency 4/17/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – Two senior leaders of Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades were killed on Thursday morning after Israeli forces besieged them in a house under construction in the northern West Bank town of Qabatia, south of Jenin. Sources within Al-Quds Brigades identified the victims as 26-year-old Bilal Kameel and 19-year-old Iz Addin ’Uwaidat. According to the Islamic Jihad sources Kameel was one of the senior Islamic Jihad leaders in the northern West Bank. The operation began at 2:30 am when an Israeli force accompanied by two bulldozers stormed the eastern neighborhood of Qabatia and besieged a house under construction where the two activists were hiding. The troops called them through loudspeakers asking them to surrender, but they refused and clashed with the Israeli soldiers who fired missiles at the house killing both activists.

UNRWA: Gaza siege led to uncontrollable humanitarian crisis
Palestinian Information Center 4/17/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees has warned that the tightened Israeli siege on Gaza for the past ten months especially fuel blockage had led to real disaster to one and a half million Palestinians. John Ging, the operations director of UNRWA, said that the siege, which culminated in blocking fuel supplies for over a week, was posing real danger to the lives of the Strip’s populace and was causing a humanitarian crisis that is hard to control. Ging called for the immediate return of fuel supplies to Gaza to enable its inhabitants to live in dignity, noting that they are protected by international laws and legitimacy. The UN official said that the Israeli step of allowing minimum quantities of cooking gas and fuel for the sole electricity generation station in Gaza was "not enough", adding that the Strip was in need of all kinds. . .

Arab paper: Olmert offers Abbas 64% of W. Bank
Jerusalem Post 4/17/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has offered the Palestinians 64 percent of the West Bank as part of a future peace agreement, London-based Asharq Al-Awsat reported Wednesday. According to the report, Olmert told PA President Mahmoud Abbas that the Palestinians could "forget about territory west of the security fence. " The prime minister also presented Abbas with several offers regarding Jerusalem. One of these would have Israel maintaining control over east Jerusalem and holy sites, but allowing Palestinians to enter those sites. [end]

IOF troops assassinate Jihad commander and his associate
Palestinian Information Center 4/17/2008
JENIN, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces at dawn Thursday assassinated two commanders of the Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad Movement, in Qabatia town, Jenin district. Local sources said that town residents found the body of Bilal Kemail, 25, who is the Quds Brigades commander, and his associate Ezzeddin Zakarna, 19, in a deserted house in the village. They said that IOF troops encircled the house east of Qabatia at 0200 local time and engaged the resistance fighters for a few hours before killing them. Bodies of the two martyrs were burnt, locals said, and noted that two brothers of Zakarna were previously killed at the hands of IOF soldiers. The IOF soldiers on Thursday kidnapped ten Palestinians in Nablus city after breaking into many houses. The Hebrew media reported that IOF troops rounded up 23 Palestinians in the West Bank over the past 24 hours.

Palestinian activist killed, two others injured in southern Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 4/17/2008
Gaza – Ma’an –An activist from Hamas’ military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades was killed and two others were injured in clashes with Israeli troops near the Kerem Shalom crossing in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, according to Palestinian medical sources. Mu’awiya Hassanain, the director of ambulance and emergency services in the Palestinian health ministry said that the ministry had to liaise with the Israeli authorities to let ambulances take the dead man and the injured activists to Abu Yousif An- Najjar Hospital in Rafah. Palestinian medical sources identified the dead man as Usama Abu ’Anza. Also on Thursday the Al-Qassam Brigades announced that two of their activists, Abdullah Sulaiman and Muhammad Al-Mutawwaq, succumbed to wounds they sustained a few days ago in an ambiguous explosion in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip.

Hamas asks all armed wings to retaliate to IOF massacres
Palestinian Information Center 4/17/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement has called on its armed wing the Qassam Brigades and armed wings of all Palestinian factions to retaliate to the Israeli occupation forces’ massacre in Breij in central Gaza on Wednesday. Hamas regretted the fact that Arab countries were receiving Israeli leaders in their capitals and supply them with petrol, which is used in killing Palestinian women and children, while Palestinian ambulance vehicles could not find enough fuel to rescue the wounded and evacuate the victims. It urged PA chief Mahmoud Abbas to return to the "embraces of his people before it is too late", adding that the Palestinian people would not remain patient for long. Hamas said that the new IOF massacre in Breij would only "double our people’s insistence on confronting the occupiers", who were exposed before the world for targeting civilians.

Gaza Strip braces for more violence
Middle East Online 4/17/2008
The Gaza Strip braced for more violence on Thursday after three Israeli soldiers and 18 Palestinians, one a cameraman for an international news agency, were killed in a helicopter-backed incursion. Hamas has vowed to avenge Wednesday’s assault on the impoverished territory, but Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the Islamist movement bears "direct responsibility" for the fighting. "We consider that Hamas bears sole, direct responsibility for what happened in Gaza and it will pay the price," Olmert said in an interview with Israel’s Maariv newspaper. Israel has repeatedly threatened to launch a widescale operation to oust Hamas from the Gaza, but local media have speculated that it may wait until after the Jewish Passover holiday, which begins on Saturday. Police have gone on high alert for the holiday, deploying thousands of reinforcements throughout the country as the. . .

10 rockets fired at southern Israel
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 4/17/2008
Attacks on western Negev resume as Qassams land in Eshkol, Sdot Negev and Sha’ar Hanegev regional councils. Two rocket falls outside Ashkelon. No injuries or damage reported - Ten rockets were fired from Gaza at southern Israel since Wednesday night, landing in open fields in the western Negev. No injuries or damage were reported in any of the attacks. Four of the rockets landed within Eshkol Regional Council limits, three fell in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council and one landed south of the town of Netivot - a location scarcely targeted by the Palestinians. Two rockets landed outside Ashkelon as well: One rocket landed in the city’s industrial zone on Thursday afternoon, shortly after a siren sounded in the area. Wednesday night saw the city’s residents awake to the sound of the Color Red alert near 3:30 am: "I woke up to the sound of two distant blasts.

IDF foils infiltration from Gaza
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 4/17/2008
Desert Patrol force identifies Palestinian cell approaching fence near Kerem Shalom border crossing, opens fire at gunmen, killing one and wounding another. Palestinians say men belonged to Hamas - An IDF force thwarted an attempt by three Palestinian gunmen to infiltrate Israel near the Kerem Shalom border crossing in southern Gaza Thursday noon. A Desert Patrol force indentified a cell of three Palestinians approaching the border fence and opened fire at them. One of the men was killed and a second one was injured, while the third managed to escape and is currently being pursued by the soldiers. Hamas confirmed that one of its operatives was killed in a clash with the IDF near the Kerem Shalom crossing, but did not report whether the clash occurred during an infiltration attempt.

Palestinians fire at trucks transporting fuel to Gaza
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 4/17/2008
Despite complaints of fuel shortages, terrorists attempt to disrupt fuel supply to Strip - Shooting themselves in the foot: Only a week after the lethal terror attack at the Nahal Oz fuel terminal, and after complaining of fuel shortages, terror groups are again targeting Israelis supplying fuel to the Gaza Strip. Thursday afternoon, Palestinians opened fire at trucks transporting fuel to the Strip at the Nahal Oz fuel terminal. No injuries or damages were reported in the latest attack. The fuel supply to Gaza was renewed on Wednesday, after the transport of diesel fuel was halted for a week. On Monday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered that the fuel supply to the Gaza power station be renewed. The decision was taken after Egyptian authorities requested the move.

Israeli forces arrest 20 Palestinians across West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 4/17/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Twenty Palestinians were seized by Israeli forces on Thursday in cities across the West Bank. Israeli forces arrested 11 Palestinians in several neighborhoods of the northern West Bank city of Nablus. Palestinian security sources told Ma’an’s reporter that more than 50 Israeli military vehicles raided the city from three directions overnight. They ransacked several homes under the pretext of searching for ’wanted’ activists, before arresting 11 people. 8 others were seized in the district of Tulkarem and one in the district of Salfit. [end]

Islamic Jihad’s military wing targets Israeli towns
Ma’an News Agency 4/17/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Palestinian resistance on Thursday intensified homemade projectiles attacks on Israeli towns bordering the Gaza Strip. The military wing affiliated to Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades claimed responsibility for firing six homemade projectiles at the Israeli towns of Sderot, Ashkelon and Nir Yitzhaq. They said in a statement that the shelling was in retaliation for Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. [end]

Press statement by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967
United Nations Human Rights Council, ReliefWeb 4/17/2008
The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, John Duggard, issued the following statement today: GENEVA -The blood-letting in Gaza, and to a lesser extent, the West Bank continues. On Wednesday 16 April, around 20 Palestinians were killed in Israeli military operations. The majority of those killed were civilians and five were children. On the same day three Israeli soldiers were killed. How long is this madness to continue without serious international intervention? It has become clear to many responsible persons with experience of the conflict, both in Israel and elsewhere, that only direct negotiations or talks between the real parties involved - Israel and Hamas - can stop the killings. Israel’s unwillingness to talk to Hamas is understandable, given Hamas’ hostility to the State of Israel.

VIDEO - News / 20 Palestinians, three IDF soldiers killed in Gaza Strip
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 4/17/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 news roundup for April 16, 2008. 20 Palestinians are killed in IDF strikes in the Gaza Strip. Hamas militants kill three IDF soldiers in an ambush in Gaza. Thousands sing happy birthday to Pope Benedict XVI at a white house ceremony [end]

Palestinians mark "Prisoner Day," demand freedom of 12,000 captives
Khalid Amayreh in Occupied East Jerusalem, Palestinian Information Center 4/17/2008
Palestinians all over the West Bank and Gaza Strip are marking the "Prisoner Day," with a series of activities and events meant to highlight the enduring plight of more than 12,000 Palestinians languishing in Israeli dungeons and detention camps, some for over  thirty years. Israel resorts to mass arrests of Palestinian activists and intellectuals in order to weaken the Palestinian society’s will to resist Israel’s Nazi-like occupation of Palestine. Israel also hopes to use the prisoners as a bargaining chip in any  prospective final-status deal with the Palestinian Authority. More to the point, the apartheid Israeli state routinely uses physical and psychological torture against prisoners, mostly for the purpose of extracting confessions from them. Some of the prisoners who undergo the nightmarish experience are forced to give false confessions to escape further torture.

IMEMC: Palestinians Prisoners day: 9750 Palestinians are imprisoned by Israel
International Solidarity Movement 4/17/2008
As Palestinians marked the Prisoners National Day on Thursday, official records showed that Israel still holds 9750 Palestinian political detainees. Since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Israeli troops have taken a total of 750, 000 Palestinian political detainees, the equivalent to all Palestinians families having had one of their sons imprisoned once or twice. In a report issued by the Palestinian Authority, ‘Political Detainees in the Israeli Affairs Ministry’: from those 9750 prisoners 8030 are from the West Bank, 920 from the Gaza Strip, while the remaining 800 are from Jerusalem: Palestinians with Israeli citizenship and from several Arab countries. 49 of those kidnapped by the Israelis are Palestinian law makers who won the January 2006 Parliamentary elections.

Weekly Report on Israeli human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 10 - 16 Apr 2008
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights - PCHR, ReliefWeb 4/16/2008
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Escalate Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) - 29 Palestinians, including 10 children and a journalist, were killed by IOF in the Gaza Strip. - 13 of the victims, including 8 children, 2 brothers and a journalist, were killed by IOF in Juhor al-Dik village in the central Gaza Strip. - 2 of the victims were extra-judicially executed by IOF. - 81 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 41 children, 3 women and a journalist, were wounded by IOF in IOF in the Gaza Strip. - 8 Palestinian civilians and an Israeli journalists were wounded by IOF in the West Bank. - IOF conducted 48 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and 6 ones into the Gaza Strip. - IOF arrested 52 Palestinian civilians, including 14 children, in the West Bank, and held and arrested 56 others in the Gaza Strip.

Arab Israelis to get apartheid lessons in South Africa
Sharon Roffe-Ophir, YNetNews 4/18/2008
Delegation to learn about struggle against establishment, killing of citizens by government - Arab study trip abroad: An official Arab-Israeli delegation will head to South Africa over the weekend in order to learn about the local population’s struggle with apartheid and the killing of citizens by the government. The delegation, which has been initiated by the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, will be joined by Shawki Khatib, who heads the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, as well as relatives of Arabs killed in the October 2000 riots. This marks the first time the Monitoring Committee takes the sensitive subject out of Israel’s borders. The group says it believes that no official Israeli body will be seeking the truth regarding the events of October 2000, which left 13 Arabs dead.

Closure on territories ahead of Passover
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 4/17/2008
Defense minister orders full closure on West Bank, Gaza ahead of Passover holiday. IDF will continue to issue entry permits in humanitarian cases - A full security closure will be imposed on the West Bank and Gaza Strip as of Thursday night and for the duration of Passover. This as part of increased efforts on the part of security forces to combat numerous terror threats as the holiday approaches. In accordance with the decision made by Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the political echelon, entry into Israel from the West Bank will only be permitted on humanitarian grounds and after consideration is given to the current security assessment. Police have also completed their deployment for the holiday after having raised the alert level throughout the country on Wednesday. The defense establishment cites nine specific alerts based on intelligence information warning of viable terror plots.

Palestinian territories under total closure during Passover
Ma’an News Agency 4/17/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Israeli authorities are to impose a total closure of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the Jewish holiday of Passover. The closure will begin at midnight on Thursday and will end on Sunday April 27. The closure means that Palestinians will only be able to enter Israel in cases of emergency, which should be coordinated with the Israeli civil liaison offices.

Palestinian boy found dead near Israeli settlement
Ma’an News Agency 4/17/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – A Palestinian boy from the northern West bank village of Beit Fureik near Nablus was found dead on Wednesday afternoon near the Israeli settlement of Al-Hamra. 15-year-old Hamid Khatatba had been missing for tor two days before his body was found, his cousin told Ma’an. The boy was employed as an agricultural worker in the Jordan Valley northeast of Nablus. His cousin accused Israeli settlers of the killing, pointing out that the boy’s neck was broken and there were signs of torture and blood on the body. He also highlighted that the Israeli authorities have refused to hand over Hamid’s body to his family. [end]

Palestinians demand release of prisoners held by Israel
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 4/18/2008
NABLUS, Occupied West Bank: Palestinians held demonstrations across the Occupied West Bank Thursday in honor of Prisoner’s Day and over 11,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails. In the north around 2,000 people gathered in the heart of Nablus, waving Palestinian flags and holding large, framed portraits of loved ones, an AFP correspondent said. "The issue of Palestinian and Arab prisoners is very importantand we cannot talk of peace with the [Israeli] occupation without the release of all Palestinian prisoners," said Nablus Governor Jamal al-Muhaisen. Demonstrators held banners reading "No peace without the release of prisoners" and "Prisoners, Jerusalem, refugees, and borders are red lines for all the Palestinian people. "Others held portraits of Marwan Barghouti, a popular West Bank leader arrested in 2002 and sentenced two years later by an Israeli court to five life terms after being convicted of involvement in deadly attacks.

Rights group: IDF must ban shell that killed cameraman in Gaza
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 4/18/2008
An investigation into the death of a Palestinian cameraman who was killed Wednesday in the Gaza Strip revealed that he had been hit by a Flechette shell fired from an Israel Defense Forces tank, prompting the human rights group B’Tselem to reiterate their demand to discontinue the use of this fatal type of munition. The Flechette shell explodes in the air and releases thousands of metal darts which disperse in a conical arch three hundred meters long and some ninety meters wide. The use of this type of shell increases the likelihood that someone other than the target will be hit by the shell’s darts, thus endangering innocent civilians. Fadel Shana, 23, was working for the news agency Reuters filming Israeli tanks when he was killed. Two other Palestinian civilians were also killed in the same incident.

Israeli forces in Gaza "willfully kill" journalist
Report, PCHR, Electronic Intifada 4/17/2008
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the crime committed by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on Wednesday evening, which took the life of Fadel Shana’a, a Palestinian journalist, when he carrying out his job in Gaza. PCHR expresses utmost concern over continued crimes committed by IOF against journalists and media professionals, which is a reflection of excessive use of force against civilians, and systematic targeting of journalists to prevent them from covering crimes committed against civilians. According to information obtained by PCHR, and the testimony of Wafa Abu Mezyed, a Reuters soundman who was wounded in the attack, at approximately 17:00 on Wednesday, 16 April 2008, Fadel Subhi Shana’a, 23, a cameraman, and Wafa Younsi Abu Mezyed, 25, a soundman, both working for Reuters, were near al-Ihasn Mosque in Juhor al-Dik village, southeast of Gaza City, documenting crimes committed by IOF in the area.

VIDEO - Reuters cameraman ’killed by Israeli tank’
Mark Sweney, The Guardian 4/17/2008
Warning: video includes graphic images of dead bodies which some may find disturbingMedical examination of the body of Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana confirms that he was killed by an Israeli tank shell in Gaza yesterday, according to the news agency. Shana, the 23-year-old Reuters cameraman killed in an explosion in Gaza, also appears to have captured footage of a tank opening fire on the vehicle in which he was travelling. The cameraman, who died along with two youths who were nearby, had stepped away from his vehicle to film an Israeli tank dug in several hundred metres away, according to a report filed by Reuters. Fadel Shana: the Reuters cameraman killed in Gaza - Video from Shana’s camera. . .

Controversial ’darts’ from tank shell killed cameraman in Gaza, say doctors
The Independent 4/17/2008
Bordered by lemon trees on one side and an olive grove on the other, the country lane leading to Joher Al Dik where Fadel Shana was killed doing his job was all but deserted yesterday afternoon. But two teenage boys from the Nusseirat refugee camp displayed half a dozen of the dull black inch-long darts which they said they had found among the cactus growing along the verge opposite where Mr Shana had parked his unarmoured SUV to film a tank on Wednesday afternoon. According to doctors who examined the body of the 23 -year-old Palestinian Reuters cameraman at Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, it was controversial darts like those, known as flechettes, fired from an Israeli tank shell that explodes in the air, that caused his death. X-rays displayed to Reuters showed several of the flechettes embedded in the dead man’s chest and legs, and more were found in his flak jacket, clearly emblazoned, like his vehicle, with "TV" and "Press" signs.

3 more dead today and 33 arrested on Palestinian Prisoners Day
Palestine News Network 4/17/2008
PNN - Israeli forces killed a 23 year old member of Saraya Al Quds, the armed resistance wing of Islamic Jihad, Thursday morning, Bilal Kamil. The attack came this morning to Jenin’s town of Qabatiya in the northern West Bank. Israeli forces also killed a 16 year old boy, Izzadin Zakarna, during the invasion. Members of the armed resistance were defending against the invasion and particular house. Israeli forces had encircled a home and began firing. The armed resistance returned fire. During this exchange the resistance member and the teenager were shot by Israeli forces. Also throughout the West Bank this morning Israeli forces arrested 26 Palestinians, on this day, "Palestinian Prisoners Day. "Another 10 were taken from Nablus during an early morning invasion. And another man died of injuries sustained during recent Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.

Police officers investigated in connection with Peki’in riots cleared
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 4/17/2008
Police Internal Affairs Bureau drops charges against five officers suspected of firing into crowd in northern town riots in October 2007; says officers’ claims of life threatening situation could not be refuted - The Police Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) announced Thursday that it will not be pressing charges against the five officers who fired into a crown during the Peki’in riots in October 2007. The case against four of the officers was dropped due to insufficient evidence. The fifth officer was cleared of all charges. October saw the residents of the northern town of Peki’in stage a protest against the mounting of a new cellular antenna in their town. The protest turned violent after police forces entered the area in an attempt to disperse the protest, which at that point turned into an outright riot.

Egyptian police kill one, arrest two crossing into Israel
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 4/18/2008
EL-ARISH, Egypt: Egyptian police shot dead an Eritrean man and wounded two more people on Thursday as they tried to cross the border illegally into Israel, a security official said. The dead man was aged around 30 and was shot in the Sinai peninsula near the 250-kilometer border between Egypt and Israel, the official said. Two more men - another Eritrean and a Sudanese - were wounded and taken to hospital where the Sudanese was reported to be in a serious condition. In recent months Egypt has arrested dozens of illegal immigrants trying to sneak into Israel from the Sinai in search of work. Several have been killed while trying to cross the frontier. [end]

OPT: Huelva people support the displaced of Nahr El Bared camp
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in, ReliefWeb 4/17/2008
Huelva city has donated USD$13,514 to UNRWA’s Emergency Appeal to provide Palestinians affected by the Nahr El-Bared conflict with food parcels. Thanks to the generous donation of the people of the Huelva through the FAMSI fund, 281 families, displaced from Nahr El Bared, have received food parcels for one month. Huelva is a city of 146,173 inhabitants located along the Cadiz coast, in Andalusia Spain. FAMSI is the Andalusian Fund of Municipalities for International Solidarity. It is a Coordination Office with the aim to enforce the Humanitarian Action skills towards coordination of actions from several Andalusia municipalities and councils, financial institutions and society in general. The Fund resources are provided by volunteer fees, membership fees, partner agencies contributions and others as donations.

Abbas retracts his decision to honor female prisoners after Israeli censure
Palestinian Information Center 4/17/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Hebrew media on Thursday said that PA chief Mahmoud Abbas phoned Israeli parliament speaker Dalia Itzik last night to tell her that he backtracked on his decision to honor Palestinian female prisoners in Israeli jails. Itzik told Abbas that his intention to decorate imprisoned women would raise the ire of the Israeli community and many parliament members, adding that his idea was not consistent with the peace process talks. For her part, Israel foreign minister Tzipi Livni lashed out at Abbas’s intention to give medals to five Palestinian women in Israeli jails in honor of what he called "their sacrifices in detention". The PA chief had announced that he intended to honor female prisoners in the PA headquarters in Ramallah. In another context, while Gaza is drowning in the blood of dozens of Palestinians killed and wounded by the ongoing Israeli. . .

Palestinian prisoners: No more than bargaining chips for Israel
Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 4/17/2008
REUTERS/Fadi Arouri (WEST BANK) Women and children carrying pictures of their loved ones imprisoned in Israeli jails filled the streets of Palestinian towns and cities today as they marked Palestinian Prisoners Day. The question of prisoners is a burning issue that touches the hearts and lives of all Palestinian families, who have at least one member that has been arrested and imprisoned by the Israeli military. Since the beginning of its occupation of Palestine in 1967, Israel has detained more than 700,000 Palestinians. This is over 24% of the total Palestinian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, making Palestinians one of the populations most subjected to incarceration in the world.

Yishai to Carter: Tell Meshal that I want to discuss prisoner swap
Akiva Eldar, Ha’aretz 4/18/2008
Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai asked former U. S. President Jimmy Carter to tell Hamas leaders, including Khaled Meshal, that he would like to meet in order to expedite a prisoner exchange that would bring home kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. Yishai relayed his message to Carter during a meeting on Monday. The meeting was held at the request of the former president, who wanted to meet with Israeli political leaders from across the political spectrum. The meeting was arranged through the U. S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. Yishai’s bureau said he did not ask Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for permission to hold the meeting, nor did he tell Olmert what he discussed. Yishai said other Israeli officials erred in boycotting Carter. During the meeting, he told Carter that he opposed the former president’s use of the term "apartheid" in his book about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Abbas: No peace without prisoner release
Associated Press, YNetNews 4/17/2008
Abbas makes televised speech in honor of Palestinian ’Prisoners’ Day’, determines release of all Palestinian prisoners condition for peace - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, on his third and last day of a tour in Moscow, said a release of all Palestinian prisoners must be part of any peace deal with Israel. Abbas delivered the televised address Thursday to mark The Palestinian Authority’s ’Prisoners’ Day’. Palestinian sources say about 8,500 Palestinian prisoners are held in Israeli jails and detention centers. Rallies and marches were held throughout the West Bank to mark Prisoners’ Day. Earlier Abbas had called for a conference to take place in Russia as soon as possible, which would discuss the fate of the Middle East. He said that the conference was scheduled to be held in June. Prime Minister

Abbas says no peace with Israel unless all prisoners released
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 4/18/2008
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in televised speech Thursday that a release of all Palestinian prisoners must be part of any peace deal with Israel. Abbas delivered the televised address Thursday to mark Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. About 8,500 Palestinian prisoners are held in Israeli jails and detention centers. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are trying to reach a peace deal by the end of the year. Rallies and marches are planned throughout the West Bank on Thursday to mark Prisoners’ Day. The fate of prisoners is one of the most emotionally charged issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinians see prisoners as heroes in the struggle for statehood. To many Israelis, they are terrorists out to destroy the state. On Thursday, Abbas said that a Middle East peace conference will be held in Moscow in June.

Abbas uses Moscow visit to push for peace conference
Ezzedine Said, Daily Star 4/18/2008
Agence France Presse - MOSCOW: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on Thursday for a Middle East peace conference in Moscow "as soon as possible," saying this was needed to spur talks with Israel that were moving too slowly. "We want the Moscow conference to be held as soon as possible and we hope it will succeed in pushing the peace process forward," Abbas said in a lecture to Moscow university students. Confirming that discussions were still under way on a date, Abbas said a new impetus was needed to follow up a conference last November hosted by US President George W. Bush in Annapolis, Maryland. "I regret to say that there are obstacles hindering the application of what was agreed upon in Annapolis," said Abbas, whose visit was intended to lay the ground for the new conference, possibly at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday.

Haneyya calls for filing a lawsuit against Israel for its crimes against media
Palestinian Information Center 4/17/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ismail Haneyya, the premier of the caretaker government, extended his condolences to the family of slain cameraman Fadel Shana’ah and the Reuters news agency, calling on all international institutions concerned with the rights of journalists to hasten to expose Israel’s crimes against the media and file a lawsuit against it. Reuters published the details of the death of its cameraman Shana’ah after he was targeted by a tank projectile Wednesday evening in the central Gaza Strip. According to Reuters, an Israeli tank fired a shell at Shna’ah as he was getting off his car to cover the Israeli invasion and aggression in the Johr Ad-Dik area, while his colleague Wafa Abu Mazeed who works as a sound technician for the same news agency survived, but is being treated for shock. The Palestinian journalist bloc stated that the assassination of Shana’ah was premeditated in. . .

Hamas compares Gaza to Warsaw Ghetto
Ha’aretz 4/18/2008
Hamas’ Gaza-based leader Mahmoud al-Zahar yesterday compared activity against Israel in the Gaza Strip to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising against the Nazis. In an opinion piece published yesterday in The Washington Post, Zahar wrote: "Sixty-five years ago, the courageous Jews of the Warsaw ghetto rose in defense of their people. We Gazans, living in the world’s largest open-air prison, can do no less. " Zahar denounced Israel as waging a "total war" against the Palestinian people, which he said justified last week’s attack by Gaza militants on the Nahal Oz fuel depot. Zahar said that resistance was the only option left to the Palestinians. Zahar offered praise for former American president Jimmy Carter, who asked to meet with Hamas leaders. He added that peace talks cannot succeed unless Hamas takes part. Zahar wrote that the world must not forget that Israel turned the Palestinians into refugees.

Zahar: Gazans can do ’no less’ than rise up like Warsaw Ghetto Jews
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 4/18/2008
Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar writing in an opinion piece published Thursday in the Washington Post stated that Gazans can do ’no less’ than rise up against Israel like Jews in the Warsaw ghetto did against the Nazis. "Sixty-five years ago, the courageous Jews of the Warsaw ghetto rose in defense of their people. We Gazans, living in the world’s largest open-air prison, can do no less," Zahar wrote in the newspaper. The Gaza-based Hamas leader later decried Judaism as having "corrupted itself in the detour into Zionism, nationalism and apartheid. "In the Washington Post opinion piece, Zahar also denounced Israel as waging a "total war" against the Palestinian people, which he cited as an explanation for last week’s attack by Gaza militants on the Nahal Oz fuel depot, declaring that resistance was the only option left to the Palestinians.

Hamas vows to avenge deaths as Israel tries to shift blame
Agence France Presse, Daily Star 4/18/2008
Israel and the Islamist Hamas movement traded threats on Thursday, a day after fierce fighting in the Gaza Strip killed at least 18 Palestinians, most of them civilians. Hamas vowed to avenge Wednesday’s Israeli assault on the impoverished territory, but Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the Islamist movement bears "direct responsibility" for the fighting, which also killed three Israeli soldiers. "We consider that Hamas bears sole, direct responsibility for what happened in Gaza and it will pay the price," Olmert said in an interview with Israel’s Maariv newspaper. Israel has repeatedly threatened to launch a widescale operation to oust Hamas from Gaza, but the media has speculated that it may wait until after the week-long Jewish Passover holiday, which begins Saturday. Reacting to Wednesday’s violence, which also saw the deaths of five Palestinians under the age of 15,. . .

Carter meets with Gaza-based Hamas leaders in Cairo
Jailan Zayan, Daily Star 4/18/2008
Agence France Presse - CAIRO: Former US President Jimmy Carter met with Gaza-based leaders of Islamist Hamas in Cairo on Thursday, defying US and Israeli opposition that saw him barred from visiting the Palestinian territory. Nobel Peace laureate Carter,architect of the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty, met a delegation from Hamas including former Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar and party officical Said Siam at a Cairo hotel. Ahead of the talks, a Hamas official in Cairo who asked not to be identified told AFP that Carter, who has been snubbed by Israel and criticized by the US administration for wanting to meet Hamas, "is well disposed and we need that. "Egyptian security officials prevented journalists from speaking with Hamas officials at the Cairo hotel where talks were being held. After Cairo, Carter was due to continue his regional tour in Damascus, where. . .

Obama, Clinton pledge to defend Israel against Iran
Middle East Online 4/17/2008
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania - The Democratic White House hopefuls vowed Wednesday to defend Israel against any Iranian attack but differed on how to engage Tehran over its nuclear ambitions. At a televised debate ahead of next Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primary, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama agreed that a nuclear-armed Iran was unacceptable. Both called for diplomacy but Obama went further in renewing a promise of "direct talks" at a leaders’ level with Tehran, along with other US foes. Iran should be presented with "carrots and sticks," the Illinois senator said, while stressing "they should also know that I will take no options off the table when it comes to preventing them from using nuclear weapons or obtaining nuclear weapons. ""We cannot permit Iran to become a nuclear weapons power," Clinton said, ruling out any summit talks and condemning President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. . .

Carter: Gaza residents ’starving to death’
News agencies, YNetNews 4/18/2008
Former US president defends meetings with Hamas terrorists, tells university students in Egypt sanctions imposed on Gaza Strip are ’criminal atrocity’ after meeting in private with Hamas leaders. ’For every Israeli killed,’ says Carter, ’between 30 to 40 Palestinians are killed because of the extreme military capability of Israel’ - Former US President Jimmy Carter called the blockade of Gaza a crime and an atrocity on Thursday and said US attempts to undermine Hamas had been counterproductive. Speaking at the American University in Cairo after talks with Hamas leaders from, Carter said Palestinians in Gaza were being "starved to death" and received fewer calories a day than people in the poorest parts of Africa. "It’s an atrocity what is being perpetrated as punishment on the people in Gaza. "

Clinton vows ’massive’ U.S. retaliation if Iran attacks Israel
Shmuel Rosner, Ha’aretz 4/17/2008
Speaking at the Democratic Presidential debate Wednesday, U. S. Senator Hillary Clinton threatened to launch a "massive retaliation" if Iran decided to attack Israel. "I think that we should be looking to create an umbrella of deterrence that goes much further than just Israel," she responded to a question on this matter. "Of course I would make it clear to the Iranians that an attack on Israel would incur massive retaliation from the United States," the presidential hopeful added. The Democratic debate was held five days before the crucial primary vote in Pennsylvania, and the two candidates were trying to make a last pitch to the voters. It was a contentious debate, and Clinton’s rival, Senator Barak Obama, was getting most of the attention. Obama fielded tough questions dealing with past controversies, including the one surrounding. . .

One More Massacre against Children and Civilians in Gaza: "When will the World React?" asks Barghouthi
Palestinian National Initiative, Palestine Monitor 4/17/2008
Ramallah, 17-04-08: "A criminal massacre against children and civilians," was how PNI Secretary General Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi today described the killing of 22 Palestinians, including 6 children, in separate Israeli military attacks on the Gaza Strip and West Bank since yesterday. He added that the killing of a cameraman working for the Reuters news agency, who was traveling in a clearly identified press car at the time, "is an extreme case of a constant Israeli policy to prevent the exposure of its actions on the ground in the mainstream media. " "Palestinians live in a state of constant aggression" Pointing out that the Israeli military killed a total of 404 Palestinians in 2007, Dr. Barghouthi reported that the number of Palestinians killed in the 4 months since Annapolis now stands at 388, including 51 children.

Mayor to raise funds for E. J’lem Arabs to block Hamas
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 4/18/2008
Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski is planning to enlist world Jewry in a fund-raising drive for East Jerusalem’s Arabs, in a bid to counter Hamas influence in local schools. The money will be used mainly for educational projects in the east of the capital, where an acute classroom shortage means many pupils end up in schools identified with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. "It should be a national imperative that every East Jerusalem child has access to a state school," Lupolianski said yesterday. Jerusalem officials said the drive is the first such attempt to enlist world Jewry to help the capital’s Arab community. "The state should finance schools. But we’re losing many pupils because we lack hundreds of classrooms. Consequently, the pupils go to schools supervised by Fatah and Hamas instead. We may see the outcome in the years to come," Lupolianski said.

Assad: Syria preparing for a war it doesn’t want
Daily Star 4/18/2008
Syria thinks a war with Israel is possible and is preparing for such a conflict but does not want one, Syrian President Bashar Assad said in remarks published Thursday in the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in remarks published on Thursday that Israel and Syria have exchanged messages to clarify what each would expect of any future peace treaty. Olmert’s disclosure in an interview with the Yediot Ahronot newspaper was the premier’s strongest indication yet that Israel and Syria have been in contact. The Israeli leader has in recent months repeatedly expressed a willingness to resume peace talks, which broke down in 2000. "They know what we want from them, and I know full well what they want from us," Olmert told the Israeli newspaper. The premier did not disclose the content of the messages or provide other details about the contacts, the daily said.

How Many West Bank Barriers Will Israel Forgo?
Joshua Mitnick, MIFTAH 4/17/2008
This crossroads used to be a daily battle for Palestinian motorists, with traffic stretching a half-mile and wait time before inspection by Israeli soldiers longer than an hour. Now, as a small step toward peace that included Israel’s removal of 60 security barriers throughout the Palestinian territories, soldiers are gone from the road, and traffic between the northern West Bank and Jericho glides through the junction. With Israeli and Palestinian leaders trying to negotiate a peace deal this year, the checkpoint trial brokered by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last month seeks to break the zero-sum equation between Israel’s security and Palestinian economic prosperity. Untangling the maze is intended to improve daily life for Palestinians and boost Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas at the expense of Hamas, his Islamist rival in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Druze mark Syria’s independence
Hagai Einav, YNetNews 4/17/2008
Thousands of Druze Golan residents gather to mark Syrian Independence Day with flags, fireworks. Demonstrators express hopes of being reunited with families in Syria through peace treaty - Over 2,000 residents of the Druze town Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights gathered on Thursday to demonstrate their support of Syria on its 62nd Independence Day, wearing traditional Syrian clothing and waving Syrian flags. Their demonstration coincided with the anti-Israeli remarks made by Syrian President Bashar Assad. The demonstrators threw rice and set off fireworks. The demonstration took place on the ’Hill of Cries’ on the Israel-Syria border. On the Syrian side of the border a similar demonstration took place, with over 1,500 participants waving to their relatives on the Israeli side and playing the Syrian anthem on loudspeakers.

Caretaker gov’t: The Johr Ad-Dik massacre is a resumption of Israel’s holocaust
Palestinian Information Center 4/17/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The caretaker government headed by premier Ismail Haneyya stated that the Johr Ad-Dik massacre is a resumption of the Israeli holocaust against the Gaza people, adding that the growing number of Palestinians killed Wednesday is evidence of the organized terrorism practiced by Israeli occupation against besieged unarmed people. A press statement received by the PIC, underlined that the Arab and Islamic silence, the international policy of double standards and the policy of justifying the Israeli crimes adopted by the PA leadership were encouragement for Israel to continue its massacres against the Palestinian children and women. The government also invited Arab and Islamic leaders, governments, lawmakers and the Arab League to visit Gaza to see closely the destructive. . .

Hanegbi: In light of recent violence IDF must retake Gaza
Amos Harel and Yuval Azoulay and Reuters, Ha’aretz 4/18/2008
Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Tzachi Hanegbi, said Thursday that in light of recent escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces must reoccupy the territory. In an interview with Army Radio, Hanegbi said that he meant to establish a strategic goal of toppling the Islamic rulers of the Gaza Strip ? Hamas. In order to achieve this goal, he said, "you must go into the territory and hold on to it for a long time. " Hanegbi confessed that the decision to retake the Strip comes with a "complicated price tag, and has implications for our soldiers’ lives as well as in the international arena. " Earlier Thursday, elite Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed one Palestinian militant and wounded another near the Kerem Shalom Gaza-Israel border crossing, foiling an attempted infiltration and attack.

Barak: Gaza plight a concern, but suffering in Sderot more important
Mazal Mualem and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 4/17/2008
Defense Minister and Labor Chairman Ehud Barak on Wednesday told party members at a rally that the plight of Gazans is a concern, but secondary to the security of Israeli civilians nearby who are suffering as a result of attacks launched by Palestinian militants. "We see and are aware of the Gazans’ suffering. The situation there is tough, but the suffering of [Israeli] civilians in Gaza-area communities in Sderot and Ashkelon and of Israel Defense Forces soldiers who are protecting that area is more important to us," Barak said. Barak, who has recently been criticized by the left for intentionally taking a hard line in order to ingratiate himself with center-right voters, said Israel is taking actions to assuage Palestinians’ suffering. "Part of this war is not to act out on a whim or on a gut feeling, but using judgment.

Israeli politician: Israel has no choice but to topple Hamas
Ma’an News Agency 4/17/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel has no choice but to overthrow Hamas in the Gaza Strip and to attack the Iranian army which has "begun to deploy in the Gaza Strip," head of the Israeli national religious party Mafdal, Efi Eitam,said on Thursday. Eitam told the Israeli radio station the Voice of Israel that Israeli army activity near the border with the Gaza Strip was necessary. He added that "it could be costly" if there was no explicit policy of military action inside the Gaza Strip. Knesset Member (MK) Efraim Snieh from the Labor Party told the radio station that a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip would be beneficial for Hamas rather than Israel, and instead Hamas should be suppressed. He said he expected fighting against Hamas to continue in the coastal sector because "only military might can topple Hamas. "

PNI: negotiations with Israelis must stop as they provide cover for continued crimes
Amin Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 4/17/2008
Nablus -- The Palestinian National Initiative National is demanding that the Palestinian Authority stop negotiations and contacts with the Israeli government. The negotiations are providing a "cover for the massacres perpetrated by Israeli forces. " The PNI called on the PA to stop all contacts with the Israelis until the cessation of settlement expansion, massacres, the siege on Gaza, and Wall construction. The Palestinian National Initiative, led by Secretary-General Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, said on Thursday that "each time the Palestinians make initiatives toward calm, the Israelis conduct massacres that affect not only journalists, but civilians, mosques and hospitals. " The party stressed that "Israel, in its aggression and incursions, exceed the norms and international covenants. "The PNI also said that the international silence is "strange and allows Israel to operate as if it is above the law and human rights standards.

Barak: Jewish people seek peace
Neta Sela, YNetNews 4/17/2008
Defense minister: We will do everything in our power to advance peace, but stay on guard - The Jewish people seeks peace and is loyal to the ancient decree calling on it to "seek peace and pursue it," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday night at a ceremony in the memory of IDF casualties and terror victims. "We will do everything in our power to advance peace with those who are willing to make real peace with us, peace of the brave," Barak said at the Netiv Aryeh Yeshiva at Jerusalem’s Western Wall. "At the same time, we will safeguard our security and our lives. "Barak noted that Israel was situated within a hostile environment, and that "there are still very many who do not want peace with us and who do not accept our existence here as a done deal, forever. "

Netanyahu: Abbas-Olmert peace deal will be invalid
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 4/18/2008
Opposition leader and Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu hinted Thursday that if he were to be elected prime minister, he would not honor any peace agreement struck between current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, if one should be achieved. "The agreement that Olmert will or will not achieve is no more than a cynical invalid deal - not in legal terms, but in terms of reality," Netanyahu said in an interview with the right wing affiliated newspaper Makor Rishon. Olmert and Abbas promised U. S. President George W. Bush to try to reach a peace deal by the end of the year. Netanyahu said in the interview that he would regard general elections as a referendum on the potential peace deal, saying "then the public would be the judge. ""If they [Olmert’s Kadima] win the election - fine.

The ’settler’ in Italy’s parliament
Meron Rapoport, Ha’aretz 4/17/2008
Almost 50,000 people live in Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood, one of the largest in Israel. Up until now, it had no representative in parliament. As of this week, it does. Fiamma Nirenstein, a neighborhood resident for 10 years, was just elected to the Italian parliament. If we stick to the definitions of the UN, which views Gilo, on the capital’s southern edge, as a settlement, one could say that Nirenstein is the first settler to be a member of a non- Israeli parliament. This week, in a series of phone calls to Rome, between the first reports of a close victory for the right-wing coalition, to which Nirenstein belongs, and the final reports of Silvio Berlusconi’s sweeping victory, Nirenstein explained several times that she has not requested Israeli citizenship but that this bureaucratic fact does not affect her identity.

State Comptroller to summon PM to testify in Pollard inquiry
Tomer Zarhin, Haaretz Corresponent, and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 4/18/2008
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss considers issuing a summons for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to give evidence in the Jonathan Pollard affair, Channel 2 reported on Thursday. Pollard, a civilian intelligence analyst for the U. S. Navy, was convicted of selling military secrets to Israel while working at the Pentagon. He was arrested in 1985 and pleaded guilty at his trial. He is serving a life sentence in a U. S. federal prison. A few months ago, Lindenstrauss started compiling a report on whether Israel has been doing everything within its capacity to ensure the release the jailed spy. To this end, the Prime Minister’s Office has provided documents and Cabinet Secretary Ovad Yehezkel has given evidence, but Olmert himself stands firm in his refusal to testify.

Peres: New Poland one of Israel’s greatest EU allies
Aviram Zino, YNetNews 4/17/2008
Peres speaks at length about Jewish History in Poland. "˜Remnants of death camps on Poland’s land serve as pillar of fire in our collective historical memory’ - “I am here today representing the dead and the living,” said President Shimon Peres before the Polish senate Thursday. “I represent the past, the present and I believe the future, too. I have come to recite the Kaddish and sing the Hatikvah. ”Peres, who also gave speeches at the Warsaw Ghetto uprising Memorial and in the Treblinka concentration camp, spoke at length about the history of Polish Jewry. When mentioning the Holocaust, Peres said that the greatest tragedy occurred in Poland due to the largest concentration of Jews there; hence the focus of the Jewish pain has been directed at Poland, even though Germany bears and should bear the responsibility.

Red tape, rising costs threaten book donor project
Daphna Berman, Ha’aretz 4/18/2008
A grassroots effort to supply Israeli schools with used English-language books shipped from the U. S. is in danger of shutting down, as rising shipping prices coupled with what volunteers describe as a Byzantine bureaucracy that slaps on a prohibitive VAT on imported books, has driven down donations by 85%. The U. S. -based Books for Israel Project has shipped some 75 tons of used reading books for teens and pre-teens to 200 schools across Israel since 2002. Titles range from Harry Potter to the Boxcar Children series. The Education Ministry, meanwhile, has no budget for purchasing English-language books for local schools, a spokesperson said. "As a teacher, I can say this is a wonderful program," said Myrna Silverberg, the Israel coordinator for the project and an English teacher near Netanya. "We wouldn’t have an English library without Books for Israel.

Dubai Cares launches 1 billion-dollar project
Middle East Online 4/17/2008
DUBAI - United Arab Emirates-based charity Dubai Cares announced on Wednesday the launch of a one-billion-dollar (627-million-euro) project to fund education in 12 of the world’s poorest countries. Phase one will see funding for Bangladesh, Bosnia, Chad, Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Maldives, Mauritania, Niger, Pakistan, occupied Palestinian territories, Sudan and Yemen, with money also going to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan. The money will be spent on new schools, redeveloping existing facilities and providing medical services and drinking water as part of the charity’s aim to educate one million children, Dubai Cares said in a statement. It will work with Save the Children and its first project will provide primary education to children in Sudan. "Save the Children will receive a 60. 9-million-dirham (10.

Deputy FM Whbee: Israel racially discriminates against its citizens
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 4/18/2008
Druze lawmaker and Deputy Foreign Minister Majalli Whbee (Kadima) was outraged Thursday by the Police Investigation Department’s decision not to bring charges or disciplinary actions against the officers who were accused of opening fire on demonstrators during a protest last year in the Druze town of Peki’in. "It turns out that in the state of Israel it is permissible to shoot citizens, provided that they are the right citizens," Whbee said, referring to the fact that those injured were not Jewish, but Druze. He added that "It is evident that the blood of some is more valuable than that of others. " The unit investigated three complaints issued by civilians who were wounded by gunfire during the demonstrations, and all three were closed due to a lack of evidence.

An island of political stability
David Landau and Yossi Verter, Ha’aretz 4/17/2008
"I want to make this clear. "Ehud Olmert leans forward, fixes his gaze firmly ahead and pounds the table rhythmically with his fist. "I intend to run in the next election, I will lead Kadima in the next election and I will also win the next election. Let there be no doubt. No two ways about it. "It was the only time in the hour and a half holiday interview that Olmert parted with the backrest of his executive chair. He was certainly not surprised by the question. "If anyone wants to run, let him put whatever he has on the table. Let’s hear what he wants to do in the negotiations, whether he wants to invest in education or destroy it. Whether he wants to continue investing in the improvement of social conditions or go on ignoring the distress. My record will stand up against the record of those who might harbor all kinds of dreams.

Black, white and bloody
Dalia Karpel, Ha’aretz 4/17/2008
Over 40 years have passed since Ali Zaarour’s photo album was stolen from his home in the village of Al-Azariya, east of Jerusalem, at the height of the Six-Day War. Zaarour, who was a professional photographer, documented the War of Independence in Jerusalem in 1948. At first he worked for the British Army and the AP news agency, and afterward in the service of the Arab Legion. Thus he recorded, among other things, the surrender of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City on May 28, 1948. Sixty years have passed and now Zaarour’s rare photos are being shown for the first time. When the Six-Day War broke out, Zaarour fled to Amman with his family. When they returned to their home in Al-Azariya a few weeks later, they discovered that the album with the black-and-white photos which he had taken and printed, had disappeared. This historic resource contained about 380 photos dating back as far as

Chicago Palestine Film Festival opens 25 April
Announcement, Chicago Palestine Film Festival, Electronic Intifada 4/17/2008
The Chicago Palestine Film Festival committee is very excited to announce the selections and schedule for our seventh annual film festival. Our 14 selections this year come from Palestinian, American, European and other filmmakers. The festival will take place between 25 April and 8 May at the Siskel Film Center. Our opening night film is SlingShot Hip Hop, a documentary about Palestinian hip-hop and youth culture. Jackie Reem Salloum spotlights a vibrant hip-hop scene where artists discover the form and employ it to express themselves and their perspectives on occupation, dispossession and poverty. The film follows several different artists, including DAM, a group of Palestinian artists and activists from Israel who have seen commercial success in Europe, PR (Palestinian Rapperz), who have developed their hip-hop art forms in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip, and soloist Abeer and the

A jubilee of the arts
Samir Sobhi, Al-Ahram Weekly 4/17/2008
The centenary of the Egyptian School of Fine Arts falls this year, the institution having opened on 12 May 1908 thanks to the generosity of the aristocrat Prince Youssef Kamal. Three years later the school’s graduates held their first degree show at the Cairo Automobile Club, and among them were some of the best-known pioneers of modern Egyptian art, including sculptor Mahmoud Mokhtar and artists Mohamed Hassan, Ahmed Sabri, and Ragheb Ayyad. Mokhtar in particular introduced national consciousness into his work, creating sculptures of ordinary Egyptians as well as of many of the pioneers of Egyptian nationalism. Mokhtar was the creator of a well-known statue of Saad Zaghlul, the nationalist leader, prime minister and leader of the Wafd Party, thereby providing, as it were, the "artistic fuel" for the 1919 Revolution.

State of Economy Index up
Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 4/17/2008
The index showed that economic expansion continued in the first quarter of 2008, but at a slower rate than in 2007. The State of the Economy Index rose by 0. 5% in March, the Bank of Israelreported today. The index showed that economic expansion continued during the first quarter of 2008, but at a slower rate than in 2007. Key components of the index fell sharply in March, with possible implications for the future. The services exports sector and import and export of goods components pulled the index upwards in March. Developments in the index’s components were as follows: the manufacturing output index fell by 4. 5% in February (the latest available figures), after rising 4. 6% in January and the trade and services proceeds index fell by 1. 4% in February, after rising 0. 2% in January. However, the exports of services index went the other way.

Statistics Bureau figures point to slowdown
Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 4/17/2008
The high-tech industry, however, continues to hire new employees. Manufacturing output and hiring are slowing. The Central Bureau of Statistics reports that manufacturing output rose by an annualized 3. 7% in December 2007-February 2008, just have the 6. 9% rate in September-November. Manufacturing output rose by 4. 6% in January, but fell by 4. 5% in February. The hiring of new employees has also slowed to annualized rate of 2. 2% in December-February from 2. 6% during the three preceding months. High-tech industry (electronics, avionics, computers, and pharmaceuticals) showed a more optimistic picture, but the same trend. High-tech output rose by annualized 10. 3% in December-February, compared with 11. 9% in September-November. Hiring in high-tech was also the average for manufacturing as a whole, but still slowed to an annualized 3.

Moody’s upgrades Israel ratings
Globes correspondent, Globes Online 4/18/2008
The bond and bank deposit ratings have been raised to A1. Analyst Joan Feldbaum-Vidra: Israel has graduated from classification as an emerging market economy. International ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service has come into line with its peers, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch, by upgrading its ratings for Israel. The government foreign and local currency bond ratings have been upgraded to A1 from A2, and the foreign currency ceiling for bank deposits has been upgraded to A1 from A2 as well. All other sovereign ratings have been affirmed, including the Aa1 country ceiling for long-term foreign currency debt. In its announcement, Moody’s said it had upgraded Israel’s key ratings to reflect the country’s proven resiliency in the face of repeated economic and political shocks, its firmly established fiscal discipline and its ongoing financial and political support from the United States and the Jewish Diaspora.

Unemployment drops to 15-year low in March
Moti Bassok, Ha’aretz 4/18/2008
Unemployment is still dropping, and is approaching levels not seen in 15 years. The Israeli unemployment rate was only 6. 5% in February, the lowest since 1993, according to figures released by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) yesterday. A total of 190,200 people were unemployed in February. In comparison, in February 2007 unemployment was 7. 8%, in February 2006 it was 9. 0% and in February 2005, 9. 3%. The CBS corrected the January unemployment rate downward yesterday, setting it too at 6. 5%, less than the previously released figure of 6. 8%. The treasury forecasted that unemployment in 2008 would stand at 7. 2% on average. The Bank of Israel’s predictions ranged from 7. 3% to 7. 8%. The main cause behind the drop in unemployment is the economic growth in almost all sectors. In addition, lower unemployment and welfare benefits have led more people to return to the workforce.

Rice: Syria, via North Korea, tied to nuclear proliferation
Shmuel Rosner and Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 4/18/2008
U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters yesterday that "Syria is most certainly an issue in proliferation. " Responding to reporters’ questions, Rice spoke at length about the talks between the U. S. and North Korea, which also addressed the issue of North Korea’s relations with Syria. The U. S. is demanding that North Korea reveal all past activity relating to nuclear proliferation, including its ties to Syria. These came to light following September’s airstrike in Syria, which foreign reports have attributed to Israel. Meanwhile, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Watan reported yesterday that Syrian technical teams are in Russia to take delivery of an advanced antiaircraft missile system, the Pantsyr-S1. This is part of a large Syrian-Russian deal, paid for by Iran, to supply new missile defense systems to the Syrian army.

Syria denies intelligence chief’s house arrest
Middle East Online 4/17/2008
DAMASCUS - Syria’s ambassador to the United States, Imad Moustapha, has dismissed reports that military intelligence chief Assef Shawkat has been placed under house arrest, and that he was negotiating talks with Israel. All4syria. org, an independent news website, reported on April 13 that Moustapha told Arab journalists that the reports were “efforts to spread rumours” conducted by Israeli, Arab and opposition media. Several websites had reported that members of the army and intelligence service, including Shawkat, had been arrested. Moustapha’s comments were the only direct official response to reports that Shawkat, who is president Bashar al-Assad’s brother-in-law and one of the most powerful figures in Syria, had fallen out of favour. Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian vice-president who lives in self-imposed exile in France, told the Beirut newspaper Al-Mustaqbal last. . .

Ahmadinejad proclaims Iran ’most powerful nation’ on earth
Stuart Williams, Daily Star 4/18/2008
Agence France Presse - TEHRAN: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday proclaimed Iran the "most powerful nation" on earth as the country’s air force showed off its prowess at a time of mounting tension with the West. "Iran is the most powerful and independent nation in the world," Ahmadinejad told a military parade outside Tehran marking the Islamic Republic’s annual Army Day, reaffirming one of his favored slogans. Ahmadinejad said all the branches of the armed forces would react forcefully in response to any attack against Iran’s soil and boasted that no one would dare to launch a strike on the country. "The army, the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij [militia] will resist with force and coordination and respond strongly to the slightest aggression," Ahmadinejad said. "I am proud to announce today that the Iranian nation’s power is of an extent that no major. . .

Pentagon reveals Afghan jail abuses
Al Jazeera 4/17/2008
US military interrogators assaulted Afghan detainees using techniques they learned during self-defence training, according to documents released by the Pentagon. Interrogators punched and kicked detainees held at the Gardez prison camp in southeastern Afghanistan in 2003, the documents show. A 2006 Army review of the case said the detainees were not abused but that the incident revealed "misconduct that warrants further action. " The documents, which were given to the American Civil Liberties Union, focus on the death of Afghan detainee Jamal Nasser, who died at the facility in 2003. The review found that abuse did not cause Nasser’s death and that he died of a stomach illness. But the documents detail interrogation techniques used on eight detainees, who were made to kneel outside in wet clothing and. . .

Mideast Christians hurt by US, British involvement
Middle East Online 4/17/2008
LONDON - Christians across the Middle East are being associated with Britain and the United States’ "global project" in the region and suffering as a result, the Archbishop of Canterbury warned Wednesday. Archbishop Rowan Williams, the leader of the worldwide Anglican communion, told a conference in London that indigenous Christian communities in the Middle East were being perceived as "foreign and aggressive" because of British and American involvement in the region. The United States led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003 respectively, both of which Britain also participated in. "Indigenous Christian communities throughout the region have suffered from being associated with the American global project, and indeed the British global project as part of the American global project," he said. Citing his experiences from a recent visit to Syria, he added: "The. . .


Articles


Saving the US from Israel
Hassan Nafaa, Al-Ahram Weekly 4/17/2008
      While not the thinking person’s only concern, Israel’s continued hegemony over US foreign policy formulation is the greatest threat to world peace.
     For many years the US was a beacon of light and hope to many. It was easy for the dazzled and awestruck to come up with evidence in defence of that country that in the mere two centuries since its appearance on the world map as an independent nation had accomplished more than any other nation in history. That gleaming new and modern nation had become the most powerful, wealthiest and most influential nation on earth. Its political, economic and social systems were models of dynamism, efficiency and achievement. The American way of life amazed, inspired and lured people around the world. More importantly, that country’s awesome material might remained subordinated to the moral might of the country that was the most democratic on earth, the most respectful of law and vigilant in its defence of human liberties and the rights of peoples to self-determination.
     Not all, however, were gripped by this image. For some, the image of the US was bleak and far from noble. To them, the history of the US was an uninterrupted train of colonialist expansionism, violence and racism. The train of violence had been set into motion even before the founding of the state, with the beginning of the systematic genocide of the indigenous population, and continued through the dropping of two atom bombs on Japanese cities without any military justification whatsoever. The American history of racism began with the importation of millions of Africans to be sold into slavery and it certainly did not end with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King....

"When I think of tomorrow I feel homeless"

Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 4/17/2008
      On 25 February 2008, General Gadi Shamni, Israeli military commander of the West Bank, ordered the closure of fourteen schools and orphanages in Hebron.If carried out, the order will literary force some 7,000 Palestinian children onto the street, leaving them in a situation of homelessness, educational disintegration and poverty.
     Eight of these orphanages and schools are funded by the Islamic Charitable Society and six belong to the Muslim Youth Society.In the mind of the Israeli military, this is enough to indicate a convincing, direct link to Hamas.In addition, official buildings connected to the same organizations, and which provide medical services and house a children’s library, have also been targeted.Some have already been dismantled.
     To date, Israel’s High Court has not yet ruled on whether the military can execute this shutdown legally. Without a final decision from the court, no one knows what will happen over the coming days and the threat hangs continuously, ominously in the air. The expressions of the orphanages’ young inhabitants in response to questions about how they feel reveal a paradoxical and complex composition of hope and helplessness.

Ghetto mentality

Zvi Bar''el, Ha’aretz 4/17/2008
      "Have a peaceful Shabbat," says the soldier in a helmet covering his forehead, the brim extending to his eyes. He is sitting in a guard post in the center of Hebron, at the entrance to "Shapira Street," which leads to another narrow alley once known as "Tnuva Lane." Historians of the occupation would do well to start by collecting the exotic names the Israel Defense Forces has given its sites. "Sheep Junction," "Glass Junction," "Gross Square," "Policeman Square" and "Tnuva Lane" are milestones that belong to the generations that devised them during the decades of occupation. They denote a kind of geographical intimacy accruing to those who "belong" to the experience that engendered the names. They began as random code names used by the soldiers on the two-way radio, but always embody the memory of an event. Over time, they become meaningless place markers for the generations after the "first conquerors".
     "Where are you from?" the soldier asks. This is a question that is repeated a number of times as we walked the few hundred meters that separate the Tomb of the Patriarchs from the Hadassah building at the top of Shuhada Street. The question is accompanied by a puzzled look at the sight of two characters who are clearly not from the "Jewish settlement." Neither of us - photographer Dan Keinan or I - wears a skullcap or has a beard. We do not have a tallit (prayer shawl) or a tzizit (fringed undergarment). We do not sport black trousers and a white shirt, and we do not mumble prayers while walking down the street. On the other hand, neither of us wears a kaffiyeh, a faded checked shirt or striped polyester pants - ruling us out as belonging to the population that is in any case forbidden to take a Shabbat stroll in the world’s most heavily guarded Jewish ghetto

A long way to go

Galal Nassar, Al-Ahram Weekly 4/17/2008
      The concept of citizenship has yet to take root in the modern Arab state and if it is to ever become part of our lives both the state and civil society will have to do more. One starting point would be to accept that we have never had a culture that accommodates, let alone embraces, the individual citizen, a major reason being that the structures and institutions that regulate both government and non-governmental organisations are inherently flawed. For any kind of meaningful citizenship to emerge in Egypt the concept of the secular state needs to be revisited in its entirety.
     The state is in essence a body of rules and institutions designed to protect the lives and property of the populace while enforcing law and order. Citizenry was a side-product of the state, especially in its modern form. In its intellectual, legal, political, and economic aspects the concept of citizenship is unthinkable without a state.
     Developed in the 18th century with the rise of liberalism, the market economy and individualism, ideas of citizenship were refined in the following hundred years to shore up political participation, ensure a minimum of secular rights and promote the idea of general suffrage. In the 20th century citizenship came into its own as nations subscribed to a wider range of economic, social and cultural rights. The main breakthrough came with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since then civic and political rights have become sacred.

MIFTAH Condemns in the Strongest Terms, the Israeli Military Raid on the Gaza Strip

MIFTAH, MIFTAH 4/17/2008
      The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy, MIFTAH condemns in the strongest terms, the Israeli military raid on the Gaza Strip on April 16, which resulted in the deaths of 20 Palestinians, several of whom are civilians.
     Israeli air strikes carried out a series of missile attacks on the Breij Refugee Camp in central Gaza killing 17 Palestinians including three children and Reuters photojournalist Fadel Shana’a. Twenty-five others were injured in the raid. While Israel claims the missiles were shot at Palestinian activists in the camp, at least two of the missiles landed on homes.
     The raid came after an earlier gun battle in Gaza City, in which three armed Palestinians and three Israeli soldiers were killed. Israel says the Palestinians were approaching the security fence near the Nahal Oz crossing.
     MIFTAH is appalled by the sharp escalation in Israeli aggressions in the Gaza Strip and calls on the international community to intervene in the continued shedding of Palestinian blood. MIFTAH does not condone the killing of innocent civilians irrespective of their nationality, which is a stance it urges the international community to adopt equally in its positions towards the Palestinians and Israeli alike. It calls on the UN, in its capacity as an esteemed international body, to treat Israel like any other country in violation of international humanitarian laws and hold it accountable for its transgressions.

Cheerleading genocide

Khaled Amayreh, Al-Ahram Weekly 4/17/2008
      With spectacular fanfare and a plethora of highlighted events, Israel is planning to celebrate its 60th birthday on 18 May 2008.
     According to an Israeli government website called Israelfestival.com, the festival will include "non-stop entertainment, [a] fashion show, a variety of ethnic food for sale, Israeli folk dancing, arts and crafts, Israeli and Jewish cultural and heritage pavilions and art exhibits".
     The centrepiece ceremony is expected to take place in West Jerusalem and be attended by Israel’s political and military leaders as well as foreign dignitaries. Among those expected are US President George W Bush, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
     Israeli media and non-governmental organisations have already begun celebrations in earnest. For example, Israeli television has begun airing a new series called Shishim (meaning "60"), which looks back at the six decades since Israel was created in May 1948. The series, which began 31 March, is divided into six episodes, each devoted to one of the decades following the founding of the state.

Between truce and escalation

Saleh Al-Naami, Al-Ahram Weekly 4/17/2008
      With the exception of stray dogs, no one can enter into Al-Maghazi Refugee Camp in the central Gaza Strip after midnight without proving his identity and being carefully searched by members of the marabatin (garrisoned) groups guarding the camp’s entrances.
     In a survey that Al-Ahram Weekly conducted early this week of the sites of the marabatin, who are affiliated with the various military arms of most of the Palestinian factions, it was clear that they have begun to take intensified security measures around all Palestinian residential areas in the Gaza Strip in case Israeli forces should enter.
     Saad (not his real name), the 29-year-old leader of the marabatin groups in Al-Maghazi camp, says that he and his scores of men are operating under the assumption that Israeli forces may raid the camp at any moment, and thus are in a constant state of readiness for battle. "We are taking both publicised and secret security measures, 24 hours a day, so as to limit the enemy’s ability to surprise us," he told the Weekly.

Love and resistance

Serene Assir, Al-Ahram Weekly 4/17/2008
      By his own admission in Cairo on Tuesday night, composer, oud player and singer Marcel Khalifa’s timing is perfect. His concert, after all, was being performed as Egypt witnessed multi-faceted acts of protest and against the backdrop of mass detentions of Muslim Brotherhood members as well as of supporters of the planned general strike of 6 April.
     tag19 Beyond Egypt’s borders, with nearly a quarter of the population displaced, the people of Iraq continue their five- year-old resistance to the US-led occupation of their country while the Palestinian residents of Gaza, against all odds, remain resilient against the impermeable Israeli siege in force since June 2007.
     Khalifa is fully aware of the way his music feeds into core Arab causes. At his press conference in Cairo he spoke out on both Mahala and Gaza and during the performance itself told his eager audience that, "it seems appropriate we should be meeting on 15 April," a month before the 60th commemoration of the Nakba.

Critical eye on Israel’s military

Greg Norman, Al Jazeera 4/17/2008
      As part of its Israel Through Its Own Eyes series Al Jazeera spoke with a renowned Israeli documentary maker.
     When asked if it would be possible to make the documentary One Shot today, the film’s Israeli director is unequivocal.
     "Oh no," Nurit Kedar says. "There is no way today the army would ever let anybody have discussions with snipers. The guy who is now the spokesperson for the military is much more nationalistic and so one can only say good things about the army. So no way."
     Many people both inside and outside Israel are surprised that the veteran filmmaker was granted the opportunity to speak with Israel’s combat snipers.
     One Shot combines interviews with the snipers and rare footage from the frontline recorded by combat soldiers on cameras given to them by Kedar and attached to their helmets and kneepads.
     The result is an insight into a little seen aspect of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, an insight that could only have been produced by an Israeli director.

Goodbye to Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana’a

Fadi Abu Sa''ada, Palestine News Network 4/17/2008
      It seems is not enough to bid farewell to those killed on a daily basis; the funerals are not enough. Today we are bidding farewell to one of our own. He is Reuters cameraman, Fadal Shana’a, in the Gaza Strip.
     His absence was created by the Israeli war machine, which from the beginning did not stop at killing our parents and loved ones. This is the price of our struggle for freedom, and our efforts, as journalists, to deliver our message to the entire world.
     Fadel is not the first one, and certainly not the last. The Israeli occupation still continues, but the loss is too big to handle, and the pain is huge, not only for his people, his family and his friends, but also for us. We are the people in the media and journalists who continue to receive one hit after another, despite our attempts to remain constantly steadfast and careful, in spite of our knowledge that our own deaths would not garner more than a press release or condemnation.