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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  
14 August 2008

Tens of thousands attend funeral for Darwish
Hossam Ezzedine, Daily Star 8/14/2008
Agence France Presse - RAMALLAH, Occupied West Bank: Tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered for the state funeral on Wednesday for Mahmoud Darwish, the towering Arab poet who gave voice to their bitter decades-old struggle. Darwish, considered the national poet of the Palestinians and the author of their 1988 declaration of independence, won a number of international prizes and is widely considered one of the Arab world’s greatest writers. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas presided over a ceremony attended by senior officials, Arab Israeli parliamentarians and dozens of foreign dignitaries at the Muqataa, his headquarters in the Occupied West Bank town of Ramallah. "The story of our people is your story Mahmoud, and by our meeting it was made more complete and more beautiful," Abbas said in a eulogy.

Israeli forces destroy 25 commercial produce stalls in the eastern West Bank
Fathy Khdeirat, Palestine News Network 8/14/2008
Jericho - As reported on Tuesday as breaking news on the PNN English news ticker, on Tuesday, 12 August, at least 25 market stalls owned by Palestinian farmers were demolished by Israeli forces in the Jordan Valley. Israeli soldiers went on rampage along Road 90 in the eastern West Bank’s Jordan Valley. At 6:30 am troops began to raid Palestinian vegetable shops established close to the villages of Bardala, ’Ein Al Beida, Marj Naje, Zubeidat and Jiftlik. For many Palestinian farmers in the area, selling their produce on the road is one of the main sources of income in a region isolated from the areas inside the Green Line, and the rest of the West Bank and Jordan by the Wall, checkpoints, trenches and closed military zones. Palestinians were not allowed to remove tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and a variety of fruits from under the simple market stalls, put up to. . .

Israeli Response to Death of Reuters Cameraman Makes Journalists Legitimate IOF Targets
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 8/14/2008
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the official response of the Israeli military Advocate-General to the death of a Reuters cameraman and three other civilians, including two children, who were killed in Juhor al-Dik in the central Gaza Strip, on April 16, 2008. The cameraman, Fadel Shana’a, and the other civilians were killed by an Israeli tank crew, who, according to Israeli military advocate-general, Brigadier General Avihai Mendelblit, acted properly and will therefore not face any legal action for killing these four unarmed civilians. PCHR believes this response once again underlines the chronic failure of the State of Israel and its Occupation Forces to conducts proper investigationinto the hundreds of crimes they have committed against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).

UNIFIL commander: Israel violating UNSC Resolution 1701
Jpost.com Staff, Jerusalem Post 8/15/2008
Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Maj. -Gen. Claudio Graziano on Thursday accused Israel of violating UN Security Council Resolution 1701 that brought an end to the Second Lebanon War. In contrast, he said that the UN enjoyed excellent cooperation with Hizbullah and with the local Lebanese people. During a press conference at the United Nations headquarters n New York, Graziano cited the IAF forays over Lebanon and the dispute over the village of Ghajar. Graziano asserted that apart from UN troops, Lebanese soldiers and hunters, no one was armed south of the Litani River. He conceded that his soldiers were not trying to prevent weapons smuggling from Syria as demanded by the UNSC because the Lebanese government had not requested such action.

Israeli troops invade Khan Younis
Marina Ayyoub, International Middle East Media Center News 8/14/0200
A number of Israeli military vehicles invaded Khan Younis in the southern part of the Gaza Strip on Thursday morning. Eyewitnesses reported that two Israeli military bulldozers and two tanks invaded the southern part of the city; troops patrolled the streets and searched and ransacked several houses. Israeli military vehicles shot live rounds at random causing panicked evacuation by local Palestinian farmers. This is the second time that the Israeli army has invaded Gaza since Egypt brokered a truce between Israel and the Palestinian authority last June. [end]

Assault on two young men from Mount Scopus by guards of Israeli PM
Maisa Abu Ghazaleh, Palestine News Network 8/13/2008
Jerusalem -- Two young East Jerusalem men are suffering from bodily trauma and pain after being beaten by the guards of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Ahmed and Ihab Abu were beaten two days ago, on Monday. Ahmed is in his home attempting to recover. Twenty-three year old Ihab of the Jerusalem neighborhood Mount Scopus spent the past days in a coma in the Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital after being beaten unconscious by the Israeli guards. His nose is broken and he is severely bruised on his face, eyes, neck, chest and back. "All over his body," is the description used by eyewitnesses. Ahmed and Ihab are low wage laborers, one working in a factory and the other new there after working in agriculture. They were returning home in the uniforms of their factory, its name emblazoned upon them, on Monday at 12:00.

VIDEO - Escalating harassment from settlers in Hebron
International Solidarity Movement 8/13/2008
Hebron Region - Video - On 9th August 2008 15:48 At around 15:30 three donkeys which had been stolen by settlers in the morning were released by Palestinians under protection from Israeli police. This took place on land that has been occupied by settlers illegaly for 5 months. The land is owned by Palestinians and has grape, olive and almond treas on it that the Jabar family rely on for income. It has now become impossible for the family to enter this land. On 9th August 2008 at 17:30 the Jabar family were attacked by settlers who threw stones at their house and tried to steal their sheep. When the army arrived at the place they pushed away the Palestinians who tried to prevent the settlers to steal their sheep. The settlers eventually stole 4 of the family’s sheep. On 10th August at 17:30 8 settlers entered the H1 area of Hebron and began to pray.

Israeli settlers assault a Palestinian child in Hebron
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/13/0200
A group of Israeli settlers attacked the West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday, wounding a young Palestinian child. Eyewitnesses said that the Israeli settlers attacked civilians by throwing glass bottles and stones. A local Palestinian child suffered injuries to the head, and was transferred to a local hopsital. Israeli settlers have conducted daily attacks on Hebron throughout the week. Settlers are usually backed by Israeli soldiers who rarely move to stop their aggression against Palestinian civilians. [end]

Israel confiscates and destroys northern West Bank olive groves
Ma’an News Agency 8/14/2008
Jenin – Ma’an - Israeli military bulldozers uprooted olive trees and tilled-under agricultural land between the military camp of Salem and Rummana village at the northern tip of the West Bank on Thursday. The lands were confiscated on Tuesday. One of the owners of the confiscated and now destroyed land Mahmoud Taher Bushnaq said that Israeli forces issued a decision two days ago to confiscate the land and to uproot the olive trees. "I thought that the bulldozers came to the lands to provide enough space for the troops to train and have their exercises because our land lies along the camp," Bushnaq explained. [end]

Israeli forces detain 7 in Bethlehem, injure and detain two boys
Ma’an News Agency 8/14/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Seven Palestinians including two young boys were detained early Thursday morning during an Israeli raid at Ad-Duheisha camp south of Bethlehem. The two young boys were also injured during the raid, when Israeli solders fired live bullets into the air. Palestinian security sources reported to Ma’an that Israeli forces detained two young boys, Hamada As-Salihi and Hamdi Al-Atrash after they were injured with Israeli bullets during clashes at the camp following the Israeli invasion. Also detained were 30-year-old Muhammad Yahya Al-Qassas, 32-year-old Adnan Naim Al-Qabu, 27-year-old Mohamed Hussein Al Najjar as well as Wael Khalil ’Atallah, and Ra’fat Abu ’Akr. All of the men were affiliated with the Popular front for the Liberation of Palestine, a leftist party with a military wing.

Israel imposes military closure on Beita and arrests two young men
Ma’an News Agency 8/14/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Brothers arrested as Israeli forces impose a military closure on the village of Beita south of Nablus. Local Palestinian sources told Ma’an that dozens of Israeli soldiers stormed Beita, and erected several checkpoints at the enterance to the village and its western access point. The soldiers declared a military closure of the area. Those arrested were Waddah Khalid Dweikat who is 21-years-old and a student at An-Najah University, along with his older brother Nazim Dweikat, who is 23-years-old and a student at Al-Quds Open University. [end]

Israeli army kidnaps 4 civilians from West Bank
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/14/0200
The Israeli army invaded the West Bank cities of Nablus, Tulkarem, and Jenin on Thursday at dawn and kidnapped 4 civilians. The Israeli army invaded Nablus for the third day in a row. They harassed a number of civilians and detained them whilst checking their ID cards. Military vehicles drove through the city’s streets, detaining four civilians and taking them to unknown detention camps. In Tulkarem, Israeli military vehicles surrounded the city, erecting several military checkpoints on road crossings and village entrances. Israeli troops hindered the movement of civilians in the city. The Israeli army invaded Jenin, demolishing farm lands by uprooting olive trees and tilling over the earth. Troops also confiscated a private land of 6 donum.

Israeli army shoots 2 civilians and kidnaps 7 from Bethlehem
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/14/0200
The Israeli army invaded Deheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem on Thursday dawn, shooting two civilians and kidnapping five others. Eye witnesses reported that a large Israeli army force entered the camp and began heavy shooting at random, injuring two civilians. The Israeli army took the two wounded civilians to an unknown destination. Eye witnesses also reported that troops searched and damaged a large number of houses, as well as renditing five more civilians to an unknown destination. [end]

IOF troops advance toward Khuza’a town in southern Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 8/14/2008
KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)-- A large number of IOF troops reinforced by armored vehicles and bulldozers on Thursday morning advanced toward the Khuza’a town in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, for the second time since the truce took effect about two months ago. Palestinian eyewitnesses reported that a number of Israeli military tanks and bulldozers advanced a distance of approximately 100 meters east of the town, adding that the Palestinian farmers had to leave their agricultural lands for fear of being shot by IOF troops.   In a report received by the PIC, the Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad Movement, said that it monitored 10 Israeli violations during the eighth week of the truce, most of them were committed against Palestinian fishermen.

UN: We’ve cleared half the cluster bombs Israel dropped on Lebanon
Shlomo Shamir, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
The United Nations said on Thursday that it has managed to clear wide swaths of south Lebanon of half of all cluster bombs fired by Israel during the Second Lebanon War two years ago. In a report released on Thursday, the world body warned that the remaining ordnances still pose a threat to the local population, particulary in the southern Lebanon village of Kafer Sir. "We’ve managed to clean up about half of the known cluster munition strike sites in this village. We hope to have the whole village completely cleared by the end of the year," the UN Mine Action Coordination Center of South Lebanon said on Thursday. "This whole village was covered with unexploded cluster munitions. They were on people’s rooftops, hanging from trees, even in playgrounds. "Chris Clark, the head of the center, said 20 people have been killed and 194 have been wounded thus far as a result of the cluster bombs.

IOA demolishes 3 Palestinian buildings in occupied Jerusalem
Palestinian Information Center 8/14/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority on Wednesday flattened three Palestinian buildings in occupied Jerusalem at the usual pretext of lack of construction permit, which is never granted to Palestinians. Palestinian sources in the holy city said that the occupation bulldozers leveled two homes in Beit Hanina suburb without allowing the inhabitants to get anything out of them. They said that the bulldozers were escorted by a joint police and border police force that used hounds to terrorize the inhabitants, especially women and children, and force them out of their homes. The two homes were cordoned off before they were pulled down, the sources explained. In Aisawia town, northeast of Jerusalem, IOA bulldozers knocked down a two-story building that was still under construction amidst violent confrontations with citizens who tried to stop the destruction.

Abu Zuhari and Sheikh expose Israeli plans to destroy Al Aqsa Mosque
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/13/2008
Gaza -- The Hamas government called on the Arab and Islamic nation to stand firmly in front of Israeli plans to Judaize East Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque and destroy it. Hamas Spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhari called to "prove to be able to able to protect the holy sites. " Al Aqsa Mosque is third in importance in Islam, coming after the sites in Saudi Arabia. Abu Zuhari told reporters in Gaza on Wednesday of a newly disclosed Israeli plan to "sweep" the Mosque. "This plan newly disclosed’and is considered a serious development in the series of the Israeli Judaization of Jerusalem and the Al Aqsa Mosque. " The spokesman added that this disclosure, which comes in light of continuing negotiations, considered "frivolous" regarding the city of Jerusalem, reflects the role played by the Palestinian Authority in providing cover for the Israelis to continue "these crimes against the holy sites.

Israel clears troops who killed Reuters journalist
Middle East Online 8/14/2008
TEL AVIV - The Israeli military said Wednesday it had cleared troops of responsibility for the killing of a Reuters cameraman in the Gaza Strip, saying the decision to fire a tank round at him was "reasonable. " Fadel Shana, 24, was killed on April 16 along with eight other civilians when an Israeli tank fired at him as he filmed it from around 1. 5 kilometres (a mile) away. "The decision to authorise the shot was reasonable given the circumstances of the incident," the military said in a statement. "No further legal action will be taken. " "The facts show that the incident occurred against the backdrop of severe hostilities in the area. Earlier in the day three IDF (Israeli army) soldiers had been killed in an attack," it added. The military said the tank crew identified "suspicious figures" and mistook Shana’s camera for a weapon.

Israel excuses soldiers who killed Reuters cameraman in Gaza
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/13/2008
Gaza -- Israeli soldiers opened fire on Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana in April. They blew his body to bits with a tank shell while killing and injuring four to eight others at the same time in the central Gaza Strip. They were between the ages of 12 and 20 years old. Israeli forces have "cleared" the Israeli soldiers involved in the murder of any "wrong-doing," saying to the Israeli press that the cameraman was mistaken for a member of the armed resistance. There are numerous eyewitnesses who have attested to the contrary, and even the Israeli Foreign Press Association fears that this decision will lead to more attacks on journalists, as reported on Wednesday by the Israeli press. The Reuters News Agency is horrified at this "hideous" act. Numerous Palestinian, foreign and Israeli journalists have been the targets of Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

Reuters attacks Israel’s failure to take action over cameraman’s death
Oliver Luft, The Guardian 8/13/2008
The car of Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana burning in Gaza after it was shot by an Israeli tank in April. Photograph: Getty Reuters has said it is "deeply disturbed" that the Israeli military has decided the tank crew that killed one of the news agency’s cameramen and eight young bystanders in the Gaza Strip four months ago will not face legal action. Israel’s senior military advocate-general told the London-based news agency in a letter sent on Tuesday that the official report into the incident concluded that troops could not see whether Reuters’ Fadal Shana, 24, was operating a camera or a weapon. However, the official said reports found that the Israeli Defence Force tank crew were nonetheless justified in firing an airburst shell packed with flechettes - metal darts - that killed the Reuters cameraman and eight other Palestinians during fighting in the Gaza Strip on April 16.

Former fighters ''assaulted'' by PA prison guards
Ma’an News Agency 8/13/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Former Palestinian fighters in the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Jericho prison said on Wednesday that they have been assaulted by prison guards, denied family visits, and their cell phones confiscated. According to one prisoner, the PA prison guards beat the men in response to a protest about the conditions in the jail. The men have been on a hunger strike for five days. The men are currently in PA custody as a part of an amnesty deal between the PA and Israel, under which fighters pledged to give up violence and serve a prison term in exchange for having their names removed from Israel’s list of "wanted" Palestinians. Of 25 men in the Jericho facility, 11 are affiliated to the Al-Aqsa Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, the faction that also controls the Palestinian Authority. "The prison administration disrespects [the prisoners’] parents and. . .

Detainees report arbitrary practices in Israeli jails
Ma’an News Agency 8/14/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – Visits to Israeli prisons reveal unlawful and arbitrary practices, said the head of the Prisoners’ Society in Jenin, Raghib Abu Dyak. Reporting on conditions in the Jalama detention center north of Jenin, the Salem detention center north west of Jenin, as well as prisons in Ashkelon, and Nafha prison on the outskirts of the Negev town of Mitzpe Ramon, Dyak related visiting lawyers’ observations. In Jalama, an Israeli military court extended the detention periods of ten Palestinians from eight to 25 days during a hearing of the court on Thursday. Anan Khader, one of the society’s lawyers, visited 38 new detainees at Salem detention center. It was reported that detainees reported being handcuffed and blindfolded, and many had their noses held shut to prevent them from breathing. Dyak highlighted that this practice is against humanitarian laws.

8 injured as protesters gather in Ni’lin
International Solidarity Movement 8/13/2008
Ramallah Region - Photos - At 11 am on Monday August the 11th approximately 200 Palestinians, Israeli and international activists marched towards the construction site of the illegal apartheid wall in the West Bank village of Ni’lin. Photos courtesy ofActivestills The wall annexes more than half of the current farming land of Ni’lin and more than 80 percent of the land belonging to the villagers before 1948. Even the land that the Palestinians of Ni’lin have left after the construction of the wall is restricted to them. On the morning of the protest the Israeli army blocked the road half way in between the village and the construction site making it impossible for the farmers to reach and farm their land. When the nonviolent protesters reached the sand road on which the illegal apartheid wall is being built, the Israeli army attempted to scare away the crowd by shooting. . .

IDF investigating whether troops injured youth
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 8/14/2008
Army opens investigation into B’Tselem rights group claim soldiers fired tear gas at rioting youths in Jilazun refugee camp, wounded 13-year-old -The Military Prosecution is looking into an incident that occurred nearly a fortnight ago, in which IDF troops allegedly severely wounded a 13-year-old Palestinian youth. The B’Tselem human rights group says that on Friday, August 1st, soldiers fired a tear gas canister to disperse a crowd of Palestinians who were throwing rocks. The incident took place in the Jilazun refugee camp, located north of Ramallah. The organization says the army also fired rubber-coated steel bullets towards the youths, in addition to the tear gas. B’Tselem asserts however that the youth who was wounded, Yazen Yusuf Abed al-Rahman, had not been taking part in the riot and was watching the proceedings from afar with a group of friends.

3 injured from rubber-coated bullets, tens vomit from sewage water sprayed at them in Ni’lin
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 8/9/2008
Although the Occupation forces tried to close the entrance of Ni’lin, locals from surrounding villages and international solidarity activists were still able to attend an anti-Apartheid Wall demonstration in the village. This time the Occupation experimented with new techniques in an attempt to break the demonstration, throwing balloons filled with sewage water and unleashing police dogs on activists. Soldiers also fired rubber-coated bullets as well as sound and gas bombs. Tens of demonstrators vomited as a result of the noxious smell of the sewage water that was thrown and sprayed on them. Three others were shot with rubber-coated bullets. One, Sa’ed Atallah Ameera, was hit in the mouth. The demonstration concentrated on the barbed wire set up by the soldiers to keep the protestors away from the confiscated lands.

11 injured in anti-fence protest in Naalin
Ali Waked, YNetNews 8/14/2008
Palestinians report demonstrators wounded by rubber bullets, Swedish national breaks her leg. Member of West Bank village’s anti-fence committee arrested Wednesday night - Eleven demonstrators were injured Thursday afternoon during an anti-fence demonstration in the West Bank village of Naalin, near Modiin. According to the Palestinians, most of the protestors were wounded by rubber bullets, while a Swedish national was beaten and her leg was broken. She was evacuated for medical treatment at a village clinic. Dozens of demonstrators - Palestinians and Israeli and foreign left-wing activists - took part in the rally in protest of the separation fence being constructed on the village’s lands. One protestor was arrested. A Border Guard official said that the issue was being looked into and that when rubber bullets were fired, no injuries were spotted and no ambulances were seen in the village.

Free Gaza ship to set sail Friday
Ma’an News Agency 8/14/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The current schedule of the Free Gaza boat, after being delayed by bad weather, has the vessel arriving in Gaza approximately one week Thursday. The Free Gaza ship was initially meant to set sail on 5 August, but several delays, the most recent of which was bad weather, have postponed the departure of the boat. According to the Free Gaza movement’s most recent press release, however, the ship will leave Crete for Cyprus on Friday, and depart for the Gaza port on Tuesday. The team gives 21 or 22 August as their estimated date of arrival, whether depending. The movement has alerted the Paris based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) of the ship’s plans. The Federation has expressed concern over the ship’s fate, and has "urged Israel to allow these two boats to reach their destination safely, in order to deliver their medical and humanitarian supplies to the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.

AI criticizes blockade on Gaza, calls for its immediate end
Palestinian Information Center 8/14/2008
LONDON, (PIC)-- The Amnesty international organization has urged the Israeli occupation authority to immediately lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip and "to allow unhindered passage into Gaza of sufficient quantities of fuel, electricity and other necessities". AI also asked the IOA "to allow those who want to leave Gaza to do so, notably patients in need of medical treatment not available in Gaza, and students enrolled in universities abroad, and also to allow them later to return". The AI report said that 80% of Gaza population was now depending on "the trickle of international aid that the Israeli army allows in. This humanitarian crisis is man-made and entirely avoidable. " The report noted that the IOA blockade, which it described as "collective punishment", had left "the entire population of 1. 5 million Palestinians trapped with dwindling resources and an economy in ruins".

FIDH: Let the freedom boats reach Gaza!
FIDH, Palestine News Network 8/14/2008
Paris - The Paris based human rights organization, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has been informed that two boats, carrying a total of sixty passengers, are scheduled to depart from Cyprus on Wednesday August 12, 2008. [due to weather concerns they have been delayed, but the information herein reamains of import] The boats are bound for the Gaza Strip, in an attempt to break the siege of Gaza and deliver humanitarian aid. The passengers include human rights observers, aid workers, journalists, plus doctors from Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and another fifteen countries. is very concerned that the two boats may not be allowed to reach their final destination as the Israeli Occupying Power continues to occupy the territorial waters of the Gaza Strip. notes that according to the (1949) Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel. . .

Lebanon and Syria agree to establish full diplomatic ties
Avi Issacharoff and Reuters, Ha’aretz 8/14/2008
Syria and Lebanon agreed Wednesday to establish full diplomatic ties for the first time in a step toward easing tensions between the two countries that have fueled Lebanon’s turmoil. Many Lebanese had long seen Syria’s reluctance to establish ties as proof it never gave up historic claims that its smaller neighbor is part of itsterritory and that it still aims to dominate Lebanon. The step is as ignificant symbolic victory for them, seen as Damascus’ formal acknowledgment that Lebanon is an independent nation. But Syria only agreed to formal ties after its influence in Lebanon wasguaranteed by the creation on Tuesday of a unity government in Beirut that gives Damascus’ ally Hezbollah a strong say in decision-making. Still, the agreement - along with the unity government - could go a long way to easing. . .

Lebanon, Syria agree to demarcate borders
Rouba Kabbara, Daily Star 8/15/2008
Agence France Presse - DAMASCUS: Lebanon and Syria agreed on Thursday to take formal steps to demarcate their borders as part of a string of decisions to normalize their relations for the first time after decades of tension. The announcement came as President Michel Sleiman wrapped up a landmark two-day visit to Damascus - the first by a Lebanese president since Syria ended almost 30 years of military domination over Lebanon in April 2005. The two countries also pledged to examine the fate of hundreds of people missing since the 1975-1990 Lebanese Civil War - amid claims by rights groups that around 650 people who vanished during the war are being held in Syria. Sleiman and Syrian President Bashar Assad also agreed to control their borders and curb "trafficking," it was announced at a news conference by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem and Lebanese counterpart Fawzi Salloukh.

Lebanon bus stop bomb kills 18
Reuters, The Independent 8/13/2008
A bomb killed at least 18 people, including nine soldiers, as they boarded a bus in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli today, security sources said. The bomb, which also wounded at least 45 people, was the deadliest attack on the army since its battle with al-Qa’ida-inspired Islamist militants in the north last year. It had been placed in a bag at a bus stop where soldiers usually gather, the army said in a statement. Red Cross workers ferried casualties from the site of the blast. The ground was spattered with blood and covered in shards of glass, television pictures showed. No one claimed responsibility for the attack in Lebanon’s second largest city, which has been the scene of fighting between security forces and Islamist militants and sectarian violence linked to the country’s political troubles.

Analysts: Blast not linked to Sleiman’s Syria visit
Daily Star 8/14/2008
BEIRUT: Despite the conspicuous timing of the two events, Wednesday’s deadly bombing in Tripoli relates less to President Michel Sleiman’s visit to Syria on Wednesday and Thursday than it targets the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and underscores the weakness of the military and the state in establishing any degree of control over the country’s security situation, a number of analysts told The Daily Star on Wednesday. Rumors have swirled about the connection between Damascus, which often wielded a heavy hand during the 29-year presence of its soldiers here, to the morning explosion in Tripoli’s busy center, but the deaths of at least nine soldiers point to interests different from those of the Syrian regime here, the analysts said. Official sources and politicians have said the blast was evidently aimed at a bus filled mostly with LAF soldiers.

Nasrallah insists on need to discuss national defense strategy
The Daily Star, Daily Star 8/15/2008
BEIRUT: Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday that his group was more determined than ever to discuss a national defense strategy for Lebanon. "We insist, now more than anytime before, on the need to discuss and come up with a defense strategy for Lebanon so that we all know how we can defend our country," Nasrallah said in a televised speech to mark Hizbullah’s victory in the 2006 war with Israel. Israel launched a war on Lebanon on July 12, 2006, after Hizbullah captured two Israeli reservists in a cross-border raid. The war was ended by United Nations Resolution 1701 on August 14, 2006. In a speech that tackled internal issues as well as the conflict with Israel, Nasrallah said a number of "challenges and delicate issues" await discussion in the upcoming dialogue sessions chaired by President Michel Sleiman.

Judge orders release of 15 Fatah al-Islam suspects
Daily Star 8/15/2008
BEIRUT: Investigative Magistrate into the Nahr al-Bared incidents Judge Ghassan Oweidat ordered the release on bail Thursday of detainees in the case, a judicial report said. The report said that after receiving the approval of State Prosecutor Saeed Mirza, Oweidat released 15 detainees. One of them is Tunisian and the others are Lebanese and Palestinians. Oweidat placed the bail at LL500,000. Fighting in the northern Nahr al-BaredPalestinian Refugee Camp last summer between the Lebanese Armed Forces and the al-Qaeda-inspired Fatah al-Islam militants left about 42 civilians, 220 soldiers and 170 militant fighters dead. Families of Islamist militants, who had been arrested following the almost four-month battle atNahr al-Bared, staged a sit-in in front of the military court in Beirut on Monday in protest against the arrest of their family members for nearly two years without trial.

VIDEO / Mahmoud Darwish - The death of a Palestinian cultural symbol
Avi Issacharoff and Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 8/14/2008
RAMALLAH - Midway through the first eulogy for the Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish, delivered by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Fatma began to tear up. As she stood at the back of the hall at the Muquata Wednesday, she was visibly gripped by sorrow. "I’m crying because I feel our hope has died," she told Haaretz. Fatma, an Israeli, decided to come bid farewell to the man who had become her cultural hero. "He was a symbol of our homeland, and now we feel there are no symbols left. He spoke to our emotions, as a nation, and now he’s gone," she said. As Abbas’ speech went on, more and more mourners broke down and wept. Even Abbas’ longtime secretary, Intissar, began to cry. It is doubtful that Mahmoud Darwish, who died last weekend at 67 following heart surgery at an American hospital, knew he would be so honored in his death.

Towns and villages across Palestine open centers of condolance for Palestinian Poet
Ma’an News Agency 8/14/2008
Qalqilia – Ma’an – The governorate of Qalqilia city and directorate of culture is one of many municipalities who have organized sites for Palestinians to offer their condolences to Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, who was buried in Ramallah on Wednesday. In Qalqilia it is the hall of the chamber of commerce that has been set aside as a place of remembrance, where Palestinians who could not attend the poet’s funeral can leave flowers, or messages. Governor of Qalqilia Rabih Al-Khandaqji received condolences along with the area’s head of security Faysal Beshtawi, the head of the chamber of commerce, local representatives of all political factions and security systems. Crowds of Qalqilia residents, employees and security personnel attended the event.

10,000 honor poet Mahmoud Darwish in Ramallah
Ma’an News Agency 8/13/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – A river of some 10,000 people bearing the body of poet Mahmoud Darwish arrived at the Cultural Palace just outside the West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday. Another 3,000 people gathered at the Cultural Palace on Wednesday morning. More joined them, marching from the presidential compound in central Ramallah. Darwish was buried in on a hillside overlooking the city. As the coffin was lowered to the ground, a small regiment of Palestinian security officers had to restrain a crowd struggling to look at the grave. Earlier, President Mahmoud Abbas and other notable Palestinian figures addressed Darwish’s official funeral in the presidential compound, the Muqata’a. Darwish, the Palestinian national poet, died in a Huston, Texas hospital on Saturday following open heart surgery. He was 67.

Gaza Artists commemorate Darwish
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 8/13/0200
In commemoration to Palestinian intellect and poet, Mahmoud Darwish, Palestinian artists lit candles on Tuesday in the Unknown Soldier Square in Gaza in respect to the life, work and character of Darwish whose poetry symbolized the ongoing Palestinian struggle and determination. The artists expressed their deep sadness and sorrow over the departure of Darwish who became the symbol of culture is his remarkable intellectuality and poems. Palestinian caricature, Abu Al Noon, stated that Darwish will live in the hearts and minds of all Palestinians. Abu Al Noon added that Darwish always called for the unity of all Palestinians and factions and that he was extremely saddened by current internal conflicts and divisions. "You memory will forever live in our hearts and minds", Abu Al Noon said, "You magical poetry will light our path of freedom".

Palestinian Poet Mahmoud Darwish laid to rest in Ramallah
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/13/0200
Thousands of Palestinians and internationals attend Darwish’s funeral on Wednesday in Ramallah, after his body arrived from the USA with a special Emirates airplane, then with special helicopters from Jordan at around 11:00 am. After several hours, the Israeli authorities agreed to open the Beituniya checkpoint point in the central West Bank in order to allow Palestinian citizens of Israel to travel to Ramallah for the funeral of poet Mahmoud Darwish. A Palestinian member of Israeli Knesset, Muhammad Baraka contacted Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai and the Israeli cabinet coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories, Yousif Mishlib, calling for the checkpoint to be opened. Darwish was laid to rest at 14:00 in the front yard of the Cultural Palace in Ramallah, which will be named after him.

’Migron settlers to move when homes built’
Jerusalem Post 8/14/2008
The leaders of the settlement movement in the West Bank will choose a new site for the illegal outpost of Migron within 30 days and build permanent housing there for the Migron settlers, the state informed the High Court of Justice on Thursday. Slideshow:The new housing will be located close to the present site, which is privately owned Palestinian land, and within the boundaries of the Binyamin Regional Council. "In the shortest possible amount of time after choosing the site, we will submit plans to the planning office of the Civil Administration and immediately afterwards start preparing the infrastructure," said Dani Dayan, chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. "At the same time, we will prepare building plans and get ready to build in order to complete construction as quickly as possible.

IOA invited tenders for construction of 1,761 housing units since Annapolis
Palestinian Information Center 8/14/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority has invited tenders for the construction of 1,761 housing units in occupied Jerusalem since the Annapolis conference in the USA last November, according to an Israeli movement. The leftist peace now movement published a report in the media indicating that the number of the units constituted an unprecedented increase in settlement construction in the city. It said that the latest such tender was for the construction of 130 housing units in Har Homa settlement built on Jabal Abu Ghunaim area. The movement recalled that the IOA had pledged during the Annapolis conference to freeze all settlement activity and to conclude a peace agreement with the Palestinians within a year.

Israeli settlers injure a Palestinian civilian in Hebron
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/14/0200
A group of Israeli settlers attacked Hebron on Thursday morning, wounding a civilian. Eye witnesses reported that a group of Israeli settlers attacked houses located near the Israeli settlement; settlers threw stones and glass bottles at houses causing the injury of Issam Sefan aged thirty-five. Medical sources reported that he sustained slight head injuries. [end]

2 civillians detained near Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 8/14/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Two Palestinians were detained south west of Hebron on Wednesday night and Thursday morning according to the Palestinian Prisoners Society. The society told Ma’an that Israeli soldiers detained 36-year-old Anwar Aj-Jamal after Israeli forces stormed the house of his father Najeh in the Abu Sneineh neighborhood of central Hebron. Residents of the home were evacuated and its contents were ransacked. Anwar was taken to an unknown location. Forces also stormed the home of Kamil Shawamreh in village of Deir Al-Asal Al-Fauqa, south west of Hebron and detained his 20-year-old son Nadir before ransacking the home. [end]

2 detained near Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 8/14/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces detained two young men from Nablus at 2:30am on Thursday morning. Troops stormed the homes of the two men before they were detained and taken to an unknown location. Palestinian security sources told Ma’an’s correspondent in Nablus that Israeli forces detained 25-year-old Rami Ghazal from Wadi At-Toffah west of Nablus and Muhannad Ghanem 27-year-old from Rafidia. [end]

Palestine Today 081408
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 8/14/0200
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 3 m 0s || 2. 75 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, www. imemc. org, for Thursday August 14th, 2008. The Israeli army invaded west bank cities shot 2 civilians and kidnapped 12, these stories and more coming up, stay tuned. The Israeli army invaded Deheisheh refugee camp in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Eye witnesses reported that a large Israeli army force entered the camp and began heavy shooting at random, injuring two civilians. The Israeli army took the two wounded civilians to an unknown destination. Also, troops searched and damaged a large number of houses, as well as kidnapping five more civilians and taking them to an unknown destination. The Israeli army invaded Nablus for the third day in a row.

Sderot parents threaten schools to remain closed
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 8/14/2008
City’s Parents Association announces it may decide to halt opening new school year in fortnight’s time, due to city’s failure to fortify schools. ’We can’t endanger our children,’ says association -The Sderot Parents Association announced Thursday it is considering not opening the new school year, which is scheduled to launch on September 1st. According to the Parents Association, a series of bureaucratic failures involving the Sderot Municipality and several government bureaus have prevented the fortification of some of the city’s schools against rocket fire. The Parents Association said in a statement that it would be announcing its final decision on the strike within the next few days. "We refuse to sit idly by and be guinea pigs. You can’t play with human lives like that.

Olmert offers to absorb 20,000 Palestinians
Marina Ayyoub, International Middle East Media Center News 8/14/0200
The Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has proposed to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that the "shelf agreement" the two sides are working on should include an agreement for Israel to take in Palestinian refugees as part of "family unification ". Sources reported that Olmert proposed to Abbas that Israel absorb some 20,000 Palestinian refugees a year for 10 years, according to a formula to be determined in advance. Their absorption would depend on all the other issues being resolved first, and on the Palestinians agreeing that there would not be a "right of return" to Israel and that most refugees would be absorbed in the future Palestinian state. [end]

373 names added to list of those receiving family reunification permits from Israel
Ma’an News Agency 8/14/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Three hundred and seventy three additional names were added to the list of Palestinians granted family reunification permits in the West Bank on Thursday. The initial list of 5,000 was released on 28 July 2008. Ma’an received the list of additions from chief of civil affairs Hussein Ash-Sheikh on Thursday, and made the list available on its Arabic home page. The permits will allow exiled Palestinians or those living illegally in the West Bank to be granted legal right to reside in the West Bank. Applications for the permits are made based on the applicant having living family members in the area. [end]

Olmert suggests absorbing 20,000 Palestinian refugees as part of family reunion
Palestinian Information Center 8/14/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- An Israeli newspaper revealed that premier Ehud Olmert told PA chief Mahmoud Abbas that Israel could absorb 20,000 Palestinian refugees per year for 10 years as part of family reunion on condition that all final issues between two sides should be fully resolved. The Haaretz newspaper quoted sources in Israel and the US as saying that according to Olmert’s offer, the absorption would be based on a formula to be determined in advance. According to the newspaper, Olmert’s office responded to the news by saying that the premier’s stance is that the establishment of a Palestinian state is meant to provide an answer to the absorption of Palestinian refugees. The newspaper also said that Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who is conducting talks with PA negotiator Ahmed Qurei, is opposed to Israel’s taking in any Palestinian refugees, and also refuses accepting them on the basis of family reunification.

Mixed messages come from talks between Olmert and Abbas
Ma’an News Agency 8/14/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz reported Thursday morning that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had agreed to absorb 20,000 Palestinians over ten years. Palestinian Secretary of executive committee of the PLO Yasser Abd Rabbo and Olmert’s office responded quickly to the report and denied that any such agreement had been madeAbd Rabbo, for his part, confirmed that the Palestinian side would not be open to such a deal as that reported in Haaretz. Responding on Radio Palestine (Sawt Falastin), Abd Rabbo said that such an offer would not end up giving anything to Palestinians, but would rather be used to take away their claims to confiscated land and homes and ultimately be bartering away their rights. In what Haaretz called a "rare official statement" issued to their newsroom by the office of Olmert, the office denied that any such offer had been made.

Hamod: No force could eliminate the RoR
Palestinian Information Center 8/14/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Tareq Hamod, the secretary-general of the Palestinian Return Assembly asserted Wednesday that the Palestinian people understand the stages of their national struggle very well, adding that no force could annul the Right of Return of the Palestinian people. "The Palestinian people have indeed proved that they were great enough to protect their cause as they confronted all the challenges with exemplary firmness, and they remained adherents to their right of return because our historical presence is greater than could be eliminated by a deal or extraordinary force", Hamod, who was speaking to the PIC, asserted. He also pointed out that the average Palestinian refugee is "aware of what s/he wants and what the enemy wants, and is aware of the sources of danger", explaining that the [Israeli] enemy was confused due to the external and the internal crises that strike him.

OPT: Palestinian group seeks to change aid dynamics
Shabtai Gold/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 8/14/2008
RAMALLAH, 14 August 2008 (IRIN) - A newly formed Ramallah-based "Palestinian community foundation" said it is looking to change the way aid is given, so that more sections of society benefit from international donations and less money goes to waste. "We don’t want to get rid of foreign aid; we want to reform it, so it is in line with the Palestinians’ priorities," said Nora Lester Murad from the Dalia AssociationShe complained that too often priorities were determined by foreigners whose focus was different from that of locals. Alix de Mauny, a spokeswoman for the European Commission (EC) in Jerusalem, said its priorities for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) were determined with the Palestinian Authority (PA) as part of its Reform and Development Plan, presented at the Paris Donors’ Conference last year.

Settlers vow fierce resistance if PM’s peace plan comes to fruition
Haaretz, Palestine Monitor 8/13/2008
13 August 2008 The "shelf agreement" that the Israeli government has proposed to the Palestinian Authority, whose details were released Sunday, would leave within Israel some 220,000 settlers living in 48 settlements in settlements blocs. This area, west of the separation fence, more-or-less overlaps the seven percent of land in Judea and Samaria that Israel will annex according to the "shelf agreement. " www. haaretz. com Another approximately 70,000 settlers in 74 settlements east of the fence will have to leave their homes, according to the agreement. Most of these settlements are hard-core ideological communities where opposition to evacuation is likely to be strong and perhaps even violent. A 20-year resident of the northern West Bank settlement of Yitzhar and father of 10, Yigal Amitai, says he and his friends "don’t need to be loved, and therefore the evacuation of Yitzhar will look like the evacuation of Umm al-Fahm [would].

Israel’s U.S. envoy: Barak harming diplomatic mission
Aluf Benn, Ha’aretz 8/14/2008
Israel’s Ambassador in Washington, Sallai Meridor, Wednesday sent a scathing letter to Defense Minister and Labor party leader Ehud Barak, accusing him of harming Israel’s diplomatic mission in the U. S. during his most recent visit two weeks ago. The letter, which was first revealed by Channel 2’s Udi Segel, claimed that Barak refused to include Foreign Ministry officials in meetings with senior U. S. officials that dealt with "sensitive and important" issues. Meridor said Barak’s decision limited the leverage of Israeli diplomats permanently placed in Washington because it made them seem detached from the leadership in Israel. "Your behavior seriously damaged that ability [to negotiate], and that of Israel to affect processes in the U. S. capital," Meridor wrote.

Egypt tells Israel that Shalit could be home in November
Ma’an News Agency 8/14/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Egyptian negotiators said that captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit will be home by November. The news was reported by Israeli press agencies on Thursday, which said that despite Hamas’ toughened stance on negotiations, Egyptian brokers are determined to have Shalit home soon. Egyptian officials reportedly told Amos Gilad and Ofer Dekel, two of the team responsible for prisoner negotiations, on Sunday that three months time is enough to finalize a swap deal and secure the release of Shalit. The sticking point for negotiations has been Israeli reluctance to release what they call Palestinian prisoners with "blood on their hands. "Hamas, having witnessed the Israel-Hizbullah prisoner swap which saw the release of high profile fighter Samir Quntar and four others, in addition to 190 bodies and later the release of five Palestinians for the bodies of two. . .

Egypt seeks to have Shalit freed by November
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 8/14/2008
Israeli representatives involved in negotiations for kidnapped soldier’s release hear Egyptian intelligence chief that he plans to finalize deal with Hamas within three months. Meanwhile, Hamas toughens its stance, demands opening of Rafah crossing - Egypt seeks to have kidnapped IDF soldierGilad Shalit released by November 2008, Cairo officials told Israeli delegates Amos Gilad and Ofer Dekel during the recent round of talks held last weekend. Meanwhile, it has been reported that Hamas has toughened its stances ahead of a possible resumption of the negotiations for the Israeli soldier’s release, and now demands that the opening of the Rafah crossing as a gesture. Gilad and Dekel returned from Cairo last weekend with the notion that the negotiations with Hamas have reached a deadlock.

Barak: Invasion of Gaza would render Shalit talks impossible
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 8/14/2008
The cease-fire deal with Hamas along the Gaza Strip border has created conditions that facilitate the talks to free abducted soldier Gilad Shalit, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday. "Had we been involved in a large scale operation in Gaza today there would be no chance of negotiating over Shalit," Barak said on a visit to communities on the Gazan border. "The negotiations. . . are taking longer than they should. We will have to make difficult decisions to bring Shalit home, but we have a moral and ideological commitment to do so," he said. Barak told reporters that Israel must be prepared for the possibility that the ceasefire would collapse, leading to a deterioration that could last days or weeks. He promised to continue pushing for fortifying structures in the southern communities from future rocket and artillery fire.

Former Egyptian ambassador to Israel makes unpreccidented public comments
Ma’an News Agency 8/14/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Former Egyptian ambassador to Israel said that he was an Egyptian intelligence agent more than an ambassador. During a 9 August speech in the Alexandria Library, Mohammad Basyouni commented on his 14 year term as ambassador to Israel : “I have no Israeli friends and all my memories of them are as miserable and boring, I wasn’t an ambassador I was an intelligence man, did you think I worked as an ambassador? " Basyouni was the Egyptian representative in Tel Aviv from 1986 to 2000. He was the first ambassador appointed after Egypt cut ties with Israel following their 1982 war with Lebanon. He said during his speech that he was proud of being able to create an important resource network in Israel, and that he worked hard to maintain it during his 14 year tenure. “Israelis are boring and miserable in instinct and even in their weddings they give the. . .

Suleiman demands Israel to end the file of Shalit within three months
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 8/14/0200
Egyptian Intelligence Chief, Omar Suleiman, demanded Israel to speed up the talks on the file of the captured Israeli Soldier, Gilad Shalit, and reach a prisoner swap deal with the Palestinian resistance groups within three months. The Egyptian demand came during the recent meeting that brought together Amos Gilad and Ofer Dekel, Israeli officials in charge of the talks on Shalit, and Suleiman representing the Egyptian side. Suleiman demanded the Israeli officials to achieve a prisoner swap deal within the three coming months after Hamas requested Egypt to intervene for the continuation of the indirect talks and the reopening of the Rafah Border Terminal, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli delegates returned from Cairo last week after the talks reached an impasse, but by the beginning of this week the delegates returned to Cairo to resume the talks.

Boil water advisory issued for Artas area residents, ministry issues precautions
Ma’an News Agency 8/14/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A boil water advisory has been issued for residents of Artas village and surrounding area south of Bethlehem. The Palestinian Ministry of Health announced the presence of polluted water in the region late Friday, and immediately issued the warning. The ministry has issued instructions to affected residents so they can insure that drinking water is safe. The following were the instructions from the ministry sent to Ma’an:1 – Do not drink water from Artas region without boiling it. 2 – Teams of health professionals from the ministry will begin sanitizing wells on 14 August. 3 – All local fruits and vegetables should be washed well with sanitized water before eating. 4 – Food or drink that has been left uncovered for a long period of time should not be eaten. 5 – Crops should not be watered with waste water.

Health Ministry warns of water pollution in the region of Artas, Bethlehem
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/13/2008
Bethlehem -- The Palestinian Health Ministry warned in a statement issued on Wednesday of the existence of water pollution in the region of Artas, Bethlehem. The Ministry sent its statement to all media, including PNN, to warn all residents of Artas Village, the home of the "Artas Lettuce Festival," to not drink the water. Palestinians are already facing a major water crisis. This is the worst it has been in decades, the Israeli government has stated of its own situation. There is wastewater currently flowing into Lake Tiberius in the north. The Israelis control most of the water supply and a small fraction goes to Palestinians compared to Israelis, including those Israeli settlers in the West Bank. The Palestinian Ministry is telling residents of Artas do not drink the water; chlorination of the water supply will begin on Thursday morning, including private water wells.

Jihad urges Muslims and Arabs to revolt against Zionist schemes in Jerusalem
Palestinian Information Center 8/14/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Islamic Jihad Movement called on the Arab and Islamic nations to revolt against the Zionist schemes to destroy the Aqsa Mosque and judaize occupied Jerusalem, warning that the Palestinian people would never stay passive if the Israeli occupation carried out any of its schemes against the holy Mosque and city. Sheikh Ra’ed Salah, the head of the Islamic Movement in 1948 occupied lands, had produced, Tuesday, Israeli official documents considering the squares of the Aqsa Mosques and the Dome of the Rock as"public plazas" and revealing Zionist intentions to destroy the Aqsa Mosque and other Islamic historical sites in Jerusalem. "When it comes to the Aqsa Mosque, we will sacrifice ourselves for the Aqsa and Jerusalem and all differences will be gone because the Aqsa unites the Muslims’ hearts," Waleed Hilles, the spokesman for the Movement, highlighted.

Jerusalem bulldozer ''terrorist'' buried
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 8/13/2008
Security forces allow Ghassan Abu Tir’s family to hold midnight service in their village. Only 10 family members allowed to attend - Ghassan Abu Tir, the "terrorist" who carried out the deadly bulldozer attack on Jerusalem’s King David Street last month, was buried his home village of Umm Tuba, located in the eastern part of the capital. Border Guard officers arrived in Umm Tuba at around 2 am, closing off roads and allowing the Abu Tir’s family to hold a quiet service. Only 10 family members were allowed to attend. Abu Tir, who was employed as a bulldozer driver at a Jerusalem construction site, went on a rampage in mid-July, injuring 18 people. He was shot dead by two bystanders. Abu Tir is related to Mahmoud Abu Tir, a former member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, who is imprisoned in Israel.

B’tselem: IDF only launched 4 probes into 189 Palestinian deaths
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem on Thursday relayed that since the start of 2007, it had asked the Israel Defense Forces to investigate 99 incidents in which 189 Palestinians were killed ? but the army only actually launched probes in four of the instances. B’Tselem also Thursday harshly criticized the Military Advocate General, Brig. Gen. Avihai Mandelblit , over his decision to close the investigation into the death of a Reuters cameraman in the Gaza Strip last April. The army cleared the IDF tank crew that killed the journalist of any wrongdoing and said the soldiers will not face any disciplinary action. B’Tselem branded this decision as extremely unreasonable. The army found that troops acted properly when they opened fire on Fadel Shana, suspecting he was a militant preparing to fire a missile. . .

PCHR condemns Israeli verdict on death of Reuters photographer
Ma’an News Agency 8/14/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Shortly after the verdict to releive the tank crew which killed Reuters photojournalist Fadil Shana’a on 16 April 2008, was delivered by an Israeli military court, the Palestine Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemned the decision. The center issued a public statement saying that the ruling opened the door for press to be the lawful targets of Israeli fire. In a letter to Reuters from Israeli Brigadier General Avihai Mendelblit, the Israeli decision was spelled out for the news agency. “The tank crew was unable to determine the nature of the object mounted on the tripod," stated Mendelbilt. He continued saying that they could not "positively identify it as [either] an anti-tank missile, a mortar or a television camera. ” Mendelblit also wrote that “In light of the reasonable conclusion reached by the tank crew and its superiors that the characters were. . .

Army clears soldiers who killed Rueters cameraman
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 8/14/0200
The Israeli Military Prosecutor cleared the Israeli soldiers who killed Palestinian reporter Fadel Shana’a in Al Boreij refugee camp, in the Central Gaza Strip, in April 2008. Soldiers fired a tank shell at a crowd of Palestinians killing nine of them, including Shana’a. Shana’a worked as a cameraman for Reuters. The prosecutor claimed that the tank crew acted according the field rules and "could not have specified whether Shana’a was carrying a gun or a camera". In a letter the prosecutor sent to Reuters, he said that the vest that Shana’a was wearing is very similar to vests that fighters wear. But Reuters said maintained that Shana’a was wearing and blue flaked jacket market with "PRESS" and that the vehicle was also clearly marked. Reuters added that fighters in Gaza are rarely seen wearing flak jackets. Reuters also said that it is troubled by the decision as it gives the. . .

Tanzim gunman who broke pledge to cease terror arrested by IDF
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
Israeli security forces apprehended a senior Tanzim gunman who had violated a signed pledge to cease all terror-related activities, Israeli media reported Thursday after military censors lifted a gag order on the case. The Tanzim operative, Firas Tashtush, was arrested by an elite Israel Defense Forces unit during a military operation in Nablus. He is suspected of planning to supply Tanzim members with explosive materials, and was said to have taken part in attacks against IDF troops in the area. Firas Tashtush was arrested by an elite IDF unit during a military operation in Nablus. He is suspected of planning to supply the town with tanks and of being involved in terror activities against IDF forces in the area. Tashtush, 24, signed an agreement a few months ago which committed him to ceasing any involvement in terror-related activities.

MIDEAST: Gaza and West Bank in Muddied Separation
Mel Frykberg, Inter Press Service 8/14/2008
RAMALLAH, West Bank, Aug 14(IPS) - Over a hundred Fatah fighters loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement fled to the West Bank from Gaza last week, fearing for their lives at the hands of Hamas, the Islamic movement which took over the Gaza Strip in June 2007 after it routed Fatah forces. The Fatah men barely managed to escape the violence which broke out in the Sajaiyeh neighbourhood of Gaza City, leaving nearly a dozen Palestinians dead and over a hundred injured, including women and children. Following several bomb explosions in Gaza city, which left five Hamas members and a young Palestinian girl dead, Hamas raided a heavily militarised stronghold belonging to one of the most powerful clans in Gaza, the Hilles, after accusing them of being behind the explosions. The Hilles clan is loyal to Fatah, the military wing associated with Abbas's Palestinian National Authority (PNA).

Islamic Jihad leader speaks to the press about Gaza, Palestine, unity
Ma’an News Agency 8/14/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Islamic Jihad leader Muhammad Al-Hindi gave an interview with Gaza’s weekly paper Al-Istiqlal, and spoke about conditions in Gaza, the state of Palestine and ideas about national unity. Al-Hindi prefaced his interview with the statement, “challenges and dangers have taken place in the Palestinian arena recently, which affect the very essence of whatever it is that we call “Palestinian. ” The widening gap between Hamas and Fatah despite the frequent proposals of different sides to resume internal dialogue to get out of current crisis is troubling. " A positive atmosphere for the launch of an internal Palestinian dialogue is essential, according to Al-Hindi. He said that dialogue would be useless if it occurred without the support of many Palestinians devoted to the efforts. He sited political persuasion and detentions across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as one. . .

Az Zahhar to PNN: no comprehensive national reconciliation this year
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/14/2008
Fadi Yacoub -- Prominent leader in the Hamas government and the deposed Foreign Minister, Mahmoud Az Zahhar, told PNN on Thursday afternoon that there will be no comprehensive internal dialogue this year. He ruled out the idea altogether. The internal strife between the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is ongoing as it has been since June 2006 with recent flare-ups. Mutual arrests are rampant on both sides against the others’ members. Az Zahhar said that the notion of national reconciliation this year is simply not feasible. He sited the "differences between the prominent Palestinian political parties: Fateh and Hamas" as one of the major reasons for this division. He insists that the Hamas government control the Rafah Border Crossing with Egypt, not the Palestinian Authority.

Hamas calls for unfication and revolution against Israeli plans for Jerusalem
Ma’an News Agency 8/14/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinians should unify against the increasingly threatening Israeli attempt to Judaize Jerusalem, Hamas said Thursday via a spokesperson. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that he spoke to Arabs and Muslims everywhere in his call for public support to strengthen the steadfastness of Palestinian people in their battle with Israel. He called for a mass revolution to defend the Al-Aqsa mosque and Jerusalem from Israeli plans to take over the city. Hamas considers recent decisions to expand East Jerusalem settlements which he said confiscated most of the lands of Palestinian East Jreusalem, and their plan to build a Jewish temple under the Al- Aqsa Mosque, efforts to establish Jewish dominance over the area. Moreover, he said, they are efforts to remove the Palestinian presence from the city.

Human chain in Rafah urges Palestinian national unity
Ma’an News Agency 8/13/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinians linked arms in a human chain in the city of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Wednesday in a demonstration urging Hamas and Fatah to end their rivalry and reunite the Palestinian people. The protest was organized by the National Association for Democracy and Law in association with dozens of civil society organizations in the Gaza StripA Hamas-Fatah unity government disintegrated in June 2007 following deadly fighting between Hamas and Fatah in the Gaza Strip. Since then Hamas has remained in control of Gaza, Fatah the West Bank. Ibrahim Mu’ammar, the director of the association, said the rivalry between the two movements has a negative affect on the human rights of Palestinians. He urged civil society organizations to speak out and demand national unity. Representatives of other organizing groups delivered speeches calling on Hamas. . .

Three leftist factions continue their efforts to end the internal Palestinian crisis
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 8/14/0200
After holding a meeting with Hamas leaders on Thursday evening, the Leftist Bloc, "The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), and the Palestinian People Party (PPP)" held a meeting with Fateh leaders and Leftist issued the following statement;1. All factions agree to prohibit all political arrests, and to act in order to form a National Committee in the West Bank and another committee in Gaza in order to end the file of political prisoners, and to act together in order to achieve a document to prohibit all political arrests. Hamas and Fateh should be part of this Committee. 2. The factions agreed that the Israeli lack of commitment to the truce requires all national and Islamic factions to weigh the situation, and make a decision that maintains the Palestinian right to resist the occupation.

’If we die, Abbas is to blame,’ say Fatah fugitives stranded in Gaza
Reuters, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
A patch of sand dunes on the Gaza Strip frontier, within view of Israeli border patrols, is all the haven that eight Palestinians on the run from Hamas have. The men, members of President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction who escaped a July 25 raid by Hamas police, had hoped that Israel would allow them out of the blockaded coastal territory and on to the relative safety of the occupied West Bank. Israel admitted dozens of other Fatah loyalists at Abbas’s request but says there has been no such intercession for the eight fugitives, who have survived three weeks in the sweltering heat thanks to food and water smuggled to them by a friend. "Hamas wants us dead. They will kill us if we return, and Israel is not letting us in," one of the men, who gave his name as Ahmed, toldby telephone.

10-year-old Muhammad memorizes entire Quran at 60 day summer camp
Ma’an News Agency 8/14/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Ten year-old Muhammad Can’aan, who was exiled to the Gaza Strip with his family in 2002, memorized the Holy Qu’ran this summer while he took part in a camp program. The boy committed the 600 page revelation to memory in only 60 days. "I went to a summer camp named after the Prophet Mohammed peace be upon him," Muhammad told Ma’an. "For 60 days," he continued, "I used to go from seven in the morning until four in the evening to participate in the camp. " At the camp Muhammad started memorizing the holy book along with his friends. " At first it was so difficult," he commented, "but with the help of my family and the teachers in the camp, I was able to memorize the book of God. " In the evenings after camp Muhammad would ask his mother to help him continue his project. " My mother would read the page twice," he explained, "and then in a quarter of an hour I was able to memorize 30 pages.

Chronicling the story of Greater Palestine’s rappers
Daily Star 8/15/2008
Interview - Beirut: [Yet another] blackout has descended upon Bourj al-Barajneh Palestinian refugee camp this night. It makes your efforts to find the Palestinian Arab Center that much more atmospheric and inspires vague hopes that perhaps you won’t miss the first minutes of Jackie Salloum’s "Slingshot Hip Hop" after all. You find the hall’s exterior bathed in generator-driven light. The interior is dim but for the concert footage projected on a screen and reflected back upon the white plastic chair-mounted eyeballs fixed before it. Salloum’s first feature-length film, "Slingshot" chronicles the rise of the Palestinian hip-hop scene - starting in ’48 Palestine (sometimes called "Israel") and the other occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza. Salloum’s central protagonists are DAM - who had a region-wide hit with their tune "Mean Irhabi" ("Who’s a Terrorist") - especially the group’s Tamer Nafar, from Al-Lid near Tel Aviv.

Palestinian swimmers are glad just to dive in
Uzi Dann, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
BEIJING - They may not be Michael Phelps, or even Gal Nevo or Tom Be’eri, but today and tomorrow will see the debut of the two swimmers representing Palestine. Hamse Abdouh and Zakiya Nassar, who represent half of Palestine’s four-person Olympic delegation, will compete in the men’s and women’s 50m freestyle competition respectively. "When the Chinese fans applauded us at the opening ceremony, we felt like that was why we had come. And also of course to compete," said swim coach Ibrahim al-Tawil, who is also head of the Palestinian Authority’s Olympic delegation. "Our sign didn’t say ’Occupied Territories’ or ’West Bank’ or ’Palestinian Authority. ’ It just said ’Palestine. ’ Billions of people saw that on TV, and that’s a big thing," he said. Abdouh, only 18, grew up in East Jerusalem, where he trained in the pool of the city’s YMCA.

After early woes, Israel pins hopes on judoka Arik Ze’evi
Uzi Dann and Rami Hipsh, Ha’aretz 8/14/2008
BEIJING - With its early medal favorites eliminated from competition, Israel’s hopes for Olympic glory are falling squarely on the broad shoulders of judoka Arik Ze’evi, who begins competition today. Tennis players Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich have been ousted, as has the men’s sailing team of Udi Gal and Gal Kliger. Gal Zubari is leading his windsurfing competition, and the women’s sailing team of Vered Bouskila and Nike Kornecki retains 4th place in theirs, but Ze’evi is the one who has ever experienced the thrill of standing on the winner’s podium. In the 2004 Athens Games, in which windsurfer Gal Fridman brought Israel its first ever gold, Ze’evi took bronze in the men’s 100kg event. In the 2000 Olympics, he placed fifth. He is one of Israel’s top international athletes, winning the 2000, 2003, and 2004 European Championships, placing second in 2005 and third this year.

Woman beat, threatened by ’modesty squad’
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 8/14/2008
Jerusalem woman who left ultra-Orthodox life after her divorce gagged, beaten by group of self-proclaimed ’chastity guards’ - A 31-year-old Jerusalem woman was cruelly beaten and threatened with death by members of the ’modesty squad’ who took it upon themselves to interrogate her about her relationships with men, an indictment filed Thursday by the Jerusalem Prosecution reveals. According to the indictment, 29-year-old Elhanan Buzaglo and six other men forced their way into the woman’s apartment in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Maalot Dafna several months ago. The Prosecution says that the woman once belonged to the ultra-Orthodox community, but abandoned that life after her divorce in 2005. According to the indictment, 29-year-old Elhanan Buzaglo and six other men forced their way into the woman’s apartment in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Maalot Dafna several months ago.

Boy wizards and animated puppets need not apply
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/14/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Harry Potter and Pinocchio are apparently not welcome in Israel, at least in their Arabic translations imported from Syria and Lebanon. Arab-Israeli publisher Salah Abassi told Israeli public radio Monday that authorities ordered him to stop importing Arabic-language children’s books from the two long-time foes of Israel. The ban includes translations of such books as "Pinocchio" and "Harry Potter" as well as Arabic classics. "The Trade and Industry Ministry and treasury warned me that importing those books is illegal," said Abassi, who imported the books through Jordan. The ban, based on a decree from 1939 when the area was under British Mandate, prohibits the importation of books from countries that are at war with Israel. Abassi told the Maariv daily most of the books can be found only in Lebanon and Syria.

State won’t distribute anti-nerve gas drug with gas mask kits
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 8/14/2008
Authorities will no longer include an anti-nerve gas drug in safety kits distributed in the event of a nuclear or chemical emergency, the state announced Thursday. The Defense Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command will remove injections of atropine from home safety kits that will be distributed to the public beginning in early 2009. The move is designed to cut costs of replenishing stockpiles of the kits. "This is a move that is similar to that done if many other countries in the world who distribute protective kits," a defense official said Thursday. The drug injections have a relatively short shelf life of five years, thus the frequent need to replenish stockpiles comes at a high cost. Gas masks can be used for up to 25 years after they are first manufactured.

Israeli police demands Cell Phone companies to provide them with precise details on clients
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 8/14/0200
Celcom mobile phone company in israel revealed on Wednesday during a Law and Constitution Knesset session that the Israeli police is demanding it to provide the force with illegal information regarding its clients, the Arabs48 news website reported. This demand is part of a law known as "Big Brother" which allowed the police to build a huge database on the clients and their calls as it provides the police with client names, addresses, detailed call log and other information. Celcom said that the Israeli security wants to know when a client joined their network, the type of cell phone he/she carries, the dealer who sold the phone, bill information, and other information. Nearly 18 months ago, the Israeli Judicial System initiated a law which gives the police all needed technologies which could locate the position of a client at any given time.

Pro-dialogue pop radio station drops from the air
Daily Star 8/12/2008
JERUSALEM: An English-language radio station set up to foster dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians has stopped broadcasting due to insufficient cash, officials from the station said on Monday. In a statement, the station said it was unable "to generate sufficient advertising revenues to sustain its ongoing operation. "RAM-FM had been airing English-language talk shows and artists like Michael Bolton and Air Supply from a studio in Ramallah since last year. Owned by South African Jewish businessman Issy Kirsh, RAM-FM was modeled after a South African station that provided a venue for racial reconciliation after apartheid. Its managers sought to build links between Israelis and Palestinians, in the same way as its African predecessor - through phone-ins, music and news. Earlier this year, Israel shut the station’s studio in Jerusalem, saying it did not have a license to broadcast.

Israel source denies U.S. curbing arms sales to deter Iran strike
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 8/14/2008
An Israeli official on Wednesday denied an Haaretz report that the U. S. had rejected an Israeli request for military equipment and support that would improve Israel’s ability to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. The official told the Jewish Telegraphic Agencythe Israeli-U. S. arms sales negotiations were being held without consideration of Iran and thus had no bearing on the U. S. ’ decision to withhold arms sales. "They’re two separate things," the official said, referring to the Haaretz report. The officials also denied that, as compensation for the requests it rejected, Washington offered to improve Israel’s defenses against surface-to-surface missiles. "There’s ongoing cooperation between us on missile defense, but there’s nothing new on that," the official told the JTA.

Nasrallah: ’Failed’ Israeli generals caused Georgia defeat in war
Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Thursday asserted that "failed" Israeli generals had caused Georgia’s defeat in its currentwar with Russia. "Israel exported failed generals in order to train the Georgian armed forces, including general Gal Hirsch, and we all know that the Georgian army was defeated by the Russian forces," Nasrallah said in a speech to mark two years since the end of the Second Lebanon War. Brig. Gen. (Res. ) Gal Hirsch was the commander of the Israel Defense Forces’ Galilee Brigade when reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were abducted by Hezbollah on the northern border, sparking the Second Lebanon War. He operates a privately-owned Israeli military contractors that recently trainedGeorgian security forces Nasrallah also declared in the speech that Israel’s defense minister and army chief’s "failures". . .

Olmert aides: Talansky’s evasion of court shows he can’t be trusted
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s associates on Thursday seized Morris Talansky’s announcement that he will not return to Israel for the continuation of a corruption probe into the premier as evidence of the key witness’ unreliability. "This shows who Talansky is, how much one can trust him and how much one can base things upon him," the prime minister’s associates told Channel 10. The Jewish American businessman’s attorneys in Israel announced his decision earlier Thursday after being informed of it by his attorneys in the United States, with whom he consulted before reaching the decision. Olmert’s associates added: "Talansky is scarred because the main point of the story isn’t money that he transferred to the prime minister, but other money that he has a reason to hide.

Talansky to stay in US despite testimony date
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 8/14/2008
State’s key witness in PM bribery probe informs Justice Ministry he will not return to Israel for second testimony. Decision made due to Talansky’s US lawyers’ fear he may incriminate himself. Olmert’s legal team to ’consider ramifications’ - Dramatic turn of event:Morris Talansky’s attorney, Jacques Chen, informed the Justice Ministry Thursday that his client will not be returning to Israel for his second testimony, scheduled for late August. The American businessman is the State’s key witness in the case against Prime MinisterEhud Olmert in its investigation into him allegedly receiving illicit fund. In a letter sent to the ministry, Chen claimed that although he asked his client to return to Israel, his American counsels have advised him against it; citing Talansky may incriminate himself during his testimony.

Likud party website hacked
Niv Lillian, YNetNews 8/14/2008
Hacker belonging to Muslim group accesses party website, promises more kidnappings of soldiers after return of Gilad Shalit - The Likud party’s website (likud. org. il) was hacked on Wednesday by a hacker known as Cold Zero, who is a part of a group of hackers known as Team Hell. The group is known to be as a collection of Muslim hackers, believed to comprise of mostly Palestinian hackers. The site’s main page was replaced with a message, written in Hebrew, with both grammatical and spelling errors, saying "you kill Palestine children in Gaza; we will hack into your websites". Another message on the site said, ’You thinkGilad Shalit will be returned? As soon as he is returned, we will kidnap four more like him". They were referring to the Israeli soldier who was kidnapped by Hamas in 2006. Poetic HackerBank of Israel’s website cracked by Muslim hacker/. . .

Nasrallah: Georgia lost because of Israel
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 8/14/2008
In speech marking two-year anniversary of Second Lebanon War, Hizbullah secretary-general mocks Israeli political, military leadership: ’Gal Hirsch was defeated in Lebanon, and now lost the war for Georgia’ -In a speech marking the two-year anniversary of the Second Lebanon War, Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah mockedIsrael’s political and military leadership. "The entire front line of the army’s brass stepped down because of the war. Gal Hirsch, who was defeated in Lebanon, went to Georgia and they too lost because of him," laughed Nasrallah. Hirsch, a brigadier-general in the reserves, served as commander of the IDF’s Galilee Division during the war and resigned in its wake. In recent years he consulted the Georgian army on the establishment of elite units and rearmament, and gave various courses in the fields of combat intelligence and fighting in built-up areas.

Gori: Russian soldier shoots at Ynet reporter, loots his car
Tzur Sheizaf, YNetNews 8/14/2008
Car with several Israeli journalist robbed at gunpoint by troops; 20 minutes later, car is returned by Russian officer. Ynet’sdescribes experience - Drama in Gori: Ynet reporter describes the events which took place near Russian checkpoints in the Georgian city of Gori. "We arrived on the outskirts of Gori on Thursday, during the afternoon. There were a lot of Russian troops and television crews. We arrived about two hours after an altercation almost broke out between Russian troops and Georgians. The Georgians were there to welcome their army, and the Russian troops brushed them off. "As I was taking pictures around Gori, a Russian soldier approached me and started shooting his weapon in the air," added Sheizaf. "People were running scared and our driver had disappeared. Suddenly a soldier appeared, I didn’t know if he was an Osstetian or a Chechen.

Georgian Israelis to demonstrate against Russia
Roi Mandel, YNetNews 8/14/2008
Israelis of Georgian origin to organize human chain on Tel Aviv shoreline, across from foreign embassies, spreading clear message: "˜We mustn’t stutter in the face of the Russians’ - A group of Georgian Israelis is planning on spreading out Thursday on the Tel Aviv shoreline in a human chain across from the various foreign embassies. Their goal is to express solidarity with their other homeland which was hit by the Caucasus war and to call upon the West to not abandon their friends in Tbilisi. One of the organizers, David Davarashvili, said that "Russia never worried about Israel and always assisted its enemies; Israel does not need to fear expressing a clear and resolved stance against it. " According to him, "This is not the time to be timid. We mustn’t stutter in the face of the Russians.

Understanding What’s Happening in Georgia
Luigino Bracci Roa, Middle East Online 8/13/2008
The Georgian President decided to resolve the problems existing since 1989 with the separatist province of Ossetia, in the most radical way: launching a surprise invasion, supported by the United States and taking advantage of the fact that the planet was distracted by the Olympic Games. Ossetia’s secession would need to be done away with before December, in order for Georgia to join NATO. 99% of the inhabitants of South Ossetia wish to join with North Ossetia, under the Russian Federation. But the world does not support them, although it did support Kosovo’s secession. A heated conflict broke out last Friday in the Georgian region called Ossetia, when the Georgian army tried to take a city by surprise, in order to put an end to a movement that since the 1990¡¯s had been trying to reunite this region into a single country forming part of the Russian Federation.

Venezuela’s Chavez meets world Jewish leaders, vows to fight anti-Semitism
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez met with Jewish leaders on Wednesday, pledging to work together against anti-Semitism and open up channels of communication despite differences on Middle East politics. Both Chavez and leaders of the World Jewish Congress called the meeting asuccess. "There may be some differences of opinion on some issues - on major issues such as Iran and also the Middle East," Michael Schneider, the organization’s secretary-general, said after the meeting. "But when it comes to anti-Semitism, I think we’re on the same page. " "We mentioned our concerns about anti-Semitism and asked him what his position was," Schneider said. "And he said he was certainly not an anti-Semite. "The socialist president said afterward that it was a very important meeting, but did not elaborate.

Mubarak to meet Saudi, Lebanon, Oman leaders
Middle East Online 8/14/2008
CAIRO - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is to meet the heads of state of Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Oman over the next three days to discuss regional developments, the state-owned press reported. The meetings will all take place in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, according to the daily Al-Ahram. Mubarak will on Thursday meet Oman’s Sultan Qaboos, the ruler of the key Gulf state which faces Iran across the strategic Strait of Hormuz, to discuss the Iranian nuclear file, Al-Ahram reported. On Friday, the Egyptian leader will meet with Saudi King Abdullah to discuss "the situation in the Palestinian territories and Arab efforts to unite Palestinian ranks," it said. On Saturday, Mubarak will meet Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora to discuss the latest developments in Lebanon, the paper said. Print

Spate of attacks in Iraq leaves at least 22 people dead
Benjamin Morgan, Daily Star 8/15/2008
Agence France Presse - BAGHDAD: At least 18 Shiite pilgrims heading to the holy city of Karbala for a religious festival were among 22 people killed on Thursday as a spate of bomb blasts rocked Iraq, security officials said. At least 17 were killed in a double attack by two women suicide bombers who blew themselves up among a crowd of pilgrims heading to the city, police Lieutenant Kazem al-Khafaji in Babil province said. The women detonated their explosives-packed vests 50 yards apart and at a five-minute interval in Iskandiriyah 60 kilometers south of the capital, Khafaji added. The twin attacks left at least 40 more wounded, 13 of whom were in a serious condition, Khafaji added. Earlier, another Shiite pilgrim was killed and seven others wounded by a roadside bomb in Baghdad’s commercial district of Karrada as they set off for Karbala, around 110 kilometers south of Baghdad for Sunday’s festival.

Ahmadinejad, Turkish leaders fail to agree on proposed energy deals
Reuters, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Turkish counterpart failed on Thursday to sign energy deals opposed by Washington, which is seeking to pressure Tehran into halting its nuclear program. A joint statement from Ahmadinejad and President Abdullah Gul in Istanbul said the two Muslim countries would continue discussing further energy cooperation. Neither side gave a reason for the delay but stern faces by Turkish and Iranian officials at the Ottoman palace where the talks took place suggested a somber mood. "I think Turkey cannot afford politically to make a deal with them now and that’s why it failed," said Soner Cagaptay, Turkish Research Program director at the Washington Institute. A source from Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s office told earlier that Ahmadinejad’s visit might not yield the expected oil and. . .

Ahmadinejad says Iran open to dialogue on nuclear standoff
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/15/2008
ISTANBUL: Iran is open to dialogue to resolve the standoff on its controversial nuclear programme, but will not give up its right to possess atomic energy, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday. "We believe that dialogue is the best way to resolve the issue and we are always ready for dialogue," Ahmadinejad told reporters in Istanbul after talks with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul. But negotiations had to take into account Iran’s right to develop nuclear energy technology, he added. "Those who do not respect that will lose themselves. There will be no change in the will of the Iranian people," he said. Western powers suspect Tehran’s nuclear program are a cover for the development of the atomic bomb, but Ahmadinejad said the allegations were a reflection of Washington’s "ill will" toward Tehran.

Iran confident over talks on nuclear programme
Middle East Online 8/14/2008
ANKARA - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday sounded an upbeat note on talks with Western powers on Tehran’s contested nuclear programme, saying they were going in the "right direction. " "We think that the question of nuclear power is going in the right direction," said Ahmadinejad in an interview given to the television channel CNN Turk, part of the American CNN television network. "The negotiations are good negotiations and that is going to continue," he added. "Of course, the negotiations are complex, it’s normal. . . (But) now the negotiations have started and it’s good. I do not think that we are going to towards chaos," he said. Earlier this week, Iran said it had agreed with the EU to continue the talks aimed at resolving the dispute over the country’s nuclear programme. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili discussed the issue by phone on Monday.

Iran lawmakers rap VP over remarks on Israelis
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/14/2008
TEHRAN: More than 200 conservative Iranian lawmakers lashed out on Wednesday at a top aide to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over his controversial remarks that Iranians are "friends with Israelis. "The MPs issued a strongly worded statement calling on Ahmadinejad to take action against his deputy, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaie. "Mr. Mashaie does not have the right to take such a disgraceful stance and he is not competent to hold such a responsibility," according to the statement read out in Parliament by one of the MPs. "Condemning this regretful position, we deputies ask Dr. Ahmadinejad to deal with him seriously," the MP told the 290-seat assembly. Rahim-Mashaie, vice president in charge of tourism, is one of Ahmadinejad’s closest allies and earlier this year his daughter married the president’s son. "I have said before that we do not have any hostility against the Israeli people. . .

Will Iranian ’friend of Israel’ be dismissed?
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 8/14/2008
Parliament members call on President Ahmadinejad to deal ’with severity’ with his deputy who was quoted as saying Iranians are ’friends of all people in the world "” even Israelis’ - More than 200 Iranian parliament members slammed Vice President Esfandiar Rahim Mashai for stating that Iranians are ’friends of all people in the world "” even Israelis. ’In a condemnation statement issued by the parliament members, they called onPresident Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to "deal with his deputy with severity" - in other words, to ensure that he is dismissed. "Mr. Mashai has no right to make such shameful remarks, and is not at the position to take such responsibility," the statement said. "It appears that Mr. Mashai is unaware of the fact that those who he refers to as a people are the ones occupying the homes of millions of Palestinians.

Manufacturers warn of end of Israel’s textile industry
Shay Niv, Globes Online 8/14/2008
850 employees lost their jobs during the first half of 2008. The Manufacturers Association of Israelhas repeated its warning that Israel’s textile industry could be facing closure, as a result of the slowdown in the economy, despite the consistent strengthening of the dollar against the shekel in recent weeks. According to figures released by the Affiliation of Textile and Fashion Manufacturers, 850 employees lost their jobs in the first half of 2008. While textile exports fell 3. 3% to $520 million in the first half in real terms, compared with the corresponding period, textile imports (especially from Asia), rose 18. 6% to $656 million. The Manufacturers Association also claims that Israeli exporters find it hard to raise prices for overseas customers to compensate for the fall in the shekel-dollar exchange rate, and as a result many of them have to sell without making a profit and even at a loss.

Watchdog worried about junk bonds
Yoram Gabison, Ha’aretz 8/14/2008
The sharp incline in yields on junk bonds, indicating a deepening crisis of confidence that corporate Israel will repay debt, is worrying the watchdog too. Israel Securities Authority (ISA) chairman Zohar Goshen has decided on steps to "increase transparency" - which means that he’s demanding that companies with ungraded corporate bonds on the market explain exactly how they mean to repay bondholders. Junk bonds are also known as high-yield bonds, which is an euphemism for "non-investment grade securities. "These are issued by companies that have to pay high interest rates to persuade investors to lend them money. Yesterday, at the urging of the ISA, two companies, Findon Urban Lofts and Enter Holdings, complied and revealed their sources to repay debts to bondholders and banks. But capital market sources say the watchdog has demanded clarifications from dozens of companies with risky debt on the market.

’What can a Syrian embassy in Lebanon change?’
Daily Star 8/15/2008
Analysis: BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman brought back landmark agreements on Thursday from his two-day visit to Syria, but his venture did little to ease the fundamental friction between the two states and served primarily as another stepping stone on Syria’s path back to regional and international significance after three years of isolation, a number of analysts told The Daily Star on Thursday. The deals signed on Thursday between Sleiman and Syrian President Bashar Assad - to establish formal ties between the two nations, delineate part of their common border and look into the issue of Lebanese detainees in Syrian prisons - ensure Sleiman’s trip a place in history books and represent an answer to Lebanese demands for Syrian recognition of Lebanese sovereignty, said Timur Goksel, former senior adviser to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon who now teaches international relations at the American University of Beirut.

World leaders laud Assad-Sleiman talks as March 14 says ’respect’ key to sound ties
The Daily Star, Daily Star 8/15/2008
BEIRUT: International and Lebanese officials welcomed on Thursday the agreements reached between Lebanon and Syria during President Michel Sleiman’s meetings with his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad in Damascus. Sleiman’s two-day Damascus visit, which kicked off on Wednesday, was the first by a Lebanese president to Syria since the latter country’s military domination over its smaller neighbor came to an end in April 2005 following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri two months earlier in Beirut. During the visit, the two leaders agreed to take official measures to forge diplomatic ties, demarcate their borders and look into the fate of missing Lebanese who have allegedly been held in Syrian jails for decades. In Kuwait, a Foreign Ministry official said the Gulf state "welcomes" the moves, which were in the interests of both countries, the Kuwaiti news agency KUNA reported.

Indonesia rejects US pressure to halt Al-Manar broadcasts
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/15/2008
JAKARTA: Indonesia has rejected US pressure to stop the Hizbullah-owned Al-Manar television channel from airing its programs in the country, a minister said Thursday. Information and Communications Minister Mohammad Nuh said Indonesia saw no reason to block broadcasts by the resistance group which is on a US State Department list of terrorist organizations. "We can’t stop anyone here as long as they aren’t violating our regulations," he said. "We don’t want any intervention or request from any country which isn’t in line with our basic principles. "He said he had explained Indonesia’s position during a meeting with US representatives. Lebanon-based station Al-Manar started broadcasting in Indonesia in April after leasing a satellite transponder operated by PT Indosat. Its three-year contract will end in 2011. Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim nation.

US cautious over Syria-Lebanon diplomatic ties
Middle East Online 8/14/2008
WASHINGTON - The United States responded cautiously to an agreement Wednesday between Syria and Lebanon to launch full diplomatic relations, saying it would be a "very good step" if Damascus truly honors Lebanese sovereignty. "We have long stood for the normalization of relations between Syria and Lebanon on the basis of equality and respect for Lebanese sovereignty," US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said. "One of the steps that has long been required is the establishment of a proper embassy for Syria in Lebanon and vice versa," she said. "Now, if the Syrians will go ahead and demarcate the border between Lebanon and Syria, and respect (Lebanon’s) sovereignty in other ways, then this will have proved to be a very good step," she said. Rice spoke after Lebanese President Michel Sleiman and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad agreed to start diplomatic ties for the. . .

IDF: Forces shoot Syrian gunman at border
Reuters and Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 8/14/2008
Army spokesman says infiltrator carried a gun; man lightly wounded, treated in Israeli hospital - IDF forces shot and wounded an armed man who crossed from Syria into the Golan Heights on Wednesday, the army said. Violence along the Israeli-Syrian border is rare and the IDF said the incident was reported to United Nations forces in the area. An army spokesman said it was not immediately clear why the man entered the Golan. Troops shot at the man because he was carrying a gun, the spokesman said. The infiltrator was lightly wounded in the incident and was taken to an Israeli hospital for treatment. About a month ago, IDF forces killed a Syrian man who arrived at the border fence in the northern Golan Heights in order to carry out a drug deal. Another man at the scene was shot and wounded. Earlier Wednesday, sources in. . .

Ras Beirut’s English-language poetry scene finds a new place to express itself
Special to The Daily Star, Daily Star 8/13/2008
BEIRUT: Let it be known that the whir of espresso machines will not deter young poets from reciting their latest work. The Beirut-Type Writer open-mic poetry series, a monthly gathering of amateur poets, last week convened for the first time at its new venue - Cafe Younes, just off Hamra Street. Jason Iwen, a former creative writing professor at the American University of Beirut (AUB), started the series four years ago. Since that time it has become a popular outlet for English-language poetry in Beirut. Iwen’s departure from AUB two years ago saw Michael Dennison replace him both at the university and as the organizer of the poetry series. Founded at Makhoul Street’s Bluenote Cafe, Beirut-Type Writer made the move to the new Cafe Younes last Wednesday. Dennison believes the shift will help attract a wider audience and some new poets.


Articles


Inside the funeral of Mahmoud Darwish
Kristen Ess, Palestine News Network 8/13/2008
      I have a small handful of rose petals given to me from inside the funeral of Mahmoud Darwish. They were covering a table in white silk laid in front of his coffin as he was carried in by members of the Presidential Guard dressed in the palest brown of uniforms.
     There were thousands of people outside on the grounds of the Muqata, the Presidential Headquarters, and more in the streets. His body was driven through Ramallah just after the service finished around 2 pm. Posters of the great poet are hung everywhere in the central West Bank city.
     He was laid in the ground at 2:30, with the Grand Mufti overseeing the Sunni Muslim burial. Palestinian and black flags flew and wreaths of yellow, white, orange and red flowers with messages of condolences were all around. They are the same that were laid on the ground of the parking lot when the journalists first arrived on Wednesday morning. We were taken to them first by the Presidential guards.

A guest of eternity: Mahmoud Darwish in memoriam

Raymond Deane, Electronic Intifada 8/13/2008
      At a time when many feel that the Palestinian cause is dying, the death of the poet Mahmoud Darwish following open-heart surgery acquires added poignancy.
     Variously described as "the Palestinian national poet" or "the Arab poet laureate, Darwish was 67, exactly the same age as his friend Edward Said when he died five years ago. Both men were seen as embodying the aspirations of their people, both served on the Palestinian National Council, and both resigned in protest against the Oslo Accords which, as they rightly anticipated, sold out Palestinian rights for no tangible result.
     While Said philosophically endured the status of icon and saw it as helpful in his task of representing Palestinian claims, Darwish repeatedly but unsuccessfully rebelled against it and felt burdened by being forever associated with a poem such as "Identity Card," from his first collection.

Arrows in the quiver

Hani Al-Masri, Al-Ahram Weekly 8/14/2008
      The Palestinian premiership, while not without faults, has made valuable advances that should be built upon.
     The Badael (Alternatives) Centre for Media and Research recently organised a "horizon scanning" seminar with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Attended by dozens of politicians, scholars and media figures representing all shades of the political spectrum, the conference had essentially a two-fold purpose. This was, first, to assess the performance of the Fayyad government just over a year since its establishment, and second, to shed light on a number of the prime minister’s recent ideas and actions that reflect a new policy and perhaps a new outlook.
     Some claim that this meeting was a form of electoral campaign publicity even though Fayyad has declared that he has no intention of fielding himself in the next elections or accepting a new post. They also suggest it was a tactical gambit, an attempt to pre-empt some of the fallout of an impending economic crisis or a response to Israel’s flagrant bid to undermine the Fayyad government in spite of its having met all Palestinian obligations under the US roadmap plan.

We may be near a ’cold peace’ between the US and Iran

Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, Daily Star 8/15/2008
      So does it really matter if it is the erudite liberal or the macho neoconservative who enforces the universal "embrace" of the idea of America? It does, in one very significant way: today, the neocons’ ability to pool diplomatic power to legitimate aggression is minimized. The slick, charismatic liberal who looks and speaks as if he understands the despair of the voiceless, on the other side, may get the benefit of the doubt.
     There is a discernible progression in the rapprochement between the United States and Iran, even during the presidency of George W. Bush. This progression was forced upon the Bush administration by the emerging new regional order in Western Asia and North Africa and the reshuffling of world politics toward a "post-imperial" era. Let me sketch a few signposts of these developments in the following paragraphs.
     It has been one of the rather more salient effects of Bush’s ill-fated invasion of Iraq that the United States has lost its power to push and shove states, much less societies, toward accepting the "war on terror" as a global reality. Today, the US cannot enforce its legitimacy as the universal "Leviathan" anymore. The country’s short indulgence in the "unipolar transition moment," the period immediately after the demise of the Soviet Union, is over. If it could attack Iraq without a clear international mandate; if it could turn a terrorist attack on its soil into a global war, then nobody is safe.
     States and societies, especially in the wider Arab and Muslim worlds, feel compelled to protect themselves from this penetrative source of instability, not least because governments are increasingly scrutinized by assertive civil societies from Cairo to Riyadh. These have made it that much more difficult for authoritarian states to favor regime survival over national interest. Incidentally, this is why US presidential candidate Barack Obama constantly stresses the necessity to repackage the American brand. What he is trying to do, in essence, is to reposition the United States in world politics, not in order to pacify its foreign policy but to re-appropriate the country’s diplomatic power to legitimate future adventures. This is meant to make it easier for the allies of the US to re-navigate toward an explicitly pro-American position.

Obama and America’s Wall of Ignominy

Robert Weitzel, Madison, US, Palestine Chronicle 8/13/2008
      ’Greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us one from the other.’
     "The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down." -- Barak Obama When Barak Obama visited Germany in July, he stood at the site where a wall once separated East and West Berlin. With his usual eloquence he praised the crowd of 200,000 for having had the courage to tear that wall down. He reminded them that the "greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us one from the other."
     The day before his Berlin speech Obama was in Israel standing less than two miles from the 400-mile-long apartheid wall that separates Israel from the West Bank. He did not call on Israeli courage to tear their wall down, nor did he mention that wall to his Berlin audience.
     I recently wrote about Obama’s Berlin speech and his politically "prudent" silence regarding Israel’s apartheid wall. I challenged him to walk his talk should he be elected president and work to tear down the world’s most unconscionable wall.

The poetry of loss

Richard Silverstein, The Guardian 8/14/2008
      Mahmoud Darwish, who died last week, should have been honoured as a national poet of both Palestinians.
     Mahmoud Darwish, the greatest Palestinian poet of his generation, died last Saturday after open heart surgery in Houston. His loss is a deep and severe blow to all who loved his magnificent poetry and the example of humanity and decency he represented.
     For those who may not be aware of Darwish’s role in Palestinian culture and society but who may know something of Israeli society, the nearest poet I can think of in stature would have been
     And although the two came from different cultures, the roles they played as progressive voices of conscience and poets of their respective nations are comparable. In the US, you might have to go back to either Robert Frost or Ezra Pound to find someone of comparable stature.