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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  

28 August 2008

Israeli forces detonate explosives before arresting students
Amin Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 8/28/2008
Nablus -- The pre-dawn raids were expansive throughout the West Bank Thursday with Israeli forces arresting 17 Palestinians. The Israelis also hit western Nablus City and arrested six An Najah University students. Eyewitnesses report that undercover special forces infiltrated the area first and were followed by tens of military vehicles. Soldiers surrounded several homes and broke into a building behind the University. They detained a number of citizens before storming the student apartments. The Israeli military detonated explosives inside causing significant damage. Eyewitnesses said that Israeli forces took "at least five young men" believed to be students of An Najah University who were living in the Al Khalili apartment building. Throughout the night Israeli forces also invaded Bethlehem, Hebron, Qalqilia and Tulkarem.

Israel to reopen Gaza crossings, let in Palestinians for medical care
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
Israel will open border crossings with the Gaza Strip Thursday morning and permit Palestinians requiring medical treatment to enter Israel via the Erez crossing. Fuel, merchandise and humanitarian aid will be brought to Gaza via the Karni, Sufa and Kerem Shalom crossings. The crossings had been closed on Monday at Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s order, following a Palestinian rocket attack. Barak discussed the crossings during a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday in Alexandria, Egypt. They discussed ways to maintain the truce between Israel and Hamas and negotiations to release abducted soldier Gilad Shalit. Related articles: Barak orders Gaza crossings closed after Qassam hits NegevGaza crossings under attack: gunfire at Karni, suicide bomb bid thwarted at Erez Egypt: Gaza crossing will remain. . .

Abbas firmly opposes any plan to resettle Palestinians in Lebanon
The Daily Star and Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/29/2008
BEIRUT: Palestinian refugees in Lebanon should not be permanently resettled in the country, and they should abide by their host country’s rules, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday after talks in Beirut with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman. "The Palestinians have the right of return and this is an issue we are discussing with the Israelis," Abbas told a media conference after the meeting. "We are against the resettlement of Palestinians in Lebanon," he added. An estimated 400,000 Palestinian refugees live in 12 camps in Lebanon. According to the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), there are around 4. 6 million Palestinian refugees worldwide. Most of Palestinian refugees came to Lebanon when the state of Israel was created in 1948. There are fears among the Lebanese that their settlement will be permanent, shifting the country’s delicate sectarian balance.

12-year-old amputee, stranded students leave Gaza with activists
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/29/2008
GAZA CITY: Pro-Palestinian activists who sailed to the Gaza Strip in symbolic defiance of an Israeli blockade headed back to Cyprus on Thursday with seven residents of the besieged territory on board their two boats. The wooden fishing boats "Free Gaza" and "SS Liberty," which arrived on Saturday with 44 activists on board, set sail for the 370-kilometer return voyage on Thursday afternoon. Among the Palestinians on board was Saed Mosleh, 12, who lost his leg to an Israeli tank shell, as well as students who had been prevented by the Israeli embargo from studying abroad. "I can’t believe we’re finally able to leave for medical treatment," said Khaled Mosleh, the boy’s father who was also among the passengers. "This is a miracle of God. "The activists had expected to be stopped on their way to Gaza by the Israelis who had warned them to stay out of the territory’s coastal waters. . .

ISRAEL-OPT: Scheme to give Israelis ''wet jobs'' in construction in place of Palestinians
IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 8/28/2008
RAMALLAH, 28 August 2008 (IRIN) - If the Israeli Ministry of Finance manages to push through some reforms as part of the proposed 2009 budget, there may soon be almost no Palestinian workers in Israel’s construction sector. "We are supporting a plan where the idea is to increase the number of Israelis in the workforce," an official at the Ministry of Finance told IRIN on condition of anonymity. "We want to create a situation where there is no interest in hiring Palestinian workers instead of Israeli ones," he added. According to initial estimates - based on Israeli government statistics and non-governmental organisation (NGO) data - some 15,000 Palestinian workers in the sector would be at risk of losing their jobs. Given unemployment and lower wages in the occupied Palestinian territory, this would be a blow to the local economy, especially in the West Bank from where most of the Palestinians come.

PCHR Fact Sheet No. 7: Extra-judicial executions of Palestinians by the (IOF)
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights - PCHR, ReliefWeb 8/28/2008
1 April – 30 June 2008. The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have implemented a systematic policy of extra-judicial executions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). From the beginning of the Second Intifada, in September 2000, until 30 June, 2008, the IOF carried out 348 extra-judicial execution operations in the OPT. During these operations, a total of 754 Palestinians were executed, representing 20% of the overall number of Palestinians killed by IOF since the beginning of the Second Intifada. 1 The victims included 521 targeted persons and 233 civilian bystanders, including 71 children and twenty women. 405 of the victims were executed in the Gaza Strip, and 350 were executed in the West Bank. In the Gaza Strip, 248 of the victims were targeted people, and 157 were civilian bystanders.

12-year-old hit by rubber bullet during Naalin ’riot’
Ali Waked, Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 8/28/2008
Anti-security fence rally in West Bank town turns violent yet again, as four Border Guard officers sustain mild injuries after being stones. Palestinian sources report troops’ use of crowd control measures results in boy suffering light head injury -A 12-year-old Palestinian boy was mildly wounded on Thursday afternoon after a rubber bullet hit his head during an anti-security fence riot in the West Bank town of Naalin. Four Border Guard officers were lightly wounded from rocks thrown at them during a violent riot. Two of those wounded were taken to a Jerusalem hospital for medical attention and two others were treated at the scene. During the altercation, a Border Guard officer fired warning shots in midair, after identifying a masked man amongst the crowd, attempting to light a Molotov cocktail.

Israeli settlers set fire to workshop under construction in Nablus
Palestinian Information Center 8/28/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Palestinian eyewitnesses reported that Israeli settlers stormed Thursday morning the Burin town, south of Nablus, and set fire to lumber used in the construction of a workshop which led to the burning of all pieces of wood. The eyewitnesses added that the settlers cut the workshop’s water pipe before their withdrawal, but the Nablus fire department rushed to the scene and extinguished the fire. They said that those Israeli assailants might have come from the nearby settlements of Bracha or Yitzhar whose settlers are notorious for waging attacks on Arab villages. Meanwhile, an Israeli special force boarding civilian cars stormed Thursday the Faisal street, downtown Nablus, and kidnapped one of the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Brigades’ activists called Adham Labada from his workplace at a shop. Labada is one of Al-Aqsa Brigades’ activists who have been granted. . .

Israeli forces seize man, raid clinic in Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 8/28/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized a Palestinian man and raided a medical center early on Thursday in the West Bank city of Bethlehem city. Palestinian security sources said that an Israeli forces stormed the city and surrounded house of 35-year-old Ala Mohammad Hassan Breijiyyah, detained him, and damaged his house. Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers stormed Al-Ehsan medical center in central Bethlehem city and searched the building. A separate group of Israeli soldiers invaded Ad-Duheisha refugee camp in the south of Bethlehem and raided the house of Ahmad Tawfiq Tayeh, and later withdrew without any arrests. [end]

Israeli troops kidnap six college students from Nablus
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/28/2008
An Israeli military force kidnapped six Palestinian civilians from the West Bank city of Nablus on Thursday at dawn, local sources reported - A number of Israeli military vehicles and jeeps invaded the city, and began shooting gunfire and concussion grenades. In addition, soldiers surrounded a number of houses and harassed civilians by throwing sound bombs for over two hours. Troops invaded students’ dorms in the city and kidnapped Walid Sabane, Hikmat Jabar, Abd Allh Bsharat, Ahmad Fares, and Ala Jadan and Wael Bishrat. The soldiers took them to an undisclosed location after ransacking their dorms. The Israeli army often kidnaps Palestinian civilians without any justification, and usually transfers them to detention centers inside Israel proper which are inaccessible to Palestinians, an issue which violates International Law, and Israel’s obligations as an Occupying Power under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Soldiers invade West Bank cities, kidnap 10
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/28/2008
Israeli troops invaded the West Bank cities of Tulkarem, Hebron, Bethlehem, Jenin and Tubas on Thursday morning and kidnappedten civilians, local sources reported. Israeli soldiers, backed by military vehicles, invaded Tulkarem, in the northern part of the West Bank, and launched a wide scale search campaign targeting several random houses. Soldiers used police dogs during the search and confiscated computers and other belongings. Troops kidnapped 4 civilians from Saleh family after ransacking their place and confiscating money and personal computers. They were all taken to an unknown destination. In Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, soldiers broke into the residence of an-Najar family located near the Annexation Wall on the city’s lands, and kidnapped 5 family members taking them to an undisclosed location.

Cell plotting to assassinate Israeli pilots, scientists arrested
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 8/28/2008
Joint IDF, Shin Bet, police operation exposes Islamic Jihad cell comprised of three Palestinians, two Israeli Arabs, who planned to assassinate Israeli pilots, scientists - An Islamic Jihad cell plotting to assassinate Israeli pilots, scientists and university lecturers was exposed in a joint IDF, Shin Bet and police operation. The arrest was cleared for publication on Thursday evening. The cell was comprised of three Palestinians and two Israeli Arabs from Shfaram. The group also planned to carry out a shooting attack against the IDF checkpoint near Beit Zeit, in the Ramallah area, and go after those suspected of collaborating with Israel. The planning of the assassinations was still in the early stages. The two Israeli Arab members worked on the fundraising front, trying to secure money for the purchase of weapons.

Ex-Shin Bet man suspected of selling stolen gas to Gazans
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
A former Shin Bet security service official is suspected of selling stolen gas tanks to Palestinians in Gaza, violating, among other things, an Israeli embargo against the coastal strip. Inspectors from the National Infrastructure Ministry safety and supervision department on Wednesday raided a warehouse in Ashkelon’s southern industrial area, which was owned by the former Shin Bet official. At the site, the inspectors found over 1700 stolen tanks of gas totaling some 100 tons, which the Shin Bet man is suspected of having bought from Israeli Arabs in the North with the intention of transferring them to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Investigators are also looking into suspicions that gas tanks have already transferred to the Gaza Strip. Supervisors found an additional 200 gas tanks on Thursday morning in the possession of the Israeli Arabs suspected of involvement in the affair.

Former Shin Bet man suspected of selling gas tanks to Gaza
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 8/28/2008
Retired security establishment official allegedly involved in attempted sale of 1,700 gas containers to Palestinians in Strip. Ministry of National Infrastructures says clear order exists against removing gas containers from Israel’s legal borders - Developments have been made in the illegal gas case discovered on Wednesday in Ashkelon. The Ministry of National Infrastructures and the police suspect that a former Shin Bet operative illegally sold stolen gas tanks to people in the Gaza Strip. A former Shin Bet official who is acquainted with the detained man said, "There is no chance that this man would be involved in the activity ascribed to him, he most likely stepped on the feet of some of the people in this field. " In addition, on Thursday an additional cache of 200 illegal gas containers was found in the north.

UNRWA asks Egypt, Israel to open Gaza crossings
Palestinian Information Center 8/28/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- John Ging, the director of UNRWA operations in the Gaza Strip, has asked Egypt and Israel to respond to humanitarian calls and open the Rafah and Beit Hanoun crossings before ordinary Palestinians. He said that those crossings are open only for a certain sector of people, and added that all should move to exert pressure for opening those crossings and alleviate the desperation and frustration in Gaza. The UNRWA official said that around 300 students are trapped in Gaza for the second year running and could not join their universities; which is a violation of their human rights and defies logic. Ging, who was addressing a ceremony in Gaza organized by his Agency for students who passed the exams, announced that UNRWA would deliver around 6 million dollars to students in its schools to help them meet their school needs.

Egypt promises Rafah crossing to be reopened before Ramadan
Rula Shahwan & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 8/28/2008
Egypt said will reopen the Rafah crossing with the Gaza Strip on Saturday and Sunday to in order to end the plight of 200 Egyptians stranded in the Gaza Strip for the past seven months, media outlets reported on Thursday. The Karm Abu Salem broder crossing, also known as, "Kerem Shalom" will also be open to a small number of Palestinians, especially for those stranded on the Egyptian side and those in need of immediate medical care. The Egyptian gesture as the Moslem Holy month of Ramadan nears. While Israel had allowed some goods, such as construction materials, into Gaza, the blockade has remained in place, and the 1. 5 million residents of Gaza remain trapped inside, lacking essential medical and food supplies. The Interior Ministry of the deposed Hamas government in Gaza will clarify later this week exactly who will be allowed to cross.

Gaza commercial crossings reopen, Rafah to open for humanitarian cases
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/28/2008
Gaza -- Gaza Strip commercial crossings are reopening today after three days of closure after the Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak issued the mandate for both the closure and the opening. The Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the Rafah Border Crossing will also be opened for several special cases, fearing that Palestinians will storm the border without Egypt’s consent. Well over 200 Palestinians have died duing the siege awaiting Israeli permission to leave the Gaza Strip for medical treatment, while Egypt has opened its border on several occasions for some of the critically ill. Many in the Palestinian government and street have derided Cairo for not keeping the border permanently open during the Israeli siege. During the past 14 months the border was stormed as thousands of people tried to get out.

Army starts sending African border infiltrators straight back to Egypt
Mijal Grinberg and Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
African border infiltrators arrested by the Israel Defense Forces while crossing into Israel from Sinai are now being immediately returned to Egyptian territory. Dozens of illegal immigrants were returned to Egypt this past week, leading human rights groups to petition the High Court of Justice for a temporary injunction against the expulsions. On Tuesday, Haaretz learned of the "immediate return" policy from soldiers serving on the Egyptian border, and the army confirmed the news yesterday. The same army sources said that the policy of immediate expulsion was dictated by senior political officials, and is being carried out with Egyptian cooperation. Dozens of illegal immigrants from Africa have been sent back to Egypt. Israeli border patrols handed some directly to Egyptian troops. Would-be infiltrators have been shot by Egyptian patrols in the past, but sources. . .

Khudari: We are seeking establishment of Cyprus-Gaza sea route
Palestinian Information Center 8/28/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the chairman of the popular anti siege committee, has disclosed that his committee, in cooperation with foreign solidarity activists, was seeking to establish a sea route connecting between Gaza Strip and Cyprus to break the siege imposed on the Strip. Khudari told Quds Press that his committee was trying to establish a permanent sea line between Gaza and Cyprus that would serve as an outlet for Gazans to Europe in coordination with the Cypriot authorities. He said that the issue was not easy and would take time and effort, but pointed out that it would be legal and would fall in line with the legal framework organizing such activity. The step would be taken in stages and the siege-breaking  sea voyages would continue at the same time, the MP elaborated. Khudari said that agreement was reached with the foreign sympathizers to coordinate all. . .

ISRAEL-OPT: Palestinian water boss reduced to ''crisis management''
Shabtai Gold/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 8/28/2008
RAMALLAH/STOCKHOLM, 28 August 2008 (IRIN) - The occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) continues to suffer from drought, but the head of the Water Authority told IRIN there was a limit to what he could do to help. "Crisis management is the only strategy that I am able to apply," Shaddad Attili, the head of the Palestinian Water Authority, told IRIN while attending World Water Week in Stockholm (13-23 August). He said he did not have the power to plan properly for his constituents, the 3. 5 million Palestinians in the oPt, as the Oslo Accords left too much control in Israeli hands. "We have to go to the Israelis to get permission to do projects, like drilling, building reservoirs or laying pipes," Attili said this week after attending a round of negotiations with his Israeli counterparts as part of the 2007 Annapolis peace process.

Hamas to release 153 prisoners before Ramadan
Ma’an News Agency 8/28/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of the Hamas-led de facto government in Gaza ordered the release 153 Palestinian detainees as a goodwill gesture before the month of Ramadan, senior officials in Gaza said on Thursday. Islam Shahwan, the spokesperson of the security forces in Gaza, said all the detainees had received services while in prison. “The prisoners psychological and religious courses along with learning the holy Qur’an by heart," he said. Captain Hatem Siyam, the director of Gaza central prison said that prisoners have been cleared for release by a panel of high-ranking police officers, in consultation with legal officials. Siyam said that so-called "security" detainees and those charges with major criminal offenses had been excluded. Haniyeh: ’dialogue still possible’On Wednesday Haniyeh voiced support for a dialogue process to end the conflict between Fatah and his Hamas movement.

PCHR Calls upon the Two Palestinian Governments to Put an End for Political Arrests
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 8/28/2008
Dozens of Palestinians have been arrested on political grounds by security services of the two Palestinian governments in Gaza and Ramallah. PCHR calls upon the two governments to stop political arrests which are prohibited under the Palestinian Basic Law and a Palestinian High Court of Justice ruling, and to release alls detainees who have been arrested in this context. According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at least 100 members and supporters of Hamas, including public figures, Imams of mosques, school teachers, university students, journalists and elected members of local councils, have been detained by Palestinian security services in the West Bank for various periodsThe detainees include a number of journalists: Mustafa Sabri, 42, who is also a member of the municipal council of Qalqilya and who was arrested on 7 August 2008; Fareed Hammad, 35, from

Israel to ease criteria for prisoner swap in order free Shalit
Ma’an News Agency 8/28/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Israeli government decided on Wednesday to ease its criteria for what kind of Palestinian prisoners it is willing to release in order to secure the freedom of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who had recently returned from a trip to Egypt where he met with the officials who are mediating the prisoner negotiations with Hamas. The Hebrew website of the newspaper Yediot Ahronot reported that the changes were agreed on during this meeting. The Israeli ministerial committee tasked with designating prisoners for release will meet this coming Sunday and compose a list of prisoners recommended for release. Yediot Ahronot expects the proposed list to include those charged with deadly attacks on Israelis, whose names were originally proposed by Hamas, as well as seventy previously-approved names.

Israel: Egypt must press Hamas to ease stance on Shalit deal
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
The third birthday of Gilad Shalit in Hamas captivity does not bode well. What is publicly known so far - in negotiations of this sort there is always a chance that a deal is being reached away from the media - is that there is no break in the talks with Hamas. Senior Israeli officials are of the opinion that Hamas has toughened its position, and that only energetic intervention on the part of the Egyptian mediators may change the situation for the better. The way the Israeli media tells it, Hamas is demanding the release of 450 Palestinians, many of them killers. The Arab media talks of 1,000 prisoners. The additional 550 prisoners, most of them considered "lightweight" compared with the first batch, are expected to be released at a later stage, indirectly linking their release to the deal over Shalit.

Lebanese helicopter brought down
Al Jazeera 8/28/2008
A Lebanese military officer has been killed after armed men brought down a Lebanese army helicopter flying over the southern village of Sejoud, military officials have said. Lebanese soldiers and Hezbollah members cordoned off the area in the Telal Sejoud region on Thursday and stopped journalists from approaching the crash scene. Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr, in Beirut, said the helicopter was fired at and "forced to make an emergency landing". "The army has said it was on a training mission in an area. . . outside of that patrolled by UN forces. "The Telal Sejoud area lies in Iqlim al-Touffah district, mountainous ridge around 20km north of the Israeli border where UN peacekeepers have a mandate to operate. Investigation launched Lebanese military officials identified thedead officer asSamer Hanna, a first lieutenant, and said an investigation into the incident had been launched.

Lebanese officer killed as helicopter comes under fire
The Daily Star and Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/29/2008
BEIRUT: A Lebanese army officer was killed on Thursday when gunmen opened fire on a military helicopter flying over a village in a Hizbullah stronghold in the south of the country. An army official said the helicopter was conducting a training mission over the village of Sejoud when it came under fire and was forced to make an emergency landing, adding that several members of the crew were also wounded. A Lebanese army statement identified the dead officer as First Lieutenant Samer Hanna. The incident occurred in an area near the border with Israel, which was the scene of fierce fighting between Hizbullah fighters and Israeli forces before their withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000. An AFP correspondent said the army had bolstered its presence in the Sejoud Hill area, which lies about 20 kilometers north of the Israeli border, and had set up roadblocks.

’Hizbullah downed Lebanese helicopter’
Jerusalem Post 8/28/2008
Hizbullah sources confirmed the group was responsible for firing at a Lebanese military helicopter, killing a navigator and forcing the aircraft to make an emergency landing, Channel 1 reported Thursday night. Slideshow:The helicopter was attacked as it flew over a Hizbullah stronghold in southern Lebanon, earlier on Thursday. According to a statement released by the Lebanese army, the helicopter was on a training mission when it came under fire from "armed elements" and was forced down in the highlands of the Iqlim al-Tuffah province. The statement said 1st Lt. Samer Hanna was killed and that the aircraft was damaged. No other crew were hurt. Hizbullah did not release a formal statement on the shooting. The terrorist group has not clashed with the Lebanese military in recent years and their forces often coordinate their activities.

Did Hezbollah shoot down Lebanese military helicopter?
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
Attackers opened fire at a military helicopter as it flew over a Hezbollah stronghold in southern Lebanon on Thursday, killing a navigator and forcing the aircraft to make an emergency landing, the Lebanese armysaid. A Lebanese army statement said the helicopter was on a training mission when it came under fire from armed elements and was forced down in the highlands of the Iqlim al-Tuffah province. The statement said 1st Lt. Samer Hanna was killed and that the aircraft had been damaged. No other crew members were injured. Hezbollah did not comment on the shooting. The armed militant group has not clashed with the Lebanese military in recent years and their forces often coordinate their activities. It is likely, for example, that the army would have informed Hezbollah that one of its helicopters would be flying over the area.

’Hizbullah shot down Lebanese helicopter’
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 8/28/2008
Sources close to armed Shiit organization assume responsibility for downing of Lebanese military chopper over Sejoud. Other officials in Lebanon refute claim - Hizbullah shot down the Lebanese military helicopter earlier on Thursday over the village of Sejoud - sources close to the Shiite group confirmed to Lebanese media. The attack resulted in the death of the pilot, identified as First Lieutenant Samer Hanna. Two other military men who were traveling in the helicopter were wounded in the crash. The reports, attributed to media associated with the anti-Syrian camp in Lebanon, assert Hizbullah intentionally shot down the chopper: "The helicopter was downed because it crossed the red lines which Hizbullah warned the ministry of defense and military not to go over. "Hizbullah informed them it was their obligation to uphold this.

Nasif: Palestinian prisoners live in difficult conditions in Israel jails
Palestinian Information Center 8/28/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Ra’fat Nasif, 43, one of Hamas’s political leaders, who was released Wednesday after four and a half years in Israeli jails, stated that the Palestinian prisoners are living in difficult conditions as a result of the arbitrary Israeli practices against them especially the policy of isolation, transfers and mass punishment. Nasif said that the release of prisoners is a natural right and obligation especially since there are more than 11,000 prisoners in Israeli jails, noting that the prisoners support any option to get them released. The Hamas leader held the Israeli government fully responsible for the suffering of its captive soldier Gilad Shalit and his family as it is responsible for the suffering of thousands of Palestinian prisoners and their families, calling on it to comply with the conditions of the Palestinian resistance regarding the prisoner swap deal.

Legal report: IPA breaks records in violating captives’ human rights
Palestinian Information Center 8/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The prisoners’ center for studies has accused the Israeli prison authority (IPA) of maltreating Palestinian captives in Israeli jails, asserting that it had broken the records in violating the simplest human rights of the Palestinian prisoners. The center quoted former Palestinian captive Abu Ali Yatta as confirming that the IPA had turned life of the Palestinian captives into intolerable hell, and keeps on punishing and imposing more restrcoitions on them on daily basis. Yatta was released from jail a couple of days ago after he spent more than 20 years in Israeli jails. Another Palestinian captive in the Israeli Ramon prison where he spent nearly 20 years of his life has confirmed to the center, through telephone contact, that life inside the Israeli prisons became intolerable, and that he anticipates a very strong reaction from the Palestinian captives with the aim to preserve their dignity and their legal rights.

Weekly Repot: On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 21- 27 August 2008
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 8/28/2008
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) - 9 Palestinian civilians, including 5 children, and an Israeli human rights defender, were wounded by IOF gunfire in the West Bank. The 9 civilians were all wounded when IOF used force against peaceful demonstrations organized in protest at the construction of the Annexation Wall in Ne’lin village, west of Ramallah. IOF used a foul smelling liquid against the demonstrators. IOF conducted 53 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. IOF arrested 48 Palestinian civilians, including 5 children. IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT and have isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world. IOF troops positioned at various checkpoints in the West Bank arrested at least one Palestinian civilian.

Islamic Movement announces plans to establish new organization
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
The Islamic Movement announced on Thursday that it plans to establish a new organization in place of the Al-Aqsa Institute after security personnel closed down one of its offices earlier in the week. The Defense Ministry also issued instructions to freeze the organization’s bank accounts. The name of the Islamic Movement’s new organ is ’The Al Aqsa Institute for holy sites and heritage’. The name was made public in a special message on Thursday. According to the same notification, the organization’s goals resemble quite closely the goals of the organization that was shut down earlier inthe week for suspected ties to the Hamas leadership in Jerusalem. The name ofthe former organ, Protectors of holy places and guardians of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, is also quite similar to the new one.

Al Jazeera reporter release ordered
Al Jazeera 8/28/2008
The Palestinian high court of justice has ordered the release of Al Jazeera journalist Awad Rjoub, who was detained by the Palestinian Authority’s security forces in the West Bank last month. Rjoub, also the director of the Arabic Media Centre, was taken from his office in the town of Dura, southwest of Hebron, during a series of arrests of journalists in both Gaza and the West Bank. Awad’s brother, Mu’ath, told the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) that Palestinian security forces confiscated two computers, a mobile phone, and documents belonging to Rjoub. Investigations by PCHR suggested the arrest was part of a series that took place in the West Bank at the end of July, targeting more than 100 people, many of them media workers, academics, and elected municipality officials. . .

PA security agency refuses to heed court order to free journalist
Khalid Amayreh, Palestine Think Tank 8/28/2008
A Palestinian security agency holdinga Hebron journalist in detention for criticizing the American-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) regime in Ramallah has refused to heed a court order to release him, his family said Thursday. A Ramallah court has ruled thatthe continued internment ofAwadh Rajoub was unlawful and that he ought to be set free immediately. Rajoub was arrested by the Preventive Security Force nearly three weeks ago, reportedly for "smearing the image of the Palestinian Authority" and "generating incitement" against the Palestinian security apparatus. Hevehemently denied the charges, calling his arrest and continued incarceration a "blatant violation of the rule of law" and "a flagrant assault on press freedom. "  Rajoub also denounced the "deafening silence" displayed by the Palestinian Journalists’ Union (PJU) toward his plight.

A casually deployed radar system
Aluf Benn, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
Significant strategic changes often occur surprisingly quietly, without drawing the deserved attention. A clear example of this is the agreement last month for the deployment of a U. S. radar system in the Negev, which will bolster Israel’s defense against Iranian or Syrian surface-to-surface ballistic missiles. The radar deployment will have historical significance: the first American base on Israeli territory. Israel has always had reservations about such a possibility and preferred to "defend itself by itself" and retain maximum freedom of action. This time the deployment will be for the long term. The radar will be operated by civilians employed by the company that builds the system, contracted by the Pentagon, and by two U. S. soldiers. Military sources say that in the future the system will be handed over to the Israel Defense Forces.

US government offers tax breaks for Jewish settlers
International Middle East Media Center, Palestine Monitor 8/28/2008
While US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been pressuring Israel to stop the expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, the US government has, at the same time, been offering tax breaks to US-based organizations who engage in settlement expansion. This news comes from a report produced by Reuters news agency, which conducted an investigation of the tax records of 13 US-based non-profit organizations whose stated goal is to expand Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. The news agency found that these organizations have raised more than $35 million in the last five years alone. When Reuters asked a State Department spokesman about the inconsistency, he stated that the tax breaks were in a different government department, and thus were not the concern of the Department of State.

PA, Germany sign agreement to establish 55 police stations in West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 8/28/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian Interior Minister Abd Ar-Razaq Al-Yahyaand German Representative to the Palestinian Authority Klaus Burkhardt signed a joint agreement to establish a total 55 new police stations in the West Bank on Thursday. The agreement is part of a joint project of the Palestinian Interior Ministry, the European Union mission to support the Palestinian police, and the United Nations. Five of the new police stations will be in Jenin, where the Palestinian security forces recently redeployed. Over 80% of Palestinian police stations in the West Bank currently work out of rented buildings. The German representative released a statement in Arabic praising “Efforts exerted by Palestinian police in establishing a police system committed to the principles of rule of law. ”He added that Palestinian police funding, training, and other forms of support.

400 Druze cross into Syria through Golan for annual pilgrimage
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
About 400 Druze clergymen living in the Golan Heights crossed into Syria on Thursday for an annual pilgrimage. The clerics, in traditional uniforms of white turbans, black robes and bushy mustaches, walked across a 300-meter buffer zone between Israeli and Syrian checkpoints at the Quneitra border crossing. For the first time, about a dozen women joined them to visit relatives in Syria. "The group was smaller than planned, because Israel turned down applications from other pilgrims," said Medhat Saleh, head of Golan affairs in the Syrian Cabinet. He did not specify how many other Druze were denied entry, or for what reason. More than 20,000 Arabs who follow the minority Druze sect, an offshoot ofIslam, live in the Golan, along with 15,000 Israeli settlers.

Druse women join pilgrimage into Syria for first time
Brenda Gazzar, Jerusalem Post 8/28/2008
Noflea Shker, a Druse resident of the Golan Heights, was nearly at a loss for words Thursday. She was about to cross the border into Syria, where she would see aunts and uncles for the first time in 25 years, her mother, who she had not seen in five years, and her seven-month-old grandson for the first time. "It’s an indescribable feeling," said Shker, her eyes brimming with tears while she waited to disembark from a bus at the border crossing. But Najwa Hamzi Amasha, another Druse resident, made no attempt to hide her disappointment at the rejection by Israel of her repeated requests to cross - she would not be meeting her siblings in Syria; she hasn’t seen them in nearly three decades. "The Jews of Sweden come to visit Jerusalem, their homeland, and their families," she said. "Why don’t they let us - and we are 40 kilometers away - visit our families? " For. . .

Barak to Mubarak: Egypt is Central Factor in Return of Shalit
Amoss Harel, MIFTAH 8/28/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Egyptian President Husni Mubarak on Tuesday that Israel views Egypt as a central factor in the return of kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit. Shalit was abducted by Gaza militants in a cross-border raid in 2006. Egyptian-mediated talks with Hamas for his release have apparently reached a standstill. " We hope it will not take very long before we see concrete intensive negotiations leading to [Shalit’s] release," Barak said at the meeting in Alexandria. He stressed that the release of the abducted soldier occupies a place of prime importance on Israel’s national agenda and said "all efforts should go toward making the negotiations a success and bringing the soldier back home. " The pair also discussed the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and efforts by Egypt to curb arms smuggling into the coastal strip. Barak said that Egyptian authorities had cracked down on smuggling across the border into the Gaza Strip in recent weeks but the measures were still not enough.

Shalit’s father slams Israeli government
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/29/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: The father of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who was captured by Gaza militants in 2006 accused the government of failing to do enough to seek the release of his son, who turned 22 on Thursday. "Politicians are dragging their feet. The prime minister [Ehud Olmert], who pledged to get Gilad released. . . might not be determined enough, otherwise he would have resolved the issue," Noam Shalit told Israeli public radio. Corporal Gilad Shalit was captured in a deadly cross-border raid on June 25, 2006, and is believed to be held in the Gaza Strip by Hamas. The Islamist movement took control of the territory after trouncing the rival Fatah party in Palestinian legislative elections in early 2006. On Wednesday a group of Shalit supporters demonstrated near the border with the Gaza Strip to mark the soldier’s birthday and demand the government do its utmost to get him freed.

Aviva Shalit: Politicians too busy with their own affairs to free my son
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
The event marking Shalit’s 22nd birthday took place at his home in Mitzpeh Hila in the Galilee. He was kidnapped from his IDF post in 2006 by Gaza militants in a cross-border raid, and is believed to be still held in the coastal strip. The abducted soldier’s mother referred to comments made by politicians about the number of Palestinian prisoners Hamas has demanded in return for freeing Shalit: "Whoever wants to avoid [paying] a high price - you had all the time in the world to do this. A country that forgets its soldiers will eventually be forgotten by its soldiers. "Addressing her son, Aviva Shalit said: "Giladi be strong and don’t break. We are with you and for you and will get you out of there. . . You don’t deserve a third year in this awful captivity. This wonderful nation and we will work [for you]. Even though the politicians are unfortunately occupied with their own agendas and personal affairs. "

UNRWA to grant $ 6M to Gaza school students
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 8/28/2008
John Ging, UNRWA’s Director of Operations in Gaza announced that the association will grant nearly 20. 0000 NIS (nearly $ 6M) to the students of UNRWA schools in the Gaza Strip in order to help them in buying stationary and supplies needed to start the new school year, the Palestinian Infromation Center reported. During a celebration honoring high school graduates held by the UNRWA in Gaza, Ging said that the association is practicing utmost efforts to ease the situation in Gaza amidst the ongoing Israeli siege. He demanded Egypt and Israel to act immediately and open the Rafah and Eretz Crossings in order to improve the situation in Gaza as the residents are living is despair and poverty. Ging added that there are more than 300 students who are stuck in Gaza, and for the second year cannot reach their universities abroad which is a direct violation to the basic principles of human rights.

Palestine Today 082808
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 8/28/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 3 m 30s || 3. 20 MB || Palestine Today 082808 Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, www. imemc. org, for Thursday August 28th, 2008. Israeli military forces invade West Bank cities and kidnap 16 civilians, meanwhile Egypt promises Gaza border crossing reopened before Ramadan, these stories and more, coming up, stay tuned. The News Cast Israeli military forces invaded the West Bank cities of Nablus Tulkarem, Hebron, Bethlehem, Jenin and Tubas on Thursday morning kidnapping 16 civilians. A number of Israeli military vehicles invaded Nablus, shooting gunfire and concussion grenades in residential areas. Soldiers surrounded a number of houses and harassed civilians by throwing sound bombs for over two hours.

Abbas: All Palestinians should be given right to return home
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters in Lebanon on Thursday that all Palestinians should be given the right to return home. The highly contentious notion of a Palestinian "right of return" is one key issues in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians for peace agreement. "The refugees should have the right of return to their homeland and we are negotiating this with the Israelis. I have to say we are not with permanent settlement of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. We are against permanent resettlement," Abbas told reporters after meeting Lebanese President Michel Suleiman on a visit to Beirut. Abbas also said he rejects the idea that Palestinian refugees might be forced to stay in Lebanon permanently. The Palestinian president added that he supports all decisions made by the Lebanese government on how to deal with Palestinian militants outside the refugee camps.

Zaki to PNN: Abbas in Lebanon for round of official talks, DFLP calls for refugee solution
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/28/2008
Fadi Yacoub -- President Abbas arrived in Beirut Thursday to begin a two-day period of official talks. He is meeting with senior Lebanese officials regarding bilateral relations, refugees, the internal situation, and negotiations with the Israelis. Representative of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Lebanon, Abbas Zaki, told PNN via telephone that meetings are beginning immediately as the Lebanese President greeted his Palestinian counterpart at the airport. Abbas reported later than a quick agreement was reached regarding Palestinian refugees. Numerous officials were also on hand for Abbas’ arrival this afternoon. Thursday’s schedule includes meetings with the Lebanese President, the Parliament Speaker, and the Prime Minister. The meeting with Prime Minister Fuad Siniora will deal with the most prominent issues of mutual interest, Zaki told PNN.

Abbas: Right of return for all refugees
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 8/28/2008
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that he rejects the idea that Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon might be forced to stay there permanently. Abbas visits LebanonAbbas said all Palestinians should have the right to return home. When it comes to armed Palestinian factions, however, Abbas said he supports any decisions the Lebanese government makes on how to deal with militants outside refugee camps. Abbas spoke to reporters Thursday in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut. About 400,000 Palestinian refugees and their descendants live in a dozen refugee camps in Lebanon, which were set up when Israel was created in 1948. Many Lebanese also oppose the permanent resettlement of Palestinian refugees, fearing they would tip the country’s delicate sectarian balance.

Abbas rejects permanent Palestinian resettlement in Lebanon
Associated Press, YNetNews 8/28/2008
Palestinian president says during visit to Beirut refugees residing in Lebanon should be able to return home; Lebanese fear they are liable to tip country’s sectarian balance - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he rejects the idea that Palestinian refugees living inLebanon might be forced to stay there permanently. He emphasized that all Palestinians should have the right to return home. When it comes to armed Palestinian factions, however, Abbas says he supports any decisions the Lebanese government makes on how to deal with militants outside refugee camps. Abbas spoke to reporters Thursday in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut. About 400,000 Palestinian refugees and their descendants live in a dozen refugee camps in Lebanon, which were set up when Israel was created in 1948.

Abbas demands right of return to all refugees
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 8/28/2008
During a Thursday press conference with reporters in Lebanon, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, said all Palestinian refugees should have the right to return home, and added the internationally guaranteed Right of Return is one of the key issues in peace talks with Israel. Abbas stated that any peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian must include the right o return of all refugees. "Palestinian refugees must have the right to return to their homeland", Abbas said, "We are negotiating on this base with Israel". The Palestinian president also said that he opposes the permanent settlement of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, and added that he rejects the idea of forcing the refugees to remain there. The Lebanese president, Michael Suleiman, was with Abbas at the press conference. Abbas also said that he supports the Lebanese government in its decisions on how to deal with armed groups that are outside of the refugee camps.

Hamas: Unity of Palestinian street a model for its leaders
Palestinian Information Center 8/28/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Thursday issued a statement highlighting that the unity shown in the Palestinian street’s welcome of released prisoners from Israeli occupation jails should serve as a model for senior politicians. The Movement’s statement, issued in the West Bank city of Tulkarem, said that such unity in warmly receiving released prisoners of all affiliations send a message to those politicians that the people are yearning for national unity away from foreign interventions. It congratulated Ra’fat Nassif, one of Hamas’s political leaders, for his release on Wednesday evening, and hoped that all Palestinian prisoners in occupation jails would soon be freed. Hamas pointed out that the question of prisoners should unite all factions in face of the Zionist danger that does not differentiate between factions in its spree of arrests in lines of the Palestinian people.

Odwan: PA strike calls prove its intentions to restore lawlessness in Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 8/28/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Atef Odwan, a political science professor and a Hamas-affiliated lawmaker, stated that the strike of teachers and the threats to call a strike in the health sector bear out that the PA is harboring bad intentions and working on restoring the state of security chaos in the Gaza Strip. Dr. Atef said that these decisions are reprehensible and show a lack of patriotic and humanistic sense as if those who took them have nothing to do with the Palestinian people in Gaza or the Palestinian cause.   The lawmaker underlined that the strike decisions are attempts to disturb the relations between the government and the Gaza citizens, adding that the magic will turn against the magician and the isolation of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and his entourage in Ramallah will deepen. Regarding the dialog efforts made by Egypt, the MP opined that Egypt’s position at this stage confirms. . .

Az Zahhar to PNN: internal unity rests on end of US control, thanks Free Gaza movement
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/28/2008
Gaza -- A leader in the Hamas government, Dr. Mahmoud Az Zahhar, told PNN on Thursday that true reconciliation will not occur while the United States has the power to veto internal politics. As individual faction meetings take place in Cairo before the comprehensive internal dialogue, several members of the Hamas leadership have said that there will be no internal unity until after the US presidential elections. The US dismissed the coalition government because Hamas was involved. The party was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council and immediately the US imposed a boycott. "As long as the US veto stands the issue is at a dead-end," Az Zahhar told PNN today referring to both the strife between Hamas and Fateh, and the plug to put Arab forces in the Gaza Strip. He also said, "The release of 198 captives was just a game that the Israelis tried to market to the world.

Palestinian faction war takes chronology captive
Ali Waked, YNetNews 8/28/2008
Hamas will switch to daylight savings time Friday while Palestinian Authority will do so with onset of Ramadan after Sunday - The power struggle and pride games between the Palestinian Authority government led by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and the Hamas government led by its Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has reached new heights. Hamas has decided to switch the clocks to daylight savings time on Friday after midnight, but the PA will switch their clocks this coming Sunday or Monday according to the moon’s appearance, signifying the beginning of the Muslim month. The Fayyad government announced that the time alterations will occur on the first day of the month of Ramadan. The Hamas instructed all of its institutions to act in accordance with the new clock from Friday after midnight. The outcome: The time in the Gaza Strip will be different than that. . .

Mohammed Deif Back in Spotlight
Ali Waked, MIFTAH 8/28/2008
The notorious leader of Hamas’ military wing, Mohammad Deif, is alive and kicking. And, apparently, writing as well. The shadowy leader has broken his two-year silence in the forward to a new book issued by Hamas in honor of group members killed in Gaza. Deif vowed Hamas would continue it fight. The highest a man can aspire to is the honor of martyrdom, writes Deif, who is introduced as the commander-general of the ’Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades. ’ The life of a ’shahid’ leads to either victory or death, he writes: "We vow to follow in the path of the heroic shahids, in the path of Sheikh Yassin, in the path of those who have chosen to fight the enemy. " Deif has survived several attempts on his life, and lives in hiding. It is believed that he remains seriously wounded from the last Israeli attempt to kill him. Since then he has not appeared in person before a crowd, only giving a brief statement to Hamas-owned media several months ago and giving a speech via telephone at a rally held by the organization.

Paralyzed Gaza girl celebrates birthday in Jaffa
Ali Waked, YNetNews 8/28/2008
Maria Amman lost five family members in IDF attack and herself is paralyzed. Birthday girl faces deportation, thanks those who came to celebrate with her - Hundreds of Jaffa residents and peace activists gathered on Wednesday to celebrate Maria Amman’s seventh birthday. Maria became known when her house in the Gaza Strip was hit by an IDF projectile in May 2006. In that attack Maria lost her mother, two of her brothers, her aunt and her grandmother, and Maria herself was severely injured in the attack and is almost completely paralyzed. The Arab Jaffa committee, along with Maria’s caretakers, among them Dalia Beker, a peace activist from Jerusalem, managed to bring a bit of joy to the little girl. Balloons decorated the garden located in Jaffa’s Ajami neighborhood and a band playing darbukas, a traditional small cup-shaped drum, accompanied Maria’s entrance to the garden.

Blockade-busting boats leave Gaza Strip for Cyprus
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
After five days on the Gaza Strip’s coastline, two boats carrying humanitarian aid in efforts to break an Israeli-imposed economic blockade on the Strip set sail for Cyprus on Thursday, carrying seven Palestinians who had been confined to the Strip. Israel’s navy made no effort to stop the vessels. Flying Palestinian flags, the boats carried dozens of activists away from Gaza’s Mediterranean coastline, following a five-day stay in the Hamas-ruled territory. The two small boats sailed into Gaza last Saturday to protest Israel’syearlong blockade on Gaza, imposed after Hamas gained control of the territory. Since then, Israel has allowed only minimalhumanitarian supplies to enter, causing severe shortages and hardships. Also, few Gazans are permitted to leave due to Israeli and Egyptian travel restrictions.

Free Gaza boats depart, transporting stranded Palestinians
Ma’an News Agency 8/28/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Two siege-breaking boatloads of international human rights advocates will leave the Gaza Strip on Thursday afternoon, bringing with them seven Palestinians who have been unable to leave due to the Israeli blockade. Among the Palestinians leaving is 10-year-old Saed Mosleh from Beit Hanoun who lost his leg due to Israeli shelling. Saed is leaving Gaza with his father to seek medical treatment. “I can’t believe we’re finally able to leave for medical treatment,” said Khaled Mosleh, Saed’s father. “This is a miracle of God. ”Also on board are the Darwish family, who will be reunited with their relatives in Cyprus. Nine international human rights advocates will remain in Gaza to do longer-term monitoring and accompaniment, and one, Dr. Bill Dienst of Omak, Washington, will attempt to cross into Israel later today via the Erez crossing.

Navy allows protest boats to leave Gaza
Yaakov Katz And Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 8/28/2008
Israel allowed two boats carrying international activists and seven Palestinians to leave Gaza on Thursday and sail without interruption back to Cyprus. Slideshow:The boats had been allowed to dock in Gaza harbor last Saturday after the government decided not to clash with the 45 human rights activists aboard and play into what officials said was a clear provocation intended to damage Israel’s public image. The Free Gaza Movement said that among the Palestinians who left Gaza were five children, including 10-year-old Saed Mosleh from Beit Hanoun, who the group said had lost one of his legs to an Israeli tank shell. He left Gaza with his father to seek medical treatment abroad. Also on board was the Darwish family, which will be reunited with its relatives in Cyprus. "I can’t believe we’re finally able to leave for medical treatment," said Khaled Mosleh, Saed’s father.

Free Gaza Movement: Free Gaza & Liberty to leave for Cyprus with Palestinians on-board
International Solidarity Movement 8/28/2008
International ActionsGaza Region For Immediate Release(GAZA CITY, 28 August 2008) - After having shattered the Israeli blockade of Gaza earlier this week, the Free Gaza and Liberty will depart Gaza for Cyprus at 2pm today. Several Palestinians who have previously been denied exit visas by Israel will join international human rights workers on the journey. Among the Palestinians leaving are Saed Mosleh, age 10, of Beit Hanoun, Gaza. Saed lost his leg due to an Israeli tank shell and is leaving Gaza with his father to seek medical treatment. Also on board are the Darwish family, who will finally be reunited with their relatives in Cyprus. "I can’t believe we’re finally able to leave for medical treatment," said Khaled Mosleh, Saed’s father. "This is a miracle of God. " Nine international human rights workers will remain in Gaza to do longer-term monitoring and accompaniment, and one, Dr.

Free Gaza boats leaving with Palestinians on board
Palestine News Network 8/28/2008
{mosimage PNN -- After successfully breaking the siege on Gaza via sea on Saturday, the Free Gaza boats were slated to leave at 2 pm instead of the previously slated morning departure. Although as of 2:30 they had not yet left. Seven Palestinians who have been previously been denied exit visas will be leaving with them. The Darwish family is seeking to be reunited with other family members, while the Mosleh father and son are going out for medical treatment. The expected students are not on board as they had no visas for Cyprus and as Angela Godfrey-Goldstein told PNN this afternoon, "No one wanted to turn them into refugees. "Jamal Khudari, the Chairman of the People to Confront the Siege on Gaza, confirmed that seven Palestinians are on the boats. He told PNN that they have Cypriot passports which the students did not.

Left-wing activists smuggle Palestinians out of Gaza
Roi Mandel and AP, YNetNews 8/28/2008
Activists who sailed to Gaza in hopes of ’breaking’ naval blockade set off back to Cyprus, taking seven Palestinians with them - The human rights activists who traveled to Gaza in an effort to defy the naval blockade on the Hamas-ruled coastal strip departed for Cyprus on Thursday afternoon. The activists say seven Palestinians, including five children, are also on board. It’s unclear if the IDF will attempt to stop the boats. The Palestinians on board included a father and his 16-year-old son, who hopes to be fitted with an artificial leg abroad. The activists earlier claimed they would also take with them Palestinian students who were denied exit from Gaza on security grounds. The activists assert Israel does not have the right to prevent the exit of Palestinians from the Strip.

Ynet: Israeli who sailed to Gaza released
Shmulik Hadad, International Solidarity Movement 8/28/2008
International Actions - Gaza Region - Prof Jeff Halper, the only Israeli on board two ships that attempted to break an Israeli naval blockade on Gaza last week, was released after being detained Tuesday by police - Photos - Professor Jeff Halper, the only Israeli citizen to participate in a sea-borne attempt to sail into Gaza on Saturday, was released on Wednesday after being detained by police on Tuesday. Minnesota-born Halper, an Anthropology lecturer from Ben Gurion University who also chairs the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions, was among dozens of international activists who sailed from Cyprus over the weekend in an attempt to break an Israeli naval blockade of the coastal enclave.

Israeli activist detained, then released, for taking part in ’Free Gaza’ boat action
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 8/28/2008
After being held overnight in Ashkelon Prison, Israeli peace activist Jeff Halper was released Wednesday. While the 44 international activists on the two ’Free Gaza’ boats were allowed by the Israeli military occupation to enter the Gaza Strip with humanitarian supplies, Halper, an Israeli citizen born in the US, was the only one detained. Israelis are forbidden by their government from having contact with Palestinians, who live in Israeli military-controlled enclaves in the West Bank and Gaza Strip behind Israeli-constructed Walls. Halper had attempted to cross a border between Israel and the Gaza Strip to return to his home in Jerusalem, after having entered Gaza by boat with 44 other activists. According to Halper, he was charged with ’being a nuisance’, and released on $500 bond. Halper told reporters that the soldiers who arrested him at the border crossing said that he was a. . .

Free Gaza boats will leave Gaza on Thursday morning
Press Release, Free Gaza movement, International Middle East Media Center News 8/28/2008
The Free Gaza boats will be departing the Gaza Strip on Thursday morning at 9 A. M carrying 12-14 Palestinians who were denied exit visas by the Israeli Authorities , others are students with valid visas or dual citizenships and were accepted un universities in Europe. One of departing is a Palestinian professor who teaches in Europe and was stuck in Gaza. - (GAZA CITY, 27 August 2008) - It was standing-room-only in Gaza City studios today as the Free Gaza Movement held a press conference to announce the departure of the Free Gaza and Liberty, and to reaffirm that 12-14 Palestinians who have previously been denied exit visas by Israel will be traveling to Cyprus on the two boats. Some of those leaving are students, with valid visas or dual citizenship, who have been accepted to universities abroad.

Livni ahead by 20 points in Kadima leadership polls
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/29/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has established a lead of more than 20 points over her closest rival ahead of next month’s Kadima party leadership election to replace Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, a poll published on Thursday found. In the poll of 400 registered members of Olmert’s centrist party, 48. 9 percent said they would vote for Livni if the leadership election were held today, compared with 27. 9 percent for hawkish former General Shaul Mofaz, the Maariv daily reported. Internal Security Minister Avi Dicther and Interior Minister Meir Shetrit trailed far behind with 8. 1 percent and 7. 6 percent respectively. The survey by the TNS/Teleseker Polling Institute indicated a strong increase in support for Livni, and suggested she could win outright in the first round. A candidate needs at least 40 percent of the vote to avoid going to a runoff vote against the second placed candidate.

Latest Knesset clash: Are ethics overrated?
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
Three senior members of a public committee that drafted an ethics code for the Knesset say they will boycott all future House Committee meetings convened to authorize such a code. The boycotters oppose the Knesset’s decision to reject their committee’s recommendation that an ethics adviser be appointed to the Knesset. They also cite a "disdainful attitude toward the members of the committee," known as the Zamir Committee. The boycotters - retired Supreme Court justice Yitzhak Zamir and professors Assa Kasher and Suzie Navot - sent a letter to the other members of the Zamir Committee and to MK David Tal (Kadima), who heads a separate committee reviewing the Zamir Committee’s recommendations. The boycotters said that "in light of the discussions and resolutions, the prospects of any real change in the ethical approach of Knesset members are nil.

Chief justice lambasts media for reducing public trust in judiciary
Tomer Zarhin, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish on Thursday lambasted the media for causing levels of public trust in the judiciary to plummet. "The establishment itself has never worked with such force against the positive image of the system [as it does today] - and is even supported in this by the media," Beinish said at a national judges conference in Jerusalem. The chief justice stressed the role of interested parties, "and not necessarily fans of the media," who are causing a drop in trust in the courts. Beinish said the court is a place "of great power that is not easy to contend with. The form of reporting and type of description [of it] are strongly related to trends in the media. ""I’ve endeavored to emphasize at different occasions that when there is skepticism toward the different establishments, the public wonders why. . .

IDF confiscates guns of Golani rebels who walked out of West Bank base
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 8/28/2008
The IDF said Thursday that it will take disciplinary action against 15 soldiers from the Golani Brigade who staged a mini-rebellion late Wednesday night and stormed out of their base in the West Bank. The soldiers said they were treated poorly by their commanders and were in some cases ordered to shower with their uniforms on. The soldiers, from Battalion 12, are currently stationed near the settlement of Itamar, southeast of Nablus. News of the rebellion came as Col. Avi Peled took up command of the Golani Brigade in a ceremony in the Northern Command. The soldiers left the base, boarded a bus and went home. Late at night, one of the company’s officers came to their homes and confiscated their weapons. The last major rebellion in Golani came in March 2007, when close to 100 soldiers from Battalion 51 walked out the front gate of the Tze’elim training base in. . .

Singing the blues
Amir Oren, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
Next month the Israel Police will inaugurate the use of Boash ("skunk") in their operations. According to the force’s spokesman, this is a new nonlethal weapon - a liquid "that releases a very unpleasant smell," which has proved to be effective in tests. When the substance is diffused it is absorbed into clothing and causes nausea and vomiting. "The natural ingredients in Boash evaporate after a number of hours, leaving no trace," says the spokesman. It seems the police have already used this wonderful substance on itself, in the recent round of appointments of majors general. Police Commissioner David Cohen has enabled Maj. Gen. Yohanan Danino, who is interested in becoming the next police chief, to end his tour of duty in the investigations and intelligence branch, and to assume the command of the Southern District.

Record yeshiva enrollment predicted to cost economy NIS 5 billion
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
The rate paid by the Education Ministry for every student is roughly NIS 720 per month, or NIS 8,640 annually. In the regular ultra-Orthodox yeshivas, in which most students are at the age that most Jewish Israelis are serving in the military, some 30,000 students were enrolled last year, a figure also expected to climb this year. The cost of funding study in those institutions is NIS 400 a month, or NIS 4,800 a year. Altogether, the number of students enrolled in yeshivas and kollels this year is expected to reach a record 95,000, compared with 88,000 last November, according to Amos Zaida of the Education Ministry. The yeshivas’ combined budget this year is NIS 685 million, but Zaida says this figure will have to be raised by NIS 60 million in order to meet the heightened demand.

IEC urges public to save energy to avoid power cuts
Sharon Wrobel, Jerusalem Post 8/28/2008
As the country endures yet another heat wave, the Israel Electric Corporation is calling on the public to minimize energy consumption in an effort to avoid the power outages that have plagued the country in recent years "We are working at full capacity and electricity reserves are very low in light of increasing demand for power during summer days, which are forecasted to heat up over the next few days," the IEC said on Wednesday. "Any technical problem at one of our power stations is likely to cause power disruptions. " In recent years, systemic failures and capacity and maintenance planning failures were the main reasons for the nationwide electricity blackouts during hot summers and cold winters. In expectation of a continued heat wave this week, the IEC is calling on consumers to minimize use of high-energy consumption appliances during peak hours to relieve the national grid and prevent blackouts.

New Palestinian media partnership
Palestine News Network 8/28/2008
PNN - The Palestine News Network, Network of United Radio Stations (NUR) and SADA TV Company signed a partnership agreement that includes a number of TV and Radio stations and news websites. It has been agreed that the coalition, to be called "United," comes as a result of extensive efforts over the last several months in order to unify efforts to enhance local journalism in the WestBank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip. The coalition aims to: 1- Develop journalism in Palestine2- Reinforce the role of the local media and its effect on Palestinian society 3- Provide needed elements of continuity of this coalition to serve its goals4- Develop existing journalistic skills and create jobs for new journalists 5- Enhance the quality of production and encouraging the exchange of programs6- Reinforce independent media to develop media visions that focus on local and. . .

Qatari-controlled company signs agreement to set up second Palestinian mobile phone network
Ma’an News Agency 8/28/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Wataniya Palestine Telecom announced on Thursday that it signed an agreement with Ericsson to set up a second Palestinian mobile phone network. The company, now controlled by Qatar Telecom – Qtel, hopes to launch cellular service in 2009. A few weeks earlier, Wataiya received a license from the Palestinian Ministry of Telecommunications, which allows the company to use specific radio frequencies. The license agreement helped the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority (PA) pay salaries for the month of August. Overall, Wataniya is expected over time to pay the PA more than $354 million in license fees, officials said. In announcing Thursday’s agreement, Wataniya CEO Allan Richardson pledged "to deliver a communications service that will meet Palestinian consumers’ expectations in both coverage and quality. ”

PA security forces seize 7,000 dollars in forged currency in Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 8/28/2008
Nablus – Ma’an Exclusive – Palestinian security forces seized 7,000 dollars in forged bills in the West Bank city of Nablus on Thursday. A high-ranking source in the Preventive Security Service told Ma’an that the service relieved a call from bank workers who suspected the currency of being fake. A local merchant had attempted to deposit the money in the bank. An investigation revealed that the exquisitely-forged banknotes had been paid to the Nablus merchant from an Israeli businessman. The bills were destroyed after security forces confirmed that they were fake. The source added that the security forces are looking into a permanent mechanism to prevent forged money from entering Palestinian areas.

Israel’s first solar power station up and running in Negev
Avi Bar-Eli, TheMarker Correspondent, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
Israel’s first solar power station is up and running. Moshe Tenne built the plant on his Negev farm for NIS 1. 3 million, and he estimates he will sell NIS 220,000 of electricity a year to the national power grid. The state incentives to produce solar power took effect on July 1; they allow home and industrial customers to install solar power panels and receive NIS 2. 01 per kilowatt hour for the electricity they produce  compared with the NIS 0. 50 per kilowatt hour they pay the Israel Electric Corporation. The new agreement is for photovoltaic cell array technology, and the power produced is intended for the producer’s use, while any extra power may be sold to the IEC. The state limits household power plants to 15 kilowatts, and business customers to 50 kilowatts. Tenne inaugurated his 50-kilowatt solar array this week.

Jobs data fall to 24-yr low
Moti Bassok, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
Unemployment fell to a 24-year low in the second quarter of 2008, says the Central Bureau of Statistics. The last time only 5. 9% of the civilian workforce was out of a job was in 1984. Finance Ministry director general Yarom Ariav counseled against sanguinity, however: The uncertainties in the marketplace remain intense, he warned. In the first quarter, unemployment had been running at 6. 1%, the bureau says, but about 9,000 people found work, reducing the number of jobless to 174,300. If the figures are analyzed by gender, we find that 5. 7% of men were unemployed, compared with 6. 2% of women in the second quarter. Compared with the figures for the previous quarter, the rate dropped more among women: In the first quarter, 5. 9% of men and 6. 9% of women had been unemployed. The highest rate of workforce participation is in central Israel, where 62.

Tel Aviv rail further delayed
Lior Baron, Globes Online 8/28/2008
The Ministry of Transport is delaying the restructuring of the light rail network. As the financial closing of the Tel Aviv Light Railway Project faces further delays, it has now emerged that the Ministry of Transport has failed to meet the commitments it made when the project was launched. Sources inform ’’Globes’’ that the Ministry of Transport and the NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System have not yet completed the draft proposal for the restructuring of public transport services in Tel Aviv. The project is designed initially to introduce the "Red Line" in the public transportation system so as to create synergy between the various public transport operators. The program was supposed to include, among other things, the deployment of feeder bus lines along the Red Line network adjacent to stations on the Light Railway route, where they would offer connecting journeys for passengers.

Daylight savings time in Gaza ends Friday, three days before the West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 8/28/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – For three days, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will be two different de facto time zones, a sign of the deepening administrative division between the rival Palestinian governments. Daylight savings time will end in the Gaza Strip on Friday night at midnight, the de facto government in the Strip has decided. Muhammad Al-Madhou, an official in the de facto government, announced on Thursday that Ismail Haniyeh, the de facto prime minister had made the decision. In the Fatah-controlled West Bank, daylight savings time will end three days later, on Monday 1 September, the first day of Ramadan, according to a decision issued by the Palestinian Authority earlier this week.

’Hizbullah tightens hold on Venezuela’
Jerusalem Post 8/28/2008
Agents of Hizbullah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard have deployed special forces in Venezuela intended to kidnap Jewish businessmen and smuggle them to Lebanon, Israel Radio reported Thursday. An expert on counter-terrorism warned in an interview with The Los Angeles Times that Iranian-backed agents have managed to recruit collaborators among Venezuelan citizens living in the capital Caracas. The collaborators are supposed to observe traffic at the Caracas airport and around it in order to collect information on Jewish travelers there. Hizbullah has strengthened its grasp of Venezuela following the warm relationship that grew between Venezuela and Iran. Experts quoted by the Times warned that Venezuela might become a base out of which Hizbullah could carry out terror attacks.

US security officials fear Hizbullah’s reach in Venezuela - report
The Daily Star, Daily Star 8/29/2008
ABEIRUT: Fears run high that Venezuela could become a base of operations for Hizbullah, the Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday. Western anti-terrorism officials say they are concerned Hizbullah may use Venezuela as a base of operations, according to the report. The daily quoted an unidentified United States government terrorism expert as saying that Hizbullah may try to take advantage of Venezuela’s ties with Iran to move "people and things" into the Americas. As part of his anti-American foreign policy, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has established warm diplomatic relations with Iran and has traveled there several times. The paper said the US administration, Israel and other governments worry that Venezuela is emerging as a base for anti-US militant groups and spy services, including Hizbullah and its Iranian allies.

Report: West fears Hezbollah setting up cells in Venezuela
Barak Ravid , Haaretz Service, and Agencies, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
The budding strategic partnership between Venezuela and Iran has prompted fears from Western governments that Hezbollah is establishing a growing number of operational cells in the South American country, the Los Angeles Times reported on its Web site on Thursday. The Lebanon-based Shi’ite organization is believed to be one of a number of anti-Western terrorist and non-state actors that have moved "people and things" into South America, an anti-terrorism expert told the Times. Officials in the Bush administration and Jerusalem have expressed concern that Hezbollah is taking advantage of the close relationship between its Iranian patrons and Venezuela’s anti-American president, Hugo Chavez, the LA Times said. Iran is long believed to have undertaken covert activity in South America in concert with Hezbollah.

Tehran exploits US-Russian tensions
Jim Lobe, Asia Times 8/29/2008
WASHINGTON - Iran could emerge as a big winner, at least in the short term, from the rapidly escalating tensions between the United States and Russia over Moscow’s intervention in Georgia, according to analysts here. Whatever waning chances remained of a US military attack on Iran before President George W Bush leaves office next January have all but vanished, given the still-uncertain outcome of the Georgia crisis, according to most of these observers. Similarly, the likelihood that Moscow will cooperate with US and European efforts to impose additional sanctions on Tehran through the UN Security Council, where Russia holds a veto, for not complying with the council’s demands to halt its uranium-enrichment program has been sharply reduced. Not only has Washington’s confrontation with its old superpower rival displaced Tehran at the top of the administration’s and US media foreign policy

Iran could reap benefits of US-Russian tensions
Inter Press Service, Daily Star 8/29/2008
WASHINGTON: Iran could emerge as a big winner, at least in the short term, from the rapidly escalating tensions between the US and Russia over Moscow’s intervention in Georgia, according to analysts here. Whatever waning chances remained of a US military attack on Iran before President George W. Bush leaves office next January have all but vanished, given the still-uncertain outcome of the Georgia crisis, according to most of these observers. Similarly, the likelihood that Moscow will cooperate with US and European efforts to impose additional sanctions on Tehran through the UN Security Council, where permanent member of the world body Russia holds a veto, for not complying with the Council’s demands to halt its uranium enrichment program has been sharply reduced. Not only has Washington’s confrontation with its old superpower rival displaced Tehran at the top of the administration’s. . .

Diplomat: Russia to up naval presence in Syrian ports
Reuters, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
DAMASCUS - The Russian navy will make more use of Syrian ports as part of increased military presence in the Mediterranean, a Russian diplomat said on Wednesday. The announcement comes as tensions rise between Moscow and the West over Russia’s role in Georgia. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad backed Russia’s recent offensive on Georgia in support of a separatist province during a visit to Russia last week. "Our Navy presence in the Mediterranean will increase," Igor Belyaev, the Russian charge d’affaires, told reporters in the Syrian capital. "Russian vessels will be visiting Syria and other friendly ports more frequently. The visits are continuing. "Russia relies on Syria’s Tartous port as a main stopping point in the Mediterranean, although ties between the two countries have cooled since the collapse of Communism, when Moscow supplied Syria with billions of dollars worth of arms.

Diplomat: Russia plans to raise navy presence in Syria
Reuters, YNetNews 8/28/2008
’Our Navy presence in the Mediterranean will increase; Russian vessels will be visiting Syria and other friendly ports more frequently,’ Russian charge d’affaires tells reporters in Damascus. Syrian diplomat: We do not want to jeopardize ongoing peace talks with Israel -The Russian navy will make more use of Syrian ports as part of increased military presence in the Mediterranean, a Russian charge d’affaires tells reporters in Damascus The announcement comes as tensions rise between Moscow and the West over Russia’s role in Georgia. Syrian President Bashar Assad backed Russia’s recent offensive on Georgia in support of a separatist province during a visit to Russia last week. "Our Navy presence in the Mediterranean will increase. Russian vessels will be visiting Syria and other friendly ports more frequently," Igor Belyaev, the Russian charge d’affaires, told reporters in the Syrian capital.

Lebanon seeking arrest of Gaddafi over missing Shi’ite leader
DPA, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
Lebanon has indicted Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi and is seeking his arrest for his alleged role in the disappearance of a Lebanese Shi’ite Muslim leader in 1978, according to Lebanese local radio Wednesday. Lebanese Shi’ite leaders have long accused Libya of kidnapping Imam Musa al-Sadr and two of his aides during a visit to the North African country. Libya has denied such a charge on several occasions. Lebanon’s public prosecutor said in August 2004 he would open the investigation after looking into new evidence. "We decided. . . to accuse Moamer Gaddafi. . . of inciting the kidnapping. . . of Imam Musa al-Sadr," radio stations quoted court documents. Sadr was the founder of the Shiite Amal Movement, from which the powerful Lebanese guerrilla movement Hezbollah later emerged.

Nigerian militants say Israeli hostage located
Reuters, YNetNews 8/28/2008
Militants withdraw offer to help rescue hostage until Israeli news outlet apologizes for branding them as ’terrorists’ - Nigerian militants said on Thursday they knew where an Israeli kidnapped by gunmen was being held but withdrew their offer to help rescue him, accusing an Israeli news outlet of branding them as "terrorists". Four gunmen abducted the 60-year-old project manager, who works for Israeli construction firm Gilmor Engineering Limited, from his home in the southern oil city of Port Harcourt late on Tuesday and fled by stealing his vehicle. " (The hostage) Mr Advi has been located and seems to be a diabetic patient," the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), the main militant group in Nigeria’s oil-producing south, said in an e-mail. " MEND will only plead with his captors to be humane but will not allow the security. . .

Nigerian group slams Arutz Sheva
Shelly Paz And Jpost.com Staff, Jerusalem Post 8/28/2008
The armed Nigerian group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), said Thursday it knew where a kidnapped Israeli businessman was being held. The militants stated they also knew the identity of the four men who snatched the Israeli from the driveway of his home in the Nigerian city of Port Harcourt on Tuesday night. However, the group stated it had decided not to mediate in efforts to release the man because the Right-wing Arutz Sehva Internet news site referred to the group as "terrorists. " The group reported it had approached Israel and suggested to mediate in the negotiations with the kidnappers, but that it is withdrawing the proposal. The group stated it would be willing to mediate in the release negotiations if the Israeli site published a formal apology. Later, Arutz Sheva removed the phrase "terrorists" from its description of MEND.

Israel Settlement Surge Draws Rice Criticism
Arshad Mohammed, MIFTAH 8/28/2008
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on Israel on Tuesday not to undermine peace talks with the Palestinians after a report found it had nearly doubled Jewish settlement construction. On her seventh visit this year in a long-shot push for a peace deal by January, Rice said the two sides were "somewhat closer" in their talks despite deep public skepticism about the chances of ending the six-decade conflict. Rice offered no further details, but said: "God willing, and with the goodwill of the parties and the tireless work of the parties, we have a good chance to succeed. " At a joint news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described the Bush administration as "determined" to reach a peace deal this year and said he hoped the next U. S. president would "continue what we have started".

Israel Group Reports Sharp Increases in Settlement Activity
Ethan Bronner, MIFTAH 8/28/2008
Peace Now, the Israeli advocacy group, said in a report released Tuesday that in the last year Israel has nearly doubled its settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, in violation of its obligations under an American-backed peace plan. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in Jerusalem on a short visit to help Israeli and Palestinian leaders in their negotiations, said when asked about the report that she has told Israeli officials that such building does not advance the cause of peace. “What we need now are steps that enhance confidence between the parties, and anything that undermines confidence between the parties ought to be avoided,” she told reporters with the Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, standing at her side. Ms. Livni said that settlement building should not influence the negotiations because the goal should be “not to let any kind of noises that relate to the situation on the ground these days enter the negotiation room. ”

Israeli settlers set fire to a construction workshop in Burin
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/28/2008
A group of Israeli settlers set a construction workshop on fire on Thursday morning in Burin village near the south of the West Bank city of Nablus. Eyewitnesses said the settlers from the nearby Brakha settlement, poured gasoline at the workshop equipments and set them on fire burning most of the tools and equipment. Later on, Fire Trucks arrived to the scene and put the fire down, and no casualties were reported. [end]

Palestinians: IDF detained pardoned Fatah member
Ali Waked, YNetNews 8/28/2008
Sources in West Bank say Al-Aqsa Brigades man previously taken off Israel’s most wanted list nabbed by soldiers in Nablus; Palestinian say Mahmoud Lubada did not resume terror activity -Palestinian sources said an IDF force operating in the West Bank town of Nablus during the early hours of Thursday morning apprehended Mahmoud Lubada, a member of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Brigades who was pardoned by Israel as part of the recent Amnesty deal with the Palestinian Authority. In the framework of the agreement some 270 West Bank gunmen began a three-month probation period. Those who refrained from engaging in terror activity during this time were subsequently removed from Israel’s most wanted list and allowed to move freely within Palestinian controlled Zone-A without fear of IDF arrest. However, Israel reserved the right to arrest any al-Aqsa members who resume their terror-related activities.

Israeli Arabs nabbed for planning attack
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 8/28/2008
Two Israelis were arrested by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) earlier this month for allegedly setting up an Islamic Jihad cell near Ramallah and planning to assassinate air force pilots and scientists, it was released for publication on Thursday. Slideshow:The men - both from the Western Galilee town of Shfaram - were identified as Anis Zfori, a 20-year-old student at Bir Zeit University north of Ramallah, and Husam Halili, a 19-year-old who studies in Jordan. The pair confessed to contacting Islamic Jihad’s headquarters in Syria and to raising funds to buy weapons. The cell members underwent training and planned a shooting attack on an IDF checkpoint near Ramallah as well as attacks against Palestinians suspected of cooperating with Israel. They had also begun planning the assassination of key Israeli figures such as IAF pilots, scientists and university lecturers.

Shin Bet chief: Hebrew Univ. rector slandered my agency
Amir Oren, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
The head of the Shin Bet security service, Yuval Diskin, is accusing Hebrew University rector, Professor Haim Rabinowitch, of de-legitimizing and slandering the agency more than two years after Rabinowitch ordered the cancellation of an academic degree program specially tailored for Shin Bet enlistees. In an August 4 letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Education Minister Yuli Tamir, Diskin accuses the Hebrew University rector of leaving Shin Bet agents with "a terrible feeling" following the controversial cancellation of the academic program. The Shin Bet offered recruited agents an opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science as part of a 16-month track. After Haaretz reported that a curriculum was jointly prepared by the university’s political science faculty and the Shin Bet’s education division, negative feedback from the. . .

2 Israeli Arabs arrested over suspected Jihad plot to kill pilots, scientists
Jack Khoury and Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
Two Israeli Arabs from Shfaram have been arrested on suspicion of belonging to Islamic Jihad and planning attacks that included assassinating Israeli pilots, scientists and university professors. The two, both university students, are also suspected of planning a shooting attack on an army checkpoint near Ramallah. The police and the Shin Bet security service believe that plan was relatively advanced. The assassination plans, in contrast, were still in their infancy. The two suspects are Anis Sappori, 20, who studies communications at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah, and Hussam Khalil, 19, who studies electrical engineering in Jordan. Three Palestinians, all members of Islamic Jihad, have also been arrested in the case. The cell was uncovered thanks to intelligence tips.

Israeli police arrests two Arab residents accused of ''security violations''
Saed Bannoura - MEMC & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 8/28/2008
The Israeli Police and the Internal Security Services announced that they arrested two Arab residents of Israel, residents of Shfa-Amr Arab town, and claimed that the two "conducted security violations". The two were arrested more than three weeks ago but a gag order on the case barred any leaking of information to the media. The two were identified as Anis Safoury and Husam Khalil. Te police claims that the two joined a cell which belongs to the Islamic Jihad in Ramallah, and that this cell was in an advanced stage of planning attacks against Israeli targets, including opening fire at a military roadblock. The Israeli Security Services also claimed that the two discussed the possibility of assassinating Israeli figures including pilots, scientists and university lecturers. The Israeli Security Services are also charging the two of illegal position of weapons, and training in order to attack a military roadblock.

Egypt officially declares Rafah crossing open for two days
Palestinian Information Center 8/28/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The interior ministry in the PA caretaker government in Gaza announced on Thursday that Egypt has agreed to open the Rafah crossing between it and Gaza for two days before the fasting month of Ramadan. The ministry said in a press release that Egypt would open the crossing on Saturday and Sunday for all Egyptians stranded in Gaza, who are carrying valid IDs or passports along with holders of Palestinian passports who have valid Egyptian residence permits. It added that on Saturday an announcement would be made on those to be allowed to travel on Sunday, stressing that no other category would be allowed to travel abroad via the Rafah crossing on Saturday and would not be allowed to reach the border terminal.

Egypt to open Rafah crossing for two days on occasion of Ramadan
Palestinian Information Center 8/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- An Egyptian media source has stated that Cairo will officially open the Rafah border crossing on next Saturday and Sunday before the Gaza citizens especially patients on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan. In a press statement to the Quds Press, Egyptian specialist in the Palestinian affairs Ibrahim Al-Darawi, said that the decision taken by Cairo to open the Rafah crossing is considered a humanitarian gesture and a step to absorb the Arab and Egyptian popular pressure on the Egyptian leadership especially during a distinctive religious month like Ramadan. In another context, Darawi revealed that the visit of the delegations of the popular and democratic fronts to Cairo, which had been scheduled on Wednesday, was postponed until next Sunday. He pointed out that the democratic front’s delegation will be headed by its secretary-general Nayef Hawatmeh and the popular front by its undersecretary-general Abdelrahim Mallouh.

Israel to reopen Gaza border crossings
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 8/27/2008
JERUSALEM, Aug 27, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) -- Israeli defense ministry said Wednesday evening that it will reopen the border crossings with the Gaza Strip Thursday, allowing goods to enter the Hamas-ruled enclave. The Jewish state shut down the gateways on Tuesday in response to two rockets fired from the coastal territory, which landed in Western Negev but caused no damage or casualties. Rocket attacks have become rare since an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire took effect on June 19, which calls on both sides to stop cross-border violence and requires Israel to ease its blockade on the strip. To the sporadic rocket attacks that have happened, Israel has been responding by temporarily closing its border crossings, halting the flow of supplies for the some 1. 4 million Palestinians living in the poverty-stricken coastal area.

’There’s no price for a soldier’s life’
Tovah Lazaroff, Herb Keinon, And Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 8/28/2008
On her son’s 22nd birthday Thursday, Aviva Schalit did not bake a cake or blow up balloons and place them in his room as she might have in years past. Gilad’s third birthday in captivityInstead she found herself talking to the crowd of supporters who gathered in the family’s hometown of Mitzpe Hila, in the Upper Galilee, to mark St. -Sgt. Gilad Schalit’s third birthday in captivity. There were no flowers to arrange and no presents to buy, she said. For Gilad, who is being held by Hamas in Gaza, it was just one more day spent in captivity, alone in the dark, in an airless room without a window. "I didn’t deliberate over what he would want or when to congratulate him," she said. RELATEDMiki Goldwasser: Push aside the primariesInstead she wrote down this plea: "I asked just one thing, ’Giladi, be strong, in the way that you know to be, and don’t break.

On Shalit’s 22nd birthday, gov’t blamed for not doing enough
Jack Khoury Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
Barak Ravid andMijal Grinberg On Gilad Shalit’s third birthday in captivity, Israel’s political leaders seem to agree: Only flexibility on the Palestinian prisoner list will achieve progress in releasing the soldier held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. But at a rally yesterday, Miki Goldwasser, mother of Ehud Goldwasser, one of two Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah in July 2006, said the leaders only care about their political survival. Miki Goldwasser, whose son Ehud and comrade Eldad Regev were killed by Hezbollah during their abduction, was speaking at a ceremony at a Gaza-Israel border crossing to mark Shalit’s 22nd birthday. She called on all mothers in Gaza with sons in Israeli jails to demand thatHamas secure their release as part of a swap for Shalit. "A mother does not send her son to die, she sends herself to die for her son," said Goldwasser.

Israel to ease conditions on prisoner release criterion
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 8/28/2008
After returning from Egypt following a Wednesday meeting with Egypt’s President, Hosny Mubarak, Israel’s Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, sad that Israel will ease the conditions it imposes on the criterion that determinism which detainees are eligible to be freed in return for releasing the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Egypt’s Intelligence Chief, Omar Suleiman, and Israel’s Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, also attended the meeting. The Israeli Ministerial Committee is expected to convene on Sunday to change the criteria which determines which detainees will be freed in the anticipated prisoner swap deal. The committee is headed by Haim Ramon and includes Avi Dichter, Ami Ayalon, Gideon Ezra and Daniel Firedman. The committee will present the Israeli cabinet with additional names of Palestinian detainees; this list includes 70 more detainees which Israel labels as detainees with blood on their hands.

Nepalese man sues US security firm for ’tricking’ him into working in Iraq
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/29/2008
WASHINGTON: A Nepalese man and relatives of 12 of his slain comrades filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday against the construction and services giant KBR on charges of human trafficking, for allegedly tricking the men into working in Iraq. The men, between the ages of 18 and 27, "were recruited in Nepal to work as kitchen staff in hotels and restaurants in Amman, Jordan," read a statement from Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, one of the law firms handling the case. However once they arrived in Jordan "they were not provided the expected employment. "Their passports were seized, and they were told they were being sent to Iraq "to provide menial labor" at the Al-Asad Air Base, the statement read. Twelve of the men were packed into a car and driven to Iraq, but on the road were stopped by insurgents with the Ansar al-Sunna Army, taken hostage and executed.

Sadr orders indefinite halt to militia operations
The Daily Star and Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/29/2008
NAJAF, Iraq: Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Thursday ordered a halt to armed operations by his 60,000-strong Mehdi Army militia, and ordered his followers to protest peacefully against the US occupation. "The Mehdi Army suspension will be valid indefinitely and anyone who does not follow this order will not be considered a member of this group," Sadr said in a statement issued by his office in the Shiite shrine city of Najaf. The militia, created after the 2003 US-led invasion to fight invading American troops, became the most active armed Shiite group in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, accused of operating death squads blamed for sectarian killings. The US military cautiously welcomed Sadr’s decision. "We welcome this announcement that appears to be an effort to support the Iraqi people," military spokesman Major John Hall told AFP.

’Most Americans may back strike on Iran’
Jerusalem Post 8/28/2008
Sixty-three percent of Americans say that if diplomacy fails to solve the Iranian nuclear crisis, they would approve of an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear sites, a new poll has found. The poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and commissioned by The Israel Project, also finds that 87% of US voters feel that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a threat to the US. Meanwhile, 80% of Americans said it was likely Iran would use nuclear weapons if it acquired them. The threat of Iran is apparently felt across the political spectrum, with 85% of Democrats and 97% of Republicans believing the Islamic Republic represents a serious threat to the US. However, 62% of those polled also felt that it was still possible to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Attorneys: Delay Talansky testimony
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 8/28/2008
Due to US investigation, Talansky not returning to Israel. Lawyers requested testimony be given at later date -Attorneys for Morris Talansky, the State’s key witness in corruption investigation againstPrime Minister Ehud Olmert, filed an appeal with the Jerusalem District Court on Thursday requesting a postpoment of their client’s testimony, which was scheduled to take place Sunday. In their appeal, lawyers Jacques Chen and Yehoshoua Reznick mentioned that they had met with both the state prosecutor and the Jerusalem district prosecutor and had asked them to find a way for Talansky to continue to testify, in light of an investigation currently underway against him in the US and his attorneys’ fears that his testimony in Israel would be used against him in the American investigation. The State Prosecutor’s Office had flled an update with the District. . .

Ehud Barak slept here
Raz Smolsky and Guy Liberman, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
Forty million shekels, that’s how much Ehud Barak wants for his apartment in Akirov Towers in Tel Aviv. That’s a hefty bundle above its market value. Can he and his wife Nili Priell really dare ask that much, even considering he apartment in question is an extraordinarily spacious one sporting, some 370 square meters of space and a glorious view of the city? No, says one realtor. "Prices like that don’t exist in Israel, certainly not now, with the prices of apartments in the high-rises declining," elaborates Ronny Manne, who has a line in brokering luxury flats. "A realistic price for a 350-square meter apartment in that residential tower is NIS 25 million, even if it’s a luxury one with bathroom faucets made of gold. "Another broker who’s sold a number of second-hand flats in the very same project agrees that Barak’s NIS 40 million asking price is completely over the top.

The Livni paradox
Ari Shavit, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
The election campaign in Kadima has improved somewhat. After an embarrassing start, four candidates began to be exposed, were forced to give an initial accounting of their past, and were even asked about their worldview. Apparently politicians, as well as image consultants and journalists, have all finally learned lessons from the resounding failure of the 2006 election campaign. The participants in the political game have understood that it is not only a game. They have internalized the fact that after everything we have experienced in the past two years, it is impossible once again to elect an Adler poster boy as prime minister. It is impossible to elect an unknown brand as prime minister. At the end of August we can state with satisfaction that a political process is being conducted in Kadima, a public discussion is taking place, and there is a. . .

Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory 21 Aug- 28 Aug 2008
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights - PCHR, ReliefWeb 8/28/2008
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied PalestinianTerritory(OPT) - 9 Palestinian civilians, including 5 children, and an Israeli human rights defender, were wounded by IOF gunfire in the West Bank. - The 9 civilians were all wounded when IOF used force against peaceful demonstrations organized in protest at the construction of the Annexation Wall in Ne’lin village, west of Ramallah. - IOF used a foul smelling liquid against the demonstrators. - IOF conducted 53 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. - IOF arrested 48 Palestinian civilians, including 5 children. - IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT and have isolated the GazaStrip from the outside world. - IOF troops positioned at various checkpoints in the West Bank arrested at least one Palestinian civilian.

OPT: Protection of civilians weekly report 20 - 26 Aug 2008
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - OCHA, ReliefWeb 8/26/2008
Military activities affecting civilians - The IDF injured eleven Palestinians in the West Bank this week, including four children. Among the children, two were injured in anti-Barrier demonstrations, and two during an IDF search and arrest campaign in Tammun village in the governorate of Tubas. All four children were shot with rubber coated metal bullets (see also Barrier Demonstrations). In the West Bank, 110 IDF search operations and 77 arrests/detentions of Palestinians were reported. On 25 August, the IDF conducted a search campaign in Misilya and Az Zababida villages of the Jenin governorate, forcibly entering agricultural storage rooms allegedly to find chemical fertilizers. In a separate search and arrest campaign, IDF soldiers placed the village of Dar Salah (Bethlehem) under curfew for eight hours, during which three Palestinians were arrested.

Palestine’s first classic car show
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/28/2008
Ramallah - Under the auspices of Dr. Mashhour Abu Daqqa, Minister of Transportation and Communications, the Palestinian classic car exhibition and contest is being described as "a great success. "The gathering, held in Ramallah on Saturday, was the first of its kind. The Ministry of Transportation, the Motor Sports Club and the Amateur Classic Car Club organized the event. Over 100 cars were part of the massive parade that drove through the city streets at noon. The convoy of cars was swarmed by crowds as it continued to the square at the Cultural Palace where the tomb of the late great poet Mahmoud Darwish rests. A variety of types and colors of cars, in all and different models, assembled in the exhibition of classic cars to tell the history of the issue of homeland and the people. The event also stressed a commitment to return legitimate rights and freedom to the Palestinian. . .

Peace campaigner Abie Nathan dies at 81
Globes correspondent, Globes Online 8/28/2008
President Shimon Peres: Abie dedicated his life to helping other people, and working for a better world. Veteran peace activist Abie Nathan died last night at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, 11 years after suffering a stroke that left him confined to a wheelchair. He was famous for the messages of peace he broadcast for 20 years on his pirate radio station, the "Voice of Peace. " President Shimon Peres paid tribute to Nathan. "Abie was a special and unique individual, a tireless campaigner against war, poverty and injustice. He dedicated his life to helping other people and working for a better world," said Peres. Nathan was born in 1927 in the town of Abadan in Iran. At the age of 12, his family moved to India, where he served in the RAF during World War Two. He joined the Israel Air Force as a volunteer when the War of Independence broke out, and served for three years.

Kids abandoning TV for Web - survey
Ophir Bar-Zohar, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
Television viewers are satisfied with the fare provided by Channels 2 and 10, according to a survey released by the Second Television and Radio Authority. However, more and more young people prefer their media entertainment over the Internet instead of television. Channel 2 is still the leading broadcaster as far as viewers are concerned, the study revealed, but Channel 10’s loyal watchers say the quality of the station’s material improved in 2007 compared with 2006. Viewers are also becoming addicted to Video on Demand, and the Yes satellite broadcaster’s yes max services. The survey also shows viewers think TV news is fair and balanced on politics, but are upset by what they see as a insulting attitude toward women on TV. However, viewers feel they are exposed to less harmful content than in previous years, though sexual content still. . .


Articles


Undermining faith
Khaled Amayreh, Al-Ahram Weekly 8/28/2008
      Israel continues to burrow beneath the foundations of the Aqsa Mosque in the heart of East Jerusalem, reports A network of tunnels beneath the Aqsa Mosque, dubbed by the Israeli media as "tourist sites", has already caused conspicuous cracks in superstructure of the Haram Al-Sharif esplanade which houses many historical sites, including the Dome of the Rock.
     "I have no doubt the Israeli government has the will and desire to destroy the Aqsa Mosque. They only want to do it in a way that would make the demolition look as if it was a result of natural causes," said Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, head of the Supreme Muslim Council which oversees the Jerusalem Sanctuary, considered the third holiest place in Islam. "Everything they do here shows they are hell-bent on destroying this Islamic shrine. It is time that Muslim peoples, Muslim governments and Muslim organisations across the world move to stop this blasphemy. Maybe tomorrow it will be too late."
     Palestinian and Muslim officials, including the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), have issued numerous warnings about Israeli excavations in the vicinity of and beneath the mosque, but to no avail.

''I still cannot farm my own land''

PCHR Report, Electronic Intifada 8/28/2008
      New Abasan village in South Eastern Gaza looks, and feels, almost haunted. Every third or fourth house is a mound of rubble, or else has been partially destroyed, and the village streets are dusty and devoid of life. Many local Palestinians have been driven out of New Abasan by relentless Israeli incursions into the village. The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) have bulldozed huge tracts of land in and around New Abasan, and demolished dozens of local houses.
     Beyond the village itself are hundred more dunams of rich agricultural farmland (a dunam is the equivalent of 1,000 square meters) lying near Gaza’s eastern border with Israel. Abu Jihad Shaheen is a local farmer who owns a farm about a kilometer outside New Abasan village near the border with Israel. Abu Jihad used to live on his farm with his family, but after years of Israeli invasions of his land, he was finally forced to leave when the IOF demolished his water well earlier this year. After he and his family left the farm the IOF destroyed their farmhouse.

Olmert curbs Palestinian rights

Mustafa Barghouti, Al-Ahram Weekly 8/28/2008
      Oslo has entered its final, tragic-comic stage. The onus now is to ensure Olmert’s planned dénouement does not become a reality.
     Anyone who followed the Annapolis talks won’t be surprised by the features of Olmert’s current project. It seeks to set in stone the two- pronged strategy Israel has been pursuing since Oslo: to divide and procrastinate final status issues until they are made redundant by time and de facto realities, and to invoke security as a pretext for refusing to abide by commitments. Any mention of security refers exclusively to Israel’s security, the idea being to formalise the peculiar principle that holds that those under occupation are responsible for ensuring the security of their occupiers.
     Olmert’s proposal is a shelf agreement. It could be put into effect immediately and would cost Israel nothing, not even a halt in settlement expansion. The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, would have to prove two things: that it is a capable proxy policeman for the occupation and that it can resume control of Gaza. Unless it can prove this, the shelf agreement will remain on the shelf and Israel will have killed two birds with one stone. It will have deferred core issues yet again, gaining time to build further settlements, and it will be able to cast the blame on the Palestinians for failing to live up to the agreement and realise the peace that the Israeli government claims it desires.

''We refuse to serve in the Israeli occupation''

Statement, Shministim 2008, Electronic Intifada 8/28/2008
      A group of high school graduates refusing their mandatory conscription into the Israeli army, objecting to Israel’s human rights violations in the territory it occupies, recently released a statement outlining their position. Three of those who signed have been arrested upon refusing to serve. Their statement follows:
     We, high school-graduate teens, declare that we shall work against the Israeli occupation and oppression policy in the occupied territories and the territories of Israel. Therefore we will refuse to take part of these actions, which are being done under our name as part of the IDF [Israeli army].
     Our refusal comes first and foremost as a protest of the separation, control, oppression and killing policy held by the state of Israel in the occupied territories, as we understand that this oppression, killing and routing of hatred will never lead us to peace, and they are all contradictory to the basic values a society that pretends to be democratic should have.

Current Concerns interview with Richard Falk

Palestine News Network 8/28/2008
      "Palestinians have been betrayed by the international community over the years" - Interview with Richard Falk*, UN Special Rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian territories
     On the occasion of the eighth session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the newly appointed Special Rapporteur on Palestine and Other Occupied Territories, addressed the council for the first time and gave his eagerly-awaited inaugural speech. In his explanations Falk referred to the report of his predecessor John Dugard (see below) who during the last four years had reported very frankly on the catastrophic conditions in the territories occupied by Israel and had now handed over the mandate to Richard Falk.
     Falk, who himself is a Jewish US citizen, had been attacked by Israel and the US prior to his election as a Special Rapporteur. However, he was given the mandate despite harsh resistance against his appointment.
     In his first speech to the Human Rights Council he assured that he would take great effort to improve the living conditions in the occupied territories and to end the conflict. At the same time he announced an extension of his mandate by saying that he would also investigate in the human rights violations of Palestinians towards Israel. In the ensuing discussion he made it clear that he was going to differentiate between the occupiers and the occupied; By no means must victims be made offenders.

On Cairo’s shoulders

Dina Ezzat, Al-Ahram Weekly 8/28/2008
      Israel is still counting on Egypt to deliver Shalit -- and in a way, the stability of Gaza, reports Mubarak and Barak during their meeting on TuesdayThe visit of Israeli Minister of Defence Ehud Barak to Alexandria on Tuesday for talks with President Hosni Mubarak at the Ras Al-Teen Palace was unusual for Israeli officials who are usually, in fact almost always, received in Sharm El-Sheikh. However, the agenda of the Mubarak-Barak talks was ordinary: the ongoing (more off than on) negotiations to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in return for the freedom of a few hundred Palestinian prisoners and the extension of a fragile truce between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
     In press statements following his talks with the president and with Defence Minister Hussein Tantawi and General Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman, Barak sounded uneasy about the prospects of an early end to the over two-year captivity of Shalit by an Islamist resistance Palestinian movement loyal to Hamas. The Israeli minister was courteous enough to his Egyptian hosts to avoid making untactful threats against Gaza or Hamas. However, he was not short on indirect warnings that the durability of the ceasefire with Hamas is in many ways dependant on achieving progress in the currently stalled negotiations to conclude the prisoner swap deal that Egypt has been mediating for over 18 months. "We want calm to be stabilised in and around Gaza and we hope it will not take very long before we see the release of Shalit," Barak said.

’Absolutely no breakthrough’

Khaled Amayreh in the West Bank, Amira Howeidy in Cairo, Al-Ahram Weekly 8/28/2008
      Cairo hosts yet another round of talks with Palestinian factions, the US secretary of state makes her 18th visit to the region and Israel releases 198 Palestinian prisoners. But is there any real progress on the ground?
     Cairo hosts yet another round of talks with Palestinian factions, the US secretary of state makes her 18th visit to the region and Israel releases 198 Palestinian prisoners. But is there any real progress on the ground?
     As Al-Ahram Weekly went to press on Wednesday bilateral talks between the Palestinian resistance movement Islamic Jihad and Egypt’s General Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman were winding up. What was revealed to the public about the closed meetings did little to suggest progress had been made in the complicated situation across Egypt’s northeastern borders.
     Mohamed El-Hindi, a Jihad leader in Gaza who attended the meetings, told the Weekly his organisation had accepted Egypt’s invitation to discuss the many "thorny" Palestinian issues even if no progress was made on any of them. "There are two Palestinian governments, one in Gaza, the other in the West Bank. Hundreds of Palestinians are rounded up on daily basis and there’s a vicious blockade on the Palestinians in Gaza. This is why we came to Cairo," he said.

Twilight Zone / Caught on camera

Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 8/28/2008
      This is Israeli justice in a nutshell: Lt. Col. Omri Burberg, the battalion commander suspected of giving an utterly illegal order to shoot a bound Palestinian, is wandering free and being considered for a senior training post in the Israel Defense Forces. Meanwhile, Jamal Amira, the father of Salam, the amateur camera operator who filmed the shooting, spent 26 days in an Israeli jail, until a military judge was so kind as to release him on bail last week.
     Although the claim that the IDF sought revenge is weak," wrote Lt. Col. Yoram Haniel, the military judge, "one cannot overlook the fact that out of all the protestors, only the complainant was arrested."
     Indeed, it can’t be overlooked. Jamal Amira was arrested just after after B’Tselem released the video, filmed by his daughter, of the horrible shooting of the bound Palestinian man. He says that when the Border Police officers arrested him, they called out to one another, "We caught Salam’s father." Amira, 53, a father of nine, has many Israeli friends, including a senior IDF reserves officer. Amir was thrown into Ofer Prison in what can only be interpreted as an act of revenge by those who presented themselves as "friends of Omri".

Ship of hope

Saleh Al-Naami, Al-Ahram Weekly 8/28/2008
      The waterborne show of international solidarity to break Israel’s blockade on Gaza succeeded, reports Palestinian waves a national flag as two boats filled with international peace activists arrive at the harbour in Gaza Khalil Barini refused to listen to the advice of his doctors and the pleas of his sons and daughters. He was determined to spend 36 hours on one of the many small boats that set out to greet the ship carrying 45 foreigners of various nationalities who are resolved to demonstrate their opposition to the over two-year long blockade on Gaza. The 72- year-old former fisherman who lives in Gaza City said that he was not going to let his ailing health stop him from performing what he regarded as his duty. "I’m very happy because, in the end, Israel had to bow to the will of the honourable people in the world and allow the ship to sail into Gaza. This is the first link in the collapse of the blockade," he said. "But at the same time I’m very bitter. While some foreigners are risking their lives in order to help break the blockade, others of our brother Arabs and Muslims are helping reinforce it."
     Asmahan Abul-Eish, 25, clutched her infant son as she embraced some of the foreign women on board.
     quot;I can’t begin to describe how much I respect the people who came to demonstrate their solidarity with us against the blockade," she told Al-Ahram Weekly. Abul- Eish echoed Barini’s, and many other Gazans’, resentment against neighbouring Arab countries. Egypt, in particular, faces criticism for refusing to reopen the Rafah border crossing in spite of the fact that more than 200 people in Gaza have died after being refused permission to travel abroad for medical treatment.