Israel/Palestine News and Information Links December 24-26 2003

Major portions of this document are sourced from from Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel - Other sources include Information Clearing House.

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December 26 2003

Sharon's pattern of provocation
By Scott Weinstein, Electronic Intifada 12/26/2003
   Christmas Day, 2003, Jenin, West Bank -- Night has fallen, and I am staring at mounds of rubble. This used to be a neighbourhood in the Jenin Refugee Camp. The Israeli army levelled the houses with people inside, in what is known here as the Jenin Massacre. The rubble mounds are pulverized so fine they appear to be crematory remains.

Cuban anger at US over Guantanamo
Al-Jazeera 12/26/2003
Cuba has charged the United States with running a concentration camp at the Guantanamo base on the eastern tip of the island.This is the Cuban government's first attack on the use of the facility to hold men Washington has seized in its "war on terror". "In the territory illegally occupied by the Guantanamo naval base, hundreds of foreign prisoners are subjected to indescribable abuses," said a statement passed by parliament earlier this week and broadcast by the state-run media in Havana on Friday.

Gov't will try to pass budget by end of year
Ha'aretz 12/26/2003
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed yesterday that the framework for the 2004 budget will not be increased and that the additional funds and changes demanded by the coalition MKs will not alter the size of the budget approved by the government in the summer. The government and the coalition will try to push the budget through the Knesset for approval by Wednesday, December 31 if Netanyahu manages to reach a deal with Shinui, the National Religious Party and the National Union to back the budget in meetings with them today.

Analysis / No such thing as a free hudna
Ha'aretz 12/26/2003
The relative hiatus in terrorist attacks in recent weeks was attributed by the Palestinians to a sort of unofficial hudna (cease-fire) between the sides. The Israelis said it resulted from the defense establishment's success in foiling such attacks. After yesterday's suicide bombing on Geha Road and the Israeli air strike in Gaza, the argument is no longer important. There is no hudna, period. Perhaps it is no coincidence that in both of these incidents, the name of two relatively small Palestinian organizations were mentioned. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was once a large left-wing Marxist group, which perpetrated the worst terrorist attacks in the 1970s. Today it is a small organization that fiercely opposes the peace process.

Israel general predicts ceasefire
BBC 12/26/2003
The Israeli army chief of staff has predicted a ceasefire with Palestinian militants could happen within weeks. Lieutenant-General Moshe Yaalon, said he believed violence between Israelis and Palestinians had reached its peak. His made his remarks in a newspaper interview conducted before attacks on both sides on Thursday.

Shinui: Likud got all the money
Jerusalem Post 12/26/2003
Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave the entire additional budget fund of NIS 1 billion to areas demanded by Likud ministers, and left "nothing" for Shinui, the second-largest member of the coalition, Shinui MK Ehud Rassabi said Thursday. Rassabi said Shinui "made it clear" that the faction could not support the budget in a meeting on Wednesday with Treasury budget director Ori Yogev on Wednesday. On Thursday, the Treasury made "no contact" with the Shinui party for talks, according to party leader Yosef Lapid's office.

Eyewitness Report From Rafah: 26 December
Rafah Today 12/26/2003
The number of homes that have been demolished is still not known up till now, but there are over 10 killed and 45 injured, most of whom were children and 4 women. The UNRWA clinic was also partially demolished. The children and the women who were injured this time were not injurd by Israeli bullets but from the dogs of the Israeli soldiers who let their predator dogs loose to attack people. This is our life... daily attacks with outrageous killing in all sorts of ways. We write and no one reads; we scream and no one hears; we are torn apart and no one sees our torn bodies; we get killed and no one feels for us.

 Eyewitness Report From Gaza: 26 December
Rafah Today 12/26/2003
New attack by Israeli Apaches. They struck one of the streets in Gaza City last night leaving 5 killed and over 25 injured. The attack came a few hours after killing 3 Palestinians in Khan Younes Refugee Camp. Israeli media as usual comforted its audience by announcing that the targeted people were from Islamic resistance and Islamic Jihad. Gaza Strip has become the worst place in the world. They burn the bodies of the people now. The killed and injured people arrive to Al Shifa hospital as just black bodies.

Israel seals West Bank and Gaza
BBC 12/26/2003
Israel has imposed a total closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip after a suicide bomber killed four Israelis. The blast, near Tel Aviv, was the first Palestinian suicide bombing in Israel for more than two months. Israeli defence and intelligence officials met on Friday to discuss a response. However no statement was expected from the meeting....After the latest suicide bombing, Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz ordered the borders sealed between Israel and the Palestinian territories - already under a tight blockade.

Audio: "The Israeli defence minister... has convened a meeting"
BBC 12/26/2003
The BBC's Simon Wilson: "The Israeli defence minister... has convened a meeting"

Thursday Escalation Threatens Truce and Dialogue Efforts
International Middle East Media Center 12/26/2003
Around 18:20 , on Thursday, Said Hanani, 18, from Beit Furik, near Nablus , detonated an explosive belt, warped around his body, at a bus stop under the Geha bridge on Jabotinsky Street , between Petah Tikva and Bnei Brak. The huge explosion, which reduced the bus stop to a skeletal frame, took the lives of four Israelis and wounded 15 others, 3 very seriously....In particular, the massive military operations inside Balata refugee camp, near Nablus , and Rafah refugee camp, south of the Gaza Strip, in which more than 15 residents were killed, opened the gate for further escalations.

A Very Special Relationship:
Johnson and his successors arrived at an agreement with Israel by which Israel announced that it would not be the "first" to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East. In return Israel received a flow of US conventional weapons that would enable it to defend itself without using nuclear weapons. This policy would later be described in Israel as one of "ambiguity" or "opacity."

Israeli Soldiers Kill Palestinian:
Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian man during a clash with stone throwers Saturday as the military pushed forward with a large-scale crackdown in this West Bank city, Palestinian witnesses and medical workers said.

Background / Would Israel ever give up the bomb?:
The US Congress concludes that Israel has 'undeclared offensive chemical warfare capabilities' and is 'generally reported as having an undeclared offensive biological warfare programme'. Bombs, missiles, delivery systems, gases, germs? Tel Aviv has the lot."

Letter Home from a Palestinian Nurse
By Linda Jaraiseh, Miftah 12/26/2003
   2003 saw the continued building by Israel of the controversial barrier in the West Bank. This is the letter from Linda Jaraiseh, a Palestinian nurse working in Bait Sahour, near Bethlehem: "Like many others, this year I found that the wall being built by the Israeli Government is going to change my life forever - and not in a good way.

Reducing the Palestinians
By Joseph Massad, Al-Ahram Weekly on-line 25 - 31 December 200
   The Palestinian people cannot be legislated out of existence -- One of the most important changes that the Oslo process brought about was the de facto transformation, indeed the ultimate corruption, of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, from a liberation movement representing the entire Palestinian people, into a vassal regime called the Palestinian Authority (PA), representing only one third of the Palestinian people. What is quite insidious in this process is how the PA, conscious of this transformation, continues to speak of the "Palestinian people", which had been reduced through the Oslo Accords to those West Bank and Gaza Palestinians it now represents. Diaspora Palestinians are simply referred to, in accordance with US and Israeli parlance, as "refugees", and Israeli Palestinians are referred to by Israeli diktat as "Israeli Arabs". In doing so, not only has the scope of the Palestinian leadership and its representative status of the whole Palestinian people (achieved in international fora in 1974 after a strenuous struggle) been substantially reduced, but the Palestinian people themselves were diminished demographically by the PA's appropriation of the designation "Palestinian people" to refer to a mere third of Palestinians.

Chutzpah: an avoidance strategy
By Azmi Bishara, Al-Ahram Weekly on-line 25 - 31 December 200
   From the soap opera trial of O J Simpson to Herzliya: Azmi Bishara traces the death of the liberal Jew -- When a liberal Harvard University law professor defended Orenthal James Simpson, commonly known as "OJ", on the grounds of "reasonable doubt," it must have reminded many of the line from Shakespeare's Henry VI (Part 2, IV, ii): "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

The year of the fall
By Yoel Marcus, Ha'aretz 12/26/2003
   Twenty-seven years after the first swing of the government to the right, it is not impossible that in 2004 the second power turnaround in the history of the country will begin. Even though the next elections are set for 2007, it is doubtful that the present coalition will last beyond next year. At a time of the total collapse of all the government systems and of values, when grandfathers and fathers are continuing to bury sons and grandsons, and terror is being called "the routine of terror attacks," 2004 is ripe for a turnaround. The year of the fall. Why now and not a year ago? Because our history teaches that the public's political digestive system is very slow. Its loyalty is greater than its urge to punish a failed government right away. Like they do in Brtain, for example. The Alignment (or Ma'arach, the precursor of the Labor Party) was reelected three months after the terrible blunder of the Yom Kippur War. It took 29 years, eight election campaigns, an accumulation of failures, thousands of dead in the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War, corruption in the top echelons of government and a public revolt for the voter to be ripe to punish the Alignment. Israel could not believe its ears when at one minute past 10 P.M., television newscaster Haim Yavin declared: "Gentlemen, an upheaval!" A late, but fatal punishment.

Democracy on the retreat
Editorial, Ha'aretz 12/26/2003
   Preliminary results from the "Democracy Index - 2003 Report" published in yesterday's Haaretz, reflect troubling erosion in the public's perception of democracy and of the necessity for it to exist. The study, sponsored by the Israel Democracy Institute and the Guttman Center, is based on surveys carried out during the past year, and on comparisons between these findings and ones compiled in previous years in Israel and in other countries. Its authors conclude that while a clear majority of Israelis favor democracy, the support for the democratic system in 2003 has plunged to the lowest level recorded during the past 20 years.

What Can We Do? Nothing
By Abdulwahab Badrakhan, Al-Hayat 12/26/2003
   Ariel Sharon is proceeding with his plan to carve up the Palestinian territories and turn them into besieged and isolated plots, while the Arabs aren't giving any signs that they're aware of the danger in what's happening. Uri Avnery's analysis of the 'mysteries' of Sharon's speech are enough to realize how arrogant the occupation has become. The issue becomes even clearer since the speech gained the American president's blessing, through his National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. George Bush used to repeat that he disagreed with the Israelis about the separation wall, and that he considered it a dangerous measure, but he nevertheless ended up fully approving it, with all its repercussions.

117 Palestinians killed, hundreds injured during media's "relative calm"
By Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada 12/26/2003
   On December 25, an Israeli assassination squad killed five Palestinians in Gaza, and injured fifteen. Three of the dead were civilians. A short time later, a Palestinian blew himself up at a bus stop in the Tel Aviv suburb of Petah Tikva, killing four Israelis, three of whom were confirmed by Ha'aretz to be soldiers.

Embattled Academic Tony Judt Defends Call for Binational State
Forward 12/26/2003
Tony Judt is a scholar who was until recently best known for his writings on European history. But then, in a 2,900-word essay in the October 23 edition of The New York Review of Books, Judt dropped the intellectual equivalent of a nuclear bomb on Zionism, calling for the dismantling of Israel as a Jewish state....In the first weeks after his essay was published, Judt and The New York Review received more than 1,000 letters, many peppered with terms like "antisemite" and "self-hating Jew," and some going so far as to threaten the scholar and his family. Judt was removed from the masthead of The New Republic, where he had been listed as a contributing editor, and condemned by the magazine's literary editor, Leon Wieseltier, and other pro-Israel commentators.

Sfeir Warns Lebanon May be Main Theater of 4th Mideast War
An Nahar 12/26/2003
Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir has warned in a Christmas message to the nation of a 'perilous disparity' in the system at a time Lebanon could be the main theater of combat should a 4th Middle East war break out. The head of the Maronite Catholic Church spoke of a lamentable state of affairs in Lebanon caused by a lack of job opportunities, rampant unemployment and grueling poverty, charging the regime that is plagued by power struggles from within has been committing enormous departures from democracy.

Barak makes lucrative splash in business
Ha'aretz 12/26/2003
Since going into business after losing the elections in February 2001, former prime minister Ehud Barak has earned an average monthly salary of $130,000. This wage places him among the highest salary earners in Israel. Using his earnings as collateral, he took a loan of $1.25 million to finance the construction of a villa in Kfar Shmaryahu; he pays back the loan in monthly installments of $50,000. Barak and his now-estranged wife Nava sold their house in Kochav Ya'ir and another apartment in Tel Aviv.

Palestinian researcher wins Sheikh Zayed international environment award
Palestinian Information Center 12/26/2003
Gaza - The Palestinian researcher, Dr. Jamal Safi, has won the Sheikh Zayed international award for environment in recognition of his research and surveys in his field of specialization. Sheikh Zayed's awards, which amount to half a million dollars, are distributed to five winners in various branches of knowledge. Dr. Safi said that winning the award coronated years of research work in the field of environment, agriculture and public health.

Treasury, Histadrut inch toward deal to end sanctions
Ha'aretz 12/26/2003
Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Histadrut labor federation chief Amir Peretz yesterday in Ramat Gan's Kfar Hamacabbiah hotel in yet another attempt to find a solution to the crisis over the treasury's proposed pension reforms and structural changes to government ministries. The two met as the Histadrut continued to threatened to step up labor sanctions by public sector workers which have closed government offices and ministries to the public for over two months.

Israel's next UK envoy 'buffed up' CV for appointments panel
Ha'aretz 12/26/2003
Zvi Hefetz, who is slated to be Israel's next ambassador to the London, presented the Hollander Commission – which earlier this week approved his appointment – with false information, by claiming that in 1989 he was a member of "a delegation of Israeli diplomats" sent to Moscow by Nativ, the formerly secret unit in the Prime Minister's Office that was in charge of cultivating ties with the Jews in the Communist Bloc.

Shas MK apologizes for calling AG 'worse than Hitler'
Ha'aretz 12/26/2003
Under fire from fellow legislators, senior Shas MK Yair Peretz Friday apologized for terming Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein worse than Adolf Hitler and Nazi Holocast mastermind Adolf Eichmann. Peretz made the remark Thursday, following calls by Rubinstein to have Peretz's parliamentary immunity lifted. Peretz, chairman of the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox party's Knesset faction, is suspected of a number of bribery and corruption offenses tied to allegations that he received an academic degree under false pretenses.

Arafat's succession battle looming
Al-Jazeera 12/26/2003
When Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat fainted in his bombed-out Ram Allah office a few months ago, reportedly because of severe flu, panic engulfed the entire Palestinian political establishment. Palestinian officials were conspicuously perplexed, not knowing how to deal with the unprecedented situation. Eventually, Arafat regained consciousness, allowing PA officials and operatives to breathe a sigh of relief....So, when his time comes, who will succeed Yasir Arafat? Very few Palestinians can give a clear answer to this question.

Veteran Bethlehem shopkeepers mourn muted Christmas
Ha'aretz 12/26/2003
A few dozen meters away from the path where the traditional Christmas Eve procession from Jerusalem to the Church of the Nativity passes, Louis Miguel sits in the souvenir store he runs with his father, Salah, in Bethlehem. "Tell the tour guides we miss them!" he calls out in Hebrew, referring to the guides who would bring in bus loads of tourists who would crowd into the store up until the start of the second intifada in September 2000.

Mauritania defends normalization with Israel
Arabic News 12/26/2003
Mauritania's foreign minister Muhammad Val Weld Bilal has defended his country's relations with Israel. He said in a press conference in Doha that Nouakchott's relations with Tel Aviv do not contradict with the interests of the Palestinian people.

Israeli Sends Signal to Iran Over Airwaves – In Persian
Forward 12/26/2003
When Israel's defense minister chatted on-air with radio listeners last week about the possibility of a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, he did more than just send a warning to the leaders in Tehran. He also shed light on one of the strangest media phenomena in the Middle East: the Farsi-language program of Israel Radio, and its popular following in the Islamic Republic of Iran.


News Briefs: Israeli transporation minister: "Transfer is the..solution!"
International Middle East Media Center 12/26/2003
Lieberman : "Arabs are our problem in Israel; "The transfer is the suitable solution!" -- The Israeli minister of transportation Avigdor Lieberman repeated his statements which call for a total separation between Jews and Arabs inside the state of Israel and the Palestinian territories, declaring that the best solution which he sees is transferring the Arabs from Israel.... / Troops invade Nablus and demolish the house of the of the person who carried out yesterday's suicide bombing.... / 12/25/03: 4 Palestinians killed in Gaza after the military air stroke a car. / Siege continues on Balata near Nablus for the sixth day / Troops killed a Palestinian claimed to be carrying a bomb / Troops kill a 6 years old child near Nablus , yet deny respectful burial... 12/24/03: Qureia cancels a meeting with Sharon's Chief of Staff in protest to Military raid on Gaza...

Demographics Drive Likud's Shifting Agenda
Forward 12/26/2003
WASHINGTON – Driving the Likud's metamorphosis from "Greater Israel" dogmatism to separation pragmatism are not constraints of geography but of demography. "Above all hovers the cloud of demographics," Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Israeli columnist Nahum Barnea of Yediot Aharonot last week, explaining his dramatic decision to come out in favor of unilateral Israeli withdrawal from most of the territories. "It will come down on us not in the end of days, but in just another few years," Olmert said, explaining that if Israel does not disengage from the West Bank and Gaza, the growth rate of Arabs in the territories and inside Israel – which is much higher than that of Jews – will sooner rather than later force Israel to choose between being a Jewish state and being a democratic one.

Sharon's ex-PR man weighs job with radical Romanian candidate
Ha'aretz 12/26/2003
The Foreign Ministry is trying to stop media adviser Eyal Arad from working for the leader of an extreme right-wing party who hopes to be elected president of Romania. Arad, a private businessman who advised Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the last elections, was asked to be a consultant to Vadim Tudor, head of the Great Romania Party, in his campaign leading up to presidential elections next September. Official ministry sources accused Tudor of anti-Semitic positions and said he was trying to legitimize himself and his party by using Arad's services.

Background / Would Israel ever give up the bomb?
Ha'aretz 12/26/2003
What would it take for Israel to give up the weapons of mass destruction it has never, in fact, acknowledged, except in knowing half-smiles? This week, setting off a debate that proved tempestuous even by the Knesset's grand-opera standards, a senior ultra-Orthodox deputy was heard to say "The state of Israel should dismantle its nuclear weaponry like Libya is doing, and Israel will have to depend on Ha-shem [literally "the Name," signifying the Almighty]." The comment set off fireworks for a number of reasons....

Israeli General Says Quick Cease-Fire with Palestinians Possible
Palestine Chronicle 12/26/2003
JERUSALEM (VOA) - The head of Israel's Army, General Moshe Ya'alon, predicted in an interview Friday that it will be possible to reach a cease-fire with Palestinians within weeks. At the same time, he called on the government to do more to improve living conditions for the Palestinians. General Ya'alon says that while the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will persist for years to come, he believes the worst is over. He says that what he called the 'peak of the Palestinian violent struggle' has been reached.

Hamas Calls Off Attacks Inside Israel
Atlanta Journal-Constitution 12/26/2003
JERUSALEM (AP)--Hamas, the Islamic group responsible for most suicide bombings during three years of violence, has called off attacks inside Israel, and a full ceasefire could come in a matter of weeks, Israel's military chief said in comments published Friday. In response, Israel will hold off targeting Hamas leaders but will still go after other Palestinian militants in retaliation for a suicide bombing this week, security sources said.

Israel Promises Retaliation for Bombing
The Guardian 12/26/2003
JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel will target and kill Palestinian militants in retaliation for a suicide bombing that killed four Israelis, senior security sources said Friday. Leaders of Hamas, however, will be exempt from such strikes because the group has halted its attacks, the sources said. Thursday's suicide bombing came minutes after an Israeli air strike in Gaza killed three Islamic Jihad militants and two civilians. The violence came after a relatively calm period [in Israel - Ed.] and threatened tentative steps to renew peace talks.,1280,-3552910,00.html

UN Security Council to weigh WMD ban in Middle East
Ha'aretz 12/26/2003
UNITED NATIONS - The UN Security Council, at the request of Arab nations, will meet on Monday to discuss a Syrian draft resolution calling for the Middle East to rid itself of all nuclear, biological and chemical arms. Arab diplomats said they sought the meeting after the council earlier this week issued a statement welcoming Libya's announcement that it was voluntarily abandoning its programs for developing weapons of mass destruction. But they said the draft was clearly aimed at Israel, widely believed to be the only country in the Middle East to have nuclear weapons though it has never officially acknowledged possessing them.

U.S. Officials Supporting Sharon Speech
Forward 12/26/2003
WASHINGTON – Despite an initial White House rebuke and continuing State Department objections, Bush administration officials are now voicing support for a major policy address delivered last week by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The Israeli leader appeared to throw U.S. officials a curve December 18 in a speech at the Herzliya security conference, when he both promised to dismantle settlements and threatened to take unilateral steps if the Palestinians do not fulfill their security commitments under the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan. The long-awaited address drew immediate criticisms from White House spokesman Scott McClellan, but within hours the administration launched a campaign of praise for Sharon, culminating with an endorsement from President Bush.

Israel seeks to avoid Middle East disarmament fest
Ha'aretz 12/26/2003
The American effort to neutralize security threats gradually in the Mideast has recently produced some marked improvements in Israel's strategic environment. Iraq has been conquered, Iran was forced to expand international supervision of its nuclear facilities, Libya promised to dismantle its nonconventional weapons, and Jerusalem believes that Syria will be next in line. The Arab world, led by Egypt, has responded with the expected demand that Israel also join the regional disarmament fest. The equally predictable response from Israel stressed its lack of faith in its enemies' promises, and insisted that the danger has not yet passed.

Palestine Red Crescent Society Appeal
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies 12/26/2003
....The situation in the Palestinian Autonomous and Occupied Territories (Palestinian AT/OT) remains highly tense and unstable with as yet no peace on the horizon. The latest peace initiative, the so called "Road Map" which was launched in 2003 seems to be currently stalled. Over the last three years of the Palestinian uprising, known as the intifada (or Al-Aqsa uprising), daily violence has become a way of life for almost the entire Palestinian population of 3,298,9513.

Protest camp in Deir Balut village, Salfit district
Electronic Intifada 12/26/2003
A protest camp in Dir-Balut village is a joint Palestinian, Israeli, and international action against the Apartheid Wall. The protest camp was created on Friday the 19th, and will stay there till next Friday, January 2nd. The camp is located in the yard of the newly built primary school of the village of Dir Balut. The works on the new school were stoped by the occupation authorities, as the building stands on the path of the Wall, and is now due to destruction.

Report: Large number of IDF troops operating in Nablus area
Ha'aretz 12/26/2003
A large number of Israel Defense Forces troops Friday evening were carrying out operations against the terror infrastructure in the area of the West Bank city of Nablus, Channel Two television reported. The army has clamped a full curfew on the city, and two batallions of paratroopers were performing searches in the Balata refugee camp, the report said.In the morning, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz met with senior IDF, Shin Bet, and police officials to weigh Israel's response to the suicide bombing that killed four Israelis at a bus stop east of Tel Aviv during the Thursday evening rush hour. The forum decided that the full closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip would remain in force, although the Palestinian towns and cities themselves would not be under curfew.

Israeli Troops Fire on Peace Activists
International Solidarity Movement 12/26/2003
Israeli and International activists coordinated today with Palestinians in the town of Mas-Ha in a direct action against the Israeli Apartheid Wall. Participants in the action included Israeli Anarchists, independent peace activists, the International Womens Peace Service, the International Solidarity Movement, local Palestinian activists, and communityrepresentatives.... Within a minute of the beginning of the action, IDF forces took up positions and began firing live ammunition in the general direction of the nonviolent protestors.

Israeli Assassination Attack in Gaza Kills 5 Palestinians and Injures 15
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 12/26/2003
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights condemns in the strongest possible terms the crime perpetrated by Israeli occupation forces yesterday evening, 25 December 2003, when Israeli helicopter gunships fired 2 missiles at a civilian car in northern Gaza city.5 Palestinians were killed in the attack and 15 others were injured.This new crime is part of a longstanding policy of extrajudicial killings (assassinations) perpetrated by the Israeli occupying forces against the indigenous Palestinian leadership and civilian population.Three of the victims in yesterday's attack were civilian bystanders.

IDF to probe shooting of two peace activists in West Bank
Ha'aretz 12/26/2003
Major General Moshe Kaplinsky, head of the GOC Central Command, on Friday appointed a colonel to investigate an incident earlier in the day in which Israel Defense Force soldiers shot and wounded two people during a demonstration against the West Bank separation fence. An Israeli citizen, named as Gil Na'amati from Kibbutz Nirim, sustained serious wounds, while a foreign tourist was lightly hurt. The incident occurred close to the Palestinian village of Mahase, east of Rosh Ha'ayin, where around 100 members of the Anarchist Movement against the Wall and the International Solidarity Movement were protesting against the construction of the security fence.

Tel Aviv suicide bomb kills three after helicopter strike on Gaza
The Independent 12/26/2003
There was no Christmas truce in the Holy Land yesterday. A Palestinian suicide bomber killed at least three Israelis and wounded 15 at a crowded Tel-Aviv bus stop yesterday afternoon, just hours after an Israeli helicopter strike in Gaza City killed a local Islamic Jihad commander and four others. At least 12 other Gaza Palestinians were wounded, some seriously.

IAF kills five in Gaza assassination
Ha'aretz 12/26/2003
Five Palestinians were killed in an Israel Defense Forces missile strike in Gaza City yesterday. The target of the assassination, Makled Hamid, head of the Islamic Jihad's military wing in the Gaza Strip, was among the victims, sources in Gaza said. The other Palestinians killed in the attack included two Islamic Jihad members and two civilians, one of them 16 years old. A little before 6 P.M. Israeli helicopter gunships fired at least two missiles in Gaza's Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, an Islamic militant stronghold. They struck a Subaru in which Hamid was driving with two other activists, believed to be bodyguards. The car exploded and the three were killed instantly. Ashraf Radwan, 16, and Wa'al Waqran, 25, who were standing near the car, were also killed and 15 other civilians were injured, one of them critically.

Israeli troops fire on wall protesters
Al-Jazeera 12/26/2003
An Israeli pacifist and an American woman protesting against the apartheid wall on the West Bank have wounded after Israeli troops opened fire. Some 400 Palestinians and 150 foreign activists, including Israeli pacifists, took part in the protest on Friday in the village of Masha, southeast of the northern West Bank town of Qalqiliya....The Israeli pacifist, named as Gil Naamati, was seriously wounded and had to undergo an operation, a hospital spokesman said. The American woman, who was not identified, was lightly hurt.

Four killed, 20 hurt in Geha bombing
Ha'aretz 12/26/2003
Four people were killed and 20 wounded in a suicide bombing at the Geha Junction between Petah Tikva and Bnei Brak yesterday....Of the injured, one was in serious condition and four were in moderate condition. The others were lightly injured, with many members of this group suffering only from shock. The injured were evacuated to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer and Sharon Medical Center in Petah Tikva. The attack was the first successful suicide bombing since the one at Maxim's restaurant in Haifa on October 4, which killed 21 people. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was to avenge the Israel Defense Forces' killing of Fadi Hanani, a senior member of that organization, in a gun fight in Nablus about 10 days ago.

Israel invades Nablus following blast
Al-Jazeera 12/26/2003
Israeli occupation forces have launched an invasion into the West Bank city of Nablus, Aljazeera's correspondent has reported. Coming from different directions, a huge numbers of Israeli tanks entered the city on early Friday, added the correspondent. A Palestinian youngster was injured by Israeli fire during the invasion in Beit Forik village, east Nablus. The forces have also demolished the house of Said Hanani, the human bomber of the Tel Aviv blast on Thursday, and launched search operations in the city. Israeli forces have also carried out arrest operations in the Old city and al-Ein refugee camp, near Nablus.

Qassam Brigades fire at Zionist army jeep
Palestinian Information Center 12/26/2003
Gaza - The Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas Movement, declared responsibility for hitting a Zionist army jeep to the north of the so-called Kfar Darum settlement in the Gaza Strip on Thursday. The Qassam communiqué said that two Mujahideen fired RPGs and machineguns at the jeep that was directly hit in the attack to the east of Deir Al-Balah city in central Gaza Strip.

Drawing a line Sydney Morning Herald December 2003
Map and graphic of Israel's "separation barrier"

Evangelicals a new lifeline for Israelis:
"We love you!" Sharon told the gathering. In a march through the streets of Jerusalem, they returned the affection, waving signs such as "Oklahoma Loves Israel" and shouting "Hallelujah to the God of Israel!

Israel troops fire on peace rally:
The incident took place when about 100 protesters demonstrated near the Palestinian village of Mahase against the barrier Israel is constructing.

Israel: Three Soldiers And One Civilian Killed In Bomb Blast:
Killed in the attack were Corporals Angelina Shcherov and Rotem Weinberger, both 19 of Kfar Sava, Staff Sergeant Noam Leibovitch, 21 from Elkana, and Adva Fisher, 19, of Kfar Sava. The four will be laid to rest on Friday afternoon.

Israeli firm bans sex for foreign workers:
An Israeli company has required thousands of Chinese workers to sign a contract promising not to have sex with Israelis or try to convert them, a police spokesman said Tuesday.

'Three killed' in Tel Aviv blast:
The blast occurred shortly after Israeli helicopters killed at least five people and injured seven in an attack on Gaza City.

Israeli Helicopters Kill 2 in Gaza-Witnesses:
Israeli helicopter gunships fired two missiles at a car in Gaza City on Thursday, killing two people and wounding several others, witnesses and medics said.

December 25 2003

Unhappy to be Home for the Holidays
By Molly Moore, Miftah 12/25/2003
   Four years ago, Christmas shoppers waited in line to enter the Giacaman family's shop and buy their coveted olive-wood Nativity carvings, family members recall.

   Last year, the shop had so few visitors that the Giacamans locked up early on Christmas day and ate their first Christmas dinner at home in decades. For a family that has been carving and selling Bethlehem's famous olive-wood figurines for four generations, it was no cause for celebration.

Sharon must be stopped
By Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Arabic Media Internet Network 12/25/2003
   Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared that if the Palestinians did not soon take significant steps to curb "violence", he would begin a unilateral "separation plan" to disengage entirely from any negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

Evangelicals a new lifeline for Israelis
Islamic Association for Palestine/Atlanta Journal-Constitution 12/25/2003
Herzliya, Israel --- As they say in the preaching business, Pat Robertson had them in the palm of his hand. No matter that his audience wasn't predominantly Christian, let alone American. They drank up every word. And when the founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network wrapped up his give-no-ground speech to the elite of Israel's political and military establishment with the ringing declaration "Be strong! Be strong!" many of his listeners jumped to their feet to give him a boisterous round of applause.

Handshake heard 'round the region'
Al-Ahram Weekly on-line 25 - 31 December 200
A widely publicised handshake between President Hosni Mubarak and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammed Khatami, earlier this month took many by surprise and highlighted relations between the two Middle Eastern countries. Khatami and Mubarak met briefly -- for the first time since 1979 -- outside a UN technology summit in Geneva earlier this month. Although reportedly no specific issues were discussed, the meeting was described as a step forward in bringing the two countries together.

Egypt Islamists' sentencing put off
Al-Jazeera 12/25/2003
Maher incident may have caused the postponement -- An Egyptian security court has postponed sentencing in the trial of 23 Egyptians and three Britons accused of plotting to oust Arab governments. Britons Reza Pankhurst, Ian Malcolm Nisbett, and Maajid Nawaz, and 23 Egyptians, have been on trial since October last year. They stand accused of belonging to and trying to reactivate the banned Islamic Liberation Party, and aiming to overthrow governments in the region...."The delayed verdict following the attack on Ahmed Maher worries us, notably because it coincides with the arrests in the past 48 hours of 80 people accused of belonging to the Liberation Party," said defence lawyer Montasser al-Zayat.

Libya Seen Reluctant to Exchange Ambassadors with Lebanon
An Nahar 12/25/2003
Libya, which is basking in U.S. grace after strongman Moammar Gadhafi scrapped the nation's plans to amass an arsenal of mass destruction weapons, is showing reluctance to reestablishing diplomatic relations with Lebanon at an ambassadorial level, An Nahar reported on Tuesday. The Beirut daily said the Lebanese government sent the name of diplomat Khaled Kilani to Libyan authorities as a potential ambassador of Lebanon to the North African Arab nation several weeks ago, but there is still no approving or disapproving response from Gadhafi's regime.

Israel bans American beef liver in mad cow scare
Ha'aretz 12/25/2003
The Agriculture Ministry yesterday banned beef liver imports from the United States, following the discovery of a case of mad cow disease at a farm in Washington state. Dr. Oded Nir, head of the ministry veterinary service, announced the ban.

Report finds 40% of kids are poor, delinquent; only 30% are `happy'
Ha'aretz 12/25/2003
Nearly half of Israel's children (40 percent) live in poverty, squalor and delinquency and another 30 percent could slip into a similar fate. Only 30 percent could be said to have a "happy" childhood, Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, director of the National Council for the Child, said yesterday. The council's statistical yearbook paints a grim picture of childhood and youth in Israel, showing an increase over recent years in the number of poor children, children addicted to drugs and alcohol, and victims of violence and abuse.

Israeli Muslims protest French head scarf ban
Ha'aretz 12/25/2003
Cries in French of "No to oppression," "no to tyranny," and "Allah Akhbar" (in Arabic, "God is great") were heard yesterday in the heart of Tel Aviv. Dozens of women activists from the southern faction of the Islamic Movement were demonstrating at the French Embassy against the proposed law to ban head scarves.

The Roman Catholic 'Latin' Church in Jerusalem
Jerusalem Times 12/25/2003
The Catholic Church in the Holy Land belongs to seven Catholic Patriarchates: Roman Catholics; Greek Catholics or Melkites; Syrian Catholics; Maronites; Armenian Catholics; and the Roman Catholics, known in the Holy Land as Latins and Greek Catholics. The Latins are the largest group in the city of Jerusalem, with around 5,000 members. [If unable to access this page, go to: - then enter or paste this address: - Ed.]

Immigration To Israel Severely Down In 2003
Islam Online 12/25/2003
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, December 25 ( & News Agencies) - A pack of factors - topped by the Palestinian Intifada and a suffocating economic crisis - has led to a historic dwindling of Jewish immigration to Israel in 2003, according to figures released by the Jewish Agency. Total immigration rates have decreased by 31%, compared to the rates of 2002, according to Israeli sources concerned with immigration file, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP) Wednesday, December 25.

Berlin puts Israeli subs on hold
Ha'aretz 12/25/2003
Germany has suspended talks on supplying the Israeli Navy with two additional Dolphin submarines, citing budget constraints. Israeli sources say the political leadership in Berlin had already approved Israel's request to finance construction of the two submarines. However, the financial situation in Germany led to a cut in the defense budget, which has put the Israeli submarine deal on hold.

Study finds Israelis' support for democracy plummets
Ha'aretz 12/25/2003
Support for democracy among Israeli Jews has reached its lowest point in 20 years, with only 77 percent of them saying it is the best system, compared to 90 percent over most of the last 20 years, say the authors of a report on the subject. A particularly sharp decline in support for democracy - 13 percent - has appeared in the past four years.

Economy in brief: Palestinian stone and marble in the Gulf, Jordan exempts OPT products from customs
Jerusalem Times 12/25/2003
Stone and marble industry to establish distribution channels in the UAE / Jordan says all Palestinians imports will be exempt from customs / Switzerland supports PCBS with $1.05 million / Japan contributes $6 million to Palestinians [If unable to access this page, go to: - then enter or paste this address: - Ed.]

Globes survey: 2.1% growth; Tel Aviv 25 above 500 in 2004
Globes 12/25/2003
"Globes" survey of TASE traders: The shekel will depreciate to NIS 4.70/$ by year-end 2004. -- Respondents in a "Globes" survey predict 2.1% growth in 2004. The survey covered over 100 Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) traders. The respondents' consensus also predicts that Israel will have the proper inflation rate of under 2% next year. The range of predictions was 3.5% to minus 0.8%, although very few traders believe there will be a second consecutive year of deflation.

UNRWA needs $193 million for emergency relief in 2004
Jerusalem Times 12/25/2003
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the largest humanitarian agency in the region, launched December 12 an emergency appeal to the international community asking for $193 million to relieve some of the suffering in the occupied territories in 2004. An UNRWA press release said "three years of curfews, closures and conflict in the West Bank and Gaza have plunged two-thirds of the population into dire poverty, increased hunger and restricted access to health and education." [If unable to access this page, go to: - then enter or paste this address: - Ed.]

Israel's Amos 2 launch from Baikonur on Saturday
Globes 12/25/2003
Spacecom Satellite Communications CEO David Pollak: 70% of the satellite's resources has already been marketed.-- Israel's Amos 2 communications satellite is scheduled to be launched from Russia's Cosmodrome Baikonur in Kazakhstan on Saturday night. Russian launch company Starsem has completed launch preparations, at a cost of $35 million. See also: Another giant step: Will Israel's Amos 2 satellite finally take off as (re)scheduled? Globes, 12/18/03

Knesset votes to dismantle Religious Affairs Ministry
Ha'aretz 12/25/2003
The Religious Affairs Ministry is set to become no more. Following a great deal of hustle and bustle, coupled with intense behind-the-scenes lobbying, the Knesset yesterday approved the first readings of bills that will dismantle the ministry - a central tenet in the coalition agreement between Likud and Shinui....the NRP ministers, who had threatened to quit the coalition over the issue, voted in favor of all three bills after reaching a compromise with Shinui. Deputy Minister Yitzhak Levy, however, left the plenum during the vote, and Likud MK David Levy voted against the Dayanim Law.

Analysis / Eradicating corruption, or merely dispersing it?
Ha'aretz 12/25/2003
As things stand now, only a miracle will prevent the dismantling of the Religious Affairs Ministry - the ministry that was established as a symbol of the Jewish character of the State of Israel, and turned into a symbol of corruption and defilement. Perhaps the real miracle is the Knesset's decision, contrary to all the laws of nature of Israeli politics.

A national strategy for the child
Jerusalem Times 12/25/2003
Officials from the Palestinian National Authority and others concerned with children called for taking immediate action to meet the psychological and social needs of children and demanded a national strategy to tend to Palestinian children. The calls were made at a press conference held by the National Secretariat for Children and the Save the Children Foundation at the Palestinian Media Center in Al-Bireh to announce the results of a study about the psychological and social conditions of children. The study was conducted last year by the two organizations and funded by USAID. [If unable to access this page, go to: - then enter or paste this address: - Ed.]

PM mulls cabinet vote on evacuating outposts
Ha'aretz 12/25/2003
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is examining ways of facilitating the evacuation of illegal outposts in the West Bank. Sharon met Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz yesterday and discussed the possibility of undertaking a cabinet decision to evacuate the outposts rather than proceeding through the prolonged track of demolition orders for illegal structures. Mofaz suggested using a previous cabinet's decision that authorizes the prime minister and defense minister to declare a certain area as "legally cleared to be evacuated" and to order the commanding general to evacuate it.

Netanyahu withdraws 2004 budget bills
Globes 12/25/2003
Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu made the dramatic move last night. Finance Committee chairman: Withdrawal is not official. -- Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu last night withdrew the 2004 state budget bills from the Knesset agenda. Ministry of Finance budget director Uri Yogev said the budget would probably not be approved before January 1. Netanyahu made the announcement after consulting last night with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Rachlevsky threatens to prosecute David Klein
Al-Jazeera 12/25/2003
Ministry of Finance director wages Yuval Rachlevsky has opened disciplinary proceedings against Governor of the Bank of Israel David Klein and the Bank of Israel workers committee for alleged violations of the Foundations of the Budget Law (1985). In a letter sent last month, Rachlevsky ordered Klein and the workers committee to respond within 30 days. The letter reveals one of Bank of Israel's most carefully-guarded secrets, kept hidden for years: the list of benefits paid to the central bank's employees from the state coffers in apparent violation of the law.

PLO delegation visits Egypt to mend relations
Jerusalem Times 12/25/2003
A high-ranking Palestinian delegation arrived in Cairo Tuesday on a fence-mending mission after an embarrassing assault on Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Maher atAl-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Palestinian delegation is made of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) political bureau chief Farouq Qaddoumi, Rafiq el Natsheh, Parliament Speaker, Foreign Affairs Minister Nabil Shaath and President Yasser Arafat's national security advisor, Jibril Rajoub. [If unable to access this page, go to: then enter or paste this address: - Ed.]

Syria, Egypt say Israel must give up its nuclear weapons
Ha'aretz 12/25/2003
SHARM EL-SHEIKH - The Syrian and Egyptian presidents yesterday called on Israel to emulate Libya and give up nuclear weapons, saying the Middle East should be free of weapons of mass destruction - but Syria repeated it wanted to resume peace talks with Israel. A senior Egyptian official told reporters after the Syrian-Egyptian summit meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh that Syria wanted peace talks to build on the progress made in negotiations which broke down in 2000.

Palestinians scrap meeting over Israeli raid
Al-Jazeera 12/25/2003
Palestinians have postponed talks with Israel aimed at bringing about a Middle East peace summit after Israeli forces killed nine people in a raid on the Rafah refugee camp, in the Gaza strip. "The meeting has been put off in protest at Israel's killing of Palestinians in Rafah," a senior Palestinian source said, referring to southern Gaza camp stormed by the army on Tuesday in what it called a swoop on gunrunner tunnels. The raids have also left 42 people injured, including nine children.

Upcoming actions in Palestine
International Solidarity Movement 12/25/2003
ISM supports and encourages participation in the following activities: Deir Ballut Camp, Friday, December 19, 2003- January 2, 2004 / Abu Dis Celebration of Resistance, Thursday-Saturday January 1-3, 2004 / National Day for the city of Qalqiliya and more activities in December GIPP, The Committee Against the Wall and the Union of Palestinian Women, 24 - 31st of December, 2003...

Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories 18-24 December 2003
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 12/25/2003
17 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including a child and an old man, were killed by Israeli forces /9 of the victims were killed during an Israeli military incursion into Rafah refugee camp / Israeli forces conducted a series of incursions into the West Bank and Gaza Strip / 46 houses and an apartment building in Rafah refugee camp were destroyed and more than 800 Palestinians have become homeless / More areas of agricultural land were razed / Houses were raided and a number of Palestinians were arrested / Construction of the "separation wall" in the West Bank has continued / Indiscriminate shelling of Palestinian residential areas continued and a number of Palestinian civilians were injured / Israeli occupying forces have continued to impose a total siege on the OPTs / A number of Palestinian civilians were injured or arrested by Israeli soldiers at military checkpoints and 2 newly-born twins died at an Israeli military checkpoint

Waiting to See the Sun: Female Prisoners of Nablus in "Al Ramlah" Israeli Prison Cells - Part II
International Press Center 12/25/2003
As the numbers of the Palestinian female political prisoners inside Israeli jails grow each day, the International Press Center continues to shed the light on the Palestinian female prisoners' plight inside Israeli jails, starting from the Nablus governorate, which has 19 of its female citizens imprisoned. The prisoner Ra'eda Jadallah, born on October 14, 1981 in Nablus, finished high school and completed a course in cosmetics. She was arrested by the Israeli occupying forces on April 19, 2003 from her parents' house with her brother and fiancé. They were both released but she was kept in prison.

Women Behind Bars
Jerusalem Times 12/25/2003
At the moment Um Adel Abu Khousa, 65, from Jebalia Camp, heard the news about a deal between the Lebanese Hizbullah and Israel to exchange prisoners, under German mediation, she became glad that her daughter, Iman, is soon to be released from jail....The prisoners Maha Ukk from Bethlehem and Sona Raii from Kalkilya suffer psychological disorders due to the torture and maltreatment they were subjected to during interrogation. Abeer Omar from Hebron and Amal Mahmoud from the Golan suffer backaches. The prisoners Amneh Muna suffers from an ulcer and backache and Ilham Mughrabi from Askar camp suffers from cancer. Manal Ghannam gave birth to her child two months ago with chains in her hands. [If unable to access this page, go to: then enter or paste this address: - Ed.]

Palestinian Prisoners ill Treated by IOF in Hadareem and Ofer Israeli-Controlled Prisons
International Press Center 12/25/2003
Palestine, December25,2003 (IPC) --- In a letter sent to the Palestinian Prisoners' Club signed by 64 Palestinian prisoners jailed in Hadareem Israeli-controlled prison, they pointed out that they are leading miserable living conditions. For example, they are totally cut off from the outside world, daily inspected, denied papers and [pens], denied physical contact with their relatives, as the Israeli Authorities installed glass barrier between the Palestinian prisoners and their visitors who are ill treated as well while waiting. Let aside, the 400 NIS [approx. $91US - Ed.] the Palestinian prisoners are fined in case they violate the regulations of the prison.

Bushnaq family sues Zionist intelligence
Palestinian Information Center 12/25/2003
Jenin - Family of the Palestinian detainee Husam Bushnaq, living in the village of Rummane to the west of Jenin, has filed a lawsuit against Zionist intelligence for injuries inflicted on Husam during his violent interrogation rounds over the past two months. Husam suffered a broken nose and several other injuries as a result of the Zionist intelligence the Shabak’s brutal torture.

Nablus faces human catastrophe, says Governor
Jerusalem Times 12/25/2003
Governor of Nablus, Mahmoud El Aloul, said Saturday the city is facing a human catastrophe as the result of the Israeli aggression, warning of a grave consequences if Israeli measures was not lifted . Israel has kept Nablus, in the north of the West Bank, under tight siege and prevented Palestinian movement in or out of the city since the beginning of the uprising "Intifada" three years ago....The Governor refuted the Israeli claims saying "during the last few months, the Palestinians have adopted a ceasefire position to calm things down.""However, Israel refuses to respond positively to this initiative and keeps provoking us," he added. [If unable to access this page, go to: then enter or paste this address: - Ed.]

Raid on disabled persons' association
Jerusalem Times 12/25/2003
The Palestinian Al-Amal (Hope) Association for Rehabilitating of the disabled person in Yebanh refugee camp in Rafah was recently forced to evacuate their premises and move to another location after the Israeli occupation forces incursion into the camp in which it vandalized and seized the premises for a long period of time that later was used as military barracks and out-post to kill and terrorize the local innocent Palestinian residents.... Despite that we contacted different American and European Associations that have good ties with Israel to pressure Israel to evacuate the premises, but on the contrary the Israeli military did not leave the area and inflicted more damage to the building and furniture, even were there are signs of disabled persons were visible in every location. [If unable to access this page, go to: then enter or paste this address: - Ed.]

Two Palestinians Killed, One in Car Explosion as IOF Redeploys Around Rafah Leaving Massive Havoc
International Press Center 12/25/2003
NABLUS, Palestine, December 25, 2003 (IPC + Agencies)-- Two Palestinian citizens were killed, one of them yesterday night in a mysterious car explosion, while Israeli occupying forces redeployed around the battered city of Rafah, leaving behind massive destruction and hundreds of dispossessed families.....Meanwhile in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian security sources and eyewitnesses said that a Palestinian was killed by the Israeli occupying forces near the illegitimate Jewish settlement of "Ganei Tal", north of the city of Khan Younis....In the battered city of Rafah, Palestinian security sources asserted that the Israeli occupying forces have redeployed around the city, after a day of carnage and massive havoc, especially in the Yebna refugee camp. In a recent statistic published by Rafah governorate, 56 houses were destroyed by the occupying forces in this invasion alone, 33 of which were completely flattened with the ground.

Occupation forces destroy 140 buildings in Rafah
Palestinian Information Center 12/25/2003
Rafah - Zionist occupations forces yesterday retreated from the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah after inflicting heavy casualties and losses in lines of Palestinian civilians and their property. The terrorist troops killed nine Palestinians and wounded 39 others in addition to destroying scores of civilian houses without allowing owners to evacuate the furniture or other belongings. The Palestinian Mizan human rights center has said that the demolished houses in this incursion had numbered 105 houses in Rafah including 45 that were completely flattened while the 114 families, numbering 642 individuals, inhabiting those houses were rendered homeless.

Violent clashes in Kufr Malek village
Palestinian Information Center 12/25/2003
Ramallah - Violent confrontations took place in the village of Kufr Malek to the east of the West Bank city of Ramallah last night when four Zionist army jeeps stormed into the city firing indiscriminately at all directions. Local sources said that the occupation force unexpectedly stormed into the village at 8 pm yesterday and started firing live bullets and sound bombs.

Occupation authorities arrest son of Marwan Barguthi
Palestinian Information Center 12/25/2003
Ramallah - Zionist occupation forces last night arrested son of Marwan Al-Barguthi, Fatah Movement leader in the West Bank, at the Karame crossing while returning home from a Jordan visit. Zionist military sources said that security men at the crossing arrested the 16 years old Qassem Marwan Barguthi on his way back home to Ramallah from a visit to Amman.

IDF destroys massive Rafah weapons smuggling tunnel
Ha'aretz 12/25/2003
The Israel Defense Forces blew up an 800-meter tunnel yesterday morning between the Rafah refugee camp and Egypt, at the conclusion of an operation in the Gaza Strip. Nine Palestinians were killed during the operation, most of them allegedly armed activists, and 40 were wounded. The 15-meter-deep tunnel, which started under a house in Rafah that was also blown up by the IDF, was used to smuggle a large quantity of weapons and wanted men, the army believes.

Israel Hastens Building of Apartheid Wall to Create De Facto Facts Ahead of ICJ Hearing
International Press Center 12/25/2003
GAZA, Palestine, December 25, 2003 (IPC + Agencies)-- The Israeli government started racing against time by greatly accelerating the construction of the Apartheid wall (also widely known as the separation barrier), ahead of the hearing session of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legality of the Apartheid Wall, built by Israel around and through the West Bank. The principle judicial body of the United Nations, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has decided to open hearings on the legal consequences of Israel's construction of the Apartheid wall in the occupied Palestinian territories on February 24th, 2004.

December 24 2003

Christianity in the Holy Land
By Floyd J. McKay, International Press Center 12/24/2003
   If there were a Christian pilgrimage tradition in the mode of Islam's hajj, Christians would descend in huge crowds today on Bethlehem and the birthplace of Christ.

Chalabi aide slams Jordan for ''harboring Saddam loyalists, oil smuggling''
Al-Bawaba 12/24/2003
A spokesman for the Iraqi National Congress of Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi has attacked Jordan, accusing it of sheltering ousted leader Saddam Hussein cronies, smuggling oil and meddling in Iraq's domestic affairs. Jordan is sheltering "Saddam Hussein's daughters, the son of (former deputy prime minister) Tareq Aziz and several figures associated with the old regime," Entifadh Qanbar told reporters on Tuesday.

Ben Affleck: Americans ignore Mideast issues
Middle East Online 12/24/2003
Hollywood actor Ben Affleck, on a Christmas visit to US sailors in Bahrain, confessed to a fascination with the Middle East and berated Americans for their ignorance of the issues. "I've always been drawn to the Middle East as an area of study because it always seems sort of mysterious and exotic," he said after cheering the troops on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise off Bahrain on Tuesday...."Most people in the United States don't even know the difference between Persians and Arabs. I mean they are really in a fundamental lack of understanding ... They don't know what is the nature of the disagreement over Palestine, people don't understand that."

Nader Rules Out Green Party Run
Palestine Chronicle 12/24/2003
WASHINGTON (AP) - Ralph Nader's decision against running as the Green Party's presidential candidate has upset some party officials who thought he would be the likely nominee, but not Dave Cobb. Cobb, the party's general counsel and candidate for president, welcomes the open field. "I am finding myself in the position of being the clear front-runner in the party," said Cobb, a California attorney. But Nader, who carried the Green Party banner in 2000, hasn't ruled out an independent bid for president.

Israel's Threat to World Peace
By James J. David, Miftah 12/24/2003
   It seems that the entire world is praising American and British diplomacy for its efforts in convincing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in announcing that Libya would cease work on its programs to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. This is quite an accomplishment, considering that Libya has been listed for more than 17years by the U.S. State Department as one of the major countries supporting state terrorism.

Semantics of Empire
By M. Shahid Alam, Dissident Voice 12/24/2003
   We might glean a few insights about the semantics of the global order – and the reality it tries to mask – from the way in which the United States has framed the moral case against Saddam.

Adalah Petitions Supreme Court to Cancel Discriminatory Governmental Decision Designating National Priority Areas
Adalah 12/24/2003
On 22 December 2003, Adalah filed a petition to the Supreme Court of Israel in its own name and on behalf of the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens in Israel and the Follow-up Committee on Arab Education against the Prime Minister. The petitioners' seek the cancellation of a 1998 governmental decision, which divides the country into national priority areas in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner, without legislative authorization or clear objective criteria. While this governmental decision classified 553 towns and villages as national priority "A" and thus eligible to receive a host of lucrative educational benefits, for example, only four small Arab villages were included.

Iranian DM delivers strong warning to Israel
Al-Bawaba 12/24/2003
Iran's Minister of Defense and the Armed Forces Logistics rear admiral Ali Shamkhani said on Wednesday said that Iran would give strong response if Israel ventures to attack Iranian nuclear installations. Asked whether Iran will use Shahab-3 long range missile if Israel ventures to attack Iran, the defense minister said that Shahab-3 is "one" of the weapons, IRIB website reported. "We will strike Israel with all weapons at our disposal, if the Zionist regime ventures to do so." "Israel is a 'fragile glass garrison'. The Zionist leaders are cherishing the dream of a rule over the globe," he said.

Israelis detain Barghouti's son
BBC 12/25/2003
Israel has confirmed it is holding the eldest son of jailed Palestinian political leader Marwan Barghouti. Qassam, 19, was stopped on Wednesday as he entered the West Bank from Jordan. In a separate incident, the Israeli army said it had foiled an attempted Palestinian militant attack in Gaza by shooting a man dead....Qassam Barghouti - whose father is on trial in Israel, accused of involvement in the deaths of 26 Israelis - is reportedly being held in the Ofer prison, near Ramallah.

Bethlehem Celebrates Christmas, Rafah Counts the Dead
By Kristen Ess, CounterPunch 12/24/2003
   Christmas Eve Day, 2003 Rafah to Bethlehem, Occupied Palestine -- Israeli occupation forces left the center of Rafah, although as is normal the Israelis remain at the border they have created. The Wall the Israelis are building with armoured machines is overshadowed only by its many sniper posts. Israeli soldiers remain daily to shoot and shell into the homes at whatever is the latest point in the "border." The line changes as the Israelis demolish more houses, turning what once was the center of the city into the border.

65 manned roadblocks, 58 trenches, 95 concrete barriers, 464 mounds of earth
By Akiva Eldar, Palestine Media Center/Ha'aretz 12/24/2003
   Measures aimed at "easing restriction on movement of persons and goods" are mentioned in the first stage of the road map, a stage that was originally slated to end by May 2003. But the road map is one thing, and the roadblock map is another.

O Little Town of Bethlehem!
By Francis Boyle, CounterPunch 12/24/2003
   It was December of 1991 and I was serving as Legal Advisor to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations in Washington DC. The Israelis were stalling, not even negotiating in bad faith, and the Americans were doing nothing to get the negotiations underway. This had been going on for three weeks and Christmas was fast approaching.

In Santa Outfit, Hamas Members Mark Christmas
Islam Online 12/24/2003
GAZA CITY, December 24 ( – A group of Islamic resistance movement Hamas in Bethlehem put on the famous red and white fur Santa hats and Santa suits, dropping gifts on Christian orphans, in a token of love and religious tolerance where the Christian tradition has it Jesus was born on December 25.

M. Qattan Foundation announces 2004 programme
Electronic Intifada 12/24/2003
Despite the continuing deterioration of life in Palestine in the last three years, the A. M. Qattan Foundation's Culture and Science Programme enters its fifth year with a number of substantial achievements. As well as continuing to support a number of young artists and creators to reach new stages in their development, the programme has initiated a number of modules for 2004. When the programme was launched in 2000, it included fifteen prizes and grants with a value of $70,500. In 2003, the number of awards and prizes exceeded 30 and reached a total value of $147,500, an increase of 109 percent, despite the obstacles and disruptions affecting all sectors of life under occupation.

1st Ramallah Film Festival announces call for submissions
Electronic Intifada 12/24/2003
The 1st Ramallah International Film Festival (Spring 2004) is glad to invite all Palestinian filmmakers to participate in the RIFF and submit their films to the "Palestinian Silver Screen" section of the festival. "Palestinian Silver Screen" is a competitive section of the RIFF which will be dedicated solely to Palestinian cinema. It is aimed at creating an annual platform for Palestinian cinema and international exposure to the selected films and their makers.

Bitter Christmas in Bethlehem: Siege, High Unemployment and Empty Streets
International Press Center 12/24/2003
BETHLEHEM, Palestine, December 24, 2003 (IPC+Agencies)-- Gloomy clouds cover the Bethlehem skies this Christmas, as the Israeli occupying forces (IOF) continue to besiege the cradle of Jesus Christ and practice inhumane measures on the city and its inhabitants, a thing that unfold disappointment and despair, vanishing a dream of a new happy year. Mr. Hanna Nasser, the mayor of Bethlehem, said that tourism has always been the city's number one source of income, and with the IOF incursions and closures over the entire Bethlehem governorate, the unemployment rate has shot up to 60% of the city's working force.

PNA, Annan Strongly Condemn IOF Carnage in Rafah
International Press Center 12/24/2003
GAZA, December 24, 2003 (IPC + Agencies)-- The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) decried the Israeli ongoing military onslaught on the city of Rafah in al Qassas area, Yebna and block (O) that claimed the lives of ten Palestinians, and left 40 others wounded and causing gross damages to a number of citizens houses....Internationally, the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan strongly condemned yesterday the latest military incursion and carnage in the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza, which left at least eight Palestinians, many of them civilians, dead.

EU Peace Envoy Meets Ministers, Asserts Refusal of Apartheid Wall Construction
International Press Center 12/24/2003
RAMALLAH, Palestine, December 24, 2003 (IPC + Agencies)-- The European Union peace envoy to the Middle East, Mark Otte, asserted during a meeting with the Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Nabil Sha'th and chief negotiator, Dr. Sa'eb Erakat, that the EU considers the Israeli Apartheid Wall a violation to international law and an attempt to predetermine the outcomes of the final-solution talks.

Israel Claims Egyptian Drones Detected Over Dimona
Islam Online 12/24/2003
CAIRO, December 24 ( – An Israeli daily claimed Wednesday, December 24, that Egyptian spy drones had been detected over Israel's nuclear reactor Dimona, while Egyptian military experts regarded the piece as part of a series of baseless incessant Israeli provocations.

Chinese workers in Israel sign no-sex contract
The Guardian 12/24/2003
Chinese workers at a company in Israel have been forced to agree not to have sex with or marry Israelis as a condition of getting a job. According to a contact they are required to sign, male workers may not have any contact with Israeli women - including prostitutes, a police spokesman, Rafi Yaffe, said. He said there was nothing illegal about the requirement and that no investigation had been opened....The labourers are also forbidden from engaging in any religious or political activity. The contract states that offenders will be sent back to China at their own expense.,2763,1112442,00.html

View from a Palestine Red Crescent ambulance
By Scott Weinstein, Jerusalemites 12/24/2003
December 23, 2003 - Jerusalem:The Fourth Geneva Convention stipulates that an occupying power must provide for the health and well being of the people under occupation, and not interfere with their medical services or needs. Dec. 18 2003, 8:15 am: We start out from the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) HQ (Red Cross in Palestine) ( ) in Al Bireh (next to Ramallah) for a pick up and transfer of patients south of the Qalandya Israeli army check point. Our ambulance, donated by the Norwegian Red Cross, is well equipped for most emergencies. The ambulances are clearly recognizable as such.I am riding with two Emergency Medical Technicians, Emad and Mohamed. They dress in bright red uniforms with large Red Crescent patches and reflective tape.15 minutes later, we are blocked at the Qalandya checkpoint traffic jam. Even on a good day, the checkpoint creates a multi directional traffic jam as vehicles and pedestrians dodge each other. Qalandya is next to a section of the electronically monitored separation fence, an Israeli only settler road, and their industrial compound of AtarotMany Palestinian cars and trucks are let through without a search, but not the ambulance. Israeli soldiers with rifles enter and make us open up medical kit bags, the side bench seat and the oxygen tank storage door. Emad our ambulance driver speaks Hebrew to the soldiers as the inspection continues, and of course we must show our IDs. Meanwhile, outside, another soldier behind a concrete barrier has his rifle trained on us during the inspection.

IOF Invades Cities, Wounds Five Palestinians and Bulldoze Lands in West Bank
International Press Center 12/24/2003
NABLUS, Palestine, December 24, 2003 (IPC + Agencies) - - In its ongoing military offensive on the occupied Palestinian territories, the Israeli occupying forces invaded several cities in the West Bank, while five Palestinian citizens were wounded by IOF gunfire during a demonstration, and bulldozers razed lands and uprooted trees....thousands of Palestinian citizens of all ages took part in [a Nablus demonstration], while the Israeli occupying forces deployed soldiers around the demonstrators and started opening fire at them and firing tear gas canisters, leading to the injury of five Palestinian citizens, two of whom were children....Meanwhile in Tulkarem, the Israeli occupying forces invaded the Tulkarem refugee camp....In the Hebron governorate, the Israeli military bulldozers razed vast areas of land owned by Palestinian citizens northeast of Hebron City....In the Gaza Strip, WAFA news agency reported that the Israeli occupying forces seized the Palestinian Mills Corporation, north of the city of Khan Younis.

Two Palestinians Die of Wounds as IOF Onslaught on Nablus Unabated
International Press Center 12/24/2003
GAZA, Palestine, December 24, 2003 (IPC)-- The death toll of Israeli occupation carnage in Rafah climbed to nine while another Palestinian was killed in Jenin City Tuesday overnight. Palestinian medical sources of Rafah City declared that Mohamed Mansour, 27, died of serious wounds Wednesday at dawn, sustained during the Israeli incursion into the city. Mansour was hit with shrapnel from a missile fired by Israeli combat helicopters that flew overheads at a company of citizens gathering in the center of Yebna refugee camp, wounding him seriously.

Israeli troops invaded Tulkarem
Jerusalemites 12/24/2003
Israeli occupation soldiers have launched an invasion into Tulkarem’s refugee camp. Apache helicopters hovered overhead early on Wednesday as 25 jeeps stormed into the camp and surrounded several homes, said a Palestinian security official. Forces also imposed a curfew on the camp. Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan condemned the latest Israeli invasion of the Rafah refugee camp in the occupied Gaza Strip, urging Israel to protect Palestinian civilians. Eight Palestinians were killed during an Israeli army raid in southern Gaza, hours after two Israeli officers died in a grenade attack in one of the bloodiest bouts of violence in months.

A Crime in Rafah
Palestine Monitor 12/24/2003
Mohammad Kamel Mansour (27) died today, the 24th of December, from wounds sustained during yesterday's Israeli military raid on the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah. This now brings the death toll to a total of nine. More than 40 Israeli vehicles, backed by tanks and Apache helicopter gunships, raided the crowded Rafah refugee camp using a barrage of heavy gunfire, shelling and missiles.

Audio: Report on Rafah
The Guardian 12/24/2003
Audio report: Conal Urquhart in Tel Aviv -- At least eight Palestinians killed in Rafah

Apartheid Wall impacts Qulqelia: $900,000 in Losses and Severe Construction Downfall
International Press Center 12/24/2003
QALQILIA, Palestine, December 24, 2003 (IPC)-- Since the first Israeli invasion of the Qulqelia governorate on March 12, 2002 the total losses inflicted in the governorate infrastructure has reached nearly $900,000 mainly due to the construction of the Apartheid Wall, which has caused the annexation of vast areas of lands to Israel as well as the destruction of infrastructure.

President Arafat Banned From Christmas Festivities, IOF Measures Botches Delight In Bethlehem
International Press Center 12/24/2003
BETHLEHEM, Palestine, December 24, 2003 (IPC + Agencies)-- The Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, besieged in his battered compound in Ramallah was barred by the Israeli occupation forces for the third year to participate in the Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ. President Arafat had received a delegation of Christian clerks headed by the highest ranking Roman Catholic official in the Middle East, Patriarch Michelle Sabbah, and the pastors of the churches.

Israeli Settlers Injured In Palestinian Revenge Attack
Islam Online 12/24/2003
GAZA CITY, Dec 24 ( & News Agencies) – Two Israeli settlers and one soldier were injured Wednesday, December 24, in a series of Palestinian resistance attacks, in a quick retaliation for the massive incursion that left nine Palestinians slain in the last 24 hours and drew international condemnation. A makeshift Qassam rocket, named after Hamas armed wing, wounded a couple of Jewish settlers in the northern Gaza Strip, the Israeli radio said Wednesday. One of the wounded was in a serious condition after the rocket made a direct hit on a house in the settlement of Nisanit.

US opts for a failed Israeli strategy:
With the Iraqi insurgency intensifying and United States casualties mounting by the day, the US is turning to its good friend Israel for inspiration and lessons. Increasingly, the tactics being adopted by the US occupation forces in Iraq appear to be modeled on those used by Israel in the occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank.

Palestinian killed after Israeli raid:
A PALESTINIAN died in hospital overnight raising the death toll from a major Israeli army incursion in the southern Gaza Strip to nine, medical sources said today.,5744,8251683%255E1702,00.html

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