Israel/Palestine News and Information Links December 27-31 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 31 2003 For The Sake of Its Own Virtue, Palestinian Resistance Must Spare Civilians
By Ramzy Baroud, Palestine Chronicle 12/31/2003
Palestinian resistance factions must desist from targeting Israeli civilians, with or without an officially bargained ceasefire and regardless of the course of action chosen by Israel and its reckless government in response. This decision is imperative if the Palestinian struggle is to safeguard its historic values and uphold its moral pre-eminence. Al-Arian case likely to test Patriot Act
St Petersburg Times 12/31/2003
TAMPA – For nearly a decade, FBI intelligence agents had been tapping the telephones and intercepting the faxes of Sami Al-Arian, and keeping secret what they knew about the professor’s suspected ties to Palestinian terrorists. They didn’t even tell colleagues working a criminal case against the same man. The full breadth of what the bureau knew about Al-Arian and others connected to the professor’s charity, Muslim school and think tank finally was revealed in the spring of 2002. FBI Agent Joe Navarro walked into a briefing at the Tampa office and stunned his colleagues with the information. Jordan‚s trade deficit widens by 16 percent in 2003
MENA Report 12/31/2003
Jordan‚s trade deficit rose to 1.54 billion Jordanian dinars in the first ten months of 2003, a 16.1 percent increase compared to the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry. On the contrary, trade surplus with the US rose from JD 20.3 million during the first ten months of 2002 to JD 154.3 million in the corresponding period this year. The increase was attributed to the activation of the Jordan-US free trade agreement (FTA). Ecological development threatened
Jerusalem Times 12/31/2003
The echoing painful facts show that the Israeli occupation air pollution policy is considered as a form of dangerous destructive element to the Palestinian environment, not to mention also the Palestinian air pollution that can be caused by the small Palestinian weak industries. The Palestinian director of planning and ecological policies‚ department inside the Palestinian enviromental control authority, Engineer Aiman Abu Thaher, pointed out to the issue of the environmental air pollution in the Palestinian territories that is considered a complicated subject through both the following up and early detection issues due to the limited information available. Separation wall to leave serious impact on normal life, says new survey
Jerusalem Times 12/31/2003
A new survey conducted by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) on the impact of the separation wall Israel is building around the West Bank on the social and economic conditions in 2003 of the Palestinian households in areas where the wall passes through found out that the wall left a negative impact on social activities of 91% of the households and on cultural activities of 83.3% of the households caught between the wall and the Œgreen line‚ separating Israeli from the West Bank according to the June 4, 1967 borders. It also said 50.4% of the households reported that the wall became an obstacle for marriage between someone living on one side of the wall to another on the other side. [If unable to access this page, go to: then enter or paste this address: – Ed.] Urgent Action To Stop Deportation
International Solidarity Movement 12/31/2003
Four international activists and four Israeli activists were arrested today while trying to stop bulldozers from uprooting trees in the West Bank village of Budrus. Budrus, together with the villages of Midya, N’ilin, and Kibiya, is about to be imprisoned by the wall from all directions. The four Israelis were released after they agreed not to enter the occupied territories for 14 days. The international activists, however, were transferred to Giv’at Zeev police station where some have already had their hearings with a representative from the Ministry of Interior regarding their deportation.
Israel Says Settlement Population Has Doubled Since ‘93
New York Times 12/31/2003
GUSH KATIF, Gaza Strip, Dec. 30 ˜ The Israeli Interior Ministry released figures on Tuesday showing that the number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip had increased by 16 percent in the last three years, to 236,381 ˜ about double the number that existed when Israel signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. The figures were released on a day of violence in Gaza, when an Israeli helicopter fired missiles at a car carrying senior members of the militant Palestinian group Hamas, according to the Israeli military.,13031,1114327,00.html Israel announces Golan expansion
The Guardian 12/31/2003
Israel announced plans today to double the number of Jewish settlers living in the Golan Heights, a disputed region captured from Syria in 1967. In a move which could derail talks with Damascus, the Israeli agriculture minister, Yisrael Katz, told the daily Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper that the government wanted to consolidate its hold over the region before opening any peace negotiations with Syria. About 17,000 Jewish settlers now live in the Golan Heights, which has high strategic value to Israel because it overlooks the sea of Galilee and has important water reserves. IOF Kills One Palestinian, Wounds Two in Khan Younis, as Another Boy Run Over by Jewish Settlers in West Bank
International Press Center 12/31/2003
KHAN YOUNIS, Palestine, December 31, 2003 (IPC + Agencies)—The Israeli occupying forces (IOF) killed a Palestinian citizen and wounded two others in Khan Younis, while Jewish settlers ran over a Palestinian boy in Tulkarem, as IOF demolished a house in Jerusalem and arrested scores. Palestinian security and medical sources in the city of Khan Younis, south of the Gaza Strip, asserted that a Palestinian citizen was killed and two others were wounded in separate incidents in the city by IOF gunfire….Mustafa Hussein, 5, from the town of Baqa Al Sharqiya, north of Tulkarem City, was hit by a Jewish settler car that passed through the town’s main road, leaving Hussein lying on the side of the road, with fractures and bruises all over his tiny body. Failed Israeli Assassination Wounds 13 Bystanders, 2 Critically
Palestine Media Center 12/31/2003
Second Israeli among 17 Wounded in Anti-Apartheid Wall Protest — An Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) US-made Apache helicopter fired two missiles at a civilian car wounding at least 13 bystanders, two of them seriously, in a failed extra-judicial execution late Tuesday, only hours after shooting dead a 22-year old Palestinian in the Gaza Strip, as their troops and military vehicles reinvaded the city of Nablus and its adjacent Balata refugee camp in the West Bank. The IOF also on Wednesday wounded at least 17 Palestinians and an Israeli peace activist west of Ramallah. Nablus still under siege
Palestinian Information Center 12/31/2003
Nablus – The West Bank city of Nablus was still under tight Zionist siege for the past two weeks coupled with curfews imposed on various city suburbs that witnessed increased occupation roadblocks. The barricades impeded the work of various medical teams and hampered health services to citizens. The Zionist measures also prevented schoolchildren from sitting to their final first term examinations. Meanwhile, a Zionist army roadblock yesterday detained an ambulance car for two hours near the settlement of Shafi Shimron. Israeli soldier sorry for not shooting Arab
Al-Jazeera 12/31/2003
An Israeli soldier who three days ago mistakenly shot and seriously wounded a Jewish demonstrator in the northern West Bank has told interrogators he thought he was shooting a Palestinian, not a Jew. “I am sorry, I never thought I was shooting at Jews, I would never shoot a Jew,‰ the soldier reportedly said. The Israeli victim, Gil Nima‚ati, was protesting against the construction of the so-called separation wall near the northern West Bank village of Mis-ha north west of Nablus, along with hundreds of Palestinians and international peace activists….Israeli chief of staff Ya’alon: “Soldiers feel threatened by Palestinians and open fire when they feel threatened. This is not the same when soldiers deal with Jews. Zionist forces demolish seven houses in Deir Al-Balah
Palestinian Information Center 12/31/2003
Gaza – Zionist terrorist forces leveled a house in Shawwa land to the east of Deir Al-Balah while constructing a road to the northeast of the Kfar Darum settlement. Local sources said that the occupation troops advanced to the northeast of the settlement backed by a tank and a huge tractor that was used to raze the Palestinian house and to destroy a water pump in the area. The sources also reported that other army units backed by armored vehicles and tractors headed to the south of Deir Al-Balah and demolished six other houses without allowing their owners to get anything out of them Zionist incursion ends up in arresting 13 citizens
Palestinian Information Center 12/31/2003
Ramallah – Zionist occupation troops late last night stormed the village of Kufr Malek to the east of Ramallah city amidst indiscriminate shooting at civilian houses. Local sources said that the invading force backed by armored personnel carriers and jeeps advanced into the village at 8 pm yesterday amidst random shooting spreading panic in lines of the villagers. Villagers said that occupation soldiers positioned in alleys and streets and arrested a number of youths while others ransacked citizens‚ houses. Occupation forces arrest four Palestinians in Rafah
Palestinian Information Center 12/31/2003
Rafah – Zionist occupation forces arrested at dawn Tuesday four Palestinians in the Shoka area to the southeast of Rafah in the southernmost tip of the Gaza Strip. A Zionist army force backed by more than 30 tanks and armored vehicles stormed the area amidst intensive heavy machinegun fire at citizens‚ houses. Sharon targets annexing 30% of the Strip
Palestinian Information Center 12/31/2003
Occupied Jerusalem – Well informed Zionist sources have affirmed that premier Ariel Sharon was not planning to evacuate the Gaza Strip but rather targeted annexing 30% of its area in any future “peaceful‰ settlement. The sources contradicted allegations voiced by Sharon‚s aides namely that he was willing to pull his army out of the Strip. The Zionist interior ministry has recently released statistics indicating that the number of settlers in the Strip had soared by 50% during the reign of Sharon. Israel to tweak route of barrier under pressure
Miftah 12/31/2003
Israel, under international pressure over a giant separation barrier being built in the West Bank, plans minor changes to the route it says will make life easier for Palestinians, security sources said on Tuesday. Israel says completed sections of the obstacle of razor wire and concrete are already stopping suicide bombers. Palestinians say the barrier annexes land occupied since the 1967 war and will deprive them of a viable, independent state. The changes will entail widening the existing opening that links the city of Qalqilya, shut within an enclave by the barrier, to the rest of the West Bank. They will also mean the village of Baka al-Sharkiya shifts from the Israeli side to the West Bank. “This change will not make life easier for Palestinians and this wall will destroy the peace process,” chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Reuters. A Malicious Israeli Campaign at Nablus District
Jerusalemites/Union of Health Care Committees 12/31/2003
Nablus City & its camps are still under cruel Israeli campaign since two weeks. The Israeli actions are seen in the severe curfew to the city & closure to all Nablus entrances whether the eastern or western parts; not to mention the spread of checkpoints in the city‚s different neighborhoods. This hateful operation has disabled the work of medical teams in reaching patients throughout the city & it prohibited many students from getting to their schools to submit their final exams equally to their mates in other Palestinian districts. Unemployed tour guides sue Yasser Arafat, PA for millions
Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
Fifty-eight tour guides have filed damage claims of NIS 6 million against the Palestinian Authority and the PLO. Thirty-eight of these claims were filed in Jerusalem District Court in July 2003 and another 20 were submitted to the same court this month. These are personal damage claims, each ranging between NIS 100,000 and NIS 150,000. The plaintiffs say they lost almost all their income because of the intifada. One-kilo bomb found near Beit Shemesh
Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
A small bomb was found yesterday near a gas station at the entrance to Moshav Mesilat Zion, near Beit Shemesh. The bomb was hidden on the Sha’ar Haguy-Beit Shemesh Highway, inside a milk carton wrapped in plastic bags. Police sappers defused the one-kilogram bomb as security forces searched the area for other explosive devices. Police said the bomb appeared to have been assembled in Palestinian territory rather than by Israeli criminal elements, but have refused to provide additional details as to the components of the bomb and the way in which it was put together.
Jewish Settlers Vow to Resist Evacuation ‘Unto Death’
An Nahar 12/31/2003
Jewish settlers living in a cluster of trailers at Ginnot Arieh in the West Bank have vowed to ‘resist unto death’ a government decision to remove them in compliance with the U.S. road map peace plan that mandates evacuation of dozens of unauthorized settlements in that Palestinian region. One Israeli declared Monday that he would never leave Ginnot Arieh alive. IDF: Settlers can leave outposts – or pay evacuation cost
Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
The evacuation order issued by the Israel Defense Forces against four illegal West Bank outposts contains a clause that stipulates, for the first time, that the settlers themselves will have to bear the cost of the operation if security forces are needed to be called in to evacuate them. The order relates to the one inhabited outpost, Ginot Aryeh, north of Ramallah, and to three uninhabited outposts. Professors petition High Court against evacuation of outposts
Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
A group of professors petitioned the High Court of Justice on Wednesday to reverse a military decree enabling the evacuation of West Bank outposts and holding settlers financially responsible for any forcible evacuation. The petition, which was filed by a group called Professors for a Strong Israel, does not refer to any specific outpost, but claims that the Israel Defense Forces decree is illegal because it violates the outpost residents’ basic human rights. Shin Bet questions terror suspects in Tel Aviv who set off police hunt
Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
The Shin Bet was questioning Wednesday afternoon three people thought to be linked to a planned terror attack in Tel Aviv. The suspects, two Palestinians and one Israeli Arab, were caught near a Subaru found near the central bus station in south Tel Aviv, which had been the target of a police search, Israel Radio reported. The search began in the mid-afternoon after security forces received reports that Palestinians planning to carry out a terror attack had entered Israel. However, no explosive devices were discovered in the vehicle.
Yassin: Israel will pay heavy price for assassination attempt
Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin on Tuesday evening said Israel would pay a heavy price for its failed assassination attempt on Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip earlier in the day. “These massacres and crimes prove that Israel is seeking violence and not looking for peace, security and stability,” he said. An Israel Air Force helicopter gunship fired two missiles at a car in the Strip, in what the Israel Defense Forces confirmed was an assassination attempt on Hamas militants. Haneyya: The assassination attempt proves Zionists still targeting Hamas cadres
Palestinian Information Center 12/31/2003
Gaza – Ismail Haneyya, one of the Hamas Movement leaders in the Gaza Strip, has affirmed that the Zionist assassination attempt yesterday proved that Tel Aviv did not halt targeting Hamas cadres. Haneyya, affirming that assassinations would not halt resistance or alter Hamas‚ stands, said that the assassination attempt of a member of the Qassam Brigades, military wing of Hamas, exposed the ugly image of the Zionist enemy. He said that the new crime proved the false and deceptive statements of Zionist chief of staff Moshe Ya‚lon who claimed that his army was not targeting Hamas at present. Sharon Increases Illegal Jewish Settlers in Palestinian Territory by 16%
Palestine Media Center 12/31/2003
The Israeli Interior Ministry released figures on Tuesday showing that the number of the illegal Jewish settlers in occupied Palestinian Territory in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has increased by 16 percent to 236,381 in the last three years since Prime Minister Ariel Sharon came to power in March 2001 ˜ about double the number that existed when Israel signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. Brothers suspected of spying for Hezbollah
Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
Two brothers, Mohammed and Ahmed Shimali, from the northern village of Ghajar, are suspected of spying for Hezbollah, it was revealed yesterday, after Acre Magistrates Court lifted a gag order on their arrest. Police and the Shin Ben security service arrested the brothers, aged 22 and 24, for allegedly passing on information to Hezbollah in exchange for drugs. They are suspected of giving the organization information on an army post at the entrance to a divided Israeli-Lebanese village. IDF may change rules of engagement along route of fence
Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
The IDF may change its orders on opening fire along the West Bank separation fence after last week’s shooting of demonstrators, in which an Israeli and an American were wounded, IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon said yesterday. “This is an incident that had very serious consequences,” Ya’alon said at a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee discussion on the shooting that seriously wounded left-wing Israeli activist Gil Na’amati from the Negev and lightly wounded an American tourist. “But in the IDF, there is no policy of shooting at protesters. IDF troops shoot only when life is endangered.” Israeli troops wound 11 protesters
Al-Jazeera 12/31/2003
Ten Palestinians and an Israeli have been wounded as troops used teargas and rubber bullets to break up a protest close to a controversial barrier in the West Bank. The Israeli troops also arrested Gustav Fridolin, a Swedish member of parliament who was among a group of protesters detained near the village of Budrus, close to Jenin in the northern West Bank. The incident was the second in five days in which Israeli troops opened fire at demonstrators near the wall. Israel Builds More Settlements In Occupied Golan
Islam Online 12/31/2003
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, December 31 ( & News Agencies) – Israel announced Wednesday, December 31, a 40-million-dollar plan for building Jewish settlements on the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, a blow to hopes of any progress on the Israeli-Syrian chapter of the Middle East peace conflict. Israeli Agriculture Minister Israel Katz said some nine new settlements would be created in the region – which Israel occupied in 1967 and annexed 14 years later – in addition to expansion projects for existing settlements. “The aim is to send an unequivocal message: the Golan is an integral part of Israel and we will continue to develop the settlements,” Katz was quoted by Agence France-Presse as telling the Israeli public radio. Israel Seals Off Nablus; Palestinian Killed in Gaza
Arab News 12/31/2003
NABLUS, West Bank ˜ One Palestinian was shot dead yesterday by Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip as soldiers sealed off large parts of the West Bank town of Nablus in an operation to round up wanted militants, sources said. Fadal Al-Najar, 22, suffered fatal injuries when he was shot in the chest in the Khan Yunis area of southern Gaza, Palestinian medical and security sources added. Israeli military sources said that troops had opened fire in the morning on a group of Palestinians “suspected of hostile activity‰ in the area. Eleven Palestinian Bystanders Wounded In Botched IOF Air Strike on Gaza
International Press Center 12/31/2003
GAZA, Palestine, December 31, 2003 (IPC + Agencies)— Eleven Palestinian citizens, mostly were bystanders, have been wounded after two Israeli helicopter gunships fired missiles at a car in Gaza City in an attempt to extra judicially execute a member of Hamas. Eyewitnesses said that an F-16 jetfighter flew overhead, followed by “Apache” warplanes and fired two missiles at a “Fiat” car, causing severe damages. One person inside the vehicle, believed to be a member of the armed wing of Hamas movement, Ezzeddin Al Qassam Brigades, was wounded in the attack on Tuesday evening….The first missile landed about 70 meters away from the vehicle in the Sheikh Radwan area of Gaza City. Breaking News: Four houses demolished in Gaza, Palestinians wounded near Ramallah
International Press Center 12/31/2003
12:30— Israeli occupying forces demolishes completely four Palestinian houses in al Amal neighborhood, west of khan Younis, IPC said. / 12:00— Israeli occupying forces (IOF) held hundreds of the Palestinian citizens at Jesser Al Zawyia military checkpoint between Masha and Al Zawyia , in Salfeet district, WAFA reported. / 11:15— 19 Palestinian citizens of Badrass village, west of Rammallah, were wounded by the Israeli gunfire during the IOF invasion of the village, IPC said…. Failed Assassination Attempt by Israeli Occupying Forces results in 14 Civilian Injuries
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 12/31/2003
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns an assassination attempt carried out by Israeli occupying forces yesterday evening, 30 December 2003, in Gaza City.The attack targeted a member of the ŒEzziddin al-Qassam Brigade, the military wing of the Hamas movement.The targeted individual and 13 Palestinians civilians were injured.Two civilians sustained serious injuries.This attack comes as further evidence of an Israeli policy aimed at escalating tensions in the region.According to international law, extra-judicial assassinations and other attacks on Palestinian civilians, are war crimes. Media Alerts – Updates from Budrus and Jayyous
International Solidarity Movement 12/31/2003
Continued Non-violent Resistance to Land Confiscation is Met with Violence – [Budrus, Ramallah] — Early reports are that villagers from Budrus, and their Israeli and International supporters, made a peaceful march onto Budrus lands that are set to be destroyed for the construction of the Israeli Apartheid Wall. Protesters were met by the Israeli army who physically assaulted the men, women and children present and opened fire on the crowd with over 100 rubber bullets aimed at people’s heads. Tear gas was also fired. There are many injuries and approximately 10 people have been taken to the hospital. At least 4 Israelis and 6 internationals have been detained and have been threatened with arrest.
Military police arrest soldier who shot Briton in Rafah
Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
Military police this week arrested and questioned the Israel Defense Forces soldier suspected of shooting British civilian Tom Hurndall in Rafah last April, who suffered severe brain damage and lies in a vegetative state in England. Hurndall’s family has begun proceedings allowing him to eventually be disconnected from respiratory and other life-support systems….The soldier suspected of shooting Hurndall, whose remand the Southern Command military tribunal extended Wednesday by seven days, initially claimed that he returned fire after an armed Palestinian shot at him. He later admitted to shooting at the unarmed British civilian with the intention of intimidating him. Beduoin Family Ordered Out of Their Home by the Israeli Army
Islamic Association for Palestine/ISM 12/31/2003
[Jayyous, Qalqilia] — Today, at 10:30 AM, Zarriffi, the mother and wife of the Abu Amar family reported that the Isreali army ordered them out of their home. The family was told that they must have a permit to live in their home because their home “is now located in Israel.” After several hours of work with a human rights organzaition, the family was granted access back to their home. The family home of Abu Amar is located on the outside of the Israeli Apartheid Wall, opposite the village of Jayyous. They are the only family isolated from daily life there. The family attempts to pass daily through a gate in the Wall controlled by Israeli soldiers, but they are often harassed and denied passage. Prominent rabbi says Apartheid Wall “is killing people‰
Palestinian Information Center 12/31/2003
Occupied Jerusalem – A prominent Jewish rabbi living in a West Bank settlement has castigated the construction of the apartheid wall in the West Bank, saying it contravened the teachings of the Torah and “is killing people.‰ Speaking during an interview with the Israeli-state run radio “cal Yisrael‰ Wednesday, Rabbi Menahem Froeman, of the settlement of Tekou, south of Bethlehem, suggested that the Israeli government was deceiving the public by claiming that the wall would save lives. Lebanese fear losing citizenship after shura council ruling, Palestinian families may lose status
Daily Star 12/31/2003
Palestinians families who became Lebanese citizens in 1994 fear that efforts to revoke their acquired citizenship might succeed, but it is likely that only a few will have their citizenship taken from them. “The fears are exaggerated because the ruling might result in the revocation of just a few cases,‰ according to Ghassan Abdullah, the executive coordinator of the Palestinian Human Rights Organization (PHRO). According to Farid al-Khazen, the chairman of the Political Studies Department at the American University of Beirut: “It is too late to do anything about the citizenship decree. The Shura Council should not have waited nine years to produce this ruling.‰ Syria blasts Israeli expansion of Golan settlements
Middle East Online 12/31/2003
DAMASCUS – Syria Wednesday condemned Israel’s plan to expand settlements on the occupied Golan Heights, saying it proved Prime Minister Ariel Sharon did not want peace. “Sharon says he is for peace, but his statements are contradicted each time with the implementation of settlement projects in the Palestinian territories and the Golan,” an information ministry official said. Sharon opposes peace, he is making matters more difficult,” the official, who declined to be named. “His actions are evidence of an anti-peace policy and create more tension in the region.” Saudi King Fahd receives Qurei’
Arabic News 12/31/2003
Saudi Arabia King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz yesterday received the Palestinian prime minister Ahmad Qurei’ and members of the accompanying delegation and discussed with them latest developments concerning the Palestinian issue, bilateral relations, and Arab, Islamic and international affairs especially the Palestinian question, and the acts of killing and destruction practices against the Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli forces.
Likud Envoy to Syria Identified, Israel to Double Golan Settlers
An Nahar 12/31/2003
Israel has approved a plan to spend at least US$56 million to double the number of settlers living on the occupied Golan Heights, aiming to strengthen Israel’s hand ahead of possible peace talks with Syria, officials said Wednesday. The decision came as a Druze member of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s Likud Party, Majli Wehbeh, was reportedly preparing to travel to Damascus to look into President Bashar Assad’s recent call for the renewal of peace negotiations. Israel appeared to be sending mixed messages in response to Assad’s overtures, first made in a New York Times interview. Retiring officer: In future war, IDF would take Damascus as fast as U.S. did Baghdad
Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
Brigadier General Eival Giladi raised eyebrows yesterday when he told listeners at a Tel Aviv University conference on “New Security Paradigms” that the next time Syria and Israel clash in a war, the IDF will reach Damascus with the same lightning speed American troops made it to Baghdad last spring. Giladi’s statements about Syria and other security topics were delivered with a characteristic mix of insight and blunt candor, if not arrogance. The speech capped an influential career for the officer who announced his departure from the IDF with flair this week. PM Qurei‚ Demands Revival of Peace Process
International Press Center 12/31/2003
GAZA, Palestine, December 31, 2003 (IPC + Agencies)— The Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei‚ requested yesterday Saudi Arabian officials to intervene at the International Quartet to push ahead the peace process in the Middle East at a time Israel launched a fresh air strike on Tuesday wounding 11 Palestinians in Gaza City. On his part, Dr. Nabil Sha‚th, the Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister, told reporters in Al Riyadh that Prime Minister Qurei‚ urged the Saudi officials to continue their efforts to press on the United States to play its pivotal role, in order to inject momentum into the peace process. Egypt‚s ex-Defense Mininister‚s letter to Sharon
Palestine Media Center 12/31/2003
In an opinion article entitled “Another letter to Ariel Sharon” written for the London-based Dar al-Hayat daily on Monday, former Egyptian Defense Minister Amin Houwaidi launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Sharon, saying his letter was in response to “the letters Sharon sends to the ‘Arab street’, like Israeli Air Force strikes on [Islamic Jihad terrorist training] camps near Damascus and the continuing war on the peace-loving Palestinians.” “This letter ˆ which might not be the last ˆ is to warn you that you arrived to the quagmire that we expected for you, although its timing was delayed a little”, Houwaidi wrote.
Syria-Israel War May Trigger a Middle East Apocalypse
An Nahar 12/31/2003
Israel’s top military strategist says Syria’s chances to wage a surprise offensive against the Jewish state are zero because the Israeli army is capable of reaching Damascus with the same speed the Americans had reached Baghdad. But his contention is characterized as farfetched. “The Syrians are aware of this reality and therefore their chances to mount a surprise onslaught against Israel are nil, zero,” senior-most Israeli army strategist Gen. Gelaadi said in an interview published by the Tel Aviv daily Haaretz on Wednesday. He noted that the presence of a massive American army in Syria’s main Arab neighbor, Iraq, has placed Syria in an inescapable U.S.-Israeli military pincer. Arafat: Israeli government trying to scupper road map
Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat on Wednesday accused the Israeli government of doing all it could to scupper the internationally-brokered road map to Middle East peace, Army Radio reported. He charged that the government in Jerusalem was not interested in returning to the negotiating table, the report said.,2763,1114284,00.html Israel seeks to gag nuclear ‘spy’
The Guardian 12/31/2003
Israel is looking for ways to gag a whistleblower who is due to be released from prison in the new year, fearing that he may have more nuclear secrets to disclose that will embarrass the government, officials said yesterday. Mordechai Vanunu, a former nuclear technician, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for espionage after giving dozens of pictures and a description of alleged weapons from Israel’s top-secret Dimona nuclear reactor to the Sunday Times in 1986. NRP due to support budget as parties agree to donate NIS 30M. to welfare
Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
Three coalition parties agreed Wednesday to contribute part of their own budgets to compensate for the government’s NIS 35 million cut to the welfare budget. The National Religious Party, which had threatened to vote against the 2004 state budget if the treasury did not retract its decision on welfare, is now expected to support the budget. The Knesset House Committee is expected to vote on the budget Wednesday evening. Inner cabinet to review Iran strategy
Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will meet this morning with members of his inner security cabinet to discuss continuing diplomatic efforts to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions, as well as the implications of Libya’s announced intention to abandon weapons of mass destruction. Israeli officials say that participants in the meeting will review the possibility of Israel being asked to “contribute its part” in disarming the region of weapons of mass destruction.
Golan council denies reports of plans for new settlements
Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
The Agriculture and Tourism Ministries development plan for the Golan Heights does not include the establishment of nine new towns, as reported by the Yedioth Aharonoth daily on Wednesday. Reports by Israel’s largest daily and Israel Radio said Wednesday that the government agreed on the plan to solidify its hold over the Golan before renewing peace talks with Syria. Syria denounced the reported plan on Wednesday….The Prime Minister’s office issued a statement Wednesday calling the publication of the plans “a cynical use of a preformulated plan for political ends,” and said it was not an official or appropriate response to recent overtures by Syria. Shinui said that it was going to demand that the cabinet discuss the plan at its next meeting. National Infrastructure Minister Yosef Paritzky said that the timing of the plan was “terrible” since Syrian President Basher Assad’s hand was now outstretched in peace.
Rafah protesters bully PA officials
Jerusalem Post 12/31/2003
Senior Palestinian Authority officials have refrained over the past few weeks from using the Rafah border crossing for fear of being attacked by angry Palestinian protesters. The border crossing has become a favorite site for residents of Rafah who wish to express their dismay with the PA and its representatives. Following last week’s IDF raid on Rafah, aimed at destroying underground tunnels used for smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip, a number of senior officials were attacked by families whose houses were destroyed or whose sons were killed during the operation. MKs denounce parliament’s handling of immunity issue
Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
Likud MKs Yehiel Hazan and Michael Gorlovsky, whose immunity the attorney general did not succeed in lifting last week, didn’t turn up yesterday for a meeting on a proposal to set up an external body to rule on lifting the immunity of Knesset members.Naomi Blumenthal, MK (Likud), who fought against losing her immunity when she was accused of bribery in the Likud primaries, didn’t turn up either. Representatives from the ultra-Orthodox and Arab parties were also absent. But 20 members from Likud, Shinui, Labor and Meretz arrived to express contempt for the Knesset House Committee’s rejection of the attorney general’s requests to strip Hazan and Gorlovsky of their immunity so they could be charged with voting twice in the Knesset.
Teaching student activists to defend the fence
Jerusalem Post 12/31/2003
Fifty student activists went to see the security fence Tuesday, accompanied by Minister-without-Portfolio Natan Sharansky. The students were part of a group of 1,000 in Jerusalem for the first three-day Global Student Leadership Summit….”As a representative of the Israeli government, I have been accused of doing something criminal by supporting the construction this fence,” said Sharanksy. Who pays for Gilad Sharon’s bull?
Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
It is precisely the paltry sum of money involved that annoys cattle breeders and Agriculture Ministry officials. Why, they ask, if Gilad Sharon, the prime minister’s son, is apparently a millionaire – to judge by the transfers to his bank account by Israeli and foreign businessmen – should he be entitled to get a NIS 5,077 grant from the Agriculture Ministry for bulls he bought, apparently in contravention of regulations? 1.2% GDP growth in 2003
Globes 12/31/2003
GDP per capita fell 0.6%, private consumption increased by 2%, and the standard of living was unchanged. — In another sign of economic recovery, GDP increased in 2003, after dropping for two years in a row. GDP grew by 1.2%, slightly more than expected, after falling 0.8% in 2002 and 0.9% in 2001. Business product growth was higher at 1.5%, after dropping 2.8% in 2002 and 2.9% in 2001, according to preliminary estimates for 2003 published today. Growth in the old economy (excluding start-ups) was higher 2%. Netanyahu cancels meeting with Perez after workers escalate sanctions
Globes 12/31/2003
Histadrut: The government retracted already agreed on understandings. — Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu last night canceled a meeting with Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) chairman MK Amir Perez (One Nation), scheduled for tonight. He made the announcement after the National Union of Government Employees decided to escalate its sanctions from this morning by discontinuing all operations by its exceptions committees. Tel Aviv 25 up 51% in 2003
Globes 12/31/2003
The Tel Aviv 100 index was up 60.7% for the year, and the Tel Tech index 128%. The Teva and Bezeq shares attracted the market‚s biggest turnovers today. Trading was also heavy in Matav, while the banks continued northward. — The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) rose today. The Tel Aviv 25 index closed up 0.59% at 504.15 points, the Tel Aviv 100 index rose 1% to 534.39 points, and the Tel-Tech 15 index gained 1.79% to 375.24 points. Turnover totaled NIS 698 million. Unemployment up to 10.7%; wages down 3.7%
Globes 12/31/2003
Productivity rose 2.2%. The monthly average of unemployed was 279,000 in 2003. — Unemployment is rising and wages are falling. Unemployment in 2003 reached its highest level since 1994. The seasonally-adjusted monthly average unemployment level was 10.7% in 2003, up from 10.3% in 2002 and 9.4% in 2001.
Palestinian population rises to 8.7 million in 2003
ReliefWeb 12/31/2003
RAMALLAH, West Bank, Dec 31 (AFP) – The number of Palestinians around the world reached 8.7 million in 2003, including 3.7 million in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to official figures published Wednesday. The total figure rises to 9.7 million with the inclusion of Israelis of Arab origin, the survey by the Palestinian Authority’s bureau of statistics found. Of the 3.7 million inhabitants of the Palestinian territories, 2.3 million live in the West Bank and 1.4 million in Gaza. Israel’s population growth only 1.7% in 2003
Globes 12/31/2003
The population of Israel grew by 116,000 in 2003, including only 23,000 immigrants. — Israel‚s population growth in 2003 was the lowest since 1990 1.7%. Israel‚s population numbered 6.7 million, 81% of which was Jewish, according to Central Bureau of Statistics population estimates. Immigration hits 15-year low in 2003
Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
During 2003, Israel’s population grew by 1.7 percent, or 116,000 people, its slowest pace since 1990, the Central Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday. Immigration to Israel sank to a 15-year low in 2003, which, added to this low annual population growth rate, means that there will be 6,750,000 Israelis to see in 2004. The CBS said 23,000 people moved to Israel in 2003, down from 34,000 in 2002. More than half came from the former Soviet Union, 13 percent were from Ethiopia, eight percent from France and seven percent from the United States.,2763,1113223,00.html Israeli star saw dark side of the Good Samaritan
The Guardian 12/31/2003
Conal Urquart in Jerusalem reports that women are ostracised for daring to marry outside one of the Holy Land’s tiniest and most ancient communities — The Samaritans won renown for kindness in the time of Jesus. But today they are ruthless in defence of the purity of their tribe, prepared even to shun their own daughters to preserve their lineage, a fate that has befallen one of Israel’s most celebrated actresses. The ancient sect, which was celebrated in the Christian world through the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke’s gospel, now numbers only 600, divided between two communities – one near Tel Aviv in Israel and the other near Nablus in the West Bank.
Israel’s ‘most wanted’ terrorist deck
Jerusalem Post 12/31/2003
Turns out, everyone’s hunting for a royal flush. Hawks in the US have stacked the deck, literally, with a list of “most wanted” Iraqis. American doves can shuffle the faces of “war profiteers” on their own deck of cards. Hamas has posters showing top Israeli leaders on a deck of cards, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Now Israeli gamblers can play their hand at politics, with a list of 52 terrorists wanted by the IDF….The “Game Over” cards can be purchased at stores in Israel for about NIS 20, or on-line at They can also be found at the Internet auction site ebay. 2,000-year-old leper found in Jerusalem
Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
Two years ago, archaeologist Dr. Shimon Gibson, from the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, led a group of students to burial caves in Jerusalem’s Hinnom Valley. During the outing, the participants noticed some broken shards from a sarcophagus….”Up until now, the oldest archaeological findings of leprosy were from the Byzantine period, in the fifth century C.E.,” says Gibson. “This is the oldest archaeological finding of leprosy in the Middle East….” U.S. students responsive to Israel campaign
Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
Jesse Gabriel, 22, will complete his B.A. in Political Science this year at the University of California, Berkeley. Many of the instructors on his campus articulate extremely critical positions toward Israel and its policies in the territories. Student support for the Palestinians is widespread….In fact, Israel supporters have gained the upper hand in Berkeley’s debates about the conflict. “We’ve learned how to operate, and we are winning today,” he says. “Anyone who visits the campus today will see far more Israeli flags than Palestinian ones.”…Scrapping this combative approach, students developed new tactics. One is the publication of special journals on Israel….”The idea is to present Israel as a pluralistic country that is similar to the U.S.,” explains one Yale student. Who Owns Nukes?
Islam Online 12/31/2003
Islam Online Interactive: The world’s ‘nuclear club’ Al-Shara confers with Austrian parliamentary delegation
Arabic News 12/31/2003
Syria’s Foreign Minister Farouk al-Shara received in Damascus Tuesday Speaker of the Austrian Parliament Andres Khol and an accompanying delegation on Syrian-European relations, particularly the Syrian-Austrian ones. Talks also dealt with issues of mutual concern and with Syria’s initiative submitted to the UN Security Council regarding freeing the Middle East from weapons of mass destruction WMD. Emergency meeting for Arab FMs on improving the Arab League
Arabic News 12/31/2003
The assistant secretary general of the Arab league AL Nour Eddine Hasshad announced on Sunday that the Arab foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting in Cairo in February 2004 to discuss the file of developing the Arab League. Hasshad told journalists that the AL general secretariat handed over “since days the Arab League a complete file on the development of the AL, and that the Arab League will by its turn send final answers by the end of January 2004 to discuss it in the emergency meeting.” Solidarity rally to be held this evening
Jordan Times 12/31/2003
AMMAN (JT) ˜ The [Jordanian] National Coalition, grouping opposition parties, professional associations and independent figures, announced plans to stage a number of public events over the coming weeks in solidarity with Iraqis and Palestinians facing US and Zionist occupation. The first of these events is a public rally entitled “Victory and Liberation of Iraq and Palestine,‰ to be held at the Professional Associations complex this evening. US trade sanctions delay upgrades of Syria‚s internet
Daily Star 12/31/2003
Syrian web infrastructure in need of American technological support – New American restrictions set back trade, net development for at least a year, complicated requests for export licenses — DAMASCUS: The US-authored Syria Accountability Act imposing trade sanctions on the country could delay the upgrade of Syria‚s internet infrastructure which is in need of American technological equipment, the Syrian Telecommunication Minister Mohammed Bashir al-Mounajed said. The Geneva Bubble
By Ilan Pappe, Miftah 12/31/2003
Even though we live in an age of intensive and intrusive media coverage, TV viewers in Israel were lucky to catch a glimpse of the meetings that produced the Geneva Accord. The clip we watched in November showed a group of well- known Israeli writers and peaceniks shouting at a group of not so well-known and rather cowed Palestinians, most of them officials of the Palestinian Authority. Abba Eban once said that the Palestinians never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity, and that, more or less, was what the Israelis were saying now. This was their last chance, the Palestinians were told: the current offer was the best and most generous Israelis have ever made them. Bound by their conscience
By Joseph Raz, Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
Similarities and differences between conscientious objection and civil disobedience, and between conscientious objection by pacifists and what is called “selective refusal” – when objection is conditioned on something specific, like opposition to serving in the territories – have been widely discussed of late in Israel. Thus, in convicting the five high school graduates who refused to serve in the territories, the military court stated in its decision two weeks ago, among other things, that this case is not one of individual refusal, but a social statement that seeks to induce change and, as such, incorporates an element of civil disobedience. Appeal: Web lets Palestinian children find world beyond refugee camp
By Robert Fisk, The Independent 12/31/2003
There are 32 children in the class, all Palestinian, all new experts on the internet. Qassem Sa’ad, a small man with a neat brown moustache, is proud of them and not without reason. Noisy they may be, but enthusiastic they obviously are. And bright. A trick of the light
Editorial, Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
In his speech at the Herzliya Conference two weeks ago, it appeared that the prime minister succeeded, if only for a fleeting moment, to illuminate the bleak diplomatic horizon with a lightning flash of hope. There were many whose immediate response was to dismiss Ariel Sharon’s words out of hand. They found it hard to put any faith in the sincerity of his stated intention to uproot outposts and settlements, and to carry out a significant withdrawal. Others were less doubting. They hoped – or feared, depending on their position – that Sharon was on the verge of an important diplomatic turnaround. The speech made headlines across the globe. Unfortunately, the doubters were right. The news emanating from the Prime Minister’s Office and the bureau of Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, about the preparations being made by the government and the IDF to evacuate four ephemeral outposts, can only be described as a mockery; and the country, groaning under the unnecessary and harmful burden of around a hundred illegal outposts, is the butt of the joke. A cursed blessing in disguise
By Gideon Samet, Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
That old, little remembered question – what would Yeshayahu Leibowitz have said had he seen this – came up this week when Golani infantry soldiers appeared to have crossed into the twilight zone of war crimes. Leibowitz, the first commentator to speak aloud about the unavoidable corrupting tendency of the occupation was in his day considered an overwrought prophet of doom. In his unsparing prose, he cited quotes by a German author who spoke about the transition from humanism to nationalism, and then to barbarism. Many loathed him and refused to forgive him for daring to warn about the degeneration of IDF conduct, and about its becoming one of the lowliest of armies. Today, would it really be so easy to point to the error of his words?
The Black Hole in Truce Efforts
By Ghassan Andoni, International Middle East Media Center 12/31/2003
The government of Israel constantly refused to be a party to any truce agreement, demanding for the Palestinian Authority to disarm and dismantle resistance groups as a prerequisite to any serious diplomatic efforts.

December 30 2003 2003 Through Rafah
By Arjan El Fassed, Electronic Intifada 12/30/2003
The year 2003 started and ended with Israeli forces invading Rafah refugee camp and demolishing refugee homes. On January 2, Israeli forces demolished 25 homes, leaving 85 Palestinian families homeless. Refugees were forced to leave their homes at one o’clock as Israeli bulldozers smashed their property. This week, just days before Christmas, Israeli forces, reinforced by tanks and attack helicopters attacked the densely populated area again. Refugees came under intense shelling and indiscriminate shooting and homes were demolished. In three years, Israeli forces have demolished 800 homes in Rafah alone. Swedish MP among eight internationals arrested in Budrus
Palestine Monitor 12/30/2003
Swedish MP Gustav Fridolin was among eight protestors arrested by Israeli troops this morning in another day of protests in the village of Budrus. About 50 Palestinians were also injured by soldiers who turned on the protestors, beating them with sticks and shooting rubber bullets and throwing tear gas on them. Now aged 20, Fridolin is the youngest member ever to be elected to the Swedish parliament (was 19 when elected), and is a very high-profile figure. At the time of writing he remains in custody along with six other peace activists ˆ another Swede, four Israeli and two Americans.
Israel affirms right to try Canadian
Toronto Star 12/30/2003
JERUSALEM – An Israeli military court in the Gaza Strip today threw out a precedent-setting challenge to its authority to try a Palestinian-born Canadian charged in an alleged plot to kill Jews in North America. Military Judge Vered Orenstein accepted the prosecutor‚s argument that the court had the power to try Jamal Akkal, 23, a former Gaza resident. Israeli Defence Force prosecutors accused Akkal of receiving unlawful military training by a terrorist organization whose acts endanger the lives and security of Gaza residents in areas under Israeli military jurisdiction. Saudi women ask for greater rights
Middle East Online 12/30/2003
MANAMA – More than 300 women from across Saudi Arabia, most of them professionals with university degrees, have petitioned Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, for greater rights. In the petition, the women list eight demands centred on recognition of their contribution to civil society, without the need for “judicial guardianship or support”. Calling for a supreme council to oversee women’s affairs, the petition also presses women’s rights to “education and jobs … without needing permission” from a guardian. AMW summary of BBC Radio 4 coverage of Israel/Palestine
Palestine Media Center 12/30/2003
A summary covering the week of December 15-21, compiled by Judith Brown, a member of Arab Media Watch’s executive committee. — There seems to be a different method of presenting the Palestinian/Israeli conflict since the BBC linked up again with Israel. The items tend to be shorter and they use Israeli spokesmen less, and Palestinians have been excluded from any comment ˆ they have been used before, including spokesmen from Hamas. The Middle East conflict items are on earlier than they were before on the Today programme, often before 6.30am. A child of our time
By Alit Karp and Jackie Khoury, Jerusalemites 12/30/2003
Exposed, exploited, dressed in tatters and desperately knocking on car windows, increasing numbers of Palestinian children are begging for money on the country’s roads. — The Wadi Ara road was largely empty on the last Friday of the holy Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. There was hardly any backups of vehicles at the intersections with traffic lights. On the windows of the cars that were on the roads, small brown hands knocked pleadingly, though hardly any of the drivers – mainly women, it appeared – took the trouble to do a quick search in their purses in order to give the children a handout. In some cases they had to look down to see the face of the child: Many of the child beggars of Wadi Ara are so young that their heads barely reach a car window. If there’s an Inquiry, there Probably Won’t be an Indictment
By Akiva Eldar, Miftah 12/30/2003
Israel Defense Forces soldiers who fired at a group of Israelis who demonstrated Friday against the separation fence don’t have to worry about the investigation of the incident launched by the army this week. Statistics compiled by the IDF’s Judge Advocate General (JAG) indicate that the chances of an inquiry leading to a court indictment are no greater than 15 percent. Data delivered three months ago by the JAG to the B’Tselem human rights organization show that during the first three years of the intifada, during which time more than 1,000 unarmed Palestinian civilians were killed, the IDF opened just 57 inquiries of soldiers for gunfire incidents in which persons were killed or wounded: Only nine of these cases ended up as indictments. Israel Changes Route of West Bank Security Barrier
VOA News 12/30/2003
Israel, acting under strong international pressure, says it is making changes to the route of its West Bank security barrier to try to make life easier for the Palestinians. Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that they plan to alter the route of the controversial security barrier. Under the changes, Israel intends to widen the opening in the barrier that links the Palestinian town of Qalqilyah to the rest of the West Bank. Under the original plan, Qalqilyah was faced with being enclosed by the barrier from both the east and the west, making it an enclave. The motivation behind that version of the plan was to allow Jewish settlers free movement between their communities and in the direction of Israel.

Settler numbers up 16% :
The population of Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories has grown by 16% since Prime Minister Ariel Sharon came to power in March 2001.

Zionism's Useful Idiots : That's you and me, taxpaying US citizens.
We're useful idiots for the Zionists in Washington and Tel Aviv. Useful because our hard-earned paychecks can be harvested to pay for war and mass murder in the Middle East, idiots because we don't do anything about it.

11 Palestinians injured in failed assassination attempt in Gaza
Ha'aretz 12/30/2003
An Israel Defense Forces helicopter gunship fired two missiles at a car in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday evening, in what the Israel Defense Forces confirmed was an assassination attempt of a top Hamas militant. Hospital officials in Gaza said at least 11 people were injured in the attack, two of them critically. The witnesses said the attack occurred near the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, a Hamas stronghold. The car was traveling toward the neighborhood....The vehicle's passengers escaped injury in the attack....

IOF Knocks Down 16 Houses in Balata Camp
International Press Center 12/30/2003
NABLUS, Palestine, December 30, 2003 (IPC + Agencies) - - The Israeli occupying forces continued its unleashing offensive on Nablus City and its Balata refugee camp of the West Bank, demolishing a large number of houses there. The Israeli occupying forces demolished Monday overnight 16 houses of the families of anti-occupation resistance activists wanted by the Israeli forces, Palestinian security sources said.....Meanwhile, the Israeli occupying forces had rounded up six Palestinians in several parts of the occupied West Bank, Al Jazeera satellite channel reported. The IOF in Rafah also arrested Tuesday morning four citizens during a fresh swoop on Al Shweika area at the borderline, south east of Rafah, IPC correspondent said.

Israeli troops shoot, kill, Palestinian in Rafah
Palestinian Information Center 12/30/2003
Occupied Jerusalem - Israeli occupation soldiers on Tuesday shot and killed a Palestinian civilian in Rafah at the southern edge of the Gaza Strip, local sources report. The sources said soldiers manning a "watchtower" opened fire at a Palestinian civilians who was walking outside his home, killing him on the spot. The Israeli army has not elaborated on the incident.

Occupation forces demolish mosque and six houses in the Negev
Palestinian Information Center 12/30/2003
Beer Sheba - Zionist border guards and policemen yesterday encircled the desert village of Qatanat in the Negev south of occupied Palestine and blocked traffic in and out of the town. Eyewitnesses in the Palestinian village said that a number of Zionist tractors were let loose in the town destroying six of its houses at the pretext of lacking construction permits. Inhabitants affirmed that they had tabled construction requests but the Tel Aviv authorities refused to grant them permits. The occupation authorities refuse to recognize this town along with 45 other villages in the Negev desert.

Zionist forces re-occupy Nablus
Palestinian Information Center 12/30/2003
Nablus - Zionist troops advanced into the West Bank city of Nablus less than 24 hours after their withdrawal from the city and imposed a curfew. Zionist armored vehicles advanced from a number of axes into the city suburbs and re-occupied the buildings that were seized in the past few days. Reinforcements, including tanks, armored personnel carriers and a huge tractor were seen storming the old quarters of the city.

'Rising' Jewish Settlers Defy Evacuation Order
Islam Online 12/30/2003
GAZA CITY, December 30 ( & News Agencies) - As Jewish settlers increase in the troubled Middle East, Palestinians are being killed daily by Israeli occupation forces. Rising settler figures were confirmed in a statement from Israel's Interior Ministry Tuesday, December 30, the same day Israeli occupation forces shot dead a young Palestinian man in the southern Gaza Strip, close to the border with Egypt, as reported by Agence France-Presse (AFP). The Ministry revealed that the population of Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories has grown by 16 percent since Prime Minister Ariel Sharon came to power in March 2001.

Israel does little to stop money flow to terror; Shin Bet sets up new unit
Ha'aretz 12/30/2003
For close to two years, the Shin Bet security service monitored the wide-ranging activities of Fatah gunmen suspected of being involved in attacks in the Ramallah area. On one occasion, members of the Fatah's military wing took responsibility for the attacks in a statement sent to the media, yet despite this and other leads, the Shin Bet investigation went nowhere....It eventually established that these attacks had been carried out by a Hamas cell, not Fatah. This discovery led to another mystery - why had Fatah taken credit for attacks it didn't carry out? Shin Bet officials now say this particular riddle is easily deciphered - success in terms of killing Israelis is profitable for the leaders of militant groups.

Breaking News: The army imposes curfew south Jenin
International Middle East Media Center 12/30/2003
The army imposes curfew south Jenin: Troops imposed curfew over Jaba' village near Jenin after a unit of the special forces entered the village using cars Arabic cars which have been, after invading the area, the military attacked a coffee shop which they claimed that some Œwanted' Palestinians were in. / The army invades Rafah and arrests several Palestinians: The military invaded this dawn southeast Rafah when more than 30 tanks and military Jeeps entered that area. Locals said that the invasion was carried out under air coverage by Apache planes, which were shooting heavily towards the houses and the streets. / The army demolishes six houses in the Gaza Strip: Palestinians security sources said that the army demolished with bulldozers Monday six houses during its invasion south Der Al-balah in Gaza....

Fence route is moved, scrapping 2 enclaves
Ha'aretz 12/30/2003
The government is to modify the route of the separation fence after discussions between senior IDF officers and politicians. There will be two major changes in plans for the fence. One is in the area of Baka al-Garbiyeh on the Israeli side of the fence, and Baka al-Sharkiya on the West Bank. The original plan to build barriers to the east and west of Baka al-Sharkiya will be scrapped and residents of the village and its outlying area will not find themselves inside Israeli territory. The fence will instead run between the two villages, conforming mostly to the 1967 Green Line.

Ginot Aryeh settlers to resist dismantlement
Middle East Online 12/30/2003
Notices to quit were posted Tuesday on doors of homes in this West Bank outpost after orders for its dismantling were issued and the army braced for an emotional showdown with the settler inhabitants. Defense ministry officials posted the notices, signed by central region commander General Moshe Kaplinsky, on doors of the prefabricated houses which are home to a handful of families from the nearby settlement of Ofra in the central West Bank, residents said....Plans for the removal of Migron, an outpost which is home to 43 families and was on an original list of eight drawn up earlier this month by Mofaz, have been shelved amid fierce opposition.

Zionist policemen wound Jewish settler
Palestinian Information Center 12/30/2003
Occupied Jerusalem - The state of maximum alert and panic in lines of the Zionist security led one of the policemen to fire at a Jewish settler thinking he was a Palestinian commando on his way to launch an attack. The Zionist army radio said that a Zionist tramp was spotted north of Tel Aviv while carrying a bag on his shoulder and a mobile telephone and Zionist police thought he was a Palestinian resistance fighter. They ordered him to stop but he did not so they showered him with bullets.

Palestinian Bar member survives assassination attempt
Palestinian Information Center 12/30/2003
Gaza - Member of the Palestinian Bar, Mohammed Farraj Al-Gholi, 46, yesterday survived an assassination attempt in the Shati refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. The lawyer, who enjoys great respect in the Strip, said that he was in one of the shops to the east of the refugee camp near the Shati Shuhadaa school when a young man raised a pistol and tried to fire at him. He said, "The pistol did not fire a single bullet, all praises to Allah, and citizens then pursued the youth and caught him".

Court cuts sentence of Palestinian who beat an IDF soldier
Ha'aretz 12/30/2003
The Supreme Court on Tuesday decided to accept the appeal submitted by Walid Habas, 23, who was convicted of beating soldier Assaf Miara in December 1998, and reduced his sentence from seven to five years. However, the court decided not to overturn Habas's conviction as well as the three-year suspended sentence he received....Habas also asked for his sentence to be reduced because he lost an eye after the incident after being shot at by troops at an IDF roadblock.

Flooding at Magedo makes life impossible for Palestinian prisoners
Palestinian Information Center 12/30/2003
Nablus - Palestinian prisoners at Majiddo military prison complained of the severity of the damage caused by the heavy rainfall for the past few days, due to lack of drainage at the prison. In a telephone call, prisoners at Majiddo reported that Section 4, which houses 180 prisoners living in 8 large tents, was overwhelmed by the rainfall causing partial damage to the public library and other electric devices. The rain also brought in some topsoil from outside the prison.

Palestinian prisoners denied proper medical treatment
Palestinian Information Center 12/30/2003
Bethlehem - Lawyers of the Palestinian prisoner's club have said that Palestinian internees in a number of Zionist jails and detention centers were severely tortured and denied proper medical treatment. Nizar Mahajna, Hussein Al-Sheikh and Ma'mon Al-Hushaim quoted the prisoners as saying that they were compelled to sign confessions just to rid themselves of torture while children were forced to sign papers, which they could not understand.

Likud MK said invited to Syria
Ha'aretz 12/30/2003
A Likud legislator has been invited to Syria in order to advance the possibility of resumed Israeli-Syrian diplomacy, and may travel to Egypt to explore opportunities for such a process, following recent remarks by Syrian leader Bashar Assad indicating openness for new talks, Israel Radio reported Tuesday....A spokesman for Sharon would not comment on the report. Sharon's office told the radio that if the visit does take place, it will not be at the prime minister's behest. Aides to the prime minister said that Damascus would still need to take numerous steps, in particular, halting aid to terror groups, before Israel could return to peace talks.

President Arafat Calls to Israeli Withdrawal from Palestinian Territories and Halt of Apartheid Wall
International Press Center 12/30/2003
RAMALLAH, Palestine, December 30, 2003 (IPC + WAFA) - - The Palestinian President Yasser Arafat called to the withdrawal of the Israeli occupying forces from the Palestinian territories an immediate cease of the construction of the Apartheid wall and colonial Jewishsettlement activities.

PA dismisses evacuation of outposts as publicity stunt
Ha'aretz 12/30/2003
The Palestinian Authority has criticized Israel's decision to remove four unauthorized settlement outposts, saying the move is a publicity stunt that falls below the requirements of the U.S.-backed road map peace plan. The comments came as head of Central Command Moshe Kaplinski issued an order that will make it possible to expedite legal proceedings and dismantle the outposts.

Ya'alon: rules of engagement may be changed
Jerusalem Post 12/30/2003
The IDF may change the rules of engagement along the security fence as a result of its probe into the shooting of an Israeli and an American last Friday during a demonstration, Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon said Tuesday. Ya'alon, who was speaking to members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said the initial probe into the incident has already been completed and the results of the full investigation would be released within a few days.

MK Bishara in hospital after feeling unwell
Jerusalem Post 12/30/2003
Balad MK Azmi Bishara underwent a medical examination at Jerusalem's Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital after saying he was feeling unwell. Hospital officials said Bishara is fully conscious and is undergoing heart tests.

Union for Environmental Defense: National Water Carrier polluted
Globes 12/30/2003
Wells for drinking water in the Dan region are polluted. Israel has only 7 sq.m. of green space per person, compared with 20 sq.m. per person in the West. -- Israel was on the way to becoming a Third World country in 2003: more crowded and more polluted, according to the Israel Union for Environmental Defense environmental poverty report for 2003....The Union for Environmental Defense claims that its 2003 report shows that the average Israeli citizen is helpless against polluting developers and tycoons, and that the well-known link between capital and power continues to operate, harming the rights, health, and lives of Israel's citizens, and the country's environment.

Police tapped 72,000 of Appel's phone calls, his lawyers claim
Ha'aretz 12/30/2003
The defense team for the contractor David Appel, headed by lawyers Alan Dershowitz and Eldad Yaniv, yesterday claimed that the police had listened to 72,000 telephone conversations made by their client and had transcribed many of them. They were speaking at a news conference called to defend Appel.

PM, ministers to discuss Iran's nuclear monitoring policy
Ha'aretz 12/30/2003
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will convene a special ministerial forum on Wednesday to discuss Iran's agreeing to expand international monitoring on its nuclear facilities. The ministers are expected to focus on Israel's possible options in wake of the decision, to insure that Iran live up to its commitments. The ministers taking part in the meeting will be Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Minister of Industry and Trade Ehud Olmert, Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Justice Minister Yosef Lapid and Minister without portfolio Uzi Landau.

Green group points to plethora of environmental hazards countrywide
Ha'aretz 12/30/2003
Adam Teva V'Din report says citizens rights are being trampled by well-connected entrepreneurs-- Heaps of used hypodermic needles, contaminated bandages and discarded drug containers litter an open plot in Umm Batin that most of the Bedouin village's children use as a playground. Umm Batin, located in the Negev, is an unrecognized village and, therefore, there is no one to deal with the medical waste from a nearby clinic that has accumulated in the area.

MKs decry addiction tests for immigrants
Ha'aretz 12/30/2003
A proposal to prevent people addicted to drugs or alcohol from immigrating to Israel until they complete treatment has come under fire in the Knesset's Immigration and Absorption Committee. Yigal Yasinov, MK (Shinui) said committee chair Colette Avital's suggestion "would turn our consulate in Russia into a Judenrat (Nazi appointed Jewish Council) and the consuls into kapos `selecting' immigrants." Michael Nudelman, MK (National Union) said: "How will we look in the eyes of the Russians if we tell them to keep their alcoholics and drug addicts for themselves while we can take only the young and fit. It is forbidden to select among immigrants and we will not allow it."

Govt. suspends acquisitions of Microsoft software
Jerusalem Post 12/30/2003
The Israeli government has suspended its acquisitions of new computer software from Microsoft, citing price issues and the U.S. company's refusal to sell individual programs from its standard software package, the Finance Ministry said Tuesday. A spokeswoman for the ministry, which oversees government purchases, said the government would use the company's existing products for the time being. She did not know when purchases of new software would resume.

Budget haggling may cost NIS 400 million
Ha'aretz 12/30/2003
Knesset approval of the 2004 state budget may cost an additional NIS 400 million to meet the demands of three parties whose support is needed to win a majority to support it. The money will be earmarked for various causes set by Shinui, the NRP and the National Union. The NIS 400 million does not include reductions in the cuts to education and health, which the budget provides for.

MKs cheat on TV show IQ test
Jerusalem Post 12/30/2003
Knesset members finished in the middle of the pack in a televised IQ test against groups like models and lawyers - and that was after they cheated. Sunday's segment of the reality-TV series "Test of the Nation" had the groups taking the IQ test simultaneously, as viewers joined in from their homes. Lawyers finished first, models and bodybuilders near the bottom, and the members of parliament in between. But on Tuesday, Haim Katz, a member of parliament from the ruling Likud Party, admitted that his six-person team cheated, sharing answers with each other.

Report: Only the rich keep getting richer
Ha'aretz 12/30/2003
The economic situation of Israel's richest 10 percent improved in the past decade, while the situation of all others - including for the first time the upper middle classes - deteriorated, according to the annual report of Adva Center for Equality and Social Justice. The report, based on Central Bureau of Statistics figures, showed that despite the recession of the past two years, the earnings of Israel's richest 10 percent kept going up.

Foreign cos received 41% of gov't grants in 2003
Globes 12/30/2003
Foreign-owned companies received $252 million in January-November. -- 41% of the investments approved by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor Israel Investments Center during 2003 went to foreign-owned enterprises, according to a copy of the Investment Center's annual report obtained by "Globes"....The Investment Center approved $136 million in 98 grants in January-November 2002, as well as the extraordinary $3.5 billion grant to Intel (Nasdaq:INTC).

Strum: Israel not more open to imports than US
Globes 12/30/2003
Antitrust Authority director general Dror Strum criticized a Business Data Israel (BDI) study published yesterday. -- "Even if Israeli customs duties for certain goods are lower than those in the US, it's impossible to claim that this figure and the figures for import quotas are valid measures of the degree of competitiveness and openness of the Israeli economy," said Antitrust Authority director general Dror Strum today in response to a Business Data Israel (BDI) study published yesterday. The BDI study claimed that Israel's economy is very open to competitive imports by international standards. In some cases, it is even more open than the US.

Liberty Properties liquidating Israeli business
Globes 12/30/2003
The company has opened negotiations to sell the 6,000-sq.m. commercial center at Century Tower in Tel Aviv for $10 million. -- Liberty Properties (TASE:LBRT) (formerly Shekem Real Estate) plans to renovate all its properties in Israel, in order to sell them and invest the proceeds [in] overseas real estate, Liberty Properties CEO Boaz Kamer and owners' representative Daniel Salkind told "Globes" today.

Palestinian Nation Mourns Ahmad Al Dajani's Death
International Press Center 12/30/2003
GAZA, December 30, 2003 (IPC) - - On December 29, 2003 a great influential Palestinian intellectual and scholar passed away, after a life of achievements and contributions to the Palestinian cause and its people's struggles. Ahmad Al Dajani, the prominent Palestinian intellectual and one of the first founders of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), died yesterday night in his home in Egypt, after carrying the burdens of the Palestinian cause and defending it in various arenas.

Lebanese musician Munir Khauli opens up about his life
Daily Star 12/30/2003
Composer writes and sings songs about country's unsatisfactory conditions -- Munir Khauli speaks with the ease and style of someone who works with words. The work of this 44-year-old musician is characterized by highly polished and meaningful lyrics. His serious face hides his tireless self-deprecating humor which "allows (him) to make fun of everyone else." The album he released in September, Tannin al-Tarab, is the fruit of a long process that took him overseas and back again.

An immoral army
By Roman Bronfman, Ha'aretz 12/30/2003
   Shaul Mofaz is by all means worthy of admiration for the series of positions he held during his long period of military service. In his last position in uniform, Mofaz will be remembered mainly for the immense efforts he invested in the media arena, when he sought to underscore the IDF's image as "the most moral army in the world." Last Friday's events, in which soldiers of "the most moral army in the world" used live fire to disperse demonstrators protesting the separation fence, casts heavy doubt on the accuracy of the image that Mofaz sought to impart to the organization he led. It may have been an innocent coincidence, or perhaps a tragic error, but the grave events are taking place under the baton of Mofaz, this time as defense minister.

Criticism of Israel is not Anti-Semitism
By Michael Neumann, CounterPunch 12/30/2003
   There Are Much Larger Threats -- Jewish and non-Jewish commentators alike have deplored a recent upsurge in anti-Semitism. In Europe, journalist Andrew Sullivan says, "Not since the 1930s has such blithe hatred of Jews gained this much respectability in world opinion."

Building a Counter-AIPAC
By Josh Ruebner, Alternative Information Center 12/30/2003
   Henry David Thoreau, arguably the greatest American philosopher and practitioner of nonviolent resistance to injustice, recognized that the U.S. political system is particularly prone to the pernicious influence of foreign interests. In his classic essay, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, Thoreau wrote: "I quarrel not with far-off foes, but with those who, near at home, cooperate with, and do the bidding of those far away, and without whom the latter would be harmless."

Something's afoot along the fence
By Ze'ev Schiff, Ha'aretz 12/30/2003
   Along the route of the fence being built to separate Israel from the occupied territories important changes are afoot. These will reroute the fence in certain sensitive places after senior political and Israel Defense Forces leaders reached an understanding. On the main concept of the fence, it is clear that those who advocate priority for the military and security considerations have suddenly gained the upper hand. On the practical side, this means there is no need for all the enclaves and the double fences that make life very difficult for Palestinians.

The Same Game, the Same Players
By Ghassan Andoni, International Middle East Media Center 12/30/2003
   On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz both signed the order, paving the way for the four settler's illegal (unauthorized) outposts to be removed.

   The Palestinian Authority on Monday criticized Israel's decision to remove the four illegal settlement outposts, saying the move was a publicity stunt.

In Pursuit of Survival and Dominance
Editorial, Miftah 12/30/2003
   Since coming into power, Ahmad Qurei, much like his predecessor, has had only one plan, which centers on achieving a unilateral Palestinian ceasefire, with the hopes that this would lead to a truce with the Israelis. Skepticism regarding the ability to bring Hamas in line led many to declare the Cairo talks a failure, as Hamas appeared resolute in continuing its militant activities. Yet, most of the media and many analysts failed to realize that while Hamas remains relatively young and inexperienced, its long term goal has always been to grow into the more prestigious realm of politics.

Young Palestinian prisoners at Ofer threatened with rape
Palestinian Information Center 12/30/2003
Nablus - Palestinian prisoners at Ofer Prison revealed that they are being threatened with sexual assaults to extract confessions.The prisoners reported that the most prominent of these abuses is the treatment received by Druze prison guards who carry out the racist policy of humiliating prisoners during searches. They force prisoners to strip and anyone who refuses is beaten up isolated in solitary confinement.

Histadrut: Gov't reneged on deals
Ha'aretz 12/30/2003
The Histadrut yesterday accused the government of reneging on the agreements the two sides had reached and announced that the public sector will continue striking. "The Civil Service Commission revoked a large part of the agreements regarding the structural changes, so we are not stopping the sanctions," said Ofer Einy, the chair of the public sector's union in the Histadrut. Civil Service Commissioner Shmuel Hollander called Einy's accusations "negotiating tactics." In fact, the differences between the parties had narrowed down greatly and "we are on the verge of an agreement," Hollander said.

Infrastructures Ministry: No nuclear powered plants in coming decade
Globes 12/30/2003
Director general Eli Ronen: Israel's power capacity must be doubled to 25MW by 2025. -- Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Eli Ronen told Army Radio last Friday that nuclear power stations would probably not be built in Israel in the coming decade. Ronen said, "The issue of nuclear power is taboo in Israel. It should be taken into account that the bulk of power in some European countries, such as France, is produced by nuclear power." Ronen said activity was focusing on preserving land, mostly in the Negev, for the construction of power stations in the future.

PNA Dismiss Removal of Jewish Outposts as "Stunt"
International Press Center 12/30/2003
RAMALLAH, Palestine, December 30, 2003 (IPC + Agencies) - - In response to the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's decision to dismantle four illegitimate Jewish settlement outposts, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) disregarded it on Monday as a "stunt". The Palestinian chief negotiator, Dr. Sa'eb Erekat, in a statement, said the decision "is a media show that no longer has audiences." "I think the world is sick and tired of these public relations stunts - Israelis moving a caravan here and a caravan there," Erekat told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Sharon, Shalom disagree on Syrian overtures
Jerusalem Post 12/30/2003
The Prime Minister's Office and the Foreign Ministry disagree over how to handle recent Syrian conciliatory overtures, diplomatic officials said Tuesday. According to the officials, while the Foreign Ministry wants to seriously look into the whether the overtures can be the basis for restarting negotiations between Syria and Israel, the Prime Minister's Office – while paying lip service to the idea that Israel is interested in pursing peace with all its neighbors – doesn't want to throw a "life raft" to the Syrians who are currently in a weak position internationally.

December 29 2003 The Aggressive Campaign on the Palestinian Communities
Jerusalemites/Union of Health Care Committees 12/29/2003
Nablus City & its camps particularly Balata Refugee Camp are under severe Israeli raid; Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) are present in all parts of the city; & since their arrival UHCC‚s Medical teams has spread in those areas to offer medical aid to injured & wounded. Yesterday morning (Friday 26/12/2003) at Rafidia neighborhood a youngster got a rubber bullet in his feet, one of our paramedics was at the scene of event; “Rami Shamlawi‰ approached the youngster to aid him; but he was surprised to see an Israeli patrol full of soldiers (five including the driver) come near him, stepped out of the vehicle, & started beaten him up with their guns‚ ends, hands, & feet allover his body, Rami was admitted to Rafidia Hospital for treatment. Festival relives Bedouin heritage
Al-Jazeera 12/29/2003
Somewhere between the dunes and oases of southern Tunisia, where urban life once seduced Bedouin nomads into settling down, a festival has been giving a glimpse of a not-so-distant past. The 36th International Sahara Festival, held 600km south of Tunis in the city of Douz over the weekend, drew locals and tourists alike for a cultural event that celebrates the region’s heritage and desert peoples….Many of the artists and jockeys come from desert countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Kuwait, Niger and Sudan, although participants have also journeyed France, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Russia, and even South Korea. Photo story: Dancing towards freedom
Electronic Intifada 12/29/2003
Comprised of teenagers from the Dheisheh Refugee Camp in the West Bank, the Ibdaa dance troupe performs internationally, has been featured in documentaries, and are no strangers to the press. And while to some this may seem like a glamorous lifestyle, to the performers it’s anything but. Having to repeatedly communicate to American audiences the every day struggles that come with life under military occupation is disheartening when they return to the West Bank to find that the status quo of curfews and human losses continues unabated while the whole world watches. The terror threat at home, often overlooked
Christian Science Monitor 12/29/2003
HOUSTON ˆ It began as a misdelivered envelope and developed into the most extensive domestic terrorism investigation since the Oklahoma City bombing. Last month, an east Texas man pleaded guilty to possession of a weapon of mass destruction. Inside the home and storage facilities of William Krar, investigators found a sodium-cyanide bomb capable of killing thousands, more than a hundred explosives, half a million rounds of ammunition, dozens of illegal weapons, and a mound of white-supremacist and antigovernment literature. “Without question, it ranks at the very top of all domestic terrorist arrests in the past 20 years in terms of the lethality of the arsenal,” says Daniel Levitas, author of “The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia Movement and the Radical Right.” But outside Tyler, Texas, the case is almost unknown. In the past nine months, there have been two government press releases and a handful of local stories, but no press conference and no coverage in the national newspapers. On the Concrete Wall
By Fadi Kiblawi, Palestine Chronicle 12/29/2003
In 1923, amidst growing unrest within the Zionist movement, Ha‚aretz published an article by Ze‚ev Jabotinsky entitled, “On the Iron Wall (We and the Arabs),‰ promulgating the fundamental principles of his Revisionist offshoot. Central to his credo was the notion that the Palestinians, like any native peoples, “will resist alien settlers as long as they see any hope∑‰ Accordingly, Jabotinsky proposed, “settlement can thus develop under the protection of a force that is not dependent on the local population, behind an iron wall which they will be powerless to break down.‰ The effects of the Israeli movement restriction on Palestinian health care
By Amineh Ishtay, Jerusalemites 12/28/2003
Since the beginning of the second Intifada (28th September, 2000), Israeli occupation forces (IOF) have been attacking Palestinian civilians by using heavy weaponry from land, air and sea. As a result, around 2744 Palestinians were killed, thousands injured and a big number became disabled. The Jewish Choice
By Susan Abulhawa, Palestine Chronicle 12/29/2003
I gave a talk on Thursday to a group of bright students from Council Rock South HS. Of course, it was about the Palestine/Israel conflict. I knew that most of the students were Jewish and likely to have strong opinions, but I was not prepared, initially at least, for an onslaught before I had presented less than five minutes of my talk. The gist of their questions and comments boiled down to a belief that the land between the Mediterranean and Jordan River rightfully belongs to Israel and that Palestinians, who have existed on that land for centuries, millennia even, are but trespassers, squatter, mere accidents of history.

Israeli Soldiers Kill Three Palestinians :
Israeli soldiers Sunday killed three Palestinians near a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip, and Israeli leaders signed orders to evacuate four settlement outposts in the West Bank, Israeli media reported.,1280,-3560943,00.html

Israel targets Jerusalem's Palestinians:
A law passed by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government in the late 1990s, declared that any Palestinian who has not lived in the city for seven continuous years loses his residency rights. The Netanyahu law, whose time limit has since been changed to three years, does not apply to Israeli Jews.

Senior UK bishop criticizes Israeli treatment of Palestinians :
"When I see what's been done to the Palestinians over the past 50 years, I say, 'Well I'm sorry, but if you put people behind barbed wire, keep them caged, take their land despite international resolutions, and bulldoze their homes, you are asking for trouble."

IOF Kills Three Palestinians in Gaza, Partially Redeploys Around Nablus
International Press Center 12/29/2003
GAZA, Palestine, December 29, 2003 (IPC + Agencies)-- The Israeli occupying forces (IOF) opened fire and killed three Palestinians near an illegitimate Jewish settlement, while partially redeploying around the city of Nablus and its outskirts. The Israeli occupying forces stationed near the illegitimate Jewish settlement of "Nitzarim", south of Gaza City, opened fire early Monday morning and killed three Palestinian citizens, Palestinian security sources said. Israeli military sources claimed that the Palestinians were killed after firing home-made mortars at the aforementioned settlement, inflicting neither casualties nor damages....A contingent of IOF troop invaded today morning Qulqelia city from the northern and eastern axis, WAFA reported....IOF continued to close all its military checkpoints in the face of incoming and outgoing traffic in Nablus City, thus disrupting the economic and academic life in the once-prosperous city.

Palestinians gunned down in Gaza
Al-Jazeera 12/29/2003
Three Palestinians were reportedly shot dead by Israeli occupation army fire overnight on Sunday near the Jewish settlement of Netzarim in the Gaza Strip. Israel Radio said three armed Palestinians approached the isolated settlement southwest of Gaza City, late on Sunday. Israeli tanks opened fire at them and killed them. Many armed Palestinian activists were spotted late afternoon on Sunday near the Netzarim settlement (in the northern Gaza Strip) from where mortar shells were fired, injuring no one," said an occupation force source.

PRCS Employee Shot and Killed in Gaza Strip
Miftah/Palestine Red Crescent Society 12/29/2003
At 12:30 p.m. on Friday the (26 Dec. 2003), Adnan Abu-Jwead, died due to previous injuries in his abdomen sustained on Thursday (08:00am) the previous day. Adnan had been a PRCS employee at Al-Amal Compound as a Maintenance Technician. He sustained his fatal injuries by an Israeli Army sporadic shooting while he was at his home, which is located near Gan Ital settlement (West of Khan Younis).

Jewish Settlers Assault Palestinian Citizen, IOF Lock Down Bethlehem
International Press Center 12/29/2003
HEBRON, Palestine, December 29, 2003 (IPC + Agencies) - - A gang of armed Jewish settlers physically assaulted a Palestinian citizen in the town of Halhoul, while the Israeli occupying forces raided wide areas of the city of Hebron. Concurrently, the Israeli forces completely locked down the Bethlehem governorate and prevented incoming and outgoing traffic as Christmas eve was drawing closer. Palestinian security and medical sources in Hebron mentioned that a Palestinian citizen was wounded today afternoon when a gang of armed Jewish settlers physically abused him.

Israeli troops fighting 'crats' in West Bank
Middle East Online 12/29/2003
JERUSALEM - Israeli soldiers stationed in the West Bank are battling against a new breed of ruthless attackers - giant rats whose numbers are multiplying at an alarming rate. The troops guarding a Jewish enclave in the town of Hebron have dubbed the creatures "crats", as they are nearly as large as cats. One soldier has been treated in hospital for rabies after being bitten on the ear while two others have been nibbled in recent weeks. "In the past few weeks the rats have been more frightening than the terrorists," one soldier told the Maariv daily, referring to Palestinian militants.

Debate Over Israel's Barrier Heats Up
The Guardian 12/29/2003
JERUSALEM (AP) - The army's shooting of an American and an Israeli peace protester has angered Israelis and sparked renewed debate over a controversial West Bank barrier and the army's rules of engagement. Israel says the barrier - made up of concrete walls, razor wire, fences and trenches - is meant to keep suicide bombers out. Palestinians condemn the barrier, which dips deep into the West Bank in some areas, as a land grab....By Sunday, the airwaves were clogged with Cabinet ministers, army officials and peace activists fervently arguing over the incident. ``An order to fire on people that do not fire on you is a completely illegal order,'' said Ami Ayalon, a former head of Israel's Shin Bet security service.,1280,-3558434,00.html

Israel destroys eight structures, mosque in Bedouin village
Al-Bawaba 12/29/2003
Bulldozers sent by the Israeli Interior Ministry, on Monday destroyed eight structures and a mosque in a Bedouin village located in the Naqab (Negev). The residents of the area were furious over what they described as disrespect for their religion and vowed that "What was destroyed will be rebuilt". The Israeli Interior Ministry refused to comment on its latest operation. "A country that doesn't respect religious sentiments is one that crosses the line", a Bedouin Negev resident told Yediot Aharonot website after bulldozers ruined a mosque and eight structures near the Ara'ra village, in accordance with an Interior Ministry order.

Police question Israeli shot by IDF troops during fence protest
Ha'aretz 12/29/2003
The police questioned wounded fence protester Gil Na'amati under warning on Sunday, while the Israel Defense Forces were conducting two separate investigations into the shooting of Na'amati by Israeli troops on Friday during a protest by unarmed demonstrators against the separation fence in the West Bank....Na'amati's father, Uri, said he advised his son to exercise his right to remain silent and the investigator decided not to press him for answers at this stage in light of Na'amat's medical condition.

Israel targets Jerusalem's Palestinians
Al-Jazeera 12/29/2003
Yasir Abu Mghair lives in the Jerusalem suburb of Beit Safafa. His wife of seven years comes from Yabta village near Hebron. However, since Yasir is an Israeli resident, he cannot visit Yabta without prior planning and, due to an Israeli law passed last summer, his wife who holds a West Bank identity card cannot stay with him in Jerusalem. As a result, the Abu Mghair family lives incognito, avoiding checkpoints, hospitals and government institutions. The law is the latest in a series of measures by the Israeli government, aimed at reducing the number of Palestinians living in Jerusalem.

Losses of the Health Sector in Tulkarem Governorate by IOF
International Press Center 12/29/2003
TULKAREM, Palestine, December 29, 2003 (IPC)-- The health sector in the governorate of Tulkarem has suffered, since the eruption of the Al Aqsa Intifada 38 months ago, great losses in its resources, whether on the human level or the technical one. According to the information gathered by the IPC in Tulkarem, the Israeli occupying forces (IOF) has killed three Palestinian members of the medical teams...wounded several medics and medical relief workers while performing their humane duty...[and] inflicted losses to the health sector, such as the raid on the Al Zakah hospital on August 26, 2002.

Israel Hampers Local and International Figures Protesting Apartheid Wall
International Press Center 12/29/2003
WEST BANK, Palestine, December 28, 2003 (IPC + Agencies)-- The Israeli occupying forces (IOF) opened fire and threw tear gas canisters Saturday towards participants in a peace rally organized by the National Campaign to Resist the Apartheid Wall, which Israel is constructing in Qalqilya City. The rally aims to start a campaign against the Apartheid Wall, considered as a catastrophe to the Palestinians as it occupies hundreds of miles of Palestinian land.

PCHR calls for an investigation into a murder in Gaza Central Prison
Islamic Association for Palestine/Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 12/29/2003
29 December 2003 -- PCHR strongly condemns a murder that took place on Sunday morning, 28 December 2003, at Gaza Central Prison in the Gaza Strip. An armed young man disguised as a policeman entered the prison during visiting hours and shot ŒAwni Mohammed Abu Es'ayed, 29, from Nusseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. Abu Es'ayed was in prison awaiting execution for the criminal offence of murder. PCHR condemns any attempt by Palestinian individuals to circumvent the rule of law, and calls for a full and impartial investigation into this crime. The blatant nature of the murder suggests that an inquiry is necessary to determine whether law enforcement officials failed to fulfill their duties under the Palestinian National Authority's Law of Rehabilitation Centers- Prisons (Law 6 of 1998).

ACRI petitions Supreme Court: open access points in separation barrier
Association for Civil Rights in Israel 12/29/2003
The gates are almost continually closed leaving the local population imprisoned in isolated enclaves.-- ACRI submitted a petition yesterday to the Supreme Court against the Israel Defense Forces, calling for the opening of the access points of the separation barrier in such a way as to facilitate a permanent access arrangement for the population of the adjacent villages including the passage of vehicles, agricultural tools, and mechanized equipment. The petition was submitted by ACRI Attorney Fatmeh El-A'jou, on behalf of five Palestinians, residents of four of the villages bordering the separation barrier.

High Court petitioned against fence
Ha'aretz 12/29/2003
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) yesterday filed a petition to the High Court of Justice against the Israel Defense Forces on behalf of five West Bank village residents who have been cut off from their lands due to the separation fence. The five Palestinians are demanding the opening of crossing points in the fence. This security barrier not only cuts the Palestinians off from their lands, the petitioners argued, but also separates "workers from their places of employment, students from schools, patients from treatment centers, and between residents and their families."

TIPH: Witnesses to the occupation
Al-Jazeera 12/29/2003
Nearly seven years after the multinational TIPH Mission in Hebron [Temporary International Presence in Hebron] came into existence, it is still unclear when the mission will end. The activities and presence of Jewish settlers in the divided city are the main reasons behind the need for this continued international presence. In 1994, when a Jewish extremist massacred 29 Arab worshippers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, the international community pressured Israel to allow the redeployment of scores of international civilian observers in the city "to provide a feeling of security" to the Palestinians.

PM: Syria talks must start from scratch
Ha'aretz 12/29/2003
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon yesterday told his cabinet that any negotiations with Syria would start from scratch. In response to a question from Science and Technology Minister Eliezer Sandberg, who asked whether negotiations with Syria would begin from the point at which they broke off under then-prime minister Ehud Barak in 2000, Sharon said that "in the event of talks between Israel and Syria, they will start from scratch." Sharon rejected reports that agreement had been reached on 80 percent of the issues between Jerusalem and Damascus."

Syria pushes WMD-free Mideast
Christian Science Monitor 12/29/2003
Monday the UN Security Council is set to discuss Syria's draft resolution, which is aimed at Israel. -- BEIRUT, LEBANON – Libya's decision to abandon its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs has helped resurrect an Arab call for a Middle East free of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Syria and Israel, bitter enemies, are coming under intensified pressure to give up their WMD programs. But neither country is likely to comply before a regional peace treaty is signed, analysts say. And with Saudi Arabia reportedly considering acquiring nuclear weapons, prospects for an imminent WMD-free zone in the volatile region look bleak.

Mossa Urges to Compile Documented Proof Ahead of ICJ Hearing over the Apartheid Wall
International Press Center 12/29/2003
GAZA, Palestine, December 29, 2003 (IPC + Agencies)-- The Secretary General of the League of Arab States, Amre Mossa, urged the member states to set forth documented proof to clear the image over the adverse impacts of the Apartheid Wall, built by Israel around and through the West Bank. According to Mr. Mossa, the proof would be a bedrock for the Arab league that is intended to file against Tel Aviv in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague.

Erekat: Israel Will Never Find a Palestinian Partner Had It Implemented Unilateral Steps
International Press Center 12/29/2003
GAZA, Palestine, December 29, 2003 (IPC + Agencies)-- Dr. Sa'eb Erekat, the Palestinian Chief Negotiator, viewed the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's appointment of a prominent officer to head a special committee for implementing unilateral steps as a true intent by Sharon to move ahead in implementing the disengagement.

Jordan's Hassan: Sharon pragmatic, but cannot find a partner
Ha'aretz 12/29/2003
Prince Hassan bin Talal, uncle of Jordan's King Abdullah and a former heir to the throne of the Hashemite kingdom, has told an Italian newspaper that he sees Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as a pragmatic man, who wants security for his people, but is unable to find a partner on the Palestinian side with whom to conduct negotiations.

Israel shelves Migron outpost's removal
Middle East Online 12/29/2003
Israel pushed ahead Monday with plans to evacuate a handful of Jewish outposts in the West Bank but held back from dismantling a potential flashpoint settlement, as a clampdown on the Palestinian territories was eased. Justice Minister Tommy Lapid said a government order had been issued to speed up the evacuation of four "rogue" Jewish settlements in the West Bank, at the same time shelving the removal of the more controversial Migron outpost.

Four Arutz Sheva managers handed jail sentences, fines
Ha'aretz 12/29/2003
The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court handed down jail sentences ranging from three to six months to four former managers of the pirate Arutz Sheva radio station on Monday. In addition, the four were handed fines of several thousand shekels each. Several hundred demonstrators congregated outside the Jerusalem courtroom and condemned the sentences.

Sharon separation plan gathers steam
Al-Jazeera 12/29/2003
The Israeli prime minister has said his incoming security adviser will prepare unilateral steps that will strip Palestinians of territory if a US-backed peace plan fails. Word that Giora Eiland, a major general who is leaving the army to head the National Security Council, would start work on Ariel Sharon's so-called Disengagement Plan coincided with a resurgence of occupation initiated violence battering the already troubled "road map" peace plan.

Israel orders outpost evacuation
BBC 12/29/2003
Israel's prime minister has signed orders to dismantle four unauthorised settlers' outposts in the West Bank. Ariel Sharon used a new procedure for the first time which allows for rapid evacuation, Israeli TV reports. Settlers have vowed to resist the removal of the posts peacefully, while others have accused Mr Sharon of planning to create new boundaries. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces killed three Palestinian militants near a Jewish settlement overnight.

NRP's Eitam: We will support removal of 4 illegal outposts
Ha'aretz 12/29/2003
The head of the Israel Defense Force's Central Command, Major General Moshe Kaplinski, signed Monday an order for the removal of four unauthorized West Bank outposts. On Sunday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz both signed the order, paving the way for the four settlements to be removed. Those wishing to challenge the orders now have three days to petition the Civil Administration's planning department. Thereafter, they have three days to petition the High Court against the decision.

Sharon criticizes use of live ammo against Israeli protesters
Ha'aretz 12/29/2003
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon yesterday criticized the behavior of Israel Defense Forces soldiers on Friday during a demonstration against the security fence in the West Bank during which an Israeli protester was seriously wounded when soldiers used live fire to disperse the demonstrators. Sharon told his ministers during the weekly cabinet meeting that the outcome of the incident was unacceptable and that "such events should be dealt with by using crowd dispersal methods." He did add, however, that damage to the security fence must be prevented.

Cabinet backs bill to legalize Arutz Sheva
Ha'aretz 12/29/2003
The cabinet yesterday approved a legislative initiative that would legalize broadcasts of the Arutz Sheva pirate radio station, which serves as a mouthpiece for the Jewish settlers' movement. The proposed legislation does not mention Arutz Sheva by name. Instead, it gives the government authority to grant licenses to radio stations serving particular constituencies, cultures or traditions.

Shooting of activist spurs Israeli scrutiny
Christian Science Monitor 12/29/2003
JERUSALEM – With more than 2,200 Palestinians killed in the West Bank and Gaza and a great many more injured by army gunfire during three years of fighting, the wounding of a young man during a demonstration would not be expected to make headlines in Israel. But Sunday, hardly a newscast went by without mention of the man's condition, and his shooting ignited calls for an independent inquiry. This time, the soldiers had shot an Israeli, a kibbutznik who himself was wearing an army uniform until a few weeks ago.

Knesset authorizes compensation to common-law couples
Ha'aretz 12/29/2003
The Shinui Party successfully pushed through a first reading in the Knesset on Monday a bill granting common-law couples with the legal recognition now accorded married partners for the purpose of receiving compensation payments. This status means that the National Insurance Institute will cover such couples in cases of accidents just as it does for married couples. The bill's initiators - Shinui MKs Ronnie Brizon, Reshef Chen, Yigal Yasinov, Ilan Leibowitz, Melli Polishuk-Bloch and Ehud Ratzabi - explained that the current law does not specifically designate common-law couples as partners, thus it is necessary to clarify in the law that the term "partners" includes both common-law as well as homosexual and lesbian couples.

Israeli PM orders preparation of disengagement plan
Jang Group 12/29/2003
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pushed ahead on Sunday with a controversial plan to disengage from the peace process as new talks aimed at securing a ceasefire from Palestinian militants were lined up. Sharon appointed a general as the head of a new national security council with orders to prepare the disengagement plan which would involve the setting up of a new "security border", a statement from the premier's office said.

Poland buys thousands of anti-tank missiles
Jerusalem Post 12/29/2003
Israeli and Polish defense officials signed an agreement Monday to provide the new NATO nation with Rafael's Spike LR, anti-tank missile to the Polish Ground Forces. The deal was signed at a special ceremony at the premises of the Polish company Mesko, in Skarzysko. The deal was so important for Poland that their Minister of National Defense Jerzy Szmajdzinski was on hand to sign it.

Bank of Israel lowers interest rate another 0.4 percent
Ha'aretz 12/29/2003
Bank of Israel Governor David Klein surprised no one by lowering interest rates for January by 0.4 percent Monday afternoon. The expected announcement marked the 10th time in 2003 that the governor lowered rates, starting at 8.9 percent at the beginning of the year and ending at 4.8 percent for January 2004.

Poland, Israel sign missile deal
Christian Science Monitor 12/29/2003
Warsaw reaps rewards for its politically risky support of the US-led war in Iraq. -- After going out on a limb as one of the United States' staunchest allies in the war in Iraq, Poland is starting to see some payback. The latest reward comes not from the US but from Israel in the form of a ten-year missile contract valued at around $350 million. The anti-tank "Spike LR" missiles, which can be shoulder-fired, will be produced in Poland under license from the state-owned Israeli Rafael arms corporation by the Polish firm Mesko, reports the Associated Press.

Rafael to sign $250 million deal with Polish army
Ha'aretz 12/29/2003
A delegation of senior Defense Ministry officials, headed by the ministry's director general Amos Yaron will leave Sunday for Poland to sign a deal with the Polish army for the sale of anti-tank missiles manufacture by the Rafael Armament Development Authority. The Polish defense minister will attend the signing ceremony that will be held Monday in Warsaw.

Belgium's Malcolm X? Dyab Abu Jahjah makes an impact
Daily Star 12/29/2003
Boy from South Lebanon gains notoriety in the political debate and on the barricades - and in his recently published book - on behalf of Europe's Arab immigrants -- He's handsome, intelligent, fluent in Flemish, yet born in Lebanon. Loved by some, hated by many, Dyab Abu Jahjah is known as Belgium's own Malcolm X. He's the founder of the Arab European League (AEL), an organization that speaks out for the rights of Arab and Muslim immigrants. As such, he's also been called a threat to society in Belgium and Holland. So, who is Dyab Abu Jahjah and what are people so afraid of? To answer these questions and others, Jahjah recently published a book, Between Two Worlds: The Roots of a Freedom Struggle.

Arabs and Jews begin journey of trust
Sydney Morning Herald 12/29/2003
Eight Palestinians and Israelis have embarked on an expedition to Antarctica, pledging to forge strong bonds despite the hostilities between their peoples. The group will climb an unnamed and unexplored mountain near the Bruce Plateau, after sailing 1000 kilometres across treacherous seas from southern Chile. Their expedition is called Breaking the Ice. The goal of the 35-day sea and land journey is to build immense trust between the team members - four Arabs and four Jews - by giving them a common goal that will put them in life-and-death situations. "I'm not naive and I know we are not going to change the world or bring peace," said Doron Erel, a professional mountain climber and one of the initiators of the project.

Book review: A deafening silence
Ha'aretz 12/29/2003
Unconscionable or excusable? A look at the actions of the Jewish community in South Africa through the darkest period of apartheid rule- "Community and Conscience: The Jews in Apartheid South Africa" by Gideon Shimoni, published by Brandeis University Press/University Press of New England and David Philip, $32.79 -- Most of South Africa's Jews originated from Lithuania and stepped from oppression there into a society in which their "white" skin color instantly and automatically made them oppressors. They became part of the white minority that ruled over the black majority.

Palestinian - Belgian association for Geneva human rights convention implementation
Arabic News 12/29/2003
A great number of members of the Palestinian-Belgian Association (PBA) stressed on Saturday the necessity of the implementation of the relevant international resolutions and for respecting the Geneva convention on human rights. Participants who gathered in front of the Israeli Embassy in Brussels called for stopping the building of the separation wall in the West Bank, and for ending the Israeli occupation.

Senior UK bishop criticizes Israeli treatment of Palestinians
Ha'aretz 12/29/2003
LONDON - One of Britain's most senior Anglican bishops said in an interview published Monday that the Israeli government was "asking for trouble" with its treatment of Palestinians. The Bishop of Durham, the Right Rev. Tom Wright, denied however that he was excusing Palestinian suicide bombers. "I'm not anti-Israel," he was quoted as telling The Independent daily. "But when I see what's been done to the Palestinians over the past 50 years, I say, 'Well I'm sorry, but if you put people behind barbed wire, keep them caged, take their land despite international resolutions, and bulldoze their homes, you are asking for trouble.'"

Is There Hope? – Where to Look for It
By Ran HaCohen, 12/29/2003
   There can be little doubt that something has changed in Israel's public discourse in the past two or three of months. Israel's rejectionism – the ideology of the Army, turned into a state dogma when, PM Barak, the Trojan horse, destroyed the Israeli peace camp from within, and then consolidated by Sharon – has been showing serious cracks.

The Vanunu Story
Miftah/The U.S. Campaign to Free Mordechai Vanunu 12/29/2003
   Mordechai Vanunu, a former Israeli nuclear technician, is now serving the last year of an 18-year sentence in an Israeli prison for blowing the whistle on his government's secret nuclear weapons program. Captured by Israeli agents on September 30, 1986, he spent more than 11 1/2 years in solitary confinement.

Looking for Someplace to Call Home
By Anton Shammas, Miftah 12/29/2003
   In the opening sequence of ''In Search of Palestine,'' a 1998 BBC documentary about Edward Said's return to Jerusalem, his birthplace, he is sitting at a table in his house in New York, pensively thumbing through a family album. He holds up a wedding picture of his Palestinian parents, reminiscing that they were married in Nazareth, where his mother was born. Many years later, he recalls, his mother, lying on her deathbed in Washington, would moan that she wanted to go back to Nazareth. But she never could. His father, who died 20 years before her, wanted to be buried in Dhur Shueir, a Lebanese mountain village where for years he took the family to spend the summer. His wish was thwarted by Lebanese religious rivalries, and he was buried in a cemetery in Beirut. ''In a way,'' Said says wryly, with a faint tremor in his voice, ''it's sort of the fate of Palestinians, not to end up where they started, but somewhere unexpected and far away.''

Don't shoot the settlers
By Akiva Eldar, Ha'aretz 12/29/2003
   IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon acted properly when he promised, at Gil Na'amati's hospital bedside, to thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the incident in which Israeli soldiers shot at Israeli peace activists. But in order for the investigation to be truly thorough, the chief of staff should also direct the attention of the investigating officers to two key phrases in a document published only 10 days ago: "Yasser Arafat and his leadership are not partners to the two-state idea. Arafat and his leadership launched the intifada, and they prefer to keep the conflict going, on the assumption that terror and demography will lead to the disappearance of Israel as a Jewish state."

How to live without a solution in the Occupied Territories
By Geoffrey Aronson, Daily Star 12/29/2003
   In June 1977, then Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan explained why the presumption that Israel's conflict with the Palestinians could be "solved" was fundamentally flawed. There was no territorial division of the West Bank acceptable to both parties, he argued. "The question," explained Dayan, "is not: 'What is the solution?' but 'How do we live without a solution?'"

Israel Ministers Want Settlement-Outposts Scrapped
Reuters 12/29/2003
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Two members of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's cabinet said on Monday the government was moving too slowly in carrying out a commitment to remove unauthorized settlement-outposts from occupied territory. The ministers spoke in interviews with Israel Radio after Sharon signed an order to accelerate the removal of four outposts -- only one of them inhabited -- in accordance with a U.S.-backed peace "road map." Israeli media reported the outposts could be torn down within days but delays were likely if Jewish settlers appealed the order to Israel's Supreme Court. Settlers have built an estimated 100 unauthorized outposts in the West Bank.

Government to take more active role on reparations issue
Ha'aretz 12/29/2003
The government decided yesterday to establish a ministerial committee on restoring Jewish rights and property from various countries. In addition, the cabinet decided to focus greater efforts on preparing future claims by Jews from Arab states, including the creation of a central database on assets left in these countries.

A child is born in Bethlehem
Ha'aretz 12/29/2003
....Palestinian spokesmen have been warning that the atmosphere of hostility toward Israel will increase once the separation fence is completed, because it will make life in a considerable part of the territories completely impossible. This is pretty much a sure recipe for the weakening of the Palestinian Authority and the strengthening of Hamas. In pictures from last week's celebrations of the anniversary of the founding of Hamas, parades of units that look almost like a regular army and not like a small terror organization were clearly visible (especially in Gaza).

School strike ends after budget cut put on hold
Jerusalem Post 12/30/2003
Following a Tuesday night meeting in Tel Aviv local authority chiefs called off strike action which had closed most schools across the country. A forum of local authority leaders who called for the strike agreed to accept an offer made earlier in day by the Treasury and Education Ministry to delay budget cuts for a month.

December 28 2003 Daily Situation Report – Acrobat format
Palestine Media Center 12/28/2003
SUMMARY OF EVENTS – 08:00 27 December 2003 ˆ 08:00 28 December 2003

1,400 small businesses in Jerusalem closed during 2003
Ha'aretz 12/28/2003
1,400 small businesses, which comprised 12 percent of all businesses operating in Jerusalem at the beginning of 2003, were closed during the course of the year, according to a report published Sunday by National Trade Union in Jerusalem head Ezra Atiya. The closing of the 1,400 businesses lead to the dismissal of 2,100 workers. According to Atiya, in 2001 and 2002, an additional 2,200 small businesses in Jerusalem were either closed or sold.

The Categorical Imperative
By Uri Avnery, Arabic Media Internet Network 12/28/2003
   ....I have always supported an individual's right to refuse. But I myself was not ready to call upon young people to follow this line. My position was that persons must decide for themselves where they will best serve the fight against the occupation – inside or outside the army.

The Sharon Evacuation Horror Show
By Lev Grinberg, Arabic Media Internet Network 12/28/2003
   "If you want to shoot, shoot, don't talk", recommends the bad guy in the Western movie after killing his innocent victim. The lesson is clear: if you want to take action against the other, you don't need to waste your time on talks that might eventually prevent your action.

IOF Dynamites a Palestinian House in Balata, Continues Rampage in West Bank Cities
International Press Center 12/28/2003
NABLUS, Palestine, December 28, 2003 (IPC + WAFA)-- The Israeli occupying forces (IOF) dynamited today morning the house of Hashem Abu Hamdan from Balata refugee camp of Nablus. Palestinian security sources said that the Israeli occupying forces blew up the two-storey house of Abu Hamdan, a home of ten family members, and handed demolition warrant to the citizen Nader Abu Al Lail. The Balata refugee camp residents have been confined to their houses under an Israeli military edict of curfew for 13 days now, while the Israeli soldiers conducted a house-to-house search campaign, arresting several Palestinian citizens in the process.

Israeli Authorities Decide Expelling Seven "Administrative Detainees" to Undisclosed Location
International Press Center 12/28/2003
GAZA, December 28, 2003 (IPC + Agencies)-- The Israeli occupying authorities have decided to expel seven Palestinian "administrative detainees" without determining the location to which they were to be expelled. The seven detainees are from the 'Al Naqab Desert' jail, including the oldest Palestinian "administrative detainee", Sheikh Ra'ed Qadry, from Nablus....Qadry was supposed to be released after 30 months and one week of his arrest, as he was arrested on June 20, 2001. The jail administration informed Qadry that he would remain in jail until his expulsion decision is carried out.

Palestinian PM Ahmed Qurei': "The Israeli military escalation will not be met by Palestinian pacification"
International Press Center 12/28/2003
JERUSALEM, Palestine, December 28, 2003, (IPC+ Agencies)– Palestinian Prime Minister, Ahmed Qurei' stated today that the continued Israeli military escalation in the Palestinian occupied territories will not be met by Palestinian pacification. "The brutal carnage committed by the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) in Rafah refugee camp and followed by preplanned assassination operation in Gaza city gives Palestinians the right to respond to such repressive military operations," Qurei' told journalists.

Sharon Nominates High-Ranking Israeli Officer to Implement "Disengagement Plan"
International Press Center 12/28/2003
GAZA, December 28, 2003 (IPC + Agencies)-- The Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has decided to go ahead in his "disengagement plan", and nominated an Israeli high-ranking military officer to head the committee that will supervise the implementation of this plan. Informed Israeli sources said that the Israeli premiere has nominated Sunday Major General Giora Eiland, head of the Planning Branch in the Israeli forces, to be the head of the special committee that would supervise the implementation of Sharon's disengagement plan, which he announced in his Herzilya speech on December 18.

Socio-Economic Report on Arab Citizens and Local Councils
Mossawa Center December 2003`
The Government Has Not Fulfilled its Decisions and Has Deepened the Suffering: Three years after the government decision to invest 1 billion shekels per year in the Arab sector, (22.10.00) a special report prepared by the Mossawa Center points to the government's omission from the 2004 budget of the "4 Billion Shekel Development Plan" and its intention to allocate to all Arab locales only 4 % from the government's development budget.This is a return to investment levels of 1999.As a result of the unfulfilled government decisions and the emergency economic plan, the socio-economic situation has worsened for Arab Local Councils as well as individuals and families.The government has also has failed to heed the Or Commission's recommendations (01.09.03) in regards to budgetary discrimination against Arab citizens.

Governmental Decisions and Agreements Between the Israeli Government and Arab Local Councils and Their Lack of Implementation
Mossawa Center December 2003
This report addresses the Israeli government’s institutionalized discrimination against its Arab citizens[1].Specifically, this discrimination is demonstrated through an examination of governmental decisions and agreements, signed between representatives of the Arab citizens of Israel and the government, starting in the 1990s. These governmental decisions and agreements acknowledge the discrimination against the Arab citizens of Israel and aim at correcting that discrimination, but have yet to be implemented. As a result, these decisions and agreements have amounted to nothing but empty promises and the socio-economic status of the Arab citizens continues to deteriorate.

Egyptian editor slams PA following Maher attack
The editor of a leading Egyptian weekly has slammed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for the assault on Egypt's foreign minister in Jerusalem last Monday. "It is now time to adopt a new attitude toward the Palestinian Authority, to tell them 'No' a thousand times, as we are not so naive as they think," Ibrahim Saada wrote in an editorial of Akhbar Elyom on Saturday. Maher was pushed and shoved by Palestinians, who shouted he was not welcome when he visited Al Aqsa Mosque.

By Cindy Corrie, The Link - Americans for Middle East Understanding December 2003
   Rachel, Brian, and Tom: My daughter, Rachel Corrie, was one of those brave activists, now numbering in the thousands, who have made the journey from the safety of their own countries and homes to the Occupied Palestinian Territories. They come to see for themselves, to join in solidarity with the Palestinian people, and to work for a more peaceful world.

Israeli Airforce kills five Palestinians in Gaza assassination :
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.

Uri Avnery: The duty to refuse to serve in the Israeli-occupied territories:
The occupation itself has become a monster that nobody can serve without losing his humanity.

Criminal probe may be launched into IDF firing at protesters :
"An order to fire on people that do not fire on you is a completely illegal order," former Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon told Army Radio on Sunday

UN Security Council to weigh WMD ban in Middle East :
The United Nations 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.

Israel seeks to avoid Middle East disarmament fest :
The American effort to neutralize security threats gradually in the Mideast has recently produced some marked improvements in Israel's strategic environment. Libya promised to dismantle its nonconventional weapons, and Jerusalem believes that Syria will be next in line.

Israel: The price of ignorance :
Israelis have little interest in knowing the lay of the land from which terror springs. The Israeli media have next to nothing to say about life in Beit Furik. By the same token, few Israelis heard about the killing of the suicide bomber's relative, Fadi Hanani, 10 days ago in Nablus, just as they hadn't heard about all the killings of Palestinians in the past few months.

Anti-Semitism: A Minor Problem, Overblown:
Criticism of Israel--and its Jewish supporters--is not Anti-Semitism.

December 27 2003

Treasury, Histadrut may sign pact to end strikes Saturday night
Ha'aretz 12/27/2003
The Finance Ministry and the Histadrut labor federation said Friday that they have made substantial progress on core disputes, and could announce a draft agreement as early as Saturday night to end months of strikes and work sanctions.

IOF Kills Palestinian in Nablus, Wounds Girl in Khan Younis and Jewish Settlers Reconstruct Outpost in Hebron
International Press Center 12/27/2003
NABLUS, Palestine, December 27, 2003 (IPC + Agencies) - - The Israeli occupying forces (IOF), as a part of its ongoing military aggression on the Nablus governorate in particular, killed today a Palestinian youth, as additional forces were re-invading the Balata refugee camp. As well, Jewish settlers reconstructed a settlement outpost in Hebron and a girl was shot and wounded in the Gaza Strip. IPC correspondent reported that the Israeli occupying forces invading the Nablus governorate shot dead a Palestinian citizen today afternoon and wounded 17 others....The Israeli occupying forces continued to isolate the eastern part of the [Balata] camp from its western part, using large sand barriers they piled last night, banning Palestinian citizens, employees and students from moving between the two parts...In the Gaza Strip, Palestinian security and medical sources said that a Palestinian child was shot and wounded by Israeli gunfire in the Khan Younis western refugee camp.

Fresh IOF Invasion, Half the Population of Balata Camp Herded in Open Air
International Press Center 12/27/2003
NABLUS, Palestine, December 27, 2003 (IPC + Agencies)-- Massive troops of the Israeli occupying forces re-invaded today morning the Balata refugee camp of Nablus. Earlier, the Israeli forces on Friday evening gripped its control over the camp, and strictly closed all its entrances and intersections....The invading Israeli tanks coming from different directions, accompanied by the whizzing live bullets on early Friday morning, advanced to the old town of Nablus, IPC's added. Israeli soldiers took over a residential apartment building and obliged its dwellers by using loudspeakers to evict their apartments. Afterwards, the soldiers started to check the citizens' ID's.

One Palestinian Dies of Wounds, IOF Injures Five Children in Khan Younis
International Press Center 12/27/2003
KHAN YOUNIS, Palestine, December 27, 2003 (IPC + WAFA)-- A Palestinian died of his wounds Friday and five children were wounded in Khan Younis by the Israeli occupying fire. 27-year old Adnan Abu Jwe'd died of wounds he sustained when the Israeli occupying forces opened their gunfire at the citizens' houses in the western partition of Khan Younis refugee camp, WAFA reported. The same sources added that the soldiers there also shot and wounded Friday noon five Palestinian children when the soldiers opened their fire at the funeral procession of Mohammed Al Dosouqi....WAFA reported the children were; Khaled Abu Mossa, 8, Mustafa and Belal Wadi, 11, Ahmed Berek, 16, and Nidal Wadi, 11.

Soldiers Used Live Ammunition against Peace Activists
International Middle East Media Center 12/27/2003
Soldiers used live ammunition against peace activists close to the Palestinian village of Masha . Gil Na'amati , an Israeli citizen from Kibbutz Nimri, sustained serious wounds and a foreign peace activist was lightly wounded. Few hundred protesters, members of Anarchist Movement against the Wall and the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) protested Friday against the construction of the separation wall. Demonstrators, who gathered at the Palestinian side of the fence, shacked one of the gates as few attempted to cut the fence with wire cutters.

Israeli troops fire on schoolchildren
Al-Jazeera 12/27/2003
One Palestinian teenager was killed and up to five wounded after Israeli occupation soldiers opened fire on schoolchildren returning home in the West Bank town of Nablus. According to Aljazeera's correspondent there, 17-year old Rajaei Rayan of the Balata refugee camp, was struck in the head by Israeli troops who fired live or rubber bullets. The extent of the injuries of those wounded is not known. The Israeli soldiers claimed they were responding to stones hurled at tanks and armoured personnel carriers....Our correspondent, Khaled Amayreh, further reports that Israeli troops continue to terrorise civilians by forcibly evacuating entire families from their homes in order to use their rooftops as "outposts" and "watchtowers".

Zionist enemy uses new missiles in assassination of commando
Palestinian Information Center 12/27/2003
Gaza - The Palestinian human rights center and medical sources have revealed that the Zionist entity had used new missiles in the assassination of Islamic Jihad commander Mukalad Hamid on Thursday. The center said that the missiles used in past assassination crimes led to burning the entire body of targeted martyrs while this one did not but rather caused many holes in the body of the martyr. It said that explosion of those new missiles spread hundreds of small cubic piercing blocs that hit anyone present at scene of the explosion. [For more information, see Israeli Assassination Attack in Gaza Kills 5 Palestinians and Injures 15, PCHR, 12/26/03 - - Ed.]

Four Palestinians wounded in Zionist fire at funeral procession
Palestinian Information Center 12/27/2003
Khan Younis - Zionist terrorist forces yesterday opened heavy machinegun fire at Palestinian civilians participating in the funeral procession of martyr Mohammed Akram Al-Desouki, 23, in the Khan Younis suburb of Amal. The Quds Brigades, military wing of the Islamic Jihad Movement, yesterday mourned the death of Desouki, who was martyred while planting an explosive device near the Jani Tal Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip at dawn Thursday 25/12/2003.

IOF Seal off Nablus, Balata Refugee Camp
Palestine Media Center 12/27/2003
At least two IOF battalions, backed by dozens of tanks and military vehicles, on Friday invaded, sealed off and imposed a strict curfew on the northern West Bank city of Nablus and the adjacent Balata refugee camp, evacuating the inhabitants into the cold winter weather, as Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were laying to rest their latest victims who were extra-judicially assassinated by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF).

Qassam Brigades fire five missiles and three mortar shells at Zionist targets
Palestinian Information Center 12/27/2003
Gaza - The Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas Movement, yesterday took the credit for firing five missiles and three mortar shells at Zionist settlements and military outposts in the Gaza Strip. A Qassam communiqué said that two Qassam-1 missile were fired at the Karni crossing and one was fired at the Netsarim settlement at dawn Friday.

Israel troops fire on peace rally
BBC 12/27/2003
Israeli soldiers have opened fire on a demonstration in the West Bank, injuring two peace activists. The incident took place when about 100 protesters demonstrated near the Palestinian village of Mahase against the barrier Israel is constructing. One Israeli man and one foreign woman were wounded....One of the demonstrators, Jonathan Faulk, told the Israeli Haaretz newspaper that soldiers opened fire with no warning, adding that the soldiers' lives were never in any danger.

Rafah Governor: Destruction "An Unprecedented Earthquake"
International Press Center 12/27/2003
RAFAH, Palestine, December 27, 2003 (IPC) - - As the dusk was breaking, the residents of the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah were on a new date with killing and havoc. At 3:00 am of Tuesday, December 23, a massive contingent of the Israeli occupying forces accompanied with 30 tanks, armored personnel carriers and several D-9 military bulldozers advanced deep from the military posts at the borderline with Egypt inside Rafah City, particularly Yebna refugee camp and Al Qassas area, under an aerial shield of combat helicopters and amidst a barrage of random fire at citizens' houses.

IOF Wounds Two Internationals near Apartheid Wall in Mas'ha
International Press Center 12/27/2003
SALFIT, Palestine, December 27, 2003 (IPC + Agencies)-- The Israeli occupying forces (IOF) shot and wounded two international peace activists while demonstrating against the construction of the Apartheid wall in the village of Mas'ha, Salfit district. Sources at the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in Salfit told IPC correspondent that many Palestinian citizens, international peace activists and representatives of international organizations marched to a section of the Apartheid Wall built in the area of Bidya, and tried to cross it, when the IOF started opening random fire at the protestors, wounding two international peace activists, an American and an Israeli.

IOF Extrajudicial Execution Policy at Large Again Against Palestinians
International Press Center 12/27/2003
GAZA, December 27, 2003 (IPC)-- The latest Israeli extrajudicial execution of five Palestinian citizens and resistance activists last Thursday once again proves to the world that the Israeli government is not interested in any peaceful solution or dialogue with the Palestinian side. In its security cabinet meeting Friday night, the Israeli Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz, announced that the extrajudicial execution policy the Israeli occupying forces have been adopting against the Palestinian resistance activists and civilians alike, would resume.

Israeli, U.S. Pacifists Injured In Anti-Wall Demo
Islam Online 12/27/2003
Qalqiliya, December 27 ( & News Agencies) – Two Israeli and American pacifists protesting Israel's erection of a separation barrier on the West Bank were wounded by Israeli gunfire Friday, December 26, one day ahead of a mass rally in this northern West Bank town to mark the 'Resistance Day of the Wall". The incident came as some 400 Palestinians and 150 foreign activists, including Israeli pacifists, took part in the protest in the village of Masha, southeast ofQalqiliya and near the Jewish settlement of Elkana, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Israel, Palestinians mull reprisals
Middle East Online 12/27/2003
Israeli military chiefs were meeting Friday to consider retaliation for a deadly Tel Aviv suicide blast, as militant group Islamic Jihad vowed to avenge the deaths of two of its members assassinated by Israeli gunships in Gaza. Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz met with army commanders and officials of the Shin Beth domestic security service at the ministry's headquarters in Tel Aviv, near the scene of Thursday's bus-stop suicide attack, which claimed the lives of four Israelis.

Israel plans revenge for Christmas attacks
The Guardian 12/27/2003
Israel closed the West Bank and Gaza Strip yesterday and was planning further retaliation for the Christmas Day suicide bombing that killed four people. The first suicide bombing for almost three months happened minutes after an Israeli helicopter fired two missiles at a car in Gaza, killing three members of Islamic Jihad and two bystanders....The Israelis have decided to retaliate against the PFLP and Islamic Jihad but not Hamas, which they accept has suspended attacks in Israel.,2763,1112854,00.html

Israeli occupation army ransacks refugee camp, interns civilians
Palestinian Information Center 12/27/2003
Occupied Jerusalem - Israeli occupation forces have been attacking and ransacking the Balata refugee camp outside Nablus, the largest town in the West Bank, Palestinian sources reported. The sources said Israeli troops, backed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, imposed a tight curfew on the Balata refugee camp Friday night, brutalizing civilians and vandalizing their property. Troops forced all male citizens between the age of 16 and 60 into local schoolyards in sub-zero temperature where they were interrogated and beaten.

Quds Brigades vow earthshaking reprisal
Palestinian Information Center 12/27/2003
Gaza - The Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad Movement, yesterday threatened the Zionist enemy of an earthshaking reprisal act in retaliation to the assassination of Mukalad Hamid, commander of the Brigades in the Gaza Strip. The Quds Brigades bore the glad tidings on martyrdom of Mukalad, who was described in the communiqué, as one of the great commanders, along with a number of other martyrs in the Zionist cowardly assassination act on Thursday 25/12/2003.

1 Palestinian killed, 3 hurt in clashes with IDF troops in Nablus
Ha'aretz 12/27/2003
Israel Defense Forces troops scouring a West Bank militant stronghold killed a Palestinian and wounded three others in clashes with stone-throwers on Saturday, witnesses and medics said. The witnesses said Regai Rayan, 20, was fatally shot in the chest while confronting troops who have stepped up searches in the Balata refugee camp, in Nablus, since a suicide bomber from the nearby village of Beit Furik killed four Israelis in a suicide bombing at a bus stop near Tel Aviv on Thursday.

Palestinians assassinated in Gaza by Israel; Palestinian groups vow that Israeli civilians are targets
Arabic News 12/27/2003
The military wing for both the Islamic resistance movement, Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad, and the Democratic Front For Liberation of Palestine, vowed to retaliate operations conducted by the occupation forces against the Palestinians, stressing that these crimes will not go unpunished, and that escalating resistance will be the only answer for the occupation practices. The leading figure in the Islamic Jihad Movement, Khaled al-Batish, said that his movement will not be ready to avoid what is known "Israeli civilians" as long as Israel does not do the same under commitments and guarantees.

Israeli troops kill Palestinian, wound three others in Nablus
Al-Bawaba 12/27/2003
Israeli troops on Saturday re-invaded the Balata refugee camp of Nablus. One Palestinian was killed and three others were wounded, witnesses and medics said. The three Palestinians wounded were hit in the legs by bullets, medics said. An Israeli government spokesman said the Nablus sweep was made in response to intelligence alerts of imminent attacks. "These are routine anti-terrorist operations," said Avi Pazner of the Prime Minister's Office. "Israel will not allow Nablus to become the springboard of Palestinian terrorism against Israel."

Breaking News: Girl shot near Khan Younis, another death by Israeli fire in Balata
International Press Center 12/27/2003
14:00-- The girl Hanin Sakeb Abu Zarqa shot with shrapnel in the neck when the Israeli soldiers positioned at Al Tufah barrier, west of khan Younis opened indiscriminately at the houses in the perimeter of the illegal Jewish settlement of Neve Dekalim, IPC said. / 12:00-- Ra'd Rayan has been killed in Balata refugee camp of Nablus as well as 4 others wounded by the Israeli occupying troops, IPC correspondent reported....

Hundreds protest in Tel Aviv against IDF use of live ammunition
Ha'aretz 12/27/2003
Some 300 people protested late Saturday opposite the Defense Ministry building in Tel Aviv, to protest the Israel Defense Forces' use of live ammunition to disperse a demonstration against the separation fence near the West Bank village of Meskhah. An Israeli demonstrator was seriously injured and an American was lightly wounded Friday when IDF troops opened fire on protestors....Gil Na'amati, an Israeli citizen from Kibbutz Re'im in the Negev sustained serious wounds, while an American "tourist" was lightly hurt. Na'amati is currently in stable condition at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, while the American woman has been released from hospital.

Hamas Spurns Israel’s Claim On Sparing Its Leaders
Islam Online 12/27/2003
GAZA CITY, December 27 ( - Hamas scorned Saturday, December 27, Israeli claims of not targeting its leaders as part of a crackdown on Palestinian activists, and maintained that Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians foil efforts to spare civilians on both sides. Sayed Siyam, member of Hamas's political leadership, said Israeli Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon's statements that Israel will not target Hamas leaders is aimed at "tarnishing the image of the resistance". He told that Israel was only trying to drive a wedge between Hamas and other Palestinian resistance factions.

Hamas to be exempt from Israeli retaliation strikes
The Independent 12/27/2003
Israel will target and kill Palestinian militants in retaliation for a suicide bombing that killed four Israelis, senior security sources said yesterday. The suicide bombing on Thursday came minutes after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza killed three Islamic Jihad militants and two civilians. The attacks ended a relatively calm period in the conflict and threatened tentative steps to renew peace talks. Shaul Mofaz, the Defence Minister, and his officials decided yesterday to target militants from Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - which admitted responsibility for the bombing, said security sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

PM: Attack only brings unilateral steps closer
Jerusalem Post 12/27/2003
Terrorist attacks like Thursday's bring Israel closer to carrying out the unilateral steps Prime Minister Ariel Sharon spelled out in his Herzliya speech a week ago, senior officials in the Prime Minister's Office said. "We are still committed to the road map and will try to implement it," the official said. "But there is no doubt that these types of attacks, the continuous instigation, the lack of any preventive action, and the fact that [PA Chairman Yasser] Arafat heads the PA security apparatus and keeps them from taking any action will bring us closer to the security steps needed to ensure the security of our citizens."

EU's Patten sees Turkey in EU, but not Israel
Ha'aretz 12/27/2003
LONDON - European Union external affairs commissioner Chris Patten said on Saturday the bloc was nearing the limits of its expansion but he hoped Muslim NATO member Turkey could yet be accommodated. Patten said, however, it was unlikely Israel, suggested for inclusion by some European politicians, could become a member of the bloc that is due to expand from 15 to 25 members next year. "There must be a line somewhere where the EU ends. We have almost got to the line," Patten told Britain's BBC radio.

Zionist security sources demand strikes against Syria
Palestinian Information Center 12/27/2003
Occupied Jerusalem - Senior Zionist security officials have demanded assaulting Syria in retaliation to the Palestinian attack in Tel Aviv on Thursday that left three Zionists dead and twenty others wounded. The Hebrew TV’s first channel quoted those unidentified officials as saying that Damascus provided shelter for the PFLP, which took the credit for the operation, and other "terrorist" organizations.

Egyptian paper slams Arafat over J'lem attack on FM
Ha'aretz 12/27/2003
In a rare attack for an Egyptian newspaper, the editor of an influential weekly has assailed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for the assault on Egypt's foreign minister in Jerusalem this week. "It is now time to adopt a new attitude toward the Palestinian Authority, to tell them 'No' a thousand times, as we are not so naive as they think," Ibrahim Saada wrote in an editorial of Akhbar Elyom on Saturday.

EU envoy stresses need to resume negotiations on Syrian- Lebanese tracks
Arabic News 12/27/2003
European Envoy for Middle East peace Marc Oti has stressed the necessity for resuming negotiations on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks in order to realize just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. In a statement to Saudi Okaz newspaper published on Friday, Oti said that Syria is an important state in the region, asserting that the EU is exerting efforts to resume negotiations on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks as soon as possible, to achieve stability and peace in the region.

BBC: Shaaban: Syria ready for freeing the whole region from weapons of mass destruction
Arabic News 12/27/2003
"Syria is ready to any initiative for negotiations that frees the whole region from weapons of mass destruction," Syria's Expatriates Minister, Buthaina Shaaban underlined on Friday, pointing out that Syria's is commited to cooperation with all parties to reach a basic solution. In an interview with the BBC, the minister said that what happened in Iraq and the Libya must focus world attention towards the big nuclear arsenal in the region possessed by Israel.

Over half of Israel’s Arab youth live in poverty
Al-Bawaba 12/27/2003
More than half of Israel’s Arab children live under the poverty line. According to a report issued by the National Council for the Child, this rate is 2.5 times higher than the percentage of Jewish children living below the poverty line. Some 40 percent of Israel's total youth live in poverty, of which 54.4 percent are Arab, the report reveals. Last year’s rate was 29.6 percent with 656,000 children living below average standards. In the poorest communities children are 60 percent of the population, compared to just 22 percent in wealthier ones.

Israeli-Palestinian expedition to scale unclimbed mountain
Jerusalem Post 12/27/2003
An atypical delegation of Israelis and Palestinians, tired of failed peace talks and treaties, has decided to tackle a new kind of summit. On Saturday, the team of eight were to ship off for a 35-day expedition that will land them in Antarctica, to scale and name a previously unclimbed peak. After flying to Madrid and then Chile, they will board a yacht on January 1, and sail to the world's iciest continent. There they will spend 7-10 days walking on glaciers, driving sleds, and finally ascending a virgin peak, to plant Israeli and Palestinian flags.

Unexpected international success confirms validity of artistic life
Daily Star 12/27/2003
Salwa Zeidan takes 4th prize at contemporary art festival in Italy -- It was the last day of the fourth International Biennale of Contemporary Art in Florence, Italy. Everyone was busy at the awards ceremony, but Salwa Zeidan didn't feel like joining the crowd. Instead, she decided to take down her paintings from the wall reserved for her and leave ahead of time. But then suddenly, she felt she at least had to take a look at what was happening in the assembly hall. "I left my painting there on the floor and as soon as I entered the ceremony hall, I heard my name being called out: Salwa Zeidan, winner of the fourth prize for the painting category."

Iran quake death toll to rise further
Middle East Online 12/27/2003
Rescue workers swamped by corpses flowing into Bora's cemetery after earthquake kills 20,000. -- Rescue teams were swamped Saturday by the huge numbers of corpses being pulled out of the rubble after Iran's devastating earthquake, as dozens of Iranian military aircraft were mobilised to evacuate the wounded. Cars and trucks loaded with piles of bodies were flowing into the cemetery of the stricken town of Bora, southeast of Bam. Many corpses were abandoned in a corner of the cemetery, with grave diggers overwhelmed by the rush.

Bam disaster: Iran ready to accept aid from all countries, but not from Israel
Al-Bawaba 12/27/2003
International rescue teams were flying into Iran on Saturday to join a massive search for survivors from an earthquake that devastated the ancient Silk Road city of Bam, killing some 40,000 people. "We need help, otherwise we will be pulling corpses, not the injured, out of the rubble," Brigadier Mohammadi, commander of the army in southeast Iran, told state television....Meanwhile, Jahanbakhsh Khanjani, a spokesman for Iran's Interior Ministry, said Saturday that Iran would accept aid from all countries of the world, aside from Israel.

Ma'ariv: Turkish- Israeli agreement to fight terrorism
Arabic News 12/27/2003
The Israeli minister of [internal security - Ed.], Tsahi Hanighbi, signed during his visit to Ankara on Thursday with the Turkish minister of the interior Abdul Qader Akso an agreement for cooperation on fighting terrorism, and proposed that Turkey mediate between Israel and Syria. The Israeli radio said that the agreement includes intelligence cooperation, joint training for border police units in the two countries. It is, however, decided that units from the border police and terrorism fighting in Turkey will head for Israel to receive training in February 2004.

Turk bombers originally targeted Israeli ship-paper
Ha'aretz 12/27/2003
ANKARA - A militant Islamist group which plotted last month's devastating suicide bomb attack against the British consulate in Istanbul had originally intended to hit an Israeli ship instead, the Milliyet newspaper said on Saturday. Quoting Harun Ilhan, a Turkish militant linked to Osama bin Laden and now under arrest, Milliyet said the group decided to strike the consulate only at the last minute after the Israeli vessel failed to dock at Turkey's Mediterranean port of Alanya.

Missionaries Rush To Iraq, Fear Door May Be Closed Soon
Islam Online 12/27/2003
LONDON, December 27 ( – Shrouded in secrecy and under the guise of humanitarian aid, American missionaries, mainly evangelicals, are pouring into the predominantly Muslim Iraq, fearing the now "open door" may be soon closed when an Iraqi government takes over power in six months' time, a mass-circulation British daily reported on Saturday, December 27.

Saddam Threatens to Expose US
Arab News 12/27/2003
JEDDAH, 27 December 2003 – Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, now being grilled by American investigators, has reportedly warned US authorities that he will expose Washington's "political games" and its behind-the-scene role in the occupation of Kuwait. "Saddam threatened that if they continue to pressure him he will reveal startling facts – about America's political games with his country – that would shock the whole world," Al-Watan Arabic daily quoted a high-level European source as saying.

Libya Tells U.N. Will Accept Snap Nuclear Checks
Reuters 12/27/2003
TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya said on Saturday it would sign on to snap U.N. nuclear inspections allowing short-notice checks of its nuclear sites and called on Israel to start dismantling any weapons of mass destruction. "Libya will cooperate and deal with the agency (the IAEA) with complete transparency...and Libya will sign the Additional Protocol." Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abderrhmane Chalgam told a news conference. "This is a clear message to everybody, especially the Israelis, they must start dismantling their weapons of mass destruction," he added.;jsessionid=KGMGCQ0YJH

Another kind of terror: Israel grapples with murderous gang wars and corruption
By Ed Blanche, Daily Star 12/27/2003
   BEIRUT: Three Israelis were killed and more than 30 wounded on Dec. 11 by a lunchtime bomb explosion at a moneychanger's office in a seedy district of south Tel Aviv notorious for its prostitutes and illegal gambling dens. But it wasn't an attack by Palestinian militants. For ordinary Israelis, this was another kind of terror - a war in the streets of unprecedented ferocity between the country's organized crime families who commentators say now control much of the political system.

Howard Dean Is Still the Favored Candidate
By Richard H. Curtiss, Arab News 12/27/2003
   WASHINGTON, 27 December 2003 – The Arabs call it "Baraka," meaning blessed or fortunate. It can be used to describe a happy state of somehow coming up with exactly the right words at the right time.

   Thus it is with former governor of Vermont Howard Dean. He’s either a master of timing or very, very lucky. He set out to put some gravitas into his views on foreign policy in a Dec. 15 speech at the Regis Hotel in Los Angeles. The setting of the speech was no coincidence because Democrats expect to obtain a lot of money from Hollywood and its environs. A lot of people feared that when Saddam Hussain was caught the electoral dynamics would change immediately against Dean, the Democratic candidate most critical of President George W. Bush’s handling of the war. Dean did make some quick changes, and went ahead with his seminal speech to show that he has thought carefully about what he will do if he wins the 2004 election.

The US is not serious about helping Middle East democracy
By Majid Mohammadi, Daily Star 12/27/2003
   Despite the stated desire of US President George W. Bush's administration to democratize occupied Iraq and other nations in the Middle East, a long-term commitment to transforming the political perspectives of the region and introducing democracy have never been a pillar of US foreign policy, and it is hard to imagine they will become one.

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