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Occupied Palestine and Israel: News and Articles

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Hamas and Fatah leaders urge Abbas to lead peace talks
The Guardian 5/12/2006
Palestinian prisoners linked to Hamas and Fatah have jointly called for Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, to lead negotiations with Israel on the creation of a state in east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Mr Abbas welcomed the prisoners' proposals as a means of breaking the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic deadlock. "This document is very important. I adopt the position of those heroes," he told reporters in Ramallah. "It includes a deep and realistic political vision that to a very large extent represents my point of view... and thus I adopt it. " The document agreed by the prisoners does not include explicit recognition of Israel but it could signify a softening of Hamas's position.

Abbas strikes petrol deal
AlJazeera 5/11/2006
Israel's energy company plans to resume petrol deliveries to the Palestinians after halting supplies over unpaid bills, a Palestinian official has said. Mujahed Salameh, the head of the Palestinian Petroleum Agency, said on Thursday that the deal was reached after Mahmoud Abbas sent a letter to Dor Alon guaranteeing to send funds within 10 days. The fuel shortage had threatened to worsen economic problems that began when Western countries froze aid and cut most diplomatic contacts with the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. Dor Alon is the sole supplier of petrol and cooking gas to Palestinian areas. Two days after it cut off deliveries on Tuesday, petrol stations ran dry across the occupied West Bank and traffic thinned.

Report: Collapse of the Palestinian health system
ReliefWeb/Physicians for Human Rights 5/11/2006
The collapse of the Palestinian health system due to the freeze of the tax revenue by Israel, and the stoppage of international aid is the focus of a new position paper published by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel. Some of the cancer patients in the Gaza Strip have not received chemotherapy for over a month. Ending the funding to the health system will lead to the death of thousands of people in the short term and to extensive morbidity in the long term. At least four patients have died as a direct result of this lack of funding. Financial assistance given to the Palestinian Authority amounts to approximately $1-billion yearly, and a large portion of budget for the Ministry of Health is provided by overseas donors - so that the acute humanitarian needs of the population can be met.

Uprooting and Land Devastation – Renewed Attacks in Ramin
Stop The Wall 5/10/2006
Occupation Forces destroyed over 50 trees belonging to villagers in Ramin on the evening of Monday May the 8th, as devastation of Palestinian land in the region continued. Soldiers used chainsaws to uproot 6 dunums of land running close to a main Palestinian road. The road now usurped by settlers for their own exclusive use has been a frequent scene of settler attacks on Palestinian farmers and their families in recent months. Soliders took chainsaws to 30 olive trees and 25 fig trees belonging to villager Rabah el Dain Zeidan and his family. They targeted land immediately south of the village (in the southeast of Tulkarem district) which runs near the historical road between Tulkarem city and Nablus. Today that road is off-limits to Palestinians as part of the Apartheid Road system enforced by the Occupation.

23 Palestinians arrested on Thursday
Ma'an News 5/11/2006
Israeli soldiers during an arrest raidBethlehem- Ma'an- Israeli forces arrested 23 Palestinian citizens in West Bank towns and cities early on Thursday. Israeli sources said that eight of those arrested were from the city of Nablus and three others from the surrounding area of Nablus. The sources added that one other Palestinian was arrested in Ramallah for being an Islamic Jihad member, and six others were arrested in the Bethlehem area. Elsewhere, four Palestinian citizens were arrested in the Hebron area for being members of Fatah and Islamic Jihad. [end]

In last week alone, 106 arrests, 122 new "temporary" checkpoints, 52 raids, 31 injured and 9 killed
Ma'an News 5/11/2006
Gaza-Ma'an- The Palestinian National Information Center has released a detailed report which confirms that the Israeli occupation forces are continuing their aggressions and attacks against Palestinians in the occupied territories. The report states that, during the last week alone, the Israeli forces made 768 violations against Palestinians which resulted in the death of 9 people and the injury of 31 others. The report added that in these cases of Palestinian death and injury, the Israeli forces used live ammunition 96 times. 106 people have been arrested and 52 campaigns of raids and arrests in towns and village in the West Bank have taken place, according to the report.

Jordanian television airs confessions of three 'Hamas plotters'
The Daily Star 5/12/2006
Three Hamas activists arrested in Jordan last month in connection with an alleged plot to stage attacks in the country said in televised confessions on Thursday that they had received military training in Syria. The suspects also confessed to plotting to kill senior intelligence officers in Jordan. "I stayed in Syria and began the security training - which included interrogation methods and several subjects in addition to a military course - and returned back to Jordan," said Ayman al-Daraghmeh, 34. He was among 20 people arrested in a recent sweep that also turned up caches of Iranian-made Katyusha rockets, as well as other weapons..... "We are not going to reveal everything so as not to increase tensions," [a Jordanian official] added, "but if Hamas does not cooperate, we will change our stance. "

U.S. wary of new mechanism for bankrolling PA salaries
Ha'aretz 5/12/2006
NEW YORK - The United States is wary of the initiative agreed upon at a meeting of the Quartet on Tuesday, under which a mechanism will be created to transfer financial assistance to the Palestinians while bypassing the Palestinian government headed by the radical Islamic party Hamas. This wariness was expressed yesterday by the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, during a meeting with visiting Israel Defense Forces officers from the National Security College in Israel. Echoing his boss, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Bolton expressed concern that the international mechanism was meant primarily to transfer salary payments to more than 165,000 Palestinian civil servants.... Rice: "No country in the world, including poor African countries, relies on foreign sources in order to make payments to its employees. "

Arab League unable to directly transfer salaries of P. A employees
International Middle East Media Center 5/11/2006
The Arab League told the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, on Thursday that the League would not be able to transfer funds directly into the accounts of the unpaid employees of the Palestinian Authority (P. A). Amr Mousa, Arab League Secretary-General, phoned Abbas and told him that the League will abandon the effort. Mousa did not provide Abbas with any explanation, but told him that regional and international banks refused to transfer any money to the P. Abecause of the American threats to impose sanctions on any country that help the Hamas-led P. A since its regards the Hamas movement as a terrorist organization. Hamas was hoping that the Arab League, based in Cairo, would transfer $70 million directly to the accounts of P. A employees.

EU looks to Israel for help with Palestinian aid
ReliefWeb 5/10/2006
BRUSSELS, May 10 (Reuters) - The European Union said on Wednesday it would welcome any move by Israel to release tax revenues collected for the Palestinian Authority as part of a scheme to maintain essential services to Palestinians. The quartet of Middle East peace negotiators -- the EU, the United States, Russia and the United Nations -- decided on Tuesday on a plan to resume their aid to Palestinians to avoid a possible collapse of the Hamas-led Authority. Israel, which pushed successfully for a severing of financial assistance after the Islamic militant group won power in March, has also been withholding some $55 million a month in tax receipts it collects on the Palestinians' behalf.

Five injured in Fateh-Hamas clashes
International Middle East Media Center 5/11/2006
Five Palestinian residents were wounded, on Thursday afternoon,after renewed clashes took place between Fateh and Hamas gunmen, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. The five residents were injured in four separate shooting attack on Thursday, just one day after leaders of the two movements agreed to stop the in-fight and chaos that took over the streets in Gaza. In one of the incidents, two brothers, members of Fateh, were moderately injured after being fired at by masked men driving a car between Gaza city, Jabalia and Beit Lahia. Also, three members of Hamas were shot and injured in different locations in northern Gaza. One of them was shot while walking towards a mosque, another as he stood outside his house while the third in a drive by shooting, officials in Hamas reported.

Hamas cell arrested along Egypt border
YNet News 5/11/2006
Two-member cell arrested by Shin Bet had planned to kidnap soldiers, carry out terror attacks -- The Shin Bet and IDF two months ago arrested two Hamas members who attempted to infiltrate Israel from Egypt and set up a larger terror cell in the West Bank, it was revealed Thursday. The men were equipped with guns, hand grenades and a large amount of cash. Security officials said the two men had most likely planned to kidnap IDF soldiers. Razek Shaaban, 33, and Azzam Ban, 38, of the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza, met in an Israeli jail where they served sentences for security offenses. After his release, Shaaban met a Hamas commander in Gaza who ordered him to set up a terror cell in Ramallah.

Hamas are smuggling militant members from Gaza to West Bank, claim military sources
Ma'an News 5/11/2006
Bethlehem-Ma'an-Israeli military censors have allowed the publication of news about Hamas cells smuggling themselves from Gaza to Ramallah recently. The Israeli military attorney general has announced that its forces have arrested many Hamas members who were attempting to reach Ramallah which led to the discovery of the whole issue. 45 days ago, Joumah Ibrahim Issa and Razeq Ahmad Sha'aban, both of Jabaliya in the Gaza Strip, were arrested while crossing the border from Egypt into the western Negev in Israel. The Israeli forces arrested them and found on them two pistols two hand grenades, and US $2300. According to Israeli sources, the two men have admitted that they were on their way to Ramallah and Tulkarem to train groups of Izzedine Al-Qassam Brigades in these areas.

75- year old man seriously injured after settler rammed him with his car
International Middle East Media Center 5/11/2006
A 75- year old man was seriously injured on Thursday after a settler rammed him with his car close to Efrat settlement, in the far north of the West Bank city of Hebron. The resident was heading towards his farmland located north of Efrat settlement which is installed on Palestinian annexed lands. A Palestinian medical source in Hebron reported that Mohammad Abdul-Aziz Ibregheeth, 75, suffered fractures in his skull, severe hemorrhage and fractures in his pelvis. Ibregheeth was transferred to Hadassah Israeli hospital in Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Israeli sources claimed that the resident was hit by a vehicle of an American tourist driving in the area. [end]

Army invade several areas of Hebron and arrests five residents
International Middle East Media Center 5/11/2006
The Israeli army invaded several areas across the West Bank city of Hebron and arrested five residents, on Thursday. Troops stormed homes in Al Fowar refugee camp, Yata village, Al Thahria village, and Kharsa village. The prisoners society club in the city issued the following four names of those arrested: Mahmoed Ahieb, 33, Hamed Al Wawi, 17,Taleb AL Najar, 45 , Bassam Halahla, 48 the fifth name was not published. This brings the total number of Hebron civilians arrested to 14 in the last 48 hours and 25 form the beginingof May. [end]

Jailed militants make overture to Israelis
The Daily Star 5/12/2006
Senior Hamas and Fatah leaders imprisoned in Israeli jails hammered out a proposal accepting a Palestinian state alongside Israel and pledging to end attacks inside the Jewish state. The proposals have been put together by the West Bank leader of Fatah Marwan Barghouti, the senior Hamas prisoner Abdel-Khaleq al-Natsh, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine's (PFLP) deputy chief Abdel-Rahim Malluh and Islamic Jihad's Bassam al-Saadi, all of whom are in Israeli jails. The proposal calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state "in all the lands occupied in 1967. " The document does not include explicit recognition of Israel, but even the implied recognition would mark a major breakthrough for Hamas.

Amman: Hamas training recruits in Syria, Iran
Ha'aretz 5/12/2006
AMMAN - Jordan accused Hamas yesterday of trying to recruit operatives to undergo military training in Syria and Iran and stage attacks in Jordan, and said that it had found new weapons that included Iranian rocket launchers. Government spokesman Nasser Joudeh gave reporters details of the plot, which he said were revealed during interrogations of 20 Hamas operatives arrested by security forces last month. "Hamas was attempting to recruit elements in the Jordanian arena and trying to recruit elements from abroad to send to Syria and Iran to get military training," Joudeh said.... Joudeh said that authorities were still searching for other arms caches that Hamas had hidden across the country.

Israel has manufactured the fuel crisis to pressure the PA, claims petrol committee head
Ma'an News 5/11/2006
Bethlehem- Gaza- Ma'an- The Executive Director of the Palestinian Committee for Petrol, Dr. Hassan Abu Arroub, has discarded the possibility of finding an immediate solution to the current fuel crisis and accused Israel of manufacturing the crisis in order to pressurize the PA. Speaking to Ma'an, Abu Arroub expressed his hope that the crisis will end within a few days, denying the news about debts owed to the Israeli company that supplies the Palestinian areas with fuel. Abu Arroub said "at the time of the Israeli incursions into the Palestinian territories in 2002 the Israelis did not stop supplying us with fuel although we did not use to pay for their supplies, so the issue is a political one and aimed at putting more pressure on the Palestinians".

Hamas will not send a delegation to Jordan to try to sort out the weapon smuggling row
Ma'an News 5/11/2006
Gaza- Ma'an- Hamas has said that there is no need to send delegates from the government to Jordan. Meanwhile, the party has repeated its denouncement and rejection of the Jordanian accusations that Hamas smuggled weapons into Jordan. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said "this is contrary to the Hamas movement's policy which was always against the interference in the internal affairs of the Arab countries". Abu Zuhri said that Hamas is ready to intervene in the issue but said that there is no need to send an official delegation to Amman. He called for the Jordanian government to exert efforts to overcome the crisis, especially in the face of the current difficult situation for the Palestinian people. -- See also: Hamas refuses to join Jordan inquiry

Olmert won’t raise Galilee, Negev aid with Bush
Globes 5/11/2006
"Why deal with trivia, when an unprecedented Israeli request for aid to finance the convergence plan is in the offing? ” -- Contrary to the hopes of certain Israeli sources, diplomatic circles in Washington believe that the issue of special US aid for the development of the Galilee and Negev regions will almost certainly not be raised during the upcoming summit between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and US President George W. Bush on May 23. This will be the second time that Israel has avoided raising the issue of special aid, which US officials promised at a high level meeting in Washington but failed to deliver afterwards.

Haniyeh invited to Qatar
Ma'an News 5/11/2006
Gaza- Ma'an- The Qatari Ambassador in Gaza has presented an invitation to the Palestinian Prime Minister Haniyeh to visit Qatar. The invitation came during a meeting between the Ambassador and the Prime Minister in the latter's office. Sayyar Al Ma'awdah, Qatar's ambassador to the PA, confirmed that he handed over a letter of invitation to the Prime Minister and said that his country is supporting the Palestinian people and the government of Palestine. [end]

Israeli general skips U.K. trip over arrest fears
The Daily Star 5/12/2006
JERUSALEM: The Israeli Army scrapped plans Thursday to send one of its generals to a course at a British military academy over fears he could be arrested on war-crime allegations, military sources said. General Aviv Kohavi, commander of the division deployed near the border with the Gaza Strip in southern Israel, had been due to attend the prestigious Sandhurst Royal Academy. But the army's chief attorney Avihai Mandelblit recommended that he not go ahead with the year-long course as he could well be subject to an arrest warrant, the sources said. Doron Almog refused to leave a plane at London's Heathrow airport last September after learning a warrant had been issued for his arrest over his time commanding troops in Gaza.

30 kids hold hunger strike outside UN offices
Defence for Children International - Palestine/Ma'an News Agency 5/11/2006
More than 30 Palestinian children have held a sit-in strike in front of the UN offices in Gaza City. They announced that they are going to hold a twelve hour hunger strike to declare their rejection to the policy of starvation and the siege imposed on the Palestinian people. The children erected two tents opposite the offices and said that they will stay there until 10 pm on Thursday. Some of the strikers took off their clothes and wrote slogans against the siege and the starvation which the US and the West is imposing on the Palestinians. Noura, a girl of 11 years, said "I am ready to announce 100 days' hunger strike against the siege. "

Jenin residents barred from traveling “until further notice”; Israeli blockade affects daily life
International Middle East Media Center 5/11/2006
It took Jamil Khairi, a Jenin resident, seven hours to arrive to his home city from Ramallah during which he was forced to navigate difficult dirt roads in order to avoid Israeli barriers. Israeli forces announced that Jenin residents are barred from traveling, “until further notice. ”He was in Ramallah for medical exams and normally even the dirt road route takes two hours, not seven. Without Israeli forces, the trip should take less than one. Khairi told PNN Thursday, “I tried several times recently to travel to Ramallah City, but every time we get one of the barriers, soldiers refused to allow us to pass because we live in Jenin. ”

Weekly Report: On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, 04 - 10 May 2006
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 5/11/2006
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Escalate Attacks on Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) -- *9 Palestinians killed by IOF. *IOF committed another extra-judicial execution in Gaza. *24 Palestinian civilians, including 7 children and 3 women, were wounded by IOF gunfire. *IOF continued to shell Palestinian areas in the Gaza Strip, particularly the northern area, wounding Palestinian civilians and damaging a number of houses and civilian facilities. *IOF conducted 38 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, particularly Nablus. *61 Palestinian civilians, including 11 children, were arrested by IOF. *7 houses and a school were transformed by IOF into military sites. *IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT; IOF have continued to close border crossings of the Gaza Strip... Full Report (PDF)

Explosive Charge Detonated near a Security Officer's House in Jabalia
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 5/11/2006
Unidentified assailants detonated an explosive charge placed on the door of a Preventive Security Officer in the Tal E'Za'tar Neighborhood of Jabalia. No injuries were reported. PCHR's initial investigation indicates that at 02:45 on Thursday, 11 May 2006, unidentified assailants detonated an explosive charge on the door of the house belonging to Abdel Hai Mohammad Qarmout, a 28-year-old resident of the Tal E'Za'tar neighborhood in Jabalia, who works as a First Lieutenant in the Preventive Security Apparatus. The explosion did not cause any injuries but damaged the house door, walls, and windows. In addition, a neighboring house was damaged and a car was destroyed.

4 Citizens Injured by Gunmen in the Northern Gaza Strip
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 5/11/2006
Two brothers of a senior member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades were injured by shots fired by unknown gunmen in the Saftawi area, west of Jabalia. They were injured while on their way to their brother’s house in the Towam area. In response to the incident, the victims' brother shot two Hamas members in the northern Gaza Strip. PCHR's initial investigation indicates that at approximately 02:45 on Thursday, 11 May 2006, unknown gunmen fired at Basem Ibrahim El-Madhoun (33) and his brother Rafat (22), who are from Beit Lahya. At the time, they were traveling in a car in the Saftawi area and were heading to their brother’s house located in the Towam area, west of Jabalia. As a result of the shooting, Basem was injured by two bullets to the back and Rafat was injured by three bullets to the right hand.

A Joint March of Palestinians and Israelis:
International Solidarity Movement 5/11/2006
No to Walls and Checkpoints - Yes to Negotiation - No to Unilateral “Convergence” -- In contrast to the Israeli government’s assertion that “there is no partner”, and its program for unilateral annexation, the residents of A-Ram continue their joint activities with Israelis, against the occupation and for a peace that is just for both peoples. This march is the first in a series of actions by a coalition of Israelis and Palestinians together with the residents of A-Ram. The Wall, which bisects the main street of A-Ram, has critically damaged the life of the residents. It has divided families, stopped workers from reaching their workplace and cut off teachers and students from their schools; in fact, three schools have already been forced to close. The Wall has turned a thriving urban center into a jail.

Israelis Demand Protection for Palestinian Kids
Palestine Chronicle 5/10/2006
The subjection of elementary school children to attacks of lawbreakers in the absence of proper defense is unbearable," read the letter. -- CAIRO - A cohort of Israeli intellectuals, academicians and artists have joined hands in demanding protection for Palestinian school children against repeated assaults by Jewish settlers, Israel's Haaretz daily reported on Wednesday, May 10. "Beyond the disgrace that requires military escort for small children and the powerlessness in the face of the attackers, it seems the escort in its current format is not enough to protect the children," they said in a letter sent to Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert. "The subjection of elementary school children to attacks of lawbreakers in the absence of proper defense is unbearable," read the letter.

Supreme Court Orders Israel Prison Service to Reconsider Directives Concerning Children?s Visits with their Incarcerated Parents
Adalah 5/3/2006
On 26 April 2006, the Supreme Court of Israel ordered the Israel Prison Service (IPS) to reexamine new directives within 45 days concerning children's visits with their incarcerated parents. Under the new directives, political prisoners must submit written requests in advance to the IPS in order to gain permission to have physical contact with their children during visits. The Court also instructed the IPS to investigate the possibility of restricting the right of political prisoners to enjoy physical contact with their children only in exceptional cases, and only for security-related reasons. Israeli law distinguishes between political prisoners, the vast majority of whom are Palestinian citizens of Israel or Palestinians from the Occupied Territories, classified as "security prisoners", and ordinary criminal prisoners.

Out of Money but Not Resources
Washington Post 5/12/2006
With Aid Cut Off, Palestinians Turn to Each Other to Get By -- BEIT IKSA, West Bank -- At the end of last month, a crowd gathered in the town hall here to take part in an unusual act. About 75 people, all employees of the Palestinian Authority, were getting paid. Like the rest of the 150,000 Palestinian civil servants, the teachers, bureaucrats and policemen here had not received a paycheck for nearly two months, the result of a freeze in international aid following Hamas's victory in January legislative elections. But this village has a patron, a native son who prospered in the United Arab Emirates. Although he has returned to his birthplace only a handful of times since leaving with his family following the 1967 Middle East war, over the years Zuhair Jubran has remembered his village in trying times, few more so than now.

Meshal urges Hamas, Fatah to unite under banner of 'resistance'
Ha'aretz 5/12/2006
The two main Palestinian groups, Hamas and Fatah, should unite and fight Israel rather than fighting each other, the Hamas leader, Khaled Meshal, said Thursday. Speaking at the end of a two-day conference, Meshal said Hamas could close ranks with Fatah on the platform of "liberating Palestine, not recognizing Israel and adopting the path of Jihad and resistance. "Meshal made no reference to the 18-point agreement between Hamas and Fatah prisoners held by Israel that was announced earlier Thursday. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who is also the leader of Fatah, endorsed the agreement, but its acceptance would amount to a significant shift by Hamas. The accord calls for a Palestinian state alongside Israel, and Hamas has long refused to recognize Israel.

IDF sources: People's army a fiction
YNet News 5/12/2006
IDF officials frustrated over High Court's decision not to cancel law enabling yeshiva students to defer military service; 'we want to create feeling of equality. Least they can do is contribute something to State,' official says -- The High Court of Justice's decision not to cancel the Tal Law enabling yeshiva students to defer military service sparked harsh responses in the IDF. Although senior officers were cautious not to publicly criticize the ruling, even IDF Chief of Staff Major-General Dan Halutz was unable to hold back his disapproval. "There is no reason why my children should serve, but others won't serve at all," Halutz said during a conference of the Office of Trade and Industry in Be'er Sheva.

After death threats, Mayor of Khan Younis resigns
Ma'an News 5/11/2006
Khan Younis- Ma'an- Mayor of Khan Younis has presented his resignation to the municipality council as a result of the repeated attacks on the municipality and threats that he will be killed by unknown armed men. Fayez Abu Shamalah said that his resignation is due to the deterioration of the security in the city and the escalation of attacks which he said threatens the whole city. In a press release the mayor said that, after assaults on the municipality and threats to kill him that have been met by no action or reaction by the Palestinian security bodies or any responsible authority, he prefers to resign. [end]

Welfare Ministry 'told IDF about rape on base 2.5 years ago'
Ha'aretz 5/11/2006
The Social Welfare Ministry said Wednesday that a social worker had informed the army two and a half years ago about the statutory rape of a 12-year-old girl living on an Israel Air Force base, but that the army had said the issue was not its concern. About 20 soldiers and civilians have been implicated in the statutory rape case at the base, which came to light last week. The girl, now 14, told investigators she had consented to the sexual activity, even though she had been under the legal age of consent. The ministry said the social worker, in an attempt to clarify the situation, had been transferred from one officer to another until she was told that social services authorities would have to deal with the incident by themselves. -- See also: Israeli soldiers accused of raping 11-year-old

Gaza militants cook up deadly mix
BBC 5/12/2006
Since the start of the year, Palestinian militants have fired hundreds of home-made rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel, killing two Israeli civilians. The Israeli army has hit back hard, firing some 6,000 shells into Gaza. Five Palestinian civilians have been killed in these attacks. But neither side shows any sign of giving up. Inside a makeshift kitchen with whitewashed walls, a girl's bike with stabilisers and pink trim lies on the floor. In the room next door, children's voices can be heard chattering. Overhead, the roof is made corrugated iron - protection from both the fierce sunlight and from the Israeli drones which would love to look down and see what I can see. What I can see are three masked men - Gaza's rocket makers.

4 Qassams hit western Negev
YNet News 5/11/2006
Four Negev regional council heads demand Defense Minister Peretz, PM Olmert declare Gaza perimeter ‘confrontation line,’ allot budget to secure, develop area for sake of Israel's strategic security -- Palestinians fired four Qassam rockets at the western Negev Thursday night from the northern Gaza Strip. There were no reports of damage or casualties, and according to security establishment assessments, the rockets landed in open areas. Earlier Thursday, Negev regional council heads.... addressed Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with demands to declare the region a confrontation line.

Shoot-outs and exploding devices in Gaza; perpetrators unknown
Ma'an News 5/11/2006
Gaza- Ma'an- Medical sources in Shifa'a hospital in Gaza have reported that two brothers, Refat and Basim Ibrahim Madhoun, 21 and 34 years, have been injured in unknown shooting in the north of the Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses said that a number of armed men stepped out of a jeep and a Subaru car at 2 am this morning and started shooting at a car the two brothers were travelling in. The brothers were on their way to the house of a third brother, Samih Madhoun, who is a leader with the al-Aqsa Brigades (a Fatah-affiliated military wing). The shooting occurred in the main street near Samih's house in Gaza City. Witnesses suggested that it might have been Samih who was the one targeted, but he was not in the car.

Aqsa Brigades shoot at Israeli jeep in Nablus
Ma'an News 5/11/2006
Gaza-Nablus- Ma'an- The Al Aqsa Brigades, the military wing affiliated to Fatah, have announced that they are responsible for the shooting at an Israeli military jeep in Hitten St. in Nablus on Thursday. A statement was released by the Brigades saying that one of its groups attacked the jeep in the city and hit it directly, and then they withdraw to their base. [end]

Aqsa Brigades fire projectiles at Zizzufim
Ma'an News 5/11/2006
Gaza- Ma'an-The Al Aqsa Brigades, the military wing affiliated to Fatah, have claimed responsibility for the launching of two homemade projectiles at the Israeli military position of Zizzufim early on Thursday. In a statement issued on Thursday the Brigades said that the launching of the projectiles was in retaliation for the Israeli attacks and aggressions against the Palestinians. [end]

Militants to be charged in murder of Minister Ze'evi
Ha'aretz 5/11/2006
The Jerusalem District Court is to charge on Friday four Palestinian militants suspected in the October 2001 murder of Minister Rehavam Ze'evi. The suspects are members of the militant group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. They were detained in an Israel Defense Forces raid in a Jericho prison. District Attorney Eran Shender and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz decided in their deliberations not to try another suspect, former secretary-general of the PFLP, Ahmed Sadaat, for involvement in the murder after finding insufficient evidence to his guilt. Sadaat and Poaz Shubaki, a former senior financial man in the Palestinian Authority, will be tried in an IDF court in the West Bank, however, on charges of smuggling weapons and other security crimes.

Masked gunmen shoot man in Gaza Strip
Ma'an News 5/11/2006
Gaza- Ma'an- Palestinian citizen Mohammad Hassan Rajab, 30 years, was seriously injured on Thursday morning when he was shot by anonymous armed and masked men in the northern Gaza StripThe director of public relations at Shifa'a Hospital in Gaza City, Jom'ah Saqqa, said that Rajab was shot in his thighs and is now suffering from broken legs and is in the surgery room. It is reported that Rajab's brother is a member of the Al Qassam Brigades, the military wing affiliated to Hamas. [end]

Two Islamic Jihad leaders arrested in Jenin during armed clashes
Ma'an News 5/11/2006
Jenin- Ma'an- Israeli forces arrested two prominent leaders of the Al Quds Brigades, the military wing affiliated to Islamic Jihad, in Jenin on Thursday. Salih Saadi, 28 years, and Mohammad Jamal were arrested after armed clashes broke out in the east of Jenin. Eyewitnesses said that more than 20 Israeli military vehicles had raided the city of Jenin and surrounded the house where they were hiding. In the violent confrontations, four children received light injuries. Following the arrests, the Israeli forces launched a search campaign in the area and turned one of the houses into a military position. Salih Saadi was released from prison in 2004 and just one month after that, he became a Palestinian "wanted" by the Israeli forces. [end]

Aqsa Brigades warned of "suspicious elements" aiding Israel to target the resistance
Ma'an News 5/11/2006
Gaza- Ma'an- The Al Aqsa Brigades (Fatah-affiliated) has declared that the routine and programmed targeting of members of the Al Aqsa Brigades by the Israeli forces and others, who the Brigades described as "suspicious elements", is "clear evidence that the Israelis are targeting the Palestinian resistance in order to end this resistance. "A statement issued on Thursday said that "all Palestinian people should be careful" and warned that "those people who are going to support these suspicious elements are only serving the Israeli occupation. "The statement called for the interior ministry to "take strong action and chase all the collaborators and bring them to justice. " [end]

Evacuees: State trying to trick us
YNet News 5/11/2006
Gaza evacuees living in tent encampment claim State plans on moving them permanently to Ashkelon apartment building instead of offering them permanent residence in Kibbutz Palmahim -- Evacuees from the Gaza settlement of Elei Sinai, who have been residing at a tent encampment in the Yad Mordechai junction, claimed Thursday that the Disengagement Authority tried to trick them into permanently moving into an apartment complex in the southern town of Ashkelon, contrary to an agreement between the families and the Authority. The evacuees were scheduled to see an apartment building in Ashkelon, where they were meant to be housed temporarily until permanent residences in Kibbutz Palmahim, south of Tel Aviv, were ready.

Israel Has Nearly 300 Atomic Warheads
Palestine Chronicle 5/11/2006
The Post has revealed that Israel has succeeded in modifying US-made cruise missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads to be launched from submarines. -- LONDON - Israel, the only nuclear power in the Middle East and the sixth country in the world to acquire nuclear weapons, has between 200 and 300 atomic warheads. This estimate "is based on the production capacity of the country's reactors," John Eldridge, editor-in-chief of Jane's Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defense told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Tuesday, April 9. The International Institute of Strategic Studies estimates the number of warheads as being "up to 200". An unknown number of ground-to-ground missiles, comprising short range Jericho 1 and medium range Jericho 2 missiles, forms Israel's strategic force. -- See also: Israel Has Sub-Based Atomic Arms Capability

UN submits complaint over IAF violations of Lebanese airspace
Ha'aretz 5/12/2006
Israel Air Force warplanes flew across villages in southern Lebanon on Thursday, prompting a complaint from the UN envoy to Lebanon who said such illegal flights were increasing. Geir Pederson, the UN secretary general's representative in Lebanon, issued a statement saying Israel had violated Lebanese airspace six times on Thursday in flights that involved a total of nine aircraft. He expressed the United Nations' "concern at the recent increase in violations by Israeli aircraft of Lebanese airspace" and called on Israel to stop all such flights. In Jerusalem, an Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman refused to comment on Pederson's statement, saying only: "We do not discuss air force activity. "

Oslo walks thin line on controversial visit by Hamas official
The Daily Star 5/12/2006
STOCKHOLM: A senior Hamas official is expected in Oslo in the next few days for a controversial visit on which he might meet Norwegian Foreign Ministry officials, Palestinian and Norwegian officials said Thursday. Atef Edwane, the Palestinian Authority's (PA) minister for refugee affairs, was expected in Oslo some time between Thursday night and next Tuesday, when his European visa expires, said PA officials in Stockholm, where the minister has been staying. The planned visit sparked protests from the U.S. , which has been pressing for total isolation of Hamas until the group recognizes Israel and renounces violence. Norway, broker of the now defunct Oslo Accords, follows the UN list of terror organizations, which does not include Hamas.

Conference hears suggestions on how to kick-start Palestinian peace process
The Daily Star 5/12/2006
WASHINGTON: The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars held a conference this week entitled "Politics and Diplomacy: Next Steps in Arab-Israeli Peacemaking. " The conference, which took place on Wednesday, featured two panels of Palestinian, Arab and Israeli former senior government officials, in addition to a member of the Israeli media. The conference concluded with a keynote speech by Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi ambassador to the United States. Joseph Gildenhorn, chairman of the board of trustees at the Woodrow Wilson Center, welcomed attendees to the conference, followed by ATFP president Ziad Asali, who cautioned that "we are at five minutes to midnight" in terms of the issue of Israel-Palestine.

Arab MK: I would agree to grant settlers Palestinian citizenship
Ha'aretz 5/11/2006
The chairman of the Islamic Movement's southern branch, Ra'am-Ta'al MK Ibrahim Sarsur, said Thursday that he is willing to accept granting Israeli settlers in the West Bank citizenship of a future state of Palestine as part of a final status peace treaty. Speaking before an interfaith gathering in Tel Aviv, MK Sarsur denied suggestions he would accept a formula whereby settlers would remain in their homes in the West Bank as residents of the state of Israel. "Any future and final agreement with the Palestinians must be based on two principles," Sarsur said. "A withdrawal from the entire West Bank up to the '67 lines. Under no circumstances will there be territorial swaps which guarantee Israel would maintain settlement blocs in the West Bank. "

Egypt, Morocco, Israel to collaborate on dates market
Globes 5/11/2006
The agreement was signed at an international conference on date growing organized by the Peres Center for Peace. -- Representatives of Israel, Egypt and Morocco have signed a regional agreement to develop the global date market at a conference on date growing held under the auspices of the Agritech 2006 16th International Agricultural Exhibition in Tel Aviv. The Peres Center for Peace organized the conference. At the conference, Vice Premier Shimon Peres said three crops were historically associated with the Middle East: the wine grape, which gladdens the human heart; the olive, the symbol for peace; and the date, a symbol of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The basis of the date project will focus on consumer preferences, crop planning, irrigation, fertilizer, pesticides, and post-harvest handling.

Appeal: Ezra’s car
International Solidarity Movement 5/11/2006
We are from the National Committee Against the Wall in the Beit Omar area of Hebron, Palestine. We work against the racial discrimination wall, Palestinians and Israelis together with the common aim of stopping the wall in the Hebron area, in villages and towns such as Beit Omar, Jabaa, Yatta and Twani. We have been working together for the past five years, and all this time we have been using the car that belonged to Mr. Ezra Nawi, an Israeli. Even though it was his own private car, we Palestinians used it more than him – he even paid for all the fuel. He himself has been struggling literally day and night in an effort to strengthen the Palestinian villagers in the South Hebron area as the Israeli government and settlers try to expel them from their land.... If you could contribute any amount of money to help us buy back the car for him, we would be very grateful.

Global Conference in Geneva to Sharpen Focus on Boycotts of Apartheid Israel
Stop The Wall 5/11/2006
The Swiss committees of “Collectifs Urgence Palestine” and the European Coordination for Palestine (ECCP) will hold an international Conference in Geneva, May 26-28. With boycott workshops and presentations organised, and a wide array of speakers and activists in attendance, the conference has the potential to inject fresh vigour into the various boycott Apartheid Israel initiatives. Organizers state how “the recent sanctions imposed by the U.S. and the E. U. to punish Palestinians for the legislative elections outcome add to the abdication by the international community of its obligations in the face of violations of international law, the Geneva Conventions, the refusal to comply with the International Court of Justice advisory opinion concerning the wall as well as with dozens of UN resolutions. ”

Family of Briton shot dead by IDF demands soldier be put on trial
Ha'aretz 5/12/2006
LONDON - The family of a British cameraman shot dead by an Israel Defense Forces soldier in Gaza met with new Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett Thursday and urged her to press the Israelis to bring charges against those responsible, the family said. A jury at a London coroner's court ruled in April that James Miller, 34, - who was shot in the neck in the town of Rafah in May 2003 while filming a documentary about the impact of violence on children in the region - was murdered. After the meeting, which had been scheduled with Beckett's predecessor Jack Straw, Sophy Miller, the cameraman's widow, said the foreign secretary had given assurances that she would be putting renewed pressure on Israel to bring his killer to justice.

Films from sites of radical closure
The Daily Star 5/12/2006
OBERHAUSEN, Germany: In a scene from Avi Mograbi's short film "Detail," an Israeli military vehicle blocks the path of a Palestinian family trying to get an elderly woman to the hospital. The scene plays out like a perverse reprise of the kit car in "Knight Rider. " From the cab of the amped up, camouflage green truck, windows tinted to opaque blackness, an unseen driver barks through a speaker system, "La, waqif, rouh, rouh. " ("No, stop, go, go. ") The vehicle creeps toward the distraught family like a lion cornering its prey. A little girl bursts into tears. Meanwhile, Mograbi's camera seems desperate to seek out the human form behind the voice. At one point, his lens jabs into the cab itself, after the voice demands to see the filmmaker's press pass. But again, the camera registers only blackness.

Difficult conditions for Palestinian economy can be overcome, study finds
ReliefWeb 5/9/2006
Development-driven reform measures recommended, with emphasis on "non-distorting" aid, preparations for statehood -- Deteriorating economic performance and declining living conditions under more intensive restrictions in the occupied Palestinian territory since 2000 have left Palestinians frustrated by higher levels of poverty and unemployment and have damaged the already weak government of the Palestinian Authority (PA), a new UNCTAD study reveals. The study, titled "The Palestinian war-torn economy: aid, development and state formation," recommends that the PA complement short-term emergency responses with long-term planning and policies that focus on poverty reduction and employment growth.... and that the PA set up... institutions for eventual statehood despite... no end in sight to the Israeli occupation. -- The Palestinian war-torn economy: Aid, development and state formation

The Palestinian war-torn economy: Aid, development and state formation
ReliefWeb/United Nations Conference on Trade and Development 5/11/2006
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: After almost four decades of occupation, restrictive measures, violent confrontations and war-like conditions continue to dominate economic prospects of the Palestinian territory of the West Bank and Gaza. Setting the Palestinian economy on a path of sustained growth requires understanding the conditions that influenced its long-term development prospects, particularly the structures established after the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and the institutional set-up affecting its growth dynamics. Economists and economic historians have long recognized that once structures have been formed, they tend to lock-in a certain evolutionary path. -- Full report (PDF - 688 KB)

Oil Refineries warns of fuel shortage by Sunday
Globes 5/11/2006
The shortage will be caused by the suspending of the supply of crude oil to Oil Refineries Haifa. -- Oil Refineries Ltd. has warned of a severe shortage of oil and petroleum products from Sunday, following the decision by Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Co. (EAPC) to suspend the supply of crude oil to Oil Refineries Haifa. Oil Refineries chairman Ohad Marani and general manager Yashar Ben-Mordechai are due to hold an urgent meeting today with EAPC president Oren Shachor and general manager Yair Waideh. Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Eli Ronen will also attend the meeting, which will aim to reach agreement on tariffs for the supply of crude oil by EAPC to Haifa Oil Refineries.

Protest against Kadima-UTJ agreement
YNet News 5/12/2006
Social organizations condemn move to grant money to large families, say law will discriminate in favor of Arab, ultra-Orthodox families and hurt small families -- Social organizations protested an agreement reached through coalition talks with the United Torah Judaism, according to which monthly budgets will be granted to families with many children. According to the agreement, the budgets will be granted to families with over four children. The Yedid organization and the Center for Jewish Pluralism turned to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Thursday with a demand to grant funds bases on equal criteria, and not based on sector.

Israel’s trade deficit balloons
Globes 5/11/2006
Thre deficit for January-April is $1 billion higher than in the corresponding period of last year. -- Israel’s trade deficit has ballooned since the beginning of 2006, because of higher prices for imported energy products caused by the surge in oil prices. The Central Bureau of Statistics reported today that Israel’s trade deficit totaled $2. 73 billion in January-April 2006, compare with $1. 79 billion in the corresponding period of 2005. Israel imported $2. 2 billion worth of energy products in January-April, compared with $1. 9 billion in the corresponding period of last year. Israeli exports totaled $12. 13 billion in January-April, and imports totaled $14. 86 billion. Diamond exports totaled $3. 1 billion, 9. 3% less than in the corresponding period of last year.

Bickering continues over key Iraqi ministries as death toll mounts
The Daily Star 5/12/2006
Shiite in-fighting over who should head Iraq's vital Oil Ministry is delaying efforts by the prime minister-designate to form a unity government aimed at averting a slide toward civil war, officials said on Thursday. At least 13 people, including a history professor, were killed in Iraq on Thursday. Meanwhile, prime minister-designate Nuri al-Maliki missed a personal deadline to present his new Cabinet, extending the country's already protracted power vacuum. The constitutional deadline for the new Cabinet falls on May 21. On Thursday Maliki assured the ambassadors of Britain and Iran that the new Cabinet would be ready in the next "few days," his office said in a statement.

US in secret gun deal
The Guardian 5/12/2006
Small arms shipped from Bosnia to Iraq 'go missing' as Pentagon uses dealers -- The Pentagon has secretly shipped tens of thousands of small arms from Bosnia to Iraq in the past two years, using a web of private companies, at least one of which is a noted arms smuggler blacklisted by Washington and the UN. According to a report by Amnesty International, which investigated the sales, the US government arranged for the delivery of at least 200,000 Kalashnikov machine guns from Bosnia to Iraq in 2004-05. But though the weaponry was said to be for arming the fledgling Iraqi military, there is no evidence of the guns reaching their recipient.... The US shipments were made over a year, from July 2004, via the American Eagle base at Tuzla, and the Croatian port of Ploce by the Bosnian border. -- Amnesty: Growing network of arms brokers and transporters fuelling killings, rape, and torture

Palestinian professor to appeal jail term in U.S. terror finance case
Ha'aretz 5/12/2006
TAMPA, Florida - Palestinian former professor Sami Al-Arian will appeal a judge's decision to sentence him to additional prison time for his role in providing support to a terrorist group, federal court records show. Attorney C. Peter Erlinder filed the notice to the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday. A federal jury last year acquitted Al-Arian of eight counts of aiding the Palestinian Islamic Jihad while deadlocking on nine other counts. Instead of facing a second trial on the remaining counts, Al-Arian pleaded guilty to one count of providing services to members of the PIJ, labeled a terrorist group by the U.S. government. U.S. District Judge James Moody sentenced him on May 1 to four years and nine months in prison, the most allowed under the terms of a plea agreement that also calls for his deportation.

Bomb rocks plant owned by prominent Hizbullah member
The Daily Star 5/12/2006
TYRE: The latest in a string of bombings apparently targeting Hizbullah took place in Tyre on Wednesday night when a 15-kilogram explosive device was detonated at a manufacturing plant owned by a prominent member of the resistance. The plant suffered extensive damage to its main gate and interior in the blast, which blew a large crater at the entrance. The plant, owned by Hussein Youssef, makes electrical cable. Civil Defense personnel, medics, police and forensic experts arrived on the scene shortly after the blast, immediately cordoning off the site as they began to conduct an investigation into the incident. Wednesday's blast was the third in a series of such incidents that began with a similar 2004 bombing of an armory in a building owned by another prominent Hizbullah member.

Syria faces heavy pressure at UN to help draw border
The Daily Star 5/12/2006
BEIRUT: A draft resolution asking Syria to comply with Lebanon's call to demarcate borders and establish diplomatic ties is set to be circulated among Security Council members Friday. Excerpts of the text, drafted by the U.S. , France and co-sponsored by Britain, were leaked to reporters Thursday, and said Syria's cooperation "would constitute a significant step" toward asserting Lebanon's sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence and improving bilateral ties. The draft also calls on Damascus to take measures to prevent further movements of arms into Lebanese territory in line with previous UN resolutions. It urges "all concerned states and parties" to cooperate fully with the Lebanese government and the UN to achieve this goal.

Assad ready to receive Siniora, establish embassies'
The Daily Star 5/12/2006
BEIRUT: Syrian President Bashar Assad is "ready" to receive Lebanon's premier and establish embassies with Lebanon, a Sudanese official on a mediation initiative between the two countries said on Thursday. Siniora has been attempting to arrange a visit to Damascus in a bid to improve strained relations with the Syrian regime. He wants to discuss the establishment of embassies in the two countries, the demarcation of borders and cooperation in establishing the Lebanese identity of the Shebaa Farms. Syrian officials previously said Siniora's visit would only be possible once the two sides agree on the agenda of his talks.

Cairo protest sparks police rampage
The Daily Star 5/12/2006
Egyptian security forces beat activists and detained journalists on Thursday during a protest in support of judges who faced a disciplinary committee for criticizing election abuses last year. Several hundred protesters from the Muslim Brotherhood, the Kefaya movement and other opposition groups gathered in downtown Cairo and were surrounded by thousands of policemen. Riot police were seen beating protesters with truncheons. "Dozens of members of the Muslim Brothers were arrested," said spokesman Issam al-Aryan, whose party was taking part in a demonstration of support for the judges for the first time. The two rebel judges, Mahmoud Mekki and Hisham al-Bastawissi, refused to enter the courtroom where their case was supposed to be reviewed.

New call by lecturers for Israeli academic boycott
The Guardian 5/12/2006
Britain's largest lecturers' union is expected to reignite an international controversy about academic freedom with a new call for a boycott of Israeli lecturers and academic institutions which do not publicly oppose "Israeli apartheid policies". The motion will be put to representatives of the 67,000-strong National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (Natfhe) at its national conference at the end of the month. The motion "invites members to consider their own responsibility for ensuring equity and non-discrimination in contacts with Israeli educational institutions or individuals, and to consider the appropriateness of a boycott of those that do not publicly dissociate themselves from such policies.


The hum of the centrifuges
By Ari Shavit, Ha'aretz 5/11/2006
      Israel's role now is to keep a low profile: It should stick to the road map, deal with the illegal outposts and not draw any unusual attention to itself. It must help Western public opinion to understand the inevitable and also prepare Israeli public opinion for the unavoidable. Only after the great international crisis of 2007 can Israel return to the routine of the conflict, the occupation and the shaping of its borders. Only after the hum of the centrifuges has been silenced will it be possible to seriously deal with the systematic uprooting of settlements.
     Can you hear the humming? It is a little difficult. The celebration of the billions made by Warren Buffet and Eitan Wertheimer deafens the ears. The celebrations of the 25 ministers appointed by Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz are also very loud. And there is the hip-hop of the convergence. And the trance of a climbing stock market. But if you concentrate and make an effort, it is still possible to hear the hum of the centrifuges. They are turning on their axes - once cascade after the other, one and then another percentage point worth of enrichment - the clock quietly ticking toward a global crisis.
     The news is in the papers, but it is not being internalized. For the most part, the information is accessible, but it has not hit home. We are at the threshold of a genuinely historic moment.
     On the face of it, the basic facts are known: Iran is not Libya or South Africa. It will not give up its nuclear program willingly. But Iran is also not India nor Pakistan. The West cannot accept Iran's nuclear project. Therefore, the confrontation is inevitable. In the best case scenario, it will end the way the Cuban missile crisis did; in the worst case scenario, it will turn ugly and irradiate the Middle East.

Not without my daughter
By Gideon Levy, Ha'aretz 5/11/2006
      We first met in the winter of 1998 in Bethlehem. At the time, Etaf Alyan had been released from administrative detention, several months after completing a 10-year prison term for preparing a booby-trapped car and attacking a prison guard. She was a local heroine: Her 40-day hunger strike in prison, in protest over her arrest without trial, ignited a fire in the territories at the time. Veiled and charismatic, the Palestinian "Joan of Arc," as she was then dubbed, told her story.
     She was a communist in her youth and an Islamic Jihad activist when she grew up, whose brother was beaten to death by soldiers in 1976 and whose uncle was shot and died in her father's arms in their lost village of Hulda in 1948. In her fast and rather twisted Hebrew, she told me at the time in her thin voice, through the veil, about her man - Israeli prisoner Hafez Kundus from Jaffa, who was convicted of attempting to murder an Arab from Jaffa who had sold land that belonged to the Waqf (Muslim religious trust) to Jews.
     Alyan and Kundus met twice in their lives: once at their wedding ceremony, which took place behind bars, and once when he was brought from his prison in Be'er Sheva to try to convince his beloved to desist from her hunger strike. The rest of the time they used to shout to one another through the bars, in prison.

PA fighting against financial collapse
By Khalid Amayreh, AlJazeera 5/8/2006
      Interview: Omar Abul Razeq: US, Israel and EU want a weak government
     Omar Abul Razeq, a former professor of finance and now finance minister of the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority (PA), is struggling to find a way to pay the wages of thousands of civil servants after the US and EU discontinued aid.
     Prior to the election win by Hamas, the European Union and the US were the two biggest donors to the PA, but they have cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, demanding the Islamist group first renounce violence.
     "I am searching in every nook and cranny for a solution, even a temporary succour, to alleviate the crisis," Abul Razeq says, frustrated.
     Last week, the US issued a stern warning to banks in the region, threatening them with unspecified sanctions if they transferred money to the Palestinians.
     On Saturday, hundreds of Palestinian government workers demonstrated in the West Bank and Gaza demanding overdue wages. When are you going to pay the salaries of the 165,000 civil servants? Abdul Razeq: We are working day and night to secure these payments and I hope we will be able to pay the salaries very soon. But you and other Palestinian officials have been saying this for several weeks, and nothing has materialised. Abdul Razeq: Yes, yes, I understand this too well. But I assure you, and I am sure our people know this as well, that we are doing what we can to overcome this crisis.

The Bomb in the Basement
By Jim Miles, Palestine Chronicle 5/4/2006
      The bomb itself represents the ultimate weapon for Israel, allowing them to 'stand alone' with the 'ultimate deterrence'.
     “The Bomb in the Basement – How Israel Went Nuclear and What that Means for the World.” Michael Karpin. Simon & Schuster, New York. 2006. 404 p.
     This is one of the most intriguing books I have read recently, a history of the nuclear weapons development in Israel written from the Israeli perspective. Along the way it provides a reasonable historical perspective on all of Israel, although Michael Karpin does very well at keeping to his narrowly defined topic of the nuclear history. As it turns out, that covers much of Israel’s history and with current events such as they are in the Middle East, continues to define both Israeli and American actions for the near future.
     Censorship: The book needs to be read always reminiscent of Karpin’s advisory that “The manuscript of this book was submitted to military censorship for inspection, as Israeli law requires of all Israeli media…The chief censor, an army general, is entitled by law to block publication of anything that might…damage the State of Israel.” Further into his prefatory note he indicates, “I know the regulations that we journalists have to abide by.” Taken together the reader is well advised that certain aspects of Israel are simply not up for discussion and that even before that the author arguably would have some built in subconscious limitations to the presentation of the information.

Security Prisoners or Political Prisoners? (PDF)
By Walid Daka, Adalah Newsletter April, 2006
      Arab prisoners – including Arab citizens of Israel such as myself – who have been convicted of offenses against the state's security and who are serving their sentences in prisons throughout Israel are generally classified as “security prisoners.” From my perspective, it would be more appropriate to classify them as “political prisoners.” This contention may appear outrageous, but only at first glance. After all, what differentiates these prisoners from other prisoners such as Yonah Avrushmi, who murdered Emil Greenzweig, the peace activist, or Yigal Amir, who murdered Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin? The argument generally voiced is that Israeli citizens classified as “security prisoners” are not prisoners of conscience and not imprisoned for their declared beliefs; at least some of them have been convicted of murder.
     I would like to address some of these publicly-held conceptions. Firstly, I would argue that Amir, Avrushmi and their like should not be considered “political prisoners.” Secondly, these conceptions are based on a false assumption that the proposal to amend the security classification of Arab prisoners emerged for the purpose of emphasizing the political motivations behind the offenses for which they were convicted. Thirdly, the factor which distinguishes prisoners like myself from those like Amir and Avrushmi is not rooted in the intent or objective behind the crimes perpetrated but, rather, in attitudes regarding security prisoners as displayed by various authorities.
     The State of Israel discriminates between Arab and Jewish prisoners who have committed similar crimes on various levels: at their hearings or trials, in their conditions of incarceration and with regard to the probability of obtaining pardons. The racial discrimination which permeates Israel’s democratic regime camouflages its harshest features and shrouds itself in two major dimensions of imprisonment – security and administrative needs. In every aspect of the treatment of prisoners, discrimination is cloaked in layers of concepts and practices intended to disguise the ugly truth; hence, the task of exposing it is difficult as each layer must be peeled away separately.

The great catastrophe
By Karma Nabulsi, The Guardian 5/12/2006
      Monday marks the 58th anniversary of the founding of Israel in 1948 - and the expulsion of Palestinians from their land. With millions still living under occupation or in exile, what Palestinians call their 'nakba' remains at the heart of their national identity
     In the last week of April 1948, combined Irgun-Haganah forces launched an offensive to drive the Palestinian people out of the beautiful port city of Jaffa, forcing the remaining inhabitants to flee by sea; many drowned in the process. My aunt Rose, a teenager at that time, survived the trip to begin her life in exile on the Lebanese coast. Each Palestinian refugee family grows up hearing again and again the stories of those final moments in Palestine, the decisions, the panic, as we live in the midst of their terrible consequences. Throughout 1948, Jewish forces expelled many thousands of Palestinians from their villages, towns and cities into Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of others fled in fear. The purpose was to create a pure Jewish state, ethnically cleansed of the original inhabitants who had lived there for centuries. The creation of the state of Israel was the heart of this cataclysmic historical event for the Palestinians - the mass forced expulsion of a people; the more than 50 massacres carried out over the summer of 1948 by various armed Jewish forces; the demolition of villages to ensure the refugees could not return - all this is summed up in a single word for Palestinians: nakba, the catastophe.
     "We must do everything to ensure they [the Palestinians] never do return ... The old will die and the young will forget," said David Ben-Gurion, the founder of Israel, in 1949. But the young have not forgotten. The event is remembered every year on May 15, and the youth are at the heart of it: at a rally on the site of the destroyed village of Umm al-Zinnat near Haifa, Salim Fahmawi, now 65, a primary school student when the soldiers entered the village 56 years ago to expel them, told an Israeli reporter: "The presence of so many young people, many of whom are third- and fourth-generation post-1948, gives me a sense of relief - because I know the torch has not been extinguished and is passing from generation to generation."

One bowl serves many
By Rachel Shabi, AlJazeera 5/8/2006
      Israeli and Palestinian artists have joined forces to send a message of reconciliation.
     Their exhibition, which opened on Saturday, drew more than 2,500 people to at the Museum of Israeli Art, Ramat Gan, in suburban Tel Aviv.
     Offering Reconciliation showcases the work of more than 130 Israeli and Palestinian artists, who took part in the project for the Bereaved Families Forum for Peace, Reconciliation and Tolerance.
     The group hopes to spread its message to a wider audience through art.
     "To reach a different people, you need different mediums," says Aziz Abu Sarah, one of the forum directors. "Even people who disagree with our message were able to come to the exhibition and see what we are doing."
     The exhibition features artists such as Menashe Kadishman, Dani Karavan and Mohammad Said Kalash alongside emerging talents.
     One bowl: Each artist was given an identical ceramic bowl from which to create their work.
     "The bowl is connected with the basic gesture of feeding, or giving," says Dafna Zmora, one of the exhibition curators. "It is something that contains – a message or an idea."
     Some artists smashed the bowl and presented a work from its pieces. Others built sculptures with the bowl as a base or used the bowl as a canvas for paintings.

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