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Occupied Palestine and Israel: News and Articles

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700 housing units to be built in W. Bank
Jerusalem Post 9/4/2006
The government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday said it was seeking bids for construction of 700 housing units in the West Bank - its largest settlement construction project since taking office in May. The Construction and Housing Ministry published ads in Israeli newspapers requesting proposals for the new construction in Ma'aleh Adumim and Betar Illit, both outside Jerusalem. Ministry spokesman Kobi Bleich confirmed the project is the largest so far by the new government. Previously, the government issued bids to build 98 homes in other projects. Despite his calls for a withdrawal, Olmert has repeatedly said Israel would keep major settlement blocs - including Ma'aleh Adumim and Betar Illit - under any final peace deal with the Palestinians. In all, more than 60,000 people live in the two communities.

Israel, Hamas deny reports of prisoner swap breakthrough
Ha'aretz 9/5/2006
Reports of a breakthrough in talks on the release of kidnapped soldier Corporal Gilad Shalit are exaggerated and overly optimistic, Israeli political and security sources said yesterday. The sources denied reports that Israel had given Hamas, via Egypt, a detailed proposal for releasing Palestinian prisoners in return for Shalit. "There will be no proposal before we have received reliable information on Shalit's fate and know whether he is alive. None of the negotiators has seen him to this day. We are far from a breakthrough, even a small one," said one source. The sources added that Israel is not negotiating directly with Hamas, which was responsible for Shalit's abduction. Hamas also released a statement yesterday denying reports that Israel had presented it with a new proposal through Egypt.

Father and Son Killed in Cold Blood, 2 Daughters Seriously Injured, 9 Homes Destroyed
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 9/3/2006
IOF Special Forces Move into Beit Hanoun - 2 Activists Detained, 6 Civilians Injured -- In another crime in the ongoing war crimes in the Gaza Strip, IOF killed a Palestinian civilian and his son in cold blood in the town of Beit Hanoun in the predawn hours of Saturday, 2 September 2006. In addition, two of the slain man's daughters were seriously injured. The raid by IOF undercover units also resulted in the injury of 6 civilians, including two parents and their 3 children, and the destruction of 9 homes. The casualties and damages were inflicted in an operation aiming to detain 2 "wanted" activists. PCHR's preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 02:30 on Saturday, 2 September 2006, an IOF undercover unit moved 2 kilometers inside the Gaza Strip into the town of Beit Hanoun.

'Occupation To Blame' For Fires Devastating Olive Groves In The West Bank
Stop The Wall 9/2/2006
Hundreds of olive trees were destroyed yesterday by fires that broke out on Palestinian land cut off by the Apartheid Wall. The villages of Azun, Izbit Tabib and Nabi Ilyas lost several hundred dunums of land to the blaze, which local people suspect may have been started deliberately by Jewish settlers. Four hundred dunums were burnt in Azun alone. The Mayor of Azun said: "Yesterday at around one in the afternoon, people saw smoke coming up over the wall in the north of the village, just a few kilometers from Zufin. "People gathered by the gate in the wall, but were prevented from going to put out the fire by Occupation soldiers who told them that they had to have permission to enter. After half an hour's protest, the people were finally let through the gates... "

Israeli officials 'face war crimes risk'
AlJazeera 9/4/2006
A Danish politician has reportedly tried to have Tzipi Livni arrested -- Israel's public officials have been told to watch what they say in public about the Lebanese and Palestinian conflicts for fear of being prosecuted for war crimes, political sources say. The sources say the foreign ministry has established a legal team to deal with efforts by foreign groups to arrange the prosecution abroad of Israelis involved in the war against Hezbollah guerrillas and crackdowns on Palestinians. A ministry memorandum issued to Israel's military and other government agencies urges officials to avoid belligerent remarks that could potentially be used to back up allegations they were complicit in excessive use of force in Lebanon or Gaza. "The type of language now considered off-limits includes 'crushing' the enemy, and 'cleansing', 'levelling',...

Strikes creating more uncertainty in Palestinian students’ already uncertain lives
Palestine News Network 9/4/2006
Palestinians are so enmeshed in politics that it is akin to daily bread. The two are inseparable as there is no choice under occupation and now in the face of strikes. The affects are felt by the children whose lives are politicized from birth. Many parents are political prisoners or were killed, others are unemployed or underemployed, opportunities are restricted by closures and checkpoints, and now the teachers are on strike. Eighth grade student, Mohammad Issa, told PNN, “I know the reason for the strike. It is because the salaries have been stopped, so I sit in the house instead of sitting on the desks. I hope that God will solve this problem of the teachers and the salaries. It has put us in a real dilemma. ”

Hamas on the brink of deal to lead new coalition in move to end funding crisis
The Guardian 9/5/2006
Palestinian PM says talks close to conclusion · Recognition of Israel likely to remain sticking point -- Rival Palestinian factions are close to forming a new power-sharing government which the militant group Hamas expects to lead, the Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, said yesterday. A national unity government is intended to lift the international freeze on funding to the Palestinian Authority, which has left it facing an economic crisis and a wave of strikes by thousands of unpaid civil servants. But Hamas officials say even in a new joint government with its main political rival, Fatah, the movement will not give explicit recognition to Israel - one of the conditions set by the international community for funding to resume.

Israeli army leaves Khaza'a village, east of Khan Younis, after inflicting massive damage
International Middle East Media Center 9/4/2006
The Israeli army left Khaza'a village east of Khan Younis in the Gaza strip after having destroyed a good portion of the village land, Monday afternoon. Army bulldozers uprooted farmlands and olive orchards that belong to the residents of the village. According to local sources, troops already destroyed scores of Dunams of farming land and uprooted more than 100 olive trees. The troops invaded the village in the morning and took one prisoner, identified as Eid Qadih, a 60-year old farmer. [end]

Staple foods in short supply in the Gaza Strip
Ma'an News 9/4/2006
GAZA CITY, 4 September (IRIN) - Every two months, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) gives out food to Palestinian refugees living in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian-administered area bordering Israel and Egypt. Its latest food delivery has been delayed by a lack of access. "Food distribution will not start until we can get our products into Gaza. The 830,000 refugees we feed will not have any food from us," said John Ging, UNRWA's Director of Operations in Gaza. UNRWA usually brings food supplies through the Karni Crossing, a cargo terminal on the eastern end of a barrier between Israel and the Gaza Strip. But Israel has closed the crossing, saying it discovered a tunnel that could be used to attack its border personnel. "We had to close the checkpoint because we have civilians working there and we don't want them killed by the Palestinians," said Shlomo Dror, spokesman for Israel's Government Coordination Office...

Israeli Army injures a women and attacks three reporters in Hebron
International Middle East Media Center 9/4/2006
The Israeli army injured one women and three reporters during a search campaign of residents' houses in the West Bank city of Hebron on Monday. Medical sources in Hebron said that Mayson Missk, 38, was admitted to the Hebron public hospital today after sustaining cuts and bruises all over her body from an attack by Israeli soldiers, who hit her with clubs and rifle butts while searching her house in Hebron. Missk's sister said Mayson was attacked by the soldiers when she tried to stop them from turning the house into an army post. "They started to hit her on her head and arms when she told them not to use our house as an army post" the sister said. Meanwhile, medical sources reported that soldiers also attacked [three other journalists]...

VIDEO - Bil’in Demonstrators Attacked by Experimental Weapons
IndyMedia/International Solidarity Movement 9/1/2006
One Palestinian and one Israeli were also hit with a sponge bullet, which places needles within the skin and sucks out blood. -- Friday afternoon, the first of September 2006, the non-violent Bil’in demonstration began as it has every week for over 18 months, with Palestinians, Israelis and internationals today totaling about 150 people, proceeding towards the illegal Wall constructed within the boundaries of Bilin’s land. -- See also: Bil’in Demonstrators Attacked by Experimental Weapons

Public sector employees in Jenin gathering in a city center tent calling for solidarity strikes
Palestine News Network 9/4/2006
Strikers in the northern West Bank Jenin District are taking their action to the streets. Government employees pitched a tent in the midst of the Jenin’s commercial activity Monday. Speaking for the local strikers committee, Sheikh Tariq said, “The committee set up in the center of the city of Jenin in order to remain in permanent communication with the Palestinian public. ”From the sit-in tent the Sheikh continued, “We want to explain the reality and true dimensions of the strike, why the suffering of public sector employees led to drastic measures and led to this call for solidarity in order to achieve just and legitimate demands. ”Sheikh Tariq extended an invitation to the general population to support the public sector employee strike. He is suggesting a general commercial strike for Tuesday.

AI: Israel must disclose details of cluster bomb attacks and accept a full investigation
Amnesty International 8/31/2006
Amnesty International today called on Israel to immediately provide maps of the areas of Lebanon into which it fired cluster bombs during the recent conflict to enable their clearance and prevent further civilian casualties. Publishing new accounts from the victims of unexploded cluster bombs, the organization also called on Israel to cooperate in a full and impartial investigation into their use of such munitions during the recent conflict. The calls followed a report from the United Nations that 90 percent of Israeli cluster bomb strikes occurred in the last 72 hours of the conflict when a ceasefire was in sight. The U. N. Mine Action Coordination Center has so far identified more than 400 bomb strike areas that are contaminated with as many as 100,000 unexploded bomblets.

Lebanon: Cluster-bombs threaten civilian lives
Amnesty International 8/21/2006
Unexploded cluster bombs in south Lebanon - fired by Israel forces during the recent conflict - are threatening the lives of civilians, especially children. Numerous unexploded but still lethal bombs have been found in villages and even inside homes. Following the conflict where an estimated 1,183 Lebanese people died – about one third of whom were children – Israeli cluster bombs are posing a terrifying threat to hundreds of thousands of civilians in post-conflict Lebanon. Children, such as six-year-old ‘Abbas Yusef Shibli, are particularly at risk. He picked up a cluster bomb while playing on 26 August, suffering multiple injuries for which he has so far undergone two blood transfusions. Cluster munitions spread bomblets – small bombs - over a wide area, many of which do not explode on impact but remain live, and lethal.

IDF troops wound three Palestinians in Bethlehem arrest raid
Ha'aretz 9/5/2006
Israel Defense Forces troops on Monday shot and wounded three Palestinians in an arrest raid near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, medics said. It was unclear whether they were militants or civilians. An IDF spokeswoman said soldiers detained one man and fired rubber-coated bullets in the air during the raid but did not identify anyone getting hit. She also said Palestinians detonated a bomb, which wounded several Palestinians. In a separate incident, a Palestinian boy was wounded by an explosive device, apparently set by militants to target IDF soldiers, Israel Radio reported. Earlier Monday, Israel Air Force helicopters fired missiles at a house in the Jabalya refugee camp next to Gaza City, destroying it, witnesses and security officials said. Two neighbors were wounded by the blasts, they said.

Bethlehem to be hemmed in on four sides, the latest for the Wall & a settler road in the southwest
Palestine News Network 9/5/2006
The Israeli forces Commander for the Central Region of the occupied West Bank, Major General Yair Naveh, has decided to confiscate 152 dunams of southern Bethlehem. The stated aims of the confiscation are “military purposes” and “the security wall. ” Director of the Committee to Defend against Land Confiscation in the southern West Bank, Khalid Al Azzeh, says that this portion of the Wall will run alongside a new settler road linking Israeli settlements surrounding Bethlehem. The road will be strictly “settler only,” for Israelis and their cars. Several villages in the southern Bethlehem District will each become individually isolated. The Wall will stretch from southern Bethlehem to the west side in the town of Al Khader and then further south to northern Hebron’s Beit Umar Village.

IDF fire kills father and son in Gaza Strip; another Palestinian killed at border fence
Ha'aretz 9/4/2006
'Security forces arrest 2 Fatah men who tried to fire rockets from W. Bank, on Hezbollah's orders' -- Israeli security forces recently arrested two Fatah activists in Tul Karm who tried unsuccessfully to launch home-made rockets into Israel. The Border Police's undercover unit arrested the pair, Tahar Amar and Hassan Offi, with an 8-kilogram explosive device and two rockets in their possession. They are suspected of acting on the orders of Hezbollah. Three Palestinians were killed by the Israel Defense Forces in the Gaza Strip over the weekend. In one incident, a Hamas militant and his father were killed, while in another, a Palestinian was killed when he approached the border fence. An IDF force entered the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanun Friday night to pursue Hamas activists.

Israeli forces invade Doha village, injure two, including a child
International Middle East Media Center 9/4/2006
Armored Israeli jeeps and personnel carriers invaded the Palestinian village of Doha, west of the city of Bethlehem in the West Bank on Monday evening. Israeli troops opened fire on unarmed civilians in their homes and on the street during the invasion, injuring two. The injured civilians were identified as Riad Al-Azza, who was hit by a piece of shrapnel in the head, and a child, Muhammad Jamil Ghanayim, had a rubber-coated bullet embedded in his foot. The injured were taken to Al-Yamama hospital in Al Khadir, south of Bethlehem. The Israeli troops surrounded the home of Nidal Malash, who is apparently on a 'wanted list' put together by the Israeli military, composed of political dissidents and members of 'illegal' political parties in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

Israeli Army takes two prisoners from Tarqomia, near Hebron
International Middle East Media Center 9/4/2006
Mohammad Al Markten, 25, and Mahdi Shahror, 30, were taken to unknown locations by the Israeli army during an invasion of the village of Tarqomia, west of the West Bank city of Hebron on Monday. Troops invaded the village, searched scores of houses and ransacked the belongings og the two families, then took the two men away; the army said they were looking for "Wanted People. " [end]

Four injured by Israeli gunfire in Qabatia village near Jenin
International Middle East Media Center 9/4/2006
Four residents were injured during the Israeli army invasion of the village of Qabatia, near the West Bank city of Jenin, on Monday. The injured were identified as Ahmad Nazal, 18, Mohamed Abu Al Rab, Mohamed Kameel, and Rabi'e Turkman. All were moved to a nearby hospital in the city, local sources reported. In the early morning hours, troops stormed the village, took four prisoners and injured Rabi'e, as the day continued, the soldiers injured another three, local sources said. [end]

Army invades Nablus, takes at least four prisoners
International Middle East Media Center 9/4/2006
The Israeli army invaded the West Bank city of Nablus, the Balata and Al Ein refugee camps in the city on Monday morning, and took four prisoners. Local sources reported that scores of army vehicles stormed the city and the two refugee camps, and fired rounds of live ammunition at the residents' houses. In Al Ein refugee camp, troops searched several houses and took Amer Khalifa prisoner. In Nablus, troops attacked residents' houses and ransacked them before taking Wajdi E'lawi, 26, Jaber Kalbonah, 26, and Lo'ai Barakat, 21, to unknown locations, eyewitnesses reported. In Balata refugee camp, troops also searched residents houses and ransacked them but no arrests were made there, local sources added. [end]

Army injures one resident and takes four prisoners from Qabatia village near Jenin
International Middle East Media Center 9/4/2006
Israeli forces invaded the village of Qabatia south of the West Bank city of Jenin, injured one resident and took four prisoners including three brothers. More than 15 Israeli armored vehicles stormed Qabatia and opened fire at residents and houses injuring Rab'e Turkman, 22, in his abdomen, he was moved to a near by hospital in Jenin city, medical sources reported. Soldiers conducted wide scale search campaign to the residents' houses and took four prisoners, among them three brother, they were identified as; Anass Assaf, his two brothers Mo'men and Hisham, and Tha'er Abu Al Rob, all were taken to unknown locations. The military operation is still ongoing in the village, eyewitnesses reported. [end]

Army takes two prisoners from Tal village near Nablus
International Middle East Media Center 9/4/2006
Yousif Selwadi, 22, and Hitham Ramadan, 36, were taken prisoners when the Israeli army invaded Tal village, south of the West Bank city of Nablus on Monday morning. Troops and army vehicles invaded the village, surrounded the houses of Selwadi and Ramadan, searched them and then took the two to unknown locations, Omer Ishtawi, the head of the village council reported. Ishtawi added that in the house of Selwadi family troops destroyed the floor of the house and ransacked the furniture. [end]

One resident injured in Kofer Dan village near Jenin
International Middle East Media Center 9/4/2006
Ibrahim Abed, 24, was injured during and invasion to the village of Kofer Dan west Jenin city in the northern part of the West Bank, on Monday at dawn. Israeli army surrounded the village and closed all its exits and entrances late Sunday night, then stormed the village in the early hours of Monday. According to local sources, soldiers clashed with resistance fighters in the village. Abed is wanted by the Israeli security since ore than three years, local sources added. [end]

Army uproots farmlands east of the Jablia refugee camp
International Middle East Media Center 9/4/2006
Israeli soldiers uprooted on Sunday afternoon agricultural lands in Abu Safiyya area, east of the Jabalia refugee camp, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. Soldiers, supported by tanks and armoured vehicles, invaded the area and uprooted the farmlands using military bulldozers. Also, soldiers uprooted dozens of trees near Al Shuhada Graveyard, east of the camp and opened fire at several homes in the area; damage was reported, no injuries. [end]

Israel confiscates 152 dunums of farmland near Bethlehem
Ma'an News 9/4/2006
Bethlehem -- Israeli occupation forces have issued warrants to confiscate 152 dunums (1 dunum = 1000 square meters) of land which belong to the Palestinian town of Umm Salamuna, south of Bethlehem, to be used for building the separation wall and for a security crossing. This confiscation will separate the town from the southern suburbs of Bethlehem, and so its lands will become under absolute Israeli control, resulting in the suffocation and collapse of the agricultural industry in this town and its surrounding villages; a sustainable economy, established for generations, will be lost if the separation wall is built there. [end]

Armed men attack Driver of a senior Fateh official and legislator
International Middle East Media Center 9/4/2006
Palestinian security sources and eyewitnesses reported, on Sunday evening, that an unknown group of gunmen stopped the car of Dr. Nabil Shaath, a senior Fateh official and a Palestinian legislator and attacked his driver after forcing him out of the car. Dr. Shaath was not in the vehicle when the attack took place, the sources added. The gunmen drove the vehicle away after the attack. Eyewitnesses stated that several gunmen stopped the BMW car of Shaath in Al Nafaq Street, north east of Gaza City, forced the driver out and severely punched and kicked him before fleeing the scene. The Palestinian police initiated a probe into the incident after transferring the driver to Al Shifa Hospital in the city. Recently, the Gaza Strip witnessed repeated attacks by unknown armed groups...

Fatah bloc in PLC condemns the assault against Shaath's assistant
Ma'an News 9/4/2006
Gaza - Ma'an – The Fatah parliamentary bloc in the Palestinian Legislative Council on Monday condemned the assault on an assistant of the former Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Sha'ath, and the taking of his car by force. In a statement received by Ma'an, the bloc considered that such deeds encourage the chaos and the ongoing violation of security law and order in the Palestinian street. They called on the Palestinian government, namely the interior minister, Said Siyam, to reveal the identity of the perpetrators, in order to bring them to justice. [end]

Five residents injured in Gaza air strike
International Middle East Media Center 9/4/2006
Israeli Air Force fired on Sunday night after midnight several missiles at a Palestinian house in the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip; five residents were injured while the house was completely destroyed. An Israeli military sources reported that the house belongs to a fighter of Fateh movement, and that soldiers warned him and his family to leave the house prior to shelling it. The sources claimed that the house is used by resistance fighters to store weapons and ammunition. Over the last several weeks, the Israeli army has been using a policy of phoning the family 10 -15 minutes before shelling their house and informing them that they should leave. This policy is considered a violation to the international law and principles of human rights...

Resident taken prisoner near Abu Dis
International Middle East Media Center 9/4/2006
Israeli soldiers abducted one resident at the Container Checkpoint, near Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem as he was heading back home in Al Obediyya village, near Bethlehem. The resident is the sixth family member arrested by troops within two weeks. The Palestine News Network reported that resident Suleiman Salim Shanaita, 40, was on his way back home from Ramallah when the soldiers stopped him at the checkpoint and severely punched and clubbed him. He was later on handcuffed, blindfolded and taken to an unknown destination, local sources reported. Meanwhile, an Israeli military source claimed that Shanaita is a member of the Islamic Jihad and that he is wanted to the Israeli security for alleged attacks against the Israeli army.

Israel moves to expand settlements
AlJazeera 9/4/2006
The Israeli authorities have invited tenders for the construction of about 700 new housing units in two existing Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. The housing ministry published advertisements in the press on Monday inviting the bids, with 348 houses to be constructed in Maale Adumim, east of Jerusalem, and 342 houses to be built in Beitar Eilit to the south of the Holy City. The number of Israelis living in the occupied West Bank, excluding annexed east Jerusalem, has increased by 2. 7% to 260,042 during the past six months, according to statistics published by the interior ministry last week.... The Palestinians say any building on the so-called E-1 corridor between Maale Adumim and Jerusalem will wreck the viability of their promised future state by cutting off the rest of the West Bank from east Jerusalem.

Israeli factory contaminates air in northern West Bank village & large swathes of land confiscated
Palestine News Network 9/4/2006
An Israeli military checkpoint lies in the northern Nablus village of Qusin with the same name. Barbed wire surrounds several points of the village extending to the Beit Iba Checkpoint and the situation is worsening for residents. Qusin is about to be closed from all sides. The fence is extending south on the west side and will close Jit and Sarra villages southwest of Nablus. The area will become a “closed military zone,” with all movement prohibited, including traffic. Israeli factories are occupying much of the confiscated land and one burned throughout the day leaving a layer of contaminated smoke over the region. Israeli forces confiscated 2,000 dunams of Palestinian land and there will no longer be an entrance to Qusin Village other than Beit Iba Checkpoint.

The Occupation Report
By Jerrold Cohen, Ph.D., Editor, VTJP/The Occupation Report Newsletter 9/4/2006
Chronicling the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - September 4, 2006 - Incursions, invasions, and arrests, etc. - Gaza Strip: An Israeli special unit stormed the eastern area of Khouza'a, in the eastern part of the Khan Younis governorate, and arrested Eid Qdeeh, 60. (1) The Israeli occupation forces stayed in Khouza'a town six hours, destroying land owned by Palestinians and a number of greenhouses, as well as farm buildings. Israeli bulldozers uprooted more than 100 olive trees and razed "scores of dunams" of arable land in Khan Younis. (2) "Scores of dunums" would be most easily translated as "dozens of acres," in language that Americans are familiar with, provided they are talking about four score or higher. At dawn, Israeli warplanes fired two missiles at the home of Khalil Abu Fool, (a similar PNN article spells his name Khalil Abu Haboub) a commander in the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the Jabaliya Refugee Camp. The home was leveled to the ground....

Father, his five sons, taken prisoners in Hebron
International Middle East Media Center 9/3/2006
Israeli soldiers invaded on Sunday at dawn the Al Fawwar refugee camp, near Hebron city in the southern part of the West Bank, and arrested a father and his five sons after surrounding their home, Palestinian News Agency, WAFA, reported. The agency stated that a large military force surrounded the house of Khalil Hussein Hdeib, located at the northern entrance of Al Fawwar refugee camp, broke into it, searched it for three hours and arrested him and his five sons. Hdeib, 55, was taken prisoner along with his sons Ziad, 35, member of the Palestinian police, Ashraf, 25, Ishaq, 22, Shadi, 26, and Mahmoud, 33. Fatima Hdeib, the wife of Khalil, said that soldiers surrounded her house, broke into and ransacked it before taken her husband and five of her sons prisoners.

Is the RPG-29 to Blame for Israeli Failures in Lebanon?
By Viktor Litovkin, International Middle East Media Center/RIA Novosti 8/29/2006
Israeli Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and Defense Minister Amir Peretz said Hizbollah was using modern anti-tank weapons of Russian make, specifically the RPG-29 Vampirs with a tandem warhead. Such statements have perplexed Russian arms experts, but they agreed to talk with me if I did not mention their names. "As usually happens in war, either side can interpret our words in its favor, and we don't want that. We are neutral, and do not want to be accused of bias," one of them said. The main point they made is this: the fact that Hizbollah militants are armed with RPG-29 handheld anti-tank grenade launchers does not mean that they received them from Syria, which acquired them in the course of military-technical cooperation with Moscow. A suspicion is not a fact. Facts must be proved by documented evidence, but there is none. -- See also: Israel to Moscow: Hezbollah used Russian-made missiles against IDF

Israel: Annan's help not needed in prisoner swap
Ha'aretz 9/5/2006
Israel has asked UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to assist in securing the release of two Israeli soldiers seized by Hezbollah, and not to mediate negotiations to free them, officials said on Monday. Annan said on Monday he would appoint a secret envoy to work for the release of the soldiers. "A mediator is not needed," a government official said. "The UN resolution determines that the soldiers will be released unconditionally. The UN Secretary-General will assist and not mediate. "Annan on Monday said that Israel and Hezbollah have agreed to begin negotiations moderated by the UN on a prisoner exchange that would see the release of two Israel Defense Forces soldiers abducted in July. Annan agreed to mediate in efforts for the release of the soldiers after requests from both Hezbollah and Israel, Annan's spokesman [said]...

UNIFIL chief upbeat about Israeli withdrawal from South
The Daily Star 9/5/2006
Israel's pullout from South Lebanon is proceeding well and the border area should soon be under Lebanese Army control, the commander of UN troops in the country said on Monday. Major General Alain Pellegrini of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) made the statement after meeting with senior representatives of the Lebanese and Israeli armies at the border crossing at Ras Naqoura. "The meeting was productive and I think we are on the right track in securing the full withdrawal of [Israeli Army troops] from Lebanon and finally ensuring that the Lebanese Army will take control of the whole border area in the South," Pellegrini said. The Israeli Army has been pulling out from the region since a UN-brokered truce went into effect in Lebanon on August 14 following the 34-day war.

Berri claims progress in campaign to open air, sea routes
The Daily Star 9/5/2006
BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri on Monday called on governments around the world to pressure Israel to lift the blockade of Lebanon, as the Lebanese government decided to file a complaint about the siege with the UN Security Council. In a parliamentary session Monday morning - as the MPs' open-ended sit-in to protest Israel's eight-week blockade entered its third day - Berri had urged MPs to file the complaint without calling on the Security Council to convene. Later on in the day, Lebanon's Cabinet agreed unanimously to issue an official complaint regarding the siege. Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said the government was delaying a call for the Security Council to convene because of the US position in support of the siege. "We hold the US administration morally and politically responsible for the blockade and its consequences," Aridi said.

Airliner lands in Beirut despite siege
The Daily Star 9/5/2006
But Jewish state says it approved qatar airways flight 'a week ago' -- BEIRUT: A Qatar Airways flight landed at Beirut's Rafik Hariri's International Airport on Monday, breaking an eight-week old Israeli air and sea blockade on the country. Flight QR 422 left the Qatari capital, Doha, with 140 passengers on board and landed in the Lebanese capital in the afternoon. The plane left Beirut again one hour later and touched down in Doha. The airline plans to operate the flights daily, a spokesman for the company said earlier in Doha. The flight was reportedly the first to enter Lebanon's airspace without first getting clearance from Israel. The plane arrived as a response to Lebanese Speaker Nabih Berri's plea to Arab countries to break Israel's siege by flying in their planes.

IDF readies to leave Lebanon in 10-14 days
Ha'aretz 9/4/2006
The Israel Defense Forces could withdraw all troops from Lebanon in a period of 10 days to two weeks if UNIFIL continues to deploy at the present rate, security forces told Haaretz over the weekend. Meanwhile, the bolstered peacekeeping force in Lebanon began taking shape yesterday as 1,000 Italian soldiers started moving in - the first large contingent of international troops dispatched to help safeguard a cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah. The Italian advanced forces, which landed in Tyre in helicopters and rubber boats, are meant to protect the Italian navy ships docking today. With Israel apparently racing to destroy Hezbollah arms caches in the territory it occupies ahead of an impending withdrawal, the U. N. force commander said the truce was still "fragile" and warned any incident could quickly escalate.

How the IDF blew chance to destroy short-range rockets
By Ze'ev Schiff, Ha'aretz 9/4/2006
A large number of the short-range rockets fired at Israel from southern Lebanon were launched from permanent positions, the Israel Air Force discovered by chance toward the end of the war. The discovery was made after an air strike burned away vegetation, revealing a dug-in Katyusha position on a permanent launch pad. Additional permanent positions were subsequently discovered. If the tactical intelligence of the Northern Command was unaware of the existence of hundreds of permanent short-range rocket launching positions in South Lebanon, then this is a major intelligence failure. If the Northern Command knew of them and did not pass on detailed information to the air force, then this is a serious failure in the management of the war.

Top Olmert aids to notify US on cancellation of realignment
Jerusalem Post 9/4/2006
VIDEO - See end for Jerusalem Online video of events -- Senior Israel officials are scheduled to leave for the United States late Monday evening to notify the US government that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's realignment plan for unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank is off the table. Olmert's chief of staff Yoram Turbovich and diplomatic advisor Shalom Turgeman expect to meet with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and national security advisor Steve Hadley, and intend to plan Olmert's next visit to the US. Olmert reportedly told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that the realignment plan agenda "is no longer relevant. " Speaking after the meeting, committee member Ran Cohen (Meretz) said that the word realignment was dead and that he understood from Olmert that the idea had been put to bed. -- See also: Aug. 20 Analysis: Olmert realigns master plan and Jerusalem Online video of events

PM: Israel must renew Palestinian talks
Yahoo! News Middle East 9/4/2006
JERUSALEM - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert signaled a need Monday to pursue talks with the Palestinians, an official said, apparently edging away from a unilateral West Bank pullback plan that swept him to power in March. There have been no official contacts between Israel and the Palestinians since the militant Hamas group, which is sworn to Israel's destruction, won Palestinian parliamentary elections in January. But with Israel's recent war against Lebanese guerrillas putting a chill on Olmert's program — to uproot Jewish settlements and unilaterally draw Israel's border with the West Bank — the Israeli leader again broached the idea of talks. "We have no more urgent problem than that of the Palestinians," Olmert told parliament's influential Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, a meeting participant said.

Annan presses Iran over Hezbollah, nuclear dispute
Ha'aretz 9/4/2006
TEHRAN - UN Secretary General Kofi Annan began talks yesterday pressing Iran over two major issues - to help ensure a halt in weapons shipments to Tehran's Lebanese ally Hezbollah and to compromise in its nuclear confrontation with the West. His visit to Tehran comes two days after Iran failed to meet a UN deadline for suspending its enrichment of uranium, paving the way to possible sanctions against the Islamic republic, which the West fears is seeking to develop atomic weapons. But Europe is launching a last-ditch attempt at negotiations with Tehran this week, and Annan said in a newspaper interview before arriving that he hoped for a diplomatic solution that would avoid sanctions and "another conflict in a region already subjected to a great stress at this moment. "

'Tony Blair not welcome in Ramallah'
Jerusalem Post 9/4/2006
Several Palestinian public institutions, political factions and figures on Monday declared British Prime Minister Tony Blair persona non grata in Ramallah, saying his planned visit to the city was a "provocation against the feelings of the Palestinian people. "In a statement distributed in Ramallah, they said that Blair, who is expected to visit the region later this week, was "completely unwelcome in our country because he was coming to wash the hands that are dripping Lebanese blood with Palestinian water. "The statement is the first of its kind against Blair and comes one day after Palestinians in various parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip staged demonstrations against the US and Britain to protest against these countries' support for Israel.

Jackson asks Hezbollah for proof of life
Yahoo! News Middle East 9/4/2006
BEIRUT, Lebanon - U.S. civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson met Monday with Hezbollah officials in Lebanon and called on them to show proof that two captured Israeli soldiers are still alive. Jackson spoke with the officials, who told him the soldiers were alive, in the hopes of jump-starting negotiations between Hezbollah and Israel. He said he feared the soldiers' continued detention was "becoming a magnet to attract a second round" of war. Jackson had been hoping for a response from Hezbollah later the same day, possibly with video evidence, but by Monday night he had made no announcement of a reply.... Hezbollah has said the two captive Israeli soldiers can be released only through a prisoner exchange with Israel.

Gerry Adams to meet Hamas leaders
The Guardian 9/4/2006
The White House reportedly tried to dissuade Adams from meeting Hamas. -- Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Féin, is due to fly to the Middle East tomorrow to meet Hamas representatives and lend his support to the search for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. The MP for West Belfast was invited by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas, which emerged as the strongest party in the Palestinian elections in January, is banned in both the EU and the US, where it is deemed to be a terrorist organisation. There have long been contacts between the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the republican movement in Northern Ireland. The Israeli government has made it clear it will not receive Mr Adams because of his intention to talk with Hamas.

Dahlan heads to Egypt for talks on possible Prisoner swap deal
International Middle East Media Center 9/4/2006
Head of Security Committee at the Palestinian Legislative Council, and a senior Fateh leader, Mohammad Dahlan, headed to Egypt for talks on a possible prisoners swap deal with Israel. Dahlan intends to hold talks with several Egyptian security officials for several days in an attempt to broker a deal for prisoners swap that would be implemented in three phases. The deal involves releasing Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was abducted by Palestinian resistance fighters on June 25 after resistance fighters attacked an Israeli military bases, two soldiers and two fighters were killed in the attack. The Israeli radio reported that a number of Palestinian detainees will be released in three phases; first 300 detainees will be released before Al Fitir Muslim feast, while the other detainees will be release in two stages before the end of the year. -- See also: Israel, Hamas deny reports of prisoner swap breakthrough

Olmert: No restraints in campaign against Syria
YNet News 9/4/2006
PM tells Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that war in Lebanon served as deterring element against Damascus; says realignment plan suspended for now due to 'change in priorities' -- For the first time since the war in the north began, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert arrived Monday for a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, to brief its members. "What we have done in Lebanon amounts to a deterring element against the Syrians, because they now realize that while in Lebanon we have restrained our use of force, in a campaign against them we will not adhere to such restraints," the PM stated. Olmert referred to the decision to shelf the realignment plan for the time being. "Something has changed, the priorities I thought to be the right ones before are not relevant for now. "

Qatar to send 200-300 troops to UN Lebanon force
YNet News 9/4/2006
Arab Gulf state to commit troops to peacekeeping force in south Lebanon -- The Gulf state of Qatar on Monday became the first Arab country to commit troops to a UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon with an offer of 200-300 troops. Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad al-Thani did not say when the troops would go to Lebanon, where they would join an expanded UN force set up to keep the peace between Israel and Hizbullah in south Lebanon. "We have decided that Qatar will participate in UNIFIL by sending 200-300 military personnel and we believe UNIFIL must have specific duties on the ground," Sheikh Hamad told reporters during a visit to Doha by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

PA condemns Israeli decision to contravene international law by expanding settlements in West Bank
Palestine News Network 9/4/2006
The Palestinian Authority condemned the Israeli authorities’ decision to impose another 700 units in already illegal settlements in the West Bank. The decision and condemnation were both issued Monday. The Israeli government will expand Batar Illit Settlement, west of Bethlehem, and Ma’ale Adumin Settlement in eastern Jerusalem. Ma’ale Adumim is part of the “Jerusalem Envelope” which includes the Wall and settlements aimed to completely isolate the West Bank from Jerusalem. Head of Negotiations, Dr. Sa’eb Erakat, said today, “We condemn this Israeli decision, which confirms that the government of Israel is continuing its policy of settlements and military solutions to permanently change facts on the ground in contravention to international law. ”

Israeli minister rules out Syria talks
Yahoo! News Middle East 9/3/2006
JERUSALEM - Israel's foreign minister on Sunday ruled out peace talks with Syria for now, saying Damascus must first end its support for Lebanese and Palestinian extremists. Tzipi Livni told Israel's Channel 10 TV a move to open peace talks with Syria now would disrupt efforts to stabilize Lebanon after a 34-day war between Israel and the Hezbollah guerrillas. "The tools are in place to free Lebanon from Syria," she said. "To add other Syrian interests to this 'salad,' if you'll pardon the expression, would in my opinion complicate a process that is acceptable to everyone. " Syria "must understand that (international) demands of it are clear," she said. They are "stopping support of terrorism — Palestinian as well as Lebanese — and this brings on the issue of sequence," she said.

Jewish groups angry at US over Khatami visit
Jerusalem Post 9/1/2006
Jewish groups in the US and American lawmakers are protesting the administration's decision to grant a visa to former Iranian president Muhammad Khatami, who was invited to give a series of speeches in the US. The State Department issued Khatami a visitor's visa with no restrictions, though an official spokesman stressed that he will have no meetings with official US representatives during his visit. Khatami is expected to give a speech next week at the National Cathedral in Washington, to meet with former president Jimmy Carter and to speak at events at the UN and Harvard University. The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, an umbrella group representing 51 Jewish organizations, issued a statement expressing disappointment over the decision to allow Khatami into the US.

PA unity gov't likely to be formed within 10 days
Ha'aretz 9/4/2006
A Palestinian unity government will be formed within 10 days, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said yesterday. Abbas, who represents the Fatah faction, met yesterday in Gaza with Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas. Palestinian Authority spokesman Razi Hamad said the two leaders agreed to continue to be in contact and engage in talks in the coming days with the objective of forming a unity government. The new unity government would request the deployment of a multinational force in Palestinian Authority territory, according to a document Abbas presented to Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials on the eve of the start of talks. According to the document, Abbas would head the unity government's cabinet meetings himself.

Abbas okays PA police demonstrations
Jerusalem Post 9/4/2006
In the context of his efforts to undermine the Hamas government, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has given permission to thousands of PA policemen to stage demonstrations in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, PA officials in Ramallah said Monday. Meanwhile, PLO executive committee member Yasser Abed Rabbo, who is closely associated with Abbas, confirmed that the PA president was considering the possibility of forming an emergency government in the wake of Hamas's failure to govern. "This is an irresponsible government," he said. "There is a strong possibility that we will have an emergency government instead of a national-unity government. " According to the PA officials, the demonstrations will take place in various parts of the Gaza Strip to protest against unpaid salaries...

Striking PA teachers shut down schools
Ha'aretz 9/4/2006
Thousands of unpaid teachers began the Palestinian school year yesterday with a strike that shut down schools across the West Bank and Gaza - a backlash that is testing the beleaguered Hamas-led government's ability to survive. The government, crippled by international sanctions, has so far enjoyed public support as it weathers the six-month-old crisis. But with schools shuttered, that may change if people conclude that Hamas' anti-Israel ideology is jeopardizing their children's educations - and hopes for a better future. "The Hamas government is in a very bad position now," said Awwad Barghouti, who brought his son Saed to the El-Bireh high school outside the West Bank town of Ramallah, only to find it closed. "Either it concedes to the international community or it quits. "

Hamas cabinet member resigns
Jerusalem Post 9/3/2006
A Hamas minister submitted his resignation to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Sunday amid reports that President Mahmoud Abbas is considering calling early elections for the parliament and the presidency to resolve the ongoing crisis in the PA territories. The resignation of Jamal Khudari, minister of communications and technology, is the first of its kind since Hamas took power last March. Earlier this year, PA Tourism Minister Judeh Murqus resigned after receiving threats from Fatah gunmen in Bethlehem. He withdrew his resignation after receiving assurances that he would not be harmed. In a letter to Haniyeh, Khudari hinted that his decision to quit was related to the failure of Hamas and Abbas's Fatah party to reach an agreement on the formation of a national-unity government.

Minister of Communication withdraws his resignation
Ma'an News 9/4/2006
Gaza -- Palestinian minister of communications, Jamal Al-Khudari, has withdrawn his resignation following intervention by Palestinian Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh and other senior figures. In a statement, Dr Al Khudari had affirmed on Sunday that his resignation was intended to contribute towards the formation of a national unity government and had nothing to do with the confusion in the Palestinian arena, as the press had claimed. [end]

Fatah denies closing schools in Jenin by force
Ma'an News 9/4/2006
Jenin - Ma'an – The secretary of the Fatah movement in Jenin, Ata Abu Rmaila, has denied the allegations facing Fatah over closing schools and other governmental institutions in the Jenin and Qabatia region by force. He confirmed that the employees set the strike in order to claim their unpaid salaries, adding that Fatah considers the strike a legal instruction to the government. [end]

PFLP supports the strike, "Self-expression is part of Palestinian life"
Ma'an News 9/4/2006
Bethlehem -- An authorized source in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has assured their support of the employees strike across Palestine as a legal struggle of thousands of employees to achieve a decent life. At the same time, said the source, the strike adds pressure to the international community, urging them to lift the financial siege imposed on the Palestinian people by the sanctions of Israel and the United States. In addition, the PFLP stated that free opinion and self-expression are major components of democratic life in Palestine. They also warned against any attempt to force the teachers into breaking their strike, a policy that has been rejected by the Palestinian people. The PFLP called the Palestinian presidency and government to start forming the national unity government immediately. [end]

Palestinian interior ministry warns that armed demonstrations "exploit the Palestinian suffering"
Ma'an News 9/4/2006
Ma'an – The Palestinian ministry of interior has warned that some members of the public are trying to stir up anti -- Ma'an – The Palestinian ministry of interior has warned that some members of the public are trying to stir up anti-government feeling to such an extent that an armed demonstration will take place and the people will call for the government to stand down. In a statement, the ministry warned that a march will take place during which shooting will erupt in public places and government officials will be publicly defamed. The ministry said that this is an irresponsible act that will harm Palestinian interests and exploit the Palestinian suffering for the benefit of "our enemies". The statement added that such acts may increase the tension in the country.

Stones thrown at Palestinian FM's car in Gaza, ministry accuses Palestine TV of incitement
Ma'an News 9/4/2006
Gaza - Ma'an – According to the media office of the Palestinian ministry of foreign affairs, foreign minister Mahmoud Zahhar was attacked by "law breakers" on Sunday night after leaving the house of Mohammad Shaqourah, a ministry employee. In a statement, the ministry said that the "assault was the result of provocations made by someone in Shaqourah's house and this person is very well-known to the ministry". The ministry said that stones were thrown at Zahhar's car after he left the house, breaking the rear windscreen of the car. The minister's bodyguards managed to secure the minister's departure shortly afterwards.. The ministry added that "this attempt to attack the minister occurred at the same time as Palestine TV was broadcasting a provocative programme against the minister. "

IDF denies human rights group's claim of Gaza humanitarian crisis
Jerusalem Post 9/5/2006
The IDF has deflected accusations made over the weekend by members of Physicians for Human Rights, who visited the Gaza Strip and claimed that a humanitarian crisis was developing in the Palestinian territory. The human rights group claimed that the IDF closure imposed on the Gaza Strip and the tight security measures at the border crossings with Israel was preventing the supply of drugs to Gaza hospitals. The doctors visited a number of hospitals and met with senior PA officials including Health Minister Dr. Basim Naeem. The IDF rejected the accusations claiming that close to 800 sick Palestinians were allowed into Israel for treatment at hospitals over the past two months. Out of 221 requests to transfer donations, including medicine, to Gaza, 209, the IDF said, were approved...

IDF rubber bullets hit 7 fence protesters
Ha'aretz 9/4/2006
Seven protesters, including four Israelis, were hit by rubber-coated steel bullets fired by the Israel Defense Forces during demonstrations against the separation fence in the West Bank village of Bil'in Friday. The protesters said the firing was unprovoked, while the IDF said it had used standard methods. According to Yonatan Pollak of Anarchists Against the Wall, the soldiers fired a water cannon and tear gas at 150 demonstrators outside the village. "Right after that they moved toward us, beating us with truncheons, and they started firing the rubber-coated bullets," Pollak said, adding that no stones had been thrown at that time at the troops. Pollak was shot in the leg, treated at the scene and taken to hospital by civilian ambulance. Pollak said six other protesters were injured.

Israel said to fear war crimes charges
Yahoo! News Middle East 9/4/2006
JERUSALEM - Three weeks after a cease-fire ended Israel's monthlong war against Hezbollah guerrillas, Israel is increasingly concerned that government officials and army officers traveling abroad could face war crimes charges, a Foreign Ministry official said Monday. A special legal team is preparing to provide protection for officers and officials involved in the 34-day conflict in Lebanon, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the media. More than 850 Lebanese were killed during the conflict, most of them civilians. The human rights group Amnesty International has accused Israel of war crimes, including indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilian targets.

Shin Bet seeks geeks in first-ever public recruiting drive
Ha'aretz 9/5/2006
In its first-ever public recruiting drive, being launched on Tuesday, the Shin Bet security service is calling on high-tech geeks to join the anti-terror battle. "If you thought the only way to fight terror was with Arabic, think again," says the campaign's slogan. Shin Bet sources admit the ad campaign is also intended to change the organization's image. For many, the first thing that springs to mind at the mention of Shin Bet is torture. The people in the service are tired of that. They want the Shin Bet to be associated with advanced technology and software development. "We want the public to know other sides [of the service], not only the investigations and dark rooms," a Shin Bet source said on Monday.

Haifa City Council sacks Arab deputy mayor who opposed war
Ha'aretz 9/4/2006
The Haifa City Council on Monday approved the dismissal of Deputy Mayor Walid Hamis, who represents the Arab sector on the council, for his opposition to the war in Lebanon. Hamis, whose dismissal was approved by a vote of 23 to 3, charged that he was fired due to his vocal opposition to the war and for pointing out the discrimination in Arab neighborhoods. Council member Yitzhak Regev, who initiated the move, said that in addition to Hamis' opposition to the war, he was also dismissed due to evidence of irregularities in the election that brought him into office. Regev has collected the signatures of 18 council members on a petition calling for Hamis to be dismissed. In a press conference he held on Monday, Hamis said that coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Haifa is now in danger.

2 Killed in the West Bank: One by Preventive Security and the Other During Cleaning a Weapon
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 9/4/2006
Two Palestinians were killed in the West Bank yesterday, 3 September 2006, in two separate incidents. In the first incident, a security officer was killed in the Presidential Compound "Moqata'a" in Ramallah as he was cleaning his weapon. The second victim was killed by members of the Preventive Security Apparatus, who fired at a group of demonstrators from the village of Mazra'a El-Qibleyya who came to protest at the Preventive Security Apparatus headquarters in Birzeit, north of Ramallah. PCHR's preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 12:30 on Sunday, 3 September 2006, an officer in the Presidential Guard, Gheith Amid Hamza El-Dosoqi (a 21-year old from the village of Barqa), was cleaning his assault rifle while he was on duty in the Presidential Compound "Moqata'a. "

Protests in Norway continue
Stop The Wall 9/4/2006
Saturday 22nd August saw the latest in the latest in a series of demos in Norway against Zionist aggression. Over 1,000 demonstrators marched through the streets of Oslo again in solidarity with the Lebanese and Palestinians. This follows mass demos across Norway every Saturday between July 22nd - August 12th. The Oslo Confederation of Trade Unions was one of the main organizers of the demonstration. In 2001 this Confederation had heeded a call for a boycott of the Occupation but was forced to back down after a concerted backlash from the Zionist lobby. The Oslo branch of the Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) is still calling strongly for a boycott of Apartheid Israel and is a member of the boycott campaign and the Association of NGOs for Palestine. -- See also: Photos

The families of Palestinian prisoners express their hopes, fears and doubts
Ma'an News 9/4/2006
Gaza -- The hopes of the Palestinian prisoners' families were renewed after they heard a deal had been reached to exchange the captured Israeli soldier with Palestinian prisoners. But if the deal does not include the release of Palestinian prisoners, they will consider this deal to be a failure. During the prisoners' families' weekly demonstration outside the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza City on Monday, the families and relatives expressed their doubt about Israel's intentions and questioned the honesty of Israel's intentions. The mother of Ali Al Haj, who is sentenced to 13 years' imprisonment, called on the Palestinian factions that captured the Israeli soldier to concentrate on the prisoners who have spent long years in Israeli jails and to refuse to release the prisoners whose sentences are almost complete. -- See also: Israel, Hamas deny reports of prisoner swap breakthrough

Member of the Executive Force Killed and 29 Palestinians Injured, including 5 Children, in Armed Clashes
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 9/3/2006
Member of the Executive Force Killed and 29 Palestinians Injured, including 5 Children, in Armed Clashes during an Attempt by the Executive Force to Break up a Clan dispute in Khan Yunis -- PCHR's preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 20:00 on Saturday, 2 September 2006, a member of the Abu Nahia clan took refuge in "Diwan" of Sowali clan after he was beaten by members of the Barbakh clan. The incident was instigated by a dispute in the crowded Sea Street in Khan Yunis. Members of Barbakh clan gathered around the diwan, located in Jamal Abdel Naser Street, and threw stones at it requesting that Abu Nahia is handed to them. Members of the Ministry of Interior Executive Force arrived at the scene to break up the dispute.

Protestors dismantle gates and parts of the Apartheid Wall
Stop The Wall 9/1/2006
Dozens of farmers from Deir Istya village north of Salfit destroyed 2 iron gates belonging to the Israeli Nature Protection Society. They were put across a farm road last Tuesday north of the village annexing 1,500 dunums of agricultural land. Angered by this the farmers gathered on their land to destroy the gates. No soldiers appeared. Palestinian farmers refuse to tolerate the annexation and destruction of their land, and continue to actively resist such Occupation violence. A few months ago high-voltage electricity pylons were also erected on the land of Deir Istya. These pylons run from south of Haris to Immanuel settlement north of Deir Istya. 16 olive roots were uprooted from these villages for the 4km stretch of pylons.

Haredim lead settlement growth beyond Green Line
Jerusalem Post 9/5/2006
The Construction and Housing Ministry issued tenders on Monday for the construction of 690 new housing units in Betar Illit and Ma'aleh Adumim, two of the largest settlements over the Green Line. "Betar Illit is part of the consensus," and the tenders were seen as efforts to bolster the consensus in settlement blocs, said Bezelel Kahn, media advisor to Betar Illit Mayor Yitzhak Pindrus. Kahn said haredim were not ideological settlers. "If this government decides to evacuate Betar Illit, residents will take their compensation check and be out in a day," he said, adding that "it seems unlikely that we will be evacuated from here. "A shortage of cheap housing in older, established haredi cities is pushing thousands of haredi families to outlying cities such as Beit Shemesh and Ashdod.

Skyshield air defense being considered
Jerusalem Post 9/5/2006
With Hizbullah still in possession of more than 10,000 short-range Katyusha rockets, the Defense Ministry has contacted Lockheed Martin - one of the world's largest defense contractors - and asked it to run tests and make adjustments to a high-powered, rapid-fire cannon built by the company to intercept incoming aerial targets. The Skyshield 35 Air Defense System is a cannon that fires a unique 35-mm. AHEAD (Advanced Hit Efficiency And Destruction) shell that destroys incoming targets. It ejects 152 sub-projectiles that are released just ahead of the incoming target up to distances of close to 10 kilometers. The projectiles create a cloud ahead of the incoming rocket and penetrate it, inflicting enough damage to prevent it from striking its target. The system was developed by the Switzerland-based Oerlikon Contraves Corporation.

PM didn't know in advance of tenders for West Bank houses
Ha'aretz 9/4/2006
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did not know in advance of the tenders for building hundreds of apartments in West Bank settlements issued by the Housing Ministry on Monday. The Housing Ministry on Monday solicited tenders for construction of 690 apartments in Beitar Ilit and Ma'aleh Adumim - the biggest such project approved by the Olmert government to date. Defense Minister Amir Peretz had been advised in advance of the expected tender, but Housing and Construction Minister Meir Sheetrit assumed there was no need for special approval from the Prime Minister's Office, since the construction is planned for large settlements within consensual settlement blocs. Olmert had promised before the last election that he would act to expand communities within the large settlement blocs...

Israel eyeing new Arab initiative
Jerusalem Post 9/5/2006
Israel will be watching a meeting of the foreign ministers of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia scheduled for Tuesday in Cairo with "interest, but little expectation," senior diplomatic officials said Monday. The meeting, which is also likely to include the PLO's foreign minister Farouk Kaddoumi, is expected to discuss an Arab League peace initiative that will likely be presented at the UN later this month. UN Secretary of State Kofi Annan said in Damascus Friday that the Arab League has called on the UN Security Council to formally recognize "the need to reactivate the Middle Eastern peace process and establish a mechanism for us to proceed on all tracks. " The details of the plan are sketchy, but it is believed that it will be based on the Saudi initiative from 2002, involve the UN Security Council...

Christian Zionists angry over 'slur'
Jerusalem Post 9/5/2006
The leaders of three Jerusalem-based Christian Evangelical organizations on Monday voiced distress over a recent proclamation by the Latin Patriarch and the heads of three other churches in Jerusalem issuing a stinging and virtually unprecedented public criticism of Christian Zionism and their unflinching support for the State of Israel. The bitter inter-Christian tiff followed an August 22 "Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism" signed by the outgoing Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, Archbishop Swerios Malki Mourad of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate, Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal of the Episcopal Church and Bishop Munib Younan of the Lutheran Church, was indicative of the deep discord and resentment within the Christian Church over the Evangelicals' support for Israel.

World Bank to PA: Use Rafah crossing to move goods
Ha'aretz 9/4/2006
The Rafah crossing has been closed by Israel and the EU since June 25 -- A new World Bank report has recommended that the Palestinian Authority use the Rafah border crossing with Egypt for its exports, in light of the frequent closures of the Karni border terminal with Israel and the restrictions imposed by Israel on goods passing through its territory. The report, which deals with the border agreement negotiated by Israel, the PA and the Quartet, points to a decrease in the freedom of movement of Palestinians and in the operation of the border crossings with Israel. The border agreement was intended to improve the freedom of movement of Palestinians and of goods between Israel and the Gaza Strip. The operation of Karni, currently the only crossing for exports from Gaza, is frequently interrupted, and exports from Gaza are frozen for now.

Olmert: War opened eyes of free world
YNet News 9/4/2006
Prime minister tells AJC delegations that he hoped war in Lebanon will spur US, international community to stop Iran’s nuclear armament -- Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with a delegation of the American Jewish Committee in Jerusalem Monday to discuss the war in Lebanon and its consequences. The war, Olmert explained to those present, caused the free world to wake up and comprehend the Iranian threat. Lebanon, Syria and Iran, who have been preparing to wage war against Israel for years, to be launched whenever the time was convenient for Iran, did not foresee that Israel would attack upon the kidnap of two soldiers, Olmert said. He added that he hoped the United States and the nations of the world would take the necessary steps to stop Iranian nuclear armament, which threatens “the world’s stability. ”

Saudi Arabia urges world to help Lebanon reconstruct
The Daily Star 8/31/2006
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has urged the world to assist in the reconstruction of Lebanon ahead of a conference to raise funds for Beirut's pressing needs following Israel's offensive, a Foreign Ministry statement said Wednesday. Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal held a meeting in the Red Sea city of Jeddah Tuesday with heads of diplomatic missions during which he "urged the international community to provide utmost levels of aid to Lebanon," the statement said. He called for assistance "at the economic, political, diplomatic and military levels to ease the human suffering of the Lebanese people, rebuild [Lebanon]... achieve stability, and extend its government's sovereignty over its entire territory," according to the statement received by AFP.

Criticism muted at Halutz meeting with IDF officers
Ha'aretz 9/5/2006
Senior Israel Defense Forces officers, together with brigade and battalion commanders in regular service, took part on Monday in an 11-hour debriefing conference on the Lebanon war. The tone of the meeting was less critical than at other meetings of this type, especially those involving reserve units. During the conference, chaired by Chief of Staff Dan Halutz at the IDF's command college in Glilot, near Tel Aviv, GOC Northern Command Udi Adam presented what others at the meeting termed a "defense brief" for the war's management. The head of Military Intelligence, Major General Amos Yadlin, told those present that MI had not been surprised by what it found in Lebanon..... officers who took part in the meeting said later that those who spoke held back so as not to anger their superiors.

Knesset committee to examine Lebanon war
Ha'aretz 9/5/2006
The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee will examine the events of the Lebanon war starting with the pullout of the Israel Defense Forces from southern Lebanon in May 2000. The committee will discuss the decisions of the Knesset and different governments since 2000 vis-a-vis the defense budget, the lessons of the pullout and policies regarding Hezbollah's arming since forces evacuated from southern Lebanon. The committee will also discuss the timing of the ground offensive and the decision by Chief of Staff Dan Halutz to appoint his deputy, Major General Moshe Kaplinsky, as his representative at the Northern Command. Among those expected to be invited to answer questions are Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Halutz, the heads of the Mossad, Shin Bet and Military Intelligence,...

Coalition partners threaten to bolt government
Ha'aretz 9/5/2006
The Labor Party, Shas and the Pensioners are threatening to vote in the cabinet against the budget if it turns out that the social welfare cutbacks are included in the budget book. Despite the agreement reached on Monday between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson to rescind plans to raise university tuition, Kadima's coalition partners are threatening a crisis unless the treasury also retracts planned welfare cuts. Labor Party leader, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, told confidants on Monday that "if they don't revoke the intention to freeze the minimum wage, it will lead Labor to quit the government. That is a red line as far as I'm concerned. It is the central achievement of the coalition agreement. "

Comptroller wants criminal probe on Olmert's postings
Ha'aretz 9/4/2006
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss is expected to reverse an earlier decision and recommend to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz that he conduct a criminal investigation into alleged political appointments by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. At issue are appointments Olmert made when he was industry, trade and employment minister. Lindenstrauss is also expected to recommend the probe be extended to Raanan Dinur, then ministry director general. Lindenstrauss submitted his report on the ministry's Small Business Authority to Mazuz last week without recommending a criminal probe. However, his office received additional materials after the report was released, and officials there concluded a criminal investigation was in order, probably over evidence of fraud and breach of trust.

Defense to get NIS 4b in '07, child stipend cuts possible
Ha'aretz 9/4/2006
Over the past week, budget priorities for 2007 were determined in a series of high-level meetings. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with treasury and defense officials. Several decisions were made regarding the state budget for next year, which was slated for cabinet debate next Sunday. The 2007 defense budget will increase by about NIS 4 billion, and northern communities will receive an additional NIS 1. 5 billion in funding. Coalition parties will get the NIS 1. 7 billion promised to them in negotiations to form a government and an additional NIS 3 billion will be directed to local government, education, healthcare and public security. However, all the additional budgets promised to the Negev region will be postponed indefinitely and an Industry and Trade Ministry demand for NIS 1billion will be rejected.

Treasury retracts demand for 50 percent increase in tuition fees
Ha'aretz 9/4/2006
Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson announced Monday evening that heis retracting his recommendation to raise tuition at state-supportedinstitutions of higher learning. The state budget proposal will be presented to government on Tuesday, following days of confrontation on the matter within the cabinet. The announcement followed threats by student unions to launch a strike to prevent the opening of the academic year, as well as opposition from Education Minister Yuli Tamir. In a letter that Tamir sent to Hirchson Monday, she wrote that the proposal "harms the students and will deal a major blow to the accessibility of higher education. "

State begins compensating victims of Meghar riots
Ha'aretz 9/4/2006
The Interior Ministry on Monday began executing compensation payouts to residents of Meghar who were victims of the riots that raged in the Galilee village in February 2005. The riots broke out in the Muslim-Christian-Druze village following rumors that Christians circulated on the Internet doctored photos of nude Druze girls. The government ruled that the victims, all Christians, would be compensated for the damages sustained during the violence outbreak. A steering committee was established to rule on the compensations. The committee received 196 compensation claims estimated to total NIS seven million. Interior Ministry officials said Monday that "in an unusual step financial assistance would be granted to the residents [of Meghar]. "

Police close probe of break-in at home of lawyer in Katsav affair
Ha'aretz 9/3/2006
The police announced Sunday that they were ending their investigation into a suspected burglary at the home of the lawyer representing the woman who claims she was raped by President Moshe Katsav. The purse of the complainant was stolen from the house of attorney Kinneret Barashi during a visit by her client. The purse was the only item stolen. Brigadier General Hagai Dotan said they were closing the inquiry because they had no information on the identity of the thieves. Dotan also refuted rumors that the burglary had been staged and said they had never pursued such a line of inquiry. [end]

Foreign worker residency requests fall below expectations
Ha'aretz 9/4/2006
The number of residency applications submitted by children of foreign workers who grew up in Israel was significantly lower than the state had forecasted, it emerged on Thursday, the closing date for submitting applications. A total of 821 families applied for Israeli resident status, of which 900 children and 1,450 family members who are not eligible for residency otherwise. This figure is lower more than half than earlier forecasts presented by Interior Ministry officials. In June, the government approved new criterions for granting residency to children of non-Israeli parents who grew up in Israel. Under the criterions the children must be at least six-years-old at the time of application and were under 14 upon entering Israel.

Knesset committee data reveals courts soft on human trafficking
Ha'aretz 9/3/2006
A Knesset committee on Sunday published data showing courts had been soft on human trafficking in 2005. According to the committee, sentences handed out to people convicted of human trafficking were considerably lower than the maximum permitted. By law, the courts are allowed to fine people found guilty of trafficking up to NIS 228,000. In 2005, however, only 23 out of 73 people found guilty of such violations were fined. Furthermore, the average fine imposed upon those found guilty was NIS 17,400 - only 7. 6 percent of the maximum allowed by law. Jail sentences handed out by the courts were also very low. The average prison term for one found guilty of human trafficking was four years - 16 years lower than the maximum.

An Najah university launches photography exhibition
Ma'an News 9/4/2006
Nablus - Ma'an – An Najah national university in Palestine has inaugurated a photography exhibition of work by the British artist Rich Wayls. The exhibition is titled "An image from Palestine" and its production has been a joint endeavour between the university and the British Council. The president of the university, Dr Rami Hamdalla and vice president for academic affairs, Dr Mahir An-Naesha, attended the inauguration with the manager of the British Council in Nablus, Muhammad Al-Kubari, and the artist himself. The artist said that his show is a part of a continuous project he started during his first visit to Palestine in 2003, in which he tried to study the privacy of the Palestinian life under occupation.

Nasrallah: from humble roots to Arab hero
The Daily Star 9/5/2006
BEIRUT: Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, who as a young boy used to sit eagerly in the front row at elementary school, now sits comfortably at the forefront of the Arab-Israeli conflict after having shaken the myth of Israel's invicibility for the second time. In five weeks of war, and through five televised speeches, the Hizbullah leader boosted his stock at least five-fold, emerging in the eyes of the Islamic and Arab worlds as an icon. Fifty years have passed since an Arab "hero" of such stature, the last notable figure being Gamal Abdel-Nasser, the historical embodiment of Arab revolt against Western hegemony. But, for many in Lebanon and abroad, Nasrallah has rekindled a sense of Arab pride. In what will likely become one of the most oft-told stories about Nasrallah...

Eilat: Man steals sailboat, drifts to Jordan
YNet News 9/5/2006
Man boards sailboat without permission, drifts to Jordan, where he is interrogated and returned to Israel -- A 57-year-old resident of Eilat was arrested on Tuesday for suspicion that he stole a sailboat from a beach in the city and was drifted to Jordan. A military boat identified the sailboat crossing into Jordanian territorial waters and alarmed the police. The army contacted Jordanian officials who arrested the man and interrogated him. The man was handed over to Israeli police. He was remanded for interrogation. It remains unclear if the man tried to escape to Jordan or if he was drifted by strong winds. Sailors who saw the sailboat said it was well-equipped, raising doubt that the man was drifted to Jordan.

2,100 year old cave found under high school
YNet News 9/4/2006
Students at Rogozin High School in Tel Aviv don’t need to go far to get an archeology lesson: Just a few feet under their classrooms, municipal workers discovered ancient burial cave -- History lesson at Rogozin High: While carrying out ordinary infrastructure work on Mesilat Haolim Street in Tel Aviv, unsuspecting public works authority employees stumbled onto a surprising archeological find. While digging in front of the city’s Rogozin High School, a massive underground cavern opened up beneath them, that was apparently used as a burial space during the first century BCE. Yossi Cohen, chief archeologist of the central district, described the subterranean space as 20 meters long by 4 meters wide and subdivided into a central vestibule flanked by three smaller rooms, all carved into the sandstone.

El Al planes can't refuel in Europe
Jerusalem Post 9/4/2006
Talkbacks for this article: 98European countries have been refusing to allow planes carrying IDF supplies to refuel at their airports, according to the El Al Pilots Union. Italy, Britain, Portugal, Spain and Germany refuse to allow El Al cargo planes transporting US military equipment to Israel to land and refuel, El Al Pilots Union chairman Itai Regev wrote in a letter sent Sunday to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. He said El Al's 747 cargo planes frequently carry crucial military supplies to Israel, but European policy forces the planes to carry barely half of their 90-ton capacity because of the inability to refuel en route. Regev said the IAF did not have the operational capacity to conduct such supply flights on its own.

Kurdish leader threatens Iraq secession
Yahoo! News Middle East 9/3/2006
IRBIL, Iraq - The leader of the Kurdish region in northern Iraq threatened secession Sunday as a dispute over flying the Iraqi flag intensified. Massoud Barzani on Friday ordered the country's national flag to be replaced with the Kurdish one, sparking harsh words in Baghdad. "If we want to separate, we will do it, without hesitation or fears," Barzani, president of the Kurdish region, said during an address to parliament. He tempered his comments slightly by saying that Kurdish leaders already have voted to remain in a united Iraq. But government leaders in Baghdad fear the Kurds are pushing for independence from the rest of Iraq. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued a terse statement Sunday.

33 bodies found scattered across Baghdad
Yahoo! News Middle East 9/4/2006
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Police found the tortured, blindfolded bodies of 33 men scattered across the capital Monday and the U.S. -led coalition reported combat deaths of seven servicemen, a day after Iraqi leaders said the capture of a top terror suspect would reduce violence. Iraqi soldiers also clashed with gunmen near the holy city of Karbala during an operation to secure the area ahead of a religious festival on Saturday, leaving 14 gunmen and one soldier dead, the prime minister's office said. Kidnappers also dragged off a popular soccer star in Baghdad, while a security crackdown in the city expanded into the upscale Mansour neighborhood. An al-Qaida-affiliated group dismissed the Iraqi government's claim that the organization's second most important leader had been arrested...

One dead in Jordan tourist shooting
AlJazeera 9/5/2006
A British tourist has been killed and six others wounded after a man opened fire on them in Amman. Witnesses said the man fired at least 12 bullets before he finished his ammunition and was overpowered by police and arrested. The attack took place on Monday afternoon in a crowded part of central Amman close to a Roman amphitheatre - an area popular with tourists. Nasser Joudeh, a government spokesman, said that two British people, a Dutch citizen, a New Zealander, a Dutchman and their Jordanian tour guide were wounded during the shooting. Jordanian officials said they were investigating whether the man acted on his own or belonged to a radical Islamist group.

Kirkuk Confronts an Uncertain Future
Inter Press Service 9/2/2006
KIRKUK, Sep 2 (IPS) - Rahman Aziz, 37, laughs out loud with his friend Rahman as they sit together across from the old citadel in this northern Iraqi city. The city needs their laughter. Rahman is a Kurd, and his friend, Sa'ad, 34, a Turkomen. "We have been good friends for years," said Rahman, who now owns a small shop in the city. "We don't think our friendship can ever be destroyed by politics. "But it is under threat. Kirkuk is being claimed by Kurds. But it has a large population of Arabs who were settled there in the days of Saddam Hussein. It also has a large Turkomen population - Iraqis of Turkish descent. Kirkuk Kurds faced severe persecution under Saddam Hussein. Saddam's troops forced Rahman's family to evacuate their home in the predominantly Kurdish neighbourhood Imam Qasim in Kirkuk ten years ago.

Iran to meet with EU official over nukes
Yahoo! News Middle East 9/4/2006
VIENNA, Austria - The European Union's foreign policy chief and Iran's senior nuclear negotiator tentatively agreed to meet Wednesday in a last-ditch attempt to bridge differences over Tehran's atomic program, U. N. and European officials said. With the Vienna meeting seen as the last chance for Iran to avoid sanctions, U. N. Secretary- General Kofi Annan threw his weight behind a negotiated solution, saying Monday that confrontation with the Security Council "will not be in Iran's favor or that of the region. " The officials, who agreed to share confidential information about the meeting with The Associated Press only if their names weren't used, stressed that the date and venue of the talks could still change.

Report criticises US terror policy
AlJazeera 9/4/2006
Sixty four per cent of cases have not been prosecuted -- Only a quarter of terrorism suspects held by US authorities in the five years since the September 11 attacks have been tried. Figures released by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University on Sunday indicate that 6,472 individuals have been referred to prosecutors on charges related to terrorism by the FBI and other authorities. Yet only a small number of these ever had their day in court with 64% of cases deemed not worth prosecuting and another nine percent either dismissed by judges or found not guilty. Of the 27% found guilty only 14 individuals received prison sentences of 20 years or longer, with 67 receiving between five and 20 years. Overall, of the 1,329 individuals who were sentenced, 704 received no prison time at all...


Genocide in Gaza
By Ilan Pappe, Palestine Chronicle 9/4/2006
      Nothing apart from pressure in the form of sanctions, boycotts and divestment will stop the murdering of innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip.
     A genocide is taking place in Gaza. This morning, 2 September, another three citizens of Gaza were killed and a whole family wounded in Beit Hanoun. This is the morning reap, before the end of day many more will be massacred. An average of eight Palestinian die daily in the Israeli attacks on the Strip. Most of them are children. Hundreds are maimed, wounded and paralyzed.
     The Israeli leadership is at lost of what to do with the Gaza Strip. It has vague ideas about the West Bank. The current government assumes that the West Bank, unlike the Strip, is an open space, at least on its eastern side. Hence if Israel, under the ingathering program of the government, annexes the parts it covets - half of the West Bank - and cleanses it of its native population, the other half would naturally lean towards Jordan, at least for a while and would not concern Israel. This is a fallacy, but nonetheless it won the enthusiastic vote of most of the Jews in the country. Such an arrangement cannot work in the Gaza enclave - Egypt unlike Jordan has succeeded in persuading the Israelis, already in 1948, that the Gaza Strip for them is a liability and will never form part of Egypt. So a million and half Palestinians are stuck inside Israel - although geographically the Strip is located on the margins of the state, psychologically it lies in its midst.
     The inhuman living conditions in the most dense area in the world, and one of the poorest human spaces in the northern hemisphere, disables the people who live it to reconcile with the imprisonment Israel had imposed on them ever since 1967. There were relative better periods where movement to the West Bank and into Israel for work was allowed, but these better times are gone. Harsher realities are in place ever since 1987. Some access to the outside world was allowed as long as there were Jewish settlers in the Strip, but once they were removed the Strip was hermetically closed. Ironically, most Israelis, according to recent polls, look at Gaza as an independent Palestinian state that Israel has graciously allowed to emerge. The leadership, and particularly the army, see it as a prison with the most dangerous community of inmates, which has to be eliminated one way or another.
     The conventional Israeli policies of ethnic cleansing employed successfully in 1948 against half of Palestine’s population, and against hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank are not useful here. You can slowly transfer Palestinians out of the West Bank, and particular out of the Greater Jerusalem area, but you cannot do it in the Gaza Strip - once you sealed it as a maximum-security prison camp.

The Silent Expulsion
By Amira Hass, Palestine Chronicle/Ha'aretz 9/4/2006
      Since Hamas won a majority in the Palestinian parliament, Israel has begun denying entry to Palestinians in the same situation as Khouri.
     In the middle of the conversation in the spacious CEO's office at the Palestinian National Beverage Company in Ramallah 10 days ago, Zahi Khouri's mobile phone danced on the table. It was M., from the Palestinian Standards Institute, calling for a worried consultation: He had to go to Jordan, but what should he do if they did not let him back into the country?
     Khouri has received many similar calls over the past two months from finance and business people who have already been denied entry. These are individuals who were always encouraged to settle in the territories by organizations like the World Bank, the U.S. State Department and Department of Commerce, and donor countries.
     Khouri is a Palestinian and a U.S. citizen. He was born in Jaffa in 1938. "We left during the nakba," he says. Since 1948, he has lived in Lebanon, Germany, South America, the Gulf States and the U.S. He returned to live in the country after the Oslo Accord, convinced that a state would be built through investment. Like tens of thousands of other Palestinians, he lives here as a tourist, renewing his visa every few months. It has been this way for years: Israel retains the sole authority to grant residency and identity cards for residents of the occupied territories. Until 2000, Israel issued permits only to a few hundred of the tens of thousands who sought to return to live in their homeland each year. After 2000, this too was halted. The renewal of visas every few months was a kind of compromise.
     That never bothered Khouri. He is one of the biggest investors in the territories, whose business interests require frequent trips abroad. In the U.S., he invests in real estate and restaurants. He is a partner in the National Beverage Company, the franchisee for Coca-Cola in the territories. He is a partner in two of the most powerful Palestinian companies: the Palestinian Development Investment Company (PADECO) and the phone company Paltel. He is a member of the Palestine International Business Forum (PIBF), alongside Palestinian, Israeli and Swedish business people. The PIBF, of which Khouri is first in the list of founders that includes Israeli business giants Benny Gaon and Dov Lautman, hopes to improve the business environment in the Palestinian Authority and the region.

Gaza's darkness
By Gideon Levy, Ha'aretz 9/4/2006
      Gaza has been reoccupied. The world must know this and Israelis must know it, too. It is in its worst condition, ever. Since the abduction of Gilad Shalit, and more so since the outbreak of the Lebanon war, the Israel Defense Forces has been rampaging through Gaza - there's no other word to describe it - killing and demolishing, bombing and shelling, indiscriminately.
     Nobody thinks about setting up a commission of inquiry; the issue isn't even on the agenda. Nobody asks why it is being done and who decided to do it. But under the cover of the darkness of the Lebanon war, the IDF returned to its old practices in Gaza as if there had been no disengagement. So it must be said forthrightly, the disengagement is dead. Aside from the settlements that remain piles of rubble, nothing is left of the disengagement and its promises. How contemptible all the sublime and nonsensical talk about "the end of the occupation" and "partitioning the land" now appears. Gaza is occupied, and with greater brutality than before. The fact that it is more convenient for the occupier to control it from outside has nothing to do with the intolerable living conditions of the occupied.
     In large parts of Gaza nowadays, there is no electricity. Israel bombed the only power station in Gaza, and more than half the electricity supply will be cut off for at least another year. There's hardly any water. Since there is no electricity, supplying homes with water is nearly impossible. Gaza is filthier and smellier than ever: Because of the embargo Israel and the world have imposed on the elected authority, no salaries are being paid and the street cleaners have been on strike for the past few weeks. Piles of garbage and obnoxious clouds of stink strangle the coastal strip, turning it into Calcutta.

Expansion of infrastructure for Zionist settlers in the south
Stop The Wall 9/1/2006
      Occupation authorities issued a confiscation order on August 29th for 3 dunums 900m2 from Harmala village southeast of Bethlehem. Land is being confiscated in a built-up area to build a concrete wall. This Wall will be 1 ½ km long west of Harmala along a settler road and will be built 40m from the nearest house and close to the village cemetery. A further 6 dunums will be annexed by the Wall. Occupation forces built the settler road at the end of 2005. It is around 4km long and a lot of land from nearby villages was stolen. This settler road, which links settler colonies in the Bethlehem district to Jerusalem, consolidates the ghettoization of Palestinian communities in the area. Palestinians are prevented from accessing the new settler highways through a system of walls and roadblocks, having to use instead side roads in their ghettos.
     Meanwhile, the Zionist regime’s policy to force Palestinians in the walls of the southern ghetto of Bethlehem and Hebron has seen a further round of settler violence in the Hebron district. Dozens of settlers from Susya destroyed around 45 olive trees belonging to farmers southeast of Hebron. Witnesses said that after dozens of settlers held a party the day before they destroyed the olive trees with sticks and by hand. Nasser, one of the farmers, said that this wanton and racist violence was carried out with the protection of soldiers. He went on to say that farmers in the area are often attacked by settlers and their olive trees and vines destroyed.
     Several families in the area have been attacked by settlers this year, including one occasion when masked settlers attacked farmers with knives in the middle of the night, causing serious injury to two farmers. The farmers subsequently moved out of their stone homes for fear of further attacks and now live in tents further away from the Susya colony. Typically during these attacks, masked settlers will attack the farmers whilst armed settler security guards will watch over the attack ensuring the farmers don’t fight back. None of these attacks have ever led to Occupation police forces arresting and prosecuting the cowardly settlers.

Hamas, from Islamic revival-movement to Palestinian government
By Astrid Essed, International Middle East Media Center 8/19/2006
      Contary to the leading opinions of the American-European politicians and media, the main aim of Hamas in calling for the "destruction" of the State of Israel, is not to kill or expel the Israeli-Jewish population, but to dismantle the zionistic State Model and to make an end to the 39-year Israeli occupation and settlement policy.
     In the Palestinian elections January 25, 2006, Hamas obtained a startling victory. Of the 132 seats of parliament, the Hamas party, which for the first time was participating in the parliamentary elections, obtained 74 seats, in contrast with the then-reigning Fatah Party, which obtained a mere 43 seats. The remaining 13 seats were obtained by different smaller political parties, as well as independent candidates.
     This great victory for Hamas was no surprise, considering the ongoing corruption of the Fatah-government versus the fundamental political and military resistance by Hamas against the Israeli occupation, as well as the Hamas social activities on behalf of the impoverished population of Palestine, especially Gaza.
     In spite of this, leading American-European politicians, as well as the newsmedia, not only showed great astonishment at Hamas' victory, they also demanded that Hamas renounce the violence against Israel and also acknowledge the State of Israel - and made this demand the condition of continued financial support to the Palestinian Authority.
     When the newly-formed Hamas government refused to agree with those American-European demands, the American and Canadian governments, as well the European Union, decided to freeze the financial support to the Palestinian Authority, a measure which mainly affected the already seriously impoverished Palestinian civilian population, since at least 45% of the population [some reports put the number as high as 70 %] are living below the poverty-rate and 15% are living in extreme poverty.

A Commission to Investigate the Occupation
By Danny Rubinstein, Palestine Chronicle/Ha'aretz 9/4/2006
      More Palestinians than Israelis were killed during the war in Lebanon, even though the Palestinians did not participate in the war.
     During the past two months, July and August, 251 Palestinians were killed in Gaza and the West Bank, all of them by Israel Defense Forces fire. About half of them were civilians, including women, children and the elderly. More Palestinians than Israelis were killed during the war in Lebanon, even though the Palestinians did not participate in the war and were not subjected to Katyusha fire.
     There has been a total freeze in the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The road map has not been mentioned for a long time. There is no disengagement and no realignment. There are no unilateral moves, and certainly no negotiations between the two sides. Occasionally, low-level officials meet to discuss essential everyday issues. And there have apparently been indirect contacts about releasing Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. But the only area in which Israel and the Palestinians currently maintain relations is the violent conflict: raids, shootings, shellings, terror attacks, arrests, roadblocks, expropriations. Killed and wounded.
     There ought to be a state commission of inquiry about what is happening in the Palestinian territories. For all its importance, and all the shock in Israel over what happened in the Lebanon war, this war cannot be compared to what has been happening for almost 40 years in the territories occupied by Israel during the Six Day War. Whatever inquiry is conducted into the Lebanon war, it will at most find that the prime minister made a mistake one day, and that the defense minister and the chief of staff made incorrect decisions on another day, and that one general and several brigade commanders did not understand what was happening in the field on a certain night, and that food and drink did not arrive in time. There is no comparison at all between mistakes of that kind and the fateful failures of all Israeli governments since 1967 with regard to the West Bank and Gaza. These involved erroneous decisions of historic magnitude.

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