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Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel
For those interested in keeping up with events in Palestine/Israel, there is no better digest than VTJP.

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11 February 2008


Barak: Goal is to get rid of Hamas
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 2/12/2008
One of the goals of Israel’s operations in the Gaza Strip is to bring about the demise of Hamas rule in the territory, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday. Laying out the general outline of Israel’s plan of action in the Gaza Strip, Barak said that the first priority is to contain the Qassam rocket threat and the smuggling of arms and explosives from Sinai into the Gaza Strip, and then to destabilize Hamas’ hold on the territory, possibly even bringing it down. On the operational level, Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said yesterday at a conference of senior command officers that "the Israel Defense Forces is prepared and ready to deepen and broaden its activities in the Gaza Strip, in any way necessary, and in line with the [political] decisions that will be made.

2 wounded in IAF strike in Gaza Strip
Yuval Azoulay and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 2/12/2008
The Israel Air Force carried out an air strike yesterday in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, wounding two civilians, Palestinian sources said. The Israel Defense Forces confirmed the air strike, saying it targeted a car carrying members of Hamas’ military wing. The army said the car was hit in the strike. Meanwhile, Palestinian militants fired two Qassam rockets at Israel, causing no damage or injuries. The Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet internal security service are preparing to step up assassinations against key Hamas figures in the Gaza Strip in response to the continued Qassam rocket attacks against Sderot. The renewed campaign of targeted killings is not likely, at this stage, to include members of the Hamas political leadership.

E. J’lem residents arrested after Court petition
Meron Rapoport, Ha’aretz 2/12/2008
The police arrested five Palestinian residents of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan this week, all within a day of their having petitioned the High Court of Justice to stop an Israel Antiquities Authority excavation under their homes. According to the IAA, the dig has uncovered the remains of a Second Temple-era drainage channel. It is being financed by Elad, an organization that promotes the Judaization of East Jerusalem. The Palestinians, who fear the dig will damage their houses, asked the court to halt it on Sunday, on the grounds that the IAA did not inform them that it planned to excavate on their property, as required by law. The court gave the IAA 14 days to respond. Last week, Palestinian demonstrators prevented the IAA from proceeding with the excavation. They tried to do the same on Sunday, but the police intervened to allow the dig to proceed.

Infiltrating Israeli special force kills PFLP fighter in Jabalia
Palestinian Information Center 2/11/2008
JABALIA, (PIC)-- An Israeli special force killed a fighter of the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the armed wing of the PFLP, called Rami Karim during fierce armed clashes with them east of Jabalia town, northern Gaza Strip, on Sunday, while his fellow fighters managed to return to their bases safely, according to the PIC reporter. The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades claimed on the same day its responsibility for engaging with the Israeli special force in Gaza. In a related context, a group of the Salahuddin Brigades, the armed wing of the popular resistance committees, survived on Sunday an Israeli attempted assassination after an Israeli missile targeted their car in the Beit Hanun town, while two Palestinian citizens present in the targeted scene were injured and transferred to a nearby hospital.  A field commander of the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, was assassinated by an...

Israeli town sues Google over claim it was built on Arab village
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 2/12/2008
The northern town of Kiryat Yam is suing Internet giant Google for slander, a local official said Monday, because a feature of its worldwide map service shows the town was built on the ruins of an Arab village. The dispute brings together two controversies, one old and one new. Officials from the town deny they displaced Arabs during the War of Independence, and Google is defending the practice of allowing any surfer to change information in its files. Kiryat Yam is a town of 40,000 on the Mediterranean coast just north of the port of Haifa. An entry on Google Earth, a feature that allows users to zero in on locations around the world, alleges that the town was built on the ruins of Ghawarina, an Arab village. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled or were expelled during the 1948-49 war.

Army siege on Azzoun village continues
International Solidarity Movement 2/11/2008
Qalqilya Region The village of Azzoun remains under strict curfew following the large scale invasion on Friday 8th February. The village of 11,000 people, situated in the Qalqilya region, is currently under siege, with residents unable to leave their homes and local businesses forced to remain closed since ten Israeli army vehicles invaded at 7PM Friday night. All except two roads out of the village have been blocked by huge earth-mounds. For the past three days Israeli soldiers have been terrorising the village, shooting live ammunition, rubber-bullets and sound-bombs at frightened residents. This invasion is the most recent of the almost daily incursions the village has been made subject to for the last two years. So far, eleven youths have been taken by the army, two of whom were arrested and are currently in jail.

IOA holds Palestinian woman in administrative custody after serving her sentence
Palestinian Information Center 2/11/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- An Israeli military court ordered the administrative detention of Wadha Fukaha for ten months without trial or charge, citing secret evidence tabled by the Israeli military prosecution. The Palestinian prisoner’s club said that the Israeli judge sanctioned the recommendation depending on the so-called secret file that the defendant and her lawyer could not get hold of at the pretext of preserving secrecy of the source. The club said that Fukaha was about to complete her term in prison when the administrative detention order was issued against her. It noted that many Palestinian prisoners had appealed to PA officials to demand an end of the Israeli occupation’s policy of administrative detention, describing it as "inhuman" and in flagrant violation of human rights.

Clinic and 15 homes threatened at Beqa’a Valley
International Solidarity Movement 2/11/2008
Hebron Region - The first permanent medical centre to be built in Beqa’a Valley village is being threatened with demolition along with 15 more houses. The village is located between Kiryat Arba settlement and Route 60 which divides the valley in two. Many houses in Beqa’a have been demolished before, and have been rebuilt with the assistance of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, but the clinic is the first of its kind in the area. Currently the only medical help is a temporary clinic in a private house which is staffed by Palestine Relief Doctors every Wednesday, other than this the villagers have to walk into Hebron itself which can be difficult given its close proximity to Kiryat Arba. The clinic first received a stop work order and then a demolition order, many houses were then given the same treatment.

Hamas leaders go underground to escape IDF strikes
Haaretz Correspondent and Agencies, By Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 2/12/2008
The leadership of Hamas in the Gaza Strip has adopted a low profile and is avoiding making public appearances for fear of an Israel Defense Forces strike. Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip said yesterday that the Hamas leaders had turned off their cellular telephones and moved from their homes to safe houses, which suggests they are taking seriously Israel’s warning that those responsible for dispatching Qassam rocket crews will be targetted. Among those who have gone underground are members of the political leadership of the organization, including former Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar, former Interior Minister Said Sayam, Nizar Rian and others. The leadership of Izz al-Din al-Qassam, the military wing of the organization, has been underground for some time. Former Palestinian Authority prime minister Ismail Haniyeh has not gone entirely underground, but is certainly keeping a lower profile.

Ismail Haniyeh goes into hiding for fear Israel might try to kill him
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 2/11/2008
London-based al-Quds al-Arabi reports Hamas PM has gone into hiding fearing assassination by Israel. Palestinian sources report other Hamas, Jihad leaders follow suit, drop out of sight - Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Hanieyh has gone into hiding for fear Israel might try to assassinate him over the ongoing Qassam fire emanating from the Gaza Strip, the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper reported Monday. According to the report, only a handful of bodyguards have knowledge of Haniyeh’s whereabouts and movements. Palestinian sources told Ynet that Hanieyh is known for frequently changing locations and accommodations even in times of calm. The sources further revealed that other prominent Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives have begun taking extra precautions, for fear Israel will try to target them.

Barak: IDF preparing for large-scale operation in Gaza
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 2/11/2008
Defense minister tells Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee IDF has killed 200 terrorists in Gaza Strip in last four months; vows not to deter from any course of action needed to ’give the residents of Sderot their peace’ - Defense Minister Ehud Barak appeared before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday and said that the IDF is "operating in all manners possible to stop the Qassam fire against Israel." According to Barak, "the IDF is preparing for a large-scale operation in Gaza, its possible alternatives and consequences. We will not deter from any course of action needed to give the residents of Sderot and the Gaza vicinity communities their peace." The defense minister told MKs that during its extensive operations in the Strip, the IDF has killed some 200 terrorists in the last four months, including 16 in recent days.

Ashkenazi: IDF ready to widen Gaza actions as much as needed
Yuval Azoulay, and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 2/12/2008
Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said Monday that the army is ready to expand its operations against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, but is waiting on orders from the political echelon. "The IDF is prepared and ready to deepen and expand the operations in Gaza as much as necessary, in accordance with [the political echelon’s] decisions," said Ashkenazi during a conference of top military officers at the IAF base in Hatzor. "The coming year will be full of security challenges, and IDF must be prepared to meet them," he added. During the conference, IDF officers presented the army’s goals and working plans for the coming year, at times touching on the lessons learned from the Second Lebanon War as well as the Winograd Committee’s final report on the war.

Israeli authorities demolish a Palestinian-owned house in Jerusalem
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center 2/11/2008
The Jerusalem municipality has, on Monday, demolished Palestinian-owned house located in the Wadi Al Jouz area in the eastern suburb of Jerusalem city. The house was constructed 30 years ago, and is owned by Aishah Arraameen, 56. She received a demolition order over three years ago, and, after hiring a lawyer, the order was canceled. Aishah’s son, Sa’ddi, told IMEMC that, three years ago the Israeli municipality had filed the demolition order under a false name, hence the annulment of the order. One month later, he added, the Israeli authorities issued a new order, bearing the family name. The family fearing being made to pay the costs of demolition, and so removed the roof top of the house themselves. Aishah moved to live with her son in Hebron city, in the southern West Bank. This morning, soldiers arrived at around nine in the morning, blocked the area and demolished the rest of the house.

Two Palestinian patients die due to the Israeli siege on Gaza, death toll due to the siege hits 103
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center 2/11/2008
Two Palestinian patients died on Monday due to the Israeli army siege imposed on the Gaza strip, Palestinian sources reported. Medcial sources identified the two as Fathiyyia Abu Wardah, 40, and Khadijja Al Aqaad. The sources said that both died of cancer. Medica; sources said the two have applied to travel for treatment outside Gaza but the Israeli authorities refused to grant them permit, despite of their illness. On Monday the Palestinian Gaza-based ad-Dameer association for human rights told IMEMC that since June 2007 so far, 103 Palestinian patients died due to the Israeli imposed siege on the Gaza strip. Sameer Mousa, a lawyer at ad-Dameer, told IMEMC that the three main reasons for the death of those 103 patients are varied, but all related to the tight siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. He cited, lack of medical supplies and equipment and the fact that patients are not allowed to travel outside of the Gaza Strip for medication.

Settlers attempt to demolish a Palestinian house in Hebron
IMEMC Staff, International Middle East Media Center 2/11/2008
The Palestinian Popular (Folk) Committees reported on Monday that an extremist settlers group attempted todemolish a Palestinian house in Bani Neim village, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron. The settlers are from Bani Hefar illegal settlement outpost. The settlers attacked the home, which is mainly under construction, destroyed the windows, doors and stones used for constructing the house. Israeli soldiers were present in the area but did not attempt to stop the settlers. Azmi Shiokhy, secretary-general of the Committee slammed the attack and stated that it is part of ongoing violations carried by settlers and soldiers in an attempt to force the residents out of the area and cease their land. Shiokhy added that the ongoing settlement construction and expansion in villages around Hebron, and the rest of the West Bank,is a direct violation to the rights of the residents and their lands, and a violation to the international law.

Peki’in house rented to Jew set on fire
Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 2/12/2008
A house in Peki’in rented out to a Jew was set ablaze yesterday in what police believe was intended as a warning to Jews to stay out of the largely Israeli Arab town. The two-story house, which is located next to the Peki’in’s ancient synagogue, was rented out to Naftali Friedman, who intends to open a guest house on its premises. "I’ve never had any problems with the local residents," said Friedman, from the nearby town of Maalot. "I am not involved in any political movement and I just thought it would be a good idea that could promote tourism in the town." The northern town of Peki’in, which has been home to a mixed community of Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze for hundreds of years, was shaken by riots last October in which Jewish property was damaged. Friedman arrived at the house yesterday after he was told by the contractor renovating it that it had been sabotaged.

The Israeli army kidnaps two Palestinians from Hebron
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center 2/11/2008
The Israeli army kidnapped two Palestinian civilians from the southern West Bank city of Hebron on Monday. Local sources stated that troops attacked and searched homes in Hebron city center and kidnapped Mohamed Zughier, 21 and attacked homes in the nearby Al Aroup refugee camp and kidnapped Mohamed Mahfouth, 22. Witnesses said that when troops attacked homes in the city of Hebron soldiers attacked beat up men during searching the homes their. Meanwhile the Palestinian Prisoners Society in Hebron announced on Monday that the number of Palestinian civilians kidnapped from the city since the beginning of February 2008 now stands at 30 civilians. [end]

Hamas sources: "PA Security arrests 13 Hamas members in the West Bank"
IMEMC Staff, International Middle East Media Center 2/11/2008
Hamas media sources reported on Monday that Palestinian Security Forces, loyal to Fateh movement , arrested on Sunday 13 members and supporters of the movement in several areas in the West Bank. In Jenin district, in the northern part of the West Bank, security forces arrested Ghassan Al Jammal, Mohammad Abu Al Nour, Ala’ Abu Hammad, Mohammad Al Haifawi, andMohammad Al Waqiyya. Al Waqiyya is wanted by the Israeli Security since ten months. In Tubas city, security forces arrested Ra’ed Shawar in front of the Al Quds Open University. In Ramallah district, security forces arrested Ziad Amriyya, Midhat Amriyya, and Nael Al Fahil, The three are from Kobar village, west of Ramallah. In Qalqilia, in the northern part of the West Bank, security forces arrested journalist Mustafa Sabri. Sabri is also a member of Qalqilia municipality council.

Israeli forces seize Palestinian security officer in Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 2/11/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized a member of the Palestinian National Security services in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Monday, Palestinian security sources said. During a morning raid, the Israeli military detained 22-year-old Salem Ubayyat. Ten Israeli military vehicles invaded Bethlehem. Israeli soldiers fired sound grenades and shot in the air, laying siege to several houses. The sources added that the Israeli forces damaged properties in the Palestinian houses they ransacked. The major damage was in the house belonging to Ali Ubayyat at which the Israeli soldiers fired sound grenades. In a different regard, the Israeli forces erected a flying checkpoint on Sunday evening on the main road between Bethlehem and Ramallah near the area of Qabir Hilwah, east of Bethlehem, searching all cars going in and out of Bethlehem.

Palestinian young man joins his brothers killed in Israeli air raid
Palestinian Information Center 2/11/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Palestinian medical sources announced Monday morning the death of Saleh Nabhan, 22, after he sustained last Thursday morning serious injuries in the same Israeli air raid that killed his two brothers Sa’id and Jawdat near the Jabalia refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip. Dr. Muawya Hassanain, the director general of ambulance and emergency at the health ministry, stated that Nabhan was in a critical condition and the third martyr of the same family, adding that with this new death, the number of the victims killed during the last Thursday air raid rose to nine Palestinians. In another context, Palestinian medical sources announced the death of a Palestinian woman suffering from kidney failure called Fathia Abu Warda, 40, after the IOA insisted on barring her from traveling abroad for medical treatment.

A Palestinian man dies of earlier wounds
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center 2/11/2008
Palestinian medical sources reported that a Palestinian man died on Monday at dawn of wounds he sustained last week. The sources identified the man as Saleh Nabhan, doctors said that Nabhan was admitted to on Friday to Al Shifa hospital in Gaza after sustaining critical wounds due to an Israeli air strile targeting Gaza city. Nabhan was clinically dead by Sunday and was pronounced dead on Monday at dawn, doctors added. Nabhan is the third Palestinian to die in Gaza on Monday. Two Palestinian cancer patients died in the coastal region on Monday due to the Israeli army siege imposed on the region since June 2007. [end]

Gaza: 2 Palestinian casualties in IAF strike
Ali Waked, YNetNews 2/11/2008
Sources in Gaza say two bystanders his during Israeli strike on vehicle traveling in Rafah - Palestinian sources said and Israeli aircraft opened fire Monday evening on a vehicle traveling in the south Gaza town of Rafah. According to the report, two bystanders were hit in the attack, but no details were given as to their condition. Shortly before the strike a Qassam rocket fired from north Gaza landed in an open field south of Ashkelon. No injuries or damage were reported. Defense Minster Ehud Barak told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday that the IDF is "operating in all manners possible to stop the Qassam fire against Israel," adding that during its extensive operations in the Strip, the army has killed some 200 terrorists in the last four months, including 16 in recent days.

Sderot mayor: A boy with an amputated leg is too much
Moran Zelikovich, YNetNews 2/11/2008
Embattled town leader visits Tuito boys injured in Qassam rocket attack at Tel Aviv hospital; says there is a justified discontentment amongst Sderot residents. Hundreds of protestors take to streets in protest, blocking major route in Tel Aviv and calling for Olmert’s resignation in Jerusalem - There were a lot of tears of sadness and pain on Monday at the convalescence wing of the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer outside of Tel Aviv, as Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal visited the two young victims of the recent Qassam rocket attack. Osher and Rami Tuito are being hospitalized at Sheba after a Qassam rocket made impact just a few feet away from the two brothers causing serious injury. Osher, 8, had to have a part of his leg amputated and his older brother Rami, 19, sustained moderate injuries.

Sderot supporters block Ayalon highway
Avi Cohen, YNetNews 2/11/2008
Despite mass deployment of police forces across Tel Aviv metropolitan area, protesters manage to block major highway, stop traffic. Demonstrators use loudspeakers to bring Color Red alarm to Tel Avivians - Supporters of Sderot’s struggle to raise awareness to the grave security situation in the Gaza vicinity communities blocked one of the major traffic routes of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area Monday noon. The protesters, who blocked the Ayalon highway near the Azrieli center and Hashalom train station in Tel Aviv, managed to completely paralyze all northbound traffic for a while, until they were pushed back by police. Demonstrators later disrupted traffic on the central Menachem Begin Road in Tel Aviv. The rally was accompanied by a vehicle carrying loudspeakers that repeatedly played the Color Red alarm, which is used to alert Negev residents before rocket attacks.

Sderot protest clogs central Tel Aviv streets
Yigal Hai and Mijal Grinberg, Ha’aretz 2/12/2008
Around 200 people from Sderot blocked streets in central Tel Aviv yesterday to protest the government’s inability to stop Qassam rocket strikes on their city. Protesters blocked the Ayalon Highway and the intersection of Arlosoroff Street and Begin Way, just by the Central Train Station. Police showed restraint and allowed the demonstrators to block the roads for a few minutes. They raised banners reading "We are not sitting ducks" and "No security, no shelters, no government" and called for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s resignation. During the rally, demonstrators sounded sirens and lay down on the street, simulating a rocket attack. Some of them held the remains of Qassams that had exploded. "The purpose of the protest is to awaken the people from central Israel from their sleep," Daniel Swisa, 50, of Sderot said.

VIDEO - News / Sderot residents rally in T.A., protest against Qassam fire
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 2/12/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 news roundup for February 11, 2008. In this edition: Sderot residents rally in Tel Aviv, protesting against ongoing Qassam rocket fire. Four police officers are wounded, one seriously, in a car chase after Bedouin drug smugglers in the Arava. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad incites crowd of tens thousands to call for the death of Israel. [end]

Police arrest five at Sderot residents’ protest in Jerusalem
Ruth Sinai and Yigal Hai, and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 2/11/2008
Police detained five demonstrators for questioning Monday after they blocked Jerusalem streets during a second day of protests organized by the Qassam-battered town of Sderot against government inaction to halt the rocket fire. Hundreds of Sderot residents and their supporters erected on Monday night a protest tent opposite the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, near the Prime Minister’s Office. They also blocked several roads in the capital, which were subsequently reopened. Alon Davidi of the Committee for a Secure Sderot addressed the demonstrators, and called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign. Sderot mayor Eli Moyal and National Union whip MK Uri Ariel have visited the tent. Earlier on Monday, protesters blocked Tel Aviv’s central Ayalon freeway and then marched to the Defense Ministry’s compound.

Al-Quds brigade attacks Sderot with home-made shells
George Rishmawi, International Middle East Media Center 2/11/2008
Al-Quds brigade, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad movement declared that they have fired a number of home-made shells at the Israeli town of Sderot, northeast of the Gaza Strip. IMEMC received a press statement from the brigade stating that its armed forces fired home-made shells at 18:23. No damages or casualties were reported. Meanwhile, the Israeli right wing Shass party threatened on Monday to withdraw from the Israeli government if peace talks with Palestinians continue as long as the firing of home-made shells continues. Shas Chairman Eli Yishai said "If there is any diplomatic progress in the negotiations with Palestinians beyond the current situation, and we are still under fire from Qassams and West Bank incidents, Shas will quit the government immediately." Palestinian resistance groups have been firing home-made shells at the Israeli town of Sderot and some...

Hamas: Israel will pay high price if Hamas leaders are harmed
Palestinian Information Center 2/11/2008
GAZA, PIC-- Hamas Movement has made it sound and clear to the Israeli occupation government on Monday that it will strongly retaliate to any Israeli attempt to kill Hamas political leaders, and that the Movement will use all possible means in this regard. The Movement also warned the Israeli occupation government of paying a high price for any foolishness it might commit [against Hamas political leaders], adding that the response of Hamas will be unprecedented and with all available means. Hebrew media outlets had earlier reported that the Israeli occupation government decided to assassinate Hamas political leaders inside and outside occupied Palestine, asserting that the legitimate PA premier Ismail Haneyya was on the assassination list. In a press statement he issued and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC, Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, the spokesman of Hamas Movement in Gaza Strip, described the Israeli threats against high-ranking Hamas officials as "serious escalation"...

OPT: UNWRA special appeal for Gaza making very slow progress
UNRWA, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2/12/2008
UNRWA - the largest distributor of aid in Gaza - said it needed over US$5 million for food aid as part of its appeal JERUSALEM, 11 February 2008 (IRIN) - A UN special appeal for the Gaza Strip has managed to bring in only a small percentage of the US$9. 8 million needed for urgent food aid and cash assistance for the enclave’s most vulnerable refugees. On 6 February, UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, began to distribute food aid in Gaza funded by a $100,000 donation from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Red Crescent Society. The money came in response to the special appeal issued by UNWRA in late January. [end]

Prosecutor: AG was right not to indict police for Oct. 2000 deaths
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 2/11/2008
Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan said on Monday that he has no second thoughts about the decision not to indict police for the killing of 13 Israeli Arabs during riots in October 2000. Addressing the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, Nitzan, who coordinated the investigation into the incidents on behalf of Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, said that "if you want an attorney to say ’indictment is mandatory only because 13 people have been killed,’ you should find yourself another state prosecution." Addressing the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, Nitzan, who coordinated the investigation into the incidents on behalf of Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, said that "if you want an attorney to say ’indictment is mandatory only because 13 people have been killed,’ you should find yourself another state prosecution.

’Jewish protesters would have been shot too’
Tani Goldstein, YNetNews 2/11/2008
Deputy state prosecutor defends decision to close October 2000 riots case, explains to Knesset committee evidence wasn’t enough to substantiate indictments against officers. Arab MKs blame Prosecution for ’cover up campaign’ - "The State Prosecution has left no stone unturned in its investigation of the October 2000 riots," Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan maintained during a special discussion held by the Knesset’s Internal Affairs Committee Monday. The committee summoned the meeting following Attorney General Menachem Mazuz’s recent decision not to indict the officers involved in the riots, which led to the death of 13 Israeli-Arab citizens. "In some cases, we found that the use of weapons was justified, or at least that the shooters’ criminal liability could not be verified," Nitzan explained.

Israeli forces kill one, injure 24 and destroy property in Gaza
Report, Al Mezan, Electronic Intifada 2/10/2008
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) stepped up their attacks against the Gaza Strip, launching aerial attacks on different parts of the Strip. The IOF launched two raids on Rafah, killing a policeman and causing considerable material damage in al-Shaboura refugee camp in Rafah. Also, IOF jet planes launched four attacks on a training site under construction and one attack on a steel factory in al-Zaitoun neighborhood in Gaza City, destroying it. Many homes in the vicinity were damaged. The attacks also resulted in the injury of 24 persons, including 14 children and six women. According to Al Mezan’s initial field investigations, at approximately 11:30pm on 9 February, IOF warplanes fired a missile at a policeman as he was walking in the al-Brazil neighborhood in Rafah. He was identified as 22-year-old Muhammad Ismail Abu Mteir.

Hamas negotiating return of Palestinians detained in Egypt
Ma’an News Agency 2/11/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas is engaged in ongoing negotiations with Egyptian officials to secure the return of Palestinians detained by Egyptian police, Hamas leader Ayman Taha said on Monday. Taha added that the Egyptian authorities sent back only 226 people who were detained in a sports club in Al-Arish, who had earlier threatened to set themselves and the building on fire. Earlier reports that Egypt had ordered the deportation of more than 3,000 Palestinians turned out to be false. Taha said that 126 trucks loaded with goods bought from Egypt have also been allowed to cross the border into the Gaza Strip. He confirmed reports that Egyptian security forces are maltreating the Palestinians held in Al-Arish: "We learned that they undergo hard investigations and torture, and the Egyptian authorities promised to release them.

Agreement allows return of stranded civilians on both sides of the Gaza border
Palestinian Information Center 2/11/2008
RAFAH, (PIC)-- The Egyptian authorities on Sunday night allowed the return of around 3,000 Palestinians who were stranded at the Egyptian side of the borders back into Gaza and about 100 Egyptians back to their country. An agreement to the effect was reached between Egyptian security authorities and Palestinian police in the PA interior ministry in Gaza. Tens of thousands of Palestinian citizens managed to cross the borders into Egypt after the border fence was knocked down at several points by frustrated citizens who have been under siege for almost two years that was tightened eight months ago. Witnesses said that Palestinians were carried in 50 Egyptian vehicles and were allowed passage through the Salahuddin border gate. The coordination was meant to control the borders and to ensure the safe return of civilians of both countries to their relatives, both parties emphasized.

Bahraini MPs leave Gaza Strip through Rafah crossing after refusing to use Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom
Ma’an News Agency 2/11/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A group of Bahraini lawmakers has left the Gaza Strip into Egypt on Monday through the Rafah border crossing after refusing to leave through the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing. A Bahraini royal delegation landed in Cairo on Sunday on a mission to negotiate the passage of the Bahraini officials out of the Gaza Strip, Bahraini lawmaker Nasser Al-Faddala said. Sources in Hamas movement, that controls the Gaza Strip, said that "great pressures have been exerted on the Egyptians to avoid opening the Rafah crossing." The Bahraini officials had traveled to Gaza over a week ago to gather facts on the situation in the hermetically-sealed territory. They pledged to help lift the Israeli siege and to support Gaza with economic aid. After Egyptian authorities resealed the Rafah border, the Bahrainis were told to leave through the Kerem Shalom crossing.

U.S. pushes Israel to accept proposed Egypt border deal
Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoffs, Ha’aretz 2/11/2008
The U.S. administration is urging Israel to engage Egypt in immediate dialogue in order to find a joint solution to the problem of the breached Gaza-Egypt border. The U.S. wants Israel to show some flexibility on Egypt’s demand to add 750 soldiers to its border force, as well as to agree to Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s proposal to take over responsibility for the Israel-Gaza Strip border. Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch visited Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority last week and held talks on the situation in the Gaza Strip. In Israel he met with Yoram Turbowicz and Shalom Turjeman, advisers to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, as well as defense and foreign ministry officials. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to visit the region herself shortly.

Bahraini delegation leaves Gaza via Rafah crossing
Palestinian Information Center 2/11/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Egyptian authorities on Monday allowed the Bahraini delegation led by MP Nasser Al-Fadala to leave Gaza via Rafah crossing after one week of being stranded there, Palestinian sources said. The three-member team toured a number of Palestinian institutions in the Strip and met with many officials and public figures to get acquainted with the conditions in the besieged Strip. The delegates could not get out of the Strip after the Egyptian authorities closed down the border terminal and did not allow them to leave. Intensified contacts were made between the two countries. The delegates refused to return to Egypt via Israeli-controlled Karm Abu Salem crossing. A Bahraini responsible source revealed that the Bahraini King Hamad Bin Issa had personally intervened to solve the problem. The King sent a private jet to ferry back the delegates, who had carried with...

Olmert asks Merkel for backing over Iran
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 2/12/2008
BERLIN - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last night to discuss, among other Middle East issues, tougher sanctions against Iran to block its nuclear program. The meeting was still taking place at press time. Olmert planned to show Merkel intelligence information regarding the Iranian nuclear program in order to persuade her to continue acting to bolster the sanctions against Iran, a senior government source said. The two leaders also planned to discuss German mediation efforts for a deal to secure the release of the two Israeli soldiers abducted by Hezbollah, Eldad Regev and Udi Goldwasser, as well as efforts to broker a deal for the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who is being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The two were scheduled to hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Merkel’s office.

Olmert seeks Germany’s support for Gaza operation
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 2/11/2008
PM meets Chancellor Merkel in Berlin as part of Israel’s diplomatic efforts to garner international support for wide-scale military operation in Strip, reiterates claim that no sovereign nation would allow attacks on its civilian population without retaliation. Iran also discussed - BERLIN - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Tuesday evening as part of Israel’s diplomatic efforts to garner internal support for a wide-scale operation in the Gaza Strip. Olmert has expressed his disappointment with the decline in European support for Israel’s policy in Gaza despite the incessant Qassam rocket fire on southern Israel. Sources in the PM’s Office attributed the development to a joint attempt by the Palestinians and elements in the United Nations and the European Union to convince the international community that there is a growing concern that Gaza may face a humanitarian crisis.

Gaza, Iran on agenda as Olmert meets Merkel in Berlin
Reuters, Ha’aretz 2/12/2008
German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday to discuss Israel’s conflict with Hamas Islamists in the Gaza Strip as well as Iran’s controversial nuclear program, Israeli officials said. An Israeli official said before the meeting that Merkel was "very curious" about the situation along the Gaza border, where violence threatens to complicate Palestinian statehood talks that resumed after the Annapolis peace conference in November. Public pressure has been mounting in Israel for Olmert to order a wide scale military operation against Hamas to curb cross-border rocket fire that has been disrupting life in towns and communities along the frontier. While Olmert toured Berlin’s Jewish Museum, pausing to tell reporters that Israel was "at war" with Hamas, residents of the southern Israeli town of Sderot disrupted...

Soldiers indicted on abuse charges
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 2/11/2008
3 soldiers accused of beating teenage Palestinian detainees under their custody. One soldier allegedly pressed blow heater to youth’s face. Female soldiers who bore witness to abuse chose to testify against defendants despite repeated attempts to pressure them - Three combat soldiers from the Haruv Battalion were indicted on Monday on charges of aggravated abuse, obstruction of justice and conduct unbecoming following an investigation into allegations that the troops beat and mistreated 16-year-old Palestinian detainees. According to the indictment filed to the Jaffa Military Court the three soldiers, all holding the rank of 1st Sgt, were instructed to watch over the blindfolded and cuffed detainees at the battalion’s command outpost near Shavei Shomron in the West Bank. At some point two of the soldiers slapped and beat the youths on their shoulder while the third soldier stood to the side and laughed.

Sapir College prepares to lay off lecturer who refused to teach reservist
Moran Zelikovich, YNetNews 2/11/2008
Lecturer who refused to teach student because he was wearing IDF uniform will be fired after he did not issue apology by college deadline - Sapir College has begun the process of terminating the employment of cinematography lecturer Nizar Hassan, who was involved in a dispute with First Lieutenant (res. ) Eyal Cohen after Cohen came to his class wearing his uniform last November. Hassan directed Cohen , an intelligence officer and a cinematography student in his class, to leave the classroom because he showed up to class wearing the military garb. The college took the step after the deadline Professor Zeev Zachor, president of Sapir College, issued to Hassan to apologize to Cohen passed without any action on the lecturer’s side. Cohen had said he would accept the apology if it were to be issued.

Israeli police round up Palestinians who appealed to Israeli Supreme Court to stop settlers
International Solidarity Movement 2/11/2008
Jerusalem Region For months the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA), with funding from the settler organization ELAD, has been digging under the private property of Silwan residents in occupied East Jerusalem. The owners of the land were not informed nor did they give their consent to the digging that has already resulted in damage to the walls of their homes. The damage to buildings and infrastructure has reached a state where the main road caved in recently under the weight of the winter snow. Letters sent by Attorney Sami Ershed on behalf of the residents to the IAA requesting information about the digging taking place on their land have not been answered. On Friday, February 7th Silwan residents established a protest tent on a privately owned plot adjacent to the ELAD visitors center where digging has been taking place.

Khudari proposes 2/23 as international day of solidarity against Gaza siege
Palestinian Information Center 2/11/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the chairman of the popular committee against the siege, on Monday proposed allocating 23rd February as the international day for solidarity with the besieged Gaza Strip. He told a press conference in Gaza city that the world should adopt practical steps in solidarity with the beleaguered Strip and to pressure the Zionist occupation into ending the siege. The lawmaker addressed a special appeal to Egypt to open the Rafah crossing to alleviate the suffering of the Gaza inhabitants. Khudari warned that the Israeli higher court’s approval of reducing fuel supplies to Gaza "heralds a real disaster on all aspects of life in the Gaza Strip". He charged that the court ruling was in contravention of all international laws and a clear violation of the Palestinian human rights especially when it is considered a kind of mass punishment.

Farmers of flowers in Gaza to devastate fields in protest of Israeli siege
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center 2/11/2008
Farmers of flower in the northern Gaza Strip city of Beit Lahiya, decided Monday to devastate about 500. 0000 square meters, planted with flowers, in protest against inability to export their products due to ongoing Israeli blockade on Gaza. In a press conference, held Monday morning at the Ramattan News Agency in Gaza City by the flower farmers society, Mahmoud Khlaiyel, head of the society, described the conditions for flower farmers as ’extremely worse’. According to Khlayiel, since the 17th of last January, the farmers have been unable to export a single flower, thus they have been inflicted financial losses estimated at five million US dollars. Khlayiel told reporters in Gaza that the closure by Israel of the Karem Abu Salem commercial crossing in southern Gaza since December of last year, agricultural products including flowers and strawberries have not be exported.

Red Cross to oversee transfer of man held in Israel
Daily Star 2/12/2008
BEIRUT: The International Red Cross has started legal proceedings to ensure the transfer of Nassim Nisr, a Lebanese man detained in an Israeli prison who will finish his term in two months, the pan-Arab Al-Hayat daily reported on Monday. "Ever since I signed a UN document calling for my return to my country, Israeli pressure on me has increased, and they wanted to give me back my Israeli ID card, which I’ve had since I arrived in Israel and have since decided to drop," Nisr told Al-Hayat. He also said that Israel is trying to use him against Hizbullah. "Once his sentence is over, Israel is under obligation to hand Nisr over to the UN, aside from any swap deal with Hizbullah," said Souha Mounzer, Nisr’s lawyer.

Nonprofit group gives Palestinian children breath of fresh air
Mohammed Zaatari, Daily Star 2/12/2008
SIDON: More then 100 children from the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon were given the opportunity to play, sing, dance and express themselves thanks to the Nabeh Foundation, which organized a fun-filled day for the children over the weekend. The Nabeh Foundation, Developmental Action Without Borders, is a nonprofit Lebanese organization that works mainly with Palestinian communities to build and support partnerships between children, parents, social authorities and volunteers. Palestinian children whose ages varied between 6 and 13 years old gathered in Darb al-Sim on the outskirts of Sidon on Saturday to spend the day playing with each other and having a good time. "I want to become a physician so I can treat the poor in the camp," Nada Mohsen, 7, told The Daily Star while playing with her friends.

Campaign to clear cluster bombs is still a work in progress
Ayman Oghanna, Daily Star 2/12/2008
BEIRUT: A project to clear Israeli cluster bomb and other munitions left behind by the July 2006 war has begun in the town of Siddiqin, in the south-western district of Tyre, a statement issued by the European Commission says. The project - funded by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Department, implemented by the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action, and managed, monitored and supervised by the UN Mine Action Coordination Center (UNMACC) - is one of many throughout Lebanon, endeavouring to clear the various hazardous areas contaminated by unexploded munitions from Israeli-launched cluster bombs. Cluster bombs are airdropped or artillery-fired shells containing hundreds of bomblets, each of which is capable of covering a wide area ofwith lethal metal shards and armor-piercing shrapnel. While these bomblets are no bigger than packet of cigarettes, they are far more deadly.

Khalid: "Israel approved the construction of 7000 settler home in Jerusalem"
IMEMC Staff, International Middle East Media Center 2/11/2008
Member of the Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), member of the Political Bureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Taiseer Khalid, stated that the Israeli decision to build 7000 homes for settlers around Jerusalem is another Israeli violation which aims at annexing all Arab areas around the city. Khalid stated that three week ago, the Jerusalem Municipality Council decided to build 7000 homes for Israeli settlers in land illegally annexed from the Palestinian residents. He added that this project, and all settlement projects in Jerusalem and around it, aim at emptying the area from its Palestinian residents and force new realities on the ground by totally isolating Jerusalem from its surrounding Arab cities and towns. Khalid also said that Israel is ongoing in digging tunnels, building bridges and hundreds of housing...

Palestine Today 021108
Ghassan Bannoura - IMEMc - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center 2/11/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 3 m 0s || 2. 75 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, www. imemc. org, for Monday February 11th, 2008. Three Palestinians die in Gaza whilst the Israeli army kidnaps nine civilians from the West Bank, these stories and more coming up. Stay tuned. The News Cast Palestinian medical sources reported that a Palestinian man died early on Monday morning, of wounds he sustained last week. The sources identified the man as Saleh Nabhan. Doctors said that Nabhan was admitted to Al Shifa hospital in Gaza on Friday after sustaining critical wounds from an Israeli air raid targeting Gaza city. Nabhan is the third Palestinian to die in Gaza on Monday. Two Palestinian cancer patients died in the coastal region as a result of the Israeli army siege imposed on the area since June 2007.

Haifa cable car reopens after damaged during Lebanon War
Fadi Eyadat, Ha’aretz 2/11/2008
Seven-year-old Baruch, accompanied by his little sister, Hely, and his parents, came to see the aerial cable car in Haifa last week. But he was hesitant to travel 400 meters in the air, to the Stella Maris lookout point on the slopes of Mount Carmel, in a transparent carriage. "It’s fun," he said hesitantly, as if trying to persuade himself to get into the car. Hely, on the other hand, who is 4, simply ran ahead and was the first to climb into the carriage without any fear. But as the car pulled off, she burst into tears. The cable car was being run in at the end of last week, in anticipation of its reopening yesterday - a year and a half after being hit during the Second Lebanon War. The car climbed up slowly as it approached the slope of the mountain. Behind it one could see the sea; the stone houses of Bat Galim on the shore alongside...

VIDEO - IDF veterans relieve post-traumatic stress through sailing
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 2/12/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for February 11, 2008. A group of Israel Defense Forces veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress symptoms go sailing every week in a Defense Ministry rehabilitation project. One of the shell-shocked veterans is Uri Lerner, who rescued under fire seven of his comrades after his unit was hit by an anti-tank missile during the Second Lebanon War. [end]

Poll: 100,000 children in Israel have been sexually assaulted
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 2/12/2008
A national poll reveals that some 100,000 children in Israel have been sexually assaulted, but only 2. 5 percent of the incidents are reported to the proper authorities. The poll, presented at a National Council for the Child conference in Be’er Sheva on Monday, encompassed 500 polled parents. The poll shows that 5 percent o f the parents reported that their children had been sexually harassed, and a quarter of the parents never told their children to avoid contact with strangers. Education Minister Yuli Tamir, who participated in the conference, presented data from the Central Bureau of Statistics indicating a 25 percent decline in high school drop-outs over the last three years. However, the data also shows that 22,000 students, or four percent of the national student body, still dropped out last year.

5% of children have fallen victim to sexual violence
Yael Branovsky, YNetNews 2/11/2008
Study indicates parents fail to discuss potential dangers of sexual assault with their children: 25% of parents have yet to warn their children of trusting strangers while 40% say they have not forbade the disclosure of personal information over the internet - A worrying 2,500 complaints of sexual assault against minors under the age of 14 are filed every year - this according to a study presented by the Geocartography Institute on Monday at the annual Be’er Sheva Conference on Children’s Well-Being held at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The groundbreaking study, which polled 500 parents who constitute a representative sample of Israel’s population, was based on a similar research project recently conducted in China. According to the results presented at the conference, 5% of respondents said their children had fallen victim to sexual assault while an additional 8% refused to answer the question put to them.

Refugee stories - A boy’s journey from Baghdad to Damascus
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in, ReliefWeb 2/11/2008
Damascus, February 2008 - Given 15 year-old Ibrahim Sayyid’s sunny outlook on life, you would be surprised to learn the challenges he has had to overcome to study plumbing at the UNRWA Damascus Vocational Training Centre. The Agency is sponsoring Ibrahim’s education and providing lodging for him at the Centre during his studies. "I’ve always been at the top of my class," said Ibrahim as he began telling the story of his journey from Baghdad to Damascus. Ibrahim attended school up to 7th grade in the Baladiyat suburb of Baghdad. His family was forced to flee Iraq in July 2006 after their lives were increasingly threatened. First, his sister was kidnapped. Her captors demanded $50,000 for her release. Ibrahim’s father, Thaer - quite well-off with two stores before the war - had had his savings drained and could only pay $5,000.

Tunisian Jews win Holocaust claim
Middle East Online 2/11/2008
Tunisian-born Israeli Jews who suffered under Nazi occupation have won a 5-year battle to be paid the same Israeli government stipends as European survivors of the Holocaust, according to a court document. David Etzion, an attorney acting for 19 claimants, said the ruling meant that approximately 20,000 Tunisian Jews who immigrated to Israel are entitled to claim the monthly benefits, which average about $330. German troops occupied Tunisia in November 1942. According to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, around 5,000 Jews there were rounded up and subjected to forced labor, and 20 Jewish activists were sent to their deaths in the extermination camps of Europe before allied forces arrived in May 1943. During the six months of Nazi rule in Tunisia, Jews were forced to wear yellow stars on their clothing, many had their property seized and community leaders were arrested, according to Yad Vashem’s Web site.

New York and London protesters call for Valentine’s boycott of Leviev
Press Release, Adalah-NY, Electronic Intifada 2/10/2008
Forty-five protesters called on Madison Avenue shoppers to boycott the jewelry store of Israeli billionaire and settlement magnate Lev Leviev this Saturday, the last major shopping day before Valentine’s Day. The protest was the seventh organized by the New York activist group Adalah-NY since Leviev’s store opened in mid-November. Londoners also joined the campaign to boycott Leviev, with 25 human rights activists picketing outside Leviev’s Old Bond Street store Saturday. The protesters in New York and London oppose Leviev’s construction of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law, as well as his abuse of marginalized communities in Angola, where he mines diamonds, and in New York City where he develops real estate. Facing the shop window at LEVIEV New York which was emblazoned with the words "Celebrate Love with Leviev" in pink, the New York protesters carried red, heart-shaped signs saying "Settlements are Heartless," "Have a Heart Leviev" and "Won’t You be Just."

OPT: Protection of civilians weekly report 23 - 29 Jan 2008
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ReliefWeb 1/29/2008
Of note this week Gaza Strip: - The IDF killed five Palestinians, including a 50-year-old farmer along the border in the North Gaza governorate. - 23 January: Thousands of Gaza residents poured through to Rafah and Al Arish in Sinai. Crowds from all over the Gaza strip rushed to buy food, medicine and fuel supplies in Egypt. The Egyptian border guards took no action to prevent people from crossing the border. As of 29 January, the border remained open (Rafah). - The conveyor belt/chute at Karni crossing did not operate this week. Sufa crossing was only open on 24 January exclusively for the entry of 11 trucks of basic commodities donated by Jordan. Kerem Shalom crossing was only open on 23 January for the entry of commercial and humanitarian goods. - 23 January: IDF bulldozers levelled and excavated agricultural land northeast of Beit Hanun, uprooting 350 dunums of olive and citrus trees.

U.S. Congressman, Holocaust survivor Tom Lantos dies at 80
Shmuel Rosner, and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 2/12/2008
WASHINGTON -Representative Tom Lantos, who as a teenager twice escaped from a Nazi-run forced labor camp in Hungary and became the only Holocaust survivor to win a seat in the United States Congress, has died. He was 80. A statement released by his office said Lantos, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, died early Monday, "surrounded by his wife, Annette, two daughters, and many of his 18 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren." In a statement issued Monday by the Foreign Ministry spokesman, the ministry expressed "its deep sorrow over the passing of U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos. "Lantos was one of the leaders in advancing Israel-U.S. relations in the U.S. Congress. Space does not permit the listing of all of his initiatives and actions on this issue during his long years of public service.

Tom Lantos, Holocaust survivor and US Congressman, dies of cancer
Associated Press, YNetNews 2/11/2008
California Democratic representative was born to Jewish parents in Hungary; survived Holocaust by escaping twice from a forced labor camp. Lantos was strong supporter of Israel - Rep. Tom Lantos, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress, has died, spokeswoman Lynne Weill said Monday. Lantos, 80, a Democrat, disclosed last month that he had been diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. He said at the time that he would serve out his 14th term but would not seek re-election in his northern California district, which includes part of San Francisco. The timing of the diagnosis was a particular blow because Lantos had assumed his committee chairmanship just a year earlier, when Democrats retook control of Congress. He said then that in a sense his whole life had been a preparation for the job - and it was.

UAE Red Crescent donates US$100,000 for emergency food to Gaza
Government of the United Arab Emirates, ReliefWeb 2/11/2008
Gaza - The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has begun distributing emergency food supplies in Gaza funded by a US$100,000 donation from the United Arab Emirates Red Crescent Authority (RCA). The donation came in response to the Special Emergency Appeal for Gaza launched by the Agency in January. Despite the temporary opening of the border with Egypt, the food situation in Gaza remains precarious, the Agency said in a press release. UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen Koning AbuZayd said: "The dire humanitarian situation has not eased. The Egyptian border is closed again. ’ "The borders with Israel must be opened for humanitarian and commercial goods. Otherwise Gazans will continue to face food insecurity and a further deterioration of their living conditions. We are extremely grateful for the generosity of the United Arab Emirates...

UAE Red Crescent to provide polio vaccines for Gaza children
Government of the United Arab Emirates, ReliefWeb 2/11/2008
The United Arab Emirates Red Crescent Authority (RCA) is providing almost half a million polio vaccines for children in Gaza as an initial tranche of support to health and education to Palestinian children. "Palestinian children are unwilling casualties of a health system under extreme duress,’ said Dr. Saleh Al Taei, the RCA Secretary-General. "This supply of polio vaccines is an important part of a wide range of interventions that are critically needed to protect children in Gaza from preventable disease, disability and death. ’ Gaza has been virtually sealed off since June. The economy has collapsed and even the basics - medicine, food, fuel are lacking. More than half (56%) of Gaza’s 1. 4 million residents are children, a press release issued by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Sunday. The UAE support will provide some 98,000 children with at least four doses each...

Shas: We’ll quit government if peace talks continue amid terror
Mazal Mualem, and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 2/12/2008
Shas Chairman Eli Yishai on Monday stepped up his party’s threats to resign from the government over the ongoing peace talks with the Palestinians, warning against moving forward in the peace process as long as terrorism against Israelis continues. "If there is any diplomatic progress in the negotiations with Palestinians beyond the current situation, and we are still under fire from Qassams and West Bank incidents, Shas will quit the government immediately," he said. Shas has taken a tougher stance on diplomatic issues, and stepped up threats to resign from the government, since the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party walked out of the government in protest over the decision to launch talks on the core issues of the conflict, including Jerusalem, refugees, and borders.

Siyam: Former PA security conspires with Israel to assassinate Hamas leaders
Palestinian Information Center 2/11/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Saeed Siyam, the head of the Hamas parliamentary bloc, on Monday revealed that coordination between certain quarters in the PA leadership in Ramallah, its former security elements in the Gaza Strip and the IOA was ongoing to carry out Israeli threats of assassinating politicians affiliated with Hamas atop of them premier Ismail Haneyya. MP Siyam, whom Israeli ministers also called for assassinating, did not rule out the existence of cooperation between those who masterminded the previous botched attempt to assassinate Haneyya and the Israeli intelligence, underlining that Hamas takes the current Israeli threats seriously. The lawmaker pointed out that the picture about the attempted assassination of Haneyya became clear despite the escape of some criminals to Egypt, adding that the confessions of the detained criminals will be broadcast soon.

Hamas warns: Targeting our leaders will lead the entire region to explode
Palestinian Information Center 2/11/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement warned Monday the Israeli occupation of the consequences of its intentions to assassinate Hamas leaders and officials, highlighting that any targeting of its leading figures would lead the entire region to explode like a volcano and burn the ground beneath Zionists’ feet. In a statement to the PIC, Dr. Ismail Radwan, a prominent Hamas leader, underlined that the Israeli threats of liquidating its leadership outside and inside the Palestinian lands would never intimidate Hamas or force it into raising the white flag, adding that Hamas would never waive the Palestinian constants or an inch of the Palestinian land. The Hebrew radio said that the Israeli government agreed during a security consultation session held urgently at the invitation of its premier Ehud Olmert to escalate assassination operations against Hamas political and military leaders inside...

Nazzal: Local, regional forces work on toppling Hamas
Palestinian Information Center 2/11/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Local and regional forces are in agreement on toppling Hamas Movement rather than opening dialogue with it, Mohammed Nazzal, political bureau member of Hamas, said. He told Quds Press on Monday that his Movement was convinced that a number of scenarios were being studied to topple the legitimate government led by Hamas in Gaza by force. Nazzal explained that the plans envisage exploiting the tight economic blockade on Gaza imposed by the Israelis with local, regional and international collusion, in addition to inciting strife in Gaza and the IOF direct military strikes. The Hamas leader opined that instigating enmity between Hamas and Egypt was part of that campaign against the Movement, and added that differences of opinion exist between Hamas and Egypt, which certain parties exploit and exaggerate.

Israel threatens to ‘liquidate’ Hamas leaders
Middle East Online 2/11/2008
Israel grappled on Monday with how to halt rocket fire from the Gaza Strip amid mounting calls for the army to hit Hamas leaders and worries about getting bogged down in the Islamist-run territory. "We have to overturn the Hamas regime, pulverise its military force and liquidate all of its leaders, without making an artificial distinction between those who wear suicide belts and those who wear diplomat suits," said Tzahi Hanegbi, the head of parliament’s foreign affairs and defence committee. His comments to public radio reflected the anger that has mounted in Israel over the rockets fired from Gaza after an eight-year-old boy had to have his leg amputated after being wounded by shrapnel on Saturday. On Sunday, Olmert ruled out launching a widespread ground offensive in Gaza but warned that no-one from Hamas was immune to Israeli strikes in the isolated coastal territory.

ANALYSIS: Hamas banks on IDF invasion to deliver final blow to Abbas
Zvi Barel, Ha’aretz 2/12/2008
Those who follow the news on Hamas’ Website or hear its spokesmen will have a difficult time deciding who Hamas’ real enemy is. Is it Israel? Egypt’s state media, which launched a media offensive against the organization behind the breach of Egypt’s border? Or is it the Palestinian Authority, depicted as an enemy in cahoots with the Zionist entity? After all, the fire of Qassam rockets at Israel is determined by its relationship with Fatah, the Palestinian Authority and the Arab governments, just as much as it is by Israel’s response. In a way, the Qassams are aimed not only against Israel but also at Ramallah and Cairo. "Hamas will not allow anyone to undermine its military power that manifested itself in the seizure of the Gaza Strip, nor shall it allow anyone to undermine its political power that manifested itself in its near complete...

In Berlin, Olmert says he feels Sderot’s pain
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 2/12/2008
BERLIN - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yesterday expressed sympathy with the residents of the rocket-battered town of Sderot, ahead of his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "I totally feel the pain of Sderot’s residents, as I felt Jerusalem and Tel Aviv’s residents’ pain - each city in its turn has dealt with distress," Olmert was speaking during a visit to Berlin’s Jewish Museum. "Sderot’s residents justly want what every citizen of every state in the world is entitled to - they want to live without threat." Olmert said this would not be achieved in one day, but will be achieved. "The security services have permission to do whatever it takes to change the situation. I believe the situation will change," Olmert said.

Barak: U.S. unlikely to attack Iran nuclear installations
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 2/12/2008
The likelihood that the United States will undertake military action against Iran’s nuclear installations is small, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday. Barak also briefed the MKs on security-related developments in the Gaza Strip and other fronts. Barak explained that the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, prepared by American intelligence agencies, and which concluded that Tehran had halted its efforts to develop nuclear weapons, had contributed to the hesitation to take military action against Iran’s nuclear program. However, Barak said that "whoever reads the small print finds that we [Israel and the U.S. ] disagree on some of the conclusions [in the report] but a lot less than what one thinks at first glance." The defense minister warned that the way events have unfolded in recent months may also make it difficult to impose further economic sanctions on Tehran.

J’lem city hall: State blocks new housing over Green Line
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 2/12/2008
The government is holding up construction of hundreds of apartments in Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem due to the negotiations with the Palestinians, according to Jerusalem city manager Yair Ma’ayan. However, Ma’ayan told the Knesset Economics Committee yesterday, the municipality is still managing to move forward on plans for building some 10,000 other apartments in Jewish parts of East Jerusalem. Following the Annapolis conference last fall, several media reports about ongoing construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem angered the Palestinians and Americans. In response, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered all building in the settlements frozen, including those settlements that are part of the greater Jerusalem area. But with regard to East Jerusalem, which was formally annexed to Israel in 1967, he merely ordered that he be kept informed of any building plans, and...

’I don’t care if our pro-Zionist stance costs us’
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 2/12/2008
Anyone who doesn’t more or less share Marty Peretz’s views on Israel or U.S. politics has little hope of getting a job at The New Republic, the editor-in-chief of the prestigious U.S. journal told Haaretz while in Israel last month. Those views, in short, hold that 60 years after Israel’s independence, the world is once more "in need of a mandate for Palestine," the journalist and retired Harvard University lecturer said in his suite in the Tel Aviv Hilton. The Palestinians, he says, need to be governed by foreign powers for the time being, because they "do not have yet the attributes to allow them to live peacefully alongside Israel without threatening its civilian population." As for academia’s growing criticism of Israeli policies toward the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the Arab world, Peretz says that "for young scholars in the U.

Barak said hoping to clinch spy satellite sale during Turkey visit
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 2/11/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak will promote the sale of a spy satellite to Turkey and other military deals during a visit to Ankara this week, security sources said on Monday. Muslim but secular Turkey is Israel’s most important regional ally, though relations were strained last year by an Israel Air Force strike in neighboring Syria. Ankara has offered to mediate in peace talks between Israel and Damascus or the Palestinians. Barak, who begins a two-day visit to the Turkish capital on Tuesday, will urge his hosts to buy state-run Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) Ofek satellite for an estimated $300 million. "This deal has been under discussion for years, but Barak’s visit may help clinch it," a security source said, adding that past talks had been held up by counter-bidding from a French aerospace firm.

Delegates of the International Mission of United Methodist Churches visit Bethlehem
International Middle East Media Center 2/11/2008
Delegates of the International Mission of United Methodist Churches visited the West Bank city of Bethlehem and met with Palestinian families in villages and refugee camps around the city. The delegates initially spent three days in Arab areas in Israel in order to observe the living conditions there. The 90 members of the visiting delegate are from several Methodist Churches in the USA and several countries around the globe. The delegates listened to complaints from the residents regarding the harsh conditions they are facing under occupation and the ongoing Israeli violations and assaults. Reverend Byron Kaiser, from the Methodist Church in Chicago stated that they delegates came to the area to observe the conditions the Palestinians area facing under occupation and the conditions the Arab residents of Israel are undergoing.

Education in the West Bank - the future begins here
Margo Sabella , World Vision, ReliefWeb 2/11/2008
JERUSALEM-WESTBANK-GAZA - A new boys’ school has opened its doors to 400 students attending the 5th to 9th grades in one of the villages of the West Bank. Built in partnership with World Vision and funded by USAID, the Azzun Basic Boys School was inaugurated in the village of Azzun in the West Bank on February 5, with members of the community and the Palestinian Minister of Higher Education present. The brand new facility, painted blue and yellow, holds ten classrooms, offices for the administration, a teachers’ lounge, a counseling room, a computer laboratory and library, a multi-purpose hall, and a playground where students can practice playing basketball. ’We have a vision for a better future for 100,000 children living here. Let it begin here, and let us see a better future for these kids,’ said Charles Clayton, National Director for World Vision –...

Ahmadinejad: Iran will not back down in nuclear row
Reuters, YNetNews 2/11/2008
Tehran holds mass rally marking Islamic revolution’s 29th anniversary. President vows ’not to retreat one iota’ from country’s ’nuclear rights’; demonstrators chant ’death to Israel’ - Iran will not back down "one iota" in its nuclear dispute with western powers, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a huge rally marking the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution on Monday. "They should know that the Iranian nation will not retreat one iota from its nuclear rights," Ahmadinejad told the crowd which had gathered in the capital Tehran for the 29th anniversary of the revolution that toppled the US-backed shah. "They... cannot do anything except to play with papers and make propaganda," Ahmadinejad said, referring to world powers discussing a third UN sanctions resolution against Tehran over work the West fears has military aims.

Hebrew was never less popular in Egypt
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 2/11/2008
According to Arab media outlet, Israeli ambassador to Cairo called for inclusion of Hebrew classes in Egyptian school curriculum; Israeli Foreign Ministry says comment were never made - The Egyptian political world is once again up in arms against Israel. The reason this time: A declaration that was attributed to Israeli ambassador to Egypt, Shalom Cohen, in which he purportedly called for the inclusion of Hebrew classes in the official Egyptian school curriculum. The alleged comments appear to have been published in Egyptian newspapers and from there they were taken by the al-Jazeera news network. According to the report, "Ambassador Cohen claimed that the Camp David Accords include a clause that mandates the inclusion of Hebrew in the Egyptian educational program." That seems to have been enough to reignite the fire of fury against Israel. [sic]

A question of closure
Al-Ahram Weekly 2/7/2008
Two weeks after Palestinians destroyed parts of the border fence with Gaza to reach the Egyptian side and four days since Egypt managed to reseal its borders, there is no sign of a solution to the crisis caused by Israel’s continued blockade of Gaza. One indication of the growing tension is the plethora of daily statements made by Egyptian officials directed mainly at Hamas. Following clashes between Egyptian border guards and Palestinians on Monday, Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul- Gheit said that Cairo’s "patience" is running out. One Palestinian was killed and 46 Egyptian border guards injured during the clashes. Meanwhile, Egyptian presidential spokesman Suleiman Awad said that, "Egypt is a respectable country. You can’t break open its borders and throw stones at its soldiers."

Hamas: Calling for convening PNC deepens internal rift
Palestinian Information Center 2/11/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement considered Sunday that the call for the convening of the outdated Palestinian national council deepens the internal rift in the Palestinian arena and bypasses what had been agreed upon in Cairo between all Palestinian factions. "Hamas confirms that this invitation is illegitimate because it is outside the framework of the Cairo agreement which commits all parties to rebuilding the PLO on new foundations through the formation of a committee comprising the general secretaries of Palestinian factions in order to oversee that," Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said in a statement received by the PIC. Dr. Abu Zuhri added that the current PNC was formed more than 17 years ago; therefore, the institutions of the PLO have no legitimacy to make any decision on the Palestinian affairs as long as it exceeded the Cairo agreement.

Shas says will quit coalition if peace talks continue amid Qassam fire
Neta Sela, YNetNews 2/11/2008
Chairman Eli Yishai says haredi party will resign from Olmert’s coalition if negotiations with Palestinians carried out while rocket fire from Gaza continues. Netanyahu to Shas: Do the right thing - Shas chairman Eli Yishai said Monday his party would resign from the coalition "if the current negotiations (with the Palestinians) progress beyond the current point while Israel continues to sustain Qassam rocket attacks". Speaking to faction members, Yishai, who also serves as vice premier and minister of industry, trade, and labor, said violent occurrences in the West Bank would also prompt the haredi party to quit the Kadima-led government. Following last week’s suicide attack in Dimona, which left one Israeli dead and several others wounded, Yishai called for the immediate suspension of the ongoing peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.

MIDEAST: Will Netanyahu Surge Oust Olmert?
Bill Berkowitz, Inter Press Service 2/11/2008
OAKLAND, California, Feb 11(IPS) - One day after the Jan. 30 release of the Winograd Commission report, which in part detailed some of the failures of the Israeli government and the military during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign. "The [Winograd] committee concluded ’we assign personal blame to the three captains’," said Netanyahu. "While two of the captains [former defence minister Amir Peretz and former chief of staff Dan Halutz] have stepped down, the political echelon and its leader [Olmert] refuse to take responsibility and exhibit personal integrity and leadership -- which is what the decisive majority of the public expects them to do." The Likud Party’s Netanyahu, a close ally and friend of U.S. Christian Zionists, "is waiting in the wings, talking tough on Gaza and Iran, saying...

Elections before the end of 2008
Akiva Eldar, Ha’aretz 2/12/2008
What would the public say if Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu had left a meeting with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas yesterday and declared that "prosperity and peace go hand in hand... We will prove to all those who thought that we couldn’t that we are capable of making peace, and we will disappoint everyone who didn’t believe it... We don’t want to break up the agreement. On the contrary: We came to advance it. We will advance on all the issues to which we committed ourselves, including negotiations on a final-status agreement." And what if Netanyahu had then promised, "Decisions on establishing settlements will be made only after the map of the final-status agreement has been settled, when Israel’s security zones and areas of settlement in the West Bank have been clarified"? It did not happen yesterday, nor did...

New guidelines for Israeli and Palestinian bank ties
Eran Peer, Globes Online 2/11/2008
The guidelines aim to prevent money laundering and financing of terrorism. The Bank of Israel has issued new guidelines for ties between Israeli and Palestinian banks governing money transfers and checks, which will come into effect tomorrow. The guidelines aim to prevent money laundering and financing of terrorism. The Bank of Israel originally planned to publish the guidelines in November 2007, but postponed them because banks in the Palestinian Authority had not completed their preparations. The regulations stipulate: Banks will be obliged to check the opposite party in transfers to high-risk territories and countries (including the Palestinian Authority) against the list of declared terrorist organizations and terrorists and to report such transfers to the Israel Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Prohibition Authority.

Damaging frost compounds farmers’ woes
Report, Electronic Intifada 2/11/2008
HEBRON, WEST BANK, 10 February (IRIN) - A recent cold snap with sub-zero temperatures has caused farmers in the West Bank to incur losses of nearly US$14. 5 million, according to initial estimates by the Palestinian ministry of agriculture (MoA) set out in a 6 February joint "fact sheet" with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The winter cash crop is the most profitable and "[as] a direct result of the frost, thousands of farmers have lost their main source of income for the next [few] months," the "fact sheet," which was emailed to IRIN, said. Between 70 and 100 percent of crops planted in the open -- mainly zucchinis, eggplants, beans, tomatoes, peppers and fruit trees -- have either been lost or damaged. A Palestinian Authority (PA) document obtained by IRIN detailed the damage in the northern part of Hebron District during seven days of frost and sub-zero temperatures in January, and said about $1.

OPT: Palestinian farmers hit by prolonged frost in January
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - Integrated, ReliefWeb 2/10/2008
HEBRON, WEST BANK, 10 February 2008 (IRIN) - A recent cold snap with sub-zero temperatures has caused farmers in the West Bank to incur losses of nearly US$14. 5 million, according to initial estimates by the Palestinian ministry of agriculture (MoA) set out in a 6 February joint "fact sheet" with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The winter cash crop is the most profitable and "(as) a direct result of the frost, thousands of farmers have lost their main source of income for the next (few) months," the "fact sheet", which was emailed to IRIN, said. Between 70 and 100 percent of crops planted in the open - mainly zucchinis, aubergines, beans, tomatoes, peppers and fruit trees - have either been lost or damaged. A Palestinian Authority (PA) document obtained by IRIN detailed the damage in the northern part of Hebron District during seven days of frost and sub-zero temperatures in January, and said about $1.

Photostory: Solidarity with Gaza
Slideshow, Electronic Intifada 2/11/2008
As Israel tightened its siege on the Gaza Strip, Palestinians and solidarity activists demonstrated their support for the people of Gaza. The above images were sent to The Electronic Intifada from around the world and document various actions, demonstrations and vigils in solidarity with Gazans under siege. If you have images to which you hold the rights documenting Palestine, Palestinian life, politics and culture, or of solidarity with Palestine, please email images and captions to photos A T electronicintifada D O T net. [end]

Sderot protest / The Israel they don’t belong to
Daniel Ben-Simon, Ha’aretz 2/12/2008
In search of the nation’s attention, a wandering tribe of Sderot residents has embarked upon an odyssey, tramping from one center of influence to another. On Sunday it was Jerusalem, yesterday Tel Aviv, tomorrow some other place. In Jerusalem, the seat of political power, they saw from up close the helplessness of a state with no direction, whose politics have gone bankrupt. In Tel Aviv, a financial power on a world scale, they saw an opulent, surging Israel, and realized how much they did not belong. Apart from Israeli identity cards and a similar language, they have almost nothing in common with that hyper-capitalistic gallop, whose central artery is the Ayalon Highway. When Israel was troubled by the Iranian threat, it put together an impressive world coalition. It is doubtful whether any other country has such mobilization and persuasion powers as those that Israel set into motion against Iran. Yet when it comes to a godforsaken development town in the heart of the deserted, wounded Negev, the state has given up.

Ghetto text a translation of Herzl, not original Israel treatise
Eli Ashkenazi, Ha’aretz 2/12/2008
Researchers have determined that a text written by an anonymous person in the Lodz ghetto during World War II is not an original treatise envisioning the State of Israel seven years before its creation, as first believed. It is rather a Polish translation of the diary of the founder of Zionism, Benjamin Herzl. Two weeks ago Haaretz ran a story on the excitement of scholars over the document, which they believed was dreamed up in 1941 by an unknown Polish Jew who probably perished in the Holocaust. After reading over the text, however, Mordechai Friedman and Yitzhak Weiss realized that the text was in fact a collection of fragmentary quotes from Herzl’s first diary, written in 1895. Herzl was inspired to write his text envisioning the creation of a Jewish state after witnessing anti-Semitism at Alfred Dreyfus’ trial which he covered as a correspondent for an Austrian newspaper.

Bank of Israel policy stand garners support
Zeev Klein and Lilach Weissman, Globes Online 2/11/2008
Politicians have called Governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer to back his policies. Governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer has been bolstered in his stance on monetary policy. The day after he called a snap press conference to fend off pressures to cut interest rates by 0. 5%, politicians have been disassociating themselves from the bill proposed by Manufacturers Association president Shraga Brosh and Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) chairman Ofer Eini designed to weaken the governor of the Bank of Israel’s grip on interest rates. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On called Fischer to express support. Eini also called, to explain his move. "I don’t intend to sign up any member of Knesset or to do any lobbying on behalf of the bill," he told Fischer.

LEBANON: Internal Conflict in Chilling Rise
Analysis by Mona Alami, Inter Press Service 2/11/2008
BEIRUT, Feb 11(IPS) - The year 2000 heralded the end of Israel’s occupation of Lebanon, with the exception of the much disputed enclave of the Shebaa Farms, located at the country’s southern western tip between Israel and Syria. Since then, concern over Hezbollah’s new role has been in the political spotlight, leading to a continuous rise in tensions, especially following the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri. "Hezbollah is a national actor with a transnational ideology," says Patrick Haeni from the think tank International Crisis Group. "Hezbollah believes in using its experience as a resistance movement against Israel as a successful management model for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict." The doctrine of Hezbollah, or the Party of God, is built on two pillars: moukawama (resistance against Israel) and moumanaa (immunisation against Western influence).


Israel’s "next logical step"
Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada 2/11/2008
      "The next logical step" for the Israeli government "will have to be a decision whether to target the top political leadership" of Hamas. So said an Israeli official quoted in The Jerusalem Post. Tzahi Hanegbi, a senior member of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s Kadima party and chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, echoed the call, arguing that "There’s no difference between those who wear a suicide suit and a diplomat’s suit." Following a cabinet meeting on 10 February, Israel’s Interior Minister Shimon Sheetrit specifically called for the execution of Ismail Haniyeh, the democratically-elected Hamas prime minister, and added that for good measure "We must take a neighborhood in Gaza and wipe it off the map."
     Last September, Yossi Alpher, the co-founder of the European Union-funded publication Bitterlemons, wrote an article advocating "decapitating the Hamas leadership, both military and ’civilian.’" Alpher, a former special adviser to Israel’s defense minister Ehud Barak when the latter was prime minister, worried that Israel would "pay a price in terms of international condemnation," for "targeting legally elected Hamas officials who won a fair election," but that overall it would be well worth it.

Gaza Diary: Birthday under siege

Omar, a humanitarian worker in partnership with Oxfam, Al Jazeera 2/11/2008
      It is another clear and starry night in Gaza, and cold ... as cold as it gets this time of year.
     I woke up shivering this morning. Yesterday, my family and I spent the evening in darkness and without any warmth because of another electricity cut.
     On my way to work I found there was hardly anyone on the streets. It is bitterly cold and there are heavy winds that make your hands and face feel raw. Most people are staying indoors trying to keep warm with what little they have.
     You see, now it is even more difficult to get blankets in the market because very few goods are being allowed into or out of Gaza by the Israeli government.
     To be honest, even if blankets were available, most people would no longer be able to afford to buy them. This blockade has seen so many people lose their salaries and it has increased the price of almost every thing, even basics like bread. Yesterday, I bought a loaf for seven shekels ($1.90); today it is eight ($2.20).

An End Foreseen

Uri Avnery, MIFTAH 2/11/2008
      A WISE person once said: "A fool learns from his experience. An intelligent person learns from the experience of others." To which one could add: "And an idiot does not even learn from his own experience."
     So what can we learn from a book which shows that we do not learn from experience?
     All this is building up to a recommendation for such a book. I don’t recommend books as a rule, not even my own. But this time I feel the need to make an exception.
     This is William Polk’s book, "Violent Politics", which has recently appeared in the United States.
     Polk was in Palestine in 1946, at the height of the struggle against the British occupation, and since then he has studied the history of liberation wars. In less than 300 pages he compares insurgencies, from the American Revolution to the wars in Afghanistan. His years on the planning staff of the State Department involved him with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His conclusions are highly illuminating.

Strengthening Hamas

Ghassan Khatib, MIFTAH 2/11/2008
      When Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert acceded to the ultimatum from his coalition partner Shas not to negotiate the fate of Jerusalem lest he lose the religious party’s support, he confirmed Palestinian fears that Israel is not ready for serious negotiations.
     Since the resumption of political contacts between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Olmert, and particularly during preparations for the Annapolis conference last November, Palestinians reached the conclusion that the Israeli government was interested in a process but was not ready for substantial negotiations, particularly on Jerusalem, refugees and settlements.
     On the refugee issue, Israel has made it clear time and again that there will be no negotiations. On settlements, the Israeli government has been unwilling to even freeze settlement expansions or dismantle outposts let alone dismantle settlements in general or even negotiate such a possibility. The final nail in the coffin for good faith negotiations was this stark position on Jerusalem.

Fueling Disaster

Rami Almeghari, MIFTAH 2/11/2008
      At the bus stop at Palestine Square, in the bustling heart of Gaza City, 25-year-old Said Ramadan cried to passersby, "Fuel, fuel, fuel! Come and buy!"
     Last week Ramadan took advantage of the blasting through of the border wall between the Gaza Strip and Egypt and the brief respite from months of siege to travel to the nearby Egyptian town of al-Arish and stock up on gallons of fuel.
     "Israel has prevented the entry of fuel to the area, so I took a chance and brought some quantities from al-Arish to help and be helped," Ramadan said.
     However, Ramadan and others who had the same idea last week now say that the prices do not meet the people’s purchasing power, as each liter of fuel costs more than one dollar.
     Ahmad Aqel, also selling fuel in Gaza, explained, "I used to work as a taxi driver, but I decided to seize the opportunity of the border reopening to bring some gallons of fuel to sell here."

The Morning Paper

Samia Khoury, MIFTAH 2/11/2008
      Now I can understand why my sister-in-law stopped getting the morning paper.I am by nature an early riser and I wake up full of high spirits.I still remember the few lines one of my friends at Southwesternuniversity wrote in my scrap book. “I hope you will marry a man who can stand your singing so early in the morning.”Bless his soul,he had to cope with much more than that.
     I picked up the paper from the front porch and the first thing that caught my eyeonthe front pagewas a photo of a little girl sitting on the rubble of her home in the Old City of Jerusalem.Immediately my mood changed.
     On the second page there was an item about the closure of a road parallel to the road where we live in Beit Hanina, a suburb north of Jerusalem. It has been closed by barbed wire and cement blocks.This road is the only outlet for the people who live upthe hill in order for them to reach the main road to drive south to the centre of Jerusalem.


Serene Assir, Al-Ahram Weekly 2/7/2008
      Two weeks after the surprise opening of the Egypt-Gaza border 1,500 Gaza residents were forcefully repatriated on Tuesday alone and up to 500 arrested following clashes between Egyptian security forces and Palestinians. It is unclear how many Palestinians now remain in North Sinai, but the number is believed both by Egyptian security and Palestinians still in Arish to be very low. "We sent the vast majority home [Tuesday," said a police source speaking to Al-Ahram Weekly on condition of anonymity. "You won’t find many in the city any more."
     An estimated 1,500 Palestinians had been rounded up in a youth camp in Arish and promised visas -- they have residency in countries other than Palestine -- but they too suffered the consequences of the clampdown and were repatriated back to Gaza rather than given the visas they were promised, according to witnesses. Only 23 people remained in the camp six hours after the expulsion operation took place Tuesday. "They were made to board the Central Security Forces’ trucks and taken to the border," said Nafiz, a Gaza resident who believed Egypt would grant him leave to travel to Cairo, and from there to Germany, where he legally works.

What’s next, Hamas?

Galal Nassar, Al-Ahram Weekly 2/7/2008
      Hamas needs to place its Islamist agenda on the backburner and concentrate instead on alleviating the suffering of Palestinians.
     The problem with Arab Islamist movements is not just that they consistently make the wrong choices but that their mistakes have caused a lot of suffering for everyone else. The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is a case in point. Founded in the late 1920s, it has spawned a host of like-minded groups yet it has still to provide a single clue as to what it plans to do to resolve any of the problems haunting Arab societies.
     Had such movements confined themselves to social, educational and charitable affairs -- the activities under which cover they operate -- they might have helped themselves and others rather than alienating everyone with their holier-than-thou perspective.
     Had these movements done that, they would have been an asset rather than liability.
     The MB once claimed to "preach not judge", a slogan it has consistently failed to live up to. The slogan was nothing but a smokescreen: the group continued to form secret outfits and death squads, challenging the rest of society across the board. Does anyone need to be reminded of the ferocity with which the MB sought to undermine Nasser’s nationalist policies?

No room for two states

Hassan Nafaa, Al-Ahram Weekly 2/7/2008
      The case for a single state solution for Palestine is irrefutable
     Is there truly hope for the establishment of a viable, sovereign Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel in peace? Sadly, I doubt it very much, at least in the foreseeable future, in view of current local, regional and international conditions.
     The creation of a Palestinian state should not be regarded as an end in itself, but rather as a means for resolving a long and complex historical conflict. Accordingly, our judgement on a formula for a proposed state should rest not so much on whether it complies with necessary formal and legal conditions as whether it meets that overriding criterion: will it serve to draw to a close, once and for all, that protracted conflict?
     After all, the concrete existence of a Palestinian state with certain specifications could, in itself, become an instrument in the conflict as opposed to a step towards its solution. The conflict between the Palestinians and the Zionist movement is not over disputed borders or material interests and, therefore, resolvable by merely coming to an agreement over permanent borders and a give-and-take over material interests. Rather, it is a conflict between two identities, each of which claims sole propriety right over a given territory. Such a conflict cannot be solved by the same means that are brought to bear on conventional international conflicts.

Unpopularity contest

Khaled Amayreh, Al-Ahram Weekly 2/7/2008
      Fayyad’s performance is facing increasing discontent
     The Palestinian government in Ramallah is engaging in a quiet tug-of-war with the Fatah movement, headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. According to sources close to government circles, the "gap" between Fatah and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is "getting wider and deeper" with the passage of each day.
     "We are talking about the conversion, or even collision, of two different philosophies, two different ways of thinking: one rational, methodical and systematic, which Fayyad represents, and the other -- populist, demagogic, factional, even tribal, represented by the Fatah movement," said a high-ranking official in the Fayyad government.
     Meanwhile, Fatah leaders have been waging an unrelenting wave of criticisms of the performance of the government, accusing it of a host of failures, including "sidelining Fatah", "pandering to Israel", and "paying little attention to Palestinian public opinion".