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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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24 February 2008


Israeli strike kills three civilians in Gaza
Middle East Online 2/24/2008
GAZA CITY - An Israeli missile strike in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanun killed three Palestinians near the border fence with Israel on Saturday, a Palestinian hospital official said. Doctor Muawiya Hassanein, the director of Gaza emergency medical services, identified the men as Mohammed al-Zaanin, Ibrahim Abu Jarad, and Mohammed Hassanein, employees at the Bank of Jordan, who were picnicking near the border with Israel when the missile struck." They were in an area near the border and they were having lunch outside. They were not militants, but civilians," Hassanein said. An Israeli army spokesman said the men were "killed by a land-to-land missile while they were on their way to fire mortars" but could not confirm that the men were carrying weapons. Israel has carried out near-daily assaults against the Hamas-ruled territory in recent months in a bid to halt rocket and mortar attacks by militants on southern Israel.

Israel to confiscate 766 dunams of Palestinian land near Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 2/24/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Israeli authorities issued a military order on Saturday to confiscate 766 dunams (a dunam is 1000 square meters) of Palestinian land belonging to the West Bank town of Adh-Dhahiriyya as well as land belonging to the Ramadin clan south of Hebron. The land is to be used for expansion of the Israeli settlement of Eshkolot. Palestinian cartographic expert Abdul-Hadi Hantash told Ma’an’s reporter that the Israeli authorities handed warrants to Palestinian farmers. According to the Israelis the confiscation orders fall under the category of "border adjustment." Hantash compared the confiscation orders with his maps, and concluded that the affected area will actually be more than 900 dunams. An additional 2400 will fall behind the Israeli separation wall, which he says is a form of indirect confiscation.

Two Hamas militants killed in IAF strike on southern Gaza Strip
Yuval Azoulay, and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 2/24/2008
Two Hamas militants were killed and at least two others wounded early Monday in an Israel Air Force strike on the southern Gaza Strip. The IDF confirmed the air strike, saying it targeted a group of gunmen spotted in the area. IDF troops on Sunday uncovered five tunnels in southern Gaza used for smuggling weapons. The tunnels were found during an IDF operation in Dahaniyeh, east of Rafah. Troops from the Givati Brigade, Armored Corps and Engineering Corp arrested some 40 Palestinian militants suspected in terror attacks against Israel during the operation, the IDF said. [end]

The Israeli army and settlers attack Palestinian farmers near Hebron
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center 2/24/2008
A group of Israeli troops and settlers attacked Palestinian farmers in the village of Al Towani, located near the southern West Bank city of Hebron on Sunday morning. Christian Peace Maker Team (CPT) workers told IMEMC that the farmers were grazing their sheep near their village when Israeli troops attacked them and their sheep, forcing them to leave. The human right workers also said the soldiers threatened to kidnap the shepherds if they came back to the land again. On Saturday a group of settlers attacked the villagers of Al Towani and their sheep. Farmers said that settlers attacked one of the sheep, injuring the animal. The Israeli army and the Israeli radical settlers from the nearby settlement of Havat Ma"™on regularly attack the villagers of Al Towani and their sheep, in an attempt to force the Palestinian farmers from their land so they can expand their settlement.

Lieberman to Zahalka: We’ll make sure you end up where you deserve
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 2/24/2008
Disagreement between Yisrael Beiteinu chairman, Balad leader regarding integration of Israeli Arabs in National Service turns ugly as former calls Arab MKs ’a fifth column’; latter replies with ’shut up, fascist’ - A fierce argument broke out between Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman and Balad leader, Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka, on Sunday during a Knesset’s Education Committee meeting regarding the integration of Israeli Arabs in National Service (Sherut Leumi). The meeting addressed, among other issues, the incitement against those who choose to volunteer, and their families. The debates heated when Lieberman began speaking against the Israeli Arab’s leadership, saying they are the ones instigating the incitement. Lieberman was supposedly speaking against a comment made by Zahalka about four months ago, during a conference protesting...

Abusive officer apologizes to his victim
Ynet, YNetNews 2/24/2008
Channel 2 investigative report reveals new testimonies by soldiers of Kfir Brigade, recently involved in series of violent incidents against Palestinian population in West Bank. On show, officer who led unauthorized raid in Dahariya meets with one of his victims, apologizes - The Kfir Brigade stationed at the West Bank has been at the heart of a series of incidents of violence against the local Palestinian population in recent months. Reports in the media revealed cases of abuse, harassment and even theft among the troops, reflecting what seems to be a normative problem in the brigade. An investigative report that was broadcast on Channel 2 Sunday evening, revealed new testimonies by soldiers about the brigade’s involvement in those incidents. Lieutenant Jacob Gigi, who was recently convicted of a series of offenses for his role in the kidnapping a Dahariya...

Arab family scores rare win; court tells settlers to leave land
Akiva Eldar, Ha’aretz 2/25/2008
Atef Ahmad, from the village of Saniriya, east of Qalqilyah, admits that when he turned to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court to request that settlers be removed from his family’s property, he did not really think anything would come of it. His neighbors told him it was a waste of time. His elderly mother wanted nothing to do with the Jews. In the end, nine family members agreed to the requests of human rights activists working for Yesh Din, and took a chance. They provided attorney Michael Sfard with power of attorney and forgot about the whole matter. Ten days ago, Magistrate’s Court Judge Irit Cohen confirmed that the 11 residents of the Shaarei Tikva settlement had agreed to leave the property of their own will. After failing to convince the court, which rejected their claims that Atef’s father had sold the property when Atef was merely 6 years old, the settlers gave up.

Down by the riverside, in Tul Karm and Emek Hefer
Zafrir Rinat, Ha’aretz 2/25/2008
Israelis and Palestinians are working to build a Peace Park that would improve the environmenton both sides of the Green Line. Many cities throughout the world, including in Israel, have recently declared their commitment to preserve the environment, and some have started projects aimed at saving energy and establishing ecological neighborhoods. It is relatively easy for a prosperous city in western Europe or a flourishing town in Israel such as Kfar Sava to devote more attention to environmental awareness. But what about cities that are struggling, isolated and closed off, such as the Palestinian town of Tul Karm, located less than half an hour’s drive from Kfar Sava? It turns out that even there, Israelis and Palestinians have been working together to improve the environmental situation. Recently, they have been trying to advance a project to set up the Alexander-Zemer Peace Park.

Abbas’s intelligence apparatuses summons Amayreh for interrogation
Palestinian Information Center 2/24/2008
AL-KHALIL, (PIC)-- The general intelligence of the PA in the West Bank has summoned Palestinian journalist and writer Khalid Amayreh for interrogation on Sunday for yet unknown reasons. Relatives of Amayreh, who lives in Dora village near Al-Khalil city, said that he received a notification to the effect from the Al-Khalil intelligence office. Amayreh is a veteran Palestinian journalist and a vocal critic of the current "peace process" between the PA leadership in Ramallah and Israel. He is among a few Palestinian journalists who write in English to a global audience. His articles and columns are published on numerous websites, especially those critical of the Israeli apartheid regime and the US policy toward the Palestinian plight. Amayreh obtained a BA degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a Master’s degree in the same field from the University of Southern Illinois at Carbondale in the USA.

Israel to boycott UN’s ’Durban II’ conference on racism
Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 2/25/2008
Israel will boycott the United Nations "Durban II" conference on human rights, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni announced Sunday in Jerusalem at the annual meeting of the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism. The decision followed an assessment by the Foreign Ministry, and other Western governments, that it will be impossible to prevent the conference from turning into a festival of anti-Israeli attacks. South Africa hosted the first Durban conference in the summer of 2001 under the auspices of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. It was titled "The World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance," but most of the discussions revolved around Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. The United States and Israel responded by lowering the level of their diplomatic representation and eventually...

Gaza merchants strike protesting Israel blockade
Middle East Online 2/24/2008
GAZA CITY - Merchants across the Gaza Strip closed their shops on Saturday in a half-day strike to protest against Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory. The strike, called by the Popular Committee Against the Siege (PCAS), a politically independent group headed by Palestinian parliamentarian Jamal al-Khudari, was to be part of a day of international events and demonstrations." Our message is clear, and it is to break the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and to motivate the Arab and Islamic and international community on the official and popular level," Khudari said. The group says it has organised protests and other activities in more than 90 cities across the world and has called on international participants to switch off their lights for 30 minutes after sundown in a show of solidarity. Israel has sealed the Gaza Strip off from all but vital humanitarian goods since...

Detained Palestinian MPs call for filing their case with international court
Palestinian Information Center 2/24/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- Palestinian PLC members detained in the Israeli Ofer jail have called on legal institutions and all concerned societies to table their case with the international court of justice in The Hague to demand their release. MP Hatem Qufaisha explained that efforts should focus on the legal aspect of their detention and to form an international legal committee to follow up their case instead of leaving the deputies to political whims or the "good intentions" of occupation. For his part, MP Ahmed Mubarak said that the people and its authority are called upon to focus their efforts on freedom of the detained lawmakers and to shun differences. He called for restoration of people’s unity, and championed halting media campaigns and releasing political prisoners as an introduction to dialogue. The MPs were speaking during a visit by Nafha legal society’s lawyer to them.

Gaza children appeal to UN’s special envoy to lift the blockade
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center 2/24/2008
Dozens of Gaza children appealed on Sunday to the special envoy in Gaza to use his leverage to lift the blockade, being enforced by Israel since last June. The children, who gathered today morning in front of the UN’s office, handed over a written appeal to the envoy’s assistant, Mr. Basem aL-Khaldi, who in turn promised to convey the children’s concerns to his seniors. "there are many cases that need urgent medication, yet appeals have fallen on deaf ears yet. We call upon you to make such treatment possible", the appeal read. aL-Khaldi pledged that such an appeal will be submitted to the United Nations Secretary General, Ban-Ki Moon soon. " The most significant obstacle lies in underway Palestinian division so there should be a solution to such a crisis, as many parties have recently repudiated responsibility because of such a division", aL-Khaldi was quoted as saying.

Nativity Church deportees to hold a weekly sit-in
Ma’an News Agency 2/24/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Palestinians deported from the Nativity Church in Bethlehem to the Gaza Strip have decided to organize a weekly sit-in in front of the de facto government’s headquarters in Gaza City, one of the deportees told Ma’an. The families of the deportees plan to hold a similar demonstration in front of the office of the governor of Bethlehem. The protestors will demand that the Palestinians deported to the Gaza Strip and Europe after the siege of the church in 2002 be allowed to return to their homes. Iyad Al-Adawi, one of the deportees in the Gaza Strip, said: "There has been confusing news about our destiny, and we repeatedly listen to statements by many Palestinian officials on the topic rendering us in a very bad psychological situation. So, we decided to organize a weekly sit-in attempting to get Palestinian officials to stick to their responsibilities.

Houses in Far’un village face imminent demolition
International Solidarity Movement 2/24/2008
Tulkarem Region Two houses in the village of Far"™un, near Tulkarem, are under threat of imminent demolition as the deadline given by the Israeli authorities for residents to evacuate their homes has come and passed. The original deadline, which fell on 3rd February 2008, was met with a show of community resistance, with up to 100 villagers holding vigil outside the endangered houses, accompanied by eight international human rights workers. The community presence seemed sufficient to dissuade Israeli authorities from sending bulldozers to demolish the structures before the lawyer for the families could make an appeal of the High Court of Justice. A deadline extension was won, providing the families"™ lawyer with ten more days in which to argue their case with the Israeli authorities. This deadline too has now passed, with no assurances the houses will be saved.

Issa’s house gets broken into as intimidation increases in Tel Rumeda
International Solidarity Movement 2/24/2008
Hebron Region This week in Hebron, soldiers have continued their expansion of duty and further harassment of Palestinians. On Wednesday night Human Rights Workers (HRWs) discovered the door of an empty Palestinian house next to the checkpoint leading to Tel Rumeida had been removed. Soldiers are already using the house on the other side of the checkpoint as a military outpost and habitually use the roof as an opportunity to throw snow or gravel at Palestinian children. HRWs were scheduled to hold a Gaza Solidarity Action at Issa’s House Saturday morning but on Friday night soldiers from the military outpost within the settlement broke into the long coveted property and stole gas, cameras, a stereo, a laptop, a water heater and all the preparation for next year’s summer camp. Complaints have been filed to the police.

Israeli forces tie up traffic at Huwwara checkpoint near Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 2/24/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces further impeded the movement of Palestinians in and out of the city of Nablus on Sunday morning, bringing traffic to a standstill at the Huwwara checkpoint. Witnesses said that Israeli soldiers lined Palestinian commuters up on the side of the road, slowly searching each person. Workers and students could not reach their destinations on time. The Israeli military has imposed strict closure on the city over the last two weeks, installing new checkpoints and tightening restrictions at existing roadblocks on the pretext of security concerns. [end]

Beit Hanoun mayor to Sderot mayor: Palestinians already wanted truce
Ma’an News Agency 2/24/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - Palestinians had already been demanding a long-term ceasefire when the mayor of the Israeli town Sderot called for a truce, the mayor of the Palestinian city of Beit Hanoun, Muhammad Kafarna, said on Sunday. Kafarnawas commenting on the call by Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal for a ceasefire with the Palestinians. While Sderot suffers a state of horror due to the sounds of explosions, Beit Hanoun suffers Israeli raids which target Palestinian civilians on a daily basis, said Al-Kafarna. He said the most recent raid targeted a group of young men who were attacked while trying to get relief from the crippling Israeli siege. Three people were been killed in that attack. Sderot, the city targeted most by Palestinian resistance groups with homemade projectiles, is across the border from Beit Hanoun. Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal told the UK Guardian newspaper this weekend, "I...

Palestinian fighters in Nablus to receive cash if they give up armed struggle
Ma’an News Agency 2/24/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – The governor of the West Bank city Nablus, Jamal Muheisin, announced on Sunday that Palestinians wanted by Israel in the northern will receive a cash reward if they willingly turn over their weapons. Muheisin said that wanted Palestinian activists will be placed under a three month probation period, but will not be arrested, as a precondition for being pardoned. He added that the Palestinian Authority is putting effort into providing the best detention conditions for those who take up this offer. These arrangements are part of the program "Dialogue with Officials," which is organized by the Palestinian Ministry of Information. The governor of Nablus also stated that a member of the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), who was seized by Israeli forces on Saturday, intended to turn himself over to the Palestinian Authority.

Mansi: The murder of Barghouthi result of PA-Israeli security coordination
Palestinian Information Center 2/24/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Yousef Al-Mansi, the justice minister in the PA caretaker government, strongly denounced on Saturday the PA intelligence apparatus in Ramallah for torturing to death Sheikh Majd Al-Barghouthi, a local Hamas leader, in its jails, considering his murder as a result of the PA-Israeli security coordination. In a press release received by the PIC, Dr. Mansi underlined that this heinous crime committed by the PA security apparatuses in the West Bank which are contrary to all human values is a serious indication that the lives of more than thousand kidnapped citizens inside its jails are in jeopardy. The minister called on PA chief Mahmoud Abbas to bring those responsible for the killing of Sheikh Barghouthi atop of them Tawfiq Al-Tirawi, the intelligence chief, to trial before the Palestinian people prosecute them sooner or later.

Hamas loyalists turn preacher’s funeral into W. Bank protest
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 2/25/2008
Thousands of angry Hamas loyalists on Sunday marched at the funeral of a Muslim preacher who died in the custody of government interrogators, accusing the Palestinian Authority of killing the man and turning the ceremony into a rare show of defiance against President Mahmoud Abbas. Some 3,000 Hamas loyalists crowded the village of Kobar, carrying the body of 44-year-old Majed Barghouti, who died in a lockup run by intelligence officials on Friday, a week after he was arrested. The demonstration was an unusual sight in the West Bank, where Abbas’ Palestinian Authority has become increasingly autocratic since his Hamas rivals seized power in the Gaza Strip in June. Since then, police have cracked down on protests perceived to challenge Abbas’ rule. Also Sunday, Israeli officials pointed to incremental progress in peace talks with...

PA security quells funeral march of Barghouthi
Palestinian Information Center 2/24/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The PA security elements in Ramallah suppressed on Sunday the funeral march of Sheikh Majd Al-Barghouthi who was tortured to death by the PA intelligence apparatus in its jails. Palestinian eyewitnesses told the PIC reporter that PA security elements used without any warning a baton charge on the participants in the funeral procession and beat without mercy many Palestinian citizens who wanted to bid farewell to Sheikh Barghouthi, a mosque imam in Ramallah, who was loved and esteemed by a large segment of the Palestinian citizenry.     The eyewitness also explained that the security elements came unexpectedly from behind the massive march and started to beat, drag and round up a number of young men, adding that a number of injuries in the heads and other areas of the body were recorded in the ranks of the funeral participants.

Three Gaza picnickers killed by Israeli missile
Report, PCHR, Electronic Intifada 2/24/2008
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the Israeli war crime perpetrated in the evening of Saturday, 23 February 2008, east of the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. Three Palestinian civilians were killed by an Israeli rocket fired as they were on a picnic in the Nazaz area east of the town. The Centre’s preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 3:40pm on Saturday, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) fired a surface-to-surface missile from one of its bases along the Gaza Strip border. The rocket targeted three friends in a bamboo hut in a field belonging to the family of one of the victims in the Nazaz area east of Beit Hanoun. The targeted area was approximately 1. 2 kilometers away from the border with Israel. The rocket landed in the middle of the three civilians who were preparing food during their picnic in the field. They were instantly killed and dismembered. Their remains were taken to the Beit Hanoun Hospital.

Israeli siege on Gaza reaps more lives of sick Palestinians
Palestinian Information Center 2/24/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Palestinian citizens Mohammed Ahmad Al-Hindi and Ahmed Lubbad died on Saturday after the Israeli occupation authority denied them exit permits to receive medical treatment outside the besieged Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical sources reported. The Gaza Strip has been under crushing Israeli economic blockade that was strongly supported by the USA and the EU. The embargo killed scores of innocent Palestinian civilians. The death of Hindi, 52, and Lubbad, 47, brings to 101 the number of sick Palestinian citizens who died since the IOA sealed off all crossing points of Gaza Strip and denied Palestinian patients treatment in hospitals outside the Strip nine months ago. According to the sources, thousands of sick Palestinian citizens in Gaza, including children, women, and elderly people are awaiting their death as a result of the Israeli refusal to allow them to be treated abroad.

Israeli air strike on Gaza kills two militants
Middle East Online 2/24/2008
GAZA CITY - An Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip on Friday killed two Palestinian militants, Palestinian medical sources said. The attack near Bureij in the southern part of the Gaza Strip killed two 20-year-old members of the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, Ayman Abu Said and Mohammed al-Hazin, said the medics. It brings to 6,151 the number of people killed since the eruption of the second Palestinian uprising in 2000, the vast majority of them Palestinians. Of those, 190 have been killed since Israel and the Palestinians resumed peace talks at a US-sponsored conference in November. Meanwhile, Hamas welcomed a European Parliament resolution calling for an end to Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the Palestinian Islamist group. However, spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri was more circumspect with regard to the resolution’s call for an end to rocket fire on Israel by Palestinian militants in Gaza.

IDF uncovers 5 smuggling tunnels in southern Gaza
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 2/24/2008
Ground forces operating in southern Gaza arrest over 50 Palestinians suspected of involvement in terror activity, uncover tunnels used to smuggle weapons into Strip - IDF troops operating in the Dahaniya area in southern Gaza throughout Sunday uncovered five tunnels used for weapons smuggling and arrested some 50 Palestinians suspected of terror activity. The men have been detained for initial questioning. Forces came under fire on several instances and responded towards the gunmen. No injuries have been reported. Forces also detained some 50 Palestinians suspected of involvement in terror activity. Three Palestinians were killed and five more were wounded in an IDF strike on Saturday. The army said troops targeted a Palestinian cell in northern Gaza that was moments away from firing a Qassam rocket while Palestinian sources claimed the three men were unarmed civilians uninvolved in terror.

IDF to use ’all means’ to stop Gazans breaching border during mass march
Amos Harel Avi Issacharoffs and Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 2/25/2008
The Palestinians are planning to hold a mass rally today in the Gaza Strip to protest Israel’s economic sanctions against the Hamas-controlled area. As part of the demonstration, the protesters are scheduled to march toward the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. The Israel Defense Forces has bolstered its forces along the border with the Gaza Strip, fearing that the rally’s participants will try to break into Israel. Commanders have received orders to stop entry into Israel "by all means," including sniper fire against the legs of the demonstrators. The organizers of the demonstration are planning a "human chain" which will stretch along the main highway running north to south in the Strip. The head of the Popular Committee Against the Siege of Gaza, an independent member of the Palestinian parliament, Jamal al-Hudari, who is close to Hamas, said that the chain will...

A hot season in Gaza
Dr. Nasri Qomsiyya - Translated by Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center 2/24/2008
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently issued orders to the commanders of his army to prepare to launch a large-scale offensive in the Gaza Strip, but with "œself-restraint and calmness... without recklessness."  We can draw two conclusions from these statements: first, that the Israeli political and military leadership has become convinced that military action is necessary in the Gaza Strip; and second, that Israel wants to prepare carefully for this invasion, in order to avoid a defeat similar to its defeat in Lebanon in 2006. But Israeli government sources have leaked information revealing that the true aim of this military assault will be three-fold: stopping the flow of smuggled weapons through the Egyptian-Palestinian border; ending the firing of homemade shells from the Gaza Strip across the border into Israel; and third, eliminating the Hamas movement or at least "œpolitically neutralizing the movement".

Two arrested in YMCA bombing case, de facto Gaza Strip government claims
Ma’an News Agency 2/24/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Palestinian Interior Ministry affiliated with the Hamas-led de facto government announced on Sunday that police have arrested two people who were allegedly involved in the explosion at the library of the YMCA in Gaza City on 15 February. The interior ministry affirmed that all the group have been revealed and police is pursuing the rest of them. The Interior Ministry said that initial investigations suggest that the blast was politically motivated and intended to increase tensions between the Christian minority and the Hamas government at time when Christian-Hamas relations are strong. The ministry added that Christians in Palestine have been and will continue to be a component part of Palestinian society. The YMCA library, a popular facility that contained 8,000 books, was completely destroyed in the explosion.

Two Qassam members wounded in IOF artillery shelling
Palestinian Information Center 2/24/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Two members of the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas Movement, were wounded at dawn Sunday in an IOF artillery barrage of their position east of Shujaia suburb in Gaza city. Witnesses reported that an artillery shell fired from Nahal Oz at a group of fighters stationed in Shujaia wounded Jabr Hillis and Mohammed Al-Hajjaj. Medical sources said that Hillis’s wounds were light while Hajjaj’s injuries were serious and had to undergo an urgent surgery. The shelling spread panic in lines of citizens especially women and children who woke up on the sound of the powerful explosion. In another unrelated development, the Israeli prisons authority deferred the release of Maha Awad from Nablus city from [Feb 7 2008] till [June 7 2008] without any declared reason after she had already served her 45-month-sentence.

Al-Qassam Brigades fighters survive Israeli attack
Ma’an News Agency 2/24/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The military wing of Hamas, the Al-Qassam Brigades, said on Saturday evening that a group of their fighters survived an Israeli assassination attempt. The Al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement that Israeli artillery fired a shell towards the group at Ash-Shua’yya neighborhood in Gaza City, but the shell missed them, and some were slightly injured by shrapnel of the shell. [end]

Israeli forces raid Qabatiya
Ma’an News Agency 2/24/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – More than 30 Israeli military vehicles raided the northern West Bank town of Qabatiya, south of Jenin, on Sunday morning and ransacked several Palestinian homes. Snipers were deployed on roofs of tall buildings. Local sources told Ma’an’s reporter that the Israeli forces entered the town from the north at 2:00 am. No casualties or arrests have been reported. [end]

Israeli forces arrest two Palestinians in the West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 2/24/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Israeli military forces detained two Palestinians in the West Bank on Saturday night, Israeli sources said. The sources added that one of the arrestees was seized trying to smuggle ammunition through the Huwwara checkpoint south of Nablus. The other one, according to the Israeli sources, was arrested under the pretext of pelting Israeli vehicles with stones near Jenin. [end]

An-Nasser Salah Addin Brigades ’launch ten projectiles at Sderot’
Ma’an News Agency 2/24/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, the An-Nasser Salah Addin Brigades, claimed responsibility on Sunday afternoon for launching ten homemade projectiles at the Israeli town of Sderot, north of Gaza. The spokesperson of the An-Nasser Brigades told Ma’an via telephone that the shelling was part of a joint campaign with other Palestinian resistance factions. He also affirmed that the group who launched the projectiles had earlier survived Israeli artillery shelling. [end]

Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades claim attacks on Israeli targets
Ma’an News Agency 2/24/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades claimed responsibility on Saturday evening for launching two homemade projectiles at the Israeli town of Sderot, north of Gaza. They also said their fighters fired mortar shells at any Israeli missile launching pad near the area of Juhor Ad-Dik in southern Gaza Strip. They said in a statement that the shelling came in retaliation for the killing of PFLP fighter Muhammad Za’aneen. [end]

PM: We absolutely won’t fortify every building in Gaza area
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 2/24/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday during the weekly cabinet meeting that Israel would not undertake a fortification project to protect all Gaza-area homes from Qassam rocket attacks. Olmert stressed that Israel had "absolutely no intention of fortifying every building in the Gaza-area or in Sderot." Later in the meeting, the cabinet approved a previously proposed plan to build a ’safe room’ measuring 9 square meters in each residential building within 4. 5 kilometers from the Gaza border. The plan had already been approved by a special ministerial committee last week. The Cabinet allotted a NIS 327 million budget to the fortification project. The prime minister added that by the year 2010 Israel will be in possession of a multi-layer anti-missile defense system.

Qassam Brigades: We will return fire
Palestinian Information Center 2/24/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas Movement, on Sunday warned that it would continue targeting Israeli settlements near the Gaza Strip as long as Israeli occupation forces continued to target the Palestinian people. Abu Obaida, the Qassam spokesman, said in a statement published on Qassam website that the Sderot settlement north of Gaza would remain a "legitimate target for our Mujahideen" similar to other settlements in retaliation to the IOF crimes. "As long as our people are killed, their homes shelled and assassinated in their streets, cars and homes then the people of Sderot would never enjoy security or stability," he underscored. The Sderot mayor had offered Hamas a ten-year truce to stop the fall of locally made Palestinian resistance missiles on his settlement.

Mother battles for 26 years to know truth on missing son
Sylvie Briand, Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 2/25/2008
BEIRUT: Mariam Saidi spends her days creating clay busts of her beloved son who vanished without a trace 26 years ago, aged only 16, in the midst of the savage Civil War which tore through Lebanon. Sitting in her little apartment on the outskirts of Beirut, the mother of five clutches a faded photograph of Maher Kassir and recalls how he disappeared after becoming embroiled in the sectarian violence which blighted the country. Maher is only one of an estimated 17,000 people who vanished during the brutal 1975-90 conflict which claimed the lives of more than 150,000 at the hands of Lebanese militias or the Syrian and Israeli armies. For this 59-year-old Shiite, the Civil War has still not truly ended and all she can do now is sit in her home in the popular Sfeir district and pray that one day she will discover what happened to her boy.

UN-HABITAT wraps up two projects that helped thousands recover from 2006 war
Daily Star 2/25/2008
BEIRUT: UN-HABITAT is winding down two operations in Lebanon funded by the EU that have rebuilt and renovated thousands of homes hit in Israeli air raids during the summer 2006 war, a statement issued by the organization said on Friday. Some 3,640 families or about 18,200 individuals were the beneficiaries of the 1. 2 million-euro ($1. 78 million) projects in various areas of Beirut, South Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley. The European Union’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) was the sole funding source for the two projects. In the first project, costing approximately 700,000 euros, UN-HABITAT teamed up with the Municipality of Choueifat, the Social Affairs Ministry and local neighborhood committees. It closed in December 2008. The second project, which wound up February 15, and worth about 400,000 euros, was implemented by the Danish Refugee Council and other partners working in 30 municipalities in South Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley.

Hezbollah accuses Israel of seeking war
Middle East Online 2/24/2008
BEIRUT - Hezbollah accused Israel on Friday of trying to start a new war with the Lebanese resistance group by assassinating a top commander, and warned it would be a battle Tel Aviv would lose. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said last week’s killing of Imad Mughniyeh in a car bombing in Syria was a "pre-emptive" strike meant to set the stage for more assassinations of the Lebanon-based group’s top officials. "The Israelis are definitely threatening a war," Nasrallah told tens of thousands gathered in southern Beirut for a memorial for Mughniyeh and two other Hezbollah leaders killed in the 1980s and 1990s. "We consider Hajj Imad’s assassination as a pre-emptive operation, not merely an act of revenge," the Shiite cleric said, using a title of respect for the slain commander reserved for Muslims who complete a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

14 Fatah PLC members visit Bethlehem to investigate Israeli segregation policies
Ma’an News Agency 2/24/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Fourteen Fatah-affiliated Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) members visited the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Sunday to investigate Israel’s increasingly oppressive closure policies in the city, Munjid Jadu, a spokesperson for the Bethlehem governor’s office said. The delegation was headed by Azzam Al-Ahmad, speaker of the Fatah bloc in the PLC. After visiting the Fatah headquarters in Bethlehem, the delegation met with the governor of Bethlehem, Salah Ta’mary, and the directors of the security services municipal councils in Bethlehem district." The goal of the visit is to see firsthand the living conditions in the area in light of the Israeli oppressive measures," said Azzam Al-Ahmad. He argued that Israel is taking advantage of the rivalry between Hamas and Fatah in an "ugly" manner.

Israel says it will not attend Durban II conference
Neta Sela, YNetNews 2/24/2008
Foreign minister says Israel will not participate unless UN forum is not once again used as platform for anti-Semitism -Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni announced on Sunday evening that Israel will not participate in the ’Durban II’ conference in 2009. Speaking at the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem, the minister said Israel would not consider the UN summit legitimate unless it receives proof that the venue will not serve once again as a platform for anti-Semitic or anti-Israel activity. Israel and the United States walked out of the first Durban World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in 2001, citing hateful anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli rhetoric. The 2009 conference on global racism will once again be held in South Africa.

Egyptian writers protest at Israel’s Paris book fair invite
Middle East Online 2/24/2008
CAIRO - Around 15 Egyptian trade unions -- from doctors to writers -- issued a protest on Thursday over a decision to make Israel a guest of honour at a major Paris book fair next month. "This choice is unacceptable while Israel continues to breach human rights," president of the Arab and Egyptian writers’ unions Mohammad Salmawy said, referring to the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and its perceived inhuman policies there, including the latest “collective punishment” against the Gaza population. Thirty-nine Israeli writers have been invited to the March 14-19 book fair as part of the celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the creation of the Jewish state. A delegation of unionists delivered a note of protest on Sunday to French ambassador Philippe Coste, said Salmawy, who is also editor-in-chief of French language magazine Al-Ahram Hebdo.

Israel sees progress in peace talks
Al Jazeera 2/24/2008
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have agreed to build teams of government experts in an effort to boost peace talks, according to an Israeli official. The teams will examine issues including security, trade and water use, Arye Mekel, Israel’s foreign ministry spokesman, said on Sunday. He said Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister, and Ahmed Qureia, a former Palestinian prime minister, will focus on the final status issues of borders, Jerusalem’s future and Palestinian refugees. Saeb Erekat, Palestinian negotiator, did not comment on the teams except to say that "we [will] bring whatever experts are needed". Annapolis push - The final-status peace talks, the first in seven years, were launched by Ehud Olmert, Israel’s prime minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian...

Israel, Palestinians to start talks on civilian issues next week
Reuters, Ha’aretz 2/24/2008
After months of delay, Israel and the Palestinian Authority on Sunday set up teams of government experts to try to jumpstart U.S. -backed peace talks that critics say have yet to yield any progress." The teams will focus on a range of specific issues, from security to trade and water use, that would form part of any agreement on a Palestinian state," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel. Israel’s chief negotiator, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and her Palestinian counterpart, former prime minister Ahmed Quriea (Abu Ala), will continue to deal with the core issues of borders and the future of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees. Mekel said the experts, numbering approximately 10 from each side and drawn from various government ministries, would meet separately from Livni and Qureia.

Tzipi Livi: we might be obliged to cede part of Israel during the negotiations process
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center 2/24/2008
Israeli foreign minister, Tzibi Livni, stated yesterday that the aim of the Israeli state is guaranteeing a safe, democratic national homeland for every single " we might be obliged to cede a part of Israel during any negotiations process with the Palestinians", Livni told a Jerusalem conference. She added that there should be a strong response to what she termed ’terror’, wile Israel should continue peace negotiations with whom she termed ’ pragmatic’ Palestinians until significant decisions are taken. Israeli foreign minister, who is also head of the negotiating team, had earlier dismissed possibility for a Palestinian state soon, with Hamas holding control of the Gaza Strip. Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza continue to carry out resistance attacks against Israel, as the Israeli occupation authorities, have been placing the coastal region since Hamas has taken...

Millions of citizens worldwide turn lights off in solidarity with Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 2/24/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Within the events of the world day to break the siege marked on Saturday, tens of millions of citizens in 90 cities around the world participated in these events and turned the lights off for five minutes in solidarity with the besieged Gaza people. This step comes within events in solidarity with the Gaza Strip organized in more than 40 countries in coordination with the popular committee against the siege and aimed to send a message to the world about the oppressed Palestinian people in Gaza. For his part, MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head the popular committee against the siege, hailed advocates of freedom in these countries who participated in the world day to break the siege, adding that these blessed efforts will gain respect and appreciation of all Gaza people. Khudari called on all free men of the world and the Arab and Muslim peoples to continue their activities...

IMEMC: Dozens of protests held worldwide calling for an end to Gaza siege
Saed Bannoura, International Solidarity Movement 2/24/2008
International Actions Ramallah Region Bil’in Village In partnership with Popular Committee Against the Siege (PCAS), Friends of freedom and Justice- Bilin, and Gaza On My Mind, dozens of groups worldwide held protests in solidarity with the people of Gaza on Saturday February 23rd. Participating nations include France, UK, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Spain, Canada, USA, Russia, Romania, Scotland, Iralnd, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Morocco, Mauritania, South Africa, Algeria, Libya, Turkey, Norway, the Sudan, Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar,Lebanon,Syria, Egypt, Israel, West Bank and the Gaza strip. In Ramallah, in the West Bank, a candlelight vigil was held in which participants marched through the streets holding candles, ending in the central al-Manara square in downtown Ramallah.

Qatari PM to Beilin: We can broker Israel-Hamas cease-fire
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 2/25/2008
Qatar is willing to broker a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas, the Qatari prime minister, Sheikh Hamed bin Jassem al-Thani, told MK Yossi Beilin (Meretz) in Doha yesterday. Beilin, a former deputy foreign minister, met the Qatari at a conference for retired foreign ministers. Al-Thani also acts as his country’s foreign minister. "You are making a big mistake if you think you can reach an agreement with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas without including Hamas in the talks," said the Qatari premier, according to a report of the conversation received by Haaretz. Hamas, continued al-Thani, "must be taken into account," because even if talks do progress with Abbas, "he will not be able to sign an agreement without Hamas’s consent." The Qatari added that "the possibility of separating Hamas and Abbas is an illusion" and said that the Mecca Agreement must be revived.

Abbas welcomes Yemeni initiative to reconcile Palestinian factions
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 2/25/2008
RAMALLAH, Occupied West Bank: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday welcomed a Yemeni initiative aimed at healing the rift between his Fatah government and the Islamic Hamas movement that controls the Gaza Strip. The initiative calls for a return to the status quo that existed before Hamas took control of Gaza in mid-June last year, according to Yemen’s official Saba news agency. "President Mahmoud Abbas has welcomed the initiative of the Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh," Abbas’s office said in a statement. Abbas "is completely in favor of this friendly and brotherly initiative," it added. Hamas showed little enthusiasm for the proposal." The Hamas movement is absolutely prepared to discuss any effort to return Hamas and Fatah to dialogue but without prior conditions... and to explore all the issues in an open way at the negotiating table," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said.

Hamas welcomes Saleh’s new initiative to contain inter-Palestinian crisis
Palestinian Information Center 2/24/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Sami Khater, a member of the Hamas political bureau, welcomed on Sunday Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s resumed efforts to end the state of division in the Palestinian arena, affirming that the Yemeni president’s initiative affords a ground for building serious national dialogue able to contain the current crisis and to restore national unity. Yemeni sources had announced that Saleh resumed his mediation efforts between Hamas and Fatah through an initiative aimed at ending the inter-Palestinian division. In a statement received by the PIC, Khater underlined that Hamas always reiterated that it welcomes any Arab mediation to bridge the rift in the Palestinian arena on the basis of responsible, unconditional national dialogue and honest willingness to discuss all issues and points included on the agenda for the dialogue, expressing his reservations on delving into the details of the Yemeni initiative.

Mass March / Hamas’ win-win situation
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 2/25/2008
Israel’s concern about a possible scenario involving Hamas marching masses of civilians to the fence separating the Gaza Strip from the western Negev is not based on a vague hunch. It is founded on intimate knowledge of the intentions of the Islamist organization’s Gaza leadership, and it requires thorough and detailed preparations on the part of the Israel Defense Forces. Over the past few days, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and senior army officers have spent hours deliberating the possible scenarios. Additional troops have been deployed around the Strip, and the units on the ground have been given clear directives not to allow Palestinians to enter Israeli territory under any circumstances. Officials in the defense establishment believe Hamas views the prospect of marching civilians over the fence as a win-win situation.

Major-General Stern: We mustn’t pay everything for Shalit
Roi Mandel, YNetNews 2/24/2008
Major-General Stern: We mustn’t pay everything for Shalit Head of IDF personnel directorate tells high school students Israel must pay high price for kidnapped soldier’s release, but not ’anything - Major-General Elazar Stern, head of the IDF Personnel Directorate, said Sunday that Israelmust pay a high price for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit but "must not pay everything". Stern spoke during a meeting with high school students in Tel Aviv as part of a conference on "values and the importance of giving in the society" ahead of their planned enlistment to the IDF. The conference was attended by representatives of the IDF’s education corps and of the Givati Brigade serving in the Gaza vicinity. During the meeting, Stern was asked by the students about the efforts made to bring about the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, who is being held by Hamas in Gaza.

Dichter: 7,400 African refugees infiltrated Israel in past year
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 2/24/2008
In special discussion held at Prime Minister’s Office, internal security minister says IDF unsuccessful in blocking wave of infiltrators, calls for Egyptian help. Defense Minister Barak demands Israel speed up construction of fence on Egypt border - More than 7,400 refugees from African countries have infiltrated Israel throug Egyp over the past year, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter estimated Sunday during a special discussion initiated by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. During the discussion, it was decided to make a distinction between refugees in need of aid and infiltrators arriving in Israel to look for work, and to ask the Egyptian security forces for help in blocking the wave of infiltrators. According to Dichter, the IDF is unsuccessful in preventing the refugees from entering Israel, but there is need to make sure that each refugee discovered is returned to Egypt immediately.

Canada’s top court rules out ’Jerusalem, Israel’ in passports
Rhonda Spivak, Ha’aretz 2/25/2008
OTTAWA - A Canadian Jew has lost his court battle to have his birthplace, Jerusalem, recognized as part of Israel on his Canadian passport. The Supreme Court of Canada has refused to hear an appeal by Eliyahu Veffer, who wanted his passport to show that he was born in "Jerusalem, Israel," rather than "Jerusalem." Veffer appealed to the Supreme Court after lower courts ruled that Canada’s policy did not unreasonably violate his freedom of religion, nor did it unfairly discriminate against him. "With the exception of Jerusalem, Canada’s policy is that when a passport applicant is born in a city that is in disputed territory, the applicant is allowed to choose which country to include on his or her application. But for Jerusalem alone, Canada says you cannot put Israel, you cannot put Jordan, you cannot put anything," said David Matas, Veffer’s lawyer.

Livni: Israel will defend its sovereign borders
Ynet, YNetNews 2/24/2008
Livni: Israel will defend its sovereign borders - Foreign, defense ministers issue joint statement ahead of mass Hamas rally across Gaza on Monday, warn against possible attempt to breach Israeli border. Hamas insist they are not encouraging protestors to head towards security fence but say ’things may get out of hand’. Israel will defend its territory and prevent an infiltration of its sovereign borders," acting Prime Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Sunday in a joint statement issued evening before Hamas organized mass protest in the Gaza Strip. Livni assumed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s duties after the latter embarked for an official diplomatic visit to Japan. Tens of thousands of Palestinians will join hands on Monday to form a human chain across the Gaza in protest of the ongoing siege against the Hamas-ruled territory. At an expected 30 miles of length, the chain will stretch...

Israel plans to create false earthquake to destroy Aqsa foundations
Palestinian Information Center 2/24/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Ahmed Abu Halabiya, the head of the international Quds foundation "“ Gaza branch, warned that the Israeli occupation is intending to create an artificial earthquake in occupied Jerusalem through continuing to build tunnels under the city which would effect and destabilize the foundations of the Aqsa Mosque.   At the conclusion of a training course on Jerusalem organized by the foundation, Halabiya explained that the Zionist network of tunnels extends to the old Arab neighborhoods where the IOA established a tourist city under the ablution facility as well as a synagogue containing a model of the alleged temple, pointing out that the western wall between the Mathara and Silsela gates collapsed as a result of the ongoing Israeli excavations under the city.   The lawmaker elaborated that the IOF continues to withdraw the IDs of Jerusalemites where it has withdrawn 55,000...

For Georgia’s president, Ben-Gurion in the mirror
Edan Ring, Ha’aretz 2/25/2008
Mikheil Saakashvili is outwardly courting Israel - and thus the United States - at the expense of Iran and Russia. But Tbilisi might find it lonely without any friends next door. TBILISI - The president of Georgia stood for a long time shaking the hands of the dozens of people waiting in line to congratulate him. Well-groomed women with coiffed hair and skullcap-wearing men with white hair and gold watches passed by in a row, and some even stopped for a quick photo. For more than two hours earlier this month, President Mikheil Saakashvili attended the festive dinner in honor of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. His aides said that he had never devoted so much time to a delegation. At some point he even asked one of his bodyguards to stop the stream of well-wishers; with all due respect to the important guests from America, his stomach was grumbling.

Olmert’s Japan visit to focus on economy, Iran
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 2/24/2008
Prime minister to leave Sunday for series of diplomatic meetings in Tokyo, accompanied by senior economic figures. Convoy to be under tight security following warnings on Hizbullah’s plan to target Israeli officials following Mugniyah assassination - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will leave for Tokyo on Sunday afternoon for a series of meetings with senior Japanese officials. He will return to Israel on Friday, and will be replaced during his absence by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. The visit has been planned for several months now and was cancelled a number of times due to the security-diplomatic situation. Olmert is expected to meet with Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, as well as with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The prime minister’s convoy will be under particularly tight security due to the warnings on...

Israel to remember world Jewry as well
Danny Adino Ababa, YNetNews 2/24/2008
For first time in State’s history, Jews murdered in terror attacks abroad to be included in national Remembrance Day - For the first time in the State’s history, Jews murdered in terror attacks worldwide will be included in Israel’s Remembrance Day. The Jewish victims’ families, however, will not be eligible to compensation or benefits from the State. The Jewish Agency and Jewish communities across the world have been trying to convince Israel for many years now to include Jews murdered abroad in its Remembrance Day, but the State has so far refused. The gesture may have been decided on the occasion of Israel’s 60th anniversary. The Ministerial Committee for Ceremonies and Symbols is expected to approve this new policy on Monday. As of the coming Remembrance Day, Israel will also honor the memory of some 200 Jews murdered in acts of terror worldwide.

Rebel Catholics: Pope caved on prayer to convert Jews
Reuters, Ha’aretz 2/25/2008
Rebel Catholic traditionalists who champion the old Latin mass have accused Pope Benedict of caving in to "foreign pressures" by dropping negative comments about Jews from a rare prayer in the Church’s official language. The Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), which was expelled from the Church in 1988, denounced the change in a Good Friday prayer that it said was one of the oldest in Christianity, dating back to the third century. On Feb. 5, the Vatican revised the prayer, removing a reference to Jewish "blindness" over Christ and deleting a phrase asking God to "remove the veil from their hearts." Jews criticized the new text because it still says they should recognize Jesus Christ as the savior of all mankind. It asks that "all Israel may be saved" and keeps an underlying call to conversion that Jewish leaders had wanted omitted.

7 charged in attack on Israeli Embassy in Mauritania
Associated Press, YNetNews 2/24/2008
Court charges five Mauritanians, two Tunisians believed to be members of al-Qaeda-affiliated organization with involvement in attack on Israeli mission - Seven men believed to be Islamic extremists have been charged in the attack earlier this month on the Israeli Embassy in Mauritania, a judge said Sunday. Judge Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Talhata said the five Mauritanians and two Tunisians have been charged with ’’participating in an organization whose aim is to carry out terrorist acts. ’’ Although the seven have not been jailed, they are expected to check in daily to the nearest police station, he said. The men had earlier been arrested in connection with the Feb. 1 attack on the embassy and a neighboring disco, but were released two weeks later because of insufficient evidence.

Israeli Americans vote Clinton, but Obama wins global primary
Daphna Berman, Ha’aretz 2/25/2008
Senator Hillary Clinton won the Israel vote in the Democrats Abroad Global Primary, but was defeated in the international race by Senator Barack Obama, who captured the majority of the votes cast by American expatriates who voted in the Democratic Global Primary. The Democrats Abroad Global Primary was held earlier this month, between February 5 and 12. Balloting took place by mail, fax, and at voting centers in over 30 countries, including Israel. For the first time, voting was also available on the Internet through a secure online voting system. Ballots were cast from 164 countries and territories, from Antarctica to Zambia, according to Democrats Abroad statement. American citizens living outside the U.S. who joined Democrats Abroad, an official arm of the Democratic Party, were eligible to take part.

Nasrallah: Israel disappearance inevitable
Middle East Online 2/24/2008
BEIRUT - Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Friday heaped scorn on Israel saying that the Jewish state was bound to disappear and that its presence in the Middle East was only temporary. "The disappearance of Israel is inevitable, it is divine law," said Nasrallah at a ceremony to mourn the death of Hezbollah top commander Imad Mughnieh and other militants killed in attacks blamed on Israel. "The presence of Israel is but temporary and cannot go on in the region," Nasrallah added in comments transmitted via video link to thousands of Hezbollah supporters massed in southern Beirut. Mughnieh was killed in a car bombing in Damascus on February 12 in an attack Hezbollah has blamed on Israel. Although Israel welcomed his death, it has denied any involvement.

VIDEO - News / Israel braces for mass protest on border with Gaza
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 2/24/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 news roundup for February 24, 2008. Inthis edition: Israel braces for a mass protest on the border with the Gaza Strip. The cabinet approves a plan to build safe rooms in Sderot buildings. Fatah and Hamas supporters clash during a protest in the West Bank. [end]

Lieberman: Arab leaders incite against national service
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 2/24/2008
Yisrael Beiteinu MK Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday accused Israeli Arab leaders of rabidly inciting against Arabs undertaking national service. In response to the remarks, Balad MK Jamal Zahalka accused Lieberman of fascism and racism. The Knesset Education, Culture and Sports committee devoted Sunday’s session to the issue of national service for Arab citizens, which has been extensively debated in the Israeli Arab community since the launch of the initiative last summer. The government has been promoting national service as a civilian alternative to compulsory military service, from which Israeli Arabs are exempt, saying it will help young people both personally and socially. Many leaders of the minority group contend that granting legitimacy to such service will make Arab youths lose their sense of nationality.

All in favor / In the Galilee on the moon
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 2/25/2008
The recent announcement by Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) concerning his intention to build a new Arab city aroused a deep sense of deja vu in MK Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor), the current chair of the Knesset Interior Committee and the interior minister until two years ago. You can take Sheetrit’s announcement, Pines-Paz said at last week’s committee’s meeting, replace his name with Pines-Paz, "and get my announcement from two-and-a-half years ago. Since then nothing has happened." After 60 years in which the State of Israel has not built a single Arab city in the Galilee or the Triangle region, it is no wonder that MK Hana Sweid (Hadash) told the committee meeting that "maybe an Arab city will be built on the moon." During the Knesset plenum’s discussion of seven motions for the agenda regarding the new Arab city plan last week, Sheetrit responded by vowing that "the Arab city will not be built on the moon but rather in the Galilee..."

PLO political chief will not quit Fatah as reported
Ma’an News Agency 2/24/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The head of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Political Department, Farouq Al-Qaddoumi, on Sunday denied that he intends to quit the dominant Fatah party. He said news reports about him planning to leave Fatah were false and baseless. Qaddoumi told the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, "They attempted to defame us through the Arab intelligence agencies which are influenced by collaborators. We have to know that the PLO is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and so if the Palestinian Authority is not recognized at international level, the PLO is recognized by the UN and the PLO’s political department is an official department." As for the relations between him and the Palestinian president, Qaddoumi explained that they are politically at odds. The crux of that disagreement is that he supports resistance, while president...

Barak rejects PM call to ease rules of engagement at border
Barak Ravid, and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 2/24/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday spoke out against the prime minister’s instructions to relax Israel’s policy on attempted infiltrators to make it easier for border troops to open fire on people trying to cross into Israel illegally. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday had ordered the defense establishment to step up efforts to prevent the illegal infiltration of job-seeking Africans into Israel through the border with Egypt." Wake up," Olmert reprimanded Defense Ministry officials and Israel Defense Forces representatives, "We can no longer continue in this way, not stopping the border infiltrators," he said. Barak told ministers that the solution to the infiltration problem was to implement a policy of "warm return" - meaning that the infiltrators would be taken back to Egypt when caught by border troops.

De facto government in Gaza pays civil servants’ salaries
Ma’an News Agency 2/24/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Hamas-led Palestinian de facto government based in the Gaza Strip on Sunday paid the salaries of civil servants whose salaries the Ramallah-based caretaker government had stopped paying. The union of civil servants in the Gaza Strip called for its employees to go to the post office at Umar Al-Mukhtar street to receive their salaries. [end]

Should Omri Sharon be in jail?
Ze''ev Segal, Ha’aretz 2/25/2008
Two days from now, Omri Sharon is supposed to enter prison. He was tried and convicted of serious violations of the Party Funding Law during a primary for choosing the Likud’s prime ministerial candidate, as well as accompanying violations of falsifying corporate documents and perjury. Although Sharon is the first to be convicted of violating the Party Funding Law in this context, it is clear that every campaign to root out government corruption has to begin with a small step. The court was right when it described Sharon’s deeds as tainted by "political corruption" and as "distorting the wishes of the voter." So far, the Israeli justice system has proven its vitality against the person once dubbed "the CEO of the country," the son of a widely admired prime minister who is on his deathbed. However, as opposed to the arraignment and conviction, the sentence seems to border on judicial...

A gay kid? No problem
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 2/25/2008
Shas MK Nissim Zeev is doing a good job of maintaining his impressive record of attacks on gays, arguing about a month ago at the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee that Gay Pride parades"give legitimacy to the self-destruction of the State of Israel, of the Jewish people." He also compared the "danger" of gays to bird flu. Mike Hamel, head of the gay rights group the Aguda (the Association of GLBT in Israel), filed a complaint against Zeev with the Knesset’s Ethics Committee, which didn’t cause much of a stir." All members of the committee think that MK Zeev’s statement is on the extreme edge of violating the non-intervention that the committee has set," committee chairman MK Haim Oron (Meretz-Yahad) wrote to Hamel. It’s not clear if MK Shlomo Benizri knew about the Ethics Committee’s decision when he announced in the Knesset plenum that the earthquakes in...

Desirable scientist, ex pat, wants to come home. But an army jail looms
Fadi Eyadat, Ha’aretz 2/25/2008
Natasha Erdman might go to prison if she follows through with her initial intention of returning from Boston to Israel as part of the government’s program for attracting ex-Israeli academics living abroad. That’s because the 32-year-old ex-Israeli scientist is an army deserter. Erdman’s case presents a challenge for the state. On the one hand, it is seeking to repatriate as many ex-Israeli scientists as possible, as part of the government program to combat brain drain. On the other hand, the authorities are hesitant about letting bygones be bygones, out of the need to preserve the principle that all are equal before the law. The career that Erdman has made for herself in the United States speaks for itself, and for the possibility of the army dropping the charges that she might face for deserting the ranks of her army unit more than 10 years ago.

Anthrax tests on troops to be conducted "˜strictly under supervision"™
Aviram Zino, YNetNews 2/24/2008
Following deliberation on petition protesting IDF medical experimentation on soldiers, government announces Ministry of Health to supervise such experiments - State officials reported to the High Court of Justice on Sunday that all medical experiments on IDF soldiers are to be conducted only under strict Health Ministry supervision and approval. The State also reported to the court that the Health Ministry protocol for human experimentation is to be implemented in the IDF as standard command. This announcement was made following a petition brought to the court by the human rights group Physicians for Human Rights, in conjunction with several Israeli Defense Force soldiers, protesting medical experimentation on active duty soldiers in the IDF. Most prominently, petitioners protested the use of IDF soldiers in secret experiments testing Anthrax vaccines, codenamed "œOmer 2".

Deliberation on rabbinical court bill delayed
Attila Somfalvi and Neta Sela, YNetNews 2/24/2008
Labor seeks to impede bill proposed by social affairs minister looking to expand of rabbinical courts’ jurisdiction, but issue removed from government’s agenda at last minute - The discussion on a bill extending the rabbinical courts’ authorities was removed from the cabinet’s agenda Sunday. Labor Party ministers, led by Labor Party Chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, opposed a particular clause in the bill which seeks to expand the powers of the rabbinical courts in question. The controversial bill, proposed by Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog and Minister Ruhama Avraham-Balila, maintains that a couple which has signed a prenuptial agreement can contest one of the clauses contained therein in a rabbinical court, provided that both parties agree to this arrangement, or, conversely, one member of the divorcing couple is Jewish.

IDF soldier accidentally shot by fellow soldier, suffers serious wounds
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 2/24/2008
An Israel Defense forces soldier was seriously wounded Sunday when he was accidentally shot by a fellow soldier. The incident occurred at the Dotan military base in northern Israel. The soldier, serving in the Givati infantry regiment, suffered serious wounds to his back, after a fellow soldier accidentally shot him while cleaning his personal weapon. First aid was administered to the wounded soldier at the scene of the incident, and he was later evacuated to the Hillel Yaffe hospital in Hadera. The military police is looking into the details of the event. [end]

Historian recants theory that Jews killed Christian child in ritual murder
Adi Schwartz, Ha’aretz 2/25/2008
A Jewish historian over the weekend published an edited version of his book on the killing of a Christian child in the Italian city of Trento in 1475, denying that the Jews implicated in the murder were in any way involved. In the new edition, Bar-Ilan University Professor Ariel Toaff writes: "Jews were not involved in ritual murder, which was an entirely Christian stereotype." "There was no relationship whatsoever between the so-called ’ritual of blood’ and ritual infanticide," Toaff stated. Toaff caused controversy when he wrote in his 2007 book that he did not rule out the possibility that the murder was carried out by Jews who intended to use the youth’s blood in a Passover ritual. The remark sparked a huge backlash from Israeli and foreign historians who said his claims were unsubstantiated and demanded its immediate removal.

News in Brief II
Ha’aretz 2/25/2008
Ramot residents protest forest building plan Residents of the Ramot Alon neighborhood in Jerusalem yesterday embarked on a public campaign against building a residential neighborhood on Ramot forest. The new construction project, scheduled to include some 1,621 housing units, was planned by the Israel Lands Administration for the area near Ramot at the entry to Jerusalem. Ramot residents complained that if this project goes through, "we will lose the sole bit of green that is near the neighborhood," according to Ami Segev, who is in charge of Ramot Alon’s community administration, and is leading the campaign. (Jonathan Lis) The cabinet canceled a planned deliberation of a bill calling for expanded authority for rabbinic courts because Labor ministers opposed to it asked to initiate renewed discussion on the idea.

Gay and celibate: Orthodox rabbi’s difficult dilemma
Middle East Online 2/24/2008
It is not illegal to be actively homosexual in Israel, but that does not mean it is accepted -- especially within the country’s religious Orthodox community. When a member of that community is also gay, the dilemma is complete." Religion does not prohibit a man from loving another man," says R, a gay and an Orthodox rabbi who dares not give his name because he might be branded an abomination if he were found out. But there is a biblical injunction against a man "lying with a man as with a woman," as the saying goes. That ban, in the book of Leviticus, prescribes death for the wrongdoer. Therein lies a dilemma for R, who is discreetly seeking to change the mindset about homosexuals among religious Jews, whom he characterises as homophobic and ignorant. Even so R remains true to his religious faith, despite Israel decriminalising homosexuality in 1988.

There goes the neighborhood, courtesy of Leviev
Ranit Nahum-Halevy, Ha’aretz 2/25/2008
Nonsense, argues Africa Israel: The good people of Savyon are being petty, if not outright extortionist. Lev Leviev is making moves that would change the very character of Savyon, and the residents of the well-to-do community don’t like it one bit. They fear that Leviev’s development program, which he’s handling through his company Africa Israel, will - to be blunt - ruin the neighborhood. A group of residents who fear that Africa Israel’s plan to market 290 dunams, zoned for the establishment of 200 houses (not apartment buildings) will lower the value of their properties, not to mention their standard of living, are suing for compensation. Leviev and company managers take the allegations as an insult at best, and as extortion at worst. Savyon is considered to be one of Israel’s most affluent towns.

Oligarch partners hold-up bid for Oil Refineries
Lior Baron and Hadas Magen, Globes Online 2/24/2008
The Gov’t refuses to allow Israel Petrochemicals to bid for control in the refinery because its partners include several Russian oligarchs. Israel Petrochemical Enterprises Ltd. (TASE: PTCH) has suffered a setback in its bid to join the controlling core in Oil Refineries Ltd. (TASE: ORL). The government informed the company that it would not grant the company a control permit for the refineries as long as it maintained its partnership with Alder, a subsidiary of holding company Menatep controlled by former oligarchs Leonid Nevzlin, Michael Brudno, and Vladimir Dubov. In response to the government’s announcement, Alder controlling shareholder Nevzlin today stated that he would comply with any condition set by the appropriate state authorities in order for them to allow the deal to go through.

Alon USA reopens Texas refinery only four days after explosion
Ha’aretz 2/25/2008
Surprise: Alon USA reopens Texas refineryonly four days after explosion shuts it down - Alon USA calmed investors and customers on Friday, as it announced it was reopening its Big Springs, Texas refinery only four days after a large explosion injured four employees and shut it down. Standard & Poor’s had put Alon shares on its downgrade watchlist, and lowered its bond rating outlook after the explosion. The original estimate was for the refinery, which contributes 60% of Alon USA’s gross profits, to be shut down for two months. However, the news is not as rosy as it seems, since it will still take up to 60 days to renew production of gasoline, diesel fuel and asphalt at the refinery. (Michael Rochvarger) The Tourism Ministry is looking for foreign investors to build new hotels here in order to meet the growing demand for hotel rooms.

Olmert pulls for Beaufort, says ’it’s time Israel won an Oscar’
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 2/24/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ended his opening statement at the weekly cabinet meeting on an unusual note - saying he was pulling for Israel’s entry for best foreign film, Beaufort, at Sunday night’s Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood." The time has come for an Israeli movie to win the Oscar," he told his m inisters. "This movie definitely represents an ability, quality and depth that deserve recognition, and I wish for Yossi [Joseph] Cedar, the director, and all his actors to receive this recognition and that the wars of Israel will become topics for movies and not our daily reality." Beaufort, directed by U.S. -born Israeli Joseph Cedar, tells the story of a small group of Israel Defense Forces soldiers stationed in an outpost in the final days prior to the IDF withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000.

Gates’ good advice for Turkey ought to be applied across the Middle East
The Daily Star, Daily Star 2/25/2008
Editorial - US Defense Secretary Bob Gates had something very sensible to say on Sunday, warning his NATO ally Turkey that military action alone is not a solution to the problem of Kurdistan Workers Party rebels based in neighboring Iraq. He stressed that "dialogue" was an under-used tool in the conflict, and specified that this should be an ongoing process rather than an ad-hoc one employed exclusively during crises. "These economic and political measures are really important because after a certain point people become inured to military attacks," Gates said. "If you don’t blend them with these kinds of non-military initiatives then at a certain point the military efforts become less and less effective." As for the current Turkish campaign in Iraq, he said, "the shorter the better." It is precisely this kind of blunt advice that America’s allies in the volatile Middle East need to...

Iran warns of ’deserving’ response to UN resolution
AFP, YNetNews 2/24/2008
Foreign Ministry spokesman brushes off prospect of further sanctions over Tehran’s contested nuclear program, saying they could only cause ’slight problems’ for Islamic republic - Iran on Sunday warned it would hit back with a "deserving" response to new UN Security Council sanctions over its contested nuclear program, as Western powers stepped up efforts to punish Tehran. The UK, France and the US are hoping a new sanctions resolution could be passed in the coming week after the UN atomic watchdog said it still couldn’t confirm if the Iranian atomic drive was peaceful." In the case of the adoption of the resolution, we will make a deserving action. We will announce our decision at the right time based on the content of the resolution," foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said.


Gaza Diary: Sewage on our doorstep
Manal, a humanitarian worker working in partnership with Oxfam, Al Jazeera 2/24/2008
      Six months ago, a water pumping station - part of a system that serves 60 per cent of the population in Gaza - opened right next to my home. We were pleased to hear of this development as we previously had no other option but to dump our untreated sewage in water wells.
     This had posed an immense health hazard to all members of the community.
     So when we heard that our sewage would now be treated and we would no longer have to dump our waste near our homes, we were very relieved.
     The new station receives up to 40,000 cubic metres of waste water every day, and it should pump 120 cubic metres an hour through each of six water pumps.
     However, only three pumps were installed in the station because the Israeli closure and blockade since June 2007 had prevented the essential parts needed to build the remaining three from entering Gaza.

Israel ignores peace

Khaled Amayreh, Al-Ahram Weekly 2/21/2008
      Despite offers of a ceasefire from Hamas, Israel looks set on a full-blown attack on Gaza that could seriously backfire, writes in Ramallah Hamas has been sending definitive signals of its willingness to sign a dignified truce with Israel in return for its lifting its harsh blockade on the Gaza Strip as well as ending bloody and unrelenting Israeli attacks which wreak death and havoc on the coastal territory’s civilian inhabitants.
     Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas-led government in Gaza, said this week that the Islamic movement was "willing and ready to examine any serious proposal that would put an end to Israeli aggression." Similarly, Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha told reporters in Gaza earlier this week that Hamas welcomed third-party intervention to bring about a ceasefire.
     "The ball has always been in the Israeli court, not in our court. The resistance is not the cause, but the effect, of Israeli aggression. If Israel stops its crimes and lifts this oppressive blockade on our people, the resistance would stop," Taha said.

Either way, Israel loses

Dyab Abou Jahjah, Al-Ahram Weekly 2/21/2008
      The aftermath of Hizbullah’s certain response to the assassination of Mughniyah may lead to a regional war that would end the Zionist project, writes The swords are drawn Why was Mughniyah important?
     The assassination of Imad Mughniyah may mark the beginning of a new era in the region: an era of total confrontation with no boundaries and no taboos. The reaction of Hizbullah to the assassination of its military chief of staff was never going to be mild, and the Israelis knew that. They knew that the response would be painful and still they went for it. Did they believe that denying responsibility would confuse the resistance and prevent it from retaliating? Surely not; rather, they want the possibility of considering any Hizbullah strike as an unprovoked act of aggression.
     Hizbullah, however, is likely to respond using the same tactic; that is, hitting hard and not claiming responsibility. Indeed, any response to the assassination of Mughniyah can by no means be a classical response. The resistance cannot respond by launching missiles or firing on a tank. A proper response, from the perspective of the resistance, can only be to eliminate an Israeli personality of the same stature of Mughniyah. As Sayed Hassan Nasrallah pointed out in his latest speech, the rules of the game, which confined the Arab-Israeli confrontation to the spheres of Lebanese and occupied Palestinian territories, have been breached by the Israelis. In Nasrallah’s words, "If you want this kind of open war, then let it be an open war."

Israel’s Waning Tech Edge

Middle East Times - Editorial, MIFTAH 2/23/2008
      Israel has enjoyed three critical advantages in its 60-year confrontation with its Arab neighbors. First, it has enjoyed unity of command, while the Arabs were so often divided. Second, it has chosen its allies and arms suppliers well, from France in the 1950s and 1960s to the United States for the past 40 years. And most important of all, Israel has always enjoyed the technological edge that came from a modernized economy and world-class research and university base.
     Israelis are getting worried about all three. The country’s political divisions are widening, driven by tensions between various ethnic and religious groups. The American alliance, always a little shaky when the Arabs use their oil weapon with cunning, is now also under pressure from critiques of the role and influence of the pro-Israel lobby.
     But above all, Israelis are worried about their research base. A new report from Tel Aviv University’s Center for Economic Policy Research, with the title, "Brain-Drained," found that a quarter of all Israeli academics (24.9 percent) are now working in the United States.

The World must Act on Palestine Now

Gulf News - Editorial, MIFTAH 2/23/2008
      Palestinians have been living under Israeli occupation for over six decades. During that period, the geopolitical situation changed immensely. While some countries disintegrated, like the former USSR, others took the initiative and declared their independence. And they were recognised by their neighbouring states as well as the world’s more powerful nations. If only it were that easy for Palestinians. This is what Fatah official Yasser Abed Rabbo suggested two days ago when he said his people ought to declare a state if peace talks with Israel did not succeed. His comments are understandable, given the context in which they were made. Negotiations with the Jewish state have been going on for decades and have not brought the Palestinians any closer to a just and peaceful solution. But when the end result is known, there is little sense in taking that kind of action.
     To begin with, who is going to recognise an independent Palestinian state? It should be emphasised that there is an unequal relationship between the Palestinians and Israelis. That is, Israelis are physically occupying Palestinian land. The relationship is heavily skewed, so to suggest Palestinians should declare a state right now, like Kosovo, is not plausible. Nor is it viable. Would it address the fact that they are an occupied people? Would it solve the refugee problem? The illegal colony expansion and construction? The separation wall that has eaten into Palestinian land? And lastly, what would become of Occupied Jerusalem? As much as there is a desire to resolve these issues from the Palestinian camp, they remain the weaker side and therefore cannot afford to act unilaterally.

Something bad is happening to us

Editorial, Ha’aretz 2/25/2008
      Three years ago, the CBS television network broadcast photos of American soldiers abusing prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The horrifying pictures led to the trials of eight soldiers, dismissals and a storm of outrage in America. At the trial of one prison guard, who was sentenced to eight years in jail, a psychologist gave his evaluation: that the man was an entirely ordinary person, without any particular violent tendencies, who served as a guard for many years in civilian life but never behaved sadistically toward American prisoners. The situation of occupier and occupied, as opposed to that of citizen versus citizen, causes ordinary people to become violent and lose restraint. At Abu Ghraib, the trial found, there was institutionalized contempt at every level. The prison guards understood that "this is the way to behave here."
     Last night, the investigative television program "Fact" broadcast pictures of our own Abu Ghraib affair. It is doubtful whether a country that has grown used to 40 years of occupation, and the stories that accompany it, will be shocked. We have become accustomed to treating the Palestinians as inferior people. Generations come and go, and new soldiers abuse the residents of occupied Hebron in almost the same manner. Stories similar to those broadcast last night were exposed by the Breaking the Silence group three years ago. The saying "occupation corrupts" has become a slogan of the left instead of a warning signal to everyone.

Test Hamas’ desire for a Gaza solution

Hanne Foighel, Daily Star 2/25/2008
      When Israel and the Palestinian Authority - with the midwifery of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice - forged the Agreement of Movement and Access (AMA) in November 2005 enabling the operation of the Rafah border crossing, the central partner in the agreement was kept almost secret. All through the paragraphs of the agreement a mysterious "third party" is mentioned. Only literally at the bottom line the true identity was revealed, almost laconically: the European Union.
     In the current crisis at the Rafah border crossing, the Europeans are very openly a central player in not only trying to renew and reinstall the AMA but to forge a global agreement among all the stakeholders that will resolve the problems at all the Gaza borders and stop both Qassam rockets and Israeli incursions and targeted killings.
     In 2005 there were only two main parties to the agreement: Israel and the PA. Egypt and the Europeans agreed to the AMA but did not sign it. Since the breach of the Rafah border on January 23 it is clear that five stakeholders will have to be part of any future solution at Rafah that the United States brokers if agreement can be reached: Israel, the Abbas-led PA government in Ramallah, Egypt, the EU and Hamas.

Israel’s unjust justice system

Khalid Amayreh in Occupied East Jerusalem, Palestinian Information Center 2/22/2008
      Israel claims ad nauseam that it is a democratic state where the rule of law is supreme. However, upon a closer scrutiny, it is abundantly clear that Israel is a state where the law is utilized, often scandalously, to serve Jewish fascism, which what Israel is all about.
     Abraham Burg, the former Speaker of the Israeli Knesset noted that "today’s Israel rests on foundations of oppression and injustice."
     In his recent book, Defeating Hitler," Burg argues that Germany in the 1930s was ripe for fascism because of its social paranoia and its social philosophy. And both of these conditions, he says, are present in Israel.
     But if Israel is a Nazi state "in the making" or going through the penultimate step of becoming a fully-fledged Nazi entity, then its justice system, an inherent oxymoron in itself,  should be viewed as at least a quasi Nazi Justice system.

Presidential primaries / Obama’s top aide: I don’t believe in imposing peace

Shmuel Rosner Haaretz U.S. Correspondent, Ha’aretz 2/25/2008
      NEW YORK - The knock at the door of her hotel room on Friday halts the conversation for a moment. No big deal, just to check whether Samantha Power drank from the minibar. Is she that troubled? Power responds with a brief laugh. The minibar remains sealed. That does not mean that the attacks do not bother her. In the course of the 50-minute conversation she leaves no stone unturned.
     Knowing precisely what was written about her, what was quoted, she tries to refute, explain. Most of the things that were written are "misleading," she states. They are "a mark of desperation" on the part of those who do not want Senator Barack Obama as America’s next president, "And fear that is where he is now headed."
     The attacks on Obama in connection with Israel come in waves. There was the Zbigniew Brzezinski wave, against the former adviser to Jimmy Carter and current Obama supporter. Then came the Rob Malley wave, against the former adviser to Bill Clinton and current Obama supporter. Now the name of the game is Samantha Power. Not that the others have been forgotten; they’ll be back, but you need a little variety. And Power, in contrast to Brzezinski and Malley, plays a key role in Obama’s campaign. As one of his closest advisers, she is a far more significant target.

Poem: People of Palestine

Mamoon Alabbasi, Middle East Online 2/24/2008
      Like a slave in the American south
     They shall be liberated
     Even if it means another civil war
     Like a persecuted Jew
     They shall survive the genocide
     Even if takes another World War
     Like beloved yet betrayed Jesus
     They shall be back
     Even if it would be at the end of time
     Like the visionless cured by Jesus
     They shall regain their sight
     Even if the rest of the world remains blind...