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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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2 March 2008


Gaza deaths surpass 100; hundreds injured
Report, PCHR, Electronic Intifada 3/2/2008
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights condemns in the strongest possible terms the continuing Israeli Occupation Forces’ (IOF) open war on the civilians of the Gaza Strip. Air and land bombardments have killed 101 Palestinians since 27 February, and injured hundreds of others. The Centre also denounces the continued international silence over the carnage which has effectively encouraged the IOF to commit additional war crimes against Palestinian civilians and their property. The Centre warns that deaths and injuries will undoubtedly rise if the IOF operation continues, and reiterates its demand that the international community act immediately and effectively to put an end to these crimes, and to protect the lives of Palestinian civilians. During the last 24 hours, another 39 Palestinians were killed throughout the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian Health System in Gaza on brink of collapse; patients and injured denied access to medical care
Physicians for Human Rights, ReliefWeb 3/2/2008
1. Medical Crisis in Gaza Israeli military forces commenced widespread operations against Gaza on 27. 2. 08, following the death of an Israeli civilian in a college campus in the south of Israel, and damage caused by a Qassam rocket to a hospital campus in the town of Ashqelon. As a result of these operations 101 Palestinians (according to Palestinian counts), the majority of whom were civilians, have been killed. Two Israeli soldiers have also been killed. This number of casualties is the highest since the start of the AlAqsa Intifada in 2000. As early as Wednesday at 22:30, Israeli forces shelled the compound of the Ministry of Interior. As a result two civilian structures were severely damaged: the Palestinian Medical Relief Society office and dispensary, including its Mobile Clinic vehicle, and the offices of Palestinian human rights organization Al-Mezan.

Gaza hospitals on verge of collapse
Aviram Zino, YNetNews 3/2/2008
Gaza hospitals on verge of collapse Heavy weekend fighting in Gaza funnels hundreds of casualties to Strip’s medical facilities, which find themselves operating on a near tenfold overload Aviram Zino Published 03. 02. 08, 11:00 Israel News Medical sources in Gaza reported Sunday that some 200 people were injured over the weekend, in the heavy fire exchanges between IDF forces and Hamas resulting in the Strip’s hospitals arriving at the brink of collapse. The IDF reported some 70 fatalities in Gaza over the weekend, but the Palestinians are numbering them at 56 - either way, this was the highest number of casualties recorded over such a short period of time since Operation Defensive Shield in 2002"The situation is very hard. I have a new intensive-care patient coming in every half-an-hour," Dr.

14-year-old child killed, more than 45 injured in clashes with Israeli forces in Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 3/2/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – A 14-year-old child was shot dead and more than 45 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces in the Hebron district on Sunday. Mahmoud Muhamad Al-Masalmeh, from the town of Beit ’Awa south-west of Hebron, was shot in the heart by Israeli gunfire during the clashes west of the town of Beit ’Awa. Local sources told Ma’an that the violent confrontations continued in areas west of the town near the separation wall, and that Israeli forces fired on townspeople and protesters. A number of citizens were injured during the confrontation. In Hebron 21 people were injured during a march to demonstrate solidarity with the Gaza Strip. The protest started in front of the Al-Quds Open University centre in Hebron and moved on to the Bab Az-Zawiyah area where clashes erupted between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers.

Abbas suspends Israeli relations
Al Jazeera 3/2/2008
Mahmoud Abbas has formally suspended all contact with Israel over its continuing five-day offensive on Gaza that has killed more than 100 Palestinians. The European Union, the United Nations and the Catholic pope joined the Palestinian president on Sunday in demanding an immediate halt to the violence. Israel says the raids are self-defence, aimed at curbing homemade rockets being fired over the border from the Hamas-controlled territory, and has threatened to intensify its ground and air campaign, despite allegations it is using excessive force. Nine rockets slammed into southern Israel, wounding four people on Sunday, Israeli ambulance workers said. Two people, meanwhile, were killed by Israeli artillery shelling at the Jabaliya refugee camp, raising the number of Palestinians killed on Sunday to 10.

VIDEO - Ramon: Why aren’t we firing back?
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 3/2/2008
(VIDEO) Vice Premier Haim Ramon wants IDF to shoot back at launch sites even if they are located in civilian areas, says measure was approved during Lebanon War; justice minister to look into matter - VIDEO - To fire or not to fire? Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann will look into the legality of Israeli counter-fire on Palestinian targets located in the heart of population centers used as rocket launching sites. Friedmann will be examining the issue after Vice Premier Haim Ramon called to fire back on Palestinian rocket launchers even if they are located in civilian zones. IDF continues to hit Gaza. Video: Infolive. tv Speaking at Sunday morning’s government session, Ramon said: "Why don’t we shoot at the sources of the fire? According to international law, we are allowed to do it..."

Olmert: Don’t preach morals to Israel
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 3/2/2008
In cabinet meeting, prime minister slams international criticism leveled at Israel over Gaza operation, saying country has right to defend its citizens against rocket fire; Olmert vows military operation to continue - While Hamas and Palestinian Authority leaders have called on the international community to interfere and stop the escalation in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stressed Sunday that the military operation in the area to curb rocket attacks on Israel will continue." We shall act against the terrorist organizations and against those who launch the attacks, in accordance with the government’s decision," Olmert told the cabinet. "If anyone believes that by expanding the rocket range he will be able to reduce the strikes against the terror groups " he is gravely mistaken. Sunday’s cabinet session.

PM, defense chiefs to discuss Gaza; no policy change seen
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 3/3/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and top defense officials will meet today to discuss their next moves in Gaza, though the Israel Defense Forces policy is not expected to change. Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are said to support more actions like the one over the weekend. Israel yesterday began delivering messages to senior officials in the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations that it did not intend to reoccupy Gaza, though continued terror might give it no choice. The weekend’s events were the result of a decision Friday by Barak and Olmert to step up activity within the current policy. Olmert reportedly wants a three-pronged goal: stop the Qassam launches, bring down Hamas and move the peace process ahead. But it is unclear if any of these objectives can be achieved.

On Arab television, the images from Gaza are of dead women and children
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 3/3/2008
Samir, a 35-year-old Gazan journalist, maintains a calm tone in our daily phone calls. He usually even offers a joke at the expense of some Palestinian politician. But yesterday he sounded agitated. "Have you all gone mad? What happened to you," he asked. "It’s one thing if you only hit gunmen. But look at the pictures - they’re all children, women. What is this madness? You have turned insanity into an art form." A glance at the Arab television channels makes his comments clear. The images are horrific, so much so that Al Jazeera warned viewers about the content. A shell has hit the kitchen of the Asliyeh family in Jebel Al-Kashf, east of Jabalya. A TV crew bursts into the room, together with the family. When the dust clears we see a small, charred body. Only the hair identifies it as a little girl.

10 killed in Gaza brings death toll to 98 since Wednesday
Ma’an News Agency 3/2/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - The death toll in the Gaza Strip continued to rise on Sunday with 10 Palestinian citizens were killed in continued Israeli shelling and air raids in the northern Gaza Strip. Medical sources said the latest deaths occurred in an Israeli air strike on a group of resistance fighters near Al- Zemo in eastern Jabalia. Several people were also wounded. Ahmed Abu Warda also died on Sunday after being shot by Israeli forces him in his house. He was left to bleed to death after Israeli forces prevented ambulances from reaching him. Five people were killed early on Sunday morning in the northern Gaza Strip. Two bodies were also discovered in a house in the Yarmouk neighbourhood of Gaza City on Sunday. The house was hit by an Israeli airtsrike on Saturday evening. Eyewitnesses said Israeli aircraft attacked the office of deposed Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City early on Sunday morning.

Barak: wide-scale military operation in Gaza delayed
Ma’an News Agency 3/2/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak has accepted the opinions of Israeli military commanders to delay any wide-scale military operation against the Gaza Strip, Israeli sources said on Sunday. The head of the Israeli intelligence services believes that the conditions are not yet right for the implementation of such an operation." We can not talk publicly about the reasons that delay the implementation of the wide-scale operation. However, we are stepping up the pace and putting pressure on Hamas in the Gaza Strip," Barak said. In radio interviews with the Voice of Israel and Army Radio Barak said that "major Israeli ground operations in the Gaza Strip are real and concrete." He added that Israel was not keen to launch such an operation but they must maintain the utmost security for the Israeli population living in the vicinity of Gaza and Ashkelon and Sderot.

New Israeli strikes kill seven Palestinians in Gaza
Middle East Online 3/2/2008
GAZA CITY - New Israeli seven killed five Palestinians in the north of the n Gaza Strip early on Sunday as the military continued its massive blitz, medics said. Three people, including one civilian and one Hamas militant, were killed in two separate strikes early in the day in the north, where Israeli ground and air troops were operating for a second day, they said. Another two people were killed by gunfire near the northern town of Jabaliya, medics said. Later Sunday, two Palestinians were killed when an Israeli tank shell crashed into a house in Jabaliya, which has borne the brunt of the fighting. An Israeli army spokesman said that ground troops were continuing to operate in the north of Gaza. Two bodies of women were pulled out on Sunday from beneath the rubble of houses destroyed in Israeli strikes in Jabaliya the previous day, medics said.

Gazans angry and unbowed
Martin Patience, BBC Online 3/2/2008
The black marks on the roads leading into Gaza City were an indication of the earlier bloodshed. Palestinians had dragged tyres onto the road and set them alight. They hoped that the smokescreen would stop Israeli drones and Apache helicopters - both armed with rockets - from hitting their targets. But it was a futile gesture. On Saturday, at least 60 Palestinians were killed in one of the bloodiest days of fighting between Israelis and Palestinians in years. The death toll from Israeli air strikes included at least 25 civilians, including nine children and three women. The other fatalities were Palestinian militants - the majority of them from Hamas, the Islamic movement which controls Gaza. ’Hysterical’ action Israeli officials say that the military operation was designed...

VIDEO - News / IDF kills 10 Gazans, Palestinians fire 22 rockets in ongoing fighting
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 3/2/2008
In this edition: The Israel Defense Forces kills ten Palestinians in ongoing fighting in the Gaza Strip. The two IDF soldiers killed on Saturday are laid to rest. One Palestinian teen is killed and four Israelis are wounded as the violence spreads to the West Bank. Related articles: 10 Gazans killed, 4 troops hurt in ongoing IDF op 2 Israelis lightly wounded as 33 rockets slam in western Negev Hebron teen dies, 4 Israelis hurt as violence spreads to W. Bank [end]

2 Israelis lightly wounded as 33 rockets slam in western Negev
Avi Issacharoff and Mijal Grinbergs, Haaretz Service and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 3/2/2008
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired 33 rockets at southern Israel on Sunday, as the Israel Defense Forces continued its operation on the coastal territory. Two Israelis were lightly wounded in separate rocket attacks. Of the 33 rockets that hit Israel on Sunday, three were Grad-type Katyusha missiles and the rest were Qassams. An Israeli woman suffered light shrapnel wounds when a Katyusha slammed directly into a house in Ashkelon late Sunday afternoon. Another person on the scene was treated for shock. Earlier Sunday, an Israeli man was also wounded by shrapnel when a Qassam hit a western Negev factory, sparking a fire. Several other people were treated for shock. Meanwhile, at least 70 Palestinians have been killed since early Saturday in the IDF’s operation in Gaza.

Palestinian resistance brigades respond to the Israeli attacks on Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 3/2/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - Palestinian resistance factions on Sunday continued to fight against the Israeli incursion east of the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), launched mortar shells at forces stationed on Mount Al-Kashif east of Jabalia. They also claimed responsibility for targeting Israeli military north of Mount Al-Kashif. The Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, announced they had targeted two Israeli soldiers, one in the Al-Tofah neighborhood near the incursion area and another east of Khan Younis. Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades claimed responsibility for targeting Israeli settlements and the Israeli military post ofNahel ’Oz with four mortar shells.

Qassam hits Sderot home; Air Force bombs Gaza
Ynet reporters, YNetNews 3/2/2008
Four Israelis lightly hurt in Sderot, power outage reported in wake of Qassam barrage; several Gazans hurt in IDF strikes - Under fire in the south: Two Qassam rockets fired from the northern Gaza Strip Sunday evening hit Sderot. One rocket hit a home in the southern town, with nine residents suffering from anxiety in the wake of the attack. Meanwhile, a second rocket hit a transformer that subsequently caught fire, resulting in a power outage in the area. However, the electricity supply was resumed a short time later. So far Magen David Adom paramedics treated four lightly wounded residents and 12 people who suffered from anxiety, including Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal. Moyal heard the blast and told Ynet about what he saw when he arrived at the rocket’s landing site: "There was great panic there, and we saw a woman who fainted, so we took care of her.

Rocket attacks continue; Grads hit Ashkelon
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 3/2/2008
(VIDEO) Grad rocket hits hits home in southern city, Qassams land in Negav; earlier, some 25 rockets hit south - VIDEO- IDF operates in Gaza, but terrorists keep on firing: At least 3 Grad rocket fired from the Gaza Strip Sunday afternoon landed in Ashkelon, marking the first time the large southern city was hit today. An Israeli girl sustained light shrapnel wounds in the attack and was taken to hospital. One rocket hit a home and caused great damage while several people suffered from anxiety as a result of the latest barrage. Firefighters dispatched to the scene evacuated residents from the landing site and were working to disconnect energy sources in the area in an effort to prevent further damage. Troops continue to operate in Gaza. Video: Infolive. tv Also in the afternoon, the "Color Red" alert could be heard in Sderot and western Negev communities.

Hebron teen dies, 4 Israelis hurt as violence spreads to W. Bank
Avi Issacharoff Jonathan Lis and Agencies, Ha’aretz 3/2/2008
A 14-year-old Palestinian was shot dead by Israel Defense Forces in Hebron as the violence spilled over into the West Bank on Sunday in the wake of the escalating clashes between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Three IDF soldiers and an Israeli civilian were lightly wounded over the course of the day, as Palestinians throughout the West Bank protested violently against the ensuing IDF operations. The clashes began when several hundred Palestinian youths threw stones and at an Israeli checkpoint in Hebron’s city center. According to Israel Radio, the youths also threw explosive devices at Israeli cars. Fourteen-year-old Mahmoud Musalameh was shot in the chest, said Dr. Mohammed al-Zaru, from the Alia hospital in Hebron. The teen was apparently hit after cutting through the separation fence.

Youths clash with Israeli troops in protest march in Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 3/2/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Violent confrontations took place between stone-throwing youths and Israeli forces during a protest in the Bab Az-Zawiyah area of central Hebron on Sunday left several people injured. Dozens of students took part in the demonstration in Hebron condemning the continuous Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. Students gathered at Bab Az-Zawiyah in the city centre and threw stones at an Israeli military base at the entrance to Ash-Shuhada’ Street, Israeli soldiers responded by firing rubber bullets and sound bombs at the demonstrators. The governorate of Hebron is striking as a mark of solidarity with the people of the Gaza Strip. Many similar marches took place in the towns of Halhoul, Dura, Tarqumia and Yatta, where citizens reported that clashes erupted between youths and Israeli soldiers at the entrance of the town.

VIDEO - Palestinian teen killed by IDF near Hebron
Ynet reporters, YNetNews 3/2/2008
Clashes break out between soldiers and West Bank demonstrators protesting IDF’s Gaza offensive; 13-year-old boy killed during riot near Hebron, officer lightly wounded near Bethlehem - Solidarity rallies with Gaza in the West Bank have deteriorated into violent clashes with the IDF Sunday, as thousands of people took to streets to protest Israel’s operation in the Strip. One of the biggest rallies was held in Nablus, where more than 4,000 Palestinians protested at the town’s main square. Tensions high in Hebron. Video: Infolive. tv The protests were reminiscent of the first days of the current Intifada and the first Intifada and were held all across the West Bank, including the towns of Jenin, Tulkarem, and Hebron. Protestors carried Palestinian flags and photos of martyrs, while hurling stones at bottles at police and IDF forces.

Gaza death toll rising: 77 killed, including 19 children since Wed.
Report, Al Mezan, Electronic Intifada 3/1/2008
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) continued its attacks on Gaza today. IOF’s military operations have killed 47 Palestinians in Gaza today. Of those, 27 were civilians, including ten children and three women. Since Wednesday 27 February 2008, IOF killed at least 77 people and injured approximately 130. Al Mezan’s fieldworker in north Gaza reported that a few people who were injured during IOF’s incursion in the eastern parts of Jabalia are still in the streets until now. IOF prevents the area’s residents or ambulances from reaching them. At approximately 4:30pm today, 17-year-old Nirmeen Abu Saif was injured from IOF fire while she was inside her family house. The family called the ambulance service to collect her. Palestinian health officials contacted the Israeli army requesting security clearance for an ambulance to reach the area.

At least 70 dead as Israelis run wild in Gaza
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 3/3/2008
Israel kept up its deadly assault on the Gaza Strip on Sunday, prompting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to sever all contacts with the Jewish state in a blow to renewed peace talks. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed to continue the ground and air operation that has killed 70 Palestinians since Saturday and earned Israel international condemnation for disproportionate use of force. Even Israel’s closest ally, the US, called for a halt to the violence and a return to the negotiating table. Abbas suspended all contacts with Israel over the assault, which apart from killing dozens of militants has also claimed the lives of many civiliansm, including women and children. The announcement came just days before US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is to arrive in the region on her latest attempt to push forward the troubled peace negotiations revived just three months ago.

Defense Min.: Hamas has given us no choice but to continue Gaza op
Barak Ravid and Reuters, Ha’aretz 3/2/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Sunday that by allowing militants to continue firing rockets against innocent Israelis, Hamas has left the Israel Defense Forces with no choice but to operate in the Gaza Strip." The time has come for action. The military operations are continuing and Hamas bears the responsibility," Barak said, during a meeting with various defense officials including IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin. "We pulled out of Gaza, we tore Israelis from their homes, just for quiet in the communities in the Gaza envelope. These were painful concessions that we made for quiet, and Hamas has continued its fire without reason," he said at the opening of the meeting. "They are firing on innocent civilians and have left us no choice..."

Olmert: Israeli military operations in Gaza do not have specific timetable
Ma’an News Agency 3/2/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an - The Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip does not have a specific timetable, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Israeli cabinet on Sunday. He said that the military operation was aimed at eradicating missile launchers used by Palestinian resistance fighters to target Israeli towns. Olmert is due to meet with the heads of the security services later on Sunday to discuss the progress of the military operations in the coastal sector. [end]

Barak: Time for action, things will change
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 3/2/2008
Defense minister vows to ’change situation in Gaza’ during meeting with top security officials Sunday evening. Barak reiterates that Hamas will pay price for Gaza escalation, army wants to continue operating in Strip - "The time has come for actions," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Sunday during a meeting with IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin, and other senior security officials Barak said that Hamas’ ongoing attacks left Israel with no choice but to respond. "Hamas bears the responsibility and it will pay the price," he said." We disengaged from Gaza, we uprooted communities and Israelis from their homes just so there would be quiet for the Gaza vicinity towns "“ these are painful concessions that we have made for peace and Hamas continues its attacks," said Barak at the security meeting, held in his office.

Israeli internal security minister: after 5 days of fighting Israel still failing to stop Gaza rocket fire
Ma’an News Agency 3/2/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - After five days of fierce fighting in the Gaza Strip the Israeli army has not been able to achieve its objective of stopping Palestinian rocket fire at Israel, Israeli minister of internal security, Avi Dichter told the Israeli government on Sunday." We did not stop the firing of rockets and we did not stop the fire against us so what did we achieve? Nothing has changed for us, in the Gaza Strip? " he said angrily." Missile fire is greater than ever before and is now reaching Ashkelon and Netivot. Now 250,000 Israelis are under the threat of Palestinian rockets instead of 125,000," he added." Where were you over the last 7 years, while rockets fired at Sderot? " Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert retorted. Defence minister Ehud Barak said during the meeting that the goal of the operation in Gaza is to stop Palestinian rocket fire and the smuggling of weapons into the sector.

Local demonstrations flay Israel over Gaza onslaught
Daily Star 3/3/2008
Hundreds of Hizbullah supporters gathered Sunday at a border fence separating Lebanon and Israel to protest ongoing Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip that have killed nearly 70 Palestinians in two days and more than 100 in less than a week. Up to 1,000 supporters carrying Lebanese and Palestinian flags took part in the demonstration at the Fatima Gate border point in the Southern village of Kfar Kila across from Israeli outposts on the other side." Death to Israel," some of them shouted. Others carried banners that read in Arabic: "The blood of our sons in Palestinian will not be in vain." Nearly 70 Palestinian, roughly half of them civilians, were killed in two days of Israeli attacks against Gaza. At least 54 Palestinians were killed in fighting Saturday, the highest single-day death toll in more than seven years of violence.

East Jerusalem residents protest Gaza operation
Aviram Zino, YNetNews 3/2/2008
Palestinian residents of capital take to streets to demonstrate against IDF actions in Strip; business owners launch solidarity strike - The Palestinian residents of east Jerusalem launched a series of protest measures Sunday against the IDF’s operation in Gaza and the killing of civilians in the Strip. Several rallies were held in east Jerusalem and the Old City, and business owners launched a partial strike to express solidarity with the Strips’ residents. The Jerusalem District Police detained four Arab youngsters suspected of threatening business owners to shut down. Additionally, dozens of female Palestinian teens marched down Salah al-Din Street, carrying posters of "shahids." Palestinian students protest in Jenin (Photo: AFP) Protests were also held in the West Bank Sunday, and many took to the streets in Jenin to demonstrate following reports of mounting casualties in Gaza.

4 injured in Bethlehem demonstration against Gaza massacres
Ma’an News Agency 3/2/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - A huge public demonstation condemning the Israeli massacres in the Gaza Strip took place in Bethlehem on Sunday left four people injured when clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli soldiers. Hundreds of protesters were joined by the Governor of Bethlehem, Major General Salah At-Ta’mari and Mayor Victor Btarseh in the demonstration which started in Manger Square near the Church of the Nativity and proceeded to the United Nations headquarters in Bab Izqaq. The participants said they were sending a message to the world calling for an end to the Israeli massacres of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Mutaz Mezher, secretary of Bethlehem’s youth movement, called on Hamas to accept the legitimacy of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian National Authority in order to confront the Israeli aggressions on the Palestinian people.

Leftists: End Gaza war crimes
Roee Mandel, YNetNews 3/2/2008
Hundreds of leftist activists join calls made by Arab states, EU; Tel Aviv protestor says ’child-killing government has no moral right to exist’ - As Arab world slams Gaza op, Israeli leftists join in: Hundreds of left-wing activists demonstrated Sunday evening outside the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv to protest the IDF’s operation in Gaza. The demonstrators called on Israel’s leadership and army to end military operations in the Strip and talk to Hamas leaders instead. Participants in the rally held up signs reading "No despair Gaza, we’ll end the occupation" and "Don’t worry Ehud, Bush will be meeting you at The Hague." During the demonstration some protestors clashed with police officers who secured the scene of the rally and prevented the leftists from approaching the Defense Ministry’s gates.

Police halt Israeli Arab rally against Gaza op, arrest 2 at T.A. protest
Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 3/2/2008
Police Sunday broke up a demonstration in the Israel Arab village of Wadi Ara protesting the ongoing Israel Defense Forces offensive in Gaza. The rally was organized by Israeli Arab party Ra’am-Ta’al and was one of three such protests scheduled for Sunday. Later Sunday, Police arrested two protesters who participated in a demonstration outside IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv. The demonstration was organized by members of Hadash party and other leftist groups calling for the immediate cessation of IDF operations in the Gaza Strip. Other demonstrations against the killing of Palestinian civilians were scheduled to take place Sunday at central junctions in Israel, and in Arab towns. Arab parties are scheduled to hold a demonstration in Umm al-Fahm on Tuesday.

Don’t test our patience
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 3/3/2008
Early yesterday morning a rocket crashed into Silvio and Alba Geenberg’s living room, on Har Canaan Steet in Ashkelon, leaving a gaping hole in the roof. The couple, retirees in their 60s, are originally from Argentina." We came to Israel when everyone was talking about the dangers from Iraq," Silvio said. "At that time Ashkelon was the safest place in the country. Now a war is starting here and no one knows how it will end. My wife is afraid to return to the apartment. She can hardly speak," he added. Solino Saban, 58, was woken early yesterday morning by the sound of the rocket. At 5 A. M. he left his wife and children in the reinforced room and went out to look for where it landed. Saban says he believes the new warning system in the city will cause panic. "Some people are frightened and they don’t want to be scared all the time..."

Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories: Killings of civilians must cease
Amnesty International, ReliefWeb 3/2/2008
Israeli military air strikes and artillery attacks on the Gaza Strip are being carried out with reckless disregard for civilian life, Amnesty International said today. ’Israeli military attacks over the past few days have killed more than 75 Palestinians in Gaza, including at least 10 children, and other unarmed civilian bystanders not involved in the confrontations’ said Malcolm Smart, director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme. ’Israel has a legal obligation to protect the civilian population of Gaza. Such attacks are disproportionate and go beyond lawful measures which Israeli forces may take in response to rocket attacks by Palestinian armed groups." Amnesty International called again on Palestinian armed groups to immediately cease firing rockets at towns and villages in southern Israel.

PA halts peace talks with Israel over Gaza violence
Haaretz Staff and Agencies, Ha’aretz 3/3/2008
The Palestinian Authority leadership in the West Bank yesterday announced it was halting peace talks with Israel over raids by the Israel Defense Forces in the Gaza Strip. In the fighting, two IDF soldiers and at least 50 Palestinians - about half of them militants - were killed. Chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia notified Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of the decision yesterday evening. Earlier, Livni had vowed that the IDF would continue to operate against militants in Gaza, despite the PA’s threats to suspend negotiations." Even if the Palestinians suspend talks, it won’t influence in any way the decisions or operations Israel carries out to defend its citizens," she said. "From the beginning this was the basis of talks with the moderate elements in the Palestinian Authority.

Gov’t, IDF: Hamas wants lull in Gaza but only on its own terms
Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoffs, Ha’aretz 3/3/2008
The prevailing opinion in the government and Israel Defense Forces leadership on Sunday was that Hamas wants to end the current round of fighting with Israel. The Palestinians, it is thought, have suffered a nearly intolerable amount of casualties this past week and are looking for a way out of the hostilities. But it appears that Israel forgot to take into consideration Hamas’ military wing, whose operatives have continued to launch Qassam and Grad Katyusha rockets on the western and northern Negev. Sunday’s fighting was indeed more limited than the blood-drenched violence on Saturday. But some 40 rockets in one day, in addition to 12 Palestinian fatalities, cannot be considered a return to normal.

Saudi likens Israeli strikes to Nazi war crimes
Middle East Online 3/2/2008
RIYADH - Saudi Arabia on Sunday compared Israel’s deadly assault on the Gaza Strip to Nazi war crimes and urged a halt to its "mass killings" of Palestinians. "Saudi Arabia, which condemns the Israeli war crimes against the Palestinian people and the threats of Israeli officials to turn Gaza into an inferno, sees that Israel through its actions is copying the war crimes of the Nazis," an unidentified Saudi official told the official SPA news agency. Israel’s air and ground assault on Gaza militants has killed at least 70 Palestinians including children since early Saturday. "Saudi Arabia calls on the international community to... work to stop the Israeli war machine and prevent it from carrying out mass killings and destroying the rights and property of the Palestinian people," the official added. He appeared to be referring to remarks made by Israel’s Deputy Defence Minister...

EU condemns ’disproportionate’ use of force by Israel
Associated Press, YNetNews 3/2/2008
European Union issues official condemnation of IDF operation in Gaza, says it rejects collective punishment of Gazans, deeply worried about civilians’ suffering on both sides - The European Union on Sunday condemned what it called "disproportionate use of force" by the Israeli military in Gaza after dozens of Palestinians were killed in the highest single day toll since fighting erupted in 2000. In a statement, the EU urged Israel to halt activities that endanger civilians saying they were "contrary to international law." It also called for an immediate end to Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli territory and insisted that the peace process should not be interrupted. "The (EU) presidency condemns the recent disproportionate use of force by the Israeli Defense Forces against (the) Palestinian population in Gaza and...

U.S. calls for end to continued violence, return to peace talks
Shlomo Shamir, and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 3/2/2008
The United States called on Sunday for an end to clashes between Israel and the Palestinians and a resumption of peace negotiations after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas suspended talks with Israel." The violence needs to stop and the talks need to resume," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said. Meanwhile, a State Department spokesman said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has no plans to call off a meeting this week with A bbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Earlier, Abbas spoke to Rice and urged her to pressure Israel to stop the violence. "[Rice’s] plans remain intact," department spokesman Rob McInturff said, adding: "We’re encouraging Israel to exercise caution to avoid the loss of innocent life." The U.S. statement was one a of a growing number of international voices calling on Israel to cease its attacks on the Gaza Strip.

White House: Violence needs to stop
News agencies, YNetNews 3/2/2008
UN, EU slam Israeli response to Palestinian rocket attacks as ’disproportionate,’ White House calls for return to negotiating table as fighting rages on Israel’s southern front - The United States called on Sunday for an end to clashes between Israel and the Palestinians and a resumption of peace negotiations after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas suspended talks with Israel. "The violence needs to stop and the talks need to resume," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said. The ongoing IDF operation to counter the incessant rocket barrages against its southern towns has drawn a chorus of international condemnation. The EU, and UN accused Israel of using excessive force in Gaza. The UN Security Council urged Israelis and Palestinians ’’to immediately cease all acts of violence.

Egypt begins pumping gas to Israel despite Gaza siege
Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, Electronic Intifada 2/29/2008
CAIRO, 29 February (IPS) - On Monday, Egypt began pumping natural gas to Israel in accordance with an energy accord between Cairo and Tel Aviv. While the Egyptian government defends the move as being in the country’s best interest, opposition figures decry the notion of economic cooperation with Israel, especially in light of the latter’s ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip. "We oppose any agreement with this rapacious entity Israel," Essam al-Arian, a leading member of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, which controls a fifth of the seats in parliament, told IPS. Amid little fanfare, natural gas began flowing from the Egyptian coastal town of al-Arish to the Israeli port city of Ashkelon on 18 February. The gas, extracted from fields in Egypt’s northern Sinai Peninsula, was pumped through a recently completed, 100-kilometer submarine pipeline.

Egypt treating Gazans wounded in Israeli blitz
Middle East Online 3/2/2008
RAFAH, Egypt - Egypt allowed several Palestinians critically wounded during Israel’s blitz on the Gaza Strip to cross into its territory for treatment on Sunday, medics and witnesses said. Four ambulances carrying at least eight seriously wounded people entered Egypt through the Rafah border crossing, they said. An Egyptian security source said that around 25 ambulances were waiting at the border and that Egypt would take in "at least 150 wounded." The source said that more wounded were expected to arrive in the coming hours. All local hospitals have been put on alert to receive the wounded, Egypt’s official MENA agency quoted North Sinai Governor Ahmed Abdel Hamid as saying. Some 70 Palestinians, including children and other civilians, have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since early Saturday, with around 200 others wounded.

UN Security Council urges end of Gaza violence
Reuters, YNetNews 3/2/2008
Council convenes emergency meeting on escalation in Gaza, urges Israel, Palestinians to cease all violence. During session, UN Secretary General Ban slams rocket attacks from Gaza and Israel’s ’excessive use of force’ in Strip - The UN Security Council on Sunday urged Israel and Palestinian militants to cease all violence in Gaza after the UN Secretary-general condemned what he called Israel’s "excessive" use of force." Members of the Security Council are deeply concerned about the loss of civilian life in southern Israel and Gaza and condemn the escalation of violence," the council said in a statement read by Russian Ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, the council’s current president. "These events underscore the need for all parties to immediately cease all acts of violence," the statement said.

UN chief deplores Gaza assault
Al Jazeera 3/2/2008
Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, has condemned Israel for using "excessive" force in the Gaza Strip and demanded a halt to its offensive after troops killed at least 100 people over five days - more than 60 on Saturday alone. At least a third of those killed have been children, according to medical sources in Gaza. Addressing an emergency session of the security council in New York on Sunday, Ban also called on Palestinian fighters to stop firing rockets into Israel. Ban said: "While recognising Israel’s right to defend itself, I condemn the disproportionate and excessive use of force that has killed and injured so many civilians, including children... I call on Israel to cease such attacks." "I condemn Palestinian rocket attacks and call for the immediate cessation of such acts of terrorism."

Iranians join widening boycott of Paris book fair over tribute to Israel’s 60th anniversary
Daily Star 3/3/2008
TEHRAN: Iran will boycott this year’s Paris book fair in protest because Israel is being invited as guest of honor, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency said Saturday. Iran "has participated in previous fairs but this year, because of France’s decision, Iran is boycotting the fair," said Ali Alipour, an official at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. Iran does not recognize Israel and has sharpened its rhetoric against it during the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Islamic Republic is one of several Muslim and Arab countries and writers’ associations that have said they will stay away from the March 14-19 Paris book fair. Lebanon announced it would boycott the event on Wednesday, after organizers announced that 39 Israeli writers were being invited to mark the 60th anniversary of the Jewish state.

Iran leader calls on Muslims to hit Israel ’in face’ over Gaza op
Reuters, Ha’aretz 3/2/2008
Iran’s supreme leader on Sunday called on Muslims to rise up and their leaders to hit Israel "in the face with their nations’ anger" over the Israel Defense Forces’ offensive in Gaza that has killed more than 100 Palestinians in less than a week. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also blamed Iran’s other arch foe, the United States, for the violence in Gaza." It is with the support of that [the U.S. ] oppressive government that the Zionists [Israel] are committing these unforgivable sins with impudence," a statement read out on state television quoted him as saying. "The Islamic (people) must rise and the Islamic leaders must hit the occupying regime in the face with their nations’ anger," Khamenei’s statement said. Violent protests erupted in West Bank communities around Jerusalem, as Palestinians in Atarot,...

Military escalation against Gaza and Israeli threats of ’holocaust’
Palestinian National Initiative, Palestine Monitor 3/2/2008
Ramallah, 02/03/2008. Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi MP, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative declared today that "Israel is killing babies, children and entire families while the world remains silent. This very silence is enabling the Israeli crimes. It must stop." Dr. Barghouthi stated that the Israeli military has killed 104 Palestinians in Gaza since Wednesday 27 February and injured more than 300. Saturday alone, 66 Palestinians were killed and more than 180 injured in Israeli military attacks. Dr. Barghouthi insisted on the plight of Gaza’s children who are targeted without any restraint by Israel. 19 children have been killed and more than 25 injured since Wednesday. This death toll includes a 2-day-old baby, a 5-month-old baby, and many children younger than 12. Civilians have been killed in their homes, bombed by the Israeli military.

Israel allows humanitarian aid into Gaza
Associated Press, YNetNews 3/2/2008
Israel allows 62 trucks with medical supplies, food into Strip, as Egypt opens joint Rafah border, allows wounded Palestinian to cross over to hospitals - Israel allowed 62 trucks carrying medical supplies and humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip through Sufa Crossing, Sunday. The supplies included, among others, thousands of blood units and basic foods. Earlier Sunday, Egypt opened its only crossing with the Gaza Strip to receive wounded Palestinians, a day after 54 people were killed in Israel’s latest offensive against militants firing rockets from the territory, said a medical official. Egypt sent 27 ambulances to the Rafah Crossing to transfer 150-200 wounded Palestinians to hospitals in the Sinai Peninsula and other cities on the mainland, said Emad Kharboush, a medical official at el-Arish hospital near the Israeli border.

Arab MKs call for Palestinian unity in light of Gaza crisis
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 3/2/2008
Israeli Arab leaders convene emergency meeting to discuss escalation in Gaza, condemn Israel and call for unity among Palestinian factions. Mass rally planned for Tuesday in Umm al-Fahm - The Israeli Arab Higher Monitoring Committee convened for an emergency meeting Sunday to discuss the escalating violence between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza. The committee decided to draft a proposal for national unity between Hamas and Fatah in light of the situation, and plans to hold a mass rally in Umm al-Fahm Tuesday in protest of the operation in the Strip. Most of the Israeli Arab MKs attended the meeting, and stressed the importance of unity among the Palestinian factions in light of the fighting." Israel is using the rift between the Palestinian factions to continue the military operations and torpedo the peace process," Said Committee head Shawki Khatib.

Intelligence chief: Don’t forget Iran, Syria
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 3/2/2008
Major General Amos Yadlin says current quiet on other fronts should not mislead Israel, as country’s enemies watch Gaza developments before taking next steps - The latest round of violence in Gaza was ignited by the assassination of five Hamas military expertstrained in Iran, Syria and Lebanon, IDF Intelligence Chief Major General Amos Yadlin told cabinet ministers Sunday. Yadlin noted that the massive Qassam fire leveled at Israel by Palestinian terror groups began when Israel "prevented a quality terror attack" by assassinating the military experts. The intelligence chief also noted that Hamas is waging a broad-based strategic military campaign, and that Israel must consider all facets of this campaign in order to respond most effectively." œWith all the focus on the south of Israel right now, said Yadlin, we must not forget Iran, Hizbullah...

Al-Jazeera in Israel’s PR crosshairs
Neta Sela, YNetNews 3/2/2008
Israel’s Foreign Ministry instructing embassies, consulates around world to step up PR campaign in support of ’Operation Warm Winter’, show world incessant Qassam salvos leveled at Israel - Battle being fought on media front as well: Alongside IDF military operations, a worldwide PR effort is now being launched in support of "Operation Warm Winter." The diplomatic campaign aims to counter worldwide calls to end Israel’s Gaza offensive, as well as to bolster the IDF’s less than stellar international image. In that vane, Foreign Minister Livni and the executive director of the foreign minister’s office have sent an official manual of PR messages, as compiled at the National PR Forum meeting, to all 97 Israeli consulates and embassies abroad. Furthermore, the Foreign Ministry hopes to hold an official press conference whereupon Israel can officially state its position regarding the military campaign.

’Obama touched by land of Israel’
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 3/2/2008
Longtime Obama supporter Lee Rosenberg says presidential hopeful has always been strong supporter of Israel, recalls senator’s meaningful visit to Jewish State - WASHINGTON Presidential candidate Barack Obama has been working with and backed by prominent pro-Israeli Jews in the United States, including AIPAC treasurer Lee Rosenberg. Greenberg, who is currently an activist in Obama’s campaign, told Ynet in a special interview that the presidential hopeful has always been a strong supporter of Israel. Rosenberg, who spoke to Ynet in his capacity as an Obama activist and stressed that he was expressing his personal views only, said that his personal familiarity with Obama leaves no doubt as to the senator’s commitment to the Jewish state." He reached out to me to learn more about the issues affecting Israel and Middle East, and the US"“Israel relationship," Rosenberg said, referring to his early contacts with Obama.

Gov’t admits: Building debris still dumped in W. Bank
Zafrir Rinat, Ha’aretz 3/3/2008
The smuggling of debris from construction sites in Israel to the West Bank continues unabated despite a law banning it, Environmental Protection Minister Gideon Ezra admitted Friday. During the past year, there has been an increase in such smuggling to unauthorized dumping sites in the West Bank, in order to avoid the expense of disposing the debris at regulated dumps inside Israel. Only 15 percent of construction debris produced in Israel is dumped at authorized sites. Two months ago, the law was amended to permit soldiers to check trucks crossing roadblocks from Israel into the West Bank. Drivers carrying waste but lacking the proper permits may not cross into the West Bank. However, both the Environmental Protection Ministry and the Civil Administration in the West Bank admit they have been unable to stem the flow of illegal debris to dump sites beyond the Green Line.

Settlement reached on Heftsiba settlement project in Modi’in Illit
Shmuel Dekalo, Globes Online 3/2/2008
This is the second settlement reached on Heftsiba projects under construction. The Jerusalem District Court has approved a settlement to complete a residential project by collapsed contractor Heftsiba Ltd. in Modi’in Illit. The 428-unit project was the company’s largest. Heftsiba special receiver Adv. Yitzhak Molcho, Bank of Jerusalem (TASE: JBNK ), and the contractor, Solel Boneh Building and Infrastructure Ltd. filed the request to complete the project. Under the settlement, the buyers of the apartments will pay an additional NIS 27,500 on average for the apartments, amounting to about 1% of the apartments’ value) in order to finance part of Heftsiba’s debt related to the project. The Bank of Jerusalem, Solel Boneh, and Menorah Mivtachim Holdings Ltd. (TASE: MORA ) will finance the rest of the debt.

’Children admire Hamas fighters’
Ali Waked, YNetNews 3/2/2008
Gaza resident says Israeli offensive counterproductive, only unifying Palestinian public. PRC spokesman says Israel clearly losing, taunts IDF as ’too scared’ to enter Gaza - Gaza residents are facing a difficult reality as the IDF continues to pound the Strip, but a local resident says the intense military activity is unifying the Palestinians. Muhammad al-Nadi told Ynet that the Palestinians have "nothing to lose... The Israelis are the ones who escalated the situation when they killed given Hamas men this past Wednesday," he says. "Now we want more and more attacks, and more and more Qassams. You should hear how the kids speak about Hamas and Jihad fighters adoringly." Since Friday we stay in the house and are not going to the market or anywhere else," al-Nadi says.

Ballistics expert supports verdict in al-Dura libel case: Gaza child wasn’t killed by Israeli gunfire
Adi Schwartz, Ha’aretz 3/3/2008
A report presented to a French court last week by an independent ballistics expert maintains that the death of Mohammed al-Dura, a Palestinian child seen being shot in the Gaza Strip during the first day of the intifada in September 2000, could not have been the result of Israeli gunfire, corroborating claims that the shocking footage was doctored. The ballistics expert, Jean-Claude Schlinger, presented his conclusions after reviewing the footage, which shows Dura and his father cowering by a wall after being caught in the crossfire between Palestinian gunmen and Israel Defense Forces soldiers at the Netzarim junction. The case revolves around a libel suit brought by the France 2 television channel and its Middle East correspondent, Charles Enderlin, against Phillipe Karsenty.

UN secretary general’s sixth report on the implementation of Resolution 1701
Daily Star 3/3/2008
Report This is the sixth report of the secretary general on the implementation of Resolution 1701 (2006). It provides a comprehensive assessment of the steps taken to implement 1701 since the last report of the secretary general was issued on 30 October 2007 and highlights both continuing progress on the implementation of this resolution and areas of concern that continue to impede the establishment of a permanent cease-fire and a long-term solution between the parties. 2. I am pleased to report that both the governments of Lebanon and Israel express continued commitment to the implementation of 1701. Only the enduring commitment of the parties to all the provisions of the resolution, without selectivity, would create the required basis for a permanent cease-fire and a long-term solution. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) have...

Barak to hold meeting on legality of striking civilian areas in Gaza
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 3/2/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak will meet Monday with legal experts in the military and government to examine whether the Israel Defense Forces can legally target populated areas from which Qassam rockets are being fired at the western Negev. Barak asked Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann at Sunday to determine the legality of these attacks. The defense minister will discuss the issue Monday with Friedmann, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, Military Prosecutor Brig. -Gen. Avihai Mandelblit, the Defense Ministry’s legal adviser and various elements from within the Foreign Ministry. During Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Vice Premier Haim Ramon asked why the IDF was not directing massive fire at the areas from which Qassams are being launched. "According to international law, you can do that," he said.

Israel buys supply of pills to protect against nuclear radiation
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 3/2/2008
Defense establishment officials reported on Sunday that Israel has recently purchased a new supply of "Logol" pills against nuclear radiation. The pills were first experimentally distributed in 2004 to residents of Arad and Yavneh in southern Israel, and were met with strong opposition from the mayors of these Negev towns. The initiative to repurchase the pills was reported by officials on Sunday as part of a visiting delegation of Knesset Members to the Soreq Nuclear Research Center, located southeast of Dimona. However, the defense establishment is still mulling whether to redistribute the pills to residents of communities located near the nuclear reactor or store them away for the time being. Dr. Dan Berkovits, from the Soreq Nuclear Research Center, said during Sunday’s visit to the site that an electrical particle accelerator will be...

Employers take NIS 1 billion from foreign workers every year
Haim Bior, Ha’aretz 3/3/2008
A billion shekels a year, that is about how much black market money employers take every year from legal foreign workers. According to a study by Kav LaOved (Workers Hotline), this amount is stolen from foreigners working in Israel legally. Most of this money goes to the companies that broker the workers? employment, such as manpower and home-nursing-care firms, says Hannah Zohar, Kav LaOveds director. These firms keep about 65% of the money workers pay while still in their home countries in order to arrange employment in Israel. The next largest share of the billion shekels goes to employers who make money by trading in the permits for employing foreigners. When a company no longer needs its workers, it charges them a fee for transferring them to another employer, even though sometimes the firms never legally change the workers? status.

Gaydamak seeks investigation of police
Hadas Magen, Globes Online 3/2/2008
The Russian billionaire is calling for a committee to investigate the conduct of certain senior police officers. Aracadi Gaydamak today visited the offices of the State Comptroller in Tel Aviv where he filed a complaint against a "group of officers in the Israel Police." Gaydamak is calling for the establishment of a government committee to investigate the actions of these officers. Gaydamak said he had evidence which, he claimed, showed that the officers had "allowed various irregularities to take place, in addition to numerous violations of the law." Examples listed in the file Gaydamak submitted to the State Controller include, "using their position in order to exploit their legally prescribed authority to advance their own interests, violating citizens’ rights, collaborating with extortionists, and using their authority in a manner that cost the country substantial losses.

Expats’ Kids enlisting in IDF at rising rate
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 3/3/2008
Private Asaf Aris left Israel at the age of 2 and moved with his parents to Michigan, in the United States. On visits to relatives in Israel he would see soldiers standing at hitchhiking posts, and made up his mind to emulate them. Now he is part of an encouraging trend presented by the Defense Ministry: The number of children of expatriate Israelis who return to Israel to serve in the Israel Defense Forces is rising constantly. Moreover, 70 percent of these young people choose to remain in Israel after their discharge, and 30 percent of their parents return in their children’s wake. Defense Ministry data also show that 90 percent of the children of expatriate Israelis volunteer for service in combat units, and that the latest pilot’s course includes a man and a woman who immigrated from the U.

Shekel weakens as Gaza violence continues
Amir Keidan, Globes Online 3/2/2008
The shekel was down last week, which was marked by a surprise 50 basis point rate cut. The shekel-dollar exchange rate is rising 0. 5% in options trading, reaching NIS 3. 653/$. With inter-bank trading closed on Sunday, shekel options are reflecting violence in Gaza as much as local economic events. The representative rate was set on Friday at NIS 3. 635/$, with the shekel weakening 1. 2% over the course of last week, which was marked by a surprising 50 basis point cut in the Bank of Israel’s interest rate. The shekel has nonetheless risen 5. 5% against the dollar in the first two months of 2008. Bank Hapoalim (LSE: BKHD ; TASE: POLI ) analysts pointed out that foreign investment - a major component of the shekel’s recent strength - is expected to continue, as the outlook for Israel’s economy continues to be strong, especially when compared with other economies.

Israeli airlines worry that Gaza war will ruin Pesach travel
Zohar Blumenkrantz, Ha’aretz 3/2/2008
Executives working for foreign airlines in Israel are worried that a major military operation in Gaza could have a negative impact on travel to and from Israel during the lucrative Pesach holiday season next month. "So far there have been no reservation cancellations, but the market is very anxious and tour organizers abroad are extremely interested in the events in the South," one industry source told Haaretz on Sunday. Some 300,000 Israelis are expected to travel overseas for Pesach, a projected increase of 30 percent over last year. Incoming tourism is promising a similar increase even now. Foreign airlines have added incoming and outgoing flights, and also special flights, mainly right before and after the holiday. Local airlines El Al, Arkia and Israir have also beefed up holiday flights to Western Europe, the United States and Far East.


Not about rockets
Fares Akram, Ha’aretz 3/3/2008
      I started to become convinced that the current Israeli army operation in Gaza Strip is not aimed primarily at lessening the barrages of homemade rockets that the armed Palestinian groups fire into southern Israel and the Western Negev. Yet, the offensive seems to be part of many previous incursions and airstrikes, which so far have failed to repress Palestinian rocket squads.
     On Wednesday morning, the Israeli air force assassinated five members of Hamas? military wing in the southern Gaza Strip. Their van had been heading away from the border area, where most of the rocket attacks take place. During the past week, Hamas and Islamic Jihad - the two Islamist groups with the most advanced rockets - had not taken credit for any rocket attacks.
     When the five Hamas fighters were killed, Israel should have known that this incident would provoke Hamas into resuming its rocket attacks against Israel. The same was expected of Islamic Jihad, which was waiting to go back to the rocket attacks after ceasing them unwillingly.

The Gaza genocide

Laila El-Haddad writing from the US, Electronic Intifada 3/2/2008
      We celebrated Yousuf’s fourth birthday today. We ate cake. And we counted the bodies. We sang happy birthday. And my mother sobbed. We watched the fighter jets roar voraciously on our television screen, pounding street after street, then heard a train screech outside, and shuddered. Yousuf tore open his presents, and asked my mother to make a paper zanana, a drone, for him with origami; we were torn open from the inside, engulfed by a feeling of impotence and helplessness, fear and anger and grief, despondence and confusion.
     "We are dying like chickens" said my husband Yassine last night as we contemplated the media’s coverage of the events of the past few days.
     Even The Guardian (UK), in a newswire-based piece, mentioned the Palestinian dead, including the children, in the fourth to last paragraph.
     In fact, a study by If Americans Knew found that the Associated Press Newswire (AP) coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict significantly distorts reality, essentially over-reporting the number of Israelis killed in the conflict and underreporting the number of Palestinians killed. The study found that AP reported on Israeli children’s deaths more often than the deaths occurred, but failed to cover 85 percent of Palestinian children killed. A few years ago, they found that The New York Times was seven times more likely to comment on an Israeli child’s death than that of a Palestinian.

Letter from Gaza: Sorry, Amjad, that we could do nothing to help you

Amjad Al Shawa, Director of the Palestinian Network of NGOs, Palestine Monitor 3/2/2008
      Dear friends all over the world,
     I’m calling on you in this moment while the Gaza Strip where I’m living is under attack by the Israeli occupation forces. They are showing no mercy; killing children, our beautiful youth and women. Sixty Palestinians were killed since Wednesday, the youngest of whom was six months old. Tens have been injured.
     One of the people killed by an Israeli air strike was one of the PNGO staff in Gaza. Amjad Almrety was 26 years old. That young man was smiling all of the time, and was energetic and looking for the future with big dreams. There are no words to express our sad feelings towards our loss of Amjad, and of course the loss of all of the others
     Sorry, Amjad, that we could do nothing to help you. Our hands are cuffed with nothing to do except just carrying some hope that people who hold the value of justice will act to end the Israeli genocidal crimes against our people.
     This morning another three children were killed while they were in their beds. What kind of crime did they commit, what kind of guilt did they possess, to be killed in such a way?

Ma’an’s Editor in Chief - Israeli home front showing signs of rejecting leaders’ belligerent tactics

Ma''an''s Editor-in-Chief, Nasser Laham, Ma’an News Agency 3/2/2008
      After five days of tacit support for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defence Minister Ehud Barak’s new war in the Gaza Strip the Israeli home front is beginning to show signs that they are against their leaders’ belligerent tactics.
     The Israeli home front will not wait for Olmert like they did in the July 2006 war in Lebanon. Nor will they wait until Palestinian rockets hit Ashkelon.
     I believe that the Israeli public "revolution" against Olmert’s government started last Tuesday when Israelis staged demonstrations in Sderot and Ashkelon that spread to Tel Aviv. Israeli television broadcast the demonstration and the Hebrew newspapers published pictures of Jewish children, cowering under the threat of missile attack.
     Conjuring up reminders of Hitler’s persecution of the Jewish people, the image of a Jewish child crying in fear is too much for the Israeli public to take. When confronted with such images the Israeli home front will agree to any war.

Good Morning, Hamas

Uri Avnery, Middle East Online 3/2/2008
      We Israelis live in a world of ghosts and monsters. We do not conduct a war against living persons and real organizations, but against devils and demons which are out to destroy us. It is a war between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness, between absolute good and absolute evil. That’s how it looks to us, and that’s how it looks to the other side, too.
     Let’s try to bring this war down from virtual spheres to the solid ground of reality. There can be no reasonable policy, nor even rational discussion, if we do not escape from the realm of horrors and nightmares.
     After the Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections, Gush Shalom said that we must speak with them. Here are some of the questions that were showered on me from all sides:
     Do you like Hamas?
     Not at all. I have very strong secular convictionI. I oppose any ideology that mixes politics with religion - whether Jewish, Muslim or Christian, in Israel, the Arab world or America.

Kosovo and Palestine: Why Different Standards?

Walid Awad, MIFTAH 3/1/2008
      In July 2000, President Clinton, at the insistence of Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Barak, invited President Arafat and Barak to Camp David. In less than two weeks of intensive negotiations, Clinton expected Arafat and Barak to arrive at a solution to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Incomplete progress was achieved at Camp David, but an agreement was not.
     Follow-up negotiations resumed in the months ahead, and by January 2001 an agreement was reached, but as far as Clinton and Barak were concerned, it was too late. Clinton evacuated the White House, and Barak lost the elections in Israel. Ariel Sharon, who worked relentlessly to sabotage all peacemaking efforts between Israel and the PLO after Oslo, assumed office in Israel and the intifada against the Israeli occupation intensified. Much blood has been spilled since then, but two more nonofficial “peace” agreements between Israelis and Palestinians were worked out — the Geneva agreement between Yaser Abed Rabbo and Yossi Beilin, and another one between Sari Nussiebeh, currently head of Al-Quds University, and Ami Ayalon, a minister in the current Israeli government. Outlines, frameworks, and parameters, call them what you wish, for solving the conflict were reached between the sides after Oslo, but never formally or officially adopted or signed.

Salata Baladi or Afrangi?

Joseph Massad, Al-Ahram Weekly 2/28/2008
      Nadia Kamel’s documentary on the Jews of Egypt, to be screened this week in Cairo, has won many international awards.
     While Zionism’s atrocities against the Palestinian people have not stopped for the last century, Israel’s atrocities against other Arabs in the last sixty years have remained consistent, albeit intermittent. This not only includes Israel’s bombings and killings of Lebanese, Syrians, Jordanians, Tunisians, Egyptians, and Libyans, but also its terrorism against Arab Jews, specifically Iraqi Jews whose exodus to Israel it brought about in the early 1950s after a series of bombings in Baghdad, and the tragedy it caused to Egyptian Jews, to say nothing of Yemeni and Moroccan Jews whose lives Zionism successfully interrupted and transformed. While Zionism’s activities in Egypt among Egyptian Jews bore little fruit before or after World War II, Zionism’s insistence that it speaks and acts in the name of all Jews have put Jewish communities inside and outside Palestine in a precarious position.
     The situation would become more dangerous after the establishment of Israel in 1948. However, it was not until the uncovering of the Israeli espionage ring that committed terrorist acts in Egypt in 1954 (known as the Lavon Affair) and Israel’s subsequent invasion of Egypt in 1956 that Israel would make the lives of Egyptian Jews unlivable and their continuation as a community virtually impossible. This is not to say that Arab nationalism was not guilty of accepting Zionism’s and Israel’s false claims that they spoke for all Jews, including for Arab Jews, or that the Egyptian government at the time could not have done more to protect Egyptian Jews from popular anger and from the harassment of its own agencies, it is rather to emphasise that the sizeable portion of the responsibility for the tragic departure of Egyptian Jews between 1954 and 1957 (which is when the vast majority of them left) should be laid down on the doorstep of Israel

What are the Americans saying, and to whom are they saying it?

Editorial, Daily Star 3/3/2008
      The deployment of the USS Cole and two other warships to waters near Lebanon is just the latest in a long line of misguided moves by US President George W. Bush. Given the painful history associated with US naval shelling of Lebanon - and the attacks on American targets which that shelling helped to make inevitable - sending ships now can only undermine the stability that Washington claims to support. And the manner in which the move was made public, by an unidentified official who offered only a vague explanation of its purpose, has served only to intensify suspicions.
     The movements of US naval assets in this part of the world are not a secret for very long: Several players - including the Egyptians, the Israelis, the Syrians and even the Russians - employ a variety of means to keep tabs on the superpower as it keeps tabs on them and other actors. What makes this deployment different - and highly provocative - is that the Americans made a point of announcing it in the way they did. They apparently intended to "send a message," but no one knows what it contains or who the recipient should be. This can only cause several state and non-state powers to assume the worst about US intentions and prepare themselves accordingly.

’Restraint’ is deceitful, and ’forbearance’ is vain

Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 3/3/2008
      Even yesterday evening, after the IDF already had killed about 50 Palestinians, at least half of them unarmed, and including quite a number of women and children, Jerusalem continued to claim, "At present there will be no major ground operation." It’s incredible: The IDF penetrates the heart of a crowded refugee camp, kills in a terrifyingly wholesale manner, with horrible bloodshed, and Israel continues to disseminate the lie of restraint. Two days earlier Israel killed more Palestinians than have been killed by all the Qassams over the past seven years. Among the dead were four children and an infant. The next day Israel killed another five boys. And who is the victim? Israel. And who is cruel? The Palestinians.
     This victimhood is not new, nor is our self-deception. The current lie: ’restraint.’ Israel is demonstrating ’restraint’ in the face of the Qassams; this assertion continues to spur the commentators and security experts to urge it to embark on the anticipated ’major operation.’ But this operation began long ago. It reached its peak yesterday.

Laughable but real

Jonathan Cook, Al-Ahram Weekly 2/28/2008
      The fate of one college professor who refuses to celebrate militarism epitomises the fanaticism at the heart of Israeli academia, writes in Nazareth An Israeli college is threatening to dismiss a prominent Arab filmmaker from his position as lecturer in its film school unless he declares his "respect for the uniform of the Israeli army". The bizarre demand has been made of Nizar Hassan, director of several award-winning films, after he criticised a Jewish student who arrived in class wearing his uniform and carrying a gun.
     The incident sheds light on the veneration afforded to the military in Israel as well as a less remarked phenomenon: the close, verging on incestuous, ties between the army and Israeli academia.
     Meanwhile, for many of Israel’s 1.2 million Palestinian citizens, who make up nearly a fifth of the country’s population, Hassan’s treatment confirms fears that decades of discrimination, especially in higher education, are far from over. Hassan has faced a storm of criticism, including claims that he is anti-Semitic, since the Israeli media mistakenly reported in November that he had thrown one of his students, Eyal Cohen, out of class over the way he was dressed. Hassan and most of the students present say Cohen was simply warned not to attend class in future wearing his uniform.

Gaza abandoned

Serene Assir, Al-Ahram Weekly 2/28/2008
      With Egypt hosting separate talks with Hamas and Palestinian Authority (PA) representatives over the course of the past week, the possibility of Cairo defying the renewed siege of Gaza by unilaterally lifting it was confirmed non-existent at this stage. With the Hamas delegation warned in talks in the border city Arish not to repeat the border breach Hamas’s armed wing committed late last month, and PA President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) welcomed in Cairo by Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa and Egyptian General Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s growing intent on sidelining Hamas contrasted dramatically with its heightened rapprochement with Fatah and the PA.
     Cairo’s stance follows from a media campaign which according to observers was orchestrated by the Egyptian authorities, and was most apparent in state-run newspapers, which depicted last month’s border breach as an attempt by the Palestinians to "invade" Egypt, apparently at the same time as an Israeli-machinated plan to expel Gaza’s population into the Sinai permanently.

The very last moment

Yossi Sarid, Ha’aretz 3/3/2008
      A moment before the conflagration breaks out, standing on the edge of an abyss from which those who fall do not return, the call comes: Stop! Will the government have the courage to stop before calamity hits?
     Those who sowed this wind of ongoing, not-necessarily-targeted strikes, of locking the gates and suffocating Gaza on all sides, are now reaping the whirlwind. A cabinet meeting no longer need be called today to decide, nor an inner-cabinet meeting Wednesday. The extensive ground operation is already rolling, so it can be told in the streets of Ashkelon. It has already exacted a heavy price on both sides.
     The decision on war was made without realizing it, and the cabinet still does not know that this was the decision, exactly as happened in the summer of 2006. This war, too, will end in bitter disappointment. The losses on the Palestinian side, mostly innocent civilians, will only increase solidarity and the willingness to sacrifice. Hamas rule will not be weakened; it certainly will not fall. The same is true for its status in the West Bank.