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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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4 March 2008


Telegraph: Gaza residents tell of sniper attacks on homes
International Solidarity Movement 3/4/2008
Gaza Region - Palestinians described yesterday how civilians were killed while hiding in their homes as Israeli ground troops stormed through northern Gaza suburbs this weekend searching for Hamas militants. More than 100 Palestinians and three Israelis have died after Israeli troops entered Gaza to try to halt rocket attacks. Raad Abu Seif held his 12-year-old daughter in his arms as she died after she was shot in the stomach as she stood several metres from a window. "I stroked Safa’s hair," said Mr Abu Seif, his voice hoarse. "And then her eyes rolled backwards in her head." "I tried to massage her heart for a minute, two minutes, three minutes, I don’t remember. And then I felt there was nothing." Mr Abu Seif, 40, described how his extended family had bunkered down inside their home in the Zimo Square area of Jabaliya when it was infiltrated by Israeli ground troops supported by tanks in the early hours of Saturday.

US plotted to overthrow Hamas after election victory
Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington, The Guardian 3/4/2008
The Bush administration, caught out by the rise of Hamas, embarked on a secret project for the armed overthrow of the Islamist government in Gaza, it emerged yesterday. Vanity Fair reports in its April edition that President George Bush and the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, signed off on a plan for the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to remove the Hamas authorities in Gaza. The plan called for Washington’s allies in the region to funnel arms and salaries to Fatah fighters who would lead a rising against Hama. s But the project was controversial even within the administration, the magazine reports. "There were severe fissures among neoconservatives over this," David Wurmser, a former Middle East adviser to the vice-president, Dick Cheney, told the magazine. "We were ripping each other to pieces." -- See also: The Gaza Bombshell, by David Rose

Eight new Gaza victims
Report, PCHR, Electronic Intifada 3/3/2008
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) continued their military operations in the Gaza Strip. Over the past 24 hours, IOF carried out several air raids against civilian targets and resistance fighters. As a result, eight Palestinians were killed. Two of the victims were unarmed civilians, one of them a child. With yesterday’s victims the tally since Wednesday, 27 February, till time of publication, soared to 108 victims killed, including 54 unarmed civilians. The civilians killed included 26 children and five women. In addition, dozens were injured, many of them still in serious condition. PCHR’s investigations indicates that IOF have use excessive and disproportionate lethal force during aerial and land operations against populated areas and civilian installations. The use of force disregarded the threat to civilian lives, causing many direct civilian casualties inside homes.

Palestinians: IDF kills infant, top Islamic Jihad man in S. Gaza
Yuval Azoulay Mijal Grinberg and Avi Issacharoffs and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 3/4/2008
A two-week-old Palestinian infant was killed after nightfall on Tuesday in a brief Israel Defense Forces ground operation in the southern Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials said, just a day after Israel ended a bloody offensive in northern Gaza against Palestinian rocket squads. A senior Islamic Jihad operative, Yussuf Samiri, was also killed. Israeli defense officials said that Samiri had been the intended target of the operation. Some 25 Israel Defense Forces armored vehicles briefly entered the southern Gaza Strip and troops clashed with militants, witnesses said. Witnesses said the armored column entered Gaza through the Kissufim crossing, which was the main crossing point for Israeli settlers in Gaza before Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from the Strip. The soldiers arrested two Islamic Jihad militants and were pulling out two hours after the incursion, witnesses said.

Rice meets Palestinian president in West Bank
Middle East Online 3/4/2008
RAMALLAH, West Bank - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pushed Israel and the Palestinians on Tuesday to renew peace talks dealt a major blow Israel’s deadly assault on the Gaza Strip. Rice arrived in the West Bank political capital of Ramallah for talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas after flying into Israel from Cairo, where she told both sides to do more to fulfill their peace plan obligations." The rocket attacks against innocent civilians in their cities... it needs to stop. No Israeli government can tolerate that," Rice said, referring to the near-daily volleys launched from Gaza at southern Israel. "There also needs to be an active peace process," she said at a joint press conference in Cairo with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abu Gheit on the first stop of her latest Middle East tour. In a rare admonition of Israel, she said: "We need to see both sides...

Israel answers Rice’s peace push with tanks in Gaza
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 3/5/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel launched a new incursion into Gaza Tuesday, overshadowing a new peace push by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice even as she was holding talks with Premier Ehud Olmert. Rice had earlier met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who broke off all contacts with Israel Sunday after a previous incursion killed over 120 people, including dozens of civilians and 22 children, and who responded to her call for a resumption of talks with a demand for a comprehensive cease-fire. Israeli forces backed by helicopters clashed with Hamas gunmen after several tanks entered the Gaza Strip east of the city of Khan Yunis, witnesses said. Hamas forces opened fire with small arms and mortars at the Israeli forces that entered southern Gaza near the Kissufim crossing between Israel and the Hamas-ruled territory, the witnesses said.

International Community Rips Israel Over Gaza
The Daily Star, MIFTAH 3/4/2008
Leaders around the world condemned Israel’s attacks on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip over the weekend, calling on both sides to end the recent escalation in violence. EU president Slovenia said on Sunday that Israel’s attacks were disproportionate and violated international law. The strongly worded statement was issued shortly before EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana left on a hastily arranged trip for Israel and the Occupied West Bank to meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders." The presidency condemns the recent disproportionate use of force... against the Palestinian population in Gaza," the statement issued by the Slovenian presidency said." The presidency rejects collective punishment of the people of Gaza," it added, noting in particular the death of "innocent children." "Such activities are contrary to international law. The presidency at the same time reiterates its condemnation of continued firing of rockets into Israeli territory and calls for its immediate end."

PLO official: Rice has "nothing to sell in the region"
Ma’an News Agency 3/4/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – US Secretary of State Rice has nothing to "sell" in the region except negotiations in the face of Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member Tayseer Khalid said on Tuesdy. Khalid, who is also a member of the political leadership of the left-wing Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) said that he expected the Israeli onslaught in Gaza to continue based on statements from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. He concluded his statement calling on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and the Palestinian negotiating team to update Rice on the Israeli aggression and to urge her to exert pressure on Israel to stop its attacks on the Gaza Strip. He also urged the Palestinian leaders to seek a long term ceasefire with the with the Israelis...

Rice seeks fresh Middle East talks
Al Jazeera 3/4/2008
Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of stateو has come away from a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, without any public commitment to resume peace talks he froze over Israel’s Gaza offensive. Rice gave no sign that she had secured his agreement to resume talks. "We look forward to the resumption of those negotiations as soon as possible," Rice told a joint news conference with Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Abbas severed contacts with Israel in protest against the latter’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip that killed 120 Palestinians. Condemning the Gaza operation he said: "No one could, under any pretext, justify the military operations launched by the Israeli army over the past few days. I call on the Israeli government to halt its aggression in order that we can afford the necessary atmosphere to conduct the negotiations."

Hamas: Rice is unwelcome in the Middle East
Ma’an News Agency 3/4/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s visit to the region is intended to pressure Arab countries into refusing Gaza’s calls for relief after Israel’s massacres, Hamas Spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said on Tuesday. Rice arrived in Egypt on Tuesday morning, and will visit Israel and the occupied territories in the coming days. In a statement released Tuesday morning, Barhoum called Rice’s visit an "ill-omened" attempt to quell feelings of solidarity with Gaza that have emerged in Arab countries. Barhoum said Rice will only provide more support and cover to allow Israel to continue its mass killings in Gaza and tighten the blockade of the tiny territory. Since the US administration is a partner in the Israeli aggression against Gaza, Rice is unwelcome in the Palestinian territories, Barhoum said.

A city under fire
Rory McCarthy, The Guardian 3/4/2008
It was just a few minutes after 5am on Saturday morning when Silvio Grinberg, half-asleep, heard in the distance the warning on the neighbourhood’s loudspeakers: "Colour red, colour red." He and his wife Alba would normally wake and prepare breakfast at that time in the morning and sit at their table with its view out over the Israeli city of Ashkelon and onto the Mediterranean. But on this day they stayed in bed, a decision that almost certainly saved their lives. Moments later a 122mm Grad rocket, fired by Palestinian militants from down the coast in Gaza, crashed through the ceiling of their sixth-floor apartment and landed in their kitchen." I didn’t understand what was going on," said Grinberg, 61. "Then I heard a boom and the glass breaking. I was thrown into the air and onto the floor. For five hours I had no idea who or where I was."

Ashkelon, the new target for Hamas missiles
Donald Macintyre in Ashkelon, The Independent 3/4/2008
Israeli surfing shop owner Elan Biton was standing in the car park chatting to friends as he waited for his wife and three children after an afternoon at Ashkelon’s marina when he heard two distant but unmistakeable booms. A few seconds later he heard a whoosh followed by a very much louder explosion a mere 10 metres away. It was only as he started to head down to the water’s edge, dazed, to look for his family that he noticed the small hole in his lower stomach. It dawned on Mr Biton that he had been hit by shrapnel from another of the Grad rockets which had helped to trigger last weekend’s bloody incursion into Gaza Lying in his bed in a private room in Ashkelon’s modern 500-bed Barzilai hospital yesterday, and attached to an antibiotic drip, Mr Biton, 36, did not mince his words about what needed to be done to stop the rockets I don’t think there is a political solution. I can’t know that I will leave this hospital and not be hit by another rocket," he said.

Fatah man loses children as Israel and Hamas wage war
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 3/4/2008
"I wanted to see their bodies, to say good-bye to them for the last time," says Mohammed Abu Shabak, whose children Jacqueline and Iyad were killed by Israeli soldiers on Sunday, during the Israel Defense Forces’ operation in Jabalya. But Hamas told Abu Shabak, a Fatah activist in exile in Ramallah, that if he tried to come to the Gaza Strip funeral, he would be killed. Hamas militants also fired at his relatives’ car, while they were announcing his children’s death in Jabalya. "I don’t know whom I’m more angry with - Hamas, who won’t let me go to my children’s funeral, or Israel, who killed them and stopped their mother from coming to see them in the hospital," he says. Unlike most mourning huts, Mohammed’s is some 100 kilometers away from the family’s house in Gaza. Mohammed is the nephew and former associate of Rashid Abu Shabak, Fatah’s counter-intelligence commander in the Gaza Strip and a Hamas foe.

One Palestinian killed in Israeli shelling of northern Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 3/4/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A Palestinian activist was killed on Monday afternoon as the Israeli artillery shelled the area of Izbat Abid Rabbu in the northern Gaza Strip, and three others to succumb to their wounds sustained earlier. Muawiya Hasanain, the director of ambulance and emergency service in the Palestinian health ministry said that Muhammad Abu Hajar, an activist within Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Brigades was killed in Israeli artillery shelling. A number of others were injured in the Israeli shelling. Egyptian medical sources said Monday that Walid Abu Yousif, an officer in the Palestinian police affiliated to the Hamas-led de facto government succumbed to his wounds sustained in an air raid on the Nusairat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip a few days earlier. Two more activists affiliated to the Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades died on Monday of their wounds sustained in the Israeli incursion in the northernGaza Strip on Sunday.

Two more Palestinians killed in Gaza at the hands of IOF troops
Palestinian Information Center 3/4/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Two Palestinians were killed on Tuesday in IOF missile raids that targeted areas east of Gaza city and north of the Gaza Strip, medical and security sources said. They told PIC that Qassam Brigades member Assad Kahwaji, 23, was killed east of Gaza city in an air raid by an IOF reconnaissance plane. They added that Mohammed Mehana was killed in northern Gaza while another man in his fifties was seriously wounded in an IOF aerial shelling. The Hebrew radio said that IOF raids targeted resistance fighters while trying to fire locally made missiles at Israeli settlements adjacent to the Strip. The broadcast said that two of those missiles had hit Sderot settlement north east of Gaza and that one of them destroyed a vacant house. Meanwhile, seven critically wounded Palestinians have died while receiving treatment in Egypt, Palestinian medical sources announced Monday night.

IOF troops round up two citizens in Nablus district
Palestinian Information Center 3/4/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- IOF soldiers kidnapped two Palestinian citizens in Nablus villages in pre-dawn raids on Tuesday that included shooting intensively during the incursions, locals reported. They said that the two men were kidnapped from Kufr Kalil and Til villages to the east and west of Nablus city respectively. The soldiers broke into many civilian homes before taking away those two men, the sources said, noting that the soldiers stormed the city of Nablus amidst intensified firing. Meanwhile, Zionist settlers on Monday night stoned Palestinian homes in Burin village, south of Nablus, and clashes were reported between the two parties. The settlers apparently responded to calls by Zionist fanatic MPs who called on the settlers not to hesitate in using their firearms against Palestinians.

Renewed Israeli airstrikes kill three Palestinians in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 3/4/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Two Palestinians have been killed and four others injured in two separate Israeli raids on Gaza City and Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning, sources in Gaza said. Twenty-three-year-old Ayman Al-Qahwaji, a fighter with the military wing of Hamas, the Al-Qassam Brigades, was killed in the attack, the Al-Qassam Brigades said. The dead body of a Palestinian has at arrived at Kamal Udwan hospital, medics said. The body has not yet been identified. Israeli warplanes also dropped two bombs on a deserted house in eastern Gaza City. No casualties have been reported in that attack. [end]

Palestinian security forces seize six Hamas members in the West Bank, Hamas claims
Ma’an News Agency 3/4/2008
Nablus – Ma’an –The Palestinian security forces affiliated with the West Bank-based Fatah government allegedly seized six Hamas members in the West Bank on Monday evening, Hamas said on Tuesday. Hamas claimed that three of its members were detained following a rally in support of the Gaza Strip that started from the An-Nasr mosque in Nablus, in the northern West Bank. They said that two other Hamas supporters were seized in Hebron, in the southern West Bank, and one in Salfit, in the north. [end]

Historic mosque in Jaffa attacked
Ma’an News Agency 3/4/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – The Jerusalem-based Al-Aqsa Institution for Rehabilitating Islamic Sites claimed on Tuesday that Jewish Israelis assaulted the Hassan Bek Mosque in Jaffa. The perpetrators reportedly entered the mosque’s yard and broke some of the mosque’s contents, a statement from the Al-Aqsa Institution added. According to the statement, the assault was not the first of its kind as several Islamic sites inside Israel have been assaulted before. [end]

Israeli forces seize 16 Palestinians in the West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 3/4/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Israeli forces seized 16 Palestinians in the West Bank for on Tuesday. The Israeli army said that an activist was detained in Jenin, two others in Nablus, three in Ramallah, six in Bethlehem, and four in Hebron. [end]

Man freed after killing W. Bank teen; two rioters held in J’lem
Jonathan Lis and Avi Issacharoffs, Ha’aretz 3/4/2008
Police last night released a West Bank settler who shot and killed a Palestinian teen, who had been with a group that was throwing rocks along a West Bank road. Shai district detectives failed to determine whether the man acted in self-defense or opened fire illegally. The police investigation is continuing. However, military investigators cleared the Nahliel resident of inappropriate actions and the police are likely to follow suit. Witnesses recounted several versions of the event. The 30-year-old paratroops commando reservist says he was walking from his home to the yeshiva where he studies on a Ramallah-area road that links only Jewish settlements. There, he encountered a group of Palestinians, who were taking part in a demonstration against the violence in the Gaza Strip. The man says members of the group, some of whom were masked, began throwing stones at him, and that he believed he was in danger of being lynched.

Trade union building targeted in Gaza
Mohammed Omer, Electronic Intifada 3/4/2008
GAZA CITY, 4 March (IPS) - Two F-16 missiles were all it took to bring down the five-story headquarters of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU). The Union, established in 1965, is one of the forerunners of the movement calling for an international boycott of Israel, and imposition of sanctions on it until Israel meets its obligations over UN resolutions, borders, and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland. Following the bombing last Thursday, Union members have resumed their work from a tent, gathering what files and paper they could from under the rubble. "The occupation doesn’t need any justifications to commit crimes against Palestinians," Nabil al-Mabhouh, acting head of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions in Gaza told IPS. But the building had apparently been targeted because "we at PGFTU are supporting the rights of tens of thousands of Palestinian workers."

’US plot against Hamas’ revealed
Al Jazeera 3/4/2008
Documents that appear to show that the US attempted to overthrow the Hamas-led Palestinian government have surfaced. One of the documents from March 2007 details a plan to oust Hamas by force and instal the rival Fatah movement in power, by supporting fighters from the group with weapons and money. In Cairo, Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, said she had not read the report which appeared in Vanity Fair magazine. However, she justified the arming of Fatah, saying the situation called for it. "It is very clear that Hamas is being armed. And it is very clear that they are being armed in part by the Iranians," she said on Tuesday. "So if the answer is that if Hamas gets armed by the Iranians and nobody helps to improve the security capabilities of the legitimate Palestinian Authority security forces, that’s not a very good situation." -- See also: The Gaza Bombshell, by David Rose

IOA transfers two Hamas prisoners from Hadarim to Nafha prison as punitive act
Palestinian Information Center 3/4/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The higher committee of Hamas prisoners strongly denounced the IOA for transferring Hamas prisoners Ruhi Mushtaha and Yahya Al-Senwar from the Hadarim prison to the Nafha desert prison in the context of punitive measures against them without any justification. The committee described this Israel act as "arbitrary" especially since the transferred prisoners are its members. Prisoner Senwar was kidnapped 20 years ago and now he is serving a prison term of 54 years; whereas, Mushtaha received, when he was also kidnapped 20 years ago, a lifetime prison term. In another context, MP Yasser Mansour imprisoned in Israeli jails deplored on Tuesday the PA security apparatuses in Ramallah for continuing to detain mayor of Bidya in the Salfit city, Ramadan Shatat, and municipal member, Izzaddin Ibrahim, while Israel are still committing crimes against the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank.

VIDEO - Non-violent march through Ramallah streets ends reading the names of the fallen in Gaza at the Muqata
International Solidarity Movement 3/4/2008
On Sunday, March 2nd, Palestinians marched alongside international supporters through the streets of Ramallah, banging pots, chanting, and making noise. They were protesting the massacres in Gaza, the continued siege, the silence in the international community, and the ongoing violations of international law. Around 200 people gathered near the Manara Square in central Ramallah and walked through roads and refugee camps singing, chanting, banging noise into the night in order to express their outrage and encourage bystanders to join. In the end they arrived at the Muqata, where Yassir Arafat is buried, and negotiated with the police to enter the closed off area. Inside, the names of the newly dead in Gaza were read to the crowd. After, a member of the P. A. spoke, and the entire crowd turned their backs to him and walked away, possibly signifying their outrage at the P. A. reaction to the massacres in Gaza

Israeli police tighten security measures in Jerusalem to quell protests
Palestinian Information Center 3/4/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli police announced on Tuesday via the Hebrew radio in occupied Jerusalem that they tightened the security measures and deployed police elements in the city in order to quell any rallies or protests against the IOF massacres in Gaza. Since the early morning hours, the Israeli police have started to turn the whole city into military posts, where policemen deployed many mobile and immobile barriers on the city’s streets and deliberately held many Palestinian young men against walls in a humiliating way, as other police units stationed in the vicinity of a number of schools. Israeli mounted and foot policemen had dealt aggressively with Palestinian protesters in the West Bank few days ago, where they used batons, live and rubber bullets and tear gas against them that resulted in a number of injuries.

Thousands protest IDF Gaza offensive in Umm al-Fahm
Yoav Stern Jonathan Lis and Yuval Azoulays, Ha’aretz 3/4/2008
"Don’t forget that Umm al-Fahm is the underground name for Palestine," Mayor Sheikh Hashem Abd al-Rahman told the thousands of demonstrators who gathered at one of the city’s soccer fields Tuesday to protest against the Israel Defense Forces recent operation in the Gaza Strip." Our city’s streets are narrow but in the hearts of its people there is room for all... Use caution as you leave," he said in a fatherly tone to those who came to the city for the demonstration. The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee decided to hold the demonstration in the city’s old center, away from the main road, in order to prevent clashes between hotheaded youths and the police officers deployed on the city’s outskirts. Despite this precaution, the police reported that some rocks were thrown at cars at the intersection leading to the city.

Expecting more Palestinian protests, Israel deploys 3,500 police in Old City Jerusalem
Ma’an News Agency 3/4/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Thousands of Israeli police officers have been deployed in the Old City of Jeruslem on Tuesday in order to suppress expected demonstrations against the Israeli mass killings in the Gaza Strip, Israel Radio reported on Tuesday. The radio station reported fierce confrontations between police and Palestinian demonstrators on Monday. 3,500 uniformed officers in addition to undercover forces have been dispatched to Jerusalem in preparation for continued protests. [end]

Palestinians are shot as they take to the streets in response to Gaza massacres
International Solidarity Movement 3/3/2008
Gaza Region - (Edited from Ma’an News and Human Rights Observers’ reports) - Dozens of Palestinians have been injured in towns across the West Bank after Israeli troops cracked down on demonstrations against the Israeli mass killings in Gaza - Bethlehem - Today, students marched to the Israeli separation wall near Rachael’s Tomb. Young Palestinians pelted Israeli military vehicles with stones and empty bottles. The soldiers fired live ammunition, tear gas and sound grenades. Ten people were injured, witnesses said. Israeli soldiers shot 16-year-old Nabil Nayif Al-’Eisawi in the chest. Sources at Beit Jala government hospital described his injury as "critical." The rest were injured moderately and slightly. Hebron - In the Hebron district in the southern West Bank, about 20 Palestinians have been injured after Israeli soldiers opened fire in various place, reporters said on Monday.

Israeli army forces Hebron orphanage and shopping mall to shut
International Solidarity Movement 3/3/2008
Hebron Region - The Islamic Study Centre in the centre of Hebron is a charity dedicated to the welfare and education of orphans in Hebron, it boasts a library and a study centre built into a shopping complex, and a school with working transport. However last Tuesday the IOF raided both the shopping centre and the school. In the shopping centre they blew the locks off the doors with live ammunition and then confiscated computers, files, papers and other equipment. They then went into the school and confiscated everything including the chairs and tables as well as four buses and a car. The High Commander had drawn up a notice which explicitly stated that the shopping centre will close on the 1st of May this year, and anyone caught with a business open after this day will face five years imprisonment. The allegation given for this closure and invasion was that the orphanage had links with Hamas and was training and recruiting for them.

How many traumas can Lebanon’s children absorb?
Mona Alami, Inter Press, Daily Star 3/5/2008
BEIRUT: Over the years, Lebanese children have faced war and bombings enough to make violence a staple in their lives. With the situation becoming increasingly volatile as Lebanese factions are gripped by a lasting and deadly discord, this vulnerable population is left at greater risk. The 2006 war with Israel left more than 1,200 dead, a third of the population displaced, and brought losses of billions of dollars - a heavy toll for a debt-burdened country. One terrorist threat after the other since then has done little to calm the situation down, and children, who constitute around a third of the population of about 4 million, see life as they knew it slowly eroding." I lost my daughter, brother and sister in the Qana 2006 massacres [that saw the death of nine adults and 16 children in an Israeli air strike]," said Mahmoud Chalhoub, a survivor.

Hammad displays military shirt stained with blood of Israeli soldier
Palestinian Information Center 3/4/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Fathi Hammad, a prominent Hamas leader, demonstrated on Tuesday an Israeli military shirt stained with blood found in the IOF invaded area east of Jabaliya along with other medical tools, which points to the magnitude of losses and casualties in the ranks of the IOF troops during their failed incursion into the area. This came during a commemorative reception for martyr Iyad Al-Ashram, a prominent Qassam field commander, attended by Hamas leaders, Palestinian notables and citizens during which some of the attendees delivered eulogies in praise of the martyr. In the context of the Palestinian resistance retaliations, the Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad Movement, took the credit for shooting at noon Tuesday an Israeli soldier and firing an anti-armor RPG at an Israeli military jeep in the vicinity of the Kissufim crossing, southern Gaza Strip.

Olmert: All military options are on table
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 3/4/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared yesterday that the operation in the Gaza Strip is not a singular event. "The operation is not a one-time event: neither in us going in, or us pulling out." Speaking before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday, Olmert said that "everything is on the table - ground operations, air [strikes] and special operations." He described the government’s goals in the operation that ended early yesterday morning, and in others to come as "significantly decreasing the launch of indirect fire, and the weakening of Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip, in a way that will check its ability to control life in the Gaza Strip." Olmert also stressed that negotiations with the Palestinians will continue. He said that without negotiations, Israel would be condemned by the international community, even if it behaved in a restrained and balanced manner.

The End of the Operation / As IDF leaves Gaza, future in the South remains uncertain
Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoffs, Ha’aretz 3/4/2008
A pair of F-15 jets spent nearly an hour circling over Ashkelon yesterday, after three Grad missiles slammed into the city. By then, all of Israel’s ground forces had left Gaza. From the ground, it seemed that the fighter aircraft were meant to give the beleaguered city a sense of security. A visit to the south revealed the enormous gap between the declarations of the political leadership and the media reports, versus the reality on the ground. While the politicians are competing with each other in their exaggerated statements on the bitter end the Israel Defense Forces will bring those in Gaza, the army is still not prepared for a broad ground offensive in the Strip. Media advisers keep informing journalists that this is war, or at least "close to war," but on the ground - as of yesterday morning - the IDF’s war effort was mostly from the air.

Olmert: We must continue Gaza ops
SHEERA CLAIRE FRENKEL, Jerusalem Post 3/3/2008
Operation Hot Winter was not a "one-off," said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the Knesset Monday. MK Eitam says Israel is witnessing the collapse of its national security. "Everything is possible, aerial and ground raids, special operations and other operations - everything is up for discussion. What we do, how we do it, and the extent to which we attack, all of it will be felt by Hamas," Olmert said at the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. "We will not be revealing what we are considering, or when, because we don’t want to give our enemies the chance to prepare." ...." I believe what we’re doing will accomplish the government’s goals, namely seriously reducing rocket fire and weakening Hamas to the point where it can no longer run the Strip," said Olmert. "The only way to do that is to systematically use different kinds of force, in different ways and different levels of intensity."

Barak: IDF will increase pressure in Gaza if rockets don’t stop
Shahar Ilan, and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 3/4/2008
lies with those who fire rockets," Barak said in a speech. The defense minister promised to bring calm to the communities in southern Israel near the border with Gaza, who bear the brunt of the rocket attacks." To the residents of Gaza we can only say that when the rockets stop, and the terrorist attacks coming out of Gaza into Israel stop, only then will a way open up to a different reality of calm on both sides and good neighborly relations. However, the continuation of rocket fire will lead to the continuation of our actions, even with higher intensity," he said. Barak added that Israel is being tested currently in the Gaza Strip, and that its military actions there would continue. According to him, the situation does not call for a "wham bam thank you ma’am" kind of operation, but rather a long process.

IDF officers: We faced fierce but unorganized resistance in Gaza
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 3/4/2008
More than 24 hours after the end of Operation Warm Winter in the northern Gaza Strip, its commanders, from the Givati and the Barak armored brigades, met Tuesday for a debriefing. While the resistance they encountered was fierce, they said, it was less organized than they thought it would be based on information about Hamas’ increasing strength. The 48-hour operation focused on the area between the Sajiyeh neighborhood east of Gaza city, and Jabalya to its north. Two Israel Defense Force soldiers were killed and eight wounded, one moderately. The Palestinians reported 70 dead, and another 50 killed in other incidents since the flare-up last Wednesday. The operation’s commanders say they wanted to remain in the area for a while, but their instructions were to end the incursion early on Monday.

Palestinian military groups continue to launch projectiles at Israeli towns bordering Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 3/4/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Four Palestinian military organizations claimed responsibility on Tuesday morning for launching homemade projectiles at Israeli towns bordering the Gaza Strip. The military wing of Islamic Jihad, the Al-Quds Brigades said their fighters fired two projectiles at the Israeli town of Sderot, in western the Negev on Tuesday morning. Separately, the National Resistance Brigades of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) claimed responsibility for launching a projectile at the military post in Kisufim. For its part, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, the An-Nasser Salah Addin Brigades said their fighters targeted what they called the Israeli settlement of Kfar Aza with two projectiles.

Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades attack Israeli forces at Kerem Shalom crossing
Ma’an News Agency 3/4/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The military wing affiliated of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades claimed responsibility on Tuesday morning for firing four mortar shells at the Kerem Shalom (Karm Abu Salim) border crossing. They said in a statement that the shelling was in retaliation for the ongoing Israeli atrocities against Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. [end]

Fatah’s Abu Ar-Rish Brigades launch two projectiles at Sderot
Ma’an News Agency 3/4/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Abu Ar-Rish Brigades, an armed wing of Fatah, claimed responsibility for launching two homemade projectiles at the Israeli town of Sderot on Tuesday. They said that the attack was a response to the ongoing Israeli crimes in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. [end]

PCHR calls for investigation into death of Palestinian prisoner, citing possible medical negligence
Ma’an News Agency 3/4/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) has called for an investigation into the death of 47-year-old Fadel ‘Ouda ‘Atiya Shaheen, who died on 29 February 2008 in the Israeli prison of Be’r al-Saba’, saying that there is reason to believe that the prison’s administration failed to respond to his deteriorating health condition. Shaheen, who was from the Al-Jalaa neighborhood in Gaza City, was seized on 15 October 2004 by Israeli troops stationed at the now defunct Abu Houli checkpoint in the central Gaza Strip. He was indicted on 16 November 2004 and sentenced to 8. 5 years of prison. PCHR said that at the time of writing the press release, Shaheen’s body was in the process of being transported to his family in the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing after an autopsy was performed in an Israeli forensic medicine institute.

UN rights body holds moment of silence for Gaza ’martyrs’
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 3/4/2008
GENEVA (AP) - The United Nations Human Rights Council held a moment of silence Tuesday for martyrs in Gaza killed in an Israel Defense Forces offensive in the Strip, after a request by Iran’s foreign minister. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki called for the gesture on behalf of the women and children who are "nowadays under attack by the Zionist regime," the term Iranian officials use for Israel because they do not recognize its right to exist." I would like... to request one minute silence and ask my Muslim brothers and sisters to read the Fatah for those martyrs in Gaza," he asked the council president, referring to the opening verse in the Koran. The room was silent for about 30 seconds. Those present said no one stood. Israel’s UN ambassador in Geneva, Yitzhak Levanon, said, the news is that the international...

Thousands Rally Across Mideast to Protest IDF Attacks on Gaza
The Associated Press, MIFTAH 3/4/2008
Tens of thousands of Syrians filled the central square of Damascus Monday to protest ongoing Israel Defense Forces operations in the Gaza Strip that have killed more than 100 Palestinians, while elsewhere in the region thousands others also demonstrated. The Syrians chanted slogans against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and called on Arab leaders to take a tough stand on U.S. support for Israel as it continues its air and ground offensive against Palestinians in Gaza." With soul and blood we sacrifice ourselves for you Palestine," the crowd shouted in central Damascus, waving Syrian and Palestinian flags and carrying pictures of Syrian President Bashar Assad. They also carried pictures of Palestinian children killed by Israeli attacks. The offensive, which Israel says is in response to Palestinian rocket attacks, has left over 100 Palestinians dead since the fighting erupted last Wednesday.

’USS Cole aims to dissuade any Hizbullah reprisal against Israel’
Michael Bluhm, Daily Star 3/5/2008
BEIRUT: Despite US assertions that it deployed the USS Cole off Lebanon’s coast to support regional stability, the destroyer’s presence represents symbolic backing for the March 14 faction, an attempt to contain Hizbullah and put pressure on Syria in the regional context, a number of analysts told The Daily Star on Tuesday. The guided-missile destroyer arrived in international waters off Lebanon’s shores the evening of February 28, as White House National security Spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the purpose of the USS Cole and other warships joining it shortly near Lebanon was "a show of support for regional stability." "Initially we thought it might have been to support Israel vis-a-vis Gaza," said Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, visiting scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center. "I don’t think we can say it’s there to target Syria or the Gazans or whomever..."

French UNIFIL troops conduct training exercises near border with Israel
Mohammed Zaatari, Daily Star 3/5/2008
SIDON: A unit of the French contingent of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has begun a round of training exercises in the Southern areas extending from Aarqoub to the Shebaa Farms, the National News Agency (NNA) reported on Monday. The NNA added that these areas were chosen to provide the forces with familiarity of the terrain as a contingency in preparation for any developments in the security situation along the Israeli border. The report added that the French UNIFIL battalion conducted similar exercises last week in the Southern towns of Abbasiyeh, Mari, Ain Arab, Wazzani and the Hamames Hills. In a statement issued by its Foreign Ministry on Monday, France said it was willing to support UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon by sending additional French forces to Lebanon to control the border and prevent arms smuggling.

Israel Defiantly Continues Gaza Attacks Amid International Outcry
Sakher Abu El Oun, MIFTAH 3/4/2008
GAZA CITY (AFP) Israel continued to hammer Gaza on Monday after vowing to press its campaign against militants despite an international outcry over the deadly onslaught that prompted even the moderate Palestinian leadership to cut off all peace talks. Five Palestinian activists were killed early Monday in raids by Israeli aircraft and shelling of the Gaza Strip by the Israeli navy, Palestinian security officials said. Israeli warplanes carried out five other raids against metal workshops throughout the Gaza Strip, after two earlier raids late Sunday had destroyed a metal workshop and injured one person. Yet another air raid destroyed the headquarters of members of the Palestinian parliament in Khan Yunes in the south of the Strip, the officials said. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed Sunday to continue the ground and air operation that has killed 78 Palestinians since Saturday following the death of one Israeli civilian last week and earned the Jewish state international condemnation for disproportionate use of force.

Rice in Egypt to revive Mideast talks
Middle East Online 3/4/2008
CAIRO - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Egypt on Tuesday at the start of a regional tour with hopes for an Israeli Palestinian peace deal hit hard by an escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip. Rice was due to meet Egyptian officials including President Hosni Mubarak, Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit and intelligence supremo Omar Suleiman, who on Monday cancelled a trip to Israel in protest at Israel’s Gaza incursion. Her tour comes a day after Israeli troops pulled out of Gaza following an offensive that killed more than 120 Palestinians, with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday vowing to keep hitting the defenseless territory. The bloody assault earned Israel international condemnation and caused Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to cut contacts with the Israelis, though on Monday he reiterated his willingness to seek a truce.

Barhoum: Rice’s visit to the region ominous
Palestinian Information Center 3/4/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Tuesday said that the visit of American secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to the region was "ominous" and fell in line with American pressures on Arab parties so as not to respond to Gaza’s calls for support. Barhoum in a statement on Tuesday said that Rice’s visit also aims at providing more support for Israeli occupation’s massacres and siege on Gaza in addition to covering up for its crimes. He stressed that her visit is unwelcome and added, "We do not have high hopes on the visit and we consider the American administration an accomplice in the occupation’s crimes against our people and specifically in the latest massacres in the Gaza Strip". The spokesman asked the Arab and Islamic masses to continue in their solidarity campaigns with the Palestinian people and to pressure their governments to end their "dreadful silence" and to adopt courageous steps in boycotting and exposing occupation.

Abbas calls for Israeli-Palestinian truce
Middle East Online 3/4/2008
RAMALLAH, West Bank - Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas called on Tuesday for a truce with Israel in order to try to achieve a peace agreement by the end of the year. "I insist on the necessity of installing a comprehensive truce in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank so that we can reach our goal of making 2008 a year of peace," Abbas said. Speaking at a news conference after talks with visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Abbas sharply criticized Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. "The choking siege around Gaza has also sabotaged the negotiations. Therefore I call on the Israeli government to cease its aggression in order to provide the environment necessary for the negotations," he said. Over the weekend, Abbas suspended peace negotiations with Israel in protest against its bloodiest assault on Gaza in years, one that killed at least 123 Palestinians in five days.

Nasr: Abbas’s decision to suspend talks with Israel intended to avoid blame
Palestinian Information Center 3/4/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Mohamed Nasr, a member of the Hamas political bureau, stated that PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to suspend negotiations with Israel is intended for avoiding the blame which is not enough because he must halt his negotiations completely, not only suspend them and must return to the national dialogue.   In a statement to the Quds Press, Nasr underlined that Abbas’s insistence on refusing inter-Palestinian dialogue and rebuffing Palestinian and Arab masses’ demands and appeals which call on him to restore national unity reflects the Zio-American wish to pass solutions not responding to the illegitimate demands of the Palestinian people. The Hamas leader added that the issue of national dialogue became primarily a Zio-American decision. Nasr highlighted that Hamas is part of the Arab Nation and keen on maintaining good and positive relations with the fraternal...

Egypt denies mistreatment of wounded Gazans
Ma’an News Agency 3/4/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Egypt does not deal with injured Palestinians from Gaza Strip from a "security point of view," and president Mubarak has given directives to open the Rafah crossing immediately to secure the passage of injured Palestinians to Egypt for medical treatment, Egyptian medical sources told Egyptian daily Al-Ahram daily newspaper. The officials were denying accusations from Hamas that Egypt had been mishandling, and in some cases refusing to treat, wounded Palestinians. The source added that the people at the Rafah crossing were surprised that in some cases, Gazan medical officials had sent sick patients, instead of the injured who the Egyptians say should have been given priority. The Palestinian Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip is considering halting transfers of wounded Palestinians into Egypt over the alleged mishandling of patients.

Israel: Latest Iran sanctions not enough
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 3/4/2008
Jerusalem is disappointed with the latest round of sanctions against Iran passed late last night by the United Nations Security Council, a government source said yesterday. Israel sees them as soft, especially with regard to the list of individuals and institutions on which the sanctions would be imposed. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said yesterday that the Security Council’s resolution was another essential step expressing the understanding that the international community must not give up and stand idly by in light of Iran’s nuclear efforts. "Any additional decision by any country, member or group, adds more weight to create the mass of sanctions needed to stop Iran, Livni said. The resolution, passed yesterday, authorizes cargo inspections to and from Iran for prohibited materials, additional monitoring of Iranian financial institutions and the freezing of assets of those involved in its nuclear program.

PM: Israel has strength, might to defend itself against Iran
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 3/4/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday that Israel has the might and power to defend itself against any threat from Iran, indicating a willingness to use military force if necessary against Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Olmert spoke after Iran defiantly vowed to continue its nuclear program, despite new sanctions the United Nations imposed on Tehran on Monday for refusing to suspend uranimum enrichment, a process necessary to build an atomic bomb. "Israel definitely sees itself threatened by Iran," Olmert said in a tour of northern Israel. "Israel has the might and power to defend itself against any threat." But he quickly added, "I don’t think the Iranian matter is primarily Israel’s responsibility. It is the responsibility of the United States and the leading countries in the international community that are convinced Iran constitutes a threat.

Bush says optimistic Israel-PA peace deal possible in 2008
Barak Ravid and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 3/4/2008
U.S. President George W. Bush said Tuesday he remains optimistic there will be a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians by the end of his presidency, despite broken-down negotiations. "Ten months is a long time. There’s plenty of time to get a deal done," Bush said after White House talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah, as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited the region seeking to salvage the battered U.S. -sponsored peace push. Bush said the goal of U.S. diplomacy was to bring the two sides back to the negotiating table, while Rice earlier urged Israel and the Palestinians quickly to resume talks. "I’m optimistic and will continue to work hard to achieve the vision," Bush said. He insisted the United States "is engaged and will remain engaged" in the Middle East peace process.

Israeli analysts speculate about secret Hamas-Israel ceasefire
Ma’an News Agency 3/4/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Some Israeli analysts are speculating that Hamas and Israel have reached an unannounced ceasefire following the five-day bombardment of the Gaza Strip and projectile attacks on Israeli towns. Alon Ben David, an Israeli military analyst, said on Israeli Channel 10: "Immediately after Israeli forces withdrew from Jabalia, Hamas launched 3 to 4 projectiles at Israeli cities of Ashkelon and Sderot in a gesture that Hamas has the final word in the battle." Yet he also speculated that Hamas stopped launching more projectiles as a gesture of agreement to an unannounced ceasefire with Israel. He said this also explains the sudden, unexplained Israeli withdrawal from Jabalia.

Italian film industry leaders support Israeli-Arab director
Nirit Anderman, Ha’aretz 3/4/2008
Although the resumption of the trial against film director Mohammed Bakri aroused little media interest in Israel, it has made waves in Italy. Some 50 Italian film industry leaders have signed a petition in support of Bakri. The petition warns that the defamation suit against him, filed after screening of his film "Jenin, Jenin" in Israel, could restrict freedom of expression. As a sign of their solidarity with Bakri, the film was screened in close to 40 Italian cities last month, including Rome, Turin, Milan, Naples and Florence. "There appears to be a real danger that the suit against ’Jenin, Jenin’ will turn into a kind of attack against the right to freedom of information and freedom of artistic expression in Israel," states the petition, whose authors warn that the results of such an attack could have sweeping ramifications.

Israelis try to shield military officers from operations to avenge Mughniyeh
Daily Star 3/5/2008
Israel has stepped up the personal security of top army officers in case of revenge attacks by Hizbullah after the recent assassination of a senior resistance commander in Syria, Israeli public television said Monday. The measures, which cover their homes and cars, came into force at least two weeks ago, it said. Additional security has also been laid on for Israeli delegations abroad. Israel is on alert for possible retaliatory attacks after top Hizbullah commander Imad Mughniyeh was killed in a Damascus car bombing on February 12. The Jewish state welcomed the killing of Mughniyeh, who was wanted for a string of attacks in the 1980s and 1990s on US and Israeli targets, but insisted it was not involved. Israel says Hizbullah is rearming and has an arsenal including 10,000 long-range rockets and 20,000 short-range rockets in South Lebanon, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon mentioned...

Deputy Defense Min. orders louder rocket warning siren in Ashkelon
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 3/4/2008
A wailing siren will now be heard in Ashkelon every time a rocket is fired at the southern city from the Gaza Strip, instead of the "color red" alert system previously installed to warn against imminent strikes. Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai on Tuesday decided to replace the existing system after receiving several complaints recently from residents of Ashkelon who said they didn’t hear the "color red" alert prior to rocket strikes on the city. In response to these complaints, the Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command began installing loud sirens around the city over the last two days. Eight loudspeakers were installed, in addition to the 21 existing loudspeakers that will now be used to warn against strikes. Due to continuing complaints, it was decided that instead of spoken warnings on the loudspeakers, a loud siren will be heard.

News in Brief II
Ha’aretz 3/4/2008
Some 370,000 women, a third of all female salaried employees, are paid no more than minimum wage, even though they are employed on a monthly basis and not per shift. A quarter of these women, 92,000, work more than 35 hours per week. This data is part of the report prepared by the research department at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Employment. "This is a group that is headed for poverty," says Benny Pfefferman, who is in charge of the research department. A full 51. 4 percent of salaried Arab women fall into this group, while 34. 6% of Jewish women do. There are 2. 5 times more women earning minimum wage than men. (Ruth Sinai) A former Egged bus driver was convicted of slander on Sunday, after calling a security guard of Ethiopian origin "nigger." The Jerusalem District Court sentenced the driver to an NIS 30,000 compensation fee and NIS 10,000 in legal fees to be paid to the guard.

PM to tell Rice he wants to renew talks with PA soon
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 3/4/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will tell U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today that Israel wants to renew talks with the Palestinian Authority quickly, following the PA’s announcement that it was suspending negotiations due to the escalation in Gaza. Rice, who is due to arrive in Israel this afternoon, will head directly for Ramallah for talks with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. She will later dine in Jerusalem with Olmert. Rice will meet with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni tomorrow. Rice’s visit had been planned to gauge progress on the peace process after President George W. Bush’s recent visit to the region. But in light of events in the Gaza Strip, Rice is expected to work toward getting the talks back on track. Olmert, who is said to have been disappointed in the PA announcement on the suspension of negotiations,...

Hamas: Israeli withdrawal from Gaza victory for resistance, blow to traitors
Palestinian Information Center 3/4/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement considered the withdrawal of the IOF troops from the northern Gaza Strip a victory for the Palestinian resistance and a blow to those who colluded with the Israeli occupation against resistance, highlighting its adherence to the option of resistance against the occupation. Mushir Al-Masri, the secretary-general of the Hamas parliamentary bloc, stated that the IOF troops’ declaration about the failure of the military campaign is a big triumph achieved by the Palestinian resistance and an assertion that the language of resistance, not the negotiations, is capable of compelling the Israeli occupation to recognize the Palestinian people’s rights. For his part, an Israeli writer called Amir Tsoria opined in an article published on Monday in Hebrew newspapers that it is the time to have the courage to admit that the IOF troops failed in its military operations...

Batesh: Washington the major patron of aggression on the Palestinians
Palestinian Information Center 3/4/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Islamic Jihad Movement asserted on Tuesday that the US administration was the main partner to the "Zionist enemy’s crimes against our people". Khaled Al-Batesh, one of the Jihad leaders in Gaza, charged that the visit of American secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to Palestine was meant to complete the "holocaust" against the Palestinian people. He explained that the warplanes that murdered women and children and destroyed civilian homes were American made as well as various weapons and shells used by the IOF troops in the genocide. The American administration was not content with this but also hampered all attempts to condemn the Israeli aggression and blocked all attempts to alleviate suffering of the Palestinian people or lifting the siege imposed on them, Batesh underlined. He further charged that Rice was attempting to beautify the image of the "criminal...

Israel prepares to commit mass extermination in Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 3/4/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation government was reportedly mulling the legality of targeting populated areas in Gaza Strip that, if happened, will inflict heavy toll on the Palestinian civilians. So far, Israel has killed more than 116 Palestinian citizens, at least 39 of them were children and babies, and wounded hundreds others since it started lethal air strikes on the tiny Gaza Strip on Wednesday. According to the Israeli TV, Israeli war minister Ehud Barak discussed the legality of bombarding densely populated areas in Gaza Strip, alleging that the Palestinian resistance fighters were using those areas as launching pads of their home-made rockets against Israeli settlements adjacent to the Strip. Hamas denied the Israeli allegations. Israel’s own understanding of international law: Meanwhile, Israeli deputy premier Haim Ramon, who was accused of sexually harassing...

What’s wrong with Obama?
Shmuel Rosner, Ha’aretz 3/5/2008
The Israel Factor panel analyses the Illinois Senator’s low ranking 1. On the eve of the second Super Tuesday, the Israel Factor panel was left with three candidates only to choose from - Republican John McCain, and Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Tomorrow, or very shortly, we might need to eliminate Clinton - or not. But in the meantime, these are the three left in the field who we are ranking. For those with short memories: we started this project ranking 24 candidates and added two along the way. As we saw last month, the panel prefers McCain as the next president rather than Obama, but is split on the question of Clinton vs. McCain. As has been its habit since we started the Factor, the panel still ranks Obama at the bottom. McCain is ranked higher than Clinton, because unlike last month, when we asked the panelists to pick their nominee, this time all we asked

Barak seeks legal okay to move Gazan civilians from homes
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 3/4/2008
Legal experts in the government say it is difficult to decide whether Israel can move Palestinian civilians from areas in the northern Gaza Strip where rockets are fired against Israel. They say international law is based on precedents, and in Israel’s case the matter is in many ways unprecedented. Defense Minister Ehud Barak had requested legal advice from Attorney General Menachem Mazuz and the military advocate general on the possibility of moving Palestinian civilians from the rocket-launching areas. The idea would be to give the Israel Defense Forces greater room to maneuver and target rocket crews without endangering civilians. At the meeting were Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, Deputy Attorney General Shai Nitzan, Brigadier General Avichai Mandelblit - in his role as military advocate general - and legal experts from the army and Foreign Ministry.

Hamas lets Fatah man who lost two kids in IDF raid visit their graves
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 3/4/2008
Following Tuesday’s Haaretz report, Hamas has decided to let a Fatah activist return to the Gaza Strip to visit the burial site of two of his children who were killed Sunday during an Israel Defense Forces’ raid in Jabalya. Muhammed Abu Shabak, a Fatah activist and rival of Hamas faction, fled to Ramallah last June, at the beginning of the Fatah-Hamas civil war, after repeated threats on his life. After his children Jacqueline and Iyad were announced dead on Sunday, Abu Shabak was told by Hamas militants that if he tried to come to their Gaza Strip funeral, he would be killed. However, following report of the story in Haaretz on Tuesday, Hamas reneged on its threats and decided to let Abu Shabak enter Gaza in order to visit his children’s graves. Later on Tuesday, Abu Shabak was indeed granted entrance to the Strip and hurried to see his children’s burial site.

The cynicism of Shas
Haaretz Editorial, Ha’aretz 3/4/2008
One might be able to understand the clearly political reasons that led Eli Yishai - Shas chairman and minister of industry, trade and labor - to call for a national unity government yesterday at the Shas faction meeting. After all, he has repeatedly threatened that his party would vote no-confidence in the government if it continued the peace talks with the Palestinians. He instructed Shas MKs to abstain in yesterday’s no-confidence vote initiated by the National Union-National Religious Party, and in the end Shas voted for the government "in light of the national emergency situation." The demand to establish a national unity government thus stems from the complicated definition that enabled Yishai to remain in the government, and from his desire to once again see Yisrael Beiteinu, which left the coalition for political reasons, back in the cabinet, along with other right-wing parties.

PM visits Druze community in Galilee, vows stronger ties
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 3/4/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visited on Tuesday a Druze village in the western Galilee, in bid to bolster the community’s ties between the community and the government. Accompanied by numerous government ministries officials, Olmert held a long meeting with Druze and Circassian council heads, led by the community’s spiritual leader Sheikh Mwafak Tariff and Deputy Foreign Minister Majali Wahabi. Olmert heard that according to a recent opinion poll, for 94 percent of Druze citizens Israeliness is a central tenet of their identity. A top Druze IDF officer said that 83 percent of Druze youth join the army, as opposed to a mere 72 percent of Jewish youth. Olmert said that the Druze community’s loyalty to the state is "wonderful and admirable." He added that a change is required in the state’s relationship with the community.

Knesset punishes female workers who skipped Int’l Women`s Day events
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 3/4/2008
Most female Knesset employees have been banned from receiving either a promotion or a pay raise in 2008, after they failed to attend mandatory events in honor of International Women’s Day. Knesset Director-General Avi Balashnikov informed all female employees that they must attend the day’s events, which included presentations and a self-defense workshop. Most of the employees skipped the program, however, and a furious Balashnikov said that "[regarding] all those who have taken the law into their own hands today, I have instructed human resources to refrain from bringing me any promotion forms throughout all of 2008. The Knesset is first and foremost and organization and organizations have rules," he said. "I invest more than enough in the Knesset’s female employees, and I demand a certain amount of reciprocity and will not apologize."

Photostory: The month in pictures, February 2008
Slideshow, Electronic Intifada 3/4/2008
The above slideshow is a selection of images from the month of February 2008. The month in pictures is an ongoing feature of The Electronic Intifada. If you have images documenting Palestine, Palestinian life, politics and culture, or of solidarity with Palestine, please email images and captions to...

Ehud Asheri 1951-2008 / Haaretz’s ’sublime’ Asheri dies at 57
Asaf Carmel, Ha’aretz 3/4/2008
Journalist Ehud (Udi) Asheri died of cancer yesterday, at the age of 57. Asheri, who was the editor of Haaretz Magazine for seven years and the newspaper’s television critic, has been a journalist and editor for more than 30 years. His funeral will be held at 1:30 P. M. today at the Yarkon cemetery, Geulim gate. Asheri was born in 1951 in Jerusalem and studied in the Hebrew Gymnasium (secondary school) in Jerusalem. He served in the Golani Brigade and after his discharge from the Israel Defense Forces studied sociology and international relations at Hebrew University in Jerusalem; he later got a master’s degree in mass communication at Hebrew University. His first job as a journalist was editor of Hebrew University’s student paper Pi Ha’aton. Afterward he served as news editor in Israel Radio and sports reporter in Israel Television.

Arava to get $2.5b solar station
Avi Bar Eli, Ha’aretz 3/4/2008
An international project management firm has recently signed a memorandum of understanding for construction of a $2. 5 billion solar power station at Eilot Region in the Arava desert. The extravagant project, which is expected to continue over a five-year period, involves installation of photo-voltaic (PV) panels which will eventually supply up to 500 megawatts of electricity. The agreement was signed by Arava Power of Kibbutz Ketura located in the southern Arava. Representatives of the international firm have visited Israel on a number of occasions to promote the project. The project, however, is contingent upon the Electric Company paying a higher price for the solar energy that the power station produces. An electricity producer currently gets 22 cents per kilowatt-hour electricity produced by all types of technology.

2008 car sales in overdrive
Dubi Ben-Gedalyahu, Globes Online 3/4/2008
Market sources note most car deliveries are still to vehicle fleets, as private customers hold back. Israel’s car market is still in overdrive. 39,547 vehicles were delivered in January-February 2008, 32% more than during the corresponding period in 2007, which was a strong year as well, according to the Israel Motor Vehicles Importers Association, on the basis of Motor Vehicle Department reports. 18,849 vehicles were delivered in February, 39% more than in February last year. Mazda was again number one, with 7,659 deliveries in January-February, 66% more than in the corresponding period. Toyota was in second place, with 4,351 deliveries in January-February, 4% fewer than in the corresponding period. Hyundai was in third place, with 3,686 deliveries, up 1. 7%; followed by Chevolet with 3,075 deliveries, up 68%; Honda, with 3,054 deliveries, up 104%; and Ford, with 2,272 deliveries, down 7.

US: Somalia strike targeted embassy bombing suspect
A US missile strike in Somalia on Monday targeted a Kenyan suspected in the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in Africa, officials said Tuesday. Al-Qaida suicide bombers rammed their car into the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel in Mombasa in November 2002, killing 12 people, including three Israelis, and wounding 80, The Navy was going after Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan when it launched at least two Tomahawk missiles from a submarine off the coast of the East African nation, a Pentagon and FBI official said. "Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan is on the FBI’s "seeking information list" and is wanted by the FBI for questioning in connection with the 2002 attacks at the Paradise Hotel, which killed three Israelis, and the unsuccessful surface to air missile attack against an Israeli airliner in Kenya," said FBI spokesman Richard Kolko.


Revealed: the US plan to start a Palestinian civil war
Report, Electronic Intifada 3/4/2008
      United States officials including President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice participated in a conspiracy to arm and train Contra-style Palestinian militias nominally loyal to the Fatah party to overthrow the democratically-elected Hamas government in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, an investigative article in the April 2008 issue of Vanity Fair has revealed. [1] The allegations of such a conspiracy, long reported by The Electronic Intifada, are corroborated in Vanity Fair with confidential US government documents, interviews with former US officials, Israeli officials and with Muhammad Dahlan, the Gaza strongman personally chosen by Bush.
     The article, by David Rose, recounts gruesome torture documented on videotape of Hamas members by the US-armed and funded militias under Dahlan’s control. Hamas had repeatedly alleged such torture as part of its justification for its move to overthrow the Dahlan militias and take full control of the interior of the Gaza Strip in June 2007. -- See also: The Gaza Bombshell, by David Rose and Who is Mohammad Dahlan?

Gaza’s Holocaust

Dr. Elias Akleh, MIFTAH 3/4/2008
      Holocaust is the genocidal crime against people based on their ethnicity. This genocide could be perpetrated through different means such as poison gas, guns, tanks, air raids, biological warfare, economical siege, starvation, destruction of vital natural resources, eviction into desert, and deprivation of basic vital materials among others, to produce the same result; mass deaths. For the last sixty years Palestinians have been suffering from all these methods in a deliberate programmed holocaust. The perpetrators are not Nazis, but those who claim to be survivors, and their descendents, of Nazi-caused holocaust; Zionist Jewish Israelis.
     The threat of Israeli Deputy Defense Minister, Metan Vinai, to inflict “bigger Shoah” (Holocaust) [British Telegraph 2/29] on Gaza’s Palestinians reflect the adopted policy of the Israeli government towards Palestinians.Encircled by 8 foot high cement wall on three sides and a sea filled with hostile Israeli gun boats on the fourth, Gaza, with a dense population of 1.5 million people, has become the largest concentration camp ever on this globe. Israeli army is the prison guards of this concentration camp.Controlling all borders, sea and air Israeli army controls and restricts all vital materials going into Gaza. Life in Gaza is dependent on the whims of the Israeli army guarding all crossings into Gaza. They close these crossing whenever they want for a long periods of time to starve Palestinians. UN reports had warned that the majority of Gazans live under the poverty line. To make things worse Israel had turned Gaza into a military exercise theatre for its snipers shooting children in the streets, for their special forces conducting offensive operations within civilian areas, for long range artillery practice, for tanks offensive exercises, for navy gun boats shooting exercises, and for air raid targeting. Starting Wednesday February 27th Israeli terrorist army had started their “bigger Shoah” against Gaza.

A conflict without any possible victor

Rami G. Khouri, Daily Star 3/5/2008
      The tragedy of the Palestinian people is not only that over and over again they get slaughtered by Israeli gunfire dozens at a time - militants and civilians alike - while their land is encircled, choked and colonized. It is also that they must suffer the added ignominy of listening to an increasingly bizarre American secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, who seems to live in another world in believing her pleas can restart peace talks, and a Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, who has transcended the arena of political dysfunction to the historically pathetic and tragic.
     It is hard to imagine a worse situation than that which now defines the Palestinians of Gaza. The world does not accept their right to use military means to resist occupation, strangulation and assault - while Israel is allowed to use any means it wishes to kill hundreds at a time, as it did last week. Nor does the world accept the right of the Palestinians to democratically elect Hamas as their leadership.

To blame the victims for this killing spree defies both morality and sense

Seumas Milne, The Guardian 3/5/2008
      Washington’s covert attempts to overturn an election result lie behind the crisis in Gaza, as leaked papers show.
     The attempt by western politicians and media to present this week’s carnage in the Gaza Strip as a legitimate act of Israeli self-defence - or at best the latest phase of a wearisome conflict between two somehow equivalent sides - has reached Alice-in-Wonderland proportions. Since Israel’s deputy defence minister, Matan Vilnai, issued his chilling warning last week that Palestinians faced a "holocaust" if they continued to fire home-made rockets into Israel, the balance sheet of suffering has become ever clearer. More than 120 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza by Israeli forces in the past week, of whom one in five were children and more than half were civilians, according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. During the same period, three Israelis were killed, two of whom were soldiers taking part in the attacks.
     So what was the response of the British foreign secretary, David Miliband, to this horrific killing spree? It was to blame the "numerous civilian casualties" on the week’s "significant rise" in Palestinian rocket attacks "and the Israeli response", condemn the firing of rockets as "terrorist acts" and defend Israel’s right to self-defence "in accordance with international law". But of course it has been nothing of the kind - any more than has been Israel’s 40-year occupation of the Palestinian territories, its continued expansion of settlements or its refusal to allow the return of expelled refugees. -- See also: The Gaza Bombshell, by David Rose

More Forceful Action Needed

The Jordan Times, MIFTAH 3/4/2008
      It is indefensible if the UN Security Council fails to adopt an appropriate resolution on the latest Israeli violence against the Palestinians in Gaza.
     As it convenes today to consider an Arab-sponsored draft resolution condemning the Israeli attacks and calling for an immediate ceasefire, the Security Council should, for once, exercise its responsibility and prerogative, and force Israel to cease its barbaric onslaught on the Palestinians.
     So far the council appears paralysed, as usual, unable to take forceful measures to stop the Israeli attacks that have taken a heavy toll on Gazans.
     During an emergency meeting of the council, the “deeply concerned” members stopped short of adopting a formal resolution condemning the Israeli attacks, only agreeing to a statement censoring the violence between Israel and the Palestinians.
     It failed to condemn Israel for its disproportionate use of force that killed scores of Palestinians, including many children.

Al-Khader village protests the wall

Adri Nieuwhof and Samer Jaber, Electronic Intifada 3/3/2008
      For the last two months the residents of al-Khader have demonstrated every week against the illegal construction of the Israeli wall on their land. The demonstrations are organized by the al-Khader Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements, with the support of al-Khader institutions, residents as well as Israeli and international activists. Al-Khader’s mayor, Ramzi Salah, said last week that the wall has a devastating effect on the village, effectively annexing 90 percent of its land. Two-thirds of the residents rely for their livelihood on farming. Although the Israeli forces have responded aggressively, it has not stopped the protesters from raising their voices. Every week they send a clear message to the world that they want an end to the construction of the wall and the settlements on Palestinian land.
     The village of al-Khader is located four kilometers east of the internationally-recognized Green Line marking the boundary between Israel and the West Bank, and almost four kilometers west of the city of Bethlehem. In 2006 the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics counted 9,285 inhabitants in al-Khader and the total area within the boundaries of the village is 20,090 dunums (one dunum is 1,000 square meters).

Losing the Jews of Arabia

Rachel Shabi, Al Jazeera 2/24/2008
      "The war between Israelis and the Arabs made it impossible for them to stay," says the Israeli historian, Tom Segev of the almost one million Jews who had lived in Arab countries for several millennia prior to 1948.
     Jewish populations, who once were a significant and largely harmonious minority presence in countries such as Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Iran, migrated en masse following the establishment of Israel in 1948.
     In 1949-50, 49,000 Jews from Yemen were flown to Israel; in 1951, 120,000 Iraqi Jews did the same; by 1967, around 200,000 Jews had left Morocco – although not all of them to Israel.
     Why did they go? Some argue that the Zionist movement, at the time predominantly European, recruited those Jews to the cause of settling Israel and setting up underground movements in Arab countries with that purpose in mind.

Time for Turkey to step forward and play its natural regional role

Editorial, Daily Star 3/5/2008
      Several parts of the Middle East are locked in crisis, the core cause remains the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the resultant complications have pitted world and regional powers against one another. Despite myriad complications, one country deals with virtually all other players in the region but has yet to realize its potential as moderating force: Turkey, whose good relations with seemingly apposite forces was clearly demonstrated when its recent campaign against Kurdish rebels inside Iraq was supported by both Iran and Syria on one hand, and America on the other.
     Turkey is a mostly Muslim country in a mostly Muslim region, but it also has a secular and democratic government in an area where most regimes manifestly lack such pedigrees. In addition, it maintains a close relationship with Israel and has done much to earn the Jewish state’s trust. Officially, the lead sponsor in any peace process is likely to remain America, but even the tatters of Washington’s credibility as a fair broker have gone up in smoke because of its unconditional support for Israel. Having the Turks take a major supporting role could therefore do much to protect the interests of the Palestinians - as well as to gain the trust of Arabs and Muslims in a process that will be difficult under even ideal circumstances.

Another Mideast Peace Plan Slipping Away

International Herald Tribune, MIFTAH 3/4/2008
      For the first time, an Israeli leader and a Palestinian leader seem genuinely committed to peace. They set a deadline for a deal by year’s end.
     Yet the likelihood of achieving the two-state solution they have embraced diminishes with every rocket lobbed into Israel from Hamas-controlled Gaza and with every Israeli military strike or squeeze on civilian life in Gaza.
     The political and security situation is growing more desperate.
     Since last Wednesday, at least 100 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed. On Sunday, the violence spilled over to the West Bank, as Palestinians there protested Israeli attacks on Gaza.
     A spokesman for the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said contacts with Israel would be temporarily suspended.
     Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has rightly decided to go forward with a visit to the region this week. If she is to salvage the U.S.-led peace talks, she must push urgently for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. And she must press key Arab states to do a lot more to support Abbas and to pressure Hamas to halt the rocket attacks.

Vanity Fair: Abbas, Dahlan conspired with Israel, US, to topple Hamas

Khalid Amayreh in Ramallah, Palestinian Information Center 3/4/2008
      The famous American magazine Vanity Fair has published  a meticulously-researched expose showing that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, his aide Muhammed Dahlan actively conspired with the Bush administration to topple the democratically-elected government of Hamas and engineer civil war in the occupied Palestinian territories.
     In a lengthy article in the magazine’s latest issue, Vanity Fair said it obtained "œconfidential documents"  corroborated by sources in the US and Palestine, which lay bare a covert American operation, approved by the President Bush and implemented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams, to provoke a Palestinian civil war
     According to the magazine, the plan was for forces led by Dahlan and armed with new weapons supplied at America’s behest, to give Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led government from power. -- See also: The Gaza Bombshell, by David Rose

How to Become an Israeli Journalist

Yonatan Mendel, The London Review of Books, Palestine Monitor 3/3/2008
      A year ago I applied for the job of Occupied Territories correspondent at Ma’ariv, an Israeli newspaper. I speak Arabic and have taught in Palestinian schools and taken part in many joint Jewish-Palestinian projects. At my interview the boss asked how I could possibly be objective. I had spent too much time with Palestinians; I was bound to be biased in their favour. I didn’t get the job. My next interview was with Walla, Israel’s most popular website. This time I did get the job and I became Walla’s Middle East correspondent. I soon understood what Tamar Liebes, the director of the Smart Institute of Communication at the Hebrew University, meant when she said: ‘Journalists and publishers see themselves as actors within the Zionist movement, not as critical outsiders.’
     This is not to say that Israeli journalism is not professional. Corruption, social decay and dishonesty are pursued with commendable determination by newspapers, TV and radio. That Israelis heard exactly what former President Katsav did or didn’t do with his secretaries proves that the media are performing their watchdog role, even at the risk of causing national and international embarrassment. Ehud Olmert’s shady apartment deal, the business of Ariel Sharon’s mysterious Greek island, Binyamin Netanyahu’s secret love affair, Yitzhak Rabin’s secret American bank account: all of these are freely discussed by the Israeli media.
     When it comes to ‘security’ there is no such freedom. It’s ‘us’ and ‘them’, the IDF and the ‘enemy’; military discourse, which is the only discourse allowed, trumps any other possible narrative. It’s not that Israeli journalists are following orders, or a written code: just that they’d rather think well of their security forces.