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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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5 March 2008


Infant girl, senior Islamic Jihad leader killed in Israeli incursion in southern Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 3/5/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli forces killed a two-week-old infant in the southern Gaza Strip in an incursion that also killed a senior leader of Islamic Jihad on Tuesday evening. Yousif Smairi, a leader in Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, was found dead, his body riddled with bullets after Israeli forces invaded the town of Al-Qarara, near the city of Khan Younis, sources in Islamic Jihad said. The sources said Smairi appeared to have been shot at close range, suggesting a summary execution. Islamic Jihad called the killing "cold-blooded. Smairi was in his thirties. Israeli military sources claimed that the operation in Al-Qarara was part of their efforts to stop what they called "terrorist assaults" at the borders between Israel and the Gaza Strip. They reaffirmed that such incursions will continue in the future.

MK Eitam to Arab MKs: One day we will expel you from Israel
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 3/5/2008
Tempers flared Wednesday during Knesset plenary session when National Union MK Effie Eitam told Arab MKs that "one day we will expel you from this house, and from the national home of the Jewish people." Eitam expressed his anger at Tuesday’s rally in Umm al-Fahm, where demonstrators chanted slogans calling Israel "a Zionazi state" and urging "Gaza martyrs" to carry on with their struggle. "No sane democracy can put up with acts of treason during wartime," Eitam said. "We have to drive you out, as well as everyone else who took part in yesterday’s unruly, reckless and treacherous anti-Israel diatribe." Balad Chairman MK Jamal Zahalka heckled him in turn: "You’re a madman, a miserable character, a racist," and was ejected from the debate. Ra’am-Ta’al MK Taleb El-Sana said Eitam should be imprisoned and court-martialed for his conduct as a senior IDF officer during the first Intifada.

Israeli forces abduct 26 Palestinians in the West Bank, continue closures
Ma’an News Agency 3/5/2008
Qalqilia – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized 26 Palestinians on Wednesday morning across the central and northern West Bank under the pretext of security concerns. Israeli sources said that 11 of the detainees are from Jenin, in the northern West Bank, four are from the town of Al-Far’a, north of the city of Nablus, and five are from Ramallah, in the central West Bank. Israeli troops have also sealed off the northern West Bank district of Qalqilia, and have continued the curfew on the town of Azzun, in the eastern part of Qalqilia district, for the third day. The main entrance to the town has been closed for three consecutive weeks. [end]

Rice ends Mideast trip amid new Israeli violence
Middle East Online 3/5/2008
TEL AVIV - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is to wrap up her latest Middle East peace bid on Wednesday only hours after Israeli troops briefly rolled into the Gaza Strip in another deadly incursion. Rice had been meeting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem on Tuesday night when Israeli forces backed by helicopters clashed with Hamas gunmen after several tanks entered Gaza, witnesses said. A 20-day-old girl became the latest of Palestinian civilians killed by Israel, including at least 23 Palestinian children killed since last week, raising new worries about peace prospects after Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas broke off all contacts with Israel on Sunday over killing that had left more than 120 Palestinians dead. A senior Islamic Jihad militant was killed and 10 Palestinians, including at least three gunmen, were wounded in the Tuesday night fighting, after two had been killed earlier in the day.

Hamas political leader Mash’al: Gaza-Israel ceasefire must be bilateral
Ma’an News Agency 3/5/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The exiled head of Hamas’ politburo, Khalid Mash’al, has rejected a proposal by the Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Mousa, suggesting that Hamas unilaterally stop firing homemade projectiles at Israeli towns bordering the Gaza Strip, Arab diplomatic sources said on Tuesday. Mash’al insisted that any ceasefire must be bilateral, meaning that Israel should halt its attacks on Gaza in exchange for Hamas halting the launch of the projectiles. Mash’al and Mousa met a few days ago in Damascus. Sources who knew the outcome of the meeting said that Hamas also insisted that Israel should not have any role, physical or electronic, in operating the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. In addition, the sources said, Hamas insists that the European monitors stationed at the crossing should be based in the Egyptian border city of Al-Arish,...

House of Representatives condemns rocket attacks on Israel
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 3/5/2008
House members endorse resolution condemning rocket fire from Gaza by sweeping majority, saying attacks constitute violation of human rights, international law - WASHINGTON - The United States House of Representatives endorsed Wednesday a resolution condemning the rocket attacks on Israel, stating that the firing of rockets on civilian population constituted a blatant violation of human rights and international law. A sweeping majority of 404 House members endorsed the resolution, while one voted against it and four abstained. In the resolution, the House of Representatives expressed support for Israel’s sovereign right to defend its territory against rocket attacks and called on President George W. Bush to instruct the US envoy to the UN to push for a UN resolution condemning the Palestinian terror.

Palestinian killed, Israeli hurt in drive-by shooting in W. Bank
Yuval Azoulay and Avi Issacharoffs, Ha’aretz 3/6/2008
A 40-year-old Palestinian man was killed and an Israeli civilian sustained moderate-to-serious injuries in a drive-by shooting Wednesday in the village of Idna, west of Hebron. Defense authorities are checking whether this was an attempted terror attack against Jews, or a local clan conflict. Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack in a telephone call to the Palestinian news agency Maan, and said it was an act of revenge for events in Gaza. The Israeli came to the village to sell his car to a local, Mohammad Nofal. As they were standing on the side of the road, they came under fire from a passing Palestinian car. The Israeli, who was hit in the stomach, drove his car to the Tarqumiyeh checkpoint and reported the attack to the soldiers on duty.

Conditions in Gaza ’the worst since 1967’
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 3/5/2008
The British Government should end its boycott of Hamas and work to lift a crippling blockade of Gaza which has left humanitarian conditions at their worst level for 40 years, the top UK charities say today. The call on Britain to spearhead a radical change of EU policy by promoting reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah comes in a stark report that describes the Gaza Strip overwhelmed by steeply rising poverty, power cuts of up to 12 hours a day, and water and sewage systems close to collapse. The report condemns rocket attacks on Israel but warns that the "failing" international policy of isolating Hamas has not "reaped any benefits". Instead both the UK Government and the EU should begin a "political dialogue with all Palestinian parties" as a first step towards the establishment of a "credible" peace process with Israel involving both the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel Says will Take Further Action in Gaza Despite Pullout
Reuters, MIFTAH 3/5/2008
Hamas declared victory after Israeli troops pulled out of the Gaza Strip on Monday following a US appeal to end days of fighting that killed more than 100 Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said despite the culmination of the five-day operation, in which two Israeli soldiers were killed, Israel would take further action in the Gaza Strip until cross-border rocket fire was cut significantly. The withdrawal came in time for a two-day visit, beginning on Tuesday, by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a driving force behind peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that have so far shown little progress. “The blood of Gaza’s children has achieved victory and occupation will be removed,” Hamas’ Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement. Hamas, which seized the Gaza Strip from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fateh faction in June, vowed to continue firing rockets into Israel. It launched one into the main southern city of Ashkelon shortly after the troops withdrew, wounding one person.

Cabinet to IDF: Continue operations to halt rocket fire
Barak Ravid, and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 3/5/2008
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired ten rockets at southern Israel on Wednesday, as the security cabinet met in Jerusalem and voted to press onward with military operations against Hamas. Eight Qassam rockets slammed into open areas in the western Negev and two rockets exploded inside Palestinian territory. There were no reports of injuries or damage in any of the attacks. Two mortar shells were also fired at Israel. The military operations will continue to target areas from which rockets are fired as well as terrorist organizations and Hamas institutions in the Strip, and specific targets will be approved by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. The primary objectives of the operation are to end the rocket fire and other terror activity in Gaza, reduce arms smuggling...

Cabinet tells IDF to devise plan to completely cease rocket fire
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 3/5/2008
Ministers in political-security cabinet tell IDF to design program for putting total end to ongoing rocket fire on Israel’s south; Vice Premier Ramon calls for unilateral ceasefire - The national security cabinet instructed the IDF to present it with a plan for putting a complete end to rocket fire emanating from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday afternoon. In the past, IDF incursions into the Palestinian enclave aimed to reduce rocket attacks without totally halting them. The cabinet ministers instructed the IDF to act against known Qassam rocket launching areas as well as the centers for their manufacture and storage. The officials also approved plans to damage Hamas institutions in Gaza but said that the prime, defense and foreign ministers would have to personally authorize such attacks. The ministers also agreed to limit Hamas’ growth in power through...

Israeli soldiers fire at Palestinian taxi driver near Ramallah
Ma’an News Agency 3/5/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Israeli border guards on Wednesday attacked a Palestinian taxi driver on his way from the West Bank village of Rantis to the city of Ramallah. The taxi driver, 43-year-old Jawdat Shaladwa, told Ma’an that he was driving his taxi close to three Israeli military jeeps, when a soldier fired a clip of rubber-coated metal bullets at the taxi, smashing the front windshield." Fortunately, the windshield was fortified with a plastic coat which reduced the effect of the bullets which hit me in the neck, yet I did not need to be hospitalized," explained Shaladwa. He said the attack was not unprecedented as the Israeli soldiers haven often attacked drivers and try to provoke them by impeding their movement from Rantis to Ramallah.

Jewish fanatics desecrate historical mosque
Palestinian Information Center 3/5/2008
YAFFA, (PIC)-- Jewish fanatics on Tuesday broke into and ransacked the yards of the historical Hasan Bek Mosque in Yaffa north of Palestine occupied in 1948, the Aqsa Foundation reported. The AF, which caters for Islamic holy shrines in occupied Palestine, described as "serious" the "sinful attack" especially when this particular Mosque was the target of several attacks in the past. It noted that many other Islamic holy places were targeted by Jewish fanatics, describing the attacks as "racist". The Foundation condemned the attack and held the Israeli occupation authority fully responsible for the incident and all similar incidents. [end]

Israeli shot south of Hebron
Ynet reporters, YNetNews 3/5/2008
Israeli citizen sustains moderate wounds after being shot near Palestinian village south of Hebron. Meanwhile, Palestinian sources say local man was killed in place. IDF claims Israeli entered area to sell his car, shot during altercation - An Israeli citizen was moderately injured Wednesday after he was shot in the stomach near the Palestinian village of Eidna, south of Hebron. Sources in the West Bank town reported that a local man - Muhammad Salamiyah - was shot to death in the same incident, and that another resident was injured. It is still unclear whether the incident was a shooting attack, or an altercation gone awry. According to IDF sources, the man entered the village in a bid to sell his car to one of the locals, and was shot during a quarrel with one of the residents. Meanwhile, Palestinian sources claimed that the Israeli man was the Palestinian’s employer.

Agriculture losses in IOF incursion estimated at quarter of a million dollars
Palestinian Information Center 3/5/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The agriculture ministry in the PA caretaker government in Gaza announced on Wednesday that farmers’ losses in the latest IOF incursion in Jabalia, northern Gaza, had reached around quarter of a million dollars. The ministry statement said that the losses were incurred on cultivated land lots not more than a square kilometer. It explained that the losses included destroying olive, citrus, palm trees and other fruits in addition to direct losses in agriculture installations and livestock ranches. The ministry had earlier announced that the agriculture sector’s losses due to Israeli aggressions in February had reached about half a million dollars in the northern, central and southern districts of the Strip. The ministry called on all international and legal organizations to document the Israeli violations of the Palestinian agriculture sector, and asked the Arab...

Hamas vows reprisal to the IOF murder of Palestinian children
Palestinian Information Center 3/5/2008
KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Wednesday vowed to retaliate strongly to the IOF troops’ massacres in the Gaza Strip especially the shedding of innocent children’s blood. A statement issued by the Movement’s office in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, said that the "Nazi entity" would pay a heavy price for the killing of Palestinian children and would regret the day when it shed this innocent blood. It noted that Israeli occupation does not care less about international laws that stipulate sparing children and civilians at times of military action. Hamas underlined that Israeli occupation is encouraged by Arab, Islamic and international silence vis-à-vis those crimes. The Movement finally held the IOA fully responsible for consequences of its crimes along with all those who watch idly.

Fuel shortages continue to hamper basic functions in Gaza – UN aid agency
United Nations News Service, ReliefWeb 3/4/2008
The Gaza Strip continues to be plagued by fuel shortages, leaving many ambulances unable to function and ensuring most residents have only an intermittent water supply, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) reported today. Some 30 out of 87 ambulances run by the Health Ministry and the Red Crescent in Gaza cannot operate because of the lack of fuel, UNRWA said, while all 140 water wells in the area have now run out of fuel. The fuel shortages have been a persistent problem because of Israel’s tight restrictions on the passage of goods into or out of Gaza since the middle of last year, and senior UN officials have called on Israel to ease those restrictions to allow the passage of goods needed for basic functions. The situation is particularly difficult in the wake of the upsurge of violence over the past week that has led...

Hayya: QB used small part of its defense power against the IOF troops
Palestinian Information Center 3/5/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Khalil Hayya, a prominent Hamas leader, stated on Tuesday that the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas used only a small portion of its defense power during its last confrontations with the IOF troops in the southern Gaza Strip, adding that the pain would be stronger than before if Israel dared to invade the Strip again. The Hamas leader was speaking in a festival in honor of Palestinian martyrs organized by the students union of the Islamic university in Gaza and attended by a number of MPs, students and citizens. Dr. Hayya underlined that the Qassam Brigades had not yet started the first phase of its confrontations with the Israeli occupation or used its full strength, adding that the Brigades still keeps a lot of surprises hidden for the victory day. For his part, Dr. Ismail Radwan, the dean of students affairs, underscored that the Palestinian people...

Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades clash with Israeli forces, launch projectiles
Ma’an News Agency 3/5/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, said that a group of their fighters clashed with Israeli troops near a cemetery in the eastern part of Gaza City on Wednesday. They also claimed responsibility for launching two homemade projectiles at the Israeli towns of Sderot, near the northeastern border of the Gaza Strip, and Ashkelon, north of Gaza. They said in a statement that they will continue to attack Israeli towns bordering the Gaza Strip and to resist the occupation. [end]

Body recovered in Jabalia brings toll to 129 in Gaza incursion
Ma’an News Agency 3/5/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The corpse of a Palestinian man found buried in the Gaza Strip raises the death toll of Israel’s five-day incursion that ended Monday to 129. Palestinian medics found the body of 45-year-old Na’im Hamdiyya in the area of Izbat Abid Rabbu in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip. Muawiya Hasanain, the director of ambulance and emergency services in the Palestinian Health Ministry said the victim appeared to have been killed three days ago during the Israeli incursion. [end]

Baby dies as Israel re-enters Gaza
Al Jazeera 3/4/2008
A one-month-old baby girl has been killed in crossfire after Israeli forces re-entered Gaza, Palestinian officials have said. A senior Islamic Jihad fighter also died after soldiers in 25 armoured vehicles entered the territory on Tuesday night and clashed with Palestinian fighters before pulling back about two hours later. Several Islamic Jihad fighters were also arrested in the operation. The clashes come just a day after Israel ended a six-day ground operation in Gaza which left 120 Palestinians dead. Israeli defence officials said it was a "pinpoint’" operation aimed at fighters but medics said the baby was killed in the crossfire and at least eight fighters and three civilians were wounded. The armoured column entered Gaza through the Kissufim crossing. Witnesses said that, during the clashes, Israeli tanks fired shells and helicopters fired missiles.

IOF troops murder infant girl, wound her mother in central Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 3/5/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The IOF troops murdered a 20-day-old infant girl called Amira Abu Asr, wounded her mother and assassinated a leader affiliated with the Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad Movement, during their incursion into the Abu Al-Ajeen village to the east of Deir Al-Balah, central Gaza Strip. Palestinian medical and local sources told the PIC reporter that the infant was shot in the head; whereas, her mother was seriously wounded and her father was kidnapped during their visit to the house of Yousef Al-Samiri, a prominent Islamic Jihad leader. Eyewitnesses explained that Israeli special forces reinforced by a number of tanks and air cover invaded the villages of Al-Karara and Abu Al-Ajeen and stormed the Samiri’s house amid intensive gunfire, adding that the IOF troops also kidnapped Samiri’s elder son and wounded a Palestinian citizen.

Rocket salvos hit southern Israel
Roi Mandel, YNetNews 3/5/2008
Nine rockets land in open fields in western Negev, south of Ashkelon; no injuries or damage reported. Islamic Jihad’s al-Quds Brigades claim responsibility for shooting - Nine rockets were fired at Israel from the northern Gaza Strip Wednesday afternoon, landing in open fields near Sderot and in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. One of the rockets landed in Palestinian territory. The first six rockets were fired shortly after 4 pm, while the seventh landed within the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council about two hours later. At approximately 7:15 pm two Qassam rockets landed near a chicken coop in a western Negev kibbutz. No injuries were reported in the attacks. The Islamic Jihad’s al-Quds Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack. Police officials said that the landing site of one of the rockets has not been located yet, and warned that...

Israel Pulls Troops from Northern Gaza
Taghreed El-khodary And Isabel Kershner, MIFTAH 3/5/2008
As Israel withdrew its forces from the northern Gaza Strip yesterday after a two-day assault on Hamas militants, and as Palestinians emerged from their houses to inspect the damage, Hamas leaders seemed to be following the playbook of their Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, in its 2006 war with Israel. Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas in Gaza, said that like Hezbollah, Hamas had "gone from the stone to the rocket." "What we learned from Hezbollah," he said, "is that resistance is a choice that can work." The clearest example of echoing Hezbollah came yesterday when thousands attended a so-called victory rally, and Mahmoud Zahar, an influential Hamas leader, came out of hiding to tell the rallygoers that his organization would rebuild any house that had been damaged by the strikes. Holding up his group as the source of reconstruction as well as resistance is precisely the message that brought

1,000 damage claims filed in less than a week by Ashkelon and Sderot residents
Moti Bassok, Ha’aretz 3/6/2008
More than 700 claims for property damage in Sderot and communities bordering the Gaza Strip were filed with the tax authorities in the past week, and another 260 were filed by Ashkelon residents. All resulted from the rocket attacks. According to tax-authority figures based on the claims, from Saturday through Tuesday, 113 cars and 565 buildings were damaged by Qassam rockets near Gaza. There were also 28 claims for damage to agricultural goods and property. The Qassams and Grads in Ashkelon damaged at least 30 cars and 230 buildings, but final numbers are not yet in. Yesterday, Finance Minister Roni Bar-On presented the regulations for compensating Sderot- and Gaza-area businesses for indirect damages. The new regulations, presented to the Knesset Finance Committee, will take effect upon approval by the committee.

Gov’t places 120 fortified bus stops in rocket-plagued Sderot
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 3/5/2008
The Defense Ministry deployed 120 fortified bus stops in Sderot Wednesday, built to protect citizens from Qassam rocket fire. The decision to safeguard the bus stops was made by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, following his visit to Sderot last week. The bus stops, which are made of a think layer of cement, were placed all over the rocket-plagued city." We have discovered that most of the injuries and fatalities involving Qassam rockets were caused by shrapnel wounds while the victims were out on the street," a Defense Ministry official said. "These bus stops will protect not only people who are waiting for the bus but also those who are caught outside when the ’Color Red’ alert goes off." The ministry is also examining the possible fortification of farmers’ packing houses in the communities surrounding Ashkelon as well as bolstering the amount of security forces in the area.

Suicide bomber ’resistant’ buses being tested in Jerusalem
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 3/5/2008
Jerusalem has become a testing ground for four armored buses designed to protect passengers from suicide bombers, officials said Wednesday. The new buses are equipped with bomb-resistant windows and doors, a turnstile that allows the driver to inspect the passengers as they get on the bus and a back door designed for exit only. The buses also have crowd control equipment for emergencies, said Ronit Eckstein, a spokeswoman for the Israel Military Industries, which developed the buses. No other information, such as additional security features, bus routes or cost would be made public for security reasons, she said. Between 2001 and 2004, 77 passengers were killed in six bombings aboard Jerusalem buses, carried out by Palestinian attackers who detonated explosives they were carrying after boarding the buses.

Woman lightly hurt by rocks thrown at her car
Jerusalem Post 3/5/2008
ne woman was lightly wounded and another woman very lightly wounded in separate rock-throwing incidents late Wednesday evening. An Israeli woman was lightly hurt after Palestinians threw rocks at her car near the village of Otzarin, southwest of Nablus. She received first aid at the scene and was evacuated to a hospital. In Afula, rocks were thrown at an Egged bus. One woman reportedly felt unwell after the attack and was taken to a local hospital. Several children were spotted fleeing the scene, Israel Radio reported. Also in the North, a rock was thrown at a police car in Nazareth. In the West Bank, Molotov cocktails were thrown at Israeli vehicles near Bethlehem, Nablus, and Kalkilya.

Jabaliya buries its dead
Report, PCHR, Electronic Intifada 3/5/2008
East Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip bore the brunt of Israel’s latest military incursion into Gaza. The incursion, which was launched in the early hours of Thursday 28 February and lasted four days and nights. In that time Israeli troops killed 108 Palestinians, including 54 unarmed civilians, 26 of whom were children. The Palestinians who live in and around Abed Rabbo Street in east Jabaliya suffered intense air strikes by F-16 planes and helicopters, tank shelling, snipers, and having their houses invaded and vandalized by Israeli soldiers, who tied adults up with ropes, or else locked whole families into single rooms in order to use their homes as sniper towers to target local Palestinian fighters. Sixteen-year-old Jacqueline Abu Shbak and her fourteen year old brother, Iyad, both lived on Abed Rabbo Street with their mother and three other young brothers and sisters.

Khan Younis buries its dead
Ma’an News Agency 3/5/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Scores of Palestinians in Khan Younis and Gaza City took place in the funeral procession for Yousif Smairi, a leader of Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades, and Amira Abu Asir, a two-week-old baby girl. Both were killed when Israeli forces invaded the town of Al-Qarara, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Tuesday evening. Gunmen fired into the air in anger as they lead the procession, and mourners shouted slogans denouncing Israeli atrocities, especially the targeting of women and children, and called on Palestinian resistance fighters to retaliate. [end]

Sanctions causing Gaza to implode, say rights groups
Ian Black, The Guardian 3/6/2008
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are living through their worst humanitarian crisis since the 1967 war because of the severe restrictions imposed by Israel since the Islamist movement Hamas seized power, a report says today. Movement is all but impossible and supplies of food and water, sewage treatment and basic healthcare can no longer be taken for granted. The economy has collapsed, unemployment is expected to rise to 50%, hospitals are suffering 12-hour power cuts and schools are failing - all creating a "humanitarian implosion", according to a coalition of eight UK humanitarian and human rights groups. The data was collated before the recent escalation in Hamas rocket fire and Israel’s incursion, which saw 106 Palestinians, at least half of them civilians, killed in five days alone. One Israeli civilian and two soldiers were killed in the same period The situation in Gaza is "man-made,

Eitam to Arab MKs: Day will come when we will banish you
Zvi Lavi, YNetNews 3/5/2008
Religious MK says Arab lawmakers who participated in ’treacherous’ Umm al-Fahm protest against IDF operation should be ’expelled to Gaza’; El-Sana: Eitam should stand trial for his actions during first intifada - Harsh words were exchanged Wednesday as Knesset Member Effie Eitam (National Union-NRP) addressed remarks made by a number of Arab lawmakers during a rally in the northern town of Umm al-Fahm in protest of IDF activity in Gaza. "The day will come when we will banish you from this house (Knesset) and the national home," Eitam said during his speech, "no sane democratic nation can ignore such treachery at a time of war. We must expel you and all those who participated in the unruly and treacherous rally against the State of Israel that took place at Umm al-Fahm." You should be expelled to Gaza, where your people, who are fighting us, dwell; that is where you belong," the MK said.

Thousands attend Umm al-Fahm solidarity demonstration with Gaza
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 3/6/2008
"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 yesterday 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.

Ain al-Hilweh children protest attacks on Gaza
Mohammed Zaatari, Daily Star 3/6/2008
SIDON: Hundreds of children from across Lebanon took part in a protest at the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp on Wednesday against Israel’s deadly military attacks in Gaza. Israel’s "incursions" into Hamas-controlled Gaza have killed more than 120 Palestinians in the past week, over half of whom were civilians. Poor governance, the increasing isolation of Hamas and Palestinian in-fighting have worsened the humanitarian situation of Palestinians in Gaza, and this has set off a series of protests in Lebanon and elsewhere. The protest was marked by singing of revolutionary songs and poetry recitals praising the glory of Palestine, but stronger messages were also sent to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert." We have united as children, now take us as an example and symbol," said one placard. One sign directed toward feuding Palestinian factions said: "We ask of you unity, which is the key to victory.

Palestinian military groups active in the Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 3/5/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Several Palestinian military groups launched homemade projectiles at Israeli towns and fired mortar shells at Israeli military vehicles bordering the Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning. The military wing of Islamic Jihad, the Al-Quds Brigades, claimed responsibility for launching two projectiles at the Israeli town of Sderot, as well as firing four mortar shells at Israeli military vehicles stationed near the military site in Kisufim. The armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, said that they launched projectiles at Kfar Aza, an Israeli town near the northeastern border of the Gaza Strip. Separately, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades and the Al-Quds Brigades claimed in a joint statement that they fired two mortar shells at Israeli military vehicles near Kisufim.

Police ordered to arrest 300 infiltrators each day
Roni Lifshitz, YNetNews 3/5/2008
Following orders from prime minister, Immigration Administration launches operation that would see 300 infiltrators to Israel arrested each day. Court system, Prison Service also prepare for operation - The Immigration Administration has launched a special operation during which 300 people who have infiltrated Israel through the Egyptian border will be arrested each day. A document distributed by the police’s Branch of Operations and obtained by Ynet reveled that each infiltrator arrested would be handed over to the Population Authority, which will determine whether to release or deport him. As part of this operation, the court system is preparing to increase its capacity and the Israel Prison Service has also designated extra lockup facilities for this purpose. According to the document, in the course of the operation officers will approach every...

MP Mariam Saleh to stand trial at Israeli high court
Palestinian Information Center 3/5/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- The lawyer of the Nafha society defending human and prisoners’ rights said on Wednesday that the Israeli high court in occupied Jerusalem is to open a hearing into the case of detained Palestinian MP Dr. Mariam Saleh on Thursday. The society described the trial as a "trial of legitimacy and democracy and a flagrant intervention in the results of the elections in January 2006". It accused occupation of committing war crimes then trying to cover them up. The society appealed to journalists, Arab members of the Israeli parliament and the Jerusalem inhabitants to head to the court and to express solidarity with the detained female MP along with the detention without trial or charge of 51 other Palestinian deputies and ex-ministers. Saleh was arrested from her home in Ramallah on 12/11/2007 after savagely breaking into it.

The Occupation destroys two homes in Beit Hanina
Stop The Wall 3/5/2008
On February 24th, the Occupation military demolished two homes located in the Wad al-Dam neighbourhood in Beit Hanina. The homes, which belonged to the brothers Nidal and Shadi Muttwar and were still being constructed, were razed under the pretext that they lacked a building permit. During the afternoon, a large military force consisting of police and border police entered the area and cordoned off the neighbourhood. Following this, they commenced with the demolition work. The two homes, which were located next to one another in the same building, had a size of 360 square meters. Each consisted of four rooms and a balcony, with the total cost estimated at around 150,000 NIS. In order to build and maintain their presence in the city, Palestinian residents often attempt to obtain building permits.

Israeli Arab jailed for 16 years over ’honor killing’ of his sister
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 3/6/2008
A Tel Aviv court has sentenced an Israeli Arab man to 16 years in prison for involvement in the murder of his sister in an "honor killing," after several female relatives took the rare step of testifying against him, according to court documents. Hamda Abu Ghanem was the ninth woman killed in the clan in recent years by men in the family. She was shot in January last year as she slept at her parents’ home in a Muslim neighborhood of Ramle, a mixed Jewish-Arab town of 65,000 in central Israel. Honor killings refer to murder of women by relatives for allegedly sullying the good name of the family, usually because of sexual misdeeds. Incriminating evidence against the brother, Kamil Abu Ghanem, included an account by an aunt who said she saw him enter the family home, heard shots, and then saw him flee the area.

Palestinians’ bittersweet homecoming in Lebanon
William Wheeler, Christian Science Monitor, ReliefWeb 3/5/2008
Residents started returning Monday to the Nahr al-Bared camp, which was damaged in fighting last year. - Nahr al-Bared, Lebanon - Rabie Taha’s first sign of hope has arrived: 300 prefabricated homes that families are moving into this week on a lot at Nahr al-Bared, the Palestinian refugee camp largely destroyed in fighting last summer between Lebanese soldiers and radical Islamic militants. After nine months of sleeping on crowded classroom floors of a nearby refugee camp, Mr. Taha’s family is among those slated to move into the units in their former community. The move is part of a plan to return 1,500 of the 5,000 families still displaced by August. A prefab school also opened to students Monday. For many refugees, the joy of returning is dampened by lingering bitterness over the extensive damage at the camp and the half-year delay in returning.

Palestinians in 1948 lands protest Gaza massacre, call for national unity
Palestinian Information Center 3/5/2008
UM AL-FAHEM, (PIC)-- Thousands of Palestinians in the 1948 occupied lands took part Tuesday in a massive rally organized by the higher Arab committee in Um Al-Fahem city to demonstrate solidarity with Gaza. The march, which brought together almost 15,000 participants, started from Um Al-Fahem municipality building and headed to a school where they listened to speeches by the city’s municipality mayor Sheikh Hashem Abdul Rahman and chairman of the committee Shawki Khatib. Both denounced the IOF bloodbath in Gaza and called for Palestinian national cohesion in face of aggression. Participants held Palestinian flags and slogans denouncing the IOF crimes and the siege along with photos of Palestinian children who were killed in the IOF onslaught.

Report on IOF’s Operation Warm Winter in the Gaza Strip 27 Febr – 03 Mar, 2008
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, ReliefWeb 3/3/2008
From 27 February – 3 March 2008, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) continued its military operations and escalated its aggression the Gaza Strip; including civilians and civilian property. IOF attacks caused the deaths of 236 Palestinians since the beginning of 2008, including 37 children and 16 women. During ’Operation Warm Winter", which occurred between 27 February and 3 March 2008, 107 Palestinians were killed including 27 children and six women. Over 200 people were also injured; more than one fourth of whom were children. Tens of homes and other structures were destroyed. The operation comes amid an ongoing blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip by the IOF. This blockade, which is not confined only to restricting freedom of movement of individuals and goods; rather it extends to reach humanitarian cases and aid, including fuel and electricity.

The OIC launches a humanitarian relief campaign for Gaza
The Organization of the Islamic Conference, ReliefWeb 3/3/2008
Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, launched yesterday evening in the Jordanian capital, Amman, the first caravan for humanitarian assistance extended by the OIC to the Palestinian people in Gaza Strip. In his statement delivered on this occasion, the Secretary General announced the official launching of the campaign, reiterating that it will continue in order to alleviate the humanitarian crisis facing the Strip as a result of the continued Israeli blockade and aggression against it. The Secretary General appealed to all Member States and financial and charitable institutions in the Islamic world, to help the OIC make the campaign a success by providing financial and material support. He indicated that the Organization will launch an extensive information campaign for this purpose.

PA peace talks likely to resume today
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 3/6/2008
The Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams are likely to meet today, following the announcement yesterday by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of a resumption in talks. The talks were interrupted at the beginning of the week due to the escalation in Gaza. Rice made her announcement at a joint press conference in Jerusalem with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. The committee, whose purpose is to monitor the implementation of the road map, is chaired by Gen. William Fraser, who was appointed by Rice. Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad are also onboard. Rice told the press conference she was concerned about the situation in the West Bank. She said that so far the parties had not done enough to meet their obligations according to the road map in terms of the Palestinians fighting terror and the Israelis evacuating outposts.

Jerusalem official: Peace talks may resume as early as Thursday
Avi Issacharoffs, and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 3/6/2008
The stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians may resume as early as Thursday, a senior official in Jerusalem said Wednesday evening. According to the official, a low-level meeting will be held Thursday while efforts to coordinate a meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will continue in the coming days. A meeting will also be set up between chief negotiators Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and the top Palestinian advisor Ahmed Qureia. Earlier Wednesday, Abbas agreed to resume peace talks with Israel, only hours after he conditioned talks on a cease-fire with Israel in the Gaza Strip. Abbas announced his change of heart in a statement from his West Bank headquarters. "The peace process is a strategic choice and we have the intention of resuming the peace process.

Olmert, Abbas to resume talks despite massacres
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 3/6/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday secured a promise from Israel and the Palestinians to resume peace talks despite Israel’s continuing military strikes in Gaza. "I’ve been informed by the parties that they intend to resume the negotiations," Rice said at the end of a two-day trip aimed at mending peace efforts hobbled by a deadly Israeli blitz on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Speaking to journalists after meeting her Israeli counterpart, Tzipi Livni, Rice did not give a date for the resumption of talks, but said the two sides "are in contact with each other how to bring this about." Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas confirmed he intended to resume the talks he froze over the weekend to protest the attacks on Gaza. Israel has been insisting the talks carry on despite the strikes.

New Israeli Gaza Incursion Overshadows Rice Peace Push
Agence France Presse, MIFTAH 3/5/2008
Israel launched a brief incursion into Gaza on Tuesday, overshadowing a new peace push by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who held talks at the time in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Palestinian medics said the Israelis shot dead a 20-day-old baby girl during exchanges of fire with gunmen, and that 10 people had been wounded, including at least three gunmen. Rice had earlier met moderate Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, who broke off all contacts with Israel on Sunday after a previous incursion killed more than 120 people, including 22 children. He responded to her call for renewed talks with a demand for a comprehensive ceasefire. But as the top US diplomat met Olmert, Israeli forces backed by helicopters clashed with Hamas gunmen after several armoured vehicles entered Gaza east of the city of Khan Yunis. The Israeli forces withdrew several hours later after arresting three people. Among them were the son of senior Islamic Jihad official Abu Muaz.

Abbas conditions resumption of talks on ceasefire
Reuters, YNetNews 3/5/2008
’PA-Israeli negotiations must be resumed, but after reaching calm,’ Palestinian president tells reporters in Ramallah - RAMALLAH, West Bank - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday conditioned a resumption of peace talks with Israel on reaching a ceasefire in fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants." Certainly the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations must be resumed, but after reaching calm," he told reporters, a day after meeting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who urged him to resume the negotiations. Abbas froze statehood talks with Israel on Sunday in protest at an Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip that killed more than 120 Palestinians. Medical workers said about half of those killed were civilians. Israel ended the five-day offensive on Monday but threatened to send troops back into the Hamas-controlled territory if cross-border rocket attacks continued.

Rice to Raise Humanitarian Issues with Israelis
Glenn Kessler, MIFTAH 3/5/2008
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday she planned to tell Israeli officials to ease the humanitarian suffering in the Gaza Strip and avoid attacks that might kill civilians, but she repeatedly refused to say whether she supported a cease-fire." Call it what you will, we want the violence to stop," Rice told reporters traveling with her as she headed to the region during some of the worst Israeli-Palestinian violence in years. She asserted that Hamas, which controls Gaza, is trying to disrupt the nascent peace process the Bush administration launched last year in Annapolis." First and foremost, Hamas needs to stop firing rockets into Israeli cities," Rice said. At the same time, she said, "Israelis have to be very concerned about the innocent people in Gaza who were caught in this crossfire, and the Israelis need to be very concerned about the humanitarian situation. Those are discussions we’re going to have."

Hamas: Rice’s statements gives cover to Israel’s crimes and US’s complicity
Palestinian Information Center 3/5/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement strongly denounced on Tuesday the statements of American secretary of state Condoleezza Rice in which she held Hamas responsible for what happened in Gaza, considering these statements an American attempt to absolve Israel from its atrocities in the Strip and to cover for the American complicity. In a press conference, Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, stated that the Palestinian resistance rockets are a natural reaction to the ongoing Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people. "The resistance rockets will never stop until the missiles and bombs of F-16s and Apaches stop first and the siege is broken; the problem lies in the occupation, not in our people," Dr. Abu Zuhri said addressing Rice. The Hamas spokesman castigated Rice’s call for the return of negotiations between the PA and Israel, adding that any PA’s participation in negotiations...

Hamdan: Rice came to the region to patch up Israel’s failure
Palestinian Information Center 3/5/2008
BEIRUT, (PIC)-- Osama Hamdan, the Hamas representative in Lebanon, stated on Wednesday that the visit of American secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to the region is intended for patching up the failure of Israel and her allies who comply with her demands and for raising the morale of the Israeli premier who was shocked by his army’s defeat in Gaza. In a press release, Hamdan underlined that the American administration was anticipating this Israeli failure, so it sent the destroyer USS Cole off the Lebanese coast in order to tell its adversaries in the region that it stands by Israel. The Hamas leader added that the US also sent its secretary of state to put the "peace process" right and to work to re-route the negotiations because it knows well that PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to suspend talks with Israel was not a final one and expects Abbas to comply easily without providing any guarantees.

PFLP castigates Rice for clearing Israel of genocide in Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 3/5/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine has lashed out at American secretary of state Condoleezza Rice for clearing Israel of committing carnage in the Gaza Strip. A PFLP spokesman on Wednesday said that the IOF war of annihilation and scorched land policy against Palestinians is made with American supplied weapons. He charged that Rice came to the region to protect occupation and to deceive the international public opinion in addition to retaining the state of disarray in the Palestinian ranks. The PFLP spokesman warned the PA leadership and negotiating team against buying Rice’s illusion, and added that "suspension of talks" was not enough but an absolute rejection of a return to negotiations should be declared. The Palestinian people is united today more than ever before on the necessity of restoring national unity and democratic option in face of the American deception and double standards, he elaborated.

Arab ministers condemn Israeli ’crimes of war’
News agencies, YNetNews 3/5/2008
During Arab League meeting in Cairo Wednesday, Secretary-General Amr Moussa says that ’Israeli policy against the Palestinian people is based on genocide and ethnic cleansing." League also threatens to leave Nonproliferation Treaty if Israel admits it has nuclear weapons - The Arab League condemned Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip as "crimes against humanity" on Wednesday. Arab foreign ministers said they "strongly condemn the barbaric crimes that the Israeli occupation forces committed in Gaza and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories". Meeting to prepare for an Arab summit in Syria this month that is expected to focus on Gaza and Lebanon, the ministers said in a statement they were "recording these Israeli crimes as crimes of war and crimes against humanity". Israel ended a five-day Gaza military offensive on Monday in which more than 120 Palestinians and two Israeli soldiers were killed.

Arab foreign ministers grapple with Lebanon, Gaza
Daily Star 3/6/2008
Arab foreign ministers kicked off a meeting in Cairo on Wednesday with Arab League chief Amr Moussa calling for unity to end the Lebanese political crisis. "Solidarity, in the form of national reconciliation, is our only way out of the current crisis and future crises," Moussa said in his opening speech. Ministers from the 22-member league met in Cairo to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon and to prepare for this month’s summit in Damascus, which could see some leaders not attend if the Lebanese crisis is not resolved. Lebanon has been without a president since November amid feuding between the Saudi- and Western-backed ruling parliamentary majority and the opposition, backed by Syria and Iran. Egypt and Saudi Arabia accuse Syria of blocking efforts to elect a president in Lebanon, which was under Syrian control for 29 years until Damascus withdrew its troops in 2005.

Arab League condemns IDF Gaza operation as ’crime against humanity’
Reuters, Ha’aretz 3/6/2008
The Arab League on Wednesday condemned Israel Defense Forces attacks on the Gaza Strip, calling them "crimes against humanity". Arab foreign ministers said they "strongly condemn the barbaric crimes that the Israeli occupation forces committed in Gaza and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories". Meeting to prepare for an Arab summit in Syria this month that is expected to focus on Gaza and Lebanon, the ministers said in a statement they were "recording these Israeli crimes as crimes of war and crimes against humanity". Israel ended a five-day Gaza military offensive on Monday in which over 100 Palestinians and two IDF troops were killed. It has threatened to send troops back to the Hamas-run coastal territory if cross-border rocket attacks continue.

Hizbullah: We won’t start war, but are ’well prepared’
Daily Star 3/6/2008
Hizbullah is prepared for a new war with Israel, but it will not start one, deputy leader Naim Qassem said in remarks published on Wednesday. The Shiite group also issued a statement criticizing UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s reaction to recent statements from Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. Qaasem also warned that Israel would pay "a high price" in any future war. His comments, published in the daily Al-Akhbar, followed last month’s threat by Nasrallah to retaliate with "open war" against Israel for the assassination of one of his top commanders, Imad Mughniyeh. Mughniyeh was killed February 12 in a car bomb in Damascus. Hizbullah and Iran, its main backer, blamed the assassination on Israel, which denied any role in killing Mughniyeh, who was on the US most-wanted list for a string of anti-Western and anti-Israeli attacks.

Iran rearming Hezbollah via Turkey, MI says
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 3/6/2008
Iran is arming Hezbollah with missiles sent via Turkey, according to intelligence received in Israel. Turkish authorities are unaware of the arms shipments, which are in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 that brought an end to the Second Lebanon War. A senior Israeli government source said that Brigadier General Yossi Beiditz, head of the Israel Defense Forces research department, last week told European Union ambassadors in a briefing that Iran continues to transfer arms and equipment to Hezbollah, in spite of Tehran’s denials. Some of the weapons include long-range missiles that are being transfered through flights using Turkey’s airspace, as well as overland though Turkey, under the guise of civilian cargo. From Turkey, the missiles are transfered to Syria and then Lebanon. Turkey has not permitted the use of its territory for such transfers.

PM: Syria talks worth serious consideration
Yossi Verter and Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 3/6/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert believes negotiations with Syria should be seriously considered "if this would bring an end to its involvement in terrorism and extricate it from the axis of evil." Speaking at a briefing on the situation in the South to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday, Olmert said that the Syrian leadership is aware of his position. Israel is also planning to initiate a broad diplomatic effort in order to reach an agreement with Egypt on regulating the security situation along the Gaza-Sinai border, and countering arms smuggling into the Strip. The political-security cabinet instructed the foreign and defense ministries to step up contacts with Egypt on this issue. A committee member attending the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting earlier this week said that the prime minister’s comment was "not just words.

Settlers agree to evacuate several illegal West Bank outposts
Barak Ravid and Jonathan Liss, Ha’aretz 3/6/2008
Several illegal outposts will be evacuated in the next few days, under an agreement reached between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and settler leaders. This is the first stage of dismantling 26 outposts built on private Palestinian land after March 2001. Israel had promised the United States that it would evacuate these outposts to meet the conditions of the first stage of the diplomatic road map leading to a final-status agreement with the Palestinians. The evacuation agreement was reached after prolonged covert negotiations between the Yesha settlers’ council and Barak and his adviser for settlement affairs Eitan Broshi. It is based on relocating the West Bank outposts into either the large settlement blocs or in settlements near Jerusalem, under the assumption that these will remain in Israeli hands after a final-status arrangement.

French lawyers seek to go to Gaza to win Shalit’s release
Yigal Hai, Ha’aretz 3/6/2008
Two French lawyers representing Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, who was abducted by Palestinian militants in June 2006, have arrived in Israel with the intention of traveling to Gaza to negotiate his release. Stephane Zerbib and Emmanuel Altit told a Tel Aviv press conference that "in light of the situation in Gaza, it seems the Israeli authorities will not let us through tomorrow." The lawyers also said they have been lobbying European public figures and politicians to raise the profile of the abducted soldier, who is a French citizen. [end]

Noam Shalit: Let French lawyers enter Gaza
Vered Luvitch, YNetNews 3/5/2008
Father of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit and French lawyers convene press conference, stress importance of meeting with Hamas - "I have been told that the involvement of the French lawyers is likely to harm the negotiations for the release of Gilad, but there currently is momentum that we cannot overlook," Noam Shalit, father of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, said alongside lawyers he has hired at a press conference on Wednesday. In addition to being an Israel citizen, Gilad also has French citizenship. Shalit’s family hired two French attorneys last month in an attempt to meet with the Israeli soldier’s kidnappers. The two, Emmanuel Altit and Stephane Zerbib, said that they have been invited to visit the Strip in order to meet with senior Hamas members. At the press conference on Wednesday, the lawyers said that they were waiting for permission...

The ACTU condemns military attacks against Palestinian and Israeli civilians
Union Aid Abroad - Australian People for Health, Education and Development, ReliefWeb 3/5/2008
Australian union leaders are deeply concerned about the ongoing siege of Gaza and the recent military operations in Gaza and in nearby areas of Israel. Rockets from Gaza have killed and injured Israeli civilians, and since Israel launched its Hot Winter Operation on Wednesday last week, 112 Palestinians have lost their lives, many of them civilians including a large number of children and women. ACTU President Sharan Burrow is calling on the Australian government to take the urgent steps required to help parties to avoid further bloodshed and to request commitment from the Israeli Government to adhere to international laws and conventions in respect to military conduct. "International humanitarian law prohibits targeting of civilian populations under all circumstances; in this conflict, this applies to both the Israeli military and those launching rockets from Gaza" said Ms Burrow.

Chief Negotiator of the PLO meets with German officials
Ma’an News Agency 3/5/2008
Jericho – Ma’an – The Chief Negotiator of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Saeb Erekat, reaffirmed his stance that a comprehensive ceasefire in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is necessary to protect the peace negotiations at a meeting with German officials on Wednesday. During a meeting with the general manager of the German Foreign Ministry, and the German representative to the Palestinian Authority, Jorg Ranau, Erekat emphasized the importance of implementing the Road Map plan under United States supervision, especially the suspension of Israeli settlement and military activities. Erekat also said that the Arab peace initiative, proposed in Beirut in 2002, is crucial from an Arab and Palestinian point of view. He asserted that peace and stability can only be reached through a meaningful peace process which ends the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories,...

Hamas calls for international investigation over US scheme to spark civil war
Palestinian Information Center 3/5/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Ezzat Al-Resheq, a member of the Hamas political bureau, called for opening an international investigation over the involvement of the American administration and PA leaders in a scheme to ignite a civil war in Gaza and the West Bank, pointing out that dozens of Palestinians in Gaza were killed at the initiation of this conspiracy. In an exclusive statement to the PIC, Resheq underlined that if Hamas had not moved to encircle this scheme in Gaza, thousands of Palestinians would have been killed at the hands of the Fatah-affiliated mutiny trend headed by America’s man Mohamed Dahlan, adding that PA chief Mahmoud Abbas was aware of this scheme.   The US-based Vanity Fair magazine had said that it obtained confidential documents from reliable American and PA officials revealing that there was a secret scheme endorsed by American president George Bush himself to spark...

Dahlan denies report of US-backed plan to overthrow Hamas
Ma’an News Agency 3/5/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Former Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan has denied a report published in Vanity Fair magazine that he co-planned a US-backed effort to overthrow the democratically elected Hamas-led government in 2007. Dahlan told Ma’an that the administration of US President George W. Bush did not offer political support to the Palestinian Authority during his tenure as Palestinian national security advisor. The Vanity Fair article, published on Tuesday, is the most detailed account to date of long-hinted collaboration between Fatah-controlled security forces and the US government. Citing American and Palestinian officials and government documents, the article documents the existence of "a covert initiative, approved by Bush and implemented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, to provoke a Palestinian civil war.

India condemns Israel’s use of "disproportionate force" in Palestine
Ma’an News Agency 3/5/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – India condemned on Tuesday the use of "disproportionate force" by Israeli troops in Palestine and demanded an immediate end to the "unacceptable" violence in the region, the Representative Office of India in Ramallah reported in a press release." Recent events, including the disproportionate use of retaliatory force by Israel, have lead to avoidable civilian casualties, including the death of innocent children. This is unacceptable," Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said in Geneva. Minister of External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee echoed this condemnation in New Delhi and called for the violence to end, noting that both the international community and people in the region want peace. He added, "it is clear that the violence that we have seen, particularly in the recent months, cannot produce peace."

Indian ambassador to the PA visits Ma’an
Ma’an News Agency 3/5/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Indian ambassador to the Palestinian Authority, Zikrur Rahman, visited the main office of Ma’an News Agency in Bethlehem for the second time on Wednesday. Chief Editor Nasser Lahham hosted the ambassador, giving him a tour of the various departments and explaining the way in which news is reported, written and edited. Rahman also had the opportunity to watch the production and editing of the news. Talking with the employees, Rahman praised Ma’an’s work, and noted the importance of reporting news in English, the language of the international community. His visit comes after India issued a press release condemning the use of "disproportionate force" against Palestinians and demanding an immediate end to the "unacceptable" violence in the region.

Afghans protest Israel raids on Gaza
Reuters, YNetNews 3/5/2008
Five thousand people march on streets of Pul-i-Alam, call on Muslim world to provide arms, funds for Palestinians; demonstrators also condemn the reprinting of a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad in Danish papers - PUL-I-ALAM, Afghanistan - Around five thousand Afghans staged a protest on Wednesday to condemn Israeli raids on Gaza that have killed scores of Palestinians and the reprinting of a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad in Danish papers. The protest, the largest in recent days in Afghanistan, also called on the Muslim world to provide arms and funds for Palestinians against Israel and condemned plans by an anti-immigration Dutch politician to release a film on the Koran. Marching on the streets of Pul-i-Alam, the provincial capital of Logar province, the protesters included students and religious figures.

Report: Egypt to mediate ceasefire between Israel, Hamas
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 3/5/2008
Sources in Jerusalem say cabinet’s decision to wait on extensive military op in Gaza made in part in attempt to see if Cairo’s efforts to facilitate truce between fighting parties materialize -Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem revealed Wednesday that Egypt has decided to take an active role in stopping Hamas from gaining more power in Gaza Strip. Cairo, said the sources, decided to step in before Israel decides on a large-scale operation in Gaza. The Egyptians reportedly relayed a message to that effect to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who visited the country as part of her Mideast tour. Palestinian sources told the Reuters news agency that Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman will submit a ceasefire bid between Hamas and Israel by next week.

Abbas demands ceasefire; Israeli cabinet orders more attacks
Ma’an News Agency 3/5/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Before political negotiations can resume between Palestinian and Israeli officials, Israel must agree to a ceasefire immediately, Palestinian president Mahmouh Abbas said during a joint press conference in Ramallah with the president of Hungary on Tuesday. Separately, Arab foreign ministers have threatened to withdraw the Arab peace initiative proposed in Beirut in 2002 if Israel continues its attacks in the Gaza Strip. Abbas suspended talks with Israel after a massive Israeli incursion in the Gaza Strip left more than 100 Palestinians dead, more than half of them civilians. Israeli government orders more attacks Israeli Security Cabinet meanwhile gave the Israeli military a green light to continue to attack the Gaza Strip, contrary to the Palestinian Authority’s requests.

Norwegian People’s Aid Calls for an immediate ceasefire
Norwegian People''s Aid, ReliefWeb 3/5/2008
Israel must stop its attacks on the Gaza Strip. A ceasefire must be put in place with immediate effect, says Norwegian People’s Aid Secretary General, Petter Eide. Israel is demonstrating total contempt for civilian life in continuing its attacks on Palestinians in Gaza. Over the weekend we have seen tens of children killed right before our eyes. It’s shocking, says Petter Eide, emphasising that a ceasefire between the parties will also put a stop to rocket attacks against southern Israel. The numbers of killed and wounded rose minute by minute over the weekend. Hospitals were overloaded and had great difficulties in maintaining life-saving operations. There is a shortage of both blood and medicines. In addition, the shortage of fuel threatens the civilian population’s right to life and health, says Eide. At the same time, Norway proposed that a humanitarian corridor be opened...

EU gives priority to Palestinian Territories in food aid package
Ma’an News Agency 3/5/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The European Commission has included the Palestinian territories on a list of 17 locations that will be given priority in the largest food aid package ever launched by the European Union, the Commission announced on Tuesday. The 160 million euro funding decision made by the Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Department aims to meet the needs of people facing food shortages due to natural catastrophes, economic and political crises, and armed conflicts. The Commission estimates that around 18. 7 million people will benefit directly from this new decision. Beneficiaries will include refugees, internally displaced people, and host communities in areas affected by population displacement. Children and young mothers will be given priority. Most of the projects funded under this decision will be implemented through the UN’s World Food Programme.

US pledges near 150 million dollars to UNRWA
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in, ReliefWeb 3/5/2008
The U.S. government pledge to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has reached $148 million for 2008. This amount includes a total of $91 million ($40 million of which was announced in January) to UNRWA’s General Fund supporting Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria; and $57 million to UNRWA’s 2008 West Bank and Gaza emergency appeal. UNRWA’s Commissioner-General Karen Abu Zayd thanked the U.S. government for its contributions, saying: ’We are immensely grateful to the United States government for its generous and prompt contributions, exemplary of its continuous commitment to UNRWA. This support is essential for improving the daily lives of Palestine refugees who face hardship in the region. ’ The U.S. contribution to the General Fund will support UNRWA’s provision of basic and vocational education,...

Humanitarian assistance transferred to Gaza
Government of Israel, ReliefWeb 3/4/2008
Approximately 160 trucks of humanitarian aid and supplies were transferred into the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, March 4. (Communicated by the IDF Spokesman) Approximately 160 trucks of humanitarian aid and supplies were transferred into the Gaza Strip today via the Kerem Shalom, Karni and Sufa crossings. The assistance was organized with the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. Following is a list of the supplies. Sufa Crossing: - 12 trucks of medicines and medical supplies (including one UNRWA truck) - 9 trucks of meat, fish and frozen vegetables - 8 trucks of fruit - 7 trucks of flour, oil and sugar - 5 trucks of dairy products - 18 trucks of flour, oil and humus donated by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Kerem Shalom Crossing: - 8 trucks of sugar - 2 trucks of rice - 4 trucks of oil - 4 trucks...

Israel weighs aid corridors for Gaza assault
Adam Entous, ReliefWeb 3/4/2008
JERUSALEM, March 4 (Reuters) - Israel has asked U. N. aid agencies how long it would take them to set up "humanitarian corridors" from Egypt to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip in the event of a broad Israeli offensive, Israeli officials said on Tuesday. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the assessments were part of Israel’s stepped up "contingency planning" should such an operation be ordered to try to stop cross-border rocket fire by militants. Israeli forces killed more than 120 Palestinians, about half identified by medical workers as civilians, in a five-day Gaza assault that ended on Monday before a visit to Israel and the West Bank by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Israel threatened to send troops back into the territory if rocket salvoes continued. A sustained ground offensive would likely lead Israel to close its...

Leviev: Zionism is bankrupt because of ’new American religion’
Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 3/5/2008
Businessmen Lev Leviev - who, in addition to being the richest person in Israel, operates a 100-school educational network in Israel, the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe - does not accept secular Jewish culture and believes that Zionism is bankrupt. In a wide-ranging interview with Haaretz Magazine that will appear on Friday, Leviev also said that a prime minister who is prepared to negotiate over Jerusalem is betraying the Jewish people. "The moment you ask a child in Israel what Yom Kippur means to him, and he answers the Yom Kippur War, or a fun day on a bicycle - then I don’t know if that is Zionism or whatever you call it, but it has certainly become bankrupt," said Leviev. "And for that we are to blame, first and foremost, the moment we try to import the new American religion, and concentrate only on the new things..."

A new religious Zionist party
Yair Sheleg, Ha’aretz 3/6/2008
The National Union party is going through turbulence. Unlike what its name implies, its nine MKs are divided into four factions: Tkuma, Moledet, Ahi (the new name of Effi Eitam and Yitzhak Levy’s religious Zionist movement), and Hatikva (the party’s secular branch, represented by Arieh Eldad). The storm is mostly because of Ahi’s initiative to reunify the movement through a broad range of supporters, which will also determine, when the time comes, the list of party candidates for the Knesset. This initiative is opposed by many members of Tkuma. These upheavals resulted in a warning from younger constituents who threatened not to back any of the party’s members in the next election unless they put their differences aside and tightened ranks. This whole drama is a symptom of the enormous shake-up taking place in the religious Zionist camp.

Pending review
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 3/6/2008
The religious Knesset members can’t understand why Shas refuses to quit the government because Dan buses operate on Shabbat. The Transportation Ministry intends to review the matter in depth, in great depth. MK Yaakov Cohen (United Torah Judaism) eventually managed to remove himself from the plenum. Cohen, you will recall, is the MK who called the Justice Ministry official Amnon de Hartog "a Nazi," and was slapped by him. Yesterday he made do with a less dramatic incident. He stood up and called out to Meretz MK Ran Cohen that the law barring public transportation on Shabbat must be upheld, and simply kept this up until the speaker called him to order a third time and had him escorted out. The topic under debate was the Dan corporation’s decision to stop operating buses on Saturday afternoons. After the decision was reported by the Haaretz Website, the Transportation Ministry announced its suspension pending a review this week.

Schools face major computer crunch
Or Kashti, Ha’aretz 3/6/2008
At some 70 percent of Israeli schools, each computer is shared by between 10 and 40 pupils. A 2006 survey of 22 countries and provinces that looked at the student/computer ratio in schools ranked Israel near the bottom, along with Estonia. The recommened ratio is no more than 10 pupils per computer, which is the case in 90 percent of schools in Norway, Denmark, Singapore, and the Canadian province of Alberta. The study also found that that only 22 percent of math teachers in Israel reported using computers for classroom instruction. Only South Africa ranked lower, at 18 percent. In Norway the rate is 80 percent; in Denmark - 78 percent, and in Singapore - 75 percent. The Education Ministry is supposed to publish the results of the study today. According to an official familiar with the data, they indicate that "instruction in schools is still outmoded.

Consumer confidence sinks
Noga Shavit-Raz, Globes Online 3/5/2008
The Globes Consumer Confidence Index fell by 3. 1 points in February, indicating growing concern about the year ahead. The "Globes" Consumer Confidence Index fell by 3. 1 points to 82 points in February, indicating growing concern about economic prospects in the year ahead. The concerns also relate to the current state of the economy, in contrast to the positive rating seen in the rating for January. The Consumer Confidence Index, compiled by Globes Research and Kesselman and Kesselman - PricewaterhouseCoopers Israel, has highlighted pessimism over the last few months, a trend that has been especially pronounced in people’s personal economic outlook. The proportion of pessimists exceeded the proportion of optimists for the first time since November 2004. The erosion in optimism in February was also seen in assessments about the state of the economy in six months time.

Education Ministry leads in requests to fire pregnant women
Shay Niv, Globes Online 3/5/2008
55% of all requests were approved. Sources inform ’’Globes’’ that the Ministry of Education is the employer with the most applications to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor for permits to fire pregnant women. Of the 1,277 dismissal applications made to the Industry and Trade Ministry in 2007, 550 were filed by the Education Ministry. Israeli law does not provide a sweeping ban on firing women who are pregnant, or undergoing fertility treatment, but requires those employers seeking to fire such an employee to obtain a permit from the Industry and Trade Ministry. The Education Ministry’s employment contract for teachers and new teachers runs from the start of the new school year in September until its end the following June. At the end of three years of contract-based employment, the Education Ministry can either fire the teachers or offer them tenure.

Mortgage securitization market hasn’t advanced in Israel
Yael Schwartzbart, Globes Online 3/5/2008
Herzliya’s Prof. Jacob Bodukh: The urgency to set up a thriving mortgage-backed securities market is immense." Israeli bankers have never missed an opportunity to miss the securitization market," said Prof. Jacob Bodukh of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya at a Center conference yesterday. More than three years have passed since the Ministry of Finance offered a NIS 3 million prize for the first Israeli company that would offer mortgage-backed securities (MBS). Four finance ministers and two governors of the Bank of Israel later, no one has claimed the prize. Bodukh added, "In the past five years, huge demand has been created for fixed-income assets in Israel following the implementation of the Bachar capital market reforms and the massive redemption of designated bonds. At the same time, the regulator did not allow the development of quality investment instruments.

Lebanese get by amid presidential vote crisis
Middle East Online 3/5/2008
"Poor Lebanon" is a much-loved preface to a litany of the country’s troubles. Parliament has been deadlocked for a year. A quarter of Cabinet ministers boycott meetings. There’s been no president since November because quarreling lawmakers keep postponing a session to elect a replacement. In Beirut so far this year, 17 people have been killed and dozens wounded in car bombs, army gunfire on protesters, and clashes between pro- and anti-government groups. In south Lebanon, many fear new battles could erupt between Israel and the Shiite Muslim militant group Hezbollah. It sounds like a disaster about to happen, in a nation where a renewal of the civil war of the 1970s and 1980s is a chronic worry. But Amer Hazime doesn’t see it that way. While not exactly optimistic about the future, the young businessman — a Lebanese-Jordanian dual national — is shopping for an apartment in Beirut where he can live with his wife and daughter.

Ahmadinejad blasts UN chief over Gaza
Middle East Online 3/5/2008
TEHRAN - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lashed out on Wednesday at UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon over his reaction to the Israeli strikes on Gaza, accusing him of submitting to "Zionist blackmail". "Why does the secretary general condemn the Palestinian people and question his own legitimacy? " Ahmadinejad said after a cabinet meeting, according to the ISNA news agency." Is this surprising, is he on the payroll of some powers? We like it when a secretary general is chosen from Asia to resist bullying. But why should he submit to the blackmail of the Zionists? " Ahmadinejad’s extraordinary attack on the South Korean secretary general was an apparent reaction to his comments on the deadly Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip that received a cold reaction from Arab diplomats at the United Nations. Ban on Saturday briefed the UN Security Council on "a deeply alarming escalation of violence in Gaza and southern Israel.


The mega prison of Palestine
Ilan Pappe, Electronic Intifada 3/5/2008
      In several articles published by The Electronic Intifada, I claimed that Israel is pursuing a genocidal policy against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip , while continuing the ethnic cleansing of the West Bank . I asserted that the genocidal policies are a result of a lack of strategy. The argument was that since the Israeli political and military elites do not know how to deal with the Gaza Strip, they opted for a knee-jerk reaction in the form of massive killing of citizens whenever the Palestinians in the Strip dared to protest by force their strangulation and imprisonment. The end result so far is the escalation of the indiscriminate killing of Palestinians -- more than one hundred in the first days of March 2008, unfortunately validating the adjective "genocidal" I and others attached to these policies. But it was not yet a strategy.
     However, in recent weeks a clearer Israeli strategy towards the Gaza Strip’s future has emerged and it is part of the overall new thinking about the fate of the occupied territories in general. It is in essence, a refinement of the unilateralism adopted by Israel ever since the collapse of the Camp David "peace talks" in the summer of 2000. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, his party Kadima, and his successor Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, delineated very clearly what unilateralism entailed: Israel would annex about 50 percent of the West Bank, not as a homogeneous chunk of it, but as the total space of the settlement blocs, the apartheid roads, the military bases and the "national park reserves" (which are no-go areas for Palestinians). This was more or less implemented in the last eight years. These purely Jewish entities cut the West Bank into 11 small cantons and sub-cantons. They are all separated from each other by this complex colonial Jewish presence. The most important part of this encroachment is the greater Jerusalem wedge that divides the West Bank into two discrete regions with no land connection for the Palestinians.

Has the Die been Cast?

Caelum Moffatt, MIFTAH 3/5/2008
      On January 10 49BCE, Julius Caesar led his army across the River Rubicon in defiance of the Roman Senate claiming that “the die is cast”. This bold maneuver initiated a civil war with his adversary Pompey but ultimately led to Caesar’s dictatorship over the Roman Empire.
     “The die is cast” referred to the predicament facing Caesar. Either he could succumb to the wishes of his superiors and back down, or he could fight for what he believed was right. The phrase represents a point of no return, an idea that cannot be retracted, suppressed, compromised, where one surrenders to fate and a line that once crossed, cannot be reverted back to as a feasible option.
     Israel is on the brink of this decision.

Israel’s only outlet is to rescue the Annapolis process

Shlomo Ben-Ami, Daily Star 3/6/2008
      The Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that began three months ago at Annapolis do not suffer from a lack of ideas about how to address the Middle East conflict’s core issues. After years of frustrated attempts to reach a settlement, and with dozens of official and back-channel peace plans at the negotiators’ disposal, there remains little room for creativity in producing an agreement.
     But the deeper problem lies elsewhere, in the poverty of the leadership, and in the fragmentation of Palestinian politics. Indeed, the only man who could have made a peace agreement based on a two-state solution legitimate in Palestinians’ eyes, Yasser Arafat, took this legitimacy with him to the grave.
     President Mahmoud Abbas was never an inspiring figure for Palestinians. With the loss of Gaza to Hamas, his political clout has been diminished even further. n fact, Abbas does not even control the militias of his own party, Fatah, which have been even more active than Hamas in staging terrorist attacks against Israel. The Palestinian Authority’s rule over the West Bank would have collapsed long ago if it were not for the Israelis’ daily incursions against Hamas and Fatah in areas under Abbas’ control.

Too much to expect

Moshe Arens, Ha’aretz 3/6/2008
      It was just too much to expect. That Ehud Olmert, the prime minister who brought us the disaster of the Second Lebanon War, had finally learned the lesson of that war. That he now understood that the only way to protect civilians from short-range rocket attacks is to have soldiers on the ground at the rocket-launching sites. That there is no substitute for this.
     That the "leverage" theory - which holds that the destruction of enemy infrastructure and attacks on the enemy’s civilian population will produce pressure on decision makers to cease their attacks against Israeli civilians - simply does not work in the Middle East. It did not work in Lebanon, and it certainly does not work in Gaza.
     That raising the "price tag" that the Palestinian population will have to pay after every rocket attack against Israeli towns and villages has not convinced the terrorists to abstain from further violence, and will not do so. Quite the contrary, it only increases the support that the terrorists receive from the civilian population. Cutting off fuel, cutting off electricity, preventing food from reaching them is both counterproductive and immoral.

Apart from the security problems

Haaretz Editorial, Ha’aretz 3/6/2008
      The security problems in the South and the Gaza Strip, and the shakiness of the relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, are drawing attention away from everyday civil issues, which also have serious implications. As in other places in the world where waste is transferred from wealthy countries to developing countries, Israel too disposes of wast scandalously, in areas of the West Bank. Every day trucks carry large quantities of building waste, including toxic substances that endanger the environment and public health, to pirate sites near Palestinian villages.
     The transfer of waste is carried out contrary to the government’s policy, but until now it has been convenient for the government to turn a blind eye and not to invest resources in dealing with the problem.
     However, this approach must be changed, since the problem of building waste, like other environmental problems, constitutes a direct threat to the health of both Palestinians and Israelis. The waste is ruining the landscape precious to all the inhabitants of this land, and is endangering the water sources on which both peoples depend.

Canada’s Response to Israel’s Actions in Gaza

Jim Miles, Middle East Online 3/5/2008
      Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier issued a
     news release
     expressing his concern about the escalating violence in the Gaza Strip.It does nothing to help resolve the situation and only demonstrates that the Canadian government is only putting out more face-saving rhetoric for the international community and to placate the home crowd with platitudes about the non-existent peace process.It is an empty statement, devoid of any real suggestions to improve the situation in Gaza.
     Language is all important within his statement.While he “deplores” the actions of Hamas, Israeli actions - which have resulted in far more misery and deaths – receive only the approbation that we are “very concerned about the impact” of Israeli actions.More language continues the bias.While the Hamas personnel are “terrorists” the Israelis are only defenders with a “clear right to defend itself."
     The Canadian government does not recognize, and was one of the first to deny, that Hamas won the Palestinian elections with a clear majority in elections regarded globally as being one of the fairest ever presented.

Britain Remains Silent to the Crimes of Israel

Stuart Littlewood, Middle East Online 3/5/2008
      The Israel lobby is now deeply embedded at the heart of British politics. Israel’s stooges keep up an endless flow of misinformation calculated to corrupt Parliament, blind MPs to the truth and bend decisions to suit the foreign regime’s interests.
     We saw it in the run-up to the Iraq war. The public were well aware of the lies but politicians in their hundreds let themselves be persuaded to vote for an illegal, unjustifiable military adventure that was bound to cost countless thousands of innocent lives and ruin our reputation abroad.
     The other day there was a House of Commons debate on settlements and closures in Palestine. Here’s the kind of nonsense those stooges expect us to swallow.
     Mrs Louise Ellman (Labour/Cooperative, Liverpool, Riverside):
     Does the Hon. Gentleman recollect that Israelis left all the settlements in Gaza? Indeed, the settlements were demolished and 8,000 settlers were removed, many forcibly, by the Israeli army...

No more Power to America

Joharah Baker, MIFTAH 3/5/2008
      The article recently published in Vanity Fair entitled “The Gaza Bombshell” has gotten tongues wagging among the Palestinians in particular. The article, which basically accuses the United States of instigating a civil war in Gaza last June, more or less confirms what we have all suspected long ago. The Americans are up to no good.
     The Palestinians have always been extremely critical of US policy in Palestine, for very good reason. They are even more critical of those Palestinians who cater to American desires in the region, considered by some as tantamount to treason.
     The most recent bloodshed in the Gaza Strip, which claimed almost 120 Palestinian lives in the course of less than a week, is evidence that all is not well, neither in terms of the international community’s attitude towards the Palestinians nor between the Palestinians amongst themselves. The ordinary citizens, men, women, children and babies are, as always, those caught in the middle and the ones who pay the highest price.

The Rabbi of hate

Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank, Palestinian Information Center 3/5/2008
      "So I believe that I act in the spirit of the Almighty God. By defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord." Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, 1924
     "A thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew’s  fingernail" Dov Lior, Rabbi of Kiryat Arba
     "We will carry out a greater holocaust against the Palestinians," Matan Vilnai, Deputy Defense Minister, 1 March, 2008
     Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the ultra-orthodox Shas party, which represents Jews from the Middle East, has urged Jews around the world  to pray for Israeli soldiers, not only on the Jewish Sabbath, Saturday, but also on Mondays and Thursdays.
     According to the Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz, Yosef told his followers that Israeli soldiers need to be blessed by the Almighty for killing and maiming hundreds of Palestinians, mostly innocent civilians, in the past few days.

The first time I was called a self-hating Jew

Mike Marqusee, The Guardian 3/4/2008
      The first person to call me a self-hating Jew was my father. It was in the autumn of 1967. Dad was 39, a successful businessman who was also, along with my mother, active in the US civil rights and anti-war movements. I was the oldest of his five children and had already, at age 14, intoxicated by the ideals of justice and equality, begun my career as a footsoldier of the left. It was not only the first time I had been called a self-hating Jew, it was the first time the phrase, the idea, entered my consciousness, and it was a shock
     As a young man, against the family grain, my father had taken an interest in social and especially racial justice and at college was drawn to the Communist party, which is how he met my mother, who was the product of a very different strand of the New York Jewish tapestry. This was in the heyday of anti-communist hysteria, of which my parents were first victims, then accomplices. After giving a speech against the Korean war at a student conference in Prague in 1950, dad was denounced as a traitor. His passport was seized. His father told the press that if his son had said such things, he was no son of his. It was in this period, I think, that he came to rely implicitly on my mother, the girlfriend who stood by his side when his life seemed most precarious.

Seeking Alternatives

Ghassan Khatib, MIFTAH 3/5/2008
      Most Palestinians, from the general public to officials, have already concluded that the current negotiations, initiated at the Annapolis conference, have very little or no chance of success. For that reason, several debates have been held and initiatives offered to find an alternative strategy for the Palestinian leadership to pursue.
     Public opinion polls show there is little faith in the ongoing peace process and that the level of optimism is declining. Prominent officials, meanwhile, have been making pessimistic public statements. The most prominent one was Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s declaration, during his last visit to Washington, that he does not expect an agreement in 2008, contrary to the express wishes of US President George W. Bush.
     The most obvious two reasons for this are the Israeli practices on the ground and domestic Israeli political constraints. Israel continues its consolidation of the occupation mainly by continuing the expansion of illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, especially in and around East Jerusalem. Domestic political constraints, meanwhile, have ensured that negotiations have led to no real engagement.