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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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7 March 2008


Israeli authorities seal the West Bank following Jerusalem attack
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the complete closure of the West Bank on Friday, sealing all entrances to Jerusalem and Israel. According to the Defense Ministry, the closure will last at least until next Sunday, giving the Israeli security services time to re-evaluate the situation after the attack on a Jewish religious school in Jerusalem on Thursday evening. The Israeli police announced a state of alert in all Israeli cities, especially Jerusalem where thousands of soldiers and police officers deployed preventing Muslims from praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Meanwhile, extremist Jews threatened to take revenge, shouting "death to Arabs". Barak said the attack represented the failure of the Palestinian Authority to fight "terrorism."

Carter, Annan to lead peace delegation to Middle East next month
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 3/7/2008
A council of world leaders launched by former President Nelson Mandela is sending a three-person team to try to help ease tensions in the Middle East, the organization known as The Elders said Friday. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former Irish President Mary Robinson will visit Israel, the Palestinian territories, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia April 13-21. "I have just completed an intense and grueling negotiation in Kenya and learned that conflict is easier than peace, but persistence makes peace possible," said Annan, who added that in his former position he was acutely sensitive to the centrality of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis in the mind of many in the Middle East. Launched last year to celebrate Mandela’s 89th birthday, the group of 12 world leaders is dedicated to fostering peace and resolving global crises.

Israeli forces demolish two houses in Bethlehem in overnight raid
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli military forces invaded the West Bank city of Bethlehem overnight, demolishing two houses, seizing a Palestinian man and injuring another. The forces withdrew on Friday morning. Immediately after an attack on a Jewish school in Jerusalem, to the north of Bethlehem, Israeli military vehicles and bulldozers entered Bethlehem, surrounded the home of Islamic Jihad activist Muhammad Shahada and began to demolish the house. The invading forces fired a missile at the two-storey house before bulldozers began demolishing it. They also demolished house of Shahada’s father and seized his brother. Local sources said that the Israeli forces closed the area surrounding Shahada’s house and searched in the neighbor’s houses looking for Shahada. Bethlehem resident Hasan Abu Sadud was shot in the foot.

Images of horror in yeshiva to be distributed worldwide
Itamar Eichner, YNetNews 3/7/2008
Israel decides to take advantage of Thursday’s bloody terror attack in Jerusalem in order to launch aggressive campaign against Hamas - Israel has decided to take advantage of Thursday’s bloody terror attack in Jerusalem in order to launch an aggressive campaign against Hamas. Yedioth Ahronoth has learned that the political echelon instructed the Government Press Office to distribute the shocking images from the yeshiva shooting worldwide, including pictures of holy books perforated with bullets, a blood-stained praying shawl and the terrorist’s body inside the yeshiva. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni decided that the Foreign Ministry would work to convey the Israeli messages to the international community Images of horror. Livni spoke to a large number of foreign ministers and expressed the State of Israel’s abhorrence over the deadly attack.

Responsibility for Jerusalem attack still ambiguous
Ali Waked, YNetNews 3/7/2008
Palestinian Authority, various Gaza groups still baffled as to who ordered Jerusalem shooting. Hamas reneges on responsibility claim; PA believes Hizbullah may have ordered attack - Who ordered the attack on Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem? Hamas may not have claimed responsibility for the attack officially, but the organization is utilizing its aftermath for propaganda. Hamas radio broadcasted Friday a statement in which the organization claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was a "jolting response to the violence in Gaza in which more than 120 Palestinians were killed," and calling on all Hamas supporters to "celebrate this victory against the brutal enemy." Shortly after that, the radio station reported Hamas had gone back on the claim - "for now". The Palestinian Authority and the various organizations in the Strip...

Palestinian medics: IDF troops kill farmer in northern Gaza
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 3/7/2008
Israel Defense Forces troops shot dead a Palestinian farmer on Friday in the northern Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical officials said. An IDF spokesman denied the report, saying no operations were carried out and no shots were fired in the area. Six members of the militant Palestinian group Islamic Jihad were killed Thursday in three separate IDF strikes in the Gaza Strip. IDF tanks opened fire on four militants near the Kissufim border crossing between Israel and the Strip after identifying an attempt to plant explosives, in the same spot where an explosive device killed an IDF soldier earlier Thursday. The four militants were killed. Another militant was killed earlier in an Israel Air Force strike near the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis. A source in the Islamic Jihad confirmed the dead militant was a member of the group.

Israeli forces killed 22 Palestinian students over last week
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli military forces killed 22 Palestinian students in the last week, 20 of them in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Ministry of Education said on Thursday. Ten other students were injured. In a new report, the Ministry said that "Rafah Martyr Secondary School and Beer Al- Sabeaa Secondary school became a subject of the Israeli atrocities. The Israeli incursion troops used their weapons against the two schools, causing serious damages in school buildings and full windows’ breakages." In addition, Israeli curfews prevented students in the West Bank towns of Azzoun, Al-Funduq and Haja to attend their classes. The Ministry called on the international community to intervene ensure the rights of Palestinian students.

Israeli settlers attack Palestinian lawmaker near Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an – Israeli settlers attacked Siham Thabit, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), on Friday while she was driving near the West Bank city of Nablus. Settlers assaulted the car when it passed the Yizhar settlement, smashing the windshield. Thabit was taken to a hospital in Nablus. Thabit was driving from Tulkarem, where she is from, to Ramallah with her son Ahmad. Thabit, a Fatah member, is widow of Fatah leader Thabit Thabit, who was assassinated by Israeli forces in 2000. Israeli settlers have been enraged after an overnight shooting attack on a Jewish religious school in Jerusalem that left eight Israelis dead. The school is reported to be linked to the settler movement.

Israeli soldier killed in Gaza fighting
Middle East Online 3/7/2008
The Israeli army confirmed that one of its soldiers was killed and several others wounded in a blast on Thursday at a military post near the border with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip." An Israeli soldier was killed and three others wounded, including one seriously, by an explosion of a device that was set off in the path of a patrol near the security fence in the central Gaza Strip," an army spokesman said. Israeli troops moved into Gaza, exchanging fire with Palestinian militants, after the explosions rocked the army post near the Kissufim crossing between Israel and the centre of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, the witnesses said. One Palestinian was killed and another wounded in an Israeli air raid in the northern town of Jabaliya several hours later, medics said. Radical Palestinian group Islamic Jihad claimed it had blown up a military jeep near Kissufim.

Yesha rabbis: Government responsible for yeshiva massacre
Neta Sela, YNetNews 3/7/2008
Thursday’s shooting struck ’underbelly’ of settlement movement, Yesha religious leaders direct accusations at weak political leadership ’that arms the enemy and negotiates with Holocaust deniers over the division of holy Jerusalem’ - "The responsibility for the massacre lies with the governments of Israel, which for years have displayed weakness and exhaustion and have seen to the armament of the enemy," the Yesha Rabbinical Council wrote in a stinging rebuke of the Israeli leadership following the Thursday’s deadly terror attack against a Jerusalem yeshiva. Eight rabbinical students were killed in the shooting perpetrated by a Palestinian gunman from east Jerusalem who infiltrated the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in the Kiryat Moshe quarter. Calling the seminary a "flagship of those who love the Torah and the country," the council vowed that the spirit of the yeshiva would "triumph over the evil.

Exclusive: Ahrar Al-Jalil claims responsibility for Jerusalem shooting attack
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an Exclusive – On Thursday at 8:30 pm, a Palestinian called Ala’ Abu Dhaim from Jabal Al-Mukabbir in Jerusalem broke into the Jewish religious school in West Jerusalem armed with a Kalashnikov machinegun and six ammunition clips. He went to the library and stationed himself between the book shelves and started shooting until he ran out of ammunition. After killing and injuring dozens of Israeli students, he attempted to run away, but an Israeli officer approached and shot him before Israeli intelligence arrived and killed him.... immediately after the operation, Ahrar Al-Jalil (the "Free People of the Galilee," or the Galilee Freedom Battalion) based inside Israel claimed responsibility for the attack through a statement they sent to Ma’an, yet it was not published because it seemed unreliable and many details were missing in the statement.

Israeli voices: Seminary shooting
BBC Online 3/7/2008
Three Israelis reflect on Thursday’s shooting at a seminary in West Jerusalem in which eight young Israelis were killed. I have been at a girls’ seminary [Midreshet Lindenbaum] near Mercaz Harav for a year. I came here from London with a friend last August. Obviously we were all very shocked - it could have been us. I spoke to my parents in London last night and when I got off the phone, there was a group of around 20 girls sitting around praying. That’s how we reacted. When you hear that people in Gaza were celebrating, I don’t know what to say. We mourn the losses in Gaza; it’s terrible that mothers have lost children. But what is different is the objective. Israel is aiming to stop the rockets; last night was about hatred. I am in Israel to get a deeper understanding of my religion.

Gaza City and Khan Younis bury four killed by Israeli forces
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Crowds of Palestinians took to the streets in Gaza City and Khan Younis on Friday for the funeral processions of four Palestinians killed by Israeli forces on Thursday. The funeral of Islamic Jihad fighters Fadi Abu Haddaf, Sa’id Abu Haddaf and Zakariyya Al-’Imawi were held in Khan Younis. The procession began at at Nasser Hospital, proceeded to houses of the families of the death for before prayer at Sheikh Hammuda Mosque and finally to the eastern cemetery in the city. Meanwhile, the funeral procession of Nafidh Abu Karsh, a member of the armed wing of Fatah, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, was held in the Saftawi neighborhood in Gaza City. The mourners in both processions shouted slogans condemning what they see as criminal Israeli attacks on Gaza and calling on all Palestinian military groups to take revenge.

IDF arrests three Palestinians who threw bombs at settlement
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 3/7/2008
Israel Defense Forces soldiers operating near Bethlehem in the West Bank on Friday shot and wounded a group of three Palestinians who were seen earlier hurling explosives and Molotov cocktails towards the entrance of the Jewish settlement of Migdal Oz. The IDF said the Palestinians were subsequently taken to hospital for medical treatment and will later be handed over to the custody of the Shin Bet security service for further questioning. According to the IDF, a contingent of troops from the Shimshon battalion of the Kfir infantry brigades noticed a group of Palestinians who threw explosive objects while in a vehicle near the entrance gate to the settlement, which lies near the Palestinian town of Beit Fajar. The soldiers proceeded to open fire, scoring a direct hit on the suspects before the car sped away.

Yeshiva head: J’lem shooting is continuation of 1929 massacre
Yigal Hai, Ha’aretz 3/7/2008
In his eulogy to the eight students gunned down Thursday in a shooting attack at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem, the religious school’s head rabbi Ya’akov Shapira declared the attack "a continuation of the 1929 massacre" of the Jewish community in Hebron. He said the gunman had targeted "everyone living in the holy city of Jerusalem." The eight victims were buried Friday afternoon, each with Torah scrolls stained with their blood, in accordance with the Halakhic decision ruled by former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu. Earlier Friday, thousands gathered outside the bullet-scarred Mercaz Harav yeshiva to begin funeral processions for the eight students, who were killed by the gunman from East Jerusalem when he burst into the library were they were studying and opened fire.

VIDEO - Officer who shot terrorist: I’m no hero
Aviram Zino, YNetNews 3/7/2008
(Video) In meeting with Jerusalem mayor, David Shapira, IDF officer who stopped shooter at yeshiva attack Thursday, recounts moments of horror. Army chief praises Shapira for courage, exemplary behavior - VIDEO - David Shapira, the IDF officer who shot and injured the terrorist at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva Thursday, was not even supposed to be at the place, after switching his weekend leave with another officer. Eight people were murdered in the attack and 10 have been wounded. [end]

PFLP fighters clash with Israeli troops in southern Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, said that their fighters clashed with undercover Israeli troops near Al-Ma’arri school, east of Al-Qarara in the southern Gaza Strip, on Friday morning. They said in a statement that their fighters injured Israeli soldiers, and that the operation was in response to Israeli atrocities against Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. [end]

Israeli forces kill Palestinian man in northern Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli forces killed 40-year-old Nafith Abu Karsh in the Al-Waha area in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday. A spokesperson for the armed wing of Fatah’s armed wing, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, Abu Tha’ir said that Abu Karsh was one of their activists. Muawiya Hasanain, the director of ambulance and emergency services in the Palestinian Health Ministry said Abu Karsh’s body arrived at the Kamal Udwan hospital in the northern Gaza Strip. [end]

AUDIO - Somehow he managed to walk in carrying a box containing a Kalashnikov
Rory McCarthy, The Guardian 3/7/2008
Rory McCarthy reports from Jerusalem on the attack on the Jewish seminary and the uncertainty as to who the attacker represented. [end]

PLO initial report: Israeli assaults against Palestinians increased in February
Ma’an News Agency 3/6/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – The monitoring group affiliated with the Negotiations Affairs Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) announced on Thursday, in the initial draft of their monthly report, that Israeli assaults against Palestinians increased noticeably during February 2008 in all Palestinian districts. The final report is expected to be released in the coming days. Assassinations - The report lists five instances in which Israeli forces committed "targeted" assassinations of Palestinians in February: An unmanned Israeli reconnaissance plane launched a missile at a civilian car in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip, killing Amir Qarmut and injuring two others Undercover Israeli forces entered Nablus, in the northern West Bank, in a Palestinian-plated car, then shot dead Ibrahim Al-Masimi and injured three others.

DFLP’s military wing launches projectile at Sderot
Ma’an News Agency 3/6/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), the National Resistance Brigades, claimed responsibility for firing a homemade projectile at the Israeli town of Sderot, near the northeastern border of the Gaza Strip, on Thursday. They said in a statement that they are exercising their natural right to retaliate against Israeli atrocities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. [end]

Al-Quds Brigades launch four projectiles at Sderot
Ma’an News Agency 3/6/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for launching four homemade projectiles at the Israeli city of Sderot, near the northeastern border of the Gaza Strip, on Thursday. They described the attack as part of their natural right to respond to the ongoing Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. [end]

Al-Aqsa Brigades shoot at Israeli military vehicle near Qalqilia
Ma’an News Agency 3/6/2008
Qalqilia – Ma’an – The Al-Aqsa Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, claimed responsibility for shooting at an Israeli military vehicle near the northern West Bank town of Azzun, in eastern Qalqilia, on Thursday. They said in a statement that they will continue to respond to the ongoing Israeli aggression against Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. [end]

Israeli forces seize Islamic Jihad leader in Jenin
Ma’an News Agency 3/6/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized Sheikh Khalid Jaradat, an Islamic Jihad leader in Jenin, in the northern West Bank, on Thursday, former spokesperson for Islamic Jihad in the West Bank Sheikh Khader Adnan said. Jaradat is married with four children, and has served 15 years in Israeli prisons. He is considered one of Islamic Jihad’s founders. [end]

Israeli forces impose curfew on West Bank town of Husan
Ma’an News Agency 3/6/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces imposed curfew on the town of Husan, west of Bethlehem in the southern West Bank, after a Molotov cocktail was allegedly thrown at an Israeli car on Wednesday evening Eyewitnesses told Ma’an that Israeli military vehicles invaded the town and imposed curfew by firing sound grenades. [end]

PCAS coordinates with Amnesty to help students and patients affected by the siege
Palestinian Information Center 7/3/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Popular Committee Against the Siege (PCAS) agreed to coordinate with the Middle East section of the Amnesty International to help some of the students and patients affected by the siege. PLC member, Jamal al-Khudary, Head of PCAS, and Rami Abdu, its spokesman met with the Head of the Middle East section of the Amnesty Donatella Rovera in Gaza City on Friday morning to discuss the effects of the siege on the Gaza Strip. Rovera said that Amnesty International with other organisation produced a report on the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and the effects the Israeli economic blockade. She said that her organisation is working for getting some patients transferred out of Gaza for treatment and that she visited a number of students who need to join their universities abroad but cannot because of the closure of border crossings and others who do not have the necessary travel documents but need to travel abroad.

IOA seals off West Bank; bans worshippers from entering the Aqsa
Palestinian Information Center 7/3/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Hours after a Palestinian gunman attacked a Jewish seminary breeding fanatic Jewish leaders, and killed eight student-soldiers and wounded tens others inside it, the Israeli occupation authority decided to impose hermitic closure on the West Bank. The attack on the seminary came after IOF troops mercilessly killed 130 Palestinian citizens in Gaza Strip, including 33 minors, and wounded 350 others (many of them in critical condition) in a series of lethal air strikes on the tiny Strip since last week. The attack on this Zionist institute constituted big blow to the Israeli intelligence apparatuses because the attack occurred in the vital western part of the occupied Palestinian city where Israeli official buildings and ministries are located.   Hebrew media outlets quoted Israeli security officials as asserting that the hermitic closure on the West Bank...

The PJB calls on Abbas’s security to release sick journalist
Palestinian Information Center 7/3/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian Journalists Bloc (PJB) called on media and human rights organisations to intervene to secure the release of a sick journalist from Abbas’s security prisons. Musaab Kataloni has recently undergone medical surgery and needs regular medical attention. He was kidnapped from his home in Nablus by Abbas’s General Intelligence on Wednesday and because he could not walk he was carried to the car which took him to an unknown destination. According to the journalist’s family they were visited by Abbas’s security men around 9:00 PM and ordered Musaab out because he was under arrest, without producing any official papers to that effect. Musaab’s family also said that he has undergone a surgery on his knee and cannot walk without two crutches and that his doctor advised him to rest and not to undertake difficult tasks for six months.

Israel and the occupied territories: Latest report on ICRC activities in the field
International Committee of the Red Cross, ReliefWeb 3/7/2008
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is extremely concerned by the high numbers of civilian casualties inside the Gaza Strip, following the latest escalation in fighting between Israel Defense Forces and Palestinian armed groups. One third of the dead are women and children, among them nine children under the age of twelve. Israeli towns in the vicinity of Gaza continue to be hit by rockets fired from the Strip. The ICRC is in regular contact with Magen David Adom in Israel, which has been helping with the treatment and evacuation of the wounded. The intensification of the conflict in recent weeks has exacerbated an already precarious humanitarian situation. Gaza continues to suffer from electricity blackouts for several hours a day, during which hospitals must switch on their generators. The supply of fuel and fuel stocks inside Gaza for hospital generators has been uncertain for some weeks now.

Amnesty International condemns killings of Israeli civilians
Amnesty International, ReliefWeb 3/7/2008
Amnesty International today condemned the killing of eight Israeli civilians, four of them children, in a shooting attack by a Palestinian on a Yeshiva school in Jerusalem. ’We absolutely condemn this deliberate attack on Israeli civilians as a gross abuse of international humanitarian law,’ said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa. ’We demand that all armed groups immediately cease the targeting of civilians. ’ The eight students were killed in the library of the religious school in Jerusalem by a Palestinian from East Jerusalem, who was killed while carrying out the shootings. According to Hizbullah’s al-Manar television station in Lebanon, the attack was carried out by a gunman belonging to a previously unknown group calling itself the "Phalange of Free Men of Galilee - Groups of the Martyr Imad Mughniya and the Gaza Martyrs’ but this has not been verified.

PYN, Paz Ahora, ISM Spain: Breaking the Siege of Gaza, Taking to the Streets
International Solidarity Movement 3/7/2008
International Actions Gaza Region Palestinian Youth Network (PYN), Paz Ahora, and ISM Spain March 5, 2008 Breaking the Siege of Gaza , Taking to the Streets After three and a half weeks of waiting at Rafah with much needed medicines for Gaza, on the evening of Wednesday, March 5, Saif Abu Keshek, General Coordinator of the Palestinian Youth Network (PYN) managed to enter the besieged Gaza Strip. Carrying 50,000 euros worth of medicines unavailable or in very short supply in Gaza, Saif has been at Rafah since February 12, 2008, waiting for permission to enter, each day told to wait a little longer. "Finally made it in," said Saif, "but there are tons more aid for Gaza in dozens of trucks, still held up at the border." Last week’s Israeli military onslaught on Gaza, which killed over 120 Palestinians, many of them women and children,...

Dichter: E. J’lem Arabs involved in militant activity should be expelled
Haaretz Staff and Agencies, Ha’aretz 3/7/2008
Public Security Minister Avi Dichter told mourners at Friday’s funeral for eight yeshiva students killed by a Palestinian gunman on Thursday that East Jerusalem Arabs should be expelled to the West Bank if found to be involved in militant activity. Vice Premier Haim Ramon said the attack proves that Israel must leave the outer neighborhoods of East Jerusalem on the eastern side of the West Bank separation fence, Channel 2 reported Friday. Police Chief Dudi Cohen said on Friday that the shooting attack at the Mercaz Harav religious school was an isolated incident carried out by one terrorist, and does not indicate the start of a third Intifada. He maintained that the shooting attack was especially severe because the terrorist was from East Jerusalem and held an Israeli identification card.

Elderly Palestinian woman dies of heart attack after Israeli soldiers abducted her son
Ma’an News Agency 3/6/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – An elderly Palestinian woman died of a heart attack when Israeli soldiers raided her home in Balata refugee camp, in eastern Nablus in the northern West Bank, on Thursday. Local sources said that 72-year-old Zakiyya Al-Ammuri suffered a fatal heart attack when Israeli troops ransacked her home and abducted her son. Israeli forces seized three Palestinians in Balata this morning. [end]

Fatah and IOA unite against Al-Jazeera TV
Palestinian Information Center 7/3/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Fatah faction and the Israeli occupation government have apparently united against the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite TV as both parties started a campaign to boycott the Arab satellite TV channel for unveiling the truth about the Israeli massacres in the Gaza Strip. Al-Jazeera is considered the most popular satellite TV channel in the Arab world as millions of viewers express satisfaction over the balanced stand of the channel in reporting the news, especially the news about the Palestinian issue and the events in Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Fatah lady MP Najat Abu Bakr asserted that she started a campaign to boycott Al-Jazeera, charging that the channel was fueling the inter-Palestinian disputes. Abu Bakr was apparently irked by the news reports unveiled by an American newspaper on the role of Fatah faction and its strong man Mohammed Dahalan in an Israeli-US...

’He was very enthusiastic about getting married’
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 3/8/2008
From mid-morning yesterday the crowd of relatives and neighbours began arriving at the house of Ala Eddin Abu Dhaim, 25, the Palestinian from East Jerusalem who is believed to have carried out the attack that killed eight young Jewish students at a religious seminary. His family last saw him at about 7pm on Thursday, about two hours before he walked into the Mercaz Harav yeshiva on the other side of the city and opened fired with a Kalashnikov and a pistol into a crowd of praying students. At the house in Jebel Mukaber, on a balcony overlooking the hills of the West Bank, the family set up awnings and rows of plastic chairs where the crowd sat silently until they gathered for lunchtime prayers. Relatives said Abu Dhaim worked as a minibus driver and was well liked and regarded as religious. He had been engaged for six months to a young woman who lived further down the valley. His father, an engineer, was well respected.

Hamas ’claims responsibility for Jewish school shooting’
Daily Star 3/8/2008
Hamas on Friday claimed responsibility for a gun attack which killed eight Jewish students at a Jerusalem religious school the night before. "Hamas is responsible for the attack. The Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades will officially claim the attack at the right moment," a senior Hamas official in Gaza told AFP on condition of anonymity, referring to the group’s armed wing. Abu Ubaida, a spokesman for Hamas’ armed wing, told Al-Jazeera television the attack was "an honor we have not claimed yet," but did not deny the Islamist group’s involvement in the attack. During a rally of Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, loudspeakers proclaimed Hamas was behind the attack and identified the assailant as a 20-year-old Palestinian who had worked as a driver at the school. Eight students - most of them 15 or 16 years old - were killed when a Palestinian, a resident of Occupied East Jerusalem,...

VIDEO - Hamas flags hanged outside terrorist’s home
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 3/7/2008
(Video) Residents of Jabel Mukaber neighborhood say shooter who killed eight students at Jerusalem seminary Thursday was arrested by Israel four months ago, released two months later; neighbors claim he worked as driver at seminary - VIDEO - East Jerusalem residents said Friday that the terrorist who killed eight students at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem on Thursday had worked as a driver at the seminary. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the gunman was from Jabel Mukaber, a neighborhood in east Jerusalem, where Palestinian residents hold Israeli ID cards that give them freedom of movement in Israel. The man worked as a driver, Rosenfeld said, but would not provide further details Video courtesy of Infolive. tv Rosenfeld said the attacker walked through the seminary’s main gate and entered the library, where witnesses said some 80 students were gathered. He carried an assault rifle and pistol, and used both weapons in the attack. Rosenfeld said at least six empty bullet clips were found on the floor

Police to remain on high state of alert
Aviram Zino, YNetNews 3/7/2008
Heightened state of alert declared following terror attack in Jerusalem to remain in place pending further security assessments - Isreali security forces in the capital maintained a heightened state of alert Friday night, more than 24 hours after the deadly attack at Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem. A source in the Jerusalem District Police told Ynet that the police have intelligence indicating more terror attacks are underway, and that the heightened state of alert is expected to remain in place at least until next week. Police sources have stressed that there is no indication of an imminent threat, but nevertheless, the police deployed mass forces throughout the country in an effort to focus on terror prevention. Police efforts will include more visible police presence in crowded places, patrols and roadblocks.

Major suicide attacks on Israel since 2000
Agence France-Presse, ReliefWeb 3/6/2008
JERUSALEM, March 6, 2008 (AFP) - A Palestinian gunman opened fire at a religious school in predominantly Jewish west Jerusalem late on Thursday, killing eight people and wounding nine, before being shot dead. Following are details of major attacks inside the Jewish state and the Palestinian territories since the intifada, or uprising, broke out in September 2000: In 2001, the Israeli army says there were 35 suicide attacks, of which four killed 10 people or more. A total of 72 people died. In the deadliest bombing since 1996, 21 people were killed in a suicide bombing outside a Tel Aviv nightclub on June 1, an attack claimed by the Islamist movement Hamas. In 2002, the number of suicide attacks soared to 60, according to the army, killing more than 170 people and making it the deadliest year since the outbreak of the intifada.

Jerusalem Bedouin fear return to wilderness
Middle East Online 3/7/2008
At the end of March, Jadua Qabua and his extended Bedouin family may be forced to bring down the tents they have lived in for a quarter of a century and return once again to a life of wandering. The Jerusalem municipality has told them that under a local statute on cleanliness and order they must remove their homes from the land they have lived on since 1981." We have no houses to move into. This is all we have," Qabua says, reclining on a mattress on the wooden floor of his house, a traditional Bedouin "tent" cobbled together with the wood and tin scraps of a modern city. "I’ve lived in tents my whole life, it is what I am used to. This is how we live," the 50-year-old with a silvery black beard and a traditional white headdress says as he sips from a cup of sweetened coffee. Outside cold winter flurries lash the plastic tarpaulins that cover the structure, but the interior...

Adalah-NY: In Ha’aretz interview Leviev "spins" protests against his companies’ settlement construction
International Solidarity Movement 3/7/2008
International Actions - Bil’in Village - Adalah-NY: (see excerpt from Ha’aretz interview below) New York, NY, March 7 - In a rare interview in the March 7 English edition of the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz Daily, Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev responded to questions about recent protests and calls for a boycott of his companies in response to their settlement construction in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Issa Mikel, a spokesperson for Adalah-NY - the group that has organized eight protests outside Leviev’s Manhattan jewelry store since it opened last November - commented, "Leviev’s responses were disingenuous and troubling. Leviev neglected to mention that his company Leader is building the settlement of Zufim, that he is a major donor to a company that acquires Palestinian land for settlements, and that all Israeli settlements violate international law.

UN human rights chief, Israel critic, to step down after one term
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 3/7/2008
The United Nations’ top human rights official, who has criticized many countries and been attacked by them in response, said Friday that she is quitting after only one term. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour announced that she has told UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that she will be unavailable for a second term in the job, which is a magnet for criticism from a broad range of countries. Israeli Ambassador Itzhak Levanon last year rejected Arbour’s criticism of Israeli military action against Palestinians. "The misguided and deeply disturbing statement by the high commissioner blatantly disregards events on the ground," Levanon said. A recent mistake by her office inflamed anger among pro-Israel groups. While the office later clarified that Arbour did not endorse a provision in an Arab human rights...

Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories - Draft resolution
United Nations Human Rights Council, ReliefWeb 3/5/2008
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL Seventh sessio Agenda item 7 Pakistan (on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference), Palestine* (on behalf of the League of Arab States): draft resolution 7/… Human rights violations emanating from Israeli military attacks and incursions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly the recent ones in the occupied Gaza Strip The Human Rights Council, Guided by the principles and objectives of the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenants on Human Rights, Guided also by the rights of all peoples to self-defence and self-determination and the inadmissibility of the acquisition of land by the use of force, as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, Affirming the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection...

Ceasefire NOW! - joint Israeli-Palestinian call
Gush Shalom 3/7/2008
Gush Shalom in Action Ceasefire NOW! - joint Israeli-Palestinian call AGAINST THE MASS KILLINGS IN GAZA! RELIEF SUPPLIES HAVE BROKEN THE BLOCKADE "GAZA: LIFT THE BLOCKADE" - The Relief Convoy on its way A call from Gaza: BREAK THE SIEGE! To save the olives "Blockade - NO! Ceasefire - YES!" VICTORYCELEBRATIONINBIL’IN Occupation 40: reports & video Avnery-Pappe debate - with improved English transcript! Bil’in: a shooting spree (with video clip) The Ramallah Initiative Blood on the flag Violent attacks on demonstrators in Bil’in "Bring the Soldiers Home! - It will not End - Until we Talk!" The Kana Massacre - a War Crime! "STOP SHOOTING! START TALKING!" "Stop the War Now!" Gush Shalom meets with two Hamas leaders Photo archive, actions since 2004 More.

’Gaza situation worst since 1967’
Al Jazeera 3/6/2008
A new report has said that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is at its worst since Israel seized the territory in 1967. The study released on Thursday was conducted by a coalition of eight British-based human rights organisations, including Amnesty International and Save the Children. The report found more than 80 per cent of Gaza’s 1. 1 million population are now dependent on food aid. Unemployment has risen to 40 per cent after around 70 per cent of the 110,000 workers employed in the private sector lost their jobs. The report comes just days after a spate of Israeli raids left more than 120 Palestinians dead. It also said that hospitals are suffering from power cuts of up to 12 hours a day, and the water and sewage systems were close to collapse, with 40-50 million litres of sewage pouring into the sea daily.

Muslim clerics slam Israeli attacks on Palestinians
Maher Zeineddine, Daily Star 3/8/2008
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s leading Muslim figures denounced on Friday Israel’s ongoing military operations in Gaza, calling on the UN to consider the attacks "war crimes." "We also denounce the US coverage of the crimes being committed by Israel and attempts to justify them and therefore hamper Israel’s conviction by the UN Security Council," said a statement issued following a meeting of top Sunni, Shiite and Druze clerics. Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani, senior Shiite cleric Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, the vice president of the Higher Shiite Council Sheikh Abdel-Amir Qabalan, and Druze community leader Sheikh Naim Hassan met at the Druze sect’s headquarters in Verdun to discuss the situation in Gaza. "We urge the international community to call Israel to account and punish it for committing crimes in Gaza," the statement added.

Putting political differences aside, Lebanese rally against ’Zionist terrorism’ in Gaza
Alexandra Sandels, Daily Star 3/8/2008
BEIRUT: Hundreds of Lebanese attended a candle-lit rally in Ramlet al-Baida on Thursday night to show solidarity with the people of Gaza during Israel’s siege of the Palestinian territory. Although organizers had expected an even larger turnout, about 250 people showed up for the event. Palestinian flags swayed in the wind and attendees carried signs reading "stop the terrorism of the Zionist state" and admonishing Arab leaders that "your silence is killing." Musicians, poets and others paid tribute to the people of Gaza through artistic performances. The event, entitled "For Gaza... for Humanity," was organized by about a dozen people from across the professional and political spectrums. Invitations carefully advised participants to leave their political uniforms at home and attend from a merely humanitarian perspective.

Egypt building Gaza wall
Middle East Online 3/7/2008
EL-ARISH, Egypt - Egypt has started building a concrete wall along its border with Gaza, a security official said Thursday, even as it speaks to Hamas about improving the dire situation in the increasingly isolated enclave. "Egypt has started work on a three-metre (ten foot)-high wall along the border with Gaza," the official said, adding that a three-kilometre (two mile) section of the wall had already been built." It is a preventative measure. There is no threat of another border breach at the moment," the official said. Gaza militants in January blew up the previous border, allowing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to enter Egypt and stock up on supplies after a crippling Israeli blockade. Although Israel removed all 21 illegal Jewish settlements and withdrew its forces from inside Gaza in 2005, Tel Aviv still controls Gaza’s land, sea and air access, making Israel still the occupier according to the international community.

Cairo Gaza talks make no progress
BBC Online 3/7/2008
A Hamas delegation has returned to Gaza after talks with Egyptian mediators about a possible truce with Israel. A Hamas official, Ahmed Youssef, said on Thursday his group could not consider a ceasefire while Palestinians were being attacked on a daily basis. Egypt had hoped to broker an agreement under which Palestinian militants halted rocket attacks on Israel. The US had sent top state department official David Welch to Cairo to support the Egyptian mediation. "[A truce is possible] if the siege is lifted and the almost daily assaults are stopped and the Rafah crossing is reopened," Hamas’ Ahmed Youssef said. Aides of Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman met officials from the two groups in the city of al-Arish, security officials said. Mahmoud Zahhar, one of Hamas’ senior leaders headed the delegation.

Hamas "not opposed" to PA, European presence at Rafah border
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Representatives from Hamas, leaders Mahmoud Zahhar and Jamal Abu Hashim, met with an Egyptian delegation on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing, between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, on Thursday The delegations discussed the conditions of a potential ceasefire with Israel and the issue of control over the Rafah crossing. Hamas spokesman Ayman Abu Taha told Ma’an that Hamas would not object to having Palestinian presidential guards affiliated with President Mahmoud Abbas stationed the Rafah crossing, but that Hamas wants to have some influence in who Fatah chooses to deploy. Abu Taha added that Hamas is not opposed to having European monitors at the Rafah crossing on the condition that they stay either in the Gaza Strip or Egypt.

More injured Palestinians arrive in Egypt for medical care
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 3/6/2008
CAIRO, Mar 6, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- A group of 63 Palestinians wounded in recent Israeli raids in Gaza Strip arrived Thursday evening in Egypt for medical treatment, the Egyptian official MENA news agency reported. The Palestinians arrived in Egypt’s North Sinai governorate through Rafah crossing at the Egypt-Gaza border, North Sinai health director Maged al-Sheikh was quoted as saying. The wounded were carried to Al-Arish public hospital in North Sinai and those seriously injured will be transferred to hospitals in Cairo, al-Sheikh said. Egyptian Health Minister Hatem el-Gabali has ordered all Cairo- based hospitals to be ready to receive the injured Palestinians, he added. On Sunday, Egypt decided to open Rafah crossing to receive Palestinians wounded in the five-day Israeli raids ended on Monday morning that killed more than 120 Palestinians and wounded hundreds of others.

Secretary-General condemns, in strongest terms, attack on Jerusalem seminary
United Nations Secretary-General, ReliefWeb 3/6/2008
The following statement was issued today by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms today’s savage attack on a Jewish seminary in west Jerusalem, and the deliberate killing and injuring of civilians. He extends his condolences to the families of those killed. The Secretary-General is deeply concerned at the potential for continued acts of violence and terrorism to undermine the political process, which he believes must be pursued to achieve a secure and lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians, based on a two-State solution. [end]

Lieberman: Jerusalem attack is product of Arab MK incitement
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 3/7/2008
Yisrael Beiteinu chairman MK Avigdor Lieberman slammed the Arab Knesset members on Friday, maintaining that "yesterday’s attack can not be disconnected from the Arab MKs incitement, which we hear daily in the Knesset." Lieberman, who served as strategic affairs minister in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government, was referring to Thursday’s terrorist attack in which eight students at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem were gunned down by a Palestinian militant. He said that "in light of the incitement of Israeli Arabs" he was not surprised that the terrorist was from East Jerusalem and held an Israeli identification card. "Whoever called the IDF activity aimed at protecting the southern communities ’war crimes,’ and whoever incites and burns the Israeli flag in Umm al-Fahm, cannot shirk from the responsibility for the criminal attack in Jerusalem," he said.

Hamas says yeshiva attack ’normal response’ to IDF Gaza op
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 3/7/2008
Hamas on Friday announced it was responsible for Thursday’s shooting at the Mercaz Harav religious school in Jerusalem that killed eight people, then denied it was involved shortly afterwards. However, a spokesman on Sky television news then hailed the killing as a "normal response to the occupation", apparently reclaiming responsibility for the attack. At the same time on Friday, Lebanese officials reported that two Israel Air Force planes had violated Beirut’s airspace. Israel Defense Forces said it knew of no such activity. The gunman, Ala Abu Dahim, 25, from the village of Jabal Mukhbar near East Jerusalem was shot and killed during the massacre. Several residents of Jabal Mukhbar said he had been a driver at the yeshiva he attacked. His family set up a mourning tent Friday and hung green Hamas flags outside their home.

Hamas officials: Arab and Palestinian intelligence plot to assassinate Haniyeh
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Arab intelligence services have been collecting information aboutIsma’il Hanieyh, the Hamas leader and de facto Prime Minister of the Gaza Strip in what Hamas officials say is an assassination plot, the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported Friday. The sources added that intelligence services in an Arab country appointed Palestinian personnel to collect details about Haniyeh’s whereabouts and his hiding places during Israeli incursions in the Gaza Strip. They explained that Hamas’ intelligence has been able to reveal the identity of the Arab agents behind the plot in cooperation with Palestinian security affiliated to the West Bank-based caretaker government. Hamas intelligence services added that a security meeting has been held a few days ago in an Arab capital between Israeli and Palestinian intelligence services and their counterparts from two Arab...

Hamas political leadership hesitant to claim responsibility for Jerusalem attack
Ma’an News Agency 3/7/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas’ political leadership is awaiting a statement from their military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, responding to a report that appeared on Friday regarding responsibility for the attack on a Jewish school in Jerusalem on Thursday, said Hamas leader Isma’il Radwan said an on Friday. Radwan told Ma’an: "We can’t claim responsibility for the attack, as political leadership, because it is Al-Qassam Brigades responsibility to announce that if they were behind it. We have no information about the issue." An anonymous "Hamas official" told Reuters earlier on Friday that Hamas was responsible for the attack. Eight Israelis were killed in the shooting attack on a Yeshiva, or Jewish religious school, with deep ties to the Israeli settler movement. Meanwhile, it was announced in the mosques in the Gaza Strip Friday afternoon that theAl-Qassam Brigades were behind the attack.

US: Mideast peace bid must go on despite attack
Reuters, YNetNews 3/7/2008
White House urges Israel, PA to keep negotiations going despite attack on Jerusalem yeshiva. ’The most important thing is that the peace process continues,’ says White House spokesman - The White House on Friday urged Israel and the Palestinians to stick with US-backed peace efforts despite a shooting attack that killed eight students at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem." The most important thing is that the peace process continue and that the parties are committed to it," White House spokesman Tony Fratto told reporters. Thursday’s attack by a Palestinian gunman dealt another blow to US President George W. Bush’s bid for a peace deal before he leaves office in January 2009, a goal already beset by deep skepticism and persistent violence. Condemning the deadliest attack in Israel in two years, Bush said earlier that the United...

Jordan’s Abdullah warns failure of Israel-PA peace talks may boost Iran
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 3/7/2008
Jordan’s King Abdullah II has warned that the failure of the peace process between Palestinian and Israel will increase Iran’s ambitions in the region. The Jordanian monarch, a close U.S. ally, is on an official visit to the United States to try to find a way to bolster efforts to secure an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. In an interview with Washington-based National Public Radio, Abdullah warned of what he called Iran’s growing influence, directly as well as through Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Those in the Iranian government that are pursuing this policy have hijacked the Palestinian corps, he said. The failure of the peace process will get them to increase their ambitions in the region. He also warned that "There are new state actors (such as Iran) in the region and my fear is that the failure of the peace process will increase the aggression of the extremists in our region.

UK rights groups slam Israel on Gaza
Middle East Online 3/7/2008
JERUSALEM - A human rights coalition charged Thursday that the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip has reached its worst point since Israel occupied the territory in 1967. "The situation for 1. 5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is worse now than at any time since the beginning of the Israeli military occupation in 1967," the eight non-governmental organisations said in a joint report. The report follows strident international condemnation of Israel after it struck hard against Palestinians in Gaza, killing more than 120 in the past week, including many children. Israel’s Defense Ministry rejected the report, blaming Hamas for the Gaza hardships. "The main responsibility for events in Gaza — since the withdrawal of Israel from the territory and the uprooting of the settlements there — is the Hamas organization, to which all complaints should be addressed," read a statement by spokesman, Maj.

B’nai Brith Denies Reality of Ethnic Cleansing, Attempts to Silence Free Speech
Palestinian Information Center 7/3/2008
TORONTO (PIC)- - The Canadian Arab Federation (CAF), Palestine House and the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) strongly condemn the scurrilous attack by B’nai Brith on an essay competition jointly launched and sponsored by the three organizations on March 2, 2008. The competition invites Canadian high school and university students (ages 17 through 27) to write an essay on the theme "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine" and is part of activities commemorating the 60th anniversary of Al Nakba - the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homeland in 1947-48. In its attack, B’nai Brith claims that the competition is "contrary to the equity and human rights policies" of universities and high schools and encourages these institutions to refuse participation. This call to shutdown academic research and free speech is typical of B’nai Brith’s contempt for the basic principles of academic institutions.

Middle East: The Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict calls for all parties to protect schools and children
Office of the Special Representative, ReliefWeb 3/7/2008
The Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict voices her grave concern regarding the recent targeting of schools in the Middle East, where several children and teenagers have been killed and injured in the past weeks. Yesterday’s shooting at a Jerusalem religious school resulted in the killing of 8 students, most of them 15 or 16 years of age, by an East Jerusalem gunman. It is one more shocking violation of children’s rights in the ongoing conflict there. Between 27 February and 3 March, 27 children were killed and 2 schools and 1 health facility were attacked in Gaza, as a result of incursions by the Israeli Defense Forces. ’Schools must be kept out of the conflict space - Ms. Coomaraswamy said - and all parties should respect and preserve them as zones of peace.

India’s progressive parties unite: cut military ties with Israel
Ma’an News Agency 3/6/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Progressive parties in India accused the Indian government of “aiding and abetting” Israel in its attacks on Palestine and called for an end to military and security ties with Israel during a press conference on Wednesday. The conference launched a mass signature campaign in parliament to push for cutting all Indo-Israeli military ties. It was convened only days after major Palestinian civil society networks and the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces appealed to the Indian people and government. Key figures of five leftist political parties addressed the media, criticizing External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s statement in Parliament for failing to condemn the actions of Israel." If somebody from outside this planet reads this paragraph (in Mukherjee’s statement) they would think that there has been an earthquake in Palestine or a plague.

US puts ships from Syria on watchlist
Middle East Online 3/7/2008
WASHINGTON - The United States has put ships making port calls in Syria on a watchlist, an official said Thursday, as Washington ratcheted up the pressure on Damascus over its alleged links with terrorism. The decision, which could put pressure on businesses trading or shipping through Syria, was a further blow to long strained ties that had held out brief hopes of improvement last November when the United States courted Syria for the launch of new Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. Syria was placed on a so-called "Port Security Advisory List" amid "concerns about the connections between Syria and international terrorist organizations," the State Department’s deputy spokesman Tom Casey told reporters. The move allows the Coast Guard "to impose some additional port security measures to ships traveling to or arriving in US ports that have previously been either departing from Syria or have called on Syrian ports," he said.


How Israel Taught Hamas All It Knows
Mamoon Alabbasi, Middle East Online 3/7/2008
      Once more, as Israel continues its ruthless attacks on the Palestinian population (against both civilians and resistance fighters), mainstream media outlets direct the blame on the victims. This time the villain is none other than the democratically elected Palestinian resistance movement Hamas.
     Of course, no one is suggesting that Hamas is a movement comprised of angels that have been inspired by the words of Mother Teresa and had picked up their self-defence strategy from Ghandi. Frankly, I am not aware of any political movement that is. What is put forward, however, and has been missed by ignorant or hypocrite Israel apologists, is the fact that Hamas is least to blame in the plague that had haunted the region for over sixty years – i.e. 40 years before the resistance movement ever came into being.
     So what do some have against Hamas? Or, more accurately, why is Hamas singled out?
     Why doesn’t Hamas join the peace talks and end its armed resistance as a method of liberating the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel?
     Hamas has learned from Israel that, despite it being a good idea, it will not happen...

A defeated policy, not a defeated people

Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada 3/7/2008
      Compared with the international silence that surrounded Israel’s recent massacres of Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Gaza Strip, condemnation and condolences for the victims of the shooting attack that killed eight students at the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem have been swift.
     "I have just spoken with [Israeli] Prime Minister [Ehud] Olmert to extend my deepest condolences to the victims, their families, and to the people of Israel," US President George W. Bush said. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon added his "condemnation" and "condolences," as did EU High Representative Javier Solana.
     The day before the Jerusalem attack, Amira Abu ’Aser was buried in Gaza. She had lived just 20 days on this earth before being shot in the head by Israeli occupation forces who attacked the house of friends she and her family were visiting. Needless to say, she had not been firing rockets at Sderot when she was killed. One of the house’s inhabitants was found the next day, shot dead and his head crushed by an army jeep, an apparent victim of an extrajudicial murder by Israeli forces.

Massacre in Gaza

Patrick Seale, Middle East Online 3/7/2008
      Israel killed 116 Palestinians in Gaza last week in an orgy of air strikes and ground incursions, turning the besieged and starved Strip into an unbearable inferno. Hundreds more Palestinians were wounded. At least half the dead and wounded were civilians, including many young children.
     So great was the catastrophe that Egypt, under pressure from an enraged public opinion, opened the Rafah crossing into Sinai and sent 27 ambulances to shuttle scores of badly wounded Palestinians to hospital in Al Arish.
     What is to be done? The international community has expressed its usual alarm and outrage at Israel’s appalling behavior -- with protests coming from the UN Secretary General and the Pope among many others, while Saudi Arabia has compared Israel’s actions to Nazi war crimes. But Prime Minister Ehud Olmert remains defiant. No one, he declared, can teach Israel morality.

Australian government continues its love affair with Israel

Sonja Karkar, Electronic Intifada 3/7/2008
      So much for the new Australian government taking an even-handed position on Israel-Palestine.Before our politicians even warmed their seats in the new parliamentary sittings, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that he will lead a parliamentary motion to honor Israel on 12 March acknowledging Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. The opposition leader will second the motion. Then, celebrations will take place at a reception in the Mural Hall of Parliament House.
     If Palestinians and their supporters had any hopes of a sympathetic hearing from the new Rudd government on the multiple human rights abuses being perpetrated by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, those hopes are now dashed.
     This year marks 60 years of Palestinian dispossession and displacement and a savage, relentless occupation that is smothering the lifeblood of the Palestinians while Israel celebrates its ill-gotten gains. Palestinians are starving in Gaza, Palestinians are being sold out in the West Bank, Palestinians are dying. Their very existence is under threat. It is as simple and as awful as that.

Fight fiercely for peace, for a change

Rami G. Khouri, Daily Star 3/8/2008
      As terrible as it is to see civilians killed in Israel and Palestine, the sharp escalation in the Palestinian-Israeli war in recent weeks has not been surprising, given the context of existential defensive warfare that both sides believe defines them and their actions. What we are seeing is yet another round in a war that has been going on for decades.
     The attack Thursday against a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem was a sharp reminder that those fighting Israel retain the capacity to strike inside its major cities. They did so in the wake of two significant recent Israeli actions: the assassination of Hizbullah special operations leader Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus; and the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip that left over 120 people dead, many of them civilians.
     It remains unclear if Israel itself killed Mughniyeh or who was responsible for the seminary attack. More significant than the perpetrators of such attacks is the reality that both sides are as willing as ever to engage in fierce, brutal warfare, with civilian casualties apparently an inconsequential or even a deliberate aspect of their work.

Slaughtering civilians does nothing to serve the Palestinian cause

Editorial, Daily Star 3/8/2008
      The general right of Palestinians to resist occupation is enshrined in international law, and the specific impulse to avenge the past week’s atrocities in the Gaza Strip is perfectly understandable, but those who exercise these prerogatives have a responsibility to choose targets that will not undermine their cause. Thursday night’s shooting attack on a Jewish seminary in West Jerusalem, which killed eight young civilians, did not meet that standard. Its effect will be to damage the interests of the Palestinian people, including those who, like the gunman, hold Israeli identification documents.
     There are contrary arguments, but none are very realistic. Some will argue that because military service is mandatory for virtually all Jewish citizens of Israel, all of them are legitimate targets. But this approach ignores the fact that the civilians in question were in a library, not waging war for the Jewish state. Others will point out that while yeshiva students like those who were killed on Thursday are commonly granted exemptions from conscription, they contribute heavily to the conflict by helping to drive the so-called "settler movement" which protects and expands Israel’s illegal colonization of occupied land. But killing them only causes more Israelis to acquiesce in the evil settlement project itself - and to demand that their government refuse to accept the compromises required if peace is ever to be achieved.