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Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel
www.vtjp.org/
For those interested in keeping up with events in Palestine/Israel, there is no better digest than VTJP.

VTJP Archives | Newslinks Archives  
13 March 2008

News

IDF strike kills 5 militants; South on alert for Qassams
Avi Issacharoff, Yuval Azoulay and Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 3/14/2008
The defense establishment expects that the indirect understanding with Hamas over a cease-fire in Gaza is likely to collapse today, as Islamic Jihad is preparing to fire Qassam rockets at the Negev in response to the killings of four of its members on the West Bank yesterday. Five armed and wanted Palestinians were killed in total by Israeli Police anti-terrorist forces in two separate incidents. In the first incident yesterday morning in Kfar Tzaida east of Tulkarem, Salah Karkur, 27, of Islamic Jihad was killed during an attempt to arrest him by a combined operation of the IDF, Border Police and Shin Bet. The second incident, in which four men were killed, occured in Bethlehem. Muhamad Shahade, one of the most wanted terrorist suspects of Islamic Jihad, was killed when the Israel Police special anti-terrorist unit attempted to arrest him.

Abbas accuses Israel of committing ’ethnic cleansing’ in Jerusalem
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 3/14/2008
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday accused Israel of "ethnic cleansing" in Arab East Jerusalem by banning the building of Palestinian homes and cutting the city off from the occupied West Bank. Abbas told a summit of the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), being held in Senegal’s capital Dakar, the success of U.S. -brokered peace talks depended on Israel showing willingness to live up to the spirit of the process. "Our people in the city [Jerusalem] are facing an ethnic cleansing campaign through a set of Israeli decisions such as imposing heavy taxes, banning construction and closing Palestinian institutions in addition to separating the city from the West Bank by the racist separation wall," Abbas said. "What is taking place on the ground today is in total violation of [the peace process]," he said.

Negev slammed by rockets; IDF: Lull appears to be over
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 3/14/2008
Qassam rockets and mortars rained on Sderot and other communities bordering the Gaza Strip as Palestinian militants responded to the killing Wednesday of four Islamic Jihad gunmen in Bethlehem. The attacks yesterday broke a week of relative calm in the fighting. As of the time Haaretz went to print, the Israel Defense Forces avoided any response to the rocket and mortar attacks. Senior IDF sources told Haaretz last night that the lull in the fighting seemed to have come to an end. The attacks caused no serious damage or casualties. Most rockets and mortars fell on open fields. The IDF attacked a rocket launcher in the Strip yesterday, after carrying out no operations in the area for several days. Yesterday’s rocket attacks were the work of Islamic Jihad. Aside from the killing of its four men Tuesday, the same day the IDF killed another militant in the West Bank.

Dichter to police: Demolish home of Jerusalem yeshiva terrorist
Jonathan Lis and Shahar Ilans, Ha’aretz 3/14/2008
Public Security Minister Avi Dichter instructed police on Wednesday to demolish the house belonging to the family of the Israeli Arab terrorist who gunned down eight yeshiva students in Jerusalem last Thursday. The house is located in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber. Following the order, police asked the Defense Ministry to examine the legality of the move, and to consider an alternative option of sealing the house. "I very much hope that in the end that legal establishment will allow us to carry out [the demolition], but without it, nothing can be done," Dichter said at a Knesset session. Alaa Abu Dhaim, the gunman, killed seven teenage boys and one 26-year-old, as well as wounding nine others, when he burst into the Mercaz Harav seminary in Jerusalem’s Kiryat Moshe neighborhood and opened fire in the library.

Shas chair demands that PM unfreeze E. J’lem construction plan
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 3/13/2008
Shas Chairman Eli Yishai has posed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with a demand to immediately unfreeze the construction of the Kidmat Zion neighborhood in East Jerusalem, near the Arab village of Abu Dis. The Jewish neighborhood, not yet built, is planned to house 300 apartments. Shas on Monday credited its party members with the recent government approval granted to the construction of 750 new homes in the West Bank settlement of Givat Ze’ev near Jerusalem. Several United States officials, including the administration of President George W. Bush, said Monday that continued construction in the East Jerusalem and West Bank settlements hinders the progress of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also urged Israel to reconsider its plan to expand construction in the West Bank.

Ban: Israel must halt ’excessive force’ against Palestinians
Reuters, Ha’aretz 3/14/2008
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Israel on Thursday to halt attacks using "disproportionate and excessive force" against Palestinians. "Israel’s disproportionate and excessive use of force has killed and injured many civilians including children... I condemn these actions and call on Israel to cease such acts," Ban told an Islamic summit in Senegal’s capital Dakar. Renewed violence in the Gaza Strip and West Bank has threatened prospects for an Egyptian-brokered truce between Israel and Hamas, who control the Strip. Gaza militants fired at least 24 rockets into Israel on Thursday after an Israel Defense Forces raid in the West Bank Wednesday in which troops killed four militants, including three members of the militant faction Islamic Jihad. No one was injured by the salvo against the border town of Sderot, the first such attack by Islamic Jihad since March 5.

Confiscation orders in Hebron area to pave the way for the Apartheid Wall
Stop The Wall 3/11/2008
On February 28th, Occupation forces distributed military orders to the farmers of al-Dhahriya and Dura, both located to the southwest of Hebron, which will pave the way for the confiscation of their land. 766 dunums of land will be confiscated along the planned route for the Apartheid Wall, which will surround the Eshkolot settlement, to the west of al-Dhahriya. 3,300 dunums in total will be isolated behind the Wall. The confiscation orders, which were issued by the commander of the Occupation forces in the region, include the Wadi Fatem and Kharbit al-Kubriya areas in al-Dhahriya and the as-Subti area in Dura. In this case, the land belongs to al-Dhahriya, Dura, and the nearby villages that are known collectively as al-Masafer. Everyone in the area is connected in some way to this land, which is used extensively by local shepherds and livestock owners.

Wave of Demolitions in the West Bank leave 75 people homeless
Stop The Wall 3/11/2008
Yesterday, Occupation forces carried out a widespread demolition operation across the West Bank. Communities in the Jordan Valley were the hardest hit, although people in the Qalqilya district were also affected. Around 9:00 in the morning, Occupation border police, soldiers and the so-called “civil administration” forces rolled into al-Hadidya with a bulldozer. Residents reported that a massive number of jeeps and soldiers surrounded the small community and began demolition quickly. In al-Hadidya, four homes and four animals pens were demolished. 34 people have been left homeless, including at least 10 children under the age of 6. These structures belonged to Mohammed Ibn Fahed Mohammed Beni ‘Odeh, Mohammed ‘Ali Mohammed Beni ‘Odeh,‘Ali Mohammed Mufleh Beni ‘Odeh, Omar ‘Araf Mohammed Sharat, all of whom have large families.

News in Brief
Ha’aretz 3/14/2008
2 cops suspected of abusing Palestinian - Two police officers serving in the Ma’aleh Adumim station were arrested by Internal Affairs officers Wednesday on suspicion of abusing a Palestinian prisoner. The two are suspected of beating the prisoner and abused him physically and sexually. A gag order has been placed on the identity of the officers, and after their arrest they were released to house arrest. Allegedly, the abuse took place last November against a resident of Azariya in the West Bank. (Jonathan Lis) Islamic leader fears attacks by rightists - The head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, Sheikh Ra’ad Salah, said yesterday he would not appear before police for questioning over allegedly inciting remarks he made last year because he fears he will be attacked by rightist Jews. In a statement released by the movement, Salah and other activists said they were taking...

Barak vows Israel will continue pursuing murderers of Jews
Mazal Mualem and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 3/14/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday vowed that Israel would continue to pursue militants involved in terror attacks against Israeli citizens. Speaking at a memorial service for slain Israel Defense Forces soldiers whose burial locations are unknown, Barak said Israel had proven its commitment to this goal on Wednesday when Israel Defense Forces troops killed four wanted militants in the West Bank city of Bethlehem." Yesterday in Bethlehem we demonstrated once again that the State of Israel will continue to pursue and strike all murderers with Jewish blood on their hands," Barak said. In response to the raid on Bethlehem, Islamic Jihad launched at least 15 rockets at Israel on Thursday, ending a week-long Egyptian-brokered moratorium. The group called the rocket strikes an "initial" response to deadly Israel Defense Forces raids in the West Bank.

Palestinian children ’in crisis’
Mel Frykberg in Ramallah, Al Jazeera 3/12/2008
Alarmed by the recent Israeli incursion into Gaza and the continuing socio-economic deterioration of the occupied territories, several NGOs have launched crisis intervention programmes for traumatised Palestinian children. Marwan Diab, a psychologist from the Gaza Community Health Programme (GCHP), says the youngest generation of Palestinians is in need of immediate assistance. "A generation of Palestinian children face the danger of being psychologically damaged beyond repair unless there is sufficient urgent psychological intervention and an improvement in the political, social and economic conditions in the Gaza Strip," he said. Among those who need help is Muhammad Ayman, a teenager who said he watched close friend Muhammed Shreitih bleed to death after being shot in the head by an Israeli settler.

Police arrest rabbi for ’inciting Palestinians’ in East Jerusalem
Meron Rapoport, Ha’aretz 3/14/2008
Israel Police on Thursday arrested Arik Ascherman, the executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights, for "inciting Palestinians to oppose the police" in East Jerusalem. Heated tensions between residents of the Silwan village in East Jerusalem and the Israel Police erupted over excavation works that have recently began in the village. The excavations are being carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and are sponsored by Elad association, which promotes the "Judaization" of East Jerusalem. Silwan residents say the excavation work is being carried out directly underneath their homes, and have proceeded to set up a demonstration tent on a private lot belonging to one of the village residents. A few confrontations subsequently broke out, and the residents maintained that the police deliberately harassed them.

Report: Yeshiva graduates plan revenge attack against Arab figure
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 3/12/2008
Students from the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem, where an Israeli Arab gunman killed eight students last Thursday, planned a revenge attack against a senior Arab official affiliated with a Jerusalem mosque, Channel 1 television reported Tuesday. The attack has not been carried out and no arrests have been made, Channel 1 quoted security sources as saying. According to the report, three yeshiva alumni met at the school with two rabbis to discuss whether Jewish law would permit such an attack. The television channel reported that one of the rabbis gave his blessing for the attack, and an additional rabbi from a Tel Aviv suburb also gave his approval for the attack. "Torah law is that you should respond," Channel 1 quoted one of the rabbis as saying. The plan was to harm a senior Arab official affiliated with a mosque at the disputed Jerusalem holy site, Temple Mount, Channel One said.

Police officers slam Jerusalem chief’s ignorance about yeshiva attack
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 3/12/2008
Police officers on Tuesday criticized the results of the initial investigation into last week’s terror attack at Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem, in which eight students were killed, as presented by Jerusalem District Police chief Aharon Franco to senior commanders on Monday. Franco spent only a few minutes going over the incident, and according to senior officers, he was unable to answer many of the questions he was asked about it. Franco emphasized in the meeting that the district’s investigation is ongoing and will only be completed in another few days. An officer who attended Monday’s meeting said Tuesday that that the incident report raised questions about its timeline, from the terrorist’s entry into the yeshiva until his death. In addition, Franco was unable to end another mystery: Where did David Shapira, the Israel Defense Forces...

Israeli jets hit northern Gaza
Al Jazeera 3/13/2008
Israeli fighter jets have hit targets in the northern Gaza Strip after a dozen rockets were fired towards southern Israel, the Israeli military says. Thursday’s developments effectively ended a tacit truce respected by both sides since March 8, and came a day after the deaths of several Palestinian fighters at the hands of Israeli forces. However, a senior Hamas official told Al Jazeera that efforts by Egyptian mediators to end the crisis between Israel and the Palestinian group were continuing. He said they were discussing terms for reopening the Rafah crossing with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority both having a role. Israel’s army radio reported that Omar Suleiman, the Egyptian intelligence chief, was due in Israel next week to try to advance truce efforts. The Islamic Jihad group fired more than one dozen rockets from the Gaza Strip early on Thursday but they caused little damage and no injuries.

Security forces hunting Gazan heading to Israel from Strip
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 3/13/2008
Israeli security forces on Thursday were searching for a Palestinian man who escaped supervision at a Gaza border crossing and fled toward Israel, Army Radio reported. The man had been given permission to cross from the Gaza Strip into Egypt through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing for medical treatment, the radio said. The border with Egypt has been a sensitive subject for the three sides, since Hamas militants breached a frontier wall at the Rafah crossing in late January. Egypt has since sealed the border, and Israel’s defense establishment has promised to set up a security wall along the length of the border within the coming years. The crossings between Egypt and Gaza are a source of tension due to the consistet smuggling of weapons and people.

Rightist rabbis call on Jews to avenge yeshiva killings
Yair Ettinger, Ha’aretz 3/13/2008
A group of rabbis identified with the extreme right called on Jews Wednesday to avenge their enemies "measure for measure." An anti-Zionist rabbi, meanwhile, called the massacre "divine punishment." Notices in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood, the location of the Mercaz Harav yeshiva where a Palestinian gunman shot to death eight students last week, said: "Each and everyone is required to imagine what the enemy is plotting to do to us, and to match it measure for measure." The rabbis also said it was necessary "to work to create a proper Jewish leadership," and looked forward to the day when "Jews will congregate in their cities... and strike those who wish upon them ill in those days at this time." The latter alludes to the Book of Esther, which will be read next week on Purim.

One hour after Olmert’s solidarity visit, rocket strikes southern Ashkelon
Yuval Azoulay and Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 3/13/2008
A Qassam rocket was launched yesterday afternoon from the northern Gaza Strip toward Ashkelon only an hour after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ended a visit to the city. The rocket fell in an open area in southern Ashkelon. There were no damage or injuries. It was the first and only rocket fired from Gaza since Sunday, and it did not elicit an Israeli response. In most cases this week, single mortars were fired at Israel, most of which fell within the Gaza Strip. Ashkelon came under Hamas rocket fire in the recent round of fighting, with a number of Katyushas fired at the city. With regard to the recent relative calm, Olmert said, "They aren’t shooting, and it’s not out of love for Israel and not because they suddenly have taken control of those launching the rockets. We are hitting them painfully and they are pausing to think about it.

VIDEO - News / Gaza militants pound W. Negev with Qassams, shattering lull
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 3/13/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 news roundup for March 13, 2008. In this edition: Gaza militants pound the western Negev with Qassam rockets, shattering a recent lull. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni says that Israel is to halt West Bank settlement activities. Jerusalem’s Mercaz Harav yeshiva commemorates its eight students slain in last Thursday’s terror attack. The body of gunman responsible for the yeshiva shooting attack is buried in a private East Jerusalem ceremony. [end]

Islamic Jihad resumes rocket attacks on Israel after brief lull
Toni O''Loughlin in Jerusalem The Guardian, The Guardian 3/14/2008
The tacit ceasefire between Hamas and Israel ended yesterday when Palestinian militants launched a volley of rockets and Israel responded with an air raid on Gaza. After seven days of relative calm between Hamas and Israel, rival Palestinian groups indicated they would no longer support Hamas’s proposal for a ceasefire. Islamic Jihad, a group backed by Iran, said it had launched 17 rockets from Gaza as an "initial response" to Israel’s raid in the West Bank the night before, in which four fighters were killed. The fresh violence came within hours of Hamas’s announcement on Wednesday that it and other groups, such as Islamic Jihad, were seeking a ceasefire with Israel through Egyptian-mediated talks. But Hamas has yet to clarify whether it would withdraw from the US-sanctioned negotiations.

Smuggler buried alive when tunnel collapses near Egypt-Gaza border
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 3/13/2008
EL-ARISH - An underground tunnel collapsed early Wednesday near Egypt’s border with the Gaza strip, burying alive one smuggler and injuring another, a security official said. Palestinian smuggler Mohammed el-Bashiti and five others had nearly finished expanding the 600 meter tunnel from Gaza into Egypt located 10 meters beneath the ground, when the ceiling gave way, said the official. According to the official, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity, el-Bashiti precipitated the collapse of the tunnel’s sandy ceiling when he pushed a pole through to the surface in effort to show his accomplices where the tunnel ended. The tunnel stretched from the al-Salam district on the Palestinian side and ended in Rafah’s Canada neighborhood on the Egyptian side.

A ’moderna’ yeshiva, but still a yeshiva
Yair Ettinger, Ha’aretz 3/13/2008
"Jerusalem is weeping over the fact that Jewish boys were unfortunately murdered in such a terrible way. When the head weeps, the entire body weeps, and when Jerusalem weeps all of Israel weeps about such a bitter tragedy." Ultra-Orthodox readers who saw these words this week rubbed their eyes. Not because of the emotional content, but because of the identity of the speaker - Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, the head of the Satmar Hasidim; the chasm that separates Satmar and Mercaz Harav circles is deeper than that between the yeshiva and the circles in which Education Minister Yuli Tamir, for example, grew up." The death of young men is as hard for the Holy One, blessed be He as the destruction of the Temple," the admor (leader of a Hasidic sect) told his disciples on Shabbat, in Yiddish, "but when, God forbid, such a tragedy occurs, that that murderers enter the yeshiva, a yeshiva where young men are studying, even though it’s a ’moderna yeshiva,’ it’s still a yeshiva where young men study Torah, Gemara..."

Police holding body of yeshiva terrorist in row over funeral
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 3/11/2008
Police are holding the body of the terrorist who attacked the Merkaz Harav yeshiva last week, pending agreement with his family that the funeral would not turn into a show of support for his actions. Police had initially agreed to release the body of the gunman, a resident of East Jerusalem, for burial on Monday. However, shortly before the planned release of the body, the police learned that a large number of people and media had assembled at the cemetery. Police officials decided in response not to hand over the body, saying that the family had breached the terms of their agreement. A proposal that the funeral be held late at night to prevent a large showing was later rejected by police, who claimed the family had broken its promise not to leak the news.

Body of yeshiva gunman buried in private East J’lem ceremony
Avi Isaacharoff Jonathan Lis and Shahar Ilans, Ha’aretz 3/13/2008
The body of a terrorist who carried out a deadly shooting attack at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem last Thursday was buried in a discreet ceremony in the village of Jabel Mukaber in East Jerusalem late Thursday night. Police arrived at the family home of Alaa Abu Dhaim Thursday morning and escorted his father and three brothers to the graveyard, where they held a private ceremony at 3 A. M. in the morning. Police said they had planned to hand over Abu Dhaim’s body to his family on Sunday but did not do so after learning that dozens of people and several television crews were in attendance. Abu Dhaim shot and killed seven teenage boys and one 26-year-old, and wounded nine others, when he burst into the Mercaz Harav seminary in Jerusalem’s Kiryat Moshe neighborhood and opened fire in the library.

Egypt quietly lets in 230 patients from Gaza
Electronic Intifada 3/13/2008
JERUSALEM/GAZA, 12 March 2008 (IRIN) - Egypt has allowed over 200 Palestinian patients from the Gaza Strip to make their way into Egypt via the Rafah border crossing, according to Palestinian health officials. After the large-scale Israeli incursion into Jabalya refugee camp at the end of February and beginning of March, which killed about 120 and caused many injuries, Egypt allowed some of the wounded to enter its territory through Rafah. A Palestinian health official in Gaza told IRIN over 230 people had crossed since then. Hospitals and health centers in Gaza have been under severe strain for many months because of Israeli restrictions on fuel and other imports. The Rafah crossing has been shut since 9 June 2007, shortly before the Islamist group Hamas"™s takeover of Gaza. In January, the entire border area was breached by Palestinian militants for a few days.

Israeli leftist Fahima consoles family of J’lem yeshiva terrorist
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 3/12/2008
Israeli left-wing activist Tali Fahima, previously convicted of aiding Palestinian militants, paid a consolation visit to the family of the terrorist who gunned down students at a Jerusalem yeshiva last Thursday, killing eight. "I was with the family and I have no doubt that the State of Israel’s security forces are mainly just inflaming [the situation], and causing the killing of citizens - like those yeshiva students, because of the many years-long policy of occupation," Fahima told Israel Radio. Eight yeshiva students between the ages of 15 and 26 were killed in the attack at the Mercaz Harav seminary, and nine others were wounded. According to Fahima, "I would be happy to visit the families of the murdered [yeshiva students], but if I arrive there they would kill me." Fahima demanded that Israel immediately turn the terrorist’s body over to his family. "Give them their body right now. There is no issue here of siding with the act or not," she said.

Germany pours cold water on Sarkozy union · Merkel opposes alliance with Maghreb and Israel
The Guardian 3/14/2008
President Nicolas Sarkozy was last night forced to back away from an ambitious scheme to launch a French-led "Mediterranean Union" linking the EU’s southern states in a political club with the Maghreb, Turkey and Middle Eastern countries including Israel. Sarkozy had planned to launch the bold new union when France took over the presidency of the EU in July, but climbed down after fierce opposition from Angela Merkel, the German chancellor. At an EU summit in Brussels last night, Sarkozy and Merkel jointly proposed a much looser grouping, to be initiated at a summit of EU and Mediterranean countries in Paris in JulyWorried that the Sarkozy scheme would split the EU while leaving the wealthier countries of Germany and Scandinavia footing the bill for an exercise in French aggrandisement, Merkel was said to have threatened to boycott the Paris summit unless Sarkozy scaled back his plans. "She was very firm," said EU diplomats. "They had quite a fight about this."

Israel and the U.S. / Washington dissatisfied with Israel’s footdragging in W. Bank
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 3/14/2008
Tension between Jerusalem and Washington is intensifying over the latter’s frustration over the stasis in the West Bank, especially with regard to the removal of roadblocks and the evacuation of settlement outposts. The Americans feel that Israel is not keeping its promises to improve the day-to-day life of West Bank Palestinians. A trilateral committee to monitor implementation of the first stage of the road map is scheduled to hold its first meeting on Friday. The meeting will be conducted by U.S. General William Fraser, who was appointed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to follow progress on the road map. Defense Minister Ehud Barak was originally set to attend the meeting, but he decided to send a senior adviser, Amos Gilad, in his stead. That could prove embarrassing, as the Palestinian side will be represented by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Hezbollah becoming more visible in West Bank after Mughniyah death
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 3/14/2008
"Hezbollah is coming," mourners chanted at Thursday’s funeral of a Palestinian militant killed by Israel, his body wrapped in the flag of the Lebanese-based guerrilla group. A Hezbollah flag, along with Hamas banners, also adorned the home of an Israeli Arab man who gunned down students at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem last week, killing eight. A shadowy group Palestinian security officials say is a front for Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the rampage. Hezbollah has long operated behind the scenes in the Palestinian territories, funneling millions of dollars to militant groups for attacks against Israel, according to Israeli and Palestinian security officials. The Lebanese group’s influence has become increasingly visible in the West Bank since last month’s assassination of its military chief, Imad Mughniyah,...

Israel and France have a second honeymoon as Peres visits Sarkozy
Adar Primor, Ha’aretz 3/14/2008
PARIS - Judging by the special exhibition which the Quai d’Orsay put on for President Shimon Peres on Thursday, it was France, rather than the neighbor across the channel, that supported establishing a national home for the Jews in Israel. Among the dozens of documents - letters, maps, photos and books - from the Archives Directorate was one the French call the "French Balfour Declaration" - a letter written by Quai d’Orsay Secretary General Jules Cambon on June 4, 1917 to the then president of the World Zionist Organization, Nahum Sokolow, supporting the return of the Jews to their homeland. The exhibition - "The Origins of the State of Israel" - also showed Napoleon Bonaparte’s proclamation of 1799, inviting all of Asia and Africa’s Jews to unite under the French flag and establish a "new Jerusalem.

In Lyon, Peres meets survivors and protesters
Adar Primor, Ha’aretz 3/14/2008
The third day of President Shimon Peres’ state visit to France was devoted to the city of Lyon. According to French rules of ceremony, a state visit must include a city beside the capital. Peres chose Lyon. He met with Holocaust survivors and representatives of the resistance movements, and wrote in the visitors book of the French Resistance museum: "The horrors of the Nazis will echo forever." Some 30 to 40 protesters gathered outside the museum to demonstrate against the visit. According to Army Radio, the protesters, many of whom were Palestinians, held signs reading ’Erase Israel’ and ’Israel is a criminal. ’ The police moved in quickly to quell the protest; demonstrators who refused to leave were dragged away. Later, Peres inaugurated a Jewish cultural center with the chief rabbi of Lyon, the city’s imam and the head of Lyon’s church, and praised the "marvelous coexistence in the city..."

Between rockets and hard places
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 3/13/2008
RAMALLAH - On Wednesday night, a few hours after the assassination of four armed Palestinians in Bethlehem and a fifth in Tul Karm, the bureau of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) released a statement condemning Israel - the harshest since the renewal of negotiations between the sides. "This barbaric crime reveals the fake mask Israel has been hiding behind, talking about peace but committing crimes and killing sons of our people every day," said the statement. The scathing text reflected the great frustration of people at the Muqata in light of the scornful attitude Israel has shown toward them: whether in the political negotiations with the team headed by Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala) or vis-a-vis the Palestinian president’s people, who are conducting the security talks and are being treated in an especially humiliating wayA few hours before the assassinations, one of

VIDEO - Al-Jazeera slams Israeli boycott as attack on freedom of expression
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 3/13/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 news roundup for March 13, 2008. The Foreign Ministry’s decision on Wednesday to boycott Al-Jazeera stemmed from government outrage at the network’s coverage of Israel Defense Forces operations in Gaza, which the ministry said constituted incitement to terror. The Qatari-based TV network’s Jerusalem bureau denounced the decision as anti-democratic and an attack on the freedom of expression. [end]

Egypt tries to broker Gaza ceasefire - Intelligence chief in talks with Hamas and Israel
Toni O''Loughlin in Jerusalem, The Guardian 3/12/2008
Egypt is working behind the scenes to try to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, with Arab sources reporting that Israel has asked for a 30-day "trial period" of quiet, after which it would accept Egyptian calls for a ceasefire or hudna. Israel continues to deny any contact, direct or indirect, with its Palestinian Islamist enemy but diplomats say the key figure is Omar Suleiman, President Hosni Mubarak’s intelligence chief, who has met separately with Hamas and Israeli officials since the recent Israeli operation to end rocket fire from Gaza. A total of 120 Palestinians and three Israelis were killed. Eight other Israelis were gunned down in a Jerusalem seminary last Thursday. Yesterday prospects for a ceasefire were tested when a rocket landed near the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, shortly after Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, visited the town.

Hamas sets out terms for ceasefire
Toni O''Loughlin in Jerusalem, The Guardian 3/12/2008
Hamas today publicly called for a ceasefire with Israel, demanding a "reciprocal, comprehensive and simultaneous" cessation of the conflict in Gaza and the West Bank. Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’s administrative arm in Gaza, said the group would end violence if Israel stopped its military activity throughout the Palestinian territory, lifted the sanctions on Gaza and opened the besieged strip’s borders. The proposal came on day five of an uneasy lull in the violence between Hamas and Israel. The calm was threatened today when Israeli forces raided a West Bank town, killing four Palestinians militants including Mohammed Shehadeh, a local Islamic Jihad commander The previous day, Palestinian militants in Gaza hit a major southern Israeli town with a long-range rocket. Having outlined its demands, Hamas is waiting to meet the Egyptians, who are hosting US-supported back-channel talks. It says the ball is now in Israel’s court.

IDF officers on mission to woo Haredi recruits
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 3/14/2008
Israel Defense Force officers are in contact with representatives of the ultra-Orthodox public to raise the number of religious youths serving in the army and to lower the number of those deferring service for yeshiva study. A senior officer in the IDF Human Resources Branch said yesterday the goal is to reduce the number of those not serving to only 5 percent. Today over 11 percent of those eligible for military service do not enlist for such reasons, though this percentage represents almost all of the draft-age ultra-Orthodox youth. "We are speaking with anyone who is willing to talk to us in the ultra-Orthodox community on this matter, and we are conducting a dialogue with them. This is a realistic goal," said the senior officer. The March induction is now underway, and there is a clear rise in the number of soldiers wanting to join combat units.

Shas slams IDF plan to decrease Haredi exemption from army
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 3/13/2008
The Shas political party slammed an Israel Defense Forces initiative Wednesday which aims to decrease the number of Haredi exemptions from the army for religious reasons, maintaining it is an "illegal" act. A senior IDF officer said on Wednesday that the number of Israeli citizens who are exempt from IDF service for religious reasons will decrease in the coming years as a result of intensive negotiations between the IDF and the heads of various religious factions. The officer maintained that the IDF aims to bring a sharp decrease in the number of those exempt from army service because of religious reasons to five percent in the next 10 years. Currently, almost 100 percent of Haredi males do not enlist because of religious reasons, which constitutes 11. 5 percent of each year’s overall enlistment.

NIS 400M added to budget allotted to protecting Gaza-area communities
Zvi Zrahiya, Ha’aretz 3/10/2008
The Knesset Finance Committee on Monday approved a NIS 400 million increase to the budget allotted to protecting Gaza-area communities from rockets. The budget is designated for the building of fortified schools and homes in communities within the range of rockets fired almost daily from the Gaza Strip. Another NIS 34 million were also added to budget for the purpose of granting Gaza-area residents discounts on municipal taxes. Representatives of the Finance Ministry budgeting department said that the increase included the NIS 58 million required to complete the fortification of the eight school buildings. The chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, MK Stas Misezhnikov (Yisrael Beiteinu) said Monday that "giving assistance to the residents of Sderot and Gaza-area communities must be the guiding principle for all the...

Targeted assassination / Little room for mistakes
Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoffs, Ha’aretz 3/14/2008
The fragile, indirect agreement the Egyptians brokered between Israel and Hamas over Gaza will meet its first test Thursday. The killings Wednesday of five wanted militants by the Israel Police’s anti-terrorism unit, in two incidents on the West Bank, is likely to spur Islamic Jihad into attempting retaliatory rocket attacks from Gaza into the Negev. It seems we’ve been here many times before. While official Israel denies the existence of an understanding with Hamas, in practice the past week was the quietest in months on the Gaza border. Wednesday’s incidents emphasize the understandings’ main weakness, which can end the calm at any moment. Hamas is demanding that the cease-fire include an Israeli commitment, in the long term, to stop arresting terror suspects in the West Bank.

But did you know he’s a Muslim?
Bradley Burston, Ha’aretz 3/13/2008
"A couple of Israelis I’ve spoken with - very smart, well-educated, thoughtful Israelis - told me that yesterday. I was a little taken aback, but why should I be surprised, when Americans tell me that all the time?" Levine has seen his fair share of Israel-oriented American political infighting, having served as senior Mideast policy advisor to both Al Gore and John Kerry, as a board member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lobbying organization for six years, and as the author of the pre-Oslo Levine amendment, which conditioned any U.S. recognition of Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization on the PLO’s recognition of Israel’s right to exist and its rejection of terror. But he has never seen the likes of the ongoing mass e-mail campaigns, which have leveled a succession of allegations against Obama,...

Israel falls behind the times in having woman parliamentarians
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 3/14/2008
December was a difficult month for the status of women in Israel’s parliament. On November 30, Israel held the unflattering 74th spot in Inter-Parliamentary Union’s ranking for number of women legislators. But during December it dropped to the 83rd spot out of a total of 135 parliaments counted, the lowest level since such counts appeared on the Internet, a decade ago. Ahead of Israel are Angola (79th), Zambia (78) and Borat’s Kazakhstan (75th). In Israel’s parliament there are 17 women out of 120 MKs, which comes to 14. 2 percent. In Uganda there are 30. 7 percent, which ranks it 18th. In Iraq, one out of every four lawmakers is a woman, ranking it 33rd. Tunisia at 42nd and Ethiopia at 47th, are much more enlightened than us in this aspect of politics. By the way, the top spot is not held by a Scandinavian country: Rwanda is number one with 48.

News in Brief
Ha’aretz 3/14/2008
Pilgrims to Mecca won’t lose stipends Muslim recipients of supplementary income will be able to leave Israel for 23 days to observe the hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) commandment without losing their stipends, Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog said this week. Until now pilgrims who failed to report to the Employment Service for two weeks or longer lost their allowances. Pilgrims from Israel must travel thousands of kilometers via Jordan to Saudi Arabia and back. (Ha’aretz Correspondent) Greens charge in court battle over Negev base The defense establishment yesterday asked the High Court of Justice to continue construction on the large training compound in the Negev while an environment survey is being conducted. Adam Teva V’Din (the Israel Union for Environmental Defense) had petitioned the court to stop the work until the planned compound undergoes civilian planning procedures.

Food company, co-owner indicted for trading with Gaza terrorists
Ofra Edelman, Ha’aretz 3/13/2008
An Israeli man indicted on Thursday for selling food to Gaza militants. The Tel Aviv District Court heard that Shalom Hatuka, 59, of Rishon Letzion, and Shintraco Ltd. , a food company he co-owns, imported and delivered food supplies to a Gaza company that had been declared a terrorist organization. The State Prosecution claims that the defendants traded with the Gaza company from April 2006 to February 2007 despite being aware of the illegality of such partnership. Shintraco delivered its Gaza partner lentils, rice, tea, peas, beans and peanuts worth NIS 2. 2 million, in addition to another NIS 1. 4 million’s worth of various transactions. The Prosecution claims that legally these profits are considered as money laundering, and that NIS 1. 5 million should be sequestered from the defendants.

How to break the ice
Hila Raz and Efrat Neuman, Ha’aretz 3/13/2008
Ruth Halperin-Kaddari served as head of the Israeli delegation to the UN Commission on the Status of Women for three years (2003-2005). In 1997 and 2001, she wrote the official Reports of the State of Israel to the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. In June 2006, she was chosen as Israel’s delegate to the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Her election to the position received the support of 96 of the 183 countries that participated in the vote. Discussions are held three times a year in Geneva and New York. Did you make contact with the delegates from Arab countries on the committee? Halperin-Kaddari: "The Egyptian delegate on the committee is a woman known for her unsympathetic positions toward Israel. She dresses beautifully and looks elegant and distinguished..."

MKs launch caucus to aid immigration from the West
Daphna Berman, Ha’aretz 3/12/2008
A Knesset caucus to promote western aliyah was formed Tuesday, amid warnings that the unsolved ulpan dispute could leave new immigrants without free Hebrew instruction beginning September 1, a situation that is expected to negatively affect immigration rates. The caucus, headed by MK Gilad Erdan (Likud) and MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima), is aiming to reduce bureaucratic barriers surrounding aliyah, as well as further legislation - including sizable tax breaks - to encourage western immigration. Licensing difficulties that face a number of immigrants as they try to establish themselves professionally here, as well as the economic difficulties involved in relocating, are also on the caucus agenda. "One of the issues we’re looking into is providing tax benefits for immigrants to encourage aliyah," Erdan told Haaretz Tuesday at the caucus launch.

Shas urges PM to continue aliyah of Ethiopian Falashmura
Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 3/12/2008
Shas ministers have asked Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to reverse the decision to halt the aliyah campaign for the Ethiopian Falashmura community. The Falashmura claim Jewish ancestry, despite having converted to Christianity over the years. Shas Chairman Eli Yishai told Haaretz that the immigration should continue according to the criteria set by the Chief Rabbi." If the state encourages the aliyah of people who aren’t [halakhically] Jews from the former U.S. S. R. , so why not Ethiopians? " Yishai asked. In late 2004, a ministerial panel decided to review the eligibility of 17,000 members of the Falashmura community to make aliyah. The Interior Ministry envoy has recently finished the eligibility checks and returned to Israel last month. There are currently 800 Falashmura awaiting aliyah, which is expected to be complete by June.

Justice Min. says he’ll freeze bill to restrict Supreme Court power
Tomer Zarhin, Ha’aretz 3/12/2008
Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann told reporters on Tuesday that he intends to freeze a bill aimed at curtailing the power of the Supreme Court by limiting the issues on which it can rule. Friedmann said that he hopes that at this stage, after several new judges have been appointed, the Supreme Court will "take the initiative to restrict its own jurisdiction without any need of legislation." Friedmann had sought to bar the Supreme Court from ruling on defense and fiscal issues, or State Prosecution decisions made on criminal issues, plea bargains and the closing of cases. Meanwhile, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch hinted that Friedmann’s moves to restrict the court were due to personal motivations, in an interview published in the Israel Bar Association’s journal.

Israeli, Arab musicians to play Wagner in Berlin fundraiser for Ramallah
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 3/14/2008
The orchestra is scheduled to perform Wagner’s "Die Walkuere" on August 23 at Berlin’s Waldbuehne - an arena built as part of the complex for the 1936 Olympics by the Nazis. Barenboim said that "Hitler and Wagner would be turning in their graves" if they found out about the concert. He denied, however, that his group had grand political ambitions. "The only thing we say is that we do not believe there is a military solution to the conflict in Palestine," he said. "People need to learn how to live with each other and listen to each other. That’s what we do as musicians every day." He said a concert hall in Ramallah would go far in improving the daily lives of Palestinians. "Political negotiations are important, but everyday life is even more important," he said.

Poll: Nearly 50% of Israeli Jews don’t want to live near Arabs
Fadi Eyadat, Ha’aretz 3/13/2008
About half the Jewish public objects to Arabs’ living in Jewish neighborhoods, a Haifa University public opinion poll finds. Fifty-six percent of Israeli Arabs strongly support living in the same neighborhood as Jews. While 69 percent of the Jews in Israel support friendship with Arabs, 54 percent said they had no Arab friends. Professors Faisal Azaiza and Rahel Hertz Lazarowitz, who conducted the survey, interviewed representative samples of 501 Jews and 513 Arabs. Only 29 percent of the Jews were very much in favor of living in the same neighborhood as Arabs, and 23 percent supported this moderately. Some 19 percent of the Arab public supported shared neighborhoods moderately, while 25 percent objected to Arabs’ living in Jewish neighborhoods. The survey finds that 14 percent of the Jewish public objects to being friends with Arabs; 17 percent do not object to it but prefer friendship with a Jew, while 69 percent were unreservedly willing to be friends with Arabs.

Two steps backward
Hila Raz and Efrat Neuman, Ha’aretz 3/13/2008
After years of being refused a get (bill of divorce), R. , an ultra-Orthodox woman from the United States, was finally granted one from her husband. The husband, who had immigrated to Israel, filed a petition with a rabbinical court, demanding custody of their son. Beyond R. ’s fear that the court would grant the husband’s custody request, she also learned during the proceedings that the validity of her divorce was in question. The rabbinical court could decide that she was, in fact, still married. Other women whose get had been approved by a rabbinical court could also suddenly find out that the same court that granted the divorce had decided to invalidate it. Such a scenario can arise when the husband claims that the divorce is contingent on the agreement to certain conditions (such as the size of alimony payments), and the wife tries to change these terms.

AUDIO - My outrage was an inadequate reaction
The Guardian 3/12/2008
Outgoing Ha’aretz editor David Landau says Israelis should focus on the real issues in the Israel-Palestine conflict instead of attacking the media. [end]

’Along comes a blow like this and realigns everyone’
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 3/11/2008
"The worst Israeli government is immeasurably better than the best diaspora. Ever since the establishment of the state, we have rejoiced in it despite its flaws." That is what Rabbi Haim Druckman, head of the Bnei Akiva religious youth movement, has been saying over and over again since the uprooting of the Gaza settlements. Druckman is sticking to his support for the state even now, as the minister of education is being ejected from the grieving Mercaz Harav Yeshiva. He repeats a story from the Jerusalem Talmud that he also used after the uprooting of Gush Katif, about a man "who was cutting meat and, while using his right hand, cut his left hand by mistake. Are you going to cut the right hand to avenge the left hand? What kind of stupid person is going to cut his own hand again? We are one people, and even though some parts of our people..."

Police: Organized crime groups traffic Palestinians into Israel
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 3/12/2008
Organized crime groups have recently started smuggling Palestinians into Israel, Superintendent Eli Davidson of the police national investigations unit told the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee on Tuesday. The committee, headed by Labor MK Ophir Pines-Paz, debated the extension of the effect of a temporary regulation aimed at forbidding the transportation of Palestinians who enter Israel without sufficient permits. Police figures that were presented to the panel indicate that nearly 500 people were jailed in the course of 2007 for driving Palestinians who had not been accorded permits. 300 others were sentenced to suspended imprisonment and another 20 were acquitted. A Shin Bet security service official told the panel that among the detainees were some of the people who drove the perpetrators of last month’s suicide bombing in Dimona to the site.

Israel Bank intervenes in foreign currency market, buys dollars
Moti Bassok Hagai Amit and Dafna Maors, Ha’aretz 3/14/2008
The Bank of Israel intervened in the foreign currency market on Thursday for the first time since 1997 and bought dollars. The move surprised almost everyone in the financial markets given that central bank governor Stanley Fischer, as well its foreign currency department head Barry Topf, had previously said the possibility that the bank would intervene was unlikely, and would only occur if there was a market failure. The Bank of Israel stubbornly refused to say how many dollars it had purchased. Its simple, short announcement said: "The Bank of Israel says that in light of the unusual behavior of the shekel exchange rate in recent days, the Bank of Israel has purchased foreign currency during trading." The bank also refused to say whether it would continue to intervene in coming days.

Dollar falls to 10-year low against shekel, trading at NIS 3.515
Tal Levy and Nathan Sheva, TheMarker, Ha’aretz 3/12/2008
The dollar continued to tumble against the shekel on Wednesday, after it fell by 1. 73 percent on Tuesday to an official exchange rate of 3. 515, dropping to its lowest point in more than 10 years. Tuesday’s drop caps a decline by the dollar of 8. 6 percent since the beginning of the year. The last time it traded this low was in December 1997. It may be hard to discern the trend on a day-to-day basis, but seen from the start of the year, it’s impossible to miss the fact that the dollar is continuing to dive. This fall harms manufacturers who are paid in the United States currency for their exports, for which in turn they receive fewer shekels. Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer’s decision in late February to lower interest rates by 0. 5 percent stemmed in part, at least, from considerable pressure by representatives of manufacturers over this point.

Central Bank surprise / A risky step that may not work
Nehemia Strasler, Ha’aretz 3/14/2008
For the past 11 years Bank of Israel officials prided themselves that our currency market was completely unregulated. Until yesterday. Until the bank’s governor broke and decided to intervene. In recent days, Bank of Israel officials saw "unusual behavior in the exchange rate." The revaluation rate accelerated and the shekel became stronger, not only versus the dollar but also against the other currencies such as the euro and the yen. Also, the currency’s standard deviation (which is used for evaluating risk) had risen significantly in recent days. Stanley Fischer told bank officials during deliberations that the market seemed to have lost its anchor, and that the rate was dropping beyond any reasonable estimation of the value of the shekel. He said this was part of a "herd effect" that occurs when there are large sales without noticing the price.

U.S. immigrant builds bridges with the ’Facebook of peace’
Oded Yaron, Ha’aretz 3/13/2008
At some point, every member of the networking website Facebook is invited to join noble campaigns such as "Save Darfur!," promote causes such as gay rights, support Barack Obama’s presidential bid, or join a "save water, drink beer" group. Virtual activism is on the rise thanks to Facebook and other social networks, but in many cases it is not more than another bland item on the profile page. The founder of Mepeace. org, a Web site that connects Israelis, Palestinians and people from other parts of the planet, believes that independent social networks are still relevant. A former yeshiva student, Eyal Raviv says he has gone through a long process of secularization and devoting himself to promote peace. Raviv, who immigrated from the Untied States three years ago, initially conceived his Web site as a forum for Israeli peace activists only.

Delta Airlines launches daily Israel flights from JFK
Globes Online 3/10/2008
Over 600,000 tourists visited Israel from North America in 2007. To meet increased demand, Delta Airlines has extended its activities in Israel and has begun to operate a new route, between New York’s John F. Kennedy airport and Tel Aviv, adding another 100,000 seats for 2008. This is in addition to its daily flight from Atlanta to Tel Aviv which began operating in 2005. El Al has also decided recently to increase the frequency of its flights on the New York - Tel Aviv route. Delta’s inaugural flight takes off on Monday from JFK, and lands at Ben Gurion airport on Tuesday, March 11 with a festive reception. 620,000 tourists visited Israel in 2007 - the best year ever for tourism from North America - and an increase of more than 10% over 2006. This past January saw an increase of 20% in the number of tourists from North America, with approximately 50,000 incoming tourists as opposed to 41,000 in the same month of 2007.

Political crisis set to worsen
Electronic Intifada 3/13/2008
TYRE, Lebanon, 12 March (IPS) - Soon after the US destroyer USS Cole was deployed off Lebanon’s shore 28 February to "preserve political stability", a group of young men gathered around in the embattled agricultural town Qana in south Lebanon, and voiced their fears. "Everyone feels there is a war coming," said Salman Ismael, a 22-year-old university student. "Especially after the killing of (Hizballah commander) Imad Mughniyeh and what is happening in Gaza. And now US ships come to the waters of Lebanon. Israel wants to improve her army in the Middle East after its defeat in 2006, she wants the Arabs to be scared of her." Mughniyeh is described by Hizballah officials as a top military commander during the 2006 war with Israel, and his assassination 12 February in the heart of Damascus strikes a heavy blow at Hizballah and Syrian security concerns.

Iran shifts focus fully on Iraq
Sami Moubayed, Asia Times 3/11/2008
DAMASCUS - The Arab press covered, with mild enthusiasm, the visit of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad to Iraq. One reason was Arab preoccupation with the Israeli war on Gaza. Another reason was embarrassment. The Arabs, mainly the Saudi press that dominates Arab media, were ashamed that they had failed to establish the same kind of dominating presence that Iran enjoys in war-torn, oil-rich Iraq. By showing up in Baghdad, Ahmadinejad ended all speculation on who rules contemporary Iraq, along with the Americans. It certainly is not Saudi Arabia. The Iranians say it publicly; post-Saddam Hussein Iraq has been a blessing for the mullahs of Tehran. What was once the stronghold for obstructing Shi’itification is now a stepping stone for the Iranians to export the Islamic Revolution of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, through pro-Iran leaders like Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki,


Articles


Israeli sniper bullet takes 12-year-old girl’s life
Sami Abu Salem writing from Jabaliya, occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 3/10/2008
      "I put my hand on her chest to stop the streaming blood. She told me that she could not breathe, her body trembled and she closed her eyes," said Ra’d Abu Saif of his 12-year-old daughter Safa’s last moments after she was shot by an Israeli sniper last Saturday.
     Safa was shot in the left side of her chest while she was inside her home in Jabaliya, northern Gaza. An ambulance tried to reach her but Israeli soldiers opened fire at it, wounding a paramedic and causing the tires to lose air, and so she bled to death three hours after she was wounded.
     Her 39-year-old father Ra’d, 37-year-old mother Samar, and the rest of Safa’s family surrounded her, praying for her safety. Her father pressed on the wound while her brother Ali held her hands as her body was severely trembling. She asked her father to help her to breathe.
     "Dad, I cannot breathe, all of you leave me please, let me breathe, enough, enough," were Safa’s last words, according to her father.

Italian solidarity with Palestinian filmmaker on trial in Israel

Nicola Perugini, Electronic Intifada 3/10/2008
      At the end of last November, filmmaker Mohammad Bakri furiously left a press conference organized at the Library of the Auditorium of Rome. He was present because of the performance of the opera Al Kamandjati based on the story of Palestinian musician Ramzi Aburedwan and his music school in Ramallah. The reason for his anger was that not a single journalist asked him any questions when he announced that he would soon be tried in Israel because of his 2002 film Jenin Jenin.
     Jenin Jenin documents the aftermath of Israel’s April 2002 siege of the northern West Bank refugee camp, during which many of the residents were killed and a large part of the camp was leveled by bulldozers. Journalists were not allowed into the camp during the incursion and Israeli forces did not allow human rights organizations in immediately afterwards, and the film documents the destruction of the camp and the exasperation of camp residents during this time. Jenin Jenin co-producer Iyad Samudi was killed by Israeli forces shortly after the film’s completion.

The Nakba generation

Ziad Abbas writing from the United States, Electronic Intifada 3/10/2008
      This year, it will sixty years since the Nakba (Catastrophe). Sixty years since we Palestinians became refugees. More than six million Palestinian refugees are still living far from their villages, towns and cities as a result of the Zionist invasion that uprooted them from their homeland in 1948. Generations have been born, have grown up, and have died in refugee camps, but the international community still continues to ignore the political rights of the Palestinian refugees. What makes it sad for me as a refugee -- one who was born and grew up in a refugee camp, and struggling not to die in a refugee camp -- is that the Nakba generation is dying. There are only a few people still left in the camp who remember the experience of living in the villages that were stolen from us. There are only a few who can tell stories about what it was like to be uprooted, to be sent to live in a tent in a refugee camp. Part of my work in the oral history and media projects at Ibdaa Cultural and Community Center in Dheisheh refugee camp is to interview people and collect the stories and history that is still undocumented, so that when the people die their memories and stories do not die with them.
     This year, the sixtieth year, I came to finish my studies here in the United States and to complete an internship working with Middle East Children’s Alliance. I was planning before I left to do my best to raise awareness about the Nakba, and to raise the question of what these past sixty years have meant for the Palestinian people. Since I’ve been here I see that the American people are busy; many are working two jobs; their minds are occupied with their daily lives. Most people either don’t care, don’t have time to pay attention, or don’t want to know what is happening in Palestine, Iraq, or the rest of the world. This reminds me of what my uncle Mahmoud told me just before I left.

Big bang or chaos: What’s Israel up to?

Ramzy Baroud, Asia Times 3/12/2008
      Why did Israel attack Gaza with such brutality? Did Israeli officials think, even for a fleeting moment, that their army’s attacks could halt, as opposed to intensify, Palestinian rockets or retaliatory violence? Indeed, was Palestinian violence at all relevant to the Israeli action? Was the Israeli bloodletting in Gaza solely relevant to the Gaza/Hamas context, or is there a regional dimension that is largely being overlooked?
     In an al-Jazeera English TV discussion, Israeli journalist Gideon Levy and al-Quds al-Arabi editor-in-chief Abd al-Bari Atwan attempted to decipher Israel’s actions in Gaza which have, since February 27, killed more than 120 Palestinians and four Israeli soldiers. These attacks were followed by incursions and further violence, including an attack on a Jewish seminary school in Jerusalem.
     Levy explained that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak wanted to demonstrate to the Israeli public that he was "doing something" about the regular launching of rockets from Gaza. Although Levy wasn’t justifying the Israeli government’s inhumane and misguided logic, he disagreed with Atwan over the use of terminology. The latter (who is also an outstanding journalist) had asserted that the killings in Gaza represented a form of "genocide" and "ethnic cleansing".

Four deaths: whose security?

Report, PHR-Israel, Electronic Intifada 3/12/2008
      Access-related deaths of patients referred to medical care outside Gaza are hard to determine with statistical certainty. Since several factors are involved, it is very difficult to define how far the delay or denial of a permit has influenced the final outcome in each case. However, there is no doubt that every delay lessens the patient’s chances of recovery, and denies them the right to the best available medical care. The fact that in Gaza the delay has nothing to do with medical constraints of any kind, but with external reasons, makes the violation all the more serious and raises questions regarding the definition of the term "security" in the Israeli Secret Police (GSS) lexicon. For the individual patient, the difference between receiving a permit and receiving a rejection, or no answer at all, may be the difference between life and death.
     An additional constraint is the fact that many patients in Gaza, knowing the current situation at the border crossings, prefer to forego the hopeless process, and die at home, their stories untold and their voices unheard.
     Physicians for Human Rights-Israel has therefore chosen to tell the stories of the deaths of three women and one baby girl, as told by their families. The stories give a small glimpse of the Kafkaesque process, in which the suffering of sickness and the cruelty of a hostile bureaucracy combine to embitter the last days of these people’s lives.

Interview with single-state activist Dr. Haider Eid

Anna Weekes, Electronic Intifada 3/12/2008
      The following is an interview by Anna Weekes with Dr. Haidar Eid, Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature, Al-Aqsa University, Gaza Strip, Palestine:
     Anna Weekes: What is the current situation in the Gaza Strip?
     Haidar Eid: One cannot talk about the situation in the Gaza ghetto without feeling disillusioned. What is happening here is a slow genocide taking place before the eyes of a very indifferent world.
     The siege of Gaza and the continued illegal collective punishment of its residents by Israel has resulted in soaring food prices. Many foodstuffs, medicines and other goods, such as building material are no longer available. There are zero stocks available for 91 drugs. Hospitals are reporting zero stock availability of pediatric drugs, antibiotics, as chronic disease drugs, cancer treatment drugs, a range of kidney dialysis drugs and IV glucose solution. In addition, there are also shortages of kidney dialysis machine equipment. There is an increase in diarrhea amongst children and the possibility of outbreaks of typhoid and hepatitis if the blockade is not lifted. And the closure of the border crossing has resulted in [the dealths of] dozens of Palestinians in urgent need of medical treatment, including some terminally ill cancer patients [who] were refused entry to Israel or Egypt by the Shin Bet [Israel’s intelligence agency]. Dozens of other sick patients have also been denied access to hospitals in Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the West Bank. Thirty-eight of them, including children, have died over the last two weeks.

Crossing the Line interviews Gaza-based journalist Rami Almeghari

Podcast, Electronic Intifada 3/13/2008
      This week on Crossing the Line: Israel continues its siege and steps up attacks on the Gaza Strip killing more than 100 Palestinians, the majority of whom were civilians according to various human rights organizations. Host Naji Ali* speaks with journalist, Rami Almeghari, to get an update on the situation in Gaza.
     Next, in Canada the Jewish Defense League has been accused of arson at a student organization’s office, and at another campus a university provost bans student activists from using the term "Israeli Apartheid." Ali speaks with Laith Marouf, chapter coordinator of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, about these incidents and the other difficulties Palestine solidarity activists face in Canada.
     Also in the program, a poem by award winning Palestinian-American poet, Suheir Hammad.

Democracy, according to Shas

Avner Bernheimer, Ha’aretz 3/13/2008
      In the last few years, I’ve declined to react to the nonsense spewed by various Shas representatives regarding matters of current interest. Shas is a party that missed its historic opportunity to be important and to improve the standing of Mizrahi Jews. Its leaders are selected for their powers of rhetoric and sex appeal, which sometimes earns them the affection of certain liberal Ashkenazi media types, who quickly develop paternal and patronizing feelings for them.
     I’ll admit that I, too, once felt some ambivalence toward them for, having experienced years of discrimination and neglect, I could identify with their social struggle. But I was repulsed by their tendency to belittle the rights of anyone who didn’t toe the line of the Shas ideology as propounded by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. Nothing disgusts me more than one oppressed public that’s willing to trample all over another oppressed public.

The Rise of the Haredim in Israel

Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky, Northwest Ethnic Voice 1/10/1999
      Chapter 2 of Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel
     Although expanding steadily from the early 1970s, Jewish religious fundamentalism in Israel attracted relatively little interest in the dominant secularly oriented Israeli society until 1988. Members of the various Haredi sects, generally self-contained in residentially segregated areas of Israeli cities, led lives absorbed by concerns and preoccupations that appeared exotic at best to outsiders. Although some members of these sects clashed sharply over specific issues with the secular part of Israeli society and at those times acquired a bit of public attention, they were mostly ignored. The sensational Haredi political success in the Israeli parliamentary elections of 1988, predicted by none of the professional pollsters, surprised many people. Because of their continued political successes in succeeding elections through the 1990s, the Haredim put themselves into a position at various times to be able to dictate to the Israeli secular majority.
     The Haredi political successes not only caused many Israeli Jews to look more closely at and to be more concerned with the Haredim but also sparked increased attention abroad, especially in the United States. The interest generated in the United States prompted the writing and publication of many new books and articles in English that focused upon the folkloristic aspects of the Haredim but unfortunately largely ignored their basic ideology and world outlook. The following discussion will attempt to analyze, particularly for those readers who are not literate in Hebrew, the political importance of the Haredi upsurge. A crucial part of this analysis is the acceptance of the well-documented proposition that an understanding of the entire Israeli political right is to some extent dependent upon an understanding of the basic elements of Haredi politics, apart from the disagreements, splits and reunification efforts of many Haredi individuals and sects. The two major questions to be analyzed are:
     How have the Haredi parties secured their political influence?
     What organizational structure have the Haredi employed for maximum political success?

Dangerous fringes

Editorial, Ha’aretz 3/14/2008
      Four days after the attack on the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem, we are discovering a tense and disturbing situation. The massacre, which was directed against Jews who study in one of religious Zionism’s flagship institutions, exposed the extent of the rift between some parts of the religious right and the government.
     Flyers distributed yesterday in Jerusalem and the settlements and signed by 11 extreme-right rabbis deserve not only a harsh condemnation, but a determined response from the legal authorities. "Each and every one of us must imagine what the enemy is plotting to do to us, and to match it measure for measure," wrote the rabbis, including Daniel Staveski, Yitzhak Shapira, Yaakov Yosef, Gadi Ben-Zimra and Ido Elba, who in the past was convicted of racist incitement.
     We cannot accept the statement by one of the signatories, to the effect that the flyer does not call for private acts of revenge. The rabbis specifically write that "we must work to achieve a proper Jewish leadership, aside from welcome local actions" and hope for a situation in which "Jews will congregate in their cities ... and strike those who wish them ill, in those days at this season" - borrowing a verse from the Book of Esther to be read next week on Purim.

The PA’s hollow protests

Amira Hass, Ha’aretz 3/14/2008
      Senior Palestinian Authority officials can justifiably say that settlement construction continues despite everyone’s protests and condemnations - not only theirs. Europe is protesting, Peace Now is protesting, the United Nations is protesting and even Condoleezza Rice protests occasionally, not to mention Israel’s literary elite.
     The settlements continue to expand, along with the number of roads closed to Palestinians.
     PA officials will say that the antithetical tactics to negotiations and protests - the Qassam rockets, guerrilla operations and suicide attacks - have not helped matters. In fact, they have only provided Israel with more excuses to confiscate land.
     The evacuation of the settlements in the Gaza Strip, it should be said again, was a brilliant move by Israel to speed up the political separation between the West Bank and Gaza; it all the while masqueraded as "the beginning of the pullout".

A letter from a mother in Gaza to a mother in Sderot

Electronic Intifada 3/13/2008
      Dear Rima Haimov
     When I read your words the only thing I can say is that I feel sorry for your son, and that I can understand you as a mother and the traumatic events that your child is experiencing. I cannot deny the fact that life becomes very difficult in such circumstances when you realize that you and your family are in danger at any moment; I fully understand your worries, your feelings and concerns. I am addressing this letter to you with the hope that you will understand my pain too
     Like I feel sorry for your son, I feel sorry for my Palestinian children who are born and will die in Gaza, unable to have the chance of seeing other worlds, and who have to face F-16s, Apache helicopters and the Israeli army’s brutal invasions into Gaza. However, my children are not fortunate enough to have the excellent medical care that your son has. My children do not have the chance to run to a shelter and there is no alarm to tell them that there is a strike coming. My children cannot be guaranteed the love and care that your son found because all of their family might be killed in one strike, they might witness the death of their parents, or any of their dear family members as the Palestinians are targeted everywhere, even in their homes and among their children.