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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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15 March 2008


IAF strike kills three Islamic Jihad militants in northern Gaza
Yuval Azoulay and Avi Issacharoffs and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 3/15/2008
At least three Islamic Jihad militants were killed and six others wounded Saturday evening as the Israel Air Force carried out two consecutive air strikes in the northern Gaza Strip. The first air strike killed three militants who were preparing to fire a Qassam rocket at the western Negev. They were identified as Bassel Shabet, Mohammed Sha’er and Hassan Shakura. According to the Shin Bet security service, the three were involved in Qassam rocket attacks and production. The Shin Bet added that, among other attacks, the three were behind the rocket fire that seriously wounded 8-year-old Osher Twito last month. Twito lost a leg, while his 19-year-old brother was also hurt. A short while later, the IAF carried out a strike against two Palestinian militants who were seen approaching the security fence along northern Gaza.

Israeli Soldiers Shoot Peaceful Protestor in Head at Weekly Bil’in Demonstration
Palestine Monitor 3/14/2008
5 years on from Rachel Corrie’s killing, internationals still targets of Israeli military violence - The shooting of a European activist participating in the weekly non-violent protest in Bil’in village yesterday, just two days before the fifth anniversary of the killing of Rachel Corrie, has once again underlined that international solidarity activists remain the targets of Israeli military violence. A peaceful protestor receiving first aid after he was shot in the head by the Israeli military. The man, a volunteer with the Palestine Monitor, was hit in the head by a rubber-coated bullet after Israeli soldiers began firing directly at demonstrators from positions behind the fence. An Israeli activist was also hit in the leg, and both casualties were taken to hospitals Ramallah and Tel Aviv respectively for treatment. A further four people were injured during the protest. After dispersing the crowd by shooting teargas grenades and rubber-coated. . .

Israel putting spoke in wheels of ’Abbas army’
YNetNews 3/15/2008
Washington Post reports plan to train 1,000 Palestinian security officers in Jordan mired in delays, shortage of resources, different between Americans and Israelis - What is delaying the training of Palestinian police officers in Jordan? A US-funded program to train and equip Palestinian security forces is mired in delays, a shortage of resources, and differences between Israel and the United States over what military capabilities those forces should have once deployed in the territories, The Washington Post reported Saturday. The group of more than 1,000 Palestinian trainees is being trained in a desert camp one hour from Jordan’s capital, Amman. The courses are the first extended training of Palestinian recruits since June, when hundreds of Fatah graduates of a US-backed, 45-day crash course conducted in Egypt were deployed against Hamas fighters in Gaza. -- See also: Palestinian Forces'' Training Marred by Delays, Politics, Washington Post

US: Molotov cocktail thrown into home of Jewish Agency envoy
Yael Branovsky, YNetNews 3/15/2008
Molotov cocktail thrown into Rhode Island apartment of Jewish Agency representative: envoywas not hurt. FBI and local authorities are investigating incident -A Molotov cocktail was thrown Saturday into the home of a Jewish Agency envoy residing in Rhode Island in the north-eastern United States. The envoy, who was home at the time, was immediately evacuated to a nearby hotel following the incident. The incident took place at 2 am (local US time) when a Molotov cocktail was throw through the living room window of the envoy’s apartment. He was in a different room at the time, and was therefore not injured. The Molotov cocktail set a nearby yard on fire, but firefighters dispatched to the scene easily extinguished the flames. The FBI as well as local Rhode Island police personnel are investigating the incident.

Israeli court renews administrative detention of Palestinian mother for 7th time
Palestinian Information Center 3/15/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The PA ministry of prisoners’ affairs in Gaza strongly denounced the Israeli prison courts for renewing the administrative detention of a Palestinian woman called Nora Hashlamoun, 37, from Al-Khalil city, southern West Bank, for the seventh consecutive time. Riyadh Al-Ashqar, the director of the ministry’s information office, stated that prisoner Hashlamoun went on hunger strike last December for 27 consecutive days in order to demand the non-renewal of her administrative detention and her immediate release, where she spent more than two years under administrative detention without any charge being leveled against her.  Ashqar added that the Telmond prison administration transferred her to solitary confinement to dissuade her from continuing in her hunger strike, pointing out that she suffered from a kidney disease as a result of medical negligence practiced by the prison administration against Palestinian prisoners.

Most Palestinians believe Western aid encourages corruption, study shows
Ma’an News Agency 3/15/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Two out of three Palestinians believe that financial assistance from the West fosters corruption and foments the conflict between Fatah and Hamas. This is one of the findings of a new report by Fafo, the Norwegian research institute that hosted secret talks between the PLO and Israel in Olso 1993 that later led to historic peace negotiations and the inception of limited self-rule in Palestine. Fafo’s researchers interviewed 4,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, between 22 February and 4 March, about the political and economic situation in the occupied territories. Most of those surveyed to not believe that aid from the West has improved conditions. According to the study, 63% think the aid encourages corruption and that the aid does little or nothing to fight poverty.

Two more victims of IOA siege
Palestinian Information Center 3/15/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Two Palestinian citizens died on Friday evening in the Gaza Strip after long suffering of chronic diseases and inability to travel abroad for treatment due to the Israeli occupation authority’s siege laid to the Strip. Medical sources said that Ibtisam Abu Mousa, 28, and Ahmed Al-Nouri, 60, died after being denied access to hospitals outside the Strip. The number of Palestinian patients who died in Gaza ever since the IOA siege was tightened thus rose to 112 victims including a number of children. Hundreds others are suffering from diseases with no treatment in the Strip available for them, and with the tight siege they could not travel for treatment abroad. [end]

Foreign envoys to press Israel on peace process
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 3/15/2008
German chancellor, US vice president, Republican presidential candidate, Russia’s foreign minister and Britain’s foreign secretary expected to visit Jerusalem this week. Diplomatic tsunami reflects international community’s concern over escalation in region - A busy and stressful week packed with visits by foreign diplomats awaits Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The different envoys will try and exert pressure on Israel to uphold understandings reached at the Annapolis peace conference and refrain from engaging in an armed conflict in the Gaza Strip. During the week Olmert is scheduled to host German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as eight German ministers, Republican presidential candidate John McCain and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. US Vice President Dick Cheney will land in Israel next Saturday.

Israel planning $400 million wall on Egyptian border
Ma’an News Agency 3/15/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel plans to spend rough 400 million US dollars to construct a new wall on its border with Egypt in hopes to increase its security. The 84 kilometer concrete and barbed wire barrier will be equipped with specials sensors that will detect any contact with the wall and relay the information so command centers, the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported. The planned wall will take two years to complete, and will be immediately handed over to the Israeli military. The wall will only cover two sections of the 236 kilometer border. Israeli security officials believe that natural obstacles will make it difficult for people to cross the border in the remaining places. The Israeli security establishment has been concerned that Palestinian fighters from the Gaza Strip will enter Israel through Egypt.

Wanted Palestinian activist escapes Israeli raid near Jenin
Ma’an News Agency 3/15/2008
Jenin – Ma’an - Israeli occupation forces surrounded a "wanted" man’s house in the West Bank village of Dir Abu Da’if, east ofJenin, and also raided the nearby town of Qabatiya early on Saturday morning. Palestinian security sources reported that Israeli forces besieged the house of Mohie Yaseen, an activist with the armed wing of Fatah, the Al-Aqsa Brigades. Witnesses said that Israeli forces approached the house from several directions, shooting in the air and deploying sonic bombs. The Israeli troops, using a public address system, ordered the residents out of the house. The soldiers then searched the house and withdrew from the area, witnesses added. No arrests were made. Mohie Yaseen was reported to be not at home. In Qabatiya, Israeli forces entered the city from the south, and patrolled the streets, erecting barriers at the main entrances of the town, local residents said.

Israeli forces raid Tulkarem
Ma’an News Agency 3/15/2008
Tulkarim – Ma’an – Occupying Israeli forces raided the city of Tulkarem and neighboring Ein Shams refugee camp on Friday evening. Palestinian security sources said ’’The Israeli forces informed the Palestinian side thatthey would launch a security activity in the area. ’’Several Israeli military vehicles then invaded the city and camp, patrolling the streets. The Israeli soldiers broke into and searched the house of Tulkarem resident Mahmoud Masharka. No arrests were reported. [end]

Al-Quds Brigades claim projectile attack on Sderot
Ma’an News Agency 3/15/2008
Gaza – Maan – The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing ofIslamic jihad said that they launched a homemade projectile at the Israeli border town of Sderot on Friday evening. The Brigades also said that Israeli forces launched a rocket at a group of Palestinians, who "escaped death. " The Al-Quds Brigades added that the attack on Sderot is a "natural response" to "Israel’s crimes," particularly after the killing of four Palestinian leaders in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Israeli special forces gunned down four Palestinians, three of them Islamic Jihad activists, on Wednesday, ending a momentary lull in Israeli-Palestinian violence. [end]

Student strikes in nonviolent protest of killings
Palestine News Network 3/15/2008
Bethlehem / Najib Farrag -- Students in the city of Bethlehem held a massive nonviolent demonstration in the streets before noon on Saturday. The young Palestinians passed by the homes of the four men who were assassinated on Wednesday evening, and through the streets of Beit Jala where Israeli forces have been invading as of late. The student demonstrators hoisted Palestinian flags, photographs of the men killed, and banners condemning the crime of assassination and the practices of Israeli forces. They said that stones would "remain in the hands of the sons of martyrs," and "we cry to the moon for the humiliation you cause us. " As the young protesters chanted for retaliation and shouted to stop "frivolous negotiations," they stopped traffic. All moved together towards the mourning tent in Manger Square.

When grazing your sheep becomes an act of nonviolent resistance
Palestine News Network 3/15/2008
CPT - In At-Tuwani Village, South Hebron Hills, Israeli soldiers and ’border police’ assaulted Palestinian shepherds. While they grazed their sheep and worked in their olive groves in the Khoruba Valley, Israeli police threatened the shepherds with arrest and assaulted them. This was on Palestinian land in the southern West Bank’s Hebron Governorate. A border police officer twisted the wrist of one shepherd and pushed him to the ground. Police grabbed another by his collar and pushed several other Palestinians. The shepherds were engaging in a simple act of life that has become an act of nonviolent resistance -- feeding their sheep and tending their trees on their own lands. The Palestinians were attempting to graze their sheep and repair olives trees damaged by Israeli settlers over the last month.

Popular Committee Against the Siege of Gaza organizes international protests
Ma’an News Agency 3/15/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - Tel Aviv, Nablus and Ramallah will be among the cities to witness protest marches against the nine-month Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip in the coming days. European and African capitals will also hold protests, Palestinian organizers said. PLC member Jamal Al-Khudary, the head of the Popular Committee Against Siege said that these worldwide actions are intended to end the Israeli blockade. "The continuation of the activities is coming as part of the international solidarity day with the Strip until the siege will be broken , the activities are part of the call made by the Committee which was launched on Feb 23rdand isa way to refuse the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip," Al-Khudary said. Al-Khodary confirmed that the Popular Committee is in contact with many European political groups and parties.

Israeli forces threaten to arrest young child
Palestine News Network 3/15/2008
Nablus / PNN- Israeli forces stormed the village of Burka, north of Nablus Friday afternoon and wreaked havoc in the village, causing a state of confusion among the people. Eyewitnesses report that three military vehicles invaded the village after noon prayers, overtaking the streets. Soldiers launched a volley of bullets, gas and concussion grenades at residents. Israeli soldiers broke into the home of Abdul Saif threatening to arrest his less than 10 year old child, Khalil, on the grounds that he threw stones. [end]

Israeli Arab leader: Assassination of Arab figure ’matter of time’
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 3/15/2008
A leading Israeli Arab political figure warned Saturday that it is only a matter of time before an Israeli Arab leader is assassinated. "The political murder of an Arab public figure is a matter of where and when," Amir Mahoul, chairman of a committee for the protection of freedoms, told a conference put together by the organization in Umm al-Fahm. "We are a group that is in real danger, and the state is responsible for this," he said. Mahoul said incitement against the Arab community by Israeli Jewish leaders, especially in the wake of the Mercaz Harav terrorist attack that left eight dead, is not limited to marginal politicians but rather emanates from the political center as well. Several Arab parties that were supposed to participate in the conference boycotted the event, including Hadash.

Astal: Zionists plan to kill Sheikh Salah for exposing plot against Aqsa
Palestinian Information Center 3/15/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Dr. Younis Al-Astal, a member of the Hamas parliamentary bloc, on Saturday charged that the Zionist scheme to assassinate Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement in the 1948 areas, was due to his efforts in exposing the accelerating plans to demolish the Aqsa Mosque through excavations, which have started since 1967. In a statement received by the PIC, Astal said that the disclosure of these malicious intentions followed the Israeli latest excavations which show that the Zionists are in a hurry to destroy the Aqsa Mosque. The lawmaker explained that Sheikh Salah does not fear to expose the Zionist schemes to media outlets and mobilizes the Islamic world against those schemes. Astal opined that if those Zionist fanatics carried out their crime and murdered Sheikh Salah, they would never be able to kill the idea he struggled and lived for.

Arab leaders say state promoting ’political assassination’
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 3/15/2008
Against the backdrop of rising tensions between Jews and Arabs, prominent Israeli-Arab figures warn incitement by Jewish politicians translates into atmosphere that legitimizes killing of their leaders -The political murder of an Arab leader "is only a matter of time," Israeli-Arab leaders warned Saturday during a conference in the town of Umm al-Fahm, against the backdrop of growing tensions between Jews and Arabs in the country in recent months. " The people willing to do this are not in the fringes, they are part of the regime," stated Amir Mahoul, chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Arab Society Liberties. The conference, organized by the Israeli Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, hosted prominent figures in the sector, including MKs, intellectuals and local leaders, who claimed they were united by the realization that they are being persecuted by the Israeli establishment.

Shin Bet: No evidence of far-right plot to avenge J’lem yeshiva massacre
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 3/15/2008
The Shin Bet security service said Saturday evening that it has found no evidence of a far-right plot to avenge last week’s terror attack at a Jerusalem yeshiva that left eight students dead. "After a comprehensive and thorough examination, no evidence was found of preparations by right-wing activists who wish to avenge the murder at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva," the Shin Bet said in a statement. The Shin Bet carried out the examination following a Channel 1 television report Tuesday that three yeshiva alumni met at the school with two rabbis to discuss whether Jewish law would permit a revenge attack. On Wednesday, a group of rightist rabbis called on Jews to avenge their enemies ’measure for measure. ’In notices posted along Jerusalem’s Kiryat Moshe neighborhood, near the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, the rabbis wrote: "Each and every. . .

Shin Bet: Reports of plans to retaliate against Arabs unfounded
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 3/15/2008
Investigation invalidates reports that right-wing activists are conspiring to kill Arabs in order to avenge Mercaz Harav yeshiva terror attack - Reports of plans for a retaliatory attack against Israeli Arabs following the terror attack at Mercaz Harav yeshiva are unfounded, the Shin Bet stated Saturday. The Shin Bet had been investigating reports that such attacks were being planned by right-wing Jews as revenge for the shooting attack at Jerusalem that left eight students dead, but found those reports to be untrue. Security sources said that the probe had been given precedence, in light of the rising tensions among Israel’s Arab public after reports of a possible retribution have been published. However, and despite the absence of concrete intelligence about a retaliatory attack, the threat of an attempted vendetta still stands and security forces continue to regard it as a sensitive issue.

Iris Tuito: Osher is thrilled "terrorists" were ’taken out’
Meital Yasur-Beit Or, YNetNews 3/15/2008
Following IDF strike that killed "terrorists" responsible for Qassam attack injuring her son, IrisTuito states "it’s not enough. They deserve more for what they have done to us’ - Following an IDF strike which killed the members of the "terror" cell responsible for the Qassam rocket attack which led to the amputation of her son’s leg, Iris Tuito stated Saturday "I always wanted the IDF to get revenge on those responsible in Gaza. They did a good job. "  Tuito’s son, eight-year-old Osher, lost his leg following an injury sustained by a rocket attack on his home town of Sdeort. He remains hospitalized at the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer. "This is hardly enough for what they (the terrorists) did to us. They deserve a far harsher blow," said Tuito, also noting that family members told Osher about the IDF strike and that he "he is very glad that the "terrorists" were "taken out" and hopes that their names and memories would be blotted out. "

Islamic Jihad members killed
Al Jazeera 3/15/2008
Three members of the Islamic Jihad group have been killed by an Israel missile attack on the Gaza Strip. An Israeli aircraft dropped its payload on the men as they were preparing to launch homemade rockets across the border on Saturday, Israeli army sources said. An Israeli army spokeswoman said that the Palestinian fighters were killed after they had fired four rockets into Israel, three of which had struck without causing casualties. Earlier, three other members of the armed group had been wounded as they prepared to launch their rockets, medics said. The Israeli army has been carrying out near daily air and ground offensives against Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip saying they are attempting to halt the rocket and mortar attacks.

Israeli military chopper hit by a Palestinian fire over Gaza
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center 3/15/2008
Israeli security sources reported on Friday evening that a military helicopter was hit by Palestinian gunfire when resistance fighters opened fire at it as it flew over Gaza. The sources added that the aircraft managed to fly back to Israel with no casualties. The Al Qassam brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, issued a press release claiming responsibility for the attack and stating that its fighters open fire at the chopper and managed to score direct hits. Abu Obaida, media spokesperson of the Al Qassam brigades, said that the chopper was flying over north Gaza when the fighters opened fire at it. He added that the fighters will continue to target any Israeli war jets that fly over the Gaza Strip "with the continuously improving ammunitions and the more accurate weapons the fighters obtain". Although the Israeli army refused to officially comment on the incident, security. . .

Palestinian fighters hit Israeli helicopter over Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 3/15/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Agencies – Palestinian fighters hit an Israeli military helicopter flying over northern Gaza on Friday evening, Israeli security officials said. The helicopter returned to Israel safely. There were new casualties, Israeli sources said. The Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, claimed responsibility for the attack. Abu Obeida, the Al-Qassam Brigades spokesperson said, "This afternoon our anti-aircraft crew opened fire at an Israeli aircraft over north Gaza, we know that it was hit," said Abu ObeidaAbu Obeida said that Hamas fighters would continue to open fire on Israeli aircraft that fly over the Gaza Strip “with the continuously improving ammunitions and the more accurate weapons the fighters obtain. "

Palestinian teenager wounded in the head during Israeli incursion in Tubas
Ma’an News Agency 3/15/2008
Jenin – Ma’an - A Palestinian teenager was injured in the head a sonic bomb fired by Israeli forces exploded near him during an incursion in the West Bank town of Tubas early on Saturday. Palestinian security sources said that a Israeli military vehicles invaded the town from the east, shooting their weapons. Seventeen-year-old Nashaat Sawaftah was injured and transferred to a nearby medical center for treatment. His wound is said to be slight. [end]

Hamas vows more attacks on Israeli aircraft
Associated Press, YNetNews 3/15/2008
Spokesman for group say militants will continue targeting Israeli planes with heavy machine guns, claims weapons confiscated from Fatah headquarters last year - Hamas said Saturday its fighters will keep targeting Israeli aircraft with heavy machine guns, after hitting an Israeli helicopter over Gaza for the first time. The Israeli military did not comment on Friday’s incident, but security officials said the helicopter was lightly damaged and returned to Israel safely. It was not immediately clear whether Friday’s hit was an isolated incident or a sign of Hamas’ increasing military capabilities. Hamas is believed to have more than a dozen Russian-made KPV-14. 5 machine guns. A Hamas video on YouTube showed a Hamas fighter aiming a machine gun toward the sky as a helicopter flew above.

3 "terrorists" killed in IDF strike in Gaza
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 3/15/2008
Israeli aircraft attacks cell preparing to launch rockets at Israel, killing three Jihad gunmen. IDF: Cell responsible for firing rocket that hit Sderot boy who lost his leg -Three Palestinian "terrorists" were killed Saturday in a joint Shin Bet and IDF airstrike in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian sources identified the men killed as Islamic Jihad operatives. According to the IDF, the cell hit was preparing to fire rockets at Israel. sources added that it was the same cell responsible for launching the rocket that injured eight-year-old Osher Tuito from Sderot, whose leg was amputated following the attack. "We will reach anyone involved in terror," a security official said. "Those who target Israel’s citizens shall never be immune. " In a separate incident, IDF troops opened fire at two gunmen in northern Gaza, and reported hitting them both.

Yeshiva students say they were attacked by Peki’in youths
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 3/15/2008
Students complain they were threatened, harassed by locals during visit to rabbi’s tomb near Druze village -Three yeshiva students who study in New Peki’in filed a complaint with the police Saturday afternoon for being allegedly attacked by six local youths from the Druze village of Peki’in. According to the students, during a visit to a rabbi’s tomb in the area, the local youths approached them and demanded they leave the place, saying Jews "had no business being there. "The youths reportedly threatened the students, cursed them and threw stones at them. One of the students was, according to his own testimony, physically assaulted by the Druze residents before he fled the scene with his two friends. Commander of the Ma’ona police station, Superintendent Victor Buskila told Ynet that the assailants’ identity was not known to the police, but that information. . .

Threats to Israel are threats to us, says Merkel
Reuters, YNetNews 3/15/2008
Merkel expresses solidarity with Israel, states Iran must halt its nuclear program on eve ofthree-day visit to Israel - German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed solidarity with Israel in the face of threats to the Jewish state on Saturday, the eve of a three-day visit to the country, and said Iran must halt its nuclear program. "The threats to which the Israeli state is exposed are also threats to us," Merkel said in her weekly podcast. She said she would underline on the trip that "the Iranian nuclear program cannot continue and Iran must finally play to international rules. " The UN Security Council imposed a third round of sanctions on Iran earlier this month for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, adopting a resolution that Germany co-sponsored, though not itself on the council. Merkel will be the first German chancellor to address Israel’s parliament, more than six decades after the end of World War II.

Islamic summit draft communique accuses Israel of ’war crimes’
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 3/15/2008
The world’s largest Muslim body will accuse Israel of committing war crimes against Palestinian civilians, according to a draft of the final communique of an Islamic summit in Senegal seen by Reuters on Friday. "The conference denounces the current and increasing Israeli military campaign against the Palestinian people and the serious violation of human rights and war crimes including the killing and injuring of Palestinian civilians," the draft said. It called Israel’s "collective punishment of civilians" in Gaza a violation of international human rights law and said "the occupying forces must be held responsible for these war crimes". The communique is due to be approved at the end of a two-day meeting in Dakar, Senegal, of the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the second largest inter-governmental bloc after the United Nations.

Dalima calls on Israel to negotiate with Hamas
Palestinian Information Center 3/15/2008
ROME, (PIC)-- Italian foreign minister Massimo Dalima has called on Israel for the second time in a week to consider opening dialogue with the Hamas Movement if it was really concerned with having peace. The minister was speaking during an interview with an Italian TV network a couple of days ago, and said that Hamas controls a big part of Palestinian lands. He added that if "we want peace we should include those who represent a big portion of the Palestinian people in the negotiations". "Let’s not forget that Hamas won in the elections," Dalima said, adding that negotiations are usually held between "enemies and not friends". For his part, the Israeli ambassador to Italy said that his government was not pondering holding talks with Hamas at present as long as that Movement did not change its position and accept the quartet’s conditions.

US Consulate General hosts a trilateral meeting in Jerusalem
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center 3/15/2008
The Media department at the US Consulate General in Jerusalem issued a press release on Friday stating that a trilateral meeting which brought together American, Israeli and Palestinian representative was held at the Consulate. The Consulate added that during the meeting, the parties discussed which commitments are not being fulfilled and why, in addition to exploring the methods that would accelerate the implementation of these commitments in a more effective way. The Consulate also stated that the discussion was "frank and included exchanging of views thathelped the participants attain a better understanding of some very complex". At the end of its statement, the Consulate reported that the goal is to ensure that both parties fully implement their obligations as stated by the Road Map Plan.

Hamas: Tripartite meeting targets liquidating resistance
Palestinian Information Center 3/15/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement has described the tripartite meeting in occupied Jerusalem on Friday between delegations of the PA leadership, Israel and the USA as a "crime" that targets completing the scheme of liquidating Palestinian resistance. Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, in an exclusive statement to PIC, said that the PA leadership’s participation in the meeting after all the Zionist crimes constitutes a "stab in the back of the martyrs’ blood". The meeting reflects the nature of the PA’s role mainly security coordination with the Israeli occupation authority against the Palestinian people’s interests, he said, and further noted that the meeting pointed to the PA’s lie of suspending talks with the IOA, which indicated that the PA was not concerned with the Palestinian people’s suffering. The absence of Israeli war minister Ehud Barak reveals that the IOA considers the PA representatives. . .

Foreign Press Association in Israel criticizes government sanctions against Al-Jazeera
Ma’an News Agency 3/15/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - The Foreign Press Association in Israel (FPA) has expressed deep concern about a reported Israeli Government boycott against the Qatar-based satellite television channel Al-Jazeera. The FPA Board issued a statement in protest, saying that “This incident could create a dangerous environment for the targeted media outlet, whose members could face physical harm from enraged citizens. ”FPA is worried that the threats of harsher sanctions, including the cancellation of Government Press Cards and visas, published in the Israeli media, may have created "a dangerously hostile atmosphere. " It appears these sanctions are being invoked, the FPA Board said, “simply because the government disagrees with the way the network has chosen to cover Israel and the Palestinian territories. ”

Hamas waiting for Abbas’ response to Rafah border proposal
Ma’an News Agency 3/15/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas is waiting for a response from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas regarding a resolution to the crisis surrounding the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, Hamas leader Ayman Taha said on Saturday. Hamas’ view is that the central dispute is that "some of the parties" want to keep the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access (AMA), while Hamas wants to scrap the treaty. The AMA gives significant power to Israel to open and close the crossing, and positions European observers at the border. Hamas says it has presented its vision to Egyptian officials who are mediating in the dispute over the border. Talks about the Gaza Strip’s borders began after Palestinians breached the border wall into Egypt in January following months of economically suffocating Israeli sanctions. Taha said that Hamas is showing flexibility by accepting the presence. . .

Zahhar: "Free calm" with Israel not acceptable
Palestinian Information Center 3/15/2008
JABALIA, (PIC)-- Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, a prominent Hamas leader, stated on Friday that Hamas rejects granting Israeli occupation free calm, adding that any truce must be reciprocal and comprehensive and include Gaza, the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem. During a festival organized by Hamas in Jabalia, in northern Gaza, in celebration of the victory over the IOF troops in that area, Zahhar underlined that the Rafah border crossing would open soon in accordance with new arrangements different from the previous ones, adding that the Palestinian government would not allow the Europeans to control the crossing and it must stay purely Arab. The Hamas leader affirmed that if the IOF troops decided to carry out another military operation in Gaza, the intensity of resistance, this time, would be fiercer and more ferocious than ever.

Olmert ally denounces outposts
Al Jazeera 3/15/2008
Haim Ramon, the deputy Israeli prime minister, says Israel must dismantle some outposts in the West Bank in order to maintain good ties with Washington. "To my great regret, we have not done what we should have done for a long time concerning the outpost settlements," Ramon said on Saturday. Settlers set up outposts, often small clusters of temporary buildings, without [overt] government approval. Ramon told public radio: "We have to act as soon as possible. We will have to take decisions in one or two weeks. ""These decisions are difficult, but we will have to dismantle these outposts, at least some of them, because it troubles our relations with the United States. "Ramon, a close ally of Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, added that damaged relations between the two countries would impact on Israeli national security.

Mansour: The Palestinians are determined to restore their rights
Palestinian Information Center 3/15/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- MP Mona Mansour, a member of the Hamas change and reform parliamentary bloc, stated that the Palestinian people are determined to extract their rights regardless of sacrifices, holding the world responsible for the consequences of its silence about the genocidal crimes committed against the Palestinian people. Mansour’s statements came during a meeting with Dr. Kenneth Brown, an expert in the Palestinian cause, and the French delegation accompanying him. The lawmaker underlined to the French delegation that the Palestinian cause is passing through a dark tunnel because of the negative global media, which are controlled by Israel and which turned the Palestinian cause from that of "a people whose land and rights were usurped and whose sons were arrested or killed into a brutal people craving for blood and murder".

US Green Party condemns last weeks attacks on Gaza Strip
Palestine News Network 3/15/2008
Washington DC / The Green Party via Mazin Qumsiyeh - Calling the Siege of Gaza an international emergency, the Green Party is urging Congress to reject President Bush’s FY2009 budget request for $2. 55 billion in Foreign Military Financing for Israel, and reiterated the call for a cut-off of all US military aid to Israel. "The Siege of Gaza is an ongoing atrocity, with mounting civilian casualties, especially children, killed and maimed by Israeli Defense Forces," said Holly Hart, secretary of the Green Party of the United States and member of People for Justice in Palestine, responding to the mass killing of Palestinians during the past weekend. "Greens are demanding an end to the siege and to the occupation of Palestinian lands, to Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians, and to targeted assassinations, all of which violate international law. "

Nasrallah, Haniyeh offer support to families of slain Bethlehem fighters
Ma’an News Agency 3/15/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The office of Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary-General of Hizbullah, placed a telephone call on Friday afternoon to the widow of Palestinian fighter Mohammad Shahada, who was assassinated by Israeli forces with three other Palestinians on Wednesday. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, also the de facto Prime Minister of the Gaza Strip, personally called the families of the dead. Shahada’s widow said that Nasrallah’s staff vowed that Hizbullah would ’never give up on Palestine or the martyrs. ’Hizbullah also pledged financial support for the families of those killed by the Israeli occupation. Haniyeh, according to the family of one of the men, said that "the blood of the martyrs will not be spilled without a price. "Haniyeh pledged to rebuild Shahada’s family house, which was destroyed by Israeli bulldozers the week before his assassination.

Khudari addressing Italian rally: Palestinians in need of support
Palestinian Information Center 3/15/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular anti siege committee, has addressed a rally in Italy in support of the Palestinian people via telephone asking for more world support. The MP called for organizing similar rallies and marches around the world to protest the "oppressive Zionist siege of Gaza Strip", and thanked all those who participated in the Italian demonstration. He underlined that the siege affected all health, industrial, agricultural, commercial and other sectors in the Strip. He also mentioned that 112 Gazans died due to inability to travel abroad for treatment of chronic diseases. Khudari asked the Arab, Islamic and freedom loving peoples to continue in their support rallies in a bid to pressure their governments into acting against that siege.

Barghouthi: Barak Provoking Reaction to Justify Violations Perpetrated Under his Orders
Palestinian National Initiative, Palestine Monitor 3/13/2008
Ramallah, 13-03-08: "Ehud Barak’s actions are those of a war criminal, one who should be tried in an international court for crimes against humanity," said PNI Secretary General Dr. Barghouthi today, dismissing a statement by Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak that the killing of four Palestinians by an undercover Israeli death squad in Bethlehem late on Wednesday night, demonstrated Israel’s commitment to "pursue and strike all killers with Jewish blood on their hands. ""Barak is directly responsible for the recent massacre of scores of Palestinian civilians, including 31 children, in the Gaza Strip. Now he is intensifying killings in the West Bank to provoke a reaction from armed Palestinian groups, in order to justify the massive violations of human rights and international law perpetrated against the Palestinian people under his orders. . . "

Mazuz urged to launch probe against Netanyahu
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 3/15/2008
Kadima MK Hasson to ask attorney general to look into Channel 10 report that opposition leader and his wife spent NIS 131,000 during PR trip to London - Knesset Member Yoel Hasson (Kadima) plans to send a letter to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz on Sunday, demanding that he launch an investigation against MK Benjamin Netanyahu following a Channel 10 report that the opposition leader and his wife spent NIS 131,000 (about $38,000) as part of a PR trip to London during the Second Lebanon War. In the letter, Hasson claims that the report "raises heavy suspicions that Netanyahu committed offenses related to at least two trips abroad with his wife, one during his tenure as finance minister and the other as the opposition chairman. " Hasson criticizes Netanyahu, writing that "the Jewish history is well aware of the trips of Benjamin of Tudela, which. . .

Actor quits Natalie Portman film due to rabbis’ objections
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 3/15/2008
NEW YORK - An aspiring actor has quit a movie starring Natalie Portman because it outraged his ultra-Orthodox Jewish religious community, the actor said. "Rabbis didn’t like the idea of a Hasidic guy playing in Hollywood," said Abe Karpen, a Brooklyn cabinet salesman cast as Portman’s husband in the upcoming "New York I Love You. "The project, a collection of 12 short love stories, has been shooting in New York. Karpen, 25, told the Daily News a rabbi raised objections after he filmed a scene with Portman on Wednesday. "This is when I woke up and saw that I made a big mistake," said Karpen, a father of three. "My community, where I live, means everything to me. "Hasidism, a form of mystical ultra-Orthodox Judaism, traces its roots to 18th-century Eastern Europe.

Hardliners take early edge in Iran vote
Associated Press, YNetNews 3/15/2008
Ahmadinejad allies pull ahead in parliamentary elections, according to partial results Saturday, but president’s conservative critics making a strong showing that could unsettle his domination of legislature - Hardliners allied with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pulled ahead in Iran’s parliamentary elections, according to partial results Saturday, but the president’s conservative critics were making a strong showing that could unsettle his domination of the legislature. Reformists, meanwhile, struggled to create an effective minority bloc after large numbers of their candidates - many of which support better relations with the West - were barred from the race. The United States said the results were "cooked" because of the disqualifications. Many reform supporters spent election day Friday deliberating whether to vote and give legitimacy to. . .


Ilan Pappe: I’m not a traitor
Ayelet Negev, YNetNews 3/15/2008
      Controversial historian Ilan Pappe left Israel last year after his endorsement of an academic boycott of Israel exposed him and his family to death threats. Now a professor in England, Pappe maintains that a cultural boycott on his homeland is the only way to end the occupation.
     Last summer, the Pappe family packed its belongings, rented out its spacious house in Israel and moved to Britain. Ever since his support of an academic boycott on Israel’s universities became public, historian Ilan Pappe, 54, has felt like public enemy number one. Pappe says he had received death threats by phone almost on a daily basis.
     Did it not occur to you that calling for an academic boycott on Israel might incite the public against you?
     "I supported the boycott because I believe that without pressure, Israel will not end the occupation. Even before then I reached the conclusion that the peace process enables Israel to stall for time. When in 2003 several international organizations approached me and asked whether I would support the boycott I replied positively.

It’s not oil, it’s water

Kristen Ess, Palestine News Network 3/15/2008
      Kristen Ess -- "Even getting a water or sewage treatment plant in the West Bank takes 10 years for Israeli approval, since the occupation government controls most all aspects of Palestinian life," a woman working in the field told me in Ramallah last month. "And the Israelis drink that same contaminated water, so why would they hold up treatment plants?"
     Every summer Palestinians endure a water crisis. This comes due to the Israeli control of water resources from years on end, not just in the past few years as they strategically placed the West Bank Wall route in order to take water supplies into their boundaries. And this summer is expected to reach the worst water shortage in 10 years.
     Our water bills have already risen and throughout the winter there were several periods when no water was available at all.
     We have been reporting for years that the real "war" in this region of the Middle East has nothing to do with oil: it’s the water. The tables in the Dead Sea are already dangerously low, and when Israeli forces demolished hundreds of homes in southern Rafah in 2002 - 2003, it was intended to build a gully in order to bring water from the Mediterranean into Israeli hands.

US/IRAQ: Rules of Engagement "Thrown Out the Window"

Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service 3/15/2008
      SILVER SPRING, Maryland, Mar 15(IPS) - Garret Reppenhagen received integral training about the Geneva Conventions and the Rules of Engagement during his deployment in Kosovo. But in Iraq, "Much of this was thrown out the window," he says.
     "The men I served with are professionals," Reppenhagen told the audience at a panel of U.S. veterans speaking of their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, "They went to Iraq to defend the U.S. But we found rapidly we were killing Iraqis in horrible ways. But we had to in order to remain safe ourselves. The war is the atrocity."
     The event, which has drawn international media attention, was organised by Iraq Veterans Against the War. It aims to show that their stories of wrongdoing in both countries were not isolated incidents limited to a few "bad apples", as the Pentagon claims, but were everyday occurrences.