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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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29 March 2008


Israeli air strike hits northern Gaza, killing 2
Associated Press, YNetNews 3/29/2008
Air Force fires at group of "terrorists" near Jabalya in response to rocket, mortar attacks - An Israeli air strike killed two Palestinian militants late Saturday in the northern Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials said. Rescue workers reported three explosions near the town of Jabaliya. They said the two dead were militants. Gaza militants often fire rockets and mortars at communities in southern Israel. The army confirmed it struck, saying it targeted a group of militants. It added that two rockets and three mortars were fired toward Israel earlier in the day. A Qassam rocket fired shortly following the attack landed in Palestinian territory. The rocket attacks onIsrael have subsided since operation "Warm Winter", but mortars and Qassams are still fired on an almost daily basis.

Great Lake of Gaza: A New Crisis in the Making
Suzanne Baroud, Middle East Online 3/29/2008
In a place just a few miles from sandy beaches and soaring sky-scrapers, white stone villas and sky-blue swimming pools, it seems the epitome of irony and injustice that over 1. 5 million people would be subjected to drinking sewage-contaminated water. When there is such a fine line bordering wealth and poverty, privilege and need, how unsettling to realize that just a stones throw away, mothers and fathers must nourish their families with poison. As if the occupier could not find one more creative way to torment his victim. The greatest outrage is that such a reality is the decided policy of the Israeli government. It is decried by the most prominent human rights and humanitarian groups throughout the world, and yet it is increasingly enhanced by Israel and shamelessly backed and justified by the US. It is indisputable that the calamity of contaminated water in the Gaza Strip is a resolute policy of the Israeli government.

IOF troops kill Palestinian teenager, block ambulance from collecting his body
Palestinian Information Center 3/29/2008
BEIT HANUN, (PIC)-- IOF soldiers last night killed a Palestinian teenager for coming close to the security fence between northern Gaza Strip and Palestinian lands occupied in 1948. Medical sources said on Saturday that the unidentified Palestinian youth was barely 18 and was hit with IOF bullets near the "border fence" north of Beit Hanun. They told PIC correspondent that IOF informed the Palestinian medical teams that a Palestinian was killed near the fence but would not allow ambulances to collect his body Friday night citing alleged security reasons. IOF sources said that soldiers spotted an "armed" man while approaching the security fence and fired at him. They claimed that the Palestinian tossed a grenade at the soldiers before being killed, and said that no casualties were suffered in lines of the soldiers.

Abbas calls for Arab, international troops to protect Palestinians
AFP, YNetNews 3/29/2008
Israel splitting territories into isolated cantons to prevent creation of independent state, Palestinian president tells Arab leaders in Damascus; ’’think seriously of Arab and international protection for our people,’ he says - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sharply criticized Israel on Saturday, accusing it of wrecking peace negotiations with settlement construction. He also urged Arab leaders to send troops to protect Palestinians. ’Think seriously of Arab and international protection for our people," he told the Arab league summit in Damascus. Abbas has called in the past for international peacekeepers in the Gaza Strip, a proposal that has been widely rejected. His call Saturday at an Arab summit in Damascus was the first time he urged Arab countries specifically to send forces. Abbascharged that Israelwas splitting the. . .

2008 Land Day Events Fall under Shadow of Apartheid and Settlement Expansion
Palestinian National Initiative, Palestine Monitor 3/29/2008
Ramallah, 30-03-06: Palestinians will mark the 32nd anniversary of Land Day this year with a week-long series of peaceful demonstrations throughout the West Bank. Land Day commemorates the killing of 6 Palestinians by Israeli troops in the Galilee on March 30, 1976 during peaceful protests over the confiscation of Palestinian lands to facilitate the "Judaization" of the Galilee, by building more housing for Israeli Jews on Palestinian land, and by squeezing out its Palestinian population. "Past events continue to resonate deeply in today’s context, where Israel has created an Apartheid system through the confiscation of Palestinian land to build illegal settlements and the Apartheid Wall," said Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi MP, a veteran leader of the non-violence movement in Palestine. " This wholly undercuts its insistence that it is a willing partner for peace and makes a mockery of international law," he continued.

Rabbi calls for hanging Arab children from trees
Palestinian Information Center 3/29/2008
Human Rights Violations by BenHeine - NAZARETH, (PIC)-- The chief Rabbi of Safad, Shmuel Eliyahu, urged the Zionist state to exact "a horrible revenge" on Palestinians in retaliation for their attacks to serve as a deterrent. In an article published in the newsletter "Eretz Yisrael Shelanu", which will be distributed to Synagogues this weekend, Eliyahu criticises the leaders of the Zionist state for not taking or allowing revenge against the family Alaa Abu Dheim who carried out the Merkaz Harav attack in Jerusalem. "A state that really respects the lives of its citizens would have hanged the 10 sons of the terrorist on a tree 50 amot [25 meters] tall, so that others would see it and be afraid," wrote Eliahu, according to the Jerusalem Post. Eliahu called on the Zionist state to take "horrible revenge" for the attack at the Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

West Bank faces toxic waste crisis
Mel Frykberg in Ramallah, Al Jazeera 3/21/2008
The West Bank has become a dumping site for hazardous waste - which is making residents sick, say Israeli and Palestinian environmental groups. Several weeks ago, villagers from Jima’in in the Nablus district complained that Israeli trucks were again dumping waste on Palestinian land. Ayman Abu Thaher, the deputy director-general of the Palestinian Authority’s Environmental Awareness Directorate said such dumping has been going on for years. "The Israelis are using the West Bank as a cheap and easy alternative for dumping their waste at the expense of the health of Palestinians," he said. According to Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME),a joint Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian environmental group, improper dumping of contaminants and waste has over time become a threat to the region’s drinking water.

Families work to rebuild homes in Qawawis
Palestine News Network 3/29/2008
Hebron / CPT - Palestinians from the South Hebron Hills gathered in the village of Qawawis to beginr ebuilding homes destroyed by the Israeli military on March 19. This act of nonviolent resistance is one among many taking place through the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Villagers from At-Tuwani, international human rights workers and the families of Qawawis workedthroughout the morningto clear rubble, which blocked the entrance to a cave home in the village. Israeli soldiers initially refused to allow the work to continue but a District Commander arrived later in the morning and confirmed that the family did have the right to remove rubble from the home. Israeli soldiers using a bulldozer destroyed three homes and an animal enclosure in the village on March 19. Since the demolition, the family, which includes a baby and several small children, has been sleeping under a makeshift tarp next to the destroyed home.

IOA blocks visits to female detainee
Palestinian Information Center 3/29/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority has banned lawyer of Nafha legal society from visiting detainee Hanadi Kenaan raising doubts that she was subjected to illegal pressures and blackmailing. IOF troops took away Hanadi, 26, from her parents’ house in downtown Nablus on 27/3/2008. Nafha appealed to human and women rights groups to demand freedom of Hanadi and to pressure the IOA into allowing her lawyer’s visit. The Petah Tikwa interrogation center also prevented lawyer of detainee Yazid Eshtawi from visiting him at the pretext that interrogation with him was not over yet. In another incident Nafha lawyer said that the IOA moved detainee Ayat Al-Qaisi, 17, from Petah Tikwa to Hasharon central prison after ten days of suffering and psychological pressures during which her lawyer was not allowed to meet her for seven days.

Programme: Palestinian Resistance commemorates Land Day
Stop The Wall 3/29/2008
The focus of this year’s Land Day is the ongoing Nakba of the Palestinian people. As we near the 60th anniversary of the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing campaign initiated by the Occupation in 1948 continues. Land confiscations, home demolitions and settlement expansions move forward with alarming regularity. Both the tactics and the aims are the same: securing more territory for the Jewish state while pushing the Palestinian people off their land. Historically, Land Day commemorates the 1976 killing of six Palestinians who were protesting against a massive Occupation land grab inside the 1948 lines. On March 30th of that year, general strikes and mass marches took place in the Triangle, Galilee and Naqab regions. Occupation soldiers and police killed six while wounding and arresting scores more.

Tulkarm Holds First of Many Actions Commemmorating Land Day
International Solidarity Movement 3/28/2008
Reports Tulkarem RegionOn Thursday the city of Tulkarm began the first of its Land Day demonstrations - a national event held on 30th March each year to commemorate the killing of seven Palestinians citizens of Israel by Israeli soldiers in 1976, during protests over land confiscation. The city began by replanting trees along Al Khadouri street - once a tree-lined avenue, now barren because the trees were destroyed by Israeli bombing during the first and second Intifadas. Organized by a collaboration of local and national institutions, such as PARC, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Farmer’s Union, the local municipality and Palestine Technical University, around one hundred conifer trees were prepared to rehabilitate the street. Approximately forty children from local primary schools, internationals, Israelis and local Tulkarm identities such as the mayor, all took part in. . .

Tulkarm Continues Land Day Commemmoration, Israeli Military injures 2
International Solidarity Movement 3/28/2008
Tulkarem Region PhotosToday, Friday, March 28, 2008 two demonstrators were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets (one seriously), as the second of Tulkarm’s Land Day demonstrations took place in the village of Deir al Ghusun, 8km north of the center of Tulkarm. The focus of the demonstration was against the separation wall - which prevents farmers accessing their land, as well as preventing freedom of movement. Approximately 100 people took part in the demonstration, which was organized by the local municipality, in conjunction with the local popular committee and heads of political parties in the area. Protesters carried banners that read: "On Land Day we will continue our struggle against the wall; the occupation; and the siege. " Demonstrators marched to the wall that separates them from their lands and families, chanting and waving flags.

Balata refugee camp committee forces UNRWA shops to close in protest
Ma’an News Agency 3/29/2008
Nablus – Ma’an - The Popular Committee of Balata refugee camp, near the city of Nablus, announced that it is shutting down shops run by UNRWA, the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees, for two hours on Saturday. The shutdown is intended to protest what it views as inadequate aid to needy families in the camp. Refugees in Balata are accusing UNRWA of cutting back vital assistance programs. Balata is the largest refugee camp in the West Bank, with a registered population of more than 21,000. Thousands of families in the camp rely on emergency food aid from UNRWA. [end]

Israel’s Opening of Jerusalem Police HQ Built on Occupied West Bank Land "Flies in the Face of Peace"
Palestinian National Initiative, Palestine Monitor 3/29/2008
Ramallah, 29-03-08: Israel is set to open its Jerusalem police headquarters built on occupied West Bank land on Monday, in a move that PNI Secretary General Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi MP said "flew directly in the face of peace. " The police headquarters lies in the so-called "E-1" area, which aims to create a direct link between Jerusalem and the illegal West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, in contravention of international law under which all of Israel’s 133 settlements and their associated infrastructure are deemed illegal. The E1 area will slice the West Bank in two and will sever East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank, preventing the territorial contiguity of any future Palestinian state, and precluding the designation of East Jerusalem as the capital of such a state. This would spell the end of a viable two-state solution.

US refuses to intervene in Palestinian damages suits
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 3/29/2008
New York District Court suspends ruling ordering Palestinian Authority to pay hundreds of millions of dollars restitution to family of 2002 terror attack victim, pending new trial - WASHINGTON - A legal triumph for the Palestinian Authority: A US federal judge overturned a ruling under which the PA was made to pay $174 million to the family of Aaron Alice, who was killed in a 2002 suicide attack in Hadera. US District Court Judge Victor Marrero ordered a new trial the Alice family case after reviewing documentation questioning the direct involvement of then-PA leader Yasser Arafat in ordering the attack, as well as several others which struck Israel at that time. The ruling came as a great disappointment to dozens of American families who lost loved ones in terror attacks in Israel and are currently enthralled in the various stages of damages suits against the PA.

Rice arrives in Israel, urges improvements in West Bank life
Haaretz Service and Reuters, Ha’aretz 3/30/2008
U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Israel on Saturday for a three-day visit to the Middle East, saying she would focus on ways to improve Palestinians’ quality of life in the West Bank. "The improvement of life on the ground is the piece that I think really has to be pushed forward pretty hard," Rice told reporters en route to Israel. Her first meeting was with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem. Rice said she would look at the issue of removing West Bank checkpoints - something Israel has been reluctant to do, citing security concerns. "Obviously there are security issues but we do have to find ways to improve movement," she said. The secretary of state said her visit is not intended to introduce any new American proposals for the peace talks, saying the negotiations have been "pretty fruitful" thus far and that introducing new ideas would not be "useful.

Barhoum: Rice’s visit "ominous"
Palestinian Information Center 3/29/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Saturday described American secretary of state Condoleezza Rice’s visit to the region as "ominous" and aims at foiling Palestinian national reconciliation. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in a press release that Rice’s visit expected later today was "unwelcome" and bode ill for the Palestinian people. The visit falls in line with the American continued efforts to abort any Palestinian national reconciliation specifically between Hamas and Fatah factions especially after the Arab summit’s preliminary meeting adopted the Sana’a declaration, he elaborated. "We do not expect this visit to bring any good to the Palestinian people or its usurped rights," he underlined. Barhoum said that Rice’s shuttle visits to the region only targets boosting Israel’s security and pressuring the PA leadership and the "illegitimate" government of. . .

Rice gauges Mideast peace talks before Bush visit
Reuters, YNetNews 3/29/2008
Starting a three-day trip to Israel and Jordan, US secretary of state says will hold two trilateral meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to discuss practical ways to improve the lives of Palestinians. ’I am not coming to insert American ideas into this process,’ she adds - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Saturday she would work on ways to ease West Bank travel restrictions but had not come with proposals on how to bridge differences in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Starting a three-day trip to Israel and Jordan, Rice said she would hold two trilateral meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to discuss practical ways to improve the lives of Palestinians as well as the broader US effort to secure the outlines of a peace deal by the end of the year. " I am not coming to insert American ideas into this process," Rice. . .

Abbas Gets Ticket to White House
The Associated Press, MIFTAH 3/29/2008
President Bush has invited Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to the White House in an effort to give a kick to Mideast peace talks, the White House said Thursday. The plan, which envisions talks around the beginning of May, was revealed to reporters on Air Force One by National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe, who was accompanying Bush on a flight to Dayton, Ohio. " Details are still being worked out," said Johndroe, who added that the talks would be part of a continuing effort "to work with the Palestinians and the Israelis as well as other countries in the region in realizing a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel. " Vice President Dick Cheney returned from the region this week. And Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice leaves on Friday for the region, and Bush is ticketed to go to the Mideast in May.

The Folly at Givat Ze’ev
Amnon Rubinstein, MIFTAH 3/29/2008
The admonition delivered to Israel by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice regarding its resumption of the construction of 750 housing units in Givat Ze’ev raises afresh the question of establishing or expanding Jewish settlements in territories generally considered to be Palestinian. These admonitions were accompanied by strongly worded statements made by the secretary-general of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, and by the EU, referring to Israel’s road map undertaking to cease such settlement activities. These statements demonstrate once more the issues at stake. Rice’s soft reprimand describing the Israeli decision as "unhelpful" is especially significant as it was delivered by the friendliest American administration Israel has ever had, and made at a time when Israel is facing grave security dilemmas and crucial decisions. There are two separate questions relating to settlements. The first relates to their legality and rightfulness; the second to their desirability.

Hamdan: Israel impeding Egyptian "calm" efforts
Palestinian Information Center 3/29/2008
BEIRUT, (PIC)-- Osama Hamdan, the Hamas Movement’s representative in Lebanon, has denied that his Movement was impeding Egyptian efforts to reach calm between the Israeli occupation and Palestinian resistance factions. He blamed the Israeli occupation authority for hampering a final agreement on the calm because it did not accept the conditions and wanted a unilateral calm on the part of resistance only. Hamdan, who is also a member in the Movement’s political bureau, said that Hamas was keen on reaching calm but not through surrendering Palestinian rights. "We said it out loud we want calm that is reciprocal, simultaneous and comprehensive, or else it will be meaningless and we will not accept any formula that harms the interests of the Palestinian people," he explained. The Hamas leader denied presence of any direct or indirect channel of contacts between his Movement and Israel over the calm.

Mashaal: Negotiations for Shalit’s release frozen because of Israel
Ynet, YNetNews 3/29/2008
’Israel did not allow for the release of prisoners serving lengthy sentences, and, as of now, negotiations for Shalit’s release are frozen,’ Hamas politburo chief says. Shalit’s father: Hamas to blame - Israel has rebuffed the release of most of the prisoners that Hamas has proposed as part of negotiations for the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Corporal Gilad Shalit, Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal said Saturday in an interview with the Palestinian Maan News Agency. "Israel did not allow for the release of prisoners serving lengthy sentences, and, as of now, negotiations for Shalit’s release are frozen," he said. Gilad Shalit’s father, however, said Hamas was to blame for the stalled negotiations on his son’s release. " The talks on Gilad’s release have been suspecded due to differences of opinion between Hamas’ leadership. . .

Two young men arrested in Birzeit
International Solidarity Movement 3/28/2008
Ramallah Region - On Thursday, March 27, 2008 at around 3:15 am, the Israeli military invaded the Birzeit homes of two young Palestinian men and proceeded to arrest both men. One of the young men, 25 years old and father of a two week old baby girl, had been badly injured by live ammunition about one month ago during clashes, at a protest against the Gaza siege, between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers at Attara checkpoint, just outside Birzeit. The man was hit with a so-called "dumb-dumb" bullet which went into his thigh. He was hospitalized for over a week and is still in very bad condition, neither able to walk nor stand, a fact which did not stop the Israel army from arresting him. The other young man, a 22 year old politically active student at Birzeit University, was also arrested from his home in Birzeit. About 15 soldiers came into his house with intent to arrest him. At the same time, the army also invaded the home of two young American Birzeit University students living in the same building as the arrested Palestinian.

Amnesty Urges Israel to Let Cancer Patient Leave Gaza
The Daily Star, MIFTAH 3/29/2008
The Israeli military should allow cancer patient Karima Abu Dalal to leave the Gaza Strip to obtain desperately needed medical care in Israel, Amnesty International said on Wednesday. "Karima Abu Dalal’s life now hangs in the balance because of the Israeli Army’s failure to allow her a permit to leave Gaza to obtain specialist cancer treatment not available there," the rights group said in a statement. "The Israeli authorities should immediately allow her to access the treatment she needs. " More than 40 people are reported to have died in the Gaza Strip in recent months because they were refused passage out of the area in order to obtain urgent medical treatment not available there. Abu Dalal, 34, suffers from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a form of cancer which can be cured if appropriate treatment is provided in time. Her condition has deteriorated recently and she now has difficulty breathing and walking.

Hamas fighters assault Israeli forces in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 3/29/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The armed wing of Hamas, the Al-Qassam Brigades, claimed responsibility for bombing a group of Israeli special forces in Beit Hanoun, at the northern end of the Gaza Strip, on Satruday. The group said that the attack was a response to what they called the "crimes of the occupation" and the ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Islamic Jihad fighters ’fire projectile’ at Israeli position
Ma’an News Agency 3/29/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility on Saturday morning for launching a homemade projectile at an Israeli military position east of Khan Younis, in the Gaza Strip. The group said the attack was a response to Israel’s ongoing arrests and assassinations of Al-Quds Brigades fighters in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. [end]

Islamic Jihad fighters ’confront’ Israeli forces in Qabatiya
Ma’an News Agency 3/29/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, claimed that their fighters confronted Israeli forces that entered the West Bank town of Qabatiya, near the city of Jenin on Saturday. The group’s spokesperson said that Al-Quds Brigades fighters threw grenades at Israeli forces who invaded the town from several directions. "The occupation forces raided a number of houses and spread through the streets and alleys of the town looking for resistance members, but Al-Quds Brigades fighters [blocked] the operation amid a barrage of gunfire and grenades," he saidThe spokesman said at the conclusion of his speech that the Israeli forces withdrew from the town without arresting any fighters or civilians.

IDF: Islamic Jihad producing Grad-like rockets
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 3/29/2008
New type rockets can reach 12. 5-mile range, carry double amount of explosives compared to Qassams. ’The fact terror groups can manufacture their own long-range rockets is disturbing and worrying,’ army official warns - The Islamic Jihad terror group has recently began manufacturing rockets capable of reaching a 12. 5-mile range, similar to the Grad rockets already in use by terror organizations in Gaza. The new rockets are armed with a much deadlier warhead that carries double the amount of explosives compared to the regular Qassams, the IDF has recently learned. According to army data, the terror groups have made use of the new rocket at least three times since the IDF’s Warm Summer Operation in Gaza concluded. Regular Qassam rockets carry about 11 lbs of explosives and have a 4.

Israeli forces kill Palestinian teenager in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 3/29/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian teenager in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday night. A medical crew succeeded in retrieving the body of the 18-year-old and transferring it to Kamal Udwan Hospital in northern Gaza. Mu’awya Hassanain, the director of ambulance and emergency services in the Palestinian Health Ministry said that the body had been shot dozens of times. Health Ministry officials are still waiting for Palestinians to come forward and identify the victim. Separately, Israeli forces shot a 23-year-old farmer in the town ofKhuza’a, in the southern Gaza Strip, near the Israeli border wall. The victim was a member of the Qudeh family. The Israeli military recently enlarged the "Buffer Zone" inside the Strip along the border with Israel. Palestinian are now forbidden from approaching within 800 meters of the border.

IOF troops kill Qassam fighter, wound two others in Khan Younis
Palestinian Information Center 3/29/2008
KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)-- A Palestinian resistance fighter of the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, called Bilal Al-Astal, 17, was killed and two others were wounded during confrontations on Friday with a special Israeli force that infiltrated into an area east of Al-Karara in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip. In another context, the IOF troops told Palestinian medical parties Friday evening that they shot dead a Palestinian citizen in the north of Gaza near the security fence but Palestinian ambulances could not transport his body that night for security reasons. In retaliation to the Israeli ongoing infiltrations, crimes and siege, the Qassam Brigades announced in a communiqué received by the PIC that its fighters managed at dawn Saturday to detonate two anti-personnel explosive devices at infiltrating Israeli special forces followed by heavy gunfire in two separate areas north of Beit Hanun, northern Gaza.

Israel to open controversial West Bank police HQ
Middle East Online 3/29/2008
JERUSALEM - Israel is set to inaugurate a new police headquarters for the occupied West Bank in an area outside occupied Jerusalem that is at the heart of a bitter land dispute. "The building, which can house hundreds of police, will be inaugurated on Monday," a spokesman for the public security ministry said. The police station is located in the 12-kilometre (7. 5-mile) E1 corridor between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim, the largest illegal Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Continued settlement activity in the territory is seen as one of the major stumbling blocks in slow-moving peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel insists that building the police station is not linked to the settlement issue as it is a security installation. Palestinian officials warn that Israeli construction in E1 would completely block the narrow corridor of land running east of Jerusalem. . .

Rights group: Deaths in IDF Bethlehem raid were apparent executions
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 3/30/2008
The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem has requested a criminal investigation into the deaths of four wanted Palestinian militants in Bethlehem on March 12, saying that the deaths during the Israel Defense Forces raid appeared to have been an execution. In a letter to the attorney general and the IDF Military Advocate General, the group says that its own investigation raised serious suspicions that the wanted men had not been killed during an exchange of fire or while trying to escape, as intimated by the IDF. B’Tselem said that if the men were in fact executed, the IDF is guilty of severely violating a High Court ruling stating that the state is prohibited from intentionally killing Palestinians if less harmful means of maintaining security are available, meaning arrest and due process.

Israeli military attacks weekly Bil’in protest, 17 injured including 7 journalists
Video, International Solidarity Movement 3/28/2008
Ramallah Region Rachel CorrieOriginal article found on IMEMC. For original article click hereOn Friday March 28, 2008 scores of residents of Bil’in, a village near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, along with their international and Israeli supporters, took to the streets to conduct their weekly nonviolent protest against the Israeli wall and illegal confiscation of the village’s land. Israeli troops manning the wall and its gate that cuts off the villagers from their land showered the protesters with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets immediately after the protesters reached the gate. 17 people were injured including seven journalists. Medical sources identified some of the injured journalists as Fadi Al Arouri, a photojournalist, Najud al Qassem, a cameraman, Moheb Al Bargouthi, a reporter, and George Haltah, a cameraman.

Humanitarian Situation Update for the oPt 20 Mar 2008
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ReliefWeb 3/20/2008
Overall:There has not been a significant improvement on the ground in the humanitarian situation since the reinvigoration of the political process following the Annapolis summit. A key reason is the increasing movement restrictions imposed by the IDF both within the West Bank and on the Gaza crossings. The high number of casualties during the IDF operation into Gaza in late February, and the increasing military activities in the West Bank, have further exacerbated an already difficult humanitarian situation. Since Annapolis, there was also a significant increase in the number of rockets and mortars fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel. A. In the West Bank, a comparison of the 13 weeks before and after Annapolis1, demonstrates: - Increased obstacles restricting freedom of movement - 580 as of Feb. 2008.

Top official: PM has communicated with Assad to test his desire for peace
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 3/30/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has dispatched some 20 messages to Syrian President Bashar Assad during the past year to better assess Syria’s intentions before the possible resumption of talks between the two countries, according to a senior minister also in the security-political cabinet. But the same source said Assad’s responses did not meet Israeli expectations and Olmert believes that at this time it is not possible to initiate negotiations with Syria. For his part, the Syrian president blamed Israel on Saturday for the lack of progress. "Israel has rejected all peace initiatives that have been brought before it during the past three years and has responded with massacres and construction of settlements," he told theArab League summit which began in Damascus on Saturday.

Assad: Israel rejecting peace
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 3/29/2008
Arab Summit in Syria off to medial start as only 11 Arab League leaders accept Syrian President Bashar Assad’s invitation to attend Damascus gathering. ’Syria believes in peace, Israel not interested’ he says - Syria believes in a comprehensive, just peace, Syrian President Bashar Assadsaid Saturday, in a speech opening the Arab Summit in Damascus. Syriaplayed host to the summit, entertaining the leaders of Algeria, the Comoros, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Sudan, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates in Damascus. " We accepted the Arab peace initiative in 2002, but Israelresponded by invading the West Bank and killing women and children"¦ (Israel) has built more and more settlements as well as the racist separation fence, pushing the region to extremes.

Barak: Negotiations with Syria central Israeli policy goal
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 3/29/2008
’Israel is the most powerful country in the region, and this is what will ultimately allow it to strive to attain peace agreements,’ defense minister tells foreign ambassadors. ’We hope Syria will abandon cycle of extremism,’ he adds - "One of Israel’scentral policy goals is to launch peace negotiations with Syria and to see Damascus abandon the cycle of extremism," Defense Minster Ehud Baraktold 50 foreign ambassadors at the Labor Party’s headquarters in Tel Aviv on Friday. "We are following the developments in the North, including the strengthening of Hizbullah with Syria’s backing and the goings on beyond the Syrian border," he told the envoys, "Israel is the most powerful country in the region, and this is what will ultimately allow it to strive to attain (peace) agreements.

Arab league secretary, at Damascus summit: peace with Israel ’still possible’
Ma’an News Agency 3/29/2008
Damascus – Ma’an - Agencies – Eleven heads of state and officials from eight other nations are gathered in Damascus for the Arab League’s 20th annual summit on Saturday. In his opening remarks, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said he hoped the Summit would help ’heal the Arab nation’s wounds. ’ He also called for Arab foreign ministers to meet in mid-2008 to discuss the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad said that Arab leaders should consider withdrawing the Arab Initiative for peace with Israel, which calls for an end to the occupation of the lands occupied in 1967, due to Israel’s refusal to respond to the proposal. Moussa suggested that peace is still possible. "Does that mean that the peace option is no more feasible? This is a possible option," Moussa said.

Haneyya calls on Arab summit to form committee for Palestinian reconciliation
Palestinian Information Center 3/29/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ismail Haneyya, the premier of the PA caretaker government, called on the Arab leaders attending the summit in Damascus to make efforts to end the inter-Palestinian division, to form a committee for Palestinian reconciliation and to reject to deal with any projects aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause. In a televised address on Friday night, Haneyya also called on Arabs to refuse any calls for resettling Palestinians in their countries, stressing the need for finding a just and swift solution to the issue of Palestinian refugees in Iraq through receiving them in Arab countries until they can return to Palestine. The premier underlined that the Palestinian people would never renounce their rights to liberty, return to their homeland and independence, adding that Palestinian people along with Arab and Islamic nations are destined for a triumph over Israel.

Islamic Jihad leader: Arab Summit must take decisive action to aid Palestinians
Ma’an News Agency 3/29/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Islamic Jihad leader Nafeth Azzam called for the Arab summit to take decisive action to ease the suffering of the Palestinian people on Saturday. Speaking to a mass midday demonstration of Islamic Jihad supporters in Gaza City, Azzam said that Israel’s attacks on Palestinians have made life in Palestine "like living under a volcano. " Azzam said that the current crisis facing the Arab states are a result of American policy and Israeli aggression. He called for the Arab League to provide "all forms of support" to the "resistance" to Israel, including the armed groups that oppose the Israeli occupation. The Islamic Jihad leader also called for the conference to scrap the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which offers Israel normalized diplomatic relations in exchange for a withdrawal from Palestinian land and the return of Palestinian refugees displaced in 1948.

Open letter to Arab Summit in Syria: sever all ties with Israel
Palestine News Network 3/29/2008
The One Democratic State Group calls on all Arab leaders meeting in Damascus to:1- Withdraw the Arab peace initiative since Israel has not been willing to reciprocate by creating new facts on the ground and by adopting colonial policies that have destroyed all possibilities of peace with justice. 2- Adopt the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign a la apartheid South Africa. 3- Sever all diplomatic, and non-diplomatic, ties with Apartheid Israel. It is unnatural to have natural ties with a country that practices policies of genocide and ethnic cleansing on daily basis in Palestine and Lebanon. 4- Put an end to the fiction of the two-state solution after apartheid Israel has practically made it impossible by expropriating more land for colonies, expanding existing settlements, Judaizing Eastern Jerusalem and constructing the monstrous apartheid wall.

Arab Summit: a bust before it began
Palestine News Network 3/29/2008
Fadi Yacoub -- The Arab Summit failed before it began in Damascus, according to several polls. Analysts and politicians have pointed out that there are intense differences among the political leaders of the Middle East, the kings and the presidents. The main sticking points are Lebanon, and of course, Palestine. A Hamas party leader Dr. Ghazi Hamad, predicted the failure of the Summit in Syria two days before it began. He pointed out the Fateh -- Hamas strife and the situation of the Israeli occupation and its ongoing aggressions. Several Arab leaders opted out of the Summit altogether, with only 11 in attendence. Hamad told PNN that the Arab Summit should put pressure on decision makers in the world who are in the position to compel Israel to lift the siege from the Palestinians "and end the Israeli aggression against our people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Hamas: Abbas’s statements do not represent the Palestinian people’s positions
Palestinian Information Center 3/29/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement strongly denounced the statements of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas during the Arab summit in Damascus on Saturday, saying such statements do not represent the Palestinian people’s position which rejects the continuance in the settlement project with Israel. In a press statement received by the PIC, Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, A Hamas spokesman in Gaza, also stated that Abbas’s statements on the Sana’a declaration was a formal denial of the Yemeni initiative. Dr. Abu Zuhri underlined that Abbas’s position towards the Yemeni initiative represents a return to the language of preconditions and an attempt to ignore the initiative’s requirements which bind him to sit at the table of dialog, considering this denial a response to the external dictates and the Israeli threats. He refuted the allegations made by the PA chief during his speech that he provides salaries. . .

Hamas praises Damascus Arab summit
Ma’an News Agency 3/29/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas praised the conference 20th annual Arab League summit on Saturday, calling it a needed effort to unify Arabs in the face of mounting conflict. Hamas’ spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum applauded the conference, which he said faced an American attempt to abort it completely. He praised what he saw as Arabs’ resolute stance in the face of a "dangerous American-Israeli plan. " Barhoum stressed the importance of the Syrian role in the region, and the need for Arab states to show solidarity with the Palestinian cause. He said the conference would bring new "strategic depth" to the Palestinian issue. "The Palestinian people is looking forward to the process of making decisions and [in] parallel with the Palestinian situation and their suffering under fire and the injustice and the Israeli occupation’s crimes so as to ensure a permanent end to the suffering of the. . .

Abbas and his aides reject any Arab tendency to withdraw Arab initiative
Palestinian Information Center 3/29/2008
AMMAN, (PIC)-- PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and his senior aides rejected any tendency to withdraw the Arab peace initiative in the Arab summit in Damascus after some Arab officials called for pulling out the initiative in response to the Israeli intransigence. In the conclusion of his talks with Jordanian King Abdullah on Thursday, Abbas said that there is no way to change or modify the Arab initiative, calling on Arabs to fight for it after describing the initiative as "precious". Syrian officials had talked earlier about a tendency to urge the Arab countries during the summit to withdraw the initiative in retaliation to the Israeli schemes and crimes in the Palestinian landsIn the context of the PA and Fatah fears that the Arab summit could encourage and call for national dialog, Nimer Hammad, an advisor to the PA chief, criticized in a press release in Damascus the Arab excessive. . .

PA ministry urges world community to check IOA crimes against Palestinians
Palestinian Information Center 3/29/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The ministry of prisoners in the PA caretaker government has urged the international community to end its silence regarding Israeli occupation authority’s crimes against the Palestinian people and to adopt a daring stand to check those crimes. Dr. Atef Odwan, the minister of prisoners and ex-prisoners affairs, described as "unjustified" the world’s "silence", and charged that it encouraged the IOA to exercise more pressures and repression against the Palestinian people. He said in a press statement that the IOA decision to cancel residence permits of the Jerusalem MPs of the change and reform bloc and the minister of Jerusalem affairs in the tenth PA government while in jail constituted a fresh evidence of the IOA cruel practices against the detained lawmakers. The minister described the decision as "racist", and fell in line with the IOA "rabid" campaign against Jerusalem and its Islamic landmarks.

Hamas: We hope the Arab summit could take practical and effective decisions
Palestinian Information Center 3/29/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement expressed hope that the Arab summit that kicked off Saturday in Damascus could take practical and effective decisions conforming to the size of the Palestinian people’s suffering in order to ensure a permanent end of their misery and also the restoration of their unity, rights and constants. In a statement received by the PIC, Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, underlined that the American administration is utilizing all kinds of pressures to abort the Arab summit and prevent it from taking strong and resolute decisions protecting the region from American schemes. In the same context, hundreds of Palestinian children carrying flags of Arab countries participated Saturday in a march organized by the popular committee against the siege headed by MP Jamal Al-Khudari in order to send a message from the besieged Gaza to the Arab summit calling for breaking the siege as soon as possible.

Barak Promises Israeli Gestures to Fayyad
Roni Sofer, MIFTAH 3/29/2008
Barak promises Israeli gestures to Fayyad Defense minister meets with Palestinian prime minister in Tel Aviv ahead of US secretary of state’s visit later in week, announces easing of restrictions in West Bank Roni SoferDefense Minister Ehud Barak met Wednesday night with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and announced Israel would ease restrictions for Palestinians living in the West Bank. This ahead of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s visit to the region this coming Friday. " The list of steps we intend to take to make life easier for the Palestinians, without relinquishing our overriding security responsibility, is important in moving the negotiations forward and maintaining a positive atmosphere," Barak told reporters before the meeting. Barak issued a statement detailing the expected Israeli overtures, which include the removal of dirt roadblocks, boosting the number

Mossad accused of helping Mugabe steal votes
Middle East Online 3/29/2008
HARARE - Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has enlisted the services of Israeli computer experts with links to Israel’s Mossad spy agency to help steal a weekend vote, the opposition said Thursday. Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) secretary general Tendai Biti said that Mugabe has hired an Israeli company manned by IT experts who are linked to Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, to doctor the voters’ roll to help him win the tightly-contested vote with around a 60 percent majority. "We are getting, by the second, evidence of the manner in which Mugabe and his cronies are assaulting this election," said Biti. "Mugabe intends to steal this election. . . through the technical assault. They are thoroughly organised, thoroughly computerised. The voters’ roll and technology is the key vehicle of fraud which they intend to use.

Statement on Re-Launching the Ministry of Finance’s Website
Salam Fayyad, MIFTAH 3/29/2008
It is my honor today to announce the re-launching of the Ministry of Finance website. I would also like to announce our commitment to post on this site monthly reports on our financial operations on the 15th of each month. This event is important first because it represents a fundamental step towards instituting transparency in the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and establishing the foundations of good governance. Every citizen and each observer will be able to examine all of the PNA’s financial transactions in a manner that eliminates any doubts about lingering corruption and financial mismanagement. What distinguishes this event from many before it, though, is the level of capacity and professionalism that had to be attained in order to realize this achievement. Reform is not just a slogan, nor is political will – important as it is –enough to turn it into a reality.

Study: Left-wing governments better for settlers
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 3/29/2008
Common perceptions that settlers "˜run’ the country, Leftists "˜sell out’ Israeli territories may be mistaken. New study finds right-wing governments ceded more land; rightists have far less political clout than commonly assumed - It is now official and scientifically sanctioned: A new study has found that left-wing governments are far better for settlers than those led by the right-wing peers. Furthermore, the study also uncovered that left-wing governments are incapable of ceding Israeli lands, and that rightist have far less political clout than commonly assumed. The study, conducted by Professor Gideon Doron of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Political Science and Professor Maoz Rosenthal, of the Open University’s faculty of Political Science and International Relations, will be presented at an upcoming conference at Tel Aviv University entitled "40. . .

Al Nakba memorial preparations under way: dance in London
Palestine News Network 3/29/2008
London / PSC - Ila Haifa is being performed in a special gathering of Palestinian art and culture in London. Al Zaytouna, Britain’s leading dabke dance troupe, will be performing the first adaptation of Ghassan Kanafani’s "Ila Haifa" (Returning to Haifa) fusing music, theatre, contemporary and traditional Palestinian dance. The thirty members of Al Zaytouna come from Palestine, the Arab world, and the UK, and are based in London and Nottingham. The dancers are all volunteers, who came together with the desire to promote Palestinian culture. The Director, Ahmed Masoud, explained, "This is an undiscovered form of art, not yet introduced properly to the West. It is found across the Arab world; in Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. The Middle East is most commonly associated with belly dancing, and we want to show that this is not the only dance form we have to offer.

Gaza’s sewage system in crisis
Middle East Online 3/29/2008
JERUSALEM/GAZA - Design errors, a fast growing population, the halting in recent years of development projects, and restrictions on imports have rendered the Gaza Strip’s sewage system incapable of handling the enclave’s waste, experts said. The result is the pumping of partially treated or untreated sewage directly into the sea, and the seepage of dirty water into the ground and groundwater. "The environmental situation in Gaza is bad and getting worse," an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) expert on water and sanitation said in an interview with IRIN. While exact statistics are unavailable, 30,000-50,000 cubic metres of partially treated waste water and 20,000 cubic metres of raw sewage end up in rivers and the Mediterranean Sea. Some 10,000-30,000 cubic metres of partially treated sewage end up in the ground, in some cases reaching the aquifer, polluting Gaza’s already poor drinking water supply.

UN officials: Syria still suspected in Lebanese PM murder case
Shlomo Shamir, Ha’aretz 3/30/2008
Syria is still under suspicion in the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, senior United Nations officials said this weekend. This is at odds with the report issued on Fridayby a UN team investigating the assassination which blamed a "criminal network" for the killing. The report is the 10th one released by the UN commission since it began its investigation in June 2005, but the first issued to the Security Council by the new chief investigator, Daniel Bellemare. Bellemare said in his report that evidence indicates that the so-called "Hariri Network" existed before the assassination on Feb. 14, 2005. Syrian intelligence was often accused of being behind the murder, and while Damascus denied the charges, the attack nonetheless prompted Syria to end its longtime military presence in the country.

Gaddafi condemns Arab leaders
Al Jazeera 3/29/2008
Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan president, poured contempt on fellow Arab leaders at a summit that was overshadowed by the absence of several key figures. At the annual Arab summit, which opened on Saturday, he criticised Arab countries for doing nothing while the United States invaded Iraq in 2003 and overthrew Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi president. Gaddafi also repeated his frequently made proposal that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be settled by creating one democratic state where the two peoples live together, to be called Isratine. The Libyan leader’s undiplomatic railing at the disarray of Arab nations has become almost a tradition at the annual gathering. Al Jazeera’s Middle Eastanalyst, Lamis Andoni said: "Gaddafi says what many think, but do not say. His words reflect a prevailing sentiment in the Arab streets that is fed up with the failure of Arab leaders to rise up to challenges. "

Arab summit boycott of Syria threatens regional conflict
Report, Electronic Lebanon, Electronic Intifada 3/29/2008
BEIRUT, 28 March 2008 (IRIN) - A boycott by Lebanon and major Arab powers of the Arab summit in Damascus (29-30 March) has dashed hopes for a last-ditch settlement of the Lebanese presidential crisis, raising fears of a descent into violence after it passes. Political turmoil in Lebanon has often been the precursor to regional conflict and serious humanitarian problems in the past. Beirut’s four-month-old presidential vacuum shifted to centre stage in recent weeks as the Lebanese government and its Saudi Arabian backers accused Syria of blocking the vote, and announced a boycott of the Damascus summit in response. Egypt has followed suit and, like Riyadh, is sending a junior official to the meeting that is supposed to gather together the heads-of-state of the 22 Arab League nations. King Abdullah of Jordan has yet to announce his attendance.

Iranian press among hundreds of journalists at Arab Summit
Ma’an News Agency 3/29/2008
Damascus – Nasser Laham – Among the hundreds of media professionals who flocked to Damascus for the Arab Summit are dozens of Iranian journalists. Speaking Farsi and Arabic, these reporters are determined, like the Arab media, to provide full coverage of the annual meeting. Iranian broadcast vehicles are parked outside the meeting, beaming live images of the proceedings to viewers in Iran. Al-Manar, the satellite channel of the Lebanese movement Hizbullah is also providing complete coverage of the meeting. 20 Palestinian journalists are covering the summit, including five reporters from the Gaza Strip who managed to reach Syria despite Israel’s near total lockdown on the Strip. The Syrian government worked intensively to ease the Palestinian delegation’s numerous obstacles. An estimated 900 to 1000 journalists are in Damascus for the meeting.

Arab, Muslim leaders denounce anti-Islam film by Dutch filmmaker
Associated Press, YNetNews 3/29/2008
’Offenses against our Arab and Islamic nations under the banner of freedom of expression are derogatory and defamatory and go against all human values,’ Sudanese president tells Damascus summit. Egyptian FM: Film humiliates Islam - DAMASCUS, Syria -Arab and Islamic leaders on Saturday denounced a Dutch film that portrays Islam as a ticking time bomb aimed at the West, demanding international laws to prevent insults to religions. The 15-minute film entitled "Fitna," or "ordeal" in Arabic, by Dutch anti-immigrant politician Geert Wilders has brought condemnations from Muslim capitals and street protests in Pakistan after it was posted on a Web site late Thursday. The film came on the heels of the republishing in Danish papers of a cartoon of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad that Muslims view as insulting, depicting him as violent.


Food prices double in besieged Gaza
Report, PCHR, Electronic Intifada 3/27/2008
      "There have been rapid price increases over the last few months because of the closure. Three months ago, for instance, a liter of corn oil cost 19 shekels [the equivalent of $4.50]. Now it costs 29 shekels [$7]. The price of flour has also doubled; three months ago a kilo of flour was two shekels. Now our customers have to pay four shekels."
     The Abu al-Kass mini-market has been a popular feature of central Gaza City for more than 30 years. Anwar Abu al-Kass has worked here since he was a teenager, and now manages the mini-market with his brother. "We used to have a lot of fresh goods on sale, but now the majority of our goods are dry products," he explains. "Every business has been affected by the closure -- we used to sell lots of fresh milk and different kinds of cheese -- but now we are forced to depend on two Israeli companies for our dairy imports. Their products are expensive for us, but we have no choice."
     After declaring the Gaza Strip a "hostile entity" on 19 September last year, Israel tightened its siege and closure of Gaza, adding additional restrictions on the movements of all civilians and goods, and limiting food imports to seven basic categories: flour, sugar, dairy products, rice, salt, oil and frozen foods, including frozen meat. Many foods and drinks are now only sporadically available, whilst others, such as Coca Cola and fresh fruit juice, completely disappeared off the shelves several months ago. Fresh meat is increasingly scarce in Gaza, as is imported chocolate and cheese. Alongside every other store, restaurant and food retailer in the Gaza Strip, Anwar Abu al-Kass has had to adapt to these restrictions whilst also trying to keep his business going.

Normality in the West Bank

Maria Urkedal York writing from Nablus, occupied West Bank, Electronic Intifada 3/27/2008
      You need to upgrade your Flash Player You have reached an Electronic Intifada slide show. The Electronic Intifada (EI), found at, publishes news, commentary, analysis, and reference materials about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict from a Palestinian perspective.
     A familiar scenario takes place in front of me. A little boy, no more than four years old, is laughing as he runs back and forth between the line of adults’ feet, feet twice the size of his. Typically, with a combination of innocence and courage only found in children’s eyes, he is testing how far he can go before his mother will call him back. The reason why this ordinary scene remains in my consciousness is that it is took place at Huwwara military checkpoint, one of the manned posts restricting the movement of people and goods in and out of the West Bank town of Nablus. Although the boy is laughing, making some of us waiting in the line smile, he is also about to be checked by young armed soldiers before he is let out on the other side where dozens of yellow taxis are waiting to take people traveling from Nablus to Huwwara, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Qalandia, and the elsewhere in the West Bank.

Nazareth, the neglected city of Jesus

Christine Bro, Electronic Intifada 3/27/2008
      Last weekend, Catholics in Nazareth and around the world celebrated the most holy and significant events to Christianity, Good Friday and Easter Sunday, marking the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, a man in Biblical times known simply as "Jesus of Nazareth." However, today Nazareth faces a slow and painful death in the face of land theft and colonization.
     In 1948, during what Palestinians call the Nakba, over 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes and country through direct physical expulsion, ethnic cleansing or psychological warfare, leaving only one third of the original inhabitants in historic Palestine. Even the indigenous Palestinians who remained during the period of 1947-49 became internally displaced refugees in the newly created state of Israel, due to laws passed by the Israeli government that transferred land to the state by declaring it a military zone and did not allow for Palestinians to return to their original homes. Until today, these internally displaced refugees have no right to return to their original land, towns or villages and presently account for more than 355,000 refugees inside Israel.

Who’s winning in Iraq?

Mustafa El-Labbad, Al-Ahram Weekly 3/27/2008
      Having handed Iraq to Iran, the US faces a strategic dilemma of enormous proportions.
     Up to 1.2 million Iraqis may have been killed since the invasion of Iraq five years ago and many more have been displaced or have left the country. The US invaded Iraq to seize its oil, and what it did altered the balance of power in the region for years to come. Iraq, being a neighbour to six countries all with considerable weight in the region, is a major geopolitical asset.
     Since the Bush administration declared itself victorious in Iraq in summer 2003, resistance operations have not abated. Many inside and outside the region may agree today that the war was a big mistake and that the political process that followed was disastrous. But no one wants to see the Americans out yet -- no one, that is, except Iran.

Grave suspicion of extra-judicial execution in Bethlehem killings

B’Tselem - The Israeli information center for Human Rights, Palestine Monitor 3/27/2008
      B’Tselem wrote to Israel’s Attorney General and the military’s Judge Advocate General demanding that they order criminal investigations into the killing of four Palestinians, Muhammad Shehadeh, Ahmad Bilbul, "˜Imad a-Kamal, and Issa Marzuq Zawahreh in Bethlehem on March 12, 2008. The four were defined "wanted persons" by Israel’s security forces. The media reported that the senior command echelon took part in planning the action and authorizing it. Accordingly, B’Tselem’s demand includes an investigation into the personal command responsibility of the Judea and Samaria Division commander, the OC Central Command and the chief of staff.
     Israel’s High Court of Justice has ruled that the state is prohibited to intentionally kill Palestinians taking part in hostilities if less harmful means can be employed, such as arresting and trying them. B’Tselem’s investigation of the incident raises the suspicion that in violation of the High Court’s ruling, no attempt was made to arrest the suspects, and that the security forces operated as though on an assassination mission, shooting the suspects from behind with massive automatic gunfire although the latter did not try to escape or use their weapons.

The Strange Case of Robert Malley

Gershom Gorenberg, MIFTAH 3/29/2008
      Of all the recent efforts to smear Barack Obama, none strikes me as stranger than the claims that one of his informal advisers on foreign affairs, Robert Malley, is anti-Israel. This, in turn, is supposed to prove that as president, Obama is liable to institute dangerous changes in U.S. policy toward Israel.
     As a campaign trope, the calumny may have begun with Ed Lasky, news editor of the right-wing Web site The American Thinker, who posted a fervid attack on Malley in January. The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America has taken time off from its hawkish media-bashing to post a blast at Malley on its Web site. Journalists regularly speculate on whether the Malley connection will hurt Obama among Jewish voters, though there’s no evidence of that. Meanwhile, Malley’s diplomatic colleagues -- including Sandy Berger, Dennis Ross, and Martin Indyk -- have issued an open letter defending him.
     There’s more at work here than the usual, nearly boring, attempts to slime a liberal candidate as anti-Israel for the "sin" of supporting what Israel needs most -- determined diplomatic efforts to achieve peace. Lurking in the background is another of the battles over how Israel-Palestinian history is told. In that fight, the original furious critic of Barack Obama’s adviser is former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak. There’s also a lesson about Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy: Besides settling the practical questions, it requires resolving the conflicting narratives about the past. To approach this task, the next president will need not just hard work but a gift with rhetoric, with words.