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

VTJP Archives | Newslinks Archives  
3 April 2008

News

Meshaal signals readiness to accept 1967 borders
Daily Star 4/4/2008
BEIRUT: Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has signaled his group’s willingness to accept a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the 1967 borders. During an interview with the Palestinian daily Al-Ayam published on Wednesday, Meshaal offered what could be considered Hamas’ clearest signal yet that his group is willing to accept two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But unlike previous "trial balloons" put out by the group, this one seems not to have generated much coverage in the West. Meshaal referred to the 2006 Palestinian Prisoners’ Document, also known as the National Reconciliation Document, as proof that most major Palestinian factions had reached a consensus on accepting a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. The document, which was drafted by five Palestinian prisoners who were being held in Israeli jails, calls for the creation. . .

Investigation by Palestinian Parliament blames security forces for Hamas cleric’s death in custody
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 4/4/2008
RAMALLAH, Occupied West Bank: A parliamentary investigation on Thursday blamed the Palestinian intelligence service for the death of a Hamas cleric in a prison last month, and claimed he was tortured. Imam Majd al-Barghuti, 42, from Kobar village in the north of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, died in a Ramallah prison on February 22, eight days after his arrest. Security officials have said Barghuti died of heart failure, but the independent deputies who conducted the inquiry said tests taken two days before his death did not indicate any cardiovascular problems. A member of the commission of inquiry, Hassan Khreisheh, told journalists there were "signs of torture" on Barghuti’s "wrists, thighs, knees and back" and that the prisoner had complained of a stomach ache but "did not receive the necessary care up to his death.

IDF kills three Islamic Jihad militants in central Gaza
Yuval Azoulay and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 4/4/2008
Israel Defense Forces troops killed three Palestinians Thursday morning during a military operation near the central Gaza town of Khan Yunis. According to the IDF, Givati Brigade infantry troops came across local militants and opened fire. Palestinian sources reported that three of the gunmen were killed in the exchange, and that the dead had belonged to the militant group Islamic Jihad. Army Radio reported that the Givati force was conducting an overnight search for weapons and munitions in the area. On Tuesday, two Hamas militants were killed in a predawn IDF raid near the Kissufim border crossing in central Gaza. The two were named as Abdullah a-Luh and Yehieh al-Burak. Hamas said the two militants were the first from the Islamist group to be killed by Israel in nearly a month.

IDF hits 6 Palestinians in central Gaza
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 4/3/2008
Gunmen hit by army fire during operation near Khan Younis. Soldiers searching for weapons, munitions in area - Givati Brigade soldiers opened fire on at least six armed Palestinians during an operation near the town of Khan Younis in central Gaza, Thursday. Three of the gunmen are believed to have been killed. No casualties were reported among the IDF soldiers involved in the raid. The forces have been operating in the area since Wednesday night along with Armored Corps forces, conducting searches for weapons and munitions. The clash occurred after local gunmen opened fire on the troops and launched mortar shells in their direction. According to an IDF spokesman, the soldiers opened fire on the gunmen after encountering them in the course of the operation. It is still unclear whether any gunmen were killed.

IDF completes removal of 50 roadblocks across the W. Bank
Barak Ravid , Haaretz Service and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 4/4/2008
With the removal of some ten "dirt mound" roadblocks across the West bank on Thursday, the Israel Defense Forces completed its lifting of 50 of the barriers this week, a measure Defense Minister Ehud Barak last week undertook to implement at a meeting with U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Barak’s bureau said the roadblocks were located close to the cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Tul Karm and Qalqilyah, and were removed as part of a series of moves aimed at improving the lives of Palestinians announced by the defense minister at the meeting with Rice. Also Thursday, Barak approved the allocation of NIS 8 million for the renovation of five large crossings in the West Bank. The Hawara checkpoint near Nablus is slated to be the first to be expanded and revamped.

Israel: Bedouin in unrecognised villages struggle to get water to their home
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - Integrated, ReliefWeb 4/3/2008
BEERSHEEBA, 3 April 2008 (IRIN) -Over half of the 85,000 Bedouin in the Negev desert live in some 40 villages not recognised by Israel, leaving them without access to many basic services, most importantly water. According to experts, about 45,000 Bedouin transport water to their homes using tankers or on animals. Hundreds of people in Tel Arad village, for example, are completely reliant on tankers and animals to get water, making life more expensive for people who can hardly afford to buy meat on a regular basis. "I am not connected to the water system, because they (the state) don’t want (it)," said Odeh, an elderly resident, who remembers being displaced as a child. As in other places, people keep their water in tanks on their roofs. These can rust inside and the Israeli Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has expressed concern that this has unhealthy side effects, and can cause diarrhoea.

Israel razes Arab home in J’lem over illegal building permit
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 4/3/2008
An Israeli wrecking crew has demolished a one-story home in an Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem Wednesday in what critics say is a bid to ensure Jewish majority. The home of the Hamdan family in the Anata neighborhood of Jerusalem was razed Wednesday. It was demolished once before, and was rebuilt last summer by peace activists. While the home was built without a permit, Palestinians say it’s virtually impossible for them to obtain building permits in Jerusalem. According to Arabs in Jerusalem, the demolition is part of Israeli efforts to restrict Arab population growth in the city. City officials said in response that they enforce building codes equally in all parts of Jerusalem. Former Jerusalem city council member Meir Margalit said the municipalityissues only about 130 building permits in Arab neighborhoods each year.

Rabbi Eliyahu: Life of one yeshiva boy worth more than 1,000 Arabs
Kobi Nahshoni, YNetNews 4/3/2008
Mass Jerusalem service marks one-month anniversary of deadly attack on Mercaz Harav rabbinical seminary. ’We do not seek vengeance, we seek retaliation,’ says yeshiva head says - Some 1,000 people attended a memorial service at the Mercaz Harav rabbinical seminary Thursday, marking the one-month anniversary of the murderous attackwhich claimed the lives of eight young men. Also attending the service were many prominent rabbis of the Religious Zionist Movement, who were not shy about expressing their rage against the government’s policy. Rabbi Yaakov Shapira, head of the Mercaz Harav yeshiva, chose to explain the attack by saying that "the Torah and the land of Israel are acquired only through agony. " Former Sephardi chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu called on the government to decree that for every life lost in the attack another yeshiva and township will be formed.

IOF troops wound 6 Palestinians while Israeli settler runs over teen
Palestinian Information Center 4/3/2008
KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)-- Six Palestinian citizens, including a resistance fighter, were wounded in an IOF incursion east of Khan Younis, south of the Gaza Strip, on Thursday morning. Medical sources said that an Islamic Jihad activist, Yousef Khashan, was rushed to the European Gaza hospital in Rafah in view of the seriousness of his condition while the others were carried to the Nasser government hospital in Khan Younis. The Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad Movement, announced that its fighters spotted an IOF advance in the vicinity of Sreij gate east of Khan Younis and clashed with the soldiers. The armed wing said its members fired five mortar shells at the invaders and engaged the soldiers in fierce clashes. Meanwhile, in the West Bank, an Israeli settler ran over a Palestinian teen near the Hawara roadblock south of Nablus city on Thursday morning.

Palestinian hurt trying to grab IDF soldier’s gun near Hebron
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 4/4/2008
An Israel Defense Forces soldier shot and lightly wounded a Palestinian on Thursday after the man tried to snatch his gun in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba. The incident occurred while several Palestinians threw stones at the IDF troops, who were attempting to deter them. In the ensuing scuffle the man tried to grab one of the soldiers’ guns and was shot. The injured Palestinian was taken by ambulance to the Red Crescent hospital in Hebron for treatment. A similar attack last yearresulted in the death of an Israeli Arab who successfully seized a security guard’s rifle in Jerusalem and shot him in the shoulder before being fatally shot himself. Meanwhile, it was released for publication Thursday that two days ago, at the Tarqumiya Crossing east of Kiryat Gat, an Israeli truck was caught with 300 liters of sulfuric acid.

IOF troops demolish two Palestinian homes in Jerusalem
Palestinian Information Center 4/3/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation policemen on Wednesday escorted and protected municipal bulldozers in occupied Jerusalem while flattening two Palestinian homes for the second time for "lack of construction permit". A large number of those policemen encircled the two homes and blocked citizens from approaching. The policemen forcibly evacuated owners of the two homes and their families before damaging water, electricity and TV wires then destroying the buildings. Legal sources said that around 20,000 Palestinian homes are threatened with demolition by the Israeli occupation authority in occupied Jerusalem at the pretext of lack of legal permit, which is never obtained when asked for.

Israeli settlement drive in WB the highest in a decade
Palestinian Information Center 4/3/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli construction plan of new settlements units in the occupied West Bank has registered a new boost not witnessed in the past decade, according to the Hebrew press. ’Yediot Ahronot’ newspaper said on Wednesday that the Israeli occupation government was planning the construction of 1,908 settlement units in the West Bank in 2008, and added that all the units would be built in the major settlement blocs, which Tel Aviv said it would retain in any final peace agreement with the Palestinians. The units would be built in the settlement blocs near to Bethlehem, Ramallah, Al-Khalil and Salfit cities. Hebrew statistics revealed that the number of new settlements units was not witnessed since the early nineties of the past century. The occupation government in 2007 built only 45 new settlement units in the West Bank.

Israeli forces seize six Palestinians across West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 4/3/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized six Palestinians on Thursday morning after raiding several West Bank cities and villages. Israeli sources said the arrestees were ’wanted’ Palestinians from the districts of Hebron and Ramallah. Meanwhile, Palestinian security sources said Israeli forces arrested 29-year-old Ahmad Al-Atrash from Al-Walaja village near Bethlehem in the southern West Bank as he was heading to work in Jerusalem. In Tulkarem district in the northern West Bank, local sources told Ma’an’s correspondent that the Israeli forces apprehended 24-year-old Khalid Sabbah in the village of Qaffin. He is the brother of a ’wanted’ Islamic Jihad activist.

Six Palestinian fighters injured in clashes with Israeli forces
Ma’an News Agency 4/3/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Six Palestinian fighters have been injured, one seriously, in ongoing clashes with Israeli forces in Khan Younis on Thursday. Palestinian medical sources said the seriously injured activist was taken to the European Hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip and the other five were taken to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. According to eyewitnesses, the clashes are still ongoing. A statement from the Al-Quds Brigades explained that fighters affiliated to the Islamic Jihad targeted an Israeli undercover force with two rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and five mortar shells before clashing with them for several hours. [end]

IOF troops sever mobile phone transmission during incursion into Beit Hanun
Palestinian Information Center 4/2/2008
BEIT HANUN, (PIC)-- The IOF troops used a new technique causing the severance of transmission of all mobile phone lines during their incursion at dawn Wednesday into the east of the Beit Hanun town, northern Gaza Strip, and kidnapped three Palestinian citizens before withdrawing. Palestinian eyewitnesses reported that IOF troops reinforced by five tanks invaded the town amid sporadic gunfire at Palestinians’ houses and kidnapped three young men. The eyewitness revealed that the invading troops placed an electronic device on one of the tanks to jam mobile phones used in the invaded areas in order to prevent the citizens from providing the Palestinian resistance with information about their locations. Meanwhile, the IOF troops kidnapped a Palestinian resistance fighter affiliated with the Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad Movement, during their incursion at dawn Wednesday in the Jenin refugee camp.

VIDEO - Gazan Olympic hopeful awaits permit to travel to Beijing
Haaretz Staff an Channel 10, Ha’aretz 4/4/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 news roundup for April 3, 2008. Nader al-Masri, from Beit Hanoun, is the fastest runner in the Gaza Strip, a title he’s earned under less than auspicious circumstances. Currently, Beit Hanoun’s fingers are crossed in hopes that Israel or Egypt will let al-Masri leave the battered coastal territory to take part in the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing. Al-Masri trains in empty lots in Beit Hanoun, to the sound of Qassams being launched from the vicinity and IAF warplanes overhead. [end]

WHO: Israel turning away sick Gazans, who die in ’avoidable tragedies’
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 4/4/2008
Israel has turned away more sick Palestinians from Gaza seeking treatment since Hamas seized control of the coastal strip and several have died each month unnecessarily, a United Nations agency said on Tuesday. The World Health Organization (WHO) said Israel denied entry permits to 18. 5 percent of patients seeking to leave the Gaza Strip in 2007 versus 10 percent in 2006. In absolute terms, however, the number of patients from Gaza who were treated in Israel substantially increased, rising from nearly 5,000 in 2006 to 7,000 in 2007. 1,627 Gazan patients saw their requests denied in 2007, as opposed to the aproximate 470 who were denied treatment in 2006, according to WHO figures. The WHO said the number of applicants and the percentage of those turned away surged after Hamas Islamists seized control of Gaza in June, the crossing to Egypt was closed and Israel tightened restrictions on the territory.

Report: Last March was the worst in history of Palestinian journalism
Palestinian Information Center 4/3/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian journalist bloc stated in its monthly report that the month of March was the worst in the history of Palestinian journalism and media in the West Bank as a result of the ongoing assaults of the Israeli occupation and the PA security apparatuses. The report called for stopping all forms of arrest and kidnapping against journalists because of their coverage of news and for releasing immediately Palestinian journalists Musab Katluni and Tariq Shahab from the PA’s jails in the West Bank. It also called for holding new elections for the journalist union’s board after the current board became legally invalid and showed a flagrant bias in favor of a number of violations against journalism and media in the occupied West Bank. The bloc concluded its report saying that the PA security apparatuses in the West Bank ban the Palestine and the Resala newspapers. . .

Settlers, peace activists clash at illegal outpost close to Kedumim
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 4/3/2008
West Bank settlers clashed violently with peace activists and Palestinians hours after the evacuation of an illegal outpost close to the Kedumim settlement Wednesday. In the morning, police and Civil Administration officials evacuated seven Jewish teenagers staying at the outpost, which had been built some six months ago. It had been evacuated several times, but each time the settlers moved back. In the afternoon peace activists and Palestinians came to the site with the intention of establishing their own outpost. They said the land’s Palestinian owner asked them to keep an eye on it for her. In response the settlers organized youths to return to the site. The Yesh Din human rights organization reported that the settlers attacked and beat the peace activists and Palestinians, while the Border Police stood idly by.

Israeli High Court Issues Stop-Work Order on Silwan Excavations
Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 4/2/2008
The arrest of eight Palestinian and Israeli activists in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on March 13 came as yet another unsettling, though unsurprising development in the community’s ongoing battle to protect itself from expanding settlement activity. The situation in Silwan is unique among West Bank and East Jerusalem communities resisting the expansion of Israeli settlements: since 1986, when the Ir David Foundation and its parent organization Elad were founded, the neighborhood, which fell within the walls of ancient Jerusalem during the time of the first and second temples, has been marketed to tourists and Israelis as the "City of David. " The initiative undertaken by Elad to excavate as many artifacts of ancient Jewish history as possible in the Silwan area is seen by its Palestinian inhabitants as an effort by the organization to consolidate Israel’s hold over East Jerusalem land that it occupied 1967.

ICAHD founder Jeff Halper arrested for attempting to stop house demolition in Jerusalem
Ma’an News Agency 4/2/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli police arrested Jeff Halper, the founder and coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) for attempting to prevent the destruction of a Palestinian house in the town of Anata, within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, on Wednesday morning. He was detained at the Metsudat Adumim police headquarters for two hours before being released. He has not yet been charged with any criminal offence but has been told he may face criminal proceedings. "It’s not clear if they’re going to press charges," Halper told Ma’an after his release, adding that he may be facing a jail sentence if charged. "I’ve run out of hours of community service so they’ll have to put me in jail but I doubt that it’ll happen. " Israeli police removed the furniture from the Hamdan family home in Anata before Israeli bulldozers moved in and leveled the house, an ICAHD spokesperson said.

Israeli High Court blocks military from shutting down charities in Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 4/2/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – The Israeli High Court of Justice has decided to freeze a military order to confiscate property belonging to the Islamic Charitable Society and the Muslim Youth League in the West Bank city of Hebron, Abdul-Kareem Farrah the information advisor to the Islamic Charitable Society said on Tuesday. "The High Court of Justice told the Israeli military commander that he could respond to the appeal made by the two charities," Farrah told Ma’an. He added that the charities still need political support from the Palestinian Authority and the international community. An Israeli military commander issued an order last February to confiscate all the properties that belonged to the two charities including schools, buildings and residential houses. If the decision had been fully implemented, 7,000 students would have no school, 4,000 orphans would become homeless, 5,000. . .

Police sources: AG footdragging in lynching case due to political reasons
Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 4/3/2008
Police officers in the Northern Region are asking whether the state prosecutor and attorney general’s delayed decision on the suspected lynching of Jewish terrorist Eden Natan-Zada is due to a lack of evidence or is political. On August 4, 2005, Natan-Zada, an IDF deserter, opened fire with his army-issue weapon inside a bus heading toward the Arab town Shfaram from Haifa; he killed four Shfaram residents and wounded 14 others. He may have hoped his actions would set off events that would prevent the Gaza disengagement scheduled for later that summer. An enraged mob attacked Natan-Zada and killed him. The police opened an investigation into the lynching on suspicions that Natan-Zada might have been killed by the mob after he had already been brought under control, disarmed and handcuffed. After eight months of investigation - under a court-ordered media blackout - the police. . .

Palestinian police officer convicted of murder
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 4/2/2008
Palestinian who murdered Israeli Border Guard officer in 2000 sentenced to 55 years in prison. Convict dismisses notion he will carry out full term, says he will undoubtedly be released in prisoner exchange, then continue killing - The Salem Military Court in Samaria sentenced on Wednesday Na’al Yassin, a Palestinian police officer who murdered Border Guard Officer Yossi Tabijah in September of 2000, to a life term and an additional 30 years, to be served consecutively. According to the indictment, on September 29, 2000 the convict participated in a patrol arranged together with the Border Guard. The two patrol vehicles, belonging to the Border Guard and the Palestinian police, parked next to the West Bank city of Qalqilya, at which point Yassin exited the Palestinian vehicle and began to shoot at the Israeli car, crying "Allah Akbar.

Israel tries to cool predictions of impending war with Syria
Charly Wegman, Daily Star 4/4/2008
Agence France Presse - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel on Thursday played down media reports of heightened tension along the Syrian border, insisting there was little likelihood of military confrontation between the two countries. "Israel has no intention of attacking Syria, and the latter says only it is ready to respond to any attack, so the risk of a military confrontation is very low," said Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon. His comments came as some Israeli newspapers splashed front-page stories claiming the military was on high alert after Syria reportedly boosted its deployment near the border and called up reserves. The Jerusalem Post said that increased tension along the frontier, as well as in the Gaza Strip, led Defense Minister Ehud Barak to cancel a planned visit to Germany, though a spokesman insisted that the decision was linked to a planned home-front defense exercise next week.

Israel fears Syrian army moves may signal Hezbollah attack
Amos Harel Avi Issacharoff, Yuval Azoulay and Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 4/4/2008
Israel is concerned that recent actions by the Syrian armed forces are a possible preamble for a Hezbollah operation against the northern border and a broader conflagration. The Deputy Chief of Staff, Major-General Dan Harel, warned Wednesday that Israel will respond with a heavy hand against anyone trying to target Israel. In a further sign that tensions are mounting along the Israel-Syrian border, Defense Minister Ehud Barak has canceled a scheduled visit to Germany. The London-published daily Al-Quds al-Arabi reported Wednesday that the Syrians have recently deployed three armored divisions because Damascus is concerned about an Israeli attack. Sources in the defense establishment say the report in the Arabic-language paper are exaggerated, but note that Syria has taken some unusual steps recently.

Intel sources: Syria hasn’t called up reserve forces
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 4/4/2008
Syria has not mobilized its reserve forces, Military Intelligence officials said Thursday at a defense briefing. No irregular moves had taken place in recent days on the Syrian side of the border, the officials added, despite press reports to the contrary. The officials said that according to the current analysis, there has not been any exceptional activity on the other side of the border. This estimate contradicts media reports of a recent Syrian deployment of three armored divisions, which was considered as likely to have stemmed from concerns in Damascus about an Israeli strike in response to an attack by Hezbollah. Hezbollah has threatened to attack Israel as revenge for what it claims is Jerusalem’s responsibility in the assassination of terrorist mastermind Imad Mughniyah in February.

Report: Syria confirms listening in on IDF with Iran’s help
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 4/4/2008
Israeli officials’ reported comments that Tehran has been building listening stationsin Syria to intercept Israeli military communications were confirmed in Damascus but denied by Iran, an Arab newspaper said Thursday. A Syrian member of parliament, Mohammed Habash, told the pan-Arab daily al-Sharq al-Awsat that the listening stations in Syria were no secret. "Syria is doing all it could to defend its territory and is turning to military experts for help," said Habash, who heads parliament’s Syrian-Iranian relations committee. "We are still at war with Israel. We have the right to defend our borders with all means within international law," Habash added. The real objective of Syrian cooperation with Russia, China and Iran is to protect the country’s borders, the lawmaker said.

Meshal: Hamas backs Palestinian state in ’67 borders
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 4/3/2008
Hamas supports the united Palestinian position calling for the establishment of a fully sovereign Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, including Jerusalem, and the right of return for refugees, Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshal told the Palestinian daily Al-Ayam. In a special interview with today’s edition of the paper, Meshal said the Palestinian position had received a vote of consensus during the national accords of 2006 and that this position is considered acceptable to the Arab world at large. Meshal was asked about the claims by Israel and the United States that Hamas is seeking to destroy Israel. He said Hamas has committed itself to a political plan, which it follows, and called on the Americans, the Europeans and other international entities to conduct themselves in accordance with this political truth, and to judge Hamas based on its political plan, not based on what people may imagine.

Senior Palestinian: We need to halt talks with Israel
DPA, Ha’aretz 4/4/2008
A senior Palestinian official Thursday called for a halt in negotiations with Israel in response to a recent Israeli decision to intensify settlement activity in Palestinian areas. Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee and member of the Palestinian negotiating team, told the official Voice of Palestine radio station that the Palestinian Authority should halt talks with Israel as long as it expands settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. "We cannot continue negotiations and have a political process under an Israel deception and a United States administration unwilling to do anything about it," he said. "If [the U. S. ] is unable to stop [Israel’s] settlements, it will not be able to bring peace," he said.

Palestinian official calls for halting negotiations with Israel
Deutsche Presse Agentur, ReliefWeb 4/3/2008
Ramallah_(dpa)_ A senior Palestinian official Thursday called for halting negotiations with Israel in response to a new Israeli decision to intensify settlement activity in the Palestinian areas. Yaser Abed Rabbo, secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee and member of the Palestinian negotiating team with Israel, told the official Voice of Palestine radio that the Palestinian Authority should halt talks with Israel as long as it expands settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. "We cannot continue negotiations and have a political process under an Israel deception and a United States administration unwilling to do anything about it," he said. "If (the US) is unable to stop (Israel’s) settlements, it will not be able to bring peace," he said. The Palestinian Authority "should generate a major crisis equal to the crisis Israel has. . .

Mishaal: Israel trying to open channel of communication with Hamas
Palestinian Information Center 4/2/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Khaled Mishaal, the head of the Hamas political bureau, revealed Tuesday that the Israeli occupation is attempting to open channels of communication with the Movement, but it was always met with rejection, categorically denying PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s allegation that Hamas has such channels with Israel. "Israel is trying to convey through different parties its desire to open channels of communication with Hamas, but we always reject it because we cannot fall into that trap. The Zionist entity is notorious for its attempts to pollute and exhaust everyone and to play on the time factor, and we do not accept that", Mishaal explained in an interview with the Italian AKI news agency. The Hamas leader underlined that Israel knows what is required from it and knows that it has to end its illegal occupation and to recognize the Palestinian rights.

Pardoned Palestinian acitivist back on Israel’s wanted list
Ma’an News Agency 4/3/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat – One of the most prominent Palestinian activists affiliated to Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Brigades, Ziad Mizhir,is being held in the Bethlehem-based preventive security jail for his own protection. He was pardoned under an Israeli amnesty agreement, but was then put back on the ’wanted’ list. Security officers did not try to prevent him from getting into a car with reporters from the London based daily newspaper Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat, but they appealed to him not to do so as they are meant to be protecting him. He apologized, saying, "Just by standing at the door of the preventive security service headquarters, I’m putting us all in danger. The Israelis have informed the Palestinian Authority (PA) that I will be targeted if I leave the preventive security headquarters. " Mizhir said he could not understand the shift in the Israeli attitude after. . .

Five illegal West Bank outposts to be removed, state tells High Court
Nadav Shragai and Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 4/3/2008
Five illegal outposts in the West Bank will be removed, the State Prosecutor’s Office has told the High Court of Justice. The evacuation will be part of an agreement being formulated between the Defense Ministry and the Yesha Council, the umbrella group representing settlers in the West Bank. "In the first stage, in the near future, five illegal outposts will be evacuated," the prosecutor’s office said. The outposts to be evacuated were all established after March 2001, though a letter from the Defense Ministry’s legal adviser to the State Prosecutor’s Office’s High Court division did not detail which settlements would go. Forceful methods preferred - The Defense Minister’s bureau said that revealing the identity of the outposts planned for removal could wreck the negotiations. "We are aware that the negotiations have been going on for a while, but as long. . . "

IDF says removed 10 West Bank roadblocks
Efrat Weiss and AP, YNetNews 4/3/2008
Roadblocks near Nablus, Tulkarem, Qalqiliya removed as gesture to Abbas. ’Removal of roadblocks will make it easier on terrorists to carry out attacks,’ says Israeli security official. Palestinians: Not one roadblock removed - The IDF said in a statement Thursday that it took down 10 manned roadblocks near the West Bank towns of Nablus, Tulkarem and Qalqiliya to ease restrictions on the movement of Palestinians, in keeping with the commitments Israel made to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her visit to the region earlier this week. However, none of the points are major crossings. Israel promised Rice it would remove 50 roadblocks to ease restrictions on Palestinians. Israel says the obstacles are needed to keep Palestinian assailants out, but the Jewish state also wants to boost moderate

VIDEO - MK Tibi visits Beirut despite ban
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 4/3/2008
(Video) Arab MK arrives in Beirut after visiting Yemen, where he discusses Fatah-Hamas talks with president. Tibi claims his plane made an hour’s stopover in Lebanese capital, but Right-wing activists, MKs are outraged - VIDEO - MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) landed in the Lebanese capital Beirut Wednesday night, accompanied by three Israeli-Arab journalists. The visit prompted an immediate condemnation by rightist MKs and activists. - Video: Infolive. tv - Israeli citizens are prohibited from traveling to Lebanon, which is defined by law as an enemy state. In response, Tibi said: "The Right is dying to see us forced out of the Knesset by fascist laws. This was just a one-hour stopover. " The MK explained that his plane made a planned stop in Beirut as part of the flight’s routine route from Yemen to Jordan.

MK Tibi’s visit in Beirut sparks rage among Israel’s right wing
Jack Khoury and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 4/3/2008
MK Ahmed Tibi (Ra’am-Ta’al) visited Beirut on Thursday, sparking controversy among Israel’s right wing. MK Arieh Eldad (National Union-National Religious Party) said that "he who ignores the law and visits an enemy state becomes himself an enemy of the state. " The media reported Thursday morning that Tibi made a stop in Lebanon on his way back to Israel from Yemen. It is not clear whether the Israeli Arab MK held meetings with Lebanese officials during his visit. Tibi said that the reports regarding his Lebanon visit were wildly exaggerated and were essentially untrue. According to Tibi, he was in Lebanon on a one-hour stopover. "This is a controversy over nothing," he said. "The right wing has been drawn into a baseless assault and it wants to see us [Arab MKs] outside the Knesset by way of fascist laws.

MK Tibi denies commenting on Israeli claims he visited Beirut
Ma’an News Agency 4/3/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset Ahmad Tibi said on Thursday he has not issued any comment on claims being made in the Israeli media that he visited the Lebanese capital Beirut. Israeli media outlets recently reported that Tibi violated the Israeli ban on public figures visiting Lebanon when he landed in Beirut along with three Palestinian journalists who live in Israel. Tibi had been visiting Yemen, and the Israeli news reports claimed that he visited Beirut after meeting with Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Salih. In 2005, Israeli police interrogated Tibi over a visit to Lebanon which Israel considers an enemy state. [end]

Rabbis: Shas ’collaborating with the enemy’
Jerusalem Post 4/2/2008
Shas and other government coalition members who permitted the transfer of armored cars and firearms to the Palestinian Authority are aiding and abetting terrorism and will lead to the shedding of Jewish blood,according to a Jewish legal decision issued by a group of hawkish rabbis this week. The rabbis also called on IDF officers and soldiers to resist military orders to facilitate the transferral. Defense Minister Ehud Barak (Labor) said last week he had agreed to the transfer of new military vehicles and equipment to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s security forces as well as to the easing of travel restrictions for West Bank residents. In addition, Palestinian police will receive Kalashnikov rifles, rubber bullets and night-vision equipment, according to Army Radio. Barak said the roster included equipment for Abbas’s

New bill prohibits economic ties with Iran
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 4/2/2008
Knesset passes act banning investment in companies upholding ties with Iran. Opposition leader Netanyahu, who championed bill says economic sanctions ’proven to change countries’ policies’ - The Knesset on Wednesday approved a bill prohibiting all business institutions from investing in companies upholding ties with Iran. The bill was put forward by Opposition leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu(Likud) in an effort to broaden the economic sanctions on Iran and thus to hinder its nuclear progress. The new law carries a sentence of 25 years in prison. Following the vote in favor of his proposal, Netanyahu said that "the Islamic Republic of Iran constitutes a danger to world peace and the existence of the State of Israel; and it has been proven that economic sanctions cause definite changes in the international and political policies of countries worldwide.

Relatives of Palestinian prisoners in Egyptian prisons appeal for their release
Palestinian Information Center 4/2/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Relatives of Palestinian prisoners in Egyptian jails have appealed to Egyptian president, government and parliament to issue instructions for the immediate release of those detainees. The relatives staged a sit-in before the Red Cross headquarters and organized a press conference during which one of the parents of those detainees spoke to the press. Abul Mutasem said that his son Walid Al-Quqa has been in Egyptian jails for four years along with two others without any charge while another three were held in Egyptian jails for one a half years. He said that messages were addressed to the Egyptian interior minister and the intelligence chief but to no avail, and charged that their relatives were being held for political reasons. Abul Mutasem noted that the Egyptian state security court had ruled the release of those prisoners but the ruling was not implemented.

Security forces clear two West Bank outposts, plan for more
Haaretz Staff, Ha’aretz 4/2/2008
Security forces on Wednesday evacuated two illegal West Bank outposts and are planning to clear at least three more in the near future, Army Radio reported. Forces evacuate the Harhivi outpost in the northern West Bank and the Shvut Ami outpost near the settlement of Kedumim, the radio said. The Defense Ministry’s legal adviser, Ahaz Ben-Ari, has told the State Prosecution that five illegal outposts will be voluntarily abandoned in the near future, according to Army Radio. "Progress has begun on the general matter of outposts," Ben-Ari wrote in a letter to the Prosecution, as quoted by the radio. "As part of an arrangement being made, in the coming period five illegal outposts will be voluntarily evacuated. " Of late, the Yesha Council of Settlements and the Defense Ministry have been in contact regarding a series. . .

Israel removes one of more than 550 West Bank roadblocks
Ma’an News Agency 4/2/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – United Nations teams observed on Tuesday that one Israeli military checkpoint has been removed from a road near the West Bank city of Jericho, following a pledge from Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to ease restrictions on Palestinian movement. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) classifies the roadblock as a partial checkpoint, meaning that Israeli soldiers are only present some of the time. The UN teams observed that the physical infrastructure of the checkpoint has now been removed. According to OCHA’s December 2007 maps, more than 550 Israeli checkpoints, gates, roadblocks, trenches, and other obstructions still exist in the West Bank.

Bethlehem to host international economic conference in May
Ma’an News Agency 4/2/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – A major international economic conference is scheduled to be held in the West Bank city of Bethlehem beginning on 21 May. Hasan Abu-Libdeh, the conference CEO, told the press on Tuesday that the Palestine Investment Conference reflects international efforts to encourage the growth of the Palestinian economy in light of the ongoing US-backed Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations. He added that 300 businessmen and women from Europe and Arab countries have been invited to take part in the conference. So far, 120 people have confirmed their participation in the three-day conference. The Palestinian private sector will pay for 25% of the conference’s expenses, and the Palestinian Authority will pay for the rest. Earlier this week, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak pledged to facilitate the movement of conference participants towards Bethlehem.

First J’lem forum for Diaspora, local philanthropists
Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 4/3/2008
With the level of U. S. fundraising for Israeli causes in danger of decline, 200 Jewish philanthropists arrived in Jerusalem this week, to see what their Israeli counterparts were doing about it. "There is a feeling that despite the increasing affluence of Israeli society, the local businesspeople aren’t doing there share and Israelis still look to America for much of their funding. This is going to have to change," said a participant at the Jewish Funders Network conference this week. This is the first time the JFN held its annual conference in Jerusalem, with the stated intention of engaging Israelis in Jewish philanthropy. JFN was founded 18 years ago, but through much of its existence, it merely organized a yearly conference. Over the last six years, it has broadened its activity, providing individual donors and relatively small,. . .

Vietnam to open embassy in Tel Aviv
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 4/4/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Vietnam will open an embassy in Israel in the coming months after 15 years of diplomatic ties between the two states, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said on Thursday. Vietnam’s deputy foreign minister, Vu Dung, on an official visit to Israel, announced that Hanoi intended to open an embassy "within several months," the ministry said in a statement. The embassy will be in Tel Aviv and not in Occupied Jerusalem, which the international community does not recognize as Israel’s capital, said the head of the ministry’s Southeast Asia desk, Giora Bachar. The move was expected to tighten ties between the two countries, mainly in trade and tourism, Bachar added. Trade volume stood at $160 million last year. Although the two countries established ties in 1993 and Israel has an embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam has so far been represented in the Jewish state by its embassy in Egypt.

’Allying with Christian Zionists is bad for Israel’
Shmuel Rosner, Ha’aretz 4/4/2008
Rabbi Yoffie slams rejection of 2-state solution, blasts evangelical leader Hagee over attacking other faiths. NEW YORK - "No, we cannot. "We cannot cooperate with the Christian Zionists, Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, told the annual conference of the movement’s rabbis Wednesday night in Cincinnati, Ohio, according to copies of the speech distributed ahead of time to the press. Not an easy thing to say, considering their powerful numbers and the depth of the Evangelicals’ support for Israel. But Yoffie thinks it is important - not because of their stance on abortion, their policies against homosexuals or the fact they do not respect members of other religions. These elements certainly add to the argument, particularly the last factor, but they are not the main reasons.

Palestinian sniper recalls operation which left 10 Israelis dead six years ago
Ma’an News Agency 4/2/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Six years ago, a single Palestinian sniper named Tha’r Hammad from the central West Bank town of Silwad killed 10 Israelis and injured several others. Hammad, who was seized by the Israeli authorities afterwards, is now serving a life sentence in an Israeli jail. Six years after the operation Hammad was interviewed by the press:Q- What do you remember about the operation which you carried out six years ago? A- On the 2nd of March 2002, I left home after the dawn prayer and prepared myself for the operation. I had been watching the Israeli watchtower for four days and I learned the details of when the soldiers rotated shifts. I took my M1 rifle, three ammunition clips and 40 separate bullets. Each clip contained eight bullets. I left the village on foot at about 6am heading towards the mountain opposite the Israeli military watchtower and checkpoint.

Two civilians lightly hurt in mortar attack on Negev kibbutz
Mijal Grinberg and Reuters, Ha’aretz 4/2/2008
Two civilians were lightly wounded Tuesday morning when Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired a mortar shell at the Negev kibbutz of Netiv Ha’asara. The mortar shell damaged a building and a powerline in the kibbutz. Earlier Tuesday, two Palestinian militants were killed by an elite Israel Defense Forces unit during a predawn raid in the central Gaza Strip, Hamas and medical officials said. Hamas said the two militants were the first from the Islamist group to be killed by Israel in nearly a month. An IDF spokeswoman said troops shot the two Palestinian militants as the army conducted a ground assault against what she called "terror infrastructure" in the Hamas-controlled territory. The violence could challenge Egyptian-mediated efforts to broker a truce between Israel and militant groups.

Israeli forces seize 18 Palestinians during early morning raids in the West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 4/2/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized 18 Palestinians during arrest raids across the West Bank on Wednesday morning, Israeli and Palestinian sources reported. According to Israeli sources, 17 of the arrestees were from Nablus and Tulkarem in the northern West Bank, and one from Ramallah. Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided Nablus and nearby Askar refugee camp, forcibly searching several houses before detaining two young men. The same sources added Israeli forces seized a young Palestinian man at the Huwwara checkpoint, at the southern entrance to Nablus, on Tuesday evening. Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint claimed the man was in possession of a homemade bomb. Witnesses said the troops closed the checkpoint, blocking traffic in both directions, for more than an hour.

OPT: Refugee stories - UNRWA embarks on large-scale camp rehabilitation with support of UAE Red Crescent Society
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in, ReliefWeb 4/3/2008
Aleppo, April 2008 - With more than 9,000 people crammed into an area 650 meters by 200 meters, Neirab camp near Aleppo has a population density that sadly rivals Gaza. Most of the population lives in small one-room shelters. Depending on the time of day, these tiny rooms may serve as living rooms, salons or bedrooms. Um Hashem, Neirab resident, outlines in gestures how six people can sleep in twelve square metres: four people lay sideways across the room. Meanwhile, Um Hashem lies lengthways, clutching her two-month-old son. It has been close quarters in Neirab camp since the first Palestine refugees fled their homeland to Syria in 1948, where they were put up in abandoned WWII barracks. Originally, each barrack in the former British and French military base housed sixteen families. With successive generations the camp population increased, however the size of the camp has stayed the same.

Palestinian Red Crescent Society: Annual Appeal No. MAAPS001 Report 2006-2007 (2)
International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies, ReliefWeb 4/3/2008
This report covers the period of 01/01/06 to 31/12/07 of a two-year planning and appeal process. In brief Programme summary:Despite huge financial challenges due to lack of support from the Palestinian government following the international embargo, and the constant tightening of the closure behind the separating wall of the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), effectively putting the Gaza Strip under siege and separating cities and villages from each other in the West Bank, and making it almost impossible for Palestine Red Crescent Society (Palestine RC) staff and volunteers to travel between the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as to its branches in Lebanon and Syria, the National Society has been able to continue carrying out its humanitarian mission for the most vulnerable people. This has been possible thanks to the strong commitment by its employees, volunteers and partners.

IOF troops kidnap 103 Palestinians last March only in Al-Khalil
Palestinian Information Center 4/3/2008
AL-KHALIL, (PIC)-- The Palestinian prisoner club said Wednesday the IOF troops kidnapped during last March 103 Palestinian citizens including 15 patients and 11 children in Al-Khalil city [Hebron], southern West Bank. In a report received by the PIC, the club stated that the IOF troops during its kidnapping campaigns deliberately beat the kidnapped citizens and destroy furniture during home raids as happened during the kidnapping of Tariq Erziqat who suffers from rheumatism in his joints, where the IOF troops beat and forced him to carry heavy bags. In another context, the popular committee against the siege appealed Wednesday to the UN and international community to intervene urgently to prevent Israel from continuing to close charities in Al-Khalil which support thousands of orphans and poor families in the West Bank who have no other breadwinners.

UK to give £32 million extra to meet urgent Palestinian needs in 2008
United Kingdom Department for International Development, ReliefWeb 4/2/2008
The UK today committed to provide £32 million extra in aid for Palestinians in 2008 as part of an overall pledge to give up to £243m in the next three years linked to political progress. This will take our total contribution to £63. 6 million for the year between April 2007 and March 2008. The funds will help to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza, pay teachers, doctors and engineers and keep basic services running. The announcement by Douglas Alexander, the Secretary of State for International Development, follows a pledge by the international community last year to give more than £3. 5 billion in aid to the Palestinian Authority. The UK pledged to give up to £243 million linked to political progress between 2008 and 2011. The UK is one of the first donors to follow through on its Paris pledge. Douglas Alexander said: ’I am extremely concerned about the situation in Gaza.

WHO: The Israeli siege killed 32 patients in Gaza during the last five months
Palestinian Information Center 4/2/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- A report issued by the UN-affiliated world health organization (WHO) revealed that 32 Palestinian patients died during the past five months as a result of the Israeli siege on Gaza and the restrictions imposed on their travel for medical treatment. Ambrogio Manenti, the head of the WHO’s West Bank and Gaza office, opined in a press conference that case studies of patients who died while waiting for permits to travel to Israel for treatment show "nonsense, inhumanity and, at the end, tragedy. ""All these tragedies could have been easily avoided," Manenti said. A Palestinian patient called Saifuddin Shubaki, 49, suffering from cancer, was proclaimed dead Tuesday evening after the IOA prevented him from traveling to receive medical treatment. Palestinian medical sources also announced Wednesday the death of another patient called Mohamed Al-Hmarneh, 70.

Weekly Report on Israeli human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 27 Mar - 02 Apr 2008
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, ReliefWeb 4/2/2008
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)- 6 activists of the Palestinian resistance were killed by IOF in the Gaza Strip. - A Palestinian civilian was killed by an Israeli settler in the West Bank. - 16 Palestinian, including 4 children, a farmer and a journalist, were wounded by IOF in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. - IOF conducted 41 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and 9 ones into the Gaza Strip. - IOF arrested 33 Palestinian civilians, including 7 children and a girl, in the West Bank and 23 others, including 2 children, in the Gaza Strip. - IOF razed at least 160 donums(1) of agricultural land and destroyed 200 beehives in the Gaza Strip. - IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT.

A kindergarten in a tent
Mijal Grinberg, Ha’aretz 4/2/2008
In an improvised tent, under the auspices of volunteer kindergarten teachers, a kindergarten for the children of the unrecognized Bedouin village of al-Rahma has been operating on a lot belonging to the Yeroham local council. The villagers are fed up with their ongoing battle with the authorities to get them to open a kindergarten for their children, as well as to meet a host of other unfulfilled promises, and so, with the help of a group of Yeroham residents known as Mirkam Ezori ("regional fabric"), opened the kindergarten. "Over the last five years, we have approached all the government ministries. The Interior Ministry and Education Ministry told us: ’Okay, open a kindergarten, but you have to contact the local authority to organize it,’ and in the meantime they referred our kids to a kindergarten in Dimona, 30 kilometers away, contrary. . .

UNRWA commemorates 1948: Abu-Yaser recalls life in Tel el-Safi
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in, ReliefWeb 4/2/2008
Dheisheh camp, April 2008. A handwritten note on Abu-Yaser’s office door is a stark daily reminder that on 8 July 1948 he and his family were forced to leave their home in Tel el-Safi and have never been allowed to return. Abud-Yaser now lives in Dheisheh refugee camp. Abu-Yaser recalls that life in Tel el-Safi was simple yet comfortable. He remembers grinding coffee in the mornings before going out to work in the fields. Rhythmically knocking the wooden stick on the sides of the vessel in which he has put a handful of coffee grains and a couple of cardamoms, Abu-Yaser skillfully demonstrates how the coffee grinder doubles up as a musical instrument. ’At 8 o’clock in the morning you could hear people grinding coffee like this. ’ he explains. ’I still grind my beans in this way,’ he says handing us each a cup of freshly brewed coffee.

Human Rights Watch Releases Indicting Report on Status of Negev Bedouin
Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 4/2/2008
Human Rights Watch released an extensive report on the ongoing violations ofBedouins’ land and housing rights in the 39 unrecognized Bedouin villages of the Negev, at a press conference held yesterday at the American Colony Hotel in East Jerusalem. "We felt this report was necessary now because of the increasing numbers of house demolitions, and because of the pattern of the demolitions," said HRW’s Middle East director Joe Stork, who pointed to the demolition of 30 structures on May 8, 2007 alone in the unrecognized village of Twayil Abu Jarwal - the largest single demolition in the region to date. The report’s author, Lucy Mair, stated that demolitions in the Negev region more than doubled from 2006 to 2007, and that the Israeli government practices systematic discrimination against the Bedouin access to land in the Negev.

Israeli court imprisons Palestinian child for passing near the separation wall
Palestinian Information Center 4/2/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli Ofer military court on Wednesday sentenced a Palestinian child from occupied Jerusalem to four months imprisonment after "convicting" him of walking near the separation wall. Asrana (our prisoners) legal center said in a statement that Mohammed Abu Eid, 16, from Badu village north of Jerusalem was also fined about 400 dollars after the court charged him with passing near the apartheid wall in the village. The IOF soldiers had arrested and beaten up the boy before his arrest last January after passing in front of the separation wall built on the village’s lands. He was hospitalized for treatment after the assault. [end]

Yafa: the struggle against ethnic cleansing of the city continues
Palestinian grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Arabs48.com, Stop The Wall 4/1/2008
In Yafa, more than two thousands residents of the city, joined by other Palestinians, organized a mass protest to on the 29th, one day before Land Day. Yafa, also known as the bride of the sea, was occupied in 1948 by Zionist forces that expelled the majority of the original Palestinian residents from the city. Now, with the Occupation state announcing plans to demolish 500 homes in Yafa, part of the remaining Palestinian community faces a similar threat. The demonstrators marched through the al-‘Ajami neighbourhood in the city and finished in the middle of the main street, Yafit. Representatives of a number of professional, religious, and political organizations participated. The cries of the residents of Yafa and their supporters defied the plans for the demolition of Palestinian homes. Doctor Jamal Zahalqa said in his speech, “60 years ago the residents of Yafa were expelled, and we will not permit expulsions to be repeated.

Israel is ’deserting’ Bedouin Arabs
Donald Macintyre, The Independent 4/1/2008
Tens of thousands of Bedouin Arabs are being forced by discriminatory Israeli laws to live in "unrecognised" shanty towns in constant fear of having their homes demolished and their communities torn apart, Human Rights Watch said yesterday. The agency called for an immediate halt to the systematic demolition of thousands of Bedouin homes since the 1970s and the establishment of an independent commission to investigate "pervasive land and housing discrimination" against Bedouin citizens of Israel in the Negev desert. The report contrasted Israel’s depiction of 45,000 Bedouin homes in 39 unrecognised villages as illegal with what it said was the authorities’ willingness to overlook or retrospectively legalise unlawful construction by Jewish citizens and to link them to the water and electricity networks. Joe Stork, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said: " The [Israeli]. . .

OPT: Open clinic campaign, demanding Ministry of Health take responsibility: Week 1
Physicians for Human Rights, ReliefWeb 4/1/2008
After a week of closure of the Open Clinic for refugees, preliminary responses from the Israeli Parliament are positive, and the Ministry of Health shows willingness to recognize responsibility for healthcare of refugees. Action triggers widespread public debate in Israel. 23 March 2008 – PHR-Israel transfers responsibility for the health of refugees and asylum seekers in Israel to the Ministry of Health: In an unusual move, PHR-Israel announced that it was transferring the responsibility for providing medical treatment for asylum seekers and refugees to the Israeli Ministry of Health, and closed its Open Clinic. The action was taken due to intense pressure on the Open Clinic in recent months, and after repeated requests to the Ministry of Health went unanswered. BACKGROUNDOver the course of 2007 the number of patients treated at the Clinic rose by 70 percent.

Unlawful homes for Israeli settlers, demolitions for Palestinians
Amnesty International, ReliefWeb 3/31/2008
Mobile homes for an illegal Israeli settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) got the go-ahead within a week of Israeli bulldozers demolishing Palestinian homes and property in the area. It emerged last Wednesday (26 March) that Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has approved the transfer of five mobile homes to the Israeli settlement of Teneh Omarim in the region. Only the week before, Israeli army bulldozers demolished nine homes and two livestock enclosures in several Palestinian villages in the southern occupied West Bank. The demolitions were carried out on 19 March in the hamlets of Qawawis, Imneizil, al-Dairat and Umm Lasafa in the South Hebron Hills. Those whose homes were demolished included families with children. In the villages of al-Dairat and Umm Lasafa, the Israeli army destroyed the homes of brothers Yasser and Jihad Mohammed al-’Adra, and  Ismail al-’Adra.

Gaza Strip inter-agency humanitarian fact sheet, Feb 2008
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ReliefWeb 2/29/2008
Following Israel’s complete closure of the Gaza Strip crossings in January, restrictions on the movement of commodities into Gaza continued. Fuel supplies to the Gaza power plant were restricted to 2. 2 million liters per week. The plant’s production was reduced to 55 megawatts (full capacity: 80 megawatts), causing daily eight-hour power cuts everywhere in Gaza except for Rafah, which receives its power from Egypt. Queues for diesel and petrol became a regular occurrence as the supply of diesel and petrol were restricted to 700,000 liters and 70,000 liters per week respectively for the entire Gaza Strip. The distribution of fuel was further complicated by protests by the Association of Gazan Gas Station Owners. Hostilities in February were limited, except for a surge at the end of February which continued into March. PROTECTION (UNRWA/OCHA)A total of 207 rockets and 243 mortars were fired from Gaza towards Israel and IDF installations in Gaza.

Israel blocks entry of UN envoy
Palestinian Information Center 4/3/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli foreign ministry has refused to allow entry of an American UN envoy to its territory and to Palestinian lands at the pretext that he likened its military activity in Gaza Strip to that of the Nazis and expressed understanding of the Palestinian resistance attacks. Hebrew daily ’Ma’ariv’ said that the foreign ministry was angry with the UN for assigning university professor Richard Falk, who is Jewish, to serve as its envoy for human rights affairs. The ministry adopted a rare decision to block entry of the professor in his capacity as a persona non grata. The Israeli mission to the UN informed those concerned that the appointment was not acceptable on its part. Falk’s recent press statements in which he said that the Hebrew state’s military activity in the Strip and the West Bank was similar to the Nazi savagery during World War II infuriated the Israeli officials, the paper underlined.

News in Brief
Ha’aretz 4/3/2008
The European Union intends to raise 150 million euros to rehabilitate the Palestinian Authority law enforcement system. The money will go toward training the PA police to capture offenders and terrorists, build new prisons in West Bank cities to replace those destroyed by Israel and to rebuild the Palestinian justice system. (Barak Ravid) The security cabinet yesterday decided to distribute upgraded gas masks to the population as of January 2009. The plan to upgrade and redistribute the masks is estimated to cost more than NIS 1 billion. The cabinet also authorized a national emergency drill next week, encompassing all ministries, the Israel Defense Forces, local authorities and schools. (Barak Ravid) Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave a speech yesterday lasting just one minute during a hearing called by the opposition to discuss the government’s conduct.

Israeli start-up caught up in Zimbabwe election controversy
Yaniv Magal and Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 4/3/2008
Cogniview CEO Yoav Ezer: This story could have only been more fictional if we were accused of using alien technology. What is needed to preserve the dictatorial rule of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe? According to the country’s opposition, a ruthless ruler, stalwart soldiers and Israeli software. Zimbabwe held parliamentary and presidential elections this week. Mugabe, who has ruled the country since independence in 1980 is facing strong opposition after leading the country to economic ruin in recent years. The country’s opposition and foreign election supervisors claim that the Mugabe and his supporters had no intention of holding a free and fair election, and that they are using the software of an Israeli start-up Cogniview Ltd. , which can alter pdf files to update voter registration lists to meet ZANU’s needs.

Jewish leader calls Evangelists ’extremists’
Associated Press, YNetNews 4/3/2008
Leader of Reform Judaism in US Eric Yoffie says movement mustn’t work with Christian Zionist pastor John Hagee because latter rejects Israeli land concessions to achieve peace with Palestinians, disparages other religions - The leader of the largest branch of American Judaism said Wednesday that synagogues in the movement shouldn’t work with the Rev. John Hagee, a Christian Zionist, calling him an "extremist" on Israeli policy who disparages other faiths. Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the liberal Union for Reform Judaism, said Hagee and his group, Christians United For Israel, reject any Israeli land concessions to achieve peace with the Palestinians. Reform Judaism supports creating a Palestinian state; Hagee sees a biblical mandate for the territory so End Times prophecy can be fulfilled.

Egypt opens Gaza crossing for 1 day
ASSOCIATED PRESS, Jerusalem Post 4/1/2008
RAFAH, Egypt - Egyptian authorities opened Rafah terminal on Egypt-Gaza border for a single day on Tuesday to let around 350 Egyptians stuck in Gaza Strip for the past two months to return home, a security official said. According to the official, the stranded Egyptians crossed into Gaza when Hamas blew up parts of the border wall in January letting hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to cross into Egypt to shop food and commodities before the barrier was resealed 12 days later. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. Hamas officials described the movement of Egyptians through the crossing as "smooth" and that family members with Palestinian papers and residency in Egypt stayed behind.

Independent PA panel: Hamas man ’tortured to death’ in custody
Reuters, Ha’aretz 4/3/2008
Palestinian lawmakers probing the death in custody of a preacher from theIslamist Hamas movement said on Thursday he had been "tortured to death" by security men loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas. A self-appointed investigation team comprising six independent lawmakers determined thatMajd al-Barghouthi died as a result of torture and said the head of the Fatah-run intelligence services, Tawfiq Tirawi, should be held to account. Another commission which Abbas appointed in late February to investigate the matter has not yet delivered its verdict, although a pathologist working on behalf of Fatah said he had not found signs of torture on Barghouthi’s body. Independent lawmaker Hassan Khreisheh, a member of the investigating commission, said it had observed "torture marks" on the legs, back and arms of the 45-year-old. . .

PA May Holds Election by Year’s End, Source Says
Ali Waked, MIFTAH 4/3/2008
"The organizations must be at the heightened state of alert, so that the Israelis won’t be able to say that there is no one to deliver the authority to. There will be a new elected government and professional organizations capable of enforcing order and security in the West Bank," the source said. He added that the PA had briefed the Americans on the plan and that the latter tend to support it. Some of Abbas’ associates have reservations over the election idea, claiming that this would deepen the rift between the West Bank and Gaza. According to one of the aides, "If Hamas fails to go back on the coup, the president will have no choice but to declare presidential and Legislative Council elections in the West Bank, so that the Israelis stop arguing that there is no one to sign an agreement with, and so that the situation in Gaza does not play into the hands of the Israelis wishing to evade an agreement. "

Caretaker government to dock pay of striking teachers
Ma’an News Agency 4/3/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Palestinian caretaker cabinet held a session on Thursday in Ramallah in the central West Bank to discuss the ongoing teachers’ strike. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad tolld a press conference after the meeting that the Cabinet have decided not to pay teachers’ salaries for the says they are on strike. He also said the minister of education Lamis Al-Alami will take the necessary measures to make up for classes the students have missed due to the teachers’ strike, pointing out that the strike will affect more than 530,000 students in the West Bank. Fayyad went on to explain that the Cabinet asked Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to issue a presidential decree allowing anyone who suffers as a result of the strike to start a legal proceedings to stop the strike. At the beginnning of March the Palestinian Teachers Union announced a series of strikes.

Barak: Israel needs young people willing to protect it
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 4/4/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday that Israel is doing "everything possible" to ensure the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldiers Gilad Shalit, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, Israel Radio reported. However, in his address to Tel Aviv school pupils, Barak added that a state’s independence is only assured if it is prepared to protect it. For this the state need young people who are willing to do so - even if the price is heavy, said the Defense Minister. Israel Radio reported that Barak continued on to say Russian immigration has contributed much to the IDF’s combat units. Touching on the security situation in the south of Israel, the defense minister stressed that in last month’s shooting attack at the Mercaz Harav yeshivamore people were killed than were over the past four years in the rocket-battered town of Sderot.

Army probes burning of Israeli flag in IDF’s Officers’ Training School
Jerusalem Post 4/4/2008
Military police have opened an investigation into the burning of an Israeli flag in the IDF’s Officers’ Training School (Bahad 1) earlier this week, Army Radio reported Thursday overnight. Army officials suspected the culprits may not have been cadets, but soldiers serving in the base: A number of soldiers were sentenced to prison time and confinement this week after being caught with alcohol. The officials believed the burning of the flag may have been an act of retribution by those soldiers’ comrades. [end]

VIDEO - Religious tempers flare over court ruling on sale of hametz
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 4/4/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 news roundup for April 3, 2008. Religious politicians are furious after a Jerusalem court permits the sale of hametz during Passover. Israel Defense Forces troops kill three Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. Jerusalem and Damascus attempt to diffuse speculations of heightened tension. [end]

Olmert gives one-minute speech at Knesset hearing on government
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 4/3/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made a speech Wednesday lasting just one minute during a hearing called by the opposition to discuss the government’s conduct. The brief address was condemned by Likud MK Gilad Erdan, who said it displayed contempt for the public. Olmert said in the minute-long speech that the cabinet was working toward achieving peace with the Palestinians and toward improving the security and welfare of Israel’s citizens. "The opposition’s job in every part of the world is to be an alternative to the ruling party," he said, "still, I grew up in this house and I have never witnessed such an amorphous and purposeless hearing, which has nothing but to harm the Knesset and its status. " A majority of 56 MKs voted in favor of his message, while 40 opposed it.

Labor, lost
Israel Harel, Ha’aretz 4/3/2008
Labor is disappointed with Ehud Barak. He is a master wheeler-dealer, Amir Peretz claims. He is disconnected, laments Benjamin Ben-Eliezer. He has learned nothing, he hasn’t changed, yells Yoram Marciano. His main goal, Peretz charges, is to become prime minister. His main flaw, everyone agrees, is that he has no agenda. Most of these shortcomings would have been forgiven or become a leader’s advantages, had Labor enjoyed public support. The primary reason why the public no longer stands behind Labor is not (only) the flaws of either Barak or his critics. After all, their own private and public conduct is no secret, and they are no more talented or charismatic than the man they now openly assail. Amram Mitzna, a former Labor chairman, was criticized for having the opposite traits: He lacked the ability to wheel and deal, vital for running. . .

Peretz offers conciliatory hand to Barak amid recent infighting
Mazal Mualem and Yuval Azoulay and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 4/3/2008
Former chairman of the Labor Party Amir Peretz (Labor) on Wednesday reached out a conciliatory hand to current Labor Party chair and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, offering to work closely with him if he abandons his personal political agenda. "If you are serious about working for the future of Israel, then we will work together with you," Peretz said, adding "if you are only serving your own interests, then we are not with you. " Peretz’s statements, which were made to a group of party activists during a celebration held in honor of the upcoming Passover holiday, came against the backdrop of recent tension between the two Labor party MKs. The pre-Passover celebration was also attended by Labor MKs Rhaleb Majadele, Yoram Marciano, and Ephraim Sneh. During the festivities, Marciano called on Barak to "put the gloves back on and meet with Peretz.

MK Eldad: Olmert is running the country like a crime boss
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 4/3/2008
MK Arieh Eldad (National Union-National Religious Party) on Wednesday criticized Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, saying that the only reason he has been able to gain power was his corrupt manner of rule. Responding to a Channel 2 report earlier Wednesday on new evidence suggesting Olmert’s cronyism while he was serving as Industry, Trade and Labor Minister, Eldad said "He who doesn’t understand the secret to Olmert’s survival learned tonight how he turned his public service into a goldmine of political appointments and a job making market. ""Olmert surrounded himself with a network of partners in crime and he runs the country as though her were a crime boss," Eldad said. "If [Attorney General Menachem] Mazuz continues to drag his feet on the investigation against the prime minister, he will eventually admit that his own appointment was a product of the same scheme.

E-mails show Olmert’s adviser arranged jobs for cronies
Guy Leshem, Ha’aretz 4/3/2008
Police investigators working on suspicions about appointments to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism have obtained e-mail correspondence from the computer used by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s bureau chief, Shula Zaken, according to Channel 2 News yesterday. The e-mails include clear evidence that Oved Yehezkel, Olmert’s senior consultant during his tenure at the ministry and the current cabinet secretary, arranged for appointments to ministerial posts and also at smaller, subordinate bodies such as the Small Businesses Authority and the Employment Service. According to information revealed yesterday by Guy Peleg on Channel 2 news, Yehezkel arranged for the appointment of Olmert’s crony, deputy mayor of Jerusalem Zion Turjeman, to the post of deputy director general of the Employment Service. The correspondence also purportedly shows it was Yehezkel who ordered the Small Businesses Authority to hire Likud party activist Yitzhak Michaeli.

New anti-drug campaign equates smoking pot with terrorism
Haaretz Staff, Ha’aretz 4/4/2008
Israel’s Anti-Drug Authority has launched a new campaign featuring Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, aimed at deterring Israelis from smoking marijuana. As part of the campaign, the authority has published a poster showing the Hezbollah leader emerging genie-like from a bong (a waterpipe commonly used for smoking marijuana and hashish). Underneath the image, the poster reads: "Hezbollah is clearly planning to flood Israel with narcotics. Narcotics pose a strategic threat to Israeli society. Whoever uses narcotics is giving a hand to the next terrorist attack. "The Israeli media last week quoted senior Israeli security sources as saying that Hezbollah is planning to flood Israel with drugs in an effort to harm its citizens. Police and IDF troops on the same day stopped the largest shipment of pure heroin ever to be intercepted on Israel’s border with Lebanon, a total of 32.

Knesset rejects bill granting tax breaks to working mothers
Zvi Zarhiya, Ha’aretz 4/2/2008
The Knesset plenum on Wednesday voted against a bill in its first hearing that would grant tax breaks for working mothers. A majority of 50 MKs rejected the bill, while 45 voted for the proposal. The governmental coalition joined forces in order to topple the bill because of its high costs, estimated at a few billion NIS. The bill was initiated by MK Gideon Sa’ar (Likud), MK Zehava Gal-On (Meretz), MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima), MK Orit Shaked (Labor) and MK Uri Ariel (NRP). A main opponent of the bill was Knesset liaison minister, MK Ruhama Avraham Balila (Kadima), who filed the bill along with MK Sa’ar, but erased her name from the bill after she appointed minister, as ministers are not allowed to file private bills. Other opponents were Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Education Minister Yuli Tamir, Knesset. . .

Cabinet approves large-scale emergency army drill next week
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 4/2/2008
The security sabinet on Wednesday approved plans for a large-scale emergency drill scheduled to take place next week across the country. The drill will include all the government ministries, the Israel Defense Forces, local authorities and educational facilities. The drill will simulate a war-time attack on civilians. It will be the largest drill in the past few years and ten of thousands of people are expected to participate, whether in the field or in special war rooms. The drill will begin on Sunday with a special government meeting. On Monday, a cabinet meeting will simulate a situation in which Israel is at war. On Tuesday, an emergency siren will be heard all over the country as local authorities and the Home Front Command will simulate missile strikes through out the nation.

’Least prepared for chemical attack we’ve been in 20 years’
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 4/1/2008
Defense Ministry, National Emergency Administration to upgrade atomic, biological, chemical protection kits; MK Steinitz warns redistribution plan lacks deadlines, endangers public - "The cabinet’s decision to upgrade the kits without clearly setting any deadlines is a farce that repeats all the mistakes made in the neglect of the home front during the Second Lebanon War. I can already see the committee of inquiry into the next war, and it will be far worse than Winograd," MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said on Wednesday. The defense establishment announced earlier in the day that the atomic, biological, and chemical protection kits recently collected from the public will be upgraded and redistributed. The decision to redistribute the kits was made by the Defense Ministry, in view of the recent ground-to-ground missile threats made evident against

National Insurance Institute rejects plan to take over school fee payments
Or Kashti, Ha’aretz 4/1/2008
The National Insurance Institute on Tuesday rejected Education Minister Yuli Tamir’s proposal to make it responsible for school fee paymentswhich parents currently pay directly to schools themselves. Tamir proposed that the NII would implement and control a payment plan for monthly school fees based on parents’ financial means and number of children, rather than paying schools a fixed rate. The current system has drawn sharp public criticism in the past as it does not allow the Education Ministry to track around NIS 1. 5 billion paid by parents per year. It also cannot prevent schools from overcharging or disadvantaging pupils whose parents cannot pay due to financial difficulties. NII sources said such a change would require the implementation of an entirely new payments system and increased human resources, which would cost tens of millions of shekels.

T.A. film festival tackles Israel’s hardest issues from war to polygamy
Reuters, Ha’aretz 4/4/2008
From one soldier’s account of the Lebanon war to the tale of an Israeli African prince, a Tel Aviv film festival is looking beyond political conflict to examine broader issues of strife and identity in Israel. "People associate Israel with hardcore news, with fighting and conflict," said Ilana Tzur, the event’s director. "But it’s important to see there’s such a wide range of other facets to life. " The films at Tel Aviv’s 10th international documentary film festival, which opens on Thursday, tackle meaty political themes such as Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians and its 2006 war against Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon. But they also examine private and cultural struggle in a young country, Israel turns 60 next month, where a Russian Holocaust survivor and an Ethiopian Jew, or an ultra-Orthodox family and a secular singleton might live as neighbors.

Levy’s choice
Meron Rapoport, Ha’aretz 4/3/2008
Two weeks after the start of the Second Lebanon War, Yariv Mozer, 30, owner of a production company in civilian life and a munitions officer in the reserves, received a telephone call from the commander of his artillery battalion. Mozer’s battalion was part of Central Command and so was not called up, but his commander had a request. The munitions officer in a reserve battalion in Northern Command had gone into shock after a barrage of Hezbollah rockets landed on his unit. Perhaps Mozer could come to replace him? Mozer agreed, without a call-up notice - basically, as a volunteer. He packed his things and headed north. At the last minute, he also took his video camera. And thus was born the film "My First War" ("Hamilhama Harishona Sheli" - produced and edited by Yael Perlov, with support from Noga Communications, the Rabinowitz Foundation and Arte/ZDF), which will be screened next week at the DocAviv Festival.

State helpless in face of skeletons in haredi closet
Yael Branovsky, YNetNews 4/3/2008
In spite of efforts by welfare officials, local rabbis, state authorities are unable to curb rampant child abuse in ultra-Orthodox families - One harrowing case after another, yet welfare officials stand by helpless: Faced with a string of heart wrenching cases of child abuse in the haredi community, even state officials now concede that they have only been able to reach this closed community on rare occasions, and often too late. One recent, disturbing case, for instance, in which a Netivot mother had sexually abused her son, only came to light when the son began to attend boarding school and molested a fellow pupil. The social workers who handled his case quickly realized that the child had no idea that what he was doing was wrong. Dalia Lev-Sade, director of community services at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, stated in an interview with Ynet that seeing as the haredi community is so sequestered, haredi children enjoy less exposure to societal conventions of right and wrong.

Mitzvah, not murder
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 4/3/2008
One of the strangest experiments ever conducted at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem took place in January 1992, when a pregnant sheep was anesthetized and connected to life-support machines. Its brain was removed, but the machines kept the sheep’s other organs functioning. Three hours later, the rest of its head was removed and, half an hour after that, physicians performed a Caesarean section on the ewe. A healthy, newborn lamb emerged and began walking around unassisted within a short while. The experiment aroused worldwide attention and Israeli experts in medicine and halakha (Jewish law) visited the laboratory to monitor the procedure. Why did the sheep have to be decapitated? The experiment was one of the local medical establishment’s desperate attempts to persuade two ultra- Orthodox rabbinical authorities, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and. . .

Photostory: The month in pictures, March 2008
Slideshow, Electronic Intifada 4/2/2008
The above slideshow is a selection of images from the month of March 2008. The month in pictures is an ongoing feature of The Electronic Intifada. If you have images documenting Palestine, Palestinian life, politics and culture, or of solidarity with Palestine, please email images and captions to photos A T electronicintifada D O T net. [end]

Two Schools in Nablus
Al Jazeera 4/1/2008
Filmmakers: Tom Evans and George Azar - Teachers working for months without pay, a chronic overcrowding in the classrooms, and students at risk each day from imprisonment and perhaps worse - welcome to the typical education experience in a Palestinian school. Witness presents a series of three films taking a close look at the extraordinary difficulties and challenges that two ordinary Palestinian schools face. While poverty is widespread throughout the West Bank and Gaza, Nablus is one of the worst-hit areas because of the decreasing range of employers and the limited number of opportunities. Hobbled by the Palestinians’ diminishing purchasing power and by Israeli security closures that have isolated Nablus and its merchants from the rest of the West Bank, hundreds of employees have been fired this year alone.

The right to hike
Zafrir Rinat, Ha’aretz 4/3/2008
Until now it has been difficult for an Israeli to imagine what a Palestinian feels as he walks the land, and isn’t busy musing about its political or nationalist nature. Writer and author Raja Shehadeh has written a book called "Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape. "The book, published last year in English by Profile Books, entranced a BBC correspondent who recently described how he set out one broiling-hot summer’s day for a walk along one of the routes Shehadeh describes. The six routes - or, more precisely, rambles - that Shehadeh documents in the book cover several decades. The walks are short, because the landscape he holds dearest is the hills surrounding his city, Ramallah. The land is shrinking as the Israeli occupation expands Jewish settlements, builds higher walls and erects more barriers, and as the violent struggle between. . .

Amid Israeli Siege, Palestinian Businesses Look East to China
Reuters, MIFTAH 4/3/2008
Faced with Israeli trade and travel restrictions, a stagnant economy and a flood of cheap imports from Asia, Palestinian businessmen are increasingly seeking their fortunes in China. Demand for Chinese visas among Palestinian business owners in the West Bank is so high that the Chinese consul regularly visits the city of Hebron to stamp their passports and circumvent an Israeli ban that prevents them from traveling to the embassy in Tel Aviv. " Everybody is doing business in China," Khaled Oseily, businessman and mayor of Hebron, told Reuters. "The Chinese consul comes to Hebron and on one day issued some 600 to 700 visas to Hebronite businessmen. " China began to open up its economy around 30 years ago, using cheap labour to produce and export huge volumes of inexpensive goods that have undercut local industries in many developing countries.

Expired food products seized in the West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 4/3/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – The Palestinian customs services in the northern West Bank city of Jenin seized more than five tons of expired food products, sources told Ma’an’s reporter on Wednesday evening. Ziad Al-As’ad, head of the consumer protection department in Jenin said that his department along with customs services discovered 4. 5 tons of expired food products (pickles, chocolates, dates and cornflakes) at a company in Jenin. The foodstuff has been seized and the owner of the company has been summoned for interrogation. Imad Abu Tabikh, the director of office of the Palestinian ministry of economy in Jenin said the company owner was preparing to send the products back to the Israeli company where he bought them because they were past their sell-by date.

Palestinian Authority signs deal with Nortel
Efrat Perez-Harpaz, Globes Online 4/3/2008
The company will set up a VoIP network enabling low-cost international calls for Palestine Telecommunication Company (PalTel). Canadian telecommunications solutions company Nortel Networks (NYSE; TSX: NT) has signed an agreement to build a VoIP network for low-cost international calls for the Palestinian Authority’s telecommunications carrier Palestine Telecommunication Company (PalTel). Market sources estimate the value of the deal at $10 million. Nortel said in its announcement that the new services were made possible through PalTel’s agreement with Nortel to supply technology that supports international VoIP and hosted SIP services. The agreement also includes network maintenance from the Nortel’s Global Services Portfolio. The two companies have been collaborating since 1995, with the latest contract with PalTel representing an upgrade to PalTel’s SDH network backbone with. . .

New York conference focuses on Israeli outsourcing opportunities
Ran Dagoni, Washington, Globes Online 4/3/2008
The outsourcing market could create thousands of local jobs. Many US corporations are beginning to rethink the advantages of outsourcing call centers services for their customers. Does the lower labor cost overseas really justify the erosion in the company’s reputation among its domestic customers who may not be satisfied with the process or results of the interaction with those employees? The US market is beginning to develop an appetite for alternatives. Companies are seeking a new India - countries that can provide high-quality outsourcing services at low cost. Israel is trying to fill this new need. The outsourcing market could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue and create thousands of local jobs. On this assumption, the first conference of its kind was held in Manhattan yesterday with the goal of alerting the US business community that Israel is an. . .

Consumer Confidence Index falls again
Globes Online 4/3/2008
The public is increasingly pessimistic about the economy and jobs. Israel’s Consumer Confidence Index fell during the first quarter of 2008. The index fell by 3. 4 points in March after falling 3. 1 points in February, to reach 78. 6 points. The main reason for the drop in index last month was the public’s increasingly bleak assessment about the current economic situation and its prognosis for the future. The Consumer Confidence Index, compiled by Globes Research and Kesselman and Kesselman - PricewaterhouseCoopers Israel, began to reflect the public’s growing pessimism in the third quarter of 2007. The public was worried about the slowing economic growth even before the publication of fairly pessimistic growth forecasts for 2008 due to the global financial crisis. The public’s pessimism has intensified in the past two months, especially regarding the future of the economy.

Rabbis increase pressure on Alon
Ilanit Hayut, Globes Online 4/3/2008
A boycott call may be joined by removal of a kosher supervision certification at Shefa Shuk. The dispute between Alon Israel Oil Company Ltd. and the haredi (ultra-orthodox) community is intensifying. Sources inform ’’Globes’’ that the Edah Haredit communal organization is joining the official ban against the company being organized by rabbinical leaders, and that official contacts between the company and the haredi community have been suspended altogether. The Edah Haredit has decided that if an official ban is announced, it will remove its Badatz kosher certifications for the fruits and vegetables at Alon Group’s supermarket chain Shefa Shuk. The manager of the kosher certification committee of the Edah Haredit, Rabbi Gavriel Poppenheim, told "Globes" today, "The moment that the rabbis will go against something, Edah Haredit will join them.

Bank of Israel bought $600 million to prop up Dollar
Zvi Zrahiya, Ha’aretz 4/3/2008
The Bank of Israel said Wednesday that it purchased a total of $600million on the foreign exchange market over a 2-day period last month, in order to prop up the plunging U. S. Dollar against the New Israeli Shekel. Following the purchases on March 13-14, the central bank announced that Israel’s foreign currency reserves totaled $29. 415 billion - an increase of $930 million. The move surprised almost everyone in the financial markets given that Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer and the bank’s foreign currency department head, Barry Topf, had previously said it was unlikely that the central bank would intervene, and would only do so if there was a market failure. The Bank of Israel also announced plans to buy $10 billion over the next two years, in daily installments of $25 million.

IMI unit in US aircraft deal
Yael Gross-Englander, Globes Online 4/3/2008
The contract is through Ashot Ashkelon. Israel Military Industries Ltd. (IMI) subsidiary Ashot Ashkelon Industries Ltd. (TASE: ASHO ) has renewed its contract to supply electromechanical systems and stabilizers to a US aviation company. The current contract expires in December, and the new contract, worth $28 million, will be in effect in 2009-12. Ashot Ashkelon’s aviation products include trailing flap gear boxes, accessory gearboxes for turbine engines, and main drive transmissions. The company won a number of orders last year, including a $46 million contract for transmissions. The company has 700 employees. The privatization of the company was cancelled in December, and it not clear if or when it will be renewed.

Be smart, work hard - and be born into the right family
Rotem Starkman and Anat Georgi, Ha’aretz 4/3/2008
In the past month, the economic sections of the press have been filled with quotes from businessmen and tycoons talking about the great opportunities created by the current financial crisis in the United States - a crisis that may eventually spread outside that country. When Eyal Ofer analyzes the economic situation, it seems, he is not particularly concerned with calming down either the markets or his own bankers. That may be why his predictions are pessimistic. Ofer has never given interviews to the media - not in Israel, not in London, where he lives, and not in the U. S. or China, where he does business. The Ofer family does not like the media very much. As a one-time favor, he agreed to give us "only three minutes. "

Tel Aviv 25 CEOs paid 189 times minimum wage
Tali Tsipori, Globes Online 4/2/2008
The salary of a Tel Aviv 25-listed company CEO has almost tripled in 14 years. The average salary cost of the CEO of a Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE)-listed company was NIS 2. 34 million in 2007. On a monthly basis, the average cost was NIS 195,000, or NIS 68,000, representing an 8. 3% rise in real terms over 2006. The average salary of a manager in a public company has risen by 114% in the 14 years since 1994 when it was NIS 1. 09 million, or NIS 90,000 a month. The average annual salary cost of a CEO of Tel Aviv 100 company (the 100 largest companies in terms of market cap) totaled NIS 5. 22 million in 2007, or NIS 435,000 a month, and NIS 152,000 net. This was 13% lower than in 2006, afterDelek Israel Fuel Corporation Ltd. (TASE:DLKIS ), which produced the top earner for 2007, was dropped from the index.

Fischer: Israel’s growth to slow in 2008 due to global slump
Moti Bassok and Meirav Arlosoroff, Ha’aretz 4/1/2008
Israel’s central bank on Tuesday forecast the country’s 2008 economic growth at 3. 2 percent, compared to 5. 3 percent in 2007, but officials said they did not see the country entering a recession. Presenting the Bank of Israel’s 2007 report, U. S. -trained governor Stanley Fischer told reporters that the fall was due to the general sluggishness of world economies, particularly that of the United States. "The Israeli economy is dealing in the current period with a very complex situation," Fischer said. "There is no doubt that the Israeli market will be affected by the slowdown in world growth. " An extract of the report published by the bank said a budget deficit of 1. 5 percent of gross domestic product was foreseen for 2008, compared to the balanced budget of 2007.

Maliki warns crackdown on Shiite militias will continue
Ammar Karim, Daily Star 4/4/2008
Agence France Presse - BAGHDAD: Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Thursday said he planned to launch more crackdowns on militiamen as hard-line Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for a massive anti-US protest next week. Maliki said future assaults by government forces could not be ruled out after last week’s crackdown in Baghdad and the southern city of Basra, which mostly targeted fighters of Sadr’s Mehdi Army militia. "I expect more crackdowns like this. We do not negotiate with outlaws," Maliki told a news conference in the capital’s heavily fortified Green Zone. "The coming days will witness more assaults as people are still in the control of gangs," he said, naming areas such as Shuala, Sadr City and Ameriyya in Baghdad as possible targets of military operations. Shuala and Sadr City are bastions of Sadr loyalists while Ameriyya used to be a stronghold of Sunni insurgents.

Iran links up more centrifuges as it continues nuclear program
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 4/4/2008
Iran has assembled hundreds of advanced machines in a possible indication that it aims to speed up uranium enrichment - a process that can produce both fuel for power plants and the fissile core of nuclear warheads, diplomats have told The Associated Press. One of the diplomats said more than 300 of the centrifuges have been linked up in two separate units in Iran’s underground enrichment plant in the town of Natanz and a third was being assembled. The diplomat said the machines appeared to be more advanced than the thousands already set up and running underground, suggesting they could be the sophisticated IR-2 centrifuge that Tehran has recently acknowledged testing. But a senior diplomat said that, while the new work appeared to include advanced centrifuges, they were not IR-2s.

BBC Poll: Iran Only Country Viewed more Negatively than Israel
Haaretz, MIFTAH 4/3/2008
Israel is viewed as the country with the second most negative influence on the world, according to a poll released recently by the BBC World Service. Iran was considered to have the most negative influence, ranked lowest in world opinion at 54 percent - the same ranking it was given in a poll taken last year. Israel’s negative rating dropped this year from 57 percent to 52 percent, moving it from having the worst influence in world opinion to second most negative. Pakistan was rated the country with the third most negative influence in the world. The survey also found that world opinion of the United States has risen, with 35 percent of respondents finding it to have a positive influence, compared to 31 percent in the last poll. According to the poll, Germany was considered to have the best influence on the world, with a positive score of 56 percent and a negative score of 18 percent.

Sensing affront, Arabs seek to close Security Council doors
Shlomo Shamir, Ha’aretz 4/3/2008
NEW YORK - Arab diplomats in the United Nations are leading an initiative to get the UN Security Council to halt its practice of holding open sessions. Instead, all sessions would be held behind closed doors. A key Arab diplomat in the United Nations met a few days ago with the ambassador of one of the five permanent members of the Security Council to discuss the suggestion, which would keep sessions closed to the media as well as the general public. Reliable UN sources said the ambassador, considered one of the most influential in New York, promised the Arab leader to consider the move and bring it up for discussion with the other members of the Security Council. The Arab proposal was described on Tuesday as unusual and far-reaching. The Security Council is the only body in the UN whose decisions have practical significance and which has enforcement authority, including the right to use force.


Articles


"When I’m big will I go to jail like Daddy?"
Joy Ellison writing from al-Tuwani, occupied West Bank, Electronic Intifada 4/3/2008
      "Momma, when I’m big will I go to jail like Daddy?"
     That was little Adam’s question for his mother when I came to visit their house, just before leaving the village of al-Tuwani for a brief trip home to the United States. Adam is three years old. His mother tells me that he wants his father to come home from jail and bring him ice cream. "Adam is upset," she says. Looking at her eyes, I can tell that she is too. So am I.
     Adam’s father was arrested on 28 March, just a few days ago. A group of eight to ten Israeli settlers from Havot Ma’on, an illegal Israeli settlement outpost, came inside the village of al-Tuwani where they found Adam’s father and his grandfather. The settlers sprayed them with an aerosol substance, which I can only imagine was pepper spray. They hit Adam’s father in the eyes. Soon, the settlement guard arrived, a man everyone in al-Tuwani knows all too well. He was followed by the Israeli army and total chaos began to unfold. The settlement guard accused Adam’s father of breaking his sunglasses. While the settlers who attacked Adam’s father and grandfather stood by, Israeli police arrested Adam’s father. They didn’t listen to the Palestinians who witnessed the settler attack. They didn’t question the settlers. The police forced Adam’s father, still seriously injured, into a police van and took him away. There was nothing anyone could do.

Shedding the Mentality of the Occupied

Joharah Baker, MIFTAH 4/3/2008
      Why is it that when a Palestinian motorist approaches a checkpoint, he or she instinctively slows down, rolls down the window and reaches into their pocket to pull out their ID card even before the Israeli soldier hails for the car to stop? And why do Palestinians know to immediately open their suitcases at the airport the moment an Israeli security official approaches them for questioning even before the actual request is made?
     This does not happen with non-Palestinians or even Palestinians abroad. This mentality only plagues those unfortunate enough to have spent the majority of their lives under the Israeli occupation and have, at some level, accepted the stigma of the occupied. And naturally, being the occupied rather than the occupier entails being delegated to the category of second and even third class citizen.
     This is not to say that the Palestinians are not acutely aware of their occupied status. The decades’ old Palestinian resistance movement is proof of their understanding that being an occupied people is less than an enviable position.However, a distinction should be made here between the political awareness of a national status and the state of being of the people who have grown accustomed to turning – albeit begrudgingly – to a hostile power in order that their everyday lives to proceed as smoothly as possible.

Aftermath of operation ’warm winter’: the tragic story of a boy in Gaza

Defence for Children International - Palestine Section, Palestine Monitor 4/3/2008
      Ahmad, nicknamed "Misho", is 16 years old and lives in Block 2 of Jabalia Camp in the North of the Gaza Strip. On 1st March, during the recent Israeli military operation codenamed "Warm Winter", he was seriously injured by shrapnel from a missile launched by Israeli tanks invading northern Gaza. For two weeks Misho was thought dead, as his identity was tragically mistaken for that of his friend Mohammad, killed in the same missile attack. He was lying in Al Shifa’ hospital, his body so wounded that everyone failed to identify him and his parents assumed he had been killed. Misho is alive, and has been reunited with his parents, but he is in need of specialised medical assistance. He has been referred to receive professional medical support abroad, as the damage to his brain and spine has hampered his ability to speak and he is paralysed on the right side. Gaza’s hospitals, affected by the Israeli imposed blockade, are not sufficiently equipped to support his rehabilitation and the Palestinian Ministry of Health cannot fully fund the treatment needed for his recovery.
     For this reason, DCI/PS appeals to its partners and to all concerned to help Misho receive appropriate medical assistance. Through this article, we urge organisations willing and able to facilitate Misho’s treatment to get in touch with DCI/PS.

Gaza patients die as Israel denies treatment

Report, IRIN, Electronic Intifada 4/3/2008
      JERUSALEM, 1 April (IRIN) - "Tragedies that could and should have been avoided," was how Ambrogio Manenti, head of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Jerusalem, described the cases of Palestinian patients who died while awaiting medical treatment outside the Gaza Strip.
     A new report by the WHO on 1 April describes in detail five cases of patients who died either while awaiting an Israeli permit to exit the enclave or after having been denied one. Another 27 cases of patients unable to receive specialized care outside Gaza are also documented in the booklet.
     Manenti chose to read to reporters the case of Amir al-Yazji, aged nine, who died from meningoencephalitis -- an inflammation of the brain and central nervous system -- while waiting.
     However, the reasons for the lack of access to treatment go beyond just the Israeli permit system, the WHO said.
     Strikes in recent years in the health sector; Israeli restrictions on imports to Gaza affecting the ability of the medical sector to bring in spare parts, medicines and other items; and the Islamist Hamas’s takeover of Gaza which affected coordination efforts -- all come on top of a pre-existing need in the occupied Palestinian territory to refer patients abroad for tertiary care, as in many cases the treatments are not available locally.

Tiny Party Shows Large Clout on Settlements

Griff Witte, MIFTAH 4/3/2008
      Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice left Israel on Monday having failed to persuade leaders here to halt settlement construction on occupied Palestinian land. But the setback for Rice was a victory for Rabbi Ovadia Yossef, the spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party.
     Within hours of Rice’s departure, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was on the phone with Yossef to tell him that plans for building 800 new homes in the West Bank settlement of Betar Illit had been approved, according to two Shas officials, just as Shas had requested.
     The episode illustrates the extent of the small party’s influence over U.S. efforts to negotiate a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
     Shas is the linchpin of Olmert’s fragile coalition government. Party leaders have threatened to withdraw their support for Olmert if he freezes settlement construction or if the issue of Jerusalem even comes up in the negotiations.
     The threat has put greater pressure on a process that is already faltering. Israeli political analysts say Olmert may face a choice later this year: He can have a peace deal or he can hold his coalition together, but not both.

Rice Misses the Obvious in Peace-Making

Rami Khouri, MIFTAH 4/3/2008
      It is hard to tell if US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is being deliberately innocent and juvenile, or, as the highest American foreign policy official, she is genetically incapable of being honest when it comes to Palestinian-Israeli issues. There is now only one real test of progress, or criterion of political seriousness, in the Arab-Israeli conflict in the short term: Can the United States make Israel stop expanding its settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories? If not, talk of peace is a cruel hoax that will only raise and then dash expectations, leading to unknown consequences when the backlash occurs.
     Continued Israeli settlement in occupied Palestinian land is the single most destructive and dangerous reflection of the long-running Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It captures in a single dynamic the predatory nature of Zionist aims, the conquest and settlement of Arab land by Israelis, and the continued dispersal and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. If peace-making is to have any chance of success, Israeli colonization of Arab lands must be halted and then largely reversed under final-status agreements.

’Marching toward total ruin’

Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 4/3/2008
      JENIN - "When you see Zakariya, maybe you’ll be surprised, but he looks like just any other Palestinian man now. Without armed men, without a weapon, just an ordinary guy," related an acquaintance of Zakariya Zubeidi, until not long ago the commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades in Jenin.
     ....Why haven’t you received a pardon?
     They lied to us, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The PA promised us that after we spent three months in PA facilities and if we didn’t get involved in actions, we would receive a pardon. The three months ended and nothing happened. We still need to sleep at the headquarters of the security organizations. They promised us jobs and they haven’t materialized either. Some of us are getting a salary of NIS 1,050 a month. What can you do with that? Buy Bamba for your children? They lied to everyone, they made a distinction between those who were really in the Al-Aqsa Brigades, whom they screwed, and groups that called themselves by that name, but in fact were working on behalf of the PA.

A Fundamental Misconception

Safwat Kahlout, MIFTAH 4/2/2008
      Ever since Hamas overwhelmingly won parliamentary elections in 2006, the international community has been trying to reverse a result that neither it nor Hamas expected.
     At first the international community, led by the US, tried to include Hamas in its designs for the region by offering it three conditions to enter the regional order. Once those were rejected, Washington instead opted to isolate Hamas and ignore the elections.
     Israel, happy to play along with this strategy, was given a free hand to escalate at will and tighten its closure on Gaza to undermine the already fragile economy there in an effort to bring Gazans into the streets against Hamas.
     The strategy had some initial success. Many voted for Hamas in the first place in order to punish Fateh for the corruption of preceding years. Once sanctions hit, people were heard to lament, "better to be led by the corrupt if they put bread on the table". But the fundamental perception remained the same: Hamas were clean and Fateh corrupt, and it is this fundamental perception that has lingered.

This ’bombshell’ took a year falling

Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, Electronic Intifada 4/2/2008
      A recent article in Vanity Fair magazine "exposing" a US-planned coup attempt against Palestinian resistance movement Hamas last year has ignited a storm of debate about Washington’s Middle East policies. Yet for more than nine months, details of the plot were reported in the independent Arabic press -- and elsewhere -- leading some observers to ask: where was the mainstream media?
     "From the very beginning, Hamas has publicly insisted that what happened in Gaza last year came in reaction to plans being hatched against it," Tarek Abd al-Gaber, former news correspondent for Egyptian state television covering Israel and the Palestinian territories, told IPS.
     Hamas has been widely blamed in much of the mainstream media for carrying out a "violent coup" against the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the Gaza Strip last summer. After six days of heavy fighting, Hamas wrested control of the territory from the government of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the US-backed Fatah movement, in mid-June.

The senator, his pastor and the Israel lobby

Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada 3/31/2008
      US senator Barack Obama was widely hailed for his 18 March speech calming the media furor about the sermons of his pastor for twenty years Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Wright’s remarks, Obama said, "expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country -- a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam."
     It might seem odd for Obama to mention Israel and "radical Islam" in a speech focused on US race relations, especially since Wright’s most widely reported comments were about America’s historic and ongoing oppression of its black citizens.
     But for months, even before most Americans had heard of Wright, prominent pro-Israel activists were hounding Obama over Wright’s views on Israel and ties to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. In January, Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), demanded that Obama denounce Farrakhan as an anti-Semite. The senator duly did so, but that was not enough. "[Obama has] distanced himself from his pastor’s decision to honor Farrakhan," Foxman said, but "He has not distanced himself from his pastor. I think that’s the next step." Foxman labeled Wright "a black racist," adding in the same breath, "Certainly he has very strong anti-Israel views" (Larry Cohler-Esses, "ADL Chief To Obama: ’Confront Your Pastor’ On Minister Farrakhan," The Jewish Week, 16 January 2008). Criticism of Israel, one suspects, is Wright’s truly unforgivable crime and Foxman’s vitriol has echoed through dozens of pro-Israel blogs.

Beware of Tampering with the Arab Peace Initiative

Tariq Alhomayed, MIFTAH 4/3/2008
      In its closing statement, the Damascus Summit called for the re-assessment of the peace strategy with Israel, furthermore setting the coming May as the latest deadline. This formula appears to be the middle ground in terms of the demands that were proposed during the summit with regards to the reconsideration of the Arab Peace Initiative.
     Doesn’t "reassessing the peace strategy" – if that may be deemed a diplomatic expression – imply that the other option is war? And which among the Arab states is ready to declare war on Israel today?
     The problem with this rhetoric is that it raises the expectations of Arab public opinion – however; it is not accompanied by any real action. Moreover, it grants Israel an opportunity it already wants; which is that the concerned parties cancel their initiative and spare Israel international embarrassment.

Seeing ghosts

Meron Rapoport, Ha’aretz 4/3/2008
      Author Alon Hilu remembers the moment when the Tel Aviv landscape changed before his eyes. "I was sitting in a cafe near Dizengoff Center, a totally Tel Aviv landscape, and suddenly I saw how this landscape could be different - orchards, an Arab landscape. Like a glimpse into the past." We are sitting in a Herzliya cafe, in a high-tech landscape. Hilu’s successful new book "The House of Dajani" (in Hebrew) takes place in Arab Jaffa just before the Jews established Tel Aviv and 50 years before the Arabs abandoned the orchards there. He continues: "A while later I was sitting with my wife in a cafe in the Tel Aviv port, and this past was haunting me, like a ghost. I thought that I could see before me the Muslim cemetery next to the sea, suddenly even the sea looked Arab to me; I don’t know how a sea can look Arab."
     Eshkol Nevo is the same age as Hilu, 36, and was a classmate of his at a Jerusalem school for a while. For him, the discovery of the Arab past of this country was slower and more incidental. When he began to write "Homesick," which became one of the biggest best-sellers of recent years, he knew that the story would take place in Maoz Zion, a small community near Jerusalem where he had lived in the past. Every time he drove to Jerusalem he stopped in Maoz Zion.

Returning to Nablus: Collateral damage

Alice Rothchild writing from Nablus, occupied West Bank, Electronic Intifada 4/2/2008
      Since 2003, a health and human rights project developed by members of Jewish Voice for Peace has organized yearly delegations to Israel and Palestine, joining with partners such as Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and Palestinian Medical Relief Society. We document conditions on the ground, bring our stories home, and work on moving the political conversation towards a change in US policy. We focus on issues related to the occupation, its impact on the civilian populations, and the consequences of Israeli incursions, restrictions of movement, and collective punishment. In mid-October 2007 our delegation visited an apartment in Nablus that was the site of an attack by Israeli soldiers days earlier. While we were aware that there are almost nightly Israeli incursions into Nablus, the reality was still jarring and painfully surreal. We walked past a dusty cement-mixer, through a gate and down cracked stone steps to reach the entry to the top floor of a five-story white stone house, built into the hilly landscape in the neighborhood of Ras al-Ein. Potted plants, shattered tiles, and glass were strewn along the path. Men lumbered by, cigarettes in hand, carrying panes to repair fractured windows and the air echoed with the sounds of hammering and electric machinery.
     The delegates were ushered into one apartment after another, richly upholstered living room furniture, formal dining room tables, long white draperies, decorative wooden head boards, posters in a child’s room, a blinking TV, now all splattered with bullet holes. The curtains were shredded and burned by gunfire, walls, floors, and ceilings fissured and pock-marked in every direction. In one apartment we were shown a neat pile of rocket parts, bullet casings, mortar shells, and empty flares, the English lettering clearly visible: "White Star Parachute." Later, a quick check on an internet weapons reference guide revealed that these flares as well as other munitions in the pile were made in the US. There was a sense of grim determination and horror in the faces of the people who belong to this place and everywhere, wide-eyed, terrified, crying children. One teenage boy played on his computer, seemingly oblivious to the destruction around him, American pop music drifting through the open rooms. On the first floor, we were told that a 70-year-old man had been shot and killed when he opened his door for the Israeli soldiers.