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

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9 April 2008


Brutal fighting throughout Gaza Strip, Israeli forces kill 7 Palestinians, including 3 children
Palestine News Network 4/9/2008
PNN - Israeli forces have been engaging in fighting with the armed resistance throughout the Gaza Strip since this morning. And by late afternoon the Israeli attacks had turned even worse with the killing of three children. It began when 23 year old Mohammad Shamiyah of Hamas’ Al Qassam Brigades was killed before dawn Wednesday near Al Qarrara Village, just north of Khan Younis. Another resistance member was injured during fighting that had Islamic Jihad’s resistance wing Saraya Al Quds working with Al Qassam. An Israeli soldier was also killed, and two injured according to an Israeli military statement. Later statements were also issued by the armed resistance groups who said, "Let this be a lesson to the occupation army. "On Wednesday Israeli forces killed two more members of the resistance near the Nahal Oz Commercial Crossing.

Palestinian militants kill Israeli civilians in Gaza attack
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 4/9/2008
Palestinian gunmen today attacked a fuel depot on the Gaza border, killing two Israeli civilian workers and injuring two others as militants fired waves of mortars at the crossing post. Israeli troops shot dead two of the attackers at the Nahal Oz fuel crossing, but two others fled back into Gaza. Israeli soldiers and tanks crossed into Gaza and at least six Palestinians were killed shortly afterwards in Israeli strikes. In another clash earlier in the day, an Israeli soldier and a Hamas militant were killed during an Israeli military raid into southern Gaza. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by two extremist groups, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees. However, the Israeli government said it held responsible the Hamas Islamist movement, which controls the Gaza Strip. The Hamas attack on the fuel terminal that supplies Gaza its energy shows their total and complete disregard for the civilian population of Gaza," said Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert.

Israeli forces seize 41 Palestinians in the West Bank in largest raids in months
Ma’an News Agency 4/9/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized 41 Palestinians during raids in the West Bank on Wednesday morning, Palestinian witnesses and security forces reported. Israeli troops detained 25 Palestinians in the city of Nablus in one of the largest arrest raids in months. Twenty-four of those arrestees were affiliated to Fatah, and one to Hamas, local sources said. Palestinian security sources told Ma’an’s reporter in Nablus that more than 30 Israeli military vehicles stormed Nablus and neighboring Askar refugee camp from the east and west at 2am. Israeli troops raided numerous Palestinian homes before seizing 25 young Palestinian men. In the village of Shawawra, east of Bethlehem, Israeli forces seized two men who Palestinian security forces say are Islamic Jihad activists. Separately, Israeli forces seized four Palestinians in the West Bank city of Qalqilia.

Israeli forces continue to use human shields in Nablus
Amin Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 4/9/2008
Nablus -- Israeli soldiers pounded on a family’s door at two o’clock in the morning. They demanded identification and then took two of the boys with them. The boys were held outside for half an hour in the cold of night, and then four from the family were arrested. The streets of the northern West Bank’s Nablus were filled with several families forced from their homes. The soldiers left at five, but not before using three people as "human shields," to walk in front of them during house to house raids. The use of "human shields" by the Israeli military is an ongoing issue as it has garnered international criticism and numerous field reports have been written by human rights organizations, including B’Tselem. The Israeli organization active in the field of Palestinian human rights, B’Tselem, is continuing to push forward their case against the Israeli military’s use of "human shields.

The impact of the blockade on children suffering from cancer diseases in the Gaza strip
Defence for Children International/Palestine Section, ReliefWeb 3/31/2008
This report highlights the impact of the blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza on the provision of health services in the Gaza Strip. In particular, it focuses on children suffering from cancer and blood diseases, and their inability to access life saving medicines and treatment inside or outside Gaza. Children have the right to enjoy "the highest attainable standard of health", as stated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which Israel, as the occupying power, has a duty to facilitate. However, the closing of almost all of Gaza’s border crossings constitutes a threat to the right of Palestinian children to receive appropriate medical treatment, and a direct threat to their right to life. Outline- Introduction: The Gaza blockade - The impact of the blockade on the health system - Children suffering from cancerous tumours and blood diseases in Gaza Al-Nasser. . .

Egyptian troops go on alert, fear new Hamas bid to breach Gaza border
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 4/10/2008
Egyptian troops went on alert Wednesday in the town of Rafah bordering Gaza, fearing Hamas militants may attempt to forcibly breach the border again, a security official said. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry warned Palestinians in Gaza that any attempts to infringe upon the Egyptian borders will be met with a serious and firm position. In January, Hamas militants frustrated over a tightened Israeli closure of Gaza blew holes in the border partition, allowing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to stream into Egypt unchecked for ten days and stock up on food and other goods made scarce by the blockade. The security official said about a thousand troops near Gaza were put on alert after Egypt received intelligence that Hamas militants were preparing to bulldoze the rebuilt border and blow up the main crossing gate with mines.

Gaza groups claim credit for Karni attack
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 4/10/2008
The Popular Resistance Committees, Islamic Jihad and Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades (a unit called the Mujahideen Brigades) took joint responsibility for yesterday’s shooting attack near the Karni border terminal and Kibbutz Nahal Oz, in which Palestinian infiltrators from the Gaza Strip killed two Israeli civilians at a fuel depot. Abu Mujahad, the spokesman for the PRC military wing, said yesterday that the attack was aimed at abducting Israeli soldiers and breaking the Gaza blockade. Islamic Jihad spokesman Abu Ahmed said the Palestinians who participated in the attack returned to Gaza, but a short time later he said two of them were killed during the attack. Hamas has not issued a public reaction to the attack. The Israel Defense Forces fired missiles at a Palestinian vehicle and a home in Gaza as part of its efforts to find the gunmen who fled the scene, killing four. . .

Hamas blamed after two Israelis killed at fuel depot
The Independent 4/9/2008
Two Israeli civilians were killed yesterday by Palestinian gunmen who managed to break through Gaza’s border fence in a daylight attack on the nearby main fuel depot of Nahal Oz. The attack threatened to presage a fresh outbreak of violence after the month of relative quiet in Gaza that followed the major Israeli incursion into the Jabalya district of northern Gaza that resulted in the deaths of 120 Palestinians. The Israeli military said it had shot dead two of the Palestinian attackers as they tried to flee back into Gaza. Two other militants escaped across the Strip’s eastern border. While responsibility for the attack was claimed by Islamic Jihad and two smaller factions -- the Popular Resistance Committees and the Mujahadeen Brigades -- the Israeli government was quick to lay the blame on Hamas, which has controlled the Strip since its enforced takeover in June.

IDF soldier killed, two wounded in southern Gaza Strip
Yuval Azoulay and Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 4/10/2008
An Israel Defense Forces soldier was killed and two others were lightly wounded Wednesday morning in clashes with Hamas gunmen in the southern Gaza StripAn IDF source said Wednesday that the soldier, 21-year-old Staff Sargeant Sayaf Bisan from the Druze village of Kfar Jat, was killed during a routine IDF operations against the Palestinian terror infrastructure. IDF troops shot and killed two militants during the exchange of gunfire. The wounded soldiers, from the Egoz reconnaissance unit of the Golani Infantry Brigade, were evacuated to Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva for treatment. Also on Wednesday, four mortar shells struck Kibbutz Ein Hasholsha in the western Negev near the border with the Gaza Strip. No damages or injuries were reported. On Tuesday, soldiers from the Givati Infantry Brigade and the Armored. . .

PA police and escaped Fatah militants clash in Nablus
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 4/10/2008
Gunfire erupted Wednesday night between the Palestinian police and a Fatah splinter group called "the Nightriders" in the West Bank town of Nablus. The group last week escaped from a Palestinian prison, where they had been kept under the terms of an agreement with Israel offering amnesty to wanted militants. Dozens of wanted militants in Jenin, meanwhile, were let out of Palestinian detention centers, where they had been kept as part of the deal. They claimed that the pardon they were expecting from Israel was notforthcoming and were released without weapons. [end]

Israeli air strike targets Nahal Oz "terrorists"
Ali Waked, YNetNews 4/9/2008
Army says strike in Gaza hit two gunmen involved in Nahal Oz attack; another air strike wounds three, among them Islamic Jihad members. IDF official says fuel terminal to remain closed in next few days - The IDF has launched a series of aerial strikes on the Gaza Strip Wednesday in retaliation for the "terror" attack at the Nahal Oz fuel terminal earlier in the day, which left two Israelis killed. The victims were identified as Oleg Lipson, 37-years old, and Lev Charniak, 53-years old; both from Beersheba. In one of the strikes, launched at around 9 pm, an army aircraft struck two of the "terrorists" who were involved in the deadly shooting. According to IDF and Shin Bet officials, one of the gunmen hit was a member of the cell that carried out the attack, while the other drove the terrorists’ getaway car.

Israel imposes additional checkpoints around Jerusalem due to bombing fears
Ma’an News Agency 4/9/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli military forces set up several new checkpoints, and intensified security at existing checkpoints around Jerusalem on Wednesday due to what Israeli sources say is evidence of a planned Palestinian bombing operation. Palestinian commuters told Ma’an that Israeli soldiers set up spontaneous checkpoints, known as "flying checkpoints," on main roads in Bethlehem, Hebron, and Beit Sahour. Palestinians reported long lines and intensive searches at the roadblocks. Israeli police have deployed extra forces near hospitals and government buildings in Jerusalem. According to the United Nations, Israel already maintains more than 550 checkpoints and other roadblocks in the occupied West Bank.

IOF troops round up 24 Palestinians in Nablus
Palestinian Information Center 4/9/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- Large numbers of IOF troops stormed the West Bank city of Nablus at dawn Wednesday and rounded up 24 Palestinians citizens from Jabal Shamali neighborhood, locals reported. The sources said that the soldiers broke into many civilians’ homes especially in Ein refugee camp and forced citizens out of their homes in Jabal Shamali area. The detained Palestinians included teens as well as men in their forties including brothers, the sources said, noting that the soldiers withdrew from the city after the kidnapping. In Jenin, IOF troops roamed the streets of the city amidst random shooting but no arrests were made. [end]

PFLP fighters ’launch projectile’ at Sderot
Ma’an News Agency 4/9/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, claimed responsibility for launching two homemade projectiles on Wednesday at the Israeli town of Sderot, bordering the Gaza Strip. The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades said that the attack was a response to Israel’s "crimes" against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. [end]

Palestinian security forces ’arrest’ three Hamas members
Ma’an News Agency 4/9/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Hamas accused Fatah-allied Palestinian security forces of arresting three Hamas supporters in the West Bank on Tuesday evening. Hamas said that the arrestees were from the cities of Hebron and Tulkarem. [end]

Press conference to protest against the Israeli closure of orphanges and schools in Hebron
International Solidarity Movement 4/9/2008
Hebron Region - March 7th, at approximately 1 pm, around 30 people gathered for a press conference in the main hall of the Islamic Charitable Society’s girls orphanage to protest against the Israeli orders for these institutions to be closed. Members of local organizations, human rights workers, journalists, students and concerned members -The Islamic Charitable Society of Hebron is accused of acting as a front for the militant Islamist organization Hamas. The Israeli Occupation Force’s press release states: "The Islamic Charity (Society) has, among other things, delivered money to Hamas terrorist operatives and their families, trained youths based on jihad principles, supported the families of suicide bombers and incarcerated terrorists, and spread Hamas principles amongst the Palestinian population. "The society, whose existence predates Hamas by 26 years, was founded in 1962.

Two injured by Palestinian security forces during arrest raid in Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 4/9/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – A Palestinian fighter and a bystander were injured during an arrest raid by Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces in the northern West Bank city of Nablus on Wednesday, medics and witnesses said. Twenty-year-old Muhammad Al-Kharraz, and Sufyan Qandeel, an activist with the armed wing of Fatah, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, were both injured, medical sources said. Palestinian security forces surrounded several houses in the old city of Nablus, searching for 12 Al-Aqsa Brigades fighters who fled the PA’s Al-Jneid Prison in Nablus last Friday, witnesses said. Eyewitnesses told Ma’an’s reporter that Palestinian security forces besieged several homes in the old city of Nablus and began inspection looking for 12 activists who fled Al-Jnaid detention centre a few days ago. The PA is attempting to arrest or kill the Al-Aqsa Brigades Fighters who fled Al-Jneid. . .

Foreign Press Association demands immediate release of RAM-FM staff
Marian Houk, Ma’an News Agency 4/9/2008
The Foreign Press Association in Israel has issued a new statement Wednesday demanding “the immediate freedom of eight RAM-FM staff members who have been placed under house arrest and forbidden to speak publicly. Three of the eight are accredited journalists with valid GPO [Israeli Government Press Office] cards, and their arrests raise particular concern about the issue of freedom of expression in Israel”. The FPA continues to mention eight detained staff, while court documents and the RAM-FM website indicate only seven staff are affected. RAM-FM’s studios in the Malha Technology Tower in West Jerusalem, where Al-Jazeera and Reuters are also working, were raided on Monday. The staff present on the premises were detained, and equipment seized. The station is broadcasting from Ramallah with a license from the Palestinian Authority, on the allocated frequency 93.

Siege on Gaza intensifies as more Palestinian patients die everyday
Palestinian Information Center 4/9/2008
GAZA, [PIC]-- The Gaza-based anti siege committee asserted on Wednesday that the Israeli economic blockade on Gaza was intensifying rapidly, adding that at least five sick Palestinian citizens have passed away on Wednesday. The Israeli occupation government blocked all crossing points of Gaza Strip, denying food and medicine to the 1. 5 million Palestinians living their amidst unexplainable international silence. Rami Abdo, the spokesman of the committee, confirmed the death of Palestinian citizen Nabila Zakkot, 32, adding that the IOA had internationally delayed her admission to a hospital in the 1948-occuoied Palestinian lands that led to her death. In addition to Zakkot, the committee announced the death of Palestinian citizens Ahmad Mohammed, 58, Khadija Abu Ahmad, 65, Mahmood Hammadeen, 16, and Deib Owaida, 32.

Israeli forces set up new checkpoint near Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 4/9/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – The Israeli army set up a new permanent checkpoint in the northern West Bank town of Beita in south of Nablus on Wednesday, Ma’an’s reporter said. Eyewitnesses told Ma’an’s Nablus correspondent that since the early morning dozens of Israeli soldiers have been erecting a permanent checkpoint at the entrance to Beita. Several Israeli patrols have also begun to tour the village. The setting up of the new checkpoint comes just days after Israel announced its intention to remove dozens of checkpoints from across the West Bank to facilitate Palestinians’ freedom of movement. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that there are more than 500 Israeli checkpoints, roadblocks, gates, trenches, and other such obstacles in the occupied West Bank.

VIDEO - Film offers look at Palestinian migrant workers living underground
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 4/9/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for April 9, 2008. The winner for Best Editing at this week’s Tel Aviv International Documentary Film Festival offers a rare and chilling look at the lives of Palestinian migrant workers who live in a literal abyss in order earn some cash. Jalal Hamdan is one undocumented migrant worker featured in "Six Floors to Hell," a new film by Yonatan Ben-Efrat. The subjects are 650 Palestinian laborers living underground, in the foundations of an abandoned mall at the busy Geha Junction in central Israel. [end]

Israel hits back after two die in crossing attack
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 4/10/2008
Palestinian gunmen attacked a fuel depot on the Gaza border yesterday, killing two Israeli civilian workers and injuring two others as militants fired waves of mortars at the crossing post. Israeli troops shot dead two of the attackers at the Nahal Oz fuel crossing, but two others fled back into Gaza. Israeli soldiers and tanks crossed into Gaza and at least six Palestinians were killed shortly afterwards in Israeli strikes. In another clash earlier in the day, an Israeli soldier and a Hamas militant were killed during an Israeli military raid into southern Gaza. Responsibility for the fuel depot attack was claimed by two extremist groups, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees. However, the Israeli government said it held the Hamas Islamist movement, which controls the Gaza Strip, responsible. Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said the

Forewarned, truck drivers escaped Gaza attackers
Fadi Eyadat, Ha’aretz 4/10/2008
The terror attack yesterday on the fuel depot near the Karni terminal on the Gaza border, in which Palestinian gunmen killed two Israelis, appears to have been planned as a way of abducting an Israeli soldier or civilian, said Israel Defense Forces officials. This assessment is bolstered by the presence, on the Palestinian side of the crossing, of two cars that were apparently meant to bring back the victim or victims of the kidnapping into Gaza. The attack took place around 3 P. M. , as Palestinians fired mortar shells at the fuel depot to cover the infiltration of four or five terrorists across the Gaza border fence, which an IDF source said they cut through. Palestinian coordinators responsible for transferring fuel near the Karni terminal on the Gaza border warned the Israeli workers at the fuel depot about terrorist infiltration into Israel a short time before the attack,. . .

Israelis, Palestinians trade bloody blows in and around Gaza
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 4/10/2008
GAZA CITY: Three Israelis and eight Palestinians were killed on Wednesday in an explosion of violence around the Gaza Strip after Israel launched a bloody raid into the coastal enclave and Palestinian commandos responded by storming into the Jewish state in a failed attempt to capture an Israeli soldier. The dead Palestinians included both militants and civilians, one of them a teenage boy. The Israeli military said Palestinian fighters breached the border near the Nahal Oz terminal, which provides Gaza with its fuel supplies, and moved into Israel under the cover of a barrage of 15 mortar rounds. The attack killed two Israeli civilians in their 30s, according to the Magen David Adom rescue service. A military official said the militants opened fire at short range at the two Israelis who were working at the terminal, located east of Gaza City.

Local security officer: Palestinians warned of infiltration
Avi Issacharoff, and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 4/10/2008
Palestinian fuel coordinators alerted Israelis manning the Nahal Oz fueling terminal that Palestinian "terrorists" had infiltrated Israel prior to the "terror" attack that left two Israeli civilians dead, Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council chief security officer Yoav Peled said Wednesday. "It is in the Palestinians’ interest that fuel continue to be transferred [from Israel] into the Gaza Strip, so they gave the Israeli side, the guys that worked there, information about the infiltration, and warned them," Peled said. According to Peled, the drivers of the fuel trucks that were at the terminal during the time of the attack managed to flee unharmed, but two Israeli employees were murdered while attempting to escape. The two were shot at very close range while one of them was in a truck and the other was standing just outside the vehicle.

IDF investigates Nahal Oz attack
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 4/9/2008
Probe to focus on how Gaza terrorists managed to infiltrate Israel in broad daylight without being detected. Southern Command: Soldiers’ quick response prevented large-scale attack - The IDF’s investigation into Wednesday’s deadly shooting attackat Nahal Oz is focusing on how the terrorists managed to approach the fuel terminal in broad daylight without being spotted by military observation posts positioned nearby. The army will also examine how the gunmen managed to cut through the barbwire fence separating Israel from Gaza, infiltrate Israel shoot two terminal employees dead and escape back to the Strip. Officials in the IDF’s Southern Command said the forces’ quick response prevented a large-scale attack with harsher consequences, such as the kidnapping of Israeli civilians into Gaza, but the army will also check to see whether the soldiers reacted promptly.

VIDEO - IDF soldier killed in Gaza clash
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 4/9/2008
(Video) Palestinians open fire at Israeli force operating near Kissufim crossing in southern Strip; soldier killes, two troops lightly injured. IDF fires back from air, killing Hamas gunman - VIDEO -An IDF soldier was killed and two others were lightly injured Tuesday night during an Israeli raid in the southern Gaza Strip, near the Kissufim crossing. The killed soldier was identified as Staff Sergeant Sayef Bisan, 21, of the Druze village of Jat in the western Galilee. His family was informed of his death. The wounded troops were evacuated to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. Video courtesy ofInfolive. tv During the operation, the troops encountered a group of gunmen who opened fire at them, killing one soldier and injuring two others. In response, the IDF fired at the Palestinians from the air, hitting two gunmen.

J’lem police lower alert over suspected terrorist infiltration
Haaretz Staff, Ha’aretz 4/9/2008
Police in Jerusalem went on high alert Wednesday, after receiving warning that a terrorist had infiltrated the capital. The alert was lifted by early afternoon, police said, without providing further details. While the alert was in effect, police beefed up security checks at theentrance to the city, and special patrol units were deployed in and around Jerusalem, police said. The Israeli rescue service said it raised its alert in the Jerusalem area to its highest level, doubling the number of staff and ambulances on call. The most recent attack in Jerusalem occurred about one month ago, when a Palestinian gunman opened fire in the Mercaz Harav yeshiva, killing eight students and wounding nine others. Last week, the Tel Aviv region was placed on a similar alert, which was lowered several hours later, following the arrests of four Palestinians.

VIDEO - 2 Israelis killed in "terror" attack at Nahal Oz
Ali Waked, YNetNews 4/9/2008
(Video) Palestinian gunmen opened fire at border terminal in southern Israel, killing two Israeli civilians; IDF says "terror" cell set out to abduct soldiers. Ensuing Air Force strike kills three Palestinians in Gaza City - VIDEO - Two Israelis were killed Wednesday afternoon in exchanges of fire that erupted near the Nahal Oz fuel terminal in the central Gaza Strip, the Magen David Adom emergency services reported. The Israelis killed in the attack were employed at the terminal. They were identified as Oleg Lipson, 37-years old, and Lev Charniak, 53-years old; both from Beersheba. The Zaka emergency service said two Palestinian gunmen were killed as well. Spokesmen for militant groups who claimed responsibility for the raid said the remaining attackers withdrew back into the Gaza Strip, under fire from pursuing Israeli helicopters and tanks.

VIDEO - News / Two Israeli civilians killed by Gazan infiltrators
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 4/9/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 news roundup for April 9, 2008. Two Israeli civilians are shot to death by Palestinian infiltrators from the Gaza Strip. Palestinian militants and the Israel Defense Forces say the goal of the attack was to abduct soldiers. IDF soldier Sayaf Bisan is killed during a routine operation in the Gaza Strip. [end]

VIDEO - Nahal Oz residents shocked by attack
Roi Mandel, YNetNews 4/9/2008
(Video) Residents of terrorized kibbutz asked to stay in secure rooms for fear of further firing by terrorists. Mortar shells continued to fall long after the gunmen left. Kibbutz resident: ’Nothing like this has ever happened here’ - VIDEO -"It was terrifying - I have been living in Nahal Ozmany years and I have never experienced such a barrage of shots and mortars," Nahal Oz resident Ofra Hartov recounted during an interview with Ynet, describing the terror attack on a fuel terminal located near the the kibbutz Wednesday, during which two people were killed. IDF officials estimated that three to five gunmen infiltrated the terminal from Gaza in an attempt to kidnap soldiers. Nahal Oz is the only kibbutz in the area with secure rooms, and the residents were told to remain hidden inside of these rooms.

One Palestinian, one Israeli killed in Israeli incursion in Khan Younis
Ma’an News Agency 4/9/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – One Hamas fighter was killed and another injured on Wednesday morning during fierce fighting with undercover Israeli forces who raided Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, witnesses said. One Israeli soldier was killed and two others injured in the clashes, the Israeli army said. The wounded soldiers were treated at Soroka hospital in Be’er Sheva. Palestinian medical sources identified the dead Palestinian fighter as 23-year-old Muhammad Shamiyya, an activist with the armed wing of Hamas, the Al-Qassam Brigades. The Israeli forces withdrew at 6:30am, ending the fighting. The military wing of Islamic Jihad, the Al-Quds Brigades and the Al-Qassam Brigades said their fighters involved in fierce clashes with the invading Israeli forces firing rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) at those forces.

OPT: Arab donations boost emergency aid prospects
UNRWA, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 4/10/2008
UNRWA had to remove about 200,000 Gazans out of 850,000 from its list of food aid recipients - JERUSALEM, 8 April 2008 (IRIN) - UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, is cautiously optimistic that international donations for emergency relief work in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) will be more generous this year than last. "We are running slightly ahead of last year’s emergency appeal for the oPt, in large part due to an increase in Arab donations, particularly for Gaza," said, Peter Ford, an UNRWA official involved in funding issues, adding that this was "encouraging". UNRWA officials said the agency’s emergency appeal for the oPt for 2007 had only been about 55 percent funded, adding to the problem of rising costs. In 2008, the agency would need about US$68 million just to feed the refugees in Gaza.

Four Palestinians, including three children killed in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 4/9/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Four Palestinians, including 3 children were killed when Israeli warplanes launched a missile at a car in the Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City. Ma’an’s reporter said Israeli warplanes and tanks fired several missiles at Palestinian houses across the Gaza Strip resulting in a number of casualties. Director of the Ash-Shifa medical centre in Gaza City Dr Ra’id Areini said that the centre received three dead bodies including two children, as well as six wounded, four of them children. [end]

No voice for peace
Tamar Sukenik, Ha’aretz 4/10/2008
On Monday, at 2 A. M. , police detained eight employees of RAM FM, which broadcasts from Jerusalem and Ramallah, alleging that the station in Jerusalem was operating illegally. Transmitters and office equipment were confiscated from the Jerusalem bureau although the Ramallah station has continued broadcasting. The Communications Ministry stated that the station’s staff were detained because of police assessments that they were operating without a license and had gone on the air without a tender. "The resource of [available] frequencies is currently classed as a depleted resource, and the quality of broadcasting is compromised, as there are too many [broadcast] ’suppliers’ offering services. We lack the authority to decide whom to arrest," Yehiel Shalvi, the ministry’s spokesman, said yesterday.

Cars protest Israeli fuel cuts in Gaza
Middle East Online 4/9/2008
GAZA – Scores of cars and vehicles gathered in Gaza city to express anger over Israel cuts for fuel deliveries, in a broad strike organized by the Popular Committee Against Siege (PCAS). The cars were lined up alongside the drivers to protest against the Israeli measures of cutting fuel. “Life in Gaza is completely paralyzed now as all classes of people are not able to work properly, such as doctors, teachers, students and other employees in addition to stopping of ambulances and public taxies,”said Jamal N. El Khoudary, Chairman of PCAS and an independent Palestinian lawmaker. “The coming few days would witness dangerous escalation due to this crisis. More than 1. 5 million live in a big concentration camp and life of people is totally paralyzed,” El Khoudary added. Gaza needs 850,000 litres of fuel every week.

Syria: UNRWA opens new educational facilities in Khan Dannoun, Damascus
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in, ReliefWeb 4/8/2008
UNRWA inaugurated a new school building to house Ariha and Beit Lahya Schools and a music centre in Khan Dannoun Camp today. The school building sits on land provided by a private Palestinian donor and it was built and equipped with funding from the Government of Germany. Owing to an ongoing shortage of facilities, the structure houses two of UNRWA’s 119 schools in Syria, and will provide basic education for 1,000 students. The music centre in the facility extends the Agency’s partnership with the Dutch NGO Music in Me, which is now supporting musical education for refugee children in five camps throughout Syria. UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen Koning AbuZayd, thanking donors and partners, announced: "Today we witness how creative partnership between private citizens, host governments, the donor community and UNRWA can produce positive, tangible results.

UNICEF Humanitarian Action Update: OPT 4 Apr 2008
United Nations Children''s Fund, ReliefWeb 4/4/2008
UNICEF’S EMERGENCY PROGRAMMES FOCUS ON HEALTH, EDUCATION, CHILD PROTECTION AND ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENT- In February, there were no stocks of 85 out of 416 essential drugs in Gaza. - Water and sanitation systems suffer from chronic shortages and limited networks. - Across the West Bank, schools have fallen behind on the curriculum due to school days lost to military operations, closures, and curfews. - Many children suffer from trauma and present symptoms of stress and anxiety. OVERVIEW 2008 has offered little promise for children thus far. At least 33 children were killed in conflict-related violence between 27 February and 3 March. In January, an Israeli missile targeting the Ministry of Interior in Gaza injured 26 children attending a nearby wedding. In Nablus, at least 18 children were injured in the largest full-scale military operation since February 2007.

George, Laura Bush to visit Masada; Ehud Olmert to play tour guide
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 4/10/2008
U. S. President George W. Bush is likely to visit Masada during his visit to Israel next month for Israel’s 60th anniversary celebrations, U. S. sources said yesterday. Organizers of Bush’s planned two-and-a-half-day stay said they had been searching for a symbolic location for the president to visit, but wanted to avoid one that might stir controversy like the Western Wall, Golan Heights or Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Bush, accompanied by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert,would visit the ancient mountaintop fortress where Jewish rebels made their last stand against Roman legionnaires. During his stay, Bush will address the Knesset and give a speech detailing the history of U. S. -Israeli relations and his vision of its future. White House staff said they were interested in organizing a meeting between Bush, his wife Laura and a group of recent immigrants to Israel.

Olmert: No invitation to Sharm El-Sheikh
Ha’aretz 4/10/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has not been invited to a regional summit at the Sinai resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh, contradicting reports he would participate in the event. Former Meretz leader Yossi Beilin on Monday said at a press conference promoting the Geneva Initiative that Olmert would attend the Sharm conference. However, U. S. sources said yesterday that the summit would be attended by U. S. President George Bush, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan’s King Abdullah, and is intended as a U. S. -Arab meeting. Bush, who does not intend to visit the Palestinian Authority during his Middle East visit, will meet Abbas in Egypt and host him in Washington a few days before his departure. (Shmuel Rosner) Gunfire erupted last night between the Palestinian police and a Fatah splinter group called "the Nightriders" in the West Bank town of Nablus.

’No deals’ with Assad on court - Rice
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 4/10/2008
WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ruled out Wednesday any deal with Syria to keep President Bashar al-Assad’s regime or family from being implicated in former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s 2005 assassination. Senator Arlen Specter told Rice during a Senate committee’s hearing that Jordan’s King Abdullah II recently told him that Assad was concerned about the Special Tribunal that will try suspects in the Hariri killing. Specter floated the idea of negotiations with Damascus to gain political progress in the region in exchange for reduced sentences in the case. Abdullah "said that the item that is most on the mind of. . . Assad is the action of the international tribunal which could lead to his indictment," he said. But Rice responded: "I don’t think that it would be appropriate to suggest that we might be willing to limit the scope of this tribunal.

U.S. wants Sharm summit during Bush visit
Barak Ravid and Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 4/10/2008
The United States is keen on holding a summit at the Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to coincide with President George Bush’s visit to Israel next month for the country’s 60th anniversary celebrations. Bush would like to use the event as a way station in the diplomatic process, following November’s Annapolis conference, so as to provide another boost to efforts to reach an agreement by the end of the year over the core issues for a final-status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Senior political sources in Jerusalem confirmed this development, which was first revealed by MK Yossi Beilin at a press conference yesterday. Beilin said that President Hosni Mubarak and Bush would host the summit, and will invite Jordan’s King Abdullah, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Murdoch, Blair, Gorbachev to attend Israel’s 60th celebrations
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 4/10/2008
President Shimon Peres is bringing in top personalities from around the world to celebrate Israel’s 60th birthday. United States President George W. Bush, Barbra Streisand, Tony Blair, Mikhail Gorbachev and Rupert Murdoch are among those expected to attend a May conference focusing on Jewish and Israeli contributions to humanity. "We are going to have probably 10 presidents from different countries, six former presidents, ministers, prime ministers, scientists, philosophers, artists," Peres said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press. The conference is expected to be one of the highlights of weeks ofcelebrations marking Israel’s 60th, including concerts, Holocaust remembrance events, a workshop promoting Arab-Israeli coexistence and a 750-mile trans-Israel bicycle trail.

Peres announces 60th anniversary guest list
Associated Press, YNetNews 4/9/2008
Many international celebrities to participate in 60th anniversary festivities, including President Bush, Tony Blair, Mikhail Gorbachev. Barbra Streisand to sing Jewish prayer - President Shimon Peressaid Wednesday that the festivities marking Israel’s 60th birthday and including top personalities from around the world will open with a tribute to Israel’s staunchest ally, the United States. "After 60 years we want to stand up and say ’thank you America,’" Peres said in an interview with the Associated Press. The May 13-15 conference will be attended by President George W. Bush and Barbra Streisand singing the Jewish prayer Avinu Malkeinu (Our Father Our King), which Peres described as "unbelievably beautiful. " Peres said the conference, focusing on Jewish and Israeli contributions to humanity, will include subjects "as varied as one can think of.

Report: Ex-U.S. president Carter to meet with Hamas leader in Syria
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 4/10/2008
The U. S. news network Fox reported Wednesday that former U. S. president Jimmy Carter is planning to meet exiled Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal in Damascus in 10 days. Carter’s press secretary Deanna Congileo confirmed the report that the former president is planning a trip to Damascus, first published by the London-based Arabic-language daily Al Hayat, and did not deny a possible meeting with the Hamas leader. "President Carter is planning a trip to the Mideast next week; however, we are still confirming details of the trip and will issue a press release by the end of this week," wrote Congileo. "I cannot confirm any specific meetings at this point in time. "The planned meeting between the former president and the leader of Hamas, a militant group classified by Israel and the U.

Hamas: Palestinian people will never accept to die under the siege
Palestinian Information Center 4/9/2008
GAZA, [PIC]-- The prominent Hamas political leader in Gaza city MP Mishir Al-Masri has affirmed on Wednesday that the Palestinian people will not accept to die alone under the watching eye of the international community. The Hamas’s figure also confirmed to the Quds Press that the United States and Israel were leading a conspiracy against the Palestinian people in Gaza Strip with coordination from Arab and Palestinian parties, underlining that "Hamas will not remain arms folded vis-à-vis that conspiracy". Furthermore, Masri underscored, "It is clear that all roads and bridges to reach a solution to the Palestinian condition were destroyed as all concerned parties were disavowing their responsibilities either under pressures from the USA or for lack of interest on their part to shoulder the responsibility, and thus, we [in Hamas] hold all the concerned parties responsible for the catastrophe that could happen in Gaza Strip".

OPT: Egypt says will not accept new Gaza border breach
Agence France-Presse, ReliefWeb 4/9/2008
CAIRO, April 9, 2008 (AFP) - Egypt will not accept any violation of its border with the Gaza Strip, an official said on Wednesday, after Hamas threatened to repeat a January breach that saw hundreds of thousands of Palestinians flood into Egypt. "Egypt will not take lightly the protection of its frontiers against any attempt to violate them, no matter who they are," the official MENA news agency quoted the unnamed official as saying. "Egypt’s borders are a red line you cannot cross," the official said. "Egypt is capable of responding to any attempt to violate its frontiers. " On Tuesday, Khalil al-Hayya, a senior member of Hamas, the Islamist movement which controls the Gaza Strip, said that "all options are open to break the siege" by Israel. "I expect that what will happen next will be greater than what happened before, not only against the Egyptian border, but against all the crossings," Hayya said.

Barghouthi questions negotiations when stated settlement policy is continued expansion
Palestine News Network 4/9/2008
PNN - Early this week President Abbas met with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, to the dismay of so many, including Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, in Jerusalem. The Israeli government has its offices there; part of the Israelization process in the city. Dr. Barghouthi says, "The only explanation as to why the Palestinian negotiating delegation is being put forth with such diligence is that the endeavor is just plain wrong. "And I do not know why they continue these negotiations in the light of this settlement expansion, especially since Olmert announced during a meeting with them that all settlement expansion in Jerusalem and the settlement blocs will continue and that this is on the list of issues that are outside the framework of negotiation as far as the Israelis are concerned. "If this is the official Israeli position, as announced, in this case, the negotiations become a. . .

Governmental sources in Gaza denies news of allowing in fuel by Egypt
Palestinian Information Center 4/9/2008
RAFAH, (PIC)-- Sources in the caretaker government categorically denied the news reported by the Egyptian Al-Ahram newspaper about allowing large quantities of fuel and gas into Gaza by the Egyptian authorities, while eyewitnesses reported that the Egyptian security apparatuses are working on strengthening their presence heavily at the Rafah borders in fear of another wall breach. The sources deplored the newspaper for publishing such unfounded news and for its lack of credibility, underlining that providing false information would not change the reality of the Gaza people’s suffering and would not diminish the real responsibility of all Arab and Muslim countries especially Egypt towards the besieged Palestinian people in Gaza.   After Palestinian factions warned Tuesday that the Palestinian people would not stay passive towards the ongoing Israeli siege, Egypt hastened, according. . .

Egyptian security forces deployed on border with Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 4/9/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Egyptian security forces have been deployed heavily along the Rafah border with the Gaza Strip fearing that Palestinians may force the border wall open again on Wednesday. Palestinian sources told Ma’an that the deployment, just 500 meters from the border, is unprecedented. The sources added that Palestinian factions have been announcing, over public address systems and local radio stations, that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is further deteriorating, resulting in shortages of food and medicine. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians poured into Egypt from the Gaza Strip in late January after the border was forced open. Gazans flocked to Egypt to shop for basic supplies made scarce by months of the Israeli blockade.

PFLP officials ’working to end Gaza siege’ in Cairo
Ma’an News Agency 4/9/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A member of the politburo of the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Jamil Majdalawi, met on Tuesday with two high-ranking Egyptian intelligence officers in what the PFLP is an effort to lift the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip. PFLP leader Jamil Muzhir told the London-based Arabic language newspaper Al-Hayat that "Majdalawi discussed with the Egyptian officials the crippling siege on the Gaza Strip and the means to lift that siege and reopen Gaza crossings especially the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. " The Palestinian and Egyptian officials also discussed the 2005 Cairo agreement and other Egyptian efforts to bridge the gap between rivals Palestinian factions Fatah and HamasMuzhir also said that the PFLP’s secretary general, Abdul-Rahim Mallouh, would lead a delegation to Cario later in April.

QB: Rules of the game in Gaza have changed
Palestinian Information Center 4/9/2008
GAZA, [PIC]-- The armed wing of Hamas Movement, the Qassam Brigades (QB) warned the Israeli occupation forces on Wednesday that "rules of the game" in Gaza Strip have changed, and that any IOF invasion of the Strip won’t be a "picnic". The QB warning came after an IOF officer of the elite forces was killed and two other soldiers were wounded during an IOF incursion into Khan Younis city, southeast of the Strip. One QB fighter was martyred in the armed clashes. According to local sources, an earlier IOF attempt to advance into Jabalya city, north of Gaza city, was botched by the QB fighters who also forced the invading troops to retreat. "The killing of the IOF officer was a clear message to the occupation that any IOF incursion into the Strip will cost it a high price as rules of the game have changed in Gaza Strip", asserted Abu Obaida, the spokesman of the QB.

Hamas denounces Arab countries for supplying Israel with fuel
Palestinian Information Center 4/9/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement strongly denounced Arab counties for supplying Israel with fuel and gas and contributing to tighten the unjust Israel siege imposed since months on the Gaza Strip, considering it a serious crime against the Palestinian people. In a press statement received by the PIC, Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, stated that the continuance of some central Arab countries in selling fuel and gas to the Israeli occupation for less than the cost price and sometimes for free which are used in warplanes and tanks to bomb the Palestinian people is a serious crime against million and a half Palestinians living in Gaza. Barhoum called on the Arab countries which regrettably have relations with Israel to reevaluate their unbalanced policies towards the Palestinian cause. The spokesman also called on all human rights organizations especially human rights watch (HRW). . .

Rabbi Eliyahu: Approve outposts, encourage birth rate
Kobi Nahshoni, YNetNews 4/9/2008
Thousands of religious-Zionist youths rally under slogan ’Rise and be encouraged’, in honor of Mercaz Harav attack’s 30-day anniversary. Rabbi Eliyahu comforts bereaved parents, strengthens youths - "The government’s most important mission these days is the establishment of yeshivas and settlements, the approval of outposts, and the encouragement of the national birth rate," former Sephardi Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu told a crowd of religious-Zionist youths assembled at Teddy stadium in Jerusalem on Tuesday evening. About 8,000 youths participated in the rally commemorating the 30-day anniversary of the attack at Mercaz Haravyeshiva. Eight beacons were lit by youths injured by the attack in honor of the deceased, and Sergeant David Shapiroand Rabbi Yitzhak Dadon were awarded certificates of honor for their brave acts during the attack, in front of the students, rabbis, and faculty seated on the grass.

Israel to UN: Nahal Oz terror attack ’cynical’
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 4/9/2008
Israel launches official complaint letter to world body, stating: ’While Israel facilitates entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza, terrorists cynically attack those very crossing points’ - WASHINGTON -Israel launched an official complaint letter on Wednesday to the United Nations, regarding the terror attack in Nahal Oz, during which two Israelis were killed. Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Gillerman, sent the complaint to Secretary-General General Ban Ki-moon, and to Security Council President Jagdish Koonjul. In the letter, Gillerman wrote: "Excellency, I write to inform you of yet another vicious Palestinian terrorist attack that resulted in the death of two Israeli civilians. " He emphasized that the two civilians were employees of the fuel terminal used to transfer food, fuel, and medical supplies to the Gaza Strip.

Polish PM: We’ve always supported Israel
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 4/9/2008
’There are joint actions we can take in the fields of security and global order,’ Tusk tells reporters following Jerusalem meeting with Olmert, adds that his government working to return goods confiscated during World War II to rightful owners - "It is time that both Poland and Israel make the distinction between a true ally and one who offers temporary gestures," Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said following his meeting with his Israeli counterpart Ehud Olmertin Jerusalem Wednesday. "Over the past few decades, regardless of our dire situation, the Polish people have always supported Israel," he said. During a joint press conference with the Israeli PM, Tusk said "Poland and Israel hold similar positions regarding the global threats, and there are joint actions we can take in the fields of security and global order.

Brothers in arms
Yossi Melman, Ha’aretz 4/10/2008
In a phone conversation between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who is now visiting Israel, the matter of Israeli arms sales to Poland came up. But even before arriving here, Tusk heaped much praise on the developing ties between the two countries in this area. In an interview with Haaretz before his trip to Israel, Tusk noted that in certain cases, the treatment Poland gets from Israel is even better than what it gets from its good friend and most important ally, the United States. Tusk was referring to the big contract the Polish Defense Ministry signed in 2004 with the Rafael Armament Development Authority, whereby Rafael will supply Spike anti-tank missiles (from the Gil missile family) to the Polish army. The value of the deal is around a quarter of a billion dollars. This is a so-called offset agreement: a reciprocal acquisition.

Israeli president proposes resuming direct occupation of Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 4/9/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli President Shimon Peres called on Wednesday for the Israeli military to reoccupy the Gaza Strip in order to stop barrages of homemade projectiles fired by Palestinian fighters into neighboring Israeli towns. Israeli radio reported that Peres remarked, in a meeting with European diplomats, that he does not believe that Palestinians are interested in peace, and that direct occupation will stop Palestinian projectiles. "Ongoing peace talks with the Palestinian leadership will last very long as the Palestinians are not seriously seeking an agreement with Israel," Peres added. Israel withdrew its forces from Gaza’s streets in as a part of the 1994 interim agreement, but maintains control over the territory’s borders, airspace, territorial waters, and tax system. In addition Israeli forces frequently invade the Strip.

Barak: Hamas will pay for Nahal Oz attack
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 4/9/2008
Government officials in Jerusalem say Islamist group authorized raid that killed two Israelis. Lieberman: Attack could have been prevented had government stopped fuel, electricity supply to Strip - "Hamas is the official ruler of Gaza and, as far as Israel is concerned, must be held accountable for the firing and terror attacks that come from Gaza," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said during a meeting with visiting Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk following Wednesday’s deadly shooting attack at Nahal Oz. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told the Polish PM that "Hamas’ regime in Gaza is a danger to the entire region. Hamas controls Gaza, and has the power to prevent any terrorist activity planned within its borders. Israel will not occupy itself with the question of which organization carried out the attack - Hamas will be held responsible.

Barghouti helps mark 30 years of Peace Now
Beth O''Connell, Daily Star 4/9/2008
Agence France Presse - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel’s Peace Now movement, celebrating 30 years of activism, on Tuesday received assurances from a jailed Occupied West Bank leader that Palestinians are ready for reconciliation. "The vast majority of the Palestinian people, myself included, are ready for a historic reconciliation based on international resolutions that will result in the establishment of two states," Marwan Barghouti, currently jailed in Israel for his role in the 2000 Palestinian uprising, told the group. Peace Now was set to mark three decades of peace promotion and anti-settlement actions later on Tuesday at a Tel Aviv square named after prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated after a peace rally there in 1995. In 1982, Peace Now led a 400,000-strong protest at the same square.

Abbas to attend summit with American, Egyptian and Israeli leaders
Palestinian Information Center 4/9/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- PA chief Mahmoud Abbas is to attend a summit in mid May in Egypt grouping American president George Bush, Israeli premier Ehud Olmert and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, a senior Palestinian official announced on Tuesday. The sources said that the summit to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh would follow up developments of the peace negotiations between Israel and the PA leadership. For its part, the office of the Israeli premier said that it had no knowledge of such a meeting. The international economic forum on the Middle East is to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh on 18-10 May. [end]

Current siege of Gaza is worst in Palestinian history, de facto government says
Ma’an News Agency 4/9/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The present Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip is the worst in Palestinian history, the Interior Ministry of the de facto government of the Gaza Strip said on Tuesday. The Ministry said that the 10-month blockade has negatively affected its performance. Many of the security service’s vehicles are completely out of use to the scarcity of fuel resulting from Israel’s sanctions, the Ministry said. The Ministry appealed to Arab, Islamic, and European states and the entire world to support the Palestinian people and help lift the siege of the Gaza Strip. [end]

PFLP and DFLP to lead reconciliation initiative to end Fatah-Hamas rivalry
Ma’an News Agency 4/9/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Lineration of Palestine (DFLP) revealed on Wednesday that they were drafting a reconciliation initiative aimed at healing the rift between bitter political rivals Fatah and Hamas. PFLP politburo member Jamil Muzhir said that nine Palestinian factions and civil society organizations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip had agreed on a joint initiative hoping to find a way out of the current political crisis. Fatah and Hamas have been at loggerheads since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007. According to Muzhir, the initiative proposes that Hamas retract the coup and turn over security headquarters in Gaza to President Mahmoud Abbas. They then propose that comprehensive dialogue should be resumed in accordance with the national agreement document and the Cairo agreement signed by all Palestinian factions.

Al-Aqsa Brigades warns Abbas’s security of pursuing its fighters in WB
Palestinian Information Center 4/9/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Al-Aqsa Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, warned Wednesday the PA security apparatuses under the command of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas of continuing to pursue and disarm the Palestinian resistance fighters in the West Bank, stating that these apparatuses became "lackeys of the Israeli occupation". In a press statement received by the PIC, the Brigades underlined that what is happening in the West Bank is the consequences of the PA’s repeated meetings with Israelis and the last visit of American secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to the region, pointing out that it always warned of these meetings because of their detrimental impacts on the national unity and the Palestinian resistance.   These statements issued in the aftermath of the armed clashes happened between fighters affiliated with the Brigades and PA security elements in the Nablus city in the West Bank, where the fighters refused to surrender themselves to those elements.

Palestinian high court orders PA employees back to work
Ma’an News Agency 4/9/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Palestinian Higher Judicial Council on Wednesday ruled that striking civil servants must return to work. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad commented on the decision saying it reflects the government’s desire to get institutions working again and to impose the law. As for the civil servants’ demands, Fayyad emphasized that his government would continue with the efforts to address those demands. On Sunday Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued an order giving the Palestinian high court the power to order striking workers back to their jobs. The civil servants union has called the decision a violation of Palestinian and international law, and called a series of strikes this week in protest. Palestinian public employees, especially teachers, have held a number of strikes since January demanding increased pay.

BoI warns of $500m balance of payments deficit
Tal Levy, Ha’aretz 4/10/2008
In the space of just one year, Israel’s national account slipped deep into the red. The current account in Israel’s balance of payments, which reached a surplus of about $5 billion in 2007, is expected to slide into a $500 million deficit in 2008. The assessment comes from the minutes of the Bank of Israel’s discussion on interest rates, which the central bank released yesterday. The balance of payments is the net change of the money invested by foreigners in Israel and the money invested by Israelis abroad, the sum of exported goods and services minus imports of the same, and unilateral currency transfers. The deficit discussed by the central bank affects only the current account balance - the gap between imports and exports. It means that if in 2007 exports from Israel accounted for $5 billion more than imports, in 2008 we are likely to see a situation where we are importing $500 million more than we are exporting.

Home Front drill ends today with ’chemical attack’
Yuval Azoulay and Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 4/10/2008
The nationwide home-front training exercise will end today after five days of rehearsing responses to missile attacks. The operations will end with a simulated strike by missiles with chemical warheads on Afula in the Galilee. During the week, units practiced evacuating people after mock missile attacks on Jaffa, Bnei Brak and Jerusalem. They also responded to a simulated seaborne terrorist assault on a beach in Tel Aviv. GOC Home Front Command Yair Golan said yesterday that 90 percent of the local authorities took part in the drill. The authorities that decided not to take part will be briefed, he said. The Home Front will examine and evaluate all the shortcomings and malfunctions that took place during the siren drill on Tuesday and fix them during the year, he said. The Home Front Command plans to deploy hundreds of additional sirens throughout the country, Golan said.

Home front commander says Israelis are ready to meet any threat
Yigal Hai Yuval Azoulay and Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 4/10/2008
The major general in charge of the home front, Yair Golan, said yesterday that the Israeli public is ready to deal with the threats facing it. Golan spoke on the Knesset’s Channel 33 during this week’s national emergency exercise. Sirens went off throughout the country at 10 A. M. , and the Home Front’s broadcasting station in Ramle was included in the exercise after having been established several months ago. The broadcast also ran clips instructing people where they can best find cover at home, and children were told how to take cover if missiles strike. The Home Front Command and local authorities received reports on sirens that failed, with most of the complaints coming from rural areas. Home Front officials said all reports would be examined and any shortcomings fixed. As the sirens wailed, pupils in schools and kindergartens were led to protected areas and bomb. . .

Israel ’lacks ways to combat possible chemical attack’
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 4/9/2008
Home Front Command chief says nationwide emergency drill progressing well; country still short on ways to sufficiently battle chemical threat. Refitting citizens with ABC kits may take up to five years -"We still don’t have the best response for a chemical threat, we’re not where we want to be, but in a few years will be able to offer a much better answer," Home Front Command Chief Major-General Yair Golan said Wednesday. Golan, who held a press briefing on the Home Front Command’s nationwide emergency drill, reiterated the cabinet’s decision to refit Israeli citizens with atomic, biological, and chemical (ABC) protection kits, calling it "the right decision, given that an emergency situation can happen out of the blue. "

Israeli govt owes NIS 1.28 trillion
Zeev Klein, Globes Online 4/9/2008
Government debt per capita reached NIS 18,000 in 2007. The government’s long-term liabilities reached NIS 1. 28 trillion at the end of 2007, while its assets totaled NIS 319 billion, according to the Ministry of Finance Accountant General’s financial report, published today. The report adds that the 2007 cgross budget totaled NIS 325 billion, and budget usage was 96%. The report was sent to State Comptroller and Ombudsman Micha Lindenstrauss and will be sent to Speaker of the Knesset Dalia Itzik shortly. The report states that the government owns NIS 47. 7 billion in current assets, NIS 150. 3 billion in fixed assets, NIS 47. 3 billion in long-term loans, and NIS 62. 5 billion in investments in government and other companies. The report does not provide information about many assets, such as infrastructures and state land owned and managed by the Israel Land Administration (ILA).

Israeli court ruling prompts internal brawl over bread
Peter Hirschberg, Daily Star 4/10/2008
Inter Press Service - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s latest headache has nothing to do with the Palestinians, or with Syria, or Iran, or Hizbullah. It has to do with leavened bread. The religious establishment in Israel, including their political representatives in Olmert’s governing coalition, are seething over a court ruling last week that permits the sale of bread by restaurants and groceries during the Passover holiday, which falls later this month. Jewish religious law prohibits the consumption of leavened bread during Passover and stipulates that Jews must eat only unleavened bread known as matzah. "The ruling puts a gun to the head of the Jewish people," said Yitzhak Cohen, the religious affairs minister and a member of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party. Zevulun Orlev, the leader of the National Religious Party, said the decision by the court had "seriously harmed" the Jewish people.

State Prosecutor: New Katsav indictment may include rape
Tomer Zarchin and Ofra Edelman, Ha’aretz 4/9/2008
Officials in the State Prosecutor’s Office say that a new indictment containing more serious charges - possibly including rape - will be filed against former president Moshe Katsav either before Pesach or immediately after the holiday, following Katsav’s dramatic decision Tuesday to cancel the plea bargain that had downgraded the original rape charges against him to lesser sexual offenses and no jail time. Katsav said he intends to face the charges in court and will fight to clear his name. The trial will be the first for an Israeli head of state, past or present. "Presumably the ramifications of this move are clear to Katsav," Attorney General Menachem Mazuz said in a brief statement a few hours after Katsav’s lawyers informed him of their client’s decision. Hinting that all bets are now off, Mazuz added: "You will recall, as. . .

Gazan exiles dubious about Palestinian unity
Ilene R. Prusher, The Christian Science Monitor, ReliefWeb 4/9/2008
Fatah partisans driven from the Gaza Strip by Hamas reject Palestinian reconciliation. - Beit Jala, West Bank - A year ago, Thayer Hamdan was on duty as an officer in the Palestinian Authority’s national security service in Gaza. Standing 6 feet, 4 inches, he seemed built for imposing law and order. Now, at 22, he is a double-amputee, following the violent struggle in Gaza last June, in which Hamas seized control of all the military and political posts of the Palestinian Authority (PA), then controlled by Fatah. Mr. Hamdan is one of dozens of men seriously injured in the virtual civil war who are now stuck in the West Bank, afraid to go back to their families in Gaza for fear of their lives. "There isn’t one among them who doesn’t want to go back and be with his family – it’s the only way to ave their morale boosted," says Midhat Taha, who escaped from Gaza last June because he is an assistant to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Now, Dr. Taha is charged with helping the worst cases.

Ramallah hair show defies occupation
Kristen Ess, Palestine News Network 4/9/2008
The beat goes on in a Ramallah hair show, but without Gaza. The stage is filled with young women having their hair cut by what many consider to be artists. The announcer is shouting to be heard over the pounding disco music, "This is Palestine!" The stylist on display is from Nablus. There are people at this hair show, invite only, from inside the 1948, Israeli, boundaries, from Syria’s occupied Golan Heights even. But the Gazans did not come. They were not allowed. It’s a hair show, a fashion show; it’s something to ensure that more people who care about hair cuts, and a certain semblance of normalcy, might have work as the economy continues to plummet due to Israeli occupation measures. The director of the entire program takes a minute from his front row seat to speak about what is the point of this event.

Growing ’Gush Katif-style’ produce
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 4/10/2008
Said Abu Nasser is starting to worry. Shmita (a year when Jewish-owned land in Israel is supposed to lie fallow) falls only once every seven years, and once every 28 years the shmita year is also a leap year, with an extra month. Spring is already here, however, with summer just around the corner, and soon after that a new Jewish year will begin and the brutish market will be back. Abu Nasser is already making plans. "In order to maintain profitability next year too," says Abu Nasser, "I have to plant 240 dunams. It’s a good thing I don’t want to be a millionaire. All I want is to provide for my family and my workers. Inshalla (if Allah wishes), everything will work out. "What does the shmita year have to do with Abu Nasser? The shmita year is is a Jewish matter. Jewish farmers are commanded to let the land rest. Otherwise, they have to at least temporarily transfer the ownership of the land to a non-Jew.

IMF sees Israel’s growth rate above US and Europe
Ran Dagoni, Washington, Globes Online 4/9/2008
The IMF’s projection is however lower than that of the Bank of Israel. The IMF predicts that Israel will have a significantly higher growth rate than most European and North American countries, but far less than several other countries in the region. The prediction appears in the semiannual IMF global growth forecast, published today in Washington. The IMF has included Israel in its group of advanced economies for years. The IMF is more pessimistic than theBank of Israel regarding Israel’s growth rate. The IMF predicts 3% growth in 2008, compared with 3. 2% predicted by the Bank of Israel. Both institutions predict 3. 4% growth in 2009. The projects reflect a sharp decline in Israel’s growth rate, in line with other advanced economies. Israel’s economy grew by 5. 3% in 2007 and 5. 2% in 2006. The IMF’s 2009 growth forecast for Israel puts it among the rate projected for emerging economies, behind Singapore (4.

Treasury taking on world crisis with new tax break for industry
Tal Levy and Moti Bassok, Ha’aretz 4/10/2008
Israel’s manufacturers have been asking for state help for some time as the waves of the global credit crisis break on Israel’s shores, and now the treasury is showing that it’s heeding their call, with a plan to accelerate depreciation on investment in fixed assets. One impact would be that the state’s tax revenues would fall short of previous estimates. Granted, most of Israel’s macroeconomic statistics have yet to show signs of economic slowdown, though the consensus is that economic growth will be slower this year than in 2007. But analysts generally concur that any deceleration of global economic growth must impact Israel’s economy, because of its heavy dependence on exports, including to the U. S. , the immediate source of the trouble because of its enormous debts. Finance Minister Roni Bar-On yesterday decided to institute a revolutionary tax break for industrialists, for. . .

Sales of fake, stolen, stale drugs: NIS 100-130 million last year
Ora Coren, Ha’aretz 4/10/2008
Sales of stolen, counterfeit and out of date pharmaceuticals came to between NIS 100 million and NIS 130 million in 2007, pharmaceutical manufacturers belonging to the Manufacturers Association of Israel said yesterday. The drugs were for human as well as veterinary use. The companies noted that medicines were stolen from 20 pharmaceutical warehouses and pharmacies during the year, and that some of the booty probably reached the public. One fear is that stolen drugs are not stored properly while in the thieves’ hands. To protect yourself and loved ones from counterfeit, useless or even harmful medications, the drug companies recommend that consumers purchase prescription drugs in pharmacies only, that they look for the manufacturers’ or exporters’ details on the package and also make sure the package itself is intact before buying.

Five years after fall of Baghdad, all-day curfew is imposed
The Independent 4/9/2008
The fifth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad and the toppling of the statute of Saddam Hussein -- a symbol of US victory and might -- was marked yesterday by death and destruction across the country and an admission from the White House that projected troop withdrawals would have to be delayed. The Iraqi capital remains under curfew after another round of bloodshed in which mortar rounds landed in Sadr City, killing seven people, including two children, and injuring 24 others. Further gunfights in the sprawling Shia slum led to six more dying and 15 others being wounded. The area is a centre of support for the radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and came after days of clashes between his militia, the Mehdi Army, and Iraqi government forces in which 55people have been killed and more than 200 injured. The Shia fighters vowed last nightthat retribution would be taken for the "unprovoked. . .

Mugniyah murder probe points to Saudi involvement
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 4/9/2008
Iranian news agency reports Saudi security official was directly involved in assassination of top Hizbullah commander - A senior Saudi official was directly involved in the assassination of top Hizbullah commander Imad Mugniyah, the Iranian news agency Fars reported Tuesday. According to the report, the man, who works at the Saudi embassy in Damascus, contacted a Syrian woman who purchased two cars under her name, which exploded during the assassination. The report went on to say that the Syrian security forces had reached this conclusion two days after Mugniyah’s assassination, but that Damascus decided to wait before making the announcement in order not to overcloud the Arab League summit. The Syrian investigation findings are still being delayed. However, according to the Iranian news agency, the Syrians believe that senior officials. . .

Violence marks fall of Baghdad
Al Jazeera 4/9/2008
At least 20 people have been killed in Baghdad’s Sadr City district despite a ban on vehicles in the capital to prevent unrest five years after its fall to US forces. On Wednesday, at least three mortars hit the neighbourhood in the east of Baghdad while Shia fighters clashed with US and Iraqi government forces. "The floor of the hospital is covered with the blood of children," Dr Qasim al-Mudalla, manager of the Imam Ali hospital in Sadr City, said. He said that four children and two women were among the 11 bodies brought in. The US military said two more American soldiers had been killed during the clashes, raising the toll to 13 since the fighting flared on Sunday. The Iraqi parliament’s Human Rights Committee has warned that a "tragic situation" is developing in Sadr City, where. . .

Solidere denies plan to demolish synagogue
Daily Star 4/10/2008
BEIRUT: Real-estate behemoth Solidere on Wednesday denied media rumors that it planned to demolish the Maghen Abraham Synagogue at Wadi Abu Jamil in Beirut’s Downtown. The synagogue and the plot of land on which it stands belong to the members of the Jewish Lebanese community, and they will decide what to do with the site, Solidere public relations officer Nabil Rached told The Daily Star on Wednesday. Like other religious edifices in the city center, the synagogue will be renovated by the relevant religious community when it decides to do so, he added. "Solidere finds it quite strange that such rumors should circulate at this time, in spite of its recent statement" that it would not destroy the synagogue, Solidere also said in a statement. "The preservation of the synagogue falls within the important objective of the Beirut city center reconstruction master plan to conserve the places. . .

More time requested for Hariri killing probe
Middle East Online 4/9/2008
UNITED NATIONS - The head of the UN panel probing the 2005 killing of Lebanese ex-premier Rafiq Hariri on Tuesday cautioned against expecting early indictments and urged the Security Council to give his team more time to complete its work. "While the preparatory steps for the establishment of the special tribunal (that will try suspects in the case) are continuing, I would request this distinguished council to consider extending the mandate of this commission beyond" next June 15, Daniel Bellemare told the 15-member body. South Africa’s UN ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, the council chair this month, later told reporters that members generally welcomed Bellemare’s request for a six-month extension as well as the progress made in the probe. In his first appearance before the council since he took office last January, the Canadian former prosecutor also disclosed that indictments in. . .

King Abdullah visits Egypt for talks on Arab crises
Compiled by, Daily Star 4/10/2008
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak hosted Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdel-Aziz on Wednesday for a summit that was expected to focus on the power struggle in Lebanon, the war in Iraq, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the paltry state of inter-Arab relations. The two US-backed leaders - both of whom boycotted the recent Arab League summit in Damascus to protest Syria’s alleged meddling in Lebanese politics - met in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Riyadh and Cairo have also adopted similar stances over Iraq, where they have resisted US demands to open embassies because of the poor security situation, and Palestine, where they have placed most of the blame for the Hamas-Fatah split on the former. As The Daily Star went to press, no details of the meetings had been released by the participants or their spokespersons.

Polish PM: Iran’s comments on Israel annuls right to place in int’l community
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 4/10/2008
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk stressed on Wednesday that Poland stands alongside Israel on the issue of the threat posed by Iran, maintaining that Poland "has no doubt that Iran’s words toward Israel cancels its right to a place in the international community. "Tusk emphasized his country’s alliance with Israel with regard to Iran, saying that "if there are exceptions in Europe with regard to the Iran issue, it is definitely not Poland," speaking at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem. He maintained that Poland will "continue following this matter; the European Union must take a firmer stance on this issue than it has done. " This marks Tusk’s first visit to Israel, and the first visit by a Polish leader in nearly a decade.

Picture Post: The fall of Saddam -- and ’the green blob’
Kim Sengupta, The Independent 4/9/2008
When the statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down in Firdous Square, Baghdad, five years ago this week, I was standing next to Col Brian P McCoy of the American marines, who had led the US force into that section of the city. It was the iconic moment in the Iraq war, a symbol, as the Americans wanted to portray it, of "liberation". But the script began to fall towards farce even as the attempts began. The 30ft edifice simply would not come down, despite desperate efforts. At the end they brought in a Hercules, a vehicle used to salvage broken 75-ton tanks, which smashed down the steps to the plinth along the way. At last the statue fell, and the Americans had their symbol of victory. Then there was the "jubilant crowd", as portrayed on Western television, taking part in the ritualised downfall of a tyrant. But that, we subsequently discovered, was not quite the true picture.

Riding the Tiger
Patrick Cockburn, Middle East Online 4/9/2008
Muqtada al-Sadr and the American Dilemma in Iraq - Muqtada al-Sadr is the most important and surprising figure to emerge in Iraq since the US invasion. He is the Messianic leader of the religious and political movement of the impoverished Shia underclass whose lives were ruined by a quarter of a century of war, repression, and sanctions. From the moment he unexpectedly appeared in the dying days of Saddam Hussein’s regime, US emissaries and Iraqi politicians underestimated him. So far from being the "firebrand cleric" as the Western media often described him, he often proved astute and cautious in leading his followers. During the battle for Najaf with US Marines in 2004, the US "surge" of 2007, and the escalating war with the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, he generally sought compromise rather than confrontation.


New York commemorates Deir Yassin massacre
Press release, Adalah-NY, Electronic Intifada 4/9/2008
      Over 80 New Yorkers from diverse communities gathered last Saturday, 5 April in the Salam Lutheran Church in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Deir Yassin massacre, which occurred on 9 April 1948.Speakers discussed the need to redress the human rights violations that Israel committed in 1948 as a step towards a just future. The audience included a blend of ethnic groups and faiths from around the city. The event, which featured talks by Muhammad Jaradat, a co-founder of the Badil Resource Center in Bethlehem, and Eitan Bronstein, Director of the Israeli organization Zochrot, was part of a year-long series of activities to celebrate the Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe when Palestinians were dispossessed of their homeland.
     The commemoration began with poetry about Deir Yassin and a slide show on the massacre. From 1947-49, the Zionist movement, and later the Israeli military, expelled nearly 800,000 Palestinians from their homes and properties. The Zionist leadership destroyed some 418 villages (and by some counts over 500), and renamed the areas, as though the villages had never existed. As part of this greater campaign to expel the indigenous Palestinian inhabitants of the country, the Zionist militias Irgun, the Stern Gang and the Haganah (which were later to form the Israeli army) attacked the village of Deir Yassin, near Jerusalem. In the battle and massacre that followed, between 107 and 120 Palestinians, including women and children, were killed.

Settlement Bloc Expansion is the most Destructive

Yariv Oppenheimer, MIFTAH 4/9/2008
      Recently, the Israeli and international media has featured reports on progress in peace negotiations. Chief negotiators Ahmed Qurei and Tzippi Livni maintain silence about the details, but allow that the talks are ongoing, detailed and purposeful. Now of all times, when the core issues never before discussed appear to be on the agenda, the negotiating theater seems to be infinitely distant from the reality unfolding on the ground.
     While the negotiating teams are discussing the ways and principles for partitioning the Land of Israel, the reality on the ground makes it increasingly difficult to establish a sovereign Palestinian state. From week to week, there are more voices on both sides arguing that it has become physically impossible to remove the West Bank settlements and that accordingly the two-state solution is history. The original goal of the settler leaders to prevent any future national leadership from dividing the land is closer than ever to fruition, as the settlements continue to spread.

Take a Look in the Mirror, Israel

Joharah Baker, MIFTAH 4/9/2008
      The Israeli daily Haaretz reported today that Israel would deny entry to Richard Falk, appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate human rights violations by Israel. Falk is apparently persona non grata in Israel for comments he made comparing Israel to the Nazis.
     We all know Israel does not take to criticism well but it is most livid when it comes to any reference to the Holocaust. Is it possible that Israel’s radical response is simply a reaction to the fact that Falk’s comments hit too close to home?
     It was not long ago that a member of Israel’s highest political echelons made an offensive comment that could only be construed as a direct reference to the Holocaust. Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said last February that Palestinians could face a bigger “shoah” [the Hebrew word for Holocaust] if the rocket attacks on Israeli territory did not cease.
     Of course, Israel mopped up its media mess almost immediately after it was spilled, saying shoah actually means disaster and was not necessarily synonymous with Holocaust. However, the comparison was not lost on anyone and the statement begged the question of why an Israeli official would handpick this word to use in reference to the Palestinians.

The Settlements are the Biggest Impediment to Security

Yossi Alpher, MIFTAH 4/9/2008
      At the very heart of the roadmap phase I issues that dominated US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s visit a week ago are security and settlements. The West Bank-based Palestinian leadership that Israel is negotiating with has little to brag about in terms of improving security. But at least it is sincerely trying. The Olmert government is not trying as hard, particularly with regard to settlements. And settlements are the biggest impediment to security.
     On the occasion of Rice’s visit, Defense Minister Ehud Barak yielded to American pressure and offered a series of modest security concessions. These included the deployment of 25 Palestinian security force APCs in the West Bank and of some 700 Palestinian policemen in Jenin, the removal of a checkpoint near Rimonim east of Ramallah and the opening of 50 earth roadblocks preventing transportation between villages and main roads. These represent the minimum that Barak apparently believes the IDF can implement without risking security damage.

A Disturbingly Juvenile View of Islam

Rami Khouri, Middle East Online 4/9/2008
      BOSTON -- The United States is a confused and frustrated country when it comes to dealing with the wide variety of voices and actions coming out of Islamic societies. Everywhere in the public sphere, discussions of foreign policy issues inevitably touch on how to deal with “Islamic extremism,” often revolving around the “terrorism” and “violence” of Hamas, Hizbullah, Iran, Muqtada Sadr and other such parties that the United States dislikes.
     The debate on these issues in the United States is disturbingly juvenile. I have rarely if ever heard discussions in this country about ordinary, normal, non-violent Arabs and Muslims who make up 99 percent of their societies. Only the intemperate and militant in the Arab/Islamic world are seen and discussed in America.
     The really troubling aspect of this is that the tendency to view entire societies through the lens of a few rascals, criminals and militants is not confined to racists. Politicians and experienced public servants alike frequently offer rhetoric that veers uncomfortably close to the hateful, vengeful rants of radio and television demagogues and purveyors of filth. The widespread fear of and criticism of Arabs/Muslims broadly fails to differentiate between a small number of criminal terrorists and the vast majority of Arabs/Muslims who are peace-loving citizens of their societies.

The Invisible Right

Rafat Shomali, Palestine News Network 4/9/2008
      Bethlehem - I demand an explanation to a question, a question I just can’t understand, "Why do the Israelis always remember their past and we are asked to forget ours? Why are we asked to forget the 800,000 Palestinians expelled from their home lands in 1948?
     During the time when the world is mourning the tragic event of the Holocaust, Palestinians are entering their own version of the Holocaust in which generations of Palestinians were uprooted from this land.
     Why are we asked to forget the past which the world views as non constructive for a peace solution, whileIsrael makes plans toconstruct a wallto make us forget our future as well. How can we be asked to forget about 530 villages that were depopulated and destroyed, and how can the world not remember the 6,400,000 displaced Palestinian refugees, scattered around the world. Does giving a Home Land to the Jews means we have to become homeless?

Empty Gestures Destroy Credibility

Ghassan Khatib, MIFTAH 4/9/2008
      There would appear to be two strands of interaction between Palestinians and Israelis in the current negotiations process. One deals with final status issues and involves the top political leadership on both sides, Mahmoud Abbas and Ahmed Qurei and Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni. The other deals with day-to-day practicalities and is led by Salam Fayyad and Ehud Barak.
     Last week’s visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice resulted in all parties proclaiming progress on a number of issues. But those statements only served to leave the Palestinian public bemused. At the same time as these positive statements were made, the Israeli Peace Now organization released a settlement watch report that showed that construction and expansion of 101 illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem was continuing apace.
     The Peace Now report was well documented and carefully researched. It left little room for doubt. It also asserted that as well as "normal" settlements, construction and expansion of settlement outposts--which the Israeli government itself considers illegal and has committed to remove--continues. The expansions undertaken include an increase in the number of housing units, more and better infrastructure and an increase, in some cases, in the expanse of the settlements and the number of settlers.

Negotiating... or Just Talking?

Issa Samander, MIFTAH 4/9/2008
      Assad is a farmer from a small village near the northern West Bank town of Tulkarm. The family concern has done well over the years, producing some 12,500 liters of olive oil and three tons of almonds and other produce a year. It has been enough to establish Assad’s family in the middle class and pay for all his children to attend university.
     But this year, Assad’s family had to buy olive oil for domestic consumption. Why? Assad’s land, in the illegally Israeli-occupied West Bank, is on the wrong side of Israel’s illegally built wall. He is unable to harvest and unable to reap. His livelihood is devastated through no fault of his own.
     Assad is neither unique nor special. His fate is the fate of thousands of Palestinian farmers who greet every statement about progress in negotiations with disdain. They know, we all know, that what is said on the news simply does not reflect what happens on the ground.

In Praise of Al Nakba

Salman Abu Sitta, MIFTAH 4/9/2008
      To Palestinians, as well as to an increasing number of people the world over, Al-Nakba represents the largest, longest, planned ethnic cleansing in modern history for which reason the title under which this article appears may appear at first sight cynical, if not downright offensive.
     The trauma of Al-Nakba is imprinted on the psyche of every Palestinian, on those that witnessed it as well as those that did not. They have all suffered, and in a multitude of ways: they lost their livelihoods, nationality, identity and, above all, their homes. In order to survive Palestinians were forced to defend themselves, fighting on many fronts.
     The sheer size of Al-Nakba is overwhelming. Over three quarters of Palestine was conquered in 1948 by Israeli forces that staged their attacks from bases on land acquired during the British Mandate, as a direct result of British policy or with British collusion.
     Some 675 towns and villages were seized and their populations forcibly removed or massacred. On the day that Israel came in to existence 85 per cent of Palestinians whose homes had been on the land occupied by the newly created state found themselves refugees, and remain so until today.