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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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11 April 2008


8 dead, including 4 children, 28 wounded in Israeli strikes on Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 4/11/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Eight Palestinians have been killed since Friday morning, the majority of them children, and 28 people injured in ongoing Israeli bombardments and airstrikes on homes, belonging to both civilians and resistance fighters, in the Al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. Four children were killed and a number of people were wounded in an airstrike on civilian houses. Palestinian medical sources told Ma’an that the four dead children were taken to the Al-Aqsa Hospital. Six civilians were also injured when Israeli tanks shelled civilian houses in the Al-Bureij refugee camp. The sources also said that 12-year-old Riyadh Awisi died of injuries he sustained during clashes that took place east of the Bureij refugee camp. Five other civilians were also wounded. Two resistance fighters from the Al-Qassam Brigades, Muhammad An-Najar and Amin An-Najar,. . .

Multiple invasions in Beita as Israeli army install new permanent checkpoint
International Solidarity Movement 4/11/2008
Nablus Region - Photos - The village of Beita, 7 kilometres south-west of Nablus is currently closed to all traffic, after the Israeli army installed roadblocks on all of the roads leading into the village. The earth-mounds were installed three nights ago, in the early hours of Wednesday 9th April, during a large-scale invasion of the village, which coincided with the largest series of invasions and raids across the West Bank in months. Invasions of the village have continued for the past three nights, with residents expecting another invasion tonight, 11th April. Six people have been arrested throughout the invasions, and approximately ten houses invaded and occupied by Israeli soldiers. Soldiers reportedly caused a great deal of damage to the houses they occupied, shooting water tanks, windows, breaking water pipes and other fixtures - much like the damage they inflicted during the invasion of 20th-21st February 2008.

UN: Israel’s removal of W. Bank roadblocks fall short of promise
Akiva Eldar and Reuters, Ha’aretz 4/12/2008
Israel has removed 44 roadblocks in the West Bank, short of the number promised to U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a United Nations agency has found. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said most of the roadblocks removed were of little or no significance. OCHA, which charts the location of roadblocks in the West Bank, conducted its own field survey of the 61 obstacles that Israel said it removed earlier this month after Rice’s visit. The agency found that 44 of the 61 obstacles had been removed, six remained and 11 could not be found, according to a preliminary report presented to Western donors. The Israel Defense Forces announced last week the removal of 50 roadblocks plus one checkpoint, as promised to Rice.

Beita village under Israeli closure after Israeli bus attack
Ma’an News Agency 4/11/2008
Nablus – Ma’an - Israeli forces imposed a total closure on the village of Beita south of Nablus since the early hours of Friday morning after an Israeli vehicle was shot at on Thursday. Eyewitnesses told Ma’an’s Nablus correspondent that Israeli military bulldozers have closed the main entrance to the village with dirt mounds and erected a number of military checkpoints in the area around the village. Witnesses added that Israeli troops attacked Palestinian vehicles that tried to bypass the checkpoint by using other roads out of the village. People trying to do so were detained. This Israeli radio reported this morning that an Israeli bus was shot at by Palestinian gunmen at a crossroads near Beita. No one was injured.

Iran’s UN ambassador files complaint against Minister Ben-Eliezer
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 4/11/2008
Iran files official complaint against Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer citing his threat to ’devastate Iranian nation’ should it strike Israel. Complaint - fourth in 24 months - The Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammad Khazaee, filed an official letter of complaint against National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer Friday, citing his threats to obliterate Iran should it attack Israel. Ben-Eliezer, speaking during the national emergency drill held in Israel during the week, warned Iran any such strike would carry "severe repercussions"; and added that the drill "does not simulate a fictitious situation. I think the future will be much harder that the reality we are familiar with. "Khazaee filed the letter with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, noting that Ben-Eliezer’s remarks were "another example of the aggressive, terrorist nature of the Zionist regime"; and called on the UN Security Council to take action.

IMEMC: Israeli army prevents Israelis from joining non-violet demonstration in Al-Khader
IMEMC, International Solidarity Movement 4/11/2008
Photos - Bethlehem Region - The Israeli army prevented a number of Israeli peace activists to join the Palestinian residents of Al-Khader in their weekly nonviolent protest against the construction of the separation wall on their land on Friday at noon. Eyewitnesses told IMEMC that troops stopped the Israeli activists and took the keys of their cars at one of the entrances of the village, and informed the activists that they will get their keys back only if they are going back to Jerusalem. Coordinator of the Local Committee for Popular Resistance in Bethlehem Samer Jaber, said "This is an attempt by Israel to prevent solidarity with the Palestinians in their just struggle to end the Israeli occupation. " "Israel has prevented hundreds, if not thousands, of Internationals to come to Palestine the moment they figured out that. . .

Rice condemns Carter’s Hamas plans
Al Jazeera 4/11/2008
Condoleezza Rice has criticised reported plans by former US president Jimmy Carter to meet a senior Hamas leader in Syria next week. "I find it hard to understand what is to be gained by having discussions with Hamas about peace when Hamas is in fact the impediment to peace," the US secretary of state said in Washington on Friday. Carter, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, could meet Khalid Meshaal, the exiled leader of Hamas, during a trip to the Middle East that begins on Sunday. Hamas has said the meeting will take place but Carter is yet to confirm it. The US state department has urged Carter not to violate foreign policy by meeting Hamas’s political leader. Rice, who has sought Carter’s advice on Middle East negotiations in the past, described Hamas as "terrorist organisation", that has refused "opportunities to come into line with international standards concerning the Middle East".

Torch of armed resistance rekindles in W. Bank
Palestinian Information Center 4/11/2008
Tulkarem/NABLUS, [pic]-- The torch of the armed Palestinian resistance in the West Bank has apparently rekindles after the Israeli occupation army confirmed on Friday that the frequency of Palestinian armed attacks against Israeli soldiers and settlers increased rapidly over the past few days. According to records of the Israeli occupation army, two Palestinian armed attacks against Israeli soldiers took place in Tulkarem and Nablus cities in which the Palestinian attackers used machineguns, bombs, and Molotov bombs. In addition, the Israeli occupation army acknowledged that two Israeli settlers’ buses were attacked with bullets and Molotov bombs near Nablus city. An Israeli military spokesman alleged that none of the soldiers or of the Israeli settlers was harmed in the two attacks, adding that large numbers of IOF troops were dispatched to the two accident scenes in search of the Palestinian assailants.

Two Al-Qassam activists killed; number of casualties in Israeli raid on Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 4/11/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - Two members of the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, were killed and a number of people were wounded in a series of attacks targeting Palestinian resistance fighters east of Al-Khaza’a in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday. Medical sources said that Al-Qassam Brigades affiliates Mohammed Mustafa Najjar and Amin Najjar were killed in an Israeli air raid out by east of Al-Khaza’a. A number of other people were injured in the attack and were taken to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. Two days ago Israeli forces stormed Al-Khaza’a and an Israeli soldier was killed during the incursion. On Friday morning, Palestinian sources reported an Israeli incursion east of Al- Bureij camp in the central Gaza Strip during which bulldozers razed agricultural land in the region. The sources told Ma’an that since dawn on Friday a number of clashes had occurred. . .

Two raids in East Jerusalem, 17 year old taken from his home
Palestine News Network 4/11/2008
Jerusalem / PNN -- A large number of Israeli army and border guards, accompanied by Israeli intelligence officer, raided the neighborhood of Eizariya in East Jerusalem. The broke into the home of a 50 year old man and arrested his teenaged child. Walid Ibrahim Seratan’s son, 17 year old Ahmed, is now in an undisclosed location, arrested for a reason unknown. The family reports feeling "terrorized" by the actions of the Israeli military inside their home, which includes children younger than Ahmed. In other East Jerusalem raids in the Eizariya neighborhood, Israeli forces broke into the home of 57 year old Ahmed Mohammad Aermin. They forced family member Ala’ Aermin outside for interrogation along with his father.

Israeli tanks cross into Gaza
Agence France-Presse, ReliefWeb 4/11/2008
GAZA CITY, April 11, 2008 (AFP) -Several Israeli tanks and bulldozers crossed into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Friday and engaged in a gunbattle with militants, Palestinian security sources and the military said. Ten tanks and two bulldozers entered one kilometre (0. 6 miles) into Gaza, west of the Bureij refugee camp, drawing heavy fire from Palestinian militants, the sources said. An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed forces were operating in Gaza and had come under gun and mortar fire. The incursion comes after two Hamas militants were killed in an Israeli air strike in southern Gaza late on Thursday, and two days after militants carried out a cross-border raid where two Israelis were killed.

Gaza sniper fires at Israeli farmers; no injuries
Yonat Atlas, YNetNews 4/11/2008
Farmers shot at while working in fields of Kibbutz Nir Oz for second time this month; bullet hits tractor - A Palestinian sniper in Gaza opened fire Friday at Israeli farmers who were cultivating lands belonging to Kibbutz Nir Oz. No injuries were reported but a tractor was damaged. The incident marks the second time this month that a Palestinian sniper targeted the Nir Oz farmers, who use armored tractors for protection. Uri Dan, head of security at the western Negev kibbutz, said that during today’s incident the single 0. 5 millimeter bullet that was fired in the farmers’ direction hit a tractor’s bullet-proof glass shield. [end]

Israeli forces storm Silwad; seize Palestinian
Ma’an News Agency 4/11/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an - Israeli forces seized a Palestinian from the town of Silwad north-east of Jerusalem in the early hours of Friday. Local sources said that several Israeli military vehicles entered the town at 1:30am and arrested 23-year-old Amr Ahmed Hamid after raiding his house and destroying its contents. He was transferred to an unknown destination. The sources said that the Israeli forces had searched several houses in the area. The same sources said that the army handed over a number of citizens to the Israeli intelligence. [end]

Al-Quds Brigades launch RPG at Israeli tank
Ma’an News Agency 4/11/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - The Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for launching a rocket propelled grenade at an Israeli tank east of Al-Bureij camp in the central Gaza Strip on Friday. The brigades confirmed that one of their members targeted an Israeli tank. They said their operation comes in the framework of responding to the continuing aggression against the Palestinian people and in response to the ongoing persecution. [end]

Israeli forces come under attack in West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 4/11/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - An Israeli force was attacked with explosive devices in the city of Tulkarem in the northern West Bank on Friday at dawn. There are no reports of any injuries. Israeli sources also said that Palestinian resistance fighters threw a number of bombs and inflammable bottles at the Israeli force that was on a "security activity" in Jenin in the northern West Bank. No injuries were reported. [end]

Israeli nuclear whistleblower Vanunu seeks asylum in Norway
Reuters, Ha’aretz 4/12/2008
OSLO - Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu has asked for asylum in Norway for a second time, Norwegian officials said on Friday, but they held out no hope that he would be accepted. Vanunu, whom Israeli authorities have barred from leaving Israel, sent his application directly to Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. His first asylum application to Norway in 2004 was rejected. "We received it yesterday and it has been sent to the Ministry of Labor and Social Inclusion, which will handle it," a spokeswoman for the Norwegian prime minister’s office said. Vanunu was convicted of treason and imprisoned for 18 years after telling a British newspaper in 1986 about his work as a technician at Israel’s main atomic reactor, disclosures which cracked the secrecy around the assumed Israeli nuclear arsenal.

Israeli forces arrest Medical Relief volunteer
Ma’an News Agency 4/11/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Israeli forces arrested Qassem Ali Al-Qadi a volunteer in the Palestinian Medical Relief from Sourif, north of Hebron claiming he had been spotted too close to the separation wall. Medical Relief said an Israeli force raided the town of Sourif and searched Al-Qadi’s house before arresting him. He was taken to an unknown destination. [end]

Olmert threatens to paralyze Hamas’s strength
Palestinian Information Center 4/11/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, [PIC]-- Apparently shocked by the stunning Palestinian resistance attack on the Nahul Oz crossing point on Wednesday, Israeli premier Ehud Olmert threatened he will "paralyze" the activities of Hamas Movement. The attack on the IOF base in Nahul Oz killed three Israeli soldiers and wounded more than six others according to Israeli records. None of the attackers was harmed, Palestinian sources confirmed. Olmert’s pledge came as he addressed members of his Kadima ruling party where he vowed not to allow Hamas work in the same form she works today. Local observers considered the statements of Olmert and other Israeli officials in which they blamed Hamas for the attack although the Movement’s fighters weren’t part of the attacking team as a sign of "deep shock" over the stunning assault. Hebrew sources quoted Olmert as saying before his party members that Hamas. . .

Atarot airport near Jerusalem may be transferred to PA
Ma’an News Agency 4/11/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an –An agreements has been reached between Israel and the Palestinians on the transfer of Qalandia Airport - known by its Israeli name as Atarot Airport - north of Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority, the local Jerusalem newspaper Kol Hazman reported on Friday. The newspaper quoted important sources in the foreign ministry as saying that the Israelis and Palestinians reach an agreement during secret talks between Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and head of the Palestinian negotiating team Ahmed Qurei. "Israel has come to the conclusion that there is a need to reinforce the status of the current Palestinian moderates in the West Bank after Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip and the transfer of the airport to the Palestinian Authority could lead to such an outcome," the sources said. An Israeli government spokesperson refused to confirm or deny the. . .

Haneyya: Strategic relationship with Egypt bigger than differences
Palestinian Information Center 4/11/2008
GAZA, [PIC]-- The legitimate prime minister of the PA government Ismael Haneyya has affirmed on Thursday that the Palestinian-Egyptian relationship was and still strategic and brotherly, and couldn’t be affected with small differences in opinions. The prime minister also hailed Egypt’s role in defending the Palestinian issue against the Israeli plans to liquidate it, adding that Egypt was playing significant role in a number of hot files in the Palestinian arena, including the file of truce, the file of swapping of prisoners with the Israeli occupation government, and the file of national reconciliation. "Some differences that could arise while discussing the details were similar to the differences inside the one home and inside the one family, and thus, they won’t affect the deep relationship between the Palestinian and the Egyptian peoples who share the same destiny", asserted. . .

UN: Israel removed fewer roadblocks than promised
Reuters, YNetNews 4/11/2008
World body reports only 44 West Bank obstacles removed despite promise to Rice; most removed obstacles ’of little or no significance’ to Palestinians in the area, UN agency says - Israel has removed 44 roadblocks in the occupied West Bank, short of the number promised to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a United Nations agency has found. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said most of the roadblocks removed were of little or no significance. Palestinians say Israel’s network of hundreds of checkpoints and roadblocks amount to collective punishment, stifle their economy and undermine support for US-backed peace talks. Israel says the barriers are needed to stop suicide bombers from reaching its cities. OCHA, which charts the location of roadblocks in the West Bank, conducted its own field survey of the. . .

Egypt confirms Mideast summit is under discussion
Reuters, YNetNews 4/11/2008
Plans under way for Bush to meet Abbas, possibly other Arab leaders at Sharm el-Sheikh in May, Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman says - CAIRO - A Middle East summit meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in May is under discussion, the Egyptian foreign ministry said on Friday. Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki, quoted by the state news agency MENA, said the idea was to hold the summit on the sidelines of a World Economic Forum meeting which is taking place in the town between May 18 and 20. He did not say who might take part but MENA said the idea was to have US President George W. Bush and Egyptian, Jordanian and Palestinian leaders talk about Middle East peace. Diplomats and Palestinian officials said on Wednesday that plans were under way for Bush to meet

Hussein Al-Sheikh: Jericho Bridge to open till 8 p.m.
Ma’an News Agency 4/11/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - The Palestinian Authority has made an agreement with Israel to open the Al-Karameh bridge, linking Jordan and Jerico from 8 am until 8 pm throughout the week except Friday and Saturday, according to Hussein Al-Sheikh the former chief of the Civil Affairs. On Friday and Saturday the bridge will open from 8 am to 12 pm. In an exclusive interview with Ma’an he said that the new opening times will begin on Sunday. These opening times were in operation until the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in the year 2000 when Israel stopped Palestinian passengers from crossing the bridge during evenings. [end]

Hamas continues charitable giving
Palestine News Network 4/11/2008
Gaza / PNN - "With an eye toward alleviating the suffering of the Palestinian people," the elected Prime Minister, Ismail Haniya says, he is allocating one million dollars to families in need. Haniya, ousted by President Abbas, still keeps his title in the Gaza Strip where the funds are to be dispersed to 10,000 families. He said that of particular import are those who do not already received monthly assistance from the Ministry of Social Affairs. The Hamas party is well known for its charitable giving, while in the West Bank the Israeli military is now forcibly closing charities and orphanages in the ongoing crusade against the party. The Israeli government publically threatened Hamas leaders, among them elected officials, with assassination. A Hamas spokesperson, Taher Nono, added that Haniya is calling upon the "sons of the Arab and Islamic nation to help provide for the steadfastness of the Palestinian people.

Palestinian women artist exhibit at Palestinian National Theater in Jerusalem
Palestine News Network 4/11/2008
Jerusalem / PNN- After opening to critical acclaim in Ramallah last month, a women’s art exhibit has moved on to Jerusalem, opening to a teeming crowd at the Palestinian National Theater, Al Hakawati. This comes just a month after Israeli forces shut-down a Palestinian cultural festival in East Jerusalem in an attempt to "not only destroy our political rights, but our cultural hertiage as well," reported Sami Awad, Director of the Bethlehem NGO specializing in nonviolent resistance, Holy Land Trust. Another photography exhibit by Khaled Jarrar, entitled, "Passage," opened in Ramallah yesterday evening at 6:00. His alarming collection is entitled, "Passage. "The photo featured here is his. The exhibit features pieces by 12 Palestinian female artists that were created during a month-long workshop led by Arab-American artist Helen Zughaib and sponsored jointly by the Palestinian. . .

Israel kills six Palestinians, including 10-year-old
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 4/12/2008
Jewish state sends tanks, armored bulldozers into gaza in bid to push militants back from border -- A 10-year-old boy was among six Palestinians killed Friday when Israeli tanks and helicopters opened fire inside the Gaza Strip after Israel vowed to retaliate for a border attack. Before the operation was launched in central Gaza, two Hamas militants were killed in an air strike. At least 25 more Palestinians were wounded in Friday’s incursion, including three children who suffered severe wounds, medics said. Riyad Owayssi, 10, stood with dozens of children near the tanks, outside the Bureij refugee camp, when he was fatally hit, medics said. Four other Palestinians were killed, including three teenagers who were in a house which was hit by Israeli fire. Militants had targeted the troops from outside the house but fled before the Israelis opened fire, witnesses said. Israeli tanks and armored bulldozers, backed by assault helicopters, entered 1 kilometer into central Gaza early Friday morning, drawing heavy fire from militants.

Thousands attend N Gaza funeral for armed resistance member
Palestine News Network 4/11/2008
Gaza / PNN- Thousands of people walked in the funeral procession of just one of the seven Palestinians killed on Wednesday in the Gaza Strip during resistance fighting and Israeli attacks on civilians. The march, described as "solemn," began at the mosque in the northern Strip’s Jabaliya Refugee Camp mosque. The body of Ahmed Abu Nasser was carried on a stretcher, held by family and friends. Among the thousands of mourners were those of the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the armed resistance wing of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, to which Abu Nasser belonged. The procession headed to the cemetery in Beit Lahia, further north in the Gaza Strip. At a point the quiet of the crowd broke out into shouts of grief and anger. Several of those walking held banners against the practices of occupation, calling for an end to the siege and attacks, all the while supporting the legal right to armed resistance.

Israeli strikes kill 2 Hamas gunmen in Gaza
Reuters, YNetNews 4/11/2008
IDF says carried out air strike targeting terrorists in Hamas-controlled territory. Palestinian medical workers say seven other gunmen wounded in two air strikes outside southern Gaza city of Khan Younis - Israeli air strikes killed at least two Hamas gunmen in the Gaza Strip on Friday, Hamas and medical workers said. An Israeli army spokeswoman said the IDF had carried out an air strike targeting gunmen in the Hamas-controlled territory. Palestinian medical workers said seven other gunmen were wounded in two air strikes outside the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis near the border fence with Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Thursday vowed Israel would strike Hamas after Gaza militants killed two Israeli civilians at a border terminal with Israel. Hamas Islamists seized Gaza after routing forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah in June.

Palestinian resistance fighters demonstrate exemplary heroism in blocking IOF
Palestinian Information Center 4/11/2008
GAZA, [PIC]-- Fighters of the Palestinian resistance factions were reportedly blocking the invading IOF troops with exemplary heroism, and that they destroyed number IOF military vehicles in Al-Buraij refugee camp, in central Gaza Strip Friday. Palestinian local sources revealed that IOF Special Forces backed with tanks and choppers adventured in to the refugee camp and occupied a number of Palestinian homes before turning them as barracks and hideout for Israeli snipers. At least two Palestinian citizens were reportedly wounded after Israeli tanks unleashed their projectiles at a number of Palestinian homes in the area. PIC correspondent in the area asserted that Palestinian resistance fighters led by the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas Movement, fired tens of the locally-made mortar shells at IOF tanks and positions inflicting damage on a number of them.

Boy, three others killed in Israeli raid in Gaza
Middle East Online 4/11/2008
A 10-year-old boy was among four Palestinians killed on Friday when Israeli tanks and helicopters opened fire inside the Gaza Strip after Israel vowed to retaliate for a border attack. A further 25 Palestinians were wounded, including three children who suffered severe wounds, medics said. Riyad Owayssi, 10, stood with dozens of children near the tanks, outside the Bureij refugee camp, when he was fatally hit, medics said, while three other civilians were killed when a house was hit by tank and helicopter fire. Minutes earlier, militants had targeted the Israeli force from outside the house, but managed to get away before the building came under fire, witnesses said. Ten tanks and two armoured bulldozers, backed by two assault helicopters, entered one kilometre (0. 6 mile) into Gaza early Friday morning, drawing heavy fire from militants, medics said.

Report: IDF fire in gaza kills 8
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 4/11/2008
Palestinians report death toll in IDF operation in northern Gaza Strip up to eight, including one boy, three teens; 28 wounded. IDF says gunmen using civilians as shields - The Palestinian News Agency Maan reported Friday that eight people were killed and 28 others wounded in a clash between IDF forces and Palestinian gunmen in the northern Gaza Strip. According to medical sources in the Strip, a 12-year old boy and three youths, ages 17 to 19, were among the dead. The IDF said it was looking into the allegations, adding that in several cases during the day, Palestinian gunmen were firing at IDF soldiers while using civilian crowds, including children, as shields. The IDF further reported an anti-tank missile was fired on the troops. No casualties were reported among IDF soldiers.

VIDEO - IDF hits cell responsible for Nahal Oz Attack
YNetNews 4/11/2008
The Israeli Air Force launched several strikes on the Gaza Strip following Wednesday’s attack on the Nahal Oz fuel terminal, which left two Israelis dead. Ynet has secured footage of one of the strikes, which targeted two of the terrorist who were involved in the deadly assault. (04. 11. 08) Video: Footage courtesy of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit Author: Hanan Greenberg [end]

Inauguration of UN housing near devastated Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon
United Nations News Service, ReliefWeb 4/11/2008
The United Nations agency tasked with assisting Palestinian refugees said today that it had inaugurated 150 new concrete units to house families from a Lebanese camp that was the scene of months of fighting last year between the national army and Fatah el-Islam gunmen. The new housing near the devastated Nahr El Bared camp lowers pressure on the nearby Beddawi camp, where many refugees had fled the fighting, a spokesperson from the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said at a press conference in Geneva. In the largest undertaking in its history, UNWRA is planning to rebuild the Nahr El Bared camp, which was in essence a complete town of over 30,000 inhabitants before it was destroyed by intense combat between May and September 2007. The long-term reconstruction will cost around $200 million, the agency said, adding that it will soon announce the date of a pledging conference to support the project.

Food and energy situation in Gaza still ’very difficult’ – UN agency
United Nations News Service, ReliefWeb 4/11/2008
Food, energy and other basics of life in the Gaza Strip, where severe restrictions by Israel on the movement of people and goods have been in effect since Hamas’ takeover in June 2007, continue to be in short supply, the United Nations reported today. According to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), only 2,400 trucks entered the coastal enclave last month, down from more than 10,000 trucks that entered in March 2007. The agency added that a scarcity of animal feed is causing meat prices to skyrocket and it has had to expand its school feeding programme to meet the needs of some 110,000 Gazan children in around 110 schools everyday. In addition, UNRWA said that it has been providing more than 110,000 litres of diesel fuel to municipalities each month for solid waste management but that a lack of electricity often forces coastal municipalities to dump their sewage into the sea.

Parents of Briton killed by IDF fire in Gaza seek compensation
Ynet, YNetNews 4/11/2008
’We claim that the denial to the family of fair and just compensation amounts to supporting a policy of indifference and disregard for innocent civilians,’ Tom Hurndall’s parents say in letter to Israeli ambassador to London, adding they faced a ’wall of deceit and fabrication over the shooting’ - The parents of British student British student Tom Hurndall, who was fatally shot by an IDF soldier in Gaza five years ago, are demanding compensation from the Israeli government and a formal apology as they try to build a criminal case against senior Israeli army officers, The Guardian reported on Friday. According to the British newspaper, his parents, Jocelyn and Anthony Hurndall, wrote to Israeli ambassador in London, Ron Prosor and asked for an urgent meeting. The family is still trying to gather sufficient evidence to bring war crimes charges in Britain against several Israeli army officers, the report said.

Iran slams Ben-Eliezer’s threat of massive counter-strike
Shlomo Shamir and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 4/12/2008
Tehran on Wednesday blasted as "scandalous" and "insulting" a threat made by National Infrastructure Minister Benyamin Ben-Eliezer this week of a devastating response to an Iranian attack on Israel. Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations stated that Ben-Eliezer’s statement was part of "the continuing warnings made by Israeli representatives that constitute insulting and scandalous threats against the Republic of Iran. "Muhammad Kazai, the Iranian envoy, made the comments in a letter that was sent Thursday to the UN Security Council. Ben-Eliezer said Monday that, "an Iranian attack on Israel will lead to a harsh response by Israel that will cause the destruction of the Iranian nation. "The national infrastructure minister was speaking during a visit to the Infrastructure Ministry war room, which was being prepared as part of the civil defense drill this week.

Barack Obama campaign launches Hebrew blog in Israel
The Associated Press and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 4/12/2008
Barack Obama has launched a Hebrew blog in Israel, which an aide Eric Lynn says Obama hopes will help strengthen his ties with the Israeli public. The blog that opened Friday includes Obama’s speech to a pro-Israel lobby in March. Lynn says at the bottom of the blog that Obama is committed to Israel’s security. The Yediot Ahronot newspaper reported Friday that Obama’s campaign insisted that the blog be opened before the Democratic primary April 22 in Pennsylvania. The state has a large Jewish population. Obama’s staff has worked hard to disprove a mass e-mail campaign, which had leveled a succession of allegations against the candidate, branding him a secret anti-Semite, a closet Muslim who took his official oath of office with his hand on the Koran instead of the Bible, and a disciple of fiery Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

Obama declines to criticize Carter on Hamas
Reuters, YNetNews 4/11/2008
Democratic presidential hopeful refuses to criticize former US President Carter’s plan to set up meeting with Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal. Move said to risk Jewish community’s support of his bid - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said on Friday it was not his place to criticize former President Jimmy Carter if he were to meet with Hamas, although Obama said he would not meet with the militant Palestinian group. Hamas says the meeting will take place but Carter has not provided any details of whom he plans to meet during his nine-day trip to the Middle East, which begins on Sunday. The Bush administration and close US ally Israel oppose the meeting. "I’m not going to comment on former President Carter. He’s a private citizen. It’s not my place to discuss who he shouldn’t meet with," Obama told reporters while campaigning in Indianapolis. "I know that I’ve said consistently that I would not meet with Hamas. "

Kandil accuses Egypt of participating in the siege on Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 4/11/2008
CAIRO, [PIC]-- Egyptian political activists Abdul Haleem Kandil has accused the government of his country of participating in the Israeli siege on Gaza, asserting that the tight Egyptian security measures at the Rafah crossing point substantiates his charges. In an interview with the Quds Press, Kandil, who is also a leader of the opposition Kefaya (enough) Movement, underlined, "This one form of the Egyptian government’s connivance with Israel against the Palestinian people in Gaza". "To my regret, the Egyptian stand over what is happening at the Rafah crossing point is attached to the American and Israeli stand as we could only find the Israeli occupation forces and the Egyptian security forces that besiege Gaza Strip, which per se unveils the nature of the Egyptian regime that exports gas and oil to Israel that enhances Israel’s capabilities in committing crimes against the Palestinian. . .

Shoshana Bryen , JINSA
Shmuel Rosner, Ha’aretz 4/11/2008
Security Policy director for JINSA will discuss Middle East policy. Readers can send questions. Shoshana Bryen is Security Policy Director fo The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). JINSA is "a non-profit, non-partisan and nonsectarian educational organization committed to explaining the need for a prudent national security policy for the United States, addressing the security requirements of both the United States and the State of Israel, and strengthening the strategic cooperation relationship between these two great democracies". From May 1981 to June 1991 Bryen served as JINSA’s Executive Director, presiding over the organization’s growth from a small working committee on American defense to a membership organization of over 17,000 people.

IDF soldiers ordered not to reveal too much on Facebook
Reuters, Ha’aretz 4/12/2008
Defense officials say they’ve identified an unlikely new threat to Israel’s national security - the popular social networking Website Facebook. A new list of rules aims to prevent Israel Defense Forces soldiers and Defense Ministry employees from revealing classified information on social networking sites. The officials say some soldiers have uploaded pictures of themselves with classified equipment and inadvertently revealed sensitive information. The guidelines released Thursday allow soldiers to create pages on networking sites as long as they don’t identify themselves as soldiers or reveal any information about what they do. The officials say defense authorities continue to surf the Net to make sure there are no further security breaches.

Israel Through Its Own Eyes
Al Jazeera 4/3/2008
In Israel Through Its Own Eyes Al Jazeera takes a frank look at Israel through the work of Israeli filmmakers who are able to offer us a glimpse into a world which would otherwise be unknown to those outside the country. The film One Shot by Nurit Kedar is a troubling look into the work and the minds of an elite team of Israeli army snipers who carry out assassinations. After five weeks of training an Israeli soldier can become a sniper if he chooses. The filmmaker spent a whole year getting all the necessary permits from the Israeli military authorities. This is the first time Israeli snipers were given permission to be interviewed for a film and Israeli military censors required the filmmaker to cover the faces of the soldiers who speak. By the director Lina Chaplin, Yoel, Israel and the Pashkavils takes us into the heart of a tiny self-made Jewish ghetto in Jerusalem.

US says Iranian boats ’taunted’ warships in Gulf waters, Iran denies confrontation
Daily Star 4/12/2008
Iranian boats engaged in a "mild" and "taunting" incident with a US warship in the Gulf, CNN television reported Friday, while a source in the navy of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards told Iran’s Al-Alam Arabic television that Iranian vessels did not engage in any kind of "confrontation. "Late Thursday the three small Iranian boats approached the USS Typhoon, the CNN report said. "One of those Iranian boats came within 200 yards of the navy boat," CNN reported, "leading the crew onboard the Typhoon to fire a warning flare. ""The Iranians were manning in a taunting manner," CNN said, citing an unidentified American official. On January five Iranian speed boats approached three US Navy warships in the same area, fueling tensions between the two countries. The Revolutionary Guards source, meanwhile, "denied any kind of confrontation between Iranian high-speed vessels and US ships," the state-run satellite channel said.

US to keep AP photographer in detention
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 4/12/2008
BAGHDAD: The US military will continue to hold an Iraqi news photographer arrested as a "terrorist" until it reviews an Iraqi order granting him amnesty, a spokesman for detainee affairs said on Friday. Lieutenant Commander Kenneth Marshall said the military was awaiting a report from the Iraqi authorities on the amnesty granted to AP photographer Bilal Hussein. Hussein, 36, has been held since he was detained on April 12, 2006, in Ramadi, 100 kilometers west of Baghdad. The US military accuses the photographer of being a "terrorist media operative" and says he had aroused suspicion because he was often at the scene of insurgent attacks as they occurred. He was detained after marines entered his house in Ramadi to establish a temporary observation post and allegedly found bomb-making materials, insurgent propaganda and a surveillance photograph of a US military installation.

Gunmen kill top Sadr aide, enrage cleric’s followers
Daily Star 4/12/2008
Gunmen shot dead a top aide to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Iraq’s holy city of Najaf Friday, sparking fury among his followers and calls for calm by senior Sadrists. The attack comes as Sadr’s Mehdi Army militia is engaged in deadly clashes with Iraqi security forces in their eastern Baghdad bastion of Sadr City and in the southern oil hub of Basra. Riyad al-Nuri, director of Sadr’s office in Najaf, was shot dead near his home as he returned from weekly Muslim prayers, Najaf police chief Major General Abdel-Karim Mustafa said. Police immediately imposed an indefinite curfew in the shrine city, as police set up roadblocks and drove through the city with loudspeakers ordering shops closed and people off the streets. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki strongly condemned the attack, while the Sadr movement blamed US forces "and others working with them. "

Rice: New Iran incentives, sanctions unlikely at this time
Reuters, YNetNews 4/12/2008
US Secretary of State reiterates concern over Iranian nuclear program, says US, UN must wait, see how Islamic Republic responds to latest sanctions - The United States will consider both fresh incentives or sanctions to persuade Iran to rein in its nuclear program but major changes are unlikely now, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Friday. "We will always continue to consider refreshing both tracks but this is not the time, I think, to expect major changes," Rice told reporters. "We have just passed a (UN) Security Council resolution (imposing additional sanctions) and we will see how Iran responds," she added at a news conference with Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Senior officials from the major powers dealing with Iran - the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China - are due to meet. . .

Delay in Mughniyeh probe results ’has irritated Iran’
Compiled by, Daily Star 4/12/2008
The probe into the assassination of top Hizbullah commander Imad Mughniyeh has put Syria in a precarious position as the inquiry failed to reach tangible results two months after the February 12 killing, Kuwaiti daily Al-Qabas quoted Arab intelligence sources as saying Friday. The sources added that the Syrian postponement of the publication of the result of the investigation "has irritated Iran. "The discontent extends to some Hizbullah leaders as well, the sources said. The sources said that Iran suspected possible Syrian involvement in the Mughniyeh assassination, especially after Damascus refrained from providing answers to Iranian questions around Kfar Soussa, the Syrian neighborhood where the assassination took place. Al-Qabas quoted the sources as saying "concern among the Iranian side is that Mughniyeh was assassinated after a secret meeting between the Iranian Revolutionary. . .

American envoy to UN may run against Karzai after quitting post
The Independent 4/11/2008
Zalmay Khalilzad, the American envoy to the United Nations and an influential figure in the Bush administration, may run against Hamid Karzai for the Afghan presidency after resigning from his post. Mr Khalilzad, who is Afghan-born, fuelled recurring reports of his political ambitions by appearing on television in Kabul to announce that he is to leave his job and wants to be "at the service of the Afghan people". Although Mr Khalilzad, who holds US citizenship, added: "I have said earlier that I am not a candidate for any position in Afghanistan," his decision to step down from the prestigious UN job has been widely regarded as clearing the way for a run at the Afghan leadership, with President Karzai facing serious and mounting internal and international criticism. But Mr Khalilzad has his own share of baggage.

Tehran keeps its options open
Kaveh L Afrasiabi, Asia Times 4/12/2008
Amid the avalanche of anti-Iran rhetoric reaching new heights, including the top US commander and US diplomat in Iraq accusing Tehran of "nefarious activities," US government officials have extended a tiny olive branch toward Iran by submitting a formal request for a fourth round of dialogue with Iran on the issue of Iraq’s security. According to Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Muhammad Ali Hosseini, the US request has been submitted through the Swiss Embassy in Iran, which is in charge of the United States’ interests in Iran, and is under consideration by Tehran. However, the Baghdad daily, al-Sabah, quoted Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Muhammad al-Haj Hmoud as saying US-Iran dialogue would take place within the next several days. The Iranian media have reported this news and yet, as of this writing, there has been no official Iranian confirmation of it.


In memory of Esther: Cinema Dunia
Raja Shehadeh, Electronic Intifada 4/10/2008
      When I think of cinema in Ramallah, I think of Esther Jallad. She and her family were expelled from their wealthy home in the port city of Jaffa in 1948 and found themselves in the hilly village of Ramallah. In her displacement, Esther carried one passion with her: she loved to go to the movies. She lived conveniently, next to one of the three cinemas in Ramallah, Cinema Dunia. Every afternoon at 3:15, dressed up to the hilt, with her heavily lipsticked, pursed mouth, eyes smudged with pink eye-shadow, her large purse dangling from her bent arm, she would walk down from her house to the cinema as though on a rendez-vous that could never be missed. The cinema had three classes of seats, stalls the cheapest, circle and balkon (balcony). One of the six balkon in the cinema was reserved to her. Everyone knew it was Madam Jallad’s box, and whenever we went to Cinema Dunia we never missed Esther’s cocked head, occupying one of the four upholstered chairs in the balkon at the far left. A lone figure, quietly concentrating on the film projected on the wide screen. Esther’s love of the movies was magical, but remained uncommunicated.

A separate peace

Meron Rapoport, Ha’aretz 4/10/2008
      The guests who arrived at the Jerusalem Van Leer Institute this week were archaeologists, as their footwear attested to. Most of them wore hiking boots, though some showed up in biblical-style sandals, toes poking out on a chilly Jerusalem evening, and others in slippers of the type kibbutzim once gave their members. Here and there one could spot regular evening shoes, some of them red, particularly on the feet of young female archaeologists. But whatever their footwear, it seemed to be covered by an invisible layer of dust, accumulated during their excavations in the soil of the Land of Israel.
     The 50 or so archaeologists had come together to discuss a document that had been e-mailed to Israel’s entire archaeological community. The thin document, numbering six pages in all and entitled "Israeli-Palestinian Cultural Heritage Agreement," is the result of four years of discussions between Israeli and Palestinian archaeologists. For the first time, the two sides, aided by American mediators, have mapped out the contours of archaeological peace.

Another hot summer?

Galal Nassar, Al-Ahram Weekly 4/10/2008
      Whether war on Iran happens or not, tensions in the region are rising to breaking point, writes Galal Nassar Warnings of war have become all too common of late. Arab League chief Amr Moussa warned of a "hot summer", hinting that Lebanon would be the most likely scene of hostilities. Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak warned Hizbullah against any provocations, promising that hostilities may erupt "suddenly and without warning". Meanwhile, the Israeli army is conducting one of the largest military drills in recent years on the borders with Lebanon and Syria.
     The news agency Novosti cited a senior Russian source as saying that, "feverish US preparations" are underway for war on Iran. In an article published a few days ago, Paul Craig Roberts, assistant secretary of the treasury in the Reagan administration, said that the American Congress, media and people are blissfully ignorant of the preparations Dick Cheney is making for war. If the predictions are true, open hostilities may erupt anywhere in Iran, Syria, Lebanon and/or Palestine before long -- most likely after Israel celebrates its 60th birthday in mid-May. Dick Cheney is already working on it, and President Bush will only have to sign the orders.

Watching every move

Lucy Fielder, Al-Ahram Weekly 4/10/2008
      Lebanon viewed Israel’s military manoeuvre with trepidation this week, but opinion was divided over whether it presaged war, reports from Beirut Click to view caption All eyes in Lebanon turned south of the border this week, with Israel’s large-scale five-day military and civil defence exercise stirring the usual talk about a coming war. The exercise comes at a time of stultifying political crisis in Beirut and speculation about the form of Hizbullah’s presumed pending retaliation for the assassination of Hizbullah military commander Imad Mughniyah in Damascus in February, for which the Shia guerrilla group blames Israel.
     Hizbullah and Amal, both Shia movements in the opposition, said in a joint statement the exercises -- including simulated air and missile attacks on cities and getting civilians into shelters -- were hostile, no matter what the cause. "The exercises reflect Israel’s hidden intention to avenge its defeat during the July War," said the statement issued on Monday, the day after the manoeuvre started. "They also reflect the felt powerlessness that the Israeli military institution is witnessing and constitute an attempt to raise its spirits."

Why Ambassador Safieh should stay in Washington

Mohammad J. Herzallah, Daily Star 4/12/2008
      Contrary to common belief, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ pending visit to the United States later this month is not entirely futile. The president would do Palestinians a great service by using this opportunity to talk the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Ambassador, Afif Safieh, out of relinquishing his post in Washington.
     A couple of weeks ago, I sent Safieh’s office an e-mail asking for a chance to chat with him. My initiative was triggered by reports in the Arab press that the ambassador’s short tenure in Washington is coming to an end. I was curious whether I could get a confirmation, especially since the Palestinian Authority has yet to divulge more details about the matter. Save for the two-hour time-lapse between my e-mail and the response from his secretary, my task proved simpler than I had originally anticipated. "I will be out of here soon," he said with remarkable candor about his determination to leave Washington, declaring that he will most likely be reassigned to head the PLO’s office in Russia.

Reflections on the Palestine return movement

Muhammad Jaradat, Electronic Intifada 4/11/2008
      When the first news came from Tunis and Tel Aviv in early September 1993 about the secret talks between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Israeli government, the people of Palestine inside and in the exile were torn between enthusiasm and optimism on the one hand, and doubt and skepticism on the other. "Let’s wait and see," said many then.
     The situation of uncertainty did not last long. A week later, the secret Oslo talks were revealed and we learned that the parties had concluded the talks with a Declaration of Principles that was to pave the way for final status negotiations on the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, i.e. the agreement which became known as the Oslo Agreement or the Declaration of Principles.
     Later on, when the text of the agreement was opened to the public, the Israeli press was the first to publish. I ran to the Israeli Press Office in West Jerusalem to get a copy -- it was published then only in Hebrew and English. Reading the original English copy, I was not only shocked but also deeply alarmed and upset, because I had expected that the PLO leadership would not surrender and, at the minimum, uphold the fundamental national rights and base any agreement on UN resolutions and international law. Reading the agreement, I searched for references to the core issue of the conflict, i.e. the refugee issue, and found it mentioned only in a few words as an issue scheduled "for discussion in the final status negotiations." I thus understood that there were no guarantees or principles recognized for dealing with this most central issue of the conflict, and that the future of the large majority of the Palestinian people who are refugees was uncertain.

Deir Yassin massacre a pivotal event in history

Mazin Qumsiyeh, Palestine News Network 4/11/2008
      PNN - Between 1947 and 1949 over three-fourths of the native Palestinians (Christians and Muslims) were driven out. Quoting Zionist terminology, the land was "cleansed." Over 530 villages and towns were wiped off the face of the map.
     Israeli historians clearly documented, by obtaining declassified material, the meticulous nature of the program that led to the creation of the largest remaining refugee problem in the world.
     Defying international law, and its own promises when joining the United Nations, Israel still refuses to allow Palestinian refugees to return. The Right of Return is known as UN Resolution 194.
     Israel instituted its own laws to remove the remaining inhabitants from their lands: this is includes the occupied West Bank since 1967 and the recent home demolitions in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza Strip, the Negev and the Galilee.
     There are 300,000 Palestinian “citizens” of the state of Israel who are considered by Israeli law “present absentees.” This means internally displaced people whose homes and lands were taken over under the Israeli-instituted "absentee property laws." The lands and homes were taken by the Jewish Agency for use by Jews only.