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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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12 April 2008


Israeli forces withdraw from Gaza, leaving 9 dead
Ma’an News Agency 4/12/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - Israeli forces withdrew from the central Gaza Strip at dawn on Saturday leaving nine dead and dozens injured in the previous 24 hours. They stormed the eastern side of Al- Bureij refugee on Friday morning, killing seven and causing severe damage to Palestinian homes and bulldozing Palestinian agricultural lands. Two members of Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades, 31 year-old Muhamad Mustafa An-Najjar and 26 year-old Mahmoud An-Najjar were killed in were killed on Friday morning during an Israeli airstrike on a bunker belonging to the Brigades in the town of Khuza’a in the southern Gaza Strip. Seven other people were killed in attacks on the Al-Bureij refugee camp. Another Al-Qassam Brigades fighter, 24-year-old Munther Abu Hweishel, was killed in an Israeli attack targeting Palestinian resistance fighters in Al-Bureij refugee camp.

Rights group: Shin Bet uses relatives to extract prisoners’ confessions
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 4/13/2008
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel has accused the Shin Bet security service of using relatives of individuals under interrogation to extract confessions. In a report to be submitted today to the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, the organization says the Shin Bet makes unjustified arrests of family members, or creates the pretense of such arrests to pressure suspects. The report further states that such methods are used against individuals who are already subjected to severe physical torture. In at least one case, the report states that the pressure led to suicide attempts by the individual under interrogation. Attorney Aviel Linder, who compiled the report, noted that a series of international treaties prohibit psychological torture, including threatened or actual harm to family members.

Israeli authorities order demolition of 3 shops near separation wall
Ma’an News Agency 4/12/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an - The Israeli authorities ordered three shop ownersfrom Nazlat Issa village north of Tulkarem in the northern West Bank to demolish their shops saying they were built without licenses and they are too close to the separation wall. A member of the village council said the demolition orders were handed tobrothers Abdul Rahim Mohammed Yusuf Shawareb who owns nine commercial shops, Abdullah Mohammed Yusuf Shawareb who owns five shops, as well as Awni Mohammed Abdullah Hussein. He said that the orders constitute systematic plans by the Israeli authorities to confiscate Palestinian lands and expand Israeli settlements. [end]

Israeli forces target nonviolent leader in Hebron
Palestine News Network 4/12/2008
Mousa Abu Maria, co-founder and Coordinator of the Palestine Solidarity Project and a nonviolent activist for several years, was taken from his home at 4 o’clock in the morning by Israeli Shabak agents. His current whereabouts are not known. He was last in the custody of Shabak in 1999 when he was held for three months without charge and tortured, after which he was hospitalized for over a week. The Palestine Solidarity Project is an initiative committed to organizing non violent resistance in Palestine based in the village of Beit Ommar in the southern West Bank’s Hebron District. [end]

UNRWA warns: Israeli restrictions on movement led to acute lack of food in Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 4/12/2008
GENEVA, (PIC)-- The UNRWA warned against the deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Gaza due to the acute shortage of basic food commodities and energy resources as a result of the restrictions imposed by Israel on the movement of persons and goods since June 2007. According to the UNRWA, the IOA allowed only 2,400 trucks in Gaza during last March of the current year; whereas, during the same month of last year, it allowed in 10,000 trucks. In a circular received by the PIC, the UNRWA also pointed out that the scarcity of cattle feed led to an exorbitant rise in meat prices and made the agency expand its school feeding programs in order to meet the daily needs of 110,000 Palestinian children in 110 schools in Gaza. The UNRWA said that it provides more than 110,000 liters of diesel to Gaza municipalities each month for the disposal of waste, but the power crisis forces some municipalities of the coastal areas to dispose of waste at sea.

Many injured in weekly demonstrations
International Solidarity Movement 4/12/2008
Ramallah Region - Photos - Bil’in Village - Road 443 - IMEMC: Several injuries reported during a nonviolent protest near Kharabtha village Palestinian sources reported on Friday that several residents were injured after the army fired at residents, Israeli andinternational peace activists who carried a nonviolent protest against the continued closure of a main road since late 2000. Dozens of vehicles drove from the center of the village towards the road while dozens of protesters carried Palestinian flags and chanted slogans against the Israeli occupation. Soldiers, intensively deployed in the area, placed barbed-wires in front of the protesters and fired rubber-coated metal bullets and gas bombs at them. Dozens received first aid after inhaling gas fired by the army.

UNRWA director meeting with President Abbas in Ramallah as Gaza Strip worsens
Palestine News Network 4/12/2008
PNN - The UNRWA is currently cutting services in the West Bank, leading to widespread protests. However, it is attempting to increase services in the Gaza Strip in spite of the Israeli siege. Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Karen Abu Zeid, will meet with President Abbas on Saturday in Ramallah. The United Nations Agency for Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees reports that residents of the Gaza Strip are still facing major shortages in food, fuel, and other basic life requirements. This is a result of the blockade imposed by the Israeli authorities on the movement of persons and goods since June 2007. A statement issued by the UNRWA reported that the number of trucks of food and other humanitarian necessities entering the Strip decreased heavily from 10 thousand trucks during the month of March to about a truck during the last month.

Some refugees say good riddance to UNRWA after prison stints and the desire for new Intifada
Kristen Ess, Palestine News Network 4/12/2008
United Nations Relief Works Agency programs are facing major cut-backs, soon down to none in the West Bank according to the latest reports. A young refugee is among those who want the agency gone. She says that if the UNRWA did not exist, the situation would eventually improve. "They provide services, but without them the people would rise up. UNRWA makes people desperate in a way that all they scramble for is to eat and drink. Without them a new revolution would come, and that’s what we need. "United Nations Relief Works Agency programs are facing major cut-backs, soon down to none in the West Bank according to the latest reports. The UNRWA has been denying this rumor for a year, but the reality has become undeniable to the hundreds of demonstrators who blocked the doors in West Bank refugee camps in protest this week.

Palestinian Children Forced onto Street
Mel Frykberg, MIFTAH 4/12/2008
The deteriorating economic situation in the Palestinian territories has forced many Palestinian children to leave school and take up menial work in an effort to try and help their families survive economically. This Middle East Times journalist has traveled through both the West Bank and Gaza and is regularly accosted by young children at checkpoints hawking a variety of goods from food and refreshments to plastic toys and kitchen implements. " Please madam only two shekels" (about 45 U. S. cents) pleaded one wide-eyed youngster. He was bedecked in torn and grubby clothing as his grimy hand offered a few school utensils at the Qalandia checkpoint, which separates Ramallah from Jerusalem. However other children, who are a little more fortunate in that they are able to still attend school, are also obliged to spend hours partaking in back-breaking labor when they should be doing what children all over the world do, studying, playing with their friends, or engaging in sports.

Al-Khudari: Gaza will be plunged into total darkness within days
Ma’an News Agency 4/12/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - Jamal Al-Khudari Chairman of the Popular Committee against the blockade on the Gaza Strip on Saturday warned that a complete power cut in the Gaza Strip is imminent unless Israel allows fuel into the coastal strip. At a press conference in the central Gaza Strip power station, Al-Khudari called for Palestinian, Arab and international efforts to pressure Israelto lift the embargo. Al-Khudari said that unless that happens life in Gaza will be completely paralyzed, with the disruption of most services. This will cause devastation to health services, environmental damage and the disruption of communications. Al-Khudari said the fuel shortage has led to the stoppage of water wells and this is threatening to destroy agricultural produce. "We have come to tell the world that Gaza will collapse and this is the responsibility of the world. . . "

Gaza power plant warns its fuel can last 2 days
Hanan Greenberg and AP, YNetNews 4/12/2008
Director of Strip’s only power plant says he’ll have to shut it down in two to three days unless Israel resumes fuel shipments. Supplies halted after Palestinian gunmen attacked fuel depot on Gaza-Israel border last week, killing two Israeli workers. Defense officials slam Hamas’ ’false propaganda’ - The director of Gaza’s only power plant says he’ll have to shut it down in two to three days unless Israel resumes fuel shipments. Israel halted supplies after Palestinian gunmen attacked a fuel depot on the Gaza-Israel border last week and killed two Israeli workers - Oleg Lipson, 37, and Lev Charniak, 53, both of Beersheba. The power plant’s fuel reserves have been low in recent months, after Israel restricted fuel supplies in hopes of forcing militants to halt rocket attacks from Gaza.

Hamas official threatens Hamas will target Israeli ministers
DPA, Ha’aretz 4/13/2008
GAZA - A senior Islamic Hamas leader threatened Saturday that if Israel targets any Hamas ministers, Israeli ministers would be targeted by Hamas. In a response to Israeli threats to target the Islamic movement’s leaders in Gaza, Mushir al-Masri issued a statement saying "at any Israeli stupidity of targeting Hamas leaders or ministers, Hamas will likewise take action. " Following an increase in armed attacks carried out by Gaza militants against Israel, Israeli officials have said that if attacks against Israel continue, Hamas’ leaders would be targeted. "Vis-a-vis the Israeli threats to target ministers, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh or any other leader, al-Qassam Brigades would treat the Israelis on the principle of head for head and minister for minister," al-Masri said.

Hamas threatens to kill Israeli ministers
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 4/12/2008
Eye for an eye: Hamas will target Israeli ministers should Jewish State target group leaders, senior figure warns; Hamas spokesman says PM Olmert’s threats do not scare "terror" group and won’t affect its strategy - Eye for an eye:A senior Hamas member Saturday said that the group would target Israeli ministers should the IDF target any Hamas ministers. Mushir al-Masri threatened that "at any Israeli stupidity of targeting Hamas leaders or ministers, Hamas will likewise take action. ""Vis-a-vis the Israeli threats to target ministers, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh or any other leader, al-Qassam Brigades would treat the Israelis on the principle of head for head and minister for minister," he said. In a statement issued by Hamas Saturday, the group vowed to continue its struggle for "Palestinian rights" and warned that all options were open.

9 Palestinians killed in weekend fighting
Avi Issacharoff and Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 4/13/2008
Nine Palestinians, including two young teens, were killed and more than 20 were injured as a result of weekend Israel Defense Forces operations in the Gaza Strip. Seven of the deaths occurred on Friday in the vicinity of the Bureij refugee camp, in the central strip. The dead were named as Munzar Abu Hawishal, a Hamas activist; Shihab Abu Zbeid, 17; Jihad Abu Zbeid, 19; Yusuf al-Ma’ari, 17; Abd al-Razq Nufal, 19; Riad al-Aweni, 12; and Yusuf Sirhan,13. In a separate incident in Khan Yunis on Friday, Hamas activists Mohammed al-Najar and Ayman al-Najar were killed. There were no Israeli injuries in the fighting, which IDF sources said was aimed at crippling the terror infrastructure and preventing the firing of missiles into Israel, as well as keeping Palestinian snipers away from the border area. The IDF troops operating near Bureij encountered heavy fire from militants using anti-tank missiles, mortar shells, RPGs and guns.

16 Palestinians Dead as Israel Vows to ’Settle the Score’ with Hamas [April 6 – 12]
MIFTAH, MIFTAH 4/12/2008
Israeli forces withdrew from the Gaza Strip on April 12 after a three day strike which reportedly killed 16 Palestinians and wounded nearly 40. The assault on the Gaza Strip was in response to the shooting of Israeli civilians Oleg Lipson [37] and Lev Cherniak [53] on April 9 by Palestinian activists. Islamic Jihad, who claimed responsibility for this attack along with the Popular Resistance Committee, stated that the “unique and complicated operation” was aimed at kidnapping Israeli soldiers. The infiltration into Israeli territory came only hours after a Hamas activist and an Israeli soldier had been killed during clashes in Khan Younis. Early in the morning of April 9, four Palestinian gunmen managed to breach the border with Israel near the Nahal Oz terminal - the only place where restricted amounts of fuel supplies are transported to the Gaza Strip. Israeli officials state that under the cover of mortar fire, the assailants killed the two Be’er Sheva residents in a “failed abduction attempt”.

Palestinian farmer: Settlers assaulted me
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 4/12/2008
Palestinian man says more than 25 settlers threw stones at him, told him to ’go away’ - A 61-year old Palestinian farmer filed a complaint Saturday at a West Bank police station, claiming that settlers threw stones at him and his wife. The police launched an investigation into the incident. The Palestinian, Sadik al-Bari told police that around 10 am Saturday, while he was working with his wife in the field, the two were hit by stones that were thrown at them by settlers. Bari sustained light face wounds while his wife suffered shoulder injuries. Injured farmer - police launch investigation Bari said the stones were hurled by settlers living in the Shvut Ami settlement. "I was in my field when suddenly more than 25 people arrived and began to throw stones. They cried ’go away. ’ Where can I go? I was doing nothing wrong, simply working my land.

Israeli forces invade Zbuta village
Ma’an News Agency 4/12/2008
Jenin - Ma’an - Israeli forces invaded Zbuta village northwest of the West Bank city of Jenin in the early hours of Saturday, breaking into a number of houses before withdrawing in the early morning hours without any arrests. According to local sources in the village, a number of military vehicles stormed the village at 1:30 am and launched an extensive operation of raids and inspections in many houses in several parts of the village. The Israeli forces focused on houses and an agricultural area near the separation wall. They fired bullets and sound bombs during their raid. [end]

Israeli army invade eastern Gaza City
Ma’an News Agency 4/12/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - A number of Israeli army vehicles stormed the Al-Shaja’iyah neighborhood in eastern Gaza City on Saturday afternoon, Palestinian sources reported. Eyewitnesses told Ma’an that four Israeli military vehicles and two bulldozers stormed the separation wall east of Al-Shaja’iyah, opening fire on a number of houses. Israeli bulldozers also began to demolish the agricultural lands in the area east of Al-Shaja’iyah. [end]

Abu Ali Mustafa brigades attack Kfar ’Azza and Negev
Ma’an News Agency 4/12/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - The military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Abu Ali Mustafa brigades, claimed responsibility on Saturday for launching two projectiles at the Israeli town of Kfar Azza and at the Negev. They sent a statement to Ma’an saying the operation was in response to the continuing Israeli policy of detention, adding they would continue to resist the occupation. [end]

Nafha society appeals for releasing imprisoned mother in Israeli jails
Palestinian Information Center 4/12/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)--The Nafha society for the defence of human rights appealed to international human rights organizations especially those concerned with women’s rights to pressure Israel for the release of a Palestinian mother called Zuhour Hamdan, 44, from Nablus detained in the Israeli Hasharon prison. The society added that this prisoner spent more than five years of her an eight-year sentence issued against her at the pretext of being affiliated with the Palestinian resistance, pointing out that she left behind nine children the youngest is two years old. In a telephone conversation, a daughter of the prisoner told the society that her mother suffers from hypertension, rheumatism and toothache and appealed to everyone to move immediately for her release.

Injustice for West Bank children in Israeli military courts
Middle East Online 4/12/2008
OFER MILITARY CAMP, West Bank - Mohammed, 14, barely glanced at the Israeli military judge as he was led shuffling into the cramped courtroom, his legs in shackles. The Palestinian boy had eyes only for his father, and mouthed the traditional Arabic greeting "Salaam Aleikum" -- peace be upon you. Seven minutes later he was sentenced to four months in prison. The prosecutor claimed the boy had hurled rocks at a watchtower and at Israel’s separation barrier in the occupied West Bank. Upon his attorney’s advice, the boy pleaded guilty to avoid spending even more time behind bars. Human rights groups say Mohammed’s case is typical for child ‘offenders’ under the military law Israel imposes on the Palestinian territory it illegally occupies. As of March 31, 324 Palestinian children were held in Israeli prisons, according to the Geneva-based Defence for Children International (DCI), an international rights group.

Massive march against killings in Gaza
Palestine News Network 4/12/2008
PNN - After 17 hours Israeli forces withdrew from Al Bureij Refugee Camp in the central Gaza Strip at 1:00 am Saturday. In their wake, the Israelis left nine Palestinians dead, 25 wounded, most of them children, and widespread destruction. On Satuday afternoon the attacks in the Al Shajaiyeh neighborhood continued. Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, Mohammed Barakeh is warning of a humanitarian catastrophe in the Strip if these attacks continue in addition to the closures. On Friday, Palestinians held a massive march in eastern Gaza City’s Al Shajaiyeh neighborhood, condemning the Israeli attacks. On Friday morning Saraya Al Quds launched an RPJ at an Israeli tank in the eastern portion of Al Bureij Camp. Israeli forces then continued to launch a full ground attack. Later, Israeli warplanes fired missiles into the camp.

2 Qassam rockets land in Sderot area
Ze''ev Trachtman, YNetNews 4/12/2008
’Color Red’ alert activated in southern town, one rocket lands near cemetery. Woman suffers from anxiety - Saturday night attack : Two Qassams landed in open areas in the Sderot area Saturday night, shortly after the "Color Red" alert system was activated in the rocket-battered southern town. One rocket landed near a cemetery in the area while the second one landed in a nearby agricultural zone. One woman suffered from anxiety in the wake of the attack. Last week, a few hours after the deadly terror attack at the Nahal Oz fuel terminal, terrorists fired two Qassam rockets at southern communities. Terror groups in the Gaza Strip continue to stockpile rockets and mortar shells, including some armaments made in Iran. Islamic Jihad is producing rockets that have a range of 20 kilometers (roughly 13 miles) and are equipped with a warhead that is. . .

Nahal Oz attack: Commander slams troops’ conduct
Yossi Yehoshua, YNetNews 4/12/2008
Gaza Division commander’s inquiry uncovers flaws in army’s response to terror attack - Gaza Division commander Moshe Tamir ordered an inquiry into the Nahal Oz terror attack that found failures in the conduct of troops deployed in Gaza’s northern sector. The inquiry uncovered, among other things, flaws in securing the area where the fuel terminal targeted in the attack is located. Additional flaws were discovered in the army’s initial response to the incident and in the pursuit for the terrorists following the attack. Tamir reportedly reprimanded the commanders involved in the incident, and further steps may be taken against them following another inquiry into the attack slated to be held next week by Southern Command Chief Yoav Galant.

The Findings of the Palestinian Legislative Council Committee Investigating the Death of Majd abdel Aziz Bargouthi Must be Implemented
Al Haq, Palestine Monitor 4/12/2008
On 24 February 2008 Al-Haq publicly called for the Monitoring and Public Freedoms Committee of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) to investigate the death in custody of Majd abdel Aziz Barghouti, who died on the evening of Friday 22 February 2008, and the inaction of the Attorney-General in relation to this incident. The deceased had been in the custody of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service (GIS) since 14 February 2008. Al-Haq’s preliminary investigations into the case raised serious concerns that the arrest, detention and interrogation of Majd abdel Aziz Barghouti, and his treatment during GIS custody, were in violation of fundamental human rights protections relating to the treatment of prisoners and the administration of justice. . On 3 April 2008, an ad hoc PLC Committee that was formed to investigate the death of Majd abdel Aziz Barghoutireleased its findings, which confirmed Al-Haq’s initial concerns.

VIDEO - ICAHD: Video of Prof. Jeff Halper being detained while attempting to prevent house being demolished
International Solidarity Movement 4/12/2008
Jerusalem Region - Israeli police arrested Jeff Halper, the founder and coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) for attempting to prevent the destruction of a Palestinian house in the town of Anata, within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, on Wednesday morning. He was detained at the Metsudat Adumim police headquarters for two hours before being released. He has not yet been charged with any criminal offence but has been told he may face criminal proceedings. "It’s not clear if they’re going to press charges," Halper told Ma’an after his release, adding that he may be facing a jail sentence if charged. "I’ve run out of hours of community service so they’ll have to put me in jail but I doubt that it’ll happen. " Israeli police removed the furniture from the Hamdan family home in Anata before Israeli bulldozers moved in and leveled the house, an ICAHD spokesperson said.

Mesri to the besieging parties: Pressure begets explosion
Palestinian Information Center 4/12/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Mushir Al-Mesri, the head of the Hamas parliamentary bloc, warned Friday during a massive march in the Jabaliya refugee camp the besieging parties that all options are open before the besieged Gaza people and their resistance, highlighting that "pressure begets explosion". MP Mesri underlined that the Israeli siege on the Palestinian people is unparalleled in the history of the modern world, deploring the Zio-American conspiracy of tightening the siege against the Palestinian people. The lawmaker warned that the Israeli occupation would pay dearly for its ongoing aggression against the Palestinian people, underlining that the armed wing of Hamas would never forsake its people and would defend them with all its strength. In another context, Dr. Ahmed Bahr, the acting speaker of the PLC, warned of the consequences of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s upcoming visit to the. . .

Caretaker gov’t: The Palestinian people decided to end the Israeli siege
Palestinian Information Center 4/12/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The caretaker government headed by premier Ismail Haneyya stated Saturday that the Palestinian people decided to end the unjust Israeli siege which became no longer intolerable, highlighting the Palestinian people’s right to resist oppression and defend themselves by all means. In a press conference, Taher Al-Nunu underlined that the government showed great flexibility towards the Egyptian efforts in order to open the Rafah crossing and to reach a temporary truce with the Israeli occupation, but parties, unconcerned with ending the siege, want to retain the suffering of the Palestinian people and to perpetuate the internal discord. Nunu added that the government, however, would continue its efforts with Egypt in order to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza and to end the unjust siege, urging Egypt to open the Rafah crossing to break the siege.

Hamas: Resistance will remain our strategic option
Palestinian Information Center 4/12/2008
GAZA,[PIC]-- Hamas Movement that leads the Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation of Palestine has affirmed on Saturday that it will remain steadfast and firm on the path of resistance, and it will continue to fight for the Palestinian people’s legal rights. The Movement also underlined that the threats unleashed by Israeli premier Ehud Olmert of targeting the Movement’s leaders would neither frighten the Movement nor forces it to change its strategy in resisting the Israeli occupation. "Those threats [of Olmert] came after all Israeli attempts aimed at instigating the Palestinian people against the democratic government [of Premier Ismael Haneyya] which they freely elected in 2006, and toppling it", asserted Fauzi Barhoum, the spokesman of Hamas in Gaza Strip, in a press statement he issued in Gaza city and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC.

Israel pays compensation to U.K. for damaging Commonwealth Forces cemetery in Gaza operation
and Reuters, By Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 4/13/2008
Israel has paid the U. K. $145,000 for damaging a British war cemetery in the Gaza Strip during an Israel Defense Forces operation in the summer of 2006. Israel initially resisted accepting responsibility for the damages sustained. The IDF launched the operation in July 2006 after Corporal Gilad Shalit was abducted by Hamas militants. IDF forces entered the Gaza Strip and reached the British war cemetery on the outskirts of Gaza City. Bulldozers, tanks and helicopters used in the operation damaged cemetery structures, gravestones and shrubbery. Some 3,500 soldiers from the U. K. , Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India, who were killed fighting the Ottoman army during the conquest of the area in 1917, are buried in the cemetery. Some 200 World War II fatalities are also buried there. British diplomatic sources say the Gaza war cemetery contains graves of. . .

IDF checkpoint coordinator blames Palestinians for Gaza fuel crisis
Barak Ravid Avi Issacharoff and Yuval Azoulay and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 4/13/2008
The head of the Israel Defense Forces’ Coordination and Liaison Administration at the Erez checkpoint on the Israel-Gaza border said over the weekend that Israel consistently streams fuel to the Gaza Strip while Palestinian actions have caused an initiated fuel crisis. Colonel Nir Peres said that Gaza’s closed fuel depots and excruciating lines at gas stations were the direct result a carefully planned and publicized Hamas campaign to create a fuel crisis, which stems from the group’s refusal to transfer available fuel from the Israeli Nahal Oz fueling terminal into the Strip. According to Peres, as of this weekend, the fuel containers on the Palestinian side of the fueling terminal contained some 190,000 liters of gasoline and over 800,000 liters of diesel fuel.

U.K. advertising watchdog nixes ’misleading’ Israel tourist ad
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 4/13/2008
A British advertising watchdog has ordered a tourist office affiliated with Israel to withdraw a magazine ad that implies that a West Bank landmark is actually in Israel. The Advertising Standards Authority, an independent body set up by the advertising industry to police the rules laid down in the advertising codes, ordered Thinkisrael. com to remove the ad, which featured an image of Qumran on the Dead Sea, alongside a text which stated "you can travel the entire length of Israel in 6 hours; imagine what you can experience in 7 days. "The ASA also slammed the Thinkisrael. com for its persistent lack of response and "apparent disregard" of their obligation to provide prompt explanation under the regulations of the Committee of Advertising Practice.

Egypt Makes Gaza Border Warning
BBC News, MIFTAH 4/12/2008
Egypt has warned that it will not accept any further violation of its border with the Gaza Strip. A government official said Egypt’s borders were a red line that could not be crossed. It came after Hamas said it was prepared to take action to break the Israeli blockade of the territory. Militants destroyed parts of the Gaza border with Egypt in January, allowing hundreds of thousands of people stock up on much-needed supplies. The unnamed official told the state-owned MENA news agency that Egypt was "capable of responding to any attempt to violate its frontiers". A security official told the Associated Press news agency that Egyptian troops had been put on high alert. On Tuesday, Hamas politician Khalil al-Haya described the situation in Gaza as "no longer bearable" and renewed threats to breach the border. " I say clearly all options are open. . . What is coming will be bigger than what happened in the past, not only at the borders with Egypt but in other areas too," he told a news conference.

U.S. Wants to Hold Summit at Sharm During Bush Visit
Barak Ravid, MIFTAH 4/12/2008
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 Tuesday. 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. According to the Israeli sources, the American initiative is still in the early planning stages, but was raised in talks with officials in Israel.

Barghouthi: "Israel is responsible for what is happening in Gaza"
Palestinian National Initiative, Palestine Monitor 4/12/2008
Ramallah, 12-04-08: The killing of 8 Palestinians - including 4 children - and 3 Israelis in separate attacks yesterday has brought the number of Palestinians and Israelis killed since Annapolis to 350 and 18 respectively. Among the victims are 44 Palestinian children. Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the PNI stated that "the death of any person - Israeli, Palestinian or otherwise - is tragic, especially children. But the number of victims on each side clearly shows who are the aggressors and who are the victims. The Palestinian people is under attack. "  Israel has deliberately created a humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip through incremental steps that started more than two years ago, immediately after Hamas’ electoral victory in January 2006. While Israeli officials allege that they will not allow a humanitarian crisis to unfold in the Gaza Strip, the. . .

Hamas: Israeli rejection of truce indicates escalation of aggression against Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 4/12/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas said on Saturday they have not been informed that negotiations have stopped between Egypt and Israel to reach a truce. Under the proposed deal Hamas say they will halt Palestinian rocket fire on condition that Israel stops their assassinations in the Palestinian territories. Hamas said any truce with Israel will only take place on condition the blockade of the Gaza Strip is lifted. The Israeli side has repeatedly rejected Palestinian demands. They say they have informed the Egyptians that as far as they are concerned the month-long talks that have failed to reach any positive results are now over. Hamas leader Ayman Taha told Ma’an that he is suspicious of the Israeli rejection of Palestinian demands for a truce and he expects an escalation of Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip is imminent.

Hamas warns of popular uprising against Israeli siege on Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 4/12/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The de facto government in the Gaza Strip said on Saturday that Palestinians in the coastal region are likely to take matters into their own hands to end the Israeli siege and they will support them. However de facto government spokesman, Taher An-Nono, denied that anyone was planning to breach the Egyptian border, as happened in January. He said "No one is threatening Egypt and no one is permitted to do so," he told a press conference on Saturday. He said that any Palestinian uprising against the siege would not be directed against Egypt, stressing that Palestinians know what they are doing and their threats are only directed at Israel. "It is the right of our people to defend their rights and to confront injustice especially the blockade imposed on Gaza which is totally unacceptable," he said.

Israel removes fewer roadblocks than promised - UN
Adam Entous, ReliefWeb 4/11/2008
JERUSALEM, April 11 (Reuters) - Israel has removed 44 roadblocks in the occupied West Bank, short of the number promised to U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a United Nations agency has found. The U. N. 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 U. S. -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 61 obstacles that Israel said it removed earlier this month after Rice’s visit.

38 Palestinian refugees from Iraq, stuck on border with Syria, arrive in Chile
Palestine News Network 4/12/2008
Santiago / AKI - Chile has given a warm welcome to the first group of Palestinian refugees to arrive in the country. Thirty-eight Palestinians, previously stuck in no-man’s land between Syria and Iraq, arrived in the country’s capital, Santiago, after a 40-hour journey on Sunday. The refugees, that include 23 children, were greeted at Santiago’s airport by around 500 Chileans, many of them of Palestinian descent who waved Palestinian flags in their honor. The group is the first of 117 refugees to be accepted by the Chilean government after a plea from the United Nations High Commission of Refugees (UNHCR) last year. Fabio Varoli, head of the regional office of the UNHCR’s Latin America Programme told Adnkronos International (AKI) the refugees had lived in the refugee camp of al-Tanf, after surviving violence and hardship in war-torn Iraq.

Israel re-brands kibbutzim to lure eco-aware generation
Morwenna Ferrier The Observer, The Guardian 4/13/2008
Israel’s kibbutzim, once a rite of passage for thousands of young Britons, are staging an unexpected comeback after years of decline. The world-famous communes, which hosted a generation of volunteers from singer Simon Le Bon to actor Bob Hoskins, are to launch their first advertising campaign in a decade. The campaign, focusing on 140 sites in the north and south of the country, aims to tout the benefits of kibbutz living for a hip, new eco-aware generation. Re-branded for the 21st century, socialist ideals are downgraded in favour of environmental ethics and organic farming replaces conventional agriculture. Israel believes its new-look kibbutzim can again entice a new wave of Westerners to follow in the footsteps of Sacha Baron Cohen, the comedian behind Ali G and Borat, and US actress Sigourney Weaver. British actor Paul Kaye volunteered in a Tel Aviv commune in the Eighties. He told The Observer that the experience changed his life and was seen as ’a great escape from what was going on politically in Britain at the time.

MK Beilin sends Swiss FM letter against Iran gas deal
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 4/13/2008
MK Yossi Beilin sent Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey a personal letter about three weeks ago, a few days after the latter returned from a visit to Tehran, where she signed a $20-million gas deal between Switzerland and Iran. "It was very difficult for me to see you sitting next to a Holocaust denier who is threatening to destroy Israel," Beilin wrote Calmy-Rey, a close friend. Beilin was not the only one who was shocked by the deal, which calls for the Iranian petroleum company NIGC to supply the Swiss energy company EGL with 5. 5 billion tons of natural gas annually for 25 years starting in 2011. The deal provoked criticism from the United States and international Jewish groups, and the Swiss ambassador to Israel was summoned for an official reprimand over the "unfriendly measure. "Calmy-Rey’s response to Beilin’s letter came in the form of an invitation to a meeting in Switzerland, which took place on Monday.

Adding fuel to the fire
Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 4/13/2008
A Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip, Ayman Taha, was quick yesterday to deny reports in the Arab media of a hiatus in talks between his organization and the Egyptians over a temporary cease-fire with Israel. Hamas badly wants a breather in the hostilities with Israel in order to strengthen its hold on Gaza. However, Hamas wants to force on the Israel Defense Forces a pledge to halt arrests in the West Bank as well as the Gaza Strip. (That is is the official position of the head of Hamas’ political wing in Damascus, Khaled Meshal; senior Hamas leaders in the Strip are less obstinate on this point. ) Israel has no intention at present of giving in on this issue. The economic situation in Gaza is bad in any case, but Israeli security sources say Hamas is trying to make it worse: According to these sources, the authorities in Gaza stopped distributing fuel from the depot on the Palestinian. . .

Egypt already understands
Zvi Bar''el, Ha’aretz 4/13/2008
While Hamas is no peace partner, it is integral to ’non-warfare,’ and a Palestinian unity government is necessary for Hamas to carry out that job. Slowly but surely, the government and the Israel Defense Forces have begun treating Hamas as a government rather than an organization. For instance, the prime minister announced that he sees Hamas as responsible for all the terror attacks in the Gaza Strip regardless of which organization actually carried them out. That is precisely how previous prime ministers used to talk about Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority. In addition, after the terror attack at the Nahal Oz terminal, Israelis began to wonder whether the IDF has lost its power to deter Hamas, a question that a country generally asks about an enemy country with which it wants to have a deterrent balance, not an organization it wants to destroy.

PM seeks 5,000 more Palestinian work permits, despite economic advice
Ruth Sinai, Ha’aretz 4/13/2008
The cabinet will be asked Sunday to approve the employment of an additional 5,000 Palestinian construction workers, against the recommendation of the Bank of Israel and some government officials. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak proposed the move after U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Quartet envoy Tony Blair pressured them to make some concessions to the Palestinian Authority. The proposal, which increases the current quota by 30 percent, explains that it is based on the demand for workers and is expected to expand construction activity. However, officials in the finance, industry, trade and employment ministries said there was no shortage of construction workers, as 15,000 Israelis have entered the profession this year after the number of permits for foreign workers was cut.

Livni heading to Qatar, expected to discuss captives
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 4/12/2008
Foreign minister to deliver keynote address at Doha Forum, discuss deal to secure abducted troops’ release - Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will travel to Qatar Sunday to take part at a convention in the capital, Doha. Livni will stay in Qatar until Tuesday and deliver the keynote address at the Doha Forum on Democracy, Development, and Free Trade. The visit will mark the first time a senior Israeli minister attends such forum, which will be attended by more than 600 figures and journalists from the Arab world and international community. The convention will be attended by senior Arab figures, including the Lebanese parliament’s speaker and Syria’s deputy foreign minister. Other participants include Turkey’s prime minister, Algeria’s president, and the foreign ministers of Gulf States. Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jarida reported earlier this week that Livni’s visit. . .

Israel fears Iran may ship Hezbollah arms via Beirut port
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 4/13/2008
Israel is concerned that Iran might start moving weapons to Hezbollah by means of ships that anchor in the Beirut port, government sources in Jerusalem said. The sources said oversight of marine vessels by UNIFIL (the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) was not efficient enough to enforce an embargo on weapons shipments into Lebanon and to pinpoint such shipments. A government source in Jerusalem said Saturday that a year ago Israel transmitted to Germany, which at that time commanded UNIFIL’s marine forces, that it suspected Iran would transfer weapons to Hezbollah by sea. The source said Israel voiced its concerns over the marine forces’ insufficient control over the coast, and that Germany promised to increase its supervision. "The problem is that UNIFIL’s checks are not strict enough and are simply not serious," the source said.

Israel asks Luxembourg for help with investigation
Ido Baum and Sharon Shpurer, Ha’aretz 4/13/2008
Israel has asked Luxembourg for help in investigating charges of fraud and money laundering against Arcadi Gaydamak. In addition, senior Bank Hapoalim officials are suspected of aiding him. This was revealed when the request was attached to the documents submitted when the suit was filed Thursday in Jerusalem. The suspicions are that Gaydamak transferred NIS 450 million overseas in 2000 from his account at Hapoalim, without the matter being reported to the Bank of Israel as required by law. In addition, Bank Hapoalim officials also helped Gaydamak hide his ownership of other accounts - with the knowledge of senior bank officials, claims the document. The prosecution also claims that senior officials at Hapoalim promised Gaydamak they would inform him if they received a court order to reveal information on his accounts, and that they actually did so on July 17, 2002.

Malaysian convert denied citizenship
Shahar Ilan and Daphna Berman, Ha’aretz 4/13/2008
The Interior Ministry has refused to allow a Malaysian-born American citizen to immigrate to Israel with his wife, an Israeli citizen who was living overseas, in what appears to be a blatant contravention of the Law of Return. The ministry refused the would-be immigrant for having been born in an "enemy state," although the Jewish Agency recommended accepting him as an immigrant. "I’m being made to feel like an outlaw," says Syloke Soong, a computer programmer who converted to Judaism in 2001. Soong was forced to enter Israel as a tourist and cannot set up a business here or work, as he had planned to do. Soong was born to a Christian family in Kuala Lumpur. He left Malaysia for Singapore at the age of 19, gave up his Malaysian citizenship and has not been there for 15 years. In 2000, Soong moved to the United States, where he joined a Reform Jewish community in Maine.

PLO factions call on Fatah and Hamas to return to national dialogue
Ma’an News Agency 4/12/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) factions during a sit-in on Saturday called on Fatah and Hamas to return to dialogue. The sit-in was organised by the Popular Campaign for Unity between National Forces. Dr Rabah Muhanna, a member of the political bureau of the Popular Front said, "we are now gathering to end the internal Palestinian struggle and end this division and go back to national dialogue. " He stressed that the only side that is benefiting from the internal Palestinian division is Israel whose aim is to weaken the Palestinian factions. Ramzi Rabah, a member of the political bureau of the Democratic Front said "we are here today to call for an end to this Palestinian crisis by calling for unity and for an end to the nonsensical negotiations that Israel is making use of to expand settlements.

Blood donation campaigns started in Gaza Strip
Palestinian Information Center 4/12/2008
GAZA, [PIC]-- The PA health ministry of premier Ismael Haneyya has called on Palestinian citizens in the Gaza Strip to immediately go to blood donation centers, disclosing that blood bags became rare. Raed Al-Arini, the spokesman of the Gaza-based Al-Shifa hospital, asserted that all hospitals of the Gaza Strip were suffering of low quantities of blood, adding that the increasing number of the Palestinian citizens wounded with IOF bullets contributed to that unjustified result. In a press statement he issued on Saturday, Arini warned, "the catastrophe [in Gaza Strip] is snowballing due to the sharp shortage of fuel supplies to Gaza Strip, warning that if the Israeli occupation government decided to stop electricity supplies, then, he explained, the crises will aggravate further.  The hermitic Israeli blockade on the tiny Gaza Strip had slowly killed more 127 sick Palestinian citizens suffering different kinds of chronic diseases.

PM’s friend is suspect in fraud probe
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 4/13/2008
A close friend and former law partner of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is suspected of taking part in acts of fraud and breach of trust attributed to Olmert in what’s known as the "investment center affair. "Olmert allegedly granted favors to a factory represented by his friend, attorney Uri Messer, during his tenure as industry and trade minister, via the ministry’s investment center. Messer was questioned as a suspect in this affair in December last year but since then the police have refused to release the allegations, saying he was not a public figure. He was questioned again recently, in secret, after recovering from a traffic accident some six weeks ago. Last April State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss presented Mazuz with a report entitled "Israel Investment Center - Uri Messer. "It stated Olmert was involved in the affair despite the evident conflict of interest and. . .

Head of pharmicists’ union detained for further 15 days on accusations of medicine smuggling
Ma’an News Agency 4/12/2008
Nablus – Ma’an - The head of the Palestinian union of pharmacists, Mahmoud Salaymah, has been remanded in custody for a another 15 days pending further investigations into medicine smuggling, his lawyer Adnan Abu Layla told Ma’an. Abu Layla told Ma’an that the public prosecutor’s office have not yet charged 50-year-old Salaymeh. He added that there were witnesses in the case that have still not been interviewed. He also stressed that Salaymeh is innocent until it is proved otherwise. However, he said that for the second time the court had rejected a request to release Salaymeh on bail. He has been held in custody since March 26. The pharmacists’ union said they had sent a formal letter to the Head of the Judicial Council Issa Abu Sharar calling on him to release Salaymeh.

The return to religion: A state-funded fashion
Uzi Benziman, Ha’aretz 4/13/2008
Last week we were again witness to regular prisoners escorted to court wearing scullcaps, their ritual fringes peeking out from under their shirts and their entire appearance radiating righteousness and devotion. Men who arrive in court from jail or prison because they have committed crimes, violating the laws of the state and the moral dictates of religious law, undergo a wondrous transformation behind bars: They turn into observant Jews who kiss the mezuzah on the doorpost of the courtroom, recite psalms while swaying in fervor and grow beards. There’s no doubt about it: Turning to religion is a growing trend that has not skipped over the criminal world. Israel Prison Service (IPS) officials explain that they provide religious services to all inmates, in keeping with each one’s religion, and that these activities are free of proselytizing.

’Classified info exposed on Facebook’
Yossi Yehoshua, YNetNews 4/12/2008
Defense Ministry says security establishment members revealed secrets online - Secrets on the Internet:A recent inquiry by the Defense Ministry into popular social networks online, including Facebook, revealed that members of Israel’s security establishment exposed classified information on the Web. The information included photos of soldiers serving in classified units. Some of the photos were taken at classified sites, with secret information appearing in the background. Following the inquiry, the Defense Ministry distributed a special document to all members of the defense establishment detailing security restrictions that apply to anyone joining a social network on the Internet. The document, which was designated for members of the IDF, Defense Ministry, Shin Bet, and Mossad, was also acquired by Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

Olmert a Failure as Prime Minister, Say Israelis
Angus Reid Global Monitor, MIFTAH 4/12/2008
Most people in Israel express disappointment over the performance of Ehud Olmert, according to a poll by the Dahaf Institute published in Yediot Ahronot. 59 per cent of respondents think the prime minister did not succeed in his role as head of government, and 49 per cent acknowledge that their support for Olmert has declined since he was sworn in. In March 2006, Israeli voters renewed their legislature or Knesset. Kadima, founded by former prime minister Ariel Sharon and led by Olmert, secured 29 seats. Labour, the Retired People’s Party (Gil) and the International Organization of Torah-observant Sephardic Jews (Shas) joined Kadima in a coalition. In October 2006, the Israeli cabinet approved the addition of Israel Our Home to the government. Olmert’s coalition now has the support of 78 of the Knesset’s 120 members. A preview of the so-called Winograd Report—which looked into Israel’s

Bethlehem SOS Mothers receive prestigious award
Ma’an News Agency 4/12/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The president of SOS-Kinderdorf International, Mr Helmut Kutin, presented five Bethlehem SOS Mothers on Friday with ’Rings of Commitment’ in honour of their ten plus years of service to the care of orphaned and abandoned children. Those who received the prestigious award were Hussinya Abu Jarad, Fadia Damiree, Abeer Desouqi, Nabeel Tieti and Insherah Sabanh. Each of these women have spent more than ten years of their lives as live-in house mother to groups of orphaned children. The Governor of Bethlehem, Salah At-Ta’mari, Bethlehem Mayor Victor Batarseh, British Consular General, Richard Makepeace, Deputy Head of Mission of the Austrian Representative Office, Ronald Treitler, the President of Al-Quds University Dr. Sari Nsabe were esteemed guests at the event. SOS is an international organisation dedicated to the care of orphaned and abandoned children. . .

Construction of 30,000 homes planned in new W. Bank suburbs
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 4/13/2008
The Palestinian Investment Fund says it plans to build 30,000 affordable apartments in the West Bank and Gaza to ease a growing housing crunch. An official in the fund said Saturday that the project will cost more than $2 billion and that private investors will be involved. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because a formal announcement will only be made Monday. The official says a mortgage company will be established as part of the project. Investment in housing is seen as one of the more attractive business opportunities in the West Bank. The housing shortage is considerable, and construction is less dependent on Israel easing movement restrictions than other branches of the economy.

Gazans Grapple with Fuel Shortages, Turn to Black Market
Reuters, MIFTAH 4/12/2008
Sleeping in their cars outside petrol stations, Palestinians are feeling the pinch of a fuel crisis in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, where black market gasoline sells for about $7. 50 a litre. Station owners, decrying Israel’s reduction of shipments since Hamas took over the territory in June, and accusing the armed group of siphoning off fuel for its own use, declared a protest at the pumps this week. The owners refused to accept fuel deliveries, prompting dozens of motorists to line up outside stations and in some cases to sleep in their vehicles in the hope of filling up before the pumps ran dry. Taxi driver Zuhair Abu Shaban said he ran out of diesel nine days ago and had waited overnight outside a station for an opportunity to buy scarce fuel. " This taxi is the source of living for us," said the father of 10, looking grim and exhausted.

New system expected to help protect Thai workers from exploitation
Ruth Sinai, Ha’aretz 4/13/2008
New regulations regarding the employment of Thai agricultural workers will be put in place in the coming weeks, nearly three years after a cabinet decision on the matter. According to the new regulations, which are expected to greatly reduce exploitation by agents and employers, manpower agencies and employers will be allowed to bring in workers only through the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which is affiliated with the United Nations. Israeli agencies will have to sign an agreement with the IOM’s Thailand office and may charge no more than NIS 3,135. From this sum, they will transfer $250 to the IOM to select and process the workers in Thailand. According to Kav La’Oved representatives, Thai workers they interviewed paid up to $8,800 to intermediaries in 2007; approximately 65 percent of the money went to Israeli agencies.

Suit claims Gaydamak defrauded Angolans of $365 million
Nurit Roth, Ha’aretz 4/13/2008
Arcadi Gaydamak transfered $365 million of the Angolan government’s money to his private bank accounts, according to a civil suit filed last Thursday against Gaydamak in the Jerusalem District Court as reported by Channel 10 News. The suit claims the money was earmarked to pay back the country’s debts to the former Soviet UnionThe plaintiffs in the suit are two management companies registered in the Virgin Islands, Premium Investment Management and Global Alpha Star. The two firms claim that during the 2001-2005 period they managed two offshore investment funds established by Gaydamak "so no one would know the money belonged to him. "They further claim Gaydamak, or his funds, did not pay them their management and other fees for part of the period. The two firms have asked the court to declare these debts Gaydamak’s personal responsibility.

At least 20 killed as Shia militants clash with US and Iraqi forces in Sadr City
The Independent 4/12/2008
Shia militants fought US and Iraqi forces around Baghdad’s Shia district of Sadr City yesterday, despite a call for calm by the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr following the assassination of one of his top aides. At least 13 Shia militants and seven civilians died in the clashes between US and government troops and Mr Sadr’s Mehdi Army militia. One US soldier was killed by a roadside bomb. Mr Sadr blamed the Americans and their Iraqi allies for the death on Friday of Riyadh al-Nouri, director of his office in the Shia holy city of Najaf. Gunmen ambushed him as he returned home fromprayers. A curfew was declared to prevent a violent backlash by Sadrists, but was lifted yesterday. Government troops supported by the US military have been fighting for nearly two weeks to seal off Sadr City, the principal stronghold of the Mehdi Army in the capital, after militants there fired rockets and mortars at the US-protected Green Zone.

Despite sanctions, Iran seeking to join UN Security Council
Shlomo Shamir, Ha’aretz 4/13/2008
Three pending Security Council resolutions against Iran, some calling for sanctions, have not stopped the country from seeking a non-permanent seat at the council, causing some UN members to worry about the council’s reputation. Iran is seeking to join the Security Council (SC) for two years in 2010-2012 as a representative of Asia, replacing Indonesia. Diplomats and commentators say that the Security Council’s status is deteriorating and its prestige is crumbling. "The Security Council is paralyzed," Italy’s UN ambassador Marcello Spatafora said. "It is becoming irrelevant. "Spatafora expressed the growing frustration with the council’s function among veteran diplomats and commentators at UN headquarters, many of whom still have difficulty accepting Libya as a council member.

Nine killed and 105 injured as bomb explodes at mosque in Iranian city
The Independent 4/12/2008
A bomb in a mosque in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz has killed at least nine people, amid fears the death toll will continue to rise. At least 105 were injured by the explosion and many are in a critical condition, the Iranian Fars news agency reported. The force of the blast shook houses and shattered windows half a mile away. By last night, no one had claimed responsibility for the attack, which happened in the city’s Shohada mosque at 9pm local time. Saeedeh Ghorbani, 20, who was wounded in the blast, said around 800 people were in the mosque when the bomb, believed to have been a homemade device, went off. "After we heard an explosion, there was smoke everywhere," she said. The blast happened as a cleric was giving an address to children affiliated with the Rahpoyan-e Vesal Association, which "holds meetings every Saturday regarding misguided groups, including Wahabis and Bahais", Fars reported.


Understanding Hamas’ Six R’s
Rami Khouri, Middle East Online 4/12/2008
      BEIRUT -- The controversy over whether former US President Jimmy Carter should meet with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Damascus during Carter’s upcoming visit to the Middle East can usefully spark a serious debate about two important current issues in the Middle East: Hamas’ ideology and policies, and the US government’s attitude to it.
     Israel, the United States, and some other countries reject dealing with Hamas because they see it purely as a terrorist organization dedicated to the “destruction of Israel.” The reality is more complex than that. Hamas certainly has committed acts of terror against Israeli civilians, and it must be held accountable for such deeds -- in a context in which all who commit murder and terror in the Middle East are similarly held accountable, including Israelis, Arabs, Iranians, Americans and British.
     Hamas argues that its actions are legitimate resistance in the context of a much more brutal Israeli war against Palestinian civilians. One that uses terror, assassination, kidnapping, starvation, imprisonment, colonization, Apartheid-like segregation and racism and other nasty policies. We remain stalemated, but also at war.

Palestinians versus Tibetans - a double standard

Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 4/13/2008
      Israelis have no moral right to fight the Chinese occupation of Tibet. The president of the Israeli Friends of the Tibetan People, the psychologist Nahi Alon, who was involved in the murder of two Palestinians in Gaza in 1967 - as was revealed in Haaretz Magazine last weekend - chose to make his private "atonement" by fighting to free Tibet, of all places. He is not alone among Israelis calling to stop the occupation - but not ours. No small number of other good Israelis have recently joined the wave of global protest that broke out over the Olympics, set to take place in Beijing this summer. It is easy; it engenders no controversy - who would not be in favor of liberating Tibet? But that is not the fight that Israeli human rights supporters should be waging.
     To fight for Tibet, Israel needs no courage, because there is no price to pay. On the contrary, this is part of a fashionable global trend, almost as much as the fight against global warming or the poaching of sea lions.
     These fights are just, and must be undertaken. But in Israel they are deluxe fights, which are unthinkable. When one comes to the fight with hands that are collectively, and sometimes individually, so unclean, it is impossible to protest a Chinese occupation.

60 Years of Ethnic Cleansing, Land Theft

Nizar Sakhnini, MIFTAH 4/12/2008
      At 4:00 P.M. on May 14, 1948, "State of Israel" was proclaimed in Tel Aviv. About 8 hours later, the White House announced: "This government has been informed that a Jewish State has been proclaimed in Palestine, and recognition has been requested by the provisional government thereof. The U.S. recognizes the provisional government as the de facto authority of the new State of Israel." (De jure recognition came about in January 1949.) Two major factors made this proclamation possible: British and American help, on the one hand, and treachery of the Arab rulers, especially Jordanian King Abdullah who was in tacit agreement with the Zionists, on the other.
     In an effort to bring about a peaceful end to the war in 1948, Count Folke Bernadotte was appointed by the UN as a mediator between the Arabs and Israel. He submitted his report to the UN Security Council on September 16, 1948 and was assassinated by the Zionists on the following day.
     Bernadotte’s proposals to end the conflict were published on September 20 and made it clear that no settlement can be just and complete if recognition is not accorded to the Arab refugee to return to his home.