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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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30 April 2008


UN facing increased delays at Israeli checkpoints
UNRWA, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 4/30/2008
JERUSALEM, 30 April 2008 (IRIN) - Increased Israeli restrictions on the checkpoints around East Jerusalem have caused more delays and more lost man hours for UN staff in March 2008 than in all of 2007, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has reported. In the Humanitarian Monitor for March, released on 24 April, OCHA said "operations were significantly affected" and almost daily UN vehicles were delayed and even turned back by Israeli soldiers at checkpoints south of Jerusalem. Israeli soldiers have increasingly insisted on searching UN vehicles at the checkpoints as a condition for being allowed through, despite the fact that Israel signed the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the UN which normally prohibits such searches. Movement of UN staff between the West Bank and East Jerusalem has been increasingly restricted over the years,

Israeli Army raids Hebron Orphanage home to 110 girls
Pennie Quinton, International Middle East Media Center News 4/30/2008
At 1. 00 in the morning on the 30th of April, the Israeli Army raids orphanage in Hebron, home to 110 girls, seizing all equipment from community sewing workshop. The Hebron Orphanage for girls is run by the Charitable Islamic Society,(I. C. S) and houses 110 children. The ICS is accused by Israel of funding the Hamas movement under the table, and in recent years, the ICS has been raided several times by the Israeli Army who seized computers and paper work from their offices. Now the Israeli government wants to take property owned by the ICS and has issued a court order to this effect. Bassim the director of the Hebron orphanage for girls says that the Israeli officials came and inspected a sewing work shop in the basement, a project set up to give local women whose husbands are in gaol a means of earning a living.

Palestinian militants agree to truce with Israel
Nadra Saouli, Daily Star 5/1/2008
Agence France Presse - CAIRO: Palestinian factions agreed on Wednesday to a proposal for a truce with Israel that Egyptian mediators will now try to sell to the Jewish state, a senior Egyptian official said. The 12 groups meeting in Cairo agreed to the plan, already backed by Hamas and Fatah, for a "comprehensive, simultaneous and reciprocal period of calm to be applied progressively, first in Gaza and then in the West Bank," Egypt’s MENA news agency said, without naming the official." This is a stage in a plan aimed at creating a situation that will allow for the lifting of the [Israeli] blockade of the Gaza Strip and the end of internal Palestinian divisions," the official was quoted as saying. A deal for a six-month period of calm had already been accepted by the Hamas, while Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, from rival Fatah, gave the negotiations unconditional support on Sunday.

Rice accuses Hamas of waging ’proxy’ war
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/1/2008
WASHINGTON: Palestinian Hamas militants are serving as the "proxy warriors" for an Iran bent on acquiring an atomic bomb and destroying Israel, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said here late on Tuesday. In a speech to American Jews in Washington, Rice promoted the US policy of isolating Hamas, which she said refused to renounce violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist and respect all previous Palestinian agreements with Israel." But perhaps of deepest concern, the leaders of Hamas are increasingly serving as the proxy warriors of an Iranian regime that is destabilizing the region, seeking a nuclear capability and proclaiming its desire to destroy Israel," Rice told the American Jewish Committee." How can any government negotiate with a group that sees every agreement, every choice not as a compromise to advance peace, but as a tactic to later advance war? "she asked.

Olmert makes surprise visit to Jordan for talks with king
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/1/2008
AMMAN: Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert held talks with King Abdullah II on the Middle East peace process during a surprise visit to the Jordanian capital on Wednesday, the palace said." The king stressed the need for Palestinian-Israeli negotiations to lead to an agreement based on a two-state solution before the end of this year," it said in a statement." The agreement should address all final-status issues and result in the establishment of an independent Palestinian state," he told Olmert, referring to core issues in the conflict, notably the fate of Occupied Jerusalem and refugees." Achieving peace requires advancing negotiations within clear mechanisms and specific timelines." The king also urged the Israeli leader to "work toward improving the daily living conditions of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," according to the statement.

Palestinian cancer patient dies while waiting for Israeli entry permit
Meital Yasur Beit-Or, YNetNews 5/1/2008
Father of six dies of brain tumor at Gaza hospital after his request to undergo surgery in Israel denied for security reasons. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel says it is ’very concerned’ for the fate of 12 other Palestinian cancer patients - A Palestinian father of six who was diagnosed with a brain cancer died at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital on Wednesday while waiting for an entry permit to Israel, where he was set to undergo brain surgery and receive chemotherapy treatment at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. Three weeks ago, at the request of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel), Dr Elsalam Abria of Haifa’s Rambam Hospital wrote an opinion saying that Muhammad el-Harani would die within a few days or weeks unless he receives proper treatment in Israel. Ran Yaron, co-director of PHR-Israel’s Occupied Territories Project, said that after el-Harani. . .

Rafah shelling kills prominent member of the Al Quds Brigades
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 5/1/2008
The Al Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad, reported that the Wednesday evening Israeli shelling which targeted a workshop in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, killed one of its prominent leaders; five Palestinians including two children were wounded, at least two seriously. The Brigades stated that the Israeli air force fired a missile at a blacksmith workshop in Rafah killing the fighter and wounding five others. The workshop was completely destroyed and damage to several surrounding houses was reported. Medical sources in Rafah reported that residents Karam Hammad, 23, and Osama Al Hooby, 25, suffered serious injuries. The sources added that two children, identified as Ahmad Salah, 10, and his brother Amjad Salah, 11, suffered moderate wounds. All of the wounded residents were moved to Abu Yousef Al Najjar Hospital in Rafah.

Custody death man was tortured, report reveals
Ma’an News Agency 4/30/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – A Hamas member who died in custody at the Palestinian general intelligence service headquarters in Ramallah in the central West Bank was tortured, a fact-finding report revealed on Wednesday. Majd Al-Barghouthi was found dead in his cell in a Ramallah prison on February 23. Fatah-affiliated security services said he died of natural causes, but Hamas claimed he was badly beaten before his death." Barghouthi was subjected to different kinds of torture including physical and psychological torture," the fact-finding report, compiled by the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens Rights, claimed. The report also documented a series of failures on the part of the Palestinian security services. According to the report, during Barghouthi’s apprehension and detention legal procedures were not followed.

12 Qassam rockets hit western Negev
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 4/30/2008
Sderot, Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council residents begin their day with rocket salvo, yet again. No injuries, damage reported in any of rocket landings - Residents of the western Negev communities were awakened by a series of Color Red alerts Wednesday, as a dozen Qassam rockets fired from northern Gaza hit the area. No injuries or damage were reported. At around 7:00 am, two rockets landed near a kibbutz in Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council. A third rocket followed within 30 minutes. An hour and-a-half later, three more rockets were fired: One landed near a Sderot school, the second landed in Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council’s industrial area and the third in an open area. Around 2 pm, the Palestinians fired four rockets at Israel. One landed in Sdot Negev Regional Council limits, another in Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council limits and the third near Sderot.

Palestinian groups shell Israeli areas near Gaza despite news of ceasefire
Ma’an News Agency 4/30/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian military groups continued to launch homemade projectiles and mortar shells into Israel from the Gaza Strip despite news that the factions had agreed during talks in Egypt on a ceasefire. The military wing of Islamic Jihad, the Al-Quds Brigades, and the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, the An-Nasser Salah Addin Brigades, said that their fighters fired barrages of projectiles and mortars at the Israeli cities of Sderot and Ashkelon in the western Negev. It appears that Palestinian factions are awaiting for the official announcement of a ceasefire before holding their fire. Meanwhile, Israeli sources reported that 12 homemade projectiles and 3 mortar shells landed in Negev towns. One homemade projectile landed near a school in Sderot and another landed in the hills outside the town, causing a fire.

Palestinians: Militant killed, 3 others hurt in IAF strike on Gaza
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 4/30/2008
An Israel Air Force aircraft attacked a metal workshop in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday, killing an Islamic Jihad top militant and wounding three other people, Palestinian officials said. The attack came as Palestinian militant groups agreed in principle to a cease-fire with Israel. Shortly before the air strike, Hamas’ prime minister in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh, had said the "ball is in the Israeli court" to keep to the terms of the truce. The IDF confirmed the air strike in Rafah, a town located next to the Egyptian border. Residents said the air strike targeted a metal workshop close to border crossing with Egypt. Metal workshops are often used by militants to make homemade rockets. One witness said three helicopters hovered over the southern Gaza town and were fired at by Palestinian militants on the ground before the air strike took place.

Israeli forces target Rafah shop in missile attack, kill one man, injure 6, including child
Palestine News Network 4/30/2008
Rafah / PNN - Medical sources and eyewitness reported Wednesday that Israeli forces killed one Palestinian and injured six others in a targeted hit in the southern Gaza Strip. The shop was for painting cars in Rafah. The man killed was a member of Saraya Al Quds, the armed resistance wing of Islamic Jihad. He was an employee of the workshop. A spokesperson for the party said today that two others among the injured were also members of Islamic Jihad. The Director of Ambulance and Emergency in the Palestinian Health Ministry, Dr. Hassanain said that the man killed was in his thirties and among the six injured was a child. Shrapnel fired from an Israeli missile led to the injuries and death. All were taken to a Rafah hospital. One of the injured is in critical condition. Eyewitnesses confirmed that an Israeli aircraft fired two missiles at a workshop for painting cars belonging to a man from the Tal Zo’rob neighborhood.

Police, IDF troops demolish illegal outpost in West Bank
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 4/30/2008
Police and Israel Defense Forces troops on Wednesday demolished an illegal outpost near the northern West Bank settlement of Kochav Hashachar. At the site, Maoz Esther, security forces dismantled a synagogue which had been constructed there without permit. It was built in memory of Yonadav Chaim Hirschfeld, who was killed in the terror attack at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem in March. The synagogue, which was not a permanent structure, was dedicated during the intermediate days of the Passover holiday. On Tuesday, police and the Civil Administration demolished a swimming pool which had been built without permit at a home in the Havat Yair outpost, near the northern West Bank settlement of Nofim. Head of the Samaria Regional Council Gershon Mesika lambasted the demolition.

Israeli forces seize ten in raid on Askar refugee camp
Ma’an News Agency 4/30/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized ten young Palestinian men from Askar refugee camp east of the West Bank city of Nablus on Wednesday morningPalestinian security sources told Ma’an’s reporter in Nablus that Israeli troops stormed the camp from the east after midnight and ransacked several houses before seizing ten young men. [end]

CPT: Hebron girls orphanage sewing workshop raided by Israeli army
International Solidarity Movement 4/30/2008
Hebron Region At 1:00 am on the morning of April 30th, the Israeli Military raided the Hebron Girls’ Orphanage near the intersection of Salaam and Al Adel - Peace and Justice - Streets. Acting on orders issued by Major General Shemni, soldiers looted the workshop of all its sewing and processing machines. Members of Christian Peacemaker Teams and other internationals from Belgium, Britain, Canada, Germany, Holland, Scotland and the US have been sleeping in the orphanage. Their concern is for the children who live in fear of the military forcing them out of the place they’ve come to call home. Their hope last night was that their presence would forestall the army’s raid on the workshop. They hoped in vain. CPT’s Art Arbour decried this latest effort by the Israeli military in its campaign to close the orphanages, "How can grown men do this to little children? "CPT members documented

Israeli troops raid Islamic charities in West Bank
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/1/2008
HEBRON, Occupied West Bank: Israeli troops raided two charities linked to Hamas in the Occupied West Bank city of Hebron overnight and seized computers and equipment, the army said on Wednesday." Our forces seized material from these two organizations which, under the guise of charitable organizations, actually worked to directly support the Hamas terrorists, notably by recruiting activists and collecting funds," a spokeswoman said. Witnesses said troops loaded trucks with computers and other equipment belonging to the Islamic Charity Movement and the Islamic Youth Association. The armed forces had previously shut down buildings belonging to the charities and seized computers and files in raids carried out in February. - AFP

IDF shuts down Hamas-affiliated offices in West Bank
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 4/30/2008
JERUSALEM - The Israel Defense Forces said Wednesday that they had shut down offices of a Hamas-affiliated charity in the in the West Bank city of Hebron. The IDF spokesman says that troops early Wednesday shut down financial offices of the Islamic Charity Movement. Israel believes the group works with the Hamas Islamic group to recruit operatives and raise money for militant activities. Israel had closed some Hebron offices of the movement earlier this year. That closure came after two Hamas members from the city carried out a suicide bombing that killed one Israeli. Hamas advocates Israel’s destruction. The group violently seized power in the Gaza Strip last year. Both Israel and the moderate Palestinians rulers of the West Bank fear Hamas will try to wrest control of the West Bank as well.

Stranded holders of Egyptian travel documents go on hunger strike in Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 4/30/2008
RAFAH, (PIC)-- Holders of Egyptian travel documents, who are stranded in the Gaza Strip, have announced their intention to go on hunger strike as of today Wednesday until they are allowed back to their relatives and places of residence. The trapped Palestinians said that they would not end their open hunger strike until they are allowed to cross the Rafah border terminal. They asked the Egyptian government to consider their case and to allow them to cross similar to the Egyptian nationals who were trapped in Gaza after closure of the borders." We should not be the victims of political differences or a political game," they said, noting that their sons lost an academic year and they were threatened with loss of their jobs. The Palestinians, with residence permits in other countries, entered Gaza when inhabitants of the Strip blasted and broke through the border fence with Egypt. . .

Unidentified virus infects several detainees in Al Ramla Prison Hospital
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 4/30/2008
The Ahrar Center for Detainees Studies reported that an unidentified virus infected several detainees who are already sick and hospitalized at the Al Ramla Israeli prison hospital which already lacks the basic equipment. The Center added that it received a letter from one of the detainees who was receiving treatment at the hospital before he was transferred to Ofer Prison. The detainee said in his letter that this virus infected several detainees while the hospital was unable to identify it. The virus apparently infected 30 detainees which forced the prison administration to isolate each detainee in one room. Fouad Al Khuffash, the director of the center, voiced an appeal to human rights groups to intervene and ensure adequate medical attention and checkups to the detainees in order to ensure that they would receive proper treatment and avoid complications.

Anti siege committee warns of spread of epidemics in Gaza due to fuel crisis
Palestinian Information Center 4/30/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The popular committee against the siege warned of serious epidemic outbreaks among the Palestinian citizens in the besieged Gaza Strip due to the Israeli persistence in not allowing fuel supplies into Gaza which are used to operate drainage systems and garbage collection vehicles in addition to chlorine used to disinfect drinking water. The committee warned of possible wastewater flooding in Gaza streets after drainage wells stopped working because of the fuel crisis. The committee pointed out that after its warnings of complete power outage in Gaza, the ambulance crisis came to the surface as many of the Palestinian citizens who were wounded in Israeli military aggressions were transferred by carts pulled by animals. The committee also warned that the operating rooms in hospitals shut down after the nitrous gas used to narcotize patients during surgeries ran out.

UNRWA: unable to work in Gaza due to lack of fuel imports imposed by Israeli government
Palestine News Network 4/30/2008
Gaza / PNN -- Spokesman for the Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, UNRWA, Adnan Abu Hassan, said efforts were underway by the Agency at all levels to supply fuel to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip. The UNRWA called on "Israel to allow the population to import fuel under international law." He called on the Palestinian factions to halt the resistance targeting crossings, saying they must refrain from attacks on border crossings, while he said that the security of the crossings is essential and there must be no resistance so that "we can introduce fuel and provisions of the Gaza Strip." He continued to say that his efforts now must provide for the Gaza Strip’s materials and fuel supply at the same time the Palestinians must ensure the security of those crossings and not be allowed to launch projectiles.

Al-Aqsa Brigades fighter evades capture in Jenin
Ma’an News Agency 4/30/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – Israeli forces raided home of wanted Palestinian activist Ammar Abu Ghalyun in Jenin refugee camp after midnight on Wednesday. Ghalyun is affiliated to Fatah’s armed wing, the Al-Aqsa Brigades. Local sources told Ma’an’s reporter that undercover Israeli forces entered the camp after midnight in three Palestinian-plated cars at midnight and surrounded Abu Ghalyun’s house. Then more than 20 Israeli military vehicles invaded the camp and closed all its entrances amidst heavy gunfire. They ordered Abu Ghalun through a loudspeaker to turn himself over. They recieved no answer because he was not at home. Local sources added that after a number of unanswered calls, the soldiers broke into the house and damaged its interior as they searched for Abu Ghalun. When they failed to find him in his own home, the Israeli troops broke into neighboring houses and searched them, again in vain.

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Gaza survive an Israeli missile attack
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 4/30/2008
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an offshot of Fatah party in Gaza survived on Wednesday an Israeli missile attack in the northern Gaza Strip city of Beit Hanoun. In a statement, faxed to press, the brigades confirmed that a number of their fighters survived early on Wednesday morning an Israeli land-to-land missile just near the Agriculture college in the Beit Hanoun city in northern Gaza Strip. The statement also read that the brigades’ fighters managed to launch two homemade shells onto the nearby Israeli town of Sderot. " the aL-Aqsa brigades is determined to keep up in the path of resistance until the Israeli occupation comes to an end", the statement further read. Over the past five months, the Israeli army has stepped up attacks on Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza, in what Israel says ’crackdown on launchers of homemade shells’.

Sderot: Qassams hit during Holocaust ceremony
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 4/30/2008
Two rockets fall in Negev town after Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony opens in sheltered cultural center. Mayor: Our answer to terrorism is not being afraid -Two Qassam rockets landed in an open area near Sderot Wednesday night shortly after the Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony began in the western Negev town’s sheltered cultural center. No injuries or casualties were reported. The western Negev was hit with 15 Qassam rockets since the morning hours. Mayor of Sderot, Eli Moyal, told Ynet that "While the IDF Central and Southern Commands asked us to take precautions, they permitted us to hold the ceremony opposite the Holocaust monument in Sderot. On Wednesday morning we received many requests from Holocaust survivors who reside in Sderot asking us to move the ceremony to the cultural center.

Undercover Israeli forces seize Fatah activist in Ramallah
Ma’an News Agency 4/30/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized a Fatah-affiliated activist in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday. Local sources told Ma’an that an undercover Israeli force entered the Ash-Sharafa neighborhood of Ramallah near Al-Am’ary refugee camp and seized 27-year-old Muhammad Da’amin who has been pursued by the Israelis for five years. Local sources said the Da’amin have evaded previous attempts at his arrest. [end]

Palestinian fighters launch barrage of projectiles and mortars into Israel
Ma’an News Agency 4/30/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Several Palestinian military organizations fired barrages of homemade projectiles at Israeli towns bordering the Gaza Strip on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, the groups said. Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Brigades said on Wednesday that their fighters launched three homemade projectiles at the town of Sderot. Separately, another group affiliated to Fatah, the Al-Mujahidin Brigades, claimed responsibility on Tuesday evening for launching two mortar shells at the Israeli military post at Nahal Oz. A third Fatah-affiliated group called the Abu Ammar Brigades said its fighters launched two homemade projectiles at Sderot on Tuesday evening. For their part, the Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, said their fighters fired five mortar shells at Nahal Oz at midnight on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the military wing of the. . .

IOA decides to wipe out Palestinian village
Palestinian Information Center 4/30/2008
JENIN, (PIC)-- Apparently bowing to pressures from the Israeli military institution, the Israeli high court issued a ruling entitling the Israeli occupation authority to confiscate most of the land in the Palestinian village of Al-Aqaba that overlooks the Jordanian valley. Palestinian villagers dwelling in the city accused the Israeli court of prejudice, affirming that the Israeli occupation army wants their land to use it for military purposes.  The village is situated in a strategic location overlooking the Jordanian valley region near the West Bank city of Tobas. Sami Sadek, the head of the village’s municipal council, explained that the IOA presented a new structural scheme that sharply reduced the total area of the village from 3,500 dunums (1 dunum= 1000 sq meter) to 100 dunums only, spurring the villagers to file a protest with the high court against the said plan.

As Qassams pound Negev, Sderot residents urge boycott of Independence Day
Mijal Greenberg, and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 5/1/2008
As the Qassam rocket barrage on Israel continued on Wednesday, a group of residents of the rocket-stricken town of Sderot called for a boycott of the Independence Day celebrations, scheduled for next week. At least ten rockets and three mortar shells were fired on Wednesday at the western Negev from the Northern Gaza Strip. There were no injuries reported in any of the incidents, but a woman and child were treated for shock when a rocket struck the Ashkelon regional council. Two of the Qassams sparked a fire in an open area near Sderot on Wednesday, another struck next to a school in the southern town, and another hit the Sha’ar Hanegev regional council’s Industrial district. None of these rocket attacks caused casualties or property damage. Yossi Timsit, whose wife was seriously injured after a Qassam rocket hit their. . .

Former Shin Bet figure: Why didn’t guards protect Barak?
Yossi Verter, Ha’aretz 5/1/2008
A former senior Shin Bet security service officer yesterday blasted bodyguards from the service for failing to protect party leader and defense minister Ehud Barak at a violent incident earlier this week, in what he called "an extremely serious security and protection failure." Shin Bet guards stood by while a Labor Party activist attacked Barak and Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon at a gathering at the party’s headquarters in Tel Aviv on Monday. Sami Shoshan, a brother-in-law of former party leader Amir Peretz’s reportedly assaulted Barak and Simhon, slamming a microphone in Simhon’s face and snatching a microphone from Barak. Eyewitnesses said Barak was injured, but throughout the incident, which lasted several minutes, the security guards refrained from intervening or protecting Barak, as is their duty.

Palestine Today 043008
Aaron Lakoff, International Middle East Media Center News 4/30/2008
Click here to download or play MP3 file| 3. 66 MB | 4m 0s Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, www. imemc. org, for Thursday April 10th, 2008. The Israeli army invades Gaza and attacks farmers, while in the West Bank Israeli troops kidnap 10 civilians, these stories and more coming up stay tuned. On Wednesday morning at approximately 1am, Israeli troops raided the Al Shariya girls orphanage and school in the southern West Bank city of Hebron. They destroyed a sewing workshop in the school’s basement. The raid came after an ultimatum of April 28th was given by the Israeli army General of Command to close and evacuate all properties and institutions funded by the Islamic Charitable Society, including the Al Shariya school. The Israel army claims that the ICS has ties to Hamas, but the society denies this allegation.

Israel awaits Gaza deaths report
Al Jazeera 4/30/2008
The death of a Palestinian woman and her children, killed during an Israeli air raid on Gaza, was caused by explosives carried by a fighter, rather than the missile, an Israeli investigation is likely to say. Israeli public radio reported the investigation’s findings on Wednesday, prior to the report being submitted to Israel’s military chiefs. The report, by the Israeli military, said an aircraft had fired a missile at four fighters standing close to the house in Beit Hanoun where the family was killed. It said there were two explosions and investigators believed the second one was caused by explosives carried by one of the fighters. The report concluded that explosion led to the death of Meissar Abu Megteg, the mother, and four of her children, aged one to five. The findings are at odds with other reports of the incident, including from Ahmed Abu Megteg, who witnessed the explosion that killed his wife and children. He told Al Jazeera there were no fighters or fighting in the area.

B’Tselem demands a criminal probe into the killing of five family members in Gaza
Saed Bannoura Editorial Group, International Middle East Media Center News 4/30/2008
The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Tselem) demanded the advocate general of the Israeli Army to open a criminal investigation into the circumstances which led the death of five family members of Al Mo’attiq family in Beit Hanoun, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, after the army shelled their home. The incident took place on April 28. The shell killed four children and their mother. The slain children were identified as Ahmed Abu Moatiq, 1 year old, Hanna, 3, Saleh, 4, Rodaina, 6. B’Tselem sent a letter to the advocate general demanding him "to consider the criminal probe without regard to the inquiry currently underway by an investigating officer, and that it should also focus on the responsibility of the command echelon". An investigation carried by B’Tselem indicated that the Israeli air force fired a missile at three Palestinian. . .

B’Tselem: IDF probe into death of Gazan family not enough
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 4/30/2008
The B’Tselem human rights organization urged the Military Advocate General on Wednesday to launch a criminal investigation into the killing of a Gaza mother and four children on Monday. Israel and Hamas have traded accusations over the incident. Hamas maintains that an IDF tank fired a shell that killed the family, while the Israel Defense Forces said the deaths were caused by a "secondary explosion" after two missiles troops fired against Palestinian militants near the family’s tin-hut home detonated explosive devices carried by the militants. While the IDF has already appointed an officer to lead an inquest into the incident, B’Tselem maintains it is not enough, and an additional independent probe should tackle the responsibility of the higher echelons and the wider systemic implications.

World’s largest key? Right of Return in refugee camp
Munjed Jadou, Palestine News Network 4/30/2008
Bethlehem - The Aida Youth Activity Center is located in northern Bethlehem’s Aida Refugee Camp. Today it has launched a project to build a gigantic structure in the shape of key hole, in addition to the largest iron key which goes next to it. This is all in memorial of 60 years of Al Nakba, the Catastrophe. The key is 10 meters long and weighs two tons The key hole structure is about 12 meters high. The key hole structure is about 12 meters high. The key represents the symbol of Right of Return, United Nations resolution 194, for Palestinians over the years. This comes to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (The Catastrophe) in 1948. Mr. Munther Ameera, the Director of the Center, asserts that this campaign aims at raising awareness to the unsolved and forgotten problem of Palestinian refugees.

For Holocaust memorial, Israelis further restrict Palestinian movement in West Bank
Palestine News Network 4/30/2008
Jerusalem / PNN -- The West Bank will be more closed than usual on Thursday as the Israelis memorialize the holocaust in Europe during WWII. An Israeli military spokesperson announced Wednesday that Israel decided to close the West Bank on the occasion of the Holocaust memorial. The spokesperson explained that this procedure, "for security reasons" will begin tonight and will last through the end of Thursday. The official memorial, in addition to enclosing the Palestinian population, will begin the day by firing sirens at 8:00 pm local time today. The Israeli President and Prime Minister will be among several Israeli officials attending the function.

IDF: Troops who killed Reuters cameraman didn’t know they were firing at T.V. crew
Reuters, Ha’aretz 5/1/2008
Israel Defense Forces troops were unable to identify Reuters News cameraman Fadel Shana as a journalist before they fired at him from a tank, the army said on Wednesday, citing the preliminary results of an investigation. Shana died while filming on a road in central Gaza on April 16. Five other Palestinians also died in the attack. Shana had been travelling in a vehicle that was marked with large press and TV stickers on the front and sides and was wearing blue body armour with "Press" in large blue letters on a white fluorescent panel on the front. Responding to repeated requests for an official explanation of the incident, IDF spokeswoman Major Avital Leibovich said the army had not yet completed its investigation but would provide a full account as soon as possible.

24 year old Palestinian man shot twice by illegal settlers
International Womens’ Peace Service 4/30/2008
Date of incident: 24. 04. 2008 - Time: 8 am - Place: Yasuf, Salfit District - Witness/es: family members - Description of Incident: A 24 year old Palestinian man was shot and seriously injured at 8 am on Thursday, 24 April by Israeli settlers from the illegal extremist settlement Tapuah. At the time of the shooting, the young man was standing with a group of friends in front of his house, which is located on the outskirts of Yusuf village, towards Iskaka. The house is located at the opposite end of the village to where the settlement of Tappauch is. IWPS members visited the young man in the Salfit District hospital and spoken with both him and his attending physician. The young man reported that he and some of his friends were gathered at the front of the house and noticed at least 6 settlers about twenty meters away on the hill above the house.

Palestinian factions agree on ceasefire, call for restored Palestinian unity
Ma’an News Agency 4/30/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Twelve Palestinian political and military factions have agreed in principle to accept a ceasefire with Israel. However, Palestinian leaders agreed that any agreement should be bilateral, apply to both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and include an end to the siege of the Gaza Strip. Leaders from a dozen minor factions are in Cairo this week meeting with Egyptian mediators. The talks will resume on Wednesday. The Egyptian mediators are scheduled to resume on Wednesday a round of negotiations with 12 Palestinian factions hoping to reach a ceasefire agreement with Israel. The Egyptian Al-Ahram newspaper quoted most of the Palestinian factions who took part in the talks as saying that they ceasefire should be immediately followed by Egyptian-supervised talks aimed at restoring Palestinian national unity.

U.S Secretary of States says Washington to keep up sidelining Hamas
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 4/30/2008
U. S Secretary of States, Condoleezza Rice, reiterated yesterday that Washington would keep up sidelining the Islamist Hamas party in Gaza, wondering of what she considered ’negotiating with a group that wants a tactical agreement in order to wage a war in a later stage’. Rice asserted that sidelining Hamas would continue until the party opts for peace as a ’strategic choice’. In her meeting with representatives of the Jewish community in Washington yesterday night , the U. S secretary described Hamas as fighters, who are commissioned by the Iranian regime, in order to destabilize regional security and destroy the state of Israel. Nevertheless, Rice believed that there is a chance to reach some kind of compromise between the Palestinians and Israel by the end of 2008, urging Israel to produce what she called ’some concessions’ for the sake of peace.

All 12 Palestinian factions agree to Gaza cease-fire
Yoav Stern, Barak Ravid, Amos Harel, and Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 5/1/2008
Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman is expected to arrive in Israel shortly to receive Israel’s official response to the Egyptian cease-fire proposal, Palestinian sources in Cairo said yesterday. Suleiman is to report to Israel on the agreement reached with the Palestinian factions yesterday, who are offering Israel calm in the Gaza Strip in exchange for the opening of the crossing points into the Strip, including the Rafa border crossing with Egypt. The official Egyptian news agency MENA reported that all 12 Palestinian factions whose representatives were in Cairo had accepted the Egyptian proposal. Egypt was not able to get the factions to themselves declare a united position on the agreement, as it had hoped. The proposal reportedly include a general, bilateral truce, to be implemented gradually in the Gaza Strip and later in the West Bank.

Egyptian official: We expect Israel to implement tahadiya agreement
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 5/1/2008
Egypt is expecting Israel to accept and implement the cease-fire proposal agreed on yesterday by the Palestinian factions, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit’s bureau chief said yesterday. Speaking by phone to Haaretz from Cairo, Hossam Zaki, who is also the Egyptian Foreign Ministry’s spokesman, said: "The Israelis are giving themselves plenty of time to think and evaluate. . . Israel can contribute by accepting the Egyptian effort and the tahadiya [calm]." Zaki was in Israel at the beginning of the week and met with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, ahead of her expected meeting tomorrow with Aboul Gheit in London during the conference of donor countries to the Palestinian Authority. Zaki said he brought up the subject of the tahadiya with Livni." What is important is to know that tahadiya is a good thing for civilians.

Islamic Jihad Sets Conditions for Truce With Israel
Alaa Shahine, MIFTAH 4/30/2008
The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad said on Tuesday any possible truce with Israel would not restrict its right to respond to strikes by the Jewish state in the West Bank. Abu Emad al-Rifaie, a senior member of Islamic Jihad, said the group told Egyptian mediators that it approved -- with qualifications -- a Hamas proposal for a truce with Israel that starts in the Gaza Strip." This approval is under the condition that in the event of any Israeli aggression against our mujahideen (fighters) or people in the West Bank. . . we reserve our right to respond to such massacres," he told Reuters in Cairo after talks with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. The Islamist movement Hamas has said extending the ceasefire to Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank was "an option". Egypt invited 12 Palestinian groups for talks to form a consensus on Hamas’ six-month ceasefire proposal last week between Palestinians and Israel.

King, Mubarak Warn Against ‘Lack of Enthusiasm’ for Peace
The Jordan Times, MIFTAH 4/30/2008
His Majesty King Abdullah and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Monday warned against reluctance in peace efforts, stressing that the Palestinians should see tangible results on the ground as soon as possible. Lukewarmness and reluctance to push the peace process forward, they said at their Sharm El Sheikh summit, would exacerbate the situation and lead to further tension and frustration in the region, a Royal Court statement said. King Abdullah and Mubarak reiterated that any solution to the Palestinian issue should be based on relevant international legitimacy resolutions and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. They said the envisioned solution should lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. They urged intensified work to remove all obstacles slowing down negotiations under way between the Palestinians and Israelis to address the final status issues, saying that these talks need a proper atmosphere so that they achieve their goals in accordance with a fixed timeframe.

PFLP leaders meet with Arab league chief, Egyptian mediator
Ma’an News Agency 4/30/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – High-ranking leaders from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) met on Wednesday with Egyptian intelligence chief Umar Sulaiman, who is working to broker a ceasefire between Palestinian factions and Israel. The PFLP’s deputy secretary general, Abdul-Rahim Malluh, said that PFLP leaders also met with the Arab League’s Secretary General Amr Mousa to discuss efforts at restoring Palestinian unity. Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar reiterated on Tuesday that his movement, which controls the Gaza Strip, is prepared to accept a bilateral ceasefire. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of Hamas’ rival, Fatah, expressed quiet support for a ceasefire. Malluh said priority should be given to bridging the gap between Hamas and Fatah. He added that the PFLP would not oppose any agreement that Palestinians unanimously agree on, especially if it ends the siege on the Gaza Strip.

Rice: Young Palestinians losing hope for peace
Associated Press, YNetNews 4/30/2008
In her address to American Jewish Committee’s annual meeting, US secretary of state says: ’What we don’t want is that the hopelessness and the vision of the extremists have no counter’ - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told an American Jewish audience Tuesday that young Palestinians are losing hope for an agreement with Israel." Increasingly, the Palestinians who talk about a two-state solution are my age," Rice, 53, said in a somber speech to The American Jewish Committee at its 102nd annual meeting. Insisting that the Bush administration will never yield to dealing with Hamas militants, Rice said, "What you don’t want is that the hopelessness and the vision of the extremists have no counter." Set to leave early Thursday for more jawboning with moderate Arabs and Israeli leaders, after talks in London designed to raise more economic. . .

Palestinians offer Israel new truce proposal
Middle East Online 4/30/2008
CAIRO - All Palestinian militant groups meeting in Cairo have accepted an Egyptian-mediated proposal for a truce with Israel, the official MENA news agency said on Wednesday, citing well-informed sources." All Palestinian factions, forces and parties have accepted Egypt’s proposal on truce with Israel," MENA quoted the sources as saying, referring to Hamas, Fatah and the 12 factions currently in Cairo. The deal on a period of calm with Israel has already been accepted by the democratically elected movement Hamas, while Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, from rival Fatah, on Sunday gave the negotiations unconditional support. MENA said an official statement would be released later in the day once Egyptian intelligence chief and chief mediator with Israel Omar Suleiman finishes his two days of talks with the factions on Wednesday.

Bush won’t present his final-status guidelines for now, say U.S. officials
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 5/1/2008
Senior U. S. administration officials stressed during meetings last week in Washington with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that President George Bush does not intend at this stage to present guidelines of his own for resolving the core issues of an Israeli-Palestinian permanent peace agreement. An American official who met with Abbas in Washington said that the latter was deeply disappointed by the administration’s unwillingness to pressure Israel on this issue. Abbas’ visit to Washington was a first stop in a political campaign he has launched with the aim of lambasting Israel on two issues - continued construction in settlements, and what he terms "major gaps on the borders issue." According to a political source in Jerusalem, Abbas decided two weeks ago to take up this critical line against Israel with the idea of pushing it during his Washington trip, at the donor. . .

Truce Deal / Hamas claims victory
Zvi Bar''el, Ha’aretz 5/1/2008
Several Arab states were required to bring about the truce with the Palestinian factions in Cairo yesterday. Egypt orchestrated the move, but in coordination with Jordan and Saudi Arabia and with Syria’s assistance. The Egyptians’ resolve stemmed from their fear that Hamas would carry out its threats of another breach of the border, with thousands of Gazans spilling into Egyptian territory. Hamas’ rigid opening position included a comprehensive cease-fire both in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a written commitment for a full opening of the Rafah border crossing and a prisoners’ release. These required flexibility on Egypt’s part, which is reflected in an explicit promise - Hamas says it is a real commitment although apparently it was not given in writing - to open the border. This promise softened Mahmoud a-Zahar’s stance and he accepted the "Gaza first" idea.

Gilad Shalit`s father: Gaza truce must include my son`s release
Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 5/1/2008
The father of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit told Haaretz on Wednesday that the government must make his son’s release a top priority when considering an Egptian-mediated truce proposal with Gaza militants. Noam Shalit said every pending deal must address this issue, adding that he has yet to hear from an authorized source about the progress made in the talks on the imminent truce." We haven’t heard anything concrete, and everything is still confined to rumors and word of mouth, but I nonetheless expect the issue of Gilad’s predicament to be a top priority," he said. Lobbyists for Gilad Shalit and two other soldiers held in captivity by Hezbollah - Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev - have voiced their disappointment in the marginalization of the issue in the talks.

The Hamas government hails factions’ agreement to the ceasefire offer
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 4/30/2008
The Hamas-dominated government in Gaza hailed on Wednesday the Palestinian factions’ agreement to the ceasefire proposal, Hamas had submitted to Egyptian mediators last week. In a statement, faxed to press, the government of prime minister, Ismail Haniya, said the agreement by factions today in Cairo comes on top of Egyptian efforts to bridge the gap between the various affiliations regarding the ceasefire offer. The statement turned the ball into Israel’s court, urging the international community to pressure the Israeli government in order to end underway hostilities as well as the Palestinian people’s suffering. Media reports said today that representatives of the various Palestinian factions in Gaza had a consensus on the Hamas’s ceasefire initiative, with the reservation of the Islamic Jihad group, the popular front for the liberation of Palestine and the democratic front for the liberation of Palestine.

Cartaker gov’t: The ball now is in Israel’s court after we agreed on calm plan
Palestinian Information Center 4/30/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The caretaker government headed by premier Ismail Haneyya welcomed Wednesday the Palestinian factions’ consensus on the Egyptian proposal regarding the comprehensive truce, provided that it is implemented in Gaza first and then in the West Bank, pointing out that the ball now is in the court of the Israeli government. In a statement received by the PIC, the government stressed the need to respect this united position of the Palestinian factions and to respond to their demands which includes ending all forms of aggression on the Palestinian people, lifting the siege, and opening the border terminals including the Rafah crossing according to the mechanisms agreed with Egypt. In another statement received by the PIC, Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, stated that Cairo’s announcement that the Palestinian factions reached a consensus on the truce under its auspices is. . .

Hamas: Abbas’s Arab tour attempts to seek cover for failure of negotiations
Palestinian Information Center 4/30/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Wednesday said that the current Arab tour of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas was an attempt to seek an Arab cover for his "miserable failure" in negotiations with occupation. Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in a press release that Abbas is personally responsible for the failure and for the current condition of the Palestine cause because he wholly wagered on the American and Israeli agenda at the expense of Palestinian national rights and interests. Abbas was also the one who promoted the Annapolis conference and urged Arab countries to participate in it and spoke about its agenda and details more than the White House spokesman, Abu Zuhri elaborated. The Hamas spokesman appealed to the Saudi monarch King Abdullah to pressure Abbas to return to dialogue with the Palestinian people instead of negotiating with occupation and to oblige. . .

Olmert to take ’necessary’ steps to handle the situation in Gaza
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 4/30/2008
Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, stressed on Tuesday that his government will soon take some necessary actions to handle the situation in the Gaza Strip, while his intelligence service chief, Amos Gil’ad, accused Hamas of attempting to breach border lines. Israeli media sources reported that Olmert is considering a new security and economic plan for the town of Sderot and other Israeli settlement populations, located near the Gaza Strip. Palestinian resistance factions in Gaza involving Hamas , continue to fire homemade shells into Sderot and other nearby Israeli towns, within what they call ’ a natural reaction to the Israeli occupation attacks on Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank’. Meanwhile, chief of Israeli intelligence service known or SHABAK, Amos Gil’ad, revealed that the ruling Hamas party in Gaza and other factions in the Strip, have plans to carry on attacks. . .

Security Cabinet objects to ceasefire with Hamas
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 4/30/2008
Ministers receive briefing on Gaza situation, terror alerts, Egyptian efforts to broker truce between Israel, Hamas. Final decision on lull deferred - The Security Cabinet met Wednesday and discussed the Egyptian efforts to mediate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, as relayed after Former US President Jimmy Carter’s visit to the region. The majority of the cabinet ministers voiced their objection to the move, saying any ceasefire on Israel’s part would only allow Hamas to regroup, rearm and recruit more operatives before it continues its attacks on Israel. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert chose to refrain from making any definitive decision during the meeting, saying he would rather wait for the defense establishment to study the offer first. Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter, who took part in the meeting, said the move might be perceived as legitimizing Hamas: "We have to reach a

Olmert visits Jordan, meets king Abdullah II
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 4/30/2008
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with the Jordanian Monarch, King Abdullah II, in a visit to the Jordanian capital, Amman, on Wednesday afternoon, the Arabs48 news website reported. The website added that according to Israeli sources, Olmert and Abdullah discussed "the latest developments of the Peace Process" and the ways to implement the decisions of the Annapolis Peace Summit. The visit comes after king Abdullah visited Washington last week in an attempt to urge the United States to exert pressure on Israel to ease its stances and pressures on the Palestinian Authority. The sources said that king Abdullah told Olmert that it is essential that peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians would lead to an agreement by the end of this year, and that this agreement should be based on the two-state solution in accordance to the commitments of both parties as agreed in the Annapolis summit.

Olmert in unscheduled visit to Jordan
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 4/30/2008
Prime minister briefs King Abdullah on recent political developments during surprise stopover in Amman, leaders discuss joint economic initiatives, Jordanian aid to Palestinian Authority -Prime Minister Ehud Olmert landed in Amman on Wednesday afternoon for an unannounced visit with King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. During his two-hour stop in the capital Olmert briefed the king on various regional developments and the two went on to discuss joint economic projects between Israel and Jordan as well as the aid provided by the latter to the Palestinian Authority." The two leaders discussed the peace process and ways to make progress towards the objectives set at the Annapolis conference," Olmert’s office said in a statement following the meeting. The prime minister’s office stressed that Wednesday’s was one of the routine meetings held between the two.

Jordan condemns Israeli actions against Palestinians
Palestine News Network 4/30/2008
Amman / PNN -- On Wednesday Jordan strongly condemned the unjust Israeli blockade against the Palestinians and the repeated attacks. The country’s official newspaper cited Monday’s killing of six Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, including a mother and her four children. The Minister of State for Information and Communication Nasser Joudah reported that Jordan strongly condemned the latest Israeli aggressions. He added that Saudi Arabia also condemns the repeated Israeli aggressions against the Palestinian people and the unjust blockade. He considered that the embargo which has caused an ongoing humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip, the repeated Israeli attacks and the targeting of innocent civilians are all flagrant violations of international humanitarian law in general, and the Fourth Geneva Convention concerning the Protection of Civilian Persons in particular.

During surprise talks in Amman, Abdullah tells PM peace deal must be reached by year’s end
Reuters, Ha’aretz 4/30/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert held talks in Jordan on Wednesday with Jordanian King Abdullah II on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. A palace statement said during the closed-door talks, Abdullah urged Olmert to work on improving the living conditions of Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The talks on an Amman hilltop palace come as part of the king’s efforts to push forward peace negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis. The Jordanian statement said the king told Olmert that his negotiations with the Palestinians must lead to an agreement between both sides before the end of the year, according to the two-state solution and pledges by all sides at the Annapolis meeting, in reference to the international U. S. -hosted peace conference in Maryland, last November.

British Jews call for boycotting Israel’s independence celebrations
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 4/30/2008
A group of 100 famous academics, authors, actors and public figures of the Jewish population in The United Kingdom signed a letter stating that they will be boycotting the Israeli independence celebrations marking the 60th anniversary, and stated that they "cannot celebrate the birth of a state which was founded on terrorism", The Guardian reported. The signatories of the statement said that Israel forced 70. 000 Palestinians into a "Death March" in 1948. The letter states that Israel forced 70. 000 Palestinians in 1948 out of their home in Lydda (Lod) And Ramleh "in the heat of the summer without food or water", and added that hundreds of them died in what became known Death March. The Guardian said that among the signatories of the letter is Haim Bresheeth, a professor at the University of East London. Prof. Bresheeth was the organizer of the call for an academic boycott against Israel.

Following boycott call, Dubai says Leviev has no license for planned jewelry stores
Adalah-NY Contact, International Solidarity Movement 4/30/2008
Boycott & sanctions - info@adalahny. org - www. adalahny. org - New York, NY, April 30 - In a sudden reversal, just 16 days after Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev publicly announced plans to open two new jewelry stores in Dubai this year, a high-level Dubai government official said that Leviev had no trade license to open a store in the Emirate. The report today in Dubai’s Gulf News, followed a flurry of media coverage of the April 18 call by Palestinians and New York activists for Dubai to boycott Leviev’s businesses over his companies’ settlement construction in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Issa Ayoub, a spokesperson for Adalah-NY, an activist group leading a boycott campaign against Leviev, commented, "We’re gratified that, by refusing trade licenses for Leviev, Dubai has joined the growing movement to boycott Leviev’s companies due to their violations of international law and human rights abuses in Palestine and Angola.

Gaza ’on point of explosion’ warns UN
Anne Penketh, Diplomatic Editor, The Independent 4/30/2008
Gaza is about to reach a "point of explosion" that could lead to another breakout by the desperate Palestinian population, trapped by an Israeli economic blockade, the most senior UN official in the territory has warned. Thousands of Palestinians surged across the border with Egypt last January after breaching the border fence in order to buy basic supplies which were no long obtainable in the Gaza Strip. John Ging, Gaza head of the UN Relief and Works Agency which supports Palestinian refugees, said yesterday that the breakout last January "was predicted, but the causes were not addressed". Now, he said, "pressure is building again and coming to a point of explosion". In testimony via videolink to the Commons International Development Committee, Mr Ging said the main problem was access in and out of Gaza. Describing humanitarian conditions in Gaza as "shocking" and "shameful". . .

Israel, EU agree on agriculture trade
Globes correspondent, Globes Online 4/30/2008
The deal is described as a major step forward in the integration of the EU and Israeli markets. The European Commission and Israel reached a common understanding today on mutual trade concessions in the fields of agricultural products, processed agricultural products and fisheries. According to the Delegation of the European Commission to the State of Israel, these trade concessions represent a major step forward in the integration of the EU and Israeli markets. For processed agricultural products, a high level of full liberalization of trade for both parties was achieved. For agricultural products, substantial progress was made towards full liberalization of trade. Regarding more sensitive agricultural products, market access improvement was achieved for both sides both by means of increasing existing duty free quotas and by creating new quotas.

Israel to allow shipments of international food aid into Gaza
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 4/30/2008
Israel decided on Wedensday to allow shipments of international food aid into the besieged Gaza Strip through an alternative crossing, as the Israeli closure of the coastal territory remains in place since June of last year. The Israeli radio, Hebrew service, reported that 10 trucks, loaded with Egyptian and international aid, would arrive in Gaza by the end of this week, through the Israeli-Egyptian crossing of aL-Auja in southern Israel. The Kerem Shalom Israeli commercial crossing, used for cargo into Gaza, was closed almost two weeks ago, when a Palestinian cross-border attack in southern Gaza Strip, wounded seven Israeli soldiers at the crossing. Meanwhile, all Gaza Strip’s crossings, bordering Israel, have been closed since June 2007, with partial opening for some food shipments and other essential item However, such supplies including fuel have been made very scarce for the past several months.

Israel to allow small shipment of international aid to Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 4/30/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel decided on Wednesday to allow a shipment of humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip from Egypt and from international organizations. The aid will pass first into Israel the Al-Uja crossing, and then into Gaza through the Sufa crossing, instead of coming directly from Egypt through either the Kerem Shalom or Rafah crossing points. According to Voice of Israel radio, the shipment includes 10 truckloads of goods. [2 pounds per person? - Ed. ]. [end]

Rice: Hamas serving as Iran’s ’proxy warriors’
Middle East Online 4/30/2008
WASHINGTON – The democratically elected Palestinian resistance movement Hamas is serving as the "proxy warriors" for an Iran bent on destroying Israel and destabilizing the Middle East, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice claimed Tuesday. In a speech to the American Jewish Committee in Washington, Rice mentioned Iran as not just a threat in the Palestinian territories, but also in Lebanon, Iraq and even in Afghanistan. Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz said after talks with Rice on Monday that an Iran-led front in the Middle East is becoming more powerful and weaknesses in it need to be found. Rice vowed to pursue US efforts to isolate democratically elected Hamas." But perhaps of deepest concern, the leaders of Hamas are increasingly serving as the proxy warriors of an Iranian regime that is destabilizing the region, seeking a nuclear capability and proclaiming its desire to destroy Israel," Rice told the group’s annual meeting.

Israel: Amnesty Program for Palestinian Gunmen a Success
The Associated Press, MIFTAH 4/30/2008
Israeli defense officials say an amnesty program meant to get Palestinian militants to surrender their weapons has been a success. Under last year’s program, Israel offered to stop hunting down dozens of West Bank militants if they agreed to halt violent activities. The men are required to surrender their weapons, serve a brief sentence in a Palestinian jail and pass a probationary term. A senior Israeli security official says 281 gunmen accepted the offer. He says just six have returned to violence. The offer applied only to members of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement. The official said Tuesday there are no plans to extend the offer to Hamas or other Islamic militant groups. Source: The Associated Press, 29 April.

Hamas: Bush, Barak’s statements reveal scheme to liquidate Palestine cause
Palestinian Information Center 4/30/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Wednesday described as "serious escalation" the American administration and the Israeli occupation authority’s provocative statements against Hamas and Gaza Strip. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in a statement that the statements point to a plan to commit more crimes against the Palestinian people. He said that the statements reflect the nature of the upcoming stage that would follow American president George Bush’s visit to the region, and also display the unlimited American support to the IOA in its scheme to liquidate the Palestine cause. Barhoum predicted more American support especially after the unanimous Congress decision considering Palestine a homeland for the Jews. He said that the decision furnished the way before the IOA to commence a fresh ethnic cleansing campaign in Palestine similar to the one that led to the establishment of the USA.

Islamic Jihad: Ki-Moon’s statements give Israel pretexts to commit more crimes
Palestinian Information Center 4/30/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Islamic Jihad Movement strongly denounced Tuesday the statements of Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, in which he called on the Israeli occupation to show restraint, describing them as coy statements giving Israel pretexts to continue its crimes against the Palestinian people. In a press statement received by the PIC, Khaled Al-Batesh, the spokesman for Islamic Jihad, charged that Ki-Moon deliberately turns a blind eye to the atrocities committed by the Israeli occupation against the Palestinians and publicly criticizes the legitimate Palestinian resistance. Batesh pointed out that the security council and the UN are no longer neutral organizations and lost their credibility and role as international institutions, calling on the Arab governments and peoples to assume their responsibilities towards the oppressed Palestinian people and to protect them especially after Israel escalated its military operations against Gaza.

Bush to Visit Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt in May
The Associated Press, MIFTAH 4/30/2008
US President George W. Bush will visit Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt in May, a trip intended to hail Israel’s 60th anniversary but also shove along Mideast peace talks that have stalled as Bush’s term winds down. The White House on Monday released details of Bush’s trip, the broad outline of which had been expected for weeks. Bush, who was in the Middle East in January to try to advance peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, had indicated at that time he would return in May to honor Israel’s founding. Pushing for a peace deal before he leaves office next January - including the contours of a Palestinian state - Bush has stepped up his hands-on diplomacy. His trip runs from May 13 to 18. Bush has no plans to hold talks in the West Bank this time, but will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Egypt.

Libya stands by comparison of Nazi concentration camps, Gaza
Reuters, Ha’aretz 5/1/2008
Libya stands by its United Nation envoy’s comparison of the plight of Palestinians in Gaza to the Holocaust and deplores a walkout by Western diplomats in protest at the comments, official Libyan media reported on Wednesday. Libya’s Foreign Ministry summoned the ambassadors of France, Belgium and Britain and the U. S. charge d’affaires and asked them to explain the April 23 walkout at the UN Security Council, the Jana news agency reported. Western UN envoys walked out of a Council discussion that day after a Libyan diplomat likened the plight of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to the Nazi Holocaust." The Libyan representative at the Security Council was right to express the stance of his country," Jana quoted Abdelatti Abidi, head of the ministry’s European Affairs department, as saying.

Olmert: The voices of Holocaust deniers are being heard
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 5/1/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert lashed out at Holocaust deniers during a ceremony to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day at Yad Vashem on Wednesday saying, "The voices of those who deny the Holocaust are also being heard. To them, the haters, the deniers, and all the conspirators of evil and to all of those who allow them to function within their realms, we say today: This shall never happen again." Olmert added "Historical accuracy doesn’t interest you. . . You want to negate the moral basis of the state of Israel. [But] Israel was not created because of the Holocaust, rather as an expression of the right of the Jewish people to its homeland." "Sixty-three years have passed since the Satanic factories of death of the Nazis and their collaborators seized to operate, yet with the passing of time, the dimensions of the Holocaust still remain beyond comprehension,. . .

’Israel must be decisive’
Tova Dadon, YNetNews 4/30/2008
Opposition Chairman Netanyahu tells local press in southern Israel ‘government’s blindness’ to blame for Israel’s inability to curtail incessant Qassam barrages - “There will be no choice but to overthrow Hamas. They are essentially Iranian offshoots sitting within us. It’s intolerable that Israel allows its cities to be fired upon; we must move from a war of attrition to a war of decisivness,” said Opposition Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday in a meeting with local journalists in Netivot as he addressed Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza. Netanyahu asserted that less than 500 Qassams were fired towards Israel prior to the disengagement in 2005, whereas since the pullout there have been over 4,000 rockets. “This is a result of the government’s blindness and erroneous political decisions, which led to the strengthening of the Hizbullah in the North,” added Netanyah.

MK Eldad to Barak: Security on W. Bank roads is deteriorating
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 4/30/2008
MK Arieh Eldad (National Union-National Religious Party) has recently complained to Defense Minister Ehud Barak about the deteriorating security situation along roads in the West Bank. Eldad’s petition to the defense minister came amid a number of attempted shooting attacks by West Bank militants over the past few days. On Tuesday night, Palestinian gunmen fired at homes in the Adi Ad outpost near the West Bank settlement of Shiloh, causing no casualties. Eldad wrote that incidents of "the throwing of stones, firebombs, and attacks on vehicles on roads in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] have recently been increasing, and are often accompanied by [militants’] attempts to block the path of Israeli civilians’ vehicles and then lynch their occupants." Tuesday was not the first time Palestinians have opened fire on Adi Ad, one of the region’s older outposts.

Israel commemorates Holocaust Wednesday evening
Ynet, YNetNews 4/30/2008
Shoah annual memorial events to begin Wednesday evening with state ceremony at Yad Vashem - Memorial events commemorating Remembrance Day for the Holocaust and Heroism will begin on Wednesday at 7:30 pm with a state ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem. President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will deliver speeches during the ceremony, and Holocaust survivors will light up six torches, in memory of the six millions murdered in the Shoah. A ceremony attended by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will be held at 8:00 pm at the Massuah Amphitheater in Kibbutz Tel Yitzhak. Veteran Israelis who arrived to Israel on the ship Exodus will light up the Torch of Revival. A panel of Holocaust survivors and academics will be held at Yad Vashem at 10:00 pm.

Israel remains on US Priority Watch list
Yael Gross-Englander and Gali Weinreb, Globes Online 4/30/2008
The list consists of countries which the US feels violate intellectual property rights. For the third consecutive year, Israel has earned the dubious honor of being listed on the Priority Watch List of the US Office of the Trade Representative (USTR). The list consists of countries which the US feels blatantly violate intellectual property rights. Also on the list together with Israel are China, Russia, Argentina, Chile, India, Pakistan, Venezuela, and Thailand. The USTR hinted in the report that it may seek to block Israel’s admittance to the OECD, if Israel does not amend its intellectual property legislation." The US expects Israel to provide an appropriately high level of IP protection that reflects its status as a partner in the US - Israel FTA and its objective of becoming a member of the OECD," it wrote.

Al Gore to address Tel Aviv University energy conference
Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 4/30/2008
Gore will also be awarded the 2008 Dan David Prize for his social commitment to environmental protection. Former US Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Al Gore will deliver the opening address at the Tel Aviv University’s Renewable Energy and Beyond conference on May 20-21. Gore will also be awarded the 2008 Dan David Prize for his social commitment to environmental protection and the prevention of a global ecological disaster. Tel Aviv University is organizing the first international conference on Renewable Energy and Beyond, which will cover technological, economic, political and others aspects relating to the switch to renewable energies as a substitute for oil and coal. Israel President Shimon Peres and other Israeli leaders will also attend. Speakers will include US Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency Alexander Karsner, Inter-American Development. . .

European campaign: Tragedies speed up in Gaza due to Israel’s attacks and siege
Palestinian Information Center 4/30/2008
BRUSSELS, (PIC)-- The European campaign to lift the siege warned that the ongoing Israeli attacks, which are carried out on the Gaza Strip simultaneously with the suffocating siege imposed ten months ago, accelerate occurrence of unprecedented disasters and catastrophic conditions in the Strip. In a statement received by the PIC, the campaign pointed out that victims of the last Israeli massacre, a mother and her four children, were transferred to hospital on carts pulled by donkeys after the ambulances stopped working due to the lack of fuel. The campaign’s statement called on all high contracting parties to the fourth Geneva convention to fulfill their legal obligations to ensure that the Israeli occupation respects its humanitarian legal duties as an occupying force towards the Palestinian people, calling at the same time for taking steps for the enforcement of international humanitarian laws concerning the Israeli violations.

28 hospital employees fired in Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 4/30/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – The management at Saint Luke’s Anglican Hospital in Nablus in the northern West Bank decided on Wednesday to fire 28of their 90 member staff due to what they described as "a deep financial crisis." Fayiz Az-Zagha, head of the employees’ union in the hospital told Ma’an that the decision was arbitrary and contravened the law. He said no such decisions should be made before solving work disputes between the management and employees. Priest Ibrahim Nayros, vice president of the hospital’s board of directors told Ma’an that the union’s accusations were false." The only alternative we have is to close the hospital after 108 years," he explained. He said that the hospital served the area during the first and second World Wars as well as during both Palestinian Intifadas. The priest also revealed that the hospital’s budget deficit which began five years ago has reached five million Jordanian Dinars (about 7 million US dollars).

Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam, briefly banned in Gaza, appears again
Reuters, Ha’aretz 4/30/2008
A three-month ban in the Gaza Strip of a Palestinian newspaper critical of a Hamas leader expired on Wednesday and authorities said it was free to publish in the territory again." [Al-Ayyam] can resume distribution from tomorrow," said Hassan Abu Hasheesh, deputy information minister in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip." We have told [the newspaper] it needs to respect Palestinian law and work in accordance with the standards of neutrality and professionalism." Gaza distribution of the newspaper, which is printed in the occupied West Bank, was halted by court order after Hamas authorities took issue with what they said was defamation by Al-Ayyam of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. Al-Ayyam denied any bias in its coverage. A Gaza court ruled this week that Palestinian law did not provide for the extension of the three-month order banning distribution, Abu Hasheesh said.

Sheikha Shamsa: Art can combat poverty
Middle East Online 4/30/2008
ABU DHABI – Art plays an important role in serving humanity and mobilising support for vital issues, said Sheikha Shamsa Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, Vice President for the UAE Red Crescent for Women’s Affairs, in a statement that coincides with the ‘Art for Aid’ exhibition, which will be held May 1-3 in Abu Dhabi under her auspices. “Art as a form of human creativity can play a leading role in serving humanity, especially in alleviating suffering and poverty around the world, from which millions of people continue to suffer,” said Sheikha Shamsa, the wife of Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE. She pointed out that the exhibition’s name was a clear indication of the organisers’ keenness to combat poverty and human suffering around the world. “The title of this exhibit ‘Art for Aid’ uniquely expresses the intentions of the organization and their desire. . .

Murder, mystery and malaise
Ina Friedman, Ha’aretz 4/30/2008
A Grave in Gaza: An Omar Yussef Mystery, by Matt Beynon Rees, Soho Press, 340 pages, $24 - Almost from the very first page, a sinister air permeates "A Grave in Gaza," Matt Beynon Rees’ second novel featuring Omar Yussef, a Palestinian teacher turned detective. Opening with a funeral, it proceeds through two false arrests, a kidnapping, grisly forms of torture, brutal murders, gangland-style executions, and a fierce firefight - none of which, some readers may be relieved to know, involve Israelis - before climaxing in a graveyard. Even the elements seem to conspire in creating an oppressive atmosphere, for the story unfolds during an extended, suffocating sandstorm. Nor is it surprising, given the image of Gaza we imbibe from newspapers and TV clips, that nowhere in the 340 pages of this tale, told mostly from the perspective. . .

Survey: 52% of Israeli teens say Israel faces existential threat
Shlomo Shamir, Ha’aretz 4/30/2008
An Anti-Defamation League survey revealed on Wednesday that 52 percent of Israeli youth believe the country faces existential threat, while 30 percent of those questioned have defined this menace as "serious." Meanwhile, 59 percent of Israeli youth are convinced a second Holocaust will not occur. The survey, which encompassed 500 teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17, was unveiled in New York for the Holocaust Remembrance Day. Only nine percent thought a second Holocaust is possible, as opposed to six percent last year. The survey also revealed that 91 percent of Israeli youth are aware of the existence of anti-Semitism worldwide, and 69 percent believe Israel should respond to any manifestation of anti-Semitism in the world. 80 percent said they never encountered anti-Semitism.

Rightists ’fix’ flag ahead of Israel’s 60
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 4/30/2008
SOS Israel redesigns Israeli flag to display country’s destruction as it protests government policy ‘offering us for slaughter. ’ Star of David is replaced by Neve Dkalim hesder yeshiva after Gaza pullout - On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day and a week before Israel’s 60th Independence Day celebrations, the rightists have decided to redesign the Israeli flag. The blue stripes are to remain, but instead of the Star of David, they’ve inserted the Neve Dkalim hesder yeshiva, as it appeared after the Palestinians had destroyed it following the disengagement. Above the new design created by artist Aharon Shabo, is the festive inscription “60 Years to the State of Israel,” and below it: “The destruction of 35 years of settlement in Gush Katif. ” The people behind this new design initiative are SOS Israel activists who said that the decision to redesign the flag was made following the

Rising medical costs forcing more Israelis to forgo care
Ran Reznick, Ha’aretz 5/1/2008
The high cost of medical care is forcing a startling number of Israelis to skip clinic visits and forgo medication, a new telephone survey by the Israel Medical Association has found. According to the results of the survey of 700 people announced at a news conference yesterday, 31 percent of Israelis reported forgoing at least one medical treatment in the past year because of its cost, 13 percent reported doing without medication and medical treatment for elderly parents, 10 percent skipped a doctor’s appointment, and 6 percent sacrificed medical services for their children. The percentage of people who reported forgoing medical services because of cost was significantly higher in most cases in the south and north of the country, compared with central Israel. Residents of northern Israel accounted for the highest rate - 40 percent.

New wave of pink slips strikes technology sector
Guy Griml, Ha’aretz 5/1/2008
Layoffs in the high-tech industry are continuing. Polycom Israel, a branch of U. S. -based communications company Polycom, is closing its Yokne’am R&D center and laying off about 15 employees. The Israeli branch is run by employees of the Israeli startup MeetU, founded by Oscar Glottman and Yisrael Drori. Launched in 1999, MeetU developed a platform that enables collaboration by private and corporate users with voice, video and data over the Internet. The firm was bought out by Polycom in 2002 for $9 million. Polycom had hoped at the time to incorporate MeetU’s data communications component in its own online conferencing system. The U. S. company develops and manufactures end-user accessories for video and voice conferencing. The firm is traded on the Nasdaq exchange with a market cap of about $2 billion.

Despite concerns of economic slowdown, exports were up 15.6% in first quarter
Moti Bassok, Ha’aretz 5/1/2008
Neither estimates of policymakers nor scaremongering of industry captains have hindered Israeli wares. Export of goods was up 15. 6% in the first quarter of 2008, the highest level registered for a single quarter in recent years. Although the fourth quarter of 2007 saw an increase of 26%, expectations for the first quarter of 2008 had been far lower. Exports are one of the economy’s most important growth engines. Data published by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) shows that manufacturing exports were up 16% in the first quarter, and mixed traditional technology industry exports were up 64. 9% (all data is in annual terms, and compared to the same period in 2007). Mixed traditional industries include sub-sectors of mining, non-metalic minerals, rubber, plastic and metal products. High-tech exports rose 22. 7% in the first quarter, and mixed high-tech industry exports increased by 10.

Fischer incensed at website security breakdown
Zeev Klein, Globes Online 4/30/2008
Internal checks revealed weak points, but they were not corrected. Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer was taken by surprise by the hacking of the bank’s website last week, and in a moment of anger announced that he would fire those responsible. The central bank notified the bank’s advisory committee about the embarrassing incident and has also filed a complaint with Interpol. Israeli IT security experts have also been brought in. Radical Islamic hackers using an Algerian server broke into the Bank of Israel’s website for the public on the night of last Thursday-Friday. The website only came back on line on Monday. However, the hackers launched a new attack immediately afterwards, forcing the website back off the air for a few minutes. Although operating, the Bank of Israel’s website is now less user-friendly than before.

IBM to set up new lab in Israel
Shmulik Shelah, Globes Online 4/30/2008
The Systems and Technology Group Lab will be headed by Alain Azagury. IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) is setting up a new Systems and Technology Group Lab in Israel to be headed by Alain Azagury. The lab will leverage the deep technology skills and the creativity of the Israeli industry to create a unique organization that will attract top talent to IBM’s System & Technology Group. Since January 2008, IBM has acquired three Israeli IT storage solutions start-ups: XIV FilesX Ltd. , and Diligent Technologies Corporation. IBM has been active in Israel since acquiring Ubique in 1998, Israel’s first computer research lab founded in the 1970s at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology. On this foundation, IBM set up development labs in Rehovot and Jerusalem. The company also operates a semiconductor lab at Ramat Hayal in Tel Aviv.

VIDEO - Survivor: Arabs capable of perpetrating worse Holocaust
YNetNews 4/30/2008
ynet video - Holocaust survivor recounts Jewish life in Greece under Nazi occupation and later in Auschwitz. ’If the Germans, who are supposedly cultured, did what they did to the Jews, then imagine what other nations are capable of doing,’ he says (04. 30. 08) Video: Infolive. tvAuthor: Infolive. tv [end]

Over 900 Iraqis killed since Sadr City crackdown
Middle East Online 4/30/2008
BAGHDAD - More than 900 people have been killed in clashes between militiamen and security forces in Baghdad’s Sadr City that broke out last month, a senior Iraqi official told reporters on Wednesday." There were 925 martyrs in Sadr City and 2,605 others have been wounded," in the firefights that began on March 25 and are still continuing, said Tehseen Sheikhly, a spokesman for the government’s Baghdad security plan. Fierce clashes between US and Iraqi forces and Shiite fighters, mostly from the Mahdi Army militia of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, erupted after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered a crackdown on militiamen in the southern city of Basra. The crackdown triggered a wave of clashes in other Shiite regions of Iraq, but particularly in Sadr City, the bastion of the Mahdi Army in east Baghdad.

IRAQ: UNHCR concerned about funding for refugees, IDPs
Julien Lennert/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 4/30/2008
DUBAI, 30 April 2008 (IRIN) - The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has said it is concerned about funding levels for its programmes for Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq. On 29 April UNHCR said it had received just under half of the US$261 million it had requested in January to be able to assist Iraqi IDPs and refugees abroad. The UNHCR said the amount received was not enough to sustain its programmes in the second half of 2008. As of 22 April, Iraq programme donors included the USA ($95. 4 million), Canada ($1. 5 million), the UK ($6. 2 million), Germany ($3. 9 million), Sweden ($2. 3 million), Finland ($1. 5 million), the European Commission ($6. 3 million), Kuwait ($1 million), France ($740,000), Switzerland ($702,000), Italy ($292,000), and private donors ($109,000).

US sends second carrier to Gulf as ’reminder’ to Iran
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/1/2008
MEXICO CITY: US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Tuesday the deployment of a second aircraft carrier to the Gulf should be seen as a "reminder" of US military power in the region. But Gates flatly denied that the United States was preparing the ground for military strikes against Iran." I don’t think we’ll have two carriers for a protracted period of time, so I don’t see it as an escalation. I think it could be seen, though, as a reminder," Gates told reporters here during a visit with Mexican officials. The arrival of the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Gulf follows a noticeable hardening in US rhetoric against Iran for allegedly meddling in Iraq and playing a destabilizing role in the region. Commander Jeff Davis, a US Navy spokesman, said the Lincoln would overlap with the departing carrier USS Harry Truman by "no more than a day or two.

US brands Iran ’most active’ terror sponsor
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/1/2008
WASHINGTON: Iran remained the world’s "most active" state sponsor of terrorism as it tries to build regional influence and drive the United States from the Middle East, a US government report said Wednesday. The report also listed Syria, North Korea, Cuba and Sudan as state sponsors and said Al-Qaeda and associates "remained the greatest terrorist threat" to the West partly by using a "safe haven" in Pakistan’s tribal areas." Iran remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism," according to the US State Department annual report which also called it the "most significant" state sponsor. It said non-Arab Iran provides aid to Palestinian "terrorist" groups like Hamas, the Lebanese movement Hezbollah, "Iraq-based militants," and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, the report said. The report singled out "elements" of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as being directly involved in the planning and support of terrorist acts throughout the region.

Iraq threatens assault on militias
Al Jazeera 4/30/2008
Iraq’s prime minister has threatened to disarm Shia militias and Sunni fighters by force if they refuse to lay down their weapons. The tough talk from Nuri al-Maliki, who launched a crackdown on Shia groups last month, came as at least 13 people died on Wednesday in the latest clashes in Baghdad’s Sadr City. Al-Maliki said that the al-Mahdi army of Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shia leader, along with groups such as al-Qaeda in Iraq must be dissolved. He demanded that they hand over their weapons, stop interfering in state affairs, give upwanted men and stop running their own courts." The alternative is the continuation of force and clashes until we reach the end, to get rid of the weapons and the gangs who are carrying weapons," he said. . . . Professor Juan Cole, an expert on Iraq from the University of Michigan, told Al Jazeera that efforts to tackle al-Qaeda in Iraq, a Sunni group, had to some extent succeeded.

Iraqi expert accuses West over antiquities trade
Arifa Akbar, Arts Correspondent, The Independent 4/30/2008
A senior Iraqi official has accused the West of not doing enough to stop the thriving trade in antiquities smuggled out of the country’s depleted archeological sites and sold in auction houses across Britain, America and Europe. Dr Bahaa Mayah, a special adviser to Iraq’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, called for an immediate global ban on the sale of at least 100,000 artefacts that have been stolen since the invasion. Speaking at the British Museum, he said it was the responsibility of the occupying forces to retrieve the valuable artefacts that had been plundered from southern Iraq’s archaeologically rich sites since 2003. Iraqi ministers are to discuss "imminently" the proposal of a global ban with members of the United nations Security Council, he added." This is a problem of illegal trade that should be of concern to the international community.

More protection needed for Lebanon’s home help
Middle East Online 4/30/2008
BEIRUT - Lebanese employers, recruitment agencies and authorities must improve the treatment of domestic workers, New York-based Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday." On the eve of Lebanese Labour Day, we would like to highlight a huge segment of labourers who are not recognized as such. They are domestic workers, almost a 100 percent of whom are foreigners," Human Rights Watch’s Beirut-based researcher Nadim Houry said. The group says the most common complaints from domestic staff, who are mostly women, are unpaid wages, lack of time off, restrictions on movement and verbal or sometimes even physical abuse. Around 200,000 domestic labourers, mostly from Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Ethiopia, are not protected by Lebanese labour laws, HRW said. A statement from the organisation cited a 2006 survey of 600 migrant workers by Dr Ray Jureidini which found 56 percent reported. . .

Bahrain’s only Jewish lawmaker rumored to be the country’s next ambassador to the U.S.
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 5/1/2008
The only Jewish woman lawmaker in Bahrain is set to become the tiny Gulf kingdom’s next ambassador to Washington, according to recent media reports here. But Huda Nono, legislator in the all-appointed 40-seat Shura Council, would only confirm she is among those considered for the post and referred further queries to the foreign ministry in Manama. I am one of the contenders, Nono, a mother of two and the second Jewish member in the legislature’s upper chamber, told The Associated Press. Nothing is official yet. Yasmina Britel, press officer for the Bahraini embassy in Washington, said Nono is one of the nominees, and that King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa would make the official appointment at an unknown date. Britel says this could be tomorrow or in six months. If Nono’s is appointed, Bahrain will be the first Arab country to send a high-level Jewish diplomat to Washington.

Report: Major anti-Semitic attacks triple in 2007
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 4/30/2008
Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism’s report reveals alarming increase in number of violent attacks against Jews worldwide; study cites threefold rise in number of particularly violent assaults - A 6. 6% rise in the number of anti-Semitic attacks has been registered across the world in 2007, a report published on Wednesday by the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism at the Tel Aviv University revealed. Furthermore, the number of severe violent attacks rose threefold in 2007. According to the study, 632 incidents of racially-motivated violence against Jews have been reported in 2007, compared to 593 in 2006. Fifty-seven percent of the attacks in 2007 have been classified as "major attacks" - three times higher than in 2006, when the number of major attacks stood at 19.

A Litany of Horrors
Chalmers Johnson, Middle East Online 4/30/2008
[This essay is a review of Soldiers of Reason: The RAND Corporation and the Rise of the American Empire by Alex Abella] - America’s University of Imperialism - The RAND Corporation of Santa Monica, California, was set up immediately after World War II by the US Army Air Corps (soon to become the US Air Force). The Air Force generals who had the idea were trying to perpetuate the wartime relationship that had developed between the scientific and intellectual communities and the American military, as exemplified by the Manhattan Project to develop and build the atomic bomb. Soon enough, however, RAND became a key institutional building block of the Cold War American empire. As the premier think tank for the US’s role as hegemon of the Western world, RAND was instrumental in giving that empire the militaristic cast it retains to this day and in hugely enlarging official demands. . .


Washington Cedes its Role
Rami Khouri, Middle East Online 4/30/2008
      LOS ANGELES -- One of the important developments in Middle Eastern diplomacy that becomes more obvious with every passing month is the continued marginalization of the United States. As the Bush administration and the presidential candidates find themselves focusing most of their Middle East-related attention on the complex challenges the US invasion has created in Iraq, other important regional issues seem to be moving into the hands of local players and mediators.
     The more the United States is marginalized diplomatically as a would-be mediator because of its own short-sighted tendency blindly to support Israel’s positions, to buttress Arab autocrats, and to oppose the large, populist Islamo-nationalist movements, the more other mediators from the area make progress in resolving or reducing the intensity of conflicts.
     Two cases in particular are noteworthy: the Hamas-Israel indirect negotiations for a cease-fire in Gaza (mediated by Egypt), and the Israeli-Syrian soundings about a full peace treaty (mediated by Turkey). Both are enormously important developments. If consummated, they would represent solid, even historic, steps towards a resolution of the century-old Arab-Israeli conflict. The chances of success are slim, but they are not zero, and that in itself is noteworthy.

Palestinian Negotiators Go Home Frustrated

Khody Akhavi, MIFTAH 4/30/2008
      As President George W. Bush races to ink a deal before his term expires in January of next year, disagreements remain over the final-status issues and the territorial integrity of a future Palestinian state. Following the latest round of talks last week in the U.S. capital between President Mahmoud Abbas and Bush, the Palestinian negotiating team appeared pessimistic about any durable prospect for peace, despite assurances from Bush himself to the contrary.
     Unable to hide his frustration last Friday, chief Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erakat gave an ominous warning to an audience of journalists: "If we don’t have an agreement by 2008, we stand a chance of disappearing," he said.
     "The issues are very clear cut and you can’t beg peace from anybody. I did not wake up one morning and feel my conscience for the Israeli people suffering to seek negotiations with them, and I don’t think they woke up one morning and felt their conscience aching for my suffering," said Erakat.
     "[Israelis] know that if they want to continue with the pattern of behaviour of creating facts on the ground, and dictating and negotiating among themselves, and then whisper to me, ’boy, we know what’s best for you,’ that’s not going to work."

Sixty years ago in Battir

Hasan Abu Nimah writing from Amman, Jordan, Electronic Intifada 4/30/2008
      Sixty years ago in Battir, my small hillside village near Jerusalem, I witnessed the chaotic collapse of the British Mandate administration in Palestine and the beginning of the Nakba.
     The previous months had been decisive ones for the fate of Palestine, although we did not yet know it. The Jews, fed up with British procrastination in fulfilling Balfour’s promise of letting them transform our homeland into their "national home," launched a bloody campaign of terror both against the British and the Arabs. The Jewish militias targeted the British to speed up their departure from Palestine, and hit the Arabs to quell the rising resistance to Zionist colonization. Violence broke out in early 1947, after the British announced that they would leave Palestine by 15 May 1948. When the United Nations passed its partition resolution on 29 November 1947, the violence began to lurch into full-scale war.
     Battir’s 1,200 inhabitants were wracked by uncertainty. There were hopes that things would turn out all right, but fear dominated as the atmosphere became bleaker by the day.

Love and resistance in the Gaza Strip

Dr. Mona el-Farra, The Guardian, International Solidarity Movement 4/30/2008
      In an apparent softening of its position, Hamas has said it will accept a partial truce covering the Gaza Strip. But the lack of water, fuel and medicine has taken its toll and Palestinians continue to die of malnutrition and lack of medical resources. Mona el-Farra is a doctor and human rights activist working with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. She is also the author of From Gaza With Love, a blog through which she keeps the world abreast of conditions under the Israeli occupation.
     I started writing in 2000 when my parents’ home was demolished by the Israeli occupation army at the beginning of this intifada. I felt strongly that I should tell people abroad about my personal experience and about what’s happening in Gaza under occupation.
     As a doctor working in the field and living in Gaza I witnessed so many human rights violations and I wanted people to know about it. About two years ago some friends and supporters of the Palestinian cause in Britain encouraged me to start a blog because they thought that my message was strong, but I didn’t expect the reaction - the response was overwhelming. So I continued.

Palestinian Plight is Flip Side of Israel’s Independence Joy

Karin Laub, MIFTAH 4/29/2008
      Mohammed Shaikha was 9 when the carefree rhythm of his village childhood - going to third grade, picking olives, playing hide-and-seek - was abruptly cut short.
     Uprooted during the 1948 war over Israel’s creation, he’s now a wrinkled old man. He has spent a lifetime in this cramped refugee camp, and Israel’s 60th independence day, to be celebrated with fanfare on May 8, fills him with pain.
     "For 60 years, Israel has been sitting on my heart. It kicked me out of my home, my nation, and deprived me of many things," he said.
     And each Israeli birthday makes it harder for 70-year-old Shaikha and his elderly gin rummy partners in the camp’s coffee house to cling to dreams of going back to Beit Nabala, one village among hundreds leveled to make way for the influx of Jewish immigrants into the newborn Jewish state.
     Israel’s joy over independence after two millennia of Jewish exile has been the Palestinians’ "naqba" - their catastrophe. The state they were to have in a partitioned Holy land was made stillborn by the 1948 war. The 1967 war that brought the West Bank and Gaza under Israeli rule doubled the catastrophe. And the negotiations that are meant to bring about a Palestinian state are bedeviled by constant violence and distrust.

A family’s ongoing Nakba

International Womens’ Peace Service 4/30/2008
      On Monday, the 28.04.08, two IWPS volunteers went to Kufr Qadum village in the Qalqilya district to follow up on a night time incursion the day before.Kufr Qadum is half surrounded by the illegal Israeli settlement Qadumim, which blocks its direct access to Nablus City, and also has land bordering on the extremist settlement outposts Havat Gilad and Shvut Ami.
     We first met with the vice major, who informed us that the village has been a victim to intense army harassment since several months, with the Israeli army entering the village almost every night. He fears that this campaign of intimidation might be conducted in preparation for the building of the part of the Apartheid Wall that is planned to separate Kufr Qadum from Qedumim Settlement and that will take up to half of the villages land. In the latest incursion at least 25 military vehicles entered the village after midnight and six family houses were searched.
     We then visited one of the families whose house had been searched. The family includes 9 children between the ages of 2 ½ to 16. Nidal, the father, started off by telling us about the scary experience of heavily armed soldiers with painted faces entering the house at night and trying to force out the family. Not knowing how long the operation might take the father was worried for his frightened little children having to spend the whole night outside and insisted successfully on the family being allowed to stay in one room while the soldiers searched the house.

ANALYSIS / IDF behaving as if there is no truce on horizon

Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 4/30/2008
      The Israel Defense Forces avoided accepting any form of responsibility for the death of Miyasar Abu Muatak and her four young children in a shanty neighborhood of Beit Hanun Monday. According to the army’s version, the mother and children were not killed by two missiles fired from an aircraft, as the Palestinians maintain, but as a result of "secondary explosions." The missiles were aimed at two Islamic Jihad militants that had been identified carrying large bags, which are believed to have included explosive devices. As a result of the blast, the shed which was the family’s home was destroyed. Defense Minister Ehud Barak did not bother with the details. As far as he was concerned, he said Monday, only Hamas - whose gunmen operate among civilians - are responsible for the death of "uninvolved civilians".
     The Israeli version relies on descriptions by Givati Brigade officers, who called in the aircraft, and on photos of the damage. Also important is the type of munitions that Israel has deployed in recent years in the Gaza Strip. They are lethal, but more precise, so their collateral damage is relatively limited. The damage evident at the site of the killing is much more like that caused by the detonation of a large explosive device.

Behind Israel’s Independence, a Great Injustice

Joharah Baker, MIFTAH 4/30/2008
      Every year, Israel’s independence celebrations are a sore reminder to the Palestinians of the price they were made to pay for this state to be created. This year, on the 60th occasion of Israel’s independence, nothing has been remedied or rectified for those Palestinians who lost their homes over half a century ago.
     The Palestinians hardly spend this time of year, May 15 to be exact, in celebration. While Israeli flags flutter over buildings and cars and Israelis take the day to picnic and barbeque, Palestinians are remembering Al Nakba, the Catastrophe which emerged as a result of the creation of the State of Israel. By the time the 1948 War was over, 800,000 Palestinians from all walks of life had been made refugees, virtually overnight. In days of horror, Palestinians from northern Palestine and along the coastal line fled the fierce fighting and the fear of massacres with the understanding that they would return to their homes once the fighting had subsided. That was never to happen and 60 years later, these refugees have multiplied many times over, with an estimated five million Palestinian refugees in camps in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, neighboring Arab countries and abroad.

Inclusiveness most Promising Approach

Ghassan Khatib, MIFTAH 4/29/2008
      Jimmy Carter’s visit to the region and his meetings with several parties including Hamas officials coincided with serious Egyptian efforts to try to forge a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. The former US president’s meetings with the Syrian leadership and Hamas were controversial in the United States, however, and he was brutally criticized in Israel. Only in Palestine were his efforts welcomed by the full political spectrum.
     Among other things, Carter’s meetings brought attention to the fact that the official American strategy of excluding and boycotting Hamas while supporting its domestic rival Fateh has been a failure. On a practical level, meanwhile, the most interesting outcome of Carter’s meetings with Hamas leader Khaled Mishaal were the direct and indirect messages from Hamas to the international community, according to which Hamas is willing to behave with political maturity, contrary to the impressions created by Israel and Israel’s supporters.
     Mishaal promised Carter Hamas would support and accept any political agreement Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas might negotiate with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert if it was put successfully to a popular referendum. That position is compatible with the position of Abbas, who has consistently responded to criticism that he will not be able to deliver his people to such an agreement by saying that Palestinians will get to vote on it and their verdict should be binding on everyone.

Jewish studies, for Muslims only

Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 5/1/2008
      "What does Maimonides say about divorce?" That is how Rabbi Shmuel Reiner, the head of Yeshivat Hakibbutz Hadati in Ma’ale Gilboa began a class on Judaism before a group of attentive students: religious clerics from several Galilee villages and settlements. The class, which took place at the Shorashim educational center in the Gush Segev region, focused on the laws of marital relations and family.
     The clerics, imams and muezzins are now in their second consecutive year of studying Judaism, as part of a seminar organized by the Inter-religious Coordinating Council in Israel. Rabbi Mark Rosenstein, the director of the Galilee Association for Moral Education, and Ziad Halalila, a teacher from Sakhnin, took the initiative and brought the project into being.
     "At first, we got help from the Religious Affairs Ministry to invite religious clerics to the meetings," says Rosenstein, "but very quickly it became clear that most of them had a great desire to continue, and they made sure on their own accord, to show up for the monthly class." Initially, the group consisted of 18 imams. Some have left and today around 12 clerics show up for the seminars each time, and each class is devoted to a different subject."