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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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1 May 2008


12-year-old boy shot in head as Israeli forces invade Khan Younis
Ma’an News Agency 5/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A 12-year-old Palestinian boy was shot and seriously injured when several Israeli military vehicles entered the Al-Faraheen neighborhood of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday morning. Palestinian medical sources said that Imad Qdaih was shot in the head and was evacuated to Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Eyewitnesses said that eight military vehicles and three bulldozers invaded the area at 4am and began digging up agricultural lands, demolishing houses and apprehending Palestinians. Clashes erupted between the invading forces and Palestinian gunmen. No casualties have been reported. The military wing affiliated to Islamic Jihad said their fighters fired several mortar shells towards at the invading Israeli forces.

Israeli forces kill twice in S Gaza Strip, bulldoze agricultural lands
Palestine News Network 5/1/2008
Rafah / PNN -- After Wednesday’s killing in the southern Gaza Strip, Israeli forces killed again. Early Thursday in Rafah Israeli forces targeted the Shaboura area, hitting a member of the Al Qassam Brigades, the armed resistance wing of Hamas. Later in the afternoon Israeli forces attacked Khan Younis, killing a 55 year old man and injuring three more Palestinians. Early this morning Israeli forces stormed eastern Khan Younis, also in the southern Strip. Yesterday, Wednesday, Israeli forces killed a worker in the area, who was also a resistance member, at a car painting factory and injured six people, including a child. Official Palestinian sources reported that large numbers of Israeli forces carried out extensive raids throughout the Strip, pointing out that at dawn Israeli special forces infiltrated eastern Khan Younis.

Hamas military leader killed in Gaza air raid
Middle East Online 5/1/2008
GAZA CITY - An air strike on Thursday killed a Hamas military leader in Gaza who took part in the 2006 capture of an Israeli soldier, the Israeli military said. The Israelis "targeted and identified hitting Nafiz Mansur, a Hamas terror operative who was involved in terror attacks against Israel," it said in a statement." Mansur was involved, among other attacks, in the capture of Gilad Shalit," it said in reference to the Israeli seized by Palestinian militants in a cross-border raid from Gaza claimed by Hamas and two other armed groups. The statement said the militant also bore responsibility for the killing of two Israeli soldiers in a July 2006 attack, and took part in setting up a suicide assault on a border post on April 19 this year. The Islamist Hamas movement confirmed Mansur’s death and said it would "respond to this crime at the adequate time and place.

Unemployed workers in Gaza stage May day protest against Israeli embargo
Ma’an News Agency 5/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hundreds of unemployed Palestinian workers from the Gaza Strip rallied on Thursday in a May Day protest at the dire conditions they are enduring under the Israeli-led embargo. In an expression of their despair, the rallying workers performed the absentee prayer - an Islamic prayer similar to a funeral prayer, that is usually performed for fighters missing in actions. Many of the workers held up signs offering their body parts for sale to raise money to feed their families. Others set fire to their work tools which they now deem useless. Abu Muhammad, an unemployed worker told Ma’an’s reporter, "I came here to announce that I am willing to sell my body parts because I have no other way to provide basic food for my family, and the situation is getting worse." Other workers said they frequently hear about aid shipments reaching the coastal sector but claim they have never received any of the much-needed aid.

Infant dies after being denied medical treatment outside of the Gaza Strip
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 5/1/2008
The ongoing Israeli siege over the Gaza Strip led to the death of a sick four-month old Palestinian infant after the Israeli authorities barred his transfer to a specialized hospital outside the Gaza Strip. The ongoing siege led to the death of 140 patients in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian News Agency, WAFA, reported that Naseem Al Biok, 4 months old, died on Wednesday at a local hospital in Gaza. Physicians attempted to transfer him abroad for medical treatment as the ongoing siege emptied Gaza hospitals from the needed medical equipment and medications. Currently, there are dozens of patients who suffered from serious illnesses and are facing death due to the unjust siege. A total of 140 patients died due to the siege, most of the casualties were children and elderly.

The Israeli army attacks a local NGO in Jenin and confiscates property
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/1/2008
The Israeli army attacked on Thursday morning Anssar Al Sagien, a local NGO located in the northern West Bank city of Jenin. Local sources reported that Israeli troops invaded the city of Jenin and surrounded the building were the society offices are located. Soldiers then searched the offices and confiscated documents and computers that belong to the organization. Anssar Al Sajeen is a local Palestinian NGO that deals with the Political Palestinian Prisoners detained by the Israeli army, by providing them with training courses, education, and aid work. [end]

Jenin: the Israeli army kidnaps five children
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/1/2008
Five Palestinian children were kidnapped by the Israeli army during a pre-dawn invasion targeting the village of Fahmah, located near the northern West Bank city of Jenin on Thursday. Witnesses reported that troops and army jeeps entered the village from several directions, during the invasion troops searched and ransacked a num,ber of homes then took the five children and left the village. Local sources identified those five kidnapped as; Syif Sa’abnah, 13, Sufiyan Sa’abnah, 14, Shadi Sa’abnah, 16, Mohamed Marab’ah, 15, and Abed Al Fatah Nawasrah, 14. [end]

Independent committee confirms Hamas’s charges on Barghouthi’s death
Palestinian Information Center 4/30/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- A neutral investigation carried out by the Independent Palestinian Bureau for Citizen’s Rights to vet reasons behind the death of  Majd Al-Barghouthi asserted that he was tortured to death at the hands of the PA intelligence in Ramallah city. Al-Barghouthi was an Imam of a local mosque before he was arrested by the PA intelligence and confined in the PA prisons. The man was also a well-known reformist, and known to be a cadre of Hamas Movement in the city. According to the report of the bureau, Al-Barghouthi was severely tortured and wasn’t accorded proper judicial procedures, including denying him an attorney to defend him, that, according to advocates, gravely violates the PA basic law. Signs of beating and torture were very clear on Barghouthi’s body although the PA intelligence department tried to hide the truth about Barghouthi’s real cause of death.

Israeli forces apprehend 10 West Bankers
Ma’an News Agency 5/1/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces raided several West Bank districts in the early hours of Thursday morning, arresting ten ’wanted’ Palestinian activists. Israeli sources said on Thursday that ten "wanted Palestinians" were seized in Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron. All the arrestees have been transferred to interrogation centres. Palestinian security sources in Bethlehem said Israeli forces apprehended an officer in the Palestinian preventive security services from his home at Al-Azza refugee camp north of Bethlehem. [end]

Death toll in Gaza rises to 3 in 24 hours
Ma’an News Agency 5/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an –Less than 24 hours after Palestinian factions agreed on an Egyptian-proposed bilateral ceasefire with the Israelis in the Gaza Strip, the death toll due to Israeli attacks in the sector has risen to three, with the shooting of an elderly man from Khan Younis. Muhammad Abu Duqqa was shot in the head by Israeli forces which invaded the Al-Faraheen neighborhood of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. Muawiyya Hassanain, the director of ambulance and emergency services in the Palestinian health ministry, stated that Israeli forces targeted a group of activists in Al-Faraheen neighborhood of Khan Younis injuring three of them. They were evacuated to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. Also on Thursday, a Palestinian activist from Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades was killed and a 13-year-old girl was injured when an Israeli reconnaissance plane fired a missile at Shabora. . .

Palestinian security arrest 4 Hamas members in the West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 5/1/2008
Nablus – Hamas said on Thursday that the Palestinian security services affiliated to the Fatah-led caretaker government in the West Bank arrestedfour Hamas affiliates on Wednesday morning. The movement said in a statement that a university student affiliated to Hamas was seized in Hebron in the southern West Bank. In Ramallah, in the central West Bank, a student from Birzeit University was seized at a Palestinian military checkpoint, according to the statement. Two other Hamas loyalists were seized in the Tulkarem district in the northern West Bank, the statement added. [end]

An-Nasser Salah Addin Brigades claim shooting of Israeli soldier
Ma’an News Agency 5/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The military wing affiliated to the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), the An-Nasser Salah Addin Brigades claimed on Thursday that their fighters shot and injured an Israeli soldier while he was on top of a military tank in Al-Faraheen east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. They said in a statement that they filmed footage of the shooting. [end]

PFLP military group fire two projectiles at western Negev
Ma’an News Agency 5/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades announced on Thursday that a group of their fighters launched two homemade projectiles at the western Negev Israeli towns. They said in a statement that the shelling was in retaliation for the ongoing Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip. [end]

Qassam barrage hits western Negev
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 5/1/2008
Western Negev suffers barrage of ten Qassams. One lands in Sderot, causing shock to high school students. Another damages kibbutz home - At least ten Qassam rockets were fired from Gaza on Thursday afternoon. Seven fell in the area of Sderot, and at least two fell in open spaces near Ashkelon. One of the rockets fell near a high school in Sderot, while another fell in a kibbutz in Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, damaging a house. The other rockets landed in open spaces in the area of Sderot and Ashkelon, and one has not yet been found but is estimated to have landed near Erez crossing. Four Sderot residents were treated for shock, including three high school students. Eli Edri, principal of the religious Sderot high school next to which the rocket hit, told Ynet: "Unfortunately this is the daily reality we are faced with.

Israeli tank hit by RPG, Islamic Jihad’s military wing claim
Ma’an News Agency 5/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The military wing affiliated to Islamic Jihad, the Al-Quds Brigades, claimed responsibility on Thursday for firing a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) from a distance of 60 metres at an Israeli tank in the Al-Faraheen neighborhood of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. They said in a statement that the tank was hit and caught on fire. [end]

The Israeli army invades Bethlehem and kidnaps one civilian
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/1/2008
The Israeli army invaded the Al Azza Refugee camp located in the southern west Bank city of Bethlehem and kidnapped one civilian on Thursday at dawn. Local sources reported that a number of army vehicles stormed the camp on Thursday at dawn, troops searched the house of Firass Jabir, 27, then kidnapped him and took him to unknown location. [end]

Two detainees to file a complaint of abuse to the Israeli High Court of Justice
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/2/2008
Monqith Abu Roomy, director of the Media Office at the Asrana (Our detainees) Center, stated that he was contacted by two detainees who informed him of torture and abuse during interrogation at the Al Maskobiyya Israeli detention center in Jerusalem. The two detainees, Hasan Omar Al Arameen, and Dirgham Omar Al Arameen, stated that interrogators at the interrogation facility were very harsh in dealing with them, tortured them, practiced psychological pressures on them by threatening to harm them in different ways, and continuously insulted them. They added thatthe Israeli interrogators also had with them Arab interrogators, apparently from Jerusalem, who also threatened to harm them and violated their rights. The two detainees said that they have the names of the Arab interrogators but opted not to reveal their names as they intend to file a complaint to the Israeli High Court. . .

Leftist group: Police barring us from monitoring Hebron settlers
Mijal Grinberg, Ha’aretz 5/2/2008
The group "Shovrim Shtika" (breaking the silence) said that the police have recently begun barring the organization from touring Hebron to monitor the actions of settlers. The main reason for this, according to the group, is the fact that the police has surrendered to the policies of the settlers in Hebron and Kiryat Arba. The police, for their part, describe the "Shovrim Shtika" tours as a "platform for extreme left-wingers to enter the Jewish territory and create an imbalance in the area." The police maintain that they have not done anything that deviates from the law. An altercation erupted Thursday between activists and settlers from Hebron and Kiryat Arba. Yehuda Shaul of "Shovrim Shtika", who has been organizing tours of Hebron for three years, said that he arrived in Kiryat Arba and turned with his group to show them an outpost outside. . . -- See also: Breaking The Silence

Israelis raid ceremony honoring Workers Union in East Jerusalem
Mesa Abu Ghazaleh, Palestine News Network 5/1/2008
Jerusalem -- Israeli intelligence stormed the Jerusalem offices of the Palestinian Trade Workers Union yesterday. The timing for Wednesday’s raid was during a reception held to honor the Union as Thursday is the International Day of Workers, May Day. The Israeli forces searched the offices and the identification of all laborers in attendance. At the Qalandiya Checkpoint in Ramallah, enroute to East Jerusalem, Israeli forces prevented the passage of the Secretary-General of the General Federation of Trade Unions in Palestine, Shaher Saad. He was not allowed to participate in the ceremony honoring trade unionists, although he had an Israeli-issued permit to travel from one city to the next. The Adviser to the Minister for Jerusalem, Hatem Abdel Qader, spoke during the ceremony of the importance of union work and laborers in the community. He congratulated the workers and trade unionists and the General Federation of Trade Unions of Palestinian and all workers of the world.

UNRWA Chair to British Parliament: shameful to witness what is happening in Gaza
Mohamed Arabi, Palestine News Network 5/1/2008
London / PNN -- Members of British Parliament and its International Development Committee are aware of the recent reports regarding the situation in Palestine. They expressed deep concern over reports coming from local and international humanitarian organizations concerning the happenings in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Committee members have gained a clear understanding in the deterioration since the Annapolis Conference in the United States held in November 2007. Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, former presidential candidate and Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative reports that Israeli attacks are up 300 percent since Annapolis. The siege and attacks on the Gaza Strip have worsened, while settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has also increased. In this context the Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees spoke to the British Parliament’s committee via satellite from Gaza.

Murdered Palestinian intelligence officer buried
Ma’an News Agency 5/1/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The family of a Fatah-affiliated Palestinian intelligence officer who was abducted and killed in Gaza City two weeks ago, agreed finally to bury his body after being requested to do so by the Fatah leadership. 35-five-year-old Sami Khattab, from Deir Al-Balah, was found dead near the abandoned Israeli settlement of Netzarim on April 15. Medics at Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City said the body showed signs of torture. His family had refused to bury the body until the details of his murder and the perpetrators were made public. Fatah spokesperson in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Azzam Al-Ahmad on Thursday appealed to the Khattab family to go ahead with the funeral, saying "The details of the murder are evident, especially that signs of torture were detected on the body." Khattab’s family had previously accused the Palestinian internal security services of murdering him.

European campaign: a halt of MSF medical relief portends health disaster
Palestinian Information Center 5/1/2008
BRUSSELS, (PIC)-- The European campaign to lift the siege warned that Medecins Sans Frontiers’ announcement that its medical relief operations will have to stop completely in the Gaza Strip during the next four days because of lack of fuel is portending an unprecedented health and humanitarian disaster. In a press release from Brussels a copy of which received by the PIC, Dr. Arafat Madi , the spokesman for the campaign, stated the continuance of the Israeli siege without making practical steps to pressure the Israeli occupation to lift it means that consecutive humanitarian catastrophes will take place, not only in the health sector but in all walks of life of one and a half million Palestinians in Gaza who lose everyday one patient at least because of the lack of medicines and the restrictions imposed on their travel to receive medical treatment abroad.

’We didn’t eat at all in the day,’ says father plunged into poverty
Donald Macintyre, The Independent 5/1/2008
In theory Adeeb Yusef, 45, who has seven children, is luckier than some others in Gaza. As a refugee he receives, like more than 700,000 Gazans, at least a quarterly consignment of basics such as flour, oil, sugar and a few cans of meat from the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). In better days which lasted throughout the worst of the intifada, Mr Yusef wouldn’t have dreamt of even collecting the ration because he got up at 4am each morning to go to work as a welder in Israel or at the now-flattened Erez industrial zone in north Gaza, earning from 1,000 to 1,200 shekels (£147 to £176) a week. But his present plight goes deeper than the real humiliation of a once-proud provider becoming wholly dependent on aid. On Wednesday this week, Mr Yusef explains, his family didn’t eat during daylight at all." We had our breakfast in the evening. . ."

LEBANON: Palestinians protest exclusion as government moots minimum wage
Hugh Macleod/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 5/1/2008
BEIRUT, 1 May 2008 (IRIN) - With inflation in double digits and the cost of living rising, the government has proposed raising the minimum wage for the first time in a decade, but Palestinians say they continue to be marginalised in the labour market. - Slideshow of Palestinian camps in Lebanon - Several hundred Palestinians protested at the edge of Shatila camp in south Beirut on 30 April ahead of the 1 May labour day holiday, traditionally a time for workers’ to air their grievances." We are humans, we have the right to live," shouted the protesters." We are half humans in Lebanon." Palestinians in Lebanon are barred from working in 70 professional vocations. They cannot work as lawyers and doctors, and cannot own or inherit property.

Taking Back the Land: Non-violent resistance in Palestine
International Womens’ Peace Service 5/1/2008
IWPS House Report No. 107 - Today, for a few hours, Palestinians took control over an illegal Israeli settler outpost on the outskirts of Ramallah. Replacing Israeli flags with Palestinian ones, Mohammed Al-Khattib and other members of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall, accompanied by Israeli anti-occupation activists from Anarchists Against the Wall and international activists from the International Solidarity Movement and the International Women’s Peace Service, non-violently took over the site for more than 3 hours. The illegal settler outpost, which is made up of a number of cargo containers, was set up two months ago on privately owned Palestinian land which straddles Area A and Area C of the Occupied West Bank, when Israel occupation forces withdraw from a checkpoint on the land to a nearby military based.

Rice: Israelis and Palestinians must agree on final borders
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 5/2/2008
"Israeli and Palestinian negotiators should decide once and for all where to draw the line between Israeli and Palestinian territory, ending the argument over Jewish housing expansion on disputed ground," U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday. Rice also warned that the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank do not equal a fait accompli that the houses or towns would remain in Israeli hands under a final settlement of the six-decade conflict. The settlement issue has seriously clouded the progress of peace talks that were inaugurated with high hopes by U. S. President George W. Bush more than six months ago. There has been little visible progress since, and Palestinians suspect Israel is increasing the pace of expansion in a deliberate land grab while closed-door negotiations continue.

Middle East peace must include solution for Palestinian refugees, Ban Ki-moon says
United Nations News Service, ReliefWeb 4/29/2008
A sustainable peace in the Middle East will have to factor in a viable and just solution to the Palestinian refugee issue, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a United Nations meeting convened in Paris to assess the condition of the refugees and examine the role of the world body in alleviating their plight. ‘The Palestinian people’s desire or right to live a normal daily life in their own sovereign land remains undiminished, as do the individual and collective rights of Palestine refugees,’ Mr. Ban said in a message to the conference, read out by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Angela Kane. ‘This year marks the 60th year of Palestinian dispossession, an anniversary that underlines the importance and urgency of finding a solution to the question of Palestine and of addressing the plight of the Palestine refugees,’ he noted.

Ma’aleh Adumim mayor: I got impression that gov’t plans to divide J’lem
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 5/2/2008
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Wednesday secretly toured the E-1 area between the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim and Jerusalem, where a plan for the construction of large Jewish neighborhood has been frozen for several years, at the behest of the United States. Livni toured the area accompanied by Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel, who later said he got the impression that the government was planning to divide Jerusalem. The tour took place as part of a process of ongoing negotiations over the borders of a future Palestinian state. Israel wants to keep the Adumim settlement bloc inside its territory in a final peace agreement with the Palestinians. Livni refrained from promising Kashriel that the construction plan will be unfrozen, but stressed that the issue is up for discussion.

Top U.S. official: America would look favorably on PA request for additional funding
Reuters, Ha’aretz 5/2/2008
The United States would look favorably on a request from the Palestinian Authority for more funds to plug a budget shortfall, the top U. S. aid official said on Thursday. Henrietta Fore, administrator of the U. S. Agency for International Development, is in London for a meeting on Friday of international donors who last December pledged 7. 4 billion Euros to the Palestinians over three years to support efforts to find peace in the Middle East. The quartet of Middle East peace mediators -- the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States -- will also meet in London on Friday. A report from the International Monetary Fund, released in advance of Friday’s meeting, said the Palestinian Authority faced a 400 million Euro budget shortfall in the second half of the year.

Mofaz, at Yale: Iran could have nuke bomb technology this year
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 5/2/2008
Transportation Minister and former defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Wednesday that Iran could have nuclear bomb technology as early as this year. Speaking at Yale University, Mofaz warned that Iran is progressing steadily with its nuclear program and will have the knowhow to build a bomb within months, his spokeswoman Talia Somech said. Speaking on Israeli Army Radio Thursday, Mofaz said Israel should be prepared for such a scenario. Mofaz was in the U. S. holding talks with American intelligence officials. In addition to his tenure as defense minister under former prime minister Ariel Sharon, Mofaz has also served as the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office would not comment on Mofaz’s assessment of the Iranian program.

Mofaz in Yale: All’s fair in fight against Iran’s nuclear program
Ynet, YNetNews 5/1/2008
Transportation minister travels to US to meet senior officials on Iranian threat; warns Iran is just months away from point of no return. ’We have to make sure history will never repeat itself,’ he says -Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz spoke at Yale University on Wednesday. In his speech he linked the Nazi atrocities to the Iranian threat: "Israel will not tolerate a nuclearIran ; and I’d like to believe that the rest of the world will not allow it to happen. All is fair in the efforts to make sure it doesn’t’ happen." Mofaz arrived in the US as the minister charged with Israel’s strategic dialogue with the US. The transportation minister held several meetings with US officials regarding the Iranian threat, including one with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. . . ." The Iranian regime is the number one threat to mankind in the 21st century. It is a multi-dimensional, multi-armed threat, which increases every day, every hour."

Neturei Karta: Zionism Jewish nation’s true Holocaust
Neta Sela, YNetNews 5/1/2008
Son of Arafat cabinet member says during rally ’Holocaust a God-given decree used by Zionists to attain reparations’ -A demonstration against nationalizing Holocaust Remembrance Day was held in Jerusalem on Thursday by ultra-Orthodox group Neturei Karta. Israel Meir Hirsch, son of Moshe Hirsch, who served as an honorary member of deceased Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s cabinet for Jewish Affairs, participated in the event. According to Hirsch, the demonstration was aimed at "showing that Zionism is the Jewish nation’s true Holocaust. The Jewish nation endured many massacres and murders throughout its 2000 year exile, and the Holocaust, a God-given decree, was of the body and not of the soul," said Hirsch." We can’t comprehend god-given decrees, it is not our business. However, it is clear that the real Holocaust is that Zionism took a nation and assimilated it to the gentile nations in the State of Israel," he added.

Urgent interrogation: Police to question Olmert Friday
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 5/1/2008
Dramatic developments in investigation against Olmert? Attorney General Mazuz issues special permit to question prime minister within 48 hours; Police to interrogate Olmert Friday, PM’s Office confirms - Urgent interrogation:Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will be questioned Friday at his Jerusalem residence, after Attorney General Menachem Mazuz issued a special permit allowing police to interrogate him within 48 hours. The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed the initial Channel 2 report no the matter after a long silence, and noted that Olmert was summoned to an interrogation that is only an hour long." The prime minister intends to fully cooperate with law enforcement officials, as he has done in the past. He is convinced that as the truth will emerge in the framework of the police investigation, the suspicions against him will dissipate," the PM’s Office said.

Abbas undergoes unannounced heart procedure in Jordan
Associated Press, YNetNews 5/1/2008
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas underwent an unannounced heart test at Jordan Hospital on Thursday. Aides to Abbas said he was doing well after a catheterization procedure they described as successful, and that he was expected to leave the hospital later in the day. Abbas is due to return to the West Bank on Friday, they said, adding that they expect him to return to work immediately after his arrival. In Amman, Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeneh said a doctor recommended the catheterization procedure during a routine medical examination Thursday. Saeb Erekat, a top aide to Abbas, said he spoke to the Palestinian leader from the West Bank on Thursday afternoon." He’s doing very very well. He’s in very high spirits. He even joked to me," Erekat said. He said Abbas planned to resume his schedule immediately and has meetings scheduled with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday and with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sometime next week.

Police summon PM for urgent questioning under caution
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 5/2/2008
The police have summoned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for urgent questioning under caution, Channel 2 reported Thursday. According to the Channel 2 report, it is still not clear which of the ongoing criminal investigations involving the prime minister the police will focus on in their interrogation, to begin Friday. Questioning under caution usually indicates that police believe their interrogation could result in an indictment. The prime minister is facing three separate police investigations - the "Investment Center" affair, "The house on Cremieux Street" case and suspicions that he helped advance the interests of customers of a former business partner, Attorney Uri Messer. The interviews will take place over the next 48 hours, and will begin in Olmert’s house in Jerusalem Friday morning. The affair of the house on Cremieux Street in Jerusalem is the least severe of the criminal charges against Olmert.

Palestinian president undergoes angioplasty in Jordan
Ma’an News Agency 5/1/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas underwent an angioplasty operation in a hospital in the Jordanian capital of Amman on Thursday, Palestinian presidency spokesperson Nabil Abu Rdaina announced. President Abbas will be back in the Palestinian territories on Friday, Abu Rdaina stated. [end]

Abbas undergoes heart tests
Al Jazeera 5/1/2008
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has undergone a minor heart procedure in Jordan, according to his spokesman. The treatment added fresh uncertainty to peace talks with Israel that have been strained by Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip and rocket attacks by Palestinian fighters. In the latest attacks on Thursday by Israeli forces at least four Palestinian fighters and a 62-year-old civilian died. Nabil Abu Rudeina, Abbas’s spokesman, said that the president had undergone a heart catheterisation." It was a routine test and the results are good," he said. Abbas was due to return to the West Bank town of Ramallah on Friday, after having had the procedure which is used to check for blockages in the arteries, Abu Rudeina said. Abbas and Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, relaunched peace talks last November at a US-hosted conference in Annapolis, Maryland. Washington hopes a statehood deal can be reached by the end of the year.

IOF troops kidnap 30 Palestinians during incursion into Khan Younis
Palestinian Information Center 5/1/2008
KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)-- A large number of IOF troops reinforced by tanks, bulldozers and aerial cover invaded amid intensive gunfire at dawn Thursday the Farahin neighborhood in the east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip and kidnapped 30 Palestinians. Palestinian local sources told the PIC reporter that the invading IOF troops stormed many houses moving from one house into another through demolishing the internal walls and kidnapped 30 Palestinian citizens, while the military bulldozers were sabotaging agricultural lands in the area. For its part, the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, announced in a communiqué received by the PIC that its fighters engaged in fierce clashes with the invading troops and fired four mortar shells at them. In a monthly report received by the PIC, the international Tadamun (solidarity) society for human rights stated that the IOF troops killed. . .

Three people, including a farmer, killed in separate Israeli army attacks on Gaza
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 5/1/2008
The Palestinian death toll out of Israeli army attacks on Gaza today has risen to three including a civilian man, as a small-scale incursion is taking place in southern Gaza. Medical sources reported that three Palestinians including a farmer, have been killed in less than 24 hours in different parts of the Gaza Strip. Mohammad Abu Daqqa, was shot dead in the head after the Israeli army incurred into the Faraheen neighborhood of the Khan Younis city, in southern Gaza Strip today morning. Also, three other men, said to be resistance fighters, were wounded in the Israeli incursion into the Faraheen area, as the total number of those wounded in the past 24 hours mounted to 10, medics added. In the Rafah city in southern Gaza Strip, an Israeli drone fired a missile on a Palestinian man, while walking down in the streets of Shaboura neighborhood in Rafah, killing him instantly and wounding critically a passerby 13-year-old girl.

Army kills a Palestinian fighter, injures two children during separate attacks in southern Gaza
Rami Al Meghari & Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/1/2008
Palestinian sources reported that one Palestinian fighter was killed and two children were injured by Israeli army fire in separate attacks targeting the southern part of the Gaza Strip on Thursday morning. The Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, stated that an Israeli unmanned airplane fired missile at Nafith Manssour, 40, a leader in the brigades and killed him. Witnesses said that Manssour was walking in one of the streets of Al Shabura Refugee camp located near Rafah city when the unmanned airplane attacked him. He suffered critical wounds and died of his wounds later on. Khoulod Ingeliy, a bystander child was injured in the attack medical sources reported. Meanwhile Imad Kadeh, 12, sustained critical wounds after he was shot by the Israeli army in the head during and invasion targeting Al Faraheen area east of Khan Younis town located in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces arrest 6 Palestinians near Jenin; ransack charity
Ma’an News Agency 5/1/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – Israeli forces arrested five Palestinians from the northern West Bank towns of Fahma and one from Ya’bad near Jenin on Thursday. Palestinian security sources said that an Israeli military force stormed Fahma overnight and raided several houses before arresting five men, saying they had thrown stones at Israeli military patrols. Other Israeli forces raided Ya’bad and arrested one man. Separately, more than 15 Israeli military vehicles stormed the city of Jenin, besieging the headquarters of the Prisoners Supporters Society. They then stormed the building, confiscating computers and other equipment. [end]

Palestine Today 050108
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 5/1/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 3 m 0s || 2. 75 MB ||Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, www. imemc. org, for Thursday May 1st 2008. The Israeli army invades Gaza, kills one Palestinian fighter and injures two children while in the West Bank troops kidnap 10 civilians. News Cast Palestinian sources reported that one Palestinian fighter was killed and two children were injured by Israeli army fire in separate attacks targeting the southern part of the Gaza Strip on Thursday morning. The Qassam Brigades the armed wing of the Hamas movement stated that an unmanned Israeli airplane fired a missile at Nafith Manssour, 40, a leader in the brigades and killed him. Witnesses said that Manssour was walking in one of the streets of Al Shabura Refugee camp located near Rafah city when the unmanned airplane attacked him, he sustained critical wounds and died later in the hospital.

ISM: Summer Against Apartheid
International Solidarity Movement 5/1/2008
ISM Statements SUMMER CAMPAIGN 2008 - ‘Summer Against Apartheid’The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is issuing a call-out for office and field volunteers for its "Summer Against Apartheid" in the West Bank and Gaza strip. Whether it’s for a week or three months, you can help provide protection during non-violent demonstrations as well as help ensure that Palestinian voices will be heard. The 2008 ‘Summer Against Apartheid’ runs from May 28th until August 2nd, with volunteer training sessions to be held every Wednesday and Thursday Why are so so urgently needed? Below are just four reasons. 1. The recent Israeli orders to use live ammunition against demonstrations close to the apartheid wall, unless there are internationals or Israelis present [see link], means an international presence offers some. . .

Weekly Report on Israeli human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 24 - 29 Apr 2008
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights - PCHR, ReliefWeb 4/30/2008
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) - 9 Palestinians, including 5 children and a woman, were killed by IOF in the Gaza Strip. - The victims include a woman and her 4 children who were killed when IOF shelled their house in Beit Hanoun town. - 29 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 6 children and a woman, were wounded by IOF. - A Palestinian civilian was wounded by Israeli settlers in the West Bank. - IOF conducted 36 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and 4 ones into the Gaza Strip. - IOF razed 140 donums (1) of agricultural land in the southern Gaza Strip. - IOF demolished a house and damaged agricultural areas in Beit Hanoun. - IOF arrested 37 Palestinian civilians and held at least 50 others for some time in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli occupation’s war on Palestinian orphans in W. Bank
Palestinian Information Center 4/30/2008
AL-KHALIL, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation soldiers have raided on Wednesday a cloth factory belonging to the Islamic charitable society in Al-Khalil city and confiscated everything inside it before issuing an order sealing it off for three years. In addition, the occupation army warned the public not to come close or enter it otherwise they will be jailed for five years. Local witnesses and workers in the factory asserted that large number of IOF troops backed by military vehicles and heavy trucks ransacked the factory after they forcibly broke its main gate. According to the witnesses, the occupation soldiers seized all the sewing machines inside the factory in addition to clothes of the Palestinian orphans living in the same building. The street where the society is located was sealed off by the soldiers who also banned journalists from covering the raid.

Israeli Arabs: Jewish youth must study Nakba
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 5/1/2008
’There must be symmetry. Palestinians study Holocaust, Jews should study Nakba,’ Arab sector representative says - The day in which Jews all over Israel stand in a moment of silence in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day always raises certain questions within the Israeli Arab population, mainly about their positions on the Holocaust and the Jewish history their children study in the Arab sector’s schools. Chairman of the Arab sector’s education follow-up committee, Nabiya Abu-Salah, claims that Arab students should study the Holocaust, but at the same time he expects the Jewish education system to devote teaching time to the Nakba (the expulsion of the Palestinian refugees from their land during the War of Independence)." There must be symmetry. Just as the Palestinians living in Israel need to study the Holocaust, Jewish youths should learn that a nation that was living here was exiled from its land," he said.

Al-Ayyam newspaper back on Gaza newstands after 78-day ban
Ma’an News Agency 5/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Palestinian daily newspaper Al-Ayyam newspaper was back in circulation in the Gaza Strip on Thursday after a 78-day ban. The magistrates court affiliated to the Hamas-run de facto government issued an order on February 6 2008 banning the distribution and printing of the newspaper in the Gaza Strip. The assistant undersecretary of the Palestinian Information Ministry in the de facto government, Hasan Abu Hashish, said that the decision to ban the newspaper came from the general prosecution and judiciary after the newspaper published a cartoon mocking the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC. ) Abu Hashish claims this violates the Palestinian press law of 1995. The PLC has filed a lawsuit against the newspaper over the cartoon. The court also ruled that the newspaper’s chief editor, Akram Haniyeh, and the cartoonist Al-Bukhari should be jailed for six months.

Put Your Body Where Your Heart Is - Break The Siege On Gaza!
International Solidarity Movement 5/1/2008
On May 30th 2008, people of conscience from around the world will gather in Egypt to break through to the imprisoned people living inside the Gaza Strip. People will attempt to enter Gaza in an act to break the murderous siege and to stand in solidarity with those inside. The siege, brutally imposed by the Israeli government in June 2007, following over a year of sanctions has resulted in lethal denial of medical access, shortages of food, fuel and electricity, and stands as a grave act of collective punishment. It is time to stand up and shout, "No more!" It is time to show that we will not simply stand by while this atrocity is carried out, as our governments do nothing. It is time to use our bodies to prove what we believe is just in this world. Our governments have backtracked on their responsibility, as stipulated in past agreements, to facilitate and over see the flow of. . .

VIDEO - Israel’s African refugees
Mat Heywood / Lihee Avidan, The Guardian 5/2/2008
Israel is now dealing with a wave of Christian and Muslim Africans, seeking refuge there. Looking for security they are turning to an accessible, wealthy country that has no policy with which to deal with them. [end]

Court permits Nakba rally
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 5/1/2008
Islamic Movement petitions court after state-appointed village head denies its request to hold rally marking Nakba next week - The Nazareth District Court granted Thursday a request by the Islamic Movement to mark the Nakba - a day commemorating the expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948, in Kfar Qana next Friday. The movement petitioned the court after Ilan Gavrieli, the village’s state-appointed head, denied its request to hold the rally." We were certain that the judge would accept our stance. Not allowing the event would have constituted a violation of the freedom of speech," said Sheikh Kamal Khatib, deputy head of the movement’s Northern Branch. This year the movement decided to link the Nakba events with ceremonies marking the birth of Prophet Muhammad and hold a big rally at the village’s stadium.

Dubai begins to comply with calls to boycott settlement financier
Press release, Adalah-NY, Electronic Intifada 5/1/2008
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 in the 30 April edition of Dubai’s Gulf News followed a flurry of media coverage of the 18 April 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.

Hamas asks UN to assume responsibility towards Gazan unemployed workers
Palestinian Information Center 5/1/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement has called on the UN on the occasion of May Day to assume its humanitarian and relief responsibilities towards unemployed Palestinian workers in Gaza Strip which is a "disaster area that lacks minimum life prerequisites". Hamas in a statement on the occasion that falls on the first of May said that 200,000 Palestinian workers are out of jobs and have been deprived of their incomes for 8 years. They are no longer capable of feeding their children due to the "Zionist oppressive siege", it added. The Movement asked UNRWA to develop its work programs and to increase assistance to workers to cope with the growing level of the disaster. It then turned to the Arab countries and asked them to play an effective role towards that "army of unemployed" who were greatly affected by the "Zionist crimes", and urged Palestinian entrepreneurs abroad to invest in. . .

UK PM, Blair chair Middle East investment talks in London
ASSOCIATED PRESS, Jerusalem Post 5/1/2008
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his predecessor, Tony Blair, made a rare public appearance together Thursday to kick off 24 hours of Middle East diplomacy aimed at spurring investment in the occupied territories. Brown opened the conference by calling for more private sector investment in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He said such investment was vital for peace. "There is an economic prize before us," Brown said." There is a real chance to build on the ingenuity and skills of the Palestinian people to build real peace and prosperity in the region." However, a meeting of ministers from the so-called Middle East Quartet of peacemakers will take place on the sidelines of the conference.

Secretary-General, in message to Paris Conference, says 2008 marks ‘sixtieth year of Palestinian dispossession’, underlines urgency of finding solution to question
United Nations Secretary-General, ReliefWeb 4/29/2008
Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the United Nations International Conference on Palestine Refugees, delivered by Angela Kane, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, in Paris, 29 April: I send warm greetings to the participants of the United Nations International Conference on Palestine Refugees, held under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. This year marks the sixtieth year of Palestinian dispossession, an anniversary that underlines the importance and urgency of finding a solution to the question of Palestine and of addressing the plight of the Palestine refugees. The Palestinian people’s desire or right to live a normal daily life in their own sovereign land remains undiminished, as do the individual and collective rights of Palestine refugees.

United Nations International Conference on Palestine Refugees opens in Paris
United Nations General Assembly, ReliefWeb 4/29/2008
Individual, Collective Rights of Palestine Refugees Remain Undiminished, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Says - PARIS, 29 April -- ‘The Palestinian people’s desire to or right to live a normal daily life in their own sovereign land remains undiminished, as do the individual and collective rights of Palestine refugees,’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message to the opening session of the United Nations International Conference on Palestine Refugees. In a statement read out by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Angela Kane, the Secretary-General noted that 2008 marked the sixtieth year of the Palestinian dispossession. At Annapolis, the international community had come together to support efforts that would lead to an end of the conflict.

Egyptian Security Chief to visit Israel in the coming days
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/1/2008
Israeli media sources reported on Thursday that the Egyptian Intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, is expected to visit Israeli in the coming few days to receive Israel’s response on the truce offer mediated by Egypt and agreed on by Palestinian factions. On Wednesday several Palestinian factions have agreed to a ceasefire with Israel. The Palestinian factions, including Hamas and 11 smaller groups agreed in Cairo on Wednesday to proposals that include a six-month truce, a prisoner exchange and reopening of the border crossings between Gaza, Israel and Egypt. The truce deal, which was mediated by Egyptian security officials, will take effect in Gaza first then will include the West Bank in later stages. However, no date was set for implementing the truce deal yet. On the ground, Israel continued to attack the Gaza Strip, and on Thursday the army invaded several parts of the southern. . .

Tel Aviv rejects Palestinian truce proposal
Middle East Online 5/1/2008
TEL AVIV - Israeli Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit on Thursday insisted the Egyptian-mediated Gaza truce proposal must be rejected." We must break Hamas, not hold negotiations with them," Sheetrit, a member of the security cabinet, told public radio." The armed forces must attack [Hamas] night and day to break their arms and their legs," he said. According to Sheetrit, Hamas "would exploit any truce to gain strength, perfect its weapons and prepare for the next confrontation." Sheetrit made the comments a day after 12 Palestinian resistance factions agreed to the proposed truce during talks with Egyptian mediators, who will now travel to Israel to submit the plan. The deal for an initial six-month "period of calm" has been accepted by the democratically elected Hamas, while Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, from rival Fatah, has given the negotiations unconditional support.

Barak: Concessions in face of evil recipe for Holocaust
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 5/1/2008
In ceremony closing Holocaust Remembrance Day at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, defense minister says, ’lesson learned from WWII is that conciliation and surrender in the face of evil a recipe for Holocaust’ -"The Jewish nation has never had this much power to deter and defend itself as well as a basis and a guarantee for achieving peace and security," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday night during a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai amid the incessant Qassam attacks on Israel’s southern region. At the beginning of the ceremony the participants were instructed on how to act in case the "Color Red" alert system is activated." Anti-Semitism, tyranny and desire to murder have never vanished from the world," Barak added, "the lesson of the Second World War is that conciliation and surrender in the face of evil are a recipe for a holocaust.

Hamas retorting to Rice’s statement: The people elected Hamas
Palestinian Information Center 5/1/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas on Thursday affirmed that it was elected by the Palestinian people and could not be isolated while commenting on American secretary of state Condoleezza Rice’s statement that her administration would continue to isolate Hamas. Rice, speaking last night during a meeting with American Jews in Washington, said that the US would continue to isolate Hamas until it accepts the so called "peace option". She also accused Hamas of fighting on behalf of Iran to destabilize the region. Dr. Ismail Radwan, one of Hamas’s political leaders in Gaza, said in a press release, that Rice’s statement was an interference in internal Palestinian affairs. He said that the current American administration, similar to past ones, is supportive of the "Zionist enemy", and described Rice’s statement as "hostile to the Palestinian people".

Jihad: We won’t sign cease-fire, but won’t be first to violate it
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 5/1/2008
Islamic Jihad said on Thursday it would not formally sign onto an Egyptian-brokered truce with Israel but would not be the first to violate it. Egypt is expecting Israel to accept and implement the cease-fire proposal agreed on by the Palestinian factions, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit’s bureau chief said Wednesday. But a number of factions were equivocal in their support for a ceasefire, and some said they reserved the right to retaliate against Israeli attacks. In a new statement, Zeyad al-Nakhala, deputy to exiled Islamic Jihad chief Ramadan Shallah, said the group could not be a party to a truce agreement that did not also apply at the onset to the occupied West Bank." But we will not be the first to violate or undermine it, and we will give a chance for the reopening of (the Gaza Strip’s border) crossings and alleviating the suffering of our people," Nakhala said.

Hamas: We will not remain silent vis-à-vis occupation crimes
Palestinian Information Center 5/1/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Thursday said it won’t remain silent vis-à-vis Zionist occupation’s "brutal" crimes the latest was the assassination of a field commander in the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas. Hamas spokesman in Khan Younis, south of the Strip, Hammad Al-Ruqub said that all options before the Palestinian people were open to retaliate to the IOF aggression as long as it was foiling all attempts to secure calm. Ruqub said in a press release that the IOF troops’ crimes at a time efforts are being made to reach a truce re-affirm the Israeli occupation’s "bloody policy" and insistence on retaining a state of instability in the region. He pointed out that such crimes indicate that the "enemy only understands the language of blood and force".

Hamas TV claims ’Satanic Jews’ planned, perpetrated Holocaust
Anat Rosenberg, Ha’aretz 5/2/2008
Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV aired a documentary on April 18 claiming that Jews planned and perpetrated the Holocaust in order to rid the nation of the "burden" of the weak and disabled. Palestinian Media Watch, a group that monitors Palestinian Arabic language media and schoolbooks, uploaded part of the program onto YouTube in a segment called "Hamas Holocaust Perversion: Jews Planned Holocaust to Kill Handicapped Jews." The Al-Aqsa TV clip edits together footage from the World War II Nazi Genocide, showing Jews being rounded up and taken to a train as well as emaciated corpses lying in a pile, alongside images of Israeli leaders David Ben Gurion and Golda Meir. The accompanying commentary claims that Ben Gurion said "the disabled and handicapped are a heavy burden on the state."

Young, but not guarded
Zvi Bar''el, Ha’aretz 5/2/2008
"Israel will not extract a tahadiyeh [cease-fire] from Hamas from a position of victory," Mushir al-Masri, the secretary general of the Palestinian parliament’s Hamas faction, asserted on Monday. His statement, issued following the report of the killing of an entire Palestinian family this week, apparently by Israel Defense Forces missiles, was intended to make it clear that the situation was a matter of a duel between equals in status, if not equals in capability. The rockets that were fired into Israel afterward were intended to prove that point. They were also intended to set the tone for the talks held in Egypt the following day, between Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and the different Palestinian factions. Hamas knew that despite the disagreement over the "Gaza first" issue - Islamic Jihad wants the tahadiyeh agreement to cover the West Bank as well - Suleiman would be able to present an agreed-upon plan to the Israeli government.

In the holiday spirit
Yossi Verter, Ha’aretz 5/2/2008
Ever so slowly, the blown-up reactor is being pushed aside by the messages that have been exchanged between Israel and Syria under Turkish auspices. Strangely, the voices of those cabinet ministers and Knesset members belonging to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s Kadima party, and who are opposed to negotiations with Syria, have been more numerous than those of the opposition. These party members are considering their future in the next Knesset, perhaps back in the ranks of the Likud. Not a single one of Kadima’s top brass has mustered the courage to defend the person who is both their party leader and the prime minister. Olmert and his bureau have neither confirmed nor denied talks with Syria. They have left the headlines to the Turks and the Syrians. Opposition leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud also kept mum, even though every whisper. . .

Report: Rights group shows clear anti-Israel bias
Ynetnews, YNetNews 5/1/2008
Human Rights Watch accuses Israel of ’collective punishment’ in way that is applied to no other country on earth, NGO Monitor charges; HRW dismisses report, says NGO Monitor needs better understanding of international law - Despite some improvement, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) organization continues to display a "clear, identifiable political bias in both the quality and quantity" of its Israel coverage, a recently released report charges. Jerusalem-based watchdog NGO Monitor this week released its report on HRW’s 2007 activities, with a particular focus on the group’s repeated allegation that Israel is inflicting "collective punishment" on Gaza residents. According to the report, HRW accuses Israel of "collective punishment" in a way that is applied to no other country in the world. NGO Monitor’s report notes that Russia’s 1999 policy of denying power,. . .

Mayor of San Francisco leads mission to Israel
Globes Online 5/1/2008
A San Francisco and Silicon Valley delegation includes top high tech and venture capital executives. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is leading a high-level mission to Israel this week. The trip, almost unprecedented in scope, will see some 100 San Francisco-area leaders explore possibilities of investment, cooperation, and business partnerships with local Israeli companies. The mission is being organized by San Francisco’s Jewish Community Federation (JCF) which represents the Jewish community throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including much of the Silicon Valley region. Silicon Valley is considered to host the world’s largest concentration of venture capital and technology companies. The delegation of business leaders and investors are active across the area’s high-tech, bio-tech, investment, and real-estate scenes as well as other local industries of strategic importance.

Bishops told to remove crucifixes at Jerusalem’s Western Wall
Ma’an News Agency 5/1/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Irish religious leaders on a visit to the Middle East were unable to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Thursday morning after a security official ordered them to remove their crucifixes, Yussef Dorkhom, Counsellor for the General Delegation of Palestine said in a press release. The local bishop accompanying the delegation, Dr Munib Younan, told the officials the request was a breach of a protocol agreed between the Israeli government, the Christian leadership in the city and the Jewish Rabbinate. The matter is expected to be discussed between the leaders and Israeli officials at a forthcoming meeting. [end]

Haneyya: Muslims and Christians are one people sharing the same pain
Palestinian Information Center 5/1/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ismail Haneyya, the premier of the PA caretaker government, stated during his meeting Wednesday with patriach Michel Sabbah and a high-level church delegation that Muslims and Christians in Palestine are one people with the same hopes, suffer the same pain and share the same aspirations and common destiny. Haneyya also highlighted that his government would not allow anyone to come between or disturb the brotherhood of Christian and Muslim Palestinians. In a press statement received by the PIC, Haneyya’s office reported that extensive discussions on a number of important issues in the Palestinian arena took place during the meeting especially the efforts made to end the state of internal division and the issues that concern the Palestinian Christians. Patriarch Sabbah expressed his hope that the internal discord in the Palestinian arena would come to an end, calling. . .

Hamas PM: Palestinian Christians and Muslims share same hopes, same problems
Palestine News Network 5/1/2008
Gaza / PNN -- The elected yet ousted Prime Minister, Ismail Haniya, met with Patriarch Michel Sabbah in Gaza. A high-level delegation from the Church sat together with several governmental ministers and officials. The primary point was a discussion regarding the state of division among the Palestinian parties of Fateh and Hamas, of which Haniya is a member. The delegation from the Church was concerned with bringing out issues of particular concern to Palestinian Christians. Patriarch Michel Sabbah said that he hoped for an end to the state of division in the Palestinian arena and a reunion of national unity. He called on all parties to be less rigid in their positions and asked that the media not add fuel to the fire. Ismail Haniya told the Patriarch that his government was ready to reunite to a single vision once again and move together toward national liberation.

MK Pines: I’m puzzled by police silence over PM’s probe
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 5/1/2008
Head of Knesset’s Interior Committee, in charge of police, says he’s puzzled by decision to hide Olmert’s investigation from public - Puzzling police silence: Knesset Member Ophir Pines, who heads the Knesset’s Interior Committee that supervises the police, expressed his puzzlement Thursday night over the police’s decision to keep the urgent interrogation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert under wraps. Thursday evening, the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that Olmert will face investigators Friday at his Jerusalem residence. Earlier, Channel 2 reported that the interrogation was made possible after Attorney General Menachem Mazuz approved the police’s request to interview Olmert within the next 48 hours. Responding to the police’s refusal to comment on Olmert’s probe, Pines told Ynet: "It’s unreasonable and puzzling in my view that the police hid from the public the prime minister’s investigation.

Eitan’s wheeling and dealing keeps Pensioners Party intact
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 5/2/2008
The chairman of the Pensioners Party, Rafi Eitan, kept his party intact this week, getting MK Elhanan Glazer to serve under him in the Pensioner Affairs Ministry in return for staying in the party. Glazer will serve as deputy minister to Minister Eitan. Pensioners MK Moshe Sharoni had boasted in recent weeks that he had at least three party MKs in his pocket to form the "Justice for Pensioners" party under Soviet-born billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak. But on Wednesday, MK Sarah Marom-Shalev, a Sharoni ally, showed up for a meeting of Pensioner MKs at party headquarters in Tel Aviv to discuss the crisis. Although Marom-Shalev did not deny she would team up with Sharoni, she said she was part of the Pensioners Party and had never left it. Nevertheless, Sharoni and his advisers insisted that Marom-Shalev would sign on. . .

OPT: Attitudes to women working in the West Bank are changing - the problem is they can’t get their goods to markets
CARE, ReliefWeb 4/30/2008
Tamam Eskandar is 33 and unmarried. She lives with her family in Selet Edahr, a conservative village half way between the West Bank cities of Nablus and Jenin. Tamam walks with a slight limp but her disability doesn’t prevent her from working tirelessly to support families with disabled family members and women who want to work. "In some ways I’m very lucky," says Tamam, sipping fresh mint tea in the women’s centre of Jaba’a, a village very close to her own. "To compensate for the way I was born my family allow me freedoms that most women don’t have. I use these freedoms to help others." Tamam was inspired by a network of donor- funded women’s groups springing up in villages around her own. As a social worker she helpedpersuade women in Jaba’a to open a centre of their own where women could work together to process and market food products.

Gaza-Egypt powerline project approved
Missionary International Service News Agency - MISNA, ReliefWeb 4/29/2008
Information minister and spokesman for the Palestinian National Authority, Riyad al-Maliki, announced an accord with Egyptian authorities to lay down a new power cable between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. In a press conference in the West Bank town of Ramallah, al-Malki said that the $15-million project, to be funded with loans from the Islamic Development Bank, foresees a seven-kilometre powerline to connect El-Arish (in Egypt) and the border town Rafah. Once completed, the project will consent the 1. 5-million inhabitants of the coastal area to no longer be exposed to the frequent power outages since 2006 in the Gaza Strip. Gaza’s sole power plant meets 45% of the demand, while the rest is provided by Israel. [BO]

Fuel prices in Palestine rise
Ma’an News Agency 5/1/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Fuel prices in the Palestinian territories rose by 4. 6% on Thursday, Hanna Al-Alam, chief of the Bethlehem branch of the Palestinian oil corporation told Ma’an. According to Al-Alam, prices will be as follows: Litre of diesel = 5. 75 NIS. Litre of benzene = 6. 34 NIS. [roughly $6. 80 for a gallon of gas - Ed. ][end]

Falafel fuel’ powers cars in petrol-starved Gaza
Middle East Online 5/1/2008
GAZA - When Hassan Amin al-Bana gingerly steps on the gas pedal of his bright yellow taxi, a strange smell wafts from the exhaust: deep-fried fast food. Faced with chronic fuel shortages due to an Israeli blockade, dubbed by human rights groups as “collective punishment”, taxi drivers in the Gaza Strip are filling their tanks with cooking oil, often scrounging leftover fat from street vendors. "It’s not like driving with diesel -- it takes time to get it going in the morning," said Bana, 40, at Gaza City’s main taxi stand." I know it’s bad for my car, but I have to pay for food for my kids so what can I do? " The pumps at Gaza’s petrol stations have been deserted for several weeks but brightly-coloured cartons of soya bean cooking oil, some smuggled from Egypt, are piled high at the taxi rank in the impoverished territory’s main city.

Israelis among UK richest
Tali Tsipori, Globes Online 5/1/2008
The "Sunday Times" Rich List includes both British citizens and people with strong ties to the country or assets in it. The "Sunday Times" Rich List for 2008 shows that only six of the 20 wealthiest Britons were actually born in the country. Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal tops the list, with a fortune of ₤27. 7 billion, followed by Roman Abramovich, the Russian owner of Chelsea Football Club, with a fortune of ₤11. 7 billion, up from ₤10. 8 billion a year ago. Both men kept their rankings from last year. Mittal is also the world’s sixth richest man as growing demand for steel boosted his fortune by ₤8. 4 billion last year. The Duke of Westminster is in third place, with a fortune of ₤7 billion. Industrialists Sri and Gopi Hinduja are in fourth place and Russian steelmaker, unranked last year, Alisher Usmanov reached fifth place.

Elbit, General Dynamics demonstrate UAV to US military
Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 5/1/2008
The Skylark II is based on Elbit’s experience with similar systems in the Second Lebanon War and in Iraq. Elbit and General Dynamics recently conducted the first US demonstration of a new unmanned aerial vehicle for US armed forces personnel. In an event held at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products and Elbit Systems of America, LLC, showed the Skylark II Small Tactical /Tier II-class unmanned aerial system (UAS). The Skylark II UAS provides a covert, silent electric-propulsion system for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions and target tracking, a unique feature in its class. The air vehicle is virtually inaudible at 500 feet above ground level, enabling persistent ISR coverage for use in areas previously inaccessible to other air vehicles that have higher noise signatures or lower endurance capabilities.

Credit crisis costs Israeli banks over $1b
Eran Peer, Globes Online 5/1/2008
More write-offs are expected ahead of the release of banks’ first quarter reports. Israeli banks have written down from their shareholders’ equity $1. 27 billion (about NIS 5 billion on the basis of the December 31 2007 shekel-dollar exchange rate) since the outbreak of the sub-prime mortgage crisis nine months ago. The write-downs were the result of the banks’ exposure to mortgage-backed securities (MBS), collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), structured investment vehicles (SIVs), and synthetic CDOs (SCDOs). The write-downs amount to about 13% of banks’ portfolios in these instruments. The banks’ aggregate exposure to these instruments is $9. 66 billion (NIS 37 billion), amounting to 63% of their shareholders’ equity. $7. 55 billion of this amount is held in MBSs. In view of the loss in fair value of the portfolios, the banks have been forced to recognize a temporary write-down. . .

Return to Haifa’ repackaged for Israeli theatres
Middle East Online 5/1/2008
A Jewish couple raises an abandoned Palestinian child. Decades later the boy’s two mothers meet, and, after an agonizing and high-octane exchange, they tentatively embrace. The scene is charged with symbolism, heightened by the fact it comes from an Israeli stage production of a Palestinian novella, and is performed by a Jewish and Arab cast to mark Israel’s 60th birthday. "The Return to Haifa", a provocative new play by one of Israel’s leading theatres, explores the personal suffering behind the decades-old Middle East conflict, from both an Israeli and Palestinian perspective. "What’s so special about this production is that it gives an arena for people of both sides to listen to each other’s narratives," director Sinai Peter said ahead of the opening night in Jaffa, south of central Tel Aviv. Through the stories of two couples and one child, the play evokes sympathy. . .

Rarely seen segment of the Dead Sea Scrolls to be displayed for Israel’s 60th anniversary
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 5/1/2008
A rarely displayed segment of the Dead Sea Scrolls will be part of an exhibition for U. S. President George W. Bush and other dignitaries attending Israel’s 60th anniversary celebrations next month, a museum official said Wednesday. The ancient manuscripts date back over 2,000 years and contain almost the full text of the Jewish Bible, as well as early Christian texts. The segment on display will be from Psalm 133. It reads: Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. There are about 1,000 segments of the ancient scroll. Eight pieces are onpermanent display at the Israel Museum and the rest, including Psalm 133, are kept by the Israel Antiquities Authority and rarely shown, a spokesman said Wednesday. Many of the fragments were found in a cave next to the Dead Sea.

Iran complains to UN about Clinton’s comments on Israel, Iran
Reuters, Ha’aretz 5/1/2008
Iran complained to the United Nations on Wednesday about U. S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s comment the United States could "totally obliterate" Iran in retaliation for a nuclear strike against Israel. Iran’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the president of the Security Council expressing Iran’s condemnation of "such a provocative, unwarranted and irresponsible statement." Clinton made the remarks last week while campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination. The New York senator said she wanted to make clear to Tehran what she was prepared to do if she becomes president in the hope that this warning would deter any Iranian nuclear attack against the Jewish state." I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president, we will attack Iran (if. . .

South Africa withdraws request to host ’Durban 2’ conference
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 5/1/2008
South Africa has withdrawn its bid to host the United Nations conference on human rights and racism, Haaretz has learned. A Jerusalem source said that the conference is likely to take place in a European capital in the spring of 2009. South Africa hosted the first Durban conference in the summer of 2001 under the auspices of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. It was titled "The World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance," but most of the discussions revolved around Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. A Foreign Ministry official said the reason for South Africa’s backpedaling is unclear, as only a few months ago President Thabo Mbeki said his country wishes to host the conference." The fact that ’Durban 2’ won’t be in Durban makes it lose its political edge," the source said.

Sadr says Iraq President to solve crisis
Middle East Online 5/1/2008
BAGHDAD - Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Thursday refused to hold talks with Iraqi lawmakers, insisting the crisis between US-led Iraqi forces and his Mehdi Army would be resolved through parliamentary initiative backed by the Iraqi president and the parliament speaker, an aide said." Moqtada al-Sadr did not permit his leaders to meet the Iraqi delegation," said Sheikh Salah al-Obeidi, the cleric’s spokesman in the central holy city of Najaf." Sadr insists that the crisis can be solved only through a parliamentary initiative backed by President Jalal Talabani and speaker Mahmud Mashhadani." Obeidi did not elaborate, but Talabani has been holding talks with Sadrists to resolve the crisis. Obeidi earlier said a group of Iraqi Shiite MPs had travelled to Iran for talks with Sadr. He said the group was led deputy parliament speaker Sheikh Khalid al-Attiya.

Saudi scholar finds ancient women’s rights
Andrew Hammond - RIYADH, Middle East Online 5/1/2008
When clerics, ministers and businessmen gathered at a forum in Riyadh last month to discuss women in the workplace, there were no women in sight. Typically for Saudi Arabia, the women who took part were seated in a separate room so the men could only hear them. Such oddities are part and parcel of the complex system of social control maintained by clerics of Saudi Arabia’s austere version of Sunni Islamic law, often termed Wahhabism. It’s a system called into question by scholar Hatoon al-Fassi. In her study, "Women In Pre-Islamic Arabia", the outspoken rights advocate argues women in the pre-Islamic period enjoyed considerable rights in the Nabataean state, an urban Arabian kingdom centered in modern Jordan, south Syria and northwest Saudi Arabia during the Roman empire. Most controversially, Fassi says women in Nabataea - whose capital was the famous rose-red city of. . .

Sense of injustice drives Iraqi women bombers
Middle East Online 5/1/2008
BAGHDAD - A head and pieces of flesh were all that were left of a woman who blew herself up near a security checkpoint in central Baghdad’s Al-Karrada neighbourhood in February. The woman, strapped with explosives hidden under her clothing, approached a checkpoint. When security forces tried to search her, she turned and ran to a nearby shop. Although they fired on the woman, it was too late. She detonated her bomb in front of the electronics store, killing herself and three others. “She seemed to be a young woman,” said Bushra Mohammad, 28, an employee for a company in the same building who witnessed the incident. “She was wearing an abbaya [long cloak]. ” Those are the only details known about the woman, whose motives and identity have yet to be revealed. In Iraq, suicide bombings by women are increasing.

Hunger’s global hotspots: 29 Apr 2008
United Nations World Food Programme - WFP, ReliefWeb 4/29/2008
Introduction Rome, 29 April 2008 - Facts, figures and the lastest updates from WFP’s high profile emergencies. Afghanistan - The week witnessed the first public demonstration against food price increases in Jalalabad. In response WFP agreed to loan, upon request, 1,000 mt of wheat to the Government of Afghanistan for distribution to bakeries in Kabul. - As part of the High Food Price Mitigation intervention programme, WFP distributed 500 tons of food to 30,000 people during the week in Kabul; 200 tons to 12,000 people in Mazari-sharif and Kunduz; and 500 tons to 30,000 people in Kandahar and Hilmand. In addition, about 230,000 people are now engaged in FFW activities in Nangarhar, Kunar, Laghman, Nuristan, Takhar Badakhshan, Khost, Panjsher and Parwan provinces through this programme. - WFP assisted 80 IDP families returning to their place of origin in Badghis province.

Invisible wounds’ of Iraq war haunts US soldiers
Middle East Online 5/1/2008
WASHINGTON - A majority of US soldiers who have done tours of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan say they suffer from stress-related troubles linked to their deployments, a study showed Wednesday. But most keep their psychological problems to themselves for fear of being stigmatized or seeing their careers take a nose-dive, the study conducted by Harris Interactive for the American Psychiatric Association (APA) showed. Nearly six in 10 US military members said their deployment in a war zone has caused them to suffer from "negative experiences" associated with stress. But a mere 10 percent have sought treatment for mental health concerns, according to the study, which surveyed 347 members of the US military and their spouses. Just over 60 percent said they avoided seeking help for mental health problems because they feared doing so would impact negatively on their career.


No mercy
Najwa Sheikh writing from occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 5/1/2008
      In their simple house made of metal sheets, Myassar Abu Me’teq was sitting next to three of her children having breakfast and holding her one-year-old baby in her arms. She listened to their daily complaints and loving quarrels, trying to comfort them and keep them away from the sound of the Israeli shelling close to their home in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip.
     This mother did not know that their clock would soon stop ticking, not by their creator but by their enemy. She did not know that it was the last breakfast she would prepare for her children. She did not know that it was the last time she would hold her baby. She did not know that she would no longer know her children and their future as they also would never know their mother as an old woman. Like any mother, she refused to leave her children alone on their trip. She did not want to let go of her baby and insisted on accompanying them as one family in life and in death.
     But like many others before her who were killed by Israel, she did not know that she would be the hero of a horror movie, and that she would be leaving this world with her four children, leaving behind two other girls with the bitter taste of loss and images of their mother and little sisters pigmented in blood and pieces of their bodies. An artillery shell -- "accidentally" as Israel officials said -- hit the family’s house and shattered the dreams of the little kids during their peaceful breakfast, ahead of a joyful afternoon. The shell killed them in a brutal way without any mercy for their tiny bodies or their baffled eyes.

Blockade puts Gaza on brink of serious food crisis, says UN

Donald Macintyre in Gaza City, The Independent 5/1/2008
      Destitution and food insecurity among Gaza’s 1.5 million residents has reached an unprecedentedly critical level, according to unpublished UN findings that they now need "urgent assistance" to avert a "serious food crisis" in the occupied Palestinian territories.
     The report revealing that Gaza’s population has already passed the internationally-agreed threshold at which it needs concerted measures to prevent a "deterioration in their nutrition" has been drafted on the eve of a donors’ conference to discuss Palestinian political and economic prospects in London today.
     Showing that Palestinians are having to spend a higher and higher share of their shrinking incomes on food, the findings are that the proportion of Gazan incomes now going on food is 66 per cent – significantly higher than the 61 per cent recorded for Somalia. Seventy per cent of Gazans are at a "deep poverty" income level of $1.20 (60p) per head per day or less.
     The joint report from three UN agencies, the World Food Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the refugee agency UNRWA, points out that this proportion is a "key measure of destitution" because the poorest people in the world spend most of their incomes on food while the richest spend relatively little compared with spending on accommodation, healthcare transport and clothes."

No reconciliation, no truce

Dina Ezzat, Al-Ahram Weekly 5/1/2008
      Gaza is giving Cairo a headache
     As the window for a Palestinian-Israeli peace deal closes President Mubarak and King Abdullah of Jordan intensify coordination on a fall-back position Tomorrow, Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit and his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni are scheduled to meet in London. The encounter will be the first for Abul-Gheit and Livni since the latter expressed dismay over her working relationship with the top Egyptian diplomat.
     Beyond mending fences, Abul-Gheit and Livni must address two vital issues. The first is Israel’s laxity in moving forward in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA). The second is the stifling blockade that Israel is imposing on Gaza.
     Egypt is very concerned about the negative consequences of the months-long continued siege coupled with failure to make any serious progress in talks aimed to set an outline for a final status agreement on Palestinian-Israeli peace. The obvious immediate consequence of this situation is a continued deterioration of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza -- Egypt’s immediate backyard -- and a further decline in the status of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

Further Colonization: A new Zionist settlement in Jerusalem

Palestinian grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 5/1/2008
      The Civic Coalition to Defend Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem has reported that Occupation authorities aim to construct a new settlement in occupied East Jerusalem.
     From information obtained by the Mapping and GIS Department of the Arab Studies Society, it has been revealed that the new Ma’ale David settlement will be built on approximately 10 dunums of land and include 110 housing units for Jewish settlers. Occupation officials have used the Israeli legal code as justification for the project, despite the fact that Jerusalem is considered occupied territory, making construction of settlements in the city illegal under international law.
     According to the plans, approved buildings will be located in the centre of the Palestinian community and be as high as ten stories. The location is not accidental, according to Khalil Tukfaji of the Mapping and GIS Department of the Arab Studies Society, who recalled Sharon’s 1990 plans as Minister of Housing to build 26 so-called “gate” settlements inside Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem.

Crossing the Line interviews journalist Mohammed Omer

Podcast, Electronic Intifada 5/1/2008
      This week on Crossing The Line: On 17 April 2008, Fadel Shana’a, a Palestinian camerman with Reuters news agency, was killed when he was struck by an Israeli tank shell in the Gaza Strip. Even though he was holding a camera and was clearly marked as a member of the press, both on his body and his vehicle, Shana’a was fired at by an Israeli tank less than a mile away. Host Naji Ali speaks with Mohammed Omer, a Palestinian journalist based in the Gaza Strip, about the dangers of reporting on Israeli violence.
     Next, Ali speaks with Joel Campagna, a journalist and human rights activist whose organization, Committee to Protect Journalists, defends the rights of reporters to work freely without fear of reprisal from governments and armed combatants alike.
     Listen Now [MP3 - 23.5 MB, 51:21 min] Crossing the Line is a weekly podcast dedicated to giving voice to the voiceless in occupied Palestine. Through investigative news, arts, eyewitness accounts, and music, Crossing the Line does its best to present the lives of people on the ground.

Extremist Jewish organization resurfaces in Canada

Paul Weinberg, Electronic Intifada 5/1/2008
      TORONTO, 30 April (IPS) - Like an aging group of retro rocker musicians, the extremist Jewish Defense League (JDL) resurfaced in Toronto recently after a decade of dormancy, trying to look a little more mainstream.
     The group made its largest public foray in quite some time on 27 March, when it hosted a meeting of about 150 for Israeli politician Moshe Feiglin at the Shaarei Tefillah Synagogue on a stretch of Bathurst south of Wilson that conjures Jerusalem’s Mea Shirim with its black top hats, piety and peyes.
     Once targeted by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation as "domestic extremists" and linked to two banned anti-Arab racist groups in Israel, the JDL now considers Feiglin, leader of the hard-line Jewish Leadership faction of the already right-wing Likud party, its political mentor.
     Feiglin saved most of his bile at the meeting for Israel’s leadership, accusing them of caving in to the violence perpetrated by the enemy, namely the Palestinians, whom he referred to as simply "Arabs."

A conditional calm

Amira Howeidy, Al-Ahram Weekly 5/1/2008
      Twelve Palestinian factions met with Egypt’s General Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman in Cairo Tuesday and Wednesday and agreed, despite expressing reservations, to an initiative by Cairo to maintain a state of "calm" in Gaza. Suleiman is expected to take this initiative, now backed "conditionally" by all the Palestinian factions, to Tel Aviv by Sunday or Monday. Should Israel accept it, the calm, or ’ tahdia ’ in Arabic, will take effect.
     Originally presented as a "factions’ dialogue" similar to previous meetings hosted by Egyptian General Intelligence, this week’s meetings didn’t group the factions together and did not include either Fatah or Hamas.
     "Why talk to each other in Cairo when we’ve already done that in Gaza," Jameel Al-Majdalawi of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) told Al-Ahram Weekly. Instead, each delegation met with Suleiman separately in a series of brief, to-the-point meetings focussed on the Egyptian proposal.

Truth or Neo-Consequences

Morgan Strong, Middle East Online 5/1/2008
      An obscure academic dispute – over whether Israeli archeology sought to obscure the land’s last two millennia of history and promote a continual Jewish claim of ownership – has shown again how tensions in the Middle East can reverberate in unlikely ways in the United States.
     The dispute centered on whether Barnard College should grant tenure to Nadia Abu El-Haj, an American-born scholar of anthropology who, in the 1990s, challenged the scientific integrity of what she saw as the Israeli use of archeology in a politically motivated way to justify Jewish settlements on territory that had belonged to Palestinians.
     Although the controversy wasn’t new – it had been argued out within archeological circles in Israel for years – El-Haj became a lightning rod because she was the first academic of Palestinian descent to publicize the debate in a 2001 book, Facts on the Ground: Archeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society.

Twilight Zone / Last refuge

Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 5/1/2008
      Welcome to Banana Land, the first Palestinian water park, the only place where people in the territories can sail in a boat. You can have your picture taken with a snake, dance with a parrot, swim with a life preserver and barbecue meat. If only you can cross the checkpoint.
     So where were you for Passover? And where will you be on Independence Day? We spent time this week in Banana Land. On the northern outskirts of dying Jericho, on a site with three natural springs, among the banana groves, the former mayor has opened the water park - the territories’ amusement park.
     An engineer from India built a fountain there that could rival the one on our own Dizengoff Square. They also brought in a mini-soccer field from Holon, pedal boats from Eilat, as well as snakes and parrots from Tel Aviv, so now thousands of families and schoolchildren from all over the West Bank come to wade in the cement canals and two tiny swimming pools.

Why Inspector Denley cried

Tom Segev, Ha’aretz 5/1/2008
      From the viewpoint of Inspector John Denley, it began on April 21, 1946. He was in charge of the Ramat Gan police force. On that particular day he was away from the station. When he learned that members of the Irgun - the underground organization led by Menachem Begin - were attacking it, only one thought raced through his mind: His wife and two children were in their apartment on the floor above the station.
     The members of the gang, as Denley wrote years later, used a simple trick: They phoned the station to report a fight between Jews and Arabs. Most of the policemen rushed to the scene of the supposed fight, leaving the station almost empty. The assailants arrived in a stolen military vehicle. Half of them wore British uniforms and pretended to be taking in a group of Arab thieves. All of them burst into the station and started to clean out the arsenal, which was the reason for the operation.
     The attackers did not immediately put the wireless operator out of commission, and he managed to summon Denley from the Petah Tikva police station. When Denley arrived he saw the truck laden with munitions driving off, but before all the Irgun men had boarded it. One of the assailants emerged from the station after the truck had already left. Denley shot him in the face. It was Dov Gruner.

Seeds of change

Nashwa Abdel-Tawab, Al-Ahram Weekly 5/1/2008
      Arab kids are in their own Never-Neverland fighting against Captain Hook, immersed in a political game without a full grasp of its rules, tools and implications.
     They are being brought up in an age of fiery disputes, sweltering wars and turbulent crises, denied their basic rights and made to inherit a miserable bulk of unsolved problems. Rather than having their childhood shielded, children in the Middle East region have been handed the baton early in the relay race -- they have become embroiled in politics at a young and critical age, on streets, at schools and on the net.
     Last month, several hundred school children from 20 schools took part in a Hizbullah-organised demonstration outside the UN headquarters in Beirut to protest against Israel’s deadly offensive in Gaza, where Israel’s incursions into the Hamas- controlled strip have killed more than 120 Palestinians in one week. The children presented a letter to a UN representative calling on the world body to take action. They held pictures of children killed during the Israeli operations. "Where are children’s rights?" asked a banner. "USA and Israel, the same face of terror," read another.