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

VTJP Archives | Newslinks Archives  
4 May 2008

News

An Israel army tank shells a house in southern Gaza, kills a civilian man
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 5/4/2008
An Israeli army tank shelled on Sunday morning a Palestinian-owned house in the southern Gaza Strip town of Kheza’a, killing a civilian man and wounding two other inhabitants. Palestinian medical sources said that Hussam aL-Najjar, 42 year-old-man, was killed and at least two other Palestinians were wounded, with tank shells shrapnel. Witnesses said that an Israeli tank shell landed on a house , just close to the Israel-Gaza border line in the southern Gaza Strip town of Kheza’a and that the Israeli fire caused the death of Najjar and the injury of another inhabitant of the house. Conflicting reports said that four other Palestinians were wounded in the Israeli attack on Kheza’a, including three fighters of the ruling Hamas party in Gaza, after they had clashed with the invading forces. The Israeli incursion into this Palestinian town came under the cover of warplanes as. . .

Housing Ministry plans 700 apartments in Betar Illit settlement
Dalia Tal, Globes Online 5/4/2008
In 2006, the government suspended construction in the town. The Ministry of Housing and Construction is promoting a 700-unit residential project in Betar Illit, after a two-year hiatus. Betar Illit, located in Gush Etzion south of Jerusalem in the West Bank, is a haredi (ultra-orthodox) town founded in 1988 that currently has 30,000 residents. In 2006, the government suspended construction in the town causing an uproar among haredi sects. The last project built in the town was by now bankrupt Heftsiba Ltd. In recent weeks, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has announced the construction of scores of housing units in Ariel, Elkana, and Givat Zeev. The building plan has aroused the ire of the Palestinians and openly challenged the Bush administration.

Israeli army ‘exonerated’ in Gaza family deaths
Middle East Online 5/2/2008
JERUSALEM - A military inquiry into the deaths of a Gaza woman and her four children claimed on Friday they were killed by the explosion of ammunition carried by militants targeted by an Israeli missile." The family was hit during the explosion of the second missile that ignited secondary explosions or from objects that flew towards them because of the force of the blast," the army said in a statement on the conclusions of the full investigation. The military also released aerial footage of Monday’s incident in the town of Beit Hanun in the north of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, which showed several large explosions which the army said were secondary detonations. According to the statement, an Israeli aircraft fired a first missile at four militants it identified as "carrying backpacks loaded with ammunition." One gunman was hit in the strike, which was followed by a strong secondary explosion.

Panel: Modi’in Illit should be city, despite illegal construction
Akiva Eldar, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
The ultra-Orthodox settlement of Modi’in Illit in the West Bank should be granted city status despite suspicions that its council members were involved in authorizing illegal construction, an ad hoc committee set up by the Interior Ministry has recommended. The committee’s decision contradicts expert opinions that severely criticized Modi’in Illit’s council for its involvement in approving the construction of Matityahu East, a new neighborhood that borders the Palestinian town of Bil’in. Construction of Matityahu East was brought to a halt about two years ago after a petition filed by Peace Now and Bil’in residents to the High Court of Justice, claiming that the project lacked proper permits." [The petition] has exposed a serious phenomenon of building without plans or permits, or with permits issued devoid of a complete plan," the High Court justices wrote.

Quartet opens door to ending Hamas isolation
Anne Penketh, Diplomatic Editor, The Independent 5/2/2008
The big powers have formally acknowledged for the first time that the policy of isolating Hamas through an economic blockade of Gaza is not working. In a statement issued after talks at foreign minister level in London, the Quartet for Middle East peace opened the door to Egypt to find a "new approach" for Gaza, which was seized by the militant Islamic Hamas movement in June last year. The blockade, which was intended to provoke Palestinians into rejecting the Hamas leadership, has in fact proved counter-productive, and caused a humanitarian catastrophe for the majority of the 1. 5 million population of the Gaza Strip." Principals strongly encouraged Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Egypt to work together to formulate a new approach on Gaza that would provide security to all Gazans, end all acts of terror [and] provide for the controlled and sustained opening of the Gaza crossings. . ."

UN: Humanitarian aid to Gaza to be halted Mon. due to fuel shortage
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
The United Nations is set to halt delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip on Monday because its vehicles have run out of fuel, a UN official said. Gaza has been facing a fuel shortage because of Israeli restrictions on supplies and a strike by Palestinian fuel distributors. The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides aid to Gazans, said the lack of fuel would force its food distribution programs to be halted on Monday, affecting some 650,000 people." The lack of petrol for our cars and other vehicles means that our education, relief and social service programs will be severely hit," said UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness. The agency made a similar announcement last week but obtained a late delivery of some fuel. An Israeli official said some diesel fuel intended forGaza’s power station. . .

VIDEO - News / IDF kills two Palestinians in separate incidents in Gaza Strip
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 5/4/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 news roundup for May 1, 2008. The IDF kills two Palestinians in separate incidents in the Gaza Strip. Police summon Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for urgent questioning under caution. Avram Grant travels to Auschwitz after clinching Chelsea’s spot in the Champions League final. [end]

IOF troops bulldoze 220 dunums of lands, demolish 9 Palestinian homes
Palestinian Information Center 5/4/2008
KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces demolished nine Palestinian civilian homes and bulldozed 220 dunums of cultivated lands during their incursion into Abbassan east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza. Legal sources told PIC reporter that the IOF wreaked such vast destruction in less than 12 hours on Thursday. They said that the IOF soldiers uprooted hundreds of olive and palm trees other than destroying glasshouses and water wells. The sources noted that the IOF destruction bared the Zionist security fence separating the area from 1948 occupied lands, which made movement in the area hazardous due to the daily firing by IOF tanks and soldiers. They said that owners of the destroyed buildings could not repair or re-build them due to the lack of construction material as a result of the IOF siege. The legal sources revealed that the soldiers used a big number of citizens. . .

Settlers attack villagers in Nablus
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 5/4/2008
Palestinian sources reported on Saturday that an extremist settler group attacked several Palestinian villagers of Aseera Al Shimaliyys village, south of the northern West Bank City of Nablus. The settlers burnt fields planted with wheat and attacked several villagers injuring Humam Moneer, 16. Israeli soldiers arrived at the scene and dispersed the crowd but tension is still ongoing in the area and the armed settlers remained there and continued utter threats against the villagers. [end]

Israeli settlers attack Palestinian farmer near Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 5/4/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian farmer tending his fields in the West Bank village of Husan, near Bethlehem, on Sunday, a witness said. Ghazi Shawasha told Ma’an that Israelis from the settlement of Betar Illit crowded around him and began throwing rocks in his direction. He said he fled as quickly as possible, but was unable to save his car, which was damaged by the stones. [end]

The Israeli army besieges a high school in Azzoun of the West Bank
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 5/4/2008
An Israeli army contingent cordoned off early on Sunday morning a high school in the West Bank town of Azzoun, 10 kilometers to the east of Qalqilia city. Witnesses said that the army force was deployed in the scene after an Israeli settler’s car was attacked by stones near the school, causing the injury of a woman and a child. Ayman Majd, headmaster of the school, told media outlets that the Israeli occupation forces have besieged the 490-student school and that the officer in charge of the contingent wanted to detain some students, claiming they have hurled a settler car with stones. Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation forces imposed a curfew on the Azzoun town yesterday night until it was lifted by Sunday morning. The army swept into the 1,0000-inhabitant-populated town and closed all its entrances. Over the past several months, the Azzoun town has been suffering from a. . .

Report: Israeli government lied about lifting restrictions on movement
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/4/2008
The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, B’Tselem, has issued a report finding that the Israeli government has continued to maintain severe and comprehensive restrictions on movement in the West Bank, despite claims to the contrary. Removal of some of the 700 Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks is one of several things that the Israeli government agreed to do as part of an agreement with the Palestinian Authority. But the Israeli government has not removed roadblocks as promised. The Israeli government also promised to halt settlement expansion in the West Bank, but has instead increased settlement expansion. According to B’Tselem, the Israeli government recently announced that at the end of March 2008, the army began removing 61 physical obstructions -- dirt piles, boulders, and blocks -- it had placed inside the West Bank.

Palestinian worker imprisoned and beaten by Israeli police tells his story
Ma’an News Agency 5/3/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Fifty-year-old Palestinian construction worker Mahmoud Bani Nemra says he was beaten by Israeli police after being arrested on route to his job in Israel last December. Just released after four and a half months in Israeli prisons, Bani Nemra told his story to Ma’an. He said he was attempting to cross a checkpoint in Israel’s separation wall, on his way from his home in the West Bank town of Salfit to his job in Tel Aviv, when four Israeli police officers stopped him. He said he was arrested and taken to a police station in the town of Ramat Gan where he was severely beaten. Bani Nemra said he showed the police officers a medical report showing that he has heart disease and high blood pressure but "they had no mercy." Bani Nemra said he was taken to "Abu Kbeer" prison, where he was jailed with Israeli criminals.

Dozens treated for tear gas inhalation after weekly Bil’in demonstration
Ma’an News Agency 5/2/2008
Nablus – Ma’an - Dozens of protestors had to be treated for tear gas inhalation following the weekly demonstration against Israel’s separation wall in the village of Bil’in, north of Ramallah on Friday. Local villagers, international and Israeli peace activists took part in the march, carrying banners and shouting slogans against the separation wall that prevents local villagers from working their land. Israeli soldiers put up barbed wire in the area to prevent the demonstrators from accessing the wall. The troops then showered the protestors with tear gas and rubber-coated metal bullets. [end]

IDF charges three soldiers with assaulting Palestinian civilian
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
Three soldiers of the Kfir Brigade were recently charged at the Jaffa Military Court with assaulting, abusing and beating a Palestinian civilian. The incident occured in late January near the taxi stop at the roadblock near Kafr Fahm, southwest of Jenin. According to the testimony of the Palestinian in charge of the taxi stop, Ziad Abu-Sneina, given to a volunteer of the human rights group Yesh Din, the soldiers tied his hands, beat him, dragged him through a puddle of water, covered his face with a kaffiyeh and pretended to shoot him with a toy gun. Yesh Din said Sunday that the entire incident lasted some three hours. The organization also filed a complaint with Military Police against the soldiers. Following an investigation carried out by the army, a decision was made to bring charges against the soldiers for assault, abuse and aggravated injuries.

Rare Israeli conviction in 2002 killing of Palestinian
Report, B''Tselem, Electronic Intifada 5/2/2008
On 28 April, Israel’s Jerusalem District Court sentenced border policeman Yanai Lazla to six years’ imprisonment for the killing, in 2002, of ’Amran Abu Hamdiya, 18, from the West Bank town of Hebron. Lazla and three other policemen threw Abu Hamdiya from a jeep moving at high speed after they had abducted, beaten and abused him. His head struck the pavement with great force, killing him. The policemen also abused other Palestinians in Hebron. The entire affair was exposed by B’Tselem and the Palestinian human rights organization al-Haq. It is questionable whether a sentence of six years is compatible with an offense as grave as manslaughter. But bringing the policeman to justice, even if only partially, is a rare instance in which the system of justice in Israel meets its obligation to hold security forces accountable for illegally harming Palestinians.

300 Palestinians march against Israeli wall near Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 5/3/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – 300 Palestinians marched against the construction of Israel’s separation wall in the West Bank village of Al-Khadr on Friday. Former Information Minister and head of the Palestinian National Initiative Mustafa Barghouthi was among them. Israeli soldiers blocked the road leading to the construction site of the wall using barbed wire. Al-Khadr residents march every the construction of Israel’s concrete wall in their town, which they say will result in the de facto confiscation of most of the farmland in the agricultural community. The villagers have held nonviolent 13 demonstrations since protests resumed in January. Another 13 protests took place there in 2006 and 2007. Friday’s demonstration, which took place just after the Friday Muslim prayer, also marked Palestinian Workers’ Day.

Palestinian man beaten by Israeli soldiers at checkpoint in Azzun Atma
Ma’an News Agency 5/3/2008
Qalqilya – Ma’an – Israeli soldiers beat a 24-year-old Palestinian man at the entrance to the West Bank village of Azzun Atma on Saturday afternoon. He was hospitalized in the nearby city of Qalqilia. Taha was accused by Israeli soldiers of being involved in a confrontation between Palestinian civilians and soldiers at the checkpoint at the entrance to the village that left 10 people injured. Taha’s father said that the Israeli soldiers at the village’s entrance insult and humiliate ordinary Palestinians. Azzun Atma is completely isolated from the rest of the West Bank on the Western side of the Israeli separation wall. It’s only entrance is a checkpoint maintained by Israeli troops.

P.A security forces arrest 12 Hamas members
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 5/5/2008
Sources close to the Hamas movement reported that Palestinian security forces arrested twelve Hamas members and supporters in several West Bank districts on Saturday. In Hebron district, in the southern part of the West Bank, Palestinian security forces arrested Samer Obeido after he was order to head to a security center for questioning. In Nablus district, in the northern part of the West Bank, security forces arrested Ayman Al Madbooh, zaher Al Kousa, Mohammad Al Jeetan, Ala’ Al Jeetan, Mo’een Olewy, Amer Jodallah, Raed Olewy and Mousa Al Tanbour. Security forces also broke into the home of Khloud Al Masry, member of the Nablus City Council and searched the home before arresting her husband Ammar Al Masry. In Qalqilia district, in the northern part of the West Bank, security forces arrested Abdullah Joeidy and Mohammad Al Qafooni.

Palestinian security forces seize 12 Hamas supporters
Ma’an News Agency 5/4/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – The Hamas movement said on Sunday that the Fatah-allied Palestinian security forces seized 12 Hamas members on Saturday evening. In a statement released by Hamas, the movement said that eight of the arrestees were from the Dahiya neighborhood of eastern Nablus. The statement explained that Palestinian security stormed home of Hamas-affiliated lawmaker Khulud Al-Masri and arrested her husband Ammar Al-Masri. Another Hamas loyalist was seized in Hebron in the southern West Bank and two in Qalqilia in the northern West Bank, the statement added. [end]

Palestinian shot dead by unknown gunmen in Rafah
Ma’an News Agency 5/2/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - A Palestinian citizen was shot by unknown gunmen in the An-Nasser neighbourhood of Rafah in the Gaza Strip, medical sources announced on Friday. Medical sources told Ma’an that 45-year-old Abdel-Ra’ouf Abu Thabet was dead on arrival at hospital. He had sustained four bullet wounds to the stomach. Eyewitnesses reported the shooting occurred just after midnight on Thursday. [end]

National Resistance Brigades claim attack on Nahal ’Oz
Ma’an News Agency 5/2/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The National Resistance Brigades, the military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), claimed responsibility for launching two homemade projectiles at the Israeli kibbutz of Nahel ’Oz east the Gaza Strip, on Friday at dawn. The group said the attack was "an act of resistance against the ongoing occupation." [end]

PRC’s armed wing claim attack on Nahal ’Oz
Ma’an News Agency 5/2/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The An-Nasser Salah Addin Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), claimed responsibility on Thursday evening for shelling the Israeli military post of Nahal ’Oz. The Brigades announced in a statement that "the shelling comes in response to the crimes that the occupation commits against the Palestinians." [end]

Report: IDF arrested 363 Palestinians in West Bank in April
DPA, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
The Israel Defense Forces arrested 363 Palestinians in the West Bank during April, a Palestinian report revealed Saturday. Most of the arrests were in the city of Nablus, where the army arrested 128 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Center for Prisoners’ Defense. The IDF declined to confirm or deny the report. Israeli forces regularly raid West Bank cities and villages, searching for wanted Palestinian militants. The report said the latest arrests did not appear to target a specific age or category and "had included all Palestinian citizens." It added that the IDF soldiers used police dogs and beat the prisoners during the raids. The West Bank is governed by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and run by security forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Key Hamas operative killed in IAF missile strike in Rafah
Amos Harel Avi Issacharoff and Fadi Eyadat, Ha’aretz 5/4/2008
Two Palestinians were killed yesterday in Israel Defense Forces operations in the southern Gaza Strip. One of the dead is a senior figure in Hamas believed to have been involved in the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit and the other was a civilian resident of Khan Yunis. Also yesterday, at least 12 Qassam rockets were fired against Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip. A number of civilians were treated for panic. At approximately 10 A. M. an air force aircraft fired a number of missiles at a group of Hamas militants near the Shabura refugee camp in Rafah. The target of the attack was Nafez Mansour, 40, described by the Shin Bet as a key figure in the Hamas military wing, Izz al-Din al-Qassam. According to the Shin Bet, Mansour played an important role in the Hamas attack that led to Shalit’s abduction in June 2006.

Islamic Jihad’s military wing fires four projectiles at Sderot
Ma’an News Agency 5/4/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The military wing of Islamic Jihad, the Al-Quds Brigades, claimed responsibility on Sunday for launching four homemade projectiles at the Israeli town of Sderot, which borders the Gaza Strip. The military group said in a statement that the shelling came in retaliation for the ongoing "Israeli atrocities" against the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The shelling was also the first act of retaliation for the assassination of one of one of the group’s leaders, Awad Al-Qiq, last Wednesday, the statement added. [end]

The Israeli army invades Beit Sahour and searches cars
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/3/2008
Around eight Israeli soldiers barged into the town of Beit Sahour, located near Bethlehem, in the southern part of the West Bank on Saturday afternoon. The soldiers marched into the town and positioned themselves near the Greek Orthodox Church of Shepherd’s Field in the northern side of town. Troops stopped and searched a number of local Palestinian cars and pedestrians. As soon as IMEMC Ghassan Bannoura arrived at the scene soldiers ordered him to stop taking photos, when he did not comply with the Israeli army, soldiers detained Bannoura for 15 minutes, they ordered Bannoura to leave the area, or face abduction. The town of Beit Sahour is under jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, according to the 1995 Oslo Peace Accords between the Palestinians and Israelis. Beit Sahour is also famous for being the place of the Shepherd’s Field, where the holy host announced the birth of Christ.

Israeli killings of Palestinians and land destruction continue unabated in Gaza Strip
Palestine News Network 5/2/2008
Gaza / PNN - Palestinian medical sources and eyewitnesses reported on Sunday that Israeli forces have not stopped killings in the Gaza Strip. Today one Palestinian was killed and five others injured in the latest Israeli attack on the besieged Gaza Strip, beggin the cry from most residents, ’when will it end? ’ Hamas has pledged its support to the Egyptian sponsored ’cease-fire,’ however the occupiers have yet to heed the call. Three of those injured were members of the armed resistance wing, Al Qassam Brigades. They are affiliated with the Hamas party. Israeli forces invaded the southeastern Strip in Khan Younis. The medical sources reported that 40 year old Husam Al Najjar was killed during the Israeli incursion when the forces "fired a tank shell into his home." Another family member was injured.

Palestinians: IDF kills civilian in Gaza; three rockets hit Sderot
Mijal Grinberg and Reuters, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
GAZA - Israel Defense Forces troops killed a Palestinian civilian in the southern part of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Sunday, Palestinian medical workers said. They said the 41-year-old man, Hussam a-Najah, was hit by an IDF tank shell outside his home near the town of Khan Yunis. The medical officials added that the shell had also wounded a-Najah’s brother and wife. An IDF spokeswoman said Israeli forces were operating in the area but she had no immediate details about the incident. Also on Sunday, four Israelis were treated for shock when a barrage of three Qassam rockets struck the western Negev city of Sderot. One of the rockets hit a cemetery in the city, causing damage to some headstones. The second rocket destroyed the roof of a shop in the city’s commercial district and the third damaged a residential building.

Lebanese army: IAF planes violate air space over south Lebanon
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 5/4/2008
The Lebanese army said Sunday that Israel Air Force warplanes have violated Lebanese airspace by flying reconnaissance missions over southern Lebanon. The army said four Israeli warplanes flew over southern towns and villages before noon Sunday, then headed back. The Israeli overflights lasted about an hour, the army statement said. There was no immediate statement from the Israeli army, which usually does not comment on its flights over Lebanon. Israeli overflights have been a constant source of tension between the two countries. Before the 2006 war, Hezbollah used to open fire on Israeli planes, with shrapnel from the anti-aircraft fire falling on Israeli communities across the border, causing some casualties. In January, Lebanese troops opened fire on IAF warplanes flying reconnaissance missions over southern Lebanon, but no hits were reported, the Lebanese army said.

IOF troops withdraw from Khuza’a leaving behind trail of destruction
Palestinian Information Center 5/4/2008
KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)-- The IOF troops have withdrawn at noon Sunday from the Khuza’a town, east of Khan Younis, after an incursion that lasted for ten hours during which they shot dead a Palestinian citizen, wounded five others and destroyed three houses, two poultry farms and 100 dunums of agricultural lands. During the Israeli rampage in the town, Israeli snipers shot dead in cold blood a Palestinian citizen called Hossam Al-Najjar as he was feeding chicken on the roof of his house, while his brother was injured when he tried to rescue him. Sources in the Khuza’a municipality told the PIC reporter, that the Israeli military bulldozers demolished the house of a Palestinian citizen called Azmi Qudeih before he was kidnapped along with another citizen, partially destroyed two houses and uprooted 100 dunums of agricultural lands planted with olive and palm trees.

One killed, six injured by Israeli forces near Khan Younis
Ma’an News Agency 5/4/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – An unarmed 41-year-old Palestinian man was killed and his wife and brother were injured when an Israeli tank shell struck their house in the town of Khuza’a, near the city of Khan Younis, in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, witnesses said. The Israeli forces withdrew at 10am local time after an eight-hour incursion. Eyewitnesses said that Husam Najjar was killed when shrapnel from the shell penetrated his stomach. Najjar’s nephew, 24-year-old Muhammad Samir Najjar, was critically injured earlier on Sunday by Israeli forces who opened fire at the family house in Khuza’a. Palestinian medical sources said Muhammad was shot twice in the head and doctors were operating on him in an attempt to save his life. Eyewitnesses also said that invading Israeli bulldozers destroyed large swaths of agricultural land.

Israeli forces detain two Palestinians in Tulkarem
Ma’an News Agency 5/4/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized two Palestinians on Sunday morning from the city of Tulkarem in the northern West Bank. Israeli forces raided the western neighborhood of the city and seized two Palestinians, taking them to unknown destination. Witnesses said the Israeli soldiers destroyed the interior of the house of one of the arrestees. [end]

Palestinian fighters shell Israeli targets near Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 5/3/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian military groups continued to shell Israeli towns and military positions bordering the Gaza Strip on Saturday, Palestinian fighters said. The An-Nasser Salah Addin Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, claimed responsibility for firing two homemade projectiles at the town of Nativ Ha’asera. They said that the projectiles were of the "Nasser 2" type. The National Resistance Brigades, the armed wing of the left-wing Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), claimed to have launched two projectiles at the Kisufim military base early on Saturday. The Al-Buraq Army, which is linked to the Fatah-allied Al-Aqsa Brigades, claimed responsibility for launching one projectile at the Israeli town of Sderot.

Palestinian Police arrest Hebron man in possession of large quantity of weapons
Ma’an News Agency 5/2/2008
Hebron – Ma’an - Palestinian police arrested a Hebron man in possession of a large quantity of weapons and prohibited documents on Thursday evening. An unnamed security source told Ma’an that the weapons and ammunition were discovered in his house. Brigadier Adnan Ad-Damiri, media spokesman for the Palestinian police, said "the issue is related to politics, and there is nothing more to say at the moment." [end]

Mezan Center: ''69, including 20 children and 16 women, killed by the army in April in Gaza''
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/5/2008
The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights issued a report on Sunday revealing that Israeli soldiers killed 69 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in April. The Center added that among the killed residents were 20 children and 16 women. The Center reported that soldiers carried 30 invasions into the Gaza Strip in April and kidnapped 127 Palestinians, including 17 who are still in detention. Soldiers also bulldozed 372 Dunams of agricultural land and demolished 15 homes. The ongoing attacks against the Gaza Strip come as Israel continues its siege against the Gaza Strip and after it significantly decreased the amounts of fuels allowed into the coastal region. In April, Israeli authorities allowed the entry of 6. 406 liters of industrial fuel needed to operate the Electricity Generators at the power station in Gaza. This amount is nearly half of the amount which is needed to fully operate the station.

IDF releases clip clearing itself of blame for Gaza family deaths
Haaertz Service and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
The Israel Defense Forces on Friday released a video exonerating itself of responsibility for the deaths of Palestinian woman and her four children in Beit Hanun on Monday, which the clip shows were caused by the detonation of explosives carried by a Gaza militant hit in an Israel Air Force strike. Israel and Hamas have exchanged accusations since the incident over blame for the civilians’ deaths in the northern Gaza Strip town. According to the IDF panel investigating the deaths, the target of the IAF strike on Monday was a group of four Palestinian gunmen which had been identified. IDF Spokesperson’s Office said the panel concluded that, "one gunman was targeted and hit from the air. As a result a strong secondary explosion occurred" when ammunition and weaponry he was carrying in a back pack was detonated.

Israeli Gaza deaths report disputed
Al Jazeera 5/2/2008
The Israeli army has blamed Palestinian fighters for the deaths of a Gazan mother and her four young children following an Israeli air raid in Beit Hanoun earlier this week. The military’s report contradicts one by B’Tselem, an independent Israeli human rights group, which found that the family was killed by an Israeli missile. The Israeli army said on Friday that its investigation of the killing of Meissar Abu Megteg and her children found that secondary blasts from ammunition backpacks carried by the fighters were to blame. But B’Tselem maintains there is "no evidence" of any secondary explosion." The material [B’Tselem] has collected, including an analysis of the area, photographs of bodies, and eyewitness accounts, raise doubt about the IDF spokesperson’s contention that a secondary explosion is what killed the family," the group said.

On World Press Freedom Day, Mezan Center issues a report on violations against reporters
Saed Bannoura Editorial Group, International Middle East Media Center News 5/4/2008
Saturday May 3 is the World Press Freedom Day, The Al Mezan Center For Human Rights issued a report highlighting the important role of the reporters and media institutions in serving human rights, democracy and countering corruption. In its report the center highlighted violations and attacks against reporters in the Palestinian territories. The Center stated that violations against reporters in 2007 and the first quarter of 2008, Israeli soldiers carried repeated attacks against reporters and media agencies in addition to attacks carried out by the Palestinian Authority or attacks carried by armed groups and political movements. The Israeli attacks included limited or blocking the freedom of movement of the reporters, and targeting several reporters. One of the main violations was the killing of reporter Fadil Shana’a, a Reuters cameraman who was shot by the Israeli forces.

Israeli peace activists send 60,000 USD in medical supplies to beseiged Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 5/4/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – 60,000 US dollars worth of medicines and medical supplies collected by Israeli peace activist will be transferred into the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the activists said. Israeli Coalition Against the Gaza Siege raised money from around the world and bought the supplies from Palestinian companies in the West Bank city of Nablus. After much bureaucratic wrangling, the groups secured the agreement of the Israeli military to allow the much-needed supplies into Gaza. The Tel-Aviv based Physicians for Human Rights obtained the permits, and the Israeli Peace Bloc, Gush Shalom, will accompany the shipment to the Gaza border. On the Gazan side, the Palestinian-International Coalition Against the Gaza Siege will receive the shipment. Gaza’s medical sector has suffered greatly from 10 months of the Israeli-imposed blockade.

May Day reveals suffering of Palestinian children in Jenin
Ali Samoudi "“ Jenin - Translated by Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/2/2008
As the siege and ongoing Israeli attacks and violations continue in the Palestinian territories, the International Workers Day, or May Day as some chose to call it, makes no difference to the Palestinian workers who have no work anyway. Yet even children are now affected, as this feature tells stories of Palestinian children who were forced to be child workers due to the bad conditions in the occupied territories. May Day or not, it does not really make any difference to Ibrahim Al Qahqwaji, whose nickname Al Qahwaji refers to the type of work he is doing, as Al Qahwaji refers to the person who sells coffee. He started this "profession" two years ago after he had to leave school in order to provide livelihood for his younger brothers, especially after his father became sick and was fired by his Israeli employers as he worked in Israel. His employers fired him and did not even pay him any compensation.

IOA deprives Palestinian prisoner from seeing her relatives for 3 months
Palestinian Information Center 5/4/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- The Israeli prison authority in Hasharon jail has imposed a fine of almost 100 dollars on prisoner Amal Fayez Juma and deprived her of family visits for three months. Juma, 25, is serving an 11-year-term and was fined for "trivial, incorrect reasons", her lawyer of the Nafha society said. He said that Juma’s family had repeatedly asked a number of legal institutions to pressure the Israeli prisons authority to allow treatment of their relative because of her health condition that is constantly worsening. Juma, who is from Asker refugee camp in Nablus, suffered from rheumatism before her arrest on 5/4/2004 and her condition deteriorated because no medical treatment was accorded to her. She is also suffering at present from kidney inflammation and hair loss and her teeth are dropping.

ISRAEL-OPT: Small Palestinian village faces slow death
IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 5/4/2008
Abdullah Daraghmeh was kicked off his land in 1984 AQABA, WEST BANK, 4 May 2008 (IRIN) - At the entrance to the small village, labourers continued to work on a cement divider, creating two lanes to make the road safer, while in a side room next to the village kindergarten, Haj Sami Sadiq, the head of the local council, carried on sorting out agricultural development projects for his residents. Sadiq pretends it is "business as usual", but he knows that at any moment Israeli troops can arrive and begin demolishing most of the village’s structures and even some of the streets. Israel’s High Court last month rejected petitions by Aqaba residents asking that it cancel the military’s demolition orders, which include the kindergarten, the mosque, a health care centre and residential homes." The first demolition orders were issued in 1997. . ."

The Ahrar Center for Detainees’ Studies demands the release of six detained reporters
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 5/3/2008
On the World Press Freedom Day, May 3, the Ahrar Center for Detainees’ Studies demanded Reporters Without Borders Organization and the International Journalists Union to defend six Palestinian reporters imprisoned by Israel. The Center added that most of the detained reported are under administrative detention orders without charges or trial. Fuad Al Khuffash, head of the center, said that on this day "we should all remember those reporters who are capturing the suffering of the Palestinian people and the truth; they all ended in prison for that". Al Khuffash stated that six reporters are still imprisoned by Israel. He identified the six detained reporters as Sami Al Assy from Nablus, Waleed Khalid from Salfit (the Editor-in-chief of Palestine Newspaper), Tareq Abu Zeid, Mohammad Al Halaiqa, Jihad Daoud, and Nizar Ramadan (he is also a legislator).

Secretary Rice heads a trilateral meeting in west Jerusalem
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 5/4/2008
The U. S Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, headed on Sunday noon in west Jerusalem, a trilateral meeting involving herself, Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak and Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad. Media sources reported that the meeting focused on the latest deployment of the Palestinian Authority’s security forces in the West Bank city of Jenin by the end of this week. The sources said that the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, briefed Rice on what Barak called ’Israeli army ease of restrictions of Palestinian movement’ across the occupied West Bank. Rice is expected to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and heads of the Israeli Palestinian-Israel negotiations teams, later on. The U. S Secretary, whose country revived last November the Palestinian-Israeli peace process on basis of a two-state solution, urged earlier both sides to set the borders of the two state before the end of 2008.

Secret negotiaions going well say Egyptians
Palestine News Network 5/2/2008
Doha / PNN - Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abuol Gheit says there is "significant progress in the ongoing secret negotiations" between the Palestinians and Israelis. Aboul Gheit called for the Palestinians and Israelis to brief the international parties, especially the mediators, on the outcome of the discussions that take place between them. In a speech given to the press and issued Sunday, Aboul Gheit said that he, as the Egyptian Foreign Minister, wants to know what matters have been resolved or reached between the Palestinians and Israelis as Egypt is an intermediary and partner in this process. [end]

Egyptian FM: progress achieved in secret Palestinian-Israeli talks
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 5/4/2008
Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmad Abuelgheit, revealed Sunday that a progress has been achieved in secret peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis. Abuelgheit, speaking to the Alsharq Qatar-based newspaper, urged both sides to brief all concerned international parties on the progress of their underway talks. He said that his country, as a mediator between the two sides, wants to be aware of such developments. [end]

International Quartet calls on Israel to freeze settlement activity
Ma’an News Agency 5/2/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The International Quartet on Friday expressed its deep concern at continuing settlement activity in the Palestinian territories and called on Israel to freeze all settlement activity including natural growth, and to dismantle outposts erected since March 2001. The calls came during a meeting in London on Friday that included UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, High Representative for European Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel and Quartet Representative Tony Blair. Following the meeting the Quartet issued a statement saying both the Palestinian and Israeli sides must fulfill their obligations under the Roadmap, while making every effort to realize the. . .

Israel allows limited shipment of industrial fuel, cooking gas into Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 5/4/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Israeli military allowed a shipment of industrial diesel into the Gaza Strip needed to keep Gaza’s only power plant running on Sunday, sources in Gaza said. The Gaza power plant in An-Nuseirat briefly shut down on Sunday morning due to a shortage of fuel. After months of tightening sanctions, Israel suspended fuel shipments in April after Palestinian fighters attacked the Nahal Oz fuel terminal. The director of the Gaza power plant, Kan’an Ubaid, confirmed that the plant received two tankers of industrial diesel. Meanwhile, Mahmoud Al-Khizindar, the deputy head of the Gazan federation of gas stations said that two tankers of cooking gas entered the Gaza Strip, the first shipment in four days. Desperately needed gasoline for automobiles was not included in the shipment. With no gas delivered inweeks, Gaza’s transportation sector has all but shut down.

President Abbas to Rice: Israel should abide by the Road Map’s obligations
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 5/4/2008
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas voiced on Sunday the Palestinian leadership’s concern over what he called ’the Israelis side’s failure to abide by its obligations, stated in the U. S-backed road map peace blueprint of 2003’. In a joint press briefing with the U. S Secretary of States, Condloeeza Rice, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Abbas called on Israel to implement the first phase of the Road Map. He told reporters that the Palestinian side has asked the U. S Secretary to pressure Israel to stop all forms of settlements construction on Palestinian lands and reopen the East Jerusalem-based Palestinian institutions as well as return the situation back prior to Septemebr2000, when the Palestinian uprising (Intifada) broke out. Abu Mazen (Abbas) also declared he would meet on Monday with the Israeli Prime Minister as well as the Israeli foreign minister, Tsibi Livni, for talks. . .

Quartet urges Arabs to honor pledges of aid for Palestinians
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/3/2008
LONDON: Key world powers called Friday on Arab states to fulfil their promises of aid for the Palestinians and voiced deep concern over the humanitarian impact of a nine-month-old Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip. In a joint statement issued after the Middle East Quartet - the UN, the US, Russia and the EU - held talks in London, the powers also urged Israel to stop building or extending settlements in the Occupied West Bank. The Quartet called on Arab donor states to follow through on commitments to the Palestinians made at a conference in Paris in December." The Quartet encouraged the Arab states to fulfill both their political and financial roles in support of the Annapolis process," UN chief Ban Ki-moon said, citing an agreed statement. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told journalists after Friday’s talks: "I think there have been pledges that have been fulfilled but clearly when you make a pledge you ought to fulfill it.

Rice: Israeli settlement policy hindering Road Map
Palestine News Network 5/2/2008
Ramallah / Kristen Ess -- In town again, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has brought nothing new, as reported by Palestinian officials. Presiden Abbas declared his commitment to the ’peace process’ and Road Map, as long as they are at least ’tainted’ with justice. At a press conference on Sunday the President referred to Israeli’s reluctance to implement even the first phase of the Road Map." We asked Rice to help stop all Israeli settlement activity [all settlements contravene international law and the Road Map], and to open Jerusalem institutions that Israeli forces have routinely closed, and to remove some of the barriers and checkpoints on the ground which the Israelis promised to do to. We are looking for, at the least, a return to the conditions prior to 28 September 2000. Those conditions would include removing the closures, removing the barriers inside. . .

Rice says Israelis ’will have to do their part’ in West Bank
Sylvie Lanteaume, Daily Star 5/5/2008
Agence France Presse - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday urged Israel to take more concrete steps to ease the lives of West Bank Palestinians on her latest trip to the region to boost peace efforts." We hope to improve the opportunities around the West Bank for people to have economic opportunity in a secure environment," she said after meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the Occupied West Bank political capital of Ramallah. Rice said the changes should have "a real effect on the lives of people," adding that US mediators were "trying to look not just at quantity but also at the quality of improvements." On her last visit to the region, Rice secured an Israeli pledge to remove some 50 of the 500-plus roadblocks across the Occupied West Bank, but the Palestinians and the United Nations said the move was largely insignificant - and the Israelis have not honored the pledge.

Livni: Israel has no hidden agenda for West Bank settlements
Haaretz Service and Reuters, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
After meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah earlier Sunday, Rice said a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians was still possible by the end of the 2008." We continue to believe it is an achievable goal to have an agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis by the end of the year," Rice proclaimed at a news conference with Abbas. She described Israeli settlements in the West Bank as "particularly problematic" to efforts to establish a Palestinian state, and added that she was pressing Israel to do more ease restrictions on Palestinian movement but also stressed that Palestinians needed to take further action to meet Israeli security demands. Abbas praised the U. S. ’s commitment to the peace process, despite his very vocal disappointment following his meeting with U. S. President George W. Bush about a week ago.

Egypt says won’t let Gaza starve no matter outcome of truce bid
Reuters, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has listed securing a cease-fire agreement between Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip and Israel as one his "urgent priorities," the Egyptian state news agency MENA reported on Sunday. Egypt will send intelligence chief Omar Suleiman to Israel soon for talks on a truce deal Cairo hopes to seal between Israel and Palestinian militants, Mubarak said on Sunday. The agency said that regardless of whether Israel accepts Egypt’s proposal, Mubarak would ensure that the Gaza Strip does not fall to starvation." I think the head of intelligence will travel there, but after the holiday celebrations in Israel. He will go to talk to the Israeli side," Mubarak told reporters in remarks aired live on state television. Mubarak did not give a specific date for the trip, but Israel marks its Memorial Day. . .

Abbas urges Israel to take concrete steps towards peace
Ma’an News Agency 5/4/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated his commitment to ongoing peace negotiations with the Israel on Sunday, and called on Israel to implement its obligations under the US-supported Road Map peace plan. In a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice following a meeting in Ramallah, Abbas urged Israel to comply with the first stage of the multi-step Road Map." We told Rice that the Israelis must halt all settlement activities, reopen Palestinian institutions in east Jerusalem, remove checkpoints, lift the siege, send back deportees and bring the situation back to the way it was before May 28th 2000," Abbas said. The Palestinian president also confirmed that he and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would meet on Monday, and that the chief negotiators for both sides, Livni and Qurai’ would also hold a meeting Monday.

Rice’s meeting with Barak focuses on checkpoints
Ma’an News Agency 5/4/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met wih Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday morning in hopes of persuading the Israeli military of dismantling more West Bank checkpoints. Rice met separately with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and then met with Barak and Fayyad together. After a visit by Rice in late March, Barak pledged that the Israeli military would remove 61 roadblocks, but a UN survey later found that only 44 obstacles had been dismantled and that most were of little or no significance. Speaking before she arrived in the region on Saturday, Rice said she intends to evaluate whether the roadblocks removed actually affect Palestinian life." The first thing we are going to do is to review the ones that were supposedly moved," Rice said." Not all roadblocks are created equal," she added.

Hamas: Rice’s visit to the region is aimed to gain more time for Israel
Palestinian Information Center 5/4/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement stated Sunday that the visit of US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to the region in order to arrange PA-Israel meetings under her auspices is aimed to gain more time for the benefit of the Israeli occupation and to complete the scheme of endorsing Israel as a "Jewish state", which is backed by the American administration. In a press statement received by the PIC, Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said that the visit is also intended for covering up the failure of the last meetings between PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and his American counterpart George Bush. Barhoum noted that during the last meetings, Bush repudiated all his promises to Abbas regarding taking practical steps to support the rights of the Palestinian people before the expiry of his term of office, especially the establishment of a Palestinian state.

British Government Urges Israel to Lift Gaza Blockade
Kuwait News Agency, MIFTAH 5/3/2008
The British Government Thursday urged Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza and abide by international humanitarian law. Opening a House of Commons debate on the Middle East ahead of tomorrow’s major international meeting on the peace process in London, Britains Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells warned that Israeli action was having a "grave impact" on life in the territory. In a wide-ranging speech, Howells also warned Iran that it was facing "increasing isolation and confrontation" with the West over its nuclear programme and support for insurgent groups in Iraq and Afghanistan. On the situation in Israel and Palestine, the Minister said "Recent violence, especially in Gaza, is a cause of great concern"." Israel has real security concerns, but Israeli action must be in line with international humanitarian law"." Closures of border crossings in Gaza are having a grave impact on daily life"." We call on both sides to support the emergence of a stable, viable Palestinian state", he added.

Palestinian mission to the UN organizing events to mark Nakba anniversary
Ma’an News Agency 5/3/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) representative to the United Nations (UN), confirmed on Saturday that the Palestinian Mission to the UN is planning a series of events to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Nakba (Catasrophe), the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948. Mansour said these events include a heritage photo exhibition by UNRWA, the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees, which will open at the UN headquarters in New York City on 5 May. The Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon, and other diplomats will appear at an opening reception for the exhibit. After two weeks the exhibition will also appear in Washington, Detroit, and at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. A special meeting of diplomats and academic and political figures will also be held at the UN in June to commemorate the Nakba.

Chief negotiator Erekat welcomes Quartet’s call for settlement freeze
Ma’an News Agency 5/3/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Saeb Erekat, head of negotiations for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) welcomed a statement from the Middle East Quartet on Saturday that called on Israel to halt construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Erekat said the ongoing expansion of settlements undermines the very idea of a solution based on two states. In a document issued after a high-level meeting on Friday, the Quartet – a diplomatic grouping of the United Sates, the United Nations, the European Union, and Russia – called for Israel to freeze expansion of all settlements including so-called "natural growth" and to dismantle outposts established since march 2001. Erekat also said he appreciated that the Quartet called for building the Palestinian economy as a counterpart to a peace process that brings an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967.

Middle East Quartet urges all sides to commit to talks
Ian Black, The Guardian 5/2/2008
Israelis and Palestinians were urged today to make "every effort" to reach agreement on a Palestinian state by the end of this year amid mounting unease about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, said at a meeting in London of the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers that donors needed to fulfill "both their political and financial roles" in support of the talks, which were relaunched at the Annapolis summit in the US last November but are faltering badly. The Quartet, comprising the US, EU, US and Russia, said in a carefully-worded statement issued at Lancaster House that "much remained to be done" to improve the situation on the ground "to change the conditions of life in the West Bank and keep the political process on track.

Paris proposes installment of an international force in Palestine
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 5/4/2008
Paris has proposed installing an international peace-keeping force in the occupied Palestinian territories, the Israeli Jerusalem Post newspaper reported Sunday. Ac cording to the JP, Israeli Prime Minister, Fransou’ Filoun, had informed the American-Jewish committee last Thursday that France and Europe can, whenever possible, participate in an international force to bolster the Palestinian Authority’s security services. Such a proposal comes ahead France’s rotating presidency of the European Union, which had dispatched about 70 observers to the Rafah crossing terminal in southern Gaza Strip, following a U. S-brokered terminal operation in 2005. The rulin-Hamas party in Gaza had already sent out rejection to the notion , saying it would deal with such a force as an occupying power, once it is installed. The French PM believed that both the Israelis and Palestinians should. . .

Israel spy chief said to host U.K. counterpart for talks on Iran
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
Sir John Scarlett, the head of the British Intelligence Agency MI6 is expected to visit Israel for talks with his Israeli counterpart, Mossad chief Meir Dagan, The Sunday Times reported on Sunday. In a bid to step up what Israeli officials call "strategic dialogue," Dagan is expected to brief Scarlett on Israel’s latest information on the Iranian nuclear program, which was described as "a breakthrough." Jerusalem sources told the paper that Israel believes that Iran’s nuclear capacity is more advanced than Western intelligence estimates indicate. Mossad officials are hoping the unveiling of the new material would persuade the U. S. to amend itsassessment that Iran halted its nuclear weapons development program in 2003. Related articles: Major powers offer Iran fresh incentives to halt nuke programMofaz,. . .

News in Brief
Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
Sir John Scarlett, the head of the British Intelligence Agency MI6 is expected to visit Israel for talks with his Israeli counterpart, Mossad chief Meir Dagan, The Sunday Times reported on Sunday. In a bid to step up what Israeli officials call "strategic dialogue," Dagan is expected to brief Scarlett on Israel’s latest information on the Iranian nuclear program. Jerusalem sources told the paper Israel believes Iran’s nuclear capacity is more advanced than Western intelligence estimates indicate. Mossad officials are hoping the unveiling of the new material will persuade the U. S. to amend its assessment that Iran halted its nuclear weapons development program in 2003. (Haaretz Staff) A Palestinian militant was killed yesterday during an Israel Defense Forces strike in southern Gaza as militants continued to fire Qassam rockets at Israeli targets.

VIDEO - Soldiers share moral dilemmas they face at checkpoints
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for May 1, 2008. Some of the soldiers who staff the Eliyahu Checkpoint in the northern Western Bank are highly sensitive to the moral dilemmas accompanying their job description. The soldiers in the Taoz Battallion of the Military Police are on their on their feet, often in the sun, 12 hours a day. But that isn’t the hardest part. [end]

Israeli forces demolish illegally-built settler synagogue in Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 5/4/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Israeli military forces demolished a synagogue illegally set up by Jewish settlers in the old city of Hebron, Israeli media reported. The Hazon David synagogue was first built seven years ago by right-wing Israeli settlers, and has been demolished by the Israeli military numerous times. The structure was made of stones, tree branches, and plywood. Separately, Israeli settlers demolished two trailers of Beit Yatir Farm outpost, south of Hebron. The removal of the outpost was part of a deal struck between the Yesha settlers’ council and the Israeli Defense Ministry, in which some outposts will be evacuated voluntarily, and permits granted for further construction in other outposts, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported. The evacuated settlers are to be moved to other, more established settlements.

Settlers dismantle illegal outpost in southern Hebron Hills
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 5/4/2008
Settlers on Sunday demolished two trailers in the illegal outpost of Beit Yatir Farm South, south of Hebron, after Israeli Defense Forces troops and police demolished the nearby outpost of Hazon David overnight. This is the second time settlers evacuate outposts, in line with the agreement reached between Yesha Council and the Defense Ministry, according to which some outposts would be legalized in exchange for the voluntary evacuation of others. The dissident Ne’emaney Eretz Israel movement accused Yesha Council of "collaboration." "This is the present Yesha Council offers the government for Israel’s 60th anniversary," the movement said. Settlers vow to publicize photos of troops who razed Hebron synagogueThe settlers praying at Hazon David synagogue at the of the demolition vowed to post on the Internet the pictures of those who participated in it.

’We are living in a combat zone’
Kim Sengupta, The Independent 5/2/2008
The Qassam rocket had destroyed the bathroom and blown down part of the wall to the kitchen. Smoke and dust swirled in the shaft of sunlight coming through the 4ft wide gash in the ceiling as Oshri and Karmit Malka sat huddled contemplating what was left of their home. The Israeli town of Sderot, a mile from the Gaza strip, has been in the receiving end of 7,000 missiles and mortars in the past seven years, the most frequently attacked places in the country and held up as an example of Palestinian aggression. Apart from those killed and injured, hundreds more have been traumatised by the relentless routine of sirens blaring followed by explosions. The population, 24,000 seven years ago, is now 3,000 fewer, those who can get away have done so. Residents have started to stop celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel next week in protest against a government who they say have failed to protect them.

PFLP’s military wing announce projectile tally for April
Ma’an News Agency 5/2/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - The military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, claimed on Friday that they launched 122 projectiles and 76 mortar shells at Israeli sites in April. The Abu Ali Mustafa brigades claimed they were able to hit three Israeli soldiers, nine Israeli military tanks and detonate six explosive devices, as well as clashing numerous times with Israeli Forces during the month of April. [end]

This Week In Palestine - Week 18 2008
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 5/2/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || File 17. 3 MB || Time 19m 0s ||This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www. IMEMC. org, for April 26th through to May 2nd, 2008. U. S Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, stated this week that both Palestinians and Israelis should now set the borders of the Palestinian state, while Israeli army attacks in the Strip this week left 10 Palestinians killed. These stories and more, coming up, stay tuned. Nonviolent Resistance Let’s begin our weekly report with the nonviolent actions in the West Bank, IMEMC’s John Orwell with the details: Bil’in On Friday, dozens of villagers from Bil’in, located near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, conducted their weekly nonviolent protest against the illegal Israeli wall built on the village’s land.

Agha: IOF planning security belt on Gaza borders
Palestinian Information Center 5/4/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Mohammed Al-Agha, the minister of agriculture in the PA caretaker government, on Sunday charged the Israeli occupation forces with establishing a security belt on the eastern borders of Gaza with lands occupied in 1948. He said during a field visit to Abassan east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza, that the IOF scheme started with an isolation belt on the northern borders of the Strip and now was establishing a similar one two kilometers deep into Gazan lands on the eastern borders. The minister said that the IOF troops had already covered major strides in this plan, noting that the area east of Abassan had turned into a desert area while it was known for its greenery scenes. He charged the occupation forces with bulldozing the infrastructure in those areas and with uprooting thousands of fruitful trees in addition to destroying vast areas of cultivated lands and hothouses.

Gaza resident dies awaiting permission for cancer treatment
Report, PHR-Israel, Electronic Intifada 5/2/2008
Correction: Editor’s note: The following correction was issued by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) on 3 May 2005: "Due to mistaken information received at PHR-Israel, we announced on [1 May] that the cancer patient Mohammad al-Hurani had died of his brain tumor. An investigation we held yesterday revealed that the patient is alive and still waiting for urgent care in Israel." - Mohammed al-Hurani, a 33-year-old resident of Gaza, died 30 April 2008 of cancer while waiting for a reply from the Israel General Security Service (GSS) to a request from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel). Al-Hurani was diagnosed in February 2008 as suffering from a malign tumor in the brain. His condition caused severe disturbance of vision. In the past two weeks his condition deteriorated significantly and he began to suffer from uncontrollable fits and seizures in all parts of the body.

Palestinians protest exclusion as government moots minimum wage
Report, Electronic Lebanon, Electronic Intifada 5/2/2008
BEIRUT, 1 May (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 marginalized in the labour market. 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. Unemployment is rife, particularly inside the dozen refugee camps which are home to just over half the country’s 400,000 Palestinian refugees. In Ein al-Hilwe, the largest and most dangerous camp, leaders of factions estimate unemployment at 70 percent.

Obama: U.S. would defend Israel in attack, ’nuclear or otherwise’
Reuters, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
U. S. Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Sunday night that the United States would defend Israel after any attack, "nuclear or otherwise. " Obama accused rival Hillary Clinton of saber rattling toward Iran by threatening last week to "totally obliterate" the country if it attacked Israel. " I think it’s language that’s reflective of George Bush," Obama said. " We have had a foreign policy of bluster and saber rattling. " It is important that we use language that sends a signal to the world community that we’re shifting from the sort of cowboy diplomacy, or lack of diplomacy, that we’ve seen out of George Bush," the Illinois senator said on NBC’s "Meet the Press. " Obama and Clinton sat for simultaneous TV interviews on different networks two days before primary contests in North Carolina and Indiana, the latest. . .

Hamas: The Copenhagen conference is a message to Abbas
Palestinian Information Center 5/4/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement stated that the sixth Palestinians in Europe conference held in Copenhagen is a message to PA chief Mahmoud Abbas that no one has the right to waive the right of return and the Palestinian refugees are determined to return to their homes, highlighting that the frivolous negotiations with Israel can never abrogate this right. Ismail Radwan, a prominent Hamas leader, pointed out that Hamas welcomes the call of Sheikh Ra’ed Salah for starting unconditional inter-Palestinian dialog and stopping useless negotiations in order to unite the ranks against the Israeli aggression.   Radwan explained that the reason for the failure of many initiatives calling for initiating internal dialog is that the PA chief  cannot open national dialog without taking permission from Israel and US, noting that the problem lies mainly in the interference of the American administration in the Palestinian internal affairs.

Hamas: Rice’s press conference points to collapse in peace talks
Palestinian Information Center 5/4/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Sunday said that American secretary of state Condoleezza Rice’s statement at the press conference in Ramallah earlier today indicated that the peace process was "dead". Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said in a press statement that Rice did not have anything new to add and only generalized in her statements and even evaded reporters’ questions on the continued presence of Israeli barriers and settlement activity in the West Bank. Rice’s statement that it was about time to establish a Palestinian state was in continuation of the policy of deception and hollow slogans belied by facts on the ground, he added. He described such a situation as "normal" in the light of the lack of will on the part of the American administration to pressure the Hebrew state. Rice’s statements also indicate that the American role in the region is of "security. . .

Agha calls on Cairo to supply Gaza with fuel through Rafah crossing
Palestinian Information Center 5/4/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Mohammed Ramadan Al-Agha, the minister of agriculture in the PA caretaker government in Gaza, has called on the Egyptian government to open the Rafah border terminal and to supply Gaza with fuel especially gas. Agha in a statement on Saturday said that Egyptian gas should be supplied to Gaza instead of Israel. The minister said that he held many contacts with Arab energy ministers on providing Gaza with fuel, and pointed out that the most affected sectors, due to the fuel shortage, were those of agriculture and fishing. [end]

Egypt Brings Gaza-Truce Offer to Israel
Media Line Staff, MIFTAH 5/3/2008
Egyptian Intelligence Chief ‘Umar Suleiman is arriving in Israel soon to hear Israel’s official response to Egypt’s cease-fire proposal for Gaza. Cairo wants Israel to accept a deal that was agreed upon by 12 Palestinian factions, including Hamas. Israel is being cautious about its response to the truce idea. Jerusalem is concerned that Hamas will exploit this truce to regroup and rearm, in preparation for the next round of conflict. Israeli security experts are proposing the government conditions any acceptance to the truce on a deal to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Shalit was captured by three Palestinian armed groups on the Gaza border nearly two years ago and is believed to be held in the Gaza Strip. Under the proposed agreement, Palestinians are offering calm in the Gaza Strip in exchange for the opening of the crossings in the Gaza Strip.

Sheikh Salah: The right of return is the core of the Palestinian cause
Palestinian Information Center 5/3/2008
COPENHAGEN, (PIC)-- Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement in the Palestinian lands occupied in 1948, on Saturday told the sixth Palestinians in Europe conference held in the Danish capital, Copenhagen, that the right of return is the core of the Palestinian cause. Sheikh Salah underlined that the natural place of any talk about compensations, whatever the alternatives could be to the right of return, is in the trash can. The Palestinian leader called on premier Ismail Haneyya and PA chief Mahmoud Abbas to start an independent free Palestinian dialog for the sake of uniting the Palestinian house until the liberation of the whole Palestinian lands and the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. For his part, Salim Al-Hoss, the former Lebanese premier, opined that the right of return summarizes the whole Palestinian cause and ignoring or. . .

Jewish Agency plans large-scale cutbacks
Daphna Berman, Ha’aretz 5/2/2008
The Jewish Agency will soon be initiating a large-scale cutback in a move that would significantly reduce staff size, chairman Zeev Bielski warned this week. Though he would not specify the number of intended job losses at the organization, he said the cutbacks in the coming weeks would "touch every department in the Jewish Agency." But he rejected claims the Jewish Agency is on the decline and insisted it remains as relevant as in the years after the establishment of the State, saying the "reduction in manpower" is simply the result of the dollar’s decline." The Jewish Agency’s main problem right now is the dollar," he said in a wide-ranging interview this week ahead of Israel’s 60th anniversary celebration." All of our income is in dollars and almost 100 percent of our expenses are in shekels, Euros and rubles.

Swiss FM disappointed her gov’t not invited to Israel’s anniversary
Haaretz Service and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has expressed disappointment that no member of her country’s government is invited to attend the celebration of Israel’s 60th anniversary, according to a Swiss newspaper. Switzerland will be represented at the festivities through its ambassador in Tel Aviv, she told the weekly Sonntag, published Sunday." But, personally, I am disappointed that our country was not invited at government level," she was quoted as saying. Officials at the Israeli Embassy in the Swiss capital, Bern, and at the United Nations in Geneva could not be reached for comment. President Shimon Peres has invited heads of state, ministers, scientists, philosophers and artists for a three-day conference to mark Israel’s 60th birthday this month.

Olmert vows to ride out latest scandal
Marius Schattner, Daily Star 5/5/2008
Agence France Presse - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is putting a brave face on an increasingly precarious position as he is hounded by allegations of corruption and his ruling coalition shrinks." This could be the end" for Olmert, wrote the daily Maariv as Israel prepared to mark its 60th anniversary and Washington pushes for a Middle East peace deal before President George W. Bush leaves office. Fraud squad officers grilled Olmert on Friday in latest corruption scandal - his fifth - to dog the premier since he took office in 2006. The new allegations - which the mass-circulation Yediot Ahronot reported concerned kickbacks paid by a US businessman before Olmert assumed office - could be the last straw, the daily said. Corruption charges "have already robbed the prime minister of the moral authority and respect that should be associated with his office," Yediot said.

PM’s associates fear turmoil after gag order is lifted
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
"It’s something like the investigation against Omri Sharon and the Likud primary," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s people told party members regarding the ongoing investigation against him that is being kept under wraps by a court-imposed gag order. Olmert and his people know that as long as the gag order over the affair is in place, they will be left alone by Kadima party members and other parties in the shrinking coalition, but once it is lifted, events may get out of their control. Meanwhile, Kadima members are careful to maintain respect for Olmert who has shown surprising resilience. Just a year ago, Olmert’s party threatened to impeach him in the wake of the Winograd war probe findings, but his position within the party is now sound. Olmert, who has often been prematurely eulogized in the past, has not been attacked from within.

PA to deploy nearly 500 armed police around Jenin
Avi Issacharoff and Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
Nearly 500 Palestinian police officers were deployed to Jenin and its environs Saturday, where they will begin a major security operation Sunday code named "Smile and Hope." The police, from Hebron, Jericho and Ramallah, will join the 150 officers routinely stationed in the Jenin area. The deployment was done with full coordination with the Israel Defense Forces, and as a result of an agreement reached between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Of the officers deployed, 325 are members of the Presidential Guard of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who have recently completed their training in Jordan and were based in Ramallah. Another 100 are members of the National Security organization, and are based in Jericho.

Hamas use police cars for taxi service in gas-strapped Gaza
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 5/4/2008
Hamas militants in Gaza group are using the group’s police cars to ferry around Palestinians because of severe fuel shortages in the area. The blue police cars are marked with orange stickers that read "we are ready to drive you for free." Transportation has been paralyzed throughout Gaza since Israel restricted gasoline and diesel supplies last month. Gazans now walk, ride bicycles or use vegetable oil in their cars to get around. Israel has steadily limited fuel supplies to Gaza to pressure Palestinian militants to halt their rocket barrages on neighboring Israeli communities. But it’s widely believed that Hamas has hoarded its own fuel supplies. Some Gaza residents interviewed Sunday said they think the Hamas police taxis on Sunday were a publicity stunt.

Palestinian force deployed in Jenin
Al Jazeera 5/3/2008
A 500-strong force made up of Palestinian national security forces and presidential guards has begun deploying in the West Bank city of Jenin for a law-and-order campaign. Jeeps and buses carrying the men left other West Bank cities on Saturday for Jenin in co-ordination with Israel as part of a campaign called Operation Smile and Hope. The deployment is meant to show the Palestinian Authority (PA) is laying the ground for statehood. Another 150 men already in Jenin will also take part in the campaign. Jenin is the second city after Nablus in the West Bank where freshly trained PA security personnel have been deployed. Despite an increase in their numbers in Nablus, Israeli troops regularly conduct security raids there.

Palestinian forces en route to Jenin for large-scale security op
Avi Issacharoff, and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 5/4/2008
Hundreds of Palestinian police are heading to the former militant stronghold of Jenin to deploy there as part of the Palestinian government’s security plan. The government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is gradually trying to reassert control in West Bank towns. Earlier this year, Palestinian forces deployed in the city of Nablus. Some 480 Palestinian police prepared to deploy in Jenin on Saturday. Their commander Suleiman Amran says it’s an important day for the town and that there’s "no chance for troublemakers to return to Jenin." A senior Palestinian official said the operation will encompass close to 50 villages, and is scheduled to last three months. The forces, some of whom received U. S. -funded training in Jordan, will focus on capturing criminals, primarily car thieves.

Rival Hamas and Fatah television directors hold dialogue
Ma’an News Agency 5/3/2008
Bethlehem – Maan – The directors of rival Hamas- and Fatah-affiliated television networks held a public dialogue for the first time in months at a conference for journalists sponsored by the Ameen Netork on Friday. Bassem Abu Summayya, the chief of Television and Radio for Fatah-allied Palestine TV spoke at the conference in Jericho, while Fathi Hammad, the director of Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV appeared via videoconference from Gaza. Dr. Essmat Abdul Khaleq lay the grounds for the dialogue, saying that the conversation was aimed at strengthening professional and humanitarian values. The journalists were also shown film clips of some of the most venomous and degrading material aired on both stations. Since fighting between Hamas and Fatah turned violent last year, both sides have used their media to demonize the other.

Fayyad visits Jenin one day after security deployment
Ma’an News Agency 5/4/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad met with the leaders of the Palestinian security services in the Jenin area of the northern West Bank a day after Israel allowed 600 Palestinian security officers renter JeninFayyad described Saturday’s deployment in Jenin as a significant step towards imposing law and order, and a major pillar of his security plan." Priority should be given to restoration of the feelings of being secure among Palestinian citizens," Fayyad explained. The Prime Minister said he felt encouraged by the warm welcome Palestinian residents of Jenin gave the newly-deployed forces. He said the measure of success of the security drive would be the degree of order and mutual respect achieved between residents and the security services in addition to "firmness in implementing law indiscriminately."

Olmert cancels holiday interviews
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
Despite attempts yesterday by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to convey a sense of business as usual, the cancellation of holiday interviews he was to give to a number of media outlets transmitted the opposite message. Olmert had already given holiday interviews to the three major newspapers before Passover, focusing on diplomatic negotiations and his vision for peace. He was preparing to give similar interviews in the context of his improved showing in the polls over the past few weeks and the feeling that "the worst was over." However, his bureau said it had been decided to cancel the interviews because reporters could not be expected not to ask Olmert about the investigation against him, which the prime minister could not answer due to the court-imposed gag order on the probe. Reading from a prepared statement, Olmert brought up the investigation at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

Olmert used PMO to further wife’s art career
Na''ama Lanski and Gidi Weitz, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert used his bureau to promote the artistic career of his wife Aliza, a Haaretz report reveals. The report also says that when the couple were in New York for a private art exhibit by Olmert, their stay at a luxury hotel was paid for by an American association. In the summer of 2005, Olmert presented an exhibition in New York to which dozens of wealthy and influential people were invited. The invitations were allegedly issued by Rachael Risby Raz, the foreign affairs advisor in Olmert’s bureau when he was minister of industry, trade and labor. Invitations for a dinner were printed on official ministry stationary. The Olmerts stayed at the exclusive Peninsula Hotel in a $2,500-a-night suite, for only $500 a night on the say-so of the hotel chain’s Jewish billionaire owner Michael Kadoorie. A pro-Israel group headed by a former Likud activist, Sharon Tzur, paid for the room.

Sources: Olmert probe clear-cut; decision soon on indictment
Jonathan Lis and Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
Sources involved in the police investigation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the details of which cannot be published due to a gag order, said yesterday it would be clear within a few days whether or not Olmert would be indicted on unspecified charges." Within days, it will be possible to determine whether it will be possible to file an indictment in the case against the prime minister," one of the sources said." This is a quick investigation, relatively simple, and so far a large and significant amount of material has been gathered." Olmert was questioned Friday by police investigators in a case that sources described as "very serious." The court has slapped a gag order on the case, preventing the publication of any of the allegations against the prime minister, who is facing the fifth police investigation in the past two years.

Hirchson faces embezzlement charges, won’t request immunity
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 5/4/2008
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has ruled that former finance minister Abraham Hirchson will be charged with embezzling millions of shekels in addition to a string of other crimes, according to the letter of indictment submitted on Sunday. Hirchson was given 30 days to appeal the charges and request that the Knesset declare him immune from prosecution, but his public relations adviser said late Sunday that the former minister had decided against that course of action. Hirchson will be charged with breach of trust, aggravated fraud, theft, forgery of corporate documents and money laundering. The indictment charges that when Hirchson headed the National Workers’ Organization, a labor union he led from 1998-2005, he contacted a worker named Ovadia Cohen for the purpose of stealing large sums from the organization.

Popular committee: $100,000 is the daily losses of fishing industry
Palestinian Information Center 5/4/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The popular committee against the siege stated Sunday that preliminary reports indicate that the daily losses of fishing industry in the Gaza Strip is estimated at $70,000  in addition to $30,000 daily losses as a result of the inability of fishermen to export their fish to markets outside Gaza. In a press conference held in the Deir Al-Balah harbor, Rami Abdo, the spokesman for the committee, added that the total losses since start of the Israeli siege until today amounted to more than $27,000,000. The spokesman elaborated that 70,000 people in Gaza depend on the fishing craft and 3,500 fishermen make their living from this profession, 3,000 of them became unemployed. For his part, Nizar Ayyash, the dean of Palestinian fishermen, underlined that the Israeli occupation targets the Palestinian fishermen through preventing them from fishing in places rich in fish,. . .

Price of fresh produce rises by 6.7 percent in first 3 months of 2008
Amiram Cohen, Bar Hion, Adi Daveret, and Ophir Bar-Zohar, Ha’aretz 5/3/2008
The price of fresh produce has risen 6. 7 percent, a 67-fold increase compared to the rise in the consumer price index (0. 1 percent), in the first three months of this year, according to figures released Friday by the Central Bureau of Statistics. The produce index measures changes in the price of bare necessities, including vegetables, fruit, milk and dairy products, eggs, chicken and cattle meat products, fish, honey, and dried fruit. These products are essential ingredients of every Israeli family’s food allotments for the week, and a considerable chunk of income is spent by lower and middle-class families towards the products. One of the factors driving the rise in prices is the sharp increase - in the dozens, and in some case, hundreds, of percentage points - in the price of most vegetables and some fruit as well as the unusual. . .

27,000 square meter Palestinian flag to be raised in Damascus
Ma’an News Agency 5/4/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A group of Palestinian and Syrian youth are preparing to unfurl the largest Palestinian flag in history in Damascus to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe) of the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes by Jewish military forces in 1948. Adnan Abu Nasser, head of the Palestinian friendship committee in Syria told Iranian news agency Arna on Saturday that the flag would be 232 by 117 meters, or a total area of 27,000 square meters. Each square meter stands for one of the 27,000 square kilometers of historic Palestine. The United Nations estimates that 726,000, or 75% of the Arab population of Palestine, became refugees in 1948.

Al-Jazeera man freed after more than six years at Guantanamo
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/3/2008
KHARTOUM: A Sudanese cameraman with the Arab satellite news channel Al-Jazeera on Friday accused US authorities of insulting Islamic symbols on his return home after six years of detention at Guantanamo Bay. There were "many violations - [we were] deprived from praying and there were. . . deliberate insults" the Koran at the US military prison in Guantanamo, Sami al-Haj said from his hospital bed in Khartoum. Haj, whose overnight homecoming was broadcast live on Al-Jazeera, was taken from the US Air Force aircraft that flew him into the Sudanese capital with two other Sudanese former Guantanamo inmates to a hospital for medical checks. The plane landed at a state security terminal in Khartoum, where Haj was greeted by his family before being whisked away to the hospital, an AFP photographer said. Haj was detained by the Pakistani Army on the Afghan border in December 2001 while. . .

’No evidence’ Iran backs militias - Baghdad
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/5/2008
BAGHDAD: Iraq said on Sunday it has no evidence that Iran was supplying militias engaged in fierce street fighting with security forces in Baghdad. Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said there was no "hard evidence" of involvement by the neighboring Shiite government of Iran in backing Shiite militiamen in the embattled country. Asked about US reports that weapons captured from Shiite fighters bore 2008 markings suggesting Iranian involvement, Dabbagh said: "We don’t have that kind of evidence. . . If there is hard evidence we will defend the country." Tehran strongly opposes the US military presence in Iraq, while Washington has repeatedly accused Iranian groups of arming and training Shiite militia groups in its neighbor. Iran, whose ties with Washington have been severed since 1980, strongly denies the allegations.

Threat of cholera returns to Iraqi northern region
Middle East Online 5/2/2008
A rash of patients hospitalised with diarrhoea and vomiting in northern Iraq has raised fears of a cholera outbreak across the region. In April, the main hospital in Sulaimaniyah received an average of 25 patients per day with such symptoms – which are very similar to those associated with cholera. While no cases of the disease have been confirmed, officials are worried. "We have serious fears of a cholera outbreak," said Ziryan Osman, Kurdistan Regional Government, KRG, health minister. According to statistics from Sulaimaniyah general hospital, around 400 patients were admitted with diarrhoea and vomiting in April – a big leap from the 260 cases in March. Cholera is a potentially deadly water-borne illness that causes severe diarrhoea and dehydration. Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to infection.

Derelict medical district is sad symptom of Baghdad’s decline
Bryan Pearson, Daily Star 5/5/2008
Agence France Presse - BAGHDAD: Its traditional wooden-balconied Shanasheel houses in ruins, other buildings crumbling and muddied streets reeking of rubbish, central Baghdad’s Al-Batawin neighborhood is an abject picture of just how far the rot has set in to the once-proud Iraqi capital. Before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Al-Batawin’s main thoroughfare, Al-Sadun Street, bustled with restaurants, hotels, upmarket stores and - most famously - medical centers. Today just a scattering of businesses still bother to open their doors, residential blocks stand empty, and those buildings that are occupied have few tenants willing to risk living above the first floor. Electricity is supplied only sporadically and water in a trickle, and there are no other services to speak of, so it makes no sense to live too far from the ground in what is now a rapidly eroding urban wasteland.

Hezbollah says ’proud’ to be on the U.S. terrorist list
DPA, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
The Iranian-backed Lebanon-based guerilla movement Hezbollah said on Friday it prides itself on appearing on the United States’ terrorist list." The U. S. administration has no right to give statements on nationalism and terrorism when it is making the peoples of the world, including the American people, pay the price for its wars and bloody policies," said a statement by Hezbollah. Hezbollah’s remarks came in response to the report released earlier this week by the U. S. State Department which accused Iran of providing aid to Palestinian "terrorist" groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, "Iraq-based militants," and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. The statement criticized Washington for its Lebanon policy and accused the U. S. of "provoking its allies in Lebanon against fellow citizens who support the resistance and the opposition.

Report: ’Hezbollah can intercept calls in Lebanon thanks to Iran’
Yoav Stern and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
An official Lebanese government report reveals that Iran is setting up an illegal telecommunication network across Lebanon, capable of intercepting all telephone conversations in the country, the Saudi-owned daily al-Sharq al-Awsat reported Sunday. According to the report, Iran has set up this network to aid the Lebanon-based guerilla group Hezbollah. In an interview with al-Sharq al-Awsat, Lebanese Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh said that the "issue of communications has been under discussion for a long time, but we were waiting for them [Hezbollah] to respond to the security authorities who requested they stop all infringements." According to Hamadeh, the Lebanese cabinet is planning to discuss this Iranian network on Monday, and later bring the issue before the United Nations Security Council as well as the Arab League, al-Awsat reported.


Articles


Three Women from Haifa
Aaron Lakoff, International Middle East Media Center News 5/4/2008
      Palestinian women speak on suffering, displacement, and solutions.
     Sitting in the north of what is now called Israel, on the Mediterranean Sea, Haifa is a tragically beautiful city. Cascading hills and a picture-perfect coast are juxtaposed with its history of violence and dispossession.
     Haifa was once a thriving Palestinian city. In 1945, the Palestinian population of Haifa was over 85 thousand. On April 21, 1948, the Carmeli brigade of the Haganah (the Zionist armed forces) began their attack on Haifa, under what they called the Misbarayim, or scissors, plan. The strategy was to attack the Palestinian residents of Haifa from three sides, leaving only one side open for people to flee. Today, there are only 25 500 Palestinian residents of Haifa, MAKING UP JUST 10% of the city’s population.
     Israel often tries to promote an image of Haifa as a city of coexistence – a place where Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Israelis live tolerantly side by side. However, many Palestinian residents of the city, those who survived the 1948 war and managed to stay, tell a different story than the Israeli narrative. -- See also: Download or listen to these interviews and Radio Free Palestine at IMEMC

Sewage in the streets of Gaza and flowing into sea

United Nations / OCHA, Palestine News Network 5/2/2008
      The following is the full report issued just days ago by the United Nations’ OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) regarding sewage in the Gaza Strip due to the Israeli blockade.
     The bulk of the sewage being pumped out to the sea comes from Gaza City. Power is required to pump the Gaza City sewage up to the treatment plant which is located 36 metres higher than the city and its nine sewage pumping stations. Without power, sewage is likely to flood the streets if the station has no overflow capacity, which happened in the Zeitoun neighbourhood in Gaza City in January 2008.
     In addition to electricity, the CMWU relies on power supplying back-up generators to ensure the uninterrupted 14-day treatment process, and to operate its systems. It needs 100-150,000 litres of fuel per month to do this. During times of electricity cuts, CMWU’s fuel requirements increase to 250,000 litres per month.

Sanctions era under Saddam looks better in retrospect

Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail, Daily Star 5/5/2008
      Inter Press Service - FALLUJAH: Amid widespread unemployment and impoverishment, Iraqis now face a cutting down of their monthly food ration - much of it already eaten away by official corruption.
     Iraqis survived the sanctions after the first Gulf War (in 1990) with the support of rations through the Public Distribution System (PDS). The aid was set up in 1995 as part of the UN’s "oil-for-food" program.
     The sanctions were devastating nevertheless. Former UN program head Hans von Sponeck said in 2001 that the sanctions amounted to "a tightening of the rope around the neck of the average Iraqi citizen." Von Sponeck said the sanctions were causing the death of 150 Iraqi children a day. Denis Halliday, former UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq who quit his post in protest against the sanctions, told IPS they had proved "genocidal" for Iraqis.
     During more than five years of US occupation, the situation has become even worse. The rationing system has been crumbling under poor management and corruption. From the beginning of this year, the rations delivered were reduced from 10 items to five.

Journalists in the Line of Fire

Mel Frykberg, MIFTAH 5/3/2008
      While Palestinian journalists staged a sit-in in Gaza city to protest the killing of 23-year-old Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana and Lebanese journalists protested the killing in Beirut, Reuters Editor-in-Chief David Schlesinger called for an investigation.
     Shana was the latest victim of nine journalists killed by the Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza in the last decade. The cameraman was killed several weeks ago in central Gaza as he filmed Israeli forces exchanging fire with Palestinian gunmen.
     The Middle East Times recently visited the site where Shana had been filming which was at least several hundred meters away from where the fighting was taking place. A number of children walking past were also killed when a Merkava tank shell, filled with flechettes or darts, hit them.
     Shana’s vehicle was clearly marked with TV and media inscriptions, visible from a distance and from the air. This was not the first time he had been the target of Israeli soldiers. In 2006 he was wounded when a car in which he was traveling, marked as belonging to a media organization, was attacked by an Israeli plane.

Message to the US Media

Jenka Soderberg, International Middle East Media Center News 5/3/2008
      If four Israeli children, ranging from one year old to six years old, were killed by a Palestinian bombing, it would likely make the front page of most major US newspapers. But four Palestinian children, killed in their home by an Israeli tank shell on April 28th, will probably not even make the back pages of the paper, let alone the front.
     Why is this? Are their lives any less valuable? Are the 986 Palestinian children who have been killed since 2000 any less important than the 119 Israeli children who have been killed in that same time period? It seems that the editors of the major US papers think so -- according to a study by If Americans Knew, the major media in the US reported on 100% of Israeli children’s deaths, and just 18% of Palestinian children’s deaths in the time period studied.

Our Freedom on World Press Freedom Day

Fadi Abu Sa''ada, Palestine News Network 5/2/2008
      I wonder when we will get our freedom? While we are passing the 3rd of May of each year, World Press Freedom Day, I ask which freedom we are obtaining as our words are no longer audible even in Palestine.
     And who wants to hear us while Palestine is divided? Which freedom are we looking for when the stick has become the response to those who seek to express themselves freely?
     Despite it all there is a presence of hope in reaching the required freedom in Palestine through media initiatives to launch a public freedoms campaign in Palestine. This is beginning with a media truce between Fateh and Hamas. It is extended to allow Hamas newspapers and television stations to work in the West Bank, same for Palestine Television in Gaza, and also through media conferences such as the one held in Jericho by Amin Media Network.

The attack on Jimmy Carter

Bill Fletcher, Jr, Electronic Intifada 5/4/2008
      Former US President James (Jimmy) Carter has the ability to appear almost out of thin air, landing in the midst of some of the most complex international crises. He has done it again, this time in going to meet with the Palestinian resistance group, Hamas. For reaching out to this significant section of the Palestinian movement, he is being demonized by both the Bush administration and the administration of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
     Former President Carter has crossed a line that George W. Bush and his Israeli allies have set, aimed at isolating and destroying Hamas. Despite the fact that Hamas won internationally-recognized elections in Palestine in 2006, Bush and the Israelis have been doing all they can to void the elections, isolate Hamas and destroy them. In fact, a blockbuster article in Vanity Fair revealed details of a plan hatched by the Bush administration along with an anti-Hamas Palestinian leader to carry out a coup against Hamas. The plot failed, leading to a Hamas preemptive strike against the forces of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, with the result being a Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip.

To Trust the US is to Take a Big Risk

George S. Hishmeh, MIFTAH 5/3/2008
      Frankly, so far nothing has been achieved." This was the startling yet straightforward statement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after his failure in Washington last week to have the US President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice exercise some arms-twisting in the stalled Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.
     Abbas, who is not known to be one who would spill the beans after putting all his eggs in the American basket, was particularly disappointed in a rare press interview (with the Associated Press) that the US has not exerted more pressure on Israel to stop expanding its illegal colonies, even those that Israeli leaders had agreed to dismantle as a first step in implementing the so-called roadmap.
     "This is the biggest blight that stands as a big rock in the path of negotiations," the Palestinian leader said. Without hiding his angry tone, he pointed out that "none of (the American leaders) talks about the 1967 border" which Israel crossed more than 60 years ago when it occupied the remaining Palestinian territories, known as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and are only 22 per cent of Palestine.

Rice is Right: Palestinian-Israeli Peace Talks are Losing Credibility

The Daily Star - Editorial, MIFTAH 5/3/2008
      US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice unwittingly demonstrated much of what ails the Palestinian-Israeli peace process on Tuesday. In a speech to the American Jewish Committee in Washington, she proffered a laundry list of reasons why time is running out for a two-state solution - and each of them is a direct result of failed US policy.
     Perhaps the most obvious example of this was her contention that Hamas and the Iranian support it enjoys are potentially insurmountable obstacles to peace. For all its controversial activities and positions, the same group has repeatedly issued offers of a cease-fire which Israel has summarily rejected, or tacitly accepted and then undermined via assassination and other forms of aggression. It remains to be seen whether the latest overture, brokered by Egypt and also endorsed by several other Palestinian resistance organizations, will be brushed aside or violated, but the Israelis’ track record on this score is not encouraging.

The struggle for Syria

Hassan Nafaa, Al-Ahram Weekly 5/1/2008
      Israel’s offer to return the Golan is a ruse betraying ulterior agendas.
     The Struggle for Syria is the title of Patrick Seale’s 1965 book in which he reviews internal and external Syrian developments from 1946 up to its merger union with Egypt that gave birth to the United Arab Republic on 22 February 1958. In retrospect, the book’s accounting of Syria’s regional situation and the modalities of its interaction with the surrounding international environment turned out to be nothing short of prophetic.
     The struggle for Syria, which started since World War II, has not ended. A pattern seems to exist in which Syria acts as the region’s tipping point. At crucial moments, Syria turns out to be in a position to call the shots and influence the direction and speed of events in the region. Those crucial moments have been recurring frequently of late. Even before the US invaded and occupied Iraq in 2003, Syria managed to become a main player amid power relations that evolved in the region following the Camp David Accords, the Iranian Revolution, and the Iran-Iraq war.

Damascus ascendant

Mustafa El-Labbad, Al-Ahram Weekly 5/1/2008
      Turkish approaches to Damascus confirm that diplomatically Syria is the lynchpin of the region.
     Syria once more took centre stage in regional events. A few days ago, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan brought to Damascus an Israeli offer to pull out of the Golan Heights in return for a peace treaty. His mission, following months of mediation, marked Turkey’s most remarkable foray into the Arab-Israeli conflict to date. Its outcome could be wide-ranging.
     When Erdogan went to Damascus he had more than mediation on his mind. For sometime now, Turkey and Iran have been seeking a major role in the region, one matching at least that of Israel. At a time when the Arabs have failed to offer anything new on the regional scene, other regional powers have decided to try their hand at regional power brokering.
     Since the 1950s, three Arab countries courted Syria: Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Egypt took Syria into a merger union. Saudi Arabia broke that merger. And Iraq’s Baathists briefly courted the Syrians before going off on their own pursuits.

Life inside Gaza City

Kim Sengupta, The Independent 5/2/2008
      The home where Miyasar Abu Muatak died with her children is now just a pile of rubble. A mourning tent has been put up outside with photographs of the family. A steady stream of relatives, friends and neighbours come in to express their condolences.
     The home where Miyasar Abu Muatak died with her children is now just a pile of rubble. A mourning tent has been put up outside with photographs of the family. A steady stream of relatives, friends and neighbours come in to express their condolences.
     Three year old Hanaa, Salah, four, Rudeynah, six and Musad, 18 months, were killed along with their mother during a firefight between Palestinian militants and Israeli forces, the cause of their death remains in dispute. Local residents say an Israeli aircraft fired two missiles, collapsing the house with the family inside. The Israeli military insisted that the deaths had been the result of a “secondary explosion” caused when weaponry carried by militants exploded.
     The children’s father, Ahmed Abu Muatak, was on his way to the market when he heard the sound of the explosion and ran back. “It was my house, and I knew that everyone was inside, no one had escaped. What a black day, they have killed my family,” he said weeping as a neighbour put a consoling arm around his shoulders.