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

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9 May 2008


Gaza raids follow Israeli death
Al Jazeera 5/9/2008
Israeli air raids on the Palestinian territory have killed three people after an Israeli farm worker died in a Palestinian rocket attack. The first Israeli air raid on Friday killed two Hamas security men in the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, according to a police spokesman and ambulance workers. A second Israeli air attack targeted a Hamas police base in the town of Khan Younis in the centre of the strip and killed one Palestinian, a source said, without specifying if the victim had been a Hamas members. Hamas claimed responsibility for the earlier rocket attack on Israel, which struck the Kfar Aza collective farm in the southern part of the country. Israeli ambulance workers said the civilian killed in the rocket attack was a middle-aged man. Three other people were wounded. Men belonging to the armed wing of Hamas regularly fire rockets and mortars into

Israeli settlers shot Palestinian in Ramallah, bled to death as ambluances not allowed access
Palestine News Network 5/8/2008
Ramallah / PNN -- Israeli settlers shot and killed a Palestinian man on Friday late afternoon. He was in northeastern Ramallah playing squash. As reported by Palestinian security sources, the young man, 20 year old Rashad Khater from the village of Ain Sinia, died at the hands of Israeli settlers who shot him while he was on one of the fields. Sources reported that the Israeli forces rushed to the scene and would not allow Palestinian ambulances to reach Khater, who bled to death on the ground. The Israelis contravened international law in this far too common an act of not allowing ambulances access to the dead and dying or injured. When Israeli forces left, the young man’s corpse was taken to the Ramallah Government Hospital. Israeli forces also arrested Palestinian citizen Khaled Fathi Annan, when he was near the area.

Lebanon opposition takes control of west Beirut
Middle East Online 5/8/2008
BEIRUT - Hezbollah forces seized control of west Beirut on Friday after a third day of battles with pro-government foes in the Lebanese capital pushed the nation dangerously close to all-out civil war. The sectarian fighting had eased by early afternoon as the army and police moved across areas now in the hands of Shiite opposition forces after routing militants loyal to the Western-backed government." There are no clashes anymore because no one is standing in the way of the opposition forces," a security official said on condition of anonymity. But as the guns fell largely silent, it was unclear what the immediate future would hold for Lebanon, amid fears the protracted political feud could plunge the nation back to the dark days of the 1975-1990 civil war. Earlier Friday, residents cowered inside as the rattle of gunfire and the thump of exploding rocket-propelled grenades. . .

PCHR: IOF Kill Mother in front of her Children inside their House in Khan Yunis
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, International Solidarity Movement 5/9/2008
Gaza Region - - PCHR strongly condemns the killing of a mother in front of her children yesterday, during an IOF incursion into New Abasan town, east of Khan YunisPCHR investigations indicate that at approximately 16:30 on Wednesday, 7 May, IOF troops raided the house of Majdi Abd El-Raziq El-Daghma during an incursion into New Abasan. The troops opened the outside metal door, then blew up the wooden interior door. The force of the blast killed 33 year old Wafa Shaker El-Daghma instantly. The IOF troops then stormed into the house and covered her body with a rug, having ascertained that she was dead. The troops then detained her 3 children, who had all witnessed the killing of their mother, in one of the rooms of the house. A soldier remained on guard at the entrance to the room. The children, who included a two year old, were confined inside the room for the next six and a half hours.

Gaza-Egypt border to open for three days-Hamas
Reuters Foundation, ReliefWeb 5/8/2008
GAZA, May 8 (Reuters) -The main border crossing between the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and Egypt will be opened for three days starting on Saturday under a deal between the Islamist group and Cairo, a Hamas official said on Thursday. The crossing at Rafah has been largely closed since early February when Egypt resealed the border after Hamas gunmen blasted it open in defiance of an Israeli-led blockade of the coastal enclave. With U. S. backing, Egypt has been trying to broker an unofficial truce between Israel and Hamas to stop violence that threatens to derail peace talks. That proposed deal calls for reopening Rafah under the control of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert launched U. S. -sponsored peace talks in November with the aim of reaching a deal on Palestinian statehood before U.

Calls for Olmert’s resignation mount amid corruption probe
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/10/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was facing mounting calls on Friday to resign over a criminal probe into allegations he took bribes from a millionaire US financier. Olmert has denied any wrongdoing but said he would quit if he is charged in a case that threatens to shake the political landscape at a crucial moment in Middle East peacemaking. Pressure on the 62-year-old premier mounted after a gag order over the case was lifted on Thursday. The timing was particularly embarrassing for Olmert, coming as Israel celebrated its 60th anniversary and a week before a scheduled visit by US President George W. Bush. Gideon Star, who heads the parliamentary group of the conservative opposition party Likud, said that "considering the seriousness of the suspicions that surround Olmert, he is no longer in a position to carry out his duties.

1 killed by mortar shell in western Negev kibbutz
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 5/10/2008
Two mortar shells fired by Palestinians from northern Gaza Strip land in Kibbutz Kfar Aza Friday evening, killing one man, 48, and injuring three others. Hamas claims responsibility for attack. Several hours later, IDF strikes in Gaza, reportedly killing two Hamas operatives - Jimmy Kdoshim, a 48-year-old father of three was killed in Kibbutz Kfar Aaza Friday evening after a mortar shell fired from Gaza hit his house in the kibbutz. Two mortars fired by Palestinian gunmen landed in the kibbutz, one fell close to the local community hall and the other landed on a house. Three people were injured in the attack. A soldier was moderately injured by shrapnel and evacuated by helicopter to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. Two other people sustained light injuries and several others suffered shock. House hit by mortar in Kfar Aza (Photo: Amir Cohen). . .

Israeli gunfire kills Palestinian teenager
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/10/2008
RAMALLAH: A Palestinian teenager was killed on Friday by Israeli gunfire near the Jewish settlement of Beit El in the occupied West Bank, a Palestinian ambulance driver who found the body told AFP. But Palestinian sources were unable to say under what circumstances Rashat Ali was killed. Israeli military radio reported that trekkers accompanied by Israeli soldiers in the area opened fire at two Palestinians who had shot at them. One of the Palestinians was killed and the other arrested, it said. Since Israel and the Palestinians relaunched peace talks in November at least 454 people have been killed, according to an AFP count. [end]

Sderot resident killed by a homemade shell
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 5/9/2008
Israeli sources reported that one residents of the Israeli Negev town of Sderot was killed on Friday evening by a homemade shell fired by Palestinian gunmen. The Al Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for the attack. Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that the Israeli resident lived in Aza town. Another Israeli was moderately wounded and two other suffered mild injuries. It its report, Haaretz said that a radio controlled by Hamas movement in Gaza said that the movement was responsible for the attack but the Al Quds Brigades of the Islamic Jihad issued a press released claiming responsibility. Israeli government spokesperson, David Baker, said that Hamas movement is responsible for any attack from the Gaza Strip "as the movement is clearly in control of the area and is responsible for all hostile fire into Israel", Haaretz quoted Baker stating.

Settlers say killed Palestinian near Ramallah
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 5/9/2008
Israeli hikers claimed two Palestinians opened fire at them north of Ramallah, say they fired back, killing one of the shooters. IDF investigating incident. Palestinians: Man was a hunter - One Palestinian was killed and another was arrested following a gunfight with two settlers north of Ramallah Friday afternoon. The settlers claimed that the two Palestinians opened fire at them while they were hiking in the area, and that they fired back in response. According to the settlers, the Palestinians were found to be in the possession of a shotgun. There were no injuries among the settlers. The IDF is investigating the incident. At about 4:00 pm, a group of Israelis who went for a hike north of Ramallah reported being shot at by Palestinians. They also said they killed one of the shooters.

Dozens of settlers return to evacuated settlement in northern West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 5/9/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Israeli sources said that dozens of settlers returned to the evacuated Israeli settlement of Sanur, in the northern West Bank on Friday morning, saying they were determined to rebuild the settlement. The Israeli sources added that half of the Israeli settlers who attended were former residents of the evacuated settlement. [end]

Police evacuate rightists trying to rebuild W. Bank settlement
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 5/9/2008
Some 100 settlers on late Thursday infiltrated the ruins of the evacuated West Bank settlement of Sa-Nur, in a stated attempt to rebuild it. Protesters were evacuated by security forces shortly after they entered. This was the first time that settlers have staged such a move at Sa-Nur since Israel’s 2005 pullout from the Gaza Strip and part of the northern West Bank, in which the settlement was evacuated. The Israel Defense Forces was preparing to evacuate the group, who belonged to an organization called "Homesh - the beginning." Over the past year, Homesh - the beginning activists have mounted repeated bids to resettle Homesh, another settlement also evacuated in the 2005 pullout, which was titled the "Disengagement." A large event was held at the site on Independence Day within the framework of these attempts, in which some 10,000 people took part.

Palestinian dies of wounds sustained in Israeli attack on Wednesday
Ma’an News Agency 5/9/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - A Palestinian man died on Friday morning after being injured in an Israeli attack in Khaza’a, east of Khan Yunis, on Wednesday. Palestinian sources told Maan that 19-year-old Jamil Abu ’Anza died from the serious injuries he sustained in the attack. Ambulances found the body of 33-year-old Wafa’ Shaker Ad-Doghma inside her house in ’Abasan, east of Khan Yunis, immediately after Israeli forces withdrew from the area late on Wednesday. This brings the total number of dead in the Israeli incursion into ’Abasan to three. [end]

Rally and demonstration to mark 60 years of Palestinian Nakba
Palestinian Information Center 5/9/2008
LONDON, (PIC)-- A number of pro-Palestinian organisations have called for a demonstration and rally on Saturday 10th May in central London to mark the 60th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe). Thousands of demonstrators are expected to participate in the demonstration that will start at 1:00 pm at Temple station with a rally in Trafalgar Square from 3. 00pmParticipants will call for freeing Palestine, ending the siege on Gaza, ending the Israeli occupation and the right of return of Palestinian refugees after 60 years of dispossession. In 1948 750,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled their homes, in an orchestrated ethnic cleansing planned well in advance by the Zionist leadership. (Their military "˜Plan Dalet’ makes it clear that force was to be used to remove as many Palestinians as possible, destroy the villages and take over the towns.

IMEMC: Hundreds mark the 60th Nakba by carrying the largest key in the world
Ghassan Bannoura, International Solidarity Movement 5/9/2008
Bethlehem Region - 1948 Palestine - At least 700 Palestinians from the southern West Bank district marched on Thursday (8th May) side by side next to the largest key in the world to mark the 60th anniversary of the Nakba. photo by IMEMC’s Ghassan BannouraToday’s event, which was organized by the Palestinian Committee for commemorating the 60th Nakba year, started at around midday from the Duhyisha Refugee camp located in the southern part of Bethlehem. The event started as a truck arrived with the largest key in the world, and then people followed all the way to Al Azah refugee camp then to Ayidah refugee camp were the key was installed on a concert gate. The key represents symbolize the right of retune to the Palestinian refugees. Speeches were delivered as the key was installed on top of the gate.

Commemorating the Nakba: al-‘Awda Camp
Stop The Wall 5/8/2008
The al-‘Awda Camp was inaugurated on Thursday in Ramallah. The camp is a main feature in this week’s Nakba commemoration and will serve as a central site for daily cultural and educational events. The camp, which was open from noon until midnight, attracted a large number of Palestinians as well as considerable press attention. A number of schools in Ramallah, al-Bireh and the surrounding refugee camps closed during the early afternoon so as to allow their students to be present at the proceedings. Located in a tree-filled lot near the Moqata, al-‘Awda Camp is modelled after a 1948 refugee camp. On the covering attached to the fences surrounding the area are printed the names of the towns and villages depopulated during the Palestinian Nakba. The white canvas tents inside serve as meeting places and display areas.

Samr Al Bakar at nonviolent demonstration in Al Khader: the masses will not be frightened
Najib Farrag, Palestine News Network 5/8/2008
Bethlehem - Four citizens were wounded and bruised in southern Bethlehem Friday during the weekly nonviolent demonstration. Two of the injured are children as a result of severe beatings by Israeli soldiers, as is the Chair of the Committee Against the Wall. They were on their weekly march against land confiscation, Israeli settlement expansion and Wall construction in Umm Salamuna. Some 150 people attended today, including a group of foreign supporters. They walked through the streets toward the bulldozers and land destruction underway. The nonviolent demonstrators held signs against the Wall and occupation, and those memorializing Al Nakba. They also flew Palestinian flags. Dozens of Israeli soldiers imposed barriers, including with rolls of barbed wire before assaulting several people.

Arab Israelis mark catastrophe of Israel’s creation in Palestine
Joseph Krauss, Daily Star 5/10/2008
Agence France Presse - SAFURIYAH: Arab Israelis marched Thursday for the right of return for refugees who fled their homes during the 1948 war that followed the creation of Israel as the Jewish state marked its 60th anniversary. The march, attended by thousands of Arab Israelis from northern Israel, was marred later in the day when clashes broke out between some demonstrators and police and several people were injured, police and other officials said. Chanting "no alternative to the right of return," thousands of people walked up a grassy hill toward a pine grove that covers the ruins of the Arab village of Safuriyah. As they made their way up a dirt path along a highway, they waved Palestinian flags and the orange and red banners of Arab Israeli political parties, chanting: "With our blood, with our soul, we sacrifice for Palestine.

The Israeli army attacks the weekly Bil’in protest, dozens treated for tear gas inhalation
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/9/2008
On Friday, villagers from Bil’in, located near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, supported by international and Israeli peace activists conducted their weekly nonviolent protest against the illegal Israeli wall built on the village’s land. Protesters carried banners demanding the removal of the Israeli wall, settlements, and calling the international community to help Palestinians retain Jerusalem from the Israeli army. As the case each week since the past three years the protests started after the mid-day Friday prayers were finished in the local mosque, villagers from Bil’in, along with Israeli and international peace activists, marched towards the location of the Wall which is separating the village from its land. Immediately after the protest reached the gate of the Wall, soldiers showered the protestors with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets.

Protestors in Bethlehem affirm the right of return
IMEMC Staff, International Middle East Media Center News 5/9/2008
Around 200 Palestinians, internationals and Israelis demonstrated at military checkpoint placed at the southern entrance of Bethlehem, to protest the wall Israel is building on the lands of the Palestinian village of Al-Khader near Bethlehem on Friday morning. The protest started with a prayer near the checkpoint, during which the preacher affirmed the right of return for the Palestinian refugees instated by the United Nations Resolution 194, as the 60th anniversary of the dispossession of the Palestinian people nears. As soon as the protestors gathered for the prayer, at least 30 Israeli troops backed by 6 military vehicles, blocked the checkpoint in an attempt to foil the protest. The nonviolent demonstration was organized by the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements as part of series of weekly protests against Israeli measures in Palestine.

Post mortem to investigate death in custody
Ma’an News Agency 5/9/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A post mortem is to be carried out to investigate the death of a Palestinian man who died after being detained by Palestinian military intelligence on Thursday. The director of military intelligence department, Brigadier Majed Faraj said that Hassan Jom’a Hassan Talib died in a Ramallah hospital after suffering health problems. Brigadier Faraj told Ma’an that Talib was detained on Thursday upon a judicial decision and he had not undergone any questioning before his death. He said that the Attorney General had been contacted in the case. Talib’s family said they believe he died from natural causes. [end]

Palestinian woman held for 45 days for supposed ''Security Investigations''
International Solidarity Movement 5/9/2008
Nablus Region - On the 7th of May 2008 at 3. 30pm Hanadi Kanaan, a young woman from Nablus, was released from Telmond women’s prison after being held for 45 days for supposed security investigations. Hanadi Kanaan, an engineering student within 1 month of graduating, communicated how she did not know why she was arrested and tells of the inhumane conditions she was kept in. She explained that when she was arrested she was held in a room just 2m by 2m, that she was given food that made her sick and how she was provided with no breaks during her 45 day imprisonment. She also described how she was continuously interrogated for 20 hours while she was in prison. The reason for Hanadi’s imprisonment for these 45 days were labeled as ’security investigations’ and Hanadi went onto to explain that the prison is full of women in the exact same position as she was.

Mandela Institute Lawyer visits several detainees in Ayalon Israeli prison
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 5/9/2008
Lawyer Bothaina Doqmaq of the Mandela Institute which defends Palestinian detainees imprisoned by Israel, managed to visit on Thursday several detainees imprison in Ayalon Israeli prison who told her about the harsh treatment they face , in addition to medical negligence and bad food. Doqmaq stated that there are 100 detainees in section 18 of the prison, including 11 from Jerusalem and five from the Gaza Strip. Detainee Kamal Abu Shanab, representative of the detainees in section 18 stated that the detainees are facing several issues including medical negligence and bad food. He added that they cannot receive canned food unless needed and that if they receive any canned food they should open it immediately in front of the prison administration in order to return the cans to them. Several representatives of the detainees met with the prison warden and agreed that the detainees would return the empty cans three hours after receiving them.

PCHR Weekly Report: 9 Palestinians killed, 35 wounded in Israeli attacks
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/9/2008
According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)’s Weekly Report, during the week of 30 April- 07 May 2008, 9 Palestinians, including a woman, were killed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. 3 of the victims were extra-judicially executed by Israeli forces. 35 Palestinians, including 6 children and a woman, were injured by Israeli forces. Israeli attacks in the West Bank:Israeli forces conducted 43 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and five into the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces confiscated the contents of a sewing workshop of the Islamic Charity in Hebron and ordered its closure for 3 years. Israeli forces issued notices to six Palestinian civilians in Beit ’Awa village, south of Hebron, that their houses will be demolished. During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 43 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank.

PLO executive committee calls on Israel to halt the E1 settlement project
Ma’an News Agency 5/9/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an - The Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), described the recent Israeli decision to transfer part of its security leadership into the "E1" area of Jerusalem as "a step towards expanding settlements in that vital area of Jerusalem that will lead to the division of the West Bank into two parts which will ultimately undermine the establishment of an independant Palestinian state." The committee said in a statement on Thursday that this decision reveals Israel’s intention to abort any political compromise between Israel and the Palestinians, thus demonstrating the official Israeli declarations regarding progress in the negotiations with Palestinians to end the 1967 Israeli occupation are "nothing but a great deception." The committee affirmed that it is the responsibility of the international actors sponsoring the political process,. . .

Adviser to US general ’met Hamas’ in Gaza
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/10/2008
RAMALLAH, West Bank: An adviser to a US general helping revamp Palestinian security forces has made several trips to Gaza, even though Washington considers the Hamas rulers of the territory terrorists, Palestinian officials said on Friday. A Canadian colonel who advises Lieutenant General Keith Dayton has made at least three recent visits to the Gaza Strip, security officials said. Washington refuses to have any official contact with Hamas, an Islamist movement. A senior Western official with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified, said the adviser also worked for the office of the military attache at the Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv, and insisted he traveled to Gaza "in that capacity, on some Canadian national business." "It had no official connection with the Dayton team." The Canadian met with Hamas officials in Gaza, a Palestinian official said.

Lebanon in flames: President Abbas urges all Palestinians to not take sides
Kristen Ess, Palestine News Network 5/8/2008
As a Palestinian news agency, PNN does not allocate much space for news outside of Palestine, unless it directly pertains. Our lack of coverage of the situation in Lebanon today does not mean that "we are not all going crazy," said one man currently fighting for his own son’s life who is seriously ill in Israeli prison. Future TV, Al Mustakbal, went off the air mid-broadcast in Beirut. The neighbors were watching when it happened. They were taken out at gunpoint by the Lebanese army. The country is in flames once again, and an elderly Christian woman who has seen it all, so to speak, said, "The Americans and Israelis are certainly very pleased right now." Other pundits are predicting another war to break out after US President George Bush attends the Israeli celebration of its founding, the Palestinian Al Nakba.

Abbas warns Palestinians in Lebanon not to take sides
Ma’an News Agency 5/9/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on Friday called on Palestinians in Lebanon not to be get dragged into the violence that has broken out between rival factions. He said he is following the evolving events in Lebanon "with great concern" and is hoping the situation will not deteriorate further. Meanwhile Hamas called on Lebanese factions to end the violence that has left at least 11 dead and 20 wounded in fierce street battles in the Lebanese capital, Beirut in the worst internal strife since Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Ma’an that the Lebanese parties must return to dialogue before Lebanon descends into chaos, "which is what the US administration wants to see happen." He called on the Lebanese people to "engage in real dialogue to preserve the unity of Lebanon.

Egyptian authorities allow a hundred stranded passengers to cross into Egypt
Palestinian Information Center 5/9/2008
Rafah, (PIC)-- The Egyptian authorities allowed on Thursday about a hundred Egyptians stranded in the Gaza Strip to return to Egypt via the Rafah crossing after coordination between the Egyptian and Palestinian security on both sides of the crossing. Security sources said that Egypt allowed a hundred people out of the estimated 1100 Egyptians stranded in the Gaza Strip. The same sources said that arrangements are being made to allow a number of wounded Palestinians and Palestinian patients to cross on Saturday into Egypt. There are also arrangements for holders of Egyptian travel documents to cross into Egypt on Sunday and for Palestinians stranded on the Egyptian side to return to the Gaza Strip on Monday. The sources also said that stranded people on both sides are Egyptian and Palestinian people who crossed the borders back in January when the border was breached and that they will be allowed to cross back in groups.

Rafah crossing to re-open on Saturday
Ma’an News Agency 5/9/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - The Rafah border crossing into the Gaza Strip will reopen on Saturday for three days, under a deal between Hamas and Egyptian authorities, Palestinian and Egyptian sources confirmed on Friday. The sources said that the crossing will be re-opened for patients needing to leave for medical treatment on Saturday, for residents on Sunday and for Palestinians stranded in Egypt on Monday. Palestinian sources said that Egypt permitted 25 Palestinians with Egyptian nationality who were stranded at the border to pass through the Rafah crossing into Egypt, at 4 pm on Thursday. The crossing at Rafah has been largely closed since early February when Egypt resealed the border after Hamas gunmen blasted it open in defiance of an Israeli-led siege of the coastal enclave.

Agha: International organisations not doing enough to end Gaza tragedy
Palestinian Information Center 5/9/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Mohammed Al-Agha, the agriculture minister in the PA legitimate government of Premier Ismael Haneyya, has strongly criticized on Thursday international human and legal institutions for not exerting enough efforts to end the Israeli siege on Gaza Strip. In this regard, Agha sent an appeal to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and to the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations (FAO) urging them to immediately mobilize their agencies to help bail the besieged Gaza strip out of the current crises, and to break the two-year old repressive economic sanctions imposed by the Israeli occupation government and its international and regional allies with the aim to subjugate the Palestinian. Agha said, in a letter he sent to Ahamd Al-Sabah, the chairman of the OPEC, and to Allam Madyouf, the president of the FAO, that the Gaza Strip was. . .

Seven Palestinians killed in Gaza and the West Bank in 24 hours
Palestinian Information Center 5/9/2008
KHAN YOUNIS, RAFAH, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation airforce escalated its bombing of Palestinian police stations in the southern Gaza Strip Friday night killing five policemen, raising the number of casualties to seven over the past 24 hours. Three Palestinian policemen were killed in when their station Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, was bombed. Palestinian security and medical sources said that Apache helicopters fired two rockets at a police station to the west of Khan Younis and fired a third at policemen running out of the station. Shortly before that, two Palestinian security personnel were killed in an Israeli airstrike on their headquarters in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah. Three others were wounded in the attack. Eyewitnesses said that Israeli war planes fired two rockets at the Security headquarters.

IDF kills three Palestinians, injures 20 others in fighting in the Gaza Strip
Avi Issacharoff and Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 5/9/2008
Three Palestinians were killed and more than 20 wounded in clashes with Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, Israel Defense Forces soldiers and Palestinian gunmen clashed in Abassan, along the Gaza-Israel border, and Israeli aircraft carried out at least four missile strikes. One missile struck Palestinians who were using abandoned houses as cover, killing a gunman from Islamic Jihad and wounding 14 people, Palestinian sources said. Palestinians identified the dead man as Mahmoud Abu Muslam, 21. An earlier strike wounded six members of Hamas, and three of them were in critical condition, according to Dr. Moaiya Hassanain of the Palestinian Health Ministry. Palestinian witnesses said a total of 25 tanks and armored bulldozers entered Abassan, an area east of Khan Yunis, setting off battles with local militants.

Car of Bedouin woman who lit Independence Day torch set on fire
Yonat Atlas, YNetNews 5/9/2008
Bedouin lighter of 60th anniversary torch suffers ironic twist of fate as her car is torched by unknown persons. Celebratory torch and car torching connected, husband says - Sana Elbaz, the daughter of a Bedouin family from Tel Sheva who lit a celebratory torch at Israel’s 60th anniversary ceremony in Jerusalem, saw her car set ablaze by unknown persons outside of her house on Thursday night. A molotov cocktail was also thrown at her door, but her house remained undamaged. Elbaz was watching TV late on Thursday when she heard the sound of glass breaking outside of her home. She alerted her neighbors, who helped to put out her blazing car, and called the police and her husband." The first thing that had crossed my mind when I heard my car being torched was that someone was taking revenge on me for participating in the ceremony," Elbaz told Ynet.

Hamas: PA security forces arrest three Hamas affiliates
Ma’an News Agency 5/9/2008
Tulkarem - Ma’an - Hamas said that the Palestinian security forces arrested three of its affiliates in the West Bank on Thursday. They said in a statement that the security forces arrested Tayssir Mohammad Farah from Tulkarem after calling him in for interview for the third time. Cameraman Ossayd Al-’Amarnah from Hebron was arrested while he was covering the Nakba demonstration in Bethlehem. In Qalqilia, security services detained journalist Mustafa Sabri after storming his house in the city for the second time. [end]

Al-Quds brigades target Sderot
Ma’an News Agency 5/9/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - The Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for launching a rocket against the Israeli town of Sderot, north east of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday. The brigades confirmed that their operation comes in the framework of responding to the continuing aggression against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. [end]

Al-Nasser brigades shell Al-Majdal
Ma’an News Agency 5/9/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - The Al-Nasser brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), claimed responsibility for launching a homemade projectile at Al-Majdal, on Thursday evening. The brigades said in a statement, that such actions came in retaliation for the ongoing Israeli aggression towards Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. [end]

Al-Quds brigades launch four mortar shells at Nahal Oz
Ma’an News Agency 5/9/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - The Al-Quds brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for launching four mortar shells on Friday morning at the Nahal Oz’ military site, in the eastern Gaza Strip. The brigades said in a statement that this came in the retaliation for the ongoing Israeli atrocities in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. [end]

Sderot celebrates with a split personality
Moti Katz, Ha’aretz 5/9/2008
A long line of cars made its way slowly out of Sderot about an hour before the beginning of the Independence Day events. Only a few vehicles were heading the other way, into the city. On the stage set up in the town center the last rehearsals for the main ceremony were taking place, as hundreds of security guards milled on the surrounding lawn, receiving last briefings. Sderot’s chief security officer, Yehuda Benmaman, and the ceremony’s director, Shimon Cohen, were scrambling onto the stage." I wouldn’t say I am calm," said Cohen." The event’s success depends on the people who arrive and, of course, on the absence of Qassam rockets. I pray it will pass in peace. We built the central stage in an open area, like we do every year, near the fortified sports building, so if rockets do fall, people can take shelter quickly.

This Week In Palestine - Week 19 2008
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 5/9/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| File 12. 8 MB || Time 14m 0s || This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www. IMEMC. org, for May 3rd, to through to May 9th 2008. The Palestinian leadership this week denied any progress in ongoing peace negotiation, meanwhile army attacks and the Israeli siege on Gaza continued this week. 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 Conscience Londres with the details: Bil’in On Friday, villagers from Bil’in near Ramallah were joined by international and Israeli peace activists for the weekly nonviolent protest against the wall occupying Bilin land. Protesters carried banners demanding the wall and settlements be removed.

Mishaal: Hamas won’t bow to political extortion in return for lifting the siege
Palestinian Information Center 5/9/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Khaled Mishaal, the head of Hamas’s political bureau, said on Friday that his Movement will never compromise Palestinian national constants and legal rights despite the pressure of the Israeli siege. Mishaal affirmation came as he addressed (via telephone) on Thursday a rally held by the Islamic women movement which is affiliated with Hamas in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) after Israel was illegally established on usurped Palestinian lands in 1948." Hamas neither needs political money nor is it tempted by such money unlike other Palestinian parties", asserted Mishaal, urging the PA leadership and detractors of the Movement to stop wagering on foiling it. He also said: "if the suffocating siege on Gaza persists, then the Gaza Strip will definitely explode in the face of all", but he stressed that Hamas won’t enter in confrontation with any Arab state.

Masri: Israel will pay for crimes in Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 5/9/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Palestinian lawmaker and Hamas political leader MP Mushir Al-Masri said on Friday that his Movement won’t wait for the Israeli response to the Egyptian initiative for calm for a long time as the Movement has many options if Israel rejected the truce. He also categorically denied that a tahdea (truce) between the Palestinian resistance and the Israeli occupation was in effect, asserting, "There is no truce with the Israeli occupation as we shall let the occupation pay for every criminal and foolish act it commits in Gaza Strip, hence, the resistance option will remain master of the situation if the occupation rejected the calm because we will not wait for the Israeli reply to the Tahdea proposal for a long time , and we will definitely keep all the options open in defense of the Palestinian people and their national constants".

Arab leader: Israel can’t destroy Palestinian people
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 5/9/2008
Thousands attend Kfar Qana rally marking 60 years since Palestinian Nakba. Deputy head of Islamic Movement’s northern branch declares Israel’s attempt to ’perpetrate genocide of Palestinian people’ is bound to fail -Thousands of people attended a rally marking 60 years since the Palestinian Nakba in the village of Kfar Qana on Friday. The event was organized by the Islamic Movement’s northern branch. Deputy head of the northern branch, Sheikh Kamel Khatib, said in his speech during the rally that the Palestinian people were "the past, the present and the future of this land." Khatib told participants, "Do not despair - we shall soon return to our land." He also declared that the State of Israel was in danger and was forsaking its Zionist values.

Ministry of Education and UNICEF Discuss Joint Cooperation
Yousef Joudeh, Palestine News Network 5/8/2008
Gaza - In light of the ever more tightening Israeli blockade on Gaza, Ministry of Education and UNICEF are bringing more financial support for an emergency plan to face the crippling impacts of this blockade on the Strip’s children. Three project proposals were to be handed to the UNICEF for funding including the Supporting (Assistant) Teacher Project, the Kindergartens Project and the Supportive Education Project. In an effort to enhance cooperation between the two groups and improve educational conditions in the Gaza Strip for the welfare of it’s children, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, represented by the Deputy Minister Dr. Mohammad Abu Shqair, met with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) representative in Gaza, Mr. Laurent Chapuis, and the Educational Coordinator of the UNICEF, Ibtisam Abu Shamalah. . .

Rabbi testifies in support of Hamas-linked imam facing U.S. ban
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 5/9/2008
A rabbi has testified in support of a Muslim cleric facing deportation from the United States. Rabbi David Senter testified Friday in a New Jersey courtroom that Imam Mohamman Qatanani tried bring together people of different faiths. Qatanani faces deportation for not disclosing a 1993 conviction in Israel on his U. S. citizenship application. The Israeli military charged Qatanani with being a member of the militant Hamas organization. Qatanani claims he was not aware of the conviction and says he was subjected to physical and mental abuse while in detention. The trial is in its second day. According to Israeli military authorities, Qatanani admitted being a member of the militant Hamas organization during interrogation in 1993 in Israel." Imam Mohammed Katanani was convicted based on his own admission on charges. . .

Ahmadinejad: Israel is a ’stinking corpse’ doomed to disappear
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 5/10/2008
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday called Israel a "stinking corpse" which is doomed dissappear, as the state celebrated 60 years of independence." Those who think they can revive the stinking corpse of the usurping and fake Israeli regime by throwing a birthday party are seriously mistaken," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency." Today the reason for the Zionist regime’s existence is questioned, and this regime is on its way to annihilation," he said. Ahmadinejad added that Israel "has reached the end like a dead rat after being slapped by the Lebanese" - a reference to the 2006 war between Israel and the Shiite Hezbollah militia. The hardline Iranian leader has made previous comments against Israel reminiscent along the same lines a number of times in recent years.

Israel lets it be -- with apology for banning Beatles 43 years ago
Andy McSmith, The Independent 5/8/2008
It has been a long and winding road, but Israel has at last apologised to the surviving Beatles for banning them from the country in the 1960s as a supposed threat to the morals of the nation’s youth. Visiting the Beatles museum in Liverpool yesterday, the Israeli ambassador to Britain, Ron Prosor, handed a letter of apology to Julia Baird, sister of the late John Lennon, expressing regret over the snub of 1965. Mr Prosor, one of Israel’s most senior and long-serving diplomats, was seven years old when the "misunderstanding" took place. The two surviving Beatles, Sir Paul McCartney, 65, and Ringo Starr, 67, are now expected to join celebrations in May of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. Israel will also write to them and to the family of the late George Harrison in an attempt to smooth over any lingering embarrassment caused by the decision, made in the tense period before the Six-Day War.

US’s ''best'' wish Israel happy birthday
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 5/9/2008
Politicians, celebrities in US wish Israel happy 60th Independence Day. In Washington Obama gives support speech, in Times Square celebrities wave banners on giant screens - WASHINGTON - Israel’s 60th Independence Day was celebrated in Washington DC on Friday, with the participation of Vice President Dick Cheney, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and 1,600 other diplomats and military attaches. Democratic presidential nominee hopeful Barack Obama was also there, making a surprise appearance in which he promised to support Israel. The event was organized by the Israeli Embassy in Washington, and included Shuli Natan singing the famous ’Jerusalem of Gold’. Military Attache Major General Benny Gantz awarded a special certificate of honor signed by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, to the family of American Colonel Mickey Marcus, who was killed while fighting in Israel’s War of Independence.

That Midas touch
Na''ama Lanski / Photo by Reuters, Ha’aretz 5/9/2008
In the summer of 2005, just a few days after Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip, Ehud Olmert, who was then minister of industry and trade, wrote a personal letter to Condoleezza Rice. Dear Secretary of State, he wrote, I would like to let you know about an art exhibition of my wife, Aliza Olmert, which is currently on show in Washington. I thought to myself, he wrote, that you would like to see more of her works. Rice was one of the hundreds of the prominent and the affluent who were invited in 2005 to visit Aliza Olmert’s solo exhibition, "Tikkun," across the United States. The exhibition consisted of photographs of cracked eggshells held together by metal wires, as a metaphor for the fragility of life and the desire to heal rifts. An employee of Ehud Olmert’s bureau was recruited for the task of inviting the VIPs. Rachael Risby-Raz, who was Olmert’s foreign relations adviser, handled the minister’s extensive ties with his counterparts in foreign governments and with his many overseas friends and acquaintances.

Israel PM urged to quit over corruption claim · Colleagues uneasy about fifth inquiry since 2006
Toni O''Loughlin in Jerusalem, The Guardian 5/10/2008
Ehud Olmert faced pressure from colleagues and political rivals to resign yesterday after police released details of a corruption investigation into the Israeli prime minister, the fifth such inquiry since he replaced Ariel Sharon in 2006. Olmert is suspected of illegally receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from the US financier and political donor Morris Moshe Talansky, and possibly other foreigners, beginning in 1993 when he first ran to be Jerusalem’s mayor and later when appointed as minister of industry, trade and labour in Sharon’s government. While Sharon also weathered bribery allegations as prime minister, only to be forced from the helm by a massive stroke, Olmert’s colleagues and rivals are growing increasingly nervous about the number of scandals that now dog him. Ronit Tirosh, a member of Olmert’s centrist Kadima party, said she wanted "very much to believe him" but was uncomfortable about the investigation.

Talansky: Olmert might try to hurt me
Aviram Zino, YNetNews 5/9/2008
Jerusalem District Court grant’s attorney general’s request to take deposition from American businessman in investigation against prime minister. State prosecutor tells court Talansky expressed concern PM might send someone to hurt him - The Jerusalem District Court granted Friday Attorney General Menachem Mazuz’s request to take deposition from Morris Talansky, an American businessman believed to have transferred funds to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during the latter’s tenure as Jerusalem mayor and as industry, trade and labor minister. State Prosecutor Moshe Lador told the court that Talansky "has expressed his concern to a police officer that Olmert might send someone to hurt him." The court noted that "while the state prosecutor stressed that it is inconceivable to attribute to any of the respondents the intent to influence the witness or deter. . .

Legal sources: Attorney Messer’s testimony complicates matters for PM
Ynet, YNetNews 5/9/2008
Sources familiar with investigation against Olmert say long-time confidante and business partner cooperating with police, implicating PM’s former bureau chief Shula Zaken as well - The testimony provided by Ehud Olmert’s confidant, attorney Uri Messer, apparently complicated matters for the prime minister, who is suspected of unlawfully receiving funds during his tenure as mayor of Jerusalem and then as industry, trade and labor minister, legal sources familiar with the investigation were quoted by Yedioth Ahronoth as saying Friday. The attorney’s testimony, the legal sources said, also points to alleged acts of fraud carried out by Olmert’s former bureau chief, Shula Zaken. Messer has not been given state witness status. It is suspected that Olmert unlawfully accepted, directly and indirectly, hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash from one or more. . .

’Melting pot’ approach in the army was a mistake, says IDF absorption head
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 5/9/2008
Some 5,000 new immigrants from Western countries are currently serving in the Israel Defense Forces, according to IDF data published here for the first time. Yet, the officer in charge of immigrant absorption says the army has no specific plan for dealing with the needs of Western conscripts." There is no specific plan because there is no need for it," head of the IDF Immigrant Absorption Department, Lieutenant Colonel Moshik Aviv, told Anglo File in a special interview for Independence Day in his Tel Hashomer army base office." Most conscripts from Western countries have no inherent service issues, and their overall absorption is successful." He added, "It’s not that service is particularly easy for new immigrants from the U. S. and Europe. They face the usual set of challenges as all other immigrants who join the ranks.

Iran blames Israel, US for Lebanon crisis
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 5/9/2008
Spokesman for Iranian Foreign Ministry says ’US, Zionist regime fuelling tensions in Lebanon’ - A spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry blamed Israel and the US for fueling tensions in Lebanon, Iranian news agency FARS reported. According to Spokesman Muhammad Ali Hosseini, "The efforts and adventurous intervention of the US and the Zionist regime are the main cause for the ongoing chaotic situation in Lebanon." Ali Hosseini added, "Ever since they failed to obtain their objectives in the Second Lebanon War, they have focused on Lebanon’s independence, sovereignty and unity out of revenge." Part of the political conspiracy we have warned of"¦ has been carried out," he stated.

A split from Israeli society
Menachem Ben Sasson, Ha’aretz 5/9/2008
The Supreme Rabbinic Court’s ruling last week, which voided conversions carried out by the rabbinic courts of the Conversion Administration, only speeds up the collapse of rabbinic authority in the state judicial system. The verdict may be framed in legalese, but it should not be misunderstood. Every one of its 49 pages may be headed "The State of Israel," but the pronouncement represents nothing less than a split from Israeli society, the state and the national justice system. The rabbinic courts’ opponents should be pleased with this verdict and wait patiently for a few others like it to topple the rabbinic court system altogether. Institutional authority in modern society does not derive merely from an institution’s official status, nor from its formal power. It is based mainly on public consensus and the understanding that without proper institutions, people would devour each other.

On borrowed time
Meron Rapoport, Ha’aretz 5/9/2008
Tenant Ehud Olmert does not intend to move out of his official residence, on Jerusalem’s Balfour Street, in the near future. In interviews he granted the media before the Passover holiday (the traditional pre-Independence Day interviews were canceled this week, due to the prime minister’s new imbroglio, details unknown), Olmert promised that he would run in the next elections, and win - a victory that would give him a five-year extension on his "lease" on the Prime Minister’s Residence. But even if Olmert survives all the challenges to his position, whether political or legal, his problems as a tenant are liable to come from another direction. His landlord, the actual owner of the land on which the house stands, may well demand that Olmert, even if he wins the next election, vacate the asset because of inheritance problems.

Olmert: I’ll resign if indicted
Globes correspondent, Globes Online 5/9/2008
The police are investigating allegations that the prime minister received large sums from several people when he was Minister of Industry and Trade and Mayor of Jerusalem. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he will resign if an indictment is filed against him. In a statement following the partial lifting of the gagging order on the police investigation of the prime minister, Olmert said, "I look each one of you in the eye and say, I never took bribes, I never put a cent in my own pocket. If Attorney General Meni Mazuz decides to file an indictment, I will resign from my position, even though the law does not oblige me to do so." Although there is no statutory obligation for the prime minister to resign, the precedent of Aryeh Deri, whom the court forced then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin to dismiss from his government when he was charged with taking bribes, probably means that Olmert would in any case have to step down if faced with similar charges.

IDF to probe Independence Day air show accident that left 2 gravely hurt
Yuval Azoulay and Yigal Hai, Ha’aretz 5/9/2008
The army will open an investigation today into yesterday’s skydiving accident, in which one of the dozens of paratroopers taking part in the Independence Day air extravaganza drifted toward the audience and hurt himself and nine spectators in landing. Two people were gravely injured, but are in stable condition. The paratrooper was moderately injured. Military sources speculated that a sudden gust of wind pulled the paratrooper in the direction of the first rows of viewers standing along the shore of Tel Aviv’s Jerusalem Beach. He was supposed to aim for a marked area several dozen meters from where he landed. The paratrooper in question is an experienced reservist. [end]

3.5 million Ashkenazi Jews ’traced to four female ancestors’
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 5/8/2008
A total of 3. 5 million Ashkenazi Jews are descended from just four "founding mothers" who lived in Europe at least 1,000 years ago, according to a study by Israeli geneticists. The four women were part of a small group which founded the Ashkenazi community, established in Europe after migration from the Middle East, and was ultimately descended from Jews who migrated to Italy in the first and second centuries AD. The discovery that the women are the ancestors of some 40 per cent of all eight million Ashkenazi, or European Jews, has been made possible by analysing the michrondrial DNA [mtDNA] component of the human genome. MtDNA is only transmitted through the female line. The researchers found that the mtDNA common to the Ashkenazi group of women is virtually unknown among non-Jews but is also found in a minority of non-European, or Sephardic Jews, which the study team says is. . .

Israel startup uses behavioral science to identify terrorists
Ha’aretz 5/9/2008
By Guy Grimland The wave of suicide bombings that swept over Israel in 2003 pushed the founders of WeCu Technologies into searching for a way to identify terrorists before they take action. Quietly, even stealthily, this unknown company has been working for five years now on one of the more interesting technological innovations to be created in these parts. WeCU ("We see you," in case you are unaccustomed to SMS-speak) promises an automated system to detect people with mayhem on their minds. The system integrates methods and doctrines from the behavioral sciences with biometric sensors. According to the company’s founders, in under a minute it can screen an individual, without his or her knowledge or cooperation and without interfering with routine activities, and disclose intentions to carry out criminal or terror activity.

Day 3: Hizbullah, Amal take West Beirut
Hussein Abdallah, Daily Star 5/10/2008
March 14 Forces decry ’armed and bloody coup’ - BEIRUT: Lebanon’s governing coalition, the March 14 Forces, accused Hizbullah of staging a military coup against the state and said that Hizbullah’s arms have become illegitimate after they were used against their fellow Lebanese citizens." Hizbullah’s claim that its arms were only targeted at Israel have proved false and invalid in the past two days, which witnessed the uses of such arms against the Lebanese people," the statement said. Lebanese Forces boss Samir Geagea, reading the March 14 Forces statement after a meeting at his residence in Maarab, rejected Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s claim that the group’s weapons were used against other Lebanese in a bid to protect Hizbullah’s possession of arms. In a news conference on Thursday, Nasrallah said that Hizbullah were ready to use their arms against other Lebanese, if the desired goal was to defend the resistance.

Opposition gunmen seize control of Hariri’s media empire
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/10/2008
BEIRUT: Militants allied with the opposition on Friday forced the shutdown of all media operations belonging to the family of majority leader and billionaire tycoon Saad Hariri. The closure - which came as opposition fighters routed Sunni loyalists of the government - concerned one satellite news channel, two regular television stations, a newspaper and a radio station. The media empire which was launched by Hariri’s father, Rafik Hariri, the billionaire former prime minister who was assassinated in February 2005 in a massive Beirut seafront car bombing. The slain former Prime Minister rose from humble beginnings to command an empire that included flagship construction company Saudi-Oger, real estate developer Solidere, banks and other companies - turning everything he touched into gold. His business activities and his rise as an influential MiddleEast political leader often won. . .

Fresh violence halts Beirut’s commercial activity
Osama Habib, Daily Star 5/10/2008
BEIRUT: Most business activities in Beirut came to a standstill on Friday as opposition gunmen took control of neighborhoods in West Beirut after two days of fighting. Many businesses remained closed, amid fears that fighting could erupt again. Few citizens ventured out of their homes in the early morning hours to either move to safer areas or buy purchase necessities from shops. Nadim Assi, the president of Beirut Traders Association, told The Daily Star that business owners are awaiting positive developments before deciding on a next move." I am optimistic that the situation will be back to normal very soon," Assi said, adding that merchants and traders are watching the unfolding developments on television just like other citizens. Banks and companies elsewhere in the country stayed open Friday, although traffic was very light.

Battle for Beirut
Report, Electronic Lebanon, Electronic Intifada 5/9/2008
BEIRUT, 9 May (IRIN) - Everyone kept insisting it was not a civil war, but jumping for cover as a rocket-propelled grenade slammed into the apartment block beside us, and masked gunmen fired deafening salvos across the road dividing Sunni and Shia neighborhoods of Beirut, it certainly felt like it. "It is impossible for Shia to shoot on Sunnis," insisted a military commander of Shia opposition group Amal, allied with Shia resistance group Hizballah, whose near two-year political battle against the Sunni-led government descended on 8 May into the worst fighting in Beirut since the ruinous 1975-1990 civil war that killed up to 150,000 people. "My wife is Sunni: should I kill my nephews? "asked the commander, who gave his name only as Abu Ali. But his words were cut short by machine-gun fire from the Sunni neighborhood across the road in the central Beirut neighborhood of Mazraa, sending sparks and soot flying up from the ground.

Arabs call for urgent meeting on Lebanon
Middle East Online 5/8/2008
Regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia led calls on Friday for an urgent meeting of Arab foreign ministers to try to end the crisis in Lebanon as scores of foreign nationals fled the fighting in Beirut. Opposition Hezbollah gunmen seized control of west Beirut from pro-government forces on Friday, the third day of sectarian violence which threatened to tip the country into all-out civil war. The fighting had eased by early afternoon as the army and police moved across areas now in the hands of Shiite opposition forces who routed Sunni militants loyal to the Western-backed government"The kingdom of Saudi Arabia supports holding an urgent and extraordinary meeting of the Arab League ministerial council in Cairo to discuss the Lebanese crisis and its fallout," a foreign ministry official was quoted by the state SPA news agency as saying.

International alarm at Hizbullah ’coup’ in Beirut
Reuters, YNetNews 5/9/2008
Takeover of Muslim parts of Lebanese capital by Hizbullah forces prompts concern among western, Arab leaders. Rice restates US’ support for Siniora’s government; Egypt and Saudi Arabia call for urgent Arab League summit - The takeover of the Muslim half of Beirut by Hizbullah triggered alarm in the Arab world and the West on Friday, and the embattled Lebanese government called it an armed coup by the Iranian and Syrian-backed group. The US government on Friday restated its "unswerving commitment and support" for the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. Egypt and Saudi Arabia called on Arab foreign ministers to meet urgently. In Lebanon’s worst internal strife since the 1975-90 civil war, gunmen battled on Beirut’s streets this week. A deadlock between the Hizbullah-led opposition and Siniora’s anti-Syrian cabinet, backed by Washington and. . .

White House calls on Iran, Syria to halt support for Hezbollah
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 5/10/2008
The White House said on Friday it was "very troubled" by Hezbollah’s actions in Beirut, where its fighters routed forces loyal to Lebanon’s government, and urged Iran and Syria to halt support for the Lebanese militant group." We have confidence in the government of Lebanon," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe told reporters after Hezbollah took control of the Muslim half of Beirut, tightening its grip in a major blow to U. S. -backed Prime Minister Fouad Siniora." We are very troubled by the recent actions of Hezbollah," he said in Crawford, Texas, where U. S. President George W. Bush was at his ranch preparing for his daughter’s wedding. Johndroe said the United States called on Hezbollah to "stop their attempt to defy the lawful decisions taken taken by the democratically elected Lebanese government.

Fadlallah slams ’improvised government’
Daily Star 5/10/2008
BEIRUT: Senior Shiite cleric Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah said on Friday the current problem in Lebanon is not sectarian but rather political, warning Christian and Muslim religious figures against "falling into the trap of sectarian speeches that instigate strife." In his weekly Friday sermon delivered from the Imamayn Hassanayn Mosque in Haret Hreik, Fadlallah urged Lebanese officials to manage internal dialogue in a way that preserves the country’s balance, future and power and to protect civil peace, the national Islamic unity and resistance." We could have done without this difficult situation which was triggered by improvised governmental decisions that do not respond to the simplest bases of internal consensus and sectarian balance," Fadlallah said. The Cabinet on Monday decided to remove the Beirut airport’s security chief, General Wafiq Shoucair, from his post and counter Hizbullah’s private phone network.

Corruption eats into Iraq food rations
Middle East Online 5/9/2008
Amidst 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 (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 programme. The sanctions were devastating nevertheless. Former UN programme 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.


Anatomy of a Conditionally Unresolved Conflict
Gilad Atzmon, Palestine Think Tank 5/8/2008
      According to Hegel, attaining ’self-consciousness’ is a process that necessarily involves the other. How am I to become conscious of myself in general? It is simply through desire or anger, for example. Unlike animals that overcome biological needs by destroying another organic entity, human desire is a desire for recognition.
     In Hegelian terms, recognition is accomplished by directing oneself towards non-being, that is, towards another desire, another emptiness, another ‘I’. It is something that can never be fully accomplished. "The man who desires a thing humanly acts not so much to possess the thing as to make another recognise his right. It is only desire of such recognition, it is only the action that flows from such desire, that creates, realizes and reveals a human, non biological I.” (Kojeve A., Introduction to the Reading of Hegel, 1947, Cornell Univ. Press, 1993, p. 40). Following this Hegelian line of thinking, we can deduce that in order to develop self-consciousness, one must face the other. While the biological entity will fight for its biological continuity, a human being fights for recognition.
     In order to understand the practical implications of this idea, let us turn to the ‘Master-Slave Dialectic’. The Master is called the Master because he strives to prove his superiority over nature and over the slave who is forced to recognize him as a master.

Deluded and deceived, Tel Avivians rejoiced

Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 5/9/2008
      At the typically Israeli restaurant Lemon Grass, near Rabin Square, a shockingly noisy group of American-Jewish teenage boys sat and sang "Hineh Ma Tov U’ma Na’im," banging their fists on the tables. It was early evening, but the masses were already swarming to the square.
     It was also a holiday for the wretched: peddlers of ephemera - two glo-bracelets for five shekels, twinkle-light jubilee glasses - and the miserable bottle collectors. Everyone made a bundle, as they say.
     Mina Tomei, another typically Israeli restaurant, was crowded. At Lehem Erez there was a long line for skewers of grilled meat that spewed smoke over the street.
     Was Tel Aviv burning? The hawkers of the silly string that replaced the plastic hammers of our childhood also made a killing that night. Why is pestering thy neighbor a sign of independence and joy? That’s something we should ask ourselves sometime.

The usual suspects

Tom Segev, Ha’aretz 5/9/2008
      In January 1949, about eight months after Israel’s establishment, the Israel Defense Forces’ canteens and cafeterias service (Shekem in the Hebrew acronym) issued a pamphlet entitled "Menu." It featured a poem, a story, a crossword puzzle, jokes, photos and all kinds of educational articles for soldiers. A story signed by Uriel Lev Ari describes the conquest of two Arab villages:
     "As I continued to lie along the road a bullet passed by my ear. I raise my head indifferently, look at it with a kind of ’What do I care’ attitude, but suddenly I am filled with anger and I turn to Izho, the machine gunner. ’Izho, that sniper is starting to bug me, he has to be finished off. Let’s do the same thing to him that we did to that nudnik at Tel a-Rish.’ He smiles, pleased. For him to kill an Arab is like a precept. The massacre the Arabs carried out on his class in the Ben-Shemen convoy made him tough and cruel, and since then he wants to kill every Arab..."

Look what they’ve done to our dream

Yossi Sarid, Ha’aretz 5/9/2008
      The days between remembrance days fill with hot air and cliche. Independence Day itself generates its own share, and heads of state may exchange drafts of their speeches and nobody will know who is giving the speech, because they all sound the same.
     Cliches are but coins - some worn out, some counterfeit - that are no longer legal tender. The smaller the change the bigger the words. Those who have no message to sell us will float their words like balloons or fireworks so that people will look up in the sky and not see what is happening on earth.
     All the cliches pass by our heads like background noise and our ears no longer hear their muzak. Who still listens to "only here do we understand why Israel must be strong?" Really? Only there? Must we go all the way to the Valley of the Shadow of Death to understand? Some add, "We can depend only on ourselves," as though the might of the Jewish nation alone defeated Nazi Germany. True, the Allies didn’t go out of their way to save Jews, how shamefully inert of them, but they were the ones who subdued the devil and suffered tens of millions of victims.

Opposition forces take control of Beirut

Mona Alami, Electronic Lebanon, Electronic Intifada 5/9/2008
      Opposition forces clash with pro-government forces in Beirut’s Cornish al-Mezraa neighborhood, 8 May 2008. ( Matthew Cassel BEIRUT, 9 May (IPS) - Men clad in black have roamed the streets of Beirut since Wednesday, their faces covered with ski masks or dark kaffiyeh (checkered scarf), as they wreaked havoc in the large avenues leading to the airport or dividing Sunni and Shia areas. As darkness loomed over Lebanon, the winds of discord seem to set the Lebanese capital ablaze.
     Since the assassination of former Sunni prime minister Rafiq Hariri 14 Feb 2005, allegedly through a Syrian conspiracy, the ruling anti-Syrian majority comprised of the Druze Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), Christian Lebanese Forces and Kataeb as well as the Future movement headed by Saad Hariri, son of slain prime minister Hariri, has been in conflict with the Syrian and Iranian backed opposition, dominated by Shia Amal and Hizballah movements.
     Tension between the two groups has been aggressively building up since Saturday 26 April, when French Socialist MP Karim Pakzad was detained by Hizballah. In the country to attend a two-day Socialist International conference in Beirut, Pakzad was detained and interrogated for four hours before being released while touring and taking pictures in an area considered the party’s stronghold. Pakzad’s host, Walid Jumblat, head of the PSP and a powerful figure in the governing majority, was clearly unhappy with the turn of events.

Uncertainty in Beirut

Maureen Clare Murphy writing from Hamra, Beirut, Electronic Intifada 5/9/2008
      8 May 2008 7:00pm Beirut is exploding all around me. After Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah made his speech this evening, during which he accused the governing coalition of declaring war on the resistance, opposition and March 14 supporters started fighting each other and making their armed presence felt all over West Beirut, including my neighborhood of Hamra. The news reports stated that this morning Beirut woke up to new demarcation lines, referring to the points of battle during Lebanon’s long and bloody civil war, though there were no clear lines from my perspective.
     Everyone saw this crisis coming, but there is no way to really prepare for war or whatever we should call the conflict currently playing out in the streets.After the airport road was closed by opposition forces yesterday, and the roads in and out of and connecting the different areas of Beirut were shut by demonstrators, things quickly deteriorated and constantly trotted out in news reports was the old cliché that this was the worst internal crisis since the end of the civil war.

Celebrating Evil

Khalid Amayreh, Palestine Think Tank 5/8/2008
      Normal nations, like normal people, don’t celebrate their days of infamy.  In fact, they struggle to forget them. Some countries with a troubled past try hard to deal with their shameful legacies, often by openly acknowledging their sins and apologizing to their victims and to their victims’ descendants.
     However, in Israel, which encapsulates evil and racism, ethnic cleansing is celebrated with utmost pride as a consummate national achievement and a glorious success story. "This is our manifest destiny," many Zionists would ostentatiously argue, with glee and deep satisfaction apparent in the tone of their voices.
     Sixty years ago today, one of the greatest thefts in history took place in Palestine: when armed Zionist gangs launched a massive campaign of murder and terror against the native Palestinians.

Israel needs tough love

Jerome M. Segal, Ha’aretz 5/10/2008
      Now that a few weeks have passed, we are better able to assess the significance of former U.S. president Jimmy Carter’s report, subsequent to his meeting with Khaled Meshal, that "Hamas will accept any agreement negotiated by Mr. [Mahmoud] Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel, provided it is approved in a Palestinian referendum."
     This may sound significant, but neither the Olmert government nor the Bush administration responded to the news with cartwheels. They might explain their lack of enthusiasm in this way:
     Hamas has made similar declarations in the past, but has always said that a referendum must include the Palestinian diaspora worldwide, and it continues to say it will not recognize Israel and will insist on the right of return for refugees. So any Olmert-Abbas deal will be opposed by Hamas, and will likely lose in the referendum.
     Who is right here? Did Carter focus world attention on an overlooked but major opportunity to end the conflict? Or is this just more worthless, even dangerous, Hamas rhetoric?

Hospital that heals division

Donald Macintyre, The Independent 5/10/2008
      Amid the ever-deepening separation of Israeli and Palestinian life, the Hadassah stands out - a clinic run by a Jewish organisation that is sworn to save lives regardless of the patient’s religion.
     If this were any family, there would be nothing remarkable about the way six-year-old Adham Takatka gently tickles the palms of his baby brother Mohammed before, unprompted, planting a kiss on one of his cheeks. But the bond between these two brothers will always be special. It isn’t everyone who can say his first achievement as a new-born infant was to save someone’s life, but Mohammed will certainly be able to make that unusual boast when he grows up.
     Today, Adham happily rides his fairy cycle round the family’s living room in the West Bank village of Marah Ma’ala. Eight months ago, he was lying in hospital in dire need of a bone marrow transplant. Samples had been taken from his siblings and five other relatives; none produced the match needed to save their firstborn’s life. "My nerves collapsed," recalls his father, Ahmad. "This is a deadly disease. If there was no transplant he was going to die."

What is written

Kristen Ess, Palestine News Network 5/8/2008
      Many refugees from Tel Asafi first fled to Fawwar Refugee Camp in southern Hebron in 1948, thinking they would be gone just a week. They have ended up a lifetime in Bethlehem camps. Abu Yasser lives among the cement blocks of one of them. He is over 80 years old.
     On his office door he has written the exact day that he was driven from his village of Tel Asafi. It was a Thursday, the first day of Ramadan.
     "What is written is my memory of what happened in Tel Asafi, the day we left, the day Israel took it. I wrote 17 June 1948. We left without anything. We ended up in Bethlehem where we are living to this day and awaiting our return to Tel Asafi. It was t first day of Ramadan, Thursday, the 17th of April 1948. They had heavy weapons, we had no choice. But they said it would only be a week.
     "Maybe everyone knows that we want to go home, that we all want to return. Why not? We are tired of the injustice. It’s wrong. Human beings want to be free, to live in freedom. But this word, idea, isn’t happening. But we still hope."