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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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13 May 2008


Israeli forces destroy fruit trees and greenhouses in southern Gaza Strip
Palestine News Network 5/13/2008
Khan Younis / PNN -- Israeli forces destroyed green houses, farms, fruit trees and land in the southern Gaza Strip’s Khan Younis area throughout the night. The Mayor of the eastern town of Khoza’, Sheikh Kamal Najjar, reported that "the bulldozers and tanks of the Israeli occupation penetrated the eastern side of town which exploded with destruction on Tuesday. They washed away more than 500 dunams of land belonging to our citizens." Mayor Najjar explained that farmers experienced heavy losses as Israeli forces dug up their lands closest to the boundary near the Israeli military encampments. "This is 400 meters away and their intention is a scheme to erase all manifestations of life from these areas." The head of the municipality estimated losses of farmers since the start of the Israeli bulldozing campaign in the area at one million US dollars, saying that the eastern. . .

VIDEO - IDF soldier documented shooting demonstrator at close range in Bil’in
Ali Waked, YNetNews 5/13/2008
(Video) Footage obtained by Ynet shows soldier firing rubber bullet at close range at young protestor demonstrating near Palestinian village; "˜I’ll continue showing up,’ says youngster, who religiously attends Friday Bil’in rallies against security fence - VIDEO -The IDF has launched an investigation after a video acquired by Ynet showed a soldier firing a rubber bullet at a protestor for no apparent reason. The findings will be handed over to the Military Advocate General’s office, which will decide on the next moves. Video: Lee Lorian - In a video shot by B’Tselem (The Israel Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories), a young Israeli is seen standing near a group of soldiers, when he is suddenly shot at close range. B’Tselem members claim they approached the Military Advocate General’s office with the footage, and the latter responded by saying it would investigate the case.

Palestinian worker dies after being detained by Israeli soldiers
Ma’an News Agency 5/13/2008
Jenin - Ma’an - A Palestinian worker died on Friday while trying to pass ’illegally’ through the Israeli separation wall to get to work in Jerusalem. Abed Ar-Rahman Saba’neh, 44, from the West Bank town of Qabatia, south of Jenin suffered a heart attack and died after being detained and abused by Israeli soldiers. Faisal Saba’neh, Abed Ar-Rahman’s cousin, told Ma’an "the incident took place last Friday when Abed Ar- Rahman was on way to his work in the city of Jerusalem. The Israeli soldiers chased him and eventually seized him along with other workers and took him to the Qalandiyah crossing north of Jerusalem." "The Israeli soldiers issued fines for each of them, claiming that they do not have permission to enter Jerusalem for work and ordered them to leave. But Abed Ar-Rahman tried again to enter Jerusalem but suffered a heart attack and died," Faisal added.

VIDEO - Photos: Israeli Army Raid and Loot Hebron Orphanage home to 110 girls
Haitham Sabbah, Palestine Think Tank 5/13/2008
At 1. 00 in the morning on the 30th of April, the Israeli Army raids orphanage in Hebron, home to 110 girls, seizing all equipment from community sewing workshop. The Hebron Orphanage for girls is run by the Charitable Islamic Society,(I. C. S) and houses 110 children. Witnesses said that approximately 40 Israeli soldiers raided the sewing workshop, which is located on the first floor of a girls’ orphanage operated by the Islamic Society, at 1am on Wednesday. In the course of a two hour raid, the Israeli troops ransacked the workshop after breaking down its main gates and doors. Israeli soldiers confiscated all the sewing machines, furniture, and clothes which were to be given to orphans. International human rights workers with the organization Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) said: "soldiers looted the workshop of all its sewing and processing machines, office equipment, rolls of cloth, finished clothing and supplies.

Olmert: Understandings reached in talks with PA
Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Service and Reuters, Ha’aretz 5/14/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Tuesday that he and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have reached "understandings and points of agreement" on key issues in U. S-backed peace talks but he gave no details. "There has been significant progress, and understandings and points of agreement have been reached in important matters, but not on all the issues," Olmert said in a speech to visiting world leaders at the "Facing Tomorrow" presidential conference. "The discussions we are holding with the Palestinian Authority are very serious and meaningful," he said. Olmert also stated that, "the greatest challenge now before us in the State of Israel, according to which its future will be determined, is the challenge of setting the final borders of the state within the framework of a peace accord with its neighbor, which will be recognized by the entire international community."

Palestinians may accept framework deal first, Abbas advisor says
Deutsche Presse Agentur - DPA, ReliefWeb 5/13/2008
Ramallah_(dpa) Palestinians may yet accept a framework agreement for a peace treaty with Israel if a final deal is unreachable by the end of the year, a senior advisor to President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday. Nimr Hammad, Abbas’ political advisor, told Voice of Palestine Radio that even though a framework agreement "is not what we want and does not meet our expectations, it however will keep things moving and this means pressure on Israel." He said this issue will be discussed in a three-way meeting Abbas will hold with US President George W Bush and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Saturday. Jordan’s King Abdullah may also join the meeting, he said. Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged at last year’s Annapolis peace summit to try and reach a peace deal by the end of 2008, and Israeli and Palestinian. . .

Rafah - Egypt border closed again
Palestine News Network 5/13/2008
Gaza / PNN - Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah border again Tuesday after three short days of being open only for medial cases. In general the southern Gaza Strip’s crossing into Egypt is closed "for an indefinite period of time." The Egyptians opened the crossing on a temporary basis in move aimed a assisting in alleviating some of the humanitarian crisis that the Gaza Strip’s 1. 5 million residents are experiencing due to the Israeli blockade. When the border crossing was opened on Saturday, hundreds of sick and injured Palestinians were taken to Egypt for treatment there or abroad. The Egyptian authorities had opened the crossing last Saturday, where hundreds across the sick and wounded Palestinians to Egypt for treatment in hospitals across as Egyptian students and employers stays abroad. Hundreds of Egyptians who were stuck in Gaza since the January closing were also allowed to return to Egypt.

Al-Qassam Brigades fighter killed in Israeli air strike
Ma’an News Agency 5/13/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – One Palestinian fighter affiliated to Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades was killed and two others were injured on Tuesday when an Israeli reconnaissance plane fired a missile at a group of fighters east of Al-Qarara, near the city of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip. Mu’awiyah Hassanain, the director of ambulance and emergency services in the Palestinian Health Ministry identified the dead activist as 21-year-old Tahrir Abdul Ghafoor. Hassanain also said that the wounded were taken to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. He said one of the injured men was in critical condition. The Israeli strike came shortly after two Palestinian homemade projectiles landed in the Israeli city of Ashkelon. One Israeli woman went in shock as a result, and Israeli greenhouses were damaged, Israeli media reported.

Four Palestinians injured in rally against separation wall near Ramallah
Ma’an News Agency 5/13/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Four Palestinians were injured on Monday as Israeli forces opened fire at a rally protesting the separation wall in the central West Bank village of Ni’lin west of Ramallah. Local residents from the village rallied in protest against the Israeli separation wall after Israeli construction companies began to draw the borders for the passage of the separation wall through the village’s agricultural fields in the south. According to ’Ahid Khawaja, coordinator of the popular campaign for countering the separation wall in Ni’lin, the Israeli authorities handed over warrants, informing the villagers that 2,500 dunums of the village’s lands will be confiscated. He said there were 5,000 olive trees in the area threatened with confiscation. "The village possessed 57,000 dunums before 1948, of which 21,000 was confiscated after 1967, and now after the separation wall, only 19,000 will be left," he said.

Human Rights groups deliver medical aid to Gaza
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/13/2008
Human Rights and Peace groups managed to send a convoy of medical supplies to the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. The convoy arrived at the Sofa Trade Crossing, the Palestine News Network reported. The convoy includes laboratory and dental equipment. The equipment was sent to the Red Crescent headquarters in Gaza, and the Gaza-European Hospital. The Palestinian campaign for Ending the Siege on Gaza thanked all parties who helped in easing part of the suffering of the Palestinian people on Gaza, as they are still facing harsh conditions due to the ongoing Israeli siege. On Sunday, Gaza plunged into darkness as its only power plant had to shut down due to the lack of fuel. The ongoing siege on the Gaza Strip led to the death of 140 patients, including children and elderly. On Wednesday, April 30,a four-months old Palestinian infant, identified as Naseem Al Biok died at a local hospital in Gaza.

Hamas rejects link between truce plan, captured soldier
Adel Zaanoun, Daily Star 5/14/2008
Agence France Presse - GAZA CITY: The Hamas movement insisted on Tuesday that it would not agree to Israeli demands that it free a soldier held captive for almost two years as part of a proposed Gaza truce. "Whoever thinks that the Shalit issue will be settled for free as part of the period of calm is completely wrong," former Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahhar said in a speech in Gaza City, referring to Corporal Gilad Shalit, seized in a deadly cross-border raid from Gaza in June 2006. "The issue of a prisoner exchange is completely separate from the period of calm," he added, speaking at an event to mark the 60th anniversary of the Naqba, or catastrophe - the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians as part of the 1948 creation of the Jewish state. Israel has demanded progress toward the release of Shalit as a condition for its acceptance of Egyptian proposals for a Gaza. . .

Israel says truce with Hamas must include Shalit
Amos Harel Barak Ravid Avi Issacharoff and Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 5/13/2008
Israel is favorably considering the Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. However, it is demanding that the indirect understandings with Hamas include real progress on a deal to release Palestinian prisoners in exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. A spokesman for Hamas, Sami Abu Zuhri, said yesterday that Hamas doubts Israel seriously intends to accept the Egyptian truce proposal. "If Israel does not agree to the cease-fire, all means are open to us," Abu Zuhri warned. Hamas spokesmen explained yesterday that Israel’s decision to condition its acceptance of a truce on Gilad Shalit’s release is tantamount to rejecting the Egyptian proposal. A Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, Mahmoud al-Zahar, added that Hamas would take action against Israeli communities around Gaza as part of what he termed "self-defense" if the truce were rejected.

Fayyad: 60 years of oppression no reason to celebrate
Ma’an News Agency 5/13/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian Prime Minister of the Ramallah-based caretaker government, Salam Fayyad, criticized Israel for celebrating their independence on the same dates that mark the anniversary of the Nakba (literally "Catastrophe"), the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes by Zionist forces in 1948. "I say to the Israeli people in particular, how can you celebrate while the people of Palestine are groaning under your settlements, the crimes of your settlers, the siege of your state and the occupation practices of your army," Fayyad said. Fayyad’s speech hinted darkly at the possibility of another wave of ethnic cleansing in Palestine: "We are addressing the international community which turned a blind eye to the Nakba, saying to them that ’today you can not turn a blind eye to what is happening in Palestine’ … [Israel’s actions] threaten. . .

Egypt reseals Gaza border
Agence France-Presse - AFP, ReliefWeb 5/13/2008
EL-ARISH, Egypt, May 13, 2008 (AFP) - Egypt closed its border with the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, a security official said, after opening it for three days to allow Palestinians to leave the Hamas-ruled territory for medical treatment. Since Saturday, 1,433 Palestinians crossed from the besieged Gaza Strip into Egypt, the official said. Since the Islamist Hamas movement seized power in Gaza 11 months ago, Israel has sealed Gaza to all but very limited humanitarian assistance. For months, Hamas has been calling on Egypt to open the Rafah border crossing -- the only gateway to Gaza not under Israeli control -- but it has done so on only a few occasions since last summer. In January, Gaza militants blew open large sections of the border fence, sending hundreds of thousands of Palestinians pouring into Egypt to stock up on basic goods before it was resealed a few days later.

People of Ni’lin clash with soldiers in defense of their land
Palestinian grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 5/13/2008
In the village of Ni’lin, outside Ramallah, residents clashed with Occupation soldiers over plans to confiscate village land for the construction of the Wall. The people of Ni’lin began to protest around 9:00 in the morning and did not cease until 3:00 in the afternoon. Four persons were injured from rubber bullets and tear gas. One of them, 53 year old Sa’9d Abdulhaq, was injured from a rubber bullet and brought to a local hospital. He was released today. Occupation forces also arrested one resident, 32 year old Firas Hamdan Amira, who is still being held in an unknown location. Yesterday’s protests were sparked when residents discovered that the Occupation was marking a new path for the Wall around the village. According to Ma’an news agency, the village owned 57,000 dunums before 1948. 21,000 were confiscated after 1967 and with the completion of the Wall only 19,000 will remain.

West Bank movement nearly impossible, Tulkarem resists by going ahead with scheduled plans
Palestine News Network 5/13/2008
PNN -- Israeli forces detained thousands of Palestinians throughout the West Bank Tuesday morning. In Za’tara alone, between Nablus and Salfit, hundreds of Palestinians were stuck. This is one of the few routes between the northern and southern West Bank. Israeli forces are also stopping movement at the only checkpoint east of Tulkarem, however Tulkarem is holding a festival of nonviolent resistance in memorial of 60 years of Al Nakba, flying United Nations flags as a reminder of UN Resolution, the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees. Israeli forces closed Checkpoint 17 and imposed a roadblock in another Nablus town to the northeast. Eyewitnesses report that the line-up of cars waiting to exit Ramallah was more than a kilometer and a half this morning, due to the lengthy periods of time Israeli soldiers spent inspecting each vehicle and its passengers.

Settlers ransack a selling yard for stone pillars and tiles
International Womens’ Peace Service 5/13/2008
Date of incident: 08. 04. 2008 - Place: Haris, Salfit District - Witness/es: Owner and neighbours - Description of Incident: Nabil Thawarta from Bethlehem, owner of a selling yard for cut stones, tiles and pillars at the Haris Junction, reported to IWPS volunteers, that settlers have ransacked his property, causing approximately 16. 600 NIS damage. According to his statement, residents of Haris living close to the junction noticed disturbances at around 1 a. m. on April 8th, 2008. They witnessed at least five Israeli settlers turning over and breaking many of the stone pillars and tiles in the yard. The witnesses also reported that the settlers had two cars, a red Toyota and a white GMC van. The incident took place in clear view of the Israeli army watch tower on the other side of the Haris junction, only about 200 meters away.

Settler youth steal donkey and its foal from Palestinian farmer
International Womens’ Peace Service 5/13/2008
Date of incident: 08. 05. 2008 - Place: Wadi Qana, Salfit District - Witness/es: Owner - Description of Incident: Two donkeys – an adult and a foal – were stolen by settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Yaqir from a Palestinian farmer while he was tending his fields. The farmer from the village of Dier Istyia had gone to his land in Wadi Qana with the two donkeys. He tied the donkeys up and then went to work at a distance in his field. The farmer noticed settler youth approaching the donkeys and removing them from the field. He was unable, however, to stop them taking the donkeys as he was too far away. IWPS members were asked to accompany the farmer to Yaqir settlement in order to recover the donkeys, which had been seen earlier just inside the fence of the settlement. IWPS team members approached the settlement security and explained the situation and asked for the return of the donkeys.

Protestors deplore PA security for kidnapping wives of Palestinian prisoners
Palestinian Information Center 5/13/2008
JABALIYA, (PIC)-- During a massive angry march organized Monday evening in the Jabaliya refugee camp by the Hamas Movement in protest at the kidnapping of Palestinian prisoners’ wives by the PA security apparatuses, the protesters strongly denounced this behavior and considered it a cowardly act and departure from the ethics and traditions of the Palestinian people. In a speech on behalf of the protesters, Mohamed Askar called on the Palestinians people in the West Bank to move to lift the injustice inflicted on the Palestinian women in the PA jails and to release them. In another context, Nafid Azzam, a prominent Islamic Jihad leader, expressed his dismay at the political arrests and pursuits carried out by the PA security apparatuses against the Movement’s carders in the West Bank. In a press release to the Quds Press, he highlighted that the resistance weapon is scared and. . .

VIDEO - ’Who’ll look after my little ones when I’m gone?’
Clancy Chassay, The Guardian 5/13/2008
In the second of five films, multimedia reporter Clancy Chassay hears from Karima, a 34-year-old mother of five, critically ill with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, an aggressive but treatable form of cancer. Like all but immediate emergency patients, she has been refused permission to cross into Israel to receive vital treatment. Her doctors in Gaza say that without this treatment she will die. [end]

IOF troops bulldoze Palestinian agriculture lands
Palestinian Information Center 5/13/2008
KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)-- IOF troops bulldozed large areas of Palestinian cultivated lands and hothouses in an incursion at dawn Tuesday east of Khuza’a town in Khan Younis district, south of Gaza Strip. Sheikh Kamal Al-Najjar, the Khuza’a mayor, told PIC reporter that the soldiers’ destruction streak reflected their vicious desire for revenge. Preliminary estimates indicated that the invading troops bulldozed more than 120 dunums of lands including 20 hothouses and uprooted hundreds of olive and other types of trees in addition to destroying wheat and barely fields, Najjar elaborated. Inhabitants in the area said that the incursion started at a late hour on Monday night and continued till the early morning hours on Tuesday. Najjar said that the occupation forces embarked on the largest ever bulldozing operation in the area to establish isolation, security zone between this area and borders of the 1948 occupied lands.

Israeli military razes 50 dunums of Khan Younis orchards
IMEMC Staff, International Middle East Media Center News 5/13/2008
In a predawn invasion of Tuesday, Israeli soldiers razed 50 Dunams of lands belonging to residents of Khuza’a town, in Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Eyewitness reported that Israeli bulldozers devastated large areas of greenhouses that belong to the farmers of the town. Local source reported that a state of anxiety and fear among the residents in the town as the operation had not been concluded yet. Translated by Nisreen Qumsieh - IMEMC News. [end]

Army shuts down a military checkpoint; installs dozens of temporary ones around Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 5/13/2008
Nablus - Ma’an - The Israeli army closed a military checkpoint known as "Checkpoint 17" north west of the West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday morning until further notice, meanwhile setting up dozens of temporary military checkpoints on the outskirts of the city. Local eyewitnesses reported that "the Israeli forces put a note on the checkpoint saying that the checkpoint is closed until further notice. "The soldiers installed a temporary checkpoint on the Al-Batahn – Nablus road, north of the city in addition to other temporary checkpoints on the road junction of the nearby settlement of Yetzahar, south of the city. Bus driver, 35-year-old Hashem Abu Zietun, said " Israeli forces have been obstructing hundreds of Palestinian vehicles which pass through the Za’tarah checkpoint south of the city which connects the northern areas of the West Bank with the south since the morning.

Army invades Jenin refugee camp, arrests two Palestinians
Ma’an News Agency 5/13/2008
Jenin - Ma’an - The Israeli army invaded the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank on Tuesday morning and arrested two of the camp’s residents. Local sources reported that the Israeli army seized , 17-year-old Musa Ahmad Sa’eed and 20-year-old Jamil Abed al Latif Nabhan, and took them to an unknown destination. The same sources indicated that Israeli armored vehicles conducted a wide range of searches of private homes amidst firing rounds of live ammunition. The Israeli army is carrying out sweeps of arrests, breaking into homes in the city of Jenin, villages and towns while the Palestinian security forces are carrying out security deployment to impose law and order in the city and its surroundings.

PA security arrests five members of Hamas in the West Bank
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 5/13/2008
Media sources close to Hamas movement reported on Tuesday that Palestinian Security Forces, loyal to Fateh movement, arrested on Monday five members and supporters on Hamas in several areas in the West Bank. The sources stated that P. A security arrested Sameh Al Jabsha and Abdullah Loqman from Dier Al Ghsoun village, near the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem. In Hebron district, in the southern part of the West Bank, security forces arrested Hussein Al Qawasmi and Faisal Abu Shkheidim. The forces also arrested Shadi Al Ja’bary in front of the Hebron University. Al Ja’bary is a student at the university and a previous member of its students council. Moreover, security forces are still holding captive for the eight day resident Akram Al Qa’oud, al lecturer at the Polytechnic University in the city.

Two Palestinian military groups fire projectiles at Sderot
Ma’an News Agency 5/13/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The military wing affiliated to the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), the National Resistance Brigades, claimed responsibility on Monday evening for firing two homemade projectiles at the Israeli town of Sderot. Separately, the An-Nasser Salah Addin Brigades, the military wing affiliated to the Popular Resistance Committees, said on Monday evening that their fighters launched two homemade projectiles at Sderot. The military groups said in separate statements that the shelling came in retaliation for the ongoing Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. [end]

Islamic Jihad’s military group claims responsibility for projectile that killed Israeli woman
Ma’an News Agency 5/13/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The military wing affiliated to Islamic Jihad, the Al-Quds Brigades, claimed responsibility on Monday for firing a homemade projectile at the Israeli town of Hevel Eshkol south of the Gaza Strip, that killed an Israeli woman. The military group said in a statement that the shelling expressed a rejection of the ceasefire while Israeli aggression continues. Israeli sources announced earlier on Monday the death of an Israeli woman in an Israeli town which has not previously been targeted by Palestinian projectiles. They said the projectile hit the woman’s house. [end]

Israeli forces seize two Al-Aqsa Brigades fighters near Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 5/13/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces arrested two Palestinian fighters affiliated with the Al-Aqsa Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, in the village of Beita near the West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday. Palestinian security sources said that undercover Israeli forces infiltrated in the village and approached a house where 24-year-old Ayman Sama’nah and 22-year-old Muhammad Abu Al-Hayja were hiding. Eyewitnesses told Ma’an’s reporter that five Israeli military jeeps and armored personnel carrier followed the undercover forces surrounded the house, seizing both activists. [end]

Al-Quds Brigades shell Israeli kibbutz
Ma’an News Agency 5/13/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad movement, claimed responsibility for shelling the Israeli kibbutz of Miftahim with three home made projectiles on Tuesday afternoon. In a statement the Brigades claimed that "the projectiles caused a fire in the kibbutz, adding "this shelling is in response to the Israeli attacks." [end]

60 years of apartheid-60 years to long!: 20 Jewish activists arrested, disrupting Jewish Community & Relations Council’s (JCRC) 60th anniversary of Israel celebration
International Solidarity Movement 5/13/2008
International Actions - Photos - Jewish Activists Draw Attention to 60 years of Palestinian Forced Exile and Dispossession - Published in Indybay 08-05-2008. San Francisco"”In response to Israel’s 60th anniversary celebrations, 20 Jewish activists were arrested, demonstrating Jewish opposition to Israel’s 60-year-old policy of dispossession, and highlighting the often-silenced struggle of Palestinian refugees. For over two hours, 20 Jewish activists disrupted San Francisco’s anniversary event, bunkering against the main atrium of the Jewish Community Center (JCC). In conjunction, over fifty Jewish and Palestinian supporters held a rally outside the center to call attention to ongoing Israeli policy of apartheid against the Palestinian population. With banners reading, "Jews in Solidarity with 60+ years of Palestinian Resistance," activists declared anniversary, "No Time to Celebrate.

Dwaik: Return of Palestinian refugees is a sacred right
Palestinian Information Center 5/13/2008
AL-KHALIL, (PIC)-- Kidnapped Hamas senior political leader and speaker of the PA legislature MP Dr. Aziz Dwaik described on Monday the Right of Return of the Palestinian refugees as the "hard rock" on which the dreams of the Israeli occupation will be broken. In this regard, Dwaik made it clear that none has the right to tamper with the right of return (RoR) being a sacred right of the 6 million Palestinians living in refugee camps inside occupied Palestine and in diaspora, underlining that UN resolutions sanction that right. Dwaik said this in an interview with the information office of MP Sameera Al-Halaika through his counsel, and the PIC obtained a copy of it. He also urged the Palestinian factions to make the 15th of May as a day for national reconciliation and unity, highlighting, at the same time, the importance of drawing a comprehensive national agenda to revive the 60th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe).

Nakba survivors return to their homes in Jerusalem
International Solidarity Movement 5/13/2008
Jerusalem Region - Photos - On 12th of May 2008 around 200 Palestinians, Israelis and internationals gathered at Jerusalem Theatre situated in West Jerusalemto raise awareness and remember the Nakba by listening to a few of the stories from the victims. The event which started around 4. 30pm, took the 150 attendants on a tragic tour of West Jerusalem, traveling from one house to another where Nakba survivors told their stories of how they once lived in their occupied houses. The event was hosted by the organization ‘The Nakba Survivors’ and was an entirely peaceful occasion that was followed, though it was occasionally interrupted by right-wing Israeli activists, including the Baruch Marzel from Tel Rumeida settlement, Hebron. Demonstrators wore black T-shirts with Arabic and English writing saying "Nakba Suriviors" to try and send a clear message that the Nakba should be remembered.

Woman killed in rocket strike on Negev as son watches; Grads hit Ashkelon
and Agencies, By Fadi Eyadat and Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 5/13/2008
A 70-year-old woman was killed as her son watched when a rocket fired by militants from the Gaza Strip struck a meter from where she was standing yesterday. The rocket hit a house in Moshav Yesha, 15 kilometers east of Gaza. This rocket struck farther from Gaza than most fired from the Strip. No one else was hurt. The woman, Shuli Katz, and her son were on their way to visit her sister-in-law on Moshav Yesha. A neighbor said that Katz’s sister-in-law, who is visiting from the United States, was afraid to visit Katz at her home, on Kibbutz Gvaram near Ashkelon, because of the two rockets that struck Ashkelon earlier yesterday. Instead, she asked Katz to visit her at Moshav Yesha. At close to 7 P. M. , Katz and her son arrived at the home on the moshav where her sister-in-law was staying. "They drove up to the back entrance with their car. . ."

VIDEO - IDF attacks Qassam launching cell in Gaza; Hamas gunman killed
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 5/13/2008
(Video) Palestinians say one gunmen killed, five others wounded in Israeli retaliation to rocket fire on western Negev; southern community heads tell Olmert Bush visit to region ’thwarting proper military response’ - VIDEO -The Israeli Air Force attacked a Qassam launching cell near the Gaza town of Khan Younis on Tuesday. According to Palestinian sources in the Strip, a member of Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was killed and five more gunmen were injured in the strike. Israeli woman killed in Qassam attack (Video courtesy of infolive. tv) Five Qassam rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israeli territory since Tuesday morning. Both landed in open areas south of Ashkelon. A brushfire erupted as a result and shrapnel hit a high-voltage line. The Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks.

Army installs temporary checkpoint at entrance to Baqa Al-Sharqieh
Ma’an News Agency 5/13/2008
Tulkarem - Ma’an - The Israeli army installed a temporary checkpoint at the entrance to the town ofBaqa Al-Sharqieh, near the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem on Tuesday. Palestinian security sources reported that the Israeli forces tightened its security procedures and imposed a siege on the town, installing a temporary checkpoint and closing the main road into the town. Soldiers manning the checkpoint searched residents and their vehicles. [end]

Israel mulls moving Gaza Strip crossings east to dodge rockets
Amos Harel Barak Ravid Avi Issacharoff, Yuval Azoulay, and Jack, Ha’aretz 5/13/2008
The defense establishment is examining the possibility of transferring the Sufa and Kerem Shalom border crossings, through which goods enter the Gaza Strip, deeper into Israeli territory, a move that would enable the crossings to operate continuously despite the recurring threats of Palestinian terrorism. The new plan being mulled by security officials entails moving the inspection points for cargo trucks further east of its current location, out of range of Palestinian projectiles. Sufa and Kerem Shalom have frequently shut down due to Palestinian mortar and terrorist attacks, preventing the delivery of basic humanitarian aid to Palestinian civlians in the Gaza Strip. While touring the crossing points Tuesday, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai pledged the government would improve efforts to reinforce. . .

Nujaidat: Building a bridge at Magharba gate may affect Aqsa walls
Palestinian Information Center 5/13/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Zahi Nujaidat, the spokesman of the Islamic Movement in the 1948-occupied Palestinian lands, has warned on Tuesday that walls of the Aqsa Mosque could crack if the Israeli occupation government pursued the construction of the controversial bridge on the ruins of the Magharba gate. He described the Israeli decision of building the bridge as "serious", and would have bad repercussions on the Aqsa Mosque and on the occupied city of Jerusalem, explaining that the bridge, in the event it is completed, would allow thousands of IOF troops and policemen to terrorize the worshippers, and to dominate Jerusalem and the Mosque. Nujaidat’s remarks came in press statements he issued on Tuesday in the occupied city of Jerusalem, and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC. "All the destruction and demolition works at the Magharba gate were leading to one and only. . .

Palestine Today 051308
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 5/13/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 4 m 0s || 3. 66 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, www. imemc. org, for Tuesday May 13th 2008. Rafah crossing closed as the army attack areas in Gaza, while in the West Bank daily invasions and kidnappings by the Israeli troops continues, these stories and more coming up stay tuned. The News Cast Egyptian media sources reported that Egyptian authorities shut down the Rafah border crossing, south of Gaza for an unknown destination. The Egyptian border-police who re-opened the terminal last Saturday for three days to ease the hardship the Palestinians are facing, particularly for those who are immediate need of being medically treated outside the coastal region. The procedures to open the border were implemented based on arrangements made between Hamas and Egypt.

Shufa road block removal
International Womens’ Peace Service 5/13/2008
On Saturday 10th May, the municipality of Shufa together with the Combatants for Peace invited Palestinian, Israeli and international activists to jointly commemorate the Nakba by removing the multiple road blocks that separate Shufa from its neighboring village Izbet Shufa. Though east of both, the Green Line and the Apartheid Wall, the two villages are an example of the Nakba, the expulsion of the Palestinian people from their land, being an ongoing process. The Israeli-only access road of the illegal settlement Avne Hafez is cuttin the street between the two closely related villages and denying the 1200 residents of Shufa their direct access to Tulkarem city. They either have to walk for about two kilometers or make a long and expensive journey by car. The settlement and its road are built on Shufa’s land, stealing about 2500 Dunum of it, while about the same amount of agricultural

Release 11.000 Palestinians in Israeli jails!!! Please sign this petition
Iqbal Tamimi, Palestine Think Tank 2/29/2008
please sign and support these political prisoners! Disgrace for Democracy, Israel is detaining right now 40% of the Palestinian MPs who represent the people - Sponsored by: Creator of Palestinian Mothers Network - Disgrace for Democracy: 51 Palestinian MPs and Ministers are Detained in Israeli prisons along with 11. 870 Palestinian citizens - A serious crime and new political slap in the face for democracy is committed by the Zionist system against representatives of the Palestinian people by the abduction of the Palestinian ministers and MPs. The latest of which was the arrest of MP Ahmed al-Haj from the city of Nablus on 16/12/2007. Al-Haj is over Seventy-years old. Earlier on the 10th MP Dr. Maryiam Saleh Minister for Women in the Palestinian government has been abducted too. Dr Mariyam is a member in the Legislative Council from Ramallah governorate.

News in Brief - Waqf Trust appeal to be heard in secret
Ha’aretz 5/13/2008
The Tel Aviv District Court ruled Sunday that the state’s position on an appeal in the matter of assets belonging to the Waqf, the Muslim religious trust, will be held behind closed doors, without the presence of the appellants, because the information revealed might damage Israel’s foreign relations. The appeal was submitted by the Jaffa Association for Human Rights and four activists in the Muslim community in Jaffa, against the Custodian for Absentee Property. It demands that the Custodian provide them with an exact list of Waqf property in Tel Aviv-Jaffa and the rest of the country, and incomes from that property. (Yigal Hai) Jewish Agency Chairman Ze’ev Bielski announced yesterday that the agency, together with the government, would erase the debts of a number of communities near the Gaza Strip, some NIS 27 million.

Women cyclists arrive in Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 5/13/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – In an unprecedented rally, more than 175 women from different countries arrived in Nablus in the northern West Bank on Tuesday at the end of a bicycle ride to express solidarity with the Palestinian people on the sixtieth anniversary of the Palestinian catastrophe (Nakba). Ma’an’s reporter said that women representing 30 nationalities crossed the Huwwara checkpoint to Nablus after travelling through Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, to express support and solidarity with the Palestinian people. One of the women, 28-year-old Maria from Turkey said, "I am a member of the ’Follow the Women Organization. We came to Nablus after visiting 28 Arab cities in four countries. We are here to show solidarity with the Palestinian people and to support peace efforts." Another woman, 24-year-old Riham originally from Jerusalem, said she was a a member of the organization "Women on The Way to Peace.

J oint letter to President Bush on the situation in Gaza
ReliefWeb 5/13/2008
Gisha, Human Rights Watch (HRW), Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) - Dear President Bush,We are writing to you on the occasion of your forthcoming visit to Israel to urge you to exercise your influence to reverse Israel’s closure policy towards the Gaza Strip and to disassociate the United States from that policy. Israel’s comprehensive restrictions on the movement of goods and people, including fuel and other civilian necessities, have produced a devastated economy and a severe humanitarian crisis there. These restrictions constitute collective punishment against the civilian population, a serious violation of international humanitarian law. Following Hamas’s takeover of power in Gaza in June 2007, Israel implemented a more comprehensive closure of Gaza’s borders. In October 2007, it began reducing shipments of gasoline, diesel, and other fuels.

Video shows officer shooting protester with rubber bullet at close range
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 5/14/2008
The human rights group B’Tselem on Tuesday revealed video footage showing an Israel Defense Forces officer firing a rubber-coated bullet at an Israeli protester at close range, during a protest against the separation fence in Bil’in two months ago. The shooting appears to violate IDF regulations, which state that rubber bullets may be fired from no closer than 40 meters. The video shows the officer discharging his firearm at the protester, 18-year-old Eran Cohen from Tel Aviv, from no more than six meters away. The shooting left Cohen wounded in his thigh and in need of surgery to extract the bullet. The IDF Spokesman responded that the Military Police Corps’ Criminal Investigations Division has begun investigating the circumstances of the incident. The court has already ruled and ordered the path of the fence around Bil’in be changed, yet the disruption of order there goes -- See also: Video of the incident - YNet and Military Police to investigate firing of rubber-coated steel bullet at unarmed demonstrator in Bil''in - B''tselem

Anti-siege committee: Allowing in small fuel quantities an Israeli game
Palestinian Information Center 5/13/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The popular committee against the siege stated that the Israeli occupation manipulates one and a half million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip when it allows in every few weeks small quantities of fuel supplies enough for one day and disregards the international demands calling for stopping this crisis. "The entry of these small quantities to the Strip from time to time is a Zionist game to appear through media outlets as if it helps Gaza, provides it with fuel and alleviates the siege", Rami Abdo, the spokesman for the committee, said. The spokesman underlined that Gaza is dying slowly amid terrifying silence of the international community despite all appeals issued from the besieged Strip. In the same context, observers in Gaza warned that such Israeli manipulation of the Gaza people’s lives, if it continues, would result in an insolvable tragedy in the future, especially. . .

PLO: Sixty years after of the Nakba, no alternative to Right of Return
Ma’an News Agency 5/13/2008
Nablus - Salfit - Ma’an- The Palestine Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) department of national and international relations stated on Tuesday considers the Right of Return is a legitimate right for the Palestinians in accordance with the international resolutions, including UN Resolution 194. In a statement issued on Tuesday the department said "the Palestinians living in Palestine and the diaspora on the 15th of May each year commemorate the anniversary of their expulsion to all parts of the world because of the massacres committed by the Israeli forces against them and the destruction of their villages and the confiscation if their belongings in 1948 that led to the exile of at least 800,000 Palestinians who were living in homes and farmlands under a plan ofethnic cleansing. Thus the Nakba became a dark phase in Palestinian contemporary history.

Zahhar: The calm requirements are to lift the siege and stop the aggression
Palestinian Information Center 5/13/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, a prominent Hamas leader, stated Tuesday that the truce requirements are to lift the siege and stop the aggression while the issue of Gilead Shalit, the captive Israeli soldier, is a separate one. In an exclusive press statement to the PIC reporter, Dr. Zahhar added that the issue of Shalit comes within the context of a prisoner swap deal which is completely separate from the calm issue and requires the release of 11,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. The Hamas leader underlined that the initiative was in the first place an Egyptian initiative and Hamas along with the other Palestinian factions responded to it in order to prove to the world that the party which is responsible for the cycle of violence is the Israeli occupation. Israeli media leaks reported that Israel demanded the release of Shalit as a part of the truce during the. . .

Hamas calls for big march at Erez crossing
Palestinian Information Center 5/13/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Tuesday called on the Palestinian people in Gaza to head to the Beit Hanun (Erez) crossing next Thursday to express their rage at the continued Israeli siege imposed on the Strip. Ashraf Abu Diya, in charge of Hamas’s popular actions, called on the inhabitants of  Gaza and northern districts to march to the Beit Hanun crossing as part of activities organized to commemorate the Nakba (catastrophe) and to demand an end to the oppressive siege on the Gaza Strip. The step would serve as a "strong message" to occupation namely that the Palestinians would not accept perpetuation of that suffocating siege and slow death and that they are determined to break that siege with all means and that they are running our of patience. All options are open before the Palestinian masses to break the siege after their suffering increased, he said, warning of a. . .

15000 demonstrate in London on 10 May
Palestine Monitor 5/13/2008
Thousands marched through London, sixty years after the Palestinian Nakba, to demand an end to the siege on Gaza, an end to Israeli occupation, and for the right of return of refugees. The demonstration, organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, British Muslim Initiative and the Palestinian Forum in Britain, was supported by trade unions UNISON, Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), Unite the Union, Communication Workers Union, GMB, TSSA, RMT, Fire Brigades Union, and the National Union of Miners, who joined organisations such as the Association of Palestinian Community UK, Amos Trust, Friends of Al Aqsa UK, Palestinian Return Centre, War on Want, Jewish Socialist Group, Pax Christi, Stop the War Coalition, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Britain Palestine Twinning Network, ICAHDUK, Friends of Lebanon, Federation of Student Islamic Societies, and Midlands Palestinian Community Association.

Hamas: We’ll use all possible means to confront the Israeli aggression and siege
Palestinian Information Center 5/13/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement stated that it would not mortgage the Palestinian people to the Israeli response to the truce overture and would use all possible means to confront the daily Israeli aggression and to break the suffocating siege, pointing out that whenever the Israeli occupation feels ready for the calm, the Movement will be ready. Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, underlined in another context, that Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing only for medical cases and those who hold residence visas or citizenships of other countries and the crossing is still closed, adding that this does not address even a fraction of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Dr. Abu Zuhri also underscored that resupplying the Gaza power station temporarily with its fuel needs does not end the fuel crisis because all service sectors in the Strip still sustain complete paralysis because of this crisis.

Bush celebrating with Israelis, suggests himself for Nobel Prize
Palestine News Network 5/13/2008
Jerusalem / PNN- US President George W Bush gave statements to four major Israeli newspapers Tuesday as he has arrived for the Israeli celebrations of the founding of the state. While talking to the chosen press, he suggested himself a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. Bush is addressing the Israeli Knesset today and is meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres. When asked by the Israeli press how he plans to proceed regarding the ’peace process’ as the Israeli Prime Minister is under investigation for corruption and may be forced to resign, Bush defended Olmert. He described the relationship that binds the two as "excellent," and said that Olmert is "easy to talk to, easy to deal with. "Bush described Olmert’s vision as "clear and strategic. "He added that the "problems of Israel should not be dumped on the shoulders of one man."

Bush to Haaretz: Peace process not contingent on Olmert
Shmuel Rosner, Ha’aretz 5/13/2008
The peace process is not dependent on a single individual, U. S. President George Bush said on Monday, indirectly responding to fears that the police investigation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert could derail Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. At a meeting with Israeli journalists at the White House Monday morning, Bush offered words of support for Olmert, saying he is an "honest guy," easy to talk with and "a strategic thinker," and that relations between the two leaders are "nothing but excellent. "Yet, at the same time, he stressed that the peace process does not depend on Olmert, and even named two possible replacements for him: Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who is number two in Olmert’s Kadima party, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who heads Labor. Among the Palestinians as well, Bush noted, more than one man is. . .

Bush tour diminished by Hizballah show of force
Jim Lobe, Electronic Lebanon, Electronic Intifada 5/13/2008
WASHINGTON, 12 May (IPS) - While this week’s trip by US President George W. Bush to Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt was never conceived as a triumphant "victory lap" around the region, the swift rout of US-backed forces by Lebanon’s Hizballah Friday has provided yet another vivid illustration of the rapid decline in Washington’s influence in the Middle East during his tenure. The events in Lebanon will no doubt cast a long shadow over Bush’s tour, which begins Tuesday. After all, it was only three years ago that he hailed the "Cedar Revolution" there as vindication of the kind of democratic transformation of the region that he insisted the invasion of Iraq was designed to launch. Three years and a brief war between Israel and Hizballah later, the Iranian- and Syrian-backed group appears more powerful and entrenched than ever, just as its Sunni Islamist ally in the Occupied Palestinian

Hezbollah ’Redrawing’ Mideast Map
Joshua Mitnick, MIFTAH 5/13/2008
RAMALLAH, West Bank — Hezbollah’s dramatic gains in Lebanon last week are just part of a regional process that began last year in the Gaza Strip and will continue in Jordan and Egypt, a Hamas official in the West Bank told The Washington Times. Sheik Yazeeb Khader, a Ramallah-based Hamas political activist and editor, said militant groups across the Middle East are gaining power at the expense of U. S. -backed regimes, just as Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip from forces loyal to U. S. -backed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas." What happened in Gaza in 2007 is an achievement; now it is happening in 2008 in Lebanon. It’s going to happen in 2009 in Jordan and it’s going to happen in 2010 in Egypt," Sheik Khader said in an interview." We are seeing a redrawing of the map of the Middle East where the forces of resistance and steadfastness are the ones moving the things on the ground." His remarks highlight how a growing alliance linking Hamas, Iran and Hezbollah straddles the Shi’ite-Sunni rift.

Blair touts new Israeli commitments in West Bank
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/14/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel has agreed to remove some checkpoints across the Occupied West Bank in a bid to ease Palestinian travel restrictions, Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair said on Tuesday. Four checkpoints will be removed, seven will be significantly improved to ease the flow of traffic and one will be moved to another location, the former British prime minister told a news conference in Occupied Jerusalem. There are almost 600 such roadblocks in the West Bank, and Israel has repeatedly pledged to remove small numbers of them. It has not honored most of these pledges. "The government of Israel has agreed to do so," subject to "a continuous security assessment," said Blair, representative of the diplomatic Quartet made up of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations. Blair said one roadblock would be removed within a week and the others at a later stage.

Ahmadinejad predicts Israel will be ’swept away’ by Palestinians
DPA, Ha’aretz 5/14/2008
In Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s latest verbal outburst against Israel, the Iranian President said Tuesday that it would "be soon swept away" by the Palestinians. "This terrorist and criminal state is backed by foreign powers, but this regime would soon be swept away by the Palestinians," Ahmadinejad said in a press conference in Tehran. It is the second time within less than three years that the Iranian president predicted the eradication of Israel. The first time was in 2005 when Ahmadinejad hoped that Israel would be eradicated from the Middle East map. Referring to worldwide celebrations for the 60th anniversary of Israel’s foundation, he said that "it would be futile to hold a birthday ceremony for something which is already dead. ""As far as the regional countries are concerned, this regime does not exist," Ahmadinejad added.

Abbas: Refugees issue is pivotal to peace process
Ma’an News Agency 5/13/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited the Al-Awda camp in Ramallah in the central West Bank on Tuesday, which has been set up opposite the Palestinian security compound (Al-Muqata’a) to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the Nakba. The camp is a replica of the original refugee camps set up in 1948 after Palestinians were driven out of their towns and villages by Jewish militias in 1948. During his visit Abbas said that Palestinian refugees is a core issue being negotiated with the Israelis, describing it as important as the issues of Jerusalem and the borders. He explained that the Palestinian people will never give up on the right of return of Palestinian refugees. He highlighted that the Arab Peace Initiative, launched during the Beirut Arab League summit in 2002, talked about an evident solution for the refugees problem in accordance with the UN resolution 194.

Peres: If it weren’t for Hamas, Palestinians would have a state
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 5/13/2008
President addresses ’Facing Tomorrow’ conference, says Israel has no right to postpone peace any longer - If it wasn’t for Hamas, a Palestinian state would have been established by now, President Shimon Peres said Tuesday evening at the opening of the "Facing Tomorrow" Presidential Conference in Jerusalem. "If it weren’t for Hamas, a Palestinian state would already exist," Peres said. Hundreds of guests, including presidents and ministers, will take part in the Presidential Conference. United States President George W. Bush will deliver a speech at the event Wednesday. During his address, Peres said Israel had "no right to postpone any longer the peace all the world’s peoples wait for." "I hear around me the sighs of an era coming to a close. Look at the promises of the future, not the threats of the past," he said.

A Talk with President Peres
Lally Weymouth, MIFTAH 5/13/2008
Israeli President Shimon Peres is the last remaining founding father of the Israeli state. Last week he spoke with Newsweek-Washington Post’s. Excerpts:Q. Is there a realistic chance of peace with the Palestinians? A. I think we have to follow a two-track approach: one political, the other economic. I think the economic locomotive has achieved much more than the military since the Second World War. And I think that we have unbelievable economic proposals as to how to make accommodations between us and our neighbors. In the political negotiations, the gaps are not very great, but they are highly emotional. It will be extremely difficult to put them on paper because each party looks to its own audience and will be very careful not to appear as losers. We cannot compare, for example, the issue of Jerusalem with the issue of borders. If we can agree on borders, let’s agree. If we can agree on refugees, let’s agree. It will take time.

Doug Feith: Israel didn’t push for Iraq War
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 5/13/2008
Former US undersecretary of defense tells Ynet he never saw evidence of Israeli pressure on America to launch Iraq War. In private conversations, Israelis warned that Iraq failure could undermine effort against Iran, he says - WASHINGTON- As opposed to frequently cited claims, Israeli officials did not push their American counterparts into launching a war in Iraq, Former United Stated Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith told Ynet in a special interview. Addressing claims that Israel pushed the US Administration into the war, Feith said "I never saw that." "What you heard from Israeli officials in private discussions was that they were not really focused on Iraq," Feith said. "They were much more focused on Iran." US troops in Iraq. (Photo: AP) When asked why Israel did not publically object to military action in Iraq, he said this was a result. . .

Institute warns of Saudi, Iranian anti-Semitic threat
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 5/13/2008
It is not Al-Qaida butrather Islamist anti-Semitism in Saudi Arabia, Iran and its allies that poses a threat to the Jewish people, a new position paper from The Jewish People Policy Planning Institute says. The paper, by Prof. Emmanuel Sivan, calls on the Jewish people worldwide tofocus on highlighting this semi-official Saudi policy, and on strengthening ties with moderate Muslim countries such as Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia and even Pakistan. Sivan, a senior researcher at the institute and a Middle East historian, is scheduled to present his paper this Thursday at the President’s Conference: Facing Tomorrow, in Jerusalem. In the paper, titled "The Islamist Challenge," Sivan argues that despite Al-Qaida’s rhetoric aimed against the Jewish people, "the Jews are a low-priority target on their list of enemies.

Polish Pres.: Israeli youth should learn Poland not to blame for the Holocaust
Ofri Ilani, Ha’aretz 5/13/2008
Polish President Lech Kaczynski met with Education Minister Yuli Tamir in Jerusalem on Tuesday. Kaczynski, who is visiting Israel for President Peres’ conference, told Tamir he thinks Israeli students visiting Poland should study Poland’s pre-Holocaust history and various aspects of Poland’s diverse culture in addition to its role in the Holocaust. "Their fear is that because the children only see the camps they will get the impression that the Polish were the driving force behind the annihilation," explained Tamir. According to Tamir, the Polish are trying to improve their historical image and seek to remind the world that Poland was also a victim of Nazism and that although the Nazi death camps were in Poland, Germany was behind the genocide. Tamir said that the Education Ministry makes a conscious effort to paint a balanced. . .

The caretaker gov’t: The fuel quantities allowed in are not enough for one day
Palestinian Information Center 5/13/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The caretaker government in the Gaza Strip stated that allowing in small quantities of fuel supplies is an Israeli attempt to pull the wool over the eyes and to absorb the media attention to the worsening humanitarian crisis in the besieged Strip, pointing out the quantities of diesel and cooking gas allowed in on Monday are not enough for one day. In the context of the siege repercussions, Hasan Khalaf, the director of the Shifa hospital, warned that immanent mass death of patients may occur in Gaza hospitals if electricity is cut off as a result of the fuel crisis, pointing out that any power cut for half an hour in the Shifa hospital alone will lead to the death of 68 patients including 30 children. Khalaf also said that the health and environmental situation in Gaza is deteriorating rapidly because of the Israeli siege imposed two years ago, denouncing at the same. . .

Palestinian health ministry warns against using cooking oil as fuel
Ma’an News Agency 5/13/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Palestinian health ministry on Tuesday warned of the dangerous environmental and health repercussions of using cooking oil as fuel for vehicles due to the fuel shortage in the Gaza Strip. "Science has proved that mixing cooking oil with fuel in vehicles endangers the environment as well as people’s health because combustion is not perfect. The smoke which is released from vehicles run by such a mixture of fuel causes cancer and pollutes the atmosphere. It also results in difficulties in breathing which endangers citizens’ health," the Palestinian health ministry said in a statement. Furthermore, the statement added, "using cooking oil as fuel for vehicles has resulted in a 30% increase in the price of cooking oil, and that is adding to the suffering of Gazan citizens who already are suffering from high prices due to the shortage of basic food products.

Police seize documents at Olmert’s old ministry
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/14/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli police raided the Trade and Industry Ministry on Tuesday and seized documents related to the latest corruption probe against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. "As part of the ongoing investigation of the prime minister, police officers of the national fraud unit this afternoon searched the offices of the Trade and Industry Ministry and confiscated documents," police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told AFP. Olmert, who headed the ministry between 2003 and 2006, is suspected of having received funds illegally from millionaire US businessman and fundraiser Morris Talansky in the 13 years before he became premier in 2006. He has denied any wrongdoing and insists that he will only step down if indicted. On Monday, police raided Jerusalem city hall and confiscated documents related to the probe, one of four pending corruption probes to embroil the embattled premier.

VIDEO - News / Sheldon Adelson questioned in probe against PM
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 5/14/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 special news bulletin for May 13, 2008. Police question U. S. billionaire Sheldon Adelson in the investigation against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. At the start of the 2080 Presidential Conference, President Shimon Peres says Israel represents the future. U. S. President George W. Bush defends his legacy of involvement in the Middle East. [end]

To surf, or not to surf
Ofri Ilani, Ha’aretz 5/13/2008
It is hard to imagine that last week The New York Post’s Web site had more hits from Israeli surfers than it did from New Yorkers. This occurred after Israeli radio announcers told listeners to go to the newspaper’s web site, but without saying why. While the Israeli papers were struggling to provide their readers with bits of information that were not restricted by the gag order barring publication, surfers could read almost all the details of the investigation of the prime minister on the New York paper’s site at www. nypost. com. However, some worry that soon the authorities will block this information as well. What is likely to enable such blocking of information in the future is the Internet-site filtering bill that passed its first reading in the Knesset in February. Attorney and blogger Jonathan Klinger (www. 2jk. org) published a post last week warning of a serious blow to democracy that is likely to result from the bill.

Palestinian minster of interior visits Jenin
Ma’an News Agency 5/13/2008
Jenin - Ma’an - The Palestinian interior minister, Abd Ar-Razaq Al-Yahya, visited the Jenin district in the northern West Bank on Tuesday to find out about the latest security and political updates in the district. Al-Yahya met with security officials in the city’s headquarters during which he was updated on the latest outcomes of the security plan implemented in Jenin. He criticized the Israeli violations and repeated invasions into Palestinian cities, adding "we are determined to impose law and order and to improve the economic situation." [end]

Police suspect Olmert aided bids for government contracts, reports claim
James Orr, The Guardian 5/13/2008
The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, may have acted illegally in helping companies to bid for government contracts, an Israeli newspaper said today. The report in Yediot Ahronot claimed police believe Olmert was involved in serious corrupt business dealings, but contained no specific details. Olmert reportedly received hundreds of thousands of dollars from an American businessman, Morris Talansky, who has been questioned by officers investigating the case. The inquiry, the fifth into Olmert’s conduct since he became prime minister two years ago, has raised serious doubts on whether he should remain in office. Yesterday, police raided Jerusalem’s city hall, searching offices and confiscating documents related to the investigation. The case is understood to cover Olmert’s tenure as mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003 and his subsequent two years as Israel’s minister of industry and trade.

Barak in south: Situation won’t improve tomorrow
Yonat Atlas, YNetNews 5/13/2008
Defense minister visits community in which Israeli woman was killed by Qassam Monday evening, says will work toward expediting fortification works -"It won’t take another eight years, perhaps even less than a year, but the reality (in southern Israel) won’t change tomorrow," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday during a visit to the small community of Yesha, where 70-year-old Kibbutz Gvaram resident Shuli Katz was killed less than 24 hours earlier by a Qassam rocket fired from Gaza. During the visit Barak told the heads of the Eshkol and Sha’ar Hanegev regional councils that the government was working toward achieving calm in the area, adding that he would expedite the fortification of Israel’s southern communities. The residents asked that Barak grant them authorization to privately fortify their homes and be reimbursed once the 2009 State Budget is approved.

New Air Force chief: Complicated challenges ahead of us
Ahiya Raved, YNetNews 5/13/2008
Incoming Air Force chief says ’Israel situated in area full of dangers, risks’ -The State of Israel faces "complicated operational challenges" incoming Air Force chief,Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan said Tuesday in his in his inauguration ceremony. Nehushtan noted that "Israel is situated in a strategically dynamic area full of dangers and risks. Thus, the Iranian regime, for instance, combines venomous rhetoric with actual deeds on the basis of an ideology that denies Israel’s right to exist." The incoming IAF chief also referred to the situation in the north and said that what is occurring in Lebanonis a "worrisome building of (Hizbllah) strength and lack of stability."  He also discussed the Palestinian issue and the terrorism, which he said "continues to ceaselessly hurt Israeli citizens.

Psychologists to test potential judges
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 5/13/2008
The Judicial Appointments Committee Sunday accepted a precedent-setting decision whereby judicial candidates will be interviewed by psychologists, and a psychologist will accompany them during the candidates course at the Institute for Judicial Supplementary Training. The decision regards lawyers who are candidates for judicial appointments. The committee had suggested similar proposals in the past, but they failed to obtain a majority. The decision was a compromise between the judges’ representatives on the committee - who felt that having a psychologist accompany candidates during the course would be sufficient - and the other committee members, including MK Gilad Erdan and Attorney Yuri Guy-Ron, the head of the Israel Bar Association. The latter felt the candidates should undergo professional personality tests.

Knesset, Web sites to negotiate rules regulating talkbacks
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 5/14/2008
The Knesset’s Science and Technology Committee agreed Tuesday to freeze legislation over a proposed "Talkback Law" in order to allow internet Web sites to adopt regulations designed to limit incendiary responses from Web surfers. The bill, which is sponsored by MK Yoel Hasson (Yisrael Beiteinu), passed a preliminary reading, but the legislation process will be frozen so as to allow for negotiations between lawmakers and Web sites. During Tuesday’s committee hearings, the editor of ynet, Yedioth Ahronoth’s flagship internet operation, warned that the law’s passage would lead to the censorship of content provided by Web visitors, including talkbacks, forums, chat rooms, and other. "Talkbacks are a means of expression for the average John Q. Public, who has no other way to express himself," the editor, Yon Feder, said.

Paint the Skies of Occupied Al-Quds Black
Palestine Think Tank 5/13/2008
Participate in painting the skies of Occupied Al-Quds (Jerusalem) with black21,915 (365 days x 60 years) black balloons - Please read and ask your friends to help. It will be a great show of support for a fighting, oppressed and 60 years suffering people. Lutuf - Dear Beloved Friends, Many thanks to our friend, Dr Ahmad Kamal, who passed this info. I’m now contacting you from Nablus, Palestine. I’ve just called the phone number below & talked to Huwayda Arraf, who advised me that they are a group of young people (like me !!) who had the idea & are enthusiastic to make it come true. They expect some difficulties, especially in Jeruslaem, but they are adamant, like all Palestinians (with the exception of the Ramalla gang, of course!). The idea is great. At least we all can put on BLACK clothes on the 15th May. I shall do it, please do it & ask your friends to do it.

Jerusalem Diary: Monday 12 May
Tim Franks, MIFTAH 5/13/2008
’AND HERE I AM 60 YEARS LATER’To get to Ali Abu Zour’s living quarters, you have to fold yourself into an improbable shape, and stoop-crawl-walk through the square hole in the back of his shop. Once we had reached the bare room next to the kitchen, we decided it would be better to go back to the shop: just as comfortable, and he might not lose any passing business, as we talked. Outside was the glare and the noise of the main market drag of Balata refugee camp, close to Nablus. Inside Mr Abu Zour’s shop, the light was dull and greyish, the shelves filled with dusty packets of soap powder and floor cleaner. On a plastic stool by his side, sat Mr Abu Zour’s youngest son, 14-year-old Mohammed. He grinned toothily as his father produced his ID card from 60 years ago. In the photo, Ali may have been wearing a jacket and tie where Mohammed was now wearing a black t-shirt. But other than that, the two boys were indistinguishable - replete with quiff, searching eyes, and large front teeth.

VIDEO - Actor Jon Voight: God gave this land to the Jewish people
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 5/14/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for May 13, 2008. Academy Award winning actor Jon Voight is currently in Israel to express his fervent support for the Jewish people and his opposition to exchanging land for peace with the Palestinians. On Tuesday, Voight visited Sderot, the western Negev town that suffers regular Qassam rockets strikes from the Gaza Strip. On Monday, he met with terror victims, and welcomed a group of children brought to Israel through Chabad’s Children of Chernobyl program. Voight is best known for his breakthrough role in Midnight Cowboy in 1969, and his parts in 1970s films including Deliverance and The Champ. These days however, he may be even better known for being the father of Angelina Jolie.

Einstein: Nothing ’chosen’ about the Jews, Bible ’childish’ legends
Bradley Burston, Ha’aretz 5/14/2008
Albert Einstein, writing in 1954, dismissed Judaism and other religions as "an incarnation of the most childish superstitions," though he said he gladly belonged to the Jewish people and felt a deep affinity for the Jews’ "mentality," excerpts published on Tuesday showed. Einstein also said he saw nothing "chosen" about the Jews, and that they were no better than other peoples "although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. "The renowned physicist, who died a little more than a year after writing the letter, also had tough words for God and the Bible, according to the text published by the British The Guardian daily. "The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish," the letter was quoted as saying.

Tom Cruise, Ben Stiller wish Israel happy anniversary
Ariel Zilberm, Ha’aretz 5/14/2008
Tom Cruise, Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, and Kirk and Michael Douglas make up a list of some of the Hollywood glitterati that beginning Tuesday can be seen on giant screens in New York’s Times Square sending Independence Day greetings on the 60th anniversary of Israel’s establishment. The clip, which will run every hour on the hour on four large display panels, features each celebrity appearing on their own for a few seconds. "We’re aware of the influence that [the celebrities] filmed in the clip have on so many people around the world," said Asi Shariv, Israel’s Consul General in New York. "Their connection with Israel is an important part of our efforts to tell the Israeli story to a young, Western audience that does not take an interest in the [Mideast] conflict.

2,100-year-old Isaiah Scroll on rare public display for two months
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 5/13/2008
For the past 40 years, the 2,100-year-old Isaiah Scroll has been kept in a dark room with temperature and humidity controls, far from the public eye. A few days ago, in honor of Israel’s 60th anniversary, the Israel Museum put the parchment scroll on display in the Shrine of the Book - for two months only. This is the only complete scroll among the 220 biblical scrolls, known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered at Qumran. The scroll, whose message became "a foundation stone for humanity," according to Dr. Adolfo Roitman, director of the Shrine of the Book and curator of the Dead Sea Scrolls, was removed from display in 1967 after only two years, for fear it would disintegrate. Many scholars believe it was copied from an even more ancient scroll by the Essenes, a Jewish monastic sect from the Second Temple period.

Bank of Israel minutes pressure shekel-dollar rate
Erez Wollberg, Globes Online 5/13/2008
Globally, traders are long on the dollar for the first time in years. The shekel strengthened further against the dollar and euro in trading this morning. The shekel-dollar rate now trades around the technical support level of NIS 3. 40/$, the level at the time of the announcement by the Bank of Israelof its intention to intervene in trading earlier this year. The shekel-dollar rate fell 0. 64% in interbank trading this morning to NIS 3. 427/$, and the shekel-euro rate fell 0. 58% to NIS 5. 304/€. The shekel will now be more attractive to foreign investors, given that the minutes from the recent Bank of Israel monetary policy meeting published yesterday gave a clear hint of Governor of the Bank Stanley Fischer’s determination to raise the interest rate as much as necessary to halt inflation. Last month’s decision to leave the interest rate unchanged at 3.

Lebanon army set to use force to halt fighting
Middle East Online 5/13/2008
BEIRUT - Lebanese troops were set to use force if necessary on Tuesday to disarm gunmen and enforce law and order after six days of deadly sectarian gunbattles that have thrown the nation into fear and chaos. The military had said that as of 6:00 am (0300 GMT) its troops were ready to resort to force to bring an end to the violence pitting supporters of the government against members of the Hezbollah-led opposition. The fighting, which has left at least 61 people dead and scores more wounded, is the worst sectarian unrest since the 1975-1990 civil war and had stoked fears the country was headed for another all-out conflict. Fierce battles erupted for about a half hour overnight between forces loyal to the government and pro-Hezbollah Alawites in the northern port city of Tripoli but by early Tuesday troops were reinforcing their presence in affected areas.

Hariri vows March 14 leaders ’will not surrender’
Daily Star 5/14/2008
Parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri vowed on Tuesday that the Western-backed ruling coalition would not negotiate with Hizbullah "with a gun pointed at our heads. "Meanwhile, the commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), General Michel Suleiman, said the country has witnessed in the past few days a "civil war that no national army can put an end to or take part in." During a news conference at his residence in Qoraytem, Hariri said the government "will not surrender to Hizbullah’s allies, Syria and Iran. ""They are asking Beirut to raise white flags and they are asking Saad Hariri, [head of the Democratic Gathering MP] Walid Jumblatt and the March 14 majority to agree to the return of the Syrian regime in Lebanon or hand over decision-making to the Syrian and Iranian regimes," Hariri said. "This is totally impossible.

Saudi Arabia warns Iran over deadly fighting in Lebanon
Daily Star 5/14/2008
The effects of the Lebanese political crisis rippled out across the Middle East on Tuesday, with Saudi Arabia warning Iran that it could face renewed ostracism if it had a hand in theviolence that has shaken Beirut and other parts of Lebanon over the past week. "Iran’s relations with all Arab countries - or even all Islamic countries - will be affected if it supported the coup that took place in Lebanon," Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said, referring to inter-party clashes that included a brief takeover of loyalist offices in western Beirut by Hizbullah and its allies. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not directly respond to Prince Saud’s comment, at first questioning whether he had been correctly quoted and then declining to comment "out of respect for [Saudi] King Abdullah. "He added, however, that if the Saudi foreign minister had made the remarks attributed to him, they must have been uttered "in anger.

Washington rallies behind embattled Lebanese government
Khody Akhavi, Electronic Lebanon, Electronic Intifada 5/12/2008
WASHINGTON, 12 May (IPS) - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pledged her administration’s support for the Lebanese government Friday in the aftermath of Hizballah’s takeover of West Beirut, accusing the Iranian-backed group of "killing innocent civilians" in a bid to "protect their state-within-a-state." Three days of intense clashes between government and opposition supporters last week left at least 18 people dead and 38 wounded. As the guns fell silent over the city on Friday, so had the broadcasting signal of Future Movement Saad Hariri’s media operations. Hizballah seized television, radio, and print offices, tightened their grip on the airport, and remained in control of other areas, including the Bekaa Valley. By Monday, fighting between pro-government Sunni Muslim gunmen and militiamen allied to Hizballah had spread to the northern city of Tripoli, bringing the overall toll to at least 81 dead and about 250 wounded.

Bush warns Syria, Iran over Lebanon violence
AFP, YNetNews 5/13/2008
US president reaffirms Washington’s support for PM Siniora, says ’I strongly condemn Hizbullah’s recent efforts, and those of their foreign sponsors in Tehran and Damascus, to use violence, intimidation to bend the government and people of Lebanon to their will’ - US President George W. Bush Monday warned Iran and Syria that the international community would not allow Lebanon to fall under foreign domination again, as he vowed to shore up the Lebanese army. Bush reaffirmed Washington’s support for Prime Minister Fouad Siniora amid deadly violence pitting mainly Sunni supporters of the government and militants loyal to the Shiite Hizbullah-led opposition. "I strongly condemn Hizbullah’s recent efforts, and those of their foreign sponsors in Tehran and Damascus, to use violence and intimidation to bend the government and people of

Saudi FM says both Nasrallah, Ariel Sharon invaded Beirut
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 5/13/2008
’Hizbullah leader, former Israel PM both invaded Beirut,’ Prince Saud Al-Faisal tells Arab League conference, adding ’Iran is managing this war and Hizbullah is looking to impose Islamic rule on all of Lebanon’ - "(Hizbullah leader Hassan) Nasrallah is like (former Israeli Prime Minister) Ariel Sharon - they both invaded Beirut," Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal said during a recent Arab League conference in Cairo on the sectarian violence in Lebanon. Al-Faisal was referring to the first Lebanon war, during which Sharon served as Israel’s defense minister. The Saudi FM’s comments were published Tuesday by Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar. "The legitimate government in Lebanon is being subjected to an all-out war. We, the Arab world cannot stand idly by as this happens," he was quoted as saying.

Behind Beirut’s Sport City
Rami Zurayk writing from Beirut, Live from Lebanon, Electronic Intifada 5/13/2008
Najwa cleans the houses of the rich in Beirut. She lives with her son in the limbo spreading between the Stadium (Cite Sportive) and the Sabra Palestinian camp. Sociologists often refer to the Palestinian camps in Lebanon as a "space of exclusion": the laws governing life in the camps are different from those governing life in the rest of Lebanon. Najwa’s neighborhood is an exclusion from the exclusion: no laws apply there. Najwa’s one-room house has been put together from various materials: a bit of cement, some wood, and a couple of glass windows. Electricity and running water are occasional guests. There is a small platform in front of the house where she keeps plants in old powdered milk containers. She sits there sometimes in the evenings after a day’s work and talks to her neighbors. They have drifted in from all over the place.

IRAQ: Government negligent in tackling human displacement - MP
IRCS, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 5/13/2008
Iraqi Red Cresent Society staff hand out supplies to displaced families in Babil Province. Iraq’s displacement problem dates back nearly 25 yearsBAGHDAD, 13 May 2008 (IRIN) - The problem of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and Iraqi refugees in neighbouring countries is likely to grow into a regional and international problem because the government appears to have no clear policy to tackle it, a member of parliament (MP) said on 12 May. "The government’s obvious inability to solve the problem of IDPs and refugees could lead to serious regional and international problems, as there is no clear and comprehensive policy to get them back into their homes," MP Abdul-Khaliq Zankana, head of parliament’s Displacement and Migration Committee, said. "These problems will hit Iraqi security and society. The absence of support and appropriate solutions will leave them easy prey to militias. . .

Al-Sadr ceasefire allows troops to enter Shia slum
Patrick Cockburn in Arbil, The Independent 5/13/2008
The anti-American Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is the great survivor of Iraqi politics. In a tactical retreat he yesterday authorised a ceasefire under which the Iraqi army, but not US troops, will enter the great Shia slum of Sadr City in Baghdad while Mr Sadr’s Mehdi Army militia will stop firing rockets and mortars into the fortified Green Zone. The ceasefire agreement is intended to end seven weeks of fighting in which more than 1,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed during US-backed Iraqi government offensives against Mehdi Army strongholds in Basra and Baghdad. The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has emerged strengthened by his confrontation with the Mehdi Army, but the Sadrists survive to fight another day. "We have agreed on a ceasefire and to end displaying arms in public," said Salah al-Obeidi, spokesman for Mr Sadr.

Violence erupts in Sadr City
Al Jazeera 5/13/2008
At least 11 people have been killed and 20 others wounded after US troops and Shia fighters clashed in Baghdad’s Sadr City, hospital officials have said, despite a truce being agreed at the weekend. The US military on Tuesday confirmed clashes had taken place but said only three fighters had been killed. The fighting erupted late on Monday, just hours after Iraq’s main Shia political bloc and supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army signed a cease-fire with the hope of ending seven weeks of violence in the city. Women and children were among the wounded, hospital officials said. Splinter groups - It is not clear if those killed in the clashes were fighters or civilians. US soldiers used tanks and aircraft to "suppress enemy fire’’ in four other clashes, the military said. The military said that fighters had staged several attacks on US forces in Sadr City and elsewhere.

Former US official claims Iraq corruption sham
Middle East Online 5/13/2008
WASHINGTON - A former senior US official in Iraq on Monday accused the State Department of recklessly misleading Americans over the country’s plight and contributing to the deaths and maiming of US soldiers. Retired judge Arthur Brennan alleged that poor performance by the department had led to the loss of billions of dollars, and warned some of the money could be funding outlaws, or insurgents, including the Mehdi Army. Brennan, who served in 2007 as Director of the Office of Accountability and Transparency, at the US embassy in Baghdad, testified before a Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearing, which no Republicans attended. He accused the State Department of failing in its mission to thwart widespread corruption in Iraq, and said its policies had instead allowed corruption to fester. "The actual policies and performance of the State Department in Iraq were not what they are represented to be," he said, his voice shaking with emotion.

Suspects in Iran blast ’confess’ to Western help
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/14/2008
TEHRAN: Iran said on Tuesday it had arrested 12 people over a deadly mosque bombing in April in the southern city of Shiraz who had confessed to being trained and financed by the United States and Britain. "So far 12 people involved in this terrorist incident have been arrested, who are the main agents," judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi said, vowing that those convicted would be sentenced to the "harshest punishment. ""The arrested people. . . clearly confessed to having links with foreigners, especially the UK and the United States," he told a news conference. "They had received training from foreigners to make bombs. It has become clear and transparent through bank accounts that foreigners gave financial support to the terrorists. These things have become clear and they admitted to these things. "Jamshidi said the detainees had been arrested with explosives and bomb-making material. . .

Pro-McCain pastor apologizes to Catholics comments about Jews
ASSOCIATED PRESS, Jerusalem Post 5/14/2008
John Hagee, an influential Texas televangelist who endorsed Republican presidential candidate John McCain, apologized to Catholics on Tuesday for his stinging criticism of the Roman Catholic Church and for having "emphasized the darkest chapters in the history of Catholic and Protestant relations with the Jews. "Hagee’s support for McCain has drawn cries of outrage from some Catholic leaders who have called on McCain to reject Hagee’s endorsement. The likely Republican nominee has said he does not agree with some of Hagee’s past comments, but did not reject his support. In a letter to William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights, Hagee wrote: "Out of a desire to advance a greater unity among Catholics and evangelicals. . ."


Gaza: The children killed in a war the world doesn’t want to know about
Donald Macintyre In Rafah, The Independent 5/13/2008
      Nayef Abu Snaima says his 14-year-old cousin Jihad had been sitting on the edge of an olive grove talking animatedly to him about what he would do when he grew up when he was killed instantly by an Israeli shell.
     He says he clearly saw a bright flash next to the control tower of the disused Gaza international airport, occupied by Israeli forces after Cpl Gilad Shalit was seized by militants on 25 June. "I went two or three steps and the missile landed," said Nayef, 24. "I thought I was dying. I shouted ’La Ilaha Ila Allah’ [There is no God but Allah]."
     When Jihad’s older brother Kassem, 20, arrived at the scene: "My brother was already dead. There was shrapnel in his head. Nayef was shouting ’Allah, Allah’. The missile landed about four metres from where Jihad had been standing. There was shrapnel in his body as well, his legs, everything."

Our key still works

Kristen Ess, Palestine News Network 5/13/2008
      For the 60 year memorial of Al Nakba, I have been interviewing elderly refugees for months, people who remember their villages and towns, who talk about their old lives and the new ones they have etched out in the camps.
     However on Monday I sat in the bedroom of a 21 year old refugee named Ghassan. His walls are covered with the posters of the killed from Deheisha Refugee Camp, the imprisoned and dead leaders of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the leftist party of which he is a member.
     And there is a poster of the late President Yasser Arafat. I learn later that this is more out of the same type of reverence that most Palestinians hold in their hearts for Abu Ammar, not out of respect for his disastrous political negotiations such as Olso and Camp David.
     "My room here is full of the pictures of the martyrs from the camp. I lived with them, saw them, saw what they did, how they lived, how their situations were and their actions when they were still here. I saw how they were trying to send a message to the Israelis, to the Israeli people. This is a room of life and death. We love life, but we also say no when we see the martyrs. And when there was revolution and they were carrying guns and they stood in front of a tank and shot at it, I asked a question. ‘Why are you shooting at a tank? .."

More Violence, Another History Suppressed

Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 5/13/2008
      The historic grounds of Safuriyah are virtually indistinguishable from the surrounding countryside. In 1948, the village, which was then larger than Nazareth, was razed to the ground by Jewish soldiers, all of its residents displaced. On May 8, thousands of demonstrators gathered there to demand Palestinians’ internationally-recognized right of return.
     Cars and busses from all over the country lined the shoulders of Highway 79. Thousands of activists filed out of their vehicles waving banners and Palestinian flags. They marched up the grassy hill and converged near the wooded area at the top, chanting "No alternative to the right of return!" The procession halted in a small clearing in the woods, which could barely hold the thousands of us present. A stage and a few dozen chairs had been set up there. As the speeches commenced, the voices of our orators were noticeably marred by the hum of a helicopter overhead.
     The crowd eventually began making its way back through the woods to the highway. A phalanx of riot police stood pompously along the asphalt, sunglasses donned, guns at the ready. Some rode horses up and down the file as though trying to measure up the adversary they were about to face.

Shame, Sorrow and Revolt

Tariq Ramadan, Middle East Online 5/13/2008
      At the Turin Book Fair, Israel and freedom of expression are the victims. The Palestinians have ceased to exist, their oppression, their suffering erased. Gaza is being stifled, blockaded, transformed into an open-air prison, a ghetto; starvation stalks the land. What do we hear? Nothing.
     The Turin Book Fair opened, against a background of bitter dispute. Israel is this year’s guest of honor.
     We are told: “Culture and politics must not be mixed.” “To boycott the Fair is to deny Israel’s existence, to seek its destruction and disappearance.” We’ve heard it all before.
     In response to the boycott appeal, the President of Italy opened the Fair in person on Thursday, May 8. It was not a political but a cultural gesture, we are told. Of course! Meanwhile, the accusations fly, hot and heavy. Israel’s ambassador to Italy has saluted the President’s action as a refusal to knuckle under to the diktat of those who, in boycotting the Fair, “seek to deprive Israel of its legitimacy.” In posing as victim, the ambassador may well be the only one to grasp the true political implications of the President’s decision. Dark irony, indeed.

Time is Running Out for Israel, Atzmon’s report of the Nakba commemoration event

Gilad Atzmon, Palestine Think Tank 5/13/2008
      Something positive is happening, I would even call it a shift of awareness, a realisation that the Palestinian struggle is leading somewhere after all.
     Yesterday, at Exeter University, to a very crowded theatre, in an event of that was a commemoration of 60 years of the Nakba, I had a chance to listen to Dr Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian Ambassador to Britain. I may as well say it, Palestinian eloquence cheers me up and fills me with hope and pride and Dr Hassassian has plenty of it.
     These days it is rather rare to hear or see a  PLO spokesman who lets his fierceness and rage be seen. The Ambassador was angry, he was furious, yet, at the same time, astonishingly measured and considered.
     "Enough is enough", was his message. He admitted that twenty years of negotiation with the Israelis led his people nowhere. America is not a true honest negotiator and this may not change in the near future. America and Israel have locked themselves into a Catholic marriage, they can have a spat, sometimes they do not talk for weeks but somehow, they always stay together.

Gaza residents queue overnight for cooking gas

Rami Almeghari writing from occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 5/13/2008
      As the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip enters its 11th month, the population’s living conditions further deteriorate, with scores of people in different parts of the coastal region lining up in front of gas stations to receive provisions of cooking gas, a scarce commodity over the past four weeks.
     In eastern Gaza City at Abu Jebba station, one of the largest suppliers of cooking gas, 21-year-old Gaza resident Anwar Harazeen waited from 3:00 am until 11:00 am last Friday for his share of cooking gas while his 12-member family waited at home.
     "We have been living without cooking gas for more than a week now; we cook and heat tea and milk on wood-burning stoves. The situation is really miserable. I swear I have been waiting for my share of gas since three o’clock in the morning, while others have been here since 10 o’clock last night. What shall we do? We need a solution," said Harazeen wearily.
     Along with Harazeen were many adults and children sitting with their empty gas canisters with the hope they would return home with some gas for their needy families.

Four Days of Transformation in Lebanon

Rami G. Khouri, Middle East Online 5/13/2008
      BEIRUT -- Events in Beirut and other parts of Lebanon continue to move erratically, with simultaneous gestures of political compromise and armed clashes that have left more than 20 killed in the past week. The consequences of what has happened in the past week may portend an extraordinary but constructive new development: the possible emergence of the first American-Iranian joint political governance system in the Arab World. Maybe.
     If Lebanon shifts from street clashes to the hoped-for political compromise through a renewed national dialogue process, it will have a national unity government whose two factions receive arms, training, funds and political support from both the United States and Iran. Should this happen, an unspoken American-Iranian political condominium in Lebanon could prove to be key to power-sharing and stability in other parts of the region, such as Palestine, Iraq and other hot spots. This would also mark a huge defeat for the United States and its failed diplomatic approach that seeks to confront, battle and crush the Islamist-nationalists throughout the region.

New reality has taken over

Zvi Bar''el, Ha’aretz 5/13/2008
      "The army should enter the governmental palace and remove [Lebanese Prime Minister] Fouad Siniora," Wiam Wahab, a Druze member of parliament allied with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, declared yesterday.
     "This demand is Hezbollah’s immediate goal, and it will not retreat from it," agreed an associate of Christian General Michel Aoun, another Nasrallah ally, in a conversation with Haaretz. "This government’s days are numbered. One can imagine 1,000 proposals for resolving the crisis, with involvement by the Arab League, religious scholars or anyone who wants to deal with this crisis, but Siniora’s removal, the establishment of a national unity government in which the opposition has a veto, and amending the election law are our [Aoun’s] and Hezbollah’s minimum demands."
     A few hours later, Aoun reiterated these demands publicly.The Christian general’s announcement came in response to a statement by former Lebanese president Amin Gemayel, head of a rival Christian party that belongs to the governing coalition: "Hezbollah must promise that it will never again aim its weapons inside Lebanon."

Iran: ‘Biggest Single Threat’ to Mideast Peace?

Jalal Alavi, Middle East Online 5/13/2008
      What do Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel have in common? One thing is for certain: they are both true reflections of the neoconservative rise in US foreign policy, which itself was a result of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, which razed the Twin Towers in New York and parts of the Pentagon. While the rise of Ahmadinejad to the presidency of Iran in 2005 was in many ways related to George W. Bush’s 2002 State of the Union Address, in which he labeled Iran a member of the “axis of evil” (thus effectively playing into the hands of Iranian extremists opposed to any sort of reform, democratization, or renewed relations with the United States), the potential rise of Netanyahu (a staunch opponent of the Peace Process and a campaigner for US military strikes on Iran) to the premiership of Israel (as a result of Ehud Olmert’s imminent resignation) will in major part be a result of the neoconservative bolstering of extremist factions in and outside Israel. Should this latter scenario be the actual outcome of Israel’s next general election, it will undoubtedly bring about not only the gradual isolation of the proponents of peace throughout Israel and beyond, but also the total failure of the Middle East Peace Process initiated by the collective efforts of Anwar Sadat of Egypt, Menachim Begin of Israel, and the Carter administration in September of 1978.

Priority: Statehood

Daoud Kuttab, MIFTAH 5/13/2008
      In the spring of 1948, my father, George Kuttab, and his brother Qostandi fled Musrara, a Jerusalem neighborhood just outside the walled city, after their sister Hoda’s husband was killed in front of her and their children. When Dad used to tell us about the Naqba, the catastrophe that befell Palestinians in 1948, he never talked politics or hatred. He would laugh as he told us how his brother secured their home near Damascus Gate. To assure his mother and brother that the house (in what is now Israeli west Jerusalem) would be safe, my uncle joked that he had double-locked the door, turning the heavy metal key twice. He took that key with him to Zarqa, Jordan, expecting to be able to use it again one day.
     As Palestinians look back on the 60 years since they became refugees and Israelis celebrate the 60th anniversary of their statehood, it is important to take stock of Palestinian aspirations.
     Our family took refuge from the Arab-Israeli war in 1948, but only my uncle had a U.N.-issued refugee card allowing him rations. No one in my family lived in tents or refugee camps; even if we are technically refugees, I do not pretend to understand that particular part of the refugee tragedy. I do, however, understand the aspiration of Palestinians to return to their homes. Palestinians’ inalienable right to return is sacred and must be honored. How politicians implement this right is negotiable. But regardless of what terms are reached, the Palestinian public must be able to vote in a referendum on the proposed deal.

Iqbal Tamimi - ''Get-the-BLOG outta here.'' Obstacles facing women journalists

Iqbal Tamimi, Palestine Think Tank 5/13/2008
      I have been asked many times why I switched to blogging after slaving for many years in journalism in the Middle East.
     Many obstacles face women journalists in the Middle East, but on top of the list comes dedicated male efforts to exclude females from acquiring serious decision-making positions like that of Editor-in-Chief. Some still can’t swallow the idea of taking directions from a compass held by a woman.
     Should the miracle happen, and a woman has been assigned to a leading role "˜in showing the civilized world that we have contracted the virus of Globalization’; the pen of such a woman would be connected immediately by a thin transparent thread to the chair of a male, not necessarily qualified to direct a rain drop falling by the law of gravity. The female journalist would be the boss all right...but on paper only. This point might explain the 0% share in union leadership Algeria, Lebanon and Palestine for women.

Jimmy Carter’s Mid East Lesson

Tommaso Di Francesco, translated by Diego Traversa, Palestine Think Tank 5/13/2008
      The diverging international reactions to former American President Jimmy Carter’s initiative in the Palestinian Occupied Territories and the attention it is receiving from the Arab and Muslim world underscores a fact that has been ignored in Italy and Europe.
     Indeed, what we’re facing is the arrival at an original and unique diplomatic crossroad, the only one that can by now let in some light in the dark Middle East night.
     Jimmy Carter, who was awarded with the Nobel Prize for his commitment in the Egyptian-Israeli peace process with the historical Camp David Accords in 1978, has wilfully decided to start working on a peace negotiation again through direct talks with Hamas, the Palestinian religious extremist and national movement which is opposed to any compromise with occupying Israel.