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

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13 June 200

Outrage over Jerusalem housing plan
Al Jazeera 6/13/2008
The planned development would double the size of the Ramat Shlomo neighbourhood - Palestinian officials have expressed outrage at Israeli plans to build about 2,000 new housing units in occupied east Jerusalem. Israel’s interior ministry said on Friday that 1,300 apartments had been approved for construction in the Ramat Shlomo neighbourhood, almost doubling the size of the settlement there. Sabine Hadad, Israel’s interior ministry spokeswoman, said the new homes were needed to help alleviate a housing shortage in east Jerusalem. An application for permission to build another 700 units in Ramat Shlomo is still being considered by Jerusalem’s city council. Palestinians officials said that the continued expansion of Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank made it increasingly difficult to persuade their people that they should negotiate with Israel.

Three Hamas fighters killed in Israeli air strike on Jabalia
Ma’an News Agency 6/13/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Three Palestinian activists affiliated to Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades were killed on Friday morning and two others were injured in an Israeli air strike against a group of fighters near Abu Bakr As-Siddiq mosque in Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. Mu’awiya Hassanein, director of Ambulance and Emergency Services in the Palestinian Ministry of Health, identified the dead activists as Mustafa Al-Batsh, Mousa Hamoudeh and Mahmoud Khadir. He said that the corpses were transferred to Kamal Udwan Hospital, as well as the two injured fighters. In a separate development, an unidentified Palestinian citizen died on Friday from injuries sustained in Thursday’s explosion at the Hamoudeh family home in Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza. Hassanein affirmed that the death toll from the Beit Lahiya explosion rose to eight after the unidentified man died from his wounds on Friday morning.

VIDEO - ’Jewish settler attack’ on film
Tim Franks, BBC Online 6/12/2008
BBC News, Jerusalem - Footage from a video camera handed out by an Israeli human rights group appears to show Jewish settlers beating up Palestinians in the West Bank. An elderly shepherd, his wife and a nephew said they were attacked by four masked men for allowing their animals to graze near the settlement of Susia. The rights group, B’Tselem, said the cameras were provided to enable Palestinians to get proof of attacks. A spokesman for the Israeli police said that an investigation was under way. So far, no-one has been arrested. Baseball bats - For the past year, B’Tselem has handed out video cameras to Palestinians as part of its "Shooting Back" project. The Palestinians said they were attacked after refusing to move. . .

During weekly nonviolent Palestinian demo against Wall, Israeli forces attack
Najib Farrag, Palestine News Network 6/13/2008
Bethlehem -- The nonviolent Palestinian demonstration began as usual at the Boys’ School in southern Bethlehem’s Umm Salamuna Village. The People’s Campaign against the Apartheid Wall was hosting the event with 200 participants, among them foreign supporters. All were waving Palestinian flags, or banners with slogans such as "end oppression," "stop the occupation," and "tear down the wall. "Or they were chanting. One of the Palestinian flags was 80 meters long. As the march roamed the village streets and toward the site of land confiscation for the Wall, Israeli soldiers stood with machine guns, rolls of barbed wire and jeeps. The Israelis attacked the nonviolent crowd using sticks and rifle butts. Five people are severely injured, with fractured and crush bones. The media spokesperson for the committee said that Israeli forces routinely meet the nonviolent. . .

Left-wing activists, settlers clash in Hebron
Anat Shalev, YNetNews 6/13/2008
Leftist group’s tour in West Bank city comes to abrupt end after dozens of right-wing activists, settlers block bus’ way. Security concerns prompt police to cancel tour’s permit - Right and Left butt head in Hebron:A tour of the West Bank city of Hebron, organized Friday by the Breaking the Silence group, was cut short after settlers stopped the bus in its tracks upon entering the city. Security concerns then prompted the police to cancel the tour’s permit. No injuries or damage were reported, and no arrests were made. Though authorized by both the police and the IDF, the tour met several dozen right-wing settlers, as well as extreme-right activists Itamar Ben Gvir, Baruch Marzel and Noam Federman, which literally stood before the bus at the entryway to Kiryat Arba, for approximately two hours.

Hamas claims responsibility for deadly blast in Gaza house
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 6/14/2008
Hamas on Friday claimed responsibility for an explosion a day earlier in a house in northern Gaza that killed seven Palestinians, one of them an infant girl. An announcement Friday on the official Web site of Hamas’ military wing says the group’s martyrs died while putting the final touches on a plan to carry out a special holy war mission. Five militants were among those who died in the explosion that flattened the house Thursday. Immediately after the blast, Hamas blamed Israel, and militants in Gaza launched a barrage of rockets and mortar shells at the western Negev in apparent response. But Israel denied involvement and said explosion was caused while militants were making bombs. The militant group later suggested the explosion was accidental. Friday’sstatement was the first explicit acknowledgment that the blast was caused by explosives in the house.

Hamas to decide on lull by next week
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 6/13/2008
Head of Defense Ministry’s Security-Diplomatic Bureau meets with Egyptian intelligence minister in last-ditch effort to reach ceasefire between Israel, Gaza militias, prior to final Israeli decision on Gaza operation. Hamas to give answer within few days - Waiting for Hamas:Brigadier-General (Ret. ) Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry’s Security-Diplomatic Bureau returned from Egypt Thursday night, where he and Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman, held another round of talks regarding concerning a possible ceasefire between Israel and the militant groups in Gaza. Israeli defense establishment believes Hamas response to the Israeli offer will be relayed next week. Gilad reiterated Israel’s demands regarding the tahadiya - the temporary truce: Israel requires any truce in the Gaza Strip to include a total halt in terrorist and smuggling activity and the return of kidnapped IDF soldierGilad Shalit.

’Israel Lobby’ authors get rough ride at university in Occupied Jerusalem
The Daily Star, Daily Star 6/14/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Two prominent US professors who caused an uproar with a best-selling book critical of the powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington faced a raucous reception Thursday at one of Israel’s most prestigious universities. About 200 students and faculty members crammed into a lecture hall at the Hebrew University in Occupied Jerusalem and grilled John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt for more than two hours about their findings in "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy," published last year. In the book, the pair argue that pro-Israel special interest groups have manipulated the US political system to promote policies that favor Israel, while running counter to American interests. They argue Israel is often a strategic burden, not an asset, pointing to the 1991 Gulf War as an example, when the Israel-US alliance hindered the US in building a coalition of forces.

Palestinian child killed by errant fire during Gaza funeral procession
Ma’an News Agency 6/13/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - A Palestinian child was killed on Friday afternoon after he was hit by a bullet fired in the air during a funeral procession in the Shuja’iyya neighbourhood in eastern Gaza City. Palestinian medical sources told Ma’an that 5-year-old ’Ubeida Habib died from head injuries sustained during the funeral procession of one of the Hamas fighters killed in an Israeli air strike on the Jabalia refugee camp earlier on Friday. [end]

Gaza death toll climbs to 14 with three Hamas deaths
Deutsche Presse Agentur - DPA, ReliefWeb 6/12/2008
Gaza/Tel Aviv_(dpa) _The death toll from violence in Gaza climbed to 14 by late Thursday after an Israeli air attack killed three members of the radical Islamic Hamas organization, a Palestinian hospital spokesman in Gaza said. Earlier in the day, seven Palestinians died in an unexplained explosion in the house of a Hamas bomb-maker in the northern Gaza Strip that wounded more than two dozen others, medical officials and witnesses said. The earlier death toll from the explosion had been reported as four. Earlier Thursday, Israeli troops killed two Palestinian gunmen in the Gaza Strip identified as members of the armed wing of the Fatah movement and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. A military spokeswoman in Tel Aviv said soldiers stationed on the border spotted the two gunmen approaching the fence and opened fire.

Al Khader village protest the Israeli illegal Wall
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/13/2008
At least 150 Palestinians from the village of Al Khader located near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem along with Israeli and international supporters protested the Israeli wall on Friday that is being built on the village lands. The protest started with midday prayers held on the settler road near the village, then speechs were delivered by local organizers. Samier Jaber of the local committee against the Wall and settlement encouraged the farmers to continue their resistance against the wall to save their lands from destruction. Palestinian exports say that the ongoing Israeli occupation extends settlements on private Palestinian land, and constructs the Apartheid Wall that separate Palestinians from one another and from their farming/working areas. This converts the Palestinian land into separated enclaves that don’t have the basic economic structures that enable people to survive with dignity and ambition.

Five protestors injured, one solidarity activist seized in anti-wall demonstration near Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 6/13/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces attacked a peaceful protest against the separation wall held in the village of Al-Ma’sara, south of Bethlehem, on Friday afternoon, injuring five of the demonstrators and arresting a foreign solidarity activist. The demonstration was organized by the Popular Campaign for Resisting the Separation Wall in the Bethlehem district and attended by local residents from Al-Ma’sara and the neighboring villages of Um Salamouna, Jurat Ash-Sham’a and Marah Ma’alla, along with international and Israeli solidarity activists. The demonstrators raised an 80-meter-long Palestinian flag as an expression of their demand for Palestinian unity. They called on the Palestinian factions to heal the rifts between them and unite to confront the Israeli plans aimed at establishing Palestinian cantons surrounded by the separation wall instead of an independent Palestinian state.

Three protesters injured in weekly anti-wall protest in Bil’in
Ma’an News Agency 6/13/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces injured three demonstrators with rubber-coated metal bullets at the weekly protest against the separation wall in Bil’in, west of Ramallah, on Friday, and fired tear gas at dozens of protesters. After noon prayers on Friday, Bil’in residents marched together with international and Israeli solidarity activists towards the separation wall. The demonstrators carried Palestinian flags and banners calling for national unity, as well as placards demanding the removal of the Israeli wall and settlements, and an end to the closure in the West Bank and the blockade on Gaza. Immediately after the protesters reached the gate in the wall, Israeli soldiers showered them with tear gas and rubber-coated metal bullets. Scores of protesters were treated for tear gas inhalation. Israeli activist Lee Lorian was injured by a rubber-coated metal bullet in. . .

VIDEO - Ibrahim Burnat shot by live ammunition in Bil’in
Friends of Bil''in, International Solidarity Movement 6/13/2008
Bil’in Village - Video - Today a young man from Bilin was shot with live rounds during the weekly Bilin Protest. Ibrahim Burnat who was shot in his right thigh was taken directly to Sheik Zaid Hospital in Ramallah and was described by doctors as being in critical condition. Ibrahim posed no threat to Israeli soldiers who shot him with live rounds simply for attempting to scale the Apartheid Wall as a symbolic gesture against the ongoing illegal occupation. The protesters were shot with tear gas, rubber coated steel bullets, and finally live ammunition as the protest wound down. One Israeli activist was wounded and another more seriously injured from rubber coated steal bullets. In addition dozens were treated for tear gas inhalation. Locals where joined by international activists this week to protest against the apartheid wall and the expansion of Israeli settlements.

PCHR Weekly Report: 11 Palestinians killed, 25 wounded
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/13/2008
In its weekly summary of Israeli attacks for the week of 5 - 11 June 2008, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) reports 11 Palestinians, including 2 children and an elderly man, killed by Israeli forces, and 25 Palestinians, including 9 children and 5 women, wounded by Israeli forces in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israeli attacks in the West Bank:In the West Bank, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded 9 others, including 4 children and 2 women. On 5 June, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian, when they opened fire at members of two clans who were exchanging fire in the context of a dispute between the two clans in Hebron. On the same day, 4 Palestinian civilians, including a child and 2 women, were wounded when Israeli forces moved into Beit Ummar village, north of Hebron.

Three injured during the weekly Bil’in protest
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/13/2008
Scores of Villagers from Bil’in, located near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, supported by international and Israeli peace activists conducted their weekly nonviolent protest against the illegal Israeli wall built on the village’s land on Friday. The villagers called for the removal of the of the Israeli wall, settlements. Protesters marched towards the location of the Wall which is separating the village from its land. Immediately after the protest reached the gate of the Wall, soldiers showered the protestors with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. Three were injured, amo0ng them was Ibraheem Burnat who was moved to a hospital the seriousness of his injury. [end]

Five injured and one kidnapped in the weekly nonviolent protest in Um Salamunah near Bethlehem
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/13/2008
Five Palestinians were injured and an American peace activist was kidnapped when the Israeli army attacked a peaceful protest organized in the village of Um Salamunah, located near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem on Friday. 150 villagers, international and Israeli peace activists marched in the morning to protest the Israeli illegal wall being built on land owned by the villagers. Local sources said that as soon as the march reached the wall site soldiers fired tear gas and sound bombs, five villagers were injured, soldiers also kidnapped an American man you was marching with the protesters. [end]

Video forces Israeli police to probe attack by settlers
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 6/14/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli police said on Friday they were investigating an attack on Palestinians grazing their sheep near a Jewish settlement in the Occupied West Bank, an incident that was captured on video. "An investigation has been opened. No one has been arrested," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. The incident came to light after BBC television aired footage of an attack by masked men who appeared to have come from a nearby settlement. The men are seen brandishing baseball bats and are alleged to have brutally beaten an elderly shepherd and his wife who were grazing their flock in the hills outside the occupied West Bank town of Hebron, near the Susia settlement. The footage was taken by a relative using one of 100 small video cameras the Israeli B’Tselem human-rights groups handed out to Palestinians so they can record proof of attacks.

Palestinian woman films masked men attacking W. Bank farmers
Reuters, Ha’aretz 6/14/2008
The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem released a video on Friday which it said showed the start of anassault on Palestinian farmers by masked, stick-wielding Israeli settlers. The footage shows four people with faces swathed in scarves and holding sticks, approaching the farmers near Susya settlement outside Hebron in the West Bank. One strikes a blow before the camera is dropped. B’Tselem said the woman who was filming ran for help. Among those hurt in the incident was a 58-year-old woman, the group said. B’Tselem has provided about 100 cameras to Palestinians over the past year in a project called ’Shooting Back’ which attempts to document rights abuses in the West Bank. The Israel Police were investigating the reports of an incident near Susya, but police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said no arrests had been made.

Video shows masked men attacking Palestinian shepherds
Ali Waked, YNetNews 6/13/2008
(Video) Footage obtained by B’Tselem shows Sunday’s assault on four members of Palestinian family near Hebron - VIDEO - Four members of a Palestinian family were assaulted on Sunday as they herding their sheep near the West Bank settlement of Susya in the south Mount Hebron area. The family claimed that the assailants were Jewish settlers. One of the family members filmed the incident with a video camera before fleeing the scene. The footage was obtained by B’Tselem. Video courtesy of B’TselemAccording to Palestinian news agency Wafa, among the victims was a 68-year-old woman who was evacuated to Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center in serious condition. The remaining victims, including the woman’s 70-year-old husband, sustained mild injuries and were treated by IDF paramedics at the scene.

Israeli settlers caught on film beating elderly Palestinian woman
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/13/2008
After an Israeli human rights group handed out small video cameras to Palestinians in the West bank, those cameras have been used to capture a number of attacks that would otherwise have gone unreported. In the latest example, an attack by a group of Israeli settlers on a Palestinian farming family Sunday was filmed, and the video released on the internet. Israeli settlers caught on film beating elderly Palestinian womanAttacks by extremist Israeli Jewish settlers against the indigenous Palestinian population of the West Bank are common, and the incidents have increased as Israeli settlements have expanded on Palestinian land over the last 15 years. In Sunday’s attack, an elderly woman, Thamam al-Nawaja, was herding her family’s sheep when four masked and armed Israeli settlers came running toward her from the settlement of Susia.

Palestinians barred from Dead Sea beaches to ’appease Israeli settlers
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 6/13/2008
Palestinians are being regularly and illegally barred from reaching Dead Sea beaches in the occupied West Bank, according to a Supreme Court petition filed by Israel’s leading civil rights organisation. The Association of Civil Rights (Acri) in Israel is challenging what it says is the frequently imposed ban by the military on Palestinians seeking to swim or relax at beaches in the northern Dead Sea. The salt-saturated sea is the only open water accessible to Palestinians from the otherwise landlocked West Bank. The petition says that the Israeli military is using the Beit Ha’arava checkpoint on Route 90 -- the only open access route in the occupied West Bank for travel to the Dead Sea -- to turn back Palestinians, mainly but not exclusively on weekends and Jewish holidays. Acri says that the ban is to appease Israeli settlers operating concessions along the Dead Sea’s northern shore.

IDF arrests 9 Israelis who entered Joseph’s Tomb
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 6/13/2008
Soldiers nab nine Breslov Hasidim who entered the tomb against military orders; four other flee. ’These kinds of events make IDF divert forces from fighting terror,’ says military source - Nine Israeli citizens were arrested by IDF soldiers Thursday night after entering Joseph’s Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus. They were turned in for police questioning. Four other Israelis spotted on the premises managed to escape the troops through the Balata refugee camp in the city. A military source told Ynet that "incidents in which Israelis enter Nablus, and Joseph’s Tomb in particular, are very troubling"¦ just yesterday we had a very close call, which could have resulted in a lynching. These kinds of events make the IDF divert forces from fighting terror to searching after Israelis who enter the city.

Israeli woman lightly injured after youth throw stones at her car near Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 6/13/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – An Israeli woman was lightly injured on Friday at noon when Palestinian youths pelted her car with stones on the bypass road near the village of Husan west of Bethlehem. Israeli sources reported that a group of Palestinian youths from the village threw stones at Israeli settlers’ cars on the bypass road near the Israeli settlement of Beitar Ilit, which is built on lands belonging to Husan and other neighboring villages from the western Bethlehem district. [end]

Prisoners’ center condemns unsanitary conditions in Israeli jails
Ma’an News Agency 6/13/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – The Prisoners’ Center for Studies reported on Friday that the Israeli prison administration pays no attention to the health conditions of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Insects and rats disturb prisoners and threaten their health, especially at old and decaying jails such as the Ramla/Nitsan underground prison, Be’er Sheva, Nafha, and Shatta prisons, as well as in the open-air detention camp in the Negev. Several prisoners were quoted by the center as saying that they had seen large rats, cockroaches, scorpions, and on occasion poisonous snakes in the prisons. These animals enter the prison cells either through sewage pipes or through fences in the open-air prison camps. The prisoners affirmed that they reported these dangers to the Israeli prison authorities. In one prison section, a large number of prisoners confirmed that they could not sleep in their cells because of the constant presence of rats.

Gaza prisoners in bid to lift ban on family visits
Donald Macintyre, The Independent 6/13/2008
Palestinian prisoners from Gaza held in Israeli jails have launched a legal battle along with their families to lift a year-long ban on visits organised by the Red Cross. Their legal action, supported by a series of Palestinian and Israeli human rights organisations, is seeking to overturn a decision by the Israeli authorities to bar prison visits while Hamas remains in control of Gaza. One of the Israeli organisations, Hamoked, says there are about 930 prisoners from Gaza held in Israeli jails and the cancellation of regular family visits "constitutes collective punishment and violates international law". In a response to Hamoked, the Israeli authorities said that "since Hamas’ military coup in the Gaza Strip. . . [it is not] possible to co-ordinate passage through the border crossings, which are now under the control of terrorist organisations.

Caterpillar Annual Shareholders Meeting Picketed and Disrupted by Palestine Solidarity Activists
International Solidarity Movement 6/13/2008
In Chicago on June 11th, more than 50 Palestinian solidarity activists from numerous organizations gathered to oppose Caterpillar Corporations annual shareholders meeting. Caterpillar, an American company, is responsible for building and outfitting militarized bulldozers to sell to the Israeli army. These bulldozers have been used to destroy an estimated 18,000 Palestinian homes, uproot hundreds of thousands of olive trees, and build Israel’s infrastructure of apartheid, including the apartheid wall, settlements, and Israeli-only roads. Additionally, several Palestinians and American activist Rachel Corrie have been murdered by Israeli Occupation Forces using Caterpillar’s equipment. For the past five years, Palestinian solidarity organizations in the United States have waged a campaign against Caterpillar, demanding that the company stop all sales to the Israeli military.

Israeli forces storm Nablus; injure Palestinian in Al-Fari’a camp
Ma’an News Agency 6/13/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces raided the northern West Bank city of Nablus and patrolled its streets late on Thursday evening, Israeli and Palestinian sources said. According to Israeli sources, two hand grenades and stones were thrown at Israeli military vehicles operating in the city. No Israeli casualties were reported. Palestinian medical sources stated that 18-year-old Ahmad KayidA’yid from Al-Fari’a refugee camp in Nablus was hit in the face by a rubber-coated metal bullet fired by Israeli soldiers who stormed the camp. He was evacuated to Rafidia Hospital in western Nablus for medical treatment. [end]

Israeli forces apprehend Fatah activist in Ramallah
Ma’an News Agency 6/13/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces arrested a Palestinian activist affiliated to the Al-Aqsa Brigades, the military wing of the Fatah movement, on Thursday evening in Ramallah in the central West Bank. Israeli military sources said that the detainee, Amjad Badarin, was suspected of firing at an Israeli military force operating in Ramallah in late 2007. Separately, Israeli forces on Thursday evening seized a cache of weapons and ammunition in Al-Azariyya, east of Jerusalem. [end]

Israeli forces arrest Hebron resident
Ma’an News Agency 6/13/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Israeli forces on Friday morning apprehended 28-year-old Nadir Abdel Hafez Abu Mayyala, a Palestinian from Hebron in the southern West Bank. Abu Mayyala’s family told Ma’an that Israeli soldiers stormed the house at dawn, damaging the family’s belongings and leaving chaos in their wake before taking him to an unknown location. [end]

The Israeli army attacks a village near Bethlehem and kidnaps a man and his Jewish wife
Najeep Farajj "“ Bethlehem, International Middle East Media Center News 6/12/2008
The Israeli army invaded the village of Hussan located near Bethlehem city in the southern part of the West Bank. During the invasion on Thursday morning the soldiers kidnapped a Palestinian man and his wife that is from Jewish origins. Mohamed Hamamerh, 25, met his wife Melissa, 23, several months ago when he used to work at the settlement of Bitar Illit, an Israeli settlement built illegally on the land of Hussan village. When the young couple decided to get married, they came to Bethlehem city were Melissa converted to Islam. They were married last month during a large wedding at Hussan village, Hamamerh’s family reported. The settlers of Bitar Illit attacked the village of Hussan, demanding that Melissa was kidnapped and forced to get married, which the family of Hamamerh denies. The village told media sources in Bethlehem that the settlers threatened to send the Israeli army to get Melissa out using force, which was done today.

Palestine Today 061208
Ghassan Bannoura - IMEMc - Audio, International Middle East Media Center News 6/12/2008
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 Thursday June 12th, 2008. Seven Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip and Israeli soldiers kidnap a Palestinian and his wife from the west Bank, these stories and more coming up stay tuned. The News Cast Four Palestinian civilians, among them a baby were killed on Thursday midday as an explosion ripped a house in Beit Lahyia town located in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. Witnesses said that the explosion left a house comprised of their apartments totally destroyed. Medical sources said that four were killed, among them Nur Hamudah, four months old and another three men; 40 other civilians were injured at least among them 6 in critical condition, Dr.

Israelis plan another 1,300 new homes for Jerusalem colonists
The Daily Star and Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 6/14/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel on Friday announced its second settlement project in Occupied East Jerusalem this month, enraging Palestinians just ahead of a US visit aimed at rescuing the stalemated peace process. Jerusalem’s Israeli municipality confirmed a report in the Haaretz newspaper that the green light had been given for 1,300 new homes for Jewish colonists in the occupied and illegally annexed east of the city. The houses will be built in Ramat Shlomo, where there are already 2,000 settler homes, Haaretz reported. The paper said the decision to proceed was taken Tuesday by the city’s urban planning commission which reports to the Interior Ministry. Haaretz called it one of the most ambitious expansion plans for settler homes in East Jerusalem, which was conquered by Israel in the 1967 war. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat expressed outrage at the decision.

UN to discuss resolution demanding that Israel halt West Bank settlement construction
Shlomo Shamir, Ha’aretz 6/14/2008
The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to discuss a draft resolution next week demanding that Israel halt all construction in West Bank settlements. Representatives of the UN’s Arab bloc met Thursday at the UN headquarters in New York for a final discussion of the draft and made last-minute revisions in preparation for its submission to the Security Council. UN sources told Haaretz that the draft is the first that addresses the settlement issue in "a sweeping, unequivocal and direct manner. "According to the sources, the driving force behind the resolution is Saudi Arabia, although officially, it was an initiative of the Arab League. Diplomats affiliated with the Arab bloc said that Arab representatives at the UN have been discussing the new resolution for several weeks, during which time the draft has undergone several revisions.

Hamas: Israeli construction in Jerusalem settlements is ''declaration of war on Muslims''
Ma’an News Agency 6/13/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The de facto Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip said on Friday that they are monitoring Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem with concern, and that they reject any entrenchment of Israel’s illegal settlements. The de facto Hamas government pointed out that the Israeli government recently decided to build 1,300 new residential units in the settlement of Ramat Shlomo, near the Palestinian neighbourhood of Beit Hanina in East Jerusalem, which already has 2,000 housing units. In a statement to Ma’an, the Hamas de facto government described the Israeli decision to expand the settlement as new evidence that the continuing meetings between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators are "futile." The statement added that the Israeli government exploits these meetings to cover its criminal acts and expand settlements in and around Jerusalem, as part of its ongoing attempts to Judaize the city.

Israel approves the construction of 1300 units in East Jerusalem
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 6/13/2008
The Israeli Authorities approved this week the construction of 1300 settler-only homes in the illegal settlement of Ramat Shlomo, near Beit Hanina Palestinian neighborhood in the occupied East Jerusalem, the Arabs38 news website reported. The new constructions were approved by the so-called The Regional Committee for Construction and Planning. The new decision raises the number of settler homes approved for construction since the Annapolis summit in November 2007 to 7974. It is worth mentioning that there are nearly 2000 settler homes in Ramat Shlomo and this new construction plan will expand the settlement by more than 55%. The new plan is another Israeli violation to the Road Map Peace Plan and the understandings of the Annapolis Summit as Israel is creating new forced realities in East Jerusalem in order to block any withdrawal from the occupied city under any future peace deal.

Israeli occupation decides to build 1300 new settlement units in East Jerusalem
Palestinian Information Center 6/13/2008
NAZARETH, (PIC)-- A Hebrew paper revealed on Friday that City Planning committee of the Jerusalem municipality gave the go ahead for building 1300 settlement units at the Ramat Shalom settlement in east Jerusalem. Yediot Ahronot quoted the Jerusalem municipality spokesman as saying that the decision was supported by the majority of members of the planning committee and that the expansion was needed by the residents including young couples. The Israeli occupation government continues to expand settlements in the West Bank and especially in Jerusalem ignoring all international resolutions which consider east Jerusalem as occupied territory. The expansion of settlements also is considered a slap in face of Mahmoud Abbas, who insists on negotiating with the Israeli occupation despite the accelerated Judization of the holy city to prevent any future withdrawal.

Israel dissembling: facilitate lives of Palestinians in exchange for freedom of movement
Palestine News Network 6/13/2008
West Bank / PNN -- Although the number of Israeli checkpoints within the West Bank is on the rise, and although two Israeli soldiers came out and said that it was not for "security" that the checkpoint was imposed before the Dead Sea but instead for the economy of the settlements, an Israeli officer said on Friday "there is no problem facilitating the lives of Palestinians." However, under occupation the only way to "facilitate" the life of a Palestinian would be to end the occupation. Israeli sources said that Israel had no objection to provide more facilities for the Palestinians, including removing a number of barriers still in the West Bank. An Israeli officer said that the Israeli Central Command will not block the provision of facilities in the West Bank, including the removal of more barriers.

Haneyya’s government dismantles spy rings
Palestinian Information Center 6/13/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The security agencies of the Interior Ministry in the Haneyya government have managed to dismantle a number of spy ring in the Strip and arrested tens of collaborators. Premier Ismail Haneyya revealed the news during a speech he made on Thursday afternoon, saying that the security agencies arrested 75 collaborators, some of them helped the Israeli occupation forces in assassination missions against Palestinian resistance activists. Haneyya added that those arrested will be prosecuted in courts of law and the government will carry out the sentences passed by those courts. Informed sources told the PIC correspondent that a number of those arrested had actually participated in IOF incursions into the Gaza Strip. The sources also revealed that one of the most dangerous spy rings was discovered in the northern and southern Gaza Strip and that members of the ring admitted to being involved in serious crimes.

Gaza to mark first anniversary of Hamas rule
Ali Waked, YNetNews 6/13/2008
Hamas’ rule in Gaza hits one-year mark as group’s hold on Strip seems unshakable. Peace with Israel, says political analyst, is unlikely in the near future - Time flies: Saturday will see Hamas mark the one-year anniversary of its "military victory" over Fatah and the Palestinian Authority and itstaking over of the Gaza Strip. Hamas’ coup in Gaza was staged in view of what the organization saw as the decline of the corrupt, Fatah-led Palestinian Authority; a decline Hamas believes began on the heels of the Oslo Accords. While gearing up for action, Hamas’ military wing was training and arming; and its religious wing was rallying up new recruits in the mosques. The subsequent road into the ranks of Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades has never seemed more natural. Meanwhile, the group’s civilian wing was helping the group’s political ranks establishing. . .

Haniyya’s government cracks down on collaborators with the occupation
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/13/2008
Ismail Haniyya, Prime Minister of the Palestinian dissolved government, which is still active in Gaza, stated on Thursday evening that his government managed to crack down of network of collaborators with the Israeli occupation, and arrested 75 of them. Haniyya added that that the arrested collaborators participated in killing resistance fighters, and added that those collaborators will be prosecuted and that the government "will implement any ruling issued by the courts even if it was a death sentence". The Palestinian Information Center, sun by Hamas, reported on its website that security services in Gaza managed to undercover "serious networks of collaborators" in several parts of the Gaza Strip. The center added that some of the arrestees formed undercover forces that practiced in invasions carried by the Israeli forces.

EU supports boosting ties with Israel, debates linking relations to peace talk progress
Reuters, Ha’aretz 6/13/2008
European Union states support upgrading relations with Israel but some want the move to be linked to progress on Middle East peace, EU diplomats said before talks with Israel on Monday. Diplomats said all EU member states supported the idea of upgrading relations with Israel in areas such as social policy, regulatory issues and access to the EU single market. "The point of disagreement has been whether and to what extent to link closer EU ties to progress in the Middle East Peace Process," one EU diplomat said, adding that envoys would seek to overcome differences before EU foreign ministers meet their Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni in Luxembourg. Last year Israel proposed a range of possible upgrades in relations, including regular summits of EU and Israeli leaders, and meetings with EU sectoral ministers in addition to the current single annual session at foreign minister level.

Salam Fayad: Re:Potential upgrade of EU-Israel relations
Haitham Sabbah, Palestine Think Tank 6/13/2008
The European Union is considering upgrading its relationship with Israel, including in the political and economic spheres, and the European Council will take a decision on these matter in its June 16th meeting. Salam Fayad wrote the EU a letter of protest which is worth noting: Palestinian National AuthorityPrime Minister’s Office 27 May 2008 - Re: Potential upgrade of EU-Israel relations - Your Excellency, It has come to my attention that the European Union is contemplating upgrading its relationship with Israel, including in the political and economic spheres, and that the Council may take a decision on this matter in its June 16th meeting. I am writing you to register my deep reservations concerning such an upgrade while Israel continues to systematically violate Palestinian human rights and flaunt its international obligations, including certain of its commitments to the EU.

Speaker of Welsh Assembly to boycott visit by Israel’s Ambassador
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/13/2008
Pointing to Israel’s "failure to meet its international obligations to the Palestinian people", the Speaker of the Assembly of the nation of Wales, Dafydd Elis-Thomas, says he will refuse to meet with Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor. Prosor has accused Britain of being a "hotbed for radical anti-Israeli views, and a haven for disingenuous calls for a ’one-state solution’ -- a euphemistic name for a movement advocating Israel’s destruction. Those who propagate this notion distort Israel’s past while categorically denying Israel’s right to exist as a liberal Jewish-democratic state. "He added that those who call for a boycott are missing a chance for dialogue. But human rights advocates say the boycott is the only way to raise the issue of the Palestinian people’s rights to an international sphere where action cane be taken on the issue.

Barak: Kadima power struggle stalling cease-fire with Hamas
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 6/14/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak told activists in his Labor Party on Friday that the current power struggle within the ruling Kadima Party was sabotaging the cease-fire negotiations between Israel and the militant Palestinian group Hamas. "If this government wasn’t overshadowed by the Kadima primaries, a truce agreement with Hamas would have been achieved a long time ago," the Labor Party chairman said in a speech at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv. The Kadima Party, led by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, has been heading toward primary elections since the launch of a corruption investigation against Olmert, who is suspected of having illicitly received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Jewish American millionaire Morris Talansky. "The government is incapable of making decisions in regard to Hamas, Syria, Lebanon, Iran or the United States.

Israel allows one week for Hamas’ answer to conditions for Gaza cease-fire
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 6/14/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel said on Friday it expects a response next week to its conditions for a truce in Hamas-ruled Gaza. Among the conditions, Israel is insisting that not only Hamas but also the other militant groups operating in the Palestinian territory halt their rocket and mortar attacks, a defense ministry official told AFP. Another key condition is that progress be made toward the release of an Israeli soldier captured by Gaza-based resistance fighters two years ago. Israel also wants the Egyptian authorities to be more energetic in their efforts to halt alleged weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip. Amos Gilad, a top aide to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, presented the conditions during talks in Cairo on Thursday with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who is mediating the negotiations with Hamas.

Barak: Lull postponed because of Kadima primaries
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 6/13/2008
Labor chief slams government for stalling on ceasefire; says decision on Kadima primaries hindering end of rocket fire - Chairman of the Labor party Ehud Barak attacked the government saying that "if this government was notshadowed by Kadima’s primaries, the decision on a temporary ceasefire would have been accepted long ago." According to Barak, "This government is not capable of making decisions oppositeHamas, the Syrians, Lebanon, Iran and the United States. The primaries are lingering in the shadows and people are beside themselves. All the cabinet deliberations are for the media. "Barak spoke with the Labor party branch secretaries in Tel Aviv’s Hatikva neighborhood. Concerning the state of tension in the south he said that “ultimately, a Gaza operation is inevitable, but a responsible leadership needs to give a ceasefire a chance,” he added.

Barak holds Israeli government responsible for not achieving a truce with Hamas
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 6/13/2008
Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, stated on Friday that the Israeli government is blocking any truce deal with Hamas in the Gaza Strip as it is incapable of making any decisions as it is consumed in the primaries of the Kadima party. In a speech in front of Labor Party activists in Tel Aviv, Barak said that the government cannot make any decisions on dealing with Hamas, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and the United States, and added that all discussions taken by the security cabinet are only for media consumption. The Labor Party chairman stated that the government could have reached a truce agreement with Hamas a long time ago, but "it is overshadowed by Kadima primaries". Members of the Kadima party, headed by Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, slammed the statements of Barak and described them as rude. Kadima party is now preparing for early elections as Olmert is under investigation. . .

Israeli envoy returns without Gaza truce deal
Middle East Online 6/13/2008
GAZA - An Israeli envoy engaging in Gaza cease-fire talks returned without a deal late Thursday, after another day of bloodshed in the coastal territory. Israel had carried out an airstrike and military operations against Gaza. Clashes in and around Gaza are putting a strain on Egypt’s effort to arrange a truce by acting as a go-between because Israel has no contacts with Hamas, the democratically elected resistance movement which aims to liberate Palestinian territories from the long and brutal Israeli occupation. Israeli officials said envoy Amos Gilad told Egyptian mediators in Cairo that Israel wants progress toward freeing a soldier captured by Hamas, who had captured him in a bid to free thousands of Palestinians detained in Israeli jails. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the contacts are supposed to be private, said no agreement was reached Thursday.

Haneyya: Truce is a Zio-American requirement
Palestinian Information Center 6/13/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Prime Minister Ismail Haneyya said on Thursday that truce was a Zio-American requirement after the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip has failed to achieve its ends. He also said that the constant Israeli threats of a large scale invasion of the Gaza Strip aim to cover for the daily aggressions and crimes committed by the Israeli occupation against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, crimes that the Israelis seek to portray as reactions Palestinian resistance actions. Haneyya, who was speaking at a reception organised by the Palestinian professional syndicates in Gaza, said that the US project in the region is failing as they have started many wars in the region that they could not satisfactorily conclude, including proxy wars that the US lead like the one in the Gaza Strip. He also talked about signs of failure of the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and its elected. . .

Israeli minister: we should attack Hamas instead of begging them for truce
Palestinian Information Center 6/13/2008
NAZARETH, (PIC)-- The Israeli minister of transport, Shaul Mofaz, was reported by the Israeli radio as saying that Israel should continue its militarily strikes against Hamas until the latter begs Israel for truce and not the other way round. The former war minister was speaking on Friday morning to students of a school in Negev in southern occupied Palestine where he opined that giving the truce efforts another chance by the Israeli government was problematic and did not serve the Israeli interests. He also told the students that Israel should have changed its policies towards the Gaza Strip as soon as Hamas took control of it rather than wait for a year without taking the right decision. He added that instead of forcing the "terrorists" (in reference to Palestinian legitimate resistance factions) to ask for truce, the present situation is the exact opposite; Israel is asking. . .

Egypt blocks ’radioactive’ shipment from Israel
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 6/14/2008
AL-ARISH, Egypt: Egyptian authorities on Friday refused to allow an Israeli truck carrying 32 tons of tiles into Egypt after high radiation levels were detected in the shipment, a security official said. "Egypt stopped the Israeli truck from entering Egypt. . . because radiation detection equipment showed a high presence of radioactive material in the cargo," the official told AFP. Cairo’s official Middle East News Agency reported that the Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority was notified and expected to send a technical delegation to check the shipment. [end]

Report: Turkey, Syria eye nuclear energy cooperation
Reuters, YNetNews 6/13/2008
Syrian oil minister says countries will announce establishment of joint energy company in coming days and ’in the future we could found joint nuclear power plants for electricity production’ -Turkey and Syria are considering setting up a joint energy company and could build joint nuclear power plants for electricity, Syria’s oil minister was quoted as saying on Friday. Turkey’s state-run Antolian agency quoted Oil Minister Sufian Alao as saying that the two countries will announce the establishment ofa joint energy company in the coming days, which could explore for oil in Turkey, Syria and in third countries. "We could also enter into cooperation in the nuclear field. I spoke to (Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler) Mr. Guler on cooperation. In the future we could found joint nuclear power plants for electricity production," he was quoted as saying.

Report: Turkey and Syria consider joint nuclear energy project
Reuters, Ha’aretz 6/13/2008
Turkey and Syria are considering setting up a joint energy company and could build joint nuclear power plants for electricity, Syria’s oil minister was quoted as saying on Friday. Turkey’s state-run Antolian agency quoted Oil Minister Sufian Alao as saying that the two countries will announce the establishment of a joint energy company in the coming days, which could explore for oil in Turkey, Syria and additional countries. "We could also enter into cooperation in the nuclear field. I spoke to [Turkish Energy Minister] Mr. Hilmi Guler on cooperation. In the future we could found joint nuclear power plants for electricity production," he was quoted as saying. Washington released intelligence in April, which it said showed Syria secretly built an atomic reactor with North Korean help.

Assad: Israel has learned it needs peace for security
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 6/14/2008
Damascus suspects that Israel decided to return to negotiations after an eight-year hiatus as a result its failings in the Second Lebanon War and the realization that it could not live securely among its neighbors without peace, Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview published Friday by The Hindu. "The Israelis used to think that with time they are going to be stronger and any opposition to their policies will be weaker, but actually what happened was the opposite," Assad told the Indian newspaper. "Now, the Israelis learned that without peace they cannot live safely and Israel cannot be safe. ""I think this is true especially after the war on Lebanon and because of the result of that war inside the Israeli society; this is the main incentive for the Israelis to move toward peace," he added.

Assad: Peace talks should pick up from where Rabin left off
Ynet, YNetNews 6/13/2008
Syrian president tells Indian newspaper Jerusalem, Damascus should not peace talks over, but resume them from where Rabin left off. ’Syria had assurances Israel would cede Golan,’ he says -Syrian President Bashar Assad will visit India in several days, where he hopes to harness India’s influence in favor of the Middle East peace process. In an interview with the Indian newspaper The Hindu, Assad said he believed India could help "restore some needed balance" to the peace process. Assad addressed the recently renewed indirectpeace talks between Israel and Syria. When asked what Damascus could offer Jerusalem should Israel cede the Golan Heights, he replied: "Syrian land is occupied by Israel so they have to give it back"¦We don’t have something to give but we have something to achieve together, which is peace.

Palestinian internal dialogue efforts continue amidst disputes and skepticism
Ma’an News Agency 6/13/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – A week after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced the formation of a committee comprising PLO Executive Committee members to lay the groundwork for a successful national dialogue, Palestinians are doing their best to launch a fruitful dialogue between the different factions. On Thursday, deposed Palestinian Prime Minister and Hamas leader Isma’il Haniyeh delivered a speech welcoming a future-oriented dialogue, and stated that there should be "no consideration of who won or who lost." On the other hand, Ma’an’s Ramallah reporter quoted Palestinian officials as saying that they were worried by the continued skeptical language from certain Palestinian factions. They highlighted the skepticism of the recent statement issued after eight Palestinian factions met in Damascus. Hamas leader in exile Khalid Mash’al presided over that meeting, but representatives. . .

Imprisoned lawmaker: we have a historic opportunity for national reconciliation
Palestinian Information Center 6/13/2008
Meggido Prison NABLUS, (PIC)-- Imprisoned lawmaker, Reyad al-Emleh, said that the Palestinian people today have a historic opportunity to achieve national reconciliation without external pressures, including the US rejection of Palestinian reconciliation dialogue. He said, in a statement he made from his cell in the Israeli Megiddo prison, that the failure of the US project under the leadership of George Bush over the past eight years makes him less able to hamper the efforts for Palestinian dialogue. The Hamas lawmaker, who has been detained by the Israeli occupation since 29 June 2006, said that there are many factors that limit US ability to prevent inter-Palestinian dialogue, including US failure in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon in addition to being busy with the presidential elections. He also pointed out that it was foreign interference, especially the US, that was the. . .

Fateh and Hamas on the side-lines as new leftist coalition party begins: the Progressives
Najib Farrag, Palestine News Network 6/13/2008
Enough of the internal Fateh - Hamas fighting, enough of decades of meaningless negotiations with the Israelis. A group of leftist activists and other democratic movements, some who have resigned from their prior parties, are coming together to create what is being called the "Democratic Progressive National Movement," or referred to as simply, "The Progressives." The group is growing as it invites select people to join in meetings taking place throughout Palestine, including on Saturday in Bethlehem at the Arab Women’s Union. The frame-work is obviously left-wing, with its eye on international rights and demanding them, never capitulating and not engaging in this internal fighting that has almost destroyed a country that is not truly born yet as it remains stifled under occupation.

Palestinians divided over whether Abbas’ call for national dialogue will produce results
Ma’an News Agency 6/13/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Respondents to the latest weekly questionnaire on Ma’an News Agency’s Arabic-language website had different opinions on the seriousness of President Abbas’ recent call for national dialogue. 46. 48% of the respondents (6,312 participants) believed that Abbas’ initiative marks the beginning of a return to national unity and an end to internal disputes. On the other hand, 50. 27% of the respondents (6,826 readers) believed that the initiative would not succeed, and 3. 25% (441 respondents) were uncertain. A total of 13,579 readers of the Arabic-language site participated in the poll.

Al Quds Index closes up .10 percent from last week
Palestine News Network 6/13/2008
Nablus / Amin Abu Wardeh -- The Al Quds Index, the Palestinian Stock Exchange in Nablus, closed at the end of this week at 698. 89 points, up 0. 69 of a point valued at a rate of 0. 10 percent from last week’s closure. This comes according to the weekly report of the Palestine Stock Exchange against the backdrop of rises in all sectors of the indicators, including banks, insurance, and investment. The banking sector increased by 1. 14 percent to close at 99. 41 points, as well as the insurance sector index rose by 0. 27 percent to close at 71. 09 points, as well as the investment sector index, which rose by 3. 38 to close at 43. 72 points. In contrast index has declined in the industry sector (0. 31 percent) to close down at 64. 07 points, as well as the index dropped in the services sector (1. 97 percent) to close down at 69.

Mild earthquakes felt in northern Israel
Ynet, YNetNews 6/13/2008
Northern resident awaken by 3. 3 magnitude earthquake felt throughout area; No injuries or damage reported. Tremor follows four moderate earthquakes felt in Israel Thursday -Three earthquakes originating in Lebanon were felt in northernIsrael on Friday morning. Numerous citizens reported the first quake felt mostly in the Galilee. The Geophysical Institute of Israel (GII) reported that the first quake felt at 8:30 am measured in at 3. 8 on the Richter Scale; and the second and third quakes felt at around 9:15 am measured in at 3. 5 and 3. 4. No injuries or damage were reported. Friday’s tremors followed four separate earthquakes which were felt throughout Israel on Thursday. According to the Geophysical Institute the first quake, which occurred at about 4 pm, measured 3.

Seven earthquakes shake northern Israel within two days
Zafrir Rinat , and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 6/13/2008
Two consecutive earthquakes shook northern Israel on Friday, causing no casualties or damage. Israel’s Geophysical Institute stated that the tremors, which were felt by many northern residents, had a magnitude of 3. 8 and 3. 9 on the Richter Scale. Their epicenter was in southern Lebanon. Friday’s tremors came a day after five quakes jolted Lebanon in the space of three hours. Two of the quakes had a magnitude of over 4, and were felt in parts of northern Israel, especially in Kiryat Shmona. A recent report by the Health Ministry indicates a series of serious failings in the structure of hospitals in northern Israel. The report states that in case of an earthquake, there will be no hospital to treat the wounded. None of the recent quakes have caused injuries or damage.

World’s oldest church unearthed in Jordan
Majid Raja, The Independent 6/13/2008
Archaeologists in Jordan have discovered what they believe to be the oldest Christian church, which was used by Christ’s followers who fled Jerusalem after the crucifixion. The underground chapel, hidden beneath the Saint Georgeous Church in Rihab, near the Syrian border, is thought to date from between AD33 and AD70, and would have served as both a place of worship and a home. Abdul Qader Husan, head of the Rihab Centre for Archaeological Studies, said: "We have evidence to believe this church sheltered the early Christians -- the 70 disciples of Jesus Christ. "A mosaic inscription on the Saint Georgeous floor pays homage to the "70 beloved by God and Divine" who escaped to northern Jordan from the persecution of the Christians in Jerusalem. These early Christians practised their rituals in the secrecy of the underground cave -- about 12 metres long and seven metres wide -- until the Christian religion was embraced by the Roman rulers.

Talks on US-Iraq pact at ’dead end’
Al Jazeera 6/13/2008
Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, says talks with the US on a new long-term security pact have reached a "dead end". The US and Iraq are negotiating a new agreement to provide a legal basis for US troops to stay in Iraq after December 31, when their UN mandate expires. They are also negotiating a long-term strategic framework agreement on political, diplomatic, economic, security and cultural ties. "We have reached a dead end, because when we started the talks, we found that theUS demands hugely infringe on the sovereignty ofIraq , and this we can never accept," al-Maliki said during a visit toJordan on Friday. US immunity In his first detailed comments on the talks, he said Iraqobjected to Washington’s. . .

Iraqi lawmakers reject US security draft pact
Middle East Online 6/13/2008
BAGHDAD - New US proposals have failed to overcome Iraqi opposition to a proposed security pact, two lawmakers said Thursday, and a senior government official expressed doubt an agreement could be reached before the US presidential election in November. The security agreement would provide a legal basis for the presence of US forces in Iraq after the UN mandate expires at the end of this year. Failure to strike a deal would leave the future of the American military presence here to the next administration. US negotiators offered new proposals this week after Iraqi lawmakers expressed outrage over the direction of the negotiations, claiming that accepting the US position would cement American military, political and economic domination of this country. Iman al-Asadi, a Shiite member of the parliamentary committee on legal affairs, said the latest American version "wasn’t satisfactory to say the least.

Maliki: Talks on Iraq-US pact deadlocked
Middle East Online 6/13/2008
AMMAN - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said during a visit to Amman on Friday that negotiations with the United States on a long-term security pact were deadlocked. "We have reached an impasse, because when we opened these negotiations we did not realise that the US demands would so deeply affect Iraqi sovereignty and this is something we can never accept," he told Jordanian newspaper editors, according to a journalist present at the meeting. "We cannot allow US forces to have the right to jail Iraqis or assume, alone, the responsibility of fighting against terrorism," he said. There has been strong criticism in Iraq and in neighbouring Iran over the negotiations for a deal to cover the foreign military presence in Iraq when a UN mandate expires at the end of the year. US President George W. Bush and Maliki agreed in principle last November to sign a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) by the end of July.

Maliki says talks with Americans at impasse over threat to sovereignty
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 6/14/2008
AMMAN: Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Friday negotiations with the US on a long-term security pact were deadlocked because of concern the deal infringes Iraqi sovereignty. "We have reached an impasse because when we opened these negotiations we did not realize that the US demands would so deeply affect Iraqi sovereignty and this is something we can never accept," he said in Amman. "We cannot allow US forces to have the right to jail Iraqis or assume, alone, the responsibility of fighting against terrorism," Maliki told Jordanian newspaper editors, according to a journalist present at the meeting. Criticism has been rife in Iraq and in neighboring Iran over the deal to cover the foreign military presence in Iraq when a UN mandate expires at the end of this year. US President George W. Bush and Maliki agreed in principle last November to sign a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) by the end of July.

Bush pledges on Iraq bases a ruse
Gareth Porter, Asia Times 6/14/2008
WASHINGTON - Two key pledges made by the George W Bush administration on military bases in its negotiations with the government of Iraq have now been revealed as carefully worded ruses aimed at concealing US negotiating aims from both US citizens and Iraqis who would object to them if they were made clear. The talks are intended to establish the legal conditions under which US troops will remain in Iraq after their United Nations mandate expires at the end this year. Recent statements by Iraqis familiar with US demands in negotiations on the US-Iraq "strategic framework" agreement have highlighted the fact that administration promises that it would not seek "permanent bases" or the use of bases to attack Iran or any other neighboring countries were deliberately misleading. The wording used by the Bush administration appears to have been chosen to obscure its intention to have both long-term

Bush ’plotted to lure Saddam into war with fake UN plane
Andy McSmith, The Independent 6/13/2008
George Bush considered provoking a war with Saddam Hussein’s regime by flying a United States spyplane over Iraq bearing UN colours, enticing the Iraqis to take a shot at it, according to a leaked memo of a meeting between the US President and Tony Blair. The two leaders were worried by the lack of hard evidence that Saddam Hussein had broken UN resolutions, though privately they were convinced that he had. According to the memorandum, Mr Bush said: "The US was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours. If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach." He added: "It was also possible that a defector could be brought out who would give a public presentation about Saddam’s WMD, and there was also a small possibility that Saddam would be assassinated. "The memo damningly suggests the decision to invade Iraq had already been made. . .

Sadr to form new armed group to fight US forces
Middle East Online 6/13/2008
KUFA - Iraq’s hardline Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr announced on Friday that he plans to form a new armed group to fight US forces in Iraq. In a statement issued to his nearly 60,000 strong Mahdi Army militia, the anti-American cleric said the fight against US forces will now be waged only by the new group. "The resistance will be carried out exclusively by a special group which I will announce later," Sadr said in a statement which was read out at a mosque in the holy Shiite town of Kufa. "We will keep resisting the occupier until the liberation of Iraq or our martyrdom." Sadr said the group will direct its operations against US forces and will be banned from fighting Iraqis. "This group will be professional and it will be the only group carrying arms which will be directed against the occupier.

US troops ’shift to peacekeeping role’ in Iraq
Middle East Online 6/13/2008
WASHINGTON - The role of US troops in Iraq has shifted in recent months to one of "peacekeeping rather than war fighting" thanks to a series of negotiated ceasefire deals with insurgents, analysts said Thursday. Stephen Biddle, senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the agreements were largely responsible for a drop in violence and had subsequently sparked a change in the US military’s role in the country. "The US mission has started to shift from counterinsurgency as we traditionally understand it into increasingly something that looks like peacekeeping rather than war fighting," he told reporters. "We’ve ended up acting like the police force to maintain and police the terms of the ceasefire deals that the individual combatants have observed." This was "likely to continue until and unless we get a serious problem with ceasefires collapsing,". . .

This Week In Palestine - Week 24 2008
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 6/13/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 13 m 0s || 11. 9 MB ||This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www. IMEMC. org, for June 7th, through June 13th , 2008. Hamas is still committed to its ceasefire initiative with Israel as the Israeli army attacks leave eight Palestinians killed. These stories and more, coming up, stay tuned. Nonviolent Resistance We begin our weekly report with the nonviolent actions in the West Bank. IMEMC’s Jane Orwell has the details: Bethlehem Five Palestinians were injured and an American peace activist was kidnapped when the Israeli army attacked a peaceful protest organized in the village of Um Salamunah, located near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem on Friday. 150 villagers, international, and Israeli peace activists marched in the morning to protest the illegal Israeli wall being built on land owned by the villagers.

Israeli army removes 10 roadblocks in southern West Bank
Deutsche Presse Agentur - DPA, ReliefWeb 6/13/2008
Tel Aviv_(dpa) _ Israeli soldiers removed 10 roadblocks in the southern West Bank Friday, as part of Israel’s commitment to easing restrictions on Palestinian movement, the military said. The obstacles were removed south of the city of Hebron, an army spokeswoman said. She said the military uprooted a total of 90 obstacles since it began implementing the plan to ease movement in the West Bank about two months ago, the spokeswoman told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. The pledge is part of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which was revived under United States auspices in Annapolis, Maryland last November, after a seven-year freeze. The latest roadblock removal comes ahead of the arrival of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the region Sunday. The United Nations agency which monitors Palestinian movement and access, however, said in its quarterly report published. . .

Middle East: Commission to provide €44 million in humanitarian aid to Palestinians and Iraqis
European Commission - Humanitarian Aid Office - ECHO, ReliefWeb 6/13/2008
IP/08/938 Brussels, 13 June 2008 - The European Commission has allocated €44 million to address the urgent humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable Palestinians and those populations affected by the conflict in Iraq. More than 1. 5 million Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, will benefit from €24 million in humanitarian aid. The funds will cover livelihood support, food assistance, the provision of basic health care as well as water and sanitation services. Special attention is being paid to children, particularly for psychological support. The other €20 million are being allocated to provide protection and relief to Iraqi refugees, internally displaced persons and other vulnerable populations affected by the conflict in Iraq, both inside and outside the country.

’Israel Lobby’ authors in Jerusalem: Ahmadinejad not inciting to genocide
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 6/14/2008
JERUSALEM - Two prominent American professors who sparked an uproar with their best-selling book critical of the powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington, remarked Thursday that they felt that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s call for Israel to be wiped off the map was not in fact incitement to genocide. About 200 students and faculty members crammed into a stuffy lecture hall at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and grilled John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt for more than two hours about their harsh findings in The Israel Lobby and U. S. Foreign Policy, published last year. In the book, the pair argue that pro-Israel special interest groups have manipulated the U. S. political system to promote policies that favor Israel, while running counter to American interests. They argue that Israel is often a strategic burden, not an asset, pointing to the 1991 Gulf War as an example, when the Israel-U.

U.S. pastor apologizes to Jews for ’God sent Hitler’ comments
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 6/14/2008
A prominent American televangelist and outspoken supporter of Israel publicly apologized Friday for remarking that the Holocaust was the work of divine providence, and that "God sent Adolf Hitler to help Jews reach the promised land." "In a sermon in 1999, I grappled with the vexing question of why a loving God would allow the evil of the Holocaust to occur," John Hagee, the Texas-based preacher wrote in a letter to Anti-Defamation League director Abe Foxman. "I know how sensitive the issue of the Holocaust is and should be to the Jewish community and I regret if my Jewish friends felt any pain as a result." Last month, audio of Hagee’s remarks surfaced on the internet, prompting Republican presidential hopeful John McCain to disavow the pastor’s prior endorsement of his candidacy.

Israel lobby critics answer campus queries in Israel
Middle East Online 6/13/2008
TEL AVIV - Two American professors on their first visit to Israel since the publication of their book critical of the powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington answered questions related to the theme of their book at one of the nation’s most prestigious universities. About 200 students and faculty members crammed into a stuffy lecture hall at the Hebrew University on Thursday and asked John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt for more than two hours about their best-selling book. The pair argue that pro-Israel special interest groups have manipulated the US political system to promote policies that favor Israel and run counter to American interests. Jewish American groups and US administration officials have denied the findings of the book. The authors said Thursday their goal was to draw a lively academic debate over a topic that was perceived as taboo.

LA mayor to Sderot residents: You are courageous
Ze''ev Trachtman, YNetNews 6/13/2008
Villaraigosa launches ’Gateway to Education’ project in Qassam-battered town, says region has bright future - Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa paid a visit to Sderot on Friday to launch the "Gateway to Education" project, aimed at providing the Qassam-battered town’s children with a higher level of education. Accompanied by Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal, Villaraigosa opened his visit at a local religious school, where he spoke of the courage being displayed by the residents of the Gaza-vicinity communities amid the incessant attacks emanating from the Strip, adding that he believed the region had a bright future. During the assembly the students performed songs they had written and spoke of life under the Qassam threat.

Israeli forces kill 3 more in Gaza Strip, last night’s explosion was internal says Hamas
Palestine News Network 6/13/2008
Gaza / PNN - Palestinian security and media sources in the Gaza Strip report the killings of three more Palestinians on Friday morning. They were members of Hamas’ Al Qassam Brigades. Yesterday the explosion that was suspected to have come from within or from an Israeli F-16 was an internal explosion, according to the results of an investigation conducted by Hamas. Not including those seven people killed in the explosion, over the past two days Israeli forces have killed eight Palestinians, as reports the Director of Emergency and Ambulance in the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Dr. Moawiyeh Hassanein. The three people killed this morning were struck down by Israeli warplanes near the Abu Bakr Mosque in eastern Jabaliya Refugee Camp, in the northern Gaza Strip. Kamal Adwan Hospital. Mustafa Itihad, Mahmoud Mousa and Hamouda Itihad were rushed to the Kamal Adwan Hospital.

Hamas: Explosion in Beit Lahiya preparation for ''˜quality’ attack
Ali Waked, YNetNews 6/13/2008
Hamas confirms operatives killed in northern Strip’s Thursday explosion preparing "˜special mission’; Mofaz urges cabinet to change view on Gaza op - Hamas’ Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades confirmed Friday that the operatives who died in Thursday’s explosion in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya were making last-minute preparations for a "special mission", a Hamas codename for a "high-quality" attack. According to the statement, the dead were operatives of a special Hamas unit. The organization promised that its people will "continue following in the path of those killed."  A Hamas gunman who was wounded in Thursday’s died Friday morning. Hamas’ announcement does not refer to the blast’s circumstances even though the group’s media has begun using the term "explosion" and not just "attack," the term repeatedly used on Thursday.

3 Qassam fighters killed, raising the death toll to 10
Palestinian Information Center 6/13/2008
GAZA, (PIC)--Three Qassam fighters were killed on Thursday in Israeli shelling that targeted a group of resistance fighters east of Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses said that IOF troops stationed at Nahal Oz to the east of Gaza fired two missiles at the group of Qassam fighters near Abu Baker’s mosque to the east of Jabalya town in northern Gaza killing three of them. The Qassam Brigades announced that its fighters fired five mortars at Israeli troops stationed east of the Zaitoun suburb, adding that its fighters on Thursday fired a total of 13 Qassam rockets and 92 mortars at Israeli targets in retaliation to Israeli attacks. Seven others, including five Qassam fighters, were killed in a mysterious explosion in Beith Lahya in the northern Gaza Strip.

Three Palestinians killed during the Israeli shelling targeting the Gaza Strip
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/13/2008
Three Palestinian resistance fighters were killed on Friday morning during an Israeli shelling targeting the northern part of the Gaza Strip. Local sources said that Israeli jet fighters fired missiles at a group of resistance men while gathered at Jabaliya refugee camp, killing three of them and injured another two civilians. Al Qassam Brigades the armed wing of the Hamas movement said all three fighters were members of the group. [end]

PFLP military wing fires two homemade projectiles at Miftahim
Ma’an News Agency 6/13/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the military wing affiliated to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), claimed responsibility on Friday morning for firing two homemade projectiles at the Israeli town of Miftahim in the western Negev. The brigades said in a statement that the shelling came in response to Israel’s criminal acts against the Palestinian people. [end]

Twelve killed, including a baby, as an unknown explosion rips a Gazan home
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/12/2008
Twelve Palestinian civilians, among them a baby were killed on Thursday midday as an explosion ripped through a house in Beit Lahyia town located in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. Witnesses said that the explosion left a house comprised of their apartments totally destroyed. Medical sources said that 12 were killed, among them Nur Hamudah, four months old and another three men; 40 other civilians were injured at least 6 of them in critical condition, Dr. Mo’awiah Hassanen, of the Palestinian Ministry of health in Gaza reported. The Hamas movement said that Israeli F16’s shelled the house which belongs to a leader of the movement armed wing Al Qassam Brigades. The movement identified the owner of the house as Kaled Hamoudah. Meanwhile the Israeli army denied any responsibility and said that the house was destroyed because the Hamas fighter had bombs stored there.

Iraq, Jordan agree to renew discount oil deal
Middle East Online 6/13/2008
AMMAN - Iraq agreed on Thursday to renew a 2006 deal to sell discounted oil to Jordan for three years, Jordanian Prime Minister Nader Dahabi said after talks with his visiting Iraqi counterpart Nuri al-Maliki. "The agreement was supposed to end in August this year, but Iraq agreed to renew it for another three years at discounted prices," Dahabi told reporters at a joint news conference with Maliki after a two-hour meeting. Iraq agreed in August 2006 to provide Jordan with between 10 and 30 percent of its daily oil needs of around 100,000 barrels at a preferential price starting from September of that year, but deliveries by road began a year late. Jordan was paying Iraq 18 dollars a barrel less than the August 2006 price for its discounted deliveries. Oil was trading at the time at around the 75-dollar mark on world markets.

Death Blow to Gitmo
Jonathan Hafetz, Middle East Online 6/13/2008
The June12 ruling by the Supreme Court in Boumediene v. Bush delivered a dramatic blow to the President’s lawless detention policies and overturned an effort by the previous Congress to eliminate the centuries-old right of habeas corpus. The ruling means that prisoners at the US military base at Guantanámo Bay, who have been held for more than six years without charge, will finally have the opportunity to challenge the accusations against them in a court of law. More broadly, the ruling rejects the premise on which Guantánamo is based: that the President can create a lawless enclave simply by incarcerating people outside the mainland United States. Boumediene marks the culmination of the quest for due process that began in 2002, when the first habeas corpus petitions were filed by Guantánamo detainees in federal court.


Articles


Shelter from the siege
Rami Almeghari writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 6/13/2008
      Tuesday morning at 9:00am, 220 Palestinian children gathered at al-Sherouq and al-Amal children’s club in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis refugee camp. Dressed in colorful clothes accompanied by cheerful smiles, the children lined up in rows to listen to their trainer. The children were attending their first day of a three-week-long program of training and activities at the club. "The circumstances around Palestinian society, particularly, the growing violence at many levels, have prompted us to hold this program to train children how to have less violent trends," explained Najwa al-Farra, chairwoman of the club.
     Funded by the Culture and Free Thought Society in Khan Younis, the program "attempts to decrease a great deal of the tension that many of our Palestinian children experience, especially because of sporadic Israeli gunfire and domestic violence," al-Farra added. She said that over the past year Palestinian society has seen increasing social and economic problems due to the Israeli blockade and repeated Israeli army invasions, which have had a negative impact on the children’s way of life and behavior. The Khan Younis area borders Israel, and has been the site of several invasions by the Israeli army over the past year. During this period, a number of young girls from Khan Younis were killed by Israeli army artillery fire. The latest casualty was nine-year-old Hadeel al-Semairy, who was hit by Israeli tank fire in front of her home on 5 June.

Open letter: The separation barrier in Bil’in

Update and call for help, International Solidarity Movement 6/13/2008
      In a high-profile ruling of 4th September 2007, the Israeli Supreme Court concluded that the already built Separation Barrier in the West Bank village of Bil’in is illegal. The Court noted that the existing route was designed to accommodate plans for the future expansion of the settlement of Modi’in Illit and for the construction of a new 3,000 housing-units neighborhood therein, despite the fact that some of these plans require further approval before they can be realized. The judges ordered the State to redraw the barrier, so that the new route shall not take into account planning schemes not yet finally approved. In the ruling, the Court emphasized that "in light of the continuous harm to the residents of Bil’in"¦ the respondents should consider, within reasonable time, an alternative route".
     More than eight months since the Supreme Court ruling had been released, the barrier declared illegal has not been dismantled. Worse still, as of early May 2008, the State has not even presented its plan for the amended route. In other words, the Israeli government has been bluntly ignoring the ruling of the highest juridical authority in the Israel. Furthermore, recently construction has resumed in the new settlers’ neighborhood. If a decision on the new route is not taken soon, the settlers will likely establish irreversible facts on the ground, so that upholding the Court’s ruling will no longer be possible.

Gaza is about to be wiped off the map

Steve Amsel Of Desert Peace, Palestine Think Tank 6/8/2008
      Art by LATUFF
     …. and not a word about the situation in any major newspaper today. Has AIPAC got all of them tied up in their pocket? Has it officially come to a point where it is treason to criticise Israel and their genocidal policies?
     Perhaps Israel timed this precisely to a time when the press is busy elsewhere… the U.S. Presidential election has captured the attention of the world, allowing the criminals to do their dirty deeds unnoticed.
     Even AlJazeera, the most despised news agency in Israel, has not a word about this impending crisis on their Website. Instead they discuss the ‘peace talks’ taking place between Israel and their ally, the Palestinian Authority. Peace talks that mean absolutely nothing as long as the elected representatives of the Palestinian people are not taking part in them. Has AlJazeera also been ‘bought out’ by the Lobby with promises of a ‘place in the sun’?

Book review: ''Where Now for Palestine? The Demise of the Two-State Solution''

Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada 6/13/2008
      The impetus for Where Now for Palestine? The Demise of the Two-State Solution, as editor Jamil Hilal states in his introduction, is the increasing recognition within the Palestinian nationalist movement and among some Israelis that "the Oslo process has collapsed and the two-state solution has reached an impasse." This collection of eleven essays aims "to show in some detail why and how this collapse has happened, and why some new solution has to be found" (p. 20). Hilal, a research fellow at Muwatin, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Institute for the Study of Democracy, is the author of several books and numerous articles on Palestinian society, history, and politics. In this work, he calls for the formulation of proposals for a bi-national state, and says that such proposals should be examined by Palestinians and Israelis alike.
     Against a political and historical discourse where partition and separation are key themes, contributing historian Ilan Pappe offers an engaging essay arguing that by the time it became the target of the Zionist movement, Palestine was already a unitary political entity with a distinct and cohesive local culture. These continuities, Pappe argues, challenge "the dominant mainstream Zionist perception of Palestine as formed of two units: one Jewish and one not Jewish" (pp. 31-32). Political scientist As’ad Ghanem offers a clear analysis of how Israel’s obsession with demography (current projections suggest Jews will be only 26-35 percent of the population of historic Palestine by mid-century) has been the consistent driving force behind its policies. Thus, for example, Ariel Sharon’s shift from conflict resolution (on Israel’s terms) to a long-term conflict management paradigm constitutes continuity with rather than a break from previous Israeli approaches.