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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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16 June 2008

Four Palestinians killed in Israeli army attacks on Monday
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/16/2008
Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported that one fighter of the Islamic Jihad was killed on Monday evening after the Israeli army fired a missile at an area close to Jabalia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. Earlier in the day, three fighters were killed in clashes with Israeli forces east of Khan Younis. The sources stated that Mo’taz Fuad Tafish, 28, member of the AL Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad, was killed on Monday evening when the army fired a missile at a group of residents who gathered near Al Shuahada graveyard, north east of Jabalia. Tafish is from AL Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza City. Several residents were wounded in the attack. The Al Quds Brigades issued a press release stating that the shelling targeted its fighters after they fired homemade shells at the Israeli Negev town of Sderot.

Hamas leader leaves Cairo with no response to Israeli terms
Ines Bel Aiba, Daily Star 6/17/2008
Agence France Presse CAIRO: The head of a Hamas delegation left Cairo on Monday without giving a final response to an Egyptian mediated cease-fire proposal as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas voiced hope a truce could be reached in days. Egypt’s official Middle East News Agency (MENA) had said that the movement would give its final response to the truce proposal to Egyptian mediators, but later reported that the delegation’s head had left Cairo. Senior Hamas member Mussa Abu Marzuq "returned to Damascus on Monday after a three-day visit," it said. A security official on Egypt’s Gazan border said less senior Gaza-based Hamas members in the delegation had not yet returned home. The delegation met with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, in charge of mediation efforts to break the cycle of violence in the impoverished territory, and heard what Israel had told Egypt about the truce last week, MENA reported.

Gaza journalists press IDF to take responsibility for Shana’s death
Reuters, YNetNews 6/16/2008
Palestinian, international journalists march in Gaza carrying picture ofcameraman killed by IDF tank shell while working in Strip, demand that army publish results of investigation into his death. IDF: When complete, results will be published - Dozens of journalists in the Gaza Strip held a symbolic work stoppage on Monday as part of a protest demanding that Israel publish the results of its investigation into the death of acameraman in the Gaza Strip two months ago to the day. The cameraman, Fadel Shana, was killed by an IDF tank shell. The demonstration, during which journalists laid down their cameras, came on a day when UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will unveil a memorial dedicated to journalists killed while reporting on wars around the world. Journalists demonstrate in Gaza. (Photo: AP)Middle East Managing Editor Mark Thompson said: "We are deeply disappointed. . .

Israeli Military Escalates Violence against Peaceful Protestors in Ni’lin
Palestine Monitor 6/16/2008
Soldiers fire live and rubber-coated bullets at demonstrators and employ new tear gas battery that can fire up to 80 tear gas canisters at once - Ramallah, 16-06-08: The Israeli military stepped up its use of violence against peaceful demonstrators and health workers at a non-violent demonstration against construction of the Apartheid Wall in Ni’lin village today. Approximately 100 soldiers fired live and rubber-coated bullets as some 200 peaceful protestors attempted to reach the bulldozers that are stripping villagers’ olive groves of their trees in preparation for construction of the Wall. For the first time, the Israeli military also employed a new tear gas battery that can fire an estimated 80 tear gas canisters at once. Some 17 Palestinians were injured - seven from rubber-coated bullet injuries - and three were taken to hospital. An Irish national was also wounded after he received a rubber-coated bullet to the leg. The windows and body of an ambulance from the Palestinian Medical Relief Society were. . .

Police: Leftists in Hebron more dangerous than right-wing counterparts
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 6/16/2008
Peace Now calls for suspension of police commander who said extreme left-wing activists provoke settlers in hope of producing violent response. ’They have become an even greater threat than the anarchists,’ said Commander Peled - "The activity of some leftist organizations in Hebron is more dangerous that which is being conducted by their right-wing counterparts," a senior Shai District Police official told Ynet Monday. "Organizations such as Bnei Avraham (which is committed to ’disturbing the occupation, disrupting the segregation and apartheid regime’) and Breaking the Silence are wolves in sheep’s’ clothing", the official said in light of the growing tensions between left and right-wing activists in the West Bank city. The head of the Israel Police’s Hebron district, Commander Avshalom Peled told Ynet that "from my experience in the Hebron and Gush Etzion. . . "

Protest in Ramallah in solidarity with the fishermen of Gaza
Photos, International Solidarity Movement 6/16/2008
Ramallah Region - Gaza Region - On the 16th June, people gathered in the center of Ramallah in a show of solidarity with the fishermen of Gaza, who today set sail in protest against the brutal Israeli imposed siege which is destroying their livelihoods. In Ramallah, demonstrators sat in inflatable boats while declaring ‘Gaza On My Mind’. This action was in support of the Palestinian International Campaign to End the Siege’s ‘A Quest For Freedom’ initiative that saw Gazan fishermen launch their boats in protest against the ongoing siege, in conjunction with protests at fishing docks around the world. Over 40,000 people in Gaza make a living from the fishing industry, yet this community has been decimated by Israeli restrictions on fishing rights and the prevention of fuel from reaching the Gaza Strip.

From Italy: Solidarity and support with fishermen in Gaza
Luisa Morgantini - Vice President of the European Parliament, International Solidarity Movement 6/16/2008
International Actions - Photos - In Occasion of the International Day of Action to support fishermen in Gaza - "The Right to Live. The Right to Fish. End the Siege on Gaza" - Rome: Today 16th June, fishermen of Gaza took the sea claiming for the "Right to live. Right to fish. End the siege on Gaza", a mobilization organized by the "End the Siege Campaign", a Palestinian and International Campaign carried out by intellectual, physicians, lawyers and representatives of the Palestinian civil society. In occasion of the International day of action in support of fishermen in Gaza, the Italian Lega Pesca, the oldest and largest organization of 13,000 Italian cooperatives representing more than 400,000 fishermen, expressed its "solidarity with the fishermen in Gaza, regarding the very serious human, social and economic conditions in which they are illegally forced to live in. ”. -- See also: End the Siege Campaign

Testimony: Four settlers attack the Nawaj’ah family near the Susiya settlement
Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, ReliefWeb 6/8/2008
Imran a-Nawaj’ah, farmer: I live about two kilometers south of the Susiya settlement. My family has a plot of about twenty dunam [almost five acres] near the settlement. Today, 8 June 2008, around 5:00 P. M. , I went with my children, Hamzeh, 10, and Bilal, 8, to graze our flock on the plot of another resident from the area. About ten minutes later, two settlers on a blue tractor pulled up. We usually see this tractor on the farm of a settler named Dalia, whose husband, Yair, was killed in the beginning of the intifada. [The farm, Yair Farm, is located next to the Susiya settlement. ] The face of one of the settlers was covered with white cloth. One of them told me in Hebrew to get off the land. I told him in Hebrew that it’s Palestinian land and that we have a court order that allows to be on it [a court order issued in November 2006, prohibiting Israelis to enter the area].

Report: Settlers assaulted Palestinian shepherds
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 6/17/2008
Palestinian shepherds claim they were attacked by settlers from Yitzhar that threw stones, stabbed their donkey. In response, settlement states it knows nothing of incident or any residents involved in such an act - Palestinian shepherds complained Monday that settlers attacked them near the west Bank settlement of Yitzhar. The residents of Yitzhar responded by stating: "Our investigation shows no evidence of any resident or youth involved in such an incident. " At 8 pm the IDF reported to police that some settlers attacked shepherds close to Yitzhar and stabbed their donkey. The donkey’s status was not reported. Police forces set off to investigate the circumstances of the case. Two shepherds told police that they had been herding near the settlement when eight settlers stopped their truck nearby and began to throw stones at them.

EU agrees to boost ties with Israel
Middle East Online 6/16/2008
LUXEMBOURG - EU nations on Monday agreed to strengthen relations with Israel but set no timeframe for negotiations amid fears of upsetting Arab states ahead of a Mediterranean summit next month. "The member states have accepted the proposal to enhance our relationship with Israel," EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said on the sidelines of a European foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg. The talks on closer ties were to be launched later Monday, at an EU-Israel association council meeting following the foreign ministers’ talks, Ferrero-Waldner added. The evolution of relations would take into account the interests of both parties and be held in the context of "the resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict," she added. It was "too early now to speak about details" on deepening relations which could require more frequent ministerial meetings. . .

DCI/PS calls on EU to raise child rights issues with Israel
Defence for Children International/Palestine Section - DCI/PS, ReliefWeb 6/16/2008
[RAMALLAH, 16 June 2008] - On the occasion of the meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council today, 16 June 2008, in which EU Foreign Ministers are meeting their Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni in Luxembourg, DCI/PS and partners are invoking Israel’s flagrant and ongoing human rights violations to warn against the EU upgrading its relations with Israel. A letter , signed by Addameer, Al Haq, Al Mezan and DCI/PS, was sent to the Slovenian Foreign Affairs Minister H. E. Dr. Dimitrij Rupel, currently President of the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council, highlighting Israel’s recent violations of Palestinian children’s right to life in the conduct of hostilties, and its disregard for principles of international humanitarian and human rights law on the protection of civilians during conflict. As of 11 June, 79 Palestinian children had been killed by the Israeli. . .

EU policy on Israeli settlements
Mazin Qumsiyeh, Palestine News Network 6/16/2008
Israel’s ongoing systematic violation of Palestinian human rights, its flaunting of both its international obligations and international law is well documented, as is its violation of commitments tothe EU itself. As I understand it, under its ’European Neighbourhood Policy’, the EU offers to neighbouring nations opportunities for political and economic co-operation. In turn, the EU expects these neighbouring states to respect and abide by EU values and practices, particularly those related to human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. In the case of Israel, I am concerned that the EU may be offering opportunities for social and economic cooperation and integration, but abandoning its expectation that Israel will respect and practice the central principles of human rights and international law.

Swiss lawmaker: Europe’s silence towards the siege on Gaza is shameful
Palestinian Information Center 6/16/2008
BRUSSELS, (PIC)-- MP Daniel Vischer, the head of the Switzerland-Palestine association (SPA), stated that the passive attitude of the European governments towards what is happening in the Gaza Strip in particular and the Palestinian cause in general is shameful. MP Vischer, a member of the Swiss green party, added that the moves made by the pro-Israel pressure groups inside the EU have the strongest influence on the European politicians’ attitude towards the Palestinian issues. He noted that the absence of a genuine European desire to put pressure on Israel in addition to the silence of the international community are the reasons for the continuation of the siege on Gaza. The IOA had banned Vischer and one of his colleagues from entering the besieged Gaza Strip during a visit in mid-June to explore the latest developments there because of his positions in support of the Palestinian rights.

EU agrees ready to boost Israel ties
Reuters, YNetNews 6/16/2008
’European Union determined to develop closer partnership with Israel,’ statement drafted by FMs convening in Luxemburg says, adding that ’process should include resolution of Israeli-Palestinian conflict through two-state solution’ -European Union states agreed on Monday they were ready to upgrade ties with Israel while urging the Jewish state to make progress on Middle East peace, officials said. "The European Union is determined to develop a closer partnership with Israel," EU foreign ministers agreed at talks in Luxembourg, according to a text obtained by. The process should take place in a context "which notably includes the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the implementation of the two-state solution," it said. The EU was due to meet later on Monday with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of Israel, which has sought a significant upgrading of relations opposed by Arab states and the Palestinian Authority especially because of Israel’s settlement building.

UN official who compared Israel to Nazis turns the spotlight on Palestinians
Reuters, Ha’aretz 6/17/2008
GENEVA - The new United Nations special investigator on Israeli behavior in the Palestinian territories said on Monday he wanted clearance to track Palestinian violations of international law. U. S. professor Richard Falk, barred from Israel after remarks comparing its forces’ actions in Gaza to those of the Nazis in wartime Europe, put his proposal to a session of the UN’s 47-member Human Rights Council (HRC). In his first address to the body, Falk said he was asking it "to consider expanding [his] mandate to also encompass inquiry into Palestinian violations of international humanitarian law" - a change that Israel has sought. Israeli leaders, and some critics of their policies, argue that Palestinian attacks on civilian targets in Israel are in breach of global pacts and should be condemned.

Israeli hurt as Grad-type rockets hit Ashkelon
Yuval Azoulay and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 6/17/2008
A Grad-type rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Monday struck an Ashkelon cemetery leaving one person lightly to moderately wounded. Another rocket exploded inside the city. The victim suffered shrapnel wounds to his neck. Several other people suffered from shock and were treated by emergency medical staff at the scene. Gaza’s Hamas rulers took responsibility for the strike. In the past, Israel has charged that Iran has supplied Hamas with Grads, smuggled into Gaza under the border with Egypt. The attack came as Egypt pressed ahead with efforts to arrange a truce to stop the daily Palestinian rocket barrages and Israel’s reprisal attacks, but Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the Hamas goal is to deliberately target innocent civilians. "It appears today’s attack is a deliberate attempt to undermine the Egypt initiative to achieve calm," the spokesman said.

Deputy Defense Min.: Residents of southern Israel should stop complaining about Qassams
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 6/17/2008
Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai on Monday criticized the Southern residents’ lack of endurance in the face of the ongoing Qassam rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. Speaking before the Knesset plenum, MK Vilnai, a Jerusalem resident, addressed calls for a government no-confidence vote, saying: "In Jerusalem we counted hundreds of victims of suicide bombings on buses. Did we complain we were unable to sleep at night? ! Did we complain there was nothing to be done? ! Did we say we’ve been abandoned? !"On Sunday, over 200 residents of the Qassam-stricken western Negev blocked the Sufa and Karni crossings into Gaza for several hours to protest the recent escalation in rocket fire from the Strip. Protesters clashed with police at Sufa crossing, and refused to allow the passage of trucks carrying goods into the Hamas-ruled territory.

VIDEO - Negev towns give up on gov’t and find their own protection
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 6/17/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for June 16, 2008. The residents of the western Negev, who endure daily Qassam rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip, have taken matters into their own hands in order to protect themselves. Despite that fact that the Defense Ministry set aside money to provide small aboveground concrete shelters for the communities near the Gaza border, it gave the government contract to only one company. And that company, which is expected to serve 50,000 residents, doesn’t have the capacity to build more than ten shelters a week.

Islamic Jihad: Zikim evacuation a victory
Ali Waked, YNetNews 6/16/2008
IDF decision to withdraw new recruits from base perceived as triumph by Gaza terror group. ’Our rockets on Zikim and the rest of the region have forced the enemy to flee. This is a massive achievement for the resistance,’ says spokesman - "The decision to evacuate recruits from the Zikim base is yet another victory for the Palestinian resistance. Yesterday Erez, tomorrow Zikim - what will be next? I leave that decision to the Israelis," a spokesman for the al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad, told Ynet on Monday. The spokesman, Abu Ahmed, said the new victory proves the Palestinian strategy is working, and that Israelis cannot bear the incessant attacks. "This is the kind of decision we have never seen before, and this is a massive achievement for the resistance," he said. The IDF is preparing to stop training new recruits at Zikim within several short months, Ynet reported on Sunday.

Upgraded Qassam crashes into Ashkelon, 1 wounded
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 6/16/2008
Rocket lands in Muslim Cemetery near city’s urban market while Hamas announces ceasefire agreement at hand - One man was lightly-to-moderately wounded after an upgraded Qassam rocket landed in the Old Muslim Cemetery near Ashkelon’s city market on Monday. The wounded man evacuated himself independently to the Barzilai Hostpial for treatment. MDA paramedics treated several people at the scene for shock. Warning sirens blared throughout the city immediately prior to the landing. Several residents reported hearing a number of blasts. "The siren went off and we ran for the fortified room. The kids have gotten used to it by now," recalled Motti, a resident of Ashkelon. "The government is making a joke out of us," he charged, "they’re talking about ceasefires while the other side is bombing us; what kind of a truce is this? It’s either a truce or war.

Vilnai to Sderot: Jerusalem suffered too
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 6/16/2008
Deputy defense minister responds to no-confidence motion against government over complaints of Gaza-vicinity communities: ’Here in Jerusalem we suffered hundreds of casualties on exploding buses. Did we complain? ’ - Unexpected rhetoric from Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai on Monday afternoon as he took the Knesset podium to rebuff the complaints voiced by residents of Gaza-vicinity communities against the leadership’s conduct in the face of the incessant rocket attacks from Palestinian terror groups. " As for the residents there - we here in Jerusalem suffered hundreds of casualties. Hundreds dead. And you know this. Whether on exploding buses and other acts of madness here, in the heart of Israel, in our Jerusalem. So did we say we can’t sleep at night? Did we say we were helpless? Did we say we were abandoned? Would I as a resident of Jerusalem ever dream of saying. . .

Nafha: Israel killed 18 Palestinians during the first two weeks of June
Palestinian Information Center 6/16/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Nafha society for the defense of human and prisoners’ rights reported that the IOF troops have killed during artillery and aerial attacks 18 Palestinians mostly in the Gaza Strip and kidnapped about 100 others in the West Bank alone and dozens in the Strip since the beginning of June. According to the monthly report issued by the society, the IOF troops killed 17 Palestinians in Gaza and one in the West Bank. The report said that among those who were kidnapped in the West Bank, there were 15 children under age 18 as well as 16-year-old girl, Salwa Salah, and Melissa Hmamra, who was kidnapped along with her husband Basim Hmamra. The IOF troop also kidnapped journalist Mohamed Al-Qiq at the container checkpoint on the outskirts of occupied Jerusalem and lawyer Fareed Hawash who works for a center concerned with prisoners’ affairs in Jenin.

Israeli forces kill three Palestinian fighters near Khan Younis
Ma’an News Agency 6/16/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinians mourned three Islamic Jihad fighters during a funeral procession in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday afternoon. The three, Yasser Abu Ulayyan, Ara Al-Breim, and Mahmoud Abu Shab, were killed during a fight with Israeli forces east of the city on Moday morning. Three other Palestinian fighters were wounded by Israeli warplanes east of the city of Rafah on Monday. The Israeli military said soldiers spotted three armed Palestinian men approaching the border wall east of Khan Younis, and shot them dead. The Israeli army mentioned that two explosive devices and rifles were found on the bodies of the three. Palestinian medical sources say that the bodies of the victims are still on the ground, because Israeli forces are shooting heavily in the area, preventing medical crews from evacuating the bodies.

Negev leaders to Peres: Residents feel abandoned
Yonat Atlas, YNetNews 6/16/2008
President visits Qassam-battered region, tells residents ceasefire with Hamas not reached, promises to expedite fortification -"We must work toward expediting the fortification process; the situation here is not simple," President Shimon Peres said Monday during a visit to Eshkol Regional Council and Kibbutz Nir Oz in the Qassam-battered western Negev region. The president told the council leaders thatPrime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to authorize the Gaza-vicinity communities to begin the fortification process independently. Eshkol Council head Haim Yalin told Peres during the meeting "I hope that following your visit here you will be able to convey to the government and the Knesset the Negev residents’ sense of abandonment in the face of Hamas and the bureaucracy regarding the fortification. . . "

3 resistance fighters killed in clash with IOF troops
Palestinian Information Center 6/16/2008
KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)-- Palestinian resistance fighters blasted an explosive device in an Israeli army jeep east of Khuza’a town, south of the Gaza Strip, at an early hour on Monday and clashed with the soldiers before being shot dead. Sources in the Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad Movement, told PIC reporter that its members managed to hit the IOF jeep which was then seen ablaze before clashing with the occupation forces then contact with three of them was lost. The IOF command said its troops killed three armed men in the same area after spotting them while approaching the security fence that separates Gaza Strip from the Palestinian lands occupied in 1948. An IOF source told the website of Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth that the soldiers entered the Palestinian side of Sufa crossing and killed the three armed men.

IDF strikes rocket launchers, 1 dead
Ali Waked, YNetNews 6/16/2008
Hamas leader says ceasefire underway but meanwhile clashes continue to rage in Gaza. In response to attacks against Israel earlier in day, IDF targets gunmen responsible for rocket fire - one Islamic Jihad operative reported killed - The truce in Gaza remains limited to rhetoric for the time being - In response to rocket attacks on Israeli communities in the western Negev throughout Monday, the IDF struck the Palestinian cell responsible for launching the attacks. Palestinian sources report that the gunman killed belongs to the al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad. The Palestinians also reported a second gunman was seriously wounded. The IDF confirmed the strike, saying forces had targeted a Qassam launching cell in northern Gaza, from where rockets had been fired towards Israel.

Palestinians killed in Gaza clash
Al Jazeera 6/16/2008
Three Islamic Jihad armed men have been killed by the Israeli army at the Gaza Strip border fence, Al-Quds brigades has said. The armed wing for the Islamic Jihad movement confirmed that a number of its fighters had clashed with Israeli forces on Monday and detonated an explosive device at an Israeli position. It said the three, operating near the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, were trying to plant a bomb that could be detonated against Israeli patrols when they came under fire. Al Jazeera’s reporter inGaza quoted Palestinian medical sources as saying that three other Palestinians were also wounded in the attack. Ceasefire attemptAn Israeli military spokesman said that troops shot three gunmen at the border fence.

Israeli forces kill 3 Palestinian armed resistance members
Palestine News Network 6/16/2008
Khan Younis / PNN -- Israeli forces shot and killed three members of the Palestinian armed resistance on Monday morning in the southern Gaza Strip. Israeli forces invaded eastern Khan Younis and shot the Palestinians near the Sofa Crossing. Israeli sources report that the men were attempting to plant explosives near the occupation base. Three members of Islamic Jihad have gone missing after they fought back against the latest invasion, while Israeli forces fired a rocket injuring three members of the Hamas-linked armed resistance. [end]

Sheikh Mohammad Hussein meets with Christian clergy
Palestine News Network 6/16/2008
Bethlehem / Najib Farraj / exclusive -- The Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, met with members of the Christian clergy in Bethlehem on Monday. The Sheikh was on a tour to view the Christian sites that Palestinians are trying to preserve under a repressive occupation. During the meeting, Governor Tamari welcomed all attendees, saying that the meeting was extremely important and had a distinct character which emphasized the depth of the relationship between Christianity and Islam in the West Bank city that is being torn apart by Israeli occupation. The meeting took place at the headquarters of the governorate and was attended by Bethlehem Governor Salah Tamari, Father Issa Musleh, pastor of the Roman Catholics in the Bethlehem province, Father William Shomali, representative of the Latin Patriarch and the President of the Institute Alakrliki in Beit Jala, Father. . .

Unknown gunmen attack a beauty-shop in Gaza
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/16/2008
Unknown gunmen attacked women beauty shop located in Rafah city in the southern part of the Gaza Strip on Monday morning. Local sources said that masked gumen planted a home made bomb in the shop and detonated it, the shop was damaged. The sources added that no Palestinian group has clamed responciblity. In recint month a series of attacks against beauty-shops and internet-coffeeshops were reported in Gaza. On late May the Palestinian Police announced that they managed to arrest a group that was attacks local shops. [end]

Islamic Jihad fighters launch three homemade projectiles
Ma’an News Agency 6/16/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad movement, announced on Monday that they shelled at anIsraeli military site east of the northern Gaza Strip, with three homemade projectiles. In a statement the Brigades said "this shelling comes in response to the Israeli attacks and invasions of the Gaza Strip. "The group said it would continue to resist Israeli occupation and attacks. [end]

Israel closes two checkpoints around Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 6/16/2008
Nablus – Ma’an - Israeli forces closed two of the main entrances to the West Bank city of Nablus, Asira Ash-Shamalia (known as "Checkpoint 17") to the north and the Huwwara checkpoint to the south, on Monday afternoon. At the Huwwara checkpoint, witnesses said Israeli soldiers closed the checkpoint for over an hour while the troops carried out what the Israelis said was a training exercise. Huwwara separates Nablus from the main Palestinian population centers to the south, such as Ramallah and Jerusalem. The Asira Ash-Shamalia checkpoint was only opened by Israeli forces in late April as a part of an Israeli pledge to east civilian movement in the occupied West Bank. The checkpoint, which consists of a metal gate that completely blocks the road, separates Nablus from villages to the north.

Two Palestinians from Bethlehem remanded to administrative detention
Ma’an News Agency 6/16/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – The Palestinian human rights organization Nafha, which focuses on the rights of prisoners, said that Israeli authorities remanded two female Palestinians to administrative detention, or imprisonment without trial, on Monday. Salwa Salah, a 16-year-old from the village of Al-Khadr, south of Bethlehem, was arrested by Israeli forces from her family’s house on 5 June, and was sentenced on Monday to four months in detention. Sarah Yasser As-Syouri, from the city of Bethlehem, was sentenced to another five months in administrative detention. Under administrative detention, Israel can hold Palestinian prisoners virtually indefinitely without formal charge or trial.

The Israeli army invades Bethlehem and kidnaps two civilians
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/16/2008
The Israeli army invaded the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem on Monday morning and kidnapped two civilians. Local sources said that Israeli troops invaded the city and surrounded a house in Deheisheh refugee camp located in Bethlehem; troops searched the house of Isssa Al Hiroup, 57, then kidnapped him along with his friend Wahed Isma’el, 30. On Saturday the Israeli army attacked Deheisheh refugee camp and tried to kidnap a 16 year old boy, the boy was not in his house. Ten Palestinian civilians were injured by the army fire on Sunday due to the Israeli attack on the refugee camp. [end]

The Israeli army kidnaps two civilians from Hebron
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/16/2008
The Israeli army kidnapped two Palestinian civilians from the southern West Bank City of Hebron on Monday. Local sources said that Israeli soldiers invaded the city center searched and ransacked homes then took the two men to unknown location. Witnesses to the attack identified the two men as Maher Al Qaqsmi, 24, and Fyisal Mahfuth, 23. Witnesses added that when soldiers attacked the house of Maher the forced the 11 members of his family in one room and kept them there for several hours. [end]

Israeli forces seize two Palestinians from Ad-Duheisha refugee camp
Ma’an News Agency 6/16/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized two Palestinians from Ad-Duheisha refugee camp in the West Bank city Bethlehem on Monday morning. Palestinian security sources said that 12 Israeli military vehicles entered the camp and apprehended Wahid Shatta and ’Isa Al-Hroub, and took them to unknown destination. Ad-Duheisha was the location of an hours-long Israeli incursion on Saturday afternoon in which five Palestinian demonstrators were injured by Israeli fire. [end]

Hamas: ''P.A Security forces arrested two members of the movement''
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 6/17/2008
Sources close to Hamas movement in the West Bank reported that Palestinian security forces, loyal to Fateh movement in the West Bank, arrested two members of Hamas on Sunday. The sources stated that in Hebron, in the southern West Bank, security forces arrested Ashraf Zohour, a student at the Polytechnic University. He was arrested at a security center after he was ordered to head there for questioning. Three days ago, security forces arrested Miqdad Abu Jheisha, the son of legislator Mohammad Abu Jheisha, who is imprisoned by Israel. In Bethlehem, security forces arrested Ibrahim Salim Al Zeer, member of Janata village council. Moreover, security forces are still holding captive Ammar Al Masry, head of the Islamic Solidarity Society, since more than 45 days. Al Masry is imprisoned at Jneid Palestinian prison.

Hamas leaves Cairo without answer on truce
Ali Waked, YNetNews 6/16/2008
Islamist group’s delegation demands further clarification prior to committing to final answer on ceasefire. Gaza armed groups say, however, they are genuinely seeking to expedite negotiations - After yet another day of fighting in southern Israel and the Gaza Strip, Hamas left Cairo on Monday evening without giving Egyptian mediators an answer regarding the burgeoning ceasefire agreement with Israel. The Hamas delegation, headed by the organization’s deputy politburo chief, Moussa Abu Marzouk, held several meetings with Egyptian intelligence minister, Gen. Omar Suleiman, over the past few days. This following a similar visit by the head of Israel’s Defense Ministry Security-Diplomatic Bureau, Maj. Gen. Amos Gilad. Gaza officials say the delegation sought more time to confer with Hamas representatives and that another visit to Cairo may be scheduled in the near future.

Barhoum: Hamas delegates still having talks over calm in Cairo
Palestinian Information Center 6/16/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement announced on Monday that its delegation in Cairo was still having talks with Egyptian officials over the issue of calm with the Israeli occupation. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said in a press release that the Hamas delegates led by deputy political bureau chairman Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk were still conducting talks over the calm proposals after receiving the Israeli reply to the Egyptian-mediated truce. At conclusion of those talks, the delegates would consult with Hamas leaders in Gaza and Damascus over the issue in order to crystallize a position regarding calm in a way coping with the higher interests of the Palestinian people and in line with national concord, the spokesman elaborated. Commenting on Israeli press speculations that an agreement of three stages was reached, Barhoum said that Hamas only depends on statements by the Egyptian mediator.

Hamas: the movement delegation is still meeting with Egyptian officials regarding the truce deal
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/16/2008
The Hamas movement issued a press statement on Monday stating that the movement delegation that left to Cairo over the week end is still their and doing talks with the Egyptian officials regarding the truce deal with Israel. Fouzi Barhum, Hamas Spokesperson in Gaza, told media that Hamas will wait until the delegates return from Cairo then formalize a response regarding the deal. The Hamas official also added that there is no deal has been made regarding the truce with Israeli and talks are still on going. The Egyptian-mediated ceasefire stipulates that Hamas will halt the fire of homemade shells into Israeli territory, in exchange for Israel lifting the 12 month-blockade and ceasing all military attacks against the Gaza Strip. Israel have set a further two demands; the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, and ensuring an end to alleged "arms smuggling" through underground tunnels on the Egypt-Gaza borders.

Haneyya: Truce agreement will be concluded separately from the issue of Shalit
Palestinian Information Center 6/16/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ismail Haneyya, the premier of the PA caretaker government, stated Monday that a truce agreement might be soon concluded, pointing out that the issue of Israeli captive soldier Gilad Shalit will be dealt with separately. During the inauguration of the headquarters of the labor ministry in Gaza city, Haneyya hailed Egypt’s efforts in this regard which was able to meet the demands of Hamas for separating the issue of the Israeli captive soldier from the calm issue. The premier expressed his hope that the calm would fulfill the Palestinian people’s demands represented in stopping the aggression, lifting the siege and opening the crossings, underlining that the truce must be simultaneous and implemented first in Gaza and then in the West Bank. He called on the PA leadership to stop its negotiations with Israel in response to its decision to build 4,000 settlement units,. . .

Hamas leader says truce talks near successful end
Reuters, YNetNews 6/16/2008
Ismail Haniyeh says Egyptian-brokered ceasefire talks between Israel, Gaza militias close to ’happy ending’, adds Hamas will be committed to agreement -Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said on Monday a successful end was in sight in Egyptian-sponsored talks on a truce in the Gaza Strip between his Islamist group andIsrael. In separate remarks, a Palestinian official familiar with the Egyptian mediation efforts said a declaration on a ceasefire, or a period of calm, was very near. "The talks under way in Egypt on calm are nearing an end, an end that would bring about what the Palestinian people aspire to - a lifting of the siege, the opening of the crossings and an end to the aggression," said Haniyeh. "We are committed to these demands. . . A reciprocal and simultaneous calm that begins in Gaza and then extends to the West Bank.

Haniyeh: Israel has agreed to negotiate Shalit issue separate from ceasefire
Ma’an News Agency 6/16/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Egyptian mediators have succeeded in separating the issue of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from a track of negotiations dealing with a proposed ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, de facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said on Monday. Haniyeh’s comment suggests that Hamas has succeeded in deflecting one of Israel’s demands in the indirect ceasefire talks. Israeli officials repeatedly asked that Shalit’s release be a part of a negotiated truce. Hamas has insisted that the issue of Shalit and the 11,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails be settled separately, so that the non-Hamas groups involved in his capture can be involved. Shalit was taken prisoner in the summer of 2006. Haniyeh made the remark during a ceremony opening a new headquarters for the Ministry of Justice affiliated to Haniyeh’s Hamas-led de facto government.

Netanyahu refuses calm, champions attacking Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 6/16/2008
NAZARETH, (PIC)-- Leader of the Israeli opposition party, the Likud, Benjamin Netanyahu has declared his absolute rejection of truce with Hamas and other Palestinian resistance factions and called for attacking Gaza. He told the Hebrew TV that Hamas should not be allowed to "prepare for new attacks on Israel through the calm". The government should take the initiative and launch ground, air and naval offensive on Hamas, he said, adding, "We must not remain hostages, Gaza is the city of terrorists". Netanyahu also advocated early Israeli elections, explaining, "We should have a strong government, which is only possible through new elections". Meanwhile, two Israeli ministers, Ze’ev Boim and Shaul Mofaz, called on the army to prepare for launching a strong onslaught on Gaza that would end up with full control on the Strip and all its crossings.

West Bank Fatah leaders traveling to Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 6/16/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A group of Fatah leaders from the West Bank are traveling to the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. The officials plan to meet with the Gaza branch of the Fatah movement to discuss Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ call for dialogue between Hamas and Fatah. They will not meet any official representative of Hamas, saying that that job is reserved for another committee. Asked why the delegation will not meet with Hamas itself, Abdullah said: "This is not the responsibility of this delegation where there is a committee formed by the President composed of the Executive Committee and representatives of the factions are in connection with Hamas will start the dialogue, which [make it the jurisdiction] of this committee. " Fatah member Abdullah Abdullah the head of the political committee in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) said the delegation will include himself,. . .

Hamas: Fatah media poison the atmosphere to hinder any attempt to restore unity
Palestinian Information Center 6/16/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement accused some media outlets affiliated with the Fatah faction of poisoning the atmosphere in order to block any attempt to hold national dialog ending the state of division in the Palestinian arena, calling for initiating direct dialog with Fatah at one table under Arab auspices without any mediation. In a press statement, Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said that the Movement has no idea about what some PA sources announced that Egypt would sponsor the dialog; besides, "we did not received any invitation in this regard", pointing out that many Arab countries expressed willingness to host the Palestinian interlocutors. Dr. Abu Zuhri underlined that Hamas wants a comprehensive political agreement abided by all parties especially the PA which did not implement its obligations stipulated in previous agreements signed in Cairo and Makkah that included the importance of rebuilding the PLO.

National Unity could Aid Ceasefire Efforts
Ahmed Yousef, MIFTAH 6/16/2008
Will there be a major incursion or a ceasefire in Gaza? That is the question Palestinians are asking themselves at the moment. On the Palestinian side, all the political and military factions have decided to accept a cease fire (tahdiyeh) if the Israeli government halts all its acts of aggression and allows all passages to Gaza, including the Rafah crossing, to reopen. Palestinians consider the ceasefire a national consensus and are awaiting an Israeli answer through the Egyptian mediator. Until now, however, Israel is delaying its response and instead reports of a massive military operation against the Gaza Strip are gaining currency. It raises the question of whether Israel is really serious about a ceasefire or is just working on widening the rift between Palestinians.

Palestinian police seize weapons in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 6/16/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian police claimed to have confiscated several Kalashnikov rifles, ammunition and grenades from a house in Gaza City on Monday. A source in the detectives’ division of the police said, "A unit of the detective service headed to a home in the Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City after investigations. With the general prosecution approval, the detectives inspected the place and found a number of Kalashnikov rifles as well as ammunition and grenades. " According to the detectives, the operation came as part of the de facto police’s efforts to fight crime and keep order. Director-general of the detectives service Abdul-Basit Al-Masri applauded the performance of his detectives.

Palestine Today 061608
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/16/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 3 m 0s || 2. 75 MB ||Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, www. imemc. org, for Monday June 16th, 2008. The Israelis killed three Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and kidnapped four from the West Bank. These stories and more, coming up, stay tuned. The News Cast Three Palestinian resistance fighters were killed and three others injured in two separate Israeli attacks in northern Gaza strip on Monday morning. Three fighters said to be members of the Al Qudes Brigade, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad group were killed when the Israeli army opened fire at a group of fighters at the border between northern Gaza Strip and Israel. Palestinian sources said a group of resistance men were planting a home made bomb when Israeli soldiers spotted them and opened fire killing all three.

Leftists’ solidarity regatta beached
Roi Mandel, YNetNews 6/16/2008
Boat owner hired to take floating leftist protest out to sea refuses to set sail when confronted with demonstrators wearing keffiyehs, waving Palestinian flags - Left-wing activists were left stranded on the shores of Herzliya Monday, after a floating protest against the siege on Gaza went awry due to one boat-owner’s refusal to set sail. The captain was hired by the leftists to take them out to sea, but he declined to do so when they arrived wearing keffiyehs and waving Palestinian flags. The leftists’ boat was to set sail simultaneously with some Gazan fishermen’s boats leaving from the Strip. "The boat owner and captain refused to set sail until the Palestinian flags were removed and the demonstrators took off their keffiyehs," Gush Shalom spokesman Adam Keller told Ynet. A vocal conflict erupted between the two sides and police were alerted on the claim that the activists were trespassing.

Gaza journalists demand the release of the investigation regarding their coworker death
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/16/2008
Scores of Palestinian journalists working for deferent media outlets protest on Monday midday in Gaza city. The march was organized to demand that the Israeli army releases the out comes of the investigation that was done regarding the death of Fadel Shana’a. Shana’a used to work as a Cameraman for Reuters, he was based in the Gaza Strip, two months ago he was documenting an Israeli invasion in the southern part of Gaza when Israeli tanks opened fire at him killing him. The journalists also implemented a five mints strike on Monday. Several speeches were done by the organizers, Shames Odeh, a Palestinian Journalist in Gaza, demanded international human right groups involvement in protecting the Palestinian press from the attacks of the army. Khalil Abu shamalih, from Al Damer center for human rights, plamed the Israeli army for trying to hide its crimes; he also criticized. . .

Journalists rally in Gaza demanding publication of Israeli investigation of journalist’s killing
Ma’an News Agency 6/16/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Dozens of journalists demonstrated in central Gaza City on Tuesday demanding that Israel publish the results of an investigation into the killing by Israeli troops of Reuters cameraman Fadil Shana’a, who died during an Israeli incursion in the Gaza Strip over two months ago. During the protest, the journalists laid down their cameras in a symbolic work stoppage. The demonstration was organized by an organization calling itself the Committee of Shana’a, and started from the Al-Shuruq tower in the center of Gaza City toward Soldier Square. Shana’a was killed when an Israeli tank shell exploded, releasing metal darts known as flechettes. Shana’a, whose vest and car were clearly marked "Press" and "TV", was filming the tank from 1. 5 km away when the Israelis opened fire. Eight other civilians were killed in the attack.

Gaza Journalists demand to see IDF inquiry into Reuters cameraman’s death
ASSOCIATED PRESS, Jerusalem Post 6/16/2008
GAZA CITY - About 60 journalists have marched through Gaza City, demanding that the IDF release the findings of an inquiry into the death of a Reuters news cameraman. Fadel Shani was killed while filming Israeli troop movements on the Israel-Gaza border two months ago. His last footage showed an IDF tank firing a shell in his direction. The IDF ordered an inquiry. Journalists marched in Gaza on Monday, demanding to see the results. The IDF replied that the inquiry has not been completed, promising to turn the findings over to the news agency when it is finished. [end]

Palestinian prisoner suffering skin disease deprived from medical care
Palestinian Information Center 6/16/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)--The family of prisoner Mahmoud Abu Jneid, who serves five life sentences in the Israeli Jalbo prison, reported Monday that the prison administration refuses to provide appropriate medical care for their son who got infected with a skin disease called vitiligo which needs quick medical treatment. The father of Abu Jneid told the PIC reporter that his son asked the Israeli jailers in the prison to provide him with medicines to prevent the spread of the disease all over his body but they always ignored him. In another context, 47 Palestinian lawmakers and a former minister in addition to dozens of officials of rural and municipal councils are held as administrative prisoners in Israeli jails at the pretext that there are secret files justifying their detention. There are also more than a thousand prisoners administratively detained in Israeli jails without any charges leveled against them.

Seven female detainees are currently under administrative detention
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/16/2008
The Israeli Prison Administration transferred two female detainees who were kidnapped recently by the army in Bethlehem to administrative detention without any charges or trial. The number of female detainees who are imprisoned under administrative detention orders arrived to seven. Recently, the Israeli authorities transferred Salwa Riziq, from Al Khader town near Bethlehem, to administrative detention for four months, and detainee Sara Yasser Al Siniora, 19, from Bethlehem City for administrative detention for five months. Both were kidnapped by the Israeli army two weeks ago. An Israeli military spokesperson claimed that the two detainees are considered "a threat to the security of the region" but did not reveal any further details. The Israeli prosecution claims having a secret file against them, but this file, if really exists, cannot be shown even to the defense attorneys.

IOA holds two females, including minor, under administrative detention
Palestinian Information Center 6/16/2008
BETHLEHEM, (PIC)-- Two Palestinian female detainees were sentenced to administrative detention after the Israeli occupation authority failed to indict either of them, legal sources reported. The lawyer of Nafha society said that the 16-year-old girl Salwa Salah, who was kidnapped from her family home on 5/6/2008, was sentenced to four months under administrative custody. He added that the other detainee Sara Yousef was sentenced to five months. The lawyer noted that both were from Bthelehm district. Meanwhile, the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, announced in Gaza its responsibility for firing two home made Qassam missiles at Ashkelon city and Netivot settlement in retaliation to the Israeli occupation forces’ crimes against the unarmed Palestinian people. The IOA said that an Israeli was injured when a Grad missile slammed the central market in Ashkelon.

''Buffer zone'' reducing Palestinian agricultural land in Gaza
Google Maps & PARC, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 6/16/2008
Israel’s "buffer zone", in existence for over a decade, has been extended in recent years - JERUSALEM/GAZA, 16 June 2008 (IRIN) - An expanding "buffer zone" between Israel and the Gaza Strip is driving Palestinians away from the Strip’s border with Israel, reducing their access to fertile land, rights groups and agricultural associations in the enclave are warning. The Israeli enforced "buffer zone" along the border with Gaza was originally supposed to stretch about 150 metres into Gaza, but organisations like the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC), a local non-governmental organisation (NGO), say this has now increased to over 1,000 metres in places, and is affecting thousands of farmers along the roughly 50km-long border with Israel. "This is deeply affecting the economy in Gaza," Ahmed Sourani, of PARC in Gaza City, told IRIN, adding that "farming is an important part of food security here.

Gaza Governor: Israeli blockade has ruined Gaza’s economy
Ma’an News Agency 6/16/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Israeli siege of Gaza and the ongoing political division between Hamas and Fatah have devastated the Palestinian economy, says Muhammad Qudwah, the governor of Gaza. In one example of how Israel’s year-old closure of the Gaza Strip’s border crossings have hampered Palestinian industries, Qudwah said that thousands of containers of cargo destined for Gaza are sitting on the docks of Israeli ports. Gaza’s own port is blockaded by the Israeli Navy. Qudwah said that the delay is costing Palestinian importers millions of dollars. The Palestinian Authority intends to appeal to the European Union and to international organizations to secure the release of the cargo. Qudwah said that 90% of factories in the Gaza Strip have shut down to Israel’s blockade. 150,000 jobs have been lost because raw materials have been blocked from entering Gaza.

Gisha and Gazan students appeal to Rice for intervention in Gaza’s closure
Marian Houk, Ma’an News Agency 6/16/2008
Jerusalem - The Israeli human rights organization Gisha, which has been working for, among other things, the rights of Palestinian students to travel abroad for opportunities in higher education that are absent in Gaza, appealed on Sunday evening to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice not to forget the hundreds of students who are still trapped in the Gaza Strip. Rice arrived in the region over the weekend to see if any progress could be made in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Gisha’s Executive Director, Sari Bashi, issued a statement saying that "despite promises by Israel to change the policy trapping students in the Gaza Strip and despite comments by Secretary of State Rice regarding the importance of access to education for the future of the region – Israel is still preventing hundreds of students from. . . "

Rice urges Israel to ease West Bank living conditions
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 6/17/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday pressed Israel to ease living conditions in the Occupied West Bank after warning that the growth of illegal settlements there and in Jerusalem was harming peace talks. Rice also raised the issue of the more-than-600 checkpoints and roadblocks scattered across the West Bank in a meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Barak said he would consider the possibility of removing barriers on a case-by-case basis, but stressed that on the whole they were needed for security reasons, according to Defense Ministry officials. The two were then joined by Palestinian Premier Salam Fayyad, who has been heading up efforts to revitalize the West Bank economy and the deployment of newly trained security Palestinian forces. On her 17th trip to the region in less than two years, Rice again tried to inject fresh momentum. . .

Envoy says Olmert wants direct talks with Assad
Ron Bousso, Daily Star 6/17/2008
Agence France Presse OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel and Syria concluded a second round of indirect peace talks under Turkish mediation on Monday and agreed to continue meeting on a regular basis, a senior Israeli official said. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s top advisers, Shalom Turjeman and Yoram Turbowitz, ended two days of discussions in Turkey which touched mainly on procedural issues, the official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity. "The discussions were held in a positive and constructive atmosphere. The two sides reiterated their commitment to make progress in the talks and to meet on a regular basis," he said shortly after the talks ended. He added that the teams set dates to meet twice again in the coming weeks "within the same framework. "The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a brief statement that the two sides held two days of talks in a "constructive and positive atmosphere. . . "

UN special envoy criticizes Israel for talks with Syria
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 6/17/2008
A senior United Nations official has harshly criticized Israel’sindirect negotiations with Syria, whose second round ended yesterday, charging that "Israel has given Syria a huge gift, without thus far receiving anything in exchange. "Terje Roed-Larsen, the UN secretary-general’s special envoy for the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559, made the comments last week in a conversation with Israeli diplomats. In a classified telegram to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, Israel’s UN delegation wrote that Larsen had complained that "Syria is receiving legitimacy for free. ""Europe is courting the Syrians because of the negotiations with Israel, and they are no longer being asked to give anything in exchange," the telegram quoted Larsen as saying.

VIDEO - Olmert-Assad handshake on table to boost peace talks with Syria
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 6/17/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 news roundup for June 16, 2008. The second round of peace talks between Israel and Syria come to an end. A prisoner exchange agreement with Hezbollah is reportedly around the corner. Kadima officially calls for internal primaries.

Second round of talks with Syria end on positive note
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 6/16/2008
Olmert aides Turgeman, Turbovich complete second round of talks with Syria through Turkish mediation, return to Israel with positive message about future of peace negotiations - Olmert aides Turgeman, Turbovich complete second round of talks with Syria through Turkish mediation, return to Israel with positive message about future of peace negotiationsIsraeli representatives on Monday finished the second round of indirect talks with their Syrian counterparts through Turkish mediation. The representatives told the Prime Minister’s Office that the talks "had a positive and constructive atmosphere. " Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s aides, Yoram Turbovich and Shalom Turgeman, left for Turkey on Saturday night. Following the meetings the two notified Olmert that "there had been a reiteration of the common will to continue with the talks.

Israel, Syria resume indirect talks
Middle East Online 6/16/2008
JERUSALEM - Israel and Syria resumed over the weekend indirect peace talks under Turkish mediation, Israeli military radio reported on Monday. Two close advisors to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Shalom Turjeman and Yoram Turbowitz, traveled to the Turkish capital Ankara for the latest round of the talks that began Sunday and were set to wrap up on Monday, the radio station said. Israeli President Shimon Peres on Sunday publicly called upon Syria to enter into direct talks, citing the example of former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, who forged a peace deal with the Jewish state. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said earlier this month that direct peace talks with Israel were unlikely before 2009, and added that they also depended on the fate of Olmert, who has been dogged by calls for his resignation over a graft scandal.

Turkish medical team operates on victims of IOF aggression in Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 6/16/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Basem Naim, the health minister in the PA caretaker government in Gaza, has received a Turkish medical team affiliated with the doctors of the world who arrived in Gaza on Sunday and started operating on victims of the Israeli ceaseless aggressions. The minister briefed the team members on the tragic situation in the Gaza Strip as a result of the Israeli siege that led to the death of many patients, the figure now stands at 190, other than the acute shortage in medicines and medical equipment. The Turkish team members expressed absolute solidarity with the Palestinian cause and affirmed readiness to extend medical assistance to the health ministry. The Turkish doctors operated on Palestinian patients in need of brain, nerve and bone surgeries. The discussions also tackled means of boosting joint cooperation in the health field and sending Turkish medical missions. . .

A year later: Hamas still defiant, but Gazans continue to struggle
Rafael D. Frankel, The Christian Science Monitor, ReliefWeb 6/16/2008
The Islamist militant group has controlled the coastal strip for a year now and says it will not relent to international pressure. - JABALIYAH, GAZA - Few Gazans are making any money these days. There are the shopkeepers who profit from selling cooking oil to fuel motorists’ dilapidated diesels and the donkey-cart drivers who find more fares every day. But for most, the economy in Gaza has ground to a halt a year after the Islamists of Hamas routed the secular Fatah Party in a violent coup. Today, Hamas’s year in power is felt everywhere. While Gaza suffers under an Israeli blockade, it has been changed from a lawless territory to one that is relatively safe. But by most Western standards of governance, Hamas has failed. Hospitals lack medicine. Raw sewage streams into the sea. Drinking water is in short supply.

Rice urges UN to address Shebaa Farms issue during Beirut stop
Hussein Abdallah, Daily Star 6/17/2008
BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman has asked the United States to help Lebanon restore its sovereignty over the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms and Kfar Shuba Hills, according to a Presidential Palace statement. Sleiman said during a meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Beirut that reaching a permanent and comprehensive solution for the ongoing crisis in the Middle East would reflect positively on the situation in Lebanon. The president told Rice that a fair solution to the crisis in the region could not be achieved without guaranteeing the right of Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homeland. Rice made an unannounced visit to Lebanon Monday to bolster the troubled country’s new president, as rival politicians still struggle to form a new cabinet. Rice said she made her lightning trip to express US "support for Lebanese democracy, for Lebanese sovereignty.

Family of captive soldier: Deal with Hezbollah developing
Barak Ravid Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 6/17/2008
Jack Khoury Tags:Lebanon IsraelIDFThe brother of one of two Israel Defense Forces soldiers abducted in 2006 by Hezbollah sought Monday afternoon to downplay remarks by his father earlier in the day that a deal had been finalized for the return of the troops. He confirmed, however, that a deal was in the works. Eldad Regev was seized with fellow reservist Ehud Goldwasser in July 2006 in a raid by Hezbollah across the Israel-Lebanon border. The attack sparked the 34-day Second Lebanon War. Eldad’s father, Zvi, said Monday that his family and that of Goldwasser have been informed that a deal for the abductees’ return to Israel had been finalized. "Ofer Dekel told us, speaking generally, that there is going to be a deal - and that’s it," Regev told Israel Radio, referring to Israel’s chief negotiator for securing the release of abducted IDF soldiers.

Medical aid for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon
Government of Ireland, ReliefWeb 6/15/2008
The Minister of State for Overseas Development, Peter Power T. D. , today announced a funding package of €241,000 for the NGO, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP). The funds will be used for a maternal and child health outreach programme in the Nahr El Bared Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. Announcing the grant, Minister Power emphasised the Government’s continuing commitment to support the Palestinian refugee population in the West Bank and Gaza and across the Middle East. He said: ‘The dangers and uncertainties of the lives of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon were demonstrated last year by the appalling violence in and around the Nahr El Bared refugee camp. 85% of the homes in the camp were destroyed in the fighting. International assistance is urgently needed to rebuild and to meet vital humanitarian needs.

Rice, in Beirut, voices U.S. backing for gov’t that ups Hezbollah’s power
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 6/17/2008
BEIRUT - U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice put an American stamp of approval Monday on plans for a new government in Lebanon that would increase the power of Hezbollah militants. Rice made an unannounced visit to Lebanon’s capital to meet with Western-backed leaders of an emerging coalition government, which the country’s factions are still negotiating over. The U. S. regards Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hezbollah as a terrorist group and has no dealings with it. "Congratulations," Rice said as she shook hands with Michel Suleiman, the army chief elected last month as president. "We are all just very supportive of your presidency and your government. " She introduced members of the U. S. delegation to him as they sat down for their meeting at the presidential palace.

Rice visits Lebanon to support president
Middle East Online 6/16/2008
BEIRUT - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on a visit to Beirut on Monday that it was time for UN action on a disputed Lebanese border district occupied by Israel that Shiite militant group Hezbollah has pledged to liberate. "The United States believes that the time has come to deal with the Shebaa Farms issue. . . in accordance with (UN Security Council Resolution) 1701," Rice said after discussing the matter with Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora. She told reporters Washington intends to press UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to "lend his good offices" to resolve the dispute over sovereignty over the district at the meeting place of the borders between Israel, Lebanon and Syria. "The secretary general should intensify his efforts," she said. Rice said she made the trip to "express the United States’ support for Lebanese democracy, for Lebanese sovereignty.

Rice makes unannounced visit to Lebanon
Reuters, YNetNews 6/16/2008
US Secretary of state to meet President Suleiman and Prime Minister-designate Siniora. ’’I don’t think there is bad blood between the United States and Lebanon, quite the contrary,’ she says -US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made an unannounced visit to Lebanon on Monday and said she wanted to support the country’s democracy following a power-sharing deal last month that ended 18 months of political crisis. "I also am going to express the United States’ support for Lebanese democracy, for Lebanese sovereignty, and to talk about how the United States can support the institutions of a free Lebanon," Rice told reporters as she flew to Beirut. Rice plans to meet Lebanese President Michel Suleiman as well as Prime Minister-designate Fouad Siniora, parliament speaker Nabih Berri and majority leader Saad Hariri.

Bush nominates new ambassador at US Embassy in Beirut
ASSOCIATED PRESS, Jerusalem Post 6/16/2008
WASHINGTON - US President George W. Bush is nominating Michele J. Sison, acting head of the US Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, to become ambassador. Sison was US ambassador to the United Arab Emirates from 2004 until January of this year. She also has had assignments in South Asia and Africa. Bush’s office announced her nomination to head the Beirut embassy on Monday. The US Senate must confirm her nomination. [end]

Alliance in question
Omayma Abdel-Latif, Al-Ahram Weekly 6/12/2008
Following Hizbullah’s muscle flexing in Beirut, questions abound as to the relation between Al-Hariri and radical Salafist backers - Almost two weeks after the Doha agreement put an end to 18 months of political conflict in Lebanon, the situation on the ground remains shaky. Sectarian and partisan-inspired incidents have become almost a daily occurrence in Beirut and other areas. In the past week alone, Lebanese opposition forces documented 37 instances in which its supporters have been subject to physical attack in the capital’s Tareq Jdeeda district alone, hotbed of Saad Al-Hariri’s Tayyar Al-Mustaqbal (Future Movement) supporters. Such incidents, however, remain isolated and mostly individually based. The Hizbullah-led takeover of Al-Mustaqbal offices in Beirut last month undoubtedly led to unintended consequences. The targeting of opposition supporters is one. More serious, however, is providing radicals amongst Al-Mustaqbal’s Islamist supporters with ammunition to fan the flames of sectarian tension.

Lebanon: Statement by UNRWA Commissioner-General at the NBC donor conference preparatory meeting
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in, ReliefWeb 6/9/2008
Beirut, 9 June 2008 - Your Excellencies: colleagues and friends, thank you all for being with us today. Our intention at this preparatory meeting is to clearly outline the most important issues concerning the reconstruction of Nahr el Bared camp, to clarify any preliminary questions and thus to set the stage for the Vienna donor conference on 23rd June. The Vienna conference will be an event of critical importance, not only for UNRWA but also for Palestine refugees, the Government and people of Lebanon and the entire region. It presents an opportunity to advance in a concrete, meaningful way, the positive, compassionate approach the Lebanese government is taking to the plight of refugees displaced from Nahr el Bared, and to the Palestine refugee issue as whole. In Vienna, we will have the chance – individually and in concert – to turn the corner towards a more promising era for Lebanon and for Palestine refugees.

Environmentalists unite against Red-Dead canal
Dalia Tal, Globes Online 6/16/2008
Yitzhak Tshuva’s venture includes excavating several lakes and building 200,000 hotel rooms. - Environmental action groups have declared war on the intentions of President Shimon Peres and Delek Group controlling shareholder Yitzhak Tshuva to promote the Red-Dead canal plan through fast track legislation designed to bypass the Planning and Building Law (1965). The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel The Friends of the Earth Middle EastThe Israel Union For Environmental Defense Green Course - Students for the EnvironmentLife & Environment , andZalul , have announced the setting up of a coalition whose goal is to stop the project from going forward, unless it is introduced under the framework of existing legislation, and is subjected to a thorough public debate. Tshuva’s venture, which has been described as "Las Vegas in the Arava", includes. . .

Arab parties to Olmert’s rescue
Sharon Roffe-Ophir, YNetNews 6/16/2008
MKs from Arab factions announce they will vote against dissolution of Knesset next week, preferring Olmert to projected rise of Opposition leader Netanyahu -Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stands to receive the protection of unexpected allies as he faces a plenum vote to dissolve the Knesset. Parliament’s Arab parties, it has become apparent, plan to object to the dissolution motion when it is brought to a preliminary vote next week. Elections at this point, they fear, will lead to a government far from their liking. " The fact that the prime minister is under investigation shouldn’t necessarily mean he must resign," MK Talab El-Sana (United Arab List - Ta’al) told Ynet on Monday. " We don’t think we should be handing out rewards to the Right. Prime ministers have always been under investigation, I don’t recall that the Right was quite so adamant. . .

Good kid: US Tretament of Captured Children
Tamam Ahmed Jama, Al-Ahram Weekly 6/12/2008
A UN panel has criticised the US for its treatment of captured children in American custody, reports from Ottawa A new report by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child criticises the US for its treatment of captured children held in Iraq, Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay. " The committee notes the presence of considerable numbers of children in US-administered detention facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan," states the panel’s report, published last week. "The committee is concerned over the number of children detained over extended periods of time, in certain instances for one year or more, without adequate access to legal advisory services or physical and psychological recovery measures. . . [as well as] reports indicating the use of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detained children. " The panel expressed a particular concern over the indefinite detention of children in Guantanamo

U.S. official: W. Bank still same after Israel lifted roadblocks
Avi Issacharoff, and Agencies, Ha’aretz 6/17/2008
The roadblocks and other traffic impediments lifted by Israel in the West Bank in recent months have not significantly altered the situation on the ground for the Palestinian population, an American official involved in monitoring Israel-Palestinian Authority relations said Monday. The same official noted that the Palestinian Authority security forces have taken action to counter terrorist activities, and carried out a major operation in Jenin where they tried to arrest suspects who had been on Israel’s wanted list. "The security forces can do even more, but they have had some successes," he said. The American official said the U. S. administration is not providing the PA security forces with arms, and stressed that according to information received by the Americans, weapons recently transfered to the PA did not make their way to Islamic militants.

L.A. mayor calls visit to Qassam-battered town Sderot ’inspiring’
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 6/16/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met on Sunday with New MexicoGovernor Bill Richardson and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, both in Israel this week. Villaraigosa, on his first trip to Israel as mayor, visited the Qassam-battered town of Sderot and called it an ’inspiring’ experience. "In 15 years of public life, I’ve had a long relationship with Jewish leaders and the state of Israel," he said. "Meeting with the students and seeing the resilience and their attempts at normalcy while withstanding the barrage of rocket attacks - it was inspiring. " Villaraigosa, on a seven-day trip to the Israel, handed the prime minister a jersey of L. A. Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant during their talks. Villaraigosa called himself a longtime friend of the prime minister and said the gift reflects that there is no better ambassador for the city of Los Angeles than Kobe Bryant.

Rice condemns Israel’s settlement activity
Middle East Online 6/16/2008
JERUSALEM - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wraps up a Middle East tour on Monday after strongly condemning Jewish settlement activity in the occupied West Bank. She was holding a one-on-one meeting with Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak where she was also expected to press for the removal of more of over 600 checkpoints and roadblocks scattered across the West Bank. The two were then to be joined by Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, who has been heading up efforts to revitalise the West Bank economy and the deployment of newly-trained Palestinian forces. "We have not made the progress that we would like to in terms of movement and access, removal of barriers," Rice said on Sunday at a press conference with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in the West Bank town of Ramallah. "Particularly, I am concerned about the outposts which are, after all, illegal. . .

Falk asks to investigate Palestinian rights abuses
News agencies, YNetNews 6/16/2008
UN rights expert criticized for equating Israelis to Nazis requests mandate to investigate Palestinian violations of international law as well as Israel’s, but asks to exclude Palestinian internal violence from his analysis - Richard Falk, a Jewish professor emeritus at Princeton University and UN expert charged with investigating Israeli rights abuses against Palestinians said his role is biased and should be widened to include violations carried out by Palestinians as well. Falk asked the UN Human Rights Council on Monday to address persistent criticism of his post by changing the job description. "I think the idea of investigating violations of international humanitarian law only make sense if all the relevant parties are included," Falk remarked after the meeting. Attention has been diverted from Israel’s human rights abuses in the Palestinian territories by those who argue his role is one-sided and biased, he said.

Rabbinical courts to be prohibited from annulling conversion
Neta Sela, YNetNews 6/16/2008
New bill demands amendment to Rabbinical Courts’ Jurisdiction Act, in attempt to protect converts from living in fear, encourage future immigrants’ conversion -Following the outrage around the controversial High Rabbinical Court ruling by Judge Avraham Sherman,annulling all conversions conducted by Head of the Israeli Conversion Court Rabbi Haim Drukman, a new bill was submitted to the Knesset Sunday, aiming to prevent future incidents of this nature. The bill, submitted by MK Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor), demanded an amendment to the existing law, prohibiting the court from annulling conversions. The amendment to the law will be part of the Rabbinical Courts’ Jurisdiction Act, stating that "despite what exits in the law or any other judgment, a rabbinical court will not be able to rule on annulling a person’s conversion," proposed Pines.

Corruption charges abounded even in Ben Gurion’s day
Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 6/16/2008
Allocating land to political organizations in contravention ofregulations. Using military funding for non-security projects. Raising funds from rich American Jews for a sitting prime minister. Exploiting the residents of poor areas. These activities may sound like they were ripped from the headlines, but they are not new trends. Recent research by historian Dr. Zvi Zameret indicates that all this dubious behavior can be attributed to Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, and dates back to nearly 50 years ago, when he worked to found an educational institution in the heart of the Negev that became Midreshet Sde Boker, a collection of about two dozen research and educational centers. Ben-Gurion decided to found such an institution in Sde Boker in 1954, while he was on a 15-month break from politics and living on Kibbutz Sde Boker.

Aoun: Distribution, not names, holding up cabinet formation
Hussein Abdallah and Nafez Qawas, Daily Star 6/17/2008
BEIRUT: Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) leader MP Michel Aoun was adamant on his formula for the next cabinet despite a meeting with President Michel Sleiman aimed at eliminating differences and facilitating the formation of the new cabinet, well informed sources told The Daily Star on Monday. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Aoun compared the formation of the new government to piecing together a puzzle. "There is puzzle that needs to be pieced together. . . a small piece is still missing. " Aoun said that the main problem regarding the formation of the new cabinet lies not in the names of the different ministers, but in how to distribute cabinet portfolios in a fair and balanced way. "Allocating cabinet portfolios in a balanced manner is all that matters. . . There is no veto on any candidate," Aoun said.


Kites rise above the divisions in Gaza
Mohammed Omer, Electronic Intifada 6/16/2008
      GAZA CITY, 15 June (IPS) - Mahmoud Abu Teior, 13, knows it’s Abdullah’s kite up in the skies, though he has never seen Abdullah. But that kite rises into the skies from across the Egyptian side of the border across from Gaza. And, Mahmoud knows Abdullah’s voice because they speak sometimes. They have never met, and likely never will, but they are connected through their kites.
     It’s that time of the year. The holidays bring scores of children to play together -- across the dividing line. And despite the iron wall of separation, they form friendships.
     Mahmoud has always known the border as a playground. This is where the family home was before it was demolished by Israel to make room for the border wall. "I always come here because this is where our house used to be," he says, launching his kite.
     Most children still play from "home," where Block O, Yebna, Block J, or the al-Salam neighborhood used to be. The playground is that strip of no man’s land known as the Philadelphia corridor, where more than 2,400 homes were razed ahead of the "disengagement" by Israel in 2005. That same "disengagement" made about 16,800 people homeless here, according to UN figures.

Net tightens around Gaza fishermen

Nora Barrows-Friedman, Electronic Intifada 6/16/2008
      GAZA CITY, 16 June (IPS) - When the broiling sun sinks behind the rolling Mediterranean sea in Gaza, hundreds of fishing boats turn on their motors and assemble ragged nets to round up the evening catch. Flickering blue lights scatter across the shallow seas as the boats gather offshore in close quarters. Mackerel, sardine and grey mullet are caught in nets and dumped into plastic crates to be sold in the street markets. But under severe military occupation dominating the Gaza strip, it has become increasingly difficult to make a living as a Gaza fisherman.
     Since the Israeli-imposed sanctions against Gaza began in June 2007, extreme pressure intended to further isolate the democratically-elected Hamas leadership has resulted in massive fuel shortages and a near-total collapse of basic economic infrastructure. Factories have had to shut their doors, and all exports have ground to a halt as a result of the blockade policy.
     Electricity across Gaza is intermittent, and sewage treatment plants are having to cut back their processing schedules, or abandon operations altogether. Millions of gallons of raw sewage are being dumped, therefore, into the sea, creating serious health risks at a time when hospitals and clinics across the Gaza strip are also suffering medicine and equipment shortages due to the Israeli blockade.

1,300 more settler units in defiance of international law

Mazin Qumsiyeh, Palestine News Network 6/16/2008
      Israel will build 1,300 more housing units in the illegal colonies in East Jerusalem.The US government over the past 6 decades had shifted its position from calling such settlement/colony activity "absolutely illegal", "illegal", "contrary to obligations under International law", "an obstacle to peace", "contrary to road map obligations", "a hindrance to peace", and finally "not helpful to the atmosphere between the Israelis and the Palestinians".The atmosphere!!?
     Let us look at the atmosphere: seven million Palestinian refugees and displaced people denied their right to return to their homes and lands, 93% of the Palestinian lands stolen in six decades of colonization, 600 checkpoints, an apartheid wall, half a million colonists living on stolen Palestinian land in areas illegally occupied since 1967, an apartheid wall, denial of right of families to live in their own lands, literal economic starvation/strangulation of remaining people, and denial of right to medical services, education, (e.g. in Gaza), etc.

Further settlement and negotiations are still continuing ... Until when?

Editorial, Palestine News Network 6/16/2008
      Despite all the international pressure and laws, Israel is continuing settlement expansion, riding roughshod over all the conventions and items.
     Everyday we hear about new settlement units built, while international and Palestinian pressure is put forth in the resistance movement, both armed and nonviolent, but there are no practical steps on the ground taken by the Israelis to stop its process of ethnic cleansing.
     In a statement to PNN, Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department in the Palestine Liberation Organization, Dr. Sa’eb Erekat, said, "The Israeli government put forward bids to build 1,731 housing units in settlements as of December 2007 through June 2008; all of this since the convening of the Annapolis Conference."
     The ridiculous thing is that despite the statements denouncing the continuing refusal of the Palestinian Authority for this settlement scheme and the direct contravention to international law, the people see only an increase in settlements and further expansion work.

What I Saw and Israeli Lies about Bil’in

Kim Bullimore, MIFTAH 6/16/2008
      Once again, the Israeli military lied to its citizens and the rest of the world.
     In an article publishedJune 6 on YNet, the online version of the Israeli mass daily Yedioth Ahronoth, the Israeli military claimed that it was justified in attacking an anti-wall and anti-occupation demonstration, in which an Irish Nobel Peace Laureate and the Vice President of the European Parliament participated, because demonstration participants were "rioting" and "throwing stones" at the Israeli military [1]
     In the YNet article about the weekly non-violent demonstration against the apartheid wall and the illegal Israeli occupation in Bil’in village located near Ramallah in the Occupied West Bank, the Israeli military claimed that "about 70 Palestinians and left-wing activists took part in the protest and hurled stones at security forces, who used crowd dispersal means in response". They went on to state that the IDF "regretted the fact that ’week after week large numbers of security forces need to deal with Israeli rioters, who turned public disturbances into a regular occurrence’.

Israel’s gulag

Saleh Al-Naami, Al-Ahram Weekly 6/12/2008
      Already living atop of one another, Gaza’s people under siege are effectively inmates in a concentration camp.
     Zahir Abu Shaaban has been on edge for the last seven months. He is afraid that his life dream won’t come true -- his dream of completing his computer engineering postgraduate studies in the United States. He thought that his dream had come within reach when he was awarded a Fulbright fellowship, which the US State Department awards each year to a number of Palestinian students. Abu Shaaban and six other Palestinians were awarded the fellowship after competing with hundreds, and Abu Shaaban thought the State Department would guarantee his and his colleagues’ safe travel. He was sorely disappointed when Israel blocked his travel. Israeli domestic intelligence even attempted to bargain with him, stipulating that in order to be allowed to travel he would have to become an informer and provide information on resistance movements.
     Last Tuesday, Abu Shaaban applied at the Erez Crossing’s Shin Bet office for permission to travel to Jerusalem in order to obtain a US entry visa from the American consulate. He told Al-Ahram Weekly that he was surprised when the Shin Bet officer tried to blackmail him. The officer asked Abu Shaaban to inform him about all the employees at the Islamic University who are affiliated with Hamas, just because he works there as a teaching assistant. Abu Shaaban tried to convince the officer that he is an independent individual and doesn’t belong to any organisation, but the interrogator was stern and decisive: either Abu Shaaban agrees to cooperate with Israeli intelligence or he could forget about the idea of completing his education in the US. After Abu Shaaban rejected the threats and blackmail of the interrogator, who tried for two hours to convince him, Abu Shaaban was thrown out of the office and made to wait two hours until soldiers returned his identity card and told him to return to Gaza.

Shouting in the hills

Basel Oudat, Al-Ahram Weekly 6/12/2008
      When Israel annexed the Golan, it claimed to be doing so for historical reasons. But its real motives had more to do with water resources, agricultural potential and tourist attraction.
     Two scenes are hard to forget for most Syrians. One is the scene of relatives having to communicate through loudspeakers across the no- man land in Ain Al-Tina, where 400 metres of barbed wired and landmines have left many families divided in the Golan. International troops and Israeli soldiers watch as parents, mothers, and grandchildren shout family news from hilltops. Some of those doing the shouting haven’t met in decades, others never.
     Another scene is that of a bride in flowing wedding gown, surrounded with family members on the Syrian side, waiting to make the crossing. On the other side is her bridegroom, watching and waiting. The bride is escorted by Red Cross officials, flanked by international troops. The family waves to the departing daughter, leaving for a land no longer accessible. The two newly-wedded may not have met before, their marriage having being arranged by mail or other means. Or maybe they had a brief encounter during a family reunion in Jordan, a land both sides of the family are allowed to visit.

Existence is resistance

Serene Assir, Al-Ahram Weekly 6/12/2008
      A year of Israeli crimes and international complicity on the back of decades of occupation.
     With the deference of the international community, Israel has maintained a total blockade on Gaza since 9 June 2007.
     Amnesty International described conditions borne from the siege as the gravest humanitarian crisis Gaza has experienced to date. Barring the Hamas-instigated 10-day breach of the border with Egypt in January-February 2008, Gaza’s borders to the outside world have been blocked for the overwhelming majority of this time.
     The siege directly violates the freedom of movement of Gaza’s 1.5 million Palestinian residents. More than this, it also confirms and emboldens Israel’s illegal occupation while sharpening the effects of unjustifiable sanctions imposed by the international community following the democratic election of Hamas to government in 2006.
     It is the first time in history that the international community imposes sanctions on an occupied people. Effectively, what the Palestinian people of Gaza are subject to is a grotesquely perfected, long drawn-out war crime -- a crime with which everyone is rendered complicit if silent.

Dialogue of the deaf?

Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah, Al-Ahram Weekly 6/12/2008
      Are Fatah and Hamas really going to talk?
     In a terse speech marking 41 years since the 1967 Arab- Israeli war, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for a broad national dialogue with Hamas that would bolster national unity and place the Palestinian people in a better position to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
     "I call for a comprehensive national dialogue in order to implement the Yemeni initiative [between Fatah and Hamas]... We are doing this in order to end the national division that has caused the worst damage ever to our cause and increased the level of suffering of our people in Gaza," said Abbas.
     quot;For this national dialogue to succeed I will act on the Arab and international levels to secure the support we need to augment the move in a way that will restore to our people their national unity and provide a stronger guarantee for the restoration of our inalienable rights to self determination, return and independent statehood."

On a collision course

Saleh Al-Naami, Al-Ahram Weekly 6/12/2008
      Is Israel planning to launch a war against Gaza?
     Over the past 10 months, observers have been expecting an Israeli offensive in Gaza, notwithstanding Egyptian efforts to arrange a truce between the Israelis and Hamas. Yediot Aharonot ’s military analyst Ron Ben-Yishai says that it is impossible for Israel to agree to the Egyptian initiative, not after the recent attacks by the Palestinian resistance. Israeli leaders, commanders, and intelligence officials believe that a truce would be seen as a victory of Hamas. The latter says that the rocket attacks are its way of telling Israel to lift the blockade.
     A truce would only undermine Israel’s power of deterrence, as the Palestinians are likely to perceive Israel’s agreement as a sign of weakness, Ben-Yishai argues. He cites a senior Israeli officer as saying that Israel must strike at Gaza before accepting any truce with Hamas. Israel has made it clear that no truce is possible unless the smuggling of weapons stops and Hamas tones down its conditions for the release of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.