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

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17 June 2008

Six killed as Israeli warplanes strike Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 6/17/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – Six Palestinians were killed in three Israeli air strikes on civilian cars in the southern and central Gaza Strip on Tuesday afternoon. Witnesses said the first attack targeted a jeep near the town of Al-Qarara, north of the city of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, killing five and injuring others. The director of the ambulance and emergency department in the Palestinian Health Ministry, Mu’awiyya Hassanein, said the bodies arrived in "charred pieces" at the hospital. Meanwhile, a second air strike targeted another jeep near the Mediterranean coast in Deir Al-Balah governorate in the central Gaza Strip, killing one and injuring another. The third attack targeted a Hyundai on Al-Baraka street in the city of Deir Al-Balah, less than half an hour after the other attacks. Medical sources confirmed that three people were wounded in the raid, one of them seriously.

500 homes invaded in Beit Furiq
International Solidarity Movement 6/17/2008
Nablus RegionPhotos At 12:30am on Tuesday 17th June, hundreds of Israeli soldiers invaded the village of Beit Furiq, near Nablus, and imposed curfew for ten hours while they invaded and occupied approximately five hundred Palestinian homes. At 12am, the newly-installed Palestinian Authority(PA) police station was contacted by Israeli forces, with police there informed to close the station and for all PA police to stay inside. Villagers report that Israeli soldiers initially entered the village on foot, and with faces painted black, in groups of ten, knocked on doors of homes throughout all parts of the village, breaking them down if they were not answered, or not answered quickly enough. Families were then forced either out of their homes into the street, or all into one room as the soldiers brought in dogs and mysterious machines - searching and ransacking homes.

Israel Brushes Aside U.S. Pressure over Statehood Deal
Adam Entous, MIFTAH 6/17/2008
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel sought on Monday to lower U. S. expectations for any deal with the Palestinians this year, brushing aside pressure over settlements and calling for decisions on Jerusalem’s future to be deferred. U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ended her sixth trip to the region this year with no sign of progress in nudging both sides toward a peace deal by the end of 2008. She held three-way talks with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad before making a surprise visit to Beirut. Disputes over Jewish settlement expansion on occupied West Bank land and a corruption scandal that may topple Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have undercut U. S. efforts to reach a statehood deal before President George W. Bush steps down in January, officials in the region said.

Gaza truce to begin Thursday - Egypt
Adel Zaanoun, Daily Star 6/18/2008
Agence France Presse GAZA CITY: Israel and Hamas have agreed to begin a Gaza truce in two days, Egyptian mediators said on Tuesday after months of negotiations to try to halt bloodshed in and around the impoverished territory. "We have succeeded in securing the agreement of the two sides to a complete cessation of hostilities and military action from Thursday," Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki told AFP in Cairo. "This is a reciprocal and simultaneous period of calm," Zaki added. "Egypt will continue its efforts to deal with the current situation in order to consolidate the calm and move on to the implementation of other parts of the proposals. "Zaki did not spell out the other parts of the truce package, but an Egyptian official said that a key element was the reopening of the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, the territory’s only one that bypasses Israel, a core demand of Hamas.

VIDEO - 18 injured and ambulance shot at during demonstration in Ni’lin
International Solidarity Movement 6/17/2008
Ramallah RegionVideo On Monday 16th June 11 am the villagers of Nilin organised a protest march against the building site of the apartheid wall near Ni’lin. About 200 people participated, among them Israelis and internationals. The Israeli army shot tear gas and rubber bullets against the protesters. Eight people were wounded by rubber bullets, among them one international, who was shot in the leg with the bullet entering his leg. Another ten had to be treated for tear gas inhalation. Witnesses report that one ambulance was being shot at by the soldiers during the demonstration. The reason why the villagers of Nilin protest is that their land is being confiscated by the Israeli state to make way for the building of the apartheid wall. They demand that Israel follow international law and stop the building of the wall.

Report: U.S. urges Israeli pullout from disputed Golan area
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 6/18/2008
The United States is pressing for an Israeli withdrawal from a disputed Golan Heights area located on the border with Lebanon, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the Arabic language daily Al-Hayyat on Sunday. According to the report, Rice told Lebanese leaders during her unexpected visit to Beirut that the US would bolster its efforts in the coming weeks toward pushing Israel to pull out from the Shaba Farms. The a-Sharq al-Awset newspaper had a similar report this week, in which it claimed that US supports an Israeli withdrawal from the area. The region, a small area in the foothills of the Golan Heights, is considered Lebanese by the Lebanese government but the United Nations says it is Syrian land. Israel annexed the area in the 1967 Six-Day War, a move not recognized by the international community.

’Three Dead’ in Fresh Gaza Clash
BBC News, MIFTAH 6/17/2008
The Israeli military says it has killed three Palestinian militants in fighting in the southern Gaza Strip, near the town of Khan Younis. Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad said three fighters were missing and another three were injured. They had been on a mission to plant explosives along the border fence with Israel, the group says. Militants frequently target the border fence, part of the Israeli defences used to impose its closure on Gaza. Egypt has been trying to broker a truce to calm the situation between Israel and Gaza which is controlled by the militant Hamas organisation. Palestinian medical officials were unable to confirm the fate of the three Islamic Jihad men, as their bodies lay in an area closed off by the Israeli military. Monday’s clashes included an Israeli air strike in which three Hamas members were injured, one critically, Hamas said. Last week Israel’s cabinet said they would give the Egyptian mediation a chance to succeed but would also instruct the military to prepare for a large-scale invasion.

Gaza: IDF kills operatives from group involved in Shalit kidnapping
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 6/17/2008
Palestinians report six people killed, several others injured in three IAF strikes near Khan Younis; five of those killed reportedly operatives from Army of Islam, which was behind kidnapping of IDF soldiers, BBC journalist Alan Johnston. Three Qassams fired at Negev; no injuries -Palestinian sources reported Tuesday the IAF struck Gaza Strip three times, killing six people and injuring several others. The first strike on a car travelling near the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis killed five Palestinian militants and wounded three others, threatening to upset truce talks between Israel and Gaza’sHamas rulers. The IAF confirmed attacking a terror cell and hitting its target. Turce? Senior IDF officer warns lull will be temporary, fragile / Attila Somfalvi IDF chief briefs Knesset’s Foreign Affairs, Defense Committee on pending ceasefire. . .

7 Qassams fired toward Negev region
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 6/17/2008
Rocket fire on Sderot, nearby areas comes just hours after IDF strikes kill six Palestinians in Gaza; child lightly hurt while running for cover -Seven Qassams were fired by Palestinians in northern Gaza Tuesday evening toward Sderot and the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council area. During the latest Qassam barrage at around 9 pm, one rocket landed near Sapir College while another one landed near Sderot. A child who was rushing to take cover was reportedly lightly bruised. Qassam landing site in Negev (Photo: Ze’ev Trachtman) At approximately 6:55 pm the "Color Red" warning system in Sderot sounded twice. A number of rockets landed in open areas outside the city and within Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council limits. Earlier in the day a mortar fired from north Gaza landed near a western Negev kibbutz.

Israeli forces kill 7 Palestinians and injure several more in separate attacks on the Gaza Strip
Palestine News Network 6/17/2008
Gaza / PNN - Palestinian medical sources in Gaza reported on Tuesday afternoon that five citizens were killed and at least five others injured in separate Israeli air attacks on the southern and central Gaza Strip. The sources stated that five Palestinians were killed at the same time in an Israeli bombing that targeted a civilian car east of the southern Gaza Strip’s city of Khan Younis. However as the day wore on, the death toll had become seven by evening. Director of Emergency and Ambulance in the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Dr. Muawiyah Hassanein, said this afternoon, "The five martyrs are difficult to identify as their remains are not in tact. "Dr. Hassanein continued, "They have been transferred to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis after an Israeli shelling which targeted a civilian car in Khan Younis.

VIDEO - Israeli air strike kills five in Gaza
The Guardian 6/17/2008
Strike on car carrying alleged militants comes amid reports that Israel and Hamas have agreed truce - Israel and Hamas agree Gaza truce, Egypt claims - Two sides agree on first phase of package to end violence in Gaza Strip, senior official tells news agency.

IOF troops kidnap entire family in Nablus
Palestinian Information Center 6/17/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces on Tuesday advanced into the West Bank city of Nablus and stormed a number of suburbs before kidnapping the family of Dhawia in the Old City. Local sources said that the IOF soldiers entered the city before dawn in a white bus loaded with special forces, and added that sounds of explosions and shootings were heard during the incursion. They said that the soldiers encircled a number of buildings for a few hours before arresting Ziyad Al-Dhawia, his wife Maysun and his brothers Ayman and Emad and wreaked havoc in his home before leaving. A fifth 22-year-old youth was taken from his family’s home in the city, the sources said, noting that the soldiers destroyed the furniture in the apartments stormed in another residential building. The IOF troops also broke into the Nablus villages of Beit Furik and Assira and kidnapped two young men from the latter including the son of Hamas MP Anas Al-Bourini.

Israeli troops invade Nablus, seizing seven Palestinians
Ma’an News Agency 6/17/2008
Nablus - Ma’an – Israeli forces haveseized seven civilians during an overnight raid in the West Bank city of Nablus and surrounding villages. Palestinian security sources said Israeli troops entered Nablus at one on Tuesday morning. Israeli special forces were deployed heavily in Nablus’ old city. The sources said that that Israeli forces ’exploded bombs’ inside civilian houses. Among others, the Ad-Dardouk building, in the Ras Al-Ein area, was damaged. Also in the old city, Israeli troops detained 23-year-old Maysoon Qadoumi, her 26-year-old husband Ziyad Dawaya, and his 28-year-old and 30-year-old brothers Aiman and Imad. In the village of Asira Ash-Shamilia, north of Nablus, Israeli troops seized 20-year-old Mohammad Anas Hussni Al-Burini and 22-year-old Ihab ’Awwad Ash-Shuli. In the Al-Juneid area, west of the city, Israeli soldiers seized 24-year-old Sami Mustafa Abu Baker.

Israeli military kidnaps three Palestinians from Hebron, three from Jenin
IMEMC Staff, International Middle East Media Center News 6/17/2008
Israeli military invaded several West Bank cities in the early hours of Tuesday morning and kidnapped allegedly wanted Palestinians. The Israeli Army kidnapped three Palestinians from the southern West Bank city of Hebron as they broke into the area early on Tuesday morning. Troops attacked civilians’ homes, searched them and confiscated properties before the kidnapping of Faysal Mahfouz,22 Maher al-Qawasmeh,24 and Nader Abu Mayyala,28. Elsewhere, the military invaded the northern part of the West Bank and kidnapped another three Palestinians from Jenin city after searching their homes. Palestinian sources reported that at least 15 military vehicles invaded the city and the nearby refugee camps on Tuesday at dawn and kidnapped Ramzy Abu Ghali,32, Wassim Abu Ghali,31 and Aman Hardan,25. The Army moved the abducted Palestinians to an undisclosed detention center.

The Israeli army kidnaps 14 Palestinians from different parts of the West Bank
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/17/2008
The Israeli army conducted several parts of the West Bank and kidnapped 14 Palestinian civilians on Tuesday at dawn. Palestinian sources said that seven of those kidnapped among them one woman were kidnapped during an Israeli attack targeting the West Bank city of Nablus and near by villages. In addition the sources said that Israeli troops attacked a building in central Nablus city and left some damage there. Israeli army sources said that all those kidnapped were on what the army calls "Wanted List", meanwhile Palestinian sources confirmed that the kidnapped are all civilians. [end]

One injured, one detained as Israeli forces invade two towns near Tulkarem
Ma’an News Agency 6/17/2008
Tulkarem - Ma’an – A Palestinian boy was injured by Israeli fire on Monday evening when Israeli forces stormed the town of Anabta east of the northern West Bank town of Tulkarem. Witnesses said four military jeeps stormed the town. Stone-throwing Palestinians confronted the troops. Israeli soldiers fired on the demonstrators, injuring 16-year-old Majdi Nu’aman Melhem. Melhem was treated at Thabet Thabet hospital in Tulkarem. On Tuesday morning Israeli forces stormed the town of Seida, north of Tulkarem and seized 27-year-old Mahmoud Saleh Abdalah Al-Ashqar. [end]

Israeli forces seize three civilians in Jenin
Ma’an News Agency 6/17/2008
Jenin - Ma’an - Israeli forces seized three civilians in the West Bank city of Jenin and neighboring Jenin refugee camp during a dawn raid on TuesdayEyewitnesses said that fifteen military vehicles stormed the city and the camp at 1. 30am, firing heavily and detonating sonic bombs before beginning house-to-house searches. Palestinian security sources said that Israeli forces detained Wassim Abdel Karim Abu Ghali and his cousin Ramzi Jom’a Abu Ghali, who are in their thirties. The Israeli troops also detained Thameen Ameen Hardan. [end]

Israeli police arrest settlers filmed beating Palestinians
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 6/18/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Two Israeli settlers were arrested on Tuesday in connection with the beating of Palestinian shepherds in the Occupied West Bank in an incident that was captured on video, police said. "Two suspects were arrested in the early hours of this morning," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld toldAFP He said the two suspects, one of them a minor, were residents of Susia settlement near the West Bank town of Hebron. They were arrested in an undercover police operation, Rosenfeld said. The incident came to light last week after BBC television aired footage of masked men swinging clubs in an alleged brutal attack on an elderly Palestinian shepherd and his wife who were grazing their flock in hills near Susia. The footage was taken by a relative using one of 100 small video cameras which the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem handed out to Palestinians to record proof of attacks.

Police arrest 2 settlers on suspicion of assaulting Palestinians
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 6/17/2008
Police follow up on footage of Palestinian shepherds allegedly attacked by settlers, arrest two men from Susya - Two settlers from the West Bank settlement of Susya were arrested Tuesday, in connection with the attack reported by Palestinian shepherds, which took place near the Mouth Hebron, last week. The two men, one of whom is a minor, were arrested after a covert operation by the Judea and Samaria and Hebron Districts Police. They were taken in for questioning in the Hebron Districts Police headquarters. Police sources told Ynet additional arrests are expected. According to the police report, Four members of a Palestinian -Nawage family claimed they were assaulted by veiled settlers whilethey were herding their sheep in the south Mount Hebron area, seriously wounding one woman. The family further claimed they had footage of the assault.

Civil Administration officials indicted in West Bank land steal
Akiva Eldar, Ha’aretz 6/18/2008
Two senior officials in the Civil Administration allegedly illegally collaborated with Jewish land dealers to take over land in the West Bank, according to an indictment issued Tuesday in the Jerusalem District Court. Lieutenant Colonel Yair Blumenthal and Major Ehud Brosh have been charged with taking bribes and favors from the dealers, brothers Yosef and Yaakov Amram. Blumenthal, who headed of the Civil Administration’s infrastructure department, is charged with helping the brothers further fraudulent business deals by providing them with internal documents and equipment belonging to the Civil Administration in exchange for over $40,000. Brosh, who was head of the lands department in the unit providing legal counsel to the Israel Defense Forces’ Judea and Samaria division, stands accused of taking bribes in the form of vacations. . .

Ofra officials: Controversial homes already occupied
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 6/18/2008
The settlement of Ofra has connected nine homes allegedly built on Palestinian land to water and electricity, and people have moved in, Ofra’s secretariat told the High Court of Justice Friday. This being the case, the demand by the human rights organizations Yesh Din and B’Tselem for an injunction against occupying the homes was irrelevant, Ofra’s secretary, Meir Nahlieli, told the court. Ofra argued that the organizations demanding the injunction "knew all along about the construction, since the development and building work began in June 2007. "The community secretariat added, "The petitioners waited intentionally before acting on the matter, hoping to cause the greatest possible damage to their political adversaries, and that they would invest in homes they could not live in. "Yesh Din said it was surprised by the accusations, and told the court the homes in question are at varying stages of construction; some have foundations only.

Extremist settlers occupy two Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/17/2008
The Popular (Folk) Committees issued a press release on Tuesday slamming an extremist Israeli settler group for attacking and illegally occupying two Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem. The settlers are members of an extremist group which calls itself Yeshiva Haim Ha’olam. The group claims that its members owned the two houses, which are located close to the Al Aqsa Mosque, since 1948. Secretary-general of the Committee, Azmi Shiokhy, stated that the tow homes belong to the families of Castero and Al Hasheem, and added that both families headed to Palestinian legislator, the advisor of president Mahmoud Abbas for Jerusalem Affairs, Hatim Abdul-Qader, who in turn handed their file to lawyer Mohammad Dahla and requested him to file an urgent appeal to the Israeli court. Abdul-Qader stated that the recent attack and the ongoing Israeli violations against the Palestinians in Jerusalem. . .

Demolishing notices handed to two families of Jerusalem
Mays Abu Ghazala, International Middle East Media Center News 6/17/2008
Two Palestinian families from Jerusalem received on Tuesday demolishing notes from the Israeli high Court of justice. The note that was submitted to the al-Qastero and al-Hashim families ordered them to leave their homes that are located in the old city of Jerusalem within 14 days. The court order was based on a petition submitted by Yishva Hiyim Oaleem, an Israeli settler’s organization, on claims that the two families’ homes are owned by the organization prier 1984. The families informed the Palestinian Prime Minister Advisor for Jerusalem affairs Hatem abed al-Qader who for his part assigned a lawyer to issue an urgent court rolling against the evacuation order. The families said that they lived in their homes before 1976. Abed al-Qader reported that by these demolishing notices are considered as a new escalation against the civilians of the Jerusalem old city.

B’Tselem cameras pay off for victims of settler attacks
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 6/18/2008
Three months ago, the B’Tselem human rights organization gave Muna al-Nawaja a video camera. Nawaja, 24, lives near the Israeli settlement of Sussya, in the southern West Bank. Between caring for her young son and tending the family’s sheep, she learned to use the camera, fell in love with it and now carries it with her everywhere. But its "baptism of fire" occurred last week, on Sunday afternoon. Most Israelis were busy preparing for the Shavuot holiday. But some had a different priority: savagely beating Nawaja’s relatives. She managed to capture a few seconds of the beating - in which her 57-year-old aunt was severely injured, and two uncles, age 60 and 33 were hurt - on film. But she never dreamed that it would prove to be the main, and possibly only, evidence available to the police investigating the assault.

U.S. official: Roadblocks lifted, W. Bank unchanged
and Agencies, By Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 6/18/2008
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 yesterday. 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.

IOA renews administrative detention of Sheikh Farahat for 7th time
Palestinian Information Center 6/17/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority has renewed the administrative detention, without trial or charge, of Sheikh Farahat Assad, 40, for the 7th consecutive time, the lawyer of Nafha legal society reported on Tuesday. Sheikh Farahat was arrested in his home in southern Ramallah on 25/4/2006 and was held since then in administrative custody. Farahat, a father of three children, had previously spent two years in occupation jails under administrative imprisonment during the Aqsa intifada and was only released few months before his renewed detention. Meanwhile, the same legal society, concerned with defense of human and prisoners’ rights, said that the IOA released Shirin Al-Haj Hussein from Balata refugee camp after spending a year and a half in Hasharon central jail. Shirin, 19, was taken from her father’s home in Balata on 19/6/2006 and was subjected to interrogation for ten days in Jalama and Petah Tikwa detention centers.

As I ran towards the house I could smell burning flesh: Israeli forces kill two 8 year old girls
PCHR, Palestine News Network 6/17/2008
Gaza - After conducting field research, Gaza City’s well-respected Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reports the family stories of two young children who Israeli forces recently killed. Aya Hamdan Al-Najjar was 8 years old when she was killed by a rocket fired from an Israeli helicopter. On June 11, eight year old Hadeel Al-Sumairi was killed when her home in south eastern Gaza was shelled by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). Less than a week earlier, eight year old Aya Hamdan Al-Najjar was killed by a rocket fired from an IOF helicopter. These two young girls had been living just a few kilometers apart, in villages in south eastern Gaza, near the border with Israel. Their violent deaths highlight both the continual dangers facing families who live anywhere near the Israeli border -- and the grim and rising child death toll in the Gaza Strip.

Raids and arrest campaigns in the city of Nablus and its villages
Amin Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 6/17/2008
Nablus -- On Tuesday morning Israeli forces launched invasions of the northern West Bank’s Nablus and neighboring towns. The Israelis imposed curfew on Beit Fourik Village while also arresting a married couple and two other Palestinians from the city of Nablus. In Asira Village, north of the city, Israeli forces arrested the son of an imprisoned member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. During the invasion of Beit Fourik and the imposed curfew, Israeli forces closed the military checkpoint which links that town and Beit Dijan with Nablus City. Several homes were raided, their contents torn to bits. [end]

Peace Now calls for suspending Hebron police chief
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 6/18/2008
Peace Now has called for the immediate suspension of the Hebron district police Colonel Avshalom Peled, who on Sunday suggested left-wing activists visiting the city caused "dangerous" provocations. "Hebron police should focus on right-wing rioters and not try to conceal the disgraceful reality it is responsible for," Peace Now chairman Yariv Oppenheimer said yesterday. Peled told the Y-Net Web site on Sunday that civil disturbances are caused by both right-wing and left-wing activists in order to shape public opinion. "Right-wing activists are seen in the public’s eye as provoking riots, but in reality this is not precisely true," Peled said. "Most of the settlers are quiet, and only a small minority causes disturbances. From my experience in the Hebron and Gush Etzion areas, left-wing militant activity can be serious and dangerous.

Right-wing activist pours boiling water on Meretz MKs in Hebron
Nadav Shragai and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 6/18/2008
A right-wing activist on Tuesday poured boiling water on MKs belonging to the left-wing Meretz party during a tour of the West Bank city of Hebron. The incident occurred while Hebron setters clashed with the MKs and other members of a tour led by "Breaking The Silence," an organization of demobilized Israel Defense Forces soldiers who document alleged harassment of Palestinians in the territories. Hebron’s settlers, however, denied any connection to the violence. "Members of the settlement and their guests did not curse or pour a cup of tea [on the tour]," said Noam Arnon, the spokesman for the West Bank town’s settlers. According to the tour’s guides, settlers encircled the group, called them "traitors," and poured boiling water on the group. A police officer and a Spanish journalist were wounded in the incident.

News in Brief II
Ha’aretz 6/18/2008
An Israel Defense Forces boot camp located near the Gaza Strip will be relocated elsewhere following a Qassam rocket strike that wounded 70 new conscripts at the compound last September. The Zikim base, where soldiers who will take on non-combatant positions are given basic military training, will be manned with combat soldiers. "Zikim will continue to be manned by units, commanders and soldiers in full capacity and we have no intention of leaving the base," the IDF Spokesperson said. New recruits bound for non-combatant positions that would have been sent to Zikim will instead be trained at bases closer to where they will serve. (Yuval Azoulay) The Knesset passed the first reading of a bill that would make offering bribes to a civil servant of a foreign government or an international organization a criminal offense, punishable by a maximum jail term of three and a half years.

Siyam discusses preparations for IOF escalation
Palestinian Information Center 6/17/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Sa’eed Siyam, the interior minister in the PA caretaker government in Gaza, met Monday with the leaders of the security apparatuses in the Gaza Strip to discuss the latest developments in the Palestinian arena and the possible Israeli military escalation against the Gaza Strip. The meeting addressed the plans tabled to manage the security affairs as well as the anticipated scenarios in light of the truce and/or the Israeli military escalation. The meeting also touched on the ways to increase the cooperation between the security apparatuses in Gaza. Siyam hailed the role of the security apparatuses in combating crime and in providing security and stability in the Strip, noting that the official statistics show a significant decrease in the number of crimes at all levels. The Hebrew radio reported the decision of the Israeli war minister to evacuate all new recruits. . .

Palestine Today 061708
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 6/17/2008
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 Tuesday June 17th, 2008. The Israeli army kills five Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and kidnaps 14 others in the West Bank, these stories and more coming up stay tuned. The News Cast Palestinian sources said that the Israeli army conducted two air raids targeting the southern part of the Gaza strip on Tuesday, midday. Five were killed and two injured. In the first attack Israeli jet fighters attacked a car east of Khan Younis city, five were killed; reports said that those five are activists of Islamic Jihad. Meanwhile another Israeli air attack targeted the town of Dier Al Balah. Medical sources said that two Palestinian civilians were injured, one critically.

Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades claim projectile attack
Ma’an News Agency 6/17/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claimed responsibility for launching two homemade projectiles at Ashkelon and the western Negev desert. The group said the attack was a message to Israel that Palestinians would resist any incursion in the Gaza Strip. [end]

Israeli Arab jailed for 17 years for driving suicide bomber
Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 6/17/2008
The Haifa District Court on Tuesday sentenced Israeli Arab Fahri Manzur to 17 years jail time for driving a Palestinian terrorist to Hadera in 2005, where he perpetrated a suicide bombing. Six people were killed and dozens were wounded in the attack. Manzur, a 29-year-old resident of the northern village of Jatt, was earlier convicted of aiding the enemy in wartime and aiding murder. The Jatt resident was arrested following a joint investigation by the Shin Bet Security service and police. His indictment stated that in October 2005 Hassan Abu Zeid, the suicide bomber, left the West Bank for Israel in possession of a bag containing explosives. Zeid subsequently met Manzur and another man in Israel, at which point Manzur drove him to the market in downtown Hadera, where the bomber subsequently blew himself up in front of a felafel stand.

A Kufr Ein resident arrested by Israeli military
International Womens’ Peace Service 6/17/2008
Human Rights ReportNo. 358Date of incident: 10th June 2008 - Time: between 9 am and 9. 30 am - Place:flying checkpoint between the illegal Israeli settlement of Hallamishand the checkpoint ’Atara, Ramallah District - Witness/es:Passengers in a public transportation vehicle - Description of Incident: On the morning of Wednesday 11th June, a Kufr Ein resident received a phone call from an acquaintance who informed him that on the morning of the previous day, his 26 years old brother had been arrested by the Israeli soldiers at a flying check-point established on the road between the illegal Israeli settlement of Hallamish and the ’Atara checkpoint. The man assumed that the arrested young man was taken to the Al Masqubia jail in Jerusalem.

Israeli army abuses family, arbitrarily arrests two young men
International Womens’ Peace Service 6/17/2008
Date of incident: 13th June 2008 - Time: between 7. 30 p. m. and 9. 30 p. m. -Place:Az-Zawiyya, Salfit Disrtict - Witness/es: Family members - Description of Incident: Around 7. 30 in the evening of Friday the 13th of June 2008 a young man was stopped by an Israeli military patrol in the village of Az-Zawiyya. The soldiers asked the young man for his ID card. The young man’s family is partially from Gaza and he has been so far trying in vain to get a West Bank ID card. Out of fear he might get arrested and deported to the Gaza Strip, he pretended of having forgotten his ID card at home and gave the name of one of his cousins. However, the soldiers insisted on driving to his house in order to check his ID card.

European campaign deplores EU decision to strengthen relations with Israel
Palestinian Information Center 6/17/2008
BRUSSELS, (PIC)-- The European campaign to lift the siege strongly denounced the EU for deciding to strengthen its relations with the Israeli occupation rather than to use its influence to lift the Israeli siege imposed on the impoverished Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. In a statement received by the PIC, Amin Abu Rashid, the head of the compaign, underlined that this decision to promote relations with "an entity imposing unjust siege on one and a half million people in Gaza makes the EU one of the besieging parties". Abu Rashid stated that the European side, by virtue of its influence in the region and its humanitarian and ethical obligations as well as its commitments to protecting human rights, has to intervene urgently to end the Israeli siege and exercise pressures in this regard. "Let’s call a spade a spade; there are many hands involved in this unjust siege.

Olmert decides to exclude Jerusalem from any agreement reached with Abbas
Palestinian Information Center 6/17/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The office of Israeli premier Ehud Olmert said Monday that the premier intends to leave the difficult decisions on the future of occupied Jerusalem out of any agreement that might be reached this year with PA chief Mahmoud Abbas. During a visit to the Israeli settlements bordering the Gaza Strip, the spokesman for the Israeli premier’s office stated that Olmert believed that it would be difficult to reach an agreement on a delicate issue like Jerusalem by the end of this year and suggested reaching a joint document about how to move forward with negotiations over the holy city. The IOA is working on imposing the status quo in Jerusalem through building thousands of settlement units there especially in the old town, where Israel has built more than 8,000 units since the Annapolis conference last November and is planning to build thousands of units.

Hamas ceasefire could bring ’new reality’ to Gaza
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 6/18/2008
A ceasefire between Israel and armed factions in Hamas-controlled Gaza will start tomorrow, according to announcements by Hamas and the Egyptian government. Israel did not confirm an agreement. But the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mark Regev, acknowledged there would be a new "reality" if armed factions ceased their attacks on Israel and showed "movement" on Cpl Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held hostage for two years. The predictions of a "calm" starting at 6am tomorrow were repeated after three Israeli air strikes killed at least six gunmen in southern Gaza. The dead men reportedly included members of Army of Islam, a small ultra-militant group that took part in the seizure of Cpl Shalit and which was held responsible for the kidnap last year of the BBC correspondent Alan Johnston. If sustained, a ceasefire would bring at least a temporary halt to the conflict, in which more. . .

US skeptical of news about truce in Gaza
Reuters, YNetNews 6/18/2008
State Department spokesman Casey says reported ceasefire ’hardly takes Hamas out of terrorism business’ -The Bush administration reacted skeptically on Tuesday to news that Egypt had brokered a ceasefire in Gaza between Israel and Palestinian militants who are shunned by Washington. "We’ll see first of all whether there is actually an agreement," State Department spokesman Tom Casey said. "Even if this is a true report, I think unfortunately it hardly takesHamas out of the terrorism business," he said, referring to the Islamist Palestinian group that controls the Gaza Strip. Egypt and Hamas said earlier the ceasefire would begin on Thursday. It would aim to end rocket and mortar bomb attacks on Israel from the coastal enclave, and Israeli raids and air strikes in the territory.

Hamas, Egypt back Gaza truce, Israel yet to confirm deal
Amos Harel and Jack Khoury and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 6/18/2008
Egypt and Hamas announced Tuesday that a cease-fire (tahadiyeh) between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip will go into effect at 6 A. M. Wednesday. Israel has not officially confirmed the information; however, security sources said an accord is in the offing. Defense Ministry official Major General (res. ) AmosGilad left Tuesday for Cairo to conclude the final agreement. Senior Hamas officials, among them Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and the deputy head of the organization’s political bureau in Damascus, Mohammed Nazal, announced the timetable, confirmed by news agencies with officials in Cairo. "Both sides have pledged to halt all hostilities and all military activities against each other," Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said in Cairo Tuesday.

VIDEO - News / Israel and Hamas reportedly reach a cease-fire deal
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 6/18/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 news roundup for June 17, 2008. In this edition:Amid violence in the Gaza Strip, Egyptian press reports Israel and Hamas reach a cease-fire deal. The government makes Shas an offer to stay in the coalition. A wanted Nazi war criminal is discovered living peacefully in Austria. [end]

Barak: Too early to declare truce in Gaza
Reuters and Roni Sofer, YNetNews 6/17/2008
Palestinian, Egyptian officials say ceasefire between Israel, Hamas to begin 6 am Thursday; but Israeli defense minister says agreement not finalized. Al-Zahar: No connection between truce, Gilad Shalit - Truce agreement reached? A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas will begin on Thursday, a Palestinian official familiar with Egyptian-brokered truce efforts said on Tuesday. " The two sides agreed and the implementation of the truce will begin at 6 am on Thursday," said the Palestinian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to announce adeal. Later, Hamas sources confirmed that a truce agreement has indeed been reached. Gaza TruceSenior IDF officer warns lull will be temporary, fragile / Attila Somfalvi IDF chief briefs Knesset’s Foreign Affairs, Defense Committee on pending ceasefire with Gaza militias, says military will continue preparing for Gaza op.

The new sheriffs
Avirama Golan, Ha’aretz 6/18/2008
Yesterday morning, when President Shimon Peres’ motorcade arrived at Kibbutz Nir Am, four pick-up tricks were waiting there, covered with a red banner. "If I am not for myself, who will be for me," the farmers of the western Negev had written across the banner, quoting from the Ethics of the Fathers. The demonstrators explained that they were fed up with seeing construction materials being transferred from Israel to the Gaza Strip and then used, according to them, in terrorist attacks. They also said that they are fed up with the firing from the Strip. Since the country has deserted the South in general and the farmers living near the border with Gaza in particular, they said, the members of the kibbutzim and moshavim as well as private farmers have set up a protest movement. They refused to divulge their future intentions but promised that there was "a bank full of plans that you will hear about. "

Vilnai ''˜fired’ by western Negev resident
Yonat Atlas, YNetNews 6/17/2008
In response to Vilani’s criticism of southern residents’ cry for help, deputy defense minister gets ’booted’ by unhappy residents - A ’pleasant suprise’ awaited Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai (Labor) upon arrival at his Tuesday meeting with the Gaza Vicinity communities’ council heads: A "˜letter of dismissal’ from one of the local residents was awaiting him. On Monday Vilnai caused an upset by saying that Jerusalem had suffered hundreds of terror attacks yet no one has ever argued Jerusalemites were being deserted by the government. Ofer Shmerling, a resident of Sha’ar Hanegev, presented Vilani with a "˜letter of dismissal’ upon commencement of the meeting which read: "In light of your inability to fulfill the duties for which you have been appointed deputy, we hereby inform you that your services are no longer required and that you are no longer welcome in our region. . . "

Ramon: Truce a victory for radical Islam
Ahiya Raved, YNetNews 6/17/2008
Vice premier voices objection to Gaza truce deal, says it constitutes Hamas win - Objecting to the ceasefire:Vice Premier Haim Ramon said Tuesday evening that he opposes the Gaza Strip truce agreement currently being formulated with Egyptian mediation. " I oppose the lull, because it’s another victory for radical Islam," Ramon said. "It won in Lebanon and now it will be winning in Gaza. So why be moderate? After all, why is Hamas seeking an agreement? Because this will be its chance to represent Gaza as Hamastan state. " Ramon himself abstained in the cabinet vote Wednesday where ministers decided to advance a lull before embarking on a military operation in Gaza. Ministers Mofaz, Yishai, and Friedmann also abstained in that vote, while no minister voted against the ceasefire. Speaking at a conference on national security and domestic policy held at University. . .

Israeli strikes put query over truce
Ibrahim Barzak, AP, The Independent 6/17/2008
Hamas’ Gaza rulers today said they have reached a long-awaited cease-fire with Israel meant to end months of Palestinian assaults on Israeli border towns and bruising Israeli retaliation. The announcement came shortly after Egypt, which has been trying to broker the truce for months, said the cease-fire would go into effect on Thursday. Israel refused to confirm a deal, but said a "new reality" would take hold if Palestinian attacks end. In a last-minute jolt, Israeli aircraft attacked three targets in the southern Gaza Strip. One of the airstrikes destroyed a car, killing five ’militants’ inside. A large crowd gathered around the car’s smoldering remains. Hamas officials accused Israel of trying to undermine the truce, but said they would not let the violence derail the Egyptian efforts. "We are going to commit ourselves to the start time that Egypt is going. . . "

Barhoum: Hamas will abide by the ceasefire declaration
Rami Almeghari, International Middle East Media Center News 6/17/2008
Hamas’s spokesman in Gaza, Fawzi Barhoum, said that his ruling party will abide by the ceasefire declaration , Cairo announced on Tuesday. Barhoum was responding to Tuesday’s Egyptian declaration of a ceasefire agreement between Palestinian factions and Israel, Cairo has been mediating over the past several weeks. According to the spokesman of Egyptian foreign ministry, Hussam Zaki, the ceasefire deal will go into effect by Thursday morning and that both Israel and the Palestinians will commit to the ceasefire simultaneously, in conjunction with lifting the Israeli blockade on Gaza gradually. Hamas’s spokesman, Barhoum stated to IMEMC’s correspondent in Gaza that his party welcomed the declaration but it preserves the right to retaliate to any Israeli army attacks on Gaza until Thursday morning. Barhounm also stated that any agreement on the ground should not include the. . .

Truce to bring gradual relief to Gaza - officials
Adam Entous, ReliefWeb 6/17/2008
JERUSALEM, June 17 (Reuters) - An Egyptian-mediated truce that appears likely between Israel and Hamas will begin with only a gradual and partial easing of an Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, officials said on Tuesday. "If Hamas keeps the ceasefire, we can gradually deliver more goods and supplies," an Israeli official said. But he said any commitment to a particular level of supplies into the Gaza Strip would be kept "vague on purpose". A Palestinian official familiar with Egypt’s efforts to broker a truce said a six-month agreement would be announced within a few days. Hamas said on Monday a deal was within sight. Israel tightened restrictions at its border crossings with the Gaza Strip after Hamas Islamists seized control of the territory in fighting a year ago against the Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Paris says Assad will join Olmert at Med Union talks
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 6/18/2008
PARIS: Syrian President Bashar Assad will be joining Israel’s leader at a summit to launch a new Mediterranean Union in Paris next month, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Tuesday. "The Syrian president will be there, sitting next to, at the same table, as the Israeli president," Kouchner told Parliament. Israel and Syria on Monday wrapped up a second round of indirect talks in Turkey and agreed to hold more meetings in July. But Kouchner did not confirm reports that a meeting could be held in Paris between Assad and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the sidelines of the July 13 summit. "We welcome the fact that the Syrians are talking to the Israelis. On that day, it will be possible for them to do that if they want to," he said. The last round of Israeli-Syrian negotiations broke down in 2000 over the fate of theGolan Heights, the strategic plateau which Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Will Olmert and Assad be sitting together at the same table?
Yoav Stern and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 6/18/2008
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner announced Tuesday that Syrian President Bashar Assad would be attending the Mediterranean Union Summit, scheduled for next month in Paris, which Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had already expressed his plans to attend. The meeting of the proposed Mediterranean Union is scheduled for July 13, and environmental issues - pollution of the Mediterranean, solar energy advances and projects dealing with water conservation and civil defense - are to top the agenda. President Shimon Peres has also announced that he would be attending the summit. Kouchner, speaking before the French parliament, said that the representatives of the Israeli and Syrian governments would be sitting at the same table during the summit. Syria and Israel are formally at war, but a cease-fire has held on the Golan. . .

What US Role Between Syria and Israel?
Ariel Kastner, MIFTAH 6/17/2008
The recent announcement that indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria are being conducted in Turkey has led many to ask whether this round of negotiations represents anything more than political games. Given that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is facing a deepening corruption investigation with louder calls for him to step down, and in light of floundering negotiations with the Palestinians, many Israelis presume he might be using the cover of peace talks with Syria to divert attention from his political challenges. But the unusual official announcements - both the Israeli and Syrian governments released coordinated remarks announcing the talks - and reports that agreement has been reached on a number of core issues indicate that something more than political games may be afoot. What remains to be seen and is of the utmost significance for forging a deal, however, is whether the United States will engage as a participant.

Turkey’s foreign minister says Israel-Syria peace talks making progress
Associated Press, YNetNews 6/17/2008
Turkish FM optimistic about indirect Israeli-Syrian negotiations, despite remarks stating this is a "˜very complicated matter’ - Indirect peace talks betweenIsrael and Syria are making progress and both sides agreed to two more rounds under Turkish mediation next month, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said Tuesday. Babacan, who was in Luxembourg for meetings with European Union officials, said the latest round of indirect talks on Sunday and Monday were complicated, but he expressed hope they could lead to a breakthrough. "The negotiations went very successfully and more importantly the calendar was set for the next two meetings, which will be held in July," Babacan told reporters. Always Have ParisIsrael to propose Olmert-Assad talks, sources say / Reuters Israeli officials holding new round of indirect peace talks with Syrian counterparts in Turkey will propose leaders meet at Paris conference next month.

Second round of Israel-Syria talks completed
George Rishmawi, International Middle East Media Center News 6/17/2008
The second round of the indirect peace talks between Syria and Israel under the auspices of Turkey was completed in Turkey on Monday. A press statement published by the Turkish Consulate in Jerusalem said the talks were held in "a constructive and positive atmosphere. "  "The two sides reiterated their common will to continue their talks and agreement to continue meeting regularly. The dates of the following two meetings were also agreed upon," said the statement. Israel and Syria have indirect peace talk going on in the past two months, but on a low frequency. In October of 2007, Israeli jet fighters have invaded the airspace over Syria and attacked a building claiming it is a nuclear cache. Syrian officials have denied that the site, which is located in north Syria on the Euphrates river, is a nuclear facility and identified the targeted facility as is an agricultural research center.

Group: Discuss missing soldiers during peace talks with Syria
Tal Rabinovsky, YNetNews 6/17/2008
’As a country and as a Jewish society it is our moral duty to make every effort to bring the soldiers back to their families,’ Born to Freedom foundation tells PM Olmert in letter -The Born to Freedom foundation sent Prime Minister Ehud Olmert a letter Tuesday asking that the issue of the missing and captive IDF soldiers be discussed during the renewed peace talks with Syria. The organization, which seeks "to help locate the MIAs and bring them back home to their families, said in the letter "It must be taken into consideration that the Syrians may have vital information on missing soldiers Ron Arad, Guy Hever and the IDF soldiers who went missing during the battle of Sultan Yaakov in the first Lebanon war 26 years ago - Zachary Baumel, Yehuda Katz and Zvi Feldman. " We call (on the government) to take advantage of the negotiations to raise this issue,. . .

IAEA says Syria lacks skills for nuclear facility
Reuters, YNetNews 6/18/2008
’We have no evidence that Syria has the human resources that would allow it to carry out a large nuclear program,’ UN atomic watchdog head says -There is no evidence Syria has the skilled personnel or the fuel to operate a large-scale nuclear facility, the head of the United Nations atomic watchdog said in remarks aired on Tuesday. " We have no evidence that Syria has the human resources that would allow it to carry out a large nuclear program. We do not see Syria having nuclear fuel," International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamad ElBaradei told Al Arabiya television. In an interview with the Dubai-based television station, ElBaradei said the IAEA only had pictures of a site in Syria bombed by Israel last year, which resembled a nuclear facility in North Korea. Arabiya aired only part of the interview.

Syria lacks skills, fuel for nuclear facility, says ElBaradei
Retuers, Ha’aretz 6/18/2008
DUBAI - There is no evidence Syria has the skilled personnel or the fuel to operate a large-scale nuclear facility, the head of the United Nations atomic watchdog said in remarks aired Tuesday. "We have no evidence that Syria has the human resources that would allow it to carry out a large nuclear program. We do not see Syria having nuclear fuel," International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamad ElBaradei told Al-Arabiya television. In an interview with the Dubai-based television station, ElBaradei said the IAEA only had pictures of a site in Syria reportedly bombed by Israel last year, which resembled a nuclear facility in North Korea. Arabiya aired only part of the interview. The IAEA added Syria to its proliferation watch list in April after receiving US. . .

’Total bullshit:’ Father of Pakistani bomb denies selling designs for warheads
Sami Zubeiri, Daily Star 6/18/2008
Agence France Presse ISLAMABAD: Pakistani scientist Abdel-Qadeer Khan on Tuesday denied selling blueprints for an advanced nuclear weapon to Iran or North Korea, tellingAFP that Western countries were to blame. Khan’s comments came a day after a former arms inspector said in a report the US and the UN atomic watchdog must be allowed to question Khan to learn if he sold the plans. "This is all a lie, there is no truth in this. It is total bullshit," Khan told AFPby telephone from his Islamabad villa, where he has been kept under house arrest since confessing to proliferation activities in 2004. "The Western countries are suppliers of the technology, they sold it, they are the proliferators. Why don’t they publish juicy stories about Israel? There is not a single word about Israel on the nuclear issue," he said.

OPT: Protection of civilians weekly report 28 May - 03 Jun 2008
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - OCHA, ReliefWeb 6/16/2008
Of note this week Gaza Strip:- The IDF killed four Palestinians, including two unarmed civilians, and injured 21 others. Palestinian militants shot and injured two IDF soldiers in the Gaza Strip and one in Israel. - The IDF carried out eight excavation and levelling operations, destroying more than 355 dunums of agricultural land. - On five occasions, the IDF opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats at sea, forcing them to return to shore. - During IDF military operations in Rafah, the IDF demolished four Palestinian houses. - A group of unknown Palestinian militants opened fire at a group of Hamas militants. Despite heavy gunfire, no injuries were reported. - Seven Palestinians were injured in a house when an explosive device which was being prepared detonated prematurely. - A total of 33 rudimentary rockets and 28 mortars were fired at Israel, resulting in the injury of five Israeli civilians in one incident.

Human Rights Council holds general debate on follow up and implementation of Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action
United Nations Human Rights Council, ReliefWeb 6/16/2008
Human Rights Council AFTERNOON Concludes General Debate on Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab TerritoriesThe Human Rights Council this afternoon held a general debate on the follow up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action after concluding a general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories. During the debate, delegates affirmed the importance of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action which enshrined the universality and interdependence of all human rights. A variety of issues were raised by speakers from aboriginal rights to the rights of migrant workers and issues related to sexual orientation. Many interventions dealt with the rights of women and the importance of economic, social and cultural rights.

Khudari: The solidarity in Italy raises our hope that the siege will be broken
Palestinian Information Center 6/17/2008
ROME, (PIC)-- During a popular meeting held in solidarity with the Palestinian people in the Italian Gallicano city hall under the auspices of mayor Maria Adami, MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular committee against the siege, stated that the popular concern and sympathy he touched in Italy increased his hope that one day the victory would come and the siege would be broken. In the presence of a number of Italian and European politicians, supporters and journalists, MP Khudari said that by such solidarity with the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian people in Italy and European countries, the Israeli siege will be broken, highlighting that the Palestinian people struggle for freedom and liberation. The Palestinian lawmaker pointed out that there are many ways to support the besieged people in Gaza, most importantly the political and popular support.

Gaza fishermen demand the right to live
Palestine News Network 6/17/2008
Rome / Luisa Morgantini - Yesterday the fishermen of Gaza took to the Mediterranean Sea proclaiming the "Right to Live," the "Right to Fish," and to "End the Siege on Gaza. " Monday’s mobilization was organized by the "End the Siege Campaign," a Palestinian and international campaign carried out by intellectuals, physicians, lawyers and representatives of Palestinian civil society. On the occasion of the international day of action in support of the 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. " In a press release, the Italian fishermen expressed, "The international community should take charge. . . "

Fatah delegation arrives to Gaza
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/17/2008
An Official from the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Fatah party told the Palestinian News Network PNN that a delegation from Fatah has arrived in the Gaza strip on Tuesday. The Official who was speaking under conditions of anonymity said that the delegation included Hikmat Zied , the Palestinian President Advisor for districts affairs, Marwan Abed Al Hamed, the Palestinian President Advisor for housing developments affairs and Abdullah Abdullah, a Fatah MP in the West Bank. However the Fatah officials will not meet with Hamas, rather they will meet only Fatah officials based in the Gaza Strip, the Fatah sources reported. This is the first Fatah delegation to enter the Gaza Strip, after the Hamas movement took over the Palestinian coastal Region in June 2007, ending a year long of bloody internal infighting between Hamas and Fatah.

Abbas envoy in Gaza for talks
Al Jazeera 6/17/2008
An envoy of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has reached Gaza with the aim of holding reconciliation talks with Hamas. Hikmat Zeid, head of a three-member delegation, who arrived in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, said he had no objection to meeting Gaza’s Hamas representatives "if they ask for a meeting". However, Zeid’s delegation will not meet Hamas officials at this stage. "The Fatah delegation’s agenda does not include any talks with Hamas," a Fatah official told the AFP news agency. A Hamas official was also non-committal. "If they want to meet then we will meet them, in accordance with their request," a Hamas offical told the Reuters news agency. Reconciliation efforts Zeid said the delegation would hold talks with Fatah members and other representatives. . .

Gazan Fatah lawmaker: dialogue with Hamas should end Gaza blockade, not bring blockade to the West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 6/17/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – Ahmad Abu Houli, a Fatah-affiliated member of the Palestinian parliament from Gaza, claimed on Tuesday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ call for dialogue with Hamas is serious, but placed the responsibility with Hamas to move forward with the proposed dialogue process. He said Hamas and Fatah will face a number of difficult and complex problems in finding a common political platform. The key, Abu Houli said, is to establish an agreement between Hamas and Fatah that ends the Israeli blockade of Gaza without bringing a blockade to the West Bank. Israel imposed its lockdown of the Gaza Strip after Hamas’ takeover a year ago. Around the same time the international community lifted its embargo of the Palestinian Authority after President Abbas dismissed a Hamas-led unity government. Abu Houli reiterated that Abbas’ initiative took as its point of reference. . .

Hamas and Gaza Emerge Reshaped after Takeover
Ethan Bronner, MIFTAH 6/17/2008
GAZA: Cursing God in public here — a fairly common event in this benighted and besieged strip of Palestinian land — can now lead to prison. So can kissing in public. A judge ruled last week that a bank could not collect its contracted interest on a 10-year-old loan because Islam forbids charging interest. One year ago, gunmen from Hamas, an Islamist anti-Israel group, took over Gaza, shooting some of their more secular Fatah rivals in the knees and tossing one off a building. Israel and the West imposed a blockade, hoping to squeeze the new rulers from power. Yet today Hamas has spread its authority across all aspects of life, including the judiciary. It is fully in charge. Gazans have not, as Israel and the United States hoped, risen up against it. " The Palestinian criminal code says there should be no improper behavior in the streets," the new chief justice, Abed al-Raouf Halabi, explained in an interview, pulling the code book from his breast pocket.

’Who knows what peace is, kids?’
Ofra Edelman and Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 6/18/2008
President Shimon Peres toured towns and villages surrounding the Gaza Strip yesterday, and was briefed by military officials on the situation in the Qassam-stricken area. The tour included a number of meetings with civilians as well as briefings by security forces officials. At one of Peres’ planned stops at Kibbutz Nir Oz, a group of kindergarten children waiving Israeli flags waited hours in the sun for his arrival. When he finally arrived, security officials led him in the opposite direction. much to the children’s dismay. Peres later met with them inside their classroom, where the kindergarten teacher read out a text she had written. . . . Peres asked the preschoolers why Gazan Palestinians were firing Qassams against them, to which the children responded "because they want our land". One girl suggested Israel gives them "a little" land so that the fighting stops. "Perhaps," Peres said, smiling.

Poll: Ashkenazi Israelis more content with their wages than Sephardis
Moti Bassok TheMarker, Ha’aretz 6/18/2008
The Central Bureau of Statistics’ 2007 survey of Israeli society has found that Israelis of Ashkenazi (eastern European) origin are more content with their salaries than those of Sephardi (Middle Eastern and North African) origin (68 percent as opposed to 54 percent). The survey, published on Tuesday, also found that Israeli men are more content than Israeli women with their overall income (51 percent as opposed to 57 percent), and Israeli Jews are more content with it than Israeli Arabs (56 percent against 46 percent). In addition, the survey ascertained that 46 percent of Israeli citizens over the age of 20 say they are unable to cover their household expenses. Among people who came to Israel in the large wave of immigration following the collapse of the Soviet Union, 18 percent view themselves as poor - whereas only 12 percent of the population as a whole see themselves so.

46% of households can’t cover monthly expenses
Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 6/17/2008
A Central Bureau of Statistics survey shows that over half of Israelis over 20 are satisfied with their economic situation. 55% of employees aged over 20% are satisfied with their salaries and 54% of Israelis over 20 are satisfied with their economic situation according the preliminary findings from the Central Bureau of Statistics Social Survey 2007. Both figures are seven percentage points higher than in the 2003 Social Survey. The 2007 survey included 7,400 respondents over 20 nationwide, representing 4. 3 million people in this age group. 44% of respondents predicted that their economic situation will improve in the coming years, 33% predicted that it would stay the same, and 12% predicted that it would deteriorate. The 2007 survey also found that 46% of households say that they are unable to meet their monthly expenses.

Armed clashes erupt between Lebanese rivals
Middle East Online 6/17/2008
SAADNAYEL, Lebanon - Armed clashes broke out overnight between supporters of Lebanon’s rival factions in two villages in the Bekaa Valley in the east of the country, an army official said on Tuesday. "Clashes took place in Saadnayel and Taalbaya. The cause of the fighting remains unclear," the official said. "There was an exchange of fire in mixed areas. We sent in a large force and the situation is now under control," he said. He said there were injuries but gave no further details. An AFP correspondent in the area said machine gunfire, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades could be heard from midnight on Monday and continued sporadically until dawn. The same two villages witnessed fighting earlier this month between supporters of the pro-government Future movement and the opposition Hezbollah which left four people injured.

Three dead as rival gunmen clash in Bekaa villages
Daily Star 6/18/2008
Pro-government and opposition forces traded accusations on Tuesday over responsibility for deadly clashes that erupted overnight in the Bekaa Valley. Three people were killed and several wounded in fighting between supporters of the Future Movement, on the one hand, and Hizbullah and Amal on the other, the worst violence since a nascent process of reconciliation got under way with the Doha agreement last month. Future’s leader, MP Saad Hariri, urged supporters in the towns of Saadnayel and Taalbaya, where the clashes took place, to practice restraint and cooperate with security forces to prevent more bloodshed. In a statement, he also backed efforts aimed at defusing the situation. Hizbullah and Amal accused Future supporters of provoking the clashes. In a joint statement, they said all factions should follow the instructions of the army so that it can help stabilize the situation.

Calm returns to Lebanon after clash
Al Jazeera 6/17/2008
Calm has returned to the Bekaa valley in eastern Lebanon after clashes between pro- and anti-government supporters. Violence erupted in the villages of Taalbaya and Saadnayel on Monday evening but ended on Tuesday morning after government forces sent reinforcements, army officers said. "There was an exchange of fire in mixed [Sunni-Shia Muslim] areas. We sent in a large force and the situation is now under control," an army official said. At leastthree people were killed and four others wounded in the fighting, officials said on condition of anonymity. Witnesses reported hearing gunfire, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades being fired from midnight on Monday until dawn on Tuesday. Tense standoffSupporters of the Future movement, which is a member of the. . .

What are the mysterious stones emerging from Kinneret waters?
Eli Ashkenazi, Ha’aretz 6/18/2008
A marine scientist has discovered a series of mysterious stone patterns on the lake bed of drought-stricken Lake Kinneret. The man-made piles of stone, which are now above water, jut out from the freshwater lake, and sit 30 meters from each other along a 3. 5-kilometer stretch of the eastern shore, from the Kinneret College campus to Haon resort. Gal Itzhaki of Kibbutz Afikim first noticed the stones while strolling along the lake’s receded shoreline. He says the patterns are a "fascinating phenomenon" and are part of an "impressive building enterprise. "Though they have not yet been scientifically examined, there are several hypotheses as to what functions they fulfilled. One theory postulates that they were part of a boundary between the ancient lakeside towns of Hippos, also known as Sussita, and Gadara.

Charges dropped in Haditha case
Al Jazeera 6/17/2008
A US military judge in California has dismissed charges against a senior US marine accused of failing to properly investigate the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha in 2005. Lieutenant-Colonel Jeffrey Chessani was the highest ranking officer to face charges over the incident. The judge, Colonel Steven Folsom, dismissed the charges after finding that the general overseeing the case was improperly influenced by an investigator examining the killings, the Associated Press news agency reported. Local media in California reported that a key prosecution witness, Colonel John Ewers, had also served as a legal adviser to the marine general who approved charges against Chessani. A total of eight marines were initially charged in 2006 over the case.

IAF Gaza strikes kill 6 including gunmen linked to Shalit kidnap
Avi Issacharoff and Yuval Azoulay and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 6/18/2008
At least six Palestinian militants were killed on Tuesday in a series of Israel Air Force attacks on the Gaza Strip, just as Israel and Hamas were in the final stages of an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire dealAmong the dead was Muataz Durmush, the second in command of the militant organization Army of Islam. The other casualties were also apparently members of the group. Muataz’ half brother Mumtaz is considered the commander of the Army of Islam, which was involved in the 2006 kidnapping of Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit. Five militants were killed when the IAF attacked a blue Subaru in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis. The strike destroyed the car and the Palestinian Health Ministry said all of its occupants were killed. Another militant was killed in an attack on the central Gaza town of Deir el-Balah.

Iraq: The great land grab
Tom Engelhardt, Asia Times 6/17/2008
It’s just a US$5,812,353 contract - chump change for the Pentagon and not even one of those notorious "no-bid" contracts either. Ninety-eight bids were solicited by the Army Corps of Engineers and 12 were received before the contract was awarded this May 28 to Wintara, Inc of Fort Washington, Maryland, for "replacement facilities for Forward Operating Base Speicher, Iraq". According to a Department of Defense press release, the work on those "facilities" to be replaced at the base near Saddam Hussein’s hometown, Tikrit, is expected to be completed by January 31, 2009, a mere 11 days after a new president enters the Oval Office. It is but one modest reminder that, when the next administration hits Washington, American bases in Iraq, large and small, will still be undergoing the sort of repair and upgrading that has been ongoing for years.

Six Palestinians killed by Israeli shells in Gaza on Tuesday
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 6/18/2008
Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported that six Palestinians were killed by Israeli shells in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. The statement came after one resident died of his wounds at a local hospital in Gaza; several injuries were reported. The Israeli air force fired missiles at two vehicles in the southern and central parts of the Gaza Strip killing five residents and wounding several others. Four of the killed were resistance fighters and one was a civilian. Later on, sixth residents died of his wounds, medical sources reported. Eyewitnesses reported that the Israeli air force fired a missile at a vehicle driving on Al Qarara Junction, north of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The missile directly hit the vehicle which was carrying four members of the Army of Islam Group. They were all killed and their bodies were severely mutilated.

Israeli missile attack kills Palestinian fighter, wounds others in Jabalia
Palestinian Information Center 6/17/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- A Palestinian fighter affiliated with the Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad Movement, was killed and a number of citizens were wounded after the IOF troops fired Monday evening a ground-to-ground missile on a residential area in the northeast of the Jabalia town, northern Gaza Strip. Palestinian eyewitness reported that the IOF troops at the Nahal Oz military post fired the missile on a group of fighters in the vicinity of the martyrs’ cemetery which led to the death of Muataz Tafesh, 28, affiliated with the Quds Brigades, and the injury of a number of citizens. A communiqué issued by the Brigades stated that the IOF troops targeted its fighters after they managed to fire two homemade rockets on the Israeli Sderot settlement. Israeli military helicopters also fired on the same evening missiles at two foundries in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, which led to their destruction without any reported casualties.

Israeli air strikes kill five Palestinians and wound five others in Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 6/17/2008
KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)-- Five Palestinians were killed, four of them reportedly affiliated with the Army of Islam, and five others were wounded following two Israeli aerial attacks carried out Tuesday afternoon on two cars in southern and central Gaza Strip. Palestinian eyewitnesses in Khan Younis city where the first strike took place told the PIC reporter that an Israeli military drone fired one air-to-ground missile on a car traveling at the crossroads of Al-Qarara, north of the city, which resulted in the death of four Palestinians in the car and one passerby and the injury of three others. Medical sources also told the PIC reporter that the victims were not yet identified because their bodies were charred and mutilated beyond recognition. The second air strike targeted a car in the Berka area in Deir Al-Balah, central Gaza Strip, which led to the injury of two Palestinians, also thought to be affiliated with the Army of Islam.

Israeli air strikes kill six in Gaza
Middle East Online 6/17/2008
GAZA CITY - Six Palestinians were killed and several wounded in a string of Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, according to medics and witnesses. Five people were killed and several others were wounded in an air strike near Qarara village east of the southern town of Khan Yunis, according to Muawiya Hassanein, the head of Gaza emergency services. "The number of dead has risen to five and a number of civilians have been wounded in an Israeli air strike that targeted a civilian car in the Qarara area," Hassanein said. Another two Israeli air strikes in the nearby town of Deir al-Balah killed a sixth person and wounded five people, local hospital officials said. An Israeli army spokeswoman said "there were three aerial attacks. . . two of them were against vehicles carrying terror operatives and one of them was against terror operatives without a vehicle.

Palestinians killed in Gaza raids
Al Jazeera 6/17/2008
Six Palestinians have been killed in three Israeli air strikes targeting the Gaza Strip, according to medics and witnesses. Five people were killed and several others were wounded on Tuesday in one air raid near Qarara village east of the southern town of Khan Yunis, Muawiya Hassanein, the head of Gaza emergency services, said. "The number of dead has risen to five and a number of civilians have been wounded in an Israeli air strike that targeted a civilian car in the Qarara area," he said. The Israeli army confirmed carrying out air raids, saying that one attack - carried out in southern Gaza - destroyed a blue Subaru. Islamic Jihad said all the five victims were its members. Another two Israeli air attacks in the nearby town of Deir al-Balah killed a sixth. . .

Israeli army invades Nablus and nearby villages
Ameen Abu Wardeh, International Middle East Media Center News 6/17/2008
Israeli military invaded the city of Nablus and two nearby villages Tuesday morning and took prisoner six Palestinians including a man and his wife. In the city of Nablus, troops kidnapped four Palestinians. Eyewitnesses reported that troops broke into the home of Ziad Dawaya and kidnapped him, his wife Maysoun Qaddumi and his brother Ayman, and kidnapped also Sami Abu Baker. Meanwhile, the Israeli military invaded the village of Asseera Al-Shamaliya and kidnapped two Palestinians identified as, Ihab Al-Shouli and Mohammad al-Bourini son of lawmaker Husni Al-Bourini. Eyewitnesses also reported that paratroopers invaded the nearby village of Beit Furik and blocked the mainroad connecting the vilage with Nablus city. Unconfirmed reports state that troops are invading homes of the villagers. No further detailes are available as of writing this report.

Will next U.S. Congress top current record number of Jewish lawmakers?
Shmuel Rosner, Ha’aretz 6/18/2008
We checked all the Toss Up races and here is the conclusion: Congress 2008 can break the record number of Jewish seats. But it’s a possibility, not yet a likelihood. It is a silly question, I know that. Only fellow obsessive-Jew-counters will understand the temptation to try and predict whether the 2008 Congress will break the record number of Jewish legislators that was established in the 2006 election cycle. But here we are, doing exactly that. Whether it is good or bad for the American Jewish community to have so many Jewish legislators serving in Congress can be a matter of debate (SeeFirst thought on most Jewish Congress ever: Wow. Second thought: Oy ). Most people will say: it doesn’t matter. Some will even say: counting is a bad habit. For all those uncomfortable with it I’ll say: Go and read something else.

Rice Warns on Israel Settlements
BBC News, MIFTAH 6/17/2008
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Jewish settlement building was having a "negative effect" on efforts to forge a Middle East peace deal. Ms Rice was referring to Israeli plans to build 1,300 new homes in Ramat Shlomo, an area of the West Bank that Israel considers part of Jerusalem. She also said militants must stop firing rockets at Israel from Gaza. She spoke after meeting Israeli PM Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. The Palestinians have called the settlement plans a systematic policy to destroy the peace process. Israel has described the new homes as the natural growth of existing communities. Scholarship concerns After meeting Palestinian Authority President Mr Abbas in Ramallah, Ms Rice said: "It’s important to have an atmosphere of trust and confidence. " Unfortunately, I do believe, and the United States believes, that the actions and the announcements that are taking place are indeed having a negative effect on the atmosphere for negotiations. "

Rice criticizes Israeli settlements
Al Jazeera 6/15/2008
Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, has voiced dissatisfaction at Israel’s continued building of settlements in occupied east Jerusalem and the West Bank. On her 17th official visit to region, Rice said on Sunday that the expanision of settlements hurt Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. Israel announced last week it would build 1900 new housing units in east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as the capital of a future Palestinian state. The announcement took to nearly 8,000 the number of homes Israel has approved for construction in east Jerusalem and the West Bank after the renewal of peace talks late last year in the US city of Annapolis. Your ViewsShould Israel withdraw to its 1967 borders? Send us your viewsHowever, Israel’s annexation of east Jerusalem. . .

Haniyeh: Cease-fire with Israel is near
Avi Issacharoff Amos Harel Yuval Azoulay and Mijal Grinberg, Ha’aretz 6/18/2008
An agreement on a cease-fire with Israel is near, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said yesterday. Meanwhile, however, fighting escalated along the Gaza border yesterday, with the Israel Defense Forces killing four armed Palestinians and an Israeli civilian wounded in a Palestinian rocket strike on Ashkelon. Today, Israeli security sources told Haaretz, Israel expects to receive the clarifications about the truce that it requested from Hamas via Egyptian mediators. But Haniyeh announced yesterday that Hamas has already succeeded in getting Israel to separate the truce talks from a deal to free kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. "The process of arriving at a cease-fire is close to conclusion," he said, speaking to a gathering in Gaza. "The truce must be mutual," he added, stressing that Hamas continues to insist that any such deal include the reopening of the border crossings into the Gaza Strip.

Mhanna: ''PFLP did not bless the truce''
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/18/2008
Responding to the statements of Hamas leader Dr. Mahmoud Zahhar, who said in a press conference on Thursday that all Palestinian factions had agreed to the truce, member of the Political Bureau of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Rabah Mhanna, said that this truce is way below the minimum expectations and that his group did not agree to its terms. Mhaanna said that the PFLP issues the following statements regarding the truce offer;1. The conditions of the truce, which Hamas agreed to, fall short of the conditions that Hamas informed the PFLP during previous talk sessions. 2. Any truce should be achieved through national dialogue and coherence, and should be based on the National Unity Document in order to ease the suffering of the Palestinian people. 3. The PFLP believes that truce or calm with the occupations is a faulty policy as long as. . .

Lightning never strikes twice?
Yoel Marcus, Ha’aretz 6/18/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak called me on Saturday night, brimming with complaints about Ehud Olmert. "We could have reached a decision on Gaza three weeks ago, but Olmert is busy futzing around," he said. "Maybe we will have to go into Gaza," Barak went on, "but Hamas is not going to vanish into thin air. So it’s better to reach an agreement before we launch any major offensive. What we can’t afford is to be neither here nor there, which is what Olmert is doing. No tahadiyeh and no offensive. "I don’t know if a tahadiyeh will work," Barak continued. "It’s not the kind of agreement that ends in a glitzy signing ceremony in Sharm, and you need to be sure you’re doing the right thing. But the prime minister is going in circles, pretending he doesn’t know what’s flying. The cabinet doesn’t meet, or it meets and they talk nonsense because everything gets leaked.

ANALYSIS / Cease-fire deal means Hamas is in charge
Zvi Bar''el, Ha’aretz 6/18/2008
The main points of a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas grant the Islamic organization a political and diplomatic achievement that will also give it a lever in its reconciliation talks with Fatah, which are slated to begin at the end of this week. According to the Egyptian-mediated proposal, Israel will no longer be able to monitor the Rafah crossing, on the Gaza-Egypt border, once it reopens, and a deal to free kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit will be discussed separately from the truce, as Hamas wanted. Israel will receive quiet in the south, along with an Egyptian pledge to monitor the border closely, but Hamas will be the main party in control of the Rafah crossing. Palestinian Authority officials and European observers will be present, but both will have limited authority.

Calm to be announced by weekend
Palestinian Information Center 6/17/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Reliable sources told the PIC in the Syrian capital Damascus that Israel had approved to halt all forms of aggression and to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip in return for calm. The sources expected the Egyptian-mediated calm between Israel and the Palestinian resistance factions to be announced by the end of the week. Hamas’s political leaders Dr. Khalil Al-Hayya and Dr. Jamal Abu Hashem left Damascus on Tuesday morning heading back to Cairo after holding lengthy meetings with the Hamas political bureau members that started late Monday and continued till dawn Tuesday. Sources told PIC that Hayya and Hashem exchanged views with the political bureau members about the Israeli offer that was relayed to the Hamas delegation by the Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman on Saturday in Cairo. The Hamas officials would not elaborate on details or nature of the Israeli offer and the Movement’s position towards it.

Hamas to announce ''final response'' on ceasefire within two days
Ma’an News Agency 6/17/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – Hamas will announce its final response regarding a ceasefire with Israel as soon as it completes one last round of consultations within the movement and with other Palestinian factions in Gaza, Hamas official spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said on Tuesday. "Hamas’ final response regarding ceasefire will be announced as soon as the delegation returns from Egypt and consults with the leadership of Hamas and reviews the results of conversations in Egypt to with Palestinian factions when a final and official response will be given," Barhoum said. Hamas is seeking an end to the Israeli-imposed siege of the Gaza Strip in Egypian mediated talks with Israel. Barhoum’s remarks suggest that nearly five months of back and forth meetings maybe coming to a conclusion. Barhoum denied reports that it would take two full days for Hamas to make its decision, implying that Hamas’ answer would come sooner.

Hamas: period of calm with Israeli forces nearly ready
Palestine News Network 6/17/2008
Gaza / PNN -- After exhaustive efforts on the part of both Egypt and the Hamas party, the Israelis have essentially agreed to a period of "calm" in the Gaza Strip. It is reported by both Egyptian and other sources that the "calm" will be announced on Thursday. Hamas Spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhari said on Tuesday that "calming talks with Israel are coming to an end. "He stressed that they were close to an announcement. "The talks about calm are moving positively and are near completion. "The only caveat, Abu Zuhari said, is "unless there are other developments. "Israeli forces have killed six Palestinians today in Gaza after killing four yesterday. But it is doubtful that this will change things as the attacks are ongoing. Yesterday’s news reported that the Hamas delegation returned from Cairo without any answer from the Israelis, but today’s news is that the "calm" will go through.

Senior IDF officer warns lull will be temporary, fragile
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 6/17/2008
IDF chief briefs Knesset’s Foreign Affairs, Defense Committee on pending ceasefire with Gaza militias, says military will continue preparing for Gaza op. London paper reports lull will include three stages, makes no mention of Gilad Shalit - IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi spoke before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday and said that while the IDF is giving the ceasefire between Israel and the militant groups in Gaza a chance, it will continue preparing for an operation in the Gaza Strip. A senior IDF officer who attended the meeting added that any truce achieved in Gaza will be "temporary and fragile. " Speaking about the Palestinian Authority’s efforts in the West Bank, Ashkenazi noted that "the Palestinian security services are doing their job when in comes to policing, but not when it comes to security.

Egypt: Gaza truce to start Thursday
Middle East Online 6/17/2008
CAIRO - Israel and Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza have accepted the first stage of an Egyptian-mediated truce from 0300 GMT on Thursday, a senior Egyptian official told state media on Tuesday. "The Palestinian and Israeli sides have accepted the first stage of a reciprocal and simultaneous period of calm, starting in the Gaza Strip, from 6 am on Thursday," the official MENA news agency quoted the official as saying. Egypt has been mediating indirect talks between Israel and the main Palestinian armed factions for months in a bid to secure a ceasefire and lift an Israeli blockade of the impoverished territory. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said earlier that the proposed truce includes "a mutual ceasefire, the lifting of the siege and the opening of the crossings according to specific terms," without providing more details.

Hamas delegation led by Mishaal confers with UAE president
Palestinian Information Center 6/17/2008
ABU DHABI, (PIC)-- Khaled Mishaal, the political bureau chairman of the Hamas Movement, on Tuesday met Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahayyan, the president of the United Arab Emirates, in Abu Dhabi. Mishaal, who is heading an official Hamas delegation, arrived earlier Tuesday aboard a private UAE plane at the official invitation of Sheikh Khalifa. A Hamas statement said that the discussions tackled the latest political developments in the Palestinian arena, and noted that consultations were made over those developments. This is the first time that a Hamas delegation arrives for a meeting with the UAE president in the past ten years. The late Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the co-founder of the Hamas Movement, visited the UAE in 1998 within an Arab and Islamic tour and met with late UAE president Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahayyan.

Barak: It is too early to declare calm in Gaza
Yuval Azoulay Jack Khoury and Shahar Ilan and The Associated, Ha’aretz 6/17/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday cautioned that it was too early to announce that an Egyptian-brokered truce between Israel and Gaza militant groups had been achieved. "This evening, the possibility of reaching a calm is being examined. It is still early to declare it, and it is difficult to determine how long it will last," Barak said, speaking during a conference at Beit Yehoshua. The defense minister added that "the test will be in its implementation, but nevertheless Nevertheless, it is important to make all possible efforts to take advantage of the possibility of calm and to promote the return of peace to Gaza area communities like Ashkelon and Sderot, and to make all possible efforts to take advantage of the chance to renew negotiations over the release of Gilad Shalit.

Egyptian official: Calm to start on Thursday morning
Palestinian Information Center 6/17/2008
CAIRO, (PIC)-- A senior Egyptian official on Tuesday declared that calm between Israel and Palestinian resistance factions in the Gaza Strip would go into effect on Thursday morning. The official Egyptian news agency "MENA" quoted the source as saying that the calm would take place according to the Egyptian tabled offer. Both the Israeli and Palestinian sides have agreed to the first stage of this offer, which stipulates the start of a reciprocal and simultaneous calm in the Strip first as of 0600 am local time on Thursday, the source added. The Egyptian announcement follows statements by a number of Hamas officials and other factions that the calm would start by the end of this week.

Peres: Hamas is exhausted due to Gaza blockade
JPOST.COM STAFF, Jerusalem Post 6/17/2008
"Hamas is exhausted and is requesting a truce due to the blockade Israel imposed on the Gaza Strip," President Shimon Peres said Tuesday. Peres told an Israel Radio reporter that there would likely be different accounts concerning the cease-fire since the negotiations were held with Egypt and not Hamas. Regarding IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. -Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi’s remarks at the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee earlier Tuesday that the truce would be "fragile and short," Peres said that it was "just an estimation. "[end]

French FM says Syria to join Israel at Mediterranean summit
AFP, YNetNews 6/17/2008
’Assad will be sitting at the same table as Olmert’ next month’s Paris conference, Bernard Kouchner tells parliament, ’ we welcome the fact that the Syrians are talking to the Israelis’ -Syrian President Bashar Assad will be joining Israel’s leader at a summit to launch a new Mediterranean Union in Paris next month, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Tuesday. "The Syrian president will be there, sitting next to, at the same table, as the Israeli (prime minister)," Kouchner told parliament. Israel and Syria on Monday wrapped up a second round of indirect talks in Turkey and agreed to hold more meetings in July. But Kouchner did not confirm reports that a meeting could be held in Paris between Assad and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the sidelines of the July 13 summit.

IDF officer charged with stealing LAW rocket, selling it to criminals
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 6/17/2008
Indictment says lieutenant stole weapons from army bases to pay off $120,000 illegal gambling debt; ’he facing an impossible situation after being pressured by criminal elements,’ his attorney says -An IDF lieutenant was charged with stealing weapons and selling them off to criminal elements. According to an indictment filed by the Military Advocate General’s Office, the officer, a commander of an anti-aircraft battery, committed the crimes to pay off a $120,000 illegal gambling debt he had accumulated. Many of the weapons have yet to be retrieved. The indictment claimed that the series of offenses began in September 2007 when the accused stole a LAW rocket from a weapons cache Duvdevan unit base. The officer allegedly sold the rocket to civilians for $1,500. About four months ago, according to the indictment, the lieutenant sold an M-16 assault rifle he had stolen for about $600.

Israeli sources: Deal with Hezbollah maybe next week
Amos Harel Haaretz Staff and Agencies, Ha’aretz 6/18/2008
An exchange of prisoners with Hezbollah is expected to take place in the near future, Israeli security sources confirmed yesterday. The deal will not take place this week, but sources said it is likely to take place late next week. Lebanese media referred to a number of dates for an exchange yesterday, with Friday June 20 being the earliest, and Wednesday June 25 being the latest. A senior political source told Haaretz yesterday that Israel is still waiting for a final response from Hezbollah and "nothing is final yet. "Zvi Regev, father of reservist Eldad Regev, abducted by Hezbollah on July 12, 2006 along with Ehud Goldwasser, said yesterday the family had recently been briefed about an exchange deal that was described as in advanced stages. In an interview to Israel Radio, Regev said Ofer Dekel, who has been charged by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with managing the. . .

Israel waiting for Nasrallah
Ron Ben-Yishai, YNetNews 6/17/2008
Israel’s negotiations with Hizbullah for return of IDF soldiers Eldad Regev, Ehud Goldwasser reach final stretch; PM’s Office warns deal not as imminent as Lebanese media depicts -Ofer Dekel, the Prime Minister’s Office’s emissary heading Israel’s efforts to have its missing and captive soldiers’ returned, has traveled abroad earlier in the week, where his is awaits the reply ofHizbullah Chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah on the deal offered by Israel for the return of kidnapped IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. Nasrallah is expected to address three key points: The release of a small number of Palestinian prisoners, the date in which the deal will be carried out and its exact stages. Deal imminent? Arab media say Israel-Hizbullah prisoner exchange deal expected in coming days/ Roni Sofer Lebanese newspapers report return. . .

Tourism to Israel breaks all-time record in May
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 6/18/2008
Nearly 300,000 tourists visited Israel in May, an all-time record, the Ministry of Tourism said. The number of tourists was five percent higher than May of 2000, Israel’s record year for tourism, and at the current pace, 2. 8 million tourists are on track to visit by the end of the year, according to the ministry. "With the continuing growth pattern, this contribution will be felt in all aspects of the tourism industry throughout Israel," said ministry director-general Shaul Tzemach. Tzemach, who noted that increased tourism will bring benefits to outlying areas as well, will head a June 23 meeting at Kissufim near the Gaza border to discuss plans to bring an additional 3. 3 million visitors to Israel in 2009. Some of the steps the Ministry of Tourism intends to take include: Improving standards of customer service. . .

Tax authority employees fear criminals
Shmuel Dekalo and Hadas Magen, Globes Online 6/17/2008
The employees are asking for police protection and pay rises. Sources inform ’’Globes’’ that the chairman of the income tax division worker’s committee at the Israel Tax Authority, Nahum Friedlov, has instructed investigators in his unit not to cooperate with the police on inquiries requiring cooperation between the two authorities. The investigators are demanding police protection and pay rises. A spokesperson for the Israel Tax Authority said, "This is a labor dispute which is the authority is handling in cooperation with the Finance Ministry and the relevant authorities with a view to resolving the issue quickly. " Friedlov’s directive follows his previous instruction to staff not to handle cases related to crime families, until the completion of the negotiations between the Finance Ministry and the Income Tax Division management on the demand by investigators for physical protection and proper remuneration for the risks they face.

Exxon Mobile mulls bid on natural gas imports to Israel
Lior Baron and Irit Avissar, Globes Online 6/17/2008
Sources: Company executives recently visited Israel in secret, reportedly to meet Nochi Dankner’s IDB. Sources inform ’’Globes’’ that Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE: XOM) is holding preliminary talks to join in the project to import liquid natural gas (LNG) to Israel. The sources said that Exxon executives recently visited Israel in secret to examine whether to bid in the multi-billion dollar project. Exxon may join one of the Israeli holding companies to bid in the tender. Energy sources said that the talks were with IDB Holding Corp. Ltd. (TASE: IDBH), controlled by chairman and CEO Nochi Dankner, which has been considering the tender through subsidiary Clal Industries and Investments Ltd. (TASE: CII"Globes" recently reported that the government decided to expedite the procedures for publishing a tender for the import of LNG because of an expected. . .

Shekel-dollar rate plummets
Yossi Nissan, Globes Online 6/17/2008
The exchange rate fell sharply as weak macroeconomic data from the US followed a jump in Israel’s CPI for May. The shekel-dollar exchange rate is down 2. 5% today as disappointing macro-economic data in the US followed Sunday’s May CPI figures released by the Central Bureau of Statistics. The shekel-dollar exchange rate is down 2. 53% to NIS 3. 315/$, and the shekel-euro rate is down 1. 79% to NIS 5. 1826/€. The dollar was weaker worldwide as treasury heads of the G-8 failed to directly address the dollar, focusing instead on the global inflation threat. Some speculators had expected a major announcement, and have now reversed their bets on the currency. Locally, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0. 7% in May, and has risen 5. 4% over the past 12 months. Analysts now expect theBank of Israel to raise the interest rate by 25 basis points at the end of June.

Leumi UK head arrested on fraud charges
Eran Peer, Globes Online 6/17/2008
He allegedly authorized loans at extraordinary terms without guarantees. Menachem (Miki) Friedman, the managing director and CEO of Bank Leumi (UK) plc, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bank Leumi(TASE: LUMI) has been arrested on suspicion of embezzling NIS 25 million. 13 other persons have also been arrested. In a notice to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) today, Bank Leumi said, "Irregularities were discovered in the approval of loans" approved by Friedman. Bank Leumi said that the irregularities were discovered by a regular internal audit. It added, "The audit indicates that this is an isolated incident that has no repercussions on the bank’s customers. To the best of the bank’s knowledge, the incident will cause no material losses to the bank. " Friedman allegedly authorized loans at extraordinary terms without guarantees.

ANALYSIS / When a single comment raises oil costs, market is in trouble
Guy Rolnik TheMarker, Ha’aretz 6/17/2008
Israeli observers sneered. If Israel’s transport minister, in his ravening for headlines, in his political intriguing, in his petty little party hackery, can raise the price of oil in world markets by $8 to an all-time high (at least for a few hours), then the oil market evidently isn’t a place where things are thought through in depth. Shaul Mofaz did indeed make a fool of himself, and of traders in the world oil market, too. But don’t let that comical incident fool you. The surge of oil from around $70 to almost $140 per barrel in the last year reflects real change in the world economy, not passing whims of traders in a speculative market. Almost 30 years have passed since oil seized the broad public’s attention. Barring pinpoint spikes caused by specific events, such as the first Gulf War, the general public tends to overlook oil. . .

Iraq deal with US to end immunity for foreign contractors
Patrick Cockburn in Washington, The Independent 6/18/2008
The US has accepted that foreign contractors in Iraq will no longer have immunity from Iraqi law under a new security agreement now under negotiation, says the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari. Mr Zebari, speaking to The Independent in Washington, said that if there was a further incident like the one in which 17 Iraqis were killed by workers from the Blackwater security company in Baghdad last September, the Iraqis would arrest and punish the contractors held responsible. The American concession would have a serious effect in Iraq, where there are an estimated 160,000 foreign contractors, many of them heavily armed security personnel. The contractors, who outnumber the 145,000-strong US Army in the country, have become a vital if much-resented part of the military machine in Iraq. Mr Zebari, Foreign Minister since 2004 and one of the ablest Iraqi leaders, defends the security. . .

Massive Baghdad blast kills at least 51, wounds 75
Salam Faraj, Daily Star 6/18/2008
Agence France Presse BAGHDAD: A car bomb at a bus stop in northern Baghdad killed at least 51 people and wounded 75 on Tuesday in one of the deadliest attacks in the capital in months, security officials toldAFP. The attack took place in the mainly Shiite Al-Hurriyah neighborhood at around 5:30 p. m. , at the peak of the evening rush hour, the officials said. Several nearby buildings and vehicles caught fire in the aftermath of the explosion that was so powerful it could be heard more than 5 kilometers away. The casualties, many of them women and children, were taken to several city hospitals, officials said. The car bombing came just hours after a bomb hidden on a motorcycle exploded at a checkpoint in another area of northern Baghdad, killing four fighters of a group battling Al-Qaeda militants.

’No immunity’ for Iraq contractors
Al Jazeera 6/16/2008
A controversial deal on the long-term US military presence in Iraq will not include immunity for US contractors working in the country, the Iraqi foreign minister has said. Speaking exclusively to Al Jazeera, Hoshyar Zebari said on Monday that the US had accepted the demand and it would be stated explicitly in the agreement. "There would be no immunity whatsoever for private contractors because of what we’ve gone through with them in the past and because of the sensitivities for the Iraqi people," he said. Zebari said his country was making major progress in finalising the deal by the end of June and the US was showing "great flexibility". The presence of tens of thousands of foreign private security contractors in Iraq has been heavily criticised, especially. . .


Articles


Refugees are the essence
Azmi Bishara, Al-Ahram Weekly 6/12/2008
      The Palestinian national struggle began among the Palestinian refugees, whose lives are the ongoing reality of the Nakba. No national strategy for resistance is possible without them at the centre, writes Some have an almost religious faith that Israel will one day cease to exist. Others maintain that Israel will end if the Arabs optimise their conviction that it is an alien entity in the region, incapable of reaching a just peace because it seeks to dominate rather than to assimilate. Odder yet is the belief that peace is the key to Israel’s inevitable destruction. Unless Israel can be delivered a major defeat just once, proponents of this belief hold, normalisation is the most powerful weapon against it, because it would then be torn apart by its internal contradictions.
     There is no proof of the potential efficacy of either the major defeat concept or the normalisation weapon, even if Ben-Gurion had raised the spectre of the latter. Unfortunately, the reiteration of such unsubstantiated claims becomes a form of opiate for the people, a mystical alternative to the summoning of collective will, the formulation of a strategy for resistance, and the proactive exploitation of Israel’s internal contradictions.

Aqaba: Past, Present, but is there a Future?

Yasmin Abou-Amer, MIFTAH 6/16/2008
      Last Sunday, I embarked upon a two and a half hour journey to the borders of the Jordan Valley, to a Palestinian village in the West Bank named Aqaba. Aqaba lies to the east of Tubas city and has an area of 3,500 dunums. It seems entirely set back from the rest of the West Bank and it even has it own entrance with a welcome sign. You need to drive along a long, sandy road in order to get there. This picture shows the entrance sign to Aqaba. Upon my arrival, I was warmly greeted by the wheelchair-bound head of the Village Council, Haj Sami Sadeq with whom I had scheduled an interview. He kindly invited me into his office so we could discuss the fate of Aqaba at the hands of the Israeli Civil Administration. Aqaba, this small, unremarkable village tucked away in the corner of the West Bank, whose inhabitants live a simple and quiet life, is currently in the headlines on a regular basis.
     Aqaba village is situated in Area C of the West Bank, between two Israeli military bases.A third base, which was located at the village’s western entrance was dismantled in June 2003. The area was declared a closed military zone in 1967. The population size has been diminished to only 300 people, down from above 1,000 prior to the 1967 War. The village was declared a military zone for purely strategic reasons, with Israel citing “security reasons” as its motive. A lot of the displaced families that left Aqaba left due to Israeli aggression towards them, choosing to go and live in the nearby cities of Tayaseer, Tubas and Nablus.

Surgery under siege

Rami Almeghari writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 6/17/2008
      Marzouq Mo’amar’s smile has returned to his face after he had almost lost hope because of thyroid cancer that had spread to his neck. Just a few weeks ago Palestinian doctors at the Gaza European Hospital in southern Gaza, were able to perform a life-saving surgery for the 62-year-old from Rafah.
     "I risked my life undergoing surgery under such hard circumstances with no proper medical care and inadequate medical staff as well as a crippling closure," Mo’amar said while sitting at his house in the Alghosain tribe’s village in Rafah city in the south of the Gaza Strip.
     "When I decided to undergo surgery, despite all the risks involved, I had no choice because I have no travel document," Mo’amar explained.
     "However, Thank God, for God has saved my life, with the help of great local doctors and under extraordinary conditions in the besieged Gaza Strip. I appeal to all free human beings in the world to stand by Gaza’s patients who die one after another because of the Israeli closure," the recovering Mo’amar said.

Israeli authorities imprison Palestinian women even after their death

Iqbal Tamimi, Palestine Think Tank 6/17/2008
      Israeli occupation forces have arrested more than 10,000 Palestinian women of various backgrounds and ages since 1967.
     720 Palestinian women were arrested during the Al-Aqsa Intifada, 102 of them are still detained to this date.
     Arresting mothers, wives and sisters of wanted persons or detainees is one form of collective punishment, and it is aimed at forcing Palestinian men to confess or surrender under pressure. In many incidents Palestinian women were threatened in prisons to detain their children in order to force the mothers to cooperate.
     A report by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (April 2008) reported 6 cases of Israeli forces threatening Palestinian prisoners to detain their family members this year. There are documented reports of detaining members of families of Palestinian prisoners without any valid legal reason to do so. This report has been submitted to the Knesset. The president of the Israeli International security service (Shin Bet) confirmed that one incident at least was confirmed by the Investigation Unit during the hearing of the case.

Fureidis bus boycott

Ariel Rubinsky, Ha’aretz 6/18/2008
      Ibtisam Mahmid, a 48-year-old mother of three in the Arab town of Fureidis, devotes most of her time and energy to social activism on behalf of women in the region and to promoting peace. She puts together workshops and seminars, and is responsible for organizing the women’s tent for "Sulha" (Arabic for reconciliation), an annual event in which Jews, Arabs and religious figures from around the world meet. She puts Palestinian children in need of complex medical care in touch with Israeli hospitals, and organizes "listening circles".
     What exactly are listening circles?
     Mahmid: "The goal of the circles is for each side to present its version of an event while the other side listens. That way you create a dialogue between cultures. At first, you don’t want to hear the other side - you want to wallow inside your own pain. But you discover new things when you are exposed to the feelings of the other side. When a friend told me about the Holocaust, for example, I cried. I asked myself how it is possible that my people live under occupation and they show horrible scenes on television every day, and I sit here and cry over what happened to the Jewish people."

A Trip Down Gaza’s Deadly Tunnels

Paul Martin, MIFTAH 6/17/2008
      Again and again the Gaza Strip is described as a prison.
     Israel controls access, and thanks to its long-running confrontation with groups like Hamas, it has made it near impossible for Gazans to come and go from the tiny strip of territory.
     But there is a very unofficial and well-known way in and out - the tunnels.
     The network is dug deep into the soft sand and runs under the border with Egypt.
     They are used to smuggle in everything from cigarettes to food to weapons.
     I have come to know some of the men who dig Gaza’s tunnels, and in so doing I have gone underground to explore their dark and dangerous world.
     The most disconcerting thing about crawling on hands and knees through these tunnels is the steady drip, drip of soft soil that keeps falling on you.
     You start to wonder just how soon it will be before the whole thing collapses.
     Usually it does not, in fact, collapse - despite the fact that many of the tunnels do not have anything to support the roof.

Life in Gaza Today

Taghreed El-Khodary, MIFTAH 6/17/2008
      What is the situation in Gaza like a year after Hamas’ violent take over?
     This is the worst time that Gaza has ever gone through. The situation is deteriorating on a daily basis because of the harsh effects of the closure. It touches every element of daily life in Gaza.
     First, the fuel shortages. There are taxi drivers who are not getting the fuel they need. There are workers and students who never before had to question whether there would be gas at the station or if they might have to wait for hours to fill up only part of their tank. Now, if you go to any gas station, it is completely closed. So, you go to the black market and you pay a lot of money.
     Since there is no fuel, people are using cooking oil instead. It’s a short-term solution, but it is completely unhealthy. It is causing pollution and I talked to a doctor this week who said that people, especially those with heart conditions, are coming in complaining about the impact.
     The Mediterranean is a real gift for the people of Gaza. People are there at the beach all hours. Now that there is better internal security, they feel like they can stay as long as they want. It is their only escape from their daily frustrations. But when you talk to them you find out about fishermen who are using cooking oil, and about the sewage in the water. So you have people finding escape in highly polluted waters.

A Girl from Gaza Identified by her ID

Haneen Zaqout - Grade 10, Friends School, Ramallah, International Solidarity Movement 6/17/2008
      We all spend a lifetime trying to figure out what makes someone who they are, and what defines them. Is it their characteristics, appearances, or behaviors? It may be a combination of all"¦for regular people. But for people who come from where I come from, figuring out who they are is not a choice for them. I come from Gaza City in Palestine, where surviving each day is a huge struggle for all Gazans. Leaving Gaza was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, partly because I miss my old life, and partly it is the guilt kicking in.
     When I left Gaza, I had to go through this checkpoint. It’s not ANY checkpoint. It is the Erez Checkpoint and its there to imprison the people of Gaza because as soon as the Israeli soldiers see a Gaza ID, that person is automatically considered an utter terrorist. Without knowing who they are, without any idea whatsoever about those people, they decide that they are criminals. Who has the right to take a person’s identity from them? Or to judge them based on a piece of paper or nationality? How can they take away people’s choice of trying to figure out who they really are? I don’t know"¦ but as I was walking through that long tunnel in that checkpoint, I realized that no matter what I do, no one will accept me for who I am. In that tunnel, they make no difference whether I am a terrorist or a person who is yearning for peace, not only for my people but also for the Israeli people.

Hatred is too Heavy a Burden to Carry

Cathy Sultan, MIFTAH 6/16/2008
      Before leaving the United States for Israel-Palestine on 1 April, I had the privilege of hearing Representative John Lewis, leader of the Black Caucus in the US Congress. During his interview at the Washington Cathedral, which was part of a series of week-long events commemorating Martin Luther King, Congressman Lewis was asked how, in the face of the violence and persecution he suffered during the Civil Rights movement, he was able to practice non-violent resistance. He responded, "For me, non-violence resistance was never a technique I pulled out of my pocket when I needed it. Rather, it is a deeply held belief I have adopted as a way of life."
     During my recent visit to the Israeli-occupied West Bank I thought often of this incredible man who, despite being imprisoned and beaten to within an inch of his life, decided that hatred was too heavy a burden to carry. Visiting the cities in the West Bank under Israeli occupation I see the image of John Lewis everywhere I look. I see him in the Palestinians who are obliged to walk through checkpoints on a daily basis to get to work or school, in those same individuals who are forbidden access to Israeli-only highways because they are not Israeli citizens, and those who are separated from their family by a Separation Barrier and have now to drive several hours over tortuous, unpaved roads to visit them. I see John Lewis in every Palestinian who has been thrown off his land, had his house demolished and his three-hundred year old olive trees uprooted to make room for illegal Israeli settlements. I see him, too, in the faces of the Palestinian people who maintain their dignity, their humanity and most importantly their sense of humor in the face of daily humiliations.

Keep Israel out of elite economic club

Ran HaCohen, Electronic Intifada 6/17/2008
      Israel’s ruling elite now has a major aspiration: to join the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as a member country. For the sake of the Israelis and of their neighbors, this aspiration should be thwarted by an international campaign of all supporters of peace; and, in fact, by supporters of the free market as well.
     The Paris-based OECD, according to its own website, "brings together the governments of countries committed to democracy and the market economy from around the world." Established in 1961, the OECD has 30 member countries, including most European states, the US, Canada and Japan, but not Russia, Brazil or India -- at least not yet. With a huge budget of 342 million Euro it is one of the most prestigious clubs of nations. Indeed, membership is predominantly a matter of prestige, since unlike the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund, the OECD does not dispense grants or make loans. But prestige means investors’ trust, and investors’ trust means money. Big money.