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

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26 June 2008

Gaza man dies after the army didn’t allow him to leave the Strip for medical care
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/26/2008
Medical sources in Gaza City reported that a Palestinian man died on Thursday because he was prevented by the Israeli army to leave the Gaza Strip to get medical care. The sources said that Adnan Aloush, 55, had cancer and he needed life saving medical care outside Gaza, but the Israeli army refused. Aloush is the 197th patient who has died since June 2007 in Gaza because the Israeli army refused to allow them access to medical care outside the coastal region. [end]

UN: Israel violated truce 7 times in one week
Roi Mandel, YNetNews 6/27/2008
UN records 7 incidents of IDF soldiers attempting to drive Palestinian farmers away from border fence by shooting at them. Only one offence marked against Palestinians for firing on Sderot; report does not include most recent rocket fire - Since it went into effect last week, at least eight violations of the new ceasefire agreement with Hamas and the Palestinian factions have been recorded, a UN source told Ynet on Thursday. According to the source, seven violations were committed by the IDF, while the Palestinians are responsible for just one. However the UN report does not include the Qassam fire launched towards the Negev during the day. "It is important that both sides honor the ceasefire, in order for it to be the first constructive step towards a wider and more extensive peace process between the sides," the source said.

Israeli military continues to torture Palestinian children
Defence for Children International/Palestine Section - DCI/PS, ReliefWeb 6/25/2008
[RAMALLAH, 26 June 2008] - On the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, DCI/PS releases further evidence that Israeli military forces in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) continue to abuse, threaten and torture Palestinian children. Today, DCI/PS is releasing two case studies to draw attention to the continuing plight of Palestinian children, in particular, the 700 Palestinian children who are arrested, interrogated and often abused by the Israeli military and police each year. In one case, Israeli interrogators beat 15-year-old Ibrahim S. over the course of several hours. Ibrahim was then threatened with sexual assault for the purpose of extracting his confession. The accusation, which Ibrahim kept denying, was that he had thrown stones at the Israeli army when it invaded his village the day before.

Israeli forces injure 21 protesters in anti-wall march in Ni’lin near Ramallah
Ma’an News Agency 6/26/2008
Ramallah - Ma’an - About 21 protesters were injured by rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas fired by Israeli forces during a peaceful protest march against the separation wall in Ni’lin, west of Ramallah, on Thursday. Despite the violent response of the Israeli forces, participants were able to reach the Israeli bulldozers and stop them from working during the protest. The regular marches and sit-ins organised by Ni’lin residents have managed to slow the destruction of the village’s agricultural land. So far, the bulldozers have razed 1,200 meters of the wall construction site in the village, but they are behind schedule. The Israeli company has recently brought in three additional bulldozers in an effort to speed up the work. During the protest, Israeli troops severely beat Majdi Salah ’Amira, who stood on top of a bulldozer to prevent it from working, and Rizk Dabbous, who lay on the ground in front of a bulldozer.

Hamas: Continued rocket fire by Fatah armed group harms Palestinian interests
Avi Isacharoff and Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip lashed out at rival militants after two Qassam rockets were fired at southern Israel yesterday, causing no injuries but further straining the shaky truce between Israel and Hamas that went into effect last Thursday morning. In view of the continued rocket fire, Israel will keep the crossings into the Gaza Strip closed today, for the third straight day. The Fatah-affiliated group Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility for yesterday’s rocket fire and demanded that the cease-fire be extended into the West Bank. In a statement carried by the official Palestinian news agency Maan, Hamas warned the militant factions against violating the terms of the cease-fire with Israel, saying such violations harmed the Palestinian national interest. Hamas also threatened to take measures against the violators.

Dialogue to sync positions for future and responses to Israeli violations comes together in Gaza
Palestine News Network 6/26/2008
Gaza / exclusive / PNN - Leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) Saleh Zeidan told PNN on Thursday that President Mahmoud Abbas will arrange the Palestinian national dialogue soon. The meeting in Gaza of several parties was a success in putting positions in sync to continue toward the Palestinian national goal. Zeidan said today that following an Arab tour, and after yesterday’s meeting in Gaza, the stage is nearly set for the national dialogue. The leftist DFLP leader said that Wednesday’s meeting in Gaza brought together delegations from his party, Fateh, Islamic Jihad, Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. "The contacts are at the highest levels with Fateh and all parties for consultation. " He added that "immediate positive results" were garnered from the meeting.

Report: Israel prefers Hamas prisoners be released to Gaza, not West Bank
Barak Ravid Yossi Melman and Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
Israel prefers to release Palestinian prisoners to the Gaza Strip rather than the West Bank as part of its swap with Hamas in exchange for abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, Army Radio reported on Thursday. Defense officials fear that freeing the jailed militants into the West Bank could weaken Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and strengthen Hamas in Fatah territory, the radio said. Israel also wants the authority to determine which of the prisoners will be released to Gaza and which to the West Bank, the radio said. Israel was to present Egyptian mediators in Cairo on Thursday with new formulas that it hopes will result in progress in the case of Shalit, who has been held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip since June 2006. In a meeting in Cairo on Thursday, the Israeli official charged with the negotiations on the prisoners, Ofer Dekel, was to discuss Israel’s new proposals to further the deal on Shalit with Egyptian Chief of Intelligence, General Omar Suleiman.

Shin Bet head agrees to free prisoners ’with blood on their hands’
Amos Harel and Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
Shin Bet security service chief Yuval Diskin has somewhat softened his position regarding the prisoners who could be released in return for Shalit. Diskin is now prepared to release some prisoners "who have the blood of Israelis on their hands," so long as the risk they pose is lessened. The government’s coordinator for hostage negotiations, Ofer Dekel, left for Cairo yesterday, where talks have resumed over a deal to secure the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Shalit was abducted two years ago in a cross-border raid by Palestinian militants, and has since remained in captivity in the Gaza Strip. Sources in the defense establishment expressed satisfaction at the renewed effort to advance the deal, and in particular at the increased Egyptian role in mediating between the parties. The resumption of the talks is part of the agreements Israel and Egypt. . .

Wa’ed Society: ''70 detainees died due Israel’s systematic policy of torture''
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 6/27/2008
The Wa’ed Society for Detainees reported on Thursday that 70 Palestinian Detainees died due to torture in Israeli prisons and interrogation facilities since 1967. The statement of the society came as the world in marking the International Day Against Torture. The society added that Israel legalizes torture against the detainees although it is one of the signatories of the 1986 UN document against torture. The agreement came into effect on June 26 1987 and in 1991 the Israeli government officially approved it. Yet, Israel continued torturing and abusing the detainees which led to the death of 70 detainees in addition to more than 120 who died of medical negligence. The society stated that this agreement means that legal measures should be taken against any county that practices torture. "Torture aims at terrifying, framing, harming and hurting the detainees physically and psychologically. . .

Wa’ed Society: Israeli authorities have tortured 70 Palestinian detainees to death since 1967
Ma’an News Agency 6/26/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - In a statement issued on Thursday to mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the Wa’ed Society for Prisoners and Ex-Detainees confirmed that seventy Palestinian detainees have died as a result of torture in Israeli jails since 1967. The society noted that Israel represents a unique case since the Israeli Knesset has passed laws effectively legalising torture, which no other country has done. This legislation was passed in spite of the fact that Israel signed the UN Convention Against Torture in 1986 and ratified it in 1991. This Convention, which entered into force on 26 June 1987, obliges all signatories to "take active legislative, administrative or juridical measures to prevent acts of torture. " "The aim of torture is to confuse and intimidate prisoners, as well as to criminalise them and pressure them for information," noted the society, "and the torture begins from the moment of detention.

Prisoner ministry: Israel the only country sanctioning torture under int’l cover
Palestinian Information Center 6/26/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The ministry of prisoner affairs stated Thursday that Israel is the only country in the world that practices torture under international political and legal cover, pointing out that there are more than 11,700 Palestinians in Israeli jails living in inhuman conditions. In a report issued by the ministry on the occasion of the world day against torture which marks 26 of June, Dr. Ahmed Shweideh said that the IOA has escalated its torture policy against prisoners, where from the first moment of arrest, the IOF troops use tight plastic stripes to shackle their victims and blindfold them before starting to beat them brutally with batons and rifle butts and to trample them underfoot. Dr. Shweideh underscored that the Israeli general committee against torture revealed that there are 90 cases of torture against Palestinian prisoners including children who are supposed to be protected by international law.

Wife of the oldest administrative detainee calls for his release
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/27/2008
Wife of detainee, Adnan Hamarsha, voiced an appeal to Human Rights Groups and the International Community to intervene for the release of her husband who has been imprisoned by Israel under administrative detention without charges for more than five consecutive years. The Israeli Prison Authorities renewed the administrative detention orders against Hamarsha 18 times without pressing charges against him. The wife told the Ahrar Center for Detainees Studies that he was kidnapped by the army on December, 28, 2003, which means that he has been in detention for 54 months. Hamarsha is currently detained at the Negev Detention Camp. He was born on October 5, 1965 and is a father of six children. The Ahrar center stated that there are more than 1000 detainees imprisoned under administrative detention orders, and that the only reason for their continued detention is a claim by the. . .

VP of European Parliament: torture kills humanity
Palestine News Network 6/26/2008
Brussels / Luisa Morgantini / PNN -- It is well-documented by Palestinian and Israeli sources that Israeli forces routinely practice torture against Palestinians, particularly those in its prisons. The United States also uses the practice against many Arabs in its own facilities, such as those in Cuba and Iraq. Therefore on the occasion of the United Nations’ International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, PNN English is running the following piece penned by the Vice President of the European Parliament, a great supporter of Palestinian human rights and a frequent guest at demonstrations in the occupied land, Luisa Morgantini. "No reason can justify the use of torture and every humiliating and degrading treatment that represents the denial and the destruction of all human rights. Torture is always and everywhere unacceptable" declared Luisa Morgantini, Vice President of the European. . .

Zahalka: torture of Palestinians in Israeli prisons is the rule, not the exception
Amin Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 6/26/2008
Nablus -- Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, Jamal Zahalka, is using Thursday, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, to bring the issue of Israeli torture of Palestinian political prisoners to the table. Zahalka is proposing a full discussion on the report issued by the People’s Committee against Torture in Israel which details the ways in which Israeli soldiers routinely mistreat Palestinians. "The occupation soldiers are trained in the school of sadism; they torture Palestinian detainees and abuse them. "The report referred to how the soldiers deal with the Palestinians after they are handcuffed, shackled and have had their eyes covered. It outlines 90 cases among thousands where political prisoners are subjected to brutal torture by Israeli soldiers.

Activists to break Gaza siege by sea
Palestine News Network 6/26/2008
Gaza / PNN -- After more than a year of devastating Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip Osama Kashoua told the newspaper ’Al Quds Al Arabia’ that a group of activists is heading to Gaza via sea. There will be 45 people on the boat purchased with donated funds raised for the project entitled "Freedom for Gaza. " Among the boaters will be five journalists; one each from the London papers the Guardian and the Independent, Sky News, Al Jazeera and Al Arabia. The remaining 40 are to include members of the European Parliament, several artists and a Jewish woman who survived the Holocaust during World War II. Also in the group is former Princeton University professor Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Palestine who investigates Israeli violations of human rights law.

PCHR: Narratives Under Siege - Swimming in Sewage
International Solidarity Movement 6/26/2008
In order to highlight the impact of the siege and closure of the Gaza Strip on the civilian population, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights - PCHR - is publishing a series of “Narratives Under Siege” on the PCHR website. These short articles are based on personal testimonies and experiences of life in the Gaza Strip, and look to highlight the restrictions, and violations, being imposed on the civilians of Gaza. - Narratives Under Siege: Swimming in Sewage - "I think the sea probably is polluted. Sometimes I get strange white marks on my skin;but we come down to the beach every day because we have nowhere else to go. "  Samer and his friends are hanging out on the beach in Gaza city, next to the old fishing harbour, and just about to jump into the sea. One of the boys holds a plastic bottle with several small fish and a tiny crab trapped inside. The fish are all dead. Less than a hundred metres away, a sewage pipe pours mucky water into streams of dark waste that flows towards the sea where Samer and his friends swim.

Report: 24 patients died in Gaza during 24 days this month due to the siege
Palestinian Information Center 6/26/2008
BRUSSELS, (PIC)-- The European campaign to lift the siege reported that 24 Palestinian patients including children died during 24 days of current June as a result of the lack of medicines and the Israeli restrictions imposed on travel for medical treatment outside the Gaza Strip. In a report, the campaign said that since Israel started to tighten its siege on Gaza in mid-June 2007, the number of the siege victims rose to 195 out of 1,500 patients suffering difficult health conditions. The campaign had pointed out in a previous report that 32 Palestinian patients, one third of them were children and infants, died last May while 20 other died in April which indicates that the number of the siege victims is on the rise every month. The campaign appealed to Egypt to urgently open the Rafah border crossing to save the Gaza people and to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.

Israeli Soldiers Deliberately Attack PMRS Health Worker
Palestinian Medical Relief Society - PMRS, Palestine Monitor 6/26/2008
Ramallah, 26-06-08: The Israeli military deliberately targeted PMRS health worker Ahmad Ayyash on the 16th of June, as he attempted to reach one of the non-violent protesters injured during a peaceful demonstration against construction of the Wall in the Palestinian village of Ni’lin. While 29-year-old Ahmad was approaching a youth injured in the thigh by a rubber-coated bullet, an Israeli soldier fired one bullet at the PMRS vehicle in which he was traveling. "I made every effort to show the soldiers that I was a health worker" said Ahmad. "I sounded the siren of the vehicle, I called to the soldier in English, and I clearly showed the PMRS logo on my vest. "Ten seconds later, soldiers fired 14 more bullets at the vehicle, damaging the body and smashing the windows. PMRS health worker Ahmad Ayyash holds 1 of the 15 rubber-coated bullets that were fired at his. . .

IOA uproots 300 old olive trees
Palestinian Information Center 6/26/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Israeli bulldozers have destroyed 300 old olive trees that date back to the Roman times in Beit Hanina village in occupied Jerusalem, the village’s municipal council reported on Wednesday. Nidal Abu Hamda, the council’s chairman, said that the Israeli occupation forces, which closed off the targeted area after declaring it a military zone on Tuesday, escorted huge bulldozers and assaulted villagers who tried to defend their centuries old trees. He appealed to all international institutions and human rights groups to help the village in face of such destruction. Villagers in the town issued a statement denouncing the IOF inhuman practices that included uprooting hundreds of olive trees, bulldozing cultivated lands and dividing the village into two parts. They appealed to the world community to swiftly act to put an end to the "serious" Israeli violations,. . .

The Israeli army invades Nablus and nearby refugee camp, two civilians kidnapped
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/26/2008
The Israeli army kidnapped two Palestinian civilians during an invasion targeting the northern West Bank city of Nablus on Thursday. Local sources said that Israeli troops searched and ransacked the homes of Thaer Al Nasser, 19, and Hassan Qara’nah, 20, in Nablus city before taking the two to unknown locations. In addition another force invaded Al Ein refugee camp near Nablus; witnesses reported that soldiers searched some homes there. During the search witnesses said that soldiers took personal information about the families living in these homes and took their cell phone numbers. [end]

Hebron woman hospitalized after assault by Israeli forces
Ma’an News Agency 6/26/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - A Hebron woman was hospitalized on Wednesday evening after she was assaulted by Israeli forces who were trying to detain her brother. Thirty-one-year-old Jawaher Taha was taken to the governmental hospital in Hebron for treatment. Local sources told Ma’an that Israeli forces stormed the Abu Sneineh neighborhood of central Hebron and detained the woman’s brother, 19-year-old Ghalib Rajeh Abdul-Mohsen Taha, after forcing the family to leave the house. He had been released from an Israeli jail four months ago. [end]

Israeli forces detain two Palestinians in Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 6/26/2008
Nablus - Ma’an - Israeli forces detained two Palestinian civilians at dawn on Thursday in the West Bank city of Nablus after storming a number of neighborhoods. Palestinian security sources told Ma’an’s correspondent in Nablus that Israeli forces detained 24-year-old Hassan Hashem Qar’alli and 19-year-old Tha’er Fathi Nasser in Al-Ma’moon Street near the western cemetery in Nablus. [end]

Israeli forces detain seven Palestinians across West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 6/26/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Seven Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces in dawn raids across the West Bank on Thursday. Sources said that the Israeli army detained seven people who Israel claims are ’wanted’ from the cities of Tulkarem, Nablus, Ramallah. All the detainees were transferred to interrogation centers for questioning. [end]

Fatah-allied militants fire rocket into Israel from southern Gaza
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 6/27/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: A rocket fired from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip hit southern Israel on Thursday, the fourth to do so since a truce between Israel and the Islamist movement took effect a week ago. The rocket caused no casualties or damage when it struck an open field near the southern Israeli town of Sderot, which before the truce had weathered near-daily attacks since Hamas seized power in Gaza a year ago. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed group tied to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement, said it carried out the attack and also launched another rocket directed at the southern city of Ashkelon. An Israeli military spokesman confirmed a second rocket was fired but would not say whether it struck Israeli territory. Al-Aqsa railed against the truce in a statement, charging that Hamas had imposed it on other Gaza factions and that Israel did not respect it.

Hamas: Qassam fire is harming Palestinian interests
Avi Issacharoff Barak Ravid Yossi Melman and Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip voiced its rage on Thursday after Gaza militants fired two rockets into southern Israel Thursday, causing no injuries but further straining a shaky, week-old truce between Israel and the Gaza rulers. The militant group Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, affiliated with Hamas rivals Fatah, claimed responsibility for Thursday’s Qassam strikes. In a statement carried by the official Palestinian news agency Ma’an, Hamas warned the militant factions against violating the terms of the cease fire with Israel, saying such violations harmed the Palestinian national interest. Hamas also threatened to take the necessary steps against the violators. A Hamas spokesman said the "tahadiyeh" (calm) was a national Palestinian interest, and that anyone who tried to sabotage it was acting in an "anti-national" way.

Al-Aqsa brigades launch projectile at Sderot; call for truce in West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 6/26/2008
Gaza – Bethlehem – Ma’an – Fatah’s military wing, the Al-Aqsa brigades claimed responsibility for launching a projectile at the Israeli town of Sderot on Thursday afternoon, calling for the truce to include the West Bank. Israeli sources said that the projectile was launched next to the industrial area near Sderot but it did not cause any injuries or damage. The Egyptian brokered truce between Palestinian resistance factions in the Gaza Strip and Israel began at 6am on June 19. Israeli forces have opened fire on Palestinian farmers in two separate attacks, injuring 67-year-old Jameel Al-Ghoul and 80-year-old Salem Abu Reideh. In response Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds brigades launched two projectiles at Sderot. Israel has said it will not reopen the Gaza, allowing essential supplies into the impoverished coastal sector because of the brigades’ recent projectile attacks.

Al-Khudari: Israeli closure of Gaza border crossings causing renewed fuel shortage
Ma’an News Agency 6/27/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Jamal Al-Khudari, Palestinian Legislative Council member and head of the Popular Committee Against the Siege, on Thursday urged Egypt and the international community to press Israel to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip and open the border crossings as required in the truce agreement. Al-Khudari also urged the Palestinian factions and resistance groups to coordinate among themselves and refrain from any violent actions in response to Israel’s continued closure of Gaza and military operations in the West Bank. In a press statement, Al-Khudari noted that the persistence of occasional minor violations shortly after a truce enters into the effect is normal, since ensuring implementation by all sides can take time. He said that "the repeated Israeli closure of the crossings is unjustified, and considering the launch of one or two homemade rockets as major violations is illogical.

An-Nasser and Al-Mujahidin Brigades meet to discuss ceasefire and coordination
Ma’an News Agency 6/27/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A delegation from the An-Nasser Salah Addin Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, held a meeting in the Gaza Strip on Thursday with leaders of the Al-Mujahidin Brigades, a military group affiliated with Fatah, to discuss the situation in Gaza and the truce agreement. The meeting came in the context of bilateral meetings and consultations undertaken by the An-Nasser Brigades to deepen the relationship between the different Palestinian resistance factions. The two sides agreed that the mechanism for responding to any Israeli violation of the ceasefire should be approved by all the resistance factions committed to the ceasefire. They affirmed that the Palestinian resistance factions are committed to the truce agreement as long as Israel abides by all its articles. The An-Nasser Brigades asserted that the ceasefire and the calmer situation. . .

Nahal Oz fuel terminal to open in limited capacity
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 6/26/2008
Following rocket attacks against Israel, most Gaza border crossings will remain closed on Friday. Nahal Oz terminal will be operational at limited capacity to transfer fuel to Strip - Two days after Israel closed the border crossings to the Gaza Strip following Palestinian violations of the ceasefire, the Nahal Oz fuel terminal will be reopened on Friday and fuel will be transferred in a limited capacity. However, as part of Israel’s response to the rocket fire, the remaining border crossings that were meant to be open for several hours on Friday will remain closed. Nahal Oz will transfer the amount of fuel specified by the High Court of Justice. In meetings held by the defense establishment and headed by Defense Minister Ehud Barak and his deputy, Matan Vilnai, it was decided that despite the Qassam rocket attack against Israel on Thursday afternoon, Israel would not change its policy on the crossings.

Multi-party Palestinian crisis unit to monitor truce
Ma’an News Agency 6/26/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - Palestinian Foreign Minister Sa’id Siyam of the Hamas-run de facto government in the Gaza Strip announced Wednesday the decision to form a crisis unit made up of several factions in order to monitor the truce, and record Israeli breaches. Siyam’s speech came after a meeting with the leftist parties: the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP),and the Palestine Peoples’ Party (PPP). A Hamas delegation was present to consulate on the suggested role of the crisis unit. Parties agreed on the need to commit to the truce that was negotiated in Cairo. This is a chance, Siyam added, to preserve Israel’s commitment, to give a chance for the truce and foremost, to preserve the Palestinians’ interests and end the blockade. The very fact of the dialogue between parties, Siyam pointed out, can be seen as laying grounds for a national dialogue.

Islamic Jihad refutes Israeli claim regarding crossings closure
Palestine News Network 6/26/2008
Gaza / PNN -- Daoud Shihab of Islamic Jihad pointed out the Israeli forces have held the Gaza Strip crossings closed since last week. It is not a new development due to recent projectile launches as the Israelis claimed on Thursday. Shihab said in a television interview today that the armed resistance launched projectiles at Israeli targets in response to breaches by the occupation forces in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. He pointed out, "As the declaration of the ’calm’ stipulates that the people will respond to breaches and the Israeli violation occurred before our response, we are not in violation. " Israeli forces shot a farmer in the Gaza Strip on Monday and then again on Wednesday, in addition to the West Bank assassinations. Shihab said that Islamic Jihad has made its position clear on uniting the resistance and not separating the issues of the West Bank from the Gaza Strip.

Siyam: A crisis management committee will be formed to follow up the truce file
Palestinian Information Center 6/26/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Sa’eed Siyam, the interior minister, stated Wednesday that it was agreed with representatives of the Palestinian factions on forming a crisis management committee to follow up the truce file and to monitor any violations, pointing that the truce must be given a chance to lift the siege and preserve the interests of the Palestinian people. Following a meeting held by the government and the Hamas Movement with representatives of the popular and democratic fronts, Siyam told a press conference that they discussed the developments in the Palestinian arena and the need for the commitment of all factions to what was agreed upon in Cairo talks. Regarding the national dialog, the interior minister underlined that there are parties who did not want the dialog to start, adding that the constitutional government in Gaza is resistance-oriented and will never act as police guarding the Israeli occupation.

The Islamic Jihad: Israel never opened the borders in or out of Gaza
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/26/2008
Dawoud Shihab, a leader in the Islamic Jihad movement in Gaza, told media on Thursday that Israel did not open the borders last week. The official said Israel did not close the border crossing leading in or out of the Gaza strip because the Islamic Jihad fired home made shells at nearby Israeli areas " they never opened them at all to begin with. " He added that the firing of the home made shells on Wednesday at the Israeli town of Sederot, located near Gaza, was a response to the Israeli attacks targeting the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. On Tuesday the Israeli army killed two Palestinians in Nablus one of whom is a member of the Islamic Jihad, in addition on Wednesday Israeli troops shot and injured a Palestinian farmer near the northern Gaza-Israeli borders. The Islamic Jihad fired two home made shells on Wednesday at Israeli areas near the Gaza Strip in response.

Palestinian PM calls for Gaza crossings to reopen
Middle East Online 6/26/2008
PRAGUE - Palestinian authority prime minister Salam Fayyad Thursday called on Israel to reopen border crossing with the Gaza Strip which were shut after rocket attacks tested a fragile truce between the Jewish state and Hamas. "We have 1. 5 million of our people with a sense of not having much to lose. That situation must end," Fayyad told a news conference in Prague with Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. Islamic Jihad claiming responsibility for three rockets fired at southern Israel on Tuesday which led to Israel shutting down border crossings with the Gaza Strip a day later. Fayyad demanded that Israel to respect past peace undertakings, in particular a pledge to halt new Jewish settlements. "Israel should fully comply with the undertakings and obligations of the roadmap including especially the requirement of a freeze of settlement activity," he said.

Fayyad: Israel must open Gaza crossings
News agencies, YNetNews 6/26/2008
Palestinian prime minister calls for reopening of Gaza border crossings shut after rockets hit Israel despite ceasefire - Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad Thursday called on Israel to reopen border crossing with the Gaza Strip which were shut after Palestinian rocket attacks violated the shaky truce with Hamas. "We have 1. 5 million of our people with a sense of not having much to lose. That situation must end," Fayyad told a news conference in Prague with Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for three rockets fired into southern Israel on Tuesday, which led to Israel shutting down border crossings with the Gaza Strip a day later. But on Thursday afternoon another Qassam rocket was fired, hitting Sderot’s industrial zone. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

Livni: Military must respond to every Qassam
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 6/26/2008
Foreign minister issues harsh response to Palestinian violation of ceasefire with rocket fired at Sderot: ’I don’t care who fired. There must be an immediate military response to every violation’ -Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni addressed the launching of a Qassam rocket from Gaza towards Sderot on Thursday with sharp, stinging rhetoric aimed at differentiating herself from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. "I don’t care who fired. There must be an immediate military response to every violation," said Livni upon the commencement of her meeting with Norwegian Jonas Gahr Støre. "I have made my position clear to both the prime minister and the minister of defense after the first infringement. And I intend to make this clear to my foreign counterparts as well," said Livni.

Barak: Only deterrent military power will bring peace
Yonat Atlas, YNetNews 6/26/2008
’He who seeks peace, should prepare for war,’ says defense minister at Air Force graduation ceremony. President Peres: Israel must do everything to bring captives home - "We seek peace with every fiber of our being and detest war, but we are sober, and we know that he who seeks peace should prepare for war," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Thursday evening at the Air Force flight school graduation ceremony at the Hazerim air base. "Only deterrent military strength and superior excellence lead to a swift victory, and they are what will lead to peace. And when achieved, it will be stable and long-lasting," he said. Barak also addressed Israel’s kidnapped soldiers. "On this day we remember the captives and await the moment when we will learn their fates and see them come home," he said.

DFLP: Continued border closure is clear Israeli ceasefire violation
Ma’an News Agency 6/26/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) announced on Thursday that they consider the continued closure of the Gaza border crossings a clear violation of the Egyptian-brokered truce between the Hamas movement and Israel. In a press statement, the DFLP warned that Israel will exploit the ceasefire agreement in the Gaza Strip to continue its attacks and settlement expansion in the West Bank. The DFLP called on the Egyptian authorities to exert their utmost efforts towards reopening the border crossings, particularly the Rafah crossing, to allow goods and basic necessities into the Gaza Strip. [end]

Israel asks Hamas to increase number of Gazan prisoners in exchange deal
Ma’an News Agency 6/26/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an –Ofer Dekel, the official charged by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with the issue ofkidnapped soldiers, will head to Cairo Thursdayto hold talks with Chief of the Egyptian Intelligence Services, General Omar Suleiman. Arrangements for contact with Hamas will be made in Cairo so that parties can arrange the exchange of detainees, particularly the release Gilad Shalit the Israeli soldier being held in the Gaza Strip. In the coming days a series of individual meetings between Israeli and Hamas representatives brokered by Egyptian officials are expected to take place. Reliable Egyptian sources told the British newspaper Al-Hayat that Dekel’s talks with Suleiman will address Israel’s reservations about releasing prisoners who have been jailed for violent acts. The same sources said that of the one thousand name list that Egypt handed Israel, 75% of them would not be released.

Hamas: captors of Shalit won’t compromise swap conditions
Palestinian Information Center 6/26/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas Movement has asserted on Wednesday that the Palestinian resistance factions capturing IOF corporal Gilad Shalit were still firm on their conditions to swap him with Palestinian captives, including women and children in Israeli jails. "I said to the Israeli occupation government that stubbornness in this issue won’t help them, and rather it would lead to a big loss for the occupation", asserted Abu Obaida, the spokesman of Hamas’s armed wing the Qassam Brigades in Gaza city, in a press statement on Wednesday. Abu Obadia also underlined that the "ball was in the Israeli court", adding that if the Israeli occupation government was indeed interested in achieving the swap deal, then it has to meet the captors’ "human conditions". "If they [Israelis] rejected those conditions, then they won’t see Shalit because our 11000 prisoners in Israeli jails were more important. . .

Latest Round of Talks Over Shalit to Begin
Samuel Digel, International Middle East Media Center News 6/26/2008
The negotiations over a proposed prisoner swap deal between Hamas and Israel are heating up as Israeli officials presented Egyptian mediators with their latest offer in order to obtain the return of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Israeli unwillingness to free all of the prisoners that Hamas asked for has lead to a sticking point in the negotiations. Of the roughly 350 people on the list, Israel has only shown desire to free 70 of them, said Hamas official Osama al-Mazeini. The new Israeli proposal to free resistance fighters who have killed Israelis only to foreign countries was flatly rejected by the Egyptians, as talks haltered due to Israeli reticence to fully comply and Hamas’ unwillingness to amend its list. This latest proposal came in advance of the planned indirect negotiations set to take place next week in Egypt.

PFLP: Hamas studying list of Fatah prisoners slated for release
Ma’an News Agency 6/26/2008
Gaza - Ma’an- The Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said on Thursday that they handed over to Hamas the list of Fatah detainees held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The PFLP met with a Hamas delegation on Wednesday in the presence of the de facto foreign minister Sa’id Siyam and promised to study the suggested list of names. The PFLP, along with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and the Palestine Peoples’ Party (PPP), are trying to broker a deal between Hamas and Fatah to release a number of political prisoners held in the West Bank and Gaza. A list of 54 Hamas affiliated detainees, held by Fatah in the West Bank and a list of 46 Fatah affiliated prisoners held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, have been handed to those brokering the deal after separate meetings with both Hamas and Fatah.

Pressure valve
Mona El-Nahhas, Al-Ahram Weekly 6/26/2008
Will the public succeed in forcing the government to stop the export of natural gas to Israel? Members of the Popular Campaign for Stopping the Export of Egyptian Natural Gas to Israel on Tuesday went to court to sue President Hosni Mubarak, Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and Petroleum Minister Sameh Fahmi for issuing a decree which allows gas exports to Israel. In the lawsuit, lawyer and international arbiter Ibrahim Yosri, who represented the claimants, demanded that the decree be abolished, claiming it violated the constitution and the Joint Defence Arab Agreement which Egypt is a signatory to. Following the first hearing, campaigners staged a sit-in in front of the Administrative Court pressing for abolishing the sale deal. Dozens of political figures and writers took part in the protest held amid heavy security. From the early hours of the morning, armoured vehicles were stationed at the entrance of the court building. Police cordoned off all the streets leading to the court.

Foreign Ministry head briefed IAEA envoys in secret
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
Foreign Ministry Director General Aaron Abramovich secretly visited the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna Wednesday and briefed a group of ambassadors from countries involved in the agency’s efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear project. Abramovich emphasized that the IAEA must act more quickly and efficiently to block Iranian nuclear ambitions. The unusual visit was the first senior Israeli briefing of IAEA member ambassadors in several years. The IAEA is considered relatively hostile to Israel, a tool in Arab world attacks on Israel for rebuffing efforts to monitor the Dimona nuclear reactor. Abramovich presented Israel’s concerns about a continued nuclear program in Tehran. He noted that Iran continues to enrich uranium undisturbed and that Israel believes it is developing a secret military nuclear program.

Syrian VP: Next step may be direct talks with Israel
Ynet, YNetNews 6/26/2008
Farouk al-Sharaa tells Al-Jazeera ’current negotiations exploratory, meant to prepare sides for direct talks’, but qualifies this by saying talks could also remain indirect - Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa said in an interview with Al-Jazeera television that the next step in negotiations with Israel could be face-to-face meetings. "The negotiations currently taking place between Syria and Israel are exploratory negotiations, meant to prepare the sides for the possibility of moving on to direct talks," he said. He then qualified this statement by saying that the talks could proceed indirectly as well. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al Mualem said recently that Israel and Syria are preparing for another round of talks through Turkish mediation next month. He described the negotiations that have taken place so far as "successful.

IAEA: Syrian nuclear probe off to ’good start’
Middle East Online 6/26/2008
VIENNA - The UN nuclear watchdog’s probe into an alleged covert nuclear facility in the Syrian desert has gotten off to "a good start," a top official said on Wednesday. "It was a good start, but there’s still work that remains to be done," Olli Heinonen, deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told reporters on returning from a three-day trip to Syria. "For this trip we did what we agreed to. We achieved what we wanted on this first trip. We took samples which we wanted to take. Now it’s time to analyse them," Heinonen said after getting off a flight from Damascus to Vienna. Asked whether he expected to return to Syria in the near future for follow-up investigations, the IAEA’s number two said: "It’s too early to say. The work will continue. We’ll see in days and weeks to come what happens next.

Bolton: Israel to Attack Iran After US Elections
Gulf News, MIFTAH 6/26/2008
John Bolton, the former American ambassador to the United Nations, has predicted that Israel could attack Iran after the US presidential election in November, but before George W. Bush’s successor was sworn in. The Arab world would be "pleased" by Israeli strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities, he said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph. " It [the reaction] will be positive privately. I think there’ll be public denunciations but no action," he said. Israel had a determination to prevent a nuclear Iran, he said. The "optimal window" for strikes would be between the November 4 election and the inauguration on January 20, 2009. " The Israelis have one eye on the calendar because of the pace at which the Iranians are proceeding, both to develop their nuclear weapons capability and to do things like increasing their defences by buying new Russian anti-aircraft systems and further harden the nuclear installations.

Hizbullah, Israel reach deal on prisoner swap - Israeli daily
Daily Star 6/27/2008
Hizbullah and Israel have prepared a written agreement on a prisoner exchange that the cabinet of the Jewish state will deliberate on Sunday and possible approve, Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Thursday. If approved, Israel will sign the deal that will then be taken to Beirut by the German mediators for Hizbullah’s signature, the Israeli daily said. The deal with Hizbullah aims to secure the release of two Israeli soldiers who were captured in a cross-border raid by the Lebanese resistance in July 2006. Israel responded to that border incident by launching a 34-day war on Lebanon. The Israeli cabinet is expected to meet Sunday to hear a briefing and deliberate over the prisoner exchange deal Israel reached with Hizbullah through German mediation. Ofer Dekel, the official charged with the negotiations on all the prisoners, will brief the ministers and respond to their questions.

Cabinet to discuss POW deal on Sunday
Amos Harel Barak Ravid Avi Issacharoff and Yuval Azoulay and, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
The cabinet will meet Sunday to debate the prisoner exchange deal with Hezbollah, aimed at securing the release of two kidnapped Israeli reservists in exchange for five Lebanese prisoners, including murderer Samir Kuntar. Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were captured in a cross-border raid by Hezbollah guerrillas in July 2006, sparking the Second Lebanon War. This is the first time that the cabinet is meeting to discuss the matter, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has not made his position on the deal clear yet. However, two months ago Olmert promised the abducted soldiers’ families that he would act to approve this deal in the cabinet. Ofer Regev, Eldad Regev’s brother, told Haaretz that at a meeting in Olmert’s bureau on April 28, the prime minister told the family that Israel was drafting a deal with Hezbollah.

Sarkozy Moves to Boost Palestinian Economy
Khaled Abu Toameh, MIFTAH 6/26/2008
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed an agreement on Tuesday to establish an industrial zone in the Bethlehem area to boost the Palestinian economy. The agreement was signed during Sarkozy’s visit to Bethlehem, where he met with Abbas and other PA leaders. Abbas thanked Sarkozy for agreeing to fund the $21 million project, which is expected to provide thousands of jobs. Abbas also called on the European Union to play a more active role in solving the Israeli-Arab conflict. The industrial zone will be built on a 530-dunam plot, PA officials said, expressing hope that the work would begin in the next few weeks. After the meeting with Abbas, Sarkozy and his entourage visited the Church of the Nativity. Abbas, speaking at a press conference in the city, hailed the French president as a "true and brave" friend. He added that the Palestinians were relying on the EU for financial aid.

Erekat: Six months to peace deal
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 6/27/2008
Top negotiator for Palestinian Authority says solutions at hand for all core issues, now is time for decision-making. Speaking at conference organized by Peres Center for Peace, Erekat says ’Israeli and Palestinian leaders who reach an agreement will be more important to region’s history than Jesus’ - "If we want a peace agreement - there are only six months left. This is the time to make decisions," Saeb Erekat said on Thursday evening. Speaking at a conference organized by the ’Peres Center for Peace’ at Tel Aviv University, the top negotiator for the Palestinian Authority was joined for a discussion on the recent renewal of Israeli negotiations with Syria by MK Yossi Beilin (Meretz) and former director-general of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Dr. Alon Liel. "Our goal is to reach an agreement.

Erekat: If Olmert, Abbas achieve peace, they’ll be biggest people in Jerusalem since Jesus
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
The peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians is within reach and this is the time for tough decisions, said top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat on Thursday. In a conference held at Tel Aviv University on the Israel-Syria peace negotiations and their influence on the Palestinians, Erekat said that if Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas succeed in striking a peace deal, they would be "the most important people in Jerusalem since Jesus walked in it. " At the conference, hosted by the Peres Center for Peace and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, was attended by the head of the Israel-Syria peace movement Alon Liel and former Meretz Chairman Yossi Beilin. Erekat told the conference that only six months remain to hammer out the peace accord.

Plans underway for November Mideast peace summit in Moscow
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
The Quartet of Middle East peacemakers decided this week pursue the organization of a regional conference in Moscow in November. The Quartet - comprised of Russia, the United States, the UN and the European Union - reached the decision at aconference in Berlin on Tuesday meant to raise money for the Palestinian Authority. A Jerusalem source said Wednesday that the conference is to provide the stage either for the signing of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement or, in a much more likely scenario, a joint statement on the course of negotiations planned for 2009. Saeb Erekat, a senior member of the Palestinian negotiating team, said on Wednesday that U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice invited representatives from the Palestinian Authority and Israel to Washington in July in order to speed up the talks between the sides.

Palestinian medical website launched to reinvigorate Arab science
Ma’an News Agency 6/26/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Lecturer at the College of Human Medicine at An-Najah National University in Nablus and a member of the Medical Palestinian Association Dr. Abdel-Rahman Aqra’ announced on Thursday the launch of Al-Zahrawy, an internet forum for the medical community. The site aims to spread the message of health education and instruction in clear scientific language, and to provide an opportunity for students of medical science to make contacts among students and faculty in other Arab countries. The site’s larger aim is to revive the Arab scientific heritage by shedding light on its history, and making a clear path towards excellence. One feature of the forum is as a coordination center for the Students of Medicine union headed by Dr. Al-Aqra’. The site plays host to several discussion boards including:public health, women and children’s health, sexual health,. . .

A day in the life of
Guy Griml, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
"I’m very proud of this Palestinian-Israeli cooperation. A project of this kind contributes to the Palestinian economy," says Rami Abdulhadi, 32, director of marketing communications at G. ho. st. Abdulhadi, who lives in Ramallah, is one of the company’s 35 Palestinian employees. "I’m in charge of everything that has to do with marketing the G. ho. st Web site and contact with the media," he says. Before moving to G. ho. st, Abdulhadi worked for four years for a joint project of the European Union, the Spanish government and the Arab League in Spain. He has a bachelor’s in business and marketing from Bethlehem University and a master’s degree in international cooperation from Granada University in Spain. "G. ho. st’s motto ’no walls’ has two meanings," he says. "One is technological, ’no walls’ in the sense that you can take your desktop anywhere; and the second is that ghosts go through walls and G.

VIDEO - Despite logistical difficulties, Israeli-Palestinian start-up takes off
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for June 25, 2008. An Israeli-Palestinian start-up meant to break down barriers to global communication has a few logistical walls of its own to contend with. Though the video conference has long connected colleagues from around the world, it’s less often needed to hold staff meetings with employees on the other side of the hill. But such is the Israeli-Palestinian reality, and the management of G. HO. ST, a new Internet startup, has no choice but to communicate through plasma screens with its staff in Ramallah. [end]

’Receiving medical care is not a threat to the country’
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
Rania Jerboa, a mother of three from the Arab-Israeli community of Ein Rafa near Abu Ghosh, lives in constant fear that she will be expelled back to her native city of Bethlehem. Jerboa married when she was 14, and because of her age she could not be issued an ID card. Several years later she was issued an ID card as a resident of Bethlehem, although her husband is an Israeli citizen born in Jaffa. In 2002 the Citizenship Law went into effect, preventing Palestinians who married Israelis from obtaining Israeli citizenship. So every year she renews her Israeli residency permit. Jerboa’s situation is no different from that of tens of thousands of Palestinians, both men and women, who have married Israeli citizens. What is unique about her is her medical condition: When she was pregnant with her youngest daughter (today 18 months old), Jerboa suffered from a serious liver infection, and her gallbladder had to be removed.

Palestinian National Council invited to meet in Amman
Ma’an News Agency 6/26/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – from Al-Ghad - The Palestinian National Council (PNC) has been invited to meet in Amman on Thursday to elect four new representatives to the eighteen seat Executive Committee, replacing members now deceased. The director general of the committee Abdul Ra’ouf Al ’Elmi said that there was an official request sent to the National Council inviting them to attended the meeting where they will have the opportunity to fill the empty seats of the Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). There is still controversy surrounding the precise mechanism by which to organize the National Council, Al ’Elmi said. Arguments around the issue peaked during a meeting of the Executive Committee of the PLO in Ramallah last month. For now, however, the Committee plans to resolve the conflict by ensuring that proceedings are conducted according to their earlier legal mandate.

Hamas denies division within its armed wing
Palestinian Information Center 6/26/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement has categorically denied Hebrew press reports claiming that divisions existed in lines of its armed wing the Qassam Brigades. Dr. Ismail Radwan, one of the Hamas leaders in Gaza, said that the "Zionist enemy" wants to smear the image of "this strong, united Movement" through spreading such rumors, "which are totally baseless". Radwan, commenting on Hebrew daily Ha’aretz’s report in this regard, said that Hamas had proven its unity in all positions taken. In a press release, the Hamas leader said that the Hebrew media target Hamas because it is leading the Palestinian resistance. On the prisoners’ swap issue, Radwan said that Hamas was ready for dialogue over the issue with the Egyptian mediator but the problem is with the "Zionist enemy which continues to delay (the case)".

Khudari: Gaza people invented new ways of fortitude against the Israeli siege
Palestinian Information Center 6/26/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular committee against the siege, stated the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip invented new means of steadfastness to confront the bitter reality they are living in and to defeat those who bet on the siege to break their fortitude, adding the Palestinian people will triumph because of the justice of their cause. In a press statement, MP Khudari underlined that Israel’s unjust siege damaged all aspects of life in Gaza and destroyed the national economy and all service sectors. Meanwhile, during a picket organized within the events of the "steadfast despite the siege" camp established by Hamas in Gaza, 170 Palestinian children appealed to the Arab world and the international community to grant them the right to live like the other children in the world, to lift the siege and to get prisoners released from Israeli jails.

Once again the settlers attack ’Asira al Qibliya
International Womens’ Peace Service 6/21/2008
Date of incident: 19th June 2008 - Place: ’Asira al Qibliya, Nablus district - Witness/es: Villagers - Description of incident: In the late morning of Thursday, 19th June 2008, IWPS received information that the village of ’Asira al Qibliya, district of Nablus, had been under yet another attack by settlers from the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Yizhar, who had also set up fires in the olive groves and pastures belonging to the village. According to the villagers, approximately 10 Israeli settlers arrived on the top of the hill and started throwing stones on two houses on the eastern border of the village. While attacking the houses they came down the hill, drew two Stars of David on the wall around one of the houses and set up a fire under a fig tree just outside of the wall. Another fire was set up on the slope bordering the second house under the attack.

Israeli settlers destroy farm near Beitillu
Ma’an News Agency 6/26/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an – Settlers ransacked seven dunums (seven square kilometers) of land planted with tomatoes and beans in Wadi Az-Zarqa’ib, near the village of Beitillu on Sunday night. The perpetrators are thought to be from the Hallamish settlement, built on the lands of An-Nabi Saleh. The land was looted while its owner, Abu Ziyadea was away. The greenhouses and the farm storehouse were burned down, along with all the farm equipment and fertilizers. The irrigation system and the water pumps were destroyed, and most of the harvest is unsalvageable, including permanent damage to the original olive trees on the property. Since the harvest was destroyed during the fertile season, agricultural experts have estimated losses at approximately $50,000. This is not the first time Abu Ziyadeh has had problems with the nearby settlement.

Thousands of olive trees and 20 dunums of wheat fields destroyed in the fires set by Israeli settlers
International Womens’ Peace Service 6/20/2008
Date of incident: 19th June 2008 - Time: between 7 a. m. and 4 p. m. - Place: Burin, Nablus district - Witness/es: Villagers, IWPS volunteers - Description of Incident: In the late morning of Thursday, 19th June 2008, IWPS received information that since 7 a. m. the village of Burin, district of Nablus, has been under attacks by settlers from the nearby illegal Israeli settlements, who had also set up fire to the olive grooves and the wheat fields. While approaching Burin, the IWPS volunteers noticed dark smoke and several fires burning on the slopes of the hills. According to the villagers, approximately 250 Israeli settlers on board coaches arrived on the junction of the so called settler road number 60 in front of the village. The villagers also accounted that many of the settlers had not arrived from the settlement of Yizhar, but from other settlements in the West Bank.

Settlers suspected of injuring policeman
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 6/26/2008
Two people detained on suspicion of assaulting police officer in Binyamin region during illegal protest against arrest of other settlers - Two settlers were arrested Thursday after allegedly assaulting and injuring a policeman at the Binyamin region police station on Wednesday night. The attack took place during a protest against the arrest of two settlers suspected of rioting. Two residents of the settlement of Adei-Ad were detained for questioning on Wednesday following riots in the Emek Shilo area. During their interrogation, some 15 youngsters and relatives of the detainees arrived at the police station. According to the police, the crowd began setting fire to dumpsters and blocking the entrance into the station with tables and chairs. Police officials explained to the protestors that their demonstration was illegal and asked them to evacuate the area.

Israeli hackers penetrate Hamas website
Erez Ronen, YNetNews 6/26/2008
Fanat al-Radical hacking group successfully breaks into sites of Izz al-Din al-Qassam, leftist movements; previous information replaced with words of Israeli national anthem - Israeli hackers boasted Thursday about breaking into the website of Izz al-Din al-Qassam, Hamas’ military wing, which now displays a white screen and words in Arabic announcing technical difficulties. The hacker group, which calls itself Fanat al-Radical (the fanatical radicals), also said that it broke into additional terror organizations’ sites and those of various leftist movements. In a Ynet interview, a group representative who refused to reveal his name said, "We searched for relevant sites with the criteria we look for, whether leftist or anti-Zionist, and looked for loopholes. Our emphasis was always on the al-Qassam site.

Israeli hackers hack several ''pro-Palestinian'' websites
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/26/2008
Israeli hackers of the Kahana Hai Israeli terrorist group managed on Thursday morning to hack the Arabs48 news website, and the Machsom website which presents an alternative view to the Jewish readers, and uploaded statements of incitement against the Palestinians and Arabs. The hackers also hacked the websites of Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, Al Balad political party in Israel, that of the Hagada Hasmalit (the left bank), the Kibush (occupation) and several other websites. The hackers first uploaded the Israeli national anthem on the sites, and placed the emblem of the terrorist Kach movement which was formed by Meer Kahane, in addition to placing the emblem of Kahana Hai movement which is considered as a successor to Kach movement. The hackers wrote in English: "You are murderers, who put in danger the entire world’" and "You kill without a reason, abduct Israeli. . .

Rightist hackers place Israeli flag, Kach images on pro-Palestinian Web sites
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
Rightists on Thursday hacked into three Web sites associated with the Israeli Arab and Palestinan causes, and embedded on their pages an image of the Israeli flag, the words to the Israeli national anthem and the symbol of an outlawed ultra-rightist movement. The perpetrators hacked into the Web site of the Israeli Arab Balad party; Arabs48. com, an Arabic-language site; and Mahsom. com, which is written in Hebrew. Both site represent the Israeli Arab and Palestinian cause. In addition to the flag and the words of "Hatikva," the hackers embedded the symbol of the Kach movement, an ultra-rightist organization founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane that was banned from the Knesset in 1988 and later deemed a terrorist organization by Israel. The symbol appeared with the words "Kahane was right.

Umm Kulthoum, the fourth pyramid
David Tresilian, Al-Ahram Weekly 6/26/2008
A new exhibition on the life of Umm Kulthoum is bringing the Egyptian singer’s work to new audiences, writes in Paris Click to view caption Clockwise from left: Egypt’s Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni and Dominique Baudis (L), President of the Institut du monde arabe posing next to a portrait of Umm Kulthoum by Egyptian painter Adel El-Siwi at the opening of the Paris exhibition last Monday; Umm Kulthoum at the Pyramids plateau, photo by Antoune Albert; Star of the East, Umm Kalthoum, portrait by Egyptian artist Chant Avedissian; Umm Kalthoum in 1945 (Georges Mikaelian collection)INSTALLED IN A TEMPORARY BUILDING usually set aside as a performance space or to host visiting trade shows, the Institut du monde arabe’s current exhibition on the life of Umm Kulthoum is an opportunity for those already familiar with the Egyptian singer’s career to renew their acquaintance with the work of

Palestine Today 062608
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/26/2008
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 Thursday June 26th, 2008. A Palestinian patient died in Gaza due to the Israeli siege while the army kidnapped seven civilians from the West Bank. These stories, and more, coming up, stay tuned. News Cast As Israel continues to close the borders leading in or out of Gaza a Palestinian resistance group fired several Qassam home made shells at the Israeli town of Sderot on Thursday afternoon. Israeli sources said that the shells landed in open areas causing no damage or injuries. Al Qudes brigades the armed wing of the Fatah party headed by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas clamed responsibility for the attack and demanded that Israel should include the West Bank in the truce deal reached last week.

Gaza truce strained by rocket fire, closure
Reuters Foundation, ReliefWeb 6/26/2008
(Recasts with rocket fire) By Nidal al-Mughrabi GAZA, June 26 (Reuters) -Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired a makeshift rocket into southern Israel on Thursday, further straining a week-old truce as Israel kept border crossings into the Hamas-ruled territory closed. Both sides traded blame for violations of the ceasefire Egypt brokered in hopes of furthering U. S. -backed peace talks that have shown little sign of progress. No casualties were reported in the rocket attack, which was claimed by al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group belonging to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction. The latest strike followed salvoes on Tuesday launched by Islamic Jihad in response to an Israeli army raid that killed one of the group’s commanders in the occupied West Bank. Israel said the raid was aimed at foiling attacks on its citizens.

Al-Quds brigades: Israel breached the truce 15 times in first week
Ma’an News Agency 6/26/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – Israel has breached the week-old truce in the Gaza Strip 15 times, according to the media department of Islamic Jihad’s military wing the Al-Quds brigades. Statistics documented showed the alleged breaches from 19-16 June 2008 as follows:Thursday 19 June at 6 am - four missiles were launched by Israeli battleships at Palestinian fishing boats. Thursday 19 June at 8. 30 am - Israeli forces fired at farmers east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. Thursday 19 June at 12pm - Israeli F16 warplanes flew over the Gaza Strip. A loud explosion was heard causing panic and fear. Friday 20 June from 1 - 2. 30am - Israeli forces shot at fishermen off the Gaza coast. Saturday 21 June - intensive reconnaissance flights over the Gaza Strip, especially in the western and eastern areas.

Qassam hits western Negev
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 6/26/2008
Two days after first rocket attack since truce agreement, another Qassam fired from Gaza into Sderot. No injuries or damage reported; Fatah’s military wing claims responsibility. Hamas spokesman says Israel’s refusal to reopen crossings constitutes violation of ceasefire - Another ceasefire violation: A Qassam rocket was fired Thursday afternoon from the Gaza Strip into Israel, exploding in an open area in Sderot’s industrial zone. There were no reports of injuries or damage. The al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Fatah’s military wing, took responsibility for firing the rocket. Sources in the Gaza Strip believe that the firing was meant to embarrass Hamas and to harm the ceasefire efforts. On Tuesday, Palestinians launched

Israel to keep Gaza crossings shut Friday, allow fuel transfer
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
At a high-level security meeting late Thursday, Israel decided to keep the border crossings into the Gaza Strip closed on Friday because of the latest rocket attack defense officials said. A limited amount of fuel will be transferred, they said. Earlier Thursday, two Qassam rocketswere fired from the Strip into Israel. The militant Fatah offshoot Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility for the attack and demanded that the cease fire agreement between Israel and Hamas, which currently includes only the Gaza Strip, be extended to include the West Bank as well. Since the cease fire went into effect last Thursday, instead of retaliating for rocket attacks with airstrikes at Palestinian rocket squads, Israel closed the border crossings, where vital supplies are shipped into Gaza - restoring a blockade that has caused severe shortages.

’If Hamas wanted, fire would cease’
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 6/27/2008
Jerusalem officials take Hamas condemnation of Qassam fire at Sderot with grain of salt, but decide not to retaliate for now; ’Hamas has previously proven it controls Gaza’, official says. Nahal Oz terminal to open at minimum capacity on Friday - Despite the Qassam rocket fire at Sderot and the harsh announcement made by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, according to which an immediate military response must follow any infringement of the ceasefire agreement in Gaza, Israel will refrain from retaliating against the rocket fire, which IDF sources say was not perpetrated byHamas, but rather other Palestinian factions. Patriot GamesHamas slams Qassam attacks as ’unpatriotic’ / Ali Waked Islamic group outraged over repeated Qassam attacks against Israel by other armed groups which threaten shaky ceasefire.

Olmert scrapes through as ceasefire threatened
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 6/26/2008
Israel closed its border crossings into Gaza yesterday as doubts grew about a week-old ceasefire agreed with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. Israeli military officials said the closure was a response to the firing on Tuesday of four rockets from Gaza into southern Israel, which slightly injured two people. The rockets were fired by the militant group Islamic Jihad, which said it was acting in response to the killing of one of its commanders in the occupied West Bank earlier that day. "Any reopening will be in accordance with security considerations," Peter Lerner, an Israeli military liaison official, said. The closure of the border yesterday prevented the delivery of fuel to Gaza’s one power station. The industrial diesel for the plant is paid for by the EU. Under the terms of the ceasefire, Israel and Palestinian militant groups were supposed to halt violence in the Gaza Strip and Israel was to ease its economic blockade of the territory.

Hamas Says it Will Not Police the Cease-Fire with Israel
The Associated Press, MIFTAH 6/26/2008
The Hamas militant group said it remains committed to a cease-fire with Israel, but will not act as Israel’s police force" in confronting militants who breech the truce. The comments by Hamas leader Khalil al-Haya came shortly after Gaza militants fired three rockets into southern Israel Tuesday, lightly wounding two Israelis. It was the first attack since the truce took effect last Thursday. Israel responded by closing Gaza’s border crossings, which are used to deliver food and basic supplies into the area. Hamas said it was exerting pressure on Islamic Jihad, which claimed responsibility for the attack, to stop the rocket fire and demanded that Israel open the crossings. But al-Haya said its forces would not confront rocket launching squads on the ground. Even if there is a violation by some factions, Hamas emphasizes its commitment to the calm and is working to implement the calm," al-Haya said.

Hope Thrives Amid Israeli-Palestinian Violence
Mel Frykberg, MIFTAH 6/26/2008
"Islamic Jihad has just fired several rockets into Israel," the U. N. World Health Organization representative told the Middle East Times at the Gaza-Israel border crossing as a convoy of U. N. vehicles and a delegation from the humanitarian organization Oxfam were waiting for Israeli security clearance to cross back into Israel yesterday. The tentative ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, which began at the end of last week, was already looking shaky with seasoned analysts questioning just how committed both sides were to ensuring its success. The rockets were fired by Islamic Jihad in response to Israel’s assassination of an Islamic Jihad leader in the West Bank, and a Hamas fighter who was working closely with the group, by Israeli soldiers the previous evening. The bullet-riddled bodies of 23-year-old senior Islamic Jihad commander Tariq Jumaa Abu Ghali, from the northern West Bank,

Hamas slams Qassam attacks as ’unpatriotic’
Ali Waked, YNetNews 6/26/2008
Islamic group outraged over repeated Qassam attacks against Israel by other armed groups which threaten shaky ceasefire. Hamas government spokesman accuses Fatah - who fired Thursday’s rocket - of attempting to sabotage calm, warns it may take measures to end infringements - Hamas is incensed over the Qassam rocket fired by Fatah’s military wing on Thursday, further threatening to topple an already volatile ceasefire with Israel. The al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades claimed responsibility for launching the rocket towards northern Israel in the early afternoon. The Qassam landed in Sderot’s industrial zone, causing no injuries or damage. Hamas has accused Fatah of trying to sabotage the truce, which has so far held firm despite rocket attacks by other armed groups earlier in the week. A spokesman for the Hamas government, Taher al-Nunu, went a step further and called Fatah’s actions "unpatriotic.

IOA retains closure of Gaza crossings
Palestinian Information Center 6/26/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) has decided to continue closing the commercial crossings of the Gaza Strip on Thursday contrary to Egyptian diplomatic sources’ affirmation that they would be reopened on Thursday. The Hebrew radio said that an evaluation session held by Israeli security apparatuses had resolved to continue closing the crossings, which were shut down since Wednesday. It added that another evaluation would be made to decide whether to open them on Friday and to agree on the amount of goods allowed into the Strip in the event it was reopened. An Egyptian diplomatic source told Ramattan news agency that the IOA would reopen the crossing on Thursday. The IOA had shut down those crossings after the Islamic Jihad Movement fired a couple of home made rockets on the Israeli settlement of Sderot in retaliation to the Israeli murder of its field commander in Nablus.

De facto government accuses Al-Aqsa Brigades of violating Gaza truce and threatens action
Ma’an News Agency 6/26/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The de facto government in Gaza warned all Palestinian groups against violating the ceasefire agreement on Thursday. It described those violating the ceasefire as outside the Palestinian national consensus and "pawnbrokers of the [Israeli] occupation," and added that it will take the necessary measures against them. The de facto government affirmed that the Egyptian-mediated ceasefire agreement is in the Palestinian national interest and was reached through national consensus, and that anyone who acts against this consensus will be held responsible before the people and the law. It called on the Egyptian authorities to intervene with those it described as trying to sabotage the truce agreement to further a partisan political agenda. Taher An-Nunu, spokesperson of the de facto government in Gaza, warned in a statement that "working for narrow partisan interests,. . .

Agha: Closure of crossings a message to Egypt
Palestinian Information Center 6/26/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Agriculture minister in the PA caretaker government Dr. Mohammed Al-Agha said on Thursday that the flagrant Israeli violation of the calm agreement through closing the Gaza crossings should serve as a message to Egypt that patronized the agreement. He said that the message clearly tells Egypt that there is no guarantee for retaining Gaza crossings open as long as they are under Israeli control, referring to the Israeli wish to retain control over the Rafah terminal border between Egypt and Gaza. Agha in a press release said that the Israeli violation of agreements is nothing new, pointing to the shooting at Palestinian farmers in Khan Younis and seriously wounding one of them despite the truce. Israeli soldiers and settlers daily attack farmers in the West Bank and burn their crops, especially the old olive trees, he said, referring to Tuesday’s destruction of 300. . .

Israel refuses to opened the borders, Palestinian resistance shells Sderot
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/26/2008
As Israel continues to close the borders leading in or out of Gaza Palestinian resistance group have fired several Qassam home made shells at the Israeli town of Sderot near Gaza on Thursday afternoon. Israeli sources said that the shells landed in open areas casuing no damage or injuries. Al Qudes brigades the armed wing of the Fatah party headed by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas clamed responciblity for the attack and demanded that Israel should include the West Bank in the truce deal reached last week. Last week The Egyptian-mediated truce between Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since June 2007, and Israel took effect. The ceasefire deal stipulates that Hamas will cease firing homemade shells into Israeli territory in exchange for Israel lifting the 12 month-blockade and ceasing all military attacks against the Gaza Strip.

Israeli threats stiffen Iran’s resolve
Kaveh L Afrasiabi, Asia Times 6/27/2008
Although it is manifestly clear that Israel runs major risks for minor gains by planning to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, the tendency of Israeli politicians and pundits to underestimate the risks and the likelihood of success is growing by leaps and bounds. Following the argument that Israel does not want to wait for a new administration in the United States, to paraphrase one of Israel’s voices in the US, CBS consultant Michael Oren, Israel’s increasingly bellicose attitude against Iran actually has the adverse effect: it sets barricades in the path of Iranian politicians who want to reach a compromise with the "Iran Six" over Tehran’s nuclear program. Tehran is considering a package of proposals presented by the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany over its uranium-enrichment activities. The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, received a positive

Training to attack Iran
Peter Hirschberg, Asia Times 6/27/2008
JERUSALEM - Israeli defense experts were not surprised by a New York Times report over the weekend that the Israeli air force had recently conducted what appeared to be a rehearsal for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Israel, the experts say, has never taken the military option off the table and they therefore expect the air force to be training for a strike in Iran. "It is logical that the army is training for an Iranian mission," says Efraim Inbar, head of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies near Tel Aviv. "We are preparing for it. The air force is in charge of this file. " Over 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighter jets, as well as helicopters and refueling tankers, took part in the exercise over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece in early June, according to the New York Times. Quoting unnamed US officials, the report said that the helicopters and tankers covered 1,400 kilometers,

French sources: Syria ready to ’reconsider’ its ties with Iran
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
Syria has signaled that it is ready to "reconsider" its relations with Iran, French officials told the a-Sharq al-Awset daily in a report published on Thursday. The officials said that Syria and Iran do not see eye to eye on a number of regional developments, something that is likely to cause a rift between the two countries. One of the main points of contention is the situation in Iraq. According to the French sources, Damascus opposes the idea of a Muslim Iraq standing under full Iranian influence. Also threatening the states’ relationship are the bubbling tensions in Lebanon. Syria does not feel that it is in its interest to get involved in the crisis there, now that it is buffing its ties with western states. It also does not want to strengthen the Lebanon-based Hezbollah militant group to a point in which it could stand on its own, the officials said.

In spite of German talk, trade with Iran growing
Assaf Uni, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
Trade between Germany and Iran is expanding despite Berlin’s declarations that it is curtailing its economic activity with the Islamic republic. Haaretz has calculated that in the first four months of the year, German exports to Iran increased by around 18 percent from the same period last year. If this trend continues, German exports to Iran could match the record of 2005-2006, when German companies sold Iran goods worth more than 4 billion euros. Germany, Iran’s biggest trade partner in the European Union, is under American and Israeli pressure to reduce its economic ties with Iran, after Tehran’s refusal to suspend uranium enrichment and its threats against Israel. This comes on top of sanctions discussed by the UN and EU. "Perhaps you have an economic interest," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the German people in a German television interview 18 months ago.

VIDEO - News / Syrian VP hints at readiness for direct talks with Israel
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 news roundup for June 26, 2008. Syria’s vice president hints his country is ready for direct talks with Israel. Qassam rocket fire continues to strike Israel, despite the truce. Kadima party members begin preparing for September’s primaries. Advertisement Related articles: Hamas: Qassam fire is harming Palestinian interests French sources: Syria ready to ’reconsider’ its ties with Iran Kadima sources: Olmert can’t afford not to run in primary Also on Haaretz. com TV: One little girl’s future is uncertain as her mother faces deportation Major role for private interests in star-studded President’s Conference Program places severely abused, hungry horses with adoptive families For more video news and features, visit Haaretz. com TV

All quiet on Nasrallah’s front
Zvi Bar''el, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
"We are committed to the Palestinians’ problem," Nawaf al-Mussawi, Hezbollah’s foreign relations official, said in a speech this week. "And we are insisting that Palestinian prisoners be released with the Lebanese prisoners. "But Hezbollah isn’t only seeking the release of Palestinian prisoners - there are also Jordanians and Arab-Israelis being held by Israel. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah last publicly referred to the prisoners deal in a speech in May, marking the eighth anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon. At the time, he also hinted that the return of the Lebanese prisoners was "very close. "After that appearance, the only Hezbollah official to refer to a possible swap was Nabil Kauk, who commands the organization’s southern sector. In the past week, no one in Lebanon has heard Nasrallah mention the deal.

Olmert’s volte-face
Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
On the morning of Monday, April 28, family members of abducted soldier Eldad Regev were asked to come to the Prime Minister’s Bureau in Jerusalem. There, Ehud Olmert told Eldad’s father, Zvi, and his three brothers, Benny, Ofer and Eyal, that a deal was in the works with Hezbollah. He even told them about its agreed-upon parameters. The boys will not be back in a day or two, Olmert said, but we can expect the affair to be concluded within a few short months. The father and the brothers asked Olmert whether the families of the abducted soldiers needed to muster support for the deal within the political establishment. The prime minister, Ofer Regev related this week, repeated at least three times: "I promise you that the deal will go through. If by understandings, then by understandings, and if needed, then by force. . . "

Sarkozy’s plain speaking in Israel
Benjamin Pogrund, The Guardian 6/26/2008
The French president has been firm in his praise and tough in his criticism of Israel, a tactic that should pay dividends. President Nicolas Sarkozy has thrust himself and France into the heart of the Middle East, heralding new influence and a role as peacemaker between Israelis and Palestinians. His bold moves will be furthered when France takes on the European presidency on July 1. Aiding him, and of even wider significance, is the growing activity of the EU: a "new era" in Europe-Israel relations was announced earlier this month with the signing of an agreement for cooperation. The EU is poised to step in where the US has failed in helping to bring Middle East peace. Sarkozy had a triumphal three-day visit here this week, offering friendship and support both to Israelis and Palestinians. He told the applauding Knesset, the parliament, that he admired Israel’s democracy and he emphasised France’s commitment to the country’s security.

The French connection
Meir Zamir, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
Secret French documents, published here for the first time, reveal clandestine cooperation between France and the Zionist movement in the years leading up to Israel’s establishment - On December 15, 1947, at approximately 1:45 P. M. , about 20 fighters of the Haganah - the pre-state underground Jewish militia - seized a British truck south of Acre. The men, armed but wearing civilian clothing, confiscated about half a ton of documents, packed into eight sealed steel containers and 12 sacks of diplomatic mail. The documents had been sent from the British legation in Beirut to Haifa Port, from which they were to be transported to Britain. The truck was taken to an unknown location. The driver and armed guards were later found in an abandoned building near Kiryat Ata. The British tried to minimize the importance of the captured documents, claiming that. . .

Jerusalem & Babylon / Critical dialogue
Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
It was a conference that checked off all the boxes, 120 participants from all four corners of the Jewish world, from as far afield as Cuba; all in their twenties and thirties, not the usual crusty customers from the old organizations but rather leading sexy new projects of their own. The Global Summit for Young Jewish Innovators held last week in Jerusalem was the dream of all those who worry about Jewish continuity, proof that they are out there, those representatives of the younger generation who are committed to their identity. But despite the full and challenging program and the networking opportunities offered by the organizers from the Center for Leadership Initiatives, not everyone there was satisfied. "There was an opening ceremony at Mount Herzl, with a senior official from the Jewish Agency," says Tal Shahar, one participant, "and some of us felt this wasn’t for us, we didn’t come for some Zionist jamboree. . . "

Quartet Gives Support to Berlin Meeting to Help Palestinians
Deutsche Presse Agentur, MIFTAH 6/26/2008
The four-member diplomatic group on the Middle East peace process gave support Tuesday to the conference held in Berlin, which aimed to assist the Palestinian Authority achieve statehood. The Berlin Conference in Support of Palestinian Civil Security and the Rule of Law was focusing on building a Palestinian police and justice sector, which is a part of efforts toward Palestinian state-building. The diplomatic group, known as the quartet, issued a statement supporting the German efforts. The group is composed of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon conferred by telephone with his counterparts in the quartet to agree on the statement made public at UN headquarters. The statement called for the ’speedy implementation of projects agreed and robust donor support in order to build the capacity of the Palestinian police and justice sector.

OPT: Palestinian justice system essential to Mideast peace, says Rice
United States Department of State, ReliefWeb 6/24/2008
Berlin conference exceeds requests for funds to upgrade police, courts By: David McKeeby Staff Writer Washington --Security and the rule of law represent the foundations of any successful state, says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, citing $242. 3 million in total new aid pledged to revamp the Palestinian justice system, which is an essential ingredient in the Middle East peace process. ‘To feel invested in a future state, Palestinians must have confidence that their police, courts and penal system are dedicated to upholding the rule of law and respecting human rights,’ Rice told representatives from more than 40 nations in Berlin for the Conference in Support of Palestinian Civil Security and Rule of Law. ‘Every link in what we call the chain of security must be intact and unbreakable.

ISRAEL-OPT: Palestinian ministry, WHO launch mental health project
IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 6/27/2008
RAMALLAH, 26 June 2008 (IRIN) - The Palestinian ministry of health and the World Health Organization (WHO) on 25 June launched what they called an "ambitious" project to change the way mental health services are offered to patients in the West Bank and Gaza. The project will also aim to rid society of stigmas associated with mental illnesses. "It is the right of all people to access mental health services," said the health minister, Fathi Abu Moghli, at a launch event in Ramallah. "Someone suffering from a mental health problem was called ’crazy’ but this word should be deleted from our lexicon," he said, adding that part of the new programme was to change public attitudes to psychology and psychiatry. Adnan Dagher, a member of the Family Association which is also involved in the new health project, said negative attitudes to mental health made life harder for the patient and their families. He also noted that to get the true number of people affected by mental illness you should "multiply each patient by five.

Officials: Municipal sewage is now the main polluter of the sea
Zafrir Rinat, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
Sewage from local authorities has outstripped industrial waste, which has decreased significantly, as the main pollutant in the Mediterranean, officials from the Environmental Protection Ministry said yesterday. The largest sea polluter by far is now the Dan Region sewage reclamation project, which funnels sludge into the sea from sewage treatment. The second biggest culprit is effluent from Agan Chemical Manufacturers in Ashdod. The officials spoke at a conference on the Mediterranean’s water quality held at the Israeli Institute of Energy and Environment in Tel Aviv. They said multiyear tests show that fewer pollutants are flowing into the sea, mainly due to stricter law enforcement on plants in the Kishon Stream area, which led to more effective treatment of industrial waste. The improvement also stemmed from the closure of Electrochemical Industries Frutarom in Acre, which used to funnel large amounts of mercury into the sea.

HIV diagnoses in Israel climb; new cases among gays up sharply
Yuval Azoulay and Staff, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
The number of HIV-positive people in Israel increased substantially in 2007, a turnaround from a drop in new diagnoses the previous year. Health Ministry figures indicate a sharp rise in HIV cases in the gay community. The International Federation of the Red Cross/Red Crescent yesterday published its annual disasters report, classifying AIDS as a severe disaster in Africa and urging that it be classified along with famine, war and floods. The IFRC report warns that the AIDS crisis could become a global disaster. It says 7,000 people are infected with HIV daily around the world and that 33 million people have the virus, which has killed 25 million worldwide. About two-thirds of people with HIV are in sub-Saharan Africa. At least one person in 10 is HIV positive in countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Zambia, the report said.

Senior bankers: Strong shekel a strategic threat to Israeli economy
Shaon Shpurer, TheMarker Correspondent, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
"If the cabinet and the Bank of Israel do not deal with the exchange rate problem, it will be very bad here. The strong shekel, compared to the dollar and euro, is a strategic threat to the [Israeli] economy. It is simply awful. Many companies and industries are in real danger," senior banking executives told TheMarker on Thursday. According to the bank officials, firms that sold their products a year ago at an exchange rate of NIS 4. 5 to the dollar cannot continue to operate at an exchange rate of NIS 3. 3 per dollar. "No one has such high profit margins of over 30%. The firms are eating up their equity and the stage will come when they can no longer withstand the economic pressures and they will collapse," said the bankers. The executives said they have identified a particularly critical situation in the kibbutz industries, since. . .

Jewish Agency plan to recruit hi-tech immigrants draws immediate fire
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
It was a short grace period for the Jewish Agency’s new plan for attracting 1,000 American high-tech professionals to Israel by 2010. Just 30 minutes after its unveiling on Tuesday in Ra’anana, immigration absorption officials and high-tech bosses criticized the blueprint as unviable and misguided. The plan, which the Jewish Agency presented at the Ra’anana Conference for National High Tech Policy, aims to meet a growing shortage of engineers in the field by tapping into reservoirs of Jewish professionals in the West. According to some statistical estimates, the Israeli economy will face a shortage of about 12,000 high-tech engineers by 2015. Tzipi Pinkus Hart, who presented the plan, said it will be finalized with cooperation from high-tech firms and launched in January.

Soothing the savage breast
Sanford F. Kuvin, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
Can music be an instrument for peace? That’s what the Sounding Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival hopes for, as it offers some of the season’s best free live classical music in the city. The festival brings together 75 top European, Israeli and Arab musicians for over 20 concerts to mixed audiences in a wide variety of venues - churches in the Old City, historic sites in West Jerusalem and Palestinian villages. In spite of the obvious difficulties entailed in having concerts on both sides of the Green Line, the festival, which runs through July 5, offers a decent intercultural opportunity for Jews, Christians and Arabs to share the borderless atmosphere of music at its best. The individual behind this initiative is the Austrian cellist Erich Oskar Huetter. With funding from the European Union, this extraordinarily talented musician has embarked on a seemingly mission-impossible. . .

Weather Forecast: Thursday
Ma’an News Agency 6/26/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The Palestinian meteorological center expects Thursday’s weather to be hot and dry with temperatures above the annual average by 4-5 degrees. Winds will be westerly to northwesterly. The sea will be calm. Friday’s weather is expected to be mainly clear with patchy cloud. Temperatures will drop to around the annual average. Winds will be northwesterly and light to moderate. The sea will be calm. Saturday’s weather is expected to be moderate with a further slight decrease in temperatures. Expected temperatures are as follows (°C):Bethlehem: 19 to 32 / Tulkarem: 20 to 33 / Qalqilia: 20 to 33 / Salfit: 20 to 33 / Nablus: 21 to 34 / Jenin: 23 to 36 / Tubas: 22 to 35 / Hebron: 18 to 32 / Jericho: 25 to 42 / Gaza City: 24 to 32 / Khan Younis: 24 to 32 / Rafah: 23 to 33

City councils named as Israel’s biggest polluters
Zafrir Rinat, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
Municipalities comprise the primary source of pollution in Israel, according to figures announced Thursday by the Environmental Protection Ministry at a conference in Tel Aviv. The figures particularly implicate the Dan Region Sewage Reclamation Project (Shafdan), which directs waste water into the Mediterranean Sea off of the Rishon Letzion coast. According to the data, Shafdan causes considerably more pollution than any other source, because much redirected water that has undergone purification remains a pollutant. However, sources from the Environmental Protection Ministry said that the redirection of the waste water into the sea will stop in 2011, and will be dealt with on land. On a more promising note, the figures show that pollution in the sea and in Israel in general has gradually decreased over the last few years.

A brutal initiative
Haaretz Editorial, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
From the start, the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom targeted people like Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann. This important law, in which the most fundamental human and civil rights are anchored, has been on the books for more than 16 years and the Knesset has never tried to change it for fear of diluting its impact. It was hard to conceive that a justice minister, of all people, would try to undermine this law after justice ministers from all political sides and opinions had gone out of their way to protect it. But Friedmann is not like other justice ministers. In his relentless battle against the Supreme Court he keeps raising various strange initiatives, either directly or indirectly, but always with the same purpose. Friedmann believes that the government and Knesset should have unlimited power to run the state as they. . .

PM associates on Kadima-Labor deal: Barak ran away like battered dog
Yossi Verter, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
The agreement between the prime minister and defense minister that prevented a vote this week on dissolving the Knesset and advanced primaries in the Kadima Party neither calmed tempers nor soothed the tense relations between Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak. On Wednesday, after the fact, Olmert’s associates claimed that Labor Party chairman Barak initiated the compromise because he feared Olmert would fire him immediately, and that today, Friday, "the sun will be in the meridian, and he’ll be a civilian. "Barak, the prime minister’s confidants added, "ran away like a battered dog. "In conversations with several associates late this week, Olmert said he could work in concert with Barak, because of the serious issues on the agenda, and that he does not intend to settle scores with those who stabbed him in the back.

Olmert briefed for Talansky questioning
Ofra Edelman, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
Lawyers for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert briefed him yesterday on the questions they plan to ask the American fundraiser Morris Talansky when they cross-examine him on July 17 in the Jerusalem District Court. During a meeting held at Olmert’s Tel Aviv office, his legal team informed him of the preparations for the cross-examination and updated him on the material the police gathered and the contradictions discovered between that material and Talansky’s preliminary court deposition on May 27. The meeting lasted about an hour. According to sources close to Olmert no reference was made to the current police inquiries in the United States. [end]

Israel’s Olmert Averts Early Poll
BBC News, MIFTAH 6/26/2008
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has struck a last-minute deal with the Labour party to save his coalition and avert fresh elections. Labour’s leader, Defence Minister Ehud Barak, has agreed not to support an opposition bill to dissolve parliament. In return, Mr Olmert will hold elections for a new head of his Kadima party by September, which analysts say he is likely to lose. Mr Olmert is under investigation for alleged corruption. He denies wrongdoing and has not been charged. Mr Barak has recently called for his resignation, but Mr Olmert said he would not resign unless he was indicted. The next election is scheduled for 2010, but it is highly likely that Israel will have a new prime minister come September, says the BBC’s Tim Franks in Jerusalem. UncertaintyIsrael Radio said the Likud party was withdrawing the bill rather than risk seeing it voted down, which under parliamentary procedure would mean a delay on when it could be brought to the Knesset again.

Council meeting erupts in yells: Jerusalem is not Iran
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 6/26/2008
Jerusalem councilman Saar Netanel cuts into mayor’s speech, accuses him of dressing bridge inauguration dancers like in Islamic republic. Audience members forced out for singing ’Jerusalem is not Iran, Jerusalem is Tehran’ - An embarrassing incident occurred during a Jerusalem City Council meeting on Thursday after council member Saar Netanel interrupted a speech by Mayor Uri Lupolianski, attacking his decision to "cover up" the dancers performing at the inauguration ceremony of Jerusalem’s new Chord Bridge. "You always open with achievements and positive things that happened this month," Netanel called out, "so how is it that you didn’t open with the ’marvelous thing’ that happened to us yesterday when the girls of a dance ensemble were dressed in clothes like in Tehran. How is it that you don’t open with the fact that women in Jerusalem are being dressed as in Iran? ". . .

Kadima sources: Olmert can’t afford not to run in primary
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert may still run to keep his spot at the helm of Kadima in the party’s primary elections, despite a deal struck with the Labor Party late Tuesday which simultaneously salvaged the coalition and essentially began the process of removing Olmert from power. Kadima sources said on Wednesday that the agreement, which obligates the party to hold primaries by September 25 in exchange for Labor’s pledge to remain in the coalition, does not prevent Olmert from running for party leadership. Labor did not insist on such a clause in the deal, assuming that Olmert would not choose to contend. Nevertheless,Kadima’s undertaking to hold its election by September 25 kicked off the primaries season and was the first step to removing Olmert from the faction’s leadership, party sources said.

De facto government in Gaza holds anti-drug events
Ma’an News Agency 6/26/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - Police affiliated with the de facto government in Gaza held several events on Thursday to mark the UN International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. In Gaza City, a march from Palestine Square to the Palestine Legislative Council (PLC) building was held on Thursday afternoon, with participants from the Anti-Drug Administration, the police rescue department and the mounted police. The march was addressed by PLC Deputy Speaker Ahmad Bahar, who stressed that both the de facto government and the PLC are keen to curb illegal drug use in the Gaza Strip. A conference to discuss cooperation between the police and community organizations in the fight against drugs is being held on Thursday evening at the Palestinian Red Crescent Society building in Gaza City. Sa’id Siyam, Interior Minister in the Hamas-run de facto Gaza government, is scheduled to attend,. . .

Special committee on Israel practices concludes visit to Egypt
United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, ReliefWeb 6/26/2008
CAIRO-- The three-member Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories completed today its field visit to Egypt after talking to Palestinian residents from Gaza and the West Bank as well as Israeli citizens. The Committee Members expressed serious concern about the deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the grave situation in the Gaza strip, the impact of the separation wall on the human rights of Palestinian people, and the continuing settlements policy. The field mission included interviews with witnesses to human rights situations in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In reaching its preliminary conclusions, the Special Committee relied on communications it had received and consultations during the visit, some by phone as some witnesses from Gaza were prevented from traveling to Cairo.

Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 19 - 25 Jun 2008
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights - PCHR, ReliefWeb 6/25/2008
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)- 3 Palestinians killed by IOF in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. - 2 of the victims were extra-judicially executed by IOF in Nablus. - 18 Palestinians, including 5 children and 2 old men, were wounded by the IOF gunfire; 12 of them were wounded in Ne’lin village near Ramallah. - IOF conducted 36 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. - IOF demolished 2 uninhabited houses and partially demolished 3 inhabited houses, in Qalqilya. - IOF arrested 48 Palestinian civilians, including 14 children, in the West Bank. - IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT and have isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world. - IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli. . .

OPT: Protection of civilians weekly report 11 - 17 Jun 2008
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - OCHA, ReliefWeb 6/17/2008
Of note this week Gaza Strip:- The IDF killed 19 Palestinians, including a 65-year-old man and an eight-year-old girl, and injured ten others in the Gaza Strip. In one incident in Khan Younis, an UNRWA minibus transporting UN staff members was within three metres of a vehicle targeted by an IAF missile strike that led to the death of five Palestinian militants. - On one occasion, IDF patrol boats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats, forcing them to return to shore. No damage or injuries were reported (Rafah). - A 13-year-old Palestinian boy was stabbed and killed by another boy in Gaza City. Both were students at an UNRWA school. - Six Palestinians adults and two children, including a four-month-old baby, were killed in an internal explosion at a house in Beit Lahiya. Forty others, including ten children, were injured in the explosion, which was due to the reckless handling of weaponry by Palestinian militants (North Gaza).

The Humanitarian Monitor Occupied Palestinian Territory No. 25, May 2008
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - OCHA, ReliefWeb 5/31/2008
Overview- Key Issues - Update on Gaza - Violence - Forty Palestinians were killed during May in the Gaza Strip in direct conflict related incidents, compared with 70 in April. The total includes six child fatalities compared to 21 in April. At least one-third of those killed (14) were unarmed civili+ans. An additional 107 Palestinians were injured in May, among whom 11 were children. Most casualties occurred as a result of Israeli Air Force (IAF) attacks. Two Israeli civilians were killed and 20 injured, including 16 civilians and four IDF soldiers, by rockets and mortars fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Impact of fuel crisis During May, fuel supplies (including benzene, diesel and industrial gasoline) allowed by Israel into the Gaza Strip increased by 46% compared to April (from 7.

14 protesters hurt in West Bank anti-fence demonstration
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
Fourteen protesters demonstrating against the separation fence were wounded in the West Bank village of Na’alin on Thursday. An Israel Defense Forces soldier and a Border Police officer were also lightly hurt from stones thrown by protesters, 200 of whom were demonstrating against the route of the fence, which cuts off some of the village’s residents from their lands. The wounded protesters were hurt by the anti-riot tactics employed by the IDF and Border Police to disperse the demonstrators. Members of Anarchists against the Wall said that security forces opened fire after stones were thrown. Protest activity against the fence in Na’alin has been on the rise in recent weeks. Demonstrators say that the separation fence effectively annexes thousands of dunams of Palestinian land to the settlement of Hashmonaim.

21 injured as protest in Ni’lin again manages to halt construction of the apartheid wall
International Solidarity Movement 6/26/2008
Ramallah Region - Photos - On the 26th June over 200 Palestinian protesters marched in the village of Nilin again, together with international and Israeli activists, against the construction of the apartheid wall that annexes thousands of dunams of land belonging to residents of the village. The response from the Israeli soldiers was once again brutal with an artillery of sound bombs, teargas, rubber bullets and live ammunition. 2 Palestinians were hospitalised. As with the last demonstration, protesters again managed to reach the bulldozers, halting the construction for some time. 21 persons where however injured, 15 of them by rubber bullets and the rest by tear-gas. Two of the injured were hospitalised - Aqel Sadeq Sror with a shot in his spine and Muhammad Amera with a fractured skull caused by a rubber bullet.

Israeli Arab teaches Palestinians about the Holocaust
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
On the way to the Hawara checkpoint, near the West Bank city of Nablus, Khaled Ksab Mahamid says: "You remember that you are American, yes? How is your accent in English? " Mahamid, whose family originates from a destroyed Arab village near what is now Megiddo, is the founder and director of a private Holocaust museum in Nazareth. We are on our way to the Balata refugee camp, where he is scheduled to give a lecture. The tension at the checkpoint is rising. In general, Palestinians and Arabs try not to talk about the Holocaust. The distance between solidarity with the Jewish people and solidarity with the Jewish state is short, and is not usually up for discussion, especially in a refugee camp. Mahamid has a unique perspective on this issue. He argues that the Palestinian people paid the price for the Holocaust during their Nakba - Arabic for "catastrophe" or the day of Israel’s independence.

Going local
Nehad Selaiha, Al-Ahram Weekly 6/26/2008
This year, I did not catch as much of the annual Modern Dance Theatre Festival as I would have liked to do. Out of the 15 performances which made up the festival, I watched only 9, and of those 2 I had already seen earlier this year. What follows therefore is not a thorough coverage or evaluation of this year’s edition, but rather a few impressions I thought I’d share with you. I missed the opening, but, fortunately, the same programme was repeated the following night. It consisted of a short speech by Walid Aouni, the founder of the festival, in which he dedicated this year’s edition to the name of the world-famous choreographer and dancer, Maurice Bejart, who died on 22 November last year. Before he settled in Cairo in the early 1990s, founding the first Arab modern dance theatre troupe at the Cairo Opera House, Aouni had worked as scenographer, set and costume designer with Bejart.

’Modesty police’ patrols bridge ceremony
Neta Sela, YNetNews 6/26/2008
Dancers scheduled to appear in opening ceremony of new Chords Bridge in Jerusalem undergo emergency wardrobe change after ultra-Orthodox elements deem original outfits immodest, threaten mass protest - A cover-up:The dancers hired to perform at Wednesday inauguration ceremony of Jerusalem’s new Chords Bridge had to undergo a last-minute wardrobe change, after ultra-Orthodox elements deemed their costume "too revealing," and threatened to stage a mass protest at the ceremony. Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski was reportedly under significant pressure to cancel the performance altogether, but eventually, a compromised was reached: The dancers were dressed in long outfits - complete with headdress - which rendered their figures unrecognizable. The performance was also cut from three segments to one. David’s Harp? Jerusalem undecided - bridge a blessing. . .


Israel, EU and the US disregard international law
Adri Nieuwhof, Electronic Intifada 6/26/2008
      After the announcement of the Israeli government to put out new tenders for construction in illegal settlements in East Jerusalem, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement expressing his deep concern, stating that "the government of Israel’s continued construction in settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory is contrary to international law and to its commitments under the Road Map and the Annapolis process."The shameless Israeli expansion of its illegal settlements also caught the attention of the Arab League.Representatives of the UN’s Arab bloc met on 12 June at UN headquarters in New York for a final discussion on a proposal for the UN Security Council calling to halt the expansion of illegal West Bank settlements.
     In the 12 months before the US-sponsored Annapolis conference last November, the Israeli government invited tenders for the construction of "only" 138 housing units in settlements. However, as demonstrated by the table below, in the six months since, Israel has put out 11 tenders for the construction of the staggering number of 1,731 settler housing units.
     [List of Israeli tenders for housing in Jerusalem and West Bank, December 2007 to June 2008.]
     Israel further demonstrated its determination to transfer part of its population to the occupied territory in open violation of international law on 13 June when the Regional Committee for Construction and Planning approved the construction of 1,300 homes for settlers in Ramat Schlomo near Beit Hanina, a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Ramat Schlomo currently has 2,000 housing units.

Witnessing ’horrendous humiliation’ put former head of state on anti-Israel path

Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
      NIJMEGEN, NETHERLANDS - The emotion in Andreas van Agt’s voice as he lambastes Israel’s behavior seems puzzling for a man of his status. It’s especially intriguing considering that this blue-eyed professed idealist is an astute statesman who presided as the Dutch prime minister for five years until 1982. "My involvement in the Middle East is certainly unusual," Van Agt confessed in an interview with Haaretz about Israel at his home in Nijmegen. Currently, Van Agt is writing a book about the Israeli-Arab conflict. He recently launched an info site about the subject, in which he accuses Israel of racism and violating international law.
     He speaks at controversial solidarity events alongside Hamas officials, lamenting the Dutch government’s boycott of the Islamist organization branded by numerous governments as terrorist. He is also outspoken in accusing Israel of state-terror. "Some say my demeanor owes to my advanced age; that I’m not fully in my right mind anymore," says the 77-year-old with a snicker, sitting under an outdated portrait of the Queen in his taupe-colored den.

Obama’s Palestinian problem

Hamid Dabashi, Al-Ahram Weekly 6/26/2008
      In his 4 June speech to the American Israeli Political Action Committee, Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama betrayed the hopes that had been invested in him, writes The evening of Tuesday 3 June 2008 will go down in history as one of the most electrifying moments in American political culture -- changing the normative landscape of its racial imaginary beyond anything anticipated before, and only dreamt of in a euphoric moment of myth almost half a century ago when the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his prophetic "I have a dream" speech.
     The historic air of expectation was so voluminous that night that CNN and MSNBC were happily competing in their sharp wits and technological wherewithal as to which one could cut thicker into the historic forays and call Senator Barack Obama the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party before the other. The jigsaw puzzle of boxes and colours and numbers and statistics on the bottoms of their screens competed for attention with their anchors and pundits and their excited words and wide-eyed amazement at the momentous occasion: History in the making.
     Even the AIPAC-seasoned and marinated Wolf Blitzer of CNN had to concede his championing for Golda Clinton Meir to the historic moment and let the events roar, as the delegate count got closer and closer for Obama to clench the nomination for the Democratic Party ("he only needs 12 more, 11 more, 8 more, . . ."); while at the same time not even the sharp-shooting wit of Keith Olberman of MSNBC could keep pace with the enormity of the occasion.

Twilight Zone / Karmel’s happy campers

Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
      The water is the same but the children are not. Diving into the pool is just as daring and dangerous as it used to be, the water just as stagnant, the pool just as spectacular, but now there are fish. Many fish, mainly fingerlings, dart about, as many as 20,000 according to Anan al-Mahani, a fisherman from the village who breeds them.
     The vast, ancient pool, built generations ago to store water, which becomes a pitiful day camp for the children of Karmel in the summer, has now also become a fish pond. Exactly eight years ago, photographer Miki Kratsman and I happened on this place by chance. Kratsmans series of photos won him acclaim. Back then, in the July 7, 2000 issue of Haaretz Magazine, I wrote: "Our hearts skip a beat: The sight is hallucinatory. The children stand atop the walls, at least 10 meters high, which surround the terrifying reservoir, and leap out into space. The bottom seems to be covered with grass. Only when the children land on the green carpet does it become apparent that this is not a lawn, but water, covered with a thick layer of green scum. When they rise from the depths, black bubbles surround their ascending heads, and their bodies are covered with a layer of green slime. Seen from above, the sight of their dark heads poking through the green is very strange. The risky jump, the stench, the filthy water; this is summer camp for the children of Karmel, an ancient Palestinian village in the Hebron hills.

Hamas and Hizballah gain, almost hand in hand

Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, Electronic Intifada 6/26/2008
      CAIRO (IPS) - Hizballah’s dramatic seizure of Beirut last month stunned observers and dealt a heavy blow to Washington’s Lebanese allies. In Cairo, analysts compared the episode to last year’s takeover of the Gaza Strip by Palestinian resistance faction Hamas, noting that both actions were pre-emptive -- rather than offensive -- in nature.
     "Both instances were legitimate cases of self-defense," Magdi Hussein, political analyst and head of Egypt’s frozen Socialist Labour Party, told IPS. "Neither Hamas nor Hizballah was trying to seize political authority -- they were merely reacting to aggression against them."
     On 7 May, Hizballah -- along with allied Shia movement Amal -- seized control of the Lebanese capital, blocking highways and occupying strategic areas. Fighters associated with Lebanon’s 14 March movement, Hizballah’s chief political rival, were easily routed.
     After three days of clashes that left scores dead, Hizballah and its allies returned control of the city to the Lebanese army.
     he US, along with most of the western media, depicted Hizballah’s temporary seizure of the capital as a "coup d’etat". On 14 May, the US House of Representatives tabled a bill condemning the resistance group’s "illegitimate assault on the sovereign government of Lebanon.

Palestine is illegal

Sumia Ibrahim writing from occupied Palestine, Electronic Intifada 6/26/2008
      The young, dark-haired woman behind the glass stamped the American passport in front of her. "Welcome to Israel," she said cheerily. The line in front of me receded quickly as passport after passport was stamped, and traveler after traveler admitted entry. I made my way to the desk and slid my passport under the glass.
     "Hello," I said smiling. After over a 15-hour flight from Philadelphia, US, which included a two-and-a-half-hour layover in Barcelona where I was searched and questioned, and where my bags were carefully examined by hand, I was anxious to breathe fresh air and catch up on sleep. Given the fact that I was extensively questioned and searched by Israeli airline security in Barcelona, I expected to undergo minimal additional security measures at Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, if any. The woman scrutinized my passport, which held a red sticker placed by Israeli security in Barcelona, and called over another airport official. "Come with me," this woman said, leading me to a nearby seating room. Rows of people waiting for their passports to be stamped stared at me as I walked by. Most of them, American and European Jews, would have no trouble entering. It’s quite a different story for an Arab American.

Beyond the truce

Dina Ezzat, Al-Ahram Weekly 6/26/2008
      With the newborn Hamas-Israel truce looking fragile, officials scramble to make progress on phase two issues. The fate of the Egyptian-sponsored truce struck earlier this month between Israel and Hamas and other Palestinian factions in Gaza is already in question. Over the past 48 hours, Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza exchanged accusations of truce violations as Israeli aggression on Islamic resistance groups in the West Bank -- yet to be included in the truce -- prompted rocket attacks Tuesday evening on the western Negev. Wednesday, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak ordered crossings linking Gaza to Israel closed. According to the terms of the truce these crossings were supposed to be opened as of 8am Wednesday.
     Informed Egyptian officials who spoke to Al-Ahram Weekly Wednesday morning on condition of anonymity said that Egypt was "very disturbed" by current developments and that General Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman -- the architect of the truce -- is already in direct contact with both sides to make sure that the situation does not escalate. Egypt, officials say, is determined to bolster the truce that took months to negotiate.

Ayoon wa Azan (He Never Says that he Guarantees Peace)

Jihad El-khazen, MIFTAH 6/26/2008
      President Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Meshaal have at least one point in common. They do not want reconciliation to be solely restricted to Fatah and Hamas. Instead, they seek a Palestinian reconciliation with the participation of all Palestinian sides and an Arab blessing.
     A few days ago, I conveyed the stance of Hamas’ politburo chief following the meeting we had in Damascus. Today, I will report some of what I heard Abu Mazen say during the dinner we had the following day in Amman. The dinner was hosted by Palestinian Ambassador Atallah Khairi and attended by a number of the President’s aides and other friends, including Basel Akl and Nabil Abu Rudaina.
     Abu Mazen denied any consultations prior to launching the reconciliation initiative. The PLO’s Executive Committee met for three days and agreed on the formula it announced. Condoleezza Rice called the next day to ask him about it; he read the initiative text to her. Then the State Department voiced its support for the initiative.

Denied the Right to Go Home

Zeina Ashrawi Hutchison, Palestine Think Tank 6/26/2008
      A Palestinian woman’s story - Zeina Shrawi Hutchison is Hanan Ashrawi’s daughter.
     I am Palestinian - born and raised - and my Palestinian roots go back centuries. No one can change that even if they tell me that Jerusalem, my birth place, is not Palestine, even if they tell me that Palestine doesn’t exist, even if they takeaway all my papers and deny me entry to my own home, even if they humiliate me and take away my rights. I AM PALESTINIAN.
     Name: ZeinaEmile Sam’an Ashrawi; Date of Birth: July 30, 1981; Ethnicity: Arab. This is what was written on my Jerusalem ID card. An ID card to a Palestinian is much more than just a piece of paper; it is my only legal documented relationship to Palestine. Born in Jerusalem, I was given a Jerusalem ID card (the blue ID), an Israeli Travel Document and a Jordanian Passport stamped ’Palestinian’ (I have no legal rights in Jordan). I do not have an Israeli Passport, a Palestinian Passport or an American Passport.

Land confiscation continues in Tammun, Jordan Valley

International Womens’ Peace Service 6/23/2008
      On Wednesday, the 18th of June 2008 residents of Tammun and Khirbet ’Atuf, Tubas district, accompanied by international solidarity and peace activists gathered in a protest action at a trench that imposes an artificial border between Khirbet ’Atuf and the illegal Israeli settlement of Bega’Ot. This 30km long trench prevents the residents of the region from accessing hundreds of dunums of their land behind it.
     The municipality of Tammun has recently received a letter from the Israeli Ministry of Defense, informing them that 356 dunums of the Tammun land will be confiscated for the purpose of establishing a new military base in the area. The letter reads that the landowners will be allowed time to prove their ownership by the year 2012. Yet, the title deeds for 95000 dunums of land, amounting to 75% of the land belonging to the Tammun municipality, have not stopped the Occupation confiscating the land for three illegal settlements and three military bases built in the area since 1967.