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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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27 June 2008

Palestinians: Teenager killed by IDF in West Bank
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 6/28/2008
Army fires at three Palestinians hurling Molotov cocktails at highway north of Hebron - An IDF force spotted and fired at three Palestinians hurling Molotov cocktails at Highway 60 in the West Bank, north of Hebron. Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that a 17-year-old boy was killed in the incident during a violent clash with IDF soldiers. The teenager, identified as Muhammad Anwar Abu Sarakh, was reportedly shot in the head. According to the report, troops also detained nine people at his village. Earlier this week, a senior commander of the Islamic Jihad and an additional member of the group were killed in the West Bank city of Nablus. The two were killed in an exchange of fire with IDF and Shin Bet forces who had entered the city to arrest several wanted Palestinians.

Two international activists, scores of villagers injured in Bil’in anti-wall protest
Ma’an News Agency 6/28/2008
Ramallah - Ma’an - Two international solidarity activists were injured by Israeli forces on Friday in the weekly protest against the separation wall in Bil’in, west of Ramallah, and dozens of protesters were treated for tear gas inhalation. Villagers from Bil’in marched together with international and Israeli solidarity activists after Friday prayers, carrying Palestinian flags and banners demanding the removal of the Israeli wall and settlements and calling on the international community to lift the siege on Gaza and help Palestinians retain Jerusalem. Participants also demanded that the Israeli army stop killing Palestinian civilians and end the use of live ammunition against non-violent protesters. As they approached the separation wall, Israeli forces prevented the villagers from reaching the gate that is supposed to provide access to their lands, and opened fire on them. . .

Threat to demolish more Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, legal battle underway
Maisa Abu Ghazaleh, Palestine News Network 6/27/2008
Jerusalem - As Israeli settlements continue to expand across occupied East Jerusalem, a legal battle is underway to prevent the destruction of 450 Palestinian homes in the district of Khallat Al ’Ein. In preparation for the confiscation of Palestinian land, the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem Municipality has sought to argue that the residents of Khallat Al ’Ein possess no permanent license for the housing. With the legal assistance of Attorney Al Hussein, the local residents have taken their case to the Jerusalem Court of Local Affairs. Al Hussein stated that the demolition order is an act of racism which contravenes both international and Israeli law. He affirmed that, as East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel in 1980, the Palestinians living there have the same rights as any other citizens in the state of Israel.

IOF troops assault Palestinian award winning journalist
Palestinian Information Center 6/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- IOF troops stationed at the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing, on Thursday, physically assaulted Muhammad Omar, winner of 2008 Martha Gellhorn Journalism award, as he returned to Gaza from London where he received the award earlier this month. Omar is a young journalist from the Rafah refugee camp and the correspondent of the Washington Report. He won the award jointly with American journalist Dahr Jamail who has been reporting for several years from Iraq. He said that occupation soldiers at the border crossing made fun of him saying: "Oh’ so it’s you who won the journalism award" and ordered him to lie face down on the ground, then they stepped on his neck. He added that such practices by the occupation will not hinder Palestinian success stories and that the assault on him was unlawful and will not terrorize him as he will continue to tell the world about the untold suffering of the Palestinian people.

Goods crossings to Gaza stay shut following rocket attacks
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 6/28/2008
GAZA CITY: Israel kept commercial crossings into the Gaza Strip closed on Friday after a Palestinian rocket attack the day before tested a week-old truce and was slammed by the territory’s Hamas rulers. Two mortar rounds were also fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip on Friday, a military spokesman said, though he could not confirm where they hit. Army Radio said they landed in open fields near the border without hurting anyone. On Thursday Palestinian militants fired two rockets, one of which struck a field near the hard-hit southern Israeli town of Sderot without causing either casualties or damage. That attack was claimed by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a group tied to the Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas whose forces were driven from Gaza when Hamas seized control there over a year ago. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri criticized the attack, accusing "parties. . .

CPT: ''Israeli military issues demolition orders, blocks main access road in South Hebron Hills''
Christian Peacemaker Teams - Tuwani / Hebron, International Middle East Media Center News 6/28/2008
This is a press release issued by the Christian Peacemaker Teams stationed in the southern West Bank city of Hebron and reporting on violations carried by Israeli soldiers and settlers against the Palestinian residents in the area. On 26 June, 2008, the Israeli military issued a demolition order on the partly constructed water cistern in the village of At-Tuwani. The cisternis being built with financial support from a Spanish NGO. If completed the cistern will provide a vital additional water source in the arid region of the South Hebron Hills. Also on 26 June, the Israeli military issued a demolition order on a home in At-Tuwani and on four homes in the nearby village of Umm Faggarah. On the following day, 27 June, 2008, at 9 am, the Israeli military returned to the area and blocked the road between At-Tuwani and Yatta village.

B’Tselem report: ''Soldier assaults B’Tselem worker filming settler violence, takes the cassette''
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/28/2008
The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Tselem) issued a report stating that an Israeli soldier assaulted one of its coordinators while filming Israeli settlers abusing Palestinian shepherds in the southern West Bank city of Hebron. "On Friday, 20 June 2008, around 6:20 P. M. , Nasser a-Nawaj’ah, coordinator of B’Tselem’s "Shooting Back" project in the Southern Hebron Hills, filmed three settlers abusing Palestinian shepherds, shouting at them and pushing them and trying to scatter their flock", B’Tselem reported. B’Tselem stated that the attack took place near Susiya settlement. A- Nawaj’ah managed to film two Israeli military jeeps standing by without attempting to stop the assault. B’Tselem added that soldiers declared the area as a closed military zone and moved A- Nawaj’ah away from the area.

Settlers set ablaze dozens of Olive trees near Ramallah
Laila Ewaiwi & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 6/27/2008
A group of Israeli settlers set fire to a large number of olive trees owned by the villagers of Deir Nitham near Ramallah. Witnesses reported that most of the burnt olive trees are owned by Ahmad Mizher, and that theses trees have been planted since the Roman era. Wittiness added that the settlere came from the illegal settlement of Halamish, constructed on lands that belong to villagers from Nabi Saleh and Deir Nitham, west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah. The villagers stated that this is not the first time Israeli settlers attck and destroy their orhcards since the begging of the Intifada and that large areas of lands were destroyed. [end]

Report: Israel seeks to deport prisoners to Gaza
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 6/27/2008
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports Israel offered to transfer senior prisoners to Gaza instead of releasing them to their homes in West Bank; according to report, Hamas rejected proposal - Israel has offered to release Palestinian prisoners with blood on their hands as part of the deal for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit’s release, and to transfer them to the Gaza Strip instead of sending them back to their homes in the West Bank, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat reported Friday. According to the report, if Hamas agrees to the offer relayed throughEgypt, Israel will release all the prisoners demanded by the Palestinian movement, including Abbas al-Sayed, commander of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades - Hamas’ military wing - in the West Bank city of Tulkarem. Cairo TalksEgypt: Negotiate for Shalit until there’s a result / Ali. . .

Five Injured in an Israeli Attack on a Peaceful Demonstration South Bethlehem
Laila Ewaiwi - IMEMc News, International Middle East Media Center News 6/27/2008
The Israeli army attacked a peacefull protest organized by the villagers of Al Ma’ssarah located near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem on frdiayt morning, five were injured. Local sources said that scores of villagers supported by Israeli and international peace activists marched from the main entrance of the village heading towards the lands that are in threat of being confiscated due to the building of the Wall. The participants held Palestinian flags and banners condemning the Israeli actions of building of the wall also calling for the unity among Palestinians. Soldiers attacked the protesters using riffle but and batons injuring the five activists including one international supporter.

Al Khader near Bethlehem village stage a protest against the Israeli Wall
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/27/2008
The village of Al Khader, located near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, organized on Friday midday a nonviolent protest against the illegal Israeli wall being built on the village land. . At least 100 Palestinians from the village of Al Khader along with Israeli and international supporters staged the protest at the nearby settlers road. The march started with midday prayers held near the army checkpoint there, then speeches were delivered by local organizers. The protest ended shortly after the speeches were finished. Samier Jaber an organizer in Al Khader village said that Israeli troops arrived at the area but did not do anything

Israeli forces kill youth in Beit Ummar
Ma’an News Agency 6/28/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian youth in the village of Beit Ummar, north of Hebron, on Friday evening. Palestinian medical and security sources reported to Ma’an that 17-year-old Muhammad Anwar Al-’Alami died after being shot in the heart by Israeli forces during clashes that erupted between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces stationed in the village. The sources added that the clashes continued into Friday night. [end]

Peaceful demonstrators protest Israeli separation wall in Al-Khader, near Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 6/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – More than 100 Palestinian men and boys, supported by a handful of international volunteers, held a peaceful demonstration against the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank village of Al-Khader, near the city of Bethlehem on Friday. The demonstrators gathered for the Friday Muslim prayer in intense midday heat on a settler bypass road in Al-Khader, close to the intended construction site of the wall. Two Israeli army jeeps, an armored personnel carrier, one border police jeep, and one Israeli civil administration jeep prevented the protesters from reaching the construction site. Local officials say the completion of the wall will result in the de facto annexation to Israel of more than 90% of the agricultural land the town depends on for its livelihood. The villagers of Al-Khader have been protesting the wall’s construction every week since January.

Two International Injured in Bil’in Weekly Protest
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/27/2008
On Friday, villagers from Bil’in, located near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, marched in their weekly nonviolent protest against the illegal Israeli wall built on the village’s land. They were supported by international and Israeli peace activists. Protesters carried banners demanding the removal of the Israeli wall and settlements and calling upon the international community to help Palestinians retain Jerusalem. They demanded that the Israeli army stop killing Palestinian civilians and an end to the use of live ammunition against Palestinian civilian protestors Residents of Bil’in have been demonstrating every week for the past three years. The protests started after the mid-day Friday prayers were finished in the mosque, villagers from Bil’in, along with Israeli and international peace activists, marched towards the separation Wall which separates the village from its land.

Ni’lin villagers disable two bulldozers
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 6/24/2008
On June 24, during a day long confrontation with Occupation forces, demonstrators in Ni’lin seriously disrupt construction of the Wall. Occupation forces were barred from invading the village while two bulldozers were disabled. Above:Occupation forces abandon a jeep during the clashes. Hundreds of people were present at the June 24 demonstration, which began as usual at 11 in the village centre. In addition to the central march, a number of groups of youth were present. While the main body headed for the bulldozers, these other groups immediately clashed with Occupation soldiers on the ridge near the settlement. While youth from the village hurled stones at Occupation soldiers, the main body succeeded in entering the site where the bulldozers were working.

Human rights organization: Israelis do not historically honor agreements of any kind
Palestine News Network 6/27/2008
Gaza City /PCHR - The European Commission was interested this week in listening to the Gaza City’s Palestinian Centre for Human Rights’ view of the Egypt-brokered ’calm’ between Hamas and the Israeli forces. PCHR’s representatives expressed their hopes that the ’calm’ would remain effective without any obstacles, but expressed reservations with regard to expectations since things are essentially related to changes on the ground, taking into consideration previous experiences, which witnessed Israeli violations. They stressed that all previous truces agreed upon between the Israelis and the Palestinian National Authority during the current Palestinian Intifada did not last for long as Israel violated and disrespected them. The PCHR received in its main office in Gaza City the Representative of the European Commission, Mr.

UN Sources: ''7 out of 8 truce violations were carried by Israel''
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/27/2008
Sources at the United Nations stated in Friday that after one week of truce in Gaza eight violations were reported, seven of these violations were carried by the Israeli army and the eighth was carried by the Palestinians. The sources added that despite of these violations, the truce appears to be holding and that Hamas movement, which dominates Gaza, said it is committed to the truce. The reported violations do not include one homemade shell fired by resistance factions at the Israeli Negev town of Sdeort, and two mortars fired by the resistance in response to the Israeli violations. The UN sources said that most of the violations were carried by Israel and that these violations originated from an incident when the army opened fire at Palestinian farmers attempting to reach their lands close to the border fence.

Israel allows 600,000 liters of gasoline into Gaza, but fuel supplies still insufficient
Ma’an News Agency 6/27/2008
[Ma’anImages]Gaza – Ma’an – Nine days after the truce declared between Israel and Hamas came into effect, cooking gas and gasoline are still the main concern for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Dr Mahmoud Al-Khazendar, vice president of the Association of Petrol Station Managers, told Ma’an on Friday that despite the ceasefire agreement, the quantities of fuel and cooking gas allowed into the Gaza Strip are very low and insufficient to meet basic needs of Gaza’s 1. 5 million residents. He added that on Friday only 600,000 liters of industrial gasoline were pumped into the Gaza power plant, despite the fact that no fuel had been allowed into the Gaza Strip for the previous four days. The Popular Committee Against the Siege had warned earlier that the Gaza power plant would be forced to shut down by a shortage of gasoline if further supplies were not allowed into the Strip, which would lead to power cut-offs in most parts of Gaza City.

PRC to participate in crisis unit and monitor Israeli truce violations
Ma’an News Agency 6/27/2008
[Ma’anImages] Gaza – Ma’an – The official spokesperson for the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) in Palestine, Abu Mujahid, has announced that the PRC will take part in the crisis unit proposed by de facto Interior Minister Sa’id Siyam for the Hamas-lead government in Gaza. The unit will work to follow up on the truce agreement which took effect last Thursday. The PRC members will include Secretary General Kamal An-Nairab,central leadership member Mohammed Abu Nasira, Mohammed Al-Baba, and media spokesman Abu Mujahid. The two most prominent members, Muhammad Abu Nasira and Muhammad Al-Baba, have been nominated to follow up with Israeli violations of the truce and will work towards establishing a united response to the breaches. The main concern, said Abu Mujahid, is to protect the interests of Palestinians and to ensure the stability for the people.

Nightly invasions throughout the West Bank terrorize residents
Palestine News Network 6/27/2008
Ramallah / PNN -- Israeli forces again invaded cities within the West Bank pre-dawn Friday. Military vehicles burst into Ramallah and neighboring Al Bireh cities, into Jenin’s town of Harthiya, Nablus City and its Al Ein Refugee Camp. It was an ugly morning for hundreds of Palestinians who awoke to the explosions of doors being blown open, the shouts of Israeli soldiers through megaphones and loudspeakers, the unmistakable sound of military jeeps. JeninIn the northern West Bank’s town of Harthiya, Israeli forces broke into the homes of 22 year old Lufti Zayyoud and 45 year old Mohammad Mahmoud Moussa. Waking their families and dragging them outside, Israeli soldiers also destroyed the contents of the homes while searching them for undisclosed property. Both were taken away in blindfolds and handcuffs.

Israeli army invades Jenin, Ramallah, Al-Bereh and Nablus and kidnaps three
Laila Ewaiwi & other Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 6/27/2008
Earlier today the Israeli army kidnapped three Palestinian civilians during its invasion of the following West Bank cities: Jenin, Ramallah, Al-Bereh and Nablus. In the early hours of the morning, The Israeli army kidnapped, 22 year old Mo’az Lotfi Zibod and 45 year old Mahmud Mossa from the village of Seleh west of Jenin after searching thier homes. The Israeli Army kidnapped Sameh Barghoti after stopping his car near Birood bridge near the city of Slood near Ramallah. Also, at the break of dawn today the Israeli troops invaded Ramallah and al-Bereh. Local sources stated that the invasion started at 2:00am and ended 3:10 am, no kidnappings were reported. Both the city of Nablus and ’Ain Biet al Ma’ refugee camp were invaded by Israeli troops, without kidnapping any of its civilians.

Israeli forces detain two from the town of As Sawahira ash Sharqiya
Ma’an News Agency 6/27/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an - Israeli forces detained two men from As Sawahira ash Sharqiya, a town southeast of Jerusalem on Friday. Eyewitnesses reported seeing five Israeli military vehicles storme the town, where they launched an extensive campaign of raids on the homes of local citizens. Ahmed Ali Abdel-Kader Khalayla, 21, and Shaher Mohammed Shaher Mhashahra, 23, were detained and taken to an unknown location. Another eyewitness reported that the Israeli forces then searched the homes of the detainees, causing damages to both home and furniture. [end]

Israeli forces detain Palestinian from village near Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 6/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli soldiers seized 19-year-old Muhammad Ghazi Salah from his home in the village of Dar Salah, east of Bethlehem, at dawn on Friday. His family reported by phone to Ma’an that Israeli forces stormed their home in Dar Salah and ransacked its contents, before detaining Muhammad and taking him to an unknown destination. [end]

Israeli forces detain 2 Palestinians in Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 6/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Israeli forces detained two Palestinians from Bethlehem, early on Friday morning. Security sources said that Israeli troops stormed the town and siezed 25-year-old Fadi Mohammad Ali Salahfrom the village of Al-Shawawrah and 19-year-old Ahmad Ghazi Ismail from the village of Dar-Salah east of the city. [end]

Leftists, rightists clash near Baruch Goldstein’s grave
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 6/27/2008
Breaking the Silence activists’ tour of Kiryat Arba, Hebron cut short due to "˜warm welcome’ from right-wing activists - Once again, violence ensues between left-wing activists and settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron. On Friday morning, adjacent to Baruch Goldstein’s grave in Kiryat Arba, clashes occurred between right-wing activists and members of the "Breaking the Silence " left-wing group, who arrived in the area after receiving police approval. The rightists, including Itamar Ben Gvir, Baruch Marzel and Noam Federman, screamed "provacateurs, Jewish blood is on your hands. "  Breaking the Silence activists arrived in the area on a tour of Kiryat Arba and Hebron guided by Yehuda Shaul. When they arrived at the grave of murderer Baruch Goldstein in Kiryat Arba, dozens of right-wing activists and settlers crowded around them and asked to prevent the continuation of their tour.

Karni crossing open but all others closed; both sides reconsider truce
Ma’an News Agency 6/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Minister of Defense Ehud Barak announced the opening of Karni crossing, a cargo route between Israel and the Gaza Strip, Friday morning. The rest of the crossings, however, will remain closed. The decision came during a meeting between Barak and Deputy Minister of Defense Matan Vilani, and will see the continued closure of all crossings which the terms of truce would have seen opened by Friday. Israeli press has reported that due to the firing of rockets only the Karni crossing will be opened, to be used strictly for the import of limited quantities of fuel to the Gaza Strip. Political sources in Jerusalem are saying that it is just a matter of time before the end of the truce is declared. Vice Premier and Minister in the Prime Minister’s office responsible for state policy Haim Ramon said that the Israeli government will be taking time to rethink the truce agreement.

An-Nasser brigades committed to Gaza truce, condemn Israeli violations
Ma’an News Agency 6/27/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Abu ’Ataya, spokesperson for the An-Nasser Salah Addin Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), affirmed on Friday that the brigades are committed to the decision of the PRC political leadership to abide by the truce. In a press statement, Abu ’Ataya added that the An-Nasser Brigades are committed to the ceasefire as long as the Israelis observe it. If Israeli forces continue to violate the truce, he said that the resistance will be forced to review it and reassess ways to achieve Palestinian national interests whilst maintaining the state of national consensus and agreement. He clarified that the brigades’ surveillance units are continuing to monitor Israeli attacks and violations that threaten the ceasefire agreement around the clock. Abu ’Ataya affirmed that the brigades reserve the right to respond to Israeli attacks and ceasefire. . .

Haniyeh: All Palestinian factions should honor truce
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 6/27/2008
Ismail Haniyeh calls on all Palestinian groups in Gaza to maintain ceasefire several hours after two mortar shells fired at Israel; Hamas leader says Palestinians accepted truce in order to lift Gaza siege - Hamas wants quiet in Gaza:Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called Friday on Palestinian factions to adhere to the Gaza Strip lull agreement with Israel. "The factions and the people accepted the lull in order to secure two interests - an end to aggression and the lifting of the siege. Therefore, we hope that everyone honors this national agreement," he said following Friday prayers. Earliar Friday, two mortar shells were fired at Israel from the northern Gaza Strip. One landed near Kibbutz Kfar Aza in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, and the second one hit an open area. There were no reports of injuries or damage in the latest violation of the fragile ceasefire.

Said Seyam: the truce was a result of consensus between factions
Palestinian Information Center 6/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian Interior Minister in the Haneyya government in Gaza said that there was consensus between Palestinian resistance factions with regard to the truce and hoped that the consensus will make it hold. In an interview with the Arabic satellite chanel al-Jazeera, Seyam said that we did not impose the truce on anyone and we reject the use of power to impose it, adding that his government told Egypt, during the negotiations, that it was necessary for all the effective Palestinian resistance factions to agree to the truce and that is what took place. He added that in the past [during Mahmoud Abbas’s control of the Gaza Strip], truce used to be imposed by force, including confiscation of resistance weapons and detention of resistance fighters and rejected comparisons between what the present government in Gaza is doing and what used to take place in the past [when. . .

Two projectiles launched at western Negev
Ma’an News Agency 6/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Two Palestinian-launched projectiles landed in the western Negev on Friday morning, Israeli press sources said. The sources said that one landed near Kibbutz Kfar Aza in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, and the second hit an open area. No casualties were reported. No Palestinian faction has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. The truce between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip that came into effect on 19 June is looking increasingly fragile with both sides claiming violations have been committed. According to the reported terms of the truce, Israel agreed to allow more vital supplies into Gaza. On Friday morning the Karni crossing, which is the main commercial crossing into the coastal sector, was opened to allow limited quantities of fuel into the territory but the other crossings remain closed.

Al-Aqsa Brigades affirm statements made by ''Abu Qusay'' claiming Thursday attacks
Ma’an News Agency 6/27/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – On Friday afternoon the Al-Aqsa Brigades confirmed the statement of "Abu Qusay" who claimed the Thursday projectile launch as an Al-Aqsa Brigades action. This new information contradicts reports from early Friday, which condemned "Abu Qusay" for delivering false information, and banned him from the Brigades. The latest information holds that Qusay’s claim of responsibility for the Thursday attacks is accurate. An Al-Aqsa Brigades spokesman told Ma’an Friday afternoon that the launch of projectiles on Thursday was meant as a message for Israel that the Palestinian resistance will not stand idle before the Israeli aggression towards Palestinians. Statements from the Brigades received by Ma’an declared that that the truce should be renegotiated to include the West Bank in order to end the aggression of Israeli forces against the Palestinians.

Mortar shells land near southern kibbutz
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 6/27/2008
Violations of ceasefire in Gaza vicinity continue: Palestinians fire two mortars into Israel on Friday morning. One lands near Kfar Aza; no injuries or damage reported - Ongoing fire: Two mortar shells were fired from the northern Gaza Strip into Israel on Friday morning. One landed near Kibbutz Kfar Aza in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, and the second one hit an open area. There were no reports of injuries or damage. Kfar Aza resident Jimmy Kdoshim, 48, waskilled about a month and a half ago after being hit by a mortar shell. On Thursday afternoon, a Qassam rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, exploding near a gas station in an open area in Sderot’s industrial zone. There were no injuries. The al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Fatah’s military wing, claimed responsibility for firing the rocket.

Mortars, closures disrupt shaky Gaza Strip truce
Nidal al-Mughrabi, ReliefWeb 6/27/2008
GAZA, June 27 (Reuters) - Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired two mortar shells into southern Israel on Friday in the latest challenge to a ceasefire deal and the enclave’s Islamist Hamas rulers, who appealed to all factions to abide by the deal. The shells landed in a farming community near the border with the Gaza Strip, causing no casualties, an Israeli police spokesman said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the cross-border fire, the fourth such incident since the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire began on June 19. Israel has kept border crossings used to bring humanitarian and commercial supplies into the Gaza Strip closed since Wednesday, after a cross-border rocket attack by the Islamic Jihad militant group. Israel allowed fuel to reach the territory’s sole power station on Friday.

Haniyeh advocates respect for truce
Ma’an News Agency 6/27/2008
[Ma’anImages] Gaza – Ma’an – Isma’il Haniyeh, head of the Hamas-led de facto government in Gaza, demanded on Friday that Palestinian factions commit to the truce negotiated for the Gaza Strip. During his regular statements after the Friday noon prayers in Gaza City, Haniyeh said that since both "the factions and the Palestinians have accepted the truce," it should be respected in order "to achieve two interests: stopping the Israeli attacks and lifting the siege. "He added that he hopes all the factions will respect the decisions of this national consensus. [end]

Israel keeps Gaza goods crossings closed
Middle East Online 6/27/2008
TEL AVIV - Israel kept commercial goods crossings into the Gaza Strip closed for another day Friday, Israeli officials said. "The Karni and Sufa crossings remain closed, but the Nahal Oz fuel crossing is open," Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner said. On Thursday Palestinian fighters linked to Fatah – rivals of Hamas - fired two rockets, one of which landed in a field near the hard-hit southern Israeli town of Sderot without causing any injuries or damage. The attack was claimed by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed group linked to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, whose forces were driven from Gaza when Hamas seized power there over a year ago. Hamas criticised the attack, accusing "parties in Ramallah" -- the West Bank town where Abbas’s government is based -- of ordering the strike to help Israel maintain its blockade of the territory.

Libya seeking UN condemnation of Israeli settlement building
Shlomo Shamir, Ha’aretz 6/28/2008
United Nations Security Council member Libya on Friday presented a document to the UN calling for "an immediate and complete end" to the building and expansion of West Bank settlements. The document was presented by Libya shortly after the Security Council held their monthly meeting on the Middle East and a hearing on the document will be held no earlier than the middle of next week. The document was authored by the Arab League and Saudi Arabia and harshly criticizes Israel for its settlement policy in the West Bank. The Arab League delayed the issuing of the document until Friday, out of a desire to wait until the end of June when the United States will be replaced as Security Council president by Vietnam. Related articles:Libyan UN envoy: Gaza situation worse than Nazi camps Israel says Libya unworthy of seat on UN Security. . .

Group of Eight condemns Mideast violence, Israeli settlement building
Daily Star 6/28/2008
The Group of Eight powers on Friday called on all sides to avoid undermining Middle East peace talks, and denounced acts of violence and Israeli settlement building. Foreign ministers of the G8 - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US - voiced support for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and the "road map" plan paving the way for a Palestinian state. "We call on all parties to refrain from any action that would undermine the negotiations and to implement their road-map obligations," the G8 foreign ministers said in a statement after two days of talks in Kyoto, Japan. They said the obligations included "freezing all settlement activities and ending all acts of violence, terrorism and incitement. "Israeli authorities said earlier this month that they had approved a plan to build 40,000 new homes in Occupied Jerusalem over the next 10 years, including in. . .

Arabs want UN to condemn West Bank construction
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 6/27/2008
Libya asks Security Council to condemn Israeli construction in east Jerusalem, settlements - WASHINGTON - Arab states against Israel: Libya, acting on behalf of Arab states, has asked the United Nations Security Council to condemn Israeli construction in east Jerusalem and the territories and demand that Israel end its construction efforts in the settlements. Arab representatives were apparently encouraged by what they heard from many UN missions, including the Europeans, upset at Israel’s plans to continue building in the West Bank, in contradiction to the Road Map and to the International Quartet’s stance. Notably, the United States usually used its veto power against anti-Israel decisions by the Security Council. Earlier this week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy also voiced his objection to Israeli construction, referring to settlement expansion and construction in east Jerusalem as "bad decisions.

Real, but fragile, progress in Middle East on several fronts; Gaza calm requires full respect by all, improved socio-economic conditions, Security Council hears
United Nations Security Council, ReliefWeb 6/27/2008
Welcoming the ceasefire in Gaza and the continuation of commitments made at the Annapolis conference, Lisa Buttenheim, Director of the Asia-Pacific Division of the Department of Political Affairs, told the Security Council today that there was progress in the Middle East on several fronts, though it remained fragile. ‘To turn these fragile, but real opportunities into genuine progress, the bilateral negotiations need to find common ground on the core issues,’ Ms. Buttenheim told the 15-Member body as she gave the regular monthly briefing on the situation in the region. Measures to support the Palestinian Authority and economy in the West Bank must be intensified by donors fulfilling pledges for budgetary support, by Israel easing closure, and other measures, she said, adding that Road Map obligations needed to be acted upon, particularly an Israeli settlement freeze.

Secretary-General appoints Ronald Bettauer of United States to Board of UN Register of Damage Caused by Construction of Wall in Occupied Palestinian Territory
United Nations Secretary-General, ReliefWeb 6/27/2008
In compliance with the provisions of General Assembly resolution A/RES/ES‑10/17 (2007), Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has decided to appoint, in his personal capacity, Ronald J. Bettauer ( United States) as one of the three members of the Board of the United Nations Register of Damage Caused by the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Mr. Bettauer, a prominent international expert in all aspects of damage claims processing and registration, will replace Michael Raboin, who died tragically in April. The Board is expected to pursue its mandated work next month in a meeting at the Register of Damage’s Headquarters in Vienna. [end]

Fatah permitted to hold elections, de facto Interior Ministry says
Ma’an News Agency 6/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Interior Ministry of the de facto Hamas-lead government in Gaza announced on Friday that it will allow Fatah to conduct elections throughout the Gaza Strip. In a statement received by Ma’an, the Interior Ministry said that the gesture of allowing elections "shows that the government gives full freedom to all factions. "At the same time, however, the statement cautioned Fatah against any "excesses while the elections take place. " The statement added that the Interior Ministry hopes that "all factions abide by the law and help maintain public order" during any coming elections. Fatah spokesman Fahmi Az-Za’arir commented on the decision, saying: "The Fatah movement considers Hamas as an illegitimate authority that does not have the right to prevent or allow any activities by any Palestinian faction.

Palestinian security official: important spy rings were dismantled
Palestinian Information Center 6/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- A high ranking Palestinian security official in Gaza said that Palestinian security dismantled a number of very dangerous spy rings that were operating in the Gaza Strip. He said that some of the agents affiliated with those rings tried to carry out assassinations, kidnappings and recruitment. In an interview with PIC, the official said that the Israeli intelligence tried to use their agents in Gaza to form groups that work in the name of Fatah to cause further strife in the Strip, adding that the agents tried to infiltrated other organizations with the same aim. He added that the opening of the collaborators’ file with such vigor did upset the plans of the Israeli occupation intelligence and uncovered some of their plans. The high ranking official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for security reasons, said that most of the attempts to bring back the state. . .

PCHR Weekly Report: 3 Palestinians killed, 18 wounded
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/27/2008
In its weekly summary of Israeli attacks for the week of 19 - 25 June 2008, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) reports that Israeli forces killed 3 Palestinians, including 2 who were killed in extrajudical assassinations in direct violation of international law and signed agreements. In addition, 18 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli forces in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including 12 injured during an Israeli invasion of Ne’lin village. Israeli attacks in the West Bank:In the West Bank, Israeli forces killed 2 Palestinians and wounded 13 others, including 5 children, during the last week. Israeli forces conducted 36 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 36 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, the widest of which was into Qalqilya.

IOF kill 3 Palestinians and wound 18 in one week
Palestinian Information Center 6/27/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- IOF troops killed 3 Palestinians and wounded 18 others, 5 of them children and 2 of them elderly people in the week 19th June to 25 June, according to a weekly report published by the Palestinian centre for human rights. Two of the Palestinians killed were extra-judicially executed by IOF in Nablus on 24th June, after the truce in Gaza came into effect on 19th June. One of those assasinated was "a commander of the a prominent activist of the al-Quds Brigades (the armed wing of Islamic Jihad) and a university student," according to the report. The other was also a university student and an Islamic Bloc activist at the university. The third is a Palestinian activist who was killed in Gaza when an IOF aircraft fired a missile at a group of activists, just one hour before the truce interred into force.

This Week In Palestine - Week 26 2008
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 6/27/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 13 m 0s || 11. 9 MB ||This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www. IMEMC. org, for June 21st, through June 27th, 2008. Egyptian-mediated talks between the Palestinians and Israelis continue in Cairo as the truce deal between Israel and the Palestinians is in jeopardy. These stories and more, coming up, stay tuned. Nonviolent Resistance We begin our weekly report with recent nonviolent actions in the West Bank. IMEMC’s Sam Digel has the details: Bil’in On Friday, villagers from Bil’in, located near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, marched in their weekly nonviolent protest against the illegal Israeli wall built on the village’s land. They were supported by international and Israeli peace activists. Protesters carried banners demanding the removal of the Israeli wall. . .

UN: Golan observer force’s mandate extended
Ynet, YNetNews 6/27/2008
Security Council unanimously adopts resolution to renew mandate of UN Disengagement Observer Force by six more months - The United Nations Security Council unanimously extended Friday the United Nations observer force on the Golan Heights by another six months. The UN forcers have been observing the ceasefire between Israel and Syria on the Golan for more than 30 years. In the unanimously adopted resolution, the Security Council decided to renew the mandate of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) until 31 December 2008. The decision follows the recommendation of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. In his latest report on the observer force’s activities, Mr. Ban said the situation on the Israel-Syria border has remained generally quiet. At the same time, "the situation in the Middle East is tense and is likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive. . .

PMO: Cabinet vote on Hezbollah prisoner swap may be delayed
Amos Harel Barak Ravid Avi Issacharoff and Yuval Azoulay and, Ha’aretz 6/28/2008
The cabinet will apparently not vote on 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. The cabinet will only discuss the deal, despite Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s public vow at the Knesset podium last week to achieve a decision on the matter. A senior official at the prime minister’s office said Thursday that "the aim is to make a decision, but that may not be possible, because ministers will ask for more time to think, or because we may not have all the information before us.

Halutz says Israel must free Kuntar
Ynet, YNetNews 6/27/2008
Former IDF chief of staff backs prisoner swap deal with Hizbullah in interview with Yedioth Ahronoth. ’In returning the soldiers we must act from the Jewish place by redeeming prisoners,’ he says. Halutz clarifies, however, that ’the two kidnapped soldiers are no longer alive’ - Former IDF Chief Staff Dan Halutz has expressed his firm support for a prisoner swap deal with Hizbullah, which would include the release of murdererSamir Kuntar in exchange for kidnapped soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. "I believe unequivocally that we must carry out the deal, including the release of Samir Kuntar," Halutz said in an interview with Nahum Barnea published Friday in Yedioth Ahronoth. Halutz’s predecessor, former IDF Chief Moshe Yaalon, said several days ago that when the price is too heavy "we may say that we are willing to sacrifice the hostage.

Regev’s brother worried captives will be declared dead before cabinet vote
Jerusalem Post 6/27/2008
By Print Subscribe E-mail Toolbar Share article:What’s this? Ofer Regev, whose brother Eldad was kidnapped along with Ehud Goldwasser by Hizbullah terrorists in July 2006, said Friday that he was worried that the two would be declared fallen soldiers before Sunday’s cabinet meeting. On Sunday, the cabinet is due to vote on a deal for the release of Regev and Goldwasser, or their remains, for Hizbullah prisoners currently being held by Israel. Regev, who expressed his concerns in an interview to Channel 1, said he didn’t believe that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would vote against the deal. [end]

Deal with Barak saved Olmert’s job for now, but public remains unconvinced
Peter Hirschberg, Daily Star 6/28/2008
Inter Press Service OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Embattled Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert won yet another reprieve this week, just hours before Parliament was set to vote to dissolve itself in a move that would almost certainly have led to new elections and Olmert’s ouster from office. But the prime minister’s latest escape had a price: to head off the threat of early elections Olmert was forced to agree to a leadership run-off in his ruling centrist Kadima party by no later than September 25. The premier’s accession to this demand by Labor Party leader and Defense Minister Ehud Barak meant that Labor withdrew its backing for a bill that would have set in motion the disbanding of Parliament and would have likely led to early elections. The Olmert-Barak deal, which was concluded in late-night negotiations mid-week, means that Olmert’s government remains intact for now, and ensures there will not be a general election this year.

Report: IDF pressuring religious girls to enlist
Kobi Nahshoni, YNetNews 6/27/2008
Right-wing weekly reports army no longer accepting of girls’ claims they are religious, even when backed by rabbinate statements. MK Ariel: Religious community won’t put up with this; in any case, women’s enlistment harmful to society - The right-wing weekly Besheva reported Thursday that the Israel Defense Forces has recently toughened its stance on the issue of enlistment of young religious women, and the secretaries at the recruitment offices are no longer accepting the religious statements given to girls by the local rabbinates with the previous ease. According to the report, the army is attempting to persuade the girls to enlist "using appeals and emotional pressure. " Tzurit Shmuel, an 11th grade student at the Beit Shlomit Ulpana in Jerusalem, described a verbal confrontation that took place between her and the secretary who took care of her file at the enlistment office.

Israeli strike on Iran not likely - local analysts
Michael Bluhm, Daily Star 6/28/2008
Analysis BEIRUT: The past week’s spate of signals that Israel might be preparing a strike against Iranian nuclear targets - an attack which would almost certainly provoke a wave of retaliation engulfing Hizbullah and Lebanon in regional conflict - amounts to nothing more than posturing to prod the West in negotiations with the Islamic Republic, a number of analysts toldThe Daily Star. The New York Times reported on June 20 that Israel had carried out military maneuvers simulating a long-range bombing run and attendant rescue operations, but internal political considerations in Israel, the US and Iran’s Arab neighbors augur against such a strike, with the show of force designed instead to push the US and European to move more forcefully against Iran’s nuclear program, the analysts said. "This is part of Israeli pressure on the US and the world community," said Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center.

3 female paramedics save lives in Gaza
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 6/27/2008
Three young women tell Ynet about their remarkable army service in Gaza Strip - Only a select few know, but amongst the hundreds of Israeli combat soldiers participating in military operations in the Gaza Strip are three female solders. After long years where girls were prohibited from entering battle zones, it was decided to include female paramedics alongside the males serving on the frontlines. This, however, was under the condition that they would never step foot in enemy territories. The solution is that Zohar, Mor and Bat El never step out of the armored vehicles transporting them into Gaza, not even for a minute. Israel doesn’t believe in the Gaza ceasefire, but it’s unable to decide on a large-scale strike in the Strip and needs some quiet time in the south.

Al-Aqsa Brigades affirm their committment to truce
Ma’an News Agency 6/27/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Fatah’s Al-Aqsa brigades on Friday affirmed their commitment to the truce but said they will respond if Israel violates the truce. The brigades said in a statement that the launching of projectiles as a response to Israeli violations of the truce "does not serve the national interest. " The brigades called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to mobilise Arab and international efforts to ensure Palestinian rights to a life of dignity. They also applauded the president efforts to maintain the truce in the Gaza Strip. [end]

Rival leaders hint that Beirut will have new unity cabinet within days - or not
Hussein Abdallah, Daily Star 6/28/2008
BEIRUT: An air of optimism surrounded consultations aimed at forming a new cabinet in Lebanon on Friday, as Prime Minister-designate Fouad Siniora met at the Grand Serail with a senior official of the opposition Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), Gibran Bassil. Bassil reportedly delivered FPM leader Michel Aoun’s response to Siniora’s proposal on which portfolios to allocate to the retired general’s bloc. Bassil said after the meeting that a number of solutions are being examined. Earlier news reports said that Aoun had been offered a "sovereign post" instead of a sovereign ministry. The offer reportedly presented by Siniora gives Aoun a minister of state holding the post of deputy premier together with the Justice Ministry and three other portfolios. But the Hizbullah-owned Al-Manar television said on Friday that Aoun was offered the post of deputy premier and was asked to choose. . .

Italian peacekeeping unit has long history
Mohammed Zaatari, Daily Star 6/28/2008
SOUTH LEBANON: In 1836, when Italian General Alessandro La Marmora formed the Bersaglieri to serve as an elite, highly mobile fighting unit in his army, the general could hardly have imagined the role they would one day play on the far side of the Mediterranean. But on Friday, the Bersaglieri regiment, which forms the Italian contingent of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), held a ceremony in the southern village of Maarakeh to mark the 172nd anniversary of its establishment. Among those in attendance were Italian Ambassador Gabriel Checchia, UNIFIL commander Major General Claudio Graziano, Italian commander General Vincenzo Iannuccelli and a number of UNIFIL officers and representatives of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Internal Security Forces. Local mayors and mukhtars also observed the ceremony.

G8 calls on Iran to act in ’more responsible’ manner
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 6/28/2008
KYOTO, Japan: Group of Eight foreign ministers urged Iran on Friday to suspend uranium enrichment and "act in a more responsible and constructive manner in the region," a call quickly dismissed in Tehran as double-speak. The industrial powers - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States - said they "strongly urge" Iran to cooperate fully with the UN International Atomic Energy Agency. "We also urge Iran to act in a more responsible and constructive manner in the region, particularly in the context of the Middle East peace process and the stability of Iraq and Afghanistan," said a statement issued after talks in Japan. Western powers have been ramping up pressure on Iran for refusing to suspend sensitive uranium enrichment, a process which can be used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons.

Rafsanjani to West: You’re small, Iran is large
AFP, YNetNews 6/27/2008
Tehran unimpressed by latest calls for suspension of uranium enrichment; ex-President Rafsanjani tells G8 ’this type of doublespeak will not help you"¦you are too small to use this type of language. Iran is a large country. ’ - Group of Eight foreign ministers urged Iran on Friday to suspend uranium enrichment, a call dismissed in Tehran as doublespeak. Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani slammed what he called the "doublespeak" approach of the superpowers, saying it would lead to failure. "Today in Japan the members of the G8 group have adopted another resolution to apply a carrot and stick policy," he said in a Friday prayers speech in Tehran broadcast over state radio. "This type of doublespeak will not help you and will not lead to a solution" to the nuclear problem, he said, addressing the Western powers.

Donors pledge aid to Palestinian police, judiciary
IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 6/27/2008
RAMALLAH, 27 June 2008 (IRIN) - Palestinian police officers in the West Bank have reason to be optimistic, after donors at a conference in Berlin pledged US$242 million in aid to help reform civil security forces and the judiciary. "As soon as the money from the donors comes in, we will know exactly what to do with it," Adnan Damiri, a Palestinian police spokesman, told IRIN, adding that the Palestinian Authority had many projects it wanted to implement. The main focus, Damiri said, will be training and the building of police stations, "so we can better serve the citizens". The police were severely affected by Israeli military operations during the second `intifada’, or uprising, which began in September 2000: Police stations were damaged, and equipment, including cars and communication devices, were destroyed or confiscated by the Israeli military.

Mothers call for Gilad Shalit’s release
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 6/27/2008
Dozens of women hold rally at Erez crossing, urging government ’to do everything’ in order to free kidnapped IDF soldier - Dozens of mothers and women held a rally at the Erez crossing near the Gaza Strip on Friday morning, calling for the release of kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit. The women held signs reading "Mothers for Gilad Shalit" and "Let Gilad Shalit’s sun shine. "They made their way to the crossing in a convoy of cars carrying yellow ribbons. The group members said that they are not part of a feministic or political movement. "We are backed by fathers and other parents, who deeply identify with what is happening to Gilad Shalit. " The group was organized by Madi Cohen and Israela Shidlov of Moshav Kidron, near Gdera. The group members plan to hold similar rallies calling for Shalit’s release in central junctions across the country every week.

Negotiations for a prisoner exchange deal underway
Palestinian Information Center 6/27/2008
There are about 400 Palestinian children in Israeli occupation jails NAZARETH, (PIC)-- The Israeli coordinator for negotiating the release of Israeli captive soldiers, Ofer Dekel, Thursday evening, met in Cairo with the Egyptian intelligence chief General Omar Sulaiman to discuss a prisoner exchange deal with the Palestinian resistance. Israeli radio reported on Friday morning Dekel’s visit to Egypt and quoted sources in Cairo that Dekel was carrying with him the Israeli response to Hamas’s proposed exchange deal. The sources described the negotiations as serious and said that the negotiations are concentrated on the categories of Palestinian captives who could be released, adding that General Omar Sulaiman is due to meet with the Hamas negotiating team next week. Meanwhile, Haaretz newspaper reported on Friday that Yuval Diskin, chief of the Shin Bet, the Israeli domestic. . .

Shabak head approves exile for Palestinian prisoners
Ma’an News Agency 6/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Israeli press sources said that the head of Shabak, the Israeli General Security Services (GSS), Yofal Diskin has approved the release of a number of Palestinian detainees, alleged to have been involved in the killing of Israelis. Under Diskin’s proposal, which is part of the prisoner exchange deal with Hamas, the detainees will be deported from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip or abroad. Diskin’s proposal is supported by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s representative for the return of kidnapped soldiersOfer Dekel, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi. Forty-two Palestinians were deported from the West Bank after a 2002 standoff between the Israeli army and Palestinian resistance fighters in the Nativity Church in Bethlehem. 28 were exiled to the Gaza Strip and 14 to Europe.

30 mothers hold rally for Gilad Shalit at Erez crossing
Yuval Azoulay and Fadi Eyadat, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
A group of some 30 mothers of past or current Israel Defense Forces soldiers gathered at the Erez border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip on Friday, calling for the release of captive IDF 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. The demonstration dispersed when two mortar shells, fired from the Strip, exploded within Israeli territory in the Sha’ar Hanegev regional council. The mothers, carrying yellow ribbons, embarked in a procession from Kidron toward the Erez crossing where they staged a demonstration. One of the mothers, a resident of Kidron, said in an interview to Army Radio: "We think that this is a window of opportunity and we must take advantage of it.

No more permits for used Israeli vehicles in Palestinian terriories
Ma’an News Agency 6/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian Minister of Transportation Dr. Mashhour Abu Daqqa announced Friday the decision to stop granting permits to Palestinians who wish to bring used Israeli vehiclesinto the Palestinian territories. Dr. Akram Al-’Awawdeh the head of Ministry of Transportation said in a statement Friday that the decision came after the passing of Resolution No. 58,which will put a stop to the issuing of permits for vehicles (most often used taxis) brought in to Palestinian territories from Israel for either public or commercial use. The reasoning behind the bill, says Al-’Awadeh, is to encourage the purchase of vehicles from the local market. The market, Al-’Awawdeh explained, is being swamped with the regular introduction of used Israeli taxis. A more stable market, he says, will make the organization and regulation of trade simpler, and will help especially at Tarqumyah. . .


Israel’s dead end
Jonathan Cook, Al-Ahram Weekly 6/26/2008
      Zionist dreams of clearing "Greater Israel" of all Palestinians continue to be played out via insidious and violent means, but they won’t be realised, writes In 1895, Theodor Herzl, Zionism’s chief prophet, confided in his diary that he did not favour sharing Palestine with the natives. Better, he wrote, to "try to spirit the penniless [Palestinian] population across the border by denying it any employment in our own country... Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly."
     He was proposing a programme of Palestinian emigration enforced through a policy of strict separation between Jewish immigrants and the indigenous population. In simple terms, he hoped that, once Zionist organisations had bought up large areas of Palestine and owned the main sectors of the economy, Palestinians could be made to leave by denying them rights to work the land or labour in the Jewish-run economy. His vision was one of transfer, or ethnic cleansing, through ethnic separation.
     Herzl was suggesting that two possible Zionist solutions to the problem of a Palestinian majority living in Palestine -- separation and transfer -- were not necessarily alternatives but rather could be mutually reinforcing. Not only that: he believed, if they were used together, the process of ethnic cleansing could be made to appear voluntary, the choice of the victims. It may be that this was both his most enduring legacy and his major innovation to settler colonialism.

A village fighting for survival

International Womens’ Peace Service 6/22/2008
      This week IWPS volunteers visited the small village of Al Aqaba in the Jordan Valley. The village falls into Area C as designated under the Oslo Agreement, so is under full Israeli administrative and security control. The existence of the village is under threat as the Israeli government have issued demolition orders on 73% of its buildings and have banned the construction of any more buildings in the village. It is thought that the Israeli government wants to use the land belonging to the village to expand existing military training bases that currently surround the village. Approximately 700 people have left the village as a result of Israeli activities in the area leaving a current population of 295.
     Following Israel’s occupation of Al Aqaba in 1967, three military training bases were established in the immediate vicinity of the village. One base has been evacuated as a result of a legal challenge by the village, but two remain. The military uses helicopters, tanks, heavy vehicles and live ammunition in the immediate vicinity of the village. To date 50 people have been killed or injured during Israeli training exercises on the land farmed by villagers and a number of livestock have been killed.

So as not to be an apartheid state

Amos Schocken, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
      The government’s decision last week to extend the validity of the Citizenship Law (Temporary Order), for another year, is evidence that the legal barriers preventing severe discrimination against Israel’s Arab citizens and harm to their civil rights have been removed.
     This extension is the eighth since the law was first passed in 2003, and it shows just how naive Justice Edmond Levy’s position was when he refused to join in the 2006 decision by five judges from the High Court of Justice, who stated that the law was unconstitutional, that it contravened the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom, and that it must be removed from the law books. Levy explained his refusal by saying that he saw no need to intervene because only two months remained until the law expired. However, at the end of the two months, the law was extended by a year, and now they want to extend it for yet another year.
     Had Levy known that the law’s limited validity was nothing but a deception aimed at preparing a discriminatory and unconstitutional law, there is no doubt he would have joined the five justices’ majority opinion that it was unconstitutional and should be removed. We must hope that the High Court of Justice, when it rules on the new petition submitted against the law after it was extended in 2006, will take into account that the term "temporary provision," which both the government and Knesset take pains to stress, is a deception. We are talking about, in effect, a permanent law.

The bridge and the wall

Meron Benvenisti, Ha’aretz 6/27/2008
      The Strings Bridge, inaugurated two days ago in a giant, spectacular and expensive extravaganza, was not drafted for its modest task, but rather for its aesthetic and symbolic value. After all, those who decided to bridge the modest height difference between Romema and Zion Valley via a quarter-billion-shekel monument did not seriously consider a plan that would cost one-tenth of this.
     The planner of this monument (calling it a "bridge" is a lame excuse) defined its purpose very well: This is a "landmark: a city’s symbol of identity or myth." And indeed, the different opinions about its significance - "secular symbolism," or perhaps the profile of "David’s harp, or a shofar" - its appropriateness to the crowded and neglected urban landscape, financial and other considerations, divert attention from the "landmark" site and its significance for Jerusalem’s urban fabric.
     Santiago Calatrava’s monument was put here because this is, on the face of it, the city’s entrance, so it is in fact a gate, not a bridge. But this gate was built at a time when its city already had fled.

Dramatic pause

Hassan Nafaa, Al-Ahram Weekly 6/26/2008
      While the relief of eased regional tensions is welcome, signs point to an unprecedented upheaval and possible catastrophe ahead.
     Recent weeks have brought a series of unexpected and exciting developments that may just form a turning point in the mode of interactions this region has experienced for so long. Suddenly, after sharp and intensifying polarisations that seemed at times to be propelling the region towards an immanent inferno, the blackened skies have begun to clear, the roar of thunder and flashes of lightening have receded, and one can sniff a freshness in the air as though a new dawn were at hand. Since Lebanon has always served as the riverbed in which regional parties have poured their tensions and refuse, it has naturally become a kind of finely tuned meteorological testing station capable of detecting subtle shifts in regional temperatures, shifts in the direction of winds and even seismological vibrations indicative of benign tremors or impending quakes and volcanic eruptions.
     It was no coincidence that the dormant Lebanese volcano should awake again within a few months of the American invasion and occupation of Iraq. After the US accomplished its immediate aim of toppling the regime and when it became clear to all that it had come to Iraq to stay and that it was not so much interested in Iraq per se but in Iraq as a staging post for executing its plans for redrawing the regional map to suit its post-11 September global enterprise, other world powers, including those that had previously opposed the American invasion and occupation, soon caved in to Washington’s will and ambitions and signalled their readiness to cooperate. No observer of events at the time could escape the conclusion that Washington would soon turn its sights on other regimes and forces hostile to its Middle Eastern policies and that the next phase would naturally require: first, the disarmament of Hizbullah, which could not be accomplished until Syria was ousted from Lebanon; second, giving Israel the go-ahead to destroy Palestinian resistance factions and, if necessary, to eliminate Yasser Arafat; and third and most importantly, slaying the regional serpent, Iran.

What kind of Palestine?

Javier Solana, Al-Ahram Weekly 6/26/2008
      Security and the rule of law must be the cornerstones of a fledgling Palestinian state, writes Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have now been talking to each other for more than six months, since the peace process was re-launched at Annapolis in November 2007, with the stated aim of reaching agreement on a Palestinian state before this year is out. The final status issues of borders, Jerusalem and refugees are back on the agenda and the outlines of a two-state solution are visible. There have been recently some encouraging signals: Egypt has mediated a truce between Hamas and Israel in Gaza, there are signs of inter- Palestinian dialogue and there appears to be movement on the Israeli-Syrian track. We have to grasp the opportunity for peace.
     Comprehensive peace in the Middle East is the strategic goal of the European Union and resolving the Israeli-Arab conflict on the basis of a two-state solution is the key to achieving this. Europe wants, and needs, to see the creation of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel. For this, the foundations and the structures of a Palestinian state have to be created and this is where the European Union is playing a distinctive role. It is leading international efforts to assist the Palestinians with their state-building efforts under a major strategy adopted by the EU last year. An important part of this strategy is devoted to developing security and the rule of law, which are the cornerstones of the fledgling Palestinian state and the theme of a large international conference of foreign ministers hosted in Berlin on 24 June. This conference aims to secure the finance needed to implement a civil police and criminal justice package over the coming year as part of the international community’s efforts to help the Palestinians with their Reform and Development Plan.

Nonie Darwish and the al-Bureij massacre

Jim Holstun, Electronic Intifada 6/26/2008
      StandWithUs is a Zionist advocacy group in Los Angeles. It concentrates on US colleges and universities, offering fellowships, book donations, lectures, training and hands-on activism. I first heard about the group in 2005, after its Executive Director, Roz Rothstein, wrote my university’s president, provost and Arts and Sciences dean to warn them that I was teaching courses in Palestinian culture. She passed along some hysterical libels from anonymous community members (not my students), gave a detailed critique of my syllabuses, encouraged them to investigate me and two other colleagues, and helpfully suggested a few questions they might want to ask.
     StandWithUs manages an impressive stable of Zionist speakers, including several who are Arabs, Muslims, or ex-Muslims: Brigitte Gabriel, Ishmael Khaldi, Walid Shoebat, Khaled Abu Toameh, and Nonie Darwish. Darwish, born an Egyptian Muslim, now an American Evangelical Christian, is one of the most energetic. She manages the website Arabs for Israel and has appeared on FOX News, on the website Frontpage Magazine, and in the film Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West. She is also the author of Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror. Penguin Books publishes it under its Sentinel imprint -- a special line of conservative titles. Since her book’s publication in 2006, Darwish has toured extensively, speaking primarily at colleges and universities.

You Don’t Mess With the Racism

Remi Kanazi, Middle East Online 6/26/2008
      What we are to believe by watching this film is that if everyone would just stop ‘hating’, Israelis and Palestinians could effortlessly live together in harmony. But ‘hate’ has little to do with a conflict rooted in a people’s desire for basic human rights and an end to oppression.
     I love Adam Sandler. From Billy Madison to Happy Gilmore to the Chanukah Song, the predecessor of the Superbad generation has effortlessly conquered the domain of slapstick comedy and inappropriate jokes. But damn you Scuba Steve! If you’re going to propagate misinformation about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, do it quietly—or at least in your non-comedic life.
     You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, Sandler’s new flick, takes Hollywood chicanery and stereotypes that denigrate Arabs to an unprecedented level—surpassing hit flicks like the Kingdom, the Siege, and every Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chuck Norris movie that came before it. I group Zohan with other shamelessly racist action movies because a film should at least be minutely funny to be categorized as a comedy. For the Sandler diehards and hilarity-loving skeptics, I should clearly state: using race and prejudices to engender laughter is not the problem. Mel Brooks and the creators of South Park exploit stereotypes far beyond anything Sandler has ever done, but unlike Zohan, I don’t think insidious propaganda and underlying racism drive their comedy. After all, if this hebetudinous clunker was just comedy, Sandler and company wouldn’t have, as the New York Times reported, sought out Arab actors to give the movie “legitimacy.” Their search was successful and a few token Arabs showed their presence to innocuously inform the public that it is okay to vilify the crazy towel-headed terrorists once again.