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

VTJP Archives | Newslinks Archives  

1 July 2008

Israel seals off Gaza after unclaimed attack
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/2/2008
GAZA CITY: Israel again sealed off the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Tuesday in what it said was retaliation for a rocket attack the previous day in breach of a truce in and around the impoverished Palestinian enclave. Military authorities closed the three border crossing points that had been used mainly to deliver humanitarian supplies to Gaza since Israel imposed a blockade after Hamas routed rival gunmen in June 2007. It wasn’t immediately clear when border crossings would reopen. "We’ll review the situation at the end of the day and then take a decision," said Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner. On Monday a rocket landed in an open field in southern Israel, causing no damage or casualties, according to Israeli police. No one claimed responsibility for the attack. An Egyptian-mediated truce agreement between Israel and Hamas entails a gradual easing of the blockade, but the. . .

B’Tselem: Grave water shortage in the West Bank
International Solidarity Movement 7/1/2008
Average water consumption in Israel is 3. 5 times that in West Bank - B’Tselem today (Tuesday, 1 July) warned of a grave water shortage this summer in large areas of the West Bank. The shortage will have serious repercussions on the economy and the health of tens of thousands of Palestinians. The chronic water shortage results in large part from Israel’s discriminatory policy in distributing the joint water resources in the West Bank, and the limits it places on the Palestinian Authority’s ability to drill new wells. The shortage will be worse this summer due to the accumulated effects of recent arid years. According to figures of the Palestinian Water Authority, 40-70 million cubic meters are lacking to meet the needs of West Bank Palestinians. Per capita consumption of water in the West Bank now stands at 66 liters a. . .

9-year-old child among 5 hit by rubber bullets in Ni’in anti-wall protest
Ma’an News Agency 7/1/2008
Ramallah - Ma’an- Five protestors, including a 9-year-old child, were shot with rubber bullets by Israeli forces in a peaceful protest against the separation wall in Ni’lin, near Ramallah on Tuesday. The protestors marched throughthe streets of the village towards the land under threat of confiscation for the construction of the wall, shouting slogans. The protest organizers issued a statement saying that protestors tried to prevent military bulldozers from continuing construction. They added that they threw stones, obstructing five bulldozers and a truck carrying rocks in addition to two military jeeps. The organizers added that Israeli forces fired rubber bullets and tear gas bombs at the protest, injuring Mohammad Ali Dabbous, Mohammad Walid Al-Khawaja, Ali Fayez Al-Khawaja, Mohammad Ragheb Al-Khawaja and Mohammad Issam Al-Khawaja in addition to a number of others whose. . .

Law forces referendum on territorial withdrawal
Shahar Ilan and Eli Ashkenazi, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
The Knesset yesterday approved the referendum law, which mandates a national referendum or a two-thirds Knesset majority prior to any withdrawal from territory under Israeli control. The law was approved in its first reading by a majority of 65 MKs to 18. The vote came as indirect peace talks are underway between Israel and Syria, revolving around the Syrian demand that Israel return the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War, in return for peace. A third round of talks is to begin today. Earlier yesterday, the "Golan Lobby" convened at the Knesset ahead of the vote. The meeting was attended by Deputy Prime Minister and Trade Minister Eli Yishai (Shas), who said that the law is a positive and important measure, though his party generally opposes referenda.

Woman injured by army fire in southern Gaza Strip
Ghassan Bannoura - IMEMc News, International Middle East Media Center News 7/1/2008
A Palestinian woman was shot and injured by Israeli army fire near the Sufa crossing in the southern part of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning. Medical sources reported that 35-year-old Aishah Attayia sustained moderate wounds in her leg and was moved to a nearby hospital for treatment. Witnesses reported that Israeli soldiers manning the borders opened fire without any reason injuring Aishah. On Monday night Israel informed the Egyptian mediators for the truce between Hamas which controls Gaza, and Israel that the Israeli troops will open fire at any Palestinian that approaches close to the borders. The Hamas movement consider this Israeli decision as a violation of the truce.

Palestinians who approach Gaza fence will be shot, says IDF
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
Israel has informed Hamas it will fire "warning shots" at Palestinians who enter an area west of the Gaza Strip border fence, extending for several hundred meters. Egyptian officials told Hamas of the new procedure, which is expected to raise tensions between the two sides. Israel’s representative in truce talks, Amos Gilad, told Egyptian mediators of the decision to declare the area west of the border a "special security zone" and to prevent Palestinians from entering it. The Egyptians informed Hamas, which objects to the plan. Several incidents have occurred near the fence since a cease-fire came into effect on June 19. Earlier this week the United Nations sources reported eight cease-fire violations by Israel. Most of these violations apparently consisted of Israeli troops firing at people who approached the fence.

Palestinians: Settlers fire mortar shells at West Bank village
Avi Issacharoff and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
Palestinian sources reported Tuesday that two makeshift mortar shells were fired from the Bracha settlement toward the Burin Village near Nablus. No injuries were reported. According to the Palestinians, Israel Defense Forces and police officers arrived at the scene to investigate the incident. The Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported Tuesday that the makeshift bombs had the words "Sharon-1" and "Sharon-2" inscribed on them. One of the Palestinian policemen in the village said that the bombs were locally manufactured, and that they struck near the school. About a month ago, a similar incident occurred near Nablus in which settlers fired a makeshift shell into a Palestinian village. No one was hurt. Meanwhile Tuesday, a police representative said during a meeting of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee that. . .

Israeli authorities prevent young musicians from entering Jerusalem for Marcel Khalife Competition
Palestine News Network 7/1/2008
Hiba Lama / PNN - On Tuesday morning musicians slated to participate in the prestigious annual Marcel Khalife Competition were denied entry into Jerusalem. Khalife is most famous for songs adapted from the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish. The musicians, aged 6 to 15 years, were required by the Israeli authorities to have specific permits to enter the city, in addition to general travel permits. Several were unable to compete because the Israelis would not grant them the permits. Presented by the Palestinian Conservatory of Music, the competition is a major event, including several categories such as Eastern, Piano, Strings and Guitar. This year contestants could also compete in a new Arabic Singing Category. Some participants had registered for the competition as early as March. Khalife lives in Paris, but is actually a Lebanese composer, singer and oud player, but is widely considered to be Palestinian.

Israel bars UN rights panel from Palestinian areas
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/2/2008
AMMAN: Israel’s government has barred a UN human rights delegation from visiting the Palestinian areas on a fact-finding mission, the leader of the group said on Tuesday. "Israeli authorities did not allow us to visit the Palestinian territories," said Prasad Kariyawasam, head of the UN panel, adding that "no reasons were given by Israel because they do not recognize our mandate. "Kariyawasam told a news conference in the Jordanian capital, Amman, that despite the ban by the Jewish state, the committee has interviewed Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, and the Occupied West Bank, as well as Occupied East Jerusalem. Some were interviewed by telephone as several witnesses were prevented from traveling to Amman or Cairo, he said. "The international community has a moral and legal obligation to ensure that all international human rights and humanitarian law standards are fully implement at all times," Kariyawasam said.

No health care for 80% of Bedouin women in unrecognized towns
Mijal Grinberg, Ha’aretz 7/1/2008
Four out of five Bedouin women living in villages which lack formal government recognition lack access to health services when they need them, a study by Physicians for Human Rights has determined. The survey, conducted last year, is to be presented to the Knesset’s health lobby on Tuesday, as part of the lawmakers’ discussion on the health status of Bedouin women in unrecognized villages in the Negev. The study examined implementation of rights to water, medical care, housing and other factors among Bedouin women. It showed that the lack of transportation infrastructure in unrecognized villages has caused a situation in which 80 percent of the women there are unable to use the health services provided them for lack of access. This has lowered the level of care during pregnancy, causing expectant women to forego fetal scans.

Special Committee on Israeli Practices concludes visit to Amman
United Nations General Assembly, ReliefWeb 7/1/2008
Amman:Committee Members express serious concern about the continuing deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), in particular the grave situation in the Gaza strip, the strangulation of the economy in the OPT, the impact of the separation wall on all aspects of human rights of Palestinian people, expanding settlements, and the condition of the Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons and detention centres. The three-member Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories is currently carrying out its annual field visit to the region, which began in Egypt and will continue in Syria. While in Jordan, the Special Committee spoke with witnesses of the human rights situation in the OPT and in the occupied Syrian Golan, and continued. . .

Families of detained Palestinian lawmakers rally near Red Cross office
Ma’an News Agency 7/1/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Families of 12 Palestinian lawmakers detained in Israeli jails organized a sit-in near the international Red Cross office in the West Bank city of Hebron on Tuesday, demanding their immediate release. The protest commemorates two years of the Israeli apprehension campaign against 48 Palestinian lawmakers in addition to two former ministers. The families handed over a letter to the Red Cross representative calling on the Red Cross and other humanitarian and international organizations to intervene to secure the release of detained representatives of the Palestinian people from Israeli custody. [end]

Fire engines turned away while Jabara village’s land goes up in flames
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 6/23/2008
Yesterday land belonging to Jabara village in Tulkarem district was destroyed in a serious fire, destroying some 1500 dunums of agricultural land and 5000 olive and almond trees. Occupation forces at the gates in the Wall prevented villagers and fire engines from getting to the scene of the fire in order to extinguish it. Local activists report that Israeli forces or settlers may actually have started the fire, as has happened in the past. Land behind the Wall has frequently been set on fire in recent years, destroying thousands of shekels worth of harvests. The lands destroyed by yesterday’s blaze belong to 27 Palestinian families who earn their living from farming. Tulkarem district suffers from arson perpetrated by settlers and occupation forces throughout the summer period.

The Israeli army injures a resistance leader in Jenin
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/1/2008
The Israeli army injured a Palestinian resistance leader during an army attack on the northern West Bank city of Jenin on Tuesday at dawn. Ala Abu al Rab, the leader of the Islamic Jihad armed wing of the Al Qudes brigades in Jenin sustained moderate wounds in the attack. Local sources stated that an under cover Israeli army unit ambushed Abu Al Rab in Qabatiya town near Jenin, troops opened fire at Abu Al Rob and injured him, but he managed to flee the scene of the attack. Abu al Rab was targeted by the Israeli army several times over the past year, the Islamic Jihad reported. Also on Tuesday morning the Israeli army invaded several West Bank cities and towns, during the attacks Israeli troops kidnapped 10 Palestinian civilians. Local sources reported that Israeli invasions were reported in Ramallah city, Jenin, Nablus, and Bethlehem.

Islamic Jihad fighter wounded in Israeli attack in Qabatiya
Ma’an News Agency 7/1/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – Undercover Israeli forces shot and injured Alaa’ Abu Ar-Rub, a prominent Islamic Jihad activist, in the West Bank town of Qabatiya, south of Jenin, on Tuesday morning. According to reliable sources in Islamic Jihad, the Israeli forces ambushed Abu Ar-Rub near the eastern cemetery in Qabatiya. Abu Ar-Rub was injured during an exchange of fire with the Israeli troops, but managed to escape afterwards. Following the gunfire, several Israeli military vehicles surrounded the cemetery area in a failed attempt to catch Abu Ar-Rub. The Islamic Jihad fighter had survived several past Israeli assassination attempts. Three months ago, he escaped undercover Israeli forces near the northern West Bank village of Misliya.

Saraya Al Quds member injured in Israeli assassination attempt
Palestine News Network 7/1/2008
Jenin / PNN - ’Ala Abu Ar Rub, a leader of Islamic Jihad’s armed resistance wing, Saraya Al Quds, was injured when Israeli special forces invaded the Jenin Distirct town of Qabatiya on Monday night. Palestinian medical sources report that Israeli forces shot him with a rubber bullet. The shooting was one of several failed Israeli assassination attempts on Ar Rub. Ar Rub was not the only target in the northern West Bank throughout the night. Ten ’wanted’ Palestinians were arrested in Beit Iba and Asira near Nablus at dawn. In addition, Israeli forces raided villages in the Jenin area, as well as the Amari Refugee Camp, the city of Ramallah and Bethlehem where the Israelis surrounded a home.

Israeli forces again breach calm: open random fire and shoot woman near her home in S Gaza Strip
Palestine News Network 7/1/2008
Gaza / PNN -- Israeli forces opened fire near the Sofa Commercial Crossing in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning, injuring Aisha Juma Ataya. Palestinian medical sources and eyewitnesses confirm that the 35 year old woman was shot near her southern Gaza Strip home. Currently Ataya is hospitalized with a bullet in her left thigh. The sources report that Israeli forces shot indiscriminately throughout the region; yet another violation of the ’calm’ in the Gaza Strip. The first came early last week when Israeli forces shot a farmer working in his fields. [end]

Rocket lands in Israel, straining Gaza truce
Reuters Foundation, ReliefWeb 6/30/2008
JERUSALEM, June 30 (Reuters) - A rocket fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip landed in southern Israel on Monday, putting further strain on a ceasefire brokered by Egypt. An Israeli police spokesman said the makeshift rocket had landed near a kibbutz bordering the coastal enclave, causing no damage or injuries. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for what was the fourth such attack since the truce went into effect on June 19. A Palestinian official who coordinates with Israeli authorities the passage of goods into the Gaza Strip said they informed him that Israel’s border crossings with the territory would be closed on Tuesday in response to the rocket strike. On Sunday, Israel reopened three of its crossings with the Gaza Strip after cross-border rocket fire stopped. Israel had shut the crossings on June 25 after an Islamic Jihad rocket salvo which. . .

The Israeli army attacked and abused villagers near Ramallah
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/1/2008
The Israeli army continued to attack the villagers of Dier Abu Mish’al, located near the central West Bank city of Ramallah for the second day on Tuesday. Witnesses said that Israeli troops invaded the village on Monday and detained Shadi Zahran, and his family in their home and used it as a military post. The witnesses added that soldiers are still in the house until today and refusing to allow the family to leave the house. The villagers said that the soldiers are still in the village and are searching homes and harassing families. Meanwhile Faares Nasser the mayor of the nearby Dier Iqdes village said that soldiers attacked residents’ homes in his village and handed a number of young men military orders for interviews by the Israeli secret police in a nearby military camp.

The Israeli army kidnaps two civilians during attacks on villages near Nablus
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/1/2008
Palestinian sources said that the Israeli army attacked the villages of Bit Iba and Assirah-Al-Shamalyiah, both located near the northern West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday morning and kidnapped two civilians. Hateem Sama’nah, 23 years old, was taken to unknown detention camp by Israeli soldiers that attacked his home in Bit Iba village on Tuesday, witnesses said. Meanwhile another force attacked and searched homes in the village of Assirah-Al-Shamalyiah also near Nablus and kidnapped Fadi Sawalha, 20. Israeli troops invaded the city of Nablus today and searched homes in the city center but no kidnappings were reported there, the sources added. [end]

Israeli forces seize three young men from villages near Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 7/1/2008
Nablus - Ma’an – Israeli forces seized three young men in the villages of Asira Ash-Shamiliya and Beit Iba, on the outskirts of the northern West Bank city of Nablus early on Tuesday morning. Palestinian security sources told Ma’an’s correspondent in Nablus that the Israeli forces raided the men’s houses. The arrestees were 25-year-old teacher Ahmad Sama’neh from Beit Iba, 22-year-old Hatem Moussa Sama’neh, also from Beit Iba, and 20-year-old ‘Ahed Mahmoud Sawalha from Asira Ash-Shamiliya. [end]

Israeli forces detain Islamic Jihad activist and his brother in Tulkarem
Ma’an News Agency 7/1/2008
Tulkarem - Ma’an - Israeli special forces detained an Islamic Jihad activist and his brother in Tulkarem in the northern West Bank on Tuesday. More than ten military vehicles stormed the city and surrounded a building in Nablus Street where Mu’tassem Al-Iraqi was located. Ma’an’s correspondent said that Israeli forces used police dogs to storm the building and detained Al-Iraqi and his brother Alaa’ who are in their twenties. They also searched the building before withdrawing. [end]

The Israeli army invades Sourif village near Hebron and kidnaps three men
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/1/2008
The Israeli army kidnapped three Palestinian civilians during a pre dawn invasion targeting the village of Sourif near the southern West Bank city of Hebron on Tuesday. Local sources said that troops searched and ransacked a number of homes before taking the three men to an unknown detention camp. The sources identified the three men as; Mohamed Al Harbalah, 35, Mo;en Ighnimat, 25, and Yousef Ighnimat, 20. [end]

New Mt. Hebron Neighborhood Absorbs 10 New Families
Erfat Weiss, MIFTAH 7/1/2008
Ten incoming families will inhabit their new homes Monday in a new neighborhood built in the Carmel settlement on South Mount Hebron. Although the Yesha Council is talking about settlements construction being frozen, an inauguration ceremony for the new neighborhood is due to take place Tuesday. One of the new residents told Ynet, “We are not sneaking in like thieves at night. ”The settlers said that “everything is ready” in the neighborhood – apart from the backyard gardens, which they cannot plant because 2008 is a shmita year (the seventh year of the seven-year agricultural cycle mandated by the Torah in which all agricultural activityin the Land of Israel is forbidden. )The Carmel settlement was founded in 1981. It was first established as a cooperative, and later on turned into a community cooperative, and most of its earlier residents worked in the various agricultural fields. Today, Carmel has about 80 families who also work in education and freelance professions.

2 Rockets fired at village of Burin from Bracha settlement
International Solidarity Movement 7/1/2008
Nablus Region - Two more home-made rockets were launched from the illegal Israeli settlement of Bracha at the Palestinian village of Burin, near Nablus, on Tuesday 1st July. At 1pm, Jamal Najar, a resident of Burin, was sitting on his veranda when he saw a projectile launched from near the illegal settlement’s mobile phone tower. " It looked like a rocket," he said. The projectile landed on his land, amongst his olive trees, just 150m from his house, 75m from his neighbour’s house. After two minutes a second one followed, coming from the same direction. " The rockets made a loud sound, and a small fire. They made a lot of smoke," he described. Mr Najah went to investigate, and found the two projectiles, which indeed were home-made rockets made from aluminium pipes - one approximately 20cm long, the other approximately 30cm - without any writing. "

Israeli settlers launch homemade projectiles at Palestinian village
Ma’an News Agency 7/1/2008
Nablus - Ma’an exclusive - Israeli settlers from the Bracha settlement south of Nablus launched two homemade projectiles at a neighboring Palestinian village on Tuesday afternoon. No injuries have been reported. Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that the Israeli settlers launched two projectiles as a test for the two sorts of projectiles they are producing, the ’Sharon 1’ and ’Sharon 2. ’Jamal An-Najjar a member of the Palestinian police in the village of Burin told a Ma’an’s Nablus correspondent, "settlers launched two homemade projectiles from the settlement of Bracha at the village of Burin, with no injuries reported. " An-Najjar added that the projectiles, which were between 15 and 30 centimeters long, landed in open areas just meters from Palestinian houses.

Israeli settlers fire home-made shells at a Palestinian village near Nablus
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/1/2008
Palestinian sources said that Israeli settlers fired on Tuesday midday home made shells at the village of Buren located near the northern West Bank city of Nablus. Local sources said that the two shells landed on open areas near a local farmer house, casing no injures or damage. Khier Abu Amran, from the local civil defense department in the village told IMEMC that the settlers fired the home made shells from the nearby settlement of Brakha, which is built on the village land. He added that Israeli troops invaded the village and took the remains of the shells that were collected by the villagers. [end]

OPT: Hundreds of Palestinians cross Egypt’s reopened border
Deutsche Presse Agentur - DPA, ReliefWeb 7/1/2008
Al-Arish, Egypt_(dpa) _ After Egypt opened its border with the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, hundreds of stranded Palestinians started their crossings both ways. Egypt opened the Rafah crossing with Gaza for two days after a truce agreement Cairo brokered between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Among those, who crossed the border, were a group of Palestinian students and others with Egyptian residence permits, who have been trapped on the border. Hundreds of Palestinian students enrolled in Egyptian universities have been waiting for the reopening of the border to return to the Gaza Strip. "Having finished my final exams two weeks ago, I have been waiting for the border to be reopened to be able to go back home," said a Palestinian student, Mohamed Abdullah Ahmed, before crossing from Rafah into Gaza.

Israel keeps Gaza crossings closed, as Egypt eases Rafah border
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 7/1/2008
Israel kept border crossings to the Gaza Strip closed again on Tuesday, after militants fired a Qassam rocket at the western Negev a day earlier in a further violation of a shaky truce. The defense establishment decided late Monday to keep the border crossed, despite the a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas which stipulates a gradual lifting of the siege on Gaza. A military spokeswoman said only pedestrian traffic would be permitted for the time being. Palestinian officials said the closure meant a long-awaited shipment of cement would not be allowed through. Two early warning "Color Red" sirens were heard Monday in the Sha’ar Hanegev area and a rocket struck an open field shortly after. No injuries or damage were reported. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for what was the fourth such attack since the Egypt-brokered truce went into effect on June 19.

Rafah Terminal to open for three days starting Tuesday
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 7/1/2008
Palestinian sources reported on Monday that the Rafah terminal between the Gaza Strip and Egypt will open for three days starting on Tuesday. The sources added that the first two days will be for departure and the third for residents willing to return to Gaza. The Border Administration in Gaza reported that it is holding talks with Egypt in order to determine the criteria that would determine who will be allowed to leave Gaza through the terminal, which will be opened until evening hours on Thursday. The criteria is based on lists of names registered at the Palestinian Ministry of Interior. It will be published in agreement with the Egyptian side and no other residents will be allowed through. The Ministry of Interior at the Hamas dissolved government in Gaza urged residents not to head to the terminal and said that only the residents who are approved for departure should head there in orderto avoid jams and delays.

Hamas: closure of borders an attempt at ''blackmail''
Ma’an News Agency 7/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas criticized Israel for closing the Gaza Strip’s border crossings on Tuesday, calling the decision an impediment to the ceasefire and an "attempt to blackmail the Palestinian people. " Israel closed the Gaza Strip’s commercial crossing points again on Tuesday after a Palestinian homemade projectile reportedly landed in the Israeli border town of Sderot. Hamas suspects Israel of attempting to change the criteria of the Egyptian-mediated ceasefire agreement that went into effect on 19 June. The Islamic movement, which governs Gaza, accused Israel of using the border crossings as leverage to secure the release of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, not as a response to the projectile. "We consider this to be. . . backtracking by the Israeli occupation, which completely matches what the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson said on Monday that opening the crossing points was dependent on releasing Gilad Shalit.

Gaza Truce Holding on Shaky Ground
Mel Frykberg, MIFTAH 7/1/2008
Last week, several days into the Gaza ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, a U. N. convoy and a delegation of humanitarian workers was trapped on the Gaza side of the Erez border crossing into Israel, along with this reporter. Unbeknownst to the humanitarian workers, with whom this reporter was traveling, Islamic Jihad had fired a number of rockets into Israel from the area we had passed minutes earlier, the area of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip. As is customary with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), the enormous zeppelin balloon hovering above would have monitored our every move, transmitting live footage back to the military base from where retaliatory Israeli military operations are planned and conducted. Oxfam, a British humanitarian organization, had placed a huge flag with its emblem on the car as it neared the border crossing; an added precaution due to the large number of guerilla operations launched from the area.

Olmert: Don’t interpret Israel’s restraint in Gaza as weakness
Haaretz Service and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday warned that though Israel is exhibiting patience in the face of violence from the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians should not interpret Israel’s restraint as weakness. "We are in favor of a genuine calm," Olmert said while on a tour of southern Israel. "If it prevails, fine. If it doesn’t, we know how to respond with full force, and in a manner that will guarantee complete security to the residents of the south. "Israel and the rulers of the Gaza Strip, Hamas, agreed on an Egyptian-brokered cease fire last month, under which Palestinians would stop firing rockets and shells into Gaza-border Israeli communities, and Israel would open its border crossings and refrain from military operations within the Strip. Israel once again shut its cargo crossings with Gaza earlier Tuesday, accusing Gaza. . .

Vilnai: Arms smuggling continues, despite Egypt
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
Deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai yesterday accused Egypt of not doing enough to halt weapons smuggling from Sinai to the Gaza Strip. According to Vilnai, the flow of weapons via the Philadephi route into the Gaza Strip is ongoing, despite the truce that Egypt mediated between Israel and Hamas. Speaking during a visit to the ground forces training center in Tze’elim in the Negev, Vilnai said he had the impression that Egypt was making more effort than it had in the past to stabilize the situation along its border with the Strip, however he said the effort was "not really successful. " Vilnai said this was a major problem as far as Israel was concerned, but "it cannot be said that we didn’t know about it ahead of time. "In a conversation with reservists training to fight in built-up areas in the West Bank or Gaza, Vilnai also said: "The Second Lebanon War was not the last war.

Haniyeh: We will monitor Israeli committment to truce
Ma’an News Agency 7/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – De facto prime minister in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh said on Tuesday that Hamas are closely monitoring Israeli commitment to the 13-day-old truce in the Gaza Strip. "We are watching and we will see to what extent the Israelis will show commitment to the truce and then the Palestinian people will decide what will happen next," he said in a speech at a solidarity festival organized by the Legislative Council on the second anniversary of the detention of deputies from the Change and Reform Bloc in the West Bank by the Israeli authorities. The 48 deputies and two ministers are still in Israeli custody. Haniyeh confirmed the existence of a national agreement on the truce, but suggested that Egypt should exert pressure on Israel to abide by the conditions of the truce. "We are facing a new stage at a time when our internal Palestinian relations are still under. . .

Haniyeh announces allocation of funds to war-ravaged Khan Younis
Ma’an News Agency 7/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Gaza-based de facto Palestinian Prime Minister Isma’il Haniyeh visited the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis on Monday to announce the allocation of three million dollars to the Gaza Strip’s municipal councils, 50,000 to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis and 200,000 to areas damaged during Israeli incursions in Khan Younis. Haniyeh started his tour checking up on the halls for the Palestinian secondary school exams halls. He thanked de facto government’s police and Health Ministry for keeping order and providing medical staff near the exam halls. Then he visited the Khan Younis municipal council where he made the funding announcement. Haniyeh gave each employee in the municipal council 100 dollars as a gift to help them "remain steadfast. " Haniyeh said he would help municipal governments become self sufficient, collecting revenue from their own citizens.

Rafah reopened, but no progress on Shalit
Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
More than 100 people entered Egypt yesterday from the Gaza Strip after Egypt opened the Rafah crossing. Among them were about 50 needing medical care and another 67 Egyptian citizens who were stranded in the Strip after the closing of the border a few weeks after it was breached in January. Egypt is planning on letting more Palestinians in today, and tomorrow Palestinians will cross from Egypt to the Gaza Strip. Since the June 2007 take-over of the Strip by Hamas, the Rafah crossing has been opened - according to observations by the security establishment - at least 50 times, despite Israel’s demand that the crossing should remain closed until kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit is released from Hamas custody. Senior Palestinian and Israeli officials said they doubted Egyptian’s intention to open the Rafah crossing completely even after Shalit is released, out of concern that Palestinians might stream into Egypt.

Report: Hamas gave Egypt a video recording of Gilad Shalit
Jack Khoury and Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
The Egyptian magazine al Ahram al Arabi reported Tuesday evening that Hamas has complied with Egypt’s demands and transferred a new video recording of the abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, as well as a letter written by him, according to diplomatic sources. Shalit was kidnapped from his IDF post by Gaza militants in a cross-border raid in June 2006. Hamas denied the report, saying no video had been handed over. Noam Shalit, Gilad’s father, told Haaretz that he was not informed of this development. Political sources in Jerusalem also denied the report. The magazine, affiliated with the daily newspaper al-Ahram, is considered the mouthpiece of the Egyptian government. The magazine reported that the video was meant to prove that the soldier was still alive and in good health, in efforts to advance negotiations on a prisoner. . .

Israeli cabinet meeting to discuss fate of Palestinian political prisoners
Palestine News Network 7/1/2008
PNN - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will chair a cabinet meeting within the coming weeks to reassess the criteria for releasing Palestinian political prisoners. Following the Hamas decision to work with Egyptian moderators over a prisoner swap, the Israeli PM has stated his desire to speed up the forthcoming negotiations in Cairo. This deal is expected to involve the exchange of an unspecified number of Palestinian political prisoners for Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured by Hamas in the Gaza Strip two years ago. However, Israeli government officials have stressed that the talks between Israeli and Hamas representatives can only take place after the completion of separate Israeli negotiations with the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah. The German-moderated agreement to exchange the bodies of two Israeli soldiers for five Lebanese political prisoners is currently being finalised.

Families of Palestinian prisoners cautiously optimistic following Israel-Hizbullah deal
Ma’an News Agency 7/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Families of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails staged their weekly demonstration in Gaza City on Monday expressing hopes that their loved ones will soon be released in a prisoners swap between Israel and the Palestinian captors of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. There is renewed hope of a prisoner swap between Israel and Palestinian armed groups since the Israeli cabinet approved a prisoner exchange with the Lebanese resistance movement Hizbullah on Sunday. That deal includes the release of several dozen Palestinians. The families also called on the captors to reject any deal that excludes prisoners from the West Bank. The families also expressed their hopes that Egyptian mediators working on the prisoner issue will broker a decent deal without pressuring Shalit’s captors to make concessions.

Arab MK appeals to High Court over Bishara Act
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 7/1/2008
MK Said Naffaa says recently approved law banning those who visit enemy nations from running for Knesset discriminates against minorities - Yet another piece of legislation has found its way to the halls of the High Court of Justice. On Tuesday it was the recently approved Bishara Act, which prohibits citizens who visit enemy nations from contending for office. MK Said Naffaa (Balad) submitted an appeal through attorney Samir Zidan. According to Naffaa the new act infringes on minority rights, including rights pertaining to freedom of movement, the rights to vote and be elected. By doing so, said Naffa, the act negates one of the Knesset’s founding principles - Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. "We know that revoking an act is not a trivial matter," the MK wrote in his appeal.

Israeli Arab MKs petition court against law banning travel to enemy states
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
Balad MK Said Nafaa submitted a petition to the High Court of Justice on Tuesday in efforts to overturn a new lawbanning people who have visited an enemy state from being elected to Knesset. The law, which was approved by the Knesset in its second and third readings on Monday, stipulates that anyone who travels to enemy states ? Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia ? is disqualified from serving in the Knesset on the grounds that the visit constitutes support for an armed struggle against Israel. The petition maintains that the new law, an amendment to the Basic Law, violates the rights of minorities as well as basic human rights and harms democracy. The petition goes on to argue that Israeli Arabs who travel to enemy states ? mainly to Syria ? usually do so to visit their families, and that barring them from doing so severely limits their freedom of movement.

1701 report notes ’unprecedented’ Israeli air violations
Eugene Yukin, Daily Star 7/2/2008
BEIRUT: Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace reached "unprecedented" levels in March and April, according to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s report on Security Council Resolution 1701 issued on Tuesday. The violations, caused both by aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles, "occurred almost daily, at an average rate of more than 20 violations per day," Ban said. Tuesday’s was the eighth official report on Resolution 1701, which brought a cessation of hostilities in the summer 2006 war with Israel. On April 16 alone, UNIFIL recorded 72 violations of the airspace by unmanned aerial vehicles. "The government of Israel maintains that they are necessary security measures that will continue until its two abducted soldiers are released," Ban said, referring to troops who were captured by Hizbullah on July 12, 2006.

UNIFIL keepers forced to delete photos of suspicious wires
Yoav Stern and Shlomo Shamir, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has been forced by local Lebanese residents to delete photos of suspicious-looking communication wires, a report submitted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon states. The incident has been the second time in recent months in which the peacekeeping force was unable to do its job because of pressures from local residents, and this in strict violation of UN Resolution 1701. According to the report, on May 28 UNIFIL peacekeepers located communication wires that were buried in the ground in a south eastern area of Lebanon. They proceeded to take pictures of the suspicious wires, and were subsequently surrounded by local residents who hurled stones at them and took pictures of the forces themselves. The incident was brought to an end only after UNIFIL agreed to erase the. . .

UN: Hizbullah isn’t rearming
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 7/1/2008
Israeli reports of new Hizbullah military buildup rejected; however, UN source says Israel is right - WASHINGTON - Israel’s claims that the Hizbullah is rearming and building new military infrastructure in the areas north and south of the Litani River have been found to be unsubstantiated, a United Nations report says. The report, complied by the UN commission tasked with monitoring the implementation of UN Resolution 1701, which effectively ended theSecond Lebanon War, did state that for the first time in the last few years, the UN forces inspecting the area were interrupted by gunmen. The report made no mention of Hizbullah’s systematic disruptions to the routine operation of UNIFIL forces present in Southern Lebanon. Sources in UN headquarters said Tuesday that the members of the UN Security Council were aware of the real situation on the ground,. . .

Siniora hails prisoner swap as win for Hizbullah, Lebanon
Daily Star 7/2/2008
BEIRUT: Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said on Tuesday that a prisoner swap between Israel and Hizbullah constituted a "huge failure" for the Jewish state and a "national success" for the Lebanese party. "The release of the prisoners, thanks to the German mediator. . . is a huge failure for the policies of Israel," Siniora said in a public/official statement. "The success of Hizbullah in the negotiations led by a third party is a national success for the party and for the struggle of the Lebanese because it secured national goals which Israel always refused to respect. "The Israeli government on Sunday approved a deal to hand over five Lebanese fighters to Hizbullah in return for the two Israeli soldiers whose capture sparked the summer 2006 war in Lebanon - or their bodies. An undetermined number of Palestinians held in Israel prisons will also be released as part of the deal mediated by Germany.

Bodies of 2 bus hijackers included in Hizbullah-Israeli prisoner swap
Ma’an News Agency 7/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The bodies of two Palestinians who hijacked an Israeli bus in Tel Aviv in 1978, will be handed over in the prisoner swap with Hizbullah, the Fatah-affiliated Dalal Al-Mughrabi Brigades announced on Tuesday. The bodies of Dala Al-Mughrabi was killed in the ensuing battle with Israeli troops on March 11 1978 and Yehyah Muhammad Skaf died later in an Israeli jail. The brigades said in a statement that the bodied had been kept in a mortuary for the past 30 years. On March 11 1978 a group of Palestinian resistance fighters infiltrated to Tel Aviv by sea and hijacked a bus south of the city of Haifa, holding 83 Israeli passengers hostage. Their aim was to put pressure on Israel to release Palestinian detainees and all Arabs in Israeli jails. The Israeli army declared a state of emergency in the area of Hertziliya and more than 6,000 Israeli soldiers were deployed.

Lebanon: Prisoner swap an Israeli failure
Reuters, YNetNews 7/1/2008
Beirut slams exchange agreement with Hizbullah as ’big failure,’ says Israel should have agreed to release Samir Kuntar when Lebanese government offered - Lebanon said on Tuesday a prisoner swap deal reached between Israel and Hizbullah marked a "big failure" for Israel, which had earlier refused to agree to such a plan. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert secured cabinet approval on Sunday for a prisoner swap with Hizbullah, which would see Israel free Samir Kuntar and four Hizbullah fighters for IDF captives Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Prior to the cabinet vote on the proposal, Olmert said that according to the information currently in Israel’s hands, the two are most likely dead. " The release of the prisoners through a German mediator, after this long time and according to the conditions published in the media, marks a big failure, and a very big. . .

Israel, Syria set for third round of talks today
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
Israel and Syria will hold their third round of indirect negotiations in Istanbul today; the delegations will sit in separate hotels and Turkish mediators will shuttle back and forth carrying each side’s messages. A senior government official said yesterday that senior Syrian officials claim that "they will not agree to hold direct talks until they receive a firm guarantee on deep American involvement in the talks. "Last week Israeli officials met with Arab and European diplomats who had been updated on the details of the negotiations by the Syrian government. According to information passed on in last week’s discussions, Syria feels that all the previous rounds of talks dealt mostly with technical issues and the framework of the negotiations - not the heart of the issues. The foreign diplomats emphasized that "there is a feeling that the Syrians are delaying until the new U.

Syria demands release of Golan Druze as condition of peace
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
Syria’s deputy foreign minister referred to Druze residents of the Golan Heights as Syrians yesterday, saying in an interview on Syrian television that Israel will have to release all the Syrian prisoners it is holding if it is to reach a peace agreement with Syria. The comment can refer only to Druze from the Golan, since there are no Syrian nationals in Israeli prisons. In the interview, Faisal Mekdad described the prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hezbollah as "a victory for the Arab people. "Meanwhile, Syrian commentator Mustafa al-Hajj told Iranian television station Al-Alam that the Knesset’s approval this week of a law mandating a national referendum or two-thirds parliamentary majority prior to a withdrawal from territory under Israeli control means that Israel is not interested in peace with Syria.

Hamas leader calls for creation of ''Ministry of National Reconciliation''
Ma’an News Agency 7/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas leader Ghazi Hamad called for the formation of a transitional Palestinian government, complete with its own "Ministry of National Reconciliation" on Tuesday. Hamad sees his proposed transitional government emerging from the national dialogue proposed in June by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a leader of the rival Fatah movement. Speaking at a national reconciliation conference held in the Gazira Hotel in Gaza City, he said "I want to draw attention to the crisis in the Palestinian society, where deep suffering of the Palestinian people comes out as a result of the clashes among Palestinian factions … to solve the problem there should a total openness Between Fatah and Hamas to establish the start-up phase of dialogue. " Hamad was the spokesperson of the elected Hamas government of 2006Hamad added, "I call for the formation of a committee. . .

Hamas Arrests Fatah Spokesman in Gaza
Khaled Abu Toameh, MIFTAH 7/1/2008
Hamas security forces arrested the spokesman for Fatah’s Aksa Martyrs Brigades in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. Muhammad Abu Armaneh, who is better known by his nom de guerre Abu Qusai, was taken into custody while standing in front of his shop in Rafah, sources in the Gaza Strip said. The arrest is believed to be linked to Hamas’s attempts to enforce the truce agreement that was reached with Israel last week. Last week, Armaneh was the one who announced that the Aksa Martyrs Brigades had fired three rockets at Israel in violation of the cease-fire. The rocket attacks drew sharp criticism from Hamas, whose leaders threatened over the weekend to arrest anyone who violates the cease-fire, even if he belonged to Hamas. Fatah officials reacted with anger to the arrest of Armaneh, who is one of the most senior members of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades in the Gaza Strip.

Haneyya: We are ready to resolve tension between Palestinian families
Palestinian Information Center 7/1/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ismail Haneyya, the premier of the caretaker government, expressed Monday his government’s genuine willingness to form an ad hoc reconciliation commission to resolve the tension between Palestinian families in order to end a painful stage in the history of the Palestinian people. This statement came during his speech to a large crowd of Palestinian reformists, dignitaries and heads of clans during his visit to the Khan Younis, south of Gaza Strip. "Many incidents and problems between families took place in Khan Younis and claimed lives in an earlier harsh stage; those incidents then caused us so much pain and we tried hard to solve them, but the tenth government failed to do so because of the security lawlessness and there were no security apparatuses to control the situation," Haneyya stated. "If I am invited soon to a reconciliation between families of Abu Taha. . .

Seaside break in Syria proves too much for young Palestinians
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees - UNHCR, ReliefWeb 6/30/2008
AL TANF, Syria, June 30 (UNHCR) – It seemed like a good idea. Take a group of Palestinian children to the seaside to help them escape the monotony and hardship of their lives in limbo on the arid Iraq-Syria border. But it all proved a bit too much for most of the children taken to the Syrian city of Tartus on the Mediterranean Sea earlier this month from the Al Tanf camp, where they and their families have lived for months after fleeing their homes in the violence-plagued Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The sudden freedom of movement, the cool sea breezes, the abundant food and drink and the other laughing kids showed these nine children what they were missing and what they would miss once again when they returned to Al Tanf at the end of their week’s holiday. They are among a group of more than 750 Palestinian refugees who have been stuck for up to two years in Al Tanf, unable to enter Syria and unable to go back to Baghdad.

Ni’lin steps up the struggle: Israeli bulldozers destroyed to stop the Wall!
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 7/1/2008
This morning the people in Ni’lin organized another mass demonstration to protect their lands and lives from destruction by the Apartheid Wall. As the construction workers did not agree to stop their work on demand of the people, the protestors have disabled their equipment. After hundreds of protestors had gathered in the village center, the demonstration took a different path than it normally would. Instead of going as usual to the most advanced section of the construction on the Wall, that are currently destroying the village lands, the protestors marched towards the end of the area where the bulldozers were working. In this part of the land the destruction started already two months ago and it is some 1. 6 km away from the most fore front of the worksite. The demonstrators faced 4 bulldozers, 2 jeeps and a truck while the Occupation army was all stationed at the other end of the worksite.

VIDEO - 5 injured as Ni’lin demonstration again halts work on the apartheid wall
International Solidarity Movement 7/1/2008
Ramallah Region - Video - On the 1st July, the village of Ni’lin again forced construction on the apartheid wall to halt. Bulldozers and other machinery were also damaged. Around 200 Palestinians, Israelis and international activists surprised Israeli armed forces guarding the site. They were confronted by soldiers who fired live ammunition close to demonstrators. Despite this, many people took up rocks and threw them at the vehicles, breaking the windscreens and forcing them from the construction site. People returned to the village as soldiers fired tear gas and rubber bullets. Five people, including a nine year old child were injured by rubber bullets Afterwards, it was decided to march on another site at which the wall is being constructed. This time troops responded aggressively before the site could be reached, firing tear gas canisters directly at demonstrators and throwing sound bombs.

Ni’lin steps up the struggle: Israeli army injures 10 protesters
International Middle East Media Center News 7/1/2008
On Tuesday the farmers of Ni’lin, located near the central West Bank city of Ramallah organized another mass demonstration to protect their lands and lives from destruction by the illegal Israeli Wall. As the construction workers did not agree to stop their work on demand of the people, the protestors have disabled their equipment. After hundreds of protestors had gathered in the village center, the demonstration took a different path than it normally would. Instead of going as usual to the most advanced section of the construction on the Wall, that are currently destroying the village lands, the protestors marched towards the end of the area where the bulldozers were working. In this part of the land the destruction started already two months ago and it is some 1. 6 km away from the most fore front of the worksite.

Ynet: Foreign Ministry - Ministers may be arrested in Spain
Tova Tzimuki, YNet, International Solidarity Movement 7/1/2008
Several Israeli officials instructed not to visit European country due to international arrest warrant issued against them over their involvement in assassination of senior Hamas member Salah Shehade - The Foreign Ministry has instructed a number of Israeli officials not to visit Spain after an international arrest warrant was issued against them on suspicion of committing war crimes. A Spanish human rights organization, believed to be representing a Palestinian group, filed a lawsuit last week against Israeli officials involved in the assassination of senior Hamas member Salah Shehade six years ago. Sixteen Palestinians were killed in the airstrike in the heart of Gaza. Nearly all heads of the defense establishment at the time of the assassination are included in the list of defendants: Former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, former IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General (Res.

Poll: 71% of Americans want US to stay neutral on Mideast conflict
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 7/1/2008
Israel enjoys low level of support in 18 countries; support for Palestinians much higher - WASHINGTON- A recent poll conducted by the University of Maryland in 18 countries revealed that 71% of Americans would prefer that the US stay neutral when it comes to the Mideast conflict. In 13 others countries covered in the poll, respondents also said they wanted their government to remain neutral on the issue. In no country did the majority back the Israeli stand, while those residing in Egypt, Iran and Turkey said they wanted their governments to support the Palestinian side. The poll, carried out by WorldPublicOpinion. org and University of Maryland questioned a total of 18,792 people and involved research institutes in the 18 countries examined, which included China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Britain, France and Russia, among others.

VIDEO / Kiryat Gat tells its school girls: No romancing with Bedouin
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
A new program launched in Kiryat Gat schools has the expressed purpose of preventing Jewish girls from becoming romantically involved with Israeli Bedouin. The program enjoys the support of the municipality and the police, and is headed by Kiryat Gat’s welfare representative, who goes to schools to warn girls of the "exploitative Arabs. "The program uses a video entitled "Sleeping with the Enemy," which features a local police officer and a woman from the Anti-Assimilation Department, a wing of the religious organization Yad L’ahim, which works to prevent Jewish girls from dating Muslim men. [end]

Israel tells schoolgirls: don’t bed the Bedouins
Middle East Online 7/1/2008
TEL AVIV - Schoolgirls in a southern Israeli town are taught not to date Bedouins and shown a video called "Sleeping with the Enemy," but the man behind the sex education programme insisted on Tuesday it was not racist. "I compare this with ocean outings, when the black flags are up, one should not go out. With Bedouins it’s the same, they’re dangerous," Chaim Shalom, a municipal social worker who runs the programme, said. The programme has the support of the municipality and the police in Kiryat Gat, a community on the edge of the Negev desert, as well as local public schools, where Shalom gives his presentation. "They shower the girls with presents -- jewels, clothes, cellphones -- but all that doesn’t come free," said Shalom. To illustrate his point Shalom uses Sleeping with the Enemy, a 10-minute video in which a young Israeli girl relates how a Bedouin she befriended brutally mistreated her.

Award-winning Palestinian reporter ’abused’ by Israeli security officers
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 7/2/2008
The Dutch Foreign Minister, Maxime Verhagen, has officially complained to Israel after accusations by an award-winning Palestinian journalist from Gaza that he was abused during almost four hours of detention at the border with Jordan. Mohammed Omer, 24, says that he was manhandled and strip-searched and fainted during interrogation when he returned from a Dutch government-facilitated trip to London to collect a prestigious British journalism award, the Martha Gellhorn Prize. Mr Omer, who is now in hospital in the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis with suspected cracked ribs after the incident on Thursday last week, was a joint winner of the prize for his reporting from the Strip. Mr Omer said yesterday that he was ordered to strip down to his underwear and when he protested at being forced to remove his underpants a security officer "snatched" them off him.

Israel denies mistreating Gaza reporter
Reuters, YNetNews 7/1/2008
Security officials reject claim award-winning Palestinian reporter was abused at Jordan border crossing, say ’no irregular action’ taken towards him - Israel denied on Tuesday allegations by a Palestinian journalist that he was abused and injured by Israeli security personnel while on his way home to the Gaza Strip after receiving a journalism award in Britain. Mohammed Omer said from his hospital bed on Monday that he was detained for nearly four hours at the Israeli-controlled Allenby Bridge when he crossed from Jordan into the West Bank, en route to the Gaza Strip, on June 26. Omer said he was forced to strip to his underwear by an Israeli officer who then "snatched it down off me". He said two officers dragged him by his legs, his head sweeping the floor, in front of other passengers, and that he vomited and fainted.

Israel denies it mistreated Gaza journalist at Jordan crossing
Reuters, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
Israel denied on Tuesday allegations by a Palestinian journalist that he was abused and injured by Israeli security personnel while on his way home to the Gaza Strip after receiving a journalism award in Britain. Mohammed Omer said from his hospital bed on Monday that he was detained for nearly four hours at the Israeli-controlled Allenby Bridge when he crossed from Jordan into the occupied West Bank, en route to the Gaza Strip, on June 26. Omer said he was forced to strip to his underwear by an Israeli officer who then "snatched it down off me". He said two officers dragged him by his legs, his head sweeping the floor, in front of other passengers, and that he vomited and fainted. An Israeli security official said a body search and an examination of Omer’s belongings were carried out "because of the suspicion that he had. . .

Targeting Journalists
Eva Bartlett, International Solidarity Movement 7/1/2008
Gaza Region - The killing of Gaza-based Palestinian Reuters cameraman received considerable attention 2. 5 months ago. Filming at the site of shelling in Gaza earlier in the day, Fadel Shana was himself targeted by shelling from the very tanks he was filming. After the incident, with international outcry from rights groups, journalists associations, and individuals, Israel promised to look into his death. Given the high number of journalist fatalities and injuries at the hands of the Israeli army, it is not hard to believe that perhaps Israel is targeting journalists. 24 year old Mohammed Omer, an internationally-recognized journalist from Rafah in Gaza’s south, is the latest to be targeted by Israel, although this time not while reporting. Omer had left Gaza weeks earlier, traveling via Israel and Jordan to London where, on June 16th, he was awarded the prestigious Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism.

MP Saleh narrates heart breaking stories about women in Israeli jails
Palestinian Information Center 7/1/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- MP Mariam Saleh, former minister of women’s affairs, who was released recently after seven-month administrative detention, revealed in a press conference held Monday heart breaking stories about the suffering of female prisoners in Israeli jails and the inhuman measures pursued against them by prison administrations. In the conference which was held by the campaign of solidarity with Palestinian lawmakers on the second anniversary of their abduction, MP Saleh explained that there are 80 female prisoners in Israeli jails including five serving several life sentences and many others sentenced to 20 to 30 years. The ex-detainee noted that the oldest female prisoner in Israeli jails is Sona Al-Ra’aee who has been locked up for more than 11 years. Some of the prisoners are mothers who left behind nine or five children without parental care or a breadwinner because. . .

Refugee stories - Drinking the water in the West Bank village of Burin
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in, ReliefWeb 6/29/2008
Adnan Najeeb is a refugee living in the northern West Bank village of Burin with his wife and five children. He takes his children for testing for intestinal amoebas every three months and they always test positive for the parasite, which causes diarrhea. About two years ago, when there was an outbreak of hepatitis in the village, all of his children contracted the illnesses, including his youngest daughter, Iman (5). The disease has since been contained, but the villagers insist that the plague of amoebas persists. This is the dilemma faced by Burin’s residents. Burin is one of 40 villages in the northern West Bank not connected to the water network supplying Nablus, for example, or the nearby settlements or Har Bracha or Yizhar. They depend for their water on two natural springs in the village itself fed by subterranean springs.

OPT: Additional financing to World Bank water projects
The World Bank Group, ReliefWeb 6/30/2008
Ramallah, June 30, 2008 – The Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Dr. Salam Fayyad, and the World Bank signed today additional financing of US$18. 7million to Water and Wastewater projects. Since the beginning of its operations in West and Gaza, the World Bank has committed significant part of its development portfolio to develop Palestinian water and wastewater services and worked with the Palestinian counterparts in improving the provision of these services in terms of quality, quantity and management. The World Bank has currently four of its 13 projects in the water sector and has recently approved additional financing to the following ongoing projects: Additional financing of US$12 million for the North Gaza Emergency Sewage Treatment Project of US$7. 8 millionThe project addresses the immediate and impending health, environmental and safety threats to the communities surrounding the effluent lake at Beit Lahia.

West Bank faces grave water shortages
Middle East Online 7/1/2008
JERUSALEM - The occupied West Bank faces grave water shortages largely as a result of "discriminatory" Israeli policies, an Israeli human rights group said on Tuesday. "The shortage will have serious repercussions on the economy and the health of tens of thousands of Palestinians," the B’Tselem group said in a statement. "The chronic water shortage results in large part from Israel’s discriminatory policy in distributing the joint water resources in the West Bank, and the limits it places on the Palestinian Authority’s ability to drill new wells," it said. The accumulated effects of a series of dry years will make the shortages even worse in coming months. Per capita water consumption in the West Bank stands at 66 litres (just over 17 gallons) a day, about two-thirds less than the minimum recommended by the World Health Organisation.

B’Tselem warns of grave water shortage in the West Bank
Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, ReliefWeb 7/1/2008
Average water consumption in Israel is 3. 5 times that in West Bank B’Tselem today (Tuesday, 1 July) warned of a grave water shortage this summer in large areas of the West Bank. The shortage will have serious repercussions on the economy and the health of tens of thousands of Palestinians. The chronic water shortage results in large part from Israel’s discriminatory policy in distributing the joint water resources in the West Bank, and the limits it places on the Palestinian Authority’s ability to drill new wells. The shortage will be worse this summer due to the accumulated effects of recent arid years. According to figures of the Palestinian Water Authority, 40-70 million cubic meters are lacking to meet the needs of West Bank Palestinians. Per capita consumption of water in the West Bank now stands at 66 liters a day, about two-thirds of the World Health Organization’s recommended minimum amount.

’Discrimination’ drives West Bank water shortage
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/2/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: The Occupied West Bank faces grave water shortages largely as a result of "discriminatory" Israeli policies, an Israeli human rights group said on Tuesday. "The shortage will have serious repercussions on the economy and the health of tens of thousands of Palestinians," the B’Tselem group said in a statement. "The chronic water shortage results in large part from Israel’s discriminatory policy in distributing the joint water resources in the West Bank, and the limits it places on the Palestinian Authority’s ability to drill new wells," it said. The accumulated effects of a series of dry years will make the shortages even worse in coming months. Per capita water consumption by Israelis is 3. 5 times that of Palestinians, B’Tselem said. - AFP Tags: Bank, Israel, Palestinian Printable Version Send to a friend

Fayyad, World Bank Sign Deal for Gaza Projects
Wafa Amr, MIFTAH 7/1/2008
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad signed a deal with the World Bank on Monday to finance three projects in the Gaza Strip but said they could not go ahead until Israel had lifted its blockade. The $29 million agreement covers an electric utility management project as well as water and wastewater projects in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Half of the money is earmarked for the Gaza Strip, which Hamas Islamists seized from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah forces a year ago. At a signing ceremony with David Craig, the World Bank’s director in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Fayyad said "implementing the projects. . . requires lifting the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip (and) reopening the border crossings". Fayyad said around 40 percent of $7. 7 billion in aid pledged by international donors to the Palestinians at a conference in Paris last year was to have gone for projects in the Gaza Strip.

Pentagon: Israel increasingly likely to attack Iran
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
The U. S. Defense Department thinks it is increasingly likely that Israel will attack Iran’s nuclear facilities by the end of this year. An ABC News report quoted unidentified senior Pentagon sources yesterday saying that Washington was concerned Iran would strike both the United States and Israel in retaliation. One official said such an Israeli attack would have far reaching security and economic consequences, and the U. S. would be accused of cooperating with the Israeli strike. The ABC News report was just the most recent in a series of media revelations on the possibility that Israel would use force to stop the Iranian nuclear program. Previous reports included Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz’s comments on the matter, reported in the New York Times and never denied by Israel, on a large military exercise the Israeli Air Force conducted last month in preparation for such an attack on Iran.

State Dept. denies report Israel likely to attack Iran this year
Haaretz Service and Reuters, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
The U. S. State Department on Tuesday criticized reported comments by a senior U. S. defense official who said there was an increasing likelihood Israel would attack Iran over its nuclear program, calling his statements "foolish. "The unidentified defense official told ABC News that it was increasingly likely Israel would attack Iran, and that Washington was concerned Iran would strike both the United States and Israel in retaliation. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said in response to the report: "I have no information that would substantiate that, and I think it’s rather foolish of people who often have no clue what they’re talking about to assert things and not even have the courtesy to do so on the basis of their name. " Advertisement Meanwhile Tuesday, an Israeli official said that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. . .

Inquiries in U.S. bolster fraud case against PM
Amir Oren, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
Inquiries made over the past week in the United States by Israeli law enforcement representatives are strengthening suspicions of fraud and other crimes against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, say senior officials in the State Prosecutor’s Office and the Israel Police. Olmert is being investigated for allegations that he accepted illicit funds over many years from a Long Island businessman, Morris Talansky, who is the main witness in what has been dubbed "the envelopes case. "In his preliminary deposition in Jerusalem on May 27, Talansky testified that he gave Olmert $150,000, mostly in cash, for political campaigns and travel expenses. He denied receiving anything in return for the cash, which was allegedly conveyed in envelopes through third parties. According to one key official, "the case against Olmert has grown stronger," following the inquiries in the U.

Historic handshake: Barak meets Iraq’s president in Athens
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday had a brief meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani at a conference in Greece. The two shook hands when introduced by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during the 23rd congress of the Socialist International at the Lagonissi Grand Resort, about 40 kilometers south of Athens. Abbas and Barak met on the sidelines of the conference. The agenda of the talks has not been announced, and neither made any statement entering the meeting hall Tuesday. Abbas said his government would work to keep alive a June 19 truce between Israel and the militant Islamic group Hamas. "Israel will live in an island and sea of peace if Israel withdraws from Arab and Palestinian territories," Abbas told the conference. "We witness some steps in this direction which may stop this violence and bloodshed.

President Abbas to meet Israeli defense minister in Greece
Ghassan Bannoura - IMEMc News, International Middle East Media Center News 7/1/2008
The office of the Israeli Defense Minister Ehod Barak stated on Tuesday that Barak will meet the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today in Greece. The two will meet in the Greek capital, Athens, on the sidelines of the annual gathering of the Socialist International congress, Barak office stated. The Palestinian - Israeli talks toward resolving core issues like the status of Jerusalem, the borders of a future Palestinian state and refugees were revived at the US-hosted Annapolis conference last November. Earlier on Tuesday, President Abbas addressed the Socialist International congress in Athens. He said that there is a lot of obsticals that need to be solved in the ongoing talks with Israel, adding that the gap between the two sides is still large. The Palestinian leader stated also that the Israeli government has not taken clear and firm positions showing its will to protect this rare chance of achieving peace in the region.

US Senator John Kerry meets PLO Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat
Ma’an News Agency 7/1/2008
Jericho - Ma’an – United States Senator and former presidential candidate John Kerry met with the chief negotiator of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Saeb Erekat on Tuesday morning. Kerry said that the current Democratic candidate for the presidency, Senator Barak Obama, ’pays close attention to the peace process,’ and calls on all sides to work hard to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal by the end of this year. He said that Democrats and Republicans agree that there should be a negotiated solution involving ’two states living side by side in peace and security. ’During the meeting, Erekat stressed that all sides should comply with the Gaza Strip truce and that Israel should end its blockade of the Strip, saying that this would be in both the Israeli and the Palestinian interest. Erekat said that the Palestinian Authority and PLO are still negotiating. . .

OPT: New Swedish strategy for development assistance to the West Bank and Gaza
Government of Sweden, ReliefWeb 6/30/2008
"Through the new strategy, Sweden is showing its support to Palestinian state-building and the ongoing peace process," says Minister for International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson. The Government has adopted a new strategy for development assistance to the West Bank and Gaza. According to the strategy, Palestinian priorities and the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan will serve as guidelines for Swedish development assistance. The strategy has been adopted at a time when it is especially important that the rest of the world gives its full support to the parties and to a negotiation solution. Peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis were resumed after the meeting in Annapolis in November 2007. In connection with this, a donor conference took place in Paris in December 2007. There the Palestinian government, led by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, presented. . .

Abbas: Little progress made in negotiations
Jerusalem Post 6/30/2008
Little progress has been made in peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday. Speaking at an Arab Union summit in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm e-Sheikh, Abbas said that Israel was continuing its hostilities against the Palestinians, including settlement activity and the Gaza blockade. The PA president hailed the AU’s support to the Palestinians in its struggle for liberation and praised Egypt’s efforts to broker the Gaza truce. Abbas was at the summit in order to boost cooperation between the two sides, and noted the Palestinians’ strong solidarity with the AU since the time of his predecessor Yasser Arafat.

Israel controversy forces Chicago museum to close exhibit early
Rebecca Spence - The Forward, Ha’aretz 6/30/2008
Exhibition at Spertus exploring Israel’s borders closes after outcry by Chicago-area Jews - In the wake of an outcry from Chicago-area Jews, the Windy City’s only Jewish museum closed down a high-profile maps exhibition that parsed the issue of Israel’s borders and boundaries. The Spertus Museum, part of the 84-year-old Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, located on Chicago’s South Loop, announced June 20 that it was shutting down Imaginary Coordinates, which was originally scheduled to close in the fall. The institute’s board of trustees came to the decision after nearly two months of vocal opposition from constituents. "When it came down to the bottom line, there were large numbers of people who were deeply pained by the exhibition," said the institute? s president, Howard Sulkin.

Ceasefire violator: Gaza merchant fearing for his livelihood
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/1/2008
Mortar shells fired towards Israel several days ago threatened stability of shaky truce. Now Palestinians say man behind launch was sunflower seed merchant who feared opening of border crossings would leave him overstocked. Hamas has taken him into custody - The volatile ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was nearly shattered several days ago after several mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip towards the community of Nahal Oz. But what may have obliterated any achievements made in the negotiations with the Palestinians was not one of Hamas’ rival armed groups, seeking to disrupt the truce out of ideological objections, but rather a sunflower seed merchant who feared the opening of Gaza’s border crossings would have a negative effect on his sales. Ynet has learned that Hamas has taken the merchant into custody several days ago.

Al-Aqsa Brigades say de facto government’s police arrest brigades leader
Ma’an News Agency 7/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Brigades on Tuesday accused the Palestinian police affiliated to the de facto government based in the Gaza Strip of apprehending one of their leaders, Usama Abu ’Amsha, in the Beit Hanoun area of the northern Gaza Strip. They demanded the de facto government give directives to its security services to release Abu ’Amsha who has survived a number of Israeli assassination attempts. The Al-Aqsa Brigades also reiterated their adherence to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ directives regarding the ceasefire for the sake of Palestinian higher interests. They also called on all Palestinian factions to stop what they called "arbitrary political apprehension. "

Israeli troops shoot Palestinian woman in southern Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 7/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli forces shot a Palestinian woman in the foot on Tuesday morning while she was tending her sheep south of the city Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip. Medical sources at the European Hospital in the city of Rafah, also in the southern Gaza Strip, said that 36-year-old ’Aisha Abu ’Ataya was hit by a gunshot in her right foot. They said Israeli soldiers fired at Abu Ataya from a jeep near the town of Al-Fukhari. The Israeli military has not yet commented on the shooting, which is an apparent violation of the ceasefire in place in the Gaza Strip. [end]

Police hunt for Border cop convicted of killing Palestinian
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
The Justice Ministry’s Police Investigations Department (PID) is trying to locate Yanai Lalza, a border police man who was convicted of killing a Palestinian youth in Hebron and sentenced to six and a half years in prison, Channel 2 reported Tuesday. Lalza was supposed to begin serving his sentence last week, and when he didn’t arrive, it became clear that he had fled. Against police recommendation, Lalza was not in custody while the proceedings against him were being completed. It was decided, instead, that he would voluntarily appear on the date he was summoned. Lalza, was also convicted of robbery, destroying evidence and obstructing justice. Lalza and three other border policemen were posted in Hebron in 2002. One day the four abducted several Hebron residents, among them 17-year-old Amran Abu Hamadiya, and took them for a ride in their jeep.

Palestine Today 070108
Ghassan Bannoura - Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 7/1/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 3 m 0s || 2. 75 MB ||Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, www. imemc. org, for Tuesday July 1st, 2008. A Palestinian civilian is injured by the Israeli fire in Gaza while Israeli settlers fired home made shells at a Palestinian village in the West Bank, these stories and more coming up stay tuned. The News Cast A Palestinian woman was shot and injured by Israeli army fire near the Sufa crossing in the southern part of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning. Medical sources reported that 35-year-old Aishah Attayia sustained moderate wounds in her leg and was moved to a nearby hospital for treatment. Witnesses reported that Israeli soldiers manning the borders opened fire without any reason injuring Aishah. On Monday night Israel informed the Egyptian mediators for the truce between. . .

Young man abducted, then released by gunmen near Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 7/1/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Unidentified gunmen abducted a young Palestinian man on Monday evening near the northern West Bank city of Nablus on the main road to the nearby village of Talluza, and released him after approximately two of hours. Eyewitnesses told Ma’an’s reporter in Nablus that 19-year-old Baha’ Dababsa was abducted. His father, Zayd, said, "Four or five gunmen kidnapped my son from the main street to the village and ran away. " Dababsa is affiliated to the Fatah movement. The village of Talluza is designated to be under the control of the Palestinian Authority’s security services. [end]

National Resistance Brigades urge Israel to comply with truce
Ma’an News Agency 7/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - Abu Salim spokesman of the National Resistance Brigades, the military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine called on Tuesday the sponsors of the Israeli-Palestinian truce to stop the Israeli policy of provocation against Palestinians, where they violate the truce by the continued closure of the crossings and opening fire against houses of citizens in the Sufa area and the continuous incursions in the Palestinian West Bank. Abu Salim said in a statement received by Ma’an that Israel keeps violating the truce at a time when the National Resistance factions show full commitment to the conditions of truce but if Israel continues their attacks the resistance will have the right to defend Palestinians by all means. Abu Salim stressed the need to start national dialogue to end the state of internal division that causes the suffering for our people.

Israel seals off Gaza after truce violation
Middle East Online 7/1/2008
GAZA CITY - Israel again sealed off the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Tuesday in retaliation for a rocket attack the previous day in breach of a truce in and around the impoverished Palestinian enclave. Military authorities closed the three border crossing points that had been used mainly to deliver humanitarian supplies to Gaza since Israel imposed a blockade following the Islamist Hamas movement’s bloody June 2007 takeover. It wasn’t immediately clear when border crossings would reopen. "We’ll review the situation at the end of the day and then take a decision," said Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner. On Monday a rocket landed in an open field in southern Israel, causing no damage or casualties, according to Israeli police. No one claimed responsibility for the attack. Under an Egyptian-mediated truce agreement between Israel and Hamas entails a gradual easing. . .

Gaza Strip remains closed and under siege
Palestine News Network 7/1/2008
Gaza / PNN -- All of the crossings in the Gaza Strip remain closed on Tuesday. A limited quantity of cooking fuel diesel was allowed in yesterday, but no gas for cars. An Israeli military spokesperson said that the commercial crossings used for import and export: Sofa, Karni and Nahal Oz, will remain closed throughout the day with a new decision made tonight. The Israelis say the closure comes in response to a projectile launch last night that caused no damage or injury, but was "a breach in the ’calm. ’" However, Israeli forces used the same excuse days ago and it was pointed out by Palestinian sources that the crossings had not been open regardless, therefore the closures are not responses, but rather the norm. On the other hand, the Egyptians said yesterday that the Rafah Crossing would be open for a limited number of medical patients and students to cross.

Hamas: Israel’s decision to close the crossings is a violation of the truce
Palestinian Information Center 7/1/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement stated Tuesday that the Israeli decision to close the Gaza crossings is a violation of the truce agreement and aimed to blackmail the Palestinian factions and the Palestinian people, adding that this decision is crippling to Egypt’s role. In a statement, Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said that this was a clear retreat by the Israeli occupation from the calm agreement and fully in line with what was stated Monday by Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni that the opening of the crossings was conditional on the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit. Barhoum underlined that Hamas along with the Palestinian factions will mull over these developments and the daily Israeli violations, the latest of which was when IOF troops wounded seriously a Palestinian woman called Aisha Attaya.

Israel closes crossings for goods to Gaza
Agence France-Presse - AFP, ReliefWeb 7/1/2008
JERUSALEM, July 1, 2008 (AFP) - Israel kept closed Tuesday three Gaza border crossings for commercial goods in retaliation for a rocket fired from the Palestinian territory in violation of a truce, a military spokesman said. "The Sufa, Karni and Nahal Oz crossing points will remain closed Tuesday until a further order in reaction to a rocket fired on Monday evening," said Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner. "We’ll review the situation at the end of the day and then take a decision," he added. A rocket fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip late on Monday landed in a field in southern Israel and did not cause any casualties or damage, according to police sources. Several rockets and mortar rounds have been fired from Gaza since the truce between Israel and Hamas went into effect on June 19.

An-Nasser brigades to reconsider truce if crossings’ closure continues
Ma’an News Agency 7/1/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Secretary General of the An-Nasser brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), said on Tuesday that if the closure of the Gaza crossings continues the brigades will reconsider the terms of the truce. "The continuous closure of the crossings is a serious problem and there will be consequences if the closure continues. All the Palestinian factions will turn Sderot and Ashkelon into ghost towns within hours," Abu Al-Qasem Dughmosh warned. He also called on Egypt to intervene to urge Israel to open the Rafah crossing. "The brigades will never abandon their right to resist the Israeli forces," he concluded. [end]

Israel did not increase fuel supplies to Gaza: Palestinian official
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 6/30/2008
GAZA, Jun 30, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) -- Israel did not increase fuel shipments it allows into the Gaza Strip as an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire enters its 10th day, a Palestinian official said on Monday. Mahmoud al-Khozendar, deputy director of the petrol stations owners union in Gaza, said the fuel shipments sent to Gaza Monday were even less than that before the ceasefire took hold. On Monday, the Palestinian side received 200,000 liters of vehicle diesel, 250,000 liters of industrial diesel for power stations and 100 tons of cooking gas, al-Khozendar said, adding that no gasoline was pumped into Gaza. Israel reduced fuel supplies to Gaza since last September, three months after Hamas took control of the territory, in an effort to deter Palestinian armed groups from firing rockets into southern Israel.

Report: Hamas to provide Shalit video
Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
Hamas has agreed to an Egyptian request to transfer a video tape and a letter from kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit in the coming days, as part of the renewal of talks on Shalit’s release, the Cairo-based weekly Al Aharam Al Arabi reported over the weekend. The weekly, affiliated with the government mouthpiece Al Ahram, said Hamas had agreed to the move to provide a sign of life in order to move the talks ahead. The report gave no other details on whether the tape and letter had already been transfered to Israeli prisoner negotiator Ofer Dekel and the Shalit family. Citing Egyptian diplomatic sources involved in the negotiations, the paper also said West Bank leader Marwan Barghouti, jailed in Israel for five life sentences plus 40 years, is on the list of prisoners Hamas is demanding to release as part of the deal.

Hamas Emboldened by Israel-Hezbollah Prisoner Swap
Ibrahim Barzak, MIFTAH 7/1/2008
Hamas militants holding an Israeli soldier said Monday they would stick to their tough demands in negotiations over his release, emboldened by the high price Israel is paying in a planned prisoner swap with Hezbollah. The declaration could complicate Israel’s efforts to bring Sgt. Gilad Schalit home after two years in captivity. Israel agreed Sunday to free Samir Kantar, a Lebanese convicted in a grisly 1979 attack, along with other prisoners and bodies of Lebanese fighters, in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers. Israel has balked at Hamas’ demands for a large-scale release of Palestinian prisoners, including many convicted in deadly attacks. But the Islamic militants said there was no reason to soften their demands in light of Israel’s swap deal with Hezbollah. In a radio interview, Hamas strongman Mahmoud Zahar said the militants would work "to release people Israel accused of having blood on their hands like Samir Kantar. We have to take advantage of this to release our prisoners. "

Noam Shalit: No creativity, determination in talks to free Gilad
Tal Rabinovsky, YNetNews 7/1/2008
Father of abducted IDF soldier blasts PM Olmert over lack of progress in negotiations - The talks aimed at securing the release of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit lack determination and creativity, the captive’s father said Tuesday. ’In our case, I did not see the effectiveness, determination, and creativity in negotiations"¦I did not see it when the prime minister assumed it upon itself," Noam Shalit said at a conference on the issue of captives held at Bar-Ilan University. "After two years we told the prime minister - when it comes to achieving results, you failed, and we’re turning to the public so the public can decide," Noam Shalit said. Addressing the list of prisoners which Hamas seeks to release in exchange for Gilad, his father said: "It seems to me wholly unreasonable that you tell a terror organization: ’Give me the names.

Olmert: Let’s speed up deal for Shalit
Amos Harel and Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 7/1/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would like to speed up the negotiations with Hamas over kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, sources in the Prime Minister’s Bureau said Monday night. Olmert has instructed all those involved in the negotiations to do what is necessary so that the talks can progress quickly, as soon as Hamas gives Israel a new list of prisoners it wants released under the deal. Meanwhile, Ofer Dekel, the Israeli official responsible for negotiating for the release of Shalit, as well as the two Israel Defense Forces soldiers held by Hezbollah, is expected to travel to Germany this week in order to conclude the final arrangements for the prisoner swap with the Lebanese Shi’ite group. Advertisement The Israeli negotiator is still waiting for details from the German mediator, Gerhard Konrad, before he leaves for Germany.

Report: Egypt got Shalit videotape from Hamas
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 7/1/2008
Egyptian weekly: Hamas also gave Cairo handwritten letter to prove IDF captive still alive - Sign of life? Hamas has succumbed to Cairo’s demands and handed over a new videotape of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit along with a handwritten letter from him, diplomatic sources told the weekly al-Ahram al-Arabi. This is the second tape of Shalit, following an audiotape that was transferred a year ago. However, Israeli officials said they were unaware of the reported developments. According to the report, the tape was transferred following demands from Cairo, in an effort to prove to Israel that Shalit is still alive. The diplomatic sources also said that former Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, currently serving five consecutive life terms in an Israeli prison, is among the prisoners Hamas wants in exchange for Shalit.

Knesset approves law barring withdrawals without referendum
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 7/1/2008
On Monday evening the Israeli Knesset approved by preliminary reading a new law barring any withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories without a referendum or an approval; by a minimum of two thirds Knesset majority. The law passed by a margin of 65 members of the Knesset to 18. It states that any withdrawal from areas that are under Israeli control should be subject to a referendum, general elections, or an approval by at least 80 members of Knesset. The Knesset also approved another law barring any resident from being a candidate if he/she visits an "enemy state". Jamal Zahalka, head of the parliamentarian block of the National Democratic Assembly, said that the law proves that Israel has not matured yet and is not ready for a political settlement to the conflict. Zahalka also stated that the law places more obstacles in front of the peace process and. . .

Lebanon: Hezbollah prisoner swap marks ’failure’ for Israel
Yoav Stern and Reuters, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
The Lebanese government said on Tuesday a prisoner swap deal reached between Israel and Hezbollah marked a "big failure" for Israel, which had earlier refused to agree to such a plan. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert secured cabinet approval on Sunday for a prisoner swap with Hezbollah under which two soldiers held by the guerrilla group, believed to be dead, would be recovered. The capture of army reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev in a cross border raid in July 2006 triggered a 34-day war in Lebanon, with Olmert ruling out talks on their return. He later relented, negotiating through a UN-appointed mediator. " The release of the prisoners through a German mediator, after this long time and according to the conditions published in the media, marks a big failure, and a very big failure of Israel’s policy which refused, before. . .

Sources in Lebanon say captives will be returned next week
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 7/1/2008
Exchange deal with Hizbullah will have two stages, they say - first remains of IDF soldiers will be traded for bodies of Hizbullah fighters, then following day Regev and Goldwasser will be freed in exchange for Kuntar plus four Hizbullah operatives. Second stage - Israel will release Palestinian prisoners - The prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hizbullah will go through next week, Lebanese sources told the Kuwaiti news agency on Tuesday morning. According to the report, the deal will be carried out in two stages over the course of a month. On the first day of the initial stage, Hizbullah will hand over the remains of IDF soldiers who fell in the Second Lebanon War while Israel will return the bodies of Hizbullah fighters killed in battle with Israel, as well as the bodies of Palestinian gunmen killed since 1978 - this following an Israeli decision to completely. . .

Turks host third round of talks over return of Golan Heights
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/2/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli and Syrian negotiators were scheduled to meet separately with mediators in Turkey on Tuesday for a third round of indirect talks that could be complicated by MPs efforts to block an eventual return of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Envoys Shalom Turjeman and Yoram Turbowitz traveled to Turkey where Turkish diplomats were to shuttle between the separate rooms used by the two delegations, an Israeli official said. The official, who asked not to be identified, said Israel hopes the two sides will move on to direct negotiations in the coming weeks. "The indirect discussions with the Syrians are continuing in order to allow direct negotiations between Israel and Syria," Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Tuesday during a visit to the town of Dimona, which hosts Israel’s undeclared nuclear program.

Israel, Syria to hold third round of talks
Middle East Online 7/1/2008
TEL AVIV - Israeli and Syrian negotiators were to meet separately with mediators in Turkey on Tuesday for a third round of indirect talks, Israeli media reported. Army radio and public radio both said envoys Shalom Turjeman and Yoram Turbowitz are headed to Turkey where diplomats will act as go-betweens for the Israeli and Syrian delegations which will be seated in separate rooms. Syria and Israel announced in May they had started indirect peace negotiations through Turkish mediators, ending an eight-year freeze. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at the time Israel was willing to make major concessions in what was seen as a reference to the Golan Heights, which Israel seized in 1967 and annexed in 1981 in a move never recognised by the international community. On Monday, a bill designed to make it more difficult to return the Golan to Syria passed its first reading in parliament.

Israeli-Syrian cooperation rescues kidnapped prostitute
David Regev, YNetNews 7/1/2008
Political cooperation between Israel and Syria is questionable but human rights cooperation proves successful in search for and release of Russian woman forced into sex trafficking -Peace may seem distant, but cooperation between Israel and Syria has already begun. In a rare operation, an Israeli organization assisted in locating a Russian woman who was held against her will in Damascus and forced to work in prostitution. The story started unraveling when a female activist in a human rights organization in the US who innocently thought that Israel and Syria are at peace called the Israeli feminist organization Isha L’Isha. [end]

ANALYSIS / Who will strike first - Israel or Iran?
Zvi Bar''el, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
The belief that Israel will attack Iran before the year is out, and the major military drill over the Mediterranean last month, may indicate Israel’s determination - even if it has to act alone - to defend against the strategic threat Iran has laid at its doorstep. However this message, along with the threats Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz has made against Iran, must also be analyzed in light of Iran’s abilities to respond to such an attack with a preemptive strike against Israel. For years Israel has warned against Iran’s increased ballistic capabilities. Shihab 3 and Shihab 4 missiles were perceived until recently as Iran’s clearest strategic menace. A few years ago, General Ahmed Wahid, head of Iran’s aircraft industries, said Iran did not view the United States as the target of his country’s missiles, but rather Israel.

Iranian response / Saber rattling could backfire
Zvi Bar''el, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
The belief that Israel will attack Iran before the year is out, and the major military drill over the Mediterranean last month, may indicate Israel’s determination - even if it has to act alone - to defend against the strategic threat Iran has laid at its doorstep. However this message, along with the threats Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz has made against Iran, must also be analyzed in light of Iran’s abilities to respond to such an attack with a preemptive strike against Israel. For years Israel has warned against Iran’s increased ballistic capabilities. Shihab 3 and Shihab 4 missiles were perceived until recently as Iran’s clearest strategic menace. A few years ago, General Ahmed Wahid, head of Iran’s aircraft industries, said Iran did not view the United States as the target of his country’s missiles, but rather Israel.

VIDEO - News / U.S. official says concerned Israel will attack Iran by end of 2008
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 news roundup for July 1, 2008. A United States defense official expresses concerns Israel will attack Iran by the end of the year. Hamas asks Egypt to press Jerusalem to open Gaza Strip border crossings. Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani share an historic handshake in Athens. Related articles:State Dept. denies report Israel likely to attack Iran this year Olmert: Don’t interpret Israel’s restraint in Gaza as weaknessHistoric handshake: Barak meets Iraq’s president in Athens Also on Haaretz. com TV:Police anti-terror unit steps up drills to prepare for hostage scenario Kiryat Gat tells its school girls: No romancing with BedouinIDF targets Palestinian charities in bid to curb Hamas in W.

Israeli threats to Iran seen as bluff - for now
Middle East Online 7/1/2008
Israel seems content to keep Iran and the rest of the world guessing uneasily about whether and when it might attack the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities. It has done little to douse speculation stoked by a big Israeli air force exercise last month, an Israeli cabinet minister’s remark that military action was "inevitable" and a prediction by former US official John Bolton that this might occur in the final weeks of President George W. Bush’s term. Iran derides the chatter as "psychological warfare" and threatens dire retaliation if any assault materialised. Gulf Arab states whose oil exports could be among Iranian reprisal targets shuffle nervously, as crude prices push higher. "Should Israel be stupid enough to attempt an attack on Iran, as has been repeatedly threatened, then of course Tehran has the perfect right to retaliate in kind," wrote the Dubai-based Gulf News daily in its editorial on Monday.

Death sentence for ’Israeli spy’
Hashem Kalantari and Fredrik Dahl, The Independent 7/1/2008
An Iranian court yesterday sentenced to death an Iranian businessman on charges of being an Israeli spy who targeted the Islamic Republic’s disputed nuclear programme and its military, media said. The Tehran court handed down its sentence at a time of high tension with Israel and speculation of a possible Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear installations. Iranian media identified Ali Ashtari as the manager of a company selling communications and security equipment to Iran’s government and said he had been accused of "engaging in espionage for (Israel’s) Mossad intelligence service. " Ashtari, who had been in financial trouble, said he had accepted a loan of $50,000 from Israeli agents, Fars said. The 43-year-old was shown on television apparently speaking in court. It included the following exchange:"I pointed out these projects," Ashtari said and was interrupted by his questioner. . .

Oil rises as eyes back on Iran-Israel row
Middle East Online 7/1/2008
LONDON - Oil rose by nearly $3 on Tuesday after tension between Israel and Iran raised fears about possible outages in the much nearer term, following. US crude rose $2. 90 to $142. 90 a barrel by 2:00 p. m. London Brent crude rose $3. 10 to $142. 93. On Monday, US crude hit an all-time high of $143. 67 a barrel, but later eased, with traders citing evidence high prices were eroding demand, especially in the United States. On Tuesday, the IEA’s medium-term outlook said world oil demand would rise less than previously forecast, but it also said supply would be tighter than anticipated. Christopher Bellew of Bache Financial cited tension between Israel and OPEC’s second biggest oil producer Iran. Speculation has mounted that Israel plans to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, which Iran says are for purely peaceful purposes, following a big Israeli air force exercise last month.

Ex-intelligence official: World expects Israel to bomb Iran
Roi Mandel, YNetNews 7/1/2008
West assumes Israel will hit Iran, Jewish State to be blamed in case of global flare-up, ex-intel officer Yossi Kuperwasser says; Tehran believes likelihood of strike on its nuke facilities very low, he says - The West believes that Israel is aware of the magnitude of the Iranian nuclear threat and assumes that the Jewish state will bomb Iran, ex-IDF intelligence officer Yossi Kuperwasser told Ynet Tuesday. Kuperwasser, the former head of the IDF’s Research and Assessment Division, believes that the Pentagon source’s assessment that Israel will likely strike in Iran by the end of the year shows that the West assumes Israel will do the dirty work for it. Nuke ThreatPentagon: Israel may attack Iran before 2009 / Ynet Top Pentagon official warns of ’increased likelihood’ of Israeli raid against Iranian nuclear facilities, ABC News reports.

Vilnai: We know how to handle Iran threat
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 7/1/2008
Deputy defense minister tells reserve soldiers nuclear threat ’not only our problem’ - War of words continues:Israel knows how to handle the nuclear threat posed by Iran, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai told reserve soldiers at an IDF base Tuesday. "This is not only our problem; it includes foreign agencies, intelligence, and the Air Force," Vilnai said. "We know how to do it. " One of the soldiers asked Vilnai whether Israel was doing anything to counter the Iranian threat aside from the large-scale Air Force exercise reported several days ago. The deputy defense minister avoided a direct answer. "Wherever you operate," he told the infantry troops, "it needs to be successful"¦the main threat faced by the State of Israel is the Hizbullah-Syria-Iran axis, and their common denominator is radical Islam.

Palestinian Preventive Security Forces shuffle West Bank commanders
Ma’an News Agency 7/1/2008
Nablus - Ma’an – The Palestinian Preventive Security Forces, affiliated to Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, announced what they called a "routine" reshuffling of its regional commanders in the West Bank. Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that Colonel Akram Rajoub was transferred from Nablus to Ramallah, Colonel Mustafa Ad-Deidar was transferred from Bethlehem to Nablus, and Ahmad Abu Hashyeh was transferred from Qalqilia to Bethlehem. [end]

Peres names first Druze presidential military aide
Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
Israel Defense Forces Colonel Hasson Hasson yesterday became the first Druze appointed aide-de-camp to an Israeli president. At a ceremony yesterday, President Shimon Peres described the role as one of "the most delicate, sensitive, and difficult in Israel. " Hasson, who will be promoted to the rank of brigadier general next week, is replacing Brigadier General Shimon Hefetz, who spent 15 years as military adjutant to presidents Ezer Weizman, Moshe Katsav and Peres. Hefetz’s career was largely spent in General Staff positions, and as military aide to defense ministers. "[My job will be] to bring all of the tools necessary to the president that are very highly sensitive, both in terms of content and in working with all of the defense entities," said Hasson. "During the training period I had before the posting, I saw the tremendous contribution this liaison role makes, in matters that are hidden from the public eye.

Israeli court refuses to muzzle French TV station
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/2/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel’s top court on Tuesday rejected a petition to revoke the accreditation of a French television team which a right-wing group accused of staging footage of a Palestinian child apparently being killed by soldiers in 2000. "Such a measure can only occur in extreme cases that threaten state security," Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish said in her ruling. She added that the ruling did not imply any judgment about the TV report’s accuracy. The right-wing Shurat HaDin legal center had asked the court to order that the France 2’s accreditation be revoked, saying the report "was undoubtedly staged for Palestinian propaganda aims. "In footage broadcast in September 2000, Mohammad al-Durra, 12, and his father Jamal are seen crouching in fear on a Gaza street after being caught in crossfire between Palestinian militants and Israeli troops.

False alarm: President Peres in good health despite rumors of flu
Anshel Pfeffer and Ran Reznik, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
Staff at the Presidential Residence were quick to quell any rumors yesterday regarding the condition of the health of President Shimon Peres, following reports in the media that the 85-year-old statesman had been rushed to Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital. According to the spokeswoman at the residence, Peres was taken to the hospital on Sunday evening over a concern that he suffered from the flu. "The doctors at Hadassah quipped that they wished that much younger people than him [Peres] were in as good physical shape," said spokeswoman Ayelet Frisch. The president’s personal physical, Professor Rafi Valdan, who is also his son-in-law, was asked to give a more detailed report to the media, and the results of the tests were also sent to the press. According to Valdan, Peres suffered from "hoarseness and a light flu.

Jewish Agency: All Falashmura eligible for aliyah already here
Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
The Jewish Agency presented the Prime Minister’s Office with a report a few days ago showing that all the Falashmura deemed eligible for aliyah in 1999 have either arrived in Israel or have been declared ineligible by the Interior Ministry. About 2,000 people on the 1999 list were never checked for eligibility because no request was ever made to bring them to Israel. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has ordered his office to conduct a reexamination of the Falashmura issue, and the check is underway. According to a 2005 cabinet decision, the aliyah of all the Falashmura from Ethiopia was supposed to have been completed two months ago, but because of Olmert’s request, the Jewish Agency has not yet finished its work in Ethiopia, and the last 290 people are still waiting to come to Israel.

Scared of Netanyahu
Atilla Somfalvi, MIFTAH 7/1/2008
“Hannibal was a military commander who lived more than 2,000 years ago and defeated the Romans in several battles,” Benjamin Netanyahu said at the Knesset cafeteria last week. “For Hundreds of years, mothers in Rome would use him to scare children who wouldn’t eat. They would tell them: ‘If you don’t eat, Hannibal will come for you. ’ Now, Hannibal is back. I’m Hannibal. ”Netanyahu looked amused when he told this odd story, yet in reality he wasn’t amused at all. At the same time, not too far away from him, Haim Ramon was saying that Netanyahu will be the next prime minister and referred to Ehud Barak, who was still threatening to dissolve the Knesset that day, as “Bibi’s campaign manager. ” Ramon was not trying to talk quietly, and the Likud chairman could hear that he was the subject of discussion. “Bibi will come, Bibi will come,” Netanyahu imitated his rivals with a disparaging smile.

Court allows al-Durrah affair reporter to keep press pass
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 7/1/2008
Israeli group files petition to revoke press cards form television reporter who aired film of 2000 incident, after investigation proved footage was staged - The High Court of Justice has rejected a petition filed by the Shurat Hadin ("letter of the law") organization, asking to revoke the press credentials given by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) to the French television reporter who covered the killing of Muhammad al-Durrah in the Gaza Strip in September 2000. The report, which aired on France 2 TV channel, suggested that al-Durrah was hit by Israeli fire at the Netzarim Junction, and further stated that the boy’s death was one of the reasons for Arab-Israeli riots and the second Palestinian Intifada. TruthsayerParis court acquits media watchdog of libel over al-Dura footage/ Associated Press France 2 loses libel case against Philippe. . .

Judean hills railway tunnels get second look
Zafrir Rinat, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
The National Planning and Building Council yesterday agreed to appoint a team to examine alternatives to constructing two railway tunnels through the Jerusalem hills. Building the tunnels entails extensive earthworks in and around Yitla River, as well as the construction of a bridge over the river. Environmental organizations propose building a single tunnel, in order to minimize ecological damage to the area. Prof. Alfred Haack, a German tunneling expert whose opinion was solicited by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, concurred with this proposal and determined that it is feasible in terms of engineering and safety. [end]

Haaretz journalist wins investigative reporting award
Asaf Carmel, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
Haaretz journalist Yossi Melman received an award from the Investigative Reporters and Editors association (IRE), for his report on a Palestinian-Jordanian who was held illegally by American, Israeli and Jordanian security services. The American association awarded Melman as a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, whose members come from countries including the United States, Italy, Britain, Thailand, Colombia and Belgium. Association members received the prize for the investigation, "Collateral Damage: Human Rights and U. S. Military Aid after September 11. "The investigation revealed worldwide arrests and interrogations of international terrorism suspects by the United States security services. Melman’s contribution to the investigation was a report on Marwan Jabour, a Jordanian-born Palestinian who trained at an al-Qaida camp in Afghanistan.

Poll: Keep Diaspora Jews out of politics
Shlomo Shamir, Ha’aretz 7/2/2008
NEW YORK - Forty percent of Jewish Israelis believe that Diaspora Jews should continue to be allowed to legally fund political campaigns and personally support Israeli politicians, according to a recent survey. Half of respondents said such funding should be disallowed. The third annual Survey of Contemporary Israeli Attitudes toward World Jewry was conducted by the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem June 24-25, among a representative sample of 500 Jewish Israelis over the age of 18. Over 46 percent of respondents agreed with a recent initiative by Prime Minister Ehud Barak to encourage "strengthen[ing] Jewish education in Jewish communities" abroad rather than promoting mass Jewish immigration to Israel, while 38. 4 percent said the main goal of the government in Israel-Diaspora relations should continue to be the promotion of mass aliyah.

Majority of Jewish Israelis: Don’t factor Diaspora opinion on border changes
Ynetnews, YNetNews 7/1/2008
B’nai B’rith survey shows vast majority of Jewish Israelis believe government should not take Diaspora Jewish opinion into consideration when deciding on border changes; significant support found for paradigm shift in government’s Israel-Diaspora policy away from mass aliyah -Nearly 75% of Jewish Israelis believe the government should not take Diaspora Jewish opinion into consideration when deciding on border changes, according to the third annual Survey of Contemporary Israeli Attitudes Toward World Jewry commissioned by the B’nai B’rith World Center - Jerusalem and conducted by Keevoon Research, Strategy and Communications. The poll indicated that only 20. 5% of Israelis believe the government should take Diaspora Jewish opinion into consideration when deciding on such changes. According to the survey, 40% of Jewish Israelis believe Diaspora Jews should. . .

IDF: 50% of Israeli teens do not enlist
Moran Zelikovich, YNetNews 7/1/2008
Number of youths who enlist for military service drops further in 2008. Majority of men who do join army say they are satisfied with their service, desire combat positions - Only 52% of Israeli teenagers enlist in the IDF - this was the statistic presented Tuesday morning to the education committee by Col. Tziki Sela, head of the army’s Department of Planning and Manpower Administration. The data displays an ongoing trend showing that the amount of youths serving in the Israeli army is decreasing. In 2002, 59% enlisted. The figures include Arab and ultra-Orthodox youths, who are exempt from mandatory service. Sela estimated that there are approximately 7,000 draft dodgers every year. He added that in the upcoming years the number of people serving in the army is expected to decline even further.

Will they or won’t they? Lebanese await word on long-overdue cabinet
Daily Star 7/2/2008
BEIRUT: Sources close to President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora indicated Tuesday that Lebanon would have a new unity cabinet within 48 hours, but the struggle over portfolios showed no sign of abating. MP Michel Aoun, leader of the opposition Free Patriotic Movement, toldThe Daily Star that the formation of the new cabinet was being blocked by outsiders and not local parties. Aoun said none of the government scenarios being circulated in the media have actually reached him. Siniora was reported to have circulated some fresh ideas over the distribution of portfolios in the new government as Sleiman continued his own efforts to facilitate the process. Local daily An-Nahar quoted what it said were "well-informed" sources as saying that Siniora had offered Aoun a "compromise package" in which the retired general would choose between getting one of two key portfolios; telecommunications and public works.

UN envoy rips US violations in Iraq, Guantanamo, Afghanistan
Thalif Deen, Daily Star 7/2/2008
Inter Press ServiceUNITED NATIONS: After a two-week fact-finding tour of US prison and detention facilities, a UN human rights investigator has blasted the administration of President George W. Bush for a rash of shortcomings in the country’s flawed justice system and continued violations of the rule of law. Unleashing a stinging barrage of attacks, Professor Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary and arbitrary executions, singles out the existence of racism in the application of the death penalty in the United States, and the lack of transparency in the deaths of prisoners in the Guantanamo Bay detention facility housing suspected terrorists. Alston, a professor at the New York University School of Law and an outspoken critic of human rights abuses worldwide, also complains about the non-availability of information on civilian casualties in Iraq. . .

Sarkozy to meet Assad in Paris
Middle East Online 7/1/2008
PARIS - President Nicolas Sarkozy will meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Paris on July 12, an aide said Tuesday, confirming the French leader’s decision to restore high-level contacts with Damascus. The one-on-one meeting held on the eve of a summit to launch a new Union for the Mediterranean is "because the two countries have things to say to each other and things to build," said a presidential aide. Former President Jacques Chirac cut off official contacts with Damascus over charges of Syrian involvement in the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri, who was a friend of Chirac’s. Damascus has denied the claims. Assad is among some 40 foreign leaders who will be in Paris for the July 13 summit that will see European countries come together with states in the Mediterranean region including Arab nations and Israel to improve cooperation.

Revealed: the infighting that has hobbled hunt for Bin Laden
Leonard Doyle in Washington, The Independent 7/1/2008
Damaging details of infighting within the Bush administration and intelligence agencies are emerging, just months before George Bush leaves the White House. A scathing assessment of US failures in its war with al-Qa’ida was published by The New York Times yesterday, containing the charge that the infighting has hobbled efforts to capture Osama bin Laden and his senior lieutenants. The report coincides with revelations in The New Yorker about deep unease among congressional leaders over a secret directive issued by the Bush administration which significantly boosts the activities of Special Operations Forces inside Iran. The magazine also detected further disarray by highlighting concern within the US military about White House support for possible military strikes on Iran, which would aim to set back Iranian nuclear ambitions.

Former Iraqi detainees sue US military contractors
Middle East Online 7/1/2008
Four Iraqi men are suing US military contractors who they say tortured them while they were detained in Abu Ghraib prison, according to lawsuits being filed at US federal courts on Monday. The lawsuits allege the contractors committed violations of US law, including torture, war crimes and civil conspiracy. The scandal over the treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib unleashed a wave of global condemnation against the United States when images of abused prisoners surfaced in 2004. The four plaintiffs, all later released without charge, described their experiences on Monday at an Istanbul hotel, where they periodically meet their US legal team. They gave accounts of beatings, electric shocks and mock executions. The lawsuits named CACI International Inc, CACI Premier Technology, L-3 Services Inc and three individual contractors.


Articles


From triumph to torture
John Pilger, The Guardian 7/2/2008
      Israel’s treatment of an award-winning young Palestinian journalist is part of a terrible pattern.
     Two weeks ago, I presented a young Palestinian, Mohammed Omer, with the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. Awarded in memory of the great US war correspondent, the prize goes to journalists who expose establishment propaganda, or "official drivel", as Gellhorn called it. Mohammed shares the prize of £5,000 with Dahr Jamail. At 24, he is the youngest winner. His citation reads: "Every day, he reports from a war zone, where he is also a prisoner. His homeland, Gaza, is surrounded, starved, attacked, forgotten. He is a profoundly humane witness to one of the great injustices of our time. He is the voice of the voiceless." The eldest of eight, Mohammed has seen most of his siblings killed or wounded or maimed.
     Getting Mohammed to London to receive his prize was a major diplomatic operation. Israel has perfidious control over Gaza’s borders, and only with a Dutch embassy escort was he allowed out. Last Thursday, on his return journey, he was met at the Allenby Bridge crossing (to Jordan) by a Dutch official, who waited outside the Israeli building, unaware Mohammed had been seized by Shin Bet, Israel’s infamous security organisation. Mohammed was told to turn off his mobile and remove the battery. He asked if he could call his embassy escort and was told forcefully he could not. A man stood over his luggage, picking through his documents. "Where’s the money?" he demanded. Mohammed produced some US dollars. "Where is the English pound you have?"

Israel’s discriminatory water policies leave West Bank dry

Report, B''Tselem, Electronic Intifada 7/1/2008
      The chronic water shortage in the West Bank, resulting from an unfair distribution of water resources shared by the Palestinians and Israel, will be much graver this summer because of this year’s drought. In the northern West Bank, water consumption has fallen to one-third of the minimal amount needed.
     The 2008 drought, the most serious drought in the area in the past decade, aggravates the built-in, constant shortage of water in the West Bank. Rainfall this year in the northern West Bank was 64 percent of average, while in the southern sections of the West Bank, it was 55 percent. As a result, the water stored from rainfall has already been used.The Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) estimates this year’s water shortage in the West Bank at 42 to 69 million cubic meters. The total water consumption in the West Bank is 79 mcm. The PWA has already requested Mekorot -- the Israel Water Company -- for an emergency supply of eight mcm.
     Severe shortage of water for personal needs According to the World Health Organization, the per capita minimal amount of water needed for household and urban needs is one hundred liters a day. Due to the chronic water shortage, water consumption in the northern West Bank has dropped to one-third this amount. In Tubas, per capita consumption is 30 liters; in Jenin, it is 38 liters. In Nablus and the Southern Hebron Hills, the figure is slightly higher than 50 liters a day.

Joy in Affliction

Palestine Monitor 7/1/2008
      A Wedding in Qarawa
     The crowds gathered at the school of the small village with anticipation. A pause interrupted the commotion as the call for prayer came over the loudspeaker and everyone went to mosque. After the prayers, the explosion of chaos began without warning. The wedding had begun!
     For Palestinians, weddings take place in two ceremonies, one for the men and one for the women. The men of Qarawa Bani Zeid gathered on Friday night to celebrate the wedding of Majdi Arar. Over the past month, I had grown to love this village and its people. I had heard them all discuss the difficulties posed by a life under occupation. I had driven through checkpoints with them, visited neighboring villages that are surrounded by the Wall, and followed them on mobile clinics to places with no access to medical care. I had seen them hurt when they could not provide for their families because of the poor economy brought on by the Occupation. But on the night of the wedding, no one would have guessed the problems these men carried on their shoulders. Everyone gathered for the sole purpose of community and celebration.

Not only Palestinians suffer

Rami Almeghari writing from occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 7/1/2008
      "We gather here as Russian wives who are married to Gazan husbands, to preserve our culture, language and some of our lifestyle, particularly under these bad conditions in Gaza," said Jamila Assersawi, a Russian music teacher who has lived in Gaza for the past 15 years. Jamila and other Russian wives in Gaza gather at a health club in Gaza City twice a week, where they meet, chat and practice some exercises. They also let their children intermingle to preserve the Russian half of their culture.
     There are roughly 5,000 Russian women in Gaza. Many, like Jamila, have been living in Gaza for many years. For Jamila, having two children and running a married life has proven difficult with the situation in Gaza, where conditions are totally different from those of her own homeland or maybe any other country in the world. "Prior to the outbreak of the intifada, I used to feel more comfortable. But since 2000 and particularly the last year, things have become much worse. There is no gas, there is no fuel, there is nothing," she explained.

The Nakba of Ni’lin

Palestine Monitor 7/1/2008
      Land-owners Losing Their Olive Trees to the Wall
     The ancient olive tree is considered holy, mentioned in the Torah, the Christian Scriptures, and the Qur’an. This tree has also become an emblem of the connection between Palestinians and the land. But this sacred tree, a symbol of peace and abundance, is disappearing from Ni’lin.
     The village of Ni’lin has been greatly affected by the construction of the Wall since its commencement on May 20th. Portions of the Wall near the village were built on the Green Line, but not in Ni’lin, which is bordered to the southwest by the settlements of Hashmon’im, Modi’in Illit, and Mattityahu. Israeli authorities claim that the Wall is being built as security for these three settlements. Not only will the Wall impede easy movement to schools and workplaces in neighboring areas, but it will also destroy approximately five thousand olive trees. "How does this olive tree threaten the security of Israel?" exclaimed land-owner Asad Amera, pointing to a small tree on his property.

Illusions Built on Domestic Necessities

Ghassan Khatib, MIFTAH 7/1/2008
      In the last few weeks we have witnessed a series of developments that at face value might appear inconsistent with the general trends of deterioration that the Arab-Israel conflict in particular and the Middle East in general has been experiencing.
     There have been reports about indirect Syrian-Israeli negotiations mediated by Turkey and not objected to by the US. Egypt succeeded in brokering a truce between Israel and the Hamas leadership in Gaza that has been observed successfully, albeit only just. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice strikes an optimistic note regarding the current negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas.
     So is the trend reversing? Are negatives becoming positives and are we in the middle of a peace offensive, as some commentators have described it? Or are these just illusions and gimmicks motivated by the short-term political interests of certain leaders?

US hawks belie Iran’s ''existential threat'' to Israel

Gareth Porter, Electronic Intifada 7/1/2008
      WASHINGTON (IPS) - New arguments by analysts close to Israeli thinking in favor of US strikes against Iran cite evidence of Iranian military weakness in relation to the US and Israel and even raise doubts that Iran is rushing to obtain such weapons at all.
     The new arguments contradict Israel’s official argument that it faces an "existential threat" from an Islamic extremist Iranian regime determined to get nuclear weapons. They suggest that Israel, which already has as many as 200 nuclear weapons, views Iran from the position of the dominant power in the region rather than as the weaker state in the relationship.
     The existence of a sharp imbalance of power in favor of Israel and the US is the main premise of a recent analysis by Patrick Clawson and Michael Eisenstadt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) suggesting that a US attack on Iranian nuclear facilities is feasible. Chuck Freilich, a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center on Science and International Affairs, has also urged war against Iran on such a power imbalance.

Full account of Muhammed Omer’s hair-raising encounter with the Shin Bet

Khalid Amayreh, Palestine Think Tank 7/1/2008
      From his hospital bed at the European Hospital in Gaza  and with barely audible voice, award-winning Palestinian journalist Muhammed Omer has given a full account of  the  hair-raising encounter he had last week with  Shin Bet agents at the Allenby Bridge border-crossing between Jordan and the West Bank.
     Omer, a co-winner of the 2008 Martha Gelhorn Prize for Journalistic Excellence,  said  he was abused, assaulted, humiliated, ridiculed, kicked, and strip-searched at gunpoint by undisciplined Shin Bet officers until he had a nervous breakdown in which case he lost consciousness for at least 90 minutes.
     A  resident of Rafah at the southern edge of the Gaza Strip, Omer said he didn’t know for sure why the Shin Bet people treated him in such a barbaric matter apart from the characteristic sadism and savagery routinely meted out to Palestinians. -- See also: Israel denies it mistreated Gaza journalist at Jordan crossing