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

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5 July 2008

Israeli settlers bind Palestinian teacher to pole and club him in Samu’
Ma’an News Agency 7/5/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – A mob of Israeli settlers attacked 30-year-old Midhat Abu Karsh, a Palestinian teacher from the southern West Bank village of As-Samu’ south of Hebron on Saturday. Abu Karsh was hit in the head with sharp objects before he was dragged to a nearby settlement outpost where he was tied to an electricity pole. Eyewitnesses affirmed that four Israeli settlers struck Abu Karsh with clubs until his head began to bleed. He remained tied to the pole until an Israeli patrol came and untied him in order to administer first aid. Shortly after, Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances evacuated the teacher to the ’Alya Hospital in Hebron. According to Abdul-Majid Al-Badarin, member of the local committee for defending lands at As-Samu’, Israeli soldiers prevented local residents from accessing the injured teacher, and the ambulance had tried to reach him for two hours before it was allowed through.

Many injured by Israeli army as Ni’lin remains under siege
International Solidarity Movement 7/5/2008
Ramallah Region - Photos - For the second day in a row, on the 5th July,the village of Ni’lin remained under siege by the Israeli army, in an attempt to suppress the inhabitants fierce resistance to the stealing of their land due to the construction of the apartheid wall and the expansion of nearby settlements. The army has set up check points on all roads, allowing no one to enter or leave the village. Starting from eight o’clock in the morning the army have been carrying out continuous invasions, shooting tear gas and rubber bullets at people who happened to be in the streets. Despite the army’s attacks the Popular Committee of the village decided to carry out another non-violent demonstration, the seventh this week. The aim of today’s demonstration was to fly kites decorated with the Palestinian flag over the settlements built on the land of the village, to state that not only the land but also the air is Palestinian.

Gush Shalom: Maria Aman, a disabled Palestinian infant versus the state of Israel
Press Release from Gush Shalom, International Solidarity Movement 7/5/2008
Gaza Region - OnJuly 72008, at 9 a. m. , a High Court hearing will be held to look into the expulsion of Palestinian infant Maria Aman who was severely injured during a targeted attack in Gaza. Her doctors are concerned her life may be endangered if she is forced to transfer to a hospital in Ramallah. In May 2006, infant Maria Aman was severely injured during a targeted attack in Gaza. Her mother, older brother, grandmother and aunt were killed in the attack. Maria, nowseven years old, is completely paralyzed, will have to be connected to an artificial respiration machine for the rest of her life, and is still hospitalized in the Alyn Pediatric and Adolescent Rehabilitation Hospital in Jerusalem. The Ministry of Defense is seeking to expel the infant to a rehabilitation institution in Ramallah.

Israeli warships fire on Palestinian fishermen, further straining truce
Ma’an News Agency 7/5/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli warships used machineguns to fire on Palestinian fishermen in the Sudaniyya area of the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday morning. No casualties have been reported. Separately, on Friday, Israeli warships fired two shells at fishermen’s boats in the area of Tal As-Sultan, west of the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, damaging the boats. These attacks are in direct violation of a truce between Israel and Palestinian resistance groups that went into effect on 19 June. Israel and the Palestinian groups have accused each other of violating the ceasefire. According to the terms of the Egyptian-brokered truce, all sides are to hold their fire, and Israel is to gradually ease its year-old military blockade of Gaza’s borders. Twice however, the Israeli military has re-sealed the borders in response to Palestinian homemade projectiles fired from Gaza.

Az Zahar: due to western meddling, internal Palestinian dialogue at square one
Palestine News Network 7/5/2008
Riyadh / PNN -- Hamas leader and Foreign Minister, Mahmoud Az Zahar said that the Palestinian dialogue has "returned to square one. " He told Saudi’s Al Watan that there is no dialogue now "because there is no capacity among officials in Ramallah to hold a dialogue due to the US and European veto. " Even the failure of the Palestinian Unity Government, which would have in many minds ended the Fateh -- Hamas split, could not work as stated by most pundits because the United States refused to deal with Hamas. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya recently pointed out that the European Union has Hamas on its "terrorist" list, as does the US. Az Zahar said on Saturday that the Berlin conference also revealed that there is an American and European veto to the internal Palestinian dialogue. They are requiring that all factions recognize the conditions of the Quartet.

Syria tells UN: Israel is burying nuclear waste in Golan Heights
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 7/6/2008
Syria has complained to the United Nations about a series of alleged Israeli wrongdoings in the Golan Heights, including burying nuclear waste and discriminating against the region’s Druze residents. The complaint was made in a report Syria handed to a UN fact-finding committee comprised of Senegal, Sri Lanka and Malaysia’s ambassadors. The report came after Syria held a third round of indirect negotiations with Israel in Turkey this week. A Turkish government source said Thursday that both sides had agreed to hold a fourth round of indirect negotiations in Turkey in late July. Syria listed in the report a number of alleged Israeli violations of the Golan’s Druze inhabitants’ human rights. In addition the nuclear claim, Damascus charged that Israel confiscates the Israeli ID cards of Druze students who return from studies. . .

UN committee expresses concern over Israeli practices in the Golan
Palestinian Information Center 7/5/2008
GENEVA, (PIC)-- The UN Special Committee on Israeli practices in the occupied Arab lands has expressed concern over the human rights conditions in the Syrian Golan Heights under Israeli occupation since 1967. A statement issued on Friday by the Committee, formally known as the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, pointed to the Israeli restrictions on visits of Golan inhabitants to their relatives in Syria. It also mentioned the maltreatment of Golan detainees in Israeli jails especially the absence of adequate health services. Members of the Special Committee started their annual tour of the region on 23/6/2008 that covered Egypt, Jordan and Syria. The members reiterated the importance of Israel’s adherence to its legal commitments regarding the human rights laws and the international humanitarian laws.

VIDEO - Weekly demonstrations in Bil’in and al-Khader
IMEMC, International Solidarity Movement 7/4/2008
Bil’in Village - Bethlehem Region - Two international activists and a Palestinian injured in Bil’in Weekly Protest - Video by Israel Putermam - Three activists were injured by Israeli forces on Friday in the weekly protest against the separation wall in Bil’in; near the West Bank city of Ramallah: two of them are French activists and the third one is Mohamad Ali Abo Sa’di 65 years old, in addition to the dozens of protesters were treated for tear gas inhalation. Villagers from Bil’in marched together with international and Israeli solidarity activists after Friday prayers, carrying Palestinian flags and banners demanding the removal of the Israeli wall and settlements, while calling on the international community to lift the siege on Gaza and help Palestinians retain Jerusalem. Participants also demanded that the Israeli army stop killing Palestinian civilians and end the use of live ammunition against non-violent protesters.

Israeli forces invade Deir al Ghusun near Tulkarem
Ma’an News Agency 7/5/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an – Israeli forces invaded the northern West Bank town of Deir al Ghusun amidst intensive gunfire and sonic bombs on Saturday. A Ma’an correspondent quoted Palestinian security sources and eyewitnesses as saying that Israeli patrols are - at time of reporting- detaining cars and pedestrians on the main road between Deir al Ghsun and Bal’a village to the east of the town, as well as on the road between Deir al Ghusun and Al-Jarushiya to the south. The sources added that young Palestinian men began pelting invading Israeli soldiers with stones; the soldiers respond by shooting rubber-coated metal bullets. Some soldiers have taken positions on the tops of high buildings in the town’s center.

Israeli forces arrest six Palestinians in Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 7/5/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized six young Palestinian men on Saturday from the northern West Bank city of Nablus. Palestinian security sources said that Israeli forces raided the city at 2:00am and ransacked several homes near the Zuwata crossroads west of Nablus as well as in Al-’Ein refugee camp. The sources named the arrestees as 20-year-old Salam Az-Zaqzouq, his brother 18-year-old Saddam, 18-year-old Muhammad Yameen, 17-year-old Muhammad Khalbous, and 18-year-old Abdul-HaleemAl-Qan’eer. [end]

Israeli Army attacks nonviolent protest near Ramallah, injures 22 civilians
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/5/2008
At least 22 civilians were injured by Israeli army fire, when troops attacked a nonviolent protest in the village of Na’alen, located near the central West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday midday. In addition, four Israeli civilians participating in the protest were kidnapped by Israeli forces and taken to unknown locations. The villagers of Na’alen organized a protest on Friday against the illegal Israeli wall being built on the villagers’ lands. Sources in the village said that the protest took place in two waves in an attempt to stop the bulldozers from destroying the village farm lands. Salah Al Khawaja, of the local Popular Committee against the Wall, said that soldiers attacked the protesters with tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and concussion grenades, injuring 22. Al Khawaja added that troops attacked the villagers in their homes after the demonstration, and closed all roads leading in or out of the village.

Villagers of Ni’lin break curfew to hold non-violent demonstration
International Solidarity Movement 7/5/2008
Ramallah Region - During the day 24 persons were injured by rubber-bullets, live ammunition and tear-gas. - At five o’clock on the morning the 4th July, the Israeli army declared the village of Ni’lin as a closed military zone and blocked the three entrances to the village. The village was now under curfew. The Israeli army prevented the Palestinians from entering and leaving the village. The committee against the wall had planned a non-violent prayer-demonstration, as every Friday, at twelve o’clock. Usually the demonstration takes place at the construction-area of the wall but because of the closed military zone today it took place close to one of the roadblocks. 600 villages participated. 15 Israeli and international activists joined the protests after they managed to enter the village through the fields.

IDF blockades W. Bank village after rallies against security fence
Yuval Azoulay and Reuters, Ha’aretz 7/6/2008
Israel Defense Forces troops blockaded the West Bank village of Na’alin on Saturday in what the army called an open-ended effort to curb protests against the construction nearby of the controversial security fence. Troops were encircling Na’alin, near the Palestinian hub city of Ramallah, under orders to vet those entering or leaving the village and turn back would-be demonstrators against the barrier, which has been condemned internationally for taking in occupied land. "These protests have been getting increasingly violent, and they must be stopped," an IDF spokeswoman said. On Friday, she said, hundreds of demonstrators threw rocks and rolled burning tires toward Israeli border policemen guarding the fence, wounding one and damaging a jeep. Na’alin residents said the closure was imposed on Friday, which also saw. . .

Collective Punishment Fails to Break Popular Non-Violent Struggle Against the Wall
Palestinian National Initiative, Palestine Monitor 7/5/2008
Ramallah, 05-07-08: "Collective punishment aimed at breaking the popular, non-violent struggle against the Wall," was how PNI Secretary General, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi MP, today described the ongoing closure by the Israeli military of Ni’lin village, where peaceful demonstrations against construction of the Wall have been taking place since May. The Israeli military declared Ni’lin a closed military zone at 05:00 on Friday morning, blocking the three entrances to the village and enforcing a curfew. All entry to, and exit from the village has been prevented since then. "This is a blatant attempt to prevent the weekly non-violent protest against the Wall on Fridays," said Dr. Barghouthi. Villagers defied the curfew however, by marching en masse to one of the roadblocks. Some 600 villages - men, women and children - together with 15 international and Israeli supporters,. . .

Power of Palestinian nonviolent resistance: Israeli forces now deem W Ramallah closed military zone
Palestine News Network 7/5/2008
Ramallah / PNN -- Spokesperson for the Media Commission to Resist the Wall in the western Ramallah villages, Salah Al Khawaja, has reported that for the second day running Israeli forces are preventing their movement in and out of the city under the pretext that the western Ramallah District is a "closed military zone. " Western Ramallah villages are vital in the nonviolent Palestinian resistance against Israeli settlement expansion, Wall building, and land confiscation. The nonviolent resistance has been targeted with arrests, rubber-coated steel bullets, live ammunition, gas, beatings and closures. Khawaja told the press on Saturday that 446 soldiers are in the streets, and a total of 600 are in place to divide West Bank towns from one another. For the second day, Israeli forces have denied medical patients, employees and students to move.

Israeli forces place village known for anti-wall protests under constant curfew
Ma’an News Agency 7/5/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli troops have imposed a curfew on the entire West Bank village of Nil’in, northwest of the city of Ramallah, forcing residents inside their homes and blocking the community’s three main entrances, witnesses inside the village said on Saturday. Witnesses said that Israeli forces are using tear gas, rubber-coated metal bullets and occasional live rounds to enforce the curfew. The villagers of Nil’in and their international and Israeli supporters have been staging weekly demonstrations against the construction of Israel’s separation wall. The Israeli military has violently cracked down on these demonstrations, resulting in scores of injuries. Former Palestinian Minister of Information Mustafa Bargouthi called the closure "collective punishment aimed at breaking the popular, non-violent struggle against the wall.

Na’alin under blockade as IDF fights protests
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 7/5/2008
Citing increasing violence at demonstrations against separation fence near Ramallah, army imposes blockade against West Bank village. Some 200 Palestinian, Israeli and foreign nationals stage protest regardless of measure - The IDF blockaded the West Bank village of Na’alin, located west of Ramallah, on Saturday in an attempt to prohibit the routine demonstrations staged there against the construction of the separation fence. "The level of violence at these protests has increased significantly this past week," the army said. However, the blockade was ignored by the over 200 protestors who staged a demonstration near the village on Saturday evening. The demonstrators - Israelis, Palestinians and foreign-nationals from left-wing groups - say the route of the fence annexes lands belonging to the village.

Ni’lin defies curfew and closure and blocks settler-only road
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 7/5/2008
At 5 am on Friday morning, occupation forces invaded the village of Ni’lin, ordering a complete curfew and closing all access roads to the village in an effort to pre-empt further demonstrations. While Israeli repression grows, it has failed to prevent a further two demonstrations which succeeded in paralyzing settler traffic in the area for hours during Friday. Above: Occupation forces in front of the settlement are challenged by the youth of Ni’lin. The curfew and closure of access roads to Ni’lin have most severely effected the elderly. One old woman, who felt sick in the morning, was prevented from going to the local clinic when the military sent her back home. Another elderly woman who needed medical care was barred from reaching the hospital in Ramallah.

Hamas: Targeting fishing boats one of Israel’s repeated violations of the calm
Palestinian Information Center 7/5/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Saturday strongly denounced Israel for letting its gunboats open fire at Palestinian fishermen, considering such acts aas one of the repeated violations of the truce. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, pointed out that the calm agreement clearly stipulates the cessation of all forms of Israeli aggression whether on land or sea, starting in Gaza for six months and then extending to the West Bank. Barhoum added that Israel is flouting all truce agreement items where it is still closing all Gaza crossings and its troops are targeting Palestinian fishermen at sea and farmers on the Gaza borderline. For his part, Nizar Ayesh, the head of the Palestinian fishermen, reported that every night Israeli gunboats open fire at fishing boats at the pretext that they crossed the authorized fishing area.

Haneyya: The closures indicate that Israel is not serious about the calm
Palestinian Information Center 7/5/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ismail Haneyya, the premier of the PA caretaker government, stated Friday that the repeated Israeli closure of Gaza crossings is an indication that the Israeli occupation is not serious at all about implementing its obligations towards the Egyptian-brokered truce agreement. Haneyya underlined that what is required now is to make achievements in big files under the auspices of Egypt including the issues of the truce, the crossings and the prisoner swap deal. Regarding the Rafah border crossing, the premier said that the relevant parties represented in his government, the PA leadership and the Europeans are awaiting an Egyptian invitation to discuss the appropriate mechanism to re-operate the Palestinian-Egyptian crossing. In a new development, the Hebrew radio reported that Israeli war minister Ehud Barak ordered the closure of all Gaza crossings on Friday at the. . .

Hamas: internal dialogue is back to ground zero
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/5/2008
Mahmud Al Zahar, a prominent Hamas leader in Gaza, stated Saturday that the Palestinian internal dialogue is back to ground zero. He added that that there are no new developments on that front. Al Zahar also said that Ramallah officials don’t have the capacity to enter a serious dialogue because of the American and European Veto. Al Zahar said to Alwatan Saudi news paper on Saturday that the Berlin conference revealed that there is an American European Veto over the Palestinian internal dialogue process. He said that this Veto sets unreasonable conditions on Hamas and the other political groups, and that Hamas rejects this interference. Al Zahar put the responsibility for the lack of Palestinian internal unity on the western world, and accused those nations of interfering on Israel’s behalf. He added that even if a dialogue happens, former negative experiences will prevail, pointing. . .

Hamas: Abbas is no longer concerned about national consensus
Palestinian Information Center 7/5/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement strongly castigated Saturday PA chief Mahmoud Abbas, saying that he is no longer concerned about the Palestinian public opinion and the national consensus, and wants only to protect his personal interests at the expense of the higher interests of the Palestinian people. Commenting on the upcoming PA-Israeli talks in US, Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said in an exclusive statement to the PIC that Abbas is insistent on attending meetings with Israelis despite the ongoing settlement activities, the construction of the apartheid wall, the judaization of occupied Jerusalem, the crimes and violations committed daily by the IOF troops and above all his admission that the negotiations are useless. Barhoum also commented on Israeli president Shimon Peres’s description of Abbas as "lacking legitimacy and authoritatively weak" by saying: "This brings us back. . .

Zahhar: Euro-American veto froze inter-Palestinian dialog
Palestinian Information Center 7/5/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, one of the prominent Hamas leaders in Gaza Strip, has charged that the inter-Palestinian dialog had returned to square one due to the Euro-American veto against initiating such dialog. Zahhar, in an interview with Saudi daily Al-Watan published on Saturday, said that the Berlin conference revealed the presence of a Euro-American veto against internal Palestinian dialogue that would not be preceded by Hamas and other factions’ recognition of the international quartet committee’s conditions. He pointed out that Hamas and other factions refused the conditions. Zahhar held the western world responsible for the absence of the Palestinian dialog, and accused it of blatant intervention in essentially internal Palestinian issues in service of Israel’s interest. The Hamas leader further pointed to the absence of a united Fatah position towards. . .

Hamas: elements within Fatah to blame for absence of dialogue
Ma’an News Agency 7/5/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum accused elements within the Fatah movement on Saturday of impeding President Mahmoud Abbas’ initiative for dialogue between the opposing factions. "Hamas considers dialogue a basic strategy as it is the only way to arrange the Palestinian home front and to get national project to succeed," Barhoum told Ma’an, calling on President Abbas and his Fatah movement to forget about those who try to impede dialogue. He also urged Fatah to immediately start comprehensive dialogue with Hamas under Arab or Palestinian supervision. He added, "Those who do not like to hold talks with Hamas or do not want Palestinian home front arranged have their own interests which they give priority over Palestinian interests. " Hamas’ spokesperson explained that so far no Arab country has offered to sponsor Hamas-Fatah dialogue.

Israel lobbies UN as Ban mulls appointment of new human rights chief
Barak Ravid , and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 7/6/2008
Officials in Jerusalem are anxiously anticipating the United Nations’ upcoming appointment of a new human rights commissioner to replace Louise Arbour, the Canadian jurist and former Supreme Court judge who stepped down earlier this week. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon interviews prospective candidates, Israeli officials are attempting to exert their influence in the hopes the world body taps a figure whom Jerusalem perceives as non-hostile. Two candidates in particular are worrisome from Israel’s standpoint - Luis Alfonso de Alba, a Mexican diplomat who has expressed anti-Israel views in years past; and the Swiss foreign minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey, who aroused Jerusalem’s ire after paying an official visit to Iran earlier this year. Despite past differences of opinion on a host of issues, Israeli officials have conducted. . .

The Daily Star: Israel bars UN rights panel from Palestinian areas
Agence France Presse, Daily Star, International Solidarity Movement 7/5/2008
Denial of entry - 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.

Hamas TV: U.S. bill to outlaw us aims at silencing free voices
DPA, Ha’aretz 7/6/2008
Hamas’ Gaza-based Al-Aqsa TV on Saturday denounced a resolution presented to the United States Congress seeking to have it outlawed as a terrorist organization. The resolution, presented on June 26, was "politically motivated and aims at silencing every free voice uncovering U. S. and Zionist acts," said Fathi Hamad, a lawmaker who heads the satellite channel operated by the Hamas Palestinian militant movement. The draft condemned Al-Aqsa for incitement to violence against Americans as well as sponsoring recruitment and fundraising for terrorism against the U. S. Hamad said the channel "was mainly a resistance broadcaster that presented programs showing the Palestinian cause. "The resolution mentioned a puppet show aired by Al-Aqsa in March that depicted an Arab child stabbing the president of the U.

Bush ’Encouraged’ After Olmert, Abbas Calls
Agence France Presse, MIFTAH 7/5/2008
US President George W. Bush came away from talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Wednesday "encouraged" about prospects for Middle East peace, said White House spokseman Gordon Johndroe. Bush discussed efforts to reach a deal defining the outlines of a future Palestinian state by year’s end in separate telephone calls with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, said Johndroe. " The president was calling to touch base on the process as well as encourage the two leaders," before he heads to the Group of Eight summit of industrialized nations in Japan on Friday, said Johndroe. " I think the president was encouraged by what he heard from Prime Minister Olmert and president Abbas. The two leaders are both committed to continue to work with each other and make progress on the core issues," he added.

Hamas: Israel not interested in peace with the Palestinians
Palestinian Information Center 7/5/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Saturday reiterated its conviction that Israel was not interested in forging peace with the Palestinians and cited as proof the latest statement of Israeli president Shimon Peres. Hamas, in a statement in the West Bank, said that Peres’s description of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas as a leader without legitimacy among his people and unable to carry out any security agreement proved that the Israeli leaders only want a Palestinian leader capable of implementing their security needs even it meant that he would run contrary to his own people’s wishes. The Movement wondered what the Palestinian negotiator was hoping for after such statements. Peres’s statement is a message to those who unilaterally negotiate with "Zionists away from their people’s wishes," Hamas underlined. "Zionists only respect strength," it said, noting that resistance in Gaza. . .

Abbas spokesman: PA: Israeli approach to peace talks ’not serious’
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/5/2008
Abu Rudeineh slams ’lack of seriousness’ on Israel’s part, but says peace talks expected to resume in New York, Washington in 10 days -The Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams will resume their discussions in the US in 10 days’ time, according to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman. "The entire world sees the need for the establishment of a Palestinian state, but unfortunately Israel continues to stall for timeand is displaying a lack of seriousness, and so far we have not agreed on any of the core issues," Nabil Abu Rudeineh said Saturday. The spokesman added that Abbas is expected to visit Syria soon as part of his effort to embolden the Palestinian Authority’s ties to the Arab world, According to Abu Rudeineh, the talks in Damascus will apparently focus on the Fatah-Hamas dispute, which, according to him, "hurts the Palestinian cause".

Rice: Democratic forces emerging in Palestinian territories
AFP, YNetNews 7/5/2008
US secretary of state claims Middle East improved since Bush took office. ’ We’re now beginning to see that perhaps it’s not so popular to be a suicide bomber,’ she says - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday that she was "proud" of the US decision to invade Iraq and said the Middle East had improved since President George W. Bush took office. Rice said Iran had suffered "setbacks" and Al-Qaeda was "on its heels," while democracy had made a "breakthrough" with women voting in Kuwait, "democratic forces" emerging in the Palestinian territories and "a democracy at the center of the Arab world in Iraq. " "We’re now beginning to see that perhaps it’s not so popular to be a suicide bomber. We’re beginning to see that perhaps people are questioning whether Osama bin Laden ought to really be the face of Islam," she said.

Jewish Daily Forward: Congress delivers promised Israel aid bump despite budget deadlock
Nathan Guttman, The Forward, International Solidarity Movement 7/5/2008
Move bypasses normal appropriation process - Washington - While almost all federally financed programs were denied any funding increase for the coming year, aid to Israel from the United States will increase thanks to a legislative loophole and some deft maneuvering by pro-Israel lobbyists. Congress bypassed the normal appropriation process on June 26 when it approved a $170 million raise in military aid to Israel, as part of a larger supplemental spending bill. The increase contrasts with the standstill in budgeting for almost all other government programs. Due to fighting between Democrats and Republicans over the federal budget, most government spending will be held in what is known as a "continuous resolution," which maintains all spending at the same level as in the previous fiscal year and allows no raise in government spending.

Palestinian and Israeli negotiators to meet in the US
Ma’an News Agency 7/5/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian and the Israeli peace negotiating teams are scheduled to meet ten days from now in the United States, and US officials will attend the meetings, says Nabil Abu Rdaina, the spokesperson of the Palestinian presidency said on Saturday. Abu Rdaina held Israel responsible for the a lack of progress in the negotiations. Israel and the Palestinian Authority re-entered direct negotiations at an international conference in the US last November. Since then, the talks have taken place in secret, making no tangible progress. [end]

Israel to hand over bodies of 13 Islamic Jihad fighters, group says
Ma’an News Agency 7/5/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel will hand over the remains of 13 Islamic Jihad fighters killed in southern Lebanon as a part of an expected prisoner exchange between Hizbullah and Israel, Islamic Jihad sources said on Saturday. The sources said that the slain fighters were residents of Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Among the bodies to be handed over are those of Ghassan Al-Jada’ and Muhammad Abdul-Wahhab, who took part in an attack on the Israeli town of Shlomi, on the Lebanese border. [end]

Violent confrontation between Palestinians, settlers
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/5/2008
Palestinians exchange blows with settlers of Asael near Mt. Hebron, acres of agricultural fields set on fire; settlers accused of tying Palestinian man to pole, beating him for two hours - A dispute between Palestinians and settlers from Asael, south of Mount Hebron, ended in violence and extensive property damage on Saturday. Hebron police received a report that the settlement’s security officer had detained six Palestinians in the afternoon hours. Firefighters were alerted to the scene to combat a blaze that consumed a crop field - a fire police say appears to be a case of arson. A number of left-wing activists and Palestinians have been singled out as the suspected perpetrators. The Palestinians, residents of the village of Samoa, claimed they were attacked by settlers, who set fire to three acres of wheat fields.

VIDEO: Settlers tie Palestinian man to phone pole and beat him
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 7/6/2008
A group of West Bank settlers on Saturday beat a 31-year-old Palestinian man in the southern Hebron Hills, after having tied him to a telephone pole. Left-wing activists later videoed a settler kicking Madahat Abu-Kirash, the victim, as he remained tied up and was surrounded by Israeli security forces. The soldiers subsequently removed the settler from the scene. Hebron police opened an investigation into the incident after Abu-Kirash submitted a complaint, claiming that he had been beaten all over his body. According to the left-wing organization Ta’ayush, whose members were close to the scene of the assault and witnessed part of it, the incident began when residents of the settlement of Asael accused Abu-Kirash of setting a field alight a few hundred meters away from their homes.

VIDEO - Palestinian farmer kidnapped, bound and abused by settlers
International Solidarity Movement 7/5/2008
Hebron Region - Video - On the 5th of July, Palestinian farmer Medhat Abu Karsheh, 30 years old, was attacked on his land by armed settlers from the illegal outpost of Asaeel, south of Hebron. Abu Kersheh was kidnapped and bound to a pole for several hours in the burning sun next to the outpost. Settlers brutally battered him and according to witnesses threw hot water over him. Around 10 am international and Israeli human rights activists arrived to the illegal outpost Asaeel finding the Palestinian farmer Medhat Abu Karsheh from the village Samoa tied to a pole. The kidnapping and the abuse started approximately two hours earlier. Medhat was taken by the settlers while trying to stop a fire they started on his land. The military refused to release Abu Karsheh or let any Palestinian or activist come closer than 20 meters.

TIPH denounces Israeli expansion of Beit Romano settlement
Palestinian Information Center 7/5/2008
AL-KHALIL, (PIC)-- The temporary international presence in Hebron (Al-Khalil) mission on Saturday denounced the Israeli occupation authority’s approval to the expansion of the settlement of Beit Romano in the Old City of Al-Khalil. TIPH head of mission Roy C. Grottheim said in a press release that the expansion of the settlement in downtown would only lead to increasing tensions in the city in addition to being contrary to promises to freeze construction of settlement units in the West Bank. He said that the mission would like to remind the Israeli authorities with the latest increase in violence after occupying a house in Al-Khalil. "Hence the mission is concerned over the expansion of Beit Romano because it might threaten stability in the entire city," he elaborated. Grottheim said that the permission granted by the Israeli "minister of the army" ran contrary to all agreements signed by Israel with the Palestinian Authority on Al-Khalil.

Solana Calls on Israel to Halt Settlement Activities
Kuwait News Agency, MIFTAH 7/5/2008
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana warned Wednesday that it will be extremely difficult to have negotiations on the final-status of Palestine if Israel does not stop its settlements in occupied Palestinian lands. " Realities on the ground have to change. I want to say it very clearly that settlements have to stop. We cannot enter in a process which is part of the way to determine by the end of the year 2008 if there is no clear commitment on the settlements," Solana told a conference on Palestine in the European Parliament. " I think it will be impossible, very difficult to have negotiations on final status while the final status is changing prior to the negotiations," he said. " I say that in front of my good friend," said Solana pointing to Ayalon Ami, minister in the Israeli prime ministers office, who sat next to the EU foreign policy chief.

Jerusalem Attack Highlights Discrimatory Israeli Policies [June 29 – July 5]
Jerusalem was back in the spotlight this week after three Israelis were killed and more than 50 others injured when 30-year old Hussam Duweiyat plowed into them with a bulldozer on a busy west Jerusalem street. On July 2, Duweiyat, a construction worker in the city, went on a rampage on Jaffa Street in the western sector of Jerusalem, overturning an Israeli bus filled with passengers, ramming into it again before hitting another bus and several cars. Duweiyat was shot and killed by a nearby policeman. The attack resulted in the deaths of three Israelis – two men and one woman – in addition to the perpetrator. No Palestinian faction claimed responsibility for the bulldozer rampage and Duweiyat’s family insist their son was not affiliated to any political faction whatsoever. This seemed to be the opinion of others, including Duweiyat’s former Jewish girlfriend who is reportedly also the

Dichter: House demolitions key deterrent against terror
Yonat Atlas, YNetNews 7/5/2008
Internal security minister says east Jerusalem residents shouldn’t be vilified ’because of two lone terrorists,’ adds Olmert won’t be able to stay on as PM following Kadima primaries -"The demolition of terrorists’ homes is a key component of Israel’s deterrence," Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter said in reference to the calls to raze the east Jerusalem home of Hossam Dawyyat, the bulldozer driver whokilled three people in the capital on Wednesday. Speaking at a cultural forum in Beersheba, Dichter backed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s position, according to which the Palestinian residents of east Jerusalem cannot be separated from the rest of the capital. " We mustn’t vilify all of east Jerusalem’s residents because of two terrorists who acted alone," he said, referring to Dawyyat and Alaa Abu Dheim, the terrorist behind the March 6 attack. . .

Barak orders his army to prepare for razing homes of two Jerusalemites
Palestinian Information Center 7/5/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Israeli war minister Ehud Barak has ordered his army to prepare for razing the homes of two Palestinians at the pretext they launched two resistance attacks in occupied Jerusalem. The Hebrew radio on Friday evening said that Barak issued his orders against the family homes of Alaa Abu Duhaim who carried out a machinegun attack in occupied Jerusalem earlier this year against an institute that graduated Jewish fanatics to work in the Israeli army. The order also included demolishing the family home of Husam Duwayat who drove a bulldozer in a Jerusalem street causing a bus to overturn and destroying a number of cars a few days ago. Barak’s decision resumes the policy of mass punishment in demolishing homes of Palestinians allegedly responsible for attacks on Israelis. The decision came one day after Israel’s judicial advisor Menachem Mazuz said that. . .

Jerusalem attacker had son with Jewish girlfriend
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/5/2008
Israeli online daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, reported that the Palestinian man who carried the attack in Jerusalem on Wednesday had a relationship in the past with an Israeli Jewish woman, and they had a 7 year old child. At least three Israelis were killed and 30 others were wounded, two seriously, as the attacker drove a bulldozer into an Israeli bus and a number of cars on Jaffa Street in West Jerusalem on Wednesday midday. Israeli sources said a Palestinian from Jerusalem, identified as Tayyser Dowikat, 31, carried out this attack, and was shot by Israeli policemen who were in the area. The attacker according to an Israeli police source had a criminal record as he was sentenced on February 2001 to 12 months imprisonment for assaulting his girlfriend. Yedioth Ahronoth report stated that Dowikat was involved with a Jewish woman from a settlement in Jerusalem.

Addameer: bulldozer incident investigation needs international supervision
Ma’an News Agency 7/5/2008
[Ma’anImages] Gaza – Ma’an - Addameer (Conscience) Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association, a Palestinian non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting and protecting the rights of political prisoners and detainees released a statement on Saturday condemning "execution" of Jerusalem bulldozer attacker Husam Dwayyat. The statement described the execution as "violation of the right to life. "The statement also slammed the Israeli Knesset’s decision to demolish the man’s home, describing the action as "racial behavior and collective punishment against Palestinian residents of Jerusalem. " The association demanded in its statement that investigations be held under international supervision since there are some indications that the incident was in fact a road accident with nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel may raze Jerusalem attacker’s home
Middle East Online 7/5/2008
TEL AVIV - An Israeli government proposal to demolish homes of Palestinians from Arab East Jerusalem who attack Israelis is legally viable (according to Israeli – not international - law), Israel’s attorney-general wrote in a legal opinion. Menachem Mazuz gave his legal response following a proposal by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Thursday that Israel should destroy the homes of "every terrorist from Jerusalem" after a Palestinian killed three Israelis in a bulldozer rampage. "In light of repeated rulings over the years by the Supreme Court, it cannot be said that there is a legal objection to using the right to demolish houses within Jerusalem," Mazuz was quoted as saying in excerpts released by the Justice Ministry. But Mazuz warned that dusting off the practice of house demolitions could draw international condemnation.

Bulldozer driver family home under demolition threat: father of 2 young children
Maisa Abu Ghazaleh, Palestine News Network 7/5/2008
Jerusalem - Again in less than four months someone targeted the Israelis after a daily barrage against Palestinians. However the weapon was not a belt or a firearm: it was a bulldozer. The man was from East Jerusalem where Israeli forces are routinely bulldozing homes, olive groves and land. His name was Husam Badawi. He had two children and lived in Sur Bahir. Now the Israeli bulldozers are at his family’s doorstep. Dozens of journalists picked up the live feed, from their cameras or form others, of the last moments of his life after he hit an Israeli bus and cars in West Jerusalem. He killed three Israelis in the process. And he was shot dead. From that moment residents of East Jerusalem have been under greater attack than they were before, from Israeli settlers, soldiers, police and the government.

Middle East Press Views Jerusalem Bulldozer Attack
BBC News, MIFTAH 7/5/2008
Wednesday’s attack by a Palestinian who went on a bulldozing rampage in west Jerusalem, killing three people and wounding dozens, has provoked comment in the Israeli, Palestinian and regional press. The attack raised questions in right-wing Israeli media on the partition of Jerusalem and whether retaliatory measures should be taken, while other titles called for a continuation of the peace process. Further afield, regional press in the Middle East suggested the attack was a result of frustrations felt by many Palestinians over issues surrounding the West Bank and Gaza. RAFFI MANN IN ISRAEL’S MA’ARIV We must fight terrorism but not allow the bulldozer’s rampage to trample down the peace process and efforts for compromise.

Child labor on the rise at checkpoints as those barriers prevent adults from reaching work
Amin Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 7/5/2008
Nablus -- Children have been selling gum, Kleenex, batteries, a myriad of items, at checkpoints for years. But the phenomenon of child labor is on the rise due to increased poverty and unemployment, and is of particular concern to children’s rights groups and Palestinian institutions. As the weather becomes hotter and during times of increased restrictions at the checkpoints which cause lines to be long and slow, the kids turn to selling water and sodas. Shaher Sa’ad, Secretary General of the Federation of Trade Unions says that the existence of child labor, particularly at checkpoints, is widely viewed as a negative phenomenon and has adverse repercussions on the community. But it is not just children who engage in this work. With unemployment and underemployment on the rise, in large part due to these checkpoints that disallow. . .

Palestinian Workers Union slams Israel’s arrest of 50 Palestinian workers
International Middle East Media Center, Palestine Monitor 7/5/2008
Shaher Sa’ad, secretary-general of the Palestinian Workers Union, slammed the Israeli attacks against Palestinian workers and said that Israel arrested 50 workers in Jerusalem after claiming that they do not carry the needed work permits. Sa’ad added that Israeli policemen chased and arrested 50 workers in an area in Jerusalem. The workers were assaulted, humiliated and were taken to a nearby police station. He also stated that these assaults violate the international law and human rights regulations as those workers are trying to work in order to sustain a decent living to their children and families. Sa’ad urged international organizations to practice pressure on the Israeli Authorities in order to stop their violations against the workers especially since the Israeli restrictions caused a sharp increase of poverty rates in Palestine.

Human rights report: Israeli forces continue systematic violations of Palestinian rights
Palestine News Network 7/5/2008
Gaza / PCHR - The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights released its report on "Israeli Violations Documented during the Reporting Period 26 June -- 2 July 2008. " Israeli forces killed two Palestinian children in the West Bank. Eight Palestinian civilians, including two children and a woman, were wounded by the Israeli gunfire; five of them were injured in Ne’lin village near Ramallah. "Israeli occupation forces (IOF) conducted 44 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. IOF arrested 42 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, in the West Bank. IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT and have isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world. IOF troops harassed a journalist from Gaza at al-Karama International Crossing Point on the Jordanian Border.

2 Palestinian protesters arrested at al-Ma’sara demonstration
International Solidarity Movement 7/5/2008
Photos - Bethlehem Region - On the morning of Friday the 4th of July 25 Palestinians and 15 internationals and Israelis participated in a weekly non-violent protest against the apartheid wall in the village of Al Masara, close to Bethlehem in the West Bank. The demonstration was halted on its way to the wall bythe Israeli Army. The army threw sound bombs at the non-violent demonstrators and arrested two Palestinian protesters trying to reach their lands annexed by Israel. Protesters gathered in Al Masara village and started marching towards the planned route of the apartheid wall, carrying a huge Palestinian banner. The demonstration was stopped by soldiers blocking the main entrance to the village with razor wire and several jeeps. After thirty minutes of peaceful protesting the army detained two Palestinians trying to pass the blocked road and threw several sound bombs at protesters trying to liberate the Palestinians.

Israeli Army disperses anti wall demonstration in Al Ma’sara
Maan News, Palestine Monitor 7/5/2008
5 July 2008 - Israeli forces fired live bullets and tear gas bombs at a group of protesters in Al Ma’sara Friday. The rally was organized by the residents of Al Ma’sara, a village south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. The action was in protest of the separation wall being built by Israel which will cut through some of the village land. Eight protestors were slightly injured and five others were arrested. Among those injured were Hasan Brejieh, a member of the Anti Wall committee and Ahamad Taqatqah, as well as three international activists. The weekly protest began in response to a statement from the Popular Committee Against the Wall (PCAW) which called on Palestinians and international activists to help hold Israel to the decision made by International Court of Justice in the Hague (ICJ) and the UN that the construction of the wall inside the West Bank is illegal.

Live bullets, sound grenades and tear gas to repress al Ma’sra’s weekly demonstrations
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 7/5/2008
Latest News, Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign ,Live bullets, sound grenades and tear gas were used by occupation forces to disperse a popular march that started from the centre of al Ma’sra, south of Bethlehem, and moved towards the Apartheid Wall. Organizers vowed continued resistance and announced more protests to mark the 4th anniversary of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision, which declared the Wall illegal, called for it to be dismantled and those affected to be compensated for the damages. A large number of occupation forces were called to the area. Immediately after the demonstrators arrived at the place of the construction works for the Wall, they attacked the people using live bullets, tear gas, sound bombs and batons. Eight people were wounded and had to be treated in the local clinic.

’Police called us smelly Bedouin, then they started to beat us’
Mijal Grinberg, Ha’aretz 7/6/2008
Sabri al-Jarjawi, a 25-year-old resident of the Negev town of Segev Shalom who was severely beaten by police in Ashkelon three months ago, died of his wounds last weekend. Al-Jarjawi’s family claims that two detectives from the Lachish district brutally beat him after calling him a "smelly Bedouin. "The family has petitioned the High Court, requesting that both detectives be suspended from duty and that the investigation into al-Jarjawi’s death be quickly concluded. The police internal affairs division responsible for investigating officers said any decision on a possible suspension would be made following the results of pathological tests on the victim’s body. The incident happened on the night of March 21 of this year. Al-Jarjawi and another friend, Ismail al-Mahrab, were lounging along the Dalilah Beach in Ashkelon.

Two 16 year old boys arrested by the Israeli army in Deir Istiya village
International Womens’ Peace Service 7/5/2008
3rd July 2008 - Time of Incident: 6. 50pm - Place of Incident: Deir Istya, Salfit District - On the morning of July 5th, IWPS received information that two 16 year old boys, cousins from the village of Deir Istiya in the Salfit district of the West Bank, had been arrested by Israeli soldiers on the evening of July 3rd. According to villagers, a bottle was thrown at a Palestinian bus from the main road of Deir Istiya some time on July 3rd. Following this, the Israeli army started patrolling the village and set up 3 checkpoints. During the soldiers’ rounds, the two boys were walking to a pharmacy on one of Deir Istiya’s secondary roads. The boys’ uncle suspects soldiers saw the two cousins returning from their errand and assumed they were responsible for the bottle incident. t is believed that the soldiers asked a passer by for the names and addresses of the boys, as at around 6.

Hizb Ut-Tahrir claims Palestinian Preventive Security arrested activist near Salfit
Ma’an News Agency 7/5/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – The Hizb Ut-Tahrir (Islamic Liberation Party) said on Saturday that Palestinian security seizedone of the party’s activists in the northern West Bank village of Bidya west of Salfit on Friday evening. According to a statement released by the party, members of the Palestinian Preventive Security service seized the Hizb Ut-Tahrir activist without an arrest warrant. The statement did not name the man arrested, and the preventive security have not confirmed the arrest. [end]

Prisoners condemn ongoing solitary confinement of Sheikh Jamal Abu Al-Hayja
Ma’an News Agency 7/5/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas-affiliated Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails on Saturday condemned the extension of the solitary confinement of Hamas leader Sheikh Jamal Abu Al-Hayja. Abu Al-Hayja, the leader of a group of fighter in Jenin refugee camp, has been in solitary confinement for six years. In a communiqué from Askelon prison, the detainees also condemned the Israeli decision to prevent Abu Al-Hayja from seeing his two sons, who are also in Israeli prisons. His son Abdul-Salam is serving seven and a half life sentences, and his son ’Asim has been in administrative detention for three years. His wife and daughter were previously jailed, then released, by Israel. Abu Al-Hayja was sentenced to nine life sentences and an additional 20 years. After losing an arm in the battle of Jenin refugee camp in 2002, Abu Al-Hayja was seized by Israeli forces during a massive arrest operation in August 2002.

Israeli army killed 78 Palestinian children in six months
Middle East Online 7/5/2008
TULKAREM, West Bank - Israeli troops killed 78 Palestinian children, and captured more than 2,500 Palestinian citizens, including 260 children, throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip since the start of this year, a report issued by the Nafha society said. The society, which caters for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, explained that 1500 of the captured Palestinian citizens were from the West Bank, in addition to hundreds of Palestinian citizens in the Gaza Strip rounded up by the Israeli troops during military incursions into the tiny Strip. The report also added that 13 Palestinian women were among the arrested citizens, including human rights activist Ahlam Johar who was later on forcibly deported to Jordan. According to the report, the West Bank cities of Nablus and Al-Khalil had the biggest number of the arrested citizens of 465 and 450 citizens respectively, while in Bethlehem city 220 cases were reported.

Adalah-NY: Support striking Namibian workers at Lev Leviev Diamonds!
International Solidarity Movement 7/5/2008
Boycott & sanctions - Support Striking Namibian Workers at Lev Leviev Diamonds! Protest Firing Threats, Abusive Managers - By: Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign National Committee (BNC) - Management at Lev Leviev Diamond Polishing Company (LLD) in Windhoek, Namibia is threatening to fire 153 diamond polishers who have been on strike since June 19th protesting abusive managers as well as overdue job appraisals, promotions, wages and outstanding overtime pay. The company, owned by Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, whose companies are already a target of global condemnation for building Israeli settlements in the West Bank in violation of international law, has suspended the 153 strikers and is threatening to begin disciplinary hearings to fire them, claiming the strike is illegal. -- See also: Adalah-NY

Syrian rights group: Islamist prisoners butchered in clash with warders
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 7/6/2008
A London-based Syrian human rights group said on Saturday that Syrian security forces had shot dead dozens of prisoners during a riot at a military jail near Damascus. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said military police fired at Islamist prisoners who rioted at Sidnaya jail earlier in the day. "The number of the dead are in the tens," the group said in a statement. "Prisoners have gone to the roof, fearing for their lives. Military police elements are still firing live bullets. . . "There was no immediate word from Syrian authorities on the report. A human rights activist in contact with the prisoners said at least nine people were killed in the riot on Saturday. Mohammed Abdullah, a Beirut-based Syrian activist, told The Associated Press he was in contact with the prisoners through a cell phone belonging to one of the guards they had taken hostage.

25 people killed in Syrian prison riot
Middle East Online 7/5/2008
NICOSIA, Syria - At least 25 inmates were shot dead by Syrian security forces during a riot in a jail for political prisoners in the mountains outside Damascus on Saturday, according to a human rights group. "Islamist prisoners started a riot inside the prison this morning," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement received in Nicosia, quoting a political prisoner in the Saydnaya jail contacted by mobile phone. "Shooting is continuing against the prisoners," the London-based group said, adding that a number of inmates had climbed the roof of the military prison north of Damascus to escape the violence. The Observatory said initially that the number of dead was 10 but a spokesman later telephoned AFP to say that the toll had risen to 25. The group said it had received phone calls from relatives of prisoners asking Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to intervene to stop the clashes in Saydnaya.

Syria calls on UN to ’stop Israeli aggression against our citizens in Golan’
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 7/5/2008
Report handed to UN fact-finding mission says ’Syrian citizens’ conditions worsening day by day due to Israeli practices which displace them, confiscate their farms and expand settlements’, adding ’citizens still exposed to explosion of mines planted by Israeli occupation forces’ -Syria has called on the United Nations to exert pressure onIsrael to "stop its continued practices and aggressions against Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan who suffer from the Israeli daily flagrant violations", the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported this week. According to the government mouthpiece, the Syrian Foreign Ministry handed a report on the "suffering of the Syrian people in the Golan" to a UN fact-finding committee that is "probing the Israeli practices affecting the human rights in the occupied Arab territories".

Dichter: Kadima’s committment to public is to replace Olmert
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 7/6/2008
Public Security Minister Avi Dichter on Saturday declared that Kadima’s "commitment" to the public was to replace Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with a new leader. Speaking in an interview with Channel 2, Dichter said: "Olmert is trying to extend his tenure as prime minister through maneuvers and the exploitation of party regulations. " The prime minister has agreed to the holding of primaries following a corruption investigation against him in which he is suspected of illicitly accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from an American fundraiser. Dichter added that primaries are meant to determine who will replace theprime minister , and yet it is still unclear whether Olmert himself will contend or not. "I believe that the decision between the Kadima and Labor parties on the date of the primaries and the understanding. . .

Palestine weather forecast: slightly cooler on Sunday
Ma’an News Agency 7/5/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Skies will be clear with a few scattered clouds on Saturday, according to the Palestinian Meteorological Department. Temperatures will be as warm as Friday’s and winds will be southwesterly to northwesterly and moderate. The sea will be calm to moderateOn Sunday, temperatures are expected to drop slightly and winds will be southwesterly and moderate. The sea will range between moderate and calm. Expected temperatures are as follows (°C):Jerusalem: 18 to 30 / Ramallah: 18 to 29 / Qalqilia: 21 to 30 / Salfit: 18 to 30 / Nablus: 19 to 31 / Jenin: 20 to 33 / Tubas: 20 to 33 / Hebron: 17 to 29 / Jericho: 22 to 37 / Gaza City: 23 to 31 / Khan Younis: 23 to 31 / Rafah: 22 to 32

Israeli forces abduct two teenagers from Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 7/5/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces raided the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem on Saturday morning, arresting two Palestinian teenagers. Palestinian security sources said several Israeli military vehicles stormed the Wadi Ma’ali and Wadi Shaheen neighborhoods, detaining 18-year-old Mahmoud Nawawra and 18-year-old ’Alaa Zreiq. Eyewitnesses told Ma’an that invading soldiers damaged furniture while searching the arrestees’ homes. [end]

Israeli forces kidnap two young men from Bethlehem city
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/5/2008
Israeli troops invaded the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem on Saturday at dawn and kidnapped two civilians. [end]

Egypt uncovers three tunnels on border with Gaza strip
DPA, Ha’aretz 7/6/2008
Egyptian police uncovered three tunnels near the Rafah crossing on its border with the Gaza Strip Saturday and seized weapons and explosives in the strategic Sinai peninsula, according to security sources. Police uncovered two tunnels in Barahma north of the Rafah border crossing and a third tunnel south of the crossing, the sources said. Quantities of fuel were found in the tunnels, the sources added without giving further details. Police also found TNT explosives in Hilwa near the town of Arish in northern Sinai, and nine automatic rifles and ammunition in Muqdaba, in the centre of the peninsula. The Sinai desert in north-eastern Egypt is strategically important because it borders Israel and the Gaza Strip and has been the scene of several wars between the two countries.

Sarkozy Says France Hasn’t Forgotten Shalit
Agence France Presse, MIFTAH 7/5/2008
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Wednesday night that "France will never forget Gilad Shalit. " Speaking in a press conference following the release of politician Ingrid Betancourt by Columbian rebels, the French president chose to turn to the kidnapped Israeli soldier’s parents. " I would like to direct my last words to Gilad Shalit and his parents. We have not forgotten. France is always ready to be recruited for a person held unjustly," Sarkozy said. Last week, during an address at the Knesset, the French president referred to the negotiations for the release of the abducted soldier, who is also a French citizen. " As it appears violence has stopped for several days in Gaza, I would like to express my hope that Gilad Shalit, my countryman, will be released soon," Sarkozy said. During his visit to Israel, the French president met with Gilad Shalit’s father Noam.

Health ministry works on strengthening fortitude of Gaza borderline citizens
Palestinian Information Center 7/5/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Basim Na’eem, the PA health minister, stated that his ministry is working on strengthening the steadfastness of the Palestinian citizens living on the outskirts of the Gaza borderline, which are always exposed to Israeli military attacks, based on premier Ismail Haneyya’s recommendations in this regard. In an interview with the PIC, Na’eem explained that the Palestinian citizens in these rural areas are suffering from deteriorating health conditions and from frustration and fear due to the repeated Israeli military assaults on their homes, agricultural lands and sources of income. In mid-January 2008, Premier Haneyya recommended forming an ad hoc committee for strengthening the fortitude of citizens living in confrontation lines comprised of most of the ministries in addition to the PLC and other governmental institutions.

Palestinian dies of wounds from mysterious explosion
Ma’an News Agency 7/5/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A Palestinian man, 23-year-old Tariq ’Udwan, died on Saturday of wounds he sustained several days ago in a mysterious explosion in the Suokat As-Sufi area south of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Muawiya Hassanain, the director of ambulance and emergency servicse in the Palestinian Health Ministry said ’Udwan was taken to Abu Yousif An-Najjar Hospital in Rafah about a week ago, and he died of his wounds on Saturday morning. [end]

A Bereaved Family Transcends Boundaries
Common Ground News Service, MIFTAH 7/5/2008
The family of an 18-year-old Palestinian civilian, who died after being shot by Israeli security guards a few weeks ago, have donated his organs to save the lives of six Israelis. Patient "A" was clinically dead when he was transferred to the intensive care unit in Sheba medical centre in Tel Hashomer, and doctors were unable to resuscitate him. The Hebrew daily newspaper Ma’ariv reported that his family decided to donate his organs to those who needed them, regardless of their race, religion or identity. The National Centre for Organ Transplants promised to keep information concerning his identity confidential for the safety of his family who live in an area under the Palestinian Authority. The families of the recipients were told about the identity of the donor but have also agreed to keep the information confidential, according to the newspaper. On Wednesday evening, Patient "A"’s father had an emotional meeting with the patient who received his son’s heart.

The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Ramallah hosts prestigious Marcel Khalife contest this week
Ma’an News Agency 7/5/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Ramallah is hosting the Marcel Khalife Music Competition this year. 2008 marks the first time in the competition’s history that Arabic song will be included as a category. The song competitions will be held on Sunday 6 July. Other divisions include Arabic instrumental music, piano, winds, strings and guitar. Besides the instrumental and vocal divisions, musicians are divided up in to four groups for age and ability, with participants from ages 6 to 30. Each division has a cash prize of between 100 and 1,000 USD. According to Buthayna Hamdan, media coordinator of the Conservatory, the singing competition could open new horizons for the local music scene, since there are many excellent singers who have not had the chance to be recognized.

Soothing the Savage Breast
Sanford F. Kuvin, MIFTAH 7/5/2008
Can music be an instrument for peace? That’s what the Sounding Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival hopes for, as it offers some of the season’s best free live classical music in the city. The festival brings together 75 top European, Israeli and Arab musicians for over 20 concerts to mixed audiences in a wide variety of venues – churches in the Old City, historic sites in West Jerusalem and Palestinian villages. In spite of the obvious difficulties entailed in having concerts on both sides of the Green Line, the festival, which runs through 5 July, offers a decent intercultural opportunity for Jews, Christians and Arabs to share the borderless atmosphere of music at its best. The individual behind this initiative is the Austrian cellist Erich Oskar Huetter. With funding from the European Union, this extraordinarily talented musician has embarked on a seemingly mission-impossible task of bringing

Life of famous Lebanese poet celebrated in London
Middle East Online 7/5/2008
LONDON – A lecture dedicated to the life and works of the famous Lebanese poet Gibran Khalil Gibran will be held in London on Thursday the 24th of July 2008, organizers of the event said. The lecture, which marks the 125th anniversary of the poet’s birth, will given by Professor Suheil Bushrui (University of Maryland, US), Director of theKahlil Gibran Research and Studies Project. Gibran was born on January 6, 1883 in Bsharri, a mountainous area in Northern Lebanon. His best-known work is The Prophet, a book composed of 28 poetic essays which remains world-renowned to this day. Gibran’s poetry has been translated into more than twenty languages, while his drawings and paintings have been exhibited in many capitals of the world. Although Gibran’s most famous work was written in Arabic, he also has English pieces which he wrote in the United States.

Iran: Our nuclear program remains unchanged
News Agencies and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 7/6/2008
An Iranian government spokesman on Saturday said his country’s nuclear program remains unchanged, indicating that Tehran has no plans to meet the West’s central demand that it stop enriching uranium. Gholam Hossein Elham’s statements came just a day after Iran sent the European Union its response to an international proposal to curb its program in exchange for economic incentives. The content of the response has not been made public. "Iran’s stand regarding its peaceful nuclear program has not changed," Elham told reporters. Israel, the U. S. and some of its allies fear that Iran’s enrichment program could produce nuclear weapons. Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes. Elham added that Iran is ready to talk about its nuclear program within the framework of the international rules and regulations.

Iran army chief warns of shutting Gulf oil lane
Middle East Online 7/5/2008
TEHRAN - Iran’s army chief warned on Saturday that Tehran would shut the Strait of Hormuz which controls Gulf oil exports if its interests were threatened, the Fars news agency reported. "All the countries should know that if Iran’s interests in the region are ignored, it is natural that we will not allow others to use it (the strait)," General Hassan Firouzabadi was quoted as saying. However, Iran’s armed forces joint chief of staff stressed his country’s priority was that the Strait of Hormuz remain open. Speculation has been on the rise that Israel could be planning a military strike against Iranian nuclear sites. Israel is the only country with nuclear weapons in the Middle East and Israel claims that Tehran is seeking nuclear weapons too. The chief of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, meanwhile, warned that his forces would use "blitzkrieg tactics" in the Gulf if his country came under attack.

Iraqi PM says government has defeated terrorism
Associated Press, YNetNews 7/5/2008
Al-Maliki boasts successful crackdowns against Sunni extremists, Shiite militias: ’Under the national unity government, the Iraqis have achieved national feats"¦ that are now lighting the course of our march’ - Iraq’s prime minister said Saturday that the government has defeated terrorism in the country, a sign of growing confidence after recent crackdowns against Sunni extremists and Shiite militias. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki launched the crackdowns to extend the authority of the government over areas in Baghdad and elsewhere that have largely been under the control of armed groups since the US-led invasion in 2003. ’’They were intending to besiege Baghdad and control it,’’ al-Maliki said. ’’But thanks to the will of the tribes, security forces, army and all Iraqis, we defeated them. ’’He was speaking at ceremonies marking the fifth anniversary of the. . .

Colombian denies Israeli involvement in hostage rescue
Associated Press, YNetNews 7/5/2008
Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos says rescue was ’100 percent Colombian; not a single foreigner participated’ -Colombian military intelligence agents flew to the jungle aboard a white helicopter, staging a mock humanitarian mission that rebels were told would ferry their hostages to another camp for talks on a prisoner swap. The would-be envoys had honed their accents in acting lessons: Italian, Arab, Caribbean Spanish, and Australian English - "Identical to Crocodile Dundee," Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos said Friday as he explained how Colombia’s military duped rebels into turning over 15 hostages. He denied reports in international media that Israel was involved in the operation, adding that it was "100 percent Colombian. " "Not a single foreigner participated," he said.

Barak slams Friedmann’s call for probe into wiretapping in Ramon case
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 7/5/2008
Defense Minister and Labor Chairman Ehud Barak on Saturday denounced Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann for suggesting the establishment of an investigation into wiretaps used in a case against Vice Premier Haim Ramon. "The suggestion to establish this type of commission reeks of heavy political interests aiming to serve one minister or another, and in the meantime it is critically harming Israel’s legal system," said Barak in a statement he released. Ramon was found guilty in early 2007 of having committed an indecent act, in forcibly kissing a woman soldier. In early March, Friedmann initially suggested the establishment of a commission to investigate the police’s wiretapping of Ramon used during the case. The vice premier’s attorneys complained during his trial that police had kept the fact of the wiretapping of the minister hidden from them, and that this had harmed Ramon’s case.

Whatever happened to Gush Katif’s Judaica?
Kobi Nahshoni, YNetNews 7/5/2008
Former Gaza settlement residents’ equipment, ritual items believed safely stored after pullout, found severely damaged at warehouse; owners forbidden from claiming property - This coming August will mark three years since the Gaza pullout and after the long endurance of temporary residence and continued unemployment, yet another chapter is added in the list of neglect towards the area’s uprooted residents. In the past few days, the former Gaza inhabitants discovered their belongings, mostly Holy Scriptures and additional materials that were packed at the various community synagogues and stored at a Ministry of Religious Affairs’ warehouse at Moshav Givati near Ashdod, have been severely damaged. Some of the Judaica was completely ruined and some was cast on the floor covered in mold and dust. Resettling FailuresState loses millions over mishandling of. . .

Israel in Jerusalem Dilemma After Bulldozer Attack
Jeffrey Heller, MIFTAH 7/5/2008
A deadly rampage in a bulldozer by a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem left Israel grappling on Thursday with the dilemma of how to maintain security in the city along with the premise it is undivided. Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it along with nearby villages in a move that is not recognized internationally, granting Palestinian residents Israeli identity cards that gave them wide freedom of movement. In issuing the same documents used by Jews, Israel was sending a signal that East Jerusalem -- which Palestinians want as the capital of a future state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- was part of the "indivisible capital" of the Jewish state. But Wednesday’s attack on Jerusalem’s busy Jaffa Road in which three Israelis died and a shooting spree, also in Jewish west Jerusalem, which killed eight Israelis in a religious seminary in March have combined to raise particular concern.

Holland bans Iranian students from nuclear studies
AFP, YNetNews 7/5/2008
Dutch universities restrict access of Iranians to information or training ’that could contribute to nuclear proliferation activities in Iran,’ foreign ministry says -The Netherlands will ban Iranian students from studying nuclear technology, a source of tension between Iran and world powers, at its universities, the government said Friday. "It is forbidden. . . to grant Iranian nationals access to special training or teaching that could contribute to nuclear proliferation activities in Iran and the development of systems for transmitting nuclear arms," the foreign ministry said in a statement. Some powers including the United States suspect Iran of seeking to develop a nuclear bomb. Iran insists its nuclear program is aimed at producing energy to serve a growing population. Friday’s measure adds to a Dutch decree adopting international sanctions against Iran that were put in place last year.

Iran vows to pursue nuclear work despite incentives
Ynet, YNetNews 7/5/2008
Tehran vows to continue uranium enrichment program after handing EU its response to latest incentives proposal. In first public address of matter Iranian government says willing to ’hold talks in the framework of preserving Iran’s nuclear rights’ - Iran vowed on Saturday to pursue its uranium enrichment program, a day after delivering its response to an incentives package by world powers trying to curb its nuclear ambitions. No details were released of Iran’s formal reply on Friday - submitted to EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana - to the offer of talks on benefits if Tehran halts enrichment the West suspects is for nuclear bombs. Iran says its plans are peaceful. In its first public statement after giving the response, government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham said that Iran had no intention of discussing its "right to enriching uranium".


10-year-old subjected to torture by Israeli soldiers
Defence for Children International - Palestine, Palestine Think Tank 7/5/2008
      A 10-year-old boy was subjected to physical abuse amounting to torture for 2.5 hours by Israeli soldiers who stormed his family’s shop on 11 June, seeking information on the location of a handgun. The boy was repeatedly beaten, slapped and punched in the head and stomach, forced to hold a stress position for half and hour, and threatened. He was deeply shocked and lost two molar teeth as a result of the assault.
     On Wednesday 11 June 2008, at around 10:30am, 10-year-old Ezzat, his brother Makkawi (7) and sister Lara (8) were in their father’s shop selling animal feed and eggs in the village of Sanniriya, near the West Bank city of Qalqiliya. The children were suddenly startled to see two Israeli soldiers storm in to the shop.
     Interrogation and abuse in the shop: One soldier wearing a black T-shirt started shouting in a loud, menacing voice in Arabic, “your father sent us to you to collect his gun”. A terrified Ezzat responded, “My father does not own a gun”. The soldier responded by slapping Ezzat hard across the right cheek and his brother Makawi across his face. The soldier then ordered Makkawi and Lara to leave the shop. Once the younger children had left the soldier demanded once again that Ezzat hand over his father’s gun. Although Ezzat repeated that his father did not own a gun the soldier ordered him to search for it in the sacks containing the animal feed. Ezzat kept insisting that there was no gun in the shop so the soldier slapped him once again, this time across his left cheek.

Palestinian Journalist Abused, Stripped

Nora Barrows-Friedman and Dennis Bernstein, Middle East Online 7/5/2008
      The US-supported occupation violence against Palestine continues unchecked. The failure of major Western politicians and the Big Press to cover the story has given Israel an absolute free hand to prosecute its program of ethnic cleansing.
     It is nearly impossible these days to get substantial, unbiased information out on punishing Israeli policies. The few reporters who have chosen to take on the story head-on oftentimes risk their life and their limbs to do their work.
     A week ago Thursday, the Israeli occupation violence hit close to home as award-winning reporter and Flashpoints correspondent Mohammed Omer was detained and tortured trying to return back to his home in Gaza through Jordan.
     Mohammed Omer was returning home from Europe with great pride, having been distinguished with the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. The prize is given every year with great fanfare to frontline reporters who take great risks to report their stories.

A Short Walk in Palestine - or is it Eretz Yisrael?

Rajah Shehadeh, MIFTAH 7/5/2008
      We stopped to eat our picnic breakfast of Nabulsi goat’s cheese and tomatoes - which we had to eat whole because I could not risk being stopped on the road carrying a Swiss army knife My walk in the Ramallah hills with a radio journalist was going well. The weather was balmy, a bulbul was warbling away, grey-green olive trees dotted the terraced slopes. We came upon some natash plants - a highly politicised thistle used in Israeli military courts as evidence that a particular piece of land is uncultivated and is therefore "public land", and so can be confiscated for the "public": Jewish settlers.
     We began our walk at the top of the hill near the village of Masra’e Qibiliya, not far from Birzeit University. As the cool air swept my face, I attempted to explain the dramatic changes that have taken place in the Palestinian landscape over the past 60 years. To our right was the new Jewish outpost of Horesh and further north the sister settlements of Talmon B and C, dominating the hilltops of what I call Palestine and the settlers call Eretz Yisrael. Down in the valley was the centuries-old Palestinian village of Ain Qenya, with its ancient spring (or ain), above which stood the settlement of Dolev. All these settlements lie to the east of Israel’s annexation wall.

The women he left behind

Lily Galili, Ha’aretz 7/5/2008
      On the door of the house in the village of Makhoul - also known as Peki’in West - there could easily have been hung a sign saying "Here live Mathal, Munib and Jamila Makhoul in happiness." Except that Munib is dead and buried in the yard of the house, and his daughter, Jamila, not yet 4, was born two years after his death, having been conceived from his preserved sperm. Nevertheless, they still live there: the dead man who in his lifetime wrote poetry and was involved in politics, and the women he left behind − the older one and the younger one. Occasionally they are visited by Hussein Abu Hussein, an attorney who lives in Umm al-Fahm. Munib’s close friend, Abu Hussein is now fighting on behalf of the widow and the child to gain their full rights from a state that refuses to recognize the complexity of their situation.
     We spent many hours this week in the house. Photos of Munib (an uncle of former MK Issam Makhoul), always dressed in traditional Arab garb and a kaffiyeh, hang here and there; a crucifix is affixed above the door of the guest room. All the clocks have stopped ticking, each one frozen at a different hour.
     This attractive woman, Mathal, took her fate into her own hands with a courage that sparks admiration in a conservative Arab society, and did so without actually violating any of its unwritten laws. Little Jamila has already learned to say cautiously: "I’ll decide."

The US in the Mideast: ignorance abroad

Rami G. Khouri, Daily Star 7/5/2008
      One of the frightening lessons one learns from spending time in Washington is that most of the men and women who make, or influence, American policy in the Middle East actually have little or no first-hand experience of the region. They know very little about its people or its political trends at the grassroots level, as the Iraq experience reconfirms so painfully.
     American policy-making throughout the Middle East remains defined largely by three principal forces: pro-Israeli interests and lobbies in the United States that pander almost totally to Israeli government positions; an almost genetic, if understandable, need to respond to the 9/11 terror attack against the US by politically and militarily striking against Middle Eastern targets; and a growing determination to confront and contain Iran and its assorted Sunni and Shiite Arab allies.
     A significant consequence of Washington’s deep pro-Israeli tilt has been to ignore public sentiments throughout the region, which in turn generates greater criticism of the US. It is not clear if American policymakers ignore Middle Eastern public opinion because of ignorance and diplomatic amateurism, or because of the structural dictates of pro-Israeli compliance.

Shalit is not more important than 10,000 Palestinian prisoners

Khalid Amayreh in Occupied East Jerusalem, Palestinian Information Center 7/5/2008
      One of the most repulsive expressions of Israeli racism is the firmly-held belief that a Jew is superior to and more important than a non-Jew.
     According to this unholy principle, which most Israeli Jews see as an unquestionable truism, a Jewish life is more important than a non-Jewish life, and a Jewish blood is far more important than a non-Jewish blood. 
     Unfortunately, it is upon this manifestly racist concept that the entire Israeli justice system is based.
     This scandalous perception of the Jew-gentile relationship encompasses all aspects of Israeli treatment of the Palestinian people. It also explains the institutionalized racism against the native Palestinians, especially in the occupied territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
     Take for example, the Shalit affair and how Israel managed to kill, maim, detain and torture thousands of innocent Palestinians in order to coerce Hamas to release the man who probably has become the world’s most famous prisoner.

Not Much Benefit for Abbas

Yossi Alpher, MIFTAH 7/5/2008
      The latest display of successful political manipulation by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has given his government a temporary reprieve. He will remain prime minister for at least three months and perhaps beyond.
     And he is likely to continue to pursue the ambitious peacemaking and conflict-mitigation activity that he has displayed on virtually all fronts in recent weeks and months since it serves all his presumed aims: political survival, expanding the circle of peace and even neutralizing potential accomplices to an Iranian reprisal in the event Iran’s nuclear installations are attacked.
     Olmert’s government is weak and riven by dissent and rivalry. Not all his initiatives with Israel’s neighbors make sense at the strategic level. Yet he persists, seemingly convinced that in his dismal political situation and with his public approval ratings scraping the floor, he has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
     In what directions might he now embark? And how would they affect the fortunes of the most veteran and core peace process, that with the Ramallah-based PLO.
     Badly, for the most part. Beginning closest to home, all of the Olmert government’s dealings with the Hamas regime in Gaza have the negative effect of weakening President Mahmoud Abbas and his government. The Gaza ceasefire is seen by Palestinians as an achievement by Hamas and its arms and is contrasted to the apparent lack of real progress in the Abbas-Olmert negotiations over a peace framework...