InI Logo
InI Needs Your Support!
Subscribe to InI’s Mailing List/Newsletter

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.

VTJP Archives | Newslinks Archives  
8 July 2008

Israeli troops put ’Hamas mall’ out of business
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/9/2008
NABLUS, Occupied West Bank: The Israeli Army on Tuesday ordered the closure of a shopping mall in the Occupied West Bank, saying the company that runs it is linked to Hamas, Palestinian security officials and witnesses said. Computers, furniture and documents were seized in the pre-dawn raid on Al-Iitiman Investment Co. , in the city of Nablus’ only mall, with soldiers posting a closure notice, effective August 15. The order warned that anyone running a store in the 12-shop mall after that date "could face five years in jail. " A military spokesman said the army was acting "against charitable organizations acting on behalf of Hamas. "He said the organizations sought to strengthen the Islamist movement "to encourage terrorist attacks against Israel" and "to give financial support to terrorism infrastructure. "Senior officials representing Al-Iitiman were not immediately available for comment on the Israeli accusations.

Israeli Army lifts curfew aimed at punishing West Bank protests
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/9/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: The Israeli Army on Tuesday lifted a five-day blockade it had imposed on a Palestinian village in the Occupied West Bank following protests against its controversial separation barrier. The decision to remove the blockade on the village of Nilin - and a curfew imposed there on Sunday - was made following a late-night meeting between army representatives and village leaders, a military official said. "The sides reached an agreement on the renewal of the construction works on the barrier in the area and a Palestinian commitment to avoid violent protests in exchange for the removal of the blockade and curfew," he said. "As long as the protests remain peaceful, the army will not impose a curfew or a blockade on the village. " In recent weeks, dozens of demonstrators have been wounded during protests near Nilin against a proposed extension of the separation barrier, which villagers say will rob them of 250 hectares of land.

Israel closes Gaza crossings after mortar attack
Reuters Foundation, ReliefWeb 7/8/2008
JERUSALEM, July 8 (Reuters) -Israel closed all but one of its border crossings with the Gaza Strip on Tuesday in response to a mortar attack 24 hours earlier, Israeli officials said. The Jewish state said one mortar shell was fired from Gaza on Monday and landed in southern Israel, causing no casualties or damage. ’All crossings, except for the Erez terminal, will be closed today because of the mortar fired yesterday,’ said defence official Peter Lerner. Israel has responded to previous rocket and mortar salvoes by closing border crossings into the Gaza Strip, where the Islamist Hamas movement seized control a year ago by routing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah forces. Under a truce brokered by Egypt on June 19, militants in Gaza are required to halt rocket and mortar fire in return for Israel gradually lifting a blockade of the coastal territory.

Palestinian Attorney General survives car bomb
Ma’an News Agency 7/8/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an Exclusive – The Palestinian Authority’s Attorney General Ahmad Al-Mghanni survived an assassination attempt on Tuesday. A bomb detonated in the boot of his car in the Al-Maysoun neighbourhood of Ramallah in the central West Bank as Al-Mghanni started the engine of his car. He escaped unhurt. Al- Mghanni told Ma’an that as he was starting his car, he heard an explosion, which damaged the fuel tank. Palestinian police have opened an investigation. Al-Mghanni said he did not know who was behind the attack and he was waiting for the results of the investigation. The head of the Palestinian Supreme Court Judge Issa Abu Sharar condemned the attack. "The attempt to assault Attorney General is a serious attack aimed at paralyzing the judiciary and the prosecution," he said.

Israel’s barrier cuts off villagers from their fields
Patrick Moser, ReliefWeb 7/8/2008
JAYYUS, West Bank, July 8, 2008 (AFP) - The fertile fields of Jayyus stand out in the bone-dry landscape of the occupied West Bank but most farmers can’t reach them, cut off from their own land by the Israeli separation barrier. ’The wall has transformed our life of happiness into desperation,’ says Jayyus mayor Mohammed Taher Jaber, almost four years after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued a non-binding ruling that calls for parts of the barrier built inside the West Bank to be torn down. Perched on a hilltop in the northern West Bank, the town of 3,500 people is surrounded on three sides by a fence that forms part of the massive barrier Israel is building around and mostly in the West Bank. Israeli authorities says the barrier is needed to stop potential attackers from infiltrating Israel and Jewish settlements, but Palestinians denounce. . .

Raytheon Nine Acquittal
David Morrison, Palestine Think Tank 7/8/2008
I’m happy to finally be able to publish this! When the news broke, at the very day the trial ended, all of the activists who were following the case were asked to kindly not give too many details for reasons of a Gag Order. Seeing that this article has been published in an Irish paper, I assume the order has been in some way overridden. The implications of the acquittal of these peace activists is indeed important. I thank David Morrison for his great article which gives details that were previously unavailable for public dissemination. On 11 June 2008, 6 people, who had occupied the offices of Raytheon in Derry and destroyed computers, were acquitted of criminal damage by a Belfast jury. Raytheon is a huge US arms manufacturer, with sales of $20 billion in 2006 and over 70,000 employees worldwide. It makes Patriot, Tomahawk, Cruise and Sidewinder missiles, and much more besides.

Arab MK: Indict police who beat Bedouin to death
Mijal Grinberg, Ha’aretz 7/8/2008
Ra’am-Ta’al MK Talab El-Sana called on Public Security Minister Avi Dichter on Tuesday to press charges against the police officers who beat Sabri al-Jarjawi, a 25-year-old resident of the Bedouin city of Segev Shalom who died of his wounds over the weekend. Addressing a press conference alongside Bedouin leaders and the victim’s relatives, El-Sana said that the Israeli public regards Bedouins as enemies. "Had Sabri’s name been Avi, all this would not have happened," he said. 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. According to a statement given by al-Mahrab, the two men were sitting in a car when they were accosted by the detectives, who later identified themselves as police officers.

Court delays ruling on paralysed girl
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 7/9/2008
Maria Amin, a six-year-old Palestinian girl from Gaza who was paralysed from the neck down in an Israeli missile attack, was left in legal limbo yesterday after Israel’s Supreme Court put off a decision on her long-term future. Maria, who controls her wheelchair with a joystick that she operates with her chin, and her father, Hamdi, are fighting a Defence Ministry decision that she should be transferred from the Israeli Alyn rehabilitation centre in Jerusalem to the less comprehensively equipped Abu Raya centre in Ramallah. Maria’s mother, grandmother and older brother were killed in their car as it drove past the Islamic Jihad militant targeted in the attack in May 2006. Under Israeli law, the state does not have to compensate innocent Palestinian victims of military attacks but the Defence Ministry agreed in Maria’s case -- which received widespread publicity in Israel --. . .

Israeli soldier punches a Palestinian child in the head
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/8/2008
The Israeli military police have arrested an Israeli soldier after he punched a 12-year-old Palestinian boy in the head on Monday at a military checkpoint near the northern West Bank city of Jenin. The soldier claimed that he wasn’t sane at the time of the attack because he was encountering personal problems. The soldier, who serves as a military driver in the Jenin area, was travelling in the area several days ago when he encountered a number of Palestinian civilians. He allegedly got out of the car, grabbed one of the children and repeatedly hit him on the head. During the incident, the soldier intentionally punched the boy in the head, and detained him for a while before letting him go. The soldier’s commanders, who found out about this incident, questioned him and reported the incident to the Investigation unit of the Military Police.

Gaza: Blast at Hamas training camp kills 2
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/8/2008
IDF yet to comment on incident, which is believed to be result of ’work accident’ during weapon manufacturing - Two people were killed and two were injured in an explosion at a Hamas training camp near the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis, Palestinian sources reported Tuesday morning. The circumstances of the blast were unclear, but a source in the Strip said it caused a building in the training facility to collapse. The Israel Defense Forces has yet to comment on the incident, which is believed to be the result of a "work accident" during the production of weapons. The Israeli army has not struck in Gaza since the ceasefire agreement with Palestinian militant groups went into effect, despite the recent violations of the truce. About a month ago, a mysterious explosion in a building in the southern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya left seven people dead, including a baby and a child, and dozens injured.

Ultra-Orthdox prohibition on entering Temple Mount splinters
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 7/9/2008
The ultra-Orthodox rabbinical consensus on banning the entry of Jews to the Temple Mount is showing cracks. This comes in the wake of a decision by religious Zionist rabbis to lift the ban and the increase of religious Zionist visitors to the site. Rabbi Moshe Tendler, son-in-law of the ultra-Orthodox Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, visited the Temple Mount last Thursday with Temple Institute officials for the first time. Feinstein was one of the greatest Haredi adjudicators in the United States in the previous generation. Tendler, a bioethics expert and Talmud instructor at Yeshiva University, New York, is known mainly for his rulings on transplants and genetics. Recently several ultra-Orthodox rabbis visited the Temple Mount but unlike Tendler, none would have his name released, due to sensitivity to this issue.

Israel Right Demands Wall to Keep Palestinians out of Jerusalem
Sheera Frenkel, MIFTAH 7/8/2008
Israel’s vision of Jerusalem as its “indivisible capital” came under attack yesterday as leaders reacted to Wednesday’s carnage by calling for a wall across the city’s ethnic divide. The Government says that the barrier between itself and Palestinian communities in the West Bank has thwarted many terrorist attacks. However, two recent acts of terrorism perpetuated by Arabs living in east Jerusalem has left some asking whether Israel should abandon the dream of a united Jerusalem and isolate itself further from Arab communities. Haim Ramon, the Israeli Vice Prime Minister, led a growing chorus of voices calling for a barrier to separate many of east Jerusalem’s neighbourhoods from the rest of the city. “It would be much more difficult to carry out attacks like these and 50,000 Palestinians who live in those two neighborhoods would not be able to reach Jerusalem so easily if they didn’t have blue [Israeli] identity cards,” he said.

Deadly Attacks Further Divide East and West Jerusalem
Ashraf Khalil, MIFTAH 7/8/2008
The residents of East and West Jerusalem have lived side by side, if not together, for 40 years, ever since Israel seized the Arab side of the city from Jordan during the 1967 Middle East War. The union has rarely been a happy one. But recent incidents have residents on both sides viewing each other with renewed suspicion and anxiety. " There is no relationship" between mostly Arab East Jerusalem and the predominantly Jewish western neighborhoods, said Khalil Tafakji, a Palestinian geographer and map specialist. East Jerusalem’s Arab residents "go to the west to work and then return home and that’s it," he said. Last week, a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem driving an earthmover killed three people and wounded dozens in a rampage downtown. In March, an Arab from East Jerusalem killed eight young students in a yeshiva. The two incidents have revived public demands for action, and Israeli politicians appear ready to answer that call.

Priestly garments on sale in Jerusalem
Associated Press, YNetNews 7/8/2008
Temple Institute group makes practical preparation for third temple by recreating, displaying priestly garments in its Jewish Quarter museum, posing threat to Islamic holy sites despite their proclaimed educational purpose -In a stuffy basement off an Old City alleyway in Jerusalem, tailors using ancient texts as a blueprint have begun making a curious line of clothing that they hope will be worn by priests in a reconstructed Jewish Temple - the spiritual center of Judaism destroyed by Roman legions two millennia ago. The project, run by a Jerusalem group called the Temple Institute, is part of an ideology that advocates making practical preparations for the rebuilding of the ancient Temple on a disputed rectangle in Jerusalem sacred to both Jews and Muslims. Jews call the site the

Israel Targets Hamas’ West Bank Activities
United Press International, MIFTAH 7/8/2008
Israeli military forces say they are shutting down Hamas-affiliated institutions in the West Bank, including schools, health centers and charities. Israeli officials say Hamas, the more militant of the two main Palestinian Arab factions, is spreading its control from Gaza to the West Bank, where popular support for it over the more moderate Fatah faction is enabling Hamas to take over not just Islamic institutions but civilian infrastructure as well, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Monday. Citing unnamed sources, the newspaper said the Israeli military is fighting "a rearguard battle" by targeting Hamas-controlled institutions in an attempt to cut off funding sources for terrorist activities. A military source said the move is also meant as a bid to stem Hamas’ rising popularity and keep it from wresting control from the Palestinian Authority.

Israel orders Hamas-linked shopping mall closed
AFP, YNetNews 7/8/2008
Computers, furniture, documents seized in pre-dawn raid on Al-I’itiman Investment Co in West Bank city’s only mall. Army says acting ’against charitable organizations acting on behalf of Hamas’ -The Israeli army on Tuesday ordered the closure of a shopping mall in the West Bank, saying the company that runs it is linked to Hamas, Palestinian security officials and witnesses said. Islamist GroupHamas operative slams Israeli ban on charity funds/ Ali Waked No official response yet from Islamist movement on Israel’s decision to outlaw charity organizations working to support its operations, however a top field operative for Hamas says funds targeted by Israel are charities that only work to aid needy ×כתבה המ×אה Computers, furniture and documents were seized in the pre-dawn raid on Al-I’itiman Investment Co in the city of Nablus’s only mall, with soldiers posting a closure notice.

IOF troops storm charitable societies in Nablus
Palestinian Information Center 7/8/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- The IOF troops stormed at an early hour Tuesday a number of charitable societies including the Nafha society for the defence of human and prisoners’ rights and confiscated their contents and funds in the Nablus city. Palestinian local sources reported that the IOF troops handed closure notices to the raided societies at the pretext that they are affiliated with Hamas and support it financially. The invading troops broke into and ransacked the Islamic school for girls in the Rafidia area and confiscated all its contents as well as a number of buildings and a shopping mall in the same area. They also stormed a mosque in the Askar refugee camp and confiscated Qur’an books, according to the sources. In another context, the IOF troops broke into and ransacked on the same day the headquarters of Al-Bireh municipality, central West Bank, in addition to the offices of the Islamic labor union in Ramallah.

Ahrar Center slams closure of Nafha Society for Defending Human rights
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/8/2008
The Ahrar Center for Detainees Studies issued a press release on Tuesday slamming the Israeli attacks against several institutions an societies in Nablus, and the Israeli orders of shutting down several societies including the Nafha Society for Defensing Detainees and Human Rights. The society, along with several other institutions in the northern West Bank city of Nablus were shut down by Israeli forces who invaded the city. The society defends Palestinian and Arab detainees imprisoned by Israel and is considered one of the leading human rights groups in Palestine. The Ahrar Center demanded Human Rights Groups and the International Community to intervene and stop the ongoing Israeli violations against the Palestinian people and their institutions. Following the Israeli attack against the city and its institutions, several national and Islamic factions in Nablus called for a general strike in the city.

Hamas deplores Israel and PA for targeting private and public services in WB
Palestinian Information Center 7/8/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement strongly denounced Tuesday the fierce campaigns waged jointly by the IOF troops and the PA security apparatuses against the Palestinian citizens which targeted their means of livelihood and private and public services in the West Bank, describing the situation there as extremely serious. Hamas considered the raids on medical centers, charities, clubs, shopping malls, stores and other service institutions in the Nablus city a serious and clear indication that the Israeli occupation is persistent in harming the Palestinian people under many flimsy and silly pretexts. Hamas questioned the position of the PA negotiators towards the IOF troops’ assaults that happened today on civil and public places and their closure of many buildings including a shopping mall in the West Bank, saying that the PA silence towards such acts proves to the Palestinian citizen. . .

PCHR condemns IOF measures against Nablus charities
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights - PCHR, ReliefWeb 7/8/2008
PCHR strongly condemns Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) for closing several charities and humanitarian organizations in Nablus over the past two days. The Centre calls upon the international community to intervene to put an end to these measures. The Center’s preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 1:35 on Monday, 7 July, IOF raided the Benevolent Solidarity Association, the Islamic School for Girls, Benevolent Solidarity Club, Solidarity Mosque, and Solidarity Medical Center in Rafedia Quarter west of Nablus. IOF confiscated medical equipment and computers from the medical center. In addition, IOF issued an order closing the association for 3 years. The order was signed by the Israeli army commander in the West Bank. At approximately 1:00 on Tuesday, 8 July, IOF raided several organizations affiliated with Hamas.

Al Masri slams Israel’s violations of shutting down charitable societies in Nablus
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/8/2008
After the Israeli army shut down charitable institutions in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, Hani Al Masri, spokesperson of the Palestinian Ministry of Information, stated that these Israeli acts are illegal and not logical. Al Masri said that Palestinian resistance groups do not mix their military activities with social institutions because they know the dangers of such an act. Israel claims that these institutions are linked with the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas. The Palestinian official said that Hamas will gain more popularity and public support whenever Israel attacks and shuts down charitable institutions which it runs in the Palestinian territories. He added that the closure of these societies will not weaken the movement, but will only minimize its ability to provide humanitarian aid to families in need.

Prisoners study centre condemns Israeli closure of Nafha society
Ma’an News Agency 7/8/2008
Nablus - Ma’an - The Ahrar center for prisoners studies and human rights condemned Israeli army closure Nafha prisoners society in Nablus, on Tuesday morning. Ahrar center said in a statement, “The Nafha society is one of the strongest and best societies working in the Palestinian arena on Palestinian detainees’ affairs. This society has been able to prove itself in the affairs of Palestinian prisoners as well as amongst families of prisoners and detainees. ”Ahrar called on all human rights organizations, civil society institutions and prisoners societies to show solidarity with Nafha and to condemn Israeli atrocities against societies and institutions. The Nafha Society was among six Hamas-affilated associations in Nablus closed by the Israeli army on Tuesday, in a campaign against Islamic charities in the West Bank.

Israeli army shuts down six Hamas-affiliated associations in Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 7/8/2008
Nablus – Ma’an - Israeli army closed six Hamas-affilated associations in Nablus on Tuesday, confiscating documents and equipment as part of an Israeli crackdown on Islamic charities in the West Bank. Palestinian security sources told Ma’an’s correspondent that more than 120 Israeli military vehicles stormed Nablus on Monday night and raided a number of Palestinian associations in the city. Israel claims the six associations have been financing the activities of "terrorist" organizations over the past two years. They are the Nafha Association for Prisoners’ Affairs, the Islamic Union Association, The Scientific Medical Association, the Yazur Association in the Balata refugee camp and the Al-Basmah Association at the the ’Askar refugee camp, as well as storming the Al-Huda mosque in the ’Askar refugee camp. Eyewitnesses confirmed that the Israeli army also stormed the Nablus. . .

Israel launches all-out war on Islamic institutions in the West Bank
Palestinian Information Center 7/8/2008
Learning aids trashed at this Nablus school by IOF soldiersFrom Khalid Amayreh in Nablus Palestinian Islamic leaders have called on Arab and Muslim states as well as "all human beings who believe in justice" to strongly  condemn an ongoing  Israeli campaign against Islamic civilian  institutions throughout the occupied West Bank. The Israeli army on Tuesday, 8 July,  rampaged through the northern town of Nablus, raiding schools, businesses, charities, sport clubs  and a major medical center. Eyewitnesses said as many as 130 Israeli military vehicles and armored personnel carriers  stormed Nablus’s downtown shortly  after forces loyal to  Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas  were ordered by the town’s nominal governor Jamal Muhesen  to return to their barracks and stay there until a further notice.

Hamas officials arrive in Egypt to discuss next steps in shaky Gaza cease-fire
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/9/2008
CAIRO: A Hamas delegation arrived in Egypt on Tuesday for talks in Cairo on a fragile three-week-old Gaza truce as Israel said it would reopen its borders with the territory at the Egyptian mediator’s request. The delegation was to discuss details of the truce and what Hamas says are Israeli violations, as well as proposals to reopen a border crossing with Egypt - Gaza’s only frontier post that bypasses Israel. The truce was meant to lead to a gradual easing of a year-old blockade of Gaza imposed after Hamas seized power there in June 2007, but Israel on Tuesday temporarily sealed off the territory again for the fourth time since the cease-fire went into effect on June 19. Israel said it was closing the border crossings in retaliation for a mortar round fired from Gaza on Monday in breach of the truce. But "following a special request by the Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman,. . .

Barhoum: Hamas delegates leave for Cairo today to discuss Israel’s violations
Palestinian Information Center 7/8/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, stated that the Movement’s delegation will leave Tuesday for Cairo coming from inside and outside Palestine to discuss important files including the truce, Israel’s violations, the national dialog and the Rafah border crossing. Barhoum said that a meeting between Hamas, the PA and the EU delegations was supposed to be held one week after the calm stabilized, but for some reason it did not happen, pointing out that the Movement is ready to accept any mechanism to operate the Rafah crossing as long as Israel is not involved. The spokesman underlined that the Israeli occupation is not only making violations but also obstructing the truce, adding that Hamas and the other Palestinian factions are still committed to the calm agreement despite Israel’s breaches. The spokesman pointed out that the crossings were not opened according to the. . .

Nativity Church deportees to be included in prisoner exchange deal
Ma’an News Agency 7/8/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – Islamil Haniyeh, the de facto prime minister of the Hamas-led government in Gaza, has promised the Palestinians deported after the 2002 siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem that they will return to their homes in the West Bank as a part of a potential prisoner swap involving captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The deportees said, in a statement received by Ma’an, that the men “asked to meet with Isma’il Haniyyeh days ago after agreeing with all other deportees of all factions to discuss their case in the Gaza Strip. He promised us to resolve our issue within the swap deal and he confirmed on our unity away from partisan affiliations in addition to giving them a financial grant. ”The deportees met with Haniyeh last week, seeking a return to their homes. The group appealed to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and to the Palestinian Legislative Council to work to end their exile.

Gaza Militants Fire Mortar Shells at Karni Border Crossing
Fadi Eyadat, MIFTAH 7/8/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday called for Gaza Strip border crossings to close starting on Tuesday, hours after Palestinian militants fired two mortar shells into Israel, which struck an open space between the Karni crossing and Nahal Oz causing neither casualties nor property damage. Since the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas went into effect in the Gaza Strip June 19, militants have fired several Qassam rockets into Israel, including one last week that fell in the western Negev region. Israel closed its border crossings with Gaza in the wake of the rocket fire, but reopened them on Sunday to allow goods into the Strip and Gazans in need of medical assistance out of the coastal territory. A farmer operating a tractor near the western Negev Kibbutz Nahal Oz on Sunday said a Palestinian sniper in the bordering Gaza Strip opened fire on him. Several hours later, however, the military admitted there was no sniper attack, saying damage to the tractor might have been caused by a stone.

Hamas Tries to Play Keeper of the Peace
Dion Nissenbaum, MIFTAH 7/8/2008
Like a Gettysburg battlefield tour guide, Ali Kafarna pointed out the scars of war as he walked through the fields between his home and the Israeli border. " Here’s where the tanks used to stop," said Ali, 14, as he passed a dirt berm dug into dry grass littered with shrapnel and animal bones. "Here’s where they used to fire rockets," Ali said of the charred square of earth that Palestinians used as a launching pad to attack Israel. Until last month, this area was a no-go zone for Ali and his family. Two weeks into a shaky cease-fire, Palestinian families are using the relative calm to visit bullet-scarred homes a few hundred yards from the Israeli border and to replant orchards uprooted by the Israeli military. But the Egyptian-brokered peace is slowly unraveling as Hamas leaders in Gaza struggle to keep militants — especially their Fatah rivals — from firing the occasional rocket at Israel.

Gaza Ceasefire Breaking Down as Violations by Hamas and Israel Continue
Sheera Frenkel, MIFTAH 7/8/2008
The ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip was on its last legs yesterday, according to Egyptian officials who spent months mediating the complex accord. Hamas said that it was suspending negotiations with Israel over a prisoner swap deal, citing Israeli violations of a declared truce in Gaza. “There is no way for those talks to begin before the obligations of calm are implemented ,” Sami Abu Zuhri, the Hamas spokesman, said. Despite Egyptian requests that Hamas envoys return to Cairo to continue indirect talks with Israel, he added, the faction had no plans to send a delegation. An Egyptian official involved with the negotiations said that there was little hope for the ceasefire. “The truce has been active for 15 days, and for nearly half that time there have been violations by both sides. It is questionable whether this is a truce in practice or just in words.

IDF rebukes Egyptian soldiers over fatal cross-border manhunt
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 7/9/2008
Senior Israel Defense Forces officers on Tuesday criticized Egyptian troops’ handling of an incident Monday, when an Egyptian officer was killed after he and his comrades crossed into Israeli territory in pursuit of Bedouin smugglers. A joint IDF and Egyptian inquiry into the shooting death in the Har Harif area near the Israel-Egypt border indicates that the incident began when Egyptian forces opened fire in error, with Israeli troops then firing on them in return. Egyptian soldiers who noticed the Bedouin drug smugglers set out in pursuit. An exchange of gunfire ensued, and one of the smugglers shot an Egyptian officer in the stomach. The officer later died of his wounds. IDF soldiers who noticed the fighting mistakenly believed the gunfire was aimed at them, and subsequently returned fire.

IDF investigating death of Egyptian officer on border
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 7/8/2008
Israeli, Egyptian militaries cooperating on investigation into death of Egyptian officer during pursuit of Bedouin smugglers, unclear if IDF troops involved - The IDF is investigating the possibility of Israeli involvement in the death of an Egyptian military officer pursuing Bedouin smugglers on the border between the two countries on Monday. A joint Israeli-Egyptian inquiry has been launched following the incident. The IDF has already conducted an initial collaborative probe, in line with policy dictating efforts be made to avoid passing the statute of limitations in such cases, which mostly stem from misunderstandings. However, it still remains unclear if the Egyptian officer was killed by IDF fire. During the incident, which occurred in the early morning hours on Monday, Egyptian forces gave chase after a group of Bedouin smugglers near Mt. Harif. At some point in their pursuit the Egyptian soldiers inadvertently crossed the unmarked border and entered Israeli territory.

Dinur: No budget for fortification of homes far from border
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 7/8/2008
Director general of Prime Minister’s Office informs Gaza vicinity council heads that fortification of residents’ homes further than 4. 5 km from border not to be fortified due to lack of funds; community leaders enraged - Municipality heads in the Gaza vicinity received a letter from Raanan Dinur, director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday, in which they were told that the fortification of residents’ homes located over 4. 5 km from the border with the Strip has been delayed due to a lack of funds. A few weeks ago the municipality heads launched a letter to Dinur in which they asked that he spur the fulfillment of the government’s February, 2008 decision according to which homes farther from the border will also be fortified. Dinur replied that the first step of fortifying residents’ homes will commence soon, but that homes relatively far from the border. . .

Mortar shell lands in western Negev
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 7/8/2008
Seemingly routine in course of ceasefire, yet another mortar shell lands in Israel. No injuries or damage reported. Earlier today Defense Minister Barak ordered Gaza’s goods crossings reopened despite recent attacks - The violation of the Gaza ceasefire by Palestinian groups seems to have become routine: On Tuesday afternoon yet another mortar shell landed in the western Negev. No injuries were reported and no damage was caused in the Eshkol Regional Council, where it crashed. At around 15:00 a loud explosion was heard near one of the communities in the western Negev, security personnel who set out to determine its cause located a Palestinian mortar shell nearby. The ’Color Red’ rocket alert siren system did not go off. Earlier on Tuesday Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the defense establishment to reopen the goods crossings into the Gaza Strip. . .

Mortar shell lands in Israel, violating truce
Ma’an News Agency 7/8/2008
Jerusalem - Ma’an – A mortar shell launched from the Gaza Strip landed in Israel on Tuesday afternoon in what Israel views as a breach of the Israeli-Palestinian truce. Israeli Army Radio reported that the shell landed near Israeli Kibbutzim (communal farms) in the Eshkol regional council, causing neither damage nor injuries. Army radio also reported that explosions have been heard in the area since the early morning hours. No mortars or projectiles landed in the area until the afternoon. Israel reopened the Gaza Strip’s border crossings at the urging of Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Sulaiman, who brokered the current ceasefire. Israel had closed the crossing points in response to a prior mortar shell. The ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian armed groups went into effect on 19 June.

Barak agrees to Egyptian request to open Gaza crossings
Ma’an News Agency 7/8/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Israel agreed to open the Gaza Strip border crossings on Tuesday after a request by the Egyptian intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman. On Monday evening Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak announced the closure open the crossings to transport goods in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, after two mortar shells were launched at the Karni crossing. The two mortars landed in an open area between the Karni crossing, which is the main crossing point for goods, and the Nahal Oz crossing, through which fuel is transported into the Strip. Israel has closed the crossing five times since the truce agreement came into effect on June 19 because of the continued launching of projectiles at the southern Negev.

Stranded students appeal to the Egyptian government to let them in
Palestinian Information Center 7/8/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Palestinian students stranded in the Gaza Strip have appealed to the Egyptian government to enable them to cross the Rafah border terminal into Egypt en route to other countries to join their universities. Around 600 students have recently formed the stranded students committee, which issued a statement saying that they were registered with Arab and foreign universities and some of them were pursuing higher studies. The committee asked Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to personally intervene and end their tragedy. It asked the Palestinian officials to exert utmost efforts to solve the problem and to consider it a priority away from political bickering. The committee asked Amre Mousa, the Arab League secretary general, to assume his role and to facilitate their passage to their academies.

Truce, prisoners, and Rafah on the agenda for Hamas-Egypt talks
Ma’an News Agency 7/8/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A delegation of Hamas leaders will leave the Gaza Strip for the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Tuesday afternoon for talks with Egyptian leaders regarding the truce with Israel and a proposed prisoner exchange. "The delegation will discuss the truce file and will insist on the total lift of the blockade and opening the crossings," said senior Hamas leader Mahmoud. The delegation includes Az-Zahhar, Jamal Abu Hashem, and Said Siyam, the interior minister in the de facto government of the Gaza Strip. The Hamas officials will hear Israel’s response in the Egypian-mediated negotiations with Israel regarding a prisoner exchange. Israel wants Palestinian fighters in Gaza to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been captive since 2006, and Hamas wants Israel to release a list of Palestinian prisoners.

Gazan government seeks information on fate of four brothers seized by Israel
Ma’an News Agency 7/8/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The fate of four Palestinian brothers who were abducted by Israeli forces two months ago remains unknown, the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners affairs in the de facto government in the Gaza Strip said on Tuesday. According to Riyad Al-Ashqar, director of media department in the Ministry, the four brothers were abducted during an Israeli invasion in the Shuja’iyya neighborhood of Gaza City. Their house was besieged under heavy fire and tank shells. The invading forces ordered all residents of the house into the street their hands raised. The Israeli troops seized 30-year-old Husam Hillis, and his brothers 26-year-old Muhammad, 23-year-old Ahmad and 22-year-old Mahmoud. Al-Ashqar appealed to international organizations, including the Red Cross, to intervene and uncover what happened to Hillis brothers.

PLC official: Arab companies buying lands in Jerusalem, selling it to Israeli companies
Ma’an News Agency 7/8/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Head of the Jerusalem Committee in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Ahmad Abu Halabiyya, on Tuesday threatened to reveal the names of Arab brokers and companies who sell Palestinian-owned land in Jerusalem to Israelis. In a press conference held in Gaza City he said that a number of Arab companies are buying land from Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and then selling it to Israeli companies with which they have business ties. According to Abu Halabiyya, a report released by the Jerusalem Committee of the PLC, has revealed that last June witnessed several Israeli violations and oppressive Israeli procedures in Jerusalem. Amongst those violations were prohibiting the celebration of the annual anniversary of the death of Faysal Al-Huseini, former chief of Jeruslam affairs in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the digging up of Muslim corpses. . .

Israel hindering Palestinian aid effort - officials
Francois Murphy, ReliefWeb 7/8/2008
PARIS, July 8 (Reuters) - Israel’s checkpoints in the West Bank and blockade of Gaza are preventing an economic recovery there and limiting the impact of international aid, France, the European Commission and Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair said. An international donors’ conference in December pledged more than $7 billion in aid to the government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to try to reinforce its authority as it tries to negotiate a peace deal with Israel in U. S. -backed talks. After a regular follow-up meeting on Monday to monitor the aid effort, Blair, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and European Union External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said the international effort’s impact would be limited if Israel’s roadblocks remained in place. "Restrictions by the government of Israel on Palestinian movement and access continue. . .

Egypt will host Palestinian unity talks, official says
Ma’an News Agency 7/8/2008
[Ma’anImages]Jerusalem - Ma’an – Talks among rival Palestinian factions will take place in Egypt in the coming days or weeks, the Palestinian ambassador to Egypt said on Tuesday, but it is not clear weather the dialogue will include Hamas. Ambassador to Cairo Nabil Amr told the official Palestinian news agency WAFA that Egypt is behind Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ initiative for dialogue among Palestinians, and will host eventual talks among opposing factions. Amr said Abbas is determined to restore national unity under the banner of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and its precursor, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Yasser Arafat’s longstanding umbrella organization which excludes Hamas. Also on Tuesday Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with the leaders of two more Palestinian political factions in Damascus as a part of his self-declared efforts to begin to restore Palestinian unity.

Fayyad: ''No new Initiative for ending internal disputes''
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/8/2008
Palestinian Prime Minister of the care taker government Dr. Salam Fayyad denied a Mondayreport by Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, in which the paper claimed that he is planning to launch a new initiative to end the internal Palestinian disputes. During the weekly cabinet session in the central West Bank city of Ramallah, Fayyad, said that the only initiative which is currently on the table is the initiative of President Abbas. Also, Fayyad held Israel accountable for the deteriorated humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip due to the continuation of the Israeli siege on the coastal region. Fayyad also demanded an end to the siege so that medical and food supplies can reach the residents without any delay or restrictions. The Prime Minister added that the P. A is unable to pay salaries to its public employees in Gaza as Israel is barring any transfer of funds to the Gaza Strip.

Fayyad: Palestinian coalition government and Arab support can end rivalry
Ma’an News Agency 7/8/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – A Palestinian coalition government backed up by Arab support can end the intra-Palestinian political rivalry, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said on Tuesday. A national coalition government that is preparing for presidential and legislative elections and the support of Arab countries to strengthen the Palestinian security services and to temporarily keep security in the Gaza Strip would heal the rift in the Palestinian political arena that began with the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, he said. He explained that Palestinian factions could maintain their multiple political positions, but there must be one security command. But the security services must be under the auspices of one authority. Fayyad confirmed that both these factors have been discussed with Arab and foreign officials as part of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ initiative for dialogue with Hamas.

Ahrar appeals for releasing paraplegic prisoner
Palestinian Information Center 7/8/2008
SALFIT, (PIC)-- The Ahrar center for prisoner studies appealed to all human rights organizations to necessarily pressure the IOA to release a Palestinian prisoner called Rabia Harb, 27, who is suffering from paraplegia as a result of being shot in his spine by IOF troops. The center said that the IOF troops in the Ramla prison hospital deliberately neglect Harb, where the only medical treatment they provide him is one tablet of Aspirin and a glass of water which led to the deterioration of his health. The center pointed out that there are more than 30 Palestinian prisoners in the Ramla prison hospital in extremely difficult health conditions.   The Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli Nafha prison appealed through a leaked letter to human rights organizations and the Red Cross to save prisoner Yusri Al-Masri from getting blind.

Families of Palestinian prisoners duped by con artists
Ma’an News Agency 7/8/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an – A spate of fraud and attempted fraud cases against the families of Palestinian prisoners has broken out in the Tulkarem district of the northern West Bank. In several cases, families reported anonymous callers claiming to have information about their imprisoned loved ones. In one case, the caller told a family that their son was on the list for a prisoner exchange with Israel. "Keep your cell phone on," the caller said. The families of the 11,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails are hoping that that their relatives will be released as a part of an upcoming prisoner deal between Israel and the Lebanese resistance group Hizbullah. Another prisoner swap involving the Hamas movement in Gaza is still pending. In another case, a man visited the family of a prisoner from the Tulkarem district claiming that he was a former prisoner.

Convicted terrorist released from jail due to declining health
Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 7/8/2008
Israeli authorities on Tuesday released a security prisoner who was sentenced 23 years ago for his role in committing and planning numerous attacks against Israeli targets in the Golan Heights. Haaretz has learned that the prisoner, Sitao Eluli, was released due to his deteriorating health. In recent years, he has suffered from a serious illness. Upon his release from the Gilboa prison, he was transferred to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. Eluli is expected to return to his home village of Majdel Shams in the Golan Heights on Wednesday. Villagers are said to be planning a rousing welcome for Eluli, who will also pay a visit to the nearby villages of Mas’ada and Bukata. Eluli’s attorney, Majd Abu Salah, told Haaretz that his client’s release was strictly due to health reasons, and is in no way connected to the recent prisoner swap with Hezbollah.

’We have no alternative than peaceful protest’
Rory McCarthy, The Guardian, International Solidarity Movement 7/7/2008
Ramallah Region - Israeli troops have surrounded a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank after several weeks of demonstrations against the latest stretch of the West Bank barrier. For at least the past two days the military has placed a cordon around the village of Nilin, imposing what it calls a "closure" and preventing people from entering or leaving. Nilin is the latest village to join a small but growing protest movement that organisers say is supposed to remain non-violent, but which often involves stone throwing. The military said the closure was a direct response to the protests. "There have been riots in the past few weeks and there is a closure now," said a military spokeswoman. She said three Israeli soldiers and five border policeman had been injured in recent protests and that a closure had been imposed since Sunday morning.

IOA closes Gaza crossings for sixth time since calm started
Palestinian Information Center 7/8/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority on Tuesday closed down all Gaza commercial crossings at the pretext that two mortar shells fell from Gaza on the Karni crossing on Monday. Hebrew sources said that war minister Ehud Barak ordered the closure on Tuesday after the mortar shells fired by unknown armed men from Gaza, blasted near the crossing without inflicting any casualties or damage. This is the sixth time that the IOA closes down the crossing ever since the calm agreement went into effect on 19/6/2008 at the same pretext of falling missiles or projectiles. The IOF troops, however, violated the calm on 30 occasions as recorded by local observers other than the closure of crossings. Hebrew media claimed that Barak ordered the opening of the crossings in the afternoon hours after appeals from Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.

At least 10 hurt at curfewed Palestinan town
Rebecca Harrison, ReliefWeb 7/7/2008
OUTSIDE NILIN, West Bank, July 7 (Reuters) - Israeli soldiers on Monday wounded at least 10 Palestinians in a West Bank town as they attempted to stifle protests against a separation barrier, residents said. Soldiers fired live ammunition and used teargas and stun grenades to try to quell violent protests at the Palestinian town of Nilin where Israel is building a barrier declared illegal by the World Court four years ago this week. The town has been kept under curfew for the fourth day to try to subdue a small group of protesters and journalists from approaching the cordoned-off town of 5,000. Ayman Nafi, the blockaded town’s mayor, said one man was in critical condition and other townspeople said others were hit by rubber bullets during stone-throwing clashes with soldiers. Nafi later added that the clashes had ended and that residents were. . .

Israeli army continues to attack civilians in Ni’lin, kidnaps three on Monday
International Middle East Media Center, Palestine Monitor 7/8/2008
Israeli army continued its attacks targeting the villagers of Ni’lin near Ramallah city in the central part of the West Bank on Monday for the fourth day in a row. Israeli bulldozers intentionally destroyed the car of Tahha Al khawaja and shot tear gas into his home. The bulldozers also intentionally destroyed a car that belongs to resident Taha AL Khawaja, while soldiers fired teargas at his home and broke some of its windows. Salah Al khawaja, of the local Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, said that the Israeli army invaded a local school for gils and used it as a military base. He added that that troops also attacked local businesses and set fire to a local car. Al Khawaja also reported that soldiers firedteargas at villagers’ homes; several residents, includinga four-day old baby soffocated agfter inhaling gas.

Israeli forces withdraw from Ni’lin after four-day blockade
Ma’an News Agency 7/8/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Israeli forces withdrew from the central West Bank town of Ni’lin on Tuesday after blockading the town for four consecutive days. Residents had been trapped in their homes for four days, unable to go to work. Soldiers used stun grenades and fired rubber bullets near civilian houses, resulting in scores of people being injured. On Monday evening, more than ten people were injured as confrontations erupted between local residents and invading Israeli troops. Local sources said that three people sustained moderate to serious injuries when they were hit by rubber-coated metal bullets. The sources named them as, Jamil Srur, Mutee’ Amira and a child named Abdul-Kareem Srur. According to the mayor of Ni’lin, Ayman Nafi’, Israeli forces prevented ambulances from evacuating the injured to hospitals in Ramallah for over an hour.

Na’alin residents: IDF curfew made us stronger
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/8/2008
Residents of West Bank village say will continue to protest construction of Israeli security fence -Residents of the West Bank village of Na’alin near Ramallah vowed Tuesday to continue their protest against Israel’s construction of the security fence. Monday evening the Israeli army lifted a curfew it had imposed on the village over the weekend due to violent rallies that were recentlyheld there in protest of the fence. Earlier in the day some 200 Palestinians, left-wing activists and foreign citizens held rallied against the curfew. Security forces dispersed the demonstrators with the use of rubber bullets and tear gas. Three protestors were detained during the clashes. Following the demonstration officers from the IDF Coordination and Liaison Office held a meeting with representatives of the Popular Committee Against the Wall, after which it was decided that the army would lift the curfew.

Israeli soldiers attack a group of Palestinians, internationals and Israelis attempting to bring food to the village of Ni’lin
International Womens’ Peace Service 7/8/2008
On Monday July 7th, IWPS volunteers joined Palestinians and other international solidarity activists in an attempt to bring food to the main part of the village of Ni’lin, which had been under military curfew for 4 days. The village is located in the Ramallah district of the West Bank. It is divided by Settler Highway 446, which isolates the residents of the Al Muhalel section from the main part of Ni’lin. As only the later was under curfew, Palestinians and international activists decided to leave from Al Muhalel and then descend to the soldiers’ road block to try and break the curfew order. The Palestinians and international activists had only walked a couple meters towards the road before Israeli army jeeps drove up to meet them. Soldiers proceeded to throw sound bombs and tear gas within 5 meters of the demonstrators, forcing everyone to retreat into fields near the village.

Palestinian Residents Defy Curfew
Reuters, MIFTAH 7/8/2008
Shots sounded from a Palestinian town on Sunday as local people marched in defiance of a daylight curfew imposed by Israeli troops who have sealed off Ni’lin, in the occupied West Bank, since Friday. One resident said up to 50 people were hurt by tear gas and rubber bullets. The Israeli army said a soldier was wounded and declined to comment on any casualties among civilians on a third day of clashes and a clampdown that has kept journalists out. Troops again stopped reporters trying to enter the town of 5,000, which has been a focus for protests against the walls and fences Israel is building through the West Bank in what it says is a defensive measure. Acorrespondent on a hill overlooking Ni’lin saw at least a dozen people walking and shouting through the village. He also heard several shots. Local people said by telephone they had been prevented from leaving the town since Friday.

PA Security Forces arrests six Hamas members in the West Bank
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 7/8/2008
Sources close to Hamas movement reported on Tuesday that Palestinian Security Forces, loyal to Fateh movement, arrested on Monday six members and supporters of the Hamas in the West Bank. The sources stated that in Jenin, in the northern part of the West Bank, Palestinian security forces arrested Imad Ed Deen Abu Al Haija, the son of Jamal Abu Al Haija, a Hamas leader imprisoned by Israel. The forces also arrested Majdi Abu Al Haija and Fathi Atoom after they were both called in for questioning at a local security center. In Hebron district, in the southern part of the West Bank, security forces arrested the head of Al Sammoa’ village council, Jamal Abu Al Jadayil, and resident Daoud Abu Hashim. In Salfit district, security forces arrested Riziq Abdul-Raouf, from Jama’in village. This is the third time the forces arrest Abdul-Raouf in recent period.

Hamas: security forces detain six Hamas affiliates in West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 7/8/2008
Nablus - Salfit – Ma’an - Hamas said Palestinian security services detainedsix affiliated to Hamas in the West Bank on Monday. In a statement they said the security services in Jenin detained Imad Eddin Abu Al-Heijah, Majdi Abu Al-Heijah and Fathi ’Attoum after calling them for interview. In Hebron, the security agencies detained the Mayor Jama Abu Al-Jadayel and Daud Abu Hashim after calling them for interview. In Salfit, the security agencies detained Rizk Aziz Abdel-Raouf for the third time after calling him for interview. [end]

Troops kidnap nine residents in the West Bank
Rula Shahwan news, International Middle East Media Center News 7/8/2008
During Tuesday’s pre-dawn attacks targeting several areas in the occupied West Bank, Israeli troops kidnapped nine civilians, Palestinian and Israeli sources reported. Israeli media reported that the Israeli army kidnapped those nine civilians while conducting a search campaign in Nahaleen and Bait Fajjar villages near Bethlehem, Abu Dis town, north of Jerusalem, and in Halhool village near southern West Bank city of Hebron. The sources added all kidnapped residents were taken to detention camps for investigation. [end]

Israeli forces detain nine Palestinians from the West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 7/8/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Israeli forces detained nine Palestinians from several cities across the West Bank early on Tuesday morning. Israeli sources said that Israeli troops detained nine alleged "wanted" Palestinians, from Nahalin, Beit Fajjar, Bethlehem and Abu Dis east of Jerusalem, and from Halhul north of Hebron. All the detainees were transferred to investigation centers for questioning. [end]

Jewish soldiers in Golani Brigades resent Arab soldier serving in their unit
Ma’an News Agency 7/8/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – It is not at all easy for Israeli soldiers to become members of the special units in the Golani Brigades, the most elite units of the Israeli army. It takes more than a year and a half of hard training before a fighter is accepted in the unit. A Palestinian soldier from Nazareth was the first Arab to join the unit. He faced a stream of abuse from Jewish soldiers who dubbed him "a rude Arab’" according to Israeli daily newspaper Maariv. The newspaper explained that Jewish soldiers in the Golani Brigades decided to make the Palestinian soldier’s life very difficult, calling him "stinking," "Arab donkey," "collaborator" among other terms of abuse. Whenever he made a mistake, it was deemed to be evidence that he is inferior because he is an Arab. One Jewish soldier wondered how that Arab soldier could ever gain acceptance in the unit and expected him to leave before completing his training.

Palestine Today 070808
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio, International Middle East Media Center News 7/8/2008
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 8th, 2008. Two Palestinians killed in Gaza, while the Palestinian Attorney General in the West Bank escapes and assassination attempt. These stories and more coming up, stay tuned. The News Cast Palestinian sources reported on Tuesday morning that two civilians were killed and two others were wounded in an unknown explosion in southern Gaza Strip. Dr. Mawiya Hassanen, of the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, reported that the source and causes of the explosion are still unknown. He identified the two killed residents as; Muhammad AL Maghaide and Wael Saliha. He added that one of the two injured residents is in critical condition.

Rightist MK tries Knesset caucus effort to thwart Israeli Arabs
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 7/9/2008
While the official name of the parliamentary alignment created Tuesday is the Legislative Caucus to Preserve the Jewish Identity of the State of Israel, it could more correctly termed the demographic caucus, or perhaps the caucus for the prevention of the proliferation of Arabs. The pressure group was founded by MK Eliyahu Gabbay (National Union-National Religious Party), who until now was best known for opposing Gay Pride parades in Jerusalem. By definition a legislative caucus concentrates the activity of more than a few MKs from more than a few parties, but Tuesday’s event was a one-man show on the part of a man who is considered an outsider by his own party. While a few party colleagues did turn up, none stayed more than a few minutes. Party colleague Aryeh Eldad took advantage of the opportunity to issue an announcement. . .

Olmert to be questioned by police Friday
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 7/8/2008
Prime minister to be interrogated for third time since alleged bribery offenses revealed. Police investigators to arrive at his official Jerusalem residence Friday morning, ahead of key witnesses’ cross examination scheduled for next week - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will be questioned by the police Friday morning for the third time since the bribery offenses he is suspected of were made public. Investigators of the police’s National Fraud Investigation Unit will arrive at the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem and present him with questions regarding the suspicions against him. A police team recently traveled to the United States to collect documents in New York, Washington and Las Vegas as part of a judicial inquiry related to the affair. The two officers, Superintendents Tzachi Havkin and Lior Rice have yet to return to Israel.

Israeli high court rejects challenge to Hizbullah prisoner deal
Ma’an News Agency 7/8/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A prisoner deal between Israel and the Lebanese resistance group Hizbullah cleared another hurdle on Tuesday as the Israeli High Court of Justice rejected a petition by the family of the victim of a Lebanese guerilla attack. The family of slain Israeli policeman Eliahu Shahar asked the court to block the deal, which involves the release of Shahar’s killer, Samir Quntar. In the decision, Supreme Court Vice President Justice Eliezer Rivlin said the court preferred not to interfere in the deal, which was approved by the Israeli Prime Minister and cabinet. "The decision was made at the cabinet’s discretion in dealings connected to Israel’s foreign policy and defense. In instances like this, the court plays a very restrained role," he wrote in remarks reprinted in Israeli media. The petition was submitted on Monday by Shahar’s brother and sister along with the Almagor Terror Victims’ Association.

Questions over Arad report impeding Israel-Hizbullah prisoner swap
Ma’an News Agency 7/8/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Questions over Hizbullah’s report on missing Israeli air force pilot Ron Arad are impeding Israel’s prisoner swap with Hizbullah, Israeli media sources reported on Tuesday. Israeli TV Channel 1 reporter Ayala Hasoun said Israel has already exhumed more than 200 corpses of Palestinian and Lebanese "martyrs" buried in the so-called Enemy Combatants Cemetery. However the German mediator Gerhard Conrad has several questions about the report Hizbullah has submitted to the UN concerning Arad’s fate. According to the report, Arad ejected from his plane in 1986 and was taken captive by the Shi’ite militant group Amal in Lebanon. Hizbullah have since confirmed that he is dead but the location of his remains has not been revealed. According to Israeli TV, clarifications demanded by the German mediator might delay the prisoner deal for a few more days, but the deal is not expected to be cancelled.

High Court rejects petition against Kuntar’s release
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 7/8/2008
Judges accept State’s position that not including Lebanese terrorist who murdered three Israelis in prisoner swap will result in deal’s collapse and have severe diplomatic, defense-related ramifications -The High Court of Justice rejected Tuesday a petition against the prisoner exchange deal with Hizbullah filed by the family of policeman Eliyahu Shahar, who was murdered along with Danny Haran and his 4-year-old daughter by Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar in 1979 during a cross-border raid on Nahariya. In the appeal, which was filed with the Almagor Terror Victims Association, the court was asked to hold another hearing on the agreement, according to which Israel is expected to release Kuntar and four other Lebanese prisoners and return to Lebanon the remains of some 200 slain Hizbullah gunmen in exchange for IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, who are believed dead.

Italy says willing to mediate Israel, Lebanon talks
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 7/8/2008
Rome keen to act as go-between in possible future talks between Jerusalem, Beirut - visiting Italian foreign minister tells President Peres. Leaders agree to work to preserve Roman archeological sites in Israel - Italy is seeking to play mediator in peace negotiations between Israel and Lebanon - visiting Italian Foreign Franco Frattini told President Shimon Peres as the two met in Jerusalem on Tuesday afternoon. Peres responded by saying Israel "has always offered its hand in peace to those who want it. " Frattini has a series of meetings scheduled for his visit with most of Israel’s political echelon. In his official residence in Jerusalem, Peres added that "Lebanon must be independent, democratic and free of foreign influence," - the president was referring to Syrian and Iranian involvement in Lebanese affairs by using Hizbullah as a proxy - "I have always. . .

Visiting Italian FM to hear misgivings on performance of UN peacekeepers in Lebanon
Barak Ravid and Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 7/8/2008
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini arrived late Monday in Israel and is expected to meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Israeli officials are expected to voice concerns about the performance of the United Nations Interim Force (UNIFIL) in Lebanon, whose command is currently under Italy’s jurisdiction. Israel maintains Hezbollah is working unhindered to regain the military capacity it lost during the Second Lebanon War. Frattini, who came into office in April and is considered friendly to Israel, has recently suggested expanding UNIFIL’s mandate. He maintains that the force should have more room to maneuver, while remaining within confines of its current provisions. Also, during Frattini’s visit, Israel and Italy are expected to hold bilateral strategic talks for the first time, with. . .

National Security Cabinet to discuss Hizbullah armament
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 7/9/2008
Barak speaks to French FM, says ’Israel cannot accept continuing transfer of weaponry damaging delicate balance at northern border’; cabinet to meet Wednesday to discuss State’s attempts to expand UN’s decision 1701 - On Wednesday the National Security Cabinet is expected to discuss the gnawing at the UN Resolution 1701, which brought the Second Lebanon War to an end. Summons for the special cabinet meeting, previously postponed several times, have been issued to ministers recently. During the discussion the ministers will be presented with an assessment of the situation in Lebanon. Security officials will reiterate their reports regarding the armament ofHizbullah with missiles - currently estimated at almost three times the amount present before the war. Hizbullah’s deployment in southern Lebanon will also be surveyed, and security officials in Jerusalem. . .

Livni: We must disarm Hizbullah
Hagai Einav, YNetNews 7/8/2008
Foreign minister tours north with Italian counterpart, suggests expansion of UN decision 1701 expected to be fulfilled with return of kidnapped soldiers; also stresses threat posed to Israel by arming of Hizbullah through Syrian border - "Israel is making an effort to expand decision 1701, which sealed the Second Lebanon War," a State official told Ynet, explaining that this was the reason for a visit to the north of Israel made by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and her Italian counterpart Franco Frattini on Tuesday. The Israeli initiative is aimed at preventing any further smuggling of weapons across the Syrian-Lebanese border and the reoccurring domination of Hizbullah over southernLebanon. Jerusalem attempted to take advantage of Frattini’s visit on two levels. First, Italy, a member of the UN Security Council, is planning to discuss UNIFIL’s mandate according to the UN’s decision 1701.

Central Bank governor defends Lebanese banks after Israeli citizens sue in US court
Daily Star 7/9/2008
BEIRUT: Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh on Tuesday criticized a lawsuit filed in New York in which Israelis hurt by Hizbullah rocket attacks claim that Lebanese banks are helping to fund the resistance group. In a written statement to the press, the Central Bank chief said that the case is unfounded. "The Central Bank governor assures that the Lebanese banking sector fully abides by the international standards" and operates in compliance with international and Lebanese laws, the statement said. The lawsuit, filed on Thursday in a Manhattan federal court on behalf of 57 Israeli citizens, seeks at least $100 million in damages from the banks. None of the banks involved - Fransabank Sal, Banque Libanese Pour le Commerce, Bank of Beirut Sal, Banque Libano-Francaise Sal and the Middle East Africa Bank -issued a comment on the case.

Turkey to decide on Mediterranean initiative
Middle East Online 7/8/2008
ANKARA - Turkey’s foreign minister said his country would likely decide on whether to participate in a summit this weekend aimed at launching a Mediterranean union following talks with the French president Nicolas Sarkozy was expected to call Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Tuesday to discuss the issue, after which "the picture will become clearer," Ali Babacan said during a visit to Malaysia, the Anatolia news agency reported. "I believe we will make a decision after that telephone call. . . . We are positive but I do not know what Sarkozy will tell the prime minister," he said. Ankara has been hesitating about whether to embrace the Union for the Mediterranean, an initiative spearheaded by Sarkozy, because of doubts that it may be an attempt to delude the country’s European Union membership prospects.

Assad trumpets invitation to Paris as new beginning
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/9/2008
PARIS: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, expected in Paris this weekend, has welcomed a "break" in France’s policy toward Damascus and invited Paris to play a role in possible direct negotiations with Israel. In an interview published in French newspaper Le Figaro Tuesday, Assad said: "We are witnessing a break between the current policy of France and the policy of the past. "This new policy is more realistic and better suited to the interests of both our countries. It is a solid basis to renew healthy relations," he added. French President Nicolas Sarkozy invited Assad along with some 40 foreign leaders for the launch Sunday of a new Union for the Mediterranean, aimed at boosting cooperation between European Union and southern Mediterranean states. Sarkozy, who decided to renew high-level contacts with Damascus following the breakthrough in Lebanon’s drawn-out political crisis, is to meet Assad in Paris on July 12.

Adolescent-friendly space empowers young Palestinian refugees
Monica Awad, United Nations Children''s Fund - UNICEF, ReliefWeb 7/7/2008
ZARQA, Jordan, 7 July 2008 – Zarqa camp is the oldest Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan. Families live in tiny brick houses constructed with asbestos roofing and often suffer from overcrowding and extreme poverty. Young people in the camp have little opportunity for safe play and interaction with their peers. This is why the camp’s Social Development Centre is working to provide an adolescent-friendly space, supported by UNICEF in partnership with the Norwegian government. The Adolescent-Friendly Learning Center provides young people with training on children’s rights, photography, communication skills and conflict resolution – with the aim of having a long-lasting effect on the youth of the camp. ‘I joined this centre because I like its activities,’ said Hussein Mustafa abu Galion, who attends the tenth grade in Zarqa.

UNRWA opens four music centres for Palestine refugee children
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in, ReliefWeb 7/7/2008
Aleppo 7 July: To the rhythm of traditional Arab music, the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Syria, Panos Moumtzis and Frans Wolfkamp, Managing Director of Music in Me inaugurated the Ramallah Children’s Music Centre today in Ein el-Tal Camp, Aleppo. The ceremony today was part of a week-long series of music centre inaugurations taking place in Neirab, Aleppo, Lattakia, and Homs. Music in Me, a Dutch non-governmental organization founded in 2004, strives to bring music to the lives of people in the Middle East whose access to music is otherwise limited because of war, poverty or lack of opportunity. Each centre is located in an UNRWA school and will provide professional music tuition in classical Arab instruments including the lute, the zither, the flute and the drum to over 40 students from UNRWA elementary schools in the community.

Does the Conflict Between Palestinians, Israelis Still Matter?
Shibley Telhami, MIFTAH 7/8/2008
That’s the question University of Maryland scholar and Brookings Institution fellows set out to answer through an analysis of Arab public opinion surveys he conducted in six countries with Zogby International. The countries were Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Morocco, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. How important is the issue of Palestine in your priorities? Eighty-six percent of non-Palestinians rated it the most important or within their top three priorities, compared with 73 percent in 2006. What two steps by the U. S. would improve your views of the U. S. most? In 2006, 62 percent said brokering a comprehensive Middle East peace with Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 border and establishing a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. This year, that figure dropped to 50 percent, with 44 percent choosing a U. S. withdrawal from Iraq.

U.S. exports to Iran shot up even as Bush talked tough on sanctions
Associated Press, Ha’aretz 7/9/2008
U. S. exports to Iran grew more than tenfold during President George W. Bush’s years in office even as he accused Iran of nuclear ambitions and helping terrorists. America sent more cigarettes to Iran under Bush - at least $158 million worth - than any other products. Other surprising shipments to Iran during the Bush administration: brassieres, bull semen, cosmetics, fur clothing, sculptures, perfume, musical instruments. Top states shipping goods to Iran include California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin, according to an analysis by Theof seven years of U. S. government trade data. That list includes some solidly conservative Republican states where Bush’s assertive foreign policy has been highly popular.

U.S. imposes sanctions on Iran officials, companies aiding nuke program
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 7/9/2008
The Bush administration moved Tuesday to impose financial sanctions onIranian officials and companies accused of helping the country develop nuclear weapons. The action by the departments of State and Treasury marks the latest effort to tighten the financial noose on Iran, which the United States accuses of bankrolling terrorism and seeking a nuclear bomb. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, a senior scientist at the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, was among those targeted on Tuesday. The others cited were: Yahya Rahim Safavi, a commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. ; Dawood Agha-Jani, who is involved in Iran’s nuclear program; Mohsen Hojati, involved in the country’s ballistic missile program; Mehrdada Akhlaghi Ketabachi, the head of the Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group; and Naser Maleki, head of the. . .

Two Qassam members killed in mysterious explosion
Palestinian Information Center 7/8/2008
KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)-- Two members of the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas Movement, were killed at an early hour on Tuesday in an explosion west of Khan Younis city, south of the Gaza Strip. Medical sources told PIC reporter that the martyrs’ bodies were scattered remains while two others were wounded one of them in a serious condition. They identified the martyrs as Mohammed Al-Majaida and Wa’el Salhia. Locals said that a powerful explosion was heard in a training site for the Qassam Brigades west of Khan Younis in what used to be the Israeli settlement of Jani Tal, which Israel evacuated during its withdrawal from Gaza more than two years ago. [end]

Explosion kills two in southern Gaza Strip
Rula Shahwan & Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/8/2008
Palestinian sources reported on Tuesday morning that two civilians were killed and two others were wounded in an unknown explosion in southern Gaza Strip. Dr. Mawiya Hassanen, of the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, reported that the source and causes of the explosion are still unknown. He identified the two killed residents as; Muhammad AL Maghaide and Wael Saliha. He added that one of the two injured residents is in critical condition. Local sources said that the explosion took place at the ruins of an Israeli evacuated settlement. [end]

Two killed, two injured in blast at Al-Qassam training camp
Ma’an News Agency 7/8/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - Two Palestinians were killed and another two injured after an explosion at an Al-Qassam Brigades training camp in southern Gaza on Tuesday, security sources said. The blast took place at theevacuated Israeli settlement of Gani Tal, west of Khan Younis in southern Gaza. Dr Mu’awiyah Hassanein, director of ambulance and emergency services in the Palestinian Health Ministry said that medical crews are evacuating the casualties from the blast site. The Al-Qassam Brigades are the armed wing of Hamas. [end]

Charity gives 1.8 million USD to Israeli forces victims’ families
Ma’an News Agency 7/8/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – The Al-Ansar charity announced on Tuesday that has distributed more than 1. 8 million dollars to the families of those killed by the Israeli military since the beginning of the second Palestinian Intifada (uprising) in 2000. The group said its program of assistance aids 2,044 families. The families of single "martyrs" receive 700 US dollars, while those who left behind widows receive 1,400. The society said its program is aimed at providing a decent life for those who lost their main financial support in the conflict. The society called on Islamic and Arab societies to support Palestinians during the current economic hard times. [end]

OPT: Gaza emergency water project - additional financing
The World Bank Group, ReliefWeb 6/30/2008
June 2008 -Since beginning operations in the West Bank & Gaza in 1994, the World Bank has committed a significant part of its development portfolio to develop Palestinian water and wastewater services. In 1996, the World Bank financed the first Gaza Water and Sanitation Services Improvement Project (GWSSIP) which was completed in 2001. The main objectives of this project were to improve the provision of water and sanitation services in terms of quality, quantity, and management and to explore appropriate institutional setups for the water service provision. By the closing of the GWSSIP, the municipalities of Gaza had agreed to establish the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU). The Gaza Emergency Water Project (GEWP), launched in June 2005, was designed as a follow on project building on the success of the GWSSIP with a grant of US$ 20.

Nearly billion dollars in direct aid disbursed to Palestinians in six months
Agence France-Presse - AFP, ReliefWeb 7/8/2008
PARIS, July 8, 2008 (AFP) - The international community has paid out nearly a billion dollars in direct aid to the Palestinians in six months, officials of the International Donors’ Conference for the Palestinian State said here late Monday, while hitting out at Israeli restrictions on movement by Palestinians. The chair and the co-chairs of the Paris conference, which last December came up with pledges of donations totalling 7. 7 billion dollars over three years, ’strongly welcomed’ the process of disbursing the funds. The international community has paid out more than 920 million dollars in six months in direct budgetary support and signed for one billion dollars of bilateral agreements with the Palestinian Authority for development projects, according to a communique from the chair and co-chairs released by the French foreign ministry.

Statement by the Chair and the Co-chairs of the International Donors’ conference for the Palestinian State
Government of France, ReliefWeb 7/7/2008
1. In accordance with the commitment they made at the International Donors’ Conference for the Palestinian state (Paris, December 17 2007), the Chair and co-chairs met tonight in Paris to review to what extent the donors who attended the Paris conference have delivered on their pledges, assess the implementation of the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan (PRDP) and review the current environment in which all parties are working to promote Palestinian economic recovery and institution building. They welcomed the recent developments in the region, which favor further progress on the peace process. 2 They reaffirmed their support for the policies currently pursued by President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, welcomed the implementation of the PRDP in particular in the security sector, and they voiced their support for the work done at the Berlin conference in support of Palestinian security and the rule of law on 24 June.

Palestinian official survives assassination bid
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/9/2008
RAMALLAH, Occupied West Bank: Palestinian Attorney General Ahmed al-Mughani was unhurt on Tuesday when an explosive device placed next to the fuel tank of his car set off a small blast, he and police said. The explosion damaged the car but did not cause any casualties, police said. Mughani told AFPhe heard "a weak explosion" in the back of his car as he drove to work in Ramallah. "I got out of my car and I realized there was an explosive device placed next to the fuel tank," he said. "I’m not accusing anybody. All I know is there was an explosive device placed in my car and that it targeted me," he said. "I haven’t been injured and I am now in my office," Mughani said by telephone. Mughani was briefly held by Hamas police in August 2007 after the Islamist movement seized power in the Gaza Strip and ousted forces loyal to US-backed Palestinian President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Explosion hits the vehicle of Palestinian Attorney General in Ramallah
Rula Shahwan & Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/8/2008
Official police sources in the central West Bank city of Ramallah reported that Ahmad Al Mughani, the Palestinian Attorney General, survived an assassination attempt on Tuesday morning. Initial police reports indicated that the Attorney General’s car exploded while parked near his home in Ramallah city. Witnesses stated that police and ambulances rushed to the scene, so far, no injuries were reported. [end]

Hamas PLC members criticize Abbas for refusing to meet Mash’al
Ma’an News Agency 7/8/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - The Hamas-affiliated members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) are angry that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Fatah faction, refused to meet with Hamas leader Khalid Mesh’al during the president’s visit to Damascus. Salah Al-Bardawil, the official spokesperson of Hamas’ Change and Reform bloc in the PLC said“Abbas could not speak with Hamas unless he gets a green light from the Quartet, US or Israel, and that is what Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa expressed when he asked the Quartet to lift its hand from the issue of Palestinian internal dialogue. " "This also was expressed by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice when she rejected any Palestinian internal dialogue as long as Hamas does not recognize the conventions of international legitimacy and the Quartet," he added.

Moussa: There is not a single political prisoner in Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 7/8/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Yehya Moussa, the head of the parliamentary committee on human rights and public freedoms, categorically denied the presence of any political prisoner in the Gaza Strip, hailing the space of freedom which the Palestinian citizens enjoy in the Strip compared to the constriction policy exercised by the PA in the West Bank. During a workshop organized by Al-Dhameer foundation about the reality of public freedoms in Palestine, MP Yehya underlined that regional and international interventions, which imposed agendas in the Palestinian arena, negatively influenced the human rights situation in the West Bank. The lawmaker noted that PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s decrees which disrupted the judicial work in an attempt to create chaos in Gaza made the PLC find constitutional alternatives to process the daily issues of citizens.

Colombia to open representative’s office in Ramallah
Ma’an News Agency 7/8/2008
Ramallah - Ma’an – Colombia has agreed to open a representative’s office in Ramallah, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday. The agreement was made during Palestinian foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki’s visit to the Latin American state, which began last Saturday. During his visit Al-Maliki met with the Colombian President Alvaro Uribe in the Colombian capital Bogota, with a number of Colombian officers in addition to the Palestinian Ambassador to Colombia Imad Jeddah. Al-Maliki updated Uribe and the Columbian Foreign Minister Fernando Araujo on the current situation in the Palestinian territories and the latest developments in the Palestinian political arena. Al-Maliki also met with the Palestinian community in the Columbian Republic.

17 arrested in Palestinian security services operation
Ma’an News Agency 7/8/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – A joint operation by Palestinian police and other security services in villages northwest of the West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday resulted in a number of arrests, a statement from the force’s media office revealed. 90 illegal vehicles were destroyed and 17 fugitives were detained in the villages of Kofor Ein, Deir Ghassaneh, Beit Rima and Qarawet Bani Zayed. The statement said that 65 members of the police force and 45 members of the national security and intelligence services participated in the campaign. [end]

Tamir apologizes for ’unparliamentary’ Knesset outburst
Or Kashti and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 7/9/2008
Education Minister Yuli Tamir apologized Tuesday evening for using language that was "not parliamentary" during a Knesset committee hearing earlier in the day. Tamir (Labor) and the former director general of the ministry, MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima), exchanged heated words at a Knesset Education Committee meeting on Tuesday. In a statement released Tuesday, Tamir said she was "sorry that she used an expression that was not parliamentary. "The education minister added, though, that Tirosh, who accused Tamir of calling her "a piece of shit," is guilty of "arrogance" who "lent a hand to billions in budget cuts as well as cutting 250,000 instruction hours during her five-year term as director general of the education ministry. " "Instead of redeeming herself, the MK is doing all she can to thwart the reforms introduced by the education minister. . . "

Police quizzed ex-Likud activist in New York over ’cash envelopes’
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 7/9/2008
Sharon Tzur, a former Likud activist who was considered close to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, is one of the key people summoned to give a deposition to the Israel Police in the investigation it is conducting in the United States in the Talansky corruption case. Morris Talansky, an American Jewish businessman, has admitted to giving some $150,000 in cash to Olmert over the course of about a decade. Tzur, 36, founded and runs Media Watch International, an organization that seeks to promote pro-Israel views in the American media. American Jewish businessman Ronald Lauder is one of the organization’s major donors. Another person from whom police are soliciting testimony in the U. S. is political consultant Zev Furst. Police want to know whether any of the money that Talansky gave Olmert found its way to Furst.

Finance Committee to discuss suspending Katsav benefits
Zvi Lavi, YNetNews 7/8/2008
Knesset committee accepts proposal by MK Oron to explore possibility of suspending former president’s benefit package until trial proceedings end. If convicted of offense bearing moral turpitude, Katsav may find benefits permanently revoked. Among his current benefit requests - an office in Azrieli Center and an Audi A6 -The Knesset Finance Committee accepted MK Haim Oron’s proposal to discuss the possibility of suspending former President Moshe Katsav’s benefits for the duration of the legal proceedings against him - and revoke them permanently in the event he is convicted of offenses bearing moral turpitude. Katsav faces varying charges of sexual misconduct against female employees who answered to him. For full coverage of the Katsav case, clickhere The first Israeli president to face criminal charges, Katsav reneged the plea bargain. . .

Olmert to be quizzed by police for third time in Talansky probe
Jonathan Lis and Amir Oren, Ha’aretz 7/8/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will be questioned by the police fraud squad on Friday for the third time in the ongoing corruption probe against him. Olmert is being investigated for allegations that he accepted illicit funds over many years from Morris Talansky, a Jewish American businessman from Long Island, in what has been dubbed "the envelopes affair. " Talansky, the key witness against Olmert, is expected to arrive in Israel next Thursday to be cross-examined by Olmert’s attorneys. Talansky already gave a preliminary deposition in the Jerusalem District Court on May 27. Last week, Haaretz reported that senior officials in the State Prosecutor’s Office and the police said inquiries made in the United States by Israeli law enforcement representatives were strengthening suspicions of fraud and other crimes against Olmert.

OPT: Paralysed Palestinian girl fights to stay in Israel
Reuters Foundation, ReliefWeb 7/8/2008
By Joseph Nasr JERUSALEM, July 8 (Reuters) -Paralysed from the neck down in an Israeli attack on militants, six-year-old Palestinian Maria Amin is fighting an order to move her from a rehabilitation centre in Israel to the occupied West Bank. Maria can move around in a wheelchair controlled by a joystick she guides with her chin, but her Israeli doctors say her life would be in danger if Israel’s Defence Ministry has its way and sends her to the West Bank city of Ramallah. Two years ago, Maria was paralysed from the neck down when the car she was travelling in was caught in a missile attack on a leader of the Islamic Jihad militant group in Gaza. Her mother, grandmother and older brother were killed. The Defence Ministry, which has covered Maria’s medical expenses and sponsored her father and younger brother to live with her at a Jerusalem hospital, has been seeking. . .

Israel attempting to nix its responsibly for treating a child its army paralyzed in 2006
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 7/8/2008
Maria Aman, a 6 year old Palestinian child, paralyzed from neck down during an Israeli strike in Gaza in 2006, is now in a battle with the Israeli Authorities who are trying avoid proving her with rehabilitation and treatment in Israel by moving her to Abu Raya Rehabilitation Center in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The innocent, severely wounded child, does not know her condition is permanent. Her father cannot find th words to tell her that this is the her condition from now until the end of her life. Maria can only move around with a wheelchair which she controls by a joystick guided by her chin. Her doctors in Israel said that she will face life threatening conditions if she is moved to the Rehabilitation Center in Ramallah. Yet, the so-called Israeli Defense Ministry is working hard in order to remove the child from the Israeli hospital and transfer her to Ramallah.

Paralyzed Palestinian girl fights to stay in Israel
Reuters, YNetNews 7/8/2008
Wounded in 2006 strike against Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza that also killed her mother, brother and grandmother, six-year-old Maria Amin is now fighting against Defense Ministry order to move her from Jerusalem rehabilitation facility to one in Ramllah - Paralyzed from the neck down in an Israeli strike on the Islamic Jihad in Gaza, six-year-old Palestinian Maria Amin is fighting an order to move her from a rehabilitation centre in Israel to the West Bank. Maria can move around in a wheelchair controlled by a joystick she guides with her chin, but her Israeli doctors say her life would be in danger if Israel’s Defense Ministry sends her to the West Bank city of Ramallah. Two years ago, Maria was paralyzed from the neck down when the car she was traveling in was caught in a missile attack on a leader of the Islamic Jihad group in Gaza.

July 9-12: 17 demonstrations to mark the fourth anniversary of the ICJ decision
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 7/8/2008
Organized by: the Palestinian grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign in coordination with: National Resistance Committees, National and Islamic Forces - Thousands of people will be on the streets and in the fields to mark the fourth anniversary of the decision of the International Court of Justice on the illegality of the Wall. It states that: - the Wall is to be dismantled and compensation given to the people for the damages incurred. - all state parties of the IV Geneva Convention of their obligation not to render any aid or assistance to the Wall and its associated regime. The demonstrations will bring two clear messages: “To the PLO and PNA: challenge the United Nations to take action” “To the international community: pressure Israel via sanctions to comply with international law”. . .

Iran vows scorching response to attack over nuclear crisis
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/9/2008
TEHRAN: Iran warned on Tuesday it would "set fire" to Israel and US forces in the region in response to any attack over its nuclear program, as the world’s leading industrial powers told Tehran to freeze uranium enrichment. Leaders of the Group of Eight nations at a summit in Japan urged Iran to fully comply with UN Security Council resolutions "in particular to suspend all enrichment-related activities. "They also urged Tehran to respond positively to a new package by six major powers aimed at bringing an end to the five-year-old nuclear standoff which has led to a string of sanctions against Iran. The United States and its top regional ally, Israel, have not ruled out military action against Iran over its nuclear drive, which the West fears could be aimed at building an atomic bomb. Iran insists it program is peaceful and aimed solely at producing electricity, its right as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Iran leader challenges Obama, McCain to debate
Middle East Online 7/8/2008
KUALA LUMPUR - Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday challenged the candidates vying for the US presidency to a debate and called for "fundamental change" in the next US government. Ahmadinejad said he would be willing to meet with Democratic candidate Barack Obama, who has taken fire from his opponents over his offer to talk - if elected president - with the leaders of several US foes including Iran. "I announce my readiness to meet with all the (US presidential) candidates of the United States in front of the media," the Iranian president told a press conference at the D8 summit of developing nations. "To build confidence in the region we need to have fundamental change in the next US government," he added. Ahmadinejad has previously challenged Bush to a debate at the United Nations. The Iranian leader also called for United States military bases across the world to be "eradicated".

US announces sanctions on 8 linked to Iran weapons programs
News agencies, YNetNews 7/8/2008
Washington announces sanctions in latest effort to tighten financial noose on Iran. Senior Treasury official says ’Iran’s nuclear, missile firms hide behind array of agents that transact business on their behalf’ - The Bush administration moved Tuesday to impose financial sanctions on Iranian officials and companies accused of helping the country develop nuclear weapons. The action by the departments of State and Treasury marks the latest effort to tighten the financial noose on Iran, which the United States accuses of bankrolling terrorism and seeking a nuclear bomb. " Iran’s nuclear and missile firms hide behind an array of agents that transact business on their behalf," said Stuart Levey, the Treasury’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. "As long as Iran continues to engage in such deceptive practices, companies and banks must exercise. . .

Ahmadinejad scoffs at notion of raid on Iran
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 7/8/2008
Calls theoretical scenario ’comical,’ Iranian president says no chance of war with US, Israel. Speaking to reporters in Tehran, Ahmadinejad says Israeli regime will collapse without Iranian interference - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday that he did not see any possibility of a war between his country and the United States or Israel. He added that the Islamic Republic would sever the hand of any assailant before it could reach the trigger, and called the possibility of a strike against Iran "comical. "Ahmadinejad said he believed Washington and Tel Aviv have been ’’focusing on propaganda and psychological war’’ against Iran. ’’I assure you that there won’t be any war in the future,’’ Ahmadinejad on the sidelines of an Islamic summit in the Malaysian capital, adding that US President George W.

Tehran looks beyond Bush
Trita Parsi, Asia Times 7/9/1908
WASHINGTON - Conciliatory noises from Tehran over the nuclear issue have left Washington and Brussels baffled, and unconvinced of Iran’s intentions. Having grown accustomed to President Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s uncompromising language, Tehran’s new tone has raised more suspicion than hope among cynics in Western capitals. At a lunch with a dozen journalists in New York last week, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki indicated that Iran would likely respond favorably to the latest proposal by the United Nations’ Security Council’s five permanent members plus Germany ("Iran Six"). The reason seems to be that alongside an incentive package that didn’t differ significantly from a 2006 package that Tehran rejected, a formula may have been agreed on that would enable all parties to come to the negotiating table without losing face.

Siniora declares ’a lot of progress’ in formation of unity government
Hussein Abdallah, Daily Star 7/9/2008
BEIRUT: Premier Fouad Siniora said Tuesday that he hoped a new cabinet would be formed before President Michel Sleiman leaves the country on July 12 to participate in the Mediterranean Union summit in France. Siniora said after meeting Sleiman at the Presidential Palace that progress was being made toward the creation of the new cabinet. "I do not want to set a specific date, but I can assure you that a lot of progress has been made," he told reporters. Siniora denied that obstacles within the parliamentary majority were delaying the formation of the new government. The premier added that the opposition had submitted the names of most, but not all of its nominees for the new cabinet. "I received the names of most opposition candidates, but I am still short two names," he said. Asked about his position on Hizbullah’s alleged support for including former Syrian Social Nationalist. . .

Erdogan accepts French invite to Mediterranean summit
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/9/2008
ANKARA: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is planning to attend a summit this weekend aimed at launching a Mediterranean union despite Turkish reservations about the French initiative, an aide said Tuesday. French President Nicolas Sarkozy telephoned Erdogan and personally invited him to Sunday’s gathering in Paris. "The prime minister said he will attend unless something extraordinary happens," Erdogan’s spokesman Akif Beki told AFP, without giving details. Ankara has been hesitating about whether to embrace the Union for the Mediterranean, an initiative spearheaded by Sarkozy, because of doubts that it may be an attempt to delude the country’s European Union membership prospects. Sarkozy is a staunch opponent of Turkey’s EU accession and advocates a "special partnership" rather than full membership - a proposal Ankara categorically rejects.

Assad welcomes ‘new’ French policy toward Syria
Middle East Online 7/8/2008
PARIS - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, expected in Paris this weekend, has welcomed a "break" in France’s policy toward his country and invited Paris to play a direct role in eventual negotiations between Damascus and Israel. In an interview appearing on the Internet site of French daily Le Figaro, Assad said: "We note a break between the current policy of France and the past policy. "This new policy is more realistic and corresponds more with the interests of our two countries. It is a solid basis to renew healthy relations. " French President Nicolas Sarkozy will meet Assad in Paris on July 12 after the French leader decided to restore high-level contacts with Damascus. Former president Jacques Chirac cut off all official contacts after the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri, who was a personal friend, in a February 2005 bombing in which Syria was widely implicated.

Report: Damascus to send ambassador to Paris
Associated Press, YNetNews 7/8/2008
Syrian ambassador to London says his country plans to warm ties with Paris by manning post left open since 2006, claims ’France recognizes Syria is valve for security, stability in Middle East’ - Syria will send a new ambassador to France in a move that may thaw frozen diplomatic ties between the two countries, Damascus’ top diplomat in London, Sami Khiyami, said Tuesday. Khiyami, who is Syria’s ambassador to Britain and Ireland, said a new representative will likely be sent to France in "the very near future. "Syria has not had an ambassador in Paris since 2006. Relations between Paris and Damascus became strained over the death of Lebanon’s Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. Syria has always denied any involvement in Hariri’s death. Khiyami said he believed France now realizes that relations with Syria are vital to bringing peace to the Middle East.

Iraq rules out US deal unless it includes pullout date
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/9/2008
NAJAF: Iraq on Tuesday said it would reject any security pact with the United States unless it sets a date for the pullout of US-led foreign troops, a stance directly at odds with that of US President George W. Bush. The demand for a timetable from Baghdad’s Shiite-led government underlines Iraq’s new hardened stand in complex negotiations aimed at striking a security deal with Washington. "We will not accept any memorandum of understanding if it does not give a specific date for a complete withdrawal of foreign troops," Muwaffaq al-Rubaie, Iraq’s national security advisor, told reporters in the holy city of Najaf. After paying a visit to the country’s most revered Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Rubaie said it was proving "very difficult" to set such a date. But "the Iraqi government has spoken about its date, while the foreign party has spoken about its date," he said.

Iraq to reject US deal without pullout timetable
Middle East Online 7/8/2008
NAJAF - Iraq will reject any security pact with the United States unless it contains a specific timetable for the withdrawal of US-led foreign forces, the national security advisor said on Tuesday. "We will not accept any memorandum of understanding if it does not give a specific date for a complete withdrawal of foreign troops," Muwaffaq al-Rubaie told reporters in the Shiite holy city of Najaf. However, Republican White House candidate John McCain warned security conditions must dictate troop withdrawals from Iraq. McCain, who has made staunch support for the US troops ’surge’ escalation strategy a centerpiece of his campaign, said that recent security gains were fragile and should not be put at risk. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s comment on Monday that Iraq was seeking such a timetable in talks with Washington on the future US force structure in the country reverberated across the White House race.

White House: no ’hard date’ for Iraq withdrawal talks
Middle East Online 7/8/2008
WASHINGTON - The White House said Monday it is not negotiating a "hard date" for a US withdrawal from Iraq despite Baghdad’s call for a timetable, but did not rule out "time-frames" discussions with the Iraqi government. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said for the first time Monday that Iraq was seeking such a timetable as part of its negotiations with Washington on the status of US forces in Iraq beyond 2008. But White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said the talks were aimed at reaching agreement on a framework for future US-Iraqi relations and on the arrangements that will govern the US military presence. "It is important to understand that these are not talks on a hard date for a withdrawal," he said. "As Ambassador (Ryan) Crocker has said, we are looking at conditions, and not calendars -- and both sides are in agreement on this point," Stanzel said.


Palestinian village takes on Israeli military
Mel Frykberg, Electronic Intifada 7/8/2008
      RAMALLAH (IPS) - Ambulances were again prevented Monday from entering the central West Bank village of Ni’ilin, near Ramallah, to evacuate the ill and the wounded. Supplies of medicines were running low, as confrontations continued with youths defying a four-day-old curfew imposed by the Israeli military.
     The Israeli army had surrounded the village and ordered residents to remain indoors and was also preventing the media from entering Ni’ilin, said Salah al-Khawaja, spokesman for the Ni’lin Committee for Resisting the Separation Barrier.
     Following intense media coverage and a meeting between the Ni’ilin Village Committee and the Israeli army, the curfew was lifted Tuesday morning. But the protestors have refused to give up the fight for their land or committed to ceasing demonstrations.
     The blockade followed fierce clashes last Friday which broke out between the army and several hundred Palestinian villagers, international activists and Israeli sympathizers, protesting the continued expropriation of village land. Four Israelis were amongst those arrested.

Breaking into Gaza

Ramzi Kysia, Middle East Online 7/8/2008
      I want to tell you a secret and I want to ask you a question.
     Shhh! – Come closer. Listen carefully: I’m part of an international conspiracy to break into the world’s largest open-air prison this summer by sea. Will you help me?
     This August, the Free Gaza Movement will set sail from Cyprus to Gaza on a ship carrying needed medical supplies. We will not be asking Israel for permission. For over two years the state of Israel has severely restricted the Gaza Strip’s ability to import fuel, spare parts and other necessary materials. Israel maintains complete control over Gaza’s airspace and territorial waters, near complete control over travel into or out of Gaza, near complete control over Gaza’s imports and exports, and near complete control over Gaza’s own tax revenues. Little is allowed in. As a result, Gaza’s economy has completely collapsed.
     This has consequences, both vast and personal.

The great divide: ’It’s like living at the end of the world’

Toni O''Loughlin in Jerusalem, The Guardian 7/9/2008
      Dirty, dilapidated and desperate, al-Ram is typical of the Palestinian towns cut off by the barrier on Jerusalem’s eastern outskirts.
     Sufian Odeh used to be able to see his cousin’s house across the street from his apartment window - until Israel built a wall of concrete down the middle of their neighborhood two years ago.
     Standing eight metres high and just 13 metres from his building, it overshadows Sufian’s second-floor apartment like the wall of a prison, darkening this once thriving Palestinian district.
     "When I look from the window and see the wall, I immediately close the blinds and smoke a cigarette. It’s like living at the end of the world," says Sufian, who asked to change his name to preserve his family’s privacy.
     His neighbours fled long ago, as the West Bank barrier crept down the main street of al-Ram, dividing families, separating children from schools and patients from clinics, and severing the road back to Jerusalem. Stranded outside Jerusalem by the barrier, al-Ram has become a virtual ghost town.

Just Intellectuals? Oppression, Resistance, and the Public Role of Intellectuals

Omar Barghouti, Institute of Social Studies, Palestine Think Tank 7/8/2008
      Omar Barghouti, an independent Palestinian political and cultural analyst and commentator, is a long-time advocate of a unitary, secular democratic state in historic Palestine. He is a co-founder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), established in 2004, which promotes an international institutional boycott of Israel, inspired by that imposed on apartheid South Africa. Here he argues that, in situations of colonial oppression, in particular, intellectuals cannot be neutral, "apolitical," or apathetic towards the struggle for freedom, equality and self-determination.
     "Your essay is great, but can you make it less "˜intellectual,’ less analytical, and more personal?" This was the reaction I received from an editor in New York after submitting an article on art and oppression she had solicited from me for publication in a collection of similar essays. Remarks like this - this was not the first time! - often betray a deep-seated perceived dichotomy, even among those committed to social justice, between intellectuals in the "global North" and their counterparts in the "global South," where the former are better equipped to think, analyze, reflect, create and theorize, while the latter are "naturally" - excuse the Aristotelian allusion - more predisposed to merely exist, experiencing corporal aspects of life and reacting to them.

Shades of Checkpoint Charlie at Rafah Crossing

Haidar Eid writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 7/8/2008
      On Monday 30 June, Gaza was abuzz with the sudden announcement that Egypt would open Rafah Crossing -- the only gateway for 1.5 million Palestinians who have been imprisoned here for almost two years -- for three short days. Although I had good reasons to use the crossing to leave Gaza, I was unsure about pressing my luck to escape, if only for a short while. Past experience has made me graphically and painfully aware that thousands of my fellow Gazans would also try to capitalize on this very rare opportunity suddenly available to us.
     On the one hand, I had also already asked my university to add my name to the list of academics who intended to travel to Egypt to further their studies as I had accepted an invitation to a conference -- to be held at University of Brighton -- in London in September. Moreover, I wanted to be with my wife who is in South Africa, and whom I have not seen for almost two years as a result of the siege. On the other hand, the story of failed attempts to leave Gaza through Rafah Crossing is an agonizingly familiar one to every family in Gaza.

Lost Identity

Maiko Sato, MIFTAH 7/8/2008
      Every time I come through the border to enter Israel, my stress levels reach their highest. Even though I have done nothing to harm anyone nor have I committed any crimes, because I am a returning Palestinian, I fear the possibility of being refused entry into my own country and hence I am plagued with a feeling of guilt. This guilty feeling is triggered by the experience I had at the border in 2004. I was issued an entrance visa valid for only one week even though I claimed that I needed a decent amount of time to visit my family. Of course, the Israelis don’t need to give me any means of justification for their actions. They just make you feel as if you have done something wrong.
     This time, I was only afraid of the duration of my stay - whether they would give me the customary three months entry visa in my capacity as a Japanese citizen. I had not expected at all that I would be denied entry. Shockingly enough, the border control officers said I needed a so called ’returning-visa’ to enter Israel given that I also hold a Jerusalem ID.

Holy Land Lost

James Zogby, Middle East Online 7/8/2008
      The very words "The Holy Land" evoke powerful images. But the pictures that come to mind are rapidly disappearing from the landscape.
     The occupation of the West Bank, once a military and political reality that dominated the lives of Palestinians, has become concretized: with massive housing projects connected by ribbons of highways; a wall and barbed wire barrier wending its way from North to South, cutting through villages, encapsulating others; and hundreds of checkpoints - all overtaking and transforming the once open terrain.
     Raja Shehadeh has described all this in vivid detail in his most recent book, "Palestinian Walks: Forays Into a Vanishing Landscape." A hiker from a young age, Shehadeh tells his story in a novel way. Detailing six walks he has taken in and around his home in Ramallah during the last 30 years, he invites his readers to witness the transformations that have occurred, that increasingly circumscribed his movements, and marred his beloved land.

Cartoon of the day: More than just a chic checkered scarf

MafazAl-Suwaidan, Toronto Star, cartoon by Carlos Latuf, Palestine Think Tank 7/8/2008
      Commentary: Carlos Latuff -- The scarf once seen covering the faces of stone-throwing boys, wrapping the bodies of bullet-pierced babies and shading the creased napes of olive farmersnow makes an appearance on the mannequins of Toronto and the outfits of the richand fabulous of New York.
     And an item of clothing resembling that scarf, called a kaffiyeh, forced Dunkin’ Donuts to pull an ad this week featuring celebrity chef Rachael Ray. Ray wore a black and white scarf in the ad, promoting Dunkin’ Donuts’ iced coffee. Critics said the scarf offered symbolic support for Muslim extremism, The Associated Press reports.
     The controversial kaffiyeh, also known as the hatta or the shemagh, is a cloth about 54 inches squared. Commonly seen on the heads of men in the Middle East, the kaffiyeh was historically used simply as protection from the scorching sun.

Let Vanunu go

Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, The Guardian 7/8/2008
      Twenty-two years after Mordechai Vanunu told the truth about Israel’s nuclear weapons, ordinary people must rally to free him.
     In 1986, a young Israeli man called Mordechai Vanunu followed his conscience and told the world that Israel had a nuclear weapons programme. He was convicted of espionage and treason and sentenced to 18 years in prison. After serving this (12 years of which were in solitary confinement),
     Vanunu was released.
     In April 2004, about 80 people from around the world went to welcome him out of prison. Unbelievably, upon his release Vanunu was made subject to severe restrictions, which forbade him many basic civil liberties (including his right to leave Israel, to speak to foreigners and foreign media) and restricted his travel within Israel.
     Each year, around April 21, Vanunu receives a letter from the prime minister renewing these restrictions, and he starts, yet again, the process of appealing against them through the Israeli courts. Most recently, he has been charged with breaking the restrictions by.

If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix it!

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, Middle East Online 7/8/2008
      If history is any indication, the naval buildup, Israel’s bellicose and expansionist policies, the Iraq war, and Mr. Bush’s personal history of repeated failures, all implication are that America is headed for disaster.
     On July 7th, US navy announced that it would carry out exercises in the Persian Gulf. Commodore Peter Hudson claimed that these exercises were being carried out to protect “maritime infrastructure such as gas and oil installations”.As the expression goes, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.If in the 1980s the United States managed to fool the world into believing that it was protecting the crude oil passage with its naval build up in the Persian Gulf, 20 or so years later it can use the same argument and no one will be the wiser for it.After all, most people think that “relying on foreign oil” is a sin and any act, even ensuring the flow of ‘foreign oil’ justifies provocative US action.
     But before we send our boys to protect our interests in someone else’s back yard, lets examine what happened in the 80s that makes these brave men report for duty so readily, and confident in their success.

Israeli army ransacks, shuts down Nablus organizations

Report, PCHR, Electronic Intifada 7/8/2008
      PCHR strongly condemns Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) for closing several charities and humanitarian organizations in Nablus over the past two days. The Centre calls upon the international community to intervene to put an end to these measures.
     The Center’s preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 1:35 on Monday, 7 July, IOF raided the Benevolent Solidarity Association, the Islamic School for Girls, Benevolent Solidarity Club, Solidarity Mosque, and Solidarity Medical Center in Rafedia Quarter west of Nablus. IOF confiscated medical equipment and computers from the medical center. In addition, IOF issued an order closing the association for three years. The order was signed by the Israeli army commander in the West Bank.
     At approximately 1:00 on Tuesday, 8 July, IOF raided several organizations affiliated with Hamas. IOF closed seven organizations for two years. IOF claimed that these organizations were used to "finance terrorist organizations." The organizations that were closed are: Nablus Mall (owned by the Development, Investment, and Insurance Company), Nafha Association for Prisoners’ Affairs, Federation of Islamic Trade Unions, Scientific Medical Association, Yazour Benevolent Society, Basma Association and Graduates Cultural Forum.